Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4
Charles Dudley Warner
Part 4 out of 11
"If onything, thick in the waist," suggested Jamie.
"I dinna see that," said Sam'l.
"I d'na care for her hair either," continued Jamie, who was very nice in
his tastes; "something mair yallowchy wid be an improvement."
"A'body kins," growled Sam'l, "'at black hair's the bonniest."
The others chuckled.
"Puir Sam'l!" Pete said.
Sam'l, not being certain whether this should be received with a smile or
a frown, opened his mouth wide as a kind of compromise. This was
position one with him for thinking things over.
Few Auld Lichts, as I have said, went the length of choosing a helpmate
for themselves. One day a young man's friends would see him mending the
washing-tub of a maiden's mother. They kept the joke until Saturday
night, and then he learned from them what he had been after. It dazed
him for a time, but in a year or so he grew accustomed to the idea, and
they were then married. With a little help, he fell in love just like
Sam'l was going the way of the others, but he found it difficult to come
to the point. He only went courting once a week, and he could never take
up the running at the place where he left off the Saturday before. Thus
he had not, so far, made great headway. His method of making up to Bell
had been to drop in at T'nowhead on Saturday nights and talk with the
farmer about the rinderpest.
The farm-kitchen was Bell's testimonial. Its chairs, tables, and stools
were scoured by her to the whiteness of Rob Angus's saw-mill boards, and
the muslin blind on the window was starched like a child's pinafore.
Bell was brave, too, as well as energetic. Once Thrums had been overrun
with thieves. It is now thought that there may have been only one; but
he had the wicked cleverness of a gang. Such was his repute, that there
were weavers who spoke of locking their doors when they went from home.
He was not very skillful, however, being generally caught, and when they
said they knew he was a robber he gave them their things back and went
away. If they had given him time there is no doubt that he would have
gone off with his plunder. One night he went to T'nowhead, and Bell, who
slept in the kitchen, was awakened by the noise. She knew who it would
be, so she rose and dressed herself, and went to look for him with a
candle. The thief had not known what to do when he got in, and as it was
very lonely he was glad to see Bell. She told him he ought to be ashamed
of himself, and would not let him out by the door until he had taken off
his boots, so as not to soil the carpet.
On this Saturday evening Sam'l stood his ground in the square, until by
and by he found himself alone. There were other groups there still, but
his circle had melted away. They went separately, and no one said
good-night. Each took himself off slowly, backing out of the group until
he was fairly started.
Sam'l looked about him, and then, seeing that the others had gone,
walked round the town-house into the darkness of the brae that leads
down and then up to the farm of T'nowhead.
To get into the good graces of Lisbeth Fargus you had to know her ways
and humor them. Sam'l, who was a student of women, knew this, and so,
instead of pushing the door open and walking in, he went through the
rather ridiculous ceremony of knocking. Sanders Elshioner was also aware
of this weakness of Lisbeth, but though he often made up his mind to
knock, the absurdity of the thing prevented his doing so when he reached
the door. T'nowhead himself had never got used to his wife's refined
notions, and when any one knocked he always started to his feet,
thinking there must be something wrong.
Lisbeth came to the door, her expansive figure blocking the way in.
"Sam'l," she said.
"Lisbeth," said Sam'l.
He shook hands with the farmer's wife, knowing that she liked it, but
only said, "Ay, Bell," to his sweetheart, "Ay, T'nowhead," to McQuhatty,
and "It's yersel, Sanders," to his rival.
They were all sitting round the fire; T'nowhead with his feet on the
ribs, wondering why he felt so warm, and Bell darned a stocking, while
Lisbeth kept an eye on a goblet full of potatoes.
"Sit in to the fire, Sam'l," said the farmer, not, however, making way
"Na, na," said Sam'l, "I'm to bide nae time." Then he sat in to the
fire. His face was turned away from Bell, and when she spoke he answered
her without looking round. Sam'l felt a little anxious. Sanders
Elshioner, who had one leg shorter than the other, but looked well when
sitting, seemed suspiciously at home. He asked Bell questions out of his
own head, which was beyond Sam'l, and once he said something to her in
such a low voice that the others could not catch it. T'nowhead asked
curiously what it was, and Sanders explained that he had only said, "Ay,
Bell, the morn's the Sabbath." There was nothing startling in this, but
Sam'l did not like it. He began to wonder if he was too late, and had he
seen his opportunity would have told Bell of a nasty rumor, that Sanders
intended to go over to the Free Church if they would make him
Sam'l had the good-will of T'nowhead's wife, who liked a polite man.
Sanders did his best, but from want of practice he constantly made
mistakes. To-night, for instance, he wore his hat in the house, because
he did not like to put up his hand and take it off. T'nowhead had not
taken his off either, but that was because he meant to go out by and by
and lock the byre door. It was impossible to say which of her lovers
Bell preferred. The proper course with an Auld Licht lassie was to
prefer the man who proposed to her.
"Yell bide a wee, an' hae something to eat?" Lisbeth asked Sam'l, with
her eyes on the goblet.
"No, I thank ye," said Sam'l, with true gentility.
"I dinna think it."
"Hoots ay; what's to hender ye?"
"Weel, since ye're sae pressin', I'll bide."
No one asked Sanders to stay. Bell could not, for she was but the
servant, and T'nowhead knew that the kick his wife had given him meant
that he was not to do so either. Sanders whistled to show that he was
"Ay, then, I'll be stappin' ower the brae," he said at last.
He did not go, however. There was sufficient pride in him to get him off
his chair, but only slowly, for he had to get accustomed to the notion
of going. At intervals of two or three minutes he remarked that he must
now be going. In the same circumstances Sam'l would have acted
similarly. For a Thrums man it is one of the hardest things in life to
get away from anywhere.
At last Lisbeth saw that something must be done. The potatoes were
burning, and T'nowhead had an invitation on his tongue.
"Yes, I'll hae to be movin'," said Sanders, hopelessly, for the fifth
"Guid-nicht to ye, then, Sanders," said Lisbeth. "Gie the door a
fling-to ahent ye."
Sanders, with a mighty effort, pulled himself together. He looked boldly
at Bell, and then took off his hat carefully. Sam'l saw with misgivings
that there was something in it which was not a handkerchief. It was a
paper bag glittering with gold braid, and contained such an assortment
of sweets as lads bought for their lasses on the Muckle Friday.
"Hae, Bell," said Sanders, handing the bag to Bell in an off-hand way,
as if it were but a trifle. Nevertheless, he was a little excited, for
he went off without saying good-night.
No one spoke. Bell's face was crimson. T'nowhead fidgeted on his chair,
and Lisbeth looked at Sam'l. The weaver was strangely calm and
collected, though he would have liked to know whether this was
"Sit in by to the table, Sam'l," said Lisbeth, trying to look as if
things were as they had been before.
She put a saucerful of butter, salt, and pepper near the fire to melt,
for melted butter is the shoeing-horn that helps over a meal of
potatoes. Sam'l, however, saw what the hour required, and jumping up, he
seized his bonnet.
"Hing the tatties higher up the joist, Lisbeth," he said with dignity;
"I'se be back in ten meenits."
He hurried out of the house, leaving the others looking at each other.
"What do ye think?" asked Lisbeth.
"I d'na kin," faltered Bell.
"Thae tatties is lang o' comin' to the boil," said T'nowhead.
In some circles a lover who behaved like Sam'l would have been suspected
of intent upon his rival's life, but neither Bell nor Lisbeth did the
weaver that injustice. In a case of this kind it does not much matter
what T'nowhead thought.
The ten minutes had barely passed when Sam'l was back in the
farm-kitchen. He was too flurried to knock this time, and indeed Lisbeth
did not expect it of him.
"Bell, hae!" he cried, handing his sweetheart a tinsel bag twice the
size of Sanders' gift.
"Losh preserve's!" exclaimed Lisbeth; "I'se warrant there's a shillin's
"There's a' that, Lisbeth--an' mair," said Sam'l, firmly.
"I thank ye, Sam'l," said Bell, feeling an unwonted elation as she gazed
at the two paper bags in her lap.
"Ye're ower extravegint, Sam'l," Lisbeth said.
"Not at all," said Sam'l; "not at all. But I wouldna advise ye to eat
thae ither anes, Bell--they're second quality."
Bell drew back a step from Sam'l.
"How do ye kin?" asked the farmer, shortly; for he liked Sanders.
"I speired i' the shop," said Sam'l.
The goblet was placed on a broken plate on the table, with the saucer
beside it, and Sam'l, like the others, helped himself. What he did was
to take potatoes from the pot with his fingers, peel off their coats,
and then dip them into the butter. Lisbeth would have liked to provide
knives and forks, but she knew that beyond a certain point T'nowhead was
master in his own house. As for Sam'l, he felt victory in his hands, and
began to think that he had gone too far.
In the meantime, Sanders, little witting that Sam'l had trumped his
trick, was sauntering along the kirk-wynd with his hat on the side of
his head. Fortunately he did not meet the minister.
The courting of T'nowhead's Bell reached its crisis one Sabbath about a
month after the events above recorded. The minister was in great force
that day, but it is no part of mine to tell how he bore himself. I was
there, and am not likely to forget the scene. It was a fateful Sabbath
for T'nowhead's Bell and her swains, and destined to be remembered for
the painful scandal which they perpetrated in their passion.
Bell was not in the kirk. There being an infant of six months in the
house, it was a question of either Lisbeth or the lassie's staying at
home with him, and though Lisbeth was unselfish in a general way, she
could not resist the delight of going to church. She had nine children
besides the baby, and being but a woman, it was the pride of her life to
march them into the T'nowhead pew, so well watched that they dared not
disbehave, and so tightly packed that they could not fall. The
congregation looked at that pew, the mothers enviously, when they sung
"Jerusalem like a city is
Compactly built together."
The first half of the service had been gone through on this particular
Sunday without anything remarkable happening. It was at the end of the
psalm which preceded the sermon that Sanders Elshioner, who sat near the
door, lowered his head until it was no higher than the pews, and in that
attitude, looking almost like a four-footed animal, slipped out of the
church. In their eagerness to be at the sermon, many of the congregation
did not notice him, and those who did, put the matter by in their minds
for future investigation. Sam'l, however, could not take it so coolly.
From his seat in the gallery he saw Sanders disappear and his mind
misgave him. With the true lover's instinct, he understood it all.
Sanders had been struck by the fine turn-out in the T'nowhead pew. Bell
was alone at the farm. What an opportunity to work one's way up to a
proposal. T'nowhead was so overrun with children that such a chance
seldom occurred, except on a Sabbath. Sanders, doubtless, was off to
propose, and he, Sam'l, was left behind.
The suspense was terrible. Sam'l and Sanders had both known all along
that Bell would take the first of the two who asked her. Even those who
thought her proud admitted that she was modest. Bitterly the weaver
repented having waited so long. Now it was too late. In ten minutes
Sanders would be at T'nowhead; in an hour all would be over. Sam'l rose
to his feet in a daze. His mother pulled him down by the coat-tail, and
his father shook him, thinking he was walking in his sleep. He tottered
past them, however, hurried up the aisle, which was so narrow that Dan'l
Ross could only reach his seat by walking sideways, and was gone before
the minister could do more than stop in the middle of a whirl and gape
in horror after him.
A number of the congregation felt that day the advantage of sitting in
the laft. What was a mystery to those down-stairs was revealed to them.
From the gallery windows they had a fine open view to the south; and as
Sam'l took the common, which was a short cut, though a steep ascent, to
T'nowhead, he was never out of their line of vision. Sanders was not to
be seen, but they guessed rightly the reason why. Thinking he had ample
time, he had gone round by the main road to save his boots--perhaps a
little scared by what was coming. Sam'l's design was to forestall him by
taking the shorter path over the burn and up the commonty.
It was a race for a wife, and several onlookers in the gallery braved
the minister's displeasure to see who won. Those who favored Sam'l's
suit exultingly saw him leap the stream, while the friends of Sanders
fixed their eyes on the top of the common where it ran into the road.
Sanders must come into sight there, and the one who reached this point
first would get Bell.
As Auld Lichts do not walk abroad on the Sabbath, Sanders would probably
not be delayed. The chances were in his favor. Had it been any other day
in the week, Sam'l might have run. So some of the congregation in the
gallery were thinking, when suddenly they saw him bend low and then take
to his heels. He had caught sight of Sanders's head bobbing over the
hedge that separated the road from the common, and feared that Sanders
might see him. The congregation who could crane their necks sufficiently
saw a black object, which they guessed to be the carter's hat, crawling
along the hedge-top. For a moment it was motionless, and then it shot
ahead. The rivals had seen each other. It was now a hot race. Sam'l,
dissembling no longer, clattered up the common, becoming smaller and
smaller to the onlookers as he neared the top. More than one person in
the gallery almost rose to their feet in their excitement. Sam'l had it.
No, Sanders was in front. Then the two figures disappeared from view.
They seemed to run into each other at the top of the brae, and no one
could say who was first. The congregation looked at one another. Some
of them perspired. But the minister held on his course.
Sam'l had just been in time to cut Sanders out. It was the weaver's
saving that Sanders saw this when his rival turned the corner; for Sam'l
was sadly blown. Sanders took in the situation and gave in at once. The
last hundred yards of the distance he covered at his leisure, and when
he arrived at his destination he did not go in. It was a fine afternoon
for the time of year, and he went round to have a look at the pig, about
which T'nowhead was a little sinfully puffed up.
"Ay," said Sanders, digging his fingers critically into the grunting
animal; "quite so."
"Grumph!" said the pig, getting reluctantly to his feet.
"Ou ay; yes," said Sanders, thoughtfully.
Then he sat down on the edge of the sty, and looked long and silently at
an empty bucket. But whether his thoughts were of T'nowhead's Bell, whom
he had lost forever, or of the food the farmer fed his pig on, is
"Lord preserve's! Are ye no at the kirk?" cried Bell, nearly dropping
the baby as Sam'l broke into the room.
"Bell!" cried Sam'l.
Then T'nowhead's Bell knew that her hour had come.
"Sam'l," she faltered.
"Will ye hae's, Bell?" demanded Sam'l, glaring at her sheepishly.
"Ay," answered Bell.
Sam'l fell into a chair.
"Bring's a drink o' water, Bell," he said.
But Bell thought the occasion required milk, and there was none in the
kitchen. She went out to the byre, still with the baby in her arms, and
saw Sanders Elshioner sitting gloomily on the pig-sty.
"Weel, Bell," said Sanders.
"I thocht ye'd been at the kirk, Sanders," said Bell.
Then there was a silence between them.
"Has Sam'l speired ye, Bell?" asked Sanders, stolidly.
"Ay," said Bell again, and this time there was a tear in her eye.
Sanders was little better than an "orra man," and Sam'l was a
weaver, and yet--
But it was too late now. Sanders gave the pig a vicious poke with a
stick, and when it had ceased to grunt, Bell was back in the kitchen.
She had forgotten about the milk, however, and Sam'l only got water
In after days, when the story of Bell's wooing was told, there were some
who held that the circumstances would have almost justified the lassie
in giving Sam'l the go-by. But these perhaps forgot that her other lover
was in the same predicament as the accepted one--that, of the two,
indeed, he was the more to blame, for he set off to T'nowhead on the
Sabbath of his own accord, while Sam'l only ran after him. And then
there is no one to say for certain whether Bell heard of her suitors'
delinquencies until Lisbeth's return from the kirk. Sam'l could never
remember whether he told her, and Bell was not sure whether, if he did,
she took it in. Sanders was greatly in demand for weeks after to tell
what he knew of the affair, but though he was twice asked to tea to the
manse among the trees, and subjected thereafter to ministerial
cross-examinations, this is all he told. He remained at the pigsty until
Sam'l left the farm, when he joined him at the top of the brae, and they
went home together.
"It's yersel, Sanders," said Sam'l.
"It is so, Sam'l," said Sanders.
"Very cauld," said Sam'l.
"Blawy," assented Sanders.
After a pause--
"Sam'l," said Sanders.
"I'm hearin' yer to be mairit."
"Weel, Sam'l, she's a snod bit lassie."
"Thank ye," said Sam'l.
"I had ance a kin' o' notion o' Bell mysel," continued Sanders.
"Yes, Sam'l; but I thocht better o't."
"Hoo d'ye mean?" asked Sam'l, a little anxiously.
"Weel, Sam'l, mairitch is a terrible responsibeelity."
"It is so," said Sam'l, wincing.
"An' no the thing to take up withoot conseederation."
"But it's a blessed and honorable state, Sanders; ye've heard the
"They say," continued the relentless Sanders, "'at the minister doesna
get on sair wi' the wife himsel."
"So they do," cried Sam'l, with a sinking at the heart.
"I've been telt," Sanders went on, "'at gin you can get the upper han'
o' the wife for awhile at first, there's the mair chance o' a harmonious
"Bell's no the lassie," said Sam'l, appealingly, "to thwart her man."
"D'ye think she is, Sanders?"
"Weel, Sam'l, I d'na want to fluster ye, but she's been ower lang wi'
Lisbeth Fargus no to hae learnt her ways. An' a'body kins what a life
T'nowhead has wi' her."
"Guid sake, Sanders, hoo did ye no speak o' this afoore?"
"I thocht ye kent o't, Sam'l."
They had now reached the square, and the U.P. kirk was coming out. The
Auld Licht kirk would be half an hour yet.
"But, Sanders," said Sam'l, brightening up, "ye was on yer wy to spier
"I was, Sam'l," said Sanders, "and I canna but be thankfu' ye was ower
"Gin't hadna been for you," said Sam'l, "I wid never hae thocht o't."
"I'm sayin' naething agin Bell," pursued the other, "but, man Sam'l, a
body should be mair deleeberate in a thing o' the kind."
"It was michty hurried," said Sam'l, wofully.
"It's a serious thing to spier a lassie," said Sanders.
"It's an awfu' thing," said Sam'l.
"But we'll hope for the best," added Sanders, in a hopeless, voice.
They were close to the Tenements now, and Sam'l looked as if he were on
his way to be hanged.
"Did ye--did ye kiss her, Sam'l?"
"There's was varra little time, Sanders."
"Half an 'oor," said Sanders.
"Was there? Man Sanders, to tell ye the truth, I never thocht o't."
Then the soul of Sanders Elshioner was filled with contempt for Sam'l
The scandal blew over. At first it was expected that the minister would
interfere to prevent the union, but beyond intimating from the pulpit
that the souls of Sabbath-breakers were beyond praying for, and then
praying for Sam'l and Sanders at great length, with a word thrown in for
Bell, he let things take their course. Some said it was because he was
always frightened lest his young men should intermarry with other
denominations, but Sanders explained it differently to Sam'l.
"I hav'na a word to say agin the minister," he said; "they're gran'
prayers, but Sam'l, he's a mairit man himsel."
"He's a' the better for that, Sanders, isna he?"
"Do ye no see," asked Sanders, compassionately, "'at he's tryin' to mak
the best o't?"
"Oh, Sanders, man!" said Sam'l.
"Cheer up, Sam'l," said Sanders; "it'll sune be ower."
Their having been rival suitors had not interfered with their
friendship. On the contrary, while they had hitherto been mere
acquaintances, they became inseparables as the wedding-day drew near. It
was noticed that they had much to say to each other, and that when they
could not get a room to themselves they wandered about together in the
churchyard. When Sam'l had anything to tell Bell, he sent Sanders to
tell it, and Sanders did as he was bid. There was nothing that he would
not have done for Sam'l.
The more obliging Sanders was, however, the sadder Sam'l grew. He never
laughed now on Saturdays, and sometimes his loom was silent half the
day. Sam'l felt that Sanders's was the kindness of a friend for a
It was to be a penny wedding, and Lisbeth Fargus said it was delicacy
that made Sam'l superintend the fitting-up of the barn by deputy. Once
he came to see it in person, but he looked so ill that Sanders had to
see him home. This was on the Thursday afternoon, and the wedding was
fixed for Friday.
"Sanders, Sanders," said Sam'l, in a voice strangely unlike his own,
"it'll a' be ower by this time the morn."
"It will," said Sanders.
"If I had only kent her langer," continued Sam'l.
"It wid hae been safer," said Sanders.
"Did ye see the yallow floor in Bell's bonnet?" asked the accepted
"Ay," said Sanders, reluctantly.
"I'm dootin'--I'm sair dootin' she's but a flichty, licht-hearted
crittur, after a'."
"I had ay my suspeecions o't," said Sanders.
"Ye hae kent her langer than me," said Sam'l.
"Yes," said Sanders, "but there's nae gettin' at the heart o' women. Man
Sam'l, they're desperate cunnin'."
"I'm dootin't; I'm sair dootin't."
"It'll be a warnin' to ye, Sam'l, no to be in sic a hurry i' the futur,"
"Ye'll be gaein up to the manse to arrange wi' the minister the morn's
mornin'," continued Sanders, in a subdued voice.
Sam'l looked wistfully at his friend.
"I canna do't, Sanders," he said, "I canna do't."
"Ye maun," said Sanders.
"It's aisy to speak," retorted Sam'l, bitterly.
"We have a' oor troubles, Sam'l," said Sanders, soothingly, "an' every
man maun bear his ain burdens. Johnny Davie's wife's dead, an' he's no
"Ay," said Sam'l, "but a death's no a mairitch. We hae haen deaths in
our family, too."
"It may a' be for the best," added Sanders, "an' there wid be a michty
talk i' the hale country-side gin ye didna ging to the minister like
"I maun hae langer to think o't," said Sam'l.
"Bell's mairitch is the morn," said Sanders, decisively.
Sam'l glanced up with a wild look in his eyes.
"Sanders!" he cried.
"Ye hae been a guid friend to me, Sanders, in this sair affliction."
"Nothing ava," said Sanders; "dount mention't."
"But, Sanders, ye canna deny but what your rinnin oot o' the kirk that
awfu' day was at the bottom o't a'."
"It was so," said Sanders, bravely.
"An' ye used to be fond o' Bell, Sanders."
"I dinna deny't."
"Sanders, laddie," said Sam'l, bending forward and speaking in a
wheedling voice, "I aye thocht it was you she likit."
"I had some sic idea mysel," said Sanders.
"Sanders, I canna think to pairt twa fowk sae weel suited to ane
anither as you an' Bell."
"Canna ye, Sam'l?"
"She wid make ye a guid wife, Sanders. I hae studied her weel, and she's
a thrifty, douce, clever lassie. Sanders, there's no the like o' her.
Mony a time, Sanders, I hae said to mysel, There's a lass ony man micht
be prood to tak. A'body says the same, Sanders. There's nae risk ava,
man; nane to speak o'. Tak her, laddie, tak her, Sanders, it's a grand
chance, Sanders. She's yours for the speirin. I'll gie her up, Sanders."
"Will ye, though?" said Sanders.
"What d'ye think?" asked Sam'l.
"If ye wid rayther," said Sanders, politely.
"There's my han' on't," said Sam'l. "Bless ye, Sanders; ye've been a
true frien' to me."
Then they shook hands for the first time in their lives; and soon
afterward Sanders struck up the brae to T'nowhead.
Next morning Sanders Elshioner, who had been very busy the night before,
put on his Sabbath clothes and strolled up to the manse.
"But--but where is Sam'l?" asked the minister. "I must see himself."
"It's a new arrangement," said Sanders.
"What do you mean, Sanders?"
"Bell's to marry me," explained Sanders.
"But--- but what does Sam'l say?"
"He's willin'," said Sanders.
"She's willin', too. She prefers it."
"It is unusual," said the minister.
"It's a' richt," said Sanders.
"Well, you know best," said the minister.
"You see, the hoose was taen, at ony rate," continued Sanders. "An' I'll
juist ging in til't instead o' Sam'l."
"An" I cudna think to disappoint the lassie."
"Your sentiments do you credit, Sanders," said the minister; "but I hope
you do not enter upon the blessed state of matrimony without full
consideration of its responsibilities. It is a serious business,
"It's a' that," said Sanders; "but I'm willin' to stan' the risk."
So, as soon as it could be done, Sanders Elshioner took to wife
T'nowhead's Bell, and I remember seeing Sam'l Dickie trying to dance at
the penny wedding.
Years afterward it was said in Thrums that Sam'l had treated Bell badly,
but he was never sure about it himself.
"It was a near thing--a michty near thing," he admitted in the square.
"They say," some other weaver would remark, "'at it was you Bell liked
"I d'na kin," Sam'l would reply, "but there's nae doot the lassie was
fell fond o' me. Ou, a mere passin' fancy's ye micht say."
JESS LEFT ALONE
From 'A Window in Thrums'
There may be a few who care to know how the lives of Jess and Hendry
ended. Leeby died in the back end of the year I have been speaking of,
and as I was snowed up in the school-house at the time, I heard the news
from Gavin Birse too late to attend her funeral. She got her death on
the commonty one day of sudden rain, when she had run out to bring in
her washing, for the terrible cold she woke with next morning carried
her off very quickly. Leeby did not blame Jamie for not coming to her,
nor did I, for I knew that even in the presence of death the poor must
drag their chains. He never got Hendry's letter with the news, and we
know now that he was already in the hands of her who played the devil
with his life. Before the spring came he had been lost to Jess.
"Them 'at has got sae mony blessin's mair than the generality," Hendry
said to me one day, when Craigiebuckle had given me a lift into Thrums,
"has nae shame if they would pray aye for mair. The Lord has gi'en this
hoose sae muckle, 'at to pray for mair looks like no bein' thankfu' for
what we've got. Ay, but I canna help prayin' to Him 'at in His great
mercy he'll tak Jess afore me. Noo 'at Leeby's gone, an' Jamie never
lets us hear frae him, I canna gulp doon the thocht o' Jess bein'
This was a prayer that Hendry may be pardoned for having so often in his
heart, though God did not think fit to grant it. In Thrums, when a
weaver died, his women-folk had to take his seat at the loom, and those
who, by reason of infirmities, could not do so, went to a place, the
name of which, I thank God, I am not compelled to write in this chapter.
I could not, even at this day, have told any episode in the life of Jess
had it ended in the poor house.
Hendry would probably have recovered from the fever had not this
terrible dread darkened his intellect when he was still prostrate. He
was lying in the kitchen when I saw him last in life, and his parting
words must be sadder to the reader than they were to me.
"Ay, richt ye are," he said, in a voice that had become a child's; "I
hae muckle, muckle to be thankfu' for, an' no the least is 'at baith me
an' Jess has aye belonged to a bural society. We hae nae cause to be
anxious aboot a' thing bein' dune respectable aince we're gone. It was
Jess 'at insisted on oor joinin': a' the wisest things I ever did I was
put up to by her."
I parted from Hendry, cheered by the doctor's report, but the old weaver
died a few days afterward. His end was mournful, yet I can recall it now
as the not unworthy close of a good man's life. One night poor worn Jess
had been helped ben into the room, Tibbie Birse having undertaken to sit
up with Hendry.
Jess slept for the first time for many days, and as the night was dying
Tibbie fell asleep too. Hendry had been better than usual, lying
quietly, Tibbie said, and the fever was gone. About three o'clock Tibbie
woke and rose to mend the fire. Then she saw that Hendry was not in
Tibbie went ben the house in her stocking soles, but Jess heard her.
"What is't, Tibbie?" she asked, anxiously.
"Ou, it's no naething," Tibbie said; "he's lyin' rale quiet."
Then she went up to the attic. Hendry was not in the house.
She opened the door gently and stole out. It was not snowing, but there
had been a heavy fall two days before, and the night was windy. A
tearing gale had blown the upper part of the brae clear, and from
T'nowhead's fields the snow was rising like smoke. Tibbie ran to the
farm and woke up T'nowhead.
For an hour they looked in vain for Hendry. At last some one asked who
was working in Elshioner's shop all night. This was the long
earthen-floored room in which Hendry's loom stood with three others.
"It'll be Sanders Whamond likely," T'nowhead said, and the other men
But it happened that T'nowhead's Bell, who had flung on a wrapper, and
hastened across to sit with Jess, heard of the light in
"It's Hendry," she cried; and then every one moved toward the workshop.
The light at the diminutive, darn-covered window was pale and dim, but
Bell, who was at the house first, could make the most of a
"It's him," she said; and then, with swelling throat, she ran back to
The door of the workshop was wide open, held against the wall by the
wind. T'nowhead and the others went in. The cruizey stood on the little
window. Hendry's back was to the door, and he was leaning forward on the
silent loom. He had been dead for some time, but his fellow-workers saw
that he must have weaved for nearly an hour.
So it came about that for the last few months of her pilgrimage Jess was
left alone. Yet I may not say that she was alone. Jamie, who should have
been with her, was undergoing his own ordeal far away; where, we did not
now even know. But though the poorhouse stands in Thrums, where all may
see it, the neighbors did not think only of themselves.
Than Tammas Haggart there can scarcely have been a poorer man, but
Tammas was the first to come forward with offer of help. To the day of
Jess's death he did not once fail to carry her water to her in the
morning, and the luxuriously living men of Thrums in these present days
of pumps at every corner, can hardly realize what that meant. Often
there were lines of people at the well by three o'clock in the morning,
and each had to wait his turn. Tammas filled his own pitcher and pan,
and then had to take his place at the end of the line with Jess's
pitcher and pan, to wait his turn again. His own house was in the
Tenements, far from the brae in winter time, but he always said to Jess
it was "naething ava."
Every Saturday old Robbie Angus sent a bag of sticks and shavings from
the sawmill by his little son Rob, who was afterward to become a man for
speaking about at nights. Of all the friends that Jess and Hendry had,
T'nowhead was the ablest to help, and the sweetest memory I have of the
farmer and his wife is the delicate way they offered it. You who read
will see Jess wince at the offer of charity. But the poor have fine
feelings beneath the grime, as you will discover if you care to look for
them; and when Jess said she would bake if anyone would buy, you would
wonder to hear how many kindly folk came to her door for scones.
She had the house to herself at nights, but Tibbie Birse was with her
early in the morning, and other neighbors dropped in. Not for long did
she have to wait the summons to the better home.
"Na," she said to the minister, who has told me that he was a better man
from knowing her, "my thocht is no nane set on the vanities o' the world
noo. I kenna hoo I could ever hae haen sic an ambeetion to hae thae
I have tried to keep away from Jamie, whom the neighbors sometimes
upbraided in her presence. It is of him you who read would like to hear,
and I cannot pretend that Jess did not sit at her window looking
"Even when she was bakin'," Tibbie told me, "she aye had an eye on the
brae. If Jamie had come at ony time when it was licht she would hae seen
'im as sune as he turned the corner."
"If he ever comes back, the sacket" (rascal), T'nowhead said to Jess,
"we'll show 'im the door gey quick."
Jess just looked, and all the women knew how she would take Jamie to her
We did not know of the London woman then, and Jess never knew of her.
Jamie's mother never for an hour allowed that he had become anything but
the loving laddie of his youth.
"I ken 'im ower weel," she always said, "my ain Jamie."
Toward the end she was sure he was dead. I do not know when she first
made up her mind to this, nor whether it was not merely a phrase for
those who wanted to discuss him with her. I know that she still sat at
the window looking at the elbow of the brae.
The minister was with her when she died. She was in her chair, and he
asked her, as was his custom, if there was any particular chapter which
she would like him to read. Since her husband's death she had always
asked for the fourteenth of John, "Hendry's chapter," as it is still
called among a very few old people in Thrums. This time she asked him to
read the sixteenth chapter of Genesis.
"When I came to the thirteenth verse," the minister told me, "'And she
called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me,' she
covered her face with her two hands, and said, 'Joey's text, Joey's
text. Oh, but I grudged ye sair, Joey.'"
"I shut the book," the minister said, "when I came to the end of the
chapter, and then I saw that she was dead. It is my belief that her
heart broke one-and-twenty years ago."
AFTER THE SERMON
From 'The Little Minister': by permission of the American Publishers'
One may gossip in a glen on Sabbaths, though not in a town, without
losing his character, and I used to await the return of my neighbor, the
farmer of Waster Lunny, and of Birse, the Glen Quharity post, at the end
of the school-house path. Waster Lunny was a man whose care in his
leisure hours was to keep from his wife his great pride in her. His
horse, Catlaw, on the other hand, he told outright what he thought of
it, praising it to its face and blackguarding it as it deserved, and I
have seen him, when completely baffled by the brute, sit down before it
on a stone and thus harangue:--"You think you're clever, Catlaw, my
lass, but you're mista'en. You're a thrawn limmer, that's what you are.
You think you have blood in you. You ha'e blood! Gae awa, and dinna
blether. I tell you what, Catlaw, I met a man yestreen that kent your
mither, and he says she was a feikie, fushionless besom. What do you
say to that?"
[Footnote 3: Feikie, over-particular.]
As for the post, I will say no more of him than that his bitter topic
was the unreasonableness of humanity, which treated him graciously when
he had a letter for it, but scowled at him when he had none, "aye
implying that I ha'e a letter, but keep it back."
On the Sabbath evening after the riot, I stood at the usual place
awaiting my friends, and saw before they reached me that they had
something untoward to tell. The farmer, his wife, and three children,
holding each other's hands, stretched across the road. Birse was a
little behind, but a conversation was being kept up by shouting. All
were walking the Sabbath pace, and the family having started half a
minute in advance, the post had not yet made up on them.
"It's sitting to snaw," Waster Lunny said, drawing near, and just as I
was to reply, "It is so," Silva slipped in the words before me.
"You wasna at the kirk," was Elspeth's salutation. I had been at the
glen church, but did not contradict her, for it is Established, and so
neither here nor there. I was anxious, too, to know what their long
faces meant, and therefore asked at once,--"Was Mr. Dishart on
"Forenoon, ay; afternoon, no," replied Waster Lunny, walking round his
wife to get nearer me. "Dominie, a queery thing happened in the kirk
this day, sic as--"
"Waster Lunny," interrupted Elspeth sharply, "have you on your Sabbath
shoon or have you no on your Sabbath shoon?"
"Guid care you took I should ha'e the dagont oncanny things on,"
retorted the farmer.
"Keep out o' the gutter, then," said Elspeth, "on the Lord's day."
"Him," said her man, "that is forced by a foolish woman to wear genteel
'lastic-sided boots canna forget them until he takes them aff. Whaur's
the extra reverence in wearing shoon twa sizes ower sma'?"
"It mayna be mair reverent," suggested Birse, to whom Elspeth's kitchen
was a pleasant place, "but it's grand, and you canna expect to be baith
grand and comfortable."
I reminded them that they were speaking of Mr. Dishart.
"We was saying," began the post briskly, "that--"
"It was me that was saying it," said Waster Lunny. "So, Dominie--"
"Haud your gabs, baith o' you," interrupted Elspeth. "You've been
roaring the story to one another till you're hoarse."
"In the forenoon," Waster Lunny went on determinedly, "Mr. Dishart
preached on the riot, and fine he was. Oh, dominie, you should hae heard
him ladling it on to Lang Tammas, no by name, but in sic a way that
there was no mistaking wha he was preaching at. Sal! oh, losh! Tammas
got it strong."
"But he's dull in the uptake," broke in the post, "by what I expected.
I spoke to him after the sermon, and I says, just to see if he was
properly humbled:--'Ay, Tammas,' I says, 'them that discourse was
preached against winna think themselves seven-feet men for a while
again.' 'Ay, Birse,' he answers, 'and glad I am to hear you admit it,
for he had you in his eye.' I was fair scunnered at Tammas the day."
"Mr. Dishart was preaching at the whole clan-jamfray o' you," said
"Maybe he was," said her husband, leering; "but you needna cast it at
us, for my certie, if the men got it frae him in the forenoon, the women
got it in the afternoon."
"He redd them up most michty," said the post. "Thae was his very words
or something like them:--'Adam,' says he, 'was an erring man, but aside
Eve he was respectable.'"
"Ay, but it wasna a' women he meant," Elspeth explained, "for when he
said that, he pointed his finger direct at T'nowhead's lassie, and I
hope it'll do her good."
"But, I wonder," I said, "that Mr. Dishart chose such a subject to-day.
I thought he would be on the riot at both services."
"You'll wonder mair," said Elspeth, "when you hear what happened afore
he began the afternoon sermon. But I canna get in a word wi' that man
"We've been speaking about it," said Birse, "ever since we left the kirk
door. Tod, we've been sawing it like seed a' alang the glen."
"And we meant to tell you about it at once," said Waster Lunny; "but
there's aye so muckle to say about a minister. Dagont, to hae ane keeps
a body out o' languor. Aye, but this breaks the drum. Dominie, either
Mr. Dishart wasna weel or he was in the devil's grip."
This startled me, for the farmer was looking serious.
"He was weel eneuch," said Birse, "for a heap o' fowk spiered at Jean if
he had ta'en his porridge as usual, and she admitted he had. But the
lassie was skeered hersel', and said it was a mercy Mrs. Dishart wasna
in the kirk."
"Why was she not there?" I asked anxiously.
"Ou, he winna let her out in sic weather."
"I wish you would tell me what happened," I said to Elspeth.
"So I will," she answered, "if Waster Lunny would haud his wheest for a
minute. You see the afternoon diet began in the ordinary way, and a'
was richt until we came to the sermon. 'You will find my text,' he says,
in his piercing voice, 'in the eighth chapter of Ezra.'"
"And at thae words," said Waster Lunny, "my heart gae a loup, for Ezra
is an unca ill book to find; ay, and so is Ruth."
"I kent the books o' the Bible by heart," said Elspeth, scornfully,
"when I was a sax-year-auld."
"So did I," said Waster Lunny, "and I ken them yet, except when I'm
hurried. When Mr. Dishart gave out Ezra he a sort o' keeked round the
kirk to find out if he had puzzled onybody, and so there was a kind o' a
competition among the congregation wha would lay hand on it first. That
was what doited me. Ay, there was Ruth when she wasna wanted, but Ezra,
dagont, it looked as if Ezra had jumped clean out o' the Bible."
"You wasna the only distressed crittur," said his wife. "I was ashamed
to see Eppie McLaren looking up the order o' the books at the beginning
o' the Bible."
"Tibbie Birse was even mair brazen," said the post, "for the sly cuttie
opened at Kings and pretended it was Ezra."
"None o' thae things would I do," said Waster Lunny, "and sal, I
dauredna, for Davit Lunan was glowering ower my shuther. Ay, you may
scowl at me, Elspeth Proctor, but as far back as I can mind Ezra has
done me. Mony a time afore I start for the kirk I take my Bible to a
quiet place and look Ezra up. In the very pew I says canny to mysel',
'Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job,' the which should be a help, but the
moment the minister gi'es out that awfu' book, away goes Ezra like the
"And you after her," said Elspeth, "like the weavers that wouldna fecht.
You make a windmill of your Bible."
"Oh, I winna admit I'm beat. Never mind, there's queer things in the
world forby Ezra. How is cripples aye so puffed up mair than other folk?
How does flour-bread aye fall on the buttered side?"
"I will mind," Elspeth said, "for I was terrified the minister would
admonish you frae the pulpit."
"He couldna hae done that, for was he no baffled to find Ezra himsel'?"
"Him no find Ezra!" cried Elspeth. "I hae telled you a dozen times he
found it as easy as you could yoke a horse."
"The thing can be explained in no other way," said her husband doggedly;
"if he was weel and in sound mind."
"Maybe the dominie can clear it up," suggested the post, "him being a
"Then tell me what happened," I asked.
"Man, hae we no telled you?" Birse said. "I thocht we had."
"It was a terrible scene," said Elspeth, giving her husband a shove. "As
I said, Mr. Dishart gave out Ezra eighth. Weel, I turned it up in a
jiffy, and syne looked cautiously to see how Eppie McLaren was getting
on. Just at that minute I heard a groan frae the pulpit. It didna stop
short o' a groan. Ay, you may be sure I looked quick at the minister,
and there I saw a sicht that would hae made the grandest gape. His face
was as white as a baker's, and he had a sort of fallen against the back
o' the pulpit, staring demented-like at his open Bible."
"And I saw him," said Birse, "put up his hand atween him and the Book,
as if he thocht it was to jump at him."
"Twice," said Elspeth, "he tried to speak, and twice he let the words
"That," said Waster Lunny, "the whole congregation admits, but I didna
see it mysel', for a' this time you may picture me hunting savage-like
for Ezra. I thocht the minister was waiting till I found it."
"Hendry Munn," said Birse, "stood upon one leg, wondering whether he
should run to the session-house for a glass of water."
"But by that time," said Elspeth, "the fit had left Mr. Dishart, or
rather it had ta'en a new turn. He grew red, and it's gospel that he
stamped his foot."
"He had the face of one using bad words," said the post. "He didna
swear, of course, but that was the face he had on."
"I missed it," said Waster Lunny, "for I was in full cry after Ezra,
with the sweat running down my face."
"But the most astounding thing has yet to be telled," went on Elspeth.
"The minister shook himsel' like one wakening frae a nasty dream, and he
cries in a voice of thunder, just as if he was shaking his fist at
"He cries," Birse interposed, cleverly, "he cries, 'You will find the
text in Genesis, chapter three, verse six.'"
"Yes," said Elspeth, "first he gave out one text, and then he gave out
another, being the most amazing thing to my mind that ever happened in
the town of Thrums. What will our children's children think o't? I
wouldna ha'e missed it for a pound note."
"Nor me," said Waster Lunny, "though I only got the tail o't. Dominie,
no sooner had he said Genesis third and sixth, than I laid my finger on
Ezra. Was it no provoking? Onybody can turn up Genesis, but it needs an
able-bodied man to find Ezra."
"He preached on the Fall," Elspeth said, "for an hour and twenty-five
minutes, but powerful though he was I would rather he had telled us what
made him gie the go-by to Ezra."
"All I can say," said Waster Lunny, "is that I never heard him mair
awe-inspiring. Whaur has he got sic a knowledge of women? He riddled
them, he fair riddled them, till I was ashamed o' being married."
"It's easy kent whaur he got his knowledge of women," Birse explained,
"it's a' in the original Hebrew. You can howk ony mortal thing out o'
the original Hebrew, the which all ministers hae at their finger ends.
What else makes them ken to jump a verse now and then when giving out
"It wasna women like me he denounced," Elspeth insisted, "but young
lassies that leads men astray wi' their abominable wheedling ways."
"Tod," said her husband, "if they try their hands on Mr. Dishart they'll
meet their match."
"They will," chuckled the post. "The Hebrew's a grand thing, though
teuch, I'm telled, michty teuch."
"His sublimest burst," Waster Lunny came back to tell me, "was about the
beauty o' the soul being everything and the beauty o' the face no worth
a snuff. What a scorn he has for bonny faces and toom souls! I dinna
deny but what a bonny face fell takes me, but Mr. Dishart wouldna gi'e a
blade o' grass for't. Ay, and I used to think that in their foolishness
about women there was dagont little differ atween the unlearned and the
THE MUTUAL DISCOVERY
From 'The Little Minister': by permission of the American Publishers'
A young man thinks that he alone of mortals is impervious to love, and
so the discovery that he is in it suddenly alters his views of his own
mechanism. It is thus not unlike a rap on the funny-bone. Did Gavin make
this discovery when the Egyptian left him? Apparently he only came to
the brink of it and stood blind. He had driven her from him for ever,
and his sense of loss was so acute that his soul cried out for the cure
rather than for the name of the malady.
In time he would have realized what had happened, but time was denied
him, for just as he was starting for the mudhouse Babbie saved his
dignity by returning to him.... She looked up surprised, or seemingly
surprised, to find him still there.
"I thought you had gone away long ago," she said stiffly.
"Otherwise," asked Gavin the dejected, "you would not have came back to
"I am very sorry. Had you waited another moment I should have been
This was said in apology, but the willful Egyptian chose to change its
"You have no right to blame me for disturbing you," she declared with
"I did not. I only--"
"You could have been a mile away by this time. Nanny wanted more water."
Babbie scrutinized the minister sharply as she made this statement.
Surely her conscience troubled her, for on his not answering immediately
she said, "Do you presume to disbelieve me? What could have made me
return except to fill the pans again?"
"Nothing," Gavin admitted eagerly, "and I assure you---"
Babbie should have been grateful to his denseness, but it merely set her
mind at rest.
"Say anything against me you choose," she told him. "Say it as brutally
as you like, for I won't listen."
She stopped to hear his response to that, and she looked so cold that it
almost froze on Gavin's lips.
"I had no right," he said dolefully, "to speak to you as I did."
"You had not," answered the proud Egyptian. She was looking away from
him to show that his repentance was not even interesting to her.
However, she had forgotten already not to listen....
She was very near him, and the tears had not yet dried on her eyes. They
were laughing eyes, eyes in distress, imploring eyes. Her pale face,
smiling, sad, dimpled yet entreating forgiveness, was the one prominent
thing in the world to him just then. He wanted to kiss her. He would do
it as soon as her eyes rested on his, but she continued without
"How mean that sounds! Oh, if I were a man I would wish to be everything
that I am not, and nothing that I am. I would scorn to be a liar, I
would choose to be open in all things, I would try to fight the world
honestly. But I am only a woman, and so--well, that is the kind of man I
would like to marry."
"A minister may be all these things," said Gavin breathlessly.
"The man I could love," Babbie went on, not heeding him, almost
forgetting that he was there, "must not spend his days in idleness as
the men I know do."
"I do not."
"He must be brave, no mere worker among others, but a leader of men."
"All ministers are."
"Who makes his influence felt."
"And takes the side of the weak against the strong, even though the
strong be in the right."
"Always my tendency."
"A man who has a mind of his own, and having once made it up stands to
it in defiance even of--"
"Of his session."
"Of the world. He must understand me."
"And be my master."
"It is his lawful position in the house."
"He must not yield to my coaxing or tempers."
"It would be weakness."
"But compel me to do his bidding; yes, even thrash me if-"
"If you won't listen to reason. Babbie," cried Gavin, "I am that man!"
Here the inventory abruptly ended, and these two people found themselves
staring at each other, as if of a sudden they had heard something
dreadful. I do not know how long they stood thus motionless and
horrified. I cannot tell even which stirred first. All I know is that
almost simultaneously they turned from each other and hurried out of the
wood in opposite directions.
From 'Sentimental Tommy'
To-morrow came, and with it two eager little figures rose and gulped
their porridge, and set off to see Thrums. They were dressed in the
black clothes Aaron Latta had bought for them in London, and they had
agreed just to walk, but when they reached the door and saw the
tree-tops of the Den they--they ran. Would you not like to hold them
back? It is a child's tragedy.
They went first into the Den, and the rocks were dripping wet, all the
trees save the firs were bare, and the mud round a tiny spring pulled
off one of Elspeth's boots.
"Tommy," she cried, quaking, "that narsty puddle can't not be the Cuttle
Well, can it?"
"No, it ain't," said Tommy, quickly, but he feared it was.
"It's c-c-colder here than London," Elspeth said, shivering, and Tommy
was shivering too, but he answered, "I'm--I'm--I'm warm."
The Den was strangely small, and soon they were on a shabby brae, where
women in short gowns came to their doors and men in night-caps sat down
on the shafts of their barrows to look at Jean Myles's bairns.
"What does yer think?" Elspeth whispered, very doubtfully.
"They're beauties," Tommy answered, determinedly.
Presently Elspeth cried, "Oh, Tommy, what a ugly stair! Where is the
beauty stairs as it wore outside for show?"
This was one of them, and Tommy knew it. "Wait till you see the west
town end," he said, bravely: "it's grand." But when they were in the
west town end, and he had to admit it, "Wait till you see the square,"
he said, and when they were in the square, "Wait," he said, huskily,
"till you see the town-house." Alas, this was the town-house facing
them, and when they knew it, he said, hurriedly, "Wait till you see the
Auld Licht kirk."
They stood long in front of the Auld Licht kirk, which he had sworn was
bigger and lovelier than St. Paul's, but--well, it is a different style
of architecture, and had Elspeth not been there with tears in waiting,
Tommy would have blubbered. "It's--it's littler than I thought," he
said, desperately, "but--the minister, oh, what a wonderful big man
"Are you sure?" Elspeth squeaked.
"I swear he is."
The church door opened and a gentleman came out, a little man, boyish in
the back, with the eager face of those who live too quickly. But it was
not at him that Tommy pointed reassuringly; it was at the monster church
key, half of which protruded from his tail pocket and waggled as he
moved, like the hilt of a sword.
Speaking like an old residenter, Tommy explained that he had brought his
sister to see the church. "She's ta'en aback," he said, picking out
Scotch words carefully, "because it's littler than the London kirks, but
I telled her--I telled her that the preaching is better."
This seemed to please the stranger, for he patted Tommy on the head
while inquiring, "How do you know that the preaching is better?"
"Tell him, Elspeth," replied Tommy, modestly.
"There ain't nuthin' as Tommy don't know," Elspeth explained. "He knows
what the minister is like, too."
"He's a noble sight," said Tommy.
"He can get anything from God he likes," said Elspeth.
"He's a terrible big man," said Tommy.
This seemed to please the little gentleman less. "Big!" he exclaimed,
irritably; "why should he be big?"
"He is big," Elspeth almost screamed, for the minister was her last
"Nonsense!" said the little gentleman. "He is--well, I am the minister."
"You!" roared Tommy, wrathfully.
"Oh, oh, oh!" sobbed Elspeth.
For a moment the Rev. Mr. Dishart looked as if he would like to knock
two little heads together, but he walked away without doing it.
"Never mind," whispered Tommy hoarsely to Elspeth. "Never mind, Elspeth,
you have me yet."
This consolation seldom failed to gladden her, but her disappointment
was so sharp to-day that she would not even look up.
"Come away to the cemetery, it's grand," he said; but still she would
not be comforted.
"And I'll let you hold my hand--as soon as we're past the houses," he
"I'll let you hold it now," he said, eventually; but even then Elspeth
cried dismally, and her sobs were hurting him more than her.
He knew all the ways of getting round Elspeth, and when next he spoke it
was with a sorrowful dignity. "I didna think," he said, "as yer wanted
me never to be able to speak again; no, I didna think it, Elspeth."
She took her hands from her face and looked at him inquiringly.
"One of the stories mamma telled me and Reddy," he said, "were a man
what saw such a beauty thing that he was struck dumb with admiration.
Struck dumb is never to be able to speak again, and I wish I had been
struck dumb when you wanted it."
"But I didn't want it!" Elspeth cried.
"If Thrums had been one little bit beautier than it is," he went on,
solemnly, "it would have struck me dumb. It would have hurt me sore, but
what about that, if it pleased you!"
Then did Elspeth see what a wicked girl she had been, and when next the
two were seen by the curious (it was on the cemetery road), they were
once more looking cheerful. At the smallest provocation they exchanged
notes of admiration, such as, "O Tommy, what a bonny barrel!" or "O
Elspeth, I tell yer that's a dike, and there's just walls in London;"
but sometimes Elspeth would stoop hastily, pretending that she wanted to
tie her boot-lace, but really to brush away a tear, and there were
moments when Tommy hung very limp. Each was trying to deceive the other
for the other's sake, and one of them was never good at deception. They
saw through each other, yet kept up the chilly game, because they could
think of nothing better; and perhaps the game was worth playing, for
love invented it.
Scribner's Magazine. Copyrighted by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
SINS OF CIRCUMSTANCE
From 'Sentimental Tommy'
With the darkness, too, crept into the Muckley certain devils in the
color of the night who spoke thickly and rolled braw lads in the mire,
and egged on friends to fight, and cast lewd thoughts into the minds of
the women. At first the men had been bashful swains. To the women's "Gie
me my faring, Jock," they had replied, "Wait, Jean, till I'm fee'd," but
by night most had got their arles, with a dram above it, and he who
could only guffaw at Jean a few hours ago had her round the waist now,
and still an arm free for rough play with other kimmers. The Jeans were
as boisterous as the Jocks, giving them leer for leer, running from them
with a giggle, waiting to be caught and rudely kissed. Grand, patient,
long-suffering fellows these men were, up at five, summer and winter,
foddering their horses, maybe, hours before there would be food for
themselves, miserably paid, housed like cattle, and when the rheumatism
seized them, liable to be flung aside like a broken graip. As hard was
the life of the women: coarse food, chaff beds, damp clothes their
portion; their sweethearts in the service of masters who were loth to
fee a married man. Is it to be wondered that these lads who could be
faithful unto death drank soddenly on their one free day; that these
girls, starved of opportunities for womanliness, of which they could
make as much as the finest lady, sometimes woke after a Muckley to wish
that they might wake no more?
Scribner's Magazine. Copyrighted by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Political economy has been called the "dismal science"; and probably the
majority think of it as either merely a matter of words and phrases, or
as something too abstruse for the common mind to comprehend. It was the
distinction of Bastiat that he was able to write economic tracts in such
a language that he that ran might read, and to clothe the apparently dry
bones with such integuments as manifested vitality. Under his pen,
questions of finance, of tax, of exchange, became questions which
concern the lives of individual men and women, with sentiments, hopes,
[Illustration: FREDERIC BASTIAT]
He was born at Bayonne in France, June 19th, 1801. At nine years of age
he was left an orphan, but he was cared for by his grandfather and aunt.
He received his schooling at the college of St. Sever and at Soreze,
where he was noted as a diligent student. When about twenty years of age
he was taken into the commercial house of his uncle at Bayonne. His
leisure was employed in cultivating art and literature, and he became
accomplished in languages and in instrumental and vocal music. He was
early interested in political and social economy through the writings of
Adam Smith, J.B. Say, Comte, and others; and having inherited
considerable landed property at Mugron on the death of his grandfather
in 1827, he undertook the personal charge of it, at the same time
continuing his economic studies. His experiment in farming did not prove
successful; but he rapidly developed clear ideas upon economical
problems, being much assisted in their consideration by frequent
conferences with his neighbor, M. Felix Coudroy. These two worked much
together, and cherished a close sympathy in thought and heart.
The bourgeois revolution of 1830 was welcomed enthusiastically by
Bastiat. It was a revolution of prosperous and well-instructed men,
willing to make sacrifices to attain an orderly and systematic method of
government. To him the form of the administration did not greatly
matter: the right to vote taxes was the right which governed the
governors. "There is always a tendency on the part of governments to
extend their powers," he said; "the administration therefore must be
under constant surveillance." His motto was "Foi systematiqtie a la
libre activite de I'individu; defiance systematique vis-a-vis de l'Etat
concu abstraitement,--c'est-a-dire, defiance parfaitement pure de toute
hostilite de parti." [Systematic faith in the free activity of the
individual; systematic distrust of the State conceived abstractly,--that
is, a distrust entirely free from prejudice.]
His work with his pen seems to have been begun about 1830, and from the
first was concerned with matters of economy and government. A year later
he was chosen to local office, and every opportunity which offered was
seized upon to bring before the common people the true milk of the
economic word, as he conceived it. The germ of his theory of values
appeared in a pamphlet of 1834, and the line of his development was a
steady one; his leading principles being the importance of restricting
the functions of government to the maintenance of order, and of removing
all shackles from the freedom of production and exchange. Through
subscription to an English periodical he became familiar with Cobden and
the Anti-Corn-Law League, and his subsequent intimacy with Cobden
contributed much to broaden his horizon. In 1844-5 appeared his
brilliant 'Sophismes economiques', which in their kind have never been
equaled; and his reputation rapidly expanded. He enthusiastically
espoused the cause of Free Trade, and issued a work entitled 'Cobden et
la Ligue, ou l'Agitation anglaise pour la liberte des echanges' (Cobden
and the League, or the English Agitation for Liberty of Exchange), which
attracted great attention, and won for its author the title of
corresponding member of the Institute. A movement for organization in
favor of tariff reform was begun, of which he naturally became a leader;
and feeling that Paris was the centre from which influence should flow,
to Paris he removed. M. de Molinari gives an account of his debut:--"We
still seem to see him making his first round among the journals which
had shown themselves favorable to cause of the freedom of commerce. He
had not yet had time to call upon a Parisian tailor or hatter, and in
truth it had not occurred to him to do so. With his long hair and his
small hat, his large surtout and his family umbrella, he would naturally
be taken for a reputable countryman looking at the sights of the
metropolis. But his countryman's-face was at the same time roguish and
spirituelle, his large black eyes were bright and luminous, and his
forehead, of medium breadth but squarely formed, bore the imprint of
thought. At a glance one could see that he was a peasant of the country
of Montaigne, and in listening to him one realized that here was a
disciple of Franklin."
He plunged at once into work, and his activity was prodigious. He
contributed to numerous journals, maintained an active correspondence
with Cobden, kept up communications with organizations throughout the
country, and was always ready to meet his opponents in debate.
The Republic of 1848 was accepted in good faith; but he was strongly
impressed by the extravagant schemes which accompanied the Republican
movement, as well as by the thirst for peace which animated multitudes.
The Provisional government had made solemn promises: it must pile on
taxes to enable it to keep its promises. "Poor people! How they have
deceived themselves! It would have been so easy and so just to have
eased matters by reducing the taxes; instead, this is to be done by
profusion of expenditure, and people do not see that all this machinery
amounts to taking away ten in order to return eight, _without counting
the fact that liberty will succumb under the operation_." He tried to
stem the tide of extravagance; he published a journal, the Republique
Francaise, for the express purpose of promulgating his views; he entered
the Constituent and then the Legislative Assembly, as a member for the
department of Landes, and spoke eloquently from the tribune. He was a
constitutional "Mugwump": he cared for neither parties nor men, but for
ideas. He was equally opposed to the domination of arbitrary power and
to the tyranny of Socialism. He voted with the right against the left on
extravagant Utopian schemes, and with the left against the right when he
felt that the legitimate complaints of the poor and suffering
In the midst of his activity he was overcome by a trouble in the throat,
which induced his physicians to send him to Italy. The effort for relief
was a vain one, however, and he died in Rome December 24th, 1850. His
complete works, mostly composed of occasional essays, were printed in
1855. Besides those mentioned, the most important are 'Propriete et Loi'
(Property and Law), 'Justice et Fraternite,' 'Protectionisme et
Communisme,' and 'Harmonies economiques.' The 'Harmonies economiques'
and 'Sophismes economiques' have been translated and published
OF THE MANUFACTURERS OF CANDLES, WAX-LIGHTS, LAMPS, CANDLE-STICKS,
STREET LAMPS, SNUFFERS, EXTINGUISHERS, AND OF THE PRODUCERS OF OIL,
TALLOW, ROSIN, ALCOHOL, AND GENERALLY OF EVERYTHING CONNECTED
_To Messieurs the Members of the Chamber of Deputies:
Gentlemen_:--You are on the right road. You reject abstract theories,
and have little consideration for cheapness and plenty. Your chief care
is the interest of the producer. You desire to emancipate him from
external competition, and reserve the _national market_ for _national
We are about to offer you an admirable opportunity of applying
your--what shall we call it? your theory? no: nothing is more deceptive
than theory. Your doctrine? your system? your principle? but you dislike
doctrines, you abhor systems, and as for principles, you deny that there
are any in social economy. We shall say, then, your practice, your
practice without theory and without principle.
We are suffering from the intolerable competition of a foreign rival,
placed, it would seem, in a condition so far superior to ours for the
production of light, that he absolutely _inundates_ our _national
market_ with it at a price fabulously reduced. The moment he shows
himself, our trade leaves us--all consumers apply to him; and a branch
of native industry, having countless ramifications, is all at once
rendered completely stagnant. This rival, who is no other than the Sun,
wages war to the knife against us, and we suspect that he has been
raised up by _perfidious Albion_ (good policy as times go); inasmuch as
he displays towards that haughty island a circumspection with which he
dispenses in our case.
What we pray for is, that it may please you to pass a law ordering the
shutting up of all windows, skylights, dormer windows, outside and
inside shutters, curtains, blinds, bull's-eyes; in a word, of all
openings, holes, chinks, clefts, and fissures, by or through which the
light of the sun has been in use to enter houses, to the prejudice of
the meritorious manufactures with which we flatter ourselves we have
accommodated our country,--a country which, in gratitude, ought not to
abandon us now to a strife so unequal.
We trust, gentlemen, that you will not regard this our request as a
satire, or refuse it without at least previously hearing the reasons
which we have to urge in its support.
And first, if you shut up as much as possible all access to natural
light, and create a demand for artificial light, which of our French
manufactures will not be encouraged by it?
If more tallow is consumed, then there must be more oxen and sheep; and
consequently, we shall behold the multiplication of artificial meadows,
meat, wool, hides, and above all manure, which is the basis and
foundation of all agricultural wealth.
If more oil is consumed, then we shall have an extended cultivation of
the poppy, of the olive, and of rape. These rich and exhausting plants
will come at the right time to enable us to avail ourselves of the
increased fertility which the rearing of additional cattle will impart
to our lands.
Our heaths will be covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of bees
will, on the mountains, gather perfumed treasures, now wasting their
fragrance on the desert air, like the flowers from which they emanate.
No branch of agriculture but will then exhibit a cheering development.
The same remark applies to navigation. Thousands of vessels will proceed
to the whale fishery; and in a short time we shall possess a navy
capable of maintaining the honor of France, and gratifying the patriotic
aspirations of your petitioners, the under-signed candle-makers
But what shall we say of the manufacture of _articles de Paris?_
Henceforth you will behold gildings, bronzes, crystals, in candlesticks,
in lamps, in lustres, in candelabra, shining forth in spacious
warerooms, compared with which those of the present day can be regarded
but as mere shops.
No poor _resinier_ from his heights on the sea-coast, no coal-miner from
the depth of his sable gallery, but will rejoice in higher wages and
Only have the goodness to reflect, gentlemen, and you will be convinced
that there is perhaps no Frenchman, from the wealthy coal-master to the
humblest vender of lucifer matches, whose lot will not be ameliorated by
the success of this our petition.
We foresee your objections, gentlemen, but we know that you can oppose
to us none but such as you have picked up from the effete works of the
partisans of Free Trade. We defy you to utter a single word against us
which will not instantly rebound against yourselves and your
You will tell us that if we gain by the protection which we seek, the
country will lose by it, because the consumer must bear the loss.
You have ceased to have any right to invoke the interest of the
consumer; for whenever his interest is found opposed to that of the
producer, you sacrifice the former. You have done so for the purpose of
_encouraging labor and increasing employment_. For the same reason you
should do so again.
You have yourself refuted this objection. When you are told that the
consumer is interested in the free importation of iron, coal, corn,
textile fabrics--yes, you reply, but the producer is interested in their
exclusion. Well, be it so;--if consumers are interested in the free
admission of natural light, the producers of artificial light are
equally interested in its prohibition.
But again, you may say that the producer and consumer are identical. If
the manufacturer gain by protection, he will make the agriculturist also
a gainer; and if agriculture prosper, it will open a vent to
manufactures. Very well: if you confer upon us the monopoly of
furnishing light during the day,--first of all, we shall purchase
quantities of tallow, coals, oils, resinous substances, wax,
alcohol--besides silver, iron, bronze, crystal--to carry on our
manufactures; and then we, and those who furnish us with such
commodities, having become rich, will consume a great deal, and impart
prosperity to all the other branches of our national industry.
If you urge that the light of the sun is a gratuitous gift of nature,
and that to reject such gifts is to reject wealth itself under pretense
of encouraging the means of acquiring it, we would caution you against
giving a death-blow to your own policy. Remember that hitherto you have
always repelled foreign products, _because_ they approximate more nearly
than home products to the character of gratuitous gifts. To comply with
the exactions of other monopolists, you have only _half a motive_; and
to repulse us simply because we stand on a stronger vantage-ground than
others would be to adopt the equation, +X+=--; in other words, it would
be to heap _absurdity_ upon _absurdity_.
Nature and human labor co-operate in various proportions (depending on
countries and climates) in the production of commodities. The part
which nature executes is always gratuitous; it is the part executed by
human labor which constitutes value, and is paid for.
If a Lisbon orange sells for half the price of a Paris orange, it is
because natural and consequently gratuitous heat does for the one what
artificial and therefore expensive heat must do for the other.
When an orange comes to us from Portugal, we may conclude that it is
furnished in part gratuitously, in part for an onerous consideration; in
other words, it comes to us at _half-price_ as compared with those
Now, it is precisely the _gratuitous half_ (pardon the word) which we
contend should be excluded. You say, How can natural labor sustain
competition with foreign labor, when the former has all the work to do,
and the latter only does one-half, the sun supplying the remainder? But
if this _half_, being _gratuitous_, determines you to exclude
competition, how should the _whole_, being _gratuitous_, induce you to
admit competition? If you were consistent, you would, while excluding as
hurtful to native industry what is half gratuitous, exclude _a fortiori_
and with double zeal that which is altogether gratuitous.
Once more, when products such as coal, iron, corn, or textile fabrics
are sent us from abroad, and we can acquire them with less labor than if
we made them ourselves, the difference is a free gift conferred upon us.
The gift is more or less considerable in proportion as the difference is
more or less great. It amounts to a quarter, a half, or three-quarters
of the value of the product, when the foreigner only asks us for
three-fourths, a half, or a quarter of the price we should otherwise
pay. It is as perfect and complete as it can be, when the donor (like
the sun in furnishing us with light) asks us for nothing. The question,
and we ask it formally, is this, Do you desire for our country the
benefit of gratuitous consumption, or the pretended advantages of
onerous production? Make your choice, but be logical; for as long as you
exclude, as you do, coal, iron, corn, foreign fabrics, _in proportion_
as their price approximates to _zero_, what inconsistency would it be to
admit the light of the sun, the price of which is already at _zero_
during the entire day!
STULTA AND PUERA
There were, no matter where, two towns called Fooltown and Babytown.
They completed at great cost a highway from the one town to the other.
When this was done, Fooltown said to herself, "See how Babytown
inundates us with her products; we must see to it." In consequence, they
created and paid a body of _obstructives_, so called because their
business was to place _obstacles_ in the way of traffic coming from
Babytown. Soon afterwards Babytown did the same.
At the end of some centuries, knowledge having in the interim made great
progress, the common sense of Babytown enabled her to see that such
reciprocal obstacles could only be reciprocally hurtful. She therefore
sent a diplomatist to Fooltown, who, laying aside official phraseology,
spoke to this effect:
"We have made a highway, and now we throw obstacles in the way of using
it. This is absurd. It would have been better to have left things as
they were. We should not, in that case, have had to pay for making the
road in the first place, nor afterwards have incurred the expense of
maintaining _obstructives_. In the name of Babytown, I come to propose
to you, not to give up opposing each other all at once,--that would be
to act upon a principle, and we despise principles as much as you
do,--but to lessen somewhat the present obstacles, taking care to
estimate equitably the respective _sacrifices_ we make for
So spoke the diplomatist. Fooltown asked for time to consider the
proposal, and proceeded to consult in succession her manufacturers and
agriculturists. At length, after the lapse of some years, she declared
that the negotiations were broken off. On receiving this intimation, the
inhabitants of Babytown held a meeting. An old gentleman (they always
suspected he had been secretly bought by Fooltown) rose and said:--"The
obstacles created by Fooltown injure our sales, which is a misfortune.
Those which we have ourselves created injure our purchases, which is
another misfortune. With reference to the first, we are powerless; but
the second rests with ourselves. Let us at least get quit of one, since
we cannot rid ourselves of both evils. Let us suppress our
_obstructives_ without requiring Fooltown to do the same. Some day, no
doubt, she will come to know her own interests better."
A second counselor, a practical, matter-of-fact man, guiltless of any
acquaintance with principles, and brought up in the ways of his
"Don't listen to that Utopian dreamer, that theorist, that innovator,
that economist; that _Stultomaniac_. We shall all be undone if the
stoppages of the road are not equalized, weighed, and balanced between
Fooltown and Babytown. There would be greater difficulty in _going_ than
in _coming_, in _exporting_ than in _importing_. We should find
ourselves in the same condition of inferiority relatively to Fooltown,
as Havre, Nantes, Bordeaux, Lisbon, London, Hamburg, and New Orleans,
are with relation to the towns situated at the sources of the Seine, the
Loire, the Garonne, the Tagus, the Thames, the Elbe, and the
Mississippi; for it is more difficult for a ship to ascend than to
descend a river. [_A Voice_--'Towns at the _embouchures_ of rivers
prosper more than towns at their source.'] This is impossible. [_Same
Voice_--'But it is so.'] Well, if it be so, they have prospered
_contrary to rules_."
Reasoning so conclusive convinced the assembly, and the orator followed
up his victory by talking largely of national independence, national
honor, national dignity, national labor, inundation of products,
tributes, murderous competition. In short, he carried the vote in favor
of the maintenance of obstacles; and if you are at all curious on the
subject, I can point out to you countries, where you will see with your
own eyes Roadmakers and Obstructives working together on the most
friendly terms possible, under the orders of the same legislative
assembly, and at the expense of the same taxpayers, the one set
endeavoring to clear the road, and the other set doing their utmost to
render it impassable.
From 'Economic Sophisms'
Let us give up ... the puerility of applying to industrial competition
phrases applicable to war,--a way of speaking which is only specious
when applied to competition between two rival trades. The moment we come
to take into account the effect produced on the general prosperity, the
In a battle, every one who is killed diminishes by so much the strength
of the army. In industry, a workshop is shut up only when what it
produced is obtained by the public from another source and in _greater
abundance_. Figure a state of things where for one man killed on the
spot two should rise up full of life and vigor. Were such a state of
things possible, war would no longer merit its name.
This, however, is the distinctive character of what is so absurdly
called _industrial war_.
Let the Belgians and the English lower the price of their iron ever so
much; let them, if they will, send it to us for nothing: this might
extinguish some of our blast-furnaces; but immediately, and as a
_necessary_ consequence of this very cheapness, there would rise up a
thousand other branches of industry more profitable than the one which
had been superseded.
We arrive, then, at the conclusion that domination by labor is
impossible, and a contradiction in terms, seeing that all superiority
which manifests itself among a people means cheapness, and tends only to
impart force to all other nations. Let us banish, then, from political
economy all terms borrowed from the military vocabulary: _to fight with
equal weapons, to conquer, to crush, to stifle, to be beaten, invasion,
tribute_, etc. What do such phrases mean? Squeeze them, and you obtain
nothing. Yes, you do obtain something; for from such words proceed
absurd errors, and fatal and pestilent prejudices. Such phrases tend to
arrest the fusion of nations, are inimical to their peaceful, universal,
and indissoluble alliance, and retard the progress of the human race.
BY GRACE KING
Charles Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821; he died there in 1867.
Between these dates lies the evolution of one of the most striking
personalities in French literature, and the development of an influence
which affected not only the literature of the poet's own country, but
that of all Europe and America. The genuineness of both personality and
influence was one of the first critical issues raised after Baudelaire's
advent into literature; it is still one of the main issues in all
critical consideration of him. A question which involves by implication
the whole relation of poetry, and of art as such, to life, is obviously
one that furnishes more than literary issues, and engages other than
literary interests. And thus, by easy and natural corollaries,
Baudelaire has been made a subject of appeal not only to judgment, but
even to conscience. At first sight, therefore, he appears surrounded
either by an intricate moral maze, or by a no less troublesome confusion
of contradictory theories from opposing camps rather than schools of
criticism. But no author--no dead author--is more accessible, or more
communicable in his way; his poems, his theories, and a goodly portion
of his life, lie at the disposition of any reader who cares to know him.
[Illustration: CHARLES BAUDELAIRE]
The Baudelaire legend, as it is called by French critics, is one of the
blooms of that romantic period of French literature which is presided
over by the genius of Theophile Gautier. Indeed; it is against the
golden background of Gautier's imagination that the picture of the
youthful poet is best preserved for us, appearing in all the delicate
and illusive radiance of the youth and beauty of legendary saints on the
gilded canvases of mediaeval art. The radiant youth and beauty may be no
more truthful to nature than the gilded background, but the fact of the
impression sought to be conveyed is not on that account to be
Baudelaire, Gautier writes, was born in the Rue Hautefeuille, in one of
those old houses with a pepper-pot turret at the corner which have
disappeared from the city under the advancing improvement of straight
lines and clear openings. His father, a gentleman of learning, retained
all the eighteenth-century courtesy and distinction of manner, which,
like the pepper-pot turret, has also disappeared under the advance of
Republican enlightenment. An absent-minded, reserved child, Baudelaire
attracted no especial attention during his school days. When they were
over, his predilection for a literary vocation became known. From this
his parents sought to divert him by sending him to travel. He voyaged
through the Indian Ocean, visiting the great islands: Madagascar,
Ceylon, Mauritius, Bourbon. Had there been a chance for irresolution in
the mind of the youth, this voyage destroyed it forever. His
imagination, essentially exotic, succumbed to the passionate charm of a
new, strange, and splendidly glowing form of nature; the stars, the
skies, the gigantic vegetation, the color, the perfumes, the
dark-skinned figures in white draperies, formed for him at that time a
heaven, for which his senses unceasingly yearned afterwards amid the
charms and enchantments of civilization, in the world's capital of
pleasure and luxury. Returning to Paris, of age and master of his
fortune, he established himself in his independence, openly adopting his
He and Theophile Gautier met for the first time in 1849, in the Hotel
Pimodau, where were held the meetings of the Hashish Club. Here in the
great Louis XIV. saloon, with its wood-work relieved with dull gold; its
corbeled ceiling, painted after the manner of Lesueur and Poussin, with
satyrs pursuing nymphs through reeds and foliage; its great red and
white spotted marble mantel, with gilded elephant harnessed like the
elephant of Porus in Lebrun's picture, bearing an enameled clock with
blue ciphers; its antique chairs and sofas, covered with faded tapestry
representing hunting scenes, holding the reclining figures of the
members of the club; women celebrated in the world of beauty, men in the
world of letters, meeting not only for the enjoyment of the artificial
ecstasies of the drug, but to talk of art, literature, and love, as in
the days of the Decameron--here Baudelaire made what might be called his
historic impression upon literature. He was at that time twenty-eight
years of age; and even in that assemblage, in those surroundings, his
personality was striking. His black hair, worn close to the head, grew
in regular scallops over a forehead of dazzling whiteness; his eyes, the
color of Spanish tobacco, were spiritual, deep, penetrating, perhaps too
insistently so, in expression; the mobile sinuous mouth had the ironical
voluptuous lips that Leonardo da Vinci loved to paint; the nose was
delicate and sensitive, with quivering nostrils; a deep dimple
accentuated the chin; the bluish-black tint of the shaven skin, softened
with rice-powder, contrasted with the clear rose and white of the upper
part of his cheeks. Always dressed with meticulous neatness and
simplicity, following English rather than French taste; in manner
punctiliously observant of the strictest conventionality, scrupulously,
even excessively polite; in talk measuring his phrases, using only the
most select terms, and pronouncing certain words as if the sound itself
possessed a certain subtle, mystical value,--throwing his voice into
capitals and italics;--in contrast with the dress and manners about him,
he, according to Gautier, looked like a dandy who had strayed
The contrast was no less violent between Baudelaire's form and the
substance of his conversation. With a simple, natural, and perfectly
impartial manner, as if he were conveying commonplace information about
every-day life, he would advance some axiom monstrously Satanic, or
sustain, with the utmost grace and coolness, some mathematical
extravagance in the way of a theory. And no one could so inflexibly push
a paradox to the uttermost limits, regardless of consequences to
received notions of morality or religion; always employing the most
rigorous methods of logic and reason. His wit was found to lie neither
in words nor thoughts, but in the peculiar standpoint from which he
regarded things, a standpoint which altered their outlines,--like those
of objects looked down upon from a bird's flight, or looked up to on a
ceiling. In this way, to continue the exposition of Gautier, Baudelaire
saw relations inappreciable to others, whose logical bizarrerie was
His first productions were critical articles for the Parisian journals;
articles that at the time passed unperceived, but which to-day furnish
perhaps the best evidences of that keen artistic insight and foresight
of the poet, which was at once his greatest good and evil genius. In
1856 appeared his translation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe; a
translation which may be said to have naturalized Poe in French
literature, where he has played a role curiously like that of Baudelaire
in Poe's native literature. The natural predisposition of Baudelaire,
which fitted him to be the French interpreter of Poe, rendered him also
peculiarly sensitive to Poe's mysteriously subtle yet rankly vigorous
charms; and he showed himself as sensitively responsive to these as he
had been to the exotic charms of the East. The influence upon his
intellectual development was decisive and final. His indebtedness to
Poe, or it might better be said, his identification with Poe, is visible
not only in his paradoxical manias, but in his poetry, and in his
theories of art and poetry set forth in his various essays and fugitive
prose expressions, and notably in his introduction to his translations
of the American author's works.
In 1857 appeared the "Fleurs du Mal" (Flowers of Evil), the volume of
poems upon which Baudelaire's fame as a poet is founded. It was the
result of his thirty years' devotion to the study of his art and
meditation upon it. Six of the poems were suppressed by the censor of
the Second Empire. This action called out, in form of protest, that fine
appreciation and defense of Baudelaire's genius and best defense of his
methods, by four of the foremost critics and keenest artists in poetry
of Paris, which form, with the letters from Sainte-Beuve, de Custine,
and Deschamps, a precious appendix to the third edition of the poems.
The name 'Flowers of Evil' is a sufficient indication of the intentions
and aim of the author. Their companions in the volume are: 'Spleen and
Ideal,' 'Parisian Pictures,' 'Wine,' 'Revolt,' 'Death.' The simplest
description of them is that they are indescribable. They must not only
be read, they must be studied repeatedly to be understood as they
deserve. The paradox of their most exquisite art, and their at times
most revolting revelations of the degradations and perversities of
humanity, can be accepted with full appreciation of the author's meaning
only by granting the same paradox to his genuine nature; by crediting
him with being not only an ardent idealist of art for art's sake, but an
idealist of humanity for humanity's sake; one to whom humanity, even in
its lowest degradations and vilest perversions, is sublimely
sacred;--one to whom life offered but one tragedy, that of human souls
flying like Cain from a guilt-stricken paradise, but pursued by the
remorse of innocence, and scourged by the consciousness of their own
But the poet's own words are the best explanation of his aim and
Back to Full Books