Pausanias, the Spartan
Part 4 out of 5
deny that thou art one of those who sent forth the ship and shared in
the accusations. Yet I had thought that if I had ever merited thine
ill will, there had been reconciliation between us in the Council
Hall. What has chanced since? Why shouldst thou hate me? Speak
frankly; frankly have I spoken to thee."
"General," replied Antagoras, "there is no hegemony over men's hearts;
thou sayest truly, as man to man, I hate thee. Wherefore? Because
as man to man, thou standest between me and happiness. Because thou
wooest, and canst only woo to dishonour, the virgin in whom I would
seek the sacred wife."
Pausanias slightly recoiled, and the courtesy he had simulated, and
which was essentially foreign to his vehement and haughty character,
fell from him like a mask. For with the words of Antagoras, jealousy
passed within him, and for the moment its agony was such that the
Chian was avenged. But he was too habituated to the stateliness of
self control, to give vent to the rage that seized him. He only said
with a whitened and writhing lip, "Thou art right; all animosities may
yield, save those which a woman's eye can kindle. Thou hatest me--be
it so--that is as man to man. But as officer to chieftain, I bid thee
henceforth beware how thou givest me cause to set this foot on the
head that lifts itself to the height of mine."
With that he rose, turned on his heel, and walked towards the stern,
where he stood apart gazing on the Athenian triremes, which by this
time were in the broad sea. And all the eyes in the fleet were turned
towards that exhibition. For marvellous was the ease and beauty with
which these ships went through their nautical movements; now as in
chase of each other, now approaching as in conflict, veering off,
darting aside, threading as it were a harmonious maze, gliding in
and out, here, there, with the undulous celerity of the serpent. The
admirable build of the ships; the perfect skill of the seamen; the
noiseless docility and instinctive comprehension by which they seemed
to seize and to obey the unforeseen signals of their Admiral--all
struck the lively Greeks that beheld the display, and universal was
the thought if not the murmur, There was the power that should command
the Grecian seas.
Pausanias was too much accustomed to the sway of masses, not to have
acquired that electric knowledge of what circles amongst them from
breast to breast, to which habit gives the quickness of an instinct.
He saw that he had committed an imprudence, and that in seeking to
divert a mutiny, he had incurred a yet greater peril.
He returned to his own ship without exchanging another word with
Antagoras, who had retired to the centre of the vessel, fearing to
trust himself to a premature utterance of that defiance which the last
warning of his chief provoked, and who was therefore arousing the
soldiers to louder shouts of admiration at the Athenian skill.
Rowing back towards the wing occupied by the Peloponnesian allies, of
whose loyalty he was assured, Pausanias then summoned on board their
principal officer, and communicated to him his policy of placing the
Ionians not only apart from the Athenians, but under the vigilance and
control of Peloponnesian vessels in the immediate neighbourhood.
"Therefore," said he, "while the Athenians will occupy this wing, I
wish you to divide yourselves; the Lacedaemonian ships will take the
way the Athenians abandon, but the Corinthian triremes will place
themselves between the ships of the Islands and the Athenians. I shall
give further orders towards distributing the Ionian navy. And thus I
trust either all chance of a mutiny is cut off, or it will be put down
at the first outbreak. Now give orders to your men to take the places
thus assigned to you. And having gratified the vanity of our friends
the Athenians by their holiday evolutions, I shall send to thank and
release them from the fatigue so gracefully borne."
All those with whom he here conferred, and who had no love for Athens
or Ionia, readily fell into the plan suggested. Pausanias then
despatched a Laconian vessel to the Athenian Admiral, with
complimentary messages and orders to cease the manoeuvres, and then
heading the rest of the Laconian contingent, made slow and stately way
towards the station deserted by the Athenians. But pausing once more
before the vessels of the Isles, he despatched orders to their several
commanders, which had the effect of dividing their array, and placing
between them the powerful Corinthian service. In the orders of the
vessels he forwarded for this change, he took especial care to
dislocate the dangerous contiguity of the Samian and Chian triremes.
The sun was declining towards the west when Pausanias had marshalled
the vessels he headed, at their new stations, and the Athenian ships
were already anchored close and secured. But there was an evident
commotion in that part of the fleet to which the Corinthian galleys
had sailed. The Ionians had received with indignant murmurs the
command which divided their strength. Under various pretexts each
vessel delayed to move; and when the Corinthian ships came to take
a vacant space, they found a formidable array,--the soldiers on the
platforms armed to the teeth. The confusion was visible to the Spartan
chief; the loud hubbub almost reached to his ears. He hastened towards
the place; but anxious to continue the gracious part he had so
unwontedly played that day, he cleared his decks of their formidable
hoplites, lest he might seem to meet menace by menace, and drafting
them into other vessels, and accompanied only by his personal
serving-men and rowers, he put forth alone, the gilded shield and the
red banner still displayed at his stern.
But as he was thus conspicuous and solitary, and midway in the space
left between the Laconian and Ionian galleys, suddenly two ships from
the latter darted forth, passed through the centre of the Corinthian
contingent, and steered with the force of all their rowers, right
towards the Spartan's ship.
"Surely," said Pausanias, "that is the Chian's vessel. I recognize the
vine tree and the image of the Bromian god; and surely that other one
is the Chimera under Uliades, the Samian. They come hither, the Ionian
with them, to harangue against obedience to my orders."
"They come hither to assault us," exclaimed Erasinidas; "their beaks
are right upon us."
He had scarcely spoken, when the Chian's brass prow smote the gilded
shield, and rent the red banner from its staff. At the same time, the
Chimera, under Uliades, struck the right side of the Spartan ship, and
with both strokes the stout vessel reeled and dived. "Know, Spartan,"
cried Antagoras, from the platform in the midst of his soldiers, "that
we Ionians hold together. He who would separate, means to conquer,
us. We disown thy hegemony. If ye would seek us, we are with the
With that the two vessels, having performed their insolent and daring
feat, veered and shot off with the same rapidity with which they had
come to the assault; and as they did so, hoisted the Athenian ensign
over their own national standards. The instant that signal was given,
from the other Ionian vessels, which had been evidently awaiting it,
there came a simultaneous shout; and all, vacating their place and
either gliding through or wheeling round the Corinthian galleys,
steered towards the Athenian fleet.
The trireme of Pausanias, meanwhile, sorely damaged, part of its side
rent away, and the water rushing in, swayed and struggled alone in
great peril of sinking.
Instead of pursuing the Ionians, the Corinthian galleys made at once
to the aid of the insulted commander.
"Oh," cried Pausanias, in powerless wrath, "Oh, the accursed element!
Oh that mine enemies had attacked me on the land!"
"How are we to act?" said Aristides.
"We are citizens of a Republic, in which the majority govern,"
answered Cimon. "And the majority here tell us how we are to act. Hark
to the shouts of our men, as they are opening way for their kinsmen of
The sun sank, and with it sank the Spartan maritime ascendancy over
Hellas. And from that hour in which the Samian and the Chian insulted
the galley of Pausanias, if we accord weight to the authority on which
Plutarch must have based his tale, commenced the brief and glorious
sovereignty of Athens. Commence when and how it might, it was an epoch
most signal in the records of the ancient world for its results upon a
civilization to which as yet human foresight can predict no end.
END OF VOLUME I.
PAUSANIAS, THE SPARTAN
We pass from Byzantium, we are in Sparta. In the Archeion, or office
of the Ephoralty, sate five men, all somewhat advanced in years. These
constituted that stern and terrible authority which had gradually,
and from unknown beginnings, assumed a kind of tyranny over the
descendants of Hercules themselves. They were the representatives of
the Spartan people, elected without reference to rank or wealth,
and possessing jurisdiction not only over the Helots and Laconians,
but over most of the magistrates. They could suspend or terminate any
office, they could accuse the kings and bring them before a court in
which they themselves were judges upon trial of life and death. They
exercised control over the armies and the embassies sent abroad; and
the king, at the head of his forces, was still bound to receive his
instructions from this Council of Five. Their duty, in fact, was to
act as a check upon the kings, and they were the representatives
of that Nobility which embraced the whole Spartan people, in
contradistinction to the Laconians and Helots.
The conference in which they were engaged seemed to rivet their
most earnest attention. And as the presiding Ephor continued the
observations he addressed to them, the rest listened with profound and
almost breathless silence.
The speaker, named Periclides, was older than the others. His frame,
still upright and, sinewy, was yet lean almost to emaciation, his face
sharp, and his dark eyes gleamed with a cunning and sinister light
under his grey brows.
"If," said he, "we are to believe these Ionians, Pausanias meditates
some deadly injury to Greece. As for the complaints of his arrogance,
they are to be received with due caution. Our Spartans, accustomed
to the peculiar discipline of the Laws of Aegimius, rarely suit the
humours of Ionians and innovators. The question to consider is not
whether he has been too imperious towards Ionians who were but the
other day subjected to the Mede, but whether he can make the command
he received from Sparta menacing to Sparta herself. We lend him iron,
he hath holpen himself to gold."
"Besides the booty at Plataea, they say that he has amassed much
plunder at Byzantium," said Zeuxidamus, one of the Ephors, after a
Periclides looked hard at the speaker, and the two men exchanged a
"For my part," said a third, a man of a severe but noble countenance,
the father of Lysander, and, what was not usual with the Ephors,
belonging to one of the highest families of Sparta, "I have always
held that Sparta should limit its policy to self-defence; that, since
the Persian invasion is over, we have no business with Byzantium. Let
the busy Athenians obtain if they will the empire of the sea. The sea
is no province of ours. All intercourse with foreigners, Asiatics
and Ionians, enervates our men and corrupts our generals. Recall
Pausanias--recall our Spartans. I have said."
"Recall Pausanias first," said Periclides, "and we shall then hear the
truth, and decide what is best to be done."
"If he has medised, if he has conspired against Greece, let us accuse
him to the death," said Agesilaus, Lysander's father.
"We may accuse, but it rests not with us to sentence," said
"And," said a fourth Ephor, with a visible shudder, "what Spartan dare
counsel sentence of death to the descendant of the Gods?"
"I dare," replied Agesilaus, "but provided only that the descendant of
the Gods had counselled death to Greece. And for that reason, I say
that I would not, without evidence the clearest, even harbour the
thought that a Heracleid could meditate treason to his country."
Periclides felt the reproof and bit his lips.
"Besides," observed Zeuxidamus, "fines enrich the State."
Periclides nodded approvingly.
An expression of lofty contempt passed over the brow and lip of
Agesilaus. But with national self-command, he replied gravely, and
with equal laconic brevity, "If Pausanias hath committed a trivial
error that a fine can expiate, so be it. But talk not of fines till ye
acquit him of all treasonable connivance with the Mede."
At that moment an officer entered on the conclave, and approaching the
presiding Ephor, whispered in his ear.
"This is well," exclaimed Periclides aloud. "A messenger from
Pausanias himself. Your son Lysander has just arrived from Byzantium."
"My son!" exclaimed Agesilaus eagerly, and then checking himself,
added calmly, "That is a sign no danger to Sparta threatened Byzantium
when he left."
"Let him be admitted," said Periclides.
Lysander entered; and pausing at a little distance from the council
board, inclined his head submissively to the Ephors; save a rapid
interchange of glances, no separate greeting took place between son
"Thou art welcome," said Periclides. "Thou hast done thy duty since
thou hast left the city. Virgins will praise thee as the brave man;
age, more sober, is contented to say thou hast upheld the Spartan
name. And thy father without shame may take thy hand."
A warm flush spread over the young man's face. He stepped forward with
a quick step, his eyes beaming with joy. Calm and stately, his father
rose, clasped the extended hand, then releasing his own placed it an
instant on his son's bended head, and reseated himself in silence.
"Thou camest straight from Pausanias?" said Periclides.
Lysander drew from his vest the despatch entrusted to him, and gave it
to the presiding Ephor. Periclides half rose as if to take with more
respect what had come from the hand of the son of Hercules.
"Withdraw, Lysander," he said, "and wait without while we deliberate
on the contents herein."
Lysander obeyed, and returned to the outer chamber.
Here he was instantly surrounded by eager, though not noisy groups.
Some in that chamber were waiting on business connected with the civil
jurisdiction of the Ephors. Some had gained admittance for the purpose
of greeting their brave countryman, and hearing news of the distant
camp from one who had so lately quitted the great Pausanias. For men
could talk without restraint of their General, though it was but with
reserve and indirectly that they slid in some furtive question as to
the health and safety of a brother or a son.
"My heart warms to be amongst ye again," said the simple Spartan
youth. "As I came thro' the defiles from the sea-coast, and saw on the
height the gleam from the old Temple of Pallas Chalcioecus, I said to
myself, 'Blessed be the Gods that ordained me to live with Spartans or
die with Sparta!'"
"Thou wilt see how much we shall make of thee, Lysander," cried a
Spartan youth a little younger than himself, one of the superior tribe
of the Hylleans. "We have heard of thee at Plataea. It is said that
had Pausanias not been there thou wouldst have been called the bravest
Greek in the armament."
"Hush," said Lysander, "thy few years excuse thee, young friend. Save
our General, we were all equals in the day of battle."
"So thinks not my sister Percalus," whispered the youth archly; "scold
her as thou dost me, if thou dare."
Lysander coloured, and replied in a voice that slightly trembled, "I
cannot hope that thy sister interests herself in me. Nay, when I left
Sparta, I thought--" He checked himself.
"That among those who remained behind Percalus might find her
betrothed long before I returned."
"Among those who remained _behind!_ Percalus! How meanly thou must
think of her."
Before Lysander could utter the eager assurance that he was very far
from thinking meanly of Percalus, the other bystanders, impatient
at this whispered colloquy, seized his attention with a volley of
questions, to which he gave but curt and not very relevant answers,
so much had the lad's few sentences disturbed the calm tenor of his
existing self-possession. Nor did he quite regain his presence of mind
until he was once more summoned into the presence of the Ephors.
 K. O. Miller (Dorians), Book 3, c. 7, Sec. 2. According to
Aristotle, Cicero and others, the Ephoralty was founded by Theopompus
subsequently to the mythical time of Lycurgus. To Lycurgus itself it
is referred by Xenophon and Herodotus. Mueller considers rightly that,
though an ancient Doric institution, it was incompatible with the
primitive constitution of Lycurgus and had gradually acquired its
peculiar character by causes operating on the Spartan Slato alone.
 Aristot. Pol. ii.
The communication of Pausanias had caused an animated discussion in
the Council, and led to a strong division of opinion. But the faces of
the Ephors, rigid and composed, revealed nothing to guide the sagacity
of Lysander, as he re-entered the chamber. He himself, by a strong
effort, had recovered the disturbance into which the words of the boy
had thrown his mind, and he stood before the Ephors intent upon the
object of defending the name, and fulfilling the commands of his
chief. So reverent and grateful was the love that he bore to
Pausanias, that he scarcely permitted himself even to blame the
deviations from Spartan austerity which he secretly mourned in his
mind; and as to the grave guilt of treason to the Hellenic cause, he
had never suffered the suspicion of it to rest upon an intellect
that only failed to be penetrating, where its sight was limited by
discipline and affection. He felt that Pausanias had entrusted to
him his defence, and though he would fain, in his secret heart, have
beheld the Regent once more in Sparta, yet he well knew that it was
the duty of obedience and friendship to plead against the sentence of
recall which was so dreaded by his chief.
With all his thoughts collected towards that end, he stood before the
Ephors, modest in demeanour, vigilant in purpose.
"Lysander," said Periclides, after a short pause, "we know thy
affection to the Regent, thy chosen friend; but we know also thy
affection for thy native Sparta; where the two may come into conflict,
it is, and it must be, thy country which will claim the preference. We
charge thee, by virtue of our high powers and authority, to speak
the truth on the questions we shall address to thee, without fear or
Lysander bowed his head. "I am in presence of Sparta my mother and
Agesilaus my father. They know that I was not reared to lie to
"Thou say'st well. Now answer. Is it true that Pausanias wears the
robes of the Mede?"
"It is true."
"And has he stated to thee his reasons?
"Not only to me, but to others."
"What are they?"
"That in the mixed and half medised population of Byzantium, splendour
of attire has become so associated with the notion of sovereign
power, that the Eastern dress and attributes of pomp are essential to
authority; and that men bow before his tiara, who might rebel against
the helm and the horsehair. Outward signs have a value, O Ephors,
according to the notions men are brought up to attach to them."
"Good," said one of the Ephors. "There is in this departure from our
habits, be it right or wrong, no sign then of connivance with the
"Connivance is a thing secret and concealed, and shuns all outward
"But," said Periclides, "what say the other Spartan Captains to this
vain fashion, which savours not of the Laws of Aegimius?"
"The first law of Aegimius commands us to fight and to die for the
king or the chief who has kingly sway. The Ephors may blame, but the
soldier must not question."
"Thou speakest boldly for so young a man," said Periclides harshly.
"I was commanded to speak the truth."
"Has Pausanias entrusted the command of Byzantium to Gongylus the
Eretrian, who already holds four provinces under Xerxes?"
"He has done so."
"Know you the reason for that selection?"
"Pausanias says that the Eretrian could not more show his faith to
Hellas, than by resigning Eastern satrapies so vast."
"Has he resigned them?"
"I know not; but I presume that when the Persian king knows that the
Eretrian is leagued against him with the other Captains of Hellas, he
will assign the Satrapies to another."
"And is it true that the Persian prisoners, Ariamanes and Datis, have
escaped from the custody of Gongylus?"
"It is true. The charge against Gongylus for that error was heard in a
council of confederate captains, and no proof against him was brought
forward. Cimon was entrusted with the pursuit of the prisoners.
Pausanias himself sent forth fifty scouts on Thessalian horses. The
prisoners were not discovered."
"Is it true," said Zeuxidamus, "that Pausanias has amassed much
plunder at Byzantium?"
"What he has won as a conqueror was assigned to him by common voice,
but he has spent largely out of his own resources in securing the
Greek sway at Byzantium."
There was a silence. None liked to question the young soldier farther;
none liked to put the direct question, whether or not the Ionian
Ambassador could have cause for suspecting the descendant of Hercules
of harm against the Greeks. At length Agesilaus said:
"I demand the word, and I claim the right to speak plainly. My son is
young, but he is of the blood of Hyllus.
"Son--Pausanias is dear to thee. Man soon dies: man's name lives for
ever. Dear to thee if Pausanias is, dearer must be his name. In
brief, the Ionian Ambassadors complain of his arrogance towards the
Confederates; they demand his recall. Cimon has addressed a private
letter to the Spartan host, with whom he lodged here, intimating that
it may be best for the honour of Pausanias, and for our weight with
the allies, to hearken to the Ionian Embassy. It is a grave question,
therefore, whether we should recall the Regent or refuse to hear these
charges. Thou art fresh from Byzantium; thou must know more of this
matter than we. Loose thy tongue, put aside equivocation. Say thy
mind, it is for us to decide afterwards what is our duty to the
"I thank thee, my father," said Lysander, colouring deeply at a
compliment paid rarely to one so young, "and thus I answer thee:
"Pausanias, in seeking to enforce discipline and preserve the Spartan
supremacy, was at first somewhat harsh and severe to these Ionians,
who had indeed but lately emancipated themselves from the Persian
yoke, and who were little accustomed to steady rule. But of late he
has been affable and courteous, and no complaint was urged against him
for austerity at the time when this embassy was sent to you. Wherefore
was it then sent? Partly, it maybe, from motives of private hate, not
public zeal, out partly because the Ionian race sees with reluctance
and jealousy the Hegemony of Sparta. I would speak plainly. It is not
for me to say whether ye will or not that Sparta should retain the
maritime supremacy of Hellas, but if ye do will it, ye will not recall
Pausanias. No other than the Conqueror of Plataea has a chance of
maintaining that authority. Eager would the Ionians be upon any
pretext, false or frivolous, to rid themselves of Pausanias. Artfully
willing would be the Athenians in especial that ye listened to such
pretexts; for, Pausanias gone, Athens remains and rules. On what
belongs to the policy of the State it becomes not me to proffer a
word, O Ephors. In what I have said I speak what the whole armament
thinks and murmurs. But this I may say as soldier to whom the honour
of his chief is dear.--The recall of Pausanias may or may not be wise
as a public act, but it will be regarded throughout all Hellas as a
personal affront to your general; it will lower the royalty of Sparta,
it will be an insult to the blood of Hercules. Forgive me, O venerable
magistrates. I have fought by the side of Pausanias, and I cannot dare
to think that the great Conqueror of Plataea, the man who saved Hellas
from the Mede, the man who raised Sparta on that day to a renown which
penetrated the farthest corners of the East, will receive from you
other return than fame and glory. And fame and glory will surely make
that proud spirit doubly Spartan."
Lysander paused, breathing hard and colouring deeply--annoyed with
himself for a speech of which both the length and the audacity were
much more Ionian than Spartan.
The Ephors looked at each other, and there was again silence.
"Son of Agesilaus," said Periclides, "thou hast proved thy
Lacedaemonian virtues too well, and too high and general is thy repute
amongst our army, as it is borne to our ears, for us to doubt thy
purity and patriotism; otherwise, we might fear that whilst thou
speakest in some contempt of Ionian wolves, thou hadst learned the
arts of Ionian Agoras. But enough: thou art dismissed. Go to thy home;
glad the eyes of thy mother; enjoy the honours thou wilt find awaiting
thee amongst thy coevals. Thou wilt learn later whether thou return to
Byzantium, or whether a better field for thy valour may not be found
in the nearer war with which Arcadia threatens us."
As soon as Lysander left the chamber,
"Ye will pardon me, Ephors, if I bade my son speak thus boldly. I need
not say I am no vain, foolish father, desiring to raise the youth
above his years. But making allowance for his partiality to the
Regent, ye will grant that he is a fair specimen of our young
soldiery. Probably, as he speaks, so will our young men think. To
recall Pausanias is to disgrace our general. Ye have my mind. If the
Regent be guilty of the darker charges insinuated--correspondence with
the Persian against Greece--I know but one sentence for him--Death.
And it is because I would have ye consider well how dread is such a
charge, and how awful such a sentence, that I entreat ye not lightly
to entertain the one unless ye are prepared to meditate the other. As
for the maritime supremacy of Sparta, I hold, as I have held before,
that it is not within our councils to strive for it; it must pass from
us. We may surrender it later with dignity; if we recall our general
on such complaints, we lose it with humiliation."
"I agree with Agesilaus," said another, "Pausanias is an Heracleid; my
vote shall not insult him."
"I agree too with Agesilaus," said a third Ephor; "not because
Pausanias is the Heracleid, but because he is the victorious general
who demands gratitude and respect from every true Spartan."
"Be it so," said Periclides, who, seeing himself thus outvoted in the
council, covered his disappointment with the self-control habitual to
his race. "But be we in no hurry to give these Ionian legates their
answer to-day. We must deliberate well how to send such a reply as may
be most conciliating and prudent. And for the next few days we have
an excuse for delay in the religious ceremonials due to the venerable
Divinity of Fear, which commence to-morrow. Pass we to the other
business before us; there are many whom we have kept waiting.
Agesilaus, thou art excused from the public table to-day if thou
wouldst sup with thy brave son at home."
"Nay," said Agesilaus, "my son will go to his pheidition and I to
mine--as I did on the day when I lost my first-born."
On quitting the Hall of the Ephors, Lysander found himself at once on
the Spartan Agora, wherein that Hall was placed. This was situated on
the highest of the five hills, over which the unwalled city spread its
scattered population, and was popularly called the Tower. Before the
eyes of the young Spartan rose the statues, rude and antique, of
Latona, the Pythian Apollo, and his sister Artemis;--venerable images
to Lysander's early associations. The place which they consecrated was
called Chorus; for there, in honour of Apollo, and in the most pompous
of all the Spartan festivals, the young men were accustomed to lead
the sacred dance. The Temple of Apollo himself stood a little in the
background, and near to it that of Hera But more vast than any image
of a god was a colossal statue which represented the Spartan people;
while on a still loftier pinnacle of the hill than that table-land
which enclosed the Agora--dominating, as it were, the whole
city--soared into the bright blue sky the sacred Chalcioecus, or
Temple of the Brazen Pallas, darkening with its shadow another fane
towards the left dedicated to the Lacedaemonian Muses, and receiving a
gleam on the right from the brazen statue of Zeus, which was said by
tradition to have been made by a disciple of Daedalus himself.
But short time had Lysander to note undisturbed the old familiar
scenes. A crowd of his early friends had already collected round the
doors of the Archeion, and rushed forward to greet and welcome him.
The Spartan coldness and austerity of social intercourse vanished
always before the enthusiasm created by the return to his native city
of a man renowned for valour; and Lysander's fame had come back to
Sparta before himself. Joyously, and in triumph, the young men bore
away their comrade. As they passed through the centre of the Agora,
where assembled the various merchants and farmers, who, under the name
of Perioeci, carried on the main business of the Laconian mart, and
were often much wealthier than the Spartan citizens, trade ceased its
hubbub; all drew near to gaze on the young warrior; and now, as they
turned from the Agora, a group of eager women met them on the road,
and shrill voices exclaimed: "Go, Lysander, thou hast fought well--go
and choose for thyself the maiden that seems to thee the fairest. Go,
marry and get sons for Sparta."
Lysander's step seemed to tread on air, and tears of rapture stood in
his downcast eyes. But suddenly all the voices hushed; the crowds
drew back; his friends halted. Close by the great Temple of Fear, and
coming from some place within its sanctuary, there approached towards
the Spartan and his comrades a majestic woman--a woman of so grand a
step and port, that, though her veil as yet hid her face, her form
alone sufficed to inspire awe. All knew her by her gait; all made way
for Alithea, the widow of a king, the mother of Pausanias the Regent.
Lysander, lifting his eyes from the ground, impressed by the hush
around him, recognised the form as it advanced slowly towards him,
and, leaving his comrades behind, stepped forward to salute the mother
of his chief. She, thus seeing him, turned slightly aside, and paused
by a rude building of immemorial antiquity which stood near the
temple. That building was the tomb of the mythical Orestes, whose
bones were said to have been interred there by the command of the
Delphian Oracle. On a stone at the foot of the tomb sate calmly down
the veiled woman, and waited the approach of Lysander. When he came
near, and alone--all the rest remaining aloof and silent--Alithea
removed her veil, and a countenance grand and terrible as that of a
Fate lifted its rigid looks to the young Spartan's eyes. Despite
her age--for she had passed into middle life before she had borne
Pausanias--Alithea retained all the traces of a marvellous and almost
preterhuman beauty. But it was not the beauty of woman. No softness
sate on those lips: no love beamed from those eyes. Stern,
inexorable--not a fault in her grand proportions--the stoutest heart
might have felt a throb of terror as the eye rested upon that pitiless
and imposing front. And the deep voice of the Spartan warrior had a
slight tremor in its tone as it uttered its respectful salutation.
"Draw near, Lysander. What sayest thou of my son?"
"I left him well, and--"
"Does a Spartan mother first ask of the bodily health of an absent
man-child? By the tomb of Orestes and near the Temple of Fear, a
king's widow asks a Spartan soldier what he says of a Spartan chief."
"All Hellas," replied Lysander, recovering his spirit, "might answer
thee best, Alithea. For all Hellas proclaimed that the bravest man at
Plataea was thy son, my chief."
"And where did my son, thy chief, learn to boast of bravery? They tell
me he inscribed the offerings to the gods with his name as the victor
of Plataea--the battle won not by one man but assembled Greece. The
inscription that dishonours him by its vainglory will be erased. To be
brave is nought. Barbarians may be brave. But to dedicate bravery to
his native land becomes a Spartan. He who is everything against a foe
should count himself as nothing in the service of his country."
Lysander remained silent under the gaze of those fixed and imperious
"Youth," said Alithea, after a short pause, "if thou returnest to
Byzantium, say this from Alithea to thy chief:--'From thy childhood,
Pausanias, has thy mother feared for thee; and at the Temple of Fear
did she sacrifice when she heard that thou wert victorious at Plataea;
for in thy heart are the seeds of arrogance and pride; and victory to
thine arms may end in ruin to thy name. And ever since that day does
Alithea haunt the precincts of that temple. Come back and be Spartan,
as thine ancestors were before thee, and Alithea will rejoice and
think the Gods have heard her. But if thou seest within thyself one
cause why thy mother should sacrifice to Fear, lest her son should
break the laws of Sparta, or sully his Spartan name, humble thyself,
and mourn that thou didst not perish at Plataea. By a temple and from
a tomb I send thee warning.' Say this. I have done; join thy friends."
Again the veil fell over the face, and the figure of the woman
remained seated at the tomb long after the procession had passed on,
and the mirth of young voices was again released.
The group that attended Lysander continued to swell as he mounted the
acclivity on which his parental home was placed. The houses of the
Spartan proprietors were at that day not closely packed together as in
the dense population of commercial towns. More like the villas of a
suburb, they lay a little apart, on the unequal surface of the rugged
ground, perfectly plain and unadorned, covering a large space with
ample court-yards, closed in, in front of the narrow streets. And
still was in force the primitive law which ordained that doorways
should be shaped only by the saw, and the ceilings by the axe; but in
contrast to the rudeness of the private houses, at every opening in
the street were seen the Doric pillars or graceful stairs of a temple;
and high over all dominated the Tower-hill, or Acropolis, with the
antique fane of Pallas Chalcioecus.
And so, loud and joyous, the procession bore the young warrior to the
threshold of his home. It was an act of public honour to his fair
repute and his proven valour. And the Spartan felt as proud of that
unceremonious attendance as ever did Roman chief sweeping under arches
of triumph in the curule car.
At the threshold of the door stood his mother--for the tidings of his
coming had preceded him--and his little brothers and sisters. His step
quickened at the sight of these beloved faces.
"Bound forward, Lysander," said one of the train; "thou hast won the
right to thy mother's kiss."
"But fail us not at the pheidition before sunset," cried another.
"Every one of the obe will send his best contribution to the feast to
welcome thee back. We shall have a rare banquet of it."
And so, as his mother drew him within the doors, his arm round her
waist, and the children clung to his cloak, to his knees, or sprung up
to claim his kiss, the procession set up a kind of chaunted shout, and
left the warrior in his home.
"Oh, this is joy, joy!" said Lysander, with sweet tears in his eyes,
as he sat in the women's apartment, his mother by his side, and the
little ones round him. "Where, save in Sparta, does a man love a
And this exclamation, which might have astonished an Ionian--seeing
how much the Spartan civilians merged the individual in the state--was
yet true, where the Spartan was wholly Spartan, where, by habit and
association, he had learned to love the severities of the existence
that surrounded him, and where the routine of duties which took him
from his home, whether for exercises or the public tables, made yet
more precious the hours of rest and intimate intercourse with his
family. For the gay pleasures and lewd resorts of other Greek cities
were not known to the Spartan. Not for him were the cook-shops and
baths and revels of Ionian idlers. When the State ceased to claim him,
he had nothing but his Home.
As Lysander thus exclaimed, the door of the room had opened
noiselessly, and Agesilaus stood unperceived at the entrance, and
overheard his son. His face brightened singularly at Lysander's words.
He came forward and opened his arms.
"Embrace me now, my boy! my brave boy! embrace me now! The Ephors are
Lysander turned, sprang up, and was in his father's arms.
"So thou art not changed. Byzantium has not spoiled thee. Thy name
is uttered with praise unmixed with fear. All Persia's gold, all the
great king's Satrapies could not medize my Lysander. Ah," continued
the father, turning to his wife, "who could have predicted the
happiness of this hour? Poor child! he was born sickly. Hera had
already given us more sons than we could provide for, ere our lands
were increased by the death of thy childless relatives. Wife, wife!
when the family council ordained him to be exposed on Taygetus, when
thou didst hide thyself lest thy tears should be seen, and my voice
trembled as I said 'Be the laws obeyed,' who could have guessed that
the gods would yet preserve him to be the pride of our house? Blessed
be Zeus the saviour and Hercules the warrior!"
"And," said the mother, "blessed be Pausanias, the descendant of
Hercules, who took the forlorn infant to his father's home, and who
has reared him now to be the example of Spartan youths."
"Ah," said Lysander, looking up into his father's eyes, "if I can ever
be worthy of your love, O my father, forget not, I pray thee, that it
is to Pausanias I owe life, home, and a Spartan's glorious destiny."
"I forget it not," answered Agesilaus, with a mournful and serious
expression of countenance. "And on this I would speak to thee. Thy
mother must spare thee awhile to me. Come. I lean on thy shoulder
instead of my staff."
Agesilaus led his son into the large hall, which was the main chamber
of the house; and pacing up and down the wide and solitary floor,
questioned him closely as to the truth of the stories respecting the
Regent which had reached the Ephors.
"Thou must speak with naked heart to me," said Agesilaus; "for I tell
thee that, if I am Spartan, I am also man and father; and I would
serve him, who saved thy life and taught thee how to fight for thy
country, in every way that may be lawful to a Spartan and a Greek."
Thus addressed, and convinced of his father's sincerity, Lysander
replied with ingenuous and brief simplicity. He granted that Pausanias
had exposed himself with a haughty imprudence, which it was difficult
to account for, to the charges of the Ionians. "But," he added, with
that shrewd observation which his affection for Pausanias rather than
his experience of human nature had taught him--"But we must remember
that in Pausanias we are dealing with no ordinary man. If he has
faults of judgment, which a Spartan rarely commits, he has, O my
father, a force of intellect and passion, which a Spartan as rarely
knows. Shall I tell you the truth? Our State is too small for him.
But would it not have been too small for Hercules? Would the laws of
Aegimius have permitted Hercules to perform his labours and achieve
his conquests? This vast and fiery nature suddenly released from the
cramps of our customs, which Pausanias never in his youth regarded
save as galling, expands itself, as an eagle long caged would
outspread its wings."
"I comprehend," said Agesilaus thoughtfully, and somewhat sadly.
"There have been moments in my own life when I regarded Sparta as a
prison. In my early manhood I was sent on a mission to Corinth. Its
pleasures, its wild tumult of gay licence dazzled and inebriated me.
I said, 'This it is to live.' I came back to Sparta sullen and
discontented. But then, happily, I saw thy mother at the festival of
Diana--we loved each other, we married--and when I was permitted to
take her to my home, I became sobered and was a Spartan again. I
comprehend. Poor Pausanias! But luxury and pleasure, though they charm
awhile, do not fill up the whole of a soul like that of our Heracleid.
From these he may recover; but Ambition--that is the true liver of
Tantalus, and grows larger under the beak that feeds on it. What is
his ambition, if Sparta be too small for him?
"I think his ambition would be to make Sparta as big as himself."
Agesilaus stroked his chin musingly.
"I cannot tell, I can only guess. But the Persian war, if I may judge
by what I hear and see, cannot roll away and leave the boundaries
of each Greek State the same. Two States now stand forth prominent,
Athens and Sparta. Themistocles and Cimon aim at making Athens the
head of Hellas, Perhaps Pausanias aims to effect for Sparta what they
would effect for Athens."
"And what thinkest thou of such a scheme?"
"Ask me not. I am too young, too inexperienced, and perhaps too
Spartan to answer rightly."
"Too Spartan, because thou art too covetous of power for Sparta."
"Too Spartan, because I may be too anxious to keep Sparta what she
Agesilaus smiled. "We are of the same mind, my son. Think not that the
rocky defiles which enclose us shut out from our minds all the ideas
that new circumstance strikes from Time. I have meditated on what thou
sayest Pausanias may scheme. It is true that the invasion of the Mede
must tend to raise up one State in Greece to which the others will
look for a head. I have asked myself, can Sparta be that State? and my
reason tells me, No. Sparta is lost if she attempt it. She may become
something else, but she cannot be Sparta. Such a State must become
maritime, and depend on fleets. Our inland situation forbids this.
True we have ports in which the Perioeci flourish; but did we use them
for a permanent policy the Perioeci must become our masters. These
five villages would be abandoned for a mart on the sea-shore. This
mother of men would be no more. A State that so aspires must have
ample wealth at its command. We have none. We might raise tribute from
other Greek cities, but for that purpose we must have fleets again,
to overawe and compel, for no tribute will be long voluntary. A state
that would be the active governor of Hellas must have lives to spare
in abundance. We have none, unless we always do hereafter as we did
at Plataea, raise an army of Helots--seven Helots to one Spartan. How
long, if we did so, would the Helots obey us, and meanwhile how would
our lands be cultivated? A State that would be the centre of Greece,
must cultivate all that can charm and allure strangers. We banish
strangers, and what charms and allures them would womanize us. More
than all, a State that would obtain the sympathies of the turbulent
Hellenic populations, must have the most popular institutions. It
must be governed by a Demus, We are an Oligarchic Aristocracy--a
disciplined camp of warriors, not a licentious Agora. Therefore,
Sparta cannot assume the head of a Greek Confederacy except in the
rare seasons of actual war; and the attempt to make her the head of
such a confederacy would cause changes so repugnant to our manners and
habits, that it would be fraught with destruction to him who made the
attempt, or to us if he succeeded. Wherefore, to sum up, the ambition
of Pausanias is in this impracticable, and must be opposed."
"And Athens," cried Lysander, with a slight pang of natural and
national jealousy, "Athens then must wrest from Pausanias the hegemony
he now holds for Sparta, and Athens must be what the Athenian ambition
"We cannot help it--she must; but can it last?--Impossible. And woe to
her if she ever comes in contact with the bronze of Laconian shields.
But in the meanwhile, what is to be done with this great and awful
Heracleid? They accuse him of medising, of secret conspiracy with
Persia itself. Can that be possible?
"If so, it is but to use Persia on behalf of Sparta. If he would
subdue Greece, it is not for the king, it is for the race of
"Ay, ay, ay," cried Agesilaus, shading his face with his hand. "All
becomes clear to me now. Listen. Did I openly defend Pausanias before
the Ephors, I should injure his cause. But when they talk of his
betraying Hellas and Sparta, I place before them nakedly and broadly
their duty if that charge be true. For if true, O my son, Pausanias
must die as criminals die."
"Die--criminal--an Heracleid--king's blood--the victor of Plataea--my
"Rather he than Sparta. What sayest thou?"
"Neither, neither," exclaimed Lysander, wringing his
"Impossible both, be it so. I place before the Ephors the terrors of
accrediting that charge, in order that they may repudiate it. For the
lesser ones it matters not; he is in no danger there, save that of
fine. And his gold," added Agesilaus with a curved lip of disdain,
"will both condemn and save him. For the rest, I would spare him the
dishonour of being publicly recalled, and to say truth, I would save
Sparta the peril she might incur from his wrath, if she inflicted on
him that slight. But mark me, he himself must resign his command,
voluntarily, and return to Sparta. Better so for him and his pride,
for he cannot keep the hegemony against the will of the Ionians,
whose fleet is so much larger than ours, and it is to his gain if his
successor lose it, not he. But better, not only for his pride, but
for his glory and his name, that he should come from these scenes of
fierce temptation, and, since birth made him a Spartan, learn here
again to conform to what he cannot change. I have spoken thus plainly
to thee. Use the words I have uttered as thou best may, after thy
return to Pausanias, which I will strive to make speedy. But while
we talk there goes on danger--danger still of his abrupt recall--for
there are those who will seize every excuse for it. Enough of these
grave matters: the sun is sinking towards the west, and thy companions
await thee at thy feast; mine will be eager to greet me on thy return,
and thy little brothers, who go with me to my pheidition, will hear
thee so praised that they will long for the crypteia--long to be men,
and find some future Plataea for themselves. May the gods forbid it!
War is a terrible unsettler. Time saps States as a tide the cliff. War
is an inundation, and when it ebbs, a landmark has vanished."
Nothing so largely contributed to the peculiar character of Spartan
society as the uniform custom of taking the principal meal at a public
table. It conduced to four objects: the precise status of aristocracy,
since each table was formed according to title and rank,--equality
among aristocrats, since each at the same table was held the equal of
the other--military union, for as they feasted so they fought, being
formed into divisions in the field according as they messed together
at home; and lastly, that sort of fellowship in public opinion
which intimate association amongst those of the same rank and habit
naturally occasions. These tables in Sparta were supplied by private
contributions; each head of a family was obliged to send a certain
portion at his own cost, and according to the number of his children.
If his fortune did not allow him to do this, he was excluded from the
public tables. Hence a certain fortune was indispensable to the pure
Spartan, and this was one reason why it was permitted to expose
infants, if the family threatened to be too large for the father's
means. The general arrangements were divided into syssitia, according,
perhaps, to the number of families, and correspondent to the divisions
or obes acknowledged by the State. But these larger sections were
again subdivided into companies or clubs of fifteen, vacancies being
filled up by ballot; but one vote could exclude. And since, as we have
said, the companies were marshalled in the field according to their
association at the table, it is clear that fathers of grave years and
of high station (station in Sparta increased with years) could not
have belonged to the same table as the young men, their sons. Their
boys under a certain age they took to their own pheiditia, where the
children sat upon a lower bench, and partook of the simplest dishes
of the fare. Though the cheer at these public tables was habitually
plain, yet upon occasion it was enriched by presents to the
after-course, of game and fruit.
Lysander was received by his old comrade with that cordiality in which
was mingled for the first time a certain manly respect, due to feats
in battle, and so flattering to the young.
The prayer to the Gods, correspondent to the modern grace, and the
pious libations being concluded, the attendant Helots served the black
broth, and the party fell to, with the appetite produced by hardy
exercise and mountain air.
"What do the allies say to the black broth?" asked a young Spartan.
"They do not comprehend its merits," answered Lysander.
Everything in the familiar life to which he had returned delighted the
young Lysander. But for anxious thoughts about Pausanias, he would
have been supremely blest. To him the various scenes of his early
years brought no associations of the restraint and harshness which
revolted the more luxurious nature and the fiercer genius of
Pausanias. The plunge into the frigid waters of Eurotas--the sole bath
permitted to the Spartans at a time when the rest of Greece had
already carried the art of bathing into voluptuous refinement--the
sight of the vehement contests of the boys, drawn up as in battle, at
the game of football, or in detached engagements, sparing each other
so little, that the popular belief out of Sparta was that they were
permitted to tear out each other's eyes, but subjecting strength to
every skilful art that gymnastics could teach--the mimic war on the
island, near the antique trees of the Plane Garden, waged with weapons
of wood and blunted iron, and the march regulated to the music of
flutes and lyres--nay, even the sight of the stern altar, at which
boys had learned to bear the anguish of stripes without a murmur--all
produced in this primitive and intensely national intelligence an
increased admiration for the ancestral laws, which, carrying patience,
fortitude, address and strength to the utmost perfection, had formed a
handful of men into the calm lords of a fierce population, and placed
the fenceless villages of Sparta beyond a fear of the external
assaults and the civil revolutions which perpetually stormed the
citadels and agitated the market-places of Hellenic cities. His was
not the mind to perceive that much was relinquished for the sake of
that which was gained, or to comprehend that there was more which
consecrates humanity in one stormy day of Athens, than in a serene
century of iron Lacedaemon. But there is ever beauty of soul where
there is enthusiastic love of country; and the young Spartan was wise
in his own Dorian way.
The religious festival which had provided the Ephors with an excuse
for delaying their answer to the Ionian envoys occupied the city.
The youths and the maidens met in the sacred chorus; and Lysander,
standing by amidst the gazers, suddenly felt his heart beat. A boy
pulled him by the skirt of his mantle.
"Lysander, hast thou yet scolded Percalus?" said the boy's voice,
"My young friend," answered Lysander, colouring high, "Percalus hath
vouchsafed me as yet no occasion; and, indeed, she alone, of all the
friends whom I left behind, does not seem to recognize me."
His eyes, as he spoke, rested with a mute reproach in their gaze on
the form of a virgin, who had just paused in the choral dance, and
whose looks were bent obdurately on the ground. Her luxuriant hair was
drawn upward from cheek and brow, braided into a knot at the crown of
the head, in the fashion so trying to those who have neither bloom
nor beauty, so exquisitely becoming to those who have both; and the
maiden, even amid Spartan girls, was pre-eminently lovely. It is true
that the sun had somewhat embrowned the smooth cheek; but the stately
throat and the rounded arms were admirably fair--not, indeed, with the
pale and dead whiteness which the Ionian women sought to obtain by
art, but with the delicate rose-hue of Hebe's youth. Her garment
of snow-white wool, fastened over both shoulders with large golden
clasps, was without sleeves, fitting not too tightly to the harmonious
form, and leaving more than the ancle free to the easy glide of the
dance. Taller than Hellenic women usually were, but about the average
height of her Spartan companions, her shape was that which the
sculptors give to Artemis. Light and feminine and virginlike, but with
all the rich vitality of a divine youth, with a force, not indeed of a
man, but such as art would give to the goddess whose step bounds over
the mountain top, and whose arm can launch the shaft from the silver
bow--yet was there something in the mien and face of Percalus more
subdued and bashful than in those of most of the girls around her;
and, as if her ear had caught Lysander's words, a smile just now
played round her lips, and gave to all the countenance a wonderful
sweetness. Then, as it became her turn once more to join in the
circling measure she lifted her eyes, directed them full upon the
young Spartan, and the eyes said plainly, "Ungrateful! I forget thee!
It was but one glance, and she seemed again wholly intent upon the
dance; but Lysander felt as if he had tasted the nectar, and caught
a glimpse of the courts of the Gods. No further approach was made by
either, although intervals in the evening permitted it. But if on the
one hand there was in Sparta an intercourse between the youth of
both sexes wholly unknown in most of the Grecian States, and if that
intercourse made marriages of love especially more common there than
elsewhere, yet, when love did actually exist, and was acknowledged
by some young pair, they shunned public notice; the passion became
a secret, or confidants to it were few. Then came the charm of
stealth:--to woo and to win, as if the treasure were to be robbed by a
lover from the Heaven unknown to man. Accordingly Lysander now mixed
with the spectators, conversed cheerfully, only at distant intervals
permitted his eyes to turn to Percalus, and when her part in the
chorus had concluded, a sign, undetected by others, seemed to have
been exchanged between them, and, a little while after, Lysander had
disappeared from the assembly.
He wandered down the street called the Aphetais, and after a little
while the way became perfectly still and lonely, for the inhabitants
had crowded to the sacred festival, and the houses lay quiet and
scattered. So he went on, passing the ancient temple in which Ulysses
is said to have dedicated a statue in honour of his victory in the
race over the suitors of Penelope, and paused where the ground lay
bare and rugged around many a monument to the fabled chiefs of the
heroic age. Upon a crag that jutted over a silent hollow, covered with
oleander and arbute and here and there the wild rose, the young lover
sat down, waiting patiently; for the eyes of Percalus had told him he
should not wait in vain. Afar he saw, in the exceeding clearness of
the atmosphere, the Taenarium or Temple of Neptune, unprophetic of the
dark connexion that shrine would hereafter have with him whom he then
honoured as a chief worthy, after death, of a monument amidst those
heroes: and the gale that cooled his forehead wandered to him from the
field of the Hellanium in which the envoys of Greece had taken council
how to oppose the march of Xerxes, when his myriads first poured into
Alas, all the great passions that distinguish race from race pass away
in the tide of generations. The enthusiasm of soul which gives us
heroes and demi-gods for ancestors, and hallows their empty tombs; the
vigour of thoughtful freedom which guards the soil from invasion, and
shivers force upon the edge of intelligence; the heroic age and the
civilized alike depart; and he who wanders through the glens of
Laconia can scarcely guess where was the monument of Lelex, or the
field of the Hellanium. And yet on the same spot where sat the young
Spartan warrior, waiting for the steps of the beloved one, may, at
this very hour, some rustic lover be seated, with a heart beating with
like emotions, and an ear listening for as light a tread. Love alone
never passes away from the spot where its footstep hath once pressed
the earth, and reclaimed the savage. Traditions, freedom, the thirst
for glory, art, laws, creeds, vanish; but the eye thrills the breast,
and hand warms to hand, as before the name of Lycurgus was heard, or
Helen was borne a bride to the home of Menelaus. Under the influence
of this power, then, something of youth is still retained by nations
the most worn with time. But the power thus eternal in nations is
shortlived for the individual being. Brief, indeed, in the life of
each is that season which lasts for ever in the life of all. From the
old age of nations glory fades away; but in their utmost decrepitude
there is still a generation young enough to love. To the individual
man, however, glory alone remains when the snows of ages have fallen,
and love is but the memory of a boyish dream. No wonder that the Greek
genius, half incredulous of the soul, clung with such tenacity to
Youth. What a sigh from the heart of the old sensuous world breathes
in the strain of Mimnermus, bewailing with so fierce and so deep a
sorrow the advent of the years in which man is loved no more!
Lysander's eye was still along the solitary road, when he heard a low
musical laugh behind him. He started in surprise, and beheld Percalus.
Her mirth was increased by his astonished gaze, till, in revenge,
he caught both her hands, and drawing her towards him, kissed, not
without a struggle, the lips into serious gravity.
Extricating herself from him, the maiden put on an air of offended
dignity, and Lysander, abashed at his own audacity, muttered some
broken words of penitence.
"But indeed," he added, as he saw the cloud vanishing from her brow;
"indeed thou wert so provoking, and so irresistibly beauteous. And how
camest thou here, as if thou hadst dropped from the heavens?"
"Didst thou think," answered Percalus demurely, "that I could be
suspected of following thee? Nay; I tarried till I could accompany
Euryclea to her home yonder, and then slipping from her by her door,
I came across the grass and the glen to search for the arrow shot
yesterday in the hollow below thee." So saying, she tripped from the
crag by his side into the nooked recess below, which was all out
of sight, in case some passenger should pass the road, and where,
stooping down, she seemed to busy herself in searching for the shaft
amidst the odorous shrubs.
Lysander was not slow in following her footstep.
"Thine arrow is here," said he, placing his hand to his heart.
"Fie! The Ionian poets teach thee these compliments."
"Not so. Who hath sung more of Love and his arrows than our own
"Mean you the Regent's favourite brother?"
"Oh no! The ancient Alcman; the poet whom even the Ephors sanction."
Percalus ceased to seek for the arrow, and they seated themselves on a
little knoll in the hollow, side by side, and frankly she gave him her
hand, and listened, with rosy cheek and rising bosom, to his honest
wooing. He told her truly, how her image had been with him in the
strange lands; how faithful he had been to the absent, amidst all the
beauties of the Isles and of the East. He reminded her of their early
days--how, even as children, each had sought the other. He spoke
of his doubts, his fears, lest he should find himself forgotten or
replaced; and how overjoyed he had been when at last her eye replied
"And we understood each other so well, did we not, Percalus? Here we
have so often met before; here we parted last; here thou knewest I
should go; here I knew that I might await thee."
Percalus did not answer at much length, but what she said sufficed to
enchant her lover. For the education of a Spartan maid did not favour
the affected concealment of real feelings. It could not, indeed,
banish what Nature prescribes to women---the modest self esteem--the
difficulty to utter by word, what eye and blush reveal--nor, perhaps,
something of that arch and innocent malice, which enjoys to taste
the power which beauty exercises before the warm heart will freely
acknowledge the power which sways itself. But the girl, though a
little wilful and high-spirited, was a candid, pure, and noble
creature, and too proud of being loved by Lysander to feel more than a
maiden's shame to confess her own.
"And when I return," said the Spartan, "ah then look out and take
care; for I shall speak to thy father, gain his consent to our
betrothal, and then carry thee away, despite all thy struggles, to the
bridesmaid, and these long locks, alas, will fall."
"I thank thee for thy warning, and will find my arrow in time to guard
myself," said Percalus, turning away her face, but holding up her hand
in pretty menace; "but where is the arrow? I must make haste and find
"Thou wilt have time enough, courteous Amazon, in mine absence, for I
must soon return to Byzantium."
_Percalus._ "Art thou so sure of that?"
_Lysander._ "Why--dost thou doubt it?"
_Percalus._ (rising and moving the arbute boughs aside with the tip of
her sandal), "And, unless thou wouldst wait very long for my father's
consent, perchance thou mayst have to ask for it very soon--too soon
to prepare thy courage for so great a peril."
_Lysander_ (perplexed). "What canst thou mean? By all the Gods, I pray
thee speak plain."
_Percalus._ "If Pausanias be recalled, wouldst thou still go to
_Lysander._ "No; but I think the Ephors have decided not so to
discredit their General."
_Percalus._ (shaking her head incredulously). "Count not on their
decision so surely, valiant warrior; and suppose that Pausanias is
recalled, and that some one else is sent in his place whose absence
would prevent thy obtaining that consent thou covetest, and so
frustrate thy designs on--on--(she added, blushing scarlet)--on these
poor locks of mine."
_Lysander._ (starting). "Oh, Percalus, do I conceive thee aright?
Hast thou any reason to think that thy father Dorcis will be sent to
replace Pausanias--the great Pausanias!"
_Percalus._ (a little offended at a tone of expression which seemed to
slight her father's pretensions). "Dorcis, my father, is a warrior
whom Sparta reckons second to none; a most brave captain, and every
inch a Spartan; but--but--"
_Lysander._ "Percalus, do not trifle with me. Thou knowest how my
fate has been linked to the Regent's. Thou must have intelligence not
shared even by my father, himself an Ephor.--What is it?"
_Percalus._ "Thou wilt be secret, my Lysander, for what I may tell
thee I can only learn at the hearth-stone."
_Lysander._ "Fear me not. Is not all between us a secret?"
_Percalus._ "Well, then, Periclides and my father, as thou art aware,
are near kinsmen. And when the Ionian Envoys first arrived, it was
my father who was specially appointed to see to their fitting
entertainment. And that same night I overheard Dorcis say to my
mother, 'If I could succeed Pausanias, and conclude this war, I should
be consoled for not having commanded at Platam.' And my mother, who is
proud for her husband's glory, as a woman should be, said, 'Why not
strain every nerve as for a crown in Olympia? Periclides will aid
thee--thou wilt win.'"
_Lysander._ "But that was the first night of the Ionian's arrival."
_Percalus._ "Since then, I believe that thy father and others of the
Ephors overruled Periclides and Zeuxidamus, for I have heard all that
passed between my father and mother on the subject. But early this
morning, while my mother was assisting to attire me for the festival,
Periclides himself called at our house, and before I came from, home,
my mother, after a short conference with Dorcis, said to me, in the
exuberance of her joy, 'Go, child, and call here all the maidens, as
thy father ere long will go to outshine all the Grecian chiefs.'
So that if my father does go, thou wilt remain in Sparta. Then, my
beloved Lysander--and--and--but what ails thee? Is that thought so
_Lysander_. "Pardon me, pardon; thou art a Spartan maid; thou must
comprehend what should be felt by a Spartan soldier when he thinks of
humiliation and ingratitude to his chief. Gods! the man who rolled
back the storm of the Mede to be insulted in the face of Hellas by the
government of his native city! The blush of shame upon his cheek burns
The warrior bowed his face in his clasped hands.
Not a resentful thought natural to female vanity and exacting
affection then crossed the mind of the Spartan girl. She felt at once,
by the sympathy of kindred nurture, all that was torturing her lover.
She was even prouder of him that he forgot her for the moment to be
so truthful to his chief; and abandoning the innocent coyness she had
before shown, she put her arm round his neck with a pure and sisterly
fondness, and, kissing his brow, whispered soothingly, "It is for
me to ask pardon, that I did not think of this--that I spoke so
foolishly; but comfort--thy chief is not disgraced even by recall. Let
them recall Pausanias, they cannot recall his glory. When, in
Sparta, did we ever hold a brave man discredited by obedience to the
government? None are disgraced who do not disgrace themselves."
"Ah! my Percalus, so I should say; but so will not think Pausanias,
nor the allies; and in this slight to him I see the shadow of the
Erinnys. But it may not be true yet; nor can Periclides of himself
dispose thus of the Lacedaemonian armies."
"We will hope so, dear Lysander," said Percalus, who, born to be man's
helpmate, then only thought of consoling and cheering him.
"And if thou dost return to the camp, tarry as long as thou wilt, thou
wilt find Percalus the same."
"The Gods bless thee, maiden!" said Lysander, with grateful passion,
"and blessed be the State that rears such women; elsewhere Greece
knows them not."
"And does Greece elsewhere know such men?" asked Percalus, raising her
graceful head. "But so late--is it possible? See where the shadows are
falling! Thou wilt but be in time for thy pheidition. Farewell."
"But when to meet again?"
"Alas! when we can," She sprang lightly away; then, turning her face
as she fled, added, "Look out! thou wert taught to steal in thy
boyhood--steal an interview. I will be thy accomplice."
 Except occasionally the dry sudorific bath, all warm bathing was
strictly forbidden as enervating.
 An evident exaggeration. The Spartans had too great a regard for
the physical gifts as essential to warlike uses, to permit cruelties
that would have blinded their young warriors. And they even forbade
the practice of the pancratium as ferocious and needlessly dangerous
That night, as Agesilaus was leaving the public table at which he
supped, Periclides, who was one of the same company, but who had been
unusually silent during the entertainment, approached him, and said,
"Let us walk towards thy home together; the moon is up, and will
betray listeners to our converse should there be any."
"And in default of the moon, thy years, if not yet mine, permit thee a
"I have not drunk enough to need it," answered the Chief of the
Ephors, with unusual pleasantry; "but as thou art the younger man, I
will lean on thine arm, so as to be closer to thine ear."
"Thou hast something secret and grave to say, then?"
As they ascended the rugged acclivity, different groups, equally
returning home from the public tables, passed them. Though the sacred
festival had given excuse for prolonging the evening meal, and the
wine-cup had been replenished beyond the abstemious wont, still each
little knot of revellers passed, and dispersed in a sober and decorous
quiet which perhaps no other eminent city in Greece could have
exhibited; young and old equally grave and noiseless. For the Spartan
youth, no fair Hetaerae then opened homes adorned with flowers, and
gay with wit, no less than alluring with beauty; but as the streets
grew more deserted, there stood in the thick shadow of some angle, or
glided furtively by some winding wall, a bridegroom lover, tarrying
till all was still, to steal to the arms of the lawful wife, whom for
years perhaps he might not openly acknowledge, and carry in triumph to
But not of such young adventurers thought the sage Periclides, though
his voice was as low as a lover's "hist!" and his step as stealthy as
a bridegroom's tread.
"My friend," said he, "with the faint grey of the dawn there comes
to my house a new messenger from the camp, and the tidings he brings
change all our decisions. The Festival does not permit us as Ephors to
meet in public, or, at least, I think thou wilt agree with me it is
more prudent not to do so. All we should do now, should be in strict
"But hush! from whom the message--Pausanias?"
"No--from Aristides the Athenian."
"And to what effect?"
"The Ionians have revolted from the Spartan hegemony, and ranged
themselves under the Athenian flag."
"Gods! what I feared has already come to pass."
"And Aristides writes to me, with whom you remember that he has the
hospitable ties, that the Athenians cannot abandon their Ionian allies
and kindred who thus appeal to them, and that if Pausanias remain,
open war may break out between the two divisions into which the fleet
of Hellas is now rent."
"This must not be, for it would be war at sea; we and the
Peloponnesians have far the fewer vessels, the less able seamen.
Sparta would be conquered." "Rather than Sparta should be conquered,
must we not recall her General?"
"I would give all my lands, and sink out of the rank of Equal, that
this had not chanced," said Agesilaus, bitterly.
"Hist! hist! not so loud."
"I had hoped we might induce the Regent himself to resign the command,
and so have been spared the shame and the pain of an act that affects
the hero-blood of our kings. Could not that be done yet?"
"Dost thou think so? Pausanias resign in the midst of a mutiny? Thou
canst not know the man."
"Thou art right--impossible. I see no option now. He must be recalled.
But the Spartan hegemony is then gone--gone for ever--gone to Athens."
"Not so. Sparta hath many a worthy son beside this too arrogant
"Yes; but where his genius of command?--where his immense
renown?--where a man, I say, not in Sparta, but in all Greece, fit to
cope with Aristides and Cimon in the camp, with Themistocles in the
city of our rivals? If Pausanias fails, who succeeds?"
"Be not deceived. What must be, must; it is but a little time earlier
than Necessity would have fixed. Wouldst thou take the command?"
"I? The Gods forbid."
"Then, if thou wilt not, I know but one man."
"And who is he?"
Agesilaus started, and, by the light of the moon, gazed full upon the
face of the chief Ephor.
"Thy kinsman, Dorcis? Ah! Periclides, hast thou schemed this from the
Periclides changed colour at finding himself thus abruptly detected,
and as abruptly charged; however, he answered with laconic dryness,--
"Friend, did I scheme the revolt of the Ionians? But if thou knowest a
better man than Dorcis, speak. Is he not brave?"
"No. Tut! thou art as conscious as I am that thou mightest as well
compare the hat on thy brow to the brain it hides as liken the stolid
Dorcis to the fiery but profound Heracleid."
"Ay, ay! But there is one merit the hat has which the brow has not--it
can do no harm. Shall we send our chiefs to be made worse men by
Eastern manners? Dorcis has dull wit, granted; no arts can corrupt
it; he may not save the hegemony, but he will return as he went, a
"Thou art right again, and a wise man, Periclides. I submit. Thou hast
my vote for Dorcis. What else hast thou designed? for I see now that
whatever thou designest that wilt thou accomplish; and our meeting on
the Archeion is but an idle form."
"Nay, nay," said Periclides, with his austere smile, "thou givest me
a wit and a will that I have not. But as chief of the Ephors I watch
over the State. And though I design nothing, this I would counsel,--On
the day we answer the Ionians, we shall tell them, 'What ye ask, we
long since proposed to do.' And Dorcis is already on the seas as
successor to Pausanias."
"When will Dorcis leave?" said Agesilaus, curtly.
"If the other Ephors concur, to-morrow night."
"Here we are at my doors, wilt thou not enter?"
"No. I have others yet to see. I knew we should be of the same mind."
Agesilaus made no reply; but as he entered the court-yard of his
house, he muttered uneasily,--"And if Lysander is right, and Sparta
is too small for Pausanias, do not we bring back a giant who will
widen it to his own girth, and rase the old foundations to make room
for the buildings he would add?"
* * * * *
(UNFINISHED.) The pages covered by the manuscript of this uncompleted
story of "Pausanias" are scarcely more numerous than those which its
author has filled with the notes made by him from works consulted with
special reference to the subject of it. Those notes (upon Greek and
Persian antiquities) are wholly without interest for the general
public. They illustrate the author's conscientious industry, but they
afford no clue to the plot of his romance. Under the sawdust, however,
thus fallen in the industrial process of an imaginative work,
unhappily unfinished, I have found two specimens of original
composition. They are rough sketches of songs expressly composed for
"Pausanias;" and, since they are not included in the foregoing portion
of it, I think they may properly be added here. The unrhymed lyrics
introduced by my father into some of the opening chapters of this
romance appear to have been suggested by some fragments of Mimnermus,
and composed about the same time as "The Lost Tales of Miletus."
Indeed, one of them has been already printed in that work. The
following verses, however, which are rhymed, bear evidence of having
been composed at a much earlier period. I know not whether it was
my father's intention to discard them altogether, or to alter them
materially, or to insert them without alteration in some later portion
of the romance. But I print them here precisely as they are written.
* * * * *
_Partially borrowed from Aristophanes' "Peace,"_ v. 1127, etc.
Away, away, with the helm and greaves,
Away with the leeks and cheese!
I have conquer'd my passion for wounds and blows,
And the worst that I wish to the worst of my foes
Is the glory and gain
Of a year's campaign
On a diet of leeks and cheese.
* * * * *
I love to drink by my own warm hearth,
Nourisht with logs from the pine-clad heights,
Which were hewn in the blaze of the summer sun
To treasure his rays for the winter nights
On the hearth where my grandam spun.
I love to drink of the grape I press,
And to drink with a friend of yore;
Quick! bring me a bough from the myrtle tree
Which is budding afresh by Nicander's door.
Tell Nicander himself he must sup with me,
And along with the bough from his myrtle tree
We will circle the lute, in a choral glee
To the goddess of corn and peace.
For Nicander and I were fast friends at school.
Here he comes! We are boys once more.
When the grasshopper chaunts in the bells of thyme
I love to watch if the Lemnian grape
Is donning the purple that decks its prime;
And, as I sit at my porch to see,
With my little one trying to scale my knee,
To join in the grasshopper's chaunt, and sing
To Apollo and Pan from the heart of Spring.
Listen, O list!
Hear ye not, neighbours, the voice of Peace?
"The swallow I hear in the household eaves."
Io Aegien! Peace!
"And the skylark at poise o'er the bended sheaves,"
Io Aegien! Peace!
Here and there, everywhere, hear we Peace,
Hear her, and see her, and clasp her--Peace!
The grasshopper chaunts in the bells of thyme,
And the halcyon is back to her nest in Greece!
IN PRAISE OF THE ATHENIAN KNIGHTS.
_Imitated from the "Knights" of Aristophanes_, v. 505, etc.
Chaunt the fame of the Knights, or in war or in peace,
Chaunt the darlings of Athens, the bulwarks of Greece
Pressing foremost to glory, on wave and on shore,
Where the steed has no footing they win with the oar.
On their bosoms the battle splits, wasting its shock.
If they charge like the whirlwind, they stand like the rock.
Ha! they count not the numbers, they scan not the ground,
When a foe comes in sight on his lances they bound.
Fails a foot in its speed? heed it not. One and all
Spurn the earth that they spring from, and own not a fall.
O the darlings of Athens, the bulwarks of Greece,
Wherefore envy the lovelocks they perfume in peace!
Wherefore scowl if they fondle a quail or a dove,
Or inscribe on a myrtle, the names that they love?
Does Alcides not teach us how valour is mild?
Lo, at rest from his labours he plays with a child.
When the slayer of Python has put down his bow,
By his lute and his lovelocks Apollo we know.
Fear'd, O rowers, those gallants their beauty to spoil
When they sat on your benches, and shared in your toil!
When with laughter they row'd to your cry "Hippopai,"
"On, ye coursers of wood, for the palm wreath, away!"
Did those dainty youths ask you to store in your holds
Or a cask from their crypt or a lamb from their folds?
No, they cried, "We are here both to fight and to fast,
Place us first in the fight, at the board serve us last!
Wheresoever is peril, we knights lead the way,
Wheresoever is hardship, we claim it as pay.
"Call us proud, O Athenians, we know it full well,
And we give you the life we're too haughty to sell."
Hail the stoutest in war, hail the mildest in peace,
Hail the darlings of Athens, the bulwarks of Greece!
 [Greek: Turou te kai kromuon]. Cheese and onions, the rations
furnished to soldiers in campaign.
 It ripened earlier than the others. The words of the Chorus are,
[Greek: tas Laemnias ampelous ei pepainousin aedae].
: Variation--"What a blessing is life in a noon of Spring."
 Variation--"The adorners of Athens, the bulwarks of Greece."
 Variation--"Keenest racers to glory, on wave or on shore, By the
rush of the steed or the stroke of the oar!"
 Variation--"Falls there one? never help him! Our knights one and
THE HAUNTED AND THE HAUNTERS:
OR, THE HOUSE AND THE BRAIN
[This tale first appeared in _Blackwood's Magazine_, August, 1859. A
portion of it as then published is now suppressed, because encroaching
too much on the main plot of the "Strange Story." As it stands,
however, it may be considered the preliminary outline of that more
elaborate attempt to construct an interest akin to that which our
forefathers felt in tales of witchcraft and ghostland, out of ideas
and beliefs which have crept into fashion in the society of our own
day. There has, perhaps, been no age in which certain phenomena
that in all ages have been produced by, or upon, certain physical
temperaments, have excited so general a notice,--more perhaps among
the educated classes than the uneducated. Nor do I believe that there
is any age in which those phenomena have engendered throughout a wider
circle a more credulous superstition. But, on the other hand, there
has certainly been no age in which persons of critical and inquisitive
intellect--seeking to divest what is genuine in these apparent
vagaries of Nature from the cheats of venal impostors and the
exaggeration of puzzled witnesses--have more soberly endeavoured
to render such exceptional thaumaturgia of philosophical use,
in enlarging our conjectural knowledge of the complex laws of
being--sometimes through physiological, sometimes through metaphysical
research. Without discredit, however, to the many able and
distinguished speculators on so vague a subject, it must be observed
that their explanations as yet have been rather ingenious than
satisfactory. Indeed, the first requisites for conclusive theory are
at present wanting. The facts are not sufficiently generalized, and
the evidences for them have not been sufficiently tested.
It is just when elements of the marvellous are thus struggling between
superstition and philosophy, that they fall by right to the domain of
Art--the art of poet or tale-teller. They furnish the constructor
of imaginative fiction with materials for mysterious terror of a
character not exhausted by his predecessors, and not foreign to the
notions that float on the surface of his own time; while they allow
him to wander freely over that range of conjecture which is favourable
to his purposes, precisely because science itself has not yet
disenchanted that debateable realm of its haunted shadows and goblin
A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to
me one day, as if between jest and earnest,--" Fancy! since we last
met, I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London."
"Really haunted?--and by what? ghosts?"
"Well, I can't answer that question; all I know is this--six weeks ago
my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet
street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, 'Apartments
Furnished.' The situation suited us: we entered the house--liked the
rooms--engaged them by the week--and left them the third day. No power
on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I don't
wonder at it."
"What did you see?"
"Excuse me--I have no desire to be ridiculed as a superstitious
dreamer--nor, on the other hand, could I ask you to accept on my
affirmation what you would hold to be incredible without the evidence
of your own senses. Let me only say this, it was not so much what we
saw or heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes
of our own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that
drove us away, as it was an undefinable terror which seized both of us
whenever we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which
we neither saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all
was, that for once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman
though she be--and allowed, after the third night, that it was
impossible to stay a fourth in that house. Accordingly, on the fourth
morning I summoned the woman who kept the house and attended on us,
and told her that the rooms did not quite suit us, and we would not
stay out our week. She said, dryly, 'I know why; you have stayed
longer than any other lodger. Few ever stayed a second night; none
before you a third. But I take it they have been very kind to you.'
"'They--who?' I asked, affecting to smile.
"'Why, they who haunt the house, whoever they are. I don't mind them;
I remember them many years ago, when I lived in this house, not as a
servant; but I know they will be the death of me some day. I don't
care--I'm old, and must die soon anyhow; and then I shall be with
them, and in this house still.' The woman spoke with so dreary
a calmness, that really it was a sort of awe that prevented my
conversing with her further. I paid for my week, and too happy were my
wife and I to get off so cheaply."
"You excite my curiosity," said I; "nothing I should like better than
to sleep in a haunted house. Pray give me the address of the one which
you left so ignominiously."
My friend gave me the address; and when we parted, I walked straight
towards the house thus indicated.
It is situated on the north side of Oxford Street, in a dull but
respectable thoroughfare. I found the house shut up--no bill at
the window, and no response to my knock. As I was turning away, a
beer-boy, collecting pewter pots at the neighbouring areas, said to
me, "Do you want any one at that house, sir?"
"Yes, I heard it was to be let."
"Let!--why, the woman who kept it is dead--has been dead these three
weeks, and no one can be found to stay there, though Mr. J---- offered
ever so much. He offered mother, who chars for him, L1 a week just to
open and shut the windows, and she would not."
"Would not!--and why?"
"The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in
her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her."
"Pooh!--you speak of Mr. J----. Is he the owner of the house?"
"Where does he live?"
"In G---- Street, No. --."
"What is he?--in any business?"
"No, sir--nothing particular; a single gentleman."
I gave the pot-boy the gratuity earned by his liberal information, and
proceeded to Mr. J----, in G---- Street, which was close by the street
that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to find Mr.
J---- at home--an elderly man, with intelligent countenance and
I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the
house was considered to be haunted--that I had a strong desire to
examine a house with so equivocal a reputation--that I should be
greatly obliged if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a
night. I was willing to pay for that privilege whatever he might be
inclined to ask. "Sir," said Mr. J----, with great courtesy, "the
house is at your service, for as short or as long a time as you
please. Rent is out of the question--the obligation will be on my side
should you be able to discover the cause of the strange phenomena
which at present deprive it of all value. I cannot let it, for I
cannot even get a servant to keep it in order or answer the door.
Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may use that expression, not only
by night, but by day; though at night the disturbances are of a more
unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming character. The poor old
woman who died in it three weeks ago was a pauper whom I took out of
a workhouse, for in her childhood she had been known to some of my
family, and had once been in such good circumstances that she had
rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior education
and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce to remain
in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and the
coroner's inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighbourhood, I
have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house,
much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent-free for a year
to any one who would pay its rates and taxes."
"How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?"
"That I can scarcely tell you, but very many years since. The old
woman I spoke of said it was haunted when she rented it between thirty
and forty years ago. The fact is, that my life has been spent in the
East Indies, and in the civil service of the Company. I returned to
England last year, on inheriting the fortune of an uncle, among
whose possessions was the house in question. I found it shut up and
uninhabited. I was told that it was haunted, that no one would inhabit
it. I smiled at what seemed to me so idle a story. I spent some money
in repairing it--added to its old-fashioned furniture a few modern
articles--advertised it, and obtained a lodger for a year. He was a
colonel retired on half-pay. He came in with his family, a son and a
daughter, and four or five servants: they all left the house the next
day; and, although each of them declared that he had seen something
different from that which had scared the others, a something still was
equally terrible to all. I really could not in conscience sue, nor
even blame, the colonel for breach of agreement. Then I put in the
old woman I have spoken of, and she was empowered to let the house in
apartments. I never had one lodger who stayed more than three days.
I do not tell you their stories--to no two lodgers have there been
exactly the same phenomena repeated. It is better that you should
judge for yourself, than enter the house with an imagination
influenced by previous narratives; only be prepared to see and to
hear something or other, and take whatever precautions you yourself
"Have you never had a curiosity yourself to pass a night in that
"Yes. I passed not a night, but three hours in broad daylight alone in
that house. My curiosity is not satisfied, but it is quenched. I have
no desire to renew the experiment. You cannot complain, you see,
sir, that I am not sufficiently candid; and unless your interest be
exceedingly eager and your nerves unusually strong, I honestly add,
that I advise you not to pass a night in that house."
"My interest _is_ exceedingly keen," said I, "and though only a coward
will boast of his nerves in situations wholly unfamiliar to him, yet
my nerves have been seasoned in such variety of danger that I have the
right to rely on them--even in a haunted house."
Mr. J---- said very little more; he took the keys of the house out
of his bureau, gave them to me,--and, thanking him cordially for his
frankness, and his urbane concession to my wish, I carried off my
Impatient for the experiment, as soon as I reached home, I summoned my
confidential servant--a young man of gay spirits, fearless temper, and
as free from superstitious prejudice as any one I could think of.
"F----," said I, "you remember in Germany how disappointed we were at
not finding a ghost in that old castle, which was said to be haunted
by a headless apparition? Well, I have heard of a house in London
which, I have reason to hope, is decidedly haunted. I mean to sleep
there to-night. From what I hear, there is no doubt that something
will allow itself to be seen or to be heard--something, perhaps,
excessively horrible. Do you think if I take you with me, I may rely
on your presence of mind, whatever may happen?"
"Oh, sir! pray trust me," answered F----, grinning with delight.
"Very well; then here are the keys of the house--this is the address.
Go now,--select for me any bedroom you please; and since the house
has not been inhabited for weeks, make up a good fire--air the bed
well--see, of course, that there are candles as well as fuel. Take
with you my revolver and my dagger--so much for my weapons--arm
yourself equally well; and if we are not a match for a dozen ghosts,
we shall be but a sorry couple of Englishmen."
I was engaged for the rest of the day on business so urgent that I had
not leisure to think much on the nocturnal adventure to which I had
plighted my honour. I dined alone, and very late, and while dining,
read, as is my habit. I selected one of the volumes of Macaulay's
Essays. I thought to myself that I would take the book with me; there
was so much of healthfulness in the style, and practical life in the
subjects, that it would serve as an antidote against the influences of
Accordingly, about half-past nine, I put the book into my pocket,
and strolled leisurely towards the haunted house. I took with me
a favourite dog,--an exceedingly sharp, bold, and vigilant
bull-terrier,--a dog fond of prowling about strange ghostly corners
and passages at night in search of rats--a dog of dogs for a ghost.
It was a summer night, but chilly, the sky somewhat gloomy and
overcast. Still there was a moon--faint and sickly, but still a
moon--and if the clouds permitted, after midnight it would be
brighter. I reached the house, knocked, and my servant opened with a
"All right, sir, and very comfortable."
"Oh!" said I, rather disappointed; "have you not seen nor heard
"Well, sir, I must own I have heard something queer."
"The sound of feet pattering behind me; and once or twice small noises
like whispers close at my ear--nothing more."
"You are not at all frightened?"
"I! not a bit of it, sir;" and the man's bold look reassured me on one
point--viz. that happen what might, he would not desert me.
We were in the hall, the street-door closed, and my attention was
now drawn to my dog. He had at first run in eagerly enough, but had
sneaked back to the door, and was scratching and whining to get out.
After patting him on the head, and encouraging him gently, the dog
seemed to reconcile himself to the situation, and followed me and
F---- through the house, but keeping close at my heels instead of
hurrying inquisitively in advance, which was his usual and normal
habit in all strange places. We first visited the subterranean
apartments, the kitchen and other offices, and especially the cellars,
in which last there were two or three bottles of wine, still left in
a bin, covered with cobwebs, and evidently, by their appearance,
undisturbed for many years. It was clear that the ghosts were not
winebibbers. For the rest we discovered nothing of interest. There was
a gloomy little backyard, with very high walls. The stones of this
yard were very damp; and what with the damp, and what with the dust
and smoke-grime on the pavement, our feet left a slight impression
where we passed. And now appeared the first strange phenomenon
witnessed by myself in this strange abode.
I saw, just before me, the print of a foot suddenly form itself, as
it were. I stopped, caught hold of my servant, and pointed to it. In
advance of that footprint as suddenly dropped another. We both saw it.
I advanced quickly to the place; the footprint kept advancing before
me, a small footprint--the foot of a child: the impression was too
faint thoroughly to distinguish the shape, but it seemed to us both
that it was the print of a naked foot. This phenomenon ceased when we
arrived at the opposite wall, nor did it repeat itself on returning.
We remounted the stairs, and entered the rooms on the ground floor, a
dining parlour, a small back-parlour, and a still smaller third room
that had been probably appropriated to a footman--all still as death.
We then visited the drawing-rooms, which seemed fresh and new. In the
front room I seated myself in an arm-chair. F---- placed on the table
the candlestick with which he had lighted us. I told him to shut the
door. As he turned to do so, a chair opposite to me moved from the
wall quickly and noiselessly, and dropped itself about a yard from my
own chair, immediately fronting it.
"Why, this is better than the turning-tables," said I, with a
half-laugh; and as I laughed, my dog put back his head and howled.
F----, coming back, had not observed the movement of the chair. He
employed himself now in stilling the dog. I continued to gaze on the
chair, and fancied I saw on it a pale blue misty outline of a human
figure, but an outline so indistinct that I could only distrust my own
vision. The dog now was quiet.
"Put back that chair opposite to me," said I to F----; "put it back to
F---- obeyed. "Was that you, sir?" said he, turning abruptly.
"Why, something struck me. I felt it sharply on the shoulder--just
"No," said I. "But we have jugglers present, and though we may not
discover their tricks, we shall catch _them_ before they frighten
We did not stay long in the drawing-rooms--in fact, they felt so damp
and so chilly that I was glad to get to the fire upstairs. We locked
the doors of the drawing-rooms--a precaution which, I should observe,
we had taken with all the rooms we had searched below. The bedroom my
servant had selected for me was the best on the floor--a large one,
with two windows fronting the street. The four-posted bed, which took
up no inconsiderable space, was opposite to the fire, which burnt
clear and bright; a door in the wall to the left, between the bed and
the window, communicated with the room which my servant appropriated
to himself. This last was a small room with a sofa-bed, and had no
communication with the landing-place--no other door but that which
conducted to the bedroom I was to occupy. On either side of my
fireplace was a cupboard, without locks, flush with the wall, and
covered with the same dull-brown paper. We examined these cupboards
--only hooks to suspend female dresses--nothing else; we sounded the
walls--evidently solid--the outer walls of the building. Having
finished the survey of these apartments, warmed myself a few moments,
and lighted my cigar, I then, still accompanied by F----, went forth
to complete my reconnoitre. In the landing-place there was another
door; it was closed firmly. "Sir," said my servant, in surprise, "I
unlocked this door with all the others when I first came; it cannot
have got locked from the inside, for--"
Before he had finished his sentence, the door, which neither of us
then was touching, opened quietly of itself. We looked at each other a
single instant. The same thought seized both--some human agency might
be detected here. I rushed in first, my servant followed. A small
blank dreary room without furniture--a few empty boxes and hampers
in a corner--a small window--the shutters closed--not even a
fire-place--no other door but that by which we had entered--no carpet
on the floor, and the floor seemed very old, uneven, worm-eaten,
mended here and there, as was shown by the whiter patches on the wood;
but no living being, and no visible place in which a living being
could have hidden. As we stood gazing round, the door by which we had
entered closed as quietly as it had before opened: we were imprisoned.
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