The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. I, No. 1, Nov. 1857

Part 4 out of 5

not to submit to such exactions. They resolved upon war. But the great
Aurungzebe was then on the throne of Delhi; and though the Moghul empire
had declined somewhat from the standard set up by Akbar and maintained by
Shah Jehan, the fighting merchants were soon taught that they were but as
children in the hands of its chief. They were driven out of Bengal, and
Aurungzebe thought of expelling them from his whole empire. The punishment
of death was visited upon some of the East India Company's officers and
servants by the Moghul. This severe lesson made a deep impression on the
English. They resumed their humble position as traders on sufferance. They
never thought of conquest again. It was not until every man who had been
concerned in that business had long been in his grave, that the English
dared so much as to think of making another war. Though the Moghuls
rapidly became powerless after the death of Aurungzebe, the blows struck
by anticipation in their behalf protected them for forty years against the
ambition of the intrusive Occidentals, and even for some time after Nadir
Shah's Persian invasion had demonstrated that their dynasty was as weak
as that of Lodi had been found when Baber came into the land. Whether the
English have been right or wrong in making themselves masters of India, it
is certain that they were forced upon the work against their own wishes and
inclinations, and in self-defence. The very expedition which Clive made use
of to effect the subjugation of Bengal had been undertaken on defensive
grounds; and so fearful was even that great man of the consequences of a
union of the forces of the Moghul with those at the command of the French
in the East, that he was at first desirous of making peace with Surajah
Doulah himself. When the arrival of reinforcements had induced him to
take a bolder course, and the destruction of that fierce viceroy had been
resolved upon, it was not until after much doubt and hesitation, and
against his original judgment, that that course of action was entered upon
which ended in the victory of Plassey. He knew the risk that was run in
fighting a pitched battle against a force nearly twenty times larger than
his own; and had the viceroy been either a respectable ruler or a good
soldier, the English, humanly speaking, must have then failed as signally
as their predecessors of 1687; but as he was as destitute of humanity as of
courage and skill, and could neither animate his followers by affection nor
command them by force of character, he was utterly routed. Not six hundred
men fell in the battle of Plassey, on both sides, and most of these were on
the side of the vanquished. Seldom has it happened that so mighty a change
has been effected with so little slaughter. One is reminded of the battles
fought by the few Romans under Lucullus against the entire array of the
Armenian monarchy.

Had circumstances not led to the display of British power at the time when
great prizes were sure to follow even from minor exertions, England never
could have become mistress of India. Had the English remained traders
forty years longer,--or even for half that time, perhaps,--they would have
encountered very different foes from those which they overthrew so easily
when forced to fight for property and life. India was breaking up in 1757,
and the process of reformation was about to begin. Had not the English been
brought into the vast arena, either a number of powerful monarchies would
have been formed, or the whole country would have passed under some new
dynasty, which would have revived the power of the state with that rapidity
which is so often exhibited in the East, when new and able men assume the
reins of government. Hyder Ali might have made himself the master of all
India, had it been his lot to contend only with native rulers and native
races. Had this been the course of events, and had circumstances brought
him into collision with the East India Company when he had made himself the
Moghul's successor, can it be believed that he would have experienced any
more difficulty in dealing with them than was found by Aurungzebe? We know
that the English found in Hyder a very able foe, with but limited means
at his disposal, and when they were masters of half the country, and had
been almost uniformly victorious. Can it be supposed that they could have
effected anything against all India, ruled by so consummate a statesman as
Hyder Ali? There seems to have been something providential in the events
that caused them to pass from traders to conquerors, at the only time when
such a transition could be made either with safety of success. That their
career of conquest has been occasionally marked by injustice and crime
proves nothing against the position that they may have been appointed by
a higher Power to work out a revolution in the East. "The dark mystery
of the moral world," in this as in a thousand other instances, remains
impenetrable. Heaven selects its own agents, and all that it becomes us to
say concerning such relations is, that they do not appear in all cases to
be made from among men specially entitled to the honors of canonisation.

The English have frequently been denounced, not only for their errors in
governing India, but for their conquest of that country. The French have
been especially fervent in these denunciations. It is a fact, however, that
the French saw nothing wrong in subduing India until all their own plans
to that end had utterly failed. The device originated with them, but the
English applied it. Dupleix planned for France what Clive executed for
England. The French adhered to their plans for years, and it was not until
a very recent period that the last remnants of their influence disappeared
from India. They saw not the evil involved in the overthrowing of virtuous
nabobs and venerable viceroys, until time and a whole train of events had
proved that England alone was competent to the full performance of the
work. The English in India have not, on all occasions, been saints; but we
are unable to see what moral right the French have to reproach them with
the enumeration of their errors. In the East, France was "overcrowed" by
England; and that is the sole and the very simple cause of the vast amount
of "sympathy" which the French have bestowed upon suffering Indian princes,
whose condition in no sense would have been improved, had fortune favored
the Gallic race, instead of the Saxon, in their struggle for supremacy in

The prejudice that exists in many minds against England, concerning her
Indian empire, is in no small degree owing to something of which she is
justly proud; to the talent that characterized the prosecution--his friends
called it the persecution--of Warren Hastings. No man, not even Strafford,
when borne down by the whole weight of the country party in the first
session of the Long Parliament, ever encountered so able a host as that
which set itself to effect the ruin of the great British proconsul. He
was acquitted by his judges, but he stands blackened forever on the most
magnificent pages of his country's eloquence. Burke's speeches are yet read
everywhere; and to Burke, Hastings was the principle of Evil incarnate.
The two great divisions of civilized mankind hold Burke in lasting
remembrance,--the liberals for his labors in the early part of his life,
and the conservatives for big writings against the French Revolution; and
it is impossible to admire him without condemning Hastings. It is equally
impossible to condemn Hastings without condemning the nation for which he
performed deeds so vicious and cruel, and which formally acquitted him of
each and every charge preferred by Burke and his immortal associates, in
the name of the Commons of England. Even those charges were the result, not
of conscientious conviction on the part of the Commons, but of Mr. Pitt's
determination to crush one who promised to become a formidable political
rival. The arguments and eloquence of such men as Burke, Fox, Sheridan, and
Grey, constitute a splendid armory, from which the enemies of England can
forever draw admirable weapons with which to assail her Indian policy; and
they have not been backward in making use of this mighty advantage. No one,
who has ever sought to defend England's course in the East, but has had
experience of the difficulties which those great men have placed in the
way of a successful vindication of their country's cause. Either they were
honest, or they were not. If honest, what shall be said of the nation which
would not listen to them? If dishonest, what are we to think of men, the
first statesmen of their age, who, for mere party ends, had persecuted to
his ruin one who was in no respect their inferior, and who had saved India
for England? Our own opinion Is that Burke and his associates were honest,
and that the only dishonest men in the prosecuting party were William Pitt
and Henry Dundas,--the first being chief minister, and the other second
only to the premier himself in the government. Pitt talked much of his
conscience, after having absolved Hastings on the very worst of the charges
that had been preferred against him, and then condemned him on lighter
charges. When Roger Wildrake heard the landlord at Windsor talk much of
his conscience, he was led to observe that his measures were less and his
charges larger than they had been in those earlier times when sin was
allowed to take its natural course. It was so with Pitt, who was guilty
of gross injustice, according to his own arguments, and then threw his
conscience into the scale against the accused party, when he saw that
that party's acquittal would probably lead to his being converted into a
successful political rival. Hastings deserved severe censure, and no light
punishment, for some of his deeds; but not even Burke would have condemned
him to the slow torture to which he was sentenced by one who believed
him to be innocent, and the object of party persecution. But the nice
distinctions which Englishmen and Americans can make in the cause and
course of this famous state trial, because they live in the very atmosphere
of party politics, are utterly unknown to the men of continental Europe;
and until the end of time, England will be condemned out of the mouths of
her most brilliant sons, whenever her foes--and she is too great not to
have many and bitter foes--shall discuss the history of her Indian empire.

Every nation condemns conquest, and every nation with power to enter upon
a career of conquest rushes eagerly upon it. The harshest condemnation
that has visited England because of her Indian successes has proceeded
from nations who have never been backward in seizing the lands of other
nations. She has been stigmatized as a usurper, and as having destroyed the
independence of Indian states. The facts do not warrant these charges. She
has rarely had a contest with any power which was not as much an intruder
in India as herself. The Moghul dynasty was as foreign to India as the
East India Company, or the house of Hanover; and the viceroys sent to
rule over its vast and populous provinces had the same bases of power as
were possessed by Clive, and Hastings, and Wellesley, and Bentinck, and
Ellenborough, and Dalhousie. The Moghuls obtained Indian dominion by
conquests that were rendered easy by Indian troubles; and this is precisely
the history of England's Oriental dominion. What difference there is, is
favorable to England. The Moghuls were deliberate invaders of India; the
founder of that dynasty being an adventurer who sought an empire sword in
hand, and won it by violence which no man had provoked. Baber was to India
what the Norman William was to England. He long contemplated the conquest
of the country, showing a wolf-like perseverance in hunting down his prey.
For two-and-twenty years he had his object in view, and invaded India five
times before he obtained the throne of Delhi. The English were forced to
assume the part of conquerors, and would gladly have remained traders.
They did not commence their military career until the Moghul had become a
mere shadow, and when that potentate was altogether unable to protect them
against the tyrannical practices of his lieutenants. They had to choose
between war and extermination, and they belonged to a race which never
hesitates when forced to make such a choice. Their wars were waged with the
Moghul's viceroys, who were aiming at the foundation of dynastic rule, each
in his own government, or with other princes, who were equally usurpers
with those viceroys, the Mahratta chiefs, for example, and Hyder Ali.
One war led to another, in all of which the English were victorious,
until their power extended itself over all India. In one hundred and six
years--dating from the capture of Madras by the French in 1746, which event
must be taken as the commencement of their military career in India, and
closing with the annexation of Pegu, December 28, 1852,--they had completed
their work. That, in the course of operations so mighty, and relating to
the condition of so many millions of people, they were sometimes guilty of
acts of singular injustice, is true, and might be inferred, if there were
no facts upon which to base the charge. It is impossible that it should
have been otherwise, considering the nature of man, and the character of
many of the instruments by which great enterprises are accomplished. But we
think it may safely be said, that never was there a career of conquest of
such extent accompanied with so little of wrong and suffering to the body
of the people. As against the wrong that was perpetrated, and the suffering
that was inseparable from wars so numerous and long-continued, are to be
set the reign of order and law, under which the mass of the inhabitants
have been able to cultivate their fields in quiet, and with the assurance
that they should reap where they had sowed, undisturbed by the incursions
of robber-bands. The cessation of the Mahratta invasions alone is an ample
compensation for whatever of evil may have marked the course of British
conquest. The stop that has been put to the cruelties of the native rulers
ought not to be forgotten in estimating the amount of evil and of good
which that conquest has brought upon India. The world has been shocked by
the cruelties of which the rebellious Sepoys have been guilty; but they
can astonish no one who is familiar with the history of the races to which
these mutineers belong. An indifference to life, and a love of cruelty for
cruelty's sake, are common characteristics of most of the Orientals, and
are chiefly conspicuous in the ruling classes. The reader of Indian history
sickens over details compared with which all that is told of the horrors
of the Black Hole of Calcutta is tame and common-place. The English have
prevented repetitions of those outrages on humanity, wherever it has been
in their power to coerce the princes. They have pared the claws and drawn
the teeth of these human tigers. They have acted humanely; yet it may be
doubted if they would not have consulted their own immediate interests more
closely, if they had acted the part of tyrants rather than of protectors.
By ruling through the princes, and allowing them to act as "middle-men,"
they would have been less troubled with mutinies, and could have amassed
greater sums of money. It is to their credit that they have pursued
the nobler course; nor ought they to repent of it even in the midst of
disasters brought upon them, we are firmly convinced, as much by the
mildness of their rule as by any other cause that can be mentioned.

It is yet too early to attempt to account for the rebellion of the Bengal
army. That rebellion took the world by surprise, and nowhere more so, it
would seem, than in England. A remarkable proof of this is to be found in
the tone and language of the debate that took place in the British House of
Commons on the 27th of July, in which Mr. Disraeli, Lord Palmerston, Lord
John Russell, Mr. Whiteside, Mr. T. Baring, Sir T.E. Perry, Mr. Mangles,
Mr. Vernon Smith, and others, participated. That debate was most lively and
interesting; and the reading of the ample report in the "Times" revives the
recollection of the great field-days of the English senate. Mr. Disraeli's
speech is a masterpiece, and would have done honor to times when eloquence
was far more common than it is now. Yet the conclusion to which the careful
reader of the report must come is, that neither Mr. Disraeli, nor the
Premier, nor the President of the Board of Control, nor the Chairman of
the Directors of the East India Company, nor any other of the speakers,
had a definite idea of the cause of the sudden mutiny of the Sepoys. It
is impossible not to admire Mr. Disraeli's talents, as displayed in this
speech; and equally impossible is it to find in that speech anything that
an intelligent observer of Indian affairs can regard as settling the
question, Why did the Sepoys of the Bengal army mutiny in 1857? Everything
that he brought forward as a cause of the mutiny was distinctly proved not
to be worthy of the name of a cause. Yet the men who could show that he had
failed to clear up the mystery could themselves throw no light upon it. The
government was especially ignorant of all that it should have known; and
there is something almost ludicrous in the tone of the speech made by the
President of the Board of Control.

It is not for us to speak authoritatively as to the cause of the Sepoy
mutiny, but we venture to express our concurrence with those who have
regarded it as, in considerable measure, of Mahometan origin. The Mahometan
rule was displaced by the British rule. The Mahometans were for centuries
the aristocracy of India, standing to the genuine Indians in pretty much
the same relation that the Normans held to the Saxons in England; only
it is but justice to them to say, that they rarely bore themselves so
offensively towards the Indians as the Normans were accustomed to bear
themselves towards the English. They have never lost the recollection of
their former _status_, or ceased to sigh for its restoration. Nor is the
time so very remote when they were yet great in the land. Old men among
them can recollect when Tippoo Saib was treated as an equal by the English,
and have not forgotten how powerful was his father, Hyder. Some few
aged Mussulmans there may be yet living who heard from their sires or
grandsires, who saw it with their mortal eyes, of the glories of the
magnificent Aurungzebe, ere the Persian, or the Affghan, or the Mahratta
had carried fire and sword into Shahjehanabad. Two not over-long lives
would measure the whole interval of time between the punishment of the
English by Aurungzebe and the mutiny at Meerut. Time enough has not yet
elapsed to cause the Mahometans to forget what they have been, or to cease
to hope that they may yet surpass their fathers. They are not actuated by
anything of a sentimental character, but desire to win back, and to enjoy
at the expense of the Indian races, the solid advantages of which they
have been deprived through the ascendency of a Christian people in the
East. "Mahometans in India sigh for the restoration of the old Mahometan
_regime_," says Colonel Sleeman, "not from any particular attachment to the
descendants of Tymour, but with precisely the same feelings that Whigs and
Tories sigh for the return to power of their respective parties in England;
it would give them all the offices in a country where office is everything.
Among them, as among ourselves, every man is disposed to rate his own
abilities highly, and to have a good deal of confidence in his own good
luck; and all think, that if the field were once opened to them by such a
change, they should very soon be able to find good positions for themselves
and their children in it. Perhaps there are few communities in the world,
among whom education is more generally diffused than among the Mahometans
in India. He who holds an office worth twenty rupees a month commonly
gives his sons an education equal to that of a prime-minister." [Footnote:
_Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official_, Vol. II. pp. 282,
283.--Colonel Sleeman's work is one of the best ever published on
India,--learned, liberal, and philosophical. It has been highly praised
by so competent a judge as Mr. Grote.] This very capability for rule must
render them not only all the more desirous of obtaining it, but exceedingly
dangerous as seekers after it. They are not an ignorant rabble, but men who
have an intelligent idea of what they want, and rational modes of effecting
its realization. Colonel Sleeman adds, "It is not only the desire for
office that makes the educated Mahometans cherish the recollection of
the old _regime_ in Hindostan; they say, 'We pray every night for the
Emperor and his family, because our forefathers ate of the salt of His
forefathers,'--that is, our ancestors were in the service of his ancestors,
and consequently were of the _aristocracy_ of the country. Whether they
really were so matters not; they persuade themselves or their children that
they were." In this way the idea of superiority has been kept up among the
Mahometans of India; and they have continued to hope for the restoration
of their old political supremacy, as pious Jews dream of the rebuilding of
Zion. That they were at the bottom of the Meerut mutiny may be taken for
granted. That they took for their leader the heir of the Moghul shows the
Mahometan nature of the outbreak. At the same time, we believe that if
it had not been for the imbecility of Hewitt, who commanded at Meerut,
the mutiny never would have occurred, or the mutineers would have been
promptly put down. Even after they had escaped from Meerut, Delhi never
could have fallen into their hands, if that city--so important, morally
and geographically, as well as in a military point of view--had not
been without a garrison. That a station of such consequence, stored so
abundantly with all the munitions of war, should have been left in an
utterly defenceless condition, is a fact that creates inexpressible
astonishment, notwithstanding all that happened during the Russian war. Mr.
Whiteside, in the debate of the 27th of July, stated that the late General
Sir C.J. Napier "said of Delhi, that to guard against surprise, considering
its position, its treasures, and its magazines, it should always be
defended by twelve thousand picked men." From all that appears, there were
not twelve hundred men, or anything like that number, of any kind, in
Delhi, last May, to protect either the inhabitants or the stores there
deposited. Such another instance of neglect it would be impossible to find
in history, after due warning given. Long ago, Albany Fonblanque said, "The
sign of the fool with his finger in his mouth, and the sentiment, 'Who'd
have thought it?' is the precise emblem of English jurisprudence." The same
sign would seem to be applicable to some other branches of the English
public service, as well as to that of the law. Perhaps it was because
of the warning that nothing was done,--that being the usual course with
governments; while it was thought a duty to treat with a sort of spiteful
neglect every warning that came from Sir C.J. Napier, because he had a
rough, fiery way of expressing his opinion of the folly of those who are
perpetually giving occasion for warnings which they never heed,--as if in
all ages roughness and fire had not been especial characteristics of the
prophetic office.



The railway traveller, journeying between Springfield and Hartford along
the banks of the fair Connecticut, sees from the car window, far away to
the eastward, across the broad level of intervening plains, a chain of
purple hills, whose undulating crest-line meets the bending sky and forms
the distant horizon. Just beyond the loftiest hummock of this range a
fertile valley lies concealed; and near its centre, upon the smooth summit
of a gently swelling ridge, which, extending north and south for miles,
divides the valley lengthwise, stands Belfield, the shire town of the rural
county of Hillsdale. Its fourscore white dwellings, scattered unevenly
along the shady margins of a straight and ample street, are mostly large,
substantial granges, each with its little suburb of dependencies making
a hamlet by itself. But where the broad avenue, at midway, spreads still
wider, forming a spacious square, are thickly clustered the public
buildings of the town and county,--together with the meeting-houses, the
taverns, the bank, the shops, and a few handsome dwellings, whose large
dimensions and ornate style show them to be the abodes of people of wealth
and consideration.

The greensward in the middle of this square contains two or three elms of
immemorial age, besides many thrifty trees of a later planting. The wooden
barrier by which it is enclosed was once adorned with a coat of white
paint, now nearly worn off. The topmost rails and post-heads of this fence
have been so notched and gnawed by the jackknives of whittling idlers
and the teeth of cribbing horses, that their original size and shape are
matters concerning which the present generation are informed only by

This square was long ago named "The Green"; a pleasant title, by which, in
course of time, the village itself came to be known and called. Instead of
going "to town," the farmers of the remote school districts talk of going
"to the Green," to meeting and to market; and in all that region the
guideboards point the way "To BELFIELD GREEN." This spot was the site of
the old blockhouse and stockaded fort, within whose rude but safe defences
the early colonists of Belfield, with their wives, children, and cattle,
used to huddle at night, through all the time of King Philip's War. Here,
with much labor, the settlers dug a deep well, fed by never-failing
springs, to provide a sure supply of water, in case of siege, for all the
garrison. And now, as if it were a monument raised to commemorate those
dismal tunes, there stands, at a point where all the crossing footpaths
meet, a huge town-pump, near ten feet high, carved and painted, with
a great ball upon its top, and an iron ladle chained to its nose. In
the torrid summer-days, from early morning till late at night, the old
pump-handle has but little rest; for, though in a season of drought the
neighboring wells are apt to run low, the ancient pump, like a steadfast
friend, never fails at such a time of need.

Near at hand, in the centre of a foot-worn circle, a stout wooden post
stands by itself, which, in spite of its homely aspect, may well be termed
a Pillar of the State. It is one of the institutions of the Commonwealth,
established by an act of the General Assembly. Here, with torn corners
fluttering in the wind, hang weather-stained probate notices, mildewed
town-meeting warnings, and tattered placards of sheriff's sales; for no
estate can be settled, no land set off or chattel sold on execution, no
legal meeting of the voters or freemen holden, without previous notice on
the sign-post. It used to be known by another name, and marks the spot,
where, whilom, petty thieves, shiftless vagrants, and other small offenders
against the majesty of the law, were wont to suffer a shameful penalty for
their vile misdeeds.

On the western side of the square, on the summit of the grassy slope,
stands the Presbyterian meeting-house, flanked on one side by the academy,
and on the other by the court-house. There are, besides, two other places
of worship in the village; but neither is built upon the square; and when,
at Belfield, the meeting-house is mentioned, the speaker is understood to
indicate by that title the edifice which stands between the academy and
the court-house, and not the plain, square structure, with neither steeple
nor bell, in which the Baptists assemble for worship, nor the little
white Methodist chapel in the lane, with green blinds to its windows, and
a little toy of a turret, scarcely bigger than a martin-box, upon its
shingled roof.

The quaint style and old-fashioned aspect of Belfield meeting-house attest
its venerable age. For more than a hundred years its slender spire has
glowed in the ruddy beams of early dawn, and cast at sunset its lengthening
shallow across the village green. A century ago, the mellow tones of its
Sabbath bell, echoing through the valley, summoned the pious congregation
to their austere devotions. Before the worn threshold of the great
double-leaved door, in the broadside of the building, lies a platform,
which was once a solid shelf of red sandstone, but now is cracked in twain,
and hollowed by the footsteps of six generations. In the very spot where it
now lies it has lain ever since the first framed meeting-house was built
in Belfield, in the reign of good King William III. There, gathered in a
little knot, on Sundays and public days, the forefathers of the settlement
used to talk over the current news; how the first Port Royal expedition had
failed; or how New England militiamen, without aid from home, had captured
the great fortress of Louisburg, after a brief and glorious siege. There,
still later, the sons of these men rejoiced at the news of Wolfe's victory,
and sorrowfully related the sad intelligence of Braddock's shameful defeat.
There stood their grandsons, a flushed, excited throng of hardy yeomen,
clinching their fists unconsciously, and breathing hard and fast, as they
listened to the tidings of the fight at Concord Bridge. Here, during the
war that followed, when troops were mustered before marching off to camp,
the roll used to be called upon this very stone. No town of its size in all
New England contributed a larger number to the ranks of the Continental
army than did Belfield. One hot summer, all the unwonted toils and
unbefitting cares of haying and harvest fell upon the little boys and women
and a few old gray-haired men, whose aged limbs had long before earned the
right to rest. In all Belfield there was not a male able to bear arms who
was not gone to camp. Some war-worn veterans lived to return; and many a
Sunday noon, in later years, sitting here, upon the broad doorstone of
the meeting-house, they used to tell over the stories of their battles
and campaigns, until the sound from the belfry overhead, and the sight of
the minister approaching from the parsonage, with stately pace and solemn
aspect, would check the flowing current of their talk, and recall their
thoughts to subjects more in keeping with the holy Sabbath-day. But some
of the friends and comrades of these brave men never came home; their
bones lie mouldering beneath the turf at White Plains, at Saratoga, at
Brandywine, and at Princeton. Some perished with cold and hunger at Valley
Forge; some died of fever in the horrible Old Sugar-house; some rotted
alive in the Jersey prison-hulk; some lie buried under the gloomy walls of
Dartmoor; and some there were whose fate was never known.

It was the custom, formerly, to hold all meetings for the transaction
of public business in the sanctuary. None, not even the most piously
fastidious parson or deacon, ever thought of being shocked at what in these
degenerate times would seem like a gross desecration of the house of God.
There were fewer Pharisees in Belfield a hundred years ago than now. To
the Puritans, and to all their descendants, until of late, their places
of worship were not churches, but meeting-houses merely; and by the
stout-hearted men who used to dwell in New England it would have been
deemed a heresy near akin to idolatry itself, or at least savoring strongly
of the damnable errors of the Romish Church, to hold that wood and stones,
carved and fashioned by the hand of man, could be hallowed by an empty rite
of consecration.

On these week-day occasions, therefore, no part of the house was kept
sacred from the world. Even the pulpit itself would have been given up to
secular uses, but that, being so lofty, it was found to be an inconvenient
position for the moderator's chair. So this important functionary was
accustomed, from time immemorial, to take his place in the deacons'
seat, below, with the warning of the meeting, the statute-book, and the
ballot-boxes arranged before him on the communion-table, which in course of
time became so banged and battered, by dint of lusty gavel-strokes, that
there was scarcely a place big enough to put one's finger upon which was
not bruised and dented. For, in the days of the fierce conflict between the
Federalists and Democrats, the meetings were often noisy and disorderly;
and once, even, at the memorable election of 1818, two hot-headed partisans
from sharp words fell to blows, and others joining in the fray, the
skirmish became at length a general engagement. The recurrence of a scene
like this, upon the same stage, is never to be expected. The meeting-house
has been set apart for religious uses exclusively, since its interior was
thoroughly altered and remodelled, the tall pulpit replaced by one of
modern style, the sounding-board removed, the aisles carpeted, and the
square, old-fashioned pews changed for cushioned slips.

In the rear, a little way off, is a row of ugly sheds, yawning towards the
street, where, on Sundays, the farmers who come from a distance tie their
beasts, each in his separate stall. In hot days, in the summer time, when
all the doors and windows of the meeting-house are set wide open, the
hollow sound of horses' stamping mingles with the preacher's drowsy tones,
and sometimes the congregation is startled from repose by the shrill squeal
of some unlucky brute, complaining of the torture inflicted by the sharp
teeth of its ill-natured mate or vicious neighbor; or, perhaps, the flutter
of fans is suspended at the obstreperous neigh by which some anxious dam
recalls the silly foal that has strayed from her side; or the dissonant
creaking of a cramped wheel makes doleful interludes between the verses of
the hymn. Here naughty boys, escaped from the confinement of the sanctuary,
are wont to lounge in the wagons during prayer and sermon time, munching
green pears and apples, devouring huge bunches of fennel, dill, and
caraway, comparing and swapping jackknives, or striving, by means of
cautious hems and whispers, and other sly signals, to attract the notice of
their more decent fellows sitting near the open gallery-windows.

When the black doors of the little dingy building not far from the south
end of the horse-sheds are seen standing open, it is a pretty sure sign
that somebody lies dead in the parish. In this gloomy place the sexton
keeps his dismal apparatus,--the hearse, with its curtains of rusty sable,
the bier, the spades and shovels for digging graves; and in a corner lies
a coil of soiled ropes, whose rasping sound, as they slipped through the
coffin-handles, while the bearers lowered the corpse into the earth, has
grated harshly on many a shuddering mourner's ear. The leaves of the
hearse-house door are fastened together by a hasp and pin, so that any one
may enter at will. But there is no need of bolts and bars. The boys, at
play, in the evening, at "I spy" or "hide and seek," never go there for
concealment, although their smothered whoops may be heard issuing from
every other dark corner in the neighborhood.

The narrow space between the hearse-house and the sheds forms a short lane
or passage-way, through which all the funeral processions pass from the
street into the burying-ground, lying behind the sheds, on the western
slope of the ridge upon which the village stands. This ancient cemetery
was laid out by the early settlers, when they made the first allotments
of land. It is a square area of two acres in extent, inclosed by a mossy
picket paling, so rickety that the neighbors' sheep sometimes leap through
the gaps from the adjacent pastures, and feed among the graves upon the
long grass and nettles.

The lower portion of the graveyard is set apart as a sort of
potter's-field, where negroes, Indians, and stranger-paupers are buried.
This region is bordered by a little jungle of poke-berry and elder-bushes,
sumachs and brambles, so dense and thrifty that they overtop and hide the
fence; and there is a tradition among the school-boys, that somewhere in
the copse there is a black-snake hole, the abode of an enormous monster,
upon whom no one, however, has ever happened to set eyes. Here, with but
few exceptions, the graves are marked only by low mounds of turf, overrun
with matted wild-blackberry vines, where the lightest footstep, crushing
through the crumbling sod, destroys the labors of whole colonies of ants.
But farther up the hillside, headstones and monuments stand so close
together, that, at a distance, there seems to be scarcely room for another

Near the summit lie the early settlers of the town; and in a conspicuous
place upon the brow of the acclivity stands a row of tombstones several
rods in length. These mark the graves of an ancient and honorable family
of townsfolk. At one end, a thick slab of red sandstone, of uncouth shape
and rude appearance, leans aslant, partly buried in the mellow soil. The
moss and lichens, with which its roughly cut back and edges are overgrown,
have been removed from its face, and the quaint inscription is distinctly
legible, whereby the curious idler is informed that "Here lies, in y'e Hope
of a Joyfull Resurrecion, y'e Body of Maj'r Iohn Bugbee, an Assistant of
y'e Colony & A Iustice of y'e Peace. Born at Austerfield, in y'e County
of Lincoln, England. Dyed Feb. y'e 9 AD. 1699 AE. 72." Close by the side
of this venerable grave is another, which the stone at its head announces
to be the resting-place of "Mistress Mindwell Bugbee--Consort of Maj'r
Iohn Bugbee and youngest Daut: of Sir Roger Braxley, of Braxley Hall,
Lincolnshire, England." Then follow, in order of time, the headstones
which mark the graves of successive generations descended from this worthy
couple. Some of these are so defaced and weather-worn, that in aspect they
seem even more venerable than the monuments of the founders of the race.
Nearly all of those erected before the beginning of the present century
bear quaint devices,--some of cherubs, all wings, and blank, staring faces;
some of hour-glasses, some of masonic emblems, and upon one of two are
rudely carved, ugly death's heads and crossbones. Two thirds of the way
down the line stands the first marble headstone. It is taller than its
neighbors, and, though spotted with weather stains, it bears a deeply
graven inscription, which seems as legible as the day it was cut, full
forty years ago. In the grave at the foot of this stone lies buried another
Major Bugbee, the great-great-grandson of the first Major. The commission
of this gentleman, signed by John Hancock, President of the Continental
Congress, still hangs in a frame against the wainscot, over the mantel,
in the parlor of the great gambrel-roofed house, whose front-yard fence
and garden palings form, for almost half the way, the eastern side of
the village square. The late master of this dwelling, Doctor Bugbee, who
was the eldest son of the Continental major, lies at the end of the long
platoon of dead, in the newest grave of all the range, over which a marble
obelisk has been erected, in memory of the name and many virtues of the
deceased, who departed this life, as the inscription attests, on the 7th
day of September, 1843, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.

Near by this spot, with its drooping boughs shading the monument I have
just described, grows a weeping-willow tree, of such great size, that its
top, from half way up, can be plainly discerned from almost every corner
of the village green; and it is, withal, of such perfect symmetry of
form, that on a moonlight night it resembles a fountain, as its leaves,
fluttering in the breezy air, and turning their silver linings to the
moonbeams, seem to sparkle like spray and drops of falling water. Behind
this tree is placed a rustic bench, where, on a pleasant day in June, one
may sit and look forth upon as pretty a landscape as can be seen in all
Hillsdale County, or, for that matter, in all the State as well. Before you
lies the declivity of the hill upon which the village stands. At its foot
begins a verdant plain of interval meadows, dotted here and there with
graceful elms and stately hickories, each standing alone in its ring of
shadow, the turf everywhere bespangled with dandelions and buttercups, and
changing its hue from shade to shade of vivid green, as the wind sweeps
over the thick growing verdure. Through these meadows flows a sluggish
brook, in broad meandering curves, crossed at each turn by rustic
farm-bridges, with clumps of trees fringing the deeper pools. The plain
is skirted by a country road, bordered with majestic trees, and with
farm-houses standing all along its winding course. Beyond, the land rises,
and the slope is checkered, to the foot of the hills, with arable fields.
The view is bounded by the craggy sides of the great hills which separate
this quiet vale from the broad valley of the Connecticut. Here, all is soft
and tranquil beauty. But just beyond the rugged barrier of those western
hills lies a grander landscape, of wide extent, through which flows New
England's greatest river, and crossed from end to end by New England's
busiest thoroughfares, dusty with the tread of commerce, and bordered with
growing cities and thrifty, bustling towns. Here, reclining on this rustic
bench, in the shadow of the willow branches, among the tombstones of the
silent dead, you may dream away the sultry afternoon, and hear no sounds
but drowsy noises that dispose to rest and quiet; the whispering of the
wind in the treetops, the droning pipe of grasshoppers and locusts,
the distant cries of teamsters to their cattle, the shouts of children
loitering home from school or gathering berries in the sunny fields, the
whetting of a scythe in a far-off meadow, or the music of the blacksmith's
hammer upon his ringing anvil.

Four times a year, during the' brief terms of court, the usual stillness
that pervades the sober village is enlivened by the presence of a scanty
crowd. Then, for a week, judges, jurors, suitors, and witnesses flock
together; and sometimes, in the winter season, when farm work is not
pressing, the neighbors throng by scores into the court-house, to hear
the wordy harangues of the lawyers in some notable cause. Likewise on
town-meeting days, the stores and tavern bar-rooms about the square are
filled with a concourse of the sovereign people from the more rural
districts; and at the annual cattle show and fair all Hillsdale comes up to
Belfield. Then, I warrant you, if it chance to be a pleasant Indian-summer
day, there is indeed a crowd, and for a while the little capital contains
a greater number of living souls than all the county besides. From early
twilight till sunset blazes on the western hills the square and street
are densely thronged. A Babel of strange noises fills the dusty air: the
lowing of cows and oxen; the bellowing of frightened calves; the plaintive
bleating of bewildered lambs; the fierce neighing of excited horses; the
yelping of curs; the crowing of imprisoned cocks, responding to each
other's defiant notes; the sing-song clamor of itinerant auctioneers,
standing on their wagons and displaying their tempting wares to the little
knots around them; the din and hubbub of the busy, moving, talking,
jostling multitude,--shouts, laughs, cries, murmurs, all mingled together,
till confusion harmonizes; and above all, the constant clanking of the iron
handle of the old town-pump, which never ceases all the livelong day. At
nightfall the uproar lessens, and as the evening wanes, the unaccustomed
sounds diminish, though till midnight, ever and anon, the tired and sleepy
citizens are startled from their dreams by whoops, hurrahs, snatches of
songs, and outbursts of rude laughter ringing through the frosty air and
mingling with the clattering of horses' feet and the whirring rumble of
swift-revolving wheels, as some party of roystering blades, excited by deep
potations, drive shouting homewards from the village inns.

Excepting on these unfrequent occasions, Belfield Green is as free from
bustle as if it were a hamlet whose name was never seen upon a map. The
time has been, however, when it was a busy little mart, the centre of trade
for an extensive district. In yonder low-roofed store that stands upon the
square, near by the great gambrel-roofed house of which mention has already
been made, the second Major Bugbee increased a handsome patrimony till it
grew to be a great estate; the share of which that fell to his two eldest
sons, the Doctor and his younger brother, James, they in time, by gainful
traffic in the same old place, made more than equal to the entire estate,
of which a quarter only came to them. Thousands and tens of thousands of
tons of golden butter and cheese, hundreds of thousands of bushels of rye,
oats, flaxseed, buckwheat, and corn, millions of eggs and skeins of linen
and woollen yarn have been bartered at Belfield Green by the country folks,
in exchange for rum, molasses, tea, coffee, salt, and codfish, enough to
freight the royal navy. Tune was when folks came twenty miles to Belfield
post-office, and when a dusty miller and his men, at the old red mill
standing on the brook at the foot of the valley, took toll from half the
grists in Hillsdale County. But that was long ago, when people who lived
twenty miles away from Hartford went to the city scarcely twice in a dozen
years,--in the good old days of turnpikes, stage-coaches, and wayside
taverns, before railroads were built to carry all the trade to great,
overgrown towns and cities. Now-a-days, as I have said, it is hard to find
a village of its size and rank in all the land, which is more quiet, at
ordinary times, than Belfield Green.


Every community has its quota of great men; and in this respect a country
village is often, in proportion to its numbers, as well endowed as the
capital itself. So Belfield has her magnates whom she delights to honor.
Chief among them used to be numbered the late Doctor John Bugbee, a worthy
gentleman, now gathered to his fathers in the ancient burying-ground behind
the meeting-house. He was not, to be sure, esteemed by all, especially the
women, to be so great a man as the Reverend Jabez Jaynes, A.M., who, by
virtue of his sacred office and academical honors, took formal precedence
of every mere layman in the parish. But with this notable exception, Doctor
Bugbee was the peer of every other dignitary, whether civil, military, or
ecclesiastical, within the borders of the town.

But when I say the Doctor was a great man in Belfield, I do not mean to
aver, or to be understood, that, in person, he was of colossal bulk or
stature; neither is it true that his intellect was of a quality--so far
superior to the average of human minds as to make him a giant in that
respect. It would be great presumption in so humble a penman as myself to
choose, even for the hero of my tale, a man of eminent distinction. So I
make haste to confess, that, doubtless, there were at least a score or two
of his fellow-townsmen as well endowed by nature as the Doctor. But above
many of these persons he was elevated by accidental circumstances and
acquired advantages to a position which rendered him a man of greater mark
and influence than they. He was descended from a most reputable ancestry,
and, being a professional man, of polite address and handsome fortune, it
would have been strange indeed, if he had not been highly esteemed in the
community where he dwelt. Besides, he was a man of sense and taste, witty,
jovial, talkative, and of such extremely easy good-nature, that, if it had
not been for the tact and shrewdness of his brother and partner in trade,
who managed the business of the firm, the Doctor's income would have
diminished, instead of increasing, as it did, year after year. As it was,
his practice as a physician scarcely paid for his horsekeeping and the
medicines he dispensed, though for a while he was a favorite physician in
all that region; growing in the good-will of the people, until, as a mark
of their esteem, he received a nomination to the General Assembly. At first
there was such an outcry of dismay from the old ladies of the parish, that
the Democrats came near defeating him, though the Whigs had a sure majority
for every other name on the ticket. But having triumphed over this outburst
of stubborn opposition, the Doctor speedily became the most popular
politician in the county, if frequent election to office was a true test of
public favor. For it turned out, that, instead of the mortality happening,
which the Democrats, and their allies, the old women, had predicted would
prevail, there never had been known a healthier season within the memory
of man. And always afterwards, whenever the worthy Doctor was chosen to
represent the town at Hartford or New Haven, there seemed to be a special
interposition of providential mercy, inasmuch as in all his professional
round, none ever sickened unto death during his absence; though it
sometimes happened that the population of the town would be increased by
one or two. In course of time, therefore, his fame as a statesman even
rivalled his reputation as physician, and all parties were brought to join
in voting for him with the most cordial unanimity.

In his youth the Doctor had been reckoned a handsome young fellow, and, to
the day of his death, he preserved his good looks to a wonderful degree. A
cheerful temper like his is a famous preventive of gray hairs and wrinkles.
So the jovial Doctor never seemed to grow old; and at fifty, his erect
form, smooth, ruddy cheeks, curly brown poll, and merry blue eyes made him
look younger than many of his neighbors who were his juniors by a dozen

When a very young man, not quite twenty years of age, and before he had
finished his course of professional study, the Doctor had taken to wife his
cousin, Miss Naomi Bugbee, who had lived in his father's house ever since
he could remember; for the young lady was an orphan, with a good estate,
and during her minority had been her uncle's ward. The bride was not an
uncomely damsel, neither was she distinguished for beauty; and between the
ages of the happy young couple there was quite a difference; a circumstance
by no means unusual, and which would not have been mentioned here, but
for the fact, that, in this case, it was the bride who was the senior of
the pair. Some people said she was ten years older than the Doctor; and,
for a wonder, these gossips had the evidence of the registry to back
their statements. In fact, the youthful bridegroom had been very tenderly
dry-nursed, in his infancy, by his bride; and a certain sound spanking
which she gave him when he was just coming four, because he insisted
upon crying and keeping awake, one evening, while his mother was gone
to a wedding, instead of going to sleep in his trundle-bed like a good
boy,--this chastisement, I say, had been one of the earliest and most vivid
of the bridegroom's recollections of his childhood. But though he had not
forgotten this grievance, he had doubtless forgiven it with all his heart;
thereby setting an example worthy of imitation by the fair Naomi, who,
indeed, was doubly bound to exercise forgiveness and forbearance towards
her lord; for, whatever might have been the faults and failings of the
youth to whom she surrendered the ripened harvest of her charms, it
certainly did not lie in the mouth of one to complain of them unduly, who
had enjoyed such rare and excellent opportunities to train up for herself a
husband in the way he should go.

There was not wanting at that time in Belfield a class of spiteful people,
who, doubtless, being inspired by envy at beholding the felicity of the
happy pair, affected to laugh and sneer a good deal at what they jeeringly
called Jack Bugbee's marrying his grandmother. But, as if it had been
specially ordered on purpose to confound these ill-natured jokers, this
union, the object of their ridicule, was most signally prospered, and in
due time the Doctor himself put his wife to bed with a pair of nice little

Not long after, the twins were christened at the meeting-house, a great
crowd attending to witness the ceremony. To the elder girl was given
the name of Amelia. Upon the other was bestowed the equally desirable
appellative of Cornelia. While they were babies, both were considered
remarkably pretty children; at least, so everybody told Mrs. Bugbee; but
as they grew in years and stature, it became more and more apparent, that,
although each resembled the other in figure, features, and expression, so
strongly that you could not see one without being reminded of the other,
none would ever be at a loss to distinguish between them; for Amelia
promised to be as extremely handsome as her sister seemed likely to be
homely. Indeed, Amelia was a beautiful counterpart of Cornelia, resembling
her in the same wise that a flattered portrait, painted by some shrewd and
skilful limner, will sometimes resemble the rich and ugly original, in
which, while the likeness is faithfully portrayed, all the harsh lines are
softened, and even blemishes are transformed into beauty-spots, or made to
serve as foils.

Besides these twins, other children, from time to time, were born to the
Doctor and his spouse, all of whom died in infancy. The love of the parents
for their first-born seemed to redouble at each of these bereavements. The
mother, especially, would scarcely suffer her darlings to be absent from
her sight; and when, at last, after infinite persuasion, she was induced to
let them go to the Misses Primber's great boarding-school at Hartford, she
used to ride over to see them as often as she could invent a pretext. It
was with the greatest reluctance that she consented to this separation; but
in those days it was indispensable that a young woman of good family should
spend at least a twelve-month at the Misses Primber's famous establishment,
where all the rough hewing of less skilful teachers was shaped and
polished, so to speak, according to the most fashionable models then in
vogue. It was while the twins remained at this notable seminary that they
executed those wonderful landscapes, in Reeves's best water-colors, which
used to decorate the walls of the parlors in the Bugbee mansion, and which,
I dare say, still hang in tarnished gilt frames in some of the bedchambers.
It was there they filled the copybooks of French exercises from Levizac's
Grammar, which Miss Cornelia still carefully preserves in a bureau drawer.
There they learned to play and sing "Days of Absence," "I'm A Merry Swiss
Boy," and many other delightful melodies, the which, even now, Miss
Cornelia will sometimes hum softly to herself. Besides acquiring these and
sundry other accomplishments, Miss Amelia found time to carry on a secret
epistolary correspondence with a good-looking young law-student, (of whom
more extended mention will presently be made,) and also to contrive many
meetings and walks with him, of which nobody was cognizant but her sister
and some five or six other bosom friends and faithful confidants. But
Miss Cornelia, though as well inclined thereto as her sister, having,
nevertheless, been able to find no lover to occupy her thoughts, and with
whom to hold amatory interviews to fill her leisure, was fain to devote all
her spare moments to the reading of romances and novels, of which, though
rigorously interdicted, a great number were in the house, in possession of
the Misses Primber's pupils; and when this supply was exhausted, she had
recourse to a circulating library near by; being often put as nearly to her
wits' end to devise expedients whereby to smuggle the contraband volumes
into her chamber, as Amelia was to fulfil, at the time and place of tryst,
the frequent engagements which she made to meet her lover.

Accordingly it came to pass, that Amelia's heart became affected in such a
way and to that degree that she was never heart-whole again so long as she
lived; and Cornelia's head was filled with such an accumulation of romantic
rubbish, that, to this very day, a mighty heap of it remains,--mingled, to
be sure, with ideas of a more solid and useful quality. For when a woman
lives a maid during those years in which most of her sex are busy with
the cares attendant upon the matronly estate, fantastic notions, such as
I have mentioned, are not so apt to be excluded from the mind, and in
this way many girls of good natural parts are spoiled, merely for lack of
husbands. With the exception of this inordinate liking for the romantic
and mysterious,--by which she was sometimes betrayed into follies and
absurdities that provoked a little harmless scandal or ridicule,--Miss
Cornelia has ever been held in good repute among her neighbors as a
kind-hearted, obliging, sentimental little woman.

At last, at the end of a year, the young ladies came home from the
seminary, having fully completed their education; an event which filled
Mrs. Bugbee's heart with ineffable satisfaction. When the loving mother
reflected, that, for a long time, if it pleased God to spare their lives,
she should now enjoy the pleasure of her children's presence, her bosom
overflowed with happiness. Though she looked forward to their being married
as to something quite likely to happen in the course of time, yet such
events are always uncertain, and they appeared to her to lie so far ahead
in the vague distance of the future, that these anticipations caused her
no serious disquiet. For the girls were but eighteen years of age, and it
seemed hardly a twelvemonth since the time when they used to wear their
hair curling in their necks, and to go hand in hand to the district school
in pinafores and pantalets.

The good lady's chagrin, therefore, was excessive, when, the next Saturday
morning but one after her daughters' return, Amelia came into her bedroom,
where she sat darning a stocking by the window, and after so much
hesitation that her mother began to wonder, suddenly put her arms about her
neck, hid her blushing face upon her shoulder, and in that position softly
whispered a confession, that a certain young gentleman, with whom she had
become acquainted in Hartford, had told her he was very much attached to
her indeed; that she was not wholly indifferent with respect to him, and
that, in fact, she loved him. While Mrs. Bugbee remained speechless with
surprise, Miss Amelia proceeded to say, that it was highly probable the
young gentleman, would that very afternoon take it into his head to ride
out from Hartford to Belfield; and perhaps he would also request permission
to visit her regularly, with the ultimate purpose of asking her hand in
marriage; in which case, she said, it was to be hoped her parents would not
refuse his modest petition; for that the young gentleman was a very good
and worthy young gentleman, a law-student of extraordinary promise, of as
old and respectable a family as any other in the State, and, withal, a
young gentleman in no wise given to bad habits of any kind whatsoever, but,
on the contrary, distinguished for his exemplary morals and sober conduct.
All this Amelia uttered very earnestly; but, strange to say, made no
mention of the quality which, as much as all the rest, had attracted
her regards; namely, the young gentleman's good looks, for which he was
somewhat noted, and of which he was not a little vain.

When the Doctor returned that day from his morning ride among his patients,
his wife took him aside into their bedroom and related what has just been
set forth. The Doctor listened with grave attention till his wife concluded
her story; but when, at the end of it, she began to lament, he turned the
thing off with a laugh, and giving her a hearty kiss, endeavored to soothe
her disquiet. "Well, well, mother," said he, "why, let him come, let him
come. It's only a year or two sooner than I expected, and may be it'll be a
flash in the pan after all. I think I must have seen the young fellow in at
Squire Johnson's; and at any rate, I'm pretty sure I know his father. When
he comes, we'll just invite him right over here to spend the Sabbath, and
by the time he goes away on Monday we'll know the twist of every thread in
his jacket. If he's the right one to make our girl happy, we ought to be
glad she's found him; and if he a'n't, it'll be all the harder to make her
listen to reason, unless we show reason ourselves; and, surely, it would be
unreasonable to be set against him, before we've even seen him or heard him
say a word."

When Mr. Edward Talcott (for that was the young gentleman's name) came over
from the tavern, where he had left his horse and portmanteau, and with much
secret trepidation and assumed boldness had walked up the wide flagstones
which led from the street to the green front door of Doctor Bugbee's
mansion, it was opened, at the summons of the brass knocker, by a little
black girl, who vainly strove to hide a grin behind a corner of her long
check apron. Before the visitor had time to utter a word, Amelia, blushing
like a rose and looking handsomer than ever, came tripping into the hall,
and after a whisper, which Dinah, who tried, failed to overhear, and the
purport of which, therefore, I cannot relate, ushered him into the parlor,
and presented him in due form to her mother, and also to her grandmother,
Madam Major Bugbee, as she was styled by the townsfolk,--a stately old
lady in black silk, who, being hard of hearing, and therefore incapable of
mingling in the conversation that ensued, regarded the new comer through
her gold-bowed spectacles, during the remainder of the afternoon, with a
furtive, but earnest attention which was quite embarrassing to the object
of it.

Presently a sulky came dashing up the drive, and soon afterwards the Doctor
came in, who, being made acquainted with Mr. Talcott by the blushing
Amelia, fell into a lively conversation with his visitor, which finally
turning upon the subject of politics, both gentlemen agreed cordially
in lauding the wisdom displayed In Mr. Adams's administration, and
congratulating each other and the country upon the defeat of General
Jackson. After tea, the hired man was sent to fetch Mr. Talcott's horse and
luggage from the inn, and then, it being near sundown, the Doctor put on as
solemn an expression as his merry visage was capable of assuming, took up
the big quarto Bible from its place, on a stand in the corner of the room,
and read a chapter from the New Testament Then, standing up behind his
arm-chair, he made a hurried prayer, which was evidently one he had got by
heart; for when he endeavored to interpolate an apt allusion to the young
"stranger within his gates," he made such a piece of work of it, that
everybody but the dowager had to bite his lips to keep from smiling. The
brief remainder of the evening was spent in sober conversation. Soon after
nine o'clock the little black girl showed Mr. Talcott up the broad stairway
into the best front chamber, a spacious apartment directly over the parlor,
where he went to bed under a lofty tester canopy, with embroidered curtains
trimmed with lace. After a long reverie, coming to the conclusion that
the downright courtship of a young lady in her father's house was a much
more serious affair than a mere clandestine flirtation with a pretty
school-girl, the young gentleman turned over upon his side and went to

The next day, being Sunday, everybody went to meeting, except the Doctor,
who was obliged to ride away upon his round of visits. Accordingly, Mr.
Talcott walked twice to and fro across the green, with Miss Amelia tripping
demurely by his side, and served as the target for a thousand eyeshots as
he stood up at the head of the Doctor's pew during the long prayers.

In the evening, after supper, the Doctor put off his grave Sabbath face
and invited his young guest to walk over to the store, which stood in the
corner of the yard, a little distance off. Presently, Miss Amelia, peeping
from behind her bedroom window-curtain, beheld them sitting together upon
the broad back-stoop of the store, talking and smoking in a most amicable
manner, the fragrant incense of their cigars being wafted across the
intervening space, which was quite too wide, however, to enable her to hear
the words of their earnest conversation. But that night, as she and her
lover sat together alone in the front parlor, after the family had gone to
bed, he told her that her father had consented to his courtship.

But if I am so circumstantial in relating these events, which are merely
introductory to my story, I shall have neither time nor space left for
the story itself. So I will hasten to say, that the upshot of Mr. Edward
Talcott's frequent visits, as might have been expected, was a very splendid
wedding, which took place in the front parlor of the Bugbee mansion, one
evening during the winter after Amelia came nineteen, the bridegroom being
then twenty-three, and just admitted to practice as an attorney-at-law. In
pursuance of a condition which Mrs. Bugbee had proposed, in order to avoid
the pangs of a separation from her child, the young couple remained members
of the Doctor's household; and Mr. Talcott, who, through the influence of
his wife's father, had been taken into partnership with a well-established
attorney, commenced the practice of law at the Hillsdale bar. His partner,
Squire Bramhall, had for many years been clerk of the courts, and was a
sage and prudent counsellor, noted for the careful preparation bestowed
upon his causes before they came to trial. But, in spite of his learning
and industrious painstaking, he used to cut a poor figure at the bar; for
being, though a lawyer, an exceedingly modest and bashful man, he failed to
acquire the habit of addressing either court or jury with ease, fluency, or
force. On the other hand, Squire Talcott, as he soon came to be called, was
a young man of fine appearance and good address, in no wise troubled with
an undue degree of doubt touching the excellence of his own abilities. His
first argument before a jury was a showy and successful effort in behalf
of a person for whom the sympathies of the public were already warmly
enlisted. By this, of course, he won considerable applause. His subsequent
attempts sustained the popular expectation. He began to acquire distinction
as a fluent, persuasive, and even eloquent speaker. A lawyer haranguing a
jury in a densely crowded courtroom fills a much larger space in the public
eye than when, in the solitude of his back-office, he is preparing a brief;
and, as young Squire Talcott used to argue all the cases which his plodding
partner elaborately prepared to his hand, his fame as a wonderfully smart
young lawyer soon began to extend even beyond the limits of the county.
The judges, in other places upon their circuit, spoke of his quick and
brilliant parts, and his apparent learning and familiar acquaintance
with authorities, so unusual at his age. These flattering commendations,
returning to Belfield, came to young Talcott's ears. It would have been
strange if he had not been too much elated by his sudden success in
the practice of a profession in which so very few win a speedy renown.
Forgetful how much of the praise he received was due to his partner's
laborious researches and unobtrusive learning, he suffered his vanity to
lead him astray; becoming discontented with his position, and secretly
repining at the necessity by which he was compelled to remain in an obscure
country town, when, as he imagined, his talents were sufficient to win for
him, unaided, an easy and rapid promotion even at the metropolitan bar.

The Doctor and his wife, as was to be expected, soon got to be proud of
their clever son-in-law. In fact, after the birth of a little girl, an
event by which the honors of grand-paternity were conferred upon the Doctor
when he was but a year or two past forty, Mrs. Bugbee could scarcely tell
which she loved best, her daughter, the baby, or its father.

When little Helen, as the child was named, was just coming three years old,
Mrs. Talcott, being in childbed again, was taken with a fever, and, in
spite of everything which was done to save her, died, and was buried with
her infant on her bosom. I do not need to relate what a grievous stroke
this sad event was to all the household,--nay, I might say to the whole
village as well; for all who knew Amelia loved her, and the praise of the
dead was in everybody's mouth. As for poor Mrs. Bugbee, she sorrowed like
one in despair. Even the worthy parson's pious words, to which she appeared
to listen with passive attention, fell unheeded upon her ear. People began
to shake their heads when her name was mentioned, and to predict that ere
long she would follow her daughter to the grave. At last, however, after
many weeks of close seclusion, she grew more cheerful, and seemed to
transfer all the affection she had borne the dead to the child who survived

Not long after Amelia's death, the secret discontent existing in her
husband's mind, which, if she had lived, would in time, perhaps, have
abated, began instead to increase, and at length he came to talk openly
of departure. The Doctor, perceiving that he was firmly resolved upon the
step, did not seriously endeavor to dissuade him; and even Mrs. Bugbee
could not withhold her consent, when the young widower said, with a
trembling voice, he could not endure to stay in a spot endeared to him by
no other associations than those which continually reminded him of his
grievous loss. One stipulation only the good couple insisted on; namely,
that Amelia's child should be given to them, to be adopted as their own
daughter. Knowing not whither he should go, the father yielded; reflecting
that he could not better promote the welfare of his little girl than by

So, a few weeks afterwards, when Edward Talcott bade farewell to Belfield,
the relation of parent and child between him and his little daughter was
completely severed. For though since their first sorrowful parting they
have met more than once, and though long after that mournful day she used
to wear in her bosom a locket containing his miniature and a lock of his
hair, which she used to kiss every night and morning, yet Helen seldom
remembers that the distant stranger is her father, and he forgets to reckon
his first-born among the number of his children.

When he was gone, the child was told that the name of Bugbee was thereafter
to be appended to those she already bore; and being quite pleased with the
notion, she forthwith adopted her new appellative, retaining it for several
years, until (such is the fickle nature of women) she took a fancy to
change it for another which she liked better still. She was also taught
to call her grandparents papa and mamma; and though, while a child, she
continued to address Miss Cornelia by the title of "Aunty," this respectful
custom, as the relative difference between her age and the elder spinster's
gradually diminished, was suffered, at the latter's special request, to
fall into disuse, and give place to the designation of sister. The few
new-comers to Belfield, therefore, were never apt to suspect that Helen
Bugbee was not really the Doctor's own daughter; and even the neighbors
forgot that her name had ever been changed, except when the gossips
sometimes put each other in mind of it.

The older she grew the more Helen resembled her mother, as the ladies
always used to exclaim when they came to take tea with Mrs. Bugbee. Some
of the village folks, who were in the habit, so common with old people, of
thinking that the race is continually degenerating, I have heard express
the opinion that Helen was never so handsome as her mother had been. But I
have seen a portrait of Miss Amelia Bugbee, for which she sat just before
her wedding, and which, I am assured, was, in the time of it, called a
wonderful likeness; I also knew Miss Helen Talcott Bugbee when she was not
far from her mother's age at the time the picture was taken; and though
Miss Amelia must have been a very sweet young lady, of extraordinarily good
looks, I used to think, for my part, that Helen was much handsomer than the
portrait; although people of a different taste might very properly have
preferred the less haughty expression of the face depicted on the canvas.

It was not strange that Helen was petted and humored as much as was well
for her. But her disposition being naturally docile and amiable, she was
not to be easily spoiled. Be that as it may, however, when she had grown to
be a woman, there were, I dare say, no less than fifty young men who knew
her well, any one of whom would have jumped at the chance to get her for a
wife, and made but little account of the risk of her turning out a shrew.
To be sure, when I first knew her, she had rather a high and mighty
way with her, at which some people took offence, calling her proud and
disdainful; but those whom she wished to please never failed to like her;
and I used to observe she seldom put on any of her lofty airs when she
spoke to unpresuming people, especially if they were poor or in humble

Though the indulgence of all her whims and fancies by her doting
grandparents was a danger of no small magnitude, Helen encountered a still
greater peril in the shape of a vast store of novels, poems, and romances,
which Miss Cornelia had accumulated, and to which she was continually
making additions. In that young lady's bedchamber, where Helen slept,
there was a large bookcase full of these seductive volumes; even the upper
shelves of the wardrobe closet, and a cupboard over the mantel, were
closely packed with them; and there was not one of them all which Helen
had not read by the time she was fifteen. Thus, in spite of natural good
sense, strengthened and educated by much wise and wholesome instruction,
she grew up with an imagination quite disproportioned to her other mental
faculties; so that, in some respects, she was almost as romantic in her
notions as her Aunt Cornelia, who, at forty, used to prefer moonlight to
good honest sunshine, and would have heard with an emotion of delight
that the mountains between Belfield and Hartford were infested by a band
of brigands, in picturesque attire, with a handsome chief like Rinaldo
Rinaldini, or haunted by two or three dashing highwaymen, of the genteel
Paul-Clifford style. Indeed, the ideal lover, to whom for many years Miss
Cornelia's heart was constant as the moon, was a tall, dark, mysterious
man, with a heavy beard and glittering eyes, who, there is every reason to
suspect, was either a corsair, a smuggler, or a bandit chief.

I am loath to have it supposed that Helen turned out a silly young woman.
Indeed, it would be wrong to believe so; for she possessed many good parts
and acquirements. But I must confess that her fancy, being naturally
lively, was unduly stimulated by reading too many books of the kind I have
mentioned; and that seeing but little of the world in her tender years, she
learned from their pages to form false and extravagant notions concerning
it. She used to build castles in the air, was subject to fits of tender
melancholy, and, like Miss Cornelia, adored moonlight, pensive music, and
sentimental poetry. But she would have shrunk from contact with a brigand,
in a sugar-loaf hat, with a carbine slung across his shoulder, and a
stiletto in his sash, with precisely the same kind and degree of horror and
disgust that would have affected her in the presence of a vulgar footpad,
in a greasy Scotch-cap, armed with a horse-pistol and a sheath-knife. Her
romantic tastes differed in many respects from her Aunt Cornelia's. She,
too, had an ideal lover; (and for that matter the fickle little maid had
several;) but the special favorite was a charming young fellow, of fair
complexion, with blue eyes, and a light, elegant moustache, his long brown
hair falling down his neck in wavy masses,--tall in stature, athletic, and
yet slim and graceful,--gifted with many accomplishments, with a heart full
of noble qualities, and a brain inspired by genius,--a poet, or an author,
or an artist, perhaps a lawyer merely, but of rare talents, at any rate
a man of superior intellect,--in a word, a paragon, who, when he should
appear upon the earth, incarnate, she expected would conceive a violent
passion for her, in which case, she--should take it into consideration
whether to marry him or not.

My inexperience in the art of story-telling must be manifest to everybody;
for here I am talking of Helen, as of a young lady of sixteen or more, with
shy notions of beaux and lovers in her head,--whereas, in point of time,
my story has not advanced by regular stages beyond the period of her
childhood, when she thought more of a single doll in her baby-house, and
held her in higher estimation, than the whole rising generation of the
other sex. I shall resume the thread of my narrative by relating, that,
some two or three years before Miss Cornelia Bugbee, in her journey across
the sands of time, came to the thirtieth mile-stone, she arrived at an
oasis in the desert of her existence; or, to be more explicit, she had the
rare good-fortune to find a heart throbbing in unison with her own,--a
tender bosom in whose fidelity she could safely confide even her most
precious secret; namely, the passion she entertained for the aforementioned
corsair,--a being of congenial soul, whose loving ears could hear and
interpret her lowest whisper and most incoherent murmur, by means of the
subtile instinct of spiritual sympathy,--in fine, a trusty, true, and
confidential friend.

All this, and more, was Miss Laura Stebbins, the youngest sister of Mrs.
Jaynes, who, being suddenly left an orphan, dependent on the charity of her
kindred, came to reside at the parsonage in Belfield. An intimacy forthwith
commenced between the Doctor's daughter and the Parson's sister-in-law,
which ripened speedily into the enduring friendship of which mention has
just been made. There were some who affected to wonder at the ardent
attachment which sprung up between the two young ladies, because, forsooth,
one was but sixteen, and the other eight-and-twenty; as if this slight
disparity in years must necessarily engender a diversity of tastes, fatal
to a budding friendship.

I would fain describe the person of Miss Laura Stebbins, if I could call
to mind any similitudes, whereunto to liken her charms, which have not
been worn out in the service of other people's heroines. To use any but
brand-new comparisons to illustrate graces like hers would be singularly
inappropriate; for she herself always had a bright, fresh look, like some
piece of handiwork just finished by the maker. Her hair was black, glossy,
and abundant. She had large, hazel eyes, full of expression, shaded by
long, black eyelashes, a clear, light-brown complexion, rosy cheeks, small,
even teeth, as white as cocoanut meat, and lips whose color was like the
tint of sealing-wax. There was not a straight line or an angle about her
plump and well-proportioned figure. Her waist was round and full, and yet
appeared so slim between the ravishing curves of her shapely form, above
and below it, that it seemed as if it were fashioned so on purpose to be

If Laura had been as wise as she was handsome, some pen more worthy than
mine would have celebrated her wit and beauty. But she was nothing more
than a wild, merry, frolicsome girl, whom, if you knew her, it was very
hard not to like; even her reverend brother-in-law, a very grave personage,
of whom, at first, she stood in no little awe, learned to smile at some of
her very giddiest nonsense, and Mrs. Bugbee's sober reserve, which had been
increased by her domestic afflictions, thawed in the sunshine of Laura's
presence, like snow in the warmth of a bright spring morning. Helen, also,
grew to be extremely fond of Laura, who returned the child's regard in
twofold measure, at least, and yet had love enough to spare wherewith
to answer the immense draughts upon her heart by which Miss Cornelia's
romantic affection was repaid.

It was more than even Miss Cornelia Bugbee could do to transform this gay
creature into a lackadaisical young lady; though, as she tried her very
best to do so, none ought to blame her because she failed of success. All
her stock of novels she lent to Laura, who read them, every one, in secret,
skipping only the dull and didactic pages. That she was not spoiled by
this experiment was due less to the strength of Laura's understanding than
to the liveliness of her temper, which, in this strait, stood her in very
good stead of more solid qualities and a wiser experience. As it was,
she learned to talk in a romantic fashion, longed, above all things, to
grow thin, pretended to sigh frequently, and affected, at times, an air
of pensive thoughtfulness. Her imagination began to be haunted by the
apparition of a brave, gallant, and exceedingly graceful and good-looking
young officer, of rank and high renown, who, she confidently hoped, would
some day appear before her, arrayed in full uniform, with a sword by his
side, and, with all the impetuous ardor of a soldier, throw himself at her
feet and pour forth a declaration of inextinguishable love.

Until Laura was nearly twenty, this phantom in regimentals held exclusive
possession of her bosom, and reigned in that sweet domain without a rival;
for, strange as it may appear, she never had a suitor of real flesh and
blood, until a certain young divinity-student from East Windsor Seminary,
who sometimes of a Sunday when Mr. Jaynes was absent came over to Belfield
to try his hand at preaching, perceived, by sly and stealthy glances at
Laura over the rim of his blue spectacles, how exceeding comely the damsel
was, and firmly resolved to win her for a helpmeet. And even Mr. Elam Hunt
(for that was the pious student's name) seemed scarcely more substantial
than a ghost, so very pale and bloodless was his meagre face, and so lean
and spare his stooping, narrow-chested figure.

This youthful saint was well esteemed by Laura's sister, Mrs. Jaynes, a
sharp-visaged little woman, to whose energetic control her absent-minded,
studious husband surrendered the parsonage and all it contained. Nay,
she even shared his labors in the moral vineyard of his parish; for
while he remained at home among his favorite volumes, she used to go
about from house to house, collecting donations in aid of some one of
the great eleemosynary corporations, whose certificates attesting her
life-membership, all framed and glazed, covered the walls of the parsonage
parlor. Her zeal in this good work was untiring, and she levied tribute to
her favorite charities upon all classes and conditions of her neighbors
with strict impartiality. The poorest widow was not suffered to withhold
her mite, and, wherever she went, the pouting children of the household
were forced to open their money-boxes and tin savings-banks, and bring
forth the hoarded pence with which they had hoped to purchase candy and
toys at Christmas and New Year. The village folks reckoned the cost of her
visits among their annual expenses, and, when she was seen approaching,
made ready, as if a sturdy beggar or a tax-gatherer was at the door.

To have heard this estimable lady, when in private she sometimes rebuked
the failings of her reverend spouse, one would not have supposed that she
regarded him with awful veneration; nevertheless less, she magnified his
office greatly. The dignity conferred by ordination she held to be the
highest honor to which a mortal man can possibly attain. Herself adorning
the elevated station of a pastor's wife, she resolved to secure for Laura a
position of equal eminence. When, therefore, she perceived that her sister
had found favor in the eyes of Mr. Elam Hunt, she gave the bashful student
frequent opportunities to speak his mind; and when, at last, he ventured
in private to tell her of the flame which warmed his breast with a
gentle glow, quite unlike that fervent heat by which the hearts of more
impassioned, worldly-minded swains are apt to be tortured and consumed, she
assuaged his pangs of doubt by encouraging assurances of her countenance
and favor. In the mean time she resolved to guard against every
misadventure by which the successful termination of his suit might be
prevented or imperilled.

This was by no means an easy thing to do; for Laura, at twenty, though an
orphan, without a penny to buy even so much as a dozen teaspoons for a
setting-out, was not a girl that would have been apt to lack for lovers, if
she had had a fair chance to get them. As I have already told you, she was
as sweet and as pretty as a pink full of dewdrops, and might have picked
out a sweetheart from as many beaux as she had fingers and thumbs, but that
her vigilant duenna, Mrs. Jaynes, kept the young fellows beyond courting
distance. It was impossible, even for this shrewd and discreet lady, so
to manage, without danger of giving offence, as to prevent Laura from
associating with the other young folks of the parish; and indeed, to do
her justice, she was not so austerely strict that she desired her sister
to abstain from all social intercourse with those of her own age, sex, and
condition. On the contrary, as the reader already knows, she was permitted
to cherish a tender and devoted friendship for Miss Cornelia Bugbee; and
there were several other young ladies, whose brothers were only little
boys, with whom she was on the most amicable and familiar terms.

But by means of various arts and devices Mrs. Jaynes contrived to keep the
young men from becoming too intimate with her pretty sister; although some
of them had vainly endeavored to be more than neighborly. If one ventured
to call at the parsonage, Mrs. Jaynes was always in the parlor, with Laura,
to receive him, and sat there, grimly, on the sofa, as long as he staid;
taking a part in the conversation, which she generally managed to turn upon
the most grave and serious topics. The benighted condition of the heathen
was a favorite subject of discourse with her, upon these occasions; and the
visitor was a lucky youth, if he escaped without making, upon the spot,
a cash contribution to the worthy cause of foreign missions. If Laura
was invited to ride or to walk with a gentleman, Mrs. Jaynes always had a
plausible pretext for objecting. It was either too hot, or too cold, or
too damp, or too dusty, or there was sure to be some other reason, equally
sufficient, for withholding her consent. As for balls and cotillon parties,
the most enterprising and audacious youngster of them all would have
quailed at the idea of facing the parson's wife with a request to take her
sister to such a place. At last the report got wind that Mrs. Jaynes was
saving Laura for Mr. Elam Hunt, until such time as, having finished his
course of study at East Windsor, he should be ordained and settled in a
parish of his own, and ready to take to himself a wife. To be sure, it did
not seem that Laura was of the right sort of temper for a minister's sober
helpmeet; nevertheless, this rumor gained credit, and very soon came to
be believed by many of the neighbors. Mrs. Jaynes, it was noticed, would
never contradict the story, though, to be sure, Laura herself always did,
whenever she had a chance to do so. Indeed, she was often heard to declare,
with great vehemence and apparent sincerity, that she would as lief be
buried alive as marry that living skeleton,--by which scandalous epithet
she designated the lean and reverend youth from East Windsor. Some people
who heard these protestations let them go for naught, giving them all the
less heed on account of their violence, or, perhaps, being even confirmed
in the belief of what she so earnestly denied. For it is a very common
artifice with young women to pretend a strong aversion for their most
favored lovers, and to feign an utter dislike and abhorrence for the very
persons whom they love most fondly. Others, however, gave credit to her
passionate declarations, and believed that she recoiled from the idea of
marrying the lank young student with unfeigned repugnance and disgust.
Between people holding these diverse opinions discussions would sometimes
arise, especially at meetings of the Dorcas Society, when neither Laura
nor Mrs. Jaynes was present. But, just at this juncture, an event occurred
which gave a new direction to the current of village gossip, setting every
member of the Dorcas sisterhood all agape with wonder and surprise, and all
agog with excitement and curiosity. Of this strange and memorable affair I
will presently give a veritable account, and even show the reader how it
came to pass. But in the mean time the fortunes of the Bugbee family demand
my brief attention.

[Continued in the next Number.]


When wise Minerva still was young
And just the least romantic,
Soon after from Jove's head she flung
That preternatural antic,
'Tis said to keep from idleness
Or flirting,--those twin curses,--
She spent her leisure, more or less,
In writing po--, no, verses.

How nice they were! to rhyme wit _far_
A kind _star_ did not tarry;
The metre, too, was regular
As schoolboy's dot and carry;
And full they were of pious plums,
So extra-super-moral,--
For sucking Virtue's tender gums
Most tooth-enticing coral.

A clean, fair copy she prepares,
Makes sure of moods and tenses,
With her own hand,--for prudence spares
A man-(or woman)-uensis;
Complete, and tied with ribbons proud,
She hinted soon how cosy a
Treat it would be to read them loud
After next day's Ambrosia.

The Gods thought not it would amuse
So much as Homer's Odyssees,
But could not very well refuse
The properest of Goddesses;
So all sat round in attitudes
Of various dejection,
As with a _hem!_ the queen of prudes
Began her grave prelection.

At the first pause Zeus said, "Well sung!--
I mean--ask Phoebus,--_he_ knows."
Says Phoebus, "Zounds! a wolf's among
Admetus's merinos!
Fine! very fine! but I must go;
They stand in need of me there;
Excuse me!" snatched his stick, and so
Plunged down the gladdened ether.

With the next gap, Mars said, "For me
Don't wait,--naught could be finer;
But I'm engaged at half-past three,--
A fight in Asia Minor!"
Then Venus lisped, "How very thad!
It rainth down there in torrinth;
But I _mutht_ go, becauthe they've had
A thacrifithe in Corinth!"

Then Bacchus,--"With those slamming doors
I lost the last half dist--(hic!)
Mos' bu'ful se'ments! what's the Chor's?
My voice shall not be missed--(hic!)"
His words woke Hermes; "Ah!" he said,
"I so love moral theses!"
Then winked at Hebe, who turned red,
And smoothed her apron's creases.

Just then Zeus snored,--the Eagle drew
His head the wing from under;
Zeus snored,--o'er startled Greece there flew
The many-volumed thunder;
Some augurs counted nine,--some, ten,--
Some said, 'twas war,--some, famine,--
And all, that other-minded men
Would get a precious ----.

Proud Pallas sighed, "It will not do;
Against the Muse I've sinned, oh!"
And her torn rhymes sent flying through
Olympus's back window.
Then, packing up a peplus clean,
She took the shortest path thence,
And opened, with a mind serene,
A Sunday-school in Athens.

The verses? Some, in ocean swilled,
Killed every fish that bit to 'em;
Some Galen caught, and, when distilled,
Found morphine the residuum;
But some that rotted on the earth
Sprang up again in copies,
And gave two strong narcotics birth,--
Didactic bards and poppies.

Years after, when a poet asked
The Goddess's opinion,
As being one whose soul had basked
In Art's clear-aired dominion,--
"Discriminate," she said, "betimes;
The Muse is unforgiving;
Put all your beauty in your rhymes,
Your morals in your living."


"Break, break, break,
On thy cold, gray crags, O Sea!"

"I remember a day," said a friend not long since, "a day as sweet, calm,
cool, and bright as that whose wedding and funeral song the poet sings in
the same verse, when I stood upon the white sea-coast near Naples, and
looked far away across the blue, silent waters, and up the gray, flowery
steeps, to where the towering cone of Vesuvius cleaves the skies. It was in
the spring-time; luxuriant nature seemed to have nothing to do but to grow
and bloom, and the huge mountain itself was profoundly at peace,--smiling
a welcome, apparently, to the delicate bean-plants and wild vines which
clambered up its sides, and wearing a light curl of smoke, like a gay
coronal, around its brow. The bay was alive with red-capped fishermen,
each one intent on fishing up his inverted brother below him; the beach
was thronged with women, who chattered cheerfully over their baskets; and
along the road scampered soldiers in bright uniforms, as if they had no
conceivable purpose in life but to bathe in that clear sunshine, and
breathe that soft, delicious air.

"A few hours later," continued he, "I stood not far from the same spot,
and saw that mountain angrily belching forth pitch and flames; the earth
beneath my feet groaned with sullen, suppressed rage, or as if it were
in pain; vast volumes of lurid smoke rolled through the sky, and streams
of melted brimstone coursed down the hill-sides, burning up the pretty
flowers, crushing the trees, and ruthlessly devouring the snug farms and
cottages of the loving Philemons and Baucises who had incautiously built
too near the fatal precinct. The poor _contadini_, who lately chaffered so
vivaciously over their macaroni and chestnuts, were flying panic-smitten
in all directions; some clasped their crucifixes, and called wildly upon
the saints for protection; others leaped frantically into boats and rowed
themselves dead, in the needless endeavor to escape death; while the
general expression of the people was that of a multitude who, the next
minute, expected to see the skies fall to crush them, or the earth open to
swallow them up forever. But I was myself unmoved," our friend concluded,
in his usual vein of philosophy, "though, I trust, not unsympathizing;
because I saw, through those dun clouds of smoke, the stars still shining
serenely aloft, and because I felt that after that transient convulsion of
nature the great sun would rise as majestically as ever on the morrow, to
show us, here and there, no doubt, a beautiful tract now desolate, here and
there a fruitful vale now filled with ashes,--but also, the same glorious
bay breathing calmly in its bed, the same cloudless sky holding the green
and peaceful earth in its complacent embrace."

We could not, as we listened to the story of the traveller, help
considering it an illustration of that great convulsion of finance
which has visited us during the last month. We do not mean to call
this an eruption, which would scarcely be appropriate,--inasmuch as
the characteristic of it was not a preternatural activity, but rather a
preternatural stagnation and paralysis; but there is certainly a striking
similarity in the contrasts presented by the two pictures just painted, and
the contrasts presented in the condition of the commercial world as it is
now, and as it was only a few weeks since. Then all nature smiled, and we
scarcely thought of the future in the happy consciousness of the present;
whereas now all nature seems to frown, and we eagerly long for the future
to escape the endless vexations and miseries of the present. Our trade,
which lately bloomed like a Neapolitan spring-day, is now covered with
clouds and sifted with ashes, as if some angry Vesuvius had exploded its
consents over us and shot the hot lava-tides among our snug vineyards and
cottages. May we not also, in this case, as in that, draw some consolation
from the knowledge that the stars are still shining behind the smoke, and
that the sun will assuredly come up to-morrow, as it has come up on so
many morrows, for so many thousands of years? Convulsions, by the very
fact of their violence, show that they are short-lived; and though we, who
suffer by them directly, are apt to derive the slenderest solace from the
philosophy which demonstrates their transientness, or their utility in
certain aspects, it is nevertheless profitable, for various reasons, to
make them a subject of remark.

In a season of great public calamity, moreover, everybody feels that he
ought to participate in it in some way, if not as a sufferer, then as a
sympathizer, and, in either capacity, as a speculator upon its causes and
probable effects. The learned historian, Monsieur Alcofribas, who preserves
for our instruction "the heroic deeds and prowesses" of the great king of
the Dipsodes, tells us how that once, when Philip of Macedon threatened
Corinth, the virtuous inhabitants of that city were thrown into mortal
fear; but they were not too much paralyzed to forget the necessity of
defence; and while some fortified the walls, others sharpened spears, and
others again carried the baskets, the noble Diogenes, who was doubtless the
chief literary man of the place, was observed to thwack and bang his tub
with unmerciful vehemence. When he was asked why he did so, he replied,
that it was for the purpose of showing that he was not a mere slug and lazy
spectator, in a crowd so fervently exercised. In these times, therefore,
when Philip of Macedon is not precisely thundering at our walls, but
nibbling at every man's cupboard and cheese-press, it behooves each
Diogenes to rattle his tub at least, in order to prove, in the spirit of
his prototype and master,

"Though he be rid of fear,
He is not void of care."

If the noise he makes only add to the general turbulence and confusion, the
show of sympathy will at least go for something.

The same authority, whom we have just quoted, has a piece of advice with
which we intend to set our tub in motion. "Whatsoever," he says, "those
blindfolded, blockheady fools, the astrologers of Louvain, Nuremberg,
Tubingen, and Lyons, may tell you, don't you feed yourselves up with whims
and fancies, nor believe there is any Governor of the whole universe this
year but God the Creator, who by his Word rules and governs all things, in
their nature, propriety, and conditions, and without whose preservation and
governance all things in a moment would be reduced to nothing, as out of
nothing they were by him created." It is a most sound and salutary truth,
not to be forgotten in times of commercial distress, nor even in discussing
financial questions, remote as they may seem to be from the domain of
ethics. God rules in the market, as he does on the mountain; he has
provided eternal laws for society, as he has for the stars or the seas;
and it is just as impossible to escape him or his ways in Wall Street or
State Street as it is anywhere else. We do not wish to suggest any improper
comparisons, but does not the Psalmist assert, "If I make my bed in
_sheol_, behold Thou art there"?

In other words, commerce, the exchange of commodities, banking, and
whatever relates to it, currency, the rise and fall of prices, the rates
of profits, are all subject to laws as universal and unerring as those
which Newton deduces in the "Principia," or Donald McKay applies in the
construction of a clipper ship. As they are manifested by more complicated
phenomena, man may not know them as accurately as he knows the laws of
astronomy or mechanics; but he can no more doubt the existence of the
former than he can the existence of the latter; and he can no more
infringe the one than he can infringe the other with impunity. The poorest
housekeeper is perfectly well aware that certain rules of order are to
be observed in the management of the house, or else you will have either
starvation or the sheriff inside of it in a little time. But what means
that formidable, big-sounding phrase, Political Economy, more than national
housekeeping? Can you manage the immense, overgrown family of Uncle Sam
with less calculation, less regard to justice, prudence, thrift, than you
use in your own little affairs? Can you sail that tremendous vessel,
the Ship of State, without looking well to your chart and compass and
Navigator's Guide?

When the "Central America" sinks to the bottom of the sea with five hundred
souls on board, though it is in the midst of a terrible tempest, the public
instinct is inclined to impute the disaster less to the mysterious uproar
of wind and wave than to some concealed defect in the vessel. Had she sunk
in a tranquil ocean, while the winds were idle and the waves asleep, the
incident would have produced a burst of indignation, above the deeper wail
of sorrow, strong enough to sweep the guilty instruments of it out of
existence. The world would have felt that some great law of mechanics had
been wilfully violated. But here is a whole commercial society suddenly
wrecked, in a moment of general peace, after ten years of high, but not
very florid or very unwholesome prosperity, on the heel of an abundant
recompense to the efforts of labor,--when there has occurred no public
calamity, no war, no famine, no fire, no domestic insurrection, scarcely
one startling event, and when the interpositions of the government have
been literally as unfelt as the dropping of the dew, a whole commercial
society is wrecked; values sink to the bottom like the California gold
on the "Central America"; great money-corporations fall to pieces as
her state-rooms and cabins fell to pieces; the relations of trade are
dislocated as her ribs and beams were dislocated; and the people are cast
upon an uncertain sea, as her passengers were cast,--not to struggle for
physical existence like them, but to endure an amount of anguish and
despair almost equal to what was endured by those unhappy victims.

Now can this have happened arbitrarily, capriciously, mysteriously, without
some gross and positive violation of social law, some wilful and therefore
wicked departure from the known principles of science? Every random
conjecture as to the causes of the prevailing distress implies an answer
to the question, and it need not be repeated. It is more important to
inquire what those violations and departures have been, than to reiterate
the general principle. What has led to the lamentable results under which
we suffer? What has rendered the winds so tempestuous that they must needs
blow down our noble ship? What has provoked the ire of those big bully
waves so that they advance to demolish us? Ah! hark just here how the
Diogenidae tumble and thump their tubs! each one rapping out his own tune;
each one screaming to boot, to be heard above the din!

One cries, that we Americans are an unconscionably greedy people, ever
hasting to get rich, never satisfied with our gains, and, in the frantic
eagerness of accumulation, disregarding alike justice, truth, probity, and
moderation. Under this impulse our trade becomes an incessant and hazardous
adventure, like the stakes of the gambler upon the turn of the dice, or
upon the figures of the sweat-cloth; a feverish impatience for success
pushes everything to the verge of ruin, and only after it has toppled over
the brink, and we have followed it, does the danger of the game we had
been playing become apparent.--A second qualifies this view, and shouts,
that our vice is not so much greed, which is the vice of the miser, as
extravagance, which is the vice of the spendthrift; and that as soon as
we get one dollar, we run in debt for ten. We must have fine houses,
fine horses, fine millinery, fine upholstery, troops of servants, and
give costly dinners, and attend magnificent balls. Our very shops and
counting-houses must resemble the palaces of the Venetian nobility, and
our dwellings be more royally arrayed than the dwellings of the mightiest
monarchs. When the time comes--as come it will--for paying for all this
glorious frippery, we collapse, we wither, we fleet, we sink into the
sand.--A third Diogenes, of a more practical turn of mind, vociferates,
that the whole thing comes from the want of a high protective tariff. These
subtle and malignant foreigners, who are so jealous of our progress, who
are ever on the watch to ruin us, who make any quantity of goods at any
time, for nothing, and send them here just at the right moment, to swamp
us irrecoverably, are the authors of the mischief, and ought to be kept
outside of the nation by a triple wall of icebergs drawn around each
port. They pour in upon us a flood of commodities, which destroys our
manufactures; they carry off all our gold and silver, which eviscerates the
banks; the banks squeeze the merchants, to the last drop of blood; and the
merchants perish in the process, carrying with them hosts of mechanics,
farmers, and professional men.--Not so, bellows a fourth philosopher,
perhaps a little more seedy than the rest; it is all the work of "the
infernal credit system,"--of the practice of making money out of that
which is only a promise to pay money,--out of that which purports to have
a real equivalent in some vault, when no such equivalent exists, and is,
therefore, a fraud on the face of it,--and which, deluging the community,
raises the price of everything, begets speculation, stimulates an excessive
and factitious trade, and is then suddenly withdrawn from the system, at
the height of its inflation, like wind sucked from a bladder, to leave it a
mere flaccid, wrinkled, empty, worthless old film of fat!

Now, for our part, we think all the Diogenidae right, but not precisely in
the way in which they state the matter; and we think the seedy Diogenes
the rightest of all,--because he has struck nearest to the centre, to the
organic fact which controls the other facts,--yet, without sharing his
prejudice against credit, one of the blessedest of inventions. As a very
long and a very dull treatise, however, would scarcely suffice to explain
all the reasons for our thinking so, we must devote the one or two pages
that are given us to a few simple, elementary, frontal principles,
familiar, no doubt, to every one, and therefore the more important to be
recalled, when every one seems to have forgotten them. Nothing is better
known than the laws of gravitation; nothing staler in the repetition; but
if the folk around us are building their houses so that they all fall down
upon our heads, it behooves us to remind them of those laws.

1. Human wisdom has discovered nothing clearer than this,--that in all the
operations of trade above a primitive barter, you must have a standard or
measure of values; and human ingenuity has never been able to devise any
standard more perfect, in essential respects, than the precious metals. It
may be doubted, indeed, whether the choice of these metals for currency
is a result of human ingenuity. Paley and his school of theologians
demonstrate the existence, intelligence, and goodness of God from the
evidences of design in creation,--from that nice adaptation of means to
ends which shows an infinite knowledge and infinite benevolence at work;
but no one of the instances in which they found their argument, from
the watch, which affords the primal illustration, to the human body,
which furnishes the most complex confirmations, is a more astonishing or
exquisite proof of pre-arrangement than is the adaptedness of gold and
silver to the purposes of currency. Your standard or measure, for instance,
must, in the first place, possess a certain uniformity; if it be a measure
of capacity, it must not be of the size of a thimble in the morning, and as
big as a haystack at night, like the mystic bottle of the fairy tale; if
a measure of length, it must not be made of caoutchouc, as long as your
finger to-day, and as long as the Atlantic Cable to-morrow; and so, if a
measure of value, it must not equal one thousand at ten o'clock, and equal
zero at three. But the precious metals do possess this uniformity; they
are not scarce, as diamonds are, so that a pinch of them might measure
the value of a city; nor are they as plenty as blackberries, so that a
wagon-load could scarcely buy a fat goose for dinner. They cannot be washed
away like a piece of soap, nor wear out like a bit of wampum, nor crumble
like agate or carnelian in dividing. In short, they combine all the
advantages that are needed, with few or none of the disadvantages that
would be troublesome, in a substance which is used for money. They possess
intrinsic utility, they are equably supplied, they may be easily divided
and then fused again, they take a stamp, and they retain the same qualities
everywhere and at all times. Accordingly, all the civilized nations,
from the time of great-great-great-grandfather Moses down to the time of
President Buchanan, have used the precious metals for their standard of
values; while your barbarians only, your silly Sandwich-islanders, your
stupid troglodytes of interior Africa, your savage red men, have used for
that purpose fish-bones, beaver-skins, cowries, strings of beads, or a lump
of old rags. Q.E.D., then, on Paley's principles, the precious metals were
meant by Divine Providence for use as money, at least more than anything
else, because nothing else is so well adapted to the end. Intelligent man
everywhere has been glad to recognize the Divine teaching; and the American
man--holding himself the most intelligent of all men--has incorporated
the lesson in his fundamental law. Nothing can be money for him,
constitutionally, but metal which has a genuine ring in it.

2. Being the established standard, the precious metals, so long as they
continue unchanged in amount, have a precise and definite relation to all
other commodities. But they do not continue unchanged; and neither do
other commodities continue unchanged. There is more gold at one time than
another, and more wheat at one time than another; so that the relation
between the two is not a determinate, but a variable one; and it is this
variation which causes or constitutes the fluctuation of prices. If wheat
increases in quantity, more of it will be given for the same money; and if
it decreases, less of it will be given for the same money; on the other
hand, if money increases, more of it will be given for a specific quantity
of wheat, and if it decreases, less will be given; while if they increase
or decrease together, a relative equilibrium will be maintained. But the
beauty of the precious metals, as we have said, is that they are not liable
to very sudden or considerable increase or decrease; only twice in the
course of history, on the occasion of the discovery of the South American
mines by the Spaniards, and of the California mines by the Americans,
has there been recorded an unusual production of gold and silver; and in
both cases, it is important to note, the same effect followed,--a very
considerable enhancement of prices; that is, all other articles seemed to
grow dear, although the real fact was that money had only grown cheap. In
Spain every commodity rose; everybody experienced that delicious feeling,
which we sometimes enjoy in dreams, of going up without spring or effort;
and Spain was considered to be enviably prosperous and happy. As for
San Francisco, we all remember the fabulous prices which ruled in that
vicinity. An acquaintance of ours wrote us then, that he gave five dollars
for a dinner consisting of half a pullet and two potatoes, and when he
added a pint of champagne, it came to five dollars more. He allowed his
washerwoman one hundred and fifty dollars a month, paid fifty dollars for
a pair of second-hand cow-hide boots, and hired a cellar, seven feet by
nine, and six feet under ground, at the rate of fifteen thousand dollars a
year. But both in Spain and in San Francisco this ludicrous exaggeration
of values cured itself. The manufacturers and merchants of all the world
sent their goods of all sorts to such tempting markets; and it was not
long before the goods, not the money, were in excess. Prices came down,
as sailors say, by the run, and Spain and San Francisco were reduced once
more to rationality and comfort. These were exceptional cases, but they
illustrate the general principle, that the increase of money raises prices,
and the decrease of money lowers them, which is all we wish to state. In
ordinary eases, however, when the currency is in its normal condition, this
rise and fall of prices is like the rise and fall of the tides, the mere
pulsations of the great sea, which drown and damage nobody, and rather keep
the waters more clear and wholesome by their gentle agitation.

3. The same law is observed to operate, whenever anything is made, either
by the decrees of government or the usages of society, to take the place of
the precious metals as money. Paper, in the shape of bank-bills, promising
to pay money on demand, is the most frequent, because the most cheap
and convenient substitute; accordingly, when convertible paper-money is
increased, it raises prices, and when it is diminished, it depresses
prices, just as in the case of a metallic currency. But there are these
two signal points of distinction between a paper and a metallic currency:
first, that paper money may be increased or diminished much more easily
than metallic money; and, second, that any excess or deficiency of the
former is not so easily corrected by the natural operations of trade. The
sudden or large increase of the metals is prevented by their scarcity and
the laborious processes necessary to produce them, and a sudden or large
decrease of them could be brought about only by some great public calamity
which should destroy them or cause them to be hoarded. But paper money,
whether made by a government or made by authorized corporations, may be
issued and put in circulation almost at will, and again be withdrawn
at will. We do not mean that the issue and withdrawal of it are wholly
unchecked, but that the checks, as the entire history of banking would seem
to prove, are comparatively inefficient and delusive. If the rise and fall
of prices, caused by the fluctuations of metallic money, are to be compared
to the rise and fall of the tides, the rise and fall of paper prices are
more like the increase and decrease of steam in a boiler, which is an
admirable agent, but demanding an incessant and scientific control. The
sea-tides, even after a tempest, will regulate themselves, because they
have all the oceans and all the rivers of the globe to draw upon; but the
steam in a boiler is a thing confined, and yet capable of immense and
destructive expansion. A metallic currency runs from nation to nation, and
has its perturbations corrected from nation to nation; but a paper currency
is local, and cannot be so well corrected by the great interchanges of the
globe. Let us make this clearer in another way.

4. It is universally conceded, by all the writers on finance, that any
unusual production of currency occasions a rise of prices; the relative
value of money is less than it was before, while the relative value of
other articles is greater; a greater quantity of money is given for other
articles, and fewer of other articles are given for the same amount of
money. This rise has the double effect of provoking the importation
of foreign commodities, and of preventing the exportation of domestic
commodities; inasmuch as the same enhancement of rates, which opens a good
domestic market for the former, closes the foreign market to the latter;
and thus an unfavorable balance accumulates rapidly against the country
where the rise occurs, in respect to other countries where it has not
occurred. Now sooner or later this balance must be paid; and as products
cannot be profitably shipped abroad to furnish a fund whereupon to
draw bills of exchange, it must be paid in coin. The coin is therefore
abstracted from circulation; and if coin were the only currency, such an
abstraction would of itself induce a fall of prices, which would operate as
a check upon importations until the old relation of equilibrium should be
restored. But where the government, or where individuals, whether organized
or alone, have the power to replace the departed coin by issues of paper
money, prices are for a while maintained, and importations continued as
vigorously as ever. All this, however, is but a postponement of the day of
settlement. The balance to be extinguished is a substantial balance, which
can be discharged only by substantial means; a mere promise to pay, a mere
sign and representative of debt, will not extinguish it, any more than the
smell of a cook-shop will extinguish a ravenous appetite. The insatiable
creditor will have money; and the depositories of that essential become,
under his assaults, more and more meagre and tenuous. The managers of
them at last get alarmed, and begin to withhold their issues of paper;
which means that they begin to reduce their loans to the community. The
money-market grows "tight," as it is phrased; the money-world feels
generally as if it had taken an overdose of persimmons. Merchants and
dealers, shorn of their usual accommodations, are compelled to borrow at
ruinous usuries, or to fail to meet their payments. Their default involves
others; others fail, and others again. The bowels of the banks, with us
the great money-lenders, close with the snap and tenacity of steel-traps;
and then a general panic, or want of commercial confidence, brings on a
paralysis of the domestic exchanges, and wide-spread bankruptcy and ruin.
Importations are checked, of course; but they are checked in a sharp,
rapid, and violent way, accompanied by the most painful embarrassments and

This we believe to be an outline of the history of all our commercial
catastrophes, stripped of those local and incidental circumstances which
vary from lame to time: over-issues of money,--speculative prosperity,--all
the world getting rich in the most agreeable manner,--fairy palaces rising
on all sides, without the sound of trowel or hammer; then,--the day of
adjustment,--the rapid contraction of the currency,--all the world getting
poor in the most drastic and disagreeable manner,--and those fairy palaces,
which rose under our very eyelids over-night, vanishing, like the palace
of Aladdin from the vision of the Grand-Seignior after he awoke in the
morning. But, alas! the revulsion does not stop with the overthrow of the
palaces which had been reared without labor; it is not satisfied with the
dissipation of mere fancies and dreams; but, being itself a most real
thing, it carries with it many a stately structure, which the toil, the
economy, the self-denial of years had hardly raised. Extraneous causes,--a
short crop,--a reduced tariff,--a peculiar mania of enterprise,--may hasten
or retard the various steps of the process which has been described; but
its cause and its course are almost always the same, and the discerning
eye may easily detect them, from the beginning to the end of our modern
commercial experience. In the existing difficulties, in this country, the
railroad speculations have had much to do with producing and aggravating
the effect; but the primary source of it, we think, is to be found in the
ease with which our currency is inflated, under a banking system which
varies from State to State, and which, outside of New England and New York,
where it is by no means perfect, is as bungling a contrivance, for the ends
to be answered, as was ever inflicted on the patience of mankind. Much
of the trouble is due also to the extravagance and reckless waste of our
people, which, though owing in some degree to our want of good manners and
good taste, are directly traceable to the stimulus given to expense by the
over-issue of artificial money. While the paper which passes for money is
plenty, and every man can easily get "accommodations" from the banks, we
squander without thought. No matter how costly the articles we buy; the
expansion of the currency is greater than the rise in market values; and it
is only when the contraction comes that we see how foolishly lavish we have

What, then, is the remedy? "Why, away with paper currency altogether!" says
one. Yes,--tear up your Croton-water-pipes, because the breaking of a main
sometimes submerges your dwellings; destroy your railroads, because the
trains sometimes run off the track; arrest your steamships, because an
"Arctic" and a "Central America" go disastrously down into the deep,
deep sea! That were not wise, surely; that were very unwise, even were
it possible, which it is not.--"Give us a high protective tariff," says
another. Most certainly, friend, if we are to be perpetually flooded with
paper, a high tariff is needed;--your theory is at least consistent,
however it may have worked in practice. But a high protective tariff is
an impossibility, because it can be attained only by favor of the Federal
legislature; and, as we all know, at the door of that legislature stands
the inexorable shape of the Slave Power, which consults no interest but
its own in the management of government, and which will never make a
concession to the manufacturers or the merchants of the North, unless it be
to purchase some new act of baseness, or bind them in some new chains of
servility.--But have you inquired whether that flood of paper is necessary?
We frankly tell you that we do not believe it is; we believe that a better
system is possible,--to be brought about, not by greater restrictions
on banking, but by greater freedom; and we only regret that we have not
now space to discuss that faith with you in all its reasons and results.
We hope to be permitted to do so at some other time. Meanwhile, let us
rejoice that the whole subject is in a position to be frankly discussed. A
few years ago, when the question of the currency was a question of party
politics, there was no aspect in which it could be presented, which did
not arouse all the restless jealousies of party prejudice. If you talked
of hard-money, you were denounced as a Benton bullionist; if you talked
of credit, you were called a Whig banker, plotting to devour the poor;
and the calmest phrases of science were turned into the shibboleths of an
internecine warfare. A better hour has come, and let us improve it to our
mutual edification.


The Maple puts her corals on in May,
While loitering frosts about the lowlands cling,
To be in tune with what the robins sing,
Plastering new log-huts 'mid her branches gray;
But when the Autumn southward turns away,
Then in her veins burns most the blood of Spring,
And every leaf, intensely blossoming,
Makes the year's sunset pale the set of day.
O Youth unprescient, were it only so
With trees you plant, and in whose shade reclined,
Thinking their drifting blooms Fate's coldest snow,
You carve dear names upon the faithful rind,
Nor in that vernal stem the cross foreknow
That Age may bear, silent, yet unresigned!


It was said long ago, that poets, like canaries, must be starved in order
to keep them in good voice, and, in the palmy days of Grub Street, an
editor's table was nothing grander than his own knee, on which, in his airy
garret, he unrolled his paper-parcel of dinner, happy if its wrapping were
a sheet from Brown's last poem, and not his own. Now an editorial table
seems to mean a board of green cloth at which literary broken-victuals are
served out with no carving but that of the editorial scissors.

_La Maga_ has her table, too, and at fitting times invites to it her
various Eminent Hands. It is a round table,--that is, rounded by the
principle of rotation,--for how could she settle points of precedence with
the august heads of her various Departments without danger of the dinner's
growing cold? Substantial dinners are eaten thereat with Homeric appetite,
nor, though _impletus venter non vult studere libenter_, are the visits of
the Muse unknown. At these feasts no tyranny of speech-making is allowed,
but the _bonbons_ are all wrapped in original copies of verses by various
contributors, which, having served their festive turn, become the property
of the guests. Reporters are not admitted, for the eating is not done
for inspection, like that of the hapless inmates of a menagerie; but
_La Maga_ herself sometimes brings away in her pocket a stanza or so which
she esteems worthy of a more general communication. Last month she thus
sequestered the following Farewell addressed by Holmes to the historian of
William the Silent.

Yes, we knew we must lose him,--though friendship may claim
To blend her green leaves with the laurels of fame;
Though fondly, at parting, we call him our own,
'Tis the whisper of love when the bugle has blown.

As the rider that rests with the spur on his heel,--
As the guardsman that sleeps in his corselet of steel,--
As the archer that stands with his shaft on the string,
He stoops from his toil to the garland we bring.

What pictures yet slumber unborn in his loom
Till their warriors shall breathe and their beauties shall bloom,
While the tapestry lengthens the life-glowing dyes
That caught from our sunsets the stain of their skies!

In the alcoves of death, in the charnels of time,
Where flit the gaunt spectres of passion and crime,
There are triumphs untold, there are martyrs unsung,
There are heroes yet silent to speak with his tongue!

Let us hear the proud story that time has bequeathed
From lips that are warm with the freedom they breathed!
Let him summon its tyrants, and tell us their doom,
Though he sweep the black past like Van Tromp with his broom!

* * * * *

The stream flashes by, for the west-winds awake
On pampas, on prairie, o'er mountain and lake,
To bathe the swift bark, like a sea-girdled shrine,
With incense they stole from the rose and the pine.

So fill a bright cup with the sunlight that gushed
When the dead summer's jewels were trampled and crushed:
THE TRUE KNIGHT OF LEARNING,--the world holds him dear,--
Love bless him, Joy crown him, God speed his career!

_Aug. 8, 1857._


_The Greyson Letters_, Selections from the Correspondence of R.E.H.
GREYSON, ESQ. Edited by HENRY ROGERS, Author of "The Eclipse of Faith," &c.
Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1 vol. 12mo.

We are assured in the American preface to this volume, that while it
exhibits Henry Rogers as the peer of Butler as a reasoner, it also shows
him not inferior to Lamb as a humorist. Much as we are inclined to echo
the critical decisions of prefaces, we regret being unable to indorse this
confident statement. In amplitude, vigor, and fertility of thought we must
think the author of the "Analogy" holds some slight advantages over the
author of "The Eclipse of Faith"; and we seriously doubt if the lovers of
Charles Lamb will be likely to rush into mirthful ecstasies over the humor
of "The Greyson Letters." But we suppose that Henry Rogers himself would
make no pretensions to the rank of a writer, or reasoner, or humorist of
the first class. Far from being a great man, he occasionally slips into
the prejudices of quite a little one, and he never wholly puts off the
pedagogue and puts on the philosopher. Without much original force of
nature, and never unmistakably stamping his own image and superscription
either on his arguments or his language, he is still a well-trained
theological scholar, a skilful logician, and one of that class of
elegant writers who neither offend the taste nor kindle the soul. As a
controversialist on themes which are now engaging popular attention, he
grasps the questions he discusses at one or two removes from their centre
and heart, where they pass out of the sphere of ideas and pass into the
region of opinions; and in this region he is candid to the extent of his
perceptions, quick to detect the weak points in the formal statements
of his opponents, and, without touching the vitalities of the matter in
controversy, is always hailed as victor by those who agree with him, but


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