The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II, No. 8, June 1858

Part 4 out of 5

"A touch! a touch!" cried all the children, and the Brahmin groaned,
for he knew that his beautiful raiment was ruined. Thrice he wagged,
and thrice the children cried, "A touch! a touch!"

So the strict Brahmin leaped to his feet, in a frightful rage, and,
tearing the precious cloth from the tree, rent it in a hundred shreds,
while he cursed the abominable dog and the master that owned him.
And the children admired and were edified, and they whispered among

"Now, surely, it behooveth us to take heed to our ways, for our
father is particular."

Moral: And the Brahmin winked.

The Samaradana is an institution for which our friend Asirvadam
entertains peculiar veneration. This is simply an abundant feast of
Brahminical good things, to which the "fat and greasy citizens" of
the caste are bidden by some zealous or manoeuvring Soodra,--on
occasion of the dedication of a temple, perhaps, or in a season of
drought, or when a malign constellation is to be averted, or to
celebrate the birth or marriage of some exalted personage. Prom all
the country round about, the Brahmins flock to the feasting, singing
Sanscrit hymns and obscene songs, and shouting, _Hara! hara! Govinda_!
The low fellow who has the honor to entertain so select a company is
not suffered to seat himself in the midst of his guests, much less
to partake of the viands he has been permitted to provide; but in
consideration of his "deed of exalted merit," and his expensive
appreciation of the beauties and advantages of high-caste society,
as expressed in all the delicacies of the season, he may come, when
the last course has been discussed, and, prostrating himself in the
sashtangam posture, receive the unanimous asirvadam of the company.

If, in taking leave of his august guests, he should also signify his
sense of the honor they have done him, by presenting each with a
piece of cloth or a sum of money, he is assured that he is altogether
superior in mind and person to the gods, and that, if he is wise, he
will not neglect to remind his friends of his munificence by another
exhibition of it within a reasonable time.

In the creed of Asirvadam the Brahmin, the drinker of strong drink
is a Pariah, and the eater of cow's flesh is damned already. If, then,
he can tell a cocktail from a cobbler, and scientifically
discriminate between a julep and a gin-sling, it must be because the
Vedas are unclasped to him; for in the Vedas all things are taught.
It is of Asirvadam's father that the story is told, how, when a fire
broke out in his house once, and all the pious neighbors ran to
rescue his effects, the first articles saved were a tub of pickled
pork and a jar of arrack. But this, also, no doubt, is the malicious
invention of some satirical rogue of a Soodra. Asirvadam, as is well
known, recoils with horror from the abomination of eating aught that
has once lived and moved and had a being; but if, remembering that,
you should seek to fill his soul with consternation by inviting him
to inspect a fig under a microscope, he would quietly advise you to
break your nasty glass and "go it blind."

But there is one custom which Asirvadam the Brahmin observes in
common with the Pariah, and that is the solemn ceremonial of Death.
When his time comes, he dies, is burned, and presently forgotten;
and it is a consolation for his ever having been at all, that some
one is sure to be the richer and happier and freer for his ceasing
to be. True, he may assume new earthly conditions, may pass into
other vexatious shapes of life; but the change must ever be for the
better in respect of the interests of those who have suffered by the
powers and capabilities of the shape which he relinquishes. He may
become a snake; but then he is easily scotched, or fooled out of his
fangs with a cunning charmer's tom-tom;--he may pass into the foul
feathers of an indiscriminately gluttonous adjutant-bird; but some
day a bone will choke him;--his soul may creep under the mangy skin
of a Pariah dog, and be kicked out of compounds by scullions; he may
be condemned to the abominable offices of a crow at the burning
ghauts, a jackal by the wells of Thuggee, or a rat in sewers; but he
can never again be such a nuisance, such a sore offence to the minds
and hearts of men, as when he was Asirvadam the Brahmin.

Fortunate indeed will he be, if the low, deep curses of all whom he
has oppressed, betrayed, insulted, shall not have availed against
him in his last hour. "Mayest thou never have a friend to lay thee
on the ground when thou diest!"--no imprecation so fierce, so fell,
as that; even Asirvadam the Brahmin abates his cruel greed, when
some poor Soodra client, bled of his last anna, thinks of his sick
wife, and the darling cow that must be sold at last, and grows
desperate. "Mayest thou have no wife to sprinkle the spot with
cow-dung where thy corpse shall lie, and to spread the unspotted
cloth; nor any cow, her horns tipped with rings of brass, and her
neck garlanded with flowers, to lead thee, holding by her tail,
through pleasant paths to the land of Yama! May no Purohita come to
strew thy bier with the holy herb, nor any next of kin be near to
whisper the last mantra!"

Horrid Soodra! But though thy words make the soul of Asirvadam shiver,
they are but the voice of a dog, after all, and nothing can come of
them. Asirvadam the Brahmin has raised up lusty boys to himself, as
every good Brahmin should; and they shall bind together his thumbs
and his great toes, and lay him on the ground, when his hour is come,--
lest the bed or the mat cling to his ghost, whithersoever it go, and
torment it eternally. His wife shall spread beneath him a cloth that
the hands of Kooleen Brahmins have woven. Lilies of Nilufar shall
garland the neck of the happy cow that is to lead him safely beyond
the fiery river, and the rings shall be golden wherewith her horns
are tipped. A mighty concourse of clients shall follow him to the
place of burning,--to "Rudra, the place of tears,"--whither ten
Kooleen Brahmins will bear him; and as often as they set down the
bier to feed the dead with a morsel of moistened rice, other
Brahmins shall sing his wisdom and his virtues, and celebrate his
meritorious deeds. When his funeral pyre is lighted, his sons, and
his sons' sons, and his daughters' husbands, and his nephews, shall
beat their breasts and rend the air with lamentations; and when his
body has been consumed, his ashes shall be given to the Ganges,--all
save a certain portion, which shall be made into a paste with milk,
and moulded into an image; and the image shall be set up in his house,
that the Brahmins and all his people may offer sacrifices before it.

On the tenth day, his wife shall adorn her forehead with a scarlet
emblem, blacken the edges of her eyelids with soorma, deck her hair
with scarlet flowers, her neck and bosom with sandal, stain her face,
arms, and legs with turmeric, and array her in her choicest robes
and all her jewels, and follow her eldest son, in full procession,
to the tank hard by the "land of Rudra." And the heir shall take
three little stones, that were planted there in a row by the
Purohitas, and, going down into the water as deep as his neck, shall
turn his face to the sun and say, "Until this day these three stones
have stood for my father, that is dead. Henceforth let him cease to
be a carcass; let him enter into the joys of Swarga, the paradise of
Devendra, to be blessed with all conceivable blessings so long as
the waters of Ganges shall continue to flow;--so shall the dead
Brahmin not prowl through the universe, afflicting with evil tricks
stars, men, and trees; so shall he be laid."

But who shall lay the quick Asirvadam, than whom there walks not a
sprite more cunning, more malign?

Ever since the Solitaries, odious by their black arts to princes and
people, were slain or driven out,--fifteen centuries and more,--
Asirvadam the Brahmin has been selfish, wicked, and mischievously
busy,--corrupting the hearts, bewildering the minds, betraying the
hopes, exhausting the moral and physical strength of the Hindoos. He
has taught them the foolish tumult of the Hooly, the fanatical
ferocities of the Yajna, the unwhisperable obscenities of the Saktis,
the fierce and ruinous extravagances of the Doorga Pooja, the
mutilating monstrosities of the Churruck, the enslaving sorceries of
the Atharvana Veda, the raving mad revivals of Juggernath, the pious
debaucheries of Nanjanagud, the strange and sorrowful delusions of
Suttee, the impudent ravishments of Vengata Ramana,--all the
fancies and frenzies, all the delusions and passions and moral
epilepsies that go to make up a Meerut or a Cawnpore.

Of the outrageous insolence of the Seven Penitents he omits nothing
but their sincerity; of the enlightened simplicity of the anchoret
philosophers he retains nothing but their selfishness; of the
intellectual influence of the Gooroo pontiffs he covets nothing but
their dissimulation. He has taught his gaping disciples that a
skilfully compounded and plausibly administered lie is a goodly thing,--
except it be told against the cause of a Brahmin, in which case no
oxyhydrogeneralities of earthly combustion can afford an idea of the
particular hotness of the hell devised for such a liar. He has
solemnly impressed them with the mysterious sacredness of the Ganges,
and its manifold virtues of a supernatural order; to swear falsely
by its waters, he says, is a crime for which Indra the Dreadful has
provided an eternity of excruciations,--except the false oath be
taken in the interest of a Brahmin, in which case the perjurer may
confidently expect a posthumous good time. For the rich to extort
money from the poor, says Asirvadam, is an affront to the Gooroos
and the Gods, which must be punished by forfeiture to the Brahmins
of the whole sum extorted, the poor client to pay an additional
charge for the trouble his protectors have incurred; the same when
fines are recovered; and in cases of enforced payment of debts,
three-fourths of the sum collected are swallowed up in costs. Being
a Brahmin, to pay a bribe is a foolish act; to receive one--a
necessary circumstance, perhaps. Not being a Brahmin, to offer or
accept a bribe is a disgraceful transaction, requiring that both
parties shall be made an example of;--the bribe is forfeited to the
Brahmins, and the poorer party fined; if the fine exceed his means,
the richer party to pay the excess.

As the Brahminical interpretation of an oath is not always clear to
prisoners and witnesses of other castes, it is usual to illustrate
the definition to the obtuser or more scrupulous unfortunates by the
old-fashioned machinery of ordeals: such as compelling the
conscientious or obdurate inquirer to promenade without sandals over
burning coals; or to grasp, and hold for a time, a bar of red-hot
iron; or to plunge the hands into boiling oil, and keep them there
for several minutes. The party receiving these illustrations and
practical definitions of the Brahminical nature of an oath, without
discomfort or scar, is frankly adjudged innocent and reasonable.

Another pretty trick of ordeal, which borrows its more striking
features from the department of natural history, is that in which
the prisoner or witness is required to grope about for a trinket or
small coin in a basket or jar already occupied by a lively cobra.
Should the groper not be bitten, our courtly friend, Asirvadam, is
satisfied there has been some mistake here, and gallantly begs the
gentleman's pardon. To force the subject to swallow water, cup by cup,
until it burst from mouth and nose, is also a very neat ordeal, but
requiring practice.

Formerly, Asirvadam the Brahmin "farmed" the offences of his district;--
that is, he paid a certain sum to government for the right to try,
and to punish, all the high crimes and misdemeanors that should be
committed in his "section" for a year. Of course, fines were his
favorite penalties; and although most of the time, expenses for
meddlers and perjurers being heavy, the office did not pay more than
a fair living profit, there would now and then come a year when,
rice being scarce and opium cheap, with the aid of a little extra
exasperation, he cut it pretty fat. "Take it year in and year out,"
said Asirvadam the Brahmin, "a fellow couldn't complain."

Asirvadam the Brahmin is among the Sepoys. He sits by the well of
Barrackpore, a comrade on either side, and talks, as only he can
talk to whom no books are sealed. To one, a rigid statue of thrilled
attention, he speaks of the time when Arab horsemen first made
flashing forays down upon Mooltan; he tells of Mahmoud's mace, that
clove the idol of Somnath, and of the gold and gems that burst from
the treacherous wood, as water from the smitten rock in the
wilderness; he tells of Timour, and Baber the Founder, and the long
imperial procession of the Great Moguls,--of Humayoon, and Akbar,
and Shah Jehan, and Aurengzebe,--of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultan,--
of Moorish splendor and the Prophet's sway; and the swarthy Mussulman
stiffens in lip-parted listening.

To the other, a fiery enthusiast, fretting for the acted moral of a
tale he knows too well, he whispers of British blasphemy and
insolence,--of Brahmins insulted, and gods derided,--of Vedas
violated, and the sacred Sanscrit defiled by the tongues of
Kaffirs,--of Pariahs taught and honored,--of high and low castes
indiscriminately mingled, an obscene herd, in schools and regiments,--
of glorious institutions, old as Mount Meru, boldly overthrown,--of
suttee suppressed, and infanticide abated,--of widows re-married,
and the dowries of the brides of Brahmins limited,--of high-caste
students handling dead bodies, and Soodra beggars drinking from
Brahminical wells,--of the triple cord broken in twain, and
Brahminee bulls slain in the streets, and cartridges greased with the
fat of cows, and Christian converts indemnified, and property not
confiscated for loss of caste,--and a frightful falling off in the
benighting business generally; and the fierce Rajpoot grinds his
white teeth, while Asirvadam the Brahmin plots, and plots, and plots.

Incline your ears, my brothers, and I will sing you softly, and low,
a song to make Moor and Rajpoot bite, with their very hearts:

"Bring Soma to the adorable Indra, the lord of all, the lord of
wealth, the lord of heaven, the perpetual lord, the lord of men, the
lord of earth, the lord of horses, the lord of cattle, the lord of

"Offer adoration to Indra, the overcomer, the destroyer, the
munificent, the invincible, the all-endowing, the creator, the
all-adorable, the sustainer, the unassailable, the ever-victorious!"

"I proclaim the mighty exploits of that Indra who is ever victorious,
the benefactor of man, the overthrower of man, the caster-down, the
warrior, who is gratified by our libations, the grantor of desires,
the subduer of enemies, the refuge of the people!"

"Unequalled in liberality, the showerer, the slayer of the malevolent,
profound, mighty, of impenetrable sagacity, the dispenser of
prosperity, the enfeebler, firm, vast, the performer of pious acts,
Indra has given birth to the light of the morning!"

"Indra, bestow upon us most excellent treasures, the reputation of
ability, prosperity, increase of wealth, security of person,
sweetness of speech, and auspiciousness of days!"

"Offer worship quickly to Indra; recite hymns; let the outpoured
drops exhilarate him; pay adoration to his superior strength!"

"When, Indra, thou harnessest thy horses, there is no such
charioteer as thou; none is equal to thee in strength; none,
howsoever well horsed, has overtaken thee!"

"He, who alone bestows wealth upon the man who offers him oblations,
is the undisputed sovereign: Indra, ho!"

"When will he trample with his foot upon the man who offers no
oblations, as upon a coiled snake? When will Indra listen to our
praises? Indra, ho!"

"Indra grants formidable strength to him who worships him, having
libations prepared: Indra, ho!"

The song that was chanted low by the well of Barrackpore to the
maddened Rajpoot, to the dreaming Moor, was fiercely shouted by the
well of Cawnpore to a chorus of shrieking women, English wives and
mothers, and spluttering of blood-choked babes, and clash of red
knives, and drunken shouts of slayers, ruthless and obscene.

When Asirvadam the Brahmin conjured the wild demon of revolt to light
the horrid torch and bare the greedy blade, he tore a chapter from
the Book of Menu:--

"Let no man, engaged in combat, smite his foe with concealed weapons,
nor with arrows mischievously barbed, nor with poisoned arrows, nor
with darts blazing with fire."

"Nor let him strike his enemy alighted on the ground; nor an
effeminate man, nor one who sues for life with closed palms, nor one
whose hair is loose, nor one who sits down, nor one who says, 'I am
thy captive.'"

"Nor one who sleeps, nor one who has lost his coat-of-mail, nor one
who is naked, nor one who is dismayed, nor one who is a spectator,
but no combatant, nor one who is fighting with another man."

"Calling to mind the duty of honorable men, let him never slay one
who has broken, his weapon, nor one who is afflicted, nor one who
has been grievously wounded, nor one who is terrified, nor one who
turns his back."

But Asirvadam the Brahmin, like the Thug of seven victims, has
tasted the sugar of blood, sweeter upon his tongue than to the lips
of an eager babe the pearl-tipped nipple of its mother. Henceforth
he must slay, slay, slay, mutilate and ravish, burn and slay, in the
name of the queen of horrors.-Karlee, ho!

Now what shall be done with our dangerous friend? Shall he be blown
from the mouths of guns? or transported to the heart-breaking
Andamans? or lashed to his own churruck-posts, and flayed with cats
by stout drummers? or handcuffed with Pariahs in chain-gangs, to
work on his knees in foul sewers? or choked to death with raw
beefsteaks and the warm blood of cows? or swinged by stout Irish
wenches with bridle-ends? or smitten on the mouth with kid gloves by
English ladies, his turban trampled under foot by every Feringhee
brat in Bengal?--Wanted, a poetical putter-down for Asirvadam the

"Devotion is not in the ragged garment, nor, in the staff, nor in
ashes, nor in the shaven head, nor in the sounding of horns.

"Numerous Mahomets there have been and multitudes of Brahmas, Vishnus,
and Sivas;

"Thousands of seers and prophets, and tens of thousands of saints
and holy men:

"But the chief of lords is the one Lord, the true name of God!"

* * * * *


It would be easy to collect a library of lamentations over the
mechanical tendency of our age. There are, in fact, a good many
people who profess a profound contempt for matter, though they do
nevertheless patronize the butcher and the baker to the manifest
detriment of the sexton. Matter and material interests, they would
have us believe, are beneath the dignity of the soul; and the degree
to which these "earthly things" now absorb the attention of mankind,
they think, argues degeneracy from the good old times of abstract
philosophy and spiritual dogmatism. But what do we better know of
the Infinite Spirit than that he is an infinite mechanic? Whence do
we get worthier or sublimer conceptions of him than from the
machinery with which he works? Are we ourselves less godlike
building mills than sitting in pews?--less in the image of our Maker,
endeavoring to subdue matter than endeavoring to ignore its existence?
Without questioning that the moral nature within us is superior to
the mechanical, we think it quite susceptible of proof that the
moral condition of the world depends on the mechanical, and that it
has advanced and will advance at equal pace with the progress of
machinery. To prove this, or anything else, however, is by no means
the purpose of this article, but only to take the general reader
around a little among mechanical people and ideas, to see what lies

"Papa, what are you going to make?" was doubtless the question of
Tubal-Cain's little boy, when he saw his ingenious father hammering
a red-hot iron, with a stone for a hammer, and another for an anvil.
Little boys have often since asked the same question in blacksmiths'
shops, and we now have shops in which the largest boys may well ask
it. It might be answered in a general way, that the smiths or smiters,
black and white, were and are going to make what our Maker left
unmade in making the human race. The lower animals were all sent
into the world in appropriate, finished, and well-fitting costume,
provided with direct and effective means of subsistence and defence.
The eagle had his imperial plumage, beak, and talons; the elephant
his leathern roundabout and travelling trunk, with its convenient
air-pump; and the beaver, at once a carpenter and a mason, had his
month full of chisels and his tail a trowel. The _bipes implumis_, on
the contrary, was hatched nude, without even the embryo of a
pin-feather. There was nothing for him but the recondite capabilities
of his two talented, but talonless hands, and a large brain almost
without instinct. Nothing was ready-made, only the means of making.
He was brought into the infinite world a finite deity, an
infinitesimal creator,--the first being of that class, to our
knowledge. His most urgent business as a creator was to make tools
for himself, and especially for the purpose of supplying his own
pitiful destitution of feathers. From the aprons of fig-leaves,
stitched hardly so-so, to the last patent sewing-machine, he has
made commendable progress. Without borrowing anything from other
animals, he can now, if he chooses, rival in texture, tint, gloss,
lightness, and expansiveness, the plumage of peacocks and
birds-of-paradise; and it only remains that what can be done shall
be done more extensively,--we do not mean for the individual, but
for the masses. Man has created not only tools, but servants,--
animals all but alive. We may soon say that he has created great
bodies politic and bodies corporate, with heads, hands, feet, claws,
tails, lungs, digestive organs, and perhaps other viscera. What is
remarkable, having at first failed to furnish them with nerves, he
has lately supplied that deficiency,--a token that he will supply
some others.

Let not the reader shrink from our page as irreverent. It shall not
preach the possibility of inventing perpetual motion or a machine
with a soul in it, as was lately and vainly attempted in our good
city of Lynn,--where, however, it may be said, they do succeed in
making soles to what resemble machines. It is not for us to be
either so enthusiastic, impious, or uncharitable as to prophesy that
human ingenuity will ever endow its creations with anything more
than the rudest semblance of that self-directing vitality which
characterizes the most servile of God-created machinery. The human
mechanic must be content, if he can approach as near to the creation
of life as the painter and sculptor have done. The soul of the
man-made horse-power is primarily the horse, and secondarily the
small boy who stands by to "cut him up" occasionally. Maelzel
created excellent chess-players, with the exception of intelligence,
which he was obliged to borrow of the original Creator and conceal
in a closet under the table.

But let us not undervalue ourselves--which would, in fact, be to
undervalue our Creator--for such shortcomings. Though into our iron
horse's skull or cab we have to put one or two living men to supply
its deficiency of understanding, it is nevertheless a recognizable
animal, of a very grand and somewhat novel type. Its respiratory,
digestive, and muscular systems are respectable; and in the nature
and articulation of its organs of motion it is clearly original. The
wheel, typical of eternity, is nowhere to be found among living
organisms, unless we take the brilliant vision of Ezekiel in a
literal sense. The idea of attributing life or spirit to wheels,
organs by their nature detached or discontinuous from the living
creatures of which they were parts, was worthy of a prophet or poet;
but to no such prophetic vision were the first wheelwrights indebted
for their conception of so great an improvement upon animal
locomotion. For if they had not made chariots before Noah's flood,
they certainly had done it before Pharaoh's smaller affair in the
Red Sea. On that occasion, the chariot-wheels of the Egyptians were
taken off; but this does not seem to have produced effects so
decisive as would result from a similar disorganization in Broadway
or Washington Street; for the charioteers still "drave them heavily."
Hence we may infer that the wheels were of rude workmanship, making
the chariots little less liable to the infirmity of friction than
those Western vehicles called mud-boats, used to navigate semi-fluid
regions which pass on the map for _terra firma_.

Yet, notwithstanding the rudeness of the primitive chariot, made of
two or three sticks and two rings cut from a hollow tree, it was the
germ of human inventions, and embosomed the world's destiny. It was
the most original as well as the most godlike of human thoughts. The
ship may have been copied from the nautilus, or from the embarked
squirrel trimming his tail to the breeze; or it may have been
blundered upon by the savage mounted on a drift-log, accidentally
making a sail of his sheepskin cloak while extending his arms to
keep his balance. But the cart cannot be regarded either as a
plagiarism from Nature, or the fruit of accident. The inventor must
have unlocked Nature's private closet with the key of mathematical
principle, and carried off the wheel and axle, the only mechanical
power she had not used in her physical creation, as patent to our
senses. Of course, she meant it should be stolen. She had, it is true,
made a show of punishing her little Prometheus for running off with
her match-box and setting things on fire, but she must have felt
proud of the theft. In well-regulated families children are not
allowed to play with fire, though the passion to do it is looked on
as a favorable mental indication. When the good dame saw that her
infant _chef-d'oeuvre _had got hold of her reserved mechanical
element, the wheel, she foresaw his use of the stolen fire would be
something more than child's play. The cart, whether two-wheeled, or,
as our Hibernian friends will have it, one-wheeled, was an infinite
success, an invention of unlimited capabilities. Yet the inventor
obtained no record. Neither his name nor his model is to be found in
any patent-office.

The tool-making animal, having obtained this marvellous means of
multiplying, or rather treasuring and applying, mechanical force,
went on at least some thousands of years before waking up to its
grand significance. Among the nations that first obtained excellence
in textile fabrics, very little use has ever been made of the wheel.
The spinning-girl of Dacca, who twists, and for ages has twisted, a
pound of cotton into a thread two hundred and fifty miles long,
beating Manchester by ninety miles, has no wheel, unless you so call
a ball of clay, of the size of a pea, stuck fast on one end of her
spindle, by means, of which she twists it between her thumb and
finger. But this wonderful mechanical feat costs her many months of
labor, to say nothing of previous training; while the Manchester
factory-girl, aided by the multiplying power of the wheel, easily
makes as much yarn, though not quite so fine, in a day. If it were
an object to rival the tenuity of the finest India muslin, machinery
could easily accomplish it. But that spider-web fabric is carried so
nearly to transparency, that the Emperor Aurengzebe is said to have
reproved his daughter for the indelicacy of her costume while she
wore seven thicknesses of it. She might have worn twelve hundred
yards without burdening herself with more than a pound weight; what
she did wear did not, probably, weigh two ounces. The Chinese and
Japanese have spinning-wheels hardly equal to those brought over by
our pilgrim fathers in the Mayflower. But they have also, what
Western civilization has not, praying-wheels. In Japan the
praying-wheel is turned by hand; but in China, according to Hue, it
is sometimes carried by water-power, and rises to the dignity of a
mill. The Japanese, however, have mills for hulling rice, turned by
very respectable water-wheels. The Egyptians and Greeks had
water-wheels, and in fact understood all the mechanical powers.
Archimedes, all the world knows, astounded the Romans by mechanical
combinations which showered rocks on the besiegers of Syracuse, and
boasted he could make a projectile of the world itself, if he could
only find a standing-place outside of it.

The present civilization of Europe very properly began with the clock,
a machine which a monk, afterwards Pope Sylvester II, was supposed
to have borrowed from Satan, though he was probably indebted for it
to the Saracens. For nearly nine hundred years after his day, the
best ingenuity of Italian, German, Swiss, French, and English
mechanics was devoted to perfecting this noble creation, and it
became at last a part of the civilized man, a sort of additional or
supplementary sense. The savage may well be excused for mistaking
the watch for a living creature. It could not serve us better, if it
were. True, it does not perform its function by its own force, but by
a stock of extraneous force which is from time to time put into a
little store-house called a spring. Neither does the living creature
perform its functions by any other force than that which is developed
by the chemical action within it, or the _quasi_ combustion of its
food. Its will does but direct the application of its mechanical
power. It creates none. You may weigh the animal and all the food it
is to consume, and thence calculate the utmost ounce of work, of a
given kind, which it can thereafter perform. It may do less, but
cannot do more. Having consumed all of its food and part of itself,
it dies. Its chemical organs have oxydated or burned up all the
combustibles submitted to them, thus developing a definite amount of
heat, a part of which, at the dictation of the will, by the
mechanism of nerves and muscles, has been converted into mechanical
motion. When the chemical function ceases, for the want of materials
to act upon, the development of heat ceases. There is no more either
to be converted into motion or to maintain the temperature of the
body; and self-consumption having already taken the place of
self-repair, there is no article left but the _articulus mortis_.

But of all the force or motion produced by, or rather passing through,
a living animal, or any other organism, none is ever, so far as we
know, annihilated. The motion which has apparently ceased or been
destroyed has in reality passed into heat, light, electricity,
magnetism, or other effect,--itself, perhaps, nothing but motion, to
keep on, in one form or another, indefinitely. The fuel which we put
into the stomach of the horse, of iron or of flesh, first by its
oxydation raises heat, a part of which it is the function of the
individual to convert into motion, to be expended on friction and
resistance, or, in other words, to be reconverted into heat. What
becomes of this heat, then? If the fuel were to be replaced or
deoxydated, the heat that originally came from the oxydation would be
precisely reabsorbed. But this heat of itself cannot overcome the
stronger affinity which now chains the fuel to the oxygen. It must
go forward, not backward, about its business, forever and ever. It
may pass, but not cease. The sharp-eyed Faraday has been following
far away this Proteus, with a strong suspicion that it changes at
last into gravity, in which shape it returns straight to the sun,
carrying down with it, probably, those flinty showers of meteors
which, striking fire in the atmosphere of the prime luminary,
replenish its overflowing fountain of life. But we are not aware
that he has yet discovered the anastomosis of this conversion, or
quite established the fact. We are therefore not yet quite ready to
resolve the universe of physical forces into the similitude of the
mythical mill-stream, which, flowing round a little hill, came back
and fed its own pond. Nevertheless, we believe the physicists have
pretty generally agreed to assume as a law of Nature what they call
the conservation of force, the principle we have been endeavoring to

Under the lead of this law, theory, or assumption, discoveries have
been made that deeply and practically interest the most abject
mortal who anywhere swings a hoe or shoulders a hod, as well as the
lords of the land. For example, it has been ascertained that heat is
converted into motion, or motion into heat, according to a fixed or
constant ratio or equivalent. To be more particular, the heat which
will raise the temperature of a pound of water one degree of
Fahrenheit's scale, when converted into mechanical motion, is
equivalent to the force which a weight of seven hundred and
seventy-two pounds would exert by falling one foot. This is a
wonderfully small quantity of heat to balance so heavy a blow, but
the careful experiments of Mr. Joule of Manchester, the discoverer,
confirmed by Regnault, Thomson, Rankine, Clausius, Mayer, Rennie,
and others, have, we believe, satisfied scientific men that it is
not far from the correct measure. Were the same, or a far less
amount of heat, concentrated on a minute chip of steel struck off by
collision with a flint, it would be visible to the eye as a spark,
and show us how motion is converted into light as well as heat.

It is not our vocation to dive into the infinities, either upward or
downward, in search, on the one hand, of the ultimate atoms of the
rarest ether, by whose vibrations the luminous waves run through
space at the rate of more than ten millions of miles a minute, or,
on the other, of the nebulous systems, worlds in the gristle, so far
off that the light just now arriving from them tells only how they
looked two hundred thousand years ago. All we have to say is, that,
if we do not now absolutely know, we do reasonably suspect, that heat
and light are mere mechanical motions, alike in nature and
interconvertible in fact. The luminiference seems to behave itself,
not like infinitely small bullets projected from Sharpe's rifles of
proportionately small bore, as was once supposed, but rather after
the manner of the sound-waves, which we know travel through the air
from the sonorous body to the ear. They have also a resemblance, not
so close, to the waves which run in all directions along the surface
of a pond of water from the point where a stone falls into it. These
three classes of waves, differing so immensely in magnitude and
velocity, all agree in this,--that it is the wave that travels, and
not the fluid or medium. The rapidity of the luminous wave is about
nine hundred million times that of the sound-wave; hence we may
suppose that the ether in which it moves is about as many times
rarer or lighter than air, and the retina of the eye which it
impresses as many times more delicate and sensitive than the drum of
the ear. It can hardly be unreasonable to suppose that a fluid so
rare as this luminiferous ether will readily interflow the particles
of all other matter, gaseous, liquid, or solid, and that in such
abundance that its vibrations or agitations may be propagated through
them. Yet even the rarest gases must considerably obstruct and
modify the vibratory waves, while liquids and solids, according to
their density and structural arrangement of atoms, must do it far
more. The luminiferous ether, in which all systems are immersed,
kept hereabout in an incessant quiver through its complete and
perhaps three-fold gamut of vibrations by the sun, strikes the aerial
ocean of the earth about an average of five hundred million millions
of blows per second, for each of the seven colors, or luminous notes,
not to speak of the achromatic vibrations, whose effects are other
than vision or visionary. The aerial ocean is such open-work, that
these infinitesimal billows are not much, though somewhat, broken by
it; but when they reach the terraqueous globe itself, they dash into
foam which goes whirling and eddying down into solids and liquids,
among their wild caverns of ultra-microscopic littleness, and this
foam or whirl-storm of ethereal substance is heat, if we are not
much mistaken. According to its intensity, it expands by its own mere
motion all grosser material.

The quantity of this ethereal foam, yeast, whirlwind, hubbub, or
whatever else you please to call it, which is got up or given up by
the combustion of three pounds of good bituminous coal, according to
Mr. Joule's experiments, is more than equivalent to a day's labor
of a powerful horse. With our best stationary steam-engines, at
present, we get a day's horse-power from not less than twenty-four
pounds of coal. At this rate, the whole supply of mineral coal in
the world, as it may be roughly estimated, is equivalent only to the
labor of one thousand millions of horses for fifteen hundred years.
With the average performance of our present engines, it would
support that amount of horse-power for only one thousand years. But
could we obtain the full mechanical duty of the fuel by our engines,
it would be equal to the work of a thousand millions of horses for
sixteen thousand years, or of about fifteen times as many men for
the same time. This would materially postpone the exhaustion of the
coal, at which one so naturally shudders,--to say nothing of the
saving of having to dig but one eighth as much of the mineral to
produce the same effect. Hence some of the interest that attaches to
this discovery of Mr. Joule, which has given a new impulse to the
labor of inventors in pushing the steam-engine towards perfection.

But if the whole available mechanical power, laid in store in the
coal mines, in addition to all the unimproved wind and water power,
should seem to any one insufficient to work out this world's manifest
destiny, the doctrine of the essential unity or conservation of
force is not exhausted of consolation. All the coal of which we have
spoken is but the result of the action of sun-light in past ages,
decomposing carbonic acid in the vegetative process. The combustion
of the carbon reproduces a force exactly equivalent to that of the
sun-light which was absorbed or consumed in its vegetative separation.
Supposing the whole estimated stock of coal in the world to be
consumed at once, it would cover the entire globe with a stratum of
carbonic acid about seventy-two feet deep. And if all the energy of
sun-light which this globe receives or encounters in a year were to
be devoted to its decomposition, according to Pouillet's estimate of
the strength of sunshine,--and he probably knows, if any one does,--
deducting all that would be wasted on rock or water, there would be
enough to complete the task in a year or two. A marvellous growth of
forest, that would be! But the coal is not to be burned up at once.
When we get our steam-engines in motion to the amount of two or
three thousand millions of horse-power, and are running off the coal
at the rate of one tenth of one per cent per annum, the simple and
inevitable consequence will be that the wood will be growing enough
faster to keep good the general stock of fuel. Doubtless the forests
are now limited in their growth and stunted from their ante-Saurian
stature, not so much for want of soil, moisture, or sunshine as for
want of carbonic acid in the air, to be decomposed by the foliage,
the great deposition of coal in the primitive periods having
exhausted the supply. Our present havoc of wood only changes the
locality of wood-lots, and our present consumption of coal, rapid
enough to exhaust the entire supply in about seventy-seven thousand
years, is sure to increase the aggregate cordage of the forests. By
the time we have brought our locomotive steam-cultivators to such
perfection as to plough up and pulverize the great central deserts,
we may see trees flourish where it would have been useless to plant
the seed before we had converted so much of the earth's entrails
into smoke.

There was a time, before we had harnessed the powers of Nature to
found, forge, spin, weave, print, and drudge for us generally, that
in every civilized country the strong-headed men used their
strong-handed brethren as machines. Only he could be very knowing who
owned many scribes, or he very rich who owned many hewers of wood
and drawers of water. With our prodigious development of mechanical
inventions, iron and coal, our mighty steam-driven machinery for
making machines, the time for chattelizing men, or depending mainly
on animal power of any sort for the production of wealth, has passed
by. Abrogate the golden rule, if you will, and establish the creed
of caste,--let the strongest of human races have full license to
enslave the weakest, and let it have the pick of soil and staples,--
still, if you do not abolish the ground rules of arithmetic, and the
fact that a pound of carbon costs less than a pound of corn, and must
cost less for at least a thousand years to come, chattelism of man
will cease in another generation, and the next century will not dawn
on a human slave. At present, a pound of carbon does not cost so
much as a pound of corn in any part of the United States, and in no
place visited by steam-transportation does it cost one fifth as much.
We are already able to get as much work out of a pound of carbon as
can be got from a pound of corn fed to the faithfullest slave in the
world. Mr. Joule has shown us that there is really in a pound of
carbon more than twice as much work as there is in a pound of corn.
The human corn-consuming machine comes nearer getting the whole
mechanical duty or equivalent out of his fuel than our present
steam-engine does, but the former is all he ever will be, while the
latter is an infant and growing.

We shall doubtless soon see engines that will get the work of two
slaves out of the coal that just balances one slave's food in the
scales. Our iron-boned, coal-eating slave, with the advantage of
that peculiar and almost infinitely applicable mechanical element,
the wheel, may be made to go anywhere and do any sort of work, and,
as we have seen, he will do it for one tenth of the cost of any
brute or human slave.

But will not our artificial slave be more liable to insurrection?
Everybody admits that he already accomplishes incalculable drudgery
in the huge mill, on the ocean, and on the iron highway. But almost
everybody looks upon him as a sleeping volcano, which must sooner or
later flare up into irresistible wrath and do frightful mischief.
Underwriters shake their prudent heads at him. Coroners' inquests,
sitting solemnly over his frequent desolations, find only that some
of his ways are past finding out. Can such a creature be
domesticated so as to serve profitably and comfortably on by-roads
as well as high-roads, on farms, in gardens, in kitchens, in mines,
in private workshops, in all sorts of places where steady,
uncomplaining toil is wanted? Can we ever trust him as we trust
ourselves, or our humble friends, the horse and the ox? The law of
the conservation of force, now so nearly developed, will perhaps
throw some light on this inquiry.

Boiler explosions have a sort of family resemblance to the freaks of
lightning or the thunderbolt. Indeed, so striking is the similarity,
that people have been prone to think, that, previously to an
explosion, the steam in the boiler must have become in some
inexplicable way charged with electricity like a thunder-cloud, and
that the discharge must have occasioned the catastrophe. It is
needless to say to those who understand a Leyden jar, that nothing
of the sort takes place. The friction of the watery globules, carried
along by the steam in blowing off, is found to disturb the
electrical equilibrium, as any other friction does; but the
circumstances in the case of a boiler are always so favorable to its
restoration, that an electrical thunderbolt cannot possibly be
raised there that would damage a gnat. Yet a boiler explosion may,
after all, depend on the same immediate cause as the mechanical
effect which is frequently noticed after an electrical discharge in a
thunder-storm. Let us hypothetically analyze what takes place in a
thunder-storm. For the sake of illustration, and nothing more, we
will suppose the existence, throughout all otherwise void space, of
three interflowing ethers, the atoms of each of which are, in regard
to each other, repellant, negative, or the reverse of ponderable,
and that these ethers differ in a series by vast intervals as to
size and distance of atoms, that each neither repels nor attracts
the other, that only the rarest is everywhere, and that the denser
ones, while self-repellant, have affinities, more or less, which
draw them from the interplanetary spaces towards the ponderable
masses. Let the rarest of these ethers be that whose vibrations
cause the phenomena of light,--the next denser that which, either by
vibration or translatory motion, causes the electrical phenomena,--
and the most dense of the three that which by its motions, of
whatever sort, causes the phenomena of heat. The solar impulse
propagated through the luminiferous ether towards any mass encounters
in its neighborhood the electrical and calorific ethers, and sets
them into motions which may be communicated from one to the other,
but which are communicated to ponderable matter, or result in
mechanical action, only or chiefly by the impulse of the denser or
calorific ether. When the sun shines on land and water, as we have
already said, there is a violent ethereal commotion in the
interstices of the superficial matter, which we will now suppose to
be that of the calorific ether; and by virtue of this motion,
together with whatever affinities this ether may be supposed to have
for ponderable matter, we may account for evaporation, and the
production of those vast aerial currents by which the evaporated
water is diffused. In the production of aerial currents, heat is
converted into force, and hence vapor is converted into watery
globules mechanically suspended on clouds, which, by their friction,
sweep the electrical ether into excessive condensation in the great
Leyden-jar arrangement of the sky. Whatever it may be that gives
relief to this condensation, the relief itself consists in motion,
either translatory or vibratory, of the electrical ether or ethers.
As this motion, if it be such, often takes place through gases,
liquids, and solids, without any sensible mechanical effect, and at
other times is contemporary with phenomena of intense heat, we may,
till otherwise informed, suppose, that, whenever it produces a
mechanical effect, it is by so impinging on the calorific ether as
to produce the motion of heat, which is instantly thereafter
converted into mechanical force. It is not so much the greatness of
the amount of this mechanical force which gives it its peculiar
destructiveness, as the inequality of its strain; not so much the
quantity of matter projected, as the velocity of the blow. One may
have his brains blown out by a bullet of air as well as one of lead,
if the air only blows hard enough and to one point. Whatever its
material, the edge of the thunder-axe is almost infinitely sharp,
and its blow is as destructive as it is timeless. But it is always
heat, not electrical discharge, which only sometimes causes heat,
that strikes the blow.

Now in the case of a steam-boiler, when the water, having been
reduced too low, is allowed suddenly to foam up on the overheated
crown-sheet of the furnace, there must be just that sudden or
instantaneous conversion of heat into force which may take place
when the current of the electrical discharge passes through the
gnarled fibres of an oak. The boiler and the oak are blown to shivers
in equally quick time. The only difference seems to be, that in one
case electricity stood immediately, in point of time, behind the heat,
and in the other it stood away back beyond the crocodiles, playing
its _role_ more genially in the growth of the monster forests whose
remains we are now digging from the bowels of the earth as coal. In
the normal action of a steam-boiler, the steam-generating surfaces
being all under water, however unequally the fire may act in
different localities, the water, by its rapid circulation, if not by
its heat-absorbing power, diffuses the heat and constantly equalizes
the strain resulting from its conversion into mechanical force. The
increase of pressure takes place gradually and evenly, and may
easily be kept far within safe limits. It is quite otherwise when
the conductivity of the boiler-plate is not aided and controlled by
the distributiveness of the water, as it is not whenever the plate
is in contact with the fire on one side without being also in contact
with the water on the other. Everybody knows that boilers explode
under such circumstances, but everybody does not know why.

A cylinder of plate-iron will withstand a gradually applied, evenly
distributed, and constant pressure, one thousandth part of which,
acting at one spot, as a blow, would rend its way through, or
establish a crack. This slight rent, giving partial relief to the
sudden but comparatively small force that causes it, would be
nothing very serious in itself,--no more so than a rent produced by
the hydraulic press,--if the whole force, equal, perhaps, to that of
a thousand wild horses imprisoned within, did not take instant
advantage of it to enlarge the breach and blow the whole structure
to fragments, or, in other words, if it did not permit nearly the
whole of the accumulated heat in the boiler to be at once converted
into mechanical motion. For example, a boiler whose ordinary working
pressure is one hundred pounds to the square inch, which may give an
aggregate on the whole surface of five millions of pounds, would not
give way, perhaps, if that pressure were gradually and evenly
increased to thirty millions. But if the water is allowed to get so
low that some part of the plate exposed to the fire is no longer
covered with it, that part will directly become far hotter than the
water or the mass of the steam,-dry steam having no more power to
carry away the excess of heat than so much air. After that, when the
water rises again, the first wave or wallop that strikes the
overheated plate absorbs the excess of heat, and its conversion into
steam of higher pressure than that already existing is so sudden
that it may be regarded as instantaneous. It is to be remembered
that for every pound of water raised one degree, or heat to that
amount absorbed in generating steam, a force of seven hundred and
seventy-two pounds is created. In this case a new or additional
force is created, which, acting in all directions from one point,
first takes effect on the line which joins that point with the
nearest opposite point in the wall of the boiler. If it is not like
smiting with the edge of a ponderous battle-axe, it is at least as
dangerous as a cannon ball shot along that line. If the local heat
so suddenly absorbed be but enough to raise ten pounds of water ten
degrees, it is equivalent to the force acquired by seventy-seven
thousand two hundred pounds falling through a foot, or of a
cannon-ball of one hundred pounds flying at the rate of more than a
mile per second. If by any miracle the boiler should stand this
shock or series of shocks, the pressure becomes equalized, and the
overheated plate having parted with its excess of heat, safety is
restored. But if cohesion is anywhere overcome by the sudden blow,
the wild horses stampede in all directions. The boiler, minus the
water and boiler-head perhaps, goes through ceiling, roof, and brick
walls, as if they were cobwebs, and, surrounded with fragments of
men and things, is seen descending like a comet through the
neighboring air.

To get rid of this liability to have a Thor-hammer or thunderbolt
generated in the stomach of a steam-engine, at any moment when the
vigilance of the engineer happens to be at fault, something is going
to be done. No safety-valve or fusible plug is adequate. The boiler
cannot be all safety-valve. The trouble is, the hammer is not more
likely to strike the first of its terrible series of blows on the
valve than anywhere else. A safety-valve, in good order, is a
sovereign precaution against the excess of an equally distributed
strain, but it is not an adequate protection against a shock or
unequal strain. The old-fashioned gaugecocks, which are by no means
to be dispensed with, reveal the state of the water in the boiler to
the watchful engineer about as surely as the stethoscope reveals to
the doctor the condition of his patient's lungs. A surer and more
convenient indication is the tubular glass gauge, on the fountain
principle, which in its best form is both trustworthy and durable.
No well-informed proprietor suffers his boiler to be without one;
but it is not a cure for carelessness. It is only a window for the
vigilant eye to look through, not the eye itself. Steam-boilers will
have to be constructed so that when the subsidence of the water
fails to check itself by enlarging the supply, it shall, before the
point of danger is reached, infallibly check the combustion, let off
the steam, and blow a whistle or ring a bell, which the proprietor
may, if he pleases, regard as the official death-knell of the
careless engineer. Human vigilance must not be superseded, but
fortified,--as in the case of the watchman watched by the tell-tale
clock. The steam-creature must be so constituted as to refuse to
work itself down to the zone where alone unequal strains are possible;
it must cry out in horror and strike work. Mechanically the solution
of the problem is easy, and the enhancement in cost of construction
will be nothing, compared to the risk of loss from these explosions.
With this guard against the deficiency of water, steam-power will
become the safest, as it is the most manageable, of all forces that
have hitherto been subsidized by the civilized man.

But there is one more improvement worth mentioning. We do great
injustice to our steam-slaves by the slovenly and unphilosophical
way in which we feed them. We take no hints from animal economy or
the laws of dietetics.

Our creature has no regular meals, especially if he is one of the
fast kind; but a grimy nurse stands by, and, opening his mouth every
few minutes, crams in a few spoonfuls of the black pudding. The
natural consequence is more or less indigestion and inequality of
strength. We have not yet taken full advantage of the laws of
combustion, or adapted our apparatus to the peculiarities of the
best and cheapest fuel. Nature manages more wisely in her machinery.
Combustion, the union of fuel with oxygen, ceases for want of air as
well as for want of fuel. In the case of fuels compounded of carbon
and hydrogen, if the air be withheld when the mass is in rapid
combustion, the heat will cause a portion of the fuel to pass off by
distillation, unconsumed, and this portion will be lost. But from
the best anthracite, which is nearly pure carbon concentrated, if
oxygen be entirely excluded, not much can distil away with any
degree of heat. The combustion of this fuel, therefore, admits of
very easy and economical regulation, by simply regulating the supply
of air. When the air is admitted at all, it should be admitted above
as well as below the fuel, so that the carbonic oxyde that is
generated in the mass may be burned, or converted into carbonic acid,
over the top. Why, then, should not the iron horse, before leaving
his stable, take a meal of anthracite sufficient to last him fifty
or one hundred miles? Let him swallow a ton at once, if he need it.
Before starting, let the temperature of the mass in the furnace be
got up to the point where the combustion will go on with sufficient
rapidity for the required speed by simply supplying air, which
should also be fed as hot as possible. This done, the engineer
throughout the trip will have perfect control of his force by means
of the steam-blast and air-openings. There will be no smoke nuisance,
the combustion, being complete so far as it takes place at all.
There will be no need of loading the furnace with firebrick to
equalize the heat,--the mass of incandescent fuel serving that
purpose; and no waste or inequality will occur from opening the door
to throw in a cold collation.

What are we going to make? First, we are going to finish up, and
carry out into all desirable species, our great idea of an iron slave,
the illustrious Man Friday of our modern civilization. Whether we
put water, air, or ether into his aorta, as the medium of converting
heat into force, we shall at last have a safe subject, available for
all sorts of drudgery, that will do the work of a man without eating
more than half as much weight of coal as a man eats of bread and meat.
Next, carrying into all departments of human industry, in its
perfect development, this new creature, which has already, as a mere
infant, made so stupendous a change in some of them, we shall make
the human millions all masters, from being nearly all slaves. We
shall make both idleness and poverty nearly impossible. Human labor,
as a general thing, is a positive pleasure only when the hand and
brain work in concert. Hence, the more you increase well-devised and
efficient machinery, which requires and rewards intelligent
oversight and skilful direction, the more you increase the love of
labor. We have already manufacturing communities so well supplied
with tasks for brains and hands, that everybody works, or would do
so but for Circe and her seductive hollow-ware. We are beginning to
push machinery into agriculture, where it will have still greater
scope. With the means we now have, in the enormously increased
production of iron, our almost omnipresent and omnipotent
machine-shops, our railroads leading everywhere, another century, or
perhaps half of it, will see every arable rood of the earth and
every rood that can be made arable, ploughed, sowed, and the crops
harvested by iron horses, iron oxen, or iron men, under the free and
intelligent supervision of people who know how to feed, drive, doctor,
and make the most of them.

One island, which would hardly be missed from the map of the world,
so small that its rivers all fall into the sea mere brooks, with not
more than one-thirteenth as much coal as we have in the United States,
and perhaps not one-hundredth as much iron ore, by the use of
steam-driven machinery produces as much iron and perhaps weaves as
much cloth yearly as all the rest of the world. If it does not the
latter, it would do it, if it could find enough of the raw material
and paying customers. But agriculture, which supplies the raw
material, though it is the first and most universal form of human
labor, lags behind the world's present manufacturing power. One cause
of the late, and perhaps of the previous commercial revulsion, was
this disproportion. The more rapid enlargement of manufacturing
industry, multiplied in power by its machinery, caused the raw
material to rise in price and the manufactured article to fall, till
the operations could not be supported from the profits at the same
time that contracts were fulfilled with capitalists. Manufactures
must pause till agriculture overtakes. Steam-machinery applied to
agriculture is the only thing that can correct this disproportion,
and this is what we are going to make. The world is not to be much
longer dependent for its cotton on the compulsory labor of the Dark
Ages, nor for its flax and corn on blistered free hands or
overworked cattle. The laborer, in either section of our country,
will be transformed into an ingenious gentleman or lady, comfortably
mounted on a migratory steam-cultivator to direct its gigantic
energies,--or, at least, occasionally so occupied. Under this system,
it must be plain enough, to all persons prophetically inclined, that
the Northern valleys will greatly multiply their products, while the
Southern cotton-fields will whiten with heavier crops than human
chattelism ever produced, and the mountains of both latitudes, now
hardly notched with civilization, will roll down the wool of sheep
in clouds.

Finally, with important and fruitful mechanical ideas which the
world did not have twenty years ago, with machinery which no one
could have believed possible one hundred years ago, and which has,
since that time, quintupled the power of every free laborer in
Christendom, we are going to make man what his Creator designed him
to be,--always and everywhere a sub-creator. By the press we are
making the knowledge of the past the knowledge of the present, the
knowledge of one the knowledge of all. By the telegraph the senses
of sight and hearing are to be extended around the globe. If we do
not make ships to navigate the air, for ourselves, our wives, and
our little ones, it will not be because we cannot, but because, being
lords of land and sea, with power to traverse either with all
desirable speed, we are too wise to waste force either in beating
the air for buoyancy, battling with gravity like birds, on the one
hand, or in paddling huge balloons against the wind, on the other.
The steam-driven wheel leaves us no occasion to envy even that
ubiquitous denizen of the universe, the flying-fish. We have in it
the most economical means of self-transportation, as well as of
mechanical production. It only remains to make the most of it. This,
to be sure, will not be achieved without infinite labor and
innumerable failures. The mechanical genius of the race is like the
polypus anxiously stretching its tentacles in every direction, and
though frustrated thousands of times, it grasps something at last.

One of the most significant structures in the world, by the way, is
the United States Patent Office at Washington. No other building in
that novel city means a hundredth part as much, or shows so clearly
what the world's most cunning thoughts and hands are chiefly engaged
with. Not that the Patent Office contains so many miracles of
mechanical success; rather the contrary. Take a just appraisal of
its treasures, and you will regard it rather as the chief tomb in the
Pere la Chaise of human hopes. What multitudes of long-nursed and
dearly-cherished inventions there repose in a common grave, useful
only as warnings to future inventors! One great moral of the survey
is, that inventive talent is shamefully wasted among us, for want of
proper scientific direction and suitable encouragement. The mind
that comprehends general principles in all their relations, and sees
what needs to be done and what is possible and profitable to be done,
is of necessity not the one to arrange in detail the means of doing.
The man of science and the mechanical inventor are distinct persons,
speaking of either in his best estate; and the maximum success of
machinery depends on their acting together with a better
understanding than they have hitherto had. It were less difficult
than invidious to point to living examples of the want of
cooperation and co-appreciation between our knowing and our doing men;
but, for the sake of illustrating our idea, we will run the risk of
quoting a minute from the proceedings of one of our scientific
societies, premising that we know nothing more of the parties than
we learn from the minute itself,--to wit, that one is, or was, an
ingenious mechanic, and the other a promoter of science.

"Dr. Patterson gave an account of an automaton speaking-machine
which Mr. Franklin Peale and himself had recently inspected. The
machine was made to resemble as nearly as possible, in every respect,
the human vocal organs; and was susceptible of varied movements by
means of keys. Dr. Patterson was much struck by the distinctness with
which the figure could enunciate various letters and words. The
difficult combination _three_ was well pronounced,--the _th_ less
perfectly, but astonishingly well. It also enumerated diphthongs,
and numerous difficult combinations of sounds. Sixteen keys were
sufficient to produce all the sounds. In enunciating the simple
sounds, the movements of the mouth could be seen. The parts were
made of gum elastic. The figure was made to say, with a peculiar
intonation, but surprising distinctness, 'Mr. Patterson, I am glad to
see you.' It sang, 'God save Victoria,' and 'Hail Columbia,'--the
words and air combined. Dr. Patterson had determined to visit the
maker of the machine, Mr. Faber, in private, in order to obtain
further interesting information; but, on the following day, Dr. P.
was distressed to learn, that, in a fit of excitement, he had
destroyed every particle of a figure which had taken him seventeen
years to construct."

It is quite probable that the world lost very little by the
destruction of this curious figure, whatever the nature or cause of
the "excitement" that led to it. All we have to say is, that it does
lose much, when the genius that can create such things is not set
upon the right tasks, and encouraged to success by the "high
consideration" of scientific men, who alone of all the world can
appreciate the difficulties it has to contend with. It is by setting
the right mechanical problems before the men who can make dumb matter
talk, that we are to bring about the resurrection of the black Titan
who has lain buried under the mountains for thousands of millenniums,
and constitute him the efficient sub-gardener of the world's Paradise

* * * * *


We who by shipwreck only find the shores
Of divine wisdom can but kneel at first,
Can but exult to feel beneath our feet,
That long stretched vainly down the yielding deeps,
The shock and sustenance of solid earth:
Inland afar we see what temples gleam
Through immemorial stems of sacred groves,
And we conjecture shining shapes therein;
Yet for a space 'tis good to wonder here
Among the shells and seaweed of the beach.



[Spring has come. You will find some verses to that effect at the
end of these notes. If you are an impatient reader, skip to them at
once. In reading aloud, omit, if you please, the sixth and seventh
verses. These are parenthetical and digressive, and, unless your
audience is of superior intelligence, will confuse them. Many people
can ride on horse-back who find it hard to get on and to get off
without assistance. One has to dismount from an idea, and get into
the saddle again, at every parenthesis.]

----The old gentleman who sits opposite, finding that spring had
fairly come, mounted a white hat one day, and walked into the street.
It seems to have been a premature or otherwise exceptionable
exhibition, not unlike that commemorated by the late Mr. Bayley.
When the old gentleman came home, he looked very red in the face,
and complained that he had been "made sport of." By sympathizing
questions, I learned from him that a boy had called him "old daddy,"
and asked him when he had his hat whitewashed.

This incident led me to make some observations at table the next
morning, which I here repeat for the benefit of the readers of this

----The hat is the vulnerable point of the artificial integument. I
learned this in early boyhood. I was once equipped in a hat of
Leghorn straw, having a brim of much wider dimensions than were
usual at that time, and sent to school in that portion of my native
town which lies nearest to this metropolis. On my way I was met by a
"Port-chuck," as we used to call the young gentlemen of that locality,
and the following dialogue ensued.

_The Port-chuck_. Hullo, You-sir, did you know there was g-on-to
be a race to-morrah?

_Myself_. No. Who's g-on-to run, 'n'wher's't g-on-to be?

_The Port-chuck_. Squire Mico and Doctor Williams, round the brim
o' your hat.

These two much-respected gentlemen being the oldest inhabitants at
that time, and the alleged race-course being out of the question,
the Port-chuck also winking and thrusting his tongue into his cheek,
I perceived that I had been trifled with, and the effect has been to
make me sensitive and observant respecting this article of dress
ever since. Here is an axiom or two relating to it.

A hat which has been _popped_, or exploded by being sat down upon,
is never itself again afterwards.

It is a favorite illusion of sanguine natures to believe the contrary.

Shabby gentility has nothing so characteristic as its hat. There is
always an unnatural calmness about its nap, and an unwholesome gloss,
suggestive of a wet brush.

The last effort of decayed fortune is expended in smoothing
its dilapidated castor. The hat is the _ultimum moriens_ of

----The old gentleman took all these remarks and maxims very
pleasantly, saying, however, that he had forgotten most of his French,
except the word for potatoes,--_pummies de tare_.--_Ultimum moriens_,
I told him, is old Italian, and signifies _last thing to die_. With
this explanation he was well contented, and looked quite calm when I
saw him afterwards in the entry with a black hat on his head and the
white one in his hand.

----I think myself fortunate in having the Poet and the Professor
for my intimates. We are so much together, that we no doubt think
and talk a good deal alike; yet our points of view are in many
respects individual and peculiar. You know me well enough by this
time. I have not talked with you so long for nothing, and therefore
I don't think it necessary to draw my own portrait. But let me say a
word or two about my friends.

The Professor considers himself, and I consider him, a very useful
and worthy kind of drudge. I think he has a pride in his small
technicalities. I know that he has a great idea of fidelity; and
though I suspect he laughs a little inwardly at times at the grand
airs "Science" puts on, as she stands marking time, but not getting
on, while the trumpets are blowing and the big drums beating,--yet I
am sure he has a liking for his specialty, and a respect for its

But I'll tell you what the Professor said to the Poet the other day.--
My boy, said he, I can work a great deal cheaper than you, because I
keep all my goods in the lower story. You have to hoist yours into
the upper chambers of the brain, and let them down again to your
customers. I take mine in at the level of the ground, and send them
off from my doorstep almost without lifting. I tell you, the higher
a man has to carry the raw material of thought before he works it up,
the more it costs him in blood, nerve, and muscle. Coleridge knew
all this very well when he advised every literary man to have a

----Sometimes I like to talk with one of them, and sometimes with
the other. After a while I get tired of both. When a fit of
intellectual disgust comes over me, I will tell you what I have
found admirable as a diversion, in addition to boating and other
amusements which I have spoken of,--that is, working at my
carpenter's-bench. Some mechanical employment is the greatest
possible relief, after the purely intellectual faculties begin to
tire. When I was quarantined once at Marseilles, I got to work
immediately at carving a wooden wonder of loose rings on a stick,
and got so interested in it, that, when we were set loose, I
"regained my freedom with a sigh," because my toy was unfinished.

There are long seasons when I talk only with the Professor, and
others when I give myself wholly up to the Poet. Now that my
winter's work is over, and spring is with us, I feel naturally drawn
to the Poet's company. I don't know anybody more alive to life than
he is. The passion of poetry seizes on him every spring, he says,--
yet oftentimes he complains, that, when he feels most, he can sing

Then a fit of despondency comes over him.--I feel ashamed, sometimes,--
said he, the other day,--to think how far my worst songs fall below
my best. It sometimes seems to me, as I know it does to others who
have told me so, that they ought to be _all best_,--if not in actual
execution, at least in plan and motive. I am grateful--he continued--
for all such criticisms. A man is always pleased to have his most
serious efforts praised, and the highest aspect of his nature get the
most sunshine.

Yet I am sure, that, in the nature of things, many minds must change
their key now and then, on penalty of getting out of tune or losing
their voices. You know, I suppose,--he said,--what is meant by
complementary colors? You know the effect, too, that the prolonged
impression of any one color has on the retina. If you close your
eyes after looking steadily at a _red_ object, you see a _green_

It is so with many minds,--I will not say with all. After looking at
one aspect of external nature, or of any form of beauty or truth,
when they turn away, the _complementary_ aspect of the same object
stamps itself irresistibly and automatically upon the mind. Shall
they give expression to this secondary mental state, or not?

When I contemplate--said my friend, the Poet--the infinite largeness
of comprehension belonging to the Central Intelligence, how remote
the creative conception is from all scholastic and ethical formulae,
I am led to think that a healthy mind ought to change its mood from
time to time, and come down from its noblest condition,--never, of
course, to degrade itself by dwelling upon what is itself debasing,
but to let its lower faculties have a chance to air and exercise
themselves. After the first and second floor have been out in the
bright street dressed in all their splendors, shall not our humble
friends in the basement have their holiday, and the cotton velvet
and the thin-skinned jewelry--simple adornments, but befitting the
station of those who wear them--show themselves to the crowd, who
think them beautiful, as they ought to, though the people up stairs
know that they are cheap and perishable?

----I don't know that I may not bring the Poet here, some day or
other, and let him speak for himself. Still I think I can tell you
what he says quite as well as he could do it.--Oh,--he said to me,
one day,--I am but a hand-organ man,--say rather, a hand-organ. Life
turns the winch, and fancy or accident pulls out the stops. I come
under your windows, some fine spring morning, and play you one of my
_adagio_ movements, and some of you say,--This is good,--play us so
always. But, dear friends, if I did not change the stop sometimes,
the machine would wear out in one part and rust in another. How
easily this or that tune flows!--you say,--there must be no end of
just such melodies in him,--I will open the poor machine for you one
moment, and you shall look.--Ah! Every note marks where a spur of
steel has been driven in. It is easy to grind out the song, but to
plant these bristling points which make it was the painful task of

I don't like to say it,--he continued,--but poets commonly have no
larger stock of tunes than hand-organs; and when you hear them
piping up under your window, you know pretty well what to expect.
The more stops, the better. Do let them all be pulled out in their

So spoke my friend, the Poet, and read me one of his stateliest songs,
and after it a gay _chanson_, and then a string of epigrams. All true,--
he said,--all flowers of his soul; only one with the corolla spread,
and another with its disk half opened, and the third with the
heart-leaves covered up and only a petal or two showing its tip
through the calyx. The water-lily is the type of the poet's soul,--
he told me.

----What do you think, Sir,--said the divinity-student,--opens the
souls of poets most fully?

Why, there must be the internal force and the external stimulus.
Neither is enough by itself. A rose will not flower in the dark, and
a fern will not flower anywhere.

What do I think is the true sunshine that opens the poet's corolla?--
I don't like to say. They spoil a good many, I am afraid; or at
least they shine on a good many that never come to anything.

Who are _they_?--said the schoolmistress.

Women. Their love first inspires the poet, and their praise is his
best reward.

The schoolmistress reddened a little, but looked pleased.--Did I
really think so?--I do think so; I never feel safe until I have
pleased them; I don't think they are the first to see one's defects,
but they are the first to catch the color and fragrance of a true
poem. Fit the same intellect to a man and it is a bow-string,--to a
woman and it is a harp-string. She is vibratile and resonant all over,
so she stirs with slighter musical tremblings of the air about her.--
Ah, me!--said my friend, the Poet, to me, the other day,--what color
would it not have given to my thoughts, and what thrice-washed
whiteness to my words, had I been fed on women's praises! I should
have grown like Marvell's fawn,--

"Lilies without; roses within!"

But then,--he added,--we all think, _if_ so and so, we should have
been this or that, as you were saying, the other day, in those
rhymes of yours.

----I don't think there are many poets in the sense of creators; but
of those sensitive natures which reflect themselves naturally in
soft and melodious words, pleading for sympathy with their joys
sorrows, every literature is full. Nature carves with her own hands
the brain which holds the creative imagination, but she casts the
over-sensitive creatures in scores from the same mould.

There are two kinds of poets, just as there are two kinds of blondes.
[Movement of curiosity among our ladies at table.--Please to tell us
about those blondes, said the schoolmistress.] Why, there are
blondes who are such simply by deficiency of coloring matter,--
_negative_ or _washed_ blondes, arrested by Nature on the way to
become albinesses. There are others that are shot through with
golden light, with tawny or fulvous tinges in various degree,--
_positive_ or _stained_ blondes, dipped in yellow sunbeams, and as
unlike in their mode of being to the others as an orange is unlike a
snowball. The albino-style carries with it a wide pupil and a
sensitive retina. The other, or the leonine blonde, has an opaline
fire in her clear eye, which the brunette can hardly match with her
quick, glittering glances.

Just so we have the great sun-kindled, constructive imaginations,
and a far more numerous class of poets who have a certain kind of
moonlight genius given them to compensate for their imperfection of
nature. Their want of mental coloring-matter makes them sensitive to
those impressions which stronger minds neglect or never feel at all.
Many of them die young, and all of them are tinged with melancholy.
There is no more beautiful illustration of the principle of
compensation which marks the Divine benevolence than the fact that
some of the holiest lives and some of the sweetest songs are the
growth of the infirmity which unfits its subject for the rougher
duties of life. When one reads the life of Cowper, or of Keats, or
of Lucretia and Margaret Davidson,--of so many gentle, sweet natures,
born to weakness, and mostly dying before their time,--one cannot
help thinking that the human race dies out singing, like the swan in
the old story. The French poet, Gilbert, who died at the Hotel Dieu,
at the age of twenty-nine,--(killed by a key in his throat, which he
had swallowed when delirious in consequence of a fall,)--this poor
fellow was a very good example of the poet by excess of sensibility.
I found, the other day, that some of my literary friends had never
heard of him, though I suppose few educated Frenchmen do not know
the lines which he wrote, a week before his death, upon a mean bed
in the great hospital of Paris.

"Au banquet de la vie, infortune convive,
J'apparus un jour, et je meurs;
Je meurs, et sur ma tombe, ou lentement j'arrive,
Nul ne viendra verser des pleurs."

At life's gay banquet placed, a poor unhappy guest,
One day I pass, then disappear;
I die, and on the tomb where I at length shall rest
No friend shall come to shed a tear.

You remember the same thing in other words somewhere in Kirke
White's poems. It is the burden of the plaintive songs of all these
sweet albino-poets. "I shall die and be forgotten, and the world
will go on just as if I had never been;--and yet how I have loved!
how I have longed! how I have aspired!" And so singing, their eyes
grow brighter and brighter, and their features thinner and thinner,
until at last the veil of flesh is threadbare, and, still singing,
they drop it and pass onward.

----Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The Angel of Life winds them
up once for all, then closes the case, and gives the key into the
hand of the Angel of the Resurrection.

Tic-tac! tic-tac! go the wheels of thought; our will cannot stop them;
they cannot stop themselves; sleep cannot still them; madness only
makes them go faster; death alone can break into the case, and,
seizing the ever-swinging pendulum, which we call the heart, silence
at last the clicking of the terrible escapement we have carried so
long beneath our wrinkled foreheads.

If we could only get at them, as we lie on our pillows and count the
dead beats of thought after thought and image after image jarring
through the overtired organ! Will nobody block those wheels,
uncouple that pinion, cut the string that holds those weights, blow
up the infernal machine with gunpowder? What a passion comes over us
sometimes for silence and rest!--that this dreadful mechanism,
unwinding the endless tapestry of time, embroidered with spectral
figures of life and death, could have but one brief holiday! Who can
wonder that men swing themselves off from beams in hempen lassos?--
that they jump off from parapets into the swift and gurgling waters
beneath?--that they take counsel of the grim friend who has but to
utter his one peremptory monosyllable and the restless machine is
shivered as a vase that is dashed upon a marble floor? Under that
building which we pass every day there are strong dungeons, where
neither hook, nor bar, nor bed-cord, nor drinking-vessel from which
a sharp fragment may be shattered, shall by any chance be seen.
There is nothing for it, when the brain is on fire with the whirling
of its wheels, but to spring against the stone wall and silence them
with one crash. Ah, they remembered that, the kind city fathers,--
and the walls are nicely padded, so that one can take such exercise
as he likes without damaging himself on the very plain and
serviceable upholstery. If anybody would only contrive some kind of
a lever that one could thrust in among the works of this horrid
automaton and check them, or alter their rate of going, what would
the world give for the discovery?

----From half a dime to a dime, according to the style of the place
and the quality of the liquor,--said the young fellow whom they call

You speak trivially, but not unwisely,--I said. Unless the will
maintain a certain control over these movements, which it cannot stop,
but can to some extent regulate, men are very apt to try to get at
the machine by some indirect system of leverage or other. They clap
on the breaks by means of opium; they change the maddening monotony
of the rhythm by means of fermented liquors. It is because the brain
is locked up and we cannot touch its movement directly, that we
thrust these coarse tools in through any crevice by which they may
reach the interior, and so alter its rate of going for a while, and
at last spoil the machine.

Men who exercise chiefly those faculties of the mind which work
independently of the will,--poets and artists, for instance, who
follow their imagination in their creative moments, instead of
keeping it in hand as your logicians and practical men do with their
reasoning faculty,--such men are too apt to call in the mechanical
appliances to help them govern their intellects.

----He means they get drunk,--said the young fellow already alluded
to by name.

Do you think men of true genius are apt to indulge in the use of
inebriating fluids?--said the divinity-student.

If you think you are strong enough to bear what I am going to say,--
I replied,--I will talk to you about this. But mind, now, these are
the things that some foolish people call _dangerous_ subjects,--as if
these vices which burrow into people's souls, as the Guinea-worm
burrows into the naked feet of West-Indian slaves, would be more
mischievous when seen than out of sight. Now the true way to deal
with these obstinate animals, which are a dozen feet long, some of
them, and no bigger than a horse-hair, is to get a piece of silk
round their _heads_, and pull them out very cautiously. If you only
break them off, they grow worse than ever, and sometimes kill the
person that has the misfortune of harboring one of them. Whence it
is plain that the first thing to do is to find out where the head

Just so of all the vices, and particularly of this vice of
intemperance. What is the head of it, and where does it lie? For you
may depend upon it, there is not one of these vices that has not a
head of its own,--an intelligence,--a meaning,--a certain virtue, I
was going to say,--but that might, perhaps, sound paradoxical. I
have heard an immense number of moral physicians lay down the
treatment of moral Guinea-worms, and the vast majority of them would
always insist that the creature had no head at all, but was all body
and tail. So I have found a very common result of their method to be
that the string slipped, or that a piece only of the creature was
broken off, and the worm soon grew again, as bad as ever. The truth
is, if the Devil could only appear in church by attorney, and make
the best statement that the facts would bear him out in doing on
behalf of his special virtues, (what we commonly call vices,) the
influence of good teachers would be much greater than it is. For the
arguments by which the Devil prevails are precisely the ones that
the Devil-queller most rarely answers. The way to argue down a vice
is not to tell lies about it,--to say that it has no attractions,
when everybody knows that it has,--but rather to let it make out its
case just as it certainly will in the moment of temptation, and then
meet it with the weapons furnished by the Divine armory. Ithuriel
did not spit the toad on his spear, you remember, but touched him
with it, and the blasted angel took the sad glories of his true shape.
If he had shown fight then, the fair spirits would have known how to
deal with him.

That all spasmodic cerebral action is an evil is not perfectly clear.
Men get fairly intoxicated with music, with poetry, with religious
excitement,--oftenest with love. Ninon de l'Enclos said she was so
easily excited that her soup intoxicated her, and convalescents have
been made tipsy by a beef-steak.

There are forms and stages of alcoholic exaltation, which, in
themselves, and without regard to their consequences, might be
considered as positive improvements of the persons affected. When
the sluggish intellect is roused, the slow speech quickened, the
cold nature warmed, the latent sympathy developed, the flagging
spirit kindled,--before the trains of thought become confused, or
the will perverted, or the muscles relaxed,--just at the moment when
the whole human zooephyte flowers out like a full-blown rose, and is
ripe for the subscription-paper or the contribution box,--it would
be hard to say that a man was at that very time, worse, or less to
be loved, than when driving a hard bargain with all his meaner wits
about him. The difficulty is, that the alcoholic virtues don't wash;
but until the water takes their colors out, the tints are very much
like those of the true celestial stuff.

[Here I was interrupted by a question which I am very unwilling to
report, but have confidence enough in those friends who examine
these records to commit to their candor.]

A _person_ at table asked me whether I "went in for rum as a steady
drink?"--His manner made the question highly offensive, but I
restrained myself, and answered thus:--

Rum I take to be the name which unwashed moralists apply alike to the
product distilled from molasses and the noblest juices of the
vineyard. Burgundy "in all its sunset glow" is rum. Champagne,
"the foaming wine of Eastern France," is rum. Hock, which our friend,
the Poet, speaks of as:

"The Rhine's breastmilk, gushing cold and bright,
Pale as the moon, and maddening as her light,"

is rum. Sir, I repudiate the loathsome vulgarism as an insult to the
first miracle wrought by the Founder of our religion! I address
myself to the company.--I believe in temperance, nay, almost in
abstinence, as a rule for healthy people. I trust that I practise
both. But let me tell you, there are companies of men of genius into
which I sometimes go, where the atmosphere of intellect and
sentiment is so much more stimulating than alcohol, that, if I
thought fit to take wine, it would be to keep me sober.

Among the gentlemen that I have known, few, if any, were ruined by
drinking. My few drunken acquaintances were generally ruined before
they became drunkards. The habit of drinking is often a vice, no
doubt,--sometimes a misfortune,--as when an almost irresistible
hereditary propensity exists to indulge in it,--but oftenest of all
a _punishment_.

Empty heads,--heads without ideas in wholesome variety and
sufficient number to furnish food for the mental clockwork,--
ill-regulated heads, where the faculties are not under the control
of the will,--these are the ones that hold the brains which their
owners are so apt to tamper with, by introducing the appliances we
have been talking about. Now, when a gentleman's brain is empty or
ill-regulated, it is, to a great extent, his own fault; and so it is
simple retribution, that, while he lies slothfully sleeping or
aimlessly dreaming, the fatal habit settles on him like a vampyre,
and sucks his blood, fanning him all the while with its hot wings
into deeper slumber or idler dreams! I am not such a hard-souled
being as to apply this to the neglected poor, who have had no chance
to fill their heads with wholesome ideas, and to be taught the
lesson of self-government. I trust the tariff of Heaven has an
_ad valorem_ scale for them,--and all of us.

But to come back to poets and artists;--if they really are more
prone to the abuse of stimulants,--and I fear that this is true,--the
reason of it is only too clear. A man abandons himself to a fine
frenzy, and the power which flows through him, as I once explained
to you, makes him the medium of a great poem or a great picture. The
creative action is not voluntary at all, but automatic; we can only
put the mind into the proper attitude, and wait for the wind, that
blows where it listeth, to breathe over it. Thus the true state of
creative genius is allied to _reverie_, or dreaming. If mind and
body were both healthy, and had food enough and fair play, I doubt
whether any men would be more temperate than the imaginative classes.
But body and mind often flag,--perhaps they are ill-made to begin
with, underfed with bread or ideas, over-worked, or abused in some
way. The automatic action, by which genius wrought its wonders, fails.
There is only one thing which can rouse the machine; not will,--that
cannot reach it; nothing but a ruinous agent, which hurries the
wheels awhile and soon eats out the heart of the mechanism. The
dreaming faculties are always the dangerous ones, because their mode
of action can be imitated by artificial excitement; the reasoning
ones are safe, because they imply continued voluntary effort.

I think you will find it true, that, before any vice can fasten on a
man, body, mind, or moral nature must be debilitated. The mosses and
fungi gather on sickly trees, not thriving ones; and the odious
parasites which fasten on the human frame choose that which is
already enfeebled. Mr. Walker, the hygeian humorist, declared that
he had such a healthy skin it was impossible for any impurity to
stick to it, and maintained that it was an absurdity to wash a face
which was of necessity always clean. I don't know how much fancy
there was in this; but there is no fancy in saying that the lassitude
of tired-out operatives, and the languor of imaginative natures in
their periods of collapse, and the vacuity of minds untrained to
labor and discipline, fit the soul and body for the germination of
the seeds of intemperance.

Whenever the wandering demon of Drunkenness finds a ship adrift,--no
steady wind in its sails, no thoughtful pilot directing its course,--
he steps on board, takes the helm, and steers straight for the

----I wonder if you know the _terrible smile_? [The young fellow
whom they call John winked very hard, and made a jocular remark, the
sense of which seemed to depend on some double meaning of the word
_smile_. The company was curious to know what I meant.]

There are persons--I said--who no sooner come within sight of you
than they begin to smile, with an uncertain movement of the mouth,
which conveys the idea that they are thinking about themselves, and
thinking, too, that you are thinking they are thinking about
themselves,--and so look at you with a wretched mixture of
self-consciousness, awkwardness, and attempts to carry off both,
which are betrayed by the cowardly behavior of the eye and the
tell-tale weakness of the lips that characterize these unfortunate

----Why do you call them unfortunate, Sir?--asked the

Because it is evident that the consciousness of some imbecility or
other is at the bottom of this extraordinary expression. I don't
think, however, that these persons are commonly fools. I have known a
number, and all of them were intelligent. I think nothing conveys
the idea of _underbreeding_ more than this self-betraying smile. Yet
I think this peculiar habit, as well as that of _meaningless blushing_,
may be fallen into by very good people who meet often, or sit
opposite each other at table. A true gentleman's face is infinitely
removed from all such paltriness,--calm-eyed, firm-mouthed. I think
Titian understood the look of a gentleman as well as anybody that
ever lived. The portrait of a young man holding a glove in his hand,
in the Gallery of the Louvre, if any of you have seen that collection,
will remind you of what I mean.

----Do I think these people know the peculiar look they have?--I
cannot say; I hope not; I am afraid they would never forgive me, if
they did. The worst of it is, the trick is catching; when one meets
one of these fellows, he feels a tendency to the same manifestation.
The Professor tells me there is a muscular slip, a dependence of the
_platysma myoides_, which is called the _risorius Santorini_.

----Say that once more,--exclaimed the young fellow mentioned above.

The Professor says there is a little fleshy slip called Santorini's
laughing-muscle. I would have it cut out of my face, if I were born
with one of those constitutional grins upon it. Perhaps I am
uncharitable in my judgment of those sour-looking people I told you
of the other day, and of these smiling folks. It may be that they
are born with these looks, as other people are with more generally
recognized deformities. Both are bad enough, but I had rather meet
three of the scowlers than one of the smilers.

----There is another unfortunate way of looking, which is peculiar
to that amiable sex we do not like to find fault with. There are
some very pretty, but, unhappily, very ill-bred women, who don't
understand the law of the road with regard to handsome faces. Nature
and custom would, no doubt, agree in conceding to all males the
right of at least two distinct looks at every comely female
countenance, without any infraction of the rules of courtesy or the
sentiment of respect. The first look is necessary to define the
person of the individual one meets so as to avoid it in passing. Any
unusual attraction detected in a first glance is a sufficient
apology for a second,--not a prolonged and impertinent stare, but an
appreciating homage of the eyes, such as a stranger may
inoffensively yield to a passing image. It is astonishing how
morbidly sensitive some vulgar beauties are to the slightest
demonstration of this kind. When a _lady_ walks the streets, she
leaves her virtuous-indignation countenance at home; she knows well
enough that the street is a picture-gallery, where pretty faces
framed in pretty bonnets are meant to be seen, and everybody has a
right to see them.

----When we observe how the same features and style of person and
character descend from generation to generation, we can believe that
some inherited weakness may account for these peculiarities. Little
snapping-turtles snap--so the great naturalist tells us--before they
are out of the egg-shell. I am satisfied, that, much higher up in
the scale of life, character is distinctly shown at the age of--2 or--
3 months.

----My friend, the Professor, has been full of eggs lately. [This
remark excited a burst of hilarity, which I did not allow to
interrupt the course of my observations.] He has been reading the
great book where he found the fact about the little snapping-turtles
mentioned above. Some of the things he has told me have suggested
several odd analogies enough.

There are half a dozen men, or so, who carry in their brains the
_ovarian eggs_ of the next generation's or century's civilization.
These eggs are not ready to be laid in the form of books as yet;
some of them are hardly ready to be put into the form of talk. But
as rudimentary ideas or inchoate tendencies, there they are; and
these are what must form the future. A man's general notions are not
good for much, unless he has a crop of these intellectual ovarian
eggs in his own brain, or knows them as they exist in the minds of
others. One must be in the _habit_ of talking with such persons to
get at these rudimentary germs of thought; for their development is
necessarily imperfect, and they are moulded on new patterns, which
must be long and closely studied. But these are the men to talk with.
No fresh truth ever gets into a book.

"----A good many fresh lies get in, anyhow",--said one of the company.

I proceeded in spite of the interruption.--All uttered thought, my
friend, the Professor, says, is of the nature of an excretion. Its
materials have been taken in, and have acted upon the system, and
been reacted on by it; it has circulated and done its office in one
mind before it is given out for the benefit of others. It may be
milk or venom to other minds; but, in either case, it is something
which the producer has had the use of and can part with. A man
instinctively tries to get rid of his thought in conversation or in
print so soon as it is matured; but it is hard to get at it as it
lies imbedded, a mere potentiality, the germ of a germ, in his

----Where are the brains that are fullest of these ovarian eggs of
thought?--I decline mentioning individuals. The producers of thought,
who are few, the "jobbers" of thought, who are many, and the
retailers of thought, who are numberless, are so mixed up in the
popular apprehension, that it would be hopeless to try to separate
them before opinion has had time to settle. Follow the course of
opinion on the great subjects of human interest for a few
generations or centuries, get its parallax, map out a small arc of
its movement, see where it tends, and then see who is in advance of
it or even with it; the world calls him hard names probably; but if
you would find the man of the future, you must look into the folds
of his cerebral convolutions.

[The divinity-student looked a little puzzled at this suggestion, as
if he did not see exactly where he was to come out, if he computed
his arc too nicely. I think it possible it might cut off a few
corners of his present belief, as it has cut off martyr-burning and
witch-hanging;--but time will show,--time will show, as the old
gentleman opposite says.]

----Oh,--here is that copy of verses I told you about.

_Intra Muros_.

The sunbeams, lost for half a year,
Slant through my pane their morning rays;
For dry Northwesters cold and clear,
The East blows in its thin blue haze.

And first the snowdrop's bells are seen,
Then close against the sheltering wall
The tulip's horn of dusky green,
The peony's dark unfolding ball.

The golden-chaliced crocus burns;
The long narcissus-blades appear;
The cone-beaked hyacinth returns,
And lights her blue-flamed chandelier.

The willow's whistling lashes, wrung
By the wild winds of gusty March,
With sallow leaflets lightly strung,
Are swaying by the tufted larch.

The elms have robed their slender spray
With full-blown flower and embryo leaf;
Wide o'er the clasping arch of day
Soars like a cloud their hoary chief.

--See the proud tulip's flaunting cup,
That flames in glory for an hour,--
Behold it withering,--then look up,--
How meek the forest-monarch's flower!--

When wake the violets, Winter dies;
When sprout the elm-buds, Spring is near;
When lilacs blossom, Summer cries,
"Bud, little roses! Spring is here!"

The windows blush with fresh bouquets,
Cut with the May-dew on their lips;
The radish all its bloom displays,
Pink; as Aurora's finger-tips.

Nor less the flood of light that showers
On beauty's changed corolla-shades,--
The walks are gay as bridal bowers
With rows of many-petalled maids.

The scarlet shell-fish click and clash
In the blue barrow where they slide;
The horseman, proud of streak and splash,
Creeps homeward from his morning ride.

Here comes the dealer's awkward string,
With neck in rope and tail in knot,--
Rough colts, with careless country-swing,
In lazy walk or slouching trot.

--Wild filly from the mountain-side,
Doomed to the close and chafing thills,
Lend me thy long, untiring stride
To seek with thee thy western hills!

I hear the whispering voice of Spring,
The thrush's trill, the cat-bird's cry,
Like some poor bird with prisoned wing
That sits and sings, but longs to fly.

Oh for one spot of living green,--
One little, spot where leaves can grow,--
To love unblamed, to walk unseen,
To dream above, to sleep below!

* * * * *


There was joy in the national palace on the eve of May-day. The
heart of the Chief of Thirty Millions was full of gladness. It was a
high holiday at the capital of the nation. Jubilant processions
crowded the streets. The boom of cannon told to the heavens that some
great event, full of glory and of blessing, was just happily born
into the history of the world. Strains of triumphant music at once
expressed and stirred afresh the rapture which the new fruition of a
deferred and doubting hope had kindled in myriad breasts. Rejoicing
multitudes swarmed before the palace gate, and with congratulatory
shouts compelled the presence of the Nation's Head. He stood before
them proud and happy, and answered to the transports of their joy
with a responsive sympathy. He rejoiced in the prospect of the peace
and prosperity with which the occasion of this jubilee was to cheer
and bless the land in all its borders. His chosen friends and
counsellors surrounded him and echoed his prophecies of good. A
kindred homage was next paid to the virtuous artificers of the
new-wrought blessing, without whose shaping hands it would have
perished before the sight, or taken some dreadful form of mischief
and of horror. Their words of cheer and exultation, too, swelled the
surging tide of patriotic emotion till it overflowed again. Thus with
the thunder of artillery, with the animating sound of drum and
trumpet, with the more persuasive music of impassioned words, with
shoutings and with revelry, these jocund compeers, from the highest
to the lowest, mingled into one by the alchemy of a common joy,
chased the hours of that memorable night and gave strange welcome to
the morn of May.

What great happiness had just befallen, which should thus transport
with joy the chief magistrate of a mighty nation, and send an
answering pulse of rapture through all the veins of his capital? The
armies of the Republic had surely just returned in triumph from some
dubious battle joined with a barbarian invader who threatened to
trample all her cherished rights, and the institutions which are
their safeguard, under his iron heel. Perhaps the Angel of Mercy had
at length set again the seals upon some wide-wasting pestilence
which had long been walking in darkness, with Terror going before
her and Death following after. Or was it the desolating course of
Famine that had been stayed, as it swept, gaunt and hungry, over the
land, and consumed its inhabitants from off its face? Peradventure,
the prayers of holy men had prevailed, and the heavens which had
been as brass were melted, and the earth which had been but ashes
revived again, a living altar, crowned afresh with flowers, and
prophetic of the thank-offerings of harvests. Or it might be that a
great discoverer had added a new world to the domain of human
happiness, by some invention which should lighten the toils and
multiply the innocent satisfactions of mankind. Or had virtue and
intelligence won some signal victory over barbarism and ignorance,
and blessed with liberty and knowledge regions long abandoned to
despotism and to darkness? These had been, indeed, occasions on
which the chief ruler of a great people might fitly lead the anthem
of a nation's thanksgiving.

But the joy which thus overflowed the hearts of President and people
at the metropolis of our politics, and which has sprinkled with its
cordial drops kindred spirits scattered far and wide over the land,
welled up from no wholesome sources such as these. It was no
deliverance from barbarous enemies, from pestilential disease, from
meagre famine, that moved those raptures,--no joy at ignorance
dissipated, barbarism dispelled, or tyranny put down. The "peace"
and the "prosperity," the prophecy of which was so sweet to the
souls that took sweet counsel together on that night, were of a kind
which only souls tuned to such unison and so subtly trained could
fully comprehend and rightly estimate. This gentle peace, thus
joyfully presaged, is to be won by the submission of an inchoate
State to a form of government subjecting its inhabitants to
institutions abhorrent to their souls and fatal to their prosperity,
forced upon them at the point of the bowie-knife and the muzzle of
the revolver by hordes of sordid barbarians from a hostile soil,
their natural and necessary enemies. And the sweet harbinger of this
blessed peace, the halcyon which broods over the stormy waves and
tells of the calm at hand, is a bribe so cunningly devised that its
contrivers firmly believe it will buy up the souls of these
much-injured men, and reconcile them to the shame and infamy of
trading away their lights and their honor as the boot of a dirty
bargain in the land-market. And the "prosperity" which is to wait
upon this happy "peace" glows with a like golden promise. It is a
prosperity that shall bless Kansas into a Virginia or a North
Carolina by virtue of the same means which has crowned the
Slave-country with the wealth; the civilization, and the
intelligence it has to brag of. It is such a prosperity as ever
follows after the footsteps of Slavery,--a prosperity which is to
blight the soil, degrade the minds, debauch the morals, impoverish
the substance, and subvert the independence of a loathing population,
if the joy of the President and his directors is to be made full.
Such is the message of peace and good-will which thrilled with
prophetic raptures the hearts which flowed together on that happy
night, and such the blessed prospects which made the air of
Washington vocal with the ecstasies of triumph.

The history of the world is full enough of illustrations of
"the Art of making a Great Kingdom a Small One." The art of
degrading the imperial idea of a true republic from its just
preeminence among the polities of mankind, of quenching the
principles of eternal right which are the star-points of its divine
crown, of trailing the shining whiteness of its robes in the dust,
and making it an object of contempt rather than of adoration, has
never been taught more emphatically than in the examples furnished
by our own later annals. If Mr. Buchanan and his predecessor had set
themselves to work, of good set purpose, to bring republican
institutions into derision, and to prove that the American
experiment was a dead failure, they could not have proceeded more
cunningly with their task. Their aim has been, as it has seemed, to
give the lie to all the principles on which it has been assumed that
these institutions rest, and to show that their real object is to
subject the many to the government of the few, as the manner is of
the nations round about. The thin veil of decent falsehood, under
which the caution of earlier time had decorously hid this fact, has
been torn aside by the rude intrepidity of assurance which
long-continued success had fostered. The problem to be solved being
to prove the chief axiom of our political science, that the people
have a right to self-government and to the choice of their own
institutions, to be a lie, it is worked out in the presence of an
admiring world, after this fashion.

The old Ordinance--which set limits to Slavery, and which, as it
preceded the Constitution, should in honor and equity be taken as a
condition precedent to it, and the later pledge of the South, that
this contract should be sacredly kept on the other side of a certain
parallel of latitude, having both been infamously violated for the
sake of extending the domain of Slavery into regions solemnly
dedicated to Liberty, the entire energies of the General Government
and of the political party it represented were put forth to
crystallize this double lie into the institutions of Kansas, and
thus take it out of the category of theory and reduce it into that
of fact. The reluctance of the inhabitants of the young Territory
went for nothing, and provision was soon effectually made to
overcome their resistance. Every form of terrorism, to which tyrants
all alike instinctively resort to disarm resistance to their will,
was launched at the property, the lives, and the happiness of the
defenceless settlers. Hordes of barbarians, as we have said before,
from every part of the Southern hive, but especially from the savage
tribes of the bordering Missouri, poured themselves over the devoted
land. Murder, arson, robbery, every outrage that could be offered to
man or woman, waited on their footsteps and stalked abroad with them
in their forays against Freedom. When the first steps were to be
taken towards the organization of a government, they precipitated
themselves upon the Territory in fiercer numbers. They made
themselves masters of the polling-places; they drove away by
violence and threats the peaceable inhabitants and lawful voters,
and by open force and unblushing fraud elected themselves or their
creatures the lawgivers of the commonwealth about to be created. So
outrageous were the crimes of these miscreants at this and
subsequent periods, that even the very creatures of Pierce and
Buchanan, chosen especially for their supposed fitness to assist in
these villanies, turned away, one after another, sickened at the
sight of them, and forfeited forever the favor of their masters by
shrinking from an unqualified and unhesitating obedience.

The Constitution, contrived by the wretches thus nefariously clothed
in the stolen sovereignty of the true inhabitants of Kansas, of
course made Slavery an integral part of the institutions of the State.
A code of laws was enacted absolutely without parallel in the history
of the world for insolent trampling down of rights and for bloody
cruelty of penalties,--laws so abominable as even to call down upon
them, from his place in the Senate, the emphatic condemnation of so
veteran a soldier in the service of Slavery as General Cass, now
Mr. Buchanan's Secretary of State. These Territorial laws, thus
infamously vile, thus made in defiance of the well-known will of the
great majority of the people of Kansas, Mr. Pierce hastened to
recognize as the authentic expression of the mind of the people there,
and exerted all the moral and all the physical force of the
government to maintain them in their authority. Since that magistrate
was kicked aside as no longer available for the uses of Slavery,
because of the very infamy he had won in its service, Mr. Buchanan,
unlessoned by his fate, has adopted his views and carried out his

We do not propose to follow this march of shameful events step by
step, nor to speak of them in their exact chronological order, nor
yet to specify to which of these magistrates the credit of any one


Back to Full Books