The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. IV, No. 22, Aug., 1859

Part 1 out of 5



VOL. IV.--AUGUST, 1859.--NO. XXII.


We say dramatic element _in_ the Bible, not dramatic element _of_ the
Bible, since that of which we speak is not essential, but incidental; it
is an aspect of the form of the book, not an attribute of its

By the use of the term _dramatic_ in this connection, let us, in the
outset, be understood to have no reference whatever to the theatre and
stage-effect, or to the sundry devices whereby the playhouse is made at
once popular and intolerable. Nor shall we anticipate any charge of
irreverence; since we claim the opportunity and indulge only the license
of the painter, who, in the treatment of Scriptural themes, seeks both
to embellish the sacred page and to honor his art,--and of the sculptor,
and the poet, likewise, each of whom, ranging divine ground, remarks
upon the objects there presented according to the law of his profession.
As the picturesque, the statuesque, the poetical in the Bible are
legitimate studies, so also the dramatic.

But in the premises, is not the term _dramatic_ interdicted,--since it
is that which is not the Bible, but which is foreign to the Bible, and
even directly contradistinguished therefrom? The drama is
representation,--the Bible is fact; the drama is imitation,--the Bible
narrative; the one is an embodiment,--the other a substance; the one
transcribes the actual by the personal,--the other is a return to the
simplest originality; the one exalts its subjects by poetic
freedom,--the other adheres to prosaic plainness.

Yet are there not points in which they meet, or in which, for the
purposes of this essay, they may be considered as coming together,--that
is, admitting of an artistical juxtaposition?

In the first place, to take Shakspeare for a type of the drama, what, we
ask, is the distinguishing merit of this great writer? It is his
fidelity to Nature. Is not the Bible also equally true to Nature? "It is
the praise of Shakspeare," says Dr. Johnson, "that his plays are the
mirror of life." Was there ever a more consummate mirror of life than
the Bible affords? "Shakspeare copied the manners of the world then
passing before him, and has more allusions than other poets to the
traditions and superstitions of the vulgar." The Bible, perhaps, excels
all other books in this sort of description. "Shakspeare was an exact
surveyor of the inanimate world." The Bible is full of similar sketches.
An excellence of Shakspeare is the individuality of his characters.
"They are real beings of flesh and blood," the critics tell us; "they
speak like men, not like authors." How truly this applies to the persons
mentioned in sacred writ! Goethe has compared the characters of
Shakspeare to "watches with crystalline cases and plates, which, while
they point out with perfect accuracy the course of the hours and
minutes, at the same time disclose the whole combination of springs and
wheels whereby they are moved." A similar transparency of motive and
purpose, of individual traits and spontaneous action, belongs to the
Bible. From the hand of Shakspeare, "the lord and the tinker, the hero
and the valet, come forth equally distinct and clear." In the Bible the
various sorts of men are never confounded, but have the advantage of
being exhibited by Nature herself, and are not a contrivance of the
imagination. "Shylock," observes a recent critic, "seems so much a man
of Nature's making, that we can scarce accord to Shakspeare the merit of
creating him." What will you say of Balak, Nabal, Jeroboam? "Macbeth is
rather guilty of tempting the Weird Sisters than of being tempted by
them, and is surprised and horrified at his own hell-begotten
conception." Saul is guilty of tampering with the Witch of Endor, and is
alarmed at the Ghost of Samuel, whose words distinctly embody and
vibrate the fears of his own heart, and he "falls straightway all along
on the earth." "The exquisite refinement of Viola triumphs over her
masculine attire." The exquisite refinement of Ruth triumphs in the
midst of men.

We see there are points in which dramatic representation and Scriptural
delineation mutually touch.

A distinguished divine of Connecticut said he wanted but two books in
his library, the Bible and Shakspeare,--the one for religion, the other
to be his instructor in human nature. In the same spirit, St. Chrysostom
kept a copy of Aristophanes under his pillow, that he might read it at
night before he slept and in the morning when he waked. The strong and
sprightly eloquence of this father, if we may trust tradition, drew its
support from the vigorous and masculine Atticism of the old comedian.

But human nature, in every stage of its development and every variety of
its operation, is as distinctly pronounced on the pages of Scripture as
in the scenes of the dramatist. Of Shakespeare it is said, "He turned
the globe round for his amusement, and surveyed the generations of men,
and the individuals as they passed, with their different concerns,
passions, follies, vices, virtues, actions, and motives." He has been
called the "thousand-minded," the "oceanic soul." The Bible creates the
world and peoples it, and gives us a profound and universal insight into
all its concerns.

Another peculiarity of Shakspeare is his self-forgetfulness. In reading
what is written, you do not think of him, but of his productions. "The
perfect absence of himself from his own pages makes it difficult for us
to conceive of a human being having written them." This remark applies
with obvious force to the Bible. The authors of the several books do not
thrust themselves upon your notice, or interfere with your meditations
on what they have written; indeed, to such an extent is this
self-abeyance maintained, that it is impossible, at this period of time,
to determine who are the authors of some of the books. The narrative of
events proceeds, for the most part, as if the author had never existed.
How _naively_ and perspicuously everything is told, without the
colouring of prejudice, or an infusion of egotism on the part of the

Coleridge says, Shakspeare gives us no moral highwaymen, no sentimental
thieves and rat-catchers, no interesting villains, no amiable
adulteresses. The Bible even goes farther than this, and is faithful to
the foibles and imperfections of its favorite characters, and describes
a rebellious Moses, a perjured David, a treacherous Peter.

"In nothing does Shakspeare so deeply and divinely touch the heart of
humanity as in the representation of woman." We have the grandeur of
Portia, the sprightliness of Rosalind, the passion of Juliet, the
delicacy of Ophelia, the mournful dignity of Hermione, the filial
affection of Cordelia. How shall we describe the Pythian greatness of
Miriam, the cheerful hospitality of Sarah, the heroism of Rahab, the
industry of Dorcas, the devotion of Mary? And we might set off Lady
Macbeth with Jezebel, and Cleopatra with Delilah.

But the Bible, it may be said, so far as the subject before us is
concerned, is chiefly historical, while Shakspeare is purely dramatic.
The one is description,--the other action; the one relates to
events,--the other to feelings; the department of the one is the general
course of human affairs,--that of the other, the narrower circle of
individual experience; the field of the one is that which the eye of
philosophy may embrace,--while that of the other is what the human frame
may portray.

However this may apply to the average of history, it will be found that
the Bible, in its historical parts, is not so strictly historical as to
preclude associations of another sort. The Bible is remarkable for a
visual and embodied relief, a bold and vivid detail. We know of no book,
if we may except the compositions of professed dramatists, that contains
so much of personal feeling and incident. In simplicity and directness,
in freedom from exaggeration, and in the general unreserve of its
expression, it even exceeds the most of these. In it we may discover a
succession of little dramas of Nature that will affect us quite as
profoundly as those larger ones of Art.

If the structure of the drama be dialogistic, we find the Bible formed
on the same model. If the writers of the former disappear under the
personages of their fancy, the writers of the latter disappear under the
personages of fact. As in the one, so in the other, strangers are
introduced to tell their own story, each in his own way.

In the commencement of the Bible, after a brief prologue, the curtain
rises, and we, as spectators, look in upon a process of interlocution.
The scene is the green, sunny garden of Eden, that to which the memory
of humanity reverts as to its dim golden age, and which ever expresses
the bright dream of our youth, ere the rigor of misfortune or the
dulness of experience has spoilt it. The _dramatis personae_ are three
individuals, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. There are the mysterious tree,
with its wonderful fruit,--the beautiful, but inquisitive woman,--the
thoughtful, but too compliant man,--and the insinuating reptile. One
speaks, the other rejoins, and the third fills up the chasm of interest.
The plot thickens, the passions are displayed, and the tragedy hastens
to its end. Then is heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the cool
(the wind) of the garden, the impersonal presence of Jehovah is, as it
were, felt in the passing breeze, and a shadow falls upon the
earth,--but such a shadow as their own patient toil may dissipate, and
beyond the confines of which their hope, which has now taken the place
of enjoyment, is permitted ever to look.

Without delaying on the moral of this passage, what we would remark upon
is the clearness and freedom of the dialogue,--a feature which we find
pervading the whole of the sacred writings.

In the account of Cain, which immediately succeeds, the narrative is
inelaborate, casual, secondary; the dialogue is simple and touching. The
agony of the fratricide and his remorse are better expressed by his own
lips than could be done by any skill of the historian.

In the deception which Abraham put upon the Egyptians, touching his
wife,--which it is no part of our present object to justify or to
condemn,--what a stroke of pathos, what a depth of conjugal sentiment,
is exhibited! "Thou art a fair woman to look upon, and the Egyptians,
when they see thee, will kill me and save thee alive. _Say, I pray thee,
thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my
soul shall live because of thee_."

Viola appears very interesting and very innocent, when, in boy's
clothes, she wanders about in pursuit of a lover. Is not Sarah equally
interesting and equally innocent, when, under cover of an assumed name,
and that a sister's, she would preserve the love of one who has worthily
won it?

Will it be said that the dialogue of the Bible lacks the charm of
poetry?--that its action and sentiment, its love and its sorrow, are not
heightened by those efforts of the fancy which delight us in dramatic
authors?--that its simplicity is bald, and its naturalness rough?--that
its excessive familiarity repels taste and disturbs culture? If we may
trust Wordsworth, simplicity is not inconsistent with the pleasures of
the imagination. The style of the Bible is not redundant,--there is
little extravagance in it, and it has no trickery of words. Yet this
does not prevent its being deep in sentiment, brilliant with intrinsic
thought or powerful effect.

In the "Two Gentlemen of Verona," Valentine thus utters himself touching
his betrothed:--

"What light is light, if Sylvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Sylvia be not by?
Except I see my Sylvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale.
Unless I look on Sylvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence; and I cease to be,
If I be not by her fair influence
Fostered, illumined, cherished, kept alive."

Compare with this the language of Abraham. "Thou art fair, my wife. Say,
I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy
sake, and my soul shall live because of thee." The first is an instance
of poetic amplification and _abandon_; we should contend, for the last,
that it expresses poetic tenderness and delicacy. In the one case,
passion is diffuse,--in the other, concentrated. Which is the more
natural, others must judge.

"Euthanasy," "Theron and Aspasio," the "Phaedon" of Plato are dialogues,
but they are not dramatic. It may be, that, for a composition to claim
this distinction, it must embody great character or deep feeling,--that
it must express not only the individuality, but the strength of the

Observing this criticism, we think we may find any quantity of dramatic
dialogue in Scripture. The story of Joseph, the march in the wilderness,
the history of David, are full of it.

There are not only dramatic dialogue and movement, but dramatic
monologue and episode. For illustration, we might refer to Hagar in the
wilderness. Her tragic loneliness and shuddering despair alight upon the
page of Scripture with the interest that attends the introduction of the
veiled Niobe with her children into the Grecian theatre.

There are those who say, that the truth of particular events, so far as
we are conscious of it, is a drawback on the pleasure as well as the
dignity of the drama,--in other words, that the Bible is too true to
afford what is called dramatic delight, while the semblance of truth in
Shakspeare is exactly graduated to this particular affection. Between
the advocates of this theory, and those who say that Shakspeare is true
as truth itself, we can safely leave the point.

The subject has another aspect, which appears in the inquiry, What is
the true object of the drama? If, as has been asserted, the object of
the drama be the exhibition of the human character,--if, agreeably to
Aristotle, tragedy purifies the affections by terror and pity,--or if,
according to a recent writer, it interests us through the moral and
religious principles of our nature,--or even if, according to Dr.
Johnson, it be the province of comedy to bring into view the customs,
manners, vices, and the whole character of a people,--it is obvious that
the Bible and the drama have some correspondence. If, in the somewhat
heated language of Mrs. Jameson, "whatever in religion is holy and
sublime, in virtue amiable and grave, whatever hath passion or
admiration in the changes of fortune or the refluxes of feeling,
whatever is pitiful in the weakness, grand in the strength, or terrible
in the perversion of the human intellect," be the domain of tragedy,
this correspondence increases upon us.

If, however, it be the object of the drama to divert, then it occupies a
wholly different ground from the Bible. If it merely gratifies curiosity
or enlivens pastime, if it awakens emotion without directing it to
useful ends, if it rallies the infirmities of human nature with no other
design than to provoke our derision or increase our conceit, it shoots
very, very wide of the object which the sacred writers propose.

It is worthy to be remarked, that the Jews had no drama, or nothing that
answers to our idea of that term at the present time; they had no
theatres, no writers of tragedy or comedy. Neither are there any traces
of the dramatic art among the Egyptians, among whom the Jews sojourned
four hundred years, nor among the Arabs or the Persians, who are of
kindred stock with this people. On the other hand, by the Hindoos and
Chinese, the Greeks and Romans, histrionic representation was cultivated
with assiduity.

How shall we explain this national peculiarity? Was it because the
religion of the Jews forbade creative imitation? Is it to be found in
the letter or the spirit of the second commandment, which interdicts the
making of graven images of any pattern in earth or heaven? We should
hardly think so, since the object of this prohibition is rather to
prevent idolatry than to discourage the gratification of taste. "Thou
shalt not bow down to them nor serve them." The Jews did have emblematic
observances, costume, and works of art. Yet, on the other hand, the Jews
possessed something resembling the drama, and that out of which the
dramatic institutions of all nations have sprung. The question, then,
why the Jews had no drama proper, and still preserved the semblance and
germ thereof, will be partially elucidated by a reference to the early
history of dramatic art.

In its inception, the drama, among all nations, was a religious
observance. It came in with the chorus and the ode. The chorus, or, as
we now say, choir, was a company of persons who on stated occasions sang
sacred songs, accompanying their music with significant gesture, and an
harmonious pulsation of the feet, or the more deliberate march. The ode
or song they sang was of an elevated structure and impassioned tone, and
was commonly addressed to the Divinity. Instances of the ode are the
lyrics of Pindar and David. The chorus was also divided into parts, to
each of which was assigned a separate portion of the song, and which
answered one another in alternate measures. A good instance of the
chorus and its movement appears after the deliverance of the Jews from
the dangers of the Red Sea. "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel
this song unto the Lord: 'I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath
triumphed gloriously,'" etc. "And Miriam the prophetess took a timbrel
in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with
dances; and Miriam answered them, 'Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath
triumphed gloriously.'" At a later period, in Jewish as in Greek
history, choral exercises became a profession, and the choir constituted
a detached portion of men and women.

"Those who have studied the history of Grecian antiquities," says
Archbishop Potter, "and collected the fragments which remain of the most
ancient authors, have all concurred in the opinion, that poetry was
first employed in celebrating the praises of the gods. The fragments of
the Orphic hymns, and those of Linus and Musaeus, show these poets
entertained sounder notions of the Supreme Being than many philosophers
of a later date. There are lyric fragments yet remaining that bear
striking resemblance to Scripture."

So, says Bishop Horne, "The poetry of the Jews is clearly traceable to
the service of religion. To celebrate the praises of God, to decorate
his worship, and give force to devout sentiments, was the employment of
the Hebrew Muse."

The choral song, that is, a sacred ode united with appropriate action,
distinguished the Jews and Greeks alike. At a later period of Jewish
history, the chorus became perfected, yet without receiving any organic
change. Among the Greeks, however, the chorus passed by degrees into the
drama. To simple singing and dancing they added a variety of imitative
action; from celebrating the praises of the Divinity, they proceeded to
represent the deeds of men, and their orchestras were enlarged to
theatres. They retained the chorus, but subordinated it to the action.
The Jews, on the other hand, did no more than dramatize the chorus. So,
Bishop Horsley says, the greater part of the Psalms are a sort of
dramatic ode, consisting of dialogues between certain persons sustaining
certain characters. In these psalms, the persons are the writer himself
and a band of Levites,--or sometimes the Supreme Being, or a personation
of the Messiah.

We find, then, the Jews and the Greeks running parallel in respect of
the drama, or that out of which the drama sprung, the chorus, for a long
series of years. The practice of the two nations in this respect
exhibits a striking coincidence, indeed, Lowth conceives that the Song
of Solomon bears a strong resemblance to the Greek drama. "The chorus of
virgins," he says, "seems in every respect congenial to the tragic
chorus of the Greeks. They are constantly present, and prepared to
fulfil all the duties of advice and consolation; they converse
frequently with the different characters; they take part in the whole
business of the poem." They fulfilled, in a word, all the purpose of the
Greek chorus on the Greek stage.

On certain occasions, the Greek chorus celebrated divine worship in the
vicinity of the great altar of their god. Clad in magnificent vestments,
they move to solemn measures about it; they ascend and descend the steps
that lead to it; they offer sacrifices upon it; they carry in their
hands lighted torches; they pour out lustral water; they burn incense;
they divide into antiphonal bands, and sing alternate stanzas of their
sacred songs.

So, in their religious festivals, the Jewish chorus surrounded the high
altar of their worship, gorgeously dressed, and with an harmonious
tread; they mounted and remounted the steps; they offered sacrifices;
they bore branches of trees in their hands; they scattered the lustral
water; they burnt incense; they pealed the responsive anthem.

But while we follow down the stream of resemblance to a certain point,
it divides at last: on the Greek side, it is diverted into the lighter
practice of the theatre; on the Jewish side, it seems to deepen itself
in the religious feeling of the nation.

Aeschylus, the father of tragedy, seizing upon the chorus, elaborated it
into the drama. The religious idea, indeed, seems never to have deserted
the gentile drama; for, at a later period, we find the Romans appointing
theatrical performances with the special design of averting the anger of
the gods. A religious spirit, also, pervades all the writings of the
ancient dramatists; they bring the gods to view, and the terrors of the
next world, on their stage, are seen crowding upon the sins of this.

On the other hand, David, who may be denominated the Alfred of the Jews,
seems to have contented himself with the chorus; he allotted its
members, disciplined its ranks, heightened its effect, and supplied new
lyrics for its use.

Another exemplification of singular coincidence and diversity between
the two nations appears in this, that the goat was common in the
religious observances of both; a similar ritual required the sacrifice
of this animal: but with the Jews the creature was an emblem of
solemnity, while with the Greeks he was significant of joy; the Jews
sacrificed him on their fasts,--the Greeks in their feasts. And here we
may observe, that tragedy, the most dignified and the primitive form of
the drama, deduces its origin from the goat,--being, literally, the song
of the goat, that is, the song accompanying the sacrifice of the goat.

Let us now endeavor to answer the question, Why, since the drama was
generally introduced among surrounding nations, and Jewish customs and
life comprised so many initial dramatic materials, this art was not
known among that people?

It was owing to the earnestness and solemnity of their religious faith.
We find the cause in the simple, exalted, and comparatively spiritual
ideas they had of the Supreme Being; in a word, we shall state the whole
ground to be this,--that the Greeks were polytheists, and the Jews

Let us bear in mind that the chorus, and the drama that was built upon
it, had a religious association, and were employed in religious
devotion. We may add, moreover, that the Greeks introduced their gods
upon the stage; this the Jews could not do. The Greeks, of course, had a
great deal of religious feeling, but they could not cherish that
profound reverence for the object of their worship which the Jews
entertained towards theirs. The Jews accompanied the Greeks in the use
of the chorus, but they could not go with them any farther. They both
united in employing music and the dance, and all the pomp of procession
and charm of ceremony, in divine worship; but when it came to displaying
the object of their adoration in personal form to the popular eye, and
making him an actor on the stage, however dignified that stage might be,
the Jews could not consent.

This, we think, will explain, in part, why others of the ancient
nations, the Arabs and Persians, rich as they were in every species of
literature, had no theatre; they were monotheists.

But there is the department of comedy, of a lighter sort, which does not
converse with serious subjects, or necessarily include reference to
Deity; why do we find no trace of this among the Jews? We may remember,
that all festivals, in very ancient time, of every description, the
grave and the gay, the penitential and the jubilant, had a religious
design, and were suggested by a religious feeling. We think the peculiar
cast of the Judaic faith would hardly embody itself in such a mode of
expression. Moreover, tragedy was the parent of comedy,--and since the
Jews had not the first, we should hardly expect them to produce the
last. It is not difficult to perceive how the Greeks could convert their
goat to dramatic, or even to comic purposes; but the Jews could not deal
so with theirs.

We approach another observation, that there is no comedy in the Bible.
There is tragedy there,--not in the sense in which we have just denied
that the Jews had tragedy, but in the obvious sense of tragic elements,
tragic scenes, tragic feelings. In the same sense, we say, there are no
comic elements, or scenes, or feelings. There is that in the Bible to
make you weep, but nothing to move you to laughter. Why is this? Are
there not smiles as well as tears in life? Have we not a deep, joyous
nature, as well as aspiration, reverence, awe? Is there not a
free-and-easy side of existence, as well as vexation and sorrow? We
assent that these things are so.

But comedy implies ridicule, sharp, corroding ridicule. The comedy of
the Greeks ridiculed everything,--persons, characters, opinions,
customs, and sometimes philosophy and religion. Comedy became,
therefore, a sort of consecrated slander, lyric spite, aesthetical
buffoonery. Comedy makes you laugh at somebody's expense; it brings
multitudes together to see it inflict death on some reputation; it
assails private feeling with all the publicity and powers of the stage.

Now we doubt if the Jewish faith or taste would tolerate this. The Jews
were commanded to love their neighbor. We grant, their idea of neighbor
was excessively narrow and partial; but still it was their neighbor.
They were commanded not to bear false witness against their neighbor,
and he was pronounced accursed who should smite his neighbor secretly.
It might appear that comedy would violate each of these statutes. But
the Jews had their delights, their indulgences, their transports,
notwithstanding the imperfection of their benevolence, the meagreness of
their truth, and the cumbersomeness of their ceremonials. The Feast of
Tabernacles, for instance, was liberal and happy, bright and smiling; it
was the enthusiasm of pastime, the psalm of delectableness. They did not
laugh at the exposure of another's foibles, but out of their own merry

Will it be said, the Bible is not true to Nature, if it does not
represent the comical side of life, as well as Shakspeare does? We think
the comical parts of Shakspeare, his extreme comical parts, are rather
an exaggeration of individual qualities than a fair portraiture of the
whole species. There is no Falstaff in the Bible, yet the qualities of
Falstaff exist in the Bible and in Nature, but in combination, and this
combination modifies their aspect and effect.

There is laughter in the Bible, but it is not uttered to make you laugh.
There are also events recorded, which, at the time, may have produced
effects analogous to comedy. The approach of the Gibeonites to the camp
of Israel in their mock-beggarly costume might be mentioned. Shimei's
cursing David has always seemed to us to border on the ludicrous.

But to leave these matters and return to the general thread of thought.
Dramas have been formed on the Bible. We hardly need name "Paradise
Lost," or "Samson Agonistes," or the "Cain" of Byron, the "Hadad" of
Hillhouse, or Mrs. More's "David and Goliah." "Pilgrim's Progress" has a
Scriptural basis.

Moreover, if we may trust the best critics, certain portions of the
sacred volume are conceived in a dramatic spirit, and are propounded to
a dramatic interpretation. These are the Book of Job, the Song of
Solomon, and, possibly, the Apocalypse of St. John. If we were disposed
to contend for this view, we need but mention such authorities as
Calmet, Carpzov, Bishops Warburton, Percy, Lowth, Bossuet.

The Book of Job has a prose prologue and epilogue, the intermediate
portions being poetic dialogue. The characters are discriminated and
well supported. It does not preserve the unities of Aristotle, which,
indeed, are found neither in the Bible nor in Nature,--which Shakspeare
neglects, and which are to be met with only in the crystalline
artificialness of the French stage. "It has no plot, not even of the
simplest kind," says Dr. Lowth. It has a plot,--not an external and
visible one, but an internal and spiritual one; its incidents are its
feelings, its progress is the successive conditions of mind, and it
terminates with the triumph of virtue. If it be not a record of actual
conversation, it is an embodiment of a most wonderful ideality. The
eternity of God, the grandeur of Nature, the profundity of the soul,
move in silent panorama before you. The great and agitating problems of
human existence are depicted with astonishing energy and precision, and
marvellous is the conduct of the piece to us who behold it as a painting
away back on the dark canvas of antiquity.

We said the Jews had no drama, no theatre, because they would not
introduce the Divinity upon the stage. Yet God appears speaking in the
Book of Job, not bodily, but ideally, and herein is all difference. This
drama addresses the imagination, not the eye. The Greeks brought their
divinities into sight, stood them on the stage,--or clothed a man with
an enormous mask, and raised him on a pedestal, giving him also
corresponding apparel, to represent their god. The Hebrew stage, if we
may share the ordinary indulgence of language in using that term, with
an awe and delicacy suitable to the dignity of the subject, permits the
Divinity to speak, but does not presume to employ his person; the
majesty of Infinitude utters itself, but no robe-maker undertakes to
dress it for the occasion. In the present instance, how exalted, how
inspiring, is the appearance of God! how free from offensive diminution
and costumal familiarity! "Then the Lord answered Job out of the
whirlwind, and said." Dim indeed is the representation, but very
distinct is the impression. The phenomenon conforms to the purity of
feeling, not to the grossness of sense. Devotion is kindled by the
sublime impalpableness; no applause is enforced by appropriate acting.
The Greeks, would have played the Book of Job,--the Jews were contented
to read it.

And here we might remark a distinction between dramatic reading and
dramatic seeing; and in support of our theory we can call to aid so good
an authority as Charles Lamb. "I cannot help being of opinion," says
this essayist, "that the plays of Shakspeare are less calculated for
performance on a stage than those of almost any other dramatist

How are the love dialogues of Romeo and Juliet, by the inherent fault of
stage representation, sullied and turned from their very nature by being
exposed to a large assembly! How can the profound sorrows of Hamlet be
depicted by a gesticulating actor? So, to see Lear acted, to see an old
man tottering about the stage with a walking-stick, turned out of doors
by his daughters in a rainy night, has nothing in it but what is painful
and disgusting. The contemptible machinery by which they mimic the storm
in which he goes out is not more inadequate to represent the horrors of
the real elements than any actor can be to represent Lear. In the acted
Othello, the black visage of the Moor is obtruded upon you; in the
written Othello, his color disappears in his mind. When Hamlet compares
the two pictures of Gertrude's first and second husband, who wants to
see the pictures? But in the acting, a miniature must be lugged out. "The
truth is," he adds, "the characters of Shakspeare are more the objects
of meditation than of interest or curiosity as to their actions."

All this applies with force to what we have been saying. The Jews, in
respect of their dramatic culture, seem more like one who enjoys
Shakspeare in the closet; the Greeks, like those who are tolled off to
the theatre to see him acted. The Greeks would have contrived a pair of
bellows to represent the whirlwind; mystic, vast, inaudible, it passes
before the imagination of the Jew, and its office is done. The Jew would
be shocked to see his God in a human form; such a thing pleased the
Greek. The source of the difference is to be sought in the theology of
the two nations. The theological development of the Jews was very
complete,--that of the Greeks unfinished.

Yet the Jews were very deficient in art, and the Greeks perfect; both
failed in humanity. The Greeks had more ideality than the Jews; but
their ideality was very intense; it was continually, so to speak,
running aground; it must see its conceptions embodied; and more,--when
they were embodied, Pygmalion-like, it must seek to imbue them with
motion and sensibility. The conception of the Jews was more vague,
perhaps, but equally affecting; they were satisfied with carrying in
their minds the faint outline of the sublime, without seeking to chisel
it into dimension and tangibility. They cherished in their bosoms their
sacred ideal, and worshipped from far the greatness of the majesty that
shaded their imaginations. Hence we look to Athens for art, to Palestine
for ethics; the one produces rhetoricians,--the other, prophets.

So, we see, the theologico-dramatic forms of the two nations--and there
were no other--are different. The one pleases the prurient eye,--the
other gratifies the longing soul; the one amuses,--the other inspires;
the one is a hollow pageant of divine things,--the other is a glad,
solemn intimation from the unutterable heart of the universe.

The Song of Solomon, that stumbling-block of criticism and pill of
faith, a recent writer regards as a parable in the form of a drama, in
which the bride is considered as representing true religion, the royal
lover as the Jewish people, and the younger sister as the Gospel
dispensation. But it is evidently conceived in a very different spirit
from the Book of Job or the Psalms of David, and its theological
character is so obscured by other associations as to lead many to
inquire whether an enlightened religious sensibility dictated it.

We cannot dismiss this part of our subject without allusion to a species
of drama that prevailed in the Middle Ages, called Mysteries, or
Moralities. These were a sort of scenical illustration of the Sacred
Scripture, and the subjects were events taken sometimes from the New
Testament and sometimes from the Old. It is said they were designed to
supply the place of the Greek and Roman theatre, which had been banished
from the Church. The plays were written and performed by the clergy.
They seem to have first been employed to wile away the dulness of the
cloister, but were very soon introduced to the public. Adam and Eve in
Paradise, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection were theatrized. The effect
could hardly be salutary. The different persons of the Trinity appeared
on the stage; on one side of the scene stretched the yawning throat of
an immense wooden dragon; masked devils ran howling in and out.

"In the year 1437,"--we follow the literal history, as we find it quoted
in D'Israeli,--"when the Bishop of Metz caused the Mystery of the
Passion to be represented near that city, God was an old gentleman, a
curate of the place, and who was very near expiring on the cross, had he
not been timely assisted. He was so enfeebled that another priest
finished his part. At the same time this curate undertook to perform the
Resurrection, which being a less difficult task, he did it admirably
well. Another priest, personating Judas, had like to have been stifled
while he hung on the tree, for his neck slipped. This being at length
luckily perceived, he was cut down, and recovered." In another instance,
a man who assumed the Supreme Being becoming nearly suffocated by the
paint applied to his face, it was wisely announced that for the future
the Deity should be covered by a cloud. These plays, carried about the
country, taken up by the baser sort of people, descended through all
degrees of farce to obscenity, and, in England, becoming entangled in
politics, at length disappeared. It is said they linger in Italy, and
are annually reproduced in Spain.

The Bible is incapable of representation. For a man to act the Supreme
Being would be as revolting in idea as profane in practice. One may in
words portray the divine character, give utterance to the divine will.
This every preacher does. But to what is the effect owing? Not to
proprieties of attitude or arrangement of muscle, but to the spirit of
the man magnified and flooding with the great theme, and to the thought
of God that surrounds and subdues all; in other words, the imagination
is addressed, not the sight,--the sentiments and affections are engaged,
not the senses. As Lamb says of the Lear of Shakspeare, it cannot be
acted; so, with greater force, we may say of the Bible, it cannot be
acted. When we read or hear of the Passion of the Saviour, it is the
thought, the emotion, burning and seething within it, at which by
invisible contact our own thought and emotion catch fire; and the
capabilities of impersonation and manufacture are mocked by such a

But the Bible abounds in dramatic situation, action, and feeling. This
has already been intimated; it only remains that we indicate some
examples. The history of David fulfils all the demands of dramatic
composition. It has the severe grandeur of Aeschylus, the moving
tenderness of Euripides, and the individual fidelity of Shakspeare.
Could this last-named writer, who, while he counterfeited Nature with
such success, was equally commended for his historical integrity,--could
Shakspeare have performed that service on this history, which Milton,
More, and others have undertaken on other portions of the sacred
volume,--could he have digested it into a regular dramatic form,--he
would have accomplished a work of rare interest. It would include the
characters of Samuel and Saul; it would describe the magnanimous
Jonathan and the rebellious Absalom; Nathan, Nabal, Goliah, Shimei,
would impart their respective features; it would be enriched with all
that is beautiful in woman's love or enduring in parental affection. It
is full of incident, and full of pathos. It verges towards the terrible,
it is shaken with the passionate, it rises into the heroic. Pursued in
the true spirit of Jewish theology, the awful presence of God would
overhang and pervade it, while the agency of his providence should
attend on the evolutions of events.

There is one effect which, in the present arrangement of the canon, is
entirely lost to view, and which could be revived only by the
synchronizing of the Psalms with their proper epochs. For instance, the
eighth Psalm is referable to the youth of David, when he was yet leading
a shepherd life. The dramatic form of his history would detach this from
its present place, and insert it amid the occasions and in the years to
which it belongs. What a scene we should then have! The youthful David,
ruddy he was, and, withal, of a beautiful countenance, (marginal
reading, fair of eyes,) and goodly to look to; and he was a cunning
player on the harp. There is the glow of poetic enthusiasm in his eyes,
and the fervor of religious feeling in all his moods; as he tends his
flock amid the quietness and beauty of his native hills, he joins to the
aspirations of his soul the melodies of music. So the night overtakes
him, the labors of the day are past, his meditations withdraw him from
the society of men, he is alone with Nature and with God;--at such a
moment the spirit of composition and utterance is upon him, and he hymns
himself in those lofty and touching stanzas,--

"O Jehovah, our Lord,
How excellent is thy name in all the earth!
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
The moon and the stars which thou hast ordained,
What is man that thou art mindful of him,
And the son of man that thou carest for him?
Yet thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor;
Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hand,
Thou hast put all things under his feet,--
All sheep and oxen,
Yea, and the beasts of the forest,
The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea,
And whatsoever passes through the deep.
O Jehovah, our Lord,
How excellent is thy name in all the earth!"

Again, the fifty-seventh Psalm is assigned, in respect of place, to the
cave of En-gedi, into which David fled from the vengeance of Saul. Here,
surrounded by lofty rocks, whose promontories screen a wide extent of
vale, he breaks forth,--

"Have pity upon me, O God, have pity upon me,
For in thee doth my soul seek refuge!
Yea, in the shadow of thy wings do I take shelter,
Until these calamities be overpast!"

Dramatically touched, and disposed according to the natural unities of
the subject, these sublime and affecting songs would appear on their
motive occasions, and be surrounded by their actual accompaniments.

The present effect may be compared to that which would be felt, if we
should detach the songs of the artificial drama from their original
impulse and feeling, (for instance, the willow dirge of Desdemona, and
the fantastic moans of Ophelia,) and produce them in a parlor. Not but
that these lyrics have a universal fitness, and a value which no time
can change or circumstance diminish; but as we are looking at them
simply in a dramatic view, we claim the right to suggest their dramatic
force and pertinency. This effect, we might remark, is particularly and
most truthfully regarded in the Lament of David over Saul and Jonathan.
That monody would be shorn of its interest, if it were inserted anywhere
else. The Psalms are more impersonal and more strictly religious than
that, and hence their universal application; only we say, we can easily
conceive that the revival of them in the order of their history, and in
all the purity of their native pathos, would render them more

In connection with what we would further observe of the Psalms of David,
let us again call attention to the ancient chorus,--how it was a species
of melodrama, how it sang its parts, and comprised distinct vocalists
and musicians, who pursued the piece in alternate rejoinder. What we
would observe is, that many of the Psalms were written for the chorus,
and, so to speak, were performed by it. There are some of them which it
is impossible to understand without attention to this dramatic method of
rehearsal. Psalm cxviii., for instance, includes several speakers. Psalm
xxiv. was composed on the occasion of the transfer of the ark to the
tabernacle on Mount Zion. And David, we read, and all the house of
Israel, brought up the ark with shouting and with the sound of the
trumpet. In the midst of the congregated nation, supported by a varied
instrumental accompaniment, with the smoke of the well-fed altar surging
into the skies, the chorus took up the song which had been prepared to
their hand,--one group calling out, "Who shall ascend into the hill of
the Lord?"--the other pealing their answer, "He that hath clean hands
and a pure heart." Meanwhile, they dance before the Lord,--that is, we
suppose, preserving with their feet the unities of the music.

It was during a melodrama like this, in the midst of its exciting
grandeur and all-pervading transport, executed at the Feast of
Tabernacles, in the open area of the Temple, when the Jews were wont to
pour upon the altar water taken from the pool of Siloam, chanting at the
same time the twelfth chapter of Isaiah, and one division of the chorus
had just sung the words,--

"With joy we draw water from the wells of salvation,"

and before the other had replied,--it was at this moment, that Christ,
as Dr. Furness very reasonably conjectures, took up the response in his
own person, and overwhelmed attention by that memorable declaration, "If
any man thirst, let him come to me and drink; and from within him shall
flow rivers of living water."

It is what we may term the dramatic proprieties that give to many of the
Psalms, in the language of a recent commentator, "a greater degree of
fitness, spirit, and grandeur"; and they impart to the history of David
a certain decorousness of illustration and perspicuity of feature which
it would not otherwise possess. They would produce upon it the same
result as is achieved by the sister arts on this and other portions of
the sacred volume, without marring the text or doing violence to truth.
Not, let us repeat, that the Bible can be theatrized. Neither church nor
playhouse can revive the forms of Judaism, without recalling its lost
spirit. And that must be a bold hand, indeed, that shall undertake to
mend again the shivered vail of the Temple, or collect from its ruins a
ritual which He that was greater than Solomon typically denounced in
foretelling the overthrow of that gorgeous pile. The Bible, as to its
important verities and solemn doctrine, is transparent to the
imagination and affections, and does not require the mediation of dumb
show or scenic travesty.

It is not difficult to trace many familiar dramatic resemblances in the
Old Testament. Shakspeare, who was certainly well read in the Bible and
frequently quotes it, in the composition of Lear may have had David and
Absalom in mind; the feigned madness of Hamlet has its prototype in that
of David; Macbeth and the Weird Sisters have many traits in common with
Saul and the Witch of Endor. Jezebel is certainly a suggestive study for
Lady Macbeth. The whole story has its key in that verse where we read,
"There was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work
wickedness in the sight of the Lord, _whom Jezebel, his wife, stirred
up_." As in the play, so in this Scripture, we have the unrestrained and
ferocious ambition of the wife conspiring with the equally cruel, but
less hardy ambition of the husband. When Macbeth had murdered sleep,
when he could not screw his courage to the sticking-point, when his
purpose looked green and pale, his wife stings him with taunts, scathes
him with sarcasm, and by her own energy of intellect and storm of will
arouses him to action. So Ahab came in heavy and displeased, and laid
him down on his bed, and turned away his face, and so his wife inflames
him with the sharpness of her rebuke. "Why art thou sad?" she asks.
"Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, eat bread, and be
merry!" The lust of regal and conjugal pride, intermixed, works in both.
Jezebel, whose husband was a king, would crown him with kingly deeds.
Lady Macbeth, whose husband was a prince, would see him crowned a king.
Jezebel would aggrandize empire, which her unlawful marriage thereto had
jeoparded. Lady Macbeth will run the risk of an unlawful marriage with
empire, if she may thereby aggrandize it. Jezebel is insensible to
patriotic feelings,--Lady Macbeth to civil and hospitable duties. The
Zidonian woman braves the vengeance of Jehovah,--the Scotch woman dares
the Powers of Darkness; the one is incited by the oracles of Baal,--the
other by the predictions of witches. Lady Macbeth has more intellectual
force,--Jezebel more moral decision; Lady Macbeth exhibits great
imagination,--Jezebel a stronger will. As the character of Lady Macbeth
is said to be relieved by the affection she shows for her husband, so is
that of Jezebel by her tenderness for Ahab. The grandness of the
audacity with which Jezebel sends after the prophet Elisha, saying, "So
let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life
of one of them by to-morrow about this time," has its counterpart in the
lofty terror of the invocation which Lady Macbeth makes to the "spirits
that wait on mortal thoughts,"--

"Fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop up the access and the passage of remorse!
. . . . Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, ye murdering ministers!"

But the last moments of these excessive characters are singularly
contrasted. Jezebel scoffs at approaching retribution, and, shining with
paint and dripping with jewels, is pitched to the dogs; Lady Macbeth
goes like a coward to her grave, and, curdled with remorse, receives the
stroke of doom.

If Shakspeare and the Old Testament are a just manifestation of human
nature, the New is so different, its representation would seem to be
almost fanciful or fallacious; or if the latter be accepted, the former
would seem to be discarded. But both are faithful to the different ages
and phases of man. The one is a dispensation of force,--the other of
love; the one could make nothing perfect,--but the bringing in of a
better covenant makes all things perfect. Through the tempest and storm,
the brutality and lust of the Greek tragedians, and even of the
barbarous times on which Shakspeare builds many of his plays, through
the night of Judaical back-slidings, idolatry, and carnal commandments,
we patiently wait, and gladly hail the morning of the Sun of
Righteousness. The New Testament is a green, calm, island, in this
heaving, fearful ocean of dramatic interest. How delightful is
everything there, and how elevated! how glad, and how solemn! how
energetic, and how tranquil! What characters, what incident, what
feeling! Yet how different! So different, indeed, from what elsewhere
appears, that we are compelled to ask, Can this be that same old
humanity whose passions, they tell us, are alike in all ages, and the
emphatic turbulence of which constitutes so large a portion of history?

But how shall we describe what is before us? The events open, if we may
draw a term from our subject, with a prologue spoken by angels,--

"Peace on earth, and good-will towards men."

There had been Jezebels and Lady Macbeths enough; the memory of David
still smelt of blood; the Roman eagles were gorging their beaks on human
flesh; and the Samaritan everywhere felt the gnawing, shuddering sense
of hatred and scorn. No chorus appears answering to chorus, praising the
god of battles, or exulting in the achievements of arms; but the
sympathies of Him who was touched with the feeling of our infirmities
answer to the wants and woes of the race, and every thoughtful mind
ecstatically encores. The inexorable Fate of the Greeks does not appear,
but a good Providence interferes, and Heaven smiles graciously upon the
scene. There is passion, indeed, grief and sorrow, sin and
suffering,--but the tempest-stiller is here, who breathes tranquillity
upon the waters, and pours serenity into the turbid deep. The Niobe of
humanity, stiff and speechless, with her enmarbled children, that used
sometimes to be introduced on the Athenian stage for purposes of terror
or pity, is here restored to life, and she renders thanks for her
deliverance and participates in the general joy to which the piece gives
birth. No murderers of the prophets are hewn in pieces before the Lord;
but from the agonies of the cross and the depths of a preternatural
darkness, the tender cry is heard, on behalf of the murderers of the Son
of God, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" No
Alcestis is exhibited, doomed to destruction to save the life of her
husband,--but One appears, moving cheerfully, voluntarily, forwards, to
what may be termed the funeral pile of the world, from which,
phoenix-like, he rises, and gloriously ascends, drawing after him the
hearts, the love, the worship of millions of spectators. The key of the
whole piece is Redemption, the spirit that actuates is Love. The chief
actors, indeed, are Christ and Man; but innumerable subsidiary
personages are the Charities. The elements of a spiritualized existence
act their part. Humanity is not changed in its substance, but in its
tendencies; the sensibilities exist, but under a divine culture. Stephen
is as heroic as Agamemnon, Mary as energetic as Medea. Little children
are no longer dashed in pieces,--they are embraced and blessed.

But let us select for attention, and for a conclusion to these remarks,
a particular scene. It shall be from Luke. This evangelist has been
fabled a painter, and in the apotheosis of the old Church he was made
the tutelar patron of that class of artists. If the individuality of his
conceptions, the skill of his groupings, and the graphicness gave rise
to such an idea, it would seem to have its foundation as well in Nature
as in superstition. Matthew has more detail, more thought; Luke is more
picturesque, more descriptive. John has more deep feeling; Luke more
action, more life. The Annunciation, the Widow of Nain, the Prodigal Son,
the Good Samaritan, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the incident to which
we shall presently advert, are found in Luke alone.

The incident in question is the dining of Christ at the house of Simon
the Pharisee, and, while they were reclining at meat, the entrance of a
woman which was a sinner, who bathes the feet of Jesus with tears, and
wipes them with the hair of her head. The place is the city of Nain; the
hour noon. The _dramatis personae_ are three,--Jesus, Simon, and the
Woman,--and, if we choose to add them, the other guests, who are silent
spectators of what transpires.

Let, us consider, first, the Woman. She "was a sinner." This is all, in
fact, that we know of her; but this is enough. The term "sinner," in
this instance, as in many others, does not refer to the general apostasy
in Adam; it is distinctive of race and habit. She was probably of
heathen extraction, as she was certainly of a dissolute life. The poetry
of sin and shame calls her the Magdalen, and there may be a convenience
in permitting this name to stand. The depth of her depravity Christ
clearly intimates in his allusion to the debtor who owed five hundred
pence, and the language of Simon teaches that the infamy of her life was
well understood among the inhabitants of the city. If a foreigner, she
had probably been brought into the country by the Roman soldiers and
deserted. If a native, she had fallen beneath the ban of respectability,
and was an outcast alike from hope and from good society. She was
condemned to wear a dress different from that of other people; she was
liable at any moment to be stoned for her conduct; she was one whom it
was a ritual impurity to touch. She was wretched beyond measure; but
while so corrupt, she was not utterly hardened. Incapable of virtue, she
was not incapable of gratitude. Weltering in grossness, she could still
be touched by the sight of purity. Plunged into extremest vice, she
retained the damning horror of her situation. If she had ever striven to
recover her lost position, there were none to assist her; the bigotry of
patriotism rejected her for her birth,--the scrupulousness of modesty,
for her history. The night, that consecrated so many homes and gathered
together so many families in innocence and repose, was to her blacker
than its own blackness in misery and turpitude; the morning, that
radiated gladness over the face of the world, revealed the extent and
exaggerated the sense of her own degradation. But the vision of Jesus
had alighted upon her; she had seen him speeding on his errands of
mercy; she hung about the crowd that followed his steps; his tender look
of pity may have sometimes gleamed into her soul. Stricken, smitten,
confounded, her yearnings for peace gush forth afresh. It was as if
Hell, moved by contrition, had given up its prey,--as if Remorse, tired
of its gnawing, felt within itself the stimulus of hope. But how shall
she see Jesus? Wherewithal shall she approach him? She has "nothing to
pay." She has tears enough, and sorrows enough,--but these are derided
by the vain, and suspected by the wise. She has an alabaster box of
ointment, which, shut out as she is from honorable gain, must be the
product and the concomitant of her guilt. But with these she must go. We
see her threading her lonely way through the streets, learning by hints,
since she would not dare to learn by questions, where Jesus is, and
stops before the vestibule of the elegant mansion of Simon the Pharisee.

Who is Simon the Pharisee? Not necessarily a bad man. We associate
whatever is odious in hypocrisy or base in craft with the name Pharisee,
while really it was the most distinguished title among the Jews. Many of
the Pharisees were hypocrites; not all of them. The name is significant
of profession, not of character. He could not have been an unprincipled,
villanous man, or he would never have tendered to Jesus the
hospitalities of his house. Indeed, Christ allows him, in the sense of
moral indebtedness, to owe but fifty pence. He was probably a rich man,
which might appear from the generous entertainment he made. He was a
respectable man. The sect to which he belonged was the most celebrated
and influential among the Jews; and when not debased by positive crime,
a Pharisee was always esteemed for his learning and his piety. He had
some interest in Christ, either in his mission or his character,--an
interest beyond mere curiosity, or he would not have invited him to dine
with him. He betrays a sincere friendliness, also, in his apprehension
lest Christ should suffer any religious contamination.

The third person in the scene is Christ, who, to speak of him not as
theology has interpreted him to us, but as he appeared to the eyes of
his contemporaries, was the reputed son of Joseph and Mary, the
Bethlehemites; who by his words and deeds had attracted much attention
and made some converts; now accused of breaking the Jewish Sabbath, now
of plotting against the Roman sovereignty; one who in his own person had
felt the full power of temptation, and who had been raised to the
grandeur of a transfiguration; so tender he would not bruise the broken
reed, so gentle his yoke was rest; raying out with compassion and love
wherever he went; healing alike the pangs of grief and the languor of
disease; whom some believed to be the Messiah, and others thought a
prophet; whom the masses followed, and the priests feared;--this is the
third member of the company.

The two last, with the other guests, are engaged at their meal, and in
conversation. The door is darkened by a strange figure; all eyes are
riveted on the apparition; the Magdalen enters, faded, distressed, with
long dishevelled hair. She has no introduction; she says nothing;
indeed, in all this remarkable scene she never speaks; her silence is as
significant as it is profound. She goes behind the couch where Jesus,
according to Oriental custom, is reclined. She drops at his feet; there
her tears stream; there the speechless agony of her soul bursts. Observe
the workings of the moment. See how those people are affected. Surprise
on the part of Simon and his friends turns to scorn, and this shades
into indignation. Jesus is calm, collected, and intently thoughtful. The
woman is overwhelmed by her situation. The lip of Simon curls, his eye
flashes with fire of outraged virtue. Jesus meets his gaze with equal
fire, but it is all of pure heavenly feeling. Simon moves to have the
vagabond expelled; Christ interrupts the attempt. But the honor of the
house is insulted. Yes, but the undying interests of the soul are at
stake. But the breath of the woman is ritual poison, and her touch will
bring down the curses of the law. But the look of Christ indicates that
depth of spirituality before which the institutions of Moses flee away
as chaff before the wind. Simon has some esteem for Jesus, and in this
juncture his sensations take a turn of pity, spiced, perhaps, with a
little contempt, and he says with himself,--"Surely, this man cannot be
a prophet, as is pretended, or he would know who and what sort of woman
it is that touches him; for she is a sinner; she is unclean and

"Simon!" says Jesus, with a tone that pierced to the worthy host's
heart, and arrested the force of his pious alarm,--"Simon!"

"Sir, say on," is the reply of the Pharisee, who is awed by this appeal
into an humble listener.

Whereupon Jesus relates the story of the two debtors, and, with
irresistible strength of illustration and delicacy of application,
breaks the prejudice and wins the composure of the Jew. "If, then," he
continues, "he loves much to whom much is forgiven, what shall we say of
one who loves so much?"

"See," he goes on, pointing to the woman, "See this woman,--this wretch.
I entered thy house; thou gavest me no water for my feet; but she has
washed my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. She kisses
my feet; she anoints them with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her
sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much."

This scene, however inadequately it may be set forth, contains all that
is sublime in tragedy, terrible in guilt, or intense in pathos. The
woman represents humanity, or the soul of human nature; Simon, the
world, or worldly wisdom; Christ, divinity, or the divine purposes of
good to us ward. Simon is an incarnation of what St. Paul calls the
beggarly elements; Christ, of spirituality; the woman, of sin. It is not
the woman alone,--but in her there cluster upon the stage all want and
woe, all calamity and disappointment, all shame and guilt. In Christ
there come forward to meet her, love, hope, truth, light, salvation. In
Simon are acted out doting conservatism, mean expediency, purblind
calculation, carnal insensibility. Generosity in this scene is
confronted with meanness, in the attempt to shelter misfortune. The
woman is a tragedy herself, such as Aeschylus never dreamed of. The
scourging Furies, dread Fate, and burning Hell unite in her, and, borne
on by the new impulse of the new dispensation, they come towards the
light, they ask for peace, they throng to the heaven that opens in
Jesus. Simon embodies that vast array of influences that stand between
humanity and its redemption. He is a very excellent, a very estimable
man,--but he is not shocked at intemperance, he would not have slavery
disturbed, he sees a necessity for war. Does Christ know who and what
sort of a woman it is that touches him? Will he defile himself by such a
contact? Can he expect to accomplish anything by familiarity with such
matters? Why is he not satisfied with a good dinner? "Simon!" "Simon!"

The silence of the woman is wonderful, it is awful. What is most
profound, most agitating, most intense cannot speak; words are too
little for the greatness of feeling. So Job sat himself upon the ground
seven days and seven nights, speechless. Not in this case, as is said of
Schiller's Robbers, did the pent volcano find vent in power-words; not
in strong and terrible accents was uttered the hoarded wrath of long
centuries of misrule and oppression. The volcano, raging, aching, threw
itself in silence into the arms of one who could soothe and allay it.
The thunder is noisy and harmless. The lightning is silent,--and the
lightning splits, kills, consumes. Humanity had muttered its thunder for
ages. Its lightning, the condensed, fiery, fatal force of things, leaped
from the blackness of sin, threaded with terrific glare the vision of
man, and, in the person of the woman, fell hot and blasting at the feet
of Jesus, who quenched its fire, and of that destructive bolt made a
trophy of grace and a fair image of hope. She could not speak, and so
she wept,--like the raw, chilling, hard atmosphere, which is relieved
only by a shower of snow. How could she speak, guilty, remorseful
wretch, without excuse, without extenuation? In the presence of divine
virtue, at the tribunal of judgment, she could only weep, she could only
love. But, blessed be Jesus, he could forgive her, he can forgive all.
The woman departs in peace; Simon is satisfied; Jesus triumphs; we
almost hear the applauses with which the ages and generations of earth
greet the closing scene. From the serene celestial immensity that opens
above the spot we can distinguish a voice, saying, "This is my beloved
Son; hear ye him!"

We speak of these things dramatically, but, after all, they are the only
great realities. Everything else is mimetic, phantasmal, tinkling.
Deeply do the masters of the drama move us; but the Gospel cleaves,
inworks, regenerates. In the theatre, the leading characters go off in
death and despair, or with empty conceits and a forced frivolity; in the
Gospel, tranquilly, grandly, they are dismissed to a serener life and a
nobler probation. Who has not pitied the ravings of Lear and the agonies
of Othello? The Gospel pities, but, by a magnificence of plot altogether
its own, by preserving, if we may so say, the unities of heaven and
earth, it also saves.

Of all common tragedy, we may exclaim, in the words of the old play,--

"How like a silent stream shaded with night,
And gliding softly, with our windy sighs,
Moves the whole frame of this solemnity!"

The Gospel moves by, as a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,
from the throne of God and the Lamb; on its surface play the sunbeams of
hope; in its valleys rise the trees of life, beneath the shadows of
which the weary years of human passion repose, and from the leaves of
the branches of which is exhaled to the passing breeze healing for the



There are long stretches in the course of the Connecticut River, where
its tranquil current assumes the aspect of a lake, its sudden bends cut
off the lovely reach of water, and its heavily wooded banks lie silent
and green, undisturbed, except by the shriek of the passing steamer,
casting golden-green reflections into the stream at twilight, and
shadows of deepest blackness, star-pierced, at remoter depths of night.
Here, now and then, a stray gull from the sea sends a flying throb of
white light across the mirror below, or the sweeping wings of a hawk
paint their moth-like image on the blue surface, or a little flaw of
wind shudders across the water in a black ripple; but except for these
casual stirs of Nature, all is still, oppressive, and beautiful, as
earth seems to the trance-sleeper on the brink of his grave.

In one of these reaches, though on either side the heavy woods sweep
down to the shore and hang over it as if deliberating whether to plunge
in, on the eastern bank there is a tiny meadow just behind the
tree-fringe of the river, completely hedged in by the deep woods, and
altogether hidden from any inland road; nor would the traveller on the
river discover it, except for the chimney of a house that peers above
the yellow willows and seems in that desolate seclusion as startling as
a daylight ghost. But this dwelling was built and deserted and
weather-beaten long before the date of our story. It had been erected
and inhabited during the Revolution, by an old Tory, who, foreseeing the
result of the war better than some of his contemporaries, and being
unwilling to expose his person to the chances of battle or his effects
to confiscation, maintained a strict neutrality, and a secret trade with
both parties; thereby welcoming peace and independence, fully stocked
with the dislike and suspicion of his neighbors, and a large quantity of
Continental "fairy-money." So, when Abner Dimock died, all he had to
leave to his only son was the red house on "Dimock's Meadow," and a
ten-acre lot of woodland behind and around the green plateau where the
house stood. These possessions he strictly entailed on his heirs
forever, and nobody being sufficiently interested in its alienation to
inquire into the State laws concerning the validity of such an entail,
the house remained in the possession of the direct line, and in the year
18-- belonged to another Abner Dimock, who kept tavern in Greenfield, a
town of Western Massachusetts, and, like his father and grandfather
before him, had one only son. In the mean time, the old house in Haddam
township had fallen into a ruinous condition, and, as the farm was very
small, and unprofitable chestnut-woodland at that, the whole was leased
to an old negro and his wife, who lived there in the most utter
solitude, scratching the soil for a few beans and potatoes, and in the
autumn gathering nuts, or in the spring roots for beer, with which Old
Jake paddled up to Middletown, to bring home a return freight of salt
pork and rum.

The town of Greenfield, small though it was, and at the very top of a
high hill, was yet the county town, subject to annual incursions of
lawyers, and such "thrilling incidents" as arise from the location of a
jail and a court-room within the limits of any village. The scenery had
a certain summer charm of utter quiet that did it good service with some
healthy people of well-regulated and insensitive tastes. From Greenfield
Hill one looked away over a wide stretch of rolling country; low hills,
in long, desolate waves of pasturage and grain, relieved here and there
by a mass of black woodland, or a red farm-house and barns clustered
against a hill-side, just over a wooden spire in the shallow valley,
about which were gathered a few white houses, giving signs of life
thrice a day in tiny threads of smoke rising from their prim chimneys;
and over all, the pallid skies of New England, where the sun wheeled his
shorn beams from east to west as coldly as if no tropic seas mirrored
his more fervid glow thousands of miles away, and the chilly moon beamed
with irreproachable whiteness across the round gray hills and the
straggling pond, beloved of frogs and mud-turtles, that Greenfield held
in honor under the name of Squam Lake.

Perhaps it was the scenery, perhaps the air, possibly the cheapness of
the place as far as all the necessaries of life went, that tempted Judge
Hyde to pitch his tent there, in the house his fathers had built long
ago, instead of wearing his judicial honors publicly, in the city where
he attained them; but, whatever the motive might be, certain it is that
at the age of forty he married a delicate beauty from Baltimore, and
came to live on Greenfield Hill, in the great white house with a gambrel
roof and dormer windows, standing behind certain huge maples, where
Major Hyde and Parson Hyde and Deacon Hyde had all lived before him.

A brief Northern summer bloomed gayly enough for Adelaide Howard Hyde
when she made her bridal tour to her new home; and cold as she found the
aspect of that house, with its formal mahogany chairs, high-backed, and
carved in grim festoons and ovals of incessant repetition,--its
penitential couch of a sofa, where only the iron spine of a
Revolutionary heroine could have found rest,--its pinched, starved, and
double-starched portraits of defunct Hydes, Puritanic to the very ends
of toupet and periwig,--little Mrs. Hyde was deep enough in love with
her tall and handsome husband to overlook the upholstery of a home he
glorified, and to care little for comfort elsewhere, so long as she
could nestle on his knee and rest her curly head against his shoulder.
Besides, flowers grew, even in Greenfield; there were damask roses and
old-fashioned lilies enough in the square garden to have furnished a
whole century of poets with similes; and in the posy-bed under the front
windows were tulips of Chinese awkwardness and splendor, beds of pinks
spicy as all Arabia, blue hyacinths heavy with sweetness as well as
bells, "pi'nies" rubicund and rank, hearts-ease clustered against the
house, and sticky rose-acacias, pretty and impracticable, not to mention
the grenadier files of hollyhocks that contended with fennel-bushes and
scarlet-flowered beans for the precedence, and the hosts of wild flowers
that bloomed by wood-edges and pond-shores wherever corn or potatoes
spared a foot of soil for the lovely weeds. So in Judge Hyde's frequent
absences, at court or conclave, hither and yon, (for the Judge was a
political man,) it was his pretty wife's chief amusement, when her
delicate fingers ached with embroidery, or her head spun with efforts to
learn housekeeping from old Keery, the time-out-of-mind authority in the
Hyde family, a bad-humored, good-tempered old maid,--it was, indeed, the
little Southerner's only amusement,--to make the polish and mustiness of
those dreary front-parlors gay and fragrant with flowers; and though
Judge Hyde's sense of the ridiculous was not remarkably keen, it was too
much to expect of him that he should do otherwise than laugh long and
loud, when, suddenly returning from Taunton one summer day, he tracked
his wife by snatches of song into the "company rooms," and found her on
the floor, her hair about her ears, tying a thick garland of red
peonies, intended to decorate the picture of the original Hyde, a dreary
old fellow, in bands, and grasping a Bible in one wooden hand, while a
distant view of Plymouth Bay and the Mayflower tried to convince the
spectator that he was transported, among other antediluvians, by that
Noah's ark, to the New World. On either hand hung the little Flora's
great-grandmother-in-law, and her great-grandfather accordingly, Mrs.
Mehitable and Parson Job Hyde, peering out, one from a bushy ornament of
pink laurel-blossoms, and the other from an airy and delicate garland of
the wanton sweet-pea, each stony pair of eyes seeming to glare with
Medusan intent at this profaning of their state and dignity. "Isn't it
charming, dear?" said the innocent little beauty, with a satisfaction
half doubtful, as her husband's laugh went on.

But for every butterfly there comes an end to summer. The flowers
dropped from the frames and died in the garden; a pitiless winter set
in; and day after day the mittened and mufflered schoolboy, dragging his
sled through drifts of heavy snow to school, eyed curiously the wan,
wistful face of Judge Hyde's wife pressed up to the pane of the south
window, its great restless eyes and shadowy hair bringing to mind some
captive bird that pines and beats against the cage. Her husband absent
from home long and often, full of affairs of "court and state,"--her
delicate organization, that lost its flickering vitality by every
exposure to cold,--her lonely days and nights,--the interminable sewing,
that now, for her own reasons, she would trust to no hands but her
own,--conscious incapacity to be what all the women about her were,
stirring, active, hardy housekeepers,--a vague sense of shame, and a
great dread of the future,--her comfortless and motherless
condition,--slowly, but surely, like frost, and wind, and rain, and
snow, beat on this frail blossom, and it went with the rest. June roses
were laid against her dark hair and in her fair hands, when she was
carried to the lonely graveyard of Greenfield, where mulleins and
asters, golden-rod, blackberry-vines, and stunted yellow-pines adorned
the last sleep of the weary wife and mother; for she left behind her a
week-old baby,--a girl,--wailing prophetically in the square bedroom
where its mother died.

Judge Hyde did not marry again, and he named his baby Mehitable. She
grew up as a half-orphaned child with an elderly and undemonstrative
father would naturally grow,--shy, sensitive, timid, and extremely
grave. Her dress, thanks to Aunt Keery and the minister's wife, (who
looked after her for her mother's sake,) was always well provided and
neat, but no way calculated to cultivate her taste or to gratify the
beholder. A district school provided her with such education as it could
give; and the library, that was her resort at all hours of the day,
furthered her knowledge in a singular and varied way, since its lightest
contents were histories of all kinds and sorts, unless one may call the
English Classics lighter reading than Hume or Gibbon.

But at length the district-schoolma'am could teach Mehitable Hyde no
more, and the Judge suddenly discovered that he had a pretty daughter of
fourteen, ignorant enough to shock his sense of propriety, and delicate
enough to make it useless to think of sending her away from home to be
buffeted in a boarding-school. Nothing was left for him but to undertake
her education himself; and having a theory that a thorough course of
classics, both Greek and Latin, was the foundation of all knowledge,
half a score of dusty grammars were brought from the garret, and for two
hours every morning and afternoon little Miss Hitty worried her innocent
soul over conjugations and declensions and particles, as perseveringly
as any professor could have desired. But the dreadful part of the
lessons to Hitty was the recitation after tea; no matter how well she
knew every inflection of a verb, every termination of a noun, her
father's cold, gray eye, fixed on her for an answer, dispelled all kinds
of knowledge, and, for at least a week, every lesson ended in tears.
However, there are alleviations to everything in life; and when the
child was sent to the garret after her school-books, she discovered
another set, more effectual teachers to her than Sallust or the "Graeca
Minora," even the twelve volumes of "Sir Charles Grandison," and the
fewer but no less absorbing tomes of "Clarissa Harlowe"; and every hour
she could contrive not to be missed by Keery or her father was spent in
that old garret, fragrant as it was with sheaves of all the herbs that
grow in field or forest, poring over those old novels, that were her
society, her friends, her world.

So two years passed by. Mehitable grew tall and learned, but knew little
more of the outside world than ever; her father had learned to love her,
and taught her to adore him; still shy and timid, the village offered no
temptation to her, so far as society went; and Judge Hyde was beginning
to feel that for his child's mental health some freer atmosphere was
fast becoming necessary, when a relentless writ was served upon the
Judge himself, and one that no man could evade; paralysis smote him, and
the strong man lay prostrate,--became bedridden.

Now the question of life seemed settled for Hitty; her father admitted
no nursing but hers. Month after month rolled away, and the numb grasp
gradually loosed its hold on flesh and sense, but still Judge Hyde was
bedridden. Year after year passed by, and no change for better or worse
ensued. Hitty's life was spent between the two parlors and the kitchen;
for the room her dead mother had so decorated was now furnished as a
bedroom for her father's use; and her own possessions had been removed
into the sitting-room next it, that, sleeping or waking, she might be
within call. All the family portraits held a conclave in the other
front-parlor, and its north and east windows were shut all the year,
save on some sultry summer day when Keery flung them open to dispel damp
and must, and the school-children stared in reverentially, and wondered
why old Madam Hyde's eyes followed them as far as they could see.
Visitors came now and then to the kitchen-door, and usurped Keery's
flag-bottomed chair, while they gossiped with her about village affairs;
now and then a friendly spinster with a budget of good advice called
Hitty away from her post, and, after an hour's vain effort to get any
news worth retailing about the Judge from those pale lips, retired full
of disappointed curiosity to tell how stiff that Mehitable Hyde was, and
how hard it was to make her speak a word to one! Friends were what Hitty
read of in the "Spectator," and longed to have; but she knew none of the
Greenfield girls since she left school, and the only companion she had
was Keery, rough as the east wind, but genuine and kind-hearted,--better
at counsel than consolation, and no way adapted to fill the vacant place
in Hitty's heart.

So the years wore away, and Miss Hyde's early beauty went with them. She
had been a blooming, delicate girl,--the slight grace of a daisy in her
figure, wild-rose tints on her fair cheek, and golden reflections in her
light brown hair, that shone in its waves and curls like lost sunshine;
but ten years of such service told their story plainly. When Hitty Hyde
was twenty-six, her blue eyes were full of sorrow and patience, when the
shy lids let their legend be read; the little mouth had become pale, and
the corners drooped; her cheek, too, was tintless, though yet round;
nothing but the beautiful hair lasted; even grace was gone, so long had
she stooped over her father. Sometimes the unwakened heart within her
dreamed, as a girl's heart will. Stately visions of Sir Charles
Grandison bowing before her,--shuddering fascinations over the image of
that dreadful Lovelace,--nothing more real haunted Hitty's imagination.
She knew what she had to do in life,--that it was not to be a happy wife
or mother, but to waste by a bedridden old man, the only creature on
earth she loved as she could love. Light and air were denied the plant,
but it grew in darkness,--blanched and unblooming, it is true, but still
a growth upward, toward light.

Ten years more of monotonous patience, and Miss Hyde was thirty-six. Her
hair had thinned, and was full of silver threads; a wrinkle invaded
either cheek, and she was angular and bony; but something painfully
sweet lingered in her face, and a certain childlike innocence of
expression gave her the air of a nun; the world had never touched nor
taught her.

But now Judge Hyde was dead; nineteen years of petulant, helpless,
hopeless wretchedness were at last over, and all that his daughter cared
to live for was gone; she was an orphan, without near relatives, without
friends, old, and tired out. Do not despise me that I say "old," you
plump and rosy ladies whose life is in its prime of joy and use at
thirty-six. Age is not counted by years, nor calculated from one's
birth; it is a fact of wear and work, altogether unconnected with the
calendar. I have seen a girl of sixteen older than you are at forty. I
have known others disgrace themselves at sixty-five by liking to play
with children and eat sugar-plums!

One kind of youth still remained to Hitty Hyde,--the freshness of
inexperience. Her soul was as guileless and as ignorant as a child's;
and she was stranded on life, with a large fortune, like a helmless
ship, heavily loaded, that breaks from its anchor, and drives headlong
upon a reef.

Now it happened, that, within a year after Judge Hyde's death, Abner
Dimock, the tavern-keeper's son, returned to Greenfield, after years of
absence, a bold-faced, handsome man, well-dressed and "free-handed," as
the Greenfield vernacular hath it. Nobody knew where Abner Dimock had
spent the last fifteen years; neither did anybody know anything against
him; yet he had no good reputation in Greenfield. Everybody looked wise
and grave when his name was spoken, and no Greenfield girl cared to own
him for an acquaintance. His father welcomed him home with more surprise
than pleasure; and the whole household of the Greenfield Hotel, as
Dimock's Inn was new-named, learned to get out of Abner Dimock's way,
and obey his eye, as if he were more their master than his father.

Left quite alone, without occupation or amusement, Miss Hyde naturally
grasped at anything that came in her way to do or to see to; the lawyer
who had been executor of her father's will had settled the estate and
gone back to his home, and Miss Hyde went with him, the first journey of
her life, that she might select a monument for her father's grave. It
was now near a year since Judge Hyde's death, and the monument was on
its way from Boston; the elder Dimock monopolized the cartage of freight
as well as passengers to the next town, and to him Miss Hyde intrusted
the care of the great granite pillar she had purchased; and it was for
his father that Abner Dimock called on the young lady for directions as
to the disposal of the tombstone just arrived. Hitty was in the garden;
her white morning-dress shone among the roses, and the morning air had
flushed her pale cheek; she looked fair and delicate and gracious; but
her helpless ignorance of the world's ways and usages attracted the
world-hardened man more than her face. He had not spent a _roue_ life in
a great city for nothing; he had lived enough with gentlemen,
broken-down and lost, it is true, but well-bred, to be able to ape their
manners; and the devil's instinct that such people possess warned him of
Hitty Hyde's weakest points. So, too, he contrived to make that first
errand lead to another, and still another,--to make the solitary woman
depend on his help, and expect his coming; fifty thousand dollars, with
no more incumbrance than such a woman, was worth scheming for, and the
prey was easily snared.

It is not to be expected that any country village of two streets, much
less Greenfield, could long remain ignorant of such a new and amazing
phase as the devotion of any man to any woman therein; but, as nobody
liked to interfere too soon in what might only be, after all, a mere
business arrangement, Greenfield contented itself with using its eyes,
its ears, and its tongues, with one exception to the latter organ's
clatter, in favor of Hitty Hyde; _to_ her no one dared as yet approach
with gossip or advice.

In the mean time Hitty went on her way, all regardless of the seraphs at
the gate. Abner Dimock was handsome, agreeable, gentlemanly to a certain
lackered extent;--who had cared for Hitty, in all her life, enough to
aid and counsel her as he had already done? At first she was half afraid
of him; then she liked him; then he was "so good to me!" and then--she
pitied him! for he told her, sitting on that hard old sofa, in the June
twilight, how he had no mother, how he had been cast upon the charities
of a cruel and evil world from his infancy; reminded her of the old red
school-house where they had been to school together, and the tyranny of
the big boys over him,--a little curly, motherless boy. So he enlarged
upon his life; talked a mildly bitter misanthropy; informed Miss Hyde by
gradual insinuations that she was an angel sent on earth to console and
reform a poor sinner like him; and before the last September rose had
droped, so far had Abner Dimock succeeded in his engineering, that his
angel was astounded one night by the undeniably terrestrial visitation
of an embrace and a respectfully fervid kiss.

Perhaps it would have been funny, perhaps pathetic, to analyze the mixed
consternation and delight of Mehitable Hyde at such _bona-fide_ evidence
of a lover. Poor woman's heart!--altogether solitary and
desolate,--starved of its youth and its joy,--given over to the chilly
reign of patience and resignation,--afraid of life,--without strength,
or hope, or pleasure,--and all at once Paradise dawns!--her cold,
innocent life bursts into fiery and odorous bloom; she has found her
fate, and its face is keen with splendor, like a young angel's. Poor,
deluded, blessed, rapture-smitten woman!

Blame her as you will, indignant maidens of Greenfield, Miss Flint, and
Miss Sharp, and Miss Skinner! You may have had ten lovers and twenty
flirtations apiece, and refused half-a-dozen good matches for the best
of reasons; you, no doubt, would have known better than to marry a man
who was a villain from his very physiognomy; but my heart must needs
grow tender toward Miss Hyde; a great joy is as pathetic as a sorrow.
Did you never cry over a doting old man?

But when Mrs. Smith's son John, a youth of ten, saw, by the light of an
incautious lamp that illuminated a part of the south parlor, a
good-night kiss bestowed upon the departing Abner by Miss Hitty Hyde and
absolutely returned by said Abner, and when John told his mother, and
his mother revealed it to Miss Flint, Miss Flint to Miss Skinner, and so
forth, and so on, till it reached the minister's wife, great was the
uproar in Greenfield; and the Reverend Mrs. Perkins put on her gray
bonnet and went over to remonstrate with Hitty on the spot.

Whether people will ever learn the uselessness of such efforts is yet a
matter for prophecy. Miss Hyde heard all that was said, and replied very
quietly, "I don't believe it." And as Mrs. Perkins had no tangible
proofs of Abner Dimock's unfitness to marry Judge Hyde's daughter, the
lady in question got the better of her adviser, so far as any argument
was concerned, and effectually put an end to remonstrance by declaring
with extreme quiet and unblushing front,--

"I am going to marry him next week. Will you be so good as to notify Mr.

Mrs. Perkins held up both hands and cried. Words might have hardened
Hitty; but what woman that was not half tigress ever withstood another
woman's tears?

Hitty's heart melted directly; she sat down by Mrs. Perkins, and cried,

"Please, don't be vexed with me," sobbed she. "I love him, Mrs. Perkins,
and I haven't got anybody else to love,--and--and--I never shall have.
He's very good to love me,--I am so old and homely."

"Very good!" exclaimed Mrs. Perkins, in great wrath, "_good_! to marry
Judge Hyde's daughter, and--fifty thousand dollars," Mrs. Perkins bit
off. She would not put such thoughts into Hitty's head, since her
marriage was inevitable.

"At any rate," sighed Hitty, on the breath of a long-drawn sob, "nobody
else ever loved me, if I am Judge Hyde's daughter."

So Mrs. Perkins went away, and declared that things had gone too far to
be prevented; and Abner Dimock came on her retreating steps, and Hitty
forgot everything but that he loved her; and the next week they were

Here, by every law of custom, ought my weary pen to fall flat and refuse
its office; for it is here that the fate of every heroine culminates.
For what are women born but to be married? Old maids are excrescences in
the social system,--disagreeable utilities,--persons who have failed to
fulfil their destiny,--and of whom it should have been said, rather than
of ghosts, that they are always in the wrong. But life, with
pertinacious facts, is too apt to transcend custom and the usage of
novel-writers; and though the one brings a woman's legal existence to an
end when she merges her independence in that of a man, and the other
curtails her historic existence at the same point, because the
novelist's catechism hath for its preface this creed,--"The chief end of
woman is to get married"; still, neither law nor novelists altogether
displace this same persistent fact, and a woman lives, in all capacities
of suffering and happiness, not only her wonted, but a double life, when
legally and religiously she binds herself with bond and vow to another

Happy would it have been for Hitty Hyde, if with the legal fiction had
chimed the actual existent fact!--happy indeed for Abner Dimock's wife
to have laid her new joy down at the altar, and been carried to sleep by
her mother under the mulleins and golden-rods on Greenfield Hill! Scarce
was the allotted period of rapture past half its term, scarce had she
learned to phrase the tender words aloud that her heart beat and choked
with, before Abner Dimock began to tire of his incumbrance, and to
invent plans and excuses for absence; for he dared not openly declare as
yet that he left his patient, innocent wife for such scenes of vice and
reckless dissipation as she had not even dreamed could exist.

Yet for week after week he lingered away from Greenfield; even months
rolled by, and, except for rare and brief visits home, Hitty saw no more
of her husband than if he were not hers. She lapsed into her old
solitude, varied only by the mutterings and grumblings of old Keery, who
had lifted up her voice against Hitty's marriage with more noise and
less effect than Mrs. Perkins, and, though she still staid by her old
home and haunts, revenged herself on fate in general and her mistress in
particular by a continual course of sulking, all the time hiding under
this general quarrel with life a heart that ached with the purest
tenderness and pity. So some people are made, like chestnuts; one gets
so scratched and wounded in the mere attempt to get at the kernel
within, that it becomes matter of question whether one does not suffer
less from wanting their affection than from trying to obtain it. Yet
Hitty Dimock had too little love given her to throw away even Keery's
habit of kindness to her, and bore with her snaps and snarls as meekly
as a saint,--sustained, it is true, by a hope that now began to solace
and to occupy her, and to raise in her oppressed soul some glimmer of a
bright possibility, a faint expectation that she might yet regain her
husband's love, a passion which she began in her secret heart to fear
had found its limit and died out. Still, Hitty, out of her meek,
self-distrusting spirit, never blamed Abner Dimock for his absence or
his coldness; rather, with the divine unselfishness that such women
manifest, did she blame herself for having linked his handsome and
athletic prime with her faded age, and struggle daily with the morbid
conscience that accused her of having forgotten his best good in the
indulgence of her own selfish ends of happiness. She still thought, "He
is so good to me!" still idealized the villain to a hero, and, like her
kind, predestined to be the prey and the accusing angel of such men,
prayed for and adored her husband as if he had been the best and
tenderest of gentlemen. Providence has its mysteries; but if there be
one that taxes faith and staggers patience more than another, it is the
long misery that makes a good woman cringe and writhe and agonize in
silence under the utter rule and life-long sovereignty of a bad man.
Perhaps such women do not suffer as we fancy; for after much trial every
woman learns that it is possible to love where neither respect nor
admiration can find foothold,--that it even becomes necessary to love
some men, as the angels love us all, from an untroubled height of pity
and tenderness, that, while it sees and condemns the sin and folly and
uncleanness of its object, yet broods over it with an all-shielding
devotion, laboring and beseeching and waiting for its regeneration,
upheld above the depths of suffering and regret by the immortal power of
a love so fervent, so pure, so self-forgetting, that it will be a
millstone about the necks that disregard its tender clasping now, to
sink them into a bottomless abyss in the day of the Lord.

Now had one long and not unhappy autumn, a lingering winter, a desolate
spring, a weary summer, passed away, and from an all-unconscious and
protracted wrestling with death Hitty Dimock awoke to find her hope
fulfilled,--a fair baby nestled on her arm, and her husband, not
all-insensible, smiling beside her.

It is true, that, had she died then, Abner Dimock would have regretted
her death; for, by certain provisions of her father's will, in case of
her death, the real estate, otherwise at her own disposal, became a
trust for her child or children, and such a contingency ill suited Mr.
Dimock's plans. So long as Hitty held a rood of land or a coin of silver
at her own disposal, it was also at his; but trustees are not women,
happily for the world at large, and the contemplation of that fact
brought Hitty Hyde's husband into a state of mind well fitted to give
him real joy at her recovery.

So, for a little while, the sun shone on this bare New England
hill-side, into this grim old house. Care and kindness were lavished on
the delicate woman, who would scarce have needed either in her present
delight; every luxury that could add to her slowly increasing strength,
every attention that could quiet her fluttering and unstrung nerves, was
showered on her, and for a time her brightest hopes seemed all to have
found fruition.

As she recovered and was restored to strength, of course these cares
ceased. But now the new instincts of motherhood absorbed her, and,
brooding over the rosy child that was her own, caressing its waking, or
hanging above its sleep, she scarce noted that her husband's absences
from home grew more and more frequent, that strange visitors asked for
him, that he came home at midnight oftener than at dusk. Nor was it till
her child was near a year old that Hitty discovered her husband's old
and rewakened propensity,--that Abner Dimock came home drunk,--not drunk
as many men are, foolish and helpless, mere beasts of the field, who
know nothing and care for nothing but the filling of their insatiable
appetite;--this man's nature was too hard, too iron in its moulding, to
give way to temporary imbecility; liquor made him savage, fierce,
brutal, excited his fiendish temper to its height, nerved his muscular
system, inflamed his brain, and gave him the aspect of a devil; and in
such guise he entered his wife's peaceful Eden, where she brooded and
cooed over her child's slumbers, with one gripe of his hard hand lifted
her from her chair, kicked the cradle before him, and, with an awful
though muttered oath, thrust mother and child into the entry, locked the
door upon them, and fell upon the bed to sleep away his carouse.

Here was an undeniable fact before Hitty Dimock, one she could no way
evade or gloss over; no gradual lesson, no shadow of foreboding,
preluded the revelation; her husband was unmistakably, savagely drunk.
She did not sit down and cry;--drearily she gathered her baby in her
arms, hushed it to sleep with kisses, passed down into the kitchen, woke
up the brands of the ash-hidden fire to a flame, laid on more wood, and,
dragging old Keery's rush-bottomed chair in front of the blaze, held her
baby in her arms till morning broke, careless of anything without or
within but her child's sleep and her husband's drunkenness. Long and
sadly in that desolate night did she revolve this new misery in her
mind; the fact was face to face, and must be provided for,--but how to
do it? What could she do, poor weak woman, even to conceal this
disgrace, much more to check it? Long since she had discovered that
between her and her husband there was no community of tastes or
interests; he never talked to her, he never read to her, she did not
know that he read at all; the garden he disliked as a useless trouble;
he would not drive, except such a gay horse that Hitty dared not risk
her neck behind it, and felt a shudder of fear assail her whenever his
gig left the door; neither did he care for his child. Nothing at home
could keep him from his pursuits; that she well knew; and, hopeful as
she tried to be, the future spread out far away in misty horror and
dread. What might not, become of her boy, with such a father's
influence? was her first thought;--nay, who could tell but in some fury
of drink he might kill or maim him? A chill of horror crept over Hitty
at the thought,--and then, what had not she to dread? Oh, for some
loophole of escape, some way to fly, some refuge for her baby's innocent
life! No,--no,--no! She was his wife; she had married him; she had vowed
to love and honor and obey,--vow of fearful import now, though uttered
in all pureness and truth, as to a man who owned her whole heart! Love
him!--that was not the dread; love was as much her life as her breath
was; she knew no interval of loving for the brute fiend who mocked her
with the name of husband; no change or chance could alienate her divine
tenderness,--even as the pitiful blue sky above hangs stainless over
reeking battle-fields and pest-smitten cities, piercing with its sad and
holy star-eyes down into the hellish orgies of men, untouched and
unchanged by just or unjust, forever shining and forever pure. But honor
him! could that be done? What respect or trust was it possible to keep
for a self-degraded man like that? And where honor goes down, obedience
is sucked into the vortex, and the wreck flies far over the lonely sea,
historic and prophetic to ship and shore.

No! there was nothing to do! her vow was taken, past the power of man to
break; nothing now remained but endurance. Perhaps another woman, with a
strong will and vivid intellect, might have set herself to work, backed
by that very vow that defied poor Hitty, and, by sheer resolution, have
dragged her husband up from the gulf and saved him, though as by fire;
or a more buoyant and younger wife might have passed it by as a first
offence, hopeful of its being also the only one. But an instinctive
knowledge of the man bereft Hitty of any such hope; she knew it was not
the first time; from his own revelations and penitent confessions while
she was yet free, she knew he had sinned as well as suffered, and the
past augured the future. Nothing was left her, she could not escape, she
must shut her eyes and her mouth, and only keep out of his way as far as
she could. So she clasped her child more tightly, and, closing her heavy
eyes, rocked back and forth till the half-waked boy slept again; and
there old Keery found her mistress, in the morning, white as the cold
drifts without, and a depth of settled agony in her quiet eyes that
dimmed the old woman's only to look at.

Neither spoke; nor when her husband strode into the breakfast-room and
took his usual place, sober enough, but scarcely regretful of the
over-night development, did any word of reproach or allusion pass the
wife's white lips. A stranger would have thought her careless and cold.
Abner Dimock knew that she was heartbroken; but what was that to him?
Women live for years without that organ; and while she lived, so long as
a cent remained of the Hyde estate, what was it to him if she pined
away? She could not leave him; she was utterly in his power; she was
his,--like his boots, his gun, his dog; and till he should tire of her
and fling her into some lonely chamber to waste and die, she was bound
to serve him; he was safe.

And she offered no sort of barrier to his full indulgence of his will to
drink. Had she lifted one of her slender fingers in warning, or given
him a look of reproachful meaning, or uttered one cry of entreaty, at
least the conscience within him might have visited him with a temporary
shame, and restrained the raging propensity for a longer interval; but
seeing her apparent apathy, knowing how timid and unresisting was her
nature,--that nothing on earth will lie still and be trodden on but a
woman,--Abner Dimock rioted and revelled to his full pleasure, while all
his pale and speechless wife could do was to watch with fearful eyes and
straining ears for his coming, and slink out of the way with her child,
lest both should be beaten as well as cursed; for faithful old Keery,
once daring to face him with a volley of reproaches from her shrill
tongue, was levelled to the floor by a blow from his rapid hand, and
bore bruises for weeks that warned her from interference. Not long,
however, was there danger of her meddling. When the baby was a year and
a half old. Keery, in her out-door labors,--now grown burdensome enough,
since Mr. Dimock neither worked himself nor allowed a man on the
premises,--Keery took a heavy cold, and, worn out with a life of hard
work, sank into rest quickly, her last act of life being to draw Hitty's
face down to her own, wrinkled and wan as it was, scarce so old in
expression as her mistress's, and with one long kiss and sob speak the
foreboding and anxious farewell she could not utter.

"Only you now!" whispered Hitty to her child, as Keery's peaceful,
shrouded face was hidden under the coffin-lid and carried away to
Greenfield Hill. Pitiful whisper! happily all-unmeaning to the child,
but full of desolation to the mother, floating with but one tiny plank
amid the wild wrecks of a midnight ocean, and clinging as only the
desperate can cling to this vague chance of life.

A rough, half-crazed girl, brought from the alms-house, now did the
drudgery of the family. Abner Dimock had grown penurious, and not one
cent of money was given for comfort in that house, scarce for need. The
girl was stupid and rude, but she worked for her board,--recommendation
enough in Mr. Dimock's eyes; and so hard work was added to the other
burdens loaded upon his silent wife. And soon came another,
all-mysterious, but from its very mystery a deeper fear. Abner Dimock
began to stay at home, to be visited at late hours by one or two men
whose faces were full of evil and daring; and when, in the dead of the
long nights, Hitty woke from her broken and feverish sleep, it was to
hear muffled sounds from the cellar below, never heard there before; and
once, wrapping a shawl about her, she stole down the stairways with bare
feet, and saw streams of red light through the chinks of the
cellar-door, and heard the ring of metal, and muttered oaths, all
carefully dulled by such devices as kept the sounds from chance passers
in the street, though vain as far as the inhabitants of the house itself
were concerned. Trembling and cold, she stole back to her bed, full of
doubts and fears, neither of which she dared whisper to any one, or
would have dared, had she possessed a single friend to whom she could
speak. Troubles thickened fast over Hitty; her husband was always at
home now, and rarely sober; the relief his absences had been was denied
her entirely; and in some sunny corner of the uninhabited rooms
up-stairs she spent her days, toiling at such sewing as was needful, and
silent as the dead, save as her life appealed to God from the ground,
and called down the curse of Cain upon a head she would have shielded
from evil with her own life.

Keen human legislation! sightless justice of men!--one drunken wretch
smites another in a midnight brawl, and sends a soul to its account with
one sharp shudder of passion and despair, and the maddened creature that
remains on earth suffers the penalty of the law. Every sense sobered
from its reeling fury, weeks of terribly expectation heaped upon the
cringing soul, and, in full consciousness, that murderer is strangled
before men and angels, because he was drunk!--necessary enough, one
perceives, to the good of society, which thereby loses two worse than
useless members; but what, in the name of God's justice, should His
vicegerent, law, visit upon the man who wrings another life away by slow
tortures, and torments heart and soul and flesh for lingering years,
where the victim is passive and tenacious, and dies only after
long-drawn anguish that might fill the cup of a hundred sudden deaths?
Yet what escapes the vicegerent shall the King himself visit and judge.
"For He cometh! He cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall
he judge the world, and the people with equity."

Six months passed after Keery's death, and now from the heights of
Greenfield and her sunny window Hitty Dimock's white face looked out
upon a landscape of sudden glory; for October, the gold-bringer, had
come, pouring splendor over the earth, and far and wide the forests
blazed; scarlet and green maples, with erect heads, sentinelled the
street, gay lifeguards of autumn; through dark green cedars the crimson
creeper threaded its sprays of blood-red; birches, gilded to their tops,
swayed to every wind, and drooped their graceful boughs earthward to
shower the mossy sward with glittering leaves; heavy oaks turned
purple-crimson through their wide-spread boughs; and the stately
chestnuts, with foliage of tawny yellow, opened wide their stinging
husks to let the nuts fall for squirrel and blue-jay. Splendid sadness
clothed all the world, opal-hued mists wandered up and down the valleys
or lingered about the undefined horizon, and the leaf-scented south wind
sighed in the still noon with foreboding gentleness.

One day, Abner Dimock was gone, and Hitty stole down to the garden-door
with her little child, now just trying to walk, that he might have a
little play on the green turf, and she cool her hot eyes and lips in the
air. As she sat there watching the pretty clumsiness of her boy, and
springing forward to intercept his falls, the influence of sun and air,
the playful joy of the child, the soothing stillness of all Nature,
stole into her heart till it dreamed a dream of hope. Perhaps the
budding blossom of promise might become floral and fruitful; perhaps her
child might yet atone for the agony of the past;--a time might come when
she should sit in that door, white-haired and trembling with age, but as
peaceful as the autumn day, watching the sports of his children, while
his strong arm sustained her into the valley of shadow, and his tender
eyes lit the way.

As she sat dreaming, suddenly a figure intercepted the sunshine, and,
looking up, she saw Abner Dimock's father, the elder Abner, entering the
little wicket-gate of the garden. A strange, tottering old figure, his
nose and chin grimacing at each other, his bleared eyes telling
unmistakable truths of cider-brandy and New England rum, his scant locks
of white lying in confusion over his wrinkled forehead and cheeks, his
whole air squalid, hopeless, and degraded,--not so much by the poverty
of vice as by its demoralizing stamp penetrating from the inner to the
outer man, and levelling it even below the plane of brutes that perish.

"Good-day! good-day!" said he to his son's wife, in a squeaking,
tremulous tone, that drove the child to his mother's arms,--"Abner to

"No, Sir," said Hitty, with an involuntary shudder, that did not escape
the bleared blue eye that fixed its watery gaze upon her.

"Cold, a'n't ye? Better go in, better go in! Come, come along! How d'e
do, little feller? don't know yer grandper, hey?"

The child met his advances with an ominous scream, and Hitty hurried
into the house to give him to the servant's charge, while she returned
to the sitting-room, where the old man had seated himself in the
rocking-chair, and was taking a mental inventory of the goods and
chattels with a momentary keenness in his look that no way reassured
Hitty's apprehensive heart.

"So, Abner a'n't to home?"

"No, Sir."

"Don't know where he's gone, do ye?"

"No, Sir."

"Don't never know where he goes, I expect?"

"No, Sir."

"Well, when he comes home,--know when he's a-comin' home?"

"No, Sir."

"Well, when he doos, you tell him 't some folks come to the tavern last
night, 'n' talked pretty loud, 'n' I heerd--Guess 'ta'n't best, though,
to tell what I heerd. Only you tell Abner 't I come here, and I said
he'd better be a-joggin'. He'll know, he'll know,--h'm, yes," said the
old man, passing his hand across his thin blue lips, as if to drive away
other words better left unsaid,--and then rising from his seat, by the
aid of either arm, gained his balance, and went on, while he fumbled for
his stick:--

"I'd ha' writ, but black and white's a hangin' matter sometimes, 'n'
words a'n't; 'n' I hadn't nobody to send, so I crawled along. Don't ye
forget now! don't ye! It's a pretty consider'ble piece o' business; 'n'
you'll be dreffully on't, ef you do forget. Now _don't_ ye forget!"

"No, I won't," said Hitty, trembling as she spoke; for the old man's
words had showed her a depth of dreadful possibility, and an old
acquaintance with crime and its manoeuvres, that chilled the blood in
her veins. She watched him out of the gate with a sickening sense of
terror at her heart, and turned slowly into the house, revolving all
kinds of plans in her head for her husband's escape, should her fears
prove true. Of herself she did not think; no law could harm her child;
but, even after years of brutality and neglect, her faithful affection
turned with all its provident thoughtfulness and care at once to her
husband; all her wrongs were forgotten, all her sorrows obliterated by
this one fear. Well did St. Augustine say, "God is patient because He is
eternal": but better and truer would the saying have been, had it run,
"God is patient because He is love": a gospel that He publishes in the
lives of saints on earth, in their daily and hourly "anguish of
patience," preaching to the fearful souls that dare not trust His
long-suffering by the tenacious love of those who bear His image,
saying, in resistless human tones, "Shall one creature endure and love
and continually forgive another, and shall I, who am not loving, but
Love, be weary of thy transgressions, O sinner?" And so does the silent
and despairing life of many a woman weave unconsciously its golden
garland of reward in the heavens above, and do the Lord's work in a
strange land where it cannot sing His songs.

The day crept toward sunset, and Hitty sat with her wan face pressed to
the window-pane, hushing her child in his cradle with one of those low,
monotoned murmurs that mothers know; but still her husband did not come.
The level sun-rays pierced the woods into more vivid splendor, burnished
gold fringed the heavy purple clouds in the west, and warm crimson
lights turned the purple into more triumphant glory; the sun set,
unstained with mist or tempest, behind those blue and lonely hills that
guard old Berkshire with their rolling summits, and night came fast,
steel-blue and thick with stars; but yet he did not come, the untouched
meal on the table was untouched still. Hour after hour of starry
darkness crept by, and she sat watching at the window-pane; overhead,
constellations marched across the heavens in relentless splendor,
careless of man or sorrow; Orion glittered in the east, and climbed
toward the zenith; the Pleiades clustered and sparkled as if they missed
their lost sister no more; the Hyades marked the celestial pastures of
Taurus, and Lyra strung her chords with fire. Hitty rested her weary
head against the window-frame and sent her wearier thoughts upward to
the stars; there were the points of light that the Chaldeans watched
upon their plains by night, and named with mystic syllables of their
weird Oriental tongue,--names that in her girlhood she had delighted to
learn, charmed by that nameless spell that language holds, wherewith it
plants itself ineradicably in the human mind, and binds it with fetters
of vague association that time and chance are all-powerless to
break,--Zubeneschamali and Zubenelgunebi, Bellatrix and Betelguese,
sonorous of Rome and Asia both, full of old echoes and the dry resonant
air of Eastern plains,--names wherein sounded the clash of Bellona's
armor, and the harsh stir of palm-boughs rustled by a hot wind of the
desert, and vibrant with the dying clangor of gongs, and shouts of
worshipping crowds reverberating through horrid temples of grinning and
ghastly idols, wet with children's blood.

Far, far away, the heavenly procession and their well-remembered names
had led poor Hitty's thoughts; worn out with anxiety, and faint for want
of the food she had forgotten to take, sleep crept upon her, and her
first consciousness of its presence was the awakening grasp of a rough
hand and the hoarse whisper of her husband.

"Get up!" said he. "Pick up your brat, get your shawl, and come!"

Hitty rose quickly to her feet. One faculty wretchedness gives, the
power of sudden self-possession,--and Hitty was broad awake in the very
instant she was called. Her husband stood beside her, holding a lantern;
her boy slept in the cradle at her feet.

"Have you seen your father?" said she, with quick instinct.

"Yes, d--n you, be quick! do you want to hang me?"

Quick as a spirit Hitty snatched her child, and wrapped him in the
blanket where he lay; her shawl was on the chair she had slept in, her
hood upon a nail by the door, and flinging both on, with the child in
her arms, she followed her husband down-stairs, across the back-yard,
hitting her feet against stones and logs in the darkness, stumbling
often, but never falling, till the shadow of the trees was past, and the
starlight showed her that they were traversing the open fields, now
crisp with frost, but even to the tread,--over two or three of these,
through a pine-wood that was a landmark to Hitty, for she well knew that
it lay between the turnpike-road and another, less frequented, that by
various windings went toward the Connecticut Hue,--then over a tiny
brook on its unsteady bridge of logs, and out into a lane, where a
rough-spoken man was waiting for them, at the head of a strong horse
harnessed to one of those wagons without springs that New-Englanders
like to make themselves uncomfortable in. Her husband turned to her

"Get in," said he; "get in behind; there's hay enough; and don't breathe
loud, or I'll murder you!"

She clambered into the wagon and seated herself on the hay, hushing her
child, who nestled and moaned in her arms, though she had carried him
with all possible care. A sharp cut of the whip sent the powerful horse
off at full speed, and soon this ill-matched party were fast traversing
the narrow road that wound about the country for the use of every farm
within a mile of its necessary course, a course tending toward the

Hour after hour crept by. Worn out with fatigue, poor Hitty dozed and
fell back on the soft hay; her child slept, too, and all her troubles
faded away in heavy unconsciousness, till she was again awakened by her
husband's grasp, to find that dawn was gathering its light roseate
fleeces in the east, and that their flight was for the present stayed at
the door of a tavern, lonely and rude enough, but welcome to Hitty as a
place of rest, if only for a moment. The sullen mistress of the house
asked no questions and offered no courtesy, but, after her guests had
eaten their breakfast, rapidly prepared, she led the way to a bedroom in
the loft, where Abner Dimock flung himself down upon the straw bed and
fell sound asleep, leaving Hitty to the undisturbed care of her child.
And occupation enough that proved; for the little fellow was fretful and
excited, so that no hour for thought was left to his anxious and timid
mother till the dinner-bell awoke her husband and took him downstairs.
She could not eat, but, begging some milk for her boy, tended, and fed,
and sung to him, till he slept; and then all the horrors of the present
and future thronged upon her, till her heart seemed to die in her
breast, and her limbs failed to support her when she would have dragged
herself out of doors for one breath of fresh air, one refreshing look at
a world untroubled and serene.

So the afternoon crept away, and as soon as night drew on the journey
was resumed. But this night was chill with the breath of a sobbing east
wind, and the dim stars foreboded rain. Hitty shivered with bitter cold,
and the boy began to cry. With a fierce curse Abner bade her stop his
disturbance, and again the poor mother had hands and heart full to
silence the still recurring sobs of the child. At last, after the
midnight cocks had ceased to send their challenges from farm to farm,
after some remote church-clocks had clanged one stroke on the damp wind,
they began to pass through a large village; no lights burned in the
windows, but white fences gleamed through the darkness, and sharp gable
ends loomed up against the dull sky, one after another, and the horse's
hoofs flashed sparks from the paved street before the church, that
showed its white spire, spectre-like, directly in their path. Here, by
some evil chance, the child awoke, and, between cold and hunger and
fear, began one of those long and loud shrieks that no power can stop
this side of strangulation. In vain Hitty kissed, and coaxed, and
half-choked her boy, in hope to stop the uproar; still he screamed more
and more loudly. Abner turned round on his seat with an oath, snatched
the child from its mother's arms, and rolled it closely in the blanket.

"Hold on a minute, Ben!" said he to his companion; "this yelp must be


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