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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|THE CENTURY—ITS FRUITS AND ITS FESTIVAL.||1|
|GLIMPSES OF CONSTANTINOPLE.||18|
|THE BALLAD OF THE BELL-TOWER.||31|
|BERLIN AND VIENNA.||32|
|THE ATONEMENT OF LEAM DUNDAS.||46|
|AN OLD HOUSE AND ITS STORY.||79|
|THE WATCH: AN OLD MAN’S STORY.||86|
|TRANSLATIONS FROM HEINE.||116|
|LETTERS FROM SOUTH AFRICA.||116|
|THE LIFE OF GEORGE TICKNOR.||133|
|OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.||141|
|UNVEILING KEATS’S MEDALLION.||145|
|A DINNER WITH ROSSI.||149|
|LITERATURE OF THE DAY.||156|
Fountain of the Catholic total abstinence union.
United states government building.
New Jersey building.
New York building.
Plan of exhibition grounds.
The sultan’s new palace on the bosphorus.
Marble Staircase, palace of BESKIK-Tasch.
Mosque of st. Sophia.
Interior of the mosque of st. Sophia.
POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
V.—Minor structures of the exhibition.
[Illustration: Fountain of the Catholic total abstinence union.]
Compress it as you may, this globe of ours remains quite a bulky affair. The world in little is not reducible to a microscopic point. The nations collected to show their riches, crude and wrought, bring with them also their wants. For the display, for its comfort and good order, not only space, but a carefully-planned organization and a multiplicity of appliances are needed. Separate or assembled, men demand a home, a government, workshops, show-rooms and restaurants. For even so paternal and, within its especial domain, autocratic a sway as that of the Centennial Commission to provide all these directly would be impossible. A great deal is, as in the outer world, necessarily left to private effort, combined or individual.
Having in our last paper sketched the provision made by the management for sheltering and properly presenting to the eye the objects on exhibition, we shall now turn from the strictly public buildings to the more numerous ones which surround them, and descend, so to speak, from the Capitol to the capital.
Our circuit brought us back to the neighborhood of the principal entrance. Standing here, facing the interval between the Main Building and Machinery Hall, our eyes and steps are conducted from great to greater by a group of buildings which must bear their true name of offices, belittling as a title suggestive of clerks and counting-rooms is to dimensions and capacity exceeding those of most churches. Right and left a brace of these modest but sightly and habitable-looking
tower that builders vain,
Presumptuous, piled on Shinar’s plain.
Bricks from Birs Nimroud would have been a good material for the walks. Perhaps, order being the great end, anything savoring of confusion was thought out of place.
[Illustration: Judges’ pavilion.]
Fire is an invader of peace and property, defence against whose destructive forays is one of the first and most constant cares of American cities, old and new, great and small. Before the foundations of the Main Building were laid the means of meeting the foe on the threshold were planned. The Main Building alone contains seventy-five fire-plugs, with pressure sufficient to throw water over its highest point. Adjacent to it on the outside are thirty-three more. Seventy-six others protect Machinery Hall, within which are the head-quarters of the fire service. A large outfit of steam fire-engines, hose, trucks, ladders, extinguishers and other appliances of the kind make up a force powerful enough, one would think, to put out that shining light in the records of conflagration—Constantinople. Steam is kept up night and day in the engines, which, with their appurtenances, are manned by about two hundred picked men. The houses for their shelter, erected at a cost of eight thousand dollars, complete, if we except some architectural afterthoughts in the shape of annexes, the list of the buildings erected by the commission.
[Illustration: Women’s pavilion.]
Place aux dames! First among the independent structures we must note the Women’s Pavilion. After having well earned, by raising a large contribution to the Centennial stock, the privilege of expending thirty-five thousand dollars of their own on a separate receptacle of products of the female head and hand, the ladies selected for that a sufficiently modest site and design. To the trait of modesty we cannot say that the building has failed to add that of grace. In this respect, however, it does not strike us as coming up to the standard attained by some of its neighbors. The low-arched roofs give it somewhat the appearance of a union railway-depot; and one is apt to look for the emergence from the main entrances rather of locomotives than of ladies. The interior, however is more light and airy in effect than the exterior. But “pretty is that pretty does” was a favorite maxim of the Revolutionary dames; and the remarkable energy shown by their fair descendants, under the presidency of Mrs. E. D. Gillespie, in carrying through this undertaking will impart to it new force. The rule is quite in harmony with it that mere frippery should be avoided within and without, and the purely decorative architect excluded with Miss McFlimsey. The ground-plan is very simple, blending the cross and the square. Nave and transept are identical in dimensions, each being sixty-four by one hundred and ninety-two feet. The four angles formed by their intersection are nearly filled out by as many sheds forty-eight feet square. A cupola springs from the centre to a height of ninety feet. An area of thirty thousand square feet strikes us as a modest allowance for the adequate display of female industry. For the filling of the vast cubic space between floor and roof the managers are fain to invoke the aid of an orchestra of the sterner sex to keep it in a state of chronic saturation with music.
[Illustration: United states government building.]
Reciprocity, however, obtains here. The votaries of harmony naturally seek the patronage of woman. Her territorial empire has accordingly far overstepped the narrow bounds we have been viewing. The Women’s Centennial Music Hall on Broad street is designed for all the musical performances connected with the exposition save those forming part of the opening ceremonies. This is assuming for it a large office, and we should have expected so bold a calculation to be backed by floor-room for more than the forty-five hundred hearers the hall is able to seat. A garden into which it opens will accommodate an additional number, and may suggest souvenirs of al-fresco concerts to European travelers.
Nor does the sex extend traces of its sway in this direction alone. A garden of quite another kind, meant for blossoms other than those of melody, and still more dependent upon woman’s nurture, finds a place in the exposition grounds near the Pavilion. Of the divers species of Garten—Blumen-, Thier-, Bier-, etc.—rife in Vaterland, the Kinder- is the latest selected for acclimation in America. If the mothers of our land take kindly to it, it will probably become something of an institution among us. But that is an If of portentous size. The mothers aforesaid will have first to fully comprehend the new system. It is not safe to say with any confidence at first sight that we rightly understand any conception of a German philosopher; but, so far as we can make it out, the Kindergarten appears to be based on the idea of formulating the child’s physical as thoroughly as his intellectual training, and at the same time closely consulting his idiosyncrasy in the application of both. His natural disposition and endowments are to be sedulously watched, and guided or wholly repressed as the case may demand. The budding artist is supplied with pencil, the nascent musician with trumpet or tuning-fork, the florist with tiny hoe and trowel, and so on. The boy is never loosed, physically or metaphysically, quite out of leading-strings. They are made, however, so elastic as scarce to be felt, and yet so strong as never to break. Moral suasion, perseveringly applied, predominates over Solomon’s system. It is a very nice theory, and we may all study here, at the point of the lecture-rod wielded by fair fingers, its merits as a specific for giving tone to the constitution of Young America.
At the side of the Kindergarten springs a more indigenous growth—the Women’s School-house. In this reminder of early days we may freshen our jaded memories, and wonder if, escaped from the dame’s school, we have been really manumitted from the instructing hand of women, or ever shall be in the world, or ought to be.
Is the “New England Log-house,” devoted to the contrasting of the cuisine of this and the Revolutionary period, strictly to be assigned to the women’s ward of the great extempore city? Is its proximity to the buildings just noticed purely accidental, or meant to imply that cookery is as much a female art and mystery as it was a century ago? However this may be, the erection of this temple to the viands of other days was a capital idea, and a blessed one should it aid in the banishment of certain popular delicacies which afflict the digestive apparatus of to-day. This kitchen of the forest epoch is naturally of logs, and logs in their natural condition, with the bark on. The planking of that period is represented by clap-boards or slabs. Garnished with ropes of onions, dried apples, linsey-woolsey garments and similar drapery, the aspect of the walls will remind us of Lowell’s lines:
Crook-necks above the chimly hung,
While in among ’em rusted
The old Queen’s-arm that Gran’ther Young
Brought hack from Concord busted.
The log-house is not by any means an abandoned feature of antiquity. It is still a thriving American “institution” North, West and South, only not so conspicuous in the forefront of our civilization as it once was. It turns out yet fair women and brave men, and more than that—if it be not treason to use terms so unrepublican—the highest product of this world, gentlemen and gentlewomen.
[Illustration: Ohio building.]
Uncle Sam confronts the ladies from over the way, a ferocious battery of fifty-seven-ton Rodman guns and other monsters of the same family frowning defiance to their smiles and wiles. His traditional dread of masked batteries may have something to do with this demonstration. He need not fear, however. His fair neighbors and nieces have their hands full with their own concerns, and leave him undisturbed in his stately bachelor’s hall to “illustrate the functions and administrative faculties of the government in time of peace and its resources as a war-power.” To do this properly, he has found two acres of ground none too much. The building, business-like and capable-looking, was erected in a style and with a degree of economy creditable to the officers of the board, selected from the Departments of War, Agriculture, the Treasury, Navy, Interior and Post-Office, and from the Smithsonian Institution. Appended to it are smaller structures for the illustration of hospital and laboratory work—a kill-and-cure association that is but one of the odd contradictions of war.
The sentiments prevalent in this era of perfect peace, harmony and balance of rights forbids the suspicion of any significance in the fact that the lordly palace of the Federal government at once overshadows and turns its back upon the humbler tenements of the States. A line of these, drawn up in close order, shoulder to shoulder, is ranged, hard by, against the tall fence that encloses the grounds. The Keystone State, as beseems her, heads the line by the left flank. Then come, in due order, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Delaware. New Jersey and Kansas stand proudly apart, officer-like, on the opposite side of the avenue; the regimental canteen, in the shape of the Southern Restaurant, jostling them rather too closely. Somewhat in keeping with the over-prominence of the latter adjunct is the militia-like aspect of the array, wonderfully irregular as are its members in stature and style. Pennsylvania’s pavilion, costing forty thousand dollars, or half as much as the United States building, plays the leading grenadier well; but little Delaware, not content with the obscure post of file-closer, swells at the opposite end of the line into dimensions of ninety by seventy-five feet, with a cupola that, if placed at Dover, would be visible from half her territory.
[Illustration: New Jersey building.]
These buildings are all of wood, with the exception of that of Ohio, which exhibits some of the fine varieties of stone furnished by the quarries of that State, together with some crumbling red sandstone which ought, in our opinion, to have been left at home. All have two floors, save the Massachusetts cottage, a quaint affair modeled after the homes of the past. Virginia ought to have placed by its side one of her own old country-houses, long and low, with attic windows, the roof spreading with unbroken line over a portico the full length of the front, and a broad-bottomed chimney on the outside of each gable. The State of New York plays orderly sergeant, and stands in front of Delaware. She is very fortunate in the site assigned her, at the junction of State Avenue with several broad promenades, and her building is not unworthy so prominent a position.
From the Empire State we step into the domain of Old England. Three of her rural homesteads rise before us, red-tiled, many-gabled, lattice-windowed, and telling of a kindly winter with external chimneys that care not for the hoarding of heat. It is a bit of the island peopled by some of the islanders. They are colonized here, from commissioner in charge down to private, in a cheek-by-jowl fashion that shows their ability to unbend and republicanize on occasion. Great Britain’s head-quarters are made particularly attractive, not more by the picturesqueness of the buildings than by the extent and completeness of her exhibit. In her preparations for neither the French nor the Austrian exposition did she manifest a stronger determination to be thoroughly well represented. Col. H.B. Sanford, of the Royal Artillery, heads her commission.
Japan is a common and close neighbor to the two competitors for her commercial good-will, England and New York. Modern Anglo-Saxondom and old Cathay touch eaves with each other. Hemlock and British oak rub against bamboo, and dwellings which at first sight may impress one as chiefly chimney stand in sharp contrast with one wholly devoid of that feature. The difference is that of nails and bolts against dovetails and wooden pins; of light and pervious walls with heavy sun-repelling roof against close and dense sides and roofs whose chief warfare is with the clouds; of saw and plane that work in Mongol and Caucasian hands in directions precisely reversed. To the carpenters of both England and Japan our winter climate, albeit far milder than usual, was alike astonishing. With equal readiness, though not with equal violence to the outer man, the craftsmen of the two nations accommodated themselves to the new atmospheric conditions. The moulting process, in point of dress, through which the Japanese passed was not untypical of the change the institutions of their country have been undergoing in obedience to similarly stern requirements. It did not begin at quite so rudimental a stage of costume as that of the porters and wrestlers presented to us on fans, admirably adapted as that style might be to our summer temperature. In preparing for that oscillation of the thermometer the English are called on for another change, whereas the Orientals may meet it by simply reverting to first principles.
[Illustration: New York building.]
The delicacy of the Asiatic touch is exemplified in the wood-carving upon the doorways and pediments of the Japanese dwelling. Arabesques and reproductions of subjects from Nature are executed with a clearness and precision such as we are accustomed to admire on the lacquered-ware cabinets and bronzes of Japan. With us, wood has almost completely disappeared as a glyptic material. The introduction of mindless automatic machinery has starved out the chisel. Mouldings are run out for us by the mile, like iron from the rolling-mill or tunes from a musical-box, as cheap and as soulless. Forms innately beautiful thus become almost hateful, because hackneyed. If all the women we see were at once faultlessly beautiful and absolute duplicates of each other in the minutest details of feature, complexion, dress and figure, we should be in danger of conceiving an aversion to the sex. So there is a certain pleasure in tracing in a carven object, even though it be hideous, the patient, faithful, watchful work of the human hand guided at every instant by the human eye. And this Japanese tracery is by no means hideous. The plants and animals are well studied from reality, and truer than the average of popular designs in Europe a century ago, if not now. It is simple justice to add that for workmanlike thoroughness this structure does not suffer in comparison with those around it.
Besides this dwelling for its employes, the Japanese government has in a more central situation, close to the Judges’ Pavilion, another building. The style of this is equally characteristic. Together, the two structures will do what houses may toward making us acquainted with the public and private menage of Japan.
[Illustration: Pennsylvania building.]
In the neat little Swedish School-house, of unpainted wood, that stands next to the main Japanese building, we have another meeting of antipodes. Northern Europe is proud to place close under the eye of Eastern Asia a specimen of what she is doing for education. Sweden has indeed distinguished herself by the interest she has shown in the exposition. At the head of her commission was placed Mr. Dannfeldt, who supervised her display at Vienna. His activity and judgment have obviously not suffered from the lapse of three years. This school-house is attractive for neatness and peculiarity of construction. It was erected by Swedish carpenters. The descendants of the hardy sea-rovers, convinced that their inherited vigor and thrift could not be adequately illustrated by an exclusively in-doors exhibition, sent their portable contributions in a fine steamer of Swedish build, the largest ever sent to sea from the Venice of the North, and not unworthy her namesake of the Adriatic. To compete in two of its specialties with the cradle of the common school and the steamship is a step that tells of the bold Scandinavian spirit.
The contemporaries and ancient foes of the Northmen, who overthrew the Goths on land and checkmated the Vikings in the southern seas, have a memorial in the beautiful Alhambra-like edifice of the Spanish government. Spain has no architecture so distinctive as that of the Moors, and the selection of their style for the present purpose was in good taste. It lends itself well to this class of building, designed especially for summer use; and many other examples of it will be found upon the grounds. The Mohammedan arch is suited better to materials, like wood and iron, which sustain themselves in part by cohesion, than to stone, which depends upon gravitation alone. Although it stands in stone in a long cordon of colonnades from the Ganges to the Guadalquivir, the eye never quite reconciles itself to the suggestion of untruth and feebleness in the recurved base of the arch. This defect, however, is obtrusive only when the weight supported is great; and the Moorish builders have generally avoided subjecting it to that test.
[Illustration: Plan of exhibition grounds.]
Spain also has taken the liberty of widening the range of her contributions. Soldiers, for instance, find no place in the official classification of subjects for exhibition. She naturally thought it worth while to show that the famous infanteria of Alva, Gonsalvo, and Cuesta “still lived.” So she sends us specimens of the first, if not just now the foremost, of all infantry. This microscopic invasion of our soil by an armed force will be useful in reminding us of the untiring tenacity which takes no note of time or of defeat, and which, indifferent whether the struggle were of six, fifty, or seven hundred years, wore down in succession the Saracens, the Flemings and the French.
[Illustration: JAPANESE BUILDING.]
Samples in this particular walk of competition come likewise from the battle-ground of Europe, Belgium sending a detachment of her troops for police duty. We may add that the Centennial has brought back the red-coats, a detachment of Royal Engineers, backed by part of Inspector Bucket’s men, doing duty in the British division.
After these first drops of the military shower one looks instinctively for the gleam of the spiked helmet at the portals of the German building, seated not far from that of Spain, and side by side with that of Brazil. It does not appear, however. Possibly, Prince Bismarck scorns to send his veterans anywhere by permission. Neither does he indulge us, like Brazil, with the sight of an emperor, or even with caesarism in the dilute form of a crown prince. Such exotics do not transplant well, even for temporary potting, in this republican soil. It is impossible, at the same time, not to reflect what a capital card for the treasury of the exposition would have been the catching of some of them in full bloom, as at the openings of 1867 and 1873. A week of Wilhelm would have caused “the soft German accent,” with its tender “hochs!” to drown all other sounds between Sandy Hook and the Golden Gate.
Let us step over the Rhine, or rather, alas! over the Moselle, and look up at the tricolor. It floats above a group of structures—one for the general use of the French commission, another for the special display of bronzes, and a third for another art-manufacture for which France is becoming eminent—stained glass. This overflowing from her great and closely-occupied area in Memorial Hall, hard by, indicates the wealth of France in art. She is largely represented, moreover, in another outlying province of the same domain—photography.
Photographic Hall, an offshoot from Memorial Hall, and lying between it and the Main Building, is quite a solid structure, two hundred and fifty-eight feet by one hundred and seven, with nineteen thousand feet of wall-space. Conceding this liberally to foreign exhibitors, an association of American photographers erected a hall of their own in another direction, upon Belmont Avenue beyond the Judges’ Pavilion. This will serve to exhibit the art in operation under an American sun, and enable our photographers to compare notes and processes with their European fellows, who treat under different atmospheric conditions a wider range of subjects. This is the largest studio the sun, in his capacity of artist on paper, has ever set up, as the hall provided for him by the exposition is the largest gallery he has ever filled. Combined, they may reasonably be expected to bear some fruit in the way of drawing from him the secret he still withholds—the addition of color to light and shade in the fixed images of the camera. This further step seems, when we view within the camera the image in perfect panoply of all its hues, so very slight in comparison with the original discovery of Daguerre, that we can hardly refer it to a distant future.
Questions of finance naturally associate themselves with sitting for one’s portrait, even to the sun. A national bank becomes a necessity to their readier solution, be they suggested by this or any other item of expense. Such an institution has consequently a place in the outfit of the Centennial. Here it stands within its own walls, under its own roof and behind its own counter. The traditional cashier is at home in his parlor, the traditional teller observes mankind from his rampart of wire and glass, and the traditional clerk busy in the rear studies over his shoulder the strange accent and the strange face. Over and above the conveniences for exchange afforded by the bank, it will introduce to foreigners the charms of one of our newest inventions—the greenback. This humble but heterodox device, not pleasant in the eyes of the old school of conservative financiers, is yet unique and valuable as having accomplished the task of absolutely equalizing the popular currency of so large a country as the Union. That gap of twelve or thirteen per cent. between greenbacks and gold is no doubt an hiatus valde deflendus—a gulf which has swallowed up many an ardent and confident
[Illustration: SWEDISH SCHOOL-HOUSE.]
His fiscal affairs brought into comfortable shape, the tourist from abroad may be desirous of seeing more of the United States than is included in the view from the great Observatory. The landscape visible from that point, as he will find after being wound to the top by steam, is not flecked with buffaloes or even the smoke of the infrequent wigwam, as the incautious reader of some Transatlantic books of travel might expect. For the due exploration of at least a portion of the broad territory that lies inside of the buffalo range he needs a railway-ticket and information. These are at his command in the “World’s Ticket and Inquiry Office,” the abundantly comprehensive name of a building near the north-east corner of Machinery Hall. In a central area sixty feet in diameter tickets to every known point are offered to him by polyglot clerks. Here, too, a wholesome interchange of ideas in regard to the merits of the various traveling regulations of different countries may be expected. Baggage-checks or none, compartment or saloon cars, ventilation or swelter in summer, freezing or hot-water-pipes in winter, and other like differences of practice will come under consideration with travelers in general council assembled. Give and take will prevail between our voyagers and railway officials and those of the Old World. Both sides may teach and learn. Should the carriage of goods instead of persons be in question, the American side of the materials for its discussion will be found in the building of the Empire Transportation Company, where the economies of system and “plant,” which have for a series of years been steadily reducing the expenses of railway-traffic until the cost of carrying a ton one mile now falls within one cent, will be fully detailed. A further reduction of this charge may result from the exposition if exhibitors from Europe succeed in explaining to our engineers and machinists how they manage to lighten their cars, and thereby avoid carrying the excess of dead weight which contributes so much to the annihilation of our tracks and dividends.
[Illustration: SPANISH BUILDING.]
The telegraph completes the mastery over space in the conveyance of thought that the railway attains in that of persons and property. Its facilities here are commensurable with its duty of placing thousands of all countries in instantaneous communication with their homes. Those from over-sea will find that, instead of dragging “at each remove a lengthening chain,” they are, on the exposition grounds, in point of intercourse nearer home than they were when half a day out from the port of embarkation, and ten days nearer than when they approached our shores after a sail of three thousand miles. To get out of call from the wire it is necessary to go to sea—and stay there. Another hundred years, and even the seafarer will fail of seclusion. Floating telegraph-offices will buoy the cable. Latitude 40 deg. will “call” the Equator, and warn Grand Banks that “Sargasso is passing by.” Not only will the march of Morse be under the mountain-wave, but his home will be on the deep.
[Illustration: BRITISH BUILDINGS.]
The submarine and terrestrial progress of the telegraph was in ’67 and ’73 already an old story. At the Centennial it presents itself in a new role—that of interpreter of the weather and general storm-detector. This application of its powers is due to American science. Indeed, the requisites for experiments were not elsewhere at command. A vast expanse of unbroken territory comprising many climates and belts of latitude and longitude, and penetrated throughout by the wire under one and the same control, did not offer itself to European investigators. These singular advantages have been well employed by the United States Signal Service within the past five years. Its efforts were materially aided by the antecedent researches of such men as Espy and Maury, the latter of whom led European savants into the recognition of correct theories of both air- and ocean-currents. Daily observations at a hundred stations scattered over the continent, exactly synchronized by telegraph, yielded deductions that steadily grew more and more consistent and reliable, until at length those particularly fickle instruments, the weather-vane, the thermometer, the barometer and the magnetic fluid, have formed, in combination, almost an “arm of precision.” The predictions put forth in the “small hours” each morning by the central office in Washington assume only the modest title of “Probabilities.” Some additional expenditure, with a doubling of the number of stations, would within a few years make that heading more of a misnomer. Meanwhile, the saving of life and property on sea and land already effected is a solid certainty and no mere “probability.” At the station on the exposition grounds the weather of each day, storm or shine, in most of the cities of the Old and New Worlds will be bulletined. “Storm in Vlaenderlandt” will be as surely announced to the Dutch stroller on Belmont Avenue as though he were within hearing of his cathedral bell.
[Illustration: GERMAN BUILDING.]
The commercial idea is so prominent in this, as in all expositions, that it is difficult to draw the line between public and private interest among its different features, and particularly among what may be called its outgrowths, overflowings or addenda. Here is half a square mile dotted with a picturesque assemblage of shops and factories, among which everything may be found, from a soda-fountain or a cigar-stand up to a monster brewery, all devoted at once to the exemplification and the rendering immediately profitable of some particular industry. In one ravine an ornate dairy, trim and Arcadian in its appurtenances and ministers as that of Marie Antoinette and her attendant Phillises at the Petit Trianon, offers a beverage presumably about as genuine as that of ’76, and much above the standard of to-day. A Virginia tobacco-factory checkmates that innocent tipple with “negrohead” and “navy twist.” A bakery strikes the happy medium between the liquid sustenance and the narcotic luxury by teaching Cisatlantic victims of baking-powders and salaeratus how to make Vienna bread. Recurring to fluids, we find unconquered soda popping up, or down, from innumerable fonts—how many, may be inferred from the fact that a royalty of two dollars on each spigot is estimated to place thirty-two thousand dollars in the strong box of the exposition. Nor does this measure the whole tribute expected to be offered at these dainty shrines of marble and silver. The two firms that bought the monopoly of them pay in addition the round sum of twenty thousand dollars. It speaks well for the condition of the temperance cause that beer is the nearest rival of aerated water. An octroi of three dollars per barrel is estimated to yield fifty thousand dollars, or two thousand dollars less than soda-water. Seventy-five thousand dollars is the aggregate fee of the restaurants. Of these last-named establishments, the French have two. The historic sign of the
“Dusty,” did we say? The ceaseless sob of engines that rob the Schuylkill daily of six millions of gallons to sprinkle over asphaltum, gravel and greensward demands recantation of the word. Everything has been foreseen and considered, even the dust of the earth. George’s Hill Reservoir can, on occasion, give the pumps several days’ holiday, and keep all fresh and dewy as the dawn.
Some industries meet us in the Centennial list that are not to be detected in the United States census or any other return we are acquainted with. What train of ideas, for example, is suggested to the average reader by the Roll-Chair Company? The rolling-stock of this association turns out, on inquiry, to be an in-door variety of the conveyance wherein Mrs. Skewton was wont to take the air under the escort of Major Bagstock. It is meant for the relief of those who wish to see everything in the Main Building without trudging eleven miles. Given an effective and economical motive-power, the roll-chair system would seem to meet this want. The reader of Dombey and Son will recollect the pictorial effect, in print and etching, of the popping up of the head of the propellent force when Mrs. S. called a halt, and its sudden disappearance on her directing a resumption of movement. The bobbing up and down of four hundred and fifty heads, like so many seals, will impart a unique aspect to the vista from one of the interior galleries of the great hall. The stipulated tax of forty dollars on each of these vehicles will necessitate a tolerably active undulation of polls if the company is to make both ends meet—granting that a rotatory movement can have an end.
Another startling item is the pop-corn privilege. A business-man of Dayton, Ohio, finds himself justified in venturing the heavy sum of seven thousand dollars on this very light article. Parched corn was well known in Ohio in 1776. The Miamis and Shawnees had, however, a monopoly of it. It composed their commissariat for a campaign against the whites. Such is the progress of the century.
This explosive cereal does not satiate the proverbially sweet tooth of our people. Their craving for confectionery is laid under further contribution by the financial managers of the exposition to the tune, for instance, of five thousand dollars for the privilege of manufacturing chocolate and candy. Dyspepsia insists on asserting its position among the other acquisitions of the century. The treasures of the American bonbonniere are said to be richer and more varied than in any other country. Paris gets up her delicacies of this kind in more tasteful and tempting style, but our consumers care little for such superficial vanities. They look for solid qualities in everything—even in their lollipops.
Another description of fuel, employed for the external and not the internal feeding of the animal machine, and quite as evanescent as candy, claims a factory to itself. This is a French invention called the Loiseau Compressed Fuel. To bring it to Philadelphia, the mart of the anthracite region, would seem to be carrying coals to Newcastle. The relation between demand and supply in fuel is happily, for the present, on too sound a basis to leave much room for artificial substitutes. Our anthracite deposits are circumscribed, but bid fair to last until the virtually untouched seams of bituminous and semibituminous coal shall be made amply accessible to every point of consumption. We are not yet in the slightest perceptible danger of the coal-famine that threatens Great Britain.
In regard to the accommodations provided outside of the exhibition buildings by individual enterprise for the display of various products and processes of manufacture, it will here suffice to say that they notably exceed the corresponding array at any of the European expositions. Illustrations of the social and industrial life of different races and nations are, on the other hand, inferior to what was seen at Vienna and Paris. Mankind and their manners are more homogeneous within an available circle around Philadelphia than around either of those capitals. The rude populations of the lower Danube, the Don, the Caucasus, the Steppes, Albania, Syria, Barbary, etc. cannot be so fully represented here. That they should be, were it practicable, would be more to their advantage than to ours perhaps, the probability being slight that we should deem it desirable to adopt many of their methods. Nor will the eating and drinking of the nations be so variously illustrated as in the cordon of restaurants that so largely contributed to the spectacular effect at Paris. The French genius for the dramatic was quite at home in arranging that part of the display; and they did not allow the full effect to suffer for want of some artificial eking out. The kibaubs, pilau and sherbet that were served up in fine Oriental style were not in all cases prepared by Turks, Persians and Tunisians. The materials were abundant in Paris for these and any other outlandish dainties that might be called for. So were costumers. There was no reason, therefore, why imitations should not be got up capable of serving every purpose, and of giving more amusement than the genuine dishes and divans of Islam would have done. The negro waiters in the American saloon doubtless outnumbered all the other representatives of the dark or semi-civilized races that appeared in a similar character. They proved a success, their genial bearing and ever-ready smile pleasing the mass of the guests more than did the triste and impassive Moslem. The theatrical can just as well be done here, and quant. suff. of Cossacks and Turks be manufactured to order. Then we have John and Sambo in unadulterated profusion; the former ready at the shortest notice and for very small compensation to indoctrinate all comers in the art of plying the chopsticks, and the latter notoriously in his element in the kitchen and the dining-room, and able to aid the chasse-cafe with a song—lord alike of the carving-knife, the cocktail and the castanets.
Water, the simplest, most healthful and most indispensable of all refreshments, is provided without stint and without price. Foreigners are struck with the immense consumption of water as a beverage in this country. They do not realize the aridity of our summer climate, which makes it sometimes as much of a luxury here as it is in the desert. A rill of living water, let it issue from a mossy rift in the hillside or the mouth of a bronze lion, comes to us often like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. We lead fevered lives, too, and this is the natural relief. Fountains are among the first decorations that show themselves in public or private grounds. They give an excuse and a foothold for sculpture, and thus open the way for high art. In the Centennial grounds and in all the buildings upon them, of whatever character, the fountain, in more or less pretentious style, plays its part. Led from the bosom of a thousand hills, drawn from under the foot of the fawn and the breast of the summer-duck, it springs up into the midst of this hurly-burly of human toil and pleasure, the one unartificial thing there, pure and pellucid as when hidden in its mother rock.
It is not remarkable, then, that the most ambitious effort of monumental art upon the exposition grounds should have taken the shape of a fountain. The erection is due to the energy and public spirit of the Catholic Total Abstinence Union. The site chosen is at the extreme western end of Machinery Hall. It looks along Fountain Avenue to the Horticultural Building. Mated thus with that fine building, it becomes a permanent feature of the Park. The central figure is Moses—not the horned athlete we are apt to think of when we associate the great lawgiver with marble, but staid and stately in full drapery. He strikes the rock of Meribah, and water exudes from its crevices into a marble basin. Outside the circular rim of this are equidistantly arranged the rather incongruous effigies of Archbishop Carroll, his relative the Signer, Commodore Barry and Father Mathew. Each of these worthies presides over a small font designed for drinking purposes—unless that of the old sea-dog be salt. The central basin is additionally embellished with seven medallion heads of Catholics prominent in the Revolution, the selections being La Fayette, his wife, De Grasse, Pulaski, Colonel S. Moylan, Thomas Fitzsimmons and Kosciusko. The artist is Hermann Kirn, a pupil of Steinhaeuser, one of the first of the modern romantic school of German sculptors. Kirn is understood to have enjoyed his instructor’s aid in completing the statues in the Tyrol.
Another religious body ranges itself in the cause of art by the side of one with which it does not habitually co-operate. Dr. Witherspoon, the only clerical Signer, is its contribution in bronze. The Geneva gown supplies the grand lines lacking in the secular costume of the period, and indues the patriot with the silken cocoon of the Calvinist. The good old divine had well-cut features, which take kindly to the chisel. The pedestal is of granite.
Of other statues we shall take another occasion to speak. The tinkle of fountains leads us on to Horticultural Hall, where they give life and charm to the flowers. Painted thus in water-colors, the blossoms and leaves of the tropics glow with a freshness quite wonderful in view of the very short time the plants have been in place and the exposure they unavoidably encountered in reaching it. From the interior and exterior galleries of this exquisite structure one can look down, on one side, upon the palms of the Equator and on the other upon the beech and the fir, which interlock their topmost sprays at his feet. Beyond and beneath the silvery beeches railway-trains whisk back and forth, like hares athwart the covert—the tireless locomotive another foil to the strangers from the land of languor and repose.
[Illustration: HORTICULTURAL HALL—INTERIOR.]
The manufacture of a torrid climate on so large a scale will strike the visitor as one of the most curious triumphs of ingenuity in the whole exposition. Moisture is an essential only second in importance to heat. The two must be associated to create the normal atmosphere of most of the vegetation of the central zone. Art, in securing that end, reverses the process of Nature. The heat here is supplied from below and moisture from above, thus transposing the sun and the swamp. In summer, indeed, the sun of our locality, reinforced by glass, will as a rule furnish an ample supply of warmth. Very frequently it will be in excess, and allow the imprisoned strangers the luxury of all the fresh air they can crave. Our summer climate is in this way more favorable than that of Kew, which in turn has the advantage in winter. The inferior amount of light throughout the year and the long nights of winter in a high latitude again operate against the English horticulturists, and leave, altogether, a balance in our favor which ought to make the leading American conservatory the most successful in the world.
Standing by the marble fountain in the great hall, with its attendant vases and statuary, the visitor will not suspect that the pavement beneath his feet is underlaid by four miles of iron pipe four inches in diameter and weighing nearly three hundred tons. Through this immense arterial and venous system circulates the life-blood of the plants, hot water being the vehicle of warmth in winter. These invisible streams will flow when the brooks at the foot of the hill are sealed by frost and the plash of the open-air fountains is heard no longer.
Another current, more conspicuous and abounding—that of hurrying human feet—will make this magnificent conservatory the centre of one of its principal eddies. A second will be the Japanese head-quarters, and a third Memorial Hall. The outlandish and the beautiful in Nature and in art take chief hold of our interest. It wanders elsewhere, but reverts to what typifies the novel and the charming. From the Mongols
It could hardly have been a recognition of carriage-making as one of the fine arts that caused the placing of an immense receptacle for such vehicles in so prominent a position near Memorial Hall. This structure stands opposite the western half of the Main Building. Combined with the annex erected for a like purpose by the Bureau of Agriculture, which covers three acres, it would seem to afford room for specimens of every construction ever placed on wheels since Pharaoh’s war-chariots limbered up for the Red Sea campaign. These collections have no trifling significance as a sign of progress. They are the product of good roads, one of the surest traces of civilization. A century ago, a really good road was almost an unknown thing. So recently as half so long since one of the light equipages now so familiar to us would have been a simple impossibility. What words of ecstasy Dr. Johnson, who pronounced the height of bliss to be a drive over a turnpike of his day in a cranky post-chaise, would have applied to a “spin” in one of these wagons, no imagination can guess.
Let us not boast ourselves over the sages who had the misfortune of living too soon. It would be falling into the same blunder Macaulay ascribed to Johnson in alleging that the philosopher thought the Athenian populace the inferiors of Black Frank his valet, because they could not read and Frank could. Our heads are apt to be turned by our success in throwing together iron, timber, stone and other dead matter. Let us remember that we are still at school, with no near prospect of graduating. Many of our contemporary nations, to say nothing of those who are to come after us, claim the ability to teach us, as their being here proves. The assumption speaks from the stiff British chimneys, the pert gables of the Swedes and the laboriously wrought porticoes of the Japanese. This is well. It would be a bad thing for its own future and for that of general progress could any one people pronounce itself satisfied with what it had accomplished and ready to set the seal to its labors.
We sailed from Trieste in the Venus, one of the Austrian Lloyds, with a very agreeable captain, who had been all over the world and spoke English perfectly. There were very few passengers—only one lady besides myself, and she was a bride on her way to her new home in Constantinople. She was a very pretty young Austrian, only seventeen, but such an old “Turk of a husband” as she had! Her mother was a Viennese, and her father a wealthy Englishman: what could have induced them to marry their pretty young daughter to such a man? He was a Greek by descent, but had always lived in Constantinople. Short, stout, cross-eyed, with a most sinister expression of countenance, old enough to be her father, the contrast was most striking. His wife seemed very happy, however, and remarked in a complacent tone that her husband was quite European. So he was, except that he wore a red fez cap, which was, to say the least, not “becoming” to his “style of beauty.”
We had a smooth passage to Corfu, where we touched for an hour or two. N—— and I went on shore, climbed to the old citadel, and were rewarded with a glorious view of the island and the harbor at our feet. We picked a large bouquet of scarlet geraniums and other flowers which grew wild on the rocks around the old fortress, took a short walk through the town, and returned to our boat loaded with delicious oranges fresh from the trees. Several fine English yachts lay in the harbor. We passed close to one, and saw on the deck three ladies sitting under an awning with their books and work. The youngest was a very handsome girl, in a yacht-dress of dark-blue cloth and a jaunty sailor hat. What a charming way to spend one’s winter! After our taste of the English climate in February, I should think all who could would spend their winters elsewhere; and what greater enjoyment than, with bright Italian skies above, to sail over the blue waters of the Mediterranean, running frequently into port when one felt inclined for society and sight-seeing, or when a storm came on! for the “blue Mediterranean” does not always smile in the sunlight, as we found to our sorrow after leaving Corfu.
Our state-room was on the main deck, with a good-sized window admitting plenty of light and air, and the side of the ship was not so high but we could see over and have a fine view of the high rocky coast we were skirting—so much pleasanter than the under-deck state-rooms, where at best you only get a breath of fresh air and a one-eyed glimpse out of the little port-holes in fine weather, and none at all in a storm. Imagine, therefore, my disgust when, on returning from our trip on shore at Corfu, I found twilight pervading our delightful state-room, caused by an awning being stretched from the edge of the deck overhead to the side of the ship, and under this tent, encamped beneath my window, the lesser wives, children and slaves of an old Turk who was returning to Constantinople with his extensive family! His two principal wives were in state-rooms down below, and invisible. Well, if I had lost the view from my state-room of the grand mountainous coast of Greece, I had an opportunity of studying one phase of Oriental manners and costume at my leisure. There were three pale, sallow-looking women of twenty or twenty-five years of age, with fine black eyes—their only attraction; two old shriveled hags; four fat, comfortable, coal-black slave-women; and several children. They had their fingernails colored yellow, and all, black and white, wore over their faces the indispensable yashmak, and over their dress the ferraja, or cloak, without which no Turkish woman stirs abroad. As it was cold, they wore under their ferrajas quilted sacques of woolen and calico coming down below the knee, and trousers that bagged over, nearly covering their feet, which were cased in slippers, though one of the negresses rejoiced in gorgeous yellow boots with pointed toes. The children had their hair cut close, and wore their warm sacques down to their feet, made of the gayest calico I ever saw—large figures or broad stripes of red, yellow and green. The boys were distinguished by red fez caps, and the girls wore a colored handkerchief as a turban. They covered the deck with beds and thick comforters, and on these they constantly sat or reclined. When it was absolutely necessary a negress would reluctantly rise and perform some required act of service. They had their own food, which seemed to consist of dark-looking bread, dried fish, black coffee and a kind of confectionery which looked like congealed soapsuds with raisins and almonds in it. Most of their waking hours were employed in devouring oranges and smoking cigarettes.
We had rough weather for several days, and the ship rolled a good deal. The captain made us comfortable in a snug corner on the officers’ private deck, where, under the shelter of the bridge, we could enjoy the view. One amusement was to watch the officer of the deck eat his dinner seated on a hatchway just in front of the wheel, and waited on by a most obsequious seaman. The sailor, cap under his arm, would
The Dardanelles were reached very early in the morning. The night before I had declared my intention to go on deck at daylight and view the Hellespont, but when I awoke and found it blowing a gale, I concluded it would not “pay,” and turned in for another nap. All that day we were crossing the Sea of Marmora with the strong current and wind against us, so it was dark before we reached Constantinople, and our ship was obliged to anchor in the outer harbor till the next morning. Seraglio Point rose just before us, and on the left the seven towers were dimly visible in the starlight. We walked the deck and watched the lights glimmer and stream out over the Sea of Marmora, and listened to the incessant barking of the dogs.
Next morning, bright and early, we entered the Bosphorus, rounded Seraglio Point and were soon anchored, with hundreds of other vessels, at the mouth of the Golden Horn. Steam ferryboats of the English kind were passing to and fro, and caiques flitted in and out with the dexterity and swiftness of sea-gulls. Quite a deputation of fez caps came on board to receive the bride and groom, and when we went ashore they were still smoking cigarettes and sipping at what must have been in the neighborhood of their twentieth cup of Turkish coffee. Madame A—— was very cordial when we parted, saying she should call soon upon me, and that I must visit her. We bade adieu to our captain with regret. He was a very intelligent and entertaining man. The officers of the Austrian Lloyd line ought certainly to be very capable seamen. Educated in the government naval schools, they are obliged to serve as mates a certain time, then command a sailing vessel for several years, and finally pass a very strict examination before being licensed as captains of steamers. Amongst other qualifications, every captain acts as his own pilot in entering any port to which he may be ordered. They sail under sealed orders, and our captain said that not until he reached Constantinople would he know the ship’s ultimate destination, or whether he would retain command or be transferred to another vessel. It is the policy of the company seldom to send the same steamer or captain over the same route two successive trips. In time of war both captains and ships are liable to naval duty. As we passed the island of Lissa the captain pointed out the scene of a naval engagement between the Austrians and Italians in 1866, in which he had participated. The salary of these officers is only about a thousand dollars a year.
[Illustration: TURKISH LADY.]
We embarked with our baggage in a caique, which is much like an open gondola, only lighter and narrower, and generally painted in light colors, yellow being the favorite one, and were soon landed at the custom-house. A franc satisfied the Turk in attendance that our baggage was all right, and it was immediately transferred to the back of an ammale, or carrier. These men take the places of horses and carts with us. A sort of pack-saddle is fastened on their backs, and the weights they carry are astonishing. Our ammale picked up a medium-sized trunk as if it was a mere feather: on top of this was put a hat-box, and with a bag in one hand he marched briskly off as if only enjoying a morning constitutional. We made our way through the dirty streets and narrow alleys to the Hotel de Byzance in the European quarter. This is a very comfortable hotel, kept in French style, and most of the attendants speak French. Our chamber_maid_, however, is a man, a most remarkable old specimen in a Turco-Greek dress—long blue stockings and Turkish slippers, very baggy white trousers, a blue jacket, white turban twisted around his fez cap and a voluminous shawl about his waist. His long moustache is quite gray, but his black eyes are keen as a hawk’s, and as he moves quickly and silently about my room, arranging and dusting, I fancy how he would look in the same capacity in our house at home.
Our hotel stands in the Rue de Pera, the principal street of the European quarter, and as it is narrow the lights from the shops make it safe and agreeable to walk out in the evening. This is one of the few streets accessible to carriages, though in some parts it is difficult for two to pass each other. Most of the shops are French and display Paris finery, but the most attractive are the fruit-shops with their open fronts, so you take in their inviting contents at a glance. Broad low counters occupy most of the floor, with a narrow passage leading between from the street to the back part of the shop, and counters and shelves are covered with tempting fruits and nuts. Orange boughs with the fruit on decorate the front and ceiling of the shop, and over all presides a venerable Turk. In the evening the shop is lighted by a torch, which blazes and smokes and gives a still more picturesque appearance to the proprietor and his surroundings. You stand in the street and make your purchases, looking well to your bargains, for the old fellow, with all his dignity, will not hesitate to cheat a “dog of a Christian” if he can. From every dark alley as we walked along several dogs would rush out, bark violently, and after following us a little way slink back to their own quarter again. Each alley and street of the city has its pack of dogs, and none venture on the domain of their neighbors. During the day they sleep, lying about the streets so stupid that they will hardly move; in fact, horses and donkeys step over them, and pedestrians wisely let them alone. After dark they prowl about, and are the only scavengers of the city, all garbage being thrown into the streets. The dogs of Pera have experienced, I suppose, the civilizing effects of constant contact with Europeans, as they are not at all as fierce as those of Stamboul. They soon learn to know the residents of their own streets and vicinity, and bark only at strangers.
Quite a pretty English garden has been laid out in Pera, commanding a fine view of the Bosphorus. There is a coffee-house in the centre, with tables and chairs outside, where you can sip your coffee and enjoy the view at the same time. The Turks make coffee quite differently from us. The berry is carefully roasted and then reduced to powder in a mortar. A brass cup, in shape like a dice-box with a long handle, is filled with water and brought to a boil over a brasier of coals: the coffee is placed in a similar brass dice-box and the boiling water poured on it. This boils up once, and is then poured into a delicate little china cup half the size of an after-dinner coffee-cup, and for a saucer you have what resembles a miniature bouquet-holder of silver or gilt filigree. If you take it in true Turkish style, you will drink your coffee without sugar, grounds and all; but a little sugar, minus the coffee-mud at the bottom, is much nicer. Coffee seems to be drunk everywhere and all the time by the Turks. The cafes are frequent, where they sit curled up on the divans dreamily smoking and sipping their fragrant coffee or hearing stories in the flowery style of the Arabian Nights. At the street corners the coffee-vender squats before his little charcoal brasier and drives a brisk business. If you are likely to prove a good customer at the bazaar, you are invited to curl yourself up on the rug on the floor of the booth, and are regaled with coffee. Do you make a call or visit a harem, the same beverage is immediately offered. Even in the government offices, while waiting for an interview with some grandee, coffee is frequently passed round. Here it is particularly acceptable, for without its sustaining qualities one could hardly survive the slow movements of those most deliberate of all mortals, the Turkish officials.
A few days after our arrival my friend of the steamer, Madame A——, the pretty Austrian bride, invited me to breakfast, and sent her husband’s brother, a fine-looking young Greek, to escort me to her house. He spoke only Greek and Italian—I neither: however, he endeavored to beguile the way by conversing animatedly in Italian. As he gazed up at the sun several times, inhaled with satisfaction the exhilarating air and pointed to the sparkling waters of the Bosphorus and the distant hills, I presumed he was dilating on the fine weather and the glorious prospect. Not to be outdone in politeness, I smiled a great deal and replied to the best of my ability in good square English, to which he always assented, “Yes, oh yes!” which seemed to be all the English he knew. Fortunately, our walk was not long, and Madame A—— was our interpreter during the breakfast. Her husband was absent.
[Illustration: SERAGLIO POINT. GOLDEN HORN.]
The breakfast was half German, half Turkish. Here is the bill of fare: Oysters on the shell from the Bosphorus—the smallest variety I have ever seen, very dark-looking, without much flavor; fried goldfish; a sort of curry of rice and mutton, without which no Turkish meal would be complete; cauliflower fritters seasoned with cheese; mutton croquettes and salad; fruit, confectionery and coffee. With a young housekeeper’s pride, Madame A—— took me over her house, which was furnished in European style, with an occasional touch of Orientalism. In the centre of the reception-room was a low brass tripod on which rested a covered brass dish about the size of a large punch-bowl. In cold weather this is filled with charcoal to warm the room. “Cold comfort,” I should think, when the snow falls, as it sometimes does in Constantinople, and the fierce, cold winds sweep down the Bosphorus from the Black Sea and the Russian steppes. As in all the best houses in Pera, there were bow-windows in the principal rooms of each story. A large divan quite fills each window, and there the Greek and Armenian ladies lean back on their cushions, smoke their cigarettes and have a good view up and down the street. There was a pretty music-room with cabinet piano and harp, and opening from that the loveliest little winter garden. The bow-window was filled with plants, and orange trees and other shrubs were arranged in large pots along the side of the room. The wall at one end was made of rock-work, and in the crevices were planted vines, ferns and mosses. Tiny jets of water near the ceiling kept the top moist, and dripped and trickled down over the rocks and plants till they reached the pebbly basin below. The floor was paved with pebbles—white, gray, black and a dark-red color—laid in cement in pretty patterns, and in the centre was a fountain whose spray reached the glass roof overhead. There were fish in the wide basin around the fountain, which was edged with a broad border of lycopodium. A little balcony opening out of an upper room was covered with vines, and close to the balustrade were boxes filled with plants in full bloom.
[Illustration: THE SULTAN’S NEW PALACE ON THE BOSPHORUS.]
But the housetop was my especial admiration. It was flat, with a stone floor and high parapet. On all four sides close to this were wide, deep boxes where large plants and shrubs were growing luxuriantly. Large vases filled with vines and exotics were placed at intervals along the top of the parapet. Part of the roof was covered with a light wooden awning, and a dumb-waiter connected with the kitchen, so that on warm evenings dinner was easily served in the cool fresh air of the roof. The view from here was magnificent—the Golden Horn, Stamboul with its mosques and white minarets, and beyond the Sea of Marmora. Where a woman’s life is so much spent in the house, such a place for air and exercise is much to be prized, but I fear my pretty Austrian friend will sigh for the freedom of Vienna after the novelty of the East has worn off.
[Illustration: MARBLE STAIRCASE, PALACE OF BESKIK-TASCH.]
Of course we paid a visit to Seraglio Point, whose palmy days, however, have passed away. The great fire of 1865 burned the palace, a large district on the Marmora, and swept around the walls of St. Sophia, leaving the mosque unharmed, but surrounded by ruins. The sultan never rebuilds: it is not considered lucky to do so. Indeed, he is said to believe that if he were to stop building he would die. Seraglio Point has been abandoned by the court, and the sultan lives in a palace on the Bosphorus, and one of the loveliest spots on earth is left to decay. We entered through the magnificent gate of the Sublime Porte, passed the barracks, which are still occupied by the soldiers, visited the arsenal and saw the wax figures of the Janizaries and others in Turkish costume. The upper part of the pleasure-grounds is in a neglected state, and those near the water are entirely destroyed. In one of the buildings are the crown-jewels and a valuable collection of other articles. There were elegant toilet sets mounted in gold; the most exquisitely delicate china; daggers, swords and guns of splendid workmanship and sparkling with jewels; Chinese work and carving; golden dishes, cups and vases, and silver pitchers thickly encrusted with precious stones; horse trappings and velvet hangings worked stiff with pearls, gold and silver thread, bits of coral, and jewels; three emeralds as large as small hen’s eggs, forming the handle of a dirk; and in a large glass case magnificent ornaments for the turban. There must have been thousands of diamonds in these head-pieces, besides some of the largest pearls I have ever seen; a ruby three-quarters of an inch square; four emeralds nearly two inches long; and a great variety of all kinds of precious stones. The handle and sheath of one sword were entirely covered with diamonds and rubies. There were rings and clasps, and antique bowls filled with uncut stones, particularly emeralds. It recalled the tales of the Arabian Nights. The collection is poorly arranged, and the jewels dusty, so that you cannot examine closely or judge very well of the quality. Those I have mentioned interested me most, but there were many elegant articles of European manufacture which had been presented to the sultan by various monarchs. Near the treasury is a very handsome pavilion, built of white marble, one story high, with fine large plate-glass windows. A broad hall runs through the centre, with parlors on each side. The walls were frescoed, and on the handsomely-inlaid and highly-polished floors were beautiful rugs. The divans were gilt and heavy silk damask—one room crimson, one blue and another a delicate buff. A few large vases and several inlaid Japanese cabinets completed the furniture: the Koran does not allow pictures or statuary. The view from the windows, and especially from the marble terrace in front, is one of the finest I have ever seen. The pavilion stands on the highest
[Illustration: MOSQUE OF ST. SOPHIA.]
From the Seraglio we drove to St. Sophia. Stamboul can boast of one fine street, and a few others that are wide enough for carriages. When the government desires to widen a street a convenient fire generally occurs. At the time they proposed to enlarge this, the principal street, it is said the fire broke out simultaneously at many points along the line. As the houses are generally of wood, they burn quickly, and a fire is not easily extinguished by their inefficient fire department. Then the government seizes the necessary ground and widens the street, the owners never receiving any indemnification for their losses. I need not attempt a minute description of St. Sophia. We took the precaution to carry over-shoes, which we put on at the door, instead of being obliged to take off our boots and put on slippers. A firman from the sultan admitted us without difficulty. We admired the one hundred and seventy columns of marble, granite and porphyry, many of which were taken from ancient temples, and gazed up at the lofty dome where the four Christian seraphim executed in mosaic still remain, though the names of the four archangels of the Moslem faith are inscribed underneath them. Behind where the high altar once stood may still be faintly discerned the figure of our Saviour. Several little Turks were studying their Korans, and sometimes whispering and playing much like school-boys at home.
[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE MOSQUE OF ST. SOPHIA.]
The mosques of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan Achmed and Mohammed II. were visited, but next to St. Sophia the mosque which interested me most was one to which we could not gain admittance—a mosque some distance up the Golden Horn, where the sultan is crowned and where the friend of Mohammed and mother of a former sultan are buried. It is considered so very sacred that Christian feet are not allowed to enter even the outer court. As I looked through the grated gate a stout negress passed me and went in. The women go to the mosques at different hours from the men.
Not far from here is a remarkable well which enables a fortune-teller to read the fates of those who consult her. Mr. R——, who has lived for thirty years in Constantinople and speaks Turkish and Arabic as fluently as his own language, told me he was once walking with an effendi to whom he had some months before lent a very valuable Arabic book. He did not like to ask to have it returned, and was wondering how he should introduce the subject when they reached the well. Half from curiosity and half for amusement, he proposed that they should see what the well would reveal to them. The oracle was a wild-looking, very old Nubian woman, and directing Mr. R—— to look steadily down into the well, she gazed earnestly into his eyes to read the fate there reflected. After some minutes she said, “What you are thinking of is lost: it has passed from the one to whom you gave it, and will be seen no more.” The effendi asked what the oracle had said, and when Mr. R—— told him he had been thinking of his book, and repeated what the Nubian had uttered, the effendi confessed that he had lent the book to a dervish and feared it was indeed lost. It was a lucky hit of the old darkey’s, at any rate.
An opportunity came at last to gratify a long-cherished wish by visiting a harem. Madame L——, a French lady who has lived here many years, visits in the harems of several pashas, and invited me to accompany her. I donned the best my trunk afforded, and at eleven o’clock we set out, each in a sedan chair. I had often wondered why the ladies I saw riding in them sat so straight and looked so stiff, but I wondered no longer when the stout Cretans stepped into the shafts, one before and the other behind, and started off. The motion is a peculiar shake, as if you went two steps forward and one back. It struck me as so ludicrous, my sitting bolt upright like a doll in my little house, that I drew the curtains and had a good laugh at my own expense. Half an hour’s ride brought us to the pasha’s house in Stamboul—a large wooden building with closely-latticed windows. We were received at the door by a tall Ethiopian, who conducted us across a court to the harem. Here a slave took our wraps, and we passed into a little reception-room. A heavy rug of bright colors covered the centre of the floor, and the only furniture was the divans around the sides. The pasha’s two wives, having been apprised of our intended visit, were waiting to receive us. Madame L—— was an old friend and warmly welcomed, and as she spoke Turkish the conversation was brisk. She presented me, and we all curled ourselves up on the divans. Servants brought tobacco in little embroidered bags and small sheets of rice paper, and rolling up some cigarettes, soon all were smoking. The pasha is an “old-style” Turk, and frowns on all European innovations, and his large household is conducted on the old-fashioned principles of his forefathers. His two wives were young and very attractive women.
After sitting here a while exchanging the compliments of the day, we passed to the next room, a large saloon with windows and door opening into the court. Here a fountain threw up a sparkling jet of water, and several trees and flowering shrubs, with a profusion of ivy on the walls, made it a very attractive place. The child of the eldest wife, a bright-eyed little boy, was floating chips in the basin of the fountain, laughing and clapping his hands when the falling water upset them or wet his face. The floor was covered with large handsome rugs, and around the sides of the room were luxurious divans: little other furniture seems necessary in a Turkish house. We followed our hostesses’ example and seated ourselves on the divans, though not, as they did, with our feet under us, and refreshments were served on a large gilt salver, in the middle of which was a handsome covered dish of Bohemian glass filled with sweetmeats, with vases on each side to match, one holding queer-shaped little spoons with golden bowls. There were also four glasses of water and four minute glasses of pale yellow cordial. Fortunately, the tray was passed first to Madame L——; so I watched her movements and learned what to do. She took a spoon from one vase, dipped it in the sweetmeats, and after eating placed her spoon in the empty vase. Then she took some water and drank a glass of cordial. So we each did (it is polite to taste but once), and placed the soiled spoon in the vase for that purpose. I did not need to be told that the sweetmeats were rose-leaves, for the flavor was perfectly preserved.
Madame L—— kindly repeated most of the conversation, which, on their sides, was chiefly composed of questions concerning Madame L——’s family: Was her husband as kind as ever? had he made her any presents lately? Was I married? what was my husband’s personal appearance? did I love him? how old was I? where from? and where going? These and similar questions, which are considered perfectly polite and proper, they ask with the curiosity of children.
[Illustration: HAREM SCENE.]
Then we were invited into a third room, where we were served with violet sherbet, cake and Turkish paste. After partaking of these the ladies sent for their jewel-boxes and displayed their treasures, which consisted of pins, earrings, necklaces, head and belt ornaments—some very handsome, and all composed of precious stones of more or less value, for a Turkish woman does not value an ornament that is not set with precious stones. This was an agreeable change from the former conversation, and when we had admired their jewels breakfast was served. The servants brought a scarlet rug of soft shaggy stuff, which was spread on the floor: a low round brass table, two feet high and three feet in diameter, was placed in the centre of this rug, and we four ladies seated ourselves around the table a la Turque. A servant brought a brass basin, which was like an immense wash-bowl with a cullender in it turned upside down: we washed our hands over this, water being poured over them from a large coffee-pot (I should call it) with an unusually long nose, and wiped our hands on handsome towels embroidered at the ends with gold thread. A dish of fried fish was placed on the table for the first course: each helped herself to one, laying it on the table before her (we had no plates, knives or forks), picking it to pieces and eating it with her fingers. When this was ended the debris was thrown on the platter and removed, the table wiped off, and a dish of rice and mutton brought: for this we had spoons, but all ate from the dish. Then came an immense cauliflower covered thick with strange-tasting cheese, and the Turkish ladies used their thumbs and first two fingers in conveying it to their mouths. I am very fond of cauliflower, but this was not inviting. The next course was onions cooked in oil: I had to be excused from this also: the sight of their dripping fingers was enough. Then we washed our hands and ate oranges; washed again, and lighting fresh cigarettes (they had smoked nearly all day), retired to our divans; sipped coffee and listened to an old negress (the story-teller of the harem), who, squatted before us, related marvelous stories in Eastern style. More sweetmeats and confectionery were passed with coffee, and our visit ended. A European woman could not support such a life—at home perfect inactivity, eating, smoking, gossiping, an occasional visit to or from a friend, a trip to the bazaar, and a drive—if they possess a carriage—or a row in a caique to the Sweet Waters on Sunday. This is the life of a Turkish woman of rank.
A note from Madame B—— one morning informed me that the mother and wives of a rich Turkish merchant were coming to visit her, and invited me to be present. I reached her house about eleven, but the Turkish ladies were before me. The appearance of a servant in the hall with her arms full of yashmaks and ferrajas and several pairs of pattens apprised me that I was too late to see their street-dresses. In the reception-room were Madame B——, a lady who acted as interpreter, and the three Turkish ladies. They were uncontaminated by European customs or Paris finery. The mother was exceedingly ugly, as are most Turkish women over forty. A pair of high red morocco boots encased her feet, which were guiltless of stockings. White, full trousers were gathered close at the knee and fell over nearly to her ankles. Her dress was a short purple velvet skirt embroidered round the bottom and up the front with gilt braid in a showy vine pattern; the same embroidery on her black silk jacket, which was open in front, but without any lace; and around her neck was a magnificent string of pearls. Her hair (what there was of it) was drawn back from her face, braided, and the end of the little “pig tail” fastened to her head with a diamond pin composed of four fine diamonds in a clumsy gold setting. Long, pale amber ear-drops completed her adornments, and she flourished—yes, she really did—a large red and yellow bandana! The younger of the two wives was quite pretty. She had brilliant black eyes, good features, and was very attractive in her gay dress. She wore pink slippers, a heavy sky-blue silk skirt with trousers to match, and a yellow velvet sacque open in front, displaying a lace chemisette and a handsome turquoise necklace. Large gold hoops pulled her pretty ears quite out of shape, and her long black hair was braided in broad plaits and tied with a gilt ribbon, which was also wound about her head several times. Altogether, she was quite gorgeous, and rather threw the other wife into the shade. Wife No. 2 was arrayed in a dark-green velvet skirt and a pink silk jacket trimmed with silver braid. She had a garnet necklace and pretty earrings of small pearls and diamonds. Not to be outdone by her mother-in-law on the mouchoir question, she displayed a white muslin handkerchief thickly embroidered with gold thread—more ornamental than useful.
They were all curled up on divans sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes when I entered. Madame B—— presented me, and they received me very graciously, asked my age, examined my clothes and inquired if I had any jewels at home. I wore none, and suppose my black silk walking-suit did not impress them greatly. Dress is of the first importance in their eyes, and that and their husbands are the chief topics of interest when they visit each other. Conversation was not brisk, as the necessity of an interpreter is not favorable for a rapid exchange of ideas. After sitting in this room for an hour, Madame B——
We started for our first visit to the bazaar, crossing the Golden Horn to Stamboul by the old bridge, which has sunk so in places that you feel as if a ground-swell had been somehow consolidated and was doing service as a bridge; up through the narrow streets of Stamboul, now standing aside to let a string of donkeys pass loaded with large stones fastened by ropes to their pack-saddles, or stepping into a doorway to let a dozen small horses go by with their loads of boards, three or four planks being strapped on each side, one end sticking out in front higher than their heads, and the other dragging on the ground, scraping along and raising such a dust you are not at all sure some neighboring lumber-yard has not taken it into its head to walk off bodily. Fruit-venders scream their wares, Turkish officers on magnificent Arab horses prance by, and the crowd of strange and picturesque costumes bewilders you; and through all the noise and confusion glide the silent, veiled women. One almost doubts one’s own identity. I was suddenly recalled to my senses, however, by a gentle thump on the elbow, and turning beheld the head of a diminutive donkey. I supposed it to be a donkey: the head, tail and feet, which were all I could see of it, led me to believe it was one of those much-abused animals. The rest of its body was lost to sight in the voluminous robes of a corpulent Turk; and, as if he were not load enough for one donkey, behind him sat a small boy holding his “baba’s” robe very tight lest he should slide off over the donkey’s tail. I looked around for Bergh or some member of a humane society, but no one except ourselves seemed to see anything unusual. I thought if I were a Hindu and believed in the transmigration of souls, I would pray that, whatever shape my spirit took when it left its present form, it might not enter that of a much-abused and long-suffering donkey.
The bazaar! How shall I describe what so many travelers have made familiar? Some one has called it “a monstrous hive of little shops—thousands under one roof;” and so it is. Each street is devoted to a peculiar kind of merchandise. It would take more than one letter to tell all the beautiful things we saw—cashmere shawls, Brousa silks, delicate gauzes, elegantly-embroidered jackets, dresses, tablecloths, cushions, etc.,
“Five years ago I vowed to Heaven
upon my falchion blade
To build the tower; and to this hour my vow hath not been paid.
“When from the eagle’s nest
I snatched my falcon-hearted dove,
And in my breast shaped her a nest, safe and warm-lined with love,
“Not all the bells in Christendom,
if rung with fervent might,
That happy day in janglings gay had told my joy aright.
“As up the aisle my bride I led
in that triumphant hour,
I ached to hear some wedding-cheer clash from the minster tower.
“Nor chime nor tower the minster
had; so in my soul I sware,
Come loss, come let, that I would set church-bells a-ringing there
“Before a twelvemonth. But
ye know what forays lamed the land,
How seasons went, and wealth was spent, and all were weak of hand.
“And then the yearly harvest failed
(’twas when my boy was born);
But could I build while vassals filled my ears with cries for corn?
“Thereafter happed the heaviest
woe, and none could help or save;
Nor was there bell to toll a knell above my Hertha’s grave.
“Ah, had I held my vow supreme
all hinderance to control,
Maybe these woes—God knows! God knows!—had never crushed my soul.
“Ev’n now ye beg that
I give o’er: ye say the scant supply
Of water fails in lowland vales, and mountain-springs are dry.
“‘Here be the quarried
stones’ (ye grant), ’skilled craftsmen
come at call;
But with no more of water-store how can we build the wall?’
“Nay, listen: Last year’s
vintage crowds our cellars, tun on tun:
With wealth of wine for yours and mine, dare the work go undone?
“Quick! bring them forth, these
mighty butts: let none be elsewhere sold,
And I will pay this very day their utmost worth in gold,
“That so the mortar that cements
each stone within the shrine,
For her dear sake whom God did take, may all be mixed with wine.”
* * * * *
’Twas thus the baron built
his tower; and, as the story tells,
A fragrance rare bewitched the air whene’er they rang the bells.
A merrier music tinkled down when
harvest-days were long:
They seemed to chime at vintage-time a catch of vintage-song;
And when the vats were foamed with
must, if any loitered near
The minster tower at vesper hour, above him he would hear
Tinglings, as of subsiding trills, athwart
the purple gloom,
And every draught of air he quaffed would taste of vineyard bloom.
MARGARET J. PRESTON.
The pre-eminence of London and Paris in the European world is unquestioned, and, so far as we can foresee, permanent. Although England is withdrawing herself more and more from the affairs of the Continent, and becoming a purely insular and quasi-Oriental power—although France has lost the lead in war and politics, and does not seem likely to regain it—yet the capitals of these two countries hold their own. In the accumulation of wealth and population, in science, letters and the arts, London and Paris seem to be out of reach of competition. Other cities grow, and grow rapidly, but do not gain upon them. Even Berlin and Vienna, which have become so conspicuous of late years, will remain what they are—local centres rather than world-centres. The most zealous friend of German and Austrian progress can scarcely claim for Berlin and Vienna, as cities, more than secondary interest. Nevertheless, these minor capitals are not to be overlooked, especially at the present conjuncture. One of them is the residence of the most powerful dynasty in Europe: the other is the base of an aggressive movement which tends to free at last the lower Danube from Mohammedanism. If, as is possible, the courts of Berlin and Vienna should decide to act in concert, if the surplus vitality and population of the German empire, instead of finding its outlet in the Western hemisphere, should be reversed and made to flow to the south-east, we should witness a strange recuscitation of the past. We should behold the Germanic race, after two thousand years of vicissitude, of migration, conquest, subordination and triumph, reverting to its early home, reoccupying the lands from which it started to overthrow Rome. The Eastern question, as it is called, forces itself once more upon the attention of Christendom, and craves an answer. Twenty years ago it was deferred by the interference of France and England. France is now hors de combat, and England has better work elsewhere. Berlin, Vienna and St. Petersburg have the decision in their hands. It would be a waste of time to speculate upon coming events. Even the negotiations plying to and fro at this moment are veiled in the strictest secrecy. Possibly no one of the trio, Bismarck, Andrassy and Gortschakoff,
Their history exhibits in many respects a marked parallelism. Each was founded as a frontier-city, as the outpost of aggressive civilization. Each has shared to the full the vicissitudes of the dynasty to which it was attached. Each has ended in becoming the centre and capital of an extensive empire. On the other hand, the differences between them are no less significant. Vienna is the older of the two. It can claim, in fact, a faint reflex of the glory of the old Roman world, for it was founded as a castrum and military colony by Vespasian in the first century of our era. This ancient Vindobona was the head-quarters of the thirteenth legion, which was replaced in the next century by the more famous tenth, the pia fidelis. Until the fifth century, Vindobona and the neighboring Carnuntum (not far from the modern Pressburg) were the seats of Roman power along the middle Danube. But when the empire fell, they fell with it. For centuries all traces of Vienna are lost. The valley of the Danube was the highway for Goth and Slave, Avar and Hun, who trampled down and ruined as they advanced or receded. Not until the Carolingian era do we find indications of a more stable order of things. The great Carl, having consolidated all the resources of Western Europe under his autocratic will, having crushed the Saracens and subdued the Saxons and Bavarians, resolved to make the Danube as well as the Rhine his own. The idea was stamped with genius, as all his ideas were, and the execution was masterly. The Frankish leudes, with their Saxon and Bavarian auxiliaries, routed the Avars in battle after battle, and drove them back beyond the Raab and the Theiss. The “eastern marches” became, and have remained to this day, the bulwark of Christendom. Carl’s successors in Germany, the Saxon and Franconian emperors, continued the work. In the year 996 we find the word Ostar-rich (OEsterreich) appearing for the first time. From 976 to 1246 the duchies were in the possession of the Babenberg family. In 1276 they were annexed by Rudolph of Habsburg. Ever since then they have constituted the central possession of the house of which he was the founder.
Prior to the middle of the twelfth century Vienna appears to have been a town of little importance. In fact, the precise time when the name Wien first occurs is in dispute. Giesebrecht discovered it in documents purporting to date from the beginning of the eleventh century, but the genuineness of the documents is doubted by most historians. The town is mentioned several times in the Nibelungenlied, and described as existing in the times of Etzel (Attila, king of the Huns). But this is undoubtedly the invention of popular fancy. The Nibelungenlied was put into its present shape between the middle and the end of the twelfth century. The poet has changed more than one feature of the original saga, has blended, not unskillfully, primitive Teutonic myth with historic personages and events of the early Middle Ages, and has interpolated sayings and traditions of his own times. The Viennese of the twelfth century sought, with pardonable vanity, to invest their town with the sacredness of antiquity. But we can scarcely allow their claims. On the contrary, we must deny all continuity between the Vindobona of the fourth and the Wien of the twelfth century. The Roman castrum disappeared, the Babenberg capital appeared, but between the two there is an unexplored gulf. Yet this incipient Vienna, although only the capital of a ducal family that had a hard fight at times for existence, holds an honorable position in the annals of German literature. The Babenberg dukes were generous patrons of the Muses. Their court was frequented by minnesingers and knights-errant. Their praises were sung by Walther von der Vogelweide, Ulrich von Lichtenstein and others. Walther, in his ode to Duke Leopold, has almost anticipated Shakespeare, when he sings—
His largess, like the gentle rain,
Refresheth land and folk.
Vienna and the memorable Wartburg in Thuringia were the acknowledged centres of taste and good breeding. They were the courts of last resort in all questions of style, grammar and versification.
It will not be necessary to follow the growth of Vienna in detail during the last six hundred years. The dangers to which the city was exposed from time to time were formidable. They came chiefly from two quarters—from Bohemia and from Hungaro-Turkey. Charles IV. and Wenzel favored the Bohemians at the expense of the Germans, and preferred Prague to Vienna as a residence. The Czechish nation increased rapidly in wealth and culture until, having embraced the doctrines of Huss, it felt itself strong enough to assert a quasi-independence. The Hussite wars which ensued in the fifteenth century ended in the downfall of Bohemia. But the Austrian duchies, and even Bavaria and Saxony, did not escape without cruel injuries. More than once the fanatic Taborites laid the land waste up to the gates of Vienna. The Reformation, a century later, did not take deep root in Austria. At best it was only tolerated,
The union of Hungary with the house of Habsburg has always been personal rather than constitutional. The Hungarians claimed independence in all municipal and purely administrative matters. Moreover, during the Thirty Years’ war, and even later, a large portion of the land was in possession of the Turks and their allies, the Transylvanians, with whom the Hungarians were in sympathy. The first great siege of Vienna by the Turks was in 1529—the last, and by far the most formidable, in 1683. The city escaped only through the timely assistance of the Poles under Sobieski. Ten years later the tide had changed. The Austrian armies, led by Prince Eugene, defeated the Turks in a succession of decisive battles, and put an end for ever to danger from that quarter. Hungary and Transylvania became permanent Austrian possessions.
Amid such alternations of fortune the growth of Vienna was necessarily slow. In 1714, after six centuries of existence, its population amounted to only 130,000. The city retained all the characteristics of a fortress and frontier-post. The old part, or core, now called the “inner town,” was a compact body of houses surrounded by massive fortification-walls and a deep moat. Outside of this was a rayon or clear space six hundred feet in width, separating the city from the suburbs. These suburbs, Leopoldstadt, Mariahilf, etc., now incorporated with the inner city in one municipal government, were then small detached villages. From time to time the rayon was encroached upon by enterprising builders, with the connivance of the emperor or the garrison commander. The disastrous wars with France at the end of the last century and beginning of the present were in reality a gain to Vienna. Napoleon’s bombardment and capture of the city in 1809, before the battle
The final reconstruction of the city was not begun in earnest until 1857, and occupied ten years or more. The walls were leveled to the ground, the moat was filled in, a broad girdle-street (the Ringstrasse) laid out to encircle the inner city, and the adjacent ground on either side was converted into building-lots. In this brief space of time Vienna was changed from a quasi-mediaeval town to a modern capital of the most pronounced type. The Ringstrasse became a promenade like that of the old Paris boulevards, but broader, grander and lined with palatial edifices no whit inferior to the French. The metamorphosis is so startling that a tourist revisiting the city after an absence of twenty years would have difficulty in persuading himself that he was indeed in the residence of Maria Theresa, Joseph II. and Metternich. No American city can exhibit a like change in the same time. Our cities, although expanding incessantly, have preserved their original features. Even new Chicago, springing from the ashes of the old, has not departed from the former ground-plan and style of building. And no American city can point to a succession of buildings like the Franz Joseph Barracks, the Cur Salon with its charming park, the Grand Hotel and the Hotel Imperial, the Opera-house, the Votive Church, the new Stock Exchange, and the Rudolf Barracks. When the projected House of Deputies, the City Hall, and the University building are completed, the Ring street will deserve to stand by the side of the Rue de Rivoli and the Champs Elysees. The quondam suburbs (Vorstaedte), eight in number, are now one with the city proper. Encircling them is the mur d’ octroi, or barrier where municipal tolls are levied upon articles of food and drink. Outside of this barrier, again, are the suburbs of the future, the Vororte, such as Favoriten, Fuenfhaus, Hernals, etc. The growth of the population is rapid and steady. In 1714 it was 130,000, in 1772 only 193,000. A century later, in 1869, it had risen to 811,000 (including the Vororte); at the present day it can scarcely fall short of 1,000,000.
Not in population and adornment alone has Vienna progressed. Much has been done, or at least projected, for the comfort and health of the residents and for the increase of trade. The entire city has been repaved with Belgian pavement, the houses renumbered after the Anglo-American fashion. The railroads centring in the city are numerous, and the stations almost luxurious in their appointments. But the two chief enterprises are the Semmering aqueduct and the Danube Regulation. The former, begun in 1869 and completed in 1873, would do honor to any city. It is about fifty miles in length, and has a much greater capacity than the Croton aqueduct. The pure, cold Alpine water brought from two celebrated springs near the Semmering Pass, flows into the distributing reservoir on the South Hill, near the Belvedere Palace, at an elevation of one hundred and fifty feet above the city. The pressure is great enough to throw a jet nearly one hundred feet high from the fountain in the Schwarzenberg Square. The Danube Regulation, as its name implies, is an attempt to improve the navigation of the river. The Danube, which in this part of its course has a general flow from north-west to south-east, approaches within a few miles of Vienna. Here, at Nussdorf, it breaks into two or three shallow and tortuous channels, which meander directly away from the city, as if in sheer willfulness, and reunite at the Lobau, as far below the city as Nussdorf is above it. The “regulation” consists in a new artificial channel, cut in a straight line from Nussdorf to the Lobau. In length it is about nine miles, in breadth about twelve hundred feet: the average depth of water will be not less than ten feet. It was begun in 1869 and finished in April, 1875. This new channel, which passes the Leopoldstadt suburb a short distance outside the late exhibition grounds, will render unnecessary the transshipment of goods and passengers at Nussdorf and the Lobau respectively, and will also, it is hoped, prevent the inundations by which the low region to the north of the river has been so often ravaged.
Berlin is inferior to Vienna in antiquity and in variety of incident and association. The capital of the present German empire consisted originally of two small rival towns, or rather villages, standing almost side by side on opposite banks of the Spree. The elder, Coeln, was incorporated as a municipality in 1232: the other, Berlin, is mentioned for the first time in 1244. Both names are of Vendic (Slavic) origin, and designated villages of the hunting and fishing Vends, who were dispossessed by German colonists.
Coeln-Berlin, the marches of Brandenburg, East and West Prussia—in fact, all the now Germanized lands to the east of the Elbe—owe their Teutonic character to a great reflux, a reconquest so to speak, which is barely mentioned in the usual textbooks of German history, yet which is one of the most noteworthy phenomena in the development of modern Europe. At the beginning of the fourth century German tribes (German in the widest sense of the term) occupied the broad expanse from the Rhine to the Dwina and the head-waters of the Dnieper. A century later they had receded as far as the Vistula. Still another century later, about 500, the German linguistic domain was bounded on the east by the Ens, the Bohemian Hills, the upper Main, the Saal and the Elbe. The downfall of the Thuringian kingdom was the occasion of Slavic encroachments even on the left bank of the Elbe between Stendal and Lueneburg. This German recession, which boded the Slavization not only of Eastern but also of Central Europe, was due to various causes, many of which are veiled in the impenetrable darkness which still hangs over the early Middle Ages. The chief causes were undoubtedly the Germanic migration over the Roman world and the settlement of the Franks in Northern Gaul and the Saxons in England.
But with the Carolingian dynasty came a new era. Charles Martel, Pepin and Charlemagne aspired to universal monarchy. Not content with France, Northern Spain, Italy and Germany proper, Charlemagne, as we have already seen, recaptured the middle Danube. His successors in Germany, the Saxon, Franconian and Swabian emperors, continued the impulse, but gave it in the main a different direction. Instead of moving toward the south-east, where they would have encountered stubborn opposition from the already compact Hungarian nationality, they chose for their field of colonization (or recolonization) the east and north-east. Throughout the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries we observe a strong and unremitting tide of German peasants, burghers and knights flowing through and over Brandenburg, Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Silesia, the Prussian duchies, and even into Lithuania, Curland, Livonia and Esthonia. We have here an explanation of the want of interest taken by the Germans in the Crusades. While the kings of England and France, the barons and counts of Brabant and Italy, were wasting their substance and the blood of their subjects in hopeless attempts to overthrow Mohammedanism on its own ground, the Germans were laying the foundations—unconsciously, it is true—of a new empire. The lands wrested from the Slaves were to be the kingdom of Frederick the Great. The work was done thoroughly, almost as thoroughly as the Saxon conquest of Britain. The Obotrites, Wiltzi, Ukern, Prussians, Serbs and Vends were annihilated or absorbed. The only traces of their existence now to be found are the scattered remnants of dialects spoken in remote villages
This apparent digression was necessary to a right understanding of the character of Berlin and its neighborhood in comparison with Vienna. Berlin was at the start a frontier post, but, unlike Vienna, it soon ceased to be one. Colonization and conquest left it far to the rear as an unimportant and thoroughly German town. The border-land of language and race was advanced from the Spree to the Niemen and Vistula. The language of these north-eastern districts is worthy of note. The knights of the Teutonic order were chiefly from South Germany, the inferior colonists from Low Germany of the Elbe, Weser and Rhine. Hence the necessity for a lingua communis, a mode of expression that should adapt itself to the needs of a mixed population. The dialect which proved itself most available was one which stood midway between High (South) and Low (North) German, and which itself might almost be called a linguistic compromise—namely, the Thuringian, and more especially in its Meissen form. This “Middle German," as it was styled, became the official language of Prussia, Silesia and the Baltic provinces. All very marked dialectic peculiarities were discarded one by one, until the residuum became a very homogeneous, uniform and correct mode of conventional speech. It will not surprise us, then, to perceive that the Curlanders, Livonians and Prussians (of the duchies) speak at the present day a more elegant German than the Berlinese, whose vernacular is strongly tinged with Plattdeutsch forms from the lower Elbe. A similar phenomenon is to be observed in our own country. We Americans, taken as a nation, speak a more correct English—i.e., an English freer from dialectic peculiarities—than the English themselves. We have but one conventional form of expression from Maine to California, and whatever lies outside of this may be bad grammar or slang, but is certainly not dialect.
[Footnote 1: The word “Middle” is used here as a geographical term. German philologists arrange the dialects into two main groups—High (South) and Low (North), and prefix to each the terms Old, Middle and New to distinguish epochs in the growth of each. According to this nomenclature, Old = Early, Middle = Late-Mediaeval, New = Modern. The word Middle is unfortunate, as it may designate either age or locality. It designates both locality and age in the text above—i.e., the late-mediaeval form of Middle Germany. In full, it should be “Middle-Middle.” The Meissen dialect, it may be added, was the one adopted by Luther, and is the basis of all modern book-German. (See Rueckert’s Gesch. der neuhochd. Sprache, pp. 168-178.)]
The most important event in the history of the twin municipalities, Coeln-Berlin, was a change of dynasty. In 1415-18, Frederick of Hohenzollern, burgrave of Nuremberg, was invested with the margravate of Brandenburg and the electoral dignity. The Hohenzollerns, a few exceptions aside, have been a thrifty, energetic and successful family. Slowly, but with the precision of destiny, their motto, “From rock to sea”—once apparently an idle boast—has realized itself to the full, until they now stand foremost in Europe. It would pertain rather to a history of the Prussian monarchy than to a sketch like the present to trace, even in outline, the steps by which Brandenburg annexed one after another the Prussian duchies of the Teutonic order, Pomerania, Silesia, the province of Saxony, Westphalia, and in our own days Hanover and Hesse-Cassel. So far as Berlin is concerned, it will suffice to state that its history is not rich in episode or in marked characters. It long remained the obscure capital of a dynasty which the Guelfs and Habsburgs were pleased to look down upon as parvenu. During the Thirty Years’ war, in which Brandenburg played such a pitiable part, Berlin was on the verge of extinction. By 1640 its population had been reduced to 6000. Even the great elector, passing his life in warfare, could do but little for his capital. His successor, Frederick I., the first king of the Prussians, was more fortunate. To him the city is indebted for most of its present features. He was the originator of the Friederichsstadt, the Friederichsstrasse, the Dorotheenstadt, the continuation of the Linden to the Thiergarten, the arsenal, and the final shaping of the old castle. In 1712 the population was 61,000. The wars of Frederick the Great, brought to a triumphal issue, made Berlin more and more a centre of trade and industry. To all who could look beyond the clouds of political controversy and prejudice it was evident that Berlin was destined to become the leading city of North Germany and the worthy rival of Vienna. Even the humiliation of Jena and the subsequent occupation by Napoleon were only transitory. Berlin, not being a fortified city, was spared at least the misery of a siege. After the downfall of Napoleon, Prussia and its capital resumed their mission of absorption and expansion. The “Customs Union” accelerated the pace. In 1862 the population was 480,000; in 1867, 702,437; in 1871, 826,341. At present it is in excess of Vienna. The Austrian and French wars have given to its growth an almost feverish impulse.
[Footnote 2: The Friederichsstadt and Dorotheenstadt are those parts of the town with which the tourist is most familiar as places of residence and shopping; Coeln is the island on which stand the castle and the two museums; Old Berlin is the part beyond the Spree.]
A comparison of Berlin and Vienna in their present state will suggest many reflections. We have seen that they resemble each other in origin, rate of growth and actual size. In their composition, however, they differ widely. The population of Berlin is homogeneous, devotedly attached to the Hohenzollern dynasty, enterprising in trade and manufactures, thrifty and economical. It spends far less than it earns. For upward of half a century it has been subjected to the most careful military and scientific training. Moreover, Berlin is the geographical and political centre of a thoroughly homogeneous realm. We cannot afford to encourage any delusions on this point. It has become of late the fashion among certain French writers and their imitators to sneer at the Prussians as semi-Slaves, to call them Borussians, and contrast them with the so-called Germans proper of Bavaria, Swabia and the Rhine; whereas the fact of ethnography is that the Prussians are an amalgamation of the best—that is, the hardiest and most enterprising—elements of all the German districts. The purest blood and the most active brains of the old empire left their homes on the Main and the Weser to colonize and conquer under the leadership of the Teutonic order. The few drops of Slavic blood are nothing in comparison. Slavic names of towns and villages do not prove Slavic descent; else, by like reasoning, we should have to pronounce “France” and “French” words implying German blood, and “Normandy” an expression for Norse lineage. So far from being composite, Berlin is ultra German. It is more national, in this sense, than Dresden, where the Saxon court was for generations Polish in tastes and sympathies, and where English and American residents constitute at this day a perceptible element; more so than Bremen and Hamburg, which are entrepots for foreign commerce; more so than Frankfort, with its French affiliations. The few Polish noblemen and workmen from Posen only serve to relieve the otherwise monotonous German type of the city. The French culture assumed by Frederick the Great and his contemporaries was a mere surface varnish, a passing fashion that left the underlying structure intact. Furthermore, Berlin is profoundly Protestant. The Reformation was accepted here with enthusiasm, and its adoption was more of a folk-movement than elsewhere, Thuringia alone excepted. By virtue of its Protestantism, then, Berlin is accessible to liberal ideas and capable of placing itself in the van of progress without breaking abruptly with the past. Its liberalism, unlike that of Catholic Paris, does not lead to radicalism or communism. Finally, it is to be borne in mind that Berlin, having become the official capital, must
On almost all the points above indicated Vienna is the direct opposite of Berlin. It is not homogeneous in itself, neither is it the centre of a homogeneous empire; its population is not thrifty nor enterprising; it is Catholic, and not Protestant. The Hohenzollerns have achieved their success by hard fighting. With the exception of the original marches of Brandenburg there is scarcely a district in the kingdom of Prussia that has not been wrested from some enemy and held as the spoils of war. This policy of forcible annexation or robbery, as the historian may be pleased to call it—while inconsistent with principles of equity, has had nevertheless its marked advantages. Perceiving that the sword alone could keep what the sword had won, the Hohenzollerns have ever striven to identify their dynastic interests with the well-being of their people, to make their regime one of order and improvement, to repress the power of the nobility without crushing its spirit, to adjust a satisfactory compromise between centralization and local independence, and to stamp their own uncompromising spirit upon each individual subject. Hence their success in creating a nation out of provinces. Every Prussian has always felt that he was a member of one indissoluble commonwealth. The Habsburgs, on the contrary, have grown great through marriage. Their policy is aptly expressed in the oft-quoted phrase, Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube. Regarding their sway as a matter of hereditary succession and divine right, they have been content to let each province or kingdom remain as it was when acquired, an isolated Crown dependency. They have not put forth serious and persistent efforts to weld the Tyrol, the Austrian duchies, Bohemia, Galicia, much less Hungary, in one compact realm. They have done even worse. They have committed repeatedly a blunder which the Hohenzollerns, even in their darkest days, never so
Vienna is a faithful reflex in miniature of Austria in general. The heedless or untrained tourist, misled by names and language and the outward forms of intercourse, may pronounce the city a most delightful German capital: he may congratulate himself upon the opportunity it gives him of reviving his reminiscences of the old German emperors and contrasting their times with the present. But the tourist, were he to go beneath the surface, would discover that he is treading upon peculiar ground. We have only to scratch the Viennese to find something that is not German. We shall discover beneath the surface Hungarian, or Slavic, or Italian blood. A very large portion of the population, perhaps even the greater portion, speaks two, three or four languages with equal facility. New York excepted, no great city will compare with Vienna for medley of speech and race. The truth is, that the city still retains its early character as a frontier-post, or, to speak more correctly, it is the focus where the currents from North-eastern Italy, South-eastern Germany, Bohemia, Galicia and Hungary converge without thoroughly intermingling. The conventional German used by the middle and lower classes is interspersed with terms borrowed from the other languages, with dialectic idioms, provincialisms and peculiarities of pronunciation that cause it to sound like an unfamiliar tongue.
In outward appearance the city is not less diversified than in population. The gay bustle of the streets, the incessant roll of fiacres, the style of dress, the crowded cafes remind one more of Paris than of Germany. The cuisine and ways of living and the architecture here and there have borrowed freely from Italy and France. A certain fondness for gorgeous coloring and profuse ornamentation is due to Hungarian influence. The bulbous cupolas surmounted with sharply tapering spires, irreverently nicknamed Zwiebel-Thuerme ("onion-towers"), are evidently stragglers from Byzantium, and contrast sharply with the rich Gothic of St. Stephen’s and the new Votive Church. By the side of Vienna, Berlin is painfully monotonous. Few of the public buildings can be called handsome, or even picturesque. The plaster used for the outer coating of the houses is apt to discolor or flake off, so that the general aspect is that of premature age. Worthy of note is the new city hall, a successful effort to make an imposing and elegant structure of brick. In the neighborhood of the Thiergarten the private residences evince taste and refinement. Taken all in all, Berlin has not yet shaken off its provincialism, and is far behind Vienna in drainage, water-supply and paving. The Berlinese have much to do and undo before they can rightfully call their city a Weltstadt.
In the matter of economy, at least, they are worthy of all praise. No other community spends less in proportion to its income. From the emperor down, each person seems to count his pence. This self-denial, which borders at times on parsimony, is the result of training and circumstances. The soil in the eastern part of the kingdom, and especially around Berlin, is not fertile. It yields its crops only to the most careful tillage. Moreover, prolonged struggles for political existence and supremacy, with the necessity of being on the watch for sudden wars and formidable invasions, have sharpened the wits of the Berlinese and taught them the advisability of laying by for a rainy day. The Viennese, on the contrary, live rather for the passing hour. Austria is favored with an agreeable climate and an extremely fertile soil. The immediate vicinity of Vienna is highly picturesque and invites to merrymaking excursions, while life in the city is a hunt after pleasure. The court and the nobility, once proverbial for wealth, set an example of profuse expenditure which is followed by the middle and even the lower classes.
Were it possible, by passing a magic wand over the Austrian duchies and Vienna, to transform them into a Brandenburg or a Silesia, the Eastern question would be much simplified. The entire valley of the lower Danube, Hungary not excepted, suffers from a want of laborers. Agriculture, mining and manufactures are in a primitive state unworthy of the Middle Ages. The exhibition from Roumania at Vienna in 1873, although arrayed tastefully, was a lamentable confession of poverty and backwardness. Even Hungary, anxious to display her autonomy to the best advantage, could show little more than the beginnings of a change. The actual condition of the lower Danube is a reproach to European civilization. Everything seems to be lacking—good roads and tolerable houses, kitchen and farming utensils, workshops of the most rudimentary sort, clothing, popular education, the first conceptions of science. Germany is the only source from which to expect assistance in the spread of material comfort and spiritual enlightenment, for Germany alone has population and education to spare. Yet that part of Germany which is nearest at hand is not adequate of itself to the task. The Austrians have not such a preponderancy of numbers and influence within their own borders as would qualify them for conducting successfully a great movement of colonization. Besides, it must be admitted, with all due respect to the many good qualities of the Austrians, that colonists should be of “sterner stuff”—should have more self-denial, greater capacity for work and more talent for self-government. In these particulars the North Germans are unquestionably superior. The improved condition of Roumania (Moldavia and Wallachia) under Prince Charles of Hohenzollern teaches us what may be accomplished by an energetic administration. During the past ten years the
In one essential feature the Germanization of Prussia in the Middle Ages differed necessarily from any like movement now possible along the Danube. The Vends, Serbs and other Slaves were heathens, and their overthrow and extermination was a crusade as well as a conquest. The Church consecrated the sword, the monk labored side by side with the knight. Such is not the case in the Danube Valley. Whatever value we may set upon the Christianity of the Slovenes, Herzegovinians, Bulgarians and Roumanians, we certainly cannot call them heathens. They belong to the Roman Catholic, to the Greek, or to the Greek United Church, although their worship and religious conceptions are strongly tinged with reminiscences of Slavic paganism. Neither is a conquest, in the military sense, possible. Public opinion in Europe has learned to look with abhorrence on such violent measures, not to speak of the mutual jealousies of Austria, Russia and Germany. The question is rather one of peaceful colonization, of the introduction of Germans in large numbers, and the gradual adoption of Western improvements. Without some strong influx of the sort the mere separation of the Danubian principalities from Turkey would be only a halfway measure. It would put an end to the outrageous tyranny of the Turkish governors, but it would not ensure industrial and intellectual progress. And if Germany does not undertake the work, where else is aid to be looked for? We see what the Germans have done for us in the valleys of the upper Ohio and Mississippi. We have only to imagine a like stream of population rolling for twenty years along the Danube. Some of the conditions there are even more favorable than they have been with us. The German colonist in America has been confronted from the start by a civilization fully equal to his own. In the Danubian principalities he would rise at once to a position of superiority. The cessation of German immigration would be undoubtedly a loss to America, but its diversion to the south-east would be a great gain to Europe. It would settle, perhaps, for ever, the grave question of race-supremacy—it would enable Austria to become a really German power, and Vienna a really German city. Last, but not least, it would reclaim from Mohammedanism and barbarism lands that were lost to Christian culture only five centuries ago in a moment of shameful weakness.
JAMES MORGAN HART.
BY MRS. E. LYNN LINTON, AUTHOR OF “PATRICIA KEMBALL.”
Not the youngest or prettiest bride could have excited more interest on her launch into the unknown shoals and quicksands of matrimony than did many-fleshed, mature and freckled Josephine on the achievement of her long-desired union with the twice-told widower. A marriage of one of their own set was a rare event altogether to the North Astonians, and the marriage of one of the Hill girls was above all a circumstance that touched the heart of the place as nothing else could touch it—one which even Carry Fairbairn on the day of her triumph over willow-wearing and that faithless Frank had not come near. It was “our marriage” and “our bride,” and each member of the community took a personal interest in the proceedings, and felt implicated in the subsequent failure or success of the venture.
Of course they all confessed that it was a bold thing for Miss Josephine to be the third wife of a man—some of the more prudish pursed their lips and said they wondered how she could, and they wondered yet more how Mrs. Harrowby ever allowed it, and why, if Mr. Dundas must marry again (but they thought he might be quiet now), he had not taken a stranger, instead of one who had been mixed up as it were with his other wives—but seeing that her day was passed, the majority, as has been said, held that she was in the right to take what she could get, and to marry even as a third wife was better than not to marry at all. And then the neighborhood knew Sebastian Dundas, and knew that although he had been foolish and unfortunate in his former affairs, there was no harm in him. If his second wife had died mysteriously, North Aston was generous enough not to suppose that he had poisoned her; and who could wonder at that dreadful Pepita having a stroke, sitting in the sun as she did on such a hot day, and so fat as she was? So that Mr. Dundas was exonerated from the suspicion of murder in either case, if credited with an amount of folly and misfortune next thing to criminal; and “our marriage” was received with approbation, the families sending tribute and going to the church as the duty they owed a Harrowby, and to show Sebastian that they considered he had done wisely at last, and chosen as was fitting.
There was a little mild waggery about the future name of Ford House, and the bolder spirits offered shilling bets that it would be rechristened “Josephine Lodge” before the year was out. But save this not very scorching satire, which also was not too well received by the majority, as savoring of irreverence to consecrated powers, the country looked on in supreme good-humor, and the day came in its course, finding as much social serenity as it brought summer sunshine.
It was a pretty wedding, and everybody said that everybody looked very nice; which is always comforting to those whose souls are stitched up in their flounces, and whose happiness and self-respect rise or fall according to the becomingness of their attire. The village school-children lining the churchwalk strewed flowers for the bride’s material and symbolic path. Dressed in a mixture of white, scarlet and blue, they made a brilliant show of color, and gave a curious suggestion of so many tricolored flags set up along the path; but they added to the general gayety of the scene, and they themselves thought Miss Josephine’s wedding surely as grand as the queen’s.
There were five bridesmaids, including little Fina, whom kindly Josephine had specially desired should bear her part in the pageant which was to give her a mother and a friend. The remaining four were the two Misses Harrowby, Adelaide Birkett, as her long-time confidante, and that other step-daughter, more legitimate if less satisfactory than Fina—Leam.
The first three of these four elder maids came naturally and of course: the last was the difficulty. When first asked, Learn had refused positively—for her quite vehemently—to have hand or part in the wedding. It brought back too vividly the sin and the sorrow of the former time; and she despised her father’s inconstancy of heart too much to care to assist at a service which was to her the service of folly and wickedness in one.
She said, “No, no: I will not come. I, bridesmaid at papa’s wedding! bridesmaid to his third wife! No, I will not!” And she said it with an insistance, an emphasis, that seemed immovable, and all the more so because it was natural.
But Josephine pleaded with her so warmly—she was evidently so much in earnest in her wish, she meant to be so good and kind to the girl, to lift her from the shadows and place her in the sunshine of happiness—that Leam was at last touched deeply enough to give way. She had come now to recognize that fidelity to be faithful need not be churlish; and perhaps she was influenced by Josephine’s final argument. For when she had said “No, I cannot come to the wedding,” for about the fourth time, Josephine shot her last bolt in these words: “Oh, dear Leam, do come. I am sure Edgar will be hurt and displeased if you are not one of my bridesmaids. He will think you do not like the connection, and you know what a proud man he is: he will be so vexed with me.”
On which Leam said gravely, “I would not like to hurt or displease Major Harrowby; and I do not like or dislike the connection;” adding, after a pause, and putting on her little royal manner, “I will come.”
Josephine’s honest heart swelled with the humble gratitude of the self-abased. “Good Leam! dear girl!” she cried, kissing her with tearful eyes and wet lips—poor Learn! who hated to be kissed, and who had by no means intended that her grave caress on the day of betrothal should be taken as a precedent and acted on unreservedly. And after she had kissed her frequently she thanked her again effusively, as if she had received some signal grace that could hardly be repaid.
Her excess chilled Leam of course, but she held to her promise; and Josephine augured all manner of happy eventualities from the fact that her future step-daughter had yielded so sweetly on the first difference of desire between them, and had let herself be kissed with becoming patience. It was a good omen for the beginning of things; and all brides are superstitious—Josephine perhaps more so than most, in that she was more loving and more in love than most.
Yes, it was a pretty wedding, as they all said. The bride in the regulation white and pearls looked, if not girlish, yet comely and suitable to the bridegroom with his gray hair and sunburnt skin. The two senior maids had stipulated for a preponderance of warm rose-color in the costumes, which suited every one. It threw a flush on their faded elderliness which was not amiss, and did the best for them that could be done in the circumstances; it brought out into lovely contrast, the contrast of harmonies, Adelaide Birkett’s delicate complexion, fair flaxen braids and light-blue eyes; it burnt like flame in Leam’s dark hair, and made her large transcendent eyes glow as if with fire; while the little one looked like a rose, the white and crimson petals of which enclosed a laughing golden-headed fairy.
It was admirable all through, and did credit to the generalizing powers of the Hill, which had thus contrived to harmonize the three stages of womanhood and to offend none. Even Frank’s fastidious taste was satisfied. So was Mrs. Frank’s, who knew how things ought to be done. And as she was the rather elderly if very wealthy daughter of a baronet, who considered that she had married decidedly beneath herself in taking Frank Harrowby, the untitled young barrister not even yet in silk, she had come down to the Hill prepared to criticise sharply; so that her approbation carried weight and ensured a large amount of satisfaction. Edgar, however, who was not so fastidious as his brother, thought the whole thing a failure and that no one looked even tolerable.
As he had his duty to do by his sister, being the father who gave her away, he was fully occupied; but his eyes wandered more than once to the younger two of the bridesmaids proper—those two irreconcilables joined for the first time in a show of sisterhood and likeness—and whom he examined and compared as so often before, with the same inability to decide which.
He paid little or no attention to either. He might have been a gray-headed old sage for the marvelous reticence of his demeanor, devoting himself to his duties and the dowagers with a persistency of good-breeding, to say the least of it, admirable. At the breakfast-table he was naturally separated from both these fair disturbers of his lordly peace, Leam having been told off to Alick, and Adelaide handed over to Frank’s fraternal care, with Mrs. Frank, who claimed more than a fee-simple in her husband, watching them jealously and interrupting them often.
That wind which never blows so ill that it brings no good to any one had brought joy to Alick in this apportionment of partners, if the sadness of boredom to poor Leam. The natural excitement of a wedding, which stirs the coldest, had touched even the chastened pulses of the pale, gaunt curate, and he caught himself more than once wondering if he could ever win the young queen of his boyish fancy to return the deep love of his manhood—love which was so true, so strong, so illimitable, it seemed as if it must by the very nature of things compel its answer.
That answer was evidently not in the course of preparation to-day, for Leam had never been more laconic or more candidly disdainful than she was now; and what sweetness the pomegranate flower might hold in its heart was certainly not shaken abroad on the surrounding world. She answered when she was spoken to, because even Leam felt the constraining influences of society, but her eyes, like her manner, said plainly enough, “You tire me: you are stupid.”
Not that either her eyes or her manner repelled her uncomfortable adorer. Alick was used to her disdain, and even liked it as her way, as he would have liked anything else that had been her way. He was content to be her footstool if it was her pleasure to put her foot on him, and he would have knotted any thong of any lash that she had chosen to use. Whatever gave her pleasure rejoiced him, and he had no desire for himself that might be against her wishes. Nevertheless, he yearned at times, when self would dominate obedience, that those wishes of hers should coincide with his desires, and that before the end came he might win her to return his love.
But what can be hoped from a girl, not a coquette, who is besieged on the one side by an awkward and ungainly admirer, when directly opposite to her is the handsome hero for whose love her secret heart, unknown to herself, is crying, and who has withdrawn himself for the time from smiles and benevolence? Leam somehow felt as if every compliment paid to her by Alick was an offence to Edgar; and she repelled him, blushing, writhing, uncomfortable, but adoring, with a coldness that nothing could warm, a stony immobility that nothing could soften, because it was the coldness of fidelity and the immobility of love.
Edgar saw it all. It put him somewhat in better humor with himself, but made him indignant with the Reverend Alexander, as he generally called Alick when he spoke of him wishing to suggest disrespect. He held him as a poacher beating up his preserves; and the gentlemen of England have scant mercy for poachers, conscious or unconscious. Meanwhile, nothing could be more delightfully smooth and successful than the whole thing was on the outside. The women looked nice, the men were gallant, the mature but comely bride was so happy that she seemed to radiate happiness on all around her, and the elderly bridegroom was marvelously vitalized for a man whose heart was
This naturally fell to the lot of Mr. Birkett to propose and deliver, and after a concerted signaling with Edgar he rose to his feet and began his oration. He proposed “the health of the fair bride and her gallant groom,” both of whom, after the manner of such speeches, he credited with all the virtues under heaven, and of whom each was the sole proper complement of the other to be found within the four seas. He was so far generous in that he did not allude to that fascinating second whom Mr. Dundas had taken to his bosom nearly five years ago now, and whose tragical death had cut him to the heart almost as much as it had wounded Sebastian. At one time natural masculine malice had made him compose a stinging little allusion that should carry poison, as some flowers do, sheathed and sugared; but the gentleman’s better taste prevailed, and for Josephine’s sake he brushed away the gloomy shadow of the grave which he had thrown for his own satisfaction over the orange-blossoms. He rose to the joyous height of the occasion, and his speech was a splendid success and gave satisfaction to every one alike. But what he did say was, that he supposed the master of the Hill would soon be following the example of his brother-in-law, and cause the place to be glad in the presence of a young Mrs. Harrowby, who would do well if she had half the virtues of the lady who had so long held the place of mistress there. And when he said this he looked at Edgar with a paternal kind of roguishness that really sat very well on his handsome old face, and that every one took to mean Adelaide.
Edgar laughed and showed his square white teeth while the rector spoke, blushing like a girl, but in all save that strange, unusual flush he bore himself as if it was a good joke of Mr. Birkett’s own imagining, and one with which he had personally nothing to do. More than one pair of eyes watched to see if he would look at Adelaide as the thong for the rector’s buckle; and Adelaide watched on her own account to see if he would look at Leam or at her. But Edgar kept his eyes discreetly guided, and no one caught a wandering glance anywhere: he merely laughed and put it by as a good joke, looking as if he had devoted himself to celibacy for life, and that the Hill would never receive another mistress than the one whom it had now.
“I wonder if the rector means Miss Birkett?” blundered Alick as his commentary in a low voice to Leam.
Leam turned pale: then with an effort she answered coldly, “Why wonder at what you cannot know? It is foolish.”
And Alick was comforted, because if she had rebuked she had at the least spoken to him.
The breakfast soon after this came to an end, and in due time the guests were all assembled in the drawing-room, waiting for the departure of the newly-married pair. Here Edgar might have made some amends to the two bridesmaids whom he had neglected with such impartiality of coldness, such an equal division of doubt, but he did not. He still avoided both as if each had offended him, and made them feel that he was displeased and had intentionally overlooked them.
Each girl bore his neglect in a manner characteristic of herself. Adelaide showed nothing, unless indeed it was that her voice was smoother and her speech sharper than usual, while her smiles were more frequent if less real. But then it was heroic in her to speak and smile at all when she was verily in torture. Nothing short of the worship due to the great god Society could have made her control herself so admirably; but Adelaide was a faithful worshiper of the divine life of conventionality, and she had her reward. Leam showed nothing, at least nothing directly overt. Perhaps her demeanor was stiller, her laconism curter, her distaste to uninteresting companionship and current small-talk more profound, than usual; but no one seemed to see the deeper tinge of her ordinary color, and she passed muster, for her creditably. In her heart she thought it all weariness of the flesh and spirit alike, and wished that people would marry without a wedding if they must marry at all.
She had not the slightest idea why she felt so miserable when every one else was so full of the silliest laughter. It never occurred to her that it was because Edgar had not spoken to her; but once she confessed to herself that she wished she was away out of all this, riding through the green lanes, with Major Harrowby riding fast to join her. Even if her chestnut should prance and dance and make her feel uncomfortable about the pommel and the reins, it would be better than this. A heavy meal of meat and wine, and that horrible cake in the middle of the day, were stupid, thought ascetic Leam. She had never felt anything so dreary before. How glad she would be when her father and Josephine went away, and she might go back to Ford House and be alone! As for the evening, she did not know that she would show herself then at all. There was to be a ball, and though it would be pleasant to dance, she felt so dull and wretched now she half thought she would send an excuse. But perhaps Major Harrowby would be more at liberty in the evening than he was now, and would find it possible to dance with her, at least once. He danced so well! Indeed, he was the only partner whom she cared to have, and she hoped therefore that he would dance with her if she came.
And thinking this, she resolved in her own mind that she would come, and unconsciously raised her eyes to Edgar with a look of such intensity, and as it seemed to him such reproach, that it startled him as much as if she had called him by his name and asked him sadly, Why?
IS THIS LOVE?
It seemed as if the evening was to bring no more satisfaction to the three whom the morning had so greatly disturbed than had that morning itself. Edgar avoided the two girls at the ball as much as he had avoided them at the breakfast, dancing only once with each, and not making even that one dance pleasant. Under cover of brotherly familiarity he teased Adelaide till she had the greatest difficulty in keeping her temper; while he was so preternaturally respectful to Leam, whom he wished he had not been forced to respect at all, that it seemed as if they had met to-night for the first time, and were not quite so cordial as sympathetic strangers would have been.
It was only a quadrille that they were dancing, a stupid, silent, uninteresting set of figures which people go through out of respect for ancient usage, and for which no one cares. Leam would have refused to take part in it at all had any one but Major Harrowby asked her. But he was different from other men, she thought; and it became her to say “Yes” when he said “Will you?” if only because he was the master of the house.
Leam had made considerable progress in her estimate of the proprieties. The unseen teacher who had informed her of late was apparently even more potent than those who had first broken up the fallow ground at Bayswater, and taught her that las cosas de Espana were not the things of the universe, and that there was another life and mode of action besides that taught by mamma.
But when Leam thoroughly understood the master’s mood, and thus made it clear to herself that the evening’s formality was simply a continuance of the morning’s avoidance, after looking at him once with one of those profound looks of hers which made him almost beside himself, she set her head straight, turned her eyes to the floor, and lapsed into a silence as unbroken as his own. She was too proud and shy to attempt to conciliate him, but she wondered why he was so changed to her. And then she wondered, as she had done this morning, why she was so unhappy to-night. Was it because her father had married Josephine Harrowby? Why should that make her sad? She did not think now that her mother was crying in heaven because another woman was in her place; and for herself it made no difference whether there was a step-mother at home or no. She could not be more lonely than she was; and with Josephine at the head of affairs she would have less responsibility. No, it was not that which was making her unhappy; and yet she was almost as miserable to-night as she had been when madame was brought home as papa’s wife, and her fancy gave her mamma’s beloved face weeping there among the stars—abandoned by all but herself, forsaken even by the saints and the angels.
Everything to-night oppressed her. The lights dazzled her with what seemed to her their hard and cruel shine; the passing dancers radiantly clad and joyous made her giddy and contemptuous; the flower-scents pouring through the room from the plants within and from the gardens without gave her headache; the number of people at the ball—people whom she did not know and who stared at her, people whom she did know and who talked to her—all overwhelmed as well as isolated her. She seemed to belong to no one, now that Edgar had let her slip from his hands so coldly—not even to Mrs. Corfield, who had brought her, nor yet to her faithful friend and guardian Alick, who wandered round and round about her in circles like a dog, doing his best to make her feel befriended and to clear her dear face of some of its sadness. Doing his best too, with characteristic unselfishness, to forget that he loved her if it displeased her, and to convince her that he had only dreamed when he had said those rash words when the lilacs were first budding in the garden at Steel’s Corner.
It was quite early in the evening when Edgar danced this uninteresting “square” with Leam, whom then he ceremoniously handed back to Mrs. Corfield, as if this gathering of friends and neighbors in the country had been a formal assemblage of strangers in a town.
“I hope you are not tired with this quadrille,” he said as he took her across the room, not looking at her.
“It was dull, but I am not tired,” Learn answered, not looking at him.
“I am sorry I was such an uninteresting partner,” was his rejoinder, made with mock simplicity.
“A dumb man who does not even talk on his fingers cannot be very amusing,” returned Learn with real directness.
“You were dumb too: why did you not talk, if dull, on your fingers?” he asked.
She drew herself up proudly, more like the Leam of Alick than of Edgar. “I do not generally amuse gentlemen,” she said.
“Then I am only in the majority?” with that forced smile which was his way when he was most annoyed.
“You have been to-day,” answered Leam, quitting his arm as they came up to her sharp-featured chaperon, but looking straight at him as she spoke with those heart-breaking eyes to which, Edgar thought, everything must yield, and he himself at the last.
Not minded, however, to yield at this moment, fighting indeed desperately with himself not to yield at all, Edgar kept away from his sister’s step-daughter still more, as if a quarrel had fallen between them; and Adelaide gained in proportion, for suddenly that butterfly, undecided fancy of his seemed to settle on the rector’s daughter, to whom he now paid more court than to the whole room beside—court so excessive and so patent that it made the families laugh knowingly, and say among themselves evidently the Hill would soon receive its new mistress, and the rector knew which way things were going when he made that wedding-speech this morning.
Only Adelaide herself was not deceived, but read between the lines and made out the hidden words, which were not flattering to herself. And to her it was manifest that Edgar’s attentions, offered with such excited publicity, were not so much to gratify her or to express himself, as to pique Leam Dundas and work off his own unrest.
Meanwhile, Leam, sad and weary, took refuge in the embrasure of a bow-window, where she sat hidden from the room by the heavy curtains which fell before the sidelights, leaving the centre window leading into the garden open and uncurtained. Here she was at rest. She was not obliged to talk. She need not see Edgar always with her enemy, both laughing so merrily—and as it seemed to her so cruelly, so insolently—as they waltzed and danced square dances, looking really as if made one for the other—so handsome as they both were; so well set up, and so thoroughly English.
It made her so unhappy to watch them; for, as she said to herself, Major Harrowby had always been so much her friend, and Adelaide Birkett was so much her enemy, that she felt as if he had deserted her and gone over to the other side. That was all. It was like losing him altogether to see him so much with Adelaide. With any one else she would not have had a pang. He might have danced all the evening, if he had liked, with Susy Fairbairn or Rosy, or any of the strange girls about, but she did not like that he should so entirely abandon her for Adelaide. Wherefore she drew herself away out of sight altogether, and sat behind the curtain looking into the garden and up to the dark, quiet sky.
Presently Alick, who had been searching for her everywhere, spied her out and came up to her. He too was one of those made wretched by the circumstances of the evening. Indeed, he was always wretched, more or less; but he was one of the kind which gets used to its own unhappiness—even reconciled to it if others are happy.
“You are not dancing?” he said to Learn sitting behind the curtain.
“No,” said Learn with her old disdain for self-evident propositions. “I am sitting here.”
“Don’t you care for dancing?” he asked.
He knew that she did, but a certain temperament prefers foolish questions to silence; and Alick Corfield was one who had that temperament.
“Not to-night,” she answered, looking into the garden,
“Why not to-night? and when you dance so beautifully too—just as light as a fairy.”
“Did you ever see a fairy dance?” was Leam’s rejoinder, made quite solemnly.
Alick blushed and shifted his long lean limbs uneasily. He knew that when he said these silly things he should draw down on him Leam’s rebuke, but he never could refrain. He seemed impelled somehow to be always foolish and tiresome when with her. “No, I cannot say I have ever seen a fairy,” he answered with a nervous little laugh.
“Then how can you say I dance like one?” she asked in perfect good faith of reproach.
“One may imagine,” apologized Alick.
“One cannot imagine what does not exist,” she answered. “You should not say such foolish things.”
“No, you are right, I should not. I do say very foolish things at times. You are right to be angry with me,” he said humbly, and writhing.
Leam turned her eyes from him in artistic reprobation of his awkwardness and ungainly homage. She paused a moment: then, as if by an effort, she looked at him straight in the face and kindly. “You are too good to me,” she said gently, “and I am too hard on you: it is cruel.”
“Don’t say that,” he cried, in real distress now. “You are perfect in my eyes. Don’t scold yourself. I like you to say sharp things to me, and to tell me in your own beautiful way that I am stupid and foolish, if really you trust me and respect me a little under it all. But I should not know you, Leam, if you did not snub me. I should think you were angry with me if you treated me with formal politeness.”
He spoke with an honest heart, but an uncomfortable body; and Learn, turning away her eyes once more, said with a heavy sigh—gravely, sorrowfully, tenderly even, but as if impelled by respect for truth to give her verdict as she thought it—“It is true if it is hard: you are often stupid. You are stupid now, twisting yourself about like that and making silly speeches. But I like you, for all that, and I respect you. I would as soon expect the sun to go out as for you to do wrong. But I wish you would keep still and not talk so much nonsense as you do.”
“Thank you!” cried the poor fellow fervently, his bare bone accepted as gratefully as if it had been the sweetest fruit that love could bestow. “You give me all I ask, and more than I deserve, if you say that. And it is so kind of you to care whether I am awkward or not.”
“I do not see the kindness,” returned Learn gravely.
“Do you see those two spooning?” asked one of the Fairbairn girls, pointing out Leam and Alick to Edgar, the curtain being now held back by Leam to show the world that she was there, not caring to look as if hiding away with Alick.
“They look very comfortable, and the lady picturesque,” he answered affectedly, but his brows suddenly contracted and his eyes shot together, as they always did when angry. He had been jealous before now of that shambling, awkward, ill-favored and true-hearted Alick, that loyal knight and faithful watchdog whom he despised with such high-hearted contempt; and he was not pleased to see him paying homage to the young queen whom he himself had deserted.
“Poor Alick Corfield!” said Adelaide pityingly. “He has been a very faithful adorer, I must say. I believe that he has been in love with Leam all his life, while she has held him on and off, and made use of him when she wanted him, and deserted him when she did not want him, with the skill of a veteran.”
“Do you think Miss Dundas a flirt?” asked Edgar as affectedly as before.
“Certainly I do, but perhaps not more so than most girls of her kind and age,” was the quiet answer with its pretence of fairness.
She smiled with unruffled amiability. “I am an exception,” she said. “I am neither of her kind nor, thank Goodness! of Tier country; and I have never seen the man I cared to flirt with. I am more particular than most people, and more exclusive. Besides,” with the most matter-of-fact air in the world, “I am an old maid by nature and destiny. I am preparing for my metier too steadily to interrupt it by the vulgar amusement of flirting.”
“You an old maid!—you! nonsense!” cried Edgar with an odd expression in his eyes. “You will not be an old maid, Adelaide, I would marry you myself rather.”
She chose to take his impertinence simply. “Would you?” she asked. “That would be generous!”
“And unpleasant?” he returned in a lower voice.
“To you? chi sa? I should say yes.” She spoke quite quietly, as if nothing deeper than the question and answer of the moment lay under this crossing of swords.
“No, not to me,” he returned.
“To me, then? I will tell you that when the time comes,” she said. “Things are not always what they seem.”
“You speak in riddles to-night, fair lady,” said Edgar, who honestly did not know what she meant him to infer—whether her present seeming indifference was real, or the deeper feeling which she had so often and for so long allowed him to believe.
“Do I?” She looked into his face serenely, but a little irritatingly. “Then my spoken riddles match your acted ones,” she said.
“This is the first time that I have been accused of enigmatic action. Of all men I am the most straightforward, the least dubious.”
Edgar said this rather angrily. By that curious law of self-deception which makes cowards boast of their courage and hypocrites of their sincerity, he did really believe himself to be as he said, notably clear in his will and distinct in his action.
“Indeed! I should scarcely endorse that,” answered Adelaide. “I have so often known you enigmatic—a riddle of which, it seems to me, the key is lost, or to which indeed there is no key at all—that I have come to look on you as a puzzle never to be made out.”
“You mean a puzzle not known to my fair friend Adelaide, which is not quite the same thing as not known to any one,” he said satirically, his ill-humor with himself and everything about him overflowing beyond his power to restrain. His knowledge that Miss Birkett was his proper choice, his mad love for Leam—love only on the right hand, fitness, society, family, every other claim on the left—his jealousy of Alick, all irritated him beyond bearing, and made him forget even his good-breeding in his irritation.
“Not known to my friend Edgar himself,” was Adelaide’s reply, her color rising, ill-humor being contagious.
“Now, Adelaide, you are getting cross,” he said.
“No, I am not in the least cross,” she answered with her sweetest smile. “I have a clear conscience—no self-reproaches to make me vexed. It is only those who do wrong that lose their tempers. I know nothing better for good-humor than a good conscience.”
“What a pretty little sermon! almost as good as one of the Reverend Alexander’s, whose sport, by the way, I shall go and spoil.”
“I never knew you cruel before,” said Adelaide quietly. “Why should you destroy the poor fellow’s happiness, as well as Leam’s chances, for a mere passing whim? You surely are not going to repeat with the daughter the father’s original mistake with the mother?”
She spoke with the utmost contempt that she could manifest. At all events, if Edgar married Leam Dundas, she would have her soul clear. He should never be able to say that he had gone over the edge of the precipice unwarned. She at least would be faithful, and would show him how unworthy his choice was.
“Well, I don’t know,” he drawled. “Do you think she would have me if I asked her?”
“Edgar!” cried Adelaide reproachfully. “You are untrue to yourself when you speak in that manner to me—I, who am your best friend. You have no one who cares so truly, so unselfishly, for your happiness and honor as I do.”
She began with reproach, but she ended with tenderness; and Edgar, who was wax in the hands of a pretty woman, was touched. “Good, dear Adelaide!” he said with fervor and quite naturally, “you are one of the best girls in the world. But I must go and speak to Miss Dundas, I have neglected her so abominably all the evening.”
On which, as if to prevent any reply, he turned away, and the next moment was standing by Leam sitting in the window-seat half concealed by the curtain, Alick paying awkward homage as his manner was.
Leam gave the faintest little start, that was more a shiver than a start, as he came up. She turned her tragic eyes to him with dumb reproach; but if she was sorrowful she was not craven, and though she meant him to see that she disapproved of his neglect—which had indeed been too evident to be ignored—she did not want him to think that she was unhappy because of it.
“Are you not dancing, Miss Dundas?” asked Edgar as gravely as if he was putting a bona fide question.
“No,” said Leam—thinking to herself, “Even he can ask silly questions.”
“Why not? Are you tired?”
“Yes,” answered laconic Leam with a little sigh.
“I am afraid you are bored, and that you do not like balls,” he said with false sympathy, but real love, sorry to see the weariness of face and spirit which he had not been sorry to cause.
“I am bored, and I do not like balls,” she answered, her directness in nowise softened out of regard for Edgar as the giver of the feast or for Alick as her companion.
“Yet you like dancing; so come and shake off your boredom with me,” said Edgar with a sudden flush. “They are just beginning to waltz: let me have one turn with you.”
“No. Why do you ask me? You do not like to dance with me,” said Leam proudly.
“No? Who told you such nonsense—such a falsehood as that?” hotly.
“Yourself,” she answered.
Alick shifted his place uneasily. Something in Leam’s manner to Edgar struck him with an acute sense of distress, and seemed to tell him all that he had hitherto failed to understand. But he felt indignant with Edgar, even though his neglect, at which Leam had been so evidently pained, might to another man have given hopes. He would rather have known her loving, beloved, hence blessed, than wounded by this man’s coldness, by his indifference to what was to him, poor faithful and idealizing Alick, such surpassing and supreme delightfulness.
“I?” cried Edgar, willfully misunderstanding her. “When did I tell you I did not like to dance With you?”
“This evening,” said Leam, not looking into his face.
“Oh, there is some mistake here. Come with me now. I will soon convince you that I do not dislike to dance with you,” cried Edgar, excited, peremptory, eager.
Her accusation had touched him. It made him resolute to show her that he did not dislike to dance with her—she, the most beautiful girl in the room, the best dancer—she, Leam, that name which meant a love-poem in itself to him.
“Come,” he said again, offering his hand, not his arm.
Leam looked at him, meaning to refuse. What did she see in his face that changed hers so wholly? The weariness swept off like clouds from the sky; her mournful eyes brightened into joy; the pretty little smile, which Edgar knew so well, stole round her mouth, timid, fluttering, evanescent; and she laid her hand in his with an indescribable expression of relief, like one suddenly free from pain.
“I am glad you do not dislike to dance with me,” she said with a happy sigh; and the next-moment his arm was round her waist and her light form borne along into the dance.
As they went off Alick passed through the open window and stole away into the garden. The pain lost by Leam had been found by him, and it lay heavy on his soul.
Dancing was Leam’s greatest pleasure and her best accomplishment. She had inherited the national passion as well as the grace bequeathed by her mother; and even Adelaide was forced to acknowledge that no one in or about North Aston came near to her in this. Edgar, too, danced in the best style of the best kind of English gentleman; and it was really something for the rest to look at when these two “took the floor.” But never had Leam felt during a dance as she felt now—never had she shone to such perfection. She was as if taken up into another world, where she was some one else and not herself—some one radiant, without care,
“My darling!” Edgar said below his breath, pressing her to him warmly, “do you think now that it is no pleasure for me to dance with you?”
Leam, startled at the word, the tone, looked up half scared into his face; then—she herself scarcely knowing what she did, but instinctively answering what she saw—Edgar felt her little hand on his shoulder lie there heavily, her figure yield to his arm as it had never yielded before, while her head drooped like a flower faint with the heavy sunlight till it nearly touched his breast.
“My Leam!” he whimpered again, “I love you! I love you! my Leam, my love!”
Leam sighed dreamily. “This is like death—and heaven,” she murmured as he stopped by the window where she had sat with Alick, and carried her half fainting into the garden.
The cool night-air revived her, and she opened her eyes, wondering where she was and what had happened. Even now she could not take it all in, but she knew that something had come to her of which she was ashamed, and that she must not stay here alone with Major Harrowby. With an attempt at her old pride she tried to draw herself away, not looking at him, feeling abashed and humbled. “I will dance no more,” she said faltering.
Edgar, who had her hands clasped in his, drew her gently to him again. He held her hands up to his breast, both enclosed in one of his, his other arm round her waist. “Will you leave me, my Leam?” he said in his sweetest tones. “Do you not love me well enough to stay with me?”
“I must go in,” said Leam faintly.
“Before you have said that you love me? Will you not say so, Leam? I love you, my darling: no man ever loved as I love you, my sweetest Leam, my angel, my delight! Tell me that you love me—tell me, darling.”
“Is this love?” said Leam turning away her head, her whole being penetrated with a kind of blissful agony, where she did not know which was strongest, the pleasure or the pain: perhaps it was the pain.
“Kiss me, and then I shall know,” whispered Edgar.
“No,” said Leam trembling and hiding her face, “I must not do that.”
“Ah, you do not love me, and we shall never meet again,” he cried in the disappointed lover’s well-feigned tone of despair, dropping her hands and half turning away.
Leam stood for a moment as if she hesitated: then, with an indescribable air of self-surrender, she went closer to him and laid her hands very gently on his shoulders. “I will kiss you rather than make you unhappy,” she said in a soft voice, lifting up her face.
“My angel! now I know that you love me!” cried Edgar triumphantly, holding her strained to his heart as he pressed her bashful, tremulous little lips, Leam feeling that she had proved her love by the sacrifice of all that she held most dear—by the sacrifice of herself and modesty.
The first kiss for a girl whose love was as strong as fire and as pure—for a girl who had not a weak or sensual fibre in her nature—yes, it was a sacrifice the like of which men do not understand; especially Edgar, loose-lipped, amorous Edgar, with his easy loves, his wide experience, his consequent loss of sensitive perception, and his holding all women as pretty much alike—creatures rather than individuals, and created for man’s pleasure: especially he did not understand how much this little action, which was one so entirely of course to him, cost her—how great the gift, how eloquent of what it included. But Leam, burning with shame, thought that she should never bear to see the sun again; and yet it was for Edgar, and for Edgar she would have done even more than this. “Have you enjoyed yourself, Leam, my dear?” asked Mrs. Corfield as they drove home in the quiet moonlight.
“No—yes,” answered Leam, who wished that the little woman would not talk to her. How could she say that this fiery unrest was enjoyment? The word was so trivial. But indeed what word could compass the strange passion that possessed her?—that mingled bliss and anguish of young love newly born, lately confessed.
“Have you enjoyed yourself, Alick, my boy?” asked the little woman again.
She had had no love-affairs to disturb her with pleasure or with pain, and she was full of the mechanism of the evening, and wanted to talk it over.
“I never enjoy that kind of thing,” answered Alick in a voice that was full of tears.
He had witnessed the scene in the garden, and his heart was sore, both for himself and for her.
“Oh,” said Mrs. Corfield briskly, “it was a pretty sight, and I am sure every one was happy.”
Had she seen Adelaide Birkett sitting before her glass, her face covered in her hands and shedding hot tears like rain—had she seen Leam standing by her open window, letting the cool night-air blow upon her, too feverish and disturbed to rest—she would not have said that every one had been happy at the ball given in honor of Josephine’s marriage. Perhaps of all those immediately concerned Edgar was the most content, for now that he had committed himself he had done with the torment of indecision, and by putting himself finally under the control of circumstances he seemed to have thrown off the strain of responsibility.
So the night passed, and the next day came, bringing toil to the weary, joy to the happy, wealth to the rich, and sorrow to the sad—bringing Edgar to Leam, and Leam to the deeper consciousness and confession of her love.
It was not a bad idea to continue the wedding-gayeties of yesterday evening by a picnic to-day. People are always more or less out of sorts after a ball, and a day spent in the open air soothes the feverish and braces up the limp. Wherefore the rectory gave a picnic to blow away the lingering vapors of last evening at the Hill, and the place of meeting chosen was Dunaston Castle.
Leam had of course been invited with the rest. Had she been a different person, and more in accord with the general sentiments of the neighborhood than she was, she would have been made the “first young lady” for the moment, because of her connection with the bridegroom; but being what she was—Leam—she was merely included with the rest, and by Adelaide with reluctance.
The day wore on bright and clear. Already it was past two o’clock, but Leam, irresolute what to do, sat in the garden under the shadow of the cut-leaved hornbeam, from the branches of which Pepita used to swing in her hammock, smoking cigarettes and striking her zambomba. One part of her longed to go, the other held her back. The one was the strength of love, the other its humiliation. How could she meet Major Harrowby again? she thought. She had kissed him of her own free will last night—she, Leam, had kissed him; she had leant against his breast, he with his arms round her; she had said the sacred and irrevocable words, “I love you.” How could she meet him again without sinking to the earth for shame? What a strange kind of shame!—not sin and yet not innocence; something to blush for, but not to repent of; something not to be repeated, but not to wish undone. And what a perplexed state of feeling!—longing, fearing to see Edgar again—praying of each moment as it came that he should not appear; grieved each moment as it passed that he was still absent.
So she sat in all the turmoil of her new birth, distracted between love and shame, and not knowing which was stronger—feeling as if in a dream, but, every now and then waking to think of Dunaston, and should she go or stay away—when, just as little Fina came running to her, ready dressed and loud in her insistence that they should set off at once, the lodge-gates swung back and Edgar Harrowby rode up to the door. When she saw him dismount and walk across the lawn to where she sat—though it was what she had been waiting for all the day, hoping if fearing—yet now that it had come and he was really there, she wished that the earth would open at her feet, or that she could flee away and hide herself like a scared hind in her cover. But she could not have risen had there been even any place of refuge for her. Breathing with difficulty, and seeing nothing that was before her, she was chained to her seat by a feeling that was half terror, half joy—a feeling utterly inexplicable in its total destruction of her self-possession to reticent Leam, who hitherto had held herself in such proud restraint, and had kept her soul from all influence from the world without. And now the citadel was stormed and she was conquered and captive.
Meanwhile, the handsome officer walked over the sunny lawn with his military step, well set up, lordly, smiling. He liked to see this bashfulness in Leam. It was the sign of submission in one so unsubdued that flattered his pride as men like it to be flattered. Now indeed he was the man and the superior, and this trembling little girl, blushing and downcast, was no longer his virgin nymph, self-contained and unconfessed, but the slave of his love, like so many others before her.
The child ran up to him joyfully. She and Edgar were “great friends,” as he used to say. He lifted her in his arms, placed her on his shoulder like a big blue forget-me-not gathered from the grass, then deposited her by Leam on the seat beneath the cut-leaved hornbeam. And Leam was grateful that the little one was there. It was somehow a protection against herself.
“I came to take you to the castle,” said; Edgar, looking down on the drooping figure with a tender smile on his handsome face as he took her hand in his; and held it. “Are you ready?”
Leam’s lips moved, but at the first inaudibly. “No,” she then said with an effort.
“It is time,” said Edgar, still holding her hand.
“I do not think I shall go,” she faltered, not raising her eyes from the ground.
Edgar, towering above her, always smiling—the child playing with his beard as she stood on the seat breast-high with himself—still holding that small burning hand in his, Leam not resisting, then said in Spanish, “My soul! have pity on me.”
The old familiar words thrilled the girl like a voice from the dead. Had anything been wanting to rivet the chains in which love had bound her, it was these words, “My soul,” spoken by her lover in her mother’s tongue. She answered more freely, almost eagerly, in the same language, “Would you be sorry?” and Edgar, whose Castilian was by no means unlimited, replied in English “Yes” at a venture, and sat down on the seat by her.
“Fina, go and ask Jones to tell you pretty stories about the bay,” he then said to the child.
“And may I ride him?” cried Fina, sure to take the ell when given the inch.
“Ask Jones,” he answered good-naturedly “I dare say he will put you up.”
Whereupon Fina ran off to the groom, whom she teased for the next half hour to give her a ride on the bay.
But Jones was obdurate. The major’s horse was not only three sticks and a barrel, like some on ’em, he said, and too full of his beans for a little miss like her to mount. The controversy, however, kept the child engaged if it made her angry; and thus Edgar was left free to break down more of that trembling defence-work within which Leam was doing her best to entrench herself.
“Do you know, Leam, you have not looked at me once since I came?” he said, after they had been sitting for some time, he talking on indifferent subjects to give her time to recover herself, and she replying in monosyllables, or perhaps not replying at all.
She was silent, but her eyes drooped a little lower.
“Will you not look at me, darling?” he asked in that mellifluous voice of his which no woman had yet been found strong enough to withstand.
“Why?” said Leam, vainly trying after her old self, and doing her best to speak as if the subject was indifferent to her, but failing, as how should she not? The loud beatings of her heart rang in her ears, her lips quivered so that she could not steady them, and her eyes were so full of shame, their lids so weighted with consciousness, that truly she could not have raised them had she tried.
“Why? Look at me and I will tell you,” was his smiling answer.
She turned to him, and, as once before, bound by the spell of loving obedience, lifted her heavy lids and raised her dewy eyes slowly till they came to the level of his. Then they met his, and Edgar laughed—a happy and abounding laugh which somehow Leam did not resent, though in general a laugh the cause of which she did not fully understand was an offence to her or a stupidity.
“Now I am satisfied,” he said in his sweetest voice. “Now I know that the morning has not destroyed the dream of the night, and that you love me. Tell it me once more, Leam, sweet Leam! I must hear it in the open sunshine as I heard it in the starlight: tell me again that you love me.”
Leam bent her pretty head to hide her crimson cheeks. How hard this confession was to her, and yet how sweet! How difficult to make, and yet how sorry she would be if anything came between them so that it was left unmade!
“Tell me, my Leam, my darling!” said Edgar again, with that delicious tyranny of love, that masterful insistence of manly tenderness, which women prize and obey.
“I love you,” half whispered Leam, feeling as if she had again forfeited her pride and modesty, and for the second time had committed that strange sweet sin against herself for which she blushed and of which she did not repent.
“And I love you,” he answered—“fervently, madly if you like. I never knew what love was before I knew you, my darling. When you are all my own I will make you confess that the love of an English gentleman is worth living for.”
“You are worth living for,” said Leam with timid fervor, defending him against all possible rivalry of circumstance or person. “I do not care about your English gentlemen. It is only you.”
“That brute of a Jones!” muttered Edgar as he put his arm round her waist and glanced toward the door.
“No,” said Leam gravely, shrinking back, “you must not do that.”
“What a shy wild bird it is!” he said lovingly, though he was disappointed. And he did not like this kind of disappointment. “Will you never be tamed, my Leam?”
“Not to that,” said innocent Leam in the same grave way; and Edgar smiled behind his golden beard, but not so that she could see the smile.
“Ah, but you must obey me now—do as I tell you in everything,” he said with perfect seriousness of mien and accent. “You have given yourself to me now, and if I ask you to kiss me you must, just as readily as Fina, and let me caress and pet you as much as I like.”
“Must I? but I do not like it,” said Leam simply.
He laughed outright, and—Jones not looking—took her hand and carried it to his lips. “Is this unpleasant?” he asked, looking up from under his eyebrows.
Leam blushed, hesitated, trembled. “No,” she then said in a low voice, “not from you.”
On which he kissed it again, and Leam had no wish to retract her confession.
“Now go and make ready to come to the castle,” he said after a moment’s pause. “I told you before that you must obey me, now that you have promised to be my wife. Command is the husband’s privilege, Leam, and obedience the wife’s happiness: don’t you know? So come, darling! They were all to assemble at two,” looking at his watch, “and here we are close on three! You do not wish not to go now, my pet?”
“No,” said Leam, with her happy little fleeting smile: “I am glad to go. I shall be with you, and you wish it.”
“What an exquisite little creature! In a week she will come to my hand like a tame bird,” was Edgar’s thought as he watched her slender, graceful figure slowly crossing the lawn with that undulating step of her mother’s nation. “In a week’s time I shall have tamed her,” he repeated with a difference; and he felt glad that he had bespoken Leam Dundas betimes, and that fate and fortune had made him her prospective proprietor. “She will make me happy,” he said as his last thought: he forgot to add either assurance or hope that he should make her the same. That is not generally part of a man’s matrimonial calculations.
The confidence of love soon grows. When Leam came back to the seat under the cut-leaved hornbeam, where Edgar still waited for her to have the pleasure of watching her approach, she was not so much ashamed and oppressed as when he had first found her there. She did not want to run away, and she was losing her fear of wrongdoing. She was beginning instead to feel that delightful sense of dependence on a strong man’s love which—pace the third sex born in these odd latter times—is the most exquisite sensation that a woman can know. She was no longer alone—no longer an alien imprisoned in family bonds, but, though one of a family, always an alien and imprisoned, never homed and united. Now she was Edgar’s as she had been mamma’s; and there was dawning on her the consciousness of the same oneness, the same intimate union of heart and life and love, as she had had with mamma. She belonged to him. He loved her, and she—yes, she knew now that she had always loved him, had always lived for him. He was the secret god whom she had carried about with her in her soul from the beginning—the
She was dimly conscious of this deep sense of rest in her new-found joy as she came across the lawn in her pretty summer dress of pearly gray touched here and there with crimson—the loveliest creature to be seen for miles around. Her usually mournful face was brightened with an inner kind of bliss which, from the face of the Tragic Muse, made it the face of a youthful seraph serene and blessed; her smile was one of almost unearthly ecstasy, if it still retained that timid, tremulous, fleeting expression which was so beautiful to Edgar; her eyes, no longer sad and sorrowful, but dewy, tender, bashful, shone with the purity, the confidence, the self-abandonment of a young girl’s first and happy love: every gesture, every line, seemed to have gained a greater grace and richness since yesterday; and as she came up to her lover, and laid her hand in his when he rose to meet her and looked for one shy instant into his eyes, then dropped her own in shame-faced tremor at what they had seen and told, he said again to himself that he had done well. If even she should call the hounds at a hunt-dinner dogs, and say that hunting was stupid and cruel, what might not be forgiven to Such beauty, such love as hers?
Yes, he was satisfied with himself and with her; and with himself because of her. He had done well, and she was eminently the right kind of wife for him, let conventional cavilers say what they would. He never felt more reconciled to fortune and himself than he did to-day when he rode by the side of the carriage wherein Leam and Fina sat, and looked through the coming years to the time when he should have a little Fina of his own with her mother Leam’s dark eyes and her mother Leam’s devoted heart.
The day was perfect, so was the place. Both were all that the day and place of young love should be. The view from the castle heights, with the river below, the woods around and the moor beyond, was always beautiful, but to-day, in the full flush of the early summer, it was at its best. The golden sunshine, alternating with purple shadows, was lying in broad tracts on meadow and moor, and lighting up the forest trees so that the delicate tints and foliage of bough and branch came out in photographic clearness; the river, where it caught the sun like a belt of silver, where it was under the shadow like a band of lapis-lazuli, ran like a vein of life through the scene, and its music could be heard here where they stood; close at
This was Leam’s day. Edgar devoted himself publicly to her—so publicly that people gathered into shady corners to discuss what it meant, and to ask each other if the tie already binding the two families was to be supplemented and strengthened by another? It looked like it, they said, in whispers, for it was to be supposed that Major Harrowby was an honorable man and a gentleman, and would not play with a child like Leam.
Dear Mrs. Birkett was manifestly distressed at what she saw. Though Adelaide made her mother no more a confidante than if she had been a stranger, yet she knew well enough where her daughter’s wishes pointed; and they pointed to where her own were set. She too thought that Edgar and Adelaide were made for each other, and that Adelaide at the Hill would be eminently matter in the right place. She would not have grudged Leam the duke’s son, could she have secured him, but she did grudge her Edgar Harrowby. It would be such a nice match for Addy, who was getting on now, and whose temper at home was trying; and she had hoped fervently that this year would see the matter settled. It was hanging fire a little longer than she quite liked: still, she always hoped and believed until to-day, when Edgar appropriated Leam in this strange manner before them all, seeming to present her to them as his own, so that they should make no further mistake.
But if Mrs. Birkett looked distressed, Adelaide, who naturally suffered more than did her mother, kept her own counsel so bravely that no one could have told how hard she had been hit. If she betrayed herself in any way, it was in being rather more attentive and demonstrative to her guests than was usual with her; but she behaved with the Spartan pride of the English gentlewoman, and deceived all who were present but herself.
Even Edgar took her by outside seeming, and put his belief in her love for him as a fallacy behind him. And it said something for a certain goodness of heart, with all his faults and vanity, that he was more relieved than mortified to think that he had been mistaken. Yet he liked to be loved by women, and the character which he had chiefly affected on the social side of him was that of the Irresistible. Nevertheless, he was glad that he had been mistaken in Adelaide’s feelings, and relieved to think that she would not be unhappy because he had chosen Leam and not herself.
Yes, this was Leam’s day, her one spell of perfect happiness—the day whereon there was no past and no future, only the glad sufficiency of the present—a day which seemed as if it had been lent by Heaven, so great was its exquisite delight, so pure its cloudless, shadowless sunshine of love.
Leam neither knew nor noted how the neighbors looked. They had somehow gone far off from her: when they spoke she answered them mechanically, and if she passed them she took no more heed than if they had been so many sheep or dogs lying about the grass. She only knew that she was with Edgar—that she loved him and that he loved her. It was a knowledge that made her strong to resist the whole world had the whole world, opposed her, and that dwarfed the families into insignificant, almost impersonal, adjuncts of the place, of no more consequence than the ferns growing about the fallen stones. Not even Adelaide could jar that rich melodious chord to which her whole being vibrated. It was all peace, contentment, love; and for the first and only time in her life Leam Dundas was absolutely happy.
The two lovers, always together and apart from the rest, wandered about the ruins till evening and the time for dispersion and reassembling at the rectory came. The sunset had been in accord with the day, golden and glorious, but after the last rays had gone heavy masses of purple clouds that boded ill for the morrow gathered with strange suddenness on the horizon. Still the lovers lingered about the ruins. The families had left them alone for the latter part of the time, and they discussed now Leam’s forwardness as they had discussed before Edgar’s intentions. But neither Edgar nor Leam took heed. They were in love, and the world beyond themselves was simply a world of shadows with which they had no concern.
It had been such a day of happiness to both that they were loath to end it, so they lingered behind the rest, and tried, as lovers do, to stop time by love. They were sitting now on one of the fallen blocks of stone of the many scattered about, he talking to her in a low voice, “I love you, I love you,” the burden of his theme; she for the most part listening to words which made the sweetest music discord, but sometimes responding as a tender fainter echo. He did not see the eyes that were watching him from behind the broken wall, nor the jealous ears that were drinking in their own pain so greedily. He saw only Leam, and was conscious only that he loved her and she him.
Presently he said, tempting her with the lover’s affectation of distrust, “I do not think you love me really, my Leam,” bending over her as if he would have folded her to his heart. Had she been any but Leam he would. But the love-ways that came so easy to him were lessons all unlearnt as yet by her, and he respected both her reticence and her reluctance.
“Not love you!” she said with soft surprise—“I not love you!”
“Do you?” he asked.
She was silent for a moment. “I do love you,” she said in her quiet, intense way. “I do not talk—you know that—but if I could make you happy by dying for you I would. I love you—oh, I cannot say how much! I seem to love God and all the saints, the sun and the flowers, Spain, our Holy Mother and mamma in you. You are life to me. I seem to have loved you all my life under another name. When you are with me I have no more pain or fear left. You are myself—more than myself to me.”
“My darling! and you to me!” cried Edgar.
But his voice, though sweet and tender, had not the passionate ring of hers, and his face, though full of the man’s bolder love, had not the intensity which made her so beautiful, so sublime. It was all the difference between the experience which knew the whole thing by heart, and which cared for itself more than for the beloved, and the wholeness, the ecstasy, of the first and only love born of a nature single, simple and concentrated.
Adelaide, watching and listening behind the broken wall, saw and heard it all. Her head was on fire, her heart had sunk like lead; she could not stay any longer assisting thus at the ruin of her life’s great hope; she had already stayed too long. As she stole noiselessly away, her white dress passing a distant opening looked ghastly, seen through the rising mist which the young moon faintly silvered,
“What is that?” cried Leam, a look of terror on her pale face as she rapidly crossed herself. “It is the Evil Sign.”
“No,” laughed Edgar, profiting by the moment to take her in his arms, judging that if she was frightened she would be willing to feel sheltered. “It is only one of the ladies passing to go down. Perhaps it is Adelaide Birkett: I think it was.”
“And that would be an evil sign in itself,” said Leam, still shuddering. And yet how safe she felt with his arms about her like this!
“Poor dear Addy! why should she be an ill omen to you, you dear little fluttering, frightened dove?”
“She hates me—always has, so long as I can remember her,” answered Leam. “And you are her friend,” she added.
“Her friend, yes, but not her lover, as I am yours—not her future husband,” said Edgar.
Leam’s hand touched his softly, with a touch that was as fleeting and subtle as her smile.
“A friend is not a wife, you know,” he continued. “And you are to be my wife, my own dear and beloved little wife—always with me, never parted again.”
“Never parted again! Ah, I shall never be unhappy then,” she murmured.
A flash of summer lightning broke through the pale faint moonlight and lighted up the old gray towers with a lurid glow.
Leam was not usually frightened at lightning, but now, perhaps because her whole being was overwrought and strung, she started and crouched down with a sense of awe strangely unlike her usual self.
“Come, we are going to have a storm,” said Edgar, whom every manifestation of weakness claiming his superior protection infinitely pleased and seemed to endear her yet more to him. “We must be going, my darling, else I shall have you caught in the rain. We shall just have time to get to the rectory before it comes on, and they are waiting for us.”
“I would rather not go to the rectory to-night,” said Leam with a sudden return to her old shy self.
“No? Why, my sweet?” he said lovingly. “How can I live through the evening without you?”
“Can you not? Do you really wish me to go?” she answered seriously.
“Of course I wish it: how should I not? But tell me why you raise an objection. Why would you rather not go?”
“I would rather be alone and think of you than only see you at the rectory with all those people,” she answered simply.
“But we have had all the people about here, and yet we have been pretty much alone,” he said.
“We could not be together at the rectory, and”—she blushed, but her eyes were full of more than love as she raised them to his face—“I could not bear that any one should come between us to-day. Better be alone at home, where I can think of you with no one to interrupt me.”
“It is a disappointment, but who could refuse such a plea and made in such a voice?” said Edgar, who felt that perhaps she was right in her instinct, and who at all events knew that he should be spared something that would be a slight effort in Adelaide’s own house. “I shall spoil you, I know, but I cannot refuse you anything when you look like that. Very well: you shall go home if you wish it, my beloved, and I will make your excuses.”
“Thank you,” said Leam, with the sweetest little air of humbleness and patience.
“How could that fool Sebastian Dundas say she was difficult to manage? and how can Adelaide see in her the possibility of anything like wickedness? She is the most loving and tractable little angel in the world. She will give me no kind of trouble, and I shall be able to mould her from the first and do what I like with her.”
These were Edgar’s thoughts as he took Leam’s hand on his arm, holding it there tenderly pressed beneath his other hand, while he said aloud, “My darling! my delight! if I had had to create my ideal I should have made you. You are everything I most love;” and again he said, as so often before, “the only woman I have ever loved or ever could love.”
And Learn believed him.
Adelaide accepted Major Harrowby’s excuses for Miss Dundas’s sudden headache and fatigue gallantly, as she had accepted her position through the day: she showed nothing, expressed nothing, bin: bore herself with consummate ease and self-possession. She won Edgar’s admiration for her tact and discretion, for the beautiful results of good-breeding. He congratulated himself on having such a friend as
Edgar just now believed as he wished to believe, and shut out all the rest. As he lit his last cigar, sitting on the terrace at the Hill and watching the sheet-lightning on the horizon, he thought with satisfaction on the success of his life. Specially he congratulated himself on his final choice. Leam would make the sweetest little wife in the world, and he loved her passionately. But “spooning” was exhausting work: he would cut it short and marry her as soon as he could get things together. Then his thoughts wandered away to some other of his personal matters; and while Leam was living over the day hour by hour, word by word, he had settled the terms for Farmer Mason’s new lease, had decided to rebuild the north lodge, which was ugly and incommodious; and on this, something catching the end of that inexplicable association of ideas, he wondered how some one whom he had left in India was going on, and what had become of Violet Cray.
IN LETTERS OF FIRE.
THE storm which had threatened to break last night still held off, but the spirit of the weather had changed. It was no longer bright and clear, but sunless, airless, heated, silent—the stillness which seems to presage as much sorrow to man as it heralds tumult to Nature. Leam, however—interpenetrated by her love, which gave what it felt and saw what it brought—always remembered this early day as the ideal of peace and softness, where was no prophecy of coming evil, no shadow of the avenging hand stretched out to punish and destroy—only peace and softness, love, joy and rest.
The gray background of the heavy sky, which to others was heavy and gloomy, was to her the loveliest expression of repose, and the absence of sunlight was as grateful as a veil drawn against the glare. If not beautiful in itself, it added beauty to other things: witness the passionate splendor given by it to the flowers, which seemed by contrast to gain a force and vitality of color, a richness and significance, they never had before. She specially remembered in days to come a bed of scarlet poppies that glowed like so many cups of flame against the dark masses of evergreens behind them; and the scarlet geraniums, the bold bosses
But though Leam remembered this in after-days as the weird prophecy of what was to come, at the time those burning beds of flowers simply pleased her with their brilliant coloring; and she sat in her accustomed place on the garden-chair, under the cut-leaved hornbeam, and looked at the garden stretching before her with the fresh, surprised kind of admiration of one who had never seen it before—as if it told her something different to-day from what it had in times past; as indeed it did.
Presently Edgar came down from the Hill. He had not told his people yet of the double bond which he designed to make between the two houses. He thought it was only fitting to wait until Sebastian had returned and he had gained the paternal consent in the orthodox way. And the false air of secrecy which this temporary reticence gave his engagement gave it also a false air of romance which exactly suited his temperament in the matter of love. Perhaps for the woman destined to be his wife he would have preferred to dispense with this characteristic of his dealings with those other women, her predecessors, not destined to be his wives. All the same, it was delightful, as things were, to come down to Ford House on this sultry day and sit under the shadow of the hornbeam, with Leam looking her loveliest by his side, and butterfly-like Fina running in and out in the joyous way of a lively child fond of movement and not afflicted with shyness; delightful to feel that he was enacting a little poem unknown to all the world beside—that he was the magician who had first wakened this young soul into life and taught it the sweet suffering of love; and delightful to know that he was king and supreme, the only man concerned, with not even a father to share, just yet, his domain.
Edgar, at all times charming, because at all times good-humored and not inconveniently in earnest, when specially pleased with himself was one of the most delightful companions to be found. He had seen much, and he talked pleasantly on what he had seen, whipping up the surface of things dexterously and not forcing his hearers to digest the substance. Hence he was never a bore, nor did he disturb the placid shallows of ignorance by an unwelcome influx of information. He had just so much of the histrionic element, born of vanity and self-consciousness, as is compatible with the impassive quietude prescribed by good-breeding, whereby his manner had a color that was an excellent substitute for sincerity, and his speech a pictorial glow that did duty for enthusiasm when he thought fit to simulate enthusiasm. He had, too, that sensitive tact which seems to feel weak places as if by instinct; and when he was at his best his good-nature led him to avoid giving pain and to affect a sympathetic air, which was no more true than his earnestness. But it took with the uncritical and the affectionate, and Major Harrowby was quoted by many as an eminently kind and tender-hearted man.
To women he had that manner of subtle deference and flattering admiration characteristic of men who make love to all women—even to children in the bud and to matrons more than full-blown—and who are consequently idolized by the sex all round. And when this natural adorer of many laid himself out to make special love to one he was, as we know, irresistible. He was irresistible to-day. He was really in love with Leam; and if his love had not the intensity, the tenacity of hers, yet it was true of its kind, and for him very true.
But he was not so much in love as to be unconscious of the most graceful way of making it; consequently, he knew exactly what he was doing and how he looked and what he said, while Leam, sitting there by his side, drinking in his words as if they were heavenly utterances, forgot all about herself, and lived only in her speechless, her unfathomable adoration of the man she loved. Her life at this moment was one pulse of voiceless happiness: it was one strain of sensation, emotion, passion, love; but it was not conscious thought nor yet perception of outward things by her senses.
If yesterday at Dunaston had been a day of blessedness, this was its twin sister, and the better favored of the two. There was a certain flavor of domesticity in these quiet hours passed together in the garden, interrupted only by the child as she ran hither and thither breaking in on them, sometimes not unpleasantly when speech was growing embarrassed because emotion was growing too strong, that seemed to Leam the sweetest experience which life could give her were she to live for ever; and the sunless stillness of the day suited her nature even better than the gayer glory of yesterday. To-day, too, it was still more peace in her inner being and still less unrest. The more accustomed she was becoming to the strange fact of loving and being loved by a man not a Spaniard, and one whom mamma would neither have chosen nor approved of, the more she was at ease both in heart and manner, and the more exquisite and profound her blessedness. And who does not know what happiness can do for a girl of strong emotions, naturally reserved, by circumstances friendless, by habit joyless, and how the soul of such a one seems to throw off its husk like the enchanted victim of a fairy-tale when the true being that has been hidden is released by love? It is a transformation as entire as any wrought by magic word or wand; and it was the transformation wrought with Leam to-day. She was Leam Dundas truly in all the essential qualities of identity, but Leam Dundas with another soul, an added faculty, an awakened consciousness—Leam set free from the darkness of the bondage in which she had hitherto lived.
“You look like another being: you have looked like this ever since you told me you loved me,” said Edgar, drawing himself a little back and gazing at her with the critical tenderness of a man’s pride and love. “You are like Psyche wakened out of her sleep, and for the first time using your wings and living in the upper air.”
The metaphor was a little confused, but that did not signify. The whole image was essentially Greek to Leam, and she only knew that it sounded well and did somehow apply to her—that she had just awakened out of sleep, and was for the first time using her wings and living in the upper air.
“I have not really lived till now,” she answered. “And now things seem different.”
“In what way?” asked Edgar, smiling.
He knew what she meant, but he wanted to hear her reveal herself.
She smiled too. “More beautiful,” she said, a little vaguely.
“As what? I like to be precise, and I want to know exactly what my darling thinks and means.”
He said this with his most bewitching smile and in his tenderest voice. It was so pleasant to him to receive these first shy, confused confessions.
“The flowers and the sky,” said Leam, raising her eyes and looking through the garden and on to the gray and narrowed horizon. “I remember when flowers were weeds and one day was like another. I did not know if the sun shone or not. But this year seems now to have been always summer and sunshine. The very weeds are more lovely than the flowers used to be.”
“Flowers and sunshine since you knew me, my darling?”
“Yes,” she answered shyly.
Edgar glanced at the heavy clouds hanging over head, but he did not say that he found this gray day singularly gloomy and oppressive, and that even love could not set a fairy sun in the sky. He took up the second clause of her loving speech: “And I am your flower? What a precious little compliment! I hope I shall be your amaranth, my Leam—your everlasting flower—if a rough soldier may have such a pretty comparison made in his favor. Do you think I shall be everlasting to you?”
“When God dies my love will die, and not before,” said Leam, with her grave fervor, her voice of concentrated passion.
Her voice and manner thrilled Edgar. Her words, too, in their very boldness were more exciting than the most refined commonplaces of other women. It was this union of more than ordinary womanly reticence with almost savage passion and directness that had always been Leam’s charm to Edgar; nevertheless, he hesitated for a few minutes, thinking whether he should correct her manner of speech or not, and while loving chasten her. Finally, he decided that he would not. She was only his lover as yet: when she should be his wife it would then be time enough to teach her the subdued conventionalism of English feeling as interpreted by the English tongue used commonly by gentlemen and ladies. Meanwhile, he must give her her head, as he inwardly phrased it, so as not frighten her in the beginning and thus make the end more difficult.
“You love me too much,” he said in a low voice, half oppressed, half excited by her words, for men are difficult to content. The love of women given in excess of their demand embarrasses and maybe chills them; and Edgar had a sudden misgiving, discomposing if quite natural, which appeared, as it were, to check him like a horse in mid-career and throw him back on himself disagreeably. He asked himself doubtfully, Should he be able to answer this intense love so as to make the balance even between them? He loved her dearly, passionately—better than he had ever loved any woman of the many before—but he did not love her like this: he knew that well enough.
“I cannot love you too much,” said Leam. “You are my life, and you are so great.”
“And you will never tire of me?”
She looked into his face, her beautiful eyes worshiping him. “Do we tire of the sun?” she answered.
“Where did you get all your pretty fancies from, my darling?” he cried. “You have developed into a poet as well as a Psyche.”
“Have I? If I have developed into anything, it is because I love you,” she answered, with her sweet pathetic smile.
“But, my Leam, sweetheart—”
“Ah,” she interrupted him with a look of passionate delight, “how I like to hear you call me that! Mamma used to call me her heart. No one else has since—I would not let any one if they had wanted—till now you.”
“And you are my heart,” he answered fervently—“the heart of my heart, my very life!”
“Am I?” she smiled. “And you are mine.”
“But, sweetheart, tell me if, when you know me better, you do not find me all you think me now, what then? Will you hate me for very disappointment?”
He asked the question, but as if he believed in himself and the impossibility of her hatred or disappointment while he asked it.
She looked at him with naive incredulity and surprise. It would have been a challenge to be kissed from any other woman, but Leam, with her fire and passion and personal reticence all in one, had no thought of offering such a challenge, still less of submitting to its consequences.
“Find you all I think?” she repeated slowly. “When I know the saints in heaven, will not they be all I think? Was not Columbus?”
“But I am neither a saint nor a hero,” said Edgar, drawing a sprig of lemon-plant which he held in his hand lightly across her face.
“You are both,” answered Leam as positively as she used to answer Alick about the ugliness of England and the want of flowers in the woods and hedges, and with as much conviction of her case.
“And you are an angel,” he returned.
“No,” said Leam quietly, “I am only the woman who loves you.”
“Ah, but you must not depreciate yourself for my sake,” he said. “My choice, my love, my wife, must be perfect for my own honor. You must respect me in respecting yourself, and if you were to say yes indeed you were an angel, that would only be what is due to me. Don’t you see?” pleasantly.
“Yes,” she answered. “And only an angel would be good enough for you.”
“My sweetest, your flattery is too delicious. It will make me vain and all sorts of bad things,” said Edgar with a happy smile, finding this innocent worship one of the most charming tributes ever brought to the shrine of his lordly manhood by woman.
“It is not flattery: you deserve more,” said Leam. Then lapsing into her old manner of checked utterance, she added, “I cannot talk, but you should be told.”
Edgar thought he had been told pretty often by women the virtues which they had seen in him. Whether they saw what was or what they imagined was not to the point. If love creates, so does vanity, and of the two the latter has the more permanence.
After this there was a long pause. It was as if one chapter had been finished, one cup emptied. Then said Edgar suddenly, “And you will be happy at the Hill?” lightly touching her face again with the lemon-plant.
“With you anywhere,” she answered.
“And my mother? Do you remember when you said one day you would not like to be my mother’s daughter? Ah, little puss, you did not know what you were saying; and now tell me, do you object to be my mother’s daughter?”
Leam looked grave. “I had not thought of that,” she said, a certain shadow of distress crossing her face.
“Does the idea displease you?” he asked, in his turn grave.
“No,” she answered after a short silence. “But I only thought of you. Shall I be Mrs. Harrowby’s daughter?”
“Of course. How should you not?” he laughed.
“And Miss Josephine’s too—two mothers?—mother and daughter both my mothers? I cannot understand,” said poor Leam, a little hopelessly.
“Never mind the intricacies now. You are to be my wife: that is all we need remember. Is it not?” bending toward her tenderly.
“Yes,” echoed Leam with a sigh of relief. “That is all we need remember.”
So the day passed in these broken episodes, these delightful little scenes of the fooling and flattery of love, till the evening came, when Edgar was obliged to go up to the seven-o’clock dinner at the Hill. He might sit with Leam, as he had done, for nearly six hours in the garden, without more comment than that which servants naturally make among themselves, but if he remained through the evening he would publish more than he cared to publish at the present moment. So he had arranged to go back to the family dinner at seven, and thus keep his mother and sisters hoodwinked for a few hours longer.
As the time of parting drew nearer and nearer Leam became strangely sad and silent. Little caressing as she was by nature or habit, of her own accord she had laid her small dry feverish hand in Edgar’s, and had gathered herself so much nearer to him that her slight shoulder touched his broad and powerful arm. It was a very faint caress for an engaged girl to offer, but it was an immense concession for Leam to make; and Edgar understood it in its meaning more than its extent. With the former he was delighted enough: the latter would scarcely have contented a man with loose moist lips and the royal habit of taking and having all for which he had a fancy. Nothing that Leam had said or done through the day had told him so plainly as did this quiet and by no means fervent familiarity how much she loved him, and how the power of that love was breaking up her natural reserve.
“It is as if I should never see you again,” she said sadly when, looking at his watch, he had exclaimed, “Time’s up, my darling! I must be off in five minutes from this. But I shall see you to-morrow,” he answered tenderly. “I shall come down in the morning, as I have done to-day, and perhaps you will ride with me. We will go over some of the old ground, where we used to go when I loved you and you did not think you would ever love me. Ah, fairy that you are, how you have bewitched me!”
“That will be good,” said Learn, who did not resent it in him that she was compared to a thing that did not exist, but adding with a piteous look, “it is taking my life from me when you go.”
“You lovely little darling! I don’t like to see you look unhappy, but I do delight to see how much you love me,” said Edgar. “But you will not have to part with me for very long now. I shall see you every day till the time comes when we shall never be separated—never, never.”
“Ah, that time!” she sighed. “It is far off.”
He smiled, as his manner was, behind his beard, so that she did not see it. “It shall not be far off,” he said gravely. “And now,” looking again at his watch and then at the sky, “I must go.”
The storm that had been threatening through the day was now gathering to a head, and even as Edgar spoke the first flash came, the first distant peal of thunder sounded, the first heavy raindrops fell. There was evidently going to be a fearful tempest, and Edgar must leave now at once if he would not be in the thick of it before he reached home.
“Yes,” said Leam, noting the change in the sky, and unselfish always, “you must go.”
They rose and turned toward the house. Hand in hand they walked slowly across the lawn and entered the drawing-room by the way of the window, by the way by which she had entered twice before—once when she had disclaimed madame, and once when she had welcomed Josephine.
Tears were in her eyes: her heart had failed her.
“It is like losing you for ever,” she said again.
“No, not for ever—only till to-morrow,” he answered.
“To-morrow! to-morrow!” she replied. “There will be no to-morrow.”
“Yes, yes: in a very few hours we shall have come to that blessed day,” he said cheerfully. “Kiss me, darling, that I may carry away your sweetest memory till I see you again. You will kiss me, Leam, of your own free will to-night, will you not?” He said this a little tremulously, his arms round her.
“Yes,” she answered, “I will kiss you to-night.”
She turned her face to him and put her hands round his neck frankly: then with an uncontrollable impulse she flung herself against his breast and, clasping her arms tight, bent his head down to her level and kissed him on the forehead with the passionate sorrow, the reluctant despair of an eternal farewell. It was something that irresistibly suggested death.
Edgar was distressed at her manner, distressed to have to leave her; but he must. Life is made up of petty duties, paltry obligations. Great events come but rarely and are seldom uninterrupted. A shower of rain and the dinner-hour are parts of the mosaic and help in the catastrophe which looks as if it had been the offspring of the moment. And just now the supreme exigencies to be attended to were the dinner-hour at the Hill and the rain that was beginning to fall.
Saddened, surprised, yet gratified too by her emotion, Edgar answered it in his own way. He kissed her again and again, smoothed her hair, passed his hand over her soft fresh cheeks, held her to him tightly clasped; and Leam did not refuse his caresses. She seemed to have suddenly abandoned all the characteristics of her former self: the mask had fallen finally, and her soul, released from its long imprisonment, was receiving its gift, not of tongues, but of fire—not of healing, but of suffering.
“My darling,” he half whispered, “I shall see you to-morrow. Come, do not be so cast down: it is not reasonable, my heart. And tears in those sweet eyes? My Leam, dry them: they are too beautiful for tears. Look up, my darling. Give me one happy little smile, and remember to-morrow and for all our lives after.”
But Learn could not smile. Her face was set to its old mask of tragedy and sorrow. Something, she knew not what, had passed out of her life, and something had come into it—something that Edgar for the moment could neither restore nor yet banish. He pressed her to him for the last time, kissed her passive face again and again, caught the scent of the lemon-plant in her hair where he had placed it, and left her. As he passed through the gate the storm burst in all its fury, and Leam went up into her own room in a voiceless, tearless grief that made the whole earth a desert and all life desolation.
She did know herself this evening, nor understand what it was that ailed her. She had only consciously loved for two days, and this was the anguish to which she had been brought. No, not even when mamma died had she suffered as she was suffering now. She felt as if she had lost him even as she had lost her. She did not believe in to-morrow: it would never come. She would never be with him again as she had been to-day. No self-reasoning, feebly aimed at, could calm her or convince her of the folly of her fears. He had gone, she was left, and they were parted for ever.
She sat by the window desolate, deserted, more alone than she had ever been before, because she had lost more than she had ever either held or lost before. The storm that was raging in the sky grew gradually stronger and came still nearer, but she scarcely noticed it: it was only as the symphony sounding in sad harmony with her unspoken wail. Flash followed flash, swifter, nearer, more vivid; the thunder crashed and roared as if it would have beaten the house to the ground and rent the very earth whereon it stood; the rain fell in torrents that broke the flowers like hail and ran in turbulent rivulets along the paths. Never had there been such a furious tempest as this at North Aston since the days of tradition. It made the people in the village below quail and cry out that the day of judgment had come upon them: it made Leam at last forget her sorrow and quail in her solitude as if her day of judgment too had come upon her.
Then there came one awful flash that seemed to set the whole room on fire; and as Leam started up, thinking that the place was indeed in flames, her eyes fell on the Tables of the Ten Commandments given her by madame; and there, in letters of blood that seemed to cry out against her like a voice, she saw by the light of that accusing flash those words of terrible significance to her:
THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER!
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
Would that my songs might be
What roses make by day and night—–
Distillments of my clod of misery
Soul! could’st thou bare thy breast
As yon red rose, and dare the day,
All clean, and large, and calm with velvet rest?
Say yea—say yea!
Ah, dear my Rose! good-bye!
The wind is up; so drift away.
That songs from me as leaves from thee may fly,
I strive, I pray.
Soul! get thee to the heart
Of yonder tuberose: hide thee there—
There breathe the meditations of thine art
Suffused with prayer.
Of spirit grave but light,
How fervent fragrances uprise
Pure-born from these most rich and yet most white
Mulched with unsavory death,
Grow, Soul! unto such white estate,
Strong art and virginal prayer shall be thy breath,
Thy work, thy fate.
[Illustration: MOUNT PLEASANT.]
It is pleasant, on a warm, sunny afternoon in the spring-time (or, indeed, at any season of the year, but I love the spring-time best), to take the broad, well-shaded avenue on the east bank of the Schuylkill at Fairmount Park, and, passing the pretty little club boat-houses already green with their thick overhanging vines, to saunter slowly along the narrow roadway on the water’s edge to the great Girard Avenue Bridge, and so on through the cool dark tunnel, coming out on the steep railed path that winds up and away from the river to bury itself for a while in rich deep woodlands, only to bring you presently to the water-side again, where stands the fine old Mount Pleasant mansion, the country-seat of Benedict Arnold nearly a hundred years ago, and bestowed by him as a marriage-gift upon his new-made bride in April, 1779. A sweet, cool air blows up to you from the river, purple and white violets, buttercups and Quaker ladies are set thickly about your feet, the newly-arrived orioles are piping their pert little tunes nigh at hand, and you can spend a meditative hour or two sitting in the shifting specks of yellow sunshine filtered through the tender young leaves overhead, undisturbed by the shades of departed revelers that may be wandering behind the close shutters of the silent old house you have come so far to see. There is a curious and distinct flavor of antiquity about the place; for the woodwork around the doors and windows, which has so bravely withstood the corroding tooth of Time and the wearing rain-drip from the great tree-branches creaking above the roof, is of a quaint but excellent pattern, of which we see too little in these days of hideous sawed scrollery and gimcrack ornament—the masonry of such an honest solidity as may well cause the dweller in modern brick and sandy mortar to sigh enviously for the “good old times.” Although the house appears to be extremely large, it contains very few rooms, and none of these are so spacious as might be reasonably expected from the outside. The staircases are singularly ill-contrived, the landings upon the upper floors occupying a space quite sufficient for goodly-sized chambers. The ceilings and a chimney-panel or two are set out bravely with the usual stucco imitation of wood-carving we almost invariably find (and sigh over) in old American houses—a piteous attempt on the part of our honest ancestors to reproduce in some sort the rare wood-sculpture of their own old English manor-houses: it is a satisfaction, too, to note what little progress we have contrived to make in this unworthy branch of decorative art in the lapse of a century.
In two of the rooms are queer corner fireplaces, where, doubtless, many pairs of dainty high-heeled slippers and great military jack-boots have been toasted at the huge hickory fires, long since extinguished. In one of the upper chambers is an odd sort of closet, the shelves of which are furnished with low railings, presumably a protection for the handsome and valuable china that women have always loved to store up—a check upon the ravages of careless housemaids. It is quite worth while to climb the breakneck garret-stairs, which must have bruised many a shin in their day, and the short flight leading to the roof, in order to get the glorious view of the Park stretching away down to the city of Philadelphia, and of the beautiful Schuylkill River winding in and out among the trees and flashing so silvery white in the afternoon sunshine.
In the cellarage, where we disturb many busy spiders and stealthy centipedes, is a large, solidly-floored apartment, where possibly the house-servants were used to congregate in the old slave days. There is no chimney-place in this room, nor, indeed, is there any convenience whatever for cooking purposes in the main building, which omission inclines me to the opinion that one of the detached wings was used for the kitchen offices, there being large fireplaces in both of them, very suitable for the getting up of good dinners. The grounds about the house have been much altered of late years—the gardens long since destroyed. A smug, close-shaven turf replaces the old-fashioned flower-beds and shrubbery, amid which I love to fancy sweet Peggy Arnold trailing her French brocades and flowered chintzes, her rosy ear attuned to the high-flown compliments of the men of fashion whom her beauty and her husband’s lavish hospitality drew about her—her husband the traitor who a few months afterward was flying, a detected felon, from justice, leaving his fair young wife, with her babe in her arms, to face the awful wrath of Washington.
[Footnote 3: A proposition has been recently made to the Fairmount Park Commissioners by Colonel Frank W. Etting, a Philadelphia lawyer of well-known taste and culture, to fit up the Mount Pleasant mansion in the fashion of Colonial times, he having at his command a sufficient quantity of furniture, pictures, china, etc. for the proper representation of a house of the best sort in those days. It is to be hoped that this generous offer may meet with the attention it deserves, as such a memorial could scarcely fail to prove a great attraction to our Centennial visitors. Mount Pleasant is fortunately associated with the memories of better men than Benedict Arnold. The brave Major Macpherson built the house for his own occupancy before the Revolutionary war, and General Baron Von Steuben passed a part of his honorable retirement there, dating his letters humorously from “Belisarius Hall, on the Schuylkill.”]
Doubtless, many a stately minuet and frolicsome country-dance has been trod in those now dark and empty rooms by the Philadelphia belles and beaux of 1780, when, the rich furniture all set back against the walls, the general’s blacks were had up from the negro quarters with blaring horns and shrill fiddles to play for the quality. Alas! the horns and fiddles sound no more, the merry, grinning players are but a pinch of dust like their betters, their haughty master but a scorned memory where once he reigned so royally, while the modish guests who frisked it so gayly in satin and velvet have long, long ago shaken the powder out of their locks, tied up their jaws and packed themselves away in their scant winding-sheets, resigned to the mournful company of the worm.
Brief tenure held the fair chatelaine of this castle: a year and a half after the date inscribed upon her title-deeds the republic claimed the traitor’s possessions, and pretty Peggy was driven forth by the Executive Council to find a home with strangers, but fourteen days being granted her in which to prepare for her doleful journey. Our excellent forefathers were made of stern stuff to suit the humor of those trying times, and doubtless they did but their duty in ridding their country of the “traitor’s brood;” but for my part I can scarcely think, even at this late day, without a pang of indignant pity, of this innocent and forlorn young creature hounded forth from her father’s peaceful home in Philadelphia, with her child in her arms—driven almost to the protection of the man whose crime she abhorred, and from whom in her first frenzied grief she was even willing to be for ever separated. There have not been wanting certain persons, headed by that noble patriot and veracious gentleman, Colonel Aaron Burr, who from time to time have busied themselves in putting stray hints together with the intent to make Arnold’s wife an accomplice, if not the direct instigator, of his infamous design; but there is not in existence, so far as I have been able to learn, a particle of evidence sufficient to justify the casting of ever so small a stone at the memory of this most unfortunate lady, whose name is so pitilessly linked with that of the traitor.
She must have been extremely beautiful. I have had the good fortune to see her portrait, painted about 1795 at Bath, England, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and now in the possession of her grand-niece, a lady to whom I am indebted for much that I have been able to gather of the character of Mrs. Arnold. The picture is taken in crayons, and the colors are wonderfully fresh and lovely after eighty years and a voyage across the sea, the delicate flesh-tints being especially well preserved. Besides real beauty of feature, there is an enchanting softness in the character of the face that seems to belong only to temperaments the most feminine and refined. A pale pink gown falls back from her gracious neck and shoulders, liberally and innocently displayed according to the fashion of the time, and is tied about her waist with a broad sky-blue ribbon: her hair, lightly dashed with powder and rolled away from her face, strays in rich curls about her throat. A child of two or three years leans upon her knee, and pulls at one of her ringlets with a roguish smile upon his chubby face.
The century that has nearly elapsed since Arnold’s defection has not served to lighten in any degree the load of obloquy that rests upon his name. In the whole world no man has been found willing to undertake his defence; yet a believer in the dark old Calvinist doctrine might urge in the traitor’s favor the thousand invisible influences which from the very birth of the wretched man seem to have goaded him on in the downward path that led to his final disgrace and ruin. His home-training, if such it might be called, was of the very worst. His mother an ignorant, uncultured woman, his father a defaulter in middle life, in his age a sot, the boy was left to follow the promptings of his own will, naturally strong and turbulent. His youth was stormy and insubordinate, his young manhood not without the reproach of dishonorable mercantile dealings, and even the splendor of his military achievements in the service of his country could scarcely blind the judgment of his warmest admirers to the suspicious stains upon his moral character. That the last link in the chain of influences might not be wanting, Arnold, while in command of Philadelphia in 1778, fell deeply in love with and married the youngest daughter of Mr. Edward Shippen (afterward chief-justice), a distinguished lawyer of well-known Tory proclivities, although he was entirely acquitted of any share in the treasonable design of his son-in-law. It does not appear that there was any very serious objection made in the Shippen household to the rebel general’s suit for the hand of the lovely Peggy. Arnold was at this time about thirty-eight years of age, in the vigorous prime of a life whose declining years were destined to be passed in a sort of contemptuous tolerance among those with whom he had been at bargain and sale for the liberties of his country. Covered with well-earned glory from his brilliant feats of bravery at the battles of Bemis Heights and Stillwater, and slightly lame from a severe wound in the leg received at Quebec, he was at last accorded his full rank in the army, and entered upon the military command of Philadelphia with every conceivable circumstance in his favor. The stories of his courage and daring which had preceded him, aided by his handsome person and fine military bearing, combined to ensure his success in society, and he was at once given the entree to the best city families, from one of which he soon singled out the lady who became his wife. Her father writes to Colonel Burd in January, 1779, that “General Arnold, a fine gentleman, lays close siege to Peggy,” and goes on to hint that a wedding may soon be expected. If the traitor’s tongue was only half as persuasive as his pen, small wonder that the damsel capitulated. “Dear Peggy,” sighs the ardent lover upon paper, “suffer that heavenly bosom (which cannot know itself the cause of pain without a sympathetic pang) to expand with a sensation more soft, more tender than friendship.... I have presumed to write to your papa, and have requested
[Footnote 4: See Letters and Papers relating to the Provincial History of Pennsylvania, by Mr. Thomas Balch.]
The newly-wedded pair set up their household in the old Penn mansion (long since torn down) on a scale of magnificence in no way warranted by Arnold’s means. Their great coach-and-four was seen thundering back and forth through the streets of the quiet little town, and a motley throng of guests, Whig and Tory, were entertained at a table where nothing was thought too choice and costly for their delectation. Matters were carried with such extravagance that debt soon pressed upon the thoughtless pair, and prudent people began to inquire curiously into Arnold’s administration of public affairs. Whispers soon grew into loud complaints, and a court-martial was presently convened to investigate certain charges brought against him by the Executive Council, comprising peculation, misappropriation of public funds, etc. During the tedious deliberation of this body of his fellow-officers, and in the almost certain event of the day going against him, Arnold laid his plan for the grand coup, which, if successful, would at once gratify his deep longing for revenge and place him, as he fondly hoped, at the very summit of his ambition—the equal of the proudest noble, the lauded servant of a grateful prince. It seems almost incredible that he should have persevered in his design after the very lenient decision of his judges, who acquitted him of all save the most trifling of the charges against him, and decreed that he should merely receive a reprimand from the commander-in-chief. Every one knows the encouraging and beautiful advice with which this slight censure was tempered, and must recognize the fine manly spirit that prompted it: it should have sunk deeply into the culprit’s heart and made of him the grateful friend of Washington for ever. It did indeed sink deeply, but it was into a traitor’s heart, and it rankled there.
It is very possible that here, in this lovely retreat on the banks of the Schuylkill, in the long summer days of 1780, was matured the slowly-ripening plot, which but for its timely discovery must have seriously imperiled, if not altogether lost to us, the glorious inheritance we have held these hundred years. One can fancy the martial figure of the brave, bad man pacing back and forth beneath these very trees perhaps, absorbed in bitter reflections on his real and fancied wrongs—the rapid promotion of men younger than himself both in years and services, whilst his own bold deeds had met with but tardy acknowledgment from a cold and cautious Congress; the long array of debts which arose like spectres to harass him even in this peaceful Eden; and, worst of all, the humiliating remembrance of Washington’s rebuke. It cannot be denied that the temptation to free himself from the toils in which his own dishonest course had entangled him must have beset the unhappy man with almost resistless power. With his hopelessly impaired character, and weighed down by debts he had no means of discharging—for he could scarcely hope for an early settlement of his accounts from a Congress already impoverished by an expensive war—to remain in the army was, to a man of Arnold’s proud, selfish nature, almost out of the question. By going over to the enemy he could at once shake off associations which were now become intolerable to him, gain perpetual immunity from his liabilities, and secure for himself a life of distinction and luxury. He grasped at the delusive vision and was lost for ever.
In August of this year he received the coveted appointment to the command of West Point, and Philadelphia saw him no more. He took up his residence in Beverley Robinson’s lately-vacated house on the east bank of the Hudson and nearly opposite the entrenchments at West Point. The story of the discovered plot and Major Andre’s detention is too well known to be more than glanced at here: everything was in readiness for the surrender of the post into the hands of Sir Henry Clinton when the unfortunate young adjutant was taken, and the papers criminating Arnold found upon his person. No one, I am sure, can read unmoved Dr. Thacher’s eye-witness account of the execution of this officer, lost through Arnold’s cowardly blundering. The gravity of his offence against a flag of truce need not prevent our admiration of his soldierly conduct after his arrest, the perfect truthfulness to which he adhered during his examination, and the noble resignation with which he met his dreadful fate. Arnold had here a fine opportunity to retrieve in some degree the bitter mischief of which he had been the occasion. Had he but come forth and suffered in Andre’s place, the blackness of his crime would have almost disappeared in the brilliancy of his atonement; but he chose a living death instead, and his hapless victim went to his doom accompanied by the pity of every honest American heart. His
One can easily picture the terror and anguish she bore with her to her old home; the uncertainty regarding her own fate and that of her child; the haunting thought of young Andre’s approaching doom, and, more piteous than all else, the ever—recurring temptation that sorely beset her to see no more the author of her undoing, the still beloved father of her babe. It is difficult to imagine a more awful situation, and one can almost forgive her first hasty sentence against the man who had wrought her such ill. She forgot for a while that she had taken upon her those sacred vows “for better, for worse:” the worst indeed had come, and for my part I own I am glad that she chose the nobler part. He was a traitor, but she, alas! was the traitor’s wife. She accompanied him to England, where her dignity and sweetness helped to sustain her husband in the doubtful position he held in society. Her letters to her family bear witness to his unfailing love for her and anxious care of her welfare, but breathe a spirit of resignation incompatible with perfect happiness. Once only did she return to America. After peace was proclaimed she visited her beloved old home, but meeting with much unkindness from her former friends, soon left for England again. She died in 1804, surviving Arnold but three years.
A lady of this city, the granddaughter of our first republican governor, told me that two of Arnold’s grandsons came to America some years ago, and to their great surprise found themselves unable to make any figure in Philadelphia society, where they were quietly but persistently ignored, so strong was the public prejudice against their name.
Arnold died in London in the winter of 1801. We shrink away almost appalled from the awful picture of that death-bed—the neglected, despised old man, with the gloom closing in about him and left to face it almost alone. The great people to whom he had sold his honor had long ago paid him his price, and, washing their hands of him, had passed over to the other side of the way with averted faces; the stout old king who had protected him from insult as long as he could was already in the clutch of the fatal malady which was soon to consign his intellect to eternal night; and it is said that but one creature stood beside the dying traitor in that supreme hour—the fond woman who had so lightened the burden of shame he had borne for twenty long years of splendor and misery, and whose own deliverance was so nigh at hand.
A singular story is told of Arnold’s last moments, which if true (and pray God it may be!) should be linked with the memory of his crime for ever. It is said that he ordered to be brought from the garret of his house the old Continental uniform and sword he had worn for the last time on the memorable day of his escape from West Point. With trembling hands he unfolded the coat, and, drawing it painfully over his shoulders, sat lost in long and deep reflection: then, rousing himself with a sigh, he drew the sword from its scabbard, and clenching one hand upon the rich hilt, passed the other absently along the blade; then with a wild look of regret in his fast-glazing eyes he let the weapon drop from his grasp, his head sank upon his breast and he remained motionless until he died, drawing each breath longer and longer until all were spent. I love to think that he died with the Continental coat upon his shoulders, nor was it again dishonored by the contact: it even seems to have lent a ray of its own untarnished lustre to brighten the last dark, remorseful hours of a ruined life.
BY IVAN TOURGUENEFF.
I will tell you my story about the watch. A singular story! The whole thing at the very beginning of the century, in the year 1801. I was just sixteen. I lived at Riasan with my father, aunt and cousin, in a little wooden house not far from the banks of the Oka. I don’t remember my mother: she died when she had been only three years married, and my father had no child but me. My father’s name was Porphyr Petrovitch: he was a quiet man with feeble health, who occupied himself with managing law-business, and—in
Gregory’s son David, my cousin, was left on my father’s hands, and he lived with us. He was only a year older than I, but I gave way to him and obeyed him as if he had been a most important personage. He was a bright boy of a good deal of character, sturdy and broad-shouldered, with a square, freckled face, red hair, small gray eyes, thick lips, a short nose and short fingers, and of a strength far beyond his years. My aunt could not endure him, and my father was afraid of him, or perhaps had a consciousness of guilt before him. There had been a rumor that if my father had not told too much and left his brother in the lurch, David’s father would not have been sent to Siberia. We were both in the same class in the gymnasium, and we both made good progress—I somewhat better than David. My memory was stronger than his, but boys, as every one knows, do not appreciate that advantage: they are not proud of it; and in spite of it I always looked up to David.
My name, as you know, is Alexis. I was born on the seventh of March, and celebrate my birthday on the seventeenth. They gave me, according to the old custom, the name of one of those saints whose anniversary fell ten days after my birth. My godfather was a certain Anastasius Anistasiovitch Putschkow, or Nastasa Nastasaitch, as he was always called. He was a fearful liar and slanderer and cheat—a thoroughly bad man: he had been turned out of a government office, and had been brought before the court more than once; but my father needed him: they “worked” together. In appearance he was stout and bloated, with a face like a fox, a nose as sharp as a needle, little dark, glistening eyes, like a fox’s eyes, and he kept them always moving from side to side; and he moved his nose too, as if he were sniffing something in the air. He wore high-heeled shoes, and he powdered his hair every day, which was considered strange conduct in the provinces in those days. He assured people he could not do otherwise, as he was acquainted with so many generals and generals’ wives. And my birthday came, and Nastasa Nastasaitch appeared at our house and said, “I have never yet given you anything, but see what I have brought you to-day.” And he took from his pocket an old-fashioned silver watch, with a rose painted on the face, and a bronze chain.
I stood motionless with joy, and my aunt screamed out, “Kiss his hand, kiss his hand, stu—, boy!”
I kissed my godfather’s hand, but my aunt added, “Oh, Nastasa, why do you spoil him so? What should he want of a watch? He will be sure to lose it or break it.”
My father came in, looked at the watch, and having thanked Nastasa somewhat coolly, called him into his office. I heard my father say, as if he were talking to himself, “If you hope to get off in that way—” But I could not wait a moment longer: I stuck the watch in my pocket and rushed off to show it to David.
David took the watch, opened it and examined it carefully. He had a great talent for mechanics: he could work in iron, copper and all kinds of metals. He had got himself several kinds of tools, and he could easily repair or make anew a screw, a key, and so on. David turned the watch about in his hands, and muttered between his teeth—he was not talkative—“Old—poor,” and asked, “Where did you get it?”
I told him my godfather gave it to me.
“Yes, Nastasa Nastasaitch.”
David set the watch down on the table and walked off without a word.
“You don’t like it?” I asked.
“No: that’s not it; but in your place I would not have taken any present from Nastasa.”
“Because he is a contemptible creature, and I would not be under any obligations to him, or have to thank him for anything if I could help it. You kissed his hand, I suppose?”
“Yes: my aunt made me.”
David smiled with a singular expression. That was his way. He never laughed aloud: he considered it a sign of weakness. David’s words and his quiet smile pained me much. “He is blaming me in his heart,” I thought. “In his eyes I am contemptible. He would never have lowered himself in that way: he would never accept a present from Nastasa. But what shall I do now?”
To give back the watch was impossible.
I tried to talk it over with David and get his advice, but he answered that he never gave any one advice, and that I must do what I thought best. I remember I could not sleep all that night, so great was my anxiety. It was hard to part with the watch. I put it on the table at my bedside, and it ticked so pleasantly! But then to feel that David despised me—and there was no doubt that he did—was unendurable. By morning I had come to a determination. It made me cry, but I went to sleep as soon as I had made it, and when I awoke I put on my clothes quickly and ran out in the street. I had determined to give my watch to the first poor person I met.
I had not gone far from the house when I met what I wanted. A boy about ten years old ran across my path—a ragged, barefooted little fellow, who was often idling in front of our windows. I sprang toward him, and without giving him or myself time for reflection I offered him my watch. The boy stared at me, and raised one hand to his mouth as if he was afraid of burning his fingers, while he held out the other.
“Take it, take it!” I murmured: “it’s mine—I give it to you. You can sell it and get something with the money, whatever you want. Good-bye!”
I thrust the watch into his hand, and ran quickly home. I stood for a minute behind the door of our common bedroom, and when I had recovered my breath I went up to David, who had nearly dressed himself and was combing his hair. “Do you know, David,” I began with as calm a voice as I could muster, “I have given Nastasa’s watch away?”
David looked at me and went on arranging his hair.
“Yes,” I added in the same business-like tone, “I have given it away. There’s a little boy very poor and miserable, and I’ve given it to him.”
David put the brush down on the washstand.
“For the money he will get for it he can buy himself something useful. He will certainly get something for it.” I was silent.
“Well, that’s good,” said David at last; and he went into our study, I following him.
“And if they ask you what you have done with it?” he suggested.
“I shall say I have lost it,” I answered, as if that did not trouble me a bit. We spoke no more about the watch that day, but it seemed to me that David not only approved of what I had done, but that he really admired it to some extent. I was sure he did.
Two days went by. It happened that no one in the house thought about the watch. My father had some trouble with his clients, and did not concern himself with me or my watch. I, on the contrary, was thinking of it all the time. Even the supposed approval of David comforted me but little. He had not openly expressed it; only he had said once when we were talking together that he would not have expected it of me. Decidedly, my sacrifice was of but little use, since the satisfaction of my vanity did not compensate me for it. As luck would have it, there came a schoolmate of ours, the son of the city physician, who kept bragging of not even a silver, but of a pinchbeck watch his grandmother had given him. At last I could bear it no longer, and one day I slunk quietly out of the house, determined to find the boy to whom I had given my watch. I soon came across him: he was playing jackstones with some other boys in the church-porch. I called him aside, and, hardly waiting to take breath, I stammered out that my parents were very angry with me for giving the watch away, and that if he was willing to give it back to me I would gladly pay him for it. I had brought an Elizabeth ruble with me, which was all my savings.
“But I haven’t got your watch,” answered the boy with a tearful voice. “My father saw me have it and took it away from me: he did, and he wanted to whip me too. He said I must have stolen it somewhere. He said, ‘Who would be such a fool as to give you a watch?’”
“And who is your father?”
“My father? Trofimytsch.”
“But what is he? what’s his business?”
“He is a discharged soldier, a sergeant, and he has no business. He mends and soles old shoes. That’s all the business he has. He supports himself by that, too.”
“Where does he live? Take me to him.”
“Yes, I’ll show you the way. You’ll tell him you gave me the watch, won’t you? He keeps calling me names about it, and my mother keeps asking, ‘Who do you take after, that you’re such a scamp?’”
The boy and I went together to his house. It was merely a rickety hut built in the back yard of a factory that had been burned down and never built up again. We found Trofimytsch and his wife at home. The discharged sergeant was a tall old man, straight and strong, with grayish-yellow whiskers, unshaven chin, a network of wrinkles on his forehead and cheeks. His wife looked older than he: her eyes shone dimly from the midst of a somewhat swollen face, into which they seemed to have been driven. Both wore dirty rags for clothes. I explained to Trofimytsch what I wanted and why I had come. He listened in silence, without even winking or turning his dull, attentive, soldierlike glance away from me.
“How foolish!” he said at last with a rough, toothless bass voice. “Do fine young men behave like that? If Petka did not steal the watch, that is one thing; but if he did, then I’ll give it to him with the stick, as they used to do in the regiment. What is that? ’What a pity!’ The stick, that’s all. Pshaw!” Trofimytsch uttered these incoherent exclamations in falsetto: he had apparently understood nothing.
“If you will give me back the watch,” I explained—I did not venture to say “thou” to him, although he was but a common soldier—“I’ll willingly give you a ruble for it. I don’t think it’s worth more.”
“Humph!” muttered Trofimytsch, who still did not understand, but continued to gaze at me attentively as if I were his superior officer. “So that’s the way the matter stands? Well, then, take it.—Be still, Uliana!” he screamed angrily at his wife, who opened her mouth as if she were about to speak.—“There is the watch,” he continued, opening a drawer: “if it’s yours, be kind enough to take it, but why should I take the ruble?”
“Take the ruble, Trofimytsch, you fool!” sobbed his wife. “Have you gone crazy, old man? Not a single farthing have we left in our pockets if we were to turn them inside out, and here you are putting on airs! They’ve cut off your pigtail, but you’re an old woman still. How can you act so? Take the money! Would you give the watch away?”
“Be still, you chatterbox!” repeated Trofimytsch. “When did one ever see such a sight? A woman reasoning! ha! Her husband is the head, and she—disputes!—Petka, don’t mutter, or I’ll kill you.—There’s the watch.” Trofimytsch held out the watch toward me, but would not let go of it. He considered for a moment: then he lowered his eyes and fixed that dull, straightforward glance upon me, and then suddenly screamed as loud as he could, “Where is it? where is the ruble?”
“Here, here!” I said hastily, and pulled the money out of my pocket. He did not take it, however, but continued to stare at me. I put the ruble on the table. He pushed it with one shove into the table-drawer, threw the watch to me, turned to the right about, and hissed at his wife and boy, “Away with you! get out!”
Uliana tried to stammer out a few words, but I was already outside the door on the street. I dropped the watch into the bottom of my pocket, held it tight with my hand and hastened homeward.
I was again in possession of my watch, and yet it gave me no pleasure. I could not wear it, and above everything I had to hide from David what I had done. What would he have thought of me and of my lack of character? I could not even put my watch in the drawer, for we kept all our things there in common. I had to hide it—at one time on the top of the wardrobe, at another under the mattress, again behind the stove; and yet I did not succeed in deceiving David.
Once I had taken the watch from under the planks of our floor, and was trying to polish its silver case with an old leather glove. David had gone somewhere down town, and I did not think he was back when suddenly there he stood in the doorway! I was so confused that I almost let the watch drop, and, my face hot with blushes, I felt despairingly for my waistcoat pocket to put my watch into it. David looked at me and smiled in his silent way. “What are you after?” he said at last. “Did you think I didn’t know you’d got the watch again? I saw it the first day you brought it back.”
“I assure you—” I began with tears.
David shrugged his shoulders: “The watch is yours: you can do what you please with it.”
When he had said those hard words he went out. I was overcome with mortification. This time there was no doubt that David despised me. That could not be borne. “I will show him,” I said to myself, setting my teeth hard. With a firm step I walked into the next room, where our servant Juschka was, and gave him the watch. At first Juschka would not take it, but I declared to him that if he would not take the watch I would break it into pieces, trample it to powder, crush it to atoms. He thought for a moment, and finally consented to take it. When I came back to our room I found David reading a book. I told him what I had done. He did not lift his eyes from the page he was reading, but shrugged his shoulders again and said, “The watch is yours to do what you like with it.” But it seemed to me as if he despised me a little less. I was fully determined not again to lay myself open to the charge of having no character, for this watch, this hateful present of my hateful godfather, had become so detestable that I could not understand how I could ever have been sorry to lose it, how I could have brought myself to begging it from a man like Trofimytsch, and give him the right to believe that he had behaved generously to me in regard to it.
Some days passed by. I remember that on one of them there came a great piece of news: the emperor Paul was dead, and his son Alexander, of whose generosity and humanity much had been said, had ascended the throne. This news greatly excited David, and awoke in him the hope of again seeing his father, and of seeing him soon. My father too was very glad. “All the exiles will now be allowed to return from Siberia, and they won’t forget my brother Jegor,” he repeated, rubbing his hands, but with a somewhat anxious expression. David I and I stopped working, and we did not even make a pretence of going to the gymnasium; indeed, we did not even go out to walk, but we used to hang about the house and conjecture and reckon in how many months, how many weeks, how many days “brother Jegor” would return—where we should write to him, how we would receive him, and how we should live then. “Brother Jegor” was an architect, and we both decided that he should move to Moscow and build there great schools for the poor, and we should be his assistants. The watch meanwhile we had entirely forgotten, but it was determined to recall itself to our memory.
One morning, just after breakfast, I was sitting alone in the window thinking of my uncle’s return. The April thaw was dripping and sparkling without, when my aunt, Pulcheria Petrovna, rushed suddenly into the room. She was always very excitable and complaining, and she always spoke with a shrill voice, gesticulating a great deal; but this time she pounced upon me. “Come, come, go to your father this minute, young sir,” she sputtered out. “What tricks you’ve been up to, you shameless boy! But you’ll catch it, both of you. Nastasa Nastasaitch has discovered all your goings on. Go! Your father has sent for you: go this moment.”
I mechanically followed my aunt, without in the least understanding what it was all about, and as I crossed the thresh-hold I saw my father with his hair on end walking up and down the room with long strides. Juschka was in tears near the door, and my godfather was sitting on a stool in the corner with a very malicious expression in his open nostrils and wandering eyes. My father flew at me as soon as I entered the room: “Did you give Juschka the watch? What?”
I looked at Juschka.
“Tell me,” repeated my father, stamping with his feet.
“Yes,” I answered, and immediately received a violent box on the ear, which gave my aunt a great deal of satisfaction. I heard her smack her lips with pleasure, as if she had just taken a good swallow of hot tea. My father rushed from me to Juschka. “You rascal! you ought not to have taken the watch,” he cried, seizing him by the hair; “and you sold it to the watchmaker, you good-for-nothing fellow!”
Juschka, in fact, as I afterward learned, had in the simplicity of his heart sold my watch to a neighboring watchmaker. The watchmaker had hung it up in his window, where Nastasa had seen it. He bought it and brought it back to us. Juschka and I were not detained long: my father got out of breath and began to cough, and besides it was not his way to be cross.
“Brother,” said my aunt, who noticed with regret that he was getting over his wrath, “don’t trouble yourself any more about this matter: it’s not worth dirtying your hands about. And listen to my proposal: if Nastasa consents, in view of your son’s great ingratitude, I will take charge of the watch myself, and since he has shown by his behavior that he is no longer worthy of wearing it, I will give it in your name to a person who will know how to value your kindness as it deserves.”
“Who is that?” asked my father.
“Christian Lukitsch,” answered my aunt with a little hesitation.
“Christian?” asked my father; and then added with a wave of the hand, “It’s all the same to me: you may throw it into the fire, for all I care.”
He buttoned his waistcoat, which had come undone, and went out, doubled up with coughing.
“And you, cousin, do you agree?” said my aunt, turning to Nastasa.
“Entirely,” he answered. During the whole scene he had not stirred from his stool, but there he sat, breathing audibly, rubbing the tips of his fingers together, and turning his fox eyes by turns on me, my father and Juschka. We gave him a great deal of amusement.
My aunt’s proposal stirred me to the depths of my soul. I did not care for the watch, but I had a great dislike for the person to whom she proposed giving it. This Christian Lukitsch, whose family name was Trankwillitatin, a lanky blockhead of a student, had the habit of coming to see us, the deuce knows why. To see about the children’s education, my aunt used to say; but he could not do anything of the sort, because he was very ignorant and as stupid as a horse. He was like a horse, too, in other ways: he used to stamp his feet like hoofs, he neighed rather than laughed, and opened his jaws when he did so till you could see down his throat; and he had a long face with a curved nose and large, flat check-bones: he wore a rough coat and smelt of raw meat. My aunt called him a respectable man, a cavalier, and even a grenadier. He had a way of tapping children on the forehead with the hard nails of his long fingers (he used to do it to me when I was younger) and saying, “Hear how empty your head sounds,” and then laughing at his own wit. And this idiot was to have my watch? Never! was what I determined as I rushed from the room and flung myself at full length on my bed, my cheeks burning with the box on the ear I had just received. But in my heart was burning the bitterness of outraged dignity and thirst for revenge. Never would I let him triumph over me—wear the watch, hang the chain over his waistcoat, and neigh with joy. That was all very well, but how prevent it? I determined to steal the watch from my aunt.
Fortunately, Trankwillitatin was just at this time out of town. He could not come to see us before the next day: advantage must be taken of the intervening night. My aunt did not sleep with her door locked—indeed, throughout the house we had no keys in the doors—but where did she hide the watch? Until evening she carried it about in her pocket, and so ensured its safety, but at night where will she put it? Well, that’s just what I must find out, I thought, and clenched my fist. I was glowing with audacity and fear and joy at the idea of the crime I was about to commit. I kept nodding my head, I wrinkled my forehead, I whispered to myself, “Just wait!” I kept threatening every one: I was cross, I was dangerous; and I even avoided David. No one, and particularly not he, should have any suspicion of what I was about to do. I would act alone, and bear the whole responsibility. Slowly the day crept by, then the evening: at last night came. I did nothing: I scarcely moved. One thought filled my head. At supper my father, whose anger never lasted very long, and who was already a little sorry for his violence, tried to bring me back to my good-humor, but I repelled his advances—not, as he thought, because I could not conquer my wrath, but simply because I feared becoming sentimental. I must preserve undiminished the whole glow of my indignation, the whole vigor of an unalterable determination. I went to bed early, but you may well believe I did not close my eyes. I kept them wide open, although I had pulled the bed-clothes over my head. I had not thought over beforehand what I should do: I had no fixed plan. I was only waiting for the house to get quiet. The only precaution I took was to keep on my stockings. My aunt’s chamber was in the second story. I should have to go through the dining-room, the ante-room, up a flight of stairs, along an entry, and on the right was the door. It was not necessary to take a candle or lantern: I knew that in the corner of my aunt’s chamber there was a shrine with a light always burning before it, so I should be able to see well enough. I lay with my eyes wide open, my mouth open and dry: the blood throbbing in my temples, my ears, throat, back, throughout my whole body. I waited, but it seemed to me as if a demon were tormenting me. Time went by, but the house did not get quiet.
Never, it seemed to me, had David been so long in going to sleep: David, the taciturn David, even talked to me. Never did the people in the house clatter and walk about and talk so late. And what are they talking about now? thought I. Haven’t they had time enough since morning? Outdoors, too, the noise kept up very late. A dog would bark with long-protracted howls; then a drunken man would go by with a racket; then a rattling wagon would seem as if it took for ever to get past the house. But these outdoor noises did not vex me: on the
And there is the watch! It is hanging behind the bed in an embroidered watch-pocket on the wall. That’s lucky! I hesitate, but there is no use in delaying. But what are these—soft, quick footsteps behind me? Oh no, it is only my heart beating. I take a step forward. Heavens! Something round and quite large touches me just below the knee once and then again. I am on the point of crying out: I am near sinking to the ground with terror. A striped cat, our cat, stands before me with her back curved and her
“Do you know what we’ll do?” he said at last: “we’ll bury this stupid watch in the ground, so that there shall be nothing left of it.”
I consider this an admirable plan, and in a few minutes we dress ourselves, run into the orchard behind the house, and when we have dug a deep hole in the soft earth with David’s knife, we bury beneath an old apple tree my godfather’s hated present, which now will never fall into the hands of the disagreeable Trankwillitatin. We throw back the earth, sprinkle rubbish over the spot, and, proud and happy, without being seen, we return to the house, go back to bed, and enjoy for another hour a light, happy sleep.
You can imagine what a row there was the next morning when my aunt woke up and missed the watch. To this day her piercing cry resounds in my ears. “Help! robbers!” she shrieked, and alarmed the whole house. But David and I only smiled quietly to ourselves, and our smiles were sweet. “Every one must be punished,” screamed my aunt. “The watch has been taken from beneath my head—from beneath my pillow!” We were prepared for everything, for the worst, but, contrary to our expectations, it all blew over.
At first my father was very angry: he even spoke of the police, but the trial of the day before must have tired him a good deal, and suddenly, to my aunt’s indescribable astonishment, he vented his wrath on her instead of us. “You have given me enough trouble already about the watch, Pulcheria Petrovna,” he cried: “I don’t want to hear anything more about it. It did not take itself off by magic, and what do I care if it did? They stole it from you? That was your lookout. ‘What will Nastasa say?’ Confound Nastasa! He does nothing but cheat and practice dirty tricks. Don’t dare to bother me any more with this: do you hear?”
My father then went to his room, slamming the door behind him. David and I did not at first understand what his last words referred to: we found out later that my father was at that time much vexed with Nastasa, who had snapped up some paying piece of business which had belonged to him. So my aunt had to withdraw with a long face. She was nearly bursting with rage, but there was nothing to do, and she was obliged to content herself with whispering hoarsely, “Rascal! rascal! jailbird! thief!” whenever she passed me. My aunt’s reproaches were a great delight to me, and it was also very pleasant whenever we went by the garden fence to throw an apparently indifferent glance at the spot beneath the apple tree where the watch rested, and also, if David was by, to exchange with him a knowing wink.
My aunt first tried to set Trankwillitatin against me, but I made David help me. He spoke up to the tall student, and told him he’d cut him open with a knife if he didn’t leave me alone. Trankwillitatin was frightened, for, although my aunt called him a grenadier and a cavalier, he was not remarkable for bravery.
But you don’t suppose I have come to the end of my story yet? No, it’s not yet finished; only, in order to continue it, I must introduce a new person, and to introduce this new person I must go back a little.
My father was for a long time on very friendly and even intimate terms with a former official, named Latkin, a poor man, slightly lame, with shy, queer manners—one of those beings of whom people say the hand of God is upon them. He had the same business as my father and Nastasa: he was also a private “agent” and commissioner, but as he had neither an imposing exterior nor a fluent tongue, nor much self-confidence, he could not make up his mind to act independently, and so formed a partnership with my father. His handwriting was wonderful, he had a thorough knowledge of law, and was perfectly at home in all the ins and outs of lawsuits and office-practice. He was connected with my father in several business operations, and they shared their gains and losses, so that it seemed as if nothing could impair their friendship. But one day it was brought to an abrupt conclusion once for all: my father quarreled irreconcilably with his former associate. If Latkin had snapped a profitable bit of my father’s business, as Nastasa did afterward, he would have been no more angry with him than he was with Nastasa, perhaps even less. But Latkin, under the influence of some unexplained, incomprehensible feeling of envy or greed, and perhaps also moved by a momentary feeling of honesty, had played him false in exposing him to their patron, a rich young merchant, by opening the careless young man’s eyes to some sharp practice by which my father expected to make a very pretty sum. It was not the loss of the money, however much it may have been—no, it was the treachery—which embittered and enraged my father. He could not forgive swindling.
“See there! we have discovered a new saint,” said he, trembling with rage and his teeth chattering as if he had a chill. (I happened to be in the room, a witness of this painful scene.) “Very well, from this day forth all is over between us. The heavens are above us, and there is the door. I have nothing more to do with you, nor you with me. You are too honest for me, sir: how could we get along together? But you sha’n’t have a bit of ground to stand on, nor a roof over your head.”
In vain did Latkin beg for mercy and fling himself on the ground before him: in vain did he try to explain what had filled his own soul with painful astonishment. “Just consider, Porphyr Petrovitch,” he stammered forth. “I did it without any hope of gain: I cut my own throat.”
My father was immovable, and Latkin never more set foot in the house. It seemed as if fate had determined to fulfill my father’s last evil wishes. Soon after the breach between them, which took place about two years before my story began, Latkin’s wife died: it is true, however, that she had for a long time been ill. His second daughter, a child of three years, became deaf and dumb one day from fright: a swarm of bees lit on her head. Latkin himself had a stroke of paralysis and fell into the most extreme misery. How he managed to scrape along at all, what he lived on, it was hard to imagine. He dwelt in a tumbledown hovel but a short distance from our house. His eldest daughter, Raissa, lived with him and managed for him as well as she could. This very Raissa is the new person whom I must introduce into my story.
So long as her father was on friendly terms with mine we used to see her continually: she would sometimes spend whole days at our house, sewing or knitting with her swift, delicate fingers. She was a tall, somewhat slender girl, with thoughtful gray eyes in a pale oval face. She spoke little, but what she said was sensible, and she uttered it in a low, clear voice, without opening her mouth much and without showing her teeth: when she laughed—which was seldom—she showed them all suddenly, large and white as almonds. I also remember her walk, which was light and elastic, with a little spring in every step: it seemed to me always as if she were going up stairs, even when she was on level ground. She held herself erect, with her hands folded, and whatever she did, whatever she undertook—if she only threaded a needle or smoothed her dress—was well and gracefully done. You will hardly believe it, but there was something touching in her way of doing things. Her baptismal name was Raissa, but we called her “Little Black-Lip,” for she had a little mole, like a berry-stain, on her upper lip, but this did not disfigure her; indeed, it had the contrary effect. She was just a year older than David. I had for her a feeling akin to reverence, but she had very little to do with me.
The after-consequences of Latkin’s paralysis were very strange: his hands and feet became weak, but still he could use them. Even his brain worked normally, but his tongue was confused and used to utter one word in the place of another: you had to guess at what he really meant to say. “Choo, choo, choo,” he would with difficulty stammer forth—he always began with “Choo, choo, choo”—“the scissors, the scissors,” but the scissors meant “bread.” He hated my father with all the strength that was left him: he ascribed his sufferings to my father’s curses, and called him sometimes “the butcher,” and sometimes the “jeweler.” “Choo, choo, don’t you dare to go to the butcher, Wassilievna:” by this name he called his daughter. Every day he grew more exacting: his needs increased; and how should his needs be satisfied? where get the money? Sorrows soon make people old, but it was painful to hear these questions from the lips of a sixteen-year-old girl.
I remember I happened to be present at her conversation with David by the hedge on the day her mother died.
“Mother died this morning,” first letting her dark, expressive eyes wander around and then fall on the ground. “The cook has undertaken to buy a cheap coffin, but she is not to be trusted: she may spend the money in drink. You must come and look after her, David: she is afraid of you.”
“I will come,” answered David: “I will see to it. And your father?”
“He cries and says, ’You’ll spoil me, too!’—he means bury him. Now he has gone to sleep.” Raissa suddenly drew a deep sigh: “Oh, David! David!” She drew her half-closed hand across her brow and eyes, a gesture graceful and sad, like all her movements.
“But you must take care of yourself,” said David. “You can’t have slept at all; and why cry? It won’t help matters.”
“I have no time to cry,” answered Raissa.
“The rich can indulge themselves in the luxury of crying,” said David.
Raissa started to go, but she turned back: “We are thinking of selling the yellow shawl: you know the one that belonged to mother’s trousseau. We have been offered twelve rubles for it. I think that is too little.”
“Yes, indeed, much too little.”
“We wouldn’t sell it,” said Raissa after a short pause, “if we didn’t need money for the funeral.”
“Yes, of course, but you mustn’t throw money away. These priests—it’s a shame! But wait: I’ll be there. Are you going? I’ll be there soon. Good-bye, little dove!”
“Good-bye, brother, dear heart!”
“And don’t cry.”
“Cry? Cook or cry, one of the two.”
“What! does she do the cooking?” I asked of David when Raissa had gone. “Does she do the cooking herself?”
“You heard what she said: the cook has gone out to buy the coffin.”
She cooks, I thought to myself, and she always has such clean hands and dresses so neatly! I should like to see her in the kitchen. She’s a strange girl.
I remember another conversation by the hedge. This time Raissa had her little deaf-and-dumb sister with her. She was a pretty child, with great, startled eyes, and a wilderness of short, dark hair on her little head: Raissa had also dark, lustreless hair. It was soon after Latkin’s attack of paralysis.
“I don’t know what to do,” began Raissa: “the doctor has prescribed something for father, and I must go to the apothecary’s’; and our serf” (Latkin had still one serf left) “has brought us some wood from the village, and also a goose. But the landlord has taken it away. ‘You are in my debt,’ he said.”
“Did he take the goose?” asked David.
“No, he did not take the goose. ‘It’s too old,’ he said, ’and it’s worth nothing: that’s the reason the man brought it to you.’”
“But he had no right to it,” cried David.
“He had no right to it, but he took it all the same. I went into the garret—we have an old chest there—and I hunted through it; and see what I found.” She took out from under her shawl a great spy-glass, finished in copper and yellow morocco.
David, as an amateur and connoisseur of every kind of instrument, seized it at once. “An English glass,” he said, holding it first at one eye and then at the other—“a marine telescope.”
“And the glasses are whole,” continued Raissa. “I showed it to father, and he said, ‘Take it to the jeweler.’ What do you think? Will they give me money for it? Of what use is a telescope to us? If we could see in the glass how beautiful we are! but we have no looking-glass, unfortunately.”
And when she had said these words she suddenly laughed aloud. Her little sister could not have heard her, but probably she felt the shaking of her body: she had hold of Raissa’s hand, and raising her great eyes, she made up a frightened face and began to cry.
“She’s always like that,” said Raissa: “she doesn’t like to have people laugh.—Here, then, darling, I won’t,” she added, stooping down to the child and running, her fingers through its hair. “Do you see?”
The laughter died away from Raissa’s face, and her lips, with the corners prettily turned up, again became immovable: the child was quiet.
Raissa stood up: “Here, David, take care of the telescope: it’s too bad about the wood, and the goose, if it is too old.”
“We shall certainly get ten rubles for it,” said David, turning the telescope over. “I will buy it of you; and here are fifteen kopecks for the apothecary: is it enough?”
“I will borrow them of you,” whispered Raissa, taking the fifteen kopecks.
“Yes, indeed; with interest, perhaps? I have a pledge—a very heavy one. These English are a great people.”
“And yet people say we are going to war with them.”
“No,” answered David: “now we are threatening the French.”
“Well, you know best. Don’t forget. Good-bye!”
One more conversation which I heard at the hedge. Raissa seemed more than usually troubled. “Five kopecks for the very smallest head of cabbage!” she said, supporting her head on her hand. “Oh, how dear! and I have no money from my sewing!”
“Who owes you any?” asked David.
“The shopkeeper’s wife, who lives behind the city wall.”
“That fat woman who always wears a green sontag?”
“How fat she is!—too fat to breathe. She lights plenty of candles in church, but she won’t pay her debts.”
“Oh, she’ll pay them—but when? And then, David, I have other troubles. My father has begun to narrate his dreams; and you know what trouble he had with his tongue—how he tried to say one word and uttered another. About his food and things around the house we have got used to understanding him, but even ordinary people’s dreams can’t be understood; and you may judge what his are. He said, ’I am very glad. I was walking to-day with the white birds, and the Lord handed me a bouquet, and in the bouquet was Andruscha with a little knife.’—He always calls my little sister Andruscha.—’Now we shall both get well: we only need a little knife, and just one cut. That’s the way.’ And he pointed to his own throat. I didn’t understand him, but I said, ‘All right, father!’ but he grew angry and tried to explain what he meant. At last he burst into tears.”
“Yes, but you ought to have made up something—told him some trifling lie,” I interrupted.
“I can’t lie,” answered Raissa, raising her hands.
True, thought I to myself, she cannot lie.
“There’s no need of lying,” said David, “nor is there any need of your killing yourself in this way. Do you suppose any one will thank you for it?”
Raissa looked at him: “What I wanted to ask you, David, was how do you spell should?”
“Yes, for instance, ‘Should you like to live?’”
“No,” I interrupted again, “that’s not right: not o-u-d, but o-u-l-d”
“Well, it’s all the same,” said David: “spell it with an l. The most important thing is that you should live yourself.”
“I wish I knew how to spell and write properly,” said Raissa, blushing slightly.
When she blushed she became at once amazingly pretty.
“It may be of use. Father in his time wrote a beautiful hand: he taught me it, too. Now he can hardly scrawl the letters.”
“You must live for me,” answered David, lowering his voice and gazing at her steadily. Raissa looked up quickly and blushed more deeply. “Live and spell as you please.—The devil! here’s that old witch coming.” (By the witch David meant my aunt.) “What brings her this way? Run off, my dear.”
With one more look at David, Raissa hastened away.
It was only seldom and with great reluctance that David used to talk with me about Raissa and her family, especially since he had begun to expect his father’s return. He could think of nothing but him, and how we should then live. He remembered him clearly, and used to describe him to me with great satisfaction: “Tall, strong: with one hand he could lift two hundred pounds. If he called, ‘I say, boy!’ the whole house could hear him. And such a man as he is—good and brave! I don’t believe there’s anything he’s afraid of. We lived pleasantly until our misfortunes came upon us. They say his hair is become perfectly gray, but it used to be light red like mine. He’s a powerful man.”
David would never agree that we were going to live in Riasan.
“You’ll go away,” I used to say, “but I shall stay here.”
“Nonsense! we’ll take you with us.”
“And what’ll become of my father?”
“You’ll leave him. If you don’t, it will be the worse for you.”
David merely frowned and made no answer.
“See here: if we go with my father,” he resumed, “he will get some good position: I shall marry—”
“Not so soon as that?” I interrupted.
“Why not? I shall marry soon.”
“Yes, I; and why not?”
“Have you chosen your wife yet?”
“And who is it?”
David smiled: “How stupid you are! Who but Raissa?”
“Raissa?” I repeated in my amazement. “You’re joking.”
“I never make jokes: I don’t know how to.”
“But she’s a year older than you?”
“What difference does that make? But we won’t talk any more about it.”
“Just one question,” I persisted. “Does she know that you want to marry her?”
“But you haven’t told her?”
“What is there to tell her? When the time comes I’ll tell her. Now, that’s enough.” David rose and left the room.
When I was alone I thought it over, and, at last came to the conclusion that David was acting like a wise and practical man, and I felt a glow of pride at being the friend of such a practical man. And Raissa in her eternal black woolen dress suddenly seemed to me charming and deserving of the most devoted affection.
But still David’s father neither came nor wrote. The year advanced; we were well into the summer; it was near the end of June. We grew tired of waiting. Meanwhile, rumors grew thick that Latkin was growing worse, and that his family, as might have been expected, were starving, and that their hovel might at anytime fall to pieces and bury them all in its ruins. David’s expression altered, and grew so fierce and gloomy that every one kept away from him. He also began to go out more frequently. I no longer met Raissa. At times I saw her in the distance, hastily walking in the street with light, graceful step, straight as an arrow, her hands folded, with a sad, thoughtful look in her eyes, and an expression on her pale face—that was all. My aunt, with Trankwillitatin for an ally, still kept tormenting me, and perpetually whispered tauntingly in my ear, “Thief! thief!” But I paid no attention to her, and my father was very busy and kept traveling in every direction, without knowing what was going on at home.
Once, as I was going by the well-known apple tree, and more from habit than intentionally happened to glance at the familiar spot, it seemed to me suddenly as if the surface of the earth above our treasure looked different from usual I—as if there were a mound where there had been a hollow, and as if the place had been disturbed. “What’s the meaning of this?” thought I to myself. “Has any one discovered our secret and taken the watch?”
I wanted to make sure with my own eyes. I did not care for the watch, which was rusting in the damp earth, but I didn’t want any one else to have it. So the next day I got up early, went into the garden equipped with a knife, found the place beneath the apple tree, and began to dig. I dug a hole almost a yard deep, when I was convinced that the watch was gone—that some one had found it, taken it, stolen it.
But who could have taken it except David? Who else knew where it was?
I put back the earth and went into the house. I felt aggrieved. Supposing, I thought, David needs the watch to save his future wife or her father from starvation—for, say what you will, the watch has some value—ought he not to have come to me and said, “Brother” (in David’s place I should have certainly said “Brother")—“Brother, I’m in need of money: you have none, I know, but give me leave to make use of the watch which we both hid beneath the old apple tree. It’s of no use to any one. I shall be so grateful to you, brother,” how gladly I should have agreed! But to act in this secret, treacherous way, to have no confidence in one’s friend—no passion, no necessity could excuse it.
I repeat it, I was aggrieved. I began to show a coolness, to sulk; but David was not one to notice anything of that sort and be disturbed by it. I began to make references to it, but David did not seem to understand them. I said in his presence, “How contemptible in my eyes is the human being who has a friend, and who comprehends all the significance of that sacred feeling, friendship, and yet is not magnanimous enough to hold himself aloof from slyness! As if anything could be hidden!” As I said these last words I smiled contemptuously. But David paid no attention. At last I asked him directly whether our watch had run long after we buried it, or whether it had stopped at once. He answered, “How the deuce should I know? Shall I think the matter over?”
I did not know what to think. David doubtless had something on his mind, but not the theft of the watch. An unexpected incident convinced me of his innocence.
I was once coming home through a narrow little street which I generally avoided, because on it was the wing of; a building in which my enemy Trankwillitatin lived, but this time Fate led me that way. As I was passing beneath the open window of a drinking-house I suddenly heard the voice of our servant Wassily, a young, careless fellow, a big good-for-nothing and a rascal, as my father used to call him, but also a great conqueror of female hearts, which he attacked by his wit, his skill in dancing and his music.
“Just hear what they planned between them!” said Wassily, whom I could not see, though I heard him distinctly: he was probably sitting drinking tea with a friend close by the window, and, as people in a closed room often do, spoke loud, without thinking that every passer-by could hear each word. “What did they plan? They buried it in the earth.”
“You lie!” said the other voice.
“I tell you, that’s the sort of boy they are, especially that David. He’s a sharp one. At daybreak I rose and went to the window, and I saw our two little doves go into the garden, carrying the watch, and under the apple tree they dug a hole, and there they laid it like a baby; and then they smoothed the earth, the crazy fellows!”
“The deuce take ’em!” said Wassily’s comrade. “Well, what else? You dug up the watch?”
“Of course I dug it up: I have it now. Only, I can’t show it to you. There was a dreadful row about it. David had taken it that very night from his aunt’s bed. I tell you, he’s a great fellow. So I can’t show it to you. But stop: the officers will soon be back. I’ll sell it to one of them, and lose the money at cards.”
I listened no longer: at full speed I rushed home and went straight to David. “Brother,” I began—“Brother, forgive me! I have done you a wrong. I have suspected you: I have blamed you. You see how moved I am: forgive me.”
“What’s the matter with you?” asked David: “explain yourself.”
“I suspected that you had dug up our watch from under the apple tree.”
“That watch again! Isn’t it there?”
“It is not there. I thought you’d taken it to help your friends, and it was that Wassily.”
I told David what I had heard beneath the window. But how describe my astonishment? I thought David would be vexed, but I could not have expected what really happened, I had hardly finished my story when he burst into the most ungovernable rage. David, who held this whole miserable affair, as he called it, of the watch in utter contempt—the same David who had assured me more than once that it was not worth an empty egg-shell—he suddenly sprang up, his face aflame, grinding his teeth and clenching his fist. “That can’t be allowed,” he said at last. “How does he dare to take another’s property? I’ll give him a lesson. Only wait: I never forgive a rascal.”
To this day I don’t see what made David so angry. Was he already full of wrath, and had Wassily’s conduct only thrown oil on the flame? Was he vexed at my suspecting him? I cannot say, but I never saw him so aroused. I stood before him open-mouthed, and only wondered why he breathed so hard and heavily.
“What have you decided to do?” I asked finally.
“You’ll see after dinner. I’ll find that fellow and I’ll have a talk with him.”
“Well,” thought I, “I should not like to be in that fellow’s shoes. What in the world is going to happen?”
The following happened. As soon as that sleepy, heavy quiet came which even now falls like a hot feather comforter on a Russian house after dinner, David went, I following him with a beating heart, into the servants’ hall and called Wassily out. At first he did not want to come, but finally he concluded to obey and to follow us into the garden. David stood squarely before him: Wassily was a whole head the taller.
“Wassily Tarentiev,” began my comrade with a firm voice, “six weeks ago you took from under this apple tree a watch which we had placed there. You had no right to do that: it was not yours. Give it to me at once.”
Wassily was somewhat amazed, but he soon collected himself: “What watch? What are you talking about? God knows I haven’t any watch.”
“I know what I’m saying: don’t lie. You have the watch: give it to me.”
“No. I haven’t got your watch.”
“And in the drinking-house you—” I began, but David held me back.
“Wassily Tarentiev,” he said in a low, threatening voice, “we know for certain that you have the watch. I am in earnest. Give me the watch, and if you don’t give it to me—”
Wassily sniffed insolently: “And what will you do with me, then?”
“What? We will both fight with you until you beat us or we beat you.”
Wassily laughed: “Fight? It’s not the thing for young gentlemen to fight with a servant.”
David quickly took hold of Wassily’s waistcoat. “True, we are not going to fight with our fists,” he said, grinding his teeth. “Listen! I shall give you a knife and take one myself, and we shall see who—Alexis!” he called to me, “go and bring me my large knife: you know—the one with the bone handle: it is lying on the table. I have the other in my pocket.”
Wassily nearly fell to the ground. David still held him by the waistcoat. “Have mercy on me, David,” he stammered forth, the tears coming into his eyes. “What does this mean? What are you doing? Oh, let me go!”
“I sha’n’t let you go, and you need not expect any mercy. If you’re afraid to-day, we’ll try again to-morrow.—Alexis, where’s the knife?”
“David,” roared Wassily, “don’t commit a murder. What do you mean? And the watch! Well, I was joking. I—I’ll fetch it this minute. What a fellow you are! First you want to cut open Chrisauf Lukitsch; then me. Leave me, David. Be good enough to take the watch; only say nothing about it.”
David let go of Wassily’s waistcoat. I looked at his face. Really, any one would have been frightened, he looked so fierce and cold and angry. Wassily ran into the house, and at once returned, bringing the watch. Without a word he gave it to David, and only when he had got back again to the house he shouted out from the threshold, “Fie! what a row!” David shook his head and went into our chamber. I still followed him. “Suwarow, just like Suwarow,” I thought to myself. At that time, in the year 1801, Suwarow was our first national hero.
David closed the door behind him, laid the watch down on the table, folded his hands, and, strange to say, burst out laughing. I looked at him and laughed too. “It’s a most extraordinary thing,” he began: “we can’t get rid of this watch in any way. It’s really bewitched. And why did I suddenly get so angry?”
“Yes, why?” I repeated. “If you’d left it with Wassily—–”
“No, no,” interrupted David: “that would have been foolish. But what shall we do with it now?”
“Yes, what shall we?”
We both looked at the watch and considered, Adorned with a blue string of pearls (the unhappy Wassily in his terror had not been able to remove this decoration, which belonged to him), it was going quietly. It ticked—to be sure somewhat unevenly—and the minute-hand was slowly advancing.
“Shall we bury it again, or throw it into the river?” I asked at last. “Or shall we not give it to Latkin?”
“No,” answered David, “none of those things. But do you know? At the governor’s office there is a committee to receive gifts for the benefit of those who were burnt out at Kassimow. They say that the town of Kassimow, with all its churches, has been burned to the ground; and I hear they receive everything—not merely bread and money, but all sorts of things. We’ll give the watch, eh?”
“Yes, indeed,” I assented. “A capital idea! But I thought since your friend’s family was in need—–”
“No, no—to the committee! The Latkins will pull through without that. To the committee!”
“Well, to the committee—yes, to the committee. Only, I suppose we must write a line to the governor.”
David looked at me: “You suppose?”
“Yes, of course we must write something. Just a few words.”
“Well, for example, we might begin, ‘Sympathizing,’ or, ’Moved by’—–”
“‘Moved by’ will do very well.”
“And we must add, ‘this mite of ours.’”
“‘Mite’ is good, too. Now take your pen and sit down and write.”
“First a rough draft,” I suggested.
“Well, first a rough draft; only write. Meanwhile, I’ll polish it up a little with chalk.”
I took a sheet of paper, cut a pen, but had not yet written at the head of the page, “To his Excellency, to his Highness Prince” (Prince X—— was the governor of our district), when I started, alarmed by a strange uproar which suddenly arose in the house. David also noticed the noise and started, holding the watch in his left hand and the rag covered with chalk in his right. What was that shrill shriek? It was my aunt screaming. And that? That is my father’s voice, hoarse with anger. “The watch! the watch!” some one cries, probably Trankwillitatin. The stamping of feet, the creaking of the stairs, the rush of the crowd, are all coming straight toward us. I am nearly dead with fright, and even David is as pale as a sheet, but his eye is as bold as an eagle’s. “That wretched Wassily has betrayed us,” he hisses between his teeth. The door opens wide, and my father in his dressing-gown, without a cravat, my aunt in a dressing-sack, Trankwillitatin, Wassily, Juschka, another young fellow, Agapit the cook, all hustle into the room.
“You fiends!” cries my father almost breathless, “at last we have found you out!” And, catching a glimpse of the watch in David’s hand, he cries out, “Give me the watch—give it to me!”
But David without a word springs to the open window, from that into the yard, and thence into the street. Since I always, in everything I do, follow my model, also jump from the window and run after David.
“Stop them! hold them!” confused voices cry after us.
But we tear along the street, bareheaded, David in front, I a few steps behind, and in the distance we hear the clatter of their feet and their cries.
Many years have passed since this happened, and I have often thought it over, and to this day I cannot comprehend the fury which possessed my father, who not long before had forbidden any one’s speaking about the watch because it bored him, any more than I can David’s wrath when he heard that Wassily had taken it. I can’t help thinking it had some mysterious power. Wassily had not told about us, as David supposed—he did not want to do that, he had been too badly frightened—but one of the servant-girls had seen the watch in his hands and had told my aunt. Then all the fat was in the fire.
So we ran along the street in the carriage-way. The people who met us stood still or got out of our way, without knowing what was going on. I remember an old retired major, who was a great hunter, suddenly appeared at his window, and, his face crimson, leaning halfway out, he cried aloud, “Tally ho!” as if he were at a chase. “Stop them!” they kept crying behind us. David ran, swinging the watch over his head, only seldom jumping: I also jumped at the same places.
“Where?” I cried to David, seeing him turn from the street into a little lane, into which I also turned.
“To the Oka,” he answered. “Into the water with it! into the river!” “Stop! stop!” they roared behind us. But we were already running along the lane. A puff of cool air meets us, and there is the river, and the dirty steep bank, and the wooden bridge with a long train of wagons, and the sentinel armed with a pike stands at the toll-gate. In those days the soldiers used to carry pikes. David is already on the bridge: he dashes by the sentinel, who tries to trip him up with his pike, and instead hits a calf coming the other way. David jumps on the rail, utters a great cry, and something white and something blue flash and sparkle through the air: they are the silver watch and Wassily’s row of pearls flying into the water. But then something incredible happens. After the watch fly David’s feet and his whole body, head downward, hands foremost: his coat, flying in the air, describes a curve through the air—in hot days frightened frogs jump just that way from a height into the water—and disappears over the railing of the bridge, and then, flash! and a great shower of water is dashed up from below. What I did I am sure I do not know. I was only a few steps from David when he sprang from the railing, but I can’t remember whether I cried out. I don’t think I was even frightened: it was as if I had been struck by lightning. I lost all consciousness: my hands and feet were powerless. People ran and pushed by me: some of them it seemed as if I knew. Suddenly Trofimytsch appeared. The sentinel ran off to one side: the horses walked hastily over the bridge, their heads in the air. Then everything grew green, and some one was beating my neck and down my back. I had fainted. I remember that I rose, and when I noticed that no
I could hear scattered remarks of the crowd. “You must warm yourself: we’ll take something hot together,” said some one.
Then some one forces his way to the front—it is Wassily. “What are you all doing here?” he cries piteously. “We must bring him to life. He’s our young master.”
“Bring him to life! bring him to life!” is heard in the ever-growing crowd.
“We must hold him up by the feet.”
“Hold him up by the feet! That’s the best thing.”
“And roll him up and down on a barrel until—–Here, take hold of him.”
“Don’t touch him,” the sentinel interrupts: “he must go to the guard-house.”
“Nonsense!” is heard in Trofimytsch’s deep bass, no one knows whence.
“But he’s alive!” I cried suddenly, almost alarmed.
I had put my face near his. I was thinking, “That’s the way drowned people look,” and my heart was near breaking, when all at once I saw David’s lips quiver and some water flowing from them. Immediately I was shoved away and everybody crowded about him. “Swing him I swing him!” some cry.
“No, no, don’t!” cried Wassily: “take him home.”
“Take him home,” even Trankwillitatin cried.
“He’ll be there in a moment: then
he’ll be better,” continued Wassily.
(I loved him from that day.) “Friends, is there no mat there? If not,
I’ll take him by the head and some one else by the heels.”
“Hold on! here’s a mat: lay him on it. All right: it’s as comfortable as a carriage.”
And a few minutes later, David, lying on a litter, made his entrance into the house.
He was undressed and put into bed. Already, while carried through the street, he had given signs of life, sighing and moving his hands: in his chamber he came to full consciousness. But as soon as he was out of danger and was no longer in need of their care, dissatisfaction asserted itself. Every one withdrew from him as from a leper. “May Heaven punish him, the red-headed devil!” roared my aunt through the whole house. “Send him away somewhere, Porphyr Petrovitch, or he’ll be the ruin of you yet.”
“He is indeed a viper, and the devil is in him,” added Trankwillitatin sympathetically.
“And such viciousness!” shouted my aunt, passing close by our door, so that David could not help hearing her. “First he stole the watch, and then into the water with it, so that no one should have it. Yes, yes, redhead!”
“David,” asked I as soon as we were alone, “why did you do that?”
“And you too!” he answered, still with a feeble voice. His lips were blue, and he looked all puffed up. “What did I do?”
“Why did you jump into the water?”
“Jump? I couldn’t stand on the railing, that’s all. If I had known how to swim—if I had jumped on purpose—I shall learn at once. But the watch is gone.”
But my father entered the room with a solemn step. “As for you, my young sir,” he said to me, “you can expect a sound thrashing, even if you are too big for me to take you across my knee.” Then he walked up to the bed on which David lay, “In Siberia,” he began in an earnest and serious tone—“in Siberia, in the house of correction, in the mines, live and die people who are less guilty, who are less criminal, than you. Are you a suicide, or only a thief, or a perfect fool? Just tell me that, if you please.”
“I am neither a suicide nor a thief,” answered David, “but what is true is true: in Siberia there are good people, better than you and I. Who knows that better than you do?”
My father uttered a little cry, took a step back, looked at David, spat on the floor, crossed himself and went out.
“Didn’t you like that?” asked David, sticking out his tongue. Then he tried to rise, but he was still too weak. “I must have hit something,” he said, groaning and frowning. “I remember the current carried me against a pier.—Have you seen Raissa?” he asked suddenly.
“No I have not seen her. Stop! I remember now. Wasn’t she standing on the shore near the bridge? Yes—a black dress, a yellow handkerchief on her head—that was she.”
“Well, you did see her?”
“I don’t know. After that—I—you jumped in then.”
David became restless: “Alexis, my dear friend, go to her at once: tell her I’m well—that there’s nothing the matter. To-morrow I’ll go and see hen Go at once, please, to oblige me.” He stretched out both arms toward me. His red hair had dried into all sorts of funny ringlets, but his look of entreaty was only the more genuine. I took my hat and left the house, trying to avoid my father’s eye lest I should remind him of his promise.
And indeed I thought on my way to the Latkins how it was possible that I did not notice Raissa. Where had she disappeared to? She must have seen—Suddenly I remembered that at the very moment David was falling a heartrending shriek had sounded in my ears. Was it not she? But in that case why did I not see her? Before the hovel in which Latkin lived was an empty space covered with nettles and surrounded by a broken, tottering fence. I had hardly got over this fence—for there was no gate or entrance—before my eyes were greeted with this sight: On the lowest step in front of the house sat Raissa, her elbows on her knees and holding her chin in her folded hands: she was looking straight out into vacancy. Near her stood her little dumb sister, playing quietly with a whip, and before the steps, with his back to me, was Latkin in a shabby, torn jacket, his feet in felt slippers, bending over her and brandishing his elbows and stalking about. When he heard my steps he turned round, leant down on the tips of his toes, and then suddenly sprang at me and began to speak with unusual speed in a quivering voice and with an incessant “Choo, choo, choo!” I was amazed. It was long since I had seen him, and I should scarcely have known him if I had met him anywhere else. This wrinkled, red, toothless face, these small, round, dull eyes, this tangled gray hair, these contortions and motions, this senseless, wandering talk,—what does it all mean? What cruel suffering torments this unhappy being? What a dance of death is this!
“Choo, choo, choo,” he muttered, bending over continually: “see them, the Wassilievna—she’s just come, with a trou—a trough on the roof” (he struck his head with his hand), “and she sits there like a shovel, and cross, cross as Andruscha, the cross Wassilievna” (he meant, probably, “mute"). “Choo; my cross Wassilievna! Now they are both on one last—just see her! I have only these two doctors.”
Latkin was evidently aware that he was not saying what he meant, and he made every effort to explain matters to me. Raissa, apparently, did not hear what he was saying, and her little sister went on snapping her whip. My head grew confused. “What does it all mean?” I asked of an old woman who was looking out of the window of the house.
“What does it mean, sir?” answered she in a sing-song voice. “They say some one—Heaven knows who it was—tried to drown himself, and she saw him. That frightened her, but she managed to get home: no one noticed anything strange, and she sat down there on the threshold, and since then she’s sat there like an image, whether one speaks to her or not. It’s as if she had no tongue.”
“Good-bye! good-bye!” repeated Latkin, still with the same gestures.
I walked to Raissa and stood just before her. “Raissa,” I cried, “what is the matter?”
She made no answer: it was as if she had not heard me. Her face was no paler, nor in any way different, except that it had a stony look and an expression of slight fatigue.
“She is cross too,” Latkin whispered to me.
I took Raissa by the hand. “David is alive.” I cried louder than before—“alive and unhurt. David is alive: do you understand? They have taken him out of the water, he is now at home, and he has sent word that he will come to-morrow to see you. He is alive.”
Raissa turned her eyes toward me slowly, as if it hurt her: she winked them two or three times, opened them wider: then she turned her head to one side, flushed suddenly, parted her lips, drew a full breath, frowned as if from pain and with great effort, bringing out the words, “Da—Dav—is—al—alive,” and rose hastily from the steps and rushed away.
“Where are you going?” I inquired.
But, laughing gently, she flew over the ground. I of course hastened after her, while behind us was a sound of voices—the aged one that of Latkin, and the childish cry that of the deaf mute. Raissa went straight to our house.
“What a day this has been!” I thought to myself as I tried to keep up with the black dress that flew along in front of me.
Raissa ran past Wassily, my aunt, and even Trankwilhtatin, into the room in which David was lying, and threw herself on his breast. “Oh, oh, David!” came her voice forth from under her loosened hair. And raising his arms he embraced her and let his head rest on her shoulder.
“Forgive me, dear,” I heard him say, and both nearly died with joy.
“But why did you go home, Raissa? Why didn’t you wait?” I asked. She still did not raise her head. “You might have seen that he was saved.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know: don’t ask me. I don’t know: I can’t recall how I got home. I only remember I was looking into the air, and a blow hit me; but that was—”
“A blow?” repeated David, and we all three burst out laughing, for we were very happy.
“But what’s going on here?” roared a threatening voice behind us, the voice of my father. He was standing in the doorway. “Will these monkey-tricks come to an end or not? Where are we living? In the Russian empire or in the French republic?” He came into the room. “Let any one who is turbulent and vicious begone to France.—And how do you dare to enter here?” he asked of Raissa, who, rising a little and turning her face toward him, was evidently alarmed, although she continued to smile gently. “The daughter of my sworn enemy! How have you dared? And to embrace him too! Away with you at once, or—”
“Uncle,” said David, raising himself in bed, “don’t insult Raissa: she will go, but don’t insult her.”
“Will you order me about? I am not insulting her, I’m not insulting her: I merely order her out of the house. I shall yet call you to account. You have made away with another’s property: you have laid violent hands upon yourself; you have damaged—”
“What have I damaged?” interrupted David.
“What have you damaged? You have ruined your clothes: do you consider that nothing? I had to give money to the people who brought you here. You frightened the whole family, and you still put on your airs. And this girl, who has lost all sense of shame and honor—”
David tried to spring from the bed: “Don’t you insult her, I tell you.”
“Don’t you dare—”
“Don’t you dare to insult the woman I am going to marry, my future wife,” cried David with all his might.
“Going to marry! your wife!” repeated my father, his eyes rolling. “Your wife! ho! ho! ho!” ("Ha! ha! ha!” echoed my aunt outside the door.) “How old are you? A year less one week has he been in this world—he’s hardly weaned yet—and he wants to get married! I shall—”
“Let me go! let me go!” whispered Raissa, turning to the door.
“I shall not ask your permission,” shouted David, supporting himself on his hands, “but my own father’s, who will be back to-day or to-morrow. He can command me, not you; and as for my age, both Raissa and I can wait. You can say what you please: we shall wait.”
“David, think a moment,” interrupted my father: “take care what you say. You are beside yourself: you have forgotten all respect.”
David grasped his shirt where it lay across his breast. “Whatever you may say,” he repeated.
“Stop his mouth, Porphyr Petrovitch—silence him!” hissed my aunt from the door; “and as for this baggage, this—”
But something strange cut my aunt’s eloquence short: her voice became suddenly silent, and in its place was heard another, weak and hoarse from age. “Brother!” exclaimed this weak voice—“Christian souls!”
We all turned round. Before us, in the same dress in which I had just seen him, stood Latkin, looking like a ghost, thin, haggard and sad. “God,” he said in a somewhat childish way, raising his trembling, bent figure and gazing feebly at my father—“God has punished, and I have come for Wa—for Ra—yes, yes, for Raissa. What—choo—what ails me? Soon I shall be laid—what do you call that thing? a staff—straight—and that other thing?—a prop. That’s all I need, and you, brother jeweler, see: I too am a man.”
Raissa crossed the room without a word, and while she supported her father she buttoned his jacket.
“Let us go, Wassilievna,” he said. “All here are saints: don’t go near them; and he who lies there in a case,” pointing to David, “is also a saint. But we, brother, you and I, are sinners. Choo, gentlemen: excuse an old, broken-down man. We have stolen together,” he cried suddenly—“stolen together, stolen together,” he repeated with evident joy: at last he had control of his tongue.
All of us in the room were silent. “But where is your picture of the saints?” he inquired, gazing about: “we must cleanse ourselves.”
In one corner he began to pray, crossing himself humbly, so that he touched first one shoulder, then another. “Have mercy, Lord! on my, on my—” My father, who had watched closely without speaking a word, suddenly started, came near him, and began to cross himself. Then he turned and bowed so low that his hand nearly touched the floor, and said, “Do you also forgive me, Martinian Gavrilitsch,” and he kissed his shoulder. Latkin answered by kissing in the air and winking his eyes: he evidently hardly knew what he was doing. Then my father turned to all who were in the room—to David, Raissa and me. “Do what you please, do whatever you think you may,” he said in a low, sad voice, and he left the room, completely broken down.
“Lord my! Lord my! have mercy on me!” repeated Latkin. “I am a man.”
“Good-bye, David,” said Raissa, leaving the room with her father.
“I’ll be with you to-morrow,” shouted David after her; and turning his face to the wall he muttered, “I am very tired: I should like to go to sleep;” and he became quiet.
For a long time I lingered there. I could not forget my father’s threat. But my fears proved groundless. He met me, but he uttered no word. He too seemed uncomfortable. Besides, it soon was night and all in the house went to rest.
The next day David got up as if nothing had happened, and not long afterward, on one and the same day, two important events took place: in the morning died the old Latkin, Raissa’s father, and in the evening Jegor, David’s father, arrived. Since he had not sent any letter or told any one, he took us all by surprise. My father exerted himself actively to give him a warm reception. He flew about as if he were crazy, and was as attentive as if he owed him money. But all his brother’s efforts seemed to leave my uncle cold: he kept saying, “Why do you do that?” or, “I don’t need anything.” He was even cooler with my aunt; besides, he paid very little attention to her. In her eyes he was an atheist, a heretic, a Voltairian (in fact, he had learned French in order to read Voltaire in the original). I found Uncle Jegor as David had described him. He was a large, heavy man, with a broad, pock-marked face, grave and serious. He always wore a hat with a feather in it, frills and ruffles, and a tobacco-colored jacket, with a steel sword by his side. David took a great deal of pleasure in him: he even grew more cheerful and better-looking, and his eyes changed: they became merry, quick and brilliant. But he always tried to moderate his joy and not to give it expression: he was afraid of appearing weak. The first evening after my uncle’s return they two, father and son, shut themselves! up in a separate room and talked together in a low
Even Trankwillitatin sang in the choir. At the grave’ Raissa burst suddenly into sobs and threw herself, face downward, on the ground, but she rose immediately. Her little sister, the deaf mute, looked at everything with great, bright, somewhat dull eyes: from time to time she drew near Raissa, but she did not seem at all afraid. The second day after the funeral, Uncle Jegor, who, apparently, had not come back from Siberia empty-handed (he had paid all the funeral expenses and given David’s preserver a generous reward)—who had said nothing of his life there nor of his plans for the future—Uncle Jegor, I say, said to my father that he had determined not to stay in Riasan, but to go with his son to Moscow. My father politely expressed his regret, and even tried, though very gently, to alter my uncle’s decision, but in the depths of his soul I fancy he was very glad. The presence of his brother—with whom he had too little in common, who had not honored him with even a single reproach, who did not even despise him, who simply took no pleasure in him—was wearisome to him, and parting from David gave him no especial uneasiness. This separation, of course, nearly broke my heart: at first I was really bereaved, and I felt as if I had lost every comfort and joy in life.
So my uncle went off and took with him not only David, but, to our great surprise, and even to the great dissatisfaction of our street, Raissa and her little sister. When my aunt heard of this she called him a Turk, and a Turk she called him till her death.
And I was left alone, alone, but it makes no difference about me.
That is the end of my story about the watch. What shall I add to it? Five years later David married “Little Black-lip,” and in the year 1812 he died, a lieutenant in the artillery, the death of a hero at the battle of Borodino, defending the redoubt of Schewardino. Since then a great deal of water has run into the sea, and I have had many watches: I have even been so magnificent as to have a real Breguet repeater with second-hand and the day of the month. But in the secret drawer of my desk lies an old silver watch with a rose on the case: I bought it of a Jew peddler, struck by its resemblance to the watch my godfather gave me. From time to time, when I am alone and expect no visitor, I take it out of its case, and when I look at it I think of my youth and the companions of those days which are gone never to return.
Lo, a large, black-shrouded barge
Sadly moves with sails outspread,
And mute creatures’ muffled features
Hold grim watch above the dead.
Calm below it lies the poet,
With his fair face bare and white,
Still with yearning ever turning
Azure eyes toward heaven’s light.
As he saileth, sadly waileth
Some bereaven Undine bride:
O’er the springing waves outringing,
Hark! a dirge floats far and wide.
This is the springtide’s mournful
The frantic troops of blooming girls
Are rushing hither with flying curls:
Moaning they smite their bare white breast,
The night hath come. By the torches’
They search the forest on every side,
That echoes with anguish far and wide,
With tears, mad laughter, and sobs and screams,
The mortal youth, so strangely fair,
Lies on the cold turf pale and dead:
His heart’s blood staineth the flowers red,
And a wild lament fulfills the air,
BY LADY BARKER.
D’URBAN, January 3, 1876.
I must certainly begin this letter by setting aside every other topic for the moment and telling you of our grand event, our national celebration, our historical New Year’s Day. We have “turned the first sod” of our first inland railway, and, if I am correctly informed, at least a dozen sods more, but you must remember, if you please, that our navvies are Kafirs, and that they do not understand what Mr. Carlyle calls the beauty and dignity of labor in the least. It is all very well for you conceited dwellers in the Old and New Worlds to laugh at us for making such a fuss about a projected hundred miles of railway—you whose countries are made into dissected maps by the magic iron lines—but for poor us, who have to drag every pound of sugar and reel of sewing-cotton over some sixty miles of vile road between this and Maritzburg, such a line, if it be ever finished, will be a boon and a blessing indeed.
I think I can better make you understand how great a blessing if I describe my journeys up and down—journeys made, too, under exceptionally favorable circumstances. The first thing which had to be done, some three weeks before the day of our departure, was to pack and send down by wagon a couple of portmanteaus with our smart clothes. I may as well mention here that the cost of the transit came to fourteen shillings each way for three or four small, light packages, and that on each occasion we were separated from our possessions for a fortnight or more. The next step to be taken was to secure places in the daily post-cart, and it required as much mingled firmness and persuasion to do this as though it had reference to a political crisis. But then there were some hundreds of us Maritzburgians all wanting to be taken down to D’Urban within the space of a few days, and there was nothing to take us except the open post-cart, which occupied six hours on the journey, and an omnibus, which took ten hours, but afforded more shelter from possible rain and probable sun. Within the two vehicles some twenty people might, at a pinch, find places, and at least a hundred wanted to go every day of that last week of the old year. I don’t know how the others managed: they must have got down somehow, for there they were in great force when the eventful day had arrived.
This first journey was prosperous, deceitfully prosperous, as though it would fain try to persuade us that after all there was a great deal to be said in favor of a mode of traveling which reminded one of the legends of the glories of the old coaching days. No dust—for there had been heavy rain a few days before—a perfect summer’s day, hot enough in the sun, but not disagreeably hot as we bowled along, fast as four horses could go, in the face of a soft, balmy summer breeze. We were packed as tightly as we could fit—two of us on the coach-box, with the mail-bags under our feet and the driver’s elbows in our ribs. The ordinary light dog-cart which daily runs between Maritzburg and D’Urban was exchanged for a sort of open break, strong indeed, but very heavy, one would fancy, for the poor horses, who had to scamper along up and down veldt and berg, over bog and spruit, with this lumbering conveyance at their heels. Not for long, though: every seven miles, or even less, we pulled up—sometimes at a tidy inn, where a long table would be set in the open verandah laden with eatables (for driving fast through the air sharpens even the sturdy colonial appetite), sometimes at a lonely shanty by the roadside, from whence a couple of Kafir lads emerged tugging at the bridles of the fresh horses. But I am bound to say that although each of these teams did a stage twice a day, although they were ill-favored and ill-groomed, their harness shabby beyond description, and their general appearance most forlorn, they were one and all in good condition and did their work in first-rate style. The wheelers were generally
No one was in any mood, however, to discuss political economy that beautiful day, and we laughed and chatted, and ate a great many luncheons, chiefly of tea and peaches, all the way along. Our driver enlivened the route by pointing out various spots where frightful accidents had occurred to the post-cart on former occasions: “You see that big stone? Well, it war jest there that Langabilile and Colenso, they takes the bits in their teeth, those ’osses do, and they sets off their own pace and their own way. Jim Stanway, he puts his brake down hard and his foot upon the reins, but, Lord love you! them beasts would ha’ pulled his arms and legs both off afore they’d give in. So they runs poor Jim’s near wheel right up agin that bank and upsets the whole concern, as neat as needs be, over agin that bit o’ bog. Anybody hurt? Well, yes: they was all what you might call shook. Mr. Bell, he had his arm broke, and a foreign chap from the diamond-fields, he gets killed outright, and Jim himself had his head cut open. It was a bad business, you bet, and rough upon Jim. Ja!”
All the driver’s conversation is interlarded with “Ja,” but he never says a worse word than that, and he drinks nothing but tea. As for a pipe, or a cigar even, when it is offered to him he screws up his queer face into a droll grimace and says, “No—thanks. I want all my nerves, I do, on this bit of road.—Walk along, Lady Barker: I’m ashamed of you, I am, hanging your head like that at a bit of a hill!” It was rather startling to hear this apostrophe all of a sudden, but as my namesake was a very hard-working little brown mare, I could only laugh and declare myself much flattered.
Here we are at last, amid the tropical vegetation which makes a green and tangled girdle around D’Urban for a dozen miles inland: yonder is the white and foaming line of breakers which marks where the strong current, sweeping down the east coast, brings along with it all the sand and silt it can collect, especially from the mouth of the Umgeni River close by, and so forms the dreaded bar, which divides the outer from the inner harbor. Beyond this crisp and sparkling line of heaving, tossing snow stretches the deep indigo-blue of the Indian Ocean, whilst over all wonderful sunset tints of opal and flame-color are hovering and changing with the changing, wind-driven clouds. Beneath our wheels are many inches of thick white sand, but the streets are gay and busy, with picturesque coolies in their bright cotton draperies and swiftly-passing Cape carts and vehicles of all sorts. We are in D’Urban indeed—D’Urban in unwonted holiday dress and on the tippest tiptoe of expectation and excitement. A Cape cart, with a Chinese coolie driver, and four horses apparently put in harness together for the first time, was waiting for us and our luggage at the post-office. We got into it, and straight-way began to plunge through the sandy streets once more, turning off the high-road
“A fine day,” says our host; and so it ought to be with five thousand people come from far and wide to see the sight. Why, that is more than a quarter of the entire white population of Natal! Bed and sleep become very attractive suggestions, though made indecently soon after dinner, and it is somewhere about ten o’clock when they are carried out, and, like Lord Houghton’s famous “fair little girl,” we
Know nothing more till again it is day.
A fine day, too, is this same New Year’s Day of 1876—a glorious day—sunny of course, but with a delicious breeze stealing among the flowers and shrubs in capricious puffs, and snatching a differing scent from each heavy cluster of blossom it visits. By mid-day F—— has got himself into his gold-laced coat and has lined the inside of his cocked hat with plaintain-leaves.
He has also groaned much at the idea of substituting this futile head-gear for his hideous but convenient pith helmet. I too have donned my best gown, and am horrified to find how much a smart bonnet (the first time I have needed to wear one since I left England) sets off and brings out the shades of tan in a sun-browned face; and for a moment I too entertain the idea of retreating once more to the protecting depths of my old shady hat. But a strong conviction of the duty one owes to a “first sod,” and the consoling reflection that, after all, everybody will be equally brown (a fallacy, by the way: the D’Urban beauties looked very blanched by this summer weather), supported me, and I followed F—— and his cocked hat into the waiting carriage.
No need to ask, “Where are we to go?” All roads lead to the first sod to-day. We are just a moment late: F—— has to get out of the carriage and plunge into the sand, madly rushing off to find and fall into his place in the procession, and we turn off to secure our seats in the grand stand. But before we take them I must go and look at the wheelbarrow and spade, and above all at the “first sod.” For some weeks past it has been a favorite chaff with us Maritzburgians to offer to bring a nice fresh, lively sod down with us, but we were assured D’Urban could furnish one. Here it is exactly under the triumphal arch, looking very faded and depressed, with a little sunburned grass growing feebly on it, but still a genuine sod and no mistake. The wheelbarrow was really beautiful, made of native woods with their astounding names. All three specimens of the hardest and handsomest yellow woods were there, and they were described to me as, “stink-wood, breeze-wood and sneeze-wood.” The rich yellow of the wood is veined by handsome dark streaks, with “1876” inlaid in large black figures in the centre. The spade was just a common spade, and could not by any possibility be called anything else. But there is no time to linger and laugh any longer beneath all these fluttering streamers and waving boughs, for here are the Natal Carbineers, a plucky little handful of light horse clad in blue and silver, who have marched, at their own charges, all the way down from Maritzburg to help keep the ground this fine New Year’s Day. Next come a strong body of Kafir police, trudging along through the dust with odd shuffling gait, bended knees, bare legs, bodies leaning forward, and keeping step and time by means of a queer sort of barbaric hum and grunt. Policemen are no more necessary than my best bonnet: they are only there for the same reason—for the honor and glory of the thing. The crowd is kept in order by somebody here and there with a ribboned wand, for it is the most orderly and respectable crowd you ever saw. In fact, such a crowd would be an impossibility in England or any highly-civilized country. There are no dodging vagrants, no slatternly women, no squalid, starving babies. In fact, our civilization has not yet mounted to effervescence, so we have no dregs. Every white person on the ground was well clad, well fed, and apparently well-to-do. The “lower orders” were represented by a bright fringe of coolies and Kafirs, sleek, grinning and as fat as ortolans, especially the babies. Most of the Kafirs were dressed in snow-white knickerbockers and shirts bordered by gay bands of color, with fillets of scarlet ribbon tied round their heads, while as for the coolies, they shone out like a shifting bed of tulips, so bright were the women’s chuddahs and the men’s jackets. All looked smiling, healthy and happy, and the public enthusiasm rose to its height when to the sound of a vigorous band (it is early yet in the day, remember, O flute and
Nothing could be more creditable to a young colony than the way everything was arranged, for the difficulties in one’s culinary path in Natal are hardly to be appreciated by English housekeepers. At one time there threatened to be almost a famine in D’Urban, for besides the pressure of all these extra mouths of visitors to feed, there was this enormous luncheon, with some five hundred hungry people to be provided for. It seems so strange that with every facility for rearing poultry all around it should be scarce and dear, and when brought to market as thin as possible. The same may be said of vegetables: they need no culture beyond being put in the ground, and yet unless you have a garden of your own it is very difficult to get anything like a proper supply. I heard nothing but wails from distracted housekeepers about the price and scarcity of food that week. However, the luncheon showed no sign of scarcity, and I was much amused at the substantial and homely character of the menu, which included cold baked sucking pig among its delicacies. A favorite specimen of the confectioner’s art that day consisted of a sort of solid brick of plum pudding, with, for legend, “The First Sod” tastefully picked out in white almonds on its dark surface. But it was a capital luncheon, and so soon as the mayor had succeeded in impressing on the band that they were not expected to play all the time the speeches were being made, everything went on very well. Some of the speeches were short, but oh! far, far too many were long, terribly long, and the whole affair was not over before five o’clock. The only real want of the entertainment was ice. It seems so hard not to have it in a climate which can produce such burning days, for those tiresome cheap little ice-machines with crystals are of no use whatever. I got one which made ice (under pressure of much turning) in the ship, but it has never made any here, and my experience is that of everybody else. Why there should not be an ice-making or an ice-importing company no one knows, except that there is so little energy or enterprise here that everything is dawdly and uncomfortable because it seems too much trouble to take pains to supply wants. It is the same everywhere throughout the colony: sandy roads with plenty of excellent materials for hardening them close by; no fish to be bought because no one will take the trouble of going out to catch them. But I had better stop scribbling, for I am evidently getting tired after my long day of unwonted festivity. It is partly the oppression of my best bonnet, and partly the length of the speeches, which have wearied me out so thoroughly.
MARITZBURG, January 6.
Nothing could afford a greater contrast than our return journey. It was the other extreme of discomfort and misery, and must surely have been sent to make us appreciate and long for the completion of this very railway. We waited a day beyond that fixed for our return, in order to give the effects of a most terrific thunderstorm time to pass away, but it was succeeded by a perfect deluge of rain. Rain is not supposed to last long at this season of the year, but all I can say is that this rain did last. When the third day came and brought no sign of clearing up with it, and very little down to speak of, we agreed to delay no longer; besides which our places in the post-cart could not be again exchanged, as had previously been done, for the stream of returning visitors was setting strongly toward Maritzburg, and we might be detained for a week longer if we did not go at once. Accordingly, we presented ourselves at the D’Urban post-office a few minutes before noon and took our places in the post-cart. My seat was on the box, and as I flattered myself that I was well wrapped up, I did not feel at all alarmed at the prospect of a cold, wet drive. Who would believe that twenty-four hours ago one could hardly endure a white muslin dressing-gown? Who would believe that twenty-four hours ago a lace shawl was an oppressive wrap, and that the serious object of my envy and admiration all these hot days on the Berea has been a fat Abyssinian baby, as black as a coal, and the strongest and biggest child one ever saw. That sleek and grinning infant’s toilette consisted of a string of blue beads round its neck, and in this cool and airy costume it used to pervade the house, walking about on all fours exactly like a monkey, for of course it could not stand. Yet, how cold that baby must be to-day! But if it is, its mother has probably tied it behind her in an old shawl, and it is nestling close to her fat broad back fast asleep.
But the baby is certainly a most unwarrantable digression, and we must return to our post-cart. The discouraging part of it was that the vehicle itself had been in all the storm and rain of yesterday. Of course no one had dreamed of washing or wiping it out in any fashion, so we had to sit upon wet cushions and put our feet into a pool of red mud and water. Now, if I must confess the truth, I, an old traveler, had done a very stupid thing. I had been lured by the deceitful beauty of the weather when we started into leaving behind me everything except the thinnest and coolest garments I possessed, and I therefore had to set out on this journey in the teeth of a cold wind and driving rain clad in a white gown. It is true, I had my beloved and most useful ulster, but it was a light waterproof one, and just about half enough in the way of warmth. Still, as I had another wrap, a big Scotch plaid, I should have got along very well if it had not been for the still greater stupidity of the only other female fellow-passenger,
Surely, I have been doing something else lately besides turning this first sod? Well, not much. You see, no one can undertake anything in the way of expeditions or excursions, or even sight-seeing, in summer, partly on account of the heat, and partly because of the thunderstorms. We have had a few very severe ones lately, but we hail them with joy on account of the cool clear atmosphere which succeeds to a display of electrical vehemence. We walked home from church a few evenings ago on a very wild and threatening night, and I never shall forget the weird beauty of the scene. We had started to go to church about six o’clock: the walk was only two miles, and the afternoon was calm and cloudless. The day had been oppressively hot, but there were no immediate signs of a storm. While we were in church, however, a fresh breeze sprang up and drove
My own private dread—to return to that walk home for a moment—was of stepping on a snake, as there are a great many about, and one especial variety, a small poisonous brown adder, is of so torpid and lazy a nature that it will not glide out of your way, as other snakes do, but lets you tread on it and then bites you. It is very marvelous, considering how many snakes there are, that one hears of so few bad accidents. G—— is always poking about in likely places for them, as his supreme ambition is to see one. I fully expect a catastrophe some day, and keep stores of ammonia and brandy handy. Never was such a fearless little monkey. He is always scampering about on his old Basuto pony, and of course tumbles off now and then; but he does not mind it in the least. When he is not trying to break his neck in this fashion he is down by himself at the river fishing, or he is climbing trees, or down a well which is being dug here, or in some piece of mischief or other. The sun and the fruit are my betes noires, but neither seems to hurt him, though I really don’t believe that any other child in the world has ever eaten so many apricots at one time as he has been doing lately. This temptation has just been removed, however, for during our short absence at D’Urban every fruit tree has been stripped to the bark—every peach and plum, every apple and apricot, clean gone. Of course, no one has done it, but it is very provoking all the same, for it used to be so nice to take the baby out very early, and pick up the fallen apricots for breakfast. The peaches are nearly all pale and rather tasteless, but the apricots are excellent in flavor, of a large size and in extraordinary abundance. There was also a large and promising crop of apples, but they have all been taken in their unripe state. As a rule, the Kafirs are scrupulously honest, and we left plate and jewelry in the house under Charlie’s care whilst we were away, without the least risk, for such things they would never touch; but fruit or mealies they cannot be brought to regard as personal property, and they gather the former and waste the latter without scruple. It is a great objection to the imported coolies, who make very clean and capital servants, that they have inveterate habits of pilfering and are hopelessly dishonest about trifles. For this reason they are sure to get on badly with Kafir fellow-servants, who are generally quite above any temptation of that kind.
A few days ago we took G—— to see the annual swimming sports in the small river which runs through the park. It was a beautiful afternoon, for a wonder, with no lowering thunder-clouds over the hills, so the banks of the river were thronged for half a mile and more with spectators. It made a very pretty picture, the large willow trees drooping into the water on either shore, the gay concourse of people, the bright patch of color made by the red
I have had an opportunity lately of attending a Kafir lit de justice, and I can only say that if we civilized people managed our legal difficulties in the same way it would be an uncommonly good thing for everybody except the lawyers. Cows are at the bottom of nearly all the native disputes, and the Kafirs always take their grievance soberly to the nearest magistrate, who arbitrates to the best
It is inexpressibly touching to see with one’s own eyes the wonderfully deep personal devotion and affection of the Kafirs for the kindly English gentleman who for thirty years and more has been their real ruler and their wise and judicious friend. Not a friend to pamper their vices and give way to their great fault of idleness, but a true friend to protect their interests, and yet to labor incessantly for their social advancement and for their admission into the great field of civilized workers. The Kafirs know little and care less for all the imposing and elaborate machinery of British rule; the queen on her throne is but a fair and distant dream-woman to them; Sir Garnet himself, that great inkosi, was as nobody in their eyes compared to their own chieftain, their king of hearts, the one white man to whom of their own free will and accord they give the royal salute whenever they see him. I have stood in magnificent halls and seen king and kaiser pass through crowds of bowing courtiers, but I never saw anything which impressed me so strongly as the simultaneous springing to the feet, the loud shout of Bayete! given with the right hand upraised (a higher form of salutation than Inkosi! and only accorded to Kafir royalty), the look, of love and rapture and satisfied expectation in all those keen black faces, as the minister, quite unattended, without pomp or circumstance of any sort or kind, quietly walked into the large room and sat himself down at his desk with some papers before him. There was no clerk, no official of any sort: no one stood between the people and the fountain of justice. The extraordinary simplicity of the trial which commenced was only to be equaled by the decorum and dignity with which it was conducted. First of all, everybody sat down upon the floor, the plaintiff and defendant amicably side by side opposite to the minister’s desk, and the other natives, about a hundred in number, squatted in various groups. Then, as there was evidently a slight feeling of surprise at my sitting myself down in the only other chair—they probably considered me a new—fashioned clerk—the minister explained that I was
In the first cause which was taken the plaintiff, as I said before, was not quite satisfied with the decision of his own local magistrate, and had therefore come here to restate his case. The story was slightly complicated by the plaintiff having two distinct names by which he had been known at different times of his life. “Tevula,” he averred, was the name of his boyhood, and the other, “Mazumba,” the name of his manhood. The natives have an unconquerable aversion to giving their real names, and will offer half a dozen different aliases, making it very difficult to trace them if they are “wanted,” and still more difficult to get at the rights of any story they may have to tell. However, if they are ever frank and open to anybody, it is to their own minister, who speaks their language as well as they do themselves, and who fully understands their mode of reasoning and their habits of mind.
Tevula told his story extremely well, I must say—quietly, but earnestly, and with, the most perfectly respectful though manly bearing. He sometimes used graceful and natural gesticulation, but not a bit more than was needed to give emphasis to his oratory. He was a strongly-built, tall man, about thirty-five years of age, dressed in a soldier’s great-coat—for it was a damp and drizzling day—had bare legs and feet, and wore nothing on his head except the curious ring into which the men weave their hair. So soon as a youth is considered old enough to assume the duties and responsibilities of manhood he begins to weave his short crisp hair over a ring of grass which exactly fits the head, keeping the woolly hair in its place by means of wax. In time the hair grows perfectly smooth and shining and regular over this firm foundation, and the effect is as though it were a ring of jet or polished ebony worn round the brows. Different tribes slightly vary the size and form of the ring; and in this case it was easy to see that the defendant belonged to a different tribe, for his ring was half the size, and worn at the summit of a cone of combed-back hair which was as thick and close as a cap, and indeed looked very like a grizzled
Here is a resume of the first case, and it is a fair sample of the intricacies of a Kafir lawsuit: Our friend Tevula possesses an aged relative, a certain aunt, called Mamusa, who at the present time appears to be in her dotage, and consequently her evidence is of very little value. But once upon a time—long, long ago—Mamusa was young and generous: Mamusa had cows, and she gave or lent—there was the difficulty—a couple of heifers to the defendant, whose name I can’t possibly spell on account of the clicks. Nobody denies that of her own free will these heifers had been bestowed by Mamusa on the withered-looking little old man squatting opposite, but the question is, Were they a loan or a gift? For many years nothing was done about these heifers, but one fine day Tevula gets wind of the story, is immediately seized with a fit of affection for his aged relative, and takes her to live in his kraal, proclaiming himself her protector and heir. So far so good: all this was in accordance with Kafir custom, and the narration of this part of the story was received with grunts of asseveration and approval by the audience. Indeed, Kafirs are as a rule to be depended upon, and their minds, though full of odd prejudices and quirks, have a natural bias toward truth. Two or three years ago Tevula began by claiming, as heir-at-law, though the old woman still lives, twenty cows from the defendant as the increase of these heifers: now he demands between thirty and forty. When asked why he only claimed twenty, as nobody denies that the produce of the heifers has increased to double that number, he says naively, but without hesitation, that there is a fee to be paid of a shilling a head on such a claim if established, and that he only had twenty shillings in the world; so, as he remarked with a knowing twinkle in his eye, “What was the use of my claiming more cows than I had money to pay the fee for?” But times have improved with Tevula since then, and he is now in a position to claim the poor defendant’s whole herd, though he generously says he will not insist on his refunding those cows which do not resemble the original heifers, and are not, as they were, dun and red and white. This sounded magnanimous, and met with grunts of approval until the blear-eyed defendant remarked, hopelessly, “They are all of those colors,” which changed
I wish I could tell you how Mamusa’s cows have finally been disposed of, but, although it has occupied three days, the case is by no means over yet. I envy and admire Mr. S——’s untiring patience and unfailing good-temper, but it is just these qualities which make his Kafir subjects (for they really consider him as their ruler) so certain that their affairs will not be neglected or their interests suffer in his hands.
Whilst I was listening to Tevula’s oratory my eyes and my mind sometimes wandered to the eager and silent audience, and I amused myself by studying their strange head-dresses. In most instances the men wore their hair in the woven rings to which I have alluded, but there were several young men present who indulged in purely fancy head-dresses. One stalwart youth had got hold of the round cardboard lid of a collar-box, to which he had affixed two bits of string, and tied it firmly but jauntily on one
[Footnote 5: Life, Letters and Journals of George Ticknor. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.]
It is a long time since a more interesting biography has been published than this of Mr. Ticknor. No American book of the same kind can be compared with it, and very few have appeared in England that give the reader as varied glimpses of society and as many details in regard to interesting people as may be found in these two entertaining volumes. Its fullness in this respect is what makes the charm of the book. Mr. Ticknor’s life was a long one: from his youth he saw a great deal of the best society both of this country and of Europe, and he always had the custom of recording the impressions made upon him by the people he met. Hence this Life, which is for the most part made up of extracts from his letters and journals, is almost an autobiography, but an autobiography, one might almost say, without a hero, in which the writer keeps himself in the background and gives his main attention to other people. The editors have, however, given a full account of those parts of his life of which his own record is but brief.
He was born in Boston in 1791. His father, to judge from his letters, which are full of sensible advice, was a man of more than common ability, and he very carefully trained his son to put his talents to their best use. He had no stubborn material for his hands, for even in his youth Mr. Ticknor showed many of those traits which most clearly marked him in after life; among others, an intelligent, unimaginative, but also unmalicious observation of his kind for his
In April, 1815, Mr. Ticknor set sail for England in company with his friend Edward Everett, and at the end of four weeks they arrived at Liverpool, just in time to hear of Napoleon’s escape from Elba. There was at least one man in England who was pleased with that turn of fate, and that was Dr. Parr, whom Mr. Ticknor stopped to see on his way to London, and who told his young guest, “I should not think I had done my duty if I went to bed any night without praying for the success of Napoleon Bonaparte.” Lord Byron, it should be added, on hearing the news of Waterloo, said, “I am d——d sorry for it.... I didn’t know but I might live to see Lord Castlereagh’s head on a pole. But I suppose I sha’n’t now.” Of this last-named admirer of Bonaparte, Mr. Ticknor saw a good deal during his stay in England. Byron was then a newly-married man, and on better terms with the world at large than he was at other times of his life. His American visitor recorded that he “found his manners affable and gentle, the tones of his voice low and conciliating, his conversation gay, pleasant and interesting in an uncommon degree.”
Of the older men, he saw Dr. Rees, editor of the Encyclopaedia, who had dined with Dr. Johnson and John Wilkes at Dilly’s—not at the first dinner probably, for Boswell gives a list of the guests which does not include his name, but doubtless at the second, in 1781. Dr. Rees said that Wilkes won his way to Johnson’s heart not, as Boswell reports, by his wit, but by the grossest flattery; and he added that Johnson always courted Boswell more than any one else, that he might be exhibited to posterity in a favorable light. A mere list of the names of the people he saw during this short stay in England will show how full of interest this part of his diary is. Campbell, Gifford, West, Sir Humphry Davy he saw most frequently, but no one so often as he did Byron. His penchant for “lions” always led him to prefer the lordliest among them.
It was a great change from the excitement and succession of novelties of London to the monotonous routine of Goettingen, where he arrived, after a journey of about five weeks, early in August, 1815. Goettingen at that time was the seat of the leading German university. It has never been full of distracting temptations: indeed, it is a town which seems to have been so arranged that the student should find in study alone relief from its manifold discomforts. The advantages it possessed were very great, and they were fully appreciated by the young American, who came from what in comparison was almost an intellectual wilderness to the rich stores of learning this university contained. It was at this time that he fairly began serious literary study and laid the foundation of his extensive knowledge of books. In one of his vacations he made a little tour in Germany, visiting Goethe, who made a characteristic speech about Byron’s recent separation from his wife—namely, that in its circumstances and the mystery involving it it was so poetical that if Byron had invented it he could hardly have found a more fortunate subject for his genius.
After another winter in Goettingen he set out for Paris, which city he reached early in April, 1817. One of the first things he did was to go to the theatre, where he saw Talma and Mademoiselle Mars play together. But stronger tastes drew him more frequently into the best society that capital afforded him. One of the persons he was most anxious to meet was Madame de Stael, but although he presented his letters, her illness prevented her seeing him for some time, and her daughter, the Duchesse de Broglie, received him in her mother’s stead. It was there that he met Humboldt, of whom he has recorded that he “sleeps only when he is weary and has leisure, and if he wakes at midnight he rises and begins his work as he would in the morning. He eats when he is hungry, and if he is invited to dine at six o’clock, this does not prevent him from going at five to a restaurant, because he considers a great dinner only as a party of pleasure and amusement. But all the rest of the time, when he is not in society, he locks his door and gives himself up to study, rarely receiving visits but those which have been announced the day previous, and never, I believe, refusing these.” These habits are not commonly supposed to promote longevity. Before he left Paris Madame de Stael was able to see him, and with her he had an interesting conversation in which she said of America, “Vous etes l’avant garde du genre humain, vous etes l’avenir du monde,” and made two or three brilliant speeches, at which he noticed her glow of animation. At the same place he also met Chateaubriand and Madame Recamier, between whom he sat at dinner. The romantic reader will be disappointed with his meagre statements here, which hardly bring these two people more distinctly before us than are Solomon and the queen of Sheba. We read that Madame Recamier’s figure was fine, her mild eyes full of expression, and her arm and hand beautiful, her complexion fair, her expression cheerful and her conversation vivacious; of Chateaubriand, that he was a short man with a dark complexion, black hair and eyes, and a marked countenance; but exacter details of their characteristics or mutual relations are wholly wanting. While it is to be remembered that we who read Mr. Ticknor’s diary and letters have also read a great many other letters that have given us much more knowledge about Madame Recamier than her companion at that dinner could have had, it is yet fair to say that in general the book contains no traces of acute observation or quick social sensibility, but is rather marked by the faithfulness of his report of the more obvious incidents that occurred when he met these interesting people. This does not diminish the value of the book: it should only prepare the reader to find the anecdotes constituting the really important part of it, with but little sign of any study of character, and of little sympathetic insight into the feelings of others.
He remained in Paris until September, working hard at the languages and literatures of France and Italy, and neglecting no opportunity to improve himself. At that date he started for Geneva on his way to Italy, crossing the Alps by the Simplon. At Venice he again saw Byron, who was busy, or professed to be, with a plan of visiting this country. Thence he made his way south to Rome and Naples, spending most of the winter in the former city among very interesting people, such as Bunsen, Niebuhr and Madame de Humboldt. In the spring of 1818 he went to Spain, and it is interesting to notice how much more vivacious his journal becomes with his entrance into that country. It seems to have been with real enjoyment that he changed the ease of his earlier journeyings for the hardships of traveling in this comfortless land; and although the inns were miserable, the fare uncertain and meagre at the best, and there were many other afflictions to vex the tourist, he evidently enjoyed this expedition to the full. On his way from Barcelona to Madrid he had for companions a painter of repute and two officers, and to these he used to read aloud Don Quixote, and, he says, “I assure you this was a pleasure to me such as I have seldom enjoyed, to witness the effect this extraordinary book produces on the people from whose very blood and character it is drawn.... All of them used to beg me to read it to them every time we got into our cart—like children for toys and sugar-plums.” In Madrid he studied carefully the language and literature, his tastes and opportunities leading him to lay the solid foundation of what was to be the main work of his life. The society that he met here was mainly that of the foreign diplomatists, but, agreeable as it was, it did not distract him from his studies or from his observation of the people among whom he was placed. In a letter to this country he said, “What seems mere fiction and romance in other countries is matter of observation here, and in all that relates to manners Cervantes and Le Sage are historians; for when you have crossed the Pyrenees you have not only passed from one country and climate to another, but you have gone back a couple of centuries in your chronology, and find the people still in that kind of poetical existence which we have not only long since lost, but which we have long since ceased to credit on the reports of our ancestors.”
Although it would be interesting to linger over the passages dealing with Spain, it is perhaps better to turn to his account of leaving it, which he did under the most singular circumstances—namely, as one of a band of contrabandistas. Not that he wore a mask and filled his purse by robbing unoffending travelers; instead, he joined this party of accomplished smugglers, who used to carry on the business of smuggling dollars from Seville to Lisbon and bring back English goods in the same way. For eight days he was in their company, and he says, “I have seldom
Before returning to America he revisited London and Paris, in this last-named city seeing Talleyrand, of whom an interesting anecdote is recorded. In London he met Sydney Smith, Brougham, Frere; in Scotland, where he made a short tour, he visited Sir Walter Scott at Abbotsford; on his way back to London he visited Southey and Wordsworth; and once again in that city he saw Hazlitt, living in Milton’s house, and Godwin, who, he said, “is as far removed from everything feverish and exciting as if his head had never been filled with anything but geometry,... When I looked at [him], and saw with what cool obstinacy he adhered to everything he had once assumed, and what a cold selfishness lay at the bottom of his character, I felt a satisfaction in the thought that he had a wife who must sometimes give a start to his blood and a stir to his nervous system.” The feeling which betrays itself in this passage makes a still bolder and more amusing exhibit in one that follows: “The true way to see these people was to meet them all together, as I did once at dinner at Godwin’s, and once at a convocation or ‘Saturday Night Club’ at Hunt’s, when they felt themselves bound to show off and produce an effect; for there Lamb’s gentle humor, Hunt’s passion and Curran’s volubility, Hazlitt’s sharpness and point and Godwin’s great head full of cold brains, all coming into contact and agreeing in nothing but their common hatred of everything that has been more successful than their own works, made one of the most curious and amusing olla podridas I ever met. The contrast between these persons ... and the class I was at the same time in the habit of meeting at Sir Joseph Banks’s on Sunday evening, at Gifford’s, at Murray’s Literary Exchange, and especially at Lord Holland’s, was striking enough.” In regard to the last statement we can feel no doubt, nor is it surprising that Mr. Ticknor found the society of Gifford and his friends more congenial than that of “persons” like Lamb and Hunt.
He reached home June 6, 1819, after an absence of four years, during which time he had seen many “cities and manners,” had accomplished himself in the modern languages and literatures, and become well fitted for the position which was awaiting him—that of professor of the French and Spanish languages and of the belles-lettres at Harvard College. These chairs were held by Mr. Ticknor until 1835, during the most active years of his mature life, and the record of what he did is not without importance in the history of education in this country. He had himself profited by the liberal system of the German universities, and he was naturally anxious to introduce such changes into the rather narrow curriculum of Harvard College as should give its students real zeal in their work and greater opportunities for improvement. At the beginning he found himself much hampered by old traditions and a general lack of sympathy with new methods; but he devoted himself earnestly to the task of introducing a course of instruction which should take the place of the dull routine of recitation. To accomplish this he set the example of giving a series of lectures on the literatures and literary histories of France and Spain, and he struggled hard to drive away the old routine from the rest of the college. He wrote a pamphlet containing most urgent and powerful arguments in defence of these amendments, which he proved to be possible by the example of his own success; but he was opposed by the most stubborn conservatism, and his efforts remained almost without apparent result. What he wanted was the abolition of the system of classes; the division of the college into departments; the election of studies by the students; the separation of the students into divisions according to their proficiency; and the opening of the college to those who cared to follow only certain courses without applying for a degree. The first of these changes he forebore to press, but all the others he urged most warmly. He was so far successful that the experiment was tried, but it was considered impracticable for the classes to be divided into sections, and by a vote of the faculty it was determined that the law requiring such division should be repealed: permission was given Mr. Ticknor, however, to continue in the new method if he cared so to do. Naturally, he persisted in his plan, and in his own department he was perfectly successful. When he left the college, although he had not accomplished all he had hoped when he accepted his professorship, he was able to look back upon an honorable and gratifying record so far as the management of his own department was concerned.
After resigning his position in Cambridge he again went abroad in 1835, accompanied by his wife and family. It would take many pages to give the reader an exact account, in however brief a form, of all the interest of this journey. A few notes taken almost at random must suffice. Of Southey, Mr. Ticknor notes: “His conversation was very various, sometimes quite remarkable, but never rich or copious like Wordsworth’s, and never humorous or witty. It was rather abundant in matters of fact, and often in that way quite striking and effective.” The first winter he spent in Dresden, meeting Tieck frequently, and enjoying the agreeable and highly-cultivated society of the court. The next summer, during a visit to Vienna, he had some interesting conversations with Prince Metternich, which are given in full. The winter of 1836-37 he passed in Rome, finding there Bunsen and Thorwaldsen, whom he had seen on his first visit. The next winter found him in Paris, where he saw Thierry, Lamartine, Thiers, Mignet, Guizot and others. Of Lamartine he says: “Only two things struck me—his complete ignorance of the present English literature, and the strong expression of his poetical faith that the recent improvements in material life, like steam and railroads, have their poetical sides, and will be used for poetical purposes with success.” In the spring he crossed to England, where he roamed from one interesting spot to another, seeing every one of whom one cares to hear, and putting down in his journal faithful accounts of all that he saw and heard.
He returned to this country in June, 1838, and began at once to occupy himself busily with the preparation of his History of Spanish Literature. After this book had been published he began to busy himself with a very important scheme—namely, preparing the Public Library of his native city. As soon as Mr. Bates had made his generous gift, which secured the establishment of the library, Mr. Ticknor, with the aid of experts in the different professions, prepared a list of forty thousand books which were needed as the foundation. He was absent in Europe for fifteen months in 1856-57 busy with choosing and buying books for this institution. The debt which the city of Boston owes him is a great one: thanks to his care and energy, the Public Library already has become a most valuable aid to study, and perhaps the best library in the country, besides promising to be one of the few great ones of the world. During his lifetime Mr. Ticknor gave many valuable collections to the library, and in his will he left it his own unique Spanish library and a generous bequest for the further purchase of books. From the first he was quite as generous with his time and knowledge. The diary he kept during his last stay abroad is full of references to his interest in the library and to the constant attention he gave to its affairs. He returned to Boston in September, 1857. The remaining years of his life he spent at home, enjoying the company of his friends, corresponding with those abroad, and encouraging interest in letters in every way. He died in the full possession of his faculties, in his eightieth year, January 26, 1871.
The editors of these memoirs appear to have performed their task with great discretion and good taste. It has probably not been a difficult one, consisting mainly in selecting from abundant and well-ordered material, while suppressing what was too private or too trivial for publication. What they have had to say of Mr. Ticknor’s character is expressed with a proper warmth of feeling, but without any extravagance of eulogy. His life, as they justly remark, was distinguished by “an unusual consistency in the framework of mind and character” and “an unusually steady development of certain elements and principles.” What he from the first set himself to attain lay within the compass of his capacity as well as of his means and opportunities. Thus he had no external hinderances to contend against, and no inward misgivings to struggle with. No man, we imagine, was ever less troubled with self-dissatisfaction. He felt the limits of his faculties and qualities, if he felt them at all, only as useful and secure defences. Within them there was all the completeness that could be gained by persevering exercise and culture. There is not a page of his journals and letters that does not bear testimony to his earnest, careful and profitable study of men and books, while we doubt if a remark can be found in them that shows either sympathetic insight or subtle discrimination. His intellect had all its resources at command, but it had more of rigor than of vigor, more of formal precision in its methods than of well-directed force in its performances. Hence the semblance exceeded the reality, and it might have been said of him, as it was said of Guizot, “Il impose et il en impose.” This biography of him makes, consequently, no appeal to the deeper feelings and awakens no train of higher thought. But it has an interest which, though of an ordinary kind, is scarcely surpassed in degree by that of any similar work; and it forms a worthy memorial of a man whose wide attainments, strict integrity and warm affections endeared him to his intimates and made him respected by all.
A REMINISCENCE OF MACAULAY.
It was in June, 1857, that I had the good fortune to meet Macaulay at dinner at the house of my dear friend, the Rev. Derwent Coleridge, then principal of St. Mark’s College, Chelsea. The brilliant career of the great talker and essayist was drawing to its close, and it is partly on this account that I make now what record I can of my single meeting with him. He was beginning to give up society, so that only at the houses of his oldest friends was there any chance of seeing him. Besides the especial attraction of Macaulay’s presence it was an interesting company that was gathered that evening around my friend’s hospitable board. One felt that the English dinner, that choicest of all opportunities for exchange of thought, was here to
Of my host, Mr. Derwent Coleridge, and of Mrs. Coleridge, my dear and honored friends of so many years, I must not permit myself to speak. I may note only the brilliant conversational power of Mr. Coleridge, and the fact that as I listen to him I perfectly understand the marvelous gifts in this way of his father, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Again and again I have been held as if under a spell by the flowing stream of his delightful monologue. He had been the friend in boyhood of Macaulay, and almost the first published words of the afterward famous writer had appeared in conjunction with a like youthful effort of Derwent Coleridge. Mr. Coleridge has been the biographer of Winthrop Praed and the editor of his poems, and only a year ago he published a touching tribute to John Moultrie. These two poets were also the companions in youth of Macaulay, and each was in a way a stimulus to the others in their first intellectual efforts. My place at the table was just opposite to Macaulay, and I need not say with what keen interest I looked at him and watched his countenance as he became animated in conversation. His face was round, and his complexion was colorless, one might almost say pallid: his hair, which appeared to have been of a brownish hue, had become almost white. He was no doubt then beginning to break in health, and perhaps this, which could only be called a premature decay, was the penalty he was at length paying for the years he had spent in India. His neck was short, and his figure was short and ungainly. His eye had a quick flash, and his change of expression was rapid; his head, too, had a quick movement; and altogether there was a look of vivacity which showed that his intellect was as keen as ever. He was always ready to speak, whatever the subject, but he showed no disposition to take all the talk. There was no moment of pause in the flowing after-dinner discussions, for our host, as well as several of his guests, was abundantly able to hold his own with this marvelous and every way delightful talker—this prince in the domain of London social life.
There was some conversation about Nollekens the sculptor, whose inordinate love of money was such a curious blemish in his character. Macaulay told one or two stories illustrating his parsimony. Then he came to speak of art in general, and said he did not think the faculty for it a high gift of mind. This opinion was strongly combated by Mr. Blore the architect and others, but I remember Macaulay gave, as in some sort an illustration of his theory, a story of Grant the portrait-painter, then of chief eminence in London. Cornewall Lewis was to sit to him, and Grant, knowing he had written books, desired to get at least a smattering of them before the sittings began. But some one, perhaps mischievously, told him Lewis was the author of The Monk, and this book he accordingly read. He took an early opportunity to refer to it to his sitter, who to his no small discomfiture disclaimed it. As conclusive proof of the truth of this denial, Lewis stated further that the book was written before he was born. Everybody was amused that Cornewall Lewis, so famous for abstruse learning, should have deemed it necessary to appeal thus to dates to show he was not the author of a novel.
Macaulay persisted in his theory that artistic power was not an intellectual faculty, but I could not quite determine whether he was not putting it forth as mere paradox. One could fancy the paroxysm of rage into which Haydon would have been thrown had such a theory been advanced in his presence; or Fuseli, who, as Haydon reports, exclaimed, on first seeing the Elgin Marbles, with his strange accent, “Those Greeks, they were godes.” But the thought of Michel Angelo and of Lionardo was a sufficient answer to the theory.
Macaulay, in further support of his general proposition, maintained that a man might be a great musical composer and yet not in the true sense a man of genius. He instanced Mozart, who, he said, was not claimed to have been of high intellectual ability. Mr. Herbert Coleridge said he thought this a mistake, but he urged that full details were wanting in regard to his mental capacity as shown in other ways than in music. Macaulay replied that Mozart was the Raphael of music, and was both a composer and a wonderful performer at the age of six. “Now,” said he, “we cannot conceive of any one being a great poet at the age of six: we hear nothing of Shakespeare or Milton at the age of six.”
The conversation turned to Homer and the question whether the Homeric poems were the product of one mind. Macaulay maintained they were. It was inconceivable, he said, that there could have been at the Homeric period five or six poets equal to the production of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Great poets appeared at long intervals. As he reckoned them, there had been but six given to the world—Homer, Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Sophocles and AEschylus. With the exception of the last two, there had been great spaces of time
Our evening was all too short. The talk had never flagged, and so the time had gone quickly by. I may note that in the discussions about Homer, Mr. Herbert Coleridge had shown the utmost familiarity with the subject, making him seem in this respect quite on a level with Macaulay.
The time came for us to join the ladies in the drawing-room, but Macaulay’s carriage was announced, and he declined going up stairs again, saying that his shortness of breath warned him it was dangerous to do so. This symptom was doubtless due to that affection of the heart which two years and a half later ended his life. As I have said, he was beginning to give up dining out on account of his failing health. But his delight was as great as ever in the society of his near friends among men of letters, and these he continued to gather at the breakfasts he had long been in the habit of giving—Dean Milman, Lord Stanhope, the bishop of St. Davids (Thirlwall),
I have just returned from a little ceremony of which I think that the readers of these pages will be pleased to have some permanent record—the uncovering of the medallion portrait of Keats, which Mr. Warrington Wood, the well-known sculptor, has generously given for the purpose of adorning his tomb. I have recorded in a previous number of this Magazine the steps which were taken last year for putting the poet’s celebrated grave and gravestone in a proper state of repair, and the singular circumstances that showed how on both sides of the Atlantic a similar thought had with truly curious simultaneousness occurred to the lovers of the poet’s memory. The very striking scene which took place to-day marked the completion of the purposes which were then inaugurated.
A printed notice had invited all English and Americans in Rome, interested in the subject, to attend at the English cemetery at three o’clock, the day having been fixed by the fact that it was the anniversary of the day of Keats’s death. It was also, as it happened, the second day of our boisterous and rollicking Carnival, and those who attended had to absent themselves from the attractions of the Corso. Nevertheless, the gathering was a large one, and the contrast between the scene passing in that remote and quiet corner of old Rome under the cypresses and in the shade of the pyramid of Caius Cestius, and that which was at the same time being enacted in the Corso, was about as great as can well be conceived. We had it all to ourselves. With the exception of the coachmen, who remained lazily dozing on the boxes of the carriages which had brought us from the living Rome of to-day to this far-away spot, there was not a soul on the ground save English and Americans.
It must be quite needless to remind those who have ever seen it of the features of that most poetically suggestive spot, and I can hardly hope to enable any who have not seen it to form an adequate idea of its exceeding beauty. It is just within the city wall, niched in an angle of it, in the immediate vicinity of the Porta San Sebastiano, but it is difficult to imagine that one is within the limits of a great city; and it was especially so when the noise and racket of a city in Carnival time had just been left behind one. But the fact is, that large tracts of space, utterly uninhabited and unoccupied save by scattered masses of the ruins of ancient Rome, lie between the inhabited parts of the modern city and this far corner. The most marked characteristic of the spot is its perfect quietude. The ivy-grown city-wall, a group of fine cypresses, a few stone-pines with their lovely velvet-like verdure, the gray old pyramid of Caius Cestius immediately behind the cemetery, and a glimpse of the dreamy-looking Alban Hills on the farther side of the Campagna, make up a landscape which no artistic eye can rest on without being deeply penetrated by the charm of it. February as it was, the day might have been deemed a summer day anywhere to the northward of the Alps. It was the very perfection of weather—warm, genial, still, and breathing the sweet breath of a thousand wild flowers. The violets which abundantly covered the grave were in full blossom, even as they had bloomed beneath those old walls when the sight of them there had induced the poet, prescient of his coming end, to wish that he might sleep his long sleep beneath them.
When we had all taken our places, and a eucalyptus plant, sent for the purpose by Mr. Marsh, the American minister, had been planted on the turf just behind the grave, the sheet which covered the medallion was withdrawn, and a murmur of pleasure and admiration ran through the crowd as they looked on the strikingly characteristic and individualized presentment of the young poet’s very remarkable and striking features. I had seen the medallion before, and was therefore at liberty to watch the effect which it produced on others; and I was struck by the evidences in the faces of those around me that it spoke very clearly to the hearts and imaginations of the spectators.
General Sir Vincent Eyre, who had chiefly undertaken the trouble of directing all that had been done for putting the gravestone into perfect repair, adorning it with flowers and plants, and putting up the medallion, was on the ground together with Miss Clarke, who had been entrusted with a similar labor of love from America, and who had co-operated “heart and hand,” as Sir Vincent said, with him throughout the whole business. As soon as the pleased murmur of the crowd had subsided he stepped in front of the persons assembled and gave a succinct account of what had been done, and a narrative of the singular coincidence which had led to our co-heirs in the legacy bequeathed
An interesting and affecting letter from Mr. Severn, the loving and faithful friend of Keats, was read by Sir Vincent Eyre with much feeling. It contained a few simple words to the effect that the writer would much have wished to be present on the occasion of the unveiling of the medallion, but that he feared to be overcome by the pathos of the circumstances, strong emotions not being easily borne at the age of eighty-two years. There were many moistened eyes in the assembly as Sir Vincent read the communication from the poet’s venerable friend and survivor.
GINO CAPPONI, whose death, on the 3d of February last, has been noticed in all the principal journals of Europe and America, belonged to a family that has been honored in Florence for more than five hundred years, and whose name occurs on almost every page of its history. He was born in that city on the 14th of September, 1792. His name in full was Gino Alessandro Giuseppe Gaspero, but no one ever heard of him save as Gino. At seven years of age he shared the exile of his parents, who followed their sovereign, the grand duke Ferdinand, when he was driven from his dominions by the victorious arms of France. He was little more than twenty when he went as a member of the embassy sent to Napoleon I. immediately after the battle of Leipsic, on which occasion he is recorded to have had a long conversation with the emperor. After the restoration of the Tuscan sovereign at the fall of Napoleon he traveled extensively in England, Germany and France. Returning to his country, he was continually eager in using his large hereditary wealth for the promotion of education among all classes of his countrymen. He was one of the principal founders and supporters of the celebrated periodical, the Antologia, which played so large and conspicuous a part in preparing the public mind for the awakening which finally issued in that resuscitation of Italy which we have all witnessed.
In 1841 he mainly contributed to the foundation of the Archivio Storico Italiano, the fruitful parent of various other publications of the same kind which have within the last thirty years done infinitely more for students of Italian history than all the three centuries which preceded them. The famous bookseller Vieusseux, who himself did much and suffered much in the cause of the nascent Italian liberties, undertook the material portion of this enterprise, which was rewarded by a large measure of literary success, and by the fear and enmity of the oppressors of Italy throughout the Peninsula.
Capponi, however, would fain have avoided revolution could it have been avoided without sacrificing liberty. In July, 1847, when the general state of Europe was bringing home to the minds of rulers the cogent necessity of becoming reformers or of vanishing, Capponi was made a councillor of state, and at the close of that year was employed by the grand duke to draw up a scheme of representative institutions for Tuscany. To give anything approaching to a complete account of Capponi’s activity during the troubled period which followed would be to write the history of Tuscany during that period. The general progress of affairs was precisely that which history has had so often to recount. The sovereign, frightened, obstinate, and little able to appreciate the forces opposed to him, was wavering, fickle, timid, yet stubborn, and, above all, untrustworthy. The people were bent on pushing matters to extremes to which those who had so far been their leaders were unwilling to go, and, as usual, the best of those leaders were shunted from the road, happy if they were able, as Capponi was, to retire in safety to the tranquil seclusion of studious life. When, after the flight of the grand duke from his dominions and his subsequent restoration by Austrian bayonets, a regular government was once more established in Florence, Capponi was constant, though wholly unconnected with public life officially, in tendering counsel to the grand duke which, had it been listened to, might have saved his throne and changed all the future of Italy. But he was disregarded, and even suspected; and, as we all know, the end came in the memorable 1859. After the union of Italy under Victor Emmanuel, Capponi was at once named a senator and decorated with all the honors the sovereign had to bestow. But, alas! they were bestowed on a blind old man, whose misfortune incapacitated him from taking any part in public life. From the time when the Italian revolution was consummated the life of Gino Capponi was that of a retired and laborious student. The loss of his sight by no means involved in his case the abandonment of literary labor; and his last great work, published but a year or two ago, the History of the Republic of Florence, is the second great historical work which in our own time has been produced by an author deprived of eyesight.
Capponi began his literary life at twenty by the publication in 1812 of Observations on a Critical Examination of Amerigo Vespucci’s First Voyage to the New World: he ended it, as has been said, by the publication at eighty of his Florentine History. To give even the titles of all the works he published in the interim would occupy more than two of these columns. He has left in manuscript a History of the Church during the First Centuries and Records of the Years 1814-16, 1821, 1831, 1847-49. It is to be hoped that the latter of these works will see the light: Capponi’s account of the memorable years in question would be no small boon to the historian.
It is needless to say that the funeral, and obsequies of this great citizen were surrounded by every observance that could help to mark the nation’s sense of the greatness of the loss it had sustained. It would be hardly possible to name a corner of Italy that has not by deputation or special official message sought to associate itself with the task of doing him honor.
“Come and dine with us next Thursday,” said an American literary lady now residing in Paris to a friend or two recently. “We expect Rossi on that day, and I think you would like to meet him.”
The company was but a small one, the intention of the hostess being not to show off her distinguished guest, but to bring together a few congenial spirits to pass a pleasant hour in his society. Punctual to the minute, the hero of the occasion entered, his superb physique and majestic presence showing to even greater advantage in the irreproachable evening garb of a finished gentleman than in the velvet and tinsel of his stage attire. As is the case with almost all really handsome actors or actresses, Rossi is finer-looking off the stage than on it. The simplicity and refinement of his manners, totally free from anything like affectation or posing for effect, are very noticeable. His head is noble, both in form and carriage, and he has a way, when eager in conversation, of pushing back the masses of his profuse chestnut hair which gives a sort of leonine look to the broad massive brow and intelligent features.
Once seated at table, the conversation naturally turned upon the dramatic art and upon Shakespeare. Every person present except the king of the feast was an American, and a Shakespeare fanatic as well. Rather to the surprise of even his most ardent admirers, the great tragedian proved to be a keen and intelligent Shakespearian scholar, not only of the roles that he has made his own, but also of the whole of the works of the world’s greatest dramatist.
“I date my love for Shakespeare,” said Rossi, “from the time that I was a little child. My grandfather possessed a set of his plays translated into Italian, and whenever I was restless and unable to go to sleep he would take me into his arms and lull me to rest with tales from these treasured volumes.
“It was I who first introduced Shakespeare in his veritable form on the Italian stage. Up to that time the classic form had been alone considered admissible for tragedy. The first play that I produced was Othello. When in the first scene Brabantio came to the window, the audience began to laugh. ‘Is this a tragedy?’ they cried—’a man talking out of a window!’ They laughed all through the first acts. But,” continued Rossi, looking round with a sudden flash from his expressive eyes, “when the scene with Iago came they ceased to laugh; and henceforward they laughed no more. At the present time Shakespeare
The fact now came out that Rossi is an accomplished linguist. He reads and understands both English and German, though he speaks neither language. French he speaks as fluently as he does Italian, and he is also versed in Spanish. He spoke rapturously of the German Shakespeare (Schlegel’s translation), declaring that he considered it nearly equal to the original.
“Next to Shakespeare, but at a great distance below him, I would rank Moliere,” said Rossi in answer to a query from one of the guests. “Moliere has given us real types of character and real humor. But he was the man of his epoch, not for all time. He has painted for us the men and manners of his day and generation: he did not take all humanity for a study. Therefore, his works appear old-fashioned on the modern stage, while those of Shakespeare will never seem faded or out of date.”
“What a wonder, what a marvel was Shakespeare! He was an Englishman born and bred, yet he turns to Italy and paints for us a picture of Italian life and love such as no Italian hand has ever drawn. His heart throbs, his imagination glows, with all the fire and fervor of the South. He depicts for us a Moor, an African, and the sun of Africa scorches his brain and inflames his passions.”
“And Hamlet,” I remarked, “is thoroughly of the North—a German even, rather than Englishman.”
“To me,” answered Rossi, “Hamlet represents no nationality and no one type of character. He is the image of humanity. Hamlet is to me not a man, but Man. The sufferings, the doubts, the vague mysteries of life are incarnate in his person. He is ever checked by the Unknown. He is tortured by the phantasm of Doubt. Is the spectre indeed his father’s shade? has it spoken truth? is it well to live? is it best to die?—such are the problems that perplex his brain.”
“To be or not to be—that is the question; but it is only one of the questions that haunt his soul.”
“A distinguished English actor who had come to Paris to see me act once asked me why, in the first scene with the Ghost, I betray no terror, while in the scene with the Queen I crouch in affright behind a chair, wild with alarm, the moment the phantom appears. I answered that in the first scene the Ghost comes before Hamlet as the image of a beloved and lamented parent, while in the second-named instance he appears as an embodiment of conscience. For Hamlet has disobeyed the mandate of the spectre: he has dared to threaten and upbraid his mother.
“The reason why the Ghost is visible to Marcellus, Bernardo and Horatio In the first act, and not to the Queen in the third, has always appeared to me very simple. The phantom appears only to those who loved and mourned the dead king. Not to his false wife, not to her who, if not cognizant of his murder, is yet wedded to his murderer, will the pale Shape appear.
“Hamlet, above all tragedies, is independent of the accessories of scenery and costume. With a slight change of surroundings the character might be performed in modern dress without injury to its marvelous individuality.”
Rossi was much surprised when he learned that most of the stage-business in Hamlet which he had studied out for himself formed part and parcel of the traditions of the play on the American and English boards. Among the points that he specified as having been thus thought out was the reference to the two miniatures in the scene with the Queen—
Look here, upon this picture, and on this;
and he strongly deprecated the idea of two life-sized portraits hanging against the wall, as is sometimes the usage.
Mention was made of Bulwer’s Richelieu by one of the guests as a part peculiarly fitted to the powers of the great tragedian, and he was asked if he knew the play.
“No,” answered Rossi, “and I should scarcely care to add it to my repertoire, which is already rather an extensive one. I have personated in my time over four hundred characters, including all the prominent personages of Alfieri, Moliere and Goldoni.”
“Then you play comedy as well as tragedy? Have you ever appeared as Shakespeare’s Benedick?”
“Never, but I may perhaps study the character for my approaching tour in the United States. My other Shakespearian characters, besides those in which I have already appeared in Paris, are Coriolanus, Shylock, and Timon of Athens. Once I began to study Richard III., but chancing to see Bogumil Dawison in that character, I was so delighted with his personation that I gave up all thoughts of performing the part myself.”
At this juncture our host attempted to fill Rossi’s glass with some peculiarly choice wine, but the tragedian stopped him with a smile. “I am very temperate in my habits,” he said, “and drink nothing but light claret. I am not one of those that think that an actor can never play with proper fire unless he is half drunk, like Kean in Desordre et Genie. I may have very little genius—”
But here a universal outcry interrupted the speaker. That proposition was evidently wholly untenable, in that company at least.
“Well, then,” added Rossi laughing, “whatever genius I may possess, I do not believe in disorder.”
This little incident turned the conversation on the modern French drama, whereof Rossi spoke rather slightingly, stigmatizing it as mechanical, being composed of plays written to be performed and not to live. “In Victor Hugo’s dramas,” he remarked, “there are some fine lines and noble passages, but the characters are always Victor Hugo in a mask: they are never real personages. It is always the author who speaks—never a new individuality. As to the classic dramatists of France, they are intolerable. Corneille is perhaps a shade better than Racine, but both are stiff, pompous and unnatural: their characters are a set of wooden puppets that are pulled by wires and work in a certain fixed manner, from which they never deviate.
“It was Voltaire that taught the French to despise Shakespeare. He called him a barbarian, and the French believe that saying true to the present time. Yet he did not hesitate to steal Othello when he wanted to write Zaire, or, rather, he went out on the boulevards, picked out the first good-looking barber he could find, dressed him up in Eastern garments, and then fancied that he had created a French Othello.”
“I saw Mounet-Sully at one of the performances of your Othello” I remarked. “I wonder what he thought of his own personation of Orosmane when he witnessed the real tragedy?”
“Had Mounet-Sully been able to appreciate Othello” answered Rossi, “he never could have brought himself to personate Orosmane.”
Some one then asked Rossi what he thought of the Comedie Frarcaise.
“The Comedie Francaise,” said Rossi, “like every school of acting that is founded on art, and not on Nature, is falling into decadence. It is ruled by tradition, not by the realities of life and passion. One incident that I beheld at a rehearsal at that theatre in 1855 revealed the usual process by which their great performers study their art. I was then fulfilling an engagement in Paris with Ristori, and, though only twenty-two years of age, I was her leading man and stage-manager as well. The Italian troupe was requested to perform at the Comedie Francaise on the occasion of the benefit of which I have spoken, and we were to give one act of Maria Stuart, When we arrived at the theatre to commence our rehearsal the company was in the act of rehearsing a scene from Tartuffe which was to form part of the programme on the same occasion. M. Bressant was the Tartuffe, and Madeleine Brohan was to personate Elmire. They came to the point where Tartuffe lays his hand on the knee of Elmire. Thereupon, Mademoiselle Brohan turned to the stage-manager and asked, ‘What am I to do now?’ ‘Well,’ said that functionary, ’Madame X—— used to bite her lips and look sideways at the offending hand; Madame Z—— used to blush and frown, etc.’ But neither of them said, What would a woman like Elmire—a virtuous woman—do if so insulted by a sneaking hypocrite? They took counsel of tradition, not of Nature. In fact, the French stage is given over to sensation dramas and the opera bouffe, and such theatres as the Comedie Francaise and the Odeon have but a forced and artificial existence.”
“Not a word against the opera bouffe!” remarked one of the lady-guests, laughing. “Did I not see you enjoying yourself immensely at the second representation of La Boulangere a des Ecus?”
Whereupon Rossi assumed an air of conscious guilt most comical to see.
Some one then asked him at what age and in what character he had made his debut. His reply was: “I was just fourteen, and I played the soubrette characters in an amateur company—a line that I could hardly assume with any degree of vraisemblance now.” And he put his head on one side, thrust his hands into a pair of imaginary apron-pockets and looked around with a pert, chambermaid-like air so absurdly unsuited to his noble features and intellectual brow—to say nothing of his stalwart physique—that all present shrieked with laughter.
The evening was now drawing to a close, and the guests began to take their departure. When Rossi came to say farewell his hostess asked him if he would do her the favor of writing his autograph in her copy of Shakespeare. He assented at once, and taking up the pen, he wrote in Italian these lines: “O Master! would that I could comprehend thee even as I love thee!” and then appended his name.
A peculiar brightness and geniality of temperament, a childlike simplicity of manner, united to a keen and cultivated intellect and to a thorough knowledge of social conventionalities,—such was the impression left by Signor Rossi on the minds of those present. There was a total absence of conceit or of self-assertion that was very remarkable in a member of his profession, and one, too, of such wide-spread celebrity. The general verdict of Europe is that he is as great an actor as Salvini, while his repertoire is far more important and varied: it remains to be seen whether the United States will endorse the verdict of Italy and of Paris.
“FOUNDER’S DAY” AT RAINE’S HOSPITAL.
MAY DAY in London would not seem at first sight to realize the traditionary associations connected with its name, but in a certain parish of the city a more solid interest attaches to this day, and young girls look forward to the ceremony which marks it with more anxiety than ever did village-lass to her expected royalty of a day. Twice a year (the Fifth of November being the other occasion) a wedding-portion of one hundred pounds is given by lot to one girl among the many whose antecedents, as prescribed by the founder’s will, entitle them to become candidates. This endowment is connected with what is known as Raine’s Asylum in the parish of St. George’s-in-the-East, London. The parish is populous and unfashionable, and proportionately poor and interesting. Among its members in the last century was Henry Raine, a brewer, who in 1719 founded two schools for the free education of fifty girls and fifty boys, respectively. In 1736 he founded and endowed a new school, called the Asylum, for teaching, clothing and training forty
The building called Raine’s Asylum (or sometimes Hospital) is a plain, ugly, square mass, as all specimens of the so-called Georgian “architecture” are apt to be. The London atmosphere has rather blackened than mellowed its crude tone of red brick and white stone till the whole is of the uniform color of India ink. Over the projecting portico stands the bust of the founder in wig and bands, looking more like a scholar or a divine than a brewer, and leaving the impression of a good, truthful, thoughtful face, with a long slender nose, thin mouth and broad and massive forehead. Behind the Asylum stretches a garden—not a small one for such a locality—and, though London gardens are not apt to be cheery places, this one has at least the merit of standing as evidence of the kind-hearted founder’s intention to bestow as much fresh air as possible on his protegees.
TURKEY is the piece de resistance of European politics. It has lasted through the sitting of a century. At intervals the assembled gourmands would simultaneously bend their eyes upon it; and an energetic sharpening of carving-knives and poising of forks would spring up with a synchronous shuffling of plates. Slashing would sometimes follow, and slices were served round with more or less impartiality
* * * * *
This land of law, lawyers and lawmakers is badly in want of a jurist or two. Advocates, special pleaders, log-rollers, and codes that are recodified every twelvemonth are poor substitutes for a few men capable of perceiving the principles of equity, systematizing their expression and making them simple, uniform and absolute in practice. When a judge in one of the largest and most enlightened States of the Union grants a writ of error to a convict whom he has twice sentenced to be hanged, it is plain to the dullest unprofessional eye that something is radically and mischievously wrong with bench, bar, or legislature, or with all three. It makes the administration of justice, in its best aspect, a lottery; the goddess blindfolded, it may be, but only for drawing from the wheel. In the worst aspect it makes of it a hideous mockery. With the proverbial uncertainty of the law we have been long familiar. It is measurably curable. We are now confronted by its proverbial certainty to go wrong. Whether the cause lie in the mode of election and tenure of judges, a tendency of the bar to limit its responsibility by the title and the ethics of the attorney, or the endless tinkering of forty legislatures, or in all of these combined with other influences that might be suggested, it is evident that we are ripe for law reform, and that our Romilly cannot appear too soon.
Sonnets, Songs and Stories.
By Cora Kennedy Aitken. London:
Hodder & Stoughton.
This little book is one of that numerous class which is the despair of the critic. Its spirit is so much better than its letter that one is left in doubt whether its author is incapable of more careful finish, or is simply disdainful of it. Mrs. Aitken is apparently a lesser Mrs. Browning, cast in a Scotch mould. She is fond of writing upon patriotic or historic themes, and through all her poems runs a current of strong religious feeling. Without being in any sense an imitator of Mrs. Browning, there is a certain trick of phrase here and there which recalls her style, while the choice of subjects continually reminds one of Mrs. Browning’s favorite themes. One of her sonnets, called “Unless” (an awkward title enough, by the by) begins thus:
Sweetheart, I tell thee, I, a woman born
To live by music, and to soar and sing,
As stars for shining, flowers for blossoming,
Could never sit beneath the stars and mourn
With missing aught from such high destinies.
That is very suggestive of Mrs. Browning’s style, and it were easy to multiply instances; such as this, for example, from the poem called “In York:”
The broad vaulted aisles are so still
we can hear
The silences bend thro’ the loneliness, listening
To the eloquent brasses that burn at our feet,
With holy signs glistening.
This is the worst form of Browningese. Exactly what Mrs. Aitken meant by it she probably knows as little as any of us; but we would humbly suggest to her that one does not hear anything bend, unless it be of a creaking nature, like an old tree, and that is rather opposed to one’s idea of “silences,” vague as our notions of that plural noun are. Why one “silence” could not serve her turn is one of those Dundrearyan conundrums that no fellow can find out. And, while we are about it, we should like to know whether it is the silences or the loneliness or “we” that listen to the eloquent brasses, and to inquire mildly why the poet threw away the opportunity to say the “brazen eloquences,” which would have been novel and striking, and quite in the vein of her great original. If Mrs. Browning can talk about “broken sentiency” and “elemental strategies,” why should not Mrs. Aitken aspire to hear the silences bend? To do her justice, she does not use such expressions very often—her style is usually simple and comprehensible—but she does sometimes make the mistake of confounding incomprehensibility and power. She has some pretty descriptions of Nature here and there, and one or two of her ballads are very good, especially that called “A Story of Tours;” but her sonnets are none of them constructed after the genuine Italian model, and generally end with a couplet. Her blank verse is the worst of all. The most ambitious poem in the book is that called “A Day in the Life of Mary Stuart,” a dramatic poem in three scenes, dated the last of January, 1567. It contains a scene between the queen and her maidens, a scene with the Presbyterian deputies, and a scene with Bothwell, wherein she incites him to the murder of Darnley. It is unfortunate that the poem should have appeared in the same year with Swinburne’s Bothwell, that magnificent study of the character of Mary Stuart. The characters in Mrs. Aitken’s sketch are weak and thin, and the verse intolerable. She divides the most inseparable phrases to make out her measure, and constantly ends the lines with a preposition. No torturing of the voice can make verse of such sentences as these:
Your grace deny Lord Bothwell’s wish to be
Made member of the council, and if so
Be you delay, he—
In the scene with Bothwell the queen declares her love to him thus:
Wait you for love? ’Tis worth the waiting for.
God put a power of closer tenderness
In mine than in most women’s souls. Who thrills
The senses, holds the heart, in all inspiring
Ways sweetens and magnifies to good
Love’s life, conceiving colder estimate
Of love? So will I love you, without stint.
Compare this feeble and disjointed utterance with the corresponding speech in Swinburne’s play. Mary says:
my fair lord!
How fairer is this warrior face, and eyes
With the iron light of battle in them, left
As the after-fire of sunset left in heaven
When the sun sinks, than any fool’s face made
Of smiles and courtly color! Now I feel
As I were man too, and had part myself
In your great strength; being one with you as I,
How should I not be strong?
Cartoons. By Margaret J. Preston. Boston: Roberts Brothers.
If Mrs, Aitken’s poems suggest Mrs. Browning’s, these Cartoons of Mrs. Preston’s have a slight flavor of Robert Browning’s Men and Women in their subjects and in their mode of thought. A cartoon is usually supposed to be a design for tapestry or mosaic, but we suppose that Mrs. Preston has taken the significance given the word by our illustrated papers, where it is held to mean a large outline sketch. The title is not a very happy one, but the poems, are much better than the title. They are strong, simple and well-written, and the subjects are usually very well chosen. They are divided into “Cartoons from the Life of the Old Masters,” “Cartoons from the Life of the Legends” and “Cartoons from the Life of To-day.” Of these, the second division is perhaps the weakest, the first the most interesting, while the third makes up in religious sentiment what it lacks in poetic strength and beauty. It contains more commonplace verses and ideas than either of the other two. Of the stories of the old masters, “Mona Lisa’s Picture,” “The Duke’s Commission” and “Woman’s Art” are perhaps the best, and the last poem especially is very spirited and terse. Mrs. Preston’s style has the rare merit in these days of uniting conciseness and directness to grace and beauty of expression. Her greatest failing is a lack of the sense of climax. There are several of these poems, like the two on the Venerable Bede and that called “Bacharach Wine,” that rather disappoint one by the insignificance of their closing stanzas or the gradual dwindling of their interest toward the end. There is a great deal of art in knowing when to stop, and there are many stories, like some of those in this book, that are very impressive told in a few words, but elaborated into a long poem lose all their power to move us. At the same time, we realize that it is not from any poverty of ideas that Mrs. Preston sometimes dwells too long upon a subject: her poetry is not diluted with a mere harmonious jingle of words, as destitute
Among my Books. (Second Series.)
By James Russell Lowell.
Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.
The essays in this volume have an advantage over the former series published under the same title in the greater homogeneousness of the subjects. These are all poets, and with one exception English poets. They are poets, too, so to speak, of one family, unequal in rank, but having that resemblance of character which marks the higher and lower peaks of the same mountain-chain. All are epic and lyric, none in a proper sense dramatic. All are poets de pur sang, endowed by nature with the special qualities which cannot be confounded with those of a different order, and which forbid all doubt as to a true “vocation.” Dante, Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, differing as they do in intellectual greatness and imaginative power, have all, as a distinguishing characteristic, that magic mastery over the harmonies of language which renders them responsive to subtle thoughts and ethereal conceptions. We find, however, no intimation that it is from any view of this kind that these essays have been collected, in a single group. It seems indeed more probable that they have simply been reprinted, in the order in which they first appeared, on being found of sufficient bulk to fill a volume of the desired size. Nor is it to be supposed that they indicate a particular course of study pursued with reference to their production. Though the author has had the works on which he comments beside him while he wrote, his long and close familiarity with them, as well as with the range of literature to which they belong, and with the principles and necessary details which help to illustrate them, is apparent throughout. Seldom, indeed, except in the case of a specialist devoting himself to some single field, has a critical panoply been more complete than that with which Mr. Lowell has armed himself. He discusses with equal learning and enthusiasm the profoundest and the minutest questions, mysteries of consciousness and niceties of metre and accent. Yet this laboriousness is curiously conjoined with something of a sybaritic tone, as of a taste cultivated to hyper-fastidiousness and
Fair Venice, flower of the last world’s delight.
Perhaps we should read ‘lost.’”
We fail to get any light from these quotations, and we should be glad to have been spared the doubt as to Mr. Lowell’s accuracy and authority as a verbal critic suggested by his off-hand emendation of a phrase which he has remembered for its alliterative sweetness while he has missed its sense and forgotten the context. In the line “Fayre Venice,” etc., which occurs not at the beginning, but near the end, of the sonnet, “lost” would be so contradictory to the sense that any editor who had found the word thus printed and had failed to substitute “last” would have betrayed inexcusable negligence. Spenser, writing while Venice, though declined from the height of her greatness, was still flourishing as well as fair, considers her as the marvel of his own age—the “last,” i.e., latest, world—as Babylon and Rome, with which he compares her, had been the marvels of antiquity, of worlds that were indeed lost. Slips of this kind are probably rare, but a prevailing tendency to put forward loose or fanciful conjectures as ex-cathedra rulings detracts from the pleasure and instruction to be derived from these essays.
[Footnote 6: Here is the sonnet, that the reader may judge for himself:
“The antique Babel, Empresse of
Upreard her buildinges to the threatned skie;
And second Babell, Tyrant of the West,
Her ayry towers upraised much more high.
But, with the weight of their own surquedry,
They both are fallen, that all the earth did feare,
And buried now in their own ashes ly:
Yet shewing, by their heapes, how great they were.
But in their place doth now a third appeare,
Fayre Venice, flower of the last world’s delight;
And next to them in beauty draweth neare,
But far exceedes in policie of right.
Yet not so fayre her buildinges to behold
As Lewkenor’s stile that hath her beautie told.”]
The Excavation of Olympia, by Ernst Curtius; and Ernst Curtius, by Prof. Robert P. Keep, Ph. D. Republished from International Review. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co.
History of the United States. By J.A. Doyle, with Maps by Francis A. Walker. (Freeman’s Historical Course for Schools.) New York: Henry Holt & Co.
Our National Currency and the Money Problem.
By Hon. Amasa Walker,
LL.D. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co.
A Hundred Years Ago, and other Poems. By Charles
W.E. Siegel, A.B.
Lancaster: Daily and Weekly Examiner.
History of the United States. (Centenary Edition.)
Vol.I. By George
Bancroft. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
The Christ of Paul; or, The Enigmas of Christianity.
By George Reber.
New York: Charles P. Somerby.
Percy Bysshe Shelley as a Philosopher and Reformer.
Sotheran. New York: Charles P. Somerby.
The Summerfield Imbroglio: A Tale. By Mortimer
Dear Lady Disdain. By Justin McCarthy. New York: Sheldon & Co.