If, Yes and Perhaps
by Edward Everett Hale
IF, YES, AND PERHAPS.
Four Possibilities and Six Exaggerations, with Some Bits of Fact.
EDWARD E. HALE.
Boston: Fields, Osgood, &Co., Successors To Ticknor and Fields.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by Ticknor
and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District
University Press: Welch, Bigelow, &Co., Cambridge.
I dedicate this book to the youngest of my friends, now two hours
old. Fun, fact, and fancy,may his fresh life mix the three in their
MILTON, June 6, 1868.
PREFACE TO THE
THE CHILDREN OF
A PIECE OF
THE OLD AND THE
NEW, FACE TO
THE DOT AND LINE
THE LAST VOYAGE
OF THE RESOLUTE.
MY DOUBLE, AND
HOW HE UNDID ME
THE MAN WITHOUT
THE LAST OF THE
THE SKELETON IN
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
The title to this book has met with general opprobrium, except in a
few quarters, where it was fortunately regarded as beneath contempt.
Colonel Ingham even exacted an explanation by telegraph from the
Editor, when he learned from the Governor-General of Northern Siberia
what the title was. This explanation the Editor gave in the following
note. It is, however, impossible to change the title, as he proposes.
For reasons known to all statesmen, it is out of the question to swap
horses in crossing a river; and all publishers know that it is equally
impossible to change titles under those circumstances.
BOSTON, October 17, 1868.
MY DEAR COLONEL INGHAM:
I have your note complaining of the sensational title,
affected, as you think, which I gave to our little
course I am sorry you do not like the name; but, while you
I beg you to hear.
I readily acceded to your original title, and called the book
manuscript as you bade me,
A Few Short Sketches taken from Ancient History, Modern
and the Realm of Imagination, Illustrative of the Poetry of
Bible, the History of Christianity, the Manners of the Times,
the Politics of the Present and Past Generations.
This title would, I admit, meet the views of most of our
critics. But I abandoned it on my own responsibility,you
then beyond the telegraph, at the mouth of the Oby
it occurred to me, that, under the catalogue rules of Panizzi
the lamented Jewett, we should be indexed and catalogued at
I did not think that a good omen.
Relinquishing, therefore, the effort at description of subject,
tried description of object, and determined on this:
Moral Sketches of Human Society, in the Past, the Present, and
Imagined Worlds. By F. I., &c., &c., &c.
But, as I slept and waked on this, I said, Who knows that
are moral sketches? We wished them to be moral, but
have been attacked by such patient critics as read them as
immoral, while many of the sketches seem to have no moral at
Who are we, to claim that we have attained a moral standard?
Waking and sleeping once more, I asked myself, What are the
things,poor, nameless heathen children, that can get no
and no Christian baptism?
I said, in reply, that at least one of them was the living
so far as it could be squeezed out of blue books and the most
proper of documents. Others might have been true, if the
had so willed. Others would have been true, had they not been
untrue. Others should have been true, had poetical justice
working rule of a vulgar world.
Might, Could, Would, or Should, then, would have been an
available name for most of them,unless one took from the
grammars the title of The Potential Mood.
But, you observe, my dear Ingham, that our little story-book is
destined mostly for young readers, who know no more of The
Potential Mood than they know of the surrender of Cornwallis
day celebrated). And, besides, we have some facts in the
which are not hypothetical. Why ignore them? Do you not see
your miserable suggestion of The Potential Mood is as
as it is sensational and fails as not comprehensive,
unintelligible, and not true?
For these reasons I settled on the plain, straightforward title
unadorned truth, viz. Four Possibilities, Six Exaggerations,
some Bits of Fact; and with this we went to the publisher.
I entered his shop, a boy from Dutton's rushed in with his
order-book, and cried:
I want seventy Chimes and ninety Ivanhoe.
What, said I, if, by any good fortune, it had been our
story-book that was wanted, this boy would then have called
'Seventy Four Possibilities.' Can there be so many in a world
which runs in grooves? Will he even get the number that he
our treatises? Alexander a robber! Let me reflect.
Reflecting thus, I determined that the title of a book must
4. It must not begin with a numeral.
I took a Tremont Street car and returned home.
What, I said in the night-watches, is the brief expression
possibility? Surely it is in the word PERHAPS.
What of a fact?
Surely it is YES.
What of an exaggeration? Why, it is that which would be true
had not been overstated. Our title then, clearly, is
PERHAPS, YES, AND IF.
I see that the critics would have been better satisfied with
But, on the principle of the little elephants sacrificing
themselves in the passage of a river, Mr. Fields and I
to start the smallest word first, and thus to drive a gentle
into the close chasm of the public favor. Sensitive, however,
am, dear Ingham, to your criticism, I will at the earliest
opportunity consult with him as to a return to the original
A Few Sketches * * * Illustrative, &c., &c., &c.
Or might we not let the one word Etcetera stand alone? Or
with the stars, * * * &c., &c., &c.?
E. E. HALE.
THE CHILDREN OF THE PUBLIC.
[This story originated in the advertisement of the humbug which
describes. Some fifteen or twenty years since, when gift
enterprises rose to one of their climaxes, a gift of a large
money, I think $10,000, was offered in New York to the most
successful ticket-holder in some scheme, and one of $5,000 to
second. It was arranged that one of these parties should be a
and the other a woman; and the amiable suggestion was added,
part of the undertaker of the enterprise, that if the
lady who drew these prizes liked each other sufficiently well
the distribution was made, they might regard the decision as a
match made for them in Heaven, and take the money as the dowry
the bride. This thoroughly practical, and, at the same time,
thoroughly absurd suggestion, arrested the attention of a
distinguished story-teller, a dear friend of mine, who
me that we should each of us write the history of one of the
successful parties, to be woven together by their union at the
The plan, however, lay latent for years,the gift enterprise
course blew up,and it was not until the summer of 1862 that
wrote my half of the proposed story, with the hope of
other half. My friend's more important engagements, however,
thus far kept Fausta's detailed biography from the light. I
half to Mr. Frank Leslie, in competition for a premium offered
him, as is stated in the second chapter of the story. And the
found such favor in the eyes of the judges, that it received
his second premiums. The first was very properly awarded to
Louisa Alcott, for a story of great spirit and power. The
Children of the Public was printed in Frank Leslie's
Newspaper for January 24 and January 31, 1863. The moral which
tries to illustrate, which is, I believe, an important one,
thus commended to the attention of the very large circle of
readers of that journal,a journal to which I am eager to say
think this nation has been very largely indebted for the
the good sense, and the high tone which seem always to
it. During the war, the pictorial journals had immense
the army, and they used this influence with an undeviating
to the true honor of the country.]
Felix, said my wife to me, as I came home to-night, you will have
to go to the pork-barrel.
Are you quite sure, said I,quite sure? 'Woe to him,' says the
oracle, 'who goes to the pork-barrel before the moment of his need.'
And woe to him, say I, replied my brave wife,woe and disaster
to him; but the moment of our need has come. The figures are here, and
you shall see. I have it all in black and in white.
And so it proved, indeed, that when Miss Sampson, the nurse, was
paid for her month's service, and when the boys had their winter boots,
and when my life-insurance assessment was provided for, and the new
payment for the insurance on the house,when the taxes were settled
with the collector (and my wife had to lay aside double for the
war),when the pew-rent was paid for the year, and the water-rate,we
must have to start with, on the 1st of January, one hundred dollars.
This, as we live, would pay, in cash, the butcher, and the grocer, and
the baker, and all the dealers in things that perish, and would buy the
omnibus tickets, and recompense Bridget till the 1st of April. And at
my house, if we can see forward three months we are satisfied. But, at
my house, we are never satisfied if there is a credit at any store for
us. We are sworn to pay as we go. We owe no man anything.
So it was that my wife said: Felix, you will have to go to the
This is the story of the pork-barrel.
It happened once, in a little parish in the Green Mountains, that
the deacon reported to Parson Plunkett, that, as he rode to meeting by
Chung-a-baug Pond, he saw Michael Stowers fishing for pickerel through
a hole in the ice on the Sabbath day. The parson made note of the
complaint, and that afternoon drove over to the pond in his one-horse
shay. He made his visit, not unacceptable, on the poor Stowers
household, and then crossed lots to the place where he saw poor Michael
hoeing. He told Michael that he was charged with Sabbath breaking, and
bade him plead to the charge. And poor Mike, like a man, plead guilty;
but, in extenuation, he said that there was nothing to eat in the
house, and rather than see wife and children faint, he had cut a hole
in the ice, had put in his hook again and again, and yet again, and
coming home had delighted the waiting family with an unexpected
breakfast. The good parson made no rebuke, nodded pensive, and drove
straightway to the deacon's door.
Deacon, said he, what meat did you eat for breakfast yesterday?
The deacon's family had eaten salt pork, fried.
And where did you get the pork, Deacon?
The Deacon stared, but said he had taken it from his pork-barrel.
Yes, Deacon, said the old man; I supposed so. I have been to see
Brother Stowers, to talk to him about his Sabbath-breaking; and,
Deacon, I find the pond is his pork-barrel.
The story is a favorite with me and with Fausta. But woe, says the
oracle, to him who goes to the pork-barrel before the moment of his
need. And to that woe both Fausta and I say amen. For we know that
there is no fish in our pond for spendthrifts or for lazy-bones; none
for people who wear gold chains or Attleborough jewelry; none for
people who are ashamed of cheap carpets or wooden mantelpieces. Not for
those who run in debt will the fish bite; nor for those who pretend to
be richer or better or wiser than they are. No! But we have found, in
our lives, that in a great democracy there reigns a great and gracious
sovereign. We have found that this sovereign, in a reckless and
unconscious way, is, all the time, making the most profuse provision
for all the citizens. We have found that those who are not too grand to
trust him fare as well as they deserve. We have found, on the other
hand, that those who lick his feet or flatter his follies fare worst of
living men. We find that those who work honestly, and only seek a man's
fair average of life, or a woman's, get that average, though sometimes
by the most singular experiences in the long run. And thus we find
that, when an extraordinary contingency arises in life, as just now in
ours, we have only to go to our pork-barrel, and the fish rises to our
hook or spear.
The sovereign brings this about in all sorts of ways, but he does
not fail, if, without flattering him, you trust him. Of this sovereign
the name isthe Public. Fausta and I are apt to call ourselves his
children, and so I name this story of our lives,
THE CHILDREN OF THE PUBLIC.
WHERE IS THE BARREL?
Where is the barrel this time, Fausta? said I, after I had added
and subtracted her figures three times, to be sure she had carried her
tens and hundreds rightly. For the units, in such accounts, in face of
Dr. Franklin, I confess I do not care.
The barrel, said she, is in FRANK LESLIE'S OFFICE. Here is the
mark! and she handed me FRANK LESLIE'S NEWSPAPER, with a mark at this
for the best Short Tale of from one to two pages of FRANK
ILLUSTRATED NEWSPAPER, to be sent in on or before the 1st of
There is another barrel, she said, with $5,000 in it, and another
with $1,000. But we do not want $5,000 or $1,000. There is a little
barrel with $50 in it. But see here, with all this figuring, I cannot
make it do. I have stopped the gas now, and I have turned the
children's coats,I wish you would see how well Robert's looks,and I
have had a new tile put in the cook-stove, instead of buying that
lovely new 'Banner.' But all will not do. We must go to this barrel.
And what is to be the hook, darling, this time? said I.
I have been thinking of it all day. I hope you will not hate it,I
know you will not like it exactly; but why not write down just the
whole story of what it is to be 'Children of the Public'; how we came
to live here, you know; how we built the house, andall about it?
How Felix knew Fausta, said I; and how Fausta first met Felix,
perhaps; and when they first kissed each other; and what she said to
him when they did so.
Tell that, if you dare, said Fausta; but perhapsthe oracle says
we must not be proudperhaps you might tell just a little. You
knowreally almost everybody is named Carter now; and I do not believe
the neighbors will notice,perhaps they won't read the paper. And if
they do notice it, I don't care! There!
It will not be so bad as
But I never finished the sentence. An imperative gesture closed my
lips physically as well as metaphorically, and I was glad to turn the
subject enough to sit down to tea with the children. After the bread
and butter we agreed what we might and what we might not tell, and then
I wrote what the reader is now to see.
MY LIFE TO ITS CRISIS.
New-Yorkers of to-day see so many processions, and live through so
many sensations, and hurrah for so many heroes in every year, that it
is only the oldest of fogies who tells you of the triumphant procession
of steamboats which, in the year 1824, welcomed General Lafayette on
his arrival from his tour through the country he had so nobly served.
But, if the reader wishes to lengthen out this story, he may button the
next silver-gray friend he meets, and ask him to tell of the broken
English and broken French of the Marquis, of Levasseur, and the rest of
them; of the enthusiasm of the people and the readiness of the
visitors, and he will please bear in mind that of all that am I.
For it so happened that on the morning when, for want of better
lions to show, the mayor and governor and the rest of them took the
Marquis and his secretary, and the rest of them, to see the orphan
asylum in Deering Street,as they passed into the first ward, after
having had a little refreshment in the managers' room, Sally Eaton,
the head nurse, dropped the first courtesy to them, and Sally Eaton, as
it happened, held me screaming in her arms. I had been sent to the
asylum that morning with a paper pinned to my bib, which said my name
was Felix Carter.
Eet ees verra fine, said the Marquis, smiling blandly.
Ràvissant! said Levasseur, and he dropped a five-franc piece into
Sally Eaton's hand. And so the procession of exhibiting managers
talking bad French, and of exhibited Frenchmen talking bad English,
passed on; all but good old Elkanah OgdenGod bless him!who happened
to have come there with the governor's party, and who loitered a minute
to talk with Sally Eaton about me.
Years afterwards she told me how the old man kissed me, how his eyes
watered when he asked my story, how she told again of the moment when I
was heard screaming on the doorstep, and how she offered to go and
bring the paper which had been pinned to my bib. But the old man said
it was no matter,only we would have called him Marquis, said he,
if his name was not provided for him. We must not leave him here, he
said; he shall grow up a farmer's lad, and not a little cockney. And
so, instead of going the grand round of infirmaries, kitchens,
bakeries, and dormitories with the rest, the good old soul went back
into the managers' room, and wrote at the moment a letter to John
Myers, who took care of his wild land in St. Lawrence County for him,
to ask him if Mrs. Myers would not bring up an orphan baby by hand for
him; and if, both together, they would not train this baby till he said
stop; if, on the other hand, he allowed them, in the yearly account,
a hundred dollars each year for the charge.
Anybody who knows how far a hundred dollars goes in the backwoods,
in St. Lawrence County, will know that any settler would be glad to
take a ward so recommended. Anybody who knew Betsy Myers as well as old
Elkanah Ogden did, would know she would have taken any orphan brought
to her door, even if he were not recommended at all.
So it happened, thanks to Lafayette and the city council! that I had
not been a Child of the Public a day, before, in its great, clumsy,
liberal way, it had provided for me. I owed my healthy, happy home of
the next fourteen years in the wilderness to those marvellous habits,
which I should else call absurd, with which we lionize strangers.
Because our hospitals and poorhouses are the largest buildings we have,
we entertain the Prince of Wales and Jenny Lind alike, by showing them
crazy people and paupers. Easy enough to laugh at is the display; but
if, dear Public, it happen, that by such a habit you ventilate your
Bridewell or your Bedlam, is not the ventilation, perhaps, a
compensation for the absurdity? I do not know if Lafayette was any the
better for his seeing the Deering Street Asylum; but I do know I was.
This is no history of my life. It is only an illustration of one of
its principles. I have no anecdotes of wilderness life to tell, and no
sketch of the lovely rugged traits of John and Betsy Myers,my real
father and mother. I have no quest for the pretended parents, who threw
me away in my babyhood, to record. They closed accounts with me when
they left me on the asylum steps, and I with them. I grew up with such
schooling as the public gave,ten weeks in winter always, and ten in
summer, till I was big enough to work on the farm,better periods of
schools, I hold, than on the modern systems. Mr. Ogden I never saw.
Regularly he allowed for me the hundred a year till I was nine years
old, and then suddenly he died, as the reader perhaps knows. But John
Myers kept me as his son, none the less. I knew no change until, when I
was fourteen, he thought it time for me to see the world, and sent me
to what, in those days, was called a Manual-Labor School.
There was a theory coming up in those days, wholly unfounded in
physiology, that if a man worked five hours with his hands, he could
study better in the next five. It is all nonsense. Exhaustion is
exhaustion; and if you exhaust a vessel by one stopcock, nothing is
gained or saved by closing that and opening another. The old up-country
theory is the true one. Study ten weeks and chop wood fifteen; study
ten more and harvest fifteen. But the Manual-Labor School offered
itself for really no pay, only John Myers and I carried over, I
remember, a dozen barrels of potatoes when I went there with my books.
The school was kept at Roscius, and if I would work in the carpenter's
shop and on the school farm five hours, why they would feed me and
teach me all they knew in what I had of the day beside.
Felix, said John, as he left me, I do not suppose this is the
best school in the world, unless you make it so. But I do suppose you
can make it so. If you and I went whining about, looking for the best
school in the world, and for somebody to pay your way through it, I
should die, and you would lose your voice with whining, and we should
not find one after all. This is what the public happens to provide for
you and me. We won't look a gift-horse in the mouth. Get on his back,
Felix; groom him well as you can when you stop, feed him when you can,
and at all events water him well and take care of him well. My last
advice to you, Felix, is to take what is offered you, and never
complain because nobody offers more.
Those words are to be cut on my seal-ring, if I ever have one, and
if Dr. Anthon or Professor Webster will put them into short enough
Latin for me. That is the motto of the Children of the Public.
John Myers died before that term was out. And my more than mother,
Betsy, went back to her friends in Maine. After the funeral I never saw
them more. How I lived from that moment to what Fausta and I call the
Crisis is nobody's concern. I worked in the shop at the school, or on
the farm. Afterwards I taught school in neighboring districts. I never
bought a ticket in a lottery or a raffle. But whenever there was a
chance to do an honest stroke of work, I did it. I have walked fifteen
miles at night to carry an election return to the Tribune's
agent at Gouverneur. I have turned out in the snow to break open the
road when the supervisor could not find another man in the township.
When Sartain started his magazine, I wrote an essay in competition
for his premiums, and the essay earned its hundred dollars. When the
managers of the Orphan Home, in Baltimore, offered their prizes for
papers on bad boys, I wrote for one of them, and that helped me on four
hard months. There was no luck in those things. I needed the money, and
I put my hook into the pork-barrel,that is, I trusted the Public. I
never had but one stroke of luck in my life. I wanted a new pair of
boots badly. I was going to walk to Albany, to work in the State
library on the history of the Six Nations, which had an interest for
me. I did not have a dollar. Just then there passed Congress the bill
dividing the surplus revenue. The State of New York received two or
three millions, and divided it among the counties. The county of St.
Lawrence divided it among the townships, and the township of Roscius
divided it among the voters. Two dollars and sixty cents of Uncle Sam's
money came to me, and with that money on my feet I walked to Albany.
That I call luck! How many fools had to assent in an absurdity before I
could study the history of the Six Nations!
But one instance told in detail is better than a thousand told in
general, for the illustration of a principle. So I will detain you no
longer from the history of what Fausta and I call
I was at work as a veneerer in a piano-forte factory at Attica, when
some tariff or other was passed or repealed; there came a great
financial explosion, and our boss, among the rest, failed. He owed us
all six months' wages, and we were all very poor and very blue.
Jonathan Whittemorea real good fellow, who used to cover the hammers
with leathercame to me the day the shop was closed, and told me he
was going to take the chance to go to Europe. He was going to the
Musical Conservatory at Leipsic, if he could. He would work his passage
out as a stoker. He would wash himself for three or four days at
Bremen, and then get work, if he could, with Voightlander or Von Hammer
till he could enter the Conservatory. By way of preparation for this he
wanted me to sell him my Adler's German Dictionary.
I've nothing to give you for it, Felix, but this foolish thing,it
is one of Burrham's tickets,which I bought in a frolic the night of
our sleigh-ride. I'll transfer it to you.
I told Jonathan he might have the dictionary and welcome. He was
doing a sensible thing, and he would use it twenty times as much as I
should. As for the ticket, he had better keep it. I did not want it.
But I saw he would feel better if I took it,so he indorsed it to me.
Now the reader must know that this Burrham was a man who had got
hold of one corner of the idea of what the Public could do for its
children. He had found out that there were a thousand people who would
be glad to make the tour of the mountains and the lakes every summer if
they could do it for half-price. He found out that the railroad
companies were glad enough to put the price down if they could be sure
of the thousand people. He mediated between the two, and so cheap
excursions came into being. They are one of the gifts the Public gives
its children. Rising from step to step, Burrham had, just before the
great financial crisis, conceived the idea of a great cheap
combination, in which everybody was to receive a magazine for a year
and a cyclopædia, both at half-price; and not only so, but the money
that was gained in the combination was to be given by lot to two
ticket-holders, one a man and one a woman, for their dowry in marriage.
I dare say the reader remembers the prospectus. It savors too much of
the modern Gift Enterprise to be reprinted in full; but it had this
honest element, that everybody got more than he could get for his money
in retail. I have my magazine, the old Boston Miscellany, to
this day, and I just now looked out Levasseur's name in my cyclopædia;
and, as you will see, I have reason to know that all the other
subscribers got theirs.
One of the tickets for these books, for which Whittemore had given
five good dollars, was what he gave to me for my dictionary. And so we
parted. I loitered at Attica, hoping for a place where I could put in
my oar. But my hand was out at teaching, and in a time when all the
world's veneers of different kinds were ripping off, nobody wanted me
to put on more of my kind,so that my cash ran low. I would not go in
debt,that is a thing I never did. More honest, I say, to go to the
poorhouse, and make the Public care for its child there, than to borrow
what you cannot pay. But I did not come quite to that, as you shall
I was counting up my money one night,and it was easily done,when
I observed that the date on this Burrham order was the 15th of October,
and it occurred to me that it was not quite a fortnight before those
books were to be delivered. They were to be delivered at Castle Garden,
at New York; and the thought struck me that I might go to New York, try
my chance there for work, and at least see the city, which I had never
seen, and get my cyclopædia and magazine. It was the least offer the
Public ever made to me; but just then the Public was in a collapse, and
the least was better than nothing. The plan of so long a journey was
Quixotic enough, and I hesitated about it a good deal. Finally I came
to this resolve: I would start in the morning to walk to the
lock-station at Brockport on the canal. If a boat passed that night
where they would give me my fare for any work I could do for them, I
would go to Albany. If not, I would walk back to Lockport the next day,
and try my fortune there. This gave me, for my first day's enterprise,
a foot journey of about twenty-five miles. It was out of the question,
with my finances, for me to think of compassing the train.
Every point of life is a pivot on which turns the whole action of
our after-lives; and so, indeed, of the after-lives of the whole world.
But we are so purblind that we only see this of certain special
enterprises and endeavors, which we therefore call critical. I am sure
I see it of that twenty-five miles of fresh autumnal walking. I was in
tiptop spirits. I found the air all oxygen, and everything all right.
I did not loiter, and I did not hurry. I swung along with the feeling
that every nerve and muscle drew, as in the trades a sailor feels of
every rope and sail. And so I was not tired, not thirsty, till the
brook appeared where I was to drink; nor hungry till twelve o'clock
came, when I was to dine. I called myself as I walked The Child of
Good Fortune, because the sun was on my right quarter, as the sun
should be when you walk, because the rain of yesterday had laid the
dust for me, and the frost of yesterday had painted the hills for me,
and the northwest wind cooled the air for me. I came to Wilkie's
Cross-Roads just in time to meet the Claremont baker and buy my dinner
loaf of him. And when my walk was nearly done, I came out on the low
bridge at Sewell's, which is a drawbridge, just before they raised it
for a passing boat, instead of the moment after. Because I was all
right I felt myself and called myself The Child of Good Fortune. Dear
reader, in a world made by a loving Father, we are all of us children
of good fortune, if we only have wit enough to find it out, as we
The last stroke of good fortune which that day had for me was the
solution of my question whether or no I would go to Babylon. I was to
go if any good-natured boatman would take me. This is a question, Mr.
Millionnaire, more doubtful to those who have not drawn their dividends
than to those who have. As I came down the village street at Brockport,
I could see the horses of a boat bound eastward, led along from level
to level at the last lock; and, in spite of my determination not to
hurry, I put myself on the long, loping trot which the St. Regis
Indians taught me, that I might overhaul this boat before she got under
way at her new speed. I came out on the upper gate of the last lock
just as she passed out from the lower gate. The horses were just put
on, and a reckless boy gave them their first blow after two hours of
rest and corn. As the heavy boat started off under the new motion, I
saw, and her skipper saw at the same instant, that a long new tow-rope
of his, which had lain coiled on deck, was suddenly flying out to its
full length. The outer end of it had been carried upon the lock-side by
some chance or blunder, and there some idle loafer had thrown the
looped bight of it over a hawser-post. The loafers on the lock saw, as
I did, that the rope was running out, and at the call of the skipper
one of them condescended to throw the loop overboard, but he did it so
carelessly that the lazy rope rolled over into the lock, and the loop
caught on one of the valve-irons of the upper gate. The whole was the
business of an instant, of course. But the poor skipper saw, what we
did not, that the coil of the rope on deck was foul, and so entangled
round his long tiller, that ten seconds would do one of three
things,they would snap his new rope in two, which was a trifle, or
they would wrench his tiller-head off the rudder, which would cost him
an hour to mend, or they would upset those two horses, at this instant
on a trot, and put into the canal the rowdy youngster who had started
them. It was this complex certainty which gave fire to the double cries
which he addressed aft to us on the lock, and forward to the magnet
boy, whose indifferent intelligence at that moment drew him along.
I was stepping upon the gate-head to walk across it. It took but an
instant, not nearly all the ten seconds, to swing down by my arms into
the lock, keeping myself hanging by my hands, to catch with my right
foot the bight of the rope and lift it off the treacherous iron, to
kick the whole into the water, and then to scramble up the wet
lock-side again. I got a little wet, but that was nothing. I ran down
the tow-path, beckoned to the skipper, who sheered his boat up to the
shore, and I jumped on board.
At that moment, reader, Fausta was sitting in a yellow chair on the
deck of that musty old boat, crocheting from a pattern in Godey's
Lady's Book. I remember it as I remember my breakfast of this
morning. Not that I fell in love with her, nor did I fall in love with
my breakfast; but I knew she was there. And that was the first time I
ever saw her. It is many years since, and I have seen her every day
from that evening to this evening. But I had then no business with her.
My affair was with him whom I have called the skipper, by way of
adapting this fresh-water narrative to ears accustomed to Marryat and
Tom Cringle. I told him that I had to go to New York; that I had not
time to walk, and had not money to pay; that I should like to work my
passage to Troy, if there were any way in which I could; and to ask him
this I had come on board.
Waal, said the skipper, 'taint much that is to be done, and
Zekiel and I calc'late to do most of that; and there's that blamed boy
This adjective blamed is the virtuous oath by which simple people,
who are improving their habits, cure themselves of a stronger epithet,
as men take to flagroot who are abandoning tobacco.
He ain't good for nothin', as you see, continued the skipper
meditatively, and you air, anybody can see that, he added. Ef you've
mind to come to Albany, you can have your vittles, poor enough they are
too; and ef you are willing to ride sometimes, you can ride. I guess
where there's room for three in the bunks there's room for four. 'Taint
everybody would have cast off that blamed hawser-rope as neat as you
From which last remark I inferred, what I learned as a certainty as
we travelled farther, that but for the timely assistance I had rendered
him I should have plead for my passage in vain.
This was my introduction to Fausta. That is to say, she heard the
whole of the conversation. The formal introduction, which is omitted in
no circle of American life to which I have ever been admitted, took
place at tea half an hour after, when Mrs. Grills, who always voyaged
with her husband, brought in the flapjacks from the kitchen. Miss
Jones, said Grills, as I came into the meal, leaving Zekiel at the
tiller,Miss Jones, this is a young man who is going to Albany. I
don't rightly know how to call your name, sir. I said my name was
Carter. Then he said, Mr. Carter, this is Miss Jones. Mrs. Grills, Mr.
Carter. Mr. Carter, Mrs. Grills. She is my wife. And so our partie
carrée was established for the voyage.
In these days there are few people who know that a journey on a
canal is the pleasantest journey in the world. A canal has to go
through fine scenery. It cannot exist unless it follow through the
valley of a stream. The movement is so easy that, with your eyes shut,
you do not know you move. The route is so direct, that when you are
once shielded from the sun, you are safe for hours. You draw, you read,
you write, or you sew, crochet, or knit. You play on your flute or your
guitar, without one hint of inconvenience. At a low bridge you duck
your head lest you lose your hat,and that reminder teaches you that
you are human. You are glad to know this, and you laugh at the memento.
For the rest of the time you journey, if you are all right within, in
I rode one of those horses perhaps two or three hours a day. At
locks I made myself generally useful. At night I walked the deck till
one o'clock, with my pipe or without it, to keep guard against the
lock-thieves. The skipper asked me sometimes, after he found I could
cipher, to disentangle some of the knots in his bills of lading for
him. But all this made but a little inroad in those lovely autumn days,
and for the eight days that we glided along,there is one blessed
level which is seventy miles long,I spent most of my time with
Fausta. We walked together on the tow-path to get our appetites for
dinner and for supper. At sunrise I always made a cruise inland, and
collected the gentians and black alder-berries and colored leaves, with
which she dressed Mrs. Grill's table. She took an interest in my
wretched sketchbook, and though she did not and does not draw well, she
did show me how to spread an even tint, which I never knew before. I
was working up my French. She knew about as much and as little as I
did, and we read Mad. Reybaud's Clementine together, guessing at the
hard words, because we had no dictionary.
Dear old Grill offered to talk French at table, and we tried it for
a few days. But it proved he picked up his pronunciation at St.
Catherine's, among the boatmen there, and he would say shwo for
horses, where the book said chevaux. Our talk, on the other
hand, was not Parisian,but it was not Catherinian,and we subsided
into English again.
So sped along these blessed eight days. I told Fausta thus much of
my story, that I was going to seek my fortune in New York. She, of
course, knew nothing of me but what she saw, and she told me nothing of
But I was very sorry when we came into the basin at Troy, for I knew
then that in all reason I must take the steamboat down. And I was very
glad,I have seldom in my life been so glad,when I found that she
also was going to New York immediately. She accepted, very pleasantly,
my offer to carry her trunk to the Isaac Newton for her, and to act as
her escort to the city. For me, my trunk,
in danger tried,
Swung in my hand,nor left my side.
My earthly possessions were few anywhere. I had left at Attica most
of what they were. Through the voyage I had been man enough to keep on
a working-gear fit for a workman's duty. And old Grills had not yet
grace enough to keep his boat still on Sunday. How one remembers little
things! I can remember each touch of the toilet, as, in that corner of
a dark cuddy where I had shared Zekiel's bunk with him, I dressed
myself with one of my two white shirts, and with the change of raiment
which had been tight squeezed in my portmanteau. The old overcoat was
the best part of it, as in a finite world it often is. I sold my felt
hat to Zekiel, and appeared with a light travelling-cap. I do not know
how Fausta liked my metamorphosis. I only know that, like butterflies,
for a day or two after they go through theirs, I felt decidedly cold.
As Carter, the canal man, I had carried Fausta's trunk on board. As
Mr. Carter, I gave her my arm, led her to the gangway of the Newton,
took her passage and mine, and afterwards walked and sat through the
splendid moonlight of the first four hours down the river.
Miss Jones determined that evening to breakfast on the boat. Be it
observed that I did not then know her by any other name. She was to go
to an aunt's house, and she knew that if she left the boat on its early
arrival in New York, she would disturb that lady by a premature ringing
at her bell. I had no reason for haste, as the reader knows. The
distribution of the cyclopædias was not to take place till the next
day, and that absurd trifle was the only distinct excuse I had to
myself for being in New York at all. I asked Miss Jones, therefore, if
I might not be her escort still to her aunt's house. I had said it
would be hard to break off our pleasant journey before I had seen where
she lived, and I thought she seemed relieved to know that she should
not be wholly a stranger on her arrival. It was clear enough that her
aunt would send no one to meet her.
These preliminaries adjusted, we parted to our respective cabins.
And when, the next morning, at that unearthly hour demanded by
Philadelphia trains and other exigencies, the Newton made her dock, I
rejoiced that breakfast was not till seven o'clock, that I had two
hours more of the berth, which was luxury compared to Zekiel's bunk,I
turned upon my other side and slept on.
Sorry enough for that morning nap was I for the next thirty-six
hours. For when I went on deck, and sent in the stewardess to tell Miss
Jones that I was waiting for her, and then took from her the check for
her trunk, I woke to the misery of finding that, in that treacherous
two hours, some pirate from the pier had stepped on board, had seized
the waiting trunk, left almost alone, while the baggage-master's back
was turned, and that, to a certainty, it was lost. I did not return to
Fausta with this story till the breakfast-bell had long passed and the
breakfast was very cold. I did not then tell it to her till I had seen
her eat her breakfast with an appetite much better than mine. I had
already offered up stairs the largest reward to anybody who would bring
it back which my scanty purse would pay. I had spoken to the clerk, who
had sent for a policeman. I could do nothing more, and I did not choose
to ruin her chop and coffee by ill-timed news. The officer came before
breakfast was over, and called me from table.
On the whole, his business-like way encouraged one. He had some
clews which I had not thought possible. It was not unlikely that they
should pounce on the trunk before it was broken open. I gave him a
written description of its marks; and when he civilly asked if my
lady would give some description of any books or other articles
within, I readily promised that I would call with such a description at
the police station. Somewhat encouraged, I returned to Miss Jones, and,
when I led her from the breakfast-table, told her of her misfortune. I
took all shame to myself for my own carelessness, to which I attributed
the loss. But I told her all that the officer had said to me, and that
I hoped to bring her the trunk at her aunt's before the day was over.
Fausta took my news, however, with a start which frightened me. All
her money, but a shilling or two, was in the trunk. To place money in
trunks is a weakness of the female mind which I have nowhere seen
accounted for. Worse than this, though,as appeared after a moment's
examination of her travelling sac,her portfolio in the trunk
contained the letter of the aunt whom she came to visit, giving her her
address in the city. To this address she had no other clew but that her
aunt was Mrs. Mary Mason, had married a few years before a merchant
named Mason, whom Miss Jones had never seen, and of whose name and
business this was all she knew. They lived in a numbered street, but
whether it was Fourth Street, or Fifty-fourth, or One Hundred and
Twenty-fourth, or whether it was something between, the poor child had
no idea. She had put up the letter carefully, but had never thought of
the importance of the address. Besides this aunt, she knew no human
being in New York.
Child of the Public, I said to myself, what do you do now? I had
appealed to my great patron in sending for the officer, and on the
whole I felt that my sovereign had been gracious to me, if not yet
hopeful. But now I must rub my lamp again, and ask the genie where the
unknown Mason lived. The genie of course suggested the Directory, and I
ran for it to the clerk's office. But as we were toiling down the pages
of Masons, and had written off thirteen or fourteen who lived in
numbered streets, Fausta started, looked back at the preface and its
date, flung down her pencil in the only abandonment of dismay in which
I ever saw her, and cried, First of May! They were abroad until May.
They have been abroad since the day they were married! So that genie
had to put his glories into his pocket, and carry his Directory back to
the office again.
The natural thing to propose was, that I should find for Miss Jones
a respectable boarding-house, and that she should remain there until
her trunk was found, or till she could write to friends who had this
fatal address, and receive an answer. But here she hesitated. She
hardly liked to explain why,did not explain wholly. But she did not
say that she had no friends who knew this address. She had but few
relations in the world, and her aunt had communicated with her alone
since she came from Europe. As for the boarding-house, I had rather
look for work, she said bravely. I have never promised to pay money
when I did not know how to obtain it; and thatand here she took out
fifty or sixty cents from her purseand that is all now. In
respectable boarding-houses, when people come without luggage, they are
apt to ask for an advance. Or, at least, she added, with some pride,
I am apt to offer it.
I hastened to ask her to take all my little store; but I had to own
that I had not two dollars. I was sure, however, that my overcoat and
the dress-suit I wore would avail me something, if I thrust them boldly
up some spout. I was sure that I should be at work within a day or two.
At all events, I was certain of the cyclopædia the next day. That
should go to old Gowan's,in Fulton Street it was then,the moral
centre of the intellectual world, in the hour I got it. And at this
moment, for the first time, the thought crossed me, If mine could only
be the name drawn, so that that foolish $5,000 should fall to me. In
that case I felt that Fausta might live in a respectable
boarding-house till she died. Of this, of course, I said nothing, only
that she was welcome to my poor dollar and a half, and that I should
receive the next day some more money that was due me.
You forget, Mr. Carter, replied Fausta, as proudly as
before,you forget that I cannot borrow of you any more than of a
boarding-house-keeper. I never borrow. Please God, I never will. It
must be, she added, that in a Christian city like this there is some
respectable and fit arrangement made for travellers who find themselves
where I am. What that provision is I do not know; but I will find out
what it is before this sun goes down.
I paused a moment before I replied. If I had been fascinated by this
lovely girl before, I now bowed in respect before her dignity and
resolution; and, with my sympathy, there was a delicious throb of
self-respect united, when I heard her lay down so simply, as principles
of her life, two principles on which I had always myself tried to live.
The half-expressed habits of my boyhood and youth were now uttered for
me as axioms by lips which I knew could speak nothing but right and
I paused a moment. I stumbled a little as I expressed my regret that
she would not let me help her,joined with my certainty that she was
in the right in refusing,and then, in the only stiff speech I ever
made to her, I said:
I am the 'Child of the Public.' If you ever hear my story, you will
say so too. At the least, I can claim this, that I have a right to help
you in your quest as to the way in which the public will help you. Thus
far I am clearly the officer in his suite to whom he has intrusted you.
Are you ready, then, to go on shore?
Fausta looked around on that forlorn ladies' saloon, as if it were
the last link holding her to her old safe world.
Looked upon skylight, lamp, and chain,
As what she ne'er might see again.
Then she looked right through me; and if there had been one mean
thought in me at that minute, she would have seen the viper. Then she
I have perfect confidence in you, though people would say we were
strangers. Let us go.
And we left the boat together. We declined the invitations of the
noisy hackmen, and walked slowly to Broadway.
We stopped at the station-house for that district, and to the
attentive chief Fausta herself described those contents of her trunk
which she thought would be most easily detected, if offered for sale.
Her mother's Bible, at which the chief shook his head; Bibles, alas!
brought nothing at the shops; a soldier's medal, such as were given as
target prizes by the Montgomery regiment; and a little silver canteen,
marked with the device of the same regiment, seemed to him better
worthy of note. Her portfolio was wrought with a cipher, and she
explained to him that she was most eager that this should be recovered.
The pocket-book contained more than one hundred dollars, which she
described, but he shook his head here, and gave her but little hope of
that, if the trunk were once opened. His chief hope was for this
And where shall we send to you then, madam? said he.
I had been proud, as if it were my merit, of the impression Fausta
had made upon the officer, in her quiet, simple, ladylike dress and
manner. For myself, I thought that one slip of pretence in my dress or
bearing, a scrap of gold or of pinchbeck, would have ruined both of us
in our appeal. But, fortunately, I did not disgrace her, and the man
looked at her as if he expected her to say Fourteenth Street. What
would she say?
That depends upon what the time will be. Mr. Carter will call at
noon, and will let you know.
We bowed, and were gone. In an instant more she begged my pardon,
almost with tears; but I told her that if she also had been a Child of
the Public, she could not more fitly have spoken to one of her
father's officers. I begged her to use me as her protector, and not to
apologize again. Then we laid out the plans which we followed out that
The officer's manner had reassured her, and I succeeded in
persuading her that it was certain we should have the trunk at noon.
How much better to wait, at least so far, before she entered on any of
the enterprises of which she talked so coolly, as of offering herself
as a nursery-girl, or as a milliner, to whoever would employ her, if
only she could thus secure an honest home till money or till aunt were
found. Once persuaded that we were safe from this Quixotism, I told her
that we must go on, as we did on the canal, and first we must take our
constitutional walk for two hours.
At least, she said, our good papa, the Public, gives us wonderful
sights to see, and good walking to our feet, as a better Father has
given us this heavenly sky and this bracing air.
And with those words the last heaviness of despondency left her face
for that day. And we plunged into the delicious adventure of exploring
a new city, staring into windows as only strangers can, revelling in
print-shops as only they do, really seeing the fine buildings as
residents always forget to do, and laying up, in short, with those
streets, nearly all the associations which to this day we have with
Two hours of this tired us with walking, of course. I do not know
what she meant to do next; but at ten I said, Time for French, Miss
Jones. Ah oui, said she, mais où? and I had
calculated my distances, and led her at once into Lafayette Place; and,
in a moment, pushed open the door of the Astor Library, led her up the
main stairway, and said, This is what the Public provides for his
children when they have to study.
This is the Astor, said she, delighted. And we are all right, as
you say, here? Then she saw that our entrance excited no surprise
among the few readers, men and women, who were beginning to assemble.
We took our seats at an unoccupied table, and began to revel in the
luxuries for which we had only to ask that we might enjoy. I had a
little memorandum of books which I had been waiting to see. She needed
none; but looked for one and another, and yet another, and between us
we kept the attendant well in motion. A pleasant thing to me to be
finding out her thoroughbred tastes and lines of work, and I was happy
enough to interest her in some of my pet readings; and, of course, for
she was a woman, to get quick hints which had never dawned on me
before. A very short hour and a half we spent there before I went to
the station-house again. I went very quickly. I returned to her very
The trunk was not found. But they were now quite sure they were on
its track. They felt certain it had been carried from pier to pier and
taken back up the river. Nor was it hopeless to follow it. The
particular rascal who was supposed to have it would certainly stop
either at Piermont or at Newburg. They had telegraphed to both places,
and were in time for both. The day boat, sir, will bring your lady's
trunk, and will bring me Rowdy Rob, too, I hope, said the officer. But
at the same moment, as he rang his bell, he learned that no despatch
had yet been received from either of the places named. I did not feel
so certain as he did.
But Fausta showed no discomfort as I told my news. Thus far, said
she, the Public serves me well. I will borrow no trouble by want of
faith. And Ias Dante would sayand I, to her, will you let me
remind you, then, that at one we dine; that Mrs. Grills is now placing
the salt-pork upon the cabin table, and Mr. Grills asking the blessing;
and, as this is the only day when I can have the honor of your company,
will you let me show you how a Child of the Public dines, when his
finances are low?
Fausta laughed, and said again, less tragically than before, I have
perfect confidence in you,little thinking how she started my blood
with the words; but this time, as if in token, she let me take her hand
upon my arm, as we walked down the street together.
If we had been snobs, or even if I had been one, I should have taken
her to Taylor's, and have spent all the money I had on such a luncheon
as neither of us had ever eaten before. Whatever else I am, I am not a
snob of that sort. I show my colors. I led her into a little
cross-street which I had noticed in our erratic morning pilgrimage. We
stopped at a German baker's. I bade her sit down at the neat marble
table, and I bought two rolls. She declined lager, which I offered her
in fun. We took water instead, and we had dined, and had paid two cents
for our meal, and had had a very merry dinner, too, when the clock
And now, Mr. Carter, said she, I will steal no more of your day.
You did not come to New York to escort lone damsels to the Astor
Library or to dinner. Nor did I come only to see the lions or to read
French. I insist on your going to your affairs, and leaving me to mine.
If you will meet me at the Library half an hour before it closes, I
will thank you; till then, with a tragedy shake of the hand, and a
merry laugh, adieu!
I knew very well that no harm could happen to her in two hours of an
autumn afternoon. I was not sorry for her congé, for it gave me
an opportunity to follow my own plans. I stopped at one or two
cabinet-makers, and talked with the jours about work, that I might
tell her with truth that I had been in search of it;then I sedulously
began on calling upon every man I could reach named Mason. O, how often
I went through one phase or another of this colloquy:
Is Mr. Mason in?
That's my name, sir.
Can you give me the address of Mr. Mason who returned from Europe
Know no such person, sir.
The reader can imagine how many forms this dialogue could be
repeated in, before, as I wrought my way through a long line of
dry-goods cases to a distant counting-room, I heard some one in it say,
No, madam, I know no such person as you describe; and from the recess
Fausta emerged and met me. Her plan for the afternoon had been the same
with mine. We laughed as we detected each other; then I told her she
had had quite enough of this, that it was time she should rest, and
took her, nolens volens, into the ladies' parlor of the St.
Nicholas, and bade her wait there through the twilight, with my copy of
Clementine, till I should return from the police-station. If the reader
has ever waited in such a place for some one to come and attend to him,
he will understand that nobody will be apt to molest him when he has
not asked for attention.
Two hours I left Fausta in the rocking-chair, which there the Public
had provided for her. Then I returned, sadly enough. No tidings of
Rowdy Rob, none of trunk, Bible, money, letter, medal, or anything.
Still was my district sergeant hopeful, and, as always, respectful. But
I was hopeless this time, and I knew that the next day Fausta would be
plunging into the war with intelligence-houses and advertisements. For
the night, I was determined that she should spend it in my ideal
respectable boarding-house. On my way down town, I stopped in at one
or two shops to make inquiries, and satisfied myself where I would take
her. Still I thought it wisest that we should go after tea; and another
cross-street baker, and another pair of rolls, and another tap at the
Croton, provided that repast for us. Then I told Fausta of the
respectable boarding-house, and that she must go there. She did not say
no. But she did say she would rather not spend the evening there.
There must be some place open for us, said she. There! there is a
church-bell! The church is always home. Let us come there.
So to evening meeting we went, startling the sexton by arriving an
hour early. If there were any who wondered what was the use of that
Wednesday-evening service, we did not. In a dark gallery pew we sat,
she at one end, I at the other; and, if the whole truth be told, each
of us fell asleep at once, and slept till the heavy organ tones taught
us that the service had begun. A hundred or more people had straggled
in then, and the preacher, good soul, he took for his text, Doth not
God care for the ravens? I cannot describe the ineffable feeling of
home that came over me in that dark pew of that old church. I had never
been in so large a church before. I had never heard so heavy an organ
before. Perhaps I had heard better preaching, but never any that came
to my occasions more. But it was none of these things which moved me.
It was the fact that we were just where we had a right to be. No
impudent waiter could ask us why we were sitting there, nor any
petulant policeman propose that we should push on. It was God's house,
and, because his, it was his children's.
All this feeling of repose grew upon me, and, as it proved, upon
Fausta also. For when the service was ended, and I ventured to ask her
whether she also had this sense of home and rest, she assented so
eagerly, that I proposed, though with hesitation, a notion which had
crossed me, that I should leave her there.
I cannot think, I said, of any possible harm that could come to
you before morning.
Do you know, I had thought of that very same thing, but I did not
dare tell you, she said.
Was not I glad that she had considered me her keeper! But I only
said, At the 'respectable boarding-house' you might be annoyed by
And no one will speak to me here. I know that from Goody
I will be here, said I, at sunrise in the morning. And so I bade
her good by, insisting on leaving in the pew my own great-coat. I knew
she might need it before morning. I walked out as the sexton closed the
door below on the last of the down-stairs worshippers. He passed along
the aisles below, with his long poker which screwed down the gas. I saw
at once that he had no intent of exploring the galleries. But I
loitered outside till I saw him lock the doors and depart; and then,
happy in the thought that Miss Jones was in the safest place in New
York,as comfortable as she was the night before, and much more
comfortable than she had been any night upon the canal, I went in
search of my own lodging.
To the respectable boarding-house?
Not a bit, reader. I had no shillings for respectable or
disrespectable boarding-houses. I asked the first policeman where his
district station was. I went into its office, and told the captain that
I was green in the city; had got no work and no money. In truth, I had
left my purse in Miss Jones's charge, and a five-cent piece, which I
showed the chief, was all I had. He said no word but to bid me go up
two flights and turn into the first bunk I found. I did so; and in five
minutes was asleep in a better bed than I had slept in for nine days.
That was what the Public did for me that night. I, too, was safe!
I am making this story too long. But with that night and its
anxieties the end has come. At sunrise I rose and made my easy toilet.
I bought and ate my roll,varying the brand from yesterday's. I bought
another, with a lump of butter, and an orange, for Fausta. I left my
portmanteau at the station, while I rushed to the sexton's house, told
his wife I had left my gloves in church the night before,as was the
truth,and easily obtained from her the keys. In a moment I was in the
vestibulelocked inwas in the gallery, and there found Fausta, just
awake, as she declared, from a comfortable night, reading her morning
lesson in the Bible, and sure, she said, that I should soon appear. Nor
ghost, nor wraith, had visited her. I spread for her a brown paper
tablecloth on the table in the vestibule. I laid out her breakfast for
her, called her, and wondered at her toilet. How is it that women
always make themselves appear as neat and finished as if there were no
conflict, dust, or wrinkle in the world.
[Here Fausta adds, in this manuscript, a parenthesis, to say that
she folded her undersleeves neatly, and her collar, before she slept,
and put them between the cushions, upon which she slept. In the morning
they had been pressedwithout a sad-iron.]
She finished her repast. I opened the church door for five minutes.
She passed out when she had enough examined the monuments, and at a
respectable distance I followed her. We joined each other, and took our
accustomed morning walk; but then she resolutely said, Good by, for
the day. She would find work before night,work and a home. And I must
do the same. Only when I pressed her to let me know of her success, she
said she would meet me at the Astor Library just before it closed. No,
she would not take my money. Enough, that for twenty-four hours she had
been my guest. When she had found her aunt and told her the story, they
should insist on repaying this hospitality. Hospitality, dear reader,
which I had dispensed at the charge of six cents. Have you ever treated
Miranda for a day and found the charge so low? When I urged other
assistance she said resolutely, No. In fact, she had already made an
appointment at two, she said, and she must not waste the day.
I also had an appointment at two; for it was at that hour that
Burrham was to distribute the cyclopædias at Castle Garden. The
Emigrant Commission had not yet seized it for their own. I spent the
morning in asking vainly for Masons fresh from Europe, and for work in
cabinet-shops. I found neither, and so wrought my way to the appointed
place, where, instead of such wretched birds in the bush, I was to get
one so contemptible in my hand.
Those who remember Jenny Lind's first triumph night at Castle Garden
have some idea of the crowd as it filled gallery and floor of that
immense hall when I entered. I had given no thought to the machinery of
this folly. I only know that my ticket bade me be there at two P. M.
this day. But as I drew near, the throng, the bands of policemen, the
long queues of persons entering, reminded me that here was an affair of
ten thousand persons, and also that Mr. Burrham was not unwilling to
make it as showy, perhaps as noisy, an affair as was respectable, by
way of advertising future excursions and distributions. I was led to
seat No. 3,671 with a good deal of parade, and when I came there I
found I was very much of a prisoner. I was late, or rather on the
stroke of two. Immediately, almost, Mr. Burrham arose in the front and
made a long speech about his liberality, and the public's liberality,
and everybody's liberality in general, and the method of the
distribution in particular. The mayor and four or five other well-known
and respectable gentlemen were kind enough to be present to guarantee
the fairness of the arrangements. At the suggestion of the mayor and
the police, the doors would now be closed, that no persons might
interrupt the ceremony till it was ended. And the distribution of the
cyclopædias would at once go forward, in the order in which the lots
were drawn,earliest numbers securing the earliest impressions; which,
as Mr. Burrham almost regretted to say, were a little better than the
latest. After these had been distributed two figures would be
drawn,one green and one red, to indicate the fortunate lady and
gentleman who would receive respectively the profits which had arisen
from this method of selling the cyclopædias, after the expenses of
printing and distribution had been covered, and after the magazines had
Great cheering followed this announcement from all but me. Here I
had shut myself up in this humbug hall, for Heaven knew how long, on
the most important day of my life. I would have given up willingly my
cyclopædia and my chance at the profits, for the certainty of seeing
Fausta at five o'clock. If I did not see her then, what might befall
her, and when might I see her again. An hour before this certainty was
my own, now it was only mine by my liberating myself from this prison.
Still I was encouraged by seeing that everything was conducted like
clock-work. From literally a hundred stations they were distributing
the books. We formed ourselves into queues as we pleased, drew our
numbers, and then presented ourselves at the bureaux, ordered our
magazines, and took our cyclopædias. It would be done, at that rate, by
half past four. An omnibus might bring me to the Park, and a Bowery car
do the rest in time. After a vain discussion for the right of exit with
one or two of the attendants, I abandoned myself to this hope, and
began studying my cyclopædia.
It was sufficiently amusing to see ten thousand people resign
themselves to the same task, and affect to be unconcerned about the
green and red figures which were to divide the profits. I tried to
make out who were as anxious to get out of that tawdry den as I was.
Four o'clock struck, and the distribution was not done. I began to be
very impatient. What if Fausta fell into trouble? I knew, or hoped I
knew, that she would struggle to the Astor Library, as to her only
place of rescue and refuge,her asylum. What if I failed her there? I
who had pretended to be her protector! Protector, indeed! she would
say, if she knew I was at a theatre witnessing the greatest folly of
the age. And if I did not meet her to-day, when should I meet her? If
she found her aunt, how should I find her? If she did not find
her,good God? that was worse,where might she not be before twelve
hours were over? Then the fatal trunk! I had told the police agent he
might send it to the St. Nicholas, because I had to give him some
address. But Fausta did not know this, and the St. Nicholas people knew
nothing of us. I grew more and more excited, and when at last my next
neighbor told me that it was half past four, I rose and insisted on
leaving my seat. Two ushers with blue sashes almost held me down; they
showed me the whole assembly sinking into quiet. In fact, at that
moment Mr. Burrham was begging every one to be seated. I would not be
seated. I would go to the door. I would go out. Go, if you please!
said the usher next it, contemptuously. And I looked, and there was no
handle! Yet this was not a dream. It is the way they arrange the doors
in halls where they choose to keep people in their places. I could have
collared that grinning blue sash. I did tell him I would wring his
precious neck for him, if he did not let me out. I said I would sue him
for false imprisonment; I would have a writ of habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus be dd! said the officer, with an irreverent
disrespect to the palladium. If you are not more civil, sir, I will
call the police, of whom we have plenty. You say you want to go out;
you are keeping everybody in.
And, in fact, at that moment the clear voice of the mayor was
announcing that they would not go on until there was perfect quiet; and
I felt that I was imprisoning all these people, not they me.
Child of the Public, said my mourning genius; are you better than
other men? So I sneaked back to seat No. 3,671, amid the contemptuous
and reproachful looks and sneers of my more respectable neighbors, who
had sat where they were told to do. We must be through in a moment, and
perhaps Fausta would be late also. If only the Astor would keep open
after sunset! How often have I wished that since, and for less reasons!
Silence thus restored, Mr. A, the mayor, led forward his little
daughter, blindfolded her, and bade her put her hand into a green box,
from which she drew out a green ticket. He took it from her, and read,
in his clear voice again, No. 2,973! By this time we all knew where
the two thousands sat. Then nine hundreds were not far from the
front, so that it was not far that that frightened girl, dressed all in
black, and heavily veiled, had to walk, who answered to this call. Mr.
Amet her, helped her up the stair upon the stage, took from her her
ticket, and read, Jerusha Stillingfleet, of Yellow Springs, who, at
her death, as it seems, transferred this right to the bearer.
The disappointed nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine joined
in a rapturous cheer, each man and woman, to show that he or she was
not disappointed. The bearer spoke with Mr. Burrham, in answer to his
questions, and, with a good deal of ostentation, he opened a
check-book, filled a check and passed it to her, she signing a receipt
as she took it, and transferring to him her ticket. So far, in dumb
show, all was well. What was more to my purpose, it was rapid, for we
should have been done in five minutes more, but that some devil tempted
some loafer in a gallery to cry, Face! face! Miss Stillingfleet's
legatee was still heavily veiled.
In one horrid minute that whole amphitheatre, which seemed to me
then more cruel than the Coliseum ever was, rang out with a cry of
Face, face! I tried the counter-cry of Shame! shame! but I was in
disgrace among my neighbors, and a counter-cry never takes as its
prototype does, either. At first, on the stage, they affected not to
hear or understand; then there was a courtly whisper between Mr.
Burrham and the lady; but Mr. A, the mayor, and the respectable
gentlemen, instantly interfered. It was evident that she would not
unveil, and that they were prepared to indorse her refusal. In a moment
more she courtesied to the assembly; the mayor gave her his arm, and
led her out through a side-door.
O, the yell that rose up then! The whole assembly stood up, and, as
if they had lost some vested right, hooted and shrieked, Back! back!
Face! face! Mr. Areturned, made as if he would speak, came forward
to the very front, and got a moment's silence.
It is not in the bond, gentlemen, said he. The young lady is
unwilling to unveil, and we must not compel her.
Face! face! was the only answer, and oranges from up stairs flew
about his head and struck upon the table,an omen only fearful from
what it prophesied. Then there was such a row for five minutes as I
hope I may never see or hear again. People kept their places
fortunately, under a vague impression that they should forfeit some
magic rights if they left those numbered seats. But when, for a moment,
a file of policemen appeared in the orchestra, a whole volley of
cyclopædias fell like rain upon their chief, with a renewed cry of
At this juncture, with a good deal of knowledge of popular feeling,
Mr. Aled forward his child again. Frightened to death the poor
thing was, and crying; he tied his handkerchief round her eyes hastily,
and took her to the red box. For a minute the house was hushed. A cry
of Down! down! and every one took his place as the child gave the red
ticket to her father. He read it as before, No. 3,671! I heard the
words as if he did not speak them. All excited by the delay and the
row, by the injustice to the stranger and the personal injustice of
everybody to me, I did not know, for a dozen seconds, that every one
was looking towards our side of the house, nor was it till my next
neighbor with the watch said, Go, you fool, that I was aware that
3,671 was I! Even then, as I stepped down the passage and up the steps,
my only feeling was, that I should get out of this horrid trap, and
possibly find Miss Jones lingering near the Astor,not by any means
that I was invited to take a check for $5,000.
There was not much cheering. Women never mean to cheer, of course.
The men had cheered the green ticket, but they were mad with the red
one. I gave up my ticket, signed my receipt, and took my check, shook
hands with Mr. Aand Mr. Burrham, and turned to bow to the mob,for
mob I must call it now. But the cheers died away. A few people tried to
go out perhaps, but there was nothing now to retain any in their seats
as before, and the generality rose, pressed down the passages, and
howled, Face! face! I thought for a moment that I ought to say
something, but they would not hear me, and, after a moment's pause, my
passion to depart overwhelmed me. I muttered some apology to the
gentlemen, and left the stage by the stage door.
I had forgotten that to Castle Garden there can be no back entrance.
I came to door after door, which were all locked. It was growing dark.
Evidently the sun was set, and I knew the library door would be shut at
sunset. The passages were very obscure. All around me rang this horrid
yell of the mob, in which all that I could discern was the cry, Face,
face! At last, as I groped round, I came to a practicable door. I
entered a room where the western sunset glare dazzled me. I was not
alone. The veiled lady in black was there. But the instant she saw me
she sprang towards me, flung herself into my arms, and cried:
Felix, is it you?you are indeed my protector!
It was Miss Jones! It was Fausta! She was the legatee of Miss
Stillingfleet. My first thought was, O, if that beggarly usher had let
me go! Will I ever, ever think I have better rights than the Public
I took her in my arms. I carried her to the sofa. I could hardly
speak for excitement. Then I did say that I had been wild with terror;
that I had feared I had lost her, and lost her forever; that to have
lost that interview would have been worse to me than death; for unless
she knew that I loved her better than man ever loved woman, I could not
face a lonely night, and another lonely day.
My dear, dear child, I said, you may think me wild; but I must
say this,it has been pent up too long.
Say what you will, she said after a moment, in which still I held
her in my arms; she was trembling so that she could not have sat
upright alone,say what you will, if only you do not tell me to spend
another day alone.
And I kissed her, and I kissed her, and I kissed her, and I said,
Never, darling, God helping me, till I die!
How long we sat there I do not know. Neither of us spoke again. For
one, I looked out on the sunset and the bay. We had but just time to
rearrange ourselves in positions more independent, when Mr. Acame
in, this time in alarm, to say:
Miss Jones, we must get you out of this place, or we must hide you
somewhere. I believe, before God, they will storm this passage, and
pull the house about our ears.
He said this, not conscious as he began that I was there. At that
moment, however, I felt as if I could have met a million men. I started
forward and passed him, saying, Let me speak to them. I rushed upon
the stage, fairly pushing back two or three bullies who were already
upon it. I sprang upon the table, kicking down the red box as I did so,
so that the red tickets fell on the floor and on the people below. One
stuck in an old man's spectacles in a way which made the people in the
galleries laugh. A laugh is a great blessing at such a moment.
Curiosity is another. Three loud words spoken like thunder do a good
deal more. And after three words the house was hushed to hear me. I
Be fair to the girl. She has no father nor mother. She has no
brother nor sister. She is alone in the world, with nobody to help her
but the Publicand me!
The audacity of the speech brought out a cheer, and we should have
come off in triumph, when some rowdythe original face man, I
And who are you?
If the laugh went against me now I was lost, of course. Fortunately
I had no time to think. I said without thinking,
I am the Child of the Public, and her betrothed husband!
O Heavens! what a yell of laughter, of hurrahings, of satisfaction
with a dénouement, rang through the house, and showed that all
was well. Burrham caught the moment, and started his band, this time
successfully,I believe with See the Conquering Hero. The doors, of
course, had been open long before. Well-disposed people saw they need
stay no longer; ill-disposed people dared not stay; the blue-coated men
with buttons sauntered on the stage in groups, and I suppose the worst
rowdies disappeared as they saw them. I had made my single speech, and
for the moment I was a hero.
I believe the mayor would have liked to kiss me. Burrham almost did.
They overwhelmed me with thanks and congratulations. All these I
received as well as I could,somehow I did not feel at all
surprised,everything was as it should be. I scarcely thought of
leaving the stage myself, till, to my surprise, the mayor asked me to
go home with him to dinner.
Then I remembered that we were not to spend the rest of our lives in
Castle Garden. I blundered out something about Miss Jones, that she had
no escort except me, and pressed into her room to find her. A group of
gentlemen was around her. Her veil was back now. She was very pale, but
very lovely. Have I said that she was beautiful as heaven? She was the
queen of the room, modestly and pleasantly receiving their
felicitations that the danger was over, and owning that she had been
very much frightened. Until, she said, my friend, Mr. Carter, was
fortunate enough to guess that I was here. How he did it, she said,
turning to me, is yet an utter mystery to me.
She did not know till then that it was I who had shared with her the
profits of the cyclopædias.
As soon as we could excuse ourselves, I asked some one to order a
carriage. I sent to the ticket-office for my valise, and we rode to the
St. Nicholas. I fairly laughed as I gave the hackman at the hotel door
what would have been my last dollar and a half only two hours before. I
entered Miss Jones's name and my own. The clerk looked, and said,
Is it Miss Jones's trunk which came this afternoon?
I followed his finger to see the trunk on the marble floor. Rowdy
Rob had deserted it, having seen, perhaps, a detective when he reached
Piermont. The trunk had gone to Albany, had found no owner, and had
returned by the day boat of that day.
Fausta went to her room, and I sent her supper after her. One kiss
and Good night was all that I got from her then.
In the morning, said she, you shall explain.
It was not yet seven. I went to my own room and dressed, and
tendered myself at the mayor's just before his gay party sat down to
dine. I met, for the first time in my life, men whose books I had read,
and whose speeches I had by heart, and women whom I have since known to
honor; and, in the midst of this brilliant group, so excited had Mr.
Abeen in telling the strange story of the day, I was, for the hour,
I led Mrs. Ato the table; I made her laugh very heartily by
telling her of the usher's threats to me, and mine to him, and of the
disgrace into which I fell among the three thousand six hundreds. I had
never been at any such party before. But I found it was only rather
simpler and more quiet than most parties I had seen, that its good
breeding was exactly that of dear Betsy Myers.
As the party broke up, Mrs. Asaid to me,
Mr. Carter, I am sure you are tired, with all this excitement. You
say you are a stranger here. Let me send round for your trunk to the
St. Nicholas, and you shall spend the night here. I know I can make you
a better bed than they.
I thought as much myself, and assented. In half an hour more I was
in bed in Mrs. A's best room.
I shall not sleep better, said I to myself, than I did last
That was what the Public did for me that night. I was safe again!
Fausta slept late, poor child. I called for her before breakfast. I
waited for her after. About ten she appeared, so radiant, so beautiful,
and so kind! The trunk had revealed a dress I never saw before, and the
sense of rest, and eternal security, and unbroken love had revealed a
charm which was never there to see before. She was dressed for walking,
and, as she met me, said,
Time for constitutional, Mr. Millionnaire.
So we walked again, quite up town, almost to the region of pig-pens
and cabbage-gardens which is now the Central Park. And after just the
first gush of my enthusiasm, Fausta said, very seriously:
I must teach you to be grave. You do not know whom you are asking
to be your wife. Excepting Mrs. Mason, No. 27 Thirty-fourth Street,
sir, there is no one in the world who is of kin to me, and she does not
care for me one straw, Felix, she said, almost sadly now. You call
yourself 'Child of the Public' I started when you first said so, for
that is just what I am.
I am twenty-two years old. My father died before I was born. My
mother, a poor woman, disliked by his relatives and avoided by them,
went to live in Hoboken over there, with me. How she lived, God knows!
but it happened that of a strange death she died, I in her arms.
After a pause, the poor girl went on:
There was a great military review, an encampment. She was tempted
out to see it. Of a sudden by some mistake, a ramrod was fired from a
careless soldier's gun, and it pierced her through her heart. I tell
you, Felix, it pinned my baby frock into the wound, so that they could
not part me from her till it was cut away.
Of course every one was filled with horror. Nobody claimed poor me,
the baby. But the battalion, the Montgomery Battalion, it was, which
had, by mischance, killed my mother, adopted me as their child. I was
voted 'Fille du Regiment.' They paid an assessment annually, which the
colonel expended for me. A kind old woman nursed me.
She was your Betsy Myers, interrupted I.
And when I was old enough I was sent into Connecticut, to the best
of schools. This lasted till I was sixteen. Fortunately for me,
perhaps, the Montgomery Battalion then dissolved. I was finding it hard
to answer the colonel's annual letters. I had my living to earn,it
was best I should earn it. I declined a proposal to go out as a
missionary. I had no call. I answered one of Miss Beecher's appeals for
Western teachers. Most of my life since has been a school-ma'am's. It
has had ups and downs. But I have always been proud that the Public was
my godfather; and, as you know, she said, I have trusted the Public
well. I have never been lonely, wherever I went. I tried to make myself
of use. Where I was of use I found society. The ministers have been
kind to me. I always offered my services in the Sunday schools and
sewing-rooms. The school committees have been kind to me. They are the
Public's high chamberlains for poor girls. I have written for the
journals. I won one of Sartain's hundred-dollar prizes
And I another, interrupted I.
When I was very poor, I won the first prize for an essay on bad
And I the second, answered I.
I think I know one bad boy better than he knows himself, said she.
But she went on. I watched with this poor Miss Stillingfleet the night
she died. This absurd 'distribution' had got hold of her, and she would
not be satisfied till she had transferred that strange ticket, No.
2,973, to me, writing the indorsement which you have heard. I had had a
longing to visit New York and Hoboken again. This ticket seemed to me
to beckon me. I had money enough to come, if I would come cheaply. I
wrote to my father's business partner, and enclosed a note to his only
sister. She is Mrs. Mason. She asked me, coldly enough, to her house.
Old Mr. Grills always liked me,he offered me escort and passage as
far as Troy or Albany. I accepted his proposal, and you know the rest.
When I told Fausta my story, she declared I made it up as I went
along. When she believed it,as she does believe it now,she agreed
with me in declaring that it was not fit that two people thus joined
should ever be parted. Nor have we been, ever!
She made a hurried visit at Mrs. Mason's. She prepared there for her
wedding. On the 1st of November we went into that same church which was
our first home in New York; and that dear old raven-man made us
A PIECE OF POSSIBLE HISTORY.
[This essay was first published in the Monthly Religious
Boston, for October, 1851. One or another professor of
has since taken pains to tell me that it is impossible. But
they satisfy themselves whether Homer ever lived at all, I
hold to the note which I wrote to Miss Dryasdust's cousin,
printed originally at the end of the article, and which will
found there in this collection. The difficulties in the
are perhaps worse than those of chronology.]
A summer bivouac had collected together a little troop of soldiers
from Joppa, under the shelter of a grove, where they had spread their
sheep-skins, tethered their horses, and pitched a single tent. With the
carelessness of soldiers, they were chatting away the time till sleep
might come, and help them to to-morrow with its chances; perhaps of
fight, perhaps of another day of this camp indolence. Below the garden
slope where they were lounging, the rapid torrent of Kishon ran
brawling along. A full moon was rising above the rough edge of the
Eastern hills, and the whole scene was alive with the loveliness of an
As they talked together, the strains of a harp came borne down the
stream by the wind, mingling with the rippling of the brook.
The boys were right, said the captain of the little company. They
asked leave to go up the stream to spend their evening with the
Carmel-men; and said that they had there a harper, who would sing and
play for them.
Singing at night, and fighting in the morning! It is the true
soldier's life, said another.
Who have they there? asked a third.
One of those Ziklag-men, replied the chief. He came into camp a
few days ago, seems to be an old favorite of the king's, and is posted
with his men, by the old tomb on the edge of the hill. If you cross the
brook, he is not far from the Carmel post; and some of his young men
have made acquaintance there.
One is not a soldier for nothing. If we make enemies at sight, we
make friends at sight too.
Echish here says that the harper is a Jew.
I do not know that; that is the king's lookout. Their company came
up a week ago, were reviewed the day I was on guard at the outposts,
and they had this post I tell you of assigned to them. So the king is
satisfied; and, if he is, I am.
Jew or Gentile, Jehovah's man or Dagon's man, said one of the
younger soldiers, with a half-irreverent tone, I wish we had him here
to sing to us.
And to keep us awake, yawned another.
Or to keep us from thinking of to-morrow, said a third.
Can nobody sing here, or play, or tell an old-time story?
There was nobody. The only two soldiers of the post, who affected
musical skill, were the two who had gone up to the Carmelites' bivouac;
and the little company of Joppacatching louder notes and louder, as
the bard's inspiration carried him farther and farther awaycrept as
far up the stream as the limits of their station would permit; and lay,
without noise, to catch, as they best could, the rich tones of the
music as it swept down the valley.
Soothed by the sound, and by the moonlight, and by the summer
breeze, they were just in mood to welcome the first interruption which
broke the quiet of the night. It was the approach of one of their
company, who had been detached to Accho a day or two before; and who
came hurrying in to announce the speedy arrival of companions, for whom
he bespoke a welcome. Just as they were to leave Accho, he said, that
day, on their return to camp, an Ionian trading-vessel had entered
port. He and his fellow-soldiers had waited to help her moor, and had
been chatting with her seamen. They had told them of the chance of
battle to which they were returning; and two or three of the younger
Ionians, enchanted at the relief from the sea's imprisonment, had
begged them to let them volunteer in company with them. These men had
come up into the country with the soldiers, therefore; and he who had
broken the silence of the listeners to the distant serenade had hurried
on to tell his comrades that such visitors were on their way.
They soon appeared on foot, but hardly burdened by the light packs
A soldier's welcome soon made the Ionian sailors as much at home
with the men of the bivouac, as they had been through the day with the
detachment from the sea-board. A few minutes were enough to draw out
sheep-skins for them to lie upon, a skin of wine for their thirst, a
bunch of raisins and some oat-cakes for their hunger; a few minutes
more had told the news which each party asked from the other; and then
these sons of the sea and these war-bronzed Philistines were as much at
ease with each other as if they had served under the same sky for
We were listening to music, said the old chief, when you came up.
Some of our young men have gone up, indeed, to the picket yonder, to
hear the harper sing, whose voice you catch sometimes, when we are not
You find the Muses in the midst of arms, then, said one of the
Muses? said the old Philistine, laughing. That sounds like you
Greeks. Ah! sir, in our rocks here we have few enough Muses, but those
who carry these lances, or teach us how to trade with the islands for
That's not quite fair, cried another. The youngsters who are gone
sing well; and one of them has a harp I should be glad you should see.
He made it himself from a gnarled olive-root. And he turned to look
You'll not find it in the tent: the boy took it with him. They
hoped the Ziklag minstrel might ask them to sing, I suppose.
A harp of olive-wood, said the Ionian, seems Muse-born and
And, as he spoke, one of the new-comers of the Philistines leaned
over, and whispered to the chief: He is a bard himself, and we made
him promise to sing to us. I brought his harp with me that he might
cheer up our bivouac. Pray, do you ask him.
The old chief needed no persuasion; and the eyes of the whole force
brightened as they found they had a minstrel of their own now, when
the old man pressed the young Ionian courteously to let them hear him:
I told you, sir, that we had no Muses of our own; but we welcome all
the more those who come to us from over seas.
Homer smiled; for it was Homer whom he spoke to,Homer still in the
freshness of his unblinded youth. He took the harp which the young
Philistine handed to him, thrummed upon its chords, and as he tuned
them said: I have no harp of olive-wood; we cut this out, it was years
ago, from an old oleander in the marshes behind Colophon. What will you
The poet chooses for himself, said the courtly old captain.
Let me sing you, then, of the Olive Harp; and he struck the
chords in a gentle, quieting harmony, which attuned itself to his own
spirit, pleased as he was to find music and harmony and the olive of
peace in the midst of the rough bivouac, where he had come up to look
for war. But he was destined to be disappointed. Just as his prelude
closed, one of the young soldiers turned upon his elbow, and whispered
contemptuously to his neighbor: Always olives, always peace
: that's all your music's good for!
The boy spoke too loud, and Homer caught the discontented tone and
words with an ear quicker than the speaker had given him credit for. He
ended the prelude with a sudden crash on the strings, and said shortly,
And what is better to sing of than the olive?
The more courteous Philistines looked sternly on the young soldier;
but he had gone too far to be frightened, and he flashed back: War is
better. My broadsword is better. If I could sing, I would sing to your
Ares; we call him Mars!
Homer smiled gravely. Let it be so, said he; and, in a lower tone,
to the captain, who was troubled at the breach of courtesy, he added,
Let the boy see what war and Mars are for.
He struck another prelude and began. Then was it that Homer composed
his Hymn to Mars. In wild measure, and impetuous, he swept along
through the list of Mars's titles and attributes; then his key changed,
and his hearers listened more intently, more solemnly, as in a graver
strain, with slower music, and an almost awed dignity of voice, the
bard went on:
Helper of mortals, hear!
As thy fires give
The present boldnesses that strive
In youth for honor;
So would I likewise wish to have the power
To keep off from my head thy bitter hour,
And quench the false fire of my soul's low kind,
By the fit ruling of my highest mind!
Control that sting of wealth
That stirs me on still to the horrid scath
Of hideous battle!
Do thou, O ever blessed! give me still
Presence of mind to put in act my will,
Whate'er the occasion be;
And so to live, unforced by any fear,
Beneath those laws of peace, that never are
Affected with pollutions popular
Of unjust injury,
As to bear safe the burden of hard fates,
Of foes inflexive, and inhuman hates!
The tones died away; the company was hushed for a moment; and the
old chief then said gravely to his petulant follower, That is what
men fight for, boy. But the boy did not need the counsel. Homer's
manner, his voice, the music itself, the spirit of the song, as much as
the words, had overcome him; and the boasting soldier was covering his
tears with his hands.
Homer felt at once (the prince of gentlemen he) that the little
outbreak, and the rebuke of it, had jarred the ease of their unexpected
meeting. How blessed is the presence of mind with which the musician of
real genius passes from song to song, whate'er the occasion be! With
the ease of genius he changed the tone of his melody again, and sang
his own hymn, To Earth, the Mother of all.
The triumphant strain is one which harmonizes with every sentiment;
and he commanded instantly the rapt attention of the circle. So
engrossed was he, that he did not seem to observe, as he sang, an
addition to their company of some soldiers from above in the valley,
just as he entered on the passage:
Happy, then, are they
Whom thou, O great in reverence!
Are bent to honor. They shall all things find
In all abundance! All their pastures yield
Herds in all plenty. All their roofs are filled
With rich possessions.
High happiness and wealth attend them,
While, with laws well-ordered, they
Cities of happy households sway;
And their sons exult in the pleasure of youth,
And their daughters dance with the flower-decked girls,
Who play among the flowers of summer!
Such are the honors thy full hands divide;
Mother of Gods and starry Heaven's bride!
A buzz of pleasure and a smile ran round the circle, in which the
new-comers joined. They were the soldiers who had been to hear and join
the music at the Carmel-men's post. The tones of Homer's harp had
tempted them to return; and they had brought with them the Hebrew
minstrel, to whom they had been listening. It was the outlaw David, of
David had listened to Homer more intently than any one; and, as the
pleased applause subsided, the eyes of the circle gathered upon him,
and the manner of all showed that they expected him, in
minstrel-fashion, to take up the same strain.
He accepted the implied invitation, played a short prelude, and
taking Homer's suggestion of topic, sang in parallel with it:
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God!
Upon psaltery and harp will I sing praise to thee.
Thou art He that giveth salvation to kings,
That delivereth David, thy servant, from the sword.
Rid me and save me from those who speak vanity,
Whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood,
That our sons may be as plants in fresh youth;
That our daughters may be as corner-stones,
The polished stones of our palaces;
That our garners may be full with all manner of store;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
That there may be no cry nor complaint in our streets.
Happy is the people that is in such a case;
Yea, happy is the people whose God is the Lord!
The melody was triumphant; and the enthusiastic manner yet more so.
The Philistines listened delighted,too careless of religion, they,
indeed not to be catholic in presence of religious enthusiasm; and
Homer wore the exalted expression which his face seldom wore. For the
first time since his childhood, Homer felt that he was not alone in the
Who shall venture to tell what passed between the two minstrels,
when Homer, leaving his couch, crossed the circle at once, flung
himself on the ground by David's side, gave him his hand; when they
looked each other in the face, and sank down into the rapid murmuring
of talk, which constant gesture illustrated, but did not fully explain
to the rough men around them? They respected the poets' colloquy for a
while; but then, eager again to hear one harp or the other, they
persuaded one of the Ionian sailors to ask Homer again to sing to them.
It was hard to persuade Homer. He shook his head, and turned back to
What should I sing? he said.
They did not enter into his notion: hearers will not always. And so,
taking his question literally, they replied, Sing? Sing us of the
snow-storm, the storm of stones, of which you sang at noon.
Poor Homer! It was easier to do it than to be pressed to do it; and
he struck his harp again:
It was as when, some wintry day, to men
Jove would, in might, his sharp artillery show;
He wills his winds to sleep, and over plain
And mountains pours, in countless flakes, his snow.
Deep it conceals the rocky cliffs and hills,
Then covers all the blooming meadows o'er,
All the rich monuments of mortals' skill,
All ports and rocks that break the ocean-shore.
Rock, haven, plain, are buried by its fall;
But the near wave, unchanging, drinks it all.
So while these stony tempests veil the skies,
While this on Greeks, and that on Trojans flies,
The walls unchanged above the clamor rise.
The men looked round upon David, whose expression, as he returned
the glance, showed that he had enjoyed the fragment as well as they.
But when they still looked expectant, he did not decline the unspoken
invitation; but, taking Homer's harp, sang, as if the words were
familiar to him:
He giveth snow like wool;
He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes;
He casteth forth his ice like morsels;
Who can stand before his cold?
He sendeth forth his word, and melteth them;
He causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow.
Always this 'He,' said one of the young soldiers to
Yes, he replied; and it was so in the beginning of the evening,
when we were above there.
There is a strange difference between the two men, though the one
plays as well as the other, and the Greek speaks with quite as little
foreign accent as the Jew, and their subjects are the same.
Yes, said the young Philistine harper; if the Greek should sing
one of the Hebrew's songs, you would know he had borrowed it, in a
And so, if it were the other way.
Of course, said their old captain, joining in this conversation.
Homer, if you call him so, sings the thing made: David sings the
maker. Or, rather, Homer thinks of the thing made: David thinks of the
maker, whatever they sing.
I was going to say that Homer would sing of cities; and David, of
the life in them.
It is not what they say so much, as the way they look at it. The
Greek sees the outside,the beauty of the thing; the Hebrew
For David and his new friend had been talking too. Homer had told
him of the storm at sea they met a few days before; and David, I think,
had spoken of a mountain-tornado, as he met it years before. In the
excitement of his narrative he struck the harp, which was still in his
hand, and sung:
Then the earth shook and trembled,
The foundations of the hills moved and were shaken,
Because He was wroth;
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
And fire out of his mouth devoured;
It burned with living coal.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down,
And darkness was under his feet;
He rode upon a cherub and did fly,
Yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his resting-place,
His pavilion were dark waters and clouds of the skies;
At the brightness before him his clouds passed by,
Hail-stones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
And the highest gave his voice;
Hail-stones and coals of fire.
Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them,
And he shot out his lightnings, and discomfited them.
Then the channels of waters were seen,
And the foundations of the world were made known,
At thy rebuke, O Lord!
At the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.
He sent from above, he took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
Mine were but a few verses, said Homer. I am more than repaid by
yours. Imagine Neptune, our sea-god, looking on a battle:
There he sat high, retired from the seas;
There looked with pity on his Grecians beaten;
There burned with rage at the god-king who slew them.
Then he rushed forward from the rugged mountains,
He bent the forests also as he came down,
And the high cliffs shook under his feet.
Three times he trod upon them,
And with his fourth step reached the home he sought for.
There was his palace, in the deep waters of the seas,
Shining with gold, and builded forever.
There he yoked him his swift-footed horses;
Their hoofs are brazen, and their manes are golden.
He binds them with golden thongs,
He seizes his golden goad,
He mounts upon his chariot, and doth fly:
Yes! he drives them forth into the waves!
And the whales rise under him from the depths,
For they know he is their king;
And the glad sea is divided into parts,
That his steeds may fly along quickly;
And his brazen axle passes dry between the waves,
So, bounding fast, they bring him to his Grecians.
And the poets sank again into talk.
You see it, said the old Philistine. He paints the picture. David
sings the life of the picture.
Yes: Homer sees what he sings; David feels his song.
Homer's is perfect in its description.
Yes; but for life, for the soul of the description, you need the
Homer might be blind; and, with that fancy and word-painting power
of his, and his study of everything new, he would paint pictures as he
sang, though unseen.
Yes, said another; but David And he paused.
But David? asked the chief.
I was going to say that he might be blind, deaf, imprisoned,
exiled, sick, or all alone, and that yet he would never know he was
alone; feeling as he does, as he must to sing so, of the presence of
this Lord of his!
He does not think of a snow-flake, but as sent from him.
While the snow-flake is reminding Homer of that hard, worrying,
slinging work of battle. He must have seen fight himself.
They were hushed again. For, though they no longer dared ask the
poets to sing to them,so engrossed were they in each other's
society,the soldiers were hardly losers from this modest courtesy.
For the poets were constantly arousing each other to strike a chord, or
to sing some snatch of remembered song. And so it was that Homer,
àpropos of I do not know what, sang in a sad tone:
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground:
Another race the following spring supplies;
They fall successive, and successive rise.
So generations in their course decay,
So flourish these, when those have passed away.
David waited for a change in the strain; but Homer stopped. The
young Hebrew asked him to go on; but Homer said that the passage which
followed was mere narrative, from a long narrative poem. David looked
surprised that his new friend had not pointed a moral as he sang; and
said simply, We sing that thus:
As for man, his days are as grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth;
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone,
And the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord
Is from everlasting to everlasting
Of them that fear him;
And his righteousness
Unto children's children,
To such as keep his covenant,
As remember his commandments to do them!
Homer's face flashed delighted. I, like you, 'keep his covenant,'
he cried; and then without a lyre, for his was still in David's hands,
he sang, in clear tone:
Thou bid'st me birds obey;I scorn their flight,
If on the left they rise, or on the right!
Heed them who may, the will of Jove I own,
Who mortals and immortals rules alone!
That is more in David's key, said the young Philistine harper,
seeing that the poets had fallen to talk together again. But how would
it sound in one of the hymns on one of our feast-days?
Who mortals and immortals rules alone.
How, indeed? cried one of his young companions. There would be
more sense in what the priests say and sing, if each were not
quarrelling for his own,Dagon against Astarte, and Astarte against
The old captain bent over, that the poets might not hear him, and
whispered: There it is that the Hebrews have so much more heart than
we in such things. Miserable fellows though they are, so many of them,
yet, when I have gone through their whole land with the caravans, the
chances have been that any serious-minded man spoke of no God but this
'He' of David's.
What is his name?
They do not know themselves, I believe.
Well, as I said an hour ago, God's man or Dagon's man,for those
are good names enough for me,I care little; but I should like to sing
as that young fellow does.
My boy, said the old man, have not you heard him enough to see
that it is not he that sings, near as much as this love of his
for a Spirit he does not name? It is that spirited heart of his that
You sing like him? Find his life, boy; and perhaps it may
sing for you.
We should be more manly men, if he sang to us every night.
Or if the other did, said an Ionian sailor.
Yes, said the chief. And yet, I think, if your countryman sang
every night to me, he would make me want the other. Whether David's
singing would send me to his, I do not feel sure. But how silly to
compare them! As well compare the temple in Accho with the roar of a
Or the point of my lance with the flight of an eagle. The men are
in two worlds.
O, no! that is saying too much. You said that one could paint
Into which the other puts life. Yes, I did say so. We are
fortunate that we have them together.
For this man sings of men quite as well as the other does; and to
have the other sing of God
Why, it completes the song. Between them they bring the two
He bows the heavens, and comes down, said the boy of the
olive-harp, trying to hum David's air.
Let us ask them
And just then there rang along the valley the sound of a distant
conch-shell. The soldiers groaned, roused up, and each looked for his
own side-arms and his own skin.
But the poets talked on unheeding.
The old chief knocked down a stack of lances; but the crash did not
rouse them. He was obliged himself to interrupt their eager converse.
I am sorry to break in; but the night-horn has sounded to rest, and
the guard will be round to inspect the posts. I am sorry to hurry you
away, sir, he said to David.
David thanked him courteously.
Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest, said Homer, with a
We will all meet to-morrow. And may to-night's dreams be good
If we dream at all, said Homer again:
Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
And asks no omen but his country's cause.
They were all standing together, as he made this careless reply to
the captain; and one of the young men drew him aside, and whispered
that David was in arms against his country.
Homer was troubled that he had spoken as he did. But the young Jew
looked little as if he needed sympathy. He saw the doubt and regret
which hung over their kindly faces; told them not to fear for him;
singing, as he bade them good night, and with one of the Carmel-men
walked home to his own outpost:
The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion,
The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the bear,
He will deliver me.
And he smiled to think how his Carmelite companion would start, if
he knew when first he used those words.
So they parted, as men who should meet on the morrow.
But God disposes.
David had left to-morrow's dangers for to-morrow to care for. It
seemed to promise him that he must be in arms against Saul. But, unlike
us in our eagerness to anticipate our conflicts of duty, David
And the Lord delivered him. While they were singing by the
brookside, the proud noblemen of the Philistine army had forced an
interview with their king; and, in true native Philistine arrogance,
insisted that this Hebrew and his men should be sent away.
With the light of morning the king sent for the minstrel, and
courteously dismissed him, because the princes of the Philistines have
said, 'He shall not go up with us to the battle.'
So David marched his men to Ziklag.
And David and Homer never met on earth again.
NOTE.This will be a proper place to print the following note,
which I was obliged to write to a second cousin of Miss
after she had read the MS. of the article above:
DEAR MADAM:I thank you for your kind suggestion, in
paper, that it involves a piece of impossible history. You
me, that, 'according to the nomenclatured formulas and
analogies of Professor Gouraud, of never-to-be-forgotten
NEEDLE is less useful for curing a DEAF HEAD, than for putting
ear-rings into a Miss's lily-ears; and that this shows
second king of Judah, named David (or Deaf-head) began to
1055 B.C., and died 1040 B.C.'; and further, that, according
same authority, 'Homer flourished when the Greeks were
his POETRY'; which, being interpreted, signifies that he
in 914 B.C., and, consequently, could have had no more to do
David than to plant ivy over his grave, in some of his voyages
I thank you for the suggestion. I knew the unforgetting
and I do not doubt that he remembered David and Homer as his
friends. But, of course, to such a memory, a century or two
easily slip aside.
Now, did you look up Clement? And did you not forget the
Arundelian Marbles? For, if you will take the long estimates,
will find that some folks think Homer lived as long ago as the
1150, and some that it was as 'short ago' as 850. And some set
David as long ago as 1170, and some bring him down to a
fifty years later. These are the long measures and the short
measures. So the long and short of it is, that you can keep
poets 320 years apart, while I have rather more than a century
which I can select any night of, for a bivouac scene, in which
bring them together. Believe me, my dear Miss D., always
Confess that you forgot the Arundelian Marbles!
 After Chapman.
 After Cowper and Pope. Long after!
 Iliad, vi.
 Iliad, vi.POPE.
 Iliad, xii., after Sotheby.
THE SOUTH AMERICAN EDITOR
[I am tempted to include this little burlesque in this
simply in memory of the Boston Miscellany, the magazine in
was published, which won for itself a brilliant reputation in
short career. There was not a large staff of writers for the
Miscellany, but many of the names then unknown have since won
distinction. To quote them in the accidental order in which I
them in the table of contents, where they are arranged by the
alphabetical order of the several papers, the Miscellany
contributors were Edward Everett, George Lunt, Nathan Hale,
Nathaniel Hawthorne, N. P. Willis, W. W. Story, J. R. Lowell,
Emerson, Alexander H. Everett, Sarah P. Hale, W. A. Jones,
Cornelius Matthews, Mrs. Kirkland, J. W. Ingraham, H. T.
Evart A. Duyckinck, Francis A. Durivage, Mrs. J. Webb, Charles
Powell, Charles W. Storey, Lucretia P. Hale, Charles F.
William E. Channing, Charles Lanman, G. H. Hastings, and
B. Barrett, now Mrs. Browning, some of whose earliest poems
published in this magazine. These are all the contributors
names appear, excepting the writers of a few verses. They
nine tenths of the contents of the magazine. The two Everetts,
Lowell, William Story, and my brother, who was the editor,
principal contributors. And I am tempted to say that I think
all put some of their best work upon this magazine.
The misfortune of the Miscellany, I suppose, was that its
publishers had no capital. They had to resort to the claptraps
fashion-plates and other engravings, in the hope of forcing an
immediate sale upon persons who, caring for fashion-plates,
care for the literary character of the enterprise. It gave a
happy escape-pipe, however, for the high spirits of some of us
had just left college, and, through my brother's kindness, I
sometimes permitted to contribute to the journal. In memory of
those early days of authorship, I select The South American
Editor to publish here. For the benefit of the New York
I will state that the story is not true. And lest any should
complain that it advocates elopements, I beg to observe, in
seriousness of mature life, that the proposed elopement did
succeed, and that the parties who proposed it are represented
having no guardians or keepers but themselves. The article was
first published in 1842.]
It is now more than six years since I received the following letter
from an old classmate of mine, Harry Barry, who had been studying
divinity, and was then a settled minister. It was an answer to a
communication I had sent him the week before.
TOPSHAM, R. I., January 22, 1836.
To say the truth, my dear George, your letter startled me a
little. To think that I, scarcely six months settled in the
profession, should be admitted so far into the romance of it
unite forever two young runaways like yourself and Miss Julia
What's-her-name is at least curious. But, to give you your
have made a strong case of it, and as Miss (what is her
have not yours at hand) is not under any real guardianship, I
not see but I am perfectly justified in complying with your
odd request. You see I make a conscientious matter of it.
Write me word when it shall be, and I will be sure to be
Jane is of course in my counsels, and she will make your
wife feel as much at home as in her father's parlor. Trust us
I met her last week
But the rest of the letter has nothing to do with the story.
The elopement alluded to in it (if the little transaction deserves
so high-sounding a name) was, in every sense of the words, strictly
necessary. Julia Wentworth had resided for years with her grandfather,
a pragmatic old gentleman, to whom from pure affection she had long
yielded an obedience which he would have had no right to extort, and
which he was sometimes disposed to abuse. He had declared in the most
ingenuous manner that she should never marry with his consent any man
of less fortune than her own would be; and on his consent rested the
prospect of her inheriting his property.
Julia and I, however, care little for money now, we cared still less
then; and her own little property and my own little salary made us
esteem ourselves entirely independent of the old gentleman and his
His intention respecting the poor girl's marriage was thundered in
her ears at least once a week, so that we both knew that I had no need
to make court to him; indeed, I had never seen him, always having met
her in walking, or in the evening at party, spectacle, concert, or
lecture. He had lately been more domineering than usual, and I had but
little difficulty in persuading the dear girl to let me write to Harry
Barry, to make the arrangement to which he assented in the letter which
I have copied above. The reasoning which I pressed upon her is obvious.
We loved each other,the old gentleman could not help that; and as he
managed to make us very uncomfortable in Boston, in the existing state
of affairs, we naturally came to the conclusion that the sooner we
changed that state the better. Our excursion to Topsham would, we
supposed, prove a very disagreeable business to him; but we knew it
would result very agreeably for us, and so, though with a good deal of
maidenly compunction and granddaughterly compassion on Julia's part, we
I have said that I had no fortune to enable me to come near the old
gentleman's beau ideal of a grand-son-in-law. I was then living
on my salary as a South American editor. Does the reader know what that
is? The South American editor of a newspaper has the uncontrolled
charge of its South American news. Read any important commercial paper
for a month, and at the end of it tell me if you have any clear
conception of the condition of the various republics (!) of South
America. If you have, it is because that journal employs an individual
for the sole purpose of setting them in the clearest order before you,
and that individual is its South American editor. The general-news
editor of the paper will keep the run of all the details of all the
histories of all the rest of the world, but he hardly attempts this in
addition. If he does, he fails. It is therefore necessary, from the
most cogent reasons, that any American news office which has a strong
regard for the consistency or truth of its South American intelligence
shall employ some person competent to take the charge which I held in
the establishment of the Boston Daily Argus at the time of which I am
speaking. Before that enterprising paper was sold, I was its South
American man; this being my only employment, excepting that by a
special agreement, in consideration of an addition to my salary, I was
engaged to attend to the news from St. Domingo, Guatemala, and
Monday afternoon, just a fortnight after I received Harry Barry's
letter, in taking my afternoon walk round the Common, I happened to
meet Julia. I always walked in the same direction when I was alone.
Julia always preferred to go the other way; it was the only thing in
which we differed. When we were together I always went her way of
course, and liked it best.
I had told her, long before, all about Harry's letter, and the dear
girl in this walk, after a little blushing and sighing, and half
faltering and half hesitating and feeling uncertain, yielded to my last
and warmest persuasions, and agreed to go to Mrs. Pollexfen's ball that
evening, ready to leave it with me in my buggy sleigh, for a three
hours' ride to Topsham, where we both knew Harry would be waiting for
us. I do not know how she managed to get through tea that evening with
her lion of a grandfather, for she could not then cover her tearful
eyes with a veil as she did through the last half of our walk together.
I know that I got through my tea and such like ordinary affairs by
skipping them. I made all my arrangements, bade Gage and Streeter be
ready with the sleigh at my lodgings (fortunately only two doors from
Mrs. Pollexfen's) at half-past nine o'clock, and was the highest
spirited of men when, on returning to those lodgings myself at eight
o'clock, I found the following missives from the Argus office, which
had been accumulating through the afternoon.
4 o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:The southern mail, just in, brings Buenos Ayres
six days later, by the Medora, at Baltimore.
In haste, J. C.
(Mr. C. was the gentleman who opened the newspapers, and arranged
the deaths and marriages; he always kindly sent for me when I was out
of the way.)
5 o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:The U. S. ship Preble is in at Portsmouth; latest
from Valparaiso. The mail is not sorted.
Yours, J. D.
(Mr. D. arranged the ship news for the Argus.)
6 o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:I boarded, this morning, off Cape Cod, the
from Carthagena, and have a week's later papers.
Truly yours, J. E.
(Mr. E. was the enterprising commodore of our news-boats.)
6¼ o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:I have just opened accidentally the enclosed
from our correspondent at Panama. You will see that it bears a
Orleans post-mark. I hope it may prove exclusive.
Yours, J. F.
(Mr. F. was general editor of the Argus.)
6½ o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:A seaman, who appears to be an intelligent man, has
arrived this morning at New Bedford, and says he has later
the rebellion in Ecuador than any published. The Rosina (his
vessel) brought no papers. I bade him call at your room at
o'clock, which he promised to do.
Truly yours, J. G.
(Mr. G. was clerk in the Argus counting-room.)
7½ o'clock, P. M.
DEAR SIR:The papers by the Ville de Lyon, from Havre, which
have just received, mention the reported escape of M. Bonpland
Paraguay, the presumed death of Dr. Francia, the probable
of the government, the possible establishment of a republic,
great deal more than I understand in the least.
These papers had not come to hand when I wrote you this
I have left them on your desk at the office.
In haste, J. F.
I was taken all aback by this mass of odd-looking little notes. I
had spent the afternoon in drilling Singleton, the kindest of friends,
as to what he should do in any probable contingency of news of the next
forty-eight hours, for I did not intend to be absent on a wedding tour
even longer than that time; but I felt that Singleton was entirely
unequal to such a storm of intelligence as this; and, as I hurried down
to the office, my chief sensation was that of gratitude that the cloud
had broken before I was out of the way; for I knew I could do a great
deal in an hour, and I had faith that I might slur over my digest as
quickly as possible, and be at Mrs. Pollexfen's within the time
I rushed into the office in that state of zeal in which a man may do
anything in almost no time. But first, I had to go into the
conversation-room, and get the oral news from my sailor; then Mr. H.,
from one of the little news-boats, came to me in high glee, with some
Venezuela Gazettes, which he had just extorted from a skipper, who,
with great plausibility, told him that he knew his vessel had brought
no news, for she never had before. (N.B. In this instance she was the
only vessel to sail, after a three months' blockade.) And then I had
handed to me by Mr. J., one of the commercial gentlemen, a private
letter from Rio Janeiro, which had been lent him. After these delays,
with full materials, I sprang to workread, read, read; wonder,
wonder, wonder; guess, guess, guess; scratch, scratch, scratch; and
scribble, scribble, scribble, make the only transcript I can give of
the operations which followed. At first, several of the other gentlemen
in the room sat around me; but soon Mr. C., having settled the deaths
and marriages, and the police and municipal reporters immediately after
him, screwed out their lamps and went home; then the editor himself,
then the legislative reporters, then the commercial editors, then the
ship-news conductor, and left me alone.
I envied them that they got through so much earlier than usual, but
scratched on, only interrupted by the compositors coming in for the
pages of my copy as I finished them; and finally, having made my last
translation from the last Boletin Extraordinario, sprang up,
shouting, Now for Mrs. P.'s, and looked at my watch. It was half past
one! I thought of course it had stopped,no; and my last manuscript
page was numbered twenty-eight! Had I been writing there five hours?
Reader, when you are an editor, with a continent's explosions to
describe, you will understand how one may be unconscious of the passage
I walked home, sad at heart. There was no light in all Mr.
Wentworth's house; there was none in any of Mrs. Pollexfen's
windows; and the last carriage of her last relation had left her
door. I stumbled up stairs in the dark, and threw myself on my bed.
What should I say, what could I say, to Julia? Thus pondering, I fell
If I were writing a novel, I should say that, at a late hour the
next day, I listlessly drew aside the azure curtains of my couch, and
languidly rang a silver bell which stood on my dressing-table, and
received from a page dressed in an Oriental costume the notes and
letters which had been left for me since morning, and the newspapers of
I am not writing a novel.
The next morning, about ten o'clock, I arose and went down to
breakfast. As I sat at the littered table which every one else had
left, dreading to attack my cold coffee and toast, I caught sight of
the morning papers, and received some little consolation from them.
There was the Argus with its three columns and a half of Important
from South America, while none of the other papers had a square of any
intelligibility excepting what they had copied from the Argus the day
before. I felt a grim smile creeping over my face as I observed this
signal triumph of our paper, and ventured to take a sip of the black
broth as I glanced down my own article to see if there were any glaring
misprints in it. Before I took the second sip, however, a loud peal at
the door-bell announced a stranger, and, immediately after, a note was
brought in for me which I knew was in Julia's handwriting.
DEAR GEORGE:Don't be angry; it was not my fault, really it
not. Grandfather came home just as I was leaving last night,
was so angry, and said I should not go to the party, and I had
sit with him all the evening. Do write to me or let me see
What a load that note took off my mind! And yet, what must the poor
girl have suffered! Could the old man suspect? Singleton was true to me
as steel, I knew. He could not have whispered,nor Barry; but that
Jane, Barry's wife. O woman! woman! what newsmongers they are! Here
were Julia and I, made miserable for life, perhaps, merely that Jane
Barry might have a good story to tell. What right had Barry to a wife?
Not four years out of college, and hardly settled in his parish. To
think that I had been fool enough to trust even him with the
particulars of my all-important secret! But here I was again
interrupted, coffee-cup still full, toast still untasted, by another
SIR:I wish to see you this morning. Will you call upon me,
appoint a time and place where I may meet you?
Yours, JEDEDIAH WENTWORTH.
Send word by the bearer.
Tell Mr. Wentworth I will call at his house at eleven o'clock.
The cat was certainly out; Mrs. Barry had told, or some one else
had, who I did not know and hardly cared. The scene was to come now,
and I was almost glad of it. Poor Julia! what a time she must have had
with the old bear!
At eleven o'clock I was ushered into Mr. Wentworth's sitting-room.
Julia was there, but before I had even spoken to her the old gentleman
came bustling across the room, with his Mr. Hackmatack, I suppose;
and then followed a formal introduction between me and her, which both
of us bore with the most praiseworthy fortitude and composure, neither
evincing, even by a glance, that we had ever seen or heard of each
other before. Here was another weight off my mind and Julia's. I had
wronged poor Mrs. Barry. The secret was not outwhat could he want? It
very soon appeared.
After a minute's discussion of the weather, the snow, and the
thermometer, the old gentleman drew up his chair to mine, with I
think, sir, you are connected with the Argus office?
Yes, sir; I am its South American editor.
Yes! roared the old man, in a sudden rage. Sir, I wish South
America was sunk in the depths of the sea!
I am sure I do, sir, replied I, glancing at Julia, who did not,
however, understand me. I had not fully passed out of my last night's
My sympathizing zeal soothed the old gentleman a little, and he said
more coolly, in an undertone: Well, sir, you are well informed, no
doubt; tell me, in strict secrecy, sir, between you and me, do youdo
you place full creditentire confidence in the intelligence in this
Excuse me, sir; what paper do you allude to? Ah! the Argus, I see.
Certainly, sir; I have not the least doubt that it is perfectly
No doubt, sir! Do you mean to insult me?Julia, I told you so; he
says there is no doubt it is true. Tell me again there is some mistake,
will you? The poor girl had been trying to soothe him with the
constant remark of uninformed people, that the newspapers are always in
the wrong. He turned from her, and rose from his chair in a positive
rage. She was half crying. I never saw her more distressed. What did
all this mean? Were one, two, or all of us crazy?
It soon appeared. After pacing the length of the room once or twice,
Wentworth came up to me again, and, attempting to appear cool, said
between his closed lips: Do you say you have no doubt that Rio Janeiro
is strictly blockaded?
Not the slightest in the world, said I, trying to seem
Not the slightest, sir? What are you so impudent and cool about it
for? Do you think you are talking of the opening of a rose-bud or the
death of a mosquito? Have you no sympathy with the sufferings of a
fellow-creature? Why, sir! and the old man's teeth chattered as he
spoke, I have five cargoes of flour on their way to Rio, and their
captains willDamn it, sir, I shall lose the whole venture.
The secret was out. The old fool had been sending flour to Rio,
knowing as little of the state of affairs there as a child.
And do you really mean, sir, continued the old man, that there is
an embargo in force in Monte Video?
Certainly, sir; but I'm very sorry for it.
Sorry for it! of course you are;and that all foreigners are sent
out of Buenos Ayres?
Undoubtedly, sir. I wish
Who does not wish so? Why, sir, my corresponding friends there are
half across the sea by this time. I wish Rosas was in and that the
Indians have risen near Maranham?
Undoubtedly! I tell you, sir, I have two vessels waiting for
cargoes of India-rubbers there, under a blunder-headed captain, who
will do nothing he has not been bidden to,obey his orders if he
breaks his owners. You smile, sir? Why, I should have made thirty
thousand dollars this winter, sir, by my India-rubbers, if we had not
had this devilish mild, open weather, you and Miss Julia there have
been praising so. But next winter must be a severe one, and with those
India-rubbers I should have madeBut now those Indians,pshaw! And a
revolution in Chili?
No trade there! And in Venezuela?
Yes, sir; yes, sir; yes, sir; yes, sir! Sir, I am ruined. Say 'Yes,
sir,' to that. I have thirteen vessels at this moment in the South
American trade, sir; say 'Yes, sir,' to that. Half of them will be
taken by the piratical scoundrels; say 'Yes, sir,' to that. Their
insurance will not cover them; say 'Yes, sir,' to that. The other half
will forfeit their cargoes, or sell them for next to nothing; say 'Yes,
sir,' to that. I tell you I am a ruined man, and I wish the South
America, and your daily Argus, and you
Here the old gentleman's old-school breeding got the better of his
rage, and he sank down in his arm-chair, and, bursting into tears,
said: Excuse me, sir,excuse me, sir,I am too warm.
We all sat for a few moments in silence, but then I took my share of
the conversation. I wish you could have seen the old man's face light
up little by little, as I showed him that to a person who understood
the politics and condition of the mercurial country with which he had
ignorantly attempted to trade, his condition was not near so bad as he
thought it; that though one port was blockaded, another was opened;
that though one revolution thwarted him, a few weeks would show another
which would favor him; that the goods which, as he saw, would be
worthless at the port to which he had sent them, would be valuable
elsewhere; that the vessels which would fail in securing the cargoes he
had ordered could secure others; that the very revolutions and wars
which troubled him would require in some instances large government
purchases, perhaps large contracts for freight, possibly even for
passage,his vessels might be used for transports; that the very
excitement of some districts might be made to turn to our advantage;
that, in short, there were a thousand chances open to him which skilful
agents could readily improve. I reminded him that a quick run in a
clipper schooner could carry directions to half these skippers of his,
to whom, with an infatuation which I could not and cannot conceive, he
had left no discretion, and who indeed were to be pardoned if they
could use none, seeing the tumult as they did with only half an eye. I
talked to him for half an hour, and went into details to show that my
plans were not impracticable. The old gentleman grew brighter and
brighter, and Julia, as I saw, whenever I stole a glance across the
room, felt happier and happier. The poor girl had had a hard time since
he had first heard this news whispered the evening before.
His difficulties were not over, however; for when I talked to him of
the necessity of sending out one or two skilful agents immediately to
take the personal superintendence of his complicated affairs, the old
man sighed, and said he had no skilful agents to send.
With his customary suspicion, he had no partners, and had never
intrusted his clerks with any general insight into his business.
Besides, he considered them all, like his captains, blunder-headed to
the last degree. I believe it was an idea of Julia's, communicated to
me in an eager, entreating glance, which induced me to propose myself
as one of these confidential agents, and to be responsible for the
other. I thought, as I spoke, of Singleton, to whom I knew I could
explain my plans in full, and whose mercantile experience would make
him a valuable coadjutor. The old gentleman accepted my offer eagerly.
I told him that twenty-four hours were all I wanted to prepare myself.
He immediately took measures for the charter of two little clipper
schooners which lay in port then; and before two days were past,
Singleton and I were on our voyage to South America. Imagine, if you
can, how these two days were spent. Then, as now, I could prepare for
any journey in twenty minutes, and of course I had no little time at my
disposal for last words with Mr. andMiss Wentworth. How I won on the
old gentleman's heart in those two days! How he praised me to Julia,
and then, in as natural affection, how he praised her to me! And how
Julia and I smiled through our tears, when, in the last good-bys, he
said he was too old to write or read any but business letters, and
charged me and her to keep up a close correspondence, which on one side
should tell all that I saw and did, and on the other hand remind me of
all at home.
I have neither time nor room to give the details of that South
American expedition. I have no right to. There were revolutions
accomplished in those days without any object in the world's eyes; and,
even in mine, only serving to sell certain cargoes of long cloths and
flour. The details of those outbreaks now told would make some
patriotic presidents tremble in their seats; and I have no right to
betray confidence at whatever rate I purchased it. Usually, indeed, my
feats and Singleton's were only obtaining the best information and
communicating the most speedy instructions to Mr. Wentworth's vessels,
which were made to move from port to port with a rapidity and intricacy
of movement which none besides us two understood in the least. It was
in that expedition that I travelled almost alone across the continent.
I was, I think, the first white man who ever passed through the
mountain path of Xamaulipas, now so famous in all the Chilian
picturesque annuals. I was carrying directions for some vessels which
had gone round the Cape; and what a time Burrows and Wheatland and I
had a week after, when we rode into the public square of Valparaiso
shouting, Muera la Constitucion,Viva Libertad! by our own
unassisted lungs actually raising a rebellion, and, which was of more
importance, a prohibition on foreign flour, while Bahamarra and his
army were within a hundred miles of us. How those vessels came up the
harbor, and how we unloaded them, knowing that at best our revolution
could only last five days! But as I said, I must be careful, or I shall
be telling other people's secrets.
The result of that expedition was that those thirteen vessels all
made good outward voyages, and all but one or two eventually made
profitable home voyages. When I returned home, the old gentleman
received me with open arms. I had rescued, as he said, a large share of
that fortune which he valued so highly. To say the truth, I felt and
feel that he had planned his voyages so blindly, that, without some
wiser head than his, they would never have resulted in anything. They
were his last, as they were almost his first, South American ventures.
He returned to his old course of more methodical trading for the few
remaining years of his life. They were, thank Heaven, the only taste of
mercantile business which I ever had. Living as I did, in the very
sunshine of Mr. Wentworth's favor, I went through the amusing farce of
paying my addresses to Julia in approved form, and in due time received
the old gentleman's cordial assent to our union, and his blessing upon
it. In six months after my return, we were married; the old man as
happy as a king. He would have preferred a little that the ceremony
should have been performed by Mr. B, his friend and pastor, but
readily assented to my wishes to call upon a dear and early friend of
Harry Barry came from Topsham and performed the ceremony, assisted
by Rev. Mr. B.
ARGUS COTTAGE, April 1, 1842.
 I do not know that this explanation is at all clear. Let me, as
the mathematicians say, give an instance which will illustrate the
importance of this profession. It is now a few months since I received
the following note from a distinguished member of the Cabinet:
WASHINGTON, January , 1842.
DEAR SIR:We are in a little trouble about a little thing.
are now in this city no less than three gentlemen bearing
credentials to government as Chargés from the Republic of
They are, of course, accredited from three several home
governments. The President signified, when the first arrived,
he would receive the Chargé from that government, on the 2d
proximo, but none of us know who the right Chargé is. The
newspapers tell nothing satisfactory about it. I suppose you
can you write me word before the 2d?
The gentlemen are: Dr. Estremadura, accredited from the
'Constitutional Government,'his credentials are dated the 2d
November; Don Paulo Vibeira, of the 'Friends of the People,'
November; M. Antonio de Vesga, 'Constitution of 1823,' October
27th. They attach great importance to our decision, each
scrip to sell. In haste, truly yours.
To this letter I returned the following reply:
SIR:Our latest dates from Oronoco are to the 13th ultimo.
'Constitution of '23' was then in full power. If, however, the
policy of our government be to recognize the gentlemen whose
principals shall be in office on the 2d proximo, it is a very
You may not be acquainted with the formulas for ascertaining
duration of any given modern revolution. I now use the
which I find almost exactly correct.
Multiply the age of the President by the number of statute
from the equator, divide by the number of pages in the given
Constitution; the result will be the length of the outbreak,
days. This formula includes, as you will see, an allowance for
heat of the climate, the zeal of the leader, and the verbosity
the theorists. The Constitution of 1823 was reproclaimed on
25th of October last. If you will give the above formula into
hands of any of your clerks, the calculation from it will show
that government will go out of power on the 1st of February,
minutes after 1, P. M. Your choice, on the 2d, must be
between Vibeira and Estremadura; here you will have no
Bobádil (Vibeira's principal) was on the 13th ultimo confined
sentence of death, at such a distance from the capital that he
cannot possibly escape and get into power before the 2d of
February. The 'Friends of the People,' in Oronoco, have always
moved slowly; they never got up an insurrection in less than
nineteen days' canvassing; that was in 1839. Generally they
even longer. Of course, Estremadura will be your man.
Believe me, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
The Cabinet had the good sense to act on my advice. My information
proved nearly correct, the only error being one of seven minutes in the
downfall of the 1823 Constitution. This arose from my making no
allowance for difference of longitude between Piaut, where their
government was established, and Opee, where it was crushed. The
difference of time between those places is six minutes and fifty-three
seconds, as the reader may see on a globe.
Estremadura was, of course, presented to the President, and sold his
 Newspaper men of 1868 will be amused to think that half past one
was late in 1836. At that time the Great Western Mail was due in
Boston at 6 P. M., and there was no later news except local, or an
occasional horse express.
 The reader will observe the Arcadian habits of 1836, when the
German was yet unknown.
THE OLD AND THE NEW, FACE TO FACE.
A THUMB-NAIL SKETCH.
[This essay was published in Sartain's Magazine, in 1852, as A
Thumb-nail Sketch, having received one of ten premiums which Mr.
Sartain offered to encourage young writers. It had been written a few
years earlier, some time before the studies of St. Paul's life by
Conybeare and Howson, now so well known, were made public. The
chronology of my essay does not precisely agree with that of these
distinguished scholars. But I make no attempt now either to recast the
essay or to discuss the delicate and complicated questions which belong
to the chronology of Paul's life or to that of Nero; for there is no
question with regard to the leading facts. At the end of twenty years I
may again express the wish that some master competent to the greatest
themes might take the trial of Paul as the subject of a picture.]
In a Roman audience-chamber, the old civilization and the new
civilization brought out, at the very birth of the new, their chosen
In that little scene, as in one of Rembrandt's thumbnail studies for
a great picture, the lights and shades are as distinct as they will
ever be in the largest scene of history. The champions were perfect
representatives of the parties. And any man, with the soul of a man,
looking on, could have prophesied the issue of the great battle from
the issue of that contest.
The old civilization of the Roman Empire, just at that time, had
reached a point which, in all those outward forms which strike the eye,
would regard our times as mean indeed. It had palaces of marble, where
even modern kings would build of brick with a marble front to catch the
eye; it counted its armies by thousands, where we count ours by
hundreds; it surmounted long colonnades with its exquisite statues, for
which modern labor digs deep in ruined cities, because it cannot equal
them from its own genius; it had roads, which are almost eternal, and
which, for their purposes, show a luxury of wealth and labor that our
boasted locomotion cannot rival. These are its works of a larger scale.
And if you enter the palaces, you find pictures of matchless worth,
rich dresses which modern looms cannot rival, and sumptuous furniture
at which modern times can only wonder. The outside of the ancient
civilization is unequalled by the outside of ours, and for centuries
will be unequalled by it. We have not surpassed it there. And we see
how it attained this distinction, such as it was. It came by the
constant concentration of power. Power in few hands is the secret of
its display and glory. And thus that form of civilization attained its
very climax in the moment of the greatest unity of the Roman Empire.
When the Empire nestled into rest; after the convulsions in which it
was born; when a generation had passed away of those who had been Roman
citizens; when a generation arose, which, excepting one man, the
emperor, was a nation of Roman subjects,then the Empire was at its
height of power, its centralization was complete, the system of its
civilization was at the zenith of its success.
At that moment it was that there dawned at Rome the first gray
morning-light of the new civilization.
At that moment it was that that short scene, in that one chamber,
contrasted the two as clearly as they can be contrasted even in long
There is one man, the emperor, who is a precise type, an exact
representative, of the old. That man is brought face to face with
another who is a precise type, an exact representative, of the new.
Only look at them as they stand there! The man who best illustrates
the old civilization owes to it the most careful nurture. From his
childhood he has been its petted darling. Its principal is
concentration under one head. He is that head. When he is a child, men
know he will be emperor of the world. The wise men of the world teach
him; the poets of the world flatter him; the princes of the world bow
to him. He is trained in all elegant accomplishments; he is led forward
through a graceful, luxurious society. His bearing is that of an
emperor; his face is the face of fine physical beauty. Imagine for
yourself the sensual countenance of a young Bacchus, beautiful as
Milton's devils; imagine him clad in splendor before which even English
luxury is mean; arrayed in jewels, to which even Eastern pomp is
tinsel; imagine an expression of tired hate, of low, brutal lust,
hanging on those exquisite licentious features, and you have before you
the type of Roman civilization. It is the boy just budding into
manhood, whom later times will name as the lowest embodiment of
meanness and cruelty! You are looking upon Nero!
Not only is this man an exact type of the ancient civilization, its
central power, its outside beauty, but the precise time of this sketch
of ours is the exact climax of the moral results of the ancient
civilization. We are to look at Nero just when he has returned to Rome
from a Southern journey. That journey had one object, which
succeeded. To his after-life it gives one memory, which never dies. He
has travelled to his beautiful country palace, that he might kill his
We can picture to ourselves Agrippina, by knowing that she was
Nero's mother, and our picture will not fail in one feature. She has
all the beauty of sense, all the attraction of passion. Indeed, she is
the Empress of Rome, because she is queen of beautyand of lust. She
is most beautiful among the beautiful of Rome; but what is that beauty
of feature in a state of whose matrons not one is virtuous, of whose
daughters not one is chaste? It is the beauty of sense alone, fit
adornment of that external grandeur, of that old society.
In the infancy of her son, this beautiful Agrippina consulted a
troop of fortune-tellers as to his fate; and they told her that he
would live to be Emperor of Rome, and to kill his mother. With all the
ecstasy of a mother's pride fused so strangely with all the excess of
an ambitious woman's love of power, she cried in answer, He may kill
me, if only he rules Rome!
She spoke her own fate in these words.
Here is the account of it by Tacitus. Nero had made all the
preparations; had arranged a barge, that of a sudden its deck might
fall heavily upon those in the cabin, and crush them in an instant. He
meant thus to give to the murder which he planned the aspect of an
accident. To this fatal vessel he led Agrippina. He talked with her
affectionately and gravely on the way; and when they parted at the
lakeside, with his old boyish familiarity he pressed her closely to his
heart, either to conceal his purpose, or because the last sight of a
mother, on the eve of death, touched even his cruel nature, and then
bade her farewell.
Just at the point upon the lake where he had directed, as the
Empress sat in her cabin talking with her attendants, the treacherous
deck was let fall upon them all. But the plot failed. She saw dead at
her feet one of her favorites, crushed by the sudden blow. But she had
escaped it. She saw that death awaited them all upon the vessel. The
men around sprang forward, ready to do their master's bidding in a less
clumsy and more certain way. But the Empress, with one of her
attendants, sprang from the treacherous vessel into the less
treacherous waves. And there, this faithful friend of hers, with a
woman's wit and a woman's devotion, drew on her own head the blows and
stabs of the murderers above, by crying, as if in drowning, Save me, I
am Nero's mother! Uttering those words of self-devotion, she was
killed by the murderers above, while the Empress, in safer silence,
buoyed up by fragments of the wreck, floated to the shore.
Nero had failed thus in secret crime, and yet he knew that he could
not stop here. And the next day after his mother's deliverance, he sent
a soldier to her palace, with a guard; and there, where she was
deserted even by her last attendant, without pretence of secrecy, they
put to death the daughter and the mother of a Cæsar. And Nero only
waits to look with a laugh upon the beauty of the corpse, before he
returns to resume his government at Rome.
That moment was the culminating moment of the ancient civilization.
It is complete in its centralizing power; it is complete in its
external beauty; it is complete in its crime. Beautiful as Eden to the
eye, with luxury, with comfort, with easy indolence to all; but dust
and ashes beneath the surface! It is corrupted at the head! It is
corrupted at the heart! There is nothing firm!
This is the moment which I take for our little picture. At this very
moment there is announced the first germ of the new civilization. In
the very midst of this falsehood, there sounds one voice of truth; in
the very arms of this giant, there plays the baby boy who is to cleave
him to the ground. This Nero slowly returns to the city. He meets the
congratulations of a senate, which thank him and the gods that he has
murdered his own mother. With the agony of an undying conscience
torturing him, he strives to avert care by amusement. He hopes to turn
the mob from despising him by the grandeur of their public
entertainments. He enlarges for them the circus. He calls unheard-of
beasts to be baited and killed for their enjoyment. The finest actors
rant, the sweetest musicians sing, that Nero may forget his mother, and
that his people may forget him.
At that period, the statesmen who direct the machinery of affairs
inform him that his personal attention is required one morning for a
state trial, to be argued before the Emperor in person. Must the
Emperor be there? May he not waste the hours in the blandishments of
lying courtiers, or the honeyed falsehoods of a mistress? If he chooses
thus to postpone the audience, be it so; Seneca, Burrhus, and his other
counsellors will obey. But the time will come when the worn-out boy
will be pleased some morning with the almost forgotten majesty of
state. The time comes one day. Worn out by the dissipation of the week,
fretted by some blunder of his flatterers, he sends for his wiser
counsellers, and bids them lead him to the audience-chamber, where he
will attend to these cases which need an Emperor's decision. It is at
that moment that we are to look upon him.
He sits there, upon that unequalled throne, his face sickly pale
with boyish debauchery; his young forehead worn with the premature
sensual wrinkles of lust; and his eyes bloodshot with last night's
intemperance. He sits there, the Emperor-boy, vainly trying to excite
himself, and forget her, in the blazonry of that pomp, and bids them
call in the prisoner.
A soldier enters, at whose side the prisoner has been chained for
years. This soldier is a tried veteran of the Prætorian cohorts. He was
selected, that from him this criminal could not escape; and for that
purpose they have been inseparably bound. But, as he leads that other
through the hall, he looks at him with a regard and earnestness which
say he is no criminal to him. Long since, the criminal has been the
guardian of his keeper. Long since, the keeper has cared for the
prisoner with all the ardor of a new-found son's affection.
They lead that gray-haired captive forward, and with his eagle eye
he glances keenly round the hall. That flashing eye has ere now bade
monarchs quail; and those thin lips have uttered words which shall make
the world ring till the last moment of the world shall come. The
stately Eastern captive moves unawed through the assembly, till he
makes a subject's salutation to the Emperor-judge who is to hear him.
And when, then, the gray-haired sage kneels before the sensual boy, you
see the prophet of the new civilization kneel before the monarch of the
old! You see Paul make a subject's formal reverence to Nero!
Let me do justice to the court which is to try him. In that
judgment-hall there are not only the pomp of Rome, and its crime; we
have also the best of its wisdom. By the dissolute boy, Nero, there
stands the prime minister Seneca, the chief of the philosophers of his
time; Seneca the saint, cry the Christians of the next century. We
will own him to be Seneca the wise, Seneca almost the good. To this
sage had been given the education of the monster who was to rule the
world. This sage had introduced him into power, had restrained his
madness when he could, and with his colleague had conducted the general
administration of the Empire with the greatest honor, while the boy was
wearing out his life in debauchery in the palace. Seneca dared say more
to Nero, to venture more with him, than did any other man. For the
young tiger was afraid of his old master long after he had tasted
blood. Yet Seneca's system was a cowardly system. It was the best of
Roman morality and Greek philosophy, and still it was mean. His daring
was the bravest of the men of the old civilization. He is the type of
their excellences, as is Nero the model of their power and their
adornments. And yet all that Seneca's daring could venture was to
seduce the baby-tyrant into the least injurious of tyrannies. From the
plunder of a province he would divert him by the carnage of the circus.
From the murder of a senator he could lure him by some new lust at
home. From the ruin of the Empire, he could seduce him by diverting him
with the ruin of a noble family. And Seneca did this with the best of
motives. He said he used all the power in his hands, and he thought he
did. He was one of those men of whom all times have their share. The
bravest of his time, he satisfied himself with alluring the beardless
Emperor by petty crime from public wrong; he could flatter him to the
expedient. He dared not order him to the right.
But Seneca knew what was right. Seneca also had a well-trained
conscience, which told him of right and of wrong. Seneca's brother,
Gallio, had saved Paul's life when a Jewish mob would have dragged him
to pieces in Corinth; and the legend is that Seneca and Paul had
corresponded with each other before they stood together in Nero's
presence, the one as counsellor, the other as the criminal. When
Paul arose from that formal salutation, when the apostle of the new
civilization spoke to the tottering monarch of the old, if there had
been one man in that assemblage, could he have failed to see that that
was a turning-point in the world's history? Before him in that little
hall, in that little hour, was passing the scene which for centuries
would be acted out upon the larger stage.
Faith on the one side, before expediency and cruelty on the other!
Paul before Seneca and Nero! He was ready to address Nero, with the
eloquence and vehemence which for years had been demanding utterance.
He stood at length before the baby Cæsar, to whose tribunal he had
appealed from the provincial court of a doubting Festus and a trembling
And who shall ask what words the vigorous Christian spoke to the
dastard boy! Who that knows the eloquence which rung out on the ears of
astonished Stoics at Athens, which commanded the incense and the
hecatombs of wandering peasants in Asia, which stilled the gabbling
clamor of a wild mob at Jerusalem,who will doubt the tone in which
Paul spoke to Nero! The boy quailed for the moment before the man! The
gilded dotard shrunk back from the home truths of the new, young,
vigorous faith: the ruler of a hundred legions was nothing before the
No; though at this audience all men forsook Paul, as he tells us;
though not one of the timid converts were there, but the soldier
chained at his side,still he triumphed over Nero and Nero's minister.
From that audience-hall those three men retire. The boy, grown old
in lust, goes thence to be an hour alone, to ponder for an hour on this
God, this resurrection, and this truth, of which the Jew, in such
uncourtly phrase, has harangued him. To be alone, until the spectre of
a dying mother rises again to haunt him, to persecute him and drive him
forth to his followers and feasters, where he will try to forget Paul
and the Saviour and God, where he would be glad to banish them forever.
He does not banish them forever! Henceforward, whenever that spectre of
a mother comes before him, it must re-echo the words of God and
eternity which Paul has spoken. Whenever the chained and bleeding
captive of the arena bends suppliant before him, there must return the
memory of the only captive who was never suppliant before him, and his
words of sturdy power!
And Seneca? Seneca goes home with the mortified feelings of a great
man who has detected his own meanness.
We all know the feeling; for all God's children might be great, and
it is with miserable mortification that we detect ourselves in one or
another pettiness. Seneca goes home to say: This wild Easterner
has rebuked the Emperor as I have so often wanted to rebuke him. He
stood there, as I have wanted to stand, a man before a brute.
He said what I have thought, and have been afraid to say.
Downright, straightforward, he told the Emperor truths as to Rome, as
to man, and as to his vices, which I have longed to tell him. He has
done what I am afraid to do. He has dared this, which I have dallied
with, and left undone. What is the mystery of his power?
Seneca did not know. Nero did not know. The Eastern mystery was in
presence before them, and they knew it not!
What was the mystery of Paul's power?
Paul leaves them with the triumph of a man who has accomplished the
hope of long years. Those solemn words of his, After that, I must
also see Rome, expressed the longing of years, whose object now, in
part, at least, is gratified. He must see Rome!
It is God's mission to him that he see Rome and its Emperor. Paul
has seen with the spirit's eye what we have seen since in
history,that he is to be the living link by which the electric fire
of life should pass first from religious Asia to quicken this dead,
brutish Europe. He knows that he is God's messenger to bear this
mystery of life eternal from the one land to the other, and to unfold
it there. And to-day has made real, in fact, this his inward
confidence. To-day has put the seal of fact on that vision of his,
years since, when he first left his Asiatic home. A prisoner in chains,
still he has to-day seen the accomplishment of the vows, hopes, and
resolutions of that field of Troy, most truly famous from the night he
spent there. There was another of these hours when God brings into one
spot the acts which shall be the argument of centuries of
history. Paul had come down there in his long Asiatic
journeys,Eastern in his lineage, Eastern in his temperament, Eastern
in his outward life, and Eastern in his faith,to that narrow
Hellespont, which for long ages has separated East from West, tore
madly up the chains which would unite them, overwhelmed even love when
it sought to intermarry them, and left their cliffs frowning eternal
hate from shore to shore. Paul stood upon the Asian shore and looked
across upon the Western. There were Macedonia and the hills of Greece,
here Troas and the ruins of Ilium. The names speak war. The blue
Hellespont has no voice but separation, except to Paul. But to Paul,
sleeping, it might be, on the tomb of Achilles, that night the man of
Macedonia appears, and bids him come over to avenge Asia, to pay back
the debt of Troy.
Come over and help us. Give us life, for we gave you death.
Give us help for we gave you ruin. Paul was not disobedient to the
heavenly vision. The Christian Alexander, he crosses to Macedon with
the words of peace instead of war,the Christian shepherd of the
people, he carries to Greece, from Troy, the tidings of salvation
instead of carnage, of charity instead of license. And he knows that to
Europe it is the beginning of her new civilization, it is the dawn of
her new warfare, of her new poetry, of her reign of heroes who are
That faith of his, now years old, has this day received its
crowning victory. This day, when he has faced Nero and Seneca together,
may well stand in his mind as undoing centuries of bloodshed and of
And in this effort, and in that spiritual strength which had nerved
him in planning it and carrying it through, was the Asian mystery.
Ask what was the secret of Paul's power as he bearded the baby Emperor,
and abashed the baby Philosopher? What did he give the praise to, as he
left that scene? What was the principle in action there, but faith in
the new life, faith in the God who gave it!
We do not wonder, as Seneca wondered, that such a man as Paul dared
say anything to such a boy as Nero! The absolute courage of the new
faith was the motive-power which forced it upon the world. Here were
the sternest of morals driven forward with the most ultra bravery.
Perfect faith gave perfect courage to the first witnesses. And there
was the mystery of their victories.
And so, in this case, when after a while Seneca again reminded Nero
of his captive, poor Nero did not dare but meet him again. Yet, when he
met him again in that same judgment-hall, he did not dare hear him
long; and we may be sure that there were but few words before, with
such affectation of dignity as he could summon, he bade them set the
Paul free! The old had faced the new. Each had named its champion.
And the new conquers!
 Anno Christi, 60.
 Tacit. Annal., xiv. 9.
 Anno Christi, 60. See Neander, P. &T., B. iii. ch. x.
 This correspondence, as preserved in the collections of
fragments, has too much the aspect of a school-boy exercise to claim
much credit, though high authorities support it as genuine. But the
probability that there was such a correspondence, though now lost, is
THE DOT AND LINE ALPHABET.
[This sketch was originally published in the Atlantic Monthly
October, 1858, just at the time that the first Atlantic Cable,
whose first prattle had been welcomed by the acclamations of a
continent, gasped its last under the manipulations of De
has since been copied by Mr. Prescott in his valuable
the electric telegraph.
The war, which has taught us all so much, has given a brilliant
illustration of the dot and line alphabet, wholly apart from
electric use of it, which will undoubtedly be often repeated.
the movements of our troops under General Foster in North
Dr. J. B. Upham of Boston, the distinguished medical director
that department, equally distinguished for the success with
he has led forward the musical education of New England,
corps of buglers to converse with each other by long and short
bugle-notes, and thus to carry information with literal
from point to point at any distance within which the tones of
bugle could be heard. It will readily be seen that there are
occasions in military affairs when such means of conversation
prove of inestimable value. Mr. Tuttle, the astronomer, on
the same campaign, made a similar arrangement with long and
flashes of light.]
Just in the triumph week of that Great Telegraph which takes its
name from the Atlantic Monthly, I read in the September number of that
journal the revelations of an observer who was surprised to find that
he had the power of reading, as they run, the revelations of the wire.
I had the hope that he was about to explain to the public the more
general use of this instrument,which, with a stupid fatuity, the
public has as yet failed to grasp. Because its signals have been first
applied by means of electro-magnetism, and afterwards by means of the
chemical power of electricity, the many-headed people refuses to avail
itself, as it might do very easily, of the same signals for the simpler
transmission of intelligence, whatever the power employed.
The great invention of Mr. Morse is his register and alphabet. He
himself eagerly disclaims any pretension to the original conception of
the use of electricity as an errand-boy. Hundreds of people had thought
of that and suggested it; but Morse was the first to give the
errand-boy such a written message, that he could not lose it on the
way, nor mistake it when he arrived. The public, eager to thank Morse,
as he deserves, thanks him for something he did not invent. For this he
probably cares very little; nor do I care more. But the public does not
thank him for what he did originate,this invaluable and simple
alphabet. Now, as I use it myself in every detail of life, and see
every hour how the public might use it, if it chose, I am really sorry
for this negligence,both on the score of his fame, and of general
Please to understand, then, ignorant Reader, that this curious
alphabet reduces all the complex machinery of Cadmus and the rest of
the writing-masters to characters as simple as can be made by a dot, a
space, and a line, variously combined. Thus, the marks .-designate the
letter A. The marks... designate the letter B. All the other letters
are designated in as simple a manner.
Now I am stripping myself of one of the private comforts of my life,
(but what will one not do for mankind?) when I explain that this simple
alphabet need not be confined to electrical signals. Long and
short make it all,and wherever long and short can be combined, be
it in marks, sounds, sneezes, fainting-fits, canes, or children, ideas
can be conveyed by this arrangement of the long and short together.
Only last night I was talking scandal with Mrs. Wilberforce at a summer
party at the Hammersmiths. To my amazement, my wife, who scarcely can
play The Fisher's Hornpipe, interrupted us by asking Mrs. Wilberforce
if she could give her the idea of an air in The Butcher of Turin.
Mrs. Wilberforce had never heard that opera,indeed, had never heard
of it. My angel-wife was surprised,stood thrumming at the
piano,wondered she could not catch this very odd bit of discordant
accord at all,but checked herself in her effort, as soon as I
observed that her long notes and short notes, in their tum-tee,
tee,tee-tee, tee-tum tum, meant, He's her brother. The conversation
on her side turned from The Butcher of Turin, and I had just time on
the hint thus given me by Mrs. I. to pass a grateful eulogium on the
distinguished statesman whom Mrs. Wilberforce, with all a sister's
care, had rocked in his baby-cradle,whom, but for my wife's long and
short notes, I should have clumsily abused among the other statesmen of
You will see, in an instant, awakening Reader, that it is not the
business simply of operators in telegraphic dens to know this Morse
alphabet, but your business, and that of every man and woman. If our
school committees understood the times, it would be taught, even before
phonography or physiology, at school. I believe both these sciences now
precede the old English alphabet.
As I write these words, the bell of the South Congregational strikes
dong, dong, dong,dong, dong, dong, dong,dong,dong. Nobody has
unlocked the church-door. I know that, for I am locked up in the
vestry. The old tin sign, In case of fire, the key will be found at
the opposite house, has long since been taken down, and made into the
nose of a water-pot. Yet there is no Goody Two-Shoes locked in. No one
except me, and certainly I am not ringing the bell. No! But, thanks to
Dr. Channing's Fire Alarm, the bell is informing the South End that
there is a fire in District Dong-dong-dong,that is to say, District
No. 3. Before I have explained to you so far, the Eagle engine, with
a good deal of noise, has passed the house on its way to that fated
district. An immense improvement this on the old system, when the
engines radiated from their houses in every possible direction, and the
fire was extinguished by the few machines whose lines of quest happened
to cross each other at the particular place where the child had been
building cob-houses out of lucifer-matches in a paper warehouse. Yes,
it is a very great improvement. All those persons, like you and me, who
have no property in District Dong-dong-dong, can now sit at home at
ease;and little need we think upon the mud above the knees of those
who have property in that district and are running to look after it.
But for them the improvement only brings misery. You arrive wet, hot or
cold, or both, at the large District No. 3, to find that the
lucifer-matches were half a mile away from your store,and that your
own private watchman, even, had not been waked by the working of the
distant engines. Wet property-holder, as you walk home, consider this.
When you are next in the Common Council, vote an appropriation for
applying Morse's alphabet of long and short to the bells. Then they can
be made to sound intelligibly. D[=au]ng d[)i]ng
d[)i]ng,d[)i]ng,d[)i]ng d[=au]ng,d[=au]ng d[=au]ng d[=au]ng, and
so on, will tell you as you wake in the night that it is Mr. B.'s store
which is on fire, and not yours, or that it is yours and not his. This
is not only a convenience to you and a relief to your wife and family,
who will thus be spared your excursions to unavailable and
unsatisfactory fires, and your somewhat irritated return,it will be a
great relief to the Fire Department. How placid the operations of a
fire where none attend except on business! The various engines arrive,
but no throng of distant citizens, men and boys, fearful of the
destruction of their all. They have all roused on their pillows to
learn that it is No. 530 Pearl Street which is in flames. All but the
owner of No. 530 Pearl Street have dropped back to sleep. He alone has
rapidly repaired to the scene. That is he, who stands in the uncrowded
street with the Chief Engineer, on the deck of No. 18, as she plays
away. His property destroyed, the engines retire,he mentions the
amount of his insurance to those persons who represent the daily press,
they all retire to their homes,and the whole is finished as simply,
almost, as was his private entry in his day-book the afternoon
This is what might be, if the magnetic alarm only struck long
and short, and we had all learned Morse's alphabet. Indeed,
there is nothing the bells could not tell, if you would only give them
time enough. We have only one chime, for musical purposes, in the town.
But, without attempting tunes, only give the bells the Morse alphabet,
and every bell in Boston might chant in monotone the words of Hail
Columbia at length, every Fourth of July. Indeed, if Mr. Barnard
should report any day that a discouraged 'prentice-boy had left town
for his country home, all the bells could instantly be set to work to
speak articulately, in language regarding which the dullest imagination
need not be at loss,
Turn again, Higginbottom,
Lord Mayor of Boston!
I have suggested the propriety of introducing this alphabet into the
primary schools. I need not say I have taught it to my own
children,and I have been gratified to see how rapidly it made head,
against the more complex alphabet, in the grammar schools. Of course it
does;an alphabet of two characters matched against one of
twenty-six,or of forty-odd, as the very odd one of the phonotypists
employ! On the Franklin-medal day I went to the Johnson-School
examination. One of the committee asked a nice girl what was the
capital of Brazil. The child looked tired and pale, and, for an
instant, hesitated. But, before she had time to commit herself, all
answering was rendered impossible by an awful turn of whooping-cough
which one of my own sons was seized with,who had gone to the
examination with me. Hawm, hem hem;hem hem hem;hem, hem;hawm, hem
hem;hem hem hem;hem, hem,barked the poor child, who was at the
opposite extreme of the school-room. The spectators and the committee
looked to see him fall dead with a broken blood-vessel. I confess that
I felt no alarm, after I observed that some of his gasps were long and
some very staccato;nor did pretty little Mabel Warren. She
recovered her color,and, as soon as silence was in the least
restored, answered, Rio is the capital of Brazil,as modestly
and properly as if she had been taught it in her cradle. They are
nothing but children, any of them,but that afternoon, after they had
done all the singing the city needed for its annual entertainment of
the singers, I saw Bob and Mabel start for a long expedition into West
Roxbury,and when he came back, I know it was a long featherfew, from
her prize school-bouquet, that he pressed in his Greene's Analysis,
with a short frond of maiden's hair.
I hope nobody will write a letter to The Atlantic, to say that
these are very trifling uses. The communication of useful information
is never trifling. It is as important to save a nice child from
mortification on examination-day, as it is to tell Mr. Fremont that he
is not elected President. If, however, the reader is distressed,
because these illustrations do not seem to his more benighted
observation to belong to the big bow-wow strain of human life, let him
consider the arrangement which ought to have been made years since, for
lee shores, railroad collisions, and that curious class of maritime
accidents where one steamer runs into another under the impression that
she is a light house. Imagine the Morse alphabet applied to a
steam-whistle, which is often heard five miles. It needs only long
and short again. Stop Comet, for instance, when you
send it down the railroad line, by the wire, is expressed thus:
... .. .
Very good message, if Comet happens to be at the telegraph station
when it comes! But what if Comet has gone by? Much good will your
trumpery message do then! If, however, you have the wit to sound your
long and short on an engine-whistle, thus;Scre scre, scre; screeee;
scre scre; scre scre scre scre scre; scre scre scre,scre scre;
screeeee screeeee; scre; screeeee;why, then the whole neighborhood,
for five miles around, will know that Comet must stop, if only they
understand spoken language,and among others, the engineman of Comet
will understand it; and Comet will not run into that wreck of worlds
which gives the order,with the nucleus of hot iron and his tail of
five hundred tons of coal.So, of the signals which fog-bells can
give, attached to light-houses. How excellent to have them proclaim
through the darkness, I am Wall! Or of signals for
steamship-engineers. When our friends were on board the Arabia the
other day, and she and the Europa pitched into each other,as if, on
that happy week, all the continents were to kiss and join hands all
round,how great the relief to the passengers on each, if, through
every night of their passage, collision had been prevented by this
simple expedient! One boat would have screamed, Europa, Europa,
Europa, from night to morning,and the other, Arabia, Arabia,
Arabia,and neither would have been mistaken, as one unfortunately
was, for a light-house.
The long and short of it is, that whoever can mark distinctions of
time can use this alphabet of long-and-short, however he may mark them.
It is therefore within the compass of all intelligent beings, except
those who are no longer conscious of the passage of time, having
exchanged its limitations for the wider sweep of eternity. The
illimitable range of this alphabet, however, is not half disclosed when
this has been said. Most articulate language addresses itself to one
sense, or at most to two, sight and sound. I see, as I write, that the
particular illustrations I have given are all of them confined to
signals seen or signals heard. But the dot-and-line alphabet, in the
few years of its history, has already shown that it is not restricted
to these two senses, but makes itself intelligible to all. Its message,
of course, is heard as well as read. Any good operator understands the
sounds of its ticks upon the flowing strip of paper, as well as when he
sees it. As he lies in his cot at midnight, he will expound the passing
message without striking a light to see it. But this is only what may
be said of any written language. You can read this article to your
wife, or she can read it, as she prefers; that is, she chooses whether
it shall address her eye or her ear. But the long-and-short alphabet of
Morse and his imitators despises such narrow range. It addresses
whichever of the five senses the listener chooses. This fact is
illustrated by a curious set of anecdotes,never yet put in print, I
think,of that critical despatch which in one night announced General
Taylor's death to this whole land. Most of the readers of these lines
probably read that despatch in the morning's paper. The compositors and
editors had read it. To them it was a despatch to the eye. But half the
operators at the stations heard it ticked out, by the register
stroke, and knew it before they wrote it down for the press. To them it
was a despatch to the ear. My good friend Langenzunge had not that
resource. He had just been promised, by the General himself (under whom
he served at Palo Alto), the office of Superintendent of the Rocky
Mountain Lines. He was returning from Washington over the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroad, on a freight-train, when he heard of the President's
danger. Langenzunge loved Old Rough and Ready,and he felt badly about
his own office, too. But his extempore train chose to stop at a
forsaken shanty-village on the Potomac, for four mortal hours, at
midnight. What does he do, but walk down the line into the darkness,
climb a telegraph-post, cut a wire, and applied the two ends to his
tongue, to taste, at the fatal moment, the words, Died at half
past ten. Poor Langenzunge! he hardly had nerve to solder the wire
again. Cogs told me that they had just fitted up the Naguadavick
stations with Bain's chemical revolving disk. This disk is charged with
a salt of potash, which, when the electric spark passes through it, is
changed to Prussian blue. Your despatch is noiselessly written in dark
blue dots and lines. Just as the disk started on that fatal despatch,
and Cogs bent over it to read, his spirit-lamp blew up,as the dear
things will. They were beside themselves in the lonely, dark office;
but, while the men were fumbling for matches, which would not go,
Cogs's sister, Nydia, a sweet blind girl, who had learned Bain's
alphabet from Dr. Howe at South Boston, bent over the chemical paper,
and smelt out the prussiate of potash, as it formed itself in
lines and dots to tell the sad story. Almost anybody used to reading
the blind books can read the embossed Morse messages with the
finger,and so this message was read at all the midnight way-stations
where no night-work is expected, and where the companies do not supply
fluid or oil. Within my narrow circle of acquaintance, therefore, there
were these simultaneous instances, where the same message was seen,
heard, smelled, tasted, and felt. So universal is the dot-and-line
alphabet,for Bain's is on the same principle as Morse's.
The reader sees, therefore, first, that the dot-and-line alphabet
can be employed by any being who has command of any long and short
symbols,be they long and short notches, such as Robinson Crusoe kept
his accounts with, or long and short waves of electricity, such as
these which Valentia is sending across to the Newfoundland bay, so
prophetically and appropriately named The Bay of Bulls. Also, I hope
the reader sees that the alphabet can be understood by any intelligent
being who has any one of the five senses left him,by all rational
men, that is, excepting the few eyeless deaf persons who have lost both
taste and smell in some complete paralysis. The use of Morse's
telegraph is by no means confined to the small clique who possess or
who understand electrical batteries. It is not only the torpedo or the
Gymnotus electricus that can send us messages from the ocean.
Whales in the sea can telegraph as well as senators on land, if they
will only note the difference between long spoutings and short ones.
And they can listen, too. If they will only note the difference between
long and short, the eel of Ocean's bottom may feel on his slippery skin
the smooth messages of our Presidents, and the catfish, in his
darkness, look fearless on the secrets of a Queen. Any beast, bird,
fish, or insect, which can discriminate between long and short, may use
the telegraph alphabet, if he have sense enough. Any creature, which
can hear, smell, taste, feel, or see, may take note of its signals, if
he can understand them. A tired listener at church, by properly varying
his long yawns and his short ones, may express his opinion of the
sermon to the opposite gallery before the sermon is done. A dumb
tobacconist may trade with his customers in an alphabet of short-sixes
and long-nines. A beleaguered Sebastopol may explain its wants to the
relieving army beyond the line of the Chernaya, by the lispings of its
short Paixhans and its long twenty-fours.
 The Fire Alarm is the invention of Dr. William F. Channing:
A wizard of such dreaded fame,
That when in Salamanca's cave,
Him listed his magic wand to wave,
The bells would ring in Notre Dame.
 I am proud to say that such suggestions have had so much
weight, that in 1868 the alarm strikes the number of the box which
first telegraphs danger, six-four, six-four, &c., six being the
district number, and four the box number in that district.
THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE RESOLUTE.
[I had some opportunities, which no other writer for the press
I believe, of examining the Resolute on her return from that
voyage which is the most remarkable in the history of the
the world. And, as I know of no other printed record of the
of that voyage than this, which was published in the Boston
Advertiser of June 11, 1856, I reprint it here. Readers should
remember that the English government abandoned all claim on
vessel; that the American government then bought her off the
salvors, refitted her completely, and sent her to England as a
present to the Queen. The Queen visited the ship, and accepted
present in person. The Resolute has never since been to sea. I
not load the page with authorities; but I studied the original
reports of the Arctic expeditions carefully in preparing the
and I believe it to be accurate throughout.
The voyage from New London to England, when she was thus
is strictly her last voyage. But when this article was printed
name was correct.]
It was in early spring in 1852, early on the morning of the 21st of
April, that the stout English discovery ship Resolute, manned by a
large crew, commanded by a most manly man, Henry Kellett, left her
moorings in the great river Thames, a little below the old town of
London, was taken in tow by a fussy steam-tug, and proudly started as
one of a fine English squadron in the great search of the nations for
the lost Sir John Franklin. It was late in the year 1855, on the 24th
of December, that the same ship, weatherworn, scantily rigged, without
her lighter masts, all in the trim of a vessel which has had a hard
fight with wind, water, ice, and time, made the light-house of New
London,waited for day and came round to anchor in the other river
Thames, of New England. Not one man of the English crew was on
board. The gallant Captain Kellett was not there; but in his place an
American master, who had shown, in his way, equal gallantry. The sixty
or seventy men with whom she sailed were all in their homes more than a
year ago. The eleven men with whom she returned had had to double
parts, and to work hard to make good the places of the sixty. And
between the day when the Englishmen left her, and the day the Americans
found her, she had spent fifteen months and more alone. She was girt in
by the ice of the Arctic seas. No man knows where she went, what narrow
scapes she passed through, how low her thermometers marked cold;it is
a bit of her history which was never written. Nor what befell her
little tender, the Intrepid, which was left in her neighborhood,
ready for occupation, just as she was left. No man will ever tell of
the nip that proved too much for her,of the opening of her seams, and
her disappearance beneath the ice. But here is the hardy Resolute,
which, on the 15th of May, 1854, her brave commander left, as he was
ordered, ready for occupation,which the brave Captain Buddington
found September 10, 1855, more than a thousand miles from there, and
pronounced still ready for occupation;and of what can be known of
her history from Old London to New London, from Old England's Thames to
New England's Thames, we will try to tell the story; as it is written
in the letters of her old officers and told by the lips of her new
For Arctic work, if ships are to go into every nook and lane of ice
that will yield at all to wind and steam, they must be as nearly
indestructible as man can make them. For Arctic work, therefore, and
for discovery work, ships built of the teak wood of Malabar and
Java are considered most precisely fitted. Ships built of teak are said
to be wholly indestructible by time. To this we owe the fact, which now
becomes part of a strange coincidence, that one of the old Captain
Cook's ships which went round the world with him has been, till within
a few years, a whaling among the American whalers, revisiting, as a
familiar thing, the shores which she was first to discover. The English
admiralty, eager to fit out for Arctic service a ship of the best build
they could find, bought the two teak-built ships Baboo and Ptarmigan in
1850,sent them to their own dock-yards to be refitted, and the Baboo
became the Assistance,the Ptarmigan became the Resolute, of their
squadrons of Arctic discovery.
Does the reader know that in the desolation of the Arctic shores the
Ptarmigan is the bird most often found? It is the Arctic grouse or
partridge, and often have the ptarmigans of Melville Island
furnished sport and even dinners to the hungry officers of the
Resolute, wholly unconscious that she had ever been their god-child,
and had thrown off their name only to take that which she now wears.
Early in May, 1850, just at the time we now know that brave Sir John
Franklin and the remnant of his crew were dying of starvation at the
mouth of Back's River, the Resolute sailed first for the Arctic seas,
the flag-ship of Commodore Austin, with whose little squadron our own
De Haven and his men had such pleasant intercourse near Beechey Island.
In the course of that expedition she wintered off Cornwallis
Island,and in autumn of the next year returned to England.
Whenever a squadron or a man or an army returns to England, unless
in the extreme and exceptional case of complete victory over obstacle
invincible, there is always dissatisfaction. This is the English way.
And so there was dissatisfaction when Captain Austin returned with his
ships and men. There was also still a lingering hope that some trace of
Franklin might yet be found, perhaps some of his party. Yet more, there
were two of the searching ships which had entered the Polar seas from
Behring's Straits on the west, the Enterprise and Investigator,
which might need relief before they came through or returned. Arctic
search became a passion by this time, and at once a new squadron was
fitted out to take the seas in the spring of 1852. This squadron
consisted of the Assistance and Resolute again, which had been
refitted since their return, of the Intrepid and Pioneer, two
steamships used as tenders to the Assistance and Resolute
respectively, and of the North Star, which had also been in those
regions, and now went as a storeship to the rest of the squadron. To
the command of the whole Sir Edward Belcher was appointed, an officer
who had served in some of the earlier Arctic expeditions. Officers and
men volunteered in full numbers for the service, and these five vessels
therefore carried out a body of men who brought more experience of the
Northern seas together than any expedition which had ever visited them.
Of these, Captain Henry Kellett had command of the Resolute, and
was second in seniority to Sir Edward Belcher, who made the
Assistance the flag-ship. It shows what sort of man he was, to say
that for more than ten years he spent only part of one in England, and
was the rest of the time in an antipodean hemisphere or a hyperborean
zone. Before brave Sir John Franklin sailed, Captain Kellett was in the
Pacific. Just as he was to return home, he was ordered into the Arctic
seas to search for Sir John. Three years successively, in his ship the
Herald, he passed inside Behring's Straits, and far into the Arctic
Ocean. He discovered Herald Island, the farthest land known there. He
was one of the last men to see McClure in the Investigator before she
entered the Polar seas from the northwest. He sent three of his men on
board that ship to meet them all again, as will be seen, in strange
surroundings. After more than seven years of this Pacific and Arctic
life, he returned to England, in May or June, 1851, and in the next
winter volunteered to try the eastern approach to the same Arctic seas
in our ship, the Resolute. Some of his old officers sailed with him.
We know nothing of Captain Kellett but what his own letters,
despatches, and instructions show, as they are now printed in enormous
parliamentary blue-books, and what the despatches and letters of his
officers and of his commander show. But these papers present the
picture of a vigorous, hearty man, kind to his crew and a great
favorite with them, brave in whatever trial, always considerate,
generous to his officers, reposing confidence in their integrity; a
man, in short, of whom the world will be apt to hear more. His
commander, Sir Edward Belcher, tried by the same standard, appears a
brave and ready man, apt to talk of himself, not very considerate of
his inferiors, confident in his own opinion; in short, a man with whom
one would not care to spend three Arctic winters. With him, as we trace
the Resolute's fortunes, we shall have much to do. Of Captain Kellett
we shall see something all along till the day when he sadly left her,
as bidden by Sir Edward Belcher, ready for occupation.
With such a captain, and with sixty-odd men, the Resolute cast off
her moorings in the gray of the morning on the 21st of April, 1852, to
go in search of Sir John Franklin. The brave Sir John had died two
years before, but no one knew that, nor whispered it. The river
steam-tug Monkey took her in tow, other steamers took the
Assistance and the North Star; the Intrepid and Pioneer got up
their own steam, and to the cheers of the little company gathered at
Greenhithe to see them off, they went down the Thames. At the Nore, the
steamship Desperate took the Resolute in charge, Sir Edward Belcher
made the signal Orkneys as the place of rendezvous, and in four days
she was there, in Stromness outer harbor. Here there was a little
shifting of provisions and coal-bags, those of the men who could get on
shore squandered their spending-money, and then, on the 28th of April,
she and hers bade good by to British soil. And, though they have
welcomed it again long since, she has not seen it from then till now.
The Desperate steamer took her in tow, she sent her own tow-lines
to the North Star, and for three days in this procession of so wild
and weird a name, they three forged on westward toward Greenland,a
train which would have startled any old Viking had he fallen in with
it, with a fresh gale blowing all the time and a nasty sea. On the
fourth day all the tow-lines broke or were cast off however, Neptune
and the winds claimed their own, and the Resolute tried her own
resources. The towing steamers were sent home in a few days more, and
the squadron left to itself.
We have too much to tell in this short article to be able to dwell
on the details of her visits to the hospitable Danes of Greenland, or
of her passage through the ice of Baffin's Bay. But here is one
incident, which, as the event has proved, is part of a singular
coincidence. On the 6th of July all the squadron, tangled in the ice,
joined a fleet of whalers beset in it, by a temporary opening between
the gigantic masses. Caught at the head of a bight in the ice, with the
Assistance and the Pioneer, the Resolute was, for the emergency,
docked there, and, by the ice closing behind her, was, for a while,
detained. Meanwhile the rest of the fleet, whalers and discovery ships,
passed on by a little lane of water, the American whaler McLellan
leading. This McLellan was one of the ships of the spirited New
London merchants, Messrs. Perkins &Smith, another of whose vessels has
now found the Resolute and befriended her in her need in those seas.
The McLellan was their pioneer vessel there.
The North Star of the English squadron followed the McLellan. A
long train stretched out behind. Whalers and government ships, as they
happened to fall into line,a long three quarters of a mile. It was
lovely weather, and, though the long lane closed up so that they could
neither go back nor forward,nobody apprehended injury till it was
announced on the morning of the 7th that the poor McLellan was nipped
in the ice and her crew were deserting her. Sir Edward Belcher was then
in condition to befriend her, sent his carpenters to examine her,put
a few charges of powder into the ice to relieve the pressure upon
her,and by the end of the day it was agreed that her injuries could
be repaired, and her crew went on board again. But there is no saying
what ice will do next. The next morning there was a fresh wind, the
McLellan was caught again, and the water poured into her, a steady
stream. She drifted about unmanageable, now into one ship, now into
another, and the English whalemen began to pour on board, to help
themselves to such plunder as they chose. At the Captain's request, Sir
Edward Belcher put an end to this, sent sentries on board, and working
parties, to clear her as far as might be, and keep account of what her
stores were and where they went to. In a day or two more she sank to
the water's edge and a friendly charge or two of powder put her out of
the way of harm to the rest of the fleet. After such a week spent
together it will easily be understood that the New London whalemen did
not feel strangers on board one of Sir Edward's vessels when they found
her ready for occupation three years and more afterwards.
In this tussle with the ice, the Resolute was nipped once or
twice, but she has known harder nips than that since. As July wore
away, she made her way across Baffin's Bay, and on the 10th of August
made Beechey Island,known now as the head-quarters for years of the
searching squadrons, because, as it happened, the place where the last
traces of Franklin's ships were found,the wintering place of his
first winter. But Captain Kellett was on what is called the western
search, and he only stayed at Beechey Island to complete his
provisions from the storeships, and in the few days which this took, to
see for himself the sad memorials of Franklin's party,and then the
Resolute and Intrepid were away, through Barrow's Straits,on the
track which Parry ran along with such success thirty-three years
before,and which no one had followed with as good fortune as he,
On the 15th of August Captain Kellett was off; bade good by to the
party at Beechey Island, and was to try his fortune in independent
command. He had not the best of luck at starting. The reader must
remember that one great object of these Arctic expeditions was to leave
provisions for starving men. For such a purpose, and for travelling
parties of his own over the ice, Captain Kellett was to leave a depot
at Assistance Bay, some thirty miles only from Beechey Island. In
nearing for that purpose the Resolute grounded, was left with but
seven feet of water, the ice threw her over on her starboard bilge, and
she was almost lost. Not quite lost, however, or we should not be
telling her story. At midnight she was got off, leaving sixty feet of
her false keel behind. Captain Kellett forged on in her,left a depot
here and another there,and at the end of the short Arctic summer had
come as far westward as Sir Edward Parry came. Here is the most
westerly point the reader will find on most maps far north in
America,the Melville Island of Captain Parry. Captain Kellett's
associate, Captain McClintock of the Intrepid, had commanded the only
party which had been here since Parry. In 1851 he came over from
Austin's squadron with a sledge party. So confident is every one there
that nobody has visited those parts unless he was sent, that McClintock
encouraged his men one day by telling them that if they got on well,
they should have an old cart Parry had left thirty-odd years before, to
make a fire of. Sure enough; they came to the place, and there was the
wreck of the cart just as Parry left it. They even found the ruts the
old cart left in the ground as if they had not been left a week.
Captain Kellett came into harbor, and with great spirit he and his
officers began to prepare for the extended searching parties of the
next spring. The Resolute and her tender came to anchor off Dealy
Island, and there she spent the next eleven months of her life, with
great news around her in that time.
There is not much time for travelling in autumn. The days grow very
short and very cold. But what days there were were spent in sending out
carts and sledges with depots of provisions, which the parties of the
next spring could use. Different officers were already assigned to
different lines of search in spring. On their journeys they would be
gone three months and more, with a party of some eight men,dragging a
sled very like a Yankee wood-sled with their instruments and
provisions, over ice and snow. To extend those searches as much as
possible, and to prepare the men for that work when it should come,
advanced depots were now sent forward in the autumn, under the charge
of the gentlemen who would have to use them in the spring.
One of these parties, the South line of Melville Island party, was
under a spirited young officer Mr. Mecham, who had tried such service
in the last expedition. He had two of her Majesty's sledges, The
Discovery and The Fearless, a depot of twenty days' provision to be
used in the spring, and enough for twenty-five days' present use. All
the sledges had little flags, made by some young lady friends of Sir
Edward Belcher's. Mr. Mecham's bore an armed hand and sword on a white
ground, with the motto, Per mare, per terram, per glaciem.
Over mud, land, snow, and ice they carried their dépot, and were nearly
back, when, on the 12th of October, 1852, Mr. Mecham made the great
discovery of the expedition.
On the shore of Melville Island, above Winter Harbor, is a great
sandstone boulder, ten feet high, seven or eight broad, and twenty and
more long, which is known to all those who have anything to do with
those regions as Parry's sandstone, for it stood near Parry's
observatory the winter he spent here, and Mr. Fisher, his surgeon, cut
on a flat face of it this inscription:
HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S
SHIPS HECLA AND GRIPER,
W. E. PARRY AND MR. LIDDON,
WINTERED IN THE ADJACENT
A. FISHER, SCULPT.
It was a sort of God Terminus put up to mark the end of that
expedition, as the Danish gentlemen tell us our Dighton rock is the
last point of Thorfinn's expedition to these parts. Nobody came to read
Mr. Fisher's inscription for thirty years and more,a little Arctic
hare took up her home under the great rock, and saw the face of man for
the first time when, on the 5th of June, 1851, Mr. McClintock, on his
first expedition this way, had stopped to see whether possibly any of
Franklin's men had ever visited it. He found no signs of them, had not
so much time as Mr. Fisher for stone-cutting, but carved the figures
1851 on the stone, and left it and the hare. To this stone, on his way
back to the Resolute, Mr. Mecham came again (as we said) on the 12th
of October, one memorable Tuesday morning, having been bidden to leave
a record there. He went on in advance of his party, meaning to cut 1852
on the stone. On top of it was a small cairn of stones built by Mr.
McClintock the year before. Mecham examined this, and to his surprise a
copper cylinder rolled out from under a spirit tin. On opening it, I
drew out a roll folded in a bladder, which, being frozen, broke and
crumbled. From its dilapidated appearance, I thought at the moment it
must be some record of Sir Edward Parry, and, fearing I might damage
it, laid it down with the intention of lighting the fire to thaw it. My
curiosity, however, overcame my prudence, and on opening it carefully
with my knife, I came to a roll of cartridge paper with the impression
fresh upon the seals. My astonishment may be conceived on finding it
contained an account of the proceedings of H. M. ship 'Investigator'
since parting company with the 'Herald' [Captain Kellett's old ship] in
August, 1850, in Behring's Straits. Also a chart which disclosed to
view not only the long-sought Northwest Passage, but the completion of
the survey of Banks and Wollaston lands. Opened and indorsed Commander
McClintock's despatch; found it contained the following additions:
'Opened and copied by his old friend and messmate upon this
April 28, 1852. ROBERT MCCLURE
'Party all well and return to Investigator to-day.'
A great discovery indeed to flash across one in a minute. The
Investigator had not been heard from for more than two years. Here
was news of her not yet six months old. The Northwest Passage had been
dreamed of for three centuries and more. Here was news of its
discovery,news that had been known to Captain McClure for two years.
McClure and McClintock were lieutenants together in the Enterprise
when she was sent after Sir John Franklin in 1848, and wintered
together at Port Leopold the next winter. Now, from different
hemispheres, they had come so near meeting at this old block of
sandstone. Mr. Mecham bade his mate build a new cairn, to put the
record of the story in, and hurried on to the Resolute with his great
news,news of almost everybody but Sir John Franklin. Strangely
enough, the other expedition, Captain Collinson's, had had a party in
that neighborhood, between the other two, under Mr. Parks; but it was
his extreme point possible, and he could not reach the Sandstone,
though he saw the ruts of McClure's sleigh. This was not known till
The Investigator, as it appeared from this despatch of Captain
McClure's, had been frozen up in the Bay of Mercy of Banks Land: Banks
Land having been for thirty years at once an Ultima Thule and Terra
Incognita, put down on the maps where Captain Parry saw it across
thirty miles of ice and water in 1819. Perhaps she was still in that
same bay: these old friends wintering there, while the Resolute and
Intrepid were lying under Dealy Island, and only one hundred and
seventy miles between. It must have been tantalizing to all parties to
wait the winter through, and not even get a message across. But until
winter made it too cold and dark to travel, the ice in the strait was
so broken up that it was impossible to attempt to traverse it, even
with a light boat, for the lanes of water. So the different autumn
parties came in, the last on the last of October, and the officers and
men entered on their winter's work and play, to push off the winter
days as quickly as they could.
The winter was very severe; and it proved that, as the Resolute
lay, they were a good deal exposed to the wind. But they kept
themselves busy,exercised freely,found game quite abundant within
reasonable distances on shore, whenever the light served,kept schools
for the men,delivered scientific lectures to whoever would
listen,established the theatre for which the ship had been provided
at home,and gave juggler's exhibitions by way of variety. The recent
system of travelling in the fall and spring cuts in materially to the
length of the Arctic winters as Ross, Parry, and Back used to
experience it, and it was only from the 1st of November to the 10th of
March that they were left to their own resources. Late in October one
of the Resolute's men died, and in December one of the Intrepid's,
but, excepting these cases, they had little sickness, for weeks no one
on the sick-list; indeed, Captain Kellett says cheerfully that a
sufficiency of good provisions, with plenty of work in the open air,
will insure good health in that climate.
As early in the spring as he dared risk a travelling party, namely,
on the 10th of March, 1853, he sent what they all called a forlorn hope
across to the Bay of Mercy, to find any traces of the Investigator;
for they scarcely ventured to hope that she was still there. This start
was earlier by thirty-five days than the early parties had started on
the preceding expedition. But it was every way essential that, if
Captain McClure had wintered in the Bay of Mercy, the messenger should
reach him before he sent off any or all his men, in travelling parties,
in the spring. The little forlorn hope consisted of ten men under the
command of Lieutenant Pim, an officer who had been with Captain Kellett
in the Herald on the Pacific side, had spent a winter in the Plover
up Behring's Straits, and had been one of the last men whom the
Investigator had seen before they put into the Arctic Ocean, to
discover, as it proved, the Northwest Passage.
Here we must stop a moment, to tell what one of these sledge parties
is by whose efforts so much has been added to our knowledge of Arctic
geography, in journeys which could never have been achieved in ships or
boats. In the work of the Resolute's parties, in this spring of 1852,
Commander McClintock travelled 1,325 miles with his sledge, and
Lieutenant Mecham 1,163 miles with his, through regions before wholly
unexplored. The sledge, as we have said, is in general contour not
unlike a Yankee wood-sled, about eleven feet long. The runners are
curved at each end. The sled is fitted with a light canvas trough, so
adjusted that, in case of necessity, all the stores, &c., can be
ferried over any narrow lane of water in the ice. There are packed on
this sled a tent for eight or ten men, five or six pikes, one or more
of which is fitted as an ice-chisel; two large buffalo-skins, a
water-tight floor-cloth, which contrives
a double debt to pay,
A floor by night, the sledge's sail by day
(and it must be remembered that day and night in those regions
are very equivocal terms). There are, besides, a cooking-apparatus, of
which the fire is made in spirit or tallow lamps, one or two guns, a
pick and shovel, instruments for observation, pannikins, spoons, and a
little magazine of such necessaries, with the extra clothing of the
party. Then the provision, the supply of which measures the length of
the expedition, consists of about a pound of bread and a pound of
pemmican per man per day, six ounces of pork, and a little preserved
potato, rum, lime-juice, tea, chocolate, sugar, tobacco, or other such
creature comforts. The sled is fitted with two drag-ropes, at which the
men haul. The officer goes ahead to find the best way among hummocks of
ice or masses of snow. Sometimes on a smooth floe, before the wind, the
floor-cloth is set for a sail, and she runs off merrily, perhaps with
several of the crew on board, and the rest running to keep up. But
sometimes over broken ice it is a constant task to get her on at all.
You hear, One, two, three, haul, all day long, as she is
worked out of one ice cradle-hole over a hummock into another.
Different parties select different hours for travelling. Captain
Kellett finally considered that the best division of time, when, as
usual, they had constant daylight, was to start at four in the
afternoon, travel till ten P. M., breakfast then, tent and rest
four hours; travel four more, tent, dine, and sleep nine hours. This
secured sleep, when the sun was the highest and most trying to the
eyes. The distances accomplished with this equipment are truly
Each man, of course, is dressed as warmly as flannel, woollen cloth,
leather, and seal-skin will dress him. For such long journeying, the
study of boots becomes a science, and our authorities are full of
discussions as to canvas or woollen, or carpet or leather boots, of
strings and of buckles. When the time to tent comes, the pikes are
fitted for tent-poles, and the tent set up, its door to leeward, on the
ice or snow. The floor-cloth is laid for the carpet. At an hour fixed,
all talking must stop. There is just room enough for the party to lie
side by side on the floor-cloth. Each man gets into a long felt bag,
made of heavy felting literally nearly half an inch thick. He brings
this up wholly over his head, and buttons himself in. He has a little
hole in it to breathe through. Over the felt is sometimes a brown
holland bag, meant to keep out moisture. The officer lies farthest in
the tent,as being next the wind, the point of hardship and so of
honor. The cook for the day lies next the doorway, as being first to be
called. Side by side the others lie between. Over them all Mackintosh
blankets with the buffalo-robes are drawn, by what power this deponent
sayeth not, not knowing. No watch is kept, for there is little danger
of intrusion. Once a whole party was startled by a white bear smelling
at them, who waked one of their dogs, and a droll time they had of it,
springing to their arms while enveloped in their sacks. But we remember
no other instance where a sentinel was needed. And occasionally in the
journals the officer notes that he overslept in the morning, and did
not call the cook early enough. What a passion is sleep, to be sure,
that one should oversleep with such comforts round him!
Some thirty or forty parties, thus equipped, set out from the
Resolute while she was under Captain Kellett's charge, on various
expeditions. As the journey of Lieutenant Pim to the Investigator at
Banks Land was that on which turned the great victory of her voyage, we
will let that stand as a specimen of all. None of the others, however,
were undertaken at so early a period of the year, and, on the other
hand, several others were much longer,some of them, as has been said,
occupying three months and more.
Lieutenant Pim had been appointed in the autumn to the Banks Land
search, and had carried out his depots of provisions when the other
officers took theirs. Captain McClure's chart and despatch made it no
longer necessary to have that coast surveyed, but made it all the more
necessary to have some one go and see if he was still there. The
chances were against this, as a whole summer had intervened since he
was heard from. Lieutenant Pim proposed, however, to travel all round
Banks Land, which is an island about the size and shape of Ireland, in
search of him, Collinson, Franklin, or anybody. Captain Kellett,
however, told him not to attempt this with his force, but to return to
the ship by the route he went. First he was to go to the Bay of Mercy;
if the Investigator was gone, he was to follow any traces of her,
and, if possible, communicate with her or her consort, the
Lieutenant Pim started with a sledge and seven men, and a dog-sledge
with two under Dr. Domville, the surgeon, who was to bring back the
earliest news from the Bay of Mercy to the captain. There was a relief
sledge to go part way and return. For the intense cold of this early
season they had even more careful arrangements than those we have
described. Their tent was doubled. They had extra Mackintoshes, and
whatever else could be devised. They had bad luck at starting,broke
down one sledge and had to send back for another; had bad weather, and
must encamp, once for three days. Fortunately, says the lieutenant of
this encampment, the temperature arose from fifty-one below zero to
thirty-six below, and there remained, while the drift accumulated to
such a degree around the tents, that within them the thermometer was
only twenty below, and, when they cooked, rose to zero. A pleasant time
of it they must have had there on the ice, for those three days, in
their bags smoking and sleeping! No wonder that on the fourth day they
found they moved slowly, so cramped and benumbed were they. This
morning a new sledge came to them from the ship; they got out of their
bags, packed, and got under way again. They were still running along
shore, but soon sent back the relief party which had brought the new
sled, and in a few days more set out to cross the strait, some
twenty-five to thirty miles wide, which, when it is open, as no man has
ever seen it, is one of the Northwest Passages discovered by these
Horrible work it was! Foggy and dark, so they could not choose the
road, and, as it happened, lit on the very worst mass of broken ice in
the channel. Just as they entered on it, one black raven must needs
appear. Bad luck, said the men. And when Mr. Pim shot a musk-ox,
their first, and the wounded creature got away, So much for the
raven, they croaked again. Only three miles the first day, four miles
the second day, two and a half the third, and half a mile the fourth;
this was all they gained by most laborious hauling over the broken ice,
dragging one sledge at a time, and sometimes carrying forward the
stores separately and going back for the sledges. Two days more gave
them eight miles more, but on the seventh day on this narrow strait,
the dragging being a little better, the great sledge slipped off a
smooth hummock, broke one runner to smash, and there they were.
If the two officers had a little bit of a tiff out there on the
ice, with the thermometer at eighteen below, only a little dog-sledge
to get them anywhere, their ship a hundred miles off, fourteen days'
travel as they had come, nobody ever knew it; they kept their secret
from us, it is nobody's business, and it is not to be wondered at.
Certainly they did not agree. The Doctor, whose sled, the James
Fitzjames, was still sound, thought they had best leave the stores and
all go back; but the Lieutenant, who had the command, did not like to
give it up, so he took the dogs and the James Fitzjames and its two
men and went on, leaving the Doctor on the floe, but giving him
directions to go back to land with the wounded sledge and wait for him
to return. And the Doctor did it, like a spirited fellow, travelling
back and forth for what he could not take in one journey, as the man
did in the story who had a peck of corn, a goose, and a wolf to get
across the river. Over ice, over hummock, the Lieutenant went on his
way with his dogs, not a bear nor a seal nor a hare nor a wolf to feed
them with; preserved meats, which had been put up with dainty care for
men and women, all he had for the ravenous, tasteless creatures, who
would have been more pleased with blubber, came to Banks Land at last,
but no game there; awful drifts; shut up in the tent for a whole day,
and he himself so sick he could scarcely stand! There were but three of
them in all; and the captain of the sledge not unnaturally asked poor
Pim, when he was at the worst, What shall I do, sir, if you die? Not
a very comforting question!
He did not die. He got a few hours' sleep, felt better and started
again, but had the discouragement of finding such tokens of an open
strait the last year that he felt sure that the ship he was going to
look for would be gone. One morning, he had been off for game for the
dogs unsuccessfully, and, when he came back to his men, learned that
they had seen seventeen deer. After them goes Pim; finds them to be
three hares, magnified by fog and mirage, and their long ears
answering for horns. This same day they got upon the Bay of Mercy. No
ship in sight! Right across it goes the Lieutenant to look for records;
when, at two in the afternoon, Robert Hoile sees something black up the
bay. Through the glass the Lieutenant makes it out to be a ship. They
change their direction at once. Over the ice towards her! He leaves the
sledge at three and goes on. How far it seems! At four he can see
people walking about, and a pile of stones and flag-staff on the beach.
Keep on, Pim: shall one never get there? At five he is within a hundred
yards of her, and no one has seen him. But just then the very persons
see him who ought to! Pim beckons, waves his arms as the Esquimaux do
in sign of friendship. Captain McClure and his lieutenant Haswell are
taking their exercise, the chief business of those winters, and at
last see him! Pim is black as Erebus from the smoke of cooking in the
little tent. McClure owns, not to surprise only, but to a twinge of
dismay. I paused in my advance, says he, doubting who or what it
could be, a denizen of this or the other world. But this only lasts a
moment. Pim speaks. Brave man that he can. How his voice must have
choked, as if he were in a dream. I am Lieutenant Pim, late of
'Herald.' Captain Kellett is at Melville Island. Well-chosen words,
Pim, to be sent in advance over the hundred yards of floe! Nothing
about the Resolute,that would have confused them. But Pim,
Herald, and Kellett were among the last signs of England they had
seen,all this was intelligible. An excellent little speech, which the
brave man had been getting ready, perhaps, as one does a telegraphic
despatch, for the hours that he had been walking over the floe to her.
Then such shaking hands, such a greeting. Poor McClure could not speak
at first. One of the men at work got the news on board; and up through
the hatches poured everybody, sick and well, to see the black stranger,
and to hear his news from England. It was nearly three years since they
had seen any civilized man but themselves.
The 28th of July, three years before, Commander McClure had sent his
last despatch to the Admiralty. He had then prophesied just what in
three years he had almost accomplished. In the winter of 1850 he had
discovered the Northwest Passage. He had come round into one branch of
it, Banks Straits, in the next summer; had gladly taken refuge on the
Bay of Mercy in a gale; and his ship had never left it since. Let it be
said, in passing, that most likely she is there now. In his last
despatches he had told the Admiralty not to be anxious about him if he
did not arrive home before the autumn of 1854. As it proved, that
autumn he did come with all his men, except those whom he had sent home
before, and those who had died. When Pim found them, all the crew but
thirty were under orders for marching, some to Baffin's Bay, some to
the Mackenzie River, on their return to England. McClure was going to
stay with the rest, and come home with the ship, if they could; if not,
by sledges to Port Leopold, and so by a steam-launch which he had seen
left there for Franklin in 1849. But the arrival of Mr. Pim put an end
to all these plans. We have his long despatch to the Admiralty
explaining them, finished only the day before Pim arrived. It gives the
history of his three years' exile from the world,an exile crowded
full of effective work,in a record which gives a noble picture of the
man. The Queen has made him Sir Robert Le Mesurier McClure since, in
honor of his great discovery.
Banks Land, or Baring Island, the two names belong to the same
island, on the shores of which McClure and his men had spent most of
these two years or more, is an island on which they were first of
civilized men to land. For people who are not very particular, the
measurement of it which we gave before, namely, that it is about the
size and shape of Ireland, is precise enough. There is high land in the
interior probably, as the winds from in shore are cold. The crew found
coal and dwarf willow which they could burn; lemmings, ptarmigan,
hares, reindeer, and musk-oxen, which they could eat.
Farewell to the land where I often have wended
My way o'er its mountains and valleys of snow;
Farewell to the rocks and the hills I've ascended,
The bleak arctic homes of the buck and the doe;
Farewell to the deep glens where oft has resounded
The snow-bunting's song, as she carolled her lay
To hillside and plain, by the green sorrel bounded,
Till struck by the blast of a cold winter's day.
There is a bit of description of Banks Land, from the anthology of
that country, which, so far as we know, consists of two poems by a
seaman named Nelson, one of Captain McClure's crew. The highest
temperature ever observed on this gem of the sea was 53° in
midsummer. The lowest was 65° below zero in January, 1853; that day the
thermometer did not rise to 60° below, that month was never warmer than
16° below, and the average of the month was 43° below. A pleasant
climate to spend three years in!
One day for talk was all that could be allowed, after Mr. Pim's
amazing appearance. On the 8th of April, he and his dogs, and Captain
McClure and a party, were ready to return to our friend the Resolute.
They picked up Dr. Domville on the way; he had got the broken sledge
mended, and killed five musk-oxen, against they came along. He went on
in the dog-sledge to tell the news, but McClure and his men kept pace
with them; and he and Dr. Domville had the telling of the news
It was decided that the Investigator should be abandoned, and the
Intrepid and Resolute made room for her men. Glad greeting they
gave them too, as British seamen can give. More than half the crews
were away when the Investigator's parties came in, but by July
everybody had returned. They had found islands where the charts had
guessed there was sea, and sea where they had guessed there was land;
had changed peninsulas into islands and islands into peninsulas. Away
off beyond the seventy-eighth parallel, Mr. McClintock had christened
the farthest dot of land Ireland's Eye, as if his native island were
peering off into the unknown there;a great island, which will be our
farthest now, for years to come, had been named Prince Patrick's
Land, in honor of the baby prince who was the youngest when they left
home. Will he not be tempted, when he is a man, to take a crew, like
another Madoc, and, as younger sons of queens should, go and settle
upon this tempting god-child? They had heard from Sir Edward Belcher's
part of the squadron; they had heard from England; had heard of
everything but Sir John Franklin. They had even found an ale-bottle of
Captain Collinson's expedition,but not a stick nor straw to show
where Franklin or his men had lived or died. Two officers of the
Investigator were sent home to England this summer by a ship from
Beechey Island, the head-quarters; and thus we heard, in October, 1853,
of the discovery of the Northwest Passage.
After their crews were on board again, and the Investigator's
sixty stowed away also, the Resolute and Intrepid had a dreary
summer of it. The ice would not break up. They had hunting-parties on
shore and races on the floe; but the captain could not send the
Investigators home as he wanted to, in his steam tender. All his
plans were made, and made on a manly scale,if only the ice would
open. He built a storehouse on the island for Collinson's people, or
for you, reader, and us, if we should happen there, and stored it well,
and left this record:
This is a house which I have named the 'Sailor's Home,' under the
especial patronage of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty.
Here royal sailors and marines are fed, clothed, and receive
double pay for inhabiting it.
In that house is a little of everything, and a good deal of victuals
and drink; but nobody has been there since the last of the Resolute's
men came away.
At last, the 17th of August, a day of foot-racing and jumping in
bags and wrestling, all hands present, as at a sort of Isthmian
games, ended with a gale, a cracking up of ice, and the
Investigators thought they were on their way home, and Kellett
thought he was to have a month of summer yet. But no; there is nothing
certain in this navigation from one hour to the next. The Resolute
and Intrepid were never really free of ice all that autumn; drove and
drifted to and fro in Barrow's Straits till the 12th of November; and
then froze up, without anchoring, off Cape Cockburn, perhaps one
hundred and forty miles from their harbor of the last winter. The
log-book of that winter is a curious record; the ingenuity of the
officer in charge was well tasked to make one day differ from another.
Each day has the first entry for ship's position thus: In the floe
off Cape Cockburn. And the blank for the second entry, thus: In the
same position. Lectures, theatricals, schools, &c., whiled away the
time; but there could be no autumn travelling parties, and not much
hope for discovery in the summer.
Spring came. The captain went over ice in his little dog-sled to
Beechey Island, and received his directions to abandon his ships. It
appears that he would rather have sent most of his men forward, and
with a small crew brought the Resolute home that autumn or the next.
But Sir Edward Belcher considered his orders peremptory that the
safety of the crews must preclude any idea of extricating the ships.
Both ships were to be abandoned. Two distant travelling parties were
away, one at the Investigator, one looking for traces of Collinson,
which they found. Word was left for them, at a proper point, not to
seek the ship again, but to come on to Beechey Island. And at last,
having fitted the Intrepid's engines so that she could be under steam
in two hours, having stored both ships with equal proportions of
provisions, and made both vessels ready for occupation, the captain
calked down the hatches, and with all the crew he had not sent on
before,forty-two persons in all,left her Monday, the 15th of May,
1854, and started with the sledges for Beechey Island.
Poor old Resolute! All this gay company is gone who have made her
sides split with their laughter. Here is Harlequin's dress, lying in
one of the wardrooms, but there is nobody to dance Harlequin's dances.
Here is a lovely clear day,surely to-day they will come on deck and
take a meridian! No, nobody comes. The sun grows hot on the decks; but
it is all one, nobody looks at the thermometer! And so the poor ship
was left all alone. Such gay times she has had with all these brave
young men on board! Such merry winters, such a lightsome summer! So
much fun, so much nonsense! So much science and wisdom, and now it is
all so still! Is the poor Resolute conscious of the change? Does she
miss the races on the ice, the scientific lecture every Tuesday, the
occasional racket and bustle of the theatre, and the worship of every
Sunday? Has not she shared the hope of Captain Kellett, of McClure, and
of the crew, that she may break out well! She sees the last
sledge leave her. The captain drives off his six dogs,vanishes over
the ice, and they are all gone. Will they not come back again? says
the poor ship. And she looks wistfully across the ice to her little
friend the steam tender Intrepid, and she sees there is no one there.
Intrepid! Intrepid! have they really deserted us? We have served them
so well, and have they really left us alone? A great many were away
travelling last year, but they came home. Will not any of these come
home now? No, poor Resolute! Not one of them ever came back again!
Not one of them meant to. Summer came. August came. No one can tell how
soon, but some day or other this her icy prison broke up, and the good
ship found herself on her own element again; shook herself proudly, we
cannot doubt, nodded joyfully across to the Intrepid, and was free.
But alas! there was no master to take latitude and longitude, no
helmsman at the wheel. In clear letters cast in brass over her helm
there are these words, England expects each man to do his duty. But
here is no man to heed the warning, and the rudder flaps this way and
that way, no longer directing her course, but stupidly swinging to and
fro. And she drifts here and there,drifts out of sight of her little
consort,strands on a bit of ice floe now, and then is swept off from
it,and finds herself, without even the Intrepid's company, alone on
these blue seas with those white shores. But what utter loneliness!
Poor Resolute! She longed for freedom,but what is freedom where
there is no law? What is freedom without a helmsman! And the Resolute
looks back so sadly to the old days when she had a master. And the
short bright summer passes. And again she sees the sun set from her
decks. And now even her topmasts see it set. And now it does not rise
to her deck. And the next day it does not rise to her topmast. Winter
and night together! She has known them before! But now it is winter and
night and loneliness all together. This horrid ice closes up round her
again. And there is no one to bring her into harbor,she is out in the
open sound. If the ice drifts west, she must go west. If it goes east,
she must go east. Her seeming freedom is over, and for that long winter
she is chained again. But her heart is true to old England. And when
she can go east, she is so happy! and when she must go west, she is so
sad! Eastward she does go! Southward she does go! True to the instinct
which sends us all home, she tracks undirected and without a sail
fifteen hundred miles of that sea, without a beacon, which separates
her from her own. And so goes a dismal year. Perhaps another spring
they will come and find me out, and fix things below. It is getting
dreadfully damp down there; and I cannot keep the guns bright and the
floors dry. No, good old Resolute. May and June pass off the next
year, and nobody comes; and here you are all alone out in the bay,
drifting in this dismal pack. July and August,the days are growing
shorter again. Will nobody come and take care of me, and cut off these
horrid blocks of ice, and see to these sides of bacon in the hold, and
all these mouldy sails, and this powder, and the bread and the spirit
that I have kept for them so well? It is September, and the sun begins
to set again. And here is another of those awful gales. Will it be my
very last? I all alone here,who have done so much,and if they would
only take care of me I can do so much more. Will nobody come?
Nobody?... What! Is it ice blink,are my poor old lookouts blind? Is
not there the 'Intrepid'? Dear 'Intrepid,' I will never look down on
you again! No! there is no smoke-stack, it is not the 'Intrepid.' But
it is somebody. Pray see me, good somebody. Are you a Yankee whaler? I
am glad to see the Yankee whalers. I remember the Yankee whalers very
pleasantly. We had a happy summer together once.... It will be dreadful
if they do not see me! But this ice, this wretched ice! They do see
me,I know they see me, but they cannot get at me. Do not go away,
good Yankees; pray come and help me. I know I can get out, if you will
help a little.... But now it is a whole week and they do not come! Are
there any Yankees, or am I getting crazy? I have heard them talk of
crazy old ships, in my young days.... No! I am not crazy. They are
coming! they are coming. Brave Yankees! over the hummocks, down into
the sludge. Do not give it up for the cold. There is coal below, and we
will have a fire in the Sylvester, and in the captain's cabin.... There
is a horrid lane of water. They have not got a Halkett. O, if one of
these boats of mine would only start for them, instead of lying so
stupidly on my deck here! But the men are not afraid of water! See them
ferry over on that ice block! Come on, good friends! Welcome, whoever
you be,Dane, Dutch, French, or Yankee, come on! come on! It is coming
up a gale, but I can bear a gale. Up the side, men. I wish I could let
down the gangway alone. But here are all these blocks of ice piled
up,you can scramble over them! Why do you stop? Do not be afraid. I
will make you very comfortable and jolly. Do not stay talking there.
Pray come in. There is port in the captain's cabin, and a little
preserved meat in the pantry. You must be hungry; pray come in! O, he
is coming, and now all four are coming. It would be dreadful if they
had gone back! They are on deck. Now I shall go home! How lonely it has
It was true enough that when Mr. Quail, the brother of the captain
of the McLellan, whom the Resolute had befriended, the mate of the
George Henry, whaler, whose master, Captain Buddington, had discovered
the Resolute in the ice, came to her after a hard day's journey with
his men, the men faltered with a little superstitious feeling, and
hesitated for a minute about going on board. But the poor lonely ship
wooed them too lovingly, and they climbed over the broken ice and came
on deck. She was lying over on her larboard side, with a heavy weight
of ice holding her down. Hatches and companion were made fast, as
Captain Kellett had left them. But, knocking open the companion,
groping down stairs to the after cabin they found their way to the
captain's table; somebody put his hand on a box of lucifers, struck a
light, and revealedbooks scattered in confusion, a candle standing,
which he lighted at once, the glasses and the decanters from which
Kellett and his officers had drunk good by to the vessel. The whalemen
filled them again, and undoubtedly felt less discouraged. Meanwhile
night came on, and a gale arose. So hard did it blow, that for two days
these four were the whole crew of the Resolute, and it was not till
the 19th of September that they returned to their own ship, and
reported what their prize was.
All these ten days, since Captain Buddington had first seen her, the
vessels had been nearing each other. On the 19th he boarded her
himself; found that in her hold, on the larboard side, was a good deal
of ice; on the starboard side there seemed to be water. In fact, her
tanks had burst from the extreme cold; and she was full of water,
nearly to her lower deck. Everything that could move from its place had
moved; everything was wet; everything that would mould was mouldy. A
sort of perspiration settled on the beams above. Clothes were wringing
wet. The captain's party made a fire in Captain Kellett's stove, and
soon started a sort of shower from the vapor with which it filled the
air. The Resolute has, however, four fine force-pumps. For three days
the captain and six men worked fourteen hours a day on one of these,
and had the pleasure of finding that they freed her of water,that she
was tight still. They cut away upon the masses of ice; and on the 23d
of September, in the evening, she freed herself from her encumbrances,
and took an even keel. This was off the west shore of Baffin's Bay, in
latitude 67°. On the shortest tack she was twelve hundred miles from
where Captain Kellett left her.
There was work enough still to be done. The rudder was to be
shipped, the rigging to be made taut, sail to be set; and it proved, by
the way, that the sail on the yards was much of it still serviceable,
while a suit of new linen sails below were greatly injured by moisture.
In a week more they had her ready to make sail. The pack of ice still
drifted with both ships; but on the 21st of October, after a long
northwest gale, the Resolute was free,more free than she had been
for more than two years.
Her last voyage is almost told. Captain Buddington had resolved to
bring her home. He had picked ten men from the George Henry, leaving
her fifteen, and with a rough tracing of the American coast drawn on a
sheet of foolscap, with his lever watch and a quadrant for his
instruments, he squared off for New London. A rough, hard passage they
had of it. The ship's ballast was gone, by the bursting of the tanks;
she was top-heavy and under manned. He spoke a British whaling bark,
and by her sent to Captain Kellett his epaulettes, and to his own
owners news that he was coming. They had heavy gales and head winds,
were driven as far down as the Bermudas; the water left in the ship's
tanks was brackish, and it needed all the seasoning which the ship's
chocolate would give to make it drinkable. For sixty hours at a time,
says the spirited captain, I frequently had no sleep; but his
perseverance was crowned with success at last, and on the night of the
23d-24th of December he made the light off the magnificent harbor from
which he sailed; and on Sunday morning, the 24th, dropped anchor in the
Thames, opposite New London, ran up the royal ensign on the
shorn masts of the Resolute, and the good people of the town knew
that he and his were safe, and that one of the victories of peace was
As the fine ship lies opposite the piers of that beautiful town, she
attracts visitors from everywhere, and is, indeed, a very remarkable
curiosity. Seals were at once placed, and very properly, on the
captain's book-cases, lockers, and drawers, and wherever private
property might be injured by wanton curiosity, and two keepers are on
duty on the vessel, till her destination is decided. But nothing is
changed from what she was when she came into harbor. And, from stem to
stern, every detail of her equipment is a curiosity, to the sailor or
to the landsman. The candlestick in the cabin is not like a Yankee
candlestick. The hawse hole for the chain cable is fitted as has not
been seen before. And so of everything between. There is the aspect of
wet over everything now, after months of ventilation;the rifles,
which were last fired at musk-oxen in Melville Island, are red with
rust, as if they had lain in the bottom of the sea; the volume of
Shakespeare, which you find in an officer's berth, has a damp feel, as
if you had been reading it in the open air in a March north-easter. The
old seamen look with most amazement, perhaps, on the preparations for
amusement,the juggler's cups and balls, or Harlequin's spangled
dress; the quiet landsman wonders at the gigantic ice-saws, at the
cast-off canvas boots, the long thick Arctic stockings. It seems almost
wrong to go into Mr. Hamilton's wardroom, and see how he arranged his
soap-cup and his tooth-brush; and one does not tell of it, if he finds
on a blank leaf the secret prayer a sister wrote down for the brother
to whom she gave a prayer-book. There is a good deal of disorder
now,thanks to her sudden abandonment, and perhaps to her three
months' voyage home. A little union-jack lies over a heap of unmended
and unwashed underclothes; when Kellett left the ship, he left his
country's flag over his arm-chair as if to keep possession. Two
officers' swords and a pair of epaulettes were on the cabin table.
Indeed, what is there not there,which should make an Arctic winter
endurable,make a long night into day,or while long days away?
The ship is stanch and sound. The last voyage which we have
described will not, let us hope, be the last voyage of her career. But
wherever she goes, under the English flag or under our own, she will
scarcely ever crowd more adventure into one cruise than into that which
sealed the discovery of the Northwest Passage; which gave new lands to
England, nearest to the pole of all she has; which spent more than a
year, no man knows where, self-governed and unguided; and which, having
begun under the strict régime of the English navy, ended under
the remarkable mutual rules, adopted by common consent, in the business
of American whalemen.
Is it not worth noting that in this chivalry of Arctic adventure,
the ships which have been wrecked have been those of the fight or
horror? They are the Fury, the Victory, the Erebus, the Terror.
But the ships which never failed their crews,which, for all that man
knows, are as sound now as ever,bear the names of peaceful adventure;
the Hecla, the Enterprise, and Investigator, the Assistance and
Resolute, the Pioneer and Intrepid, and our Advance and
Rescue and Arctic, never threatened any one, even in their names.
And they never failed the men who commanded them or who sailed in them.
 Tetrao lagopus.
MY DOUBLE, AND HOW HE UNDID ME
ONE OF THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[A Boston journal, in noticing this story, called it improbable
think it is. But I think the moral important. It was first
published in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 1859.]
It is not often that I trouble the readers of the Atlantic Monthly.
I should not trouble them now, but for the importunities of my wife,
who feels to insist that a duty to society is unfulfilled, till I
have told why I had to have a double, and how he undid me. She is sure,
she says, that intelligent persons cannot understand that pressure upon
public servants which alone drives any man into the employment of a
double. And while I fear she thinks, at the bottom of her heart, that
my fortunes will never be remade, she has a faint hope that, as another
Rasselas, I may teach a lesson to future publics, from which they may
profit, though we die. Owing to the behavior of my double, or, if you
please, to that public pressure which compelled me to employ him, I
have plenty of leisure to write this communication.
I am, or rather was, a minister, of the Sandemanian connection. I
was settled in the active, wide-awake town of Naguadavick, on one of
the finest water-powers in Maine. We used to call it a Western town in
the heart of the civilization of New England. A charming place it was
and is. A spirited, brave young parish had I; and it seemed as if we
might have all the joy of eventful living to our heart's content.
Alas! how little we knew on the day of my ordination, and in those
halcyon moments of our first housekeeping! To be the confidential
friend in a hundred families in the town,cutting the social trifle,
as my friend Haliburton says, from the top of the whipped syllabub to
the bottom of the sponge-cake, which is the foundation,to keep
abreast of the thought of the age in one's study, and to do one's best
on Sunday to interweave that thought with the active life of an active
town, and to inspirit both and make both infinite by glimpses of the
Eternal Glory, seemed such an exquisite forelook into one's life!
Enough to do, and all so real and so grand! If this vision could only
The truth is, that this vision was not in itself a delusion, nor,
indeed, half bright enough. If one could only have been left to do his
own business, the vision would have accomplished itself and brought out
new paraheliacal visions, each as bright as the original. The misery
was and is, as we found out, I and Polly, before long, that besides the
vision, and besides the usual human and finite failures in life (such
as breaking the old pitcher that came over in the Mayflower, and
putting into the fire the Alpenstock with which her father climbed Mont
Blanc),besides these, I say (imitating the style of Robinson Crusoe),
there were pitchforked in on us a great rowen-heap of humbugs, handed
down from some unknown seed-time, in which we were expected, and I
chiefly, to fulfil certain public functions before the community, of
the character of those fulfilled by the third row of supernumeraries
who stand behind the Sepoys in the spectacle of the Cataract of the
Ganges. They were the duties, in a word, which one performs as member
of one or another social class or subdivision, wholly distinct from
what one does as A. by himself A. What invisible power put these
functions on me, it would be very hard to tell. But such power there
was and is. And I had not been at work a year before I found I was
living two lives, one real and one merely functional,for two sets of
people, one my parish, whom I loved, and the other a vague public, for
whom I did not care two straws. All this was in a vague notion, which
everybody had and has, that this second life would eventually bring out
some great results, unknown at present, to somebody somewhere.
Crazed by this duality of life, I first read Dr. Wigan on the
Duality of the Brain, hoping that I could train one side of my head
to do these outside jobs, and the other to do my intimate and real
duties. For Richard Greenough once told me, that, in studying for the
statue of Franklin, he found that the left side of the great man's face
was philosophic and reflective, and the right side funny and smiling.
If you will go and look at the bronze statue, you will find he has
repeated this observation there for posterity. The eastern profile is
the portrait of the statesman Franklin, the western of poor Richard.
But Dr. Wigan does not go into these niceties of this subject, and I
failed. It was then that, on my wife's suggestion, I resolved to look
out for a Double.
I was, at first, singularly successful. We happened to be recreating
at Stafford Springs that summer. We rode out one day, for one of the
relaxations of that watering-place, to the great Monson Poorhouse. We
were passing through one of the large halls, when my destiny was
He was not shaven. He had on no spectacles. He was dressed in a
green baize roundabout and faded blue overalls, worn sadly at the knee.
But I saw at once that he was of my height, five feet four and a half.
He had black hair, worn off by his hat. So have and have not I. He
stooped in walking. So do I. His hands were large, and mine.
Andchoicest gift of Fate in allhe had, not a strawberry-mark on
his left arm, but a cut from a juvenile brickbat over his right eye,
slightly affecting the play of that eyebrow. Reader, so have I! My fate
A word with Mr. Holley, one of the inspectors, settled the whole
thing. It proved that this Dennis Shea was a harmless, amiable fellow,
of the class known as shiftless, who had sealed his fate by marrying a
dumb wife, who was at that moment ironing in the laundry. Before I left
Stafford, I had hired both for five years. We had applied to Judge
Pynchon, then the probate judge at Springfield, to change the name of
Dennis Shea to Frederic Ingham. We had explained to the Judge, what was
the precise truth, that an eccentric gentleman wished to adopt Dennis,
under this new name, into his family. It never occurred to him that
Dennis might be more than fourteen years old. And thus, to shorten this
preface, when we returned at night to my parsonage at Naguadavick,
there entered Mrs. Ingham, her new dumb laundress, myself, who am Mr.
Frederic Ingham, and my double, who was Mr. Frederic Ingham by as good
right as I.
O the fun we had the next morning in shaving his beard to my
pattern, cutting his hair to match mine, and teaching him how to wear
and how to take off gold-bowed spectacles! Really, they were
electro-plate, and the glass was plain (for the poor fellow's eyes were
excellent). Then in four successive afternoons I taught him four
speeches. I had found these would be quite enough for the
supernumerary-Sepoy line of life, and it was well for me they were; for
though he was good-natured, he was very shiftless, and it was, as our
national proverb says, like pulling teeth to teach him. But at the
end of the next week he could say, with quite my easy and frisky air,
1. Very well, thank you. And you? This for an answer to casual
2. I am very glad you liked it.
3. There has been so much said, and, on the whole, so well said,
that I will not occupy the time.
4. I agree, in general, with my friend the other side of the room.
At first I had a feeling that I was going to be at great cost for
clothing him. But it proved, of course, at once, that, whenever he was
out, I should be at home. And I went, during the bright period of his
success, to so few of those awful pageants which require a black
dress-coat and what the ungodly call, after Mr. Dickens, a white
choker, that in the happy retreat of my own dressing-gowns and jackets
my days went by as happily and cheaply as those of another Thalaba. And
Polly declares there was never a year when the tailoring cost so
little. He lived (Dennis, not Thalaba) in his wife's room over the
kitchen. He had orders never to show himself at that window. When he
appeared in the front of the house, I retired to my sanctissimum and my
dressing-gown. In short, the Dutchman and his wife, in the old
weather-box, had not less to do with each other than he and I. He made
the furnace-fire and split the wood before daylight; then he went to
sleep again, and slept late; then came for orders, with a red silk
bandanna tied round his head, with his overalls on, and his dress-coat
and spectacles off. If we happened to be interrupted, no one guessed
that he was Frederic Ingham as well as I; and, in the neighborhood,
there grew up an impression that the minister's Irishman worked
daytimes in the factory-village at New Coventry. After I had given him
his orders, I never saw him till the next day.
I launched him by sending him to a meeting of the Enlightenment
Board. The Enlightenment Board consists of seventy-four members, of
whom sixty-seven are necessary to form a quorum. One becomes a member
under the regulations laid down in old Judge Dudley's will. I became
one by being ordained pastor of a church in Naguadavick. You see you
cannot help yourself, if you would. At this particular time we had had
four successive meetings, averaging four hours each,wholly occupied
in whipping in a quorum. At the first only eleven men were present; at
the next, by force of three circulars, twenty-seven; at the third,
thanks to two days' canvassing by Auchmuty and myself, begging men to
come, we had sixty. Half the others were in Europe. But without a
quorum we could do nothing. All the rest of us waited grimly for our
four hours, and adjourned without any action. At the fourth meeting we
had flagged, and only got fifty-nine together. But on the first
appearance of my double,whom I sent on this fatal Monday to the fifth
meeting,he was the sixty-seventh man who entered the room. He
was greeted with a storm of applause! The poor fellow had missed his
way,read the street signs ill through his spectacles (very ill, in
fact, without them),and had not dared to inquire. He entered the
room,finding the president and secretary holding to their chairs two
judges of the Supreme Court, who were also members ex officio,
and were begging leave to go away. On his entrance all was changed.
Presto, the by-laws were suspended, and the Western property was
given away. Nobody stopped to converse with him. He voted, as I had
charged him to do, in every instance, with the minority. I won new
laurels as a man of sense, though a little unpunctual,and Dennis,
alias Ingham, returned to the parsonage, astonished to see with how
little wisdom the world is governed. He cut a few of my parishioners in
the street; but he had his glasses off, and I am known to be
near-sighted. Eventually he recognized them more readily than I.
I set him again at the exhibition of the New Coventry Academy; and
here he undertook a speaking part,as, in my boyish, worldly days, I
remember the bills used to say of Mlle. Celeste. We are all trustees of
the New Coventry Academy; and there has lately been a good deal of
feeling because the Sandemanian trustees did not regularly attend the
exhibitions. It has been intimated, indeed, that the Sandemanians are
leaning towards Free-Will, and that we have, therefore, neglected these
semiannual exhibitions, while there is no doubt that Auchmuty last year
went to Commencement at Waterville. Now the head master at New Coventry
is a real good fellow, who knows a Sanskrit root when he sees it, and
often cracks etymologies with me,so that, in strictness, I ought to
go to their exhibitions. But think, reader, of sitting through three
long July days in that Academy chapel, following the programme from
TUESDAY MORNING. English Composition. SUNSHINE. Miss
Trio on Three Pianos. Duel from the Opera of Midshipman
coming in at nine, Thursday evening! Think of this, reader, for men
who know the world is trying to go backward, and who would give their
lives if they could help it on! Well! The double had succeeded so well
at the Board, that I sent him to the Academy. (Shade of Plato, pardon!)
He arrived early on Tuesday, when, indeed, few but mothers and
clergymen are generally expected, and returned in the evening to us,
covered with honors. He had dined at the right hand of the chairman,
and he spoke in high terms of the repast. The chairman had expressed
his interest in the French conversation. I am very glad you liked it,
said Dennis; and the poor chairman, abashed, supposed the accent had
been wrong. At the end of the day, the gentlemen present had been
called upon for speeches,the Rev. Frederic Ingham first, as it
happened; upon which Dennis had risen, and had said, There has been so
much said, and, on the whole, so well said, that I will not occupy the
time. The girls were delighted, because Dr. Dabney, the year before,
had given them at this occasion a scolding on impropriety of behavior
at lyceum lectures. They all declared Mr. Ingliam was a love,and
so handsome! (Dennis is good-looking.) Three of them, with arms
behind the others' waists, followed him up to the wagon he rode home
in; and a little girl with a blue sash had been sent to give him a
rosebud. After this début in speaking, he went to the exhibition
for two days more, to the mutual satisfaction of all concerned. Indeed,
Polly reported that he had pronounced the trustees' dinners of a higher
grade than those of the parsonage. When the next term began, I found
six of the Academy girls had obtained permission to come across the
river and attend our church. But this arrangement did not long
After this he went to several Commencements for me, and ate the
dinners provided; he sat through three of our Quarterly Conventions for
me,always voting judiciously, by the simple rule mentioned above, of
siding with the minority. And I, meanwhile, who had before been losing
caste among my friends, as holding myself aloof from the associations
of the body, began to rise in everybody's favor. Ingham's a good
fellow,always on hand; never talks much, but does the right thing
at the right time; is not as unpunctual as he used to be,he comes
early, and sits through to the end. He has got over his old talkative
habit, too. I spoke to a friend of his about it once; and I think
Ingham took it kindly, etc., etc.
This voting power of Dennis was particularly valuable at the
quarterly meetings of the proprietors of the Naguadavick Ferry. My wife
inherited from her father some shares in that enterprise, which is not
yet fully developed, though it doubtless will become a very valuable
property. The law of Maine then forbade stockholders to appear by proxy
at such meetings. Polly disliked to go, not being, in fact, a
hens'-rights hen, transferred her stock to me. I, after going once,
disliked it more than she. But Dennis went to the next meeting, and
liked it very much. He said the arm-chairs were good, the collation
good, and the free rides to stockholders pleasant. He was a little
frightened when they first took him upon one of the ferry-boats, but
after two or three quarterly meetings he became quite brave.
Thus far I never had any difficulty with him. Indeed, being, as I
implied, of that type which is called shiftless, he was only too happy
to be told daily what to do, and to be charged not to be forthputting
or in any way original in his discharge of that duty. He learned,
however, to discriminate between the lines of his life, and very much
preferred these stockholders' meetings and trustees' dinners and
Commencement collations to another set of occasions, from which he used
to beg off most piteously. Our excellent brother, Dr. Fillmore, had
taken a notion at this time that our Sandemanian churches needed more
expression of mutual sympathy. He insisted upon it that we were remiss.
He said, that, if the Bishop came to preach at Naguadavick, all the
Episcopal clergy of the neighborhood were present; if Dr. Pond came,
all the Congregational clergymen turned out to hear him; if Dr.
Nichols, all the Unitarians; and he thought we owed it to each other,
that, whenever there was an occasional service at a Sandemanian church,
the other brethren should all, if possible, attend. It looked well,
if nothing more. Now this really meant that I had not been to hear one
of Dr. Fillmore's lectures on the Ethnology of Religion. He forgot that
he did not hear one of my course on the Sandemanianism of Anselm. But
I felt badly when he said it; and afterwards I always made Dennis go to
hear all the brethren preach, when I was not preaching myself. This was
what he took exceptions to,the only thing, as I said, which he ever
did except to. Now came the advantage of his long morning-nap, and of
the green tea with which Polly supplied the kitchen. But he would
plead, so humbly, to be let off, only from one or two! I never excepted
him, however. I knew the lectures were of value, and I thought it best
he should be able to keep the connection.
Polly is more rash than I am, as the reader has observed in the
outset of this memoir. She risked Dennis one night under the eyes of
her own sex. Governor Gorges had always been very kind to us, and, when
he gave his great annual party to the town, asked us. I confess I hated
to go. I was deep in the new volume of Pfeiffer's Mystics, which
Haliburton had just sent me from Boston. But how rude, said Polly,
not to return the Governor's civility and Mrs. Gorges's, when they
will be sure to ask why you are away! Still I demurred, and at last
she, with the wit of Eve and of Semiramis conjoined, let me off by
saying that, if I would go in with her, and sustain the initial
conversations with the Governor and the ladies staying there, she would
risk Dennis for the rest of the evening. And that was just what we did.
She took Dennis in training all that afternoon, instructed him in
fashionable conversation, cautioned him against the temptations of the
supper-table,and at nine in the evening he drove us all down in the
carryall. I made the grand star-entrée with Polly and the pretty
Walton girls, who were staying with us. We had put Dennis into a great
rough top-coat, without his glasses; and the girls never dreamed, in
the darkness, of looking at him. He sat in the carriage, at the door,
while we entered. I did the agreeable to Mrs. Gorges, was introduced to
her niece, Miss Fernanda; I complimented Judge Jeffries on his decision
in the great case of D'Aulnay vs. Laconia Mining Company; I
stepped into the dressing-room for a moment, stepped out for another,
walked home after a nod with Dennis and tying the horse to a pump; and
while I walked home, Mr. Frederic Ingham, my double, stepped in through
the library into the Gorges's grand saloon.
Oh! Polly died of laughing as she told me of it at midnight! And
even here, where I have to teach my hands to hew the beech for stakes
to fence our cave, she dies of laughing as she recalls it,and says
that single occasion was worth all we have paid for it. Gallant Eve
that she is! She joined Dennis at the library-door, and in an instant
presented him to Dr. Ochterlony, from Baltimore, who was on a visit in
town, and was talking with her as Dennis came in. Mr. Ingham would
like to hear what you were telling us about your success among the
German population. And Dennis bowed and said, in spite of a scowl from
Polly, I'm very glad you liked it. But Dr. Ochterlony did not
observe, and plunged into the tide of explanation; Dennis listened like
a prime-minister, and bowing like a mandarin, which is, I suppose, the
same thing. Polly declared it was just like Haliburton's Latin
conversation with the Hungarian minister, of which he is very fond of
telling. Quæne sit historia Reformationis in Ungariâ? quoth
Haliburton, after some thought. And his confrère replied
gallantly, In seculo decimo tertio, etc., etc., etc.; and from
decimo tertio to the nineteenth century and a half lasted till
the oysters came. So was it that before Dr. Ochterlony came to the
success, or near it, Governor Gorges came to Dennis, and asked him to
hand Mrs. Jeffries down to supper, a request which he heard with great
Polly was skipping round the room, I guess, gay as a lark. Auchmuty
came to her in pity for poor Ingham, who was so bored by the stupid
pundit,and Auchmuty could not understand why I stood it so long. But
when Dennis took Mrs. Jeffries down, Polly could not resist standing
near them. He was a little flustered, till the sight of the eatables
and drinkables gave him the same Mercian courage which it gave Diggory.
A little excited then, he attempted one or two of his speeches to the
Judge's lady. But little he knew how hard it was to get in even a
promptu there edgewise. Very well, I thank you, said he, after
the eating elements were adjusted; and you? And then did not he have
to hear about the mumps, and the measles, and arnica, and belladonna,
and chamomile-flower, and dodecatheon, till she changed oysters for
salad; and then about the old practice and the new, and what her sister
said, and what her sister's friend said, and what the physician to her
sister's friend said, and then what was said by the brother of the
sister of the physician of the friend of her sister, exactly as if it
had been in Ollendorff? There was a moment's pause, as she declined
Champagne. I am very glad you liked it, said Dennis again, which he
never should have said but to one who complimented a sermon. Oh! you
are so sharp, Mr. Ingham! No! I never drink any wine at all,except
sometimes in summer a little currant shrub,from our own currants, you
know. My own mother,that is, I call her my own mother, because, you
know, I do not remember, etc., etc., etc.; till they came to the
candied orange at the end of the feast, when Dennis, rather confused,
thought he must say something, and tried No. 4,I agree, in general,
with my friend the other side of the room,which he never should have
said but at a public meeting. But Mrs. Jeffries, who never listens
expecting to understand, caught him up instantly with Well, I'm sure
my husband returns the compliment; he always agrees with you,though
we do worship with the Methodists; but you know, Mr. Ingham, etc.,
etc., etc., till the move up-stairs; and as Dennis led her through the
hall, he was scarcely understood by any but Polly, as he said, There
has been so much said, and, on the whole, so well said, that I will not
occupy the time.
His great resource the rest of the evening was standing in the
library, carrying on animated conversations with one and another in
much the same way. Polly had initiated him in the mysteries of a
discovery of mine, that it is not necessary to finish your sentences in
a crowd, but by a sort of mumble, omitting sibilants and dentals. This,
indeed, if your words fail you, answers even in public extempore
speech, but better where other talking is going on. Thus: We missed
you at the Natural History Society, Ingham. Ingham replies, I am very
gligloglum, that is, that you were mmmmm. By gradually dropping the
voice, the interlocutor is compelled to supply the answer. Mrs.
Ingham, I hope your friend Augusta is better. Augusta has not been
ill. Polly cannot think of explaining, however, and answers, Thank
you, Ma'am; she is very rearason wewahwewoh, in lower and lower tones.
And Mrs. Throckmorton, who forgot the subject of which she spoke as
soon as she asked the question, is quite satisfied. Dennis could see
into the card-room, and came to Polly to ask if he might not go and
play all-fours. But, of course, she sternly refused. At midnight they
came home delighted,Polly, as I said, wild to tell me the story of
the victory; only both the pretty Walton girls said, Cousin Frederic,
you did not come near me all the evening.
We always called him Dennis at home, for convenience, though his
real name was Frederic Ingham, as I have explained. When the
election-day came round, however, I found that by some accident there
was only one Frederic Ingham's name on the voting-list; and as I was
quite busy that day in writing some foreign letters to Halle, I thought
I would forego my privilege of suffrage, and stay quietly at home,
telling Dennis that he might use the record on the voting-list, and
vote. I gave him a ticket, which I told him he might use, if he liked
to. That was that very sharp election in Maine which the readers of the
Atlantic so well remember, and it had been intimated in public that the
ministers would do well not to appear at the polls. Of course, after
that, we had to appear by self or proxy. Still, Naguadavick was not
then a city, and this standing in a double queue at town-meeting
several hours to vote was a bore of the first water; and so when I
found that there was but one Frederic Ingham on the list, and that one
of us must give up, I stayed at home and finished the letters (which,
indeed, procured for Fothergill his coveted appointment of Professor of
Astronomy at Leavenworth), and I gave Dennis, as we called him, the
chance. Something in the matter gave a good deal of popularity to the
Frederic Ingham name; and at the adjourned election, next week,
Frederic Ingham was chosen to the legislature. Whether this was I or
Dennis I never really knew. My friends seemed to think it was I; but I
felt that as Dennis had done the popular thing, he was entitled to the
honor; so I sent him to Augusta when the time came, and he took the
oaths. And a very valuable member he made. They appointed him on the
Committee on Parishes; but I wrote a letter for him, resigning, on the
ground that he took an interest in our claim to the stumpage in the
minister's sixteenths of Gore A, next No. 7, in the 10th Range. He
never made any speeches, and always voted with the minority, which was
what he was sent to do. He made me and himself a great many good
friends, some of whom I did not afterwards recognize as quickly as
Dennis did my parishioners. On one or two occasions, when there was
wood to saw at home, I kept him at home; but I took those occasions to
go to Augusta myself. Finding myself often in his vacant seat at these
times, I watched the proceedings with a good deal of care; and once was
so much excited that I delivered my somewhat celebrated speech on the
Central School-District question, a speech of which the State of
Maine printed some extra copies. I believe there is no formal rule
permitting strangers to speak; but no one objected.
Dennis himself, as I said, never spoke at all. But our experience
this session led me to think that if, by some such general
understanding as the reports speak of in legislation daily, every
member of Congress might leave a double to sit through those deadly
sessions and answer to roll-calls and do the legitimate party-voting,
which appears stereotyped in the regular list of Ashe, Bocock, Black,
etc., we should gain decidedly in working-power. As things stand, the
saddest State prison I ever visit is that Representatives' Chamber in
Washington. If a man leaves for an hour, twenty correspondents may be
howling, Where was Mr. Pendergrast when the Oregon bill passed? And
if poor Pendergrast stays there! Certainly the worst use you can make
of a man is to put him in prison!
I know, indeed, that public men of the highest rank have resorted to
this expedient long ago. Dumas's novel of the Iron Mask turns on the
brutal imprisonment of Louis the Fourteenth's double. There seems
little doubt, in our own history, that it was the real General Pierce
who shed tears when the delegate from Lawrence explained to him the
sufferings of the people there, and only General Pierce's double who
had given the orders for the assault on that town, which was invaded
the next day. My charming friend, George Withers, has, I am almost
sure, a double, who preaches his afternoon sermons for him. This is the
reason that the theology often varies so from that of the forenoon. But
that double is almost as charming as the original. Some of the most
well-defined men, who stand out most prominently on the background of
history, are in this way stereoscopic men, who owe their distinct
relief to the slight differences between the doubles. All this I know.
My present suggestion is simply the great extension of the system, so
that all public machine-work may be done by it.
But I see I loiter on my story, which is rushing to the plunge. Let
me stop an instant more, however, to recall, were it only to myself,
that charming year while all was yet well. After the double had become
a matter of course, for nearly twelve months before he undid me, what a
year it was! Full of active life, full of happy love, of the hardest
work, of the sweetest sleep, and the fulfilment of so many of the fresh
aspirations and dreams of boyhood! Dennis went to every
school-committee meeting, and sat through all those late wranglings
which used to keep me up till midnight and awake till morning. He
attended all the lectures to which foreign exiles sent me tickets
begging me to come for the love of Heaven and of Bohemia. He accepted
and used all the tickets for charity concerts which were sent to me. He
appeared everywhere where it was specially desirable that our
denomination, or our party, or our class, or our family, or our
street, or our town, or our country, or our State, should be
fully represented. And I fell back to that charming life which in
boyhood one dreams of, when he supposes he shall do his own duty and
make his own sacrifices, without being tied up with those of other
people. My rusty Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French,
Italian, Spanish, German, and English began to take polish. Heavens!
how little I had done with them while I attended to my public
duties! My calls on my parishioners became the friendly, frequent,
homelike sociabilities they were meant to be, instead of the hard work
of a man goaded to desperation by the sight of his lists of arrears.
And preaching! what a luxury preaching was when I had on Sunday the
whole result of an individual, personal week, from which to speak to a
people whom all that week I had been meeting as hand-to-hand
friend;I, never tired on Sunday, and in condition to leave the sermon
at home if I chose, and preach it extempore, as all men should do
always. Indeed, I wonder, when I think that a sensible people, like
ours,really more attached to their clergy than they were in the lost
days, when the Mathers and Nortons were noblemen,should choose to
neutralize so much of their ministers' lives, and destroy so much of
their early training, by this undefined passion for seeing them in
public. It springs from our balancing of sects. If a spirited
Episcopalian takes an interest in the almshouse, and is put on the Poor
Board, every other denomination must have a minister there, lest the
poorhouse be changed into St. Paul's Cathedral. If a Sandemanian is
chosen president of the Young Men's Library, there must be a Methodist
vice-president and a Baptist secretary. And if a Universalist
Sunday-School Convention collects five hundred delegates, the next
Congregationalist Sabbath-School Conference must be as large, lest
'they'whoever they may beshould think 'we'whoever we
may beare going down.
Freed from these necessities, that happy year I began to know my
wife by sight. We saw each other sometimes. In those long mornings,
when Dennis was in the study explaining to map-peddlers that I had
eleven maps of Jerusalem already, and to school-book agents that I
would see them hanged before I would be bribed to introduce their
text-books into the schools,she and I were at work together, as in
those old dreamy days,and in these of our log-cabin again. But all
this could not last,and at length poor Dennis, my double, overtasked
in turn, undid me.
It was thus it happened. There is an excellent fellow, once a
minister,I will call him Isaacs,who deserves well of the world till
he dies, and after, because he once, in a real exigency, did the right
thing, in the right way, at the right time, as no other man could do
it. In the world's great football match, the ball by chance found him
loitering on the outside of the field; he closed with it, camped it,
charged it home,yes, right through the other side,not disturbed,
not frightened by his own success,and breathless found himself a
great man, as the Great Delta rang applause. But he did not find
himself a rich man; and the football has never come in his way again.
From that moment to this moment he has been of no use, that one can see
at all. Still, for that great act we speak of Isaacs gratefully and
remember him kindly; and he forges on, hoping to meet the football
somewhere again. In that vague hope, he had arranged a movement for a
general organization of the human family into Debating-Clubs, County
Societies, State Unions, etc., etc., with a view of inducing all
children to take hold of the handles of their knives and forks, instead
of the metal. Children have bad habits in that way. The movement, of
course, was absurd; but we all did our best to forward, not it, but
him. It came time for the annual county-meeting on this subject to be
held at Naguadavick. Isaacs came round, good fellow! to arrange for
it,got the town-hall, got the Governor to preside (the saint!he
ought to have triplet doubles provided him by law), and then came to
get me to speak. No, I said, I would not speak, if ten Governors
presided. I do not believe in the enterprise. If I spoke, it should be
to say children should take hold of the prongs of the forks and the
blades of the knives. I would subscribe ten dollars, but I would not
speak a mill. So poor Isaacs went his way sadly, to coax Auchmuty to
speak, and Delafield. I went out. Not long after he came back, and told
Polly that they had promised to speak, the Governor would speak, and he
himself would close with the quarterly report, and some interesting
anecdotes regarding Miss Biffin's way of handling her knife and Mr.
Nellis's way of footing his fork. Now if Mr. Ingham will only come and
sit on the platform, he need not say one word; but it will show well in
the paper,it will show that the Sandemanians take as much interest in
the movement as the Armenians or the Mesopotamians, and will be a great
favor to me. Polly, good soul! was tempted, and she promised. She knew
Mrs. Isaacs was starving, and the babies,she knew Dennis was at
home,and she promised! Night came, and I returned. I heard her story.
I was sorry. I doubted. But Polly had promised to beg me, and I dared
all! I told Dennis to hold his peace, under all circumstances, and sent
It was not half an hour more before he returned, wild with
excitement,in a perfect Irish fury,which it was long before I
understood. But I knew at once that he had undone me!
What happened was this. The audience got together, attracted by
Governor Gorges's name. There were a thousand people. Poor Gorges was
late from Augusta. They became impatient. He came in direct from the
train at last, really ignorant of the object of the meeting. He opened
it in the fewest possible words, and said other gentlemen were present
who would entertain them better than he. The audience were
disappointed, but waited. The Governor, prompted by Isaacs, said, The
Honorable Mr. Delafield will address you. Delafield had forgotten the
knives and forks, and was playing the Ruy Lopez opening at the
chess-club. The Rev. Mr. Auchmuty will address you. Auchmuty had
promised to speak late, and was at the school-committee. I see Dr.
Stearns in the hall; perhaps he will say a word. Dr. Stearns said he
had come to listen and not to speak. The Governor and Isaacs whispered.
The Governor looked at Dennis, who was resplendent on the platform; but
Isaacs, to give him his due, shook his head. But the look was enough. A
miserable lad, ill-bred, who had once been in Boston, thought it would
sound well to call for me, and peeped out, Ingham! A few more
wretches cried, Ingham! Ingham! Still Isaacs was firm; but the
Governor, anxious, indeed, to prevent a row, knew I would say some
thing, and said, Our friend Mr. Ingham is always prepared; and, though
we had not relied upon him, he will say a word perhaps. Applause
followed, which turned Dennis's head. He rose, fluttered, and tried No.
3: There has been so much said, and, on the whole, so well said, that
I will not longer occupy the time! and sat down, looking for his hat;
for things seemed squally. But the people cried, Go on! go on! and
some applauded. Dennis, still confused, but flattered by the applause,
to which neither he nor I are used, rose again, and this time tried No.
2: I am very glad you liked it! in a sonorous, clear delivery. My
best friends stared. All the people who did not know me personally
yelled with delight at the aspect of the evening; the Governor was
beside himself, and poor Isaacs thought he was undone! Alas, it was I!
A boy in the gallery cried in a loud tone, It's all an infernal
humbug, just as Dennis, waving his hand, commanded silence, and tried
No. 4: I agree, in general, with my friend the other side of the
room. The poor Governor doubted his senses and crossed to stop
him,not in time, however The same gallery-boy shouted, How's your
mother? and Dennis, now completely lost, tried, as his last shot, No.
1, vainly: Very well, thank you; and you?
I think I must have been undone already. But Dennis, like another
Lockhard, chose to make sicker. The audience rose in a whirl of
amazement, rage, and sorrow. Some other impertinence, aimed at Dennis,
broke all restraint, and, in pure Irish, he delivered himself of an
address to the gallery, inviting any person who wished to fight to come
down and do so,stating, that they were all dogs and cowards and the
sons of dogs and cowards,that he would take any five of them
single-handed. Shure, I have said all his Riverence and the Misthress
bade me say, cried he, in defiance; and, seizing the Governor's cane
from his hand, brandished it, quarter-staff fashion, above his head. He
was, indeed, got from the hall only with the greatest difficulty by the
Governor, the City Marshal, who had been called in, and the
Superintendent of my Sunday-School.
The universal impression, of course, was, that the Rev. Frederic
Ingham had lost all command of himself in some of those haunts of
intoxication which for fifteen years I have been laboring to destroy.
Till this moment, indeed, that is the impression in Naguadavick. This
number of the Atlantic will relieve from it a hundred friends of mine
who have been sadly wounded by that notion now for years; but I shall
not be likely ever to show my head there again.
No! My double has undone me.
We left town at seven the next morning. I came to No. 9, in the
Third Range, and settled on the Minister's Lot. In the new towns in
Maine, the first settled minister has a gift of a hundred acres of
land. I am the first settled minister in No. 9. My wife and little
Paulina are my parish. We raise corn enough to live on in summer. We
kill bear's meat enough to carbonize it in winter. I work on steadily
on my Traces of Sandemanianism in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries,
which I hope to persuade Phillips, Sampson, &Co. to publish next year.
We are very happy, but the world thinks we are undone.
 Which means, In the thirteenth century, my dear little
bell-and-coral reader. You have rightly guessed that the question
means, What is the history of the Reformation in Hungary?
THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.
FROM THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[This story was written in the summer of 1863, as a
however humble, towards the formation of a just and true
sentiment, or sentiment of love to the nation. It was at the
when Mr. Vallandigham had been sent across the border. It was
wish, indeed, that the story might be printed before the
elections of that year,as my testimony regarding the
involved in them,but circumstances delayed its publication
the December number of the Atlantic appeared.
It is wholly a fiction, founded on fact. The facts on which
founded are these,that Aaron Burr sailed down the
River in 1805, again in 1806, and was tried for treason in
The rest, with one exception to be noticed, is all fictitious.
It was my intention that the story should have been published
no author's name, other than that of Captain Frederic Ingham,
U. S. N. Whether writing under his name or my own, I have
liberties with history other than such as every writer of
is privileged to take,indeed, must take, if fiction is to be
written at all.
The story having been once published, it passed out of my
From that moment it has gradually acquired different
for which I am not responsible. Thus I have heard it said,
one bureau of the Navy Department they say that Nolan was
pardoned, in fact, and returned home to die. At another
am told, the answer to questions is, that, though it is true
an officer was kept abroad all his life, his name was not
venerable friend of mine in Boston, who discredits all
still recollects this Nolan court-martial. One of the most
accurate of my younger friends had noticed Nolan's death in
newspaper, but recollected that it was in September, and not
August. A lady in Baltimore writes me, I believe in good
that Nolan has two widowed sisters residing in that
correspondent of the Philadelphia Despatch believed the
untrue, as the United States corvette 'Levant' was lost at sea
nearly three years since, between San Francisco and San Juan.
may remark that this uncertainty as to the place of her loss
adds to the probability of her turning up after three years in
2° 11' S., Long. 131° W. A writer in the New Orleans Picayune,
careful historical paper, explained at length that I had been
mistaken all through; that Philip Nolan never went to sea, but
Texas; that there he was shot in battle, March 21, 1801, and
orders from Spain every fifth man of his party was to be shot,
they not died in prison. Fortunately, however, he left his
and maps, which fell into the hands of a friend of the
correspondent. This friend proposes to publish them,and the
public will then have, it is to be hoped, the true history of
Philip Nolan, the man without a country.
With all these continuations, however, I have nothing to do. I
only repeat that my Philip Nolan is pure fiction. I cannot
scrap-book to my friend who asks for it, because I have it not
I remembered, when I was collecting material for my story, that
General Wilkinson's galimatias, which he calls his Memoirs,
frequent reference to a Jorkins-like partner of his, of the
Nolan, who, at some time near the beginning of this century,
killed in Texas. Whenever Wilkinson found himself in rather a
deeper bog than usual, he used to justify himself by saying
could not explain such or such a charge because the papers
referring to it were lost when Mr. Nolan was imprisoned
Texas. Finding this mythical character in the mythical
a mythical time, I took the liberty to give him a brother,
more mythical, whose adventures should be on the seas. I had
impression that Wilkinson's friend was named Stephen,and as
he is spoken of in this story at page 232. But long after this
printed, I found that the New Orleans paper was right in
that the Texan hero was named Philip. I am very sorry that I
changed him inadvertently to Stephen. It is too late for me to
change him back again. I remember to have heard a
divine preach on St. Philip's day, by accident, a discourse on
life of the Evangelist Stephen. If such a mistake can happen
best regulated of pulpits, I must be pardoned for mistaking
for Stephen Nolan. The reader must observe that he was dead
years before the action of this story begins. In the same
connection I must add that Mr. P. Nolan, the teamster in
whose horse and cart I venture to recommend to an indulgent
is no relation of the hero of this tale.
If any reader considers the invention of a brother too great a
liberty to take in fiction, I venture to remind him that 'Tis
sixty years since; and that I should have the highest
literature even for much greater liberties taken with annals
removed from our time.
A Boston paper, in noticing the story of My Double, contained
another part of this collection, said it was highly
have always agreed with that critic. I confess I have the same
opinion of the story of Philip Nolan. It passes on ships which
no existence, is vouched for by officers who never lived. Its
is in two or three places at the same time, under a process
impossible under any conceivable administration of affairs. In
reply, therefore, to a kind adviser in Connecticut, who told
that the story must be apologized for, because it was doing
injury to the national cause by asserting such continued
the Federal Government through a half-century, I must be
to say that the public, being the Supreme Court of the United
States, may be supposed to know something.]
I suppose that very few casual readers of the New York Herald of
August 13th observed, in an obscure corner, among the Deaths, the
NOLAN. Died, on board U. S. Corvette Levant, Lat. 2° 11' S.,
131° W., on the 11th of May, PHILIP NOLAN.
I happened to observe it, because I was stranded at the old
Mission-House in Mackinaw, waiting for a Lake Superior steamer which
did not choose to come, and I was devouring to the very stubble all the
current literature I could get hold of, even down to the deaths and
marriages in the Herald. My memory for names and people is good, and
the reader will see, as he goes on, that I had reason enough to
remember Philip Nolan. There are hundreds of readers who would have
paused at that announcement, if the officer of the Levant who reported
it had chosen to make it thus:Died, May 11th, THE MAN WITHOUT A
COUNTRY. For it was as The Man without a Country that poor Philip
Nolan had generally been known by the officers who had him in charge
during some fifty years, as, indeed, by all the men who sailed under
them. I dare say there is many a man who has taken wine with him once a
fortnight, in a three years' cruise, who never knew that his name was
Nolan, or whether the poor wretch had any name at all.
There can now be no possible harm in telling this poor creature's
story. Reason enough there has been till now, ever since Madison's
administration went out in 1817, for very strict secrecy, the secrecy
of honor itself, among the gentlemen of the navy who have had Nolan in
successive charge. And certainly it speaks well for the esprit de
corps of the profession, and the personal honor of its members,
that to the press this man's story has been wholly unknown,and, I
think, to the country at large also. I have reason to think, from some
investigations I made in the Naval Archives when I was attached to the
Bureau of Construction, that every official report relating to him was
burned when Ross burned the public buildings at Washington. One of the
Tuckers, or possibly one of the Watsons, had Nolan in charge at the end
of the war; and when, on returning from his cruise, he reported at
Washington to one of the Crowninshields,who was in the Navy
Department when he came home,he found that the Department ignored the
whole business. Whether they really knew nothing about it or whether it
was a Non mi ricordo, determined on as a piece of policy, I do
not know. But this I do know, that since 1817, and possibly before, no
naval officer has mentioned Nolan in his report of a cruise.
But, as I say, there is no need for secrecy any longer. And now the
poor creature is dead, it seems to me worth while to tell a little of
his story, by way of showing young Americans of to-day what it is to be
A MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.
Philip Nolan was as fine a young officer as there was in the Legion
of the West, as the Western division of our army was then called. When
Aaron Burr made his first dashing expedition down to New Orleans in
1805, at Fort Massac, or somewhere above on the river, he met, as the
Devil would have it, this gay, dashing, bright young fellow, at some
dinner-party, I think. Burr marked him, talked to him, walked with him,
took him a day or two's voyage in his flat-boat, and, in short,
fascinated him. For the next year, barrack-life was very tame to poor
Nolan. He occasionally availed himself of the permission the great man
had given him to write to him. Long, high-worded, stilted letters the
poor boy wrote and rewrote and copied. But never a line did he have in
reply from the gay deceiver. The other boys in the garrison sneered at
him, because he sacrificed in this unrequited affection for a
politician the time which they devoted to Monongahela, hazard, and
high-low-jack. Bourbon, euchre, and poker were still unknown. But one
day Nolan had his revenge. This time Burr came down the river, not as
an attorney seeking a place for his office, but as a disguised
conqueror. He had defeated I know not how many district-attorneys; he
had dined at I know not how many public dinners; he had been heralded
in I know not how many Weekly Arguses, and it was rumored that he had
an army behind him and an empire before him. It was a great dayhis
arrivalto poor Nolan. Burr had not been at the fort an hour before he
sent for him. That evening he asked Nolan to take him out in his skiff,
to show him a canebrake or a cotton-wood tree, as he said,really to
seduce him; and by the time the sail was over, Nolan was enlisted body
and soul. From that time, though he did not yet know it, he lived as A
MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.
What Burr meant to do I know no more than you, dear reader. It is
none of our business just now. Only, when the grand catastrophe came,
and Jefferson and the House of Virginia of that day undertook to break
on the wheel all the possible Clarences of the then House of York, by
the great treason-trial at Richmond, some of the lesser fry in that
distant Mississippi Valley, which was farther from us than Puget's
Sound is to-day, introduced the like novelty on their provincial stage,
and, to while away the monotony of the summer at Fort Adams, got up,
for spectacles, a string of court-martials on the officers
there. One and another of the colonels and majors were tried, and, to
fill out the list, little Nolan, against whom, Heaven knows, there was
evidence enough,that he was sick of the service, had been willing to
be false to it, and would have obeyed any order to march any-whither
with any one who would follow him had the order been signed, By
command of His Exc. A. Burr. The courts dragged on. The big flies
escaped,rightly for all I know. Nolan was proved guilty enough, as I
say; yet you and I would never have heard of him, reader, but that,
when the president of the court asked him at the close, whether he
wished to say anything to show that he had always been faithful to the
United States, he cried out, in a fit of frenzy,
Dn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United
I suppose he did not know how the words shocked old Colonel Morgan,
who was holding the court. Half the officers who sat in it had served
through the Revolution, and their lives, not to say their necks, had
been risked for the very idea which he so cavalierly cursed in his
madness. He, on his part, had grown up in the West of those days, in
the midst of Spanish plot, Orleans plot, and all the rest. He had
been educated on a plantation where the finest company was a Spanish
officer or a French merchant from Orleans. His education, such as it
was, had been perfected in commercial expeditions to Vera Cruz, and I
think he told me his father once hired an Englishman to be a private
tutor for a winter on the plantation. He had spent half his youth with
an older brother, hunting horses in Texas; and, in a word, to him
United States was scarcely a reality. Yet he had been fed by United
States for all the years since he had been in the army. He had sworn
on his faith as a Christian to be true to United States. It was
United States which gave him the uniform he wore, and the sword by
his side. Nay, my poor Nolan, it was only because United States had
picked you out first as one of her own confidential men of honor that
A. Burr cared for you a straw more than for the flat-boat men who
sailed his ark for him. I do not excuse Nolan; I only explain to the
reader why he damned his country, and wished he might never hear her
He never did hear her name but once again. From that moment,
September 23, 1807, till the day he died, May 11, 1863, he never heard
her name again. For that half-century and more he was a man without a
Old Morgan, as I said, was terribly shocked. If Nolan had compared
George Washington to Benedict Arnold, or had cried, God save King
George, Morgan would not have felt worse. He called the court into his
private room, and returned in fifteen minutes, with a face like a
sheet, to say,
Prisoner, hear the sentence of the Court! The Court decides,
subject to the approval of the President, that you never hear the name
of the United States again.
Nolan laughed. But nobody else laughed. Old Morgan was too solemn,
and the whole room was hushed dead as night for a minute. Even Nolan
lost his swagger in a moment. Then Morgan added,
Mr. Marshal, take the prisoner to Orleans in an armed boat, and
deliver him to the naval commander there.
The Marshal gave his orders and the prisoner was taken out of court.
Mr. Marshal, continued old Morgan, see that no one mentions the
United States to the prisoner. Mr. Marshal, make my respects to
Lieutenant Mitchell at Orleans, and request him to order that no one
shall mention the United States to the prisoner while he is on board
ship. You will receive your written orders from the officer on duty
here this evening. The court is adjourned without day.
I have always supposed that Colonel Morgan himself took the
proceedings of the court to Washington City, and explained them to Mr.
Jefferson. Certain it is that the President approved them,certain,
that is, if I may believe the men who say they have seen his signature.
Before the Nautilus got round from New Orleans to the Northern Atlantic
coast with the prisoner on board the sentence had been approved, and he
was a man without a country.
The plan then adopted was substantially the same which was
necessarily followed ever after. Perhaps it was suggested by the
necessity of sending him by water from Fort Adams and Orleans. The
Secretary of the Navyit must have been the first Crowninshield,
though he is a man I do not rememberwas requested to put Nolan on
board a government vessel bound on a long cruise, and to direct that he
should be only so far confined there as to make it certain that he
never saw or heard of the country. We had few long cruises then, and
the navy was very much out of favor; and as almost all of this story is
traditional, as I have explained, I do not know certainly what his
first cruise was. But the commander to whom he was intrusted,perhaps
it was Tingey or Shaw, though I think it was one of the younger
men,we are all old enough now,regulated the etiquette and the
precautions of the affair, and according to his scheme they were
carried out, I suppose, till Nolan died.
When I was second officer of the Intrepid, some thirty years
after, I saw the original paper of instructions. I have been sorry ever
since that I did not copy the whole of it. It ran, however, much in
WASHINGTON (with a date, which
must have been late in 1807).
SIR,You will receive from Lieutenant Neale the person of
Nolan, late a Lieutenant in the United States Army.
This person on his trial by court-martial expressed with an
the wish that he might 'never hear of the United States
The Court sentenced him to have his wish fulfilled.
For the present, the execution of the order is intrusted by
President to this Department.
You will take the prisoner on board your ship, and keep him
with such precautions as shall prevent his escape.
You will provide him with such quarters, rations, and clothing
would be proper for an officer of his late rank, if he were a
passenger on your vessel on the business of his Government.
The gentlemen on board will make any arrangements agreeable to
themselves regarding his society. He is to be exposed to no
indignity of any kind, nor is he ever unnecessarily to be
that he is a prisoner.
But under no circumstances is he ever to hear of his country
see any information regarding it; and you will specially
all the officers under your command to take care, that, in the
various indulgences which may be granted, this rule, in which
punishment is involved, shall not be broken.
It is the intention of the Government that he shall never
see the country which he has disowned. Before the end of your
cruise you will receive orders which will give effect to this
W. SOUTHARD, for the
Secretary of the Navy.
If I had only preserved the whole of this paper, there would be no
break in the beginning of my sketch of this story. For Captain Shaw, if
it were he, handed it to his successor in the charge, and he to his,
and I suppose the commander of the Levant has it to-day as his
authority for keeping this man in this mild custody.
The rule adopted on board the ships on which I have met the man
without a country was, I think, transmitted from the beginning. No
mess liked to have him permanently, because his presence cut off all
talk of home or of the prospect of return, of politics or letters, of
peace or of war,cut off more than half the talk men liked to have at
sea. But it was always thought too hard that he should never meet the
rest of us, except to touch hats, and we finally sank into one system.
He was not permitted to talk with the men, unless an officer was by.
With officers he had unrestrained intercourse, as far as they and he
chose. But he grew shy, though he had favorites: I was one. Then the
captain always asked him to dinner on Monday. Every mess in succession
took up the invitation in its turn. According to the size of the ship,
you had him at your mess more or less often at dinner. His breakfast he
ate in his own state-room,he always had a state-room,which was
where a sentinel or somebody on the watch could see the door. And
whatever else he ate or drank, he ate or drank alone. Sometimes, when
the marines or sailors had any special jollification, they were
permitted to invite Plain-Buttons, as they called him. Then Nolan was
sent with some officer, and the men were forbidden to speak of home
while he was there. I believe the theory was that the sight of his
punishment did them good. They called him Plain-Buttons, because,
while he always chose to wear a regulation army-uniform, he was not
permitted to wear the army-button, for the reason that it bore either
the initials or the insignia of the country he had disowned.
I remember, soon after I joined the navy, I was on shore with some
of the older officers from our ship and from the Brandywine, which we
had met at Alexandria. We had leave to make a party and go up to Cairo
and the Pyramids. As we jogged along (you went on donkeys then), some
of the gentlemen (we boys called them Dons, but the phrase was long
since changed) fell to talking about Nolan, and some one told the
system which was adopted from the first about his books and other
reading. As he was almost never permitted to go on shore, even though
the vessel lay in port for months, his time at the best hung heavy; and
everybody was permitted to lend him books, if they were not published
in America and made no allusion to it. These were common enough in the
old days, when people in the other hemisphere talked of the United
States as little as we do of Paraguay. He had almost all the foreign
papers that came into the ship, sooner or later; only somebody must go
over them first, and cut out any advertisement or stray paragraph that
alluded to America. This was a little cruel sometimes, when the back of
what was cut out might be as innocent as Hesiod. Right in the midst of
one of Napoleon's battles, or one of Canning's speeches, poor Nolan
would find a great hole, because on the back of the page of that paper
there had been an advertisement of a packet for New York, or a scrap
from the President's message. I say this was the first time I ever
heard of this plan, which afterwards I had enough and more than enough
to do with. I remember it, because poor Phillips, who was of the party,
as soon as the allusion to reading was made, told a story of something
which happened at the Cape of Good Hope on Nolan's first voyage; and it
is the only thing I ever knew of that voyage. They had touched at the
Cape, and had done the civil thing with the English Admiral and the
fleet, and then, leaving for a long cruise up the Indian Ocean,
Phillips had borrowed a lot of English books from an officer, which, in
those days, as indeed in these, was quite a windfall. Among them, as
the Devil would order, was the Lay of the Last Minstrel, which they
had all of them heard of, but which most of them had never seen. I
think it could not have been published long. Well, nobody thought there
could be any risk of anything national in that, though Phillips swore
old Shaw had cut out the Tempest from Shakespeare before he let Nolan
have it, because he said the Bermudas ought to be ours, and, by Jove,
should be one day. So Nolan was permitted to join the circle one
afternoon when a lot of them sat on deck smoking and reading aloud.
People do not do such things so often now; but when I was young we got
rid of a great deal of time so. Well, so it happened that in his turn
Nolan took the book and read to the others; and he read very well, as I
know. Nobody in the circle knew a line of the poem, only it was all
magic and Border chivalry, and was ten thousand years ago. Poor Nolan
read steadily through the fifth canto, stopped a minute and drank
something, and then began, without a thought of what was coming,
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
It seems impossible to us that anybody ever heard this for the first
time; but all these fellows did then, and poor Nolan himself went on,
still unconsciously or mechanically,
This is my own, my native land!
Then they all saw something was to pay; but he expected to get
through, I suppose, turned a little pale, but plunged on,
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well,
By this time the men were all beside themselves, wishing there was
any way to make him turn over two pages; but he had not quite presence
of mind for that; he gagged a little, colored crimson, and staggered
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite these titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
and here the poor fellow choked, could not go on, but started up,
swung the book into the sea, vanished into his state-room, And by
Jove, said Phillips, we did not see him for two months again. And I
had to make up some beggarly story to that English surgeon why I did
not return his Walter Scott to him.
That story shows about the time when Nolan's braggadocio must have
broken down. At first, they said, he took a very high tone, considered
his imprisonment a mere farce, affected to enjoy the voyage, and all
that; but Phillips said that after he came out of his state-room he
never was the same man again. He never read aloud again, unless it was
the Bible or Shakespeare, or something else he was sure of. But it was
not that merely. He never entered in with the other young men exactly
as a companion again. He was always shy afterwards, when I knew
him,very seldom spoke, unless he was spoken to, except to a very few
friends. He lighted up occasionally,I remember late in his life
hearing him fairly eloquent on something which had been suggested to
him by one of Fléchier's sermons,but generally he had the nervous,
tired look of a heart-wounded man.
When Captain Shaw was coming home,if, as I say, it was
Shaw,rather to the surprise of everybody they made one of the
Windward Islands, and lay off and on for nearly a week. The boys said
the officers were sick of salt-junk, and meant to have turtle-soup
before they came home. But after several days the Warren came to the
same rendezvous; they exchanged signals; she sent to Phillips and these
homeward-bound men letters and papers, and told them she was
outward-bound, perhaps to the Mediterranean, and took poor Nolan and
his traps on the boat back to try his second cruise. He looked very
blank when he was told to get ready to join her. He had known enough of
the signs of the sky to know that till that moment he was going home.
But this was a distinct evidence of something he had not thought of,
perhaps,that there was no going home for him, even to a prison. And
this was the first of some twenty such transfers, which brought him
sooner or later into half our best vessels, but which kept him all his
life at least some hundred miles from the country he had hoped he might
never hear of again.
It may have been on that second cruise,it was once when he was up
the Mediterranean,that Mrs. Graff, the celebrated Southern beauty of
those days, danced with him. They had been lying a long time in the Bay
of Naples, and the officers were very intimate in the English fleet,
and there had been great festivities, and our men thought they must
give a great ball on board the ship. How they ever did it on board the
Warren I am sure I do not know. Perhaps it was not the Warren, or
perhaps ladies did not take up so much room as they do now. They wanted
to use Nolan's state-room for something, and they hated to do it
without asking him to the ball; so the captain said they might ask him,
if they would be responsible that he did not talk with the wrong
people, who would give him intelligence. So the dance went on, the
finest party that had ever been known, I dare say; for I never heard of
a man-of-war ball that was not. For ladies they had the family of the
American consul, one or two travellers who had adventured so far, and a
nice bevy of English girls and matrons, perhaps Lady Hamilton herself.
Well, different officers relieved each other in standing and talking
with Nolan in a friendly way, so as to be sure that nobody else spoke
to him. The dancing went on with spirit, and after a while even the
fellows who took this honorary guard of Nolan ceased to fear any
contretemps. Only when some English ladyLady Hamilton, as I said,
perhapscalled for a set of American dances, an odd thing happened.
Everybody then danced contra-dances. The black band, nothing loath,
conferred as to what American dances were, and started off with
Virginia Reel, which they followed with Money-Musk, which, in its
turn in those days, should have been followed by The Old Thirteen.
But just as Dick, the leader, tapped for his fiddles to begin, and bent
forward, about to say, in true negro state, 'The Old Thirteen,'
gentlemen and ladies! as he had said 'Virginny Reel,' if you please!
and 'Money-Musk,' if you please! the captain's boy tapped him on the
shoulder, whispered to him, and he did not announce the name of the
dance; he merely bowed, began on the air, and they all fell to,the
officers teaching the English girls the figure, but not telling them
why it had no name.
But that is not the story I started to tell.As the dancing went
on, Nolan and our fellows all got at ease, as I said,so much so, that
it seemed quite natural for him to bow to that splendid Mrs. Graff, and
I hope you have not forgotten me, Miss Rutledge. Shall I have the
honor of dancing?
He did it so quickly, that Fellows, who was by him, could not hinder
him. She laughed and said,
I am not Miss Rutledge any longer, Mr. Nolan; but I will dance all
the same, just nodded to Fellows, as if to say he must leave Mr. Nolan
to her, and led him off to the place where the dance was forming.
Nolan thought he had got his chance. He had known her at
Philadelphia, and at other places had met her, and this was a Godsend.
You could not talk in contra-dances, as you do in cotillons, or even in
the pauses of waltzing; but there were chances for tongues and sounds,
as well as for eyes and blushes. He began with her travels, and Europe,
and Vesuvius, and the French; and then, when they had worked down, and
had that long talking-time at the bottom of the set, he said,
boldly,a little pale, she said, as she told me the story, years
And what do you hear from home, Mrs. Graff?
And that splendid creature looked through him. Jove! how she must
have looked through him!
Home!! Mr. Nolan!!! I thought you were the man who never wanted to
hear of home again!and she walked directly up the deck to her
husband, and left poor Nolan alone, as he always was.He did not dance
I cannot give any history of him in order; nobody can now; and,
indeed, I am not trying to. These are the traditions, which I sort out,
as I believe them, from the myths which have been told about this man
for forty years. The lies that have been told about him are legion. The
fellows used to say he was the Iron Mask; and poor George Pons went
to his grave in the belief that this was the author of Junius, who
was being punished for his celebrated libel on Thomas Jefferson. Pons
was not very strong in the historical line. A happier story than either
of these I have told is of the War. That came along soon after. I have
heard this affair told in three or four ways,and, indeed, it may have
happened more than once. But which ship it was on I cannot tell.
However, in one, at least, of the great frigate-duels with the English,
in which the navy was really baptized, it happened that a round-shot
from the enemy entered one of our ports square, and took right down the
officer of the gun himself, and almost every man of the gun's crew. Now
you may say what you choose about courage, but that is not a nice thing
to see. But, as the men who were not killed picked themselves up, and
as they and the surgeon's people were carrying off the bodies, there
appeared Nolan, in his shirt-sleeves, with the rammer in his hand, and,
just as if he had been the officer, told them off with authority,who
should go to the cockpit with the wounded men, who should stay with
him,perfectly cheery, and with that way which makes men feel sure all
is right and is going to be right. And he finished loading the gun with
his own hands, aimed it, and bade the men fire. And there he stayed,
captain of that gun, keeping those fellows in spirits, till the enemy
struck,sitting on the carriage while the gun was cooling, though he
was exposed all the time,showing them easier ways to handle heavy
shot,making the raw hands laugh at their own blunders,and when the
gun cooled again, getting it loaded and fired twice as often as any
other gun on the ship. The captain walked forward by way of encouraging
the men, and Nolan touched his hat and said,
I am showing them how we do this in the artillery, sir.
And this is the part of the story where all the legends agree; and
the Commodore said,
I see you do, and I thank you, sir; and I shall never forget this
day, sir, and you never shall, sir.
And after the whole thing was over, and he had the Englishman's
sword, in the midst of the state and ceremony of the quarter-deck, he
Where is Mr. Nolan? Ask Mr. Nolan to come here.
And when Nolan came, the captain said,
Mr. Nolan, we are all very grateful to you to-day; you are one of
us to-day; you will be named in the despatches.
And then the old man took off his own sword of ceremony, and gave it
to Nolan, and made him put it on. The man told me this who saw it.
Nolan cried like a baby, and well he might. He had not worn a sword
since that infernal day at Fort Adams. But always afterwards on
occasions of ceremony, he wore that quaint old French sword of the
The captain did mention him in the despatches. It was always said he
asked that he might be pardoned. He wrote a special letter to the
Secretary of War. But nothing ever came of it. As I said, that was
about the time when they began to ignore the whole transaction at
Washington, and when Nolan's imprisonment began to carry itself on
because there was nobody to stop it without any new orders from home.
I have heard it said that he was with Porter when he took possession
of the Nukahiwa Islands. Not this Porter, you know, but old Porter, his
father, Essex Porter,that is, the old Essex Porter, not this Essex.
As an artillery officer, who had seen service in the West, Nolan knew
more about fortifications, embrasures, ravelins, stockades, and all
that, than any of them did; and he worked with a right good-will in
fixing that battery all right. I have always thought it was a pity
Porter did not leave him in command there with Gamble. That would have
settled all the question about his punishment. We should have kept the
islands, and at this moment we should have one station in the Pacific
Ocean. Our French friends, too, when they wanted this little
watering-place, would have found it was preoccupied. But Madison and
the Virginians, of course, flung all that away.
All that was near fifty years ago. If Nolan was thirty then, he must
have been near eighty when he died. He looked sixty when he was forty.
But he never seemed to me to change a hair afterwards. As I imagine his
life, from what I have seen and heard of it, he must have been in every
sea, and yet almost never on land. He must have known, in a formal way,
more officers in our service than any man living knows. He told me
once, with a grave smile, that no man in the world lived so methodical
a life as he. You know the boys say I am the Iron Mask, and you know
how busy he was. He said it did not do for any one to try to read all
the time, more than to do anything else all the time; but that he read
just five hours a day. Then, he said, I keep up my note-books,
writing in them at such and such hours from what I have been reading;
and I include in these my scrap-books. These were very curious indeed.
He had six or eight, of different subjects. There was one of History,
one of Natural Science, one which he called Odds and Ends. But they
were not merely books of extracts from newspapers. They had bits of
plants and ribbons, shells tied on, and carved scraps of bone and wood,
which he had taught the men to cut for him, and they were beautifully
illustrated. He drew admirably. He had some of the funniest drawings
there, and some of the most pathetic, that I have ever seen in my life.
I wonder who will have Nolan's scrap-books.
Well, he said his reading and his notes were his profession, and
that they took five hours and two hours respectively of each day.
Then, said he, every man should have a diversion as well as a
profession. My Natural History is my diversion. That took two hours a
day more. The men used to bring him birds and fish, but on a long
cruise he had to satisfy himself with centipedes and cockroaches and
such small game. He was the only naturalist I ever met who knew
anything about the habits of the house-fly and the mosquito. All those
people can tell you whether they are Lepidoptera or
Steptopotera; but as for telling how you can get rid of them, or
how they get away from you when you strike them,why Linnæus knew as
little of that as John Foy the idiot did. These nine hours made Nolan's
regular daily occupation. The rest of the time he talked or walked.
Till he grew very old, he went aloft a great deal. He always kept up
his exercise; and I never heard that he was ill. If any other man was
ill, he was the kindest nurse in the world; and he knew more than half
the surgeons do. Then if anybody was sick or died, or if the captain
wanted him to, on any other occasion, he was always ready to read
prayers. I have said that he read beautifully.
My own acquaintance with Philip Nolan began six or eight years after
the War, on my first voyage after I was appointed a midshipman. It was
in the first days after our Slave-Trade treaty, while the Reigning
House, which was still the House of Virginia, had still a sort of
sentimentalism about the suppression of the horrors of the Middle
Passage, and something was sometimes done that way. We were in the
South Atlantic on that business. From the time I joined, I believe I
thought Nolan was a sort of lay chaplain,a chaplain with a blue coat.
I never asked about him. Everything in the ship was strange to me. I
knew it was green to ask questions, and I suppose I thought there was a
Plain-Buttons on every ship. We had him to dine in our mess once a
week, and the caution was given that on that day nothing was to be said
about home. But if they had told us not to say anything about the
planet Mars or the Book of Deuteronomy, I should not have asked why;
there were a great many things which seemed to me to have as little
reason. I first came to understand anything about the man without a
country one day when we overhauled a dirty little schooner which had
slaves on board. An officer was sent to take charge of her, and, after
a few minutes, he sent back his boat to ask that some one might be sent
him who could speak Portuguese. We were all looking over the rail when
the message came, and we all wished we could interpret, when the
captain asked Who spoke Portuguese. But none of the officers did; and
just as the captain was sending forward to ask if any of the people
could, Nolan stepped out and said he should be glad to interpret, if
the captain wished, as he understood the language. The captain thanked
him, fitted out another boat with him, and in this boat it was my luck
When we got there, it was such a scene as you seldom see, and never
want to. Nastiness beyond account, and chaos run loose in the midst of
the nastiness. There were not a great many of the negroes; but by way
of making what there were understand that they were free, Vaughan had
had their hand-cuffs and ankle-cuffs knocked off, and, for convenience'
sake, was putting them upon the rascals of the schooner's crew. The
negroes were, most of them, out of the hold, and swarming all round the
dirty deck, with a central throng surrounding Vaughan and addressing
him in every dialect, and patois of a dialect, from the Zulu
click up to the Parisian of Beledeljereed.
As we came on deck, Vaughan looked down from a hogshead, on which he
had mounted in desperation, and said:
For God's love, is there anybody who can make these wretches
understand something? The men gave them rum, and that did not quiet
them. I knocked that big fellow down twice, and that did not soothe
him. And then I talked Choctaw to all of them together; and I'll be
hanged if they understood that as well as they understood the English.
Nolan said he could speak Portuguese, and one or two fine-looking
Kroomen were dragged out, who, as it had been found already, had worked
for the Portuguese on the coast at Fernando Po.
Tell them they are free, said Vaughan; and tell them that these
rascals are to be hanged as soon as we can get rope enough.
Nolan put that into Spanish,that is, he explained it in such
Portuguese as the Kroomen could understand, and they in turn to such of
the negroes as could understand them. Then there was such a yell of
delight, clinching of fists, leaping and dancing, kissing of Nolan's
feet, and a general rush made to the hogshead by way of spontaneous
worship of Vaughan, as the deus ex machina of the occasion.
Tell them, said Vaughan, well pleased, that I will take them all
to Cape Palmas.
This did not answer so well. Cape Palmas was practically as far from
the homes of most of them as New Orleans or Rio Janeiro was; that is,
they would be eternally separated from home there. And their
interpreters, as we could understand, instantly said, Ah, non
Palmas, and began to propose infinite other expedients in most
voluble language. Vaughan was rather disappointed at this result of his
liberality, and asked Nolan eagerly what they said. The drops stood on
poor Nolan's white forehead, as he hushed the men down, and said:
He says, 'Not Palmas.' He says, 'Take us home, take us to our own
country, take us to our own house, take us to our own pickaninnies and
our own women.' He says he has an old father and mother who will die if
they do not see him. And this one says he left his people all sick, and
paddled down to Fernando to beg the white doctor to come and help them,
and that these devils caught him in the bay just in sight of home, and
that he has never seen anybody from home since then. And this one
says, choked out Nolan, that he has not heard a word from his home in
six months, while he has been locked up in an infernal barracoon.
Vaughan always said he grew gray himself while Nolan struggled
through this interpretation. I, who did not understand anything of the
passion involved in it, saw that the very elements were melting with
fervent heat, and that something was to pay somewhere. Even the negroes
themselves stopped howling, as they saw Nolan's agony, and Vaughan's
almost equal agony of sympathy. As quick as he could get words, he
Tell them yes, yes, yes; tell them they shall go to the Mountains
of the Moon, if they will. If I sail the schooner through the Great
White Desert, they shall go home!
And after some fashion Nolan said so. And then they all fell to
kissing him again, and wanted to rub his nose with theirs.
But he could not stand it long; and getting Vaughan to say he might
go back, he beckoned me down into our boat. As we lay back in the
stern-sheets and the men gave way, he said to me: Youngster, let that
show you what it is to be without a family, without a home, and without
a country. And if you are ever tempted to say a word or to do a thing
that shall put a bar between you and your family, your home, and your
country, pray God in his mercy to take you that instant home to his own
heaven. Stick by your family, boy; forget you have a self, while you do
everything for them. Think of your home, boy; write and send, and talk
about it. Let it be nearer and nearer to your thought, the farther you
have to travel from it; and rush back to it, when you are free, as that
poor black slave is doing now. And for your country, boy, and the
words rattled in his throat, and for that flag, and he pointed to the
ship, never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though
the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens
to you, no matter who flatters you or who abuses you, never look at
another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that
flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men you have to do with,
behind officers, and government, and people even, there is the Country
Herself, your Country, and that you belong to Her as you belong to your
own mother. Stand by Her, boy, as you would stand by your mother, if
those devils there had got hold of her to-day!
I was frightened to death by his calm, hard passion; but I blundered
out, that I would, by all that was holy, and that I had never thought
of doing anything else. He hardly seemed to hear me; but he did, almost
in a whisper, say: O, if anybody had said so to me when I was of your
I think it was this half-confidence of his, which I never abused,
for I never told this story till now, which afterward made us great
friends. He was very kind to me. Often he sat up, or even got up, at
night, to walk the deck with me, when it was my watch. He explained to
me a great deal of my mathematics, and I owe to him my taste for
mathematics. He lent me books, and helped me about my reading. He never
alluded so directly to his story again; but from one and another
officer I have learned, in thirty years, what I am telling. When we
parted from him in St. Thomas harbor, at the end of our cruise, I was
more sorry than I can tell. I was very glad to meet him again in 1830;
and later in life, when I thought I had some influence in Washington, I
moved heaven and earth to have him discharged. But it was like getting
a ghost out of prison. They pretended there was no such man, and never
was such a man. They will say so at the Department now! Perhaps they do
not know. It will not be the first thing in the service of which the
Department appears to know nothing!
There is a story that Nolan met Burr once on one of our vessels,
when a party of Americans came on board in the Mediterranean. But this
I believe to be a lie; or, rather, it is a myth, ben trovato,
involving a tremendous blowing-up with which he sunk Burr,asking him
how he liked to be without a country. But it is clear from Burr's
life, that nothing of the sort could have happened; and I mention this
only as an illustration of the stories which get a-going where there is
the least mystery at bottom.
So poor Philip Nolan had his wish fulfilled. I know but one fate
more dreadful; it is the fate reserved for those men who shall have one
day to exile themselves from their country because they have attempted
her ruin, and shall have at the same time to see the prosperity and
honor to which she rises when she has rid herself of them and their
iniquities. The wish of poor Nolan, as we all learned to call him, not
because his punishment was too great, but because his repentance was so
clear, was precisely the wish of every Bragg and Beauregard who broke a
soldier's oath two years ago, and of every Maury and Barron who broke a
sailor's. I do not know how often they have repented. I do know that
they have done all that in them lay that they might have no
country,that all the honors, associations, memories, and hopes which
belong to country might be broken up into little shreds and
distributed to the winds. I know, too, that their punishment, as they
vegetate through what is left of life to them in wretched Boulognes and
Leicester Squares, where they are destined to upbraid each other till
they die, will have all the agony of Nolan's, with the added pang that
every one who sees them will see them to despise and to execrate them.
They will have their wish, like him.
For him, poor fellow, he repented of his folly, and then, like a
man, submitted to the fate he had asked for. He never intentionally
added to the difficulty or delicacy of the charge of those who had him
in hold. Accidents would happen; but they never happened from his
fault. Lieutenant Truxton told me, that, when Texas was annexed, there
was a careful discussion among the officers, whether they should get
hold of Nolan's handsome set of maps, and cut Texas out of it,from
the map of the world and the map of Mexico. The United States had been
cut out when the atlas was bought for him. But it was voted, rightly
enough, that to do this would be virtually to reveal to him what had
happened, or, as Harry Cole said, to make him think Old Burr had
succeeded. So it was from no fault of Nolan's that a great botch
happened at my own table, when, for a short time, I was in command of
the George Washington corvette, on the South American station. We were
lying in the La Plata, and some of the officers, who had been on shore,
and had just joined again, were entertaining us with accounts of their
misadventures in riding the half-wild horses of Buenos Ayres. Nolan was
at table, and was in an unusually bright and talkative mood. Some story
of a tumble reminded him of an adventure of his own, when he was
catching wild horses in Texas with his brother Stephen, at a time when
he must have been quite a boy. He told the story with a good deal of
spirit,so much so, that the silence which often follows a good story
hung over the table for an instant, to be broken by Nolan himself. For
he asked perfectly unconsciously:
Pray, what has become of Texas? After the Mexicans got their
independence, I thought that province of Texas would come forward very
fast. It is really one of the finest regions on earth; it is the Italy
of this continent. But I have not seen or heard a word of Texas for
near twenty years.
There were two Texan officers at the table. The reason he had never
heard of Texas was that Texas and her affairs had been painfully cut
out of his newspapers since Austin began his settlements; so that,
while he read of Honduras and Tamaulipas, and, till quite lately, of
California,this virgin province, in which his brother had travelled
so far, and, I believe, had died, had ceased to be to him. Waters and
Williams, the two Texas men, looked grimly at each other, and tried not
to laugh. Edward Morris had his attention attracted by the third link
in the chain of the captain's chandelier. Watrous was seized with a
convulsion of sneezing. Nolan himself saw that something was to pay, he
did not know what. And I, as master of the feast, had to say,
Texas is out of the map, Mr. Nolan. Have you seen Captain Back's
curious account of Sir Thomas Roe's Welcome?
After that cruise I never saw Nolan again. I wrote to him at least
twice a year, for in that voyage we became even confidentially
intimate; but he never wrote to me. The other men tell me that in those
fifteen years he aged very fast, as well he might indeed, but
that he was still the same gentle, uncomplaining, silent sufferer that
he ever was, bearing as best he could his self-appointed
punishment,rather less social, perhaps, with new men whom he did not
know, but more anxious, apparently, than ever to serve and befriend and
teach the boys, some of whom fairly seemed to worship him. And now it
seems the dear old fellow is dead. He has found a home at last, and a
Since writing this, and while considering whether or no I would
print it, as a warning to the young Nolans and Vallandighams and
Tatnalls of to-day of what it is to throw away a country, I have
received from Danforth, who is on board the Levant, a letter which
gives an account of Nolan's last hours. It removes all my doubts about
telling this story.
To understand the first words of the letter, the non-professional
reader should remember that after 1817, the position of every officer
who had Nolan in charge was one of the greatest delicacy. The
government had failed to renew the order of 1807 regarding him. What
was a man to do? Should he let him go? What, then, if he were called to
account by the Department for violating the order of 1807? Should he
keep him? What, then, if Nolan should be liberated some day, and should
bring an action for false imprisonment or kidnapping against every man
who had had him in charge? I urged and pressed this upon Southard, and
I have reason to think that other officers did the same thing. But the
Secretary always said, as they so often do at Washington, that there
were no special orders to give, and that we must act on our own
judgment. That means, If you succeed, you will be sustained; if you
fail, you will be disavowed. Well, as Danforth says, all that is over
now, though I do not know but I expose myself to a criminal prosecution
on the evidence of the very revelation I am making.
Here is the letter:
LEVANT, 2° 2' S. @ 131° W.
DEAR FRED:I try to find heart and life to tell you that it
all over with dear old Nolan. I have been with him on this
more than I ever was, and I can understand wholly now the way
which you used to speak of the dear old fellow. I could see
was not strong, but I had no idea the end was so near. The
has been watching him very carefully, and yesterday morning
me and told me that Nolan was not so well, and had not left
state-room,a thing I never remember before. He had let the
come and see him as he lay there,the first time the doctor
been in the state-room,and he said he should like to see me.
dear! do you remember the mysteries we boys used to invent
his room, in the old Intrepid days? Well, I went in, and
be sure, the poor fellow lay in his berth, smiling pleasantly
gave me his hand, but looking very frail. I could not help a
round, which showed me what a little shrine he had made of the
he was lying in. The stars and stripes were triced up above
around a picture of Washington, and he had painted a majestic
eagle, with lightnings blazing from his beak and his foot just
clasping the whole globe, which his wings overshadowed. The
old boy saw my glance, and said, with a sad smile, 'Here, you
I have a country!' And then he pointed to the foot of his bed,
where I had not seen before a great map of the United States,
had drawn it from memory, and which he had there to look upon
lay. Quaint, queer old names were on it, in large letters:
Territory,' 'Mississippi Territory,' and 'Louisiana
I suppose our fathers learned such things: but the old fellow
patched in Texas, too; he had carried his western boundary all
way to the Pacific, but on that shore he had defined nothing.
'O Danforth,' he said, 'I know I am dying. I cannot get home.
Surely you will tell me something now?Stop! stop! Do not
till I say what I am sure you know, that there is not in this
that there is not in America,God bless her!a more loyal
than I. There cannot be a man who loves the old flag as I do,
prays for it as I do, or hopes for it as I do. There are
thirty-four stars in it now, Danforth. I thank God for that,
I do not know what their names are. There has never been one
away: I thank God for that. I know by that that there has
been any successful Burr. O Danforth, Danforth,' he sighed
'how like a wretched night's dream a boy's idea of personal
of separate sovereignty seems, when one looks back on it after
a life as mine! But tell me,tell me something,tell me
everything, Danforth, before I die!'
Ingham, I swear to you that I felt like a monster that I had
told him everything before. Danger or no danger, delicacy or
delicacy, who was I, that I should have been acting the tyrant
this time over this dear, sainted old man, who had years ago
expiated, in his whole manhood's life, the madness of a boy's
treason? 'Mr. Nolan,' said I, 'I will tell you everything you
about. Only, where shall I begin?'
O the blessed smile that crept over his white face! and he
pressed my hand and said, 'God bless you!' 'Tell me their
he said, and he pointed to the stars on the flag. 'The last I
is Ohio. My father lived in Kentucky. But I have guessed
and Indiana and Mississippi,that was where Fort Adams
make twenty. But where are your other fourteen? You have not
any of the old ones, I hope?'
Well, that was not a bad text, and I told him the names in as
order as I could, and he bade me take down his beautiful map
draw them in as I best could with my pencil. He was wild with
delight about Texas, told me how his brother died there; he
marked a gold cross where he supposed his brother's grave was;
he had guessed at Texas. Then he was delighted as he saw
and Oregon;that, he said, he had suspected partly, because
never been permitted to land on that shore, though the ships
there so much. 'And the men,' said he, laughing, 'brought off
good deal besides furs.' Then he went backheavens, how
ask about the Chesapeake, and what was done to Barron for
surrendering her to the Leopard, and whether Burr ever tried
again,and he ground his teeth with the only passion he
But in a moment that was over, and he said, 'God forgive me,
am sure I forgive him.' Then he asked about the old war,told
the true story of his serving the gun the day we took the
Java,asked about dear old David Porter, as he called him.
settled down more quietly, and very happily, to hear me tell
hour the history of fifty years.
How I wished it had been somebody who knew something! But I
well as I could. I told him of the English war. I told him
Fulton and the steamboat beginning. I told him about old
Jackson; told him all I could think of about the Mississippi,
New Orleans, and Texas, and his own old Kentucky. And do you
he asked who was in command of the 'Legion of the West.' I
it was a very gallant officer named Grant, and that, by our
news, he was about to establish his head-quarters at
Then, 'Where was Vicksburg?' I worked that out on the map; it
about a hundred miles, more or less, above his old Fort Adams;
I thought Fort Adams must be a ruin now. 'It must be at old
plantation,' said he: 'well, that is a change!'
I tell you, Ingham, it was a hard thing to condense the
half a century into that talk with a sick man. And I do not
know what I told him,of emigration, and the means of it,of
steamboats, and railroads, and telegraphs,of inventions, and
books, and literature,of the colleges, and West Point, and
Naval School,but with the queerest interruptions that ever
heard. You see it was Robinson Crusoe asking all the
questions of fifty-six years!
I remember he asked, all of a sudden, who was President now;
when I told him, he asked if Old Abe was General Benjamin
son. He said he met old General Lincoln, when he was quite a
himself, at some Indian treaty. I said no, that Old Abe was a
Kentuckian like himself, but I could not tell him of what
he had worked up from the ranks. 'Good for him!' cried Nolan;
glad of that. As I have brooded and wondered, I have thought
danger was in keeping up those regular successions in the
families.' Then I got talking about my visit to Washington. I
him of meeting the Oregon Congressman, Harding; I told him
the Smithsonian, and the Exploring Expedition; I told him
Capitol, and the statues for the pediment, and Crawford's
and Greenough's Washington: Ingham, I told him everything I
think of that would show the grandeur of his country and its
prosperity; but I could not make up my mouth to tell him a
about this infernal Rebellion!
And he drank it in, and enjoyed it as I cannot tell you. He
more and more silent, yet I never thought he was tired or
gave him a glass of water, but he just wet his lips, and told
not to go away. Then he asked me to bring the Presbyterian
Public Prayer,' which lay there, and said, with a smile, that
would open at the right place,and so it did. There was his
red mark down the page; and I knelt down and read, and he
with me, 'For ourselves and our country, O gracious God, we
Thee, that, notwithstanding our manifold transgressions of Thy
laws, Thou hast continued to us Thy marvellous kindness,'and
to the end of that thanksgiving. Then he turned to the end of
same book, and I read the words more familiar to me: 'Most
we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold and bless Thy
President of the United States, and all others in
the rest of the Episcopal collect. 'Danforth,' said he, 'I
repeated those prayers night and morning, it is now fifty-five
years.' And then he said he would go to sleep. He bent me down
him and kissed me; and he said, 'Look in my Bible, Danforth,
am gone.' And I went away.
But I had no thought it was the end. I thought he was tired
would sleep. I knew he was happy and I wanted him to be alone.
But in an hour, when the doctor went in gently, he found Nolan
breathed his life away with a smile. He had something pressed
to his lips. It was his father's badge of the Order of the
We looked in his Bible, and there was a slip of paper at the
where he had marked the text:
'They desire a country, even a heavenly: wherefore God is not
ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them
On this slip of paper he had written:
'Bury me in the sea; it has been my home, and I love it. But
not some one set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams or at
Orleans, that my disgrace may not be more than I ought to
'In Memory of
'Lieutenant in the Army of the United States.
'He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no
man deserved less at her hands.'
THE LAST OF THE FLORIDA.
FROM THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[The Florida, Anglo-Rebel pirate, after inflicting horrible
injuries on the commerce of America and the good name of
was cut out by Captain Collins, from the bay of Bahia, by one
those fortunate mistakes in international law which endear
men to the nations in whose interest they are committed. When
arrived here the government was obliged to disavow the act.
question then was, as we had her by mistake, what we should do
her. At that moment the National Sailors' Fair was in full
Boston, and I offered my suggestion in answer in the following
article, which was published November 19, 1864, in the
Whistle, a little paper issued at the fair.
The government did not take the suggestion. Very unfortunately,
before the Florida was got ready for sea, she was accidentally
in a collision with a tug off Fort Monroe, and the heirs of
Confederate government or the English bond-holders must look
for her, if the Brazilian government will give them
For the benefit of the New York Observer I will state that a
despatch sent round the world in a spiral direction westward
times, would not really arrive at its destination four years
it started. It is only a joke which suggests it.]
LETTER FROM CAPTAIN INGHAM, IN COMMAND OF THE FLORIDA.
[Received four years in advance of the mail by a lightning
which has gained that time by running round the world 1,200
in a spiral direction westward on its way from Brazil to our
publication-office. Mrs. Ingham's address not being known, the
letter is printed for her information.]
BAHAI, BRAZIL, April 1, 1868.
MY DEAR WIFE:We are here at last, thank fortune; and I shall
surrender the old pirate to-day to the officers of government. We have
been saluted, are to be fêted, and perhaps I shall be made a Knight
Commander of the Golden Goose. I never was so glad as when I saw the
lights on the San Esperitu head-land, which makes the south point of
this Bahia or bay.
You will not have received my No. 28 from Loando, and may have
missed 26 and 24, which I gave to outward bound whalemen. I
always doubted whether you got 1, 7, 9, and 11. And for me I have no
word of you since you waved your handkerchief from the window in
Springfield Street on the morning of the 1st of June, 1865, nearly four
years. My dear child, you will not know me.
Let me then repeat, very briefly, the outline of this strange
cruise; and when the letters come, you can fill in the blanks.
The government had determined that the Florida must be returned to
the neutral harbor whence she came. They had put her in complete
repair, and six months of diplomacy had made the proper apologies to
the Brazilian government. Meanwhile Collins, who had captured her by
mistake, had, by another mistake, been made an admiral, and was
commanding a squadron; and to insure her safe and respectful delivery,
I, who had been waiting service, was unshelved, and, as you know,
bidden to take command.
She was in apple-pie order. The engines had been cleaned up; and I
thought we could make a quick thing of it. I was a little dashed when I
found the crew was small; but I have been glad enough since that we had
no more mouths. No one but myself knew our destination. The men thought
we were to take despatches to the Gulf squadron.
You remember I had had only verbal orders to take command, and after
we got outside the bay I opened my sealed despatches. The gist of them
was in these words:
You will understand that the honor of this government is pledged
for the safe delivery of the Florida to the government of
Brazil. You will therefore hazard nothing to gain speed. The quantity
of your coal has been adjusted with the view to give your vessel her
best trim, and the supply is not large. You will husband it with
care,taking every precaution to arrive in Bahia safely with
your charge, in such time as your best discretion may suggest to
Your best discretion was underscored.
I called Prendergast, and showed him the letter. Then we called the
engineer and asked about the coal. He had not been into the bunkers,
but went and returned with his face white, through the black grime, to
report not four days' consumption. By some cursed accident, he said,
the bunkers had been filled with barrels of salt-pork and flour!
On this, I ordered a light and went below. There had been some fatal
misunderstanding somewhere. The vessel was fitted out as for an arctic
voyage. Everywhere hard-bread, flour, pork, beef, vinegar, sour-krout;
but, clearly enough, not, at the very best, five days of coal!
And I was to get to Brazil with this old pirate transformed into a
provision ship, at my best discretion.
Prendergast, said I, we will take it easy. Were you ever in
Took flour there in '55, and lay waiting for India-rubber from July
to October. Lost six men by yellow-jack.
Prendergast was from the merchant marine. I had known him since we
were children. Ethan, said I, in my best discretion it would be bad
to arrive there before the end of October. Where would you go?
I cannot say he took the responsibility. He would not take it. You
know, my dear, of course, that it was I who suggested Upernavik. From
the days of the old marbled paper Northern Regions,through the quarto
Ross and Parry and Back and the nephew Ross and Kane and McClure and
McClintock, you know, my dear, what my one passion has been,to see
those floes and icebergs for myself. Surely you forgive me, or at least
excuse me. Do not you? Here was this fast steamer under me. I ought not
to be in Bahia before October 25. It was June 1. Of course we went to
I will not say I regret it now. Yet I will say that on that
decision, cautiously made, though it was on my discretion, all our
subsequent misfortunes hang. The Danes were kind to us,the Governor
especially, though I had to carry the poor fellow bad news about the
Duchies and the Danish war, which was all fresh then. He got up a dance
for us, I remember, and there I wrote No. 1 to you. I could not of
course helpwhen we left himrunning her up a few degrees to the
north, just to see whether there is or is not that passage between
Igloolik and Prince Rupert's Headland (and by the way there is).
After we passed Igloolik, there was such splendid weather, that I just
used up a little coal to drive her along the coast of King William's
Land; and there, as we waited for a little duck-shooting on the edge of
a floe one day, as our luck ordered, a party of natives came on board,
and we treated them with hard-tack crumbs and whale-oil. They fell to
dancing, and we to laughing,they danced more and we laughed more,
till the oldest woman tumbled in her bear-skin bloomers, and came with
a smash right on the little cast-iron frame by the wheel, which
screened binnacle and compass. My dear child, there was such a hullalu
and such a mess together as I remember now. We had to apologize; the
doctor set her head as well as he could. We gave them gingerbread from
the cabin, to console them, and got them off without a fight. But the
next morning when I cast off from the floe, it proved the beggars had
stolen the compass card, needle and all.
My dear Mary, there was not another bit of magnetized iron in the
ship. The government had been very shy of providing instruments of any
kind for Confederate cruisers. Poor Ethan had traded off two compasses
only the day before for whalebone spears and skin breeches, neither of
which knew the north star from the ace of spades. And this thing proved
of more importance than you will think; it really made me feel that the
stuff in the books and the sermons about the mariners' needle was not
As you shall see, if I ever get through. (Since I began, I have seen
the Consul,and heard the glorious news from home,and am to be
presented to the port authorities to-morrow.) It was the most open
summer, Mary, ever known there. If I had not had to be here in October,
I would have driven right through Lancaster Sound, by Baring's Island,
and come out into the Pacific. But here was the honor of the country,
and we merely stole back through the Straits. It was well enough
there,all daylight, you know. But after we passed Cape Farewell, we
worked her into such fogs, child, as you never saw out of Hyde Park.
Did not I long for that compass-card! We sailed, and we sailed, and we
sailed. For thirty-seven days I did not get an observation, nor speak a
ship! October! It was October before we were warm. At noon we used to
sail where we thought it was lightest. At night I used to keep two men
up for a lookout, lash the wheel, and let her drift like a Dutchman.
One way as good as another. Mary, when I saw the sun at last, enough to
get any kind of observation, we were wellnigh three hundred miles
northeast of Iceland! Talk of fogs to me!
Well, I set her south again, but how long can you know if you are
sailing south, in those places where the northeast winds and Scotch
mists come from! Thank Heaven, we got south, or we should have frozen
to death. We got into November, and we got into December. We were as
far south as 37° 29'; and were in 31° 17' west on New Year's Day, 1866,
when the second officer wished me a happy new year, congratulated me on
the fine weather, said we should get a good observation, and asked me
for the new nautical almanac! You know they are only calculated for
five years. We had two Greenwich ones on board, and they ran out
December 31, 1865. But the government had been as stingy in almanacs as
in coal and compasses. They did not mean to keep the Confederacy in
That was the beginning of our troubles. I had to take the old
almanac, with Prendergast, and we figured like Cocker, and always kept
ahead with a month's tables. But somehow,I feel sure we were
right,but something was wrong; and after a few weeks the lunars used
to come out in the most beastly way, and we always proved to be on the
top of the Andes or in the Marquesas Islands, or anywhere but in the
Atlantic Ocean. Well then, by good luck, we spoke the Winged Batavian;
could not speak a word of Dutch, nor he a word of English; but he let
Ethan copy his tables, and so we ran for St. Sacrament. I posted 8, 9,
and 10 there; I gave the Dutchman 7, which I hope you got, but fear.
Well, this story is running long; but at St. Sacrament we started
again, but, as ill-luck would have it, without a clean bill of health.
At that time I could have run into Bahia with coalof which I had
bought somein a week. But there was fever on shore,and bad,and I
knew we must make pratique when we came into the outer harbor here; so,
rather than do that, we stretched down the coast, and met that cyclone
I wrote you about, and had to put into Loando. Understand, this was the
first time we went into Loando. I have learned that wretched hole well
enough since. And it was as we were running out of Loando, that, in
reversing the engine too suddenly, lest we should smash up an old
Portuguese woman's bum-boat, that the slides or supports of the
piston-rod just shot out of the grooves they run in on the top, came
cleverly down on the outside of the carriage, gave that odious
g-r-r-r, which I can hear now, and then, dump,down came
the whole weight of the walking-beam, bent rod and carriages all into
three figure 8's, and there we were! I had as lief run the boat with a
clothes-wringer as with that engine, any day, from then to now.
Well, we tinkered, and the Portuguese dock-yard people tinkered. We
took out this, and they took out that. It was growing sickly, and I got
frightened, and finally I shipped the propeller and took it on board,
and started under such canvas as we had left,not much after the
cyclone,for the North and the South together had rather rotted the
Then,as I wrote you in No. 11,it was too late to get to Bahia
before that summer's sickly season, and I stretched off to cooler
regions again, in my best discretion. That was the time when we had
the fever so horribly on board; and but for Wilder the surgeon, and the
Falkland Islands, we should be dead, every man of us, now. But we
touched in Queen's Bay just in time. The Governor (who is his own only
subject) was very cordial and jolly and kind. We all went ashore, and
pitched tents, and ate ducks and penguins till the men grew strong. I
scraped her, nearly down to the bends, for the grass floated by our
side like a mermaid's hair as we sailed, and the once swift Florida
would not make four knots an hour on the wind;and this was the ship I
was to get into Bahia in good order, at my best discretion!
Meanwhile none of these people had any news from America. The last
paper at the Falkland Islands was a London Times of 1864, abusing the
Yankees. As for the Portuguese, they were like the people Logan saw at
Vicksburg. They don't know anything good! said he; they don't know
anything at all! It was really more for news than for water I put into
Sta. Lucia,and a pretty mess I made of it there. We looked so like
pirates (as at bottom the old tub is), that they took all of us who
landed to the guard-house. None of us could speak Sta. Lucia, whatever
that tongue may be, nor understand it. And it was not till Ethan fired
a shell from the 100-pound Parrott over the town that they let us go. I
hope the dogs sent you my letters. I suppose there was another
infringement of neutrality. But if the Brazilian government sends this
ship to Sta. Lucia, I shall not command her, that's all!
Well! what happened at Loando the second time, Valencia, and Puntos
Pimos, and Nueva Salamanca, and Loando this last time, you know and
will know, and why we loitered so. At last, thank fortune, here we are.
Actually, Mary, this ship logged on the average only thirty-two knots a
day for the last week before we got her into port.
Now think of the ingratitude of men! I have brought her in here,
according to my best discretion, and do you believe, these hidalgos,
or dons, or señores, or whatever they are, had forgotten she existed.
And when I showed them to her, they said in good Portugal that I was a
liar. Fortunately the Consul is our old friend Kingsley. He was
delighted to see me; thought I was at the bottom of the sea. From him
we learned that the Confederacy was blown sky-high long ago. And from
all I can learn, I may have the Florida back again for my own private
yacht or peculium, unless she goes to Sta. Lucia.
Not I, my friends! Scrape her, and mend her, and give her to the
marines,and tell them her story; but do not intrust her again to my
own Polly's own
THE SKELETON IN THE CLOSET.
BY J. THOMAS DARRAGH (LATE C. C. S.).
[This paper was first published in the Galaxy, in 1866.]
I see that an old chum of mine is publishing bits of confidential
Confederate History in Harper's Magazine. It would seem to be time,
then, for the pivots to be disclosed on which some of the wheelwork of
the last six years has been moving. The science of history, as I
understand it, depends on the timely disclosure of such pivots, which
are apt to be kept out of view while things are moving.
I was in the Civil Service at Richmond. Why I was there, or what I
did, is nobody's affair. And I do not in this paper propose to tell how
it happened that I was in New York in October, 1864, on confidential
business. Enough that I was there, and that it was honest business.
That business done, as far as it could be with the resources intrusted
to me, I prepared to return home. And thereby hangs this tale, and, as
it proved, the fate of the Confederacy.
For, of course, I wanted to take presents home to my family. Very
little question was there what these presents should be,for I had no
boys nor brothers. The women of the Confederacy had one want, which
overtopped all others. They could make coffee out of beans; pins they
had from Columbus; straw hats they braided quite well with their own
fair hands; snuff we could get better than you could in the old
concern. But we had no hoop-skirts,skeletons, we used to call them.
No ingenuity had made them. No bounties had forced them. The Bat, the
Greyhound, the Deer, the Flora, the J. C. Cobb, the Varuna, and the
Fore-and-Aft all took in cargoes of them for us in England. But the Bat
and the Deer and the Flora were seized by the blockaders, the J. C.
Cobb sunk at sea, the Fore-and-Aft and the Greyhound were set fire to
by their own crews, and the Varuna (our Varuna) was never heard of.
Then the State of Arkansas offered sixteen townships of swamp land to
the first manufacturer who would exhibit five gross of a
home-manufactured article. But no one ever competed. The first
attempts, indeed, were put to an end, when Schofield crossed the Blue
Lick, and destroyed the dams on Yellow Branch. The consequence was,
that people's crinoline collapsed faster than the Confederacy did, of
which that brute of a Grierson said there was never anything of it but
Of course, then, I put in the bottom of my new large trunk in New
York, not a duplex elliptic, for none were then made, but a
Belmonte, of thirty springs, for my wife. I bought, for her more
common wear, a good Belle-Fontaine. For Sarah and Susy each, I got
two Dumb-Belles. For Aunt Eunice and Aunt Clara, maiden sisters of my
wife, who lived with us after Winchester fell the fourth time, I got
the Scotch Harebell, two of each. For my own mother I got one Belle
of the Prairies and one Invisible Combination Gossamer. I did not
forget good old Mamma Chloe and Mamma Jane. For them I got substantial
cages, without names. With these, tied in the shapes of figure eights
in the bottom of my trunk, as I said, I put in an assorted cargo of
dry-goods above, and, favored by a pass, and Major Mulford's courtesy
on the flag-of-truce boat, I arrived safely at Richmond before the
I was received at home with rapture. But when, the next morning, I
opened my stores, this became rapture doubly enraptured. Words cannot
tell the silent delight with which old and young, black and white,
surveyed these fairy-like structures, yet unbroken and unmended.
Perennial summer reigned that autumn day in that reunited family. It
reigned the next day, and the next. It would have reigned till now if
the Belmontes and the other things would last as long as the
advertisements declare; and, what is more, the Confederacy would have
reigned till now, President Davis and General Lee! but for that great
misery, which all families understand, which culminated in our great
I was up in the cedar closet one day, looking for an old parade cap
of mine, which I thought, though it was my third best, might look
better than my second best, which I had worn ever since my best was
lost at the Seven Pines. I say I was standing on the lower shelf of the
cedar closet, when, as I stepped along in the darkness, my right foot
caught in a bit of wire, my left did not give way in time, and I fell,
with a small wooden hat-box in my hand, full on the floor. The corner
of the hat-box struck me just below the second frontal sinus, and I
When I came to myself I was in the blue chamber; I had vinegar on a
brown paper on my forehead; the room was dark, and I found mother
sitting by me, glad enough indeed to hear my voice, and to know that I
knew her. It was some time before I fully understood what had happened.
Then she brought me a cup of tea, and I, quite refreshed, said I must
go to the office.
Office, my child! said she. Your leg is broken above the ankle;
you will not move these six weeks. Where do you suppose you are?
Till then I had no notion that it was five minutes since I went into
the closet. When she told me the time, five in the afternoon, I groaned
in the lowest depths. For, in my breast pocket in that innocent coat,
which I could now see lying on the window-seat, were the duplicate
despatches to Mr. Mason, for which, late the night before, I had got
the Secretary's signature. They were to go at ten that morning to
Wilmington, by the Navy Department's special messenger. I had taken
them to insure care and certainty. I had worked on them till midnight,
and they had not been signed till near one o'clock. Heavens and earth,
and here it was five o'clock! The man must be half-way to Wilmington by
this time. I sent the doctor for Lafarge, my clerk. Lafarge did his
prettiest in rushing to the telegraph. But no! A freshet on the Chowan
River, or a raid by Foster, or something, or nothing, had smashed the
telegraph wire for that night. And before that despatch ever reached
Wilmington the navy agent was in the offing in the Sea Maid.
But perhaps the duplicate got through? No, breathless reader, the
duplicate did not get through. The duplicate was taken by Faucon, in
the Ino. I saw it last week in Dr. Lieber's hands, in Washington. Well,
all I know is, that if the duplicate had got through, the Confederate
government would have had in March a chance at eighty-three thousand
two hundred and eleven muskets, which, as it was, never left Belgium.
So much for my treading into that blessed piece of wire on the shelf of
the cedar closet, up stairs.
What was the bit of wire?
Well, it was not telegraph wire. If it had been, it would have
broken when it was not wanted to. Don't you know what it was? Go up in
your own cedar closet, and step about in the dark, and see what brings
up round your ankles. Julia, poor child, cried her eyes out about it.
When I got well enough to sit up, and as soon as I could talk and plan
with her, she brought down seven of these old things, antiquated
Belmontes and Simplex Elliptics, and horrors without a name, and she
made a pile of them in the bedroom, and asked me in the most penitent
way what she should do with them.
You can't burn them, said she; fire won't touch them. If you bury
them in the garden, they come up at the second raking. If you give them
to the servants, they say, 'Thank-e, missus,' and throw them in the
back passage. If you give them to the poor, they throw them into the
street in front, and do not say, 'Thank-e.' Sarah sent seventeen over
to the sword factory, and the foreman swore at the boy, and told him he
would flog him within an inch of his life if he brought any more of his
sauce there; and soand so, sobbed the poor child, I just rolled up
these wretched things, and laid them in the cedar closet, hoping, you
know, that some day the government would want something, and would
advertise for them. You know what a good thing I made out of the bottle
In fact, she had sold our bottle corks for four thousand two hundred
and sixteen dollars of the first issue. We afterward bought two
umbrellas and a corkscrew with the money.
Well, I did not scold Julia. It was certainly no fault of hers that
I was walking on the lower shelf of her cedar closet. I told her to
make a parcel of the things, and the first time we went to drive I hove
the whole shapeless heap into the river, without saying mass for them.
But let no man think, or no woman, that this was the end of
troubles. As I look back on that winter, and on the spring of 1865 (I
do not mean the steel spring), it seems to me only the beginning. I got
out on crutches at last; I had the office transferred to my house, so
that Lafarge and Hepburn could work there nights, and communicate with
me when I could not go out; but mornings I hobbled up to the
Department, and sat with the Chief, and took his orders. Ah me! shall I
soon forget that damp winter morning, when we all had such hope at the
office. One or two of the army fellows looked in at the window as they
ran by, and we knew that they felt well; and though I would not ask Old
Wick, as we had nicknamed the Chief, what was in the wind, I knew the
time had come, and that the lion meant to break the net this time. I
made an excuse to go home earlier than usual; rode down to the house in
the Major's ambulance, I remember; and hopped in, to surprise Julia
with the good news, only to find that the whole house was in that quiet
uproar which shows that something bad has happened of a sudden.
What is it, Chloe? said I, as the old wench rushed by me with a
bucket of water.
Poor Mr. George, I 'fraid he's dead, sah!
And there he really was,dear handsome, bright George Schaff,the
delight of all the nicest girls of Richmond; he lay there on Aunt
Eunice's bed on the ground floor, where they had brought him in. He was
not dead,and he did not die. He is making cotton in Texas now. But he
looked mighty near it then. The deep cut in his head was the worst I
then had ever seen, and the blow confused everything. When McGregor got
round, he said it was not hopeless; but we were all turned out of the
room, and with one thing and another he got the boy out of the swoon,
and somehow it proved his head was not broken.
No, but poor George swears to this day it were better it had been,
if it could only have been broken the right way and on the right field.
For that evening we heard that everything had gone wrong in the
surprise. There we had been waiting for one of those early fogs, and at
last the fog had come. And Jubal Early had, that morning, pushed out
every man he had, that could stand; and they lay hid for three mortal
hours, within I don't know how near the picket line at Fort Powhatan,
only waiting for the shot which John Streight's party were to fire at
Wilson's Wharf, as soon as somebody on our left centre advanced in
force on the enemy's line above Turkey Island stretching across to
Nansemond. I am not in the War Department, and I forget whether he was
to advance en barbette or by échelon of infantry. But he
was to advance somehow, and he knew how; and when he advanced, you see,
that other man lower down was to rush in, and as soon as Early heard
him he was to surprise Powhatan, you see; and then, if you have
understood me, Grant and Butler and the whole rig of them would have
been cut off from their supplies, would have had to fight a battle for
which they were not prepared, with their right made into a new left,
and their old left unexpectedly advanced at an oblique angle from their
centre, and would not that have been the end of them?
Well, that never happened. And the reason it never happened was,
that poor George Schaff, with the last fatal order for this man whose
name I forget (the same who was afterward killed the day before High
Bridge), undertook to save time by cutting across behind my house, from
Franklin to Green Streets. You know how much time he saved,they
waited all day for that order. George told me afterwards that the last
thing he remembered was kissing his hand to Julia, who sat at her
bedroom window. He said he thought she might be the last woman he ever
saw this side of heaven. Just after that, it must have been,his
horsethat white Messenger colt old Williams bredwent over like a
log, and poor George was pitched fifteen feet head-foremost against a
stake there was in that lot. Julia saw the whole. She rushed out with
all the women, and had just brought him in when I got home. And that
was the reason that the great promised combination of December, 1864,
never came off at all.
I walked out in the lot, after McGregor turned me out of the
chamber, to see what they had done with the horse. There he lay, as
dead as old Messenger himself. His neck was broken. And do you think, I
looked to see what had tripped him. I supposed it was one of the boys'
bandy holes. It was no such thing. The poor wretch had tangled his hind
legs in one of those infernal hoop-wires that Chloe had thrown out in
the piece when I gave her her new ones. Though I did not know it then,
those fatal scraps of rusty steel had broken the neck that day of
Robert Lee's army.
That time I made a row about it. I felt too badly to go into a
passion. But before the women went to bed,they were all in the
sitting-room together,I talked to them like a father. I did not
swear. I had got over that for a while, in that six weeks on my back.
But I did say the old wires were infernal things, and that the house
and premises must be made rid of them. The aunts laughed,though I was
so serious,and tipped a wink to the girls. The girls wanted to laugh,
but were afraid to. And then it came out that the aunts had sold their
old hoops, tied as tight as they could tie them, in a great mass of
rags. They had made a fortune by the sale,I am sorry to say it was in
other rags, but the rags they got were new instead of old,it was a
real Aladdin bargain. The new rags had blue backs, and were numbered,
some as high as fifty dollars. The rag-man had been in a hurry, and had
not known what made the things so heavy. I frowned at the swindle, but
they said all was fair with a pedler,and I own I was glad the things
were well out of Richmond. But when I said I thought it was a mean
trick, Lizzie and Sarah looked demure, and asked what in the world I
would have them do with the old things. Did I expect them to walk down
to the bridge themselves with great parcels to throw into the river, as
I had done by Julia's? Of course it ended, as such things always do, by
my taking the work on my own shoulders. I told them to tie up all they
had in as small a parcel as they could, and bring them to me.
Accordingly, the next day, I found a handsome brown paper parcel,
not so very large, considering, and strangely square, considering,
which the minxes had put together and left on my office table. They had
a great frolic over it. They had not spared red tape nor red wax. Very
official it looked, indeed, and on the left-hand corner, in Sarah's
boldest and most contorted hand, was written, Secret service. We had
a great laugh over their success. And, indeed, I should have taken it
with me the next time I went down to the Tredegar, but that I happened
to dine one evening with young Norton of our gallant little navy, and a
very curious thing he told us.
We were talking about the disappointment of the combined land
attack. I did not tell what upset poor Schaff's horse; indeed, I do not
think those navy men knew the details of the disappointment. O'Brien
had told me, in confidence, what I have written down probably for the
first time now. But we were speaking, in a general way, of the
disappointment. Norton finished his cigar rather thoughtfully, and then
said: Well, fellows, it is not worth while to put in the newspapers,
but what do you suppose upset our grand naval attack, the day the
Yankee gunboats skittled down the river so handsomely?
Why, said Allen, who is Norton's best-beloved friend, they say
that you ran away from them as fast as they did from you.
Do they? said Norton, grimly. If you say that, I'll break your
head for you. Seriously, men, continued he, that was a most
extraordinary thing. You know I was on the ram. But why she stopped
when she stopped I knew as little as this wineglass does; and Callender
himself knew no more than I. We had not been hit. We were all right as
a trivet for all we knew, when, skree! she began blowing off steam, and
we stopped dead, and began to drift down under those batteries.
Callender had to telegraph to the little Mosquito, or whatever Walter
called his boat, and the spunky little thing ran down and got us out of
the scrape. Walter did it right well; if he had had a monitor under him
he could not have done better. Of course we all rushed to the
engine-room. What in thunder were they at there? All they knew was they
could get no water into her boiler.
Now, fellows, this is the end of the story. As soon as the boilers
cooled off they worked all right on those supply pumps. May I be hanged
if they had not sucked in, somehow, a long string of yarn, and cloth,
and, if you will believe me, a wire of some woman's crinoline. And that
French folly of a sham Empress cut short that day the victory of the
Confederate navy, and old Davis himself can't tell when we shall have
such a chance again!
Some of the men thought Norton lied. But I never was with him when
he did not tell the truth. I did not mention, however, what I had
thrown into the water the last time I had gone over to Manchester. And
I changed my mind about Sarah's secret-service parcel. It remained on
That was the last dinner our old club had at the Spotswood, I
believe. The spring came on, and the plot thickened. We did our work in
the office as well as we could; I can speak for mine, and if other
peoplebut no matter for that! The 3d of April came, and the fire, and
the right wing of Grant's army. I remember I was glad then that I had
moved the office down to the house, for we were out of the way there.
Everybody had run away from the Department; and so, when the powers
that be took possession, my little sub-bureau was unmolested for some
days. I improved those days as well as I could,burning carefully what
was to be burned, and hiding carefully what was to be hidden. One thing
that happened then belongs to this story. As I was at work on the
private bureau,it was really a bureau, as it happened, one I had made
Aunt Eunice give up when I broke my leg,I came, to my horror, on a
neat parcel of coast-survey maps of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. They
were not the same Maury stole when he left the National Observatory,
but they were like them. Now I was perfectly sure that on that fatal
Sunday of the flight I had sent Lafarge for these, that the President
might use them, if necessary, in his escape. When I found them, I
hopped out and called for Julia, and asked her if she did not remember
his coming for them. Certainly, she said, it was the first I knew of
the danger. Lafarge came, asked for the key of the office, told me all
was up, walked in, and in a moment was gone.
And here, on the file of April 3d, was Lafarge's line to me:
I got the secret-service parcel myself, and have put it in the
President's own hands. I marked it, 'Gulf coast,' as you bade me.
What could Lafarge have given to the President? Not the soundings of
Hatteras Bar. Not the working-drawings of the first monitor. I had all
these under my hand. Could it be,Julia, what did we do with that
stuff of Sarah's that she marked secret service?
As I live, we had sent the girls' old hoops to the President in his
And when the next day we read how he used them, and how Pritchard
arrested him, we thought if he had only had the right parcel he would
have found the way to Florida.
That is really the end of this memoir. But I should not have written
it, but for something that happened just now on the piazza. You must
know, some of us wrecks are up here at the Berkeley baths. My uncle has
a place near here. Here came to-day John Sisson, whom I have not seen
since Memminger ran and took the clerks with him. Here we had before,
both the Richards brothers, the great paper men, you know, who started
the Edgerly Works in Prince George's County, just after the war began.
After dinner, Sisson and they met on the piazza. Queerly enough, they
had never seen each other before, though they had used reams of
Richards's paper in correspondence with each other, and the treasury
had used tons of it in the printing of bonds and bank-bills. Of course
we all fell to talking of old times,old they seem now, though it is
not a year ago. Richards, said Sisson at last, what became of that
last order of ours for water-lined, pure linen government-callendered
paper of sureté? We never got it, and I never knew why.
Did you think Kilpatrick got it? said Richards, rather gruffly.
None of your chaff, Richards. Just tell where the paper went, for
in the loss of that lot of paper, as it proved, the bottom dropped out
of the Treasury tub. On that paper was to have been printed our new
issue of ten per cent, convertible, you know, and secured on that
up-country cotton, which Kirby Smith had above the Big Raft. I had the
printers ready for near a month waiting for that paper. The plates were
really very handsome. I'll show you a proof when we go up stairs.
Wholly new they were, made by some Frenchmen we got, who had worked for
the Bank of France. I was so anxious to have the thing well done, that
I waited three weeks for that paper, and, by Jove, I waited just too
long. We never got one of the bonds off, and that was why we had no
money in March.
Richards threw his cigar away. I will not say he swore between his
teeth, but he twirled his chair round, brought it down on all fours,
both his elbows on his knees and his chin in both hands.
Mr. Sisson, said he, if the Confederacy had lived, I would have
died before I ever told what became of that order of yours. But now I
have no secrets, I believe, and I care for nothing. I do not know now
how it happened. We knew it was an extra nice job. And we had it on an
elegant little new French Fourdrinier, which cost us more than we shall
ever pay. The pretty thing ran like oil the day before. That day, I
thought all the devils were in it. The more power we put on the more
the rollers screamed; and the less we put on, the more sulkily the jade
stopped. I tried it myself every way; back current, I tried; forward
current; high feed; low freed, I tried it on old stock, I tried it on
new; and, Mr. Sisson, I would have made better paper in a coffee-mill!
We drained off every drop of water. We washed the tubs free from size.
Then my brother, there, worked all night with the machinists, taking
down the frame and the rollers. You would not believe it, sir, but that
little bit of wire,and he took out of his pocket a piece of this
hateful steel, which poor I knew so well by this time,that little
bit of wire had passed in from some hoop-skirt, passed the pickers,
passed the screens, through all the troughs, up and down through what
we call the lacerators, and had got itself wrought in, where, if you
know a Fourdrinier machine, you may have noticed a brass ring riveted
to the cross-bar, and there this cursed little knifefor you see it
was a knife, by that timehad been cutting to pieces the endless wire
web every time the machine was started. You lost your bonds, Mr.
Sisson, because some Yankee woman cheated one of my rag-men.
On that story I came up stairs. Poor Aunt Eunice! She was the reason
I got no salary on the 1st of April. I thought I would warn other women
by writing down the story.
That fatal present of mine, in those harmless hourglass parcels, was
the ruin of the Confederate navy, army, ordnance, and treasury; and it
led to the capture of the poor President too.
But, Heaven be praised, no one shall say that my office did not do
CHRISTMAS WAITS IN BOSTON.
FROM THE INGHAM PAPERS.
[When my friends of the Boston Daily Advertiser asked me last
to contribute to their Christmas number, I was very glad to
this scrap of Mr. Ingham's memoirs.
For in most modern Christmas stories I have observed that the
wake up of a sudden to befriend the poor, and that the moral
educed from such compassion. The incidents in this story show,
all life shows, that the poor befriend the rich as truly as
rich the poor: that, in the Christian life, each needs all.
I have been asked a dozen times how far the story is true. Of
course no such series of incidents has ever taken place in
order in four or five hours. But there is nothing told here
has not parallels perfectly fair in my experience or in that
I always give myself a Christmas present.
And on this particular year the present was a carol party, which is
about as good fun, all things consenting kindly, as a man can have.
Many things must consent, as will appear. First of all, there must
be good sleighing; and second, a fine night for Christmas eve. Ours are
not the carollings of your poor shivering little East Angles or South
Mercians, where they have to plod round afoot in countries which do not
know what a sleigh-ride is.
I had asked Harry to have sixteen of the best voices in the chapel
school to be trained to five or six good carols, without knowing why.
We did not care to disappoint them if a February thaw setting in on the
24th of December should break up the spree before it began. Then I had
told Howland that he must reserve for me a span of good horses, and a
sleigh that I could pack sixteen small children into, tight-stowed.
Howland is always good about such things, knew what the sleigh was for,
having done the same in other years, and made the span four horses of
his own accord, because the children would like it better, and it
would be no difference to him. Sunday night, as the weather nymphs
ordered, the wind hauled round to the northwest and everything froze
hard. Monday night, things moderated and the snow began to fall
steadily,so steadily; and so Tuesday night the Metropolitan people
gave up their unequal contest, all good men and angels rejoicing at
their discomfiture, and only a few of the people in the very lowest
Bolgie being ill-natured enough to grieve. And thus it was, that by
Thursday evening was one hard compact roadway from Copp's Hill to the
Bone-burner's Gehenna, fit for good men and angels to ride over,
without jar, without noise, and without fatigue to horse or man. So it
was that when I came down with Lycidas to the chapel at seven o'clock,
I found Harry had gathered there his eight pretty girls and his eight
jolly boys, and had them practising for the last time,
Carol, carol, Christians,
Carol for the coming
Of Christ's nativity.
I think the children had got inkling of what was coming, or perhaps
Harry had hinted it to their mothers. Certainly they were warmly
dressed, and when, fifteen minutes afterwards, Howland came round
himself with the sleigh, he had put in as many rugs and bear-skins as
if he thought the children were to be taken new-born from their
respective cradles. Great was the rejoicing as the bells of the horses
rang beneath the chapel windows, and Harry did not get his last da
capo for his last carol. Not much matter indeed, for they were
perfect enough in it before midnight.
Lycidas and I tumbled in on the back seat, each with a child in his
lap to keep us warm; I flanked by Sam Perry, and he by John Rich, both
of the mercurial age, and therefore good to do errands. Harry was in
front somewhere flanked in like wise, and the other children lay in
miscellaneously between, like sardines when you have first opened the
box. I had invited Lycidas, because, besides being my best friend, he
is the best fellow in the world, and so deserves the best Christmas eve
can give him. Under the full moon, on the still white snow, with
sixteen children at the happiest, and with the blessed memories of the
best the world has ever had, there can be nothing better than two or
three such hours.
First, driver, out on Commonwealth Avenue. That will tone down the
horses. Stop on the left after you have passed Fairfield Street. So we
dashed up to the front of Haliburton's palace, where he was keeping his
first Christmas tide. And the children, whom Harry had hushed down for
a square or two, broke forth with good full voice under his strong lead
Shepherd of tender sheep,
singing with all that unconscious pathos with which children do
sing, and starting the tears in your eyes in the midst of your
gladness. The instant the horses' bells stopped their voices began. In
an instant more we saw Haliburton and Anna run to the window and pull
up the shades, and in a minute more faces at all the windows. And so
the children sung through Clement's old hymn. Little did Clement think
of bells and snow, as he taught it in his Sunday school there in
Alexandria. But perhaps to-day, as they pin up the laurels and the palm
in the chapel at Alexandria, they are humming the words, not thinking
of Clement more than he thought of us. As the children closed with
Swell the triumphant song
To Christ, our King,
Haliburton came running out, and begged me to bring them in. But I
told him, No, as soon as I could hush their shouts of Merry
Christmas; that we had a long journey before us, and must not alight
by the way. And the children broke out with
Hail to the night,
Hail to the day,
rather a favorite,quicker and more to the childish taste perhaps
than the other,and with another Merry Christmas we were off again.
Off, the length of Commonwealth Avenue, to where it crosses the
Brookline branch of the Mill-Dam, dashing along with the gayest of the
sleighing-parties as we came back into town, up Chestnut Street,
through Louisburg Square; ran the sleigh into a bank on the slope of
Pinckney Street in front of Walter's house; and, before they suspected
there that any one had come, the children were singing
Carol, carol, Christians,
Kisses flung from the window; kisses flung back from the street.
Merry Christmas again with a good-will, and then one of the girls
When Anna took the baby,
And pressed his lips to hers,
and all of them fell in so cheerily. O dear me! it is a scrap of old
Ephrem the Syrian, if they did but know it! And when, after this, Harry
would fain have driven on, because two carols at one house was the
rule, how the little witches begged that they might sing just one song
more there, because Mrs. Alexander had been so kind to them, when she
showed them about the German stitches. And then up the hill and over to
the North End, and as far as we could get the horses up into Moon
Court, that they might sing to the Italian image-man who gave Lucy the
boy and dog in plaster, when she was sick in the spring. For the
children had, you know, the choice of where they would go, and they
select their best friends, and will be more apt to remember the Italian
image-man than Chrysostom himself, though Chrysostom should have made
a few remarks to them seventeen times in the chapel. Then the Italian
image-man heard for the first time in his life
Now is the time of Christmas come,
Jesus in his babes abiding.
And then we came up Hanover Street and stopped under Mr. Gerry's
chapel, where they were dressing the walls with their evergreens, and
Hail to the night,
Hail to the day;
and so down State Street and stopped at the Advertiser office,
because, when the boys gave their Literary Entertainment, Mr. Hale
put in their advertisement for nothing, and up in the old attic there
the compositors were relieved to hear
Nor war nor battle sound,
The waiting world was still;
so that even the leading editor relaxed from his gravity, and the
In-General man from his more serious views, and the Daily the next
morning wished everybody a merry Christmas with even more unction, and
resolved that in coming years it would have a supplement, large enough
to contain all the good wishes. So away again to the houses of
confectioners who had given the children candy,to Miss Simonds's
house, because she had been so good to them in school,to the palaces
of millionnaires who had prayed for these children with tears if the
children only knew it,to Dr. Frothingham's in Summer Street, I
remember, where we stopped because the Boston Association of Ministers
met here,and out on Dover Street Bridge, that the poor chair-mender
might hear our carols sung once more before he heard them better sung
in another world where nothing needs mending.
King of glory, king of peace!
Here the song, and see the Star!
Welcome be thou, heavenly King!
Was not Christ our Saviour?
and all the others, rung out with order or without order, breaking
the hush directly as the horses' bells were stilled, thrown into the
air with all the gladness of childhood, selected sometimes as Harry
happened to think best for the hearers, but more often as the jubilant
and uncontrolled enthusiasm of the children bade them break out in the
most joyous, least studied, and purely lyrical of all. O, we went to
twenty places that night, I suppose! We went to the grandest places in
Boston, and we went to the meanest. Everywhere they wished us a merry
Christmas, and we them. Everywhere a little crowd gathered round us,
and then we dashed away far enough to gather quite another crowd; and
then back, perhaps, not sorry to double on our steps if need were, and
leaving every crowd with a happy thought of
The star, the manger, and the Child!
At nine we brought up at my house, D Street, three doors from the
corner, and the children picked their very best for Polly and my six
little girls to hear, and then for the first time we let them jump out
and run in. Polly had some hot oysters for them, so that the frolic was
crowned with a treat. There was a Christmas cake cut into sixteen
pieces, which they took home to dream upon; and then hoods and muffs on
again, and by ten o'clock, or a little after, we had all the girls and
all the little ones at their homes. Four of the big boys, our two
flankers and Harry's right and left hand men, begged that they might
stay till the last moment. They could walk back from the stable, and
rather walk than not, indeed. To which we assented, having gained
parental permission, as we left younger sisters in their respective
Lycidas and I both thought, as we went into these modest houses, to
leave the children, to say they had been good and to wish a Merry
Christmas ourselves to fathers, mothers, and to guardian aunts, that
the welcome of those homes was perhaps the best part of it all. Here
was the great stout sailor-boy whom we had not seen since he came back
from sea. He was a mere child when he left our school years on years
ago, for the East, on board Perry's vessel, and had been round the
world. Here was brave Mrs. Masury. I had not seen her since her mother
died. Indeed, Mr. Ingham, I got so used to watching then, that I
cannot sleep well yet o' nights; I wish you knew some poor creature
that wanted me to-night, if it were only in memory of Bethlehem. You
take a deal of trouble for the children, said Campbell, as he crushed
my hand in his; but you know they love you, and you know I would do as
much for you and yours,which I knew was true. What can I send to
your children? said Dalton, who was finishing sword-blades. (Ill wind
was Fort Sumter, but it blew good to poor Dalton, whom it set up in the
world with his sword-factory.) Here's an old-fashioned tape-measure
for the girl, and a Sheffield wimble for the boy. What, there is no
boy? Let one of the girls have it then; it will count one more present
for her. And so he pressed his brown-paper parcel into my hand. From
every house, though it were the humblest, a word of love, as sweet, in
truth, as if we could have heard the voice of angels singing in the
I bade Harry good night; took Lycidas to his lodgings, and gave his
wife my Christmas wishes and good night; and, coming down to the sleigh
again, gave way to the feeling which I think you will all understand,
that this was not the time to stop, but just the time to begin. For the
streets were stiller now, and the moon brighter than ever, if possible,
and the blessings of these simple people and of the grand people, and
of the very angels in heaven, who are not bound to the misery of using
words when they have anything worth saying,all these wishes and
blessings were round me, all the purity of the still winter night, and
I didn't want to lose it all by going to bed to sleep. So I put the
boys all together, where they could chatter, took one more brisk turn
on the two avenues, and then, passing through Charles Street, I believe
I was even thinking of Cambridge, I noticed the lights in Woodhull's
house, and, seeing they were up, thought I would make Fanny a midnight
call. She came to the door herself. I asked if she were waiting for
Santa Claus, but saw in a moment that I must not joke with her. She
said she had hoped I was her husband. In a minute was one of those
contrasts which make life, life. God puts us into the world that we may
try them and be tried by them. Poor Fanny's mother had been blocked up
on the Springfield train as she was coming on to Christmas. The old
lady had been chilled through, and was here in bed now with pneumonia.
Both Fanny's children had been ailing when she came, and this morning
the doctor had pronounced it scarlet fever. Fanny had not undressed
herself since Monday, nor slept, I thought, in the same time. So while
we had been singing carols and wishing merry Christmas, the poor child
had been waiting, and hoping that her husband or Edward, both of whom
were on the tramp, would find for her and bring to her the model nurse,
who had not yet appeared. But at midnight this unknown sister had not
arrived, nor had either of the men returned. When I rang, Fanny had
hoped I was one of them. Professional paragons, dear reader, are shy of
scarlet fever. I told the poor child that it was better as it was. I
wrote a line for Sam Perry to take to his aunt, Mrs. Masury, in which I
simply said: Dear mamma, I have found the poor creature who wants you
to-night. Come back in this carriage. I bade him take a hack at
Gates's, where they were all up waiting for the assembly to be done at
Papanti's. I sent him over to Albany Street; and really as I sat there
trying to soothe Fanny, it seemed to me less time than it has taken to
dictate this little story about her, before Mrs. Masury rang gently,
and I left them, having made Fanny promise that she would consecrate
the day, which at that moment was born, by trusting God, by going to
bed and going to sleep, knowing that her children were in much better
hands than hers. As I passed out of the hall, the gas-light fell on a
print of Correggio's Adoration, where Woodhull had himself written
Ut appareat iis qui in tenebris et umbra mortis positi sunt.
Darkness and the shadow of death indeed, and what light like the
light and comfort such a woman as my Mary Masury brings!
And so, but for one of the accidents, as we call them, I should have
dropped the boys at the corner of Dover Street, and gone home with my
But it happened, as we irreverently say,it happened as we crossed
Park Square, so called from its being an irregular pentagon of which
one of the sides has been taken away, that I recognized a tall man,
plodding across in the snow, head down, round-shouldered, stooping
forward in walking, with his right shoulder higher than his left; and
by these tokens I knew Tom Coram, prince among Boston princes. Not
Thomas Coram that built the Foundling Hospital, though he was of Boston
too; but he was longer ago. You must look for him in Addison's
contribution to a supplement to the Spectator,the old Spectator, I
mean, not the Thursday Spectator, which is more recent. Not Thomas
Coram, I say, but Tom Coram, who would build a hospital to-morrow, if
you showed him the need, without waiting to die first, and always helps
forward, as a prince should, whatever is princely, be it a statue at
home, a school in Richmond, a newspaper in Florida, a church in Exeter,
a steam-line to Liverpool, or a widow who wants a hundred dollars. I
wished him a merry Christmas, and Mr. Howland, by a fine instinct, drew
up the horses as I spoke. Coram shook hands; and, as it seldom happens
that I have an empty carriage while he is on foot, I asked him if I
might not see him home. He was glad to get in. We wrapped him up with
spoils of the bear, the fox, and the bison, turned the horses' heads
again,five hours now since they started on this entangled errand of
theirs,and gave him his ride. I was thinking of you at the moment,
said Coram,thinking of old college times, of the mystery of language
as unfolded by the Abbé Faria to Edmond Dantes in the depths of the
Chateau d'If. I was wondering if you could teach me Japanese, if I
asked you to a Christmas dinner. I laughed. Japan was really a novelty
then, and I asked him since when he had been in correspondence with the
sealed country. It seemed that their house at Shanghae had just sent
across there their agents for establishing the first house in Edomo, in
Japan, under the new treaty. Everything looked promising, and the
beginnings were made for the branch which has since become Dot and
Trevilyan there. Of this he had the first tidings in his letters by the
mail of that afternoon. John Coram, his brother, had written to him,
and had said that he enclosed for his amusement the Japanese bill of
particulars, as it had been drawn out, on which they had founded their
orders for the first assorted cargo ever to be sent from America to
Edomo. Bill of particulars there was, stretching down the long
tissue-paper in exquisite chirography. But by some freak of the total
depravity of things, the translated order for the assorted cargo was
not there. John Coram, in his care to fold up the Japanese writing
nicely, had left on his own desk at Shanghae the more intelligible
English. And so I must wait, said Tom philosophically, till the next
East India mail for my orders, certain that seven English houses have
had less enthusiastic and philological correspondents than my brother.
I said I did not see that. That I could not teach him to speak the
Taghalian dialects so well, that he could read them with facility
before Saturday. But I could do a good deal better. Did he remember
writing a note to old Jack Percival for me five years ago? No, he
remembered no such thing; he knew Jack Percival, but never wrote a note
to him in his life. Did he remember giving me fifty dollars, because I
had taken a delicate boy, whom I was going to send to sea, and I was
not quite satisfied with the government outfit? No, he did not remember
that, which was not strange, for that was a thing he was doing every
day. Well, I don't care how much you remember, but the boy about whom
you wrote to Jack Percival, for whose mother's ease of mind you
provided the half-hundred, is back again,strong, straight, and well;
what is more to the point, he had the whole charge of Perry's
commissariat on shore at Yokohama, was honorably discharged out there,
reads Japanese better than you read English; and if it will help you at
all, he shall be here at your house at breakfast. For as I spoke we
stopped at Coram's door. Ingham, said Coram, if you were not a
parson, I should say you were romancing. My child, said I, I
sometimes write a parable for the Atlantic; but the words of my lips
are verity, as all those of the Sandemanians. Go to bed; do not even
dream of the Taghalian dialects; be sure that the Japanese interpreter
will breakfast with you, and the next time you are in a scrape send for
the nearest minister. George, tell your brother Ezra that Mr. Coram
wishes him to breakfast here to-morrow morning at eight o'clock; don't
forget the number, Pemberton Square, you know. Yes, sir, said
George; and Thomas Coram laughed, said Merry Christmas, and we
It was time we were all in bed, especially these boys. But glad
enough am I as I write these words that the meeting of Coram set us
back that dropped-stitch in our night's journey. There was one more
delay. We were sweeping by the Old State House, the boys singing again,
Carol, carol, Christians, as we dashed along the still streets, when
I caught sight of Adams Todd, and he recognized me. He had heard us
singing when we were at the Advertiser office. Todd is an old
fellow-apprentice of mine,and he is now, or rather was that night,
chief pressman in the Argus office. I like the Argus people,it was
there that I was South American Editor, now many years ago,and they
befriend me to this hour. Todd hailed me, and once more I stopped.
What sent you out from your warm steam-boiler? Steam-boiler,
indeed, said Todd. Two rivets loose,steam-room full of
steam,police frightened,neighborhood in a row,and we had to put
out the fire. She would have run a week without hurting a fly,only a
little puff in the street sometimes. But there we are, Ingham. We shall
lose the early mail as it stands. Seventy-eight tokens to be worked
now. They always talked largely of their edition at the Argus. Saw it
with many eyes, perhaps; but this time, I am sure, Todd spoke true. I
caught his idea at once. In younger and more muscular times, Todd and I
had worked the Adams press by that fly-wheel for full five minutes at a
time, as a test of strength; and in my mind's eye, I saw that he was
printing his paper at this moment with relays of grinding stevedores.
He said it was so. But think of it to-night, said he. It is
Christmas eve, and not an Irishman to be hired, though one paid him
ingots. Not a man can stand the grind ten minutes. I knew that very
well from old experience, and I thanked him inwardly for not saying
the demnition grind, with Mantilini. We cannot run the press half
the time, said he; and the men we have are giving out now. We shall
lose all our carrier delivery. Todd, said I, is this a night to be
talking of ingots, or hiring, or losing, or gaining? When will you
learn that Love rules the court, the camp, and the Argus office. And I
wrote on the back of a letter to Campbell: Come to the Argus office,
No. 2 Dassett's Alley, with seven men not afraid to work; and I gave
it to John and Sam, bade Howland take the boys to Campbell's
house,walked down with Todd to his office,challenged him to take
five minutes at the wheel, in memory of old times,made the tired
relays laugh as they saw us take hold; and then,when I had cooled
off, and put on my Cardigan,met Campbell, with his seven sons of
Anak, tumbling down the stairs, wondering what round of mercy the
parson had found for them this time. I started home, knowing I should
now have my Argus with my coffee.
And so I walked home. Better so, perhaps, after all, than in the
lively sleigh, with the tinkling bells.
It was a calm and silent night!
Seven hundred years and fifty-three
Had Rome been growing up to might,
And now was queen of land and sea!
No sound was heard of clashing wars,
Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain;
Apollo, Pallas, Jove, and Mars
Held undisturbed their ancient reign
In the solemn midnight,
What an eternity it seemed since I started with those children
singing carols. Bethlehem, Nazareth, Calvary, Rome, Roman senators,
Tiberius, Paul, Nero, Clement, Ephrem, Ambrose, and all the
singers,Vincent de Paul, and all the loving wonder-workers, Milton
and Herbert and all the carol-writers, Luther and Knox and all the
prophets,what a world of people had been keeping Christmas with Sam
Perry and Lycidas and Harry and me; and here were Yokohama and the
Japanese, the Daily Argus and its ten million tokens and their
readers,poor Fanny Woodhull and her sick mother there, keeping
Christmas too! For a finite world, these are a good many waits to be
singing in one poor fellow's ears on one Christmas-tide.
'T was in the calm and silent night!
The senator of haughty Rome,
Impatient urged his chariot's flight,
From lordly revel, rolling home.
Triumphal arches gleaming swell
His breast, with thoughts of boundless sway.
What recked the Roman what befell
A paltry province far away,
In the solemn midnight,
Within that province far away
Went plodding home a weary boor;
A streak of light before him lay,
Fallen through a half-shut stable door
Across his path. He passed,for naught
Told what was going on within;
How keen the stars, his only thought,
The air how calm and cold and thin,
In the solemn midnight,
Streak of lightIs there a light in Lycidas's room? They not in
bed! That is making a night of it! Well, there are few hours of the day
or night when I have not been in Lycidas's room, so I let myself in by
the night-key he gave me, ran up the stairs,it is a horrid
seven-storied, first-class lodging-house. For my part, I had as lief
live in a steeple. Two flights I ran up, two steps at a time,I was
younger then than I am now,pushed open the door which was ajar, and
saw such a scene of confusion as I never saw in Mary's over-nice parlor
before. Queer! I remember the first thing that I saw was wrong was a
great ball of white German worsted on the floor. Her basket was upset.
A great Christmas-tree lay across the rug, quite too high for the room;
a large sharp-pointed Spanish clasp-knife was by it, with which they
had been lopping it; there were two immense baskets of white papered
presents, both upset; but what frightened me most was the centre-table.
Three or four handkerchiefs on it,towels, napkins, I know not
what,all brown and red and almost black with blood! I turned,
heart-sick, to look into the bedroom,and I really had a sense of
relief when I saw somebody. Bad enough it was, however. Lycidas, but
just now so strong and well, lay pale and exhausted on the bloody bed,
with the clothing removed from his right thigh and leg, while over him
bent Mary and Morton. I learned afterwards that poor Lycidas, while
trimming the Christmas-tree, and talking merrily with Mary and
Morton,who, by good luck, had brought round his presents late, and
was staying to tie on glass balls and apples,had given himself a deep
and dangerous wound with the point of the unlucky knife, and had lost a
great deal of blood before the hemorrhage could be controlled. Just
before I entered, the stick tourniquet which Morton had improvised had
slipped in poor Mary's unpractised hand, at the moment he was about to
secure the bleeding artery, and the blood followed in such a gush as
compelled him to give his whole attention to stopping its flow. He only
knew my entrance by the Ah, Mr. Ingham, of the frightened Irish girl,
who stood useless behind the head of the bed.
O Fred, said Morton, without looking up, I am glad you are here.
And what can I do for you?
Some whiskey,first of all.
There are two bottles, said Mary, who was holding the candle,in
the cupboard behind his dressing-glass.
I took Bridget with me, struck a light in the dressing-room (how she
blundered about the match), and found the cupboard door locked! Key
doubtless in Mary's pocket,probably in pocket of another dress. I
did not ask. Took my own bunch, willed tremendously that my
account-book drawer key should govern the lock, and it did. If it had
not, I should have put my fist through the panels. Bottle of bedbug
poison; bottle marked bay rum; another bottle with no mark; two
bottles of Saratoga water. Set them all on the floor, Bridget. A tall
bottle of Cologne. Bottle marked in MS. What in the world is it? Bring
that candle, Bridget. Eau destillée. Marron, Montreal. What in the
world did Lycidas bring distilled water from Montreal for? And then
Morton's clear voice in the other room, As quick as you can, Fred.
Yes! in one moment. Put all these on the floor, Bridget. Here they
are at last. Bourbon whiskey. Corkscrew, Bridget.
Indade, sir, and where is it? Where? I don't know. Run down as
quick as you can, and bring it. His wife cannot leave him. So Bridget
ran, and the first I heard was the rattle as she pitched down the last
six stairs of the first flight headlong. Let us hope she has not broken
her leg. I meanwhile am driving a silver pronged fork into the Bourbon
corks, and the blade of my own penknife on the other side.
Now, Fred, from George within. (We all call Morton George.)
Yes, in one moment, I replied. Penknife blade breaks off, fork pulls
right out, two crumbs of cork come with it. Will that girl never come?
I turned round; I found a goblet on the washstand; I took Lycidas's
heavy clothes-brush, and knocked off the neck of the bottle. Did you
ever do it, reader, with one of those pressed glass bottles they make
now? It smashed like a Prince Rupert's drop in my hand, crumbled into
seventy pieces,a nasty smell of whiskey on the floor,and I, holding
just the hard bottom of the thing with two large spikes running
worthless up into the air. But I seized the goblet, poured into it what
was left in the bottom, and carried it in to Morton as quietly as I
could. He bade me give Lycidas as much as he could swallow; then showed
me how to substitute my thumb for his, and compress the great artery.
When he was satisfied that he could trust me, he began his work again,
silently; just speaking what must be said to that brave Mary, who
seemed to have three hands because he needed them. When all was secure,
he glanced at the ghastly white face, with beads of perspiration on the
forehead and upper lip, laid his finger on the pulse, and said: We
will have a little more whiskey. No, Mary, you are overdone already;
let Fred bring it. The truth was that poor Mary was almost as white as
Lycidas. She would not faint,that was the only reason she did
not,and at the moment I wondered that she did not fall. I believe
George and I were both expecting it, now the excitement was over. He
called her Mary and me Fred, because we were all together every day of
our lives. Bridget, you see, was still nowhere.
So I retired for my whiskey again,to attack that other bottle.
George whispered quickly as I went, Bring enough,bring the bottle.
Did he want the bottle corked? Would that Kelt ever come up stairs? I
passed the bell-rope as I went into the dressing-room, and rang as hard
as I could ring. I took the other bottle, and bit steadily with my
teeth at the cork, only, of course, to wrench the end of it off. George
called me, and I stepped back. No, said he, bring your whiskey.
Mary had just rolled gently back on the floor. I went again in
despair. But I heard Bridget's step this time. First flight, first
passage; second flight, second passage. She ran in in triumph at
length, with a screw-driver!
No! I whispered,no. The crooked thing you draw corks with, and
I showed her the bottle again. Find one somewhere and don't come back
without it. So she vanished for the second time.
Frederic! said Morton. I think he never called me so before.
Should I risk the clothes-brush again? I opened Lycidas's own
drawers,papers, boxes, everything in order,not a sign of a tool.
Frederic! Yes, I said. But why did I say Yes? Father of
Mercy, tell me what to do.
And my mazed eyes, dim with tears,did you ever shed tears from
excitement?fell on an old razor-strop of those days of shaving, made
by C. WHITTAKER, SHEFFIELD. The Sheffield stood in black letters out
from the rest like a vision. They make corkscrews in Sheffield too. If
this Whittaker had only made a corkscrew! And what is a Sheffield
Hand in my pocket,brown paper parcel.
Where are you, Frederic? Yes, said I, for the last time. Twine
off! brown paper off. And I learned that the Sheffield wimble was one
of those things whose name you never heard before, which people sell
you in Thames Tunnel, where a hoof-cleaner, a gimlet, a screw-driver,
and a corkscrew fold into one handle.
Yes, said I, again. Pop, said the cork. Bubble, bubble,
bubble, said the whiskey. Bottle in one hand, full tumbler in the
other, I walked in. George poured half a tumblerful down Lycidas's
throat that time. Nor do I dare say how much he poured down afterwards.
I found that there was need of it, from what he said of the pulse, when
it was all over. I guess Mary had some, too.
This was the turning-point. He was exceedingly weak, and we sat by
him in turn through the night, giving, at short intervals, stimulants
and such food as he could swallow easily; for I remember Morton was
very particular not to raise his head more than we could help. But
there was no real danger after this.
As we turned away from the house on Christmas morning,I to preach
and he to visit his patients,he said to me, Did you make that
No, said I, but poor Dod Dalton had to furnish the corkscrew.
And I went down to the chapel to preach. The sermon had been lying
ready at home on my desk,and Polly had brought it round to me,for
there had been no time for me to go from Lycidas's home to D Street and
to return. There was the text, all as it was the day before:
They helped every one his neighbor, and every one said to his
brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the
goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that
And there were the pat illustrations, as I had finished them
yesterday; of the comfort Mary Magdalen gave Joanna, the court lady;
and the comfort the court lady gave Mary Magdalen, after the mediator
of a new covenant had mediated between them; how Simon the Cyrenian,
and Joseph of Arimathea, and the beggar Bartimeus comforted each other,
gave each other strength, common force, com-fort, when the One
Life flowed in all their veins; how on board the ship the Tent-Maker
proved to be Captain, and the Centurion learned his duty from his
Prisoner, and how they All came safe to shore, because the New
Life was there. But as I preached, I caught Frye's eye. Frye is always
critical; and I said to myself, Frye would not take his illustrations
from eighteen hundred years ago. And I saw dear old Dod Dalton trying
to keep awake, and Campbell hard asleep after trying, and Jane Masury
looking round to see if her mother did not come in; and Ezra Sheppard,
looking, not so much at me, as at the window beside me, as if his
thoughts were the other side of the world. And I said to them all, O,
if I could tell you, my friends, what every twelve hours of my life
tells me,of the way in which woman helps woman, and man helps man,
when only the ice is broken,how we are all rich so soon as we find
out that we are all brothers, and how we are all in want, unless we can
call at any moment for a brother's hand,then I could make you
understand something, in the lives you lead every day, of what the New
Covenant, the New Commonwealth, the New Kingdom is to be.
But I did not dare tell Dod Dalton what Campbell had been doing for
Todd, nor did I dare tell Campbell by what unconscious arts old Dod had
been helping Lycidas. Perhaps the sermon would have been better had I
But, when we had our tree in the evening at home, I did tell all
this story to Polly and the bairns, and I gave Alice her
measuring-tape,precious with a spot of Lycidas's blood,and Bertha
her Sheffield wimble. Papa, said old Clara, who is the next child,
all the people gave presents, did not they, as they did in the picture
in your study?
Yes, said I, though they did not all know they were giving them.
Why do they not give such presents every day? said Clara.
O child, I said, it is only for thirty-six hours of the three
hundred and sixty-five days, that all people remember that they are all
brothers and sisters, and those are the hours that we call, therefore,
Christmas eve and Christmas day.
And when they always remember it, said Bertha, it will be
Christmas all the time! What fun!
What fun, to be sure; but Clara, what is in the picture?
Why, an old woman has brought eggs to the baby in the manger, and
an old man has brought a sheep. I suppose they all brought what they
I suppose those who came from Sharon brought roses, said Bertha.
And Alice, who is eleven, and goes to the Lincoln School, and therefore
knows everything, said, Yes, and the Damascus people brought Damascus
This is certain, said Polly, that nobody tried to give a straw,
but the straw, if he really gave it, carried a blessing.
Cambridge: Stereotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, &Co.