Library Notes







The Riverside Press, Cambridge


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All rights reserved.




I. Insufficiency 1

II. Extremes 33

III. Disguises 63

IV. Standards 90

V. Rewards 121

VI. Limits 157

VII. Incongruity 187

VIII. Mutations 214

IX. Paradoxes 240

X. Contrasts 270

XI. Types 295

XII. Conduct 325

XIII. Religion 357

[Pg 1]




It was well said by some one that "in every object there is an inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing." "Each one sees what he carries in his heart," said Goethe. "You will find poetry nowhere," said Joubert, "unless you bring some with you." "Those who would see or feel the truth of the anatomy in the marble must bring their knowledge with them." "Don't you think that statue indecent?" said Boswell to Johnson. "No, sir," was the reply, "but your remark is." Once, we are told by Hazlitt, when a pedantic coxcomb was crying up Raphael to the skies, Northcote could not help saying, "If there was nothing in Raphael but what you can see in him, we should not now have been talking of him." Douglas Jerrold, it is said, disliked the theatre behind the scenes, and seldom went there save to witness a rehearsal. He would generally attend on the first night of the performance of his piece, but he seldom saw the same piece twice. His idea, as realized, generally disgusted him. He saw it with all the delicate touches rubbed away,—a shadow, or a vulgar caricature. His quarrels with actors were incessant, because they would take their idea and not his idea of a part. La Rochefoucauld, in his Maxims, gives us a picture, not of human nature, but[Pg 2] of its selfishness. "He works," said Sterling, "like a painter who paints the profile, and chooses the side of the face in which the eye is blind and deformed, instead of the other, which is unblemished. Yet the picture may be a most accurate copy." So do we all. Those of us that see at all see but a small part of anything at a time. Only a line upon the column is distinctly visible; all the rest is hidden, or obscured in the glaring light or eclipsing shadow. A man, especially, must be looked at all around, within, by a fair light, and with a good eye, to be seen truly or judged justly. We put a narrow and fine sight upon him naturally, and can hardly avoid estimating him meanly. We have too much the habit of Fuseli, who preferred beginning his sketch of the human figure at the lowest point, and working from the foot upward. "The wisest amongst us," said the artist and critic, Richardson, "is a fool in some things, as the lowest amongst men has some just notions, and therein is as wise as Socrates; so that every man resembles a statue made to stand against a wall or in a niche; on one side it is a Plato, an Apollo, a Demosthenes; on the other, it is a rough, unformed piece of stone." "Both," said Dr. Johnson of the remarks of Lord Orrery and Delany on Swift, "were right,—only Delany had seen most of the good side, Lord Orrery most of the bad." There is a curious life of Tiberius, with two title-pages, both taken from historical authorities; two characters—one detestable, the other admirable—of one and the same person; made up, both, of recorded facts. "We ought not," said La Bruyère, "to judge of men as of a picture or statue, at the first sight; there is a mind and heart to be searched; the veil of modesty covers merit, and the mask of hypocrisy disguises malignity. There are but few judges that have knowledge to discern aright to pass sentence; 'tis but by little and little, and perhaps even by time and occasion, that complete virtue or perfect vice come at[Pg 3] last to show themselves." "A man," said Emerson, "is like a bit of Labrador spar, which has no lustre as you turn it in your hand, until you come to a particular angle; then it shows deep and beautiful colors." What you think of him depends so much on how you look at him. As a creature of small ways and little achievements, he seems fit only for "stopping a bung-hole;" as an embodiment of every manly trait and of every Christian virtue, he appears indeed "a noble animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave." The petty tyrant of a family, he satirizes Cæsar; the canting bigot of the church, he brings reproach upon religion. Now a gentleman, he makes you think of Sidney; now a beast, of Swift's revolting Yahoo. When truly humble and consciously ignorant, he hath the aspect of a child of God; when conceited, dogmatic, aggressive, all the forgotten orthodox teachings of the fate of the hopeless come back to you with the force of apostolic thunder. As the splendid immortal he is destined to be, you hasten to apotheosize him; as the monster he sometimes appears, you wonder that he exists. Burns, who was a master in human nature, characterized woman as "great for good, or great for evil; when not an angel, she's a devil." "There is something still more to be dreaded than a Jesuit," said Eugene Sue, "and that is a Jesuitess." It seems to be nearly impossible to be moderate. If we are calm or deliberate enough to be just, we are almost sure to be indifferent. Our ignorance, our education, our interests, our prejudices, blind our eyes, darken our minds, or drive us to violence. There is nothing half and half about us. The little that we see, we see so differently and so partially, and ignorance finds its complement in feeling. Dryden said of some of the judges of his day, that, right or wrong, they always decided for the poor against the rich; and he quoted a saying of Charles II., that the crown was uniformly worsted in every case which was heard before Sir[Pg 4] Matthew Hale. "The eyes of critics," said Landor, "whether in commending or carping, are both on one side, like a turbot's." "Truth, as Humanity knows it," said Bulwer, "is not what the schoolmen call it, one and indivisible; it is like light, and splits not only into elementary colors, but into innumerable tints. Truth with Raphael is not the same as truth with Titian; truth with Shakespeare is not the same as truth with Milton; truth with St. Xavier is not the same as truth with Luther; truth with Pitt is not the same as truth with Fox. Each man takes from life his favorite truth, as each man takes from light his favorite color."

Perhaps that which astonishes us most, when we fairly open our eyes upon the world, is the diversity in everything. Out in the forest, under the spreading tree, looking up at the luxuriant foliage, you may not think of the difference between the leaves; but pull down a limb, and spend an hour comparing them; you find, much as they resemble, that no two are precisely alike. Examine the plumage of the owl that you cruelly brought down with your rifle; every feather of his beautiful dress differs from every other; and, what is more remarkable, every fibre of every feather is another feather, still more delicate, differing from every other, all of which together yield to the pressure of your hand like floss silk. No wonder he fell upon the mischievous mole or mouse as noiselessly as the shadow of a cloud. Go down to the sea-shore; the tide is out; there is an apparent waste of white sand, a dull extent of uniformity; but stretch yourself on the beach, which the innumerable differing waves have beaten to incomparable smoothness, and examine leisurely, with a good glass, a few hundred of the infinite grains which you thought to be the same, and you discover that they differ, that each is differently shaped, each holds the light differently, and, what is more wonderful than all, each appears to be a shell, or part of a shell, which was once the abode[Pg 5] of a creature, and a different creature from every other inhabiting or that ever inhabited any other shell of the ocean. Look into the crowded street; the men are all men; they all walk upright; they might wear each other's clothes without serious inconvenience; but could they exchange souls? "Clothe me as you will," said Sancho, "I shall still be Sancho Panza." "The soul is not twin-born, but the only begotten." "And there never was in the world," said Montaigne, "two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains. The most universal quality is diversity."

"The nerve-tissue," said an acute physiologist, "is never precisely the same in two men; the blood of no two men is precisely alike; the milk of no two women is identical in composition—they all vary (within certain limits), and sometimes the variation is considerable. It is in this that depends what we call the difference of 'temperament,' which makes one twin so unlike his brother, and makes the great variety of the human race." "Give Professor Owen part of an old bone or a tooth, and he will on the instant draw you the whole animal, and tell you its habits and propensities. What professor has ever yet been able to classify the wondrous variety of human character? How very limited as yet the nomenclature! We know there are in our moral dictionary the religious, the irreligious, the virtuous, the vicious, the prudent, the profligate, the liberal, the avaricious, and so on to a few names, but the comprehended varieties under these terms—their mixtures, which, like colors, have no names—their strange complexities and intertwining of virtues and vices, graces and deformities, diversified and mingled, and making individualities—yet of all the myriads of mankind that ever were, not one the same, and scarcely alike; how little way has science gone to their discovery, and to mark their delineation! A few sounds, designated by a few letters, speak all thought, all literature, that ever was[Pg 6] or will be. The variety is infinite, and ever creating a new infinite; and there is some such mystery in the endless variety of human character."

Cicero gives an account of a man who could distinguish marks of difference amongst eggs so well, that he never mistook one for another; and, having many hens, could tell which laid a particular egg.

Socrates asked Menon what virtue was? "There is," said Menon, "the virtue of a man and of a woman, of a magistrate and of a private person, of an old man and of a child." "Very well," said Socrates, "we were in quest of virtue, and thou hast brought us a whole swarm."

"What," asks the great French essayist, "have our legislators got by culling out a hundred thousand particular cases, and annexing to these a hundred thousand laws? The number holds no manner of proportion with the infinite diversity of human actions; the multiplication of our inventions will never arrive at the variety of examples; add to them a hundred times as many more; it will not, nevertheless, ever happen, that, of events to come, there shall any one fall out that, in this great number of thousands of events so chosen and recorded, shall find any one to which it can be so exactly coupled and compared, that there will not remain some circumstance and diversity which will require a variety of judgment."

"Some ask," says La Bruyère, "why mankind in general don't compose but one nation, and are not contented to speak one language, to live under the same laws, to agree amongst themselves in the same customs and worship: for my part, seeing the contrariety of their inclinations, tastes, and sentiments, I wonder to see seven or eight persons live under the same roof, within the same walls, and make a single family."

Molecular philosophy shows interspaces betwixt atom and atom, differing atoms, which can hardly be said to touch; so bodies are formed, and so society and public[Pg 7] opinion are compounded. "The single individual is to collective humanity," says Alger, "as the little column of mercury in the barometer is to the whole atmosphere. They balance each other, although infinitely incommensurate. A quicksilver sea, two and a half feet deep, covering the globe, would weigh five thousand million tons. That is the heft of the air,—that transparent robe of blue gauze which outsags the Andes and the Alps. Its pressure is unfelt, yet if that pressure were annulled all the water on the earth would immediately fly into vapor. Public opinion is the atmosphere of society, without which the forces of the individual would collapse and all the institutions of society fly into atoms." Common sense has been defined to be the "average intellect and conscience of the civilized world,—that portion of intelligence, morality, and Christianity, which has been practically embodied in life and active power. It destroys pretense and quackery, and tests genius and heroism. It changes with the progress of society; persecutes in one age what it adopts in the next; its martyrs of the sixteenth century are its precedents and exponents of the nineteenth; and a good part of the common sense of an elder day is the common nonsense of our own."

"The history of human opinions," said Voltaire, "is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors."

John Foster, in one of his thoughtful essays, has this suggestive passage: "If a reflective, aged man were to find at the bottom of an old chest—where it had lain forgotten fifty years—a record which he had written of himself when he was young, simply and vividly describing his whole heart and pursuits, and reciting verbatim many passages of the language which he sincerely uttered, would he not read it with more wonder than almost every other writing could at his age inspire? He would half lose the assurance of his identity, under the impression[Pg 8] of this immense dissimilarity. It would seem as if it must be the tale of the juvenile days of some ancestor, with whom he had no connection but that of name." Said Swift, "If a man would register all his opinions upon love, politics, religion, learning, etc., beginning from his youth, and so go on to old age, what a bundle of inconsistencies and contradictions would appear at last." Says Montaigne, "Never did two men make the same judgment of the same thing; and 'tis impossible to find two opinions exactly alike, not only in several men, but in the same men, at different times." Says Pope, "What is every year of a wise man's life but a censure or critique on the past? Those whose date is the shortest live long enough to laugh at one half of it; the boy despises the infant; the man, the boy; the philosopher, both; and the Christian, all." Diet, health, the weather, affairs,—a thousand things,—determine our views. "I knew a witty physician," says Emerson, "who found the creed in the biliary duct, and used to affirm that if there was disease in the liver, the man became a Calvinist, and if that organ was sound, he became a Unitarian." Voltaire declared that the fate of a nation had often depended on the good or bad digestion of a prime minister; and Motley holds that the gout of Charles V. changed the destinies of the world. Our views change so often that the writer who would be consistent would never write at all. The sentence that would express his thought at one time would fail at another. Alteration would only confuse. An attempt to find words to express his thoughts upon any one thing at all times would be given up in despair. Voltaire once praised another writer very heartily to a third person. "It is very strange," was the reply, "that you speak so well of him, for he says you are a charlatan." "Oh," replied Voltaire, "I think it very likely that both of us are mistaken." A day or two after the production of one of Sheridan's[Pg 9] comedies, a friend met the author, and told him he had seen Cumberland at the theatre on its representation. "Ah, well," replied Sheridan, "What did he say to it?" "He wasn't seen to smile from the beginning to the end of the comedy," said the friend. "Come, now, that's very ungrateful of him," retorted Sheridan, "for I went to see his tragedy the other evening, and laughed through the whole of it." Smith gives an account of a lady in weeds for her husband who came drooping like a willow to Nollekens, the sculptor, desiring a monument, and declaring that she did not care what money was expended on the memory of one she loved so. "Do what you please, but, oh, do it quickly!" were her parting orders. Nollekens went to work, made the design, finished the model, and began to look for a block of marble to carve it from, when in dropped the lady; she had been absent some three months. "Poor soul," said the sculptor, when she was announced, "I thought she would come soon, but I am ready." The lady came light of foot, and lighter of look. "Ah, how do you do, Mr. Nollekens? Well, you have not commenced the model?" "Ay, but I have, though," returned the sculptor, "and there it stands, finished!" "There it is, indeed," sighed the lady, throwing herself into a chair; they looked at each other for a minute's space or so—she spoke first; "These, my good friend, are, I know, early days for this little change,"—she looked at her dress, from which the early profusion of crape had disappeared,—"but since I saw you, I have met with an old Roman acquaintance of yours who has made me an offer, and I don't know how he would like to see in our church a monument of such expense to my late husband. Indeed, on second thought, it would be considered quite enough if I got our mason to put up a mural tablet, and that, you know, he can cut very prettily." "My charge, madam, for the model," said the sculptor, "is one hundred guineas."[Pg 10] "Enormous! enormous!" said the lady, but drew out her purse, and paid it. The mutability of human nature! Change, change is the rule. Flaxman, when he was in Rome, lived at a sort of chocolate house kept by three girls who were so elegant as to be called "the Graces." They lived to be so old that they were called "the Furies." A distinguished painter has said, that often while you are looking at a face, and though you perceive no difference in the features, yet you find they have undergone a total alteration of expression. "I have seen several pictures of Garrick," said Macaulay, "none resembling another, and I have heard Hannah More speak of the extraordinary variety of countenance by which he was distinguished." "I wish the world, James," said Christopher North to the Ettrick Shepherd, "would stand still for some dozen years—till I am at rest. It seems as if the very earth itself were undergoing a vital change. Nothing is unalterable, except the heaven above my head, and even it, James, is hardly, methinks, at times, the same as in former days or nights. There is not much difference in the clouds, James, but the blue sky, I must confess, is not quite so very blue as it was sixty years since; and the sun, although still a glorious luminary, has lost a leetle—of his lustre." Gilbert White, in his Natural History of Selborne, says he saw a cock-bullfinch in a cage, which had been caught in the fields after it was come to its full colors. In about a year it began to look dingy; and blackening each succeeding year, it became coal-black at the end of four. Its chief food was hemp seed. Such influence has food on the color of animals! Darwin, in his Voyage, says that the wild cattle in East Falkland Island, originally the same stock, differ much in color; and that in different parts of that one small island, different colors predominate. He remarked that the difference in the prevailing colors was so obvious, that in looking at the herds from a point near Point Pleasant, they[Pg 11] appeared from a long distance like black spots, whilst south of Choiseul Sound they appeared like white spots on the hill-sides. Round Mount Usborne, at a height of one thousand to fifteen hundred feet above the sea, about half of some of the herds are mouse or lead colored. "From the westward till you get to the river Adur," observed White, "all the flocks have horns and smooth white faces, and white legs, and a hornless sheep is rarely to be seen; but as soon as you pass that river eastward, and mount Beeding Hill, all the flocks at once become hornless, or, as they call them, poll-sheep; and have, moreover, black faces, with a white tuft of wool on their foreheads, and speckled and spotted legs, so that you would think that the flocks of Laban were pasturing on one side of the stream, and the variegated breed of his son-in-law, Jacob, were cantoned along on the other." Youatt speaks of two flocks of Leicester sheep which have been purely bred from the original stock of Mr. Bakewell for more than fifty years. There is not a suspicion existing in the mind of any one at all acquainted with the subject, that the owner of either of them has deviated in any one instance from the pure blood of Mr. Bakewell's flock, and yet the difference between the sheep possessed by these two gentlemen is so great that they have the appearance of being quite different varieties. "We may, in truth," said Voltaire, "be naturally and aptly resembled to a river, all whose waters pass away in perpetual change and flow. It is the same river as to its bed, its banks, its source, its mouth, everything, in short, that is not itself; but changing every moment its water, which constitutes its very being, it has no identity; there is no sameness belonging to the river." Said Sir Kenelm Digby, long before Voltaire, "There is not one drop of the same water in the Thames that ran down by Whitehall yesternight; yet no man will deny but that it is the same river that was in Queen Elizabeth's time,[Pg 12] as long as it is supplied from the same common stock, the sea."

Lowell, in one of his critical essays, says that "all men are interested in Montaigne in proportion as all men find more of themselves in him; and all men see but one image in the glass which the greatest of poets holds up to nature,—an image which at once startles and charms with its familiarity." Montaigne himself says, "Nature, that we may not be dejected with the sight of our deformities, has wisely thrust the action of seeing outward." "Know thyself," that Apollo caused to be written on the front of his temple at Delphi, appeared to him contradictory. We are vain of our knowledge, vain of our virtue, vain of everything that pertains to us. Reading La Rochefoucauld's Maxims at twenty, one is a little surprised that the first and longest should be upon self-love; at forty, one is not astonished at the rank and importance it has in the philosopher's system. "In vain," says Xavier de Maistre, "are looking-glasses multiplied around us which reflect light and truth with geometrical exactness. As soon as the rays reach our vision and paint us as we are, self-love slips its deceitful prism between us and our image, and presents a divinity to us. And of all the prisms that have existed since the first that came from the hands of the immortal Newton, none has possessed so powerful a refractive force, or produced such pleasing and lively colors, as the prism of self-love. Now, seeing that ordinary looking-glasses record the truth in vain, and that they cannot make men see their own imperfections, every one being satisfied with his face, what would a moral mirror avail? Few people would look at it, and no one would recognize himself." "Oh, the incomparable contrivance of Nature," exclaims Erasmus, "who has ordered all things in so even a method that wherever she has been less bountiful in her gifts, there she makes it up with a larger dose of self-love,[Pg 13] which supplies the former defects, and makes all even." "Could all mankind," says John Norris, "lay claim to that estimate which they pass upon themselves, there would be little or no difference betwixt laps'd and perfect humanity, and God might again review his image with paternal complacency, and still pronounce it good." "Blinded as they are as to their true character by self-love, every man," says Plutarch, "is his own first and chiefest flatterer, prepared therefore to welcome the flatterer from the outside, who only comes confirming the verdict of the flatterer within." It was the habit of Sir Godfrey Kneller to say to his sitter, "Praise me, sir, praise me: how can I throw any animation into your face if you don't choose to animate me?" "I have heard," says Bulwer, in one of his essays, "that when the late Mr. Kean was performing in some city of the United States, he came to the manager at the end of the third act and said, 'I can't go on the stage again, sir, if the pit keeps its hands in its pockets. Such an audience would extinguish Ætna.' The audience being notified by the manager of the determination of the actor, proved hearty enough in its applause. As the favor of the audience rose, so rose the genius of the actor, and the contagion of their own applause redoubled their enjoyment of the excellence it contributed to create." "Vanity," says Pascal, "has taken so firm a hold on the heart of man, that a porter, a hodman, a turnspit, can talk greatly of himself, and is for having his admirers. Philosophers who write of the contempt of glory do yet desire the glory of writing well; and those who read their compositions would not lose the glory of having read them. We are so presumptuous as that we desire to be known to all the world; and even to those who are not to come into the world till we have left it. And, at the same time, we are so little and vain as that the esteem of five or six persons about us is enough to content and amuse[Pg 14] us." "We censure others," says Sir Thomas Browne, "but as they disagree from that humor which we fancy laudable in ourselves, and commend others but for that wherein they seem to quadrate and consent with us. So that in conclusion, all is but that we all condemn, self-love." We think ourselves of great importance in the eyes of others, when we are only so in our own. Calmly considering it, what can be more astonishing than vanity in a middle-aged person? Know as much as it is possible for a human being to know in this world, he cannot know enough to justify him in being vain of his knowledge. Good as it is possible for a human being to be, he cannot be good enough to excuse a conceit of his goodness. Yet how common it is for full-grown ignorance to have conceit of wisdom, and for ordinary virtue to assume the airs of saintship. How we shall one day wonder, looking back at the world we have left, at the nearly invisible mites, like ourselves, tossing their heads in pride, and gathering their skirts in self-righteousness, that we were ever as vain and shameless as they, and that the little things of life ever so engrossed us. Alas, to learn and unlearn is our fate; to gather as we climb the hill of life, to scatter as we descend it: empty-handed alike at the end and at the beginning.

"Youth's heritage is hope, but man's
Is retrospect of shattered plans,
And doubtful glances cast before."

"All the world, all that we are, and all that we have, our bodies and our souls, our actions and our sufferings, our conditions at home, our accidents abroad, our many sins, and our seldom virtues," says Jeremy Taylor, "are as so many arguments to make our souls dwell low in the valleys of humility." We are not what we think ourselves, nor are other people what we think them, else this were a different world. We know not ourselves, nor others, nor anything, so well as to avoid misapprehending[Pg 15] everything. Our condition is ignorance and humility, and better it were if we kept modestly in our paths. Whatever we do or are, we are of chief importance to ourselves. Northcote said that he often blamed himself for uttering what might be thought harsh things; and that on mentioning this once to Kemble, and saying it sometimes kept him from sleep, after he had been out in company, Kemble replied, "Oh, you need not trouble yourself so much about them; others never think of them afterward." "I see you will not believe it," said Sydney Smith, "but I was once very shy." "Were you, indeed, Mr. Smith? how did you cure yourself?" "Why, it was not very long before I made two very useful discoveries: First, that all mankind were not solely employed in observing me (a belief that all young people have); and next, that shamming was of no use; that the world was very clear-sighted, and soon estimated a man at his just value. This cured me, and I determined to be natural, and let the world find me out." "The world," says Thackeray, "can pry out everything about us which it has a mind to know. But there is this consolation, which men will never accept in their own cases, that the world doesn't care. Consider the amount of scandal it has been forced to hear in its time, and how weary it must be of that kind of intelligence. You are taken to prison and fancy yourself indelibly disgraced? You are bankrupt under odd circumstances? You drive a queer bargain with your friend and are found out, and imagine the world will punish you? Pshaw! Your shame is only vanity. Go and talk to the world as if nothing had happened, and nothing has happened. Tumble down; brush the mud off your clothes; appear with a smiling countenance, and nobody cares. Do you suppose society is going to take out its pocket-handkerchief and be inconsolable when you die? Why should it care, very much, then, whether your worship graces yourself or disgraces yourself?[Pg 16] Whatever happens, it talks, meets, jokes, yawns, has its dinner, pretty much as before." Depend upon it, the world will not hunt you, nor concern itself much about you. If you want its favors you must keep yourself in its eye. Cicero left Sicily extremely pleased with the success of his administration, and flattered himself that all Rome was celebrating his praises, and that the people would readily grant him everything that he desired; in which imagination he landed at Puteoli, a considerable port adjoining to Baiæ, the chief seat of pleasure in Italy, where there was a perpetual resort of all the rich and the great, as well for the delights of its situation as for the use of its baths and hot waters. But here, as he himself pleasantly tells the story, he was not a little mortified by the first friend whom he met, who asked him how long he had left Rome, and what news there, when he answered that he came from the provinces. "From Africk, I suppose," says another; and upon his replying, with some indignation, "No; I come from Sicily," a third, who stood by, and had a mind to be thought wiser, said presently, "How? did you not know that Cicero was quæstor of Syracuse?" Upon which, perceiving it in vain to be angry, he fell into the humor of the place, and made himself one of the company who came to the waters. This mortification gave some little check to his ambition, or taught him rather how to apply it more successfully; and did him more good, he says, than if he had received all the compliments that he expected; for it made him reflect that the people of Rome had dull ears, but quick eyes; and that it was his business to keep himself always in their sight; nor to be so solicitous how to make them hear of him, as to make them see him: so that, from this moment, he resolved to stick close to the forum, and to live perpetually in the view of the city; nor to suffer either his porter or his sleep to hinder any man's access to him.

[Pg 17]

As capital in trade must be constantly turning to accumulate, so intelligence must be constantly in use to be useful. Its value and utility and accuracy can only be known by constantly testing it. A false light leads straight into the bog, and misinformation is worse than no information at all. Curiosity has need to be on tip-toe,—but cautious, nevertheless. Southey tells a story in his Doctor which the Jesuit Manuel de Vergara used to tell of himself. When he was a little boy he asked a Dominican friar what was the meaning of the seventh commandment, for he said he could not tell what committing adultery was. The friar, not knowing how to answer, cast a perplexed look around the room, and thinking he had found a safe reply, pointed to a kettle on the fire, and said the commandment meant that he must never put his hand in the pot while it was boiling. The very next day, a loud scream alarmed the family, and behold there was little Manuel running about the room, holding up his scalded finger, and exclaiming, "Oh dear! oh dear! I've committed adultery! I've committed adultery! I've committed adultery!"

Men are most apt to believe what they least understand. What they are most ready to talk upon, if they knew just a little more about, they would be dumb; or would at least betray in some degree what John Buncle calls "the decencies of ignorance." We are told that shortly after the shock of the famous earthquake at Talcahuano, a great wave was seen from the distance of three or four miles, approaching in the middle of the bay with a smooth outline; but along the shore it tore up cottages and trees, as it swept onward with irresistible force. At the head of the bay it broke in a fearful line of white breakers, which rushed up to a height of twenty-three vertical feet above the highest spring-tides. The lower orders in Talcahuano thought that the earthquake was caused by some old Indian women, witches, who, two[Pg 18] years before, being offended, stopped the volcano of Antuco!

Bishop Latimer says that "Master More was once sent in commission into Kent, to help to try out, if it might be, what was the cause of Goodwin Sands, and the shelf that stopped up Sandwich Haven. Among others, came in before him an old man with a white head, and one that was thought to be little less than one hundred years old. Quoth Master More, How say you in this matter? What think you to be the cause of these shelves and flats that stop up Sandwich Haven? Forsooth, quoth he, I am an old man. I think that Tenterden-steeple is the cause of Goodwin Sands; for I am an old man, sir, quoth he, and I may remember the building of Tenterden-steeple, and I may remember when there was no steeple at all there. And before that Tenterden-steeple was in building, there was no manner of speaking of any flats or sands that stopped the haven, and therefore I think that Tenterden-steeple is the cause of the destroying and decay of Sandwich Haven!" (The centenarian's reply crystallized at once into a proverb and synonym for popular ignorance; but what if the old man had in his mind the half of the story omitted by Latimer—that the obnoxious steeple had been built by a bishop with fifty thousand pounds appropriated to build a breakwater!)

The fox that Darwin tells us about in his Voyage was literally lost in the presence of wonders. "In the evening," says the naturalist, "we reached the island of San Pedro. In doubling the point, two of the officers landed, to take a round of angles with the theodolite. A fox of a kind said to be peculiar on the island, and very rare in it, was sitting on the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching the work of the officers, that I was able, by quietly walking up behind, to knock him on the head with my geological hammer!"

"We on this globe," said Voltaire, speaking of the[Pg 19] slender acquaintance of Europe with the Chinese Empire, "we on this globe are like insects in a garden—those who live on an oak seldom meet those who pass their short lives on an ash." "We are poor, silly animals," says Horace Walpole; "we live for an instant upon a particle of a boundless universe, and are much like a butterfly that should argue about the nature of the seasons, and what creates their vicissitudes, and does not exist itself to see an annual revolution of them." When Dr. Livingstone returned from Africa, after a stay of sixteen years as a missionary, he was induced to bring with him an intelligent and affectionate native, Sekwebu, who had been of great service to him. When they parted from their friends at Kilemane, the sea on the bar was frightful, even to the seamen. This was the first time Sekwebu had seen the sea. As the terrible breakers broke over them, he asked, wonderingly, "Is this the way you go? Is this the way you go?" exclaiming, "What a strange country is this—all water together!"

At sea, a person's eye being six feet above the surface of the water, his horizon is only two miles and four fifths distant; yet his tongue will as freely wag of the world as if it were all spinning under his eye. We freely discuss the ignorance of those we believe to be less intelligent than ourselves, never thinking that we are the cause of like amusement to those who are more intelligent than we are. Fewer laugh with us than at us. The grades are so many that contrast is more natural than comparison. Unfortunately, too, it is only in the descent that we can see, and that but a little way. We know it is up, up, that we would go, but the rounds of the ladder are but vaguely visible. But a small part, indeed, we perceive of the prodigious sweep from the lowest ignorance to possible intelligence. Happily, credulity fills the empty spaces, and, setting itself up for original wisdom, satisfies us with ourselves and ours. Thackeray, in one[Pg 20] of his best novels, thus satirically screams out one of its uses: "Oh, Mr. Pendennis! if Nature had not made that provision for each sex in the credulity of the other, which sees good qualities where none exist, good looks in donkeys' ears, wit in their numskulls, and music in their bray, there would not have been near so much marrying and giving in marriage as now obtains, and as is necessary for the due propagation and continuance of the noble race to which we belong!" "I desire to die," said Horace Walpole, "when I have nobody left to laugh with me. I have never yet seen, or heard, anything serious that was not ridiculous.... Oh! we are ridiculous animals; and if angels have any fun in them, how we must divert them."

"I had taken, when a child," says Crabb Robinson, "a great fancy to the Book of Revelation; and I have heard that I asked our minister to preach from that book, because it was my favorite. 'And why is it your favorite, Henry?' 'Because it is so pretty and easy to understand!'"

Robert Robinson, a witty and distinguished clergyman in the last century, was addressed by a grave brother, "Friend, I never heard you preach on the Trinity." "Oh, I intend to do so," was the reply, "as soon as ever I understand it!"

This recalls the rebuke of a clergyman to a young man, who said he would believe nothing which he could not understand. "Then, young man, your creed will be the shortest of any man's I know."

John Foster's observations upon an atheist you remember,—"one of the most daring beings in the creation, a contemner of God, who explodes his laws by denying his existence. If you were so unacquainted with mankind that this character might be announced to you as a rare or singular phenomenon, your conjectures, till you saw and heard the man, at the nature and the extent of the discipline[Pg 21] through which he must have advanced, would be led toward something extraordinary. And you might think that the term of that discipline must have been very long; since a quick train of impressions, a short series of mental gradations, within the little space of a few months and years, would not seem enough to have matured such an awful heroism. Surely the creature that thus lifts his voice, and defies all invisible power within the possibilities of infinity, challenging whatever unknown being may hear him, was not as yesterday a little child, that would tremble and cry at the approach of a diminutive reptile. But indeed it is heroism no longer, if he knows there is no God. The wonder then turns on the great process by which a man could grow to the immense intelligence that can know that there is no God. What ages and what lights are requisite for this attainment! This intelligence involves the very attributes of the Divinity, while a God is denied. For unless this man is omnipresent, unless he is at this moment in every place in the universe, he cannot know but there may be in some place manifestations of a Deity by which even he would be overpowered. If he does not know absolutely every agent in the universe, the one that he does not know may be God. If he is not in absolute possession of all the propositions that constitute universal truth, the one which he wants may be, that there is a God. If he does not know everything that has been done in the immeasurable ages that are past, some things may have been done by a God. Thus, unless he knows all things, that is, precludes another Deity by being one himself, he cannot know that the Being whose existence he rejects does not exist. And yet a man of ordinary age and intelligence may present himself to you with the avowal of being thus distinguished from the crowd!"

"I had one just flogging," says Coleridge. "When I was about thirteen I went to a shoemaker and begged[Pg 22] him to take me as his apprentice. He, being an honest man, immediately brought me to Bowyer, [the head-master at the charity-school] who got into a great rage, knocked me down, and even pushed Crispin rudely out of the room. Bowyer asked me why I had made myself such a fool? to which I answered that I had a great desire to be a shoemaker, and that I hated the thought of being a clergyman. 'Why so?' said he. 'Because, to tell you the truth, sir,' said I, 'I am an infidel!' For this, without more ado, Bowyer flogged me,—wisely, as I think,—soundly, as I know. Any whining or sermonizing would have gratified my vanity, and confirmed me in my absurdity; as it was, I was laughed at and got heartily ashamed of my folly." At a supper-table, when Cottle was present, Coleridge spoke of the unutterable horror he felt, when a son of Holcroft, (the atheist,) a boy eight years of age, came up to him and said, "There is no God."

"It is one thing to see that a line is crooked, and another thing to be able to draw a straight one," said Conversation Sharp. "It is not quite so easy to do good as those may imagine who never try." Says Montaigne, "Could my soul once take footing, I would not essay, but resolve; but it is always leaving and making trial." "'Tis an exact and exquisite life that contains itself in due order in private. Every one may take a part in the farce, and assume the part of an honest man upon the stage; but within, and in his own bosom, where all things are lawful to us, all things concealed,—to be regular, that is the point. The next degree is to be so in one's house, in one's ordinary actions, for which one is accountable to none, and where there is no study or artifice." "We chiefly, who live private lives, not exposed to any other view than our own, ought to have settled a pattern within ourselves, by which to try our actions." "Conscience," cries Sterne, "is not a law; no, God and[Pg 23] reason made the law, and have placed conscience within you to determine."

How often our virtues and benefactions are but the effects of our vices and our crimes; and as often do our vices disguise themselves under the name of virtues. "We ought not," says Montaigne, "to honor with the name of duty that peevishness and inward discontent which spring from private interest and passion; nor call treacherous and malicious conduct courage. People give the name of zeal to their propensity to mischief and violence, though it is not the cause, but their interest, that inflames them. Miserable kind of remedy, to owe a man's health to his disease. The virtue of the soul does not consist in flying high, but walking orderly; its grandeur does not exercise itself in grandeur, but in mediocrity." The greatest man is great in matters of self-conduct; the wisest is wise in little matters of life; the one is never little, the other never foolish.

"The superior man," says Confucius, "does not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he hears things, to be apprehensive. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore, the superior man will watch over himself when he is alone. He examines his heart that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for dissatisfaction with himself. That wherein he excels is simply his work which other men cannot see. Are you free from shame in your apartment, when you are exposed only to the light of heaven?"

"Most men," says Alger, "live blindly to repeat a routine of drudgery and indulgence, without any deliberately chosen and maintained aims. Many live to outstrip their rivals, pursue their enemies, gratify their lusts, and make a display. Few live distinctly to develop the value of their being, know the truth, love their fellows, enjoy the beauty of the world, and aspire to God."

[Pg 24]

"Life is a series of surprises," says Emerson, "and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not. God delights to isolate us every day, and hide from us the past and the future. We would look about us, but with grand politeness He draws down before us an impenetrable screen of purest sky. 'You will not remember,' He seems to say, 'and you will not expect.'"

Goldsmith, in one of his delightful Chinese Letters, gives this illustration of the vanity and uncertainty of human judgment: "A painter of eminence was once resolved to finish a piece which should please the whole world. When, therefore, he had drawn a picture, in which his utmost skill was exhausted, it was exposed in the public market-place, with directions at the bottom for every spectator to mark with a brush, which lay by, every limb and feature which seemed erroneous. The spectators came, and in general applauded; but each, willing to show his talent at criticism, marked whatever he thought proper. At evening, when the painter came, he was mortified to find the whole picture one universal blot; not a single stroke that was not stigmatized with marks of disapprobation. Not satisfied with this trial, the next day he was resolved to try them in a different manner, and, exposing his picture as before, desired that every spectator would mark those beauties he approved or admired. The people complied; and the artist, returning, found his picture replete with the marks of beauty; every stroke that had been yesterday condemned now received the character of approbation."

"Experience tells us," says La Bruyère, "if there are ten persons who would blot a thought or an expression out of a book, there are a like number who would oppose it." "The most accomplished piece," he thought, "which the age has produced would fail under the hands of the critics and censurers, if the author would hearken to all their objections, and allow every one to throw out the passage[Pg 25] that pleased him the least." "To hear praise and dispraise on a sermon, a piece of music, or a picture, and upon the very same subject to be entertained with quite opposite sentiments, is what makes one freely conclude we may safely publish anything, good or bad; for the good pleases some, the bad others, and the worst has its admirers."

At a club meeting in London, a nephew of Macaulay refused to rise when the national anthem was sung; but when he said that he did so from principle, he was respected in it. Others when questioned as to why they rose said, one because it was a hymn; another because of loyalty to England; another because he loved the queen; another because it was the custom; and they finally justified the refusal to rise because no two of them could agree as to why they rose.

Irving, in his Knickerbocker's New York, thus refers to the habit of criticising and complaining in the time of William the Testy: "Cobblers abandoned their stalls to give lessons on political economy; blacksmiths suffered their fires to go out while they stirred up the fires of faction; and even tailors, though said to be the ninth parts of humanity, neglected their own measures to criticise the measures of government. Strange! that the science of government, which seems to be so generally understood, should invariably be denied to the only ones called upon to exercise it. Not one of the politicians in question but, take his word for it, could have administered affairs ten times better than William the Testy."

Socrates used to say that although no man undertakes a trade he has not learned, even the meanest, yet every one thinks himself sufficiently qualified for the hardest of all trades, that of government.

"Whoever would aim directly at a cure of a public evil," says Montaigne, "and would consider of it before he began, would be very willing to withdraw his hands[Pg 26] from meddling in it. Pacuvius Calavius, according to Livy, corrected the vice of this proceeding by a notable example. His fellow-citizens were in mutiny against their magistrates; he, being a man of great authority in the city of Capua, found means one day to shut up the senators in the palace, and calling the people together in the market-place, he told them that the day was now come wherein, at full liberty, they might revenge themselves on the tyrants by whom they had been so long oppressed, and whom he had now, all alone and unarmed, at his mercy; and advised that they should call them out one by one by lot, and should particularly determine of every one, causing whatever should be decreed to be immediately executed; with this caution, that they should at the same time depute some honest man in the place of him that was condemned, to the end that there might be no vacancy in the senate. They had no sooner heard the name of one senator, but a great cry of universal dislike was raised up against him. 'I see,' said Pacuvius, 'we must get rid of him; he is a wicked fellow; let us look out a good one in his room.' Immediately there was a profound silence, every one being at a stand who to choose. But one, more impudent than the rest, having named his man, there arose yet a greater consent of voices against him, a hundred imperfections being laid to his charge, and as many just reasons being presently given why he should not stand. These contradictory humors growing hot, it fared worse with the second senator and the third, there being as much disagreement in the election of the new, as consent in the putting out of the old. In the end, growing weary of this bustle to no purpose, they began, some one way and some another, to steal out of the assembly; every one carrying back this resolution in his mind, that the oldest and best known evil was ever more supportable than one that was new and untried."

[Pg 27]

"Among all animals man is the only one who tries to pass for more than he is, and so involves himself in the condemnation of seeming less." "The negro king desired to be portrayed as white. But do not laugh at the poor African," pleads Heine, "for every man is but another negro king, and would like to appear in a color different from that with which Fate has bedaubed him."

It is even harder, when he is most barbarous and besotted in his ignorance, to disturb his complacency and self-conceit. "It was most ludicrous," says Darwin, "to watch through a glass the Indians, as often as the shot struck the water, take up stones, and, as a bold defiance, throw them toward the ship, though about a mile and a half distant! A boat was then sent with orders to fire a few musket-shots wide of them. The Fuegians hid themselves behind the trees, and for every discharge of the muskets they fired their arrows; all, however, fell short of the boat, and the officer as he pointed at them laughed. This made the Fuegians frantic with passion, and they shook their mantles in vain rage. At last, seeing the balls cut and strike the trees, they ran away, and we were left in peace and quietness."

Mungo Park, while traveling in Africa, once entered a region until that time unexplored by civilized man. His escort of Guinea negroes carried him to witness a gala-day jollification. The sable chief was sitting on a stump in the centre of a cleared half-acre, his face tattooed, trinkets dangling from his nose, ears, chin, etc., and his subjects were dancing around him. Having sold negroes, captured in war, to the slave-traders on the coast, the chief had learned to speak a little outlandish English. When the visitor approached His Majesty,—the dance suspended,—he exclaimed: "English?" "Yes," said Park, "I am an Englishman." "Way over yonder?" said the chief, pointing westward. "Yes," answered Park; "three thousand miles off." "What folks say 'bout me dar?" was the eager inquiry of his African Majesty.

[Pg 28]

The half-naked barbarians of Abyssinia claim descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and boast that all other kings are but upstarts and pretenders compared to theirs. Reminding the reader of the "most mighty emperor of Lilliput" (six inches in height), described in the famous state paper as the "delight and terror of the universe, whose dominions extend (about twelve miles in circumference) to the extremities of the globe; monarch of all monarchs, taller than the sons of men; whose feet press down to the centre, and whose head strikes against the sun; at whose nod the princes of the earth shake their knees; pleasant as the spring, comfortable as the summer, fruitful as autumn, dreadful as winter."

You remember the famous contest of an eminent wit, in Billingsgate. He was passing through the market, as the story goes, when he was rudely jostled and profanely addressed by a monstrous fish-woman. "See how I will bring her down without degrading myself," whispered he to his companion. Looking straight at the creature, he said to her, deliberately and emphatically, "You are a triangle!" which made her swear louder than ever. He then called her "a rectangle! a parallelogram!" That made her eloquent; but the great man with a big voice again broke through her volubility, screaming fiercely, "You are a miserable, wicked hypothenuse!" That dumfounded the brute. She had never heard swearing like that.

Curran used to tell of a like ludicrous encounter between himself and a fish-woman on the quay at Cork. This lady, whose tongue would have put Billingsgate to the blush, was urged one day to assail him, which she did with very little reluctance. "I thought myself a match for her," said he, "and valorously took up the gauntlet. But such a virago never skinned an eel. My whole vocabulary made not the least impression. On the contrary, she was manifestly becoming more vigorous[Pg 29] every moment, and I had nothing for it but to beat a retreat. This, however, was to be done with dignity; so, drawing myself up disdainfully, I said, 'Madam, I scorn all further discourse with such an individual!' She did not understand the word, and thought it, no doubt, the very hyperbole of opprobrium. 'Individual, you wagabone!' she screamed, 'what do you mean by that? I'm no more an individual than your mother was?' Never was victory more complete. The whole sisterhood did homage to me, and I left the quay of Cork covered with glory."

The discomfiture of Miss Pinkerton, who attempted once to scold Becky Sharp in public, is familiar to every reader of Thackeray. Rebecca hit upon the plan of answering her in French, which quite routed the old woman.

A wise man, who lived a long life of virtue, study, travel, society, and reflection; who read the best books and conversed with the greatest and best men; the companion of philosophers and scientists; familiar with all important discoveries and experiments; after he was three-score and ten, wrote, "It is remarkable that the more there is known, the more it is perceived there is to be known. And the infinity of knowledge to be acquired runs parallel with the infinite faculty of knowing, and its development. Sometimes I feel reconciled to my extreme ignorance, by thinking, If I know nothing, the most learned know next to nothing." "Had I earlier known," said Goethe, "how many excellent things have been in existence, for hundreds and thousands of years, I should have written no line; I should have had enough else to do." Cardinal Farnese one day found Michel Angelo, when an old man, walking alone in the Coliseum, and expressed his surprise at finding him solitary amidst the ruins; to which he replied, "I go yet to school, that I may continue to learn." In his last days, he made a design of himself as a child in a go-cart, with this motto[Pg 30] under it, "I am yet learning." Rubens complained, that just as he was beginning to understand his profession he was forced to quit it. Mozart declared on his death-bed, that he began to see what may be done in music. Buffon told a friend that, after passing fifty years at his desk, he was every day learning to write. Macaulay, the year before his death, after spending some hours over his own writings, wrote in his diary: "Alas! how short life and how long art! I feel as if I had just begun to understand how to write; and the probability is that I have very nearly done writing." Theophrastus, one hundred and seven years old, St. Jerome assures us, lamented that he was obliged to quit life at a time when he just began to be wise. Mrs. Jameson once asked Mrs. Siddons which of her great characters she preferred to play? She replied, after a moment's consideration, "Lady Macbeth is the character I have most studied." She afterward said that she had played the character during thirty years, and scarcely acted it once without carefully reading over the part, and generally the whole play, in the morning; and that she never read over the play without finding something new in it; "something," she said, "which had not struck me so much as it ought to have struck me." Dugald Stewart said of Bacon's Essays that in reading them for the twentieth time he observed something which had escaped his attention in the nineteenth. "I do not know," said Newton, "what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." Said Bossuet, "The term of my existence will be eighty years at most, but let us allow it an hundred. What ages have rolled before I had my being! How many will flow after I am gone! And what a small space do I occupy in this grand succession of[Pg 31] years! I am as a blank; this diminutive interval is not sufficient to distinguish me from that nothing to which I must inevitably return. I seem only to have made my appearance for the purpose of increasing the number; and I am even useless—for the play would have been just as well performed, had I remained behind the scenes." Wrote Voltaire, "I am ignorant how I was formed, and how I was born. I was perfectly ignorant, for a quarter of my life, of the reasons of all that I saw, heard, and felt, and was a mere parrot, talking by rote in imitation of other parrots. When I looked about me and within me, I conceived that something existed from all eternity. Since there are beings actually existing, I concluded that there is some being necessary and necessarily eternal. Thus the first step which I took to extricate myself from my ignorance overpassed the limits of all ages—the boundaries of time. But when I was desirous of proceeding in this infinite career, I could neither perceive a single path, nor clearly distinguish a single object; and from the flight which I took to contemplate eternity, I have fallen back into the abyss of my original ignorance." "Heads of capacity, and such as are not full with a handful, or easy measure of knowledge, think they know nothing till they know all; which being impossible, they fall," said Sir Thomas Browne, "upon the opinion of Socrates, and only know they know not anything." Hiero, tyrant of Sicily, asked old Simonides to tell him what God is. The poet answered him that it was not a question that could be immediately answered, and that he wanted a whole day to think upon it. When that term was over, Hiero asked the answer; but Simonides desired two days more to consider of it. This was not the last delay he asked; he was often called on to give an answer, and every time he desired double the time he had last demanded. The tyrant, wondering at it, desired to know the reason of it. I do so, answered Simonides,[Pg 32] because the more I examine the matter, the more obscure it appears to me. "After reading all that has been written," says the poet Poe, "and all that can be thought, on the topics of God and the soul, the man who has a right to say that he thinks at all, will find himself face to face with the conclusion that, on these topics, the most profound thought is that which can be the least easily distinguished from the most superficial sentiment." "I am a fragment, and this is a fragment of me," says Emerson.... "I am very content with knowing, if only I could know.... To know a little, would be worth the expense of this world." "You read of but one wise man," says Congreve, "and all that he knew was—that he knew nothing." "The curiosity of knowing things has been given to man for a scourge." "If God," said Lessing, "held all truth shut in his right hand, and in his left nothing but the restless instinct for truth, though with the condition of forever and ever erring, and should say to me, Choose! I would bow reverently to his left hand, and say, Father, give! Pure truth is for Thee alone!"

[Pg 33]



In man, it has been said, there will be a layer of fierce hyena, or of timid deer, running through the nature in the most uncertain and tortuous manner. Nero is sensitive to poetry and music, but not to human suffering: Marcus Aurelius is tolerant and good to all men but Christians. The Tlascalans of Mexico loved, and even worshiped, flowers; but they were cruel to excess, and sacrificed human victims with savage delight. The body of the sacrificed captive, we are told by Prescott, was delivered to the warrior who had taken him in battle, and by him, after being dressed, was served up in an entertainment to his friends. This was not the coarse repast of famished cannibals, but a banquet teeming with delicious beverages and delicate viands, prepared with art, and attended by both sexes, who conducted themselves with all the decorum of civilized life. The Aztec priests were more wild and ferocious than the soldiery, their hair was long and matted, and their garments were stained with human blood. The good and the evil lie close together; the virtues and the vices alternate; so is human power accumulated; alternately the metals and the rags; a terrible Voltaic pile. In the well-bred animal the claw is nicely cushioned; the old Adam is presentable. Overhear a beautiful young woman swear, and meet her an hour afterward, all smiles and loveliness, in the drawing-room. Speak with unreserved kindness of one lady to another,—both of them very lovely creatures, so far as you know,—and receive in reply, "Don't! She, of all persons I know, is the only[Pg 34] one I hate to hear praised." Lady Mary Wortley Montagu said of the Duchess of Marlborough, "We continue to see one another like two persons who are resolved to hate with civility." "It goes far to reconcile me to being a woman," she said on another occasion, "when I reflect that I am thus in no danger of ever marrying one." Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Montespan met in public, talked with vivacity, and, to those who judged only by appearances, seemed excellent friends. Once when they had to make a journey in the same carriage, Madame de Montespan said, "Let us talk as if there were no difference between us, but on condition that we resume our disputes when we return." Pietro Della Valle says that when the Ecce Homo was exposed during the sermon in the Jesuit church at Goa, the women used to beat their servants, if they did not cry enough to please them. Saint-Simon relates of the Marechale de la Ferte and her sister, both beautiful women, but very dissolute, that upon one occasion they heard a sermon on penitence which terrified them. "My sister," one said on their return, "it was all true; we must do penance or we are lost. But, my sister, what shall we do?" After having well turned it over, "My sister," replied the other, "This is what we must do—we must make our servants fast." When Moore's Life of Byron first appeared, it was in two large, quarto volumes, and the first came out alone. Murray told Leslie that a lady said to him, "I hear it is dull;" and he told her the scandal was all to be in the second volume. "And is the second volume to be had separately?" asked the lady. I was once, says a writer, passing through Moorfields, with a young girl, aged about nine or ten years, born and educated in Portugal, but in the Protestant faith; and, observing a large concourse of people assembled around a pile of fagots on fire, I expressed a curiosity to know the cause. She very composedly answered, "I suppose that it is nothing more than[Pg 35] that they are going to burn a Jew." Isabella the Catholic was wont to rejoice and give thanks at the sight of a gallows with a man hanging therefrom. Charlotte Cushman related an incident that occurred at a theatre. A man in the gallery made such a disturbance that the play could not proceed. Cries of "Throw him over," arose from all parts of the house, and the noise became furious. All was tumultuous chaos until a sweet and gentle female voice was heard in the pit, exclaiming, "No! I pray you don't throw him over! I beg of you, dear friends, don't throw him over, but—kill him where he is." It is recorded that after the massacre of St. Bartholomew the ladies of the court of Paris went out to examine the long row of the bodies of the Huguenot cavaliers who had been slain during the tumult, and curiously turning them over, when half-stripped of their garments, said to each other, "This must have been a charming lover; that was not worth looking at;" and when a fanatic assassin was brought out in the square of the Louvre to undergo during four hours the most frightful tortures which human ingenuity or malignity could devise, or the human frame endure, all the ladies of the court assembled to witness the spectacle, and paid high prices for seats nearest the scene of agony. In the Conciergerie, during the Reign of Terror, a corridor was common in the day-time to both sexes, and here, it is stated, there was as much dressing, talking, flirting, and love-making as in the salons of Paris. Most of the women contrived to change their dress three times a day, though in the interval they had often to wash or mend the garment they were about to put on. The tone of conversation was gay and animated, and the people seemed bent on proving that though the Reign of Terror might imprison and kill them, it could not make them dull or disagreeable.

It is related that Della Valle, the distinguished Italian traveler, had such an absorbing fondness for his wife that,[Pg 36] when she died, on the shore of the Persian Gulf, he embalmed her body, and spent one whole year conveying it back through India to Rome, where he celebrated her obsequies by pronouncing a funeral oration, during the delivery of which his emotions became so violent as to choke his utterance. Not long after, in a fit of anger, he killed his coachman, in the area before St. Peter's, while the pope was pronouncing a benediction. "I remember," says Patmore, in his personal recollections of Hazlitt, "having occasionally played at whist with a person who, on any occurrence of extraordinary ill-luck, used to lay his cards down deliberately, and bite a piece out of the back of his hand! This person was, under ordinary circumstances, the very ideal of a 'gentleman'—bland, polished, courteous, forbearing, kind, and self-possessed to an extraordinary degree; and his personal appearance in every respect corresponded with his manners and bearing. Hazlitt's passions sometimes produced similar results. I have seen him more than once, at the Fives Court in St. Martin Street, on making a bad stroke or missing his ball at some critical point of the game, fling his racket to the other end of the court, walk deliberately to the centre, with uplifted hands imprecate the most fearful curses on his head, for his stupidity, and then rush to the side wall and literally dash his head against it!" Shortly before the Chinese Emperor's death, a gigantic image, the goddess of small-pox, was paraded round the city of Pekin in solemn procession, and then taken into the bedroom of the dying youth, where it was worshiped and honored with many propitiatory offerings. As, however, the goddess continued obdurate, she was subjected to a severe flogging, and finally burned.

In the early history of New England the law compelled the people to attend church, the services commencing at nine o'clock and continuing six to eight hours. Near the church edifice stood the stocks and the whipping-post,[Pg 37] and a large wooden cage, in which to confine offenders against the laws. The congregation had places assigned them upon the rude benches, at the annual town-meeting, according to their age and social position. A person was fined who occupied a seat assigned to another. The boys were ordered to sit upon the gallery-stairs, and three constables were employed to keep them in order. Prominent before the assembly, some wretched male or female offender sat with a scarlet letter on the breast, to denote some crime against the stern code. Fleeing the mother-country for peace and freedom, the descendants of the Puritans persecuted the Quakers, and burnt the incorrigible eccentrics of society for witches.

John Howe's method of conducting public fasts was as follows: "He began at nine o'clock with a prayer of a quarter of an hour, read and expounded Scripture for about three quarters of an hour, prayed an hour, preached another hour, then prayed half an hour; the people then sang for about a quarter of an hour, during which he retired and took a little refreshment; he then went into the pulpit again, prayed an hour more, preached another hour, and then, with a prayer of half an hour, concluded the services."

The clergy, too, were sometimes victims. An instance: "The rector of Fittleworth, in Sussex, was dispossessed of his living for Sabbath-breaking; the fact proved against him being, that as he was stepping over a stile one Sunday, the button of his breeches came off, and he got a tailor in the neighborhood presently to sew it on again."

We are told that at the time Ireland was called the Isle of Saints, "when a child was immersed at baptism, it was customary not to dip the right arm, to the intent that he might strike a more deadly and ungracious blow therewith; and under an opinion, no doubt, that the rest of the body would not be responsible at the resurrection for[Pg 38] anything which had been committed by the unbaptized hand. Thus, too, at the baptism, the father took the wolves for his gossips, and thought by this profanation he was forming an alliance, both for himself and the boy, with the fiercest beasts of the woods. The son of a chief was baptized in milk; water was not thought good enough, and whisky had not then been invented. They used to rob in the beginning of the year as a point of devotion, for the purpose of laying up a good stock of plunder against Easter; and he whose spoils enabled him to furnish the best entertainment at that time was looked upon as the best Christian; so they robbed in emulation of each other; and reconciling their habits to their conscience, they persuaded themselves that if robbery, murder, and rape had been sins, Providence would never put such temptations in their way: nay, that the sin would be, if they were so ungrateful as not to take advantage of a good opportunity when it was offered them."

In North Wales, it is stated, when a person supposes himself highly injured, it is not uncommon for him to go to some church dedicated to a celebrated saint, as Llan Elian in Anglesea, and Clynog in Carnarvonshire, and there to offer his enemy. He kneels down on his bare knees in the church, and offering a piece of money to the saint, calls down curses and misfortunes upon the offender and his family for generations to come, in the most firm belief that the imprecations will be fulfilled. Sometimes they repair to a sacred well instead of a church.

Mrs. Gaskell, in her biography of Charlotte Brontë, tells of a squire of distinguished family and large property, who died at his house, not far from Haworth, not many years ago. His great amusement and occupation had been cock-fighting. When he was confined to his chamber with what he knew would be his last illness, he had his cocks brought up there, and watched the bloody[Pg 39] battle from his bed. As his mortal disease increased and it became impossible for him to turn so as to follow the combat, he had looking-glasses arranged in such a manner around and above him, as he lay, that he could still see the cocks fighting. And in this manner he died.

"Qualities," says Helps, "are often inserted in a character in the most curious and inharmonious way; and the end is that you have a man who is the strangest mixture of generosity and meanness, of kindness and severity, even of dishonesty and nobleness. Then the passions enter. Sometimes these just fit in, unfortunately, with good points of character,—so that one man may be ruined by a passion which another and a worse man would have escaped unhurt from. Then there are the circumstances to which a character is exposed, and which vary so much that it hardly seems that people are living in the same world, so different are to them the outward things they have to contend with. Altogether, the human being becomes such a complicated creature, that though at last you may know something about some one specimen,—what it will say and what it will do on a given occasion,—you never know enough about the creature to condemn it." "Neither the vices nor the virtues of man," says Taine, "are his nature; to praise or to blame him is not to know him; approbation or disapprobation does not define him; the names of good or bad tell us nothing of what he is. Put the robber Cartouche in an Italian court of the fifteenth century; he would be a great statesman. Transport this nobleman, stingy and narrow-minded, into a shop; he will be an exemplary tradesman. This public man, of inflexible probity, is in his drawing-room an intolerable coxcomb. This father of a family, so humane, is an idiotic politician. Change a virtue in its circumstances, and it becomes a vice; change a vice in its circumstances, and it becomes a virtue. Regard the same[Pg 40] quality from two sides; on one it is a fault, on the other a merit. The essential of a man is found concealed far below these moral badges. A character is a force, like gravity, weight, or steam, capable, as it may happen, of pernicious or profitable effects, and which must be defined otherwise than by the amount of weight it can lift or the havoc it can cause. It is therefore to ignore man, to reduce him to an aggregate of virtues and vices; it is to lose sight in him of all but the exterior and social side; it is to neglect the inner and natural element."

"The character of the French nation," says De Tocqueville, "is so peculiar that the study of human nature in general does not embrace it; those even who have most studied it are continually taken by surprise; for our nation is gifted beyond any other with capacity to appreciate great things, and even to do them; it is equal to any single effort, however extraordinary, but unable to remain strung up to a high pitch for any length of time; because we act upon impulse, not on principle, and our instincts are better than our moral qualities; we are the most civilized people in the world, and yet, in certain respects, we have retained more of the savage than any other nation; for the great characteristic of the savage is, to be influenced by the sudden impressions of the present, without recollection of the past or thought of the future."

"Recollect that village of the Limousin," said a member of the National Convention during the Reign of Terror, "from the top of whose steeple the tri-color flag suddenly disappeared. A violent disturbance was instantly raised; search was made for the daring offender, who could not be found, and in consequence a dozen persons were instantly arrested on suspicion. At length the fragments of the flag were discovered suspended from the branches of a tree, and it was found that a magpie had made its nest with the remains of the national color. Oh! the tyrannical bird! they seized it, cut off its head,[Pg 41] and transmitted the evidence of the act to the Convention. We received it without bursting into laughter; had any one ventured to indulge himself in that way, he would have run the risk of perishing on the public scaffold."

"In all the courts of ancient philosophy this is to be found," says Montaigne, "that the same lecturer there publishes the rules of temperance, and at the same time discourses of love and wantonness." "I know not," said the courtesan Lais, "what they talk of books, wisdom, and philosophy; but these men knock as often at my door as any others." Says Bayle, in his Critical Dictionary, "It was reported that Pericles turned out his wife, and lodged with the famous Aspasia, and plunged himself into lewdness, and spent a great part of his estate upon her. She was a woman of so great parts that Socrates went to see her, and carried his friends with him; and, to speak more clearly, she taught him rhetoric and politics. That which is most strange is, that those who frequented her carried their wives to her house, that they might hear her discourses and lectures, though she kept several courtesans at home. Pericles went to see Aspasia twice a day, and kissed her when he went in and when he came out; which was before he married her. She was accused of two crimes by the comedian Hermippus. He made himself a party against her in due form, and accused her before the judges of impiety, and of drawing women into her house to satisfy the lust of Pericles. During the trial of Aspasia, Pericles used so many entreaties with the judges, and shed so many tears, according to Æschines, that he obtained her absolution. The Athenians said that Phidias, the most excellent sculptor in the world, and surveyor-general of all the works which Pericles ordered to be made for the ornament of the city, drew in the ladies under pretense of showing them the works of the greatest masters; but in truth to debauch and deliver them to Pericles." The[Pg 42] golden statue of Minerva, it should be remembered, was the workmanship of Phidias, and his name was inscribed upon the pedestal. Through the friendship of Pericles he had the direction of everything, and all the artists received his orders. For this, said Plutarch, the one was envied, and the other slandered.

"Good and bad men are each less so than they seem."

"When man's first incense rose above the plain,
Of earth's two altars, one was built by Cain."

"As there is," said Coleridge, "much beast and some devil in man, so is there some angel and some God in man. The beast and the devil may be conquered, but in this life never destroyed." "I have ever delighted," said Boswell, "in that intellectual chemistry which can separate good qualities from evil in the same person."

"The first lesson of history," says Emerson, "is the good of evil. Good is a good doctor, but Bad is sometimes a better. 'Tis the oppressions of William the Norman, savage forest-laws, and crushing despotism, that made possible the inspirations of Magna Charta under John. Edward I. wanted money, armies, castles, and as much as he could get. It was necessary to call the people together by shorter, swifter ways,—and the House of Commons arose. To obtain subsidies, he paid in privileges. In the twenty-fourth year of his reign he decreed, 'that no tax should be levied without consent of Lords and Commons;' which is the basis of the English Constitution. Plutarch affirms that the cruel wars which followed the march of Alexander, introduced the civility, language, and arts of Greece into the savage East; introduced marriage; built seventy cities; and united hostile nations under one government. The barbarians who broke up the Roman empire did not arrive a day too soon. Schiller says, the Thirty Years' War made Germany a nation. Rough, selfish despots serve man immensely, as Henry VIII. in the contest with the pope;[Pg 43] as the infatuations no less than the wisdom of Cromwell; as the ferocity of the Russian czars; as the fanaticism of the French regicides of 1789. The frost which kills the harvest of a year, saves the harvests of a century, by destroying the weevil or the locust. Wars, fires, plagues, break up immovable routine, clear the ground of rotten races, and dens of distemper, and open a fair field to new men. There is a tendency in things to right themselves, and the war or revolution or bankruptcy that shatters a rotten system, allows things to take a new and natural order." "Steam was, till the other day, the devil which we dreaded. Every pot made by any human potter or brazier had a hole in its cover, to let off the enemy, lest he should lift pot and roof, and carry the house away. But the Marquis of Worcester, Watt, and Fulton bethought themselves, that, where was power, was not devil, but was God; that it must be availed of, and not by any means let off and wasted. Could he lift pots and roofs so handily? he was the workman they were in search of."

It is related of Hart, a Baptist minister, that he was so good a preacher and so bad a liver that it was said to him once, "Mr. Hart, when I hear you in the pulpit, I wish you were never out of it; when I see you out of it, I wish you were never in it." One Mr. Nicholls, a Yorkshire clergyman in the days immediately succeeding the Reformation, who was "much addicted to drinking and company-keeping," used to say to his companions, "You must not heed me but when I am got three feet above the earth," that was, into the pulpit. "I have heard of a witty parson," says Dr. Beattie, "who having been dismissed for irregularities, used afterward, in conversation, to say, that he thanked God he was not cashiered for ignorance and insufficiency, but only for vice and immorality." Foster, in a note to one of his Essays, refers to a Spanish story of a village where the devil, having made[Pg 44] the people excessively wicked, was punished by being compelled to assume the appearance and habit of a friar, and to preach so eloquently, in spite of his internal repugnance and rage, that the inhabitants were completely reformed.

Cotton Mather has preserved a choice specimen of invective against Dr. Owen, by one of the primitive Quakers, whose name was Fisher. It was, says Southey, a species of rhetoric in which they indulged freely, and exceeded all other sectarians. Fisher addressed him thus: "Thou fiery fighter and green-headed trumpeter; thou hedgehog and grinning dog; thou bastard, that tumbled out of the mouth of the Babylonish bawd; thou mole; thou tinker; thou lizard; thou bell of no metal, but the tone of a kettle; thou wheelbarrow; thou whirlpool; thou whirligig; oh, thou firebrand; thou adder and scorpion; thou louse; thou cow-dung; thou moon-calf; thou ragged tatterdemalion; thou Judas: thou livest in philosophy and logic, which are of the devil." Mather in turn was alike severe upon the Quakers. He applied to them such language as "upstart sect;" "sink of all heresies;" "the grossest collection of blasphemies and confusions that ever was heard of;" "dangerous villains;" "choke-weed of Christianity;" "the quaking which distinguished these poor creatures was a symptom of diabolical possession;" "devil-driven creatures;" "for pride, and hypocrisy, and hellish reviling against the painful ministers of Christ, I know no people can match them." "He was a wise and a good counsellor in Plymouth-colony, who propounded 'that a law might be made for the Quakers to have their heads shaved.' I confess," he said, "the punishment was in some sort capital; but it would have been the best remedy for them; it would have both sham'd and cur'd them." He quotes some choice language of Penn—"Thou gormandizing Priest, one of the abominable tribe; thou bane of reason; thou pest, to be[Pg 45] spared of mankind; thou mountebank Priest"—and says, "these are the very words (I wrong them not!) which they vomit out against the best men in the English nation, that have been so hardy as to touch their 'light within:' but let the quills of these porcupines fly as fast as they will, I shall not feel them." The good Luther was a violent saint sometimes. Hear him express himself on the Catholic divines: "The papists are all asses, and will always remain asses. Put them in whatever sauce you choose, boiled, roasted, baked, fried, skinned, beat, hashed, they are always the same asses." Hear him salute the pope: "The pope was born out of the devil's posteriors. He is full of devils, lies, blasphemies, and idolatries; he is Antichrist; the robber of churches; the ravisher of virgins; the greatest of pimps; the governor of Sodom, etc. If the Turks lay hold of us, then we shall be in the hands of the devil; but if we remain with the pope, we shall be in hell. What a pleasing sight would it be to see the pope and the cardinals hanging on one gallows, in exact order, like the seals which dangle from the bulls of the pope! What an excellent council would they hold under the gallows!" And hear him upon Henry VIII.: "It is hard to say if folly can be more foolish, or stupidity more stupid, than is the head of Henry. He has not attacked me with the heart of a king, but with the impudence of a knave. This rotten worm of the earth, having blasphemed the majesty of my King, I have a just right to bespatter his English majesty with his own dirt and ordure. This Henry has lied." The good Calvin was alike violent. He hated Catholic and Lutheran. "His adversaries are never others than knaves, lunatics, drunkards, and assassins. Sometimes they are characterized by the familiar appellatives of bulls, asses, cats, and hogs." Beza, the disciple of Calvin, imitated his master. Upon a Lutheran minister, Tilleman, he bestowed these titles of honor: "Polyphemus; an ape; a great ass who is distinguished[Pg 46] from other asses by wearing a hat; an ass on two feet; a monster composed of part of an ape and wild ass; a villain who merits hanging on the first tree we find." As to the Catholics, there is no end to the anathemas and curses of the Fathers.

One of the old bishops called anger "the sinews of the soul." It helped to fortify the rugged reformer in his conflicts, and illuminated the perilous way he trod. "We oft by lightning read in darkest nights." It is said the finest wine is pressed from vintages which grow on fields once inundated with lava. "I never work better," said Luther, "than when I am inspired by anger; when I am angry I can write, pray, and preach well; for then my whole temperament is quickened, my understanding sharpened, and all mundane vexations and temptations depart." "No one can suppose," said Bulwer, "that Calvin did not deem that the angels smiled approbation when he burned Servetus. No one can suppose that when Torquemada devised the Inquisition, he did not conscientiously believe that the greatest happiness of the greatest number could be best secured by selecting a few for a roast." Burke said, "a vigorous mind is as necessarily accompanied with violent passions as a great fire with great heat." "It is the strong passions," said Helvetius, "which, rescuing us from sloth, can alone impart to us that continuous and earnest attention necessary to great intellectual efforts." "No revolution (in public sentiment), civil or religious," said Sir Gilbert Elliot, "can be accomplished without that degree of ardor and passion which, in a later age, will be matter of ridicule to men who do not feel the occasion, and enter into the spirit of the times." "The man who succeeds," said a British reviewer, "is generally the narrow man, the man of one idea, who works at nothing but that; sees everything only through the light of that; sacrifices everything to that; the fanatic, in short. By fanatics, whether military,[Pg 47] commercial, or religious, and not by 'liberal-minded men' at all, has the world's work been done in all ages." "Our passions," said John Norris, "were given us to perfect and accomplish our natures, though by accidental misapplications to unworthy objects they may turn to our degradation and dishonor. We may, indeed, be debased as well as ennobled by them; but then the fault is not in the large sails, but in the ill conduct of the pilot, if our vessel miss the haven." When one commended a certain king of Sparta for a gentle, a good, and a meek prince, his colleague said, "How can he be good who is not an enemy even to vicious persons?" Erasmus said of Luther that there were two natures in him: sometimes he wrote like an apostle, sometimes like a raving ribald. "When he was angry, invectives rushed from him like bowlder rocks down a mountain torrent in flood." "The same man," said Heine, of Luther, "who could scold like a fish-wife could be as gentle as a tender maiden. At times he was as fierce as the storm that uproots oaks; and then again he was as mild as the zephyr caressing the violets.... The refinement of Erasmus, the mildness of Melancthon, could never have brought us so far as the godlike brutality of Brother Martin." But there was no trace of vanity about him. "Do not call yourselves Lutherans," he said; "call yourselves Christians. Who and what is Luther? Has Luther been crucified for the world?"

"The Latin tongue," says Montaigne, "is, as it were, natural to me; I understand it better than French, but I have not used to speak it, nor hardly to write it, these forty years; and yet, upon an extreme and sudden emotion, which I have fallen into twice or thrice in my life, and once on seeing my father in perfect health, fall upon me in a swoon, I have always uttered my first outcries and ejaculations in Latin; nature starting up and forcibly expressing itself, in spite of so long a discontinuation."[Pg 48] "Nature," says Bacon, "will be buried a great time, and yet revive upon the occasion or temptation; like as it was with Æsop's damsel, turned from a cat to a woman, who sat very demurely at the board's end till a mouse ran before her." "A frog," said Publius Syrus, "would leap from a throne of gold into a puddle." In Froissart's Chronicles there is an account of a reverend monk who had been a robber in the early part of his life, and who, when he grew old, used feelingly to lament that he had ever changed his profession. He said "it was a goodly sight to sally out from his castle, and to see a troop of jolly friars coming riding that way, with their mules well laden with viands and rich stores, to advance toward them, to attack and overthrow them, returning to the castle with a noble booty." Layard relates an incident of the party of Arabs which for some time had been employed to assist him in excavating amongst the ruins of Nineveh. One evening, after their day's work, he observed them following a flock of sheep belonging to the people of the village, shouting their war-cry, flourishing their swords, and indulging in the most extravagant gesticulations. He asked one of the most active of the party to explain to him the cause of such violent proceedings. "O Bey!" they exclaimed almost together, "God be praised, we have eaten butter and wheaten bread under your shadow, and are content; but an Arab is an Arab. It is not for a man to carry about dirt in baskets, and to use a spade all his life; he should be with his sword and his mare in the desert. We are sad as we think of the days when we plundered the Anayza, and we must have excitement or our hearts must break. Let us then believe that these are the sheep we have taken from the enemy, and that we are driving them to our tents." And off they ran, raising their wild cry, and flourishing their swords, to the no small alarm of the shepherd, who saw his sheep scampering in all directions. Hazlitt related an Indian legend[Pg 49] of a Brahman, who was so devoted to abstract meditation, that in the pursuit of philosophy he quite forgot his moral duties, and neglected ablution. For this he was degraded from the rank of humanity, and transformed into a monkey. But even when a monkey he retained his original propensities, for he kept apart from other monkeys, and had no other delight than that of eating cocoanuts and studying metaphysics. "Perhaps few narratives in history or mythology," says Carlyle, "are more significant than that Moslem one of Moses and the Dwellers by the Dead Sea. A tribe of men dwelt on the shores of that same asphaltic lake; and having forgotten, as we are all too prone to do, the inner facts of Nature, and taken up with the falsities and other semblances of it, were fallen into sad conditions,—verging, indeed, toward a certain far deeper lake. Whereupon it pleased kind Heaven to send them the prophet Moses, with an instructive word of warning out of which might have sprung 'remedial measures' not a few. But no: the men of the Dead Sea discovered, as the valet species always does in heroes or prophets, no comeliness in Moses; listened with real tedium to Moses, with light grinning, or splenetic sniffs and sneers, affecting even to yawn; and signified, in short, that they found him a humbug, and even a bore. Such was the candid theory these men of the asphalt lake formed to themselves of Moses, that probably he was a humbug, that certainly he was a bore. Moses withdrew; but Nature and her rigorous veracities did not withdraw. The men of the Dead Sea, when we next went to visit them, were all changed into apes, sitting on the trees there, grinning now in the most unaffected manner; gibbering and chattering very genuine nonsense; finding the whole universe now a most indisputable humbug! The universe has become a humbug to those apes who thought it one. There they sit and chatter, to this hour: only, I believe, every Sabbath, there returns to them a bewildered[Pg 50] half-consciousness, half-reminiscence; and they sit with their wizened, smoke-dried visages, and such an air of supreme tragicality as apes may, looking out through those blinking, smoke-bleared eyes of theirs, into the wonderfulest universal smoky twilight and undecipherable disordered dusk of things; wholly an uncertainty, unintelligibility, they and it, and for commentary thereon, here and there an unmusical chatter or mew,—truest, tragicalest humbug conceivable by the mind of man or ape! They made no use of their souls; and so have lost them. Their worship on the Sabbath now is to roost there, with unmusical screeches, and half-remember that they had souls." The shark is said to have been the god the Sandwich Islanders, in their savage state, chiefly worshiped, or sought to propitiate. In their present semi-civilized, semi-Christianized condition, it is stated, they pray, and sing, and moralize, in fair weather; but when they get into trouble they are apt to call upon the shark-god of their fathers for help or deliverance.

Sir Walter Scott used to tell a story of a placid minister, near Dundee, who, in preaching on Jonah, said, "Ken ye, brethren, what fish it was that swallowed him? Aiblins ye may think it was a shark; nae, nae, my brethren, it was nae shark; or aiblins ye may think it was a sammon; nae, nae, my brethren, it was nae sammon; or aiblins ye may think it was a dolphin; nae, nae, my brethren, it was nae dolphin." Here an old woman, thinking to help her master out of a dead lift, cried out, "Aiblins, sir, it was a dunter" (the vulgar name of a species of whale common to the Scotch coast). "Aiblins, madam, ye're an auld witch for taking the word of God out of my mouth," was the reply of the disappointed rhetorician. As Dr. Johnson was riding in a carriage through London on a rainy day, he overtook a poor woman carrying a baby, without any protection from the weather. Making the driver stop the coach, he invited[Pg 51] the poor woman to get in with her child, which she did. After she had seated herself, the doctor said to her, "My good woman, I think it most likely that the motion of the coach will wake your child in a little while, and I wish you to understand that if you talk any baby-talk to it, you will have to get out of the coach." As the doctor had anticipated, the child soon awoke, and the forgetful mother exclaimed to it: "Oh! the little dear, is he going to open his eyesy-pysy?" "Stop the coach, driver!" shouted Johnson; and the woman had to get out and finish her journey on foot. Frederick William, of Prussia, father of the great Frederick, had a way of addressing, familiarly, the people he met in the streets of Berlin, utterly indifferent, we are told, to his own dignity and to the feelings of others; if he could devise something that was not quite agreeable, it was sure to be said. The fear of such encounters sometimes made nervous people indiscreetly evade the royal presence. One Jew having fairly taken to his heels, he was pursued by the king in hot haste. "Why did you run away from me?" said the king, when he came up with him in breathless dudgeon. "From fear," answered the Jew, in the most ingenuous manner; but the rejoinder of the king was a hearty thwack with his cane, who roared out that he wished himself to be loved and not to be feared!

A writer upon Holland—its Martyrs and Heroes, gives an account of Richard Willemson, a worthy burgess of Aspern, and an Anabaptist, who was chased by an officer of justice. It was a winter day, and he fled across the ice. The frozen surface, however, was so thin that the fugitive had the utmost difficulty in crossing, and his pursuer fell through. Perceiving his danger, Willemson returned and at the risk of his own life saved his enemy. Touched with such generosity, the officer would gladly have let his prisoner go; but the burgomaster, who witnessed the occurrence, called out, "Fulfil your oath," and the good Christian was led away to a fiery martyrdom.

[Pg 52]

Dr. Livingstone, when he first went into Africa, as a missionary, attached himself to the tribe of Bakwains. Their chief, Sechele, embraced Christianity, and became an assiduous reader of the Bible, the eloquence of Isaiah being peculiarly acceptable to him, and he was wont to say, "He was a fine man, that Isaiah: he knew how to speak." But his people were not so ready for conversion, although he calmly proposed to have them flogged into faith: "Do you imagine," he said, "these people will ever believe by your merely talking to them? I can make them do nothing except by thrashing them; and if you like I shall call my head men, and with our litupa (whips of rhinoceros hide) we will soon make them believe altogether." It has been stated upon authority that when a fugitive from one of the early missions in New California was captured, he was brought back again to the mission, where he was bastinadoed, and an iron rod of a foot or a foot and a half long, and an inch in diameter, was fastened to one of his feet, which had the double use of preventing him from repeating the attempt, and of frightening others from imitating him. Southey says that one of the missionaries whom Virgilius, the bishop of Salzburg, sent among the Slavonic people, made the converted serfs sit with him at table, where wine was served to them in gilt beakers, while he ordered their unbaptized lords to sit on the ground, out of doors, where the food and wine was thrown before them, and they were left to serve themselves. Among our Norse forefathers, King Olaf's mode of converting Eyvind to Christianity was to put a pan of glowing coals on his belly, which burst asunder. "Wilt thou not, Eyvind, believe in Christ?" asks Olaf, in excellent faith. Another argument was an adder put into the mouth of the reluctant disciple Rand, who refused to believe.

"Seeing a large building," relates an English gentleman, "I asked a man who looked like a journeyman[Pg 53] weaver what it was. He told me a grammar-school. 'But, sir,' he added, 'I think it would become you better on the Lord's day morning to be reading your Bible at home, than asking about public buildings.' I very quickly answered: 'My friend, you have given me a piece of very good advice; let me give you one, and we may both profit by our meeting. Beware of spiritual pride.'" "In one of the debates on the Catholic question," said Lord Byron, "when we were either equal or within one (I forget which), I had been sent for in great haste to a ball, which I quitted, I confess, somewhat reluctantly, to emancipate five millions of people." Some ladies bantering Selwyn on his want of feeling, in attending to see Lord Lovat's head cut off, "Why," he said, "I made amends by going to the undertaker's to see it sewn on again." "I have," says Heine, "the most peaceable disposition. My desires are a modest cottage with thatched roof—but a good bed, good fare, fresh milk and butter, flowers by my window, and a few fine trees before the door. And if the Lord wished to fill my cup of happiness, He would grant me the pleasure of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanged on those trees. With a heart moved to pity, I would, before their death, forgive the injury they had done me during their lives. Yes, we ought to forgive our enemies—but not until they are hanged." Some would pursue them after they are hanged. "Our measure of rewards and punishments," says Thackeray, "is most partial and incomplete, absurdly inadequate, utterly worldly, and we wish to continue it into the next world. Into that next and awful world we strive to pursue men, and send after them our impotent party verdicts, of condemnation or acquittal. We set up our paltry little rods to measure Heaven immeasurable, as if, in comparison to that, Newton's mind, or Pascal's, or Shakespeare's, was any loftier than mine; as if the ray which travels from the sun would reach me sooner than[Pg 54] the man who blacks my boots. Measured by that altitude, the tallest and the smallest among us are so alike diminutive and pitifully base that I say we should take no count of the calculation, and it is a meanness to reckon the difference."

Tertullian, according to Lecky, had written a treatise dissuading the Christians of his day from frequenting the public spectacles. He had collected on the subject many arguments, some of them very powerful, and others extremely grotesque; but he perceived that to make his exhortations forcible to the majority of his readers, he must point them to some counter-attraction. He accordingly proceeded—and his style assumed a richer glow and a more impetuous eloquence as he rose to the congenial theme—to tell them that a spectacle was reserved for them, so fascinating and so attractive that the most joyous festivals of earth faded in insignificance by the comparison. That spectacle was the agonies of their fellow-countrymen as they writhe amid the torments of hell. "What!" he exclaimed, "shall be the magnitude of that scene! How shall I wonder! How shall I laugh! How shall I rejoice! How shall I triumph, when I behold so many and such illustrious kings, who were said to have mounted into heaven, groaning with Jupiter their god in the lowest darkness of hell! Then shall the soldiers who had persecuted the name of Christ burn in more cruel fire than any they had kindled for the saints. Then shall the tragedians pour forth in their own misfortune more piteous cries than those with which they had made the theatre to resound, while the comedian's powers shall be better seen as he becomes more flexible by the heat. Then shall the driver of the circus stand forth to view, all blushing in his flaming chariot, and the gladiators pierced, not by spears, but by darts of fire. Compared with such spectacles, with such subjects of triumph as these, what can prætor or consul, quæstor or pontiff, afford?[Pg 55] And even now faith can bring them near, imagination can depict them as present!"

Crabb Robinson says some one at a party at which he was present, abusing Mahometanism in a commonplace way, said: "Its heaven is quite material." He was met with the quiet remark, "So is the Christian's hell;" to which there was no reply. In the time of Tertullian, the angel in the Last Judgment was constantly represented weighing the souls in a literal balance, while devils clinging to the scales endeavored to disturb the equilibrium. The redbreast, according to one popular legend, was commissioned by the Deity to carry a drop of water to the souls of unbaptized infants in hell, and its breast was singed in piercing the flames. In Wales, the robin is said to bear in its bill one drop of water daily to the place of torment, in order to extinguish the flames.

A Calvinistic divine, of the name of Petit Pierre, was ejected from his church at Neufchatel for preaching and publishing the doctrine that the damned would at some future period be pardoned. A member said to him, "My good friend, I no more believe in the eternity of hell than yourself; but recollect that it may be no bad thing, perhaps, for your servant, your tailor, and your lawyer, to believe in it." Whitefield was once preaching in Haworth, and made use of some such expression, as that he "hoped there was no need to say much to this congregation, as they had sat under so pious and godly a minister for so many years;" whereupon Mr. Grimshaw, the curate, stood up in his place, and said with a loud voice, "Oh, sir! for God's sake do not speak so. I pray you do not flatter them. I fear the greater part of them are going to hell with their eyes open." Cowper's friend, Newton, says this in one of his letters: "A friend of mine was desired to visit a woman in prison; he was informed of her evil habits of life, and therefore spoke strongly of the terrors of the Lord, and the curses of the[Pg 56] law: she heard him a while, and then laughed in his face; upon this he changed his note, and spoke of the Saviour, and what he had done and suffered for sinners. He had not talked long in this strain before he saw a tear or two in her eyes: at length she interrupted him by saying: 'Why, sir, do you think there can be any hope of mercy for me?' He answered, 'Yes, if you feel your need of it, and are willing to seek it in God's appointed way. I am sure it is as free for you as for myself.' She replied, 'Ah, if I had thought so, I should not have been in this prison. I long since settled it in my mind that I was utterly lost; that I had sinned beyond all possibility of forgiveness, and that made me desperate.'" Monod relates that the Moravian missionaries who carried the gospel to the Greenlanders thought it best to prepare the minds of the savages to receive it, by declaring to them at first only the general truths of religion; the existence of God, the obedience due to his laws, and a future retribution. Thus passed away several years, during which they saw no fruit of their labors. At last they ventured one day to speak to them of the Saviour, and read to them the history of his passion. They had no sooner done so, than one of the hearers, named Kajarnak, approached the table where the missionary Beck was sitting, and said to him in an earnest, affecting tone: "What is that you tell us? Repeat that once more. I too will be saved!" ("The most awfully tremendous of all metaphysical divines," wrote an eminent Englishman, "is the American ultra Calvinist, Jonathan Edwards, whose book on Original Sin I unhappily read when a very young man. It did me an irreparable mischief.")

"Soon after the accession of James I. to the throne of England," writes Lecky, in his History of Rationalism in Europe, "a law was enacted which subjected witches to death on the first conviction, even though they should have inflicted no injury upon their neighbors. This law[Pg 57] was passed when Coke was attorney general, and Bacon a member of Parliament; and twelve bishops sat upon the commission to which it was referred. The prosecutions were rapidly multiplied throughout the country, but especially in Lancashire, and at the same time the general tone of literature was strongly tinged with the superstition. Sir Thomas Browne declared that those who denied the existence of witchcraft were not only 'infidels, but also, by implication, atheists.' In Cromwell's time there was still greater persecution. The county of Suffolk was especially agitated, and the famous witch-finder, Matthew Hopkins, pronounced it to be infested with witches. A commission was accordingly issued, and two distinguished Presbyterian divines were selected by the Parliament to accompany it. It would have been impossible to take any measure more calculated to stimulate the prosecutions, and we accordingly find that in Suffolk sixty persons were hung for witchcraft in a single year. In 1664 two women were hung in Suffolk, under a sentence of Sir Matthew Hale, who took the opportunity of declaring that the reality of witchcraft was unquestionable; 'for, first, the Scriptures had affirmed so much; and, secondly, the wisdom of all nations had provided laws against such persons, which is an argument of their confidence of such a crime.' Sir Thomas Browne, who was a great physician, as well as a great writer, was called as a witness, and swore 'that he was clearly of opinion that the persons were bewitched.'"

Here is a terrible story, perfectly well authenticated, taken from the official report of the proceedings by an English historian: "Toward the end of 1593 there was trouble in the family of the Earl of Orkney. His brother laid a plot to murder him, and was said to have sought the help of a notorious witch called Alison Balfour. When Alison Balfour's life was looked into, no evidence could be found connecting her either with the particular[Pg 58] offense or with witchcraft in general; but it was enough in these matters to be accused. She swore she was innocent; but her guilt was only held to be aggravated by perjury. She was tortured again and again. Her legs were put in the caschilaws,—an iron frame which was gradually heated till it burned into the flesh,—but no confession could be wrung from her. The caschilaws failed utterly, and something else had to be tried. She had a husband, a son, and a daughter, a child seven years old. As her own sufferings did not work upon her, she might be touched, perhaps, by the suffering of those who were dear to her. They were brought into court, and placed at her side, and the husband first placed in the 'long irons'—some accursed instrument, I know not what. Still the devil did not yield. She bore this; and her son was next operated on. The boy's legs were set in 'the boot,'—the iron boot you may have heard of. The wedges were driven in, which, when forced home, crushed the very bone and marrow. Fifty-seven mallet strokes were delivered upon the wedges. Yet this, too, failed. There was no confession yet. So, last of all, the little daughter was taken. There was a machine called the piniwinkies—a kind of thumb-screw, which brought blood from under the finger-nails, with a pain successfully terrible. These things were applied to the poor child's hands, and the mother's constancy broke down, and she said she would admit anything they wished. She confessed her witchcraft,—so tried, she would have confessed to the seven deadly sins,—and then she was burned, recalling her confession, and with her last breath protested her innocence."

"There was one Mary Johnson try'd at Hartford in this countrey," says Cotton Mather, in his Magnalia Christi Americana, "upon an indictment of 'familiarity with the devil,' and was found guilty thereof, chiefly upon her own confession.... In the time of her imprisonment,[Pg 59] the famous Mr. Stone was at great pains to promote her conversion from the devil to God; and she was by the best observers judged very penitent, both before her execution and at it; and she went out of the world with comfortable hopes of mercy from God through the merit of our Saviour. Being asked what she built her hopes upon, she answered, Upon these words: 'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;' and these: 'There is a fountain set open for sin and uncleanness.' And she dy'd in a frame extreamly to the satisfaction of them that were spectators of it."

In 1768 John Wesley prefaced an account of an apparition that had been related by a girl named Elizabeth Hobson, by some extremely remarkable sentences on the subject. "It is true, likewise," he wrote, "that the English in general, and, indeed, most of the men of learning in Europe, have given up all account of witches and apparitions as mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly take this opportunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent compliment which so many that believe the Bible pay to those that do not believe it. I owe them no such service. I take knowledge that these are at the bottom of the outcry which has been raised, and with such insolence spread through the land, in direct opposition, not only to the Bible, but to the suffrage of the wisest and best men in all ages and nations. They well know (whether Christians know it or not) that the giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible."

"In the first year of this persecution, Cotton Mather wrote a history of the earliest of the trials. This history was introduced to the English public by Richard Baxter, who declared in his preface that 'that man must be a very obdurate Sadducee who would not believe it.' Not content with having thus given the weight of his great name to the superstition, Baxter in the following year[Pg 60] published his treatise on The Certainty of the World of Spirits; in which he collected, with great industry, an immense number of witch cases; reverted in extremely laudatory terms to Cotton Mather and his crusade; and denounced, in unmeasured language, all who were skeptical upon the subject. This work appeared in 1691, when the panic in America had not yet reached its height; and being widely circulated there, is said to have contributed much to stimulate the persecutions. The Pilgrim Fathers had brought to America the seeds of the persecution; and at the same time when it was rapidly fading in England, it flourished with fearful vigor in Massachusetts. Cotton Mather and Parris proclaimed the frequency of the crime; and, being warmly supported by their brother divines, they succeeded in creating a panic through the whole country. A commission was issued. A judge named Stoughton, who appears to have been a perfect creature of the clergy, conducted the trials. Scourgings and tortures were added to the terrorism of the pulpit, and many confessions were obtained. The few who ventured to oppose the prosecutions were denounced as Sadducees and infidels. Multitudes were thrown into prison, others fled from the country, abandoning their property, and twenty-seven persons were executed. An old man of eighty was pressed to death—a horrible sentence, which was never afterward executed in America. [Giles Corey was the name of the poor victim. He refused to plead, to save his property from confiscation. He urged the executioners, it is stated by Upham, in his History of Witchcraft, to increase the weight which was crushing him; he told them that it was no use to expect him to yield; that there could be but one way of ending the matter, and that they might as well pile on the stones. Calef says, that as his body yielded to the pressure, his tongue protruded from his mouth, and an official forced it back with his cane.] The ministers of Boston and Charlestown[Pg 61] drew up an address, warmly thanking the commissioners for their zeal, and expressing their hope that it would never be relaxed."

There is no more painful reading than this except the trials of the witches themselves. "These," says Lowell, "awaken, by turns, pity, indignation, disgust, and dread,—dread, at the thought of what the human mind may be brought to believe not only probable, but proven. But it is well to be put upon our guard by lessons of this kind, for the wisest man is in some respects little better than a madman in a straight-waistcoat of habit, public opinion, prudence, or the like. Skepticism began at length to make itself felt, but it spread slowly, and was shy of proclaiming itself. The orthodox party was not backward to charge with sorcery whoever doubted their facts or pitied their victims. The mob, as it always is, was orthodox. It was dangerous to doubt, it might be fatal to deny."

"The spirit of party," quaintly says Bayle, in his Critical Dictionary, discoursing of Margaret, Queen of Navarre, "the attachment to a sect, and even zeal for orthodoxy, produce a kind of ferment in the humors of our body; and hence the medium through which reason ought to behold these primitive ideas is clouded and obscured. These are infirmities which will attend our reason, as long as it shall depend upon the ministry of organs. It is the same thing to it, as the low and middle region of the air, the seat of vapors and meteors. There are but very few persons who can elevate themselves above these clouds, and place themselves in a true serenity. If any one could do it, we must say of him what Virgil did of Daphnis:—

'Daphnis, the guest of Heaven, with wondering eyes,
Views in the milky-way the starry skies;
And far beneath him, from the shining sphere,
Beholds the moving clouds and rolling year.'
[Pg 62]

And he would not have so much the appearance of a man, as of an immortal Being, placed upon a mountain above the region of wind and clouds. There is almost as much necessity for being above the passions to come to a knowledge of some kind of truths, as to act virtuously." "How limited is human reason," exclaims Disraeli, the younger, "the profoundest inquirers are most conscious. We are not indebted to the reason of man for any of the great achievements which are the landmarks of human action and human progress. It was not reason that besieged Troy; it was not reason that sent forth the Saracen from the desert to conquer the world; that inspired the crusades; that instituted the monastic orders; it was not reason that produced the Jesuits; above all, it was not reason that enacted the French Revolution. Man is only truly great when he acts from the passions; never irresistible but when he appeals to the imagination. Even Mormon counts more votaries than Bentham." "Let us not dream," said Goethe, "that reason can ever be popular. Passions, emotions, may be made popular; but reason remains ever the property of an elect few." "It is not from reason and prudence that people marry," said Dr. Johnson, "but from inclination. A man is poor; he thinks it cannot be worse, and so I'll e'en marry Peggy." "If people," said Thackeray, "only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!"

[Pg 63]



Man, poor fellow, would be a curious object for microscopic study. If it were possible to view him through powerful glasses, what humiliating resemblances and infirmities would be discovered. He would be found to have innumerable tentacula and appendages, for protection and warning, and especially to possess unconceived of apparatus for making his way in the dark,—necessities to him, it would appear, when further inspection of the creature had shown him to be—blind. At last, he finds himself obliged to rely upon such qualities and faculties as take the place of powers and eyes. Cowardly, he is gregarious, and will not live alone; weak, he consorts with weakness, to acquire strength; ignorant, he contributes the least bit to the common stock of intelligence, and escapes responsibility. One of many, he has the protection of the mob; embodying others' weaknesses, he is strong in the bundle of sticks; joining his voice with the million, it is lost in the confusion of tongues. Attacked, he is fortified by his society; down, he will rise again with his fellows; stupid with the rest, his shame is unfelt by being diffused. In any extremity, there is safety in counsel; in the ranks, he cannot run; in the crowd, it were vain to think. Weary of stagnation or tired by the eddies, he goes with the current; unable to stand an individual, he joins with a party; a poor creature of God, he is afraid to trust Him on his Word, and flies to a sect with a creed for protection. In the wake of thought, he may be thoughtless; voting the[Pg 64] ticket, he is a patriot; a stiff bigot, there can be no doubt about his religion. He submits to be thought for as a child; to be cared for as an invalid; to be subordinated as an idiot. Unequal to a scheme of his own, he falls into one already devised for him; without independent views, he relies upon his newspaper; without implicit trust in God, he leans upon a broken reed in preference. Thus his business, his politics, his religion, are defined for him, and are of easy reference; indeed it may be said he knows them by heart, so little there is of them. Of the laws of trade, political economy, essential Christianity, he may be as ignorant as a barbarian, at the same time be complacent and respectable in his ignorance. Acting for himself, he would be set down as eccentric by his banker; thinking for himself, he would be thought to be too uncertain to be trustworthy; living virtuously, walking humbly, and trusting his Creator to take care of his creature, he would be an object of suspicion, even if he escaped being called an infidel. His tailor determines the cut of his coat; the street defines his manners and morals; custom becomes his law, and compliance his gospel.

Addison, in The Spectator, gives an account of a gentleman who determined to live and dress according to the rules of common sense, and was shut up in a lunatic asylum in consequence. "Custom," says Carlyle, "doth make dotards of us all. Philosophy complains that custom has hoodwinked us from the first; that we do everything by custom, even believe by it; that our very axioms, let us boast of free-thinking as we may, are oftenest simply such beliefs as we have never heard questioned." "In this great society wide lying around us," says Emerson, "a critical analysis would find very few spontaneous actions. It is almost all custom and gross sense." We play our parts so faithfully, not to say conscientiously, that often we have difficulty in placing ourselves, whether with the assumed or the natural. The[Pg 65] little arts and artifices we thrive by, become essentially a part of us; and in the jostle and conflict—the greater to devour the lesser and the lesser the least—we seem impelled to pursue the objects and ends which long habit has somehow convinced us nature particularly suited us to pursue. When an event occurs to attract attention to our follies or baseness, it has not the effect to prompt repentance, but to excite our cunning, and set us to work to find excuses, or to imagine some other course of conduct which would have been more foolish or mischievous. "We keep on deceiving ourselves in regard to our faults, until we, at last, come to look upon them as virtues." Like Selwyn, the accomplished courtier and wit in the time of George III., we get to think even our vices necessities. After a night of elegant rioting and debauch, he tumbled out of his bed at noon the next day, and reeling with both hands upon his head to a mirror in his apartment, gazed at himself and soliloquized: "I look and feel most villainously mean; but it's life—hang it, it's life!"

Lord Bacon, discoursing upon the "politic knowledge of ourselves," and the "wisdom of business," in the Second Book of the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, says: "The covering of defects is of no less importance than the valuing of good parts; which may be done in three manners, by caution, by color, and by confidence. Caution is when men do ingeniously and discreetly avoid to be put into those things for which they are not proper: whereas, contrariwise, bold and unquiet spirits will thrust themselves into matters without difference, and so publish and proclaim all their wants. Color is, when men make a way for themselves, to have a construction made of their faults and wants, as proceeding from a better cause, or intended for some other purpose: for of the one it is well said, 'Vice often lurks in the likeness of virtue,' and therefore whatsoever want a man hath, he must see that he pretend the virtue that shadoweth[Pg 66] it; as if he be dull, he must affect gravity; if a coward, mildness; and so the rest: for the second, a man must frame some probable cause why he should not do his best, and why he should dissemble his abilities; and for that purpose must use to dissemble those abilities which are notorious in him, to give color that his true wants are but industries and dissimulations. For confidence, it is the last but surest remedy; namely, to depress and seem to despise whatsoever a man cannot attain; observing the good principle of the merchants, who endeavor to raise the price of their own commodities, and to beat down the price of others. But there is a confidence that passeth this other; which is to face out a man's own defects, in seeming to conceive that he is best in those things wherein he is failing; and, to help that again, to seem on the other side that he hath least opinion of himself in those things wherein he is best; like as we shall see it commonly in poets; that if they show their verses, and you except to any, they will say, that that line cost them more labor than any of the rest; and presently will seem to disable and suspect rather some other line, which they know well enough to be the best in the number."

"Few persons who talk of any virtue or quality," says Pascal, "are inwardly acquainted or affected with it. We are all full of duplicity, deceit, and contradiction. We love to wear a disguise, even within, and are afraid of being detected by ourselves."

Infirmities and calamities have been made to serve important uses in the designs of men. "It was necessary," says a writer upon Mahomet, "that the religion he proposed to establish should have a divine sanction; and for this purpose he turned a calamity with which he was afflicted to his advantage. He was often subject to fits of epilepsy, a disease which those whom it afflicts are desirous to conceal. Mahomet gave out, therefore, that[Pg 67] these fits were trances, into which he was miraculously thrown by God Almighty, during which he was instructed in his will, which he was commanded to publish to the world. By this strange story, and by leading a retired, abstemious, and austere life, he easily acquired a character for superior sanctity among his acquaintances and neighbors. When he thought himself sufficiently fortified by the numbers and enthusiasm of his followers, he boldly declared himself a prophet, sent by God into the world, not only to teach his will, but to compel mankind to obey it."

The world not only seems to be easily deceived, but seems to delight in deception. "If you wish to be powerful," said Horne Tooke, "pretend to be powerful." If you wish to be considered wise, systematically pretend to be, and you will generally be acknowledged to be. We all know, for instance, the influence of manner, as sometimes displayed by persons of great assumed personal dignity. Every neighborhood is afflicted with such pretenders. "Among those terms," says Whipple, indignantly, "which have long ceased to have any vital meaning, the word dignity deserves a disgraceful prominence. No word has fallen so readily into the designs of cant, imposture, and pretense; none has played so well the part of verbal scarecrow, to frighten children of all ages and both sexes. It is at once the thinnest and most effective of all the coverings under which duncedom sneaks and skulks. Most of the men of dignity, who awe or bore their more genial brethren, are simply men who possess the art of passing off their insensibility for wisdom, their dullness for depth, and of concealing imbecility of intellect under haughtiness of manner. Their success in this small game is one of the stereotyped satires upon mankind. Once strip from these pretenders their stolen garments—once disconnect their show of dignity from their real meanness—and they would stand[Pg 68] shivering and defenseless,—objects of the tears of pity, or targets for the arrows of scorn.... Manner triumphs over matter; and throughout society, politics, letters, and science, we are doomed to meet a swarm of dunces and wind-bags, disguised as gentlemen, statesmen, and scholars." When they open their mouths, it is to expand themselves with a new inhalation of emptiness, or to depreciate or belittle what they pretend is insignificant, when it only exceeds their capacity. They put up their heads and expectorate with a smirky haughtiness, as if everything worth knowing were known to them, when a single sensation of modesty would envelop their moony faces with blushes. Every one has seen such a character,—"an embodied tediousness, which society is apt not only to tolerate, but to worship; a person who announces the stale commonplaces of conversation with the awful precision of one bringing down to the valleys of thought bright truths plucked on its summits; who is so profoundly deep and painfully solid, on the weather, or some nothing of the day; who is inexpressibly shocked if your eternal gratitude does not repay him for the trite information he consumed your hour in imparting; and who, if you insinuate that this calm, contented, imperturbable stupidity is preying upon your patience, instantly stands upon his dignity, and puts on a face." "A certain nobleman, some years ago," says Bulwer, in one of his essays, "was conspicuous for his success in the world. He had been employed in the highest situations, at home and abroad, without one discoverable reason for his selection, and without justifying the selection by one proof of administrative ability. Yet at each appointment the public said, 'A great gain to the government! Superior man!' And when from each office he passed away, or rather passed imperceptibly onward toward offices still more exalted, the public said, 'A great loss to the government! Superior man!' He was the most silent person[Pg 69] I ever met. But when the first reasoners of the age would argue some knotty point in his presence, he would, from time to time, slightly elevate his eyebrows, gently shake his head, or, by a dexterous smile of significant complacency, impress on you the notion how easily he could set those babblers right if he would but condescend to give voice to the wisdom within him. I was very young when I first met this superior man; and chancing on the next day to call on the late Lord Durham, I said, in the presumption of early years, 'I passed six mortal hours last evening in company with Lord ——. I don't think there is much in him,' 'Good heavens!' cried Lord Durham, 'how did you find that out? Is it possible that he could have—talked?'" Coleridge speaks of a dignified man he once saw at a dinner-table. "He listened to me," says the poet, "and said nothing for a long time; but he nodded his head, and I thought him intelligent. At length, toward the end of the dinner, some apple dumplings were placed on the table, and my man had no sooner seen them, than he burst forth with,—'Them's the jockies for me!' I wish Spurzheim could have examined the fellow's head." The Duke of Somerset is described as one of these dignified gentlemen. His second wife was one of the most beautiful women in England. She once suddenly threw her arms around his neck, and gave him a kiss which might have gladdened the heart of an emperor. The duke, lifting his shoulders with an aristocratic square, slowly said, "Madam, my first wife was a Howard, and she never would have taken such a liberty!" If it were practicable to expose the artifice and emptiness of such characters, the exhibition would be as amusing as the scene once presented on the stage of a theatre. The comedian was enveloped in a great India-rubber suit, expanded by air to give it the proper proportions to represent Falstaff: when just in the middle of one of the inimitable speeches of that inimitable character,[Pg 70] some wag of the stock insinuated a sharp-pointed instrument into the immense windful garment: immediately the great proportions of Falstaff began to diminish, attended by an audible hissing noise; and before the discomposed actor, overwhelmed with the laughter of the uproarious audience, could retire from the stage, he had shrunk to an insignificant one hundred and fifty pounds avoirdupois, with his deceptive covering hanging about his gaunt limbs in voluminous folds! Such persons will generally be found in possession of good moral habits—props they instinctively set up to sustain their pretenses. They know by intuition that an affectation of wisdom and greatness would be intolerable if attended by vicious propensities and practices; so they cultivate with systematic carefulness all the forms of morality and virtue. They know that their good habits will always insure the respect of even those who detect and despise their emptiness. But they are never heard to claim anything on the score of superior virtue; they demand to be known as Solons—as abridgments of all that is profound and wonderful known among men. Like the owl—that wise bird, sacred of old to Minerva—they make their pretensions respected by the most commendable propriety.

"Yorick had an invincible dislike and opposition in his nature to gravity;—not to gravity as such;—for where gravity was wanted, he would be the most grave or serious of mortal men for days and weeks together; but he was an enemy to the affectation of it, and declared open war against it, only as it appeared a cloak for ignorance, or folly: and then, whenever it fell in his way, however sheltered and protected, he seldom gave it any quarter. Sometimes, in his wild way of talking, he would say, that gravity was an errant scoundrel, and, he would add,—of the most dangerous kind too,—because a sly one; and that he verily believed, more honest, well-meaning people were bubbled out of their goods and money by it[Pg 71] in one twelvemonth, than by pocket-picking, and shoplifting in seven. In the naked temper which a merry heart discovered, he would say there was no danger,—but to itself:—whereas the very essence of gravity was design, and consequently deceit;—'twas a taught trick, to gain credit of the world for more sense and knowledge than a man was worth; and that, with all his pretensions,—it was no better, but often worse, than what a French wit had long ago defined it, viz.: A mysterious carriage of the body, to cover the defects of the mind:—which definition of gravity, Yorick, with great imprudence, would say, deserved to be wrote in letters of gold."

"Men in general," says Machiavelli, in his Prince, "judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration. Every one sees your exterior, but few can discern what you have in your heart; and those few dare not oppose the voice of the multitude."

A pretension to devoutness and asceticism was one of the fashions in Molière's time. In his play of Le Festin de Pierre, he makes Don Juan to say: "The profession of hypocrite has marvelous advantages. It is an act of which the imposture is always respected; and though it may be discovered, no one dares do anything against it. All the other vices of man are liable to censure, and every one has the liberty of boldly attacking them; but hypocrisy is a privileged vice, which with its hand closes everybody's mouth, and enjoys its repose with sovereign impunity."

The absorbing desire for wealth—"that bad thing, gold," that "buys all things good"—like ambition, "often puts men upon doing the meanest offices: so climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping." Almost every act may be a lie against the thought or motive which prompted it. The great aim of the mere money-getter—to get and get forever—involves him in[Pg 72] false pretense and practical falsehood. He advises to inveigle; he condoles and sympathizes to ruin. He talks of liberalty, and never gives. He depreciates money and the love of it, at the same time glows and dimples with the consciousness of his possessions. He calls life a humbug or muck, and proves it by a hypocritical exhibit of his gains. He puts a penny in the urn of poverty, and sees clearly how he will get a shilling out. He whines for wretchedness, forgetting the number he has made wretched. He gives to religion, and plunders her devotees. He hires an expensive pew near the pulpit, and cheats his woodsawyer and washerwoman. He builds costly churches with tall steeples, and, writing the Almighty in his list of debtors, formally bargains admission to heaven. "He falls down and worships the god of this world, but will have neither its pomps, its vanities, nor its pleasures, for his trouble. He begins to accumulate treasure as a mean to happiness, and by a common but morbid association he continues to accumulate it as an end. He lives poor to die rich, and is the mere jailer of his house, and the turnkey of his wealth. Impoverished by his gold, he slaves harder to imprison it in his chest than his brother-slave to liberate it from the mine." "Some men," says Chrysippus, in Athenæus, "apply themselves with such eagerness to the pursuit of money, that it is even related, that a man once, when near his end, swallowed a number of pieces of gold, and so died. Another person sewed a quantity of money into a tunic, and put it on, and then ordered his servants to bury him in that dress, neither burning his body, nor stripping it and laying it out." Foote, in endeavoring to express the microscopic niggardliness of a miser of his acquaintance, expressed a belief that he would be willing to take the beam out of his own eye if he knew he could sell the timber. Doubtless, one source of the miser's insane covetousness and parsimony is the tormenting fear of dying a[Pg 73] beggar—that "fine horror of poverty," according to Lamb, "by which he is not content to keep want from the door, or at arm's-length, but he places it, by heaping wealth upon wealth, at a sublime distance." ("All the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil," impatiently exclaimed Dr. Johnson, "show it to be evidently a great evil. You never find people laboring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentiful fortune. So you hear people talking how miserable a king must be; and yet they all wish to be in his place." "One asks," says La Bruyère, "if, in comparing the different conditions of men together, their sufferings and advantages, we cannot observe an equal mixture, and a like assortment of good and evil, which settles them on an equality, or at least makes one as desirable as the other: the rich and powerful man, who wants nothing, may put the question, but a poor man must answer it.") The hoarding habits of the miser remind one of a device of American boatmen, at an early day, before the steamboat was invented, and when the forest was infested with savages and robbers. Receiving specie at New Orleans for their produce, they deposited it in a wet buckskin belt, of sufficient length to surround the body, which, as it dried, contracted and shrunk round the coin, till no amount of shaking would cause it to jingle. So may the heart and soul of the avaricious man shrink round his little heap of gold, until all healthy circulation ceases, and his heart never jingles with a genuine, generous, manly impulse.

Disraeli, in his Curiosities, gives an interesting philosophical sketch of Audley,—the great Audley, as he was called in his time,—who concentrated all the powers of a vigorous intellect in the accumulation of wealth. He lived in England in the beginning of the seventeenth century, through the reigns of James I. and Charles I., and, beginning life with almost nothing, died worth four hundred thousand pounds sterling. He "lived to view his[Pg 74] mortgages, his statutes, and his judgments so numerous, that it was observed, his papers would have made a good map of England. This philosophical usurer never pressed hard for his debts; like the fowler, he never shook his nets lest he might startle, satisfied to have them, without appearing to hold them. With great fondness he compared his 'bonds to infants, which battle best by sleeping.' To battle is to be nourished, a term still retained at the University of Oxford. His familiar companions were all subordinate actors in the great piece he was performing; he too had his part in the scene. When not taken by surprise, on his table usually laid open a great Bible, with Bishop Andrews' folio Sermons, which often gave him an opportunity of railing at the covetousness of the clergy! declaring their religion was a 'mere preach,' and that 'the time would never be well till we had Queen Elizabeth's Protestants again in fashion.' He was aware of all the evils arising out of a population beyond the means of subsistence, and dreaded an inundation of man, spreading like the spawn of a cod. Hence he considered marriage, with a modern political economist, as very dangerous; bitterly censuring the clergy, whose children, he said, never thrived, and whose widows were left destitute. An apostolic life, according to Audley, required only books, meat, and drink, to be had for fifty pounds a year! Celibacy, voluntary poverty, and all the mortifications of a primitive Christian, were the virtues practiced by this Puritan among his money bags. Audley's was that worldly wisdom which derives all its strength from the weaknesses of mankind. Everything was to be obtained by stratagem, and it was his maxim, that to grasp our object the faster, we must go a little round about it. His life is said to have been one of intricacies and mysteries, using indirect means in all things; but if he walked in a labyrinth, it was to bewilder others; for the clew was still in his own hand; all he sought was that his designs[Pg 75] should not be discovered in his actions. His word, we are told, was his bond; his hour was punctual; and his opinions were compressed and weighty; but if he was true to his bond-word, it was only a part of the system to give facility to the carrying on of his trade, for he was not strict to his honor; the pride of victory, as well as the passion for acquisition, combined in the character of Audley, as in more tremendous conquerors. In the course of time he purchased a position in the 'court of wards,' which enabled him to plunder the estates of deceased persons and minors. When asked the value of this new office, he replied that 'it might be worth some thousands of pounds to him who after his death would go instantly to heaven; twice as much to him who would go to purgatory, and nobody knows what to him who would adventure to go to hell.'" What he thought of a venture to the latter place, his four hundred thousand pounds must speak.

Many and interesting as are the disguises of avarice, it is only in rank and ancestry that you find perfect complacency and assurance. "We have all heard," says Thackeray, "of the dying French duchess who viewed her coming dissolution and subsequent fate so easily, because she said she was sure that Heaven must deal politely with a person of her quality." You recollect that other duchess, in Saint-Simon, who, on the death of a sinner of illustrious race, said, "They may say what they like, but no one shall persuade me that God does not think of it twice before he damns a man of his birth." An old lady once said to De Tocqueville, "I have been reading with great satisfaction the genealogies which prove that Jesus Christ descended from David. It shows that our Lord was a gentleman." "We are somewhat ashamed in general," said Senior to De Tocqueville, "of Jewish blood; yet the Levis boast of their descent from the Hebrew Levi." "They are proud of it," answered De Tocqueville;[Pg 76] "because they make themselves out to be cousins of the blessed Virgin. They have a picture in which a Duke de Levi stands bareheaded before the Virgin. 'Pray put your hat on, cousin,' she says. 'I had rather keep it off,' he answered."

"Do we not every day meet with people," says Xavier de Maistre, "who fancy they are ill because they are unshaven, or because some one has thought they have looked poorly, and told them so? Dress has such influence upon men's minds that there are valetudinarians who think themselves in better health than usual when they have on a new coat and well powdered wig. They deceive the public and themselves by their nicety about dress, until one finds some fine morning they have died in full fig, and their death startles everybody."

Lord Eldon was fond of relating amusing anecdotes of the famous state trials of Hardy, Horne Tooke, and Thelwall, which occurred while he was attorney general. "Every evening," he said, "upon my leaving the court, a signal was given that I was coming out, for a general hissing and hooting of the attorney general. This went through the street in which the court sat, from one end of it to the other, and was continued all the way down to Ludgate Hill and by Fleet Market. One evening, at the rising of the court, I was preparing to retire, when Mr. Garrow said, 'Do not, Mr. Attorney, pass that tall man at the end of the table.' 'And why not?' said Mr. Law, who stood next. 'He has been here,' answered Mr. Garrow, 'during the whole trial, with his eyes constantly fixed on the attorney general.' 'I will pass him,' said Mr. Law. 'And so will I,' was my rejoinder. As we passed, the man drew back. When I entered my carriage, the mob rushed forward, crying, 'That's he, drag him out!' Mr. Erskine, from whose carriage the mob had taken off the horses to draw him home in triumph, stopped the people, saying, 'I will not go without the[Pg 77] attorney general!' I instantly addressed them: 'So you imagine, that if you kill me, you will be without an attorney general! Before ten o'clock to-morrow there will be a new attorney general, by no means so favorably disposed to you as I am.' I heard a friend in the crowd exclaim, 'Let him alone! let him alone!' They separated, and I proceeded. When I reached my home in Gower Street, I saw, close to my door, the tall man who stood near me in court. I had no alternative; I instantly went up to him: 'What do you want?' I said. 'Do not be alarmed,' he answered; 'I have attended in court during the whole of the trial—I know my own strength, and am resolved to stand by you. You once did an act of great kindness to my father. Thank God, you are safe at home. May He bless and protect you!' He instantly disappeared."

Rulhière told De Tocqueville a very different story, characteristic of a Russian. He was a man of high rank, who had been sent to the French head-quarters on a mission, and lived for some time on intimate terms with the staff, particularly with Rulhière. At the battle of Eylau Rulhière was taken prisoner. He caught the eye of his Russian friend, who came to offer his services. "You can do me," said Rulhière, "an important service. One of your Cossacks yonder has just seized my horse and cloak. I am dying of fatigue and cold. If you can get them for me, you may save my life." The Russian went to the Cossack, talked to him rather sharply, probably on the wickedness of robbing a prisoner; got possession of the horse and cloak; put on the one, and mounted the other, and Rulhière never saw him again.

Incledon, the singer, related to Crabb Robinson, in a stage-coach, anecdotes of Garrick and Foote, which show how completely they both lost themselves in their acting. Garrick had a brother living in the country, who was an idolatrous admirer of his genius. A rich neighbor, a[Pg 78] grocer, being about to visit London, this brother insisted on his taking a letter of introduction to the actor. Not being able to make up his mind to visit the great man the first day, the grocer went to the play in the evening, and saw Garrick in Abel Drugger. On his return to the country, the brother eagerly inquired respecting the visit he had been so anxious to bring about. "Why, Mr. Garrick," said the good man, "I am sorry to hurt your feelings, but there's your letter. I did not choose to deliver it." "Not deliver it!" exclaimed the other, in astonishment. "I happened to see him when he did not know me, and I saw that he was such a dirty, low-lived fellow, that I did not like to have anything to do with him." Foote went to Ireland, and took off a celebrated Dublin printer. The printer stood the jest for some time, but found at last that Foote's imitations became so popular, and drew such attention to himself, that he could not walk the streets without being pointed at. He bethought himself of a remedy. Collecting a number of boys, he gave them a hearty meal and a shilling each for a place in the gallery, and promised them another meal on the morrow if they would hiss off the scoundrel who turned him into ridicule. The injured man learned from his friends that Foote was received that night better than ever. Nevertheless, in the morning, the ragged troop of boys appeared to demand their recompense, and when the printer reproached them for their treachery, their spokesman said: "Plase yer honor, we did all we could, for the actor-man had heard of us, and did not come at all at all. And so we had nobody to hiss. But when we saw yer honor's own dear self come on, we did clap, indeed we did, and showed you all the respect and honor in our power. And so yer honor won't forget us because yer honor's enemy was afraid to come, and left yer honor to yer own dear self."

Immortal sermons are disguised in legends; the most[Pg 79] familiar objects are perpetually preaching to us. Ages ago, the Germans have it, there went, one Sunday morning, an old man into the forest to cut wood. When he had made a bundle, he slung it on his staff, cast it over his shoulder, and started for home. On his way he met a minister, all in his bands and robes, who asked him, "Don't you know, my friend, that it is Sunday on earth, when all must rest from their labors?" "Sunday on earth, Monday in heaven, it is all one to me," laughed the woodman. "Then bear your burden forever," said the priest; "and as you value not Sunday on earth, you shall have Monday in heaven till the great day." Thereupon the speaker vanished, and the man was caught up, with cane and fagots, into the moon, where you can see him any clear night. The Norwegians think they see both a man and woman; and the legend is, that the former threw branches at people going to church, and the latter made butter on Sunday. In the clear, cold nights of winter they will point out the man carrying his bundle of thorns, and the woman her butter-tub. In Norway, the red-crested, black woodpecker is known under the name of Gertrud's bird. Its origin, according to Thorpe, is as follows: When our Lord, accompanied by St. Peter, was wandering on earth, they came to a woman who was occupied in baking: her name was Gertrud, and on her head she wore a red hood. Weary and hungry from their long journeying, our Lord begged for a cake. She took a little dough and set it on to bake, and it grew so large that it filled the whole pan. Thinking it too much for alms, she took a smaller quantity of dough, and again began to bake, but this cake also swelled up to the same size as the first; she then took still less dough, and when the cake had become as large as the preceding ones, Gertrud said: "You must go without alms; for all my bakings are too large for you." Then was our Lord wroth, and said, "Because thou gavest me nothing, thou shalt for punishment[Pg 80] become a little bird, shalt seek thy dry food between the wood and the bark, and drink only when it rains." Hardly were these words spoken when the woman was transformed to the Gertrud bird, and flew away through the kitchen chimney; and at this day she is seen with a red hood and black body, because she was blackened by the soot of the chimney. She constantly pecks the bark of trees for sustenance, and whistles against rain; for she always thirsts and hopes to drink. According to the legend, the Wandering Jew is a poor shoemaker of Jerusalem. When Christ, bearing his cross, passed before his house, and asked his leave to repose for a moment on the stone bench at his door, the Jew replied harshly, "Go on—go on!" and refused him. "It is thou who shalt go on till the end of time!" was Christ's reply, in a sad but severe tone.

Lord Cockburn, in his Memorials, relates an anecdote of Dr. Henry, the historian, as told to him by Sir Harry Moncreiff, who was the doctor's favorite younger friend. The doctor was living at a place of his own in his native county of Stirling. He was about seventy-two, and had been for some time very feeble. He wrote to Sir Harry that he was dying, and thus invited him for the last time—"Come out here directly. I have got something to do this week, I have got to die." Sir Harry went; and found his friend plainly sinking, but resigned and cheerful. He had no children, and there was nobody with him except his wife. She and Sir Harry remained alone with him for about three days, being his last three; during a great part of which the reverend historian sat in his easy chair, and conversed, and listened to reading, and dozed. While engaged in this way, the hoofs of a horse were heard clattering in the court below. Mrs. Henry looked out and exclaimed that it was "that wearisome body," naming a neighboring minister, who was famous for never leaving a house after he had once got into it.[Pg 81] "Keep him out," cried the doctor, "don't let the crater in here." But before they could secure his exclusion, the crater's steps were heard on the stair, and he was at the door. The doctor instantly winked significantly, and signed to them to sit down and be quiet, and he would pretend to be sleeping. The hint was taken; and when the intruder entered he found the patient asleep in his cushioned chair. Sir Harry and Mrs. Henry put their fingers to their lips, and pointing to the supposed slumberer as one not to be disturbed, shook their heads. The man sat down near the door, like one inclined to wait till the nap was over. Once or twice he tried to speak; but was instantly repressed by another finger on the lip, and another shake of the head. So he sat on, all in perfect silence for about a quarter of an hour; during which Sir Harry occasionally detected the dying man peeping cautiously through the fringes of his eyelids, to see how his visitor was coming on. At last Sir Harry tired, and he and Mrs. Henry, pointing to the poor doctor, fairly waved the visitor out of the room; on which the doctor opened his eyes wide, and had a tolerably hearty laugh; which was renewed when the sound of the horse's feet made them certain that their friend was actually off the premises. Dr. Henry died that night.

Douglas Jerrold speaks of a London tradesman of great practical benevolence. It was the happiness of his temperament to recommend to the palates of babes and sucklings the homeliest, nay, the most disagreeable shapes, by the lusciousness of their material. The man made semblances of all things in sugar.

Did you ever read that remarkable paper of Lamb's, the Reminiscences of Juke Judkins, Esq., of Birmingham? It is a nice, microscopic, philosophic study and analysis of meanness,—as common, we dare say, in this world, as avarice,—and will make us wonder that ordinary gifts and traits can be so perverted and belittled[Pg 82] by debasing uses. All that is good of humanity was once united with Divinity, and made the best character that ever existed on earth. Humiliating it would be, if not impious, to imagine how much worse might be the devil if he would adopt the bestial qualities and worse than Satanic traits that men are constantly exposing and cultivating in their relations with one another. "I was always," says Juke, "my father's favorite. He took a delight, to the very last, in recounting the little sagacious tricks and innocent artifices of my childhood. One manifestation thereof I never heard him repeat without tears of joy trickling down his cheeks. It seems that when I quitted the parental roof (August 27, 1788), being then six years and not quite a month old, to proceed to the Free School at Warwick, where my father was a sort of trustee, my mother—as mothers are usually provident on these occasions—had stuffed the pocket of the coach, which was to convey me and six more children of my own growth that were going to be entered along with me at the same seminary, with a prodigious quantity of gingerbread, which I remember my father said was more than was needed; and so indeed it was; for, if I had been to eat it all myself, it would have got stale and mouldy before it had been half spent. The consideration whereof set me upon my contrivances how I might secure to myself as much of the gingerbread as would keep good for the next two or three days, and yet none of the rest in manner be wasted. I had a little pair of pocket compasses, which I usually carried about me for the purpose of making draughts and measurements, at which I was always very ingenious, of the various engines and mechanical inventions in which such a town as Birmingham abounded. By the means of these, and a small penknife which my father had given me, I cut out the one half of the cake, calculating that the remainder would reasonably serve my turn; and subdividing it into many little slices,[Pg 83] which were curious to see for the neatness and niceness of their proportion, I sold it out in so many pennyworths to my young companions as served us all the way to Warwick, which is a distance of some twenty miles from this town; and very merry, I assure you, we made ourselves with it, feasting all the way. By this honest stratagem, I put double the prime cost of the gingerbread into my purse, and secured as much as I thought would keep good and moist for my next two or three days' eating. When I told this to my parents on their first visit to me at Warwick, my father (good man) patted me on the cheek, and stroked my head, and seemed as if he could never make enough of me; but my mother unaccountably burst into tears, and said 'it was a very niggardly action,' or some such expression, and that 'she would rather it would please God to take me'—meaning, God help me, that I should die—'than that she should live to see me grow up a mean man;' which shows the difference of parent from parent, and how some mothers are more harsh and intolerant to their children than some fathers; when we might expect the contrary. My father, however, loaded me with presents from that time, which made me the envy of my school-fellows. As I felt this growing disposition in them, I naturally sought to avert it by all the means in my power; and from that time I used to eat my little packages of fruit, and other nice things, in a corner, so privately that I was never found out. Once, I remember, I had a huge apple sent me, of that sort which they call cats'-heads. I concealed this all day under my pillow; and at night, but not before I had ascertained that my bed-fellow was sound asleep,—which I did by pinching him rather smartly two or three times, which he seemed to perceive no more than a dead person, though once or twice he made a motion as he would turn, which frightened me,—I say, when I had made all sure, I fell to work upon my apple; and, though it was as[Pg 84] big as an ordinary man's two fists, I made shift to get through before it was time to get up. And a more delicious feast I never made; thinking all night what a good parent I had (I mean my father), to send me so many nice things, when the poor lad that lay by me had no parent or friend in the world to send him anything nice; and, thinking of his desolate condition, I munched and munched as silently as I could, that I might not set him a longing if he overheard me. And yet, for all this considerateness and attention to other people's feelings, I was never much a favorite with my school-fellows; which I have often wondered at, seeing that I never defrauded any one of them of the value of a half-penny, or told stories of them to their master, as some little lying boys would do, but was ready to do any of them all the services in my power that were consistent with my own well-doing. I think nobody can be expected to go further than that." Juke, in the course of time, was engaged to be married to a maiden named Cleora. Hear him relate the circumstance that broke off the engagement: "I was never," he says, "much given to theatrical entertainments; that is, at no turn of my life was I ever what they call a regular play-goer; but on some occasion of a benefit-night, which was expected to be very productive, and indeed turned out so, Cleora expressing a desire to be present, I could do no less than offer, as I did very willingly, to squire her and her mother to the pit. At that time, it was not customary in our town for trades-folk, except some of the very topping ones, to sit, as they now do, in the boxes. At the time appointed, I waited upon the ladies, who had brought with them a young man, a distant relation, whom it seems they had invited to be of the party. This a little disconcerted me, as I had about me barely silver enough to pay for our three selves at the door, and did not at first know that their relation had proposed paying for himself. However, to do the[Pg 85] young man justice, he not only paid for himself but for the old lady besides; leaving me only to pay for two, as it were. In our passage to the theatre, the notice of Cleora was attracted to some orange wenches that stood about the doors vending their commodities. She was leaning on my arm; and I could feel her every now and then giving me a nudge, as it is called, which I afterward discovered were hints that I should buy some oranges. It seems it is a custom at Birmingham, and perhaps in other places, when a gentleman treats ladies to the play,—especially when a full night is expected, and that the house will be inconveniently warm,—to provide them with this kind of fruit, oranges being esteemed for their cooling property. But how could I guess at that, never having treated ladies to a play before, and being, as I said, quite a novice in these kind of entertainments? At last, she spoke plain out, and begged that I would buy some of 'those oranges,' pointing to a particular barrow. But, when I came to examine the fruit, I did not think the quality of it was answerable to the price. In this way, I handled several baskets of them; but something in them all displeased me. Some had thin rinds, and some were plainly over-ripe, which is as great a fault as not being ripe enough; and I could not (what they call) make a bargain. While I stood haggling with the women secretly determining to put off my purchase till I should get within the theatre, where I expected we should have better choice, the young man, the cousin (who, it seems, had left us without my missing him), came running to us with his pockets stuffed out with oranges, inside and out, as they say. It seems, not liking the look of the barrow-fruit any more than myself, he had slipped away to an eminent fruiterer's, about three doors distant, which I never had the sense to think of, and had laid out a matter of two shillings in some of the best St. Michael's, I think, I ever tasted. What a little hinge, as I said before,[Pg 86] the most important affairs in life may turn upon! The mere inadvertence to the fact that there was an eminent fruiterer's within three doors of us, though we had just passed it without the thought once occurring to me, which he had taken advantage of, lost me the affection of my Cleora. From that time she visibly cooled toward me, and her partiality was as visibly transferred to this cousin. I was long unable to account for this change in her behavior; when one day, accidentally discoursing of oranges to my mother, alone, she let drop a sort of reproach to me, as if I had offended Cleora by my nearness, as she called it, that evening. Even now, when Cleora has been wedded some years to that same officious relation, as I may call him, I can hardly be persuaded that such a trifle could have been the motive to her inconstancy; for could she suppose that I would sacrifice my dearest hopes in her to the paltry sum of two shillings, when I was going to treat her to the play, and her mother too (an expense of more than four times that amount), if the young man had not interfered to pay for the latter, as I mentioned? But the caprices of the sex are past finding out; and I begin to think my mother was in the right; for doubtless women know women better than we can pretend to know them."

Juke would have made a good tradesman under the rules laid down by De Foe: "A tradesman behind his counter must have no flesh and blood about him, no passions, no resentment; he must never be angry, no, not so much as seem to be so, if a customer tumbles him five hundred pounds' worth of goods, and scarce bids money for anything; nay, though they really come to his shop with no intent to buy, as many do, only to see what is to be sold, and though he knows they cannot be better pleased than they are at some other shop where they intend to buy, 't is all one; the tradesman must take it; he must place it to the account of his calling, that 't is[Pg 87] his business to be ill-used and resent nothing. I could give you many examples, how and in what manner a shopkeeper is to behave himself in the way of business; what impertinences, what taunts, flouts, and ridiculous things he must bear in his trade; and must not show the least return, or the least signal of disgust; he must have no passions, no fire in his temper; he must be all soft and smooth; nay, if his real temper be naturally fiery and hot, he must show none of it in his shop; he must be a perfect, complete hypocrite, if he would be a complete tradesman. It is true, natural tempers are not to be always counterfeited: the man cannot easily be a lamb in his shop and a lion in himself; but, let it be easy or hard, it must be done, and is done. There are men who have by custom and usage brought themselves to it, that nothing could be meeker and milder than they when behind the counter, and yet nothing be more furious and raging in every other part of life; nay, the provocations they have met with in their shops have so irritated their rage, that they would go up-stairs from their shop, and fall into frenzies, and a kind of madness, and beat their heads against the wall, and perhaps mischief themselves, if not prevented, till the violence of it had gotten vent; and the passions abate and cool. I heard once of a shopkeeper that behaved himself thus to such an extreme that, when he was provoked by the impertinence of the customers beyond what his temper could bear, he would go up-stairs and beat his wife, kick his children about like dogs, and be as furious for two or three minutes as a man chained down in Bedlam; and again, when that heat was over, would sit down and cry faster than the children he had abused; and, after the fit, he would go down into the shop again, and be as humble, as courteous, and as calm, as any man whatever; so absolute a government of his passions had he in the shop, and so little out of it: in the shop, a soulless animal[Pg 88] that would resent nothing; and in the family, a madman: in the shop, meek like a lamb; but in the family, outrageous, like a Libyan lion. The sum of the matter is, it is necessary for a tradesman to subject himself, by all the ways possible, to his business; his customers are to be his idols: so far as he may worship idols by allowance, he is to bow down to them, and worship them; at least, he is not in any way to displease them, or show any disgust or distaste, whatever they may say or do. The bottom of all is that he is intending to get money by them; and it is not for him that gets money to offer the least inconvenience to them by whom he gets it: he is to consider that, as Solomon says, 'the borrower is servant to the lender;' so the seller is servant to the buyer."

Poor George Dyer "commenced life, after a course of hard study, in the 'House of Pure Emanuel,' as usher to a knavish, fanatic school-master, at a salary of eight pounds per annum, with board and lodging. Of this poor stipend he never received above half in all the laborious years he served this man. He tells a pleasant anecdote, that when poverty, staring out at his ragged knees, sometimes compelled him, against the modesty of his nature, to hint at arrears, the school-master would take no immediate notice; but after supper, when the school was called together to even-song, he would never fail to introduce some instructive homily against riches, and the corruption of the heart occasioned through the desire of them, ending with, 'Lord, keep thy servants, above all things, from the heinous sin of avarice. Having food and raiment, let us therewithal be content. Give me Agur's wish,'—and the like,—which, to the little auditory, sounded like a doctrine full of Christian prudence and simplicity, but to poor Dyer was a receipt in full for that quarter's demands at least."

Southey wrote to Cottle from Lisbon: "The English here unite the spirit of commerce with the frivolous[Pg 89] amusement of high life. One of them, who plays every night (Sundays are not excepted here), will tell you how closely he attends to profit. 'I never pay a porter for bringing a burden till the next day,' says he, 'for while the fellow feels his back ache with the weight, he charges high; but when he comes the next day the feeling is gone, and he asks only half the money.' And the author of this philosophical scheme is worth two hundred thousand dollars!"

"The late grand duke," said Goethe to Eckermann, "was very partial to Merck, so much so that he once became his security for a debt of four thousand dollars. Very soon Merck, to our surprise, gave him back his bond. As Merck's circumstances were not improved, we could not divine how he had been able to do this. When I saw him again, he explained the enigma thus: 'The duke,' said he, 'is an excellent, generous man, who trusts and helps men whenever he can. So I thought to myself, Now if you cozen him out of his money, that will prejudice a thousand others; for he will lose his precious trustfulness, and many unfortunate but worthy men will suffer, because one was worthless. So I made a speculation, and borrowed the money from a scoundrel, whom it will be no matter if I do cheat; but if I had not paid our good lord, the duke, it would have been a pity.'"

"The greatest pleasure I know," said Lamb, "is to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident."

[Pg 90]



At a glance, it would appear that, as a rule, all men think all men imperfect but themselves. It follows, therefore, that all would reform all but themselves. But if every man's standard of excellence could be accounted for, what a melancholy history of human frailties and follies might be had. What sad curiosities, perhaps, would be our pet virtues—offspring, alas, too often, of sated appetites, spent passions, hair-breadth escapes, and disappointed hopes. Knowing all, with what wondrous pity must God hear our poor prayers. To seek perfect virtue or contentment "is as hopeless as to try to recover a lost limb. Those only have it who never have thought about it. The moment we feel that we wish for it, we may be certain that it is gone forever." "To know how cherries and strawberries taste, you must ask the children and the birds."

"All things," says Emerson, "work exactly according to their quality, and according to their quantity; attempt nothing they cannot do, except man." He ventures "to say that what is bad is bad," and finds himself "at war with all the world." "Do not be so vain of your one objection. Do you think there is only one? Alas, my good friend, there is no part of society or of life better than any other part. All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all alike." "Probably there never was," says De Quincey, "one thought, from the foundation of the earth, that has passed through the mind of man, which did not offer some blemish, some[Pg 91] sorrowful shadow of pollution, when it came up for review before a heavenly tribunal; that is, supposing it a thought entangled at all with human interests or human passions." "All the progress which we have really made," says a writer in Blackwood, "and all the additional and fictitious progress which exists in our imagination, prompts us to the false idea that there is a remedy for everything, and that no pain is inevitable. But there are pains which are inevitable in spite of philosophy, and conflicting claims to which Solomon himself could do no justice. We are not complete syllogisms, to be kept in balance by intellectual regulations, we human creatures. We are of all things and creatures in the world the most incomplete; and there are conditions of our warfare, for the redress of which, in spite of all the expedients of social economy, every man and woman, thrown by whatever accident out of the course of nature, must be content to wait perhaps for years, perhaps for a life long, perhaps till the consummation of all things." "All the speculations and schemes of the sanguine projectors of all ages," says John Foster, "have left the world still a prey to infinite legions of vices and miseries, an immortal band, which has trampled in scorn on the monuments and the dust of the self-idolizing men who dreamed, each in his day, that they were born to chase these evils out of the earth. If these vain demi-gods of an hour, who trusted to change the world, and who perhaps wished to change it only to make it a temple to their fame, could be awaked from the unmarked graves into which they sunk, to look a little while round on the world for some traces of the success of their projects, would they not be eager to retire again into the chambers of death, to hide the shame of their remembered presumption?" "It is not given to reason," said Vauvenargues, "to cure all the vices of nature." "For a reasonable, voluntary being," says Sterling, "learning as he only can learn by experience, there will always be errors[Pg 92] behind to mourn over, and a vista of unattainable good before, which inevitably lengthens as we advance." If we only could "grieve without affectation or imbecility, and journey on without turning aside or stopping."

Leslie says, in his Recollections: "I remember seeing at Howard Payne's lodgings, at a breakfast which he gave to a large party, the then celebrated Robert Owen, who was at that time filling the papers with his scheme for remodeling society on a plan that was to transcend Utopia. I remember Payne telling me that when Wilberforce, on being urged to bring this plan before Parliament, replied that it was too late in the season, Owen exclaimed, "What, sir! put off the happiness of mankind till another session of Parliament!""

"I overheard Jove one day," said Silenus, "talking of destroying the earth; he said it had failed; they were all rogues and vixens, who went from bad to worse, as fast as the days succeeded each other. Minerva said she hoped not; they were only ridiculous little creatures, with this odd circumstance, that they had a blur, or indeterminate aspect, seen far or near; if you called them bad, they would appear so; and there was no one person or action among them which would not puzzle her owl, much more all Olympus, to know whether it was fundamentally bad or good."

"It is the conviction of the purest men, that the net amount of man and man does not much vary. Each is incomparably superior to his companion in some faculty. Each seems to have some compensation yielded to him by his infirmity, and every hinderance operates as a concentration of his force." "Everything we do has its results. But the right and prudent does not always lead to good, or contrary measures to bad; frequently the reverse takes place. Some time since," said Goethe, "I made a mistake in one of these transactions with booksellers, and was disturbed that I had done so. But, as circumstances[Pg 93] turned out, it would have been very unfortunate if I had not made that very mistake. Such instances occur frequently in life, and it is the observation of them which enables men of the world to go to work with such freedom and boldness."

"When we see a special reformer, we feel like asking him," says Emerson, "What right have you, sir, to your one virtue? Is virtue piecemeal?" "Your mode of happiness," said Coleridge, talking to such an one, "would make me miserable. To go about doing as much good as possible, to as many men as possible, is, indeed, an excellent object for a man to propose to himself; but then, in order that you may not sacrifice the real good and happiness of others to your particular views, which may be quite different from your neighbors', you must do that good to others which the reason, common to all, pronounces to be good for all." "What I object," said Sydney Smith, "to Scotch philosophers in general is, that they reason upon man as they would upon a divinity; they pursue truth without caring if it be useful truth." Michel Angelo's great picture of the Last Judgment, in the Sistine Chapel, narrowly escaped from destruction by the monastic views of Paul IV. In the commencement of his reign, we are told, he conceived a notion of reforming that picture, in which so many academical figures offended his sense of propriety. This was communicated to Michel Angelo, who desired that the pope might be told "that what he wished was very little, and might be easily effected; for if his holiness would only reform the opinions of mankind, the picture would be reformed of itself." "You must have a genius for charity as well as for anything else. As for doing good," says Thoreau, "that is one of the professions which are full. What good I do, in the common sense of that word, must be aside from my main path, and for the most part wholly unintended. Men say, practically, Begin where you are[Pg 94] and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought go about doing good. If I were to preach at all in this strain, I should say, rather, Set about being good. As if the sun should stop when he had kindled his fires up to the splendor of a moon, or a star of the sixth magnitude, and go about like a Robin Goodfellow, peeping in at every cottage window, inspiring lunatics, and tainting meats, and making darkness visible, instead of steadily increasing his genial heat and beneficence till he is of such brightness that no mortal can look him in the face, and then, and in the meanwhile too, going about the world in his own orbit, doing it good, or rather, as a truer philosophy has discovered, the world going about him, getting good. When Phaëton, wishing to prove his heavenly birth by his beneficence, had the sun's chariot but one day, and drove out of the beaten track, he burned several blocks of houses in the lower streets of heaven, and scorched the surface of the earth, and dried up every spring, and made the great Desert of Sahara, till at length Jupiter hurled him headlong to the earth with a thunderbolt, and the sun, through grief at his death, did not shine for a year."

"There is no odor so bad," continues the same defiant radical, "as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me,—some of its virus mingled with my blood. No; in this case I would rather suffer evil the natural way."

An officer of the government called one day at the White House, and introduced a clerical friend to Lincoln.[Pg 95] "Mr. President," said he, "allow me to present to you my friend, the Rev. Mr. F., of ——. Mr. F. has expressed a desire to see you and have some conversation with you, and I am happy to be the means of introducing him." The president shook hands with Mr. F., and, desiring him to be seated, took a seat himself. Then, his countenance having assumed an air of patient waiting, he said, "I am now ready to hear what you have to say." "Oh, bless you, sir," said Mr. F., "I have nothing special to say; I merely called to pay my respects to you, and, as one of the million, to assure you of my hearty sympathy and support." "My dear sir," said the president, rising promptly, his face showing instant relief, and with both hands grasping that of his visitor, "I am very glad to see you, indeed. I thought you had come to preach to me!"

"My father," said the Attic Philosopher, "feared everything that had the appearance of a lesson. He used to say that virtue could make herself devoted friends, but she did not take pupils; therefore he was not anxious to teach goodness; he contented himself with sowing the seeds of it, certain that experience would make them grow." "The disease of men," said Mencius, "is this: that they neglect their own fields, and go to weed the fields of others, and that what they require from others is great, while what they lay upon themselves is light."

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil," says Thoreau, again, "to one who is striking at the root; and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. It is the pious slave-breeder devoting the proceeds of every tenth slave to buy a Sunday's liberty for the rest.... The philanthropist too often surrounds mankind with the remembrance of his own cast-off griefs as an atmosphere, and calls it sympathy.[Pg 96] We should impart our courage, and not our despair, our health and ease, and not our disease, and take care that this does not spread by contagion.... If anything ail a man, so that he does not perform his functions, if he have a pain in his bowels even, for that is the seat of sympathy, he forthwith sets about reforming—the world. Being a microcosm himself, he discovers—and it is a true discovery, and he is the man to make it—that the world has been eating green apples; to his eyes, in fact, the globe itself is a great green apple, which there is danger awful to think of that the children of men will nibble before it is ripe; and straightway his drastic philanthropy seeks out the Esquimaux and the Patagonian, and embraces the populous Indian and Chinese villages; and thus, by a few years of philanthropic activity, the powers in the meanwhile using him for their own ends, no doubt, he cures himself of his dyspepsia, the globe acquires a faint blush on one or both of its cheeks, as if it were beginning to be ripe, and life loses its crudity and is once more sweet and wholesome to live. I never dreamed of any enormity greater than I have committed. I never knew, and never shall know, a worse man than myself.... My excuse for not lecturing against the use of tobacco is that I never chewed it; that is a penalty which reformed tobacco-chewers have to pay; though there are things enough I have chewed, which I could lecture against. If you should ever be betrayed into any of these philanthropies, do not let your left hand know what your right hand does, for it is not worth knowing. Rescue the drowning, and tie your shoe-strings. Take your time, and set about some free labor."

It has been observed that persons who are themselves very pure are sometimes on that account blunt in their moral feelings. "Right, too rigid, hardens into wrong"—even into cruelty sometimes. A friend of one of these malicious philanthropists dined with him one day, and[Pg 97] afterward related an anecdote illustrative of his character. While at the table, the children of the refining humanitarian, playing about the open door, were noisy and intractable, which caused him to speak to them impatiently. The disturbance, however, did not cease, and hearing one of the children cry out, he jumped spasmodically from the table, and demanded to know what was the matter. Upon being informed that one of them had accidentally pinched the finger of another, he immediately seized the hand of the innocent offender, and placing the forefinger at the hinge of the door, deliberately closed it—crushing the poor child's finger as a punishment. There is another equally authentic story of a reformer who hired his children to go to bed without their supper as a means of preserving their health, and then stole their money back again to pay them for the next abstinence.

"I have never known a trader in philanthropy," says Coleridge, "who was not wrong in head or heart somewhere or other. Individuals so distinguished are usually unhappy in their family relations: men not benevolent or beneficent to individuals, but almost hostile to them; yet lavishing money and labor and time on the race, the abstract notion." "This is always true of those men," says Hawthorne, in his analysis of Hollingsworth, "who have surrendered themselves to an overruling power. It does not so much impel them from without, nor even operate as a motive power from within, but grows incorporate in all they think and feel, and finally converts them into little else save that one principle. When such begins to be the predicament, it is not cowardice, but wisdom, to avoid these victims. They have no heart, no sympathy, no reason, no conscience. They will keep no friend, unless he make himself the mirror of their purpose; they will smite and slay you, and trample your dead corpse under foot, all the more readily, if you take the first step with them, and cannot take the second, and the third, and every[Pg 98] other step of their terribly straight path. They have an idol, to which they consecrate themselves high-priest, and deem it holy work to offer sacrifices of whatever is most precious; and never once seem to suspect—so cunning has the devil been with them—that this false deity, in whose iron features, immitigable to all the rest of mankind, they see only benignity and love, is but a spectrum of the very priest himself, projected upon the surrounding darkness. And the higher and purer the original object, and the more unselfishly it may have been taken up, the slighter is the probability that they can be led to recognize the process by which godlike benevolence has been debased into all-devouring egotism."

The same writer, in one of his minor productions, says, "When a good man has long devoted himself to a particular kind of beneficence, to one species of reform, he is apt to become narrowed into the limits of the path wherein he treads, and to fancy that there is no other good to be done on earth but that self-same good to which he has put his hand, and in the very mode that best suits his own conceptions. All else is worthless. His scheme must be wrought out by the united strength of the whole world's stock of love, or the world is no longer worthy of a position in the universe. Moreover, powerful Truth, being the rich grape-juice expressed from the vineyard of the ages, has an intoxicating quality when imbibed by any save a powerful intellect, and often, as it were, impels the quaffer to quarrel in his cups."

At a dinner-party one day, Madame de Staël said to Lady Mackintosh, after Godwin was gone, "I am glad to have seen this man,—it is curious to see how naturally Jacobins become the advocates of tyrants."

"I have often blamed myself," said Boswell, "for not feeling for others as sensibly as many say they do." "Sir," replied Johnson, "don't be duped by them any more. You will find these very feeling people are not very ready to do you good. They pay you by feeling."

[Pg 99]

A very large proportion of the men who during the French Revolution proved themselves most absolutely indifferent to human suffering, were deeply attached to animals. Fournier was devoted to a squirrel, Couthon to a spaniel, Panis to two gold pheasants, Chaumette to an aviary, Marat kept doves. Bacon has noticed that the Turks, who are a most cruel people, are nevertheless conspicuous for their kindness to animals, and he mentions the instance of a Christian boy who was nearly stoned to death for gagging a long-billed fowl. Abbas, the viceroy, when a boy, had his pastry-cook bastinadoed to death. Mehemet Ali mildly reproved him for it, as a European would correct a child for killing a butterfly. He explained to his little grandson that such things ought not to be done without a motive. Abbé Migne tells how one old Roman fed his oysters on his slaves; how another put a slave to death that a curious friend might see what dying was like; how Galen's mother tore and bit her waiting-women when she was in a passion with them. Caligula conferred the honor of priesthood upon his horse. "The day before the Circensian games," says Suetonius, "he used to send his soldiers to enjoin silence in the neighborhood, that the repose of the animal might not be disturbed. For this favorite, besides a marble stable, an ivory manger, purple housings, and a jeweled frontlet, he appointed a house, with a retinue of slaves, and fine furniture, for the reception of such as were invited in the horse's name to sup with him. It is even said that he intended to make him consul." In Egypt there are hospitals for superannuated cats, and the most loathsome insects are regarded with tenderness; but human life is treated as if it were of no account, and human suffering scarcely elicits a care.

Sydney Smith advised the bishop of New Zealand, previous to his departure, to have regard to the minor as well as to the more grave duties of his station—to be[Pg 100] given to hospitality, and, in order to meet the tastes of his native guests, never to be without a smoked little boy in the bacon-rack, and a cold clergyman on the sideboard. "And as for myself, my lord," he concluded, "all I can say is, that when your new parishioners do eat you, I sincerely hope you will disagree with them."

Lamb once told a droll story of an India-house clerk accused of eating man's flesh, and remarked that "among cannibals those who rejected the favorite dish would be called misanthropists."

The eternal barbarisms must not be forgotten by the reformer while he is reforming the barbarians. The pagan Frisians, that illustrious northern German tribe, afterward known as the "free Frisians," "whose name is synonymous with liberty,—nearest blood-relations of the Anglo-Saxon race,"—struggled for centuries against the dominion of the Franks, and were only eventually subjugated by Charlemagne, who left them their name of free Frisians. "The Frisians," says their statute-book, "shall be free as long as the wind blows out of the clouds and the world stands." Radbod, their chief, was first overcome by Pepin the younger, and Pepin's bastard, Charles the Hammer, with his "tremendous blows, completed his father's work;" he "drove the Frisian chief into submission, and even into Christianity. A bishop's indiscretion, however, neutralized the apostolic blows" of the Christian conqueror. "The pagan Radbod had already immersed one of his royal legs in the baptismal font, when a thought struck him. 'Where are my dead forefathers at present?' he said, turning suddenly upon Bishop Wolfran. 'In hell, with all other unbelievers,' was the imprudent answer. 'Mighty well,' replied Radbod, removing his leg, 'then will I rather feast with my ancestors in the halls of Woden, than dwell with your little starveling band of Christians in heaven.' Entreaties and threats were unavailing. The Frisian declined positively a rite which[Pg 101] was to cause an eternal separation from his buried kindred, and he died as he had lived, a heathen."

Tomochichi, chief of the Chickasaws, said to Wesley, "I will go up and speak to the wise men of the nation, and I hope they will hear. But we would not be made Christians as the Spaniards make Christians; we would be taught before we are baptised." He felt the want unconsciously acknowledged by the King of Siam, spoken of by John Locke in his chapter on Probability. A Dutch ambassador, when entertaining the king with the peculiarities of Holland, amongst other things told the sovereign that the water in Holland would sometimes in cold weather be so hard that men walked upon it, and that it would bear an elephant if he were there. To which the king replied, "Hitherto I have believed the strange things you have told me, because I looked upon you as a sober, fair man, but now I am sure you lie." But Tomochichi had an eye that saw the faults of the colonists, if he did not understand their religion. When urged to listen to the doctrines of Christianity he keenly replied, "Why, these are Christians at Savannah! these are Christians at Frederica! Christian much drunk! Christian beat men! Christian tell lies! Devil Christian! Me no Christian!" This recalls the pathetic story of the West Indian cazique, who, at the stake, refused life, temporal or eternal, at the price of conversion, asking where he should go to live so happily. He was told—in heaven; and then he at once refused, on the ground that the whites would be there; and he had rather live anywhere, or nowhere, than dwell with such people as he had found the white Christians to be. Almost the first word, says Dr. Medhurst, uttered by a Chinese, when anything is said concerning the excellence of Christianity, is, "Why do Christians bring us opium, and bring it directly in defiance of our laws? The vile drug has destroyed my son, has ruined my brother, and well-nigh led me to beggar my wife and children. Surely[Pg 102] those who import such a deleterious substance, and injure me for the sake of gain, cannot wish me well, or be in possession of a religion better than my own. Go first and persuade your own countrymen to relinquish their nefarious traffic; and give me a prescription to correct this vile habit, and then I will listen to your exhortations on the subject of Christianity!" Dr. Livingstone says he found a tribe of men in the interior of Africa so pure and simple that they seemed to have no idea of untruthfulness and dishonesty until they were brought into contact with Asiatics and Europeans. Some of Dr. Kane's men, "while resting at Kalutunah's tent, had appropriated certain fox-skins, boots, and sledges, which their condition seemed to require. The Esquimaux complained of the theft, and Dr. Kane, after a careful inquiry into the case, decided in their favor. He gave each five needles, a file, and a stick of wood, and knives and other extras to Kalutunah and Shanghu, and after regaling them with a hearty supper, he returned the stolen goods, and tried to make them believe that his people did not steal, but only took the articles to save their lives! In imitation of this Arctic morality the natives, on their departure, carried off a few knives and forks, which they deemed as essential to their happiness as the fox-dresses were to the white men."

Among the airy visions which had been generated in the teeming brain of Coleridge, says a writer in The London Quarterly, was the project of pantisocracy—a republic to be founded in the wilds of America, of which the fundamental principles were an equality of rank and property, and where all who composed it were to be under the perpetual dominion of reason, virtue, and love. Southey was inflamed by it and converted. Through it he saw a way out of all his troubles. There he would enjoy the felicity of living in a pure democracy, where he could sit unelbowed by kings and aristocrats. "You," he wrote to his brother Tom, "are unpleasantly situated,[Pg 103] so is my mother, so were we all till this grand scheme of pantisocracy flashed upon our minds, and now all is perfectly delightful." Coleridge, contented to have delivered a glowing description of Utopia, did nothing further, and departed on a pedestrian tour through Wales, where, as the ridiculous will sometimes mingle itself with the sublime, he feared he had caught the itch from an admiring democratical auditor at an inn, who insisted upon shaking hands with him. Some time after, Southey, having tried his panacea upon a few select pantisocratic friends, wrote, "There was a time when I believed in the persuadability of man, and had the mania of man-mending. Experience has taught me better. The ablest physician can do little in the great lazar-house of society. He acts the wisest part who retires from the contagion."

"Nature goes her own way," said Goethe, "and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order." He quoted the saying of Rousseau, that you cannot hinder an earthquake by building a city near a burning mountain. Peter the Great, he said, repeated Amsterdam so dear to his youth, in locating St. Petersburg at the mouth of the Neva. The ground rises in the neighborhood, and the emperor could have had a city quite free from all the trouble arising from overflow if he had but gone a little higher up. An old shipmaster represented this to him, and prophesied that the people would be drowned every seventy years. There stood also an old tree, with various marks from times when the waters had risen to a great height. But all was in vain; the emperor stood to his whim, and had the tree cut down, that it might not be witness against him! Sydney Smith said of a certain fanatical member of Parliament, that "he was losing his head. When he brings forward his Suckling Act, he will be considered as quite mad. No woman to be allowed to suckle her own child without medical certificates. Three classes, viz., free-sucklers, half-sucklers,[Pg 104] and spoon-meat mothers. Mothers, whose supply is uncertain, to suckle upon affidavit! How is it possible that an act of Parliament can supply the place of nature and natural affection?"

"There is in nature," said Goethe to Soret, "an accessible and an inaccessible. Be careful to discriminate between the two, be circumspect, and proceed with reverence." "The sight of a primitive phenomenon," he said to Eckermann, "is generally not enough for people; they think they must go still further; and are thus like children who, after peeping into a mirror, turn it round directly to see what is on the other side." "When one," said he on another occasion, "has looked about him in the world long enough to see how the most judicious enterprises frequently fail, and the most absurd have the good fortune to succeed, he becomes disinclined to give any one advice. At bottom, he who asks advice shows himself limited; he who gives it gives also proof that he is presumptuous. If any one asks me for good advice, I say, I will give it, but only on condition that you will promise not to take it.... Much is said of aristocracy and democracy; but the whole affair is simply this: in youth, when we either possess nothing, or know not how to value the tranquil possession of anything, we are democrats; but when we, in a long life, have come to possess something of our own, we wish not only ourselves to be secure of it, but that our children and grandchildren should be secure of inheriting it. Therefore, we always lean to aristocracy in our old age, whatever were our opinions in youth."

Lord Eldon said in his old age, "that, if he were to begin life again, he would be damned but he would begin as agitator." "I am no more ashamed of having been a republican," said Southey, "than I am of having been a child." Barère, who said that "the tree of liberty cannot flourish unless it is watered by the blood of kings and[Pg 105] aristocrats"—who proposed the famous decree for the annihilation of Lyons—devoted a great part of his later life to declaiming on the necessity of entirely abolishing capital punishments.

Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer, being asked, "What is a communist?" answered, "One who has yearnings for equal division of unequal earnings. Idler or bungler, he is willing to fork out his penny and pocket your shilling."

"Sir," said Johnson, "your levelers wish to level down as far as themselves; but they cannot bear leveling up to themselves. They would all have some people under them; why not then have some people above them?"

Margaret Fuller, speaking of the greatest of German poets, says, "He believes more in man than men, effort than success, thought than action, nature than providence. He does not insist on my believing with him."

"He who would help himself and others," says Emerson, "should not be a subject of irregular and interrupted impulses of virtue, but a continent, persisting, immovable person,—such as we have seen a few scattered up and down in time for the blessing of the world; men who have in the gravity of their nature a quality which answers to the fly-wheel in a mill, which distributes the motion equally over all the wheels, and hinders it from falling unequally and suddenly in destructive shocks. It is better that joy should be spread over all the day in the form of strength, than that it should be concentrated into ecstasies, full of danger, and followed by reactions." "It only needs that a just man should walk in our streets, to make it appear how pitiful and inartificial a contrivance is our legislation. The man whose part is taken, and who does not wait for society in anything, has a power which society cannot choose but feel."

What a character was Sir Isaac Newton! He is described as modest, candid, and affable, and without any of the eccentricities of genius, suiting himself to every[Pg 106] company, and speaking of himself and others in such a manner that he was never even suspected of vanity. "But this," says Dr. Pemberton, "I immediately discovered in him, which at once both surprised and charmed me. Neither his extreme great age, nor his universal reputation, had rendered him stiff in opinion, or in any degree elated." His modesty arose from the depth and extent of his knowledge, which showed him what a small portion of nature he had been able to examine, and how much remained to be explored in the same field in which he had himself labored. In a letter to Leibnitz, 1675, he observes, "I was so persecuted with discussions arising out of my theory of light, that I blamed my own imprudence for parting with so substantial a blessing as my quiet, to run after a shadow." Nearly a year after his complaint to Leibnitz, he uses the following remarkable expression in a communication to Oldenburg: "I see I have made myself a slave to philosophy; but if I get free of Mr. Linus's business, I will resolutely bid adieu to it eternally, excepting what I do for my private satisfaction, or leave to come out after me; for I see a man must either resolve to put out nothing new, or to become a slave to defend it." His assistant and amanuensis for five years (Humphrey Newton) never heard him laugh but once in all that time: "'Twas upon occasion of asking a friend, to whom he had lent Euclid to read, what progress he had made in that author, and how he liked him. He answered by desiring to know what use and benefit in life that study would be to him. Upon which Sir Isaac was very merry." He was once disordered with pains, at the stomach, which confined him for some days to his bed, but which he bore with a great deal of patience and magnanimity, seemingly indifferent either to live or to die. "He seeing me," said his assistant, "much concerned at his illness, bid me not trouble myself; 'For if I die,' said Sir Isaac, 'I shall leave you[Pg 107] an estate,' which he then for the first time mentioned." Says Bishop Atterbury, "In the whole air of his face and make there was nothing of that penetrating sagacity which appears in his compositions. He had something rather languid in his look and manner, which did not raise any great expectations in those who did not know him." When Pope expressed a wish for "some memoirs and character of Newton, as a private man," he did "not doubt that his life and manners would make as great a discovery of virtue and goodness and rectitude of heart, as his works have done of penetration and the utmost stretch of human knowledge." When Vigani told him "a loose story about a nun," he gave up his acquaintance; and when Dr. Halley ventured to say anything disrespectful to religion, he invariably checked him with the remark, "I have studied these things,—you have not." When he was asked to take snuff or tobacco, he declined, remarking "that he would make no necessities to himself." Bishop Burnet said that he "valued him for something still more valuable than all his philosophy,—for having the whitest soul he ever knew."

Slowly and modestly the great in all things is developed. "Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small." Look at the Netherlands. "Three great rivers—the Rhine, the Meuse, and the Scheldt—had deposited their slime for ages among the dunes and sand-banks heaved up by the ocean around their mouths. A delta was thus formed, habitable at last for man. It was by nature a wide morass, in which oozy islands and savage forests were interspersed among lagoons and shallows; a district lying partly below the level of the ocean at its higher tides, subject to constant overflow from the rivers, and to frequent and terrible inundations by the sea. Here, within a half submerged territory, a race of wretched ichthyophagi dwelt upon mounds, which they had raised, like beavers, above the[Pg 108] almost fluid soil. Here, at a later day, the same race chained the tyrant Ocean and his mighty streams into subserviency, forcing them to fertilize, to render commodious, to cover with a beneficent net-work of veins and arteries, and to bind by watery highways, with the farthest ends of the world, a country disinherited by nature of its rights. A region outcast of ocean and earth wrested at last from both domains their richest treasures. A race engaged for generations in stubborn conflict with the angry elements was unconsciously educating itself for its great struggle with the still more savage despotism of man."

In the central part of a range of the Andes, at an elevation of about seven thousand feet, on a bare slope, may be observed some snow-white projecting columns. These are petrified trees, eleven being silicified, and from thirty to forty converted into coarsely crystallized white calcaraeous spar. They are abruptly broken off, the upright stumps projecting a few feet above the ground. The trunks measured from three to five feet each in circumference. They stood a little way apart from each other, but the whole formed one group. The volcanic sandstone in which the trees were imbedded, and from the lower part of which they must have sprung, had accumulated in successive thin layers around their trunks, and the stone yet retained the impression of the bark. "It required," says the eminent scientific man who visited the spot in 1835, "little geological practice to interpret the marvelous story which this scene at once unfolded. I saw the spot where a cluster of fine trees once reared their branches on the shores of the Atlantic, when that ocean, now driven back seven hundred miles, came to the foot of the Andes. I saw that they had sprung from a volcanic soil which had been raised above the level of the sea, and that subsequently this dry land, with its upright trees, had been let down into the depths of the ocean. In[Pg 109] these depths, the formerly dry land was covered by sedimentary beds, and these again by enormous streams of submarine lava—one such mass attaining the thickness of a thousand feet; and these deluges of molten stone and aqueous deposits five times alternately had been spread out. The ocean which received such thick masses must have been profoundly deep; but again the subterranean forces exerted themselves, and I now beheld the bed of that ocean, forming a chain of mountains more than seven thousand feet in height. Nor had those antagonist forces been dormant which are always at work, wearing down the surface of the land; the great piles of strata had been intersected by many wide valleys, and the trees, now changed into silex, were exposed projecting from the volcanic soil, now changed into rocks, whence formerly, in a green and budding state, they had raised their lofty heads."

"The world," said Goethe, "is not so framed that it can keep quiet; the great are not so that they will not permit misuse of power; the masses not so that, in hope of a gradual amelioration, they will keep tranquil in an inferior condition. Could we perfect human nature, we might expect perfection everywhere; but as it is, there will always be this wavering hither and thither; one part must suffer while the other is at ease." "It is with human things," says Froude, "as it is with the great icebergs which drift southward out of the frozen seas. They swim two thirds under water, and one third above; and so long as the equilibrium is sustained you would think that they were as stable as the rocks. But the sea water is warmer than the air. Hundreds of fathoms down, the tepid current washes the base of the berg. Silently in those far deeps the centre of gravity is changed; and then, in a moment, with one vast roll, the enormous mass heaves over, and the crystal peaks which had been glancing so proudly in the sunlight are buried in the[Pg 110] ocean forever." "The secret which you would fain keep, as soon as you go abroad, lo! there is one standing on the door-step to tell you the same." The revolution is all at once ripe, and the bottom is at the top again. Nobody and everybody is responsible. "It is seldom," says John Galt, in his life of Wolsey, "that any man can sway the current of national affairs; but a wide and earnest system of action never fails to produce results which resemble the preëxpected effects of particular designs." At the gorgeous coronation of Napoleon, some one asked the republican general Augereau whether anything was wanting to the splendor of the scene. "Nothing," replied Augereau, "but the presence of the million of men who have died to do away with all this."

You remember the value, to the cause of civil liberty and Christianity, of the accidental epithet of "beggars," applied to the three hundred nobles who petitioned Margaret of Parma for a stay of the edicts of Philip and the Inquisition, about to be terribly executed upon the rebellious Protestants under the leadership of William of Orange. Motley, in his Dutch Republic, gives a vivid account of it. The duchess was agitated and irritated by the petition. "The Prince of Orange addressed a few words to the duchess, with the view of calming her irritation. He observed that the confederates were no seditious rebels, but loyal gentlemen, well-born, well-connected, and of honorable character. They had been influenced, he said, by an honest desire to save their country from impending danger,—not by avarice or ambition. 'What, madam,' cried Berlaymont in a passion, 'is it possible that your highness can entertain fears of these beggars? Is it not obvious what manner of men they are? They have not had wisdom enough to manage their own estates, and are they now to teach the king and your highness how to govern the country? By the living God, if my advice were taken, their petition should have[Pg 111] a cudgel for a commentary, and we would make them go down the steps of the palace a great deal faster than they mounted them!' Afterward, as the three hundred gentlemen and nobles passed by the house of Berlaymont, that nobleman, standing at his window in company with Count Aremberg, repeated his jest: 'There go our fine beggars again. Look, I pray you, with what bravado they are passing before us!' 'They call us beggars,' said Brederode to the three hundred banqueting with him in the Calemburg mansion on that famous April night. 'Let us accept the name. We will contend with the Inquisition, but remain loyal to the king, even till compelled to wear the beggar's sack.' He then beckoned to one of his pages, who brought him a leathern wallet, such as was worn at that day by professional mendicants, together with a large wooden bowl, which also formed part of their regular appurtenances. Brederode immediately hung the wallet around his neck, filled the bowl with wine, lifted it with both hands, and drained it at a draught. 'Long live the beggars!' he cried, as he wiped his beard and set the bowl down. 'Long live the beggars!' Then for the first time from the lips of those reckless nobles rose the famous cry, which was so often to ring over land and sea, amid blazing cities, on blood-stained decks, through the smoke and carnage of many a stricken field. The humor of Brederode was hailed with deafening shouts of applause. The count then threw the wallet round the neck of his nearest neighbor, and handed him the wooden bowl. Each guest, in turn, donned the mendicant's knapsack. Pushing aside his golden goblet, each filled the beggar's bowl to the brim, and drained it to the beggars' health. Roars of laughter and shouts of 'Long live the beggars!' shook the walls of the stately mansion, as they were doomed never to shake again. The shibboleth was invented. The conjuration which they had been anxiously seeking was found. Their enemies had[Pg 112] provided them with a spell which was to prove, in after days, potent enough to start a spirit from palace or hovel, forest or wave, as the deeds of the 'wild beggars,' the 'wood beggars,' and the 'beggars of the sea' taught Philip at last to understand the nation which he had driven to madness."

Johnny Appleseed, by which name Jonathan Chapman was known in every log-cabin from the Ohio River to the Northern Lakes, is an interesting character to remember. Barefooted, and with scanty clothing, he traversed the wilderness for many years, planting appleseeds in the most favorable situations. His self sacrificing life made him a favorite with the frontier settlers—men, women, and especially children; even the savages treated him with kindness, and the rattlesnakes, it was said, hesitated to bite him. "During the war of 1812, when the frontier settlers were tortured and slaughtered by the savage allies of Great Britain, Johnny Appleseed continued his wanderings, and was never harmed by the roving bands of hostile Indians. On many occasions the impunity with which he ranged the country enabled him to give the settlers warning of approaching danger, in time to allow them to take refuge in their block-houses before the savages could attack them. An informant refers to one of these instances, when the news of Hull's surrender came like a thunderbolt upon the frontier. Large bands of Indians and British were destroying everything before them, and murdering defenseless women and children, and even the block-houses were not always a sufficient protection. At this time Johnny traveled day and night, warning the people of the impending danger. He visited every cabin and delivered this message: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and He hath anointed me to blow the trumpet in the wilderness, and sound an alarm in the forest; for behold, the tribes of the heathen are round about your doors, and a devouring flame followeth after them!' The[Pg 113] aged man who narrated this incident said that he could feel even then the thrill that was caused by this prophetic announcement of the wild-looking herald of danger, who aroused the family on a bright moonlight midnight with his piercing cry. Refusing all offers of food, and denying himself a moment's rest, he traversed the border day and night until he had warned every settler of the impending peril. Johnny also served as colporteur, systematically leaving with the settlers chapters of certain religious books, and calling for them afterward; and was the first to engage in the work of protecting dumb brutes. He believed it to be a sin to kill any creature for food. No Brahman could be more concerned for the preservation of insect life, and the only occasion on which he destroyed a venomous reptile was a source of long regret, to which he could never refer without manifesting sadness. He had selected a suitable place for planting appleseeds on a small prairie, and in order to prepare the ground, he was mowing the long grass, when he was bitten by a rattlesnake. In describing the event he sighed heavily, and said, 'Poor fellow, he only just touched me, when I, in the heat of my ungodly passion, put the heel of my scythe in him, and went away. Some time afterward I went back, and there lay the poor fellow, dead!'" "He was a man, after all,"—Hawthorne might have exclaimed of him, too,—"his Maker's own truest image, a philanthropic man!—not that steel engine of the devil's contrivance—a philanthropist!"

John Brown, when he was twelve years old, from seeing a negro slave of his own age cruelly beaten, began to hate slavery and love the slaves so intensely as "sometimes to raise the question, Is God their Father?" At forty, "he conceived the idea of becoming a liberator of the Southern slaves;" at the same time "determined to let them know that they had friends, and prepared himself to lead them to liberty. From the moment that he[Pg 114] formed this resolution, he engaged in no business which he could not, without loss to his friends and family, wind up in fourteen days." His favorite texts of Scripture were, "Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them;" "Whoso stoppeth his ear at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard;" "Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker, and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished;" "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it." His favorite hymns were, "Blow ye the trumpet, blow!" and "Why should we start and fear to die?" "I asked him," said a child, "how he felt when he left the eleven slaves, taken from Missouri, safe in Canada? His answer was, 'Lord, permit now thy servant to die in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. I could not brook the idea that any ill should befall them, or they be taken back to slavery. The arm of Jehovah protected us.'" "Upon one occasion, when one of the ex-governors of Kansas said to him that he was a marked man, and that the Missourians were determined, sooner or later, to take his scalp, the old man straightened himself up, with a glance of enthusiasm and defiance in his gray eye. 'Sir,' said he, 'the angel of the Lord will camp round about me.'" On leaving his family the first time he went to Kansas, he said, "If it is so painful for us to part, with the hope of meeting again, how dreadful must be the separation for life of hundreds of poor slaves." "He deliberately determined, twenty years before his attack upon Harper's Ferry," says Higginson, "that at some future period he would organize an armed party, go into a slave State, and liberate a large number of slaves. Soon after, surveying professionally in the mountains of Virginia, he chose the very ground for the purpose. He said 'God had established the Alleghany Mountains from the foundation of the world that they might one day be a refuge for fugitive[Pg 115] slaves. Visiting Europe afterward, he studied military strategy for this purpose, even making designs for a new style of forest fortifications, simple and ingenious, to be used by parties of fugitive slaves when brought to bay. He knew the ground, he knew his plans, he knew himself; but where should he find his men? Such men as he needed are not to be found ordinarily; they must be reared. John Brown did not merely look for men, therefore; he reared them in his sons. Mrs. Brown had been always the sharer of his plans. 'Her husband always believed,' she said, 'that he was to be an instrument in the hands of Providence, and she believed it too.' 'This plan had occupied his thoughts and prayers for twenty years.' 'Many a night he had lain awake and prayed concerning it.'" "He believed in human brotherhood, and in the God of Battles; he admired Nat Turner, the negro patriot, equally with George Washington, the white American deliverer." "He secretly despised even the ablest antislavery orators. He could see 'no use in this talking,' he said. 'Talk is a national institution; but it does no manner of good to the slave.'" The year before his attack, he uttered these sentences in conversation: "Nat Turner, with fifty men, held Virginia five weeks. The same number, well organized and armed, can shake the system out of the State." "Give a slave a pike, and you make him a man. Deprive him of the means of resistance, and you keep him down." "The land belongs to the bondsman. He has enriched it, and been robbed of its fruits." "Any resistance, however bloody, is better than the system which makes every seventh woman a concubine." "A few men in the right, and knowing they are, can overturn a king. Twenty men in the Alleghanies could break slavery to pieces in two years." "When the bondsmen stand like men, the nation will respect them. It is necessary to teach them this." About the same time he said, in another conversation,[Pg 116] "that it was nothing to die in a good cause, but an eternal disgrace to sit still in the presence of the barbarities of American slavery." "Providence," said he, "has made me an actor, and slavery an outlaw." "Duty is the voice of God, and a man is neither worthy of a good home here, or a heaven, that is not willing to be in peril for a good cause." He scouted the idea of rest while he held "a commission direct from God Almighty to act against slavery." After his capture, and while he lay in blood upon the floor of the guard-house, he was asked by a bystander upon what principle he justified his acts? "Upon the Golden Rule," he answered. "I pity the poor in bondage that have none to help them. That is why I am here; it is not to gratify any personal animosity, or feeling of revenge, or vindictive spirit. It is my sympathy with the oppressed and the wronged, that are as good as you, and as precious in the sight of God. I want you to understand, gentlemen, that I respect the rights of the poorest and weakest of the colored people, oppressed by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that alone. We expected no reward except the satisfaction of endeavoring to do for those in distress—the greatly oppressed—as we would be done by. The cry of distress, of the oppressed, is my reason, and the only thing that prompted me to come here. I wish to say, furthermore, that you had better, all you people of the South, prepare yourselves for a settlement of this question. It must come up for settlement sooner than you are prepared for it, and the sooner you commence that preparation, the better for you. You may dispose of me very easily. I am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to be settled—this negro question, I mean. The end of that is not yet." In his "last speech," before sentence was passed upon him, he said, "This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of[Pg 117] the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or, at least, the New Testament. That teaches me that all things 'whatsoever I would that men should do unto me I should do even so to them.' It teaches me further, to 'remember them that are in bonds as bound with them.' I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfered as I have done, as I have always freely admitted I have done, in behalf of his despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children, and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments—I submit: so let it be done." In a postscript to a letter to a half-brother, written in prison, he said, "Say to my poor boys never to grieve for one moment on my account; and should any of you live to see the time when you will not blush to own your relation to old John Brown, it will not be more strange than many things that have happened." In a letter to his old school-master, he said, "I have enjoyed much of life, as I was enabled to discover the secret of this somewhat early. It has been in making the prosperity and happiness of others my own; so that really I have had a great deal of prosperity." To another he wrote, "I commend my poor family to the kind remembrance of all friends, but I well understand that they are not the only poor in our world. I ought to begin to leave off saying our world." In his last letter to his family, he said, "I am waiting the hour of my public murder with great composure of mind and cheerfulness, feeling the strong assurance that in no other possible way could I be used to so much advantage to the cause of God and of humanity, and that nothing that I or all my family[Pg 118] have sacrificed or suffered will be lost. Do not feel ashamed on my account, nor for one moment despair of the cause, or grow weary of well-doing. I bless God I never felt stronger confidence in the certain and near approach of a bright morning and glorious day than I have felt, and do now feel, since my confinement here." In a previous letter to his family, he said, "Never forget the poor, nor think anything you bestow on them to be lost to you, even though they may be as black as Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian eunuch, who cared for Jeremiah in the pit of the dungeon, or as black as the one to whom Philip preached Christ. 'Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them.'" As he stepped out of the jail-door, on his way to the gallows, "a black woman, with a little child in her arms, stood near his way. The twain were of the despised race for whose emancipation and elevation to the dignity of the children of God he was about to lay down his life. His thoughts at that moment none can know except as his acts interpret them. He stopped for a moment in his course, stooped over, and with the tenderness of one whose love is as broad as the brotherhood of man, kissed it affectionately. As he came upon an eminence near the gallows, he cast his eye over the beautiful landscape, and followed the windings of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. He looked up earnestly at the sun, and sky, and all about, and then remarked, 'This is a beautiful country. I have not cast my eyes over it before.'" "You are more cheerful than I am, Captain Brown," said the undertaker, who sat with him in the wagon. "Yes," answered the old man, "I ought to be." "'Gentlemen, good-by,' he said to two acquaintances, as he passed from the wagon to the scaffold, which he was first to mount. As he quietly awaited the necessary arrangements, he surveyed the scenery unmoved, looking principally in the direction of the people, in the far distance. 'There is no faltering in his step,[Pg 119] wrote one who saw him, 'but firmly and erect he stands amid the almost breathless lines of soldiery that surround him. With a graceful motion of his pinioned right arm he takes the slouched hat from his head and carelessly casts it upon the platform by his side. His elbows and ankles are pinioned, the white cap is drawn over his eyes, the hangman's rope is adjusted around his neck.' 'Captain Brown,' said the sheriff, 'you are not standing on the drop. Will you come forward?' 'I can't see you, gentlemen,' was the old man's answer, unfalteringly spoken; 'you must lead me.' The sheriff led his prisoner forward to the centre of the drop. 'Shall I give you a handkerchief,' he then asked, 'and let you drop it as a signal?' 'No; I am ready at any time; but do not keep me needlessly waiting.'"

"Give the corpse a good dose of arsenic, and make sure work of it!" exclaimed a captain of Virginia militia.

"The saint, whose martyrdom will make the gallows glorious like the cross!" exclaimed the Massachusetts sage and seer.

Froude's reflections upon the death of John Davis, the navigator, one of England's Forgotten Worthies, may well be applied to John Brown: "A melancholy end for such a man—the end of a warrior, not dying Epaminondas-like on the field of victory, but cut off in a poor brawl or ambuscade. Life with him was no summer holiday, but a holy sacrifice offered up to duty, and what his Master sent was welcome." It was "hard, rough, and thorny, trodden with bleeding feet and aching brow; the life of which the cross is the symbol; a battle which no peace follows, this side the grave; which the grave gapes to finish, before the victory is won; and—strange that it should be so—this is the highest life of man. Look back along the great names of history; there is none whose life has been other than this. They to whom it has been given to do the really highest work in this earth,[Pg 120] whoever they are, Jew or Gentile, Pagan or Christian, warriors, legislators, philosophers, priests, poets, kings, slaves—one and all, their fate has been the same: the same bitter cup has been given to them to drink."

"Whether on the scaffold high,
Or in the battle's van,
The fittest place where man can die
Is where he dies for man."

[Pg 121]



The Bishop of Llandaff was standing in the House of Lords, in company with Lords Thurlow and Loughborough, when Lord Southampton accosted him: "I want your advice, my lord; how am I to bring up my son so as to make him get forward in the world?" "I know of but one way," replied the bishop; "give him parts and poverty." Poussin, being shown a picture by a person of rank, remarked, "You only want a little poverty, sir, to make you a good painter."

"The advantage of riches remains with him who procured them, not with the heir." Yet, says Froude, "The man who with no labor of his own has inherited a fortune, ranks higher in the world's esteem than his father who made it. We take rank by descent. Such of us as have the longest pedigree, and are therefore the farthest removed from the first who made the fortune and founded the family, we are the noblest. The nearer to the fountain, the fouler the stream; and that first ancestor, who has soiled his fingers by labor, is no better than a parvenu."

Labor, curse though we call it, as things are, seems to be life's greatest blessing. "There is more fatigue," says Tom Brown, "and trouble in a lady than in the most laborious life; who would not rather drive a wheelbarrow with nuts about the streets, or cry brooms, than be Arsennus?" (a fine gentleman). When Sir Horace Vere died, it was asked what had occasioned his death; to which some one replied, "By doing nothing." "Too[Pg 122] much idleness," said Burke, "fills up a man's time much more completely, and leaves him less his own master than any sort of employment whatsoever." What to do? how to do? become distressing questions to him, and he finds himself in as great extremity as the man in the story of the Persian poet: "I saw," says Saadi, "an Arab sitting in a circle of jewelers of Básráh, and relating as follows: 'Once on a time having missed my way in the desert, and having no provisions left, I gave myself up for lost; when I happened to find a bag full of pearls. I shall never forget the relish and delight that I felt on supposing it to be fried wheat; nor the bitterness and despair which I suffered on discovering that the bag contained pearls.'"

In the executive chamber one evening, there were present a number of gentlemen, among them Mr. Seward. A point in the conversation suggesting the thought, the president said, "Seward, you never heard, did you, how I earned my first dollar?" "No," rejoined Mr. Seward. "Well," continued Lincoln, "I was about eighteen years of age; I belonged, you know, to what they call down South the 'scrubs;' people who do not own slaves are nobody there. But we had succeeded in raising, chiefly by my labor, sufficient produce, as I thought, to justify me in taking it down the river to sell. After much persuasion, I got the consent of mother to go, and constructed a little flat-boat, large enough to take a barrel or two of things that we had gathered, with myself and little bundle, down to New Orleans. A steamer was coming down the river. We have, you know, no wharves on the Western streams; and the custom was, if passengers were at any of the landings, for them to go out in a boat, the steamer stopping and taking them on board. I was contemplating my new flat-boat, wondering whether I could make it stronger or improve it in any particular, when two men came down to the shore in carriages, with trunks, and looking at the different boats, singled out[Pg 123] mine, and asked, 'Who owns this?' I answered, somewhat modestly, 'I do.' 'Will you,' said one of them, 'take us and our trunks out to the steamer?' 'Certainly,' said I. I was very glad to have the chance of earning something. I supposed that each of them would give me two or three bits. The trunks were put on my flat-boat, the passengers seated themselves on the trunks, and I sculled them out to the steamboat. They got on board, and I lifted up their heavy trunks, and put them on deck. The steamer was about to put on steam again, when I called out that they had forgotten to pay me. Each of them took from his pocket a silver half-dollar, and threw it on the floor of my boat. I could scarcely believe my eyes as I picked up the money. Gentlemen, you may think it was a very little thing, and in these days it seems to me a trifle; but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day,—that by honest work I had earned a dollar. The world seemed wider and fairer before me. I was a more hopeful and confident being from that time."

Only such persons interest us, it has been said, who have stood in the jaws of need, and have by their own wit and might extricated themselves, and made man victorious. Young and old, all of us, have been intensely interested in knowing what Robinson Crusoe was to do with his few small means. Wonderful Robert Burns! "While his youthful mother was still on the straw, the miserable clay cottage fell above her and the infant bard, who both narrowly escaped, first being smothered to death, and then of being starved by cold, as they were conveyed through frost and snow by night to another dwelling." While he was yet a child, the poverty of the family increased to wretchedness. The "cattle died, or were lost by accident; the crops failed, and debts were accumulating. To these buffetings of misfortune the[Pg 124] family could oppose only hard labor and the most rigid economy. They lived so sparingly that butcher-meat was a stranger in their dwelling for years." "The farm proved a ruinous bargain," said the poet; "and to clinch the misfortune, we fell into the hands of a factor, who sat for the picture I have drawn of one in my tale of Twa Dogs. My indignation yet boils at the recollection of the scoundrel factor's insolent letters, which used to set us all in tears. This kind of life—the cheerless gloom of a hermit, with the unceasing moil of a galley-slave—brought me to my sixteenth year; a little before which period I first committed the sin of rhyme.... My passions, when once lighted up, raged like so many devils, till they got vent in rhyme; and then the conning over my verses, like a spell, soothed all into quiet."

Edmund Kean's early life was very wretched. It was after his marriage that we find him "strolling in the old misery, giving an entertainment at Dumfries to pay his lodging. One six-penny auditor alone came." (Once, we are told, he absented himself from his home in Exeter for three days. To the question of where he had been, he replied, grandiloquently, "I have been doing a noble action; I have been drinking these three days with a brother actor who is leaving Exeter, to keep up his spirits.") After rehearsal, and before his appearance at Drury Lane, he exclaimed prophetically, "My God! if I succeed I shall go mad!" Drunk with delight, he rushed home, and with half-frenzied incoherency poured forth the story of his triumph. "The pit rose at me!" he cried. "Mary, you shall ride in your carriage yet!" "Charles," lifting the child from his bed, "shall go to Eton." Then his voice faltered, and he murmured, "If Howard (his recently deceased child) had but lived to see it!"

Among the companions of Reynolds, when he was studying his art at Rome, was a fellow-pupil of the name of Astley. They made an excursion, with some others, on[Pg 125] a sultry day, and all except Astley took off their coats. After several taunts he was persuaded to do the same, and displayed on the back of his waistcoat a foaming waterfall. Distress had compelled him to patch his clothes with one of his own landscapes. Henderson, the actor, after a simple reading of a newspaper, repeated such an enormous portion of it as seemed utterly marvelous. "If you had been obliged, like me," he said, in reply to the surprise expressed by his auditors, "to depend during many years for your daily bread on getting words by heart, you would not be so much astonished at habit having produced the facility." Amyot was a servant at college, and studied, like Ramus, by the light of burning charcoal from want of candles; but his translations earned him a mitre as well as renown. Duchâtel rose from being reader in a printing-office to be grand almoner of France; and was paid by the king to talk to him during his meals.

Excellence is not matured in a day, and the cost of it is an old story. The beginning of Plato's Republic was found in his tablets written over and over in a variety of ways. It took Virgil, it is stated, three years to compose his ten short eclogues; seven years to elaborate his Georgics, which comprise little more than two thousand verses; and he employed more than twelve years in polishing his Æneid, being even then so dissatisfied with it, that he wished before his death to commit it to the flames. Horace was equally indefatigable, and there are single odes in his works which must have cost him months of labor. Lucretius's one poem represents the toil of a whole life-time. Thucydides was twenty years writing his history, which is comprised in one octavo volume. Gibbon wrote the first chapter of his work three times before he could please himself. Montesquieu, alluding in a letter to one of his works, says to his correspondent, "You will read it in a few hours, but the labor expended on it has whitened my hair." Henri Beyle transcribed his[Pg 126] History of Painting in Italy seventeen times. Sainte-Beuve often spent a whole week on two or three octavo pages. Gray was so fastidious in polishing and perfecting his Elegy, that he kept it nearly twenty years, touching it up and improving it. There is a poem of ten lines in Waller's works, which he himself informs us, took him a whole summer to put into shape. Malherbe would spoil half a quire of paper in composing and discomposing and recomposing a stanza. It is reckoned that during the twenty-five most prolific years of his life he composed no more than, on the average, thirty-three verses per annum. There is a good story told of him, which illustrates amusingly the elaborate care he took with his poems. A certain nobleman of his acquaintance had lost his wife, and was anxious that Malherbe should dedicate an ode to her memory, and condole with him in verse on the loss he had sustained. Malherbe complied, but was so fastidious in his composition, that it was three years before the elegy was completed. Just before he sent it in, he was intensely chagrined to find that his noble friend had solaced himself with a new bride, and was, consequently, in no humor to be pestered with an elegy on his old one. When dying, his confessor, in speaking of the happiness in heaven, expressed himself inaccurately. "Say no more about it," said Malherbe, "or your style will disgust me with it." Miss Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Hume, and Fox, have all recorded the trouble they took. Tasso was unwearied in correcting; so were Pope and Boileau. The Cambridge manuscript of Milton's Lycidas shows numerous erasures and interlineations. Pascal spent twenty days in perfecting a single letter. The fables of La Fontaine were copied and re-copied over and over again. Alfieri was laboriously painstaking in composition. We are told that if he approved of his first sketch of a piece—after laying it by for some time, nor approaching it again until his mind was free of the subject—he submitted[Pg 127] it to what he called "development"—writing out in prose the indicated scenes, with all the force at his command, but without stopping to analyze a thought or correct an expression. He then proceeded to verify at his leisure the prose he had written, selecting with care the ideas he thought best, and rejecting those which he deemed unworthy of a place. Nor did he even yet regard his work as finished, but incessantly polished it verse by verse, and made continual alterations. Molière composed very slowly, although he liked the contrary to be understood, and many pieces supposed to have been written upon the spur of a royal command, had been prepared some time previously. He said to Boileau, "I have never done anything with which I am truly content." Sheridan, when urged by the publisher, Ridgeway, to finish his manuscript of The School for Scandal, declared that he had been nineteen years endeavoring to satisfy himself with the style of it, but had not succeeded. Joubert had a habit from his twentieth year to his seventieth, of jotting down with pencil the best issues of his meditation as they arose; and out of this chaos of notes was shaped, many years after his death, a full volume of Thoughts, "which," says the translator, "from their freshness and insight, their concise symmetry of expression, their pithiness, their variety, make a rich, enduring addition to the literature of France, and to all literature." Addison wore out the patience of his printer; frequently, when nearly a whole impression of a Spectator was worked off, he would stop the press to insert a new preposition. Lamb's most sportive essays were the result of most intense labor; he used to spend a week at a time in elaborating a single humorous letter to a friend. Tennyson is reported to have written Come into the Garden, Maud, more than fifty times over before it pleased him; and Locksley Hall, the first draught of which was written in two days, he spent the better part of six weeks, for eight hours a day, in altering[Pg 128] and polishing. Dickens, when he intended to write a Christmas story, shut himself up for six weeks, lived the life of a hermit, and came out looking as haggard as a murderer. His manuscripts show that he wrote with the greatest care, and scrupulously revised his writing in order to render each sentence as perfect as might be. He made his alterations so carefully that it is difficult to trace the words which he had originally written. In many instances "the primary words have been erased so carefully that it is next to impossible to form an idea of how the passages originally stood." Balzac, after he had thought out thoroughly one of his philosophical romances, and amassed his materials in a most laborious manner, retired to his study, and from that time until his book had gone to press, society saw him no more. When he appeared again among his friends, he looked, said his publisher, in the popular phrase, like his own ghost. The manuscript was afterward altered and copied, when it passed into the hands of the printer, from whose slips the book was re-written for the third time. Again it went into the hands of the printer,—two, three, and sometimes four separate proofs being required before the author's leave could be got to send the perpetually re-written book to press at last, and so have done with it. He was literally the terror of all printers and editors. Moore thought it quick work if he wrote seventy lines of Lalla Rookh in a week. Kinglake's Eothen, we are told, was re-written five or six times, and was kept in the author's writing-desk almost as long as Wordsworth kept the White Doe of Rylstone, and kept like that to be taken out for review and correction almost every day. Buffon's Studies of Nature cost him fifty years of labor, and he re-copied it eighteen times before he sent it to the printer. "He composed in a singular manner, writing on large-sized paper, in which, as in a ledger, five distinct columns were ruled. In the first column he wrote down the first[Pg 129] thoughts; in the second, he corrected, enlarged, and pruned it; and so on, until he had reached the fifth column, within which he finally wrote the result of his labor. But even after this, he would re-compose a sentence twenty times, and once devoted fourteen hours to finding the proper word with which to round off a period." John Foster often spent hours on a single sentence. Ten years elapsed between the first sketch of Goldsmith's Traveller and its completion. The poet's habit was to set down his ideas in prose, and, when he had turned them carefully into rhyme, to continue retouching the lines with infinite pains to give point to the sentiment and polish to the verse. La Rochefoucauld spent fifteen years in preparing his little book of Maxims, altering some of them, Segrais says, nearly thirty times. Rogers showed a friend a note to his Italy, which, he said, took him a fortnight to write. It consists of a very few lines. We all know how Sheridan polished his wit and finished his jokes, the same surprising things being found on different bits of paper, differently expressed. Not long before his death Adam Smith told Dugald Stewart that he wrote with just as much difficulty then as when he first began. The Benedictine editor of Bossuet's works stated that his manuscripts were bleared over with such numerous interlineations that they were nearly illegible. Sterne was incessantly employed for six months in perfecting one very diminutive volume. Herrick was a painstaking elaborator: with minute and curious care he polished and strengthened his work: "his airy facility, his seemingly spontaneous melodies, as with Shelley, were earned by conscious labor; perfect freedom was begotten of perfect art." It seems, no doubt, to many a reader of Macaulay's History, as if he wrote without effort, and as if the charms of his style were the gift of nature rather than the product of art, so spontaneously do they appear to flow from his pen. It was the general opinion of his literary friends that he[Pg 130] wrote with great rapidity, and made few corrections in his manuscripts. On the contrary, we are told by his nephew and biographer, that he never allowed a sentence to pass until it was as good as he could make it, and would often re-write paragraphs and whole chapters that he might gain even a slight improvement in arrangement or expression. After writing thus carefully, he corrected again remorselessly, and his manuscripts were covered with erasures. He paid equal attention to proof-sheets. "He could not rest until the lines were level to a hair's breadth, and the punctuation correct to a comma; until every paragraph concluded with a telling sentence, and every sentence flowed like running water." To Napier, the editor of The Edinburgh Review, he wrote from Calcutta: "At last I send you an article of interminable length about Lord Bacon. I never bestowed so much care on anything that I have written. There is not a sentence in the latter half of the article which has not been repeatedly recast." Carlyle, Miss Martineau says, erred on the side of fastidiousness. "Almost every word was altered, and revise followed revise." Giardini, when asked how long it would take to learn to play on the violin, answered, "Twelve hours a day for twenty years together." Bülow is reported to have said, "If I stop practice for one day, I notice it in my playing; if I stop two days, my friends notice it; if I stop three days, the public notices it." Leonardo da Vinci would walk the whole length of Milan that he might alter a single tint in his picture of the Last Supper. Titian, we are told, after laying his foundation with a few bold strokes, would turn the picture to the wall, and leave it there perhaps for months, turning it round again after a time to look at it carefully, and scan the parts as he would the face of his greatest enemy. If at this time any portion of it should appear to him to have been defective, he would set to work to correct it, applying remedies as a surgeon would apply them, cutting off excrescences[Pg 131] here, superabundant flesh there, redressing an arm, adjusting or setting a limb, regardless of the pain which it might cause. In this way he would reduce the whole to a certain symmetry, put it aside, and return again a third or more times till the first quintessence had been covered over with its padding of flesh. Then came the finishing, which was done at as many more different paintings, to say nothing of the innumerable last touches—with his fingers as well as with his brush—of which he is said to have been particularly fond. It is a received opinion that Edmund Kean's acting was wholly spontaneous and unstudied; this is a mistake. A contemporary, writing of his earlier professional life, says, "He used to mope about for hours, walking miles and miles alone with his hands in his pockets, thinking intensely on his characters. No one could get a word from him; he studied and slaved beyond any actor I ever knew." Neither did he relax his labors when he had reached the highest pinnacle of fame. It is related of him, that when studying Maturin's Bertram, he shut himself up for two days to study the one line, "Bertram has kissed the child!" It made one of those electrical effects which from their vividness were supposed to be merely impulsive. His wife said her husband would often stand up all night before a pier glass in his chamber, endeavoring to acquire the right facial expression for some new part. John Kemble's new readings of Hamlet were many and strange, and excited much comment. "The performance was eminently graceful, calm, deep studied—during his life he wrote out the entire part forty times—but cold and unsympathetic." As to orators, the greatest of antiquity were not ashamed to confess the industry of the closet. Demosthenes gloried in the smell of the lamp; and it is recorded of Cicero, that he not only so laboriously prepared his speeches, but even so minutely studied the effect of their delivery, that on one occasion, when he had to oppose Hortensius,[Pg 132] the reiterated rehearsals of the night before so diminished his strength as almost to incapacitate him in the morning. Lord Erskine corrected and corrected his very eloquent orations, and Burke literally worried his printer into a complaint against the fatigue of his continual revises. Indeed, it is said, such was the fastidiousness of his industry, that the proof-sheet not unfrequently exhibited a complete erasure of the original manuscript. Whitefield's eloquence was a natural gift improved by diligent study; and Garrick said that each repetition of the same sermon showed a constant improvement,—as many as forty repetitions being required before the discourse reached its full perfection. "I composed," says Lord Brougham, "the peroration of my speech for the queen, in the Lords, after reading and repeating Demosthenes for three or four weeks, and I composed it twenty times over at least, and it certainly succeeded in a very extraordinary degree, and far above any merits of its own." He says that Erskine wrote down word for word the passage about the savage and his bundle of sticks. His mind having acquired a certain excitement and elevation, and received an impetus from the tone and quality of the matured and premeditated composition, retained that impetus, after the impelling cause had died away. Webster, it is said, was in the habit of writing and re-writing most of the fine passages of his senatorial and forensic speeches, and sometimes prepared them, in order that they might afterward be introduced when occasion should offer. He was wont to say that the following passage in his speech upon President Jackson's protest, in May, 1834, had been changed by him twelve times, before he reduced it to a shape that entirely met his approval. Perhaps it is not surpassed, for poetical beauty, by anything that ever fell from his eloquent lips. Speaking of resistance by the United States of the aggressions of Great Britain, he said: "They raised their flag against a power, to which, for the[Pg 133] purposes of foreign conquest and subjugation, Rome, in the height of her glory, is not to be compared. A power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts—whose morning drum-beat following the sun, and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth daily with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England."

As to compensation, it is stated that Goethe's works were not in his own time commercially successful. After his return from Italy, the edition of his collected works, which he had compared and revised with labor and with care, sold, as his publisher complained, only "very slowly." Coleridge gained little or no money by his writings. He says, "I question whether there ever existed a man of letters so utterly friendless, or so unconnected as I am with the dispensers of contemporary reputation, or the publishers in whose service they labor." When Newton lectured, a Lucasian professor, "so few went to hear him, that ofttimes he did, in a manner, for want of hearers, read to the walls." The Paradise Lost had a very limited sale, till, fifty years after its publication, it was brought into light by the criticisms of Addison. Campbell for years could not find a bookseller who would buy The Pleasures of Hope. In the first thirteen years after the publication of Boswell's Life of Johnson, less than four thousand copies were sold. There were only forty-five copies of Hume's History sold in the first twelvemonth. Twelve years elapsed before the first five hundred copies of Emerson's Nature were purchased by the public. Washington Irving was nearly seventy years old before the sale of his works at home met the expenses of his simple life at Sunnyside. It has been related that while Madame Titiens was receiving an ovation for her singing of Kathleen Mavourneen, the author of the song sat weeping in the audience, the poorest and obscurest man present. Willis, breakfasting at the Temple with a friend, met[Pg 134] Charles and Mary Lamb. He mentioned having bought a copy of Elia the last day he was in America, to send as a parting gift to one of the most lovely and talented women in his country. "What did you give for it?" said Lamb. "About seven and six-pence." "Permit me to pay you that," said he; and with the utmost earnestness he counted out the money upon the table. "I never yet wrote anything that would sell," he continued. "I am the publishers' ruin."

Fortune, it has been truly said, has rarely condescended to be the companion of genius; others find a hundred by-roads to her palace; there is but one open, and that a very indifferent one, for men of letters. Cervantes, the immortal genius of Spain, is supposed to have wanted bread; Le Sage was a victim of poverty all his life; Camoëns, the solitary pride of Portugal, deprived of the necessaries of life, perished in a hospital at Lisbon. The Portuguese, after his death, bestowed on the man of genius they had starved the appellation of Great. Vondel, the Dutch Shakespeare, to whom Milton was greatly indebted, after composing a number of popular tragedies, lived in great poverty, and died at ninety years of age; then he had his coffin carried by fourteen poets, who, without his genius, probably partook of his wretchedness. The great Tasso was reduced to such a dilemma that he was obliged to borrow a crown from a friend to subsist through the week. He alludes to his dress in a pretty sonnet, which he addresses to his cat, entreating her to assist him, during the night, with the lustre of her eyes, having no candle to see to write his verses. One day Louis the Fourteenth asked Racine what there was new in the literary world. The poet answered that he had seen a melancholy spectacle in the house of Corneille, whom he found dying, deprived even of a little broth. Spenser, the child of Fancy, languished out his life in misery. Lord Burleigh, it is said, prevented the queen giving him a hundred[Pg 135] pounds, thinking the lowest clerk in his office a more deserving person. Sydenham, who devoted his life to a laborious version of Plato, died in a miserable spunging-house. "You," said Goldsmith to Bob Bryanton, "seem placed at the centre of fortune's wheel, and, let it revolve ever so fast, are insensible to the motion. I seem to have been tied to the circumference, and whirled disagreeably round, as if on a whirligig.... Oh gods! gods! here in a garret, writing for bread, and expecting to be dunned for a milk-score." To another, about the same time, he wrote, "I have been some years struggling with a wretched being—with all that contempt that indigence brings with it—with all those passions which make contempt insupportable. What, then, has a jail that is formidable? I shall at least have the society of wretches, and such is to me true society." Cervantes planned and commenced Don Quixote in prison. John Bunyan wrote the first part, at least, of Pilgrim's Progress in jail. Both of these immortal works are the delight and solace of reading people wherever there is a literature. The latter is said to have been translated into a greater number of languages than any other book in the world, with two exceptions, the Bible and the Imitation of Christ. Sir James Harrington, author of Oceana, on pretense of treasonable practices, was put into confinement, which lasted until he became deranged, when he was liberated. Sir Roger L'Estrange was tried and condemned to death, and lay in prison nearly four years; constantly expecting to be led forth to execution. Ben Jonson, John Selden, Jeremy Taylor, and Edmund Waller were imprisoned. Sir Walter Raleigh, during his twelve years' imprisonment, wrote his best poems and his History of the World, a work accounted vastly superior to all the English historical productions which had previously appeared. "Written," says the historian Tytler, "in prison, during the quiet evening of a tempestuous life, we[Pg 136] feel, in its perusal, that we are the companions of a superior mind, nursed in contemplation and chastened and improved by sorrow, in which the bitter recollection of injury and the asperity of resentment have passed away, leaving only the heavenly lesson, that all is vanity." Old George Wither wrote his Shepherd's Hunting during his first imprisonment. The superiority of intellectual pursuits over the gratification of sense and all the malice of fortune, has never been more touchingly or finely illustrated, it has been well said, than in this poem.

"Can anything be so elegant," asks Emerson, "as to have few wants and serve them one's self? It is more elegant to answer one's own needs than to be richly served; inelegant perhaps it may look to-day, and to a few, but it is an elegance forever and to all.... Parched corn, and a house with one apartment, that I may be free of all perturbations, that I may be serene and docile to what the mind shall speak, and girt and road-ready for the lowest mission of knowledge or good-will, is frugality for gods and heroes." Said Confucius, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow,—I have still joy in the midst of these things." "For my own private satisfaction," said Bishop Berkeley, "I had rather be master of my own time than wear a diadem." "I would rather," said Thoreau, "sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.... If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be. Perhaps we should never procure a new suit, however ragged or dirty the old, until we have so conducted, so enterprised or sailed in some way, that we feel like new men in the old, and that to retain it would be like keeping new wine in old bottles. Our moulting season, like that of fowls, must be a crisis in our lives. The loon retires to solitary[Pg 137] ponds to spend it. Thus also the snake casts its slough, and the caterpillar its wormy coat, by an internal industry and expansion; for clothes are but our outmost cuticle and mortal coil.... It is desirable that a man be clad so simply that he can lay his hands on himself in the dark, and that he live in all respects so compactly and preparedly, that, if an enemy take the town, he can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety."

"You see in my chamber," said Goethe, near the close of his life, "no sofa; I sit always in my old wooden chair, and never, till a few weeks ago, have permitted even a leaning place for my head to be added. If surrounded by tasteful furniture, my thoughts are arrested, and I am placed in an agreeable, but passive state. Unless we are accustomed to them from early youth, splendid chambers and elegant furniture had best be left to people who neither have nor can have any thoughts."

Rogers, the banker poet, once said to Wordsworth, "If you would let me edit your poems, and give me leave to omit some half-dozen, and make a few trifling alterations, I would engage that you should be as popular a poet as any living." Wordsworth's answer is said to have been, "I am much obliged to you, Mr. Rogers; I am a poor man, but I would rather remain as I am."

Thomson solicited Burns to supply him with twenty or thirty songs for the musical work in which he was engaged, with an understanding distinctly specified, that the bard should receive a regular pecuniary remuneration for his contributions. With the first part of the proposal Burns instantly complied, but peremptorily rejected the last. "As to any remuneration, you may think my songs either above or below price; for they shall absolutely be the one or the other. In the honest enthusiasm with which I embark in your undertaking, to talk of money, wages, fee, hire, etc., would be downright prostitution of[Pg 138] soul." Thomson, some time after, notwithstanding the prohibition, ventured to acknowledge his services by a small pecuniary present, which the poet with some difficulty restrained himself from returning. "I assure you, my dear sir," he wrote to the donor, "that you truly hurt me with your pecuniary parcel. It degrades me in my own eyes. However, to return it would savor of affectation; but as to any more traffic of that debtor and creditor kind, I swear by that honor which crowns the upright statue of Robert Burns' integrity—on the least motion of it, I will indignantly spurn the by-past transaction, and from that moment commence entire stranger to you! Burns' character for generosity of sentiment and independence of mind will, I trust, long outlive any of his wants which the cold, unfeeling ore can supply; at least, I will take care that such a character he shall deserve." His sensitive nature inclined him to reject the present, as proud old Sam Johnson threw away with indignation the new shoes which had been placed at his chamber door. "I ought not," says Emerson, "to allow any man, because he has broad lands, to feel that he is rich in my presence. I ought to make him feel that I can do without his riches, that I cannot be bought,—neither by comfort, neither by pride,—and though I be utterly penniless, and receiving bread from him, that he is the poor man beside me."

Isaac Disraeli, when a young man, was informed that a place in the establishment of a great merchant was prepared for him; he replied that he had written and intended to publish a poem of considerable length against commerce, which was the corrupter of man; and he at once inclosed his poem to Dr. Johnson, who, however, was in his last illness, and was unable to read it. Coleridge, on being offered a half share in the Morning Post and Courier, with a prospect of two thousand pounds a year, announced that he would not give up country life,[Pg 139] and the lazy reading of old folios, for two thousand times that income. "In short," he added, "beyond three hundred and fifty pounds a year, I regard money as a real evil." Professor Agassiz, when once invited to lecture, replied to the munificent lecture association that he was very sorry, but he was just then busy with some researches that left him no time to make money. There is a familiar story told of Marvell, who is said to have so greatly pleased Charles II. at a private interview, by his wit and agreeable conversation, that the latter dispatched the lord treasurer Danby to offer him a thousand pounds, with a promise of a lucrative place at court, which Marvell refused, notwithstanding he was immediately afterward compelled to borrow a guinea of a friend. Just at the time when the English mind was agitated upon the subject of American taxation, and Goldsmith was most needy, an effort was made to bring him into the ministerial ranks. Dr. Scott was sent to negotiate with the poet. "I found him," said Scott, "in a miserable suite of chambers in the Temple. I told him my authority: I told him I was empowered to pay most liberally for his exertions; and, would you believe it! he was so absurd as to say, 'I can earn as much as will supply my wants without writing for any party; the assistance you offer is therefore unnecessary to me;' and so I left him in his garret!" Sir John Hawkins one day met Goldsmith; his lordship told him he had read his poem, The Traveller, and was much delighted with it; that he was going lord lieutenant to Ireland, and that hearing that he was a native of that country, he should be glad to do him any kindness. The honest poor man and sincere lover of literature replied that he "had a brother there, a clergyman, that stood in need of help. As for myself, I have no dependence upon the promises of great men; I look to the booksellers for support; they are my best friends, and I am not inclined to forsake them for others." For[Pg 140] this frank expression of magnanimity and manly self-dependence, the pricked Hawkins, and the envious Boswell, speaking of the incident afterward, called Goldsmith an "idiot." Some of Walter Scott's friends offered him, or rather proposed to offer him, enough of money, as was supposed, to enable him to arrange with his creditors. He paused for a moment; and then recollecting his powers, said proudly, "No! this right hand shall work it all off!" Lady Blessington said to Willis, Disraeli and Dr. Beattie being present: "Moore went to Jamaica with a profitable appointment. The climate disagreed with him, and he returned home, leaving the business in the hands of a confidential clerk, who embezzled eight thousand pounds in the course of a few months and absconded. Moore's misfortunes awakened a great sympathy among his friends. Lord Lansdowne was the first to offer his aid. He wrote to Moore, that for many years he had been in the habit of laying aside from his income eight thousand pounds, for the encouragement of the arts and literature, and that he should feel that it was well disposed of for that year if Moore would accept it, to free him from his difficulties. It was offered in the most delicate and noble manner, but Moore declined it. The members of 'White's' (mostly noblemen) called a meeting, and (not knowing the amount of the deficit) subscribed in one morning twenty-five thousand pounds, and wrote to the poet that they would cover the sum, whatever it might be. This was declined. Longman and Murray then offered to pay it, and wait for their remuneration from his works. He declined even this, and went to Passy with his family, where he economized and worked hard till it was canceled. At one time two different counties of Ireland sent committees to him, to offer him a seat in Parliament; and as he depended on his writings for a subsistence, offering him at the same time twelve hundred pounds a year while he continued to represent[Pg 141] them. Moore was deeply touched with it, and said no circumstance of his life had ever gratified him so much. He admitted that the honor they proposed him had been his most cherished ambition, but the necessity of receiving a pecuniary support at the same time was an insuperable obstacle. He could never enter Parliament with his hands tied, and his opinions and speech fettered, as they would be irresistibly in such circumstances." Southey was offered by Walter the editorship of The Times, but declined it, saying, "No emolument, however great, would induce me to give up a country life, and those pursuits in literature to which the studies of so many years have been directed." "Will you be created a count? a title is sometimes useful," said Louis Philippe to M. Guizot. The proffered honor was declined, and the king replied, "You are right; your name alone is sufficient, and is a higher dignity." D'Alembert, when in receipt of but a limited income,—more than half of which he gave away in charity,—declined an invitation of Frederick the Great to reside at the court of Berlin. The Empress Catherine offered him the post of tutor or governor to the czarowitch, with an income of one hundred thousand livres, and on his refusal wrote: "I know that your refusal arises from your desire to cultivate your studies and your friendships in quiet. But this is of no consequence; bring all your friends with you, and I promise you, that both you and they shall have every accommodation in my power." Still he refused; the "powers and potentialities of the courts and royalty" being insufficient to seduce his independence. Béranger, the "French Burns," the poet of the people, from 1820 to the end of his life called "the real monarch of France," had the same proud spirit of independence. General Sebastiani, then minister of war, and dangerously ill, received one day a visit from Béranger. "Ah! my dear friend," said the old soldier to the poet, "I am very ill.[Pg 142] Come, my dear Béranger, we must do something for our friends. I declare to you that I shall not die quietly if I leave you in poverty behind me. Madame de Praslin has a fortune of her own; therefore it will not be doing any injustice to my children. Listen; I have there in my bureau a few small savings, about two hundred thousand francs; let us divide them. It is an old friend, an old soldier, who offers you this; and I swear, on my cross of honor, that no one shall know the pleasure you will have done me in accepting the small present." The poet refused. Spinoza, at one time, we are informed, did not spend six sous a day, on an average, and did not drink more than a pint of wine in a month. "Nature is satisfied with little," he used to say, "and when she is content, I am so too." A good friend brought him one day a present of two thousand florins. The philosopher, "in the presence of his host, civilly excused himself from accepting the money, saying that he was in need of nothing, and that the possession of so much money would only serve to distract him from his studies and occupations."

Dr. Johnson contracted an inveterate dislike to sustained intellectual exertion, and wondered how any one could write except for money, and never, or very rarely, wrote from any more elevated impulse than the stern pressure of want. "Who will say," says Richard Cumberland, "that Johnson himself would have been such a champion in literature, such a front-rank soldier in the fields of fame, if he had not been pressed into the service, and driven on to glory with the bayonet of sharp necessity pointed at his back? If fortune had turned him into a field of clover, he would have lain down and rolled in it. The mere manual labor of writing would not have allowed his lassitude and love of ease to have taken the pen out of the inkhorn, unless the cravings of hunger had reminded him that he must fill the sheet before[Pg 143] he saw the table-cloth.... He would have put up prayers for early rising, and lain in bed all day, and with the most active resolutions possible, been the most indolent mortal living.... I have heard that illustrious scholar assert that he subsisted himself for a considerable space of time upon the scanty pittance of four-pence half-penny per day. How melancholy to reflect that his vast trunk and stimulating appetite were to be supported by what will barely feed the weaned infant!" No wonder he so often screened himself when he ate, or, later in life, lost his temper with Mrs. Thrale when she made a jest of hunger!

It is related that soon after the publication of the Life of Savage, which was anonymous, Mr. Walter Harte, dining with Mr. Cave, the proprietor of The Gentleman's Magazine, at St. John's Gate, took occasion to speak very handsomely of the work. The next time Cave met Harte, he told him that he had made a man happy the other day at his home, by the encomiums he bestowed on Savage's Life. "How could that be?" said Harte; "none were present but you and I." Cave replied, "You might observe I sent a plate of victuals behind the screen. There skulked the biographer, one Johnson, whose dress was so shabby that he durst not make his appearance. He overheard our conversation; and your applauding his performance delighted him exceedingly."

"Man," said Goethe, "recognizes and praises only that which he himself is capable of doing; and those who by nature are mediocre have the trick of depreciating productions which, if they have faults, have also good points, so as to elevate the mediocre productions which they are fitted to praise." "While it is so undesirable that any man should receive what he has not examined, a far more frequent danger is that of flippant irreverence. Not all the heavens contain is obvious to the unassisted eye of the careless spectator. Few men are great, almost as few[Pg 144] able to appreciate greatness. The critics have written little upon the Iliad in all these ages which Alexander would have thought worth keeping with it in his golden box. Nor Shakespeare, nor Dante, nor Calderon, have as yet found a sufficient critic, though Coleridge and the Schlegels have lived since they did. Meantime," continues Margaret Fuller, "it is safer to take off the hat and shout vivat! to the conqueror, who may become a permanent sovereign, than to throw stones and mud from the gutter. The star shines, and that it is with no borrowed light, his foes are his voucher. And every planet is a portent to the world; but whether for good or ill, only he can know who has science for many calculations. Not he who runs can read these books, or any books of any worth."

Homer was called a plagiarist by some of the earlier critics, and was accused of having stolen from older poets all that was remarkable in the Iliad and Odyssey. Sophocles was brought to trial by his children as a lunatic. Socrates, considered as the wisest and the most moral of men, Cicero treated as an usurer, and Athenæus as illiterate. Plato was accused of envy, lying, avarice, robbery, incontinence, and impiety. Some of the old writers wrote to prove Aristotle vain, ambitious, and ignorant. Plato is said to have preferred the burning of all of the works of Democritus. Pliny and Seneca thought Virgil destitute of invention, and Quintilian was alike severe upon Seneca. It was a long time, says Seneca, that Democritus was taken for a madman, and before Socrates had any esteem in the world. How long was it before Cato could be understood? Nay, he was affronted, contemned, and rejected; and people never knew the value of him until they had lost him. "The Northern Highlanders," said Wilson, "do not admire Waverley, so I presume the Southern Highlanders despise Guy Mannering. The Westmoreland peasants think Wordsworth[Pg 145] a fool. In Borrowdale, Southey is not known to exist. I met ten men at Hawick who did not think Hogg a poet, and the whole city of Glasgow think me a madman. So much for the voice of the people being the voice of God."

Goldsmith tells us, speaking of Waller's Ode on the Death of Cromwell, that English poetry was not then "quite harmonized: so that this, which would now be looked upon as a slovenly sort of versification, was in the times in which it was written almost a prodigy of harmony." At the same time, after praising the harmony of the Rape of the Lock, he observes that the irregular measure at the opening of the Allegro and Penseroso "hurts our English ear." Gray "loved intellectual ease and luxury, and wished as a sort of Mahometan paradise to 'lie on a sofa, and read eternal new romances of Mirivaux and Crébillon.' Yet all he could say of Thomson's Castle of Indolence, when it was first published, was, that there were some good verses in it. Akenside, too, whom he was so well fitted to appreciate, he thought 'often obscure, and even unintelligible.'" Horace Walpole marveled at the dullness of people who can admire anything so stupidly extravagant and barbarous as the Divina Commedia. "The long-continued contempt for Bunyan and De Foe was merely an expression of the ordinary feeling of the cultivated classes toward anything which was identified with Grub Street; but it is curious to observe the incapacity of such a man as Johnson to understand Gray or Sterne, and the contempt which Walpole expressed for Johnson and Goldsmith, while he sincerely believed that the poems of Mason were destined to immortality." The poet Rogers tells us that Henry Mackenzie advised Burns to take for his model in song-writing Mrs. John Hunter! Byron believed that Rogers and Moore were the truest poets among his contemporaries; that Pope was the first of all English, if not of all existing poets, and that Wordsworth[Pg 146] was nothing but a namby-pamby driveler. De Quincey speaks of "Mr. Goethe" as an immoral and second-rate author, who owes his reputation chiefly to the fact of his long life and his position at the court of Weimar, and Charles Lamb expressed a decided preference of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus to Goethe's immortal Faust. Dr. Johnson's opinion of Milton's sonnets is pretty well known—"those soul-animating strains, alas! too few," as Wordsworth estimated them. Hannah More wondered that Milton could write "such poor sonnets." Johnson said, "Milton, madam, was a genius that could cut a Colossus from a rock, but could not carve heads upon cherry-stones." He attacked Swift on all occasions. He said, speaking of Gulliver's Travels, "When once you have thought of big men and little men, it is very easy to do all the rest." He called Gray "a dull fellow." "Sir, he was dull in company, dull in his closet, dull everywhere. He was dull in a new way, and that made many people call him great." Talking of Sterne, he said, "Nothing odd will last long. Tristram Shandy did not last." See how Horace Walpole disposes of some of the gods of literature. "Tiresome Tristram Shandy, of which I could never get through three volumes." "I have read Sheridan's Critic; it appeared wondrously flat and old, and a poor imitation." He speaks of wading through Spenser's "allegories and drawling stanzas." Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, he said, are "a lump of mineral from which Dryden extracted all the gold, and converted it into beautiful medals." "Dante was extravagant, absurd, disgusting: in short, a Methodist parson in Bedlam." "Montaigne's Travels I have been reading; if I was tired of the Essays, what must one be of these? What signifies what a man thought who never thought of anything but himself? and what signifies what a man did who never did anything?" "Boswell's book," he said, "is the story of a mountebank and his zany." Pepys, in his[Pg 147] Diary, speaks of having bought "Hudibras, both parts, the book now in greatest fashion for drollery, though I cannot, I confess, see enough where the wit lies." Scaliger called Montaigne "a bold ignoramus." Paley used to say that to read Tristram Shandy was the summum bonum of life. Goldsmith said its author was a "block-head." Goethe told a young Italian who asked him his opinion of Dante's great poem, that he thought the Inferno abominable, the Purgatorio dubious, and the Paradiso tiresome. Coleridge, talking of Goethe's Faust, said, "There is no whole in the poem; the scenes are mere magic-lantern pictures, and a large part of the work is to me very flat. Moreover, much of it is vulgar, licentious, and blasphemous." "Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, is, I think," says Southey, "the clumsiest attempt at German sublimity I ever saw." Johnson told Anna Seward that "he would hang a dog that read the Lycidas of Milton twice." Waller wrote of Paradise Lost on its first appearance, "The old blind school-master, John Milton, hath published a tedious poem on the fall of man; if its length be not considered a merit, it has no other." Curran declared Paradise Lost to be the "worst poem in the language." When Harvey's book on the circulation of the blood came out, "he fell mightily in his practice. It was believed by the vulgar that he was crack-brained, and all the physicians were against him." Who has forgotten the fierce attack of the Quarterly Review on Jane Eyre, in which the unknown author, who was a clergyman's daughter, is pronounced "a person who, with great mental powers, combines a total ignorance of society, a great coarseness of taste, and a heathenish doctrine of religion"? "If we ascribe the book to a woman at all," continues the keen-sighted critic, "we have no alternative but to ascribe it to one who has, for some sufficient reason, forfeited the society of her own sex." Schiller's intimate friends decided against the Indian Death Song,[Pg 148] which Goethe afterward pronounced one of his best poems. When Andersen published his Wonder Stories told for Children, which fixed his place in literature and in popular affection, the reviewers advised him to waste no more time over such work; and he said, "I would willingly have discontinued writing them, but they forced themselves from me." Warren says that the first chapter of the Diary of a Late Physician—the Early Struggles,—was offered by him successively to the conductors of three leading London magazines, and rejected, as "unsuitable for their pages," and "not likely to interest the public." Scott tells us that one of his nearest friends predicted the failure of Waverley. Herder, one of the most comprehensive thinkers and versatile authors of Germany, adjured Goethe not to take so unpromising a subject as Faust. Hume tried to dissuade Robertson from writing the History of Charles V. Montesquieu, upon the completion of The Spirit of Laws, which had cost him twenty years of labor, and which ran through twenty-two editions in less than as many months after its publication, submitted the manuscript to Helvetius and Saurin, who returned it with the advice not to spoil a great reputation by publishing it. Wordsworth told Robinson that before his ballads were published, Tobin implored him to leave out We are Seven, as a poem that would damn the book. It turned out to be one of the most popular. That charming and once popular Scottish story, The Annals of the Parish, by John Galt, was written ten or twelve years before the date of its publication, and anterior to the appearance of Waverley and Guy Mannering, and was rejected by the publishers of those works, with the assurance that a novel or work of fiction entirely Scottish would not take with the public. St. Pierre submitted his delightful tale, Paul and Virginia, to the criticisms of a circle of his learned friends. They told him that it was a failure; that to publish it would be a piece of foolishness;[Pg 149] that nobody would read it. St. Pierre appealed from his learned critics to his unlearned but sympathetic and sensible housekeeper. He read—she listened, admired, and wept. He accepted her verdict, and will be remembered by one little story longer than his contemporaries by their weary tomes. Molière made use of a person of the same class to criticise his plays. "I remember," says Boileau, "his pointing out to me several times an old servant that he had, to whom he told me he sometimes read his comedies, and he assured me that when the humorous passages did not strike her, he altered them, because he had frequently proved that such passages did not take upon the stage."

It would be curious to know how much chance or accident has had to do with even the best of the productions of literature. Wordsworth, in a conversation with one of his friends, gave an account of the origin of the Ancient Mariner. It was written in Devonshire, where he and Coleridge were together. It was intended for the Monthly Magazine, and was to pay the expenses of a journey. It was to have been a joint work, but Wordsworth left the execution to Coleridge, after suggesting much of the plan. The idea of the crime was suggested by a book of travels, in which the superstition of the sailors with regard to the albatross is mentioned. Mark Lemon, it is said, loved to tell an anecdote which related to the period when Hood became a contributor to Punch. Looking over his letters one morning, he opened an envelope inclosing a poem which the writer said had been rejected by three contemporaries. If not thought available for Punch, he begged the editor, whom he knew but slightly, to consign it to the waste-paper basket, as the writer was "sick at the sight of it." The poem was signed "Tom Hood," and the lines were entitled "The Song of the Shirt." The work was altogether different from anything that had ever appeared in Punch, and was[Pg 150] considered so much out of keeping with the spirit of the periodical that at the weekly meeting its publication was opposed by several members of the staff. Lemon was so firmly impressed, not only with the beauty of the work, but with its suitableness, that he stood by his first decision and published it. The Song of the Shirt trebled the sale of the paper, and created a profound sensation throughout Great Britain. Scott told Ticknor that he once traveled with Campbell in a stage-coach alone, and that, to beguile the time, they talked of poetry and began to repeat some. At last Scott asked Campbell for something of his own, and he said there was one thing he had written but never printed that was full of "drums and trumpets and blunderbusses and thunder," and he didn't know if there was anything good in it. And then he repeated Hohenlinden. Scott listened with the greatest interest, and when he had finished, broke out, "But do you know that's devilish fine; why it's the finest thing you ever wrote, and it must be printed!" Scott told Leslie that he had known a laboring man who was with Burns when he turned up the mouse with his plow. Burns' first impulse was to kill it, but checking himself, as his eye followed the little creature, he said, "I'll make that mouse immortal!"

"One meets now and then with polished men," says Emerson, "who know everything, have tried everything, can do everything, and are quite superior to letters and science. What could they not, if only they would?" Wrote Byron:—

"Many are poets who have never penned
Their inspiration, and perchance the best;
They felt, and loved, and died, but would not lend
Their thoughts to meaner things; they compressed
The god within them, and rejoined the stars
Unlaureled upon earth."

"On my walk with Lamb," notes Robinson, "he spoke[Pg 151] with enthusiasm of Manning, declaring that he is the most wonderful man he ever knew, more extraordinary than Wordsworth or Coleridge. Yet he does nothing. He has traveled even in China, and has been by land from India through Thibet, yet, as far as is known, he has written nothing." "My father," said Charles Kingsley, "was a magnificent man in body and mind, and was said to possess every talent except that of using his talents." Dr. Johnson lamented that "those who are most capable of improving mankind very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge; either because it is more pleasing to gather ideas than to impart them, or because to minds naturally great, few things appear of so much importance as to deserve the notice of the public." "Great constitutions," says Sir Thomas Browne, "and such as are constellated unto knowledge, do nothing till they outdo all; they come short of themselves, if they go not beyond others, and must not sit down under the degree of worthies. God expects no lustre from the minor stars; but if the sun should not illuminate all, it were a sin in nature." Rogers said of Sydney Smith (of whose death he had just heard), in answer to the question, "How came it that he did not publicly show his powers?" "He had too fastidious a taste, and too high an idea of what ought to be." Disappointment is often felt and sometimes expressed concerning Coleridge, by those who hear so much of his extraordinary intellect. How could he have done more? His was one of those great, homeless souls which fly between heaven and earth; his language was only partly understood in this world, if wholly in another. His best utterances were but incoherencies to the human ears that heard them. Stupid John Chester understood them as well as any.

"Vast objects of remote altitude," says Landor, "must be looked at a long while before they are ascertained. Ages are the telescope tubes that must be lengthened out[Pg 152] for Shakespeare; and generations of men serve but as single witnesses to his claims." "Shakespeare," said Coleridge, "is of no age—nor, I may add, of any religion, or party, or profession. The body and substance of his works came out of the unfathomable depths of his own oceanic mind; his observation and reading supplied him with the drapery of his figures." "The sand heaped by one flood," says Dr. Johnson, "is scattered by another; but the rock always continues in its place. The stream of time, which is continually washing the dissoluble fabrics of other poets, passes without injury by the adamant of Shakespeare." "Milton is not," says De Quincey, "an author amongst authors, not a poet amongst poets, but a power amongst powers; and the Paradise Lost is not a book amongst books, not a poem amongst poems, but a central force amongst forces." Landor, in his Imaginary Conversations, makes Marvell thus to address Marten: "Hast thou not sat convivially with Oliver Cromwell? Hast thou not conversed familiarly with the only man greater than he, John Milton? One was ambitious of perishable power, the other of imperishable glory; both have attained their aim." Hazlitt and Coleridge being together, some comparison was introduced between Shakespeare and Milton. Coleridge said "he hardly knew which to prefer. Shakespeare seemed to him a mere stripling in the art; he was as tall and as strong, with infinitely more activity than Milton, but he never appeared to have come to man's estate; or if he had, he would not have been a man, but a monster." "A rib of Shakespeare," said Landor, "would have made a Milton; the same portion of Milton, all poets born ever since." Said Goethe, "Would you see Shakespeare's intellect unfettered, read Troilus and Cressida, and see how he uses the materials of the Iliad in his fashion." Said Coleridge, "Compare Nestor, Ajax, Achilles, etc., in the Troilus and Cressida of Shakespeare, with their[Pg 153] namesakes in the Iliad. The old heroes seem all to have been at school ever since." "It was really Voltaire," said Goethe, "who excited such minds as Diderot, D'Alembert, and Beaumarchais; for to be somewhat near him a man needed to be much, and could take no holidays." "To have seen such a man as Dr. Johnson," said Dr. Campbell, "was a thing to talk of a century hence." "Nature," said Heine, "wanted to see how she looked, and she created Goethe." "Were Byron now alive, and Burns," said Hawthorne, "the first would come from his ancestral abbey, flinging aside, although unwillingly, the inherited honors of a thousand years, to take the arm of the mighty peasant who grew immortal while he stooped behind his plow."

Generally, thought Goethe, the personal character of the writer influences the public, rather than his talents as an artist. Napoleon said of Corneille, "If he were living now, I would make him a prince," yet he never read him. "I have often been amused at thinking," says Landor, "in what estimation the greatest of mankind were holden by their contemporaries. Not even the most sagacious and prudent one could discover much of them, or could prognosticate their future course in the infinity of space! Men like ourselves are permitted to stand near, and indeed in the very presence of Milton: what do they see? dark clothes, gray hair, and sightless eyes! Other men have better things: other men, therefore, are nobler! The stars themselves are only bright by distance; go close, and all is earthy." "There is," says Emerson, "somewhat touching in the madness with which the passing age mischooses the object on which all candles shine, and all eyes are turned; the care with which it registers everything touching Queen Elizabeth, and King James, and the Essexes, Leicesters, Burleighs, and Buckinghams; and lets pass without a single valuable note the founder of another dynasty, which alone will cause the Tudor dynasty[Pg 154] to be remembered,—the man who carries the Saxon race in him by the inspiration which feeds him, and on whose thoughts the foremost people of the world are now for some ages to be nourished, and minds to receive this and not another bias. A popular player,—nobody suspected he was the poet of the human race; and the secret was kept as faithfully from poets and intellectual men, as from courtiers and frivolous people. Bacon, who took the inventory of the human understanding for his times never mentioned his name. Ben Jonson, though we have strained his few words of regard and panegyric, had no suspicion of the elastic fame whose first vibrations he was attempting. He no doubt thought the praise he has conceded to him generous, and esteemed himself, out of all question, the better poet of the two." "The people of Gascony, who knew Montaigne well," says the biographer of the great essayist, "thought it very droll to see him in print. He had to pay printers and publishers in Guienne; elsewhere they were eager to buy him." Horace Walpole heard a sight-seer, on being shown the bows and arrows in the armory at Strawberry Hill, ask the housekeeper, "Pray, does Mr. Walpole shoot?" One of his titled neighbors told him, that, having some company with her, one of them had been to see Strawberry. "Pray," said another, "who is that Mr. Walpole?" "Lord!" cried a third, "don't you know the great epicure, Mr. Walpole?" "Pho!" cried the first, "great epicure! you mean the antiquarian." The only tradition a visitor could gather in Pope's garden at Twickenham was that a fine cedar was planted there by a famous man a long time ago. An elderly, well-to-do inhabitant of Beaconsfield, of whom the same person inquired where Burke had lived, made answer: "Pray, sir, was he a poet?" During a pilgrimage which we are told Rogers and his friend Maltby made to Gerrard Street, Soho, to discover the house once occupied by Dryden, they came upon a house agent, who, scenting[Pg 155] a job, eagerly responded: "Dryden—Mr. Dryden—is he behindhand with his rent?" There is a story of an American who lost his way in the vain attempt to discover the residence of Wordsworth. Meeting an old woman in a scarlet cloak who was gathering sticks, he asked her the way to Rydal Mount. She could not tell him. "Not know," said the American, "the house of the great Wordsworth?" "No; but what was he great in? Was he a preacher or a doctor?" "Greater than any preacher or doctor—he is a poet." "Oh, the poet!" she replied; "and why did you not tell me that before? I know who you mean now. I often meet him in the woods, jabbering his pottery (poetry) to hisself. But I'm not afraid of him. He's quite harmless, and almost as sensible as you or me." A Prussian staff-officer was quartered in Goethe's house after Jena. This officer, being afterward much interrogated by the curious as to his impressions of the great man, replied "that he had thoroughly tested the fellow and found that he had nothing but nonsense in his head!" Rogers told Leslie that when the Pleasures of Memory was first published, one of those busy gentlemen, who are vain of knowing everybody, came up to him at a party, and said, "Lady —— is dying to be introduced to the author of the Pleasures of Memory." "Pray, let her live," said Rogers, and with difficulty they made their way through the crowd to the lady. "Mr. Rogers, madam, author of the Pleasures of Memory." "Pleasures of what?" "I felt for my friend," said Rogers.

No doubt the most genuine and grateful rewards which authors have received were those which came to them as surprises, or in overheard responses, unbidden and natural, from the common heart of humanity. Mrs. Broderip reports of her father's pleasure in the immense popularity of his Song of the Shirt, that "what delighted and yet touched him most deeply was, that the poor creatures to whose sorrows and sufferings he had given[Pg 156] such eloquent voice, seemed to adopt its words as their own, by singing them about the streets to a rude air of their own adaptation." Bernard Barton ends a letter descriptive of an endearing girl's village funeral, with telling how "the clergyman, at the close of the service, stated that, by her wish, a little hymn, which was a great favorite with her, would be sung beside her open grave, by the school-children—some five-and-twenty little things—whose eyes and cheeks were red with crying. 'I thought they could never have found tongues, poor things; but once set off, they sang like a little band of cherubs. What added to the effect of it, to me, was that it was a little almost forgotten hymn of my own, written years ago, which no one present, but myself, was at all aware of.'" Goldsmith, in his college career, wrote street ballads, to save himself from starving, sold them for five shillings apiece, and stole out of college at night to hear them sung. "Happy night to him, worth all the dreary days!" exclaims his biographer, Forster. "Hidden by some dusky wall, or creeping within darkling shadows of the ill-lighted streets, this poor, neglected sizer watched, waited, lingered there, for the only effort of his life which had not wholly failed. Few and dull, perhaps, the beggar's audience at first, but more thronging, eager, and delighted, as he shouted forth his newly-gotten ware. Cracked enough, I doubt not, were those ballad-singing tones; very harsh, extremely discordant, and passing from loud to low without meaning or melody; but not the less did the sweetest music which this earth affords fall with them on the ear of Goldsmith."

[Pg 157]



Minds, like some seed-plants, delight in sporting; there is great variety in thinking, but the few great ideas remain the same. They are constantly reappearing in all ages and in all literatures, modified by new circumstances and new uses; though in new dresses, they are still the old originals. Like the virtues, they have great and endless services to perform in this world. Now they appear in philosophy, now in fiction; the moralist uses them, and the buffoon; dissociate them, analyze them, strip them of their innumerable dresses, and they are recognized and identified—the same from the foundation and forever. If a discriminating general reader for forty years had noted their continual reappearance in the tons of books he has perused upon all subjects, he would be astonished at their varied and multiplied uses. Thinkers he would perhaps find more numerous than thoughts; yet of the former how few. The original thought of one age diffuses itself through the next, and expires in commonplace—to be born again when occasion necessitates and God wills. At each birth it is a new creation—to the brain it springs from and to the creatures it is to enlighten and serve. If the writer or speaker could know how often it has done even hack-service in the ages before him, he would repentantly blot it out, or choke in its utterance. In the unpleasant discovery, that indispensable and inspiring quality, self-conceit, would suffer a wound beyond healing.

"The number of those writers who can, with any justness[Pg 158] of expression," says Melmoth, "be termed thinking authors, would not form a very copious library, though one were to take in all of that kind which both ancient and modern times have produced. Epicurus, we are told, left behind him three hundred volumes of his own works, wherein he had not inserted a single quotation; and we have it upon the authority of Varro's own works, that he himself composed four hundred and ninety books. Seneca assures us that Didymus, the grammarian, wrote no less than four thousand; but Origen, it seems, was yet more prolific, and extended his performances even to six thousand treatises. It is obvious to imagine with what sort of materials the productions of such expeditious workmen were wrought up: sound thought and well-matured reflections could have no share, we may be sure, in these hasty performances. Thus are books multiplied, whilst authors are scarce; and so much easier is it to write than to think." "The same man," said Publius Syrus, "can rarely say a great deal and say it to the purpose."

To ridicule the pervading absence of thought in common conversation, the author of Lothair makes Pinto exclaim, "English is an expressive language, but not difficult to master. Its range is limited. It consists, as far as I observe, of four words: 'nice,' 'jolly,' 'charming,' and 'bore;' and some grammarians add, 'fond.'"

Proverbs, old as they are, seem always new, and are always smartly uttered. Sancho Panza is but one of an immortal type, and the proverbs and maxims he was always using are older than the pyramids—as old as spoken language. "The language of Spain," says Bulwer, in Caxtoniana, "is essentially a language of proverbs. In proverbs, lovers woo; in proverbs, politicians argue; in proverbs, you make your bargain with your landlady or hold a conference with your muleteer. The language of Spain is built upon those diminutive relics of[Pg 159] a wisdom that may have existed before the Deluge, as the town of Berlin is built upon strata amassed, in the process of ages, by the animalcules that dwell in their pores." Aristotle was so struck by the condensed wisdom of proverbial sayings, that he supposed them to be the wrecks of an ancient philosophy saved from the ruin in which the rest of the system had been lost by their eloquence and shortness. Pascal conceived that every possible maxim of conduct existed in the world, though no individual can be conversant with the entire series. "There is a certain list of vices committed in all ages, and declaimed against by all authors, which," says Sir Thomas Browne, "will last as long as human nature; which, digested into commonplaces, may serve for any theme, and never be out of date until doomsday." A proverb Lord John Russell has defined to be "the wisdom of the many in the wit of one." "The various humors of mankind," says the elder Disraeli, "in the mutability of human affairs, has given birth to every species; and men were wise, or merry, or satirical, and mourned or rejoiced in proverbs. Nations held an universal intercourse of proverbs, from the eastern to the western world; for we discover among those which appear strictly national many which are common to them all. Of our own familiar ones several may be tracked among the snows of the Latins and the Greeks, and have sometimes been drawn from The Mines of the East; like decayed families which remain in obscurity, they may boast of a high lineal descent whenever they recover their lost title-deeds. The vulgar proverb, 'To carry coals to Newcastle,' local and idiomatic as it appears, however, has been borrowed and applied by ourselves; it may be found among the Persians; in the Bustan of Saadi, we have 'To carry pepper to Hindostan;' among the Hebrews, 'To carry oil to a city of olives;' a similar proverb occurs in Greek; and in Galland's Maxims of[Pg 160] the East we may discover how many of the most common proverbs among us, as well as some of Joe Miller's jests, are of Oriental origin. The resemblance of certain proverbs in different nations must, however, be often ascribed to the identity of human nature; similar situations and similar objects have unquestionably made men think and act and express themselves alike. All nations are parallels of each other. Hence all collectors of proverbs complain of the difficulty of separating their own national proverbs from those which had crept into the language from others, particularly when nations have held much intercourse together. We have a copious collection of Scottish proverbs by Kelly; but this learned man was mortified at discovering that many, which he had long believed to have been genuine Scottish, were not only English, but French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and Greek ones; many of his Scottish proverbs are almost literally expressed among the fragments of remote antiquity. It would have surprised him further had he been aware that his Greek originals were themselves but copies, and might have been found in D'Herbelot, Erpenius, and Golius, and in many Asiatic works, which have been more recently introduced to the enlarged knowledge of the European student, who formerly found his most extended researches limited by Hellenistic lore."

Perhaps the proverb from the apostolical writings in most frequent circulation, is the one which St. Paul has adopted from Menander, and which, as Dean Alford suggests, may have become, in the days of the apostle, a current commonplace: "Evil communications corrupt good manners."

"What stories are new?" asks Thackeray. "All types of all characters march through all fables." "Will it be believed," says Max Müller, in his essay On the Migration of Fables, "that we, in this Christian country, and in the nineteenth century, teach our children the first, the[Pg 161] most important lessons of worldly wisdom, nay, of a more than worldly wisdom, from books borrowed from Buddhists and Brahmans, from heretics and idolaters, and that wise words, spoken a thousand, nay, two thousand years ago, in a lonely village of India, like precious seed scattered broadcast all over the world, still bear fruit a hundred and a thousand fold in that soil which is the most precious before God and man, the soul of a child? No lawgiver, no philosopher has made his influence felt so widely, so deeply, and so permanently as the author of these children's fables. But who was he? We do not know. His name, like the name of many a benefactor of the human race, is forgotten."

"Our obligations to genius are the greater," says a British essayist, "because we are seldom able to trace them. We cannot mount up to the sources from which we derive the ideas that make us what we are. Few of my readers may have ever read Chaucer; fewer still the Principia of Newton. Yet how much poorer the minds of all my readers would be if Chaucer and Newton had never written! All the genius of the past is in the atmosphere we breathe at present."

The author of The Eclipse of Faith, in one of his intellectual visions, saw suddenly expunged—"remorselessly expunged"—from literature "every text, every phrase, which had been quoted from the Bible, not only in the books of devotion and theology, but in those of poetry and fiction." "Never before," he says, "had I any adequate idea of the extent to which the Bible had moulded the intellectual and moral life of the last eighteen centuries, nor how intimately it had interfused itself with the habits of thought and modes of expression; nor how naturally and extensively its comprehensive imagery and language had been introduced into human writings, and most of all where there had been most of genius. A vast portion of literature became instantly[Pg 162] worthless, and was transformed into so much waste paper. It was almost impossible to look into any book of merit, and read ten pages together, without coming to some provoking erasures and mutilations, which made whole passages perfectly unintelligible. Many of the sweetest passages of Shakespeare were converted into unmeaning nonsense, from the absence of those words which his own all but divine genius had appropriated from a still diviner source. As to Milton, he was nearly ruined, as might naturally be supposed. Walter Scott's novels were filled with lacunæ. I hoped it might be otherwise with the philosophers, and so it was; but even here it was curious to see what strange ravages the visitation had wrought. Some of the most beautiful and comprehensive of Bacon's Aphorisms were reduced to enigmatical nonsense."

A scholarly article upon Homeric Characters in and out of Homer, published in The London Quarterly, 1857, opens with this passage: "To one only among the countless millions of human beings has it been given to draw characters, by the strength of his own individual hand, in lines of such force and vigor that they have become from his day to our own the common inheritance of civilized man. That one is Homer. Ever since his time, besides finding his way even into the impenetrable East, he has found literary capital and available stock in trade for reciters and hearers, for authors and readers of all times and of all places within the limits of the western world. Like the sun, which furnishes with its light the courts and alleys of London, while himself unseen by their inhabitants, he has supplied with the illumination of his ideas millions of minds never brought into direct contact with his works, and even millions hardly aware of his existence."

One of the most eminent platform orators of the time has treated the habit of borrowing, in literature, in a[Pg 163] most interesting manner. "Take," he said, "the stories of Shakespeare, who has, perhaps, written his forty-odd plays. Some are historical. The rest, two thirds of them, he did not stop to invent, but he found them. These he clutched, ready-made to his hand, from the Italian novelists, who had taken them before from the East. Cinderella and her Slipper is older than all history, like half a dozen other baby legends. The annals of the world do not go back far enough to tell us from where they first came. Bulwer borrowed the incidents of his Roman stories from legends of a thousand years before. Indeed, Dunloch, who has grouped the history of the novels of all Europe into one essay, says that in the nations of modern Europe there have been two hundred and fifty or three hundred distinct stories. He says at least two hundred of these may be traced, before Christianity, to the other side of the Black Sea. Even our newspaper jokes are enjoying a very respectable old age. Take Maria Edgeworth's essay on Irish bulls and the laughable mistakes of the Irish. The tale which Maria Edgeworth or her father thought the best is that famous story of a man writing a letter as follows: 'My dear friend, I would write you more in detail, more minutely, if there was not an impudent fellow looking over my shoulder reading every word.' ('No, you lie; I've not read a word you have written!') This is an Irish bull, still it is a very old one. It is only two hundred and fifty years older than the New Testament. Horace Walpole dissented from Richard Lovell Edgeworth, and thought the other Irish bull was the best—of the man who said, 'I would have been a very handsome man, but they changed me in the cradle.' That comes from Don Quixote, and is Spanish; but Cervantes borrowed it from the Greek in the fourth century, and the Greeks stole it from the Egyptians hundreds of years back. There is one story which it is said Washington has related of a man who went into[Pg 164] an inn and asked for a glass of drink from the landlord, who pushed forward a wine-glass about half the usual size. The landlord said, 'That glass out of which you are drinking is forty years old.' 'Well,' said the thirsty traveler, contemplating its minute proportions, 'I think it is the smallest thing of its age I ever saw.' [The same story is told of Foote. Dining while in Paris with Lord Stormont, that thrifty Scotch peer, then ambassador, as usual produced his wine in the smallest of decanters, and dispensed it in the smallest of glasses, enlarging all the time on its exquisite growth and enormous age. "It is very little of its age," said Foote, holding up his diminutive glass.] That story as told is given as a story of Athens three hundred and seventy-five years before Christ was born. Why, all these Irish bulls are Greek—every one of them. Take the Irishman who carried around a brick as a specimen of the house he had to sell; take the Irishman who shut his eyes and looked into the glass to see how he would look when he was dead; take the Irishman that bought a crow, alleging that crows were reported to live two hundred years, and he meant to set out and try it; take the Irishman that met a friend who said to him, 'Why, sir, I heard you were dead.' 'Well,' says the man, 'I suppose you see I am not.' 'Oh, no,' says he, 'I would believe the man who told me a great deal quicker than I would you.' Well, these are all Greek. A score or more of them, of the parallel character, come from Athens."

The critics and scholiasts would have us believe that "we have no very credible account of Rome or the Romans for more than four hundred years after the foundation of the city; and that the first book of Livy, containing the regal period, can lay claim, when severely tested, to no higher authority than Lord Macaulay's Lays. Livy states that whatever records existed prior to the burning of Rome by the Gauls—three hundred and sixty-five[Pg 165] years after its foundation—were then burnt or lost. We are left, therefore, in the most embarrassing uncertainty whether Tarquin outraged Lucretia; or Brutus shammed idiotcy, and condemned his sons to death; or Mutius Scævola thrust his hand into the fire; or Curtius jumped into the gulf—if there was one; or Clœlia swam the Tiber; or Cocles defended a bridge against an army. We could fill pages with skeptical doubts of scholiasts, who would fain deprive Diogenes of his lantern and his tub, Æsop of his hump, Sappho of her leap, Rhodes of its Colossus, and Dionysius the First of his ear; nay, who pretend that Cadmus did not come from Phœnicia, that Belisarius was not blind, that Portia did not swallow burning coals, and that Dionysius the Second never kept a school at Corinth. Modern chemists have been unable to discover how Hannibal could have leveled rocks, or Cleopatra dissolved pearls with vinegar. A German pedant has actually ventured to question the purity of Lucretia."

Hayward (translator of Faust), in his article on Pearls and Mock Pearls of History, says, "We are gravely told, on historical authority, by Moore, in a note to one of his Irish Melodies, that during the reign of Bryan, King of Munster, a young lady of great beauty, richly dressed, and adorned with jewels, undertook a journey from one end of the kingdom to another, with a wand in her hand, at the top of which was a ring of exceeding great value; and such was the perfection of the laws and the government that no attempt was made upon her honor, nor was she robbed of her clothes and jewels. Precisely the same story is told of Alfred, of Frothi, King of Denmark, and of Rollo, Duke of Normandy. Another romantic anecdote, fluctuating between two or more sets of actors, is an episode in the amours of Emma, the alleged daughter of Charlemagne, who, finding that the snow had fallen thickly during a nightly interview with her lover, Eginhard,[Pg 166] took him upon her shoulders, and carried him some distance from her bower, to prevent his footsteps from being traced. Unluckily, Charlemagne had no daughter named Emma or Imma; and a hundred years before the appearance of the chronicle which records the adventure, it had been related in print of a German emperor and a damsel unknown. The story of Canute commanding the waves to roll back rests on the authority of Henry of Huntingdon, who wrote about a hundred years after the Danish monarch. 'As for the greater number of the stories with which the ana are stuffed,' says Voltaire, 'including all those humorous replies attributed to Charles the Fifth and Henry the Fourth, to a hundred modern princes, you find them in Athenæus and in our old authors.' Dionysius the tyrant, we are told by Diogenes of Laërte, treated his friends like vases full of good liquors, which he broke when he had emptied them. This is precisely what Cardinal de Retz says of Madame de Chevreuse's treatment of her lovers. There is a story of Sully's meeting a young lady, veiled, and dressed in green, on the back stairs leading to Henry's apartment, and being asked by the king whether he had not been told that his majesty had a fever and could not receive that morning, replied, 'Yes, sire, but the fever is gone; I have just met it on the staircase, dressed in green.' This story is told of Demetrius and his father. The lesson of perseverance in adversity taught by the spider to Robert Bruce is said to have been taught by the same insect to Tamerlane. 'When Columbus,' says Voltaire, 'promised a new hemisphere, people maintained that it did not exist; and when he had discovered it, that it had been known a long time.' It was to confute such detractors that he resorted to the illustration of the egg, already employed by Brunelleschi when his merit in raising the cupola of the cathedral of Florence was contested. The anecdote of Southampton reading The Faery Queen,[Pg 167] whilst Spenser was waiting in the ante-chamber, may pair off with one of Louis XIV. As this munificent monarch was going over the improvements of Versailles with Le Notre, the sight of each fresh beauty or capability tempts him to some fresh extravagance, till the architect cries out that if their promenade is continued in this fashion it will end in the bankruptcy of the state. Southampton, after sending first twenty, and then fifty guineas, on coming to one fine passage after another, exclaims, 'Turn the fellow out of the house, or I shall be ruined.' On the morning of his execution, Charles I. said to his groom of the chambers, 'Let me have a shirt on more than ordinary, by reason the season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some observers will imagine proceeds from fear. I would have no such imputation; I fear not death.' As Bailly was waiting to be guillotined, one of the executioners accused him of trembling. 'I am cold,' was the reply. Frederick the Great is reported to have said, in reference to a troublesome assailant, 'This man wants me to make a martyr of him, but he shall not have that satisfaction.' Vespasian told Demetrius the Cynic, 'You do all you can to get me to put you to death, but I do not kill a dog for barking at me.' This Demetrius was a man of real spirit and honesty. When Caligula tried to conciliate his good word by a large gift in money, he sent it back with the message, 'If you wish to bribe me, you must send me your crown.' George III. ironically asked an eminent divine, who was just returned from Rome, whether he had converted the pope. 'No, sire, I had nothing better to offer him.' Cardinal Ximenes, upon a muster which was taken against the Moors, was spoken to by a servant of his to stand a little out of the smoke of the harquebuse, but he said again that 'that was his incense.' The first time Charles XII. of Sweden was under fire, he inquired what the hissing he heard about his ears was, and being told[Pg 168] that it was caused by the musket-balls, 'Good,' he exclaimed, 'this henceforth shall be my music.' Pope Julius II., like many a would-be connoisseur, was apt to exhibit his taste by fault-finding. On his objecting that one of Michel Angelo's statues might be improved by a few touches of the chisel, the artist, with the aid of a few pinches of marble dust, which he dropped adroitly, conveyed an impression that he had acted on the hint. When Halifax found fault with some passages in Pope's translation of Homer, the poet, by the advice of Garth, left them as they stood, but told the peer that they had been retouched, and had the satisfaction of finding him as easily satisfied as his holiness. When Lycurgus was to reform and alter the state of Sparta, in the consultation one advised that it should be reduced to an absolute popular equality; but Lycurgus said to him, 'Sir, begin it in your own house.' Had Dr. Johnson forgotten this among Bacon's Apophthegms when he told Mrs. Macaulay, 'Madam, I am now become a convert to your way of thinking. I am convinced that all mankind are upon an equal footing, and to give you an unquestionable proof, madam, that I am in earnest, here is a very sensible, civil, well-behaved fellow-citizen, your footman; I desire that he may be allowed to sit down and dine with us'?" Boswell once said, "A man is reckoned a wise man, rather for what he does not say, than for what he says: perhaps upon the whole Limbertongue speaks a greater quantity of good sense than Manly does, but Limbertongue gives you such floods of frivolous nonsense that his sense is quite drowned. Manly gives you unmixed good sense only. Manly will always be thought the wisest man of the two." Corwin, a brilliant wit and humorist of the Sydney Smith stamp, and in his time the greatest of American stump-orators, was often heard to say that his life was a failure, because he had not been, with the public, more successful in serious veins. A friend relates that[Pg 169] he was riding with him one day, when Corwin remarked of a speech made the evening before, "It was very good indeed, but in bad style. Never make the people laugh. I see that you cultivate that. It is easy and captivating, but death in the long run to the speaker." "Why, Mr. Corwin, you are the last man living I expected such an opinion from." "Certainly, because you have not lived so long as I have. Do you know, my young friend, that the world has a contempt for the man that entertains it? One must be solemn—solemn as an ass—never say anything that is not uttered with the greatest gravity, to win respect. The world looks up to the teacher and down at the clown; yet, nine cases out of ten, the clown is the better fellow of the two." Sydney Smith is reported to have said to his eldest brother, a grave and prosperous gentleman: "Brother, you and I are exceptions to the laws of nature. You have risen by your gravity, and I have sunk by my levity." In one of Steele's Tatlers, Sancroft asked the question, why it was that actors, speaking of things imaginary, affected audiences as if they were real; whilst preachers, speaking of things real, could only affect their congregations as with things imaginary. Bickerstaff answered, "Why, indeed, I don't know; unless it is that we actors speak of things imaginary as if they were real, while you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary." This answer, besides being borrowed by Betterton, has been credited to every famous actor since Steele printed it. Every reader of Charles Lamb remembers his amusing essay on the Origin of Roast Pig. The legend of the first act of oyster-eating is enough like it to remind one of it. It is related that a man, walking one day by the shore of the sea, picked up one of those savory bivalves, just as it was in the act of gaping. Observing the extreme smoothness of the interior of the shells, he insinuated his finger that he might feel the shining surface, when suddenly they[Pg 170] closed upon the exploring digit, causing a sensation less pleasurable than he anticipated. The prompt withdrawal of his finger was scarcely a more natural movement than its transfer to his mouth, when he tasted oyster-juice for the first time, as the Chinaman in Elia's essay, having burnt his finger, first tasted cracklin. The savor was delicious,—he had made a great discovery; so he picked up the oyster, forced open the shells, banqueted upon the contents, and soon brought oyster-eating into fashion. Nothing, it is said, puzzled Bonaparte more than to meet an honest man of good sense; he did not know what to make of him. He would offer him money; if that failed, he would talk of glory, or promise him rank and power; but if all these temptations failed, he set him down for an idiot, or a half-mad dreamer. Conscience was a thing he could not understand. Rulhière, who was at St. Petersburg in 1762, when Catherine caused her husband, Peter III., to be murdered, wrote a history of the transaction on his return to France, which was handed about in manuscript. The empress was informed of it, and endeavored to procure the destruction of the work. Madame Geoffrin was sent to Rulhière to offer him a considerable bribe to throw it into the fire. He eloquently remonstrated that it would be a base and cowardly action, which honor and virtue forbade. She heard him patiently to the end, and then calmly replied, "What! isn't it enough?" Lord Orrery related as an unquestionable occurrence that Swift once commenced the service, when nobody except the clerk attended his church, with, "Dearly beloved Roger, the Scripture moveth you and me in sundry places." Mr. Theophilus Swift afterward discovered the anecdote in a jest-book which was published before his great kinsman was born. In Domenichi's Facetiæ, and other old Italian books, there is this story of Dante. The famous poet, returning home one day out of the country, was overtaken by three gentlemen of Florence,[Pg 171] his acquaintance; who, knowing how ready he was in his answers, they all three resolved, by way of proof, to make three successive attacks upon him in the following manner. The first said to him, "Good day, Master Dante;" the second, "Whence come you, Master Dante?" the third, "Are the waters deep, Master Dante?" To all of which, without once stopping his horse, or making the least pause, he answered thus: "Good day, and good year; From the Fair; To the very bottom." Not unlike this is a story of Henry IV. of France, who was overtaken upon the road by a clergyman that was posting to court; the king, putting his head out of his coach, asked the man in his hasty way, "Whence come ye? Whither go ye? What want ye?" The clergyman, without any ceremony or hesitation, made answer: "From Blois; To Paris; A benefice." With which the king was so well pleased, he instantly granted his request. It is related of Raphael, that one day, after he had begun the Galatea, and was already well advanced with it, while he was absent a visitor called to see him. The scaffoldings were around the room preparatory for the other decorations, and the visitor, after looking at the Galatea for a while, mounted the ladder, and with a fragment of charcoal drew a colossal head on the wall beneath the cornice. Raphael did not return, however, and after waiting for some time the visitor departed, refusing to give his name to the servant, but saying, "Show your master that, and he will know who I am." Some time after, Raphael came in, and on inquiring if any one had been there, his servant told him a small black-bearded man had been there and drawn a head on the wall by which he said he would recognize him. Raphael looked up, saw the head, and exclaimed, "Michel Angelo!" A similar story is told of Apelles and Protogenes. It is told by Pliny, and the point of it is, that Apelles, on arriving at Rhodes, immediately went to call upon Protogenes, who was then[Pg 172] living here. Protogenes, however, was absent, and the studio was in charge of an old woman, who, after Apelles had looked at the pictures, asked the name of the visitor to give to her master on his return. Apelles did not answer at first, but observing a large black panel prepared for painting on an easel, he took up a pencil and drew an extremely delicate outline on it, saying, "He will recognize me by this," and departed. On the return of Protogenes, being informed of what had happened, he looked at the outline, and, struck by its extreme delicacy, exclaimed, "That is Apelles—no one else could have executed so perfect a work." An anecdote is told of Sir George Beaumont going in a coach to a tavern with a party of gay young men. The waiter came to the coach door with a light, and as he was holding this up to the others, those who had already got out went round, and getting in at the opposite coach-door came out again, so that there seemed to be no end to the procession, and the waiter ran into the house, frightened out of his wits. The same story is told of Swift and four clergymen dressed in canonicals. "Men of the world," says Goldsmith, in one of the papers of the Bee, "maintain that the true end of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them." How often, said Irving, is this quoted as one of the subtle remarks of the fine-witted Talleyrand! Every one remembers another familiar witty repartee attributed to the latter. When seated between Madame de Staël and Madame Récamier, and pouring forth gallantry, first at the feet of one, then of the other, Madame de Staël suddenly asked him if she and Madame Récamier fell into the river, which of the two he would save first? "Madame," replied Talleyrand, "you could swim!" This pretty reply has been matched by Mrs. Jameson with one far prettier, and founded on it. Prince S. was one day loitering on the banks of the Isar, in the English garden at Munich, by the side of the beautiful[Pg 173] Madame de V., then the object of his devoted admiration. For a while he had been speaking to her of his mother, for whom he had ever shown the strongest filial love and respect. Afterward, as they wandered on, he began to pour forth his soul to the lady of his love with all the eloquence of passion. Suddenly she turned and said to him, "If your mother and myself were both to fall into this river, whom would you save first?" "My mother," he instantly replied; and then, looking at her expressively, immediately added, "To save you first, would be as if I were to save myself first." There is yet another variation. Captain Morgan, with whom Leslie crossed the Atlantic, had a good story apropos to everything that happened, and Leslie has preserved a specimen of his amusing inventions. Single ladies often cross the water under the especial care of the captain of the ship, and if a love affair occurs among the passengers, the captain is usually the confidant of one or both parties. A very fascinating young lady was placed under Morgan's care, and three young gentlemen fell desperately in love with her. They were all equally agreeable, and the young lady was puzzled which to encourage. She asked the captain's advice. "Come on deck," he said, "the first day when it is perfectly calm,—the gentlemen will, of course, all be near you. I will have a boat quietly lowered down; then do you jump overboard, and see which of the gentlemen will be the first to jump after you. I will take care of you." A calm day soon came, the captain's suggestion was followed, and two of the lovers jumped after the lady at the same instant. But between these two the lady could not decide, so exactly equal had been their devotion. She again consulted the captain. "Take the man that didn't jump; he's the most sensible fellow, and will make the best husband." A sculptor relates an incident of General Scott, of whom he once made a bust. Having a fine subject to start with, he succeeded[Pg 174] in giving great satisfaction. At the last sitting he attempted to refine and elaborate the lines and markings of the face. The general sat patiently; but when he came to see the result, his countenance indicated decided displeasure. "Why, sir, what have you been doing?" he asked. "Oh," answered the sculptor, "not much, I confess; I have been working out the details of the face a little more, this morning." "Details?" exclaimed the general warmly; "—— the details! Why, man, you are spoiling the bust!" Sir Joshua Reynolds once went with one of his pupils to see a celebrated painting. After viewing it for a while, the young man gave it as his deliberate opinion that the picture "needed finishing." "Finishing?" exclaimed Sir Joshua, a little impatiently; "finishing would only spoil the painting." Judge Rodgers related a death-bed incident of a neighbor of his,—a poor honest Scotsman, a woodsawyer,—whose admiration and solace, all through his hard life, had been Scotia's great poet. The good man, worn out and weary, was told by his physician that his last hour had come—that he must soon die. He received the announcement philosophically, and after naming a few things for which he expressed a desire to live, he said to the judge—about the last thing he said on earth, "Yes; for these things I should like to live; but—but—judge—(they had many a time read the poet together)—I shall see—Burns!" Socrates, upon receiving sentence of death, said, amongst other things, to his judges, "Is this, do you think, no happy journey? Do you think it nothing to speak with Orpheus, Musæus, Homer, and Hesiod?" "Shakespeare's Joan of Arc," says Hayward, "is a mere embodiment of English prejudice; yet it is not much further from the truth than Schiller's transcendental and exquisitely poetical character of the maid. The German dramatist has also idealized Don Carlos to an extent that renders recognition difficult; and he has[Pg 175] flung a halo round William Tell which will cling to the name while Switzerland is a country or patriotism any better than a name. Yet more than a hundred years ago the eldest son of Haller undertook to prove that the legend, in its main features, is the revival or imitation of a Danish one, to be found in Saxo Grammaticus. The canton of Uri, to which Tell belonged, ordered the book to be publicly burnt, and appealed to the other cantons to coöperate in its suppression, thereby giving additional interest and vitality to the question, which has been at length pretty well exhausted by German writers. The upshot is that the episode of the apple is relegated to the domain of the fable; and that Tell himself is grudgingly allowed a commonplace share in the exploits of the early Swiss patriots. Strange to say, his name is not mentioned by any contemporary chronicler of the struggle for independence. Sir A. Callcott's picture of Milton and his Daughters, one of whom holds a pen as if writing to his dictation, is in open defiance of Dr. Johnson's statement that the daughters were never taught to write. There is the story of Poussin impatiently dashing his sponge against his canvas, and producing the precise effect (the foam on a horse's mouth) which he had been long and vainly laboring for; and there is a similar one told of Haydn, the musical composer, when required to imitate a storm at sea. He kept trying all sorts of passages, ran up and down the scale, and exhausted his ingenuity in heaping together chromatic intervals and strange discords. Still Curtz (the author of the libretto) was not satisfied. At last the musician, out of all patience, extended his hands to the two extremities of the keys, and, bringing them rapidly together, exclaimed, 'The deuce take the tempest; I can make nothing of it.' 'That is the very thing,' exclaimed Curtz, delighted with the truth of the representation. Neither Haydn nor Curtz had ever seen the sea. Sir David Brewster, in his[Pg 176] life of Newton, says that neither Pemberton nor Whiston, who received from Newton himself the history of his first ideas of gravity, records the story of the falling apple. It was mentioned, however, to Voltaire by Catherine Barton, Newton's niece, and to Mr. Green by Mr. Martin Folkes, the President of the Royal Society. 'We saw the apple-tree in 1814, and brought away a portion of one of its roots.' The concluding remark reminds us of Washington Irving's hero, who boasted of having parried a musket bullet with a small sword, in proof of which he exhibited the sword a little bent in the hilt. The apple is supposed to have fallen in 1665. Father Prout (Mahony) translated several of the Irish Melodies into Greek and Latin verse, and then jocularly insinuated a charge of plagiarism against the author. Moore was exceedingly annoyed, and remarked to a friend who made light of the trick, 'This is all very well for your London critics; but, let me tell you, my reputation for originality has been gravely impeached in the provincial newspapers on the strength of these very imitations.'" Dr. Johnson's Latin translation of the Messiah was published in 1731, and Pope is reported to have said, "The writer of this poem will leave it a question for posterity, whether his or mine be the original." Trench, in a note to one of his Hulsean lectures, says, "There is a curious account of a fraud which was played off on Voltaire, connecting itself with a singular piece of literary forgery. A Jesuit missionary, whose zeal led him to assume the appearance of an Indian fakir, in the beginning of the last century forged a Veda, of which the purport was secretly to undermine the religion which it professed to support, and so to facilitate the introduction of Christianity—to advance, that is, the kingdom of truth with a lie. This forged Veda is full of every kind of error or ignorance in regard to the Indian religion. After lying, however, long in a Romanist missionary college at Pondicherry, it found[Pg 177] its way to Europe, and a transcript of it came into the hands of Voltaire, who eagerly used it for the purpose of depreciating the Christian books, and showing how many of their doctrines had been anticipated by the wisdom of the East. The book had thus an end worthy of its beginning."

Wendell Phillips, in his lecture upon the Lost Arts, made some remarkable statements, to prove the superiority of the ancients in many things. "In every matter," he said, "that relates to invention—to use, or beauty, or form—we are borrowers. You may glance around the furniture of the palaces of Europe, and you may gather all these utensils of art or use, and when you have fixed the shape and forms in your mind, I will take you into the Museum of Naples, which gathers all remains of the domestic life of the Romans, and you shall not find a single one of these modern forms of art, or beauty, or use, that was not anticipated there. We have hardly added one single line or sweep of beauty to the antique.... I had heard that nothing had been observed in ancient times which could be called by the name of glass; that there had been merely attempts to imitate it. In Pompeii, a dozen miles south of Naples, which was covered with ashes eighteen hundred years ago, they broke into a room full of glass; there was ground glass, window glass, cut glass, and colored glass of every variety. It was undoubtedly a glass-makers factory.... Their imitations of gems deceived not only the lay people, but the connoisseurs were also cheated. Some of these imitations in later years have been discovered. The celebrated vase of the Geneva cathedral was considered a solid emerald. The Roman Catholic legend of it was that it was one of the treasures that the Queen of Sheba gave to Solomon, and that it was the identical cup out of which the Saviour ate the Last Supper. Columbus must have admired it. It was venerable in his day; it was death at that time for[Pg 178] anybody to touch it but a Catholic priest. And when Napoleon besieged Genoa it was offered by the Jews to loan the senate three millions of dollars on that single article as security. Napoleon took it and carried it to France, and gave it to the Institute. In a fool's night, somewhat reluctantly, the scholars said, 'It is not a stone; we hardly know what it is.' Cicero said he had seen the entire Iliad, which is a poem as large as the New Testament, written on skin so that it could be rolled up in the compass of a nut-shell. Now this is imperceptible to the ordinary eye. You have seen the Declaration of Independence in the compass of a quarter of a dollar, written with the aid of glasses. I have a paper at home as long as half my hand, on which was photographed the whole contents of a London newspaper. It was put under a dove's wing and sent into Paris, where they enlarged it and read the news. That copy of the Iliad must have been made by some such process.... You may visit Dr. Abbott's Museum, where you will see the ring of Cheops. Bunsen puts him at five hundred years before Christ. The signet of the ring is about the size of a quarter of a dollar, and the engraving is invisible without the aid of glasses. No man was ever shown into the cabinet of gems in Italy without being furnished with a microscope to look at them. It would be idle for him to look at them without one. He couldn't appreciate the delicate lines and the expression of the faces. If you go to Parma, they will show you a gem once worn on the finger of Michel Angelo, of which the engraving is two thousand years old, on which there are the figures of seven women. You must have the aid of a glass in order to distinguish the forms at all. I have a friend who has a ring, perhaps three quarters of an inch in diameter, and on it is the naked figure of the god Hercules. By the aid of glasses you can distinguish the interlacing muscles, and count every separate hair on the eyebrows. Layard says he would be unable[Pg 179] to read the engravings on Nineveh without strong spectacles, they are so extremely small. Rawlinson brought home a stone about twenty inches long and ten inches wide, containing an entire treatise on mathematics. It would be perfectly illegible without glasses. Now, if we are unable to read it without the aid of glasses, you may suppose the man who engraved it had pretty good spectacles. So the microscope, instead of dating from our time, finds its brothers in the Books of Moses—and these are infant brothers." Speaking of colors, he said, "The burned city of Pompeii was a city of stucco. All the houses are stucco outside, and it is stained with Tyrian purple—the royal color of antiquity. But you can never rely on the name of a color after a thousand years, so the Tyrian purple is almost a red. This is a city of all red. It had been buried seventeen hundred years, and, if you take a shovel now and clear away the ashes, this color flames up upon you a great deal richer than anything we can produce. You can go down into the narrow vault which Nero built him as a retreat from the great heat, and you will find the walls painted all over with fanciful designs in arabesque, which have been buried beneath the earth fifteen hundred years; but when the peasants light it up with their torches, the colors flash out before you as fresh as they were in the days of St. Paul. Page, the artist, spent twelve years in Venice, studying Titian's method of mixing his colors, and he thinks he has got it. Yet come down from Titian, whose colors are wonderfully and perfectly fresh, to Sir Joshua Reynolds, and, although his colors are not yet a hundred years old, they are fading; the color on his lips is dying out, and the cheeks are losing their tints. He did not know how to mix well. And his mastery of color is as yet unequaled.... The French have a theory that there is a certain delicate shade of blue that Europeans cannot see. In one of his lectures to his students, Ruskin opened his Catholic mass-book and said,[Pg 180] 'Gentlemen, we are the best chemists in the world. No Englishman ever could doubt that. But we cannot make such a scarlet as that, and even if we could, it would not last for twenty years. Yet this is five hundred years old.' The Frenchman says, 'I am the best dyer in Europe; nobody can equal me, and nobody can surpass Lyons.' Yet in Cashmere, where the girls make shawls worth thirty thousand dollars, they will show him three hundred distinct colors which he not only cannot make but cannot even distinguish.... Mr. Colton, of the Boston Journal, the first week he landed in Asia, found that his chronometer was out of order from the steel of the works having become rusted. The London Medical and Surgical Journal advises surgeons not to venture to carry any lancets to Calcutta; to have them gilded, because English steel could not bear the atmosphere of India. Yet the Damascus blades of the Crusades were not gilded, and they are as perfect as they were eight centuries ago.... If a London chronometer-maker wants the best steel to use in his chronometer, he does not send to Sheffield, the centre of all science, but to the Punjaub, the empire of the five rivers, where there is no science at all.... Scott, in his Crusaders, describes a meeting between Richard Cœur de Lion and Saladin. Saladin asks Richard to show him the wonderful strength for which he is famous, and the Norman monarch responds by severing a bar of iron which lies on the floor of the tent. Saladin says, 'I cannot do that;' but he takes an eider-down pillow from the sofa, and drawing his keen blade across it, it falls in two pieces. Richard says, 'This is the black art; it is magic; it is the devil; you cannot cut that which has no resistance;' and Saladin, to show him that such is not the case, takes a scarf from his shoulders, which is so light that it almost floats in the air, and, tossing it up, severs it before it can descend. George Thompson saw a man in Calcutta throw a handful of floss silk into the[Pg 181] air, and a Hindoo sever it into pieces with his sabre.... Mr. Batterson, of Hartford, walking with Brunel, the architect of the Thames Tunnel, in Egypt, asked him what he thought of the mechanical power of the Egyptians, and he said, 'There is Pompey's Pillar; it is one hundred feet high, and the capital weighs two thousand pounds. It is something of a feat to hang two thousand pounds at that height in the air, and the few men that can do it would better discuss Egyptian mechanics.'... We have only just begun to understand ventilation properly for our houses, yet late experiments at the pyramids in Egypt show that those Egyptian tombs were ventilated in the most perfect and scientific manner. Again, cement is modern, for the ancients dressed and jointed their stones so closely that in buildings thousands of years old the thin blade of a penknife cannot be forced between them. The railroad dates back to Egypt. Arago has claimed that they had a knowledge of steam. Bramah acknowledges that he took the idea of his celebrated lock from an ancient Egyptian pattern. De Tocqueville says there was no social question that was not discussed to rags in Egypt."

Humboldt, in his Cosmos, states that the Chinese had magnetic carriages with which to guide themselves across the great plains of Tartary, one thousand years before our era, on the principle of the compass. The Romans used movable types to mark their pottery and indorse their books. Layard found in Nineveh a magnifying lens of rock crystal, which Sir David Brewster considers a true optical lens, and the origin of the microscope. Experiments foreshadowing photography, giving remarkable results, began to be made more than three centuries ago, and more than two and a half centuries before Daguerre. The principle of the stereoscope, invented by Professor Wheatstone, was known to Euclid, described by Galen fifteen hundred years ago, and more fully long afterward[Pg 182] in the works of Giambattista Porta. The Thames Tunnel, thought such a novelty, was anticipated by that under the Euphrates at Babylon.

"It is usually attributed to Aristotle, indeed, as his peculiar glory," says an authority on mental philosophy, "that he should at once have originated, and brought to perfection, a science which, for more than two thousand years, has received few alterations, found few minds capable of suggesting improvements. Recent labors of Orientalists have, however, brought to light the fact that in India, long before the palmy days of Grecian philosophy, logic was pursued with vigor as a study and science. The Nyâya of Gotama holds, in the Indian systems of philosophy, much the same place the Organon of Aristotle holds with us. The two, however, are quite independent of each other. Aristotle was no disciple of Gotama."

The so-called modern manifestations of spiritualism, as table-turning and direct spirit-writing, have been practiced in China from time immemorial; they have been known there at least from the days of Lao-tse, and he was an aged man when Confucius was a youth, between five and six centuries before the Christian era. Those who have read the travels in Thibet of the two Lazarite monks, Huc and Gabet, will recall many illustrations of spiritualism from their pages; and here, too, as in China, these practices date from a very remote time. M. Tscherpanoff published, in 1858, at St. Petersburg, the results of his investigations with the Lamas of Thibet. He attests (having been a witness in one or two cases) "that the Lamas, when applied to for the recovery of stolen or hidden things, take a little table, put one hand on it, and after nearly half an hour the table is lifted up by an invisible power, and is (with the hand of the Lama always on it) carried to the place where the thing in question is to be found, whether in or out of doors, where it drops,[Pg 183] generally indicating exactly the spot where the article is to be found." Mesmerism is not new. Amongst Egyptian sculptures are people in the various attitudes which mesmerism in modern times induces. The Hebrews knew something of this science, for Baalam manifestly consulted a clairvoyant—a man in a "trance with his eyes open." The Greeks also had a knowledge of it. In Taylor's Plato it is said a man appeared before Aristotle in the Lyceum, who could read on one side of a brazen shield what was written on the other. The Romans were not ignorant of it, for Plautus, in one of his plays, asks, "What, and although I were by my continual slow touch to make him as if asleep?"

As to social science, here is the germ of Fourierism, in the Confessions of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, fifteen hundred years before Fourier: "And many of us friends, conferring about and detesting the turbulent turmoil of human life, had debated and now almost resolved on living apart from business and the bustle of men; and this was to be thus obtained: we were to bring whatever we might severally possess, and make one household of all; so that through the truth of our friendship nothing should belong especially to any, but the whole, thus derived from all, should as a whole belong to each, and all to all. We thought there might be some ten persons in this society; some of us very rich, especially Romanianus, our townsman, from childhood a very familiar friend of mine, whom the grievous perplexities of his affairs had brought up to court. He was the most earnest for this project; and his voice was of great weight, because his ample estate far exceeded any of the rest. We had settled, also, that two annual officers, as it were, should provide all things necessary, the rest being undisturbed. But when we began to consider whether the wives, which some of us already had, and others hoped to have, would allow this, all that plan, which was being so well moulded, fell to[Pg 184] pieces in our hands, and was utterly dashed and cast aside. Thence we betook us to sighs and groans, and to follow the broad and beaten ways of the world."

In this beautiful passage from the Gulistan, or Rose Garden, of Saadi, written more than seven centuries ago, will be found an incomparable recipe for a famous hot-weather drink, much affected by Americans. Heliogabalus would have given a slice of his empire for that one immortal cobbler. "I recollect," says the poet, "that in my youth, as I was passing through a street, I cast my eyes on a beautiful girl. It was in the autumn, when the heat dried up all moisture from the mouth, and the sultry wind made the marrow boil in the bones; so that, being unable to support the sun's powerful beams, I was obliged to take shelter under the shade of a wall in hopes that some one would relieve me from the distressing heat of summer, and quench my thirst with a draught of water. Suddenly from the shade of the portico of a house I beheld a female form, whose beauty it is impossible for the tongue of eloquence to describe; insomuch that it seemed as if the dawn was rising in the obscurity of night, or as if the water of immortality was issuing from the land of darkness. She held in her hand a cup of snow-water, into which she sprinkled sugar, and mixed it with the juice of the grape. I know not whether what I perceived was the fragrance of rose-water, or that she had infused into it a few drops from the blossom of her cheek. In short, I received the cup from her beauteous hand, and drinking the contents, found myself restored to new life. The thirst of my heart is not such that it can be allayed with a drop of pure water; the streams of whole rivers would not satisfy it. How happy is that fortunate person whose eyes every morning may behold such a countenance. He who is intoxicated with wine will be sober again in the course of the night; but he who is intoxicated by the cup-bearer will not recover his senses until the day of judgment."

[Pg 185]

Cicero maintained the doctrine of universal brotherhood as distinctly as it was afterward maintained by the Christian Church. "Men were born," he says, "for the sake of men, that each should assist the others.... Nature ordains that a man should wish the good of every man, whoever he may be, for this very reason, that he is a man.... Nature has inclined us to love men, and this is the foundation of the law." Marcus Aurelius crystallized the "idea" of free government in one remarkable passage: "The idea of a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed." And here is the idea of forgiveness of injuries, by Epictetus: "Every man has two handles, one of which will bear taking hold of, the other not. If thy brother sin against thee, lay not hold of the matter by this, that he sins against thee: for by this handle the matter will not bear taking hold of. But rather lay hold of it by this, that he is thy brother, thy born mate; and thou wilt take hold of it by what will bear handling." Here, too, is the idea of the Golden Rule, by Confucius, five hundred years before our era: "To have enough empire over one's self, in order to judge of others by comparison with ourselves, and to act toward them as we would wish that one should act toward us—that is what we can call the doctrine of humanity. There is nothing beyond it." And this is the prayer claimed to have been in use by religious Jews for nearly four thousand years, found by our Lord, improved by Him, and adopted for the use of Christians in all time: "Our Father who art in Heaven, be gracious unto us! O Lord our God, hallowed be thy name, and let the remembrance of Thee be glorified in heaven above and in the earth here below! Let thy kingdom rule over us now and forever! Remit and forgive unto all men whatever[Pg 186] they have done against me! And lead us not into the power (hands) of temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For thine is the kingdom, and thou shalt reign in glory forever and ever more." Now hear the saying of King Solomon—wiser than Confucius, or Cicero, or Marcus Aurelius, or Epictetus, or any rabbi: "The thing that hath been is that which shall be, and there is no new thing under the sun."

[Pg 187]



"How contradictory it seems," remarked Washington Irving, writing of Oliver Goldsmith, "that one of the most delightful pictures of home and homefelt happiness should be drawn by a homeless man; that the most amiable picture of domestic virtue and all the endearments of the married state should be drawn by a bachelor who had been severed from domestic life almost from boyhood; that one of the most tender, touching, and affecting appeals on behalf of female loveliness should have been made by a man whose deficiencies in all the graces of person and manner seemed to mark him out for a cynical disparager of the sex." Byron thought it contradictory that the ancients, in their mythology, should have represented Wisdom by a woman, and Love by a boy. "Don't you know," urged Sydney Smith, "as the French say, there are three sexes—men, women, and clergymen?" In the old church at Hatfield, in England, amongst the antiquities, there is a recumbent statue, which every one believed was a woman, till Flaxman, the sculptor, examined it, and satisfied himself that it was a priest. Madame De Staël's Delphine was thought to contain a representation of Talleyrand in the character of an old woman. On her pressing for his opinion of that work, he said, "That is the work—is it not?—in which you and I are exhibited in the disguise of females?" Bulwer seemed to Harriet Martineau "a woman of genius, inclosed by misadventure in a man's form." A lady, speaking of the works of the poet Thomson,[Pg 188] observed that she could gather from his writings three parts of his character: that he was an ardent lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously abstinent. Savage, to whom the remark was addressed, assured her that, in regard to the first, she was altogether mistaken; for the second, his friend was perhaps never in cold water in his life; and as to the third, he indulged in every luxury that came within his reach. Holmes states, in the preface to Elsie Venner, that while the story was in progress, he received the most startling confirmation of the possibility of the existence of a character like that he had drawn as a purely imaginary conception. Mrs. Hawthorne said that men who had committed great crimes, or whose memories held tragic secrets, would sometimes write to her husband, or even come great distances to see him, and unburden their souls. This was after the publication of The Scarlet Letter, which made them regard him as the father confessor for all hidden sins. The Swedenborgians informed Poe that they had discovered all that he said in a magazine article, entitled Mesmeric Revelations, to be absolutely true, although at first they were very strongly inclined to doubt his veracity,—a thing which, in that particular instance, he never dreamed of not doubting himself. Lord Lansdowne and Sydney Smith, with a companion or two, went incognito to Deville, the phrenologist in the Strand, to have their characters read from their skulls, and were most perversely interpreted. Lord Lansdowne was pronounced to be so absorbed in generalization as to fail in all practical matters, and Sydney Smith to be a great naturalist—"never so happy as when arranging his birds and fishes." "Sir," said the divine, with a stare of comical stupidity, "I don't know a fish from a bird;" and the chancellor of the exchequer was conscious that "all the fiddle-faddle of the cabinet" was committed to him on account of his love of what he called practical business. Crabb Robinson, on[Pg 189] one of his visits to the British Gallery, where a collection of English portraits was exhibited, was displeased to see the name of the hated Jeffreys put to a "dignified and sweet countenance, that might have conferred new grace on some delightful character." Consistently enough with the delineation of the portrait, Evelyn recorded in his Memoirs that he "saw the Chief Justice Jeffreys in a large company the night before, and that he thought he laughed, drank, and danced too much for a man who had that day condemned Algernon Sidney to the block." An eminent gentleman who inspected the portraits of Luther and Melancthon, as they appear on their monuments in Wittenberg, describes the countenance of the latter as "acute and sarcastic." "Had subtlety and craft been his qualities, I should have thought the portrait expressed them." It is related of one of the philanthropists of France, who at one time held no insignificant place in the government, that when a distracted wife, who had pleaded to him in vain for her husband's life, in retiring from his presence, chanced to tread on his favorite spaniel's tail, he exclaimed, "Good heavens, madame, have you, then, no humanity?" In the palace Doria, said Willis, there is a portrait of "a celebrated widow" (so called in the catalogue) by Vandyck,—a "had-been beautiful woman, in a staid cap, with hands wonderfully painted." The custodian told the visitor that it was "a portrait of the wife of Vandyck, painted as an old woman to mortify her excessive vanity, when she was but twenty-three. He kept the picture until she was older, and, at the time of his death, it had become a flattering likeness, and was carefully treasured by the widow." Lavater, in his Physiognomy, says that Lord Anson, from his countenance, must have been a very wise man. Horace Walpole, who knew Lord Anson well, said he was the most stupid man he ever knew. Until a few years ago, it is stated, a portrait at Holland House was prescriptively reverenced as a[Pg 190] speaking likeness of Addison, and a bust was designed after it by a distinguished sculptor. It turns out to be the copy of a portrait of a quite different person from the "great Mr. Addison."

Many a famous name, it has been truly said, has been indebted for its brightest lustre to things which were flung off as a pastime, or composed as an irksome duty, whilst the performances upon which the author most relied or prided himself have fallen still-born or been neglected by posterity. Thus Petrarch, who trusted to his Latin poems for immortality, mainly owes it to the Sonnets, which he regarded as ephemeral displays of feeling or fancy of the hour. Thus Chesterfield, the orator, the statesman, the Mæcenas and Petronius of his age, and (above all) the first viceroy who ventured on justice to Ireland, is floated down to our times by his familiar Letters to his Son. Thus Johnson, the Colossus of Literature, were he to look up or down (to adopt the more polite hypothesis), would hardly believe his eyes or ears, on finding that Bozzy, the snubbed and suppressed, yet ever elastic and rebounding Bozzy, is the prop, the bulwark, the key-stone of his fame; "the salt which keeps it sweet, the vitality which preserves it from putrefaction." We have it upon the authority of old Thomas Fuller, that "when a French printer complained that he was utterly undone by printing a solid, serious book of Rabelais concerning physic, Rabelais, to make him recompense, made that his jesting, scurrilous work, which repaired the printer's loss with advantage." "It was impossible to tell beforehand," said Northcote to Hazlitt, "what would hit the public. You might as well pretend to say what ticket would turn up a prize in the lottery. It was not chance neither, but some unforeseen coincidence between the subject and the prevailing taste, that you could not possibly be a judge of. I had once painted two pictures—one of a Fortune-teller (a boy with a monkey)[Pg 191] and another called The Visit to the Grandmother; and Raphael Smith came to me and wanted to engrave them, being willing to give a handsome sum for the first, but only to do the last as an experiment. He sold ten times as many of the last as of the first, and told me that there were not less than five different impressions done of it in Paris; and once, when I went to his house, to get one to complete a set of engravings after my designs, they asked me six guineas for a proof impression! This was too much, but I was delighted that I could not afford to pay for my own work, from the value that was set upon it." Cervantes, who was fifty-eight when he published the first part of Don Quixote, had, like Fielding, "written a considerable number of indifferent dramas which gave no indication of the immortal work which afterward astonished and delighted the world. He was the author of several tales, for which even his subsequent fame can procure very few readers, and would certainly have been forgotten if the lustre of his masterpiece had not shed its light upon everything which belonged to him. It was not till he was verging upon three-score that he hit upon the happy plan which was to exhibit his genius, and which nothing previously sufficed to display. Fielding was equally ignorant of his province. Writing for a subsistence, trying everything by turns, having the strongest interest in discovering how he could lay out his powers to the best advantage, he mistook his road, and only found it by chance. If Pamela had never existed, it is more than possible that English literature might have wanted Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones, and Amelia." Scott's conversation about his own productions, as recorded by Moore in his Diary, is curious, showing that he rather stumbled upon his talent than cultivated it originally. "Had begun Waverley long before, and then thrown it by, until having occasion for some money (to help his brother, I think), he bethought himself of it, but[Pg 192] could not find the MSS." When he did, "made 3,000 pounds by Waverley."

It is set down as a striking commentary upon the taste of his contemporaries that Hogarth's six pictures of Marriage à la Mode were sold for nineteen pounds and six shillings, though fifty years afterward they brought one thousand three hundred and eighty pounds. The manuscript of Robinson Crusoe ran through the whole trade, nor would any one print it, though the writer, De Foe, was in good repute as an author. The bookseller who risked the publication was a speculator, not remarkable for discernment. The Vicar of Wakefield lay unpublished for two years after the publisher, Newberry, was importuned by Dr. Johnson to pay sixty pounds for it to save the author from distress. Paradise Lost made a narrow escape. Sterne found it hard to find a publisher for Tristram Shandy. The sermon in it, he says in the preface to his Sermons, was printed by itself some years before, but could find neither purchasers nor readers. When it was inserted in his eccentric work, with the advantage of Trim's fine reading, it met with a most favorable reception, and occasioned the others to be collected. Cowper's first volume of poems was published by Johnson, and fell dead from the press. Author and publisher were to incur equal loss. Cowper begged Johnson to forgive him his debt, and this was done. In return, Cowper sent Johnson his Task, saying: "You behaved generously to me on a former occasion; if you think it safe to publish this new work, I make you a present of it." Johnson published it. It became popular. The former volume was then sold with it. The profits to the publisher, it is said, were at least fifty thousand dollars. Cooper says that the first volume of The Spy was actually printed several months before he felt a sufficient inducement to write a line of the second. As the second volume, he says, was slowly printing, from manuscript[Pg 193] that was barely dry when it went into the compositor's hands, the publisher intimated that the work might grow to a length that would consume the profits. To set his mind at rest, the last chapter was actually written, printed, and paged, several weeks before the chapters which preceded it were even thought of. The Culprit Fay, we are told by the biographer of Drake, was composed hastily among the Highlands of the Hudson, in the summer of 1819. The author was walking with some friends on a warm moonlight evening, when one of the party remarked that it would be difficult to write a fairy poem, purely imaginative, without the aid of human characters. When the party was reassembled two or three days afterward, The Culprit Fay was read to them, nearly as it is now printed. Drake placed a very modest estimate on his own productions, and it is believed that but a small portion of them have been preserved. When on his death-bed, a friend inquired of him what disposition he would have made of his poems. "Oh, burn them," he replied; "they are quite valueless." Written copies of a number of them were, however, in circulation, and some had been incorrectly printed in the periodicals; and for this reason was published the single collection of them which has appeared. A mere rumor that Erasmus' Colloquies had got into the Index Expurgatorius, sold an impression of four-and-twenty thousand copies, and made the fortune of the publisher. Fénelon's Adventures of Telemachus, which had hitherto remained in manuscript, was given to the world by the dishonesty of a servant who had been employed to have the work copied, but who sold it to a bookseller without disclosing the author's name. The king, having been told that it was from the pen of the Archbishop of Cambrai, and probably sharing an unfounded suspicion then current, that the book was a satire on the court, took measures to suppress it; but a few copies escaped seizure, and an imperfect[Pg 194] edition was printed in Holland in 1699. Others followed rapidly, and for a long time the press was unable to keep up with the public demand. Sir Matthew Hale wrote four volumes in folio, "three of which I have read," says Baxter, "against atheism, Sadduceeism, and infidelity, to prove first the Deity, and then the immortality of man's soul, and then the truth of Christianity and the Holy Scripture, answering the infidel's objections against Scripture. It is strong and masculine, only too tedious for impatient readers. He said he wrote it only at vacant hours in his circuits, to regulate his meditations, finding, that while he wrote down what he thought on, his thoughts were the easier kept close to work, and kept in a method. But I could not persuade him to publish them."

One is tempted to speculate upon the books that never were published. As some of the best books have been written in prison or captivity, so some of like quality may have perished with their unfortunate authors. If so many great authors, like Dryden and Cervantes, and Le Sage and Spenser, almost starved, barely procuring a pittance for their published works, how many good works may not, in despair, have been destroyed by their authors. If so many great works were accidentally discovered in manuscript, how many as great may have perished in that form. "The Romans wrote their books either on parchment or on paper made of the Egyptian papyrus. The latter, being the cheapest, was, of course, the most commonly used. But after the communication between Europe and Egypt was broken off, on account of the latter having been seized upon by the Saracens, the papyrus was no longer in use in Italy or in other European countries. They were obliged, on that account, to write all their books upon parchment, and as its price was high, books became extremely rare, and of great value. We may judge of the scarcity of materials for writing them[Pg 195] from one circumstance. There still remain several manuscripts of the eighth, ninth, and following centuries, written on parchment, from which some former writing had been erased, in order to substitute a new composition in its place. In this manner, it is probable, several books of the ancients perished. A book of Livy, or of Tacitus, might be erased, to make room for the legendary tale of a saint, or the superstitious prayers of a missal." Truly, a resurrection of the unpublished, to say the least, would expose an interesting mass of intellectual novelties. The book-tasters, wise as they think themselves, are very far from being unerring in their estimates of brain values, and better things than they have approved may have gone into the basket. The weather or bad chirography may have damned many a production of genius. The rejection of an article for a quarterly may have snuffed out the most promising talents. It is possible that some charitable reformer may have discovered a way to fuse sects and harmonize Christians, but was prevented from showing it to the world by the stupidity of printers!

The most wonderful and sublime things in nature and art are rarely appreciated at first view. Every visitor is disappointed at the first sight of Niagara. Mountains are not appreciated till we have dwelt long among them. Goethe was at first disturbed and confused by the impression which Switzerland produced on him. Only after repeated visits, he said, only in later years, when he visited those mountains as a mineralogist merely, could he converse with them at his ease. The sea is but a dead, monotonous waste, till we come to feel its immensity and power. London is but a great town till we have wandered in it, lost ourselves in it, studied it, in fine, till we have found it too great to be comprehended, when its marvelous proportions are expanded into a nation, and it is accepted as one of the great powers of the world. "The longer one stays in London," said a temporary resident,[Pg 196] "the more it seems a mockery to say anything about it." "I remember," says an American traveler, "having read a glorious description of Milan cathedral, and a few days later I saw the temple myself. To my first view it was only a large marble church, fronting on an unpleasant square, and adorned with indistinct spires. I was shocked with disappointment. But when I spent a fortnight at Milan, and studied the cathedral in every light and through every part, I then saw that the description was far inadequate to the actuality." "When the visitor," says Hillard, "has passed into the interior of St. Peter's, and so far recovered from the first rush of tumultuous sensations which crowd upon him as to be able to look about him, he will be struck with, and, if not forewarned, disappointed at, the apparent want of magnitude." But he will find that the windows of the church are never opened, it is so immense as well as so complete; that it has its own atmosphere, and needs no supply from the world without; that the most zealous professor of ventilation would admit that there was no work for him to do here. "When we dream of the climate of heaven, we make it warmth without heat, and coolness without cold, like that of St. Peter's." It has been mentioned as a remarkable quality in Coleridge's mind that edifices excited little interest in him. "On his return from Italy, and after having resided for some time in Rome, I remember," says Cottle, "his describing to me the state of society; the characters of the popes and the cardinals; the gorgeous ceremonies, with the superstitions of the people; but not one word did he utter concerning St. Peter's, the Vatican, or the numerous antiquities of the place. I remember to have been with Mr. Coleridge at York on our journey into Durham, to see Mr. Wordsworth. After breakfast at the inn, perceiving Mr. C. engaged, I went out alone, to see the York minster, being in the way detained in a bookseller's shop. In the meantime, Mr. C., having missed me, set off in[Pg 197] search of me. Supposing it probable that I was gone to the minster, he went up to the door of that magnificent structure, and inquired of the porter, whether such an individual as myself had gone in there. Being answered in the negative, he had no further curiosity, not even looking into the interior, but turned away to pursue his search! so that Mr. C. left York without beholding, or wishing to behold, the chief attraction of the city, or being at all conscious that he had committed, by his neglect, high treason against all architectural beauty!" Northcote mentioned a conceited painter of the name of Edwards, who went with Romney to Rome, and when they got into the Sistine chapel, turning round to him, said, "Egad, George! we're bit!" "Raphael's Transfiguration," says Willis, "is agreed to be the finest picture in the world. I had made up my mind to the same opinion from the engravings of it, but was painfully disappointed in the picture. I looked at it from every corner of the room, and asked the custodian three times if he was sure this was the original. The color offended my eye, blind as Raphael's name should make it, and I left the room with a sigh, and an unsettled faith in my own taste, that made me seriously unhappy. My complacency was restored a few hours after on hearing that the wonder was entirely in the drawing—the colors having quite changed with time." Sir Joshua Reynolds says he was informed by the keeper of the Vatican that many of those whom he had conducted through the various apartments of that edifice, when about to be dismissed, had asked for the works of Raphael, and would not believe that they had already passed through the rooms where they are preserved. "I remember very well," he says, "my own disappointment when I first visited the Vatican. All the indigested notions of painting which I had brought with me from England were to be totally done away with and eradicated from my mind. It was necessary, as it is expressed on a very solemn occasion,[Pg 198] that I should become as a little child. Nor does painting in this respect differ from other arts. A just and poetical taste, and the acquisition of a nice, discriminative musical ear, are equally the work of time. Even the eye, however perfect in itself, is often unable to distinguish between the brilliancy of two diamonds, though the experienced jeweler will be amazed at its blindness." "The musician by profession," said Goethe, "hears, in an orchestral performance, every instrument, and every single tone, whilst one unacquainted with the art is wrapped up in the massive effect of the whole. A man merely bent upon enjoyment sees in a green or flowery meadow only a pleasant plain, whilst the eye of a botanist discovers an endless detail of the most varied plants and grasses." Gainsborough says that an artist knows an original from a copy, by observing the touch of the pencil; for there will be the same individuality in the strokes of the brush as in the strokes of a pen. "Those who can at once distinguish between different sorts of handwriting are yet often astonished at the possession of the faculty when it is exercised upon pictures. No engraver, in like manner, can counterfeit the style of another. His brethren of the craft would not only immediately detect the forgery, but would recognize the distinctive strokes of the forger."

Hogarth and Reynolds, it is said, could not do each other justice. Hogarth ranked Reynolds very low as a painter. Johnson said "Tristram Shandy did not last;" and Goldsmith noticed the faults of Sterne only. They may each have looked with some feeling of envy to the far greater immediate success than either of themselves had enjoyed; but it does not follow that Hogarth, Johnson, and Goldsmith were so dishonest as to deny the existence of the excellences they saw. Unfortunately, persons engaged in the same departments of literature or art generally dislike one another. It is one of the drawbacks of genius. Voltaire and Rousseau hated each[Pg 199] other; Fielding despised Richardson; Petrarch, Dante; Michel Angelo sneered at Raphael; but fortunately their reputations did not depend upon one another. Envy and hatred aside, it was impossible for them to judge one another justly; they were too near. A painter once confessed to Dr. Johnson that no professor of the art ever loved a person who pursued the same craft. The whole class of underlings who fed at the table of Smollett, and existed by his patronage, traduced his character and abused his works; and, as they were no less treacherous to one another than to their benefactor, each was eager to betray the rest to him. At the beginning of the last century, says Southey, books which are now justly regarded as among the treasures of English literature, which are the delight of the old and the young, the learned and the unlearned, the high and the low, were then spoken of with contempt; the Pilgrim's Progress as fit only for the ignorant and the vulgar, Robinson Crusoe for children; if any one but an angler condescended to look into Izaak Walton, it must be for the sake of finding something to laugh at. It will never be forgotten, in the history of English poetry, that, with a generous and just though impatient sense of indignation, Collins, as soon as his means enabled him, repaid the publisher of his poems the price which he had received for their copyright, indemnified him for the loss in the adventure, and committed the remainder, which was by far the greater part of the impression, to the flames. But it should also be remembered that in the course of one generation these poems, without any adventitious aids to bring them into notice, were acknowledged to be the best of their kind in the language. The very existence of the works of William Dunbar has been mentioned as a signal proof of the immortality of real merit; for we know not at what precise time he was born, nor when he died, and his very name is not, with one solitary exception, to be[Pg 200] met with in the whole compass of English literature for two hundred years; nor was it till after the lapse of three centuries that his poems were collected and published—to secure him the reputation, among his own countrymen, of being one of the greatest of Scotland's poets. This neglect or inability to acknowledge contemporary genius was humorously hinted at by Coleridge in one of his lectures. The lecture being extemporaneous, he now and then took up scraps of paper on which he had noted the leading points of his subject, and made use of books that were about him for quotation. On turning to one of these (a work of his own), he said, "As this is a secret which I confided to the public a year or two ago, and which, to do the public justice, has been very faithfully kept, I may be permitted to read you a passage from it."

Tom Taylor's anecdote of Bott, the barrister, illustrates the uncertainty of literary recognition. Bott occupied the rooms opposite to Goldsmith's in Brick Court; he lent the needy author money, drove him in his gig to the Shoemakers' Paradise, eight miles down the Edgeware Road, and occasionally periled both their necks in a ditch. Reynolds painted this good-natured barrister, who runs a better chance of reaching posterity in that gig of his alongside of Goldsmith, than by virtue of the Treatise on the Poor Laws which Goldsmith is said to have written up for him. And as if the uncertainty of literary fame were not great enough, authors themselves sometimes strive to increase it by most extraordinary means. You remember Southey's attempt to hoax Theodore Hook regarding the authorship of The Doctor. At Hook's death a packet of letters was found addressed to him, as the author of The Doctor, and acknowledging presentation copies—one from Southey among the rest. They had been forwarded from the publisher, and were intended, it is presumed, if they were intended for anything, as a trap[Pg 201] for Hook's vanity. Sydney Smith positively denied all connection with the Plymley Letters in one edition, and published them in a collection of his acknowledged works some months after. Sir Walter Scott, being taxed at a dinner-table as the author of Old Mortality, not only denied being the author, but said to Murray, the publisher, who was present, "In order to convince you that I am not the author, I will review the book for you in the Quarterly,"—which he actually did, and Murray retained the manuscript after Sir Walter's death.

The novelty of a real work of genius is sufficient to decry it with the incredulous public. All new things, much out of the ordinary way, must make a struggle for existence. It is but the way of the world. The Jesuits of Peru introduced into Protestant England the Peruvian bark; but being a remedy used by Jesuits, the Protestant English at once rejected the drug as the invention of the devil. Paracelsus introduced antimony as a valuable medicine; he was prosecuted for the innovation, and the French Parliament passed an act making it a penal offense to prescribe it. Dr. Groenvelt first employed cantharides internally, and no sooner did his cures begin to make a noise, than he was at once committed to Newgate by warrant of the President of the College of Physicians. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu first introduced into England the practice of inoculation for the small-pox, by which malady she had lost an only brother and her own fine eye-lashes. She applied the process, after earnest examination, to her only son, five years old; and on her return to England, the experiment was tried, at her suggestion, on five persons under sentence of death. The success of the trial did not prevent the most violent clamors against the innovation. The faculty predicted unknown disastrous consequences, the clergy regarded it as an interference with Divine Providence, and the common people were taught to look upon her as an unnatural[Pg 202] mother, who had imperiled the safety of her own child. Although she soon gained influential supporters, the obloquy which she endured was such as to make her sometimes repent her philanthropy. Jenner, who introduced the still greater discovery of vaccination, was treated with ridicule and contempt, and was persecuted, prosecuted, and oppressed by the Royal College of Physicians. After nearly twenty years of patient and sagacious study and experiment, he went to London to communicate the process to the profession, and to endeavor to procure its general adoption. His reception was disheartening in the extreme. Not only did the doctors refuse to make trial of the process, but the discoverer was accused of an attempt to "bestialize" his species by introducing into the system diseased matter from a cow's udder; vaccination was denounced from the pulpit as "diabolical," and the most monstrous statements respecting its effects upon the human system were disseminated and believed. Early in the fourteenth century a law was passed making it a capital offense to burn coal within the precincts of London. In the reign of Edward I. a man was actually executed for the commission of the crime. The prejudice continued to the close of the sixteenth century. Not more than three quarters of a century ago, an ambassador at Paris issued cards for a large party, and found, to his dismay, that only gentlemen attended, the ladies having absented themselves on hearing that his lordship warmed his house by means of English coal. The use of forks was at first much ridiculed in England; in one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays, "your fork-carving traveler" is spoken of very contemptuously; and Ben Jonson has also ridiculed them in one of his comedies. "On the invention of scissors," says Voltaire, "what was not said of those who pared their nails and cut off some of their hair that was hanging down over their noses? They were undoubtedly considered as prodigals and coxcombs, who[Pg 203] bought at an extravagant price an instrument just calculated to spoil the work of the Creator. What an enormous sin to pare the horn which God himself made to grow at our fingers' ends! It was absolutely an insult to the Divine Being himself. When shirts and stockings were invented, it was far worse. It is well known with what warmth and indignation the old counselors, who had never worn socks, exclaimed against the youthful magistrates who encouraged so dreadful and fatal a luxury." The fashion of plaiting shirts began in Rabelais' time; and it was said that the gathers were fit for nothing but to harbor lice and fleas. Robespierre's first important cause was a defense of the introduction of Franklin's lightning-rods against the charge of impiety. When threshing-machines were first introduced into England, there was such an opposition to them, and arson became so common in consequence, that such farmers as had them were obliged to surrender them, or expose them broken on the high-road. The fashion of wearing boots with pointed toes was supposed to have been peculiarly offensive to the Almighty, and was believed by many to have been the cause of the black death, which carried off, it is estimated, in six years, twenty-five millions, or a fourth part of the population of Europe. Another opinion, we are informed, gained ground, that the Jews were responsible for the ravages of the plague. It was claimed that the Rabbi of Toledo had sent out a venomous mixture concocted of consecrated wafers and the blood of Christian hearts to the various congregations, with orders to poison the wells. The Pope himself undertook to plead for their innocency, but even papal bulls were powerless to stay the popular madness. In Dekkendorf a church was built in honor of the massacre of the Jews of that town, and the spot thus consecrated has remained a favorite resort of pilgrims down to the present time.

Amongst the curiosities of literature is "a narrative[Pg 204] extracted from Luther's writings, of the dialogue related by Luther himself to have been carried on between him and the devil, who, Luther declares, was the first who pointed out to him the absurdity and evil of private mass. Of course it is strongly pressed upon the pious reader that even Luther himself confesses that the Father of Lies was the author of the Reformation; and a pretty good story is made out for the Catholics." John Galt, in his Life of Wolsey, says, "Those pious Presbyterians, who inveigh against cards as the devil's books, are little aware that they were an instrument in the great work of the Reformation. The vulgar game about that time was the devil and the priest; and the skill of the players consisted in preserving the priest from the devil; but the devil in the end always got hold of him."

Mighty means indeed trifles have sometimes proved. The foolish ballad of Lilli Burlero, treating the Papists, and chiefly the Irish, in a very ridiculous manner, slight and insignificant as it now seems, had once a more powerful effect than the Philippics of either Demosthenes or Cicero; it contributed not a little toward the great revolution in 1688; the whole army and the people in country and city caught it up, and "sang a deluded prince out of three kingdoms." Percy has preserved the ballad in his Reliques, but who remembers the air? My Uncle Toby, it seems, was about the last to whistle it.

The most popular song ever written in the British Islands, that of Auld Lang Syne, is anonymous, and we know no more of the author of the music than we do of the author of the words. Much of Burns' great fame rests upon this song, in which his share amounts only to a few emendations. The Last Rose of Summer is said to be made up in great part of an old Sicilian air, originating nobody knows when. Old Hundred, they say, was constructed out of fragments as old as music itself—strains that are as immortal as the instinct of music.[Pg 205] Home, Sweet Home was written in a garret in the Palais Royal, Paris, when poor Payne was so utterly destitute and friendless that he knew not where the next day's dinner was to come from. It appeared originally in a diminutive opera called Clari, the Maid of Milan. The opera is seldom seen or heard of now, but the song grows nearer and dearer as the years roll away. More than once the unfortunate author, walking the lonely streets of London or Paris amid the storm and darkness, hungry, houseless, and penniless, saw the cheerful light gleaming through the windows of happy homes, and heard the music of his own song drifting out upon the gloomy night to mock the wanderer's heart with visions of comfort and of joy, whose blessed reality was forever denied to him. Home, Sweet Home was written by a homeless man. Lamartine, in his History of the Girondists, has given an account of the origin of the French national air, the Marseillaise. In the garrison of Strasburg was quartered a young artillery officer, named Rouget de l'Isle. He had a great taste for music and poetry, and often entertained his comrades during their long and tedious hours in the garrison. Sought after for his musical and poetical talent, he was a frequent and familiar guest at the house of one Dietrich, an Alsacian patriot, mayor of Strasburg. The winter of 1792 was a period of great scarcity at Strasburg. The house of Dietrich was poor, his table was frugal, but a seat was always open for Rouget de l'Isle. One day there was nothing but bread and some slices of smoked ham on the table. Dietrich, regarding the young officer, said to him with sad serenity, "Abundance fails at our boards; but what matters that, if enthusiasm fails not at our civic fêtes, nor courage in the hearts of our soldiers. I have still a last bottle of wine in my cellar. Bring it," said he to one of his daughters, "and let us drink France and Liberty! Strasburg should have its patriotic solemnity. De l'Isle must draw from these[Pg 206] last drops one of those hymns which raise the soul of the people." The wine was brought and drank, after which the officer departed. The night was cold. De l'Isle was thoughtful. His heart was moved, his head heated. He returned, staggering, to his solitary room, and slowly sought inspiration, sometimes in the fervor of his citizen soul, and anon on the keys of his instrument, composing now the air before the words, and then the words before the air. He sang all and wrote nothing, and at last, exhausted, fell asleep, with his head resting on his instrument, and woke not till day-break. The music of the night returned to his mind like the impression of a dream. He wrote it, and ran to Dietrich, whom he found in the garden, engaged with his winter lettuces. The wife and daughters of the old man were not up. Dietrich awoke them, and called in some friends, all as passionate as himself for music, and able to execute the composition of De l'Isle. At the first stanza, cheeks grew pale; at the second, tears flowed; and at last, the delirium of enthusiasm burst forth. The wife of Dietrich, his daughters, himself, and the young officer threw themselves, crying, into each other's arms. The hymn of the country was found. Executed some days afterward in Strasburg, the new song flew from city to city, and was played by all the popular orchestras. Marseilles adopted it to be sung at the commencement of the sittings of the clubs, and the Marseillaise spread it through France, singing it along the public roads. From this came the name of Marseillaise. It was the song for excited men under the fiery impulse of liberty. Those melodies for little children, just as immortal, owe their existence to circumstances just as accidental. We mean the melodies of Mother Goose. The story of this Iliad of the nursery is told as follows: The mother-in-law of Thomas Fleet, the editor, in 1731, of the Boston Weekly Rehearsal, was the original Mother Goose—the Mother[Pg 207] Goose of the world-famous melodies. Mother Goose belonged to a wealthy family in Boston, where her eldest daughter, Elizabeth Goose, was married by Cotton Mather, in 1715, to Fleet, and in due time gave birth to a son. Like most mothers-in-law in our own day, the importance of Mrs. Goose increased with the appearance of her grandchild, and poor Mr. Fleet, half distracted with her endless nursery ditties, finding all other means fail, tried what ridicule could effect, and actually printed a book, with the title "Songs for the Nursery, or Mother Goose's Melodies for Children, printed by T. Fleet, at his printing house, Pudding Lane, Boston. Price, ten coppers." Mother Goose was the mother of nineteen children, and hence we may easily trace the origin of that famous classic, "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe; she had so many children she didn't know what to do."

As to the plays of the stage, we all know how some of them have gradually, in the long years, grown to be there, from additions by actors and managers, so wholly different from what they are in literature, that in important parts they would hardly be recognized as the same. Sheridan's Critic, with the numerous "gags" by Jack Bannister, King, Miss Pope, Richard Jones, Liston, Mrs. Gibbs, Charles Mathews, and other great actors, is a famous instance of the kind. And as to playing, Mathews says it is possible for a man, absurd as it may seem, to obtain favor with the public by merely attending to the mechanical portion of the profession, without any exertion of his intellect beyond committing his words to memory, and speaking to his "cues" at the right moment and with the proper emphasis. He gives a remarkable illustration of this strange possibility. When Douglas Jerrold's play of the Bubbles of the Day was produced at Covent Garden Theatre, there was a long-experienced actor, standing exceedingly well with the public, and an undoubted favorite,[Pg 208] who played one of the parts so admirably that he met with unqualified success with the audience, and was a prominent feature in the piece, highly praised by the press, and complimented by the author himself, as having perfectly embodied his conception. After the play had run for some ten or fifteen nights, he one day came to Mathews and asked him as a favor that he would let him have the manuscript of the piece for a short time. Certainly, said Mathews; but what do you want it for? Why, said he, I was unfortunately absent from the reading; and I have not the slightest idea what it is about, or who and what I am in it. He had literally, according to Mathews, played his part admirably for many nights to the gratification of the public, the press, and the author; and he had never even had the curiosity to inquire in what way he was mixed up with the plot. He had seized the instructions given him by Jerrold during the rehearsals, and adopted his suggestions so correctly that he was able to fulfill all the requirements of the character assigned to him without the least idea of what he was doing, or of the person whom he represented. So it would seem that ignorance is not always a hinderance to success; on the contrary, it is sometimes the very foundation of what passes for knowledge. Take the wise doctor's remedies. They are adopted for the number that recover who use them, not for the numbers that die, who used them also. "The sun gives light to their success, and the earth covers their failures." "If your physician," says Montaigne, "does not think it good for you to sleep, to drink wine, or to eat such and such meats, never trouble yourself; I will find you another that shall not be of his opinion." Heine, during the eight years he lay bed-ridden with a kind of paralysis, read all the medical books which treated of his complaint. "But," said he to some one who found him thus engaged, "what good this reading is to do me I don't know, except that it will qualify me to give lectures in heaven on the[Pg 209] ignorance of doctors on earth about diseases of the spinal marrow." What is often accepted as high moral truth is only a small part of what the philosopher has thought—the result less of faith than of skepticism; the two being in about the proportion of Falstaff's bread to his sack.

To get away from the ideal to the physical, what can at first blush be so absurd as the climatic changes believed by some to be produced by railroads? The desert of Western America has been transformed into a fertile plain: the railroad, they say, has brought rain. No element, we are told, was wanting in the earth itself, nor was aught in excess to enforce sterility, but everywhere there was drought. In the hot dust nothing grew but stunted hardy grass and sage brush. All seemed desolation and utter hopelessness. Wherever irrigation was tried, its success exceeded expectation in developing an almost miraculous productiveness in the soil. No enthusiast dared, however, to dream of the possibility of artificial irrigation over all that enormous expanse. Rivers entering there would soon have been drunk up by the thirsty earth and sky. Yet man's work, it would seem, has irrigated that whole desert by unexpected means. The railroad brought rain. Year by year, since the Union Pacific Railroad has been operated through, the rain-fall had steadily increased until the summer of 1873, when it became, to the operators of the road, a positive nuisance. Icicles, paradoxical as it may seem, are formed, science tells us, by the process of freezing in sunshine hot enough to melt snow, blister the human skin, and even, when concentrated, to burn up the human body itself. They result from the fact that air is all but completely transparent to the heat rays emitted by the sun—that is, such rays pass through the air without warming it. Only the scanty fraction of rays to which air is not transparent expend their force in raising its temperature. In the Alps, Tyndall tells us, when the liquefaction is copious and the[Pg 210] cold intense, icicles grow to an enormous size. Over the edges (mostly the southern edges) of the chasms hangs a coping of snow, and from this depend, like stalactites, rows of transparent icicles, ten, twenty, thirty feet long, constituting one of the most beautiful features of the higher crevasses. An icicle would be incomprehensible if we did not know that the solar beams may pass through the air, and still leave it at an icy temperature. One of the contradictions of ice is, that, formed at a temperature of twenty-five to thirty degrees Fahrenheit, it is as different from that which is formed when the temperature has ranged for some time between ten degrees and one degree, as chalk is from granite. The ice at the lower temperature is dense and hard as flint. It strikes fire at the prick of a skate. In St. Petersburg, in 1740, when masses of it were turned and bored for cannon, though but four inches thick, they were loaded with iron cannon-balls and a charge of a quarter of a pound of powder, and fired without explosion.

The warm-blooded, fur-covered cat is just as contradictory—in one peculiarity at least. Gilbert White says, "There is a propensity belonging to common house-cats that is very remarkable; that is, their violent fondness for fish, which appears to be their most favorite food: and yet nature in this instance seems to have planted in them an appetite that, unassisted, they know not how to gratify; for of all quadrupeds cats are the least disposed toward water; and will not, when they can avoid it, deign to wet a foot, much less to plunge into that element." And there is quite as curious a fact pertaining to the rat. Naturalists say that his propensity to gnaw must not be attributed altogether to a reckless determination to overcome impediments. The never-ceasing action of his teeth is not a pastime, but a necessity of his existence. The ceaseless working of his incisors against some hard substance is necessary to keep them down, and if he did not gnaw for[Pg 211] his subsistence he would be compelled to gnaw to prevent his jaw being gradually locked by their rapid development. And there is the tortoise. The same delightful naturalist we have quoted had a pet one, of whose habits he made many curious notes. He says no part of its behavior ever struck him more than the extreme timidity it always expressed with regard to rain; for though it had a shell that would secure it against the wheel of a loaded cart, yet did it discover as much solicitude about rain as a lady dressed in all her best attire, shuffling away on the first sprinklings, and running its head up in a corner.

But man, at last, is the creature fullest of contradictions, and his vanity is at the bottom of most of them. "What a sensible and agreeable companion is that gentleman who has just left us," said the famous Charles Townshend to the worthy and sensible Fitzherbert; "I never passed an evening with a more entertaining acquaintance in my life." "What could entertain you? the gentleman never opened his lips." "I grant you, my dear Fitz, but he listened faithfully to what I said, and always laughed in the right place." Darwin, speaking of one of his walks in New Zealand, says, "I should have enjoyed it more, if my companion, the chief, had not possessed extraordinary conversational powers. I knew only three words—'good,' 'bad,' and 'yes;' and with these I answered all his remarks, without, of course, having understood one word he said. This, however, was quite sufficient; I was a good listener, an agreeable person, and he never ceased talking to me." John Chester was a delightful companion to Coleridge, on the same principle. This Chester, says Hazlitt, was one of those who was attracted to Coleridge's discourse as flies are to honey, or bees in swarming-time to the sound of a brass pan. He gave Hazlitt his private opinion, though he rarely opened his lips, that Coleridge was a wonderful man! "He followed Coleridge into Germany, where the Kantian philosophers were puzzled[Pg 212] how to bring him under any of their categories. When he sat down at table with his idol, John's felicity was complete; Sir Walter Scott's, or Blackwood's, when they sat down at the table with the king, was not more so. Once he was astonished," continues Hazlitt, "that I should be able to suggest anything to Coleridge that he did not already know!" "Demosthenes Taylor, as he was called (that is, the editor of Demosthenes), was the most silent man," said Dr. Johnson to Boswell, "the merest statue of a man, that I have ever seen. I once dined in company with him, and all he said during the whole time was not more than Richard. How a man should say only Richard, it is not easy to imagine. But it was thus: Dr. Douglass was talking of Dr. Zachary Grey, and was ascribing to him something that was written by Dr. Richard Grey. So, to correct him, Taylor said (imitating his affected sententious emphasis and nod) 'Richard.'" "Demosthenes" must have been "a sensible and agreeable companion." That one word was to the point, and was more effective than a dozen would have been to a man like Johnson. Two words, however, if we are to believe the story chronicled by John of Brompton of the mother of Thomas à Becket, performed a still more memorable service. His father, Gilbert à Becket, was taken prisoner during one of the Crusades by a Syrian emir, and held for a considerable period in a kind of honorable captivity. A daughter of the emir saw him at her father's table, heard him converse, fell in love with him, and offered to arrange the means by which both might escape to Europe. The project only partly succeeded; he escaped, but she was left behind. Soon afterward, however, she contrived to elude her attendants, and after many marvelous adventures by sea and land arrived in England, knowing but two English words, "London" and "Gilbert." By constantly repeating the first, she was directed to the city; and there, followed by a mob, she walked for months from street to[Pg 213] street, crying as she went, "Gilbert! Gilbert!" She at last came to the street in which her lover lived. The mob and the name attracted the attention of a servant in the house; Gilbert recognized her; and they were married! But there remains one to be spoken of who gained immortal reputation for his sayings, who may be said to have never said anything at all of his own. Joe Miller, whose name as a wit is now current wherever the English language is spoken, was, when living, himself a jest for dullness. According to report, Miller, who was an excellent comic actor, but taciturn and saturnine, "was in the habit of spending his afternoons at the Black Jack, a well-known public-house in London, which at that time was frequented by the most respectable tradesmen in the neighborhood, who from Joe's imperturbable gravity, whenever any risible saying was recounted, ironically ascribed it to him. After his death, having left his family unprovided for, advantage was taken of this badinage. A Mr. Motley, a well-known dramatist of that day, was employed to collect all the stray jests then current on the town. Joe Miller's name was affixed to them, and from that day to this the man who never uttered a jest has been the reputed author of every jest."

[Pg 214]



Swift left some thoughts on various subjects—acute and profound—which it would appear were jotted down at different periods of life, and in different humors. In his most prosperous days, when he dreamed of becoming a bishop, he might have written hopefully, "No wise man ever wished to be younger." At a much later time in life he might have written, sagely and sadly, "Every man desireth to live long, but no man would be old." We can imagine that he wrote the former just after he received the deanery of St. Patrick, and the latter just after he returned from the walk in the neighborhood of Dublin, referred to by the author of Night Thoughts. "Perceiving he did not follow us," says Young, "I went back, and found him fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm, which in its uppermost branches was much decayed. Pointing at it, he said, 'I shall be like that tree; I shall die at the top.'"

Bolingbroke, writing to Swift, says, "It is now six in the morning; I recall the time—and am glad it is over—when about this hour I used to be going to bed surfeited with pleasure, or jaded with business; my head often full of schemes, and my heart as often full of anxiety. Is it a misfortune, think you, that I rise at this hour refreshed, serene, and calm: that the past and even the present affairs of life stand like objects at a distance from me, where I can keep off the disagreeable, so as not to be strongly affected by them, and from whence I can draw the others nearer to me?"

[Pg 215]

De Foe moralizes in memorable language: "I know too much of the world to expect good in it, and have learned to value it too little to be concerned at the evil. I have gone through a life of wonders, and am the subject of a vast variety of providences. I have been fed more by miracles than Elijah when the ravens were his purveyors. I have some time ago summed up the scenes of my life in this distich:—

'No man has tasted differing fortunes more;
And thirteen times I have been rich and poor.'

In the school of affliction I have learnt more philosophy than at the academy, and more divinity than from the pulpit. In prison I have learnt that liberty does not consist in open doors and the egress and regress of locomotion. I have seen the rough side of the world as well as the smooth; and have in less than half a year tasted the difference between the closet of a king and the dungeon of Newgate. I have suffered deeply for cleaving to principles, of which integrity I have lived to say, none but those I suffered for ever reproached me with."

We are told by Middleton that "before Cicero left Sicily, at the end of his term as quæstor, he made the tour of the island, to see everything in it that was curious, and especially the city of Syracuse, which had always made the principal figure in its history. Here his first request to the magistrates, who were showing him the curiosities of the place, was to let him see the tomb of Archimedes, whose name had done so much honor to it; but to his surprise, he perceived that they knew nothing at all of the matter, and even denied that there was any such tomb remaining; yet as he was assured of it beyond all doubt, by the concurrent testimony of writers, and remembered the verses inscribed, and that there was a sphere with a cylinder engraved on some part of it, he would not be dissuaded from the pains of searching it out. When they had carried him, therefore, to the gate[Pg 216] where the greatest number of their old sepulchres stood, he observed, in a spot overgrown with shrubs and briers, a small column, whose head just appeared above the bushes, 'with the figure of a sphere and a cylinder upon it; this, he presently told the company, was the thing they were looking for; and sending in some men to clear the ground of the brambles and rubbish, he found the inscription also which he expected, though the latter part of all the verses was effaced. Thus,' says he, 'one of the noblest cities of Greece, and once likewise the most learned, had known nothing of the monument of its most deserving and ingenious citizen, if it had not been discovered to them by a native of Arpinum.'"

Anaxagoras knew the short memory of the people, and chose a happy way to lengthen it, and at the same time to perpetuate himself. When the chief persons of the city paid him a visit, and asked him whether he had any commands for them, he answered that he only desired that children might be permitted to play every year during the month in which he died. His request was respected, and the custom continued for ages.

"Ruins," in the impressive language of Alger, "symbolize the wishes and fate of man; the weakness of his works, the fleetingness of his existence. Who can visit Thebes, in whose crowded crypts, as he enters, a flight of bats chokes him with the dust of disintegrating priests and kings; see the sheep nibbling herbage between the fallen cromlechs of Stonehenge; or confront a dilapidated stronghold of the Middle Ages, where the fox looks out of the window and the thistle nods on the wall, without thinking of these things? They feelingly persuade him what he is.... Tyre was situated of old at the entry of the sea, the beautiful mistress of the earth, haughty in her purple garments, the tiara of commerce on her brow. Now the dust has been scraped from her till she has become a blistered rock, whereon the solitary[Pg 217] fisher spreads his nets. A few tattered huts stand among shapeless masses of masonry where glorious Carthage stood; the homes of a few husbandmen where voluptuous Corinth once lifted her splendid array of marble palaces and golden towers. Many a nation, proud and populous in the elder days of history, like Elephanta, or Memphis, is now merely a tomb and a shadowy name. Pompeii and Herculaneum are empty sepulchres, which that fatal flight before the storm of ashes and lava cheated of their occupants; the traveler sees poppies blooming in the streets where chariots once flashed.... Tigers foray in the palace yards of Persepolis, and camels browse in Babylon on the site of Belshazzar's throne; at Baalbec, lizards overrun the altars of the Temple of the Sun, and in the sculptured friezes, here the nests of obscene birds, there the webs of spiders."

"The Roman Emperor Hadrian," philosophizes Hillard, "after many years of care and conquest, with a marked taste for architecture, and the resources of the whole civilized world at his command, resolved to surround his declining life with reproductions of all the striking objects which he had seen in the course of his world-wide wanderings. He selected for the site of this gigantic enterprise a spot singularly favorable to his objects. It was a range of gently undulating hills, of about three miles in extent, with a natural boundary, formed in part by a winding valley, and partly by walls of rock. On the east, it was overlooked by the wooded heights of the Sabine Mountains; and, on the west, it commanded a view of the Campagna and the Eternal City, whose temples and obelisks, relieved against the golden sky of sunset, must have soothed the mind of its imperial master with thoughts of duties performed and of repose, earned by toil. The natural inequalities and undulations of the site, which furnished heights, plains, valleys, and glens, aided and lightened the tasks of the architect and the landscape[Pg 218] gardener. The emperor is said to have inclosed a space of eight or ten miles in circuit, so that, if the statement were true, the villa and its appurtenances occupied an area greater than that of Pompeii. Here he set to work with armies of laborers and mountains of gold, and, in an incredibly short space of time, the ground was covered with an amazing number of costly and extensive structures, which had risen like exhalations from the soil. Besides the imperial palace, there was a library, an academy, a lyceum, numerous temples, one or more theatres, a covered walk or portico, and spacious barracks for the accommodation of the Prætorian guards. Besides these, a glen through which a stream flowed was made into a miniature likeness of the vale of Tempe; a flowery plain was called by the name of the Elysian Fields; and an immense cavern, filled with sunless waters, recalled the gloom of Tartarus.... The ruins, at the present time, seen hastily and without the interpretation of an intelligent guide, are a confused mass of decay, revealing very little of their former destination or structure.... A considerable portion of the space formerly occupied by the villa is now under cultivation, and nature, aided by a soft sky and a productive soil, has been busy in healing the gaping wounds of time, and covering unsightly ruin with a mantle of bloom and beauty.... The whole scene is now a broad page on which is stamped an impressive lesson of the vanity of human wishes. The great emperor, even while his last workmen were gathering up their tools to depart, was attacked by a mortal disease; and, seventy years after his death, Caracalla began the work of spoliation by carrying off its most costly marbles to decorate the baths whose ruins are in turn monuments to his name in Rome. A recent French traveler states that a species of syringa, which Hadrian brought from the East and planted here, still sheds its fragrance over these ruins; this delicate and fragile flower, a part of the perennial[Pg 219] life of Nature, remaining faithful to the emperor's memory, while stone, marble, and bronze have long since betrayed their trust."

"Neither the troubles, Zenobia," mused La Bruyère, "which disturb your empire, nor the war which since the death of the king, your husband, you have so heroically maintained against a powerful nation, diminish anything of your magnificence. You have preferred the banks of the Euphrates to any other country, and resolved to raise a stately fabric there. The air is healthful and temperate; the situation charming; that sacred wood makes an awful shade on the west; the Syrian gods, who sometimes dwell on earth, could not choose a finer abode. The plain about it is peopled with men who are constantly employed in shaping and cutting, going and coming, transporting the timber of Lebanon, brass, and porphyry. Their tools and engines are heard in the air; and the travelers who pass that way to Arabia expect on their return home to see it finished with all the splendor you design to bestow on it, ere you or the princes your children make it your dwelling. Spare nothing, great queen, nor gold, nor the labor of the most excellent artists; let the Phidiases and Zeuxises of your age show the utmost of their art on your walls and ceilings. Mark out vast and delicious gardens, whose beauty shall appear to be all enchantment, and not the workmanship of man. Exhaust your treasures, and tire your industry on this incomparable edifice, and after you have given it the last perfection, some grazier or other, who lives on the neighboring sands of Palmyra, enriched by taking toll on your rivers, shall buy with ready money this royal mansion, to adorn it, and make it worthy of him and his fortune."

Gibbon thus concludes his review of the entire series of Byzantine emperors: "In a composition of some days, in a perusal of some hours, six hundred years have rolled away, and the duration of a life or reign is contracted to[Pg 220] a fleeting moment; the grave is ever beside the throne: the success of a criminal is almost instantly followed by the loss of his prize; and our immortal reason survives and disdains the sixty phantoms of kings who have passed before our eyes, and faintly dwell on our remembrance."

"I went to-day," said Cobbett, "to see the house I formerly occupied. How small! It is always thus: the words large and small are carried about with us in our minds, and we forget real dimensions. The idea, such as it was received, remains during our absence from the object. When I returned to England in 1800, after an absence from the country parts of it for sixteen years, the trees, the hedges, even the parks and woods, seemed so small! It made me laugh to hear little gutters, that I could jump over, called rivers! The Thames was but a 'creek!' But when, in about a month after my arrival in London, I went to Farnham, the place of my birth, what was my surprise! Everything was become so pitifully small!... There is a hill not far from the town called Crooksbury Hill, which rises up out of a flat in the form of a cone, and is planted with Scotch fir-trees. Here I used to take the eggs and young ones of crows and magpies. This hill was a famous object in the neighborhood. It served as the superlative degree of height. 'As high as Crooksbury Hill' meant, with us, the utmost degree of height. Therefore the first object that my eyes sought was this hill. I could not believe my eyes! Literally speaking, I for a moment thought the famous hill removed, and a little heap put in its stead; for I had seen in New Brunswick a single rock, or hill of solid rock, ten times as big, and four or five times as high.... What a change! What scenes I had gone through! How altered my state! I had dined the day before at a secretary of state's, in company with Mr. Pitt, and had been waited upon by men in gaudy liveries![Pg 221] I had had nobody to assist me in the world. No teachers of any sort. Nobody to shelter me from the consequences of bad, and no one to counsel me to good behavior. I felt proud. The distinctions of rank, birth, and wealth, all became nothing in my eyes; and from that moment—less than a month from my arrival in England—I resolved never to bend before them."

"We read in the Memoirs of Moore," says a writer on M. Guizot, in the London Quarterly, 1854, "that in 1820 he was present at a performance in Paris, of Tarare, an opera of Beaumarchais, which was written in 1787, at a period when the promulgation of liberal ideas, with a certain infusion of science, was the fashion in Paris. Accordingly, while Nature and the Genius of Heat are trilling in a duet the laws of gravitation, Tarare (a virtuous soldier) defends his wife from the assaults of the monarch of Ormuz, who, being finally defeated, kills himself, and Tarare is proclaimed king in his place. Only three years afterward Louis XVI., having become a constitutional sovereign, and Bailly (who had shortly to pay with his head for his patriotic illusions) being Maire of Paris, Tarare was not allowed to be acted in its original form. Beaumarchais fitted it to the altered circumstances, and in its remodeled shape, Tarare becomes a constitutional king. Under the Republic, Tarare was not allowed to be a monarch at all; and when the opera was performed in 1795, the victorious soldier indignantly refuses the crown. Under Bonaparte, Tarare was again recast to bring it into harmony with the delusion of the hour; and lastly, when in 1820 the performance was witnessed by Moore, Tarare, become more monarchal than ever, displays his loyalty by defending the king of Ormuz from a popular insurrection, and ultimately falls with emotion at the feet of the tyrant, who has the magnanimity to restore his wife to him."

St. Austin, with his mother Monica, was led one day[Pg 222] by a Roman prætor to see the tomb of Cæsar. Himself thus describes the corpse: "It looked of a blue mould, the bone of the nose laid bare, the flesh of the nether lip quite fallen off, his mouth full of worms, and in his eye-pit a hungry toad, feasting upon the remnant portion of flesh and moisture: and so he dwelt in his house of darkness."

A traveler in Ceylon, who visited the ruins of ancient Mahagam, says that one of the ruined buildings had apparently rested upon seventy-two pillars. These were still erect, standing in six lines of twelve columns. This building must have formed an oblong of three hundred feet by two hundred and fifty. The stone causeway which passed through the ruins was about two miles in length, being for the most part overgrown with low jungle and prickly cactus. The first we hear of this city is 286 B. C.; but we have no account of the era or cause of its destruction. The records of Ceylon give no satisfactory account of it. The wild elephants come out of the jungles and rub their backs against the columns of this forgotten temple, as the naked Indians gamble with forked sticks on the desolate ruins of Central America.

But a few years sometimes change the whole face of a country. Sir Woodbine Parish informed Darwin that during the three years' drought in Buenos Ayres, beginning in 1827, the ground being so long dry, such quantities of dust were blown about that in the open country the landmarks became obliterated, and people could not tell the limits of their estates.

But what shall we say of the instability of human greatness? The career and end of Pompey furnish a striking example. "He who a few days before commanded kings and consuls, and all the noblest of Rome, was sentenced to die by a council of slaves; murdered by a base deserter; cast out naked and headless on the Egyptian strand; and when the whole earth, as Velleius[Pg 223] says, had scarce been sufficient for his victories, could not find a spot upon it at last for a grave. His body was burnt on the shore by one of his freedmen, with the planks of an old fishing-boat; and his ashes, being conveyed to Rome, were deposited privately by his wife Cornelia in a vault of his Alban villa."

Aristotle, that prince of all true thinkers, loaded with immortal glory, was compelled to flee suddenly and by stealth to Chalcis, in order to save his life, and spare, as he said, the Athenians a new crime against philosophy. There, it is believed, the great man, in his old age, wearied with persecutions, poisoned himself.

The venerable Hildebrand, the greatest of all the popes, after the herculean labors of his self-devoted and mighty career, crushed by an accumulation of hardships, said, "I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."

"The ceremony of Galileo's abjuration," says Sir David Brewster, in his biography of that great man, "was one of exciting interest and of awful formality. Clothed in the sackcloth of a repentant criminal, the venerable sage fell upon his knees before the assembled cardinals; and, laying his hands upon the Holy Evangelists, he invoked the divine aid in abjuring and detesting, and vowing never again to teach, the doctrine of the earth's motion and of the sun's stability. He pledged himself that he would never again, either in words or in writing, propagate such heresies; and he swore that he would fulfill and observe the penances which had been inflicted upon him. At the conclusion of this ceremony, in which he recited his abjuration word for word, and then signed it, he was conveyed, in conformity with his sentence, to the prison of the Inquisition." All because it had been said that the "sun runneth about from one end of heaven to the other," and that "the foundations of the earth are so firmly fixed that they cannot be moved."

[Pg 224]

Think of this in connection with the fact that "in five years Charles II. touched twenty-three thousand six hundred and one of his subjects for the evil; that the bishops invented a sort of heathen service for the occasion; that the unchristianlike, superstitious ceremony was performed in public; and that, as soon as prayers were ended, the Duke of Buckingham brought a towel, and the Earl of Pembroke a basin and ewer, who, after they had made obeisance to his majesty, kneeled down till his majesty had washed." Dr. Wiseman, an eminent surgeon of that period, in writing on scrofula, says, "However, I must needs profess that his majesty (Charles II.) cureth more in any one year than all the chirurgeons of London have done in an age."

And think at the same time of the trial of a mother and her daughter, eleven years old, before "the great and good Sir Matthew Hale," then Lord Chief Baron, for witchcraft; and their conviction and execution at Bury St. Edmunds, principally on the evidence of Sir Thomas Browne, one of the first physicians and scholars of his day.

In Fuller's Church History there is a curious fact, showing the power of superstition over even such a man as Wolsey. The great cardinal "in his life-time was informed by some fortune-tellers that he should have his end at Kingston. This his credulity interpreted of Kingston-on-Thames; which made him always avoid the riding through that town, though the nearest way from his house to the court. Afterward, understanding that he was to be committed by the king's express orders to the charge of Sir Anthony Kingston, it struck to his heart; too late perceiving himself deceived by that father of lies in his homonymous prediction."

But credulity seems to have had a foundation place in the characters of some of the world's greatest men. There, for instance, is Hooker, author of that great work,[Pg 225] Ecclesiastical Polity,—according to Hallam "the finest as well as the most philosophical writer of the Elizabethan period;" according to Lecky "the most majestic of English writers." Being appointed to preach a sermon at St. Paul's Cross, London, he lodged at the Shunamite's house, a dwelling appropriated to preachers, and was skillfully persuaded by the landlady "that it was best for him to have a wife that might prove a nurse to him, such an one as might prolong his life, and make it more comfortable, and such an one as she could and would provide for him if he thought fit to marry." The unsuspecting young divine agreed to abide by her choice, which fell upon her own daughter, who proved to be not only "a silly, clownish woman," but a very Xantippe. Izaak Walton, in his biography of Hooker, thus philosophizes upon this remarkable marriage: "This choice of Mr. H. (if it were his choice) may be wondered at; but let us consider that the prophet Ezekiel says, 'There is a wheel within a wheel;' a secret, sacred wheel of Providence (not visible in marriages), guided by his hand, that 'allows not the race to the swift,' nor 'bread to the wise,' nor good wives to good men; and He that can bring good out of evil (for mortals are blind to this reason) only knows why this blessing was denied to patient Job, to meek Moses, and to our as meek and patient Mr. Hooker." Farther on, by way of explanation and apology, old Izaak quaintly says, "God and nature blessed him with so blessed a bashfulness, that as in his younger days his pupils might easily look him out of countenance, so neither then, nor in his age, did he ever willingly look any man in the face: and was of so mild and humble a nature, that his poor parish clerk and he did never talk but with both their hats on or both off at the same time: and to this may be added, that though he was not purblind, yet he was short or weak sighted; and where he fixed his eyes at the beginning of his sermon, there they[Pg 226] continued till it was ended: and the reader has a liberty to believe, that his modesty and dim sight were some of the reasons why he trusted Mrs. Churchman to choose his wife." His anger is said to have been like a vial of clear water, which, when shook, beads at the top, but instantly subsides, without any soil or sediment of uncharitableness.

Nobody knows, to say truth, how much the great, modest Hooker was benefited by what appeared to his friends his calamitous marriage. "There is no great evil," said Publius Syrus, "which does not bring with it some advantage." Calamities, we know, have often proved blessings. There are cases where blows on the head have benefited the brain, and produced extraordinary changes for the better. Mabillon was almost an idiot at the age of twenty-six. He fell down a stone staircase, fractured his skull, and was trepanned. From that moment he became a genius. Dr. Prichard mentioned a case of three brothers, who were all nearly idiots. One of them was injured on the head, and from that time he brightened up, and became a successful barrister. Wallenstein, too, they say, was a mere fool, till he fell out of a window, and awoke with enlarged capabilities. Here is an instance noted by Robinson in his Diary: "After dinner called on the Flaxmans. Mrs. Flaxman—wife of the sculptor—admitted me to her room. She had about a fortnight before broken her leg, and sprained it besides, by falling down-stairs. This misfortune, however, instead of occasioning a repetition of the paralytic stroke which she had a year ago, seemed to have improved her health. She had actually recovered the use of her hand in some degree, and her friends expect that she will be benefited by the accident."

There is Cowper. But for his mental malady the world would have had much less of good poetry and fewer perfect letters. The thought of a clerkship in the House of[Pg 227] Lords made him insane! "Innocent, pious, and confiding, he lived in perpetual dread of everlasting punishment: he could only see between him and heaven a high wall which he despaired of ever being able to scale; yet his intellectual vigor was not subdued by affliction. What he wrote for amusement or relief in the midst of 'supreme distress,' surpasses the elaborate efforts of others made under the most favorable circumstances; and in the very winter of his days, his fancy was as fresh and blooming as in the spring and morning of his existence." The Diverting History of John Gilpin, the production of a single night, was, curious to say, written by a man who lived in perpetual dread of eternal punishment; and while it was being read by Henderson, the actor, to large audiences in London, "all through Lent, at high prices," its author was raving mad. The ballad, which had become the town talk, was reprinted from the newspaper, wherein it had lain three years dormant. Gilpin, passing at full stretch by the Bell at Edmonton, was to be seen at all print-shops. One print-seller sold six thousand. What had succeeded so well in London was repeated with inferior ability, but with equal success, on provincial stages, and the ballad became in the highest degree popular before the author's name became known. The last reading to which Cowper listened appears to have been that of his own works. Beginning with the first volume, Mr. Johnson went through them, and he listened to them in silence till he came to John Gilpin, which he begged not to hear. It reminded him of cheerful days, and of those of whom he could not bear to think. "The grinners at John Gilpin," he said, "little dream what the author sometimes suffers. How I hated myself yesterday for having ever wrote it!" On his death-bed, when the clergyman told him to confide in the love of the Redeemer, who desired to save all men, Cowper gave a passionate cry, begging him not to give him such consolations. To our ignorant eyes it looks[Pg 228] strange that the author of our best and most popular hymns should have thought his sins unpardonable; should have believed himself already damned.

One of Cowper's visitors and pensioners at Olney was a poor school-master (Teedon) who thought himself specially favored by Providence, and to whom Cowper communicated his waking dreams, and consulted, as a person whom the Lord was pleased to answer in prayer. This recalls a similar fact of the illustrious Tycho Brahe. When he lived in Uraniberg he maintained an idiot of the name of Lep, who lay at his feet whenever he sat down to dinner, and whom he fed with his own hand. Persuaded that his mind, when moved, was capable of fore-telling future events, Tycho carefully marked everything he said. (Striking instances, it may be observed, of the tribute which intelligence and science unconsciously pay to faith.)

It is pathetic to think, says Alger, how many great men have, like Homer and Milton, had the windows of their souls closed. Galileo, in his seventy-third year, wrote to one of his correspondents, "Alas! your dear friend has become irreparably blind. These heavens, this earth, this universe, which by wonderful observation I had enlarged a thousand times past the belief of past ages, are henceforth shrunk into the narrow space which I myself occupy. So it pleases God; it shall, therefore, please me also." Händel passed the last seven years of his life in total blindness, in the gloom of the porch of death. How he and the spectators must have felt when the great composer, in 1753, stood pale and tremulous, with his sightless eyeballs turned toward a tearful concourse of people, while his sad song from Samson, "Total eclipse, no sun, no moon," was delivered! Leigh Hunt said of Händel: He was the grandest composer that is known to have existed, wielding, as it were, the choirs of heaven and earth together. Mozart said of him, that he struck you, whenever[Pg 229] he pleased, with a thunderbolt. His hallelujahs open the heavens. He utters the word "wonderful," as if all their trumpets spoke together.

Beethoven was afflicted with "dense and incurable deafness" long before he had composed his greatest works. He said, "I was nigh taking my life with my own hands. But art held me back. I could not leave the world until I had revealed what lay within me." He occupied for a long time a room in a remote house on a hill, and was called the Solitary of the Mountain, where he heard, no doubt, more distinctly "the voices," than if he had been blest with the best of ears. "When he produced his mighty opera, Fidelio, it failed. In vain he again modeled and remodeled it. He went himself into the orchestra and attempted to lead it; and the pitiless public of Vienna laughed." His work so far surpassed the appreciation of many of his contemporaries as to be condemned as the vagaries of a madman. Haydn and Mozart, as was said, had perfected instrumental music in form; it remained for deaf Beethoven to touch it, so that it became a living soul.

It does seem that God in his mystery has sometimes put out the eyes of poets and stopped the ears of musicians to admit them to glimpses of his own glories and whisper to them his own harmonies. Homer and Milton had inward poetic visions which light and sight alone never gave to man. Beethoven, unable from defective hearing to conduct an orchestra, produced celestial harmonies out of the silence of divine meditation.

The philanthropy of John Howard was so prodigious that it rendered him incapable of ordinary enjoyments. His faculties were so absorbed by his great humanity that he was voted a bore by the liveliest and cleverest of his contemporaries. "But the mere men of taste," says John Foster, "ought to be silent respecting such a man as Howard; he is above their sphere of judgment. The invisible[Pg 230] spirits, who fulfill their commissions of philanthropy among mortals, do not care about pictures, statues, and public buildings; and no more did he, when the time in which he must have inspected and admired them would have been taken from the work to which he had consecrated his life. The curiosity which he might feel was reduced to wait till the hour should arrive when its gratification should be presented by conscience, which kept a scrupulous charge of all his time, as the most sacred duty of that hour. If he was still at every hour, when it came, fated to feel the attractions of the fine arts but the second claim, they might be sure of their revenge; for no other man will ever visit Rome under such a despotic consciousness of duty as to refuse himself time for surveying the magnificence of its ruins. Such a sin against taste is far beyond the reach of common saintship to commit. It implied an inconceivable severity of conviction, that he had one thing to do, and that he who would do some great thing in this short life must apply himself to the work with such a concentration of his forces as to idle spectators, who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity." Look a little over his wonderful life, by the aid of a few facts set down by the encyclopedist: At about the age of twenty-five he experienced a severe attack of illness, and upon his recovery testified his gratitude to the woman who had nursed him, and who was nearly thirty years his senior, by marrying her. Moved by the accounts of the horrors of the earthquake at Lisbon, he embarked for that place with a view of doing something to alleviate the calamity. On the voyage he was taken prisoner by a French privateer and carried into Brest, where he became a witness of the inhuman treatment to which prisoners of war were subjected. Designing to visit the new lazaretto of Marseilles, he endeavored in vain to procure a passport from the French government, which was incensed against him for[Pg 231] having published a translation of a suppressed French account of the interior of the Bastile. He therefore traveled through the country in various disguises, and after a series of romantic adventures and several narrow escapes from the police, who were constantly on his track, succeeded in his purpose. He proceeded thence to Malta, Zante, Smyrna, and Constantinople, visiting prisons, pest-houses, and hospitals, and in the two latter cities gratuitously dispensing his medical services, often with great benefit to the poor. The freedom with which he exposed his person in infected places, whither his attendants refused to follow him, was characteristic of his fearless and self-sacrificing character; but as if by a miracle he escaped all contagion. His most daring act, however, has yet to be recorded. Feeling that he could not speak with authority on the subject of pest-houses until he had experienced the discipline of one, he went to Smyrna, sought out a foul ship, and sailed in her for Venice. After a voyage of sixty days, during which by his energy and bravery he assisted the crew in beating off an attack of pirates, he arrived at his destination, and was subjected to a rigorous confinement in the Venetian lazaretto, under which his health suffered severely. In the preface to one of his numerous works, he announced his intention to pursue his work, observing, "Should it please God to cut off my life in the prosecution of this design, let not my conduct be imputed to rashness or enthusiasm, but to a serious conviction that I am pursuing the path of duty." He died of camp-fever, which he contracted from a patient at Kherson, Russia, on the Black Sea, having expended nearly the whole of his large fortune in various benefactions. In a speech to the electors of Bristol, Edmund Burke thus eloquently sums up the public services of Howard: "He has visited all Europe, not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurement[Pg 232] of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; not to collect medals or collect manuscripts; but to dive into the depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infections of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries."

In persons of genius, defects sometimes appear to take the place of merits, and weaknesses to act the part of auxiliaries. The "plastic nature of the versatile faculty" is such that common laws do not govern it, nor common standards judge it. "Men of genius," says an acute historian and critic of literature and literary men, "have often resisted the indulgence of one talent to exercise another with equal power; some, who have solely composed sermons, could have touched on the foibles of society with the spirit of Horace or Juvenal; Blackstone and Sir William Jones directed that genius to the austere studies of law and philology which might have excelled in the poetical and historical character. So versatile is this faculty of genius, that its possessors are sometimes uncertain of the manner in which they shall treat their subject, whether to be grave or ludicrous. When Brébeuf, the French translator of the Pharsalia of Lucan, had completed the first book as it now appears, he at the same time composed a burlesque version, and sent both to the great arbiter of taste in that day, to decide which the poet should continue. The decision proved to be difficult." Hence it is that men of genius and their productions are often enigmas to the world. "The hero," says Carlyle, "can be poet, prophet, king, priest, or what you will, according to the kind of world he finds himself born into. I confess I have no notion of a truly great man that could not be all sorts of men. The poet who[Pg 233] could merely sit on a chair, and compose stanzas, would never make a stanza worth much. He could not sing the heroic warrior, unless he himself were at least a heroic warrior too. I fancy there is in him the politician, the thinker, legislator, philosopher; in one or the other degree, he could have been, he is, all these.... Shakespeare,—one knows not what he could not have made in the supreme degree."

"It is notorious," says Macaulay, "that Niccolo Machiavelli, out of whose surname they have coined an epithet for a knave, and out of his Christian name a synonym for the devil, was through life a zealous republican. In the same year in which he composed his manual of kingcraft, he suffered imprisonment and torture in the cause of public liberty. It seems inconceivable that the martyr of freedom should have designedly acted as the apostle of tyranny." The real object and meaning of his celebrated book, The Prince, have been subjects of dispute for centuries. One old critic says, "Machiavel is a strenuous defender of democracy; he was born, educated, and respected under that form of government, and was a great enemy to tyranny. Hence it is that he does not favor a tyrant: it is not his design to instruct a tyrant, but to detect his secret attempts, and expose him naked and conspicuous to the poor people. Do we not know there have been many princes such as he describes? Why are such princes angry at being immortalized by his means? This excellent author's design was, under the show of instructing the prince, to inform the people." Another says, "I must say that Machiavel, who passed everywhere for a teacher of tyranny, detested it more than any man of his time; as may easily appear by the tenth chapter of the first book of his Discourses, in which he expresses himself very strongly against tyrants." Nardi, his contemporary, calls his works "panegyrics upon liberty." Bayle says, "The Jesuit Porsevin, who had not read The[Pg 234] Prince, was nevertheless the cause of its being condemned by the Inquisition. He charges Machiavel with such things as are not in The Prince. His charges were made upon passages from a work, published anonymously, entitled Anti-Machiavel, and not from The Prince. The Prince was published about the year 1515, and dedicated to Lorenzo de' Medici, nephew to Leo X. It did not prejudice the author with this pope, who nevertheless was the first who threatened those with excommunication that read a prohibited book!"

A critic says of La Rochefoucauld: "The author of the Maxims was apparently the least selfish public man of his land and age. Saith one of his biographers, not untruly, 'He gave the example of all the virtues of which he would appear to contest the existence.' He ridicules bravery as a madness; and as Madame de Maintenon, who could have had no predilection for his system, curtly observes, 'he was, however, very brave.' The proofs of his bravery do not rest on Madame de Maintenon's assertion. A scorn of danger, preëminently French, as it became the inheritor of so great a French name to exhibit, was sufficiently shown at the siege of Bordeaux and the battle of St. Antoine. Madame de Sévigné speaks of La Rochefoucauld with an admiration which she rarely bestows except on her daughter; and says that in his last agonizing illness he thought more of his neighbor than himself. Cardinal de Retz, in the portrait he has left of the brilliant duke,—a portrait certainly not flattered,—tells us that this philosopher, who reduced all human motives to self-interest, did not feel the little interests which were never his weak point, and did not understand the great interests which were never his strong point; and, finally, this acute critic of contemporaneous celebrities, after assuring us that La Rochefoucauld 'had never been a good party-man,' tells us that in the relations of common life La Rochefoucauld was the honestest man of the age."

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Sir John Denham, according to Count Grammont, was "one of the brightest geniuses England ever produced for wit and humor, and for brilliancy of composition; satirical and free in his poems, he spared neither frigid writers nor jealous husbands, nor even their wives; every part abounded with the most poignant wit, and the most entertaining stories; but his most delicate and spirited raillery turned generally against matrimony; and as if he wished to confirm, by his own example, the truth of what he had written in his youth," he married, at the age of seventy-nine, Miss Brook, aged eighteen, a favorite of King Charles II., and mistress of his brother, the Duke of York, afterward King James II. "As no person entertained any doubt of his having poisoned her (on account of jealousy), the populace of his neighborhood had a design of tearing him in pieces as soon as he should come abroad; but he shut himself up to bewail her death, until their fury was appeased by a magnificent funeral, at which he distributed four times more burnt wine than had ever been drank at any burial in England."

(You remember the plea Denham urged in behalf of old George Wither, the Puritan poet, when he was taken prisoner by the Cavaliers, and a general disposition was displayed to hang him at once. Sir John saved his life by saying to Charles, "I hope your majesty will not hang poor George Wither, for as long as he lives it can't be said that I am the worst poet in England.")

Literature is full of such facts as at first blush appear incredible. Consider, that "although the soil of Sweden is not rich in either plants or insects, and many of its feathered tribes are but temporary visitants, leaving it at stated periods in quest of milder climes, nevertheless it was amidst this physical barrenness that the taste of Linnæus for his favorite pursuit broke out almost from his earliest infancy, and found the means, not only of its gratification, but of laying a basis of a system which[Pg 236] soon spread its dominion over the whole world of science. Almost within the Arctic circle, this enthusiast of nature felt all those inspirations which are generally supposed to be the peculiar offspring of warmer regions. He traveled over the greater part of Lapland, skirting the boundaries of Norway, and returning to Upsala by the Gulf of Bothnia, having passed over an extent of about four thousand miles. Nothing but the enthusiasm of genius would have made him, night and day, wade the cold creeks and treacherous bogs, and climb the bleak mountains of Lapland—eating little but fish, unsalted, and crawling with vermin. He considered his labor amply remunerated by the information he had gained, and the discovery of new plants in the higher mountains, with the payment of his expenses, amounting to about ten pounds!"

And reflect, that "on a bulk, in a cellar, or in a glass-house, among thieves and beggars, was to be found the author of The Wanderer, the man of exalted sentiments, extensive views, and curious observations; the man whose remarks on life might have assisted the statesman, whose ideas of virtue might have enlightened the moralist, whose eloquence might have influenced senates, and whose delicacy might have polished courts."

And see what Bishop Burnet, in his History of his Own Times, says of the vile Lord Rochester: "In the last year of his life I was much with him, and have writ a book of what passed between him and me: I do verily believe he was then so changed that if he had recovered he would have made good all his resolutions." Of this book, mentioned by the bishop, Dr. Johnson said, It is one "which the critic ought to read for its eloquence, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety."

Soame Jenyns, a friend of Johnson and Goldsmith and Reynolds, is thus spoken of by Cumberland: "He came into your house at the very moment you had put upon[Pg 237] your card; he dressed himself to do your party honor in all the colors of the jay; his lace indeed had long since lost its lustre, but his coat had faithfully retained its cut since the days when gentlemen wore embroidered figured velvet, with short sleeves, boot-cuffs, and buckram skirts; as nature had cast him in the exact mould of an ill-made pair of stiff stays, he followed her so close in the fashion of his coat that it was doubted if he did not wear them: because he had a protuberant wen just under his poll, he wore a wig, that did not cover above half his head. His eyes were protruded like the eyes of the lobster, who wears them at the end of his feelers, and yet there was room between one of these and his nose for another wen that added nothing to his beauty; yet I heard this good man very innocently remark, when Gibbon published his history, that he wondered anybody so ugly could write a book!"

It has been remarked as an interesting fact, that Wilberforce at the age of twenty-five, and Wendell Phillips at the same age, were the two persons who seemed the least likely of all their respective contemporaries to become world-renowned as advocates of the cause of antislavery. Wilberforce was returned to parliament at twenty-one, when, according to his biographer, "he became the idol of the fashionable world, dancing at Almack's, and singing before the Prince of Wales." At twenty-five, he abandoned his gayeties, entered upon a new life, and took up the great cause which he advocated during the remainder of his long career. Wendell Phillips, at the age of twenty-two, was a Boston lawyer, aristocratic, wealthy, handsome, polished, and sought after; colonel of a city militia company, and a lover of blooded horses, of fencing and boxing. He was born on Beacon Street, and his father was one of the most popular mayors Boston ever had. At Harvard University, where he graduated, he was president of the "exclusive society" known as the Gentleman's Club, and[Pg 238] in fact he was the leader of the aristocratic party among the students. At twenty-five he abandoned his practice of law, gave up the fashionable world, and espoused the cause of the slave.

Robespierre, anarchist and philanthropist, and Frederick of Prussia, despot and philosopher, were both bitter and vitriolic natures; yet both, in their youth, exceeded Exeter Hall itself in their professions of universal beneficence. Frederick indeed wrote early in life a treatise called the Anti-Machiavel, which was, says his biographer, "an edifying homily against rapacity, perfidy, arbitrary government, unjust war; in short, against almost everything for which its author is now remembered among men."

The grand Descartes, modestest of men, who, observes Bulwer, wished to live in a town where he should not be known by sight, felt so keen an anguish at the snubbings and censures his writings procured him, that he meditated the abandonment of philosophy and the abjuration of his own injured identity by a change of name. Happily for mankind, some encouraging praises came to his ears, and restored the equilibrium of his self-esteem, vanity (if all pleasure in approbation is to be so called) reconciling him once more to the pursuit of wisdom.

Gray's diffidence, or fastidiousness, according to Hazlitt, was such as to prevent his associating with his fellow-collegians, or mingling with the herd, till at length, like the owl, shutting himself up from society and daylight, he was hunted and hooted at like the owl whenever he chanced to appear, and was even assailed and disturbed in the haunts in which "he held his solitary reign." He was driven from college to college, and was subjected to a persecution the more harassing to a person of his indolent and retired habits. But he only shrunk the more within himself in consequence, read over his favorite authors, corresponded with his distant friends, was terrified[Pg 239] out of his wits at the bare idea of having his portrait prefixed to his works, and probably died from nervous agitation at the publicity into which his name had been forced by his learning, taste, and genius. Such was the author of the immortal Elegy, which Daniel Webster died repeating, and of which Wolfe said he would rather be the author than be conqueror of Quebec.

Washington Irving's modesty and diffidence did not make him shut "himself up from society and daylight," but it made him a stranger to many of his neighbors, and even to the boys about Sunnyside. It will be a surprise to many to know that one morning he was ordered out of a field he was crossing—belonging to a neighbor of his, a liquor dealer, who threatened, if he found the "old vagabond" on his premises again, he would set his dogs on him! It will also be a surprise to know that the distinguished author of The Sketch Book was a confessed orchard thief. Once, when picking up an apple under a tree in his own orchard, he was accosted by an urchin of the neighborhood, who, not recognizing him as the proprietor, offered to show him a tree where he could "get better apples than those." "But," urged the boy, "we must take care that the old man don't see us." "I went with him," said Irving, "and we stole a dozen of my own apples!"

[Pg 240]



Is there anything more curious or remarkable in fiction than the simple fact expressed by Thucydides, that ignorance is bold and knowledge reserved? or that by Thomas Fuller, that learning has gained most by those books by which the printers have lost? or that by Pascal, that it is wonderful a thing so obvious as the vanity of the world is so little known, and that it is a strange and surprising thing to say that seeking its honors is a folly? or that by John Selden, that of all actions of a man's life his marriage does least concern other people, yet of all actions of his life 'tis most meddled with by other people? or that by Goldsmith, that the most delicate friendships are always most sensible of the slightest invasion, and the strongest jealousy is ever attendant on the warmest regard? or that by Hazlitt, that every man, in his own opinion, forms an exception to the ordinary rules of humanity? or that by Emerson, that the astonishment of life is the absence of any appearance of reconciliation between the theory and practice of life? or that by Foster, that millions of human beings are at this very hour acting in violation of the laws of goodness, while those laws are clearly admitted, not only as impositions of moral authority but as the vital principles of their own true self-interest? or that by Prescott, that in every country the most fiendish passions of the human heart are those kindled in the name of religion? Strange! that labor is so scarce in China that vast tracts of land lie waste because there are no laborers to reclaim them.[Pg 241] That in the pontifical army, not long before Victor Emanuel, Spain—"the bones of whose children for centuries had whitened every battle-field where she found it necessary to defend her religion"—was represented by but thirty-eight soldiers, while Holland—"which protected the Reformation by its Princes of Orange, and introduced liberty of religious opinion into the modern world"—was represented by hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. That the best building in Iceland is the jail at Reikiavik, which, during the many years since its erection, has never contained a prisoner. That in the Arctic region a smaller proportion of fuel is consumed than in any other habitable part of the globe. That the next use of the Mayflower, after carrying the Pilgrims, was to transport a cargo of slaves to the West Indies. That the plant papyrus, which gave its name to our word paper—first used for writing between three and four thousand years ago—of more importance in history than cotton and silver and gold—once so common in Egypt—has become so scarce there that Emerson in his late visit searched in vain for it. That house-building, which ought to be among the most perfect of the arts, after the experience and efforts of myriads in every generation, has produced no stereotyped models of taste and convenience. That the founder and editor of one of the great London periodicals never wrote a line for his journal; and when he died, the review which he had built up by his individual ability made not the slightest mention of the event. That the three books which have been so widely read, and which have exercised incalculable influence upon morals and politics,—The Imitation of Christ, The Whole Duty of Man, and the Letters of Junius,—are of unknown or disputed authorship. That the Bible,—incomparably the wisest and best book, the Book of books, the guide of life, the solace in death, the way to heaven,—is so little read by the many and so little understood by the few.[Pg 242] That the one subject (religion) which is "by general consent proscribed in general society is that which by general consent is allowed to be the most important, and which one might therefore suppose to be the most interesting." That the brain, in subordination to the mind, the physical centre of all sensation, is insensible to the wounds which are torture to the skin, and which wounds the brain alone enables us to feel. ("It is as insensible," says Sir Charles Bell, "as the leather of our shoe, and a piece may be cut off without interrupting the patient in the sentence that he is uttering.") That the heart, to which we refer our joys, our sorrows, and our affections, when grasped with the fingers, gives no information of the fact to the possessor, unmistakably responding at the same time to the varied emotions of his mind. (The famous Dr. Harvey examined, at the request of Charles I., a nobleman of the Montgomery family, who, in consequence of an abscess, had a fistulous opening into the chest, through which the heart could be seen and handled. The great physiologist was astonished to find it insensible. "I then brought him," he says, "to the king that he might behold and touch so extraordinary a thing, and that he might perceive, as I did, that when he touched the outer skin, or when he saw our fingers in the cavity, this young nobleman knew not that we touched the heart.") That one of our modern English poets, who has written lyrics so passionate as to be hounded down for their immorality, has so lived, according to a fellow-poet, as never to have kissed any one but his mother. That the one man who can read the Eliot Bible is getting tired of his distinction, just as a veteran poet, it is declared, hated to hear praised one of the productions of his youth, at eighty not having surpassed, in popular estimation, a school-boy poem, written at eighteen. That the man whom Walter consulted in the management of the Times newspaper, and who in Walter's absence, according[Pg 243] to Robinson, decided in the dernier resort, was at the time, and until the end of his life, an inhabitant of the King's Bench Prison, and when he frequented Printing House Square it was only by virtue of a day rule. (Combe was his name: Old Combe, as he was familiarly called. He was the author of the famous Letters of a Nobleman to his Son, generally ascribed to Lord Lyttelton. He was a man of fortune when young, and traveled in Europe, and even made a journey with Sterne. Walter offered to release him from prison by paying his debts. This he would not permit, as he did not acknowledge the equity of the claim for which he suffered imprisonment. He preferred living on an allowance from Walter, and was, he said, perfectly happy.) How difficult it is to realize that Dr. Johnson, the great Cham of English literature, spent more than one half of his days in penury; that the "moral, pious Johnson," and the "gay, dissipated Beauclerc," were companions; that they ever spent a whole day together, "half-seas over," strolling through the markets, cracking jokes with the fruit and fish women, on their way to Billingsgate. It is hard to believe that that great moralist ever wandered whole nights through the streets of London, with the unfortunate, gifted Savage, too miserably poor to hire lodgings. And it is still harder to believe that the best biography of that great man, and the best biography in our language, was written by a gossiping, literary bore—the "bear-leader to the Ursa Major," as Irving calls him—whom Johnson pretended to despise, and of whom he once said, "if he thought Boswell intended to write his (Johnson's) life he would take Boswell's." We wonder that the great, strong-minded Luther ever flung an inkstand at the devil's head. We cannot conceive that Wesley and Johnson and Addison believed in ghosts. It looks strange to us that Socrates, who taught the doctrines of the one Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul, bowed[Pg 244] down to a multiplicity of idols; and after he had swallowed the fatal hemlock, directed the sacrifice of a cock to Æsculapius. We cannot credit the fact that Marlborough, at the moment he was the terror of France and the glory of Germany, was held under the finger of his wife by the meanest of passions, avarice. We utterly refuse to believe the complaint of Burns, the greatest of lyric poets, that he "could never get the art of commanding respect." It seems incredible that Goldsmith ever "talked like poor Poll," when he "wrote like an angel." It appears strange enough that Sir George Mackenzie wrote an elegant and eloquent treatise in favor of solitude, while living a most active life; and still more strange that his arguments were triumphantly answered by Evelyn, who passed his days in tranquillity and solitude. We only believe when we are compelled by authority, that Tycho Brahe changed color, and his legs shook under him, on meeting with a hare or a fox. That Dr. Johnson would never enter a room with his left foot foremost. That Cæsar Augustus was almost convulsed by the sound of thunder, and always wanted to get into a cellar, or under-ground, to escape the dreadful noise. That Talleyrand trembled when the word death was pronounced. That Marshal Saxe ever screamed in terror at the sight of a cat. That the smell of fish sent Erasmus into a fever. That Scaliger shivered at the sight of water-cress. That Boyle was convulsed at the falling of water from a tap. That Peter the Great could never be persuaded to cross a bridge; and though he tried to master the terror, he failed to do so. That Byron would never help any one to salt at the table, nor be helped himself. That an air that was beneficial to Schiller acted upon Goethe like poison. ("I called on him one day," said Goethe to Soret, "and as I did not find him at home, and his wife told me that he would soon return, I seated myself at his work-table to note down various matters. I had not been seated long before I felt a[Pg 245] strange indisposition steal over me, which gradually increased, until at last I nearly fainted. At first I did not know to what cause I should ascribe this wretched and, to me, unusual state, until I discovered that a dreadful odor issued from a drawer near me. When I opened it, I found to my astonishment that it was full of rotten apples. I immediately went to the window and inhaled the fresh air, by which I felt myself instantly restored. In the meantime his wife had reëntered, and told me that the drawer was always filled with rotten apples, because the scent was beneficial to Schiller, and he could not live or work without it.") That Queen Elizabeth issued proclamations against excessive apparel, leaving three thousand changes of dress in the royal wardrobe. That Bayle, the faithful compiler of impurities, "resisted the corruption of the senses as much as Newton." That Smollett, who has so grossly offended decency in his novels, had an immaculate private character. That Cowley, who boasts with so much gayety of the versatility of his passion amongst so many sweethearts, wanted the confidence even to address one. That Seneca philosophized so wisely and eloquently upon the blessings of poverty and moderate desires, while usuriously lending his seven millions, and writing his homilies on a table of solid gold. That Sir Thomas More, who, in his Utopia, declares that no man should be punished for his religion, was a fierce persecutor, racking and burning men at the stake for heresy. That Young, the author of the sombre Night Thoughts, was known as the gayest of his circle of acquaintance. That Molière, the famous French humorist and writer of comedies, bore himself with habitual seriousness and melancholy. That he married an actress, who made him experience all those bitter disgusts and embarrassments which he himself played off at the theatre. That the cynicism and bitterness exhibited in the writings of Rousseau were in consequence of an unfortunate[Pg 246] marriage to an ill-bred, illiterate woman, who ruled him as with a rod of iron. That Addison's fine taste in morals and in life could suffer the ambition of a courtier to prevail with himself to seek a countess, who drove him contemptuously into solitude and shortened his days. That the impulsive and genial Steele married a cold, precise Miss Prue, as he called her, from whom he never parted without bickerings. That Shenstone, while surrounding himself with the floral beauties of Paradise, exciting the envy and admiration and imitation of persons of taste throughout England, lived in utter wretchedness and misery. That Swift, with all his resources of wit and wisdom, died, to use his own language, "in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole." That the thoughtful, cast-iron essays of John Foster were originally written as love epistles to the lady who became his wife. That the only person who could make George Washington laugh was an officer in the army so obscure in rank and character as not to be even mentioned in popular history. That the man whom Daniel Webster pronounced the best conversationalist he ever knew, is now unknown or forgotten outside of his neighborhood. That the pious Cowper attempted suicide; and had as intimate associate the swearing Lord Chancellor Thurlow,—with whom, he confesses, he spent three years, "giggling and making giggle." That Lord Chancellor Eldon, who, while simple John Scott, son of a Newcastle coal-fitter, ran away with Bessy Surtees, daughter of a prosperous banker of the same town, and who was so proud of the exploit that he never tired of referring to it, when his eldest daughter, Lady Elizabeth, gave her hand, without his consent, to an ardent lover of respectable character and good education, but not of much wealth, permitted years to roll away before he would forgive her. That not long after the elopement referred to, while a law student at Oxford, having been appointed to read to the class at a small salary, the[Pg 247] lectures of one of the professors who was then absent in the East Indies, it happened that the first lecture he had to read was upon the statute (4 & 5 P. & M. c. 8) "Of young men running away with maidens." ("Fancy me," he said, "reading, with a hundred and forty boys and young men all giggling.") That Lord Chancellor Thurlow, who was never married at all, was so outraged at the love marriage, against his consent, of his third and favorite daughter, that though he became reconciled to her, he never would consent to see her husband. That, according to John Lord Campbell, so many of the most important points in the law of real property have been settled in suits upon the construction of the wills of eminent judges. That "the religious, the moral, the immaculate" Sir Matthew Hale, when chief justice of the king's bench, allowed the infamous Jeffreys, who "was not redeemed from his vices by one single solid virtue," to gain, in the opinion of Roger North, "as great an ascendant over him as ever counsel had over a judge." That the gentle Charles and Mary Lamb were confined in a mad-house, and that the latter cut the throat of her mother at the dinner-table. That Tasso lamented the publication of Jerusalem Delivered, and that its publication was the one great cause of his insanity. That Thomson, the poet of the Seasons, composed so much of his classic and vigorous verse in bed; or was seen in Lord Burlington's garden, with his hands in his waistcoat pockets, biting off the sunny sides of the peaches. That King Solomon, who wrote so wisely of training children, had so wicked a son as Rehoboam. That the good stoic, Marcus Aurelius, of proverbial purity, had so doubtful a wife as Faustina, and so vicious a son as Commodus. That that good old Roman emperor, whose Meditations rank with the best works of the greatest moralists, breathing and inculcating the spirit of Christianity, was the bitter persecutor of the Christians in Gaul. That his graceless heir, Commodus, left[Pg 248] the Christians wholly untroubled, through the influence of his mistress Marcia. That the English-reading world is directly indebted to the Reign of Terror—the horrors of Robespierre's tyranny—for the most popular translation of St. Pierre's sweet story of Paul and Virginia. That the author of the Marseillaise first heard of the great fame of his piece in the mountains of Piedmont, when fleeing from France as a political refugee; and upon the return of the Bourbons to power wrote an anthem which is characterized as the most anti-republican ever penned. That that ode to temperance, The Old Oaken Bucket, was written by Woodworth, a journeyman printer, under the inspiration of brandy. That so many of the exquisite letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu were destroyed by her mother, who "did not approve that she should disgrace her family by adding to it literary honors." That the famous speech of Pitt, in reply to Walpole's taunt of being "a young man," was composed by Dr. Johnson. That Johnson, looking at Dilly's edition of Lord Chesterfield's miscellaneous works, laughed and said, "Here are now two speeches ascribed to him, both of which were written by me: and the best of it is, they have found out that one is like Demosthenes, and the other like Cicero." That many of the sermons of famous contemporaneous clergymen were the productions of the same laborious Grub Street drudge, forty or more of which have been reclaimed and published, and conceded to have been written by the inexhaustible Johnson. That the only paper of The Rambler which had a prosperous sale, and may be said to have been popular, was one which Johnson did not write—No. 97, written by Richardson. That the essays of The Rambler, elaborate as they appear, were written rapidly, seldom undergoing revision, whilst the simple language of Rousseau, which seems to come flowing from the heart, was the slow production of painful toil, pausing on every word, and balancing every sentence.[Pg 249] That Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, which has the free and easy flow of extemporaneous eloquence, was polished with extraordinary care,—more than a dozen proofs being worked off and destroyed, according to Dodsley's account, before he could please himself. That the winged passages in Curran's speeches, which seem born of the moment, were the results of painstaking, protracted labor. ("My dear fellow," said he to Phillips, "the day of inspiration has gone by. Everything I ever said which was worth remembering, my de bene esses, my white horses, as I call them, were all carefully prepared.") That the Essay on Man, according to Lord Bathurst, "was originally composed by Lord Bolingbroke, in prose, and Pope did no more than to put it into verse." That those brilliant wits and prolific dramatists, Peele, Greene, and Marlowe, the associates of Shakespeare, to whom the great dramatist was so much indebted, were all wretched and unsuccessful,—the first dying in utter want, the second of excessive pickled herring, at the point nearly of starvation, the third being stabbed in the head in a drunken brawl at a tavern by his own dagger in his own hand. That Shakespeare married at eighteen, had three children at twenty, removed to London at twenty-three, begun writing plays at twenty-seven, and, a little more than twenty years after, returned to his native town, rich and immortal. That but a few signatures—differently spelled—is all of his handwriting that has been preserved. That so many critics should believe, and some ingenious books have been printed to prove, that the authorship of the plays of Shakespeare belongs to Bacon—the only man then living, they claim, who knew enough to write them. That the great Bacon was unable to grasp the great discoveries of his time—rejecting the Copernican system to the last, and treating not only with incredulity, but with the most arrogant contempt, the important discoveries of Gilbert about the magnet. That Apuleius,[Pg 250] author of the Metamorphosis of the Golden Ass (a paraphrase, according to Bayle, of what he had taken from Lucian, as Lucian had taken it from Lucius, one of the episodes of which—Psyche—furnished Molière with matter for one of his dramas, and La Fontaine materials for a romance), who did not, to use his own language, "make the least scruple of expending his whole fortune in acquiring what he believed to be more valuable, a contempt of it," married a woman more than twice his own age, thirteen years a widow, to procure for himself, as he acknowledged, "a large settlement, and an easy condition of life." That Pythagoras, the first of the ancient sages who took the name of philosopher; who made himself so illustrious by his learning and virtue; who proved so useful in reforming and instructing the world; whose eloquence moved the inhabitants of a great city, plunged in debauchery, to avoid luxury and good cheer, and to live according to the rules of virtue; who prevailed upon the ladies to part with their fine clothes, and all their ornaments, and to make a sacrifice of them to the chief deity of the place; who engaged his disciples to practice the most difficult things, making them undergo a novitiate of silence for at least two years, and extending it to five years for those whom he knew to be more inclined to speak,—peremptorily ordered his disciples to abstain from eating beans, choosing himself rather, as some authorities have it, to be killed by those that pursued him, than to make his escape through a field of beans, so great was his respect for or abhorrence of that plant. That Luther, the greatest of the reformers, and Baxter, the greatest of the Puritans, and Wesley, the greatest religious leader of the last century, believed in witchcraft. That Dr. Johnson, who thought Swift's reputation greater than he deserved, questioning his humor, and denying him the authorship of the Tale of a Tub, could take into his confidence, and reverence for his piety, George Psalmanazar, who deceived the[Pg 251] world for some time by pretending to be a native of the island of Formosa, to support which he invented an alphabet and a grammar. ("I should," said Johnson, "as soon think of contradicting a bishop.") That Coleridge was able to depict Mont Blanc and the Vale of Chamouni at sunrise in such an overpowering manner, when he had never seen the Alps; while half-oriental Malta and classical Italy, both of which he had seen, gave him no fruits of poetry. That Schiller wrote his William Tell without ever seeing any of the glories of Lake Lucerne. That Scott, who told how to see "fair Melrose aright," never saw the famous Abbey by moonlight. (Talking of Scott at a dinner-party, Moore said, "He was the soul of honesty. When I was on a visit to him, we were coming up from Kelso at sunset, and as there was to be a fine moon, I quoted to him his own rule for seeing 'fair Melrose aright,' and proposed to stay an hour and enjoy it. 'Bah!' said Scott, 'I never saw it by moonlight.'" "The truth was," says Sir David Brewster, "Scott would not go there for fear of bogles.") That Lalla Rookh, rich, melodious, and glowing with a wealth of imagery which wearies by its very excess, is the production of one who never visited the people or scenes he therein describes. (So true, nevertheless, were its pictures of Eastern life that Colonel Wilks, the historian of British India, could not believe that Moore had never traveled in the East; and the compliment which Luttrell paid him, when he told him that his "lays are sung... by moonlight in the Persian tongue along the streets of Ispahan," is literally true, the work having been translated into Persian, and read with avidity among many Oriental nations.) That Kant, who startled an Englishman with a description of Westminster Bridge, so minutely detailed that his listener in amazement asked him how many years he had lived in London, was never out of Prussia—scarcely out of Königsberg. That Barry Cornwall, although the author of one of[Pg 252] the most stirring and popular sea songs in the language—The sea, the sea, the open sea!—was very rarely upon the tossing element, having a great fear of being made ill by it. ("I think he told me," said a visitor, "that he had never dared to cross the Channel even, and so had never seen Paris. He said, like many others, he delighted to gaze upon the waters from a safe place on land, but had a horror of living on it even for a few hours. I recalled to his recollection his own lines—'I'm on the sea! I'm on the sea! I am where I would ever be;' and he shook his head, and laughingly declared I must have misquoted his words, or that Dibdin had written the piece and put Barry Cornwall's signature to it.") That Michelet, who wrote a book on The Sea, had a like horror of it. ("I love the sea," he said, "but as in the case of a crowd, I love it at a distance.") That Vathek, that splendid Oriental tale, was written by a young man of twenty-two who had never visited the countries whose manners he so vividly described; and that of all the glories and prodigalities of the English Sardanapalus, his slender romance, the work of three days, is the only durable memorial. That Beckford's father, while Lord Mayor of London, became especially famous for a speech that was never delivered—the speech in reply to the king, written after the event by Horne Tooke, and engraved on the pedestal of a statue of Beckford erected in Guildhall. That Michel Angelo, unconsciously, laid the first stone of the Reformation. ("History tells us that Julius II. gave him an unlimited commission to make a mausoleum, in which their mutual interests should be combined. The artist's plan was a parallelogram, and the superstructure was to consist of forty statues, many of which were to be colossal, and interspersed with ornamental figures and bronze basso-rilievos, besides the necessary architecture, with appropriate decorations to unite the composition into one stupendous whole. To make a fitting place for it, the pope[Pg 253] determined to rebuild St. Peter's itself; and this is the origin of that edifice, which took one hundred and fifty years to complete, and is now the grandest display of architectural splendor that ornaments the Christian world. To prosecute the undertaking, money was wanted, and indulgences were sold to supply the deficiency of the treasury; and a monk of Saxony, opposing the authority of the church, produced this singular event, that whilst the most splendid edifice which the world had ever seen was building for the Catholic faith, the religion to which it was consecrated was shaken to its foundation.") That the erection of one of the pyramids has been ascribed to a Pharaonic princess, of great beauty, who, like Aspasia and Thargelia, became ambitious in her intimacies. (The story is that she was one day taunted by her father with the inutility of the admiration that she excited. Pyramid-building was then the fashion in the family, and she vowed that she would leave behind her a monument of the power of her charms as durable as her august relations did of the power of their armies. The number of her lovers was increased by all those who were content to sacrifice their fortunes for her smiles. The pyramid rose rapidly; with the frailty of its foundress, the massive monument increased; her lovers were ruined, but the fair architect became immortal, and found celebrity long afterward in Sappho's song.) That Gulliver's Travels, the severest lampoon upon humanity, is the favorite fairy tale of the nursery. That the distinction of the wreath of poet's laurel which crowned the heads of Petrarch and Tasso, in both cases was obtained by inferior productions: Scipio Africanus and Gerusalemme Conquistata. That Napoleon, with "a million armed men under his command, and half Europe at his feet, sat down in rage and affright to order Fouché to send a little woman over the frontiers lest she should say something about him for the drawing-rooms of Paris to laugh at." That Faraday, who at first[Pg 254] begged for the meanest place in a scientific workshop, at last declined the highest honor which British science was capable of granting. That the Jews of Amsterdam, exiles from Spain and Portugal, who owed their existence to flight from repeated persecutions, persecuted Spinoza, excommunicating him with "the anathema wherewith Joshua cursed Jericho, with the curse which Elisha laid upon the children, and with all the curses which are written in the law." That the son of Charles Wesley, born and bred in Methodism, and bound to it by all the strongest ties of pride and prejudice, became a Papist. That Cowper was mad so great a part of his life, when he is the sanest of English poets: of "fine frenzy" in his writings there is little or none. That Burke, who, in his youth, "wrote on the emotions produced by mountains and cascades; by the masterpieces of painting and sculpture; by the faces and necks of beautiful women, in the style of a parliamentary report," in his old age, "discussed treaties and tariffs in the most fervid and brilliant language of romance." That Lord Brougham, when chancellor, on the bench, hearing cases, wrote to Sir David Brewster several letters on light, one of them fourteen pages long. That a fourth part of Chalmers's Astronomical Discourses, which rivaled the Waverley novels in popularity, were penned in a small pocket-book, in a strange apartment, where he was liable every moment to interruptions; for it was, we are told, at the manse of Balmerino, disappointed in not finding the minister at home, and having a couple of hours to spare—and in a drawing-room at the manse of Kilmany, with all the excitement of meeting for the first time, after a year's absence, many of his former friends and parishioners—that he penned paragraph after paragraph of a composition which, as his son-in-law and biographer, Dr. Hanna, says, bears upon it the aspect of high and continuous elaboration. That the author of Auld Robin Gray kept the authorship of her immortal ballad a[Pg 255] secret for fifty years. That the title of The Man of Feeling adhered to Mackenzie ever after the publication of that novel; the public fancying him a pensive, sentimental Harley, whereas he was, according to Cockburn, a hard-headed, practical man, as full of worldly wisdom as most of his fictitious characters are devoid of it. That Dryden, who was personally more moral than any of the reigning wits at the commencement of the Restoration, was, in the beginning of his career, the most deliberately and unnaturally coarse as a writer—absolutely toiling and laboring against the grain of his genius, to be sufficiently obscene to please the town. That three great wits—Gay, Pope, and Arbuthnot—joined in the production of a play which was condemned the first night it was acted. That Abernethy, who was so bold in the practice of his profession, suffered for so many years from extreme diffidence in the lecture-room—"an unconquerable shyness, a difficulty in commanding at pleasure that self-possession which was necessary to open his lecture;" and that much as he sometimes forgot the courtesy due to his private patients, he was never unkind to those whom charity had confided to his care. (Leaving home one morning for the hospital when some one was desirous of detaining him, he said, "Private patients, if they do not like me, can go elsewhere; but the poor devils in the hospital I am bound to take care of.") That Godwin, who wrote against matrimony, was twice married; and while he scouted all commonplace duties, was a good husband and kind father. That Mrs. Radcliffe had never been in Italy when she wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho, yet her paintings of Italian scenery, and of the mountains of Switzerland, for truth and richness of coloring, have never been surpassed by poet or painter—not even by Byron. That Professor Wilson, whose fame in great part rests upon Noctes Ambrosianæ, was indebted to Lockhart for the idea, who wrote the first of those famous papers, and gave them[Pg 256] their name. ("I have known Lockhart long," said Wilson to a visitor; "we used to sup together with Blackwood, and that was the real origin of the Noctes. 'At Ambrose's?' 'At Ambrose's.' 'But is there such a tavern really?' 'Oh, certainly. Anybody will show it to you. It is a small house, kept in an out-of-the-way corner of the town, by Ambrose, who is an excellent fellow in his way, and has had a great influx of custom in consequence of his celebrity in the Noctes. We were there one night very late, and had all been remarkably gay and agreeable. 'What a pity,' said Lockhart, 'that some short-hand writer had not been here to take down the good things that have been said at this supper.' The next day he produced a paper called Noctes Ambrosianæ, and that was the first. I continued them afterward.") That in Robespierre's desk, after his death, were found David's plans of academies for infancy and asylums for age: "being just about to inaugurate the Reign of Love when the conspiracy against him swept him down the closing abyss of the Reign of Terror." That Lamartine, the French orator, poet, and political leader, when at the zenith of his popularity, was rejected as a witness in court where he had offered himself, the reason of the rejection being that in his youth he had been convicted of a theft. That Mallet, although pensioned for the purpose, never, according to Dr. Johnson, wrote a single line of his projected life of Marlborough,—groping for materials, and thinking of it, till he exhausted his mind. That Robert Morris, the superintendent of finance during the American Revolution, who, on his personal responsibility, borrowed large sums of money for the use of the government, which, on account of the known state of the treasury, could not have been procured in any other way; who refused the post of secretary of the treasury offered to him by Washington—naming Alexander Hamilton for the station—in his old age, having lost his fortune, was confined in a[Pg 257] Philadelphia prison, for debt. That in America, in the Province of Pennsylvania, it was enacted by the Council, William Penn presiding, that the laws should "not be printed;" and William Bradford was summoned before the Governor and Council for printing the Charter or Frame of Government of the Province; and Joseph Growden, who caused the printing of the same, with some remarks thereon, was censured by Governor Blackwell, "not only for that it was false, but for that the Proprietor (William Penn) had declared himself against the use of the printing-press." That Beau Brummell, who was for many years the associate of royalty and leader of fashion in England, died, poverty-stricken and miserable, in a French hospital for lunatic mendicants. That the great and good Dr. Johnson, "that majestic teacher of moral and religious wisdom," when he was in Edinburgh, although personally acquainted with the celebrated Dr. Robertson, declined going to hear him preach, because he "would not be seen in a Presbyterian church;" and upon being asked by Boswell where John Knox was buried, burst out, "I hope in the highway." That Wordsworth earnestly defended the Church Establishment, saying he would shed his blood for it, when he had confessed that he knew not when he had been in a church in his own country. ("All our ministers," he said, "are so vile.") That the vanity of Sir Philip Francis, in the opinion of Moore, led him to think that it was no great addition to his fame to have the credit of Junius, having done, according to his own notion, much better things. ("This," said the poet, "gets over one of the great difficulties in accounting for the concealment; and it must have been, at all events, either some very celebrated man who could dispense with such fame, or some very vain man who thought he could.") That August von Kotzebue, "the idol of the mob," was despised if not hated by the great poets of his country. ("One of his plays, The Stranger," said an[Pg 258] eminent Englishman, "I have seen acted in German, English, Spanish, French, and, I believe, also in Italian.") That Lavater, with all his real and pretended knowledge of human nature, was duped by Cagliostro. That Hogarth had the impression, which his reputation as a satirist could never disturb, that historical painting was his true vocation. That the mild Melancthon approved of the burning of Servetus. That Joseph Scaliger, who perfectly understood thirteen languages, was deeply versed in almost every branch of literature—perhaps one of the greatest scholars that any age has produced—found so much perplexity, not in acquiring, but in communicating his knowledge, that sometimes, like Nero, he wished he had never known his letters. That Chillingworth, the constant study of whose works was recommended by Locke, "for attaining the way of right reasoning," and of whom it was affirmed that he had "such extraordinary clear reason, that if the great Turk or devil could be converted, he was able to do it," contracted, according to Lord Clarendon, "such an irresolution and habit of doubting, that at last he was confident of nothing." That Gray's Elegy, taking the author's own word for it, was not intended for the public; the poet's sole ambition being to gratify a few of his friends; his own family, even, were not made a party to his writings, and his fond mother lived and died in ignorance of his immortal verse. That Playfair, when racked on his death-bed with pain, and a relation wishing to amuse him by reading one of Scott's novels, of which he was very fond, dissuaded it, saying, he would rather try the Principia. That Horace Walpole, who was greedy to excess of praise, and keenly sensitive to criticism, professed a strong aversion to being considered a man of letters; and that with all his avowed contempt for literary fame, left fair copies of his private correspondence, with copious notes, to be published after his decease. That Mirabeau,[Pg 259] who came into the world with "a huge head, a pair of grinders, one foot twisted, and tongue-tied, disfigured when three years old by confluent small-pox," called, as he grew up, a "monster," a "disheveled bully," "as ugly as the nephew of Satan," turned out to be the Demosthenes of France, and the idol of beautiful Parisian women. That Sanson, the hereditary French executioner, who officiated at the decapitation of Louis XVI., founded, before he died, a perpetual anniversary mass for the repose of the monarch's soul; and wrote his Memoirs in the style of a philanthropist, whom fate had condemned to officiate at the guillotine. That Rousseau, the chief article of whose rather hazy creed was the duty of universal philanthropy, fancied himself the object of all men's hatred. That Cowper, who held that the first duty of man was the love of God, fancied himself the object of the irrevocable hatred of his Creator. That the very name of the Cross was forbidden by the French Republic at the very time when it had proclaimed unbounded religious freedom. That the charge of plagiarism against Sterne rests in great part upon his plagiarizing an invective against plagiarism. That George Crabbe gave the leisure of more than twenty of his ripest years to writing three novels, which he afterward burned. That François Huber, who wrote the extraordinary Treatise on the Economy of Bees, which for general information on the subject has never been superseded, was from the sixteenth year of his age totally blind,—all the curious remarks and inferences involved in his observations being founded on fifty years of careful researches which he directed others, and particularly a favorite servant, to make. That eighteen years elapsed after the time that Columbus conceived his enterprise before he was enabled to carry it into effect,—most of that time being passed in almost hopeless solicitation, amidst poverty, neglect, and taunting ridicule; when "Amerigo Vespucci, the[Pg 260] pickle-dealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a subaltern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank was boatswain's mate in an expedition that never sailed, managed in this lying world to supplant Columbus, and baptize half the earth with his dishonest name." That Montaigne, who considered cruelty "the extreme of all vices," was a friend of the Guises and of the blood-stained Mont-luc: he was also for many years a member of a parliament which had much innocent blood on its head, and always spoke with reverence and affection of those who carried out the St. Bartholomew. That La Fontaine, who in his Fables "makes animals, trees, and stones talk," was in his conversation proverbially dull and stupid. That Corneille, whom La Bruyère describes as "plain, timorous, and tiresome in his conversation," "taking one word for another, and judging not of the goodness of his own writings but by the money they brought him," in his books is "as great as Augustus, Pompey, Nicomedes, and Heraclius; he talks like a king; is a politician and a philosopher; he undertakes to make heroes speak and act; he describes the Romans, and they are greater and more Romans in his verse than in their history." That John Howard, "the philanthropist" and prison reformer, introduced the system of solitary confinement, and recommended its application to refractory boys. ("For which," said the gentle Charles Lamb, "I could spit on his statue.") That Bruce, the traveler, after all his perils by flood and by field, from wars, from wild beasts, from deserts, from savage natives, broke his neck down his own staircase at home, owing to a slip of the foot, while seeing some visitors out whom he had been entertaining. That Diogenes, who was so fond of expressing his contempt for money, in his younger days was driven out of the kingdom of Pontus for counterfeiting the coin. That the mighty Dr. Johnson was at times so languid as not to be able to distinguish the hour upon the clock. That the[Pg 261] ready and voluminous De Quincey, during the four years he was "under the Circean spells of opium," seldom could prevail on himself to write even a letter; an answer of a few words to any that he received was the utmost that he could accomplish; and that, often, not until the letter had lain weeks, or even months, on his writing-desk. That out of the name of Epicurus was coined a synonym for indulgence and sensuality, when that virtuous philosopher "placed his felicity not in the pleasures of the body, but the mind, and tranquillity thereof;" who "was contented with bread and water;" and when he would feast with Jove, "desired no other addition than a piece of Cytheridian cheese." That Phidias made his sitting statue of Jupiter so large "that if he had risen up he had borne up the top of the temple." That Canova, whenever the conversation turned upon sculpture, exhibited "a freshly-bedaubed tablet," "with a smile of paternal pride." That Goethe undervalued himself as a poet, claiming only superiority over his "century" in "the difficult science of colors." That Jerrold was ambitious to write a treatise on natural philosophy. That Paul Jones, the "hero of desperate sea-fights," was enamored of Thomson's Seasons. That Bonaparte, who "overran Europe with his armies," "recreated himself with the wild rhapsodies of Ossian." That John Wesley, who "set all in motion," was himself (as described by Robert Hall) "perfectly calm and phlegmatic"—"the quiescence of turbulence." That Persius, whose satires are most licentious, sharp, and full of bitterness, is described as "very chaste, though a beautiful young man: sober, as meek as a lamb, and as modest as a young virgin." That Luis de Camoëns, the greatest of the Portuguese poets, for a long time was supported by a devoted Javanese servant, Antonio, who collected alms for him during the night, and nursed him during the day. That Paulo Borghese, pronounced almost as good a poet as[Pg 262] Tasso, was master of fourteen trades, and died because he could get employment in none. That Bentivoglio, "whose comedies will last with the Italian language," having dissipated a noble fortune in acts of charity and benevolence, and fallen into misery in his old age, was refused admittance into a hospital which he himself had erected. That Demosthenes "threw down his arms when he came within sight of the enemy, and lost that credit in the camp which he gained in the pulpit." That Socrates, by the oracle adjudged to be the wisest of mortals, "when he appeared in the attempt of some public performance before the people," "faltered in the first onset;" and "did not recover himself, but was hooted and hissed home again." That Plato, the philosopher, was "so dashed out of countenance by an illiterate rabble as to demur, and hawk, and hesitate, before he could get to the end of one short sentence." That Theophrastus was "such another coward, who, beginning to make an oration, was presently struck down with fear, as if he had seen some ghost or hobgoblin." That Isocrates was so bashful and timorous, that though he taught rhetoric, yet he could never have the confidence to speak in public. That Cicero, that master of Roman eloquence, "begun his speeches with a low, quivering voice, just like a school-boy afraid of not saying his lesson perfect enough to escape whipping." That Pope, who had the courage in his Dunciad to attack a whole generation of scholars and wits, acknowledged his inability to face a half-dozen persons to make a statement or relate an incident of considerable length. That Plutarch, the greatest of biographers, is without a biography,—none of the eminent Roman writers who were his contemporaries even mention his name. That of Correggio, who delineated the features of others so well, there exists no authentic portrait. That of Romanianus, whom Augustine speaks of as the greatest genius that ever lived, there is nothing[Pg 263] known but his name. That the epitaph of Gordianus, though written in five languages, proved insufficient to save him from oblivion. That Domitian, after he had possessed himself of the Roman Empire, turned his desires upon catching flies. That Hazlitt, "because his face was as pale and clear as marble," was "pointed at as the 'pimpled Hazlitt;'" and "because he never tasted anything but water," was "held up as an habitual gin-drinker and a sot." That Robert Burns in early life was thought to be insensible to music. (Murdock, the teacher of Burns and his brother Gilbert, says that he "tried to teach them a little sacred music, but found this impracticable, there being no music in either of their souls. As for Robert, his ear was so completely dull that he could not distinguish one tune from another, and his voice was so untunable that he could not frame a note, and was left behind by all the boys and girls of the school.") That Sir Isaac Newton, though so deep in algebra and fluxions, could not, according to Spence, readily make up a common account, and whilst he was master of the mint, used to get somebody to make up the account for him. That Socrates, according to Plato, gave occasion of laughter, at the expense of his own reputation, to the Athenians, for having never been able to sum up the votes of his tribe to deliver it to the council. That Prime Minister Gladstone, upon being asked how he employed his mind when duty compelled him to sit on the bench of the ministers while a tory was delivering himself of a dull three hours' harangue, made answer, "Last evening, when Mr. —— was speaking, I turned Rock of Ages into the Greek, and had half an hour to spare." That the great and wise and pious Chalmers so far adopted and became impressed with the views of Malthus as to urge the expediency of a restraint upon marriage, and that the same be "inculcated upon the people as the very essence of morality and religion by every[Pg 264] pastor and instructor throughout England." That The Admirable Crichton, master of a dozen languages, after disputing for six hours with eminent doctors of Padua on topics of science, delighting the assembly as much by his modesty as by his wonderful learning and judgment, at the conclusion, gave an extemporaneous oration in praise of ignorance with so much ingenuity that he reconciled his audience to their inferiority. That the Duke of Marlborough, who, while an ensign of guards, received from the Duchess of Cleveland, then favorite mistress of Charles II., five thousand pounds, with which he bought an annuity for his life of five hundred pounds,—the foundation of his subsequent fortune,—afterward, when he was famous as well as rich, and the Duchess was wretched and necessitous, "refused the common civility of lending her twenty guineas." That although Sir Isaac Newton was of opinion that he "excelled particularly in making verses," no authentic specimen of his poetry has been preserved. That the first public speech of John Randolph, three hours in length, and which established his reputation as an orator, was made in reply to the last ever delivered by the venerable Patrick Henry,—the former in his twenty-sixth year, a self-announced candidate for Congress, and the latter in his sixty-third year, the candidate of George Washington for a place in the Virginia legislature. That but a few years after John Brown's defeat and execution in Virginia, Congress enacted a law and the president approved it, by which a portion of the Harper's Ferry buildings, including the famous engine-house, so nobly defended by the old hero, and to capture which from his little garrison Robert E. Lee and the United States marines had to be sent for, was presented by the government as a free gift to the Storer College, an institution expressly designed for the education of colored men. That Henry A. Wise, who, as governor of Virginia, hung John Brown, a few years afterward, fled Richmond,[Pg 265] the capital of Virginia, at the head of a Confederate division of white troops, closely followed by a division of loyal black troops, singing, "John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave, but his soul is marching on." That a daughter of John Brown taught a free school of emancipated slave children in the deserted drawing-room of Henry A. Wise. That about the same time, at Lumpkin's Jail, which was the slave-market, there was established a theological seminary for colored young men. That Richard Realf, one of John Brown's trusted men, was appointed assessor of internal revenue for the district of Edgefield, South Carolina. That the first Confederate officer in South Carolina who officially met an officer of colored troops under a flag of truce was Captain John C. Calhoun. That one of Jefferson Davis's old slaves became a lessee of Jefferson Davis's old plantation. That Foote, the celebrated actor, died with the dropsy, never in his life, as he said, having drank a drop of water. That the great Neander, sometimes called the "second John,"—"the son of thunder and the son of love,"—had his mind first turned in the direction in which he afterward found truth and peace, by a passage in Plutarch's Pedagogue. That Plutarch, who wrote so voluminously and excellently upon morals, great personages, and great influences, made no mention in any of his books of Christ or Christianity. ("If we place his birth," says Archbishop Trench, "at about the year a. d. 50, then long before he began to write, St. Peter and St. Paul must have finished their course. All around him—at Rome, where he dwelt so long; in that Greece where the best part of his life was spent; in Asia Minor, with which Greece was in constant communication; in Macedonia—there were flourishing churches. Christianity was everywhere in the air, so that men unconsciously inhaled some of its influences, even where they did not submit themselves to its positive teaching. But for all this, no[Pg 266] word, no allusion of Plutarch's, testifies to his knowledge of the existence of these churches, or to the slightest acquaintance on his part with the Christian books." Suetonius, a contemporary of Plutarch, calls the Christians "a sort of people who held a new and impious superstition." Pliny, another contemporary, pronounces the Christian religion "a depraved, wicked, and outrageous superstition;" Tacitus, "a foreign and deadly superstition.") That John Stuart Mill, who found time and space in his autobiography to make careful lists of the incredible number of books he read between the ages of three and fourteen, to note the languages and sciences he acquired in the same time, as well as his associations and relations with his father, his brothers, and his sisters; who accepted his wife, during her life-time, as his divinity, and, after her death, confessed her memory to have been his religion,—omitted to say one word about his mother. That Jonathan Edwards, the great theologian and thinker,—in the opinion of Robert Hall, "the greatest of the sons of men,"—never had the degree of doctor of divinity or doctor of laws conferred on him, while they were showered on scores of his commonplace contemporaries. That Sir John Suckling and Richard Lovelace, so famous as courtiers and poet cavaliers, the pets of the king and the people, the much admired and adored by the female sex, died in wretchedness and despair,—the former taking poison, and the latter dying in rags in a miserable alley in London. That Milton, advanced in years, blind, and in misfortune, entered upon the composition of his immortal epic, achieving it in six years. That Scott, also advanced in years, his private affairs in ruin, undertook to liquidate, by intellectual labors alone, a debt of more than half a million of dollars, nearly accomplishing it in the same time. That Dr. Lardner published a treatise to prove that a steamboat could never cross the Atlantic (the steamship Sirius, which crossed soon after, carrying[Pg 267] over his pamphlet), and staked his reputation as a man of science to a committee of the House of Commons that no railway train could ever be propelled faster than ten miles in an hour, as the slightest curve would infallibly throw it off the rails. That Babinet, the French calculator, also risked his reputation upon the declaration that no telegram would ever be transmitted through the Atlantic to America. That Renous, a German collector in natural history, having left in a house in San Fernandino, Chili, some caterpillars under charge of a girl to feed that they might turn into butterflies, was arrested upon returning to the house, his extraordinary conduct having been rumored through the town till it reached the padres and governor, who consulted together and determined to punish the pernicious heresy. That Socrates learned music, Cato the Greek language, Plutarch Latin, and Dr. Johnson Dutch, after they were seventy years old. That Robert Hall sought relief in Dante from the racking pains of spinal disease; and Sydney Smith resorted to the same poet for comfort and solace in his old age. That De Foe, the author of two hundred and ten books and pamphlets—some of them immortal—died insolvent. That Sheridan got Woodfall to insert in his paper a calumnious article, and neglected to answer it afterward, as he intended—expending, according to Moore, all his activity in assisting the circulation of the poison, and not having industry enough left to supply the antidote. That Hugh Miller, who had such healthy views of life, as shown in his autobiography, voluntarily left it by means of a pistol. That Lloyd, one of the early friends and literary associates of Lamb and Coleridge, took lodgings at a working brazier's shop in Fetter Lane, to distract his mind from melancholy and postpone his madness. That Hazlitt said that Mary Lamb was the wisest and most rational woman he had ever known. That Professor Wilson, soon after he was selected to fill[Pg 268] the moral philosophy chair at Edinburgh, and the poet Campbell, were seen one morning leaving a tavern in that city, both "haggard and red-eyed, hoarse and exhausted, having sat tête-à-tête for twenty-four hours discussing poetry and wine to the top of their bent." That Richard Baxter, the stern Calvinist, and author of one hundred and sixty-eight works upon theology, wrote at the end of his long life, "I now see more good and more evil in all men than heretofore I did. I see that good men are not so good as I once thought they were, and I find that few are so bad as either malicious enemies or censorious separating professors do imagine." That Theodore de Beza, the apostle of John Calvin, put to press at the same time his coarse amorous poems (Juvenilia) and his intolerant apology for the trial and execution of Servetus. That the "mighty Dr. Hill, who was not a very delicate feeder, could not make a dinner out of the press till by a happy transformation into Hannah Glass he turned himself into a cook, and sold receipts for made dishes to all the savory readers in the kingdom—the press then acknowledging him second in favor only to John Bunyan; his feasts kept pace in sale with Nelson's fasts, and when his own name was fairly written out of credit, he wrote himself into immortality under an alias." That Madame de Montespan, who found it for her interest and vanity to live in habitual violation of the seventh commandment, was so rigorous in her devotions as to weigh her bread in Lent. That Cardinal Bernis, the most worthless of abbés, who owed his advancement in the church to Madame de Pompadour, the most worthless of women, refused to communicate in the dignity of the purple with a woman of so unsanctimonious a character. That Rousseau, whose preaching made it fashionable for women of rank to nurse their own children, sent his own, as soon as born, to the foundling hospital. That Coleridge and Goldsmith wrote The House that Jack Built and Goody Two Shoes: more than all it[Pg 269] is curious, and wonderful, that these two simple trifles seem destined to outlive their more elaborate productions—The Ancient Mariner and The Vicar of Wakefield. Christabel and The Deserted Village may hardly be preserved amongst the curiosities of literature, when the famous nursery rhymes—joyously ringing upon the tongues of silver-voiced children—will be immortally fresh and new.

[Pg 270]



The world will never be tired reading and talking of the peculiarities and struggles of some of its literary worthies, they seem so incredible. Poor Goldsmith, for example: every incident relating to him is interesting, even if colored by envy—as most of the contemporaneous gossip about him was. "I first met Goldsmith," says Cumberland, "at the British Coffee House. He dined with us as a visitor, introduced by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and we held a consultation upon the naming of his comedy, which some of the company had read, and which he detailed to the rest after his manner with a great deal of good-humor. Somebody suggested She Stoops to Conquer, and that title was agreed upon.... 'You and I,' said he, 'have very different motives for resorting to the stage. I write for money, and care little about fame.'... The whole company pledged themselves to the support of the poet, and faithfully kept their promise to him. In fact, he needed all that could be done for him, as Mr. Colman, then manager of Covent Garden Theatre, protested against the comedy, when as yet he had not struck upon a name for it. Johnson at length stood forth in all his terror, as champion for the piece, and backed by us, his clients and retainers, demanded a fair trial. Colman again protested, but, with that salvo for his own reputation, liberally lent his stage to one of the most eccentric productions that ever found its way to it, and She Stoops to Conquer was put into rehearsal. We were not over-sanguine of success, but[Pg 271] perfectly determined to struggle hard for our author; we accordingly assembled our strength at the Shakespeare Tavern in a considerable body for an early dinner, where Samuel Johnson took the chair at the head of a long table, and was the life and soul of the corps: the poet took post silently by his side, with the Burkes, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Fitzherbert, Caleb Whitefoord, and a phalanx of North British predetermined applauders, under the banner of Major Mills, all good men and true. Our illustrious president was in inimitable glee, and poor Goldsmith that day took all his raillery as patiently and complacently as my friend Boswell would have done any day or every day of his life. In the meantime, we did not forget our duty, and though we had a better comedy going, in which Johnson was chief actor, we betook ourselves in good time to our separate and allotted posts, and waited the awful drawing up of the curtain. As our stations were preconcerted, so were our signals for plaudits arranged and determined upon in a manner that gave every one his cue where to look for them and how to follow them up. We had amongst us a very worthy and sufficient member, long since lost to his friends and the world at large, Adam Drummond, of amiable memory, who was gifted by nature with the most sonorous, and, at the same time, the most contagious, laugh that ever echoed from the human lungs. The neighing of the horse of the son of Hystaspes was a whisper to it; the whole thunder of the theatre could not drown it. This kind and ingenuous friend fairly forewarned us that he knew no more when to give his fire than the cannon did that was planted on a battery. He desired, therefore, to have a flapper at his elbow, and I had the honor to be deputed to that office. I planted him in an upper box, pretty nearly over the stage, in full view of the pit and galleries, and perfectly well situated to give the echo all its play through the hollows and recesses of the theatre.[Pg 272] The success of our manœuvres was complete. All eyes were upon Johnson, who sat in a front row of a side box, and when he laughed everybody thought themselves warranted to roar. In the meantime, my friend followed signals with a rattle so irresistibly comic that, when he had repeated it several times, the attention of the spectators was so engrossed by his person and performances that the progress of the play seemed likely to become a secondary object, and I found it prudent to insinuate to him that he might halt his music without any prejudice to the author; but, alas, it was now too late to rein him in; he had laughed upon my signal where he found no joke, and now unluckily he fancied that he found a joke in almost everything that was said; so that nothing in nature could be more malapropos than some of his bursts every now and then were. These were dangerous moments, for the pit began to take umbrage; but we carried our play through, and triumphed, not only over Colman's judgment, but our own." It is related that Goldsmith, during the performance of the comedy, walked all the time in St. James's Park, in great uneasiness; and when he thought it must be over, he hastened to the theatre. His ears were assailed with hisses as he entered the green-room, when he eagerly inquired of Mr. Colman the cause. "Pshaw! Pshaw!" said Colman, "don't be afraid of squibs, when we have been sitting on a barrel of gun-powder these two hours." The fact was, that the comedy had been completely successful, and that it was the farce which had excited those sounds so terrific to Goldsmith.

A scene very different from that occurred at another "first acting"—as remarkable if not as famous. It was on the occasion of the first presentation of Lamb's farce of Mr. H., thirty years later, at Drury Lane. That acute dramatic scholar and critic had written a tragedy,—John Woodvil,—the fate of which his friend Procter has pleasantly narrated: "It had been in Mr. Kemble's hands for[Pg 273] about a year, and Lamb naturally became urgent to hear his decision upon it. Upon applying for this he found that his play was—lost! This was at once acknowledged, and a 'courteous request made for another copy, if I had one by me.' Luckily, another copy existed. The 'first runnings' of a genius were not, therefore, altogether lost, by having been cast, without a care, into the dusty limbo of the theatre. The other copy was at once supplied, and the play very speedily rejected. It was afterward facetiously brought forward in one of the early numbers of the Edinburgh Review, and there noticed as a rude specimen of the earliest age of the drama, 'older than Æschylus.'" But the condemnation of his tragedy did not discourage him; he now tried his genius upon a farce. Its acceptance, Talfourd says, gave Lamb some of the happiest moments he ever spent. He wrote joyously to Wordsworth about it, even carrying his humorous anticipations so far as to indulge in a draft of the "orders" he should send out to his friends after it had had a successful run: "Admit to Boxes. Mr. H. Ninth Night. Charles Lamb." Hear what he says about it to his friend Manning, then in China: "The title is Mr. H., no more; how simple, how taking! A great H— sprawling over the play-bill, and attracting eyes at every corner. The story is a coxcomb appearing at Bath, vastly rich—all the ladies dying for him—all bursting to know who he is—but he goes by no other name than Mr. H.; a curiosity like that of the dames of Strasburg about the man with the great nose. But I won't tell you any more about it. Yes, I will; but I can't give you any idea how I have done it. I'll just tell you that after much vehement admiration, when his true name comes out,—'Hogsflesh,'—all the women shun him, avoid him, and not one can be found to change her name for him—that's the idea: how flat it is here, but how whimsical in the farce! And only think how hard upon me it is that the ship is dispatched[Pg 274] to-morrow, and my triumph cannot be ascertained till the Wednesday after; but all China will ring of it by and by.... I shall get two hundred pounds from the theatre if Mr. H. has a good run, and I hope one hundred pounds for the copyright.... Mary and I are to sit next the orchestra in the pit, next the dweedle dees." The Wednesday came, the wished-for evening, which decided the fate of Mr. H. "Great curiosity," says Talfourd, "was excited by the announcement; the house was crowded to the ceiling, and the audience impatiently awaited the conclusion of the long intolerable opera by which it was preceded. At length the hero of the farce entered, gayly dressed, and in happiest spirits,—enough, not too much, elated,—and delivered the prologue with great vivacity and success. The farce began; at first it was much applauded; but the wit seemed wire-drawn; and when the curtain fell on the first act, the friends of the author began to fear. The second act dragged heavily on, as second acts of farces will do; a rout at Bath, peopled with ill-dressed and over-dressed actors and actresses, increased the disposition to yawn; and when the moment of disclosure came, and nothing worse than the name Hogsflesh was heard, the audience resented the long play on their curiosity, and would hear no more. Lamb, with his sister, sat, as he anticipated, in the front of the pit; and having joined in encoring the epilogue, the brilliancy of which injured the farce, he gave way with equal pliancy to the common feeling, and hissed and hooted as loudly as any of his neighbors!" Away went the poet's fame, and the hoped-for three hundred pounds! Not even the autocratic countenance of Johnson, and the big, contagious laugh of Drummond, could have saved them. The next morning's play-bill contained a veracious announcement, that "the new farce of Mr. H., performed for the first time last night, was received by an overflowing audience with universal applause, and will be repeated for the[Pg 275] second time to-morrow;" but the stage lamps never that morrow saw! An amusing, sad spectacle the whole thing was; Lamb, especially,—the dramatic scholar, critic, and wit, the theatre-goer, the associate of playwrights and actors,—hissing and hooting his own bantling! In a letter afterward to Manning, he labors to be amusing over the catastrophe in this ghastly and extravagant manner: "So I go creeping on since I was lamed by that cursed fall from off the top of Drury Lane Theatre into the pit, something more than a year ago. However, I have been free of the house ever since, and the house was pretty free with me upon that occasion. Hang 'em, how they hissed! It was not a hiss neither, but a sort of a frantic yell, like a congregation of mad geese; with roaring sometimes like bears; mows and mops like apes; sometimes snakes, that hissed me into madness. 'Twas like St. Anthony's temptations. Mercy on us! that God should give his favorite children, men, mouths to speak with, to discourse rationally, to promise smoothly, to flatter agreeably, to encourage warmly, to counsel wisely, to sing with, to drink with, and to kiss with, and that they should turn them into mouths of adders, bears, wolves, hyenas, and whistle like tempests, and emit breath through them like distillations of aspic poison, to asperse and vilify the innocent labors of their fellow-creatures who are desirous to please them! Heaven be pleased to make the teeth rot out of them all, therefore! Make them a reproach, and all that pass by them to loll out their tongues at them! Blind mouths! as Milton somewhere calls them."

Poor Elia! Of crazy stock; himself in a mad-house for six weeks at the end of his twentieth year; his sister insane at intervals throughout her life; his mother hopelessly bed-ridden till killed by her daughter in a fit of frenzy; his father pitifully imbecile; his old maiden aunt home from a rich relation's to be nursed till she died—all dependent upon him, his more prosperous brother declining[Pg 276] to bear any part of the burden; his work for more than thirty years monotonous, and most of it performed at the same desk in the same back office; pinched all the time by adversity; with no ear for music; the list of his few friends, to use his own words, "in the world's eye, a ragged regiment,"—including the poet Lloyd, who died insane, and the scholar Dyer, who was so absent-minded as at one time to empty the contents of his snuff-box into the tea-pot when he was preparing breakfast for a hungry friend, at another, with staff in hand, and at noonday, to walk straight into the river,—the humor, we say, of dear, wretched, gentle Charles Lamb must stand a wonder in English literature.

Not less incredible was the steady growth of the prodigious genius of Charlotte Brontë, under circumstances hardly less awfully depressing. Think of the woful life of that suffering prodigy, in that cheerless village of forbidding stone houses, whose grim architecture illustrated the rigid hardness of their inhabitants. Above, below, all around, were rocks and moors, "where neither flowers nor vegetables would flourish, and where even a tree of moderate dimensions might be hunted far and wide; where the snow lay long and late; and where often, on autumnal and winter nights, the four winds of heaven seemed to meet and rage together, tearing round the houses as if they were wild beasts striving to find an entrance." Stone dikes were used in place of hedges. The cold parsonage, at the top of the one desolate street, with its stone stairs and stone floors in the passages and parlors, was surrounded on three sides by the "great old church-yard," which was "terribly full of upright tomb-stones," and which poisoned the water-springs of the pumps. The funeral bells, tolling, tolling, and the "chip, chip" of the mason, as he cut the grave-stones in a shed close by, were habitual sounds. The pews in the old church were of black oak, with high divisions, with the[Pg 277] names of the owners painted in white letters on the doors. Her father, the clergyman, harsh, hard, and unsocial; at all times denying flesh food to his puny children; at dinner permitting them only potatoes, and rarely or never taking his meals with them; with a temper so violent and distrustful as to cause him always to carry a pistol, which he was in the habit of discharging from an upper window whenever in a fit of passion; who burned the little colored shoes of his children, presented by their mother's cousin, lest they should foster a love of dress; who cut in strips the silk gown of his wife because its color was not suited to his puritanical taste—at the time, too, when she was slowly dying of an internal cancer. Sent from home to be educated at a miserable school provided for the daughters of clergymen, where were bad air and bad food, and which caused the speedy death of both her elder sisters. So short-sighted that "she always seemed to be seeking something, moving her head from side to side to catch a sight of it." Having no visitors; visiting, during her childhood, but at one house, and that for but a short time. Her only intimate associates her two younger sisters. Wonderful trio! "At nine o'clock they put away their work, and began to pace the room backward and forward, up and down, over the stone floors,—as often with the candles extinguished, for economy's sake, as not,—their figures glancing in the firelight, and out into the shadow, perpetually. At this time they talked over past cares and troubles; they planned for the future, and consulted each other as to their plans. In after years, this was the time for discussing together the plots of their novels. And again, still later, this was the time for the last surviving sister (Charlotte) to walk alone, from old accustomed habit, round and round the desolate room, thinking sadly upon the 'days that were no more.'" Is there anything in books more sad and touching? Her only pet was a fierce bull-dog,[Pg 278] and her only male associate her brilliant, drunken brother (who willfully died upon his feet, in an upright position, to fulfill an oft-declared purpose), a continual disgrace and terror as long as he lived. And much of the time, poor thing, in an agony about the fate of her soul! How the little, pinched victim of all this misery and wretchedness could have written a narrative which at once took its place, in spite of faithless and unsympathizing critics, and securely kept it, too, amongst the highest and best productions of the age, is a startling marvel in literature. Out of her own life she wrought her wonderful works. "The fiery imagination that at times eats me up," she wrote to her friend. In her stories she but told her own agonies, as Cowper noted the progress of his insanity, and the French physiologist his ebbing pulse under the deadly influence of burning charcoal.

But, recurring to Lamb and his set, what impossible, incomprehensible characters it included: Elton Hammond, for instance, a contemporary if not an associate. He inherited his father's tea business in Milk Street. In order, he said, to set an example to the world how a business should be carried on, and that he might not be interfered with in his plans, he turned off the clerks and every servant in the establishment, which soon wound up the business altogether. For a while he had no other society than a little child, which he taught its letters, and a mouse, that fed out of his hands. He journalized his food, his sleep, his dreams. He had a conviction that he was to have been, and ought to have been, the greatest of men, but was conscious in fact that he was not. The reason assigned by him for putting an end to his life was that he could not condescend to live without fulfilling his proper vocation. He said to one of his friends that he was on the point of making a discovery which would put an end to physical and moral evil in the world. He quarreled with another of his friends for not being[Pg 279] willing to join him in carrying a heavy box through the streets of London for a poor woman. He refused a private secretaryship to Rough, a colonial chief justice, on the ground of the obligation involved to tell a lie and write a lie every day, subscribing himself the humble servant of people he did not serve, and toward whom he felt no humility. Here are a few things he wrote: "When I was about eight or ten I promised marriage to a wrinkled cook we had, aged about sixty-five. I was convinced of the insignificance of beauty, but really felt some considerable ease at hearing of her death, about four years after, when I began to repent of my vow."... "I always said that I would do anything to make another happy, and told a boy I would give him a shilling if it would make him happy; he said it would, so I gave it to him. It is not to be wondered at that I had plenty of such applications, and soon emptied my purse. It is true I rather grudged the money, because the boys laughed rather more than I wished them. But it would have been inconsistent to have appeared dissatisfied. Some of them were generous enough to return the money, and I was prudent enough to take it, though I declared that if it would make them happy I should be sorry to have it back."... "It is not pain, it is not death, that I dread, it is the hatred of a man; there is something in it so shocking that I would rather submit to any injury than incur or increase the hatred of a man by revenging it."... "The chief philosophical value of my papers I conceive to be that they record something of a mind that was very near taking a station far above all that have hitherto appeared in the world."... "It is provoking that the secret of rendering man perfect in wisdom, power, virtue, and happiness, should die with me. I never till this moment doubted that some other person would discover it; but I now recollect that when I have relied on others I have always been disappointed. Perhaps none may ever discover it,[Pg 280] and the human race has lost its only chance of eternal happiness."... "I believe that man requires religion. I believe that there is no true religion now existing. I believe that there will be one. It will not, after eighteen hundred years of existence, be of questionable truth and utility, but perhaps in eighteen years be entirely spread over the earth, an effectual remedy for all human suffering, and a source of perpetual joy. It will not need immense learning to be understood, it will be subject to no controversy."... "Another sufficient reason for suicide is, that I was this morning out of temper with Mrs. Douglas (for no fault of hers). I did not betray myself in the least, but I reflected to be exposed to the possibility of such an event once a year was evil enough to render life intolerable. The disgrace of using an impatient word is to me overpowering."... "I am stupefied with writing, and yet I cannot go my long journey without taking leave of one from whom I have received so much kindness, and from whose society so much delight. My place is booked in Charon's boat to-night at twelve. Diana kindly consents to be of the party. This is handsome of her. She was not looked for on my part. Perhaps she is willing to acknowledge my obedience to her laws by a genteel compliment. Good. The gods, then, are grateful." To the coroner and his jury he wrote, "Let me suggest the following verdict, as combining literal truth with justice: 'Died by his own hand, but not feloniously.' If I have offended God, it is for God, not you, to inquire. Especial public duties I have none. If I have deserted any engagement in society, let the parties aggrieved consign my name to obloquy. I have for nearly seven years been disentangling myself from all my engagements, that I might at last be free to retire from life. I am free to-day, and avail myself of my liberty. I cannot be a good man, and prefer death to being a bad one,—as bad as I have been and as others are."

[Pg 281]

And there was Blake—"artist, genius, mystic, or madman?" "Probably all," thought Robinson, one of his warmest admirers; for he had admirers, and some of them were eminent. Coleridge knew him, and talked finely about him. Wordsworth thought he had "in him the elements of poetry much more than either Byron or Scott." Lamb liked his poems. Hazlitt said of them, "They are beautiful, and only too deep for the vulgar." His genius as an artist was praised by Flaxman and Fuseli. His countenance is described as "Socratic," with "an expression of great sweetness;" "when animated he had about him an air of inspiration." Though in great poverty, he was ever a gentleman; with genuine dignity and independence, he scorned all presents. He wrote songs, composed music, and painted, at the same time he pursued his business as an engraver. Among his friends he gave out that his pictures were copied from great works revealed to him, and that his lessons in art were given him by celestial tongues. When he spoke of his "visions," it was in the ordinary unemphatic tones in which we speak of every-day matters. He conversed familiarly with the spirits of Homer, Moses, Pindar, Dante, Shakespeare, Voltaire, Sir William Wallace, Milton, and other illustrious dead, giving repeatedly their very words in their conversations. Sometimes, too, he wrangled with demons. His books (and his MSS. are immense in quantity) are dictations from the spirits. He possessed, it was said, the highest and most exalted powers of the mind, but not the lower. "He could fly, but he could not walk; he had genius and inspiration, without the prosaic balance-wheel of common sense." In poetry, it was observed, he most enjoyed the parts which to others are most obscure. His wife Katherine, good soul, believed in him, and was invaluable to him. She was ever sitting by his side, or assisting him at the press. "You know, dear," she said, believingly, "the first time you saw God was[Pg 282] when you were four years old, and he put his head to the window, and set you a-screaming." Both believed that his pictures were veritable visions transferred to the canvas or the plate. Sixteen of his mystical designs are illustrations of "The Gates of Paradise," one hundred of "Jerusalem," and twenty-seven "singular, but powerful drawings" disclose the mysteries of hell. He wrote to Flaxman, addressing him as "Dear Sculptor of Eternity," and saying, in his strange, wild way, "In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity, before my mortal life; and these works are the delight and study of archangels." A friend said to him, "You express yourself as Socrates used to do. What resemblance do you suppose there is between your spirit and his?" "The same as between our countenances," he answered. After a pause he added, "I was Socrates;" and then, as if correcting himself, said, "a sort of brother. I must have had conversations with him. So I had with Jesus Christ. I have an obscure recollection of having been with both of them." Once he said, "There is no use in education. I hold it to be wrong. It is the great sin. It is eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was the fault of Plato. He knew of nothing but the virtues and vices, and good and evil. There is nothing in all that. Everything is good in God's eyes." Being asked about the moral character of Dante, in writing his "Vision,"—was he pure? "Pure," said Blake, "do you think there is any purity in God's eyes? The angels in heaven are no more so than we. 'He chargeth his angels with folly.'" He afterward represented the Supreme Being as liable to error. "Did he not repent him that he had made Nineveh?" Though he spoke of his happiness, he also alluded to past sufferings, and to suffering as necessary. "There is suffering in heaven, for where there is the capacity of enjoyment, there is also[Pg 283] the capacity of pain." Comparing moral with natural evil, he said, "Who shall say that God thinks evil? That is a wise tale of the Mahometans, of the angel of the Lord that murdered the infant" (alluding to the Hermit of Parnell). "Is not every infant that dies of disease murdered by an angel?" "I saw Milton," he said on one occasion, "and he told me to beware of being misled by his Paradise Lost. In particular he wished me to show the falsehood of the doctrine, that carnal pleasures arose from the Fall. The Fall could not produce any pleasure." He spoke of Milton as being at one time a sort of classical atheist, and of Dante as being now with God. His faculty of vision, he said, he had had from early infancy. He thought all men partook of it, but it is lost for want of being cultivated. "I assert for myself," said he, "that I do not behold the outward creation, and that to me it is hinderance and not action. 'What!' it will be questioned, 'when the sun rises, do you not see a disc of fire somewhat like a guinea?' Oh no, no, no! I see an innumerable company of the heavenly host, crying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.' I question not my corporeal eye any more than I would question a window concerning a sight. I look through it, and not with it."... "I have written more than Voltaire or Rousseau. Six or seven epic poems as long as Homer, and twenty tragedies as long as Macbeth."... "I write when commanded by the spirits, and the moment I have written I see the words fly about the room in all directions. It is then published, and the spirits can read. My MS. is of no further use. I have been tempted to burn my MSS., but my wife won't let me."... "Men are born with a devil and an angel."... "I have never known a very bad man, who had not something very good about him."... "I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much taken from his spiritual glory. I wish to do[Pg 284] nothing for profit I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy." For the greater part of his life, he "lived in a garret, on crusts of bread." Death he considered as nothing but "going from one room to another." He died with his pencil in his hand, making a likeness of his wife, and chanting pleasant songs. Died, she said, "like an angel."

And George Dyer—a pet acquaintance of Lamb's—what a character was he! A bundle of contradictions if ever there was one. Poor and always struggling, but never envious, and utterly without hatred of the rich. A poet whose poetry was to himself "as good as anybody's, and anybody's as good as his own." A bachelor, his life was solitary, but he never thought of his solitude, till it was suggested to him by an observing, sympathizing widow, who kindly and generously consented to share it with him—her fourth husband! He is characterized by one of his literary friends as "one of the best creatures morally that ever breathed." He was a ripe scholar, but to the end of his days (and he lived to be eighty-five) he was a bookseller's drudge. He made indexes, corrected the press, and occasionally gave lessons in Greek and Latin. Simple and kind, he repeatedly gave away his last guinea. He was the author of the Life and Writings of Robert Robinson, which was pronounced by Wordsworth and Samuel Parr one of the best biographies in the language. The charm of the book is that Robinson's peculiar humor was wholly unappreciated by the simple-minded biographer. Robinson was a fine humorist; Dyer had absolutely no sense of humor. It was when he was on his way from Lamb's to Mrs. Barbauld's, that, in his absent-mindedness, he walked straight into New River, and was with difficulty saved from drowning. (Young, one of Fielding's intimate friends, who sat for the portrait of Parson Adams, was another such character. He also "supported an uncomfortable existence by[Pg 285] translating for the booksellers from the Greek," overflowed with benevolence and learning, and was noted for his absence of mind. He had been chaplain of a regiment during Marlborough's wars; and "meditating one evening upon the glories of nature, and the goodness of Providence, he walked straight into the camp of the enemy; nor was he aroused from his reverie till the hostile sentinel shouted, 'Who goes there?' The commanding officer, finding that he had come among them in simplicity and not in guile, allowed him to return, and lose himself, if he pleased, in meditations on his danger and deliverance.") It is said that certain roguish young ladies, Dyer's cousins, lacking due reverence for learning and poetry, were wont to heap all sorts of meats upon the worthy gentleman's plate at dinner, he being lost in conversation until near the close of the repast, when he would suddenly recollect himself and fall to till he had finished the whole. Talfourd, speaking of Lamb and Dyer, says, "No contrast could be more vivid than that presented by the relations of each to the literature they both loved,—one divining its inmost essences, plucking out the heart of its mysteries, shedding light on its dimmest recesses; the other devoted with equal assiduity to its externals. Books, to Dyer, 'were a real world, both pure and good;' among them he passed, unconscious of time, from youth to extreme old age, vegetating on their dates and forms, and 'trivial fond records,' in the learned air of great libraries, or the dusty confusion of his own, with the least possible apprehension of any human interest vital in their pages, or of any spirit of wit or fancy glancing across them. His life was an academic pastoral. Methinks I see his gaunt, awkward form, set off by trousers too short, like those outgrown by a gawky lad, and a rusty coat as much too large for the wearer, hanging about him like those garments which the aristocratic Milesian peasantry prefer to the most comfortable rustic[Pg 286] dress; his long head silvered over with short yet straggling hair, and his dark gray eyes glistening with faith and wonder, as Lamb satisfies the curiosity which has gently disturbed his studies as to the authorship of the Waverley Novels, by telling him, in the strictest confidence, that they are the works of Lord Castlereagh, just returned from the Congress of Sovereigns at Vienna. Off he runs, with animated stride and shambling enthusiasm, nor stops till he reaches Maida Hill, and breathes his news into the startled ear of Leigh Hunt, who, 'as a public writer,' ought to be possessed of the great fact with which George is laden! Or shall I endeavor to revive the bewildered look with which just after he had been announced as one of Lord Stanhope's executors and residuary legatees, he received Lamb's grave inquiry whether it was true, as commonly reported, that he was to be made a lord? 'Oh dear, no, Mr. Lamb,' responded he with earnest seriousness, but not without a moment's quivering vanity. 'I could not think of such a thing; it is not true, I assure you.' 'I thought not,' said Lamb, 'and I contradict it wherever I go. But the government will not ask your consent; they may raise you to the peerage without your ever knowing it.' 'I hope not, Mr. Lamb; indeed—indeed, I hope not. It would not suit me at all,' responded Dyer, and went his way musing on the possibility of a strange honor descending on his reluctant brow. Or shall I recall the visible presentment of his bland unconsciousness of evil when his sportive friend taxed it to the utmost by suddenly asking what he thought of the murderer Williams, who, after destroying two families in Ratcliffe Highway, had broken prison by suicide, and whose body had just before been conveyed in shocking procession to its cross-road grave? The desperate attempt to compel the gentle optimist to speak ill of a mortal creature produced no happier success than the answer, 'Why, I should think, Mr. Lamb, he must[Pg 287] have been rather an eccentric character.'" Honest, simple soul! My Uncle Toby over again, for all the world.

What a contrast with all these ailing souls was the magnificent Christopher North! You remember the scene of his triumph on the occasion of his first lecture to the moral philosophy class in the University of Edinburgh. It deserves to be thought of along with the "trial scenes" we have been reviewing. The contest for the professorship had been bitterly fought over a period of four months, with Sir William Hamilton for competitor,—Sir James Mackintosh and Mr. Malthus being only possible candidates. Austerity and prejudice—essential and saintly elements in all good Scotsmen—instinctively combined against him, and inveterately pursued him. "When it was found useless to gainsay his mental qualifications for the office, or to excite odium on the ground of his literary offenses, the attack was directed against his moral character, and it was broadly insinuated that this candidate for the chair of ethics was himself a man of more than doubtful morality; that he was, in fact, not merely a 'reveler,' and a 'blasphemer,' but a bad husband, a bad father, a person not fit to be trusted as a teacher of youth." A "bad husband" to the good woman he thus memorably characterized in a letter to one of his friends: "I was this morning married to Jane Penney, and doubt not of receiving your blessing, which, from your brotherly heart, will delight me, and doubtless not be unheard by the Almighty. She is gentleness, innocence, sense, and feeling, surpassed by no woman, and has remained pure, as from her Maker's hands;" the mother of all those children he loved so,—the death of whom, in his ripe manhood and in the bloom of his fame, nearly broke his heart! Sir Walter and other powerful friends repelled the slanders. Wilson triumphed. Still he was pursued; his enemies determined he should be put down, humiliated, even in his own class-room. An[Pg 288] eye-witness thus describes the scene on the occasion of the delivery of the professor's first lecture: "There was a furious bitterness of feeling against him among the classes of which probably most of his pupils would consist, and although I had no prospect of being among them, I went to his first lecture, prepared to join in a cabal, which I understood was formed to put him down. The lecture-room was crowded to the ceiling. Such a collection of hard-browed, scowling Scotsmen, muttering over their knobsticks, I never saw. The professor entered with a bold step, amid profound silence. Every one expected some deprecatory or propitiatory introduction of himself and his subject, upon which the mass was to decide against him, reason or no reason; but he began in a voice of thunder right into the matter of his lecture, kept up unflinchingly and unhesitatingly, without a pause, a flow of rhetoric such as Dugald Stewart or Thomas Brown, his predecessors, never delivered in the same place. Not a word, not a murmur escaped his captivated, I ought to say his conquered audience, and at the end they gave him a downright unanimous burst of applause. Those who came to scoff remained to praise." The ruling classes in educational matters could not conceive of the fitness of a man like Wilson for the moral philosophy chair in a university. The giant he was physically, with appetites and passions to match, he was a reproach to the feeble, a terror to the timid, and a horror to the "unco guid, or the rigidly righteous." The truth of him was such an exaggeration of the average man that the scholars and pedagogues and parsons could only look upon him as a monster, with a character as monstrous as his nature. He is described as "long-maned and mighty, whose eyes were 'as the lightnings of fiery flame,' and his voice like an organ bass; who laid about him, when the fit was on, like a Titan, breaking small men's bones; who was loose and careless in his apparel, even as in all[Pg 289] things he seemed too strong and primitive to heed much the niceties of custom." In his youth, he "ran three miles for a wager against a chaise," and came out ahead. Somewhat later he "gained a bet by walking, toe and heel, six miles in two minutes within the hour." When he was twenty-one, height five feet eleven inches, weight eleven stone, he leaped, with a run, twenty-three feet "on a slightly inclined plane, perhaps an inch to a yard," and "was admitted to be (Ireland excepted) the best far leaper of his day in England." He could jump twelve yards in three jumps, with a great stone in each hand. "With him the angler's silent trade was a ruling passion. He did not exaggerate to the Shepherd in the Noctes, when he said that he had taken 'a hundred and thirty in one day out of Loch Aire,' as we see by his letters that even larger numbers were taken by him." Of his pugilistic skill, it is said by De Quincey that "there was no man who had any talents, real or fancied, for thumping or being thumped, but he had experienced some preening of his merits from Mr. Wilson." "Meeting one day with a rough and unruly wayfarer, who showed inclination to pick a quarrel concerning right of passage across a certain bridge, the fellow obstructed the way, and making himself decidedly obnoxious, Wilson lost all patience, and offered to fight him. The man made no objection to the proposal, but replied that he had better not fight with him, as he was so and so, mentioning the name of a (then not unknown) pugilist. This statement had, as may be supposed, no effect in dampening the belligerent intentions of the Oxonian; he knew his own strength, and his skill too. In one moment off went his coat, and he set to upon his antagonist in splendid style. The astonished and punished rival, on recovering from his blows and surprise, accosted him thus: 'You can only be one of the two: you are either Jack Wilson or the devil.'" His pedestrian feats were marvelous. "On[Pg 290] one occasion," writes an old classmate of Wilson's at Oxford, "having been absent a day or two, we asked him, on his return to the common room, where he had been. He said, In London. When did you return? This morning. How did you come? On foot. As we all expressed surprise, he said, 'Why, the fact is, I dined yesterday with a friend in Grosvenor (I think it was) Square, and as I quitted the house, a fellow who was passing was impertinent and insulted me, upon which I knocked him down; and as I did not choose to have myself called in question for a street row, I at once started, as I was, in my dinner dress, and never stopped until I got to the college gate this morning, as it was being opened.' Now this was a walk of fifty-eight miles at least, which he must have got over in eight or nine hours at most, supposing him to have left the dinner-party at nine in the evening." Some years later, he walked—his wife accompanying him—"three hundred and fifty miles in the Highlands, between the 5th of July and the 26th of August, sojourning in divers glens from Sabbath unto Sabbath, fishing, eating, and staring." Mrs. Wilson returned from this wonderful tour "bonnier than ever," and Wilson himself, to use his own phrase, "strong as an eagle." One of their resting-places was at the school-master's house in Glenorchy. While there "his time was much occupied by fishing, and distance was not considered an obstacle. He started one morning at an early hour to fish in a loch which at that time abounded in trout, in the Braes of Glenorchy, called Loch Toilà. Its nearest point was thirteen miles distant from his lodgings at the school-house. On reaching it, and unscrewing the butt-end of his fishing-rod to get the top, he found he had it not. Nothing daunted, he walked back, breakfasted, got his fishing-rod, made all complete, and off again to Loch Toilà. He could not resist fishing on the river when a pool looked inviting, but he went[Pg 291] always onward, reaching the loch a second time, fished round it, and found that the long summer day had come to an end. He set off for his home again with his fishing-basket full, and confessing somewhat to weariness. Passing near a farm-house whose inmates he knew (for he had formed acquaintance with all), he went to get some food. They were in bed, for it was eleven o'clock at night, and after rousing them, the hostess hastened to supply him; but he requested her to get him some whisky and milk. She came with a bottle full, and a can of milk, with a tumbler. Instead of a tumbler, he requested a bowl, and poured the half of the whisky in, along with half the milk. He drank the mixture at a draught, and while his kind hostess was looking on with amazement, he poured the remainder of the whisky and milk into the bowl, and drank that also. He then proceeded homeward, performing a journey of not less than seventy miles." Prodigious! It beat the achievement of Phidippides, who, according to tradition, ran from Athens to Sparta, one hundred and twenty miles, in two days. But here is a street scene, related to his daughter by a lady who saw it, which illustrates the tremendous professor of moral philosophy still further. "One summer afternoon, as she was about to sit down to dinner, her servant requested her to look out of the window, to see a man cruelly beating his horse. The sight not being a very gratifying one, she declined, and proceeded to take her seat at table. It was quite evident that the servant had discovered something more than the ill-usage of the horse to divert his attention, for he kept his eyes fixed on the window, again suggesting to his mistress that she ought to look out. Her interest was at length excited, and she rose to see what was going on. In front of her house (Moray Place) stood a cart of coals, which the poor victim of the carter was unable to drag along. He had been beating the beast most unmercifully, when at[Pg 292] that moment Professor Wilson, walking past, had seen the outrage and immediately interfered. The lady said that from the expression of his face, and vehemence of his manner, the man was evidently 'getting it,' though she was unable to hear what was said. The carter, exasperated at this interference, took up his whip in a threatening way, as if with the intent to strike the professor. In an instant that well-nerved hand twisted it from the coarse fist of the man as if it had been a straw, and walking quietly up to the cart he unfastened its trams, and hurled the whole weight of coals into the street. The rapidity with which this was done left the driver of the cart speechless. Meanwhile, poor Rosinante, freed from his burden, crept slowly away, and the professor, still clutching the whip in one hand, and leading the horse in the other, proceeded through Moray Place to deposit the wretched animal in better keeping than that of his driver." Another of his "interferences" occurred during vacation time, in the south of Scotland, when the professor had exchanged the gown for the old "sporting jacket." "On his return to Edinburgh, he was obliged to pass through Hawick, where, on his arrival, finding it to be fair-day, he readily availed himself of the opportunity to witness the amusements going on. These happened to include a 'little mill' between two members of the local 'fancy.' His interest in pugilism attracted him to the spot, where he soon discovered something very wrong, and a degree of injustice being perpetrated which he could not stand. It was the work of a moment to espouse the weaker side, a proceeding which naturally drew down upon him the hostility of the opposite party. This result was to him, however, of little consequence. There was nothing for it but to beat or be beaten. He was soon 'in position;' and, before his unknown adversary well knew what was coming, the skilled fist of the professor had planted such a 'facer' as did not require[Pg 293] repetition. Another 'round' was not called for; and leaving the discomfited champion to recover at his leisure, the professor walked coolly away to take his seat in the stage-coach, about to start for Edinburgh." Is it any wonder that such a gigantic specimen of human nature was thought by the steady-going and saintly Edinburghers, who tried men by mathematics and the catechism, to be preposterously unfit for the chair of ethics in their hallowed university? They did not know then that the monster they hunted was capable of producing a description of a fairy's funeral—one of the most exquisite bits of prose composition in literature, which is said to have so impressed Lord Jeffrey's mind that he never was tired of repeating it. Read it, and say you if anybody but Christopher North could have written it: "There it was, on a little river island, that once, whether sleeping or waking we know not, we saw celebrated a fairy's funeral. First we heard small pipes playing, as if no bigger than hollow rushes that whisper to the night winds; and more piteous than aught that trills from earthly instrument was the scarce audible dirge! It seemed to float over the stream, every foam-bell emitting a plaintive note, till the fairy anthem came floating over our couch, and then alighting without footsteps among the heather. The pattering of little feet was then heard, as if living creatures were arranging themselves in order, and then there was nothing but a more ordered hymn. The harmony was like the melting of musical dew-drops, and sang, without words, of sorrow and death. We opened our eyes, or rather sight came to them when closed, and dream was vision. Hundreds of creatures, no taller than the crest of the lapwing, and all hanging down their veiled heads, stood in a circle on a green plat among the rocks; and in the midst was a bier, framed as it seemed of flowers unknown to the Highland hills; and on the bier a fairy lying with uncovered face, pale as a[Pg 294] lily, and motionless as the snow. The dirge grew fainter and fainter, and then died quite away; when two of the creatures came from the circle, and took their station, one at the head, the other at the foot of the bier. They sang alternate measures, not louder than the twitter of the awakened woodlark before it goes up the dewy air, but dolorous and full of the desolation of death. The flower-bier stirred; for the spot on which it lay sank slowly down, and in a few moments the greensward was smooth as ever, the very dews glittering above the buried fairy. A cloud passed over the moon; and, with a choral lament, the funeral troop sailed duskily away, heard afar off, so still was the midnight solitude of the glen. Then the disenthralled Orchy began to rejoice as before, through all her streams and falls; and at the sudden leaping of the waters and outbursting of the moon, we awoke."

[Pg 295]



"It never rains but it pours," is the pat proverb of all the world to express its belief in the inevitableness and omnipotence of extremes. Carlyle has enlarged upon it significantly, in that famous passage in which he likens men collectively to sheep. Like sheep, he says, are we seen ever running in torrents and mobs, if we ever run at all. "Neither know we, except by blind habit, where the good pastures lie: solely when the sweet grass is between our teeth, we know it, and chew it; also when the grass is bitter and scant, we know it,—and bleat and butt: these last two facts we know of a truth, and in very deed. Thus do men and sheep play their parts on this nether earth; wandering restlessly in large masses, they know not whither; for most part, each following his neighbor, and his own nose. Nevertheless, not always; look better, you shall find certain that do, in some small degree, know whither. Sheep have their bell-wether, some ram of the folds, endued with more valor, with clearer vision than other sheep; he leads them through the wolds, by height and hollow, to the woods and water-courses, for covert or for pleasant provender; courageously marching, and if need be leaping, and with hoof and horn doing battle, in the van: him they courageously, and with assured heart, follow. Touching it is, as every herdsman will inform you, with what chivalrous devotedness these woolly hosts adhere to their wether; and rush after him, through good report and through bad report, were it into safe shelters and green thymy nooks, or into asphaltic[Pg 296] lakes and the jaws of devouring lions. Even also must we recall that fact which we owe Jean Paul's quick eye: 'If you hold a stick before the wether, so that he, by necessity, leaps in passing you, and then withdraw your stick, the flock will nevertheless all leap as he did; and the thousandth sheep shall be found impetuously vaulting over air, as the first did over an otherwise impassable barrier.'"

Society is always swaying backward and forward—vibrating, like the pendulum, from one extreme to another; for a moment only, now and then, is it upright, and governed by reason. Moderation is hateful to it. There is a pretty passage in one of Lucian's dialogues, where Jupiter complains to Cupid that, though he has had so many intrigues, he was never sincerely beloved. In order to be loved, says Cupid, you must lay aside your ægis and your thunder-bolts, and you must curl and perfume your hair, and place a garland on your head, and walk with a soft step, and assume a winning, obsequious deportment. But, replied Jupiter, I am not willing to resign so much of my dignity. Then, replied Cupid, leave off desiring to be loved. He wanted to be Jupiter and Adonis at the same time. "It is natural," says Brackenridge, in Modern Chivalry, "to distrust him who proposes to stop short of what seems a complete reform. We are right, say the people. You are right, says the man of prudence. We were wrong, say the people. You were wrong, says the same man." The majority rules. In the grove of Gotama lived a Brahman, who, having bought a sheep in another village, and carrying it home on his shoulder to sacrifice, was seen by three rogues, who resolved to take the animal from him by the following stratagem: Having separated, they agreed to encounter the Brahman on his road as if coming from different parts. One of them cried out, "O Brahman! why dost thou carry that dog on thy shoulder?" "It is not a dog," replied the[Pg 297] Brahman; "it is a sheep for sacrifice." As he went on, the second knave met him, and put the same question; whereupon the Brahman, throwing the sheep on the ground, looked at it again and again. Having replaced it on his shoulder, the good man went with mind wavering like a string. But when the third rogue met him and said, "Father, where art thou taking that dog?" the Brahman, believing his eyes bewitched, threw down the sheep and hurried home, leaving the thieves to feast on that which he had provided for the gods.

The world grows tired of admiring, and delights to limit its admiration. "Garrick," said Hazlitt, "kept up the fever of public admiration as long as anybody, but when he returned to the stage after a short absence no one went to see him." "The old Earl of Norwich, who," said Sir William Temple, "was esteemed the greatest wit in Charles the First's reign, when Charles the Second came to the throne was thought nothing of." Happy if the world's favorite to-day be not its victim to-morrow. Traveling through Switzerland, Napoleon was greeted with such enthusiasm that Bourrienne said to him, "It must be delightful to be greeted with such demonstrations of enthusiastic admiration." "Bah!" replied Napoleon, "this same unthinking crowd, under a slight change of circumstances, would follow me just as eagerly to the scaffold." "I have," said an eminent American general to Baron de Hübner, "the greatest horror of popular demonstrations. These very men who deafen you with their cheers to-day are capable of throwing stones and mud at you to-morrow." Mirabeau, on a famous occasion, amid the threatening clamors of an angry crowd, said, "A few days ago I too was to be carried in triumph, and now they are bawling through the streets, 'the great treason of the Count of Mirabeau.' This lesson was not necessary to remind me that the distance is short between the Capitol and the Tarpeian Rock." "What throngs! what acclamations,"[Pg 298] exclaimed the flatterers of Cromwell, when he was proclaimed Protector of the Commonwealth of England. Cromwell replied, "There would be still more, if they were going to hang me." The multitudes that went before and that followed Christ into Jerusalem, crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest," "cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? and they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him." Madame Roland wrote from her prison-cell to Robespierre, "It is not, Robespierre, to excite your compassion, that I present you with a picture less melancholy than the truth. I am above asking your pity; and were it offered, I should perhaps deem it an insult. I write for your instruction. Fortune is fickle; and popular power is liable to change." "Society," said Macaulay, writing of Byron, "capricious in its indignation, as it had been capricious in its fondness, flew into a rage with its froward and petted darling. He had been worshiped with an irrational idolatry. He was persecuted with an irrational fury." Junius, in the celebrated letter, warns the king that "while he plumes himself upon the security of his title to the crown, he should remember that, as it was acquired by one revolution, it may be lost by another." The Jews, said Luther, have a story of a king of Bashan, whom they call Og; they say he had lifted a great rock to throw at his enemies, but God made a hole in the middle, so that it slipped down upon the giant's neck, and he could never rid himself of it.

Causes of good or evil seem to accumulate, when a very slight thing is the beginning of a succession of blessings or curses. All things conspire, till the recipients of blessings are smothered, or the victims of curses are crushed. Till the cup is full, overflowing; till the burden is unbearable, merciless; till good becomes satiety, or evil cruelty, all the world seems to delight in contributing or robbing, deifying or anathematizing.

[Pg 299]

"Never stoops the soaring vulture
On his quarry in the desert,
On the sick or wounded bison,
But another vulture, watching
From his high aerial lookout,
Sees the downward plunge and follows;
And a third pursues the second,
Coming from the invisible ether,
First a speck, and then a vulture,
Till the air is dark with pinions.
So disasters come not singly;
But as if they watched and waited,
Scanning one another's motions,
When the first descends, the others
Follow, follow, gathering flock-wise
Round their victim, sick and wounded,
First a shadow, then a sorrow,
Till the air is dark with anguish."

"What a noise out-of-doors!" exclaimed Souvestre's Philosopher from his attic in Paris. "What is the meaning of all these shouts and cries? Ah! I recollect: this is the last day of the carnival, and the maskers are passing. Christianity has not been able to abolish the noisy bacchanalian festivals of the pagan times, but it has changed the names. That which it has given to these 'days of liberty' announces the ending of the feasts, and the month of fasting which should follow; 'carn-a-val' means literally 'down with flesh meat!' It is a forty days' farewell to the 'blessed pullets and fat hams,' so celebrated by Pantagruel's minstrel. Man prepares for privation by satiety, and finishes his sins thoroughly before he begins to repent. Why, in all ages and among every people, do we meet with some one of these mad festivals? Must we believe that it requires such an effort for men to be reasonable, that the weaker ones have need of rest at intervals. The monks of La Trappe, who are condemned to silence by their rule, are allowed to speak once in a month, and on this day, they all talk at once from the rising to the setting of the sun."

[Pg 300]

It is reported of Scaramouche, the first famous Italian comedian, that being in Paris, and in great want, he bethought himself of constantly plying near the door of a noted perfumer in that city, and when any one came out who had been buying snuff, never failed to desire a taste of them: when he had by this means got together a quantity made up of several different sorts, he sold it again at a lower rate to the same perfumer, who, finding out the trick, called it "snuff of a thousand flowers." The story further tells us that by this means he got a very comfortable subsistence, until, making too great haste to grow rich, he one day took such an unreasonable pinch out of the box of a Swiss officer as engaged him in a quarrel, and obliged him to quit this ingenious way of life.

"I remember," says Cumberland, in his Memoirs, "the predicament of an ingenious mechanic and artist, who, when Rich the harlequin was the great dramatic author of his time, and wrote successfully for the stage, contrived and executed a most delicious serpent for one of those inimitable productions, in which Mr. Rich, justly disdaining the weak aid of language, had selected the classical fable, if I rightly recollect, of Orpheus and Eurydice, and, having conceived a very capital part for the serpent, was justly anxious to provide himself with a performer who could support a character of that consequence with credit to himself and his author. The event answered his most ardent hopes: nothing could be more perfect than his entrances and exits; nothing ever crawled across the stage with more accomplished sinuosity than this enchanting serpent; every one was charmed with its performance; it twirled and twisted, and wriggled itself about in so divine a manner, that the whole world was ravished by the lovely snake; nobles and non-nobles, rich and poor, old and young, reps and demi-reps, flocked to see it and admire it. The artist, who had been the[Pg 301] master of the movement, was intoxicated with his success; he turned his hand and head to nothing else but serpents; he made them of all sizes; they crawled about his shop as if he had been chief snake-catcher to the furies; the public curiosity was satisfied with one serpent, and he had nests of them yet unsold; his stock lay dead upon his hands, his trade was lost, and the man was ruined, bankrupt, and undone."

Lecky observes that when, after long years of obstinate disbelief, the reality of the great discovery of Harvey dawned upon the medical world, the first result was a school of medicine which regarded man simply as an hydraulic machine, and found the principle of every malady in imperfections of circulation.

In the Arctic region, says Dr. Kane, the frost is so intense as to burn. Sudden putrefaction of meat takes place at a temperature of thirty-five degrees below zero. The Greenlanders consider extreme cold as favorable to putrefaction. The Esquimaux withdraw the viscera immediately after death, and fill the cavity with stones. Dr. Kane was told that the musk ox is sometimes tainted after five minutes exposure to great cold. In Italy, south of the great alluvial plain of Lombardy, and away from the immediate sea-coast, the lakes occupy the craters of extinguished volcanoes. In Arabia, travelers declare, the silence of the desert is so profound that it soon ceases to be soothing or solemn, and becomes absolutely painful, if not appalling. In Java, that magnificent and fearful clime, the most lovely flowers are found to conceal hidden reptiles; the most tempting fruits are tinctured with subtle poisons; there grow those splendid trees whose shadow is death; there the vampire, an enormous bat, sucks the blood of the victims whose sleep he prolongs, by wafting over them an air full of freshness and perfume. Darwin, in his Voyage, speaks of the strange mixture of sound and silence which pervades the[Pg 302] shady parts of the wood on the shore of Brazil. The noise from the insects is so loud that it may be heard even in a vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore; yet within the recesses of the forest a universal silence appears to reign. At Syracuse, an English gentleman was taken to a dirty cistern; seventy women were washing, with their clothes tucked up, and themselves standing in a pool,—a disgusting scene. "What do you bring me here for?" said he to the guide. "Why, sir, this is the Fountain of Arethusa." In the Fourth Circle of Dante's Hell are the souls of the Prodigal and the Avaricious: they are forever rolling great weights, and forever smiting each other. "To all eternity," says the poet, "they shall continue butting one another." A dung-hill at a distance, said Coleridge, sometimes smells like musk, and a dead dog like elder-flowers. Scargill declared that an Englishman is never happy but when he is miserable; a Scotchman is never at home but when he is abroad; an Irishman is at peace only when he is fighting. The melancholy, says Horace, hate the merry, the jocose the melancholy; the volatile dislike the sedate, the indolent the stirring and vivacious; the modest man generally carries the look of a churl. Meyer, in conversation with Goethe, said he saw a shoemaker in Italy who hammered his leather upon the antique marble head of a Roman emperor. The lark, that sings out of the sky, purifies himself, like the pious Mussulman, in the dust of the ground. The nightingale, they say, sings with his breast against a thorn. The fragrant white pond lily springs from the same black mud out of which the yellow lily sucks its obscene life and noisome odor. An elephant, that no quadruped has the temerity to attack, is said to be the favorite victim of a worm that bores into his foot and slowly tortures him to death. A gnat, according to a tradition of the Arabs, overcame the mighty Nimrod. Enraged at the destruction of his gods by the[Pg 303] prophet Abraham, he sought to slay him, and waged war against him. But the prophet prayed to God, and said, "Deliver me, O God, from this man, who worships stones, and boasts himself to be the lord of all beings;" and God said to him, "How shall I punish him?" And the prophet answered, "To Thee armies are as nothing, and the strength and power of men likewise. Before the smallest of thy creatures will they perish." And God was pleased at the faith of the prophet, and he sent a gnat, which vexed Nimrod night and day, so that he built a room of glass in his palace, that he might dwell therein, and shut out the insect. But the gnat entered also, and passed by his ear into his brain, upon which it fed, and increased in size day by day, so that the servants of Nimrod beat his head with a hammer continually, that he might have some ease from his pain; but he died, after suffering these torments for four hundred years.

"The grandiose statues of Michel Angelo," said a traveler, descanting upon the art and architecture of old Rome, "appear to the greatest advantage under the bold arches of Bramante. There—between those broad lines, under those prodigious curves—placed in one of those courts, or near one of the great temples where the perspective is incomplete—the statues of Michel Angelo display their tragic attitudes, their gigantic members, which seem animated by a ray from the divinity, and struggling to mount from earth to heaven. Bramante and Michel Angelo detested but completed each other. Thus it is often in human nature. Those two men knew not that they were laborers in the same work. And history is silent upon such points till death has passed over her heroes. Armies have fought until they have been almost annihilated on the field of battle; men have hated and injured one another by their calumnies; the learned and powerful persecute and seek to blot their fellows from the earth, as if there was not air and space for all; they[Pg 304] know not, blinded by their passions, and warped by the prejudices of envy, that the future will blend them in the same glory, that to posterity they will represent but one sentiment. Bramante and Michel Angelo, enemies during life, are reconciled in immortality."

See how the extremes in morals and legislation met during the few years of English history covering the Protectorate and the Restoration. Puritanism and liberty of conscience, whose exponents were Cromwell and Milton, met licentiousness and corrupted loyalty, with Charles II. and Wycherley for representatives. Cromwell was "Puritanism armed and in power;" Milton was its apostle and poet. Charles II. was kingcraft besotted; Wycherley its jester and pimp. Cromwell—farmer, preacher, soldier, party leader, prince—radical, stern, hopeful; Charles—debauchee, persecuting skeptic, faithless ruler; Milton—lofty in his Paradise; Wycherley—nasty in his Love in a Wood, and Country Wife. "A larger soul never dwelt in a house of clay," said one who had been much about Cromwell, after his death, when flattery was mute. "Old Goat" was the name given to Charles by one who knew him best. Cromwell, "after all his battles and storms, and all the plots of assassins against his life, died of grief at the loss of his favorite daughter, and of watching at her side." Charles went out of life in a fit, the result of his horrible excesses, if not of poison,—as said and believed by many, administered by one of his own numerous mistresses.

First, "the Puritans," says Macaulay, "interdicted, under heavy penalties, the use of the Book of Common Prayer, not only in churches, but in private houses. It was a crime in a child to read by the bedside of a sick parent one of those beautiful collects which had soothed the griefs of forty generations of Christians. Severe punishments were denounced against such as should presume to blame the Calvinistic mode of worship. Clergymen[Pg 305] of respectable character were not only ejected from their benefices by thousands, but were frequently exposed to the outrages of a fanatical rabble. Churches and sepulchres, fine works of art and curious remains of antiquity, were brutally defaced. The Parliament resolved that all pictures in the royal collection which contained representations of Jesus or of the Virgin Mother should be burned. Sculpture fared as ill as painting. Nymphs and graces, the work of Ionian chisels, were delivered over to Puritan stone-masons to be made decent. Against the lighter vices the ruling faction waged war with a zeal little tempered by humanity or by common-sense. Public amusements, from the masks which were exhibited at the mansions of the great down to the wrestling matches and grinning matches on village greens, were vigorously attacked. One ordinance directed that all the May-poles in England should forthwith be hewn down. One of the first resolutions adopted by Barebone's Parliament was that no person should be admitted into the public service till the house should be satisfied with his real godliness."

Suddenly the wheel turned. "The same people who, by a solemn objurgation, had excluded even the posterity of their lawful sovereign, exhausted themselves in festivals and rejoicings for his return." Restored royalty "made it a crime to attend a dissenting place of worship. A single justice of the peace might convict without a jury, and might, for a third offense, pass sentence of transportation beyond the sea, or for seven years. The whole soul of the restored church was in the work of crushing the Puritans, and of teaching her disciples to give unto Cæsar the things which were Cæsar's. She had been pillaged and oppressed by the party which preached an austere morality. She had been restored to opulence and honor by libertines. Little as the men of mirth and fashion were disposed to shape their lives according to her precepts, they were yet ready to fight knee-deep in blood[Pg 306] for her cathedrals and palaces, for every line of her rubric and every thread of her vestments. If the debauched cavalier haunted brothels and gambling-houses, he at least avoided conventicles. If he ever spoke without uttering ribaldry and blasphemy, he made some amends by his eagerness to send Baxter and Howe to jail for preaching and praying. The ribaldry of Etherege and Wycherley was, in the presence and under the special sanction of the head of the church, publicly recited by female lips in female ears, while the author of the Pilgrim's Progress languished in a dungeon for the crime of proclaiming the gospel to the poor. Then came those days never to be recalled without a blush—the days of servitude without loyalty, and sensuality without love, of dwarfish talents and gigantic vices, the paradise of cold hearts and narrow minds, the golden age of the coward, the bigot, and the slave. The caresses of harlots and the jests of buffoons regulated the manners of a government which had just ability enough to deceive, and just religion enough to persecute. The principles of liberty were the scoff of every grinning courtier, and the Anathema Maranatha of every fawning dean. Crime succeeded to crime, and disgrace to disgrace, till the race, accursed of God and man, was a second time driven forth to wander on the face of the earth, and be a by-word and a shaking of the head to the nations."

The morality of the court was exhibited in the character of the sovereign, according to whose ethics "every person was to be bought; but some people haggled more about their price than others; and when this haggling was very obstinate and very skillful, it was called by some fine name. The chief trick by which clever men kept up the price of their abilities was called integrity. The chief trick by which handsome women kept up the price of their beauty was called modesty. The love of God, the love of country, the love of family, the love of friends,[Pg 307] were phrases of the same sort, delicate and convenient synonyms for the love of self."

A great licentiousness, says Emerson, treads on the heels of a reformation. How many times in the history of the world has the Luther of the day had to lament the decay of piety in his own household! "Doctor," said his wife to Martin Luther, one day, "how is it that, whilst subject to papacy, we prayed so often and with such fervor, whilst now we pray with the utmost coldness and very seldom?" "The courtiers of Charles II. were very dissolute because the Puritans were too strict; Addison and Steele were respectable because Congreve and Wycherley were licentious; Wesley was zealous because the church had become indifferent; the revolution of 1789 was a reaction against the manners of the last century, and the revolution in running its course set up a reaction against itself." "The drawing a certain positive line in morals," says Hazlitt, "beyond which a single false step is irretrievable, makes virtue formal, and vice desperate." "Puritanism," says Taine, "had brought on an orgie, and fanatics had talked down the virtues."

"To what a place you come in search of knowledge!" exclaimed a bitter republican to Castelar, in the streets of Rome, during the reign of the pope, not long before Victor Emanuel. "Here everybody is interested about lottery tickets; no one for an idea of the human brain. The commemoration of the anniversary of Shakespeare has been prohibited in this city of the arts. Her censorship is so wise that when a certain writer wished to publish a book on the discoveries of Volta, she let loose on him the thunders of the Index, thinking it treated of Voltairianism—a philosophy which leaves neither repose nor digestion to our cardinals. On the other hand, a cabalistic and astrological book, professing to divine the caprices of the lottery, has been printed and published under the pontifical seal, as containing nothing contrary[Pg 308] to religion, morals, or sovereign authority. Rabelais knew this city—Rabelais. On arriving, in place of writing a dissertation on dogmas, he penned one on lettuces, the only good and fresh articles in this cursed dungeon. And priest though he was, a priest of the sixteenth century, more religious than our generation, he had a long correspondence with the pious Bishop of Maillezais on the children of the pope; for the reverend prelate had especially charged him to ascertain whether the Cavaliere Pietro Luis Farnese was the lawful or illegitimate son of his holiness. Believe me, Rabelais knew Rome."

An old letter-writer, inditing from Paris, said, "Nakedness is so innocent here! In a refined city, one gets back to the first chapter of Genesis; the extremes meet, and Paradise and Paris get together."

What opposite characters were the leaders in the Reformation. The monks said the egg was laid by Erasmus, hatched by Luther. "On the other hand," says Motley, "he was reviled for not taking side manfully with the reformer. The moderate man received much denunciation from zealots on either side. He soon clears himself, however, from all suspicions of Lutheranism. He is appalled by the fierce conflict which rages far and wide. He becomes querulous as the mighty besom sweeps away sacred dust and consecrated cobwebs. 'Men should not attempt everything at once,' he writes, 'but rather step by step. That which men cannot approve they must look at through the fingers. If the godlessness of mankind requires such fierce physicians as Luther, if man cannot be healed with soothing ointments and cooling drinks, let us hope that God will comfort, as repentant, those whom he has punished as rebellious. If the dove of Christ—not the owl of Minerva—would only fly to us, some measure might be put to the madness of mankind.' Meantime, the man whose talk is not of doves and owls, the fierce physician, who deals not with ointments and cooling[Pg 309] draughts, strides past the crowd of gentle quacks to smite the foul disease. Devils, thicker than tiles on house-tops, scare him not from his work. Bans and bulls, excommunications and decrees, are rained upon his head. The paternal emperor sends down dire edicts, thicker than hail upon the earth. The Holy Father blasts and raves from Rome. Louvain doctors denounce, Louvain hangmen burn, the bitter, blasphemous books. The immoderate man stands firm in the storm, demanding argument instead of illogical thunder; shows the hangmen and the people, too, outside the Elster gate at Wittenberg, that papal bulls will blaze as merrily as heretic scrolls."

Erasmus was a philosophical thinker; Luther a bold actor. The former would reform by the slow processes of education; the latter by revolution. "Without Erasmus," says Froude, "Luther would have been impossible; and Erasmus really succeeded—so much of him as deserved to succeed—in Luther's victory." Erasmus said, "There is no hope for any good. It is all over with quiet learning, thought, piety, and progress; violence is on one side and folly on the other; and they accuse me of having caused it all. If I joined Luther I could only perish with him, and I do not mean to run my neck into the halter. Popes and emperors must decide matters. I will accept what is good, and do as I can with the rest. Peace on any terms is better than the justest war." Luther said, "I take Erasmus to be the worst enemy that Christ has had for a thousand years. Intellect does not understand religion, and when it comes to the things of God it laughs at them." "Whenever I pray," he said, "I pray for a curse upon Erasmus."

Melancthon was as different from Luther as Erasmus. He was the theologian of the three,—so much so that the scholars were all jealous of him. Sir Thomas More wrote to Erasmus that Tyndale had seen Melancthon in Paris; that Tyndale was afraid "if France should receive[Pg 310] the word of God by him, it would be confirmed in the faith of the Eucharist contrary to the sect of the Wickliffites." "I have been born," said Luther, "to war and fight with factions and devils, therefore my books are stormy and warlike. I must root out the stumps and stocks, cut away the thorns and hedges, fill up the ditches, and am the rough forester, to break a path and make things ready. But master Philip walks gently and silently, tills and plants, sows and waters with pleasure, as God has gifted him richly." When Melancthon arose to preach on one occasion, he took this for a text: "I am the good shepherd." In looking round upon his numerous and respectable audience, his natural timidity entirely overcame him, and he could only repeat the text over and over again. Luther, who was in the pulpit with him, at length impatiently exclaimed, "You are a very good sheep!" and telling him to sit down, took the same text, and preached an excellent discourse from it.

Coming down to later times, and to characters more purely literary, what could more beautifully illustrate the harmony of opposites, so often observable in literature and life, than the intimacy which existed between Professor Wilson and Dr. Blair? The course and habit of Dr. Blair's life "were like the smooth, deep water; serene, undisturbed to outer eye; and the very repose that was about him had a charm for the restless, active energy of his friend, who turned to this gentle and meek nature for mental rest. I have often seen them sitting together," says Mrs. Gordon, "in the quiet retirement of the study, perfectly absorbed in each other's presence, like school-boys in the abandonment of their love for each other, occupying one seat between them, my father, with his arm lovingly embracing 'the dear doctor's' shoulders, playfully pulling the somewhat silvered locks to draw his attention to something in the tome spread out on their knees, from which they were both reading. Such discussions[Pg 311] as they had together hour upon hour! Shakespeare, Milton—always the loftiest themes—never weary in doing honor to the great souls from whom they had learnt so much. Their voices were different, too: Dr. Blair's soft and sweet as that of a woman; the professor's sonorous, sad, with a nervous tremor: each revealing the peculiar character of the man."

Godwin and Rough (to whom some of Lamb's most amusing letters were written) met at a dinner-party for the first time. The very next day, it is stated, Godwin called on a friend (a fellow-guest) to say how much he liked Rough, adding: "By the way, do you think he would lend me fifty pounds just now, as I am in want of a little money?" He had not left his friend an hour before Rough came with a like question. He wanted a bill discounted, and asked whether his friend thought Godwin would do it for him. The habit of both was so well known that some persons were afraid to invite them, lest it should lead to an application for a loan from some acquaintance who chanced to be present.

Northcote mentioned to Hazlitt an instance of some young country people who had to sleep on the floor in the same room, and they parted the men from the women by some sacks of corn, which served for a line of demarcation and an inviolable partition between them. Hazlitt spoke of a countrywoman, who, coming to an inn in the west of England, wanted a bed; and being told they had none to spare, still persisted, till the landlady said in a joke, "I tell you, good woman, I have none, unless you can prevail with the ostler to give you half of his." "Well," said she, "if he is a sober, prudent man, I shall not mind." The Princess Borghese (Bonaparte's sister), who was no saint, sat to Canova for a model, and being asked, "If she did not feel a little uncomfortable," answered, "No, there was a fire in the room."

In the same character opposite faculties and qualities[Pg 312] are sometimes so blended as to give very mysterious results. Every reader knows how difficult it often is to separate the irony and seriousness of Swift and De Foe, so very nicely they run together. Pure imagination is so realistic as to appear indubitable truth. The History of the Plague is an example; and Robinson Crusoe: what boy ever doubted the truth of the narrative? or, while he was reading them, the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, incredible as they are? There is a story of a peasant and The Vicar of Wakefield. The dull rustic was a slow reader, and could get through but a few pages in a long evening; yet he was absorbed by the story, and read it as if it were a veritable history. A wag in the family, discerning the situation, thought to amuse himself by putting back the book-mark each morning nearly to the point the man had read from the previous evening, so that it turned out he was all winter getting through the little volume. When he had finished it, the wag asked him his opinion of it. He answered that it was good,—that he had no doubt every word of it was true,—but it did seem to him there was some repetition in it!

A clergyman's widow of eighty, the mother of the first Sir David Dundas—at one time commander-in-chief of the British army—is thus described by Cockburn: "We used to go to her house in Bunker's Hill, [Edinburgh] when boys, on Sundays, between the morning and afternoon sermons, where we were cherished with Scotch broth and cakes, and many a joke from the old lady. Age had made her incapable of walking, even across the room; so, clad in a plain black-silk gown, and a pure muslin cap, she sat half-encircled by a high-backed, black leather chair, reading, with silver spectacles stuck on her thin nose, and interspersing her studies and her days with much laughter, and not a little sarcasm. What a spirit! There was more fun and sense round that chair than in the theatre or the church. I remember one of her grand-daughters[Pg 313] stumbling, in the course of reading the newspapers to her, on a paragraph which stated that a lady's reputation had suffered from some indiscreet talk on the part of the Prince of Wales. Up she of fourscore sat, and said with an indignant shake of her shriveled fist and a keen voice,—'The dawmed villain! does he kiss and tell!'"

In the Barberini palace is the celebrated portrait of Beatrice Cenci, by Guido. The melancholy and strange history of this beautiful girl has been told in a variety of ways, and is probably familiar to every reader. Guido saw her on her way to execution, and has painted her as she was dressed, in the gray habit and head-dress, made by her own hands, and finished but an hour before she put it on. "There are engravings and copies of the picture all over the world, but none that I have seen," said Willis, "give any idea of the excessive gentleness, and serenity of the countenance. The eyes retain traces of weeping, the child-like mouth, the soft, girlish lines of features that look as if they had never worn more than the one expression of youthfulness and affection, are all in repose, and the head is turned over the shoulder with as simple a sweetness as if she had but looked back to say a good-night before going to her chamber to sleep. She little looks like what she was—one of the firmest and boldest spirits whose history is recorded. After murdering her father for his fiendish attempts upon her virtue, she endured every torture rather than disgrace her family by confession, and was only moved from her constancy, at last, by the agonies of her younger brother on the rack. Who would read capabilities like these, in those heavenly and child-like features?"

There is related an incident of the American civil war which illustrates how ignorance and superstition sometimes give birth to eloquence. An army officer had been speaking of the ideas of power entertained by the poor negro slaves. He said they had an idea of God, as the[Pg 314] Almighty, and they had realized in their former condition the power of their masters. Up to the time of the arrival among them of the Union forces, they had no knowledge of any other power. Their masters fled upon the approach of the federal soldiers, and this gave the negroes a conception of a power greater than that exercised by them. This power they called "Massa Linkum." Their place of worship was a large building which they called "the praise house;" and the leader of the meeting, a venerable black man, was known as "the praise man." On a certain day, when there was quite a large gathering of the people, considerable confusion was created by different persons attempting to tell who and what "Massa Linkum" was. In the midst of the excitement the white-headed leader commanded silence. "Brederin," said he, "you don't know nosein' what you're talkin' 'bout. Now, you just listen to me. Massa Linkum, he eberywhar. He know eberyting." Then, solemnly looking up, he added, "He walk de earf like de Lord!"

Curran, who was so merry and charming in conversation, was also very melancholy. He said he never went to bed in Ireland without wishing not to rise again. It seems to be a law of our nature that "as high as we have mounted in delight, in our dejection do we sink as low." Burns expresses it, "Chords that vibrate sweetest pleasure, thrill the deepest notes of woe;" and Hood, "There's not a string attuned to mirth, but has its chord in melancholy;" and Burton, "Naught so sweet as melancholy," naught "so damned as melancholy;" and King Solomon, "I said of laughter, It is mad."

It is narrated that one day Philip III., King of Spain, was standing in one of the balconies of his palace observing a young Spanish student, who was sitting in the sun and reading a book, while he was bursting out into fits of laughter. The farther the student read, the more his gayety increased, until at last he was so violently excited[Pg 315] that he let the book fall from his hands, and rolled on the ground in a state of intense hilarity. The king turned to his courtiers and said, "That young man is either mad, or he is reading Don Quixote." One of the guards of the palace went to pick up the book and found that his majesty had guessed rightly. Yet Miguel Cervantes, the author of this book which is so amusing, had dragged on the most wretched and melancholy existence. He was groaning and weeping while all Spain was laughing at the numerous adventures of the Knight of La Mancha and the wise sayings of Sancho Panza.

The biographer of Grimaldi speaks of the devouring melancholy which pursued the celebrated clown whenever he was off the stage, or left to his own resources; and it is well known that Liston, whose face was sufficient to set an audience in a good humor, was a confirmed hypochondriac. It is said he used to sit up after midnight to read Young's Night Thoughts, delighting in its monotonous solemnity.

"The gravest nations," says Landor, "have been the wittiest; and in those nations some of the gravest men. In England, Swift and Addison; in Spain, Cervantes. Rabelais and La Fontaine are recorded by their countrymen to have been réveurs. Few men have been graver than Pascal; few have been wittier." Robert Chambers tells in one of his essays of a person residing near London, who could make one's sides ache at any time with his comic songs, yet had so rueful, woe-begone a face that his friends addressed him by the name of Mr. Dismal. Nothing remains of Butler's private history but the record of his miseries; and Swift, we are told, was never known to smile. Burns confessed in one of his letters that his design in seeking society was to fly from constitutional melancholy. "Even in the hour of social mirth," he tells us, "my gayety is the madness of an intoxicated criminal under the hands of the executioner." The most facetious[Pg 316] of all Lamb's letters was written to Barton in a fit of the deepest melancholy.

"The elaboration of humor," said Irving, "is often a very serious task; and we have never witnessed a more perfect picture of mental misery than was once presented to us by a popular dramatic writer whom we found in the agonies of producing a farce which subsequently set the theatre in a roar."

Molière was a grave and silent man. There is a story told of a lady of distinction who invited him to meet a party, thinking that he would entertain them with his wit; he came, but throughout the evening scarcely opened his lips. At Pézénas they used to show a chair in a barber's shop, where he would sit for hours without speaking a word.

Jerrold was a little ashamed of the immense success of the Caudle Lectures, many of which were written to dictation on a bed of sickness, racked by rheumatism. As social drolleries they set nations laughing. He took their celebrity rather sulkily. He did not like to be talked of as a funny man. His mixture of satire and kindliness reminded one of his friends of those lanes near Beyrout, in which you ride with the prickly-pear bristling alongside of you, and yet can pluck the grapes which force themselves among it from the fields.

There is an account of a singer and his wife who were to sing a number of humorous couplets at a restaurant in Leipsic. The wife made her appearance there at the appointed hour, but, owing to the unexplained absence of her husband, she was compelled to amuse the visitors by singing couplets alone. While her droll performance was eliciting shouts of laughter, her husband hung himself in the court-yard of the restaurant.

Some one said to Dr. Johnson that it seemed strange that he, who so often delighted his company by his lively conversation, should say he was miserable. "Alas! it is all[Pg 317] outside," replied the sage; "I may be cracking my joke and cursing the sun: sun, how I hate thy beams!" "Are we to think Pope was happy," said he, on another occasion, "because he says so in his writings? We see in his writings what he wished the state of his mind to appear. Dr. Young, who pined for preferment, talks with contempt of it in his writings, and affects to despise everything he did not despise." The author of John Gilpin said of himself and his humorous poetry, "Strange as it may seem, the most ludicrous lines I ever wrote have been when in the saddest mood, and but for that saddest mood, perhaps, would never have been written at all." Sir Walter Scott, in the height of his ill-fortune, was ever giving vent in his diary or elsewhere to some whimsical outburst or humorous sally, and after an extra gay entry in his journal just before leaving his dingy Edinburgh lodgings for Abbotsford, he follows it up next day with this bit of self-portraiture: "Anybody would think from the fal-de-ral conclusion of my journal of yesterday that I left town in a very good humor. But nature has given me a kind of buoyancy—I know not what to call it—that mingles with my deepest afflictions and most gloomy hours. I have a secret pride—I fancy it will be most truly termed—which impels me to mix with my distress strange snatches of mirth which have no mirth in them."

The Grand Duke of Weimar, entertaining an American author at his table, spoke of Poe, whose poem of The Raven he had never heard of until the evening previous. "The conception is terrible," he said. "Of course the Raven can only symbolize Despair, and he makes it perch upon the bust of Pallas, as if Despair even broods over Wisdom."

The Chronicle of Lüneburg, says Heine, "records that during the year 1480 there were whistled and sung throughout all Germany certain songs, which for sweetness and tenderness surpassed any previously known in German[Pg 318] realms. Young and old, and the women in particular, were quite bewitched by these ballads, which might be heard the livelong day. But these songs, so the chronicle goes on to say, were composed by a young priest who was afflicted with leprosy and lived a forlorn, solitary life, secluded from all the world. You are surely aware, gentle reader, what a horrible disease was leprosy during the Middle Ages, and how the wretched beings afflicted with this incurable malady were driven out from all society, and from the abodes of men, and were forbidden to approach any human being. Living corpses, they wandered to and fro, muffled from head to foot, a hood drawn over the face, and carrying in the hand a bell, the Lazarus-bell, as it was called, through which they were to give timely warning of their approach, so that every one could avoid their path. The poor priest, whose fame as a lyric poet the chronicle praised so highly, was such a leper; and while all Germany, shouting and jubilant, sang and whistled his songs, he, a wretched outcast, in the desolation of his misery sat sorrowful and alone."

"There have been times in my life," said Goethe, "when I have fallen asleep in tears; but in my dreams the most charming forms have come to console and to cheer me."

After Scott began the Bride of Lammermoor, he had one of his terrible seizures of cramp, yet during his torment he dictated that fine novel; and when he rose from his bed, and the published book was placed in his hands, "he did not," James Ballantyne explicitly assured Lockhart, "recollect one single incident, character, or conversation it contained."

Jean Paul wrote a great part of his comic romance (Nicholas Margraf) in an agony of heart-break from the death of his promising son Max. He could not, one of his biographers says, bear the sight of any book his son had touched; and the word philology (the science in[Pg 319] which Max excelled) went through his heart like a bolt of ice. He had such wonderful power over himself as to go on with his comic romance while his eyes continually dropped tears. He wept so much in secret that his eyes became impaired, and he trembled for the total loss of sight. Wine, that had previously, after long sustained labor, been a cordial to him, he could not bear to touch; and after employing the morning in writing, he spent the whole afternoon lying on the sofa in his wife's apartment, his head supported by her arm.

Washington Irving completed that most extravagantly humorous of all his works—the History of New York—while he was suffering from the death of his sweetheart, Matilda Hoffman, which nearly broke his heart. He says, in a memorandum found amongst his private papers after his death, "She was but about seventeen years old when she died. I cannot tell what a horrid state of mind I was in for a long time. I seemed to care for nothing; the world was a blank to me. I went into the country, but could not bear solitude, yet could not enjoy society. There was a dismal horror continually in my mind, that made me fear to be alone. I had often to get up in the night, and seek the bedroom of my brother, as if the having a human being by me would relieve me from the frightful gloom of my own thoughts.... When I became more calm and collected, I applied myself, by way of occupation, to the finishing of my work. I brought it to a close, as well as I could, and published it; but the time and circumstances in which it was produced rendered me almost unable to look upon it with satisfaction. Still it took with the public, and gave me celebrity, as an original work was something remarkable and uncommon in America.... I seemed to drift about without aim or object, at the mercy of every breeze; my heart wanted anchorage. I was naturally susceptible, and tried to form other attachments, but my[Pg 320] heart would not hold on; it would continually roam to what it had lost; and whenever there was a pause in the hurry of novelty and excitement, I would sink into dismal dejection. For years I could not talk on the subject of this hopeless regret; I could not even mention her name; but her image was continually before me, and I dreamt of her incessantly."

Heine, for several years preceding his death, was a miserable paralytic. All that time, it is stated, he lay upon a pile of mattresses, racked by pain and exhausted by sleeplessness, till his body was reduced below all natural dimensions, and his long beard fell over the coverlet like swan's down or a baby's hair. The muscular debility was such that he had to raise the eyelid with his hand when he wished to see the face of any one about him; and thus in darkness, he thought, and listened, and dictated, preserving to the very last his clearness of intellect, his precision of diction, and his invincible humor.

The wretchedness of poor Scarron, at whose jests, burlesques, and buffooneries all France was laughing, may be guessed at from his own description. His form, to use his own words, "had become bent like a Z." "My legs," he adds, "first made an obtuse angle with my thighs, then a right and at last an acute angle; my thighs made another with my body. My head is bent upon my chest; my arms are contracted as well as my legs, and my fingers as well as my arms. I am, in truth, a pretty complete abridgment of human misery." His head was too big for his diminutive stature, one eye was set deeper than the other, and his teeth were the color of wood. At the time of his marriage (to the beautiful and gifted Mademoiselle d'Aubigné, afterward Madame de Maintenon, the wife for thirty years of Louis XIV.!) he could only move with freedom his hand, tongue, and eyes. His days were passed in a chair with a hood, and so completely the abridgment of man he describes himself, that[Pg 321] his wife had to kneel to look in his face. He could not be moved without screaming from pain, nor sleep without taking opium. The epitaph which he wrote on himself is touching from its truth:—

"Tread softly—make no noise
To break his slumbers deep;
Poor Scarron here enjoys
His first calm night of sleep."

Balzac said of him, "I have often met in antiquity with pain that was wise, and with pain that was eloquent; but I never before saw pain joyous, nor found a soul merrily cutting capers in a paralytic frame." He continued to jest to the last; and seeing the bystanders in tears, he said, "I shall never, my friends, make you weep as much as I have made you laugh."

Many of Hood's most humorous productions were dictated to his wife, while he himself was in bed from distressing and protracted sickness. His own family was the only one which was not delighted with the Comic Annual, so well thumbed in every house. "We, ourselves," writes his son, "did not enjoy it till the lapse of many years had mercifully softened down some of the sad recollections connected with it." Fun and suffering seemed to be natural to him, and to be constantly helping each other. When a boy, he drew the figure of a demon with the smoke of a candle on the staircase ceiling near his bedroom door, to frighten his brother. Unfortunately he forgot that he had done so, and, when he went to bed, succeeded in terrifying himself into fits almost—while his brother had not observed the picture. Joke he would, suffering as he might be. It is recorded of him, that upon a mustard plaster being applied to his attenuated feet, as he lay in the direst extremity, he was heard feebly to remark that there was "very little meat for the mustard." But if his wit was marvelous, so was his pathos—tender beyond comparison. His first child scarcely[Pg 322] survived its birth. "In looking over some old papers," says his son, "I found a few tiny curls of golden hair, as soft as the finest silk, wrapped in a yellow and time-worn paper, inscribed in my father's handwriting:—

'Little eyes that scarce did see,
Little lips that never smiled;
Alas! my little dear dead child,
Death is thy father, and not me;
I but embraced thee soon as he!'"

Here are a few sentences from the long letters which the author of the Bridge of Sighs wrote to the children of his friend, Dr. Elliot, then residing at Sandgate, almost from his death-bed: "My dear Jeanie,—So you are at Sandgate! Of course, wishing for your old play fellow to help you to make little puddles in the sand, and swing on the gate. But perhaps there are no sand and gate at Sandgate, which, in that case, nominally tells us a fib.... I have heard that you bathe in the sea, which is very refreshing, but it requires care; for if you stay under water too long, you may come up a mermaid, who is only half a lady, with a fish's tail—which she can boil if she likes. You had better try this with your doll, whether it turns her into half a 'doll-fin.'... I hope you like the sea. I always did when I was a child, which was about two years ago. Sometimes it makes such a fizzing and foaming, I wonder some of our London cheats do not bottle it up and sell it for ginger-pop. When the sea is too rough, if you pour the sweet oil out of the cruet all over it, and wait for a calm, it will be quite smooth—much smoother than a dressed salad.... Do you ever see any boats or vessels? And don't you wish, when you see a ship, that somebody was a sea-captain instead of a doctor, that he might bring you home a pet lion, or calf-elephant, ever so many parrots, or a monkey from foreign parts? I knew a little girl who was promised a baby-whale by her sailor-brother, and who[Pg 323] blubbered because he did not bring it. I suppose there are no whales at Sandgate, but you might find a seal about the beach; or at least a stone for one. The sea-stones are not pretty when they are dry, but look beautiful when they are wet—and we can always keep sucking them!" To Jeanie's brother, among other things he writes, "I used to catch flat-fish with a very long string line. It was like swimming a kite. Once I caught a plaice, and seeing it all over red spots, thought I had caught the measles." To Mary Elliot, a still more youthful correspondent, he says, "I remember that when I saw the sea, it used sometimes to be very fussy and fidgety, and did not always wash itself quite clean; but it was very fond of fun. Have the waves ever run after you yet, and turned your little two shoes into pumps, full of water? Have you been bathed yet in the sea, and were you afraid? I was the first time, and the time before that; and, dear me, how I kicked and screamed—or, at least, meant to scream; but the sea, ships and all, began to run into my mouth, and so I shut it up. I think I see you being dipped into the sea, screwing your eyes up, and putting your nose, like a button, into your mouth, like a button-hole, for fear of getting another smell and taste. Did you ever try, like a little crab, to run two ways at once? See if you can do it, for it is good fun; never mind tumbling over yourself a little at first.... And now good-by; Fanny has made my tea, and I must drink it before it gets too hot, as we all were last Sunday week. They say the glass was eighty-eight in the shade, which is a great age. The last fair breeze I blew dozens of kisses for you, but the wind changed, and, I am afraid, took them all to Miss H——, or somebody that it shouldn't."

You remember the anecdote Southey repeats in his Doctor, of a physician who, being called in to an unknown patient, found him suffering under the deepest depression[Pg 324] of mind, without any discoverable disease, or other assignable cause. The physician advised him to seek for cheerful objects, and recommended him especially to go to the theatre and see a famous actor then in the meridian of his powers, whose comic talents were unrivaled. Alas! the comedian who kept crowded theatres in a roar was this poor hypochondriac himself!

[Pg 325]



Hazlitt, in one of his discursive essays, says, "I stopped these two days at Bridgewater, and when I was tired of sauntering on the banks of its muddy river, returned to the inn and read Camilla. So have I loitered my life away, reading books, looking at pictures, going to plays, hearing, thinking, writing on what pleased me best. I have wanted only one thing to make me happy; but wanting that have wanted everything." Alas! who has not wanted one thing? Fortunatus had a cap, which when he put on, and wished himself anywhere, behold he was there. Aladdin had a lamp, which if he rubbed, and desired anything, immediately it was his. If we each had both, there would still be something wanting—one thing more. Donatello's matchless statue of St. George "wanted one thing," in the opinion of Michel Angelo; it wanted "the gift of speech." The poor widow in Holland that Pepys tells us about in his Diary, who survived twenty-five husbands, wanted one thing more, no doubt—perhaps one more husband. "Hadst thou Samson's hair, Milo's strength, Scanderbeg's arm, Solomon's wisdom, Absalom's beauty, Crœsus's wealth, Cæsar's valor, Alexander's spirit, Tully's or Demosthenes's eloquence, Gyges's ring, Perseus's Pegasus, and Gorgon's head, Nestor's years to come, all this," saith Burton, "would not make thee absolute, give thee content and true happiness in this life, or so continue it." Proverbially, we never are, but always to be, blest. "A child," said the good Sachs, "thinks the stars blossom on the trees; when he climbs to the[Pg 326] tree-tops, he fancies they cluster on the spire; when he climbs the spire, he finds, to reach them, he must leave the earth and go to heaven." There is an old German engraving, in the manner of Holbein, which represents an aged man near a grave, wringing his hands. Death, behind, directs his attention to heaven. In the palace Sciarra is a very expressive picture by Schedone. On the ruins of an old tomb stands a skull, beneath which is written—"I, too, was of Arcadia;" and, at a little distance, gazing at it in attitudes of earnest reflection, stand two shepherds, struck simultaneously with the moral. What we have is nothing, what we want, everything. "All worldly things," says Baxter, "appear most vain and unsatisfactory, when we have tried them most." The prize we struggled for, which filled our imagination, when attained was not much; worthless in grasp, priceless in expectation. The one thing we want is one thing we have not—that we have not had.

"I saw the little boy,
In thought how oft that he
Did wish of God, to scape the rod,
A tall young man to be.
"The young man eke that feels
His bones with pain opprest,
How he would be a rich old man,
To live and lie at rest:
"The rich old man that sees
His end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again,
To live so much the more."

This hunger, this hope, this longing, is our best possession at last, and fades not away, unsubstantial as it may seem. It builds for each one of us magnificent castles. "All the years of our youth and the hopes of our manhood are stored away, like precious stones, in the vaults; and we know that we shall find everything convenient,[Pg 327] elegant, and splendid, when we come into possession." Curtis, in one of his exquisite sketches, treats this element of us as no other author has. He calls it his Spanish property. "I am the owner," he says, "of great estates; but the greater part are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, and my castles are all of perfect proportions, and appropriately set in the most picturesque situations. I have never been to Spain myself, but I have, naturally, conversed much with travelers to that country, although, I must allow, without deriving from them much substantial information about my property there. The wisest of them told me that there were more holders of real estate in Spain than in any other region he had ever heard of, and they are all great proprietors. Every one of them possesses a multitude of the stateliest castles. From conversation with them you easily gather that each one considers his own castles much the largest and in the loveliest positions.... It is remarkable that none of the proprietors have ever been to Spain to take possession and report to the rest of us the state of our property there. I, of course, cannot go, I am too much engaged. So is Titbottom. And I find that it is the case with all the proprietors. We have so much to detain us at home that we cannot get away. It is always so with rich men.... It is not easy for me to say how I know so much as I certainly do about my castles in Spain. The sun always shines upon them. They stand large and fair in a luminous, golden atmosphere, a little hazy and dreamy, perhaps, like the Indian summer, but in which no gales blow and there are no tempests. All the sublime mountains, and beautiful valleys, and soft landscapes, that I have not yet seen, are to be found in the grounds. They command a noble view of the Alps; so fine, indeed, that I should be quite content with the prospect of them from the highest tower of my castle, and not care to go to Switzerland. The neighboring ruins, too, are as picturesque[Pg 328] as those of Italy, and my desire of standing in the Coliseum and of seeing the shattered arches of the aqueducts, stretching along the Campagna, and melting into the Alban Mount, is entirely quenched. The rich gloom of my orange groves is gilded by fruit as brilliant of complexion and exquisite of flavor as any that ever dark-eyed Sorrento girls, looking over the high plastered walls of Southern Italy, hand to the youthful travelers, climbing on donkeys up the narrow lane beneath. The Nile flows through my grounds. The Desert lies upon their edge, and Damascus stands in my garden. I am given to understand, also, that the Parthenon has been removed to my Spanish possessions. The Golden Horn is my fish preserve; my flocks of golden fleece are pastured on the plain of Marathon, and the honey of Hymettus is distilled from the flowers that grow in the vale of Enna—all in my Spanish domains. From the windows of these castles look the beautiful women whom I have never seen, whose portraits the poets have painted. They wait for me there, and chiefly the fair-haired child, lost to my eye so long ago, now bloomed into an impossible beauty. The lights that never shone glance at evening in the vaulted halls, upon banquets that were never spread. The bands I have never collected play all night long, and enchant the brilliant company, that was never assembled, into silence. In the long summer mornings the children that I never had, play in the gardens that I never planted.... I have often wondered how I shall ever reach my castles. The desire of going comes over me very strongly sometimes, and I endeavor to see how I can arrange my affairs so as to get away. To tell the truth, I am not quite sure of the route,—I mean, to that particular part of Spain in which my estates lie. I have inquired very particularly, but nobody seems to know precisely.... Will you tell me what you consider the shortest and safest route thither, Mr. Bourne? for, of[Pg 329] course, a man who drives such an immense trade with all parts of the world will know all that I have come to inquire.' 'My dear sir,' answered he, wearily, 'I have been trying all my life to discover it; but none of my ships have ever been there—none of my captains have any report to make. They bring me, as they brought my father, gold-dust from Guinea; ivory, pearls, and precious stones from every part of the earth; but not a fruit, not a solitary flower, from one of my castles in Spain. I have sent clerks, agents, and travelers of all kinds; philosophers, pleasure-hunters, and invalids, in all sorts of ships, to all sorts of places, but none of them ever saw or heard of my castles, except one young poet, and he died in a mad-house.'... At length I resolved to ask Titbottom if he had ever heard of the best route to our estates. He said that he owned castles, and sometimes there was an expression in his face as if he saw them.... 'I have never known but two men who reached their estates in Spain.' 'Indeed,' said I, 'how did they go?' 'One went over the side of a ship, and the other out of a third story window,' answered Titbottom. 'And I know one man that resides upon his estates constantly,' continued he. 'Who is that?' 'Our old friend Slug, whom you may see any day at the asylum, just coming in from the hunt, or going to call upon his friend the Grand Lama, or dressing for the wedding of the Man in the Moon, or receiving an embassador from Timbuctoo. Whenever I go to see him, Slug insists that I am the pope, disguised as a journeyman carpenter, and he entertains me in the most distinguished manner. He always insists upon kissing my foot, and I bestow upon him, kneeling, the apostolic benediction. This is the only Spanish proprietor in possession, with whom I am acquainted.'... Ah! if the true history of Spain could be written, what a book were there!"

[Pg 330]

"Gayly bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.
"But he grew old,
This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.
"And as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow:
'Shadow,' said he,
'Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?'
"'Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,'
The shade replied,
'If you seek for Eldorado!'"

Steele, in a paper of The Spectator, dilates in this vein. "I am," he says, "one of that species of men who are properly denominated castle-builders, who scorn to be beholden to the earth for a foundation, or dig in the bowels of it for materials; but erect their structures in the most unstable of elements, the air; fancy alone laying the line, marking the extent, and shaping the model. It would be difficult to enumerate what august palaces and stately porticoes have grown under my forming imagination, or what verdant meadows and shady groves have started into being by the powerful feat of a warm fancy. A castle-builder is ever just what he pleases, and as such I have grasped imaginary sceptres, and delivered[Pg 331] uncontrollable edicts, from a throne to which conquered nations yielded obeisance. There is no art or profession, whose most celebrated masters I have not eclipsed. Wherever I have afforded my salutary presence, fevers have ceased to burn and agues to shake the human fabric. When an eloquent fit has been upon me, an apt gesture and proper cadence has animated each sentence, and gazing crowds have found their passions worked up into a rage, or soothed into a calm. I am short, and not very well made; yet upon sight of a fine woman, I have stretched into proper stature, and killed with a good air and mien. These are the gay phantoms that dance before my waking eyes, and compose my day-dreams. I should be the most contented happy man alive, were the chimerical happiness which springs from the paintings of fancy less fleeting and transitory. But alas! it is with grief of mind I tell you, the least breath of wind has often demolished my magnificent edifices, swept away my groves, and left no more trace of them than if they had never been. My exchequer has sunk and vanished by a rap on my door, the salutation of a friend has cost me a whole continent, and in the same moment I have been pulled by the sleeve, my crown has fallen from my head. The ill consequence of these reveries is inconceivably great, seeing the loss of imaginary possessions makes impressions of real woe. Besides, bad economy is visible and apparent in builders of invisible mansions. My tenants' advertisements of ruins and dilapidations often cast a damp on my spirits, even in the instant when the sun, in all his splendor, gilds my Eastern palaces."

"Alas!" cries Heine, in his Confessions, "fame, once sweet as sugared pine-apple and flattery, has for a long time been nauseous to me; it tastes as bitter to me now as wormwood. With Romeo I can say, 'I am the fool of fortune.' The bowl stands full before me, but I lack the[Pg 332] spoon. What does it avail me that at banquets my health is pledged in the choicest wines, drunk from golden goblets, if at the same time I, with all that makes life pleasant denied to me, may only wet my lips with an insipid, disagreeable, medicinal drink? What benefit is it to me that enthusiastic youths and maidens crown my marble bust with laurel wreaths, if meanwhile the shriveled fingers of an aged hired nurse press a blister of Spanish flies to the back of my head? What does it avail me that all the roses of Sharon tenderly glow and bloom for me? Alas! Sharon is two thousand miles away from the Rue d'Amsterdam, where I in the dreary solitude of my sick-room have nothing to smell, unless it be the perfume of warmed-over poultices."

"When I look around me," said Goethe, "and see how few of the companions of earlier years are left to me, I think of a summer residence at a bathing-place. When you arrive, you first become acquainted with those who have already been there some weeks, and who leave you in a few days. This separation is painful. Then you turn to the second generation, with which you live a good while, and become really intimate. But this goes also, and leaves us lonely with the third, which comes just as we are going away, and with which we have, properly, nothing to do.... I have ever been considered one of Fortune's chiefest favorites; nor can I complain of the course my life has taken. Yet, truly, there has been nothing but toil and care; and in my seventy-fifth year, I may say that I have never had four weeks of genuine pleasure. The stone was ever to be rolled up anew."

"What a multitude of past friends can I number amongst the dead!" exclaimed another venerable worthy in literature. "It is the melancholy consequence of old age; if we outlive our feelings we are nothing worth; if they remain in force, a thousand sad occurrences remind us that we live too long." It was Sir William Temple's[Pg 333] opinion that "life is like wine; who would drink it pure must not draw it to the dregs." Dr. Sherlock thought "the greatest part of mankind have great reason to be contented with the shortness of life, because they have no temptation to wish it longer." De Tocqueville said, "Man is a traveler toward a colder and colder region, and the higher his latitude, the faster ought to be his walk. The great malady of the soul is cold. It must be combated by activity and exertion, by contact with one's fellow-creatures, and with the business of the world. In these days one must not live upon what one has already learnt, one must learn more; and instead of sleeping away our acquired ideas, we should seek for fresh ones, make the new opinions fight with the old ones, and those of youth with those of an altered state of thought and of society."

The following authentic memorial was found in the closet of Abdalrahman, who established the throne of Cordova, and who, during his life, enjoyed thousands of wives, millions upon millions of wealth, and was the object of universal admiration and envy: "I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honor, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to fourteen. O man, place not thy confidence in this present world!"

Voltaire makes Candide sit down to supper at Venice with six strangers who were staying at the same hotel with himself, and as the servants, to his astonishment, addressed each of them by the title of "your majesty," he asked for an explanation of the pleasantry. "I am not jesting," said the first, "I am Achmet III.; I was[Pg 334] sultan several years; I dethroned my brother, and my nephew dethroned me. They have cut off the heads of my viziers; I shall pass the remainder of my days in the old seraglio; my nephew, the Sultan Mahmoud, sometimes permits me to travel for my health, and I have come to pass the Carnival at Venice." A young man who was close to Achmet spoke next, and said, "My name is Ivan; I have been Emperor of all the Russias; I was dethroned when I was in my cradle; my father and my mother have been incarcerated; I was brought up in prison; I have sometimes permission to travel attended by my keepers, and I have come to pass the Carnival at Venice." The third said, "I am Charles Edward, King of England; my father has surrendered his rights to me; I have fought to sustain them; my vanquishers have torn out the hearts of eight hundred of my partisans; I have been put into prison; I am going to Rome to pay a visit to my father, dethroned like my grandfather and myself, and I have come to pass the Carnival at Venice." The fourth then spoke, and said, "I am King of Poland; the fortune of war has deprived me of my hereditary states; my father experienced the same reverses; I resign myself to the will of Providence, like the Sultan Achmet, the Emperor Ivan, and the King Charles Edward, to whom God grant a long life; and I have come to pass the Carnival at Venice." The fifth said, "I am also King of Poland; I have lost my kingdom twice, but Providence has given me another in which I have done more good than all the kings of Sarmatia put together have ever done on the banks of the Vistula. I also resign myself to the will of Providence, and I have come to pass the Carnival at Venice." There remained a sixth monarch to speak. "Gentlemen," he said, "I am not as great a sovereign as the rest, but I, too, have been a king. I am Theodore, who was elected King of Corsica; I was called 'your majesty,' and at present am hardly called 'sir;' I[Pg 335] have caused money to be coined, and do not now possess a penny; I have had two secretaries of state, and have now scarcely a servant; I have sat upon a throne, and was long in a prison in London, upon straw, and am afraid of being treated in the same manner here, although I have come, like your majesties, to pass the Carnival at Venice." The other five kings heard this confession with a noble compassion. Each of them gave King Theodore twenty sequins to buy some clothes and shirts. Candide presented him with a diamond worth two thousand sequins. "Who," said the five kings, "is this man who can afford to give a hundred times as much as any of us? Are you, sir, also a king?" "No, your majesties, and I have no desire to be."

Bacon's contemporary and cousin, Sir Robert Cecil, who was principal secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth and James I., and ultimately lord high treasurer, when he was acknowledged to be the ablest, as he appeared the most enviable, statesman of his time, wrote to a friend, "Give heed to one that hath sorrowed in the bright lustre of a court and gone heavily over the best seeming fair ground. It is a great task to prove one's honesty, and yet not spoil one's fortune.... I am pushed from the shore of comfort, and know not where the winds and waves of a court will bear me; I know it bringeth little comfort on earth; and he is, I reckon, no wise man that looketh this way to heaven." Bacon himself says, in one of his Essays, "Certainly great persons have need to borrow other men's opinions to think themselves happy; for if they judge by their own feeling they cannot find it; but if they think with themselves what others think of them, and that other men would fain be as they are, then they are happy as it were by report, when, perhaps, they find the contrary within; for they are the first that find their own griefs, though they be the last that find their own faults."

[Pg 336]

Madame de Staël, surrounded by the most brilliant men of genius, beloved by a host of faithful and devoted friends, the centre of a circle of unsurpassed attractions, was yet doomed to mourn "the solitude of life." A short time before her death, she said to Châteaubriand, "I am now what I have always been—lively and sad."

The illustrious Madame Récamier, "after forty years of unchallenged queenship in French society, constantly enveloped in an intoxicating incense of admiration and love won not less by her goodness and purity than by her beauty and grace," writes thus from Dieppe to her niece: "I am here in the centre of fêtes, princesses, illuminations, spectacles. Two of my windows face the ball-room, the other two front the theatre. Amidst this clatter I am in a perfect solitude. I sit and muse on the shore of the ocean. I go over all the sad and joyous circumstances of my life. I hope you will be more happy than I have been."

Madame de Pompadour, recalling her follies, serious matters they were to her, said to the Prince de Soubise, "It is like reading a strange book; my life is an improbable romance; I do not believe it." "Gray hairs had come on like daylight streaming in,—daylight and a headache with it. Pleasure had gone to bed with the rouge on her cheeks."

"Ah!" wrote also Madame de Maintenon to her niece, "alas that I cannot give you my experience; that I could only show you the weariness of soul by which the great are devoured—the difficulty which they find in getting through their days! Do you not see how they die of sadness in the midst of that fortune which has been a burden to them? I have been young and beautiful; I have tasted many pleasures; I have been universally beloved. At a more advanced age, I have passed years in the intercourse of talent and wit, and I solemnly protest to you that all conditions leave a frightful void."

[Pg 337]

Coleridge sums up all more wisely. "I have known," he says, "what the enjoyments and advantages of this life are, and what the more refined pleasures which learning and intellectual power can bestow; and with all the experience that more than three-score years can give, I now, on the eve of my departure, declare to you that health is a great blessing,—competence obtained by honorable industry a great blessing,—and a great blessing it is to have kind, faithful, and loving friends and relatives; but that the greatest of all blessings, as it is the most ennobling of all privileges, is to be indeed a Christian."

"We are born and we live so unhappily that the accomplishment of a desire appears to us a falsehood, the realization of hope a deception, as if our sad experience had taught us the bitter lesson that in the world nothing is true but sorrow." "Who ordered toil," says Thackeray, "as the condition of life, ordered weariness, ordered sickness, ordered poverty, failure, success,—to this man a foremost place, to the other a nameless struggle with the crowd; to that a shameful fall, or paralyzed limb, or sudden accident; to each some work upon the ground he stands on, until he is laid beneath it." "Nature," says Pliny, "makes us buy her presents at the price of so many sufferings, that it is dubious whether she deserves most the name of a parent or a step-mother." "Solomon and Job judged the best and spake the truest," thought Pascal, "of human misery; the former the most happy, the latter the most unfortunate of mankind; the one acquainted by long experience with the vanity of pleasure, the other with the reality of affliction and pain."

"We must patiently suffer," says Montaigne, "the laws of our condition; we are born to grow old, to grow weak, and to be sick, in spite of all physic. 'Tis the first lesson the Mexicans teach their children; so soon as ever they are born, they thus salute them: 'Child, thou art come[Pg 338] into the world to endure, suffer, and say nothing.'" "Half the miseries of human life," thought Hazlitt, "proceed from our not perceiving the incompatibility of different attainments, and consequently aiming at too much. We make ourselves wretched in vainly aspiring after advantages we are deprived of; and do not consider that if we had these advantages it would be quite impossible for us to retain those which we actually do possess, and which, after all, if it were put to the question, we would not consent to part with for the sake of any others." "Men of true wisdom and goodness," says Fielding, "are contented to take persons and things as they are, without complaining of their imperfections, or attempting to amend them; they can see a fault in a friend, or relation, or an acquaintance, without ever mentioning it to the parties themselves or to any others; and this often without lessening their affection: indeed, unless great discernment be tempered with this overlooking disposition, we ought never to contract friendships but with a degree of folly which we can deceive; for I hope my friends will pardon me when I declare, I know none of them without a fault; and I should be sorry if I could imagine I had any friends who could not see mine. Forgiveness of this kind we give and demand in turn: it is an exercise of friendship, and perhaps none of the least pleasant, and this forgiveness we must bestow without desire of amendment. There is, perhaps, no surer mark of folly, than an attempt to correct the natural infirmities of those we love: the finest composition of human nature, as well as the finest china, may have a flaw in it; and this, I am afraid, in either case, is equally incurable, though nevertheless the pattern may remain of the highest value." "In short," says Bulwer, "I suspect that every really skilled man of the world—as the world exists for its citizens in this nineteenth century—who, at the ripe age of forty, looks from the window of his club on the every-day mortals whom Fourier[Pg 339] has hitherto failed to reform, has convinced him that, considering all the mistakes in our education and rearing,—all the temptations to which flesh and blood are exposed—all the trials which poverty inflicts on the poor—all the seductions which wealth whispers to the rich,—men, on the whole, are rather good than otherwise, and women, on the whole, are rather better than the men."

"Let a man examine his own thoughts," says Pascal, "and he will always find them employed about the time past or to come. We scarce bestow a glance upon the present; or, if we do, 'tis only to borrow light from hence to manage and direct the future. The present is never the mark of our designs. We use both past and present as our means and instruments, but the future only as our object and aim. Thus we never live, but we ever hope to live; and under this continual disposition and preparation to happiness, 'tis certain we can never be actually happy, if our hopes are terminated with the scene of this life."

The Thracians, according to Pliny, estimated their lives mathematically, making careful study and count of each day before any event of it was forgotten. "Every day they put into an urn either a black or a white pebble, to denote the good or bad fortune of that day; at last they separated these pebbles, and upon comparing the two numbers together, they formed their judgment of the whole of their lives." But time, past or present,—time, what is it? "Who can readily and briefly explain this?" inquired St. Augustine. "Who can even in thought comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it? But what in discourse do we mention more familiarly and knowingly, than time? And we understand, when we speak of it; we understand, also, when we hear it spoken of by another. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I explain it to one that asketh, I know not; yet I say boldly, that I know that if nothing passed away, time[Pg 340] passed were not; and if nothing were coming, a time to come were not; and if nothing were, time present were not. Those two times then, past and to come, how are they, seeing the past now is not, and that to come is not yet? But the present, should it always be present, and never pass into time past, verily it should not be time, but eternity. If, therefore, time present, in order to be time at all, comes into existence only because it passes into time past, how can we say that that is in existence, whose cause of being is that it shall not be? How is it that we cannot truly say that time is, but because it is tending not to be?" Comprehend this, and you see how easy a thing it was for the Thracians to "form a judgment of the whole of their lives"—to strike a nice balance between their happiness and their misery.

But happiness is as illusive as time, and is proved as perspicuously to be but a thing of memory, by the same venerable saint. "Where, then, and when," he says in his famous Confessions, "did I experience my happy life, that I should remember and love and long for it? Nor is it I alone, or some few besides, but we all would fain be happy; which, unless by some certain knowledge we knew, we should not with so certain a will desire. But how is this, that if two men be asked whether they would go to the wars, one, perchance, would answer that he would, the other that he would not; but if they were asked whether they would be happy, both would instantly, without any doubting, say they would; and for no other reason would the one go to the wars, and the other not, but to be happy. Is it, perchance, that as one looks for his joy in this thing, another in that, all agree in their desire of being happy, as they would agree, if they were asked, that they wished to have joy, and this joy they call a happy life? Although, then, one obtains the joy by one means, another by another, all have one end, which they strive to attain, namely, joy. Which being a[Pg 341] thing which all must say they have experienced, it is, therefore, found in the memory, and recognized whenever the name of a happy life is mentioned." Now do you know, perhaps, what happiness is.

Coming down from Augustine to Helps,—"The wonder is that we live on from day to day learning so little the art of life. We are constantly victims of every sort of worry and petty misery, which it would seem a little bit of reflection and sensible conduct would remove. We constantly hang together when association only produces unhappiness. We know it, but do not remedy it.... We have no right to expect to meet many sympathetic people in the course of our lives. ["To get human beings together who ought to be together," said Sydney Smith, "is a dream." "If," said De Tocqueville, "to console you for having been born, you must meet with men whose most secret motives are always actuated by fine and elevated feelings, you need not wait, you may go and drown yourself immediately. But if you would be satisfied with a few men, whose actions are in general governed by those motives, and a large majority, who from time to time are influenced by them, you need not make such faces at the human race. Man with his vices, his weaknesses, and his virtues, strange combination though he be of good and evil, of grandeur and of baseness, is still, on the whole, the object most worthy of study, interest, pity, attachment, and admiration in the world; and since we have no angels, we cannot attach ourselves, or devote ourselves to anything greater or nobler than our fellow-creatures.... It is when estimating better one's fellow-men, one reckons them not by number but by worth; and this makes the world appear small. Then, without regard to distance, one seeks everywhere for the rare qualities which one has learned to appreciate."] The pleasant man to you is the man you can rely upon; who is tolerant, forbearing, and faithful....[Pg 342] Again, the habit of over-criticism is another hinderance to pleasantness. We are not fond of living always with our judges; and daily life will not bear the unwholesome scrutiny of an over-critical person." The petty annoyances and wanton bitternesses of life make us, in our impatience, sometimes wish to fly from all companionship; and contributed, no doubt,—he himself could not tell how much,—to make the author of the Genius of Solitude exclaim, with so much feeling, "Happy is he who, free from the iron visages that hurt him as they pass in the street, free from the vapid smiles and sneers of frivolous people, draws his sufficingness from inexhaustible sources always at his command when he is alone! Blest is he who, when disappointed, can turn from the affectations of an empty world and find solace in the generous sincerity of a full heart. To roam apart by the tinkling rill, to crouch in the grass where the crocus grows, to lie amid the clover where the honey-bee hums, gaze off into the still deeps of summer blue, and feel that your harmless life is gliding over the field of time as noiselessly as the shadow of a cloud; or, snuggled in furs, to trudge through the drifts amidst the unspotted scenery of winter, when Storm unfurls his dark banner in the sky, and Snow has camped on the hills and clad every stone and twig with his ermine, is pleasure surpassing any to be won in shallowly consorting with mobs of men."

"The longer I live," said Maurice de Guérin, "and the clearer I discern between true and false in society, the more does the inclination to live, not as a savage or a misanthrope, but as a solitary man on the frontiers of society, on the outskirts of the world, gain strength and grow in me. The birds come and go, and make nests around our habitations; they are fellow-citizens of our farms and hamlets with us: but they take their flight in a heaven which is boundless; the hand of God alone gives and measures to them their daily food; they build[Pg 343] their nests in the heart of the thick bushes, and hang them in the height of the trees. So would I, too, live, hovering round society, and having always at my back a field of liberty vast as the sky."

A strange instance of abandonment of the world for a solitary life is given in the history of Henry Welby, the Hermit of Grub Street, who died in 1638, at the age of eighty-four. This example affords "an eccentric illustration of one of those phases of human nature out of which the anchoretic life has sprung. When forty years old, Welby was assailed, in a moment of anger, by a younger brother, with a loaded pistol. It flashed in the pan. 'Thinking of the danger he had escaped, he fell into many deep considerations, on the which he grounded an irrevocable resolution to live alone.' He had wealth and position, and was of a social temper; but the shock he had undergone had made him distrustful and meditative, not malignant nor wretched, and engendered in him a purpose of surpassing tenacity. He had three chambers, one within another, prepared for his solitude; the first for his diet, the second for his lodging, the third for his study. While his food was set on the table by one of his servants, he retired into his sleeping-room; and, while his bed was making, into his study; and so on, until all was clear. 'There he set up his rest, and, in forty-four years, never upon any occasion issued out of those chambers till he was borne thence upon men's shoulders. Neither, in all that time, did any human being—save, on some rare necessity, his ancient maid-servant—look upon his face.' Supplied with the best new books in various languages, he devoted himself unto prayers and reading. He inquired out objects of charity and sent them relief. He would spy from his chamber, by a private prospect into the street, any sick, lame, or weak passing by, and send comforts and money to them. 'His hair, by reason no barber came near him for the space of so many years,[Pg 344] was so much overgrown at the time of his death, that he appeared rather like an eremite of the wilderness than an inhabitant of a city.'"

Welby must have possessed the jewel which this incident, related by Izaak Walton in his Angler, discovers to be so indispensable. "I knew a man," he says, "that had health and riches and several houses, all beautiful and ready furnished, and would often trouble himself and family to be removing from one house to another; and, being asked by a friend why he removed so often from one house to another, replied, 'It was to find content in some one of them.' 'Content,' said his friend, 'ever dwells in a meek and quiet soul.'"

"It's no in titles nor in rank;
It's no in wealth like Lon'on bank,
To purchase peace and rest;
It's no in making muckle mair:
It's no in books; it's no in lear,
To make us truly blest:
If happiness hae not her seat
And centre in the breast,
We may be wise, or rich, or great,
But never can be blest:
Nae treasures, nor pleasures,
Could make us happy lang;
The heart aye's the part aye,
That makes us right or wrang."

Out of mud, say the Orientalists, springs the lotus flower; out of clay comes gold and many precious things; out of oysters the pearls; brightest silks, to robe fairest forms, are spun by a worm; bezoar from the bull, musk from the deer, are produced; from a stick is born flame; from the jungle comes sweetest honey. As from sources of little worth come the precious things of earth, even so is it with hearts that hold their fortune within. They need not lofty birth or noble kin. Their victory is recorded. A rain-drop, they say, fell into the sea. "I am lost!" it[Pg 345] cried; "what am I in such a sea?" Into the shell of a gaping oyster it fell, and there was formed into the orient pearl which now shines fairest in Britain's diadem. Humility creates the worth it underrates. "By two things," says the author of the Imitation, "a man is lifted up from things earthly, namely, by simplicity and purity. A pure heart penetrateth heaven and hell. Such as every one is inwardly, so he judgeth outwardly. If there be joy in the world, surely a man of a pure heart possesseth it.... Let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men; for whether they judge well of thee or ill, thou art not on that account other than thyself. He that careth not to please men, nor feareth to displease them, shall enjoy much peace.... He enjoyeth great tranquillity of heart, that careth neither for the praise nor dispraise of men. If thou consider what thou art in thyself, thou wilt not care what men say of thee. Man looketh on the countenance, but God on the heart. Man considereth the deeds, but God weigheth the intentions." "Will you not be very glad to know," wrote Eugénie de Guérin to her brother, in Paris, "that I have just been spending a pleasant quarter of an hour on the terrace-steps, seated by the side of an old woman, who was singing me a lamentable ballad on an event that occurred long ago at Cahuzac? This came about apropos of a gold cross that has been stolen from the neck of the blessed Virgin. The old woman remembered her grandmother telling her that she had heard in olden times of this same church being the scene of a still more sacrilegious robbery, since it was then the blessed sacrament that was carried off one day when it was left exposed in the empty church. A young girl came to the altar while everybody was busy in the harvest, and, mounting upon it, put the pyx into her apron, and went and placed it under a rose-tree in a wood. The shepherds who discovered it told where it was, and nine priests came in procession to adore the blessed sacrament[Pg 346] under the rose-tree, and to carry it back to the church. But for all that, the poor shepherdess was arrested, tried, and condemned to be burned. Just when about to die, she requested to confess, and owned the fact to a priest; but it was not, she said, because of any thievish propensities she took it, but that she wanted to have the blessed sacrament in the forest. 'I thought that the good God would be as satisfied under a rose-tree as on an altar.' At these words an angel descended from heaven to announce her pardon, and to comfort the pious criminal, who was burnt on a stake, of which the rose-tree formed the first fagot." There is a tradition that one night, Gabriel, from his seat in paradise, heard the voice of God sweetly responding to a human heart. The angel said, "Surely this must be an eminent servant of the Most High, whose spirit is dead to lust and lives on high." The angel hastened over land and sea to find this man, but could not find him in the earth or heavens. At last he exclaimed, "O Lord, show me the way to the object of thy love!" God answered, "Turn thy steps to yon village, and in that pagoda thou shalt behold him." The angel sped to the pagoda, and therein found a solitary man kneeling before an idol. Returning, he cried, "O master of the world! hast thou looked with love on a man who invokes an idol in a pagoda?" God said, "I consider not the error of ignorance: this heart, amid its darkness, hath the highest place."

Anaxagoras, whose disciples were Socrates and Pericles and Euripides, in reply to a question, said he believed those to be most happy who seem least to be so; and that we must not look among the rich and great for persons who taste true happiness, but among those who till a small piece of ground, or apply themselves to the sciences, without ambition. "The fairest lives, in my opinion," said Montaigne, "are those which regularly accommodate themselves to the common and human model, without miracle,[Pg 347] without extravagance." "If some great men," said Mandeville, "had not a superlative pride, and everybody understood the enjoyment of life, who would be a lord chancellor, a prime minister, or a grand pensionary?" There is in existence a precious old album containing the handwriting of many renowned men, such as Luther, Erasmus, Mosheim, and others. The last-mentioned has written, in Latin, the following remarkable words: "Renown is a source of toil and sorrow; obscurity is a source of happiness." "Does he not drink more sweetly that takes his beverage in an earthen vessel," asks Jeremy Taylor, "than he that looks and searches into his golden chalices, for fear of poison, and looks pale at every sudden noise, and sleeps in armor, and trusts nobody, and does not trust God for safety?"

"The world," said Goethe, "could not exist, if it were not so simple. This ground has been tilled a thousand years, yet its powers remain ever the same; a little rain, a little sun, and each spring it grows green again."

"Everything has its own limits," says Hazlitt, "a little centre of its own, round which it moves; so that our true wisdom lies in our keeping in our own walk in life, however humble or obscure, and being satisfied if we can succeed in it. The best of us can do no more, and we shall only become ridiculous or unhappy by attempting it. We are ashamed because we are at a loss in things to which we have no pretensions, and try to remedy our mistakes by committing greater. An overweening vanity or self-opinion is, in truth, often at the bottom of this weakness; and we shall be most likely to conquer the one by eradicating the other, or restricting it within due and moderate bounds."

In the Imaginary Conversations, Aspasia asks Pericles: "Is there any station so happy as an uncontested place in a small community, where manners are simple, where wants are few, where respect is the tribute of probity, and love is the guerdon of beneficence?"

[Pg 348]

"From my tutor," said the good emperor Marcus Aurelius, "I learnt endurance of labor, and to want little, and to work with my own hands, and not to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander."

"Ah!" exclaimed the Attic Philosopher, "if men but knew in what a small dwelling joy can live, and how little it costs to furnish it!... Does a man drink more when he drinks from a large glass? From whence comes that universal dread of mediocrity, the fruitful mother of peace and liberty? Ah! there is the evil which, above every other, it should be the aim of both public and private education to anticipate! If that were got rid of, what treasons would be spared, what baseness avoided, what a chain of excess and crime would be forever broken! We award the palm to charity, and to self-sacrifice: but, above all, let us award it to moderation, for it is the great social virtue. Even when it does not create the others, it stands instead of them." Socrates used to say that the man who ate with the greatest appetite had the least need of delicacies; and that he who drank with the greatest appetite was the least inclined to look for a draught which is not at hand; and that those who want fewest things are nearest to the gods. Milton says that the lyric poet may drink wine and live generously, but the epic poet, he who shall sing of the gods, and their descent unto men, must drink water out of a golden bowl. "Have you never noticed," said Hiero, "all the multitudinous contrivances which are set before tyrants, acid, and harsh, and sour; and whatsoever else there can be of the same kind?" "To be sure I have," said Simonides; "and all these things appeared to me to be very contrary to the natural taste of any man." "And do you think," said Hiero, "that these dishes are anything else but the fancies of a diseased and vitiated taste; since those who eat with appetite, you well know, have no need of these contrivances[Pg 349] and provocatives?" Michel Angelo seldom partook of the enjoyments of the table, and used to say, "However rich I may have been, I have always lived as a poor man." Said Seneca, "He that lives according to nature cannot be poor, and he that exceeds can never have enough." Epicurus said, "I feed sweetly upon bread and water, those sweet and easy provisions of the body, and I defy the pleasures of costly provisions." Cardinal Mancini staying once on a visit to Poussin till it was dark, the artist took the candle in his hand, lighted him down-stairs, and waited upon him to his coach. The prelate was sorry to see him do it himself, and could not help saying, "I very much pity you, Poussin, that you have not one servant." "And I pity you more, my lord," replied Poussin, "that you have so many." "No man needs to flatter," said Jeremy Taylor, "if he can live as nature did intend. He need not swell his accounts, and intricate his spirit with arts of subtlety and contrivance; he can be free from fears, and the chances of the world cannot concern him. All our trouble is from within us; and if a dish of lettuce and a clear fountain can cool all my heats, so that I shall have neither thirst nor pride, lust nor revenge, envy nor ambition, I am lodged in the bosom of felicity."

"Prosperity," says Froude, in one of his essays, "is consistent with intense worldliness, intense selfishness, intense hardness of heart; while the grander features of human character,—self-sacrifice, disregard of pleasure, patriotism, love of knowledge, devotion to any great and good cause,—these have no tendency to bring men what is called fortune. They do not even necessarily promote their happiness; for do what they will in this way, the horizon of what they desire to do perpetually flies before them. High hopes and enthusiasms are generally disappointed in results; and the wrongs, the cruelties, the wretchedness of all kinds which forever prevail among[Pg 350] mankind,—the short-comings in himself of which he becomes more conscious as he becomes really better,—these things, you may be sure, will prevent a noble-minded man from ever being particularly happy." "I should rather say," he says in another essay, "that the Scots had been an unusually happy people. Intelligent industry, the honest doing of daily work, with a sense that it must be done well, under penalties; the necessaries of life moderately provided for; and a sensible content with the situation of life in which men are born—this through the week, and at the end of it the Cotter's Saturday Night—the homely family, gathered reverently and peacefully together, and irradiated with a sacred presence. Happiness! such happiness as we human creatures are likely to know upon this world will be found there, if anywhere."

"On the Simplon," says a German traveler, "amid the desert of snow and mist, in the vicinity of a refuge, a boy and his little sister were journeying up the mountain by the side of our carriage. Both had on their backs little baskets filled with wood, which they had gathered in the lower mountains, where there is still some vegetation. The boy gave us some specimens of rock crystal and other stone, for which we gave him some small coins. The delight with which he cast stolen glances at his money, as he passed by our carriage, made upon me an indelible impression. Never before had I seen such a heavenly expression of felicity. I could not but reflect that God had placed all sources and capabilities for happiness in the human heart; and that, with respect to happiness, it is perfectly indifferent how and where one dwells."

"A man," says Cumberland, "who is gifted with worldly qualities and accommodations is armed with hands, as a ship with grappling-irons, ready to catch hold of, and make himself fast to everything he comes in contact with, and such a man, with all these properties of adhesion, has also[Pg 351] the property, like the polypus, of a most miraculous and convenient indivisibility; cut off his hold—nay, cut him how you will, he is still a polypus, whole and entire. Men of this sort still work their way out of their obscurity like cockroaches out of the hold of a ship, and crawl into notice, nay, even into kings' palaces, as the frogs did into Pharaoh's; the happy faculty of noting times and seasons, and a lucky promptitude to avail themselves of moments with address and boldness, are alone such all-sufficient requisites, such marketable stores of worldly knowledge, that, although the minds of those who own them shall be, as to all the liberal sciences, a rasa tabula, yet knowing these things needful to be known, let their difficulties and distresses be what they may, though the storm of adversity threatens to overwhelm them, they are in a life-boat, buoyed up by corks, and cannot sink. These are the stray children turned loose upon the world, whom Fortune, in her charity, takes charge of, and for whose guidance in the by-ways and cross-roads of their pilgrimage she sets up fairy finger-posts, discoverable by those whose eyes are near the ground, but unperceived by such whose looks are raised above it."

"Genial manners are good," says Emerson, "and power of accommodation to any circumstance; but the high prize of life, the crowning fortune of a man, is to be born with a bias to some pursuit, which finds him in employment and happiness,—whether it be to make baskets, or broad-swords, or canals, or statues, or songs."

Wordsworth's man-servant, James, was brought up in a work-house, and at nine years of age was turned out of the house with two shillings in his pocket. When without a six-pence, he was picked up by a farmer, who took him into his service on condition that all his clothes should be burnt (they were so filthy); and he was to pay for his new clothes out of his wages of two pounds ten shillings per annum. Here he stayed as long as he was wanted. "I[Pg 352] have been so lucky," said James, "that I was never out of a place a day in my life, for I was always taken into service immediately. I never got into a scrape, or was drunk in my life, for I never taste any liquor. So that I have often said, I consider myself as a favorite of fortune!" This is like Goldsmith's cripple in the park, who, remarking upon his appealing wretchedness, said, "'Tis not every man that can be born with a golden spoon in his mouth."

"Arrogance," said Goethe, "is natural to youth. A man believes, in his youth, that the world properly began with him, and that all exists for his sake. In the East, there was a man who, every morning, collected his people about him, and never would go to work till he had commanded the sun to arise. But he was wise enough not to speak his command till the sun of its own accord was ready to appear." "At the outset of life," says Hazlitt, "our imagination has a body to it. We are in a state between sleeping and waking, and have indistinct but glorious glimpses of strange shapes, and there is always something to come better than what we see. As in our dreams the fullness of the blood gives warmth and reality to the coinage of the brain, so in youth our ideas are clothed, and fed, and pampered with our good spirits; we breathe thick with thoughtless happiness, the weight of future years presses on the strong pulses of the heart, and we repose with undisturbed faith in truth and good. As we advance, we exhaust our fund of enjoyment and of hope. We are no longer wrapped in lamb's-wool, lulled in Elysium. As we taste the pleasures of life, their spirit evaporates, the sense palls, and nothing is left but the phantoms, the lifeless shadows of what has been!"

"There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparel'd in celestial light,
[Pg 353] The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it has been of yore;
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.
"The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth."

"Why," asks Souvestre, "is there so much confidence at first, so much doubt at last? Has, then, the knowledge of life no other end but to make it unfit for happiness? Must we condemn ourselves to ignorance if we would preserve hope? Is the world, and is the individual man, intended, after all, to find rest only in an eternal childhood?"

"If the world does improve on the whole," said Goethe, "yet youth must always begin anew, and go through the stages of culture from the beginning." But, "'tis a great advantage of rank," said Pascal, "that a man at eighteen or twenty shall be allowed the same esteem and deference which another purchaseth by his merit at fifty. Here are thirty years gained at a stroke."

"The whole employment of men's lives," said the same thinker, "is to improve their fortunes; and yet the title by which they hold all, if traced to its origin, is no more than the pure fancy of the legislators: but their possession is still more precarious than their right, and at the mercy of a thousand accidents: nor are the treasures of the mind better insured; while a fall, or a fit of sickness, may bankrupt the ablest understanding.... Cæsar was too old, in my opinion, to amuse himself with projecting the conquest of the world. Such an imagination was[Pg 354] excusable in Alexander, a prince full of youth and fire, and not easy to be checked in his hopes. But Cæsar ought to have been more grave."

"Knowledge has two extremities, which meet and touch each other," says Pascal, again. "The first of them is pure, natural ignorance, such as attends every man at his birth. The other is the perfection attained by great souls, who, having run through the circle of all that mankind can know, find at length that they know nothing, and are contented to return to that ignorance from which they set out. Ignorance that thus knows itself is a wise and learned ignorance."

"That is ever the difference," said Emerson, "between the wise and the unwise: the latter wonders at what is unusual, the wise man wonders at the usual."

It has been said that the visitor, climbing the white roof of the Milan cathedral, and gazing on the forest of statues, "feels as though a flight of angels had alighted there and been struck to marble." "At the top of his mind," says Alger, "the devout scholar has a holy of holies, a little pantheon set round with altars and the images of the greatest men. Every day, putting on a priestly robe, he retires into this temple and passes before its shrines and shapes. Here he feels a thrill of awe; there he lays a burning aspiration; farther on he swings a censer of reverence. To one he lifts a look of love; at the feet of another he drops a grateful tear; and before another still, a flush of pride and joy suffuses him. They smile on him: sometimes they speak and wave their solemn hands. Always they look up to the Highest. Purified and hallowed, he gathers his soul together, and comes away from the worshipful intercourse, serious, serene, glad, and strong."

"Men," says St. Augustine, "travel far to climb high mountains, to observe the majesty of the ocean, to trace the sources of rivers, but they neglect themselves." "Admirable[Pg 355] reasoning! admirable lesson!" exclaimed Petrarch, as he closed the Confessions upon the passage when on the summit of the Alps. "If," said he, "I have undergone so much labor in climbing this mountain that my body might be nearer to heaven, what ought I not to do in order that my soul may be received into those immortal regions?"

Hear this lofty strain of the old heathen emperor, Marcus Aurelius: "Short is the little which remains to thee of life. Live as on a mountain. Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live. If they cannot endure him, let them kill him. For that is better than to live as men do."

"As soon as a man," says Max Müller, "becomes conscious of himself as distinct from all other things and persons, he at the same moment becomes conscious of a Higher Self, a higher power, without which he feels that neither he nor anything else would have any life or reality."

"To live, indeed," says Sir Thomas Browne, "is to be again ourselves, which being not only a hope but an evidence in noble believers, 'tis all one to lie in St. Innocent's church-yard, as in the sands of Egypt; ready to be anything in the ecstasy of being ever, and as content with six feet as the moles of Adrianus."

"At the age of seventy-five," said Goethe, "one must, of course, think frequently of death. But this thought never gives me the least uneasiness, I am so fully convinced that the soul is indestructible, and that its activity will continue through eternity. It is like the sun, which seems to our earthly eyes to set in night, but is in reality gone to diffuse its light elsewhere."

"The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed,
Lets in new light thro' chinks that time has made;
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
As they draw near to their eternal home.
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
That stand upon the threshold of the new."
[Pg 356]

Amongst the poems of Mrs. Barbauld is a stanza on Life, written in extreme old age. Madame D'Arblay told the poet Rogers that she repeated it every night. Wordsworth once said to a visitor, "Repeat me that stanza by Mrs. Barbauld." His friend did so. Wordsworth made him repeat it again. And so he learned it by heart. He was at the time walking in his sitting-room at Rydal, with his hands behind him, and was heard to mutter to himself, "I am not in the habit of grudging people their good things, but I wish I had written those lines."

"Life! we've been long together,
Thro' pleasant and thro' cloudy weather:
'Tis hard to part when friends are dear,
Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear:
Then steal away, give little warning,
Choose thine own time;
Say not good-night, but in some brighter clime
Bid me good-morning."
[Pg 357]



"Ah!" sighed Shelley to Leigh Hunt, as the organ was playing in the cathedral at Pisa, "what a divine religion might be found out if charity were really made the principle of it instead of faith."

"In the seventeenth century," said Dean Stanley, in one of his Lectures on the Church of Scotland, "the minister of the parish of Anworth was the famous Samuel Rutherford, the great religious oracle of the Covenanters and their adherents. It was, as all readers of his letters will remember, the spot which he most loved on earth. The very swallows and sparrows which found their nests in the church of Anworth were, when far away, the objects of his affectionate envy. Its hills and valleys were the witnesses of his ardent devotion when living; they still retain his memory with unshaken fidelity. It is one of the traditions thus cherished on the spot, that on a Saturday evening, at one of those family gatherings whence, in the language of the good Scottish poet,—

'Old Scotia's grandeur springs,'

when Rutherford was catechising his children and servants, that a stranger knocked at the door of the manse, and begged shelter for the night. The minister kindly received him, and asked him to take his place amongst the family and assist at their religious exercises. It so happened that the question in the catechism which came to the stranger's turn was that which asks, 'How many commandments are there?' He answered, 'Eleven.' 'Eleven!' exclaimed Rutherford; 'I am surprised that a[Pg 358] man of your age and appearance should not know better. What do you mean?' And he answered, 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' Rutherford was much impressed by the answer, and they retired to rest. The next morning he rose early to meditate on the services of the day. The old manse of Anworth stood—its place is still pointed out—in the corner of a field, under the hill-side, and thence a long, winding, wooded path, still called Rutherford's Walk, leads to the church. Through this glen he passed, and, as he threaded his way through the thicket, he heard amongst the trees the voice of the stranger at his morning devotions. The elevation of the sentiments and of the expressions convinced him that it was no common man. He accosted him, and the traveler confessed to him that he was no other than the great divine and scholar, Archbishop Usher, the Primate of the Church of Ireland, one of the best and most learned men of his age, who well fulfilled that new commandment in the love which he won and which he bore to others; one of the few links of Christian charity between the fierce contending factions of that time, devoted to King Charles I. in his life-time, and honored in his grave by the Protector Cromwell. He it was who, attracted by Rutherford's fame, had thus come in disguise to see him in the privacy of his own home. The stern Covenanter welcomed the stranger prelate; side by side they pursued their way along Rutherford's Walk to the little church, of which the ruins still remain; and in that small Presbyterian sanctuary, from Rutherford's rustic pulpit, the archbishop preached to the people of Anworth on the words which had so startled his host the evening before: 'A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.'"

[Pg 359]

In a legend which St. Jerome has recorded, and which, says the same writer, in his Essays on the Apostolic Age, is not the less impressive because so familiar to us, we see the aged Apostle (John) borne in the arms of his disciples into the Ephesian assembly, and there repeating over and over again the same saying, "Little children, love one another;" till, when asked why he said this and nothing else, he replied in those well-known words, fit indeed to be the farewell speech of the beloved disciple, "Because this is our Lord's command, and if you fulfill this, nothing else is needed."

"An acceptance of the sentiment of love throughout Christendom for a season," says Emerson, "would bring the felon and the outcast to our side in tears, with the devotion of his faculties to our service. Love would put a new face on this weary old world, in which we dwell as pagans and enemies too long, and it would warm the heart to see how fast the vain diplomacy of statesmen, the impotence of armies and navies and lines of defense, would be superseded by this unarmed child." We do not believe, or we forget, that "the Holy Ghost came down, not in the shape of a vulture, but in the form of a dove."

Rogers' stories of children, of which he told many, were very pretty. The prettiest was of a little girl who was a great favorite of every one who knew her. "Why does everybody love you so much?" She answered, "I think it is because I love everybody so much."

"A strong argument," thought Poe, "for the religion of Christ is this—that offenses against charity are about the only ones which men on their death-beds can be made—not to understand—but to feel—as crime."

"Tell me, gentle traveler, who hast wandered through the world, and seen the sweetest roses blow, and brightest gliding rivers, of all thine eyes have seen, which is the fairest land?" "Child, shall I tell thee where nature[Pg 360] is most blest and fair? It is where those we love abide. Though that space be small, ample is it above kingdoms; though it be a desert, through it runs the river of paradise, and there are the enchanted bowers."

"We ought," says the author of Ecce Homo, "to be just as tolerant of an imperfect creed as we are of an imperfect practice. Everything which can be urged in excuse for the latter may also be pleaded for the former. If the way to Christian action is beset by corrupt habits and misleading passions, the path to Christian truth is overgrown with prejudices, and strewn with fallen theories and rotting systems which hide it from our view. It is quite as hard to think rightly as to act rightly, or even to feel rightly. And as all allow that an error is a less culpable thing than a crime or a vicious passion, it is monstrous that it should be more severely punished; it is monstrous that Christ, who was called the friend of publicans and sinners, should be represented as the pitiless enemy of bewildered seekers of truth. How could men have been guilty of such an inconsistency? By speaking of what they do not understand. Men in general do not understand or appreciate the difficulty of finding truth. All men must act, and therefore all men learn in some degree how difficult it is to act rightly. The consequence is that all men can make excuse for those who fail to act rightly. But all men are not compelled to make an independent search for truth, and those who voluntarily undertake to do so are always few. To the world at large it seems quite easy to find truth, and inexcusable to miss it. And no wonder! For by finding truth they mean only learning by rote the maxims current among them." "Maxims and first principles," says Pascal, "are subject to revolutions; and we are to go to chronology for the epochs of right and wrong. A very humorsome justice this, which is bounded by a river or a mountain: orthodoxy on one side of the Pyrenees may be heresy on[Pg 361] the other." "Let there," begs the Spanish President Castelar, "be no more accursed races on the earth. Let every one act according to his conscience, and communicate freely with his God. Let thought be only corrected by the contradiction of thought. Let error be an infirmity, and not a crime. Let us agree in acknowledging that opinions sometimes take possession of our understandings quite independent of our will or desire. Let us be so just as to be enabled to see even to what degree each race has contributed to the universal education of humanity."

"Every new idea," says a writer in The Quarterly Review, "creates an enthusiasm in the minds of those who have first grasped it, which renders them incapable of viewing it in its true proportions to the sum total of knowledge. It is in their eyes no new denizen of the world of facts, but a heaven-sent ruler of it, to which all previously recognized truths must be made to bow. As time goes on, truer views obtain. The new principle ceases to be regarded either as a pestilent delusion or as a key to all mysteries. Its application comes to be better defined and its value more reasonably appreciated, when both idolators and iconoclasts have passed away, and a new generation begins to take stock of its intellectual inheritance."

"The truth," said Goethe, "must be repeated over and over again, because error is repeatedly preached among us, not only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals and cyclopedias, in schools and universities, everywhere, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the feeling that it has quite a majority on its side." "Public opinion, of which we hear so much," said a writer in Blackwood, long ago, "is never anything else than the reëcho of the thought of a few great men half a century before. It takes that time for ideas to flow down from the elevated to the inferior level. The great never adopt,[Pg 362] they only originate. Their chief efforts are always made in opposition to the prevailing opinions by which they are surrounded. Thence it is that a powerful mind is always uneasy when it is not in the minority on any subject which excites general attention." "If you discover a truth," says an unknown author, "you are persecuted by an infinite number of people who gain their living from the error you oppose, saying that this error itself is the truth, and that the greatest error is that which tends to destroy it." "There arose no small stir" at Ephesus on account of Paul's preaching. "For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth: moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods which are made with hands. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshipeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

Thomas Aikenhead, a student of eighteen, was hanged at Edinburgh, in 1697, for having uttered, says Macaulay, in his History, free opinions about the Trinity and some of the books of the Bible. His offense was construed as blasphemy under an old Scotch statute, which was strained for the purpose of convicting him. After his sentence he recanted, and begged a short respite to make his peace with God. This the privy council declined to grant, unless the Edinburgh clergy would intercede for him; but so far were they from seconding his petition, that they actually demanded that his execution should not be delayed.[Pg 363] "Imagine, if you can," says Froude, in one of his essays, "a person being now put to death for a speculative theological opinion. You feel at once that, in the most bigoted country in the world, such a thing has become impossible; and the impossibility is the measure of the alteration which we have all undergone. The formulas remain as they were, on either side,—the very same formulas which were once supposed to require these detestable murders. But we have learned to know each other better. The cords which bind together the brotherhood of mankind are woven of a thousand strands. We do not any more fly apart or become enemies because, here and there, in one strand out of so many, there are still unsound places."

It was in the Star Chamber (during the reign of Charles I., after Christ, sixteen hundred and thirty-seven years) that Leighton, a clergyman, for coarse invectives against prelacy and prelates, received the sentence by which he was severely whipped in public, was put in the pillory, had one ear cut off, one side of his nose slit, and one cheek branded with the letters S. S., to denote that he was a sower of sedition. "On that day week," says Laud (then Archbishop of Canterbury), who instigated the prosecution, "the sores upon his back, ear, nose, and face being not cured, he was whipped again at the pillory, and there had the remainder of his sentence executed upon him, by cutting off the other ear, slitting the other side of his nose, and branding the other cheek." He was, in addition, degraded from his ministry, fined ten thousand pounds, and ordered to be retained in confinement for life.

"There is a violent zeal," says Fénelon, "that we must correct; it thinks it can change the whole world, it would reform everything, it would subject every one to its laws. The origin of this zeal is disgraceful. The defects of our neighbor interfere with our own; our vanity is wounded[Pg 364] by that of another; our own haughtiness finds our neighbor's ridiculous and insupportable; our restlessness is rebuked by the sluggishness and indolence of this person; our gloom is disturbed by the gayety and frivolities of that person, and our heedlessness by the shrewdness and address of another. If we were faultless, we should not be so much annoyed by the defects of those with whom we associate. If we were to acknowledge honestly that we have not virtue enough to bear patiently with our neighbors' weaknesses, we should show our own imperfection, and this alarms our vanity. We therefore make our weakness pass for strength, elevate it to a virtue and call it zeal; an imaginary and often hypocritical zeal. For is it not surprising to see how tranquil we are about the errors of others when they do not trouble us, and how soon this wonderful zeal kindles against those who excite our jealousy, or weary our patience?" "We reprove our friends' faults," said Wycherley, "more out of pride than love or charity; not so much to correct them as to make them believe we are ourselves without them." Simonides satirizes the same infirmity in a fable, to be found in the treasures of Athenæus:—

With his claw the snake surprising,
Thus the crab kept moralizing:—
"Out on sidelong turns and graces,
Straight's the word for honest paces!"

It was Dean Swift who said, "We have just enough of religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love, one another." "Your business," said Hunt, "is to preach love to your neighbor, to kick him to bits, and to thank God for the contradiction." "The falsehood that the tongue commits," said Landor, "is slight in comparison with what is conceived by the heart, and executed by the whole man, throughout life. If, professing love and charity to the human race at large, I quarrel day after day with my next neighbor; if, professing that the rich[Pg 365] can never see God, I spend in the luxuries of my household a talent monthly; if, professing to place so much confidence in his word, that, in regard to worldly weal, I need take no care for to-morrow, I accumulate stores even beyond what would be necessary though I quite distrusted both his providence and his veracity; if, professing that 'he who giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord,' I question the Lord's security, and haggle with him about the amount of the loan; if, professing that I am their steward, I keep ninety-nine parts in the hundred as the emolument of my stewardship: how, when God hates liars, and punishes defrauders, shall I, and other such thieves and hypocrites, fare hereafter?" In one of his chapters on the Study of Sociology, Herbert Spencer remarks that "it would clear up our ideas about many things, if we distinctly recognized the truth that we have two religions." These two religions Mr. Spencer designates as the "religion of amity" and the "religion of enmity." "Of course," he says, "I don't mean that these are both called religions. Here I am not speaking of names; I am speaking simply of things. Nowadays men do not pay the same nominal homage to the religion of enmity that they do to the religion of amity—the religion of amity occupies the place of honor. But the real homage is paid in large measure, if not in the larger measure, to the religion of enmity. The religion of enmity nearly all men actually believe. The religion of amity most of them merely believe they believe." "The Church of Rome," said F. W. Robertson, in his sermon on The Tongue, "hurls her thunders against Protestants of every denomination; the Calvinist scarcely recognizes the Arminian as a Christian; he who considers himself as the true Anglican excludes from the church of Christ all but the adherents of his own orthodoxy; every minister and congregation has its small circle, beyond which all are heretics; nay, even among that sect which is most[Pg 366] lax as to the dogmatic forms of truth, we find the Unitarian of the old school denouncing the spiritualism of the new and rising school. Sisters of Charity refuse to permit an act of charity to be done by a Samaritan; ministers of the gospel fling the thunder-bolts of the Lord; ignorant hearers catch and exaggerate the spirit; boys, girls, and women shudder as one goes by, perhaps more holy than themselves, who adores the same God, believes in the same Redeemer, struggles in the same life-battle—and all this because they have been taught to look upon him as an enemy of God." "Particular churches and sects," says Sir Thomas Browne, "usurp the gates of heaven, and turn the keys against each other; and thus we go to heaven against each others' wills, conceits, and opinions." "The church of the future," in the opinion of Father Hyacinthe, "will know nothing of such divisions, such discordances, and she will uphold the freedom of theologies and the diversity of rites in the unity of one faith and of one worship." "As soon," said Goethe, "as the pure doctrine and love of Christ are comprehended in their true nature, and have become a vital principle, we shall feel ourselves as human beings, great and free, and not attach especial importance to a degree more or less in the outward forms of religion: besides, we shall all gradually advance from a Christianity of words and faith to a Christianity of feeling and action." "Could we," said Dean Young, "but once descend from our high pretenses of religion to the humility that only makes men religious, could we but once prefer Christianity itself before the several factions that bear its name, our differences would sink of themselves; and it would appear to us that there is more religion in not contending than there is in the matter we contend about." "Do you remember," asks the author of The Eclipse of Faith, "the passage in Woodstock, in which our old favorite represents the Episcopalian Rochecliffe and the Presbyterian[Pg 367] Holdenough meeting unexpectedly in prison, after many years of separation, during which one had thought the other dead? How sincerely glad they were, and how pleasantly they talked; when, lo! an unhappy reference to 'the bishopric of Titus' gradually abated the fervor of their charity, and inflamed that of their zeal, even till they at last separated in mutual dudgeon, and sat glowering at each other in their distant corners with looks in which the 'Episcopalian' and 'Presbyterian' were much more evident than the 'Christian:' and so they persevered till the sudden summons to them and their fellow-prisoners, to prepare for instant execution, dissolved as with a charm the anger they had felt, and 'Forgive me, O my brother,' and 'I have sinned against thee, my brother,' broke from their lips as they took what they thought would be a last farewell." "I sometimes," says Froude, "in impatient moments, wish the laity would treat their controversial divines as two gentlemen once treated their seconds, when they found themselves forced into a duel without knowing what they were quarreling about. As the principals were being led up to their places, one of them whispered to the other, 'If you will shoot your second, I will shoot mine.'"

Benjamin Lay, a violent enthusiast and harsh reformer—contemporary with John Woolman—was, it is said, well acquainted with Dr. Franklin, who sometimes visited him. Among other schemes of reform he entertained the idea of converting all mankind to Christianity. This was to be done by three persons—himself and two other enthusiasts, assisted by Dr. Franklin. But on their first meeting at the doctor's house, the three "chosen vessels" got into a violent controversy on points of doctrine, and separated in ill-humor. The philosopher, who had been an amused listener, advised the three sages to give up the project of converting the world until they had learned to tolerate each other.

[Pg 368]

"Man," says Harrington, in his Political Aphorisms, "may rather be defined a religious than a rational creature, in regard that in other creatures there may be something of reason, but there is nothing of religion." "If you travel through the world well," says Plutarch, "you may find cities without walls, without literature, without kings, moneyless, and such as desire no coin; which know not what theatres or public halls of bodily exercise mean; but never was there, nor ever shall there be, any one city seen without temple, church, or chapel; without some god or other; which useth no prayers nor oaths, no prophecies and divinations, no sacrifices, either to obtain good blessings or to avert heavy curses and calamities. Nay, methinks a man should sooner find a city built in the air, without any plot of ground whereon it is seated, than that any commonwealth altogether void of religion and the opinion of the gods should either be first established, or afterward preserved and maintained in that estate. This is that containeth and holdeth together all human society; this is the foundation, prop, and stay of all."

The holy Nanac on the ground one day,
Reclining with his feet toward Mecca, lay;
A passing Moslem priest, offended, saw,
And flaming for the honor of his law,
Exclaimed: "Base infidel, thy prayers repeat!
Toward Allah's house how dar'st thou turn thy feet?"
Before the Moslem's shallow accents died,
The pious but indignant Nanac cried:
"And turn them, if thou canst, toward any spot,
Wherein the awful house of God is not!"

"How striking a proof is it," says a writer on The Religions of India, "of the strength of the adoring principle in human nature—what an illustration of mankind's sense of dependence upon an unseen Supreme—that the grandest works which the nations have reared are those connected with religion! Were a spirit from some[Pg 369] distant world to look down upon the surface of our planet as it spins round in the solar rays, his eye would be most attracted, as the morning light passed onward, by the glittering and painted pagodas of China, Borneo, and Japan; the richly ornamented temples and stupendous rock shrines of India; the dome-topped mosques and tall, slender minarets of Western Asia; the pyramids and vast temples of Egypt, with their mile-long avenues of gigantic statues and sphinxes; the graceful shrines of classic Greece; the basilicas of Rome and Byzantium; the semi-oriental church-domes of Moscow; the Gothic cathedrals of Western Europe: and as the day closed, the light would fall dimly upon the ruins of the grand sun-temples of Mexico and Peru, where, in the infancy of reason and humanity, human sacrifices were offered up, as if the All-Father were pleased with the agony of his creatures!"

"Moral rules," says Matthew Arnold, in his Essay on Marcus Aurelius, "apprehended as ideas first, and then rigorously followed as laws, are and must be for the sage only. The mass of mankind have neither force of intellect enough to apprehend them clearly as ideas, nor force of character enough to follow them strictly as laws. The mass of mankind can be carried along a course full of hardships for the natural man, can be borne over the thousand impediments of the narrow way, only by the tide of a joyful and bounding emotion. It is impossible to rise from reading Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius without a sense of constraint and melancholy, without feeling that the burden laid upon man is well-nigh greater than he can bear. Honor to the sages who have felt this, and yet have borne it!... For the ordinary man, this sense of labor and sorrow constitutes an absolute disqualification; it paralyzes him; under the weight of it he cannot make way toward the goal at all. The paramount virtue of religion is that it has lighted up morality; that it has supplied the emotion and inspiration needful for carrying[Pg 370] the sage along the narrow way perfectly, for carrying the ordinary man along it at all. Even the religions with most dross in them have had something of this virtue; but the Christian religion manifests it with unexampled splendor." The Duke de Chaulnes once said to Dr. Johnson that "every religion had a certain degree of morality in it." "Ay, my lord," answered he, "but the Christian religion alone puts it on its proper basis." "It is Christianity alone," said Max Müller, "which, as the religion of humanity, as the religion of no caste, of no chosen people, has taught us to respect the history of humanity as a whole, to discover the traces of a divine wisdom and love in the government of all the races of mankind, and to recognize, if possible, even in the lowest and crudest forms of religious belief, not the work of demoniacal agencies, but something that indicates a divine guidance, something that makes us perceive, with St. Peter, 'that God is no respecter of persons, but that in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.'" "There is a principle," said John Woolman—"the man who," it is said, "in all the centuries since the advent of Christ, lived nearest to the Divine pattern"—"there is a principle," said that Christian man, "which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath had different names; it is, however, pure, and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, when the heart stands in perfect sincerity. In whomsoever this takes root and grows, they become brethren."

"The turning-point," remarks Frances Power Cobbe, "between the old world and the new was the beginning of the Christian movement. The action upon human nature, which started on its new course, was the teaching and example of Christ. Christ was he who opened the age of endless progress. The old world grew from without,[Pg 371] and was outwardly symmetric. The new one grows from within, and is not symmetric, nor ever will be; bearing in its heart the germ of an everlasting, unresting progress. The old world built its temples, hewed its statues, framed its philosophies, and wrote its glorious epics and dramas, so that nothing might evermore be added to them. The new world made its art, its philosophy, its poetry, all imperfect, yet instinct with a living spirit beyond the old. To the Parthenon not a stone could be added from the hour of its completion. To Milan and Cologne altar and chapel, statue and spire, will be added through the ages. Christ was not merely a moral reformer, inculcating pure ethics; not merely a religious reformer, clearing away old theological errors and teaching higher ideas of God. These things He was; but He might, for all we can tell, have been them both as fully, and yet have failed to be what He has actually been to our race. He might have taught the world better ethics and better theology, and yet have failed to infuse into it that new tide which has ever since coursed through its arteries and penetrated its minutest veins. What Christ has really done is beyond the kingdom of the intellect and its theologies; nay, even beyond the kingdom of the conscience and its recognition of duty. His work has been in that of the heart. He has transformed the law into the gospel. He has changed the bondage of the alien for the liberty of the sons of God. He has glorified virtue into holiness, religion into piety, and duty into love." His was "a religion," says Jeremy Taylor, "that taught men to be meek and humble, apt to receive injuries, but unapt to do any; a religion that gave countenance to the poor and pitiful, in a time when riches were adored, and ambition and pleasure had possessed the heart of all mankind; a religion that would change the face of things and the hearts of men, and break vile habits into gentleness and counsel." "Christianity has[Pg 372] that in it," says Steele, in the Christian Hero, "which makes men pity, not scorn the wicked; and, by a beautiful kind of ignorance of themselves, think those wretches their equals." "Great and multiform," observes Lecky, in his History of European Morals,—summing up some of the results of Christianity,—"great and multiform have been the influences of Christian philanthropy. The high conception that has been formed of the sanctity of human life, the protection of infancy, the elevation and final emancipation of the slave classes, the suppression of barbarous games, the creation of a vast and multifarious organization of charity, and the education of the imagination by the Christian type, constituted together a movement of philanthropy which has never been paralleled or approached in the pagan world."

"If there be any good in thee," says the author of the Imitation, "believe that there is much more in others, that so thou mayest preserve humility. It hurteth thee not to submit to all men; but it hurteth thee most of all to prefer thyself even to one." Sir Henry Wotton being asked if he thought a Papist could be saved, replied, "You may be saved without knowing that." "Be assured," said Dean Young, "there can be but little honesty without thinking as well as possible of others; and there can be no safety without thinking humbly and distrustfully of ourselves." "It is easy," said Peterborough, in Imaginary Conversations, "to look down on others; to look down on ourselves is the difficulty." "The character of a wise man," says Confucius, "consists in three things: to do himself what he tells others to do; to act on no occasion contrary to justice; and to bear with the weaknesses of those around him. Treat inferiors as if you might one day be in the hands of a master." "I recollect," says Saadi, "the verse which the elephant-driver rehearsed on the banks of the river Nile: 'If you are ignorant of the state of the ant under your foot, know[Pg 373] that it resembles your own condition under the foot of the elephant.'" The stable of Confucius being burned down, when he was at court, on his return he said, "Has any man been hurt?" He did not ask about the horses. Of the death of Sir Roger de Coverley, his butler (Addison himself) wrote to The Spectator: "I am afraid he caught his death the last county-sessions, where he would go to see justice done to a poor widow woman, and her fatherless children, that had been wronged by a neighboring gentleman; for you know, sir, my good master was always the poor man's friend." Fénelon had a habit of bringing into his palace the wretched inhabitants of the country, whom the war had driven from their homes, and taking care of them, and feeding them at his own table. Seeing one day that one of these peasants eat nothing, he asked him the reason of his abstinence. "Alas! my lord," said the poor man, "in making my escape from my cottage, I had not time to bring off my cow, which was the support of my family. The enemy will drive her away, and I shall never find another so good." Fénelon, availing himself of his privilege of safe-conduct, immediately set out, accompanied by a servant, and drove the cow back himself to the peasant. A literary man, whose library was destroyed by fire, has been deservedly admired for saying, "I should have profited but little by my books, if they had not taught me how to bear the loss of them." The remark of Fénelon, who lost his in a similar way, is still more simple and touching. "I would much rather they were burnt than the cottage of a poor peasant." Lord Peterborough said of Fénelon, "He was a delicious creature. I was obliged to get away from him, or he would have made me pious." The influence of such a character brings to mind another passage from Saadi. "One day," he says, "as I was in the bath, a friend of mine put into my hand a piece of scented clay. I took it, and said to it, 'Art thou of heaven or earth? for I am[Pg 374] charmed with thy delightful scent.' It answered, 'I was a despicable piece of clay; but I was some time in company of the rose: the sweet quality of my companion was communicated to me; otherwise I should have remained only what I appear to be, a bit of earth.'"

"If thou canst not make thyself such an one as thou wouldst," quoting the Imitation of Christ, "how canst thou expect to have another in all things to thy liking? We would willingly have others perfect, and yet we amend not our own faults. We would have others severely corrected, and will not be corrected ourselves. The large liberty of others displeaseth us; and yet we will not have our own desires denied us. We will have others kept under by strict laws; but in no sort will ourselves be restrained. And thus it appeareth how seldom we weigh our neighbor in the same balance with ourselves." Recalling the apologue from Phædrus, paraphrased by Bulwer:—

"From our necks, when life's journey begins,
Two sacks, Jove, the Father, suspends,
The one holds our own proper sins,
The other the sins of our friends:
"The first, Man immediately throws
Out of sight, out of mind, at his back;
The last is so under his nose,
He sees every grain in the sack."

Addison, in one of the papers of The Spectator, enlarges upon the thought of Socrates, that if all the misfortunes of mankind were cast into a public stock, in order to be equally distributed among the whole species, those who now think themselves the most unhappy would prefer the share they are already possessed of before that which would fall to them by such a division—by imagining a proclamation made by Jupiter, that every mortal should bring in his griefs and calamities, and throw them in a heap. There was a large plain appointed for this[Pg 375] purpose. He took his stand in the centre of it, and saw the whole human species marching one after another, and throwing down their several loads, which immediately grew up into a prodigious mountain, that seemed to rise above the clouds. He observed one bringing in a bundle very carefully concealed under an old embroidered cloak, which, upon his throwing into the heap, he discovered to be poverty. Another, after a great deal of puffing, threw down his luggage, which, upon examining, he found to be his wife. He saw multitudes of old women throw down their wrinkles, and several young ones strip themselves of their tawny skins. There were very great heaps of red noses, large lips, and rusty teeth,—in truth, he was surprised to see the greatest part of the mountain made up of bodily deformities. Observing one advancing toward the heap with a larger cargo than ordinary upon his back, he found upon his near approach that it was only a natural hump, which he disposed of with great joy of heart among the collection of human miseries. But what most surprised him of all was that there was not a single vice or folly thrown in the whole heap; at which he was very much astonished, having concluded with himself that every one would take this opportunity of getting rid of his passions, prejudices, and frailties.

"Passions, prejudices, and frailties!" "There is no man so good," says Montaigne, "who, were he to submit all his thoughts and actions to the laws, would not deserve hanging ten times in his life. [Talleyrand, when Rulhière said he had been guilty of only one wickedness in his life, asked, "When will it end?"] We are so far from being good men, according to the laws of God, that we cannot be so according to our own; human wisdom never yet arrived at the duty that it had itself prescribed; and could it arrive there, it would still prescribe itself others beyond it, to which it would ever aspire and pretend; so great an enemy of consistency is our human condition."[Pg 376] Of prejudice it has been truly said by Basil Montagu, in a note to one of his publications, that "it has the singular ability of accommodating itself to all the possible varieties of the human mind. Some passions and vices are but thinly scattered among mankind, and find only here and there a fitness of reception. But prejudice, like the spider, makes everywhere its home. It has neither taste nor choice of place, and all that it requires is room. There is scarcely a situation, except fire and water, in which a spider will not live. So let the mind be as naked as the walls of an empty and forsaken tenement, gloomy as a dungeon, or ornamented with the richest abilities of thinking; let it be hot, cold, dark or light, lonely or inhabited, still prejudice, if undisturbed, will fill it with cobwebs, and live, like the spider, where there seems nothing to live on. If the one prepares her food by poisoning it to her palate and her use, the other does the same; and as several of our passions are strongly characterized by the animal world, prejudice may be denominated the spider of the mind." "We are all frail, but do thou esteem none more frail than thyself." "Those many that need pity," says Jeremy Taylor, "and those infinities of people that refuse to pity, are miserable upon a several charge, but yet they almost make up all mankind."

"Lord, what is man—what the best of men—but man at the best!" exclaimed the impassioned and pious Whitefield.

"Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Though they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving why they do it:
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.
"Who made the heart, 'tis He alone
[Pg 377] Decidedly can try us,
He knows each chord—its various tone,
Each spring—its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted."

It is said that when Leonardo da Vinci had finished his celebrated picture of the Last Supper, he introduced a friend to inspect the work privately, and give his judgment concerning it. "Exquisite!" exclaimed his friend; "that wine-cup seems to stand out from the table as solid, glittering silver." Thereupon the artist took a brush and blotted out the cup, saying, "I meant that the figure of Christ should first and mainly attract the observer's eye, and whatever diverts attention from him must be blotted out." Could we poor mortals just as readily blot out of our lives whatever diverts attention from the real good that is in us, how differently would we appear to others.

"Artists," says Hawthorne, "are fond of painting their own portraits; and in Florence, there is a gallery of hundreds of them, including the most illustrious, in all of which there are autobiographical characteristics, so to speak; traits, expressions, loftinesses, and amenities, which would have been invisible had they not been painted from within. Yet their reality and truth are none the less."

A good woman, who had bred a large family, and led a long life of devotion and self-sacrifice—worn out by care, and weary of her burdens—came at length to what was supposed to be her death-bed. A clergyman in the neighborhood thought it to be his duty to call upon her. He asked her in usual language if she had made her peace with her Maker; to which she replied that she was not aware that there had been any trouble.

"The most important thing in life," said Pascal, "is the choice of a profession; and yet this is a thing purely in the disposal of chance." We, however, take little or[Pg 378] no account of the effects of particular professions or occupations upon the mind and character, holding all alike responsible for opinions and conduct. It does not occur to us as possible that even suicide and murder may primarily result from vocation. Rösch and Esquirol affirm from observation that indigo-dyers become melancholy; and those who dye scarlet, choleric.

Cottle, the bookseller, wrote with a pencil some lines on the wall of the room in Bristol, Newgate, where poor Savage died, which were admired by Coleridge. These are two of them:—

"If some virtues in thy breast there be,
Ask if they sprang from circumstance or thee."

So much, alas, must be known to judge of a human life. Could we only know that we cannot know enough to judge one another, to say nothing of the indispensable wisdom that surpasses all knowledge. Happily, God is Judge.

Knowledge, in the common sense, as commonly acquired, what is it?

Some need much time to know a little; others know at a glance all that they can. Cumberland said Bubb Doddington was in nothing more remarkable than in ready perspicuity and discernment of a subject thrown before him on a sudden. "Take his first thoughts then, and he would charm you; give him time to ponder and refine, you would perceive the spirit of his sentiments and the vigor of his genius evaporate by the process; for though his first view of the question would be a wide one, and clear withal, when he came to exercise the subtlety of his disquisitional powers upon it, he would so ingeniously dissect and break it into fractions, that as an object, when looked upon too intently for a length of time, grows misty and confused, so would the question under his discussion when the humor took him to be hypercritical." Coleridge said Horne Tooke "had that clearness which[Pg 379] is founded on shallowness. He doubted nothing, and therefore gave you all that he himself knew, or meant, with great completeness." Thucydides said of Themistocles that "he had the best judgment in actual circumstances, and he formed his judgment with the least deliberation." Quick or deliberate, shallow or profound, all are apt to assume to know all, when they may be little wiser, in truth, than Æsop's two travelers who had visited Arabia, and were conversing together about the chameleon. "A very singular animal," said one, "I never saw one at all like it in my life. It has the head of a fish, its body is as thin as that of a lizard, its pace is slow, its color blue." "Stop there," said the other, "you are quite mistaken, the animal is green; I saw it with my two eyes." "I saw it as well as you," cried the first, "and I am certain that it is blue." "I am positive that it is green." "And I that it is blue." The travelers were getting very angry with each other, and were about to settle the disputed point by blows, when happily a third person arrived. "Well, gentlemen, what is the matter here? Calm yourselves, I pray you." "Will you be the judge of our quarrel?" "Yes; what is it?" "This person maintains that the chameleon is green, while I say that it is blue." "My dear sirs, you are both in the wrong; the animal is neither one nor the other—it is black." "Black! you must be jesting!" "Not at all, I assure you; I have one with me in a box, and you shall judge for yourselves." The box was produced and opened, when, to the surprise of all three, the animal was as yellow as gold! In one of the Hindoo books we are told that in a certain country there existed a village of the blind men. These men had heard that there was an amazing animal called the elephant, but they knew not how to form an idea of his shape. One day an elephant happened to pass through the place; the villagers crowded to the spot where this animal was standing.[Pg 380] One of them got hold of his trunk, another seized his ear, another his tail, another one of his legs, etc. After thus trying to gratify their curiosity, they returned into the village, and, sitting down together, they began to give their ideas of what the elephant was like; the man who had seized his trunk said he thought the elephant was like the body of the plantain-tree; the man who had felt his ear said he thought he was like the fan with which the Hindoos clean the rice; the man who had felt his tail said he thought he must be like a snake, and the man who had seized his leg thought he must be like a pillar. An old blind man of some judgment was present, who was greatly perplexed how to reconcile these jarring notions respecting the form of the elephant, but he at length said, "You have all been to examine this animal, it is true, and what you report cannot be false. I suppose, therefore, that that which was like the plantain-tree must be his trunk; that which was like a fan must be his ear; that which was like a snake must be his tail, and that which was like a pillar must be his body." Once upon a time a pastor of a village church adopted a plan to interest the members of his flock in the study of the Bible. It was this: "At the Wednesday evening meeting he would announce the topic to be discussed on the ensuing week, thus giving a week for preparation. One evening the subject was St. Paul. After the preliminary devotional exercises, the pastor called upon one of the deacons to 'speak to the question.' He immediately arose, and began to describe the personal appearance of the great apostle to the Gentiles. He said St. Paul was a tall, rather spare man, with black hair and eyes, dark complexion, bilious temperament, etc. His picture of Paul was a faithful portrait of himself. He sat down, and another prominent member arose and said, 'I think the brother preceding me has read the Scriptures to little purpose if his description of St. Paul is a sample of his[Pg 381] Bible knowledge. St. Paul was, as I understand it, a rather short, thick-set man, with sandy hair, gray eyes, florid complexion, and a nervous, sanguine temperament,' giving, like his predecessor, an accurate picture of himself. He was followed by another who had a keen sense of the ludicrous, and who was withal an inveterate stammerer. He said, 'My bro-bro-brethren, I have never fo-found in my Bi-ble much about the p-per-personal ap-pe-pearance of St. P-p-paul. But one thing is clearly established, and tha-that is, St. P-p-paul had an imp-p-pediment in his speech.'"

"Having lived long," said Dr. Franklin, "I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but I found to be otherwise. It is, therefore, that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men, indeed, as well as most sects in religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that whenever others differ from them, it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant, in a dedication tells the pope that 'the only difference between our two churches, in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Romish Church is infallible, and the Church of England never in the wrong.' But, though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain French lady who, in a little dispute with her sister, said, 'I don't know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that is always in the right.'" "I could never," says Sir Thomas Browne, "divide myself from any man upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his judgment for not agreeing with me in that from which, perhaps, within a few days, I should dissent myself." "Whoever shall call to memory how many and many times he has been mistaken[Pg 382] in his own judgment," says the great French essayist, "is he not a great fool if he does not ever after distrust it?" "Beware," said John Wesley, "of forming a hasty judgment. There are secrets which few but God are acquainted with. Some years since I told a gentleman, 'Sir, I am afraid you are covetous.' He asked me, 'What is the reason of your fears?' I answered, 'A year ago, when I made a collection for the expense of repairing the Foundry, you subscribed five guineas. At the subscription made this year you subscribed only half a guinea.' He made no reply; but after a time asked, 'Pray, sir, answer me a question. Why do you live upon potatoes?' (I did so between three and four years.) I replied, 'It has much conduced to my health.' He answered, 'I believe it has. But did you not do it likewise to save money?' I said, 'I did, for what I save from my own meat will feed another that else would have none.' 'But, sir,' said he, 'if this be your motive, you may save much more. I know a man that goes to the market at the beginning of each week. There he buys a pennyworth of parsnips, which he boils in a large quantity of water. The parsnips serve him for food, and the water for drink, the ensuing week, so his meat and drink together cost him only a penny a week.' This he constantly did, though he had then two hundred pounds a year, to pay the debts which he had contracted before he knew God! And this was he I had set down for a covetous man." "We shall have two wonders in heaven," said the wise and gentle Tillotson; "the one, how many come to be absent whom we expected to find there; the other, how many are there whom we had no hope of meeting." There is significance in the epitaph by Steele, in The Spectator: "Here lieth R. C., in expectation of the last day. What sort of a man he was that day will discover."

It would seem that, as things are, there is nothing so natural as intolerance; and it is not to be wondered at[Pg 383] that the language to express toleration should be of modern invention. Coleridge was of opinion "that toleration was impossible till indifference made it worthless." Dr. King had a different view; he said, "The opinion of any one in this world, except the wise and good, who do not aspire to be even tolerant,—who are too modest to be tolerant, since toleration implies superiority,—is of little consequence." Hunt said of Lamb, that "he had felt, thought, and suffered so much, that he literally had intolerance for nothing." Palgrave, in his Travels through Central and Eastern Arabia, relates of Abd-el-Lateef, a Wahabee, that one day seeing a corpulent Hindoo, he exclaimed, "What a log for hell-fire!" This follower of Mahomet had not only the intolerance, but the conceit of super-excellence that the poor sectarian followers of Christ too often have. When he was preaching one day to the people of Riad, he recounted the tradition according to which Mahomet declared that his followers should divide into seventy-three sects, and that seventy-two were destined to hell-fire, and only one to paradise. "And what, O messenger of God, are the signs of that happy sect to which is insured the exclusive possession of paradise?" Whereto Mahomet had replied, "It is those who shall be in all comformable to myself and my companions." "And that," added Abd-el-Lateef, lowering his voice to the deep tone of conviction, "that, by the mercy of God, are we, the people of Riad."

Upon the subject of toleration and charity, read a part of the remarkable dialogue from Arthur Helps' Friends in Council:—

Dunsford.—It is hard to be tolerant of intolerant people; to see how natural their intolerance is, and in fact thoroughly to comprehend it and feel for it. This is the last stage of tolerance, which few men, I suppose, in this world attain.

Midhurst.—Tolerance appears to me an unworked mine....

[Pg 384]

Milverton.—There is one great difficulty to be surmounted; and that is, how to make hard, clear, righteous men, who have not sinned much, have not suffered much, are not afflicted by strong passions, who have not many ties in the world, and who have been easily prosperous,—how to make such men tolerant. Think of this for a moment. For a man who has been rigidly good to be supremely tolerant would require an amount of insight which seems to belong only to the greatest genius. I have often fancied that the main scheme of the world is to create tenderness in man; and I have a notion that the outer world would change if man were to acquire more of this tenderness. You see at present he is obliged to be kept down by urgent wants of all kinds, or he would otherwise have more time and thought to devote to cruelty and discord. If he could live in a better world, I mean in a world where nature was more propitious, I believe he would have such a world. And in some mysterious way, I suspect that nature is constrained to adapt herself to the main impress of the character of the average beings in the world.

Ellesmere.—These are very extraordinary thoughts.

Dunsford.—They are not far from Christianity.

Milverton.—You must admit, Ellesmere, that Christianity has never been tried. I do not ask you to canvass doctrinal and controversial matters. But take the leading precepts; read the Sermon on the Mount, and see if it is the least like the doctrines of modern life.

Dunsford.—I cannot help thinking, when you are all talking of tolerance, why you do not use the better word, of which we hear something in Scripture,—charity.

Milverton.—If I were a clergyman, there is much that I should dislike to have to say (being a man of very dubious mind); there is much also that I should dislike to have to read; but I should feel that it was a great day for me when I had to read out that short but most abounding[Pg 385] chapter from St. Paul on charity. The more you study that chapter, the more profound you find it. The way that the apostle begins is most remarkable; and I doubt if it has been often duly considered. We think much of knowledge in our own times; but consider what the early Christian must have thought of one who possessed the gift of tongues or the gift of prophecy. Think also what the early Christian must have thought of the man who possessed "all faith." Then listen to St. Paul's summing up of these great gifts in comparison with charity. Dunsford, will you give us the words? You remember them, I dare say.

Dunsford.—(1 Cor. ch. xiii.) "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."

Milverton.—You will let me proceed, I know, if it is only to hear more from Dunsford of that chapter. I have said that the early Christian would have thought much of the man who possessed the gift of tongues, of prophecy, of faith. But how he must have venerated the rich man who entered into his little community, and gave up all his goods to the poor! Again, how the early Christian must have regarded with longing admiration the first martyrs for his creed! Then hear what St. Paul says of this outward charity, and of this martyrdom, when compared with this infinitely more difficult charity of the soul and martyrdom of the temper. Dunsford will proceed with the chapter.

Dunsford.—"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

Milverton.—Pray go on, Dunsford.

[Pg 386]

Dunsford.—"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

"Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

"Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

"Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."

Milverton.—That is surely one of the most beautiful things that has ever been written by man. It does not do to talk much after it.

Channing closes his Essay upon the Means of Promoting Christianity with this remarkable passage: "If, in this age of societies, we should think it wise to recommend another institution for the propagation of Christianity, it would be one the members of which should be pledged to assist and animate one another in living according to the Sermon on the Mount. How far such a measure would be effectual we venture not to predict; but of one thing we are sure, that, should it prosper, it would do more for spreading the gospel than all other associations which are now receiving the patronage of the Christian world."

At the White House, on an occasion I shall never forget, said a visitor, the conversation turned upon religious subjects, and Lincoln made this impressive remark: "I have never united myself to any church, because I have found difficulty in giving my assent, without mental reservation, to the long, complicated statements of Christian doctrine which characterize their articles of belief and confessions of faith. When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership," he continued, "the Saviour's condensed statement of the substance of both law and gospel, Thou shalt love[Pg 387] the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself, that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul."

"You may remember," says Farrar, in his Silence and Voices of God, "how, in the old legend, St. Brendan, in his northward voyage, saw a man sitting upon an iceberg, and with horror recognized him as the traitor Judas Iscariot; and the traitor told him how, at Christmas time, amid the drench of the burning lake, an angel had touched his arm, and bidden him for one hour to cool his agony on an iceberg in the Arctic sea; and when he asked the cause of this mercy, bade him recognize in him a leper to whom in Joppa streets he had given a cloak to shelter him from the wind; and how for that one kind deed this respite was allotted him. Let us reject the ghastly side of the legend, and accept its truth. Yes, charity,—love to God as shown in love to man—is better than all burnt-offering and sacrifice." "In thy face," said the dying Bunsen to the wife of his heart, bending over him, "in thy face have I seen the Eternal."

When Abraham, according to another old legend, sat at his tent door, as was his custom, waiting to entertain strangers, he espied coming toward him an old man, stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and travail, who was a hundred years of age. He received him kindly, washed his feet, provided supper, caused him to sit down; but observing that the old man eat, and prayed not, nor begged for blessing on his meat, he asked him why he did not worship the God of heaven. The old man told him that he worshiped the fire only, and acknowledged no other God. At which answer Abraham grew so zealously angry that he thrust the old man out of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the night and an unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and asked him where the stranger was. He replied, "I thrust him away because he did[Pg 388] not worship Thee." God answered him, "I have suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonored me; and couldst not thou endure him one night?"

"Ah! poor things that we are. We are all sore with many bruises and wounds. The marvel is that our own tenderness does not make us tender to all others."

"He shall be immortal who liveth till he be stoned by one without fault."

"I saw in Rome, once, Anstiss," said Hope, "an old coin,—a silver denarius,—all coated and crusted with green and purple rust. I called it rust; but Aleck told me it was copper; the alloy thrown out from the silver, until there was none left. Within, it was all pure. It takes ages to do it; but it does get done. Souls are like that, Anstiss. Something moves in them, slowly, till the debasement is all thrown out. Sometime, the very varnish shall be taken off."

"Day by day I think I read more plain,
This crowning truth, that, spite of sin and pain,
No life that God has given is lived in vain;
But each poor, weak, and sin-polluted soul
Shall struggle free at last, and reach its goal,—
A perfect part of God's great perfect whole."

[Pg 389]


Abernethy, a timid lecturer, 255.

Abd-el-Lateef, anecdote of, 383.

Addison, on living and dressing according to the rules of common sense, 64;
his care in composition, 127;
reputed portrait of, 189;
his belief in ghosts, 243;
his marriage, 246;
enlarges on a thought of Socrates, 374.

Advice, on asking and giving, 104.

Æschines, of Pericles and Aspasia, 41.

Æsop, fable of the travelers and the chameleon, 379.

Agassiz, had no time to make money, 139.

Aikenhead, hanged for free religious opinions, 362.

Alfieri, how he composed, 126.

Alfred, King of Denmark, story of, 165.

Alger, public opinion the atmosphere of society, 7;
most men live blindly, 23;
ruins, and what they symbolize, 216;
on the blindness or Homer, Milton, Galileo, and Händel, 228;
on the happiness of solitude, 342;
his account of the hermit of Grub Street, 343;
the forest of statues on the roof of Milan cathedral, 354;
the scholar's pantheon at the top of his mind, 354.

Amyot, his poverty and success, 125.

Anaxagoras, a request made by, 216;
whom he believed to be most happy, 346.

Andersen, advice to, 148.

Anecdote of a singer and his wife in Leipsic, 316;
of a hypochondriacal comedian, 323.

Angelo, Michel, confesses his ignorance, 29;
on reforming mankind, 93;
anecdote of, 168;
and Raphael, 171;
a gem once worn on the finger of, 178;
and the Reformation, 252;
the statues of, 303;
and Bramante, 303;
of Donatello's statue, 325;
a saying of his commending moderation, 348.

Annals of the Parish, why rejected, 148.

Anson, Lord, different opinions of, 189.

Appleseed, Johnny, character and career of, 112.

Apelles and Protogenes, 171.

Apuleius, a curious fact relating to, 249.

Arago, his claim for ancient Egypt, 181.

Arbuthnot, Pope, and Gay, fate of a joint play of, 255.

Archimedes, the tomb of, 215.

Arctic morality, 102.

Arctic region, small proportion of fuel used in the, 241;
effect of frost in the, 301.

Arethusa, Fountain of, 302.

Aristotle, on proverbs, 159;
logic known before, 182;
fate of, 223.

Arnold, Matthew, moral rules for the sage only, 369.

Artist, an, in serpents, 300.

Aspasia and Pericles, 41.

Atterbury, Bishop, what he said of Newton, 107.

Augereau, at the coronation of Napoleon, 110.

Augustine, St., and the idea of Fourierism, 182;
subtleties on the question, What then is time? 339;
on a happy life, 340;
a passage from his Confessions, 354.

Auld Lang Syne, 204.

Auld Robin Gray, its authorship a secret for fifty years, 254.

Aurelius, Marcus, tolerant and good to all but Christians, 33;
his idea of free government, 185;
his doubtful wife and bad son, 247;
what he learnt from his tutor, 347;
a lofty thought of, on the sacredness of life, 355.

Babinet, his opinion of a submarine telegraph, 267.

Bacon, on nature reviving—Æsop's damsel, 48;
of policy and craft, 65.

Bailly, story told of, 167.

Balzac, his care in composition, 128.

Barbauld, Mrs., passage from, 296;
lines by, 356.

Barère, views and conduct early and late in life, 104.

Barry, Michael J., some lines by, 120.

Barton, Bernard, his surprise at a funeral, 156.

Bathurst, Lord, and the Essay on Man, 249.

Baxter, a believer in witchcraft, 250;
his views at the end of life, 268;
the result, after a trial of worldly things, 326.

Bayle, on Pericles and Aspasia, 41;
on the spirit of party, 61;
on Machiavelli's Prince, 233;
[Pg 390]the purity of, 245.

Beattie, Dr., of a witty parson, 43.

Beaumarchais, adaptations of Tarare, 221.

Becket, Thomas à, story of the mother of, 212.

Beckford, and his romance, Vathek, 252.

Bentivoglio, misfortunes of, 262.

Béranger, refuses a legacy, 141.

Berkeley, Bishop, on being master of one's time, 136.

Bernis, Cardinal, and Madame de Pompadour, 268.

Betterton, a borrower from Steele, 169.

Beyle, Henri, a laborious writer, 125.

Beza, one of his invectives, 45;
his coarse, amorous poems, 268.

Bible, the, in literature, 161;
a reference to, 241.

Billingsgate, fish-woman of, 28.

Blackwood's Magazine on diversity, 5;
on the inevitable and irremediable, 91;
on public opinion, 361;
on the adoring principle in human nature, 368.

Blake, William, artist, genius, mystic, madman, 281.

Blessington, Lady, relating to Moore, 140.

Boileau, an unwearied corrector, 126;
relating to Molière, 149.

Bolingbroke to Swift, 214.

Books never published, 194.

Boots with pointed toes believed to be the cause of the plague, 203.

Borghese, Paulo, poverty of, 261.

Borghese, Princess, anecdote of, 311.

Bossuet, confesses his insignificance, 30;
appearance of his manuscript, 129.

Boswell, and intellectual chemistry, 42;
on being reckoned wise, 168;
the bulwark of Johnson's fame, 190;
Johnson's pretended contempt of, 243.

Boyle, effect of falling water upon, 244.

Brackenridge, distrust of moderation natural, 296.

Brahe, Tycho, and the idiot Lep, 228;
his terror of a hare or fox, 244.

Brain, insensibility of the, 242.

Bramah, origin of the idea of his lock, 181.

Brewster, Sir David, and the story of the falling apple, 175;
on Galileo's abjuration, 223.

Brontë, Charlotte, a painstaking writer, 126;
life and genius of, 276, 277, 278.

Brougham, how he composed one of his speeches, 132;
a curious fact of, 254.

Brown, John, utterances and incidents of, 113;
and the old engine-house, 264;
and the governor of Virginia, 264;
a daughter of, 265;
one of his trusted men, 265.

Brown, Tom, a remark of, 121.

Browne, Sir Thomas, on self-love, 14;
confesses his ignorance, 31;
on a neglect of the great, 151;
on maxims that will never be out of date, 159;
his faith in witchcraft, 224;
a lofty thought of, on the immortality of life, 355;
on usurping the gates of heaven, 366;
his distrust of his own judgment, 381.

Bruce, and the story of the spider, 165;
death of, 260.

Brunel, a remark of, relating to Pompey's Pillar, 181.

Brunelleschi, and the story of the egg, 166.

Buffon, his manner of composing, 128.

Bülow, effects of his stopping practice, 130.

Bulwer, on truth, 4;
anecdote of Kean, 13;
relating to Calvin and Torquemada, 46;
his description of a superior man, 68;
on the English language, 158;
on the language of Spain, 158;
on La Rochefoucauld, 234;
of Descartes, 238;
looking from the window of his club, 338;
paraphrase from Phædrus, 374.

Bunsen, dying exclamation of, 387.

Bunyan, wrote Pilgrim's Progress in prison, 135.

Burke, no great fire without great heat, 46;
a remark of on idleness, 122;
how he worried his printer, 132;
at Beaconsfield, 154;
his tribute to John Howard, 231;
his great care as a writer, 249;
his style in youth and old age, 254.

Burnet, Bishop, his estimate of Newton, 107;
on Lord Rochester, 236.

Burns, characterizes woman, 3;
remarks of and by, 123;
his poverty and pride, 137;
advised to imitate Mrs. John Hunter, 145;
confidence in his own powers, 150;
tribute of Hawthorne to, 153;
the Scotsman's religion, 174;
a complaint of himself, 244;
pronounced incapable of music, 263;
on sensibility, 314;
his constitutional melancholy, 315;
lines by, 344;
his gospel of charity, 376.

Burton, naught so sweet as melancholy, naught so damned as melancholy, 314;
on content and true happiness, 325.

Butler, misery of, 315.

Byron, some lines by, 150;
criticises mythology, 187;
a peculiarity of, 244.

Cæsar, Augustus, his fear of thunder, 244.

Cæsar, Julius, the corpse of, 222;
ambition of, criticised by Pascal, 353.

Cagliostro, Lavater duped by, 258.

Calamities sometimes blessings, 226.

Caligula and his horse, 99.

Caliph, memorial of an illustrious, 333.

Callcott, his picture of Milton and his daughter, 175.

Calvin, occasional violence of, 45.

Camoëns, poverty of, 134, 261.

Campbell, his difficulty in finding a bookseller, 133;
Scott and Hohenlinden, 150;
and Prof. Wilson, 268.

[Pg 391]Candide's supper at Venice with the six kings, 333.

Canova exhibiting his paintings, 261.

Canute, the story of, 166.

Captain of Virginia militia, exclamation of, 119.

Carlyle, legend of Moses and the Dead Sea people, 49;
on the effects of custom, 64;
fastidiousness as a writer, 130;
his opinion of a hero, 232;
compares men to sheep, 295.

Cashmere shawls, 180.

Castelar, a republican's opinion of Rome, 307;
on the unhappiness of life, 337;
pleads for universal toleration, 361.

Cato, how he was estimated by contemporaries, 144;
learned Greek after he was seventy, 267.

Cecil, sorrowed in the bright lustre of a court, 334.

Cervantes, poverty of, 134;
planned and commenced Don Quixote in prison, 135;
a curious fact of, 191;
his wretchedness and melancholy, 315.

Chalmers, as to certain of his compositions, 254;
and the views of Malthus, 263.

Change, anecdotes and facts illustrating, 9, 10, 11.

Channing, on establishing a new society, 386.

Chapman, Jonathan, known as Johnny Appleseed, 112.

Charlemagne, a story of the daughter of, 165.

Charles I., a story told of, 167.

Charles II., his criticism of Sir Matthew Hale, 3;
touching for the evil, 224;
and Cromwell, 304;
and Wycherley, 304;
the name given him by one who knew him, 304;
manner of his death, 304;
character of, drawn by Macaulay, 306.

Charles XII., of Sweden, anecdote of, 167.

Charity, Christian, a story illustrating, 357.

Chaulnes, Duke de, and Johnson, 370.

Chaumette, devoted to an aviary, 99.

Cheops, ring of, 178.

Chesterfield, a remark on, 190;
speeches of, written by Johnson, 248.

Chillingworth, at last confident of nothing, 258.

China, scarcity of labor in, 240.

Chinese rebuke of Christians, 101.

Chrysippus, of misers, 72.

Cicero, of the man and his eggs, 6;
his experience at a watering-place, 16;
how laboriously he prepared his speeches, 131;
the diminutive copy of the Iliad he saw, 178;
on universal brotherhood, 185;
hunting the tomb of Archimedes, 215;
timidity of, 262.

Clairvoyance, very old, 183.

Coal, a man executed for burning it, 202.

Cobbe, Frances Power, on the Christian movement, 370.

Cobbett, revisits the scenes of his boyhood, 220.

Cockburn, Lord, anecdote of Dr. Henry, 80.

Coleridge, one just flogging he received, 21;
horrified by the exclamation of a boy, 22;
some devil and some god in man, 42;
anecdote of a dignified man, 69;
on doing good, 93;
of traders in philanthropy, 97;
project of pantisocracy, 102;
fears he has caught the itch, 103;
gained little by his writings, 133;
what he thought a sufficient income, 138;
of Goethe, 147;
intellect of, 151;
comparison of Shakespeare with Milton, 152;
on Shakespeare and Homer, 152;
at York minster, 196;
a remark of, in one of his lectures, 200;
and John Chester, 211;
curious facts relating to, 250;
and the House that Jack built, 268;
on certain smells, 302;
his summing up of life, 336;
remark on Horne Tooke, 378;
remark on toleration, 383.

Columbus, and the egg, 166;
fact relating to, 259.

Commodus, tolerant to Christians, 247.

Common sense defined, 7.

Communist, a, defined, 105.

Conciergerie, flirting and love-making in the, 35.

Confucius, describes the conduct of the superior man, 23;
his joy in frugality, 136;
and the Golden Rule, 185;
anecdote of, 373.

Congreve, what the one wise man knew, 32.

Conscience, 22.

Corey, Giles, pressed to death, 60.

Corneille, his poverty, 134;
what Napoleon said of him, 153;
tiresome in conversation, 260.

Cornwall, Barry, his fear of the sea, 251.

Correggio, no portrait of, 262.

Corwin, Thomas, anecdote of, 168.

Cottle, Joseph, relating to Coleridge, 22;
of Coleridge at York minster, 196;
lines by, admired by Coleridge, 378.

Couthon, devoted to a spaniel, 99.

Cowley, a curious fact of, 245.

Cowper, his poems and their publisher, 192;
his mental malady, 226;
the ballad of John Gilpin, 227;
the poor school-master, Teedon, 228;
his attempt at suicide, 246;
his giggling with Thurlow, 246;
the sanest of English poets, 254;
fancied himself hated by his Creator, 259;
a melancholy confession of, 317.

Crabbe, wrote and burned three novels, 259.

Credulity, 20, 224.

Creed, in the biliary duct, 8;
referred to in the rebuke of a clergyman, 20.

Crichton, curious achievement of, 264.

Cromwell, his distrust of popular applause, 298;
and Charles II., 304;
[Pg 392]and Milton, 304;
how estimated when flattery was mute, 304;
manner of his death, 304.

Crowne, John, reading by lightning, 46.

Cumberland, and Sheridan, 9;
describes Soame Jenyns, 236;
Goldsmith and his comedy, 270;
the dinner at the Shakespeare tavern, 271;
predicament of an artist in serpents, 300;
a reflection on old age, 332;
on a man gifted with worldly qualities, 350;
remark on Bubb Doddington, 378.

Curing public evils, 25.

Curiosity, 17, 32.

Curran, contest with the fish-woman, 28;
remark to Phillips about his speeches, 249;
melancholy nature of, 314.

Curtis, George William, castles in Spain, 327.

Cushman, Charlotte, anecdote related by, 35.

Custom, doth make cowards of us all, 64.

Daguerre, his discovery anticipated, 181.

Damascus blades of the Crusades, 180.

Dante, a story told of, 170;
the prodigal and the avaricious together, 302.

D'Arblay, Madame, and Mrs. Barbauld's stanza on Life, 356.

Darwin, cattle in East Falkland Island, 10;
earthquake at Talcahuano, 17;
a curious fox on the island of San Pedro, 18;
conduct of the Fuegians, 27;
petrified trees on the Andes, 108;
conduct of the New Zealand chief, 211;
the three years' drought in Buenos Ayres, 222;
sound and silence in the forest of Brazil, 301.

D'Alembert, declines the favors of royalty, 141.

De Coverley, Sir Roger, cause of the death of, 373.

De Foe, rules from the Complete English Tradesman, 86.

De l'Isle and the Marseillaise, 205, 248.

Della Valle, conduct of the women at Goa, 34;
his own strange conduct, 35.

Demetrius, and his father, 166;
a story told of, 167.

Democritus, thought to be a madman, 144.

Demosthenes, gloried in the smell of the lamp, 131;
timidity of, 262.

Denham, curious facts relating to, 235;
anecdote of, 235.

De Quincey, no thought without blemish, 90;
his estimate of Goethe, 146;
of Milton, 152.

Descartes, modesty of, 238.

De Retz, statement of, 234.

Desert, painful silence of the, 301.

De Staël, Madame, criticism of Godwin, 98;
and Madame Récamier, 172;
Talleyrand's reply to, 187;
Napoleon's hatred of, 253;
mourns the solitude of life, 335.

De Tocqueville, character of the French, 40;
remark of an old lady to, 75;
story told to by Rulhière, 77;
on old age, 333;
some wise observations on life, 341.

Devil, the Reformation and the, 204;
the priest and the, 204.

Dickens, his care in composition, 128.

Digby, an illustration from, 11.

Dignity, assumed, described, and satirized, 67, 68, 69, 70.

Diminutive writing and printing, 178.

Diogenes, banished for counterfeiting, 260.

Dionysius, story of, 166.

Disraeli, Isaac, his sketch of Audley, 73;
anecdote of, 138;
on proverbs, 159;
on men of genius, 232.

Disraeli, Benjamin, on the limits of human reason, 62.

Diversity, 4, 5.

Doddington, Bubb, characterized by Cumberland, 378.

Doing good, Lamb on, 89;
difficulty of, 93;
remark of Coleridge, 93;
passages from Thoreau, 93.

Domitian, amused himself catching flies, 263.

Drake, and the origin of the Culprit Fay, 193.

Drummond, the sonorous laugher, 271.

Dryden, criticises the judges of his day, 3;
anecdote relating to, 154;
a curious fact of, 255.

Duchâtel, his poverty and renown, 125.

Dunbar, neglect of the poems of, 199.

Dutch Ambassador and the King of Siam, 101.

Dyer, George, his experience while usher, 88;
an associate of Lamb's, 284;
his biography of Robinson, 284;
his absent-mindedness, 284;
anecdotes of, 285, 286.

Eckermann, describes a scene on the Simplon, 350.

Edwards, Jonathan, effect of his work on Original Sin, 56;
curious fact relating to, 266.

Egypt, hospitals for cats in, 99;
ventilation in the pyramids of, 181;
the railroad dates back to, 181;
social questions discussed to rags in, 181.

Eldon, Lord, an anecdote he was fond of relating, 76;
a remark in old age, 104;
and Bessy Surtees, 246;
his daughter's elopement, 246;
a curious experience of, at Oxford, 246.

Elizabeth, Queen, a curious fact of, 245.

Elliot, Sir Gilbert, passion necessary to revolution, 46.

Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer, defines a communist, 105.

Eloquence, a rude specimen of, 313.

Emerson, a man like a bit of Labrador spar, 3;
the soul not twin-born, 5;
life a series of surprises, 24;
[Pg 393]confesses his ignorance, 32;
on the good of evil, 40;
few spontaneous actions, 64;
on reforming, 90;
is virtue piecemeal? 93;
of one that would help himself and others, 105;
the martyrdom of John Brown, 119;
advantages of riches not with the heir, 121;
personal independence, 138;
of Shakespeare, 153;
of the theory and practice of life, 240;
the plant papyrus, 241;
relating to Columbus, 259;
the difference between the wise and the unwise, 354;
effects of an acceptance of the sentiment of love, 359.

Epictetus, on forgiving injuries, 185.

Epicurus, his name a synonym for sensuality, 261;
his moderation, 349.

Erasmus, on self-love, 12;
two natures in Luther, 47;
of the Colloquies of, 193;
effect of the smell of fish upon, 244;
and Luther, 308;
what he said of Luther, 309.

Erskine, a severe corrector, 132.

Essay on Man, curious statement relating to, 249.

Esquirol, effects of occupation, 378.

Euclid, stereoscope known to, 181.

Evelyn, observation on Jeffreys, 189;
his argument against solitude, 244.

Evil, ceremony of touching for the, 224.

Extremes, law of, 295;
meeting of in morals and legislation, 304.

Fairy's funeral, description of a, 293.

Falstaff, dress to represent, 69.

Faraday, curious fact relating to, 253.

Farrar, legend of St. Brendan and Judas Iscariot, 387;
of the purification of souls, 388.

Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius, 247.

Fénelon, and the publication of Telemachus, 193;
on a violent zeal that we must correct, 363;
anecdotes of, 373.

Fielding, a curious fact relating to, 191;
and Richardson, 199;
on our faults, and the difficulty of amending them, 338.

Fittleworth, rector of, how he lost his living, 37.

Fitzherbert and Townshend, 211.

Flaxman, of the Graces and the Furies, 10;
determines the sex of a statue, 187;
strange fact of the wife of, 226.

Foote, how he took off the Dublin printer, 78;
a story of, 164;
a remark on the death of, 265.

Forster, relating to Goldsmith, 156.

Foster, record of a reflective aged man, 7;
analysis of an atheist, 19;
story of the devil turned preacher, 43;
on self-idolizing dreamers, 91;
care in composition, 129;
tribute to John Howard, 229;
on a violation of the laws of goodness, 240;
origin of his essays, 246.

Fournier, devoted to a squirrel, 99.

Fox, fastidious in composition, 126.

Francis, Sir Philip, and Junius, 257.

Franklin, Dr., his advice to the three sages, 367;
doubted his own judgment as he grew older, 381.

Frederick the Great, a story told of, 167;
and Robespierre, 238.

Frederick William, canes a Jew in a street of Berlin, 51.

Froissart, of a reverend monk, 48.

Froude, terrible story related by, 57;
human things and icebergs, 109;
a reflection of, applied to John Brown, 119;
of fortune and rank, 121;
prosperity consistent with worldliness, 349;
the Scots a happy people, 350;
on putting to death for a speculative theological opinion, 363;
how the laity should treat the controversial divines, 367.

Fuller, Margaret, on Goethe, 105;
few great, few able to appreciate greatness, 143.

Fuller, Thomas, statement relating to Rabelais, 190;
curious fact relating to Wolsey, 224;
the Holy Ghost came down not in the shape of a vulture, 359;
he shall be immortal who liveth till he be stoned by one without fault, 388.

Fuseli, a habit of in sketching, 2.

Gainsborough, a remark on painting and engraving, 198.

Galileo, ceremony of abjuration, 223;
blindness of, 228.

Galt, an observation by, 110;
Annals of the Parish, 148.

Garrick, variety of his countenance, 10;
a story of his acting, 78;
the public grew tired of admiring him, 297.

Gaskell, account of the death of a cock-fighting squire, 38;
anecdote of Grimshaw, 55.

Gay, Pope, and Arbuthnot, fate of a joint play of, 255.

Gems, imitations of, 177;
cabinet of in Italy, 178.

Genius, our obligations to, 161.

Geoffrin, Madame, and Rulhière, 170.

Gertrud bird, 79.

Giardini, of playing the violin, 130.

Gibbon, his fastidiousness as a writer, 125;
review of the series of Byzantine emperors, 219.

Gladstone, interesting reply of, 263.

Glass in Pompeii, 177.

Godwin, Madame de Staël's criticism of, 98;
a good husband and kind father, 255;
and Rough, 311.

Goethe, confesses his ignorance, 29;
reason can never be popular, 62;
anecdote of Merck and the grand duke, 89;
to know how cherries and strawberries taste, 90;
a fortunate mistake of, 92;
nature, 103;
giving advice, 104;
aristocracy and democracy, 104;
the world cannot keep quiet, 109;
his works commercially, 133;
objections to luxurious furniture, 137;
[Pg 394]of Dante's great poem, 147;
advised against writing Faust, 148;
genius of Shakespeare, 152;
influence of Voltaire, 153;
a staff officer's opinion of, 155;
first impression of Switzerland, 195;
critical remark of, 198;
on a peculiarity of Schiller, 244;
disparaged himself as a poet, 261;
pleasant dreams after falling asleep in tears, 318;
compares life to a residence at a watering-place, 332;
the simplicity of the world, 347;
arrogance natural to youth, 352;
remark of at the age of seventy-five, 355;
truth and error, 361;
of a Christianity of feeling and action, 366.

Goldsmith, of the vanity of human judgment, 24;
ten years composing the Traveller, 129;
to Bob Bryanton, 135;
proud reply to Hawkins, 139;
reply to Dr. Scott, 139;
criticises Waller, Pope, and Milton, 145;
opinion of Tristram Shandy, 147;
his street ballads, 156;
a saying of credited to Talleyrand, 172;
relations with Bott, the barrister, 200;
friendship and jealousy, 240;
as a talker and as a writer, 244;
Goody Two Shoes, 268;
at the British Coffee House, 270;
first acting of She Stoops to Conquer, 270;
conduct during, 271.

Goodness tainted, 94.

Gordianus, epitaph of, 263.

Grammont, Count, on Sir John Denham, 235.

Gray, twenty years touching up his Elegy, 126;
criticises Thomson and Akenside, 145;
diffidence and fastidiousness of, 238;
his Elegy not intended for the public, 258.

Greene, Peele, and Marlowe, 249.

Grimaldi, devouring melancholy of, 315.

Groenvelt, Dr., persecution of, 201.

Guérin, Eugénie de, her story of the poor shepherdess, 345.

Guérin, Maurice de, on a solitary life, 342.

Guido, and the portrait of Beatrice Cenci, 313.

Guizot, declines a title, 141.

Hadrian's villa, 217.

Hale, Sir Matthew, criticised by Charles II., 3;
unpublished writings of, 194;
trials before for witchcraft, 224;
influenced by Jeffreys, 247.

Hall, Robert, sought relief in Dante, 267.

Hallam, his opinion of Hooker, 225.

Hammond, Elton, 278.

Händel, blindness of, 228;
his hallelujahs open the heavens, 229.

Harrington, imprisonment of, 135;
man a religious creature, 368.

Harvey, effects of his discovery, 147, 301.

Hawthorne, on men who surrender themselves to an overruling power, 97;
on special reformers, 98;
distinction between a philanthropic man and a philanthropist, 113;
Byron and Burns, 153;
of the Scarlet Letter, 188;
statement relating to the Mayflower, 241;
of artists who have painted their own portraits, 377.

Haydn, a story told of, 175.

Hayward, passages from, 164, 165, 174.

Hazlitt, his violence at times, 36;
legend of a Brahman turned into a monkey, 48;
of two pictures by Northcote, 190;
of Coleridge and John Chester, 211;
the poet Gray, 238;
every man an exception, 240;
strange facts about, 263;
opinion of Mary Lamb, 267;
of Garrick, 297;
wanting one thing, he wanted everything, 325;
on aiming at too much, 337;
on keeping in our own walk in life, 347;
life, at the beginning and the end, 352.

Heart, insensibility of the, 242.

Heine, pleads for the negro king, 27;
of Luther, 47;
when he would forgive his enemies, 53;
tribute to Goethe, 153;
ignorance of doctors, 208;
of the leper-poet, 318;
a paralytic, 320;
fame nauseous to, 331.

Helps, Arthur, the nature of man, 33;
you never know enough about a man to condemn him, 39;
the art of life, 341;
dialogue on toleration and charity, 383.

Helvetius, of the passions, 46;
advice to Montesquieu, 148.

Henderson, faculty of getting words by heart, 125.

Henry VI. of France, a story of, 171.

Henry, Patrick, his last speech, 264.

Hercules, a diminutive figure of, 178.

Herder, advice to Goethe, 148.

Herrick, a painstaking elaborator, 129.

Hiero, questions Simonides, 31, 348.

Hildebrand, Pope, fate of, 223.

Hill, Dr., and Hannah Glass, 268.

Hillard, on Hadrian's villa, 217.

History and fiction, 164.

Hogarth, relating to the sale of certain pictures, 192;
his estimate of Reynolds, 198;
impressions as to his true vocation, 258.

Hogg, his neighbors thought him no poet, 145.

Holbein, German engraving in the manner of, 326.

Hood, origin of the Song of the Shirt, 149;
what delighted him, 155;
a victim of distress and melancholy, 321;
anecdotes of, 321;
lines on his dead child, 322;
passages from letters to little children, 322, 323.

Hook, attempt of Southey to hoax, 200.

Hooker, circumstances of his marriage, 224;
character of, by Izaak Walton, 225.

Home, Sweet Home, 205.

Homer, called a plagiarist, 144;
[Pg 395]effect of his character and genius, 162.

Horace, a laborious writer, 125;
passage from, 302.

Howard, John, humanity of, 229;
and solitary confinement, 260.

Howe, John, his method of conducting public fasts, 37.

Huber, François, blindness of, 259.

Human things compared to icebergs, 109.

Humboldt, credits the Chinese with magnetic carriages, 181.

Hume, his care in composition, 126;
his history slow of sale at first, 133;
advice to Robertson, 148.

Humility illustrated by the rain-drop, 344.

Hunt, Leigh, tribute to Händel, 228;
on pseudo-Christianity, 364;
remark on Lamb, 383.

Hyacinthe, the church of the future, 366.

Hypocrite, profession of, 71.

Ice, curious facts relating to, 210.

Iceland, the best building in, 241.

Icicles, formation of, 209.

Ideas, the few great, remain about the same, 157.

Ignorance, 17, 18, 19, 20, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 240, 352.

Incledon, stories of Garrick and Foote, 77.

Indian cazique, story of, 101.

Intellectual chemistry, 42.

Invective, a primitive Quaker's, 44.

Ireland, baptisms in, 37.

Irving, on the habit of criticising government, 25;
small returns from his writings, 133;
an observation on Goldsmith, 187;
modesty and diffidence of, 239;
called a vagabond by a neighbor, 239;
stealing his own apples, 239;
of elaborating humor, 316;
circumstances under which he composed the History of New York, 319.

Isocrates, timidity of, 262.

Jameson, Mrs., a story related by, 172.

Java, flowers, fruits, and trees of, 301.

Jeffreys, portrait and conduct of, 189;
influence over Sir Matthew Hale, 247.

Jenner, persecution of, 202.

Jenyns, described by Cumberland, 236.

Jerome, St., legend of St. John recorded by, 359.

Jerrold, Douglas, his dislike of the theatre behind the scenes, 1;
of the practical benevolence of a London tradesman, 81;
ambitious to write a treatise on philosophy, 261;
the Caudle Lectures, 316.

Jews, curious persecution of the, 203.

Joan of Arc, Shakespeare's and Schiller's, 174.

Johnson, reply to Boswell as to the indecency of a statue, 1;
his opinion of remarks by Orrery and Delany on Swift, 2;
his hatred of baby-talk, 50;
a remark on marriage, 62;
opinion of feeling people, 98;
opinion of levelers, 105;
Life of, at first slow of sale, 133;
Cumberland on, 142;
how he was once made happy, 143;
opinion of Milton's sonnets, 146;
criticises Swift, Gray, and Sterne, 146;
opinion of Lycidas, 147;
a neglect of the great, 151;
of Shakespeare, 152;
Dr. Campbell's estimate of, 153;
remark to Mrs. Macaulay, 168;
version of Pope's Messiah, 176;
reviewer's remark on, 190;
painter's confession to, 199;
of Demosthenes Taylor, 212;
tribute to Savage, 236;
poverty and companionships of, 243;
belief in ghosts, 243;
a peculiarity of, 244;
a famous speech of Pitt, 248;
speeches of Chesterfield, 248;
collected sermons, 248;
a number of the Rambler, 248;
Ramblers written rapidly, 248;
confidence in Psalmanazar, 250;
bigotry of, 257;
learned Dutch after he was seventy, 267;
first acting of Goldsmith's comedy, 270;
melancholy of, 316;
of Pope and his writings, 317;
of Young and his writings, 317;
of the Christian religion, 370.

Jones, Paul, and Thomson's Seasons, 261.

Joubert, a thought of, 1;
his habit as a writer, 127.

Journalism, impersonal, 241.

Judkins, Juke, reminiscences of, 81.

Junius, warns the king, 298.

Jupiter and Cupid, 296;
imaginary proclamation by, 374.

Kane, Dr., curious experience with the Esquimaux, 102;
of frost in the Arctic region, 301.

Kant, a curious fact of, 251.

Kean, Edmund, wretchedness of his early life, 124;
how he studied and slaved, 131.

Kemble, John, reply to Northcote, 15;
as to his new readings of Hamlet, 131.

Kempis, Thomas à, of simplicity and purity, 345;
of charity and humility, 372;
of amending our own faults, 374.

King, Dr., on toleration, 383.

Kinglake, care in the composition of Eothen, 128.

Kingsley, Charles, of his father, 151.

Kneller, Sir Godfrey, remark to a sitter, 13.

Knives and forks, ridiculed by Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher, 202.

Knowledge reserved, 240.

Kotzebue, relating to, 257.

Labor, life's blessing, 121.

La Bruyère, of judging men, 2;
of diversity, 6;
some thoughts of, 24;
on the mixture of good and evil, 73;
eloquent passage of, 219.

[Pg 396]La Fontaine, always copying and recopying, 126;
dull and stupid in conversation, 260.

Lais, the courtezan, saying of, 41.

Lamartine, a strange statement relating to, 256.

Lamb, remark on covetousness, 73;
dissection of meanness, 81;
anecdote of George Dyer, 88;
doing good by stealth, 89;
story of an India-house clerk, 100;
care in composition, 127;
anecdote of, 134;
criticises Faust, 146;
tribute to Manning, 150;
essay on the Origin of Roast Pig, 169;
could spit upon Howard's statue, 260;
first acting of Mr. H., 272;
hopeful letter to Manning, 273;
hisses his own bantling, 274;
another letter to Manning, not so hopeful, 275;
poor Elia, 275;
constitutional melancholy of, 316.

Lamb, Mary, Hazlitt's estimate of, 267.

Landor, eyes of critics on one side, 4;
of Shakespeare and Milton, 152;
of Cromwell and Milton, 152;
of the estimation of the great by their contemporaries, 153;
of Swift, Addison, Rabelais, La Fontaine and Pascal, 315;
of Aspasia and Pericles, 347;
the falsehood of life, 364;
of looking down on ourselves, 372.

Lansdowne, phrenologist's judgment of, 188.

Lardner, curious facts of, 266.

La Rochefoucauld, his Maxims criticised by Sterling, 2;
reference to his Maxims, 12;
care in composition, 129;
an unselfish, brave, humane man, 234.

Last Rose of Summer, 204.

Latimer, Tenterden-Steeple and Goodwin Sands, 18.

Laud, cruelty of, 363.

Lavater, judgment of Lord Anson, 189;
duped by Cagliostro, 258.

Lay, Benjamin, an enthusiast, anecdote of, 367.

Layard, nature breaking out in a party of Arabs, 48;
engravings on Nineveh, 178;
lens found in Nineveh, 181;
tradition of Nimrod and the gnat, 302.

Lecky, witchcraft in England, 56;
opinion of Hooker, 225;
great and multiform influences of Christian philanthropy, 372.

Legends and parables:
a Brahman turned into a monkey, 49;
Moses and the dwellers by the Dead Sea, 49;
the redbreast, and how it was singed, 55;
the man in the moon, 79;
man and woman in the moon, 79;
Gertrud bird, the woodpecker, 79;
the Wandering Jew, 80;
the Brahman and the three rogues, 296;
Og, a king of Bashan, 298;
Nimrod and the gnat, 302;
Gabriel and the idol-worshiper, 346;
St. John in the arms of his disciples, 359;
blind men and the elephant, 379;
St. Brendan and Judas Iscariot, 387;
Abraham and the old man who worshiped the fire only, 388.

Leighton, a clergyman, persecution of, 363.

Le Notre and Louis XIV., 167.

Le Sage, poverty of, 134.

Leslie, anecdote of Owen and Wilberforce, 92.

Lessing, the restless instinct for truth, 32.

Levelers, remark of Johnson on, 105.

Life, every year of a wise man's, 8;
a series of surprises, 24;
knowledge of, 353;
beginning and end of, 353;
stanza on, 356.

Lilli Burlero, ballad of, 204.

Lilliput, the mighty emperor of, 28.

Lincoln, his dislike of being preached to, 94;
how he earned his first dollar, 122;
idea the slaves had of him, 314;
the reason he gave for not uniting himself to any church, 386.

Linnæus, curious facts relating to, 235.

Liston, a confirmed hypochondriac, 315.

Livingstone, exclamation of Sekwebu at seeing the sea, 19;
tribe of good Africans, 102.

Livy, on curing public evils, 26.

Llandaff, Bishop of, anecdote of, 121.

Lloyd, his remedy for madness, 267.

Locke, of the king of Siam, 101.

Lockhart, wrote the first of the Noctes papers, 255.

Longfellow, lines from Hiawatha, 299.

Lovelace and Suckling, 266.

Lowell, definition of common sense, 7;
Montaigne and Shakespeare, 12;
witchcraft, 61.

Lucian, a pretty passage in one of his dialogues, 296.

Lucretius, his one poem, 125.

Luther, a violent saint sometimes, 45;
what Heine said of him, 47;
what he said of himself, 47;
and the devil, 204;
believed in ghosts, 243;
relations with Erasmus, 308;
opinion of Erasmus, 309;
with Melancthon in the pulpit, 310.

Mabillon, a genius by an accident, 226.

Macaulay, conduct of a nephew of, 25;
a laborious writer, 129;
Machiavelli, 233;
Byron, 298;
times of Cromwell and Charles II., 304, 305, 306;
ethics of Charles II.;
hanging of Aikenhead, 362.

Machiavelli, of judging by appearances, 71;
a zealous republican, 233;
curious facts relating to, 233.

Mackenzie, Henry, his advice to Burns, 145;
a hard-headed, practical man, 255.

Mackenzie, Sir George, an advocate of solitude, 244.

Mahagam, ruins of, 222.

Mahomet, turns a misfortune to advantage, 66.

Maintenon, Madame de, to her niece, 336.

Maistre, Xavier de, on self-love, 12;
[Pg 397]of people fancying themselves ill, 76.

Malherbe, how he composed 126;
anecdotes of, 126.

Mallet, a curious fact relating to, 256.

Man, like a certain statue, 2;
like a bit of Labrador spar, 3;
a noble animal, 3;
his own chiefest flatterer, 13;
most apt to believe what he least understands, 17;
lives blindly, 23;
tries to pass for more than he is, 27;
a terrible Voltaic pile, 33;
some devil and some God in him, 42;
who succeeds, 46;
a curious object for microscopic study, 63;
a natural reformer, 90;
persuadability of, 103;
when he is powerful, 105;
the fittest place where he can die, 120;
when he becomes conscious of a higher self, 355;
naturally religious, 368.

Mandeville, an observation by, 346.

Man-mending, mania of, 103.

Marat, kept doves, 99.

Marlborough, avarice of, 264;
meanness of, 264.

Marlowe, Peele, and Greene, 249.

Marseillaise, origin of the, 205.

Marvell, pride and independence of, 139.

Mather, Cotton, epithets he applied to the Quakers, 44;
account of the trial of Mary Johnson for witchcraft, 58;
the panic he created in New England, 60.

Mathews, curious anecdote by, 207.

Mayflower, a slave-ship, 241.

Meanness, a study and an analysis of, 81.

Medhurst, Chinese opinions of Christians reported by, 101.

Melancthon, approved of the burning of Servetus, 258;
with Luther in the pulpit, 310.

Melmoth, on thinking authors, 158.

Menander, proverb from, quoted by St. Paul, 160.

Mencius, on the disease of men, 95.

Merck, and the Grand Duke, 89.

Mercury and Jove, 92.

Mesmerism, very old, 183.

Meyer, curious fact related by, 302.

Michelet, his horror of the sea, 252.

Middleton, stories of Cicero, 16, 215.

Migne, Abbé, curious cruelties referred to by, 99.

Milan cathedral, 196.

Mill, curious omission of, 266.

Miller, strange fact relating to, 267.

Mills of God, 107.

Milton, his care in composition, 126;
and Paradise Lost, 147;
De Quincey's estimate of, 152;
of lyric and epic poets, 348.

Mirabeau, ugliness and attractiveness of, 259;
his distrust of popular applause, 297.

Miser, characterized by Colton, 72;
a saying of Foote, 72;
effect of his hoarding habits illustrated, 73;
an observation of Lamb, 73.

Misfortunes never come singly, 299.

Molière, on the profession of hypocrite, 71;
his slowness as a writer, 127;
used one of his servants as critic, 149;
a grave and silent man, 316.

Money-getter analyzed, 71, 72.

Monod, of the conduct of certain missionaries, 56.

Montagu, Basil, prejudice, the spider of the mind, 376.

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, of the Duchess of Marlborough, 34;
her criticism of women, 34;
obloquy she endured, 201.

Montaigne, difference in opinions, 5;
of laws and events, 6;
action of seeing outward, 12;
a pattern within ourselves, 22;
the virtue of the soul, 23;
curing public evils, 25;
conduct of lecturers in the courts of philosophy, 41;
nature starting up, 47;
how estimated by his neighbors, 154;
faith in physicians, 208;
the fairest lives, in his opinion, 346;
the thoughts and actions of man, 375;
on distrusting our own judgments, 382.

Montespan, Madame de, to Madame de Maintenon, 34;
rigorous devotion of, 268.

Montesquieu, a laborious writer, 125.

Moore, the lady and the second volume of the Life of Byron, by, 54;
seventy lines a week's work for, 128;
pride and independence of, 140;
story of the jeweled lady, 165;
trick of Father Prout at the expense of, 176;
of Scott and Waverley, 191;
and the opera of Tarare, 221;
and Lalla Rookh, 251;
of the authorship of the Junius letters, 257;
statement relating to Sheridan, 267.

More, Hannah, her opinion of Milton's sonnets, 146.

More, Sir Thomas, a fierce persecutor, 245;

Morris, Robert, imprisoned for debt, 256.

Mosheim, a sentence from an old album, 347.

Mother Goose's Melodies, 206.

Motley, effects of the gout of Charles V., 8;
Luther when angry, 47;
Radbod and Bishop Wolfran, 100;
the Netherlands, 107;
long live the beggars! 110;
Erasmus and Luther, 308.

Mozart, declaration of, 30;
his estimate of Händel, 228.

Müller, Max, of children's fables, 160;
when a man becomes conscious of a higher self, 355;
of Christianity, 370.

Nanac, the holy, and the Moslem priest, 368.

Napoleon, what he said of Corneille, 153;
a thing that puzzled him, 170;
and Madame de Staël, 253;
his fondness for Ossian, 261;
[Pg 398]remark to Bourienne, 297.

Nature, goes her own way, 103.

Neander, and Plutarch's Pedagogue, 265.

Nero, sensitive to poetry and music, 33.

Netherlands, the, Motley's description of, 107.

Newton, Sir Isaac, confesses his ignorance, 30;
his character illustrated, 105, 106, 107;
neglected as a lecturer, 133;
the story of the falling apple, 176;
a poor accountant, 263;
as a poet, 264.

Newton, John, to the woman in prison, 55.

Nicholls, a sensual clergyman, 43.

Nimrod and the gnat, 302.

Nollekens and the widow, 9.

Norris, John, self-love, 13;
our passions, 47.

Northcote, and the pedantic coxcomb, 1;
blaming himself to Kemble, 15;
of two of his pictures, 190;
of the conceited painter in the Sistine Chapel, 197.

Olaf's mode of converting Eyvind, 52.

Old Hundred, 204.

Old Oaken Bucket, 248.

Opinions, no two alike, 5;
human, the history of, 7;
bundles of contradictions, 8;
of the same men at different times, 8.

Orrery, Lord, story of Swift, 170.

Owen, Robert, reply to Wilberforce,
on putting off the happiness of mankind, 92.

Oyster-eating, first act of, 169.

Paley, what he thought of Tristram Shandy, 147.

Palgrave, anecdotes of Abd-el-Lateef, 383.

Panis, devoted to pheasants, 99.

Pantisocracy, Coleridge's Utopia, 102.

Paracelsus, persecution of, 201.

Paradise and Paris, 308.

Paradise Lost, slow sale of, 133.

Park, Mungo, and the sable chief, 27.

Pascal, of vanity, 13;
on our love of wearing disguises, 66;
maxims of conduct, 159;
twenty days perfecting one letter, 126;
vanity of the world, 240;
Solomon and Job on human misery, 337;
the present never the mark of our designs, 339;
a great advantage of rank, 353;
remark on the ambition of Cæsar, 353;
the two extremities of knowledge, 354;
maxims and first principles subject to revolution, 360;
the choice of a profession, 377.

Paul, St., effects of his preaching at Ephesus, 362.

Paul, Jean, a curious fact about sheep, 296;
his comic romance, Nicholas Margraf, 318.

Paul and Virginia, pronounced a failure, 148;
origin of an English translation of, 248.

Payne, and Home, Sweet Home, 205.

Peele, Greene, and Marlowe, 249.

Penn, a curious statement relating to, 257.

Pepys, his opinion of Hudibras, 146;
the poor widow in Holland, 325.

Pericles and Aspasia, 41.

Persian, passage from the, 344.

Persius, chastity and modesty of, 261.

Peruvian bark, an invention of the devil, 201.

Peterborough, of Fénelon, 373.

Petrarch, his sonnets, 190;
despised Dante, 199;
a curious fact of, 253;
an exclamation of, 355.

Petrified trees in the Andes, 108.

Phædrus, apologue of the two sacks, 374.

Phidias, his reported service to Pericles, 41;
his sitting statue of Jupiter, 261.

Philanthropic man, a, not a philanthropist, 113.

Philanthropists, malicious, anecdotes of, 96, 97.

Philanthropy, traders in, wrong in head or heart, 97.

Philip III. and Don Quixote, 314.

Phillips, Wendell, on borrowing in literature, 162;
on the lost arts, 177;
curious statements relating to, 237.

Philosophy, molecular, 6.

Pitt, authorship of a famous speech of, 248.

Plague, curious superstitions as to the cause of the, 203.

Plato, evidence of great care in the composition of his Republic, 125;
accused of envy, lying, etc., 144;
timidity of, 262.

Playfair, a strange fact of, 258.

Plays of the stage and of literature, 207.

Pliny, opinion of the Christian religion, 266;
questions nature, 337;
a custom of the Thracians, 339.

Plutarch, of self-love, 13;
without a biography, 262;
strange omission of, 265;
learned Latin after he was seventy, 267;
on the universality of religion, 368.

Poe, of God and the soul, 32;
and the Swedenborgians, 188;
the grand duke of Weimar's criticism of the Raven, 317;
lines by, 329;
what he thought a strong argument for the religion of Christ, 359.

Pompadour, Madame de, and Cardinal Bernis, 268;
her life an improbable romance, 336.

Pompey, career and end of, 222.

Pontifical army, soldiers of the, 241.

Pope, of every year of a wise man's life, 8;
opinion of Newton, 107;
an unwearied corrector, 126;
tradition of at Twickenham, 154;
anecdote of, 168;
Johnson's Latin version of his Messiah, 176;
and Gay and Arbuthnot, fate of a joint play of, 255;
[Pg 399]timidity of, 262.

Poussin, reply to a person of rank, 121;
story told of, 175;
reply to Cardinal Mancini, 349.

Poverty, fine horror of, 73;
and parts, 121;
necessary to success 121;
amusing evidence of, 124.

Prayer, the, said to have been in use by the Jews
for four thousand years, 185.

Preaching, remarks of Thoreau on, 94;
Lincoln's horror of being preached to, 94;
virtue takes no pupils, 95.

Presbyterian Holdenough and Episcopalian Rochecliffe, 366.

Prescott, of the Aztec priests, 33;
a statement of, 240.

Procter, of Lamb's tragedy, 272.

Protogenes, and Apelles, 171.

Prout, Father, and Moore, 176.

Psalmanazar and Johnson, 250.

Public opinion, 71, 361.

Publius Syrus, sayings of, 48, 158, 226.

Puritanism in New England, 36.

Pyramids, story of the erection of one of them, 253.

Pythagoras, a curious statement relating to, 250.

Rabelais, a strange fact relating to, 190;
knew Rome, 308.

Racine and Louis XIV., 134.

Radbod, at the baptismal font, 100;
declines the Christian's heaven, 100.

Radcliffe, Mrs., an interesting fact of, 255.

Railroads and rain, 209.

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 135.

Randolph, John, his first public speech, 264.

Raphael, story of and Michel Angelo, 171;
his Transfiguration, 197.

Rawlinson, the stone he brought from Nineveh, 179.

Récamier, Madame, and Madame de Staël, 172;
sits and muses on the shore of the ocean, 336.

Reformers, stories of, 96, 97.

Reign of Terror, incident during the, 40.

Religion, a subject proscribed in general society, 242;
if charity were made the principle of it instead of faith, 357;
two religions, the religion of amity and the religion of enmity, 365.

Renous and his caterpillars, 267.

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, story related of, 174;
his colors fading, 179;
inquires in the Vatican for the works of Raphael, 197;
critical remark of, 197;
and Hogarth, 197;
his portrait of Bott, alongside of Goldsmith, 200.

Richard Cœur de Lion and Saladin, 180.

Richardson, man's resemblance to a statue made to stand against a wall, 2.

Right, too rigid, hardens into wrong, 96.

Robertson, F. W., from his sermon on the Tongue, 365.

Robertson, advised against writing his history of Charles V., 148.

Robespierre, defends Franklin's lightning-rods, 203;
and Frederick, 238;
what was found in his desk, 256;
Madame Roland to, 298.

Robinson, Henry Crabb, his partiality for the Book of Revelation, 20;
how he reconciled himself to his ignorance, 29;
rebuke of spiritual pride, 52;
the Mahometan's heaven and the Christian's hell, 55;
his opinion of Edwards' Original Sin, 56;
Jeffrey's portrait, 189;
at the Fountain of Arethusa, 302.

Robinson, Robert, remark of relating to the Trinity, 20;
Dyer's biography of, 284.

Rochester, Lord, the last year of the life of, 236.

Rodgers, Judge, the dying Scotsman's tribute to Burns, 174.

Rogers, his care in composition, 129;
his proposition to Wordsworth, 137;
remark on Sydney Smith, 151;
anecdote of relating to Dryden, 154;
amusing incident of, 155;
pretty story of a little girl, 359.

Roland, Madame, to Robespierre, 298.

Rollo, Duke of Normandy, story told of, 165.

Roman emperor, curious use of the marble head of a, 302.

Romanianus, with only a name, 262.

Rome, a bitter republican's opinion of, 307.

Rösch, on effects of occupation on the mind, 378.

Rough and Godwin, 311.

Rousseau, a saying of, 103;
and Voltaire, 198;
cause of his cynicism, 245;
a painstaking writer, 248;
fancied himself the object of all men's hatred, 259;
his preaching and his practice, 268.

Rubens, a complaint of, 30.

Rulhière, story of a Russian friend of, 77;
and Madame Geoffrin, 170;
guilty of only one wickedness, 375.

Ruskin to his students, 179.

Russell, Lord John, his definition of a proverb, 159.

Rutherford, Samuel, and Archbishop Usher, 357.

Saadi, the traveler and the bag of pearls, 122;
description of a drink, 184;
verse of the elephant-driver, 372;
reply of the piece of scented clay, 373;
Abraham and the old man who worshiped the fire only, 387.

Sachs, of earth and heaven, 325.

Sainte-Beuve, fastidiousness as a writer, 126.

Saint Simon, story of two sisters, 34;
of the dying duchess, 75.

Saladin and Richard Cœur de Lion, 180.

[Pg 400]Sanson, the hereditary executioner, 259.

Saurin, advice to Montesquieu, 148.

Savage, corrects a lady's judgment of Thomson, 188;
tribute of Johnson to, 236;
with Johnson all night in London streets, 243.

Saxe, Marshal, his terror of a cat, 244.

Scaliger, his opinion of Montaigne, 147;
a peculiarity of, 244;
difficulty in communicating his knowledge, 258.

Scaramouche, snuff of a thousand flowers, 300.

Scargill, of the English, Scotch and Irish, 302.

Scarron, wretchedness of, 320.

Schedone, of a painting by, 326.

Schiller, Indian Death Song, 147;
Joan of Arc, Don Carlos, and Tell, 174;
the scent of rotten apples a necessity to, 244;
a curious fact relating to, 251.

Scott, story of a placid minister near Dundee, 50;
how estimated by his neighbors, 144;
failure of Waverley predicted, 148;
Campbell and Hohenlinden, 150;
Burns and the mouse, 150;
meeting of Richard and Saladin, 180;
how he discovered his talents, 191;
the authorship of Old Mortality, 201;
never saw Melrose Abbey by moonlight, 251;
remarkable industry of, 266;
a sad bit of self-portraiture, 317;
a strange fact relating to the Bride of Lammermoor, 318.

Scott, General, a sculptor's story of, 173.

Seeing, limits to, 12;
action of seeing outward, 12.

Selden, a remark on marriage, 240.

Selwyn, his reply on being charged with a want of feeling, 53;
of vices becoming necessities, 65.

Seneca, an usurer with seven millions, 245;
a maxim of, 349.

Shakespeare, Johnson's tribute to, 152.

Sharp, on the difficulty of doing good, 22.

Shelley, sighs to Leigh Hunt, 357.

Shenstone, splendid misery of, 246.

Sheridan, sarcasm upon Cumberland, 8;
fastidiousness as a writer, 127;
how he elaborated his wit, 129;
a curious fact of, 267.

Sherlock, consolation for the shortness of life, 332.

Siddons, Mrs., confesses her ignorance, 30.

Sidney, Algernon, remark of Evelyn relating to, 189.

Silenus, of Jove and Mercury, 92.

Simonides, replies to Hiero, 31, 348;
fable of the crab and the snake, 364.

Small-pox, goddess of, worshiped and burned in China, 36.

Smith, Adam, a laborious writer, 129.

Smith, Sydney, how he was cured of shyness, 15;
his objection to Scotch philosophers, 93;
advice to the Bishop of New Zealand, 99;
the Suckling Act, 103;
remark to his brother, 169;
a phrenologist pronounces him a great naturalist, 188;
authorship of the Plymley Letters, 201;
resorted to Dante for solace, 267;
on getting human beings together who ought to be together, 341.

Smollett and his dependents, 199;
private character of, 245.

Socrates, reply to Menon, 6;
the hardest of all trades, 25;
called illiterate, 144;
to his judges, 174;
idolatry of, 243;
timidity of, 262;
a poor accountant, 263;
learned music after he was seventy, 267;
enlargement of a thought of, 374.

Solomon, there is no new thing, 186;
his wicked son, 247;
what he said of laughter, 314.

Somerset, duke of, 69.

Sophocles, considered a lunatic, 144.

Soul, purification of the, illustrated by the old coin, 388.

Southey, story of Vergara and the seventh commandment, 17;
to Cottle of the meanness of an Englishman at Lisbon, 88;
not ashamed of his radicalism, 104;
declines the editorship of the Times, 141;
unknown to his neighbors, 145;
on certain famous literary works, 199;
attempt to hoax Hook, 200.

Souvestre, virtue takes no pupils, 95;
philosophizes on the carnival, 299;
the small dwelling joy can live in, 348;
awards the palm to moderation, 348;
rest in an eternal childhood, 353.

Spencer, the religion of amity and the religion of enmity, 365.

Spenser, poverty of, 134;
story told of, 166.

Spinoza, declines a present, 142;
persecuted by the Jews, 254.

Spiritualism, very old, 182.

Stanley, Dean, story of Rutherford and Usher, 357.

Statue, doubtful sex of a, 187.

St. Bartholomew, conduct of ladies at the massacre of, 35.

Steele, one of his Tatlers referred to, 169;
Miss Prue, 246;
castle-builders, 330;
on Christianity, 372;
epitaph by, 382.

Sterling, criticises Rochefoucauld's Maxims, 2;
on seeking perfect virtue, 90;
there will always be errors to mourn over, 91.

Sterne, conscience not a law, 22;
on the affectation of gravity, 70;
an incessant corrector, 129;
the sermon in Tristram Shandy, 192;
the charge of plagiarism against, 259.

Story of the lady and her three lovers, 173.

St. Peter's, first view of, 196.

St. Pierre, and Paul and Virginia, 148.

[Pg 401]Stewart, Dugald, remark of, on Bacon's Essays, 30.

Suckling and Lovelace, 266.

Sue, Eugene, a Jesuitess more to be dreaded than a Jesuit, 3.

Suetonius, of Caligula's horse, 99;
how he regarded Christians, 266.

Sully, story told of, and the veiled lady, 166.

Surrey, Earl of, lines by, 326.

Swift, on men's opinions, 8;
story of and four clergymen in canonicals, 172;
Bolingbroke to, 214;
some thoughts of, 214;
anticipates his death, 214;
to Bolingbroke, 246;
irony and seriousness of, 312;
never known to smile, 315;
just religion enough to make us hate, 364.

Sydenham, poverty of, 135.

Tacitus, his opinion of the Christian religion, 266.

Taine, defines a character, 40;
of Puritanism, 307.

Talfourd, and Lamb's farce of Mr. H., 273;
anecdotes of Dyer, 285, 286.

Talleyrand, his reply to Madame de Staël, 172;
trembled when the word death was pronounced, 244;
his reply to Rulhière, 375.

Tamerlane and the spider, 166.

Tasso, an unwearied corrector, 126;
poverty of, 134;
a curious fact relating to, 247;
cause of his insanity, 247.

Taylor, Demosthenes, Johnson's story of, 212.

Taylor, Jeremy, arguments for humility, 14;
earthen vessels better than golden chalices, 347;
our trouble from within, 349;
the religion of Christ, 371;
those that need pity and those that refuse to pity, 376;
of Abraham and the old man who worshiped the fire only, 387.

Tell, William, relating to, 175.

Temple, Sir William, of the old earl of Norwich, 297;
compares life to wine, 332.

Tennyson, his care in composition, 127.

Tertullian, his mode of dissuading Christians
from frequenting public spectacles, 54;
ideas of justice and mercy in his day, 55.

Thackeray, the world can pry us out, but it don't care, 15;
credulity of the sexes, 20;
our paltry little rods to measure heaven immeasurable, 53;
a reflection on marriage, 62;
of the dying French duchess, 75;
a reflection of, applied to Madame de Pompadour, 336;
toil, the condition of life, 337.

Themistocles, Thucydides' remark on, 379.

Theophrastus, a lament of, 30;
timidity of, 262.

Thompson, George, what he saw in Calcutta, 180.

Thomson, a lady's opinion of, gathered from his writings, 188;
luxurious indolence of, 247.

Thoreau, on doing good, 93;
goodness tainted, 94;
hacking at the branches of evil, 95;
personal independence of, 136.

Threshing-machines, first effect of, 203.

Thucydides, how he toiled on his history, 125;
ignorance bold and knowledge reserved, 240;
a remark on Themistocles, 379.

Thurlow, and his daughter, 247.

Tiberius, life of, with two title-pages, 2.

Tillotson, two wonders in heaven, 382.

Titian, how he painted, 130;
colors of, compared with Reynolds', 179.

Tomochichi, would be taught before he was baptized, 101;
what he thought of the colonists, 101.

Tooke, Horne, how to be powerful, 67;
Beckford's speech, 252;
a remark on, by Coleridge, 378.

Torquemada, and the Inquisition, 46.

Townshend, Charles, and Fitzherbert, 211.

Trench, of the fraud played off on Voltaire, 176.

Truth, as humanity knows it, 4;
the difficulty of finding it, 360;
it must be repeated over and over again, 361;
the infinite number who persecute it, 362.

Tyndall, of the formation of icicles, 209.

Tyrian purple, 179.

Tytler, a remark by, on Raleigh's History, 135.

Value of an epithet, 110.

Vandyck, portrait of a celebrated widow by, 189.

Vanity of human judgment, 24;
of the world, 240.

Vanvenargues, on curing the vices of nature, 91.

Vere, Sir Horace, what caused his death, 121.

Vespasian, a story told of, 167.

Vicar of Wakefield and the peasant, 312.

Vinci, Leonardo da, his conscientiousness as a painter, 130;
anecdote of, 377.

Virgil, his care in composition, 125;
what Pliny and Seneca thought of him, 144.

Virtue, of the soul, 23;
takes no pupils, 95.

Voltaire, the history of human opinions, 7;
upon what the fate of a nation has often depended, 8;
anecdote of, 8;
compares us to a river, 11;
we on this globe like insects in a garden, 18;
confesses his ignorance, 31;
of the story of Newton and the apple, 176;
the forged Veda, 176;
invention of scissors, shirts, and socks, 203;
Candide's supper at Venice with the six kings, 333.

Vondel, poverty of, 134.

Wallenstein, faculties of, improved by a fall, 226.

Waller, a laborious writer, 126;
his opinion of Paradise Lost, 147;
[Pg 402]lines by, 355.

Walpole, Horace, compares man to a butterfly, 19;
man a ridiculous animal, 20;
opinion of the Divina Commedia, 145;
contempt of Johnson and Goldsmith, 145;
criticises Sterne, Sheridan, Spenser, Chaucer, Dante,
Montaigne, Boswell, and Johnson, 146;
and Strawberry Hill, 154;
opinion of Lord Anson, 189;
a curious fact of, 258.

Walton, Izaak, quaint passages from, relating to Hooker, 225;
reply to the discontented man, 344.

Warren, Samuel, how the critics misjudged his first work, 148.

Washington, a story related by, 163;
his remarkable gravity, 246.

Webster, Daniel, wrote and re-wrote his fine passages, 132;
the best talker he ever heard, 246.

Weighing souls in a literal balance, 55.

Wesley, Charles, his son a papist, 254.

Wesley, John, on witchcraft, 59;
and Tomochichi, 101;
his belief in ghosts, 243;
his quiescent turbulence, 261;
his story of a parishioner who lived on boiled parsnips, 382.

White, Gilbert, effect of certain food on a bullfinch, 10;
differences in flocks of sheep, 11;
a strange propensity of cats, 210;
peculiarity of the tortoise, 211.

Whitefield, always improving his discourses, 132;
an exclamation of, 376.

Whipple, on an affectation of dignity, 67;
of the mother of Thomas à Becket, 212.

Wilberforce, and Owen's scheme of reform, 92;
and Wendell Phillips, 237.

Willemson, Richard, martyrdom of, 51.

Wilson, Prof., to the Ettrick Shepherd, 10;
thought to be a madman in Glasgow, 145;
the idea of the Noctes not his, 255;
tête-à-tête with the poet Campbell, 267;
contest for the professorship, 287;
first lecture in the university, 288;
achievements in running, leaping, etc., 289;
encounter with a pugilist, 289;
pedestrian feats, 290;
scene in an Edinburgh street, 291;
interferes at a prize-fight, 292;
describes a fairy's funeral, 293;
his relations with Dr. Blair, 310.

Witchcraft, Sir Matthew Hale's belief in, 57;
Sir Thomas Browne's opinion of, 57;
terrible punishment of, 57;
John Wesley's belief in, 59;
Richard Baxter a believer in, 59;
a passage from Lowell on, 61.

Wither, George, wrote his Shepherd's Hunting in prison, 136.

Wolsey, credulity of, 224.

Woman, characterized by Burns, 3;
reply of a good, 377.

Woodworth and his famous song, 248.

Woolman, John, eulogium upon, and passage from, 370.

Wordsworth, his care in composition, 128;
his reply to Rogers, 137;
Tobin's advice to, 148;
origin of the Ancient Mariner, 149;
thought to be a fool by some of his neighbors, 155;
his defense of the church, and his opinion of the clergy, 257;
his man-servant James, 351;
lines by, 352;
what he said of Mrs. Barbauld's stanza on Life, 356.

World, the, 19;
on reforming it, 90;
it cannot keep quiet, 109.

Wotton, Sir Henry, his reply to a bigot, 372.

Wycherley, on reproving faults, 364.

Ximenes, Cardinal, a story told of, 167.

York minster, not appreciated by Coleridge, 196.

Youatt, differences in flocks of sheep, 11.

Young, Mr., the prototype of Parson Adams, 285.

Young, an incident of Swift, related by, 214;
gayety of, 245.

Young, Dean, passages from his sermons, 366, 372.

Zeal, a violent, that we must correct, 363.

Zenobia, temple of, idealized by La Bruyère, 219