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THE COMPLETE WRITINGS OF 
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 

dEDition De llujce 

WITH PORTRAITS ILLUSTRATIONS 
AND FACSIMILES 

IN SIXTEEN VOLUMES 
VOLUME I 




M^ 



FIRESIDE TRAVELS 



BY 



JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 







CAMBRIDGE 

^princeo at tlje m\imine pre^g 

MCMIV 



COPYRIGHT 1864 AND 1871 BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 

COPYRIGHT 1892 AND 1 899 BY MABEL LOWELL BURNETT 

COPYRIGHT 1904 BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



EDITION LIMITED TO ONE THOUSAND COPIES 
THIS IS NUMBER ........v.c^ 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

THE present edition of the collected 
writings of James Russell Lowell has 
been enriched by the addition of three 
volumes containing his " Letters," edited by- 
Charles Eliot Norton. In these three volumes 
are included many letters hitherto unpublished, 
which have been here inserted by Professor 
Norton in their proper chronological order. In 
one other respect it will be noted that this edi- 
tion varies from the Riverside Edition of 1890: 
namely, in the retention of the original titles 
of the various volumes of prose essays. These 
titles have endeared themselves to many readers 
and have grown familiar through long use. To 
secure a practical uniformity of size through- 
out the edition, however, it has been thought 
advisable, with Professor Norton's approval, to 
transfer to the first volume, " Fireside Travels," 
three of the shorter essays originally printed in 
« My Study Windows." They are " My Gar- 
den Acquaintance," " On a Certain Conde- 
scension in Foreigners," and " A Good Word 
for Winter." 

4 Park Street, 1904. 



CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION xi 

CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO . . i 

A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL .... 69 
LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL IN ITALY AND 

ELSEWHERE 119 

L AT SEA . . . . . . 121 

XL IN THE MEDITERRANEAN . .136 

III. ITALY 144 

IV. A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC . 222 
MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE . . 257 
ON A CERTAIN CONDESCENSION IN FOR- 
EIGNERS 291 

A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER . . . 333 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL Frontispiece 

From a crayon drawing in 1857 by S. W. Rowse, 
in the possession of Professor Charles Eliot Norton 

CAMBRIDGE IN 1824 16 

From a drawing by Charles Copeland 

LITTLE SQUAW AND BIG SQUAW MOUN- 
TAINS 86 

From a photograph by H. W. Gleason 

TIVOLI 154 

From a photograph 

VILLA DI LANTE 252 

From a photograph 

BALTIMORE ORIOLE 266 

From a drawing by L. A. Fuertes 

FRESH SNOW 360 

From a photograph by H. W. Gleason 



INTRODUCTION 

HAWTHORNE makes somewhere the 
observation that the portrayal of the 
external events of an author's life often 
serves to hide the man instead of revealing him. 
The remark has a singular pertinency when 
applied to Hawthorne himself, but it is scarcely 
less true of James Russell Lowell. Full and 
various as was Lowell's intellectual and spiritual 
experience, his life was for the most part barren 
of outward adventure, and to insist too closely 
upon its mere chronology and circumstance is to 
miss the secret of its inner spirit. He was born 
in 1 8 19 in that Old Cambridge which he and 
other men have described so charmingly ; was 
graduated at Harvard College ; soon adopted 
literature as his calling; won a deserved repu- 
tation as a poet ; became professor of modern 
languages at his alma mater, but never lost touch 
with American public life ; was appointed Min- 
ister to Spain and afterwards to Great Britain ; 
wrote prose and poetry to the very end of a life 
rich in friendship and affection and patriotism ; 



xii INTRODUCTION 

and he died in 1891, one of the most honored 
and representative figures in American letters, 
in the homestead where he was born. In one 
sense, that is all there is to say. Lovers of litera- 
ture need not greatly concern themselves with 
the exact dates of publication of Lowell's books, 
or with the precise limits of his service as pro- 
fessor, editor, and diplomat. Such facts are not 
without interest, but too much emphasis upon 
them is likely to hide the real Lowell instead of 
revealing him. 

Yet in issuing this new edition of his col- 
lected works, now rounded out, for the first time, 
by the inclusion of his " Letters," it has been 
thought advisable to provide the reader with 
such easily told facts about Lowell's life and 
literary career as may be essential to an intelli- 
gent enjoyment of his writings. Mr. Horace E. 
Scudder has written Lowell's biography in two 
ample, scholarly volumes ; other men of letters 
have engaged themselves with briefer biograph- 
ical sketches, and there is no danger that the 
reading public will be left ignorant of the career 
of a man of such personal vitality and fascina- 
tion. All that is here attempted, therefore, is to 
set down for convenient reference a few memo- 
randa concerning the outward course of Lowell's 
life, indicating those changes in circumstance and 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

varieties of experience which are reflected in his 
books. *" 

In " Fireside Travels," the first volume of the 
present edition, there is a whimsical and delight- 
ful sketch, written in 1854, entitled " Cambridge 
Thirty Years Ago." It paints the village of 
Lowell's boyhood. In the westernmost of those 
" half dozen dignified old houses of the colonial 
time," on the leisurely winding Tory Row, lived 
his father, the Reverend Charles Lowell, min- 
ister of the West Congregational Church in 
Boston, some four miles away. In this house, 
Elmwood, was born James Russell Lowell, the 
youngest of five children, on Washington's 
Birthday, 18 19. The boy was drilled for col- 
lege in due time, with W. W. Story and T. W. 
Higginson, at Mr. William Wells's school in 
Cambridge. In 1 834 he entered Harvard, as his 
father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had 
done before him. He read widely in college, 
and contributed to the student magazine prose 
and rhyme neither better nor worse than most 
undergraduate writing. But he must be charac- 
terized, upon the whole, as Stevenson said of 
his own career at Edinburgh, as an " idle and 
unprofitable" though surely far from an "ugly " 
student. An unlucky rustication for " contin- 
ued neglect of his college duties " kept him from 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

delivering his class poem upon his graduation 
in 1838. The poem, which was promptly pub- 
lished, is naturally prized by collectors, but it 
affords scanty prophecy of a notable literary 
career. 

Poetry, however, became for the next half 
dozen years the young man's chief concern. 
He studied law, indeed, while continuing to 
reside under his father's roof, and took his de- 
gree in 1840, but he manifested about as much 
veritable zeal for the profession as Thackeray 
had shown in London, a few years before. Like 
Thackeray, too, Lowell made some brief and 
disastrous incursions into the field of journahsm. 
But the real record of his ardent emotional life 
in this period is to be traced in the volume now 
entitled "Earlier Poems," which includes the 
material published in his first book, "A Year's 
Life," 1 841, and in his "Poems," issued in 1843, 
although dated 1844. In all this verse, together 
with much that is uncertain in thought and 
troubled in mood, there is abundant evidence 
of the beneficent influence of Maria White, the 
beautiful and gifted girl, herself a poet, whom 
Lowell married in December, 1 844, after a five 
years' betrothal. 

The delicacy of the young wife's health, as 
well as a casual opportunity for bread-winning, 



INTRODUCTION xv 

drew them at once to Philadelphia, where for a 
few months Lowell found editorial employment 
upon the Pennsylvania " Freeman," an anti- 
slavery paper which had been edited for a time 
by Whittier. Returning the next summer to 
Elmwood, Lowell identified himself more and 
more completely with the abolitionists. In 1 846 
he began to write both editorial articles and verse 
for the "National Anti-Slavery Standard" of 
New York. To the columns of the " Standard " 
were transferred, in 1848, the first series of 
"Biglow Papers," which had begun to appear 
in the Boston " Courier" in 1846. They were 
published in book form in 1848, a year memor- 
able in the history of Lowell's literary reputation, 
since it also witnessed the publication of his 
"Fable for Critics" and of a new volume of 
poems containing " The Vision of Sir Launfal." 
These three productions, written before Lowell 
had reached the age of thirty, were proof not 
merely of an extraordinary facility, variety, and 
brilliancy in composition, but also of a nature 
capable of being profoundly moved by moral 
questions, tremulously sensitive to beauty, and 
trained to a sound perception of literary values. 
These natural capacities were destined to ripen, 
and to receive a steadily widening recognition 
for more than forty years to come, but they are 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

as fully and perhaps even more strikingly appar- 
ent in the three books issued in 1848 than in 
the literary productions of any subsequent year. 
But how dull are all formal records of Lowell's 
achievements compared with the clear image of 
the man as it shines in the " Letters " which 
his friend Professor N orton has edited ! Between 
1848 and 1855, when he was appointed Long- 
fellow's successor in the Smith Professorship of 
Modern Languages at Harvard, Lowell's bio- 
graphers have comparatively little to record, 
except events of private joy and sorrow. Indeed 
in those years sorrow was the more frequent vis- 
itant. Of the three daughters born to the Low- 
ells, but one survived babyhood, and in 1852 an 
only son, Walter, died in Rome, where his par- 
ents were then sojourning. Mrs. Lowell, whose 
physical strength had always been fragile, died at 
Elmwood the following year. The " Letters " 
reveal something of Lowell's secret despondency 
as well as his outward bravery. In the winter 
of 1854-55 the preparation of what proved to be 
a masterly course of lectures on poetry before 
the Lowell Institute in Boston served as a tonic 
for his mind, and the prompt appointment 
to the Harvard professorship gave him keen 
pleasure. He spent a year in Europe in special 
preparation for his new duties, which he assumed 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

in the fall of 1856. A year later he married 
Frances Dunlap, a woman of great charm, who 
had had the care of his motherless daughter 
Mabel. In the words of his friend, W. J. Still- 
man, " She was to him healing from sorrow 
and a defence against all trouble, a very spring 
of life and hope." In that same year of 1857 
Lowell became editor of the newly founded " At- 
lantic Monthly." For the next twenty years he 
was largely occupied with teaching, editing, and 
essay writing ; with prose, in short, rather than 
with poetry. 

Lowell's editorship of "The Atlantic" con- 
tinued until May, 1861, when he transferred it 
to James T. Fields, one of the members of the 
publishing-house into whose hands the magazine 
had passed. Mr. Scudder has an admirable 
chapter upon Lowell as an editor of "The Atlan- 
tic," and he describes also, though with less par- 
ticularity, Lowell's connection with the " North 
American Review." The "Review" was then 
a dignified quarterly, published in Boston, and 
Lowell held a joint editorship of it, with Pro- 
fessor Norton as colleague, for about ten years, 
beginning with 1863. For a man constitution- 
ally impatient of details and restless under rou- 
tine labor, Lowell carried his double load, of 
teaching and editing, with a commendably stout 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

heart, although his " Letters " are not without 
sighings and groanings most humorously uttered. 
His work as a college teacher has been vividly 
described by Professor Barrett Wendell and 
other pupils. It was highly unconventional in 
method, useful to some of his students, inspiring 
to a few, and was at least faithfully performed. 
Whether it really interfered with his creative 
activity, as Lowell often, both then and later, 
was inclined to think it did, is not so easy to 
determine. Too many unknown quantities are 
always involved in that particular equation. 

Lowell's reputation as a prose writer, how- 
ever it might have been affected by a greater 
freedom for production, rests upon the essays 
produced between his assumption of the edito- 
rial chair in 1857 and his appointment as Min- 
ister to Spain in 1877. Any characterization of 
their learning, wit, and robust humanism would 
be out of place here, and is in any case super- 
fluous. If Lowell's essays do not attract by 
their own inherent and evident qualities, praise 
of them is useless. It should be noted that 
many of the longest and most ambitious of the 
essays appeared first in the " North American 
Review." Five volumes of the present edition 
represent this period of purely literary prose : 
"Fireside Travels," 1864; "Among My Books," 



INTRODUCTION xk 

1870 and 1876, the two original volumes here 
appearing in three, and " My Study Windows," 
1 87 1. The volume entitled " Political Essays" 
is made up of articles written for " The Atlan- 
tic " and the " North American Review " upon 
topics presented by the Civil War and Recon- 
struction. It is to Lowell's patriotic fervor, 
kindled to new flame by the war, that we owe, 
furthermore, his best known poetical work of 
this period. The second series of " Biglow 
Papers " began in "The Atlantic " in 1862. In 
1865 he wrote the "Commemoration Ode" in 
memory of the Harvard men — some of them 
near kinsmen of his own — who had fallen in 
the great struggle : a poem wonderful in its 
improvisation, memorable for its noble sorrow, 
its passionate and exalted patriotism. " Few 
poets," says Professor Norton, " have ever ren- 
dered such service to their country as Lowell 
rendered in those years." 

It was this consistent devotion to the highest 
interests of America, apparent indeed in Low- 
ell's earliest anti-slavery verse, but more and 
more generally acknowledged as he reached the 
maturity of his career, which marked him, in 
an auspicious hour, for his country's diplomatic 
service. His active interest in politics since 
the close of the war had been chiefly exhibited 



XX INTRODUCTION 

in that movement for independence of party 
control which contributed to the defeat of Mr. 
Blaine as a candidate for the nomination for the 
Presidency in 1876. Lowell had been a dele- 
gate to the Republican National Convention. In 
1877 President Hayes, acting upon the friendly 
solicitation of Mr. Howells, offered to Lowell 
the post of Minister to Austria, and upon 
Lowell's declining this proposal, the appoint- 
ment as Minister to Spain, which he accepted. 
After an honorable service of over three years, 
he was transferred to the more important post 
at London, to the great satisfaction of most of 
his countrymen, and to the pleasure of count- 
less friends in England. Lowell served as Min- 
ister to Great Britain until 1885, manifesting 
unfailing tact in many trying circumstances, 
cementing good will between the two countries, 
and acquitting himself on all public occasions 
with distinction. The volume entitled " Lit- 
erary and Political Addresses" is made up 
mainly of the sagacious, witty, and graceful ad- 
dresses which he was called upon to make dur- 
ing his sojourn in England, the most significant 
being the noteworthy address on " Democracy," 
delivered at Birmingham in 1884. 

Lowell was sixty-six when a change of ad- 
ministration brought him home. His health. 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

never absolutely robust, was somewhat broken. 
Mrs. Lowell had died during his stay in Lon- 
don, and he now made his residence temporar- 
ily with his daughter, Mrs. Burnett, in the re- 
tired village of Southboro, Massachusetts. His 
letters to his old friends continued, as always, 
to be charming, but they betray the inevitable 
pathos which the sight of a narrowing circle 
brings. Whenever it was possible, he spent his 
summers in England. He busied himself with 
a few tasks, like the preparation of a uniform 
edition of his writings. He wrote verse, win- 
ning and grave, and with all the old pleasure 
in composition. He made addresses upon not- 
able occasions, such as the two hundred and 
fiftieth anniversary of Harvard, in 1886, and 
the celebration of the centenary of Washington's 
inauguration, in 1889. Honors kept coming to 
him, and his tried friends, in this country and 
abroad, were unfailing in their loyalty. At last 
he had the happiness of going back to live at 
Elmwood, and the fortune — rare in our no- 
madic America — of closing a life fortunate in 
so many of its endeavors under the roof which 
had sheltered him as a dreaming boy. The end 
came on the twelfth of August, 1891. 

B. P. 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

1854 

A MEMOIR ADDRESSED TO THE EDELMANN 
STORG IN ROME 

IN those quiet old winter evenings, around 
our Roman fireside, it was not seldom, my 
dear Storg, that we talked of the advantages 
of travel, and in speeches not so long that our 
cigars would forget their fire (the measure of 
just conversation) debated the comparative ad- 
vantages of the Old and New Worlds. You will 
remember how serenely I bore the imputation 
of provincialism, while I asserted that those ad- 
vantages were reciprocal ; that an orbed and bal- 
anced life would revolve between the Old and 
the New as opposite, but not antagonistic poles, 
the true equator lying somewhere midway be- 
tween them. I asserted also, that there were two 
epochs at which a man might travel, — before 
twenty, for pure enjoyment, and after thirty, for 
instruction. At twenty, the eye is sufficiently 
delighted with merely seeing ; new things are 
pleasant only because they are not old ; and we 
take everything heartily and naturally in the 



4 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

right way, — for even mishaps are like knives, 
that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them 
by the blade or the handle. After thirty, we carry 
along our scales, with lawful weights stamped 
by experience, and our chemical tests acquired by 
study, with which to ponder and essay all arts, 
institutions, and manners, and to ascertain either 
their absolute worth or their merely relative 
value to ourselves. On the whole, I declared 
myself in favor of the after thirty method, — 
was it partly (so difficult is it to distinguish be- 
tween opinions and personalities) because I had 
tried it myself, though with scales so imperfect 
and tests so inadequate ? Perhaps so, but more 
because I held that a man should have travelled 
thoroughly round himself and the great terra 
incognita just outside and inside his own thresh- 
old, before he undertook voyages of discovery 
to other worlds. " Far countries he can safest 
visit who himself is doughty," says Beowulf. 
Let him first thoroughly explore that strange 
country laid down on the maps as Seauton ; 
let him look down into its craters, and find 
whether they be burnt out or only smoulder- 
ing ; let him know between the good and evil 
fruits of its passionate tropics; let him experience 
how healthful are its serene and high-lying table- 
lands ; let him be many times driven back (till 
he wisely consent to be baffled) from its specu- 
latively inquisitive northwest passages that lead 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 5 

mostly to the dreary solitudes of a sunless world, 
before he think himself morally equipped for 
travels to more distant regions. So thought 
pithy Thomas Fuller. " Who," he says, " hath 
sailed about the world of his own heart, sounded 
each creek, surveyed each corner, but that still 
there remains therein much * terra incognita ' 
to himself? " ' But does he commonly even so 
much as think of this, or, while buying amplest 
trunks for his corporeal apparel, does it once 
occur to him how very small a portmanteau will 
contain all his mental and spiritual outfit ? It is 
more often true that a man who could scarce be 
induced to expose his unclothed body even to 
a village of prairie-dogs, will complacently dis- 
play a mind as naked as the day It was born, 
without so much as a fig-leaf of acquirement on 
it, in every gallery of Europe, — 

'* Not caring, so that Sumpter-horse, the back. 
Be hung with gaudy trappings, in what coarse. 
Yea, rags most beggarly, they clothe the soul." 

If not with a robe dyed in the Tyrian purple 
of imaginative culture, if not with the close- 
fitting, work-day dress of social or business 
training, — at least, my dear Storg, one might 
provide himself with the merest waist-clout of 
modesty ! 

But if it be too much to expect men to tra- 
verse and survey themselves before they go 

' Holy State : The Constant Fir gin. 



6 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

abroad, we might certainly ask that they should 
be familiar with their own villages. If not even 
that, then it is of little import whither they 
go, and let us hope that, by seeing how calmly 
their own narrow neighborhood bears their 
departure, they may be led to think that the 
circles of disturbance set in motion by the fall 
of their tiny drop into the ocean of eternity will 
not have a radius of more than a week in any 
direction ; and that the world can endure the 
subtraction of even a justice of the peace with 
provoking equanimity. In this way, at least, for- 
eign travel may do them good, — may make them, 
if not wiser, at any rate less fussy. Is it a great 
way to go to school, and a great fee to pay for 
the lesson? We cannot give too much for the 
genial stoicism which, when life flouts us and 
says, Put that in your pipe and smoke it ! can puff 
away with as sincere a relish as if it were tobacco 
of Mount Lebanon in a narghileh of Damascus. 
It has passed into a scornful proverb, that it 
needs good optics to see what is not to be seen ; 
and yet I should be inclined to say that the first 
essential of a good traveller was to be gifted with 
eyesight of precisely that kind. All his senses 
should be as delicate as eyes ; and, above all, he 
should be able to see with the fine eye of imagi- 
nation, compared with which all the other organs 
with which the mind grasps and the memory 
holds are as clumsy as thumbs. The demand for 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 7 

this kind of traveller and the opportunity for him 
increase as we learn more and more minutely the 
dry facts and figures of the most inaccessible 
corners of the earth's surface. There is no hope 
of another Ferdinand Mendez Pinto, with his 
statistics of Dreamland, who makes no difficulty 
of impressing " fourscore thousand rhinocerots " 
to draw the wagons of the king of Tartary's 
army, or of killing eight hundred and fifty thou- 
sand men with a flourish of his quill, — for what 
were a few ciphers to him, when his inkhorn 
was full and all Christendom to be astonished ? 
but there is all the more need of voyagers who 
give us something better than a census of popu- 
lation, and who know of other exports from 
strange countries than can be expressed by 

$ . Give me the traveller who makes me 

feel the mystery of the Figure at Sais, whose veil 
hides a new meaning for every beholder, rather 
than him who brings back a photograph of the 
uncovered countenance, with its one unvarying 
granite story for all. There is one glory of the 
Gazetteer with his fixed facts, and another of 
the Poet with his variable quantities of fancy. 

After all, my dear Storg, it is to know things 
that one has need to travel, and not men. Those 
force us to come to them, but these come to us, 
— sometimes whether we will or no. These 
exist for us in every variety in our own town. 
You may find your antipodes without a voyage 



8 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

to China ; he lives there, just round the next 
corner, precise, formal, the slave of precedent, 
making all his teacups with a break in the edge, 
because his model had one, and your fancy de- 
corates him with an endlessness of airy pigtail. 
There, too, are John Bull, Jean Crapaud, Hans 
Sauerkraut, Pat Murphy, and the rest. 
It has been written : — 

** He needs no ship to cross the tide. 
Who, in the lives around him, sees 
Fair window-prospects opening wide 
O'er history's fields on every side, 
Rome, Egypt, England, Ind, and Greece. 

"Whatever moulds of various brain 
E'er shaped the world to weal or woe. 
Whatever empires wax and wane. 
To him who hath not eyes in vain. 
His village-microcosm can show." 

But every thing is not a Thing, and all things 
are good for nothing out of their natural habitat. 
If the heroic Barnum had succeeded in trans- 
planting Shakespeare's house to America, what 
interest would it have had for us, torn out of 
its appropriate setting in softly hilled Warwick- 
shire, which showed us that the most English 
of poets must be born in the most English of 
counties ? I mean by a Thing that which is not 
a mere spectacle, that which some virtue of the 
mind leaps forth to, as it also sends forth its 
sympathetic flash to the mind, as soon as they 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 9 

come within each other's sphere of attraction, 
and, with instantaneous coalition, form a new 
product, — knowledge. 

Such, in the understanding it gives us of early 
Roman history, is the little territory around 
Rome, the gentis cunabula, without a sight of 
which Livy and Niebuhr and the maps are vain. 
So, too, one must go to Pompeii and the Museo 
Borbonico, to get a true conception of that won- 
drous artistic nature of the Greeks, strong 
enough, even in that petty colony, to survive 
foreign conquest and to assimilate barbarian 
blood, showing a grace and fertility of invention 
whose Roman copies Rafaello himself could 
only copy, and enchanting even the base uten- 
sils of the kitchen with an inevitable sense of 
beauty to which we subterranean Northmen 
have not yet so much as dreamed of climbing. 
Mere sights one can see quite as well at home. 
Mont Blanc does not tower more grandly in the 
memory than did the dream-peak which loomed 
afar on the morning horizon of hope, nor did 
the smoke-palm of Vesuvius stand more erect 
and fair, with tapering stem and spreading top, 
in that Parthenopean air, than under the diviner 
sky of imagination. I know what Shakespeare 
says about homekeeping youths, and I can fancy 
what you will add about America being inter- 
esting only as a phenomenon, and uncomfort- 
able to live in, because we have not yet done 



lo CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

with getting ready to live. But is not your Eu- 
rope, on the other hand, a place where men have 
done living for the present, and of value chiefly 
because of the men who had done living in it 
long ago ? And if, in our rapidly moving coun- 
try, one feel sometimes as if he had his home 
on a railroad train, is there not also a satisfac- 
tion in knowing that one is going somewhere ? 
To what end visit Europe, if people carry with 
them, as most do, their old parochial horizon, 
going hardly as Americans even, much less as 
men ? Have we not both seen persons abroad 
who put us in mind of parlor goldfish in their 
vase, isolated in that little globe of their own 
element, incapable of communication with the 
strange world around them, a show themselves, 
while it was always doubtful if they could see 
at all beyond the limits of their portable prison ? 
The wise man travels to discover himself; it 
is to find himself out that he goes out of him- 
self and his habitual associations, trying every- 
thing in turn till he find that one activity, that 
royal standard, sovran over him by divine right, 
toward which all the disbanded powers of his 
nature and the irregular tendencies of his life 
gather joyfully, as to the common rallying-point 
of their loyalty. 

All these things we debated while the ilex 
logs upon the hearth burned down to tinkling 
coals, over which a gray, soft moss of ashes grew 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO n 

betimes, mocking the poor wood with a pale 
travesty of that green and gradual decay on for- 
est floors, its natural end. Already the clock at 
the Cappuccini told the morning quarters, and 
on the pauses of our talk no sound intervened 
but the muffled hoot of an owl in the near con- 
vent-garden, or the rattling tramp of a patrol of 
that French army which keeps him a prisoner in 
his own city who claims to lock and unlock the 
doors of heaven. But still the discourse would 
eddy round one obstinate rocky tenet of mine, 
for I maintained, you remember, that the wisest 
man was he who stayed at home ; that to see 
the antiquities of the Old World was nothing, 
since the youth of the world was really no far- 
ther away from us than our own youth ; and 
that, moreover, we had also in America things 
amazingly old, as our boys, for example. Add, 
that in the end this antiquity is a matter of 
comparison, which skips from place to place 
as nimbly as Emerson's Sphinx, and that one 
old thing is good only till we have seen an older. 
England is ancient till we go to Rome ; Etruria 
dethrones Rome, but only to pass this sceptre 
of antiquity which so lords it over our fancies 
to the Pelasgi, from whom Egypt straightway 
wrenches it, to give it up in turn to older India. 
And whither then? As well rest upon the first 
step, since the effect of what is old upon the 
mind is single and positive, not cumulative. As 



12 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

soon as a thing is past, it is as infinitely far 
away from us as if it had happened millions of 
years ago. And if the learned Huet be correct, 
who reckoned that all human thoughts and re- 
cords could be included in ten folios, what so 
frightfully old as we ourselves, who can, if we 
choose, hold in our memories every syllable of 
recorded time, from the first crunch of Eve's 
teeth in the apple downward, being thus ideally 
contemporary with hoariest Eld ? 

* * Thy pyramids built up with newer might 
To us are nothing novel, nothing strange." 

Now, my dear Storg, you know my (what 
the phrenologists call) inhabitiveness and ad- 
hesiveness, — how I stand by the old thought, 
the old thing, the old place, and the old friend, 
till I am very sure I have got a better, and 
even then migrate painfully. Remember the 
old Arabian story, and think how hard it is to 
pick up all the pomegranate-seeds of an oppo- 
nent's argument, and how, so long as one re- 
mains, you are as far from the end as ever. 
Since I have you entirely at my mercy (for you 
cannot answer me under five weeks), you will 
not be surprised at the advent of this letter. I 
had always one impregnable position, which was, 
that, however good other places might be, there 
was only one in which we could be born, and 
which therefore possessed a quite peculiar and 
inahenable virtue. We had the fortune, which 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 13 

neither of us have had reason to call other than 
good, to journey together through the green, se- 
cluded valley of boyhood ; together we climbed 
the mountain wall which shut in, and looked 
down upon, those Italian plains of early man- 
hood ; and, since then, we have met sometimes 
by a well, or broken bread together at an oasis 
in the arid desert of life, as it truly is. With 
this letter I propose to make you my fellow 
traveller in one of those fireside voyages which, 
as we grow older, we make oftener and oftener 
through our own past. Without leaving your 
elbow-chair, you shall go back with me thirty 
years, which will bring you among things and 
persons as thoroughly preterite as Romulus or 
Numa. For so rapid are our changes in Amer- 
ica that the transition from old to new, the 
shifting from habits and associations to others 
entirely different, is as rapid almost as the pass- 
ing in of one scene and the drawing out of an- 
other on the stage. And it is this which makes 
America so interesting to the philosophic stu- 
dent of history and man. Here, as in a theatre, 
the great problems of anthropology — which in 
the Old World were ages in solving, but which 
are solved, leaving only a dry net result — are 
compressed, as it were, into the entertainment 
of a few hours. Here we have I know not 
how many epochs of history and phases of civ- 
ilization contemporary with each other, nay, 



14 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

within five minutes of each other, by the electric 
telegraph. In two centuries we have seen re- 
hearsed the dispersion of man from a small 
point over a whole continent ; we witness with 
our own eyes the action of those forces which 
govern the great migration of the peoples now 
historical in Europe ; we can watch the action 
and reaction of different races, forms of govern- 
ment, and higher or lower civilizations. Over 
there, you have only the dead precipitate, de- 
manding tedious analysis ; but here the elements 
are all in solution, and we have only to look to 
see how they will combine. History, which 
every day makes less account of governors and 
more of man, must find here the compendious 
key to all that picture-writing of the Past. 
Therefore it is, my dear Storg, that we Yankees 
may still esteem our America a place worth liv- 
ing in. But calm your apprehensions ; I do not 
propose to drag you with me on such an his- 
torical circumnavigation of the globe, but only 
to show you that (however needful it may be to 
go abroad for the study of aesthetics) a man who 
uses the eyes of his heart may find here also 
pretty bits of what may be called the social 
picturesque, and little landscapes over which that 
Indian-summer atmosphere of the Past broods 
as sweetly and tenderly as over a Roman ruin. 
Let us look at the Cambridge of thirty years 
since. 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 15 

The seat of the oldest college in America, it 
had, of course, some of that cloistered quiet 
which characterizes all university towns. Even 
now delicately thoughtful A. H. C. tells me 
that he finds in its intellectual atmosphere a re- 
pose which recalls that of grand old Oxford. 
But, underlying this, it had an idiosyncrasy of 
its own. Boston was not yet a city, and Cam- 
bridge was still a country village, with its own 
habits and traditions, not yet feeling too strongly 
the force of suburban gravitation. Approaching 
it from the west by what was then called the 
New Road (so called no longer, for we change 
our names as readily as thieves, to the great de- 
triment of all historical association), you would 
pause on the brow of Symonds' Hill to enjoy 
a view singularly soothing and placid. In front 
of you lay the town, tufted with elms, lindens, 
and horse-chestnuts, which had seen Massachu- 
setts a colony, and were fortunately unable to 
emigrate with the Tories, by whom, or by whose 
fathers, they were planted. Over it rose the 
noisy belfry of the College, the square, brown 
tower of the church, and the slim, yellow spire 
of the parish meeting-house, by no means un- 
graceful, and then an invariable characteristic of 
New England religious architecture. On your 
right, the Charles slipped smoothly through 
green and purple salt-meadows, darkened, here 
and there, with the blossoming black-grass as 



i6 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

with a stranded cloud-shadow. Over these 
marshes, level as water, but without its glare, 
and with softer and more soothing gradations 
of perspective, the eye was carried to a horizon 
of softly rounded hills. To your left hand, 
upon the Old Road, you saw some half dozen 
dignified old houses of the colonial time, all 
comfortably fronting southward. If it were 
early June, the rows of horse-chestnuts along 
the fronts of these houses showed, through every 
crevice of their dark heap of foliage, and on the 
end of every drooping limb, a cone of pearly 
flowers, while the hill behind was white or rosy 
with the crowding blooms of various fruit-trees. 
There is no sound, unless a horseman clatters 
over the loose planks of the bridge, while his 
antipodal shadow glides silently over the mir- 
rored bridge below, or unless, — 

" O winged rapture, feathered soul of spring. 
Blithe voice of woods, fields, waters, all in one. 
Pipe blown through by the warm, mild breath of June 
Shepherding her white flocks of woolly clouds. 
The bobolink has come, and climbs the wind 
With rippling wings that quiver not for flight. 
But only joy, or, yielding to its will. 
Runs down, a brook of laughter, through the air." 

Such was the charmingly rural picture which 
he who, thirty years ago, went eastward over 
Symonds' Hill had given him for nothing, to 
hang in the Gallery of Memory. But we are a 
city now, and common councils have as yet no 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 17 

notion of the truth (learned long ago by many 
a European hamlet) that picturesqueness adds 
to the actual money value of a town. To save 
a few dollars in gravel, they have cut a kind of 
dry ditch through the hill, where you suffocate 
with dust in summer, or flounder through waist- 
deep snowdrifts in winter, with no prospect but 
the crumbling earth-walls on either side. The 
landscape was carried away cart-load by cart- 
load, and, dumped down on the roads, forms a 
part of that unfathomable pudding, which has, 
I fear, driven many a teamster and pedestrian 
to the use of phrases not commonly found in 
English dictionaries. 

We called it " the Village" then (I speak of 
Old Cambridge), and it was essentially an Eng- 
lish village, quiet, unspeculative, without enter- 
prise, sufficing to itself, and only showing such 
differences from the original type as the public 
school and the system of town government 
might superinduce. A few houses, chiefly old, 
stood around the bare Common, with ample 
elbow-room, and old women, capped and spec- 
tacled, still peered through the same -windows 
from which they had watched Lord Percy's ar- 
tillery rumble by to Lexington, or caught a 
glimpse of the handsome Virginia General who 
had come to wield our homespun Saxon chiv- 
alry. People were still living who regretted 
the late unhappy separation from the mother 



1 8 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

island, who had seen no gentry since the Vas- 
salls went, and who thought that Boston had ill 
kept the day of her patron saint, Botolph, on 
the 17th of June, 1775. The hooks were to be 
seen in Massachusetts Hall from which had 
swung the hammocks of Burgoyne's captive 
redcoats. If memory does not deceive me, 
women still washed clothes in the town spring, 
clear as that of Bandusia. One coach sufficed 
for all the travel to the metropolis. Commence- 
ment had not ceased to be the great holiday of 
the Puritan Commonwealth, and a fitting one 
it was, — the festival of Santa Scholastica, whose 
triumphal path one may conceive strewn with 
leaves of spelling-book instead of bay. The stu- 
dents (scholars they were called then) wore their 
sober uniform, not ostentatiously distinctive or 
capable of rousing democratic envy, and the old 
lines of caste were blurred rather than rubbed 
out, as servitor was softened into beneficiary. 
The Spanish king felt sure that the gesticulating 
student was either mad or reading " Don Qui- 
xote," and if, in those days, you met a youth 
swinging his arms and talking to himself, you 
might conclude that he was either a lunatic or 
one who was to appear in a " part " at the next 
exhibition or commencement. A favorite place 
for the rehearsal of these orations was the retired 
amphitheatre of the Gravel-pit, perched unre- 
garded on whose dizzy edge, I have heard many 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 19 

a burst oi plusquam Ciceronian eloquence, and 
(often repeated) the regular saluto vos^ praestan- 
tissimae, etc., which every year (with a glance at 
the gallery) causes a flutter among the fans inno- 
cent of Latin, and delights to applauses of con- 
scious superiority the youth almost as innocent 
as they. It is curious, by the way, to note how 
plainly one can feel the pulse of self in the plau- 
dits of an audience. At a political meeting, if 
the enthusiasm of the lieges hang fire, it may be 
exploded at once by an allusion to their intelli- 
gence or patriotism ; and at a literary festival, 
the first Latin quotation draws the first applause, 
the clapping of hands being intended as a trib- 
ute to our own familiarity with that sonorous 
tongue, and not at all as an approval of the 
particular sentiment conveyed in it. For if 
the orator should say, "Well has Tacitus re- 
marked, Americani omnes quadam vi naturae 
furca dignissimi^' it would be all the same. But 
the Gravel-pit was patient, if irresponsive ; 
nor did the declaimer always fail to bring down 
the house, bits of loosened earth falling now 
and then from the precipitous walls, their cohe- 
sion perhaps overcome by the vibrations of the 
voice, and happily satirizing the effect of most 
popular discourses, which prevail rather with 
the earthy than the spiritual part of the hearer. 
Was it possible for us in those days to conceive 
of a greater potentate than the president of the 



20 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

University, in his square doctor's cap, that still 
filially recalled Oxford and Cambridge ? If there 
was a doubt, it was suggested only by the gov- 
ernor, and even by him on artillery-election days 
alone, superbly martial with epaulets and buck- 
skin breeches, and bestriding the war-horse, 
promoted to that solemn duty for his tameness 
and steady habits. 

Thirty years ago, the town had indeed a char- 
acter. Railways and omnibuses had not rolled 
flat all little social prominences and peculiari- 
ties, making every man as much a citizen every- 
where as at home. No Charlestown boy could 
come to our annual festival without fighting to 
avenge a certain traditional porcine imputation 
against the inhabitants of that historic spot, to 
which our youth gave vent in fanciful imitations 
of the dialect of the sty, or derisive shouts of 
" Charlestown hogs ! " The penny newspaper 
had not yet silenced the tripod of the barber, 
oracle of news. Everybody knew everybody, 
and all about everybody, and village wit, whose 
high 'change was around the little market-house 
in the town square, had labelled every more 
marked individuality with nicknames that clung 
like burs. Things were established then, and 
men did not run through all the figures on the 
dial of society so swiftly as now, when hurry 
and competition seem to have quite unhung 
the modulating pendulum of steady thrift 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 21 

and competent training. Some slow-minded 
persons even followed their father's trade, — a 
humiliating spectacle, rarer every day. We had 
our established loafers, topers, proverb-mongers, 
barber, parson, nay, postmaster, whose tenure 
was for life. The great political engine did not 
then come down at regular quadrennial inter- 
vals, like a nail-cutting machine, to make all 
official lives of a standard length, and to gener- 
ate lazy and intriguing expectancy. Life flowed 
in recognized channels, narrower perhaps, but 
with all the more individuality and force. 

There was but one white-and-yellow-washer, 
whose own cottage, fresh-gleaming every June 
through grapevine and creeper, was his only 
sign and advertisement. He was said to pos- 
sess a secret, which died with him like that of 
Luca della Robbia, and certainly conceived all 
colors but white and yellow to savor of sav- 
agery, civilizing the stems of his trees annually 
with liquid lime, and meditating how to extend 
that candent baptism even to the leaves. His 
pie-plants (the best in town), compulsory mo- 
nastics, blanched under barrels, each in his lit- 
tle hermitage, a vegetable Certosa. His fowls, 
his ducks, his geese, could not show so much 
as a gray feather among them, and he would 
have given a year's earnings for a white pea- 
cock. The flowers which decked his little door- 
yard were whitest China-asters and goldenest 



22 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

sunflowers, which last, backsliding from their 
traditional Parsee faith, used to puzzle us ur- 
chins not a little by staring brazenly every way 
except towards the sun. Celery too, he raised, 
whose virtue is its paleness, and the silvery 
onion, and turnip, which, though outwardly 
conforming to the green heresies of summer, 
nourish a purer faith subterraneously, like early 
Christians in the catacombs. In an obscure 
corner grew the sanguine beet, tolerated only 
for its usefulness in allaying the asperities of 
Saturday's salt-fish. He loved winter better 
than summer, because Nature then played the 
whitewasher, and challenged with her snows 
the scarce inferior purity of his overalls and 
neck-cloth. I fancy that he never rightly liked 
Commencement, for bringing so many black 
coats together. He founded no school. Others 
might essay his art, and were allowed to try 
their 'prentice hands on fences and the like 
coarse subjects, but the ceiling of every house- 
wife waited on the leisure of Newman {ichneu- 
mon the students called him for his diminutive- 
ness), nor would consent to other brush than 
his. There was also but one brewer, — Lewis, 
who made the village beer, both spruce and 
ginger, a grave and amiable Ethiopian, making 
a discount always to the boys, and wisely, for 
they were his chiefest patrons. He wheeled 
his whole stock in a white-roofed handcart, on 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 23 

whose front a signboard presented at either end 
an insurrectionary bottle ; yet insurgent after no 
mad GalHc fashion, but soberly and Saxonly 
discharging itself into the restraining formulary 
of a tumbler, symbolic of orderly prescription. 
The artist had struggled manfully with the dif- 
ficulties of his subject, but had not succeeded so 
well that we did not often debate in which 
of the twin bottles Spruce was typified, and in 
which Ginger. We always believed that Lewis 
mentally distinguished between them, but by 
some peculiarity occult to exoteric eyes. This 
ambulatory chapel of the Bacchus that gives 
the colic, but not inebriates, only appeared 
at the Commencement holidays, and the lad 
who bought of Lewis laid out his money well, 
getting respect as well as beer, three sirs to 
every glass, — " Beer, sir ? yes, sir : spruce or 
ginger, sir ? " I can yet recall the innocent 
pride with which I walked away after that 
somewhat risky ceremony (for a bottle some- 
times blew up), dilated not alone with carbonic 
acid gas, but with the more ethereal fixed air 
of that titular flattery. Nor was Lewis proud. 
When he tried his fortunes in the capital on 
election days, and stood amid a row of rival 
venders in the very flood of custom, he never 
forgot his small fellow citizens, but welcomed 
them with an assuring smile, and served them 
with the first. 



24 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

The barber's shop was a museum, scarce 
second to the larger one of Greenwood in the 
metropoHs. The boy who was to be clipped 
there was always accompanied to the sacrifice 
by troops of friends, who thus inspected the 
curiosities gratis. While the watchful eye of 
R. wandered to keep in check these rather 
unscrupulous explorers, the unpausing shears 
would sometimes overstep the boundaries of 
strict tonsorial prescription, and make a notch 
through which the phrenological developments 
could be distinctly seen. As Michael Angelo's 
design was modified by the shape of his block, 
so R., rigid in artistic proprieties, would con- 
trive to give an appearance of design to this 
aberration, by making it the keynote to his 
work, and reducing the whole head to an 
appearance of premature baldness. What a 
charming place it was, — how full of wonder 
and delight! The sunny little room, fronting 
southwest upon the Common, rang with cana- 
ries and Java sparrows, nor were the familiar 
notes of robin, thrush, and bobolink wanting. 
A large white cockatoo harangued vaguely, at 
intervals, in what we believed (on R.'s author- 
ity) to be the Hottentot language. He had 
an unveracious air, but in what inventions of 
former grandeur he was indulging, what sweet 
South- African Argos he was remembering, 
what tropical heats and giant trees by uncon- 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 25 

jectured rivers, known only to the wallowing 
hippopotamus, we could only guess at. The 
walls were covered with curious old Dutch 
prints, beaks of albatross and penguin, and 
whales' teeth fantastically engraved. There was 
Frederick the Great, with head drooped plot- 
tingly, and keen sidelong glance from under 
the three-cornered hat. There hung Bonaparte, 
too, the long-haired, haggard general of Italy, 
his eyes sombre with prefigured destiny ; and 
there was his island grave; — the dream and 
the fulfilment. Good store of sea-fights there 
was also ; above all, Paul Jones in the Bon- 
homme Richard : the smoke rolling courteously 
to leeward, that we might see him dealing thun- 
derous wreck to the two hostile vessels, each 
twice as large as his own, and the reality of the 
scene corroborated by streaks of red paint leap- 
ing from the mouth of every gun. Suspended 
over the fireplace, with the curling-tongs, were 
an Indian bow and arrows, and in the corners 
of the room stood New Zealand paddles and 
war-clubs, quaintly carved. The model of a 
ship in glass we variously estimated to be worth 
from a hundred to a thousand dollars, R. 
rather favoring the higher valuation, though 
never distinctly committing himself. Among 
these wonders, the only suspicious one was an 
Indian tomahawk, which had too much the 
peaceful look of a shingling-hatchet. Did any 



26 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

rarity enter the town, it gravitated naturally to 
these walls, to the very nail that waited to re- 
ceive it, and where, the day after its accession, 
it seemed to have hung a lifetime. We always 
had a theory that R. was immensely rich (how 
could he possess so much and be otherwise ?) 
and that he pursued his calling from an amiable 
eccentricity. He was a conscientious artist, and 
never submitted it to the choice of his victim 
whether he would be perfumed or not. Faith- 
fully was the bottle shaken and the odoriferous 
mixture rubbed in, a fact redolent to the whole 
school-room in the afternoon. Sometimes the 
persuasive tonsor would impress one of the at- 
tendant volunteers, and reduce his poll to shoe- 
brush crispness, at cost of the reluctant nine- 
pence hoarded for Fresh Pond and the next half 
holiday. So purely indigenous was our popula- 
tion then, that R. had a certain exotic charm, a 
kind of game flavor, by being a Dutchman. 

Shall the two groceries want their vates sacer^ 
where E. & W. I. goods and country ^vodooce 
were sold with an energy mitigated by the quiet 
genius of the place, and where strings of urchins 
waited, each with cent in hand, for the unweighed 
dates (thus giving an ordinary business transac- 
tion all the excitement of a lottery), and buying, 
not only that cloying sweetness, but a dream 
also of Egypt, and palm-trees, and Arabs, in 
which vision a print of the Pyramids in our 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 27 

geography tyrannized like that taller thought 
of Cowper's ? 

At one of these the unwearied students used 
to ply a joke handed down from class to class. 
Enter A^ and asks gravely, " Have you any 
sour apples, Deacon ? " 

" Well, no, I have n't any just now that are 
exactly sour ; but there 's the bell-flower apple, 
and folks that like a sour apple generally like 
that." {Exit A) 

Enter B. " Have you any sweet apples. 
Deacon ? " 

"Well, no, I have n't any just now that are 
exactly sweet ; but there 's the bell-flower ap- 
ple, and folks that like a sweet apple generally 
like that." {Exit B.) 

There is not even a tradition of any one's 
ever having turned the wary deacon's flank, and 
his Laodicean apples persisted to the end, neither 
one thing nor another. Or shall the two town 
constables be forgotten, in whom the law stood 
worthily and amply embodied, fit either of them 
to fill the uniform of an English beadle ? Grim 
and silent as Ninevite statues they stood on 
each side of the meeting-house door at Com- 
mencement, propped by long staves of blue and 
red, on which the Indian with bow and arrow, 
and the mailed arm with the sword, hinted at 
the invisible sovereignty of the state ready to 
reinforce them, as 



28 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

*' For Achilles' portrait stood a spear 
Grasped in an armed hand." 

Stalwart and rubicund men they were, second 
only, if second, to S., champion of the county, 
and not incapable of genial unbendings when the 
fasces were laid aside. One of them still sur- 
vives in octogenarian vigor, the Herodotus of 
village and college legend, and may it be long 
ere he depart, to carry with him the pattern of 
a courtesy, now, alas ! old-fashioned, but which 
might profitably make part of the instruction of 
our youth among the other humanities ! Long 
may R. M. be spared to us, so genial, so courtly, 
the last man among us who will ever know how 
to lift a hat with the nice graduation of social 
distinctions. Something of a Jeremiah now, he 
bewails the decline of our manners. " My chil- 
dren," he says, " say, ^ Yes sir,' and * No sir ; ' 
my grandchildren, * Yes,' and ' No ; ' and I am 
every day expecting to hear * D — n your eyes ! ' 
for an answer when I ask a service of my great- 
grandchildren. Why, sir, I can remember when 
more respect was paid to Governor Hancock's 
lackey at Commencement, than the governor 
and all his suite get now." M. is one of those 
invaluable men who remember your grandfather, 
and value you accordingly. 

In those days the population was almost 
wholly without foreign admixture. Two Scotch 
gardeners there were, — Rule, whose daughter 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 29 

(glimpsed perhaps at church, or possibly the 
mere Mrs. Harris of fancy) the students nick- 
named Anarchy or Miss Rule, — and later Fra- 
ser, whom whiskey subhmedinto a poet, full of 
bloody histories of the Forty-twa, and showing 
an imaginary French bullet, sometimes in one 
leg, sometimes in the other, and sometimes, to- 
ward nightfall, in both. He asserted that he had 
been at Coruna, calling it by its archaic name 
of the Groyne, and thus raising doubts in the 
mind of the young listener who could find no 
such place on his map. With this claim to a 
military distinction he adroitly contrived to 
mingle another to a natural one, asserting double 
teeth all round his jaws, and, having thus created 
two sets of doubts, silenced both at once by a 
single demonstration, displaying the grinders to 
the confusion of the infidel. 

The old court-house stood then upon the 
square. It has shrunk back out of sight now, 
and students box and fence where Parsons once 
laid down the law, and Ames and Dexter showed 
their skill in the fence of argument. Times have 
changed, and manners, since Chief Justice Dana 
(father of Richard the First, and grandfather of 
Richard the Second) caused to be arrested for 
contempt of court a butcher who had come in 
without a coat to witness the administration of 
his country's laws, and who thus had his curi- 
osity exemplarily gratified. Times have changed 



30 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

also since the cellar beneath it was tenanted by 
the twin brothers Snow. Oyster-men were they 
indeed, silent in their subterranean burrow, and 
taking the ebbs and flows of custom with bivalv- 
ian serenity. Careless of the months with an 
R in them, the maxim of Snow (for we knew 
them but as a unit) was, " When 'ysters are 
good, they air good ; and when they ain't, they 
is ntr Grecian F. (may his shadow never be 
less !) tells this, his great laugh expected all the 
while from deep vaults of chest, and then com- 
ing in at the close, hearty, contagious, mounting 
with the measured tread of a jovial but stately 
butler who brings ancientest goodfellowship 
from exhaustless bins, and enough, without 
other sauce, to give a flavor of stalled ox to a 
dinner of herbs. Let me preserve here an an- 
ticipatory elegy upon the Snows, written years 
ago by some nameless college rhymer. 

DIFFUGERE NIVES 

Here lies, or lie, — decide the question, you. 

If they were two in one or one in two, — 

P. & S. Snow, whose memory shall not fade. 

Castor and Pollux of the oyster-trade: 

Hatched from one egg, at once the shell they burst 

(The last, perhaps, a P. S. to the first). 

So homoousian both in look and soul. 

So undiscernibly a single whole. 

That whether P. was S., or S. was P., 

Surpassed all skiU in etymology; 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 31 

One kept the shop at once, and all we know 

Is that together they were the Great Snow, 

A snow not deep, yet with a crust so thick 

It never melted to the son of Tick; 

Perpetual ? nay, our region was too low. 

Too warm, too southern, for perpetual Snow; 

Still, like fair Leda's sons, to whom 't was given 

To take their turns in Hades and in Heaven, 

Our Dioscuri new would bravely share 

The cellar's darkness and the upper air; 

Twice every year would each the shades escape. 

And, like a sea-bird, seek the wave-washed Cape, 

Where (Rumor voiced) one spouse sufficed for both; 

No bigamist, for she upon her oath. 

Unskilled in letters, could not make a guess 

At any difference twixt P. and S. — 

A thing not marvellous, since Fame agrees 

They were as little different as two peas. 

And she, like Paris, when his Helen laid 

Her hand 'mid snows from Ida's top conveyed 

To cool their wine of Chios, could not know. 

Between those rival candors, which was Snow. 

Whiche'er behind the counter chanced to be 

Oped oysters oft, his clam-shells seldom he; 

If e'er he laughed, *t was with no loud guffaw. 

The fun warmed through him with a gradual thaw: 

The nicer shades of wit were not his gift. 

Nor was it hard to sound Snow's simple drift; 

His were plain jokes, that many a time before 

Had set his tarry messmates in a roar. 

When floundering cod beslimed the deck's wet planks, — 

The humorous specie of Newfoundland Banks. 

But Snow is gone, and, let us hope, sleeps well. 
Buried (his last breath asked it) in a shell; 



32 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

Fate with an oyster-knife sawed off his thread. 
And planted him upon his latest bed. 

Him on the Stygian shore my fancy sees 
Noting choice shoals for oyster colonies. 
Or, at a board stuck full of ghostly forks. 
Opening for practice visionary Yorks. 
And whither he has gone, may we too go, — 
Since no hot place were fit for keeping Snow! 

Jam satis nivis. 

Cambridge has long had its port, but the 
greater part of its maritime trade was, thirty 
years ago, intrusted to a single Argo, the sloop 
Harvard, which belonged to the College, and 
made annual voyages to that vague Orient 
known as Down East, bringing back the wood 
that, in those days, gave to winter life at Har- 
vard a crackle and a cheerfulness, for the loss 
of which the greater warmth of anthracite hardly 
compensates. New England life, to be genuine, 
must have in it some sentiment of the sea, — it 
was this instinct that printed the device of the 
pine-tree on the old money and the old flag, — 
and these periodic ventures of the sloop Har- 
vard made the old Viking fibre vibrate in the 
hearts of all the village boys. What a perspec- 
tive of mystery and adventure did her sailing 
open to us ! With what pride did we hail her 
return ! She was our scholiast upon Robinson 
Crusoe and the mutiny of the Bounty. Her 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 33 

captain still lords it over our memories, the great- 
est sailor that ever sailed the seas, and we should 
not look at Sir John Franklin himself with such 
admiring interest as that with which we enhaloed 
some larger boy who had made a voyage in her, 
and had come back without braces [gallowses 
we called them) to his trousers, and squirting 
ostentatiously the juice of that weed which still 
gave him little private returns of something very 
like seasickness. All our shingle vessels were 
shaped and rigged by her, who was our glass of 
naval fashion and our mould of aquatic form. 
We had a secret and wild delight in believing 
that she carried a gun, and imagined her send- 
ing grape and canister among the treacherous 
savages of Oldtown. Inspired by her were those 
first essays at navigation on the Winthrop duck- 
pond, of the plucky boy who was afterwards to 
serve two famous years before the mast. 

The greater part of what is now Cambridge- 
port was then (in the native dialect) a huckleberry 
pastur. Woods were not wanting on its out- 
skirts, of pine, and oak, and maple, and the 
rarer tupelo with downward limbs. Its veins did 
not draw their blood from the quiet old heart 
of the village, but it had a distinct being of its 
own, and was rather a great caravansary than a 
suburb. The chief feature of the place was its 
inns, of which there were five, with vast barns 
and courtyards, which the railroad was to make 



34 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

as silent and deserted as the palaces of Nim- 
roud. Great white-topped wagons, each drawn 
by double files of six or eight horses, with its 
dusty bucket swinging from the hinder axle, and 
its grim bull-dog trotting silent underneath, or 
in midsummer panting on the lofty perch beside 
the driver (how elevated thither baffled conjec- 
ture), brought all the wares and products of the 
country to their mart and seaport in Boston. 
These filled the inn-yards, or were ranged side 
by side under broad-roofed sheds, and far into 
the night the mirth of their lusty drivers clam- 
ored from the red-curtained bar-room, while the 
single lantern, swaying to and fro in the black 
cavern of the stables, made a Rembrandt of the 
group of ostlers and horses below. There were, 
beside the taverns, some huge square stores 
where groceries were sold, some houses, by 
whom or why inhabited was to us boys a pro- 
blem, and, on the edge of the marsh, a currier's 
shop, where, at high tide, on a floating platform, 
men were always beating skins in a way to re- 
mind one of Don Quixote's fulling-mills. Nor 
did these make all the Port. As there is always 
a Coming Man who never comes, so there is a 
man who always comes (it may be only a quar- 
ter of an hour) too early. This man, so far as 
the Port is concerned, was Rufus Davenport. 
Looking at the marshy flats of Cambridge, and 
considering their nearness to Boston, he resolved 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 35 

that there should grow up a suburban Venice. 
Accordingly, the marshes were bought, canals 
were dug, ample for the commerce of both In- 
dies, and four or five rows of brick houses were 
built to meet the first wants of the wading set- 
tlers who were expected to rush in — whence ? 
This singular question had never occurred to 
the enthusiastic projector. There are laws which 
govern human migrations quite beyond the con- 
trol of the speculator, as many a man with de- 
sirable building-lots has discovered to his cost. 
Why mortal men will pay more for a chess- 
board square in that swamp than for an acre 
on the breezy upland close by, who shall say? 
And again, why, having shown such a passion 
for your swamp, they are so coy of mine^ who 
shall say ? Not certainly any one who, like 
Davenport, had got up too early for his gener- 
ation. If we could only carry that slow, im- 
perturbable old clock of Opportunity, that never 
strikes a second too soon or too late, in our fobs, 
and push the hands forward as we can those 
of our watches ! With a foreseeing economy of 
space which now seems ludicrous, the roofs 
of this forlorn hope of houses were made flat, 
that the swarming population might have where 
to dry their clothes. But a. u. c. 30 showed 
the same view as A. u. c. i, — only that the 
brick blocks looked as if they had been struck 
by a malaria. The dull weed upholstered the 



36 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

decaying wharves, and the only freight that 
heaped them was the kelp and eel-grass left by 
higherfloods. Insteadof a Venice, behold aTor- 
zelo ! The unfortunate projector took to the last 
refuge of the unhappy — book-making, and 
bored the reluctant public with what he called a 
right-aim Testament, prefaced by a recommen- 
dation from General Jackson, who perhaps, from 
its title, took it for some treatise on ball-practice. 
But even Cambridgeport, my dear Storg, did 
not want associations poetic and venerable. The 
stranger who took the "Hourly" at Old Cam- 
bridge, if he were a physiognomist and student 
of character, might perhaps have had his cu- 
riosity excited by a person who mounted the 
coach at the Port. So refined was his whole ap- 
pearance, so fastidiously neat his apparel, — but 
with a neatness that seemed less the result of 
care and plan than a something as proper to the 
man as whiteness to the lily, — that you would 
have at once classed him with those individuals, 
rarer than great captains and almost as rare as 
great poets, whom Nature sends into the world 
to fill the arduous office of Gentleman. Were 
you ever emperor of that Barataria which under 
your peaceful sceptre would present, of course, 
a model of government, this remarkable person 
should be Duke of Bienseance and Master of 
Ceremonies. There are some men whom destiny 
has endowed with the faculty of external neat- 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 37 

ness, whose clothes are repellent of dust and 
mud, whose unwithering white neck-cloths per- 
severe to the day's end, unappeasably seeing the 
sun go down upon their starch, and whose linen 
makes you fancy them heirs in the maternal 
line to the instincts of all the washerwomen 
from Eve downward. There are others whose 
inward natures possess this fatal cleanness, in- 
capable of moral dirt-spot. You are not long 
in discovering that the stranger combines in him- 
self both these properties. A nimbus of hair, 
fine as an infant's, and early white, showing re- 
finement of organization and the predominance 
of the spiritual over the physical, undulated and 
floated around a face that seemed like pale flame, 
and over which the flitting shades of expression 
chased each other, fugitive and gleaming as 
waves upon a field of rye. It was a countenance 
that, without any beauty of feature, was very 
beautiful. I have said that it looked like pale 
flame, and can find no other words for the im- 
pression it gave. Here was a man all soul, his 
body seeming a lamp of finest clay, whose ser- 
vice was to feed with magic oils, rare and fra- 
grant, that wavering fire which hovered over it. 
You, who are an adept in such matters, would 
have detected in the eyes that artist-look which 
seems to see pictures ever in the air, and which, 
if it fall on you, makes you feel as if all the 
world were a gallery, and yourself the rather 



38 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

indifferent Portrait of a Gentleman hung therein. 
As the stranger brushes by you in ahghting, 
you detect a single incongruity, — a smell of 
dead tobacco-smoke. You ask his name, and 
the answer is, " Mr. Allston." 

" Mr. Allston ! " and you resolve to note 
down at once in your diary every look, every 
gesture, every word of the great painter ? Not 
in the least. You have the true Anglo-Norman 
indifference, and most likely never think of 
him again till you hear that one of his pictures 
has sold for a great price, and then contrive to 
let your grandchildren know twice a week that 
you met him once in a coach, and that he said, 
" Excuse me, sir," in a very Titianesque man- 
ner, when he stumbled over your toes in get- 
ting out. Hitherto Boswell is quite as unique 
as Shakespeare. The country gentleman, jour- 
neying up to London, inquires of Mistress 
Davenant at the Oxford inn the name of 
his pleasant companion of the night before. 
" Master Shakespeare, an 't please your wor- 
ship." And the Justice, not without a sense 
of the unbending, says, " Truly, a merry and 
conceited gentleman ! " It is lucky for the peace 
of great men that the world seldom finds out 
contemporaneously who its great men are, or, 
perhaps, that each man esteems himself the for- 
tunate he who shall draw the lot of memory 
from the helmet of the future. Had the eyes 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 39 

of some Stratford burgess been achromatic 
telescopes, capable of a perspective of two hun- 
dred years ! But, even then, would not his re- 
cord have been fuller of says Fs than of says 
hes? Nevertheless, it is curious to consider 
from what infinitely varied points of view we 
might form our estimate of a great man's char- 
acter, when we remember that he had his points 
of contact with the butcher, the baker, and the 
candlestick-maker, as well as with the ingenious 
A, the sublime B, and the Right Honorable C. 
If it be true that no man ever clean forgets 
everything, and that the act of drowning (as is 
asserted) forthwith brightens up all those o'er- 
rusted impressions, would it not be a curious 
experiment, if, after a remarkable person's death, 
the public, eager for minutest particulars, should 
gather together all who had ever been brought 
into relations with him, and, submerging them 
to the hair's-breadth hitherward of the drown- 
ing-point, subject them to strict cross-examina- 
tion by the Humane Society, as soon as they 
become conscious between the resuscitating 
blankets ? All of us probably have brushed 
against destiny in the street, have shaken hands 
with it, fallen asleep with it in railway carriages, 
and knocked heads with it in some one or other 
of its yet unrecognized incarnations. 

Will it seem Hke presenting a tract to a col- 
porteur^ my dear Storg, if I say a word or two 



40 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

about an artist to you over there in Italy ? Be 
patient, and leave your button in my grasp yet 
a little longer. T. G. A., a person whose opin- 
ion is worth having, once said to me, that, how- 
ever one's notions might be modified by going 
to Europe, one always came back with a higher 
esteem for Allston. Certainly he is thus far the 
greatest English painter of historical subjects. 
And only consider how strong must have been 
the artistic bias in him, to have made him a 
painter at all under the circumstances. There 
were no traditions of art, so necessary for guid- 
ance and inspiration. Blackburn, Smibert, Cop- 
ley, Trumbull, Stuart, — it was, after all, but a 
Brentford sceptre which their heirs could aspire 
to, and theirs were not names to conjure with, 
like those from which Fame, as through a silver 
trumpet, had blown for three centuries. Copley 
and Stuart were both remarkable men ; but the 
one painted like an inspired silk-mercer, and 
the other, though at his best one of the great- 
est of portrait painters, seems sometimes to have 
mixed his colors with the claret of which he 
and his generation were so fond. And what 
could a successful artist hope for, at that time, 
beyond the mere wages of his work? His pic- 
ture would hang in cramped back parlors, be- 
tween deadly cross-fires of lights, sure of the 
garret or the auction-room ere long, in a coun- 
try where the nomad population carry no house- 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 41 

hold ■ gods with them but their five wits and 
their ten fingers. As a race, we care nothing 
about Art ; but the Puritan and the Quaker 
are the only Englishmen who have had pluck 
enough to confess it. If it were surprising that 
Allston should have become a painter at all, 
how almost miraculous that he should have 
been a great and original one ! I call him origi- 
nal deliberately, because, though his school be 
essentially Italian, it is of less consequence 
where a man buys his tools than what use he 
makes of them. Enough English artists went 
to Italy and came back painting history in a 
very Anglo-Saxon manner, and creating a school 
as melodramatic as the French, without its per- 
fection in technicalities. But Allston carried 
thither a nature open on the southern side, and 
brought it back so steeped in rich Italian sun- 
shine that the east winds (whether physical or 
Intellectual) of Boston and the dusts of Cam- 
bridgeport assailed it in vain. To that bare 
wooden studio one might go to breathe Vene- 
tian air, and, better yet, the very spirit wherein 
the elder brothers of Art labored, etherealized 
by metaphysical speculation, and sublimed by 
religious fervor. The beautiful old man ! Here 
was genius with no volcanic explosions (the 
mechanic result of vulgar gunpowder often), but 
lovely as a Lapland night ; here was fame, not 
sought after nor worn in any cheap French 



42 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

fashion as a ribbon at the buttonhole, but so 
gentle, so retiring, that it seemed no more than 
an assured and emboldened modesty; here was 
ambition, undebased by rivalry and incapable 
of the sidelong look ; and all these massed and 
harmonized together into a purity and depth 
of character, into a tone^ which made the daily 
life of the man the greatest masterpiece of the 
artist. 

But let us go back to the Old Town. Thirty 
years since, the Muster and the Cornwallis al- 
lowed some vent to those natural instincts which 
Puritanism scotched, but not killed. The Corn- 
wallis had entered upon the estates of the old 
Guy Fawkes procession, confiscated by the Re- 
volution. It was a masquerade, in which that 
grave and suppressed humor, of which the Yan- 
kees are fuller than other people, burst through 
all restraints, and disported itself in all the wild- 
est vagaries of fun. Commonly the Yankee in 
his pleasures suspects the presence of Public 
Opinion as a detective, and accordingly is apt 
to pinion himself in his Sunday suit. It is a 
curious commentary on the artificiality of our 
lives that men must be disguised and masked 
before they will venture into the obscurer cor- 
ners of their individuality, and display the true 
features of their nature. One remarked it in 
the Carnival, and one especially noted it here 
among a race naturally self-restrained ; for Silas 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 43 

and Ezra and Jonas were not only disguised as 
Redcoats, Continentals, and Indians, but not 
unfrequently disguised in drink also. It is a 
question whether the Lyceum, where the public 
is obliged to comprehend all vagrom men, sup- 
plies the place of the old popular amusements. 
A hundred and fifty years ago. Cotton Mather 
bewails the carnal attractions of the tavern and 
the training-field, and tells of an old Indian who 
imperfectly understood the English tongue, but 
desperately mastered enough of it (when under 
sentence of death) to express a desire for in- 
stant hemp rather than listen to any more 
ghostly consolations. Puritanism — I am per- 
fectly aware how great a debt we owe it — tried 
over again the old experiment of driving out 
nature with a pitchfork, and had the usual suc- 
cess. It was like a ship inwardly on fire, whose 
hatches must be kept hermetically battened 
down ; for the admittance of an ounce of 
Heaven's own natural air would explode it 
utterly. Morals can never be safely embodied 
in the constable. Polished, cultivated, fasci- 
nating Mephistopheles ! it is for the ungov- 
ernable breakings-away of the soul from un- 
natural compressions that thou waitest with a 
deprecatory smile. Then it is that thou offerest 
thy gentlemanly arm to unguarded youth for a 
pleasant stroll through the City of Destruction, 
and, as a special favor, introducest him to the 



44 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

bewitching Miss Circe, and to that model of 
the hospitable old English gentleman, Mr. 
Comus. 

But the Muster and the Cornwallis were not 
peculiar to Cambridge. Commencement day 
was. Saint Pedagogus was a worthy whose feast 
could be celebrated by men who quarrelled with 
minced-pies, and blasphemed custard through 
the nose. The holiday preserved all the fea- 
tures of an English fair. Stations were marked 
out beforehand by the town constables, and dis- 
tinguished by numbered stakes. These were 
assigned to the different venders of small wares 
and exhibitors of rarities, whose canvas booths, 
beginning at the market-place, sometimes half 
encircled the Common with their jovial embrace. 
Now all the Jehoiada-boxes in town were forced 
to give up their rattling deposits of specie, if 
not through the legitimate orifice, then to the 
brute force of the hammer. For hither were 
come all the wonders of the world, making the 
Arabian Nights seem possible, and these we be- 
held for half price ; not without mingled emo- 
tions, — pleasure at the economy, and shame 
at not paying the more manly fee. Here the 
mummy unveiled her withered charms, — a 
more marvellous Ninon, still attractive in her 
three-thousandth year. Here were the Siamese 
twins ; ah ! if all such forced and unnatural 
unions were made a show of! Here were the 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 45 

flying horses (their supernatural effect injured — 
like that of some poems — by the visibility of 
the man who turned the crank), on which, as 
we tilted at the ring, we felt our shoulders 
tingle with the accolade^ and heard the clink of 
golden spurs at our heels. Are the realities 
of life ever worth half so much as its cheats ? 
And are there any feasts half so filling at the 
price as those Barmecide ones spread for us 
by Imagination? Hither came the Canadian 
giant, surreptitiously seen, without price, as he 
alighted, in broad day (giants were always fool- 
ish), at the tavern. Hither came the great horse 
Columbus, with shoes two inches thick, and 
more wisely introduced by night. In the trough 
of the town-pump might be seen the mermaid, 
its poor monkey's head carefully sustained 
above water, to keep it from drowning. There 
were dwarfs, also, who danced and sang, and 
many a proprietor regretted the transaudient 
properties of canvas, which allowed the frugal 
public to share in the melody without entering 
the booth. Is it a slander of J. H., who reports 
that he once saw a deacon, eminent for psalm- 
ody, lingering near one of those vocal tents, 
and, with an assumed air of abstraction, fur- 
tively drinking in, with unhabitual ears, a song, 
not secular merely, but with a dash of libertin- 
ism ? The New England proverb says, " All 
deacons are good, but — there 's odds in dea- 



46 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

cons." On these days Snow became superter- 
ranean, and had a stand in the square, and 
Lewis temperately contended with the stronger 
fascinations of egg-pop. But space would fail 
me to make a catalogue of everything. No 
doubt, Wisdom also, as usual, had her quiet 
booth at the corner of some street, without en- 
trance-fee, and, even at that rate, got never a 
customer the whole day long. For the bank- 
rupt afternoon there were peep-shows, at a cent 
each. 

But all these shows and their showmen are as 
clean gone now as those of Caesar and Timour 
and Napoleon, for which the world paid dearer. 
They are utterly gone out, not leaving so much 
as a snuff behind, — as little thought of now as 
that John Robins, who was once so consider- 
able a phenomenon as to be esteemed the last 
great Antichrist and son of perdition by the en- 
tire sect of Muggletonians. Were Commence- 
ment what it used to be, I should be tempted 
to take a booth myself, and try an experiment 
recommended by a satirist of some merit, 
whose works were long ago dead and (I fear) 
deedeed to boot. 

<* Menenius, thou who fain wouldst know how calmly men 

can pass 
Those biting portraits of themselves, disguised as fox or 

ass. 
Go borrow coin enough to buy a full-length psyche-glass. 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 47 

Engage a rather darkish room in some well-sought position. 
And let the town break out with bills, so much per head ad- 
mission. 
Great natural curiosity ! ! The biggest living fool ! ! 
Arrange your mirror cleverly, before it set a stool. 
Admit the public one by one, place each upon the seat. 
Draw up the curtain, let him look his fill, and then retreat. 
Smith mounts and takes a thorough view, then comes serenely 

down. 
Goes home and tells his wife the thing is curiously like Brown; 
Brown goes and stares, and tells his wife the wonder's core 

and pith 
Is that 't is just the counterpart of that conceited Smith. 
Life calls us all to such a show: Menenius, trust in me. 
While thou to see thy neighbor smil'st, he does the same for 
thee." 

My dear Storg, would you come to my 
show, and, instead of looking in my glass, in- 
sist on taking your money's worth in staring at 
the exhibitor ? 

Not least among the curiosities which the 
day brought together were some of the gradu- 
ates, posthumous men, as it were, disentombed 
from country parishes and district schools, but 
perennial also, in whom freshly survived all the 
College jokes, and who had no intelligence later 
than their Senior year. These had gathered to 
eat the College dinner, and to get the Triennial 
Catalogue (their libro d'oro)^ referred to oftener 
than any volume but the Concordance. Aspir- 
ing men they were certainly, but in a right 
unworldly way ; this scholastic festival opening 



48 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

a peaceful path to the ambition which might 
else have devastated mankind with Prolusions 
on the Pentateuch, or Genealogies of the Dor- 
mouse Family. For since in the academic pro- 
cessions the classes are ranked in the order of 
their graduation, and he has the best chance at 
the dinner who has the fewest teeth to eat it 
with, so, by degrees, there springs up a com- 
petition in longevity, — the prize contended for 
being the oldest surviving graduateship. This 
is an office, it is true, without emolument, but 
having certain advantages, nevertheless. The 
incumbent, if he come to Commencement, is a 
prodigious lion, and commonly gets a paragraph 
in the newspapers once a year with the (fiftieth) 
last survivor of Washington's Life Guard. If 
a clergyman, he is expected to ask a blessing 
and return thanks at the dinner, a function 
which he performs with centenarian longanim- 
ity, as if he reckoned the ordinary life of man 
to be fivescore years, and that a grace must be 
long to reach so far away as heaven. Accord- 
ingly, this silent race is watched, on the course 
of the Catalogue, with an interest worthy of 
Newmarket ; and as star after star rises in the 
galaxy of death, till one name is left alone, an 
oasis of life in the stellar desert, it grows solemn. 
The natural feeling is reversed, and it is the 
solitary life that becomes sad and monitory, the 
Stylites there on the lonely top of his century 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 49 

pillar, who has heard the passing bell of youth, 
love, friendship, hope, — of everything but im- 
mitigable eld. 

Dr. K. was president of the University then, a 
man of genius, but of genius that evaded utiliza- 
tion, — a great water-power, but without rapids, 
and flowing with too smooth and gentle a current 
to be set turning wheels and whirUng spindles. 
His was not that restless genius of which the 
man seems to be merely the representative, and 
which wreaks itself in literature or politics, but 
of that milder sort, quite as genuine, and per- 
haps of more contemporaneous value, which is 
the man, permeating the whole life with placid 
force, and giving to word, look, and gesture a 
meaning only justifiable by our belief in a re- 
served power of latent reinforcement. The man 
of talents possesses them like so many tools, 
does his job with them, and there an end ; but 
the man of genius is possessed by it, and it 
makes him into a book or a life according to 
its whim. Talent takes the existing moulds, 
and makes its castings, better or worse, of richer 
or baser metal, according to knack and oppor- 
tunity ; but genius is always shaping new ones, 
and runs the man in them, so that there is al- 
ways that human feel in its results which gives 
us a kindred thrill. PThat it will make, we can 
only conjecture, contented always with knowing 
the infinite balance of possibility against which 



50 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

it can draw at pleasure. Have you ever seen 
a man whose check would be honored for a 
million pay his toll of one cent ? and has not 
that bit of copper, no bigger than your own, 
and piled with it by the careless toll-man, given 
you a tingling vision of what golden bridges he 
could pass, — into what Elysian regions of 
taste and enjoyment and culture, barred to the 
rest of us ? Something like it is the impression 
made by such characters as K.'s on those who 
come in contact with them. 

There was that in the soft and rounded (I 
had almost said melting) outlines of his face 
which reminded one of Chaucer. The head 
had a placid yet dignified droop like his. He 
was an anachronism, fitter to have been Abbot 
of Fountains or Bishop Golias, courtier and 
priest, humorist and lord spiritual, all in one, 
than for the mastership of a provincial college, 
which combined, with its purely scholastic func- 
tions, those of accountant and chief of police. 
For keeping books he was incompetent (unless 
it were those he borrowed), and the only dis- 
cipline he exercised was by the unobtrusive 
pressure of a gentlemanliness which rendered 
insubordination to him impossible. But the 
world always judges a man (and rightly enough, 
too) by his little faults, which he shows a hun- 
dred times a day, rather than by his great vir- 
tues, which he discloses perhaps but once in a 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 51 

lifetime, and to a single person, — nay, in pro- 
portion as they are rarer, and he is nobler, is 
shyer of letting their existence be known at all. 
He was one of those misplaced persons whose 
misfortune it is that their lives overlap two dis- 
tinct eras, and are already so impregnated with 
one that they can never be in healthy sym- 
pathy with the other. Born when the New 
England clergy were still an establishment and 
an aristocracy, and when office was almost al- 
ways for life, and often hereditary, he lived to 
be thrown upon a time when avocations of all 
colors might be shuffled together in the life of 
one man, like a pack of cards, so that you 
could not prophesy that he who was ordained 
to-day might not accept a colonelcy of filibus- 
ters to-morrow. Such temperaments as his at- 
tach themselves, like barnacles, to what seems 
permanent ; but presently the good ship Pro- 
gress weighs anchor, and whirls them away from 
drowsy tropic inlets to arctic waters of unnatural 
ice. To such crustaceous natures, created to 
cling upon the immemorial rock amid softest 
mosses, comes the bustling Nineteenth Cen- 
tury and says, " Come, come, bestir yourself 
and be practical ! get out of that old shell of 
yours forthwith ! " Alas ! to get out of the 
shell is to die ! 

One of the old travellers in South Amer- 
ica tells of fishes that built their nests in trees 



52 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

(piscium et summa haesit genus ulmd)^ and gives a 
print of the mother fish upon her nest, while her 
mate mounts perpendicularly to her without aid 
of legs or wings. Life shows plenty of such in- 
congruities between a man's place and his nature 
(not so easily got over as by the traveller's un- 
doubting engraver), and one cannot help fancying 
that K. was an instance in point. He never en- 
countered, one would say, the attraction proper 
to draw out his native force. Certainly, few men 
who impressed others so strongly, and of whom 
so many good things are remembered, left less 
behind them to justify contemporary estimates. 
He printed nothing, and was perhaps one of 
those the electric sparkles of whose brains, dis- 
charged naturally and healthily in conversation, 
refuse to pass through the non-conducting me- 
dium of the inkstand. His ana would make a 
delightful collection. One or two of his official 
ones will be in place here. Hearing that Porter's 
flip (which was exemplary) had too great an at- 
traction for the collegians, he resolved to inves- 
tigate the matter himself Accordingly, entering 
the old inn one day, he called for a mug of it, 
and, having drunk it,said, " And so, Mr. Porter, 
the young gentlemen come to drink your flip, 
do they?" "Yes,sir, — sometimes." "Ah, well, 
I should think they would. Good-day, Mr. 
Porter," and departed, saying nothing more ; 
for he always wisely allowed for the existence of 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 53 

a certain amount of human nature in ingenuous 
youth. At another time the " Harvard Wash- 
ington" asked leave to go into Boston to a col- 
lation which had been offered them. "Certainly, 
young gentlemen," said the president, " but 
have you engaged any one to bring home your 
muskets ? " — the College being responsible for 
these weapons, which belonged to the state. 
Again, when a student came with a physician's 
certificate, and asked leave of absence, K. granted 
it at once, and then added, " By the way, Mr. 

, persons interested in the relation which 

exists between states of the atmosphere and 
health have noticed a curious fact in regard to 
the climate of Cambridge, especially within the 
College limits, — the very small number of 
deaths in proportion to the cases of dangerous 
illness." This is told of Judge W., himself 
a wit, and capable of enjoying the humorous 
delicacy of the reproof. 

Shall I take Brahmin Alcott's favorite word, 
and call him a daemonic man ? No, the Latin 
genius is quite old-fashioned enough for me, 
means the same thing, and its derivative geniality 
expresses, moreover, the base of K.'s being. 
How he suggested cloistered repose, and quad- 
rangles mossy with centurial associations ! How 
easy he was, and how without creak was every 
movement of his mind ! This life was good 
enough for him, and the next not too good. 



54 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

The gentleman-like pervaded even his prayers. 
His were not the manners of a man of the world, 
nor of a man of the other world either ; but both 
met in him to balance each other in a beautiful 
equilibrium. Praying, he leaned forward upon 
the pulpit-cushion as for conversation, and 
seemed to feel himself (without irreverence) on 
terms of friendly, but courteous, familiarity with 
Heaven, The expression of his face was that of 
tranquil contentment, and he appeared less to 
be supplicating expected mercies than thankful 
for those already found, — as if he were saying 
the gratias in the refectory of the Abbey of 
Theleme. Under him flourished the Harvard 
Washington Corps, whose gyrating banner, in- 
scribed 'Tarn Marti quam Mercurio {atqui magis 
Lyaeo should have been added), on the evening 
of training-days, was an accurate dynamometer 
of Willard's punch or Porter's flip. It was they 
who, after being royally entertained by a maiden 
lady of the town, entered in their orderly book 
a vote that Miss Blank was a gentleman. I see 
them now, returning from the imminent deadly 
breach of the law of Rechab,unable to form other 
than the serpentine line of beauty, while their 
officers, brotherly rather than imperious, instead 
of reprimanding, tearfully embraced the more 
eccentric wanderers from military precision. 
Under him the Med. Facs. took their equal place 
among the learned societies of Europe, number- 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 55 

ing among their grateful honorary members 
Alexander, Emperor of all the Russias, who (if 
College legends may be trusted) sent them in 
return for their diploma a gift of medals confis- 
cated by the authorities. Under him the Col- 
lege fire-engine was vigilant and active in sup- 
pressing any tendency to spontaneous combus- 
tion among the Freshmen, or rushed wildly to 
imaginary conflagrations, generally in a direc- 
tion where punch was to be had. All these 
useful conductors for the natural electricity of 
youth, dispersing it or turning it harmlessly into 
the earth, are taken away now, — wisely or not, 
is questionable. 

An academic town, in whose atmosphere there 
is always something antiseptic, seems naturally 
to draw to itself certain varieties and to preserve 
certain humors (in the Ben Jonsonian sense) of 
character, — men who come not to study so 
much as to be studied. At the headquarters of 
Washington once, and now of the Muses, lived 
C , but before the date of these recollec- 
tions. Here for seven years (as the law was 
then) he made his house his castle, sunning 
himself in his elbow-chair at the front door, on 
that seventh day, secure from every arrest but 
Death's. Here long survived him his turbaned 
widow, studious only of Spinoza, and refusing 
to molest the canker-worms that annually dis- 
leaved her elms, because we were all vermicular 



56 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

alike. She had been a famous beauty once, but 
the canker years had left her leafless, too ; and 
I used to wonder, as I saw her sitting always 
turbaned and always alone at her accustomed 
window, whether she were ever visited by the 
reproachful shade of him who (in spite of 
Rosalind) died broken-hearted for her in her 
radiant youth. 

And this reminds me of J. F., who, also 
crossed in love, allowed no mortal eye to be- 
hold his face for many years. The eremitic in- 
stinct is not peculiar to the Thebais, as many 
a New England village can testify; and it is 
worthy of consideration that the Romish 
Church has not forgotten this among her other 
points of intimate contact with human nature. 
F. became purely vespertinal, never stirring 
abroad till after dark. He occupied two rooms, 
migrating from one to the other, as the neces- 
sities of housewifery demanded, thus shunning 
all sight of womankind, and being practically 
more solitary in his dual apartment than Mon- 
taigne's Dean of St. Hilaire in his single one. 
When it was requisite that he should put his 
signature to any legal instrument (for he was 
an anchorite of ample means), he wrapped him- 
self in a blanket, allowing nothing to be seen 
but the hand which acted as scribe. What im- 
pressed us boys more than anything else was 
the rumor that he had suffered his beard to 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 57 

grow, — such an anti-Sheffieldism being almost 
unheard of in those days, and the peculiar or- 
nament of man being associated in our minds 
with nothing more recent than the patriarchs 
and apostles, whose effigies we were obliged to 
solace ourselves with weekly in the Family 
Bible. He came out of his oysterhood at last, 
and I knew him well, a kind-hearted man, who 
gave annual sleigh-rides to the town paupers, 
and supplied the poorer children with school- 
books. His favorite topic of conversation was 
Eternity, and, like many other worthy persons, 
he used to fancy that meaning was an affair of 
aggregation, and that he doubled the intensity 
of what he said by the sole aid of the multipli- 
cation-table. " Eternity ! " he used to say, " it 
is not a day ; it is not a year ; it is not a hun- 
dred years ; it is not a thousand years ; it is not 
a million years ; no, sir " (the sir being thrown 
in to recall wandering attention), " it is not ten 
million years ! " and so on, his enthusiasm be- 
coming a mere frenzy when he got among his 
sextillions, till I sometimes wished he had con- 
tinued in retirement. He used to sit at the 
open window during thunder-storms, and had a 
Grecian feeling about death by lightning. In 
a certain sense he had his desire, for he died 
suddenly, — not by fire from heaven, but by the 
red flash of apoplexy, leaving his whole estate 
to charitable uses. 



58 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

If K. were out of place as president, that 
was not P. as Greek professor. Who that ever 
saw him can forget him, in his old age, like a 
lusty winter, frosty but kindly, with great silver 
spectacles of the heroic period, such as scarce 
twelve noses of these degenerate days could 
bear? He was a natural celibate, not dwelling 
" like the fly in the heart of the apple," but 
like a lonely bee rather, absconding himself in 
Hymettian flowers, incapable of matrimony as 
a solitary palm-tree. There was, to be sure, a 
tradition of youthful disappointment, and a 
touching story which L. told me perhaps con- 
firms it. When Mrs. died, a carriage with 

blinds drawn followed the funeral train at some 
distance, and, when the coffin had been lowered 
into the grave, drove hastily away to escape 
that saddest of earthly sounds, the first rattle 
of earth upon the lid. It was afterward known 
that the carriage held a single mourner, — our 
grim and undemonstrative professor. Yet I 
cannot bring myself to suppose him susceptible 
to any tender passion after that single lapse in 
the immaturity of reason. He might have 
joined the Abderites in singing their mad chorus 
from the Andromeda ; but it would have been 
in deference to the language merely, and with 
a silent protest against the sentiment. I fancy 
him arranging his scrupulous toilet, not for 
Amaryllis or Neaera, but, like Machiavelli, for 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 59 

the society of his beloved classics. His ears 
had needed no prophylactic wax to pass the 
Sirens' isle ; nay, he would have kept them the 
wider open, studious of the dialect in which 
they sang, and perhaps triumphantly detecting 
the tEoIIc digamma in their lay. A thoroughly 
single man, single-minded, single-hearted, but- 
toning over his single heart a single-breasted 
surtout, and wearing always a hat of a single 
fashion, — did he in secret regard the dual 
number of his favorite language as a weakness ? 
The son of an officer of distinction in the Revo- 
lutionary War, he mounted the pulpit with 
the erect port of a soldier, and carried his cane 
more in the fashion of a weapon than a staff, 
but with the point lowered, in token of surren- 
der to the peaceful proprieties of his calling. 
Yet sometimes the martial instincts would burst 
the cerements of black coat and clerical neck- 
cloth, as once, when the students had got into 
a fight upon the training-field, and the licen- 
tious soldiery, furious with rum, had driven 
them at point of bayonet to the College gates, 
and even threatened to lift their arms against 
the Muses' bower. Then, like Major GofFe at 
Deerfield, suddenly appeared the gray-haired 
P., all his father resurgent in him, and shouted : 
" Now, my lads, stand your ground, you 're in 
the right now ! Don't let one of them set foot 
within the College grounds ! " Thus he allowed 



6o CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

arms to get the better of the toga ; but raised it, 
like the Prophet's breeches, into a banner, and 
carefully ushered resistance with a preamble of 
infringed right. Fidelity was his strong charac- 
teristic, and burned equably in him through a 
life of eighty-three years. He drilled himself 
till inflexible habit stood sentinel before all 
those postern weaknesses which temperament 
leaves unbolted to temptation. A lover of the 
scholar's herb, yet loving freedom more, and 
knowing that the animal appetites ever hold 
one hand behind them for Satan to drop a bribe 
in, he would never have two cigars in his house 
at once, but walked every day to the shop to 
fetch his single diurnal solace. Nor would he 
trust himself with two on Saturdays, preferring 
(since he could not violate the Sabbath even 
by that infinitesimal traffic) to depend on Provi- 
dential ravens, which were seldom wanting in 
the shape of some black-coated friend who 
knew his need, and honored the scruple that 
occasioned it. He was faithful, also, to his old 
hats, in which appeared the constant service of 
the antique world, and which he preserved for- 
ever, piled like a black pagoda under his dress- 
ing-table. No scarecrow was ever the residu- 
ary legatee of his beavers, though one of them 
in any of the neighboring peach-orchards would 
have been sovereign against an attack of Fresh- 
men. He wore them all in turn, getting through 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 6i 

all in the course of the year, like the sun 
through the signs of the zodiac, modulating 
them according to seasons and celestial pheno- 
mena, so that never was spider-web or chick- 
weed so sensitive a weather-gauge as they. Nor 
did his political party find him less loyal. 
Taking all the tickets, he would seat himself 
apart, and carefully compare them with the list 
of regular nominations as printed in his Daily 
Advertiser, before he dropped his ballot in the 
box. In less ambitious moments, it almost 
seems to me that I would rather have had that 
slow, conscientious vote of P.'s alone, than to 
have been chosen Alderman of the ward ! 

If you had walked to what was then Sweet 
Auburn by the pleasant Old Road, on some 
June morning thirty years ago, you would very 
likely have met two other characteristic persons, 
both phantasmagoric now, and belonging to 
the past. Fifty years earlier, the scarlet-coated, 
rapiered figures of Vassall, Lechmere, Oliver, 
and Brattle creaked up and down there on red- 
heeled shoes, lifting the ceremonious three-cor- 
nered hat, and offering the fugacious hospitali- 
ties of the snuff-box. They are all shadowy alike 
now, not one of your Etruscan Lucumos or 
Roman Consuls more so, my dear Storg. First 
is W., his queue slender and tapering, like the 
tail of a violet crab, held out horizontally by 
the high collar of his shepherd's-gray overcoat. 



62 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

whose style was of the latest when he studied 
at Leyden in his hot youth. The age of cheap 
clothes sees no more of those faithful old gar- 
ments, as proper to their wearers and as dis- 
tinctive as the barks of trees, and by long use 
interpenetrated with their very nature. Nor do 
we see so many Humors (still in the old sense) 
now that every man's soul belongs to the 
Public, as when social distinctions were more 
marked, and men felt that their personalities 
were their castles, in which they could intrench 
themselves against the world. Nowadays men 
are shy of letting their true selves be seen, as 
if in some former life they had committed a 
crime, and were all the time afraid of discovery 
and arrest in this. Formerly they used to insist 
on your giving the wall to their peculiarities, 
and you may still find examples of it in the par- 
son or the doctor of retired villages. One of 
W.'s oddities was touching. A little brook used 
to run across the street, and the sidewalk was 
carried over it by a broad stone. Of course 
there is no brook now. What use did that little 
glimpse of a ripple serve, where the children used 
to launch their chip fleets ? W., in going over 
this stone, which gave a hollow resonance to the 
tread, had a trick of striking upon it three times 
with his cane, and muttering, " Tom, Tom, 
Tom ! " I used to think he was only mimick- 
ing with his voice the sound of the blows, and 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 63 

possibly it was that sound which suggested his 
thought, for he was remembering a favorite 
nephew, prematurely dead. Perhaps Tom had 
sailed his boats there ; perhaps the reverbera- 
tion under the old man's foot hinted at the hol- 
lowness of life ; perhaps the fleeting eddies of 
the water brought to mind the fugaces annos. 
W.,like P., wore amazing spectacles, fit to trans- 
mit no smaller image than the page of mightiest 
folios of Dioscorides or Hercules de Saxonia, 
and rising full-disked upon the beholder like 
those prodigies of two moons at once, portend- 
ing change to monarchs. The great collar dis- 
allowing any independent rotation of the head, 
I remember he used to turn his whole person 
in order to bring their /on to bear upon an ob- 
ject. One can fancy that terrified Nature would 
have yielded up her secrets at once, without 
cross-examination, at their first glare. Through 
them he had gazed fondly into the great mare's- 
nest of Junius, publishing his observations upon 
the eggs found therein in a tall octavo. It was 
he who introduced vaccination to this Western 
World. Malicious persons disputing his claim 
to this distinction, he published this advertise- 
ment : " Lost, a gold snuff-box, with the inscrip- 
tion, * The Jenner of the Old World to the 
Jennerof the New.' Whoever shall return the 

same to Dr. shall be suitably rewarded." 

It was never returned. Would the search after 



64 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

it have been as fruitless as that of the alchemist 
after his equally imaginary gold ? Malicious 
persons persisted in believing the box as vision- 
ary as the claim it was meant to buttress with a 
semblance of reality. He used to stop and say 
good-morning kindly, and pat the shoulder of 
the blushing school-boy who now, with the 
fierce snow-storm wildering without, sits and 
remembers sadly those old meetings and part- 
ings in the June sunshine. 

Then there was S., whose resounding "Haw, 
haw, haw ! by Shorge ! " positively enlarged the 
income of every dweller in Cambridge. In 
downright, honest good cheer and good neigh- 
borhood, it was worth five hundred a year to 
every one of us. Its jovial thunders cleared the 
mental air of every sulky cloud. Perpetual 
childhood dwelt in him, the childhood of his 
native Southern France, and its fixed air was all 
the time bubbling up and sparkling and wink- 
ing in his eyes. It seemed as if his placid old 
face were only a mask behind which a merry 
Cupid had ambushed himself, peeping out all 
the while, and ready to drop it when the play 
grew tiresome. Every word he uttered seemed 
to be hilarious, no matter what the occasion. If 
he were sick, and you visited him, if he had met 
with a misfortune (and there are few men so 
wise that they can look even at the back of a 
retiring sorrow with composure), it was all one; 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 65 

his great laugh went off as if it were set like an 
alarm-clock, to run down, whether he would or 
no, at a certain nick. Even after an ordinary 
Good-morning ! (especially if to an old pupil, and 
in French), the wonderful "Haw, haw, haw! by 
Shorge ! " would burst upon you unexpectedly, 
like a salute of artillery on some holiday which 
you had forgotten. Everything was a joke to 
him, — that the oath of allegiance had been 
administered to him by your grandfather, — 
that he had taught Prescott his first Spanish (of 
which he was proud), — no matter what. Every- 
thing came to him marked by Nature Right 
side up^ with care, and he kept it so. The world 
to him, as to all of us, was like a medal, on the 
obverse of which is stamped the image of Joy, 
and on the reverse that of Care. S. never took 
the foolish pains to look at that other side, even 
if he knew its existence ; much less would it 
have occurred to him to turn it into view, and 
insist that his friends should look at it with him. 
Nor was this a mere outside good humor ; its 
source was deeper, in a true Christian kindliness 
and amenity. Once, when he had been knocked 
down by a tipsily driven sleigh, and was urged 
to prosecute the offenders, " No, no," he said, 
his wounds still fresh, " young blood ! young 
blood ! it must have its way ; I was young my- 
self." Was ! few men come into life so young 
as S. went out. He landed in Boston (then the 



66 CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO 

front door of America) in 'g^, ^.nd, in honor of 
the ceremony, had his head powdered afresh, 
and put on a suit of court-mourning for Louis 
XVI. before he set foot on the wharf. My fancy 
always dressed him in that violet silk, and his 
soul certainly wore a full court-suit. What was 
there ever like his bow ? It was as if you had 
received a decoration, and could write yourself 
gentleman from that day forth. His hat rose, 
regreeting your own, and, having sailed through 
the stately curve of the old regime, sank gently 
back over that placid brain, which harbored no 
thought less white than the powder which cov- 
ered it. I have sometimes imagined that there 
was a graduated arc over his head, invisible to 
other eyes than his, by which he meted out to 
each his rightful share of castorial consideration. 
I carry in my memory three exemplary bows. 
The first is that of an old beggar, who, already 
carrying in his hand a white hat, the gift of 
benevolence, took off the black one from his 
head also, and profoundly saluted me with both 
at once, giving me, in return for my alms, a 
dual benediction, puzzling as a nod from Janus 
Bifrons. The second I received from an old 
cardinal, who was taking his walk just outside 
the Porta San Gjovanni at Rome. I paid him 
the courtesy due to his age and rank. Forth- 
with rose, first, t/ie Hat ; second, the hat of his 
confessor; third, that of another priest who 



CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO e-j 

attended him ; fourth, the fringed cocked hat 
of his coachman ; fifth and sixth, the ditto, ditto, 
of his two footmen. Here was an investment, 
indeed ; six hundred per cent, interest on a 
single bow ! The third bow, worthy to be noted 
in one's almanac among the other mirabiliay was 
that of S., in which courtesy had mounted to 
the last round of her ladder, — and tried to 
draw it up after her. 

But the genial veteran is gone even while I 
am writing this, and I will play Old Mortality 
no longer. Wandering among these recent 
graves, my dear friend, we may chance upon 

; but no, I will not end my sentence. I 

bid you heartily farewell ! 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

1853 

ADDRESSED TO THE EDELMANN STORG AT THE 
BAGNI DI LUCCA 

THURSDAY, nth August. — I knew 
as little yesterday of the interior of 
Maine as the least penetrating person 
knows of the inside of that great social mill- 
stone which, driven by the river Time, sets 
imperatively a-going the several wheels of our 
individual activities. Born while Maine was 
still a province of native Massachusetts, I was 
as much a foreigner to it as yourself, my dear 
Storg. I had seen many lakes, ranging from 
that of Virgil's Cumaean to that of Scott's Cale- 
donian Lady ; but Moosehead, within two days 
of me, had never enjoyed the profit of being 
mirrored in my retina. At the sound of the 
name, no reminiscential atoms (according to 
Kenelm Digby's Theory of Association, — as 
good as any) stirred and marshalled themselves 
in my brain. The truth is, we think lightly of 
Nature's penny shows, and estimate what we 
see by the cost of the ticket. Empedocles gave 



72 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

his life for a pit entrance to ^tna, and no doubt 
found his account in it. Accordingly, the clean 
face of Cousin Bull is imaged patronizingly in 
Lake George, and Loch Lomond glasses the 
hurried countenance of Jonathan, diving deeper 
in the streams of European association (and 
coming up drier) than any other man. Or is the 
cause of our not caring to see what is equally 
within the reach of all our neighbors to be 
sought in that aristocratic principle so deeply 
implanted in human nature ? I knew a pauper 
graduate who always borrowed a black coat, 
and came to eat the Commencement dinner, — 
not that it was better than the one which daily 
graced the board of the public institution in 
which he hibernated (so to speak) during the 
other three hundred and sixty-four days of the 
year, save in this one particular, that none of 
his eleemosynary fellow commoners could eat 
it. If there are unhappy men who wish that 
they were as the Babe Unborn, there are more 
who would aspire to the lonely distinction of 
being that other figurative personage, the Old- 
est Inhabitant. You remember the charming 
irresolution of our dear Esthwaite (like Mac- 
heath between his two doxies), divided between 
his theory that he is under thirty, and his pride 
at being the only one of us who witnessed the 
September gale and the rejoicings at the Peace ? 
Nineteen years ago I was walking through the 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 73 

Franconia Notch, and stopped to chat with a 
hermit, who fed with gradual logs the unwearied 
teeth of a saw-mill. As the strident steel sHt 
off the slabs of the log, so did the less willing 
machine of talk, acquiring a steadier up-and- 
down motion, pare away that outward bark of 
conversation which protects the core, and which, 
like other bark, has naturally most to do with 
the weather, the season, and the heat of the 
day. At length I asked him the best point of 
view for the Old Man of the Mountain. 

" Dunno, — never see it." 

Too young and too happy either to feel or 
affect the Horatian indifference, I was sincerely 
astonished, and I expressed it. 

The log-compelling man attempted no justi- 
fication, but after a little asked, " Come from 
Baws'n ? " 

" Yes " (with peninsular pride). 

" Goodie to see in the vycinity o' Baws'n." 

" Oh, yes ! " I said; and I thought, — see 
Boston and die ! see the State Houses, old and 
new, the caterpillar wooden bridges crawling with 
innumerable legs across the flats of Charles ; see 
the Common, — largest park, doubtless, in the 
world, — with its files of trees planted as if by 
a drill-sergeant, and then for your nunc dimittis! 

" I should like, 'awl, I should like to stan' on 
Bunker Hill. You 've ben there offen, likely ? " 

" N-o-o," unwillingly, seeing the little end of 



74 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

the horn in clear vision at the terminus of this 
Socratic perspective^ 

" 'Awl, my young frien', you 've larned neow 
thet wut a man kin see any day for nawthin', 
childern half price, he never doos see. Nawthin' 
pay, nawthin' vally." 

With this modern instance of a wise saw, I 
departed, deeply revolving these things with 
myself, and convinced that, whatever the ratio 
of population, the average amount of human 
nature to the square mile differs little the world 
over. I thought of it when I saw people upon 
the Pincian wondering at the alchemist sun, as 
if he never burned the leaden clouds to gold in 
sight of Charles Street. I thought of it when I 
found eyes first discovering at Mont Blanc how 
beautiful snow was. As I walked on, I said to 
myself. There is one exception, wise hermit, — 
it is just these gratis pictures which the poet 
puts in his show-box, and which we all gladly 
pay Wordsworth and the rest for a peep at. 
The divine faculty is to see what everybody 
can look at. 

While every well-informed man in Europe, 
from the barber down to the diplomatist, has 
his view of the Eastern Question, why should 
I not go personally down East and see for my- 
self? Why not, like Tancred, attempt my own 
solution of the Mystery of the Orient, — 
doubly mysterious when you begin the two 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 75 

words with capitals ? You know my way of 
doing things, to let them simmer in my mind 
gently for months, and at last do them im- 
promptu in a kind of desperation, driven by the 
Eumenides of unfulfilled purpose. So, after 
talking about Moosehead till nobody believed 
me capable of going thither, I found myself at 
the Eastern Railway station. The only event 
of the journey hither (I am now at Waterville) 
was a boy hawking exhilaratingly the last great 
railroad smash, — thirteen lives lost, — and no 
doubt devoutly wishing there had been fifty. 
This having a mercantile interest in horrors, 
holding stock, as it were, in murder, misfortune, 
and pestilence, must have an odd effect on the 
human mind. The birds of ill omen, at whose 
sombre flight the rest of the world turn pale, 
are the ravens which bring food to this little 
outcast in the wilderness. If this lad give thanks 
for daily bread, it would be curious to inquire 
what that phrase represents to his understanding. 
If there ever be a plum in it, it is Sin or Death 
that puts it in. Other details of my dreadful 
ride I will spare you. Suffice it that I arrived 
here in safety, — in complexion like an Ethio- 
pian serenader half got-up, and so broiled and 
peppered that I was more like a devilled kid- 
ney than anything else I can think of. 

10 p. M. — The civil landlord and neat 
chamber at the " Elmwood House " were very 



76 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

grateful, and after tea I set forth to explore the 
town. It has a good chance of being pretty ; 
but, like most American towns, it is in a hob- 
bledehoy age, growing yet, and one cannot tell 
what may happen. A child with great promise 
of beauty is often spoiled by its second teeth. 
There is something agreeable in the sense of 
completeness which a walled town gives one. 
It is entire, like a crystal, — a work which man 
has succeeded in finishing. I think the human 
mind pines more or less where everything is 
new, and is better for a diet of stale bread. The 
number of Americans who visit the Old World, 
and the deep inspirations with which they 
breathe the air of antiquity, as if their mental 
lungs had been starved with too thin an atmo- 
sphere, is beginning to aflford matter of specu- 
lation to observant Europeans. For my own 
part, I never saw a house which I thought old 
enough to be torn down. It is too like that 
Scythian fashion of knocking old people on the 
head. I cannot help thinking that the indefin- 
able something which we call character is cumu- 
lative, — that the influence of the same climate, 
scenery, and associations for several generations 
is necessary to its gathering head, and that the 
process is disturbed by continual change of 
place. The American is nomadic in religion, in 
ideas, in morals, and leaves his faith and opinions 
with as much indifference as the house in which 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL n 

he was born. However, we need not bother : 
Nature takes care not to leave out of the great 
heart of society either of its two ventricles of 
hold-back and go-ahead. 

It seems as if every considerable American 
town must have its one specimen of everything, 
and so there is a college in Waterville, the build- 
ings of which are three in number, of brick, and 
quite up to the average ugliness which seems 
essential in edifices of this description. Un- 
happily, they do not reach that extreme of ugli- 
ness where it and beauty come together in the 
clasp of fascination. We erect handsomer fac- 
tories for cottons, woollens, and steam-engines, 
than for doctors, lawyers, and parsons. The 
truth is, that, till our struggle with Nature is 
over, till this shaggy hemisphere is tamed and 
subjugated, the workshop will be the college 
whose degrees will be the most valued. More- 
over, steam has made travel so easy that the 
great university of the world is open to all 
comers, and the old cloister system is falling 
astern. Perhaps it is only the more needed, 
and, were I rich, I should like to found a few 
lazyships in my Alma Mater as a kind of 
counterpoise. The Anglo-Saxon race has ac- 
cepted the primal curse as a blessing, has deified 
work, and would not have thanked Adam for 
abstaining from the apple. They would have 
dammed the four rivers of Paradise, substituted 



78 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

cotton for fig-leaves among the antediluvian 
populations, and commended man's first dis- 
obedience as a wise measure of political econ- 
omy. But to return to our college. We cannot 
have fine buildings till we are less in a hurry. 
We snatch an education like a meal at a rail- 
road station. Just in time to make us dyspep- 
tic, the whistle shrieks, and we must rush, or 
lose our places in the great train of life. Yet 
noble architecture is one element of patriotism, 
and an eminent one of culture, the finer portions 
of which are taken in by unconscious absorp- 
tion through the pores of the mind from the 
surrounding atmosphere. I suppose we must 
wait, for we are a great bivouac as yet, rather 
than a nation on the march from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific, and pitch tents instead of build- 
ing houses. Our very villages seem to be in 
motion, following westward the bewitching 
music of some Pied Piper of Hamelin. We 
still feel the great push toward sundown given 
to the peoples somewhere in the gray dawn of 
history. The cliff-swallow alone of all animated 
nature emigrates eastward. 

Friday, I2th. — The coach leaves Waterville 
at five o'clock in the morning, and one must 
breakfast in the dark at a quarter past four, be- 
cause a train starts at twenty minutes before 
five, — the passengers by both conveyances be- 
ing pastured gregariously. So one must be up 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 79 

at half past three. The primary geological for- 
mations contain no trace of man, and it seems 
to me that these eocene periods of the day are 
not fitted for sustaining the human forms of 
life. One of the Fathers held that the sun was 
created to be worshipped at his rising by the 
Gentiles. The more reason that Christians (ex- 
cept, perhaps, early Christians) should abstain 
from these heathenish ceremonials. As one ar- 
riving by an early train is welcomed by a drowsy 
maid with the sleep scarce brushed out of her 
hair, and finds empty grates and polished ma- 
hogany, on whose arid plains the pioneers of 
breakfast have not yet encamped, so a person 
waked thus unseasonably is sent into the world 
before his faculties are up and dressed to serve 
him. It might have been for this reason that 
my stomach resented for several hours a piece 
of fried beefsteak which I forced upon it, or, 
more properly speaking, a piece of that leathern 
conveniency which in these regions assumes the 
name. You will find it as hard to believe, my 
dear Storg, as that quarrel of the Sorbonists, 
whether one should say ego amat or no, that the 
use of the gridiron is unknown hereabout, and 
so near a river named after St. Lawrence, too ! 
To-day has been the hottest day of the sea- 
son, yet our drive has not been unpleasant. 
For a considerable distance we followed the 
course of the Sebasticook River, a pretty stream 



8o A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

with alternations of dark brown pools and wine- 
colored rapids. On each side of the road the 
land had been cleared, and little one-story farm- 
houses were scattered at intervals. But the 
stumps still held out in most of the fields, and 
the tangled wilderness closed in behind, striped 
here and there with the slim white trunks of 
the elm. As yet only the edges of the great 
forest have been nibbled away. Sometimes a 
root-fence stretched up its bleaching antlers, 
like the trophies of a giant hunter. Now and 
then the houses thickened into an unsocial- 
looking village, and we drove up to the grocery 
to leave and take a mail-bag, stopping again 
presently to water the horses at some pallid 
little tavern, whose one red-curtained eye (the 
bar-room) had been put out by the inexorable 
thrust of Maine Law. Had Shenstone travelled 
this road, he would never have written that 
famous stanza of his ; had Johnson, he would 
never have quoted it. They are to real inns as 
the skull of Yorick to his face. Where these 
villages occurred at a distance from the river, it 
was difficult to account for them. On the river- 
bank, a saw-mill or a tannery served as a logical 
premise, and saved them from total inconse- 
quentiality. As we trailed along, at the rate of 
about four miles an hour, it was discovered that 
one of our mail-bags was missing. " Guess 
somebody '11 pick it up," said the driver coolly ; 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 81 

" 't any rate, likely there 's nothin' in it." Who 
knows how long it took some Elam D. or 
Zebulon K. to compose the missive intrusted 
to that vagrant bag, and how much longer to 
persuade Pamela Grace or Sophronia Melissa 
that it had really and truly been written ? The 
discovery of our loss was made by a tall man 
who sat next to me on the top of the coach, 
every one of whose senses seemed to be prose- 
cuting its several investigation as we went 
along. Presently, sniffing gently, he remarked : 
" 'Pears to me 's though I smelt sunthin'. 
Ain't the aix het, think ? " The driver pulled 
up, and, sure enough, the off fore wheel was 
found to be smoking. In three minutes he had 
snatched a rail from the fence, made a lever, 
raised the coach, and taken off the wheel, bath- 
ing the hot axle and box with water from the 
river. It was a pretty spot, and I was not sorry 
to lie under a beech-tree (Tityrus-like, meditat- 
ing over my pipe) and watch the operations of 
the fire-annihilator. I could not help contrast- 
ing the ready helpfulness of our driver, all of 
whose wits were about him, current, and re- 
deemable in the specie of action on emergency, 
with an incident of travel in Italy, where, under 
a somewhat similar stress of circumstances, our 
vetturino had nothing for it but to dash his hat 
on the ground and call on Sant' Antonio, the 
Italian Hercules. 



82 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

There being four passengers for the Lake, a 
vehicle called a mud-wagon was detailed at New- 
port for our accommodation. In this we jolted 
and rattled along at a livelier pace than in the 
coach. As we got farther north, the country 
(especially the hills) gave evidence of longer 
cultivation. About the thriving town of Dex- 
ter we saw fine farms and crops. The houses, 
too, became prettier ; hop-vines were trained 
about the doors, and hung their clustering thyrsi 
over the open windows. A kind of wild rose 
(called by the country folk the primrose) and 
asters were planted about the door-yards, and 
orchards, commonly of natural fruit, added to 
the pleasant home-look. But everywhere we 
could see that the war between the white man 
and the forest was still fierce, and that it would 
be a long while yet before the axe was buried. 
The haying being over, fires blazed or smoul- 
dered against the stumps in the fields, and the 
blue smoke widened slowly upward through the 
quiet August atmosphere. It seemed to me that 
I could hear a sigh now and then from the im- 
memorial pines, as they stood watching these 
camp-fires of the inexorable invader. Evening 
set in, and, as we crunched and crawled up the 
long gravelly hills, I sometimes began to fancy 
that Nature had forgotten to make the corre- 
sponding descent on the other side. But ere long 
we were rushing down at full speed ; and, in- 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 83 

spired by the dactylic beat of the horses' hoofs, 
I essayed to repeat the opening lines of Evan- 
geline. At the moment I was beginning, we 
plunged into a hollow, where the soft clay had 
been overcome by a road of unhewn logs. I 
got through one line to this corduroy accom- 
paniment, somewhat as a country choir stretches 
a short metre on the Procrustean rack of a long- 
drawn tune. The result was like this : — 
" Thihis ihis thehe fohorest prihihimeheval; thehe murhur- 
muring pihines hahand thehe hehemlohocks ! " 

At a quarter past eleven, p. m., we reached 
Greenville (a little village which looks as if it 
had dripped down from the hills, and settled in 
the hollow at the foot of the lake), having ac- 
complished seventy-two miles in eighteen hours. 
The tavern was totally extinguished. The driver 
rapped upon the bar-room window, and after 
a while we saw heat-lightnings of unsuccessful 
matches followed by a low grumble of vocal 
thunder, which I am afraid took the form of 
imprecation. Presently there was a great suc- 
cess, and the steady blur of lighted tallow suc- 
ceeded the fugitive brilliance of the pine. A 
hostler fumbled the door open, and stood staring 
at but not seeing us, with the sleep sticking out 
all over him. We at last contrived to launch him, 
more like an insensible missile than an intelligent 
or intelligible being, at the slumbering landlord, 
v/ho came out wide awake, and welcomed us as 



84 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

so many half dollars, — twenty-five cents each 
for bed, ditto breakfast. O Shenstone, Shen- 
stone ! The only roost was in the garret, which 
had been made into a single room, and contained 
eleven double beds, ranged along the walls. It 
was like sleeping in a hospital. However, nice 
customs curtsy to eighteen-hour rides, and we 
slept. 

Saturday^ i^th. — This morning I performed 
my toilet in the bar-room, where there was an 
abundant supply of water, and a halo of inter- 
ested spectators. After a sufficient breakfast, we 
embarked on the little steamer Moosehead, and 
were soon throbbing up the lake. The boat, it 
appeared, had been chartered by a party, this 
not being one of her regular trips. Accordingly 
we were mulcted in twice the usual fee, the phi- 
losophy of which I could not understand. How- 
ever, it always comes easier to us to comprehend 
why we receive than why we pay. I dare say it 
was quite clear to the captain. There were three 
or four clearings on the western shore ; but after 
passing these, the lake became wholly primeval, 
and looked to us as it did to the first adventur- 
ous Frenchman who paddled across it. Some- 
times a cleared point would be pink with the 
blossoming willow-herb, " a cheap and excellent 
substitute " for heather, and, like all such, not 
quite so good as the real thing. On all sides 
rose deep-blue mountains, of remarkably grace- 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 85 

ful outline, and more fortunate than common in 
their names. There were the Big and Little 
Squaw, the Spencer and Lily-bay Mountains. 
It was debated whether we saw Katahdin or not 
(perhaps more useful as an intellectual exercise 
than the assured vision would have been), and 
presently Mount Kineo rose abruptly before us, 
in shape not unlike the island of Capri. Moun- 
tains are called great natural features, and why 
they should not retain their names long enough 
for these also to become naturalized, it is hard 
to say. Why should every new surveyor re- 
christen them with the gubernatorial patro- 
nymics of the current year ? They are geological 
noses, and as they are aquiline or pug, indicate 
terrestrial idiosyncrasies. Acosmical physiogno- 
mist, after a glance at them, will draw no vague 
inference as to the character of the country. 
The word nose is no better than any other word ; 
but since the organ has got that name, it is con- 
venient to keep it. Suppose we had to label 
our facial prominences every season with the 
name of our provincial governor, how should 
we like it ? If the old names have no other 
meaning, they have that of age ; and, after all, 
meaning is a plant of slow growth, as every 
reader of Shakespeare knows. It is well enough 
to call mountains after their discoverers, for 
Nature has a knack of throwing doublets, and 
somehow contrives it that discoverers have good 



86 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

names. Pike's Peak is a curious hit in this 
way. But these surveyors' names have no 
natural stick in them. They remind one of 
the epithets of poetasters, which peel off like 
a badly gummed postage-stamp. The early 
settlers did better, and there is something plea- 
sant in the sound of Graylock, Saddleback and 
Great Haystack. 

** I love those names 
Wherewith the exiled farmer tames 
Nature down to companionship 

With his old world's more homely mood. 
And strives the shaggy wild to clip 

In the arms of familiar habitude." 

It is possible that Mount Marcy and Mount 
Hitchcock may sound as well hereafter as Hel- 
lespont and Peloponnesus, when the heroes, 
their namesakes, have become mythic with an- 
tiquity. But that is to look forward a great way. 
I am no fanatic for Indian nomenclature, — the 
name of my native district having been Pigs- 
gusset, — but let us at least agree on names for 
ten years. 

There were a couple of loggers on board, in 
red flannel shirts, and with rifles. They were 
the first I had seen, and I was interested in 
their appearance. They were tall, well-knit 
men, straight as Robin Hood, and with a quiet, 
self-contained look that pleased me. I fell into 
talk with one of them. 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 87 

" Is there a good market for the farmers here 
in the woods ? " I asked. 

" None better. They can sell what they raise 
at their doors, and for the best of prices. The 
lumberers want it all, and more." 

" It must be a lonely life. But then we all 
have to pay more or less life for a living." 

" Well, it is lonesome. Should n't Hke it. 
After all, the best crop a man can raise is a 
good crop of society. We don't live none too 
long, anyhow ; and without society a fellow 
could n't tell more 'n half the time whether he 
was alive or not." 

This speech gave me a glimpse into the life 
of the lumberers' camp. It was plain that there 
a man would soon find out how much alive he 
was, — there he could learn to estimate his qual- 
ity, weighed in the nicest self-adjusting balance. 
The best arm at the axe or the paddle, the sur- 
est eye for a road or for the weak point of a. jam, 
the steadiest foot upon the squirming log, the 
most persuasive voice to the tugging oxen, — 
all these things are rapidly settled, and so an 
aristocracy is evolved from this democracy of 
the woods, for good old mother Nature speaks 
Saxon still, and with her either Canning or 
Kenning means King. 

A string of five loons was flying back and 
forth in long, irregular zigzags, uttering at in- 
tervals their wild, tremulous cry, which always 



88 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

seems far away, like the last faint pulse of echo 
dying among the hills, and which is one of 
those few sounds that, instead of disturbing 
solitude, only deepen and confirm it. On our 
inland ponds they are usually seen in pairs, and 
I asked if it were common to meet five together. 
My question was answered by a queer-looking 
old man, chiefly remarkable for a pair of enor- 
mous cowhide boots, over which large blue 
trousers of frocking strove in vain to crowd 
themselves. 

"Wahl, 't ain't ushil," said he, "and it's 
called a sign o' rain comin', that is." 

" Do you think it will rain ? " 

With the caution of a veteran auspex^ he 
evaded a direct reply. " Wahl, they du say it 's 
a sign o' rain comin'," said he. 

I discovered afterward that my interlocutor 
was Uncle Zeb. Formerly, every New Eng- 
land town had its representative uncle. He was 
not a pawnbroker, but some elderly man who, 
for want of more defined family ties, had grad- 
ually assumed this avuncular relation to the 
community, inhabiting the border-land between 
respectability and the almshouse, with no regu- 
lar calling, but ready for odd jobs at haying, 
wood-sawing, whitewashing, associated with the 
demise of pigs and the ailments of cattle, and 
possessing as much patriotism as might be im- 
plied in a devoted attachment to " New Eng- 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 89 

land" — with a good deal of sugar and very- 
little water in it. Uncle Zeb was a good speci- 
men of this palaeozoic class, extinct among us 
for the most part, or surviving, like the Dodo, 
in the Botany Bays of society. He was ready 
to contribute (somewhat muddily) to all gen- 
eral conversation ; but his chief topics were his 
boots and the 'Roostick war. Upon the low- 
lands and levels of ordinary palaver he would 
make rapid and unlooked-for incursions ; but, 
provision failing, he would retreat to these two 
fastnesses, whence it was impossible to dislodge 
him, and to which he knew innumerable passes 
and short cuts quite beyond the conjecture of 
common woodcraft. His mind opened natu- 
rally to these two subjects, like a book to some 
favorite passage. As the ear accustoms itself to 
any sound recurring regularly, such as the tick- 
ing of a clock, and, without a conscious effort 
of attention, takes no impression from it what- 
ever, so does the mind find a natural safeguard 
against this pendulum species of discourse, and 
performs its duties in the parliament by an un- 
conscious reflex action, like the beating of the 
heart or the movement of the lungs. If talk 
seemed to be flagging, our Uncle would put 
the heel of one boot upon the toe of the other, 
to bring it within point-blank range, and say, 
" Wahl, I stump the Devil himself to make 
that 'ere boot hurt my foot," leaving us in doubt 



90 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

whether it were the virtue of the foot or its case 
which set at naught the wiles of the adversary; 
or, looking up suddenly, he would exclaim, 
"Wahl, we t3.t some beans to the 'Roostick war, 
I tell you ! " When his poor old clay was wet 
with gin, his thoughts and words acquired a rank 
flavor from it, as from too strong a fertilizer. 
At such times, too, his fancy commonly re- 
verted to a prehistoric period of his life, when 
he singly had settled all the surrounding coun- 
try, subdued the Injuns and other wild animals, 
and named all the towns. 

We talked of the winter-camps and the life 
there. " The best thing is," said our Uncle, 
" to hear a log squeal thru the snow. Git a 
good, col', frosty mornin', in Feb'uary say, an' 
take an' hitch the critters on to a log that '11 
scale seven thousan', an' it '11 squeal as pooty 
as an'thin' jo« ever hearn, I telljow." 

A pause. 

" Lessee, — seen Cal Hutchins lately ? " 

" No." 

" Seems to me 's though I hed n't seen Cal 
sence the 'Roostick war. Wahl," etc., etc. 

Another pause. 

" To look at them boots you 'd think they 
was too large ; but kind o' git your foot into 
'em, and they 're as easy 's a glove." (I ob- 
served that he never seemed really to get his 
foot in, — there was always a qualifying kind 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 91 

0'.) " Wahl, my foot can play in 'em like a 
young hedgehog." 

By this time we had arrived at Kineo, — a 
flourishing village of one house, the tavern kept 
by 'Squire Barrows. The 'Squire is a large, 
hearty man, with a voice as clear and strong as 
a northwest wind, and a great laugh suitable to 
it. His table is neat and well supplied, and he 
waits upon it himself in the good old landlordly 
fashion. One may be much better off here, to 
my thinking, than in one of those gigantic 
Columbaria which are foisted upon us patient 
Americans for hotels, and where one is packed 
away in a pigeon-hole so near the heavens that, 
if the comet should flirt its tail (no unlikely 
thing in the month of flies), one would run 
some risk of being brushed away. Here one 
does not pay his diurnal three dollars for an 
undivided five-hundredth part of the pleasure 
of looking at gilt gingerbread. Here one's re- 
lations are with the monarch himself, and one 
is not obliged to wait the slow leisure of those 
"attentive clerks " whose praises are sung by 
thankful deadheads, and to whom the slave 
who pays may feel as much gratitude as might 
thrill the heart of a brown-paper parcel toward 
the expressman who labels it and chucks it 
under his counter. 

Sunday, 14th. — The loons were right. About 
midnight it began to rain in earnest, and did 



92 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

not hold up till about ten o'clock this morning. 
" This is a Maine dew," said a shaggy wood- 
man cheerily, as he shook the water out of his 
wide-awake; "if it don't look out sharp, it'll 
begin to rain afore it thinks on 't." The day 
was mostly spent within doors ; but I found 
good and intelligent society. We should have 
to be shipwrecked on Juan Fernandez not to 
find men who knew more than we. In these 
travelling encounters one is thrown upon his 
own resources, and is worth just what he carries 
about him. The social currency of home, the 
smooth-worn coin which passes freely among 
friends and neighbors, is of no account. We are 
thrown back upon the old system of barter ; and, 
even with savages, we bring away only as much 
of the wild wealth of the woods as we carry 
beads of thought and experience, strung one by 
one in painful years, to pay for them with. A 
useful old jackknife will buy more than the 
daintiest Louis Quinze paper-folder fresh from 
Paris. Perhaps the kind of intelligence one gets 
in these out-of-the-way places is the best, — 
where one takes a fresh man after breakfast in- 
stead of the damp morning paper, and where the 
magnetic telegraph of human sympathy flashes 
swift news from brain to brain. 

Meanwhile, at a pinch, to-morrow's weather 
can be discussed. The augury from the flight 
of birds is favorable, — the loons no longer 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 93 

prophesying rain. The wind also is hauling 
round to the right quarter, according to some, — 
to the wrong, if we are to believe others. Each 
man has his private barometer of hope, the mer- 
cury in which is more or less sensitive, and the 
opinion vibrant with its rise or fall. Mine has 
an index which can be moved mechanically. I 
fixed it at set fair, and resigned myself. I read 
an old volume of the Patent-Office Report on 
Agriculture, and stored away a beautiful pile of 
facts and observations for future use, which the 
current of occupation, at its first freshet, would 
sweep quietly off to blank oblivion. Practical 
application is the only mordant which will set 
things in the memory. Study, without it, is 
gymnastics, and not work, which alone will get 
intellectual bread. One learns more metaphy- 
sics from a single temptation than from all the 
philosophers. It is curious, though, how tyran- 
nical the habit of reading is, and what shifts we 
make to escape thinking. There is no bore 
we dread being left alone with so much as our 
own minds. I have seen a sensible man study 
a stale newspaper in a country tavern, and hus- 
band it as he would an old shoe on a raft after 
shipwreck. Why not try a bit of hiberna- 
tion ^. There are few brains that would not be 
better for living on their own fat a little while. 
With these reflections, I, notwithstanding, spent 
the afternoon over my Report. If our own 



94 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

experience is of so little use to us, what a dolt 
is he who recommends to man or nation the 
experience of others ! Like the mantle in the 
old ballad, it is always too short or too long, 
and exposes or trips us up. " Keep out of that 
candle," says old Father Miller, " or you '11 get 
a singeing." " Pooh, pooh, father, I 've been 
dipped in the new asbestos preparation," and 
frozz! it is all over with young Hopeful. How 
many warnings have been drawn from. Pretorian 
bands, and Janizaries, and Mamelukes, to make 
Napoleon IIL impossible in 1851 ! I found 
myself thinking the same thoughts over again, 
when we walked later on the beach and picked 
up pebbles. The old time-ocean throws upon 
its shores just such rounded and polished results 
of the eternal turmoil, but we only see the beauty 
of those we have got the headache in stooping 
for ourselves, and wonder at the dull brown 
bits of common stone with which our comrades 
have stuffed their pockets. Afterwards this lit- 
tle fable came of it. 

DOCTOR LOBSTER 

A perch, who had the toothache, once 
Thus moaned, like any human dunce: 
** Why must great souls exhaust so soon 
Life's thin and unsubstantial boon ? 
Existence on such sculpin terms. 
Their vulgar loves and hard-won worms. 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 95 

What is it all but dross to me. 
Whose nature craves a larger sea; 
Whose inches, six from head to tail. 
Enclose the spirit of a whale; 
Who, if great baits were still to win. 
By watchful eye and fearless fin 
Might with the Zodiac's awful twain 
Room for a third immortal gain ? 
Better the crowd's unthinking plan. 
The hook, the jerk, the frying-pan ! 

Death, thou ever roaming shark. 
Engulf me in eternal dark ! " 

The speech was cut in two by flight: 

A real shark had come in sight; 

No metaphoric monster, one 

It soothes despair to call upon. 

But stealthy, sidelong, grim, i-wis, 

A bit of downright Nemesis; 

While it recovered from the shock. 

Our fish took shelter 'neath a rock: 

This was an ancient lobster's house, 

A lobster of prodigious nous. 

So old that barnacles had spread 

Their white encampments o'er his head. 

And of experience so stupend. 

His claws were blunted at the end. 

Turning life's iron pages o'er. 

That shut and can be oped no more. 

Stretching a hospitable claw, 
**At once," said he, ** the point I saw; 
My dear young friend, your case I rue. 
Your great-great-grandfather I knew; 
He was a tried and tender friend 

1 know, — I ate him in the end: 



96 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

In this vile sea a pilgrim long. 

Still my sight 's good, my memory strong; 

The only sign that age is near 

Is a slight deafness in this ear; 

I understand your case as well 

As this my old familiar shell; 

This Welt-schmerz is a brand-new notion. 

Come in since first I knew the ocean; 

We had no radicals, nor crimes. 

Nor lobster-pots, in good old times; 

Your traps and nets and hooks we owe 

To Messieurs Louis Blanc and Co.; 

I say to all my sons and daughters. 

Shun Red Republican hot waters; 

No lobster ever cast his lot 

Among the reds, but went to pot: 

Your trouble 's in the jaw, you said ? 

Come, let me just nip off your head. 

And, when a new one comes, the pain 

Will never trouble you again: 

Nay, nay, fear naught: 'tis nature's law. 

Four times I 've lost this starboard claw; 

And still, ere long, another grew. 

Good as the old, — and better too ! " 

The perch consented, and next day 
An osprey, marketing that way. 
Picked up a fish without a head. 
Floating with belly up, stone dead. 



Sharp are the teeth of ancient saws. 
And sauce for goose is gander's sauce; 
But perch's heads are n't lobster's claws. 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 97 

Monday^ i^th. — The morning was fine, and 
we were called at four o'clock. At the moment 
my door was knocked at, I was mounting a 
giraffe with that charming nil admirari which 
characterizes dreams, to visit Prester John. 
Rat-tat-tat-tat I upon my door and upon the 
horn gate of dreams also. I remarked to my 
skowhegan (the Tatar for giraffe-driver) that I 
was quite sure the animal had the raps^ a com- 
mon disease among them, for I heard a queer 
knocking noise inside him. It is the sound of 
his joints, O Tambourgi ! (an Oriental term 
of reverence) and proves him to be of the 
race of El Keirat. Rat-tat -tat-too ! and I lost 
my dinner at the Prester's, embarking for a voy- 
age to the Northwest Carry instead. Never use 
the word canoe y my dear Storg, if you wish to re- 
tain your self-respect. Birch is the term among 
us backwoodsmen. I never knew it till yester- 
day ; but, like a true philosopher, I made it ap- 
pear as if I had been intimate with it from child- 
hood. The rapidity with which the human mind 
levels itself to the standard around it gives us 
the most pertinent warning as to the company 
we keep. It is as hard for most characters to 
stay at their own average point in all companies, 
as for a thermometer to say 6c^° for twenty- 
four hours together. I like this in our friend 
Johannes Taurus, that he carries everywhere and 
maintains his insular temperature, and will have 



98 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

everything accommodate itself to that. Shall I 
confess that this morning I would rather have 
broken the moral law than have endangered the 
equipoise of the birch by my awkwardness ? 
that I should have been prouder of a compli- 
ment to my paddling than to have had both 
my guides suppose me the author of Hamlet ? 
Well, Cardinal Richelieu used to jump over 
chairs. 

We were to paddle about twenty miles ; but we 
made it rather more by crossing and recrossing 
the lake. Twice we landed, — once at a camp, 
where we found the cook alone, baking bread 
and gingerbread. Monsieur Soyer would have 
been startled a little by this shaggy professor, 
— this Pre-Raphaelite of cookery. He repre- 
sented the salaeratus period of the art, and his 
bread was of a brilliant yellow, like those cakes 
tinged with saffron, which hold out so long 
against time and the flies in little water-side 
shops of seaport towns, — dingy extremities of 
trade fit to moulder on Lethe wharf. His water 
was better, squeezed out of ice-cold granite in 
the neighboring mountains, and sent through 
subterranean ducts to sparkle up by the door 
of the camp. 

" There 's nothin' so sweet an' hulsome as 
your real spring-water," said Uncle Zeb, "git 
it pure. But it 's dreffle hard to git it that ain't 
got sunthin' the matter of it. Snow-water '11 



^ A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 99 

burn a man's inside out, — I larned that to the 
'Roostick war, — and the snow lays terrible 
long on some o' thes'ere hills. Me an' Eb Stiles 
was up old Ktahdn onct jest about this time o' 
year, an' we come acrost a kind o' holler like, 
as full o' snow as your stockin' 's full o' your 
foot. / see it fust, an' took an' rammed a set- 
tin'-pole — wahl, it was all o' twenty foot into 
't, an' could n't fin' no bottom. I dunno as 
there 's snow-water enough in this to do no 
hurt. I don't somehow seem to think that real 
spring-water 's so plenty as it used to be." And 
Uncle Zeb,with perhaps a little over-refinement 
of scrupulosity, applied his lips to the Ethiop 
ones of a bottle of raw gin, with a kiss that drew 
out its very soul, — a basia that Secundus might 
have sung. He must have been a wonderful 
judge of water, for he analyzed this, and de- 
tected its latent snow simply by his eye, and 
without the clumsy process of tasting. I could 
not help thinking that he had made the desert 
his dwelling-place chiefly in order to enjoy the 
ministrations of this one fair spirit unmolested. 
We pushed on. Little islands loomed trem- 
bling between sky and water, like hanging gar- 
dens. Gradually the filmy trees defined them- 
selves, the aerial enchantment lost its potency, 
and we came up with corr.mon prose islands 
that had so late been magical and poetic. The 
old story of the attained and unattained. About 



loo A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

noon we reached the head of the lake, and took 
possession of a deserted wongen^ in which to 
cook and eat our dinner. No Jew, I am sure, 
can have a more thorough disHke of salt pork 
than I have in a normal state, yet I had already 
eaten it raw with hard bread for lunch, and rel- 
ished it keenly. We soon had our tea-kettle 
over the fire, and before long the cover was 
chattering with the escaping steam, which had 
thus vainly begged of all men to be saddled and 
bridled, till James Watt one day happened 
to overhear it. One of our guides shot three 
Canada grouse, and these were turned slowly 
between the fire and a bit of salt pork, which 
dropped fatness upon them as it fried. Al- 
though my fingers were certainly not made before 
knives and forks, yet they served as a conven- 
ient substitute for those more ancient inventions. 
We sat round, Turk-fashion, and ate thankfully, 
while a party of aborigines of the Mosquito 
tribe, who had camped in the wongen before we 
arrived, dined upon us. I do not know what the 
British Protectorate of the Mosquitoes amounts 
to ; but, as I squatted there at the mercy of 
these bloodthirsty savages, I no longer wondered 
that the classic Everett had been stung into a 
willingness for war on the question. 

" This 'ere 'd be about a complete place for a 
camp, ef there was on'y a spring o' sweet water 
handy. Frizzled pork goes wal, don't it ? Yes, 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL loi 

an' sets wal, too," said Uncle Zeb, and he again 
tilted his bottle, which rose nearer and nearer 
to an angle of forty-five at every gurgle. He 
then broached a curious dietetic theory : " The 
reason we take salt pork along is cos it packs 
handy : you git the greatest amount o' board 
in the smallest compass, — let alone that it 's more 
nourishin' than an'thin' else. It kind o' don't 
disgest so quick, but stays by ye, a-nourishin' 
ye all the while. 

"A feller can live wal on frizzled pork an' 
good spring-water, git it good. To the 'Roostick 
war we did n't ask for nothin' better, — on'y 
beans." ['Tilt^ tilt, gurgle^ gurgle.) Then, with an 
apparent feeling of inconsistency, " But then, 
come to git used to a particular kind o' spring- 
water, an' it makes a feller hard to suit. Most 
all sorts o' water taste kind o' /»sipid away from 
home. Now, I 've gut a spring to my place that *s 
as sweet — wahl, it 's as sweet as maple sap. A 
feller acts about water jest as he doos about a 
pair o' boots. It 's all on it in gittin' wonted. 
Now, them boots," etc., etc. [Gurgle, gurgle, 
gurgle, smack /) 

All this while he was packing away the re- 
mains of the pork and hard bread in two large 
firkins. This accomplished, we reembarked, our 
Uncle on his way to the birch essaying a kind of 
song in four or five parts, of which the words 
were hilarious and the tune profoundly melan- 



I02 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

choly, and which was finished, and the rest of his 
voice apparently jerked out of him in one sharp 
falsetto note, by his tripping over the root of a 
tree. We paddled a short distance up a brook 
which came into the lake smoothly through a 
little meadow not far off. We soon reached 
the Northwest Carry, and our guide, pointing 
through the woods, said : " That 's the Cannydy 
road. You can travel that clearn to Kebeck, a 
hunderd an' twenty mile," — a privilege of which 
I respectfully declined to avail myself. The 
offer, however, remains open to the public. The 
Carry is called two miles ; but this is the esti- 
mate of somebody who had nothing to lug. I 
had a headache and all my baggage, which, with 
a traveller's instinct, I had brought with me. 
(P. S. — I did not even take the keys out of my 
pocket, and both my bags were wet through be- 
fore I came back.) My estimate of the distance 
is eighteen thousand six hundred and seventy- 
four miles and three quarters, — the fraction 
being the part left to be travelled after one of 
my companions most kindly insisted on relieving 
me of my heaviest bag. I know very well that 
the ancient Roman soldiers used to carry sixty 
pounds' weight, and all that ; but I am not, and 
never shall be, an ancient Roman soldier, — no, 
not even in the miraculous Thundering Legion. 
Uncle Zeb slung the two provender firkins across 
his shoulder, and trudged along, grumbling that 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 103 

" he never see sech a contrairy pair as them." 
He had begun upon a second bottle of his " par- 
ticular kind o' spring-water," and, at every rest, 
the gurgle of this peripatetic fountain might be 
heard, followed by a smack, a fragment of mosaic 
song, or a confused clatter with the cowhide 
boots, being an arbitrary symbol, intended to re- 
present the festive dance. Christian's pack gave 
him not half so much trouble as the firkins gave 
Uncle Zeb. It grew harder and harder to sHng 
them, and with every fresh gulp of the Batavian 
elixir, they got heavier. Or rather, the truth was, 
that his hat grew heavier, in which he was carry- 
ing on an extensive manufacture of bricks with- 
out straw. At last affairs reached a crisis, and a 
particularly favorable pitch offering, with a pud- 
dle at the foot of it, even the boots afforded no 
sufficient ballast, and away went our Uncle, the 
satellite firkins accompanying faithfully his head- 
long flight. Did ever exiled monarch or disgraced 
minister find the cause of his fall in himself? Is 
there not always a strawberry at the bottom of 
our cup of life, on which we can lay all the blame 
of our deviations from the straight path ? Till 
now Uncle Zeb had contrived to give a gloss of 
volition to smaller stumblings and gyrations, by 
exaggerating them into an appearance of playful 
burlesque. But the present case was beyond any 
such subterfuges. He held a bed of justice where 
he sat, and then arose slowly, with a stern deter- 



I04 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

mination of vengeance stiffening every muscle of 
his face. But what would he select as the culprit ? 
" It 's that cussed firkin," he mumbled to him- 
self. " I never knowed a firkin cair on so, — no, 
not in the 'Roostehicick war. There, go 'long, 
will ye? and don't come back till you 've larned 
how to walk with a genelman ! " And, seizing 
the unhappy scapegoat by the bail, he hurled it 
into the forest. It is a curious circumstance that 
it was not the firkin containing the bottle which 
was thus condemned to exile. 

The end of the Carry was reached at last, and, 
as we drew near it, we heard a sound of shout- 
ing and laughter. It came from a party of men 
making hay of the wild grass in Seboomok mead- 
ows, which lie around Seboomok Pond, into 
which the Carry empties itself. Their camp was 
near, and our two hunters set out for it, leaving 
us seated in the birch on the plashy border of the 
pond. The repose was perfect. Another heaven 
hallowed and deepened the polished lake, and 
through that nether world the fish-hawk's double 
floated with balanced wings, or, wheeling sud- 
denly, flashed his whitened breast against the 
sun. As the clattering kingfisher flew unsteadily 
across, and seemed to push his heavy head along 
with ever-renewing effort, a visionary mate flit- 
ted from downward tree to tree below. Some 
tall alders shaded us from the sun, in whose yel- 
low afternoon light the drowsy forest was steeped. 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 105 

giving out that wholesome resinous perfume, al- 
most the only warm odor which it is refreshing 
to breathe. The tame hay-cocks in the midst of 
the wildness gave one a pleasant reminiscence 
of home, like hearing one's native tongue in 
a strange country. 

Presently our hunters came back, bringing 
with them a tall, thin, active-looking man, with 
black eyes, that glanced unconsciously on all 
sides, like one of those spots of sunlight which 
a child dances up and down the street with a 
bit of looking-glass. This was M,, the captain 
of the hay-makers, a famous river-driver, and 
who was to have fifty men under him next 
winter. I could now understand that sleepless 
vigilance of eye. He had consented to take 
two of our party in his birch to seek for moose. 
A quick, nervous, decided man, he got them 
into the birch, and was off instantly, without a 
superfluous word. He evidently looked upon 
them as he would upon a couple of logs which 
he was to deliver at a certain place. Indeed, I 
doubt if life and the world presented themselves 
to Napier himself in a more logarithmic way. 
His only thought was to do the immediate duty 
well, and to pilot his particular raft down the 
crooked stream of life to the ocean beyond. 
The birch seemed to feel him as an inspiring 
soul, and slid away straight and swift for the 
outlet of the pond. As he disappeared under 



io6 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

the overarching alders of the brook, our two 
hunters could not repress a grave and measured 
applause. There is never any extravagance 
among these woodmen ; their eye, accustomed 
to reckoning the number of feet which a tree 
will scale, is rapid and close in its guess of the 
amount of stuff in a man. It was laudari a 
laudato, however, for they themselves were ac- 
counted good men in a birch. I was amused, 
in talking with them about him, to meet with 
an instance of that tendency of the human mind 
to assign some utterly improbable reason for 
gifts which seem unaccountable. After due 
praise, one of them said, " I guess he 's got some 
Injun in him," although I knew very well that 
the speaker had a thorough contempt for the 
red man, mentally and physically. Here was 
mythology in a small way, — the same that 
under more favorable auspices hatched Helen 
out of an egg and gave Merlin an Incubus for 
his father. I was pleased with all I saw of M. 
He was in his narrow sphere a true avai avlpZiv, 
and the ragged edges of his old hat seemed to 
become coronated as I looked at him. He im- 
pressed me as a man really educated, — that is, 
with his aptitudes drawn out and ready for use. 
He was A. M. and LL. D. in Woods College, 
— Axe-master and Doctor of Logs. Are not 
our educations commonly like a pile of books 
laid over a plant in a pot? The compressed 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 107 

nature struggles through at every crevice, but 
can never get the cramp and stunt out of it. 
We spend all our youth in building a vessel for 
our voyage of life, and set forth with streamers 
flying ; but the moment we come nigh the 
great loadstone mountain of our proper destiny, 
out leap all our carefully driven bolts and nails, 
and we get many a mouthful of good salt brine, 
and many a buffet of the rough water of experi- 
ence, before we secure the bare right to live. 

We now entered the outlet, a long-drawn 
aisle of alder, on each side of which spired tall 
firs, spruces, and white cedars. The motion of 
the birch reminded me of the gondola, and they 
represent among water-craft the felidae, the cat 
tribe, stealthy, silent, treacherous, and preying 
by night. I closed my eyes, and strove to fancy 
myself in the dumb city, whose only horses are 
the bronze ones of St. Mark and that of Col- 
leoni. But Nature would allow no rival, and 
bent down an alder-bough to brush my cheek 
and recall me. Only the robin sings in the 
emerald chambers of these tall sylvan palaces, 
and the squirrel leaps from hanging balcony to 
balcony. 

The rain which the loons foreboded had 
raised the West Branch of the Penobscot so 
much that a strong current was setting back 
into the pond ; and when at last we brushed 
through into the river, it was full to the brim, 



io8 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

— too full for moose, the hunters said. Rivers 
with low banks have always the compensation 
of giving a sense of entire fulness. The sun 
sank behind its horizon of pines, whose pointed 
summits notched the rosy west in an endless 
black sierra. At the same moment the golden 
moon swung slowly up in the east, like the 
other scale of that Homeric balance in which 
Zeus weighed the deeds of men. Sunset and 
moonrise at once ! Adam had no more in Eden 

— except the head of Eve upon his shoulder. 
The stream was so smooth that the floating 
logs we met seemed to hang in a glowing atmo- 
sphere, the shadow-half being as real as the 
solid. And gradually the mind was etherized 
to a like dreamy placidity, till fact and fancy, 
the substance and the image, floating on the 
current of reverie, became but as the upper and 
under halves of one unreal reality. 

In the west still lingered a pale-green light. 
I do not know whether it be from lifelong 
familiarity, but it always seems to me that the 
pinnacles of pine-trees make an edge to the 
landscape which tells better against the twilight, 
or the fainter dawn before the rising moon, than 
the rounded and cloud-cumulus outline of hard- 
wood trees. 

After paddling a couple of miles, we found 
the arbored mouth of the little Malahoodus 
River, famous for moose. We had been on the 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 109 

lookout for it, and I was amused to hear one 
of the hunters say to the other, to assure him- 
self of his familiarity with the spot, " You drove 
the West Branch last spring, did n't you ? " as 
one of us might ask about a horse. We did 
not explore the Malahoodus far, but left the 
other birch to thread its cedared solitudes, while 
we turned back to try our fortunes in the larger 
stream. We paddled on about four miles far- 
ther, lingering now and then opposite the black 
mouth of a moose-path. The incidents of our 
voyage were few, but quite as exciting and pro- 
fitable as the items of the newspapers. A stray 
log compensated very well for the ordinary run 
of accidents, and the floating carkiss of a moose 
which we met could pass muster instead of a 
singular discovery of human remains by work- 
men in digging a cellar. Once or twice we saw 
what seemed ghosts of trees ; but they turned 
out to be dead cedars, in winding-sheets of long 
gray moss, made spectral by the moonlight. 
Just as we were turning to drift back down- 
stream, we heard a loud gnawing sound close 
by us on the bank. One of our guides thought 
it a hedgehog, the other a bear. I inclined to 
the bear, as making the adventure more impos- 
ing. A rifle was fired at the sound, which began 
again with the most provoking indifi^erence, ere 
the echo, flaring madly at first from shore to 
shore, died far away in a hoarse sigh. 



no A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

Half past Eleven^ p. m. — No sign of a 
moose yet. The birch, it seems, was strained 
at the Carry, or the pitch was softened as she 
lay on the shore during dinner, and she leaks 
a little. If there be any virtue in the sitzbadj I 
shall discover it. If I cannot extract green cu- 
cumbers from the moon's rays, I get something 
quite as cool. One of the guides shivers so as 
to shake the birch. 

garter to 'Twelve. — Later from the Freshet ! 
— The water in the birch is about three inches 
deep, but the dampness reaches already nearly 
to the waist. I am obliged to remove the 
matches from the ground-floor of my trousers 
into the upper story of a breast-pocket. Mean- 
while, we are to sit immovable, — for fear of 
frightening the moose, — which induces cramps. 

Half past Twelve. — A crashing is heard on 
the left bank. This is a moose in good ear- 
nest. We are besought to hold our breaths, if 
possible. My fingers so numb, I could not, 
if I tried. Crash I crash I again, and then a 
plunge, followed by dead stillness. " Swimmin' 
crik," whispers guide, suppressing all unneces- 
sary parts of speech, — "don't stir." I, for 
one, am not likely to. A cold fog which has 
been gathering for the last hour has finished 
me. I fancy myself one of those naked pigs 
that seem rushing out of market-doors in win- 
ter, frozen in a ghastly attitude of gallop. If I 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL m 

were to be shot myself, I should feel no in- 
terest in it. As it is, I am only a spectator, 
having declined a gun. Splash ! again ; this 
time the moose is in sight, and click ! click ! 
one rifle misses fire after the other. The fog 
has quietly spiked our batteries. The moose 
goes crashing up the bank, and presently we 
can hear it chawing its cud close by. So we lie 
in wait, freezing. 

At one o'clock, I propose to land at a de- 
serted wongen I had noticed on the way up, 
where I will make a fire, and leave them to re- 
frigerate as much longer as they please. Axe 
in hand, I go plunging through waist-deep 
weeds dripping with dew, haunted by an in- 
tense conviction that the gnawing sound we 
had heard was a bear, and a bear at least eight- 
een hands high. There is something pokerish 
about a deserted dwelling, even in broad day- 
light ; but here in the obscure wood, and the 
moon filtering unwillingly through the trees! 
Well, I made the door at last, and found the 
place packed fuller with darkness than it ever 
had been with hay. Gradually I was able to 
make things out a little, and began to hack 
frozenly at a log which I groped out. I was re- 
lieved presently by one of the guides. He cut 
at once into one of the uprights of the build- 
ing till he got some dry splinters, and we soon 
had a fire like the burning of a whole wood 



112 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

wharf in our part of the country. My compan- 
ion went back to the birch, and left me to keep 
house. First I knocked a hole in the roof 
(which the fire began to lick in a relishing way) 
for a chimney, and then cleared away a damp 
growth of " pison-elder," to make a sleeping- 
place. When the unsuccessful hunters returned, 
I had everything quite comfortable, and was 
steaming at the rate of about ten horse-power a 
minute. Young Telemachus' was sorry to give 
up the moose so soon, and, with the teeth chat- 
tering almost out of his head, he declared that 
he would like to stick it out all night. How- 
ever, he reconciled himself to the fire, and, mak- 
ing our beds of some " splits " which we poked 
from the roof, we lay down at half past two. 
I, who have inherited a habit of looking into 
every closet before I go to bed, for fear of fire, 
had become in two days such a stoic of the 
woods, that I went to sleep tranquilly, certain 
that my bedroom would be in a blaze before 
morning. And so, indeed, it was ; and the 
withes that bound it together being burned off, 
one of the sides fell in without waking me. 

'Tuesday^ i6th. — After a sleep of two hours 
and a half, so sound that it was as good as eight, 
we started at half past four for the hay-makers' 
camp again. We found them just getting break- 

' This was my nephew, Charles Russell Lowell, who fell 
at the head of his brigade in the battle of Cedar Creek. 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 113 

fast. We sat down upon the deacon-seat before 
the fire blazing between the bedroom and the 
salle a manger , which were simply two roofs of 
spruce-bark, sloping to the ground on one side, 
the other three being left open. We found 
that we had, at least, been luckier than the 
other party, for M. had brought back his con- 
voy without even seeing a moose. As there 
was not room at the table for all of us to break- 
fast together, these hospitable woodmen forced 
us to sit down first, although we resisted 
stoutly. Our breakfast consisted of fresh bread, 
fried salt pork, stewed whortleberries, and tea. 
Our kind hosts refused to take money for it, 
nor would M. accept anything for his trouble. 
This seerned even more open-handed when I 
remembered that they had brought all their 
stores over the Carry upon their shoulders, 
paying an ache extra for every pound. If their 
hospitality lacked anything of hard external 
polish, it had all the deeper grace which springs 
only from sincere manliness. I have rarely sat 
at a table d'hote which might not have taken a 
lesson from them in essential courtesy. I have 
never seen a finer race of men. They have all 
the virtues of the sailor, without that unsteady 
roll in the gait with which the ocean proclaims 
itself quite as much In the moral as in the phy- 
sical habit of a man. They appeared to me to 
have hewn out a short northwest passage through 



114 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

wintry woods to those spice-lands of character 
which we dwellers in cities must reach, if at all, 
by weary voyages in the monotonous track of 
the trades. 

By the way, as we were embirching last even- 
ing for our moose-chase, I asked what I was to 
do with my baggage. " Leave it here," said our 
guide, and he laid the bags upon a platform of 
alders, which he bent down to keep them be- 
yond reach of the rising water. 

" Will they be safe here ? " 

" As safe as they would be locked up in your 
house at home." 

And so I found them at my return ; only 
the hay-makers had carried them to their camp 
for greater security against the chances of the 
weather. 

We got back to Kineo in time for dinner ; 
and in the afternoon, the weather being fine, 
went up the mountain. As we landed at the 
foot, our guide pointed to the remains of a red 
shirt and a pair of blanket trousers. " That," 
said he, " is the reason there 's such a trade in 
ready-made clo'es. A suit gits pooty well wore 
out by the time a camp breaks up in the spring, 
and the lumberers want to look about right 
when they come back into the settlements, so 
they buy somethin' ready-made, and heave ole 
bust-up into the bush." True enough, thought 
I, this is the Ready-made Age. It is quicker 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 115 

being covered than fitted. So we all go to the 
slop-shop and come out uniformed, every mo- 
ther's son with habits of thinking and doing cut 
on one pattern, with no special reference to his 
peculiar build. 

Kineo rises 1750 feet above the sea, and 750 
above the lake. The climb is very easy, with 
fine outlooks at every turn over lake and for- 
est. Near the top is a spring of water, which 
even Uncle Zeb might have allowed to be whole- 
some. The little tin dipper was scratched all 
over with names, showing that vanity, at least, 
is not put out of breath by the ascent. O Ozy- 
mandias, King of kings ! We are all scrawling 
on something of the kind. " My name is en- 
graved on the institutions of my country," thinks 
the statesman. But, alas ! institutions are as 
changeable as tin dippers ; men are content to 
drink the same old water, if the shape of the 
cup only be new, and our friend gets two lines 
in the Biographical Dictionaries. After all, these 
inscriptions, which make us smile up here, are 
about as valuable as the Assyrian ones which 
Hincks and Rawlinson read at cross-purposes. 
Have we not Smiths and Browns enough, that 
we must ransack the ruins of Nimroud for more? 
Near the spring we met a Bloomer ! It was the 
first chronic one I had ever seen. It struck me 
as a sensible costume for the occasion, and it 
will be the only wear in the Greek Kalends, 



ii6 A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 

when women believe that sense is an equivalent 
for grace. 

The forest primeval is best seen from the top 
of a mountain. It then impresses one by its 
extent, like an Oriental epic. To be in it is no- 
thing, for then an acre is as good as a thousand 
square miles. You cannot see five rods in any 
direction, and the ferns, mosses, and tree-trunks 
just around you are the best of it. As for soli- 
tude, night will make a better one with ten feet 
square of pitch dark ; and mere size is hardly 
an element of grandeur, except in works of man, 
— as the Colosseum. It is through one or the 
other pole of vanity that men feel the sublime 
in mountains. It is either. How small great I 
am beside it ! or. Big as you are, little I's soul 
will hold a dozen of you. The true idea of a 
forest is not a selva sehaggia^ but something 
humanized a little, as we imagine the forest of 
Arden, with trees standing at royal intervals, — 
a commonwealth, and not a communism. To 
some moods, it is congenial to look over end- 
less leagues of unbroken savagery without a hint 
of man. 

Wednesday. — This morning fished. Telema- 
chus caught a laker of thirteen pounds and a half, 
and I an overgrown cusk, which we threw away, 
but which I found afterwards Agassiz would 
have been glad of, for all is fish that comes to 
his net, from the fossil down. The fish, when 



A MOOSEHEAD JOURNAL 117 

caught, are straightway knocked on the head. 
A lad who went with us seeming to show an 
over-zeal in this operation, we remonstrated. 
But he gave a good human reason for it, — 
" He no need to ha' gone and been a fish if he 
did n't like it," — an excuse which superior 
strength or cunning has always found sufficient. 
It was some comfort, in this case, to think that 
St. Jerome believed in a limitation of God's 
providence, and that it did not extend to inani- 
mate things or creatures devoid of reason. 

Thus, my dear Storg, I have finished my 
Oriental adventures, and somewhat, it must be 
owned, in the diffuse Oriental manner. There 
is very little about Moosehead Lake in it, and 
not even the Latin name for moose, which I 
might have obtained by sufficient research. If 
I had killed one, I would have given you his 
name in that dead language. I did not profess to 
give you an account of the lake ; but a journal, 
and, moreover, my journal, with a little nature, 
a little human nature, and a great deal of I in 
it, which last ingredient I take to be the true 
spirit of this species of writing ; all the rest 
being so much water for tender throats which 
cannot take it neat. 



LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL IN 
ITALY AND ELSEWHERE 



LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL IN 
ITALY AND ELSEWHERE 

1854 
I 

AT SEA 

THE sea was meant to be looked at from 
shore, as mountains are from the plain. 
Lucretius made this discovery long 
ago, and was blunt enough to blurt it forth, 
romance and sentiment — in other words, the 
pretence of feeling what we do not feel — being 
inventions of a later day. To be sure, Cicero 
used to twaddle about Greek literature and 
philosophy, much as people do about ancient 
art nowadays ; but I rather sympathize with 
those stout old Romans who despised both, and 
believed that to found an empire was as grand 
an achievement as to build an epic or to carve 
a statue. But though there might have been 
twaddle (as why not, since there was a Senate ?), 
I rather think Petrarch was the first choragus 
of that sentimental dance which so long led 
young folks away from the realities of life like 



122 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

the piper of Hamelin, and whose succession 
ended, let us hope, with Chateaubriand. But 
for them, Byron, whose real strength lay in his 
sincerity, would never have talked about the 
" sea bounding beneath him like a steed that 
knows his rider," and all that sort of thing. 
Even if it had been true, steam has been as fatal 
to that part of the romance of the sea as to hand- 
loom weaving. But what say you to a twelve 
days' calm such as we dozed through in mid- 
Atlantic and in mid- August ? I know nothing 
so tedious at once and exasperating as that regu- 
lar slap of the wilted sails when the ship rises 
and falls with the slow breathing of the sleeping 
sea, one greasy, brassy swell following another, 
slow, smooth, immitigable as the series of 
Wordsworth's " Ecclesiastical Sonnets." Even 
at his best, Neptune, in a tete-a-tete, has a way 
of repeating himself, an obtuseness to the ne 
quid nimisy that is stupefying. It reminds me of 
organ-music and my good friend Sebastian Bach. 
A fugue or two will do very well ; but a con- 
cert made up of nothing else is altogether too 
epic for me. There is nothing so desperately 
monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder 
at the cruelty of pirates. Fancy an existence in 
which the coming up of a clumsy finback whale, 
who says Pooh ! to you solemnly as you lean 
over the taffrail, is an event as exciting as an 
election on shore ! The dampness seems to 



AT SEA 123 

strike into the wits as into the lucifer-matches, 
so that one may scratch a thought half a dozen 
times and get nothing at last but a faint sputter, 
the forlorn hope of fire, which only goes far 
enough to leave a sense of suffocation behind it. 
Even smoking becomes an employment instead 
of a solace. "Who less likely to come to their 
wit's end than W. M. T. and A. H. C. ? Yet 
I have seen them driven to five meals a day for 
mental occupation. I sometimes sit and pity 
Noah ; but even he had this advantage over all 
succeeding navigators, that, wherever he landed, 
he was sure to get no ill news from home. He 
should be canonized as the patron saint of news- 
paper correspondents, being the only man who 
ever had the very last authentic intelligence from 
everywhere. 

The finback whale recorded just above has 
much the look of a brown-paper parcel, — the 
whitish stripes that run across him answering 
for the pack-thread. He has a kind of acci- 
dental hole in the top of his head, through which 
he ■pooh-poohs the rest of creation, and which 
looks as if it had been made by the chance 
thrust of a chestnut rail. He was our first event. 
Our second was harpooning a sunfish, which 
basked dozing on the lap of the sea, looking 
so much like the giant turtle of an alderman's 
dream, that I am persuaded he would have let 
himself be made into mock-turtle soup rather 



124 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

than acknowledge his imposture. But he broke 
away just as they were hauHng him over the 
side, and sank placidly through the clear water, 
leaving behind him a crimson trail that wavered 
a moment and was gone. 

The sea, though, has better sights than these. 
When we were up with the Azores, we began 
to meet flying-fish and Portuguese men-of-war 
beautiful as the galley of Cleopatra, tiny craft 
that dared these seas before Columbus. I have 
seen one of the former rise from the crest of a 
wave, and, glancing from another some two 
hundred feet beyond, take a fresh flight of per- 
haps as far. How Calderon would have simi- 
lized this pretty creature had he ever seen it ! 
How would he have run him up and down the 
gamut of simile ! If a fish, then a fish with 
wings ; if a bird, then a bird with fins ; and so 
on, keeping up the light shuttle-cock of a con- 
ceit as is his wont. Indeed, the poor thing is 
the most killing bait for a comparison, and I 
assure you I have three or four in my inkstand ; 
— but be calm, they shall stay there. Moore, 
who looked on all nature as a kind of Gradus 
ad Parnassuniy a thesaurus of similitude, and 
spent his life in a game of What is my thought 
like ? with himself, did the flying-fish on his way 
to Bermuda. So I leave him in peace. 

The most beautiful thing I have seen at sea, 
all the more so that I had never heard of it, is 



AT SEA 125 

the trail of a shoal of fish through the phospho- 
rescent water. It is like a flight of silver rock- 
ets, or the streaming of northern lights through 
that silent nether heaven. I thought nothing 
could go beyond that rustling star-foam which 
was churned up by our ship's bows, or those 
eddies and disks of dreamy flame that rose and 
wandered out of sight behind us. 

' T was fire our ship was plunging through. 
Cold fire that o'er the quarter flew; 
And wandering moons of idle flame 
Grew full and waned, and went and came. 
Dappling with light the huge sea-snake 
That slid behind us in the wake. 

But there was something even more delicately 
rare in the apparition of the fish, as they turned 
up in gleaming furrows the latent moonshine 
which the ocean seemed to have hoarded against 
these vacant interlunar nights. In the Mediter- 
ranean one day, as we were lying becalmed, I 
observed the water freckled with dingy specks, 
which at last gathered to a pinkish scum on the 
surface. The sea had been so phosphorescent 
for some nights, that when the captain gave 
me my bath, by dousing me with buckets from 
the house on deck, the spray flew off my head 
and shoulders in sparks. It occurred to me that 
this dirty-looking scum might be the luminous 
matter, and I had a pailful dipped up to keep 
till after dark. When I went to look at it after 



126 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

nightfall, it seemed at first perfectly dead ; but 
when I shook it, the whole broke out into what 
I can only liken to milky flames, whose lambent 
silence was strangely beautiful, and startled me 
almost as actual projection might an alchemist. 
I could not bear to be the death of so much 
beauty ; so I poured it all overboard again. 

Another sight worth taking a voyage for is 
that of the sails by moonlight. Our course was 
" south and by east, half south," so that we 
seemed bound for the full moon as she rolled 
up over our wavering horizon. Then I used to 
go forward to the bowsprit and look back. Our 
ship was a clipper, with every rag set, stunsails, 
sky-scrapers, and all ; nor was it easy to believe 
that such a wonder could be built of canvas as 
that white many-storied pile of cloud that 
stooped over me or drew back as we rose and 
fell with the waves. 

These are all the wonders 1 can recall of my 
five weeks at sea, except the sun. Were you 
ever alone with the sun ? You think it a very 
simple question ; but I never was, in the full 
sense of the word, till I was held up to him one 
cloudless day on the broad buckler of the ocean. 
I suppose one might have the same feeling in 
the desert. I remember getting something like 
it years ago, when I climbed alone to the top 
of a mountain, and lay face up on the hot gray 
moss, striving to get a notion of how an Arab 



AT SEA 127 

might feel. It was my American commentary 
of the Koran, and not a bad one. In a New 
England winter, too, when everything is gagged 
with snow, as if some gigantic physical geo- 
grapher were taking a cast of the earth's face in 
plaster, the bare knob of a hill will introduce 
you to the sun as a comparative stranger. But 
at sea you may be alone with him day after day, 
and almost all day long. I never understood 
before that nothing short of full daylight can 
give the supremest sense of solitude. Darkness 
will not do so, for the imagination peoples it 
with more shapes than ever were poured from 
the frozen loins of the populous North. The 
sun, I sometimes think, is a little grouty at sea, 
especially at high noon, feeling that he wastes 
his beams on those fruitless furrows. It is other- 
wise with the moon. She " comforts the night," 
as Chapman finely says, and I always found her 
a companionable creature. 

In the ocean horizon I took untiring delight. 
It is the true magic circle of expectation and 
conjecture, — almost as good as a wishing-ring. 
What will rise over that edge we sail towards 
daily and never overtake ? A sail ? an island ? 
the new shore of the Old World ? Something 
rose every day, which I need not have gone so 
far to see, but at whose levee I was a much 
more faithful courtier than on shore. A cloud- 
less sunrise in mid-ocean is beyond comparison 



128 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

for simple grandeur. It is like Dante's style, 
bare and perfect. Naked sun meets naked sea, 
the true classic of nature. There may be more 
sentiment in morning on shore, — the shivering 
fairy-jewelry of dew, the silver point-lace of 
sparkling hoar-frost, — but there is also more 
complexity, more of the romantic. The one 
savors of the elder Edda, the other of the Min- 
nesingers. 

And I thus floating, lonely elf, 

A kind of planet by myself, 

The mists draw up and furl away. 

And in the east a warming gray. 

Faint as the tint of oaken woods 

When o'er their buds May breathes and broods. 

Tells that the golden simrise-tide 

Is lapsing up earth's thirsty side. 

Each moment purpUng on the crest 

Of some stark billow farther west: 

And as the sea-moss droops and hears 

The gurgling flood that nears and nears. 

And then with tremulous content 

Floats out each thankful filament. 

So waited I until it came, 

God's daily miracle, — O shame 

That I had seen so many days 

Unthankflil, without wondering praise. 

Not recking more this bliss of earth 

Than the cheap fire that lights my hearth ! 

But now glad thoughts and holy pour 

Into my heart, as once a year 

To San Miniato's open door. 

In long procession, chanting clear. 



AT SEA 129 

Through slopes of sun, through shadows hoar. 

The coupled monks slow-climbing sing, 

And like a golden censer swing 

From rear to front, from front to rear 

Their alternating bursts of praise. 

Till the roof's fading seraphs gaze 

Down through an odorous mist, that crawls 

Lingeringly up the darkened walls. 

And the dim arches, silent long. 

Are startled with triumphant song. 

I wrote yesterday that the sea still rimmed 
our prosy lives with mystery and conjecture. 
But one is shut up on shipboard Hke Montaigne 
in his tower, with nothing to do but to review 
his own thoughts and contradict himself. Dire^ 
i^edirCj et me contredire^ will be the staple of my 
journal till I see land. I say nothing of such 
matters as the montagna bruna on which Ulysses 
wrecked ; but since the sixteenth century could 
any man reasonably hope to stumble on one of 
those wonders which were cheap as dirt in the 
days of St. Saga ? Faustus, Don Juan, and 
Tannhauser are the last ghosts of legend, that 
lingered almost till the Gallic cock-crow of uni- 
versal enlightenment and disillusion. The Pub- 
lic School has done for Imagination. What 
shall I see in Outre-Mer, or on the way thither, 
but what can be seen with eyes ? To be sure, I 
stick by the sea-serpent, and would fain believe 
that science has scotched, not killed him. Nor 
is he to be lightly given up, for, like the old 



I30 LEAVES FROiM MY JOURNAL 

Scandinavian snake, he binds together for us 
the two hemispheres of Past and Present, of 
Belief and Science. He is the link which knits 
us seaboard Yankees with our Norse progeni- 
tors, interpreting between the age of the dragon 
and that of the railroad train. We have made 
ducks and drakes of that large estate of wonder 
and delight bequeathed to us by .ancestral Vik- 
ings, and this alone remains to us unthrift Heirs 
of Linne. 

I feel an undefined respect for a man who has 
seen the sea-serpent. He is to his brother fishers 
what the poet is to his fellow men. Where they 
have seen nothing better than a school of horse- 
mackerel, or the idle coils of ocean round Half- 
way Rock, he has caught authentic glimpses of 
the withdrawing mantle-hem of the Edda age. I 
care not for the monster himself. It is not the 
thing, but the beHef in the thing, that is dear to 
me. May it be long before Professor Owen is 
comforted with the sight of his unfleshed verte- 
brae, long before they stretch many a rood behind 
Kimball's or Barnum's glass, reflected in the 
shallow orbs of Mr. and Mrs. Public, which 
stare, but see not ! I speak of him in the sin- 
gular number, for I insist on believing that there 
is but one left, without chance of duplicate. 
When we read that Captain Spalding, of the 
pink-stern Three Pollies, has beheld him rushing 
through the brine like an infinite series of be- 



AT SEA 131 

witched mackerel-casks, we feel that the mystery 
of old Ocean, at least, has not yet been sounded, 
— that Faith and Awe survive there unevapo- 
rate. I once ventured the horse-mackerel theory 
to an old fisherman, browner than a tomcod. 
" Hos-mackril ! " he exclaimed indignantly ; 
" hos-mackril be " — (here he used a phrase 
commonly indicated in laical literature by the 
same sign which serves for Doctorate in Divin- 
ity), " don't yer spose / know a hos-mackril? " 
The intonation of that " / " would have silenced 
Professor Monkbarns Owen with his provoking 
phoca forever. What if one should ask him if 
he knew a trilobite ? 

The fault of modern travellers is, that they 
see nothing out of sight. They talk of eocene 
periods and tertiary formations, and tell us how 
the world looked to the plesiosaur. They take 
science (or nescience) with them, instead of that 
soul of generous trust their elders had. All 
their senses are sceptics and doubters, material- 
ists reporting things for other sceptics to doubt 
still further upon. Nature becomes a reluctant 
witness upon the stand, badgered with geologist 
hammers and phials of acid. There have been 
no travellers since those included in Hakluyt 
and Purchas, except Martin, perhaps, who saw 
an inch or two into the invisible at the Western 
Islands. We have peripatetic lecturers, but no 
more travellers. Travellers' stories are no longer 



132 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

proverbial. We have picked nearly every apple 
(wormy or otherwise) from the world's tree of 
knowledge, and that without an Eve to tempt 
us. Two or three have hitherto hung luckily 
beyond reach on a lofty bough shadowing 
the interior of Africa, but there is a German 
Doctor at this very moment pelting at them 
with sticks and stones. It may be only next 
week, and these too, bitten by geographers and 
geologists, will be thrown away. 

Analysis is carried into everything. Even 
Deity is subjected to chemic tests. We must 
have exact knowledge, a cabinet stuck full of 
facts pressed, dried, or preserved in spirits, in- 
stead of the large, vague world our fathers had. 
With them science was poetry ; with us, poetry 
is science. Our modern Eden is a hortus siccus. 
Tourists defraud rather than enrich us. They 
have not that sense of sesthetic proportion which 
characterized the elder traveller. Earth is no 
longer the fine work of art it was, for nothing is 
left to the imagination. Job Hortop, arrived 
at the height of the Bermudas, thinks it full 
time to indulge us in a merman. Nay, there is a 
story told by Webster, in his " Witchcraft," of 
a merman with a mitre, who, on being sent back 
to his watery diocese of finland, made what ad- 
vances he could toward an episcopal benediction 
by bowing his head thrice. Doubtless he had 
been consecrated by St. Anthony of Padua. A 



AT SEA 133 

dumb bishop would be sometimes no unplea- 
sant phenomenon, by the way. Sir John Haw- 
kins is not satisfied with telling us about the 
merely sensual Canaries, but is generous enough 
to throw us in a handful of " certain flitting 
islands " to boot. Henry Hawkes describes the 
visible Mexican cities, and then is not so frugal 
but that he can give us a few invisible ones. 
Thus do these generous ancient mariners make 
children of us again. Their successors show us 
an earth effete and in a double sense past bear- 
ing, tracing out with the eyes of industrious fleas 
every wrinkle and crowfoot. 

The journals of the elder navigators are prose 
Odysseys. The geographies of our ancestors 
were works of fancy and imagination. They 
read poems where we yawn over items. Their 
world was a huge wonder-horn, exhaustless as 
that which Thor strove to drain. Ours would 
scarce quench the small thirst of a bee. No 
modern voyager brings back the magical foun- 
dation-stones of a Tempest. No Marco Polo, 
traversing the desert beyond the city of Lok, 
would tell of things able to inspire the mind of 
Milton with 

" Calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire. 
And airy tongues that syllable men's names 
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses." 

It was easy enough to believe the story of 
Dante, when two thirds of even the upper- 



134 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

world were yet untraversed and unmapped. 
With every step of the recent traveller our in- 
heritance of the wonderful is diminished. Those 
beautifully pictured notes of the Possible are 
redeemed at a ruinous discount in the hard and 
cumbrous coin of the Actual. How are we not 
defrauded and impoverished ? Does California 
vie with El Dorado ? or are Bruce's Abyssinian 
kings a set-off for Prester John ? A bird in the 
bush is worth two in the hand. And if the 
philosophers have not even yet been able to 
agree whether the world has any existence in- 
dependent of ourselves, how do we not gain a 
loss in every addition to the catalogue of Vulgar 
Errors ? Where are the fishes which nidificated 
in trees ? Where the monopodes sheltering 
themselves from the sun beneath their single 
umbrella-like foot, — umbrella-like in every- 
thing but the fatal necessity of being borrowed ? 
Where the Acephali, with whom Herodotus, 
in a kind of ecstasy, wound up his climax of 
men with abnormal top-pieces ? Where the 
Roc whose eggs are possibly boulders, needing 
no far-fetched theory of glacier or iceberg to 
account for them ? Where the tails of the men 
of Kent ? Where the no legs of the bird of 
paradise ? Where the Unicorn, with that single 
horn of his, sovereign against all manner of 
poisons ? Where that Thessalian spring, which, 
without cost to the country y convicted and pun- 



AT SEA 135 

ished perjurers ? Where the Amazons of Orel- 
lana ? Where, in short, the Fountain of Youth ? 
All these, and a thousand other varieties, we 
have lost, and have got nothing instead of 
them. And those who have robbed us of them 
have stolen that which not enriches themselves. 
It is so much wealth cast into the sea beyond 
all approach of diving-bells. We owe no thanks 
to Mr. J. E. Worcester, whose Geography we 
studied enforcedly at school. Yet even he had 
his relentings, and in some softer moment 
vouchsafed us a fine, inspiring print of the 
Maelstrom, answerable to the twenty-four mile 
diameter of its suction. Year by year, more and 
more of the world gets disenchanted. Even the 
icy privacy of the arctic and antarctic circles is 
invaded. Our youth are no longer ingenuous, 
as indeed no ingenuity is demanded of them. 
Everything is accounted for, everything cut and 
dried, and the world may be put together as 
easily as the fragments of a dissected map. The 
Mysterious bounds nothing now on the North, 
South, East, or West. We have played Jack 
Horner with our earth, till there is never a 
plum left in it. 



136 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

II 

IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 

The first sight of a shore so historical as that 
of Europe gives an American a strange thrilL 
What we always feel the artistic want of at 
home is background. It is all idle to say we 
are Englishmen, and that English history is 
ours too. It is precisely in this that we are not 
Englishmen, inasmuch as we only possess their 
history through our minds, and not by life-long 
association with a spot and an idea we call Eng- 
land. History without the soil it grew in is 
more instructive than inspiring, — an acquisi- 
tion, and not an inheritance. It is laid away in 
our memories, and does not run in our veins. 
Surely, in all that concerns Eesthetics, Europeans 
have us at an immense advantage. They start 
at a point which we arrive at after weary years, 
for literature is not shut up in books, nor art in 
galleries : both are taken in by unconscious ab- 
sorption through the finer pores of mind and 
character in the atmosphere of society. We are 
not yet out of our Crusoe-hood, and must make 
our own tools as best we may. Yet I think we 
shall find the good of it one of these days, in 
being thrown back more wholly on Nature ; 
and our literature, when we have learned to feel 
our own strength, and to respect our own 



IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 137 

thought because it is ours, and not because the 
European Mrs. Grundy agrees with it, will 
have a fresh flavor and a strong body that will 
recommend it, especially as what we import is 
watered more and more liberally with every 
vintage. 

My first glimpse of Europe was the shore 
of Spain. One morning a cream-colored blur 
on the now unwavering horizon's edge was 
pointed out to me as Cadiz. Since we got into 
the Mediterranean, we have been becalmed for 
some days within easy view of land. All along 
are fine mountains, brown all day, and with a 
bloom on them at sunset like that of a ripe 
plum. Here and there at their feet little white 
towns are sprinkled along the edge of the water, 
like the grains of rice dropped by the princess 
in the story. Sometimes we see larger build- 
ings on the mountain slopes, probably con- 
vents. I sit and wonder whether the farther 
peaks may not be the Sierra Morena (the rusty 
saw) of Don Quixote. I resolve that they shall 
be, and am content. Surely latitude and longi- 
tude never showed me any particular respect, 
that I should be over-scrupulous with them. 

But after all. Nature, though she may be 
more beautiful, is nowhere so entertaining as 
in man, and the best thing I have seen and 
learned at sea is our chief mate. My first ac- 
quaintance with him was made over my knife. 



138 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

which he asked to look at, and, after a critical 
examination, handed back to me, saying, " I 
should n't wonder if that 'ere was a good piece 
o' stuff." Since then he has transferred a part 
of his regard for my knife to its owner. I like 
folks who like an honest bit of steel, and take 
no interest whatever in " your Raphaels, Cor- 
reggios, and stuff." There is always more than 
the average human nature in a man who has a 
hearty sympathy with iron. It is a manly metal, 
with no sordid associations like gold and silver. 
My sailor fully came up to my expectation on 
further acquaintance. He might well be called 
an old salt who had been wrecked on Spitz- 
bergen before I was born. He was not an 
American, but I should never have guessed it 
by his speech, which was the purest Cape Cod, 
and I reckon myself a good taster of dialects. 
Nor was he less Americanized in all his 
thoughts and feelings, a singular proof of the 
ease with which our omnivorous country as- 
similates foreign matter, provided it be Pro- 
testant, for he was a grown man ere he became 
an American citizen. He used to walk the deck 
with his hands in his pockets, in seeming ab- 
straction, but nothing escaped his eye. How he 
saw, I could never make out, though I had a 
theory that it was with his elbows. After he 
had taken me (or my knife) into his confidence, 
he took care that I should see whatever he 



IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 139 

deemed of interest to a landsman. Without 
looking up, he would say, suddenly, " Ther 's 
a whale blowin' clearn up to win'ard," or, 
" Them 's porpises to leeward : that means 
change o' wind." He is as impervious to cold 
as a polar bear, and paces the deck during his 
watch much as one of those yellow hummocks 
goes slumping up and down his cage. On 
the Atlantic, if the wind blew a gale from the 
northeast, and it was cold as an English sum- 
mer, he was sure to turn out in a calico shirt 
and trousers, his furzy brown chest half bare, 
and slippers, without stockings. But lest you 
might fancy this to have chanced by defect of 
wardrobe, he comes out in a monstrous pea- 
jacket here in the Mediterranean, when the 
evening is so hot that Adam would have been 
glad to leave off his fig-leaves. " It 's a kind o* 
damp and unwholesome in these 'ere waters," 
he says, evidently regarding the Midland Sea 
as a vile standing pool, in comparison with the 
bluff ocean. At meals he is superb, not only 
for his strengths, but his weaknesses. He has 
somehow or other come to think me a wag, 
and if I ask him to pass the butter, detects an 
occult joke, and laughs as much as is proper 
for a mate. For you must know that our social 
hierarchy on shipboard is precise, and the sec- 
ond mate, were he present, would only laugh 
half as much as the first. Mr. X. always combs 



HO LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

his hair, and works himself into a black frock- 
coat (on Sundays he adds a waistcoat) before he 
comes to meals, sacrificing himself nobly and 
painfully to the social proprieties. The second 
mate, on the other hand, who eats after us, en- 
joys the privilege of shirt-sleeves, and is, 1 
think, the happier man of the two. We do not 
have seats above and below the salt, as in old 
time, but above and below the white sugar. 
Mr. X. always takes brown sugar, and it is de- 
lightful to see how he ignores the existence of 
certain delicates which he considers above his 
grade, tipping his head on one side with an air 
of abstraction, so that he may seem not to deny 
himself, but to omit helping himself from inad- 
vertence or absence of mind. At such times he 
wrinkles his forehead in a peculiar manner, in- 
scrutable at first as a cuneiform inscription, but 
as easily read after you once get the key. The 
sense of it is something like this : " I, X., 
know my place, a height of wisdom attained by 
few. Whatever you may think, I do not see 
that currant jelly, nor that preserved grape. 
Especially, a kind Providence has made me 
blind to bowls of white sugar, and deaf to the 
pop of champagne corks. It is much that a 
merciful compensation gives me a sense of the 
dingier hue of Havana, and the muddier gurgle 
of beer. Are there potted meats ? My phy- 
sician has ordered me three pounds of minced 



IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 141 

salt-junk at every meal." There is such a thing, 
you know, as a ship's husband : X. is the ship's 
poor relation. 

As I have said, he takes also a below-the- 
white-sugar interest in the jokes, laughing by 
precise point of compass, just as he would lay 
the ship's course, all yawing being out of the 
question with his scrupulous decorum at the 
helm. Once or twice I have got the better of 
him, and touched him off into a kind of com- 
promised explosion, like that of damp fireworks, 
that splutter and simmer a little, and then go 
out with painful slowness and occasional re- 
lapses. But his fuse is always of the unwilling- 
est, and you must blow your match, and touch 
him off again and again with the same joke. Or 
rather, you must magnetize him many times to 
get him en rapport with a jest. This once ac- 
complished, you have him, and one bit of fun 
will last the whole voyage. He prefers those of 
one syllable, the a-b ahs of humor. The grad- 
ual fattening of the steward, a benevolent mu- 
latto with whiskers and ear-rings, who looks 
as if he had been meant for a woman, and had 
become a man by accident, as in some of those 
stories of the elder physiologists, is an abiding 
topic of humorous comment with Mr. X. 
" That 'ere stooard," he says, with a brown grin 
like what you might fancy on the face of a seri- 
ous and aged seal, " 's a-gittin' as fat 's a porpis. 



H2 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

He was as thin 's a shingle when he come aboord 
last v'yge. Them trousis '11 bust yit. He don't 
darst take 'em off nights, for the whole ship's 
company could n't git him into 'em agin." And 
then he turns aside to enjoy the intensity of his 
emotion by himself, and you hear at intervals 
low rumblings, an indigestion of laughter. He 
tells me of St. Elmo's fires, Marvell's corposants^ 
though with him the original corpos santos has 
suffered a sea change, and turned to comeplea- 
sants^ pledges of fine weather. I shall not soon 
find a pleasanter companion. It is so delightful 
to meet a man who knows just what you do not. 
Nay, I think the tired mind finds something in 
plump ignorance like what the body feels in 
cushiony moss. Talk of the sympathy of kin- 
dred pursuits ! It is the sympathy of the upper 
and nether millstones, both forever grinding the 
same grist, and wearing each other smooth. 
One has not far to seek for book-nature, artist- 
nature, every variety of superinduced nature, in 
short, but genuine human-nature is hard to find. 
And how good it is ! Wholesome as a potato, 
fit company for any dish. The freemasonry of 
cultivated men is agreeable, but artificial, and I 
like better the natural grip with which manhood 
recognizes manhood. 

X. has one good story, and with that I leave 
him, wishing him with all my heart that little 
inland farm at last which is his calenture as he 



IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 143 

paces the windy deck. One evening, when the 
clouds looked wild and whirling, I asked X. if 
it was coming on to blow. " No, guess not," 
said he ; " bumby the moon '11 be up, and scoff 
away that 'ere loose stuff." His intonation set 
the phrase " scoff away " in quotation-marks as 
plain as print. So I put a query in each eye, and 
he went on. " Ther' was a Dutch cappen onct, 
an' his mate come to him in the cabin, where he 
sot takin' his schnapps, an* says, ' Cappen, it 's 
a-gittin' thick, an* looks kin* o' squally ; hed n't 
we 's good 's shorten sail ? ' * Gimmy my al- 
minick,' says the cappen. So he looks at it a 
spell, an' says he, 'The moon 's doo in less 'n 
half an hour, an' she '11 scoff away ev'ythin' clare 
agin.' So the mate he goes, an' bumby down 
he comes agin, an' says, ' Cappen, this 'ere 's the 
allfiredest, powerfullest moon *t ever you did 
see. She 's scoffed away the maintogallants'l, 
an' she 's to work on the foretops'l now. Guess 
you 'd better look in the alminick agin, an' fin' 
out when this moon sets,' So the cappen thought 
't was 'bout time to go on deck. Dreadful slow 
them Dutch cappens be." And X. walked away, 
rumbling inwardly, like the rote of the sea heard 
afar. 

And so we arrived at Malta. Did you ever 
hear of one of those eating-houses, where, for a 
certain fee, the guest has the right to make one 
thrust with a fork into a huge pot, in which the 



144 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

whole dinner is bubbling, getting perhaps a bit 
of boiled meat, or a potato, or else nothing? 
Well, when the great caldron of war is seething, 
and the nations stand round it striving to fish 
out something to their purpose from the mess, 
Britannia always has a great advantage in her 
trident. Malta is one of the titbits she has im- 
paled with that awful implement. I was not 
sorry for it, when I reached my clean inn, with 
its kindly English landlady. 



Ill 

ITALY 

The father of the celebrated Mr. Jonathan 
Wild was in the habit of saying, that " travel- 
ling was travelling in one part of the world as 
well as another ; it consisted in being such a 
time from home, and in traversing so many 
leagues ; and he appealed to experience whether 
most of our travellers in France and Italy did 
not prove at their return that they might have 
been sent as profitably to Norway and Green- 
land." Fielding himself, the author of this sar- 
casm, was a very different kind of traveller, as 
his Lisbon journal shows ; but we think he told 
no more than the truth in regard to the far 
greater part of those idle people who powder 



ITALY 145 

themselves with dust from the highways and 
blur their memories with a whirl through the 
galleries of Europe. They go out empty, to 
come home unprofitably full. They go abroad 
to escape themselves, and fail, as Goethe says 
they always must, in the attempt to jump away 
from their own shadows. And yet even the 
dullest man, if he went honestly about it, might 
bring home something worth having from the 
dullest place. If Ovid, instead of sentimentaliz- 
ing in the " Tristia," had left behind him a trea- 
tise on the language of the Getae which he learned, 
we should have thanked him for something 
more truly valuable than all his poems. Could 
men only learn how comfortably the world can 
get along without the various information which 
they bring home about themselves ! Honest 
observation and report will long continue, we 
fear, to be one of the rarest of human things, 
so much more easily are spectacles to be had 
than eyes, so much cheaper is fine writing than 
exactness. Let any one who has sincerely en- 
deavored to get anything like facts with regard 
to the battles of our civil war only consider how 
much more he has learned concerning the splen- 
did emotions of the reporter than the events of 
the fight (unless he has had the good luck of 
a peep into the correspondence of some price- 
lessly uncultivated private), and he will feel that 
narrative, simple as it seems, can be well done 



146 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

by two kinds of men only, — those of the 
highest genius and culture, and those wholly 
without either. 

It gradually becomes clear to us that the 
easiest things can be done with ease only by 
the very fewest people, and those specially en- 
dowed to that end. The English language, for 
instance, can show but one sincere diarist, 
Pepys ; and yet it should seem a simple matter 
enough to jot down the events of every day for 
one's self without thinking of Mrs. Posterity 
Grundy, who has a perverse way, as if she were 
a testatrix and not an heir, of forgetting pre- 
cisely those who pay most assiduous court to 
her. One would think, too, that to travel and 
tell what you have seen should be tolerably 
easy ; but in ninety-nine books out of a hun- 
dred does not the tourist bore us with the sen- 
sations he thinks he ought to have experienced, 
instead of letting us know what he saw and 
felt? If authors would only consider that the 
way to write an enlivening book is not by see- 
ing and saying just what would be expected of 
them, but precisely the reverse, the public would 
be gainers. What tortures have we not seen 
the worthiest people go through in endeavoring 
to get up the appropriate emotion before some 
famous work in a foreign gallery, when the only 
sincere feeling they had was a praiseworthy de- 
sire to escape ! If one does not like the Venus 



ITALY 147 

of Melos, let him not fret about it, for he may 
be sure she never will. 

Montaigne felt obliged to separate himself 
from travelling-companions whose only notion 
of their function was that of putting so many 
leagues a day behind them. His theory was 
that of Ulysses, who was not content with see- 
ing the cities of many men, but would learn 
their minds also. And this way of taking time 
enough, while we think it the best everywhere, 
is especially excellent in a country so much the 
reverse oi fast as Italy, where impressions need 
to steep themselves in the sun and ripen slowly 
as peaches, and where carpe diem should be 
translated take your own time. But is there any 
particular reason why everybody should go to 
Italy, or, having done so, should tell everybody 
else what he supposes he ought to have seen 
there ? Surely, there must be some adequate 
cause for so constant an effect. 

Boswell, in a letter to Sir Andrew Mitchell, 
says that, if he could only see Rome^ " it would 
give him talk for a lifetime." The utmost 
stretch of his longing is to pass " four months 
on classic ground," after which he will come 
back to Auchinleck uti conviva satur, — a con- 
dition in which we fear the poor fellow returned 
thither only too often, though unhappily in no 
metaphorical sense. We rather think, that, 
apart from the pleasure of saying he had been 



148 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

there, Boswell was really drawn to Italy by the 
fact that it was classic ground, and this not so 
much by its association with great events as with 
great men, for whom, with all his weaknesses, he 
had an invincible predilection. But Italy has a 
magnetic virtue quite peculiar to her, which com- 
pels alike steel and straw, finding something in 
men of the most diverse temperaments by which 
to draw them to herself. Like the Siren, she 
sings to every voyager a different song, that 
lays hold on the special weakness of his nature. 
The German goes thither because Winckelmann 
and Goethe went, and because he can find there 
a sausage stronger than his own ; the French- 
man, that he may flavor his infidelity with a 
bitter dash of Ultramontanism, or find fresher 
zest in his chattering boulevard after the sombre 
loneliness of Rome ; the Englishman, because 
the same Providence that hears the young 
ravens when they cry is careful to furnish prey 
to the courier also, and because his money will 
make him a Milor in partibus. But to the 
American, especially if he be of an imaginative 
temper, Italy has a deeper charm. She gives 
him cheaply what gold cannot buy for him at 
home, a Past at once legendary and authentic, 
and in which he has an equal claim with every 
other foreigner. In England he is a poor re- 
lation whose right in the entail of home tra- 
ditions has been docked by revolution; of 



ITALY 149 

France his notions are purely English, and he 
can scarce help feeling something like con- 
tempt for a people who habitually conceal their 
meaning in French ; but Rome is the mother 
country of every boy who has devoured Plu- 
tarch or taken his daily doses of Florus. Italy 
gives us antiquity with good roads, cheap living, 
and, above all, a sense of freedom from respon- 
sibility. For him who has escaped thither there 
is no longer any tyranny of public opinion ; 
its fetters drop from his limbs when he touches 
that consecrated shore, and he rejoices in the 
recovery of his own individuality. He is no 
longer met at every turn with " Under which 
king, bezonian ? Speak, or die ! " He is not 
forced to take one side or the other about table- 
tipping, or the merits of General Blank, or the 
constitutionality of anarchy. He has found an 
Eden where he need not hide his natural 
self in the livery of any opinion, and may be as 
happy as Adam, if he be wise enough to keep 
clear of the apple of High Art. This may 
be very weak, but it is also very agreeable to 
certain temperaments ; and to be weak is to 
be miserable only where it is a duty to be 
strong. 

Coming from a country where everything 
seems shifting like a quicksand, where men 
shed their homes as snakes their skins, where 
you may meet a three-story house, or even a 



ISO LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

church, on the highway, bitten by the univer- 
sal gadfly of bettering its position, where we 
have known a tree to be cut down merely be- 
cause " it had got to be so old," the sense 
of permanence, unchangeableness, and repose 
which Italy gives us is delightful. The oft-re- 
peated non e piu come era prima may be true 
enough of Rome politically, but it is not true 
of it in most other respects. To be sure, gas 
and railroads have got in at last ; but one may 
still read by a lucerna and travel by vettura, if 
he like, using Alberti as a guide-book, and put- 
ting up at the Bear as a certain keen-eyed Gas- 
con did three centuries ago. 

There is, perhaps, no country with which we 
are so intimate as with Italy, — none of which 
we are always so willing to hear more. Poets 
and prosers have alike compared her to a beau- 
tiful woman ; and while one finds nothing but 
loveliness in her, another shudders at her fatal 
fascination. She is the very Witch-Venus of 
the Middle Ages. Roger Ascham says, " I was 
once in Italy myself, but I thank God my 
abode there was but nine days ; and yet I saw 
in that little time, in one city, more liberty to 
sin than ever I heard tell of in our noble city 
of London in nine years." He quotes tri- 
umphantly the proverb, — Inglese italianato^di- 
avolo incarnato. A century later, the entertain- 
ing " Richard Lassels, Gent., who Travelled 



ITALY 151 

through Italy Five times as Tutor to several 
of the English Nobility and Gentry," and who 
is open to new engagements in that kind, de- 
clares, that, " For the Country itself, it seemed 
to me to be Nature's Darlings and the Eldest 
Sister of all other Countries ; carrying away 
from them all the greatest blessings and favours, 
and receiving such gracious looks from the Sun 
and Heaven, that, if there be any fault in Italy, 
it is, that her Mother JV^/z^r^' hath cockered her 
too much, even to make her become Wanton." 
Plainly, our Tannhauser is but too ready to go 
back to the Venus-berg ! 

Another word about Italy seems a dangerous 
experiment. Has not all been told and told 
and told again ? Is it not one chief charm of 
the land, that it is changeless without being 
Chinese? Did not Abbot Samson, in 11 59, 
Scotti habitum induens (which must have shown 
his massive calves to great advantage), probably 
see much the same popular characteristics that 
Hawthorne saw seven hundred years later? 
Shall a man try to be entertaining after Mon- 
taigne, aesthetic after Winckelmann, wise after 
Goethe, or trenchant after Forsyth ? Can he 
hope to bring back anything so useful as the 
fork, which honest Tom Coryate made prize of 
two centuries and a half ago, and put into the 
greasy fingers of Northern barbarians ? Is not 
the " Descrittione " of Leandro Alberti still a 



152 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

competent itinerary ? And can one hope to 
pick up a fresh Latin quotation, when Addison 
and Eustace have been before him with their 
scrap-baskets ? 

If there be anything which a person of even 
moderate accompHshments may be presumed 
to know, it is Italy. The only open question 
left seems to be whether Shakespeare were the 
only man that could write his name who had 
never been there. I have read my share of 
Italian travels, both in prose and verse, but, as 
the nicely discriminating Dutchman found that 
" too moch lager-beer was too moch, but too 
moch brahndee was jost bright," so I am in- 
clined to say that too much Italy is just what 
we want. After Des Brosses, we are ready for 
Henri Beyle, and Ampere, and Hillard, and 
About, and Gallenga, and Julia Kavanagh ; 
" Corinne " only makes us hungry for George 
Sand. That no one can tell us anything new is 
as undeniable as the compensating fact that no 
one can tell us anything too old. 

There are two kinds of travellers, — those 
who tell us what they went to see, and those 
who tell us what they saw. The latter class are 
the only ones whose journals are worth the sift- 
ing ; and the value of their eyes depends on 
the amount of individual character they took 
with them, and of the previous culture that had 
sharpened and tutored the faculty of observa- 



ITALY 153 

tion. In our conscious age the frankness and 
naivete of the elder voyagers is impossible, and 
we are weary of those humorous confidences 
on the subject of fleas with which we are favored 
by some modern travellers, whose motto should 
be (slightly altered) from Horace, — Flea-bit^ 
et toto cantabitur urbe. A naturalist self-sacrific- 
ing enough may have this experience nearer 
home. 

The impulse which sent the Edelmann Storg 
and me to Subiaco was given something like 
two thousand years ago. Had we not seen the 
Ponte Sant' Antonio, we should not have gone 
to Subiaco at this particular time ; and had the 
Romans been worse masons, or more ignorant 
of hydrodynamics than they were, we should 
never have seen the Ponte Sant' Antonio. But 
first we went to TivoH, — two carriage-loads of 
us, a very agreeable mixture of English, Scots, 
and Yankees, — on Tuesday, the !20th April. 
I shall not say anything about Tivoli. A water- 
fall in type is likely to be a trifle stiffish. Old 
association and modern beauty ; nature and ar- 
tifice ; worship that has passed away and the 
religion that abides forever ; the green gush of 
the deeper torrent and the white evanescence 
of innumerable cascades, delicately palpitant as 
a fall of northern lights ; the descendants of 
Sabine pigeons flashing up to immemorial dove- 



154 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

cots, for centuries inaccessible to man, trooping 
with noisy rooks and daws ; the fitful roar and 
the silently hovering iris, which, borne by the 
wind across the face of the cliff, transmutes the 
travertine to momentary opal, and whose dim- 
mer ghost haunts the moonlight, — as well at- 
tempt to describe to a Papuan savage that won- 
drous ode of Wordsworth which rouses and stirs 
in the soul all its dormant instincts of resur- 
rection as with a sound of the last trumpet. 
No, it is impossible. Even Byron's pump sucks 
sometimes, and gives an unpleasant dry wheeze, 
especially, it seems to me, at Terni. It is guide- 
book poetry, enthusiasm manufactured by the 
yard, which the hurried traveller (John and 
Jonathan are always in a hurry when they turn 
peripatetics) puts on when he has not a rag of 
private imagination to cover his nakedness 
withal. It must be a queer kind of love that 
could " watch madness with unalterable mien," 
when the patient, whom any competent physi- 
cian would have ordered into a strait-waistcoat 
long ago, has shivered himself to powder down 
a precipice. But there is no madness in the 
matter. Velino goes over in his full senses, and 
knows perfectly well that he shall not be hurt, 
that his broken fragments will reunite more 
glibly than the head and neck of Orrilo. He 
leaps exultant, as to his proper doom and ful- 
filment, and out of the mere waste and spray 



ITALY 155 

of his glory the god of sunshine and song builds 
over the crowning moment of his destiny a tri- 
umphal arch beyond the reach of time and of 
decay. 

The first day we made the Giro^ coming back 
to a merry dinner at the Sibilla in the evening. 
Then we had some special tea, — for the Ital- 
ians think tea-drinking the chief religious ob- 
servance of the Inglesi, — and then we had fif- 
teen pauls' worth of illumination, which wrought 
a sudden change in the scenery, like those that 
seem so matter-of-course in dreams, turning 
the Claude we had seen in the morning into a 
kind of Piranesi-Rembrandt. The illumination, 
by the way, which had been prefigured to us by 
the enthusiastic Italian who conducted it as 
something second only to the Girandola^ turned 
out to be one blue-light and two armfuls of 
straw. 

The Edelmann Storg is not fond of pedes- 
trian locomotion, — nay, I have even sometimes 
thought that he looked upon the invention of 
legs as a private and personal wrong done to 
himself. I am quite sure that he inwardly be- 
lieves them to have been a consequence of the 
Fall, and that the happier Pre-Adamites were 
monopodes, and incapable of any but a ve- 
hicular progression. A carriage, with horses and 
driver complete, he takes to be as simple a pro- 
duction of nature as a potato. But he is fond of 



156 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

sketching, and after breakfast, on the beautiful 
morning of Wednesday, the 21st, I persuaded 
him to walk out a mile or two and see a frag- 
ment of aqueduct ruin. It is a single glorious 
arch, buttressing the mountain-side upon the 
edge of a sharp descent to the valley of the Anio. 
The old road to Subiaco passes under it, and 
it is crowned by a crumbling tower built in the 
Middle Ages (whenever that was) against the 
Gaetani. While Storg sketched, I clambered. 
Below you, where the valley widens greenly to- 
wards other mountains, which the ripe Italian 
air distances with a bloom like that on un- 
plucked grapes, are more arches, ossified arte- 
ries of what was once the heart of the world. 
Storg's sketch was highly approved of by Leo- 
poldo, our guide, and by three or four peasants, 
who, being on their way to their morning's 
work in the fields, had, of course, nothing in 
particular to do, and stopped to see us see the 
ruin. Any one who has remarked how grandly 
the Romans do nothing will be slow to believe 
them an effete race. Their style is as the co- 
lossal to all other, and the name of Eternal City 
fits Rome also, because time is of no account in 
it. The Roman always waits as if he could 
afford it amply, and the slow centuries move 
quite fast enough for him. Time is to other 
races the field of a taskmaster, which they must 
painfully till ; but to the Roman it is an en- 



ITALY 157 

tailed estate, which he enjoys and will transmit. 
The Neapolitan's laziness is that of a loafer ; 
the Roman's is that of a noble. The poor 
Anglo-Saxon must count his hours, and look 
twice at his small change of quarters and min- 
utes ; but the Roman spends from a purse of 
Fortunatus. His piccolo quarto d'ora is like his 
grossOy a huge piece of copper, big enough for 
a shield, which stands only for a half dime 
of our money. We poor fools of time always 
hurry as if we were the last type of man, the 
full stop with which Fate was closing the colo- 
phon of her volume, as if we had just read in 
our newspaper, as we do of the banks on holi- 
days, H^^^ The world will close to-day at 
twelve o'clock, an hour earlier than usual. But 
the Roman is still an Ancient, with a vast future 
before him to tame and occupy. He and his ox 
and his plough are just as they were in Virgil's 
time or Ennius's. We beat him in many 
things ; but in the impregnable fastness of his 
great rich nature he defies us. 

We got back to Tivoli, — Storg affirming 
that he had walked fifteen miles. We saw the 
Temple of Cough, which is not the Temple of 
Cough, though it might have been a votive 
structure put up by some Tiburtine Dr. Wistar. 
We saw the villa of Maecenas, which is not the 
villa of Maecenas, and other equally satisfactory 
antiquities. All our English friends sketched 



158 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

the Citadel, of course, and one enthusiast at- 
tempted a hkeness of the fall, which I unhap- 
pily mistook afterward for a semblance of the 
tail of one of the horses on the Monte Cavallo. 
Then we went to the Villa d' Este, famous on 
Ariosto's account, — and which Ariosto never 
saw. But the laurels were worthy to have made 
a chaplet for him, and the cypresses and the 
views were as fine as if he had seen them every 
day of his life. 

Perhaps something I learned in going to 
see one of the gates of the town is more to the 
purpose, and may assist one in erecting the 
horoscope of Italia Unita. When Leopoldo 
first proposed to drag me through the mud to 
view this interesting piece of architecture, I de- 
murred. But as he was very earnest about it, 
and as one seldom fails getting at a bit of char- 
acter by submitting to one's guide, I yielded. 
Arrived at the spot, he put me at the best point 
of view, and said, — 

" Behold, Lordship ! " 

" I see nothing out of the common," said L 

" Lordship is kind enough here to look at a 
gate, the like of which exists not in all Italy, 
nay, in the whole world, — I speak not of Eng- 
land," for he thought me an Inglese. 

" I am not blind, Leopoldo ; where is the 
miracle ? " 

" Here we dammed up the waters of the 



ITALY 159 

Anio, first by artifice conducted to this spot, 
and letting them out upon the Romans, who 
stood besieging the town, drowned almost a 
whole army of them. (Lordship conceives ?) 
They suspected nothing till they found them- 
selves all torn to pieces at the foot of the hill 
yonder. (Lordship conceives ?) Eh ! per Bacco I 
we watered their porridge for them." 

Leopoldo used we as Lord Buchan did /, 
meaning any of his ancestors. 

" But tell me a little, Leopoldo, how many 
years is it since this happened? " 

" Non saprei^ signoria ; it was in the antiquest 
times, certainly ; but the Romans never come 
to our Fair, that we don't have blows about it, 
and perhaps a stab or two. Lordship under- 
stands ? " 

I was quite repaid for my pilgrimage. I think 
I understand Italian politics better for hearing 
Leopoldo speak of the Romans, whose great 
dome is in full sight of Tivoli, as a foreign na- 
tion. But what perennial boyhood the whole 
story indicates ! 

Storg's sketch of the morning's ruin was so 
successful that I seduced him into a new expe- 
dition to the Ponte Sant' Antonio, another aque- 
duct arch about eight miles off. This was for 
the afternoon, and I succeeded the more easily, 
as we were to go on horseback. So I told Leo- 
poldo to be at the gate of the Villa of Hadrian, 



i6o LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

at three o'clock, with three horses. Leopoldo's 
face, when I said three, was worth seeing ; for 
the poor fellow had counted on nothing more 
than trotting beside our horses for sixteen miles, 
and getting half a dollar in the evening. Be- 
tween doubt and hope, his face seemed to exude 
a kind of oil, which made it shine externally, 
after having first lubricated all the muscles in- 
wardly. 

" With three horses. Lordship ? " 

" Yes, three.'' 

" Lordship is very sagacious. With three 
horses they go much quicker. It is finished, 
then, and they will have the kindness to find 
me at the gate with the beasts, at three o'clock 
precisely." 

Leopoldo and I had compromised upon the 
term " Lordship." He had found me in the 
morning celebrating due rites before the Sibyl's 
Temple with strange incense of the nicotian 
herb, and had marked me for his prey. At the 
very high tide of sentiment, when the traveller 
lies with oyster-like openness in the soft ooze 
of reverie, do these parasitic crabs, the ciceroni^ 
insert themselves as his inseparable bosom com- 
panions. Unhappy bivalve, lying so softly 
between thy two shells, of the actual and the 
possible, the one sustaining, the other widening 
above thee, till, oblivious of native mud, thou 
fanciest thyself a proper citizen only of the 



ITALY i6i 

illimitable ocean which floods thee, — there is 
no escape ! Vain are thy poor crustaceous efforts 
at self-isolation. The foe henceforth is a part 
of thy consciousness, thy landscape, and thy- 
self, happy only if that irritation breed in thee 
the pearl of patience and of voluntary abstrac- 
tion. 

" Excellency wants a guide, very experienced, 
who has conducted with great mutual satisfac- 
tion many of his noble compatriots." 

Puff, puff, and an attempt at looking as if I 
did not see him. 

" Excellency will deign to look at my book 
of testimonials. When we return. Excellency 
will add his own." 

Puff, puff. 

" Excellency regards the cascade, praeceps 
Anio, as the good Horatius called it." 

I thought of the dissolve frigus of the land- 
lord in Roderick Random, and could not help 
smiling. Leopoldo saw his advantage. 

" Excellency will find Leopoldo, when he 
shall choose to be ready." 

" But I will positively not be called Excellency, 
I am not an ambassador, nor a very eminent 
Christian, and the phrase annoys me." 

" To be sure, Excell — Lordship." 

" I am an American." 

" Certainly, an American, Lordship," — as if 
that settled the matter entirely. If I had told 



1 62 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

him I was a Caffre, it would have been just as 
clear to him. He surrendered the " Excel- 
lency," but on general principles of human 
nature, I suppose, would not come a step lower 
than " Lordship." So we compromised on that. 
— P. S. It is wonderful how soon a republican 
ear reconciles itself with syllables of this descrip- 
tion. I think citizen would find greater diffi- 
culties in the way of its naturalization, and as 
for brother — ah ! well, in a Christian sense, 
certainly. 

Three o'clock found us at the Villa of Ha- 
drian. We had explored that incomparable ruin, 
and consecrated it, in the Homeric and Anglo- 
Saxon manner, by eating and drinking. Some 
of us sat in the shadow of one of the great walls, 
fitter for a city than a palace, over which a Nile 
of ivy, gushing from one narrow source, spread 
itself in widening inundations. A happy few 
listened to stories of Bagdad from Mrs. Rich, 
whose silver hair gleamed, a palpable anachron- 
ism, like a snow-fall in May, over that ever- 
youthful face, where the few sadder lines seemed 
but the signature of Age to a deed of quitclaim 
and release. Dear Tito, that exemplary traveller 
who never lost a day, had come back from re- 
newed explorations, convinced by the eloquent 
custode that Serapeion was the name of an officer 
in the Praetorian Guard. I was explaining, in 
addition, that Naumachia^ in the Greek tongue, 



ITALY 163 

signified a place artificially drained, when the 
horses were announced. 

This put me to reflection. I felt, perhaps, a 
little as Mazeppa must, when told that his steed 
was at the door. For several years I had not 
been on the back of a horse, and was it not 
more than likely that these mountains might 
produce a yet more refractory breed of these 
ferocious animals than common ? Who could 
tell the effect of grazing on a volcanic soil like 
that hereabout ? I had vague recollections that 
the saddle nullified the laws governing the 
impulsion of inert bodies, exacerbating the cen- 
trifugal forces into a virulent activity, and pro- 
portionably narcotizing the centripetal. The 
phrase ratio proportioned to the squares of the 
distances impressed me with an awe which ex- 
plained to me how the laws of nature had been 
of old personified and worshipped. Meditating 
these things, I walked with a cheerful aspect to 
the gate, where my saddled and bridled martyr- 
dom awaited me. 

" Eccomi qua 1 " said Leopoldo hilariously. 
" Gentlemen will be good enough to select 
from the three best beasts in Tivoli." 

" Oh, this one will serve me as well as any," 
said I, with an air of indifference, much as I 
have seen a gentleman help himself inadvert- 
ently to the best peach in the dish. I am not 
more selfish than becomes a Christian of the 



1 64 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

nineteenth century, but I looked on this as a 
clear case of tabula in naufragioy and had noticed 
that the animal in question had that tremulous 
droop of the lower lip which indicates senility, 
and the abdication of the wilder propensities. 
Moreover, he was the only one provided with 
a curb bit, or rather with two huge iron levers 
which might almost have served Archimedes 
for his problem. Our saddles were flat cushions 
covered with leather, brought by years of fric- 
tion to the highest state of polish. Instead of a 
pommel, a perpendicular stake, about ten inches 
high, rose in front, which, in case of a stum- 
ble, would save one's brains, at the risk of cer- 
tain evisceration. Behind, a glary slope invited 
me constantly to slide over the horse's tail. The 
selfish prudence of my choice had well-nigh 
proved the death of me, for this poor old brute, 
with that anxiety to oblige a forestiero which 
characterizes everybody here, could never make 
up his mind which of his four paces (and he had 
the rudiments of four — walk, trot, rack, and 
gallop) would be most agreeable to me. The 
period of transition is always unpleasant, and it 
was all transition. He treated me to a hodge- 
podge of all his several gaits at once. Saint 
Vitus was the only patron saint I could think 
of. My head jerked one way, my body an- 
other, while each of my legs became a pen- 
dulum vibrating furiously, one always forward 



ITALY 165 

while the other was back, so that I had all the 
appearance and all the labor of going afoot, and 
at the same time was bumped within an inch of 
my life. Waterton's alligator was nothing to it ; 
it was like riding a hard-trotting armadillo bare- 
backed. There is a species of equitation pecul- 
iar to our native land, in which a rail from the 
nearest fence, with no preliminary incantation 
of Horse and hattock ! is converted into a steed, 
and this alone may stand the comparison. Storg 
in the mean while was triumphantly taking the 
lead, his trousers working up very pleasantly 
above his knees, an insurrectionary movement 
which I also was unable to suppress in my own. 
I could bear it no longer. 

" Le-e-o-o-p-o-o-o-l-l-l-d-d-0-0-0! "jolted I. 

" Command, Lordship ! " and we both came 
to a stop. 

" It is necessary that we change horses im- 
mediately, or I shall be jelly." 

" Certainly, Lordship ; " and I soon had the 
pathetic satisfaction of seeing him subjected to 
all the excruciating experiments that had been 
tried upon myself. Fiat experimentum in cor- 
pore vili, thought his extempore lordship, Chris- 
topher Sly, to himself. 

Meanwhile all the other accessories of our 
ride were delicious. It was a clear, cool day, 
and we soon left the high-road for a bridle-path 
along the side of the mountain, among gigantic 



i66 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

olive-trees, said to be five hundred years old, 
and which had certainly employed all their time 
in getting into the weirdest and wonderfullest 
shapes. Clearly in this green commonwealth 
there was no heavy roller of public opinion to 
flatten all character to a lawn-like uniformity. 
Everything was individual and eccentric. And 
there was something fearfully human, too, in 
the wildest contortions. It was some such wood 
that gave Dante the hint of his human forest in 
the seventh circle, and I should have dreaded to 
break a twig, lest I should hear that voice com- 
plaining, — 

" Perch e mi scerpi ? 
Non hai tu spirto di pietate alcuno ? " 

Our path lay along a kind of terrace, and at 
every opening we had glimpses of the billowy 
Campagna, with the great dome bulging from 
its rim, while on our right, changing ever as we 
rode, the Alban Mountain showed us some new 
grace of that sweeping outline peculiar to volca- 
noes. At intervals the substructions of Roman 
villas would crop out from the soil like masses 
of rock, and deserving to ^ rank as a geological 
formation by themselves. Indeed, in gazing 
into these dark caverns, one does not think of 
man more than at Staffa. Nature has adopted 
these fragments of a race who were dear to her. 
She has not suffered these bones of the great 
Queen to lack due sepulchral rites, but has flung 



ITALY 167 

over them the ceremonial handfuls of earth, and 
every year carefully renews the garlands of 
memorial flowers. Nay, if what they say in 
Rome be true, she has even made a new conti- 
nent of the Colosseum, and given it 2. flora of 
its own. 

At length, descending a little, we passed 
through farm-yards and cultivated fields, where, 
from Leopoldo's conversations with the labor- 
ers, we discovered that he himself did not know 
the way for which he had undertaken to be 
guide. However, we presently came to our 
ruin, and very noble it was. The aqueduct had 
here been carried across a deep gorge, and over 
the little brook which wimpled along below 
towered an arch, as a bit of Shakespeare bestrides 
the exiguous rill of a discourse which it was 
intended to ornament. The only human habita- 
tion in sight was a little casetta on the top of 
a neighboring hill. What else of man's work 
could be seen was a ruined castle of the Middle 
Ages, and, far away upon the horizon, the eter- 
nal dome. A valley in the moon could scarce 
have been lonelier, could scarce have suggested 
more strongly the feeling of preteriteness and 
extinction. The stream below did not seem so 
much to sing as to murmur sadly, Conclusum 
est ; perils ti ! and the wind, sighing through the 
arch, answered, Periisti ! Nor was the silence of 
Monte Cavi without meaning. That cup, once 



i68 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

full of fiery wine, in which it pledged Vesuvius 
and ^tna later born, was brimmed with inno- 
cent water now. Adam came upon the earth too 
late to see the glare of its last orgy, lighting the 
eyes of saurians in the reedy Campagna below. 
I almost fancied I could hear a voice like that 
which cried to the Egyptian pilot. Great Pan is 
dead! I was looking into the dreary socket 
where once glowed the eye that saw the whole 
earth vassal. Surely, this was the world's au- 
tumn, and I could hear the feet of Time rus- 
tling through the wreck of races and dynasties, 
cheap and inconsiderable as fallen leaves. 

But a guide is not engaged to lead one into 
the world of imagination. He is as deadly to 
sentiment as a sniff of hartshorn. His position 
is a false one, like that of the critic, who is sup- 
posed to know everything, and expends him- 
self in showing that he does not. If you should 
ever have the luck to attend a concert of the 
spheres, under the protection of an Italian cke- 
rone, he will expect you to listen to him rather 
than to it. He will say : " £<r<:o, Signoria, that 
one in the red mantle is Signor Mars, eh ! 
what a noblest l^asso is Signor Mars! but no- 
thing (Lordship understands ?) to what Signor 
Saturn used to be (he with the golden belt, 
Signoria), only his voice is in ruins now, — 
scarce one note left upon another; but Lord- 
ship can see what it was by the remains, Ro- 



ITALY 169 

man remains, Signoria^ Roman remains, the 
work of giants. (Lordship understands ?) They 
make no such voices now. Certainly, Signor 
Jupiter (with the yellow tunic, there) is a brave 
artist and a most sincere tenor ; but since the 
time of the Republic " (if he think you an os- 
curante, or since the French, if he suspect you 
of being the least red) " we have no more good 
singing." And so on. 

It is a well-known fact to all persons who 
are in the habit of climbing Jacob's-ladders, 
that, if any one speak to you during the opera- 
tion, the fabric collapses, and you come some- 
what uncomfortably to the ground. One can 
be hit with a remark, when he is beyond the 
reach of more material missiles. Leopoldo saw 
by my abstracted manner that I was getting 
away from him, and 1 was the only victim he 
had left, for Storg was making a sketch below. 
So he hastened to fetch me down again. 

" Nero built this arch. Lordship." (He 
did n't, but Nero was Leopoldo's historical 
scapegoat.) " Lordship sees the dome ? he will 
deign to look the least little to the left hand. 
Lordship has much intelligence. Well, Nero 
always did thus. His works always, always, 
had Rome in view." 

He had already shown me two ruins, which 
he ascribed equally to Nero, and which could 
only have seen Rome by looking through a 



170 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

mountain. However, such trifles are nothing to 
an accomplished guide. 

I remembered his quoting Horace in the 
morning. 

" Do you understand Latin, Leopoldo ? " 

" I did a little once, Lordship. I went to 
the Jesuits' school at Tivoli. But what use of 
Latin to a poverino like me ? " 

" Were you intended for the Church ? Why 
did you leave the school ? " 

" Eh, Lordship ! " and one of those shrugs 
which might mean that he left it of his own 
free will, or that he was expelled at point of 
toe. He added some contemptuous phrase 
about the priests. 

" But, Leopoldo, you are a good Catho- 
lic?" 

" Eh, Lordship, who knows ? A man is no 
bhnder for being poor, — nay, hunger sharpens 
the eyesight sometimes. The cardinals (their 
Eminences ! ) tell us that it is good to be poor, 
and that, in proportion as we lack on earth, it 
shall be made up to us in Paradise. Now, if 
the cardinals (their Eminences !) believe what 
they preach, why do they want to ride in such 
handsome carriages ? " 

" But are there many who think as you 
do?" 

" Everybody, Lordship, but a few women and 
fools. What imports it what the fools think?" 



ITALY 171 

An immense deal, I thought, an immense 
deal ; for of what material is public opinion 
manufactured ? 

" Do you ever go to church ? " 

" Once a year. Lordship, at Easter, to mass 
and confession." 

" Why once a year ? " 

" Because, Lordship, one must have a cer- 
tificate from the priest. One might be sent to 
prison else, and one had rather go to confes- 
sion than to jail. Eh, Lordship, it is a por- 
cheria.'' 

It is proper to add that in what Leopoldo 
said of the priests he was not speaking of his 
old masters, the Jesuits. One never hears any- 
thing in Italy against the purity of their lives, or 
their learning and ability, though much against 
their unscrupulousness. Nor will any one who 
has ever enjoyed the gentle and dignified hos- 
pitality of the Benedictines be ready to beheve 
any evil report of them. 

By this time Storg had finished his sketch, 
and we remounted our grazing steeds. They 
were brisker as soon as their noses were turned 
homeward, and we did the eight miles back in 
an hour. The setting sun streamed through 
and among the Michael Angelesque olive* 
trunks, and, through the long colonnade of the 
bridle-path, fired the scarlet waistcoats and 
bodices of homeward villagers, or was sullenly 



172 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

absorbed in the long black cassock and flapped 
hat of a priest, who courteously saluted the 
strangers. Sometimes a mingled flock of sheep 
and goats (as if they had walked out of one of 
Claude's pictures) followed the shepherd, who, 
satyr-like, in goat-skin breeches, sang such 
songs as were acceptable before Tubal Cain 
struck out the laws of musical time from his 
anvil. The peasant, in his ragged brown cloak, 
or with blue jacket hanging from the left 
shoulder, still strides Romanly, — incedit reXy — 
and his eyes have a placid grandeur, inherited 
from those which watched the glittering snake 
of the Triumph, as it undulated along the Via 
Sacra. By his side moves with equal pace his 
woman porter, the caryatid of a vast entabla- 
ture of household stuff*, and learning in that 
harsh school a sinuous poise of body and a 
security of step beyond the highest snatch of 
the posture-master. 

As we drew near Tivoli the earth was fast 
swinging into shadow. The darkening Cam- 
pagna, climbing the sides of the nearer Monti- 
celli in a gray belt of olive-spray, rolled on 
towards the blue island of Soracte, behind 
which we lost the sun. Yes, we had lost the 
sun ; but in the wide chimney of the largest 
room at the Sibilla there danced madly, crack- 
ling with ilex and laurel, a bright ambassador 
from Sunland, Monsieur Le Feu, no pinch- 



ITALY 173 

beck substitute for his royal master. As we 
drew our chairs up, after the dinner due to 
Leopoldo's forethought, " Behold," said I, 
" the Resident of the great king near the 
court of our (this-day-created) Hogan Mogan- 
ships." 

We sat looking into the fire, as it wavered 
from shining shape to shape of unearthliest 
fantasy, and both of us, no doubt, making out 
old faces among the embers, for we both said 
together, " Let us talk of old times." 

" To the small hours," said the Edelmann ; 
"and instead of blundering off to Torneo to 
intrude chatteringly upon the midnight privacy 
of Apollo, let us promote the fire, there, to 
the rank of sun by brevet and have a kind of 
undress rehearsal of those night wanderings of 
his here upon the ample stage of the hearth." 

So we went through the whole catalogue of 
Do you remembers ? and laughed at all the old 
stories, so dreary to an outsider. Then we grew 
pensive, and talked of the empty sockets in that 
golden band of our young friendship, — of S., 
with Grecian front, but unsevere, and Saxon 
M., to whom laughter was as natural as for a 
brook to ripple. 

But Leopoldo had not done with us. We 
were to get back to Rome in the morning, and 
to that end must make a treaty with the com- 
pany which ran the Tivoli diligence, the next 



174 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

day not being the regular period of departure 
for that prodigious structure. We had given 
Leopoldo twice his fee, and, setting a mean 
value upon our capacities in proportion, he ex- 
pected to bag a neat percentage on our bargain. 
Alas ! he had made a false estimate of the An- 
glo-Norman mind, which, capable of generosity 
as a compliment to itself, will stickle for the 
dust in the balance in a matter of business, and 
would blush at being done by Mercury him- 
self. 

Accordingly, at about nine o'clock there 
came a knock at the door, and, answering our 
Favorisca ! in stalked Leopoldo, gravely fol- 
lowed by the two commissioners of the com- 
pany. 

" Behold me returned. Lordship, and these 
men. are the Vetturini,'' 

Why is it that men who have to do with 
horses are the same all over Christendom ? Is 
it that they acquire equine characteristics, or 
that this particular mystery is magnetic to cer- 
tain sorts of men ? Certainly they are marked 
unmistakably, and these two worthies would 
have looked perfectly natural in Yorkshire or 
Vermont. They were just alike, — fortemque 
Gyan^fortemque Cloanthum^ — and you could not 
split an epithet between them. Simultaneously 
they threw back their large overcoats, and dis- 
played spheroidal figures, over which the strongly 



ITALY 175 

pronounced stripes of their plaided waistcoats 
ran like parallels of latitude and longitude over 
a globe. Simultaneously they took off their hats 
and said, "Your servant, gentlemen." In Italy 
it is always necessary to make a combinazione 
beforehand about even the most customary 
matters, for there is no fixed highest price for 
anything. For a minute or two we stood reck- 
oning each other's forces. Then I opened the 
first trench with the usual, " How much do you 
wish for carrying us to Rome at half past seven 
to-morrow morning ? " 

The enemy glanced one at the other, and the 
result of this ocular witenagemot was that one 
said, " Four scudi, gentlemen." 

The Edelmann Storg took his cigar from his 
mouth in order to whistle, and made a rather 
indecorous allusion to four gentlemen in the 
diplomatic service of his Majesty, the Prince of 
the Powers of the Air. 

" Whe-ew ! quattro diavoli ! " said he. 

" Macche ! " exclaimed I, attempting a flank 
movement, "I had rather go on foot!" and 
threw as much horror into my face as if a propo- 
sition had been made to me to commit robbery, 
murder, and arson all together. 

" For less than three scudi and a half the 
diligence parts not from Tivoli at an extraordi- 
nary hour," said the stout man, with an imper- 
turbable gravity, intended to mask his retreat. 



176 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

and to make it seem that he was making the 
same proposal as at first. 

Storg saw that they wavered,and opened upon 
them with his flying artillery of sarcasm. 

" Do you take us for Inglesi ? We are very 
well here, and will stay at the Sibilla," he sniffed 
scornfully. 

" How much will Lordship give ? " (This 
was showing the white feather.) 

" Fifteen pauls " (a scudo and a half), " buo- 
namano included." 

" It is impossible, gentlemen ; for less than 
two scudi and a half the diligence parts not from 
Tivoli at an extraordinary hour." 

" Fifteen pauls." 

" Will Lordship give two scudi ? " (with a 
slight flavor of mendicancy). 

" Fifteen pauls " (growing firm as we saw 
them waver). 

" Then, gentlemen, it is all over ; it is im- 
possible, gentlemen." 

" Very good ; a pleasant evening to you ! " 
and they bowed themselves out. 

As soon as the door closed behind them, 
Leopoldo, who had looked on in more and 
more anxious silence as the chance of plunder 
was whittled slimmer and slimmer by the sharp 
edges of the parley, saw instantly that it was for 
his interest to turn state's evidence against his 
accomplices. 



ITALY 177 

** They will be back in a moment," he said 
knowingly, as if he had been of our side all 
alonor. 

" Of course ; we are aware of that." — It is 
always prudent to be aware of everything in 
travelling. 

And, sure enough, in five minutes reenter the 
stout men, as gravely as if everything had been 
thoroughly settled, and ask respectfully at what 
hour we would have the diligence. 

This will serve as a specimen of Italian bar- 
gain-making. They do not feel happy if they 
get their first price. So easy a victory makes 
them sorry they had not asked twice as much, 
and, besides, they love the excitement of the 
contest. I have seen as much debate over a 
little earthen pot (value two cents) on the 
Ponte Vecchio, in Florence, as would have 
served for an operation of millions in the funds, 
the demand and the oifer alternating so rapidly 
that the litigants might be supposed to be play- 
ing the ancient game of morra. It is a part of 
the universal fondness for gaming, and lotteries. 
An English gentleman once asked his Italian 
courier how large a percentage he made on all 
of his employer's money which passed through 
his hands. " About five per cent. ; sometimes 
more, sometimes less," was the answer. " Well, 
I will add that to your salary, in order that I 
may be rid of this uncomfortable feeling of 



178 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

being cheated." The courier mused a moment, 
and said, " But no, sir, I should not be happy ; 
then it would not be sometimes more, some- 
times less, and I should miss the excitement of 
the game." 

22d. — This morning the diligence was at 
the door punctually, and, taking our seats in 
the coupe^ we bade farewell to La Sibilla. But 
first we ran back for a parting glimpse at the 
waterfall. These last looks, Hke lovers' last 
kisses, are nouns of multitude, and presently 
the povero stalliere^ signori^ waited upon us, 
cap in hand, telling us that the vetturino was 
impatient, and begging for drink-money in the 
same breath. Leopoldo hovered longingly afar, 
for these vultures respect times and seasons, 
and while one is fleshing his beak upon the 
foreign prey, the others forbear. The passengers 
in the diligence were not very lively. The 
Romans are a grave people, and more so than 
ever since '49. Of course, there was one priest 
among them. There always is ; for the mantis 
religiosa is as inevitable to these public convey- 
ances as the curculio is to the plum, and one 
could almost fancy that they were bred in the 
same way, — that the egg was inserted when 
the vehicle was green, became developed as it 
ripened, and never left it till it dropped withered 
from the pole. There was nothing noticeable 
on the road to Rome, except the strings of 



ITALY 179 

pack-horses and mules which we met returning 
with empty lime-sacks to Tivoli, whence comes 
the supply of Rome. A railroad was proposed, 
but the government would not allow it, because 
it would interfere with this carrying-trade, and 
wisely granted instead a charter for a road to 
Frascati, where there was no business whatever 
to be interfered with. About a mile of this is 
built in a style worthy of ancient Rome; and it is 
possible that eventually another mile may be ac- 
complished, for some half dozen laborers are at 
work upon it with wheelbarrows, in the leisurely 
Roman fashion. If it be ever finished, it will 
have nothing to carry but the conviction of its 
own uselessness. A railroad has been proposed 
to Civita Vecchia ; but that is out of the ques- 
tion, because it would be profitable. On the 
whole, one does not regret the failure of these 
schemes. One would not approach the solitary 
emotion of a lifetime, such as is the first sight 
of Rome, at the rate of forty miles an hour. 
It is better, after painfully crawling up one of 
those long paved hills, to have the postilion 
turn in his saddle, and, pointing with his whip 
(without looking, for he knows instinctively 
where it is), say, Ecco San Pietro ! Then you 
look tremblingly, and see it hovering visionary 
on the horizon's verge, and in a moment you 
are rattling and rumbling and wallowing down 
into the valley, and it is gone. So you play 



i8o LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

hide-and-seek with it all the rest of the way, 
and have time to converse with your sensations. 
You fancy you have got used to it at last ; but 
from the next hill-top, lo, there it looms again, 
a new wonder, and you do not feel sure that it 
will keep its tryst till you find yourself under 
its shadow. The Dome is to the Eternal City 
what Vesuvius is to Naples ; only a greater 
wonder, for Michael Angelo hung it there. 
The traveller climbs it as he would a mountain, 
and finds the dwellings of men high up on its 
sacred cliffs. It has its annual eruption, too,' at 
Easter, when the fire trickles and palpitates 
down its mighty shoulders, seen from far-off 
Tivoli. — No, the locomotive is less impertinent 
at Portici, hailing the imprisoned Titan there 
with a kindred shriek. Let it not vex the solemn 
Roman ghosts, or the nobly desolate Campagna, 
with whose solitudes the shattered vertebrae of 
the aqueducts are in truer sympathy. 

2^th. — To-day our journey to Subiaco pro- 
perly begins. The jocund morning had called 
the beggars to their street-corners, and the 
women to the windows; the players of morra 
(a game probably as old as the invention of 
fingers), of chuck-farthing, and of bowls, had 
cheerfully begun the labors of the day ; the 
plaintive cries of the chair-seaters, frog-venders, 
and certain other peripatetic merchants, the 
meaning of whose vocal advertisements I could 



ITALY i8i 

never penetrate, quaver at regular intervals, 
now near and now far away ; a solitary Jew with 
a sack over his shoulder, and who never is seen 
to stop, slouches along, every now and then 
croaking a penitential Cenci ! as if he were 
somehow the embodied expiation (by some 
post-Ovidian metamorphosis) of that darkest 
Roman tragedy ; women are bargaining for 
lettuce and endive ; the slimy Triton in the 
Piazza Barberina spatters himself with vanishing 
diamonds ; a peasant leads an ass on which sits 
the mother with the babe in her arms, — a liv- 
ing flight into Egypt ; in short, the beautiful 
spring day had awakened all of Rome that can 
awaken yet (for the ideal Rome waits for an- 
other morning), when we rattled along in our 
carrettella on the way to Palestrina. A carret- 
tella is to the perfected vehicle as the coracle 
to the steamship ; it is the first crude conception 
of a wheeled carriage. Doubtless the inventor 
of it was a prodigious genius in his day, and 
rode proudly in it, envied by the more fortunate 
pedestrian, and cushioned by his own inflated 
imagination. If the chariot of Achilles were 
like it, then was Hector happier at the tail 
than the son of Thetis on the box. It is an 
oblong basket upon two wheels, with a single 
seat rising in the middle. We had not jarred 
over a hundred yards of the Quattro Fontane, 
before we discovered that no elastic propug- 



1 82 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

naculum had been interposed between the body 
and the axle, so that we sat, as it were, on pav- 
ing-stones, mitigated only by so much as well- 
seasoned ilex is less flinty-hearted than tufo or 
breccia. If there were any truth in the theory 
of developments, I am certain that we should 
have been furnished with a pair of rudimentary 
elliptical springs, at least, before half our day's 
journey was over. However, as one of those 
happy illustrations of ancient manners, which 
one meets with so often here, it was instructive ; 
for I now clearly understand that it was not 
merely by reason of pomp that Hadrian used 
to be three days in getting to his villa, only 
twelve miles off. In spite of the author of 
"Vestiges," Nature, driven to extremities, can 
develop no more easy cushion than a blister, 
and no doubt treated an ancient emperor and 
a modern republican with severe impartiality. 

It was difficult to talk without biting one's 
tongue ; but as soon as we had got fairly beyond 
the gate, and out of sight of the last red-legged 
French soldier, and tightly buttoned doganiere^ 
our driver became loquacious. 

" I am a good Catholic, — better than most," 
said he suddenly. 

" What do you mean by that ? " 

" Eh ! they say Saint Peter wrought miracles, 
and there are enough who don't believe it ; but 
/ do. There 's the Barberini Palace, — behold 



ITALY 183 

one miracle of Saint Peter ! There 's the Far- 
nese, — behold another ! There 's the Borghese, 
— behold a third ! But there 's no end of them. 
No saint, nor all the saints put together, ever 
worked so many wonders as he ; and then, per 
Bacco I he is the uncle of so many folks, — 
why, that 's a miracle in itself, and of the great- 
est ! " 

Presently he added : " Do you know how 
we shall treat the priests when we make our 
next revolution ? We shall treat them as they 
treat us, and that is after the fashion of the 
buffalo. For the buffalo is not content with get- 
ting a man down, but after that he gores him and 
thrusts him, always, always, as if he wished to 
cram him to the centre of the earth. Ah, if I 
were only keeper of hell-gate ! Not a rascal of 
them all should ever get out into purgatory 
while I stood at the door ! " 

We remonstrated a little, but it only exas- 
perated him the more. 

" Blood of Judas ! they will eat nothing else 
than gold, when a poor fellow's belly is as 
empty as San Lorenzo yonder. They '11 have 
enough of it one of these days — but melted ! 
How do you think they will like it for 
soup r 

Perhaps, if our vehicle had been blessed with 
springs, our vetturino would have been more 
placable. I confess a growing moroseness in 



1 84 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

myself, and a wandering speculation or two as 
to the possible fate of the builder of our chariot 
in the next world. But I am more and more 
persuaded every day that, as far as the popular 
mind is concerned, Romanism is a dead thing 
in Italy. It survives only because there is no- 
thing else to replace it with, for men must wear 
their old habits (however threadbare and out at 
elbows) till they get better. It is literally a su- 
perstition, — a something left to stand over till 
the great commercial spirit of the nineteenth 
century balances his accounts again, and then it 
will be banished to the limbo of profit and loss. 
The Papacy lies dead in the Vatican, but the 
secret is kept for the present, and government 
is carried on in its name. After the fact gets 
abroad, perhaps its ghost will terrify men a little 
while longer, but only while they are in the 
dark, though the ghost of a creed is a hard thing 
to give a mortal wound to, and may be laid, 
after all, only in a Red Sea of blood. 

So we rattled along till we came to a large 
albergo just below the village of Colonna. 
While our horse was taking his rinfresco, we 
climbed up to it, and found it desolate enough, 
— the houses never rebuilt since Consul Rienzi 
sacked it five hundred years ago. It was a kind 
of gray incrustation on the top of the hill, chiefly 
inhabited by pigs, chickens, and an old woman 
with a distaff, who looked as sacked and ruin- 



ITALY 185 

ous as everything around her. There she sat in 
the sun, a dreary, doting Clotho, who had out- 
lived her sisters, and span endless destinies 
which none was left to cut at the appointed 
time. Of course she paused from her work a 
moment, and held out a skinny hand, with the 
usual, " Noblest gentlemen, give me something 
for charity." We gave her enough to pay 
Charon's ferriage across to her sisters, and de- 
parted hastily, for there was something uncanny 
about the place. In this climate even the fin- 
ger-marks of Ruin herself are indelible, and 
the walls were still blackened with Rienzi's 
fires. 

As we waited for our carrettella, I saw four 
or five of the lowest-looking peasants come up 
and read the handbill of a tombola (a kind of 
lottery) which was stuck up beside the inn- 
door. One of them read it aloud for our bene- 
fit, and with remarkable propriety of accent and 
emphasiso This benefit of clergy, however, is of 
no great consequence where there is nothing to 
read. In Rome, this morning, the walls were 
spattered with placards condemning the works 
of George Sand, Eugene Sue, Gioberti, and 
others. But in Rome one may contrive to 
read any book he likes ; and I know Italians 
who are familiar with Swedenborg, and even 
Strauss. 

Our stay at the albergo was illustrated by one 



1 86 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

other event, — a nightingale singing in a full- 
blossomed elder-bush on the edge of a brook 
just across the road. So liquid were the notes, 
and so full of spring, that the twig he tilted on 
seemed a conductor through which the mingled 
magnetism of brook and blossom flowed into 
him and were precipitated in music. Nature 
understands thoroughly the value of contrasts, 
and accordingly a donkey from a shed hard-by, 
hitched and hesitated and agonized through his 
bray, so that we might be conscious at once of 
the positive and negative poles of song. It was 
pleasant to see with what undoubting enthusiasm 
he went through his solo, and vindicated Pro- 
vidence from the imputation of weakness in 
making such trifles as the nightingale yonder. 
" Give ear, O heaven and earth ! " he seemed 
to say, " nor dream that good, sound common- 
sense is extinct or out of fashion so long as / 
live." I suppose Nature made the donkey half 
abstractedly, while she was feeling her way up 
to her ideal in the horse, and that his bray is 
in like manner an experimental sketch for the 
neigh of her finished animal. 

We drove on to Palestrina, passing for some 
distance over an old Roman road, as carriage- 
able as when it was built. Palestrina occupies 
the place of the once famous Temple of Fortune, 
whose ruins are perhaps a fitter monument of 



ITALY 187 

the fickle goddess than ever the perfect fane 
was. 

Come hither, weary ghosts that wail 
O'er buried Nimroud' s carven walls. 

And ye whose nightly footsteps frail 

From the dread hush of Memphian halls 
Lead forth the whispering flinerals! 

Come hither, shade of ancient pain 
That, muffled sitting, hear'st the foam 

To death-deaf Carthage shout in vain. 
And thou that in the Sibyl's tome 
Tear-stain' st the never after Rome! 

Come, Marius, Wolsey, all ye great 

On whom proud Fortune stamped her heel. 

And see herself the sport of Fate, 

Herself discrowned and made to feel 
The treason of her slippery wheel! 

One climbs through a great part of the town 
by stone steps, passing fragments of Pelasgic 
wall (for history, like geology, may be studied 
here in successive rocky strata)^ and at length 
reaches the inn, called the CappellarOy the sign 
of which is a great tin cardinal's hat, swinging 
from a small building on the other side of the 
street, so that a better view of it may be had from 
the hostelry itself. The landlady, a stout woman 
of about sixty years, welcomed us heartily, and 
burst forth into an eloquent eulogy on some 
fresh sea-fish which she had just received from 



1 88 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

Rome. She promised everything for dinner, 
leaving us to choose ; but as a skilful juggler 
flitters the cards before you, and, while he seems 
to offer all, forces upon you the one he wishes, 
so we found that whenever we undertook to se- 
lect from her voluble bill of fare, we had in some 
unaccountable manner always ordered sea-fish. 
Therefore, after a few vain efforts, we contented 
ourselves, and, while our dinner was cooking, 
climbed up to the top of the town. Here stands 
the deserted Palazzo Barberini, in which is a 
fine Roman mosaic pavement. It was a dreary 
old place. On the ceilings of some of the apart- 
ments were fading out the sprawling apotheoses 
of heroes of the family (themselves long ago 
faded utterly), who probably went through a 
somewhat different ceremony after their deaths 
from that represented here. One of the rooms 
on the ground-floor was still occupied, and from 
its huge grated windows there swelled and sub- 
sided at intervals a confused turmoil of voices, 
some talking, some singing, some swearing, and 
some lamenting, as if a page of Dante's " In- 
ferno " had become suddenly alive under one's 
eye. This was the prison, and in front of each 
window a large stone block allowed tete-a-tete 
discourses between the prisoners and their friends 
outside as well as the passing in of food. Eng- 
lish jails were like this in Queen Elizabeth's 
time and later. In Hey wood's " Woman killed 



ITALY 189 

with Kindness," Acton says of his enemy 
Mountford, in prison for debt, — 

** shall we hear 
The music of his voice cry from the grate. 
Meat, for the Lord's sake ? " 

Behind the palace rises a steep, rocky hill, with 
a continuation of ruined castle, the innocent 
fastness now of rooks and swallows. We walked 
down to a kind of terrace, and watched the Alban 
Mount (which saw the sunset for us by proxy) 
till the bloom trembled nearer and nearer to its 
summit, then went wholly out, we could not 
say when, and day was dead. Simultaneously 
we thought of dining, and clattered hastily 
down to the Cappellaro. We had to wait yet 
half an hour for dinner, and from where I sat 
I could see through the door of the dining-room 
a kind of large hall into which a door from the 
kitchen also opened. Presently I saw the land- 
lady come out with a little hanging-lamp in her 
hand, and seat herself amply before a row of 
baskets ranged upside down along the wall. She 
carefully lifted the edge of one of these, and, 
after she had groped in it a moment, I heard 
that hoarse choking scream peculiar to fowls 
when seized by the leg in the dark, as if their 
throats were in their tibiae after sunset. She 
took out a fine young cock and set him 
upon his feet before her, stupid with sleep, 
and blinking helplessly at the lamp, which 



I90 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

he perhaps took for a sun in reduced circum- 
stances, doubtful whether to crow or cackle. 
She looked at him admiringly, felt of him, 
sighed, gazed sadly at his coral crest, and put him 
back again. This ceremony she repeated with 
five or six of the baskets, and then went back 
into the kitchen. I thought of Thessalian hags 
and Arabian enchantresses, and wondered if 
these were transformed travellers, — for travel- 
lers go through queer transformations some- 
times. Should Storg and I be crowing and 
scratching to-morrow, instead of going to Su- 
biaco ? Should we be Plato's men, with the 
feathers, instead of without them ? I would 
probe this mystery. So, when the good woman 
came in to lay the table, I asked what she had 
been doing with the fowls. 

" I thought to kill one for the gentlemen's 
soup ; but they were so beautiful my heart failed 
me. Still, if the gentlemen wish it — only I 
thought two pigeons would be more delicate." 

Of course we declined to be accessory to such 
a murder, and she went off delighted, returning 
in a few minutes with our dinner. First we had 
soup, then a roasted kid, then boiled pigeons 
(of which the soup had been made), and last the 
pesci di marej which were not quite so great a 
novelty to us as to our good hostess. However, 
hospitality, like so many other things, is recip- 
rocal, and the guest must bring his half, or it 



ITALY . 191 

is naught. The prosperity of a dinner lies in 
the heart of him that eats it, and an appetite 
twelve miles long enabled us to do as great 
justice to the fish as if we were crowding all 
Lent into one meal. The landlady came and sat 
by us ; a large and serious cat, winding her great 
tail round her, settled herself comfortably on the 
table, licking her paws now and then, with a 
poor relation's look at the fish ; a small dog 
sprang into an empty chair, and a large one, with 
very confidential manners, would go from one 
to the other of us, laying his paw upon our arms 
as if he had an important secret to communicate, 
and alternately pricking and drooping his ears 
in hope or despondency. The albergatrice forth- 
with began to tell us her story, — how she was 
a widow, how she had borne thirteen children, 
twelve still living, and how she received a pen- 
sion of sixty scudi a year, under the old Roman 
law, for her meritoriousness in this respect. 
The portrait of the son she had lost hung over 
the chimney-place, and, pointing to it, she 
burst forth into the following droll threnody. 
The remarks in parentheses were screamed 
through the kitchen-door, which stood ajar, or 
addressed personally to us. 

" O my son, my son ! the doctors killed him, 
just as truly as if they had poisoned him ! O 
how beautiful he was ! beautiful ! beautiful! ! 
BEAUTIFUL ! ! ! (Are not those fish done yet ?) 



192 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

Look, that is his Hkeness, — but he was hand- 
somer. He was as big as that " (extending her 
arms), — " big breast, big shoulders, big sides, 
big legs ! (Eat 'em, eat 'em, they won't hurt you, 
fresh sea-fish, fresh \ fresh ! ! fresh ! ! !) I told 
them the doctors had murdered him, when they 
carried him with torches ! He had been hunt- 
ing, and brought home some rabbits, I remem- 
ber, for he was not one that ever came empty- 
handed, and got the fever, and you treated him 
for consumption, and killed him ! (Shall I come 
out there, or will you bring some more fish?)" 
So she went on, talking to herself, to us, to the 
little serva in the kitchen, and to the medical 
profession in general, repeating every epithet 
three times, with increasing emphasis, till her 
voice rose to a scream, and contriving to mix up 
her living children with her dead one, the fish, 
the doctors, the serva, and the rabbits, till it was 
hard to say whether it was the fish that had large 
legs, whether the doctors had killed them, or the 
serva had killed the doctors, and whether the 
bello I hello 1 1 hello ! ! I referred to her son or a 
particularly fine rabbit. 

2^th. — Having engaged our guide and horses 
the night before, we set out betimes this morn- 
ing for Olevano. From Palestrina to Cavi the 
road winds along a narrow valley, following the 
course of a stream which rustles rather than roars 
below. Large chestnut-trees lean every way on 



ITALY 193 

the steep sides of the hills above us, and at 
every opening we could see great stretches of 
Campagna rolling away and away toward the 
bases of purple mountains streaked with snow. 
The sides of the road were drifted with heaps of 
wild hawthorn and honeysuckle in full bloom, 
and bubbling with innumerable nightingales that 
sang unseen. Overhead the sunny sky tinkled 
with larks, as if the frost in the air were break- 
ing up and whirling away on the swollen cur- 
rents of spring. 

Before long we overtook a little old man hob- 
bling toward Cavi, with a bag upon his back. 
This was the mail ! Happy country, which 
Hurry and Worry have not yet subjugated ! 
Then we clattered up and down the narrow 
paved streets of Cavi, through the market-place, 
full of men dressed all alike in blue jackets, 
blue breeches, and white stockings, who do not 
stare at the strangers, and so out at the farther 
gate. Now oftener and oftener we meet groups 
of peasants in gayest dresses, ragged pilgrims 
with staff and scallop, singing (horribly) ; then 
processions with bag-pipes and pipes in front, 
droning and squealing (horribly); then strings 
of two-wheeled carts, eight or nine in each, and 
in the first the priest, book in hand, setting the 
stave, and all singing (horribly). This must be 
inquired into. Gigantic guide, who, splendid 
with blue sash and silver knee-buckles, has con- 



194 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

trived, by incessant drumming with his heels, 
to get his mule in front, is hailed. 

" Ho, Petruccio, what is the meaning of all 
this press of people?" 

" Festdy Lordship, at Genezzano." 

" What Festa ? " 

" Of the Madonna, Lordship," and touches 
his hat, for they are all dreadfully afraid of her 
for some reason or other. 

We are in luck, this being the grt2it festa of 
the year among the mountains, — a thing which 
people go out of Rome to see. 

" Where is Genezzano ? " 

" Just over yonder. Lordship," and pointed 
to the left, where was what seemed like a mon- 
strous crystallization of rock on the crown of a 
hill, with three or four taller crags of castle tow- 
ering in the midst, and all gray, except the tiled 
roofs, whose wrinkled sides were gold-washed 
with a bright yellow lichen, as if ripples, turned 
by some spell to stone, had contrived to detain 
the sunshine with which they were touched at 
the moment of transformation. 

The road, wherever it came into sight, burned 
with brilliant costumes, like an illuminated page 
of Froissart. Gigantic guide meanwhile shows an 
uncomfortable and fidgety reluctance to turn 
aside and enter fairyland, which is wholly un- 
accountable. Is the huge earthen creature an 
Afrite, under sacred pledge to Solomon, and in 



ITALY 195 

danger of being sealed up again, if he venture 
near the festival of our Blessed Lady ? If so, 
that also were a ceremony worth seeing, and we 
insist. He wriggles and swings his great feet 
with an evident impulse to begin kicking the 
sides of his mule again and fly. The way over 
the hills from Genezzano to Olevano he pro- 
nounces scomodissimdy demanding of every pea- 
sant who goes by if it be not entirely impassable. 
This leading question, put in all the tones of 
plausible entreaty he can command, meets the 
invariable reply, "£ scomoda^ davvero ; ma per le 
bestie — eh! " (it is bad, of a truth, but for the 
beasts — eh !) and then one of those indescrib- 
able shrugs, unintelligible at first as the compass 
to a savage, but in which the expert can make 
twenty hair's-breadth distinctions between N. E. 
and N. N. E. 

Finding that destiny had written it on his 
forehead, the guide at last turned and went 
cantering and kicking toward Genezzano, we 
following. Just before you reach the town, the 
road turns sharply to the right, and, crossing 
a little gorge, loses itself in the dark gateway. 
Outside the gate is an open space, which formi- 
cated with peasantry in every variety of costume 
that was not Parisian. Laughing women were 
climbing upon their horses (which they bestride 
like men) ; pilgrims were chanting, and beggars 
(the howl of an Italian beggar in the country 



196 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

is something terrible) howling in discordant 
rivalry. It was a scene lively enough to make 
Heraclitus shed a double allowance of tears; 
but our giant was still discomforted. As soon 
as we had entered the gate, he dodged into a 
little back street, just as we were getting out 
of which the mystery of his unwillingness was 
cleared up. He had been endeavoring to avoid 
a creditor. But it so chanced (as Fate can hang 
a man with even a rope of sand) that the enemy 
was in position just at the end of this very lane, 
where it debouched into the Piazza of the town. 
The disputes of Italians are very droll things, 
and I will accordingly bag that which is now 
imminent, as a specimen. They quarrel as un- 
accountably as dogs, who put their noses to- 
gether, dislike each other's kind of smell, and 
instantly tumble one over the other, with noise 
enough to draw the eyes of a whole street. So 
these people burst out, without apparent pre- 
liminaries, into a noise and fury and war-dance 
which would imply the very utmost pitch and 
agony of exasperation. And the subsidence is 
as sudden. They explode each other on mere 
contact, as if by a law of nature, like two hos- 
tile gases. They do not grow warm, but leap 
at once from zero to some degree of white-heat, 
to indicate which no Anglo-Saxon thermometer 
of wrath is highly enough graduated. If I were 
asked to name one universal characteristic of 



ITALY 197 

an Italian town, I should say, two men clamor- 
ing and shaking themselves to pieces at each 
other, and a woman leaning lazily out of a win- 
dow, and perhaps looking at something else. 
Till one gets used to this kind of thing, one 
expects some horrible catastrophe ; but during 
eight months in Italy I have only seen blows 
exchanged thrice. In the present case the ex- 
plosion was of harmless gunpowder. 

" Why-haven't-you-paid-those-fifty-five-ba- 
]occh{-3.t-t\ie-pizzicarolo' s ? " began the adver- 
sary, speaking with such inconceivable rapidity 
that he made only one word, nay, as it seemed, 
one monosyllable, of the whole sentence. Our 
giant, with a controversial genius which I should 
not have suspected in him, immediately, and 
with great adroitness, changed the ground of 
dispute, and, instead of remaining an insolvent 
debtor, raised himself at once to the ethical 
position of a moralist, resisting an unjust de- 
mand from principle. 

" It was only/(?r/jy-five," roared he. 

" But I say T^/jy-five," screamed the other, 
and shook his close-cropped head as a boy 
does an apple on the end of a switch, as if he 
meant presently to jerk it off at his antagonist. 

" Birbone ! " yelled the guide, gesticulating 
so furiously with every square inch of his pon- 
derous body that I thought he would throw his 
mule over, the poor beast standing all the while 



198 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

with drooping head and ears while the thunders 
of this man-quake burst over him. So feels the 
tortoise that sustains the globe when earth suf- 
fers fiery convulsions. 

" Birbante ! " retorted the creditor, and the 
opprobrious epithet clattered from between his 
shaking jaws as a refractory copper is rattled 
out of a Jehoiada-box by a child. 

" Andate vi far f rigger e ! " howled giant. 

" Andate ditto ^ ditto ! " echoed creditor, — 
and behold, the thing is over ! The giant pro- 
mises to attend to the affair when he comes 
back, the creditor returns to his booth, and we 
ride on. 

Speaking of Italian quarrels, I am tempted 
to parenthesize here another which I saw at 
Civita Vecchia. We had been five days on our 
way from Leghorn in a French steamer, a 
voyage performed usually, I think, in about 
thirteen hours. It was heavy weather, blowing 
what a sailor would call half a gale of wind, and 
the caution of our captain, not to call it fear, 
led him to put in for shelter first at Porto Fer- 
rajo in Elba, and then at Santo Stefano on the 
Italian coast. Our little black water-beetle of 
a mail-packet was knocked about pretty well, 
and all the Italian passengers disappeared in 
the forward cabin before we were out of port. 
When we were fairly at anchor within the har- 
bor of Civita Vecchia, they crawled out again. 



ITALY 199 

sluggish as winter flies, their vealy faces mezzo- 
tinted with soot. One of them presently ap- 
peared in the custom-house, his only luggage 
being a cage closely covered with a dirty red 
handkerchief, which represented his linen. 

" What have you in the cage ? " asked the 
doganiere. 

" Eh ! nothing other than a parrot." 

" There is a duty of one scudo and one ba- 
joccho, then." 

" Santo diavolo ! but what hoggishness ! " 

Thereupon instant and simultaneous blow- 
up, or rather a series of explosions, like those 
in honor of a Neapolitan saint's-day, lasting 
about ten minutes, and followed by as sudden 
quiet. In the course of it, the owner of the 
bird, playing irreverently on the first half of 
its name {pappag?i\\o), hinted that it would be 
a high duty for his Holiness himself [Papa). 
After a pause for breath, he said quietly, as if 
nothing had happened, " Very good, then, since 
I must pay, I will," and began fumbling for 
the money. 

" Meanwhile, do me the politeness to show 
me the bird," said the officer. 

" With all pleasure," and, lifting a corner of 
the handkerchief, there lay the object of dis- 
pute on his back, stone dead, with his claws 
curled up helplessly on each side his breast. I 
believe the owner would have been pleased had 



200 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

it even been his grandmother who had thus 
evaded duty, so exquisite is the pleasure of an 
ItaHan in escaping payment of anything. 

" I make a present of the poor bird," said he 
blandly. 

The publican, however, seemed to feel that 
he had been somehow cheated, and I left them 
in high debate, as to whether the bird were dead 
when it entered the custom-house, and, if it had 
been, whether a dead parrot were dutiable. Do 
not blame me for being entertained and trying 
to entertain you with these trifles. I remember 
Virgil's stern 

'* Che per poco e che teco non mi risso," 

but Dante's journey was of more import to him- 
self and others than mine. 

I am struck by the freshness and force of the 
passions in Europeans, and cannot help feeling 
as if there were something healthy in it. When 
I think of the versatile and accommodating 
habits of America, it seems like a land without 
thunder-storms. In proportion as man grows 
commercial, does he also become dispassionate 
and incapable of electric emotions ? The driv- 
ing-wheels of all-powerful natures are in the 
back of the head, and, as man is the highest 
type of organization, so a nation is better or 
worse as it advances toward the highest type 
of man, or recedes from it. But it is ill with a 



ITALY 20I 

nation when the cerebrum sucks the cerebellum 
dry, for it cannot live by intellect alone. The 
broad foreheads always carry the day at last, but 
only when they are based on or buttressed with 
massive hind-heads. It would be easier to make 
a people great in whom the animal is vigorous 
than to keep one so after it has begun to spin- 
dle into over-intellectuality. The hands that 
have grasped dominion and held it have been 
large and hard ; those from which it has slipped, 
delicate, and apt for the lyre and the pencil. 
Moreover, brain is always to be bought, but 
passion never comes to market. On the whole, 
I am rather inclined to like this European im- 
patience and fire, even while I laugh at it, and 
sometimes find myself surmising whether a peo- 
ple who, like the Americans, put up quietly 
with all sorts of petty personal impositions and 
injustices, will not at length find it too great a 
bore to quarrel with great public wrongs. 

Meanwhile, I must remember that I am in 
Genezzano, and not in the lecturer's desk. We 
walked about for an hour or two, admiring the 
beauty and grand bearing of the women, and 
the picturesque vivacity and ever-renewing un- 
assuetude of the whole scene. Take six of the 
most party-colored dreams, break them to pieces, 
put them into a fantasy-kaleidoscope, and when 
you look through it you will see something that 
for strangeness, vividness, and mutability looked 



202 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

like the little Piazza of Genezzano seen from 
the church porch. As we wound through the 
narrow streets again to the stables where we had 
left our horses, a branch of laurel or ilex would 
mark a wine-shop, and, looking till our eye 
cooled and toned itself down to dusky sympathy 
with the crypt, we could see the smoky interior 
sprinkled with white head-cloths and scarlet 
bodices, with here and there a yellow spot of 
lettuce or the red inward gleam of a wine-flask. 
The head-dress is precisely of that most ancient 
pattern seen on Egyptian statues, and so colos- 
sal are many of the wearers that you might al- 
most think you saw a party of young sphinxes 
carousing in the sunless core of a pyramid. 

We remounted our beasts, and, for about a 
mile, cantered gayly along a fine road, and then 
turned into a by-path along the flank of a 
mountain. Here the guide's strada scomodissima 
began, and we were forced to dismount, and 
drag our horses downward for a mile or two. 
We crossed a small plain in the valley, and then 
began to climb the opposite ascent. The path 
was perhaps four feet broad, and was paved with 
irregularly shaped blocks of stone, which, hav- 
ing been raised and lowered, tipped, twisted, 
undermined, and generally capsized by the rains 
and frosts of centuries, presented the most dia- 
bolically ingenious traps and pitfalls. All the 
while the scenery was beautiful. Mountains of 



ITALY 203 

every shape and hue changed their slow outHnes 
ever as we moved, now opening, now closing 
round us, sometimes peering down solemnly at 
us over each other's shoulders, and then sinking 
slowly out of sight, or, at some sharp turn of 
the path, seeming to stride into the valley and 
confront us with their craggy challenge, — a 
challenge which the little valleys accepted, if we 
did not, matching their rarest tints of gray and 
brown, and pink and purple, or that royal dye 
to make which all these were profusely melted 
together for a moment's ornament, with as 
many shades of various green and yellow. Gray 
towns crowded and clung on the tops of peaks 
that seemed inaccessible. We owe a great deal 
of picturesqueness to the quarrels and thieveries 
of the barons of the Middle Ages. The trav- 
eller and artist should put up a prayer for their 
battered old souls. It was to be out of their 
way and that of the Saracens that people were 
driven to make their homes in spots so sublime 
and inconvenient that the eye alone finds it 
pleasant to climb up to them. Nothing else but 
an American land company ever managed to in- 
duce settlers upon territory of such uninhabit- 
able quality. I have seen an insect that makes 
a mask for himself out of the lichens of the 
rock over which he crawls, contriving so to de- 
ceive the birds ; and the towns in this wild re- 
gion would seem to have been built on the same 



204 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

principle. Made of the same stone with the 
cliffs on which they perch, it asks good eyesight 
to make them out at the distance of a few miles, 
and every wandering mountain-mist annihilates 
them for the moment. 

At intervals, I could hear the giant, after dig- 
ging at the sides of his mule with his spurless 
heels, growling to himself, and imprecating an 
apoplexy {accidente) upon the path and him who 
made it. This is the universal malediction here, 
and once it was put into rhyme for my benefit. 
I was coming down the rusty steps of San Gre- 
gorio one day, and having paid no heed to a 
stout woman of thirty-odd who begged some- 
what obtrusively, she screamed after me, — 

** Ah, vi pigli un accidente, 
Voi che non date niente ! " 

Ah, may a sudden apoplexy. 

You who give not, come and vex ye! 

Our guide could not long appease his mind 
with this milder type of objurgation, but soon 
intensified it into accident accio^ which means a se- 
lected apoplexy of uncommon size and ugliness. 
As the path grew worse and worse, so did the re- 
petition of this phrase (for he was slow of in- 
vention) become more frequent, till at last he did 
nothing but kick and curse, mentally, I have no 
doubt, including us in his malediction. I think it 
would have gratified Longinus or Fuseli (both of 



ITALY 205 

whom commended swearing) to have heard him. 
Before long we turned the flank of the hill by 
a little shrine of the Madonna, and there was 
Olevano just above us. Like the other towns 
in this district, it was the diadem of an abrupt 
peak of rock. From the midst of it jutted the 
ruins of an old stronghold of the Colonna. Prob- 
ably not a house has been built in it for cen- 
turies. To enter the town, we literally rode up 
a long flight of stone steps, and soon found our- 
selves in the Piazza. We stopped to buy some 
cigars, and the zigararo^ as he rolled them up, 
asked if we did not want dinner. We told him 
we should get it at the inn. Benissimo, he would 
be there before us. What he meant, we could 
not divine ; but it turned out that he was the 
landlord, and that the inn only became such 
when strangers arrived, relapsing again imme- 
diately into a private dwelling. We found our 
host ready to receive us, and went up to a large 
room on the first floor. After due instructions, 
we seated ourselves at the open windows, — 
Storg to sketch, and I to take a mental calotype 
of the view. Among the many lovely ones of 
the day, this was the loveliest, — or was it only 
that the charm of repose was added ? On our 
right was the silent castle, and beyond it the 
silent mountains. To the left we looked down 
over the clustering houses upon a campagna- 
valley of peaceful cultivation, vineyards, olive- 



2o6 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

orchards, grain-fields in their earliest green, and 
dark stripes of new-ploughed earth, over which 
the cloud-shadows melted tracklessly toward 
the hills which round softly upward to Monte 
Cavi. 

When our dinner came, and with it a flask of 
drowsy red Aleatico, like ink with a suspicion 
of life-blood in it, such as one might fancy Shake- 
speare to have dipped his quill in, we had our 
table so placed that the satisfaction of our hun- 
ger might be dissensualized by the view from the 
windows. Many a glutton has eaten up farms 
and woodlands and pastures, and so did we, 
aesthetically, saucing our frittata and flavoring 
our Aleatico with landscape. It is a fine thing 
when we can accustom our animal appetites to 
good society, when body and soul (like master 
and servant in an Arab tent) sit down together 
at the same board. This thought is forced upon 
one very often in Italy, as one picnics in en- 
chanted spots, where Imagination and Fancyplay 
the parts of the unseen waiters in the fairy-story, 
and serve us with course after course of their 
ethereal dishes. Sense is satisfied with less and 
simpler food when sense and spirit are fed to- 
gether, and the feast of the loaves and fishes is 
spread for us anew. If it be important for a 
state to educate its lower classes, so is it for us 
personally to instruct, elevate, and refine our 
senses, the lower classes of our private body 



ITALY 207 

politic, which, if left to their own brute instincts, 
will disorder or destroy the whole common- 
wealth with flaming insurrection. 

After dinner came our guide to be paid. He, 
too, had had K\s friitata and his fiasco (or two), 
and came back absurdly comic, reminding one 
of the giant who was so taken in by the little 
tailor. He was not in the least tipsy ; but the 
wine had excited his poor wits, whose destiny 
it was (awkward servants as they were !) to trip 
up and tumble over each other in proportion 
as they became zealous. He was very anxious 
to do us in some way or other; he only vaguely 
guessed how, but felt so gigantically good- 
natured that he could not keep his face sober 
long enough. It is quite clear why the Italians 
have no word but recitare to express acting, for 
their stage is no more theatric than their street, 
and to exaggerate in the least would be ridicu- 
lous. We graver tempered and mannered Sep- 
tentrions must give the pegs a screw or two to 
bring our spirits up to nature's concert-pitch. 
Storg and I sat enjoying the exhibition of 
our giant, as if we had no more concern in it 
than as a comedy. It was nothing but a spec- 
tacle to us, at which we were present as critics, 
while he inveighed, expostulated, argued, and 
besought, in a breath. Finding all his attempts 
miscarry, or resulting in nothing more solid 
than applause, he said, " Forse non c apis com ? " 



2o8 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

(Perhaps you don't understand ?) " Capiscono 
pur troppo " (They understand only too well), 
replied the landlord, upon which terrae filius 
burst into a laugh, and began begging for more 
buonamano. Failing in this, he tightened his 
sash, offered to kiss our lordships' hands, an act 
of homage which we declined, and departed, 
carefully avoiding Genezzano on his return, I 
make no doubt. 

We paid our bill, and after I had written in 
the guest-book, 

Bere Aleatico 

Mi e molto simpatico, 

went down to the door, where we found our 
guides and donkeys, the host's handsome wife 
and handsomer daughter, with two oi her daugh- 
ters, and a crowd of women and children waiting 
to witness the exit of the foreigners. We made 
all the mothers and children happy by a dis- 
criminating largesse of copper among the little 
ones. They are a charming people, the natives 
of these out-of-the-way Italian towns, if kind- 
ness, courtesy, and good looks make people 
charming. Our beards and felt hats, which make 
us pass for artists, were our passports to the 
warmest welcome and the best cheer every- 
where. Reluctantly we mounted our donkeys, 
and trotted away, our guides (a man and a boy) 
running by the flank (true henchmen, haunch- 
men, flanquiers or flunkeys) and inspiring the 



ITALY Z09 

little animals with pokes in the side, or with the 
even more effectual ahrrrrrr ! Is there any radi- 
cal affinity between this rolling fire of r's and 
the word arra^ which means hansel or earnest- 
money ? The sound is the same, and has a mar- 
vellous spur-power over the donkey, who seems 
to understand that full payment of goad or 
cudgel is to follow. I have known it to move 
even a Sicilian mule, the least sensitive and most 
obstinate of creatures with ears, except a British 
church-warden. 

We wound along under a bleak hill, more 
desolate than anything I had ever seen. The 
old gray rocks seemed not to thrust themselves 
out of the rusty soil, but rather to be stabbed 
into it, as if they had been hailed down upon 
it by some volcano. There was nearly as much 
look of design as there is in a druidical circle, 
and the whole looked like some graveyard in 
an extinguished world, the monument of mor- 
tality itself, such as Bishop Wilkins might have 
found in the moon, if he had ever got thither. 
The path grew ever wilder, and Rojate, the 
next town we came to, grim and grizzly under 
a grim and grizzly sky of low-trailing clouds 
which had suddenly gathered, looked drearier 
even than the desolations we had passed. It was 
easy to understand why rocks should like to 
live here well enough ; but what could have 
brought men hither, and then kept them here, 
I 



2IO LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

was beyond all reasonable surmise. Barren hills 
stood sullenly aloof all around, incapable of any 
crop but lichens. 

We entered the gate, and found ourselves 
in the midst of a group of wild-looking men 
gathered about the door of a wine-shop. Some 
of them were armed with long guns, and we 
saw (for the first time in situ) the tall bandit hat 
with ribbons wound round it, — such as one 
is familiar with in operas, and on the heads of 
those inhabitants of the Scalinata in Rome, who 
have a costume of their own, and placidly serve 
as models through the whole pictorial range 
of divine and human nature, from the Padre 
Eterno to Judas. Twenty years ago, when my 
notion of an Italian was divided between a monk 
and a bravo, the first of whom did nothing but 
enter at secret doors and drink your health in 
poison, while the other lived behind corners, 
supporting himself by the productive industry 
of digging your person all over with a stiletto, 
I should have looked for instant assassination 
from these carousing ruffians. But the only 
blood shed on the occasion was that of the grape. 
A ride over the mountains for two hours had 
made us thirsty, and two or three bajocchi gave a 
tumbler of vino asciutto to all four of us. " You 
are welcome," said one of the men, " we are all 
artists after a fashion ; we are all brothers," The 
manners here are more republican, and the title 



ITALY 211 

of lordship disappears altogether. Another came 
up and insisted that we should drink a second 
flask of wine as his guests. In vain we protested ; 
no artist should pass through Rojate without 
accepting that token of good will, and with the 
liberal help of our guides we contrived to gulp 
it down. He was for another; but we protested 
that we were entirely full, and that it was im- 
possible. I dare say the poor fellow would 
have spent a week's earnings on us, if we would 
have let him. We proposed to return the civil- 
ity, and to leave a paul for them to drink a 
good journey to us after we were gone ; but 
they would not listen to it. Our entertainer 
followed us along to the Piazza, begging one of 
us to let him serve as donkey-driver to Subi- 
aco. When this was denied, he said that there 
was a festa here also, and that we must stop 
long enough to see the procession of zitelle 
(young girls), which would soon begin. But 
evening was already gathering, the clouds grew 
momently darker, and fierce, damp gusts, striking 
us with the suddenness of a blow, promised a 
wild night. We had still eight miles of moun- 
tain-path before us, and we struggled away. As 
we crossed the next summit beyond the town, 
a sound of chanting drifted by us on the wind, 
wavered hither and thither, now heard, now 
lost, then a doubtful something between song 
and gust, and, lingering a few moments, we saw 



212 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

the white head-dresses, gliding two by two, 
across a gap between the houses. The scene 
and the music were both in neutral tints, a 
sketch, as it were, in sepia a little blurred. 

Before long the clouds almost brushed us as 
they eddied silently by, and then it began to 
rain, first mistily, and then in thick, hard drops. 
Fortunately there was a moon, shining placidly 
in the desert heaven above all this turmoil, or 
we could not have found our path, which in 
a few moments became a roaring torrent al- 
most knee-deep. It was a cold rain, and far 
above us, where the mountain-peaks tore gaps 
in the clouds, we could see the white silence of 
new-fallen snow. Sometimes we had to dis- 
mount and wade, — a circumstance which did 
not make our saddles more comfortable when 
we returned to them and could hear them go 
crosh-y crosh, as the water gurgled out of them 
at every jolt. There was no hope of shelter 
nearer than Subiaco, no sign of man, and no 
sound but the multitudinous roar of waters on 
every side. Rivulet whispered to rivulet, and 
water-fall shouted to water-fall, as they leaped 
from rock to rock, all hurrying to reinforce the 
main torrent below, which hummed onward 
toward the Anio with dilated heart. So gathered 
the hoarse Northern swarms to descend upon 
sunken Italv ; and so forever does physical and 
intellectual force seek its fatal equilibrium, rush- 



ITALY 213 

ing in and occupying wherever it is drawn by 
the attraction of a lower level. 

We forded large streams that had been dry 
beds an hour before ; and so sudden was the 
creation of the floods, that it gave one almost 
as fresh a feeling of water as if one had been 
present in Eden when the first rock gave birth 
to the first fountain. T had a severe cold, I was 
wet through from the hips downward, and yet I 
never enjoyed anything more in my life, — so 
different is the shower-bath to which we doom 
ourselves from that whose string is pulled by 
the prison-warden compulsion. After our little 
bearers had tottered us up and down the dusky 
steeps of a few more mountain-spurs, where a 
misstep would have sent us spinning down the 
fathomless black nowhere below, we came out 
upon the high-road, and found it a fine one, as 
all the great Italian roads are. The rain broke 
off suddenly, and on the left, seeming about 
half a mile away, sparkled the lights of Subiaco, 
flashing intermittently like a knot of fireflies in 
a meadow. The town, owing to the necessary 
windings of the road, was still three miles off, 
and just as the guides had prodded and ahrred 
the donkeys into a brisk joggle, I resolved to 
give up my saddle to the boy, and try Tom 
Coryate's compasses. It was partly out of hu- 
manity to myself and partly to him, for he was 
tired and I was cold. The elder guide and I 



214 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

took the lead, and, as I looked back, I laughed 
to see the lolling ears of Storg's donkey thrust 
from under his long cloak, as if he were coming 
out from a black Arab tent. We soon left them 
behind, and paused at a bridge over the Anio 
till we heard the patter of little hoofs again. The 
bridge is a single arch, bent between the steep 
edges of a gorge through which the Anio hud- 
dled far below, showing a green gleam here and 
there in the struggling moonlight, as if a fish 
rolled up his burnished flank. After another mile 
and a half, we reached the gate, and awaited our 
companions. It was dreary enough, — waiting 
always is, — and as the snow-chilled wind 
whistled through the damp archway where we 
stood, my legs illustrated feelingly to me how 
they cool water in the East, by wrapping the jars 
with wet woollen and setting them in a draught. 
At last they came ; I remounted, and we went 
sliding through the steep, wet streets till we 
had fairly passed through the whole town. Be- 
fore a long building of two stories, without a 
symptom of past or future light, we stopped. 
" Ecco la Paletta I " said the guide, and began to 
pound furiously on the door with a large stone, 
which he some time before had provided for 
the purpose. After a long period of sullen irre- 
sponsiveness, we heard descending footsteps, 
light streamed through the chinks of the door, 
and the invariable " Chi e ? " which precedes 



ITALY 215 

the unbarring of all portals here, came from 
within. " Due forestieri^" answered the guide, 
and the bars rattled in hasty welcome. " Make 
us," we exclaimed, as we stiffly climbed down 
from our perches, " your biggest fire in your 
biggest chimney, and then we will talk of sup- 
per ! " In five minutes two great laurel fagots 
were spitting and crackling in an enormous fire- 
place ; and Storg and I were in the costume 
which Don Quixote wore on the Brown Moun- 
tain. Of course there was nothing for supper 
but 3. frit tat a ; but there are worse things in the 
world than z.frittata con prosciuttOj and we dis- 
cussed it like a society just emerging from bar- 
barism, the upper half of our persons presenting 
all the essentials of an advanced civilization, 
while our legs skulked under the table as free 
from sartorial impertinences as those of the 
noblest savage that ever ran wild in the woods. 
And so eccoci finalmente arrivati ! 

2'jth. — Nothing can be more lovely than 
the scenery about Subiaco. The town itself is 
built on a kind of cone rising from the midst 
of a valley abounding in olives and vines, with 
a superb mountain horizon around it, and the 
green Anio cascading at its feet. As you walk 
to the high-perched convent of San Benedetto, 
you look across the river on your right just 
after leaving the town, to a cliff over which the 
ivy pours in torrents, and in which dwellings 



2i6 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

have been hollowed out. In the black door- 
way of every one sits a woman in scarlet bodice 
and white head-gear, with a distaff, "spinning, 
while overhead countless nightingales sing at 
once from the fringe of shrubbery. The glo- 
rious great white clouds look over the moun- 
tain-tops into our enchanted valley, and some- 
times a lock of their vapory wool would be 
torn off, to lie for a while in some inaccessible 
ravine like a snow-drift ; but it seemed as if 
no shadow could fly over our privacy of sun- 
shine to-day. The approach to the monastery 
is delicious. You pass out .of the hot sun into 
the green shadows of ancient ilexes, leaning 
and twisting every way that is graceful, their 
branches velvety with brilliant moss, in which 
grow feathery ferns, fringing them with a halo 
of verdure. Then comes the convent, with its 
pleasant old monks, who show their sacred 
vessels (one by Cellini) and their relics, among 
which is a finger-bone of one of the Innocents. 
Lower down is a convent of Santa Scholastica, 
where the first book was printed in Italy. 

But though one may have daylight till after 
twenty-four o'clock in Italy, the days are no 
longer than ours, and I must go back to La 
Paletta to see about a vettura to Tivoli. I 
leave Storg sketching, and walk slowly down, 
lingering over the ever-changeful views, linger- 
ing opposite the nightingale-cliff, but get back 



ITALY 217 

to Subiaco and the vetturino at last. The growl 
of a thunder-storm soon brought Storg home, 
and we leave Subiaco triumphantly, at five 
o'clock, in a light carriage, drawn by three gray 
stallions (harnessed abreast) on the full gallop. 
I cannot describe our drive, the mountain 
towns, with their files of girls winding up from 
the fountain with balanced water-jars of ruddy 
copper, or chattering round it bright-hued as 
parrots, the ruined castles, the green gleams of 
the capricious river, the one great mountain 
that soaked up all the rose of sunset, and, after 
all else grew dim, still glowed as if with inward 
fires, and, later, the white spray-smoke of Tivoli 
that drove down the valley under a clear cold 
moon, contrasting strangely with the red glare 
of the lime-furnace on the opposite hillside. It 
is well that we can be happy sometimes with- 
out peeping and botanizing in the materials 
that make us so. It is not often that we can 
escape the evil genius of analysis that haunts 
our modern daylight of self-consciousness {wir 
haben ja aufgekldrt I) and enjoy a day of right 
Chaucer. 

P. S. Now that I am printing this, a dear 
friend sends me an old letter, and says, " Slip 
in somewhere, by way of contrast, what you 
wrote me of your visit to Passawampscot." It 
is odd, almost painful, to be confronted with 



2i8 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

your past self and your past self's doings, when 
you have forgotten both. But here is my bit 
of American scenery, such as it is. 

While we were waiting for the boat, we had 
time to investigate P. a little. We wandered 
about with no one to molest us or make us 
afraid. No cicerone was lying in wait for us, no 
verger expected with funeral solemnity the more 
than compulsory shilling. I remember the 
whole population of Cortona gathering round 
me, and beseeching me not to leave their city 
till I had seen the lampadonCy whose keeper had 
unhappily gone out for a walk, taking the key 
with him. Thank Fortune, here were no anti- 
quities, no galleries of Pre-Raphaelite art, every 
lank figure looking as if it had been stretched 
on a rack, before which the Anglo-Saxon writhes 
because he ought to like them and cannot for 
the soul of him. It is a pretty Httle village, 
cuddled down among the hills, the clay soil of 
which gives them, to a pilgrim from the parched 
gravelly inland, a look of almost fanatical green. 
The fields are broad, and wholly given up to 
the grazing of cattle and sheep, which dotted 
them thickly in the breezy sunshine. The open 
doors of a barn, through which the wind flowed 
rustling the loose locks of the mow, attracted 
us. Swallows swam in and out with level wings, 
or crossed each other, twittering in the dusky 
mouth of their hay-scented cavern. Two or 



ITALY 219 

three hens and a cock (none of your gawky 
Shanghais, long-legged as a French peasant on 
his stilts, but the true red cock of the ballads, 
full-chested, coral-combed, fountain-tailed) were 
inquiring for hay-seed in the background. 
What frame in what gallery ever enclosed such 
a picture as is squared within the groundsel, 
side-posts, and lintel of a barn-door, whether 
for eye or fancy ? The shining floor suggests 
the flail-beat of autumn, that pleasantest of 
monotonous sounds, and the later husking-bee, 
where the lads and lasses sit round laughingly 
busy under the swinging lantern. 

Here we found a fine, stalwart fellow shear- 
ing sheep. This was something new to us, and 
we watched him for some time with many ques- 
tions, which he answered with off-hand good 
nature. Going away I thanked him for having 
taught me something. He laughed, and said, 
" Ef you '11 take off them gloves o' yourn, I '11 
give ye a try at the practical part on 't." He 
was in the right of it. I never saw anything 
handsomer than those brown hands of his, on 
which the sinews stood out, as he handled his 
shears, tight as a drawn bowstring. How much 
more admirable is this tawny vigor, the badge of 
fruitful toil, than the crop of early muscle that 
heads out under the forcing-glass of the gymna- 
sium ! Foreigners do not feel easy in America, 
because there are no peasants and underlings 



220 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

here to be humble to them. The truth is, that 
none but those who feel themselves only ar- 
tificially the superiors of our sturdy yeomen 
see in their self-respect any uncomfortable as- 
sumption of equality. It is the last thing the 
yeoman is likely to think of. They do not like 
the " I say, ma good fellah " kind of style, and 
commonly contrive to snub it. They do not 
value condescension at the same rate that he does 
who vouchsafes it to them. If it be a good thing 
for an English duke that he has no social su- 
periors, I think it can hardly be bad for a Yan- 
kee farmer. If it be a bad thing for the duke 
that he meets none but inferiors, it cannot harm 
the farmer much that he never has the chance. 
At any rate, there was no thought of incivility 
in my friend Hobbinol's gibe at my kids, only 
a kind of jolly superiority. But I did not like 
to be taken for a city gent^ so I told him I was 
born and bred in the country as well as he. He 
laughed again, and said, " Wal, anyhow, I 've 
the advantage of ye, for you never see a sheep 
shore, and I 've be'n to the Opery and shore 
sheep myself into the bargain." He told me that 
there were two hundred sheep in the town, and 
that his father could remember when there were 
four times as many. The sea laps and mumbles 
the soft roots of the hills, and licks away an 
acre or two of good pasturage every season. 
The father, an old man of eighty, stood looking 



ITALY 221 

on, pleased with his son's wit, and brown as if 
the Passawampscot fogs were walnut-juice. 

We dined at a little tavern, with a gilded 
ball hung out for sign, — a waif, I fancy, from 
some shipwreck. The landlady was a brisk, 
amusing little body, who soon informed us that 
her husband was own cousin to a Senator of 
the United States. A very elaborate sampler in 
the parlor, in which an obelisk was wept over 
by a somewhat costly willow in silver thread, 
recorded the virtues of the Senator's maternal 
grandfather and grandmother. After dinner, as 
we sat smoking our pipes on the piazza, our 
good hostess brought her little daughter, and 
made her repeat verses utterly unintelligible, 
but conjecturally moral, and certainly depress- 
ing. Once set a-going, she ran down like an 
alarm-clock. We awaited her subsidence as that 
of a shower or other inevitable natural pheno- 
menon. More refreshing was the talk of a tall 
returned Californian, who told us, among other 
things, that " he should n't mind Panahmy's 
bein' sunk, oilers providin' there warn't none 
of our folks onto it when it went down ! " 

Our landlady's exhibition of her daughter 
puts me in mind of something similar, yet 
oddly different, which happened to Storg and 
me at Palestrina. We jointly praised the beauty 
of our stout locandiera s little girl. " Ah, she is 
nothing to her eldest sister just married," said 



222 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

the mother. " If you could see her ! She is 
bella, bella^ bella ! " We thought no more of 
it ; but after dinner, the good creature, with no 
warning but a tap at the door and a humble con 
permesso, brought her in all her bravery, and 
showed her off to us as simply and naturally 
as if she had been a picture. The girl, who 
was both beautiful and modest, bore it with the 
dignified aplomb of a statue. She knew we ad- 
mired her, and Hked it, but with the indifference 
of a rose. There is something very charming, 
I think, in this wholly unsophisticated con- 
sciousness, with no alloy of vanity or coquetry. 



IV 

A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 

Byron hit the white, which he often shot 
very wide of in his Italian Guide-Book, when 
he called Rome " my country." But it is a feel- 
ing which comes to one slowly, and is absorbed 
into one's system during a long residence. Per- 
haps one does not feel it till one has gone away, 
as things always seem fairer when we look back 
at them, and it is out of that inaccessible tower 
of the past that Longing leans and beckons. 
However it be. Fancy gets a rude shock at en- 
tering Rome, which it takes her a great while 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 223 

to get over. She has gradually made herself be- 
lieve that she is approaching a city of the dead, 
and has seen nothing on the road from Civita 
Vecchia to disturb that theory. Milestones, with 
" Via Aurelia " carved upon them, have con- 
firmed it. It is eighteen hundred years ago with 
her, and on the dial of time the shadow has not 
yet trembled over the line that marks the be- 
ginning of the first century. She arrives at the 
gate, and a dirty, blue man, with a cocked hat 
and a white sword-belt, asks for her passport. 
Then another man, as like the first as one spoon 
is like its fellow, and having, like him, the look 
of being run in a mould, tells her that she must 
go to the custom-house. It is as if a ghost, who 
had scarcely recovered from the jar of hearing 
Charon say," I '11 trouble you for your obolus, 
if you please," should have his portmanteau 
seized by the Stygian tide-waiters to be searched. 
Is there anything, then, contraband of death ? 
asks poor Fancy of herself. 

But it is the misfortune (or the safeguard) 
of the English mind that Fancy is always an 
outlaw, liable to be laid by the heels wherever 
Constable Common Sense can catch her. She 
submits quietly as the postilion cries, " Tee-ip ! " 
cracks his whip, and the rattle over the pave- 
ment begins, struggles a moment when the pil- 
lars of the colonnade stalk ghostly by in the 
moonlight, and finally gives up all for lost when 



224 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

she sees Bernini's angels polking on their ped- 
estals along the sides of the Ponte Sant' Angelo 
with the emblems of the Passion in their arms. 

You are in Rome, of course ; the sbirro said 
so, the doganiere bowed it, and the postilion swore 
it ; but it is a Rome of modern houses, muddy 
streets, dingy caffes, cigar-smokers, and French 
soldiers, the manifest junior of Florence. And 
yet full of anachronisms, for in a Httle while you 
pass the column of Antoninus, find the Dogana 
in an ancient temple whose furrowed pillars show 
through the recent plaster, and feel as if you saw 
the statue of Minerva in a Paris bonnet. You 
are driven to a hotel where all the barbarian lan- 
guages are spoken in one wild conglomerate by 
the Commissionnairej have your dinner wholly in 
French, and wake the next morning dreaming 
of the Tenth Legion, to see a regiment of Chas- 
seurs de Vincennes trotting by. 

For a few days one undergoes a tremendous 
recoil. Other places have a distinct meaning. 
London isthevisible throneof King Stock ; Ver- 
sailles is the apotheosis of one of Louis XIV. 's 
cast periwigs ; Florence and Pisa are cities of the 
Middle Ages ; but Rome seems to be a parody 
upon itself The ticket that admits you to 
see the starting of the horses at carnival has 
S. P. Q. R. at the top of it, and you give the cus- 
tode a paul for showing you the wolf that suckled 
Romulus and Remus. The Senatus seems to be 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 225 

a score or so of elderly gentlemen In scarlet, and 
the Populusque Romanus a swarm of nasty friars. 

But there is something more than mere earth 
in the spot where great deeds have been done. 
The surveyor cannot give the true dimensions 
of Marathon or Lexington, for they are not re- 
ducible to square acres. Dead glory and great- 
ness leave ghosts behind them, and departed 
empire has a metempsychosis, if nothing else 
has. Its spirit haunts the grave, and waits, and 
waits till at last it finds a body to its mind, slips 
into it, and historians moralize on the fluctuation 
of human affairs. By and by, perhaps, enough 
observations will have been recorded to assure 
us that these recurrences are firmamental, and 
historionomers will have measured accurately 
the sidereal years of races. When that is once 
done, events will move with the quiet of an or- 
rery, and nations will consent to their peridyna- 
mis and apodynamis with planetary composure. 

Be this as it may, you become gradually aware 
of the presence of this imperial ghost among the 
Roman ruins. You receive hints and startles of 
it through the senses first, as the horse always 
shies at the apparition before the rider can see 
it. Then, little by little, you become assured 
of it, and seem to hear the brush of its mantle 
through some hall of Caracalla's baths, or one 
of those other solitudes of Rome. And those 
solitudes are without a parallel ; for it is not the 



226 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

mere absence of man, but the sense of his de- 
parture, that makes a profound loneliness. Mus- 
ing upon them,you cannot but feel theshadowof 
that disembodied empire, and, remembering how 
the foundations of the Capitol were laid where 
a human head was turned up, you are impelled 
to prophesy that the Idea of Rome will incar- 
nate itself again as soon as an Italian brain is 
found large enough to hold it, and to give unity 
to those discordant members. 

But, though I intend to observe no regular 
pattern in my Roman mosaic, which will re- 
semble more what one finds in his pockets after 
a walk, — a pagan cube or two from the palaces 
of the Caesars, a few Byzantine bits, given with 
many shrugs of secrecy by a lay-brother at San 
Paolo fuori le mura^ and a few more (quite as 
ancient) from the manufactory at the Vatican, — 
it seems natural to begin what one has to say 
of Rome with something about St. Peter's ; for 
the saint sits at the gate here as well as in Para- 
dise. 

It is very common for people to say that they 
are disappointed in the first sight of St. Peter's ; 
and one hears much the same about Niagara. 
I cannot help thinking that the fault is in them- 
selves ; and that if the church and the cataract 
were in the habit of giving away their thoughts 
with that rash generosity which characterizes 
tourists, they might perhaps say of their visitors, 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 227 

" Well, \^ you are those Men of whom we have 
heard so much, we are a little disappointed, to 
tell the truth ! " The refined tourist expects 
somewhat too much when he takes it for granted 
that St. Peter's will at once decorate him with 
the order of imagination, just as Victoria knights 
an alderman when he presents an address. Or 
perhaps he has been getting up a httle architec- 
ture on the road from Florence, and is discom- 
fited because he does not know whether he ought 
to be pleased or not, which is very much as if 
he should wait to be told whether it was fresh 
water or salt which makes the exhaustless grace 
of Niagara's emerald curve, before he benignly 
consented to approve. It would be wiser, per- 
haps, for him to consider whether, if Michael 
Angelo had had the building of him^ his own 
personal style would not have been more im- 
pressive. 

It is not to be doubted that minds are of as 
many different orders as cathedrals, and that 
the Gothic imagination is vexed and discom- 
moded in the vain endeavor to flatten its pin- 
nacles, and fit itself into the round Roman 
arches. But if it be impossible for a man to like 
everything, it is quite possible for him to avoid 
being driven mad by what does not please him ; 
nay, it is the imperative duty of a wise man to 
find out what that secret is which makes a thing 
pleasing to another. In approaching St. Peter's, 



228 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

one must take his Protestant shoes off his feet, 
and leave them behind him, in the Piazza 
Rusticucci. Otherwise the great Basilica, with 
those outstretching colonnades of Bramante, 
will seem to be a bloated spider lying in wait 
for him, the poor heretic fly. As he lifts the 
heavy leathern flapper over the door, and is 
discharged into the interior by its impetuous 
recoil, let him disburthen his mind altogether 
of stone and mortar, and think only that he is 
standing before the throne of a dynasty which, 
even in its decay, is the most powerful the 
world ever saw. Mason-work is all very well 
in itself, but it has nothing to do with the affair 
at present in hand. 

Suppose that a man in pouring down a glass 
of claret could drink the South of France, that 
he could so disintegrate the wine by the force 
of imagination as to taste in it all the clustered 
beauty and bloom of the grape, all the dance 
and song and sunburnt jollity of the vintage. 
Or suppose that in eating bread he could tran- 
substantiate it with the tender blade of spring, 
the gleam-flitted corn-ocean of summer, the 
royal autumn, with its golden beard, and the 
merry funerals of harvest. This is what the 
great poets do for us, we cannot tell how, with 
their fatally chosen words, crowding the happy 
veins of language again with all the life and 
meaning and music that had been dribbling 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 229 

away from them since Adam. And this is what 
the Roman Church does for religion, feeding 
the soul not with the essential religious senti- 
ment, not with a drop or two of the tincture 
of worship, but making us feel one by one 
all those original elements of which worship 
is composed ; not bringing the end to us, but 
making us pass over and feel beneath our feet 
all the golden rounds of the ladder by which 
the climbing generations have reached that end; 
not handing us drily a dead and extinguished 
Q. E. D., but letting it rather declare itself by 
the glory with which it interfuses the incense- 
clouds of wonder and aspiration and beauty in 
which it is veiled. The secret of her power is 
typified in the mystery of the Real Presence. 
She is the only Church that has been loyal to 
the heart and soul of man, that has clung to 
her faith in the imagination, and that would not 
give over her symbols and images and sacred 
vessels to the perilous keeping of the iconoclast 
Understanding. She has never lost sight of the 
truth, that the product human nature is com- 
posed of the sum of flesh and spirit, and has ac- 
cordingly regarded both this world and the next 
as the constituents of that other world which 
we possess by faith. She knows that poor 
Panza, the body, has his kitchen longings and 
visions, as well as Quixote, the soul, his ethe- 
real, and has wit enough to supply him with 



230 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

the visible, tangible raw material of imagination. 
She is the only poet among the churches, and, 
while Protestantism is unrolling a pocket sur- 
veyor's-plan, takes her votary to the pinnacle 
of her temple, and shows him meadow, upland, 
and tillage, cloudy heaps of forest clasped with 
the river's jewelled arm, hillsides white with the 
perpetual snow of flocks, and, beyond all, the 
interminable heave of the unknown ocean. 
Her empire may be traced upon the map by 
the boundaries of races ; the understanding is 
her great foe ; and it is the people whose vo- 
cabulary was incomplete till they had invented 
the archword Humbug that defies her. With 
that leaden bullet John Bull can bring down 
Sentiment when she flies her highest. And the 
more the pity for John Bull. One of these days 
some one whose eyes are sharp enough will 
read in the Times a standing advertisement, 
" Lost, strayed, or stolen from the farm-yard of 
the subscriber the valuable horse Pegasus. 
Probably has on him part of a new plough- 
harness, as that is also missing. A suitable re- 
ward, etc. J. Bull." 

Protestantism reverses the poetical process I 
have spoken of above, and gives not even the 
bread of life, but instead of it the alcohol, or 
distilled intellectual result. This was very well 
so long as Protestantism continued to protest ; 
for enthusiasm sublimates the understanding 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 231 

into imagination. But now that she also has 
become an estabhshment, she begins to perceive 
that she made a blunder in trusting herself to 
the intellect alone. She is beginning to feel her 
way back again, as one notices in Puseyism, 
and other such hints. One is put upon reflec- 
tion when one sees burly Englishmen, who dine 
on beef and porter every day, marching proudly 
through St. Peter's on Palm Sunday, with those 
frightfully artificial palm-branches in their hands. 
Romanism wisely provides for the childish in 
men. 

Therefore I say again, that one must lay 
aside his Protestantism in order to have a true 
feeling of St. Peter's. Here in Rome is the 
laboratory of that mysterious enchantress, who 
has known so well how to adapt herself to all 
the wants, or, if you will, the weaknesses of 
human nature, making the retirement of the 
convent-cell a merit to the solitary, the scourge 
or the fast a piety to the ascetic, the enjoyment 
of pomp and music and incense a religious act 
in the sensual, and furnishing for the very soul 
itself a confidante in that ear of the dumb con- 
fessional, where it may securely disburthen 
itself of its sins and sorrows. And the dome of 
St. Peter's is the magic circle within which she 
works her most potent incantations. I confess 
that I could not enter it alone without a kind 
of awe. 



232 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

But, setting entirely aside the effect of this 
church upon the imagination, it is wonderful, 
if one consider it only materially. Michael 
Angelo created a new world in which every- 
thing was colossal, and it might seem that he 
built this as a fit temple for those gigantic 
figures with which he peopled it to worship 
in. Here his Moses should be high-priest, the 
service should be chanted by his prophets 
and sibyls, and those great pagans should be 
brought hither from San Lorenzo in Florence, 
to receive baptism. 

However unsatisfactory in other matters, sta- 
tistics are of service here. I have seen a refined 
tourist who entered, Murray in hand, sternly 
resolved to have St. Peter's look small, brought 
to terms at once by being told that the canopy 
over the high altar (looking very like a four- 
post bedstead) was ninety-eight feet high. If 
he still obstinates himself, he is finished by 
being made to measure one of the marble ^a///, 
which look like rather stoutish babies, and are 
found to be six feet, every sculptor's son of 
them. This ceremony is the more interesting, 
as it enables him to satisfy the guide of his pro- 
ficiency in the Italian tongue by calling them 
-putty at every convenient opportunity. Other- 
wise both he and his assistant terrify each other 
into mutual unintelligibility with that lingua 
franca of the English-speaking traveller, which 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 233 

is supposed to bear some remote affinity to the 
French language, of which both parties are as 
ignorant as an American Ambassador. 

Murray gives all these little statistical nudges 
to the Anglo-Saxon imagination ; but he knows 
that its finest nerves are in the pocket, and ac- 
cordingly ends by telling you how much the 
church cost. I forget how much it is ; but it 
cannot be more, I fancy, than the English na- 
tional debt multiplied into itself three hundred 
and sixty-five times. If the pilgrim, honestly 
anxious for a sensation, will work out this little 
sum, he will be sure to receive all that enlarge- 
ment of the imaginative faculty which arithme- 
tic can give him. Perhaps the most dilating 
fact, after all, is that this architectural world has 
also a separate atmosphere, distinct from that 
of Rome by some ten degrees, and unvarying 
through the year. 

I think that, on the whole, Jonathan gets 
ready to be pleased with St. Peter's sooner than 
Bull. Accustomed to our lath and plaster ex- 
pedients for churches, the portable sentry-boxes 
of Zion, mere solidity and permanence are plea- 
surable in themselves ; and if he get grandeur 
also, he has Gospel measure. Besides, it is easy 
for Jonathan to travel. He is one drop of a 
fluid mass, who knows where his home is to- 
day, but can make no guess of where it may be 
to-morrow. Even in a form of government he 



234 LEAVES FROiM MY JOURNAL 

only takes lodgings for the night, and is ready 
to pay his bill and be off in the morning. He 
should take his motto from Bishop Golias's 
" Mihi est fropositum in taberna mori^' though 
not in the sufistic sense of that misunderstood 
Churchman. But Bull can seldom be said to 
travel at all, since the first step of a true travel- 
leris out of himself. He plays cricket and hunts 
foxes on the Campagna, makes entries in his 
betting-book while the Pope is giving his bene- 
diction, and points out Lord Calico to you 
awfully during the Sistine Miserere. If he let 
his beard grow, it always has a startled air, as 
if it suddenly remembered its treason to Shef- 
field, and only makes him look more English 
than ever. A masquerade is impossible to him, 
and his fancy balls are the solemnest facts in 
the world. Accordingly, he enters St. Peter's 
with the dome of St. Paul's drawn tight over 
his eyes, like a criminal's cap, and ready for 
instant execution rather than confess that the 
English Wren had not a stronger wing than 
the Italian Angel. I like this in Bull, and it 
renders him the pleasantest of travelling-com- 
panions ; for he makes you take England along 
with you, and thus you have two countries at 
once. And one must not forget in an Italian 
inn that it is to Bull he owes the clean napkins 
and sheets, and the privilege of his morning 
bath. Nor should Bull himself fail to remem- 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 235 

ber that he ate with his fingers till the Italian 
gave him a fork. 

Browning has given the best picture of St. 
Peter's on a festival-day, sketching it with a few 
verses in his large style. And doubtless it is the 
scene of the grandest spectacles which the world 
can see in these latter days. Those Easter 
pomps, where the antique world marches vis- 
ibly before you in gilded mail and crimson 
doublet, refresh the eyes, and are good so long 
as they continue to be merely spectacle. But 
if one think for a moment of the servant of the 
servants of the Lord in cloth of gold, borne on 
men's shoulders, or of the children receiving 
the blessing of their Holy Father, with a regi- 
ment of French soldiers to protect the father 
from the children, it becomes a little sad. If 
one would feel the full meaning of those cere- 
monials, however, let him consider the coinci- 
dences between the Romish and the Buddhist 
forms of worship, and remembering that the 
Pope is the direct heir, through the Pontifex 
Maximus, of rites that were ancient when the 
Etruscans were modern, he will look with a 
feeling deeper than curiosity upon forms which 
record the earliest conquests of the Invisible, 
the first triumphs of mind over muscle. 

To me the noon silence and solitude of St. 
Peter's were most impressive, when the sunlight, 
made visible by the mist of the ever-burning 



236 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

lamps in which it was entangled, hovered under 
the dome like the holy dove goldenly descend- 
ing. Very grand also is the twilight, when all 
outlines melt into mysterious vastness, and the 
arches expand and lose themselves in the deep- 
ening shadow. Then, standing in the desert 
transept, you hear the far-off vespers swell and 
die like low breathings of the sea on some con- 
jectured shore. 

As the sky is supposed to scatter its golden 
star-pollen once every year in meteoric showers, 
so the dome of St. Peter's has its annual efflo- 
rescence of fire. This illumination is the great 
show of Papal Rome. Just after sunset, I stood 
upon the Trinita dei Monti and saw the little 
drops of pale light creeping downward from the 
cross and trickling over the dome. Then, as 
the sky darkened behind, it seemed as if the 
setting sun had lodged upon the horizon and 
there burned out, the fire still clinging to his 
massy ribs. And when the change from the 
silver to the golden illumination came, it was 
as if the breeze had fanned the embers into 
flame again. 

Bitten with the Anglo-Saxon gadfly that 
drives us all to disenchant artifice, and see the 
springs that fix it on, I walked down to get a 
nearer look. My next glimpse was from the 
bridge of Sant' Angelo ; but there was no time 
nor space for pause. Foot-passengers crowding 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 237 

hither and thither, as they heard the shout of 
Avanti ! from the mile of coachmen behind, 
dragoon-horses curtsying backward just where 
there were most women and children to be 
flattened, and the dome drawing all eyes and 
thoughts the wrong way, made a hubbub to be 
got out of at any desperate hazard. Besides, 
one could not help feeling nervously hurried ; 
for it seemed quite plain to everybody that this 
starry apparition must be as momentary as it 
was wonderful, and that we should find it van- 
ished when we reached the piazza. But sud- 
denly you stand in front of it, and see the soft 
travertine of the front suffused with a tremu- 
lous, glooming glow, a mildened glory, as if the 
building breathed, and so transmuted its shadow 
into soft pulses of light. 

After wondering long enough, I went back 
to the Pincio, and watched it for an hour longer. 
But I did not wish to see it go out. It seemed 
better to go home and leave it still trembling, 
so that I could fancy a kind of permanence in 
it, and half believe I should find it there again 
some lucky evening. Before leaving it alto- 
gether, I went away to cool my eyes with dark- 
ness, and came back several times ; and every 
time it was a new miracle, the more so that it 
was a human piece of faery-work. Beautiful 
as fire is in itself, I suspect that part of the 
pleasure is metaphysical, and that the sense of 



238 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

playing with an element which can be so ter- 
rible adds to the zest of the spectacle. And then 
fire is not the least degraded by it, because it is 
not utilized. If beauty were in use, the factory 
would add a grace to the river, and we should 
turn from the fire-writing on the wall of heaven 
to look at a message printed by the magnetic 
telegraph. There may be a beauty in the use 
itself; but utilization is always downward, and 
it is this feeling that makes Schiller's Pegasus 
in yoke so universally pleasing. So long as the 
curse of work clings to man, he will see beauty 
only in play. The capital of the most frugal 
commonwealth in the world burns up five thou- 
sand dollars a year in gunpowder, and nobody 
murmurs. Provident Judas wished to utilize 
the ointment, but the Teacher would rather that 
it should be wasted in poem. 

The best lesson in aesthetics I ever got (and, 
like most good lessons, it fell from the lips of 
no regular professor) was from an Irishman on 
the day the Nymph Cochituate was formally 
introduced to the people of Boston. I made 
one with other rustics in the streets, admiring 
the dignitaries in coaches with as much Chris- 
tian charity as is consistent with an elbow in the 
pit of one's stomach and a heel on that toe 
which is your only inheritance from two excel- 
lent grandfathers. Among other allegorical phe- 
nomena, there came along what I should have 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 239 

called a hay-cart, if I had not known it was a 
triumphal car, filled with that fairest variety of 
mortal grass which with us is apt to spindle 
so soon into a somewhat sapless womanhood. 
Thirty-odd young maidens in white gowns, with 
blue sashes and pink wreaths of French crape, 
represented the United States. (How shall we 
limit our number, by the way, if ever Utah be 
admitted ?) The ship, the printing-press, even 
the wondrous train of express-wagons, and other 
solid bits of civic fantasy, had left my Hiber- 
nian neighbor unmoved. But this brought him 
down. Turning to me, as the most appreciative 
public for the moment, with face of as much 
delight as if his head had been broken, he cried, 
" Now this is raly beautiful ! Tothally regyard- 
less uv expinse ! " Methought my shirt-sleeved 
lecturer on the Beautiful had hit at least one 
nail full on the head. Voltaire but epigramma- 
tized the same thought when he said, Le superflu, 
chose tres-necessaire. 

As for the ceremonies of the Church, one 
need not waste time in seeing many of them. 
There is a dreary sameness in them, and one 
can take an hour here and an hour there, as it 
pleases him, just as sure of finding the same 
pattern as he would be in the first or last yard 
of a roll of printed cotton. For myself, I do 
not like to go and look with mere curiosity at 



240 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

what is sacred and solemn to others. To how 
many these Roman shows are sacred, I cannot 
guess ; but certainly the Romans do not value 
them much. I walked out to the grotto of Egeria 
on Easter Sunday, that I might not be tempted 
down to St. Peter's to see the mockery of Pio 
Nono's benediction. It is certainly Christian, 
for he blesses them that curse him, and does all 
the good which the waving of his fingers can 
do to people who would use him despitefully 
if they had the chance. I told an Italian servant 
she might have the day ; but she said she did 
not care for it. 

"But," urged I, " will you not go to receive 
the blessing of the Holy Father?" 

" No, sir." 

"Do you not wish it ? " 

" Not in the least : his blessing would do me 
no good. If I get the blessing of Heaven, it 
will serve my turn." 

There were three families of foreigners in our 
house, and I believe none of the Italian servants 
went to St. Peter's that day. Yet they com- 
monly speak kindly of Pius. I have heard the 
same phrase from several Italians of the work- 
ing-class. " He is a good man," they said, " but 
ill led." 

What one sees in the streets of Rome is worth 
more than what one sees in the churches. The 
churches themselves are generally ugly. St. 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 241 

Peter's has crushed all the life out of architec- 
tural genius, and all the modern churches look 
as if they were swelling themselves in imitation 
of the great Basilica. There is a clumsy mag- 
nificence about them, and their heaviness op- 
presses. Their marble incrustations look like a 
kind of architectural elephantiasis, and the parts 
are puffy with a dropsical want of proportion. 
There is none of the spring and soar which one 
may see even in the Lombard churches, and a 
Roman column standing near one of them, slim 
and gentlemanlike, satirizes silently their taw- 
dry parvenu'ism. Attempts at mere bigness are 
ridiculous in a city where the Colosseum still 
yawns in crater-like ruin, and where Michael 
Angelo made a noble church out of a single 
room in Diocletian's baths. 

Shall I confess it ? Michael Angelo seems to 
me, in his angry reaction against sentimental 
beauty, to have mistaken bulk and brawn for 
the antithesis of feebleness. He is the apostle 
of the exaggerated, the Victor Hugo of paint- 
ing and sculpture. I have a feeling that rivalry 
was a more powerful motive with him than love 
of art, that he had the conscious intention to be 
original, which seldom leads to anything better 
than being extravagant. The show of muscle 
proves strength, not power ; and force for mere 
force's sake in art makes one think of Milo 
caught in his own log. This is my second 



24-2 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

thought, and strikes me as perhaps somewhat 
niggardly toward one in whom you cannot help 
feeling there was so vast a possibility. And then 
his Eve, his David, his Sibyls, his Prophets, his 
Sonnets ! Well, I take it all back, and come 
round to St. Peter's again just to hint that I 
doubt about domes. In Rome they are so much 
the fashion that I felt as if they were the goitre 
of architecture. Generally they look heavy. 
Those on St. Mark's in Venice are the only 
light ones I ever saw, and they look almost airy, 
Hke tents puffed out with wind. I suppose one 
must be satisfied with the interior effect, which 
is certainly noble in St. Peter's. But for im- 
pressiveness both within and without there is 
nothing like a Gothic cathedral for me, nothing 
that crowns a city so nobly, or makes such an 
island of twilight silence in the midst of its noon- 
day clamors. 

Now as to what one sees in the streets, the 
beggars are certainly the first things that draw 
the eye. Beggary is an institution here. The 
Church has sanctified it by the establishment of 
mendicant orders, and indeed it is the natural 
result of a social system where the non-produc- 
ing class makes not only the laws, but the ideas. 
The beggars of Rome go far toward proving the 
diversity of origin in mankind, for on them 
surely the curse of Adam never fell. It is easier 
to fancy that Adam Vaurien^ the first tenant of 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 243 

the Fool's Paradise, after sucking his thumbs 
for a thousand years, took to wife Eve Faniente^ 
and became the progenitor of this race, to whom 
also he left a calendar in which three hundred 
and sixty-five days in the year were made feasts, 
sacred from all secular labor. Accordingly, they 
not merely do nothing, but they do it assidu- 
ously and almost with religious fervor. I have 
seen ancient members of this sect as constant at 
their accustomed street-corner as the bit of bro- 
ken column on which they sat ; and when a 
man does this in rainy weather, as rainy weather 
is in Rome, he has the spirit of a fanatic and 
martyr. 

It is not that the Italians are a lazy people. 
On the contrary, I am satisfied that they are in- 
dustrious so far as they are allowed to be. But, as 
I said before, when a Roman does nothing, he 
does it in the high Roman fashion. A friend of 
mine was having one of his rooms arranged for 
a private theatre, and sent for a person who was 
said to be an expert in the business to do it for 
him. After a day's trial, he was satisfied that 
his lieutenant was rather a hindrance than a 
help, and resolved to dismiss him. 

" What is your charge for your day's ser- 
vices r 

" Two scudi, sir." 

" Two scudi ! Five pauls would be too 
much. You have done nothing but stand with 



244 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

your hands in your pockets and get in the way 
of other people." 

*^ Lordship is perfectly right ; but that is my 
way of working." 

It is impossible for a stranger to say who may 
not beg in Rome. It seems to be a sudden mad- 
ness that may seize any one at the sight of a 
foreigner. You see a very respectable-looking 
person in the street, and it is odds but, as you 
pass him, his hat comes off, his whole figure 
suddenly dilapidates itself, assuming a tremble 
of professional weakness, and you hear the ever- 
lasting qualche cos a per carita ! You are in doubt 
whether to drop a bajoccho into the next car- 
dinal's hat which offers you its sacred cavity in 
answer to your salute. You begin to believe 
that the hat was invented for the sole purpose 
of ingulfing coppers, and that its highest type 
is the great "Triregno itself, into which the pence 
of Peter rattle. 

But you soon learn to distinguish the estab- 
lished beggars, and to the three professions 
elsewhere considered liberal you add a fourth 
for this latitude, — mendicancy. Its professors 
look upon themselves as a kind of guild which 
ought to be protected by the government. I 
fell into talk with a woman who begged of me 
in the Colosseum. Among other things she 
complained that the government did not at all 
consider the poor. 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 245 

" Where is the government that does ? " I 
said. 

" Eh gia ! Excellency ; but this government 
lets beggars from the country come into Rome, 
which is a great injury to the trade of us born 
Romans. There is Beppo, for example ; he is 
a man of property in his own town, and has a 
dinner of three courses every day. He has 
portioned two daughters with three thousand 
scudi each, and left Rome during the time of 
the Republic with the rest of the nobihty." 

At first, one is shocked and pained at the 
exhibition of deformities in the street. But by 
and by he comes to look upon them with little 
more emotion than is excited by seeing the tools 
of any other trade. The melancholy of the beg- 
gars is purely a matter of business ; and they 
look upon their maims as Fortunatus purses, 
which will always give them money. A with- 
ered arm they present to you as a highwayman 
would his pistol ; a goitre is a life-annuity ; a 
St. Vitus dance is as good as an engagement 
as prima ballerina at the Apollo ; and to have 
no legs at all is to stand on the best footing with 
fortune. They are a merry race, on the whole, 
and quick-witted, like the rest of their country- 
men. I believe the regular fee for a beggar is a 
quattrinoj about a quarter of a cent; but they 
expect more of foreigners. A friend of mine 
once gave one of these tiny coins to an old 



246 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

woman ; she delicately expressed her resentment 
by exclaiming, " Thanks, signoria. God will re- 
ward even you ! " 

A begging friar came to me one day with a 
subscription for repairing his convent. " Ah, 
but I am a heretic," said L " Undoubtedly," 
with a shrug, implying a respectful acknow- 
ledgment of a foreigner's right to choose warm 
and dry lodgings in the other world as well as 
in this, " but your money is perfectly orthodox." 

Another favorite way of doing nothing is to 
excavate the Forum. I think the F anient es like 
this all the better, because it seems a kind of 
satire upon work, as the witches parody the 
Christian offices of devotion at their Sabbath. 
A score or so of old men in voluminous cloaks 
shift the earth from one side of a large pit to 
the other, in a manner so leisurely that it is pos- 
itive repose to look at them. The most bigoted 
anti-Fourierist might acknowledge this to be 
attractive industry. 

One conscript father trails a small barrow up 
to another, who stands leaning on a long spade. 
Arriving, he fumbles for his snuff-box, and 
offers it deliberately to his friend. Each takes 
an ample pinch, and both seat themselves to 
await the result. If one should sneeze, he 
receives the Felicita ! of the other ; and, after 
allowing the titillation to subside, he replies, 
Grazia I Then follows a little conversation, and 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 247 

then they prepare to load. But it occurs to the 
barrow-driver that this is a good opportunity 
to fill and light his pipe; and to do so conven- 
iently he needs his barrow to sit upon. He 
draws a few whifFs, and a little more conversa- 
tion takes place. The barrow is now ready ; but 
first the wielder of the spade will fill his pipe 
also. This done, more whiffs and more conver- 
sation. Then a spoonful of earth is thrown into 
the barrow, and it starts on its return. But 
midway it meets an empty barrow, and both stop 
to go through the snuff-box ceremonial once 
more, and to discuss whatever new thing has 
occurred in the excavation since their last en- 
counter. And so it goes on all day. 

As I see more of material antiquity, I begin 
to suspect that my interest in it is mostly facti- 
tious. The relations of races to the physical 
world (only to be studied fruitfully on the spot) 
do not excite in me an Interest at all proportion- 
ate to that I feel in their influence on the moral 
advance of mankind, which one may as easily 
trace in his own library as on the spot. The 
only useful remark I remember to have made 
here is, that, the situation of Rome being far 
less strong than that of any city of the Etruscan 
league, it must have been built where it is for 
purposes of commerce. It is the most defens- 
ible point near the mouth of the Tiber. It is 



248 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

only as rival trades-folk that Rome and Car- 
thage had any comprehensible cause of quarrel. 
It is only as a commercial people that we can 
understand the early tendency of the Romans 
towards democracy. As for antiquity, after read- 
ing history, one is haunted by a discomforting 
suspicion that the names so painfully deciphered 
in hieroglyphic or arrow-head inscriptions are 
only so many more Smiths and Browns mask- 
ing it in unknown tongues. Moreover, if we 
Yankees are twitted with not knowing the differ- 
ence between big and great^ may not those of 
us who have learned it turn round on many a 
monument over here with the same reproach ? 
I confess 1 am beginning to sympathize with a 
countryman of ours from Michigan, who asked 
our Minister to direct him to a specimen ruin 
and a specimen gallery, that he might see and 
be rid of them once for all. I saw three young 
Englishmen going through the Vatican by cata- 
logue and number, the other day, in a fashion 
which John Bull is apt to consider exclusively 
American. " Number '300 ! " says the one with 
catalogue and pencil ; " have you seen it ? " 
" Yes," answer his two comrades, and, checking 
it off, he goes on with Number 301. Having 
witnessed the unavailing agonies of many Anglo- 
Saxons from both sides of the Atlantic in their 
effort to have the correct sensation before many 
hideous examples of antique bad taste, my heart 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 249 

warmed toward my business-like British cousins, 
who were doing their aesthetics in this thrifty 
auctioneer fashion. Our cart-before-horse edu- 
cation, which makes us more familiar with the 
history and literature of Greeks and Romans 
than with those of our own ancestry (though 
there is nothing in ancient art to match Shakes- 
peare or a Gothic minster), makes us the gulls 
of what we call classical antiquity. Europe were 
worth visiting, if only to be rid of this one old 
man of the sea. In sculpture, to be sure, they 
have us on the hip. 

I am not ashamed to confess a singular sym- 
pathy with what are known as the Middle 
Ages. I cannot help thinking that few periods 
have left behind them such traces of inventive- 
ness and power. Nothing is more tiresome than 
the sameness of modern cities ; and it has often 
struck me that this must also have been true of 
those ancient ones in which Greek architecture 
or its derivatives prevailed, — true at least as 
respects public buildings. But mediaeval towns, 
especially in Italy, even when only fifty miles 
asunder, have an individuality of character as 
marked as that of trees. Nor is it merely this 
originality that attracts me, but likewise the 
sense that, however old, they are nearer to me 
in being modern and Christian. Far enough 
away in the past to be picturesque, they are still 
so near through sympathies of thought and 



250 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

belief as to be more companionable. I find it 
harder to bridge over the gulf of Paganism than 
of centuries. Apart from any difference in the 
men, I had a far deeper emotion when I stood 
on the Sasso di Dante than at Horace's Sabine 
farm or by the tomb of Virgil. The latter, in- 
deed, interested me chiefly by its association 
with comparatively modern legend ; and one of 
the buildings I am most glad to have seen in 
Rome is the Bear Inn, where Montaigne lodged 
on his arrival. 

I think it must have been for some such 
reason that I liked my Florentine better than 
my Roman walks, though I am vastly more 
contented with merely being in Rome. Flor- 
ence is more noisy ; indeed, I think it the 
noisiest town I was ever in. What with the 
continual jangling of its bells, the rattle of 
Austrian drums, and the street-cries, Ancora 
mi raccapriccia. The Italians are a vociferous 
people, and most so among them the Floren- 
tines. Walking through a back street one day, 
I saw an old woman higgling with a peripatetic 
dealer, who, at every interval afforded him by 
the remarks of his veteran antagonist, would 
tip his head on one side, and shout, with a 
kind of wondering enthusiasm, as if he could 
hardly trust the evidence of his own senses to 
such loveliness, O, che bellezza ! che belle-e- 
ezza ! The two had been contending as obsti- 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 251 

nately as the Greeks and Trojans over the body 
of Patroclus, and I was curious to know what 
was the object of so much desire on the one 
side and admiration on the other. It was a 
half dozen of weazeny baked pears, beggarly 
remnant of the day's traffic. Another time I 
stopped before a stall, debating whether to buy 
some fine-looking peaches. Before I had made 
up my mind, the vender, a stout fellow, with 
a voice like a prize-bull of Bashan, opened 
a mouth round and large as the muzzle of a 
blunderbuss, and let fly into my ear the fol- 
lowing pertinent observation : " Belle pesche I 
belle pe-e-esche ! " {crescendo). I stared at him 
in stunned bewilderment ; but, seeing that he 
had reloaded and was about to fire again, took 
to my heels, the exploded syllables rattling 
after me like so many buckshot. A single tur- 
nip is argument enough with them till mid- 
night ; nay, I have heard a ruffian yelling over 
a covered basket, which, I am convinced, was 
empty, and only carried as an excuse for his 
stupendous vocalism. It never struck me be- 
fore what a quiet people Americans are. 

Of the pleasant places within easy walk of 
Rome, I prefer the garden of the Villa Albani, 
as being most Italian. One does not go to 
Italy for examples of Price on the Picturesque. 
Compared with landscape-gardening, it is Ra- 
cine to Shakespeare, I grant ; but it has its own 



252 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

charm, nevertheless. I like the balustraded 
terraces, the sun-proof laurel walks, the vases 
and statues. It is only in such a climate that 
it does not seem inhuman to thrust a naked 
statue out of doors. Not to speak of their in- 
congruitv, how dreary do those white figures 
look at Fountains Abbey in that shrewd York- 
shire atmosphere I To put them there shows 
the same bad taste that led Prince Polonia, as 
Thackerav calls him, to build an artificial ruin 
within a mile of Rome. But I doubt if the 
Italian garden will bear transplantation. Far- 
ther north, or under a less constant sunshine, 
it is but half hardy at the best. Within the 
city, the garden of the French Academy is my 
favorite retreat, because little frequented ; and 
there is an arbor there in which I have read 
comfortably (sitting where the sun could reach 
me) in January. By the way, there is some- 
thing verv agreeable in the way these people 
have of making a kind of fireside of the sun- 
shine. With us it is either too hot or too cool, 
or we are too busy. But, on the other hand, 
they have no such thing as a chimney-corner. 

Of course I haunt the collections of art faith- 
fully ; but my favorite gallery, after all, is the 
street. There I always find something enter- 
taining, at least. The other day, on my way to 
the Colonna Palace, I passed the Fountain of 




''" '^&^0 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 253 

Trevi, from which the water is now shut off on 
account of repairs to the aqueduct. A scanty 
rill of soap-sudsy liquid still trickled from one 
of the conduits, and, seeing a crowd, I stopped 
to find out what nothing or other had gathered 
it. One charm of Rome is that nobody has 
anything in particular to do, or, if he has, can 
always stop doing it on the slightest pretext. 
I found that some eels had been discovered, 
and a very vivacious hunt was going on, the 
chief Nimrods being boys. I happened to be 
the first to see a huge eel wriggling from the 
mouth of a pipe, and pointed him out. Two 
lads at once rushed upon him. One essayed 
the capture with his naked hands ; the other, 
more provident, had armed himself with a rag 
of woollen cloth with which to maintain his grip 
more securely. Hardly had this latter arrested 
his slippery prize, when a ragged rascal, watch- 
ing his opportunity, snatched it away, and in- 
stantly secured it by thrusting the head into 
his mouth, and closing on it a set of teeth like 
an ivory vice. But alas for ill-got gain ! Rob 
Roy's 

♦* Good old plan. 
That he should take who has the power. 
And he should keep who can," 

did not serve here. There is scarce a square 
rood in Rome without one or more stately 



254 LEAVES FROM MY JOURNAL 

cocked hats in it, emblems of authority and 
poHce, I saw the flash of the snow-white cross- 
belts, gleaming through that dingy crowd like 
the panache of Henri Quatre at Ivry, I saw the 
mad plunge of the canvas-shielded head-piece, 
sacred and terrible as that of Gessler ; and 
while the greedy throng were dancing about 
the anguilliceps, each taking his chance twitch 
at the undulating object of all wishes, the cap- 
tor dodging his head hither and thither (vul- 
nerable, like Achilles, only in his 'eel, as a 
Cockney tourist would say), a pair of broad 
blue shoulders parted the assailants as a ship's 
bows part a wave, a pair of blue arms, termi- 
nating in gloves of Berlin thread, were stretched 
forth, not in benediction, one hand grasped 
the slippery Briseis by the waist, the other be- 
stowed a cuff on the jaw-bone of Achilles, 
which loosened (rather by its authority than its 
physical force) the hitherto refractory incisors, 
a snuffy bandanna was produced, the prisoner 
was deposited in this temporary watch-house, 
and the cocked hat sailed majestically away with 
the property thus sequestered for the benefit 
of the state. 

'♦ Gaudeant anguillae si mortuus sit homo ille. 
Qui, quasi morte reas, excruciabat eas ! " 

If you have got through that last sentence 
without stopping for breath, you are fit to begin 



A FEW BITS OF ROMAN MOSAIC 255 

on the Homer of Chapman, who, both as trans- 
lator and author, has the longest wind (espe- 
cially for a comparison), without being long- 
winded, of all writers I know anything of, not 
excepting Jeremy Taylor. 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

1869 

ONE of the most delightful books in my 
father's library was White's " Natural 
History of Selborne." For me it has 
rather gained in charm with years. I used to 
read it without knowing the secret of the plea- 
sure I found in it, but as I grow older I begin 
to detect some of the simple expedients of this 
natural magic. Open the book where you will, 
it takes you out of doors. In our broiling July 
weather one can walk out with this genially 
garrulous Fellow of Oriel and find refreshment 
instead of fatigue. You have no trouble in 
keeping abreast of him as he ambles along on 
his hobby-horse, now pointing to a pretty view, 
now stopping to watch the motions of a bird or 
an insect, or to bag a specimen for the Hon- 
ourable Daines Harrington or Mr. Pennant. 
In simplicity of taste and natural refinement he 
reminds one of Walton ; in tenderness toward 
what he would have called the brute creation, 
of Cowper. I do not know whether his descrip- 
tions of scenery are good or not, but they have 
made me familiar with his neighborhood. Since 



26o MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

I first read hinij I have walked over some of 
his favorite haunts, but I still see them through 
his eyes rather than by any recollection of actual 
and personal vision. The book has also the 
delightfulness of absolute leisure. Mr. White 
seems never to have had any harder work to 
do than to study the habits of his feathered 
fellow townsfolk, or to watch the ripening of 
his peaches on the wall. No doubt he looked 
after the souls of his parishioners with official 
and even friendly interest, but, I cannot help 
suspecting, with a less personal solicitude. For 
he seems to have lived before the Fall. His 
volumes are the journal of Adam in Paradise, 

" Annihilating all that 's made 
To a green thought in a green shade." 

It is positive rest only to look into that garden 
of his. It is vastly better than to 

♦* See great Diocletian walk 
In the Salonian garden' s noble shade ; ' ' 

for thither ambassadors intrude to bring with 
them the noises of Rome, while here the world 
has no entrance. No rumor of the revolt of 
the American Colonies appears to have reached 
him. " The natural term of an hog's life" has 
more interest for him than that of an empire. 
Burgoyne may surrender and welcome ; of what 
consequence is that compared with the fact that 
we can explain the odd tumbling of rooks in 
the air by their turning over " to scratch them- 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 261 

selves with one claw " ? All the couriers in 
Europe spurring rowel-deep make no stir in 
Mr. White's little Chartreuse ; but the arrival 
of the house-martin a day earlier or later than 
last year is a piece of news worth sending ex- 
press to all his correspondents. 

Another secret charm of this book is its in- 
advertent humor, so much the more delicious 
because unsuspected by the author. How 
pleasant is his innocent vanity in adding to the 
list of the British, and still more of the Sel- 
hornia.ny fauna ! I believe he would gladly have 
consented to be eaten by a tiger or a crocodile, 
if by that means the occasional presence within 
the parish limits of either of these anthropopha- 
gous brutes could have been established. He 
brags of no fine society, but is plainly a little 
elated by "having considerable acquaintance 
with a tame brown owl." Most of us have 
known our share of owls, but few can boast of 
intimacy with a feathered one. The great events 
of Mr. White's life, too, have that dispropor- 
tionate importance which is always humorous. 
To think of his hands having actually been 
thought worthy (as neither Willoughby's nor 
Ray's were) to hold a stilted plover, the Chara- 
drius himantopus, with no back toe, and therefore 
" liable, in speculation, to perpetual vacilla- 
tions " ! I wonder, by the way, if metaphysi- 
cians have no hind toes. In 1770 he makes 



262 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

the acquaintance in Sussex of " an old family 
tortoise," which had then been domesticated 
for thirty years. It is clear that he fell in love 
with it at first sight. We have no means of 
tracing the growth of his passion ; but in 1780 
we find him eloping with its object in a post- 
chaise. " The rattle and hurry of the journey 
so perfectly roused it that, when I turned it 
out in a border, it walked twice down to the 
bottom of my garden." It reads like a Court 
Journal : " Yesterday morning H. R. H. the 
Princess Alice took an airing of half an hour 
on the terrace of Windsor Castle." This tor- 
toise might have been a member of the Royal 
Society, if he could have condescended to so 
ignoble an ambition. It had but just been dis- 
covered that a surface inclined at a certain angle 
with the plane of the horizon took more of the 
sun's rays. The tortoise had always known 
this (though he unostentatiously made no pa- 
rade of it), and used accordingly to tilt himself 
up against the garden wall in the autumn. He 
seems to have been more of a philosopher than 
even Mr. White himself, caring for nothing 
but to get under a cabbage-leaf when it rained, 
or when the sun was too hot, and to bury him- 
self alive before frost, — a four-footed Diogenes, 
who carried his tub on his back. 

There are moods in which this kind of his- 
tory is infinitely refreshing. These creatures 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 263 

whom we affect to look down upon as the 
drudges of instinct are members of a common- 
wealth whose constitution rests on immovable 
bases. Never any need of reconstruction there ! 
'They never dream of settling it by vote that 
eight hours are equal to ten, or that one creature 
is as clever as another and no more. They do 
not use their poor wits in regulating God's 
clocks, nor think they cannot go astray so long 
as they carry their guide-board about with 
them, — a delusion we often practise upon our- 
selves with our high and mighty reason, that 
admirable finger-post which points every way, 
as we choose to turn it, and always right. It is 
good for us now and then to converse with a 
world like Mr. White's, where Man is the least 
important of animals. But one who, like me, 
has always lived in the country and always on 
the same spot, is drawn to his book by other 
occult sympathies. Do we not share his indig- 
nation at that stupid Martin who had graduated 
his thermometer no lower than 4" above zero 
of Fahrenheit, so that in the coldest weather 
ever known the mercury basely absconded into 
the bulb, and left us to see the victory slip 
through our fingers just as they were closing 
upon it ? No man, I suspect, ever lived long in 
the country without being bitten by these me- 
teorological ambitions. He likes to be hotter 
and colder, to have been more deeply snowed 



264 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

up, to have more trees, and larger, blown down 
than his neighbors. With us descendants of the 
Puritans especially, these weather competitions 
supply the abnegated excitement of the race- 
course. Men learn to value thermometers of 
the true imaginative temperament, capable of 
prodigious elations and corresponding dejec- 
tions. The other day (5th July) I marked 98° 
in the shade, my high-water mark, higher by 
one degree than I had ever seen it before! 1 
happened to meet a neighbor ; as we mopped 
our brows at each other, he told me that he had 
just cleared 100°, and I went home a beaten 
man. I had not felt the heat before, save as a 
beautiful exaggeration of sunshine ; but now it 
oppressed me with the prosaic vulgarity of an 
oven. What had been poetic intensity became 
all at once rhetorical hyperbole. I might sus- 
pect his thermometer (as indeed I did, for we 
Harvard men are apt to think ill of any gradua- 
tion save our own) ; but it was a poor consola- 
tion. The fact remained that his herald Mer- 
cury, standing a-tiptoe, could look down on 
mine. I seem to glimpse something of this 
familiar weakness in Mr. White. He, too, has 
shared in these mercurial triumphs and defeats. 
Nor do I doubt that he had a true country 
gentleman's interest in the weathercock ; that 
his first question on coming down of a morning 
was, like Barabas's, 

" Into what quarter peers my halcyon's bill ? " 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 265 

It is an innocent and healthful employment 
of the mind, distracting one from too contin- 
ual study of oneself, and leading one to dwell 
rather upon the indigestions of the elements than 
one's own. " Did the wind back round, or go 
about with the sun ? " is a rational question that 
bears not remotely on the making of hay and 
the prosperity of crops. I have little doubt that 
the regulated observation of the vane in many 
different places, and the interchange of results 
by telegraph, would put the weather, as it were, 
in our power, by betraying its ambushes before 
it is ready to give the assault.' At first sight, 
nothing seems more drolly trivial than the lives 
of those whose single achievement is to record 
the wind and the temperature three times a day. 
Yet such men are doubtless sent into the world 
for this special end, and perhaps there is no 
kind of accurate observation, whatever its ob- 
ject, that has not its final use and value for 
some one or other. It is even to be hoped that 
the speculations of our newspaper editors and 
their myriad correspondents upon the signs of 
the political atmosphere may also fill their ap- 
pointed place in a well-regulated universe, if it 
be only that of supplying so many more jack- 
o'-lanterns to the future historian. Nay, the 
observations on finance of an M. C. whose sole 
knowledge of the subject has been derived from 

* This was written before we had a Weather Bureau. 



266 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

a lifelong success in getting a living out of the 
public without paying any equivalent therefor, 
will perhaps be of interest hereafter to some 
explorer of our cloaca maxima^ whenever it is 
cleansed. 

For many years I have been in the habit of 
noting down some of the leading events of my 
embowered solitude, such as the coming of cer- 
tain birds and the like — a kind of memoires 
pour servir^ after the fashion of White, rather 
than properly digested natural history. I think 
it not impossible that a few simple stories of my 
winged acquaintances might be found enter- 
taining by persons of kindred taste. 

There is a common notion that animals are 
better meteorologists than men, and I have little 
doubt that in immediate weather-wisdom they 
have the advantage of our sophisticated senses 
(though I suspect a sailor or shepherd would 
be their match), but I have seen nothing that 
leads me to believe their minds capable of erect- 
ing the horoscope of a whole season, and letting 
us know beforehand whether the winter will be 
severe or the summer rainless. Their foresight 
is provincial or even parochial, 

" By nature knew he ech ascensioun 
Of equinoxial in thilke toun." 

I more than suspect that the Clerk of the 
Weather himself does not always know very 
long in advance whether he is to draw an order 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 267 

for hot or cold, dry or moist, and the musquash 
is scarce likely to be wiser. I have noted but 
two days' difference in the coming of the song- 
sparrow between a very early and a very back- 
ward spring. This very year I saw the linnets 
at work thatching, just before a snow-storm 
which covered the ground several inches deep 
for a number of days. They struck work and 
left us for a while, no doubt in search of food. 
Birds frequently perish from sudden changes in 
our whimsical spring weather of which they had 
no foreboding. More than thirty years ago, a 
cherry tree, then in full bloom, near my window, 
was covered with humming-birds benumbed by 
a fall of mingled rain and snow, which probably 
killed many of them. It should seem that their 
coming was dated by the height of the sun, 
which betrays them into unthrifty matrimony ; 

" So nature pricketh hem in their corages " ; 

but their going is another matter. The chim- 
ney-swallows leave us early, for example, appar- 
ently so soon as their latest fledglings are firm 
enough of wing to attempt the long rowing- 
match that is before them. On the other hand, 
the wild-geese probably do not leave the North 
till they are frozen out, for I have heard their 
bugles sounding southward so late as the middle 
of December. What may be called local migra- 
tions are doubtless dictated by the chances of 



268 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

food. I have once been visited by large flights 
of cross-bills ; and whenever the snow lies long 
and deep on the ground, a flock of cedar-birds 
comes in midwinter to eat the berries on my 
hawthorns. I have never been quite able to 
fathom the local, or rather geographical partiali- 
ties of birds. Never before this summer ( 1 870) 
have the king-birds, handsomest of flycatchers, 
built in my orchard ; though I always know 
where to find them within half a mile. The rose- 
breasted grosbeak has been a familiar bird in 
Brookline (three miles away), yet I never saw 
one here till last July, when I found a female 
busy among my raspberries and surprisingly 
bold. I hope she was prospecting with a view to 
settlement in our garden. She seemed, on the 
whole, to think well of my fruit, and I would 
gladly plant another bed if it would help to win 
over so delightful a neighbor. 

The return of the robin is commonly an- 
nounced by the newspapers, like that of eminent 
or notorious people to a watering-place, as the 
first authentic notification of spring. And such 
his appearance in the orchard and garden un- 
doubtedly is. But, in spite of his name of 
migratory thrush, he stays with us all winter, 
and I have seen him when the thermometer 
marked 15 degrees below zero of Fahrenheit, 
armed impregnably within, like Emerson's Tit- 
mouse, and as cheerful as he. The robin has a 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 269 

bad reputation among people who do not value 
themselves less for being fond of cherries. 
There is, I admit, a spice of vulgarity in him, 
and his song is rather of the Bloomfield sort, 
too largely ballasted with prose. His ethics are 
of the Poor Richard school, and the main chance 
which calls forth all his energy is altogether of 
the belly. He never has those fine intervals 
of lunacy into which his cousins, the catbird 
and the mavis, are apt to fall. But for a' that 
and twice as muckle 's a' that, I would not ex- 
change him for all the cherries that ever came 
out of Asia Minor. With whatever faults, he 
has not wholly forfeited that superiority which 
belongs to the children of nature. He has a 
finer taste in fruit than could be distilled from 
many successive committees of the Horticultural 
Society, and he eats with a relishing gulp not 
inferior to Dr. Johnson's. He feels and freely 
exercises his right of eminent domain. His is 
the earliest mess of green peas ; his all the mul- 
berries I had fancied mine. But if he get also 
the lion's share of the raspberries, he is a great 
planter, and sows those wild ones in the woods, 
that solace the pedestrian and give a momentary 
calm even to the jaded victims of the White 
Hills. He keeps a strict eye over one's fruit, 
and knows to a shade of purple when your 
grapes have cooked long enough in the sun. 
During the severe drought a few years ago, 



270 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

the robins wholly vanished from my garden. I 
neither saw nor heard one for three weeks. 
Meanwhile a small foreign grape-vine, rather 
shy of bearing, seemed to find the dusty air 
congenial, and, dreaming perhaps of its sweet 
Argos across the sea, decked itself with a score 
or so of fair bunches. I watched them from day 
to day till they should have secreted sugar 
enough from the sunbeams, and at last made 
up my mind that I would celebrate my vintage 
the next morning. But the robins too had some- 
how kept note of them. They must have sent 
out spies, as did the Jews into the promised 
land, before I was stirring. When I went with 
my basket, at least a dozen of these winged 
vintagers bustled out from among the leaves, 
and alighting on the nearest trees interchanged 
some shrill remarks about me of a derogatory 
nature. They had fairly sacked the vine. Not 
Wellington's veterans made cleaner work of a 
Spanish town ; not Federals or Confederates 
were ever more impartial in the confiscation of 
neutral chickens. I was keeping my grapes a 
secret to surprise the fair Fidele with, but the 
robins made them a profounder secret to her 
than I had meant. The tattered remnant of a 
single bunch was all my harvest-home. How 
paltry it looked at the bottom of my basket, — 
as if a humming-bird had laid her egg in an 
eagle's nest ! I could not help laughing ; and 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 271 

the robins seemed to join heartily in the merri- 
ment. There was a native grape-vine close by, 
blue with its less refined abundance, but my 
cunning thieves preferred the foreign flavor. 
Could I tax them with want of taste ? 

The robins are not good solo singers, but 
their chorus, as, like primitive fire-worshippers, 
they hail the return of light and warmth to the 
world, is unrivalled. There are a hundred sing- 
ing like one. They are noisy enough then, and 
sing, as poets should, with no afterthought. 
But when they come after cherries to the tree 
near my window, they muffle their voices, and 
their faint pip^ pip^ pop ! sounds far away at the 
bottom of the garden, where they know I shall 
not suspect them of robbing the great black- 
walnut of its bitter-rinded store." They are 
feathered Pecksniffs, to be sure, but then how 
brightly their breasts, that look rather shabby 
in the sunlight, shine in a rainy day against the 
dark green of the fringe-tree ! After they have 
pinched and shaken all the life out of an earth- 
worm, as Italian cooks pound all the spirit out 
of a steak, and then gulped him, they stand up 
in honest self-confidence, expand their red waist- 
coats with the virtuous air of a lobby member, 
and outface you with an eye that calmly chal- 

I The screech-owl, whose cry, despite his ill name, is one 
of the sweetest sounds in nature, softens his voice in the same 
way with the most beguiling mockery of distance. 



272 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

lenges inquiry. " Do / look like a bird that 
knows the flavor of raw vermin ? I throw my- 
self upon a jury of my peers. Ask any robin 
if he ever ate anything less ascetic than the fru- 
gal berry of the juniper, and he will answer that 
his vow forbids him." Can such an open bosom 
cover such depravity ? Alas, yes ! I have no 
doubt his breast was redder at that very mo- 
ment with the blood of my raspberries. On the 
whole, he is a doubtful friend in the garden. 
He makes his dessert of all kinds of berries, 
and is not averse from early pears. But when 
we remember how omnivorous he is, eating his 
own weight in an incredibly short time, and that 
Nature seems exhaustless in her invention of 
new insects hostile to vegetation, perhaps we 
may reckon that he does more good than harm. 
For my own part, I would rather have his 
cheerfulness and kind neighborhood than many 
berries. 

For his cousin, the catbird, I have a still 
warmer regard. Always a good singer, he some- 
times nearly equals the brown thrush, and has 
the merit of keeping up his music later in the 
evening than any bird of my familiar acquaint- 
ance. Ever since I can remember, a pair of 
them have built in a gigantic syringa, near our 
front door, and I have known the male to sing 
almost uninterruptedly during the evenings of 
early summer till twilight duskened into dark. 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 273 

They differ greatly in vocal talent, but all have 
a delightful way of crooning over, and, as it 
were, rehearsing their song in an undertone, 
which makes their nearness always unobtrusive. 
Though there is the most trustworthy witness 
to the im^itative propensity of this bird, I have 
only once, during an intimacy of more than 
forty years, heard him indulge it. In that case, 
the imitation was by no means so close as to 
deceive, but a free reproduction of the notes of 
some other birds, especially of the oriole, as a 
kind of variation in his own song. The catbird 
is as shy as the robin is vulgarly familiar. Only 
when his nest or his fledglings are approached 
does he become noisy and almost aggressive. I 
have known him to station his young in a thick 
cornel-bush on the edge of the raspberry-bed, 
after the fruit began to ripen, and feed them 
there for a week or more. In such cases he 
shows none of that conscious guilt which makes 
the robin contemptible. On the contrary, he 
will maintain his post in the thicket, and sharply 
scold the intruder who ventures to steal his 
berries. After all, his claim is only for tithes, 
while the robin will bag your entire crop if he 
get a chance. 

Dr. Watts's statement that " birds in their 
little nests agree," like too many others in- 
tended to form the infant mind, is very far from 
being true. On the contrary, the most peaceful 



274 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

relation of the different species to each other is 
that of armed neutrality. They are very jealous 
of neighbors. A few years ago, I was much in- 
terested in the house-building of a pair of sum- 
mer yellow-birds. They had chosen a very 
pretty site near the top of a tall white lilac, 
within easy eye-shot of a chamber window. A 
very pleasant thing it was to see their little home 
growing with mutual help, to watch their in- 
dustrious skill interrupted only by little flirts 
and snatches of endearment, frugally cut short 
by the common sense of the tiny housewife. 
They had brought their work nearly to an end, 
and had already begun to line it with fern-down, 
the gathering of which demanded more dis- 
tant journeys and longer absences. But, alas ! 
the syringa, immemorial manor of the catbirds, 
was not more than twenty feet away, and these 
" giddy neighbors " had, as it appeared, been 
all along jealously watchful, though silent, wit- 
nesses of what they deemed an intrusion of 
squatters. No sooner were the pretty mates 
fairly gone for a new load of lining, than 
*' To their unguarded nest these weasel Scots 
Came stealing." 

Silently they flew back and forth, each giving 
a vengeful dab at the nest in passing. They did 
not fall to and deliberately destroy it, for they 
might have been caught at their mischief. As 
it was, whenever the yellow-birds came back, 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 275 

their enemies were hidden in their own sight- 
proof bush. Several times their unconscious 
victims repaired damages, but at length, after 
counsel taken together, they gave it up. Per- 
haps, like other unlettered folk, they came to 
the conclusion that the Devil was in it, and 
yielded to the invisible persecutions of witch- 
craft. 

The robins, by constant attacks and annoy- 
ances, have succeeded in driving off the blue- 
jays who used to build in our pines, their gay 
colors and quaint noisy ways making them 
welcome and amusing neighbors. I once had 
the chance of doing a kindness to a household 
of them, which they received with very friendly 
condescension. I had had my eye for some 
time upon a nest, and was puzzled by a constant 
fluttering of what seemed full-grown wings in it 
whenever I drew nigh. At last I climbed the 
tree, in spite of angry protests from the old birds 
against my intrusion. The mystery had a very 
simple solution. In building the nest, a long 
piece of pack-thread had been somewhat loosely 
woven in. Three of the young had contrived 
to entangle themselves in it, and had become 
full grown without being able to launch them- 
selves upon the air. One was unharmed ; an- 
other had so tightly twisted the cord about its 
shank that one foot was curled up and seemed 
paralyzed ; the third, in its struggles to escape. 



276 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

had sawn through the flesh of the thigh and so 
much harmed itself that I thought it humane 
to put an end to its misery. When I took out 
my knife to cut their hempen bonds, the heads 
of the family seemed to divine my friendly in- 
tent. Suddenly ceasing their cries and threats, 
they perched quietly within reach of my hand, 
and watched me in my work of manumission. 
This, owing to the fluttering terror of the pris- 
oners, was an affair of some delicacy ; but ere 
long I was rewarded by seeing one of them fly 
away to a neighboring tree, while the cripple, 
making a parachute of his wings, came lightly 
to the ground, and hopped off as well as he 
could with one leg, obsequiously waited on by 
his elders. A week later I had the satisfaction 
of meeting him in the pine-walk, in good spirits, 
and already so far recovered as to be able to 
balance himself with the lame foot. I have no 
doubt that in his old age he accounted for his 
lameness by some handsome story of a wound 
received at the famous Battle of the Pines, 
when our tribe, overcome by numbers, was 
driven from its ancient camping-ground. Of 
late years the jays have visited us only at in- 
tervals ; and in winter their bright plumage, set 
off by the snow, and their cheerful cry, are es- 
pecially welcome. They would have furnished 
iEsop with a fable, for the feathered crest in 
which they seem to take so much satisfaction is 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 277 

often their fatal snare. Country boys make a 
hole with their finger in the snow-crust just large 
enough to admit the jay's head, and, hollowing 
it out somewhat beneath, bait it with a few ker- 
nels of corn. The crest slips easily into the 
trap, but refuses to be pulled out again, and he 
who came to feast remains a prey. 

Twice have the crow-blackbirds attempted 
a settlement in my pines, and twice have the 
robins, who claim a right of preemption, so 
successfully played the part of border ruffians 
as to drive them away, — to my great regret, for 
they are the best substitute we have for rooks. 
At Shady Hill (now, alas ! empty of its so long- 
loved household) they build by hundreds, and 
nothing can be more cheery than their creaking 
clatter (like a convention of old-fashioned tav- 
ern-signs) as they gather at evening to debate 
in mass meeting their windy politics, or to gos- 
sip at their tent-doors over the events of the 
day. Their port is grave, and their stalk across 
the turf as martial as that of a second-rate ghost 
in Hamlet. They never meddled with my 
corn, so far as I could discover. 

For a few years I had crows, but their nests 
are an irresistible bait for boys, and their settle- 
ment was broken up. They grew so wonted as 
to throw off a great part of their shyness, and to 
tolerate my near approach. One very hot day 
I stood for some time within twenty feet of a 



278 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

mother and three children, who sat on an elm 
bough over my head, gasping in the sultry air, 
and holding their wings half spread for cool- 
ness. All birds during the pairing season be- 
come more or less sentimental, and murmur 
soft nothings in a tone very unlike the grinding- 
organ repetition and loudness of their habitual 
song. The crow is very comical as a lover, and 
to hear him trying to soften his croak to the 
proper Saint Preux standard has something the 
effect of a Mississippi boatman quoting Tenny- 
son. Yet there are few things to my ear more 
melodious than his caw of a clear winter morn- 
ing as it drops to you filtered through five 
hundred fathoms of crisp blue air. The hos- 
tility of all smaller birds makes the moral 
character of the crow, for all his deaconlike 
demeanor and garb, somewhat questionable. 
He could never sally forth without insult. The 
golden robins, especially, would chase him as 
far as I could follow with my eye, making him 
duck clumsily to avoid their importunate bills. 
I do not believe, however, that he robbed any 
nests hereabouts, for the refuse of the gas- 
works, which, in our free-and-easy community, 
is allowed to poison the river, supplied him 
with dead alewives in abundance. I used to 
watch him making his periodical visits to the 
salt-marshes and coming back with a fish in his 
beak to his young savages, who, no doubt, like 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 279 

it in that condition which makes it savory to 
the Kanakas and other corvine races of men. 

Orioles are in great plenty with me. I have 
seen seven males flashing about the garden at 
once. A merry crew of them swing their ham- 
mocks from the pendulous boughs. During one 
of these latter years, when the canker-worms 
stripped our elms as bare as winter, these birds 
went to the trouble of rebuilding their unroofed 
nests, and chose for the purpose trees which 
are safe from those swarming vandals, such as 
the ash and the button-wood. One year a pair 
(disturbed, I suppose, elsewhere) built a second 
nest in an elm, within a few yards of the house. 
My friend Edward E. Hale told me once that 
the oriole rejected from his web all strands of 
brilliant color, and I thought it a striking ex- 
ample of that instinct of concealment noticeable 
in many birds, though it should seem in this 
instance that the nest was amply protected by 
its position from all marauders but owls and 
squirrels. Last year, however, I had the fullest 
proof that Mr. Hale was mistaken. A pair of 
orioles built on the lowest trailer of a weeping- 
elm, which hung within ten feet of our drawing- 
room window, and so low that I could reach it 
from the ground. The nest was wholly woven 
and felted with ravellings of woollen carpet in 
which scarlet predominated. Would the same 
thing have happened in the woods ? Or did the 



28o MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

nearness of a human dwelling perhaps give the 
birds a greater feeling of security ? They are 
very bold, by the way, in quest of cordage, and 
I have often watched them stripping the fibrous 
bark from a honeysuckle growing over the very 
door. But, indeed, all my birds look upon me 
as if I were a mere tenant at will, and they were 
landlords. With shame I confess it, I have been 
bullied even by a humming-bird. This spring, 
as I was cleansing a pear-tree of its lichens, 
one of these little zigzagging blurs came purr- 
ing toward me, couching his long bill like a 
lance, his throat sparkling with angry fire, to 
warn me off from a Missouri-currant whose 
honey he was sipping. And many a time he 
has driven me out of a flower-bed. This sum- 
mer, by the way, a pair of these winged emer- 
alds fastened their mossy acorn-cup upon a 
bough of the same elm which the orioles had 
enlivened the year before. We watched all their 
proceedings from the window through an opera- 
glass, and saw their two nestlings grow from 
black needles with a tuft of down at the lower 
end, till they whirled away on their first short 
experimental flights. They became strong of 
wing in a surprisingly short time, and I never 
saw them or the male bird after, though the 
female was regular as usual in her visits to our 
petunias and verbenas. I do not think it ground 
enough for a generalization, but in the many 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 281 

times when I watched the old birds feeding 
their young, the mother always alighted, while 
the father as uniformly remained upon the wing. 
The bobolinks are generally chance visitors, 
tinkling through the garden in blossoming-time, 
but this year, owing to the long rains early in 
the season, their favorite meadows were flooded, 
and they were driven to the upland. So I had 
a pair of them domiciled in my grass-field. The 
male used to perch in an apple-tree, then in full 
bloom, and, while I stood perfectly still close 
by, he would circle away, quivering round the 
entire field of five acres, with no break in his 
song, and settle down again among the blos- 
soms, to be hurried away almost immediately 
by a new rapture of music. He had the volu- 
bility of an Italian charlatan at a fair, and, like 
him, appeared to be proclaiming the merits 
of some quack remedy. Opodeldoc-opodeJdoc-try- 
Doctor-Lincoln s-opodeldoc ! he seemed to repeat 
over and over again, with a rapidity that would 
have distanced the deftest-tongued Figaro that 
ever rattled. I remember Count Gurowski say- 
ing once, with that easy superiority of know- 
ledge about this country which is the monopoly 
of foreigners, that we had no singing-birds ! 
Well, well, Mr. Hepworth Dixon has found 
the typical America in Oneida and Salt Lake 
City. Of course, an intelligent European is the 
best judge of these matters. The truth is there 



282 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

are more singing-birds in Europe because there 
are fewer forests. These songsters love the 
neighborhood of man because hawks and owls 
are rarer, while their own food is more abun- 
dant. Most people seem to think, the more 
trees, the more birds. Even Chateaubriand, 
who first tried the primitive-forest- cure, and 
whose description of the wilderness in its im- 
aginative effects is unmatched, fancies the " peo- 
ple of the air singing their hymns to him." So 
far as my own observation goes, the farther one 
penetrates the sombre solitudes of the woods, 
the more seldom does one hear the voice of any 
singing-bird. In spite of Chateaubriand's mi- 
nuteness of detail, in spite of that marvellous 
reverberation of the decrepit tree falling of its 
own weight, which he was the first to notice, I 
cannot help doubting whether he made his way 
very deep into the wilderness. At any rate, in 
a letter to Fontanes, written in 1804, he speaks 
of mes chevaux paissants a quelque distance. To 
be sure Chateaubriand was apt to mount the 
high horse, and this may have been but an after- 
thought of the grand seigneur, but certainly one 
would not make much headway on horseback 
toward the druid fastnesses of the primeval pine. 
The bobolinks build in considerable numbers 
in a meadow within a quarter of a mile of us. 
A houseless lane passes through the midst of 
their camp, and in clear westerly weather, at 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 283 

the right season, one may hear a score of them 
singing at once. When they are breeding, if I 
chance to pass, one of the male birds always 
accompanies me like a constable, flitting from 
post to post of the rail fence, with a short note 
of reproof continually repeated, till I am fairly 
out of the neighborhood. Then he will swing 
away into the air and run down the wind, gurg- 
ling music without stint over the unheeding 
tussocks of meadow-grass and dark clumps of 
bulrushes that mark his domain. 

We have no bird whose song will match the 
nightingale's in compass, none whose note is so 
rich as that of the European blackbird ; but for 
mere rapture I have never heard the bobolink's 
rival. Yet his opera-season is a short one. The 
ground and tree sparrows are our most constant 
performers. It is now late in August, and one 
of the latter sings every day and all day long in 
the garden. Till within a fortnight, a pair of 
indigo-birds would keep up their lively duo for 
an hour together. While I write, I hear an 
oriole gay as in June, and the plaintive may-be 
of the goldfinch tells me he is stealing my let- 
tuce-seeds. I know not what the experience 
of others may have been, but the only bird I 
have ever heard sing in the night has been the 
chip-bird. I should say he sang about as often 
during the darkness as cocks crow. One can 
hardly help fancying that he sings in his dreams. 



284 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

** Father of light, what sunnie seed, 
What glance of day hast thou confined 
Into this bird ? To all the breed 
This busie ray thou hast assigned; 
Their magnetism works all night 
And dreams of Paradise and light. ' ' 

On second thought, I remember to have heard 
the cuckoo strike the hours nearly all night with 
the regularity of a Swiss clock. 

The dead limbs of our elms, which I spare 
to that end, bring us the flicker every summer, 
and almost daily I hear his wild scream and 
laugh close at hand, himself invisible. He is a 
shy bird, but a few days ago I had the satis- 
faction of studying him through the blinds as 
he sat on a tree within a few feet of me. Seen 
so near and at rest, he makes good his claim 
to the title of pigeon-woodpecker. Lumberers 
have a notion that he is harmful to timber, dig- 
ging little holes through the bark to encourage 
the settlement of insects. The regular rings of 
such perforations which one may see in almost 
any apple-orchard seem to give some prob- 
ability to this theory. Almost every season a 
solitary quail visits us, and, unseen among the 
currant-bushes, calls Bob White^ Bob White, as 
if he were playing at hide-and-seek with that 
imaginary being. A rarer visitant is the turtle- 
dove, whose pleasant coo (something like the 
muflled crow of a cock from a coop covered 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 285 

with snow) I have sometimes heard, and whom 
I once had the good luck to see close by me in 
the mulberry-tree. The wild-pigeon, once nu- 
merous, I have not seen for many years.' Of 
savage birds, a hen-hawk now and then quar- 
ters himself upon us for a few days, sitting 
sluggish in a tree after a surfeit of poultry. 
One of them once offered me a near shot from 
my study-window one drizzly day for several 
hours. But it was Sunday, and I gave him the 
benefit of its gracious truce of God. 

Certain birds have disappeared from our 
neighborhood within my memory. I remember 
when the whippoorwill could be heard in Sweet 
Auburn. The night-hawk, once common, is 
now rare. The brown thrush has moved farther 
up country. For years I have not seen or heard 
any of the larger owls, whose hooting was one 
of my boyish terrors. The cliff-swallow, strange 
emigrant, that eastward takes his way, has come 
and gone again in my time. The bank-swallows, 
well-nigh innumerable during my boyhood, no 
longer frequent the crumbly cliff of the gravel- 
pit by the river. The barn-swallows, which once 
swarmed in our barn, flashing through the dusty 
sunstreaks of the mow, have been gone these 
many years. My father would lead me out to 
see them gather on the roof, and take counsel 
before their yearly migration, as Mr. White 

' They made their appearance again this summer (1870). 



286 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

used to see them at Selborne. Eheu,fugaces ! 
Thank fortune, the swift still glues his nest, and 
rolls his distant thunders night and day in the 
wide-throated chimneys, still sprinkles the even- 
ing air with his merry twittering. The popu- 
lous herony in Fresh Pond meadows has been 
well-nigh broken up, but still a pair or two 
haunt the old home, as the gypsies of Ellan- 
gowan their ruined huts, and every evening fly 
over us riverwards, clearing their throats with 
a hoarse hawk as they go, and, in cloudy wea- 
ther, scarce higher than the tops of the chim- 
neys. Sometimes I have known one to alight 
in one of our trees, though for what purpose I 
never could divine. Since this was written, they 
began in greater numbers to spend the day in a 
group of pines just within my borders. Once, 
when my exploring footstep startled them, I 
counted fifty flashing in circles over my head. 
By watchful protection I induced two pairs of 
them to build, and, as if sensible of my friend- 
ship, they made their nests in a pine within a 
hundred feet of the house. They shine forever 
in Longfellow's verse. Kingfishers have some- 
times puzzled me in the same way, perched at 
high noon in a pine, springing their watchman's 
rattle when they flitted away from my curiosity, 
and seeming to shove their top-heavy heads 
along as a man does a wheelbarrow. 

Some birds have left us, I suppose, because 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 287 

the country is growing less wild. I once found 
a summer duck's nest within quarter of a mile 
of our house, but such a trouvaille would be im- 
possible now as Kidd's treasure. And yet the 
mere taming of the neighborhood does not quite 
satisfy me as an explanation. Twenty years ago, 
on my way to bathe in the river, I saw every 
day a brace of woodcock, on the miry edge of 
a spring within a few rods of a house, and con- 
stantly visited by thirsty cows. There was no 
growth of any kind to conceal them, and yet 
these ordinarily shy birds were almost as indif- 
ferent to my passing as common poultry would 
have been. Since bird-nesting has become sci- 
entific, and dignified itself as oology, that, no 
doubt, is partly to blame for some of our losses. 
But some old friends are constant. Wilson's 
thrush comes every year to remind me of that 
most poetic of ornithologists. He flits before 
me through the pine-walk like the very genius 
of solitude. A pair of pewees have built imme- 
morially on a jutting brick in the arched entrance 
to the ice-house. Always on the same brick, and 
never more than a single pair, though two broods 
of five each are raised there every summer. 
How do they settle their claim to the home- 
stead ? By what right of primogeniture ? Once 
the children of a man employed about the place 
oologized the nest, and the pewees left us for 
a year or two. I felt towards those boys as the 



288 MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

messmates of the Ancient Mariner did towards 
him after he had shot the albatross. But the 
pewees came back at last, and one of them is 
now on his wonted perch, so near my window 
that I can hear the click of his bill as he snaps 
a fly on the wing with the unerring precision 
a stately Trasteverina shows in the capture of 
her smaller deer. The pewee is the first bird to 
pipe up in the morning ; and, during the early 
summer he preludes his matutinal ejaculation 
oi pewee with a slender whistle, unheard at any 
other time. He saddens with the season, and, 
as summer declines, he changes his note to eheUy 
pewee ! as if in lamentation. Had he been an 
Italian bird, Ovid would have had a plaintive 
tale to tell about him. He is so familiar as often 
to pursue a fly through the open window into 
my library. 

There is something inexpressibly dear to me 
in these old friendships of a lifetime. There is 
scarce a tree of mine but has had, at some time 
or other, a happy homestead among its boughs, 
and to which I cannot say, 

♦' Many light hearts and wings. 
Which now be dead, lodged in thy living bowers." 

My walk under the pines would lose half its 
summer charm were I to miss that shy anchor- 
ite, the Wilson's thrush, nor hear in haying- 
time the metallic ring of his song, that justifies 
his rustic name of scythe-whet. I protect my 



MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 289 

game as jealously as an English squire. If any- 
body had oologized a certain cuckoo's nest I 
know of (I have a pair in my garden every year), 
it would have left me a sore place in my mind 
for weeks. I love to bring these aborigines back 
to the mansuetude they showed to the early 
voyagers, and before (forgive the involuntary 
pun) they had grown accustomed to man and 
knew his savage ways. And they repay your 
kindness with a sweet familiarity too delicate 
ever to breed contempt. I have made a Penn- 
treaty with them, preferring that to the Puritan 
way with the natives, which converted them to 
a little Hebraism and a great deal of Medford 
rum. If they will not come near enough to me 
(as most of them will), I bring them close with 
an opera-glass, — a much better weapon than a 
gun. I would not, if I could, convert them from 
their pretty pagan ways. The only one I some- 
times have savage doubts about is the red squir- 
rel. I think he oologizes. I know he eats cher- 
ries (we counted five of them at one time in a 
single tree, the stones pattering down Hke the 
sparse hail that preludes a storm), and that he 
gnaws off the small end of pears to get at the 
seeds. He steals the corn from under the noses 
of my poultry. But what would you have ? 
He will come down upon a limb of the tree I 
am lying under till he is within a yard of me. 
He and his mate will scurry up and down the 



zgo MY GARDEN ACQUAINTANCE 

great black-walnut for my diversion, chattering 
like monkeys. Can I sign his death-warrant 
who has tolerated me about his grounds so 
long? Not I. Let them steal, and welcome. I 
am sure I should, had I had the same bringing 
up and the same temptation. As for the birds, 
I do not believe there is one of them but does 
more good than harm ; and of how many fea- 
therless bipeds can this be said ? 



ON A CERTAIN CONDESCENSION 
IN FOREIGNERS 



ON A CERTAIN CONDESCENSION 
IN FOREIGNERS 

1869 

WALKING one day toward the Vil- 
lage, as we used to call it in the good 
old days, when almost every dweller 
in the town had been born in it, I was enjoying 
that delicious sense of disenthralment from the 
actual which the deepening twilight brings with 
it, giving as it does a sort of obscure novelty to 
things familiar. The coolness, the hush, broken 
only by the distant bleat of some belated goat, 
querulous to be disburthened of her milky load, 
the few faint stars, more guessed as yet than seen, 
the sense that the coming dark would so soon 
fold me in the secure privacy of its disguise, — 
all things combined in a result as near absolute 
peace as can be hoped for by a man who knows 
that there is a writ out against him in the hands 
of the printer's devil. For the moment, I was 
enjoying the blessed privilege of thinking with- 
out being called on to stand and deliver what 
I thought to the small public who are good 
enough to take any interest therein. I love old 



294 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

ways, and the path I was walking felt kindly 
to the feet it had known for almost fifty years. 
How many fleeting impressions it had shared 
with me ! How many times I had lingered to 
study the shadows of the leaves mezzotinted 
upon the turf that edged it by the moon, of 
the bare boughs etched with a touch beyond 
Rembrandt by the same unconscious artist on 
the smooth page of snow! If I turned round, 
through dusky tree-gaps came the first twinkle 
of evening lamps in the dear old homestead. 
On Corey's Hill I could see these tiny pharoses 
of love and home and sweet domestic thoughts 
flash out one by one across the blackening salt- 
meadow between. How much has not kerosene 
added to the cheerfulness of our evening land- 
scape! A pair of night-herons flapped heavily 
over me toward the hidden river. The war was 
ended. I might walk townward without that 
aching dread of bulletins that had darkened the 
July sunshine and twice made the scarlet leaves 
of October seem stained with blood. I remem- 
bered with a pang, half proud, half painful, how, 
so many years ago, I had walked over the same 
path and felt round my finger the soft pressure 
of a little hand that was one day to harden with 
faithful grip of sabre. On how many paths, 
leading to how many homes where proud Mem- 
ory does all she can to fill up the fireside gaps 
with shining shapes, must not men be walking 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 295 

in just such pensive mood as I ? Ah, young 
heroes, safe in immortal youth as those of 
Homer, you at least carried your ideal hence 
untarnished ! It is locked for you beyond moth 
or rust in the treasure-chamber of Death. 

Is not a country, I thought, that has had such 
as they in it, that could give such as they a brave 
joy in dying for it, worth something, then ? And 
as I felt more and more the soothing magic of 
evening's cool palm upon my temples, as my 
fancy came home from its reverie, and my senses, 
with reawakened curiosity, ran to the front win- 
dows again from the viewless closet of abstrac- 
tion, and felt a strange charm in finding the old 
tree and shabby fence still there under the 
travesty of falling night, nay, were conscious of 
an unsuspected newness in familiar stars and 
the fading outlines of hills my earliest horizon, 
I was conscious of an immortal soul, and could 
not but rejoice in the unwaning goodliness of 
the world into which I had been born without 
any merit of my own. I thought of dear Henry 
Vaughan's rainbow, " Still young and fine ! " 
I remembered people who had to go over to 
the Alps to learn what the divine silence of 
snow was, who must run to Italy before they 
were conscious of the miracle wrought every day 
under their very noses by the sunset, who must 
call upon the Berkshire Hills to teach them what 
a painter autumn was, while close at hand the 



296 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

Fresh Pond meadows made all oriels cheap with 
hues that showed as if a sunset-cloud had been 
wrecked among their maples. One might be 
worse off than even in America, I thought. 
There are some things so elastic that even the 
heavy roller of democracy cannot flatten them 
altogether down. The mind can weave itself 
warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts and 
dwell a hermit anywhere. A country without 
traditions, without ennobling associations, a 
scramble q>{ parvenus^ with a horrible conscious- 
ness of shoddy running through politics, man- 
ners, art, literature, nay, religion itself? I 
confess, it did not seem so to me there in that 
illimitable quiet, that serene self-possession of 
nature, where Collins might have brooded his 
" Ode to Evening," or where those verses on 
Solitude in Dodsley's Collection, that Haw- 
thorne liked so much, might have been com- 
posed. Traditions ? Granting that we had none, 
all that is worth having in them is the common 
property of the soul, — an estate in gavelkind 
for all the sons of Adam, — and, moreover, if 
a man cannot stand on his two feet (the prime 
quality of whoever has left any tradition behind 
him), were it not better for him to be honest 
about it at once, and go down on all fours ? 
And for associations, if one have not the wit to 
make them for himself out of native earth, no 
ready-made ones of other men will avail much. 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 297 

Lexington is none the worse to me for not be- 
ing in Greece, nor Gettysburg that its name 
is not Marathon. " Blessed old fields," I was 
just exclaiming to myself, like one of Mrs. 
Radcliffe's heroes," dear acres, innocently secure 
from history, which these eyes first beheld, may 
you be also those to which they shall at last 
slowly darken ! " when I was interrupted by a 
voice which asked me in German whether I was 
the Herr Professor, Doctor, So-and-so ? The 
" Doctor " was by brevet or vaticination, to 
make the grade easier to my pocket. 

One feels so intimately assured that one is 
made up, in part, of shreds and leavings of the 
past, in part of the interpolations of other people, 
that an honest man would be slow in saying jy^'j 
to such a question. But " my name is So-and- 
so " is a safe answer, and I gave it. While I had 
been romancing with myself, the street-lamps 
had been lighted, and it was under one of these 
detectives that have robbed the Old Road of its 
privilege of sanctuary after nightfall that I was 
ambushed by my foe. The inexorable villain 
had taken my description, it appears, that I 
might have the less chance to escape him. Dr. 
Holmes tells us that we change our substance, 
not every seven years, as was once believed, but 
with every breath we draw. Why had I not the 
wit to avail myself of the subterfuge, and, like 
Peter, to renounce my identity, especially, as in 



298 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

certain moods of mind, I have often more than 
doubted of it myself? When a man is, as it 
were, his own front door, and is thus knocked 
at, why may he not assume the right of that 
sacred wood to make every house a castle, by 
denying himself to all visitations ? I was truly 
not at home when the question was put to me, 
but had to recall myself from all out-of-doors, 
and to piece my self-consciousness hastily to- 
gether as well as I could before I answered it. 

I knew perfectly well what was coming. It 
is seldom that debtors or good Samaritans way- 
lay people under gas-lamps in order to force 
money upon them, so far as I have seen or 
heard. I was also aware, from considerable ex- 
perience, that every foreigner is persuaded that, 
by doing this country the favor of coming to it, 
he has laid every native thereof under an obli- 
gation, pecuniary or other, as the case may be, 
whose discharge he is entitled to on demand 
duly made in person or by letter. Too much 
learning (of this kind) had made me mad in the 
provincial sense of the word. I had begun life 
with the theory of giving something to every 
beggar that came along, though sure of never 
finding a native-born countryman among them. 
In a small way, I was resolved to emulate Ha- 
tem Tai's tent, with its three hundred and sixty- 
five entrances, one for every day in the year, — 
I know not whether he was astronomer enough 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 299 

to add another for leap-years. The beggars were 
a kind of German-silver aristocracy ; not real 
plate, to be sure, but better than nothing. 
Where everybody was overworked, they sup- 
plied the comfortable equipoise of absolute lei- 
sure, so aesthetically needful. Besides, I was but 
too conscious of a vagrant fibre in myself, which 
too often thrilled me in my solitary walks with 
the temptation to wander on into infinite space, 
and by a single spasm of resolution to emanci- 
pate myself from the drudgery of prosaic serfdom 
to respectability and the regular course of things. 
This prompting has been at times my familiar 
demon, and I could not but feel a kind of re- 
spectful sympathy for men who had dared what 
I had only sketched out to myself as a splendid 
possibility. For seven years I helped maintain 
one heroic man on an imaginary journey to 
Portland, — as fine an example as I have ever 
known of hopeless loyalty to an ideal. I assisted 
another so long in a fruitless attempt to reach 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, that at last we grinned 
in each other's faces when we met, like a couple 
of augurs. He was possessed by this harmless 
mania as some are by the North Pole, and I 
shall never forget his look of regretful compas- 
sion (as for one who was sacrificing his higher 
life to the fleshpots of Egypt) when I at last 
advised him somewhat strenuously to go to the 
D , whither the road was so much travelled 



300 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

that he could not miss it. General Banks, in 
his noble zeal for the honor of his country, 
would confer on the Secretary of State the power 
of imprisoning, in case of war, all these seekers 
of the unattainable, thus by a stroke of the pen 
annihilating the single poetic element in our 
humdrum life. Alas ! not everybody has the 
genius to be a Bobbin-Boy, or doubtless all 
these also would have chosen that more pro- 
sperous line of life ! But moralists, sociologists, 
political economists, and taxes have slowly con- 
vinced me that my beggarly sympathies were 
a sin against society. Especially was the Buckle 
doctrine of averages (so flattering to our free 
will) persuasive with me ; for as there must be 
in every year a certain number who would be- 
stow an alms on these abridged editions of the 
Wandering Jew, the withdrawal of my quota 
could make no possible difference, since some 
destined proxy must always step forward to fill 
my gap. Just so many misdirected letters every 
year and no more ! Would it were as easy to 
reckon up the number of men on whose backs 
fate has written the wrong address, so that they 
arrive by mistake in Congress and other places 
where they do not belong ! May not these wan- 
derers of whom I speak have been sent into the 
world without any proper address at all ? Where 
is our Dead-Letter Office for such ? And if wiser 
social arrangements should furnish us with some- 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 301 

thing of the sort, fancy (horrible thought !) how 
many a workingman's friend (a kind of in- 
dustry in which the labor is light and the wages 
heavy) would be sent thither because not called 
for in the office where he at present lies ! 

But I am leaving my new acquaintance too 
long under the lamp-post. The same Gano 
which had betrayed me to him revealed to me 
a well-set young man of about half my own 
age, as well dressed, so far as I could see, as I 
was, and with every natural qualification for 
getting his own livelihood as good, if not bet- 
ter, than my own. He had been reduced to the 
painful necessity of calling upon me by a series 
of crosses beginning with the Baden Revolution 
(for which, I own, he seemed rather young, — 
but perhaps he referred to a kind of revolution 
practised every season at Baden-Baden), con- 
tinued by repeated failures in business, for 
amounts which must convince me of his entire 
respectability, and ending with our civil war. 
During the latter, he had served with distinc- 
tion as a soldier, taking a main part in every 
important battle, with a rapid list of which he 
favored me, and no doubt would have admitted 
that, impartial as Jonathan Wild's great ances- 
tor, he had been on both sides, had I baited 
him with a few hints of conservative opinions 
on a subject so distressing to a gentleman wish- 
ing to profit by one's sympathy and unhappily 



302 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

doubtful as to which way it might lean. For 
all these reasons, and, as he seemed to imply, 
for his merit in consenting to be born in Ger- 
many, he considered himself my natural cred- 
itor to the extent of five dollars, which he 
would handsomely consent to accept in green- 
backs, though he preferred specie. The offer 
was certainly a generous one, and the claim 
presented with an assurance that carried convic- 
tion. But, unhappily, I had been led to re- 
mark a curious natural phenomenon. If I was 
ever weak enough to give anything to a peti- 
tioner of whatever nationality, it always rained 
decayed compatriots of his for a month after. 
Post hoc ergo propter hoc may not always be safe 
logic, but here I seemed to perceive a natural 
connection of cause and effect. Now, a few 
days before I had been so tickled with a paper 
(professedly written by a benevolent American 
clergyman) certifying that the bearer, a hard- 
working German, had long " sofered with rheu- 
matic paints in his limps," that, after copying 
the passage into my note-book, I thought it 
but fair to pay a trifling honorarium to the au- 
thor. I had pulled the string of the shower- 
bath ! It had been running shipwrecked sailors 
for some time, but forthwith it began to pour 
Teutons, redolent of lager-bier. I could not 
help associating the apparition of my new friend 
with this series of otherwise unaccountable phe- 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 303 

nomena. I accordingly made up my mind to 
deny the debt, and modestly did so, pleading a 
native bias towards impecuniosity to the full as 
strong as his own. He took a high tone with 
me at once, such as an honest man would nat- 
urally take with a confessed repudiator. He 
even brought down his proud stomach so far 
as to join himself to me for the rest of my 
townward walk, that he might give me his 
views of the American people, and thus inclu- 
sively of myself, 

I know not whether it is because I am 
pigeon-livered and lack gall, or whether it is 
from an overmastering sense of drollery, but I 
am apt to submit to such bastings with a pa- 
tience which afterwards surprises me, being not 
without my share of warmth in the blood. 
Perhaps it is because I so often meet with 
young persons who know vastly more than 
I do, and especially with so many foreigners 
whose knowledge of this country is superior 
to my own. However it may be, I listened 
for some time with tolerable composure as my 
self-appointed lecturer gave me in detail his 
opinions of my country and Its people. Amer- 
ica, he informed me, was without arts, science, 
literature, culture, or any native hope of sup- 
plying them. We were a people wholly given 
to money-getting, and who, having got it, knew 
no other use for it than to hold it fast. I am 



304 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

fain to confess that I felt a sensible itching of 
the biceps, and that my fingers closed with such 
a grip as he had just informed me was one of 
the effects of our unhappy climate. But hap- 
pening just then to be where I could avoid 
temptation by dodging down a by-street, I has- 
tily left him to finish his diatribe to the lamp- 
post, which could stand it better than I. That 
young man will never know how near he came 
to being assaulted by a respectable gentleman 
of middle age, at the corner of Church Street. 
I have never felt quite satisfied that I did all 
my duty by him in not knocking him down. 
But perhaps he might have knocked me down, 
and then ? 

The capacity of indignation makes an essen- 
tial part of the outfit of every honest man, but 
I am inclined to doubt whether he is a wise one 
who allows himself to act upon its first hints. 
It should be rather, I suspect, a latent heat in 
the blood, which makes itself felt in character, 
a steady reserve for the brain, warming the 
ovum of thought to life, rather than cooking it 
by a too hasty enthusiasm in reaching the boil- 
ing-point. As my pulse gradually fell back to 
its normal beat, I reflected that I had been un- 
comfortably near making a fool of myself, — a 
handy salve of euphuism for our vanity, though 
it does not always make a just allowance to 
Nature for her share in the business. What 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 305 

possible claim had my Teutonic friend to rob me 
of my composure? I am not, I think, specially 
thin-skinned as to other people's opinions of 
myself, having, as I conceive, later and fuller 
intelligence on that point than anybody else 
can give me. Life is continually weighing us 
in very sensitive scales, and telling every one 
of us precisely what his real weight is to the 
last grain of dust. Whoever at fifty does not 
rate himself quite as low as most of his ac- 
quaintance would be likely to put him, must 
be either a fool or a great man, and I humbly 
disclaim being either. But if I was not smart- 
ing in person from any scattering shot of my 
late companion's commination, why should I 
grow hot at any implication of my country 
therein ? Surely her shoulders are broad enough, 
if yours or mine are not, to bear up under a 
considerable avalanche of this kind. It is the 
bit of truth in every slander, the hint of like- 
ness in every caricature, that makes us smart. 
"Art thou there^ old Truepenny?" How did 
your blade know its way so well to that one 
loose rivet in our armor ? I wondered whether 
Americans were over-sensitive in this respect, 
whether they were more touchy than other 
folks. On the whole, I thought we were not. 
Plutarch, who at least had studied philosophy, 
if he had not mastered it, could not stomach 
something Herodotus had said of Boeotia, and 



3o6 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

devoted an essay to showing up the delightful 
old traveller's malice and ill breeding. French 
editors leave out of Montaigne's Travels 
some remarks of his about France, for reasons 
best known to themselves. Pachydermatous 
Deutschland, covered with trophies from every 
field of letters, still winces under that question 
which Pere Bouhours put two centuries ago. Si 
un Allemand pent etre hel-esprit ? John Bull 
grew apoplectic with angry amazement at the 
audacious persiflage of Piickler-Muskau. To 
be sure, he was a prince, — but that was not all 
of it, for a chance phrase of gentle Hawthorne 
sent a spasm through all the journals of Eng- 
land. Then this tenderness is not peculiar to 
us ? Console yourself, dear man and brother, 
whatever else you may be sure of, be sure at 
least of this, that you are dreadfully like other 
people. Human nature has a much greater 
genius for sameness than for originality, or the 
world would be at a sad pass shortly. The sur- 
prising thing is that men have such a taste for 
this somewhat musty flavor that an English- 
man, for example, should feel himself defrauded, 
nay, even outraged, when he comes over here 
and finds a people speaking what he admits to 
be something like English, and yet so very 
diff^erent from (or, as he would say, to) those 
he left at home. Nothing, I am sure, equals 
my thankfulness when I meet an Englishman 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 307 

who is not like every other, or, I may add, an 
American of the same odd turn. 

Certainly it is no shame to a man that he 
should be as nice about his country as about 
his sweetheart, and who ever heard even the 
friendliest appreciation of that unexpressive she 
that did not seem to fall infinitely short ? Yet 
it would hardly be wise to hold every one an 
enemy who could not see her with our own 
enchanted eyes. It seems to be the common 
opinion of foreigners that Americans are too 
tender upon this point. Perhaps we are ; and 
if so, there must be a reason for it. Have we 
had fair play ? Could the eyes of what is called 
Good Society (though it is so seldom true either 
to the adjective or noun) look upon a nation of 
democrats with any chance of receiving an un- 
distorted image ? Were not those, moreover, 
who found in the old order of things an earthly 
paradise, paying them quarterly dividends for 
the wisdom of their ancestors, with the punc- 
tuality of the seasons, unconsciously bribed 
to misunderstand if not to misrepresent us ? 
Whether at war or at peace, there we were, a 
standing menace to all earthly paradises of that 
kind, fatal underminers of the very credit on 
which the dividends were based, all the more 
hateful and terrible that our destructive agency 
was so insidious, working invisible in the ele- 
ments, as it seemed, active while they slept. 



3o8 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

and coming upon them in the darkness like an 
armed man. Could Laius have the proper feel- 
ings of a father towards CEdipus, announced as 
his destined destroyer by infallible oracles, and 
felt to be such by every conscious fibre of his 
soul ? For more than a century the Dutch were 
the laughing-stock of polite Europe. They were 
butter-firkins, swillers of beer and schnaps, and 
their vrouws from whom Holbein painted the 
ail-but loveliest of Madonnas, Rembrandt the 
graceful girl who sits immortal on his knee in 
Dresden, and Rubens his abounding goddesses, 
were the synonymes of clumsy vulgarity. Even 
so late as Irving the ships of the greatest navi- 
gators in the world were represented as saiHng 
equally well stern-foremost. That the aristo- 
cratic Venetians should have 

" Riveted with gigantic piles 
Thorough the centre their new-catched miles," 

was heroic. But the far more marvellous achieve- 
ment of the Dutch in the same kind was ludi- 
crous even to republican Marvell. Meanwhile, 
during that very century of scorn, they were the 
best artists, sailors, merchants, bankers, printers, 
scholars, jurisconsults, and statesmen in Europe, 
and the genius of Motley has revealed them to 
us, earning a right to themselves by the most 
heroic struggle in human annals. But, alas ! 
they were not merely simple burghers who had 
fairly made themselves High Mightinesses, and 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 309 

could treat on equal terms with anointed kings, 
but their commonwealth carried in its bosom 
the germs of democracy. They even unmuz- 
zled, at least after dark, that dreadful mastiff, 
the Press, whose scent is, or ought to be, so 
keen for wolves in sheeps' clothing and for cer- 
tain other animals in lions' skins. They made 
fun of Sacred Majesty, and, what was worse, 
managed uncommonly well without it. In an 
age when periwigs made so large a part of the 
natural dignity of man, people with such a turn 
of mind were dangerous. How could they seem 
other than vulgar and hateful ? 

In the natural course of things we succeeded 
to this unenviable position of general butt. The 
Dutch had thriven under it pretty well, and 
there was hope that we could at least contrive 
to worry along. And we certainly did in a very 
redoubtable fashion. Perhaps we deserved some 
of the sarcasm more than our Dutch predeces- 
sors in office. We had nothing to boast of in 
arts or letters, and were given to bragging over- 
much of our merely material prosperity, due 
quite as much to the virtue of our continent as 
to our own. There was some truth in Carlyle's 
sneer, after all. Till we had succeeded in some 
higher way than this, we had only the success 
of physical growth. Our greatness, like that of 
enormous Russia, was greatness on the map, — 
barbarian mass only ; but had we gone down, 



3IO CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

like that other Atlantis, in some vast cataclysm, 
we should have covered but a pin's point on 
the chart of memory, compared with those ideal 
spaces occupied by tiny Attica and cramped 
England. At the same time, our critics some- 
what too easily forgot that material must make 
ready the foundation for ideal triumphs, that 
the arts have no chance in poor countries. But 
it must be allowed that democracy stood for 
a great deal in our shortcoming. The Edin- 
burgh Review never would have thought of 
asking, " Who reads a Russian book ? " and 
England was satisfied with iron from Sweden 
without being impertinently inquisitive after her 
painters and statuaries. Was it that they ex- 
pected too much from the mere miracle of Free- 
dom ? Is it not the highest art of a Republic to 
make men of flesh and blood,and not the marble 
ideals of such ? It may be fairly doubted whether 
we have produced this higher type of man yet. 
Perhaps it is the collective, not the individual, 
humanity that is to have a chance of nobler de- 
velopment among us. We shall see. We have 
a vast amount of imported ignorance, and, still 
worse, of native ready-made knowledge, to di- 
gest before even the preliminaries of such a con- 
summation can be arranged. We have got to 
learn that statesmanship is the most compli- 
cated of all arts, and to come back to the ap- 
prenticeship system too hastily abandoned. At 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 3" 

present, we trust a man with making constitu- 
tions on less proof of competence than we should 
demand before we gave him our shoe to patch. 
We have nearly reached the limit of the reac- 
tion from the old notion, which paid too much 
regard to birth and station as qualifications for 
office, and have touched the extreme point in 
the opposite direction, putting the highest of 
human functions up at auction to be bid for by 
any creature capable of going upright on two 
legs. In some places, we have arrived at a 
point at which civil society is no longer possi- 
ble, and already another reaction has begun, not 
backwards to the old system, but towards fitness 
either from natural aptitude or special training. 
But will it always be safe to let evils work their 
own cure by becoming unendurable ? Every 
one of them leaves its taint in the constitution 
of the body politic, each in itself, perhaps, tri- 
fling, yet altogether powerful for evil. 

But whatever we might do or leave undone, 
we were not genteel, and it was uncomfortable 
to be continually reminded that, though we 
should boast that we were the Great West till 
we were black in the face, it did not bring us 
an inch nearer to the world's West-End. That 
sacred enclosure of respectability was tabooed 
to us. The Holy Alliance did not inscribe us 
on its visiting-list. The Old World of wigs 
and orders and liveries would shop with us. 



312 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

but we must ring at the area-bell, and not ven- 
ture to awaken the more august clamors of the 
knocker. Our manners, it must be granted, 
had none of those graces that stamp the caste 
of Vere de Vere, in whatever museum of Brit- 
ish antiquities they may be hidden. In short, 
we were vulgar. 

This was one of those horribly vague accusa- 
tions, the victim of which has no defence. An 
umbrella is of no avail against a Scotch mist. 
It envelops you, it penetrates at every pore, it 
wets you through without seeming to wet you 
at all. Vulgarity is an eighth deadly sin, added 
to the list in these latter days, and worse than 
all the others put together, since it perils your 
salvation in this world, — far the more impor- 
tant of the two in the minds of most men. It 
profits nothing to draw nice distinctions be- 
tween essential and conventional, for the con- 
vention in this case is the essence, and you may 
break every command of the decalogue with 
perfect good breeding, nay, if you are adroit, 
without losing caste. We, indeed, had it not 
to lose, for we had never gained it. " How 
am I vulgar ? " asks the culprit, shudderingly. 
" Because thou art not like unto Us," answers 
Lucifer, Son of the Morning, and there is no 
more to be said. The god of this world may 
be a fallen angel, but he has us there ! We 
were as clean, — sq far as my observation goes, 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 313 

I think we were cleaner, morally and physically, 
than the English, and therefore, of course, than 
everybody else. But we did not pronounce the 
diphthong ou as they did, and we said eether 
and not eyther^ following therein the fashion of 
our ancestors, who unhappily could bring over 
no English better than Shakespeare's ; and we 
did not stammer as they had learned to do from 
the courtiers, who in this way flattered the 
Hanoverian king, a foreigner among the peo- 
ple he had come to reign over. Worse than 
all, we might have the noblest ideas and the 
finest sentiments in the world, but we vented 
them through that organ by which men are led 
rather than leaders, though some physiologists 
would persuade us that Nature furnishes her 
captains with a fine handle to their faces, that 
Opportunity may get a good purchase on them 
for dragging them to the front. 

This state of things was so painful that ex- 
cellent people were not wanting who gave their 
whole genius to reproducing here the original 
Bull, whether by gaiters, the cut of their whis- 
kers, by a factitious brutality in their tone, or 
by an accent that was forever tripping and fall- 
ing flat over the tangled roots of our common 
tongue. Martyrs to a false ideal, it never oc- 
curred to them that nothing is more hateful 
to gods and men than a second-rate English- 
man, and for the very reason that this planet 



314 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

never produced a more splendid creature than 
the first-rate one, witness Shakespeare and the 
Indian Mutiny. Witness that truly sublime 
self-abnegation of those prisoners lately among 
the bandits of Greece, where average men gave 
an example of quiet fortitude for which all the 
stoicism of antiquity can show no match. Wit- 
ness the wreck of the Birkenhead, an example 
of disciplined heroism, perhaps the most pre- 
cious, as the rarest, of all. If we could con- 
trive to be not too unobtrusively our simple 
selves, we should be the most delightful of 
human beings, and the most original ; whereas, 
when the plating of Anglicism rubs off, as it al- 
ways will in points that come to much wear, we 
are liable to very unpleasing conjectures about 
the quality of the metal underneath. Perhaps 
one reason why the average Briton spreads 
himself here with such an easy air of superior- 
ity may be owing to the fact that he meets 
with so many bad imitations as to conclude 
himself the only real thing in a wilderness of 
shams. He fancies himself moving through an 
endless Bloomsbury, where his mere apparition 
confers honor as an avatar of the court-end 
of the universe. Not a Bull of them all but 
is persuaded he bears Europa upon his back. 
This is the sort of fellow whose patronage is 
so divertingly insufferable. Thank Heaven he 
is not the only specimen of cater-cousinship 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 3^5 

from the dear old Mother Island that Is shown 
to us ! Among genuine things, I know no- 
thing more genuine than the better men whose 
limbs were made in England. So manly-tender, 
so brave, so true, so warranted to wear, they 
make us proud to feel that blood is thicker 
than water. 

But it is not merely the Englishman ; every 
European candidly admits in himself some right 
of primogeniture in respect of us, and pats this 
shaggy continent on the back with a lively 
sense of generous unbending. The German who 
plays the bass-viol has a well-founded contempt, 
which he is not always nice in concealing, for a 
country so few of whose children ever take that 
noble instrument between their knees. His 
cousin, the Ph. D. from Gottingen, cannot help 
despising a people who do not grow loud and 
red over Aryans and Turanians, and are indif- 
ferent about their descent from either. The 
Frenchman feels an easy mastery in speaking 
his mother tongue, and attributes it to some 
native superiority of parts that lifts him high 
above us barbarians of the West. The Italian 
prima donna sweeps a curtsy of careless pity to 
the over-facile pit which unsexes her with the 
bravo ! innocently meant to show a familiarity 
with foreign usage. But all without exception 
make no secret of regarding us as the goose 
bound to deliver them a golden egg in return 



3i6 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

for their cackle. Such men as Agassiz, Guyot. 
and Goldwin Smith come with gifts in their 
hands ; but since it is commonly European 
failures who bring hither their remarkable gifts 
and acquirements, this view of the case is some- 
times just the least bit in the world provoking. 
To think what a delicious seclusion of contempt 
we enjoyed till California and our own ostenta- 
tious ^^rx'd'«z/j, flinging gold away in Europe that 
might have endowed libraries at home, gave us 
the ill repute of riches ! What a shabby down- 
fall from the Arcadia which the French officers 
of our Revolutionary War fancied they saw here 
through Rousseau-tinted . spectacles ! Some- 
thing of Arcadia there really was, something of 
the Old Age; and that divine provincialism 
were cheaply repurchased could we have it back 
again in exchange for the tawdry upholstery 
that has taken its place. 

For some reason or other, the European has 
rarely been able to see America except in cari- 
cature. Would the first Review of the world 
have printed the niaiseries of M. Maurice Sand 
as a picture of society in any civilized country ? 
M. Sand, to be sure, has inherited nothing of 
his famous mother's literary outfit, except the 
pseudonym. But since the conductors of the 
Revue could not have published his story be- 
cause it was clever, they must have thought 
it valuable for its truth. As true as the last- 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 317 

century Englishman's picture of Jean Crapaud ! 
We do not ask to be sprinkled with rosewater, 
but may perhaps fairly protest against being 
drenched with the rinsings of an unclean im- 
agination. The next time the Revue allows such 
ill-bred persons to throw their slops out of its 
first-floor windows, let it honestly preface the 
discharge with a gare Feau ! that we may run 
from under in season. And M. Duvergier de 
Hauranne, who knows how to be entertaining ! 
I know that le Fran^ais est plutbt indiscret que 
confiant^ and the pen slides too easily when in- 
discretions will fetch so much a page; but should 
we not have been tant-soit-peu more cautious 
had we been writing about people on the other 
side of the Channel ? But then it is a fact in 
the natural history of the American, long famil- 
iar to Europeans, that he abhors privacy, knows 
not the meaning of reserve, lives in hotels be- 
cause of their greater publicity, and is never so 
pleased as when his domestic affairs (if he may 
be said to have any) are paraded in the news- 
papers. Barnum, it is well known, represents 
perfectly the average national sentiment in this 
respect. However it be, we are not treated like 
other people, or perhaps I should say like 
people who are ever likely to be met with in 
society. 

Is it in the climate? Either I have a false 
notion of European manners, or else the atmo- 



3i8 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

sphere affects them strangely when exported 
hither. Perhaps they suffer from the sea voyage 
like some of the more delicate wines. During 
our civil war an English gentleman of the 
highest description was kind enough to call 
upon me, mainly, as it seemed, to inform me 
how entirely he sympathized with the Confed- 
erates, and how sure he felt that we could never 
subdue them, — "they were the gentlemen of 
the country, you know." Another, the first 
greetings hardly over, asked me how I accounted 
for the universal meagreness of my countrymen. 
To a thinner man than I, or from a stouter 
man than he, the question might have been of- 
fensive. The Marquis of Hartington' wore a 
secession badge at a public ball in New York. 
In a civilized country he might have been 
roughly handled ; but here, where the biens'eances 
are not so well understood, of course nobody 
minded it. A French traveller told me he 
had been a good deal in the British colonies, 
and had been astonished to see how soon the 
people became Americanized. He added, with 

» One of Mr. Lincoln's neatest strokes of humor was his 
treatment of this gentleman when a laudable curiosity induced 
him to be presented to the President of the Broken Bubble. 
Mr. Lincoln persisted in calling him Mr. Partington. Surely 
the refinement of good breeding could go no further. Giving 
the young man his real name (already notorious in the news- 
papers) would have made his visit an insult. Had Henri IV. 
done this, it would have been famous. 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 3^9 

delightful bonhomie^ and as if he were sure it 
would charm me, that " they even began to 
talk through their noses, just like you ! " I was 
naturally ravished with this testimony to the 
assimilating power of democracy, and could only 
reply that I hoped they would never adopt our 
democratic patent method of seeming to settle 
one's honest debts, for they would find it pay- 
ing through the nose in the long run. I am 
a man of the New World, and do not know 
precisely the present fashion of May-Fair, but 
I have a kind of feeling that if an American 
[mutato nomine, de te is always frightfully pos- 
sible) were to do this kind of thing under a 
European roof, it would induce some disagree- 
able reflections as to the ethical results of de- 
mocracy. I read the other day in print the remark 
of a British tourist who had eaten large quanti- 
ties of our salt, such as it is (I grant it has not 
the European savor), that the Americans were 
hospitable, no doubt, but that it was partly be- 
cause they longed for foreign visitors to relieve 
the tedium of their dead-level existence, and 
partly from ostentation. What shall we do ? 
Shall we close our doors ? Not I, for one, if I 
should so have forfeited the friendship of L. S., 
most lovable of men. He somehow seems to 
find us human, at least, and so did Clough, 
whose poetry will one of these days, perhaps, 
be found to have been the best utterance in 



320 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

verse of this generation. And T. H., the mere 
grasp of whose manly hand carries with it the 
pledge of frankness and friendship, of an abid- 
ing simplicity" of nature as affecting as it is rare ! 
The fine old Tory aversion of former times 
was not hard to bear. There was something 
even refreshing in it, as in a northeaster to a 
hardy temperament. When a British parson, 
travelling in Newfoundland while the slash of 
our separation was still raw, after prophesying 
a glorious future for an island that continued 
to dry its fish under the aegis of Saint George, 
glances disdainfully over his spectacles in part- 
ing at the U. S. A., and forebodes for them a 
" speedy relapse into barbarism," now that they 
have madly cut themselves off from the human- 
izing influences of Britain, I smile with barbarian 
self-conceit. But this kind of thing became by 
degrees an unpleasant anachronism. For mean- 
while the young giant was growing, was begin- 
ning indeed to feel tight in his clothes, was 
obliged to let in a gore here and there in Texas, 
in California, in New Mexico, in Alaska, and 
had the scissors and needle and thread ready 
for Canada when the time came. His shadow 
loomed like a Brocken-spectre over against 
Europe, — the shadow of what they were com- 
ing to, that was the unpleasant part of it. Even 
in such misty image as they had of him, it was 
painfully evident that his clothes were not of 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 321 

any cut hitherto fashionable, nor conceivable by 
a Bond Street tailor, — and this in an age, too, 
when everything depends upon clothes, when, 
if we do not keep up appearances, the seeming- 
solid frame of this universe, nay, your very God, 
would slump into himself, like a mockery king 
of snow, being nothing, after all, but a prevail- 
ing mode, a make-believe of believing. From 
this moment the young giant assumed the re- 
spectable aspect of a phenomenon, to be got rid 
of if possible, but at any rate as legitimate a 
subject of human study as the glacial period or 
the silurian what-d'ye-call-ems. If the man of 
the primeval drift-heaps be so absorbingly inter- 
esting, why not the man of the drift that is just 
beginning, of the drift into whose irresistible 
current we are just being sucked whether we 
will or no ? If I were in their place, I confess 
I should not be frightened. Man has survived 
so much, and contrived to be comfortable on 
this planet after surviving so much ! I am some- 
thing of a protestant in matters of government 
also, and am willing to get rid of vestments and 
ceremonies and to come down to bare benches, 
if only faith in God take the place of a general 
agreement to profess confidence in ritual and 
sham. Every mortal man of us holds stock in 
the only public debt that is absolutely sure of 
payment, and that is the debt of the Maker 
of this Universe to the Universe he has made. 



322 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

I have no notion of selling out my shares in 
a panic. 

It was something to have advanced even to 
the dignity of a phenomenon, and yet I do not 
know that the relation of the individual Ameri- 
can to the individual European was bettered by 
it ; and that, after all, must adjust itself com- 
fortably before there can be a right understand- 
ing between the two. We had been a desert, 
we became a museum. People came hither for 
scientific and not social ends. The very cock- 
ney could not complete his education without 
taking a vacant stare at us in passing. But the 
sociologists (I think they call themselves so) 
were the hardest to bear. There was no escape. 
I have even known a professor of this fearful 
science to come disguised in petticoats. We 
were cross-examined as a chemist cross-examines 
a new substance. Human? yes, all the elements 
are present, though abnormally combined. Civ- 
ilized ? Hm ! that needs a stricter assay. No 
entomologist could take a more friendly interest 
in a strange bug. After a few such experiences, 
I, for one, have felt as if I were merely one of 
those horrid things preserved in spirits (and 
very bad spirits, too) in a cabinet. I was not the 
fellow being of these explorers : I was a curi- 
osity ; I was a specimen. Hath not an American 
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, 
even as a European hath ? If you prick us, do 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 323 

we not bleed ? If you tickle us, do we not laugh ? 
I will not keep on with Shylock to his next 
question but one. 

Till after our civil war it never seemed to 
enter the head of any foreigner, especially of any 
Englishman, that an American had what could 
be called a country, except as a place to eat, 
sleep, and trade in. Then it seemed to strike 
them suddenly. " By Jove, you know, fellahs 
don't fight like that for a shop-till ! " No, I 
rather think not. To Americans America is 
something more than a promise and an expec- 
tation. It has a past and traditions of its own. 
A descent from men who sacrificed everything 
and came hither, not to better their fortunes, 
but to plant their idea in virgin soil, should be 
a good pedigree. There was never colony save 
this that went forth, not to seek gold, but God. 
Is it not as well to have sprung from such as 
these as from some burly beggar who came over 
with Wilhelmus Conquestor, unless, indeed, a 
line grow better as it runs farther away from 
stalwart ancestors ? And for our history, it is 
dry enough, no doubt, in the books, but, for all 
that, is of a kind that tells in the blood. I have 
admitted that Carlyle's sneer had a show of 
truth in it. But what does he himself, like a 
true Scot, admire in the Hohenzollerns ? First 
of all, that they were canny ^ a thrifty, forehanded 
race. Next, that they made a good fight from 



324 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

generation to generation with the chaos around 
them. That is precisely the battle which the 
English race on this continent has been pushing 
doughtily forward for two centuries and a half. 
Doughtily and silently, for you cannot hear in 
Europe " that crash, the death-song of the per- 
fect tree," that has been going on here from 
sturdy father to sturdy son, and making this 
continent habitable for the weaker Old World 
breed that has swarmed to it during the last 
half century. If ever men did a good stroke 
of work on this planet, it was the forefathers of 
those whom you are wondering whether it would 
not be prudent to acknowledge as far-off cou- 
sins. Alas, man of genius, to whom we owe 
so much, could you see nothing more than 
the burning of a foul chimney in that clash of 
Michael and Satan which flamed up under your 
very eyes ? 

Before our war we were to Europe but a huge 
mob of adventurers and shopkeepers. Leigh 
Hunt expressed it well enough when he said 
that he could never think of America without 
seeing a gigantic counter stretched all along the 
seaboard. And Leigh Hunt, without knowing 
it, had been more than half Americanized, too ! 
Feudalism had by degrees made commerce, the 
great civilizer, contemptible. But a tradesman 
with sword on thigh and very prompt of stroke 
was not only redoubtable, he had become re- 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 3^5 

spectable also. Few people, I suspect, alluded 
twice to a needle in Sir John Hawkwood's pre- 
sence, after that doughty fighter had exchanged 
it for a more dangerous tool of the same metal. 
Democracy had been hitherto only a ludicrous 
effort to reverse the laws of nature by thrusting 
Cleon into the place of Pericles. But a demo- 
cracy that could fight for an abstraction, whose 
members held life and goods cheap compared 
with that larger life which we call country, was 
not merely unheard of, but portentous. It was 
the nightmare of the Old World taking upon 
itself flesh and blood, turning out to be sub- 
stance and not dream. Since the Norman cru- 
sader clanged down upon the throne of the 
porphyro-geniti^ carefully draped appearances 
had never received such a shock, had never been 
so rudely called on to produce their titles to 
the empire of the world. Authority has had its 
periods not unlike those of geology, and at last 
comes Man claiming kingship in right of his 
mere manhood. The world of the Saurians 
might be in some respects more picturesque, but 
the march of events is inexorable, and that world 
is bygone. 

The young giant had certainly got out of 
long clothes. He had become the enfant terrible 
of the human household. It was not and will 
not be easy for the world (especially for our 
British cousins) to look upon us as grown up. 



326 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

The youngest of nations, its people must also be 
young and to be treated accordingly, was the 
syllogism, — as if libraries did not make all na- 
tions equally old in all those respects, at least, 
where age is an advantage and not a defect. 
Youth, no doubt, has its good qualities, as people 
feel who are losing it, but boyishness is another 
thing. We had been somewhat boyish as a na- 
tion, a little loud, a little pushing, a little brag- 
gart. But might it not partly have been because 
we felt that we had certain claims to respect that 
were not admitted ? The war which established 
our position as a vigorous nationality has also 
sobered us. A nation, like a man, cannot look 
death in the eye for four years without some 
strange reflections, without arriving at some 
clearer consciousness of the stuff it is made of, 
without some great moral change. Such a 
change, or the beginning of it, no observant per- 
son can fail to see here. Our thought and our 
politics, our bearing as a people, are assuming 
a manlier tone. We have been compelled to see 
what was weak in democracy as well as what was 
strong. We have begun obscurely to recognize 
that things do not go of themselves, and that 
popular government is not in itself a panacea, is 
no better than any other form except as the vir- 
tue and wisdom of the people make it so, and 
that when men undertake to do their own king- 
ship, they enter upon the dangers and responsi- 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 327 

bilities as well as the privileges of the function. 
Above all, it looks as if we were on the way to 
be persuaded that no government can be carried 
on by declamation. It is noticeable also that 
facility of communication has made the best 
English and French thought far more directly 
operative here than ever before. Without being 
Europeanized, our discussion of important ques- 
tions in statesmanship, in political economy, in 
aesthetics, is taking a broader scope and a higher 
tone. It had certainly been provincial, one 
might almost say local, to a very unpleasant ex- 
tent. Perhaps our experience in soldiership has 
taught us to value training more than we have 
been popularly wont. We may possibly come to 
the conclusion, one of these days, that self-made 
men may not be always equally skilful in the 
manufacture of wisdom, may not be divinely 
commissioned to fabricate the higher qualities 
of opinion on all possible topics of human inter- 
est. 

So long as we continue to be the most com- 
mon-schooled and the least cultivated people in 
the world, I suppose we must consent to endure 
this condescending manner of foreigners toward 
us. The more friendly they mean to be, the 
more ludicrously prominent it becomes. They 
can never appreciate the immense amount of 
silent work that has been done here, making 
this continent slowly fit for the abode of man. 



328 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

and which will demonstrate itself, let us hope, 
in the character of the people. Outsiders can 
only be expected to judge a nation by the 
amount it has contributed to the civilization of 
the world; the amount, that is, that can be seen 
and handled. A great place in history can only 
be achieved by competitive examinations, nay, 
by a long course of them. How much new 
thought have we contributed to the common 
stock ? Till that question can be triumphantly 
answered, or needs no answer, we must continue 
to be simply interesting as an experiment, to be 
studied as a problem, and not respected as an 
attained result or an accomplished solution. 
Perhaps, as I have hinted, their patronizing 
manner toward us is the fair result of their fail- 
ing to see here anything more than a poor 
imitation, a plaster cast of Europe. And are 
they not partly right? If the tone of the un- 
cultivated American has too often the arrogance 
of the barbarian, is not that of the cultivated 
as often vulgarly apologetic? In the America 
they meet with is there the simplicity, the man- 
liness, the absence of sham, the sincere human 
nature, the sensitiveness to duty and implied 
obligation, that in any way distinguishes us 
from what our orators call " the effete civiliza- 
tion of the Old World " ? Is there a politician 
among us daring enough (except a Dana here 
and there) to risk his future on the chance of 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 329 

our keeping our word with the exactness of 
superstitious communities like England ? Is it 
certain that we shall be ashamed of a bankruptcy 
of honor, if we can only keep the letter of our 
bond ? I hope we shall be able to answer all 
these questions with a fra.nk.yes. At any rate, 
we would advise our visitors that we are not 
merely curious creatures, but belong to the 
family of man, and that, as individuals, we are 
not to be always subjected to the competitive 
examination above mentioned, even if we ac- 
knowledged their competence as an examining 
board. Above all, we beg them to remember 
that America is not to us, as to them, a mere 
object of external interest to be discussed and 
analyzed, but in us, part of our very marrow. 
Let them not suppose that we conceive of our- 
selves as exiles from the graces and amenities 
of an older date than we, though very much at 
home in a state of things not yet all it might be 
or should be, but which we mean to make so, 
and which we find both wholesome and plea- 
sant for men (though perhaps not for dilettanti) 
to live in. " The full tide of human existence " 
may be felt here as keenly as Johnson felt it at 
Charing Cross, and in a larger sense. I know 
one person who is singular enough to think 
Cambridge the very best spot on the habitable 
globe. " Doubtless God could have made a 
better, but doubtless he never did." 



330 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

It will take England a great while to get over 
her airs of patronage toward us, or even passably 
to conceal them. She cannot help confounding 
the people with the country, and regarding us 
as lusty juveniles. She has a conviction that 
whatever good there is in us is wholly English, 
when the truth is that we are worth nothing 
except so far as we have disinfected ourselves 
of Anglicism. She is especially condescending 
just now, and lavishes sugar-plums on us as if 
we had not outgrown them. I am no believer 
in sudden conversions, especially in sudden 
conversions to a favorable opinion of people 
who have just proved you to be mistaken in 
judgment and therefore unwise in policy. I 
never blamed her for not wishing well to de- 
mocracy, — how should she? — but Alabamas 
are not wishes. Let her not be too hasty in 
believing Mr. Reverdy Johnson's pleasant 
words. Though there is no thoughtful man in 
America who would not consider a war with 
England the greatest of calamities, yet the feel- 
ing toward her here is very far from cordial, 
whatever our Minister may say in the effusion 
that comes after ample dining. Mr. Adams, 
with his famous " My Lord, this means war," 
perfectly represented his country. Justly or 
not, we have a feeling that we have been 
wronged, not merely insulted. The only sure 



CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 331 

way of bringing about a healthy relation be- 
tween the two countries is for Englishmen to 
clear their minds of the notion that we are 
always to be treated as a kind of inferior and 
deported Englishman whose nature they per- 
fectly understand, and whose back they accord- 
ingly stroke the wrong way of the fur with 
amazing perseverance. Let them learn to treat 
us naturally on our merits as human beings, as 
they would a German or a Frenchman, and not 
as if we were a kind of counterfeit Briton whose 
crime appeared in every shade of difference, and 
before long there would come that right feeling 
which we naturally call a good understanding. 
The common blood, and still more the com- 
mon language, are fatal instruments of misap- 
prehension. Let them give up trying to under- 
stand us, still more thinking that they do, and 
acting in various absurd ways as the necessary 
consequence, for they will never arrive at that 
devoutly-to-be-wished consummation till they 
learn to look at us as we are and not as they 
suppose us to be. Dear old long-estranged 
mother-in-law, it is a great many years since we 
parted. Since 1660, when you married again, 
you have been a step-mother to us. Put on 
your spectacles, dear madam. Yes, we have 
grown, and changed likewise. You would not 
let us darken your doors, if you could help it. 



332 CONDESCENSION IN FOREIGNERS 

We know that perfectly well. But pray, when 
we look to be treated as men, don't shake that 
rattle in our faces, nor talk baby to us any 
longer. 

" Do, child, go to it grandam, child; 

Give grandam kingdom, and it grandam will 
Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig ! " 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

1870 

MEN scarcely know how beautiful fire 
is," says Shelley ; and I am apt to 
think there are a good many other 
things concerning which their knowledge might 
be largely increased without becoming burden- 
some. Nor are they altogether reluctant to be 
taught, — not so reluctant, perhaps, as unable, 
— and education is sure to find one fulcrum 
ready to her hand by which to get a purchase 
on them. For most of us, I have noticed, are 
not without an amiable willingness to assist at 
any spectacle or entertainment (loosely so called) 
for which no fee is charged at the door. If 
special tickets are sent us, another element of 
pleasure is added in a sense of privilege and 
preeminence (pitiably scarce in a democracy) 
so deeply rooted in human nature that I have 
seen people take a strange satisfaction in being 
near of kin to the mute chief personage in a fu- 
neral. It gave them a moment's advantage over 
the rest of us whose grief was rated at a lower 
place in the procession. But the words "admis- 
sion free " at the bottom of a handbill, though 
holding out no bait of inequality, have yet a 



336 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

singular charm for many minds, especially in 
the country. There is something touching in the 
constancy with which men attend free lectures, 
and in the honest patience with which they 
listen to them. He who pays may yawn or 
shift testily in his seat, or even go out with an 
awful reverberation of criticism, for he has 
bought the right to do any or all of these and 
paid for it. But gratuitous hearers are anaesthe- 
tized to suffering by a sense of virtue. They 
are performing perhaps the noblest, as it is one 
of the most difficult, of human functions in 
getting Something (no matter how small) for 
Nothing. They are not pestered by the awful 
duty of securing their money's worth. They 
are wasting time, to do which elegantly and 
without lassitude is the highest achievement of 
civilization. If they are cheated, it is, at worst, 
only of a superfluous hour which was rotting 
on their hands. Not only is mere amusement 
made more piquant, but instruction more pal- 
atable, by this universally relished sauce of 
gratuity. And if the philosophic observer finds 
an object of agreeable contemplation in the 
audience, as they listen to a discourse on the 
probability of making missionaries go down 
better with the Feejee-Islanders by balancing 
the hymn-book in one pocket with a bottle of 
Worcestershire in the other, or to a plea for 
arming the female gorilla with the ballot, he 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 337 

also takes a friendly interest in the lecturer, and 
admires the wise economy of Nature who thus 
contrives an ample field of honest labor for her 
bores. Even when the insidious hat is passed 
round after one of these eleemosynary feasts, 
the relish is but heightened by a conscientious 
refusal to disturb the satisfaction's completeness 
with the rattle of a single contributory penny. 
So firmly persuaded am I of this ^r^//j-instinct 
in our common humanity that I believe I could 
fill a house by advertising a free lecture on 
Tupper considered as a philosophic poet, or on 
my personal recollections of the late James K. 
Polk. This being so, I have sometimes won- 
dered that the peep-shows which Nature pro- 
vides with such endless variety for her children, 
and to which we are admitted on the bare con- 
dition of having eyes, should be so generally 
neglected. To be sure, eyes are not so common 
as people think, or poets would be plentier, 
and perhaps also these exhibitions of hers are 
cheapened in estimation by the fact that in en- 
joying them we are not getting the better of 
anybody else. Your true lovers of nature, how- 
ever, contrive to get even this solace ; and 
Wordsworth, looking upon mountains as his 
own peculiar sweethearts, was jealous of any- 
body else who ventured upon even the most 
innocent flirtation with them. h.%\i such fellows, 
indeed, could pretend to that nicer sense of 



338 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

what-d'ye-call-it which was so remarkable in 
him ! Marry come up ! Mountains, no doubt, 
may inspire a profounder and more exclusive 
passion, but on the whole I am not sorry to have 
been born and bred among more domestic 
scenes, where I can be hospitable without a 
pang. I am going to ask you presently to take 
potluck with me at a board where Winter shall 
supply whatever there is of cheer. 

I think the old fellow has hitherto had scant 
justice done him in the main. We make him 
the symbol of old age or death, and think we 
have settled the matter. As if old age were never 
kindly as well as frosty ; as if it had no reverend 
graces of its own as good in their way as the 
noisy impertinence of childhood, the elbowing 
self-conceit of youth, or the pompous medio- 
crity of middle life ! As if there were anything 
discreditable in death, or nobody had ever longed 
for it ! Suppose we grant that Winter is the sleep 
of the year, what then ? I take it upon me to 
say that his dreams are finer than the best reality 
of his waking rivals. 

"Sleep, Silence' child, the father of soft Rest," 

is a very agreeable acquaintance, and most of us 
are better employed in his company than any- 
where else. For my own part, I think Winter 
a pretty wide-awake old boy, and his bluff sin- 
cerity and hearty ways are more congenial to 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 339 

my mood, and more wholesome for me, than 
any charms of which his rivals are capable. 
Spring is a fickle mistress, who either does not 
know her own mind, or is so long in making it 
up, whether you shall have her or not have her, 
that one gets tired at last of her pretty miffs and 
reconciliations. You go to her to be cheered up 
a bit, and ten to one catch her in the sulks, 
expecting you to find enough good humor for 
both. After she has become Mrs. Summer she 
grows a little more staid in her demeanor ; and 
her abundant table, where you are sure to get 
the earliest fruits and vegetables of the season, 
is a good foundation for steady friendship ; but 
she has lost that delicious aroma of maidenhood, 
and what was delicately rounded grace in the 
girl gives more than hints of something like 
redundance in the matron. Autumn is the poet 
of the family. He gets you up a splendor that 
you would say was made out of real sunset ; but 
it is nothing more than a few hectic leaves, when 
all is done. He is but a sentimentalist, after 
all ; a kind of Lamartine whining along the an- 
cestral avenues he has made bare timber of, and 
begging a contribution of good spirits from your 
own savings to keep him in countenance. But 
Winter has his delicate sensibilities too, only he 
does not make them as good as indelicate by 
thrusting them forever in your face. He is a 
better poet than Autumn, when he has a mind. 



3+0 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

but, like a truly great one as he is, he brings 
you down to your bare manhood, and bids you 
understand him out of that, with no adventi- 
tious helps of association, or he will none of 
you. He does not touch those melancholy 
chords on which Autumn is as great a master as 
Heine. Well, is there no such thing as thrum- 
ming on them and maundering over them till 
they get out of tune, and you wish some manly 
hand would crash through them and leave them 
dangling brokenly forever ? Take Winter as you 
find him, and he turns out to be a thoroughly 
honest fellow, with no nonsense in him, and 
tolerating none in you, which is a great comfort 
in the long run. He is not what they call a 
genial critic ; but bring a real man along with 
you, and you will find there is a crabbed gen- 
erosity about the old cynic that you would not 
exchange for all the creamy concessions of 
Autumn, " Season of mists and mellow fruitful- 
ness," quotha ? That 's just it ; Winter soon 
blows your head clear of fog and makes you 
see things as they are ; I thank him for it ! The 
truth is, between ourselves, I have a very good 
opinion of the whole family, who always wel- 
come me without making me feel as if I were 
too much of a poor relation. There ought to 
be some kind of distance, never so little, you 
know, to give the true relish. They are as good 
company, the worst of them, as any I know, and 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 341 

I am not a little flattered by a condescension 
from any one of them ; but I happen to hold 
Winter's retainer, this time, and, like an honest 
advocate, am bound to make as good a show- 
ing as I can for him, even if it cost a few slurs 
upon the rest of the household. Moreover, 
Winter is coming, and one would like to get on 
the blind side of him. 

The love of Nature in and for herself, or as 
a mirror for the moods of the mind, is a mod- 
ern thing. The fleeing to her as an escape from 
man was brought into fashion by Rousseau ; for 
his prototype Petrarch, though he had a taste 
for pretty scenery, had a true antique horror for 
the grander aspects of nature. He got once to 
the top of Mont Ventoux, but it is very plain 
that he did not enjoy it. Indeed, it is only 
within a century or so that the search after the 
picturesque has been a safe employment. It is 
not so even now in Greece or Southern Italy. 
Where the Anglo-Saxon carves his cold fowl, 
and leaves the relics of his picnic, the ancient 
or mediaeval man might be pretty confident 
that some rufiian would try the edge of his knife 
on a chicken of the Platonic sort, and leave more 
precious bones as an offering to the genius of the 
place. The ancients were certainly more social 
than we, though that, perhaps, was natural enough, 
when a good part of the world was still covered 
with forest. They huddled together in cities as 



342 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

well for safety as to keep their minds warm. 
The Romans had a fondness for country life, 
but they had fine roads, and Rome was always 
within easy reach. The author of the Book of 
Job is the earliest I know of who showed any 
profound sense of the moral meaning of the out- 
ward world ; and I think none has approached 
him since, though Wordsworth comes nearest 
with the first two books of the Prelude. But their 
feeling is not precisely of the kind I speak of as 
modern, and which gave rise to what is called 
descriptive poetry. Chaucer opens his Clerk's 
Tale with a bit of landscape admirable for its 
large style, and as well composed as any Claude. 

*' There is right at the west end of Itaille, 
Down at the root of Vesulus the cold, 
A lusty plain abundant of vitaille. 
Where many a tower and town thou mayst behold. 
That founded were in time of fathers old. 
And many an other delectable sight; 
And Saluces this noble country hight." 

What an airy precision of touch there is here, 
and what a sure eye for the points of character 
in landscape ! But the picture is altogether sub- 
sidiary. No doubt the works of Salvator Rosa 
and Caspar Poussin show that there must have 
been some amateur taste for the grand and ter- 
rible in scenery ; but the British poet Thomson 
(" sweet-souled " is Wordsworth's apt word) was 
the first to do with words what they had done 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 343 

partially with colors. He was turgid, no good 
metrist, and his English is like a translation from 
one of those poets who wrote in Latin after it 
was dead ; but he was a man of sincere genius, 
and not only English, but European literature 
is largely in his debt. He was the inventor of 
cheap amusement for the million, to be had of 
All-out-doors for the asking. It was his impulse 
which unconsciously gave direction to Rousseau, 
and it is to the school of Jean Jacques that we 
owe St. Pierre, Cowper, Chateaubriand, Words- 
worth, Byron, Lamartine, George Sand, Rus- 
kin, — the great painters of ideal landscape. 

So long as men had slender means, whether 
of keeping out cold or checkmating it with ar- 
tificial heat. Winter was an unwelcome guest, 
especially in the country. There he was the 
bearer of a lettre de cachet^ which shut its vic- 
tims in solitary confinement with few resources 
but to boose round the fire and repeat ghost- 
stories, which had lost all their freshness and 
none of their terror. To go to bed was to lie 
awake of cold, with an added shudder of fright 
whenever a loose casement or a waving cur- 
tain chose to give you the goose-flesh. Bussy 
Rabutin, in one of his letters, gives us a notion 
how uncomfortable it was in the country, with 
green wood, smoky chimneys, and doors and 
windows that thought it was their duty to make 
the wind whistle, not to keep it out. With fuel 



344 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

so dear, it could not have been much better in 
the city, to judge by Menage's warning against 
the danger of our dressing-gowns taking fire, 
while we cuddle too closely over the sparing 
blaze. The poet of Winter himself is said to 
have written in bed, with his hand through a 
hole in the blanket ; and we may suspect that 
it was the warmth quite as much as the company 
that first drew men together at the cofi^ee-house. 
Coleridge, in January, 1800, writes to Wedge- 
wood : " I am sitting by a fire in a rug great- 
coat. ... It is most barbarously cold, and 
you, I fear, can shield yourself from it only by 
perpetual imprisonment." This thermometrical 
view of Winter is, I grant, a depressing one ; for 
I think there is nothing so demoralizing as cold. 
I know of a boy who, when his father, a bitter 
economist, was brought home dead, said only, 
" Now we can burn as much wood as we like." 
I would not off-hand prophesy the gallows for 
that boy. I remember with a shudder a pinch 
I got from the cold once in a railroad-car. A 
born fanatic of fresh air, I found myself glad 
to see the windows hermetically sealed by the 
freezing vapor of our breath, and plotted the 
assassination of the conductor every time he 
opened the door. I felt myself sensibly barba- 
rizing, and would have shared Colonel Jack's 
bed in the ash-hole of the glass-furnace with 
a grateful heart. Since then I have had more 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 345 

charity for the prevailing ill opinion of Winter. 
It was natural enough that Ovid should mea- 
sure the years of his exile in Pontus by the num- 
ber of winters. 

Ut sumus in Ponto, ter frigore constitit Ister, 
Facta est Euxini dura ter unda maris: 

Thrice hath the cold bound Ister fast, since I 
In Pontus was, thrice Euxine's wave made hard. 

Jubinal has printed an Anglo-Norman piece of 
doggerel in which Winter and Summer dis- 
pute which is the better man. It is not without 
a kind of rough and inchoate humor, and I like 
it because old Whitebeard gets tolerably fair 
play. The jolly old fellow boasts of his rate of 
living, with that contempt of poverty which is 
the weak spot in the burly English nature. 

Ja Dieu ne place que me avyenge 
Que ne face plus honour 
Et plus despenz en un soul jour 
Que vus en tote vostre vie: 

Now God forbid it hap to me 
That I make not more great display. 
And spend more in a single day 
Than you can do in all your life. 

The best touch, perhaps, is Winter's claim for 
credit as a mender of the highways, which was 
not without point when every road in Europe 
was a quagmire during a good part of the year 
unless it was bottomed on some remains of Ro- 
man engineering. 



346 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

Je su, fet-il, seignur et mestre 
Et a bon droit le dey estre. 
Quant de la bowe face cauce 
Par un petit de geele: 

Master and lord I am, says he. 
And of good right so ought to be. 
Since I make causeys, safely crost. 
Of mud, with just a pinch of frost. 

But there is no recognition of Winter as the 
best of out-door company/ 

Even Emerson, an open-air man, and a 
bringer of it, if ever any, confesses, 

" The frost-king ties my fumbling feet. 
Sings in my ear, my hands are stones. 
Curdles the blood to the marble bones. 
Tugs at the heartstrings, numbs the sense. 
And hems in life with narrowing fence." 

Winter was literally " the inverted year," as 
Thomson called him ; for such entertainments 
as could be had must be got within doors. What 
cheerfulness there was in brumal verse was that 
of Horace's dissolve frigus ligna super foco large 
reponenSy so pleasantly associated with the clever- 
est scene in " Roderick Random." This is the 

^ Mais vous Yver, trop estes plain 
De nege, vent, pluye, e grezil; 
Ou vous deust bannir en exil; 
Sans point flater, je parle plain, 
Yver vous n' estes qu'un vUain. 

Ch. d' Orleans, Chans, xciv. 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 347 

tone of that poem of Walton's friend Cotton, 
which won the praise of Wordsworth : — 

" Let us home. 
Our mortal enemy is come; 
Winter and all his blustering train 
Have made a voyage o'er the main. 

•* Fly, fly, the foe advances fast; 
Into our fortress let us haste. 
Where all the roarers of the north 
Can neither storm nor starve us forth. 

** There underground a magazine 
Of sovereign juice is cellared in. 
Liquor that will the siege maintain 
Should Phcjebus ne'er return again. 

*« Whilst we together jovial sit 

Careless, and crowned with mirth and wit. 
Where, though bleak winds confine us home. 
Our fancies round the world shall roam." 

Thomson's view of Winter is also, on the whole, 
a hostile one, though he does justice to his 
grandeur. 

" Thus Winter falls, 
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world. 
Through Nature shedding influence malign." 

He finds his consolations, like Cotton, in the 
house, though more refined : — 

" While without 
The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat 
Between the groaning forest and the shore 
Beat by the boundless multitude of waves. 



348 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

A rural, sheltered, solitary scene. 
Where ruddy fire and beammg tapers join 
To cheer the gloom. There studious let me sit 
And hold high converse with the mighty dead." 

Doctor Akenside, a man to be spoken of with 
respect, follows Thomson. With him, too, 
" Winter desolates the year," and 

** How pleasing wears the wintry night 
Spent with the old illustrious dead ! 
WhUe by the taper's trembling light 
I seem those awful scenes to tread 
Where chiefs or legislators lie," etc. 

Akenside had evidently been reading Thom- 
son. He had the conceptions of a great poet 
with less faculty than many a little one, and is 
one of those versifiers of whom it is enough to 
say that we are always willing to break him off 
in the middle (as I have ventured to do) with 
an etc., well knowing that what follows is but 
the coming-round again of what went before, 
marching in a circle with the cheap numerosity 
of a stage army. In truth, it is no wonder that 
the short days of that cloudy northern climate 
should have added to Winter a gloom borrowed 
of the mind. We hardly know, till we have 
experienced the contrast, how sensibly our win- 
ter is alleviated by the longer daylight and the 
pellucid atmosphere. I once spent a winter in 
Dresden, a southern climate compared with 
England, and really almost lost my respect for 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 349 

the sun when I saw him groping among the 
chimney-pots opposite my windows as he de- 
scribed his impoverished arc in the sky. The 
enforced seclusion of the season makes it the 
time for serious study and occupations that de- 
mand fixed incomes of unbroken time. This is 
why Milton said " that his vein never happily 
flowed but from the autumnal equinox to the 
vernal," though in his twentieth year he had 
written, on the return of spring, — 

Fallor ? an et nobis redeunt in carmina vires 
Ingeniumque mihi munere veris adest ? 

Err I ? or do the powers of song return 
To me, and genius too, the gifts of Spring ? 

Goethe, so far as I remember, was the first 
to notice the cheerfulness of snow in sunshine. 
His " Harz-reise im Winter " gives no hint of it, 
for that is a diluted reminiscence of Greek tragic 
choruses and the Book of Job in nearly equal 
parts. In one of the singularly interesting and 
characteristic letters to Frau von Stein, however, 
written during the journey, he says : "It is 
beautiful indeed ; the mist heaps itself together 
in light snow-clouds, the sun looks through, and 
the snow over everything gives back a feeling 
of gayety." But I find in Cowper the first re- 
cognition of a general amiability in Winter. The 
gentleness of his temper, and the wide charity 
of his sympathies, made it natural for him to 



350 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

find good in everything except the human heart. 
A dreadful creed distilled from the darkest 
moments of dyspeptic solitaries compelled him 
against his will to see in that the one evil thing 
made by a God whose goodness is over all his 
works. Cowper's two walks in the morning and 
noon of a winter's day are delightful, so long as 
he contrives to let himself be happy in the gra- 
ciousness of the landscape. Your muscles grow 
springy, and your lungs dilate with the crisp 
air as you walk along with him. You laugh 
with him at the grotesque shadow of your 
legs lengthened across the snow by the just- 
risen sun. I know nothing that gives a purer 
feeling of outdoor exhilaration than the easy 
verses of this escaped hypochondriac. But Cow- 
per also preferred his sheltered garden-walk to 
those robuster joys, and bitterly acknowledged 
the depressing influence of the darkened year. 
In December, 1780, he writes : " At this season 
of the year, and in this gloomy uncomfortable 
cHmate, it is no easy matter for the owner of a 
mind like mine to divert it from sad subjects, 
and to fix it upon such as may administer to its 
amusement." Or was it because he was writing 
to the dreadful Newton ? Perhaps his poetry 
bears truer witness to his habitual feeling, for 
it is only there that poets disenthral themselves 
of their reserve and become fully possessed of 
their greatest charm, — the power of being 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 351 

franker than other men. In the Third Book 
of " The Task " he boldly affirms his preference 
of the country to the city even in winter : — 

** But are not wholesome airs, though unperfumed 
By roses, and clear suns, though scarcely felt. 
And groves, if inharmonious, yet secure 
From clamor, and whose very silence charms. 
To be preferred to smoke ? . . . 
They would be, were not madness in the head 
And folly in the heart; were England now 
What England was, plain, hospitable, kind. 
And undebauched. " 

The conclusion shows, however, that he was 
thinking mainly of fireside delights, not of the 
blusterous companionship of Nature. This ap- 
pears even more clearly in the Fourth Book : — 

" O Winter, ruler of the inverted year " ; 

but I cannot help interrupting him to say how 
pleasant it always is to track poets through the 
gardens of their predecessors and find out their 
likings by a flower snapped oflF here and there to 
garnish their own nosegays. Cowper had been 
reading Thomson, and " the inverted year " 
pleased his fancy with its suggestion of that 
starry wheel of the zodiac moving round 
through its spaces infinite. He could not help 
loving a handy Latinism (especially with elision 
beauty added), any more than Gray, any more 
than Wordsworth, — on the sly. But the mem- 
ber for Olney has the floor : — 



352 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

" O Winter, ruler of the inverted year. 
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled. 
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks 
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows 
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapt in clouds, 
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne 
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels. 
But urged by storms along its slippery way, 
I love thee all unlovely as thou seem'st. 
And dreaded as thou art ! Thou hold'st the sun 
A prisoner in the yet undawning east. 
Shortening his journey between morn and noon. 
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay, 
Down to the rosy west, but kindly still 
Compensating his loss with added hours 
Of social converse and instructive ease. 
And gathering at short notice, in one group. 
The family dispersed, and fixing thought. 
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares. 
I crown thee king of intimate delights. 
Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness. 
And all the comforts that the lowly roof 
Of undisturbed Retirement, and the hours 
Of long uninterrupted evening know." 

I call this a good human bit of writing, im- 
aginative, too, — not so flushed, not so . . . 
highfaluting (let me dare the odious word !) as 
the modern style since poets have got hold of a 
theory that imagination is common sense turned 
inside out, and not common sense sublimed, — 
but wholesome, masculine, and strong in the 
simplicity of a mind wholly occupied with its 
theme. To me Cowper is still the best of our 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 353 

descriptive poets for every-day wear. And what 
unobtrusive skill he has ! How he heightens, 
for example, your sense of winter evening se- 
clusion, by the twanging horn of the postman 
on the bridge ! That horn has rung in my 
ears ever since I first heard it, during the con- 
sulate of the second Adams. Wordsworth 
strikes a deeper note ; but does it not some- 
times come over one (just the least in the world) 
that one would give anything for a bit of nature 
pure and simple, without quite so strong a fla- 
vor of W. W. ? W. W. is, of course, sublime 
and all that — but ! For my part, I will make 
a clean breast of it, and confess that I can't look 
at a mountain without fancying the late lau- 
reate's gigantic Roman nose thrust between me 
and it, and thinking of Dean Swift's profane 
version of Romanos rerum dominos into Roman 
nose ! a rare un ! domyour nose ! But do I judge 
verses, then, by the impression made on me 
by the man who wrote them ? Not so fast, my 
good friend, but, for good or evil, the character 
and its intellectual product are inextricably in- 
terfused. 

If I remember aright, Wordsworth himself 
(except in his magnificent skating-scene in the 
Prelude) has not much to say for winter out 
of doors. I cannot recall, any picture by him 
of a snow-storm. The reason may possibly be 
that in the Lake Country even the winter 



354 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

storms bring rain rather than snow. He was 
thankful for the Christmas visits of Crabb Rob- 
inson, because they " helped him through the 
winter." His only hearty praise of Winter is 
when, as General Fevrier, he defeats the 
French : — 

" Humanity, delighting to behold 
A fond reflection of her own decay. 
Hath painted Winter like a traveller old. 
Propped on a staff, and, through the sullen day. 
In hooded mantle, limping o'er the plain 
As though his weakness were disturbed by pain: 
Or, if a juster fancy should allow 
An undisputed symbol of command. 
The chosen sceptre is a withered bough 
Infirmly grasped within a withered hand. 
These emblems suit the helpless and forlorn; 
But mighty Winter the de\ace shall scorn." 

The Scottish poet Grahame, in his " Sab- 
bath," says manfully : — 

** Now is the time 
To visit Nature in her grand attire ' ' ; 

and he has one little picture which no other 
poet has surpassed : — 

** High-ridged the whirled drift has almost reached 
The powdered keystone of the churchyard porch: 
Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie buried." 

Even in our own climate, where the sun shows 
his winter face as long and as brightly as in 
central Italy, the seduction of the chimney cor- 
ner is apt to predominate in the mind over the 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 355 

severer satisfactions of muffled fields and peni- 
tential woods. The very title of Whittier's 
delightful " Snow-Bound " shows what he was 
thinking of, though he does vapor a little about 
digging out paths. The verses of Emerson, 
perfect as a Greek fragment (despite the archa- 
ism of a dissyllabic fire), which he has chosen 
for his epigraph tell us, too, how the 

" Housemates sit 
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed 
In a tumultuous privacy of storm." 

They are all in a tale. It is always the tristis 
Hiems of Virgil. Catch one of them having a 
kind word for old Barbe Fleurie, unless he 
whines through some cranny, like a beggar, to 
heighten their enjoyment while they toast their 
slippered toes. I grant there is a keen relish of 
contrast about the bickering flame as it gives an 
emphasis beyond Gherardo della Notte to loved 
faces, or kindles the gloomy gold of volumes 
scarce less friendly, especially when a tempest 
is blundering round the house. Wordsworth 
has a fine touch that brings home to us the com- 
fortable contrast of without and within, during 
a storm at night, and the passage is highly char- 
acteristic of a poet whose inspiration always has 
an undertone of bourgeois : — 

" How touching, when, at midnight, sweep 
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark. 
To hear, — and sink again to sleep ! ' ' 



356 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

J. H., one of those choice poets who will not 
tarnish their bright fancies by publication, al- 
ways insists on a snow-storm as essential to the 
true atmosphere of whist. Mrs. Battles, in her 
famous rule for the game, implies winter, and 
would doubtless have added tempest, if it could 
be had for the asking. For a good solid read 
also, into the small hours, there is nothing like 
that sense of safety against having your even- 
ing laid waste, which Euroclydon brings, as he 
bellows down the chimney, making your fire 
gasp, or rustles snow-flakes against the pane 
with a sound more soothing than silence. 
Emerson, as he is apt to do, not only hit the 
nail on the head, but drove it home, in that 
last phrase of the " tumultuous privacy." 

But I would exchange this, and give some- 
thing to boot, for the privilege of walking out 
into the vast blur of a north-northeast snow- 
storm, and getting a strong draught on the fur- 
nace within, by drawing the first furrows through 
its sandy drifts. I love those 

" Noontide twilights which snow makes 
With tempest of the blinding flakes." 

If the wind veer too much toward the east, you 
get the heavy snow that gives a true Alpine 
slope to the boughs of your evergreens, and 
traces a skeleton of your elms in white ; but 
you must have plenty of north in your gale if 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 357 

you want those driving nettles of frost that 
sting the cheeks to a crimson manlier than that 
of fire. During the great storm of two winters 
ago, the most robustious periwig-pated fellow 
of late years, I waded and floundered a couple 
of miles through the whispering night, and 
brought home that feeling of expansion we 
have after being in good company. " Great 
things doeth He which we cannot comprehend ; 
for he saith to the snow, * Be thou on the 
earth.' " 

There is excellent snow scenery in Judd's 
" Margaret," but some one has confiscated my 
copy of that admirable book, and, perhaps. 
Homer's picture of a snow-storm is the best 
yet in its large simplicity : — 

" And as in winter-time, when Jove his cold sharp javelins 
throws 

Amongst us mortals, and is moved to white the earth with 
snows. 

The winds asleep, he freely pours till highest prominents. 

Hill-tops, low meadows, and the fields that crown with 
most contents 

The toils of men, seaports and shores, are hid, and every- 
place. 

But floods, that fair snow's tender flakes, as their own 
brood, embrace." 

Chapman, after all, though he makes very 
free with him, comes nearer Homer than any- 
body else. There is nothing in the original of 
that fair snow's tender flakes, but neither Pope 



358 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

nor Cowper could get out of their heads the 
Psalmist's tender phrase, "He giveth his snow 
like wool," for which also Homer affords no 
hint. Pope talks of " dissolving fleeces," and 
Cowper of a " fleecy mantle." But David is 
nobly simple, while Pope is simply nonsensical, 
and Cowper pretty. If they must have pretti- 
ness. Martial would have supplied them with it 
in his 

Densum tacitarum vellus aquarum, 

which is too pretty, though I fear it would have 
pleased Dr. Donne. Eustathius of Thessa- 
lonica calls snow vStup eptwSes, woolly water, which 
a poor old French poet, Godeau, has amplified 
into this : — 

Lorsque la froidure inhumaine 
De leur verd ornement depouille les forets 
Sous une neige epaisse il couvre les guerets, 
Et la neige a pour eux la chaleur de la laine. 

In this, as in Pope's version of the passage in 
Homer, there is, at least, a sort of suggestion 
of snow-storm in the blinding drift of words. 
But, on the whole, if one would know what 
snow is, I should advise him not to hunt up 
what the poets have said about it, but to look 
at the sweet miracle itself. 

The preludings of Winter are as beautiful as 
those of Spring. In a gray December day, 
when, as the farmers say, it is too cold to snow. 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 359 

his numbed fingers will let fall doubtfully a 
few star-shaped flakes, the snow-drops and 
anemones that harbinger his more assured reign. 
Now, and now only, may be seen, heaped on 
the horizon's eastern edge, those "blue clouds" 
from forth which Shakespeare says that Mars 
" doth pluck the masoned turrets." Sometimes 
also, when the sun is low, you will see a sin- 
gle cloud trailing a flurry of snow along the 
southern hills in a wavering fringe of purple. 
And when at last the real snow-storm comes, 
it leaves the earth with a virginal look on it 
that no other of the seasons can rival, — com- 
pared with which, indeed, they seem soiled and 
vulgar. 

And what is there in nature so beautiful as 
the next morning after such confusion of the 
elements ? Night has no silence like this of 
busy day. All the batteries of noise are spiked. 
We see the movement of life as a deaf man sees 
it, a mere wraith of the clamorous existence 
that inflicts itself on our ears when the ground 
is bare. The earth is clothed in innocence as 
a garment. Every wound of the landscape is 
healed ; whatever was stiff has been sweetly 
rounded as the breasts of Aphrodite ; what was 
unsightly has been covered gently with a soft 
splendor, as if, Cowley would have said, Nature 
had cleverly let fall her handkerchief to hide 
it. If the Virgin {Notre Dame de la Neige) were 



36o A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

to come back, here is an earth that would not 
bruise her foot nor stain it. It is 

"The fanned snow 
That 's bolted by the northern blasts twice o'er" — 
(Soffiata e stretta dai venti Schiavi), 
Winnowed and packed by the Sclavonian winds, — 

packed so hard sometimes on hill-slopes that 
it will bear your weight. What grace is in all 
the curves, as if every one of them had been 
swept by that inspired thumb of Phidias's jour- 
neyman ! 

Poets have fancied the footprints of the wind 
in those light ripples that sometimes scurry 
across smooth water with a sudden blur. But 
on this gleaming hush the aerial deluge has left 
plain marks of its course ; and in gullies through 
which it rushed torrent-like, the eye finds its 
bed irregularly scooped like that of a brook in 
hard beach-sand, or, in more sheltered spots, 
traced with outlines like those left by the slid- 
ing edges of the surf upon the shore. The air, 
after all, is only an infinitely thinner kind of 
water, such as I suppose we shall have to drink 
when the state does her whole duty as a moral 
reformer. Nor is the wind the only thing whose 
trail you will notice on this sensitive surface. 
You will find that you have more neighbors 
and night visitors than you dreamed of. Here 
is the dainty footprint of a cat ; here a dog has 
looked in on you like an amateur watchman to 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 361 

see if all is right, slumping clumsily about in 
the mealy treachery. And look ! before you 
were up in the morning, though you were a 
punctual courtier at the sun's levee, here has 
been a squirrel zigzagging to and fro like a 
hound gathering the scent, and some tiny bird 
searching for unimaginable food, — perhaps for 
the tinier creature, whatever it is, that drew this 
slender continuous trail like those made on the 
wet beach by light borderers of the sea. The 
earliest autographs were as frail as these. Posei- 
don traced his lines, or giant birds made their 
mark, on preadamite sea-margins ; and the 
thunder-gust left the tear-stains of its sudden 
passion there ; nay, we have the signatures of 
delicatest fern-leaves on the soft ooze of aeons 
that dozed away their dreamless leisure before 
consciousness came upon the earth with man. 
Some whim of Nature locked them fast in stone 
for us afterthoughts of creation. Which of us 
shall leave a footprint as imperishable as that 
of the ornithorhynchus, or much more so than 
that of these Bedouins of the snow-desert? 
Perhaps it was only because the ripple and the 
rain-drop and the bird were not thinking of 
themselves, that they had such luck. The 
chances of immortality depend very much on 
that. How often have we not seen poor mor- 
tals, dupes of a season's notoriety, carving their 
names on seeming-solid rock of merest beach- 



362 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

sand, whose feeble hold on memory shall be 
washed away by the next wave of fickle opin- 
ion ! Well, well, honest Jacques, there are bet- 
ter things to be found in the snow than ser- 
mons. 

The snow that falls damp comes commonly 
in larger flakes from windless skies, and is the 
prettiest of all to watch from under cover. 
This is the kind Homer had in mind ; and 
Dante, who had never read him, compares the 
dilatate falde^ the flaring flakes, of his fiery rain, 
to those of snow among the mountains without 
wind. This sort of snow-fall has no fight in it, 
and does not challenge you to a wrestle like that 
which drives well from the northward, with all 
moisture thoroughly winnowed out of it by the 
frosty wind. Burns, who was more out of doors 
than most poets, and whose barefoot Muse got 
the color in her cheeks by vigorous exercise in 
all weathers, was thinking of this drier deluge, 
when he speaks of the " whirling drift," and 
tells how 

'* Chanticleer 
Shook off the powthery snaw." 

But the damper and more deliberate falls have 
a choice knack at draping the trees ; and about 
eaves or stone walls, wherever, indeed, the 
evaporation is rapid, and it finds a chance to 
cling, it will build itself out in curves of won- 
derful beauty. I have even one of these dumb 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 363 

waves, thus caught in the act of breaking, curl 
four feet beyond the edge of my roof and hang 
there for days, as if Nature were too well 
pleased with her work to let it crumble from 
its exquisite pause. After such a storm, if you 
are lucky enough to have even a sluggish ditch 
for a neighbor, be sure to pay it a visit. You 
will find its banks corniced with what seems pre- 
cipitated light, and the dark current down be- 
low gleams as if with an inward lustre. Dull 
of motion as it is, you never saw water that 
seemed alive before. It has a brightness, like 
that of the eyes of some smaller animals, which 
gives assurance of life, but of a life foreign and 
unintelligible. 

A damp snow-storm often turns to rain, and, 
in our freakish climate, the wind will whisk 
sometimes into the northwest so suddenly as to 
plate all the trees with crystal before it has 
swept the sky clear of its last cobweb of cloud. 
Ambrose Philips, in a poetical epistle from Co- 
penhagen to the Earl of Dorset, describes this 
strange confectionery of Nature, — for such, I 
am half ashamed to say, it always seems to me, 
recalling the " glorified sugar-candy " of Lamb's 
first night at the theatre. It has an artificial 
air, altogether beneath the grand artist of the 
atmosphere, and besides does too much mischief 
to the trees for a philodendrist to take unmixed 
pleasure in it. Perhaps it deserves a poet like 



364 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

Philips, who really loved Nature and yet liked 
her to be mighty fine, as Pepys would say, with 
a heightening of powder and rouge : — 

** And yet but lately have I seen e'en here 
The winter m a lovely dress appear. 
Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasured snow. 
Or winds begun through hazy skies to blow. 
At evening a keen eastern breeze arose. 
And the descending rain unsullied froze. 
Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew. 
The ruddy noon disclosed at once to view 
The face of Nature in a rich disguise. 
And brightened every object to my eyes; 
For every shrub, and every blade of grass. 
And every pointed thorn, seemed wrought in glass; 
In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show. 
And through the ice the crimson berries glow; 
The thick-sprung reeds, which watery marshes yield. 
Seem polished lances in a hostile field; 
The stag in limpid currents with surprise 
Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise; 
The spreading oak, the beech, the towering pine. 
Glazed over in the freezing ether shine; 
The frighted birds the rattling branches shun. 
Which wave and glitter in the distant sun. 
When, if a sudden gust of wind arise. 
The brittle forest into atoms flies. 
The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends 
And in a spangled shower the prospect ends." 

It is not uninstructive to see how tolerable 
Ambrose is, so long as he sticks manfully to 
what he really saw. The moment he undertakes 
to improve on Nature he sinks into the mere 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 365 

court poet, and we surrender him to the jeal- 
ousy of Pope without a sigh. His " rattling 
branches," " crackling wood," and crimson ber- 
ries glowing through the ice are good, as truth 
always is after a fashion ; but what shall we say 
of that dreadful stag which, there is little doubt, 
he valued above all the rest, because it was 
purely his own ? 

The damper snow tempts the amateur archi- 
tect and sculptor. His Pentelicus has been 
brought to his very door, and if there are boys 
to be had (whose company beats all other re- 
cipes for prolonging life) a middle-aged Master 
of the Works will knock the years off his ac- 
count and make the family Bible seem a dealer 
in foolish fables, by a few hours given heartily 
to this business. First comes the Sisyphean toil 
of rolling the clammy balls till they refuse to 
budge farther. Then, if you would play the 
statuary, they are piled one upon the other to 
the proper height ; or if your aim be masonry, 
whether of house or fort, they must be squared 
and beaten solid with the shovel. The material 
is capable of very pretty effects, and your young 
companions meanwhile are unconsciously learn- 
ing lessons in aesthetics. From the feeling of 
satisfaction with which one squats on the damp 
floor of his extemporized dwelling, I have been 
led to think that the backwoodsman must get 
a sweeter savor of self-sufficingness from the 



366 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

house his own hands have built than Bramante 
or Sansovino could ever give. Perhaps the fort 
is the best thing, for it calls out more masculine 
qualities and adds the cheer of battle with that 
dumb artillery which gives pain enough to test 
pluck without risk of serious hurt. Already, as 
I write, it is twenty-odd years ago. The balls fly 
thick and fast. The uncle defends the waist- 
high ramparts against a storm of nephews, his 
breast plastered with decorations like another 
Radetsky's. How well I recall the indomitable 
good humor under fire of him who fell in front 
at Ball's Bluff, the silent pertinacity of the 
gentle scholar who got his last hurt at Fair 
Oaks, the ardor in the charge of the gallant 
gentleman who, with the death-wound in his 
side, headed his brigade at Cedar Creek ! 
How it all comes back, and they never come ! 
I cannot again be the Vauban of fortresses in 
the innocent snow, but I shall never see children 
moulding their clumsy giants in it without long- 
ing to help. It was a pretty fancy of the young 
Vermont sculptor to make his first essay in this 
evanescent material. Was it a figure of Youth, 
I wonder? Would it not be well if all artists 
could begin in stuff as perishable, to melt away 
when the sun of prosperity began to shine, and 
leave nothing behind but the gain of practised 
hands ? It is pleasant to fancy that Shakespeare 
served his apprenticeship at this trade, and 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 367 

owed to it that most pathetic of despairing 
wishes, — 

'* O, that I were a mockery-king of snow. 
Standing before the sun of Bolingbroke, 
To melt myself away in water-drops ! " 

I have spoken of the exquisite curves of snow 
surfaces. Not less rare are the tints of which 
they are capable, — the faint blue of the hol- 
lows, for the shadows in snow are always blue, 
and the tender rose of higher points, as you 
stand with your back to the setting sun and 
look upward across the soft rondure of a hill- 
side. I have seen within a mile of home effects 
of color as lovely as any iridescence of the Sil- 
berhorn after sundown. Charles II., who never 
said a foolish thing, gave the English climate 
the highest praise when he said that it allowed 
you more hours out of doors than any other, 
and I think our winter may fairly make the 
same boast as compared with the rest of the year. 
Its still mornings, with the thermometer near 
zero, put a premium on walking. There is 
more sentiment in turf, perhaps, and it is more 
elastic under the foot ; its silence, too, is well- 
nigh as congenial with meditation as that of 
fallen pine-tassel ; but for exhilaration there is 
nothing like a stiff snow-crust that creaks like 
a cricket at every step, and communicates its 
own sparkle to the senses. The air you drink 
is frappCj all its grosser particles precipitated. 



368 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

and the dregs of your blood with them. A purer 
current mounts to the brain, courses sparkling 
through it, and rinses it thoroughly of all de- 
jected stuff. There is nothing left to breed an 
exhalation of ill humor or despondency. They 
say that this rarefied atmosphere has lessened 
the capacity of our lungs. Be it so. Quart pots 
are for muddier liquor than nectar. To me, the 
city in winter is infinitely dreary, — the sharp 
street-corners have such a chill in them, and 
the snow so soon loses its maidenhood to be- 
come a mere drab, — " doing shameful things," 
as Steele says of politicians, " without being 
ashamed." I pine for the Quaker purity of my 
country landscape. 1 am speaking, of course, 
of those winters that are not niggardly of snow, 
as ours too often are, giving us a gravelly dust 
instead. Nothing can be unsightlier than those 
piebald fields where the coarse brown hide of 
Earth shows through the holes of her ragged 
ermine. But even when there is abundance of 
snow, I find as I grow older that there are not 
so many good crusts as there used to be. When 
I first observed this, I rashly set it to the ac- 
count of that general degeneracy in nature (keep- 
ing pace with the same melancholy phenomenon 
in man) which forces itself upon the attention 
and into the philosophy of middle life. But 
happening once to be weighed, it occurred to 
me that an arch which would bear fifty pounds 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 369 

could hardly be blamed for giving way under 
more than three times the weight. I have some- 
times thought that if theologians would remem- 
ber this in their arguments, and consider that 
the man may slump through, with no fault of 
his own, where the boy would have skimmed the 
surface in safety, it would be better for all par- 
ties. However, when you do get a crust that 
will bear, and know any brooklet that runs down 
a hillside, be sure to go and take a look at him, 
especially if your crust is due, as it commonly 
is, to a cold snap following eagerly on a thaw. 
You will never find him so cheerful. As he 
shrank away after the last thaw, he built for 
himself the most exquisite caverns of ice to run 
through, if not "measureless to man" Hke those 
of Alph, the sacred river, yet perhaps more 
pleasing for their narrowness than those for 
their grandeur. What a cunning silversmith is 
Frost ! The rarest workmanship of Delhi or 
Genoa copies him but clumsily, as if the fin- 
gers of all other artists were thumbs. Fernwork 
and lacework and filigree in endless variety, and 
under it all the water tinkles like a distant gui- 
tar, or drums like a tambourine, or gurgles like 
the Tokay of an anchorite's dream. Beyond 
doubt there is a fairy procession marching along 
those frail arcades and translucent corridors. 

•* Their oaten pipes blow wondrous shrill. 
The hemlocks small blow clear." 



370 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

And hark ! is that the ringing of Titania's 
bridle, or the bells of the wee, wee hawk that 
sits on Oberon's wrist ? This wonder of Frost's 
handiwork may be had every winter, but he can 
do better than this, though I have seen it but 
once in my life. There had been a thaw with- 
out wind or rain, making the air fat with gray 
vapor. Towards sundown came that chill, the 
avant-courier of a northwesterly gale. Then, 
though there was no perceptible current in the 
atmosphere, the fog began to attach itself in 
frosty roots and filaments to the southern side 
of every twig and grass-stem. The very posts 
had poems traced upon them by this dumb min- 
strel. Wherever the moist seeds found lodg- 
ment grew an inch-deep moss fine as cobweb, a 
slender coral reef, argentine, delicate, as of some 
silent sea in the moon, such as Agassiz dredges 
when he dreams. The frost, too, can wield a 
delicate graver, and in fancy leaves Piranesi far 
behind. He covers your window-pane with 
Alpine etchings, as if in memory of that sanc- 
tuary where he finds shelter even in midsum- 
mer. 

Now look down from your hillside across the 
valley. The trees are leafless, but this is the 
season to study their anatomy, and did you ever 
notice before how much color there is in the 
twigs of many of them ? And the smoke from 
those chimneys is so blue it seems like a feeder 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 371 

of the sky into which it flows. Winter refines 
it and gives it agreeable associations. In sum- 
mer it suggests cookery or the drudgery of 
steam-engines, but now your fancy (if it can 
forget for a moment the dreary usurpation of 
stoves) traces it down to the fireside and the 
brightened faces of children. Thoreau is the 
only poet who has fitly sung it. The wood- 
cutter rises before day and 

" First in the dusky dawn he sends abroad 
His early scout, his emissary, smoke. 
The earliest, latest pilgrim from his roof. 
To feel the frosty air; . . . 
And, whUe he crouches still beside the hearth. 
Nor musters courage to unbar the door. 
It has gone down the glen with the light wind 
And o'er the plain unfurled its venturous wreath. 
Draped the tree-tops, loitered upon the hill. 
And warmed the pinions of the early bird; 
And now, perchance, high in the crispy air. 
Has caught sight of the day o'er the earth's edge. 
And greets its master's eye at his low door 
As some reflilgent cloud in the upper sky." 

Here is very bad verse and very good imagi- 
nation. He had been reading Wordsworth, or 
he would not have made tree-tops an iambus. 
In reading it over again I am bound to say that 
I have never seen smoke that became a reful- 
gent cloud in the upper sky anywhere but in 
London. In the Moretum of Virgil (or, if not 
his, better than most of his) is a pretty picture 



372 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

of a peasant kindling his winter morning fire. 
He rises before dawn, 

Sollicitaque manu tenebras explorat inertes 
Vestigatque focum laesus quern denique sensit. 
Parvulus exusto remanebat stipite fumus, 
Et cinis obductae celabat lumina prunae. 
Admovet his pronam submissa fronte lucernam, 
Et producit acu stupas humore carentes, 
Excitat et crebris languentem flatibus ignem; 
Tandem concepto tenebrae fulgore recedunt, 
Oppositaque manu lumen defendit ab aura. 

With cautious hand he gropes the sluggish dark. 
Tracking the hearth which, scorched, he feels ere long. 
In burnt-out logs a slender smoke remained. 
And raked-up ashes hid the cinders' eyes; 
Stooping, to these the lamp outstretched he nears. 
And, with a needle loosening the dry wick. 
With frequent breath excites the languid flame. 
Before the gathering glow the shades recede. 
And his bent hand the new-caught light defends. 

Ovid heightens the picture by a single touch : 

Ipse genu posito flammas exsuscitat aura. 
Kneeling, his breath calls back to life the flames. 

If you walk, down now into the woods, you 
may find a robin or a bluebird among the red- 
cedars, or a nuthatch scaling deviously the trunk 
of some hardwood tree with an eye as keen as 
that of a French soldier foraging for the pot-au- 
feu of his mess. Perhaps a blue-jay shrills cah 
cah in his corvine trebles, or a chickadee 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 373 

" Shows feats of his gymnastic play. 

Head downward, clinging to the spray." 

But both him and the snow-bird I love better 
to see, tiny fluffs of feathered life, as they scurry 
about in a driving mist of snow, than in this 
serene air. 

Coleridge has put into verse one of the most 
beautiful phenomena of a winter walk : — 

"The woodman winding westward up the glen 

At wintry dawn, where o'er the sheep-track's maze 
The viewless snow-mist weaves a glistening haze. 
Sees full before him, gliding without tread. 
An image with a halo round its head." 

But this aureole is not peculiar to winter. I 
have noticed it often in a summer morning, 
when the grass was heavy with dew, and even 
later in the day, when the dewless grass was still 
fresh enough to have a gleam of its own. 

For my own part I prefer a winter walk that 
takes in the nightfall and the intense silence 
that ere long follows it. The evening lamps look 
yellower by contrast with the snow, and give 
the windows that hearty look of which our se- 
cretive fires have almost robbed them. The stars 
seem 

** To hang, like twinkling winter lamps. 
Among the branches of the leafless trees," 

or, if you are on a hill-top (whence it is sweet 
to watch the home-lights gleam out one by one). 



374 A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 

they look nearer than in summer, and appear 
to take a conscious part in the cold. Especially 
in one of those stand-stills of the air that fore- 
bode a change of weather, the sky is dusted 
with motes of fire of which the summer watcher 
never dreamed. Winter, too, is, on the whole, 
the triumphant season of the moon, a moon 
devoid of sentiment, if you choose, but with the 
refreshment of a purer intellectual light, — the 
cooler orb of middle life. Whoever saw any- 
thing to match that gleam, rather divined than 
seen, which runs before her over the snow, a 
breath of light, as she rises on the infinite silence 
of winter night ? High in the heavens, also she 
seems to bring out some intenser property of 
cold with her chilly polish. The poets have 
instinctively noted this. When Goody Blake 
imprecates a curse of perpetual chill upon Harry 
Gill, she has 

** The cold, cold moon above her head " ; 

and Coleridge speaks of 

<* The silent icicles. 
Quietly gleaming to the quiet moon." 

As you walk homeward, — for it is time that 
we should end our ramble, — you may per- 
chance hear the most impressive sound in na- 
ture, unless it be the fall of a tree in the forest 
during the hush of summer noon. It is the 
stifled shriek of the lake yonder as the frost 



A GOOD WORD FOR WINTER 375 

throttles it. Wordsworth has described it (too 
much, I fear, in the style of Dr. Armstrong) : — 

"And, interrupting oft that eager game. 
From under Esthwaite's splitting fields of ice. 
The pent-up air, struggling to free itself. 
Gave out to meadow-grounds and hills a loud 
Protracted yelling, like the noise of wolves 
Howling in troops along the Bothnic main." 

Thoreau (unless the English lakes have a 
different dialect from ours) calls it admirably 
well a " whoop." But it is a noise like none 
other, as if Demogorgon were moaning inar- 
ticulately from under the earth. Let us get 
within doors, lest we hear it again, for there is 
something bodeful and uncanny in it. 



END OF VOLUME I 



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