Gryll Grange
by Thomas Love Peacock
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


By Thomas Love Peacock











Gryll Grange, the last and mellowest fruit from Peacock's tree, was, like most mellow fruit, not matured hastily. In saying this I do not refer to the long period—exactly a generation in the conventional sense—which intervened between Crotchet Castle of 1831 and this of 1861. For we know as a matter of fact, from the preface to the 1856 edition of Melincourt, that Peacock was planning Gryll Grange at a time considerably nearer to, but still some years from, its actual publication.

There might perhaps have been room for fear lest such a proceeding, on the part of a man of seventy-five who was living in retirement, should result in an ill-digested mass of detail, tempered or rather distempered by the grumbling of old age, and exhibiting the marks of failing powers. No anticipation could have been more happily falsified. The advance in good temper of Gryll Grange, even upon Crotchet Castle itself, is denied by no one. The book, though long for its author, is not in the least overloaded; and no signs of failure have ever been detected in it except by those who upbraid the still further severance between the line of Peacock's thought and the line of what is vulgarly accounted 'progress,' and who almost openly impute decay to powers no longer used on their side but against them. The only plausible pretext for this insinuation is that very advance in mildness and mellowness which has been noted—that comparative absence of the sharper and cruder strokes of the earlier work. But since the wit is as bright as ever, though less hard, it seems unreasonable to impute as a defect what, but for very obvious reasons, would be admitted as an improvement.

Except Brougham, who still comes in for some severe language, no one of Peacock's old favourite abominations undergoes personal chastisement. On the contrary, indirect but pretty distinct apology is tendered to Wordsworth, Southey, and Coleridge by appreciative citation of their work. Even among the general victims, Scotchmen and political economists have a still more direct olive-branch extended to them by the introduction of the personage of Mr. MacBorrowdale: there is no more blasphemy of Scott: and I do not at the present moment remember any very distinct slaps at paper money. Peace had been made long ago with the Church of England, through the powerful medium of Dr. Folliott; but it is ratified and cemented anew here not merely by the presentation of Dr. Opimian, but (in rather an odd fashion perhaps) by the trait of Falconer's devotion to St. Catharine. So also, as the fair hand of Lady Clarinda, despite some hard knocks administered to her father and brother, had beckoned Peacock away from his cut-and-dried satire of the aristocracy, so now Lord Curryfin exhibits a further stage of reconciliation. In short, all those elements of society to which very young men, not wanting either in brains or heart, often take crude and fanciful objection, had by this time approved themselves (as they always do, with the rarest exceptions, to les ames bien nees) at worst graceful if unnecessary ornaments to life, at best valuable to the social fabric as solid and all but indispensable buttresses of it.

In all these 'reconciliations and forgivenesses of injuries,' however, it is very important to observe that there is no mawkishness; and, whatever may have been sometimes thought and said, there is no 'ratting* in the real sense. As must be obvious to any attentive reader of the novels, and as has been pointed out once or twice before in these introductions, Peacock had at no time been anything like an enrolled, much less a convinced, member of the Radical or any party. He may have been a Republican in his youth, though for my part I should like more trustworthy evidence for it than that of Thomas Jefferson Hogg, a very clever but a distinctly unscrupulous person. If he was—and it is not at all improbable that he had the Republican measles, a very common disease of youth, pretty early—he certainly had never been a democrat. Even his earlier satire is double-edged; and, as must be constantly repeated and remembered, it was always his taste and his endeavour to shoot folly as it flew, to attack existent and not extinct forms of popular or fashionable delusion. Such follies, whether in 1860 or since, have certainly not as a rule been of the aristocratic, monarchical, or Tory order generally.

He found plenty of these follies, however, in the other kind—the kind which he had begun to satirise smartly in Crotchet Castle—and he showed pretty decisively that his hand had not lost its cunning, nor his sword its sharpness. The satire, though partly, is not mainly political; and it is an interesting detail (though it only refreshes the memory of those who knew the facts then or have studied them since) that barely she years before a far more sweeping reform than that of 1832, a very acute judge who disliked and resisted it spoke of 'another reform lunacy' as 'not likely to arise in his time.' And these words, it must be remembered, are put in the mouth of Mr. MacBorrowdale, who is represented as merely middle-aged.

It is fortunate, however, for the interest of Gryll Grange that politics, in the strict sense, occupy so small a part of it; for of all subjects they lose interest first to all but a very select number of readers. The bulk of the satiric comment of the book is devoted either to purely social matters, or to the debateable land between these and politics proper. A little but not very much of this is obsolete or obsolescent. American slavery is no more; and the 'Pantopragmatic Society' (in official language the Social Science Congress) has ceased to exist as a single recognised institution. But there is not much about slavery here, and if pantopragmatics have lost their special Society they flourish more than ever as a general and fashionable subject of human attention. You shall not open a number of the Times twice, perhaps not once in a week, without finding columns of debate, harangue, or letter-writing purely pantopragmatical.

Still more is this the case with another subject which has even more attention, and on which what some think the central and golden sentence of the book is laid down by Dr. Opimian in the often-quoted words, 'If all the nonsense which in the last quarter of a century [it is appalling to think that this quarter is getting on for three-quarters now] has been talked on all other subjects were thrown into one scale, and all that has been talked on the subject of Education alone were thrown into the other, I think the latter would preponderate.' Indeed it cannot be said that after nearly five-and-thirty years, up to and including the present moment, during which Competitive Examination has been a field of battle, much has been added to Peacock's attack on it, or anything said on the other side to weaken the cogency of that attack. No doubt he was to some extent a prejudiced judge; for, though few people would at any time of his youth have had less to fear from competitive examination, his own fortune had been made by the opposite system, and the competitive scheme must infallibly tend rather to exclude than to admit persons like him. But a wise criticism does not ask cut bone in cases of argument, it simply looks to see whether the advocacy is sound, not whether the advocate has received or expects his fee. And Peacock's advocacy is here not merely sound; it is, in so far as it goes, inexpugnable. It is true there is a still more irrefragable rejoinder to it which has kept competition safe hitherto, though for obvious reasons it will very rarely be found openly expressed by the defenders of the system; and that is, that, under the popular jealousy resulting from wide or universal suffrage, there is no alternative but competitive examination, or else the American system of alternating spoils to the victors, which is demonstrably worse for the public, and not demonstrably much better for private interests.

As for table-turning, and lectures, and the 'excess of hurrying about,' and 'Siberian' dinners and so forth, they are certainly not dead. Table-turning may have changed its name; the others have not even adopted the well-known expedient of the alias, but appear just as they were thirty years ago in the social and satiric dictionaries of to-day.

It would be odd if this comparative freshness and actuality of subject did not make Gryll Grange one of the lightest and brightest of Peacock's novels; and I think it fully deserves that description. But it would be doing it extremely scant justice to allow any one to suppose that its attractions consist solely, or even mainly, in 'valuable thoughts' and expressions of sense, satire, and scholarship (to combine Wordsworth with Warrington). In lighter respects, in respects of form and movement, and it is absolutely impossible that he should have been an Evangelical.

We must not dismiss without some special mention the episode—though it is not properly an episode, inasmuch as it has throughout an important connection with the working of the story—of 'Aristophanes in London.' This has sometimes been adversely criticised as not sufficiently antique—which seems to overlook the obvious retort that if it had been more so it could not by any possibility have been sufficiently modern. Those who know something of Aristophanes and something of London may doubt whether it could have established the nexus much better. I have elsewhere pointed out the curious connection with Mansel's Phrontisterion, which was considerably earlier in date, and with the sentiments of which Peacock would have been in the heartiest agreement. But it is extremely unlikely that he ever saw it. His antipathy to the English universities appears to have been one of the most enduring of his crazes, probably because it was always the most unreasonable; and though there is no active renewal of hostilities in this novel (or none of importance), it is noticeable there is also no direct or indirect palinode as there is in most other cases. As for the play itself, it seems to me very good. Miss Gryll must have looked delightful as Circe (we get a more distinct description of her personality here than anywhere else), Gryllus has an excellent standpoint, and the dialogue, though unequal, is quite admirable at the best. Indeed there is a Gilbertian tone about the whole piece which I should be rather more surprised at being the first to note, so far as I know, if I were not pretty well prepared to find that the study of the average dramatic critic is not much in Peacock. The choric trochees (which by the way is a tautology) are of the highest excellence, especially the piece beginning—

'As before the pike will fly'

in which Coeur-de-Lion's discomfiture of the 'septemvirate of quacks' is hymned; and the finale is quite Attic. I do not know whether the thing has ever been attempted as an actual show. Though rather exacting in its machinery, it ought to have been.

The novel is rather full of other verse, but except 'Love and Age'—so often mentioned, but never to be mentioned enough for its strange and admirable commixture of sense and sentiment, of knowledge of the heart and knowledge of life—this is not of the first class for Peacock, certainly not worthy to be ranked with the play. 'The Death of Philemon' is indeed a beautiful piece in its first half; the second were better 'cut' 'The Dappled Palfrey,' a very charming fabliau in the original, chiefly suggests the superiority of Lochinvar to which it is a sort of counterpart and complement. 'The New Order of Chivalry' with a good deal of truth has also a good deal of illiberality; and, amusing as it is, is a relapse into Peacock's old vein of almost insolent personality. Sir Moses Montefiore and Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy did not deserve, though they might afford to despise, the sort of cheap rallying here applied to them; and might have retaliated, not without point, on persons who drew large salaries at the India House, with frequent additional gratifications, and stood up for 'chivalry' in their leisure moments. And 'The Legend of St Laura' is not first rate. But the Italian translations make us wish for more of the same.

On the whole, however, though we may like some things more and some less here, I cannot conceive the whole being otherwise than delightful to any person of knowledge, sense, and taste. And as we close Peacock's novels there is this interesting though rather melancholy thought that we 'close the book' in more senses than one. They have never been imitated save afar off; and even the far-off imitations have not been very satisfactory. The English Muse seems to have set, at the joining of the old and new ages, this one person with the learning and tastes of the ancestors, with the irreverent criticism of the moderns, to comment on the transition; and, having fashioned him, to have broken the mould.

George Saintsbury.



CHAPTER I Misnomers

CHAPTER II The Squire and his Niece

CHAPTER III The Duke's Folly

CHAPTER IV The Forest—A Soliloquy on Hair

CHAPTER V. The Seven Sisters

CHAPTER VI The Rustic Lover

CHAPTER VII The Vicar and his Wife—Families of Love:— The Newspaper

CHAPTER VIII Pantopragmatics

CHAPTER IX Saint Catharine

CHAPTER X The Thunderstorm

CHAPTER XI Electrical Science—The Death of Philemon

CHAPTER XII The Forest Dell—The Power of Love—The Lottery of Marriage

CHAPTER XIII Lord Curryfin—Siberian Dinners—Social Monotony

CHAPTER XIV Music and Painting—Jack of Dover

CHAPTER XV Expression in Music—The Dappled Palfrey—Love and Age—Competitive Examination

CHAPTER XVI Miss Niphet—The Theatre—The Lake—Divided Attraction —Infallible Safety

CHAPTER XVII Horse-Taming—Love in Dilemma—Injunctions—Sonorous Vases

CHAPTER XVIII Lectures—The Power of Public Opinion—A New Order of Chivalry

CHAPTER XIX A Symposium—Transatlantic Tendencies —After-Dinner Lectures—Education

CHAPTER XX Algernon and Morgana—Opportunity and Repentance —The Forest in Winter

CHAPTER XXI Skating—Pas de deux on the Ice—Congeniality —Flints among Bones

CHAPTER XXII The Seven against Thebes—A Soliloquy on Christmas

CHAPTER XXIII The two Quadrilles—Pope's Ombre—Poetical Truth to Nature—Cleopatra

CHAPTER XXIV Progress of Sympathy—Love's Injunctions—Orlando Innamorato

CHAPTER XXV Harry and Dorothy

CHAPTER XXVI Doubts and Questions

CHAPTER XXVII Love in Memory

CHAPTER XXVIII Aristophanes in London

CHAPTER XXIX The Bald Venus—Inez de Castro—The Unity of Love

CHAPTER XXX A Captive Knight—Richard and Alice

CHAPTER XXXI A Twelfth-Night Ball—Pantopragmatic Cookery —Modern Vandalism—A Bowl of Punch

CHAPTER XXXII Hopes and Fears—Compensations in Life—Athenian Comedy—Madeira and Music—Confidences

CHAPTER XXXIII The Conquest of Thebes

CHAPTER XXXIV Christmas Tales—Classical Tales of Wonder—The Host's Ghost—A Tale of a Shadow—A Tale of a Bogle—The Legend of St. Laura

CHAPTER XXXV Rejected Suitors—Conclusion


Opinion governs all mankind, Like the blind leading of the blind:— And like the world, men's jobbemoles Turn round upon their ears the poles, And what they're confidently told By no sense else can be controll'd.

In the following pages the New Forest is always mentioned as if it were still unenclosed. This is the only state in which the Author has been acquainted with it. Since its enclosure, he has never seen it, and purposes never to do so.

The mottoes are sometimes specially apposite to the chapters to which they are prefixed; but more frequently to the general scope, or, to borrow a musical term, the motivo of the operetta.



Ego sic semper et ubique vixi, ut ultimam quamque lucem, taraquam non redituram, consumerem.—Petronius Arbiter.

Always and everywhere I have so lived, that I might consume the passing light as if it were not to return.

'Palestine soup!' said the Reverend Doctor Opimian, dining with his friend Squire Gryll; 'a curiously complicated misnomer. We have an excellent old vegetable, the artichoke, of which we eat the head; we have another of subsequent introduction, of which we eat the root, and which we also call artichoke, because it resembles the first in flavour, although, me judice, a very inferior affair. This last is a species of the helianthus, or sunflower genus of the Syngenesia frustranea class of plants. It is therefore a girasol, or turn-to-the-sun. From this girasol we have made Jerusalem, and from the Jerusalem artichoke we make Palestine soup.'

Mr. Gryll. A very good thing, doctor.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. A very good thing; but a palpable misnomer.

Mr. Gryll. I am afraid we live in a world of misnomers, and of a worse kind than this. In my little experience I have found that a gang of swindling bankers is a respectable old firm; that men who sell their votes to the highest bidder, and want only 'the protection of the ballot' to sell the promise of them to both parties, are a free and independent constituency; that a man who successively betrays everybody that trusts him, and abandons every principle he ever professed, is a great statesman, and a Conservative, forsooth, a nil conservando; that schemes for breeding pestilence are sanitary improvements; that the test of intellectual capacity is in swallow, and not in digestion; that the art of teaching everything, except what will be of use to the recipient, is national education; and that a change for the worse is reform. Look across the Atlantic. A Sympathiser would seem to imply a certain degree of benevolent feeling. Nothing of the kind. It signifies a ready-made accomplice in any species of political villainy. A Know-Nothing would seem to imply a liberal self-diffidence—on the scriptural principle that the beginning of knowledge is to know that thou art ignorant. No such thing. It implies furious political dogmatism, enforced by bludgeons and revolvers. A Locofoco is the only intelligible term: a fellow that would set any place on fire to roast his own eggs. A Filibuster is a pirate under national colours; but I suppose the word in its origin implies something virtuous: perhaps a friend of humanity.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. More likely a friend of roaring-(Greek phrase)—in the sense in which roaring is used by our old dramatists; for which see Middleton's Roaring Girl, and the commentators thereon.

Mr. Gryll. While we are on the subject of misnomers, what say you to the wisdom of Parliament?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Why, sir, I do not call that a misnomer. The term wisdom is used in a parliamentary sense. The wisdom of Parliament is a wisdom sui generis. It is not like any other wisdom. It is not the wisdom of Socrates, nor the wisdom of Solomon. It is the wisdom of Parliament. It is not easily analysed or defined; but it is very easily understood. It has achieved wonderful things by itself, and still more when Science has come to its aid. Between them they have poisoned the Thames, and killed the fish in the river. A little further development of the same wisdom and science will complete the poisoning of the air, and kill the dwellers on the banks. It is pleasant that the precious effluvium has been brought so efficiently under the Wisdom's own wise nose. Thereat the nose, like Trinculo's, has been in great indignation. The Wisdom has ordered the Science to do something. The Wisdom does not know what, nor the Science either. But the Wisdom has empowered the Science to spend some millions of money; and this, no doubt, the Science will do. When the money has been spent, it will be found that the something has been worse than nothing. The Science will want more money to do some other something, and the Wisdom will grant it. Redit labor actus in orbem.{1} But you have got on moral and political ground. My remark was merely on a perversion of words, of which we have an inexhaustible catalogue.

Mr. Gryll. Whatever ground we take, doctor, there is one point common to most of these cases: the word presents an idea which does not belong to the subject, critically considered. Palestine soup is not more remote from the true Jerusalem, than many an honourable friend from public honesty and honour. However, doctor, what say you to a glass of old Madeira, which I really believe is what it is called?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. In vino Veritas. I accept with pleasure.

Miss Gryll. You and my uncle, doctor, get up a discussion on everything that presents itself; dealing with your theme like a series of variations in music. You have run half round the world a propos of the soup.{1} What say you to the fish?

1 The labour returns, compelled into a circle.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Premising that this is a remarkably fine slice of salmon, there is much to be said about fish: but not in the way of misnomers. Their names are single and simple. Perch, sole, cod, eel, carp, char, skate, tench, trout, brill, bream, pike, and many others, plain monosyllables: salmon, dory, turbot, gudgeon, lobster, whitebait, grayling, haddock, mullet, herring, oyster, sturgeon, flounder, turtle, plain dissyllables: only two trisyllables worth naming, anchovy and mackerel; unless any one should be disposed to stand up for halibut, which, for my part, I have excommunicated.

Mr. Gryll. I agree with you on that point; but I think you have named one or two that might as well keep it company.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I do not think I have named a single unpresentable fish.

Mr. Gryll. Bream, doctor: there is not much to be said for bream.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. On the contrary, sir, I think there is much to be said for him. In the first place, there is the authority of the monastic brotherhoods, who are universally admitted to have been connoisseurs in fish, and in the mode of preparing it; and you will find bream pie set down as a prominent item of luxurious living in the indictments prepared against them at the dissolution of the monasteries. The work of destruction was rather too rapid, and I fear the receipt is lost. But he can still be served up as an excellent stew, provided always that he is full-grown, and has swum all his life in clear running water. I call everything fish that seas, lakes, and rivers furnish to cookery; though, scientifically, a turtle is a reptile, and a lobster an insect. Fish, Miss Gryll—I could discourse to you on fish by the hour: but for the present I will forbear: as Lord Curryfin is coming down to Thornback Bay, to lecture the fishermen on fish and fisheries, and to astonish them all with the science of their art You will, no doubt, be curious to hear him. There will be some reserved seats.

Miss Gryll. I shall be very curious to hear him, indeed. I have never heard a lecturing lord. The fancy of lords and gentlemen to lecture everybody on everything, everywhere, seems to me something very comical; but perhaps it is something very serious, gracious in the lecturer, and instructive to the audience. I shall be glad to be cured of my unbecoming propensity to laugh whenever I hear of a lecturing lord.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I hope, Miss Gryll, you will not laugh at Lord Curryfin: for you may be assured nothing will be farther from his lordship's intention than to say anything in the slightest degree droll.

Mr. Gryll. Doctor Johnson was astonished at the mania for lectures, even in his day, when there were no lecturing lords. He thought little was to be learned from lectures, unless where, as in chemistry, the subject required illustration by experiment. Now, if your lord is going to exhibit experiments in the art of cooking fish, with specimens in sufficient number for all his audience to taste, I have no doubt his lecture will be well attended, and a repetition earnestly desired.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am afraid the lecture will not have the aid of such pleasant adventitious attractions. It will be a pure scientific exposition, carefully classified, under the several divisions and subdivisions of Ichthyology, Entomology, Herpetology, and Conchology. But I agree with Doctor Johnson, that little is to be learned from lectures. For the most part those who do not already understand the subject will not understand the lecture, and those who do will learn nothing from it. The latter will hear many things they would like to contradict, which the bienseance of the lecture-room does not allow. I do not comprehend how people can find amusement in lectures. I should much prefer a tenson of the twelfth century, when two or three masters of the Gai Saber discussed questions of love and chivalry.

Miss Gryll. I am afraid, doctor, our age is too prosy for that sort of thing. We have neither wit enough, nor poetry enough, to furnish the disputants. I can conceive a state of society in which such tensons would form a pleasant winter evening amusement: but that state of society is not ours.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Well, Miss Gryll, I should like, some winter evening, to challenge you to a tenson, and your uncle should be umpire. I think you have wit enough by nature, and I have poetry enough by memory, to supply a fair portion of the requisite materials, without assuming an absolute mastery of the Gai Saber.

Miss Gryll. I shall accept the challenge, doctor. The wit on one side will, I am afraid, be very shortcoming; but the poetry on the other will no doubt be abundant.

Mr. Gryll. Suppose, doctor, you were to get up a tenson a little more relative to our own wise days. Spirit-rapping, for example, is a fine field. Nec pueri credunt... Sed tu vera puta.{1} You might go beyond the limits of a tenson. There is ample scope for an Aristophanic comedy. In the contest between the Just and the Unjust in the Clouds, and in other scenes of Aristophanes, you have ancient specimens of something very like tensons, except that love has not much share in them. Let us for a moment suppose this same spirit-rapping to be true—dramatically so, at least. Let us fit up a stage for the purpose: make the invoked spirits visible as well as audible: and calling before us some of the illustrious of former days, ask them what they think of us and our doings? Of our astounding progress of intellect? Our march of mind? Our higher tone of morality? Our vast diffusion of education? Our art of choosing the most unfit man by competitive examination?

1 Not even boys believe it: but suppose it to be true.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. You had better not bring on many of them at once, nor ask many similar questions, or the chorus of ghostly laughter will be overwhelming. I imagine the answer would be something like Hamlets: 'You yourselves, sirs, shall be as wise as we were, if, like crabs, you could go backward.' It is thought something wonderful that uneducated persons should believe in witchcraft in the nineteenth century: as if educated persons did not believe in grosser follies: such as this same spirit-rapping, unknown tongues, clairvoyance, table-turning, and all sorts of fanatical impositions, having for the present their climax in Mormonism. Herein all times are alike. There is nothing too monstrous for human credulity. I like the notion of the Aristophanic comedy. But it would require a numerous company, especially as the chorus is indispensable. The tenson may be carried on by two.

Mr. Gryll. I do not see why we should not have both.

Miss Gryll. Oh pray, doctor! let us have the comedy. We hope to have a houseful at Christmas, and I think we may get it up well, chorus and all. I should so like to hear what my great ancestor, Gryllus, thinks of us: and Homer, and Dante, and Shakespeare, and Richard the First, and Oliver Cromwell.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. A very good dramatis personae. With these, and the help of one or two Athenians and Romans, we may arrive at a tolerable judgment on our own immeasurable superiority to everything that has gone before us.

Before we proceed further, we will give some account of our interlocutors.



FORTUNA . SPONDET . MULTA . MULTIS . PRAESTAT . NEM1NI . VIVE . IN . DIES . ET . HORAS . NAM . PROPRIUM . EST . NIHIL.{1} Marmor vetus apud Feam, ad Hor. Epist. i. ii, 23.

Fortune makes many promises to many, Keeps them to none. Live to the days and hours, For nothing is your own.

Gregory Gryll, Esq., of Gryll Grange in Hampshire, on the borders of the New Forest, in the midst of a park which was a little forest in itself, reaching nearly to the sea, and well stocked with deer, having a large outer tract, where a numerous light-rented and well-conditioned tenantry fattened innumerable pigs, considering himself well located for what he professed to be, Epicuri de grege porcus,{2} and held, though he found it difficult to trace the pedigree, that he was lineally descended from the ancient and illustrious Gryllus, who maintained against Ulysses the superior happiness of the life of other animals to that of the life of man.{3}

1 This inscription appears to consist of comic senarii, slightly dislocated for the inscriptional purpose.

Spondet Fortuna multa multis, praestat nemini. Vive in dies et horas: nam proprium est nihil.

2 A pig from the herd of Epicurus. The old philosophers accepted good-humouredly the disparaging terms attached to them by their enemies or rivals. The Epicureans acquiesced in the pig, the Cynics in the dog, and Cleanthes was content to be called the Ass of Zeno, as being alone capable of bearing the burthen of the Stoic philosophy.

3 Plutarch. Bruta animalia raiione uti. Gryllus in this dialogue seems to have the best of the argument. Spenser, however, did not think.... so, when he introduced his Gryll, in the Paradise of Acrasia, reviling Sir Guyon's Palmer for having restored him to the human form.

Streightway he with his virtuous staff them strooke, And streight of beasts they comely men became: Yet being men they did unmanly looke, And stared ghastly, some for inward shame, And some for wrath to see their captive dame: But one above the rest in speciall, That had an hog been late, hight Grylle by name, Repyned greatly, and did him miscall, That had from hoggish forme him brought to naturall.

Said Guyon: 'See the mind of beastly man, That hath so soon forgot the excellence Of his creation when he life began, That now he chooseth, with vile difference, To be a beast, and lacke intelligence.'

Fairy Queen, book ii. canto 12.

In Plutarch's dialogue, Ulysses, after his own companions have been restored to the human form, solicits Circe to restore in the same manner any other Greeks who may be under her enchantments. Circe consents, provided they desire it. Gryllus, endowed with speech for the purpose, answers for all, that they had rather remain as they are; and supports the decision by showing the greater comfort of their condition as it is, to what it would probably be if they were again sent forth to share the common lot of mankind. We have unfortunately only the beginning of the dialogue, of which the greater portion has perished.

It might be seen that, to a man who traced his ancestry from the palace of Circe, the first care would be the continuance of his ancient race; but a wife presented to him the forethought of a perturbation of his equanimity, which he never could bring himself to encounter. He liked to dine well, and withal to dine quietly, and to have quiet friends at his table, with whom he could discuss questions which might afford ample room for pleasant conversation, and none for acrimonious dispute. He feared that a wife would interfere with his dinner, his company, and his after-dinner bottle of port. For the perpetuation of his name, he relied on an orphan niece, whom he had brought up from a child, who superintended his household, and sate at the head of his table. She was to be his heiress, and her husband was to take his name. He left the choice to her, but reserved to himself a veto, if he should think the aspirant unworthy of the honourable appellation.

The young lady had too much taste, feeling, and sense to be likely to make a choice which her uncle would not approve; but time, as it rolled on, foreshadowed a result which the squire had not anticipated. Miss Gryll did not seem likely to make any choice at all. The atmosphere of quiet enjoyment in which she had grown up seemed to have steeped her feelings in its own tranquillity; and still more, the affection which she felt for her uncle, and the conviction that, though he had always premeditated her marriage, her departure from his house would be the severest blow that fate could inflict on him, led her to postpone what she knew must be an evil day to him, and might peradventure not be a good one to her.

'Oh, the ancient name of Gryll!; sighed the squire to himself. 'What if it should pass away in the nineteenth century, after having lived from the time of Circe!'

Often, indeed, when he looked at her at the head of his table, the star of his little circle, joyous herself, and the source of joy in others, he thought the actual state of things admitted no change for the better, and the perpetuity of the old name became a secondary consideration; but though the purpose was dimmed in the evening, it usually brightened in the morning. In the meantime, the young lady had many suitors, who were permitted to plead their cause, though they made little apparent progress.

Several young gentlemen of fair promise, seemingly on the point of being accepted, had been, each in his turn, suddenly and summarily dismissed. Why, was the young lady's secret. If it were known, it would be easy, she said, in these days of artificial manners, to counterfeit the presence of the qualities she liked, and, still more easy, the absence of the qualities she disliked. There was sufficient diversity in the characters of the rejected to place conjecture at fault, and Mr. Gryll began to despair.

The uncle and niece had come to a clear understanding on this subject. He might present to her attention any one whom he might deem worthy to be her suitor, and she might reject the suitor without assigning a reason for so doing. In this way several had appeared and passed away, like bubbles on a stream.

Was the young lady over fastidious, or were none among the presented worthy, or had that which was to touch her heart not yet appeared?

Mr. Gryll was the godfather of his niece, and to please him, she had been called Morgana. He had had some thoughts of calling her Circe, but acquiesced in the name of a sister enchantress, who had worked out her own idea of a beautiful garden, and exercised similar power over the minds and forms of men.



Moisten your lungs with wine. The dog-star's sway Returns, and all things thirst beneath his ray. Alcaeus

Falernum. Opimianum. Annorum. Centum. Heu! Heu! inquit Trimalchio, ergo diutius vivit vinum quam homuncio! Quare reyye reviovas faciamus. Vita vinum est.— Petronius Arbiter.

Falernian Opimian Wine an hundred years old. Alas! Alas! exclaimed Trimalchio. This wine lives longer than man! Wherefore let us sing, 'moisten your lungs.' Wine is life.

Wordsworth's question, in his Poets Epitaph,

Art thou a man of purple cheer, A rosy man, right plump to see?

might have been answered in the affirmative by the Reverend Doctor Opimian. The worthy divine dwelt in an agreeably situated vicarage, on the outskirts of the New Forest. A good living, a comfortable patrimony, a moderate dowry with his wife, placed him sufficiently above the cares of the world to enable him to gratify all his tastes without minute calculations of cost. His tastes, in fact, were four: a good library, a good dinner, a pleasant garden, and rural walks. He was an athlete in pedestrianism. He took no pleasure in riding, either on horseback or in a carriage; but he kept a brougham for the service of Mrs. Opimian, and for his own occasional use in dining out.

Mrs. Opimian was domestic. The care of the doctor had supplied her with the best books on cookery, to which his own inventive genius and the kindness of friends had added a large, and always increasing manuscript volume. The lady studied them carefully, and by diligent superintendence left the doctor nothing to desire in the service of his table. His cellar was well stocked with a selection of the best vintages, under his own especial charge. In all its arrangements his house was a model of order and comfort; and the whole establishment partook of the genial physiognomy of the master. From the master and mistress to the cook, and from the cook to the torn cat, there was about the inhabitants of the vicarage a sleek and purring rotundity of face and figure that denoted community of feelings, habits, and diet; each in its kind, of course, for the doctor had his port, the cook her ale, and the cat his milk, in sufficiently liberal allowance. In the morning while Mrs. Opimian found ample occupation in the details of her household duties and the care of her little family, the doctor, unless he had predestined the whole day to an excursion, studied in his library. In the afternoon he walked; in the evening he dined; and after dinner read to his wife and family, or heard his children read to him. This was his home life. Now and then he dined out; more frequently than at any other place with his friend and neighbour, Mr. Gryll, who entirely sympathised with him in his taste for a good dinner.

Beyond the limits of his ordinary but within those of his occasional range was a solitary round tower on an eminence backed with wood, which had probably in old days been a landmark for hunters; but having in modern days no very obvious use, was designated, as many such buildings are, by the name of The Folly. The country people called it 'The Duke's Folly,' though who the Duke in question was nobody could tell. Tradition had dropped his name.

One fine Midsummer day, with a southerly breeze and a cloudless sky, the doctor, having taken an early breakfast, in the progress of which he had considerably reduced the altitude of a round of beef, set out with a good stick in his hand and a Newfoundland dog at his heels for one of his longest walks, such as he could only take in the longest days.

Arriving at the Folly, which he had not visited for a long time, he was surprised to find it enclosed, and having at the back the novelty of a covered passage, built of the same gray stone as the tower itself. This passage passed away into the wood at the back, whence was ascending a wreath of smoke which immediately recalled to him the dwelling of Circe.{1} Indeed, the change before him had much the air of enchantment; and the Circean similitude was not a little enhanced by the antique masonry,{2} and the expanse of sea which was visible from the eminence. He leaned over the gate, repeated aloud the lines of the Odyssey, and fell into a brown study, from which he was aroused by the approach of a young gentleman from within the enclosure.

1 (Greek passage) Od. k 145-152. I climbed a cliff with spear and sword in hand, Whose ridge o'erlooked a shady length of land: To learn if aught of mortal works appear, Or cheerful voice of mortal strike the ear. From the high point I marked, in distant view, A stream of curling smoke ascending blue, And spiry tops, the tufted trees above, Of Circe's palace bosomed in the grove. Thither to haste, the region to explore, Was first my thought. . .

2 (Greek passage) Id. 210, 211.

The palace in a woody vale they found, High-raised of stone, a shaded space around. Pope.

'I beg your pardon, sir,' said the doctor, 'but my curiosity is excited by what I see here; and if you do not think it impertinent, and would inform me how these changes have come about, I should be greatly obliged.'

'Most willingly, sir,' said the other; 'but if you will walk in, and see what has been done, the obligation will be mine.'

The doctor readily accepted the proposal. The stranger led the way, across an open space in the wood, to a circular hall, from each side of which a wide passage led, on the left hand to the tower, and on the right to the new building, which was so masked by the wood as not to be visible except from within the glade. It was a square structure of plain stone, much in the same style as that of the tower.

The young gentleman took the left-hand passage, and introduced the doctor to the lower floor of the tower.

'I have divided the tower,' he observed, 'into three rooms: one on each floor. This is the dining-room; above it is my bedroom; above it again is my library. The prospect is good from all the floors, but from the library it is most extensive, as you look over the woods far away into the open sea.'

'A noble dining-room,' said the doctor. 'The height is well proportioned to the diameter. That circular table well becomes the form of the room, and gives promise of a fine prospect in its way.'

'I hope you will favour me by forming a practical judgment on the point,' said his new acquaintance, as he led the way to the upper floor, the doctor marvelling at the extreme courtesy with which he was treated. 'This building,' thought he, 'might belong to the age of chivalry, and my host might be Sir Calidore himself.' But the library brought him back to other days.

The walls were covered with books, the upper portion accessible by a gallery, running entirely round the apartment. The books of the lower circle were all classical; those of the upper, English, Italian, and French, with a few volumes in Spanish.

The young gentleman took down a Homer, and pointed out to the doctor the passage which, as he leaned over the gate, he had repeated from the Odyssey, This accounted to the doctor for the deference shown to him. He saw at once into the Greek sympathy.

'You have a great collection of books,' said the doctor.

'I believe,' said the young gentleman, 'I have all the best books in the languages I cultivate. Home Tooke says: "Greek, Latin, Italian, and French, are unfortunately the usual bounds of an English scholar's acquisition." I think any scholar fortunate whose acquisition extends so far. These languages and our own comprise, I believe, with a few rare exceptions, all the best books in the world. I may add Spanish for the sake of Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Calderon.{1}

1 Mr. Buchanan says that Peacock learned Spanish at an advanced period of life, which ought to have been mentioned in our introductory memoir. Scarcely a Spanish book, however, appears in the catalogue of his library.—G.

It was a dictum of Porson, that "Life is too short to learn German ": meaning, I apprehend, not that it is too difficult to be acquired within the ordinary space of life, but that there is nothing in it to compensate for the portion of life bestowed on its acquirement, however little that may be.'{1}

1 Mr. Hayward's French hotel-keeper in Germany had a different, but not less cogent reason for not learning German. 'Whenever a dish attracts attention by the art displayed in its conception or preparation, apart from the material, the artist will commonly be discovered to be French. Many years ago we had the curiosity to inquire at the Hotel de France, at Dresden, to whom our party were indebted for the enjoyment they had derived from a supreme de volaille, and were informed the cook and the master of the hotel were one and the same person: a Frenchman, ci- devant chef of a Russian minister. He had been eighteen years in Germany, but knew not a word of any language but his own. "A quoi bon, messieurs" was his reply to our expression of astonishment; "a quoi bon apprendre la langue d'un peuple qui ne possede pas une cuisine?" '—Art of Dining, pp, 69, 70.

The doctor was somewhat puzzled what to say. He had some French and more Italian, being fond of romances of chivalry; and in Greek and Latin he thought himself a match for any man; but he was more occupied with speculations on the position and character of his new acquaintance than on the literary opinions he was enunciating. He marvelled to find a young man, rich enough to do what he here saw done, doing anything of the kind, and fitting up a library in a solitary tower, instead of passing his time in clubs and reunions, and other pursuits and pleasures of general society. But he thought it necessary to say something to the point, and rejoined:

'Porson was a great man, and his dictum would have weighed with me if I had had a velleity towards German; but I never had any. But I rather wonder you should have placed your library on the upper instead of the middle floor. The prospect, as you have observed, is fine from all the floors; but here you have the sea and the sky to the greatest advantage; and I would assign my best look-out to the hours of dressing and undressing; the first thing in the morning, the last at night, and the half-hour before dinner. You can give greater attention to the views before you when you are following operations, important certainly, but mechanical from repetition, and uninteresting in themselves, than when you are engaged in some absorbing study, which probably shuts out all perception of the external world.'

'What you say is very true, sir,' said the other; 'but you know the lines of Milton—

'Or let my lamp, at midnight hour, Be seen in some high lonely tower, Where I may oft outwatch the Bear, With thrice great Hermes.

'These lines have haunted me from very early days, and principally influenced me in purchasing this tower, and placing my library on the top of it. And I have another association with such a mode of life.'

A French clock in the library struck two, and the young gentleman proposed to his visitor to walk into the house. They accordingly descended the stairs, and crossed the entrance-hall to a large drawing-room, simply but handsomely furnished; having some good pictures on the walls, an organ at one end of the room, a piano and harp at the other, and an elegantly-disposed luncheon in the middle.

'At this time of the year,' said the young gentleman, 'I lunch at two, and dine at eight. This gives me two long divisions of the morning, for any in-door and out-door purposes. I hope you will partake with me. You will not find a precedent in Homer for declining the invitation.'

'Really,' said the doctor, 'that argument is cogent and conclusive. I accept with pleasure: and indeed my long walk has given me an appetite.'

'Now you must know,' said the young gentleman, 'I have none but female domestics. You will see my two waiting-maids.'

He rang the bell, and the specified attendants appeared: two young girls about sixteen and seventeen; both pretty, and simply, but very becomingly, dressed.

Of the provision set before him the doctor preferred some cold chicken and tongue. Madeira and sherry were on the table, and the young attendants offered him hock and claret. The doctor took a capacious glass from each of the fair cup-bearers, and pronounced both wines excellent, and deliciously cool. He declined more, not to overheat himself in walking, and not to infringe on his anticipations of dinner. The dog, who had behaved throughout with exemplary propriety, was not forgotten. The doctor rose to depart.

'I think,' said his host, 'I may now ask you the Homeric question—(Greek phrase){1}

1 Who, and whence, are you?

'Most justly,' said the doctor. My name is Theophilus Opimian. I am a Doctor of Divinity, and the incumbent of Ashbrook-cum-Ferndale.'

'I am simply,' said the other, 'Algernon Falconer. I have inherited some money, but no land. Therefore, having the opportunity, I made this purchase to fit it up in my own fashion, and live in it in my own way.'

The doctor preparing to depart, Mr. Falconer proposed to accompany him part of the way, and calling out another Newfoundland dog, who immediately struck up a friendship with his companion, he walked away with the doctor, the two dogs gamboling before them.



Mille hominum species, et rerum discolor usus: Velle suum cuique est, nee voto vivitur uno. Persius.

In mind and taste men differ as in frame: Each has his special will, and few the same.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. It strikes me as singular that, with such a house, you should have only female domestics.

Mr. Falconer. It is not less singular perhaps that they are seven sisters, all the children of two old servants of my father and mother. The eldest is about my own age, twenty-six, so that they have all grown up with me in time and place. They live in great harmony together, and divide among them the charge of all the household duties. Those whom you saw are the two youngest.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. If the others acquit themselves as well, you have a very efficient staff; but seven young women as the establishment of one young bachelor, for such I presume you to be (Mr. Falconer assented), is something new and strange. The world is not over charitable.

[Illustration: Seven young women in a bachelor's establishment. 056-24

Mr. Falconer. The world will never suppose a good motive where it can suppose a bad one. I would not willingly offend any of its prejudices. I would not affect eccentricity. At the same time, I do not feel disposed to be put out of my way because it is not the way of the world—Le Chemin du Monde, as a Frenchman entitled Congreve's comedy{1}—but I assure you these seven young women live here as they might do in the temple of Vesta.

1 Congreve, le meilleur auteur comique d'Angleterre: ses pieces les plus estimees sont Le Fourbe, Le Vieux Garcon, Amour pour Amour, L Epouse du Matin, Le Chemin du Monde.— Manuel Bibliographique. Par G. Peignot. Paris, 1800.

It was a singular combination of circumstances that induced and enabled me to form such an establishment; but I would not give it up, nor alter it, nor diminish it, nor increase it, for any earthly consideration.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. You hinted that, besides Milton's verses, you had another association of ideas with living in the top of a tower.

Mr. Falconer. I have read of somebody who lived so, and admitted to his sanctum only one young person, a niece or a daughter, I forget which, but on very rare occasions would descend to speak to some visitor who had previously propitiated the young lady to obtain him an interview. At last the young lady introduced one who proposed for her, and gained the consent of the recluse (I am not sure of his name, but I always call him Lord Noirmont) to carry her off. I think this was associated with some affliction that was cured, or some mystery that was solved, and that the hermit returned into the everyday world. I do not know where I read it, but I have always liked the idea of living like Lord Noirmont, when I shall have become a sufficiently disappointed man.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. You look as little like a disappointed man as any I have seen; but as you have neither daughter nor niece, you would have seven links instead of one between the top of your tower and the external world.

Mr. Falconer. We are all born to disappointment. It is as well to be prospective. Our happiness is not in what is, but in what is to be. We may be disappointed in our everyday realities, and if not, we may make an ideality of the unattainable, and quarrel with Nature for not giving what she has not to give. It is unreasonable to be so disappointed, but it is disappointment not the less.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. It is something like the disappointment of the men of Gotham, when they could not fish up the moon from the sea.

Mr. Falconer. It is very like it, and there are more of us in the predicament of the men of Gotham than are ready to acknowledge the similitude.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am afraid I am too matter-of-fact to sympathise very clearly with this form of aestheticism; but here is a charming bit of forest scenery. Look at that old oak with the deer under it; the long and deep range of fern running up from it to that beech-grove on the upland, the lights and shadows on the projections and recesses of the wood, and the blaze of foxglove in its foreground. It is a place in which a poet might look for a glimpse of a Hamadryad.

Mr. Falconer. Very beautiful for the actual present—too beautiful for the probable future. Some day or other the forest will be disforested; the deer will be either banished or destroyed; the wood will be either shut up or cut down. Here is another basis for disappointment. The more we admire it now, the more we shall regret it then. The admiration of sylvan and pastoral scenery is at the mercy of an Enclosure Act, and, instead of the glimpse of a Hamadryad, you will some time see a large board warning you off the premises under penalty of rigour of law.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. But, my dear young friend, you have yourself enclosed a favourite old resort of mine and of many others. I did not see such a board as you speak of; but there is an effective fence which answers the purpose.

Mr. Falconer. True; but when the lot of crown land was put up for sale, it was sure to be purchased and shut up by somebody. At any rate, I have not interfered with the external picturesque; and I have been much more influenced by an intense desire of shutting up myself than of shutting up the place, merely because it is my property.

About half-way from their respective homes the two new friends separated, the doctor having promised to walk over again soon to dine and pass the night.

The doctor soliloquised as he walked.

'Strange metamorphosis of the old tower. A good dining-room. A good library. A bedroom between them: he did not show it me. Good wine: excellent. Pretty waiting-maids, exceedingly pretty. Two of seven Vestals, who maintain the domestic fire on the hearth of the young Numa. By the way, they had something of the Vestal costume: white dresses with purple borders. But they had nothing on their heads but their own hair, very gracefully arranged. The Vestals had head-dresses, which hid their hair, if they had any. They were shaved on admission. Perhaps the hair was allowed to grow again. Perhaps not. I must look into the point. If not, it was a wise precaution. "Hair, the only grace of form,"{1} says the Arbiter elegantiarum, who compares a bald head to a fungus.{2} A head without hair, says Ovid, is as a field without grass, and a shrub without leaves.{3} Venus herself, if she had appeared with a bald head, would not have tempted Apuleius: {4} and I am of his mind. A husband, in Menander, in a fit of jealous madness, shaves his wife's head; and when he sees what he has made of her, rolls at her feet in a paroxysm of remorse. He was at any rate safe from jealousy till it grew again. And here is a subtlety of Euripides, which none of his commentators have seen into. AEgisthus has married Electra to a young farmer, who cultivates his own land. He respects the Princess from magnanimity, and restores her a pure virgin to her brother Orestes. "Not probable," say some critics. But I say highly probable: for she comes on with her head shaved. There is the talisman, and the consummate artifice of the great poet. It is ostensibly a symbol of grief; but not the less a most efficient ally of the aforesaid magnanimity. "In mourning," says Aristotle, "sympathising with the dead, we deform ourselves by cutting off our hair." And truly, it is.

1 Quod solum formse decus est, cecidere capilli.—Petronius, c. 109.

2. .. laevior. . . rotundo Horti tubere, quod creavit unda. Ibid. 'A head, to speak in the gardener's style, is a bulbous excrescence, growing up between the shoulders. '—G. A. Steevens: Lecture on Heads.

3 Turpe pecus mutilum; turpe est sine gramme campus; Et sine fronde frutex; et sine crine caput. Ovid: Arks Amatorio, iii. 249.

4 At vero, quod nefas dicere, neque sit ullum hujus rei tam dirum exemplum: si cujuslibet eximiae pulcherrimaeque fominae caput capillo exspoliaveris, et faciem nativa specie nudaveris, licet ilia coelo dejecta, mari edita, fluctibus educata, licet, inquam, Venus ipsa fuerit, licet omni Gratiarum choro stipata, et toto Cupidinum populo comitata, et balteo suo cincta, cinnama fragrans, et balsama rorans, calva processerit, placere non potent nee Vulcano suo.— Apuleius: Metamorph. ii. 25.

But, indeed, what it is profanation to speak, nor let there be hereof any so dire example, if you despoil of its hair the head of any most transcendent and perfectly beautiful woman, and present her face thus denuded of its native loveliness, though it were even she, the descended from heaven, the born of the sea, the educated in the waves, though, I say, it were Venus herself, attended by the Graces, surrounded by the Loves, cinctured with her girdle, fragrant with spices, and dewy with balsams, yet, if she appeared with a bald head, she could not please even her own Vulcan. A woman's head shaved is a step towards a death's head. As a symbol of grief it was not necessary to the case of Electra; for in the sister tragedies of AEschylus and Sophocles her grief is equally great, and she appears with flowing hair; but in them she is an unmarried maid, and there is no dramatic necessity for so conspicuous an antidote to her other charms. Neither is it according to custom; for in recent grief the whole hair was sacrificed, but in the memory of an old sorrow only one or two curls were cut off.{1} Therefore, it was the dramatic necessity of a counter-charm that influenced Euripides. Helen knew better than to shave her head in a case where custom required it. Euripides makes Electra reproach Helen for thus preserving her beauty;{2} which further illustrates his purpose in shaving the head of Electra where custom did not require it. And Terence showed his taste in not shaving the head of his heroine in the Phormio, though the severity of Athenian custom would have required it. Her beauty shone through her dishevelled hair, but with no hair at all she would not have touched the heart of Antipho.

1 Sophocles: Electra, v. 449.

2 Euripides: Orestes, v. 128.

But wherefore does my mind discourse these things to me, suspending dismal images on lovely realities? for the luxuriant hair of these young girls is of no ordinary beauty. Their tresses have not been deposited under the shadow of the sacred lotus, as Pliny tells us those of the Vestals were. Well, this young gentleman's establishment may be perfectly moral, strictly correct, but in one sense it is morality thrown away: the world will give him no credit for it. I am sure Mrs. Opimian will not. If he were married it would be different. But I think, if he were to marry now, there would be a fiercer fire than Vesta's among his Lares. The temple would be too hot for the seven virgins. I suppose, as he is so resolute against change, he does not mean to marry. Then he talks about anticipated disappointment in some unrealisable ideality, leading him to live like Lord Noirmont, whom I never heard of before. He is far enough off from that while he lunches and walks as he does, and no doubt dines in accordance. He will not break his heart for any moon in the water, if his cooks are as good as his waiting-maids, and the wine which he gave me is a fair specimen of his cellar. He is learned too. Greek seems to be the strongest chord in his sympathies. If it had not been for the singular accident of his overhearing me repeat half a dozen lines of Homer, I should not have been asked to walk in. I might have leaned over the gate till sunset, and have had no more notice taken of me than if I had been a crow.'

At dinner the doctor narrated his morning adventure to Mrs. Opimian, and found her, as he had anticipated, most virtuously uncharitable with respect to the seven sisters. She did not depart from her usual serenity, but said, with equal calmness and decision, that she had no belief in the virtue of young men.

'My dear,' said the doctor, 'it has been observed, though I forget by whom, that there is in every man's life a page which is usually doubled down. Perhaps there is such a page in the life of our young friend; but if there be, the volume which contains it is not in the same house with the seven sisters.'

The doctor could not retire to rest without verifying his question touching the hair of the Vestals; and stepping into his study, was taking out an old folio, to consult Lipsius de Vestalibus, when a passage flashed across his memory which seemed decisive on the point. 'How could I overlook it?' he thought—

'Ignibus Iliacis aderam: cum lapsa capillis Decidit ante sacros lanea vitta focos:{1}

says Rhea Sylvia in the Fasti.'

He took down the Fasti, and turning over the leaves, lighted on another line:—

Attonitae flebant demisso crine ministrae.{2}

With the note of an old commentator: 'This will enlighten those who doubt if the Vestals wore their hair.' 'I infer,' said the doctor, 'that I have doubted in good company; but it is clear that the Vestals did wear their hair of second growth.

1 The woollen wreath, by Vesta's inmost shrine, Fell from my hair before the fire divine.

2 With hair dishevelled wept the vestal train.

But if it was wrapped up in wool, it might as well not have been there. The vitta was at once the symbol and the talisman of chastity. Shall I recommend my young friend to wrap up the heads of his Vestals in a vitta? It would be safer for all parties. But I cannot imagine a piece of advice for which the giver would receive less thanks. And I had rather see them as they are. So I shall let well alone.'



(Greek passage.) Euripides: Alcestis.

Rejoice thy spirit: drink: the passing day Esteem thine own, and all beyond as Fortune's.

The doctor was not long without remembering his promise to revisit his new acquaintance, and, purposing to remain till the next morning, he set out later in the day. The weather was intensely hot: he walked slowly, and paused more frequently than usual, to rest under the shade of trees. He was shown into the drawing-room, where he was shortly joined by Mr. Falconer, and very cordially welcomed.

The two friends dined together in the lower room of the tower. The dinner and wine were greatly to the doctor's mind. In due time they adjourned to the drawing-room, and the two young handmaids who had waited at dinner attended with coffee and tea. The doctor then said—'You are well provided with musical instruments. Do you play?'

Mr. Falconer. No. I have profited by the observation of Doctor Johnson: 'Sir, once on a time I took to fiddling; but I found that to fiddle well I must fiddle all my life, and I thought I could do something better.'

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Then, I presume, these are pieces of ornamental furniture, for the use of occasional visitors?

Mr. Falconer. Not exactly. My maids play on them, and sing to them.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Your maids!

Mr. Falconer. Even so. They have been thoroughly well educated, and are all accomplished musicians.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. And at what time do they usually play on them?

Mr. Falconer. Every evening about this time, when I am alone.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. And why not when you have company?

Mr. Falconer. La Morgue aristocratique, which pervades all society, would not tolerate such a proceeding on the part of young women, of whom some had superintended the preparation of the dinner, and others attended on it. It would not have been incongruous in the Homeric age.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Then I hope you will allow it to be not incongruous this evening, Homer being the original vinculum between you and me.

Mr. Falconer. Would you like to hear them?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Indeed I should.

The two younger sisters having answered the summons, and the doctor's wish having been communicated, the seven appeared together, all in the same dress of white and purple.

'The seven Pleiads!' thought the doctor. 'What a constellation of beauty!' He stood up and bowed to them, which they gracefully acknowledged.

They then played on, and sang to, the harp and piano. The doctor was enchanted.

After a while, they passed over to the organ, and performed some sacred music of Mozart and Beethoven. They then paused and looked round, as if for instructions.

'We usually end,' said Mr. Falconer, 'with a hymn to St. Catharine, but perhaps it may not be to your taste; although Saint Catharine is a saint of the English Church Calendar.'

'I like all sacred music,' said the doctor. 'And I am not disposed to object to a saint of the English Church Calendar.'

'She is also,' said Mr. Falconer, 'a most perfect emblem of purity, and in that sense alone there can be no fitter image to be presented to the minds of young women.'

'Very true,' said the doctor. 'And very strange withal,' he thought to himself.

The sisters sang their hymn, made their obeisance, and departed.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. The hands of these young women do not show signs of menial work.

Mr. Falconer. They are the regulating spirits of the household. They have a staff of their own for the coarser and harder work.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Their household duties, then, are such as Homeric damsels discharged in the homes of their fathers, with (Greek word) for the lower drudgery? Mr. Falconer. Something like it.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Young ladies, in short, in manners and accomplishments, though not in social position; only more useful in a house than young ladies generally are.

Mr. Falconer. Something like that, too. If you know the tree by its fruit, the manner in which this house is kept may reconcile you to the singularity of the experiment.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am perfectly reconciled to it. The experiment is eminently successful.

The doctor always finished his day with a tumbler of brandy and water: soda water in summer, and hot water in winter. After his usual draught he retired to his chamber, where he slept like a top, and dreamed of Electra and Nausicaa, Vestals, Pleiads, and Saint Catharine, and woke with the last words he had heard sung on the preceding night still ringing in his ears:—

Dei virgo Catharina, Lege constans in divina, Coli gemma preciosa, Margarita fulgida, Sponsa Christi gloriosa, Paradisi viola!{1}

1 Virgin bride, supremely bright, Gem and flower of heavenly light, Pearl of the empyreal skies, Violet of Paradise!



Despairing beside a clear stream A shepherd forsaken was laid.

The next morning, after a comfortable breakfast, the doctor set out on his walk home. His young friend accompanied him part of the way, and did not part with him till he had obtained a promise of another and longer visit.

The doctor, as usual, soliloquised as he walked. 'No doubt these are Vestals. The purity of the establishment is past question. This young gentleman has every requisite which her dearest friends would desire in a husband for Miss Gryll.

And she is in every way suited to him. But these seven damsels interpose themselves, like the sevenfold shield of Ajax. There is something very attractive in these damsels:

Facies non omnibus una, Nec diversa tamen: qualem decet esse sororum.{1}

1 Though various features did the sisters grace, A sister's likeness was in every face. Addison: Ovid. Met. 1. ii.

If I had such an establishment, I should be loath to break it up. It is original, in these days of monotony. It is satisfactory, in these days of uncongenial relations between master and servant It is effective, in the admirable arrangements of the household. It is graceful, in the personal beauty and tasteful apparel of the maidens. It is agreeable, in their manners, in their accomplishments, in their musical skill. It is like an enchanted palace. Mr. Gryll, who talks so much of Circe, would find himself at home; he might fancy himself waited on by her handmaids, the daughters of fountains, groves, and rivers. Miss Gryll might fancy herself in the dwelling of her namesake, Morgana. But I fear she would be for dealing with it as Orlando did with Morgana, breaking the talisman and dissolving the enchantment This would be a pity; but it would also be a pity that these two young persons should not come together. But why should I trouble myself with matchmaking? It is always a thankless office. If it turns out well, your good service is forgotten. If it turns out ill, you are abused by both parties.'

The doctor's soliloquy was cut short by a sound of lamentation, which, as he went on, came to him in louder and louder bursts. He was attracted to the spot whence the sounds proceeded, and had some difficulty in discovering a doleful swain, who was ensconced in a mass of fern, taller than himself if he had been upright; and but that, by rolling over and over in the turbulence of his grief, he had flattened a large space down to the edge of the forest brook near which he reclined, he would have remained invisible in his lair. The tears in his eyes, and the passionate utterances of his voice, contrasted strangely with a round russetin face, which seemed fortified by beef and ale against all possible furrows of care; but against love, even beef and ale, mighty talismans as they are, are feeble barriers. Cupid's arrows had pierced through the os triplex of treble X, and the stricken deer lay mourning by the stream.

The doctor approaching kindly inquired, 'What is the matter?' but was answered only by a redoubled burst of sorrow, and an emphatic rejection of all sympathy.

'You can't do me any good.'

'You do not know that,' said the doctor. 'No man knows what good another can do him till he communicates his trouble.'

For some time the doctor could obtain no other answer than the repetition of 'You can't do me any good.' But at length the patience and kind face of the inquirer had their effect on the sad shepherd, and he brought out with a desperate effort and a more clamorous explosion of grief—

'She won't have me!'

'Who won't have you?'

'Well, if you must know,' said the swain, 'you must. It's one of the young ladies up at the Folly.'

'Young ladies?' said the doctor.

'Servants they call themselves,' said the other; 'but they are more like ladies, and hold their heads high enough, when one of them won't have me. Father's is one of the best farms for miles round, and it's all his own. He's a true old yeoman, father is. And there's nobody but him and me. And if I had a nice wife, that would be a good housekeeper for him, and play and sing to him of an evening—for she can do anything, she can—read, write, and keep accounts, and play and sing—I've heard her—and make a plum-pudding—I've seen her—we should be as happy as three crickets—four, perhaps, at the year's end: and she won't have me!'

'You have put the question?' said the doctor.

'Plump,' said the other. 'And she looked at first as if she was going to laugh. She didn't, though. Then she looked serious, and said she was sorry for me. She said she saw I was in earnest She knew I was a good son, and deserved a good wife; but she couldn't have me. Miss, said I, do you like anybody better? No, she said very heartily.'

'That is one comfort,' said the doctor.

'What comfort,' said the other, 'when she won't have me?'

'She may alter her mind,' said the doctor, 'if she does not prefer any one else. Besides, she only says she can't.'

'Can't,' said the other, 'is civil for won't. That's all.'

'Does she say why she can't?' said the doctor.

'Yes,' said the other. 'She says she and her sisters won't part with each other and their young master.'

'Now,' said the doctor, 'you have not told me which of the seven sisters is the one in question.'

'It's the third,' said the other. 'What they call the second cook. There's a housekeeper and two cooks, and two housemaids and two waiting maids. But they only manage for the young master. There are others that wait on them.

'And what is her name?' said the doctor.

'Dorothy,' said the other; 'her name is Dorothy. Their names follow, like ABC, only that A comes last. Betsey, Catherine, Dorothy, Eleanor, Fanny, Grace, Anna. But they told me it was not the alphabet they were christened from; it was the key of A minor, if you know what that means.'

'I think I do,' said the doctor, laughing. 'They were christened from the Greek diatonic scale, and make up two conjunct tetrachords, if you know what that means.'

'I can't say I do,' said the other, looking bewildered.

'And so,' said the doctor, 'the young gentleman, whose name is Algernon, is the Proslambanomenos, or key-note, and makes up the octave. His parents must have designed it as a foretelling that he and his seven foster-sisters were to live in harmony all their lives. But how did you become acquainted?'

'Why,' said the other, 'I take a great many things to the house from our farm, and it's generally she that takes them in.'

'I know the house well,' said the doctor, 'and the master, and the maids. Perhaps he may marry, and they may follow the example. Live in hope. Tell me your name.'

'Hedgerow,' said the other; 'Harry Hedgerow. And if you know her, ain't she a beauty?'

'Why, yes,' said the doctor; 'they are all good-looking.'

'And she won't have me,' cried the other, but with a more subdued expression. The doctor had consoled him, and given him a ray of hope. And they went on their several ways.

The doctor resumed his soliloquy.

'Here is the semblance of something towards a solution of the difficulty. If one of the damsels should marry, it would break the combination. One will not by herself. But what if seven apple-faced Hedgerows should propose simultaneously, seven notes in the key of A minor, an octave below? Stranger things have happened. I have read of six brothers who had the civility to break their necks in succession, that the seventh, who was the hero of the story, might inherit an estate. But, again and again, why should I trouble myself with matchmaking? I had better leave things to take their own course.'

Still in his interior speculum the doctor could not help seeing a dim reflection of himself pronouncing the nuptial benediction on his two young friends.



Indulge Genio: carpamus dulcia: nostrum est Quod vivis: cinis, et manes, et fabula fies. Vive memor lethi: fugit hora: hoc quod loquor, inde est. Persius.

Indulge thy Genius, while the hour's thine own: Even while we speak, some part of it has flown. Snatch the swift-passing good: 'twill end ere long In dust and shadow, and an old wife's song.

'Agapetus and Agapete,' said the Reverend Doctor Opimian, the next morning at breakfast, 'in the best sense of the words: that, I am satisfied, is the relation between this young gentleman and his handmaids.'

Mrs. Opimian. Perhaps, doctor, you will have the goodness to make your view of this relation a little more intelligible to me.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Assuredly, my dear. The word signifies 'beloved' in its purest sense. And in this sense it was used by Saint Paul in reference to some of his female co-religionists and fellow-labourers in the vineyard, in whose houses he occasionally dwelt. And in this sense it was applied to virgins and holy men, who dwelt under the same roof in spiritual love.

Mrs. Opimian. Very likely, indeed. You are a holy man, doctor, but I think, if you were a bachelor, and I were a maid, I should not trust myself to be your aga—aga—

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Agapete. But I never pretended to this sort of spiritualism. I followed the advice of Saint Paul, who says it is better to marry.

Mrs. Opimian. You need not finish the quotation.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Agapete is often translated 'adoptive sister.' A very possible relation, I think, where there are vows of celibacy, and inward spiritual grace.

Mrs. Opimian. Very possible, indeed: and equally possible where there are none.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. But more possible where there are seven adoptive sisters, than where there is only one.

Mrs. Opimian. Perhaps.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. The manners, my dear, of these damsels towards their young master are infallible indications of the relations between them. Their respectful deference to him is a symptom in which I cannot be mistaken.

Mrs. Opimian. I hope you are not.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am sure I am not. I would stake all my credit for observation and experience on the purity of the seven Vestals. I am not strictly accurate in calling them so: for in Rome the number of Vestals was only six. But there were seven Pleiads, till one disappeared. We may fancy she became a seventh Vestal. Or as the planets used to be seven, and are now more than fifty, we may pass a seventh Vestal in the name of modern progress.

Mrs. Opimian. There used to be seven deadly sins. How many has modern progress added to them?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. None, I hope, my dear. But this will be due, not to its own tendencies, but to the comprehensiveness of the old definitions.

Mrs. Opimian. I think I have heard something like your Greek word before.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Agapemone, my dear. You may have heard the word Agapemone.

Mrs. Opimian. That is it. And what may it signify?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. It signifies Abode of Love: spiritual love of course.

Mrs. Opimian. Spiritual love, which rides in carriages and four, fares sumptuously, like Dives, and protects itself with a high wall from profane observation.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Well, my dear, and there may be no harm in all that.

Mrs. Opimian. Doctor, you are determined not to see harm in anything.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am afraid I see more harm in many things than I like to see. But one reason for not seeing harm in this Agapemona matter is, that I hear so little about it The world is ready enough to promulgate scandal; but that which is quietly right may rest in peace.

Mrs. Opimian. Surely, doctor, you do not think this Agapemone right?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I only say I do not know whether it is right or wrong. It is nothing new. Three centuries ago there was a Family of Love, on which Middleton wrote a comedy. Queen Elizabeth persecuted this family; Middleton made it ridiculous; but it outlived them both, and there may have been no harm in it after all.

Mrs. Opimian. Perhaps, doctor, the world is too good to see any novelty except in something wrong.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Perhaps it is only wrong that arrests attention, because right is common, and wrong is rare. Of the many thousand persons who walk daily through a street you only hear of one who has been robbed or knocked down. If ever Hamlet's news—'that the world has grown honest'—should prove true, there would be an end of our newspaper. For, let us see, what is the epitome of a newspaper? In the first place, specimens of all the deadly sins, and infinite varieties of violence and fraud; a great quantity of talk, called by courtesy legislative wisdom, of which the result is 'an incoherent and undigested mass of law, shot down, as from a rubbish-cart, on the heads of the people ';{1} lawyers barking at each other in that peculiar style of dylactic delivery which is called forensic eloquence, and of which the first and most distinguished practitioner was Cerberus;{2} bear-garden meetings of mismanaged companies, in which directors and shareholders abuse each other in choice terms, not all to be found even in Rabelais; burstings of bank bubbles, which, like a touch of harlequin's wand, strip off their masks and dominoes from 'highly respectable' gentlemen, and leave them in their true figures of cheats and pickpockets; societies of all sorts, for teaching everybody everything, meddling with everybody's business, and mending everybody's morals; mountebank advertisements promising the beauty of Helen in a bottle of cosmetic, and the age of Old Parr in a box of pills; folly all alive in things called reunions; announcements that some exceedingly stupid fellow has been 'entertaining' a select company; matters, however multiform, multifarious, and multitudinous, all brought into family likeness by the varnish of false pretension with which they are all overlaid.

1 Jeremy Bentham.

2 Cerberus forensis erat causidicus.—Petronius Arbiter.

Mrs. Opimian. I did not like to interrupt you, doctor; but it struck me, while you were speaking, that in reading the newspaper you do not hear the bark of the lawyers.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. True; but no one who has once heard the wow-wow can fail to reproduce it in imagination.

Mrs. Opimian. You have omitted accidents, which occupy a large space in the newspaper. If the world grew ever so honest, there would still be accidents.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. But honesty would materially diminish the number. High-pressure steam-boilers would not scatter death and destruction around them, if the dishonesty of avarice did not tempt their employment, where the more costly low pressure would ensure absolute safety. Honestly built houses would not come suddenly down and crush their occupants. Ships, faithfully built and efficiently manned, would not so readily strike on a lee shore, nor go instantly to pieces on the first touch of the ground. Honestly made sweetmeats would not poison children; honestly compounded drugs would not poison patients. In short, the larger portion of what we call accidents are crimes.

Mrs. Opimian. I have often heard you say, of railways and steam-vessels, that the primary cause of their disasters is the insane passion of the public for speed. That is not crime, but folly.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. It is crime in those who ought to know better than to act in furtherance of the folly. But when the world has grown honest, it will no doubt grow wise. When we have got rid of crime, we may consider how to get rid of folly. So that question is adjourned to the Greek kalends.

Mrs. Opimian. There are always in a newspaper some things of a creditable character.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. When we are at war, naval and military heroism abundantly; but in time of peace these virtues sleep. They are laid up like ships in ordinary. No doubt, of the recorded facts of civil life some are good, and more are indifferent, neither good nor bad; but good and indifferent together are scarcely more than a twelfth part of the whole. Still, the matters thus presented are all exceptional cases. A hermit reading nothing but a newspaper might find little else than food for misanthropy; but living among friends, and in the bosom of our family, we see the dark side of life in the occasional picture, the bright is its every-day aspect The occasional is the matter of curiosity, of incident, of adventure, of things that really happen to few, and may possibly happen to any. The interest attendant on any action or event is in just proportion to its rarity; and, happily, quiet virtues are all around us, and obtrusive virtues seldom cross our path. On the whole, I agree in opinion with Theseus,{1} that there is more good than evil in the world.

1 Eurip. Suppl. 207: Herm.

Mrs. Opimian. I think, doctor, you would not maintain any opinion if you had not an authority two thousand years old for it.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Well, my dear, I think most opinions worth mentioning have an authority of about that age.



Cool the wine, Doris. Pour it in the cup, Simple, unmixed with water. Such dilution Serves only to wash out the spirit of man.

The doctor, under the attraction of his new acquaintance, had allowed more time than usual to elapse between his visits to Gryll Grange, and when he resumed them he was not long without communicating the metamorphosis of the old Tower, and the singularities of its inhabitants. They dined well as usual, and drank their wine cool.

Miss Gryll. There are many things in what you have told us that excite my curiosity; but first, what do you suppose is the young gentleman's religion?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. From the great liking he seems to have taken to me, I should think he was of the Church of England, if I did not rather explain it by our Greek sympathy. At the same time, he kept very carefully in view that Saint Catharine is a saint of the English Church Calendar. I imagine there is less of true piety than of an abstract notion of ideal beauty, even in his devotion to her. But it is so far satisfactory that he wished to prove his religion, such as it is, to be within the pale of the Church of England.

Miss Gryll. I like the idea of his closing the day with a hymn, sung in concert by his seven Vestals.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. I am glad you think charitably of the damsels. It is not every lady that would. But I am satisfied they deserve it.

Mr. Gryll. I should like to know the young gentleman. I wish you could manage to bring him here. Should not you like to see him, Morgana?

Miss Gryll. Yes, uncle.

Mr. Gryll. Try what you can do, doctor. We shall have before long some poetical and philosophical visitors. That may tempt him to join us.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. It may; but I am not confident. He seems to me to be indisposed to general society, and to care for nothing but woods, rivers, and the sea; Greek poetry, Saint Catharine, and the seven Vestals. However, I will try what can be done.

Mr. Gryll. But, doctor, I think he would scarcely have provided such a spacious dining-room, and so much domestic accommodation, if he had intended to shut himself up from society altogether. I expect that some day when you go there you will find a large party. Try if he will co-operate in the Aristophanic comedy.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. A good idea. That may be something to his mind.

Miss Gryll. Talking of comedy, doctor, what has become of Lord Curryfin, and his lecture on fish.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Why, Lord Michin Malicho,{1} Lord Facing-both-ways, and two or three other arch-quacks, have taken to merry-andrewising in a new arena, which they call the Science of Pantopragmatics, and they have bitten Lord Curryfin into tumbling with them; but the mania will subside when the weather grows cool; and no doubt we shall still have him at Thornback Bay, teaching the fishermen how to know a herring from a halibut.

1 'Marry, this is miching mallecho: it means mischief.' —Hamlet.

Miss Gryll. But pray, doctor, what is this new science?

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Why that, Miss Gryll, I cannot well make out. I have asked several professors of the science, and have got nothing in return but some fine varieties of rigmarole, of which I can make neither head nor tail. It seems to be a real art of talking about an imaginary art of teaching every man his own business. Nothing practical comes of it, and, indeed, so much the better. It will be at least harmless, as long as it is like Hamlet's reading, 'words., words, words.' Like most other science, it resolves itself into lecturing, lecturing, lecturing, about all sorts of matters, relevant and irrelevant: one enormous bore prating about jurisprudence, another about statistics, another about education, and so forth; the crambe repetita of the same rubbish, which has already been served up 'twies hot and twies cold,'{1} at as many other associations nicknamed scientific.

Miss Gryll. Then, doctor, I should think Lord Curryfin's lecture would be a great relief to the unfortunate audience.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. No doubt more amusing and equally profitable. Not a fish more would be caught for it, and this will typify the result of all such scientific talk. I had rather hear a practical cook lecture on bubble and squeak: no bad emblem of the whole affair.

Mr. Gryll. It has been said a man of genius can discourse on anything. Bubble and squeak seems a limited subject; but in the days of the French Revolution there was an amusing poem with that title;{2} and there might be an amusing lecture; especially if it were like the poem, discursive and emblematical. But men so dismally far gone in the affectation of earnestness would scarcely relish it.

1 And many a Jacke of Dover hast thou sold, That hath been twies hot and twies cold. Chaucer: The Coke's Prologue.

2 'Babble and Squeak: a Gallimaufry of British Beef with the Chopped Cabbage of Gallic Philosophy.' By Huddesford.



... gli occhi su levai, E vidi lei che si facea corona, Riflettendo da se gli eterni ral Dante: Paradiso, xxxi. 70-72.

I lifted up my gaze, And looked on her who made herself a crown, Reflecting from herself the eternal rays.

It was not long before the doctor again walked over to the Tower, to propose to his young friend to co-operate in the Aristophanic comedy.

He found him well disposed to do so, and they passed a portion of the afternoon in arranging their programme.

They dined, and passed the evening much as before. The next morning, as they were ascending to the library to resume their pleasant labour, the doctor said to himself, 'I have passed along galleries wherein were many chambers, and the doors in the day were more commonly open than shut, yet this chamber door of my young friend is always shut. There must be a mystery in it.' And the doctor, not generally given to morbid curiosity, found himself very curious about this very simple matter.

At last he mustered up courage to say, 'I have seen your library, dining-room, and drawing-room; but you have so much taste in internal arrangements, I should like to see the rest of the house.'

Mr. Falconer. There is not much more to see. You have occupied one of the best bedrooms. The rest do not materially differ.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. To say the truth, I should like to see your own.

Mr. Falconer. I am quite willing. But I have thought, perhaps erroneously, it is decorated in a manner you might not altogether approve.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Nothing indecorous, I hope.

Mr. Falconer. Quite the contrary. You may, perhaps, think it too much devoted to my peculiar views of the purity of ideal beauty, as developed in Saint Catharine.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. You have not much to apprehend on that score.

Mr. Falconer. You see, there is an altar, with an image of Saint Catharine, and the panels of the room are painted with subjects from her life, mostly copied from Italian masters. The pictures of St. Catharine and her legend very early impressed her on my mind as the type of ideal beauty—of all that can charm, irradiate, refine, exalt, in the best of the better sex.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. You are enthusiastic; but indeed, though she is retained as a saint in the Reformed Church, I am not very familiar with her history. And to me some of these pictures require explanation.

Mr. Falconer. I will tell you her legend as briefly as I may. And we will pass from picture to picture as the subjects arise.


Catharine was a Princess of Alexandria in the third century. She embraced the Christian religion by divine inspiration. She was pre-eminent in beauty, learning, and discourse. She converted her father and mother, and all with whom she came into communication. The Emperor Maxentius brought together the fifty wisest men of the empire to convert her from the error of her way, and she converted them all to the new faith. Maxentius burned her proselytes, and threatened her with a similar death. She remained firm. He had her publicly scourged, and cast her into prison to perish by famine. Going on an expedition, he left the execution of his orders to the empress and his chief general, Porphyrius. Angels healed her wounds and supplied her with food; and in a beatific vision the Saviour of the world placed a ring on her finger, and called her His bride.{1} The presence of the ring showed to her the truth of the visitation. The empress and Porphyrius visited the prison, and she converted them also. The emperor, returning, put the empress and Porphyrius to death; and after many ineffectual expostulations with Catharine, determined on putting her to death by the wheel which bears her name.

1 Maria, Vergine delle Vergini, e Misericordia delle Misericordie, vestita de i lampi del Sole, e coronata de i raggi delle Stelle, prese il sottile, il delicato, ed il sacro dito di Catarina, humile di core e mansueta di vita, ed il largo, il clemente, ed il pictoso figliuol suo 'o cinse con lo anello.—Vita di Santa Catarina, 1. ii. Vinegia, 1541.

Four of these wheels, armed with iron teeth, and revolving towards each other, were to cut her to pieces. Angels broke the wheels. He then brought her to the stake, and the angels extinguished the flames. He then ordered her to be beheaded by the sword. This was permitted, and in the meantime the day had closed. The body, reserved for exposure to wild beasts, was left under guard at the place of execution. Intense darkness fell on the night, and in the morning the body had disappeared. The angels had borne it to the summit of the loftiest mountain of the Horeb range, where still a rock, bearing the form of a natural sarcophagus, meets the eye of the traveller. Here it was watched by angel-guards, and preserved in unchanging beauty, till, in the fulness of time, it was revealed to a holy man, who removed it to the shrine, under which it lies to this day, with the ring still on its hand, in the convent which was then founded, and which bears her name—the convent Saint Catharine of Mount Sinai.

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse