Minor punctuation errors have been changed without notice. Printer errors have been changed and are listed at the end. All other inconsistencies are as in the original.
HARPER'S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
No. VIII.—JANUARY, 1851.—VOL. II.
PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND HABITS OF ROBERT SOUTHEY.
BY HIS SON.
Being the youngest of all his children, I had not the privilege of knowing my father in his best and most joyous years, nor of remembering Greta Hall when the happiness of its circle was unbroken. Much labor and anxiety, and many sorrows, had passed over him; and although his natural buoyancy of spirit had not departed, it was greatly subdued, and I chiefly remember its gradual diminution from year to year.
In appearance he was certainly a very striking looking person, and in early days he had by many been considered almost the beau ideal of a poet. Mr. Cottle describes him at the age of twenty-two as "tall, dignified, possessing great suavity of manners, an eye piercing, a countenance full of genius, kindliness, and intelligence;" and he continues, "I had read so much of poetry, and sympathized so much with poets in all their eccentricities and vicissitudes, that to see before me the realization of a character which in the abstract so much absorbed my regards, gave me a degree of satisfaction which it would be difficult to express." Eighteen years later Lord Byron calls him a prepossessing looking person, and, with his usual admixture of satire, says, "To have his head and shoulders I would almost have written his Sapphics;" and elsewhere he speaks of his appearance as "Epic," an expression which may be either a sneer or a compliment.
His forehead was very broad; his height was five feet eleven inches; his complexion rather dark, the eyebrows large and arched, the eye well shaped and dark brown, the mouth somewhat prominent, muscular, and very variously expressive, the chin small in proportion to the upper features of his face. He always, while in Keswick, wore a cap in his walks, and partly from habit, partly from the make of his head and shoulders, we never thought he looked well or like himself in a hat. He was of a very spare frame, but of great activity, and not showing any appearance of a weak constitution.
My father's countenance, like his character, seems to have softened down from a certain wildness of expression to a more sober and thoughtful cast; and many thought him a handsomer man in age than in youth; his eye retaining always its brilliancy, and his countenance its play of expression.
The reader will remember his Republican independency when an under-graduate at Oxford, in rebelling against the supremacy of the college barber. Though he did not continue to let his hair hang down on his shoulders according to the whim of his youthful days, yet he always wore a greater quantity than is usual; and once, on his arrival in town, Chantrey's first greetings to him were accompanied with an injunction to go and get his hair cut. When I first remember it, it was turning from a rich brown to the steel shade, whence it rapidly became almost snowy white, losing none of its remarkable thickness, and clustering in abundant curls over his massive brow.
For the following remarks on his general bearing and habits of conversation I am indebted to a friend:
"The characteristics of his manner, as of his appearance, were lightness and strength, an easy and happy composure as the accustomed mood, with much mobility at the same time, so that he could be readily excited into any degree of animation in discourse, speaking, if the subject moved him much, with extraordinary fire and force, though always in light, laconic sentences. When so moved, the fingers of his right hand often rested against his mouth, and quivered through nervous susceptibility. But, excitable as he was in conversation, he was never angry or irritable; nor can there be any greater mistake concerning him than that into which some persons have fallen, when they have inferred, from the fiery vehemence with which he could give utterance to moral anger in verse or prose, that he was personally ill-tempered or irascible. He was, in truth, a man whom it was hardly possible to quarrel with or offend personally and face to face; and in his writings, even on public subjects in which his feelings were strongly engaged, he will be observed to have always dealt tenderly with those whom he had once seen and spoken to, unless, indeed, personally and grossly assailed by them. He said of himself that he was tolerant of persons, though intolerant of opinions. But in oral intercourse the toleration of persons was so much the stronger, that the intolerance of opinions was not to be perceived; and, indeed, it was only in regard to opinions of a pernicious moral tendency that it was ever felt.
"He was averse from argumentation, and would commonly quit a subject when it was passing into that shape, with a quiet and good-humored indication of the view in which he rested. He talked most and with most interest about books and about public affairs; less, indeed hardly at all, about the characters and qualities of men in private life. In the society of strangers or of acquaintances, he seemed to take more interest in the subjects spoken of than in the persons present, his manner being that of natural courtesy and general benevolence without distinction of individuals. Had there been some tincture of social vanity in him, perhaps he would have been brought into closer relations with those whom he met in society; but, though invariably kind and careful of their feelings, he was indifferent to the manner in which they regarded him, or (as the phrase is) to his effect in society; and they might, perhaps, be conscious that the kindness they received was what flowed naturally and inevitably to all, that they had nothing to give in return which was of value to him, and that no individual relations were established.
"In conversation with intimate friends he would sometimes express, half humorously, a cordial commendation of some production of his own, knowing that with them he could afford it, and that to those who knew him well it was well known that there was no vanity in him. But such commendations, though light and humorous, were perfectly sincere; for he both possessed and cherished the power of finding enjoyment and satisfaction wherever it was to be found—in his own books, in the books of his friends, and in all books whatsoever that were not morally tainted or absolutely barren."
His course of life was the most regular and simple possible. When it is said that breakfast was at nine, after a little reading, dinner at four, tea at six, supper at half-past nine, and the intervals filled up with reading or writing, except that he regularly walked between two and four, and took a short sleep before tea, the outline of his day during those long seasons when he was in full work will have been given. After supper, when the business of the day seemed to be over, though he generally took a book, he remained with his family, and was open to enter into conversation, to amuse and to be amused. It was on such times that the most pleasant fireside chattings, and the most interesting stories came forth; and, indeed, it was at such a time (though long before my day) that The Doctor was originated, as may be seen by the beginning of that work and the Preface to the new edition. Notwithstanding that the very mention of "my glass of punch," the one, temperate, never exceeded glass of punch, may be a stumbling-block to some of my readers, I am constrained, by the very love of the perfect picture which the first lines of The Doctor convey of the conclusion of his evening, to transcribe them in this place. It was written but for a few, otherwise The Doctor would have been no secret at all; but those few who knew him in his home will see his very look while they re-peruse it, and will recall the well-known sound:
"I was in the fourth night of the story of the Doctor and his horse, and had broken it off, not, like Scheherazade, because it was time to get up, but because it was time to go to bed. It was at thirty-five minutes after ten o'clock on the 20th of July, in the year of our Lord 1813. I finished my glass of punch, tinkled the spoon against its side, as if making music to my own meditations, and having fixed my eyes upon the Bhow Begum, who was sitting opposite to me at the head of her own table, I said, 'It ought to be written in a book.'"
This scene took place at the table of the Bhow Begum, but it may easily be transferred to his ordinary room, where he sat after supper in one corner, with the fire on his left hand and a small table on his right, looking on at his family circle in front of him.
I have said before, as indeed his own letters have abundantly shown, that he was a most thoroughly domestic man, in that his whole pleasure and happiness was centred in his home; but yet, from the course of his pursuits, his family necessarily saw but little of him. He could not, however he might wish it, join the summer evening walk, or make one of the circle round the winter hearth, or even spare time for conversation after the family meals (except during the brief space I have just been speaking of). Every day, every hour had its allotted employment; always were there engagements to publishers imperatively requiring punctual fulfillment; always the current expenses of a large household to take anxious thoughts for: he had no crops growing while he was idle. "My ways," he used to say, "are as broad as the king's high road, and my means lie in an ink-stand."
Yet, notwithstanding the value which every moment of his time thus necessarily bore, unlike most literary men, he was never ruffled in the slightest degree by the interruptions of his family, even on the most trivial occasions; the book or the pen was ever laid down with a smile, and he was ready to answer any question, or to enter with youthful readiness into any temporary topic of amusement or interest.
In earlier years he spoke of himself as ill calculated for general society, from a habit of uttering single significant sentences, which, from being delivered without any qualifying clauses, bore more meaning upon their surface than he intended, and through which his real opinions and feelings were often misunderstood. This habit, as far as my own observation went, though it was sometimes apparent, he had materially checked in later life, and in large parties he was usually inclined to be silent, rarely joining in general conversation. But he was very different when with only one or two companions; and to those strangers, who came to him with letters of introduction, he was both extremely courteous in manner, and frank and pleasant in conversation, and to his intimates no one could have been more wholly unreserved, more disposed to give and receive pleasure, or more ready to pour forth his vast stores of information upon almost every subject.
I might go on here, and enter more at length into details of his personal character, but the task is too difficult a one, and is perhaps, after all, better left unattempted. A most intimate and highly-valued friend of my father's, whom I wished to have supplied me with some passages on these points, remarks very justly, that "any portraiture of him, by the pen as by the pencil, will fall so far short both of the truth and the ideal which the readers of his poetry and his letters will have formed for themselves, that they would be worse than superfluous." And, indeed, perhaps I have already said too much. I can not, however, resist quoting here some lines by the friend above alluded to, which describe admirably in brief my father's whole character:
"Two friends Lent me a further light, whose equal hate On all unwholesome sentiment attends, Nor whom may genius charm where heart infirm attends.
"In all things else contrarious were these two: The one a man upon whose laureled brow Gray hairs were growing! glory ever new Shall circle him in after years as now; For spent detraction may not disavow The world of knowledge with the wit combined, The elastic force no burden e'er could bow, The various talents and the single mind, Which give him moral power and mastery o'er mankind.
"His sixty summers—what are they in truth? By Providence peculiarly blest, With him the strong hilarity of youth Abides, despite gray hairs, a constant guest, His sun has veered a point toward the west, But light as dawn his heart is glowing yet— That heart the simplest, gentlest, kindliest, best, Where truth and manly tenderness are met With faith and heavenward hope, the suns that never set."
What further I will venture to say relates chiefly to the external circumstances of his life at Keswick.
His greatest relaxation was in a mountain excursion or a pic-nic by the side of one of the lakes, tarns, or streams; and these parties, of which he was the life and soul, will long live in the recollections of those who shared them. An excellent pedestrian (thinking little of a walk of twenty-five miles when upward of sixty), he usually headed the "infantry" on these occasions, looking on those gentlemen as idle mortals who indulged in the luxury of a mountain pony; feeling very differently in the bracing air of Cumberland to what he did in Spain in 1800, when he delighted in being "gloriously lazy," in "sitting sideways upon an ass," and having even a boy to "propel" the burro.
Upon first coming down to the Lakes he rather undervalued the pleasures of an al-fresco repast, preferring chairs and tables to the greensward of the mountains, or the moss-grown masses of rock by the lake shore; but these were probably the impressions of a cold, wet summer, and having soon learned thoroughly to appreciate these pleasures, he had his various chosen places which he thought it a sort of duty annually to revisit. Of these I will name a few, as giving them, perhaps, an added interest to some future tourists. The summit of Skiddaw he regularly visited, often three or four times in a summer, but the view thence was not one he greatly admired. Sea-Fell and Helvellyn he ranked much higher, but on account of their distance did not often reach. Saddleback and Causey Pike, two mountains rarely ascended by tourists, were great favorites with him, and were the summits most frequently chosen for a grand expedition; and the two tarns upon Saddleback, Threlkeld and Bowscale tarns, were among the spots he thought most remarkable for grand and lonely beauty. This, too, was ground rendered more than commonly interesting, by having been the scenes of the childhood and early life of Clifford the Shepherd Lord. The rocky streams of Borrowdale, high up beyond Stonethwaite and Seathwaite, were also places often visited, especially one beautiful spot, where the river makes a sharp bend at the foot of Eagle Crag. The pass of Honistar Crag, leading from Buttermere to Borrowdale, furnished a longer excursion, which was occasionally taken with a sort of rustic pomp in the rough market carts of the country, before the cars which are now so generally used had become common, or been permitted by their owners to travel that worst of all roads. Occasionally there were grand meetings with Mr. Wordsworth, and his family and friends, at Leatheswater (or Thirlmere), a point about half way between Keswick and Rydal; and here as many as fifty persons have sometimes met together from both sides of the country. These were days of great enjoyment, not to be forgotten.
There was also an infinite variety of long walks, of which he could take advantage when opportunity served, without the preparation and trouble of a preconcerted expedition: several of these are alluded to in his Colloquies. The circuit formed by passing behind Barrow and Lodore to the vale of Watenlath, placed up high among the hills, with its own little lake and village, and the rugged path leading thence down to Borrowdale, was one of the walks he most admired. The beautiful vale of St. Johns, with its "Castle Rock" and picturesquely placed little church, was another favorite walk; and there were a number of springs of unusual copiousness situated near what had been apparently a deserted, and now ruined village, where he used to take luncheon. The rocky bed of the little stream at the foot of Causey Pike was a spot he loved to rest at; and the deep pools of the stream that flows down the adjoining valley of New Lands—
"Whose pure and chrysolite waters Flow o'er a schistose bed,"
formed one of his favorite resorts for bathing.
Yet these excursions, although for a few years he still continued to enjoy them, began in later life to wear to him something of a melancholy aspect. So many friends were dead who had formerly shared them, and his own domestic losses were but too vividly called to mind with the remembrance of former days of enjoyment, the very grandeur of the scenery around many of the chosen places, and the unchanging features of the "everlasting hills," brought back forcibly sad memories, and these parties became in time so painful that it was with difficulty he could be prevailed upon to join in them.
He concealed, indeed, as the reader has seen, beneath a reserved manner, a most acutely sensitive mind, and a warmth and kindliness of feeling which was only understood by few, indeed, perhaps, not thoroughly by any. He said, speaking of the death of his uncle, Mr. Hill, that one of the sources of consolation to him was the thought that perhaps the departed might then be conscious how truly he had loved and honored him; and I believe the depth of his affection and the warmth of his friendship was known to none but himself. On one particular point I remember his often regretting his constitutional bashfulness and reserve; and that was, because, added to his retired life and the nature of his pursuits, it prevented him from knowing any thing of the persons among whom he lived. Long as he had resided at Keswick, I do not think there were twenty persons in the lower class whom he knew by sight; and though this was in some measure owing to a slight degree of short-sightedness, which, contrary to what is usual, came on in later life, yet I have heard him often lament it as not being what he thought right; and after slightly returning the salutation of some passer by, he would again mechanically lift his cap as he heard some well-known name in reply to his inquiries, and look back with regret that the greeting had not been more cordial. With those persons who were occasionally employed about the house he was most familiarly friendly, and these regarded him with a degree of affectionate reverence that could not be surpassed.
It may perhaps be expected by some readers that a more accurate account of my father's income should be given than has yet appeared; but this is not an easy matter, from its extreme variableness, and this it was that constituted a continual source of uneasiness both to others and to himself, rarely as he acknowledged it. A common error has been to speak of him as one to whom literature has been a mine of wealth. That his political opponents should do this is not so strange; but even Charles Lamb, who, if he had thought a little, would hardly have written so rashly, says, in a letter to Bernard Barton, recently published, that "Southey has made a fortune by book drudgery." What sort of a "fortune" that was which never once permitted him to have one year's income beforehand, and compelled him almost always to forestall the profit of his new works, the reader may imagine.
His only certain source of income was his pension, from which he received L145, and the Laureateship, which was L90: the larger portion of these two sums, however, went to the payment of his life-insurance, so that not more than L100 could be calculated upon as available, and the Quarterly Review was therefore for many years his chief means of support. He received latterly L100 for an article, and commonly furnished one for each number. What more was needful had to be made up by his other works, which as they were always published upon the terms of the publisher taking the risk and sharing the profits, produced him but little, considering the length of time they were often in preparation, and as he was constantly adding new purchases to his library, but little was to be reckoned upon this account. For the Peninsular War he received L1000, but the copyright remained the property of the publisher.
With regard to his mode of life, although it was as simple and inexpensive as possible, his expenditure was with difficulty kept within his income, though he had indeed a most faithful helpmate, who combined with a wise and careful economy a liberality equal to his own in any case of distress. One reason for this difficulty was, that considerable sums were, not now and then, but regularly, drawn from him by his less successful relatives.
The house which for so many years was his residence at Keswick, though well situated both for convenience and for beauty of prospect, was unattractive in external appearance, and to most families would have been an undesirable residence. Having originally been two houses, afterward thrown together, it consisted of a good many small rooms, connected by long passages, all of which with great ingenuity he made available for holding books, with which indeed the house was lined from top to bottom. His own sitting-room, which was the largest in the house, was filled with the handsomest of them, arranged with much taste, according to his own fashion, with due regard to size, color, and condition; and he used to contemplate these, his carefully accumulated and much prized treasures, with even more pleasure and pride than the greatest connoisseur his finest specimens of the old masters: and justly, for they were both the necessaries and the luxuries of life to him; both the very instruments whereby he won, hardly enough, his daily bread, and the source of all his pleasures and recreations—the pride of his eyes and the joy of his heart.
His Spanish and Portuguese collection, which at one time was one of the best, if not itself the best to be found in the possession of any private individual, was the most highly-prized portion of his library. It had been commenced by his uncle, Mr. Hill, long prior to my father's first visit to Lisbon; and having originated in the love Mr. Hill himself had for the literature of those countries, it was carried forward with more ardor when he found that his nephew's taste and abilities were likely to turn it to good account. It comprised a considerable number of manuscripts, some of them copied by Mr. Hill from rare MSS. in private and convent libraries.
Many of these old books being in vellum or parchment bindings, he had taken much pains to render them ornamental portions of the furniture of his shelves. His brother Thomas was skillful in calligraphy; and by his assistance their backs were painted with some bright color, and upon it the title placed lengthwise in large gold letters of the old English type. Any one who had visited his library will remember the tastefully-arranged pyramids of these curious-looking books.
Another fancy of his was to have all those books of lesser value, which had become ragged and dirty, covered, or rather bound, in colored cotton prints, for the sake of making them clean and respectable in their appearance, it being impossible to afford the cost of having so many put into better bindings.
Of this task his daughters, aided by any female friends who might be staying with them, were the performers; and not fewer than from 1200 to 1400 volumes were so bound by them at different times, filling completely one room, which he designated as the Cottonian library. With this work he was much interested and amused, as the ladies would often suit the pattern to the contents, clothing a Quaker work or a book of sermons in sober drab, poetry in some flowery design, and sometimes contriving a sly piece of satire at the contents of some well-known author by their choice of its covering. One considerable convenience attended this eccentric mode of binding—the book became as well known by its dress as by its contents, and much more easily found.
With respect to his mode of acquiring and arranging the contents of a book, it was somewhat peculiar. He was as rapid a reader as could be conceived, having the power of perceiving by a glance down the page whether it contained any thing which he was likely to make use of—a slip of paper lay on his desk, and was used as a marker, and with a slight penciled S he would note the passage, put a reference on the paper, with some brief note of the subject, which he could transfer to his note-book, and in the course of a few hours he had classified and arranged every thing in the work which it was likely he would ever want. It was thus, with a remarkable memory (not so much for the facts or passages themselves, but for their existence and the authors that contained them), and with this kind of index, both to it and them, that he had at hand a command of materials for whatever subject he was employed upon, which has been truly said to be "unequaled."
Many of the choicest passages he would transcribe himself at odds and ends of times, or employ one of his family to transcribe for him; and these are the extracts which form his "Commonplace Book," recently published; but those of less importance he had thus within reach in case he wished to avail himself of them. The quickness with which this was done was very remarkable. I have often known him receive a parcel of books one afternoon, and the next have found his mark throughout perhaps two or three different volumes; yet, if a work took his attention particularly, he was not rapid in its perusal; and on some authors, such as the Old Divines, he "fed," as he expressed it, slowly and carefully, dwelling on the page and taking in its contents deeply and deliberately—like an epicure with his "wine searching the subtle flavor."
His library at his death consisted of about 14,000 volumes; probably the largest number of books ever collected by a person of such limited means. Among these he found most of the materials for all he did, and almost all he wished to do; and though sometimes he lamented that his collection was not a larger one, it is probable that it was more to his advantage that it was in some degree limited. As it was, he collected an infinitely greater quantity of materials for every subject he was employed upon than ever he made use of, and his published Notes give some idea, though an inadequate one, of the vast stores he thus accumulated.
On this subject he writes to his cousin, Herbert Hill, at that time one of the librarians of the "Bodleian:"—"When I was at the British Museum the other day, walking through the rooms with Carey, I felt that to have lived in that library, or in such a one, would have rendered me perfectly useless, even if it had not made me mad. The sight of such countless volumes made me feel how impossible it would be to pursue any subject through all the investigations into which it would lead me, and that therefore I should either lose myself in the vain pursuit, or give up in despair, and read for the future with no other object than that of immediate gratification. This was an additional reason for being thankful for my own lot, aware as I am that I am always tempted to pursue a train of inquiry too far."
The reader need not be told that the sorrows and anxieties of the last few years of my father's life had produced, as might be expected, a very injurious effect upon his constitution, both as to body and mind. Acutely sensitive by nature, deep and strong in his affections, and highly predisposed to nervous disease, he had felt the sad affliction which had darkened his latter years far more keenly than any ordinary observer would have supposed, or than even appears in his letters. He had, indeed, then, as he expressed himself in his letter declining the Baronetcy, been "shaken at the root;" and while we must not forget the more than forty years of incessant mental application which he had passed through, it was this stroke of calamity which most probably greatly hastened the coming of the evil day, if it was not altogether the cause of it, and which rapidly brought on that overclouding of the intellect which soon unequivocally manifested itself.
This, indeed, in its first approaches, had been so gradual as to have almost escaped notice; and it was not until after the sad truth was fully ascertained, that indications of failure (some of which I have already alluded to) which had appeared some time previously, were called to mind. A loss of memory on certain points, a lessening acuteness of the perceptive faculties, an occasional irritability (wholly unknown in him before); a confusion of time, place, and person; the losing his way in well-known places—all were remembered as having taken place, when the melancholy fact had become too evident that the powers of his mind were irreparably weakened.
On his way home in the year 1839, he passed a few days in London, and then his friends plainly saw, what, from the altered manner of the very few and brief letters he had latterly written, they had already feared, that he had so failed as to have lost much of the vigor and activity of his faculties. The impressions of one of his most intimate friends, as conveyed at the time by letter, may fitly be quoted here. "I have just come home from a visit which affected me deeply.... It was to Southey, who arrived in town to-day from Hampshire with his wife.... He is (I fear) much altered. The animation and peculiar clearness of his mind quite gone, except a gleam or two now and then. What he said was much in the spirit of his former mind as far as the matter and meaning went, but the tone of strength and elasticity was wanting. The appearance was that of a placid languor, sometimes approaching to torpor, but not otherwise than cheerful. He is thin and shrunk in person, and that extraordinary face of his has no longer the fire and strength it used to have, though the singular cast of the features, and the habitual expressions, make it still a most remarkable phenomenon. Upon the whole, I came away with a troubled heart." ... After a brief account of the great trials of my father's late years, the writer continues: "He has been living since his marriage in Hampshire, where he has not had the aid of his old habits and accustomed books to methodize his mind. All this considered, I think we may hope that a year or two of quiet living at his own home may restore him. His easy, cheerful temperament will be greatly in his favor. You must help me to hope this, for I could not bear to think of the decay of that great mind and noble nature—at least not of its premature decay. Pray that this may be averted, as I have this night."
On the following day the same friend writes: "I think I am a little relieved about Southey to-day. I have seen him three times in the course of the day, and on each occasion he was so easy and cheerful that I should have said his manner and conversation did not differ, in the most part, from what it would have been in former days, if he had happened to be very tired. I say for the most part only, though, for there was once an obvious confusion of ideas. He lost himself for a moment; he was conscious of it, and an expression passed over his countenance which was exceedingly touching—an expression of pain and also of resignation. I am glad to learn from his brother that he is aware of his altered condition, and speaks of it openly. This gives a better aspect to the case than if he could believe that nothing was the matter with him. Another favorable circumstance is, that he will deal with himself wisely and patiently. The charm of his manner is perhaps even enhanced at present (at least when one knows the circumstances), by the gentleness and patience which pervade it. His mind is beautiful even in its debility."
Much of my father's failure in its early stages was at first ascribed by those anxiously watching him, to repeated attacks of the influenza—at that time a prevailing epidemic—from which he had suffered greatly, and to which he attributed his own feelings of weakness; but alas! the weakness he felt was as much mental as bodily (though he had certainly declined much in bodily strength), and after his return home it gradually increased upon him. The uncertain step—the confused manner—the eye once so keen and so intelligent, now either wandering restlessly or fixed as it were in blank contemplation—all showed that the over-wrought mind was worn out.
One of the plainest signs of this was the cessation of his accustomed labors; but while doing nothing (with him how plain a proof that nothing could be done), he would frequently anticipate a coming period of his usual industry. His mind, while any spark of its reasoning powers remained, was busy with its old day-dreams—the History of Portugal—the History of the Monastic Orders—the Doctor—all were soon to be taken in hand in earnest—all completed, and new works added to these.
For a considerable time after he had ceased to compose, he took pleasure in reading, and the habit continued after the power of comprehension was gone. His dearly-prized books, indeed, were a pleasure to him almost to the end, and he would walk slowly round his library looking at them, and taking them down mechanically.
In the earlier stages of his disorder (if the term may be fitly applied to a case which was not a perversion of the faculties, but their decay) he could still converse at times with much of his old liveliness and energy. When the mind was, as it were, set going upon some familiar subject, for a little time you could not perceive much failure; but if the thread was broken, if it was a conversation in which new topics were started, or if any argument was commenced, his powers failed him at once, and a painful sense of this seemed to come over him for the moment. His recollection first failed as to recent events, and his thoughts appeared chiefly to dwell upon those long past, and as his mind grew weaker, these recollections seemed to recede still farther back. Names he could rarely remember, and more than once, when trying to recall one which he felt he ought to know, I have seen him press his hand upon his brow and sadly exclaim, "Memory! memory! where art thou gone?"
But this failure altogether was so gradual, and at the same time so complete, that I am inclined to hope and believe there was not on the whole much painful consciousness of it; and certainly for more than a year preceding his death, he passed his time as in a dream, with little, if any knowledge of what went on around him.
One circumstance connected with the latter years of his life deserves to be noticed as very singular. His hair, which previously was almost snowy white, grew perceptibly darker, and I think, if any thing, increased in thickness and a disposition to curl.
But it is time I drew a vail over these latter scenes. They are too painful to dwell on.
"A noble mind in sad decay, When baffled hope has died away, And life becomes one long distress In pitiable helplessness. Methinks 'tis like a ship on shore, That once defied the Atlantic's roar, And gallantly through gale and storm Hath ventured her majestic form; But now in stranded ruin laid, By winds and dashing seas decayed, Forgetful of her ocean reign, Must crumble into earth again."
In some cases of this kind, toward the end, some glimmering of reason re-appears, but this must be when the mind is obscured or upset, not, as in this case, apparently worn out. The body gradually grew weaker, and disorders appeared which the state of the patient rendered it almost impossible to treat properly; and, after a short attack of fever, the scene closed on the 21st of March, 1843, and a second time had we cause to feel deeply thankful, when the change from life to death, or more truly from death to life, took place.
It was a dark and stormy morning when he was borne to his last resting-place, at the western end of the beautiful church-yard of Crosthwaite. There lies his dear son Herbert—there his daughters Emma and Isabel—there Edith, his faithful helpmate of forty years. But few besides his own family and immediate neighbors followed his remains. His only intimate friend within reach, Mr. Wordsworth, crossed the hills that wild morning to be present.
Soon after my father's death, various steps were taken with a view to erecting monuments to his memory; and considerable sums were quickly subscribed for that purpose, the list including the names of many persons, not only strangers to him personally, but also strongly opposed to him in political opinion. The result was that three memorials were erected. The first and principal one, a full length recumbent figure, was executed by Lough, and placed in Crosthwaite church, and is certainly an excellent likeness, as well as a most beautiful work of art. The original intention and agreement was, that it should be in Caen stone, but the sculptor, with characteristic liberality, executed it in white marble, at a considerable sacrifice.
The following lines, by Mr. Wordsworth, are inscribed upon the base:
"Ye vales and hills, whose beauty hither drew The poet's steps, and fixed him here; on you His eyes have closed; and ye loved books, no more Shall Southey feed upon your precious lore, To works that ne'er shall forfeit their renown Adding immortal labors of his own— Whether he traced historic truth with zeal For the state's guidance or the church's weal, Or fancy disciplined by curious art Informed his pen, or wisdom of the heart, Or judgments sanctioned in the patriot's mind By reverence for the rights of all mankind. Wide were his aims, yet in no human breast Could private feelings meet in holier rest. His joys—his griefs—have vanished like a cloud From Skiddaw's top; but he to Heaven was vowed Through a life long and pure, and steadfast faith Calmed in his soul the fear of change and death."
[Footnote 1: From an unpublished chapter of the Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, now in press by Harper and Brothers.]
[Footnote 2: During the several years that he was partially employed upon the Life of Dr. Bell, he devoted two hours before breakfast to it in the summer, and as much time as there was daylight for, during the winter months, that it might not interfere with the usual occupations of the day. In all this time, however, he made but little progress in it; partly from the nature of the materials, partly from the want of sufficient interest in the subject.]
[Footnote 3: Miss Barker, the Senhora of earlier days, who was living at that time in a house close to Greta Hall.]
[Footnote 4: Notes to Philip Van Artevelde, by Henry Taylor.]
[Footnote 5: I speak of a period prior to his receiving his last pension, which was granted in 1835.]
[Footnote 6: August 24, 1839.]
[Footnote 7: Robert Montgomery. The fourth line is altered from the original.]
Jane Louisa Henrietta Campan was born at Paris, 1752. She was the daughter of M. Genet, first clerk in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was fond of literature, and communicated a taste for it to his daughter, who early displayed considerable talents. She acquired a knowledge of foreign languages, particularly the Italian and English, and was distinguished for her skill in reading and recitation. These acquisitions procured for her the place of reader to the French princesses, daughters of Louis XV. On the marriage of Marie-Antoinette to the Dauphin, afterward Louis XVI., Mademoiselle Genet was attached to her suite, and continued, for twenty years, to occupy a situation about her person.
Her general intelligence and talent for observation, enabled Madame Campan, in the course of her service, to collect the materials for her "Memoirs of the Private Life of the Queen of France," first published in Paris, and translated and printed in London, 1823, in two volumes. This work is not only interesting for the information it affords, but is also very creditable to the literary talents of the authoress. Soon after the appointment at court, Mademoiselle Genet was married to M. Campan, son of the Secretary of the queen's closet. When Marie-Antoinette was made a prisoner, Madame Campan begged to be permitted to accompany her royal mistress, and share her imprisonment, which was refused. Madame Campan was with the queen at the storming of the Tuilleries, on the 10th of August, when she narrowly escaped with her life: and, under the rule of Robespierre, she came near being sent to the guillotine. After the fall of that tyrant, she retired to the country, and opened a private seminary for young ladies, which she conducted with great success. Josephine Beauharnais sent her daughter, Hortense, to the seminary of Madame Campan. She had also the sisters of the emperor under her care. In 1806, Napoleon founded the school of Ecouen, for the daughters and sisters of the officers of the Legion of Honor, and appointed Madame Campan to superintend it. This institution was suppressed at the restoration of the Bourbons, and Madame Campan retired to Nantes, where she partly prepared her "Memoirs," and other works. She died in 1822, aged seventy. After her decease, her "Private Journal" was published; also, "Familiar Letters to her Friends," and a work, which she considered her most important one, entitled "Thoughts on Education." We will give extracts from these works.
From the "Private Journal."
MESMER AND HIS MAGNETISM.
At the time when Mesmer made so much noise in Paris with his magnetism, M. Campan, my husband, was his partisan, like almost every person who moved in high life. To be magnetized was then a fashion; nay, it was more, it was absolutely a rage. In the drawing-rooms, nothing was talked of but the brilliant discovery. There was to be no more dying; people's heads were turned, and their imaginations heated in the highest degree. To accomplish this object, it was necessary to bewilder the understanding; and Mesmer, with his singular language, produced that effect. To put a stop to the fit of public insanity was the grand difficulty; and it was proposed to have the secret purchased by the court. Mesmer fixed his claims at a very extravagant rate. However, he was offered fifty thousand crowns. By a singular chance, I was one day led into the midst of the somnambulists. Such was the enthusiasm of the spectators, that, in most of them, I could observe a wild rolling of the eye, and a convulsed movement of the countenance. A stranger might have fancied himself amidst the unfortunate patients of Charenton. Surprised and shocked at seeing so many people almost in a state of delirium, I withdrew, full of reflections on the scene which I had just witnessed.
It happened that about this time my husband was attacked with a pulmonary disorder, and he desired that he might be conveyed to Mesmer's house. Being introduced into the apartment occupied by M. Campan, I asked the worker of miracles what treatment he proposed to adopt; he very coolly replied, that to ensure a speedy and perfect cure, it would be necessary to lay in the bed of the invalid, at his left side, one of three things, namely, a young woman of brown complexion; a black hen; or an empty bottle.
"Sir," said I, "if the choice be a matter of indifference, pray try the empty bottle."
M. Campan's side grew worse; he experienced a difficulty of breathing and a pain in his chest. All magnetic remedies that were employed produced no effect. Perceiving his failure, Mesmer took advantage of the periods of my absence to bleed and blister the patient. I was not informed of what had been done until after M. Campan's recovery. Mesmer was asked for a certificate, to prove that the patient had been cured by means of magnetism only; and he gave it. Here was a trait of enthusiasm! Truth was no longer respected. When I next presented myself to the queen (Marie-Antoinette), their majesties asked what I thought of Mesmer's discovery. I informed them of what had taken place, earnestly expressing my indignation at the conduct of the barefaced quack. It was immediately determined to have nothing more to do with him.
THE EMPEROR ALEXANDER'S VISIT TO MADAME CAMPAN'S SCHOOL.
The emperor inquired into the most minute particulars respecting the establishment at Ecouen; and I felt great pleasure in answering his questions. I recollect having dwelt on several points which appeared to me very important, and which were in their spirit hostile to aristocratical principles. For example, I informed his majesty that the daughters of distinguished and wealthy individuals, and those of the humble and obscure, were indiscriminately mingled together in the establishment. If, said I, I were to observe the least pretension on account of the rank or fortune of parents, I should immediately put an end to it. The most perfect equality is preserved; distinction is awarded only to merit and industry. The pupils are obliged to cut and make all their own clothes. They are taught to clean and mend lace; and two at a time, they by turns, three times a week, cook and distribute victuals to the poor of the village. The young ladies who have been brought up in my boarding-school are thoroughly acquainted with every thing relating to household business; and they are grateful to me for having made it a part of their education. In my conversations with them, I have always taught them that on domestic management depends the preservation or dissipation of their fortunes. I impress on their minds the necessity of regulating with attention the most trifling daily expenses; but at the same time I recommend them to avoid making domestic details the subject of conversation in the drawing-room, for that is a most decided mark of ill-breeding. It is proper that all should know how to do and to direct; but it is only for ill-educated women to talk about their carriages, servants, washing, and cooking.
These are the reasons, sire, why my pupils are generally superior to those brought up in other establishments. All is conducted on the most simple plan; the young ladies are taught every thing of which they can possibly stand in need; and they are consequently as much at their ease in the brilliant circles of fashion, as in the most humble condition of life. Fortune confers rank, but education teaches how to support it properly.
From the "Letters," &c.
TO HER ONLY SON.
You are now, my dear Henry, removed from my fond care and instruction; and young as you are, you have entered upon the vast theatre of the world. Some years hence, when time shall have matured your ideas, and enabled you to take a clear, retrospective view of your steps in life, you will be able to enter into my feelings, and to judge of the anxiety which at this moment agitates my heart.
When first a beloved child, releasing itself from its nurse's arms, ventures its little tottering steps on the soft carpet, or the smoothest grass-plot, the poor mother scarcely breathes; she imagines that these first efforts of nature are attended with every danger to the object most dear to her. Fond mother, calm your anxious fears! Your infant son can, at the worst, only receive a slight hurt, which, under your tender care, will speedily be healed. Reserve your alarms, your heart-beatings, your prayers to Providence, for the moment when your son enters upon the scene of the world to select a character, which, if sustained with dignity, judgment, and feeling, will render him universally esteemed and approved; or to degrade himself by filling one of those low, contemptible parts, fit only for the vilest actors in the drama of life. Tremble at the moment when your child has to choose between the rugged road of industry and integrity, leading straight to honor and happiness; and the smooth and flowery path which descends, through indolence and pleasure, to the gulf of vice and misery. It is then that the voice of a parent, or of some faithful friend, must direct the right course....
Surrounded as you doubtless are, by thoughtless and trifling companions, let your mother be the rallying point of your mind and heart; the confidant of all your plans....
Learn to know the value of money. This is a most essential point. The want of economy leads to the decay of powerful empires, as well as private families. Louis XVI. perished on the scaffold for a deficit of fifty millions. There would have been no debt, no assemblies of the people, no revolution, no loss of the sovereign authority, no tragical death, but for this fatal deficit. States are ruined through the mismanagement of millions, and private persons become bankrupts and end their lives in misery through the mismanagement of crowns worth six livres. It is very important, my dear son, that I lay down to you these first principles of right conduct, and impress upon your mind the necessity of adhering to them. Render me an account of the expenditure of your money, not viewing me in the light of a rigid preceptress, but as a friend who wishes to accustom you to the habit of accounting to yourself....
Let me impress upon you the importance of attentive application to business; for that affords certain consolation, and is a security against lassitude, and the vices which idleness creates....
Be cautious how you form connections; and hesitate not to break them off on the first proposition to adopt any course which your affectionate mother warns you to avoid, as fatal to your real happiness, and to the attainment of that respect and esteem which it should be your ambition to enjoy....
Never neglect to appropriate a certain portion of your time to useful reading; and do not imagine that even half an hour a day, devoted to that object, will be unprofitable. The best way of arranging and employing one's time is by calculation; and I have often reflected that half an hour's reading every day, will be one hundred and eighty hours' reading in the course of the year. Great fortunes are amassed by little savings; and poverty as well as ignorance are occasioned by the extravagant waste of money and time....
My affection for you, my dear Henry, is still as actively alive as when, in your infancy, I removed, patiently, every little stone from a certain space in my garden, lest, when you first ran alone, you might fall and hurt your face on the pebbles. But the snares now spread beneath your steps are far more dangerous. They are strengthened by seductive appearances, and the ardor of youth would hurry you forward to the allurement; but that my watchful care, and the confidence you repose in me, serve to counteract the influence of this twofold power. Your bark is gliding near a rapid current; but your mother stands on the shore, and with her eyes fixed on her dear navigator, anxiously exclaims, in the moment of danger, "Reef your sails; mind your helm." Oh! may you never forget, or cease to be guided by these warnings, which come from my inmost heart.
[Footnote 8: From Mrs. Hale's Female Biography, now in the press of Harper & Brothers.]
BY CHARLES MACKAY.
If fortune with a smiling face Strew roses on our way, When shall we stoop to pick them up? To-day, my love, to-day. But should she frown with face of care, And talk of coming sorrow, When shall we grieve, if grieve we must? To-morrow, love, to-morrow.
If those who've wrong'd us own their fault, And kindly pity pray, When shall we listen, and forgive? To-day, my love, to-day. But if stern Justice urge rebuke, And warmth from Memory borrow, When shall we chide, if chide we dare? To-morrow, love, to-morrow.
If those to whom we owe a debt Are harmed unless we pay, When shall we struggle to be just? To-day, my love, to-day. But if our debtor fail our hope, And plead his ruin thorough, When shall we weigh his breach of faith? To-morrow, love, to-morrow.
If love estranged should once again Her genial smile display, When shall we kiss her proffered lips? To-day, my love, to-day. But if she would indulge regret, Or dwell with bygone sorrow, When shall we weep, if weep we must? To-morrow, love, to-morrow.
For virtuous acts and harmless joys The minutes will not stay; We've always time to welcome them, To-day, my love, to-day. But care, resentment, angry words, And unavailing sorrow, Come far too soon, if they appear To-morrow, love, to-morrow.
Bona Lombardi, was born in 1417, in Sacco, a little village in Vattellina. Her parents were obscure peasants, of whom we have but little information. The father, Gabriel Lombardi, a private soldier, died while she was an infant; and her mother not surviving him long, the little girl was left to the charge of an aunt, a hard-working countrywoman, and an uncle, an humble curate.
Bona, in her simple peasant station, exhibited intelligence, decision of character, and personal beauty, which raised her to a certain consideration in the estimation of her companions; and the neighborhood boasted of the beauty of Bona when an incident occurred which was to raise her to a most unexpected rank. In the war between the Duke of Milan and the Venetians, the latter had been routed and driven from Vattellina. Piccinino, the Milanese general, upon departing to follow up his advantages, left Captain Brunoro, a Parmesan gentleman, to maintain a camp in Morbegno, as a central position, to maintain the conquered country. One day, after a hunting party, he stopped to repose himself, in a grove where many of the peasants were assembled for some rustic festival; he was greatly struck with the loveliness of a girl of about fifteen. Upon entering into conversation with her, he was surprised at the ingenuity and spirited tone of her replies. Speaking of the adventure on his return home, every body told him that Bona Lombardi had acknowledged claims to admiration.
Brunoro, remaining through the summer in that district, found many opportunities of seeing the fair peasant; becoming acquainted with her worth and character, he at last determined to make her the companion of his life; their marriage was not declared at first, but, to prevent a separation, however temporary, Bona was induced to put on the dress of an officer. Her husband delighted in teaching her horsemanship, together with all military exercises. She accompanied him in battle, fought by his side, and, regardless of her own safety, seemed to be merely an added arm to shield and assist Brunoro. As was usual in those times, among the condottieri, Brunoro adopted different lords, and fought sometimes in parties to which, at others, he was opposed. In these vicissitudes, he incurred the anger of the King of Naples, who, seizing him by means of an ambuscade, plunged him into a dungeon, where he would probably have finished his days, but for the untiring and well-planned efforts of his wife. To effect his release, she spared no means; supplications, threats, money, all were employed, and, at last, with good success. She had the happiness of recovering her husband.
Bona was not only gifted with the feminine qualities of domestic affection and a well-balanced intellect; in the hottest battles, her bravery and power of managing her troops were quite remarkable; of these feats there are many instances recorded. We will mention but one. In the course of the Milanese war, the Venetians had been, on one occasion, signally discomfited in an attack upon the Castle of Povoze, in Brescia. Brunoro himself was taken prisoner, and carried into the castle. Bona arrived with a little band of fresh soldiers; she rallied the routed forces, inspired them with new courage, led them on herself, took the castle, and liberated her husband, with the other prisoners. She was, however, destined to lose her husband without possibility of recovering him; he died in 1468. When this intrepid heroine, victor in battles, and, rising above all adversity, was bowed by a sorrow resulting from affection, she declared she could not survive Brunoro. She caused a tomb to be made, in which their remains could be united; and, after seeing the work completed, she gradually sank into a languid state, which terminated in her death.
[Footnote 9: From Mrs. Hale's Female Biography.]
A SKETCH OF MY CHILDHOOD.
BY THE "ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER."
SEPTEMBER 21, 1850.
To the Editor of Hogg's "Instructor."
My Dear Sir—I am much obliged to you for communicating to us (that is, to my daughters and myself) the engraved portrait, enlarged from the daguerreotype original. The engraver, at least, seems to have done his part ably. As to one of the earlier artists concerned, viz., the sun of July, I suppose it is not allowable to complain of him, else my daughters are inclined to upbraid him with having made the mouth too long. But, of old, it was held audacity to suspect the sun's veracity: "Solem quis dicere falsum audeat!" And I remember that, half a century ago, the "Sun" newspaper in London, used to fight under sanction of that motto. But it was at length discovered by the learned, that Sun junior, viz., the newspaper, did sometimes indulge in fibbing. The ancient prejudice about the solar truth broke down, therefore, in that instance; and who knows but Sun senior may be detected, now that our optical glasses are so much improved, in similar practices? in which case he may have only been "keeping his hand in" when operating upon that one feature of the mouth. The rest of the portrait, we all agree, does credit to his talents, showing that he is still wide-awake, and not at all the superannuated old artist that some speculators in philosophy had dreamed of his becoming.
As an accompaniment to this portrait, your wish is that I should furnish a few brief chronological memoranda of my own life. That would be hard for me to do, and, when done, might not be very interesting for others to read. Nothing makes such dreary and monotonous reading as the old hackneyed roll-call, chronologically arrayed, of inevitable facts in a man's life. One is so certain of the man's having been born, and also of his having died, that it is dismal to lie under the necessity of reading it. That the man began by being a boy—that he went to school—and that, by intense application to his studies, "which he took to be his portion in this life," he rose to distinction as a robber of orchards, seems so probable, upon the whole, that I am willing to accept it as a postulate. That he married—that, in fullness of time, he was hanged, or (being a humble, unambitious man) that he was content with deserving it—these little circumstances are so naturally to be looked for, as sown broadcast up and down the great fields of biography, that any one life becomes, in this respect, but the echo of thousands. Chronologic successions of events and dates, such as these, which, belonging to the race, illustrate nothing in the individual, are as wearisome as they are useless.
A better plan will be—to detach some single chapter from the experiences of childhood, which is likely to offer, at least, this kind of value—either that it will record some of the deep impressions under which my childish sensibilities expanded, and the ideas which at that time brooded continually over my mind, or else will expose the traits of character that slumbered in those around me. This plan will have the advantage of not being liable to the suspicion of vanity or egotism; for I beg the reader to understand distinctly, that I do not offer this sketch as deriving any part of what interest it may have from myself, as the person concerned in it. If the particular experience selected is really interesting, in virtue of its own circumstances, then it matters not to whom it happened. Suppose that a man should record a perilous journey, it will be no fair inference that he records it as a journey performed by himself. Most sincerely he may be able to say, that he records it not for that relation to himself, but in spite of that relation. The incidents, being absolutely independent, in their power to amuse, of all personal reference, must be equally interesting [he will say] whether they occurred to A or to B. That is my case. Let the reader abstract from me as a person that by accident, or in some partial sense, may have been previously known to himself. Let him read the sketch as belonging to one who wishes to be profoundly anonymous. I offer it not as owing any thing to its connection with a particular individual, but as likely to be amusing separately for itself; and if I make any mistake in that, it is not a mistake of vanity exaggerating the consequence of what relates to my own childhood, but a simple mistake of the judgment as to the power of amusement that may attach to a particular succession of reminiscences.
Excuse the imperfect development which in some places of the sketch may have been given to my meaning. I suffer from a most afflicting derangement of the nervous system, which at times makes it difficult for me to write at all, and always makes me impatient, in a degree not easily understood, of recasting what may seem insufficiently, or even incoherently, expressed.—Believe me, ever yours,
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
A SKETCH FROM CHILDHOOD.
About the close of my sixth year, suddenly the first chapter of my life came to a violent termination; that chapter which, and which only, in the hour of death, or even within the gates of recovered Paradise, could merit a remembrance. "It is finished," was the secret misgiving of my heart, for the heart even of infancy is as apprehensive as that of maturest wisdom, in relation to any capital wound inflicted on the happiness; "it is finished, and life is exhausted." How? Could it be exhausted so soon? Had I read Milton, had I seen Rome, had I heard Mozart? No. The "Paradise Lost" was yet unread, the Coliseum and St. Peter's were unseen, the melodies of Don Giovanni were yet silent for me. Raptures there might be in arrear. But raptures are modes of troubled pleasure; the peace, the rest, the lulls, the central security, which belong to love, that is past all understanding, those could return no more. Such a love, so unfathomable, subsisting between myself and my eldest sister, under the circumstances of our difference in age (she being above eight years of age, I under six), and of our affinities in nature, together with the sudden foundering of all this blind happiness, I have described elsewhere. I shall not here repeat any part of the narrative. But one extract from the closing sections of the paper I shall make; in order to describe the depth to which a child's heart may be plowed up by one over-mastering storm of grief, and as a proof that grief, in some of its fluctuations, is not uniformly a depressing passion—but also by possibility has its own separate aspirations, and at times is full of cloudy grandeur. The point of time is during the months that immediately succeeded to my sister's funeral.
"The awful stillness of summer noons, when no winds were abroad—the appealing silence of gray or misty afternoons—these were to me, in that state of mind, fascinations, as of witchcraft. Into the woods, or the desert air, I gazed as if some comfort lay in them. I wearied the heavens with my inquest of beseeching looks. I tormented the blue depths with obstinate scrutiny, sweeping them with my eyes, and searching them forever, after one angelic face, that might perhaps have permission to reveal itself for a moment. The faculty of shaping images in the distance, out of slight elements, and grouping them after the yearnings of the heart, grew upon me at this time. And I recall at the present moment one instance of that sort, which may show how merely shadows, or a gleam of brightness, or nothing at all, could furnish a sufficient basis for this creative faculty. On Sunday mornings I was always taken to church. It was a church on the old and natural model of England, having aisles, galleries, organ, all things ancient and venerable, and the proportions majestic. Here, while the congregation knelt through the long Litany, as often as we came to that passage, so beautiful among the many that are so, where God is supplicated on behalf of 'all sick persons and young children,' and that He 'would show His pity upon all prisoners and captives', I wept in secret; and, raising my streaming eyes to the windows of the galleries, saw, on days when the sun was shining, a spectacle as affecting as ever prophet can have beheld. The margins of the windows were rich in storied glass; through the deep purples and crimsons streamed the golden light; emblazonries of heavenly illumination mingling with the earthly emblazonries of what is grandest in man. There were the apostles that had trampled upon earth, and the glories of earth, out of celestial love to man. There were the martyrs that had borne witness to the truth through flames, through torments, and through armies of fierce, insulting faces. There were the saints that, under intolerable pangs, had glorified God by meek submission to his will. And all the time, while this tumult of sublime memorials held on as the deep chords of some accompaniment in the bass, I saw through the wide central field of the window, where the glass was uncolored, white fleecy clouds sailing over the azure depths of the sky; were it but a fragment or a hint of such a cloud, immediately, under the flash of my sorrow-haunted eye, it grew and shaped itself into a vision of beds with white lawny curtains; and in the beds lay sick children, dying children, that were tossing in anguish, and weeping clamorously for death. God, for some mysterious reason, could not suddenly release them from their pain; but He suffered the beds, as it seemed, to rise slowly through the clouds; slowly the beds ascended into the chambers of the air; slowly, also, his arms descended from the heavens, in order that He and His young children whom in Judea, once and forever, He had blessed, though they must pass slowly through the dreadful chasm of separation, might yet meet the sooner. These visions were self-sustained. These visions needed not that any sound should speak to me, or music mould my feelings. The hint from the Litany, the fragment from the clouds, the pictures on the storied windows were sufficient. But not the less the blare of the tumultuous organ wrought its own separate creations. And often-times in anthems, when the mighty instrument threw its vast columns of sound, fierce, yet melodious, over the voices of the choir—high in arches when it rose, seeming to surmount and over-ride the strife of the vocal parts, and gathering by strong coercion the total storm of music into unity—sometimes I also seemed to rise and to walk triumphantly upon those clouds, which so recently I had looked up to as mementoes of prostrate sorrow. Yes; sometimes, under the transfigurations of music, I felt of grief itself, as a fiery chariot for mounting victoriously above the causes of grief."
The next (which was the second) chapter of my childish experience, formed that sort of fierce and fantastic contradiction to the first, which might seem to move in obedience to some incarnate principle of malicious pantomime. A spirit of love, and a spirit of rest, as if breathing from St. John the Evangelist, had seemed to mould the harmonies of that earliest stage in my childhood which had just vanished; but now, on the other hand, some wicked Harlequin Mephistopheles was apparently commissioned to vex my eyes and plague my heart, through the next succession of two or three years: a worm was at the roots of life. Yet, in this, perhaps, there lurked a harsh beneficence. If, because the great vision of love had vanished, idiocy and the torpor of despondency were really creeping stealthily over my faculties, and strangling their energies, what better change for me than the necessity (else how miserable!) of fighting, wrangling, struggling, without pause, or promise of pause, from day to day, or even from year to year? "If," as my good angel might have said to me, "thou art moving on a line of utter ruin, from mere palsy of one great vital force, and if that loss is past all restoration, then kindle a new supplementary life by such means as are now possible—by the agitations, for instance, of strife and conflict"—yes, possible, on the wide stage of the world, and for people who should be free agents enough to make enemies, in case they failed to find them; but for a child, not seven years old, to whom his medical advisers should prescribe a course of hatred, or continued hostilities, by way of tonics, in what quarter was he to look out for such luxuries? Who would condescend to officiate as enemy to a child! And yet, as regarded my own particular case, had I breathed out any such querulous demand, that same Harlequin Mephistopheles might have whispered in reply, "Never you trouble yourself about that. Do you furnish the patience that can swallow cheerfully a long course of kicking, and I'll find those that shall furnish the kicks." In fact, at this very moment, when all chance of quarrel, or opening for prolonged enmity, seemed the remotest of chimeras, mischief was already in the wind; and suddenly there was let loose upon me such a storm of belligerent fury as might, under good management, have yielded a life-annuity of feuds.
I had at that time an elder brother, in fact, the eldest of us all, and at least five years senior to myself. He, by original temperament, was a boy of fiery nature, ten times more active than I was inert, loving the element of feuds and stormy conflict more (if that were possible) than I detested it; and these constitutional tendencies had in him been nursed by the training of a public school. This accident in his life was indeed the cause of our now meeting as strangers. Singular, indeed, it seems, but, in fact, had arisen naturally enough, that both this eldest of my brothers, and my father, should be absolute strangers to me in my seventh year; so that, in the case of meeting either, I should not have known him, nor he me. In my father's case, this arose from the accident of his having lived abroad for a space that, measured against my life, was a very long one. First, he lived in Portugal, at Lisbon; and at Cintra; next in Madeira; then in the West Indies; sometimes in Jamaica, sometimes in St. Kitts, courting the supposed benefit of hot climates in his complaint of pulmonary consumption; and at last, when all had proved unavailing, he was coming home to die among his family, in his thirty-ninth year. My mother had gone to wait his arrival at the port (Southampton, probably), to which the West India packet should bring him; and among the deepest recollections which I connect with that period, is one derived from the night of his arrival at Greenhay. It was a summer evening of unusual solemnity. The servants, and four of us children—six then survived—were gathered for hours, on the lawn before the house, listening for the sound of wheels. Sunset came—nine, ten, eleven o'clock, and nearly another hour had passed—without a warning sound; for Greenhay, being so solitary a house, formed a terminus ad quem, beyond which was nothing but a cluster of cottages, composing the little hamlet of Greenhill; so that any sound of wheels, heard in the winding lane which then connected us with the Rusholme road, carried with it, of necessity, a warning summons to prepare for visitors at Greenhay. No such summons had yet reached us; it was nearly midnight; and, for the last time, it was determined that we should move in a body out of the grounds, on the chance of meeting the traveling party, if, at so late an hour, it could yet be expected to arrive. In fact, to our general surprise, we met it almost immediately, but coming at so slow a pace, that the fall of the horses' feet was not audible until we were close upon them. I mention the case for the sake of the undying impressions which connected themselves with the circumstances. The first notice of the approach was the sudden emerging of horses' heads from the deep gloom of the shady lane; the next was the mass of white pillows against which the dying patient was reclining. The hearse-like pace at which the carriage moved recalled the overwhelming spectacle of the funeral which had so lately formed part in the most memorable event of my life. But these elements of awe, that might at any rate have struck forcibly upon the mind of a child, were for me, in my condition of morbid nervousness, raised into abiding grandeur by the antecedent experiences of that particular summer night. The listening for hours to the sounds from horses' hoofs upon distant roads, rising and falling, caught and lost, upon the gentle undulation of such light, fitful airs as might be stirring—the peculiar solemnity of the hours succeeding to sunset—the gorgeousness of the dying day—the gorgeousness which, by description, so well I knew of those West Indian islands from which my father was returning—the knowledge that he returned only to die—the almighty pomp in which this great idea of Death appareled itself to my young suffering heart—the corresponding pomp in which the antagonistic idea, not less mysterious, of life, rose, as if on wings, to the heavens, amidst tropic glories and floral pageantries, that seemed even more solemn and more pathetic than, the vapory plumes and trophies of mortality—all this chorus of restless images, or of suggestive thoughts, gave to my father's return, which else had been fitted only to interpose a transitory illumination or red-letter day in the calendar of a child, the shadowy power of an ineffaceable agency among my dreams. This, indeed, was the one sole memorial which restores my father's image to me as a personal reality. Otherwise, he would have been for me a bare nominis umbra. He languished, indeed, for weeks upon a sofa; and, during that interval, it happened naturally, from my meditative habits and corresponding repose of manners, that I was a privileged visitor to him during his waking hours. I was also present at his bed-side in the closing hour of his life, which exhaled quietly, amidst snatches of delirious conversation with some imaginary visitors. From this brief childish experience of his nature and disposition, the chief conclusion which I drew tended to this—that he was the most benignant person whom I had met, or was likely to meet, in life. What I have since heard from others, who knew him well, tallied with my own childish impression. His life had been too busy to allow him much time for regular study; but he loved literature with a passionate love; had formed a large and well-selected library; had himself published a book, which I have read, and which really is not a bad one; and carried his reverence for distinguished authors to such a height, that (according to the report, of several among his friends) had either Dr. Johnson, or Cowper, the poet—the two contemporary authors whom most he reverenced—happened to visit Greenhay, he might have been tempted to express his homage through the Pagan fashion of raising altars and burning incense, or of sacrificing, if not an ox, yet, at least, a baron of beef. The latter mode of idolatry Dr. Sam, would have approved, provided always that the nidor were irreproachable, and that the condiments of mustard, horse-radish, &c., more Anglico, were placed on the altar; but as to Cowper, who was in the habit of tracing Captain Cooke's death at Owyhee to the fact that the misjudging captain had once suffered himself to be worshiped at one of the Society Islands, in all consistency, he must have fled from such a house with sacred horror. Why I have at all gone back to this little parenthesis in my childhood is, from the singularity that I should remember my father at all, only because I had received all my impressions about him into the very centre of my preconceptions about certain grand objects—about the Tropics, about summer evenings, and about some mysterious glory of the grave. It seems metaphysical to say so, but yet it is true that I knew him, speaking scholastically, through a priori ideas—I remember him transcendenter—and, were it not for the midsummer night's dream which glorified his return, to me he would have remained forever that absolute stranger, which, according to the prosaic interpretation of the case, he really was.
My brother was a stranger from causes quite as little to be foreseen, but seeming quite as natural after they had really occurred. In an early stage of his career, he had been found wholly unmanageable. His genius for mischief amounted to inspiration; it was a divine afflatus which drove him in that direction; and such was his capacity for riding in whirlwinds and directing storms, that he made it his trade to create them, as [Greek: nephelegerheta Zehys] a cloud-compelling Jove, in order that he might direct them. For this, and other reasons, he had been sent to the grammar school of Louth, in Lincolnshire—one of those many old classic institutions which form the peculiar glory of England. To box, and to box under the severest restraint of honorable laws, was in those days a mere necessity of school-boy life at public schools; and hence the superior manliness, generosity, and self-control, of those generally who benefited by such discipline—so systematically hostile to all meanness, pusillanimity, or indirectness. Cowper, in his poem on that subject, is far from doing justice to our great public schools. Himself disqualified, by delicacy of temperament, for reaping the benefits from such a warfare, and having suffered too much in his own Westminster experience, he could not judge them from an impartial station; but I, though ill enough adapted to an atmosphere so stormy, yet, having tried both classes of schools, public and private, am compelled in mere conscience to give my vote (and, if I had a thousand votes, to give all my votes) for the former.
Fresh from such a training as this, and at a time when his additional five or six years availed nearly to make his age the double of mine, my brother very naturally despised me; and, from his exceeding frankness, he took no pains to conceal that he did. Why should he? Who was it that could have a right to feel aggrieved by his contempt? Who, if not myself? But it happened, on the contrary, that I had a perfect craze for being despised. I doated on being despised; and considered contempt the sincerest a sort of luxury, that I was in continual fear of losing. I lived in a panic, lest I should be suspected of shamming contemptibility. But I did not sham it. I trusted that I was really entitled to contempt; and, for this, I had some metaphysical-looking reasons, which there may be occasion to explain further on. At present, it is sufficient to give a colorable rationality to my craze, if I say, that the slightest approach to any favorable construction of my intellectual pretensions, any, the least, shadow of esteem expressed for some thought or some logical distinction that I might incautiously have dropped, alarmed me beyond measure, because it pledged me in a manner with the hearer to support this first attempt by a second, by a third, by a fourth—Oh, heavens! there is no saying how far the horrid man might go in his unreasonable demands upon me. I groaned under the weight of his expectations; and, if I laid but the first round of such a staircase, why, then, I saw in vision a vast Jacob's ladder towering upward to the clouds, mile after mile, league after league; the consequence of which would be, that I should be expected to run up and down this ladder, like any fatigue party of Irish hodmen, carrying hods of mortar and bricks to the top of any Babel which my wretched admirer might choose to build. But I put a stop to this villainy. I nipped the abominable system of extortion in the very bud, by refusing to take the first step. The man could have no pretense, you know, for expecting me to climb the third or fourth round, when I had seemed quite unequal to the first. Professing the most absolute bankruptcy from the very beginning, giving the man no sort of hope that I would pay even one farthing in the pound, I never could be made miserable, or kept in hot water, by unknown responsibilities, or by endless anxieties about some bill being presented, which the monster might pretend for one moment that I had indorsed, or in some way had sanctioned his expecting that I would pay.
Still, with all this passion for being despised, which was so essential to my peace of mind, I found at times an altitude—a starry altitude—in the station of contempt for me assumed by my brother that nettled me. Sometimes, indeed, the mere necessities of dispute carried me, before I was aware of my own imprudence, so far up the stair-case of Babel, that my brother was shaken for a moment in the infinity of his contempt: and, before long, when my superiority in some bookish accomplishments displayed itself, by results that could not be entirely dissembled, mere foolish human nature forced me on rare occasions into some trifle of exultation at these retributory triumphs. But more often I was disposed to grieve over them. They tended to shake that solid foundation of utter despicableness upon which I relied so much for my freedom from anxiety; and, therefore, upon the whole, it was satisfactory to my mind that my brother's opinion of me, after any little transient oscillation, gravitated determinately back toward that settled contempt which had been the result of his original inquest. The pillars of Hercules, upon which rested the vast edifice of his scorn, were these two—1st, my physics; he denounced me for effeminacy: 2d, he assumed, and even postulated as a datum, which I myself could never have the face to refuse, my general idiocy. Physically, therefore, and intellectually, he looked upon me as below notice; but, morally, he assured me that he would give me a written character of the very best description, whenever I chose to apply for it. "You're honest," he said; "you're willing, though lazy; you would pull, if you had the strength of a flea; and, though a monstrous coward, you don't run away." My own demurs to these harsh judgments were not many. The idiocy I confessed; because, though positive that I was not uniformly an idiot, I felt inclined to think that, in a majority of cases, I really was; and there were more reasons for thinking so than the reader is yet aware of. But, as to the effeminacy, I denied it in toto, and with good reason, as will be seen. Neither did my brother pretend to have any experimental proofs of it. The ground he went upon was a mere a priori one, viz., that I had always been tied to the apron-string of women or girls; which amounted at most to this: that, by training and the natural tendency of circumstances, I ought to be effeminate—that is, there was reason to expect beforehand that I should be so; but, then, the more merit in me, if, in spite of such general presumptions, I really were not. In fact, my brother soon learned better than any body, and by a daily experience, how entirely he might depend upon me for carrying out the most audacious of his own warlike plans; such plans, it is true, that I abominated; but that made no difference in the fidelity with which I tried to fulfill them.
This eldest brother of mine, to pass from my own character to his, was in all respects a remarkable boy. Haughty he was, aspiring, immeasurably active; fertile in resources as Robinson Crusoe; but also full of quarrel as it is possible to imagine; and, in default of any other opponent, he would have fastened a quarrel upon his own shadow for presuming to run before him when going westward in the morning, whereas, in all reason, a shadow, like a dutiful child, ought to keep deferentially in the rear of that majestic substance which is the author of its existence. Books he detested, one and all, excepting only those which he happened to write himself. And they were not a few. On all subjects known to man, from the Thirty-nine Articles of our English Church, down to pyrotechnics, legerdemain, magic, both black and white, thaumaturgy, and necromancy, he favored the world (which world was the nursery where I, on his first coming home, lived among my sisters) with his select opinions. On this last subject especially—of necromancy—he was very great; witness his profound work, though but a fragment, and, unfortunately, long since departed to the bosom of Cinderella, entitled, "How to raise a ghost; and when you've got him down, how to keep him down." To which work he assured us, that some most learned and enormous man, whose name was six feet long, had promised him an appendix; which appendix treated of the Red Sea and Solomon's signet-ring; with forms of mittimus for ghosts that might be mutinous; and probably a riot act, for any emeute among ghosts inclined to raise barricades; since he often thrilled our young hearts by supposing the case (not at all unlikely, he affirmed), that a federation, a solemn league and conspiracy, might take place among the infinite generations of ghosts against the single generation of men at any one time composing the garrison of earth. The Roman phrase for expressing that a man had died, viz., "Abiit ad plures" (He has gone over to the majority), my brother explained to us; and we easily comprehended that any one generation of the living human race, even if combined, and acting in concert, must be in a frightful minority, by comparison with all the incalculable generations that had trod this earth before us. The Parliament of living men, Lords and Commons united, what a miserable array against the Upper and Lower House composing the Parliament of ghosts. Perhaps the Pre-Adamites would constitute one wing in such a ghostly army. My brother, dying in his sixteenth year, was far enough from seeing or foreseeing Waterloo; else he might have illustrated this dreadful duel of the living human race with its ghostly predecessors, by the awful apparition which, at three o'clock in the afternoon, on the 18th of June, 1815, the mighty contest at Waterloo must have assumed to eyes that watched over the trembling interests of man. The English army, about that time in the great agony of its strife, was thrown into squares; and under that arrangement, which condensed and contracted its apparent numbers within a few black geometrical diagrams, how frightfully narrow—how spectral did its slender lines appear at a distance, to any philosophic spectators that knew the amount of human interests confided to that army, and the hopes for Christendom that even then were trembling in the balance! Such a disproportion, it seems, might exist, in the case of a ghostly war between the harvest of possible results and the slender band of reapers that were to gather it in. And there was even a worse peril than any analogous one that has been proved to exist at Waterloo. A British surgeon, indeed, in a work of two octavo volumes, has endeavored to show that a conspiracy was traced at Waterloo, between two or three foreign regiments, for kindling a panic in the heat of the battle, by flight, and by a sustained blowing-up of tumbrils, with the miserable purpose of shaking the British firmness. But the evidences are not clear; whereas my brother insisted that the presence of sham men, distributed extensively among the human race, and meditating treason against us all, had been demonstrated to the satisfaction of all true philosophers. Who were these shams and make-believe men? They were, in fact, people that had been dead for centuries, but that, for reasons best known to themselves, had returned to this upper earth, walked about among us, and were undistinguishable, except by the most learned of necromancers, from authentic men of flesh and blood. I mention this for the sake of illustrating the fact, that the same crazes are everlastingly revolving upon men. Two years ago, during the carnival of universal anarchy equally among doers and thinkers, a closely-printed pamphlet was published with this title: "A New Revelation, or the Communion of the Incarnate Dead with the Unconscious Living. Important Fact, without trifling Fiction, by HIM." I have not the pleasure of knowing HIM; but certainly I must concede to HIM, that he writes like a man of education, and also like a man of extreme sobriety, upon his extravagant theme. He is angry with Swedenborg, as might be expected, for his "absurdities;" but, as to him, there is no chance that he should commit any absurdity, because (p. 6) "he has met with some who have acknowledged the fact of their having come from the dead"—habes confitentem reum. Few, however, are endowed with so much candor; and, in particular, for the honor of literature, it grieves me to find, by p. 10, that the largest number of these shams, and perhaps the most uncandid, are to be looked for among "publishers and printers," of whom, it seems, "the great majority" are mere forgeries; a very few speak frankly about the matter, and say they don't care who knows it, which, to my thinking, is impudence; but by far the larger section doggedly deny it, and call a policeman, if you persist in charging them with being shams. Some differences there are between my brother and HIM, but in the great outline of their views, they coincide.
This hypothesis, however, like a thousand others, when it happened that they engaged no durable sympathy from his nursery audience, he did not pursue. For some time, he turned his thoughts to philosophy, and read lectures to us every night upon some branch or other of physics. This undertaking arose upon some one of us envying or admiring flies for their power of walking upon the ceiling. "Pooh!" he said, "they are impostors; they pretend to do it, but they can't do it as it ought to be done. Ah! you should see me standing upright on the ceiling, with my head downward, for half-an-hour together, and meditating profoundly." My second sister remarked, that we should all be very glad to see him in that position. "If that's the case," he replied, "it's very well that all is ready, except as to one single strap." Being an excellent skater, he had first imagined that, if held up until he had started, by taking a bold sweep ahead, he might then keep himself in position through the continued impetus of skating. But this he found not to answer, because, as he observed, "the friction was too retarding from the plaster of Paris, but the ease would be very different if the ceiling were coated with ice." As it was not, he changed his plan. The true secret, he said, was this: he would consider himself in the light of a humming-top: he would make an apparatus (and he made it) for having himself launched, like a top, upon the ceiling, and regularly spun. Then the vertiginous motion of the human top would overpower the force of gravitation. He should, of course, spin upon his own axis, and sleep upon his axis—perhaps he might even dream upon it; and he laughed at "those scoundrels, the flies," that never improved in their pretended art, nor made any thing of it. The principle was now discovered; "and, of course," he said, "if a man can keep it up for five minutes, what's to hinder him from going on for five months?" "Certainly," my sister replied, whose skepticism, in fact, had not settled upon the five months, but altogether upon the five minutes. The apparatus for spinning him, however, would not work: a fact which was evidently owing to the stupidity of the gardener. On reconsidering the subject, he announced, to the disappointment of some among us, that, although the physical discovery was now complete, he saw a moral difficulty. It was not a humming-top that was required, but a peg-top; and this, in order to keep up the vertigo at full stretch, without which to a certainty, gravitation would prove too much for him, needed to be whipped incessantly. Now, that was what a gentleman ought not to tolerate: to be scourged unintermittingly on the legs by any grub of a gardener, unless it were Father Adam himself, was a thing that he could not bring his mind to endure. However, as some compensation, he proposed to improve the art of flying, which was, as every body must acknowledge, in a condition quite disgraceful to civilized society. As he had made many a fire balloon, and had succeeded in some attempts at bringing down cats by parachutes, it was not very difficult to fly downward from moderate elevations. But, as he was reproached by my sister for never flying back again, which, how ever, was a far different thing, and not even attempted by the philosopher in "Rasselas" (for
Revocare gradum et superas evadere ad auras, Hic labor, hoc opus est),
he refused, under such poor encouragement, to try his winged parachutes any more, either "aloft or alow," till he had thoroughly studied Bishop Wilkins on the art of translating right reverend gentlemen to the moon; and, in the mean time, he resumed his general lectures on physics. From these, however, he was speedily driven, or one might say shelled out, by a concerted assault of my sister's. He had been in the habit of lowering the pitch of his lectures with ostentatious condescension to the presumed level of our poor understandings. This superciliousness annoyed my sister; and, accordingly, with the help of two young female visitors, and my next younger brother—in subsequent times a little middy on board many a ship of H.M., and the most predestined rebel upon earth against all assumptions, small or great, of superiority—she arranged a mutiny, that had the unexpected effect of suddenly extinguishing the lectures forever. He had happened to say, what was no unusual thing with him, that he flattered himself he had made the point under discussion tolerably clear; "clear," he added, bowing round the half-circle of us, the audience, "to the meanest of capacities;" and then he repeated, sonorously, "clear to the most excruciatingly mean of capacities." Upon which a voice, a female one, but whose I had not time to distinguish, retorted: "No, you haven't; it's as dark as sin;" and then, without a moment's interval, a second voice exclaimed, "Dark as night;" then came my young brother's insurrectionary yell, "Dark as midnight;" then another female voice chimed in melodiously, "Dark as pitch;" and so the peal continued to come round like a catch, the whole being so well concerted, and the rolling fire so well sustained, that it was impossible to make head against it; while the abruptness of the interruption gave to it the protecting character of an oral "round robin," it being impossible to challenge any one in particular as the ring-leader. Burke's phrase of "the swinish multitude," applied to mobs, was then in every body's mouth; and, accordingly, after my brother had recovered from his first astonishment at this insurrection, he made us several sweeping bows that looked very much like tentative rehearsals of a sweeping fusillade, and then addressed us in a very brief speech, of which we could distinguish the words pearls and swinish multitude, but uttered in a very low key, perhaps out of regard to the two young strangers. We all laughed in chorus at this parting salute: my brother himself condescended at last to join us; but there ended the course of lectures on natural philosophy.
As it was impossible, however, that he should remain quiet, he announced to us, that for the rest of his life he meant to dedicate himself to the intense cultivation of the tragic drama. He got to work instantly; and very soon he had composed the first act of his "Sultan Selim;" but, in defiance of the metre, he soon changed the title to "Sultan Amurath," considering that a much fiercer name, more bewhiskered and beturbaned. It was no part of his intention that we should sit lolling on chairs like ladies and gentlemen that had paid opera prices for private boxes. He expected every one of us, he said, to pull an oar. We were to act the tragedy. But, in fact, we had many oars to pull. There were so many characters, that each of us took four, at the least, and the future middy had six. He, this wicked little middy, caused the greatest affliction to Sultan Amurath, forcing him to order the amputation of his head six several times (that is, once in every one of his six parts), during the first act. In reality, the sultan, though a decent man, was too bloody. What by the bowstring, and what by the scimetar, he had so thinned the population with which he commenced business, that scarcely any of the characters remained alive at the end of act the first. Sultan Amurath found himself in an awkward situation. Large arrears of work remained, and hardly any body to do it but the sultan himself. In composing act the second, the author had to proceed like Deucalion and Pyrrha, and to create an entirely new generation. Apparently, this young generation, that ought to have been so good, took no warning by what had happened to their ancestors in act the first; one must conclude that they were quite as wicked, since the poor sultan had found himself reduced to order them all for execution in the course of this act the second. To the brazen age had succeeded an iron age; and the prospects were becoming sadder and sadder, as the tragedy advanced. But here the author began to hesitate. He felt it hard to resist the instinct of carnage. And was it right to do so? Which of the felons, whom he had cut off prematurely, could pretend that a court of appeal would have reversed his sentence? But the consequences were dreadful. A new set of characters in every act, brought with it the necessity of a new plot: for people could not succeed to the arrears of old actions, or inherit ancient motives, like a landed estate. Five crops, in fact, must be taken off the ground in each separate tragedy, amounting, in short, to five tragedies involved in one.