NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
No. XII.—MAY, 1851—VOL. II.
THE NOVELTY WORKS, WITH SOME DESCRIPTION OF THE MACHINERY AND THE PROCESSES EMPLOYED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF MARINE STEAM-ENGINES OF THE LARGEST CLASS.
BY JACOB ABBOTT.
Perhaps no one of those vast movements which are now going forward among mankind, and which mark so strikingly the industrial power and genius of the present age, is watched with more earnest interest by thinking men, than the successive steps of the progress by which the mechanical power of steam and machinery is gradually advancing, in its contest for the dominion of the seas. There is a double interest in this conflict. In fact, the conflict itself is a double one. There is first a struggle between the mechanical power and ingenuity of man, on the one hand, and the uncontrollable and remorseless violence of ocean storms on the other; and, secondly, there is the rivalry, not unfriendly, though extremely ardent and keen, between the two most powerful commercial nations on the globe, each eager to be the first to conquer the common foe.
The armories in which the ordnance and ammunition for this warfare are prepared, consist, so far as this country is concerned, of certain establishments, vast in their extent and capacity, though unpretending in external appearance, which are situated in the upper part of the city of New York, on the shores of the East River. As the city of New York is sustained almost entirely by its commerce, and as this commerce is becoming every year more and more dependent for its prosperity and progress upon the power of the enormous engines by which its most important functions are now performed, the establishments where these engines are invented and made, and fitted into the ships which they are destined to propel, constitute really the heart of the metropolis; though, the visitor, who comes down for the first time by the East River, from the Sound, in the morning boat from Norwich or Fall River, is very prone to pass them carelessly by—his thoughts intent upon what he considers the superior glory and brilliancy which emanate from the hotels and theatres of Broadway.
In fact, there is very little to attract the eye of the unthinking traveler to these establishments as he glides swiftly by them in the early morning. He is astonished perhaps at the multitude of steamers which he sees lining the shores in this part of the city, some drawn up into the docks for repairs; others new, and moored alongside a pier to receive their machinery; and others still upon the stocks in the capacious ship-yards, in the various stages of that skeleton condition which in the ship marks the commencement, as in animal life it does the end, of existence. Beyond and above the masts and spars and smoke-pipes of this mass of shipping, the observer sees here and there a columnar chimney, or the arms of a monstrous derrick or crane, or a steam-pipe ejecting vapor in successive puffs with the regularity of an animal pulsation. He little thinks that these are the beatings which mark the spot where the true heart of the great metropolis really lies. But it is actually so. The splendor and the fashion of the Fifth Avenue, and of Union-square, as well as the brilliancy, and the ceaseless movement and din of Broadway, are the mere incidents and ornaments of the structure, while these establishments, and others of kindred character and function, form the foundation on which the whole of the vast edifice reposes.
We select, rather by accident than otherwise, the Novelty Works as a specimen of the establishments to which we have been alluding, for description in this Number. A general view of the works as they appear from the river, is presented in the engraving at the head of this article, with the docks and piers belonging to the establishment in the fore-ground.
The entrance to the inclosure is by a great gateway, through which the visitor on approaching it, will, very probably see an enormous truck or car issuing, drawn by a long team of horses, and bearing some ponderous piece of machinery suspended beneath it by means of levers and chains. On the right of the entrance gate is the porter's lodge, with entrances from it to the offices, as represented in the plan on the adjoining page Beyond the entrance, and just within the inclosure may be seen a great crane used for receiving or delivering the vast masses of metal, the shafts, the cylinders, the boilers, the vacuum pans, and other ponderous formations which are continually coming and going to and from the yard. Beyond the crane is seen the bell by which the hours of work are regulated.
The plan upon the adjoining page will give the reader some idea of the extent of the accommodations required for the manufacture of such heavy and massive machinery. On the right of the entrance may be seen the porter's lodge, shown in perspective in the view below. Beyond it, in the yard, stands the crane, which is seen likewise in the view. Turning to the left, just beyond the crane, the visitor enters the iron foundry, a spacious inclosure, with ovens and furnaces along the sides, and enormous cranes swinging in various directions in the centre. These cranes are for hoisting the heavy castings out of the pits in which they are formed. The parts marked v v v, are ovens for drying the moulds.
Turning to the right from the foundry, and passing down through the yard, the visitor finds himself in the midst of a complicated maze of buildings, which extend in long ranges toward the water, with lanes and passages between them like the streets of a town. In these passages companies of workmen are seen, some going to and fro, drawing heavy masses of machinery upon iron trucks; others employed in hoisting some ponderous cylinder or shaft by a crane, or stacking pigs of iron in great heaps, to be ready for the furnaces which are roaring near as if eager to devour them. And all the time there issues from the open doors of the great boiler-shops and forging-shops below, an incessant clangor, produced by the blows of the sledges upon the rivets of the boilers, or of the trip-hammers at the forges.
The relative positions of the various shops where the different operations are performed will be seen by examination of the plan. The motive power by which all the machinery of the establishment is driven, is furnished by a stationary engine in the very centre of the works, represented in the plan. It stands between two of the principal shops. On the right is seen the boiler, and on the left the engine—while the black square below, just within the great boiler-shop, represents the chimney. Other similar squares in different parts of the plan represent chimneys also, in the different parts of the establishment. These chimneys may be seen in perspective in the general view, at the head of this article, and may be identified with their several representations in the plan, by a careful comparison. The one belonging to the engine is the central one in the picture as well as in the plan—that is, the one from which the heaviest volume of smoke is issuing.
This central engine, since it carries all the machinery of the works, by means of which every thing is formed and fashioned, is the life and soul of the establishment—the mother, in fact, of all the monsters which issue from it; and it is impossible to look upon her, as she toils on industriously in her daily duty, and think of her Titanic progeny, scattered now over every ocean on the globe, without a certain feeling of respect and even of admiration.
A careful inspection of the plan will give the reader some ideas of the nature of the functions performed in these establishments, and of the general arrangements adopted in them. The magnitude and extent of them is shown by this fact, that the number of men employed at the Novelty Works is from one thousand to twelve hundred. These are all men, in the full vigor of life. If now we add to this number a proper estimate for the families of these men, and for the mechanics and artisans who supply their daily wants, all of whom reside in the streets surrounding the works, we shall find that the establishment represents, at a moderate calculation, a population of ten thousand souls.
The proper regulation of the labors of so large a body of workmen as are employed in such an establishment, requires, of course, much system in the general arrangements, and very constant and careful supervision on the part of those intrusted with the charge of the various divisions of the work. The establishment forms, in fact, a regularly organized community, having, like any state or kingdom, its gradations of rank, its established usages, its written laws, its police, its finance, its records, its rewards, and its penalties. The operation of the principles of system, and of the requirements of law, leads, in such a community as this, to many very curious and striking results, some of which it would be interesting to describe, if we had space for such descriptions. But we must pass to the more immediate subject in this article, which is the structure of the engine itself, and not that of the community which produces it.
The engraving on the next page represents the interior of the engine-room of the Humboldt—a new steamer, which was lying at the dock at the time of our visit, receiving her machinery; though probably before these pages shall come under the eye of the reader, she will be steadily forcing her way over the foaming surges of the broad Atlantic. The machinery, as we saw it, was incomplete, and the parts in disorder—the various masses of which it was ultimately to be composed, resting on temporary supports, in different stages, apparently of their slow journey to the place and the connection in which they respectively belonged. The ingenious artist, however, who made the drawings, succeeded in doing, by means of his imagination, at once, what it will require the workmen several weeks to perform, with all their complicated machinery of derricks, tackles, and cranes. He put every thing in its place, and has given us a view of the whole structure as it will appear when the ship is ready for sea.
There are two engines and four boilers; thus the machinery is all double, so that if any fatal accident or damage should accrue to any part, only one half of the moving force on which the ship relies would be suspended. The heads of two of the boilers are to be seen on the left of the view. They are called the starboard and larboard boilers—those words meaning right and left. That is, the one on the right to a person standing before them in the engine room, and facing them, is the starboard, and the other the larboard boiler. It is the larboard boiler which is nearest the spectator in the engraving.
The boilers, the heads of which only are seen in the engraving, are enormous in magnitude and capacity, extending as they do far forward into the hold of the ship. In marine engines of the largest class they are sometimes thirty-six feet long and over twelve feet in diameter. There is many a farmer's dwelling house among the mountains, which is deemed by its inmates spacious and comfortable, that has less capacity. In fact, placed upon end, one of these boilers would form a tower with a very good sized room on each floor, and four stories high. The manner in which the boilers are made will be presently explained.
The steam generated in the boilers is conveyed to the engine, where it is to do its work, by what is called the steam pipe. The steam pipe of the larboard engine, that is, of the one nearest the spectator, is not represented in the engraving, as it would have intercepted too much the view of the other parts. That belonging to the starboard engine, however, may be seen passing across from the boiler to the engine, on the back side of the room. The destination of the steam is the cylinder.
The cylinder, marked C, is seen on the extreme right, in the view. It may be known, too, by its form, which corresponds with its name. The cylinder is the heart and soul of the engine, being the seat and centre of its power. The steam is generated in the boilers, but while it remains there it remains quiescent and inert. The action in which its mighty power is expended, and by means of which all subsequent effects are produced, is the lifting and bringing down of the enormous piston which plays within the cylinder. This piston is a massive metallic disc or plate, fitting the interior of the cylinder by its edges, and rising or falling by the expansive force of the steam, as it is admitted alternatively above and below it.
The round beam which is seen issuing from the centre of the head of the cylinder is called the piston rod. The piston itself is firmly secured to the lower end of this rod within the cylinder. Of course, when the piston is forced upward by the pressure of the steam admitted beneath it, the piston rod rises, too, with all the force of the expansion. This is, in the case of the largest marine engines, a force of about a hundred tons. That is to say, if in the place of the cross head—the beam marked H in the engraving which surmounts the piston—there were a mass of rock weighing a hundred tons, which would be, in the case of granite, a block four feet square and eighty feet high, the force of the steam beneath the piston in the cylinder would be competent to lift it.
The piston rod, rising with this immense force carries up the cross head, and with the cross head the two side rods, one of which is seen in full, in the engraving, and is marked S. There is a side rod on each side of the cylinders. The lower ends of these rods are firmly connected with the back ends of what are called the side levers. One of these side levers is seen in full view in the engraving. It is the massive flat beam, marked L, near the fore-ground of the view. It turns upon an enormous pivot which passes through the centre of it, as seen in the drawing, in such a manner that when the cylinder end is drawn up by the lifting of the cross head, the other end is borne down to the same extent, and with the same prodigious force. There is another side beam, on the other side of the cylinder, which moves isochronously with the one in view. The forward end of this other beam may be seen, though the main body of it is concealed from view. These two forward ends of the levers are connected by a heavy bar, called the cross tail, which passes across from one to the other. From the centre of this cross tail, a bar called the connecting rod rises to the crank, where the force exerted by the steam in the cylinders is finally expended in turning the great paddle wheels by means of the main shaft, S, which is seen resting in the pillow block, P, above. These are the essential parts of the engine, and we now proceed to consider the mode of manufacturing these several parts, somewhat in detail.
The boilers are formed of wrought iron. The material is previously rolled into plates of the requisite thickness, and then the first part of the process of forming these plates into a boiler is to cut them into proper forms. The monster that fulfills the function of shears for this purpose, bears a very slight resemblance to any ordinary cutting implement It resembles, on the other hand, as represented in the adjoining engraving, an enormous letter U, standing perpendicularly upon one of its edges. Through the centre of the upper branch of it there passes a shaft or axle, which is turned by the wheels and machinery behind it, and which itself works the cutter at the outer end of it by means of an eccentric wheel. This cutter may be seen just protruding from its place, upon the plate which the workmen are holding underneath. The iron plates thus presented are sometimes nearly half an inch thick, but the monstrous jaw of the engine, though it glides up and down when there is nothing beneath it in the most gentle and quiet manner possible, cuts them through, as if they were plates of wax, and apparently without feeling the obstruction.
The plates, when cut, are to be bent to the proper curvature. The machine by which this bending is effected is seen above, in the back-ground. It consists of three rollers, placed in such a position in relation to each other, that the plate, in being forced through between them, is bent to any required curvature. These rollers are made to revolve by great wheels at the sides, with handles at the circumference of them, which handles act as levers, and are worked by men, as seen in the engraving.
The separate plates of which a boiler is composed are fastened together by means of massive rivets, and it is necessary, accordingly, to punch rows of holes along the edges of the plates for the insertion of the rivets. This process may be seen on the left in the above engraving. Two men are holding the plate which is to be punched. The punch is driven through the plate by means of the great lever, which forms the upper part of the engine. The upright part in front is driven forward by means of the cam in the large wheel behind, a part of which only is seen in the engraving. This cam raises the long arm of the lever by means of the pulley in the end of it, and so drives the point of the punch through the plate. There is a support for the plate behind it, between the plate and the man, with a small opening in it, into which the punch enters, driving before it the round button of iron which it has cut from the plate.
On the right, in the above engraving, is a punching engine worked by men, the other being driven by steam power. These machines are sufficient to make all the ordinary perforations required in boiler-plates. Larger holes, when required, have to be bored by a drill, as represented in the following engraving.
The view below represents the interior of one of the great boiler rooms where the boilers are put together by riveting the plates to each other at their edges. Some men stand inside, holding heavy sledges against the heads of the rivets, while others on the outside, with other sledges, beat down the part of the iron which protrudes, so as to form another head to each rivet, on the outside. This process can be seen distinctly in the boiler nearest to the observer in the view below. The planks which are seen crossing each other in the open end, are temporary braces, put in to preserve the cylindrical form of the mass, to prevent the iron from bending itself by its own weight, before the iron heads are put in.
Sometimes operations must be performed upon the sides of the boiler requiring the force of machinery. To effect this purpose, shafts carried by the central engine to which we have already alluded, are attached to the walls in various parts of the room, as seen in the engraving. Connected with these shafts are various drilling and boring machines, which can at any time be set in motion, or put to rest, by being thrown in or out of gear. One of these machines is seen on the right of the boiler above referred to, and another in the left-hand corner of the room quite in the back-ground. Near the fore-ground, on the left, is seen a forge, where any small mass of iron may be heated, as occasion may require.
The semi-cylindrical piece which lies in the centre of the room, toward the fore-ground, is part of a locomotive boiler, and is of course much smaller in size than the others, though it is constructed in the same manner with the large boilers used for sea-going ships. The process of riveting, as will be seen by the engraving, is the same. One man holds up against the under side of the plate a support for the rivet, while two men with hammers form a head above—striking alternately upon the iron which protrudes.
From the boiler we proceed to the cylinder, which is in fact the heart of the engine,—the seat and centre of its power. It is to the cylinder that the steam, quietly generated in the boiler, comes to exercise its energy, by driving, alternately up and down, the ponderous piston. The cylinder must be strong so as to resist the vast expansive force which is exercised within it. It must be stiff, so as to preserve in all circumstances its exact form. It must be substantial, so as to allow of being turned and polished on its interior surface with mathematical precision, in order that the piston in ascending and descending, may glide smoothly up and down, without looseness, and at the same time without friction. To answer these conditions it is necessary that it should be formed of cast iron.
The cylinders are cast, accordingly, in the iron foundry, which, as will be seen by the plan, is on the left, as the visitor enters the works. There is a range of monstrous cranes extending through the interior of the room, as represented in the plan, one of which is exhibited conspicuously in the engraving below. At different places in the ground, beneath this foundry, for it has no floor, there have been excavated deep pits, some of which are twelve feet in diameter and eighteen feet deep, the sides of which are secured by strong inclosures, formed of plates of boiler iron riveted together. These pits are filled with moulding sand—a composition of a damp and tenacious character, used in moulding. The mould is made and lowered into one of these pits, the pit is filled up, the sand being rammed as hard as possible all around it. When all is ready, the top of the mould, with the cross by which it is to be lifted and lowered surmounting it, presents the appearance represented on the right hand lower corner of the engraving below.
A reservoir to contain the melted metal necessary for the casting is then placed in a convenient position near it, with a channel or conduit leading from it to the mould. This reservoir may be seen in the engraving near the centre of the view, at the foot of the crane. An inclined plane is then laid, as seen in the engraving, to the left of the reservoir, up which the workmen carry the molten metal in ladles, which, though they do not appear very large, it requires five men to carry. A party carrying such a ladle may be seen in the engraving in the back-ground on the left. These ladles are filled from the various furnaces, the iron throwing out an intense heat, and projecting the most brilliant scintillations in every direction, as it flows. In the case of the largest castings it requires sometimes four or five hours to get together, from the furnaces, a sufficient supply of metal. The largest reservoir thus filled will hold about thirty tons of iron.
The flowing of the metal from the reservoir to the mould in a great casting, forms a magnificent spectacle. The vast mass of molten iron in the reservoir, the stream flowing down the conduit, throwing out the most brilliant corruscations, the gaseous flames issuing from the upper portions of the mould, and the currents of melted iron which sometimes overflow and spread, like mimic streams of lava, over the ground, present in their combination quite an imposing pyrotechnic display. In fact there is a chance for the visitor, in the case of castings of a certain kind, that he may be treated to an explosion as a part of the spectacle. The imprisoned vapors and gases which are formed in the mould below, break out sometimes with considerable violence, scattering the burning and scintillating metal in every direction around.
When the casting is completed it is of course allowed to remain undisturbed until the iron has had time to cool, and then the whole mass is to be dug out of the pit in which it is imbedded. So much heat, however, still remains in the iron and in the sand surrounding it, that the mould itself and the twenty or thirty men engaged in disinterring it, are enveloped in dense clouds of vapor which rise all around them while the operation is proceeding.
It is necessary that the sand which surrounds these moulds should be rammed down in the most compact and solid manner to sustain the sides of the mould and enable them to resist the enormous pressure to which it is subject, especially in the lower portions, while the iron continues fluid. In the case of iron, the weight of four inches in height is equivalent to the pressure of a pound upon the square inch. In a pit, therefore, eighteen feet deep, as some of the pits at this foundry are, we should have a pressure at the bottom of fifty-four pounds to the inch. Now, in the most powerful sea-going steamers, the pressure of steam at which the engines are worked, is seldom more than eighteen pounds to the inch; that of the Cunard line is said to be from twelve to fifteen, and that of the Collins line from fifteen to eighteen. In other words there is a pressure to be resisted at the lower ends of these long castings equal to three times that at which the most powerful low pressure engines are worked, and which sometimes results in such terrific explosions.
When the cylinder is freed from the pressure of the sand around it, in its bed, the great iron cross by which the mould was lowered into the pit, as seen in the engraving of the Casting, is once more brought down to its place, and the stirrups at the tops of the iron rods seen in the engraving below, are brought over the ends of the arms of the cross. The lower ends of these rods take hold of a frame or platform below, upon which the whole mould, together with the cylinder within it, is supported. The arm of the crane is then brought round to the spot. The hook pendant from it is attached to the ring in the centre of the cross, and by means of the wheels and machinery of the crane, the whole is slowly hoisted out, and then swung round to some convenient level, where the ponderous mass is freed from its casing of masonry, and brought out at last to open day. It is then thoroughly examined with a view to the discovery of any latent flaw or imperfection, and, if found complete in every part, is conveyed away to be the subject of a long series of finishing operations in another place,—operations many and complicated, but all essential to enable it finally to fulfill its functions.
These cylinders though very massive and ponderous are not the heaviest castings made. They are much exceeded in weight by what is called a bed plate, which is an enormous frame of iron cast in one mass, or else in two or three separate masses and then strongly bolted together, to form a foundation on which the engine is to rest in the hold of the ship. The bed plate can not be seen in the view of the engine room already given, as it lies below the floor, being underneath all the machinery. A bed plate weighs sometimes thirty-five tons—which is the weight of about five hundred men. Such a mass as this has to be transported on ways, like those used in the launching of a ship. It is drawn along upon these ways by blocks and pullies, and when brought alongside the ship is hoisted on board by means of an enormous derrick, and let down slowly to the bottom of the hold—the place where it is finally to repose, unless perchance it should at last be liberated by some disaster, from this dungeon, and sent to seek its ultimate destination in the bottom of the sea.
The engraving below represents the forges, where all those parts of the machinery are formed and fitted which consist of wrought iron. The room in which these forges are situated is called the smith's shop, in the plan. In the back-ground, a little to the right, is one of the trip hammers, in the act of striking. The trip-hammer is a massive hammer carried by machinery. The machinery which drives it may at any time be thrown in or out of gear, so that the blows of the hammer are always under the control of the workman. The iron bar to be forged is far too heavy to be held by hand. It is accordingly supported as seen in the engraving, by a crane; and only guided to its place upon the anvil by the workmen who have hold of it. The chain to which this bar is suspended comes down from a little truck which rests upon the top of the crane, and which may be made to traverse to and fro, thus carrying whatever is suspended from it further outward, or drawing it in, as may be required. All the cranes, both in the smith's shop and in the foundry, are fitted with the same contrivance. These trucks are moved by means of a wheel at the foot of the crane.
On the extreme right of the picture, and somewhat in the distance, may be seen another trip-hammer with a bar upon the anvil beneath it, this bar being suspended likewise from a crane. When the iron becomes too cold to yield any longer to the percussion, the hammer is stopped, the crane is swung round, and the iron is replaced in the forge to be heated anew; and at length, when heated, it is brought back again under the hammer as before.
The forging of shafts requires heavier machinery even than this. The enormous mass of iron that is in this case to be forged, is bricked up in a furnace to be heated, and remains there many hours. The masonry is then broken away and the red hot beam is swung round under the hammer, as seen below. It is suspended from the crane by heavy chains, and is guided by the workmen by means of iron handles clamped to it at a distance from the heated part, as seen in the engraving in the adjoining column. The hammer is lifted by means of the cam below it, as seen in the engraving below. This cam is a projection from an axis revolving beneath the floor, and which, as it revolves, carries the cams successively against a projection upon the under side of the hammer, which is partly concealed in the engraving by the figure of the man. When the point of the cam has passed beyond the projection it allows the hammer to fall.
While the process of forging such a shaft is going on, one man throws water upon the work, to effect some purpose connected with the scaling of the iron, while another, with an instrument called the callipers, measures the diameter of the shaft, to regulate the size, as the forging proceeds.
The shafts, when forged, are to be turned in a lathe, and the engine used for this purpose is represented on the left in the engraving below. The shaft itself is seen in the lathe, while the tool which cuts it as it revolves, is fixed firmly in the "rest," which slides along the side. The point of the tool is seen in the engraving, with the spiral shaving which it cuts falling down from it. The shaft is made to revolve by the band seen coming down obliquely from above, at the hither end of the engine. The wheel by which the band turns the lathe has different grooves at different distances from the centre, in order that the workmen may regulate the velocity of the rotation—as different degrees of velocity are required for the different species of work. The rest, to which the cutting tool is attached, is brought slowly along the side of the shaft as the shaft revolves, by means of a long screw which is concealed in the frame of the lathe, and which is turned continually by the mechanism of the small wheels which are seen at the hither end of the engine.
On the right hand of this view is represented another kind of lathe called a face lathe, which is employed for turning wheels, and flat plates, and interiors of cavities, and such other pieces of work as do not furnish two opposite points of support. In the fore-ground are a company of men drawing a massive piece of iron upon a truck, destined apparently to be turned in the left hand lathe.
Although thus a great part of the work in respect to all the details of the engine, is performed by machinery, much remains after all to be wrought and fashioned by hand. In passing through the establishment the visitor finds the workmen engaged in these labors, in every conceivable attitude and position. One man is filing a curved surface with a curved file, another is hidden almost wholly from view within a great misshapen box of iron: a third is mounted upon a ladder, and is slowly boring through the wall of some monstrous formation, or cutting away excrescences of iron from some massive casting with a cold chisel. In a word, the details are so endlessly varied as to excite the wonder of the beholder that any human head should have been capable of containing them all, so as to have planned and arranged the fitting of such complicated parts with any hope of their ever coming rightly together.
They do come together, however, at last, and then follows the excitement of the trial. There is nothing more striking in the history of the construction of a steam engine than this, that there can be no partial or private tests of the work by the workmen in the course of its progress—but every thing remains in suspense until all is complete, and the ship and the machinery are actually ready for sea. The immense and ponderous masses which constitute the elements of the mighty structure are hoisted slowly on board and let down into their places. Multitudes of men are incessantly employed for many weeks in arranging the limbs and members of the monster, and in screwing and bolting every thing into its place. Still nothing can be tried. The machinery is too ponderous and massive to be put in action by any power less than that of the mighty mover on which its ultimate performance is to depend; and this mover has not yet been called into being.
At length the day of trial arrives. The engineers, the workmen, the owners, and perhaps many spectators, have assembled to watch the result. The boiler is filled; the fires are lighted. Hour after hour the process goes on of raising the force and pressure of the steam. All this time, however, the machinery lies inert and lifeless. It is a powerless mass of dead and heavy brass and iron. At length an engineer, standing upon a platform, with a lever in his hand, receives the signal, opens the valve, and breathes into the monstrous body the breath of life. The ponderous piston slowly rises; the beam descends; the crank turns; the vast paddles revolve, and the monster walks away through the water with its enormous burden, having leaped suddenly, at its first breath, into the complete and full possession of its gigantic powers.
In due time the equipment is complete, and the ship having received on board its burden of costly cargo and valuable lives, moves away from the shore, with a certain expression of calm and quiet dignity in her appearance and demeanor, which almost seems to denote a consciousness on her part of the vast responsibilities which she is assuming, and of the abundant power which she possesses fully to sustain them all.
It is probable that to many of our readers the name which stands at the head of this sketch is unknown, and that those who recognize it will only know it as that of the author of the well-known lines upon the death of Sir John Moore—a lyric of such surpassing beauty, that so high a judge as Lord Byron considered it the perfection of English lyrical poetry, preferring it before Coleridge's lines on Switzerland—Campbell's Hohenlinden—and the finest of Moore's Irish melodies, which were instanced by Shelley and others. Yet, unknown as the Rev. Charles Wolfe is, it is unquestionable that he was a man possessing the highest powers of imagination, and a powerful intellect, cultivated to a very high point of perfection, and fitting him to become one of the brightest stars of the world of literature. Why he is unknown is then probably a question which will suggest itself to the minds of many, and the answer must be, because he did so little for the world to remember him by. The whole of his literary remains, including his sermons, and a biographical sketch, which fills one half of the book, is contained in a moderate sized octavo volume, published after his death by the Rev. J. A. Russell, Archdeacon of Clogher, whose affection for the memory of Mr. Wolfe prompted him to edit and give to the world the fragmentary manuscripts, which are the only lasting and appreciable records of the residence of a great spirit among us. But it may be asked why, with such capabilities and powers as we have stated Mr. Wolfe to possess, he did so little? and to that interrogation many replies may be given. Mr. Wolfe died at the early age of 32, just when the powers are in their full vigor—and in the later years of his life he had devoted himself enthusiastically to the duties which devolved upon him as the curate of a large and populous parish in the north of Ireland. Neither of these reasons, however, is sufficient, for we know that the poetic intellect is precocious, and brings forth fruit early. Shelley, who died younger, left productions behind him, which will hand his name down to the latest posterity; and the comparatively voluminous writings of the witty dean, Sidney Smith, prove that a man may bear the weight of the clerical office, and take an active part in politics in addition, and yet leave enough behind him to keep his name green in the memory of the world.
The true reason why Mr. Wolfe did so little is no doubt to be found in the character of his mind, and this is easily traceable, both in the mild, child-like, almost simple, but intelligent expression of the portrait which forms a frontispiece to the volume to which we have adverted, and in most of the passages of his life. There was a want of strong resolution, and an absence of concentration so marked, that he seldom read completely through even those books which most deeply interested him—there was a nervous susceptibility, and an openness to new impressions, which caused him as it were to dwell upon every passage he did read, to linger over its beauties, to start objections to its theories, to argue them out, and to develop to its fullest every suggestive thought; and there was in him a spirit of good-nature trenching upon weak compliance, which put his time at the service of all who chose to thrust employment upon him. Added to this, and arising out of his want of steady resolution and earnest will, there was a habit of putting off till to-morrow what should be done to-day, of which he was himself fully sensible, and which he speaks of in one of his letters, as that "fatal habit of delay and procrastination, for which I am so pre-eminently distinguished."
Charles Wolfe was the youngest son of Theobald Wolfe, Esq., of Blackball, in the County of Kildare, Ireland, and was born in Dublin on the 13th of December, 1791. The family was not unknown to fame, for the celebrated General Wolfe, who fell at Quebec, was one of its members, and Lord Kilwarden, an eminent man at the Irish bar, and who was afterward elevated to the dignity of a judgeship, was another. At an early age the father of our hero died, and the family removed to England, where Charles Wolfe was sent to a school at Bath. Here, however, at the age of ten years, his studies were interrupted by failing health for a period of twelve months. After that, he was in the establishment of Dr. Evans, of Salisbury; and in 1805 we find him at Winchester school, under the superintendence of Mr. Richards, senior. Here he became conspicuous for his classical knowledge, and his great powers of versification, which gave promise of future excellence. What appears more distinctly, though, than his mental ability at this age, was the amiability of his disposition, and the tractability of his nature. His kindness, cheerfulness, and open sympathy drew to him the love of his fellows; and the esteem in which he was held by his masters may be judged from the fact, that during the whole period of his pupilage his conduct never drew down upon him punishment, or even a reprimand. His tender and affectionate disposition endeared him to his own family, with whom he was an especial favorite; and in connection with this, we may mention one circumstance strongly indicative of his yielding character. In spite of his gentle nature, he, animated no doubt by that desire for glory so common to poetical minds, and which, looking on the brighter side of war, hides its terrors and its horrors from the young and ardent, wished to enter the army; but finding that the idea gave pain to his mother, he immediately abandoned the notion, and appears from thenceforth to have looked upon the clerical office as his destined part in life. Strange transition, from the aspiration to carry forth death and destruction to that of being the bearer of the glad tidings of "peace on earth, and good-will toward men." The change, however, is one which we believe to be not unfrequent. The same desire for fame urges men to the bar, the pulpit, and the tented field, and but for maternal love, Charles Wolfe, carrying with him that martial spirit which now and then breaks out in his poetry, might have been like his namesake, the General, a blood-stained hero, instead of a peaceful, loving Irish curate. So powerful are circumstances to mould man's fate—and Wolfe was of that mould on which circumstances act with peculiar force. Had he been a soldier, it may be that the occupation would have strengthened his physique at the expense of his mentality, and that his bodily powers, unimpaired by sedentary habits, would have carried him on to a good old age. There is food for reflection in that idea, of how every course in life has its mixed good and evil.
In 1808 the family returned to Ireland, and in 1809 Charles Wolfe became a student of Dublin University. Here his classical learning and poetical attainments soon made him conspicuous, and he carried off prizes from the most distinguished of his competitors. The Historical Society of the University, the object of which was the cultivation of history, poetry, and oratory, also afforded him scope for the display of his talents, and gave him opportunity to win several medals and prizes. Most of the few poetical efforts of Mr. Wolfe were made at this period, including the Death of Sir John Moore, and a beautiful song, connected with which is an anecdote so strikingly characteristic of the nature of the author's mind, and so indicative of his extreme sensibility, that it is worth notice.
He was particularly open to the influence of music, and one of his favorite melodies was the popular Irish air "Gramachree," to which, at the request of a friend, he wrote the following song:
"If I had thought thou could'st have died, I might not weep for thee: But I forgot, when by thy side, That thou could'st mortal be: It never through my mind had pass'd, The time would e'er be o'er, And I on thee should look my last, And thou should'st smile no more!
"And still upon that face I look, And think 'twill smile again; And still the thought I will not brook, That I must look in vain! But when I speak thou dost not say, What thou ne'er left'st unsaid; And now I feel, as well I may, Sweet Mary! thou art dead!
"If thou would'st stay, e'en as thou art, All cold, and all serene— I still might press thy silent heart, And where thy smiles have been! While e'en thy chill, bleak corse I have, Thou seemest still mine own; But there I lay thee in thy grave— And I am now alone.
"I do not think, where'er thou art, Thou hast forgotten me; And I, perhaps, may soothe this heart, In thinking too of thee: Yet there was round thee such a dawn Of light ne'er seen before, As fancy never could have drawn, And never can restore."
His friends asked him whether he had any real incident in his mind which suggested the stanzas; he said, "he had not; but that he had sung the air over and over, till he burst into a flood of tears, in which mood he composed the words."
In the first year of Mr. Wolfe's attendance at the university, death took his mother, to whom he was most affectionately attached—an event which for some time interrupted his studies, and when he resumed them, he did not manifest much inclination to apply himself to the exact sciences. Here, however, that kindness of disposition which made him more useful to others than to himself, and induced him to neglect his own interests, and lend himself to those of his friends with an almost fatal facility, came to his aid, and stood him in good stead. The desire to assist a less gifted acquaintance impelled him to study more strenuously than he would have done, for his own benefit, and had the effect of so drawing out his own talents for scientific pursuits, that at an examination upon the severer sciences he carried away the prize from a host of talented candidates. Soon after, when his straitened circumstances induced him to become a college tutor, he found the benefit of his scientific acquirements; but in that capacity his amiability of character was a disadvantage to him, for he was so anxious for the progress of his pupils, and so prodigal of his time and labor upon them, that he had but little opportunity for his own studies, or for relaxation.
After the usual period at the university, Mr. Wolfe took a scholarship, with the highest honors, and went into residence, and in 1814 he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts. His friends, seeing the talents he evinced for scientific pursuits, urged him to read for a fellowship, and for some time he prosecuted his studies with marked effect; but the want of the power of continuous application, and intense concentration, made him the sport of every trifling interruption, and the habit he had of throwing aside books partly read, and dwelling upon striking passages and disputable theories, impeded his progress. It is probable, however, that with his great mental facilities, a less amount of exertion would have sufficed than with less gifted students, and that despite his want of industrial energy, and his unfavorable habits of mind, he would have succeeded, but he was doomed to be disappointed in a manner which must have had a very depressing effect on a mind constituted as his was. He had formed an intimacy with a family in the vicinity of Dublin, and while his visits to the beautiful scenery in which their dwelling was situated, stimulated his poetical faculties, the charms of a daughter of the house touched the sensitive heart of the young scholar. The attachment was mutual, and ripened apace, but his want of "prospects" induced the prudent parents to break off the intimacy. The expectant fellowship indeed would have afforded him sufficient means, but a barbarous statute was in force which imposed celibacy upon the fellows, and barred his hopes. If this disappointment had happened to a man of strong resolute will it would, in all likelihood, after the first shock was over, have thrown him back upon his studies more determinedly than ever, but on a nature like that of our hero, it had the contrary effect. It damped his ardor, he lost both his mistress and the chance of preferment; and, turning to religion for consolation, he was ordained in November, 1817, and shortly after was engaged in temporary duty in the North of Ireland, and finally settled as curate of Donoughmore, where he continued the greater part of the remainder of his life.
For the occupation of the ministry, Mr. Wolfe, notwithstanding his youthful military tendency and love of society, was eminently fitted. His mind was naturally of a devotional cast, and fitted peculiarly for his new position. He was thoroughly in earnest—the strong impulse supplied by intense devotional feeling served to counteract his want of application. The kindness of his heart, and the desire to serve others, which was so prominent a feature of his mind, made him untiring; the dislike of contest which marked him led him to dwell on the vital points common to all religions, and avoid controversial ground. That want of self-esteem, too, which at the university had ever made him distrustful of his own powers, and kept him from claiming the stanzas on Sir John Moore, when they were claimed by, or attributed to others, induced him to converse familiarly with the peasant, and to submit to contradiction and even insult from those who, both socially and intellectually, were inferior to himself. Add to this, that he thoroughly understood the Irish character, which had many points in common with his own impulsive versatile nature, and it may be conceived how influential he was in his remote curacy. Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, all gathered round him and often filled his little church, listening to his concise, plain-spoken sermons, which far oftener treated of the hopes and mercies than the terrors and punishments of Christianity, and in his parish school the children of all denominations were taught together. This, however, was not to last long. He had applied himself too assiduously to his task for his physical strength. Oppressed with a sense of the responsibility of his position he had, upon entering upon the ministry, given up all thoughts of literature. He lived in an old, half-furnished house, slept in a damp room, and traversed bog and moor on foot in all weathers to visit his flock. Under these labors the latent tendency of his constitution developed itself, his cough became day by day more violent, and in 1821 it was evident that consumption had laid its hand upon its prey. Still he was unwilling to retire from his ministry, and it was only in compliance with the reiterated entreaties of his friends that he at last proceeded to Scotland to consult a celebrated physician. His return to his parish after that short absence proved the estimation in which he was held among the people. As he rode by the cabins of the peasantry, the occupants rushed out, and, with all the impulsive devotion of the Irish toward those whom they regard as benefactors, fell upon their knees, and invoked blessings upon him, and pursued the carriage in which he rode, with fervent prayers. His health, however, still continued to fail, and his friends at length persuaded him to remove to Dublin, where he continued to preach occasionally, till his physician forbade such effort, and to use his own words, "stripped him of his gown." Toward the winter of 1821, it was thought advisable to remove him to Bordeaux for a time, but adverse gales twice drove him back to Holyhead, and he suffered so much from fatigue and sea-sickness that it appeared best to locate him near Exeter, where he staid till the spring of 1822, in the house of a clergyman, whose practice among the poor had qualified him to act the part of a physician to the invalid. In the spring, apparently somewhat improved, he returned to Dublin, and in the summer made a short voyage to Bordeaux, where he staid about a month. He then again returned to Dublin, and from that time steadily declined. In November, 1822, accompanied by a relative and the Rev. Mr. Russell, his biographer, he removed to the Cove of Cork, but all efforts to recruit his failing strength were unavailing, and he expired there on the 21st of February, 1823, in the 32d year of his age. About a twelvemonth previous to his death, he had been preferred to the important curacy of Armagh, but he never lived to visit his new parish. All the letters written during his protracted illness prove his amiability, and the patience with which he suffered, as well as the ardor of the Christian faith on which he so confidently leaned, and few men were more sincerely mourned by a large number of devoted and admiring friends.
Charles Wolfe was one of those characters eminently fitted to make good men, but destitute of some of the qualities for what the world calls greatness. He was a high type of that class who form the cynosure of their own peculiar circles, where they are admired as much for the kindliness of their nature as the extent of their attainments, and the power and versatility of their talents. But wanting the self-esteem, the unwavering self-confidence, the perseverance and unshaken resolution which go to make up greatness, he possessed in an eminent degree those kindly sympathies, tender feelings, and that earnest devotion to the interests and wishes of his fellows, which among friends and intimates make goodness so much more lovable than greatness.
MAURICE TIERNAY, THE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE.
(Continued from Page 478.)
A REMNANT OF "FONTENOY."
There was no resisting the inquisitive curiosity of my companion. The short, dry cough, the little husky "ay," that sounded like any thing rather than assent, which followed on my replies to his questions, and, more than all, the keen, oblique glances of his shrewd gray eyes, told me that I had utterly failed in all my attempts at mystification, and that he read me through and through.
"And so," said he, at last, after a somewhat lengthy narrative of my shipwreck, "and so the Flemish sailors wear spurs?"
"Spurs! of course not; why should they?" asked I, in some astonishment.
"Well, but don't they?" asked he again.
"No such thing; it would be absurd to suppose it."
"So I thought," rejoined he; "and when I looked at yer 'honor's' boots (it was the first time he had addressed me by this title of deference), and saw the marks on the heel for spurs, I soon knew how much of a sailor you were."
"And if not a sailor, what am I, then?" asked I; for, in the loneliness of the mountain region where we walked, I could afford to throw off my disguise without risk.
"Ye'r a French officer of dragoons, and God bless ye; but ye'r young to be at the trade. Arn't I right now?"
"Not very far from it certainly, for I am a lieutenant of hussars," said I, with a little of that pride which we of the loose pelisse always feel on the mention of our corps.
"I knew it well all along," said he, coolly; "the way you stood in the room, your step as you walked, and, above all, how ye believed me when I spoke of the spring tides, and the moon only in her second quarter, I saw you never was a sailor anyhow. And so I set a-thinking what you were. You were too silent for a peddler, and your hands were too white to be in the smuggling trade; but when I saw your boots, I had the secret at once, and knew ye were one of the French army that landed the other day at Killala."
"It was stupid enough of me not to have remembered the boots!" said I, laughing.
"Arrah, what use would it be?" replied he; "sure ye'r too straight in the back, and your walk is too reg'lar, and your toes turns in too much, for a sailor; the very way you hould a switch in your hand would betray you!"
"So it seems; then I must try some other disguise," said I, "if I'm to keep company with people as shrewd as you are."
"You needn't," said he, shaking his head, doubtfully; "any that wants to betray ye, wouldn't find it hard."
I was not much flattered by the depreciating tone in which he dismissed my efforts at personation, and walked on for some time without speaking.
"Yez came too late, four months too late," said he, with a sorrowful gesture of the hands. "When the Wexford boys was up, and the Kildare chaps, and plenty more ready to come in from the North, then, indeed, a few thousand French down here in the West would have made a differ; but what's the good in it now? The best men we had are hanged, or in jail; some are frightened; more are traitors! 'Tis too late—too late!"
"But not too late for a large force, landing in the North, to rouse the island to another effort for liberty."
"Who would be the gin'ral?" asked he, suddenly.
"Napper Tandy, your own countryman," replied I, proudly.
"I wish ye luck of him!" said he, with a bitter laugh; "'tis more like mocking us than any thing else the French does be, with the chaps they sent here to be gin'rals. Sure it isn't Napper Tandy, nor a set of young lawyers, like Tone and the rest of them, we wanted. It was men that knew how to drill and manage troops—fellows that was used to fightin'; so that when they said a thing, we might believe that they understhood it, at laste. I'm ould enough to remimber the 'Wild Geese,' as they used to call them—the fellows that ran away from this to take sarvice in France; and I remimber, too, the sort of men the French were that came over to inspect them—soldiers, real soldiers, every inch of them: and a fine sarvice it was. Volle-face!" cried he, holding himself erect, and shouldering his stick like a musket; "marche! Ha, ha! ye didn't think that was in me; but I was at the thrade long before you were born."
"How is this," said I, in amazement, "you were not in the French army?"
"Wasn't I, though? maybe I didn't get that stick there." And he bared his breast as he spoke, to show the cicatrix of an old flesh-wound from a Highlander's bayonet. "I was at Fontenoy!"
The last few words he uttered, with a triumphant pride, that I shall never forget. As for me, the mere name was magical. "Fontenoy" was like one of those great words which light up a whole page of history; and it almost seemed impossible that I should see before me a soldier of that glorious battle.
"Ay, faith!" he added, "'tis more than fifty, 'tis nigh sixty years now since that, and I remember it as if it was yesterday. I was in the regiment 'Tourville;' I was recruited for the 'Wellon,' but they scattered us about among the other corps afterward, because we used now and then to be fighting and quarrelin' among one an' other. Well, it was the Wellons that gained the battle; for after the English was in the village of Fontenoy, and the French was falling back upon the heights near the wood—arrah, what's the name of the wood?—sure I'll forget my own name next. Ay, to be sure, Verzon—the 'wood of Verzon.' Major Jodillon—that's what the French called him, but his name was Joe Wellon—turned an eight-pounder short round into a little yard of a farm-house, and, making a breach for the gun, he opened a dreadful fire on the English column. It was loaded with grape, and at half-musket range, so you may think what a peppering they got. At last the column halted, and lay down; and Joe seen an officer ride off to the rear, to bring up artillery to silence our guns. A few minutes more, and it would be all over with us. So Joe shouts out as loud as he could, 'Cavalry there! tell off by threes, and prepare to charge!' I needn't tell you that the devil a horse nor a rider was within a mile of us at the time; but the English didn't know that; and, hearin' the order, up they jumps, and we heerd the word passin', 'Prepare to receive cavalry!' They formed square at once, and the same minute we plumped into them with such a charge as tore a lane right through the middle of them. Before they could recover, we opened a platoon fire on their flank; they staggered, broke, and at last fell back in disorder upon Aeth, with the whole of the French army after them. Such firin'—grape, round-shot, and musketry—I never seed afore, and we all shouting like divils, for it was more like a hunt nor any thing else; for ye see the Dutch never came up, but left the English to do all the work themselves, and that's the reason they couldn't form, for they had no supportin' colum'.
"It was then I got that stick of the bayonet, for there was such runnin' that we only thought of pelting after them as hard as we could; but ye see, there's nothin' so treacherous as a Highlander. I was just behind one, and had my sword-point between his blade-hones, ready to run him through, when he turned short about, and run his bayonet into me under the short ribs, and that was all I saw of the battle; for I bled till I fainted, and never knew more of what happened. 'Tisn't by way of making little of Frenchmen I say it, for I sarved too long wid them for that—but sorra taste of that victory ever they'd see if it wasn't for the Wellons, and Major Joe that commanded them! The English knows it well, too! Maybe they don't do us many a spite for it to this very day!"
"And what became of you after that?"
"The same summer I came over to Scotland with the young Prince Charles, and was at the battle of Preston-pans afterward; and, what's worse, I was at Culloden! Oh, that was the terrible day! We were dead bate before we began the battle. We were on the march from one o'clock the night before, under the most dreadful rain ever ye seen! We lost our way twice; and, after four hours of hard marching, we found ourselves opposite a mill-dam we crossed early that same morning; for the guides led us all astray! Then came ordhers to wheel about face, and go back again; and back we went, cursing the blaguards that deceived us, and almost faintin' with hunger. Some of us had nothing to eat for two days, and the Prince, I seen myself, had only a brown bannock to a wooden measure of whiskey for his own breakfast. Well, it's no use talking, we were bate, and we retreated to Inverness that night, and next morning we surrendered and laid down our arms—that is, the 'Regiment du Tournay,' and the 'Voltigeurs de Metz,' the corps I was in myself."
"And did you return to France?"
"No; I made my way back to Ireland, and after loiterin' about home some time, and not liking the ways of turning to work again, I took sarvice with one Mister Brooke, of Castle Brooke, in Fermanagh, a young man that was just come of age, and as great a devil, God forgive me, as ever was spawned. He was a Protestant, but he didn't care much about one side or the other, but only wanted divarsion and his own fun out of the world; and faix he took it, too! He had plenty of money, was a fine man to look at, and had courage to face a lion!
"The first place we went to was Aix-la-Chapelle, for Mr. Brooke was named something—I forget what—to Lord Sandwich, that was going there as an embassador. It was a grand life there while it lasted. Such liveries, such coaches, such elegant dinners every day, I never saw even in Paris. But my master was soon sent away for a piece of wildness he did. There was an ould Austrian there—a Count Riedensegg was his name—and he was always plottin' and schamin' with this, that, and the other; buyin' up the sacrets of others, and gettin' at their sacret papers one way or the other; and at last he begins to thry the same game with us; and as he saw that Mr. Brooke was very fond of high play, and would bet any thing one offered him, the ould Count sends for a great gambler from Vienna, the greatest villain, they say, that ever touched a card. Ye may have heerd of him, tho' 'twas long ago that he lived, for he was well known in them times. He was the Baron von Breckendorf, and a great friend afterward of the Prince Ragint and all the other blaguards in London.
"Well, sir, the baron arrives in great state, with dispatches, they said, but sorrow other dispatch he carried nor some packs of marked cards, and a dice-box that could throw sixes whenever ye wanted; and he puts up at the Grand Hotel, with all his servants in fine liveries, and as much state as a prince. That very day Mr. Brooke dined with the count, and in the evening himself and the baron sits down to the cards; and, pretending to be only playin' for silver, they were betting a hundred guineas on every game.
"I always heerd that my master was cute with the cards, and that few was equal to him in any game with pasteboard or ivory; but, be my conscience, he met his match now, for if it was ould Nick was playin' he couldn't do the thrick nater nor the baron. He made every thing come up just like magic: if he wanted a seven of diamonds, or an ace of spades, or the knave of clubs, there it was for you.
"Most gentlemen would have lost temper at seein' the luck so dead agin' them, and every thing goin' so bad, but my master only smiled, and kept muttering to himself, 'Faix, it's beautiful; by my conscience it is elegant; I never saw any body could do it like that.' At last the baron stops and asks, 'What is it he's saying to himself?' 'I'll tell you by-and-by,' says my master, 'when we're done playing;' and so on they went, betting higher and higher, till at last the stakes wasn't very far from a thousand pounds on a single card. At the end, Mr. Brooke lost every thing, and in the last game, by way of generosity, the baron says to him, 'Double or quit?' and he tuk it.
"This time luck stood to my master, and he turned the queen of hearts; and as there was only one card could beat him, the game was all as one as his own. The baron takes up the pack, and begins to deal, 'Wait,' says my master, leaning over the table, and talking in a whisper; 'wait,' says he, 'what are ye doin' there wid your thumb?' for sure enough he had his thumb dug hard into the middle of the pack.
"'Do you mane to insult me,' says the baron, getting mighty red, and throwing down the cards on the table, 'Is that what you're at?'
"'Go on with the deal,' says Mr. Brooke, quietly; 'but listen to me,' and here he dropped his voice to a whisper, 'as sure as you turn the king of hearts I'll send a bullet through your skull! Go on now, and don't rise from that seat till you've finished the game.' Faix, he just did as he was bid; he turned a little two or three of diamonds, and gettin' up from the table, he left the room, and the next morning there was no more seen of him in Aix-la-Chapelle. But that wasn't the end of it, for scarce was the baron two posts on his journey, when my master sends in his name, and says he wants to speak to Count Riedensegg. There was a long time, and a great debatin', I believe, whether they'd let him in or not; for the count couldn't make if it was mischief he was after; but at last he was ushered into the bedroom where the other was in bed.
"'Count,' says he, after he fastened the door, and saw that they was alone, 'Count, you tried a dirty thrick with that dirty spalpeen of a baron—an ould blaguard that's as well known as Freney, the robber—but I forgive you for it all, for you did it in the way of business. I know well what you was afther; you wanted a peep at our dispatches—there, ye needn't look cross and angry—why wouldn't ye do it, just as the baron always took a sly glance at my cards before he played his own. Well, now, I'm just in the humor to sarve you. They're not trating me as they ought here, and I'm going away, and if you'll give me a few letthers to some of the pretty women in Vienna, Kateuka Batthyani, and Amalia Gradoffsky, and one or two men in the best set, I'll send you in return something will surprise you.'
"It was after a long time and great batin' about the bush, that the ould count came in; but the sight of a sacret cipher did the business, and he consented.
"'There it is,' says Mr. Brooke, 'there's the whole key to our correspondence, study it well, and I'll bring you a sacret dispatch in the evening—something that will surprise you.'
"'Ye will—will ye?' says the count.
"'On the honor of an Irish gentleman, I will,' says Mr. Brooke.
"The count sits down on the spot and writes the letters to all the princesses and countesses in Vienna, saying that Mr. Brooke was the elegantest, and politest, and most trusty young gentleman ever he met; and telling them to treat him with every consideration.
"'There will be another account of me,' says the master to me, 'by the post; but I'll travel faster, and give me a fair start, and I ask no more.'
"And he was as good as his word, for he started that evening for Vienna, without lave or license, and that's the way he got dismissed from his situation."
"And did he break his promise to the count, or did he really send him any intelligence?"
"He kept his word like a gentleman; he promised him something that would surprise him, and so he did. He sent him the weddin' of Ballyporeen in cipher. It took a week to make out, and I suppose they've never got to the right understandin' it yet."
"I'm curious to hear how he was received in Vienna after this," said I. "I suppose you accompanied him to that city."
"Troth I did, and a short life we led there; but here we are now, at the end of our journey. That's Father Doogan's down there, that small, low, thatched house in the hollow."
"A lonely spot, too. I don't see another near it for miles on any side."
"Nor is there. His chapel is at Murrah, about three miles off. My eyes isn't over good; but I don't think there's any smoke coming out of the chimley."
"You are right—there is not."
"He's not at home, then, and that's a bad job for us, for there's not another place to stop the night in."
"But there will be surely some one in the house."
"Most likely not; 'tis a brat of a boy from Murrah does be with him when he's at home, and I'm sure he's not there now."
This reply was not very cheering, nor was the prospect itself much brighter. The solitary cabin, to which we were approaching, stood in a rugged glen, the sides of which were covered with a low furze, intermixed here and there with the scrub of what once had been an oak forest. A brown, mournful tint was over every thing—sky and landscape alike; and even the little stream of clear water that wound its twining course along, took the same color from the gravelly bed it flowed over. Not a cow nor sheep was to be seen, nor even a bird; all was silent and still.
"There's few would like to pass their lives down there, then!" said my companion, as if speaking to himself.
"I suppose the priest, like a soldier, has no choice in these matters."
"Sometimes he has, though. Father Doogan might have had the pick of the county, they say; but he chose this little quiet spot here. He's a friar of some ordher abroad, and when he came over, two or three years ago, he could only spake a little Irish, and, I believe, less English; but there wasn't his equal, for other tongues, in all Europe. They wanted him to stop and be the head of a college somewhere in Spain, but he wouldn't. 'There was work to do in Ireland,' he said, and there he'd go, and to the wildest and laste civilized bit of it besides; and ye see that he was not far out in his choice when he took Murrah."
"Is he much liked here by the people?"
"They'd worship him, if he'd let them, that's what it is; for if he has more larnin' and knowledge in his head than ever a bishop in Ireland, there's not a child in the barony his equal for simplicity. He that knows the names of the stars, and what they do be doing, and where the world's going, and what's comin' afther her, hasn't a thought for the wickedness of this life, no more than a sucking infant! He could tell you every crop to put in your ground from this to the day of judgment, and I don't think he'd know which end of the spade goes into the ground."
While we were thus talking, we reached the door, which, as well as the windows, was closely barred and fastened. The great padlock, however, on the former, with characteristic acuteness, was locked without being hasped, so that, in a few seconds, my old guide had undone all the fastenings, and we found ourselves under shelter.
A roomy kitchen, with a few cooking utensils, formed the entrance hall; and as a small supply of turf stood in one corner, my companion at once proceeded to make a fire, congratulating me as he went on with the fact of our being housed, for a long-threatening thunder storm had already burst, and the rain was swooping along in torrents.
While he was thus busied I took a ramble through the little cabin, curious to see something of the "interior" of one whose life had already interested me. There were but two small chambers, one at either side of the kitchen. The first I entered was a bedroom, the only furniture being a common bed, or a tressel like that of an hospital, a little colored print of St. Michael adorning the wall overhead. The bed-covering was cleanly, but patched in many places, and bespeaking much poverty, and the black "soutane" of silk that hung against the wall seemed to show long years of service. The few articles of any pretension to comfort were found in the sitting-room, where a small book-shelf with some well-thumbed volumes, and a writing-table covered with papers, maps, and a few pencil-drawings, appeared. All seemed as if he had just quitted the spot a few minutes before; the pencil lay across a half-finished sketch; two or three wild plants were laid within the leaves of a little book on botany; and a chess problem, with an open book beside it, still waited for solution on a little board, whose workmanship clearly enough betrayed it to be by his own hands.
I inspected every thing with an interest inspired by all I had been hearing of the poor priest, and turned over the little volumes of his humble library to trace, if I might, some clew to his habits in his readings. They were all, however, of one cast and character—religious tracts and offices, covered with annotations and remarks, and showing, by many signs the most careful and frequent perusal. It was easy to see that his taste for drawing or for chess were the only dissipations he permitted himself to indulge. What a strange life of privation, thought I, alone and companionless as he must be! and while speculating on the sense of duty which impelled such a man to accept a post so humble and unpromising, I perceived that on the wall right opposite to me there hung a picture, covered by a little curtain of green silk.
Curious to behold the saintly effigy so carefully enshrined, I drew aside the curtain, and what was my astonishment to find a little colored sketch of a boy about twelve years old, dressed in the tawdry and much-worn uniform of a drummer. I started. Something flashed suddenly across my mind, that the features, the dress, the air, were not unknown to me. Was I awake, or were my senses misleading me? I took it down and held it to the light, and as well as my trembling hands permitted, I spelled out, at the foot of the drawing, the words "Le Petit Maurice, as I saw him last." Yes: it was my own portrait, and the words were in the writing of my dearest friend in the world, the Pere Michael. Scarce knowing what I did, I ransacked books and papers on every side, to confirm my suspicions, and although his name was nowhere to be found, I had no difficulty in recognizing his hand, now so forcibly recalled to my memory.
Hastening into the kitchen, I told my guide, that I must set out to Murrah at once, that it was above all important that I should see the priest immediately. It was in vain that he told me he was unequal to the fatigue of going further, that the storm was increasing, the mountain torrents were swelling to a formidable size, that the path could not be discovered after dark; I could not brook the thought of delay, and would not listen to the detail of difficulties. "I must see him and I will," were my answers to every obstacle. If I were resolved on one side, he was no less obstinate on the other; and after explaining with patience all the dangers and hazards of the attempt, and still finding me unconvinced, he boldly declared that I might go alone, if I would, but that he would not leave the shelter of a roof, such a night, for any one.
There was nothing in the shape of argument I did not essay. I tried bribery, I tried menace, flattery, intimidation, all—and all with the like result. "Wherever he is to-night, he'll not leave it, that's certain," was the only satisfaction he would vouchsafe, and I retired beaten from the contest, and disheartened. Twice I left the cottage, resolved to go alone and unaccompanied, but the utter darkness of the night, the torrents of rain that beat against my face, soon showed me the impracticability of the attempt, and I retraced my steps crest-fallen and discomfited. The most intense curiosity to know how and by what chances he had come to Ireland mingled with my ardent desire to meet him. What stores of reminiscence had we to interchange! Nor was it without pride that I bethought me of the position I then held—an officer of a Hussar regiment, a soldier of more than one campaign, and high on the list for promotion. If I hoped, too, that many of the good father's prejudices against the career I followed would give way to the records of my own past life, I also felt how, in various respects, I had myself conformed to many of his notions. We should be dearer, closer friends than ever. This I knew and was sure of.
I never slept the whole night through; tired and weary as the day's journey had left me, excitement was still too strong for repose, and I walked up and down, lay for half an hour on my bed, rose to look out, and peer for coming dawn! Never did hours lag so lazily. The darkness seemed to last for an eternity, and when at last day did break, it was through the lowering gloom of skies still charged with rain, and an atmosphere loaded with vapor.
"This is a day for the chimney corner, and thankful to have it we ought to be," said my old guide, as he replenished the turf fire, at which he was preparing our breakfast. "Father Doogan will be home here afore night, I'm sure, and as we have nothing better to do, I'll tell you some of our old adventures when I lived with Mr. Brooke. 'Twill sarve to pass the time, any way."
"I'm off to Murrah, as soon as I have eaten something," replied I.
"'Tis little you know what a road it is," said he, smiling dubiously. "'Tis four mountain rivers you'd have to cross, two of them, at least, deeper than your head, and there's the pass of Barnascorny, where you'd have to turn the side of a mountain, with a precipice hundreds of feet below you, and a wind blowing that would wreck a seventy-four! There's never a man in the barony would venture over the same path, with a storm ragin' from the nor'west."
"I never heard of a man being blown away off a mountain," said I, laughing contemptuously.
"Arrah, didn't ye then? then maybe ye never tried in parts where the heaviest plows and harrows that can be laid in the thatch of a cabin are flung here and there, like straws, and the strongest timbers torn out of the walls, and scattered for miles along the coast, like the spars of a shipwreck."
"But so long as a man has hands to grip with."
"How ye talk; sure when the wind can tear the strongest trees up by the roots; when it rolls big rocks fifty and a hundred feet out of their place; when the very shingle on the mountain side is flyin' about like dust and sand, where would your grip be? It is not only on the mountains either, but down in the plains, ay, even in the narrowest glens, that the cattle lies down under shelter of the rocks; and many's the time a sheep, or even a heifer, is swept away off the cliffs into the sea."
With many an anecdote of storm and hurricane he seasoned our little meal of potatoes. Some curious enough, as illustrating the precautionary habits of a peasantry, who, on land, experience many of the vicissitudes supposed peculiar to the sea; others too miraculous for easy credence, but yet vouched for by him with every affirmative of truth. He displayed all his powers of agreeability and amusement, but his tales fell on unwilling ears, and when our meal was over I started up and began to prepare for the road.
"So you will go, will you?" said he, peevishly. "'Tis in your country to be obstinate, so I'll say nothing more; but maybe 'tis only into throubles you'd be running after all!"
"I'm determined on it," said I, "and I only ask you to tell me what road to take."
"There is only one, so there is no mistakin' it; keep to the sheep path, and never leave it except at the torrents; you must pass them how ye can, and when ye come to four big rocks in the plain leave them to your left, and keep the side of the mountain for two miles, 'till ye see the smoke of the village underneath you. Murrah is a small place, and ye'll have to look out sharp or maybe ye'll miss it."
"That's enough," said I, putting some silver in his hand as I pressed it. "We'll probably meet no more; good-by, and many thanks for your pleasant company."
"No, we're not like to meet again," said he, thoughtfully, "and that's the reason I'd like to give you a bit of advice. Hear me now," said he, drawing closer and talking in a whisper; "you can't go far in this country without being known; 'tisn't your looks alone, but your voice, and your tongue, will show what ye are. Get away out of it as fast as you can! there's thraitors in every cause, and there's chaps in Ireland would rather make money as informers than earn it by honest industry! Get over to the Scotch islands; get to Isla or Barra; get any where out of this for the time."
"Thanks for the counsel," said I, somewhat coldly, "I'll have time to think over it as I go along," and with these words I set forth on my journey.
I will not weary my reader with a narrative of my mountain walk, nor the dangers and difficulties which beset me on that day of storm and hurricane. Few as were the miles to travel, what with accidents, mistakes of the path, and the halts to take shelter, I only reached Murrah as the day was declining.
The little village, which consisted of some twenty cabins, occupied a narrow gorge between two mountains, and presented an aspect of greater misery than I had ever witnessed before, not affording even the humblest specimen of a house of entertainment. From some peasants that were lounging in the street I learned that "Father Doogan" had passed through two days before in company with a naval officer, whom they believed to be French. At least, "he came from one of the ships in the Lough, and could speak no English." Since that the priest had not returned, and many thought that he had gone away forever. This story, varied in a few unimportant particulars, I heard from several; and also learned that a squadron of several sail had, for three or four days, been lying at the entrance of Lough Swilly, with, it was said, large reinforcements for the "army of independence." There was then no time to be lost: here was the very force which I had been sent to communicate with; there were the troops that should at that moment be disembarking. The success of my mission might all depend now on a little extra exertion, and so I at once engaged a guide to conduct me to the coast, and having fortified myself with a glass of mountain whiskey, I felt ready for the road. My guide could only speak a very little English; so that our way was passed in almost unbroken silence; and, as for security, he followed the least frequented paths, we scarcely met a living creature as we went. It was with a strange sense of half pride, half despondency, that I bethought me of my own position there—a Frenchman, alone, and separated from his countrymen—in a wild mountain region of Ireland, carrying about him documents that, if detected, might peril his life; involved in a cause that had for its object the independence of a nation; and that against the power of the mightiest kingdom in Europe. An hour earlier or later, an accident by the way, a swollen torrent, a chance impediment of any kind that should delay me—and what a change might that produce in the whole destiny of the world. The dispatches I carried conveyed instructions the most precise and accurate—the places for combined action of the two armies—information as to the actual state of parties, and the condition of the native forces, was contained in them. All that could instruct the newly-come generals, or encourage them to decisive measures were there; and, yet, on what narrow contingencies did their safe arrival depend! It was thus, in exaggerating to myself the part I played—in elevating my humble position into all the importance of a high trust—that I sustained my drooping spirits, and acquired energy to carry me through fatigue and exhaustion. During that night, and the greater part of the following day, we walked on, almost without halt, scarcely eating, and, except by an occasional glass of whisky, totally unrefreshed; and I am free to own, that my poor guide—a bare-legged youth of about seventeen, without any of those high-sustaining illusions which stirred within my heart—suffered far less either from hunger or weariness than I did. So much for motives. A shilling or two were sufficient to equalize the balance against all the weight of my heroism and patriotic ardor together!
A bright sun, and a sharp wind from the north, had succeeded to the lowering sky and heavy atmosphere of the morning, and we traveled along with light hearts and brisk steps, breasting the side of a deep ascent, from the summit of which my guide told me, I should behold the sea—the sea, not only the great plain on which I expected to see our armament, but the link which bound me to my country! Suddenly, just as I turned the angle of a cliff, it burst upon my sight—one vast mirror of golden splendor—appearing almost at my feet! In the yellow gleams of a setting sun, long columns of azure-colored light streaked its calm surface, and tinged the atmosphere with a warm and rosy hue. While I was lost in admiration of the picture, I heard the sound of voices close beneath me, and, on looking down, saw two figures who, with telescopes in hand, were steadily gazing on a little bay that extended toward the west.
At first, my attention was more occupied by the strangers than by the object of their curiosity, and I remarked that they were dressed and equipped like sportsmen, their guns and game-bags lying against the rock behind them.
"Do you still think that they are hovering about the coast, Tom?" said the elder of the two, "or are you not convinced, at last, that I am right?"
"I believe you are," replied the other; "but it certainly did not look like it yesterday evening, with their boats rowing ashore every half hour, signals flying, and blue lights burning; all seemed to threaten a landing."
"If they ever thought of it, they soon changed their minds," said the former. "The defeat of their comrades in the west, and the apathy of the peasantry here, would have cooled down warmer ardor than theirs. There they go, Tom. I only hope that they'll fall in with Warren's squadron, and French insolence receive at sea the lesson we failed to give them on land."
"Not so," rejoined the younger; "Humbert's capitulation, and the total break-up of the expedition ought to satisfy even your patriotism."
"It fell far short of it, then!" cried the other. "I'd never have treated those fellows other than as bandits and freebooters. I'd have hanged them as highwaymen. There was less war than rapine; but what could you expect? I have been assured that Humbert's force consisted of little other than liberated felons and galley slaves—the refuse of the worst population of Europe!"
Distracted with the terrible tidings I had overheard—overwhelmed with the sight of the ships, now glistening like bright specks on the verge of the horizon, I forgot my own position—my safety—every thing but the insult thus cast upon my gallant comrades.
"Whoever said so was a liar, and a base coward, to boot!" cried I, springing down from the height and confronting them both where they stood. They started back, and, seizing their guns, assumed an attitude of defense, and then, quickly perceiving that I was alone—for the boy had taken to flight as fast as he could—they stood regarding me with faces of intense astonishment.
"Yes," said I, still boiling with passion, "you are two to one, on your own soil besides, the odds you are best used to; and yet I repeat it, that he who asperses the character of General Humbert's force is a liar."
"No, he's Irish," muttered the elder. "What signifies my country, sirs," cried I passionately, "if I demand retraction for a falsehood."
"It signifies more than you think of, young man," said the elder, calmly, and without evincing even the slightest irritation in his manner. "If you be a Frenchman born, the lenity of our government accords you the privilege of a prisoner of war. If you be only French by adoption, and a uniform, a harsher destiny awaits you."
"And who says I am a prisoner yet?" asked I, drawing myself up, and staring them steadily in the face.
"We should be worse men, and poorer patriots, than you give us credit for, or we should be able to make you so," said he quietly, "but this is no case for ill-temper on either side. The expedition has failed. Well, if you will not believe me, read that. There, in that paper, you will see the official account of General Humbert's surrender at Boyle. The news is already over the length and breadth of the island; even if you only landed last night, I can not conceive how you should be ignorant of it!" I covered my face with my hands to hide my emotion; and he went on: "If you be French, you have only to claim and prove your nationality, and you partake the fortunes of your countrymen."
"And if he be not," whispered the other, in a voice which, although low, I could still detect, "why should we, give him up?"
"Hush, Tom, be quiet," replied the elder, "let him plead for himself."
"Let me see the newspaper," said I, endeavoring to seem calm and collected; and taking it at the place he pointed out, I read the heading in capitals, "CAPITULATION OF GENERAL HUMBERT AND HIS WHOLE FORCE." I could see no more. I could not trace the details of so horrible a disaster, nor did I ask to know by what means it occurred. My attitude and air of apparent occupation, however, deceived the other; and the elder, supposing that I was engaged in considering the paragraph, said, "You'll see the government proclamation on the other side, a general amnesty to all under the rank of officers in the rebel army, who give up their arms within six days. The French to be treated as prisoners of war."
"Is he too late to regain the fleet," whispered the younger.
"Of course he is. They are already hull down; besides, who's to assist his escape, Tom? You forget the position he stands in."
"But I do not forget it," answered I, "and you need not be afraid that I will seek to compromise you, gentlemen. Tell me where to find the nearest justice of the peace, and I will go and surrender myself."
"It is your wisest and best policy," said the elder; "I am not in the commission, but a neighbor of mine is, and lives a few miles off, and if you like we'll accompany you to his house."
I accepted the offer, and soon found myself descending the steep path of the mountain in perfect good-fellowship with the two strangers. It is likely enough, that if they had taken any peculiar pains to obliterate the memory of our first meeting, or if they had displayed any extraordinary efforts of conciliation, that I should be on my guard against them; but their manner, on the contrary, was easy and unaffected in every respect. They spoke of the expedition sensibly and dispassionately, and while acknowledging that there were many things they would like to see altered in the English rule of Ireland, they were very averse from the desire of a foreign intervention to rectify them.
I avowed to them that we had been grossly deceived. That all the representations made us, depicted Ireland as a nation of soldiers, wanting only arms and military stores to rise as a vast army. That the peasantry were animated by one spirit, and the majority of the gentry willing to hazard every thing on the issue of a struggle. Our Killala experiences, of which I detailed some, heartily amused them, and it was in a merry interchange of opinions that we now walked along together.
A cluster of houses, too small to be called a village, and known as the "Cranagh," stood in a little nook of the bay; and here they lived. They were brothers; and the elder held some small appointment in the revenue, which maintained them as bachelors in this cheap country. In a low conversation that passed between them, it was agreed that they would detain me as their guest for that evening, and on the morrow accompany me to the magistrate's house, about five miles distant. I was not sorry to accept their hospitable offer. I longed for a few hours of rest and respite before embarking on another sea of troubles. The failure of the expedition, and the departure of the fleet, had overwhelmed me with grief, and I was in no mood to confront new perils.
If my new acquaintances could have read my inmost thoughts, their manner toward me could not have displayed more kindness or good-breeding. Not pressing me with questions on subjects where the greatest curiosity would have been permissible, they suffered me to tell only so much as I wished of our late plans; and as if purposely to withdraw my thoughts from the unhappy theme of our defeat, led me to talk of France, and her career in Europe.
It was not without surprise that I saw how conversant the newspapers had made them with European politics, nor how widely different did events appear, when viewed from afar off, and by the lights of another and different nationality Thus all that we were doing on the Continent to propagate liberal notions, and promote the spread of freedom, seemed to their eyes but the efforts of an ambitious power to crush abroad what they had annihilated at home, and extend their own influence in disseminating doctrines, all to revert, one day or other, to some grand despotism, whenever the man arose capable to exercise it. The elder would not even concede to us that we were fit for freedom.
"You are glorious fellows at destroying an old edifice," said he; "but sorry architects when comes the question of rebuilding; and as to liberty, your highest notion of it is an occasional anarchy. Like school-boys, you will bear any tyranny for ten years, to have ten days of a 'barring out' afterward."
I was not much flattered by these opinions; and what was worse, I could not get them out of my head all night afterward. Many things I had never doubted about now kept puzzling and confounding me, and I began, for the first time, to know the misery of the struggle between implicit obedience and conviction.
SOME NEW ACQUAINTANCES.
I went to bed at night in all apparent health; save from the flurry and excitement of an anxious mind, I was in no respect different from my usual mood; and yet when I awoke next morning, my head was distracted with a racking pain, cramps were in all my limbs, and I could not turn or even move without intense suffering. The long exposure to rain, while my mind was in a condition of extreme excitement, had brought on an attack of fever, and before evening set in, I was raving in wild delirium. Every scene I had passed through, each eventful incident of my life, came flashing in disjointed portions through my poor brain; and I raved away of France, of Germany, of the dreadful days of terror, and the fearful orgies of the "Revolution." Scenes of strife and struggle—the terrible conflicts of the streets—all rose before me; and the names of every blood-stained hero of France now mingled with the obscure titles of Irish insurrection.