Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 11
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Facsimile from an Edict of King Rotharis, A.D. 643.


LXX If anybody of another the great toe from the foot severs, he pays solidi sixteen. LXXI If the second toe from the foot he severs, he pays solidi six. LXXII If the third toe he severs, he pays solidi three. LXXIII If the fourth toe he severs, he pays solidi three. LXXIIII If the fifth toe he severs, he pays solidi two. LXXV Upon all these damages or injuries, above described, which among men exempt occurred, therefore, a heavier punishment, have we placed than our ancestors, that the Faida (feud, vendetta), that is, the hatred, after the receiving the above described (ssta—suprascripta) punishment, may cease, and, moreover, not be required, nor craftiness








Connoisseur Edition




CRAWFORD H. TOY, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Hebrew, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Cambridge, Mass.

THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY, LL.D., L.H.D., Professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School of YALE UNIVERSITY, New Haven, Conn.

WILLIAM M. SLOANE, PH.D., L.H.D., Professor of History and Political Science, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, Princeton, N. J.

BRANDER MATTHEWS, A.M., LL.B., Professor of Literature, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, New York City.

JAMES B. ANGELL, LL.D., President of the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, Ann Arbor, Mich.

WILLARD FISKE, A.M., PH.D., Late Professor of the Germanic and Scandinavian Languages and Literatures, CORNELL UNIVERSITY, Ithaca, N.Y.

EDWARD S. HOLDEN, A.M., LL.D., Director of the Lick Observatory, and Astronomer, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Berkeley, Cal.

ALCEE FORTIER, LIT.D., Professor of the Romance Languages, TULANE UNIVERSITY, New Orleans, La.

WILLIAM P. TRENT, M.A., Dean of the Department of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and History, UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH, Sewanee, Tenn.

PAUL SHOREY, PH.D., Professor of Greek and Latin Literature, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, Chicago, Ill.

WILLIAM T. HARRIS, LL.D., United States Commissioner of Education, BUREAU OF EDUCATION, Washington, D.C.

MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN, A.M., LL.D., Professor of Literature in the CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA, Washington, D.C.



LIVED PAGE RICHARD HENRY DANA, SENIOR 1787-1879 4285 The Island ('The Buccaneer') The Doom of Lee (same) Paul and Abel ('Paul Felton')

RICHARD HENRY DANA, JUNIOR 1815-1882 4302 A Dry Gale ('Two Years Before the Mast') Every-Day Sea Life (same) A Start; and Parting Company (same)

DANTE 1265-1321 4315


From 'The New Life': Beginning of Love; First Salutation of His Lady; Praise of His Lady; Her Loveliness; Her Death; The Anniversary of Her Death; The Hope to Speak More Worthily of Her

From the 'Banquet': Consolation of Philosophy; Desire of the Soul; The Noble Soul at the End of Life

From the 'Divine Comedy': Hell—Entrance on the Journey Through the Eternal World; Hell—Punishment of Carnal Sinners; Purgatory—The Final Purgation; Purgatory—Meeting with His Lady in the Earthly Paradise; Paradise—The Final Vision

JAMES DARMESTETER 1849-1894 4379 Ernest Renan ('Selected Essays') Judaism (same)



Impressions of Travel ('A Naturalist's Voyage') Genesis of 'The Origin of Species' ('Life and Letters') Curious Atrophy of AEsthetic Taste (same) Private Memorandum concerning His Little Daughter (same) Religious Views (same) Letters: To Miss Julia Wedgwood; To J.D. Hooker; To T.H. Huxley; To E. Ray Lankester; To J.D. Hooker The Struggle for Existence ('Origin of Species') Geometrical Ratio of Increase (same) Of the Nature of the Checks to Increase (same) Complex Relations of All Animals and Plants to Each Other in the Struggle for Existence (same) Of Natural Selection: or the Survival of the Fittest (same) Progressive Change Compared with Independent Creation (same) Creative Design ('Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication') Origin of the Human Species ('The Descent of Man')



The Two Tartarins ('Tartarin of Tarascon') Of "Mental Mirage," as Distinguished from Lying (same) Death of the Dauphin ('Letters from My Windmill') Jack Is Invited to Take Up a "Profession" ('Jack') The City of Iron and Fire (same) The Wrath of a Queen ('Kings in Exile')

MADAME DU DEFFAND (Marie de Vichy-Chamrond) 1697-1780 4471

Letters: To the Duchesse de Choiseul; To Mr. Crawford; To Horace Walpole Portrait of Horace Walpole

DANIEL DEFOE 1661-1731 4479


From 'Robinson Crusoe': Crusoe's Shipwreck; Crusoe Makes a New Home; A Footprint

From 'History of the Plague in London': Superstitious Fears of the People; How Quacks and Impositors Preyed on the Fears of the People; The People Are Quarantined in Their Houses; Moral Effects of the Plague; Terrible Scenes in the Streets; The Plague Due to Natural Causes; Spread of the Plague through Necessities of the Poor

From 'Colonel Jack': Colonel Jack and Captain Jack Escape Arrest; Colonel Jack Finds Captain Jack Hard to Manage; Colonel Jack's First Wife Is Not Disposed to be Economical

The Devil Does Not Concern Himself with Petty Matters ('The Modern History of the Devil')

Defoe Addresses His Public ('An Appeal to Honor and Justice')

Engaging a Maid-Servant ('Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business')

The Devil ('The True-Born Englishman')

There Is a God ('The Storm')


Multatuli's Last Words to the Reader ('Max Havelaar') Idyll of Saidjah and Adinda (same)

THOMAS DEKKER 1570?-1637? 4521

From 'The Gul's Horne Booke': How a Gallant Should Behave Himself in Powles Walk; Sleep Praise of Fortune ('Old Fortunatus') Content ('Patient Grissil') Rustic Song ('The Sun's Darling') Lullaby ('Patient Grissil')



Confession of Louis XI.

DEMOSTHENES 384-322 B.C. 4535


The Third Philippic Invective Against License of Speech Justification of His Patriotic Policy

THOMAS DE QUINCEY 1785-1859 4555


Charles Lamb ('Biographical Essays') Despair ('Confessions of an English Opium-Eater') The Dead Sister (same) Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow (same) Savannah-La-Mar (same) The Bishop of Beauvais and Joan of Arc ('Miscellaneous Essays')


The Harvest ('Chants du Paysan') In Good Quarters ('Poemes Militaires') "Good Fighting" (same) Last Wishes (same)

RENE DESCARTES 1596-1650 4585

Of Certain Principles of Elementary Logical Thought ('Discourse on Method') An Elementary Method of Inquiry (same) The Idea of God ('Meditations')



The Present Duty Conversion of the Church Two Impressions ('Notes Contemporaines')

SIR AUBREY DE VERE 1788-1846 4609

The Crusaders The Children Band ('The Crusaders') The Rock of Cashel The Right Use of Prayer The Church Sonnet


From the 'True History of the Conquest of Mexico': Capture of Guatimotzin; Mortality at the Conquest of Mexico; Cortes; Of Divine Aid in the Battle of Santa Maria de la Vitoria; Cortes Destroys Certain Idols

CHARLES DIBDIN 1745-1814 4620

Sea Song Poor Jack Song: The Heart of a Tar Tom Bowling

CHARLES DICKENS 1812-1870 4625


The One Thing Needful ('Hard Times') The Boy at Mugby ('Mugby Junction') Burning of Newgate ('Barnaby Rudge') Monseigneur ('A Tale of Two Cities') The Ivy Green



PAGE The Oldest Lombardic Manuscript (Colored Plate) Frontispiece Dante Alighieri (Portrait) 4316 Charles Robert Darwin (Portrait) 4386 "The Ape-Man" (Photogravure) 4398 Alphonse Daudet (Portrait) 4436 Daniel Defoe (Portrait) 4480 "Robinson Crusoe" (Facsimile) 4486 Demosthenes (Portrait) 4536 Thomas De Quincey (Portrait) 4556 Rene Descartes (Portrait) 4586 Charles Dickens (Portrait) 4626 "Gadshill" (Photogravure) 4634


Richard Henry Dana Richard Henry Dana, Jr. Madame du Deffand Jean F. C. Delavigne Paul Deroulede Sir Aubrey De Vere Charles Dibdin



Richard Henry Dana the elder, although he died less than twenty years ago, belonged to the first generation of American writers; he was born in 1787, in Cambridge, four years after Washington Irving. He came of a distinguished and scholarly family: his father had been minister to Russia during the Revolution, and was afterwards Chief Justice of Massachusetts; through his mother he was descended from Anne Bradstreet. At the age of ten he went to Newport to live with his maternal grandfather, William Ellery, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and remained until he entered Harvard. The wild rock-bound coast scenery impressed him deeply, and ever after the sea was one of his ruling passions. Only one familiar with all the moods of the ocean could have written 'The Buccaneer'. After quitting college he studied law, and was admitted to the Boston bar. Literature however proved the stronger attraction, and in 1818 he left his profession to assist in conducting the then newly founded North American Review. The critical papers he contributed to it startled the conservative literary circles by their audacity in defending the new movement in English poetry, and passing lightly by their idol Pope. Indeed, his unpopularity debarred him from succeeding the first editor. He withdrew, and began the publication of The Idle Man in numbers, modeled on Salmagundi and the Sketch-Book. His contributions consisted of critical papers and his novelettes 'Paul Felton,' 'Tom Thornton,' and 'Edward and Mary.' Not finding many readers, he discontinued it after the first volume. He then contributed for some years to the New York Review, conducted by William Cullen Bryant, and to the United States Review. In 1827 appeared 'The Buccaneer and Other Poems'; in 1833 the same volume was enlarged and the contributions to The Idle Man were added, under the title 'Poems and Prose Writings.' Seventeen years later he closed his literary career by publishing the complete edition of his 'Poems and Prose Writings,' in two volumes, not having materially added either to his verse or fiction. After that time he lived in retirement, spending his summers in his seaside home by the rocks and breakers of Cape Ann, and the winters in Boston. He died in 1879.

Dana's literary activity falls within the first third of this century. During that period, unproductive of great work, he ranked among the foremost writers. His papers in the North American Review, as the first original criticism on this side of the Atlantic, marked an era in our letters. He was one of the first to recognize the genius of Wordsworth and of Coleridge; under the influence of the latter he wrote the poem by which he is chiefly known, 'The Buccaneer.' He claimed for it a basis of truth; it is in fact a story out of 'The Pirate's Own Book,' with the element of the supernatural added to convey the moral lesson. His verse is contained in a slender volume. It lacks fluency and melody, but shows keen perception of Nature's beauty, especially in her sterner, more solemn moods, and sympathy with the human heart. Dana was not so much a poet born with the inevitable gift of song (he would otherwise not have become almost silent during the last fifty years of his life), as a man of strong intellect who in his youth turned to verse for recreation.

Though best known by his poems, he stands out strongest and most original as novelist. 'Paul Felton,' his masterpiece in prose, is a powerful study of a diseased condition of mind. In its searching psychologic analysis it stands quite apart from the more or less flaccid production of its day. He indeed could not escape the influence of Charles Brockden Brown, whom he greatly admired, and he in turn reached out forward toward Poe and other writers of the analytic school. One powerful story of Poe's, indeed, seems to have been suggested by Dana's work: the demon horse in 'Metzengerstein' is a superior copy of the Spectre Horse in 'The Buccaneer.' These stories were not popular in his day: they are too remote from ordinary life, too gloomy and painful; they have no definite locality or nationality; their characters have little in common with every-day humanity. His prose style however is clear, direct, and strong.

Even after he ceased to write, he had an important influence on American letters by the independence of his opinions, his friendships with literary men, chief among whom was Bryant, and his live interest in the younger literature produced under conditions more favorable and more inspiring than he had known.


From 'The Buccaneer'

The Island lies nine leagues away; Along its solitary shore Of craggy rock and sandy bay, No sound but ocean's roar, Save where the bold wild sea-bird makes her home, Her shrill cry coming through the sparkling foam.

But when the light winds lie at rest, And on the glassy, heaving sea, The black duck with her glossy breast Sits swinging silently, How beautiful! no ripples break the reach, And silvery waves go noiseless up the beach.

And inland rests the green, warm dell; The brook comes tinkling down its side; From out the trees the Sabbath bell Rings cheerful, far and wide, Mingling its sound with bleatings of the flocks That feed about the vale among the rocks.

Nor holy bell nor pastoral bleat In former days within the vale; Flapped in the bay the pirate's sheet; Curses were on the gale; Rich goods lay on the sand, and murdered men: Pirate and wrecker kept their revels then.

But calm, low voices, words of grace, Now slowly fall upon the ear; A quiet look is in each face, Subdued and holy fear. Each motion gentle; all is kindly done— Come, listen how from crime this Isle was won.


From 'The Buccaneer'

Who's sitting on that long black ledge Which makes so far out in the sea, Feeling the kelp-weed on its edge? Poor idle Matthew Lee! So weak and pale? A year and little more. And bravely did he lord it round this shore!

And on the shingles now he sits, And rolls the pebbles 'neath his hands; Now walks the beach; then stops by fits, And scores the smooth wet sands; Then tries each cliff and cove and jut that bounds The isles; then home from many weary rounds.

They ask him why he wanders so, From day to day, the uneven strand? "I wish, I wish that I might go! But I would go by land; And there's no way that I can find—I've tried All day and night!"—He seaward looked, and sighed.

It brought the tear to many an eye That once his eye had made to quail. "Lee, go with us; our sloop is nigh; Come! help us hoist her sail." He shook.—"You know the Spirit Horse I ride! He'll let me on the sea with none beside!"

He views the ships that come and go, Looking so like to living things. O! 'tis a proud and gallant show Of bright and broad-spread wings, Making it light around them, as they keep Their course right onward through the unsounded deep.

And where the far-off sand-bars lift Their backs in long and narrow line, The breakers shout, and leap, and shift, And send the sparkling brine Into the air, then rush to mimic strife: Glad creatures of the sea, and full of life!—

But not to Lee. He sits alone; No fellowship nor joy for him. Borne down by woe, he makes no moan, Though tears will sometimes dim That asking eye—oh, how his worn thoughts crave— Not joy again, but rest within the grave.

* * * * *

To-night the charmed number's told. "Twice have I come for thee," it said. "Once more, and none shall thee behold. Come! live one, to the dead!"— So hears his soul, and fears the coming night; Yet sick and weary of the soft calm light.

Again he sits within that room; All day he leans at that still board; None to bring comfort to his gloom, Or speak a friendly word. Weakened with fear, lone, haunted by remorse, Poor shattered wretch, there waits he that pale Horse.

Not long he waits. Where now are gone Peak, citadel, and tower, that stood Beautiful, while the west sun shone And bathed them in his flood Of airy glory!—Sudden darkness fell; And down they went,—peak, tower, citadel.

The darkness, like a dome of stone, Ceils up the heavens. 'Tis hush as death— All but the ocean's dull low moan. How hard Lee draws his breath! He shudders as he feels the working Power. Arouse thee, Lee! up! man thee for thine hour!

'Tis close at hand; for there, once more, The burning ship. Wide sheets of flame And shafted fire she showed before;— Twice thus she hither came;— But now she rolls a naked hulk, and throws A wasting light; then, settling, down she goes.

And where she sank, up slowly came The Spectre Horse from out the sea. And there he stands! His pale sides flame. He'll meet thee shortly, Lee.

He treads the waters as a solid floor: He's moving on. Lee waits him at the door.

They're met. "I know thou com'st for me," Lee's spirit to the Spectre said; "I know that I must go with thee— Take me not to the dead. It was not I alone that did the deed!" Dreadful the eye of that still, spectral Steed!

Lee cannot turn. There is a force In that fixed eye which holds him fast. How still they stand!—the man and horse. "Thine hour is almost past." "Oh, spare me," cries the wretch, "thou fearful one!" "My time is full—I must not go alone."

"I'm weak and faint. Oh let me stay!" "Nay, murderer, rest nor stay for thee!" The horse and man are on their way; He bears him to the sea. Hark! how the Spectre breathes through this still night! See, from his nostrils streams a deathly light!

He's on the beach, but stops not there; He's on the sea! that dreadful horse! Lee flings and writhes in wild despair! In vain! The spirit-corse Holds him by fearful spell; he cannot leap. Within that horrid light he rides the deep.

It lights the sea around their track— The curling comb, and dark steel wave: There yet sits Lee the Spectre's back— Gone! gone! and none to save! They're seen no more; the night has shut them in. May Heaven have pity on thee, man of sin!

The earth has washed away its stain; The sealed-up sky is breaking forth, Mustering its glorious hosts again, From the far south and north; The climbing moon plays on the rippling sea.— Oh, whither on its waters rideth Lee?


From 'Paul Felton'

He took a path which led through the fields back of his house, and wound among the steep rocks part way up the range of high hills, till it reached a small locust grove, where it ended. He began climbing a ridge near him, and reaching the top of it, beheld all around him a scene desolate and broken as the ocean. It looked for miles as if one immense gray rock had been heaved up and shattered by an earthquake. Here and there might be seen shooting out of the clefts, old trees, like masts at sea. It was as if the sea in a storm had become suddenly fixed, with all its ships upon it. The sun shone glaring and hot on it, but there was neither life, nor motion, nor sound; the spirit of desolation had gone over it, and it had become the place of death. His heart sunk within him, and something like a superstitious dread entered him. He tried to rouse himself, and look about with a composed mind. It was in vain—he felt as if some dreadful unseen power stood near him. He would have spoken, but he dared not in such a place.

To shake this off, he began clambering over one ridge after another, till, passing cautiously round a beetling rock, a sharp cry from out it shot through him. Every small jut and precipice sent it back with a Satanic taunt; and the crowd of hollows and points seemed for the instant alive with thousands of fiends. Paul's blood ran cold, and he scarcely breathed as he waited for their cry again; but all was still. Though his mind was of a superstitious cast, he had courage and fortitude; and ashamed of his weakness, he reached forward, and stooping down looked into the cavity. He started as his eye fell on the object within it. "Who and what are you?" cried he. "Come out, and let me see whether you are man or devil." And out crawled a miserable boy, looking as if shrunk up with fear and famine. "Speak, and tell me who you are, and what you do here," said Paul. The poor fellow's jaws moved and quivered, but he did not utter a sound. His spare frame shook, and his knees knocked against each other as in an ague fit. Paul looked at him for a moment. His loose shambly frame was nearly bare to the bones, his light sunburnt hair hung long and straight round his thin jaws and white eyes, that shone with a delirious glare, as if his mind had been terror-struck. There was a sickly, beseeching smile about his mouth. His skin, between the freckles, was as white as a leper's, and his teeth long and yellow. He appeared like one who had witnessed the destruction about him, and was the only living thing spared, to make death seem more horrible.

"Who put you here to starve?" said Paul to him.

"Nobody, sir."

"Why did you come, then?"

"Oh, I can't help it; I must come."

"Must! And why must you?" The boy looked round timidly, and crouching near Paul, said in a tremulous, low voice, his eyes glancing fearfully through the chasm, "'Tis He, 'tis He that makes me!" Paul turned suddenly round, and saw before him for the first time the deserted tract of pine wood and sand which has been described. "Who and where is he?" asked Paul impatiently, expecting to see some one.

"There, there, in the wood yonder," answered the boy, crouching still lower, and pointing with his finger, whilst his hand shook as if palsied.

"I see nothing," said Paul, "but these pines. What possesses you? Why do you shudder so, and look so pale? Do you take the shadows of the trees for devils?"

"Don't speak of them. They'll be on me, if you talk of them here," whispered the boy eagerly. Drops of sweat stood on his brow from the agony of terror he was in. As Paul looked at the lad, he felt something like fear creeping over him. He turned his eyes involuntarily to the wood again. "If we must not talk here," said he at last, "come along with me, and tell me what all this means." The boy rose, and followed close to Paul.

"Is it the Devil you have seen, that you shake so?"

"You have named him; I never must," said the boy. "I have seen strange sights, and heard sounds whispered close to my ears, so full of spite, and so dreadful, I dared not look round lest I should see some awful face at mine. I've thought I felt it touch me sometimes."

"And what wicked thing have you done, that they should haunt you so?"

"Oh, sir, I was a foolhardy boy. Two years ago I was not afraid of anything. Nobody dared go into the wood, or even so much as over the rocks, to look at it, after what happened there."—"I've heard a foolish story," said Paul.—"So once, sir, the thought took me that I would go there a-bird's-nesting, and bring home the eggs and show to the men. And it would never go out of my mind after, though I began to wish I hadn't thought any such thing. Every night when I went to bed I would lie and say to myself, 'To-morrow is the day for me to go;' and I did not like to be alone in the dark, and wanted some one with me to touch me when I had bad dreams. And when I waked in the morning, I felt as if something dreadful was coming upon me before night. Well, every day,—I don't know how it was,—I found myself near this ridge; and every time I went farther and farther up it, though I grew more and more frightened. And when I had gone as far as I dared, I was afraid to wait, but would turn and make away so fast that many a time I fell down some of these places, and got lamed and bruised. The boys began to think something, and would whisper each other and look at me; and when they found I saw them, they would turn away. It grew hard for me to be one at their games, though once I used to be the first chosen in. I can't tell how it was, but all this only made me go on; and as the boys kept out of the way, I began to feel as if I must do what I had thought of, and as if there was somebody, I couldn't think who, that was to have me and make me do what he pleased. So it went on, sir, day after day," continued the lad, in a weak, timid tone, but comforted at finding one to tell his story to; "till at last I reached as far as the hollow where you just now frighted me so, when I heard you near me. I didn't run off as I used to from the other places, but sat down under the rock. Then I looked out and saw the trees. I tried to get up and run home, but I couldn't; I dared not come out and go round the corner of the rock. I tried to look another way, but my eyes seemed fastened on the trees; I couldn't take 'em off. At last I thought something told me it was time for me to go on. I got up."

Here poor Abel shook so that he seized hold of Paul's arm to help him. Paul recoiled as if an unclean creature touched him. The boy shrunk back.

"Go on," said Paul recovering himself. The boy took comfort from the sound of another's voice:—"I went a little way down the hollow, sir, as if drawn along. Then I came to a steep place; I put my legs over to let myself down; my knees grew so weak I dared not trust myself; I tried to draw them up, but the strength was all gone out of them, and then my feet were as heavy as if made of lead. I gave a screech, and there was a yell close to me and for miles round, that nigh stunned me. I can't say how, but the last thing I knew was my leaping along the rocks, while there was nothing but flames of fire shooting all round me. It was scarce midday when I left home; and when I came to myself under the locusts it was growing dark."

"Rest here awhile," said Paul, looking at the boy as at some mysterious being, "and tell out your story."

Glad at being in company, the boy sat down upon the grass, and went on with his tale:—"I crawled home as well as I could, and went to bed. When I was falling asleep I had the same feeling I had when sitting over the rock. I dared not lie in bed any longer, for I couldn't keep awake while there. Glad was I when the day broke, and I saw a neighbor open his door and come out. I was not well all day, and I tried to think myself more ill than I was, because I somehow thought that then I needn't go to the wood. But the next day He was not to be put off; and I went, though I cried and prayed all the way that I might not be made to go. But I could not stop till I had got over the hill, and reached the sand round the wood. When I put my foot on it, all the joints in me jerked as if they would not hold together, so that I cried out with the pain. When I came under the trees there was a deep sound, and great shadows were all round me. My hair stood on end, and my eyes kept glimmering; yet I couldn't go back. I went on till I found a crow's nest. I climbed the tree, and took out the eggs. The old crow kept flying round and round me. As soon as I felt the eggs in my hand and my work done, I dropped from the tree and ran for the hollow. I can't tell how it was, but it seemed to me that I didn't gain a foot of ground—it was just as if the whole wood went with me. Then I thought He had me his. The ground began to bend and the trees to move. At last I was nigh blind. I struck against one tree and another till I fell to the ground. How long I lay there I can't tell; but when I came to I was on the sand, the sun blazing hot upon me and my skin scorched up. I was so stiff and ached so, I could hardly stand upright. I didn't feel or think anything after this; and hardly knew where I was till somebody came and touched me, and asked me whether I was walking in my sleep; and I looked up and found myself close home.

"The boys began to gather round me as if I were something strange; and when I looked at them they would move back from me. 'What have you been doing, Abel?' one of them asked me at last. 'No good, I warrant you,' answered another, who stood back of me. And when I turned around to speak to him he drew behind the others, as if afraid I should harm him;—and I was too weak and frightened to hurt a fly. 'See his hands; they are stained all over.'—'And there's a crow's egg, as I'm alive!' said another. 'And the crow is the Devil's bird, Tom, isn't it?' asked a little boy. 'O Abel, you've been to that wood and made yourself over to Him.'—They moved off one after another, every now and then turning round and looking at me as if I were cursed. After this they would not speak to me nor come nigh me. I heard people talking, and saw them going about, but not one of them all could I speak to, or get to come near me; it was dreadful, being so alone! I met a boy that used to be with me all day long; and I begged him not to go off from me so, and to stop, if it were only for a moment. 'You played with me once,' said I; 'and won't you do so much as look at me, or ask me how I am, when I am so weak and ill too?' He began to hang back a little, and I thought from his face that he pitied me. I could have cried for joy, and was going up to him, but he turned away. I called out after him, telling him that I would not so much as touch him with my finger, or come any nearer to him, if he would only stop and speak one word to me; but he went away shaking his head, and muttering something, I hardly knew what,—how that I did not belong to them, but was the Evil One's now. I sat down on a stone and cried, and wished that I was dead; for I couldn't help it, though it was wicked in me to do so."

"And is there no one," asked Paul, "who will notice you or speak to you? Do you live so alone now?" It made his heart ache to look down upon the pining, forlorn creature before him.

"Not a soul," whined out the boy. "My grandmother is dead now, and only the gentlefolks give me anything; for they don't seem afraid of me, though they look as if they didn't like me, and wanted me gone. All I can, I get to eat in the woods, and I beg out of the village. But I dare not go far, because I don't know when He will want me. But I am not alone, He's with me day and night. As I go along the street in the daytime, I feel Him near me, though I can't see Him; and it is as if He were speaking to me; and yet I don't hear any words. He makes me follow Him to that wood; and I have to sit the whole day where you found me, and I dare not complain nor move, till I feel He will let me go. I've looked at the pines, sometimes, till I have seen spirits moving all through them. Oh, 'tis an awful place; they breathe cold upon me when He makes me go there."

"Poor wretch!" said Paul.

"I'm weak and hungry, and yet when I try to eat, something chokes me; I don't love what I eat."

"Come along with me, and you shall have something to nourish and warm you; for you are pale and shiver, and look cold here in the very sun."

The boy looked up at Paul, and the tears rolled down his cheeks at hearing one speak so kindly to him. He got up and followed meekly after to the house.

Paul, seeing a servant in the yard, ordered the boy something to eat. The man cast his eye upon Abel, and then looked at Paul as if he had not understood him. "I spoke distinctly enough," said Paul; "and don't you see that the boy is nigh starved?" The man gave a mysterious look at both of them, and with a shake of his head as he turned away, went to do as he was bid.

"What means the fellow?" said Paul to himself as he entered the house. "Does he take me to be bound to Satan too? Yet there may be bonds upon the soul, though we know it not; and evil spirits at work within us, of which we little dream. And are there no beings but those seen of mortal eye or felt by mortal touch? Are there not passing in and around this piece of moving mold, in which the spirit is pent up, those whom it hears not? those whom it has no finer sense whereby to commune with? Are all the instant joys that come and go, we know not whence nor whither, but creations of the mind? Or are they not rather bright and heavenly messengers, whom when this spirit is set free it will see in all their beauty? whose sweet sounds it will then drink in? Yes, it is, it is so; and all around us is populous with beings, now invisible to us as this circling air."...

The moon was down and the sky overcast when they began to wind among the rocks. Though Paul's walks had lain of late in this direction, he was not enough acquainted with the passage to find his way through it in the dark. Abel, who had traversed it often in the night, alone and in terror, now took heart at having some one with him at such an hour, and offered unhesitatingly to lead. "The boy winds round those crags with the speed and ease of a stream," said Paul; "not so fast, Abel."

"Take hold of the root which shoots out over your head, sir, for 'tis ticklish work getting along just here. Do you feel it, sir?"

"I have hold," said Paul.

"Let yourself gently down by it, sir. You needn't be a bit afraid, for 'twill not give way; man couldn't have fastened it stronger."

This was the first time Abel had felt his power, or had been of consequence to any one, since the boys had turned him out from their games; and it gave him a momentary activity, and an unsettled sort of spirit, which he had never known since then. He had been shunned and abhorred; and he believed himself the victim of some demoniac power. To have another in this fearful bondage with him, as Paul had intimated, was a relief from his dreadful solitariness in his terrors and sufferings. "And he said that it was I who was to work a curse on him," muttered Abel. "It cannot be, surely, that such a thing as I am can harm a man like him!" And though Abel remembered Paul's kindness, and that this was to seal his own doom too, yet it stirred the spirit of pride within him.

"What are you muttering to yourself, there in the dark," demanded Paul; "or whom talk you with, you withered wretch?" Abel shook in every joint at the sound of Paul's harsh voice.

"It is so dreadfully still here," said Abel; "I hear nothing but your steps behind me, and they make me start." This was true; for notwithstanding his touch of instant pride, his terrors and his fear of Paul were as great as ever.

"Speak louder then," said Paul, "or hold your peace. I like not your muttering; it bodes no good."

"It may bring a curse to you, worse than that on me, if a worse can be," said Abel to himself; "but who can help it?"

Day broke before they cleared the ridge; a drizzling rain came on; and the wind, beginning to rise, drove through the crevices in the rocks with sharp whistling sounds which seemed to come from malignant spirits of the air.

They had scarcely entered the wood when the storm became furious; and the trees, swaying and beating with their branches against one another, seemed possessed of a supernatural madness, and engaged in wild conflict, as if there were life and passion in them; and their broken, decayed arms groaned like things in torment. The terror of these sights and sounds was too much for poor Abel; it nearly crazed him; and he set up a shriek that for a moment drowned the noise of the storm. It startled Paul; and when he looked at him, the boy's face was of a ghostly whiteness. The rain had drenched him to the skin; his clothes clung to his lean body, that shook as if it would come apart; his eyes flew wildly, and his teeth chattered against each other. The fears and torture of his mind gave something unearthly to his look, that made Paul start back. "Abel—boy—fiend—speak! What has seized you?"

"They told me so," cried Abel—"I've done it—I led the way for you—they're coming, they're coming—we're lost!"

"Peace, fool," said Paul, trying to shake off the power he felt Abel gaining over him, "and find us a shelter if you can."

"There's only the hut," said Abel, "and I wouldn't go into that if it rained fire."

"And why not?"

"I once felt that it was for me to go, and I went so near as to see in at the door. And I saw something in the hut—it was not a man, for it flitted by the opening just like a shadow; and I heard two muttering something to one another; it wasn't like other sounds, for as soon as I heard it, it made me stop my ears. I couldn't stay any longer, and I ran till I cleared the wood. Oh! 'tis His biding-place, when He comes to the wood."

"And is it of His own building?" asked Paul, sarcastically.

"No," answered Abel; "'twas built by the two wood-cutters; and one of them came to a bloody end, and they say the other died the same night, foaming at the mouth like one possessed. There it is," said he, almost breathless, as he crouched down and pointed at the hut under the trees. "Do not go, sir," he said, catching hold of the skirts of Paul's coat,—"I've never dared go nigher since."—"Let loose, boy," cried Paul, striking Abel's hand from his coat, "I'll not be fooled with." Abel, alarmed at being left alone, crawled after Paul as far as he dared go; then taking hold of him once more, made a supplicating motion to him to stop; he was afraid to speak. Paul pushed on without regarding him.

The hut stood on the edge of a sand-bank that was kept up by a large pine, whose roots and fibres, lying partly bare, looked like some giant spider that had half buried himself in the sand. On the right of the hut was a patch of broken ground, in which were still standing a few straggling dried stalks of Indian corn; and from two dead trees hung knotted pieces of broken line, which had formerly served for a clothesline. The hut was built of half-trimmed trunks of trees laid on each other, crossing at the four corners and running out at unequal lengths, the chinks partly filled in with sods and moss. The door, which lay on the floor, was of twisted boughs; and the roof, of the same, was caved in, and but partly kept out the sun and rain.

As Paul drew near the entrance he stopped, though the wind just then came in a heavy gust, and the rain fell like a flood. It was not a dread of what he might see within; but it seemed to him that there was a spell round him, drawing him nearer and nearer to its centre; and he felt the hand of some invisible power upon him. As he stepped into the hut a chill ran over him, and his eyes shut involuntarily. Abel watched him eagerly; and as he saw him enter, tossed his arms wildly shouting, "Gone, gone! They'll have me too—they're coming, they're coming!" and threw himself on his face to the ground.

Driven from home by his maddening passions, a perverse delight in self-torture had taken possession of Paul; and his mind so hungered for more intense excitement, that it craved to prove true all which its jealousy and superstition had imaged. He had walked on, lost in this fearful riot, but with no particular object in view, and taking only a kind of crazed joy in his bewildered state. Esther's love for him, which he at times thought past doubt feigned, the darkness of the night, and then the driving storm with its confused motions and sounds, made an uproar of the mind which drove out all settled purpose or thought.

The stillness of the place into which he had now entered, where was heard nothing but the slow, regular dripping of the rain from the broken roof upon the hard-trod floor; the lowered and distant sound of the storm without; the sudden change from the whirl and swaying of the trees to the steady walls of the building, put a sudden stop to the violent working of his brain, and he gradually fell into a stupor.

When Abel began to recover, he could scarcely raise himself from the ground. He looked round, but could see nothing of Paul. "They have bound us together," said he; "and something is drawing me toward him. There is no help for me; I must go whither he goes." As he was drawn nearer and nearer to the hut he seemed to struggle and hang back, as if pushed on against his will. At last he reached the doorway; and clinging to its side with a desperate hold, as if not to be forced in, put his head forward a little, casting a hasty glance into the building. "There he is, and alive!" breathed out Abel.

Paul's stupor was now beginning to leave him; his recollection was returning; and what had passed came back slowly and at intervals. There was something he had said to Esther before leaving home—he could not tell what; then his gazing after her as she drove from the house; then something of Abel,—and he sprang from the ground as if he felt the boy's touch again about his knees; then the ball-room, and a multitude of voices, and all talking of his wife. Suddenly she appeared darting by him; and Frank was there. Then came his agony and tortures again; all returned upon him as in the confusion of some horrible trance. Then the hut seemed to enlarge and the walls to rock; and shadows of those he knew, and of terrible beings he had never seen before, were flitting round him and mocking at him. His own substantial form seemed to him undergoing a change, and taking the shape and substance of the accursed ones at which he looked. As he felt the change going on he tried to utter a cry, but he could not make a sound nor move a limb. The ground under him rocked and pitched; it grew darker and darker, till everything was visionary; and he thought himself surrounded by spirits, and in the mansions of the damned. Something like a deep black cloud began to gather gradually round him. The gigantic structure, with its tall terrific arches, turned slowly into darkness, and the spirits within disappeared one after another, till as the ends of the cloud met and closed, he saw the last of them looking at him with an infernal laugh in his undefined visage.

Abel continued watching him in speechless agony. Paul's consciousness was now leaving him; his head began to swim—he reeled; and as his hand swept down the side of the hut, while trying to save himself, it struck against a rusty knife that had been left sticking loosely between the logs. "Let go, let go!" shrieked Abel; "there's blood on 't—'tis cursed, 'tis cursed." As Paul swung round with the knife in his hand, Abel sprang from the door with a shrill cry, and Paul sank on the floor, muttering to himself, "What said They?"

When he began to come to himself a little, he was still sitting on the ground, his back against the wall. His senses were yet confused. He thought he saw his wife near him, and a bloody knife by his side. After sitting a little longer his mind gradually grew clearer, and at last he felt for the first time that his hand held something. As his eye fell on it and he saw distinctly what it was, he leaped upright with a savage yell and dashed the knife from him as if it had been an asp stinging him. He stood with his bloodshot eyes fastened on it, his hands spread, and his body shrunk up with horror. "Forged in hell! and for me, for me!" he screamed, as he sprang forward and seized it with a convulsive grasp. "Damned pledge of the league that binds us!" he cried, holding it up and glaring wildly on it. "And yet a voice did warn me—of what, I know not. Which of ye put it in this hand? Speak—let me look on you? D'ye hear me, and will not answer? Nay, nay, what needs it? This tells me, though it speaks not. I know your promptings now," he said, folding his arms deliberately; "your work must be done; and I am doomed to it."



The literary fame of Richard Henry Dana the younger rests on a single book, produced at the age of twenty-five. 'Two Years Before the Mast' stands unique in English literature: it reports a man's actual experiences at sea, yet touches the facts with a fine imagination. It is a bit of Dana's own life while on a vacation away from college. The manner in which he got his material was remarkable, but to the literature he came as by birthright, through his father, Richard Henry Dana the elder, then a well-known poet; novelist, and essayist. He was born in Cambridge in 1815, growing up in the intellectual atmosphere of that university town, and in due course of time entering Harvard College, where his father and grandfather before him had been trained in law and letters. An attack of the measles during his third year at college left him with weakened eyes, and an active outdoor life was prescribed as the only remedy. From boyhood up he had been passionately fond of the sea; small wonder, then, that he now determined to take a long sea voyage. Refusing a berth offered him on a vessel bound for the East Indies, he chose to go as common sailor before the mast, on a merchantman starting on a two-years' trading voyage around Cape Horn to California. At that time boys of good family from the New England coast towns often took such trips. Dana indeed found a companion in a former merchant's clerk of Boston. They left on August 14th, 1834, doubled Cape Horn, spent many months in the waters of the Pacific and on the coast of California, trading with the natives and taking in cargoes of hides, and returned to Boston in September, 1836. Young Dana, entirely cured of his weakness, re-entered college, graduated the next year, and then went to study in the law school of Harvard. During his cruise he had kept a journal, which he now worked over into the narrative that made him famous, and that bids fair to keep his name alive as long as boys, young or old, delight in sea stories. It is really not a story at all, but describes with much vivacity the whole history of a long trading voyage, the commonplace life of the sailor with its many hardships, including the savage brutality of captains with no restraint on passion or manners, and scant recreations; the sea in storm and calm, and the California coast before the gold fever, when but few Europeans were settled there, and hides were the chief export of a region whose riches lay still secreted under the earth. The great charm of the narrative lies in its simplicity and its frank statement of facts. Dana apparently did not invent anything, but depicted real men, men he had intimately known for two years, calling them even by their own names, and giving an unvarnished account of what they did and said. He never hung back from work or shirked his duty, but "roughed it" to the very end. As a result of these experiences, this book is the only one that gives any true idea of the sailor's life. Sea stories generally depend for their interest on the inventive skill of their authors; Dana knew how to hold the attention by a simple statement of facts. The book has all the charm and spontaneity of a keenly observant yet imaginative and cultivated mind, alive to all the aspects of the outer world, and gifted with that fine literary instinct which, knowing the value of words, expresses its thoughts with precision. Seafaring men have commented on his exactness in reproducing the sailor's phraseology. The book was published in 1840, translated into several languages, and adopted by the British Admiralty for distribution in the Navy. Few sailors are without a copy in their chest. 'The Seaman's Friend,' which Dana published in the following year, was inspired by his indignation at the abuses he had witnessed in the merchant marine.

Dana did not follow up his first success, and his life henceforth belongs to the history of the bar and politics of Massachusetts, rather than to literature. The fame of his book brought to his law office many admiralty cases. In 1848 he was one of the founders of the Free Soil party; later he became an active abolitionist, and took a large part in the local politics of his State. For a year he lectured on international law in Harvard college. He contributed to the North American Review, and wrote besides on various legal topics. His one other book on travel, 'To Cuba and Back, a Vacation Voyage,' the fruit of a trip to that island in 1859, though well written, never became popular. He retired from his profession in 1877, and spent the last years of his life in Paris and Italy. He died in Rome, January 6th, 1882.


From 'Two Years Before the Mast'

We had been below but a short time before we had the usual premonitions of a coming gale,—seas washing over the whole forward part of the vessel, and her bows beating against them with a force and sound like the driving of piles. The watch, too, seemed very busy trampling about decks and singing out at the ropes. A sailor can tell by the sound what sail is coming in; and in a short time we heard the top-gallant-sails come in, one after another, and then the flying jib. This seemed to ease her a good deal, and we were fast going off to the land of Nod, when—bang, bang, bang on the scuttle, and "All hands, reef topsails, ahoy!" started us out of our berths, and it not being very cold weather, we had nothing extra to put on, and were soon on deck. I shall never forget the fineness of the sight. It was a clear and rather a chilly night; the stars were twinkling with an intense brightness, and as far as the eye could reach there was not a cloud to be seen. The horizon met the sea in a defined line. A painter could not have painted so clear a sky. There was not a speck upon it. Yet it was blowing great guns from the northwest. When you can see a cloud to windward, you feel that there is a place for the wind to come from; but here it seemed to come from nowhere. No person could have told from the heavens, by their eyesight alone, that it was not a still summer's night. One reef after another we took in the topsails, and before we could get them hoisted up we heard a sound like a short quick rattling of thunder, and the jib was blown to atoms out of the bolt-rope. We got the topsails set, and the fragments of the jib stowed away, and the foretopmast staysail set in its place, when the great mainsail gaped open, and the sail ripped from head to foot. "Lay up on that main yard and furl the sail, before it blows to tatters!" shouted the captain; and in a moment we were up, gathering the remains of it upon the yard. We got it wrapped round the yard, and passed gaskets over it as snugly as possible, and were just on deck again, when with another loud rent, which was heard throughout the ship, the foretopsail, which had been double-reefed, split in two athwartships, just below the reef-band, from earing to earing. Here again it was—down yard, haul out reef-tackles, and lay out upon the yard for reefing. By hauling the reef-tackles chock-a-block we took the strain from the other earings, and passing the close-reef earing, and knotting the points carefully, we succeeded in setting the sail, close reefed.

We had but just got the rigging coiled up, and were waiting to hear "Go below the watch!" when the main royal worked loose from the gaskets, and blew directly out to leeward, flapping and shaking the mast like a wand. Here was a job for somebody. The royal must come in or be cut adrift, or the mast would be snapped short off. All the light hands in the starboard watch were sent up one after another, but they could do nothing with it. At length John, the tall Frenchman, the head of the starboard watch (and a better sailor never stepped upon a deck), sprang aloft, and by the help of his long arms and legs succeeded after a hard struggle,—the sail blowing over the yard-arm to leeward, and the skysail adrift directly over his head,—in smothering it and frapping it with long pieces of sinnet. He came very near being blown or shaken from the yard several times, but he was a true sailor, every finger a fish-hook. Having made the sail snug, he prepared to send the yard down, which was a long and difficult job; for frequently he was obliged to stop and hold on with all his might for several minutes, the ship pitching so as to make it impossible to do anything else at that height. The yard at length came down safe, and after it the fore and mizzen royal yards were sent down. All hands were then sent aloft, and for an hour or two we were hard at work, making the booms well fast, unreeving the studding sail and royal and skysail gear, getting rolling-ropes on the yard, setting up the weather breast-backstays, and making other preparations for a storm. It was a fine night for a gale, just cool and bracing enough for quick work, without being cold, and as bright as day. It was sport to have a gale in such weather as this. Yet it blew like a hurricane. The wind seemed to come with a spite, an edge to it, which threatened to scrape us off the yards. The force of the wind was greater than I had ever felt it before; but darkness, cold, and wet are the worst parts of a storm to a sailor.

Having got on deck again, we looked round to see what time of night it was, and whose watch. In a few minutes the man at the wheel struck four bells, and we found that the other watch was out and our own half out. Accordingly the starboard watch went below, and left the ship to us for a couple of hours, yet with orders to stand by for a call.

Hardly had they got below before away went the foretopmast staysail, blown to ribands. This was a small sail, which we could manage in the watch, so that we were not obliged to call up the other watch. We laid upon the bowsprit, where we were under water half the time, and took in the fragments of the sail; and as she must have some headsail on her, prepared to bend another staysail. We got the new one out into the nettings; seized on the tack, sheets, and halyards, and the hanks; manned the halyards, cut adrift the frapping-lines, and hoisted away; but before it was half-way up the stay it was blown all to pieces. When we belayed the halyards, there was nothing left but the bolt-rope. Now large eyes began to show themselves in the foresail; and knowing that it must soon go, the mate ordered us upon the yard to furl it. Being unwilling to call up the watch, who had been on deck all night, he roused out the carpenter, sailmaker, cook, and steward, and with their help we manned the foreyard, and after nearly half an hour's struggle, mastered the sail and got it well furled round the yard. The force of the wind had never been greater than at this moment. In going up the rigging it seemed absolutely to pin us down to the shrouds; and on the yard there was no such thing as turning a face to windward. Yet there was no driving sleet and darkness and wet and cold as off Cape Horn; and instead of stiff oilcloth suits, southwester caps, and thick boots, we had on hats, round jackets, duck trousers, light shoes, and everything light and easy. These things make a great difference to a sailor. When we got on deck the man at the wheel struck eight bells (four o'clock in the morning), and "All star-bowlines, ahoy!" brought the other watch up, but there was no going below for us. The gale was now at its height, "blowing like scissors and thumb-screws"; the captain was on deck; the ship, which was light, rolling and pitching as though she would shake the long sticks out of her, and the sails were gaping open and splitting in every direction. The mizzen-topsail, which was a comparatively new sail and close reefed, split from head to foot in the bunt; the foretopsail went in one rent from clew to caring, and was blowing to tatters; one of the chain bobstays parted; the spritsailyard sprung in the slings, the martingale had slued away off to leeward; and owing to the long dry weather the lee rigging hung in large bights at every lurch. One of the main-topgallant shrouds had parted; and to crown all, the galley had got adrift and gone over to leeward, and the anchor on the lee bow had worked loose and was thumping the side. Here was work enough for all hands for half a day. Our gang laid out on the mizzen-topsailyard, and after more than half an hour's hard work furled the sail, though it bellied out over our heads, and again, by a slat of the wind, blew in under the yard with a fearful jerk and almost threw us off from the foot-ropes.

Double gaskets were passed round the yards, rolling tackles and other gear bowsed taut, and everything made as secure as it could be. Coming down, we found the rest of the crew just coming down the fore rigging, having furled the tattered topsail, or rather, swathed it round the yard, which looked like a broken limb bandaged. There was no sail now on the ship but the spanker and the close-reefed main-topsail, which still held good. But this was too much after-sail, and order was given to furl the spanker. The brails were hauled up, and all the light hands in the starboard watch sent out on the gaff to pass the gaskets; but they could do nothing with it. The second mate swore at them for a parcel of "sogers," and sent up a couple of the best men; but they could do no better, and the gaff was lowered down. All hands were now employed in setting up the lee rigging, fishing the spritsail yard, lashing the galley, and getting tackles upon the martingale, to bowse it to windward. Being in the larboard watch, my duty was forward, to assist in setting up the martingale. Three of us were out on the martingale guys and back-ropes for more than half an hour, carrying out, hooking, and unhooking the tackles, several times buried in the seas, until the mate ordered us in from fear of our being washed off. The anchors were then to be taken up on the rail, which kept all hands on the forecastle for an hour, though every now and then the seas broke over it, washing the rigging off to leeward, filling the lee scuppers breast-high, and washing chock aft to the taffrail.

Having got everything secure again, we were promising ourselves some breakfast, for it was now nearly nine o'clock in the forenoon, when the main-topsail showed evident signs of giving way. Some sail must be kept on the ship, and the captain ordered the fore and main spencer gaffs to be lowered down, and the two spencers (which were storm sails, brand-new, small, and made of the strongest canvas) to be got up and bent; leaving the main-topsail to blow away, with a blessing on it, if it would only last until we could set the spencers. These we bent on very carefully, with strong robands and seizings, and making tackles fast to the clews, bowsed them down to the water-ways. By this time the main-topsail was among the things that have been, and we went aloft to stow away the remnant of the last sail of all those which were on the ship twenty-four hours before. The spencers were now the only whole sails on the ship, and being strong and small, and near the deck, presenting but little surface to the wind above the rail, promised to hold out well. Hove-to under these, and eased by having no sail above the tops, the ship rose and fell, and drifted off to leeward like a line-of-battle ship.

It was now eleven o'clock, and the watch was sent below to get breakfast, and at eight bells (noon), as everything was snug, although the gale had not in the least abated, the watch was set and the other watch and idlers sent below. For three days and three nights the gale continued with unabated fury, and with singular regularity. There were no lulls, and very little variation in its fierceness. Our ship, being light, rolled so as almost to send the fore yard-arm under water, and drifted off bodily to leeward. All this time there was not a cloud to be seen in the sky, day or night; no, not so large as a man's hand. Every morning the sun rose cloudless from the sea, and set again at night in the sea in a flood of light. The stars, too, came out of the blue one after another, night after night, unobscured, and twinkled as clear as on a still frosty night at home, until the day came upon them. All this time the sea was rolling in immense surges, white with foam, as far as the eye could reach, on every side; for we were now leagues and leagues from shore.


From 'Two Years Before the Mast'

The sole object was to make the time pass on. Any change was sought for which would break the monotony of the time; and even the two-hours' trick at the wheel, which came round to us in turn, once in every other watch, was looked upon as a relief. The never-failing resource of long yarns, which eke out many a watch, seemed to have failed us now; for we had been so long together that we had heard each other's stories told over and over again till we had them by heart; each one knew the whole history of each of the others, and we were fairly and literally talked out. Singing and joking we were in no humor for; and in fact any sound of mirth or laughter would have struck strangely upon our ears, and would not have been tolerated any more than whistling or a wind instrument. The last resort, that of speculating upon the future, seemed now to fail us; for our discouraging situation, and the danger we were really in (as we expected every day to find ourselves drifted back among the ice), "clapped a stopper" upon all that. From saying "when we get home," we began insensibly to alter it "when we get home," and at last the subject was dropped by a tacit consent.

In this state of things a new light was struck out, and a new field opened, by a change in the watch. One of our watch was laid up for two or three days by a bad hand (for in cold weather the least cut or bruise ripens into a sore), and his place was supplied by the carpenter. This was a windfall, and there was a contest who should have the carpenter to walk with him. As "Chips" was a man of some little education, and he and I had had a good deal of intercourse with each other, he fell in with me in my walk. He was a Finn, but spoke English well, and gave me long accounts of his country,—the customs, the trade, the towns, what little he knew of the government (I found he was no friend of Russia), his voyages, his first arrival in America, his marriage and courtship; he had married a country-woman of his, a dressmaker, whom he met with in Boston. I had very little to tell him of my quiet sedentary life at home; and in spite of our best efforts, which had protracted these yarns through five or six watches, we fairly talked each other out, and I turned him over to another man in the watch and put myself upon my own resources.

I commenced a deliberate system of time-killing, which united some profit with a cheering-up of the heavy hours. As soon as I came on deck, and took my place and regular walk, I began with repeating over to myself in regular order a string of matters which I had in my memory,—the multiplication table and the table of weights and measures; the Kanaka numerals; then the States of the Union, with their capitals; the counties of England, with their shire towns, and the kings of England in their order, and other things. This carried me through my facts, and being repeated deliberately, with long intervals, often eked out the first two bells. Then came the Ten Commandments, the thirty-ninth chapter of Job, and a few other passages from Scripture. The next in the order, which I seldom varied from, came Cowper's 'Castaway,' which was a great favorite with me; its solemn measure and gloomy character, as well as the incident it was founded upon, making it well suited to a lonely watch at sea. Then his 'Lines to Mary,' his address to the Jackdaw, and a short extract from 'Table Talk' (I abounded in Cowper, for I happened to have a volume of his poems in my chest); 'Ille et nefasto' from Horace, and Goethe's 'Erl-Koenig.' After I had got through these, I allowed myself a more general range among everything that I could remember, both in prose and verse. In this way, with an occasional break by relieving the wheel, heaving the log, and going to the scuttle-butt for a drink of water, the longest watch was passed away; and I was so regular in my silent recitations that if there was no interruption by ship's duty I could tell very nearly the number of bells by my progress.

Our watches below were no more varied than the watch on deck. All washing, sewing, and reading was given up, and we did nothing but eat, sleep, and stand our watch, leading what might be called a Cape Horn life. The forecastle was too uncomfortable to sit up in; and whenever we were below, we were in our berths. To prevent the rain and the sea-water which broke over the bows from washing down, we were obliged to keep the scuttle closed, so that the forecastle was nearly air-tight. In this little wet leaky hole we were all quartered, in an atmosphere so bad that our lamp, which swung in the middle from the beams, sometimes actually burned blue, with a large circle of foul air about it. Still I was never in better health than after three weeks of this life. I gained a great deal of flesh, and we all ate like horses. At every watch when we came below, before turning in, the bread barge and beef kid were overhauled. Each man drank his quart of hot tea night and morning, and glad enough we were to get it; for no nectar and ambrosia were sweeter to the lazy immortals than was a pot of hot tea, a hard biscuit, and a slice of cold salt beef to us after a watch on deck. To be sure, we were mere animals, and had this life lasted a year instead of a month, we should have been little better than the ropes in the ship. Not a razor, nor a brush, nor a drop of water, except the rain and the spray, had come near us all the time: for we were on an allowance of fresh water—and who would strip and wash himself in salt water on deck, in the snow and ice, with the thermometer at zero?


From 'Two Years before the Mast'

The California had finished discharging her cargo, and was to get under way at the same time with us. Having washed down decks and got breakfast, the two vessels lay side by side in complete readiness for sea, our ensigns hanging from the peaks and our tall spars reflected from the glassy surface of the river, which since sunrise had been unbroken by a ripple. At length a few whiffs came across the water, and by eleven o'clock the regular northwest wind set steadily in. There was no need of calling all hands, for we had all been hanging about the forecastle the whole forenoon, and were ready for a start upon the first sign of a breeze. Often we turned our eyes aft upon the captain, who was walking the deck, with every now and then a look to windward. He made a sign to the mate, who came forward, took his station deliberately between the knightheads, cast a glance aloft, and called out, "All hands lay aloft and loose the sails!" We were half in the rigging before the order came, and never since we left Boston were the gaskets off the yards and the rigging overhauled in a shorter time. "All ready forward, sir!" "All ready the main!" "Crossjack yards all ready, sir!" "Lay down, all hands but one on each yard!" The yard-arm and bunt gaskets were cast off; and each sail hung by the jigger, with one man standing by the tie to let it go. At the same moment that we sprang aloft a dozen hands sprang into the rigging of the California, and in an instant were all over her yards; and her sails too were ready to be dropped at the word. In the mean time our bow gun had been loaded and run out, and its discharge was to be the signal for dropping the sails. A cloud of smoke came out of our bows; the echoes of the gun rattled our farewell among the hills of California, and the two ships were covered from head to foot with their white canvas. For a few minutes all was uproar and apparent confusion; men jumping about like monkeys in the rigging; ropes and blocks flying, orders given and answered amid the confused noises of men singing out at the ropes. The topsails came to the mastheads with "Cheerly, men!" and in a few minutes every sail was set, for the wind was light. The head sails were backed, the windlass came round "slip—slap" to the cry of the sailors;—"Hove short, sir," said the mate; "Up with him!"—"Ay, ay, sir." A few hearty and long heaves, and the anchor showed its head. "Hook cat!" The fall was stretched along the decks; all hands laid hold;—"Hurrah, for the last time," said the mate; and the anchor came to the cathead to the tune of 'Time for us to go,' with a rollicking chorus. Everything was done quick, as though it was for the last time. The head yards were filled away, and our ship began to move through the water on her homeward-bound course.

The California had got under way at the same moment, and we sailed down the narrow bay abreast, and were just off the mouth, and, gradually drawing ahead of her, were on the point of giving her three parting cheers, when suddenly we found ourselves stopped short, and the California ranging fast ahead of us. A bar stretches across the mouth of the harbor, with water enough to float common vessels; but being low in the water, and having kept well to leeward, as we were bound to the southward, we had stuck fast, while the California, being light, had floated over.

We kept all sail on, in the hope of forcing over; but failing in this, we hove back into the channel. This was something of a damper to us, and the captain looked not a little mortified and vexed. "This is the same place where the Rosa got ashore, sir," observed our red-headed second mate, most mal-apropos. A malediction on the Rosa, and him too, was all the answer he got, and he slunk off to leeward. In a few minutes the force of the wind and the rising of the tide backed us into the stream, and we were on our way to our old anchoring place, the tide setting swiftly up, and the ship barely manageable in the light breeze. We came-to in our old berth opposite the hide-house, whose inmates were not a little surprised to see us return. We felt as though we were tied to California; and some of the crew swore that they never should get clear of the "bloody" coast.

In about half an hour, which was near high water, the order was given to man the windlass, and again the anchor was catted; but there was no song, and not a word was said about the last time. The California had come back on finding that we had returned, and was hove-to, waiting for us, off the point. This time we passed the bar safely, and were soon up with the California, who filled away, and kept us company. She seemed desirous of a trial of speed, and our captain accepted the challenge, although we were loaded down to the bolts of our chain-plates, as deep as a sand-barge, and bound so taut with our cargo that we were no more fit for a race than a man in fetters; while our antagonist was in her best trim. Being clear of the point, the breeze became stiff, and the royal-masts bent under our sails, but we would not take them in until we saw three boys spring aloft into the rigging of the California; when they were all furled at once, but with orders to our boys to stay aloft at the topgallant mastheads and loose them again at the word. It was my duty to furl the fore-royal; and, while standing by to loose it again, I had a fine view of the scene. From where I stood, the two vessels seemed nothing but spars and sails, while their narrow decks, far below, slanting over by the force of the wind aloft, appeared hardly capable of supporting the great fabrics raised upon them. The California was to windward of us, and had every advantage; yet, while the breeze was stiff, we held our own. As soon as it began to slacken, she ranged a little ahead, and the order was given to loose the royals. In an instant the gaskets were off and the bunt dropped. "Sheet home the fore royal!" "Weather sheets home!"—"Lee sheets home!"—"Hoist away, sir!" is bawled from aloft. "Overhaul your clew-lines!" shouts the mate. "Ay, ay, sir! all clear!" "Taut leech! belay! Well the lee brace; haul taut to windward,"—and the royals were set. These brought us up again; but the wind continuing light, the California set hers, and it was soon evident that she was walking away from us. Our captain then hailed and said that he should keep off to his course; adding, "She isn't the Alert now. If I had her in your trim she would have been out of sight by this time." This was good-naturedly answered from the California, and she braced sharp up, and stood close upon the wind up the coast; while we squared away our yards, and stood before the wind to the south-southwest. The California's crew manned her weather rigging, waved their hats in the air, and gave us three hearty cheers, which we answered as heartily, and the customary single cheer came back to us from over the water. She stood on her way, doomed to eighteen months' or two years' hard service upon that hated coast; while we were making our way home, to which every hour and every mile was bringing us nearer.





To acquire a love for the best poetry, and a just understanding of it, is the chief end of the study of literature; for it is by means of poetry that the imagination is quickened, nurtured, and invigorated, and it is only through the exercise of his imagination that man can live a life that is in a true sense worth living. For it is the imagination which lifts him from the petty, transient, and physical interests that engross the greater part of his time and thoughts in self-regarding pursuits, to the large, permanent, and spiritual interests that ennoble his nature, and transform him from a solitary individual into a member of the brotherhood of the human race.

In the poet the imagination works more powerfully and consistently than in other men, and thus qualifies him to become the teacher and inspirer of his fellows. He sees men, by its means, more clearly than they see themselves; he discloses them to themselves, and reveals to them their own dim ideals. He becomes the interpreter of his age to itself; and not merely of his own age is he the interpreter, but of man to man in all ages. For change as the world may in outward aspect, with the rise and fall of empires,—change as men may, from generation to generation, in knowledge, belief, and manners,—human nature remains unalterable in its elements, unchanged from age to age; and it is human nature, under its various guises, with which the great poets deal.

The Iliad and the Odyssey do not become antiquated to us. The characters of Shakespeare are perpetually modern. Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, stand alone in the closeness of their relation to nature. Each after his own manner gives us a view of life, as seen by the poetic imagination, such as no other poet has given to us. Homer, first of all poets, shows us individual personages sharply defined, but in the early stages of intellectual and moral development, the first representatives of the race at its conscious entrance upon the path of progress, with simple motives, simple theories of existence, simple and limited experience. He is plain and direct in the presentation of life, and in the substance no less than in the expression of his thought.

In Shakespeare's work the individual man is no less sharply defined, no less true to nature, but the long procession of his personages is wholly different in effect from that of the Iliad and the Odyssey. They have lost the simplicity of the older race; they are the products of a longer and more varied experience; they have become more complex. And Shakespeare is plain and direct neither in the substance of his thought nor in the expression of it. The world has grown older, and in the evolution of his nature man has become conscious of the irreconcilable paradoxes of life, and more or less aware that while he is infinite in faculty, he is also the quintessence of dust. But there is one essential characteristic in which Shakespeare and Homer resemble each other as poets,—that they both show to us the scene of life without the interference of their own personality. Each simply holds the mirror up to nature, and lets us see the reflection, without making comment on the show. If there be a lesson in it we must learn it for ourselves.

Dante comes between the two, and differs more widely from each of them than they from one another. They are primarily poets. He is primarily a moralist who is also a poet. Of Homer the man, and of Shakespeare the man, we know, and need to know, nothing; it is only with them as poets that we are concerned. But it is needful to know Dante as man, in order fully to appreciate him as poet. He gives us his world not as reflection from an unconscious and indifferent mirror, but as from a mirror that shapes and orders its reflections for a definite end beyond that of art, and extraneous to it. And in this lies the secret of Dante's hold upon so many and so various minds. He is the chief poet of man as a moral being.

To understand aright the work of any great poet we must know the conditions of his times; but this is not enough in the case of Dante. We must know not only the conditions of the generation to which he belonged, we must also know the specific conditions which shaped him into the man he was, and differentiated him from his fellows. How came he, endowed with a poetic imagination which puts him in the same class with Homer and Shakespeare, not to be content, like them, to give us a simple view of the phantasmagoria of life, but eager to use the fleeting images as instruments by which to enforce the lesson of righteousness, to set forth a theory of existence and a scheme of the universe?

The question cannot be answered without a consideration of the change wrought in the life and thoughts of men in Europe by the Christian doctrine as expounded and enforced by the Roman Church, and of the simultaneous changes in outward conditions resulting from the destruction of the ancient civilization, and the slow evolution of the modern world as it rose from the ruins of the old. The period which immediately preceded and followed the fall of the Roman Empire was too disorderly, confused, and broken for men during its course to be conscious of the directions in which they were treading. Century after century passed without settled institutions, without orderly language, without literature, without art. But institutions, languages, literature and art were germinating, and before the end of the eleventh century clear signs of a new civilization were manifest in Western Europe. The nations, distinguished by differences of race and history, were settling down within definite geographical limits; the various languages were shaping themselves for the uses of intercourse and of literature; institutions accommodated to actual needs were growing strong; here and there the social order was becoming comparatively tranquil and secure. Progress once begun became rapid, and the twelfth century is one of the most splendid periods of the intellectual life of man expressing itself in an infinite variety of noble and attractive forms. These new conditions were most strongly marked in France: in Provence at the South, and in and around the Ile de France at the North; and from both these regions a quickening influence diffused itself eastward into Italy.

The conditions of Italy throughout the Dark and Middle Ages were widely different from those of other parts of Europe. Through all the ruin and confusion of these centuries a tradition of ancient culture and ancient power was handed down from generation to generation, strongly affecting the imagination of the Italian people, whether recent invaders or descendants of the old population. Italy had never had a national unity and life, and the divisions of her different regions remained as wide in the later as in the earlier times; but there was one sentiment which bound all her various and conflicting elements in a common bond, which touched every Italian heart and roused every Italian imagination,—the sentiment of the imperial grandeur and authority of Rome. Shrunken, feeble, fallen as the city was, the thought of what she had once been still occupied the fancy of the Italian people, determined their conceptions of the government of the world, and quickened within them a glow of patriotic pride. Her laws were still the main fount of whatsoever law existed for the maintenance of public and private right; the imperial dignity, however interrupted in transmission, however often assumed by foreign and barbarian conquerors, was still, to the imagination, supreme above all other earthly titles; the story of Roman deeds was known of all men; the legends of Roman heroes were the familiar tales of infancy and age. Cities that had risen since Rome fell claimed, with pardonable falsehood, to have had their origin from her, and their rulers adopted the designations of her consuls and her senators. The fragments of her literature that had survived the destruction of her culture were the models for the rude writers of ignorant centuries, and her language formed the basis for the new language which was gradually shaping itself in accordance with the slowly growing needs of expression. The traces of her material dominion, the ruins of her wide arch of empire, were still to be found from the far West to the farther East, and were but the types and emblems of her moral dominion in the law, the language, the customs, the traditions of the different lands. Nothing in the whole course of profane history has so affected the imaginations of men, or so influenced their destinies, as the achievements and authority of Rome.

The Roman Church inherited, together with the city, the tradition of Roman dominion over the world. Ancient Rome largely shaped modern Christianity,—by the transmission of the idea of the authority which the Empire once exerted to the Church which grew up upon its ruins. The tremendous drama of Roman history displayed itself to the imagination from scene to scene, from act to act, with completeness of poetic progress and climax,—first the growth, the extension, the absoluteness of material supremacy, the heathen being made the instruments of Divine power for preparing the world for the revelation of the true God; then the tragedy of Christ's death wrought by Roman hands, and the expiation of it in the fall of the Roman imperial power; followed by the new era in which Rome again was asserting herself as mistress of the world, but now with spiritual instead of material supremacy, and with a dominion against which the gates of hell itself should not prevail.

It was, indeed, not at once that this conception of the Church as the inheritor of the rights of Rome to the obedience of mankind took form. It grew slowly and against opposition. But at the end of the eleventh century, through the genius of Pope Gregory VII., the ideas hitherto disputed, of the supreme authority of the Pope within the Church and of the supremacy of the Church over the State, were established as the accepted ecclesiastical theory, and adopted as the basis of the definitely organized ecclesiastical system. Little more than a hundred years later, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, Innocent III. enforced the claims of the Church with a vigor and ability hardly less than that of his great predecessor, maintaining openly that the Pope—Pontifex Maximus—was the vicar of God upon earth.

This theory was the logical conclusion from a long series of historic premises; and resting upon a firm foundation of dogma, it was supported by the genuine belief, no less than by the worldly interests and ambitions, of those who profited by it. The ideal it presented was at once a simple and a noble conception,—narrow indeed, for the ignorance of men was such that only narrow conceptions, in matters relating to the nature and destiny of man and the order of the universe, were possible. But it was a theory that offered an apparently sufficient solution of the mysteries of religion, of the relation between God and man, between the visible creation and the unseen world. It was a theory of a material rather than a spiritual order: it reduced the things of the spirit into terms of the things of the flesh. It was crude, it was easily comprehensible, it was fitted to the mental conditions of the age.

The power which the Church claimed, and which to a large degree it exercised over the imagination and over the conduct of the Middle Ages, was the power which belonged to its head as the earthly representative and vicegerent of God. No wonder that such power was often abused, and that the corruption among the ministers of the Church was wide-spread. Yet in spite of abuse, in spite of corruption, the Church was the ark of civilization.

The religious—no less than the intellectual—life of Europe had revived in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and had displayed its fervor in the marvels of Crusades and of church-building,—external modes of manifesting zeal for the glory of God, and ardor for personal salvation. But with the progress of intelligence the spirit which had found its expression in these modes of service, now, in the thirteenth century in Italy, fired the hearts of men with an even more intense and far more vital flame, quickening within them sympathies which had long lain dormant, and which now at last burst into activity in efforts and sacrifices for the relief of misery, and for the bringing of all men within the fold of Christian brotherhood. St. Francis and St. Dominic, in founding their orders, and in setting an example to their brethren, only gave measure and direction to a common impulse.

Yet such were the general hardness of heart and cruelty of temper which had resulted from the centuries of violence, oppression, and suffering, out of which Italy with the rest of Europe was slowly emerging, that the strivings of religious emotion and the efforts of humane sympathy were less powerful to bring about an improvement in social order than influences which had their root in material conditions. Chief among these was the increasing strength of the civic communities, through the development of industry and of commerce. The people of the cities, united for the protection of their common interests, were gaining a sense of power. The little people, as they were called,—mechanics, tradesmen, and the like,—were organizing themselves, and growing strong enough to compel the great to submit to the restrictions of a more or less orderly and peaceful life. In spite of the violent contentions of the great, in spite of frequent civic uproar, of war with neighbors, of impassioned party disputes, in spite of incessant interruptions of their tranquillity, many of the cities of Italy were advancing in prosperity and wealth. No one of them made more rapid and steady progress than Florence.

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