MEMORIALS, AND OTHER PAPERS, VOL. I.
BY THOMAS DE QUINCEY
FROM THE AUTHOR, TO THE AMERICAN EDITOR OF HIS WORKS.
These papers I am anxious to put into the hands of your house, and, so far as regards the U.S., of your house exclusively; not with any view to further emolument, but as an acknowledgment of the services which you have already rendered me; namely, first, in having brought together so widely scattered a collection—a difficulty which in my own hands by too painful an experience I had found from nervous depression to be absolutely insurmountable; secondly, in having made me a participator in the pecuniary profits of the American edition, without solicitation or the shadow of any expectation on my part, without any legal claim that I could plead, or equitable warrant in established usage, solely and merely upon your own spontaneous motion. Some of these new papers, I hope, will not be without their value in the eyes of those who have taken an interest in the original series. But at all events, good or bad, they are now tendered to the appropriation of your individual house, the Messrs. TICKNOR & FIELDS, according to the amplest extent of any power to make such a transfer that I may be found to possess by law or custom in America.
I wish this transfer were likely to be of more value. But the veriest trifle, interpreted by the spirit in which I offer it, may express my sense of the liberality manifested throughout this transaction by your honorable house.
Ever believe me, my dear sir,
Your faithful and obliged,
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
EXPLANATORY NOTICES THE ORPHAN HEIRESS. VISIT TO LAXTON THE PRIORY OXFORD THE PAGAN ORACLES THE REVOLUTION OF GREECE
Many of the papers in my collected works were originally written under one set of disadvantages, and are now revised under another. They were written generally under great pressure as to time, in order to catch the critical periods of monthly journals; written oftentimes at a distance from the press (so as to have no opportunity for correction); and always written at a distance from libraries, so that very many statements, references, and citations, were made on the authority of my unassisted memory. Under such circumstances were most of the papers composed; and they are now reissued in a corrected form, sometimes even partially recast, under the distraction of a nervous misery which embarrasses my efforts in a mode and in a degree inexpressible by words. Such, indeed, is the distress produced by this malady, that, if the present act of republication had in any respect worn the character of an experiment, I should have shrunk from it in despondency. But the experiment, so far as there was any, had been already tried for me vicariously amongst the Americans; a people so nearly repeating our own in style of intellect, and in the composition of their reading class, that a success amongst them counts for a success amongst ourselves. For some few of the separate papers in these volumes I make pretensions of a higher cast. These pretensions I will explain hereafter. All the rest I resign to the reader's unbiased judgment, adding here, with respect to four of them, a few prefatory words—not of propitiation or deprecation, but simply in explanation as to points that would otherwise be open to misconstruction.
1. The paper on "Murder as one of the Fine Arts" [Footnote: Published in the "Miscellaneous Essays."] seemed to exact from me some account of Williams, the dreadful London murderer of the last generation; not only because the amateurs had so much insisted on his merit as the supreme of artists for grandeur of design and breadth of style; and because, apart from this momentary connection with my paper, the man himself merited a record for his matchless audacity, combined with so much of snaky subtlety, and even insinuating amiableness, in his demeanor; but also because, apart from the man himself, the works of the man (those two of them especially which so profoundly impressed the nation in 1812) were in themselves, for dramatic effect, the most impressive on record. Southey pronounced their preeminence when he said to me that they ranked amongst the few domestic events which, by the depth and the expansion of horror attending them, had risen to the dignity of a national interest. I may add that this interest benefited also by the mystery which invested the murders; mystery as to various points but especially as respected one important question, Had the murderer any accomplice? [Footnote: Upon a large overbalance of probabilities, it was, however, definitively agreed amongst amateurs that Williams must have been alone in these atrocities. Meantime, amongst the colorable presumptions on the other side was this:—Some hours after the last murder, a man was apprehended at Barnet (the first stage from London on a principal north road), encumbered with a quantity of plate. How he came by it, or whither he was going, he steadfastly refused to say. In the daily journals, which he was allowed to see, he read with eagerness the police examinations of Williams; and on the same day which announced the catastrophe of Williams, he also committed suicide in his cell.] There was, therefore, reason enough, both in the man's hellish character, and in the mystery which surrounded him, for a Postscript [Footnote: Published in the "Note Book."] to the original paper; since, in a lapse of forty-two years, both the man and his deeds had faded away from the knowledge of the present generation; but still I am sensible that my record is far too diffuse. Feeling this at the very time of writing, I was yet unable to correct it; so little self-control was I able to exercise under the afflicting agitations and the unconquerable impatience of my nervous malady.
2. "War." [Footnote: Published in "Narrative and Miscellaneous Essays."]—In this paper, from having faultily adjusted its proportions in the original outline, I find that I have dwelt too briefly and too feebly upon the capital interest at stake. To apply a correction to some popular misreadings of history, to show that the criminal (because trivial) occasions of war are not always its trifle causes, or to suggest that war (if resigned to its own natural movement of progress) is cleansing itself and ennobling itself constantly and inevitably, were it only through its connection with science ever more and more exquisite, and through its augmented costliness,—all this may have its use in offering some restraint upon the levity of action or of declamation in Peace Societies. But all this is below the occasion. I feel that far grander interests are at stake in this contest. The Peace Societies are falsely appreciated, when they are described as merely deaf to the lessons of experience, and as too "romantic" in their expectations. The very opposite is, to my thinking, their criminal reproach. He that is romantic errs usually by too much elevation. He violates the standard of reasonable expectation, by drawing too violently upon the nobilities of human nature. But, on the contrary, the Peace Societies would, if their power kept pace with their guilty purposes, work degradation for man by drawing upon his most effeminate and luxurious cravings for ease. Most heartily, and with my profoundest sympathy, do I go along with Wordsworth in his grand lyrical proclamation of a truth not less divine than it is mysterious, not less triumphant than it is sorrowful, namely, that amongst God's holiest instruments for the elevation of human nature is "mutual slaughter" amongst men; yes, that "Carnage is God's daughter." Not deriving my own views in this matter from Wordsworth,—not knowing even whether I hold them on the same grounds, since Wordsworth has left his grounds unexplained,—nevertheless I cite them in honor, as capable of the holiest justification. The instruments rise in grandeur, carnage and mutual slaughter rise in holiness, exactly as the motives and the interests rise on behalf of which such awful powers are invoked. Fighting for truth in its last recesses of sanctity, for human dignity systematically outraged, or for human rights mercilessly trodden under foot—champions of such interests, men first of all descry, as from a summit suddenly revealed, the possible grandeur of bloodshed suffered or inflicted. Judas and Simon Maccabus in days of old, Gustavus Adolphus [Footnote: The Thirty Years' War, from 1618 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, was notoriously the last and the decisive conflict between Popery and Protestantism; the result of that war it was which finally enlightened all the Popish princes of Christendom as to the impossibility of ever suppressing the antagonist party by mere force of arms. I am not meaning, however, to utter any opinion whatever on the religious position of the two great parties. It is sufficient for entire sympathy with the royal Swede, that he fought for the freedom of conscience. Many an enlightened Roman Catholic, supposing only that he were not a Papist, would have given his hopes and his confidence to the Protestant king.] in modern days, fighting for the violated rights of conscience against perfidious despots and murdering oppressors, exhibit to us the incarnations of Wordsworth's principle. Such wars are of rare occurrence. Fortunately they are so; since, under the possible contingencies of human strength and weakness, it might else happen that the grandeur of the principle should suffer dishonor through the incommensurate means for maintaining it. But such cases, though emerging rarely, are always to be reserved in men's minds as ultimate appeals to what is most divine in man. Happy it is for human welfare that the blind heart of man is a thousand times wiser than his understanding. An arrire pense should lie hidden in all minds—a holy reserve as to cases which may arise similar to such as HAVE arisen, where a merciful bloodshed [Footnote: "Merciful bloodshed"—In reading either the later religious wars of the Jewish people under the Maccabees, or the earlier under Joshua, every philosophic reader will have felt the true and transcendent spirit of mercy which resides virtually in such wars, as maintaining the unity of God against Polytheism and, by trampling on cruel idolatries, as indirectly opening the channels for benign principles of morality through endless generations of men. Here especially he will have read one justification of Wordsworth's bold doctrine upon war. Thus far he will destroy a wisdom working from afar, but, as regards the immediate present, he will be apt to adopt the ordinary view, namely, that in the Old Testament severity prevails approaching to cruelty. Yet, on consideration, he will be disposed to qualify this opinion. He will have observed many indications of a relenting kindness and a tenderness of love in the Mosaical ordinances. And recently there has been suggested another argument tending to the same conclusion. In the last work of Mr. Layard ('Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, 1853') are published some atrocious monuments of the Assyrian cruelty in the treatment of military captives. In one of the plates of Chap xx., at page 456, is exhibited some unknown torture applied to the head, and in another, at page 458, is exhibited the abominable process, applied to two captives, of flaying them alive. One such case had been previously recorded in human literature, and illustrated by a plate. It occurs in a Dutch voyage to the islands of the East. The subject of the torment in that case as a woman who had been charged with some act of infidelity to her husband. And the local government, being indignantly summoned to interfere by some Christian strangers, had declined to do so, on the plea that the man was master within his own house. But the Assyrian case was worse. This torture was there applied, not upon a sudden vindictive impulse, but in cold blood, to a simple case apparently of civil disobedience or revolt. Now, when we consider how intimate, and how ancient, was the connection between Assyria and Palestine, how many things (in war especially) were transferred mediately through the intervening tribes (all habitually cruel), from the people on the Tigris to those on the Jordan, I feel convinced that Moses must have interfered most peremptorily and determinately, and not merely by verbal ordinances, but by establishing counter usages against this spirit of barbarity, otherwise it would have increased contagiously, whereas we meet with no such hellish atrocities amongst the children of Israel. In the case of one memorable outrage by a Hebrew tribe, the national vengeance which overtook it was complete and tearful beyond all that history has recorded] has been authorized by the express voice of God. Such a reserve cannot be dispensed with. It belongs to the principle of progress in man that he should forever keep open a secret commerce in the last resort with the spirit of martyrdom on behalf of man's most saintly interests. In proportion as the instruments for upholding or retrieving such saintly interests should come to be dishonored or less honored, would the inference be valid that those interests were shaking in their foundations. And any confederation or compact of nations for abolishing war would be the inauguration of a downward path for man.
A battle is by possibility the grandest, and also the meanest, of human exploits. It is the grandest when it is fought for godlike truth, for human dignity, or for human rights; it is the meanest when it is fought for petty advantages (as, by way of example, for accession of territory which adds nothing to the security of a frontier), and still more when it is fought simply as a gladiator's trial of national prowess. This is the principle upon which, very naturally, our British school-boys value a battle. Painful it is to add, that this is the principle upon which our adult neighbors the French seem to value a battle.
To any man who, like myself, admires the high-toned, martial gallantry of the French, and pays a cheerful tribute of respect to their many intellectual triumphs, it is painful to witness the childish state of feeling which the French people manifest on every possible question that connects itself at any point with martial pretensions. A battle is valued by them on the same principles, not better and not worse, as govern our own schoolboys. Every battle is viewed by the boys as a test applied to the personal prowess of each individual soldier; and, naturally amongst boys, it would be the merest hypocrisy to take any higher ground. But amongst adults, arrived at the power of reflecting and comparing, we look for something nobler. We English estimate Waterloo, not by its amount of killed and wounded, but as the battle which terminated a series of battles, having one common object, namely, the overthrow of a frightful tyranny. A great sepulchral shadow rolled away from the face of Christendom as that day's sun went down to his rest; for, had the success been less absolute, an opportunity would have offered for negotiation, and consequently for an infinity of intrigues through the feuds always gathering upon national jealousies amongst allied armies. The dragon would soon have healed his wounds; after which the prosperity of the despotism would have been greater than before. But, without reference to Waterloo in particular, we, on our part, find it impossible to contemplate any memorable battle otherwise than according to its tendency towards some commensurate object. To the French this must be impossible, seeing that no lofty (that is, no disinterested) purpose has ever been so much as counterfeited for a French war, nor therefore for a French battle. Aggression, cloaked at the very utmost in the garb of retaliation for counter aggressions on the part of the enemy, stands forward uniformly in the van of such motives as it is thought worth while to plead. But in French casuistry it is not held necessary to plead anything; war justifies itself. To fight for the experimental purpose of trying the proportions of martial merit, but (to speak frankly) for the purpose of publishing and renewing to Europe the proclamation of French superiority—that is the object of French wars. Like the Spartan of old, the Frenchman would hold that a state of peace, and not a state of war, is the state which calls for apology; and that already from the first such an apology must wear a very suspicious aspect of paradox.
3. "The English Mail-Coach." [Footnote: Published in the "Miscellaneous Essays."]—This little paper, according to my original intention, formed part of the "Suspiria de Profundis," from which, for a momentary purpose, I did not scruple to detach it, and to publish it apart, as sufficiently intelligible even when dislocated from its place in a larger whole. To my surprise, however, one or two critics, not carelessly in conversation, but deliberately in print, professed their inability to apprehend the meaning of the whole, or to follow the links of the connection between its several parts. I am myself as little able to understand where the difficulty lies, or to detect any lurking obscurity, as those critics found themselves to unravel my logic. Possibly I may not be an indifferent and neutral judge in such a case. I will therefore sketch a brief abstract of the little paper according to my own original design, and then leave the reader to judge how far this design is kept in sight through the actual execution.
Thirty-seven years ago, or rather more, accident made me, in the dead of night, and of a night memorably solemn, the solitary witness to an appalling scene, which threatened instant death, in a shape the most terrific, to two young people, whom I had no means of assisting, except in so far as I was able to give them a most hurried warning of their danger; but even that not until they stood within the very shadow of the catastrophe, being divided from the most frightful of deaths by scarcely more, if more at all, than seventy seconds.
Such was the scene, such in its outline, from which the whole of this paper radiates as a natural expansion. The scene is circumstantially narrated in Section the Second, entitled, "The Vision of Sudden Death."
But a movement of horror and of spontaneous recoil from this dreadful scene naturally carried the whole of that scene, raised and idealised, into my dreams, and very soon into a rolling succession of dreams. The actual scene, as looked down upon from the box of the mail, was transformed into a dream, as tumultuous and changing as a musical fugue. This troubled Dream is circumstantially reported in Section the Third, entitled, "Dream-Fugue upon the Theme of Sudden Death." What I had beheld from my seat upon the mail,—the scenical strife of action and passion, of anguish and fear, as I had there witnessed them moving in ghostly silence; this duel between life and death narrowing itself to a point of such exquisite evanescence as the collision neared,—all these elements of the scene blended, under the law of association, with the previous and permanent features of distinction investing the mail itself, which features at that time lay—1st, in velocity unprecedented; 2dly, in the power and beauty of the horses: 3dly, in the official connection with the government of a great nation; and, 4thly, in the function, almost a consecrated function, of publishing and diffusing through the land the great political events, and especially the great battles during a conflict of unparalleled grandeur. These honorary distinctions are all described circumstantially in the FIRST or introductory section ("The Glory of Motion"). The three first were distinctions maintained at all times; but the fourth and grandest belonged exclusively to the war with Napoleon; and this it was which most naturally introduced Waterloo into the dream. Waterloo, I understood, was the particular feature of the "Dream-Fugue" which my censors were least able to account for. Yet surely Waterloo, which, in common with every other great battle, it had been our special privilege to publish over all the land, most naturally entered the Dream under the license of our privilege. If not—if there be anything amiss—let the Dream be responsible. The Dream is a law to itself; and as well quarrel with a rainbow for showing, or for not showing, a secondary arch. So far as I know, every element in the shifting movements of the Dream derived itself either primarily from the incidents of the actual scene, or from secondary features associated with the mail. For example, the cathedral aisle derived itself from the mimic combination of features which grouped themselves together at the point of approaching collision, namely, an arrow-like section of the road, six hundred yards long, under the solemn lights described, with lofty trees meeting overhead in arches. The guard's horn, again—a humble instrument in itself—was yet glorified as the organ of publication for so many great national events. And the incident of the Dying Trumpeter, who rises from a marble bas-relief, and carries a marble trumpet to his marble lips for the purpose of warning the female infant, was doubtless secretly suggested by my own imperfect effort to seize the guard's horn, and to blow a warning blast. But the Dream knows best; and the Dream, I say again, is the responsible party.
4. "The Spanish Nun." [Footnote: Published in "Narrative and Miscellaneous Essays."]—There are some narratives, which, though pure fictions from first to last, counterfeit so vividly the air of grave realities, that, if deliberately offered for such, they would for a time impose upon everybody. In the opposite scale there are other narratives, which, whilst rigorously true, move amongst characters and scenes so remote from our ordinary experience, and through, a state of society so favorable to an adventurous cast of incidents, that they would everywhere pass for romances, if severed from the documents which attest their fidelity to facts. In the former class stand the admirable novels of De Foe; and, on a lower range, within the same category, the inimitable "Vicar of Wakefield;" upon which last novel, without at all designing it, I once became the author of the following instructive experiment. I had given a copy of this little novel to a beautiful girl of seventeen, the daughter of a statesman in Westmoreland, not designing any deception (nor so much as any concealment) with respect to the fictitious character of the incidents and of the actors in that famous tale. Mere accident it was that had intercepted those explanations as to the extent of fiction in these points which in this case it would have been so natural to make. Indeed, considering the exquisite verisimilitude of the work meeting with such absolute inexperience in the reader, it was almost a duty to have made them. This duty, however, something had caused me to forget; and when next I saw the young mountaineer, I forgot that I had forgotten it. Consequently, at first I was perplexed by the unfaltering gravity with which my fair young friend spoke of Dr. Primrose, of Sophia and her sister, of Squire Thornhill, &c., as real and probably living personages, who could sue and be sued. It appeared that this artless young rustic, who had never heard of novels and romances as a bare possibility amongst all the shameless devices of London swindlers, had read with religious fidelity every word of this tale, so thoroughly life-like, surrendering her perfect faith and her loving sympathy to the different persons in the tale, and the natural distresses in which they are involved, without suspecting, for a moment, that by so much as a breathing of exaggeration or of embellishment the pure gospel truth of the narrative could have been sullied. She listened, in a kind of breathless stupor, to my frank explanation—that not part only, but the whole, of this natural tale was a pure invention. Scorn and indignation flashed from her eyes. She regarded herself as one who had been hoaxed and swindled; begged me to take back the book; and never again, to the end of her life, could endure to look into the book, or to be reminded of that criminal imposture which Dr. Oliver Goldsmith had practised upon her youthful credulity.
In that case, a book altogether fabulous, and not meaning to offer itself for anything else, had been read as genuine history. Here, on the other hand, the adventures of the Spanish Nun, which in every detail of time and place have since been sifted and authenticated, stood a good chance at one period of being classed as the most lawless of romances. It is, indeed, undeniable, and this arises as a natural result from the bold, adventurous character of the heroine, and from the unsettled state of society at that period in Spanish America, that a reader the most credulous would at times be startled with doubts upon what seems so unvarying a tenor of danger and lawless violence. But, on the other hand, it is also undeniable that a reader the most obstinately sceptical would be equally startled in the very opposite direction, on remarking that the incidents are far from being such as a romance-writer would have been likely to invent; since, if striking, tragic, and even appalling, they are at times repulsive. And it seems evident that, once putting himself to the cost of a wholesale fiction, the writer would have used his privilege more freely for his own advantage. Whereas the author of these memoirs clearly writes under the coercion and restraint of a notorious reality, that would not suffer him to ignore or to modify the leading facts. Then, as to the objection that few people or none have an experience presenting such uniformity of perilous adventure, a little closer attention shows that the experience in this case is not uniform; and so far otherwise, that a period of several years in Kate's South American life is confessedly suppressed; and on no other ground whatever than that this long parenthesis is not adventurous, not essentially differing from the monotonous character of ordinary Spanish life.
Suppose the case, therefore, that Kate's memoirs had been thrown upon the world with no vouchers for their authenticity beyond such internal presumptions as would have occurred to thoughtful readers, when reviewing the entire succession of incidents, I am of opinion that the person best qualified by legal experience to judge of evidence would finally have pronounced a favorable award; since it is easy to understand that in a world so vast as the Peru, the Mexico, the Chili, of Spaniards during the first quarter of the seventeenth century, and under the slender modification of Indian manners as yet effected by the Papal Christianization of those countries, and in the neighborhood of a river-system so awful, of a mountain-system so unheard-of in Europe, there would probably, by blind, unconscious sympathy, grow up a tendency to lawless and gigantesque ideals of adventurous life; under which, united with the duelling code of Europe, many things would become trivial and commonplace experiences that to us home-bred English ("qui musas colimus severiores") seem monstrous and revolting.
Left, therefore, to itself, my belief is, that the story of the Military Nun would have prevailed finally against the demurs of the sceptics. However, in the mean time, all such demurs were suddenly and officially silenced forever. Soon after the publication of Kate's memoirs, in what you may call an early stage of her literary career, though two centuries after her personal career had closed, a regular controversy arose upon the degree of credit due to these extraordinary confessions (such they may be called) of the poor conscience-haunted nun. Whether these in Kate's original MS. were entitled "Autobiographic Sketches," or "Selections Grave and Gay," from the military experiences of a Nun, or possibly "The Confessions of a Biscayan Fire-Eater," is more than I know. No matter: confessions they were; and confessions that, when at length published, were absolutely mobbed and hustled by a gang of misbelieving (that is, miscreant) critics. And this fact is most remarkable, that the person who originally headed the incredulous party, namely, Senor de Ferrer, a learned Castilian, was the very same who finally authenticated, by documentary evidence, the extraordinary narrative in those parts which had most of all invited scepticism. The progress of the dispute threw the decision at length upon the archives of the Spanish Marine. Those for the southern ports of Spain had been transferred, I believe, from Cadiz and St. Lucar to Seville; chiefly, perhaps, through the confusions incident to the two French invasions of Spain in our own day [1st, that under Napoleon; 2dly, that under the Due d'Angoulme]. Amongst these archives, subsequently amongst those of Cuzco, in South America; 3dly, amongst the records of some royal courts in Madrid; 4thly, by collateral proof from the Papal Chancery; 5thly, from Barcelona—have been drawn together ample attestations of all the incidents recorded by Kate. The elopement from St. Sebastian's, the doubling of Cape Horn, the shipwreck on the coast of Peru, the rescue of the royal banner from the Indians of Chili, the fatal duel in the dark, the astonishing passage of the Andes, the tragical scenes at Tucuman and Cuzco, the return to Spain in obedience to a royal and a papal summons, the visit to Rome and the interview with the Pope— finally, the return to South America, and the mysterious disappearance at Vera Cruz, upon which no light was ever thrown—all these capital heads of the narrative have been established beyond the reach of scepticism: and, in consequence, the story was soon after adopted as historically established, and was reported at length by journals of the highest credit in Spain and Germany, and by a Parisian journal so cautious and so distinguished for its ability as the Revue des Deux Mondes.
I must not leave the impression upon my readers that this complex body of documentary evidences has been searched and appraised by myself. Frankly I acknowledge that, on the sole occasion when any opportunity offered itself for such a labor, I shrank from it as too fatiguing—and also as superfluous; since, if the proofs had satisfied the compatriots of Catalina, who came to the investigation with hostile feelings of partisanship, and not dissembling their incredulity,—armed also (and in Mr. de Ferrer's case conspicuously armed) with the appropriate learning for giving effect to this incredulity,—it could not become a stranger to suppose himself qualified for disturbing a judgment that had been so deliberately delivered. Such a tribunal of native Spaniards being satisfied, there was no further opening for demur. The ratification of poor Kate's memoirs is now therefore to be understood as absolute, and without reserve.
This being stated,—namely, such an attestation from competent authorities to the truth of Kate's narrative as may save all readers from my fair Westmoreland friend's disaster,—it remains to give such an answer, as without further research can be given, to a question pretty sure of arising in all reflective readers' thoughts— namely, does there anywhere survive a portrait of Kate? I answer—and it would be both mortifying and perplexing if I could not— Yes. One such portrait there is confessedly; and seven years ago this was to be found at Aix-la-Chapelle, in the collection of Herr Sempeller. The name of the artist I am not able to report; neither can I say whether Herr Sempeller's collection still remains intact, and remains at Aix-la-Chapelle.
But inevitably to most readers who review the circumstances of a case so extraordinary, it will occur that beyond a doubt many portraits of the adventurous nun must have been executed. To have affronted the wrath of the Inquisition, and to have survived such an audacity, would of itself be enough to found a title for the martial nun to a national interest. It is true that Kate had not taken the veil; she had stopped short of the deadliest crime known to the Inquisition; but still her transgressions were such as to require a special indulgence; and this indulgence was granted by a Pope to the intercession of a king—the greatest then reigning. It was a favor that could not have been asked by any greater man in this world, nor granted by any less. Had no other distinction settled upon Kate, this would have been enough to fix the gaze of her own nation. But her whole life constituted Kate's supreme distinction. There can be no doubt, therefore, that, from the year 1624 (that is, the last year of our James I.), she became the object of an admiration in her own country that was almost idolatrous. And this admiration was not of a kind that rested upon any partisan-schism amongst her countrymen. So long as it was kept alive by her bodily presence amongst them, it was an admiration equally aristocratic and popular,—shared alike by the rich and the poor, by the lofty and the humble. Great, therefore, would be the demand for her portrait. There is a tradition that Velasquez, who had in 1623 executed a portrait of Charles I. (then Prince of Wales), was amongst those who in the three or four following years ministered to this demand. It is believed, also, that, in travelling from Genoa and Florence to Rome, she sat to various artists, in order to meet the interest about herself already rising amongst the cardinals and other dignitaries of the Romish church. It is probable, therefore, that numerous pictures of Kate are yet lurking both in Spain and Italy, but not known as such. For, as the public consideration granted to her had grown out of merits and qualities purely personal, and was kept alive by no local or family memorials rooted in the land, or surviving herself, it was inevitable that, as soon as she herself died, all identification of her portraits would perish: and the portraits would thenceforwards be confounded with the similar memorials, past all numbering, which every year accumulates as the wrecks from household remembrances of generations that are passing or passed, that are fading or faded, that are dying or buried. It is well, therefore, amongst so many irrecoverable ruins, that, in the portrait at Aix-la-Chapelle, we still possess one undoubted representation (and therefore in some degree a means for identifying other representations) of a female so memorably adorned by nature; gifted with capacities so unparalleled both of doing and suffering; who lived a life so stormy, and perished by a fate so unsearchably mysterious.
THE ORPHAN HEIRESS
VISIT TO LAXTON.
My route, after parting from Lord Westport at Birmingham, lay, as I have mentioned in the "Autobiographic Sketches," through Stamford to Laxton, the Northamptonshire seat of Lord Carbery. From Stamford, which I had reached by some intolerable old coach, such as in those days too commonly abused the patience and long-suffering of Young England, I took a post-chaise to Laxton. The distance was but nine miles, and the postilion drove well, so that I could not really have been long upon the road; and yet, from gloomy rumination upon the unhappy destination which I believed myself approaching within three or four months, never had I weathered a journey that seemed to me so long and dreary. As I alighted on the steps at Laxton, the first dinner-bell rang; and I was hurrying to my toilet, when my sister Mary, who had met me in the portico, begged me first of all to come into Lady Carbery's [Footnote: Lady Carbery.—"To me, individually, she was the one sole friend that ever I could regard as entirely fulfilling the offices of an honest friendship. She had known me from infancy; when I was in my first year of life, she, an orphan and a great heiress, was in her tenth or eleventh."—See closing pages of "Autobiographic Sketches."] dressing-room, her ladyship having something special to communicate, which related (as I understood her) to one Simon. "What Simon? Simon Peter?"—O, no, you irreverend boy, no Simon at all with an S, but Cymon with a C,—Dryden's Cymon,—
"That whistled as he went for want of thought.'"
This one indication was a key to the whole explanation that followed. The sole visitors, it seemed, at that time to Laxton, beside my sister and myself, were Lord and Lady Massey. They were understood to be domesticated at Laxton for a very long stay. In reality, my own private construction of the case (though unauthorized by anything ever hinted to me by Lady Carbery) was, that Lord Massey might probably be under some cloud of pecuniary embarrassments, such as suggested prudentially an absence from Ireland. Meantime, what was it that made him an object of peculiar interest to Lady Carbery? It was the singular revolution which, in one whom all his friends looked upon as sold to constitutional torpor, suddenly, and beyond all hope, had kindled a new and nobler life. Occupied originally by no shadow of any earthly interest, killed by ennui, all at once Lord Massey had fallen passionately in love with a fair young countrywoman, well connected, but bringing him no fortune (I report only from hearsay), and endowing him simply with the priceless blessing of her own womanly charms, her delightful society, and her sweet, Irish style of innocent gayety. No transformation that ever legends or romances had reported was more memorable. Lapse of time (for Lord Massey had now been married three or four years), and deep seclusion from general society, had done nothing, apparently, to lower the tone of his happiness. The expression of this happiness was noiseless and unobtrusive; no marks were there of vulgar uxoriousness—nothing that could provoke the sneer of the worldling; but not the less so entirely had the society of his young wife created a new principle of life within him, and evoked some nature hitherto slumbering, and which, no doubt, would else have continued to slumber till his death, that, at moments when he believed himself unobserved, he still wore the aspect of an impassioned lover.
"He beheld A vision, and adored the thing he saw. Arabian fiction never filled the world With half the wonders that were wrought for him. Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring Her chamber window did surpass in glory The portals of the dawn."
And in no case was it more literally realized, as daily almost I witnessed, that
"All Paradise Could, by the simple opening of a door, Let itself in upon him." [Footnote: Wordsworth's "Vandracour and Julia."]
For never did the drawing-room door open, and suddenly disclose the beautiful figure of Lady Massey, than a mighty cloud seemed to roll away from the young Irishman's brow. At this time it happened, and indeed it often happened, that Lord Carbery was absent in Ireland. It was probable, therefore, that during the long couple of hours through which the custom of those times bound a man to the dinner-table after the disappearance of the ladies, his time would hang heavily on his hands. To me, therefore, Lady Carbery looked, having first put me in possession of the case, for assistance to her hospitality, under the difficulties I have stated. She thoroughly loved Lady Massey, as, indeed, nobody could help doing; and for her sake, had there been no separate interest surrounding the young lord, it would have been most painful to her that through Lord Carbery's absence a periodic tedium should oppress her guest at that precise season of the day which traditionally dedicated itself to genial enjoyment. Glad, therefore, was she that an ally had come at last to Laxton, who might arm her purposes of hospitality with some powers of self-fulfilment. And yet, for a service of that nature, could she reasonably rely upon me? Odious is the hobble-de-hoy to the mature young man. Generally speaking, that cannot be denied. But in me, though naturally the shyest of human beings, intense commerce with men of every rank, from the highest to the lowest, had availed to dissipate all arrears of mauvaise honte; I could talk upon innumerable subjects; and, as the readiest means of entering immediately upon business, I was fresh from Ireland, knew multitudes of those whom Lord Massey either knew or felt an interest in, and, at that happy period of life, found it easy, with three or four glasses of wine, to call back the golden spirits which were now so often deserting me. Renovated, meantime, by a hot bath, I was ready at the second summons of the dinner-bell, and descended a new creature to the drawing-room. Here I was presented to the noble lord and his wife. Lord Massey was in figure shortish, but broad and stout, and wore an amiable expression of face. That I could execute Lady Carbery's commission, I felt satisfied at once. And, accordingly, when the ladies had retired from the dining-room, I found an easy opening, in various circumstances connected with the Laxton stables, for introducing naturally a picturesque and contrasting sketch of the stud and the stables at Westport. The stables and everything connected with the stables at Laxton were magnificent; in fact, far out of symmetry with the house, which, at that time, was elegant and comfortable, but not splendid. As usual in English establishments, all the appointments were complete, and carried to the same point of exquisite finish. The stud of hunters was first-rate and extensive; and the whole scene, at closing the stables for the night, was so splendidly arranged and illuminated, that Lady Carbery would take all her visitors once or twice a week to admire it. On the other hand, at Westport you might fancy yourself overlooking the establishment of some Albanian Pacha. Crowds of irregular helpers and grooms, many of them totally unrecognized by Lord Altamont, some half countenanced by this or that upper servant, some doubtfully tolerated, some not tolerated, but nevertheless slipping in by postern doors when the enemy had withdrawn, made up a strange mob as regarded the human element in this establishment. And Dean Browne regularly asserted that five out of six amongst these helpers he himself could swear to as active boys from Vinegar Hill. Trivial enough, meantime, in our eyes, was any little matter of rebellion that they might have upon their consciences. High treason we willingly winked at. But what we could not wink at was the systematic treason which they committed against our comfort, namely, by teaching our horses all imaginable tricks, and training them up in the way along which they should not go, so that when they were old they were very little likely to depart from it. Such a set of restive, hard-mouthed wretches as Lord Westport and I daily had to bestride, no tongue could describe. There was a cousin of Lord Westport's, subsequently created Lord Oranmore, distinguished for his horsemanship, and always splendidly mounted from his father's stables at Castle M'Garret, to whom our stormy contests with ruined tempers and vicious habits yielded a regular comedy of fun; and, in order to improve it, he would sometimes bribe Lord Westport's treacherous groom into misleading us, when floundering amongst bogs, into the interior labyrinths of these morasses. Deep, however, as the morass, was this man's remorse when, on leaving Westport, I gave him the heavy golden perquisite, which my mother (unaware of the tricks he had practised upon me) had by letter instructed me to give. He was a mere savage boy from the central bogs of Connaught, and, to the great amusement of Lord Westport, he persisted in calling me "your majesty" for the rest of that day; and by all other means open to him he expressed his penitence. But the dean insisted that, no matter for his penitence in the matter of the bogs, he had certainly carried a pike at Vinegar Hill; and probably had stolen a pair of boots at Furnes, when he kindly made a call at the Deanery, in passing through that place to the field of battle. It is always a pleasure to see the engineer of mischief "hoist with his own petard;" [Footnote: "Hamlet," but also "Ovid:"— "Lex nec justior ulla est, **Quam necis artifices arte perire sua."] and it happened that the horses assigned to draw a post-chariot carrying Lord Westport, myself, and the dean, on our return journey to Dublin, were a pair utterly ruined by a certain under-postilion, named Moran. This particular ruin did Mr. Moran boast to have contributed as his separate contribution to the general ruinations of the stables. And the particular object was, that his horses, and consequently himself, might be left in genial laziness. But, as Nemesis would have it, Mr. Moran was the charioteer specially appointed to this particular service. We were to return by easy journeys of twenty-five miles a day, or even less; since every such interval brought us to the house of some hospitable family, connected by friendship or by blood with Lord Altamont. Fervently had Lord Westport pleaded with his father for an allowance of four horses; not at all with any foolish view to fleeting aristocratic splendor, but simply to the luxury of rapid motion. But Lord Altamont was firm in resisting this petition at that time. The remote consequence was, that by way of redressing the violated equilibrium to our feelings, we subscribed throughout Wales to extort six horses from the astonished innkeepers, most of whom declined the requisition, and would furnish only four, on the plea that the leaders would only embarrass the other horses; but one at Bangor, from whom we coolly requested eight, recoiled from our demand as from a sort of miniature treason. How so? Because in this island he had always understood eight horses to be consecrated to royal use. Not at all, we assured him; Pickford, the great carrier, always horsed his wagons with eight. And the law knew of no distinction between wagon and post- chaise, coach-horse or cart-horse. However, we could not compass this point of the eight horses, the double quadriga, in one single instance; but the true reason we surmised to be, not the pretended puritanism of loyalty to the house of Guelph, but the running short of the innkeeper's funds. If he had to meet a daily average call for twenty-four horses, then it might well happen that our draft upon him for eight horses at one pull would bankrupt him for a whole day.
But I am anticipating. Returning to Ireland and Mr. Moran, the vicious driver of vicious horses, the immediate consequence to him of this unexpected limitation to a pair of horses was, that all his knavery in one hour recoiled upon himself. The horses whom he had himself trained to vice and restiveness, in the hope that thus his own services and theirs might be less in request, now became the very curse of his life. Every morning, duly as an attempt was made to put them in motion, they began to back, and no arts, gentle or harsh, would for a moment avail to coax or to corce them into the counter direction. Could retrogression by any metaphysics have been translated into progress, we excelled in that; it was our forte; we could have backed to the North Pole. That might be the way to glory, or at least to distinction—sic itur ad astra; unfortunately, it was not the way to Dublin. Consequently, on every day of our journey—and the days were ten—not once, but always, we had the same deadly conflict to repeat; and this being always unavailing, found its solution uniformly in the following ultimate resource. Two large-boned horses, usually taken from the plough, were harnessed on as leaders. By main force they hauled our wicked wheelers into the right direction, and forced them, by pure physical superiority, into working. We furnished a joyous and comic spectacle to every town and village through which we passed. The whole community, men and children, came out to assist at our departure; and all alike were diverted, but not the less irritated, by the demoniac obstinacy of the brutes, who seemed under the immediate inspiration of the fiend. Everybody was anxious to share in the scourging which was administered to them right and left; and once propelled into a gallop (or such a gallop as our Brobdignagian leaders could accomplish), they were forced into keeping it up. But, without rehearsing all the details of the case, it may be readily conceived that the amount of trouble distributed amongst our whole party was enormous. Once or twice the friends at whose houses we slept were able to assist us. But generally they either had no horses, or none of the commanding power demanded. Often, again, it happened, as our route was very circuitous, that no inns lay in our neighborhood; or, if there were inns, the horses proved to be of too slight a build. At Ballinasloe, and again at Athlone, half the town came out to help us; and, having no suitable horses, thirty or forty men, with shouts of laughter, pulled at ropes fastened to our pole and splinter- bar, and compelled the snorting demons into a flying gallop. But, naturally, a couple of miles saw this resource exhausted. Then came the necessity of "drawing the covers," as the dean called it; that is, hunting amongst the adjacent farmers for powerful cattle. This labor (O, Jupiter, thanks be for that!) fell upon Mr. Moran. And sometimes it would happen that the horses, which it had cost him three or four hours to find, could be spared only for four or five miles. Such a journey can rarely have been accomplished. Our zigzag course had prolonged it into from two hundred and thirty to two hundred and fifty miles; and it is literally true that, of this entire distance from Westport House to Sackville-street, Dublin, not one furlong had been performed under the spontaneous impulse of our own horses. Their diabolic resistance continued to the last. And one may venture to hope that the sense of final subjugation to man must have proved penally bitter to the horses. But, meantime, it vexes one that such wretches should be fed with good old hay and oats; as well littered down also in their stalls as a prebendary; and by many a stranger, ignorant of their true character, should have been patted and caressed. Let us hope that a fate, to which more than once they were nearly forcing us, namely, regress over a precipice, may ultimately have been their own. Once I saw such another case dramatically carried through to its natural crisis in the Liverpool Mail. It was on the stage leading into Lichfield; there was no conspiracy, as in our Irish case; one horse only out of the four was the criminal; and, according to the queen's bench (Denman, C. J.), there is no conspiracy competent to one agent; but he was even more signally under a demoniac possession of mutinous resistance to man. The case was really a memorable one. If ever there was a distinct proclamation of rebellion against man, it was made by that brutal horse; and I, therefore, being a passenger on the box, took a note of the case; and on a proper occasion I may be induced to publish it, unless some Houynhm should whinny against me a chancery injunction.
From these wild, Tartar-like stables of Connaught, how vast was the transition to that perfection of elegance, and of adaptation between means and ends, that reigned from centre to circumference through the stables at Laxton! _I_, as it happened, could report to Lord Massey their earlier condition; he to me could report their immediate changes. I won him easily to an interest in my own Irish experiences, so fresh, and in parts so grotesque, wilder also by much in Connaught than in Lord Massey's county of Limerick; whilst he (without affecting any delight in the hunting systems of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire) yet took pleasure in explaining to me those characteristic features of the English midland hunting as centralized at Melton, which even then gave to it the supreme rank for brilliancy and unity of effect amongst all varieties of the chase. [Footnote: If mere names were allowed to dazzle the judgment, how magnificent to a gallant young Englishman of twenty seems at first the _tiger- hunting_ of India, which yet (when examined searchingly) turns out the meanest and most _cowardly_ mode of hunting known to human experience. _Buffalo-hunting_ is much more dignified as regards the courageous exposure of the hunter; but, from all accounts, its excitement is too momentary and evanescent; one rifle-shot, and the crisis is past. Besides that, the generous and honest character of the buffalo disturbs the cordiality of the sport. The very opposite reason disturbs the interest of _lion-hunting, especially at the Cape. The lion is everywhere a cowardly wretch, unless when sublimed into courage by famine; but, in southern Africa, he is the most currish of enemies. Those who fancied so much adventurousness in the lion conflicts of Mr. Gordon Cumming appear never to have read the missionary travels of Mr. Moffat. The poor missionary, without any arms whatever, came to think lightly of half a dozen lions seen drinking through the twilight at the very same pond or river as himself. Nobody can have any wish to undervalue the adventurous gallantry of Mr. G. Cumming. But, in the single case of the Cape lion, there is an unintentional advantage taken from the traditional name of lion, as though the Cape lion were such as that which ranges the torrid zone.]
Horses had formed the natural and introductory topic of conversation between us. What we severally knew of Ireland, though in different quarters,—what we both knew of Laxton, the barbaric splendor, and the civilized splendor,—had naturally an interest for us both in their contrasts (at one time so picturesque, at another so grotesque), which illuminated our separate recollections. But my quick instinct soon made me aware that a jealousy was gathering in Lord Massey's mind around such a topic, as though too ostentatiously levelled to his particular knowledge, or to his animal condition of taste. But easily I slipped off into another key. At Laxton, it happened that the library was excellent. Founded by whom, I never heard; but certainly, when used by a systematic reader, it showed itself to have been systematically collected; it stretched pretty equably through two centuries,—namely, from about 1600 to 1800,—and might, perhaps, amount to seventeen thousand volumes. Lord Massey was far from illiterate; and his interest in books was unaffected, if limited, and too often interrupted, by defective knowledge. The library was dispersed through six or seven small rooms, lying between the drawing-room in one wing, and the dining-room in the opposite wing. This dispersion, however, already furnished the ground of a rude classification. In some one of these rooms was Lord Massey always to be found, from the forenoon to the evening. And was it any fault of his that his daughter, little Grace, about two years old, pursued him down from her nursery every morning, and insisted upon seeing innumerable pictures, lurking (as she had discovered) in many different recesses of the library? More and more from this quarter it was that we drew the materials of our daily after-dinner conversation. One great discouragement arises commonly to the student, where the particular library in which he reads has been so disordinately collected that he cannot pursue a subject once started. Now, at Laxton, the books had been so judiciously brought together, so many hooks and eyes connected them, that the whole library formed what one might call a series of strata, naturally allied, through which you might quarry your way consecutively for many months. On rainy days, and often enough one had occasion to say through rainy weeks, what a delightful resource did this library prove to both of us! And one day it occurred to us, that, whereas the stables and the library were both jewels of attraction, the latter had been by much the least costly. Pretty often I have found, when any opening has existed for making the computation, that, in a library containing a fair proportion of books illustrated with plates, about ten shillings a volume might be taken as expressing, upon a sufficiently large number of volumes, small and great, the fair average cost of the whole. On this basis, the library at Laxton would have cost less than nine thousand pounds. On the other hand, thirty-live horses (hunters, racers, roadsters, carriage-horses, etc.) might have cost about eight thousand pounds, or a little more. But the library entailed no permanent cost beyond the annual loss of interest; the books did not eat, and required no aid from veterinary [Footnote: "Veterinary."—By the way, whence comes this odd-looking word? The word veterana I have met with in monkish writers, to express domesticated quadrupeds; and evidently from that word must have originated the word veterinary. But the question is still but one step removed; for, how came veterana by that acceptation in rural economy?] surgeons; whereas, for the horses, not only such ministrations were intermittingly required, but a costly permanent establishment of grooms and helpers. Lord Carbery, who had received an elaborate Etonian education, was even more earnestly a student than his friend Lord Massey, who had probably been educated at home under a private tutor. He read everything connected with general politics (meaning by general not personal politics) and with social philosophy. At Laxton, indeed; it was that I first saw Godwin's "Political Justice;" not the second and emasculated edition in octavo, but the original quarto edition, with all its virus as yet undiluted of raw anti-social Jacobinism.
At Laxton it was that I first saw the entire aggregate labors, brigaded, as it were, and paraded as if for martial review, of that most industrious benefactor to the early stages of our English historical literature, Thomas Hearne. Three hundred guineas, I believe, had been the price paid cheerfully at one time for a complete set of Hearne. At Laxton, also, it was that first I saw the total array of works edited by Dr. Birch. It was a complete armilustrium, a recognitio, or mustering, as it were, not of pompous Praetorian cohorts, or unique guardsmen, but of the yeomanry, the militia, or what, under the old form of expression, you might regard as the trained bands of our literature—the fund from which ultimately, or in the last resort, students look for the materials of our vast and myriad-faced literature. A French author of eminence, fifty years back, having occasion to speak of our English literature collectively, in reference to the one point of its variety, being also a man of honor, and disdaining that sort of patriotism which sacrifices the truth to nationality, speaks of our pretensions in these words: Les Anglois qui ont une littrature infiniment plus varie que la ntre. This fact is a feature in our national pretensions that could ever have been regarded doubtfully merely through insufficient knowledge. Dr. Johnson, indeed, made it the distinguishing merit of the French, that they "have a book upon every subject." But Dr. Johnson was not only capricious as regards temper and variable humors, but as regards the inequality of his knowledge. Incoherent and unsystematic was Dr. Johnson's information in most cases. Hence his extravagant misappraisement of Knolles, the Turkish historian, which is exposed so severely by Spittler, the German, who, again, is himself miserably superficial in his analysis of English history. Hence the feeble credulity which Dr. Johnson showed with respect to the forgery of De Foe (under the masque of Captain Carleton) upon the Catalonian campaign of Lord Peterborough. But it is singular that a literature, so unrivalled as ours in its compass and variety, should not have produced any, even the shallowest, manual of itself. And thus it happens, for example, that writers so laborious and serviceable as Birch are in any popular sense scarcely known. I showed to Lord Massey, among others of his works, that which relates to Lord Worcester's (that is, Lord Glamorgan's) negotiations with the Papal nuncio in Ireland, about the year 1644, &c. Connected with these negotiations were many names amongst Lord Massey's own ancestors; so that here he suddenly alighted upon a fund of archologic memorabilia, connecting what interested him as an Irishman in general with what most interested him as the head of a particular family. It is remarkable, also, as an indication of the general nobility and elevation which had accompanied the revolution in his life, that concurrently with the constitutional torpor previously besetting him, had melted away the intellectual torpor under which he had found books until recently of little practical value. Lady Carbery had herself told me that the two revolutions went on simultaneously. He began to take an interest in literature when life itself unfolded a new interest, under the companionship of his youthful wife. And here, by the way, as subsequently in scores of other instances, I saw broad evidences of the credulity with which we have adopted into our grave political faith the rash and malicious sketches of our novelists. With Fielding commenced the practice of systematically traducing our order of country gentlemen. His picture of Squire Western is not only a malicious, but also an incongruous libel. The squire's ordinary language is impossible, being alternately bookish and absurdly rustic. In reality, the conventional dialect ascribed to the rustic order in general—to peasants even more than to gentlemen—in our English plays and novels, is a childish and fantastic babble, belonging to no form of real breathing life; nowhere intelligible; not in any province; whilst, at the same time, all provinces—Somersetshire, Devonshire, Hampshire—are confounded with our midland counties; and positively the diction of Parricombe and Charricombe from Exmoor Forest is mixed up with the pure Icelandic forms of the English lakes, of North Yorkshire, and of Northumberland. In Scotland, it needs but a slight intercourse with the peasantry to distinguish various dialects—the Aberdonian and Fifeshire, for instance, how easily distinguished, even by an English alien, from the western dialects of Ayrshire, &c.! And I have heard it said, by Scottish purists in this matter, that even Sir Walter Scott is chargeable with considerable licentiousness in the management of his colloquial Scotch. Yet, generally speaking, it bears the strongest impress of truthfulness. But, on the other hand, how false and powerless does this same Sir Walter become, when the necessities of his tale oblige him at any time to come amongst the English peasantry! His magic wand is instantaneously broken; and he moves along by a babble of impossible forms, as fantastic as any that our London theatres have traditionally ascribed to English rustics, to English sailors, and to Irishmen universally. Fielding is open to the same stern criticism, as a deliberate falsehood-monger; and from the same cause—want of energy to face the difficulty of mastering a real living idiom. This defect in language, however, I cite only as one feature in the complex falsehood which disfigures Fielding's portrait of the English country gentleman. Meantime the question arises, Did he mean his Squire Western for a representative portrait? Possibly not. He might design it expressly as a sketch of an individual, and by no means of a class. And the fault may be, after all, not in him, the writer, but in us, the falsely interpreting readers. But, be that as it may, and figure to ourselves as we may the rustic squire of a hundred to a hundred and fifty years back (though manifestly at utter war, in the portraitures of our novelists, with the realities handed down to us by our Parliamentary annals), on that arena we are dealing with objects of pure speculative curiosity. Far different is the same question, when practically treated for purposes of present legislation or philosophic inference. One hundred years ago, such was the difficulty of social intercourse, simply from the difficulty of locomotion (though even then this difficulty was much lowered to the English, as beyond comparison the most equestrian of nations), that it is possible to imagine a shade of difference as still distinguishing the town-bred man from the rustic; though, considering the multiplied distribution of our assize towns, our cathedral towns, our sea-ports, and our universities, all so many recurring centres of civility, it is not very easy to imagine such a thing in an island no larger than ours. But can any human indulgence be extended to the credulity which assumes the same possibility as existing for us in the very middle of the nineteenth century? At a time when every week sees the town banker drawn from our rural gentry; railway directors in every quarter transferring themselves indifferently from town to country, from country to town; lawyers, clergymen, medical men, magistrates, local judges, &c., all shifting in and out between town and country; rural families all intermarrying on terms of the widest freedom with town families; all again, in the persons of their children, meeting for study at the same schools, colleges, military academies, &c.; by what furious forgetfulness of the realities belonging to the case, has it been possible for writers in public journals to persist in arguing national questions upon the assumption of a bisection in our population—a double current, on the one side steeped to the lips in town prejudices, on the other side traditionally sold to rustic views and doctrines? Such double currents, like the Rhone flowing through the Lake of Geneva, and yet refusing to intermingle, probably did exist, and had an important significance in the Low Countries of the fifteenth century, or between the privileged cities and the unprivileged country of Germany down to the Thirty Years' War; but, for us, they are in the last degree fabulous distinctions, pure fairy tales; and the social economist or the historian who builds on such phantoms as that of a rustic aristocracy still retaining any substantial grounds of distinction from the town aristocracies, proclaims the hollowness of any and all his doctrines that depend upon such assumptions. Lord Carbery was a thorough fox-hunter. The fox- hunting of the adjacent county of Leicestershire was not then what it is now. The state of the land was radically different for the foot of the horse, the nature and distribution of the fences was different; so that a class of horses thoroughly different was then required. But then, as now, it offered the finest exhibition of the fox-chase that is known in Europe; and then, as now, this is the best adapted among all known varieties of hunting to the exhibition of adventurous and skilful riding, and generally, perhaps, to the development of manly and athletic qualities. Lord Carbery, during the season, might be immoderately addicted to this mode of sporting, having naturally a pleasurable feeling connected with his own reputation as a skilful and fearless horseman. But, though the chases were in those days longer than they are at present, small was the amount of time really abstracted from that which he had disposable for general purposes; amongst which purposes ranked foremost his literary pursuits. And, however much he transcended the prevailing conception of his order, as sketched by satiric and often ignorant novelists, he might be regarded, in all that concerned the liberalization of his views, as pretty fairly representing that order. Thus, through every real experience, the crazy notion of a rural aristocracy flowing apart from the urban aristocracy, and standing on a different level of culture as to intellect, of polish as to manners, and of interests as to social objects, a notion at all times false as a fact, now at length became with all thoughtful men monstrous as a possibility.
Meantime Lord Massey was reached by reports, both through Lady Carbery and myself, of something which interested him more profoundly than all earthly records of horsemanship, or any conceivable questions connected with books. Lady Carbery, with a view to the amusement of Lady Massey and my sister, for both of whom youth and previous seclusion had created a natural interest in all such scenes, accepted two or three times in every week dinner invitations to all the families on her visiting list, and lying within her winter circle, which was measured, by a radius of about seventeen miles. For, dreadful as were the roads in those days, when the Bath, the Bristol, or the Dover mail was equally perplexed oftentimes to accomplish Mr. Palmer's rate of seven miles an hour, a distance of seventeen was yet easily accomplished in one hundred minutes by the powerful Laxton horses. Magnificent was the Laxton turn-out; and in the roomy travelling coach of Lady Carbery, made large enough to receive upon occasion even a bed, it would have been an idle scruple to fear the crowding a party which mustered only three besides myself. For Lord Massey uniformly declined joining us; in which I believe that he was right. A schoolboy like myself had fortunately no dignity to lose. But Lord Massey, a needy Irish peer (or, strictly speaking, since the Union no peer at all, though still an hereditary lord), was bound to be trebly vigilant over his surviving honors. This he owed to his country as well as to his family. He recoiled from what he figured to himself (but too often falsely figured) as the haughty and disdainful English nobility—-all so rich, all so polished in manner, all so punctiliously correct in the ritual of biensance. Lord Carbery might face them gayly and boldly: for he was rich, and, although possessing Irish estates and an Irish mansion, was a thorough Englishman by education and early association. "But I," said Lord Massey, "had a careless Irish education, and am never quite sure that I may not be trespassing on some mysterious law of English good-breeding." In vain I suggested to him that most of what passed amongst foreigners and amongst Irishmen for English hauteur was pure reserve, which, among all people that were bound over by the inevitable restraints of their rank (imposing, it must be remembered, jealous duties as well as privileges), was sure to become the operative feeling. I contended that in the English situation there was no escaping this English reserve, except by great impudence and defective sensibility; and that, if examined, reserve was the truest expression of respect towards those who were its objects. In vain did Lady Carbery back me in this representation. He stood firm, and never once accompanied us to any dinner-party. Northamptonshire, I know not why, is (or then was) more thickly sown with aristocratic families than any in the kingdom. Many elegant and pretty women there naturally were in these parties; but undoubtedly our two Laxton baronesses shone advantageously amongst them. A boy like myself could lay no restraint upon the after-dinner feelings of the gentlemen; and almost uniformly I heard such verdicts passed upon the personal attractions of both, but especially Lady Massey, as tended greatly to soothe the feelings of Lord Massey. It is singular that Lady Massey universally carried off the palm of unlimited homage. Lady Carbery was a regular beauty, and publicly known for such; both were fine figures, and apparently not older than twenty-six; but in her Irish friend people felt something more thoroughly artless and feminine—for the masculine understanding of Lady Carbery in some way communicated its commanding expression to her deportment. I reported to Lord Massey, in terms of unexceptionable decorum, those flattering expressions of homage, which sometimes from the lips of young men, partially under the influence of wine, had taken a form somewhat too enthusiastic for a literal repetition to a chivalrous and adoring husband.
Meantime, the reader has been kept long enough at Laxton to warrant me in presuming some curiosity or interest to have gathered within his mind about the mistress of the mansion. Who was Lady Carbery? what was her present position, and what had been her original position, in society? All readers of Bishop Jeremy Taylor [Footnote: The Life of Jeremy Taylor, by Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta, is most elaborately incorrect. From want of research, and a chronology in some places thoroughly erroneous, various important facts are utterly misstated; and what is most to be regretted, in a matter deeply affecting the bishop's candor and Christian charity, namely, a controversial correspondence with a Somersetshire Dissenting clergyman, the wildest misconception has vitiated the entire result. That fractional and splintered condition, into which some person had cut up the controversy with a view to his own more convenient study of its chief elements, Heber had misconceived as the actual form in which these parts had been originally exchanged between the disputants—a blunder of the worst consequence, and having the effect of translating general expressions (such as recorded a moral indignation against ancient fallacies or evasions connected with the dispute) into direct ebullitions of scorn or displeasure personally against his immediate antagonist. And the charge of intolerance and defective charity becomes thus very much stronger against the poor bishop, because it takes the shape of a confession extorted by mere force of truth from an else reluctant apologist, that would most gladly have denied everything that he could deny. The Life needs more than ever to be accurately written, since it has been thus chaotically mis-narrated by a prelate of so much undeniable talent. I once began a very elaborate life myself, and in these words: "Jeremy Taylor, the most eloquent and the subtlest of Christian philosophers, was the son of a barber, and the son-in-law of a king,"—alluding to the tradition (imperfectly verified, I believe) that he married an illegitimate daughter of Charles I. But this sketch was begun more than thirty years ago; and I retired from the labor as too overwhelmingly exacting in all that related to the philosophy and theology of that man 80 "myriad-minded," and of that century so anarchical.] must be aware of that religious Lady Carbery, who was the munificent (and, for her kindness, one might say the filial) patroness of the all-eloquent and subtle divine. She died before the Restoration, and, consequently, before her spiritual director could have ascended the Episcopal throne. The title of Carbery was at that time an earldom; the earl married again, arid his second countess was also a devout patroness of Taylor. Having no peerage at hand, I do not know by what mode of derivation the modern title of the nineteenth century had descended from the old one of the seventeenth. I presume that some collateral branch of the original family had succeeded to the barony when the limitations of the original settlement had extinguished the earldom. But to me, who saw revived another religious Lady Carbery, distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments, it was interesting to read of the two successive ladies who had borne that title one hundred and sixty years before, and whom no reader of Jeremy Taylor is ever allowed to forget, since almost all his books are dedicated to one or other of the pious family that had protected him. Once more there was a religious Lady Carbery, supporting locally the Church of England, patronizing schools, diffusing the most extensive relief to every mode of indigence or distress. A century and a half ago such a Lady Carbery was in South Wales, at the "Golden Grove;" now such another Lady Carbery was in central England, at Laxton. The two cases, divided by six generations, interchanged a reciprocal interest, since in both cases it was young ladies, under the age of thirty, that originated the movement, and in both cases these ladies bore the same title; and I will therefore retrace rapidly the outline of that contemporary case so familiarly known to myself.
Colonel Watson and General Smith had been amongst the earliest friends of my mother's family. Both served for many years in India: the first in the Company's army, the other upon the staff of the king's forces in that country. Each, about the same time, made a visit to England, and each of them, I believe, with the same principal purpose of providing for the education of his daughter; for each happened to have one sole child, which child, in each case, was a girl of singular beauty; and both of these little ladies were entitled to very large fortunes. The colonel and the general, being on brotherly terms of intimacy, resolved to combine their plans for the welfare of their daughters. What they wanted was, not a lady that could teach them any special arts or accomplishments—all these could be purchased;—but the two qualifications indispensable for the difficult situation of lady- superintendent over two children so singularly separated from all relatives whatever, were, in the first place, knowledge of the world, and integrity for keeping at a distance all showy adventurers that might else offer themselves, with unusual advantages, as suitors for the favor of two great heiresses; and, secondly, manners exquisitely polished. Looking to that last requisition, it seems romantic to mention, that the lady selected for the post, with the fullest approbation of both officers, was one who began life as the daughter of a little Lincolnshire farmer. What her maiden name had been, I do not at this moment remember; but this name was of very little importance, being soon merged in that of Harvey, bestowed on her at the altar by a country gentleman. The squire—not very rich, I believe, but rich enough to rank as a matrimonial prize in the lottery of a country girl, whom one single step of descent in life might have brought within sight of menial service—had been captivated by the young woman's beauty; and this, at that period, when accompanied by the advantages of youth, must have been resplendent. I, who had known her all my life, down to my sixteenth year (during which year she died), and who naturally, therefore, referred her origin back to some remote ancestral generation, nevertheless, in her sole case, was made to feel that there might be some justification for the Church of England discountenancing in her Liturgy, "marriage with your great-grandmother; neither shalt thou marry thy great-grandfather's widow." She, poor thing! at that time was thinking little of marriage; for even then, though known only to herself and her femme de chambre, that dreadful organic malady (cancer) was raising its adder's crest, under which finally she died. But, in spite of languor interchanging continually with disfiguring anguish, she still impressed one as a regal beauty. Her person, indeed, and figure, would have tended towards such a standard; but all was counteracted, and thrown back into the mould of sweet natural womanhood, by the cherubic beauty of her features. These it was—these features, so purely childlike—that reconciled me in a moment of time to great-grandmotherhood. The stories about Ninon de l'Enclos are French fables—speaking plainly, are falsehoods; and sorry I am that a nation so amiable as the French should habitually disregard truth, when coming into collision with their love for the extravagant. But, if anything could reconcile me to these monstrous old fibs about Ninon at ninety, it would be the remembrance of this English enchantress on the high-road to seventy. Guess, reader, what she must have been at twenty-eight to thirty-two, when she became the widow of the Gerenian horseman, Harvey. How bewitching she must have looked in her widow's caps! So had once thought Colonel Watson, who happened to be in England at that period; and to the charming widow this man of war propounded his hand in marriage. This hand, this martial hand, for reason inexplicable to me, Mrs. Harvey declined; and the colonel bounced off in a rage to Bengal. There were others who saw young Mrs. Harvey, as well as Colonel Watson. And amongst them was an ancient German gentleman, to what century belonging I do not know, who had every possible bad quality known to European experience, and a solitary good one, namely, eight hundred thousand pounds sterling. The man's name was Schreiber. Schreiber was an aggregate resulting from the conflux of all conceivable bad qualities. That was the elementary base of Schreiber; and the superstructure, or Corinthian decoration of his frontispiece, was, that Schreiber cultivated one sole science, namely, the science of taking snuff. Here were two separate objects for contemplation: one, bright as Aurora—that radiant Koh-i-noor, or mountain of light—the eight hundred thousand pounds; the other, sad, fuscous, begrimed with the snuff of ages, namely, the most ancient Schreiber. Ah! if they could have been divided—these twin yoke- fellows—and that ladies might have the privilege of choosing between them! For the moment there was no prudent course open to Mrs. Harvey, but that of marrying Schreiber (which she did, and survived); and, subsequently, when the state of the market became favorable to such "conversions" of stock, then the new Mrs. Schreiber parted from Schreiber, and disposed of her interest in Schreiber at a settled rate in three per cent. consols and terminable annuities; for every coupon of Schreiber receiving a bonus of so many thousand pounds, paid down according to the rate agreed on by the lawyers of the two parties; or, strictly speaking, quarrelled on between the adverse factions; for agreement it was hard to effect upon any point. The deadly fear which had been breathed into him by Mrs. Schreiber's scale of expenditure in a Park Lane house proved her most salutary ally. Coerced by this horrid vision, Schreiber consented (which else he never would have done) to grant her an allowance, for life, of about two thousand per annum. Could that be reckoned an anodyne for the torment connected with a course of Schreiber? I pretend to no opinion.
Such were the facts: and exactly at this point in her career had Mrs. Schreiber arrived, when, once more, Colonel Watson and General Smith were visiting England, and for the last time, on the errand of settling permanently some suitable establishment for their two infant daughters. The superintendence of this they desired to devolve upon some lady, qualified by her manners and her connections for introducing the young ladies, when old enough, into general society. Mrs. Schreiber was the very person required. Intellectually she had no great pretensions; but these she did not need: her character was irreproachable, her manners were polished, and her own income placed her far above all mercenary temptations. She had not thought fit to accept the station of Colonel Watson's wife, but some unavowed feeling prompted her to undertake, with enthusiasm, the duties of a mother to the colonel's daughter. Chiefly on Miss Watson's account it was at first that she extended her maternal cares to General Smith's daughter; but very soon so sweet and winning was the disposition of Miss Smith that Mrs. Schreiber apparently loved her the best.
Both, however, appeared under a combination of circumstances too singularly romantic to fail of creating an interest that was universal. Both were solitary children, unchallenged by any relatives. Neither had ever known what it was to taste of love, paternal or maternal. Their mothers had been long dead—not consciously seen by either; and their fathers, not surviving their last departure from home long enough to see them again, died before returning from India. What a world of desolation seemed to exist for them! How silent was every hall into which, by natural right, they should have had entrance! Several people, kind, cordial people, men and women, were scattered over England, that, during their days of infancy, would have delighted to receive them; but, by some fatality, when they reached their fifteenth year, and might have been deemed old enough to undertake visits, all of these paternal friends, except two, had died; nor had they, by that time, any relatives at all that remained alive, or were eligible as associates. Strange, indeed, was the contrast between the silent past of their lives and that populous future to which their large fortunes would probably introduce them. Throw open a door in the rear that should lay bare the long vista of chambers through which their childhood might symbolically be represented as having travelled—what silence! what solemn solitude! Open a door in advance that should do the same figurative office for the future—suddenly what a jubilation! what a tumult of festal greetings!
But the succeeding stages of life did not, perhaps, in either case fully correspond to the early promise. Rank and station the two young ladies attained; but rank and station do not always throw people upon prominent stages of action or display. Many a family, possessing both rank and wealth, and not undistinguished possibly by natural endowments of an order fitted for brilliant popularity, never emerge from obscurity, or not into any splendor that can be called national; sometimes, perhaps, from a temper unfitted for worthy struggles in the head of the house; possibly from a haughty, possibly a dignified disdain of popular arts, hatred of petty rhetoric, petty sycophantic courtships, petty canvassing tricks; or again, in many cases, because accidents of ill-luck have intercepted the fair proportion of success due to the merits of the person; whence, oftentimes, a hasty self- surrender to impulses of permanent disgust. But, more frequently than any other cause, I fancy that impatience of the long struggle required for any distinguished success interferes to thin the ranks of competitors for the prizes of public ambition. Perseverance is soon refrigerated in those who fall back under any result, defeated or not defeated, upon splendid mansions and luxuries of every kind, already far beyond their needs or their wishes. The soldier described by the Roman satirist as one who had lost his purse, was likely enough, under the desperation of his misfortune, to see nothing formidable in any obstacle that crossed his path towards another supplementary purse; whilst the very same obstacle might reasonably alarm one who, in retreating, fell back under the battlements of twenty thousand per annum. In the present case, there was nothing at all to move wonder in the final result under so continual a siege of temptation from the seductions of voluptuous ease; the only wonder is, that one of the young ladies, namely, Miss Watson, whose mind was masculine, and in some directions aspiring, should so readily have acquiesced in a result which she might have anticipated from the beginning.
Happy was the childhood, happy the early dawn of womanhood, which these two young ladies passed under the guardianship of Mrs. Schreiber. Education in those days was not the austere old lady that she is now. At least, in the case of young ladies, her exactions were merciful and considerate. If Miss Smith sang pretty well, and Miss Watson very well, and with the power of singing difficult part music at sight, they did so for the same reason that the lark sings, and chiefly under the same gentle tuition—that of nature, glad almighty nature, breathing inspiration from her Delphic tripod of happiness, and health, and hope. Mrs. Schreiber pretended to no intellectual gifts whatever; and yet, practically, she was wiser than many who have the greatest. First of all other tasks which she imposed upon her wards, was that of daily exercise, and exercise carried to excess. She insisted upon four hours' exercise daily; and, as young ladies walk fast, that would have yielded, at the rate of three and a half miles per hour, thirteen plus one third miles. But only two and a half hours were given to walking; the other one and a half to riding. No day was a day of rest; absolutely none. Days so stormy that they "kept the raven to her nest," snow the heaviest, winds the most frantic, were never listened to as any ground of reprieve from the ordinary exaction. I once knew (that is, not personally, for I never saw her, but through the reports of her many friends) an intrepid lady, [Footnote: If I remember rightly, some account is given of this palstric lady and her stern Pdo-gymnastics, in a clever book on household medicine and surgery under circumstances of inevitable seclusion from professional aid, written about the year 1820-22, by Mr. Haden, a surgeon of London.] living in the city of London (that is, technically the city, as opposed to Westminster, etc., Mary-le- bone, etc.), who made a point of turning out her newborn infants for a pretty long airing, even on the day of their birth. It made no difference to her whether the month were July or January; good, undeniable air is to be had in either month. Once only she was baffled, and most indignant it made her, because the little thing chose to be born at half-past nine P. M.; so that, by the time its toilet was finished, bonnet and cloak all properly adjusted, the watchman was calling "Past eleven, and a cloudy night;" upon which, most reluctantly, she was obliged to countermand the orders for that day's exercise, and considered herself, like the Emperor Titus, to have lost a day. But what came of the London lady's or of Mrs. Schreiber's Spartan discipline? Did the little blind kittens of Gracechurch-street, who were ordered by their penthesilan mamma, on the very day of their nativity, to face the most cruel winds—did they, or did Mrs. Schreiber's wards, justify, in after life, this fierce discipline, by commensurate results of hardiness? In words written beyond all doubt by Shakspeare, though not generally recognized as his, it might have been said to any one of this Amazonian brood,—
"Now mild may be thy life; For a more blust'rous birth had never babe. Quiet and gentle be thy temperature; For thou'rt the rudeliest welcomed to this world That e'er was woman's child. Happy be the sequel! Thou hast as chiding a nativity As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven, can make, To herald thee from darkness!"—Pericles, Act III.
As to the city kittens, I heard that the treatment prospered; but the man who reported this added, that by original constitution they were as strong as Meux's dray-horses; and thus, after all, they may simply illustrate the old logical dictum ascribed to some medical man, that the reason why London children of the wealthier classes are noticeable even to a proverb for their robustness and bloom, is because none but those who are already vigorous to excess, and who start with advantages of health far beyond the average scale, have much chance of surviving that most searching quarantine, which, in such [Footnote: For myself, meantime, I am far from assenting to all the romantic abuse applied to the sewerage and the church-yards of London, and even more violently to the river Thames. As a tidal river, even: beyond the metropolitan bridges, the Thames undoubtedly