THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
A MAGAZINE OF
Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
BOSTON: TICKNOR AND FIELDS, 124 TREMONT STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
TICKNOR AND FIELDS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
UNIVERSITY PRESS: WELCH, BIGELOW, & CO., CAMBRIDGE.
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Transcriber's note: Minor typos have been corrected. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the article.
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Artist's Dream, An T. W. Higginson 100
Autobiography of a Quack, The. I., II. 466, 586
Bornoo, A Native of 485
Bowery at Night, The Charles Dawson Shanly 602
By-Ways of Europe. From Perpignan to Montserrat. Bayard Taylor 495
" " A Visit to the Balearic Islands. I. Bayard Taylor 680
Busy Brains Austin Abbott 570
Canadian Woods and Waters Charles Dawson Shanly 311
Cincinnati James Parton 229
Conspiracy at Washington, The 633
Cretan Days Wm. J. Stillman 533
Dinner Speaking Edward Everett Hale 507
Doctor Molke Dr. I. I. Hayes 43
Edisto, Up the T. W. Higginson 157
Foster, Stephen C., and Negro Minstrelsy Robert P. Nevin 608
Fugitives from Labor F. Sheldon 370
Grandmother's Story: The Great Snow 716
Gray Goth, In the Miss E. Stuart Phelps 559
Great Public Character, A James Russell Lowell 618
Growth, Limitations, and Toleration of Shakespeare's Genius E. P. Whipple 178
Guardian Angel, The. VII., VIII., IX., X., XI., XII. Oliver Wendell Holmes 1, 129, 257, 385, 513, 641
Hospital Memories. I., II. Miss Eudora Clark 144, 324
International Copyright James Parton 430
Jesuits in North America, The George E. Ellis 362
Jonson, Ben E. P. Whipple 403
Longfellow's Translation of Dante's Divina Commedia 188
Liliput Province, A W. Winwood Reade 247
Literature as an Art T. W. Higginson 745
Little Land of Appenzell, The Bayard Taylor 213
Minor Elizabethan Dramatists E. P. Whipple 692
Minor Italian Travels W. D. Howells 337
Mysterious Personage, A John Neal 658
Opinions of the late Dr. Nott, respecting Books, Studies and Orators E. D. Sanborn 527
Pacific Railroads, Our J. K. Medbery 704
Padua, At W. D. Howells 25
Passage from Hawthorne's English Note-Books, A 15
Piano in the United States, The James Parton 82
Poor Richard. II., III. Henry James, Jr. 32, 166
Prophetic Voices about America. A Monograph Charles Sumner 275
Religious Side of the Italian Question, The Joseph Mazzini 108
Rose Rollins, The. I., II. Alice Cary 420, 545
Sunshine and Petrarch T. W. Higginson 307
Struggle for Life, A T. B. Aldrich 56
"The Lie" C. J. Sprague 598
Throne of the Golden Foot, The J. W. Palmer 453
T. Adolphus Trollope, Writings of H. T. Tuckerman 476
Tour in the Dark, A 670
Visit to Sybaris, My Edward Everett Hale 63
Week's Riding, A 200
What we Feel C. J. Sprague 740
Wife by Wager, A E. H. House 350
Workers in Silver, Among the James Parton 729
Young Desperado, A T. B. Aldrich 755
Are the Children at Home? Mrs. M. E. M. Sangster 557
Autumn Song, An Edgar Fawcett 679
Blue and the Gray, The F. M. Finch 369
Chanson without Music Oliver Wendell Holmes 543
Dirge for a Sailor George H. Boker 157
Ember-Picture, An James Russell Lowell 99
Feast of Harvest, The E. C. Stedman 616
Flight of the Goddess, The T. B. Aldrich 452
Freedom in Brazil John G. Whittier 62
Lost Genius, The J. J. Piatt 228
Mona's Mother Alice Cary 22
Mystery of Nature, The Theodore Tilton 349
Nightingale in the Study, The James Russell Lowell 323
Sonnet George H. Boker 744
Themistocles William Everett 398
The Old Story Alice Cary 199
Toujours Amour E. C. Stedman 728
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
Browne's Land of Thor 256
Charlevoix's History of New France 125
Codman's Ten Months in Brazil 383
Cozzens's Sayings of Doctor Bushwhacker and other Learned Men 512
Critical and Social Essays, from the New York "Nation" 384
Dall's (Mrs.) The College, the Market, and the Court 255
Du Chaillu's Journey to Ashango-Land 122
Emerson's May-Day and Other Pieces 376
Holland's Kathrina 762
Hoppin's Old England 127
Hymns by Harriet McEwen Kimball 128
Jean Ingelow's Story of Doom, and other Poems 383
Lea's Historical Sketch of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church 378
Literary Life of James K. Paulding, The 124
Memoirs and Correspondence of Madame Recamier 127
Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty 120
Morris's Life and Death of Jason 640
Morse on the Poem "Rock me to Sleep, Mother" 252
Norton's Translation of The New Life of Dante 638
Parsons's Deus Homo 512
Parsons's Translation of the Inferno 759
Paulding's The Bulls and the Jonathans 639
Purnell's Literature and its Professors 254
Richmond during the War 762
Ritter's Comparative Geography of Palestine 125
Samuels's Ornithology and Ooelogy of New England 761
Thackeray's Early and Late Papers 252
Tomes's Champagne Country 511
Webb's Liffith Lank, or Lunacy, and St. Twel'mo 123
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XX.—JULY, 1867.—NO. CXVII.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.
SUSAN'S YOUNG MAN.
There seems no reasonable doubt that Myrtle Hazard might have made a safe thing of it with Gifted Hopkins, (if so inclined,) provided that she had only been secured against interference. But the constant habit of reading his verses to Susan Posey was not without its risk to so excitable a nature as that of the young poet. Poets always were capable of divided affections, and Cowley's "Chronicle" is a confession that would fit the whole tribe of them. It is true that Gifted had no right to regard Susan's heart as open to the wiles of any new-comer. He knew that she considered herself, and was considered by another, as pledged and plighted. Yet she was such a devoted listener, her sympathies were so easily roused, her blue eyes glistened so tenderly at the least poetical hint, such as "Never, O never," "My aching heart," "Go, let me weep,"—any of those touching phrases out of the long catalogue which readily suggests itself,—that her influence was getting to be such that Myrtle (if really anxious to secure him) might look upon it with apprehension, and the owner of Susan's heart (if of a jealous disposition) might have thought it worth while to make a visit to Oxbow Village to see after his property.
It may seem not impossible that some friend had suggested as much as this to the young lady's lover. The caution would have been unnecessary, or at least premature. Susan was loyal as ever to her absent friend. Gifted Hopkins had never yet presumed upon the familiar relations existing between them to attempt to shake her allegiance. It is quite as likely, after all, that the young gentleman about to make his appearance in Oxbow Village visited the place of his own accord, without a hint from anybody. But the fact concerns us more than the reason of it, just now.
"Who do you think is coming, Mr. Gridley? Who do you think is coming?" said Susan Posey, her face covered with a carnation such as the first season may see in a city belle, but not the second.
"Well, Susan Posey, I suppose I must guess, though I am rather slow at that business. Perhaps the Governor. No, I don't think it can be the Governor, for you wouldn't look so happy if it was only his Excellency. It must be the President, Susan Posey,—President James Buchanan. Haven't I guessed right, now, tell me, my dear?"
"O Mr. Gridley, you are too bad,—what do I care for governors and presidents? I know somebody that's worth fifty million thousand presidents,—and he's coming,—my Clement is coming," said Susan, who had by this time learned to consider the awful Byles Gridley as her next friend and faithful counsellor.
Susan could not stay long in the house after she got her note informing her that her friend was soon to be with her. Everybody told everything to Olive Eveleth, and Susan must run over to the Parsonage to tell her that there was a young gentleman coming to Oxbow Village; upon which Olive asked who it was, exactly as if she did not know; whereupon Susan dropped her eyes and said, "Clement,—I mean Mr. Lindsay."
That was a fair piece of news now, and Olive had her bonnet on five minutes after Susan was gone, and was on her way to Bathsheba's,—it was too bad that the poor girl who lived so out of the world shouldn't know anything of what was going on in it. Bathsheba had been in all the morning, and the Doctor had said she must take the air every day; so Bathsheba had on her bonnet a little after Olive had gone, and walked straight up to The Poplars to tell Myrtle Hazard that a certain young gentleman, Clement Lindsay, was coming to Oxbow Village.
It was perhaps fortunate that there was no special significance to Myrtle in the name of Clement Lindsay. Since the adventure which had brought these two young persons together, and, after coming so near a disaster, had ended in a mere humiliation and disappointment, and but for Master Gridley's discreet kindness might have led to foolish scandal, Myrtle had never referred to it in any way. Nobody really knew what her plans had been except Olive and Cyprian, who had observed a very kind silence about the whole matter. The common version of the story was harmless, and near enough to the truth,—down the river,—boat upset,—pulled out,—taken care of by some women in a house farther down,—sick, brain fever,—pretty near it, anyhow,—old Dr. Hurlbut called in,—had her hair cut,—hystericky, etc., etc.
Myrtle was contented with this statement, and asked no questions, and it was a perfectly understood thing that nobody alluded to the subject in her presence. It followed from all this that the name of Clement Lindsay had no peculiar meaning for her. Nor was she like to recognize him as the youth in whose company she had gone through her mortal peril, for all her recollections were confused and dream-like from the moment when she awoke and found herself in the foaming rapids just above the fall, until that when her senses returned, and she saw Master Byles Gridley standing over her with that look of tenderness in his square features which had lingered in her recollection, and made her feel towards him as if she were his daughter.
Now this had its advantage; for as Clement was Susan's young man, and had been so for two or three years, it would have been a great pity to have any such curious relations established between him and Myrtle Hazard as a consciousness on both sides of what had happened would naturally suggest.
"Who is this Clement Lindsay, Bathsheba?" Myrtle asked.
"Why, Myrtle, don't you remember about Susan Posey's is-to-be,—the young man that has been—well, I don't know, but I suppose engaged to her ever since they were children almost?"
"Yes, yes, I remember now. O dear! I have forgotten so many things I should think I had been dead and was coming back to life again. Do you know anything about him, Bathsheba? Didn't somebody say he was very handsome? I wonder if he is really in love with Susan Posey. Such a simple thing! I want to see him. I have seen so few young men."
As Myrtle said these words, she lifted the sleeve a little on her left arm, by a half-instinctive and half-voluntary movement. The glimmering gold of Judith Pride's bracelet flashed out the yellow gleam which has been the reddening of so many hands and the blackening of so many souls since that innocent sin-breeder was first picked up in the land of Havilah. There came a sudden light into her eye, such as Bathsheba had never seen there before. It looked to her as if Myrtle were saying unconsciously to herself that she had the power of beauty, and would like to try its influence on the handsome young man whom she was soon to meet, even at the risk of unseating poor little Susan in his affections. This pained the gentle and humble-minded girl, who, without having tasted the world's pleasures, had meekly consecrated herself to the lowly duties which lay nearest to her. For Bathsheba's phrasing of life was in the monosyllables of a rigid faith. Her conceptions of the human soul were all simplicity and purity, but elementary. She could not conceive the vast license the creative energy allows itself in mingling the instincts which, after long conflict, may come into harmonious adjustment. The flash which Myrtle's eye had caught from the gleam of the golden bracelet filled Bathsheba with a sudden fear that she was like to be led away by the vanities of that world lying in wickedness of which the minister's daughter had heard so much and seen so little.
Not that Bathsheba made any fine moral speeches to herself. She only felt a slight shock, such as a word or a look from one we love too often gives us,—such as a child's trivial gesture or movement makes a parent feel,—that impalpable something which in the slightest possible inflection of a syllable or gradation of a tone will sometimes leave a sting behind it, even in a trusting heart. This was all. But it was true that what she saw meant a great deal. It meant the dawning in Myrtle Hazard of one of her as yet unlived secondary lives. Bathsheba's virgin perceptions had caught a faint early ray of its glimmering twilight.
She answered, after a very slight pause, which this explanation has made seem so long, that she had never seen the young gentleman, and that she did not know about Susan's sentiments. Only, as they had kept so long to each other, she supposed there must be love between them.
Myrtle fell into a revery, with certain tableaux glowing along its perspectives which poor little Susan Posey would have shivered to look upon, if they could have been transferred from the purple clouds of Myrtle's imagination to the pale silvery mists of Susan's pretty fancies. She sat in her day-dream long after Bathsheba had left her, her eyes fixed, not on the faded portrait of her beautiful ancestress, but on that other canvas where the dead Beauty seemed to live in all the splendors of her full-blown womanhood.
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The young man whose name had set her thoughts roving was handsome, as the glance at him already given might have foreshadowed. But his features had a graver impress than his age seemed to account for, and the sober tone of his letter to Susan implied that something had given him a maturity beyond his years. The story was not an uncommon one. At sixteen he had dreamed—and told his dream. At eighteen he had awoke, and found, as he believed, that a young heart had grown to his so that its life was dependent on his own. Whether it would have perished if its filaments had been gently disentangled from the object to which they had attached themselves, experienced judges of such matters may perhaps question. To justify Clement in his estimate of the danger of such an experiment, we must remember that to young people in their teens a first passion is a portentous and unprecedented phenomenon. The young man may have been mistaken in thinking that Susan would die if he left her, and may have done more than his duty in sacrificing himself; but if so, it was the mistake of a generous youth, who estimated the depth of another's feelings by his own. He measured the depth of his own rather by what he felt they might be, than by that of any abysses they had yet sounded.
Clement was called a "genius" by those who knew him, and was consequently in danger of being spoiled early. The risk is great enough anywhere, but greatest in a new country, where there is an almost universal want of fixed standards of excellence.
He was by nature an artist; a shaper with the pencil or the chisel, a planner, a contriver capable of turning his hand to almost any work of eye and hand. It would not have been strange if he thought he could do everything, having gifts which were capable of various application,—and being an American citizen. But though he was a good draughtsman, and had made some reliefs and modelled some figures, he called himself only an architect. He had given himself up to his art, not merely from a love of it and talent for it, but with a kind of heroic devotion, because he thought his country wanted a race of builders to clothe the new forms of religious, social, and national life afresh from the forest, the quarry, and the mine. Some thought he would succeed, others that he would be a brilliant failure.
"Grand notions,—grand notions," the master with whom he studied said. "Large ground plan of life,—splendid elevation. A little wild in some of his fancies, perhaps, but he's only a boy, and he's the kind of boy that sometimes grows to be a pretty big man. Wait and see,—wait and see. He works days, and we can let him dream nights. There's a good deal of him, anyhow." His fellow-students were puzzled. Those who thought of their calling as a trade, and looked forward to the time when they should be embodying the ideals of municipal authorities in brick and stone, or making contracts with wealthy citizens, doubted whether Clement would have a sharp eye enough for business. "Too many whims, you know. All sorts of queer ideas in his head,—as if a boy like him was going to make things all over again!"
No doubt there was something of youthful extravagance in his plans and expectations. But it was the untamed enthusiasm which is the source of all great thoughts and deeds,—a beautiful delirium which age commonly tames down, and for which the cold shower-bath the world furnishes gratis proves a pretty certain cure.
Creation is always preceded by chaos. The youthful architect's mind was confused by the multitude of suggestions which were crowding in upon it, and which he had not yet had time or developed mature strength sufficient to reduce to order. The young American of any freshness of intellect is stimulated to dangerous excess by the conditions of life into which he is born. There is a double proportion of oxygen in the New-World air. The chemists have not found it out yet, but human brains and breathing organs have long since made the discovery.
Clement knew that his hasty entanglement had limited his possibilities of happiness in one direction, and he felt that there was a certain grandeur in the recompense of working out his defeated instincts through the ambitious medium of his noble art. Had not Pharaohs chosen it to proclaim their longings for immortality, Caesars their passion for pomp and luxury, and the priesthood to symbolize their conceptions of the heavenly mansions? His dreams were on a grand scale; such, after all, are the best possessions of youth. Had he but been free, or mated with a nature akin to his own, he would have felt himself as truly the heir of creation as any young man that lived. But his lot was cast, and his youth had all the serious aspect to himself of thoughtful manhood. In the region of his art alone he hoped always to find freedom and a companionship which his home life could never give him.
Clement meant to have visited his beloved before he left Alderbank, but was called unexpectedly back to the city. Happily Susan was not exacting; she looked up to him with too great a feeling of distance between them to dare to question his actions. Perhaps she found a partial consolation in the company of Mr. Gifted Hopkins, who tried his new poems on her, which was the next best thing to addressing them to her. "Would that you were with us at this delightful season," she wrote in the autumn; "but no, your Susan must not repine. Yet, in the beautiful words of our native poet,
'O would, O would that thou wast here, For absence makes thee doubly dear; Ah! what is life while thou'rt away? 'Tis night without the orb of day!'"
The poet referred to, it need hardly be said, was our young and promising friend G. H., as he sometimes modestly signed himself. The letter, it is unnecessary to state, was voluminous,—for a woman can tell her love, or other matter of interest, over and over again in as many forms as another poet, not G. H., found for his grief in ringing the musical changes of "In Memoriam."
The answers to Susan's letters were kind, but not very long. They convinced her that it was a simple impossibility that Clement could come to Oxbow Village, on account of the great pressure of the work he had to keep him in the city, and the plans he must finish at any rate. But at last the work was partially got rid of, and Clement was coming; yes, it was so nice, and, O dear! shouldn't she be real happy to see him?
To Susan he appeared as a kind of divinity,—almost too grand for human nature's daily food. Yet, if the simple-hearted girl could have told herself the whole truth in plain words, she would have confessed to certain doubts which from time to time, and oftener of late, cast a shadow on her seemingly bright future. With all the pleasure that the thought of meeting Clement gave her, she felt a little tremor, a certain degree of awe, in contemplating his visit. If she could have clothed her self-humiliation in the gold and purple of the "Portuguese Sonnets," it would have been another matter; but the trouble with the most common sources of disquiet is that they have no wardrobe of flaming phraseology to air themselves in; the inward burning goes on without the relief and gratifying display of the crater.
"A friend of mine is coming to the village," she said to Mr. Gifted Hopkins. "I want you to see him. He is a genius,—as some other young men are." (This was obviously personal, and the youthful poet blushed with ingenuous delight.) "I have known him for ever so many years. He and I are very good friends." The poet knew that this meant an exclusive relation between them; and though the fact was no surprise to him, his countenance fell a little. The truth was, that his admiration was divided between Myrtle, who seemed to him divine and adorable, but distant, and Susan, who listened to his frequent poems, whom he was in the habit of seeing in artless domestic costumes, and whose attractions had been gaining upon him of late in the enforced absence of his divinity.
He retired pensive from this interview, and, flinging himself at his desk, attempted wreaking his thoughts upon expression, to borrow the language of one of his brother bards, in a passionate lyric which he began thus:—
"Another's! O the pang, the smart! Fate owes to Love a deathless grudge,— The barbed fang has rent a heart Which—which—
"judge—judge,—no, not judge. Budge, drudge, fudge—What a disgusting language English is! Nothing fit to couple with such a word as grudge! And the gush of an impassioned moment arrested in full flow, stopped short, corked up, for want of a paltry rhyme! Judge,—budge,—drudge,—nudge,—oh!—smudge,—misery!—fudge. In vain,—futile,—no use,—all up for to-night!"
While the poet, headed off in this way by the poverty of his native tongue, sought inspiration by retiring into the world of dreams,—went to bed, in short,—his more fortunate rival was just entering the village, where he was to make his brief residence at the house of Deacon Rumrill, who, having been a loser by the devouring element, was glad to receive a stray boarder when any such were looking about for quarters.
For some reason or other he was restless that evening, and took out a volume he had brought with him to beguile the earlier hours of the night. It was too late when he arrived to disturb the quiet of Mrs. Hopkins's household; and whatever may have been Clement's impatience, he held it in check, and sat tranquilly until midnight over the pages of the book with which he had prudently provided himself.
"Hope you slept well last night," said the old Deacon, when Mr. Clement came down to breakfast the next morning.
"Very well, thank you,—that is, after I got to bed. But I sat up pretty late reading my favorite Scott. I am apt to forget how the hours pass when I have one of his books in my hand."
The worthy Deacon looked at Mr. Clement with a sudden accession of interest.
"You couldn't find better reading, young man. Scott is my favorite author. A great man. I have got his likeness in a gilt frame hanging up in the other room. I have read him all through three times."
The young man's countenance brightened. He had not expected to find so much taste for elegant literature in an old village deacon.
"What are your favorites among his writings, Deacon? I suppose you have your particular likings, as the rest of us have."
The Deacon was flattered by the question. "Well," he answered, "I can hardly tell you. I like pretty much everything Scott ever wrote. Sometimes I think it is one thing, and sometimes another. Great on Paul's Epistles,—don't you think so?"
The honest fact was, that Clement remembered very little about "Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk,"—a book of Sir Walter's less famous than many of his others; but he signified his polite assent to the Deacon's statement, rather wondering at his choice of a favorite, and smiling at his queer way of talking about the Letters as Epistles.
"I am afraid Scott is not so much read now-a-days as he once was, and as he ought to be," said Mr. Clement. "Such character, such nature and so much grace—"
"That's it,—that's it, young man," the Deacon broke in,—"Natur' and Grace,—Natur' and Grace. Nobody ever knew better what those two words meant than Scott did, and I'm very glad to see you've chosen such good wholesome reading. You can't set up too late, young man, to read Scott. If I had twenty children, they should all begin reading Scott as soon as they were old enough to spell 'sin,'—and that's the first word my little ones learned, next to 'pa' and 'ma.' Nothing like beginning the lessons of life in good season."
"What a grim old satirist!" Clement said to himself. "I wonder if the old man reads other novelists.—Do tell me, Deacon, if you have read Thackeray's last story?"
"Thackery's story? Published by the American Tract Society?"
"Not exactly," Clement answered, smiling, and quite delighted to find such an unexpected vein of grave pleasantry about the demure-looking church-dignitary; for the Deacon asked his question without moving a muscle, and took no cognizance whatever of the young man's tone and smile. First-class humorists are, as is well known, remarkable for the immovable solemnity of their features. Clement promised himself not a little amusement from the curiously sedate drollery of the venerable Deacon, who, it was plain from his conversation, had cultivated a literary taste which would make him a more agreeable companion than the common ecclesiastics of his grade in country villages.
After breakfast, Mr. Clement walked forth in the direction of Mrs. Hopkins's house, thinking as he went of the pleasant surprise his visit would bring to his longing and doubtless pensive Susan; for though she knew he was coming, she did not know that he was at that moment in Oxbow Village.
As he drew near the house, the first thing he saw was Susan Posey, almost running against her just as he turned a corner. She looked wonderfully lively and rosy, for the weather was getting keen and the frosts had begun to bite. A young gentleman was walking at her side, and reading to her from a paper he held in his hand. Both looked deeply interested,—so much so that Clement felt half ashamed of himself for intruding upon them so abruptly.
But lovers are lovers, and Clement could not help joining them. The first thing, of course, was the utterance of two simultaneous exclamations, "Why, Clement!" "Why, Susan!" What might have come next in the programme, but for the presence of a third party, is matter of conjecture; but what did come next was a mighty awkward look on the part of Susan Posey, and the following short speech:—
"Mr. Lindsay, let me introduce Mr. Hopkins, my friend, the poet I've written to you about. He was just reading two of his poems to me. Some other time, Gifted—Mr. Hopkins."
"O no, Mr. Hopkins,—pray go on," said Clement. "I'm very fond of poetry."
The poet did not require much urging, and began at once reciting over again the stanzas which were afterwards so much admired in the "Banner and Oracle,"—the first verse being, as the readers of that paper will remember,—
"She moves in splendor, like the ray That flashes from unclouded skies, And all the charms of night and day Are mingled in her hair and eyes."
Clement, who must have been in an agony of impatience to be alone with his beloved, commanded his feelings admirably. He signified his approbation of the poem by saying that the lines were smooth and the rhymes absolutely without blemish. The stanzas reminded him forcibly of one of the greatest poets of the century.
Gifted flushed hot with pleasure. He had tasted the blood of his own rhymes; and when a poet gets as far as that, it is like wringing the bag of exhilarating gas from the lips of a fellow sucking at it, to drag his piece away from him.
"Perhaps you will like these lines still better," he said; "the style is more modern:—
'O daughter of the spiced South, Her bubbly grapes have spilled the wine That staineth with its hue divine The red flower of thy perfect mouth.'"
And so on, through a series of stanzas like these, with the pulp of two rhymes between the upper and lower crust of two others.
Clement was cornered. It was necessary to say something for the poet's sake,—perhaps for Susan's; for she was in a certain sense responsible for the poems of a youth of genius, of whom she had spoken so often and so enthusiastically.
"Very good, Mr. Hopkins, and a form of verse little used, I should think, until of late years. You modelled this piece on the style of a famous living English poet, did you not?"
"Indeed I did not, Mr. Lindsay,—I never imitate. Originality is, if I may be allowed to say so much for myself, my peculiar forte. Why, the critics allow as much as that. See here, Mr. Lindsay."
Mr. Gifted Hopkins pulled out his pocket-book, and, taking therefrom a cutting from a newspaper,—which dropped helplessly open of itself, as if tired of the process, being very tender in the joints or creases, by reason of having been often folded and unfolded,—read aloud as follows:—
"The bard of Oxbow Village—our valued correspondent who writes over the signature of G. H.—is, in our opinion, more remarkable for his originality than for any other of his numerous gifts."
Clement was apparently silenced by this, and the poet a little elated with a sense of triumph. Susan could not help sharing his feeling of satisfaction, and without meaning it in the least, nay, without knowing it, for she was as simple and pure as new milk, edged a little bit—the merest infinitesimal atom—nearer to Gifted Hopkins, who was on one side of her, while Clement walked on the other. Women love the conquering party,—it is the way of their sex. And poets, as we have seen, are wellnigh irresistible when they exert their dangerous power of fascination upon the female heart. But Clement was above jealousy; and, if he perceived anything of this movement, took no notice of it.
He saw a good deal of his pretty Susan that day. She was tender in her expressions and manners as usual, but there was a little something in her looks and language from time to time that Clement did not know exactly what to make of. She colored once or twice when the young poet's name was mentioned. She was not so full of her little plans for the future as she had sometimes been, "everything was so uncertain," she said. Clement asked himself whether she felt quite as sure that her attachment would last as she once did. But there were no reproaches, not even any explanations, which are about as bad between lovers. There was nothing but an undefined feeling on his side that she did not cling quite so closely to him, perhaps, as he had once thought, and that, if he had happened to have been drowned that day when he went down with the beautiful young woman, it was just conceivable that Susan, who would have cried dreadfully, no doubt, would in time have listened to consolation from some other young man,—possibly from the young poet whose verses he had been admiring. Easy-crying widows take new husbands soonest; there is nothing like wet weather for transplanting, as Master Gridley used to say. Susan had a fluent natural gift for tears, as Clement well knew, after the exercise of which she used to brighten up like the rose which had been washed, just washed in a shower, mentioned by Cowper.
As for the poet, he learned more of his own sentiments during this visit of Clement's than he had ever before known. He wandered about with a dreadfully disconsolate look upon his countenance. He showed a falling-off in his appetite at tea-time, which surprised and disturbed his mother, for she had filled the house with fragrant suggestions of good things coming, in honor of Mr. Lindsay, who was to be her guest at tea. And chiefly the genteel form of doughnut called in the native dialect cymbal (Qu. Symbol? B. G.) which graced the board with its plastic forms, suggestive of the most pleasing objects,—the spiral ringlets pendent from the brow of beauty,—the magic circlet, which is the pledge of plighted affection,—the indissoluble knot, which typifies the union of hearts, which organs were also largely represented; this exceptional delicacy would at any other time have claimed his special notice. But his mother remarked that he paid little attention to these, and his "No, I thank you," when it came to the preserved "damsels" as some call them, carried a pang with it to the maternal bosom. The most touching evidence of his unhappiness—whether intentional or the result of accident was not evident—was a broken heart, which he left upon his plate, the meaning of which was as plain as anything in the language of flowers. His thoughts were gloomy during that day, running a good deal on the more picturesque and impressive methods of bidding a voluntary farewell to a world which had allured him with visions of beauty only to snatch them from his impassioned gaze. His mother saw something of this, and got from him a few disjointed words, which led her to lock up the clothes-line and hide her late husband's razors,—an affectionate, yet perhaps unnecessary precaution, for self-elimination contemplated from this point of view by those who have the natural outlet of verse to relieve them is rarely followed by a casualty. It may rather be considered as implying a more than average chance for longevity; as those who meditate an imposing finish naturally save themselves for it, and are therefore careful of their health until the time comes, and this is apt to be indefinitely postponed so long as there is a poem to write or a proof to be corrected.
THE SECOND MEETING.
"Miss Eveleth requests the pleasure of Mr. Lindsay's company to meet a few friends on the evening of the Feast of St. Ambrose, December 7th, Wednesday.
"THE PARSONAGE, December 6th."
It was the luckiest thing in the world. They always made a little festival of that evening at the Rev. Ambrose Eveleth's, in honor of his canonized namesake, and because they liked to have a good time. It came this year just at the right moment, for here was a distinguished stranger visiting in the place. Oxbow Village seemed to be running over with its one extra young man,—as may be seen sometimes in larger villages, and even in cities of moderate dimensions.
Mr. William Murray Bradshaw had called on Clement the very day of his arrival. He had already met the Deacon in the street, and asked some questions about his transient boarder.
A very interesting young man, the Deacon said, much given to the reading of pious books. Up late at night after he came, reading Scott's Commentary. Appeared to be as fond of serious works as other young folks were of their novels and romances and other immoral publications. He, the Deacon, thought of having a few religious friends to meet the young gentleman, if he felt so disposed; and should like to have him, Mr. Bradshaw, come in and take a part in the exercises.—Mr. Bradshaw was unfortunately engaged. He thought the young gentleman could hardly find time for such a meeting during his brief visit.
Mr. Bradshaw expected naturally to see a youth of imperfect constitution, and cachectic or dyspeptic tendencies, who was in training to furnish one of those biographies beginning with the statement that, from his infancy, the subject of it showed no inclination for boyish amusements, and so on, until he dies out, for the simple reason that there was not enough of him to live. Very interesting, no doubt, Master Byles Gridley would have said, but had no more to do with good, hearty, sound life than the history of those very little people to be seen in museums, preserved in jars of alcohol, like brandy peaches.
When Mr. Clement Lindsay presented himself, Mr. Bradshaw was a good deal surprised to see a young fellow of such a mould. He pleased himself with the idea that he knew a man of mark at sight, and he set down Clement in that category at his first glance. The young man met his penetrating and questioning look with a frank, ingenuous, open aspect, before which he felt himself disarmed, as it were, and thrown upon other means of analysis. He would try him a little in talk.
"I hope you like these people you are with. What sort of a man do you find my old friend the Deacon?"
Clement laughed. "A very queer old character. Loves his joke as well, and is as sly in making it, as if he had studied Joe Miller instead of the Catechism."
Mr. Bradshaw looked at the young man to know what he meant. Mr. Lindsay talked in a very easy way for a serious young person. He was puzzled. He did not see to the bottom of this description of the Deacon. With a lawyer's instinct, he kept his doubts to himself and tried his witness with a new question.
"Did you talk about books at all with the old man?"
"To be sure I did. Would you believe it, that aged saint is a great novel-reader. So he tells me. What is more, he brings up his children to that sort of reading, from the time when they first begin to spell. If anybody else had told me such a story about an old country deacon, I wouldn't have believed it; but he said so himself, to me, at breakfast this morning."
Mr. Bradshaw felt as if either he or Mr. Lindsay must certainly be in the first stage of mild insanity, and he did not think that he himself could be out of his wits. He must try one more question. He had become so mystified that he forgot himself, and began putting his interrogation in legal form.
"Will you state, if you please—I beg your pardon—may I ask who is your own favorite author?"
"I think just now I like to read Scott better than almost anybody."
"Do you mean the Rev. Thomas Scott, author of the Commentary?"
Clement stared at Mr. Bradshaw, and wondered whether he was trying to make a fool of him. The young lawyer hardly looked as if he could be a fool himself.
"I mean Sir Walter Scott," he said, dryly.
"Oh!" said Mr. Bradshaw. He saw that there had been a slight misunderstanding between the young man and his worthy host, but it was none of his business, and there were other subjects of interest to talk about.
"You know one of our charming young ladies very well, I believe, Mr. Lindsay. I think you are an old acquaintance of Miss Posey, whom we all consider so pretty."
Poor Clement! The question pierced to the very marrow of his soul, but it was put with the utmost suavity and courtesy, and honeyed with a compliment to the young lady, too, so that there was no avoiding a direct and pleasant answer to it.
"Yes," he said, "I have known the young lady you speak of for a long time, and very well,—in fact, as you must have heard, we are something more than friends. My visit here is principally on her account."
"You must give the rest of us a chance to see something of you during your visit, Mr. Lindsay. I hope you are invited to Miss Eveleth's this evening?"
"Yes, I got a note this morning. Tell me, Mr. Bradshaw, who is there that I shall meet this evening if I go? I have no doubt there are girls here I should like to see, and perhaps some young fellows that I should like to talk with. You know all that's prettiest and pleasantest, of course."'
"O, we're a little place, Mr. Lindsay. A few nice people, the rest comme ca, you know. High-bush blackberries and low-bush blackberries,—you understand,—just so everywhere,—high-bush here and there, low-bush plenty. You must see the two parsons' daughters,—Saint Ambrose's and Saint Joseph's,—and another girl I want particularly to introduce you to. You shall form your own opinion of her. I call her handsome and stylish, but you have got spoiled, you know. Our young poet, too, one we raised in this place, Mr. Lindsay, and a superior article of poet, as we think,—that is, some of us, for the rest of us are jealous of him, because the girls are all dying for him and want his autograph.—And Cyp,—yes, you must talk to Cyp,—he has ideas. But don't forget to get hold of old Byles—Master Gridley I mean—before you go. Big head. Brains enough for a cabinet minister, and fit out a college faculty with what was left over. Be sure you see old Byles. Set him talking about his book,—'Thoughts on the Universe.' Didn't sell much, but has got knowing things in it. I'll show you a copy, and then you can tell him you know it, and he will take to you. Come in and get your dinner with me to-morrow. We will dine late, as the city folks do, and after that we will go over to the Rector's. I should like to show you some of our village people."
Mr. Bradshaw liked the thought of showing the young man to some of his friends there. As Clement was already "done for," or "bowled out," as the young lawyer would have expressed the fact of his being pledged in the matrimonial direction, there was nothing to be apprehended on the score of rivalry. And although Clement was particularly good-looking, and would have been called a distinguishable youth anywhere, Mr. Bradshaw considered himself far more than his match, in all probability, in social accomplishments. He expected, therefore, a certain amount of reflex credit for bringing such a fine young fellow in his company, and a second instalment of reputation from outshining him in conversation. This was rather nice calculating, but Murray Bradshaw always calculated. With most men life is like backgammon, half skill and half luck, but with him it was like chess. He never pushed a pawn without reckoning the cost, and when his mind was least busy it was sure to be half a dozen moves ahead of the game as it was standing.
Mr. Bradshaw gave Clement a pretty dinner enough for such a place as Oxbow Village. He offered him some good wine, and would have made him talk so as to show his lining, to use one of his own expressions, but Clement had apparently been through that trifling experience, and could not be coaxed into saying more than he meant to say. Murray Bradshaw was very curious to find out how it was that he had become the victim of such a rudimentary miss as Susan Posey. Could she be an heiress in disguise? Why no, of course not; had not he made all proper inquiries about that when Susan came to town? A small inheritance from an aunt or uncle, or some such relative, enough to make her a desirable party in the eyes of certain villagers perhaps, but nothing to allure a man like this, whose face and figure as marketable possessions were worth say a hundred thousand in the girl's own right, as Mr. Bradshaw put it roughly, with another hundred thousand if his talent is what some say, and if his connection is a desirable one, a fancy price,—anything he would fetch. Of course not. Must have got caught when he was a child. Why the diavolo didn't he break it off, then?
There was no fault to find with the modest entertainment at the Parsonage. A splendid banquet in a great house is an admirable thing, provided always its getting up did not cost the entertainer an inward conflict, nor its recollection a twinge of economical regret, nor its bills a cramp of anxiety. A simple evening party in the smallest village is just as admirable in its degree, when the parlor is cheerfully lighted, and the board prettily spread, and the guests are made to feel comfortable without being reminded that anybody is making a painful effort.
We know several of the young people who were there, and need not trouble ourselves for the others. Myrtle Hazard had promised to come. She had her own way of late as never before; in fact, the women were afraid of her. Miss Silence felt that she could not be responsible for her any longer. She had hopes for a time that Myrtle would go through the customary spiritual paroxysm under the influence of the Rev. Mr. Stoker's assiduous exhortations; but since she had broken off with him, Miss Silence had looked upon her as little better than a backslider. And now that the girl was beginning to show the tendencies which seemed to come straight down to her from the belle of the last century, (whose rich physical developments seemed to the under-vitalized spinster as in themselves a kind of offence against propriety,) the forlorn woman folded her thin hands and looked on hopelessly, hardly venturing a remonstrance for fear of some new explosion. As for Cynthia, she was comparatively easy since she had, through Mr. Byles Gridley, upset the minister's questionable apparatus of religious intimacy. She had, in fact, in a quiet way, given Mr. Bradshaw to understand that he would probably meet Myrtle at the Parsonage if he dropped in at their small gathering.
Clement walked over to Mrs. Hopkins's after his dinner with the young lawyer, and asked if Susan was ready to go with him. At the sound of his voice, Gifted Hopkins smote his forehead, and called himself, in subdued tones, a miserable being. His imagination wavered uncertain for a while between pictures of various modes of ridding himself of existence, and fearful deeds involving the life of others. He had no fell purpose of actually doing either, but there was a gloomy pleasure in contemplating them as possibilities, and in mentally sketching the "Lines written in Despair" which would be found in what was but an hour before the pocket of the youthful bard, G. H., victim of a hopeless passion. All this emotion was in the nature of a surprise to the young man. He had fully believed himself desperately in love with Myrtle Hazard; and it was not until Clement came into the family circle with the right of eminent domain over the realm of Susan's affections, that this unfortunate discovered that Susan's pretty ways and morning dress and love of poetry and liking for his company had been too much for him, and that he was henceforth to be wretched during the remainder of his natural life, except so far as he could unburden himself in song.
Mr. William Murray Bradshaw had asked the privilege of waiting upon Myrtle to the little party at the Eveleths. Myrtle was not insensible to the attractions of the young lawyer, though she had never thought of herself except as a child in her relations with any of these older persons. But she was not the same girl that she had been but a few months before. She had achieved her independence by her audacious and most dangerous enterprise. She had gone through strange nervous trials and spiritual experiences, which had matured her more rapidly than years of common life would have done. She had got back her health, bringing with it a riper wealth of womanhood. She had found her destiny in the consciousness that she inherited the beauty belonging to her blood, and which, after sleeping for a generation or two as if to rest from the glare of the pageant that follows beauty through its long career of triumph, had come to the light again in her life, and was to repeat the legends of the olden time in her own history.
Myrtle's wardrobe had very little of ornament, such as the modistes of the town would have thought essential to render a young girl like her presentable. There were a few heirlooms of old date, however, which she had kept as curiosities until now, and which she looked over until she found some lace and other convertible material, with which she enlivened her costume a little for the evening. As she clasped the antique bracelet around her wrist, she felt as if it were an amulet that gave her the power of charming which had been so long obsolete in her lineage. At the bottom of her heart she cherished a secret longing to try her fascinations on the young lawyer. Who could blame her? It was not an inwardly expressed intention,—it was the mere blind instinctive movement to subjugate the strongest of the other sex who had come in her way, which, as already said, is as natural to a woman as it is to a man to be captivated by the loveliest of those to whom he dares to aspire.
Before William Murray Bradshaw and Myrtle Hazard had reached the Parsonage, the girl's cheeks were flushed and her dark eyes were flashing with a new excitement. The young man had not made love to her directly, but he had interested her in herself by a delicate and tender flattery of manner, and so set her fancies working that she was taken with him as never before, and wishing that the Parsonage had been a mile farther from The Poplars. It was impossible for a young girl like Myrtle to conceal the pleasure she received from listening to her seductive admirer, who was trying all his trained skill upon his artless companion. Murray Bradshaw felt sure that the game was in his hands if he played it with only common prudence. There was no need of hurrying this child,—it might startle her to make downright love abruptly; and now that he had an ally in her own household, and was to have access to her with a freedom he had never before enjoyed, there was a refined pleasure in playing his fish,—this gamest of golden-scaled creatures,—which had risen to his fly, and which he wished to hook, but not to land, until he was sure it would be worth his while.
They entered the little parlor at the Parsonage looking so beaming, that Olive and Bathsheba exchanged glances which implied so much that it would take a full page to tell it with all the potentialities involved.
"How magnificent Myrtle is this evening, Bathsheba!" said Cyprian Eveleth, pensively.
"What a handsome pair they are, Cyprian!" said Bathsheba cheerfully.
Cyprian sighed. "She always fascinates me whenever I look upon her. Isn't she the very picture of what a poet's love should be,—a poem herself,—a glorious lyric,—all light and music! See what a smile the creature has! And her voice! When did you ever hear such tones? And when was it ever so full of life before?"
Bathsheba sighed. "I do not know any poets but Gifted Hopkins. Does not Myrtle look more in her place by the side of Murray Bradshaw than she would with Gifted hitched on her arm?"
Just then the poet made his appearance. He looked depressed, as if it had cost him an effort to come. He was, however, charged with a message which he must deliver to the hostess of the evening.
"They're coming presently," he said. "That young man and Susan. Wants you to introduce him, Mr. Bradshaw."
The bell rang presently, and Murray Bradshaw slipped out into the entry to meet the two lovers.
"How are you, my fortunate friend?" he said, as he met them at the door. "Of course you're well and happy as mortal man can be in this vale of tears. Charming, ravishing, quite delicious, that way of dressing your hair, Miss Posey! Nice girls here this evening, Mr. Lindsay. Looked lovely when I came out of the parlor. Can't say how they will show after this young lady puts in an appearance." In reply to which florid speeches Susan blushed, not knowing what else to do, and Clement smiled as naturally as if he had been sitting for his photograph.
He felt, in a vague way, that he and Susan were being patronized, which is not a pleasant feeling to persons with a certain pride of character. There was no expression of contempt about Mr. Bradshaw's manner or language at which he could take offence. Only he had the air of a man who praises his neighbor without stint, with a calm consciousness that he himself is out of reach of comparison in the possessions or qualities which he is admiring in the other. Clement was right in his obscure perception of Mr. Bradshaw's feeling while he was making his phrases. That gentleman was, in another moment, to have the tingling delight of showing the grand creature he had just begun to tame. He was going to extinguish the pallid light of Susan's prettiness in the brightness of Myrtle's beauty. He would bring this young man, neutralized and rendered entirely harmless by his irrevocable pledge to a slight girl, face to face with a masterpiece of young womanhood, and say to him, not in words, but as plainly as speech could have told him, "Behold my captive!"
It was a proud moment for Murray Bradshaw. He had seen, or thought that he had seen, the assured evidence of a speedy triumph over all the obstacles of Myrtle's youth and his own present seeming slight excess of maturity. Unless he were very greatly mistaken, he could now walk the course; the plate was his, no matter what might be the entries. And this youth, this handsome, spirited-looking, noble-aired young fellow, whose artist-eye could not miss a line of Myrtle's proud and almost defiant beauty, was to be the witness of his power, and to look in admiration upon his prize! He introduced him to the others, reserving her for the last. She was at that moment talking with the worthy Rector, and turned when Mr. Bradshaw spoke to her.
"Miss Hazard, will you allow me to present to you my friend, Mr. Clement Lindsay?"
They looked full upon each other, and spoke the common words of salutation. It was a strange meeting; but we who profess to tell the truth must tell strange things, or we shall be liars.
In poor little Susan's letter there was some allusion to a bust of Innocence which the young artist had begun, but of which he had said nothing in his answer to her. He had roughed out a block of marble for that impersonation; sculpture was a delight to him, though secondary to his main pursuit. After his memorable adventure, the features and the forms of the girl he had rescued so haunted him that the pale ideal which was to work itself out in the bust faded away in its perpetual presence, and—alas, poor Susan!—in obedience to the impulse that he could not control, he left Innocence sleeping in the marble, and began modelling a figure of proud and noble and imperious beauty, to which he gave the name of Liberty.
The original which had inspired his conception was before him. These were the lips to which his own had clung when he brought her back from the land of shadows. The hyacinthine curl of her lengthening locks had added something to her beauty; but it was the same face which had haunted him. This was the form he had borne seemingly lifeless in his arms, and the bosom which heaved so visibly before him was that which his eyes—. They were the calm eyes of a sculptor, but of a sculptor hardly twenty years old.
Yes,—her bosom was heaving. She had an unexplained feeling of suffocation, and drew great breaths,—she could not have said why,—but she could not help it; and presently she became giddy, and had a great noise in her ears, and rolled her eyes about, and was on the point of going into an hysteric spasm. They called Dr. Hurlbut, who was making himself agreeable to Olive just then, to come and see what was the matter with Myrtle.
"A little nervous turn,—that is all," he said. "Open the window. Loose the ribbon round her neck. Rub her hands. Sprinkle some water on her forehead. A few drops of cologne. Room too warm for her,—that's all, I think."
Myrtle came to herself after a time without anything like a regular paroxysm. But she was excitable, and whatever the cause of the disturbance may have been, it seemed prudent that she should go home early; and the excellent Rector insisted on caring for her, much to the discontent of Mr. William Murray Bradshaw.
"Demonish odd," said this gentleman, "wasn't it, Mr. Lindsay, that Miss Hazard should go off in that way? Did you ever see her before?"
"I—I—have seen that young lady before," Clement answered.
"Where did you meet her?" Mr. Bradshaw asked, with eager interest.
"I met her in the Valley of the Shadow of Death," Clement answered, very solemnly.—"I leave this place to-morrow morning. Have you any commands for the city?"
("Knows how to shut a fellow up pretty well for a young one, doesn't he?" Mr. Bradshaw thought to himself.)
"Thank you, no," he answered, recovering himself. "Rather a melancholy place to make acquaintance in, I should think, that Valley you spoke of. I should like to know about it."
Mr. Clement had the power of looking steadily into another person's eyes in a way that was by no means encouraging to curiosity or favorable to the process of cross-examination. Mr. Bradshaw was not disposed to press his question in the face of the calm, repressive look the young man gave him.
"If he wasn't bagged, I shouldn't like the shape of things any too well," he said to himself.
The conversation between Mr. Clement Lindsay and Miss Susan Posey, as they walked home together, was not very brilliant. "I am going to-morrow morning," he said, "and I must bid you good by to-night." Perhaps it is as well to leave two lovers to themselves, under these circumstances.
Before he went he spoke to his worthy host, whose moderate demands he had to satisfy, and with whom he wished to exchange a few words.
"And by the way, Deacon, I have no use for this book, and as it is in a good type, perhaps you would like it. Your favorite, Scott, and one of his greatest works. I have another edition of it at home, and don't care for this volume."
"Thank you, thank you, Mr. Lindsay, much obleeged. I shall read that copy for your sake,—the best of books next to the Bible itself."
After Mr. Lindsay had gone, the Deacon looked at the back of the book. "Scott's Works, Vol. IX." He opened it at hazard, and happened to fall on a well-known page, from which he began reading aloud, slowly,
"When Izrul, of the Lord beloved, Out of the land of bondage came."
The whole hymn pleased the grave Deacon. He had never seen this work of the author of the Commentary. No matter; anything that such a good man wrote must be good reading, and he would save it up for Sunday. The consequence of this was, that, when the Rev. Mr. Stoker stopped in on his way to meeting on the "Sabbath," he turned white with horror at the spectacle of the senior Deacon of his church sitting, open-mouthed and wide-eyed, absorbed in the pages of "Ivanhoe," which he found enormously interesting; but, so far as he had yet read, not occupied with religious matters so much as he had expected.
Myrtle had no explanation to give of her nervous attack. Mr. Bradshaw called the day after the party, but did not see her. He met her walking, and thought she seemed a little more distant than common. That would never do. He called again at The Poplars a few days afterwards, and was met in the entry by Miss Cynthia, with whom he had a long conversation on matters involving Myrtle's interests and their own.
A PASSAGE FROM HAWTHORNE'S ENGLISH NOTEBOOKS.
Our road to Rydal lay through Ambleside, which is certainly a very pretty town, and looks cheerfully on a sunny day. We saw Miss Martineau's residence, called the Knoll, standing high up on a hillock, and having at its foot a Methodist chapel, for which, or whatever place of Christian worship, this good lady can have no occasion. We stopped a moment in the street below her house, and deliberated a little whether to call on her, but concluded otherwise.
After leaving Ambleside, the road winds in and out among the hills, and soon brings us to a sheet (or napkin, rather, than a sheet) of water, which the driver tells us is Rydal Lake! We had already heard that it was but three quarters of a mile long, and one quarter broad; still, it being an idea of considerable size in our minds, we had inevitably drawn its ideal physical proportions on a somewhat corresponding scale. It certainly did look very small; and I said, in my American scorn, that I could carry it away easily in a porringer; for it is nothing more than a grassy-bordered pool among the surrounding hills, which ascend directly from its margin; so that one might fancy it not a permanent body of water, but a rather extensive accumulation of recent rain. Moreover, it was rippled with a breeze, and so, as I remember it, though the sun shone, it looked dull and sulky, like a child out of humor. Now the best thing these small ponds can do is to keep perfectly calm and smooth, and not to attempt to show off any airs of their own, but content themselves with serving as a mirror for whatever of beautiful or picturesque there may be in the scenery around them. The hills about Rydal water are not very lofty, but are sufficiently so as objects of every-day view,—objects to live with,—and they are craggier than those we have hitherto seen, and bare of wood, which indeed would hardly grow on some of their precipitous sides.
On the roadside, as we reach the foot of the lake, stands a spruce and rather large house of modern aspect, but with several gables, and much overgrown with ivy,—a very pretty and comfortable house, built, adorned, and cared for with commendable taste. We inquired whose it was, and the coachman said it was "Mr. Wordsworth's," and that Mrs. Wordsworth was still residing there. So we were much delighted to have seen his abode; and as we were to stay the night at Grasmere, about two miles farther on, we determined to come back and inspect it as particularly as should be allowable. Accordingly, after taking rooms at Brown's Hotel, we drove back in our return car, and, reaching the head of Rydal water, alighted to walk through this familiar scene of so many years of Wordsworth's life. We ought to have seen De Quincey's former residence, and Hartley Coleridge's cottage, I believe, on our way, but were not aware of it at the time. Near the lake there is a stone quarry, and a cavern of some extent, artificially formed, probably, by taking out the stone. Above the shore of the lake, not a great way from Wordsworth's residence, there is a flight of steps hewn in a rock, and ascending to a seat, where a good view of the lake may be attained; and as Wordsworth has doubtless sat there hundreds of times, so did we ascend and sit down and look at the hills and at the flags on the lake's shore.
Reaching the house that had been pointed out to us as Wordsworth's residence, we began to peer about at its front and gables, and over the garden-wall on both sides of the road, quickening our enthusiasm as much as we could, and meditating to pilfer some flower or ivy-leaf from the house or its vicinity, to be kept as sacred memorials. At this juncture a man approached, who announced himself as the gardener of the place, and said, too, that this was not Wordsworth's house at all, but the residence of Mr. Ball, a Quaker gentleman; but that his ground adjoined Wordsworth's, and that he had liberty to take visitors through the latter. How absurd it would have been if we had carried away ivy-leaves and tender recollections from this domicile of a respectable Quaker! The gardener was an intelligent young man, of pleasant, sociable, and respectful address; and as we went along, he talked about the poet, whom he had known, and who, he said, was very familiar with the country people. He led us through Mr. Ball's grounds, up a steep hillside, by winding, gravelled walks, with summer-houses at points favorable for them. It was a very shady and pleasant spot, containing about an acre of ground, and all turned to good account by the manner of laying it out; so that it seemed more than it really was. In one place, on a small, smooth slab of slate let into a rock, there is an inscription by Wordsworth, which I think I have read in his works, claiming kindly regards from those who visit the spot, after his departure, because many trees had been spared at his intercession. His own grounds, or rather his ornamental garden, is separated from Mr. Ball's only by a wire fence, or some such barrier, and the gates have no fastening, so that the whole appears like one possession, and doubtless was so as regarded the poet's walks and enjoyments. We approached by paths so winding, that I hardly know how the house stands in relation to the road; but, after much circuity, we really did see Wordsworth's residence,—an old house, with an uneven ridge-pole, built of stone, no doubt, but plastered over with some neutral tint,—a house that would not have been remarkably pretty in itself, but so delightfully situated, so secluded, so hedged about with shrubbery and adorned with flowers, so ivy-grown on one side, so beautified with the personal care of him who lived in it and loved it, that it seemed the very place for a poet's residence; and as if, while he lived so long in it, his poetry had manifested itself in flowers, shrubbery, and ivy. I never smelt such a delightful fragrance of flowers as there was all through the garden. In front of the house, there is a circular terrace, of two ascents, in raising which Wordsworth had himself performed much of the labor; and here there are seats, from which we obtained a fine view down the valley of the Rothay, with Windermere in the distance,—a view of several miles, and which we did not suppose could be seen, after winding among the hills so far from the lake. It is very beautiful and picture-like. While we sat here, mamma happened to refer to the ballad of little Barbara Lewthwaite, and Julian began to repeat the poem concerning her; and the gardener said that little Barbara had died not a great while ago, an elderly woman, leaving grown-up children behind her. Her marriage-name was Thompson, and the gardener believed there was nothing remarkable in her character.
There is a summer-house at one extremity of the grounds, in deepest shadow, but with glimpses of mountain-views through trees which shut it in, and which have spread intercepting boughs since Wordsworth died. It is lined with pine-cones, in a pretty way enough, but of doubtful taste. I rather wonder that people of real taste should help Nature out, and beautify her, or perhaps rather prettify her so much as they do,—opening vistas, showing one thing, hiding another, making a scene picturesque whether or no. I cannot rid myself of the feeling that there is something false, a kind of humbug, in all this. At any rate, the traces of it do not contribute to my enjoyment, and, indeed, it ought to be done so exquisitely as to leave no trace. But I ought not to criticise in any way a spot which gave me so much pleasure, and where it is good to think of Wordsworth in quiet, past days, walking in his home-shadow of trees which he knew, and training flowers, and trimming shrubs, and chanting in an undertone his own verses, up and down the winding walks.
The gardener gave Julian a cone from the summer-house, which had fallen on the seat, and mamma got some mignonette, and leaves of laurel and ivy, and we wended our way back to the hotel.
Wordsworth was not the owner of this house, it being the property of Lady Fleming. Mrs. Wordsworth still lives there, and is now at home.
Five o'clock.—All day it has been cloudy and showery, with thunder now and then; the mists hang low on the surrounding hills, adown which, at various points, we can see the snow-white fall of little streamlets—forces they call them here—swollen by the rain. An overcast day is not so gloomy in the hill-country as in the lowlands; there are more breaks, more transfusion of sky-light through the gloom, as has been the case to-day; and, as I found in Lenox, we get better acquainted with clouds by seeing at what height they lie on the hillsides, and find that the difference betwixt a fair day and a cloudy and rainy one is very superficial, after all. Nevertheless, rain is rain, and wets a man just as much among the mountains as anywhere else; so we have been kept within doors all day, till an hour or so ago, when Julian and I went down to the village in quest of the post-office.
We took a path that leads from the hotel across the fields, and, coming into a wood, crosses the Rothay by a one-arched bridge, and passes the village church. The Rothay is very swift and turbulent to-day, and hurries along with foam-specks on its surface, filling its banks from brim to brim, a stream perhaps twenty feet wide, perhaps more; for I am willing that the good little river should have all it can fairly claim. It is the St. Lawrence of several of these English lakes, through which it flows, and carries off their superfluous waters. In its haste, and with its rushing sound, it was pleasant both to see and hear; and it sweeps by one side of the old churchyard where Wordsworth lies buried,—the side where his grave is made. The church of Grasmere is a very plain structure, with a low body, on one side of which is a low porch with a pointed arch. The tower is square, and looks ancient; but the whole is overlaid with plaster of a buff or pale-yellow hue. It was originally built, I suppose, of rough, shingly stones, as many of the houses hereabouts are now, and the plaster is used to give a finish. We found the gate of the churchyard wide open; and the grass was lying on the graves, having probably been mowed yesterday. It is but a small churchyard, and with few monuments of any pretension in it, most of them being slate headstones, standing erect. From the gate at which we entered a distinct foot-track leads to the corner nearest the river-side, and I turned into it by a sort of instinct, the more readily as I saw a tourist-looking man approaching from that point, and a woman looking among the gravestones. Both of these persons had gone by the time I came up, so that Julian and I were left to find Wordsworth's grave all by ourselves.
At this corner of the churchyard there is a hawthorn bush or tree, the extremest branches of which stretch as far as where Wordsworth lies. This whole corner seems to be devoted to himself and his family and friends; and they all lie very closely together, side by side, and head to foot, as room could conveniently be found. Hartley Coleridge lies a little behind, in the direction of the church, his feet being towards Wordsworth's head, who lies in the row of those of his own blood. I found out Hartley Coleridge's grave sooner than Wordsworth's; for it is of marble, and, though simple enough, has more of sculptured device about it, having been erected, as I think the inscription states, by his brother and sister. Wordsworth's has only the very simplest slab of slate, with "William Wordsworth" and nothing else upon it. As I recollect it, it is the midmost grave of the row. It is, or has been, well grass-grown, but the grass is quite worn away from the top, though sufficiently luxuriant at the sides. It looks as if people had stood upon it, and so does the grave next to it, which, I believe, is of one of his children. I plucked some grass and weeds from it; and as he was buried within so few years, they may fairly be supposed to have drawn their nutriment from his mortal remains, and I gathered them from just above his head. There is no fault to be found with his grave,—within view of the hills, within sound of the river, murmuring near by,—no fault, except that he is crowded so closely with his kindred; and, moreover, that, being so old a churchyard, the earth over him must all have been human once. He might have had fresh earth to himself, but he chose this grave deliberately. No very stately and broad-based monument can ever be erected over it, without infringing upon, covering, and overshadowing the graves, not only of his family, but of individuals who probably were quite disconnected with him. But it is pleasant to think and know—were it but on the evidence of this choice of a resting-place—that he did not care for a stately monument. After leaving the churchyard, we wandered about in quest of the post-office, and for a long time without success. This little town of Grasmere seems to me as pretty a place as ever I met with in my life. It is quite shut in by hills that rise up immediately around it, like a neighborhood of kindly giants. These hills descend steeply to the verge of the level on which the village stands, and there they terminate at once, the whole site of the little town being as even as a floor. I call it a village; but it is no village at all, all the dwellings standing apart, each in its own little domain, and each, I believe, with its own little lane leading to it, independently of the rest. Most of these are old cottages, plastered white, with antique porches, and roses and other vines trained against them, and shrubbery growing about them; and some are covered with ivy. There are a few edifices of more pretension and of modern build, but not so strikingly as to put the rest out of countenance. The post-office, when we found it, proved to be an ivied cottage, with a good deal of shrubbery round it, having its own pathway, like the other cottages. The whole looks like a real seclusion, shut out from the great world by these encircling hills, on the sides of which, whenever they are not too steep, you see the division-lines of property, and tokens of cultivation,—taking from them their pretensions to savage majesty, but bringing them nearer to the heart of man.
Since writing the above, I have been again with S—— to see Wordsworth's grave, and, finding the door of the church open, we went in. A woman and little girl were sweeping at the farther end, and the woman came towards us out of the cloud of dust which she had raised. We were surprised at the extremely antique appearance of the church. It is paved with bluish-gray flagstones, over which uncounted generations have trodden, leaving the floor as well laid as ever. The walls are very thick, and the arched windows open through them at a considerable distance above the floor. And down through the centre of the church runs a row of five arches, very rude and round-headed, all of rough stone, supported by rough and massive pillars, or rather square stone blocks, which stand in the pews, and stood in the same places, probably, long before the wood of those pews began to grow. Above this row of arches is another row, built upon the same mass of stone, and almost as broad, but lower; and on this upper row rests the framework, the oaken beams, the black skeleton of the roof. It is a very clumsy contrivance for supporting the roof, and if it were modern we certainly should condemn it as very ugly; but being the relic of a simple age, it comes in well with the antique simplicity of the whole structure. The roof goes up, barn-like, into its natural angle, and all the rafters and cross-beams are visible. There is an old font; and in the chancel is a niche, where, judging from a similar one in Furness Abbey, the holy water used to be placed for the priest's use while celebrating mass. Around the inside of the porch is a stone bench, placed against the wall, narrow and uneasy, but where a great many people had sat who now have found quieter resting-places.
The woman was a very intelligent-looking person, not of the usual English ruddiness, but rather thin and somewhat pale, though bright of aspect. Her way of talking was very agreeable. She inquired if we wished to see Wordsworth's monument, and at once showed it to us,—a slab of white marble fixed against the upper end of the central row of stone arches, with a pretty long inscription, and a profile bust, in bas-relief, of his aged countenance. The monument is placed directly over Wordsworth's pew, and could best be seen and read from the very corner-seat where he used to sit. The pew is one of those occupying the centre of the church, and is just across the aisle from the pulpit, and is the best of all for the purpose of seeing and hearing the clergyman, and likewise as convenient as any, from its neighborhood to the altar. On the other side of the aisle, beneath the pulpit, is Lady Fleming's pew. This and one or two others are curtained; Wordsworth's was not. I think I can bring up his image in that corner seat of his pew—a white-headed, tall, spare man, plain in aspect—better than in any other situation. The woman said that she had known him very well, and that he had made some verses on a sister of hers. She repeated the first lines, something about a lamb; but neither S—— nor I remembered them.
On the walls of the chancel there are monuments to the Flemings, and painted escutcheons of their arms; and along the side walls also, and on the square pillars of the row of arches, there are other monuments, generally of white marble, with the letters of the inscription blackened. On these pillars, likewise, and in many places in the walls, were hung verses from Scripture, painted on boards. At one of the doors was a poor-box, an elaborately carved little box of oak, with the date 1648, and the name of the church—St. Oswald's—upon it. The whole interior of the edifice was plain, simple, almost to grimness,—or would have been so, only that the foolish church-wardens, or other authority, have washed it over with the same buff color with which they have overlaid the exterior. It is a pity; it lightens it up, and desecrates it horribly, especially as the woman says that there were formerly paintings on the walls, now obliterated forever. I could have stayed in the old church much longer, and could write much more about it, but there must be an end to everything. Pacing it from the farther end to the elevation before the altar, I found that it was twenty-five paces long.
On looking again at the Rothay, I find I did it some injustice; for at the bridge, in its present swollen state, it is nearer twenty yards than twenty feet across. Its waters are very clear, and it rushes along with a speed which is delightful to see, after an acquaintance with the muddy and sluggish Avon and Leam.
Since tea, I have taken a stroll from the hotel in a different direction from usual, and passed the Swan Inn, where Scott used to go daily to get a draught of liquor when he was visiting Wordsworth, who had no wine nor other inspiriting fluid in his house. It stands directly on the wayside, a small, whitewashed house, with an addition in the rear that seems to have been built since Scott's time. On the door is the painted sign of a swan,—and the name "Scott's Swan Hotel." I walked a considerable distance beyond it; but a shower coming up, I turned back, entered the inn, and, following the mistress into a snug little room, was served with a glass of bitter ale. It is a very plain and homely inn, and certainly could not have satisfied Scott's wants, if he had required anything very farfetched or delicate in his potations. I found two Westmoreland peasants in the room with ale before them. One went away almost immediately; but the other remained, and, entering into conversation with him, he told me that he was going to New Zealand, and expected to sail in September. I announced myself as an American, and he said that a large party had lately gone from hereabouts to America; but he seemed not to understand that there was any distinction between Canada and the States. These people had gone to Quebec. He was a very civil, well-behaved, kindly sort of person, of a simple character, which I took to belong to the class and locality, rather than to himself individually. I could not very well understand all that he said, owing to his provincial dialect; and when he spoke to his own countrymen, or to the women of the house, I really could but just catch a word here and there. How long it takes to melt English down into a homogeneous mass! He told me that there was a public library in Grasmere, to which he has access in common with the other inhabitants, and a reading-room connected with it, where he reads the "Times" in the evening. There was no American smartness in his mind. When I left the house, it was showering briskly; but the drops quite ceased, and the clouds began to break away, before I reached my hotel, and I saw the new moon over my right shoulder.
* * * * *
July 21.—We left Grasmere yesterday, after breakfast, it being a delightful morning, with some clouds, but the cheerfullest sunshine on great part of the mountain-sides and on ourselves. We returned, in the first place, to Ambleside, along the border of Grasmere Lake, which would be a pretty little piece of water, with its steep and high-surrounding hills, were it not that a stubborn and straight-lined stone fence, running along the eastern shore, by the roadside, quite spoils its appearance. Rydal water, though nothing can make a lake of it, looked prettier and less diminutive than at the first view; and, in fact, I find that it is impossible to know accurately how any prospect or other thing looks until after at least a second view, which always essentially corrects the first. This, I think, is especially true in regard to objects which we have heard much about, and exercised our imagination upon; the first view being a vain attempt to reconcile our idea with the reality, and at the second we begin to accept the thing for what it really is. Wordsworth's situation is really a beautiful one; and Nab Scaur behind his house rises with a grand, protecting air. We passed Nab's cottage, in which De Quincey formerly lived, and where Hartley Coleridge lived and died. It is a small, buff-tinted, plastered, stone cottage, immediately on the roadside, and originally, I should think, of a very humble class; but it now looks as if persons of taste might some time or other have sat down in it, and caused flowers to spring up about it. It is very agreeably situated, under the great, precipitous hill, and with Rydal water close at hand, on the other side of the road. An advertisement of lodgings to let was put up on this cottage.
I question whether any part of the world looks so beautiful as England—this part of England, at least—on a fine summer morning. It makes one think the more cheerfully of human life to see such a bright, universal verdure; such sweet, rural, peaceful, flower-bordered cottages,—not cottages of gentility, but dwellings of the laboring poor; such nice villas along the roadside, so tastefully contrived for comfort and beauty, and adorned more and more, year after year, with the care and afterthought of people who mean to live in them a great while, and feel as if their children might live in them also. And so they plant trees to overshadow their walks, and train ivy and all beautiful vines up against their walls,—and thus live for the future in another sense than we Americans do. And the climate helps them out, and makes everything moist and green, and full of tender life, instead of dry and arid, as human life and vegetable life are so apt to be with us. Certainly, England can present a more attractive face than we can, even in its humbler modes of life,—to say nothing of the beautiful lives that might be led, one would think, by the higher classes, whose gateways, with broad, smooth gravelled drives leading through them, one sees every mile or two along the road, winding into some proud seclusion. All this is passing away, and society must assume new relations; but there is no harm in believing that there has been something very good in English life,—good for all classes, while the world was in a state out of which these forms naturally grew.
In the porch that brier-vines smother, At her wheel, sits Mona's mother. O, the day is dying bright! Roseate shadows, silver dimming, Ruby lights through amber swimming, Bring the still and starry night.
Sudden she is 'ware of shadows Going out across the meadows From the slowly sinking sun,— Going through the misty spaces That the rippling ruby laces, Shadows, like the violets tangled, Like the soft light, softly mingled, Till the two seem just as one!
Every tell-tale wind doth waft her Little breaths of maiden laughter. O, divinely dies the day! And the swallow, on the rafter, In her nest of sticks and clay,— On the rafter, up above her, With her patience doth reprove her, Twittering soft the time away; Never stopping, never stopping, With her wings so warmly dropping Round her nest of sticks and clay.
"Take, my bird, O take some other Eve than this to twitter gay!" Sayeth, prayeth Mona's mother, To the slender-throated swallow On her nest of sticks and clay; For her sad eyes needs must follow Down the misty, mint-sweet hollow, Where the ruby colors play With the gold, and with the gray. "Yet, my little Lady-feather, You do well to sit and sing," Crieth, sigheth Mona's mother. "If you would, you could no other. Can the leaf fail with the spring? Can the tendril stay from twining When the sap begins to run? Or the dew-drop keep from shining With her body full o' the sun? Nor can you, from gladness, either; Therefore, you do well to sing. Up and o'er the downy lining Of your bird-bed I can see Two round little heads together, Pushed out softly through your wing. But alas! my bird, for me!"
In the porch with roses burning All across, she sitteth lonely. O, her soul is dark with dread! Round and round her slow wheel turning, Lady brow down-dropped serenely, Lady hand uplifted queenly, Pausing in the spinning only To rejoin the broken thread,— Pausing only for the winding, With the carded silken binding Of the flax, the distaff-head.
All along the branches creeping, To their leafy beds of sleeping Go the blue-birds and the brown; Blackbird stoppeth now his clamor, And the little yellowhammer Droppeth head in winglet down. Now the rocks rise bleak and barren Through the twilight, gray and still; In the marsh-land now the heron Clappeth close his horny bill. Death-watch now begins his drumming And the fire-fly, going, coming, Weaveth zigzag lines of light,— Lines of zigzag, golden-threaded, Up the marshy valley, shaded O'er and o'er with vapors white. Now the lily, open-hearted, Of her dragon-fly deserted, Swinging on the wind so low, Gives herself, with trust audacious, To the wild warm wave that washes Through her fingers, soft and slow.
O the eyes of Mona's mother! Dim they grow with tears unshed; For no longer may they follow Down the misty mint-sweet hollow, Down along the yellow mosses That the brook with silver crosses. Ah! the day is dead, is dead; And the cold and curdling shadows, Stretching from the long, low meadows, Darker, deeper, nearer spread, Till she cannot see the twining Of the briers, nor see the lining Round the porch of roses red,— Till she cannot see the hollow, Nor the little steel-winged swallow, On her clay-built nest o'erhead.
Mona's mother falleth mourning: O, 't is hard, so hard, to see Prattling child to woman turning, As to grander company! Little heart she lulled with hushes Beating, burning up with blushes, All with meditative dreaming On the dear delicious gleaming Of the bridal veil and ring; Finding in the sweet ovations Of its new, untried relations Better joys than she can bring.
In her hand her wheel she keepeth, And her heart within her leapeth, With a burdened, bashful yearning, For the babe's weight on her knee, For the loving lisp of glee, Sweet as larks' throats in the morning, Sweet as hum of honey-bee.
"O my child!" cries Mona's mother, "Will you, can you take another Name ere mine upon your lips? Can you, only for the asking, Give to other hands the clasping Of your rosy finger-tips?"
Fear on fear her sad soul borrows,— O the dews are falling fair! But no fair thing now can move her; Vainly walks the moon above her, Turning out her golden furrows On the cloudy fields of air.
Sudden she is 'ware of shadows, Coming in across the meadows, And of murmurs, low as love,— Murmurs mingled like the meeting Of the winds, or like the beating Of the wings of dove with dove.
In her hand the slow wheel stoppeth, Silken flax from distaff droppeth, And a cruel, killing pain Striketh up from heart to brain; And she knoweth by that token That the spinning all is vain, That the troth-plight has been spoken, And the thread of life thus broken Never can be joined again.
Those of my readers who have frequented the garden of Doctor Rappaccini no doubt recall with perfect distinctness the quaint old city of Padua. They remember its miles and miles of dim arcade over-roofing the sidewalks everywhere, affording excellent opportunity for the flirtation of lovers by day and the vengeance of rivals by night. They have seen the now vacant streets thronged with maskers, and the Venetian Podesta going in gorgeous state to and from the vast Palazzo della Ragione. They have witnessed ringing tournaments in those sad, empty squares, and races in the Prato della Valle, and many other wonders of different epochs, and their pleasure makes me half sorry that I should have lived for several years within an hour by rail from Padua, and should know little or nothing of these great sights from actual observation. I take shame to myself for having visited Padua so often and so familiarly as I used to do,—for having been bored and hungry there,—for having had toothache there, upon one occasion,—for having rejoiced more in a cup of coffee at Pedrocchi's than in the whole history of Padua,—for having slept repeatedly in the bad-bedded hotels of Padua and never once dreamt of Portia,—for having been more taken by the salti mortali[A] of a waiter who summed up my account at a Paduan restaurant, than by all the strategies with which the city has been many times captured and recaptured. Had I viewed Padua only over the wall of Doctor Rappaccini's garden, how different my impressions of the city would now be! This is one of the drawbacks of actual knowledge.
"Ah! how can you write about Spain when once you have been there?" asked Heine of Theophile Gautier setting out on a journey thither.
Nevertheless it seems to me that I remember something about Padua with a sort of romantic pleasure. There was a certain charm which I can dimly recall, in sauntering along the top of the old wall of the city, and looking down upon the plumy crests of the Indian-corn that nourished up so mightily from the dry bed of the moat. At such times I could not help figuring to myself the many sieges that the wall had known, with the fierce assault by day, the secret attack by night, the swarming foe upon the plains below, the bristling arms of the besieged upon the wall, the boom of the great mortars made of ropes and leather and throwing mighty balls of stone, the stormy flight of arrows, the ladders planted against the defences and staggering headlong into the moat, enriched for future agriculture not only by its sluggish waters, but by the blood of many men. I suppose that most of these visions were old stage spectacles furbished up anew, and that my armies were chiefly equipped with their obsolete implements of warfare from museums of armor and from cabinets of antiquities; but they were very vivid, for all that.
I was never able, in passing a certain one of the city gates, to divest myself of an historic interest in the great loads of hay waiting admission on the outside. For an instant they masked again the Venetian troops that, in the war of the League of Cambray, entered the city in the hay-carts, shot down the landsknechts at the gates, and, uniting with the citizens, cut the German garrison to pieces. But it was a thing long past. The German garrison was here again; and the heirs of the landsknechts went clanking through the gate to the parade-ground, with that fierce clamor of their kettle-drums which is so much fiercer because unmingled with the noise of fifes. Once more now the Germans are gone, and, let us trust, forever; but when I saw them, there seemed little hope of their going. They had a great Biergarten on the top of the wall, and they had set up the altars of their heavy Bacchus in many parts of the city.
I please myself with thinking that, if I walked on such a spring day as this in the arcaded Paduan streets, I should catch glimpses, through the gateways of the palaces, of gardens full of vivid bloom, and of fountains that tinkle there forever. If it were autumn, and I were in the great market-place before the Palazzo della Ragione, I should hear the baskets of amber-hued and honeyed grapes humming with the murmur of multitudinous bees, and making a music as if the wine itself were already singing in their gentle hearts. It is a great field of succulent verdure, that wide old market-place; and fancy loves to browse about among its gay stores of fruits and vegetables, brought thither by the world-old peasant-women who have been bringing fruits and vegetables to the Paduan market for so many centuries. They sit upon the ground before their great panniers, and knit and doze, and wake up with a drowsy "Comandala?" as you linger to look at their grapes. They have each a pair of scales,—the emblem of Injustice,—and will weigh you out a scant measure of the fruit, if you like. Their faces are yellow as parchment, and Time has written them so full of wrinkles that there is not room for another line. Doubtless these old parchment visages are palimpsests, and would tell the whole history of Padua if you could get at each successive inscription. Among their primal records there must be some account of the Roman city, as each little contadinella, remembered it on market-days; and one might read of the terror of Attila's sack, a little later, with the peasant-maid's personal recollections of the bold Hunnish trooper who ate up the grapes in her basket, and kissed her hard, round red cheeks,—for in that time she was a blooming girl,—and paid nothing for either privilege. What wild and confused reminiscences on the wrinkled visage we should find thereafter of the fierce republican times, of Ecelino, of the Carraras, of the Venetian rule! And is it not sad to think of systems and peoples all passing away, and these ancient women lasting still, and still selling grapes in front of the Palazzo della Ragione? What a long mortality!
The youngest of their number is a thousand years older than the palace, which was begun in the twelfth century, and which is much the same now as it was when first completed. I know that, if I entered it, I should be sure of finding the great hall of the palace—the vastest hall in the world—dim and dull and dusty and delightful, with nothing in it except at one end Donatello's colossal marble-headed wooden horse of Troy, stared at from the other end by the two dog-faced Egyptian women in basalt placed there by Belzoni.
Late in the drowsy summer afternoons I should have the Court of the University all to myself, and might study unmolested the blazons of the noble youth who have attended the school in different centuries ever since 1200, and have left their escutcheons on the walls to commemorate them. At the foot of the stairway ascending to the schools from the court is the statue of the learned lady who was once a professor in the University, and who, if her likeness belie not her looks, must have given a great charm to student life in other times. At present there are no lady professors at Padua, any more than at Harvard; and during late years the schools have suffered greatly from the interference of the Austrian government, which frequently closed them for months, on account of political demonstrations among the students. But now there is an end of this and many other stupid oppressions; and the time-honored University will doubtless regain its ancient importance. Even in 1864 it had nearly fifteen hundred students, and one met them everywhere under the arcades, and could not well mistake them, with that blended air of pirate and dandy which these studious young men loved to assume. They were to be seen a good deal on the promenades outside the walls, where the Paduan ladies are driven in their carriages in the afternoon, and where one sees the blood-horses and fine equipages for which Padua is famous. There used once to be races in the Prato della Valle, after the Italian notion of horse-races; but these are now discontinued, and there is nothing to be found there but the statues of scholars and soldiers and statesmen, posted in a circle around the old race-course. If you strolled thither about dusk on such a day as this, you might see the statues unbend a little from their stony rigidity, and in the failing light nod to each other very pleasantly through the trees. And if you stayed in Padua over night, what could be better to-morrow morning than a stroll through the great Botanical Garden,—the oldest botanical garden in the world,—the garden which first received in Europe the strange and splendid growths of our hemisphere,—the garden where Doctor Rappaccini doubtless found the germ of his mortal plant?