THE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE
Of Literature, Art, and Science.
Vol. V. NEW-YORK, FEBRUARY 1, 1852. No. II.
THE LATE MARSHAL SOULT, DUKE OF DALMATIA.
MARSHAL SOULT, DUKE OF DALMATIA. THE HOMES OF COWLEY AND FOX. CHERTSEY AND ITS FAMOUS CHARACTERS. TRAUGOTT BROMME ON THE UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA, TEXAS AND THE COLONIES. A VISIT TO THE FIRE WORSHIPPERS' TEMPLE AT BAKU. A NEW PORTRAIT OF CICERO. LORD MAHON'S HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. FAUST OF WITTENBERG AND FUST OF MENTZ. SOME SMALL POEMS. MR. JUSTICE STORY, WITH SOME REMINISCENT REFLECTIONS. COLUMBUS AT THE GATES OF GENOA. FEATHERTOP: A MORALIZED LEGEND. SMILES AND TEARS. FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND THE LATEST MIRACLES. THE SONG QUEEN. LOVE SONG. AUTUMN LINES. THE PUNISHMENT OF GINA MONTANI. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VISION OF CHARLES XI. DIVINATION, WITCHCRAFT, AND MESMERISM. A CHAPTER OF EPITAPHS. THE GOOD OLD TIMES IN PARIS. THE LEGEND OF THE WEEPING CHAMBER. THE BULL FIGHT OF MADRID. THE LADY AND THE FLOWER. AN OLD MAID'S FIRST LOVE. MADEMOISELLE DE CAMARGO. MY NOVEL: BOOK IX. - INITIAL CHAPTER. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. CHAPTER VI. CHAPTER VII. CHAPTER VIII. REMINISCENCES OF PRINTERS, AUTHORS, AND BOOKSELLERS IN NEW-YORK. Noctes Amicae. Authors and Books THE FINE ARTS Historical Review of the Month Scientific Discoveries and Proceedings of Learned Societies. Recent Deaths. Ladies' Fashions for February.
MARSHAL SOULT, DUKE OF DALMATIA.
On the preceding page is a portrait, and under the head of Recent Deaths, in another part of this magazine, is a sketch of the history of NICHOLAS JEAN-DE-DIEU SOULT, the last of the great Marshals created by the Emperor Napoleon. He was unquestionably possessed of extraordinary abilities, fitting him for eminence in many and diverse capacities, but it cannot be said that he was of the first rank of illustrious generals, as the world has been led to suppose, chiefly by the masterly but partial delineations of his career in the Peninsula by General Napier. He had a genius for war which qualified him for every position in connection with it but that of leader in the field. The subtle and irreversible decisions of Napoleon followed his astonishingly quick apprehensions of facts, as suddenly as the thunderbolt follows lightning; but Soult, profoundly familiar with all the arts of war, and surpassing any of the great commanders with whom he was associated except only his chief, in the wisdom of his judgments, was yet so slow in his intellectual operations, so destitute of the enthusiasm, passion, and fire, which in high circumstance give an almost miraculous activity to the minds of the first order of men, that he could never have entitled himself to all the precedences he has received in history. Napoleon understood him, and in a few pregnant words addressed to O'Meara, gave that measure of his character which will be adopted as the final opinion of the world. "He is," said Napoleon, "an excellent minister at war, or major-general of an army, one who knows much better how to manage an army than to command in chief."
The course of Soult as a citizen, a legislator, and a minister, was not one upon which his best biographers will linger with much satisfaction. The glory he had achieved as one of the lieutenants of Napoleon, in that turbulent and grand career which has no parallel for interest or importance in human history, was his only claim to distinction in politics. His master had an ambition as fair in its proportions as it was vast in its extent, and brought to every purpose the same forces of character and preternatural energy of intelligence; but Soult had no love for civil duties, but little capacity for them, and he accepted place as a gratification of vanity or a means of success in mercenary aims. We see in all his private and political life "the soilure of his revolutionary origin,"—proofs that he loved money and power far more than he loved honor, and himself far more than his country or mankind.
The last of the imperial marshals, the last of that gigantic race who filled the world with a red glory like the gloom which will precede the judgment, closed his stormy life peacefully in the place where he was born, and thence was borne to the Invalides, to "sleep well" with his old companions."
THE HOMES OF COWLEY AND FOX.
We have in the last Art Journal another of the pleasant gossipping Pilgrimages to English Shrines, by Mrs. S. C. HALL, and the following abridgement of it will please all who have perused the previous papers of the series. In Chertsey and its neighborhood are memorials of some of the noblest men of England.
CHERTSEY AND ITS FAMOUS CHARACTERS.
The county of Surrey is rich to overflowing in memories, both of persons and events, and the little quaint and quiet town of Chertsey could tell of the gorgeous and gloomy past as much as many of its ancient neighbors within a day's drive of the city. Had its old abbey stones but tongues, how they could discourse of years when a visit to Chertsey was an undertaking; though now the distance is but half an hour.
Nowhere within twenty miles of London does the Thames appear more queenly, or sweep with greater grace through its fertile dominions, than it does at Chertsey. It is, indeed, delightful to stand on the bridge in the glowing sunset of a summer evening, and turning from the refreshing green of the Shepperton Range, look into the deep clear blue of the flowing river, while the murmur of the waters rushing through Laleham Lock give a sort of spirit music to the scene. On the right, as you leave Chertsey, the river bends gracefully towards the double bridge of Walton, and to the left, it undulates smoothly along, having passed Runnymede and Staines, while the almost conical hill of St. Anne's attracts attention by its abrupt and singular form when viewed from the vale of the Thames.
About a mile, on the Walton side, from our favorite bridge (Old Camden tells us so), is the spot where Caesar crossed the Thames. Were the peasantry as imaginative as their brethren of Killarney, what legends would have grown out of this tradition; how often would the "noblest Roman of them all" have been seen by the pale moonlight leading his steed over the waters of the rapid river—how many would have heard Cassivelaunus himself during the stillness of some particular Midsummer night working at the rude defence which can still be traced beneath the blue waters of the Thames. What hosts of pale and ghastly spectres would have risen from those tranquil banks, and from the deepest hollows of the rushing current, and—like the Huns, who almost live on the inspired canvas of Kaulbach,—fought their last earthly battle, again and again, in the spirit world, amid the stars! But ours is no region of romance; even remnants of history, which go beyond the commonest capacity, are rejected as dreams, or put aside as legends. But history has enough to tell to interest us all; and we may be satisfied with the abundant enjoyment we have in delicious rambles through the lanes and up the hills, along the fair river's banks, and among the many traditional ruins of ancient and beautiful Surrey.
Never was desolation more complete than in the ruin of the Mitred Abbey of Chertsey; hardly one stone remains above another to tell where this stately edifice—since the far-away year 664—grew and flourished, lording it with imperial sway over, not only the surrounding villages, but extending its paternal wings into Middlesex and even as far as London. The abbey was of the Benedictine order, and founded, almost as soon as the Saxons were converted from Paganism; but it was finished and chiefly endowed by Frithwald, Earl of Surrey. The endowment prospered rarely; the establishment increased in the reputation of wealth and sanctity; that it was "thickly populated" is certain, for when the abbey was sacked and burnt by the Danes, in the ninth century, the abbot, and ninety monks, were barbarously murdered by the invaders.
Standing upon the site of their now obliterated cloisters and towers, their aisles and dormitories, cells and confessionals, seeing nothing but the dank, damp grass, and the tracings of the fish-ponds—stagnant pools in our day—it is almost impossible to realize the onslaught of these wild barbarians panting for plunder, the earnest defence of men who fought (the monks of old could wield either sword or crosier) for life or death, the terrible destruction, the treasures and relics, and painted glass, and monuments, the plunder of the secret almerys, the intoxicated triumph of those rude northern hordes let loose in our fair and lovely island; what scenes of savagery, where now the jackdaw builds, and the blackbird whistles, and the wild water-rat plays with her brood amongst the tangled weeds!
The fierce sea-kings being driven back to their frozen land, King Edgar, willing to serve God after the fashion of his times, refounded the Abbey of Chertsey, dedicating it to St. Peter, and vying with Pope Alexander in augmenting its privileges and its wealth.
Some of the abbots took great interest in home improvements, planting woods, conducting streams, enlarging ponds—building, now a mill, now a dove-cot, according to the wants of the abbey or their own fancies. Henry I. granted them permission to keep dogs, that, according to the old chronicle, they might take "hare, fox, and cats." King John, in the first year of his reign, gave them ample confirmation of all their privileges, which, it would seem, they had somewhat abused, for we find that the sovereign seized their manors of Egham and "Torp" (Thorp) on account of a servant of the abbot's having killed "Hagh de Torp." Oh, rare "old times!" The abbot was mulcted in a heavy fine. Then, while Bartholomew de Winchester was abbot, from 1272 until 1307, during the reign of our first Edward, complaints were made to Pope Gregory X. that the possessions of the abbey were alienated to civilians and laymen, whereupon the pope issued a bull ordering such grants to be revoked.
It is worthy of note, that the Chertsey monastery sheltered, for a time, the remains of the pious, but unfortunate, Henry VI.
"Poor key-cold figure of a Holy King, Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster."
And the reader of Shakespeare will recall the scene in which Richard meets the Lady Anne on her way to Chertsey with her husband's body. This poor king's remains had a claim to be well received by the monks of Chertsey Abbey, for he had granted to the abbot the privilege of holding a fair on St. Anne's-hill, then called Mount Eldebury, on the feast of St. Anne's (the 26th of July): the fair has changed its time and quarters as well as its patron, and is held in the town on the 6th of August, and called Black Cherry Fair. Manning, in his history of Surrey, says, that the tolls of this fair were taken by the abbot, and are now taken by the owner of the site of the Abbey House; thus the memory of King Henry VI. is commemorated in the town of Chertsey to this day, by the sale of black cherries in the harvest month of August!
"THE NUN'S WELL."
Centuries passed over those magnificent abbeys, whose ruins in many places add so much beauty to our fertile landscapes; they grew and grew, and added acre to acre, and stone to stone, and knowledge to knowledge; but most they cherished the knowledge which blazed like a lamp under a bushel, and kept all but themselves in darkness; they preached no freedom in Christ to the Christian world, they abolished no serfdom, they taught no liberty, they enslaved even those who in their turn enslaved their "born thralls," and saw no evil in it. Oh, rare old times! Better it is for us that the site of Chertsey Abbey should be scarcely traceable now-a-days than that it should be as it was, with its proud pageants and pent-up learning!—Yet we have neither sympathy no respect for that foul king, who, to serve his own carnal purposes, overthrew the very faith which had hallowed his throne. But he did not attack and storm the Abbey of Chertsey, as he did other religious houses. He came to them, this Eighth Harry, with a fair show of kindness, saying that "to the honor of God, and for the health of his soul, he proposed and most nobly intended to refound the late Monastery, Priory, or Abbey of Bisham in Berks, and to incorporate and establish the Abbot and Convent of Chertsey, as Abbot and Convent of Bisham, and to endow them with all the Manors late belonging to Bisham." How the then Abbot John Cordrey, and his brethren, must have shivered at the conditions; how they must have grieved at quitting their cherished home, their stews and fish-ponds, their rich meadows of Thorpe, overlooked by the woods of Eldebury hill, their nursing ground where their calves and young lambs were stowed in luxurious safety in the pleasant farm of Simple Marsh at Addlestone!
But their star was setting, and they were forced to "give, sell, grant and confirm, to the king their house and all manors belonging to them."
The total destruction of the Abbey must have amazed the whole country. An earthquake could hardly have obliterated it more entirely. Aubrey, writing in the year 1673, says "of this great Abbey, scarce any thing of the old building remains, except the out walls about it. Out of this ruin, is built a 'fair house,' which is now in possession of Sir Nicholas Carew, master of the Buckhounds." Dr. Stukeley alludes to this house, in a letter written in 1752; he speaks of the inveterate destruction, and of "the gardener" carrying him through a "court" where he saw the remains of the church of the Abbey. He says the "east end reached up to an artificial mount along the garden wall; that mount and all the terraces of the pleasure garden, to the back front of the house, are entirely made up of the sacred rudera or rubbish of continual devastations. Bones of abbots, monks, and great personages, who were buried in large numbers in the church and cloisters which lay on the south side of the church, were spread thick all over the garden, so that one may pick up whole handsfull of them every where amongst the garden stuff." Brayley mentions in his pleasant History of Surrey, that this artificial mount was levelled in 1810, and its materials employed to fill up a pond. Many human skulls and bones were found intermixed with the chalk and mortar of which it had been formed. Fragments of old tiles were also frequently found, and are still sometimes turned up. No trace even of the "Abbey house" is left; it was purchased in 1809 by a stock-broker, who in the following year sold the materials—and so ends the great monastic history of Chertsey. Where are now its spiritualities in Surrey?—its temporalities in Berkshire and Hampshire?—its revenues of Stanwell, and rents of assize?—its spiritualities in Cardiganshire? Alas! they have left no sign, except on the yellow parchment—of rare value to the antiquary.
Those who desire, like ourselves, to investigate what tradition has sanctified, will do well to turn down a lane beyond Chertsey Church, which leads directly to the Abbey bridge, and there, amid tangled hedge rows and orchards, stands the fragment of an arch, partly built up, and so to say, disfigured by brick-work, and an old wall, both evidently portions of the Abbey. In the wall are a great number of what the people call "black stones," a geological formation, making them seem fused by fire. Layers of tiles were also inserted in this wall, and where the cement has dropped away they can be distinctly traced; there is also an ivy, very aged indeed; it is so knotted and thick that it seems to grow through the stones, the soil has so evidently encroached on the wall that it is most probably rooted at the foundation. The pleasant market garden of Mr. Roake covers the actual ground on which the Abbey stood. The workmen frequently turn up broken tiles and human bones, and there is no doubt that by digging deeper much would be discovered that might elucidate the history of the past. At the farther end of the market garden a vault has been discovered which is of considerable length and breadth; but the water rises so high in it (except after a long continuance of dry weather has sealed the land springs) that it is impossible to get to the end without wading. An enormous quantity of richly-colored and decorated encaustic tiles have been found here; some are preserved in our local museum. But the most interesting remains in this place are the "stews," or fish-ponds, which run parallel to each other like the bars of a gridiron; these ponds do not communicate one with the other, nor has the water any outlet: a little care and attention might make them valuable for their old purposes; but they are deplorably neglected. Occasionally you see the fin of some huge fish, whose slow movement partakes of the character of the stagnant water he has inhabited for years;—who can tall how many?
"THE GOLDEN GROVE."
"The Abbey River," as it is still called, travels slowly along its way, fertilizing the meadows and imparting life and freshness to the placid scene. The denizens of Chertsey have planted orchards, and in a few instances gardens on its banks. One, the garden of Mr. Herring, is a model of neatness, almost concealed by its roses and carefully tended shrubs. We wandered from orchard to orchard, amid the trees and over the uneven ground; all was so still and lonely that it required the suggestions of an active imagination to believe it had ever been the scene of contention by flood and field. From the Abbey Bridge the richness of the meadow scenery is exceedingly refreshing, the grass is deep and verdant, as it cannot fail to be, lying so low, and fertilized by perpetual moisture.
During their wide-spreading magnificence, the abbots of Chertsey erected a picturesque chapel on the lovely hill of St. Anne: this was done somewhat about the year 1334. Orleton, Bishop of Winchester, granted an indulgence of forty days to such persons as should repair to, and contribute to the fabric and its ornaments.
There is nowhere a more delightful road, than that which leads from the "Golden Grove," rendered picturesque by its old tree, the plantations of Monksgrove on one side, and those of the once residence of Charles James Fox on the other. The road is perfectly embowered, and so close is the foliage that you have no idea of the beautiful view which awaits you, until leaving the statesman's house to the left, you pass through a sort of wicket gate on the right, and follow a foot-path to where two magnificent trees crown the hill; it is wisest to wait until passing along the level ridge you arrive at the "view point," and there, spread around you in such a panorama as England only can show, and show against the world for its extreme richness. On the left is Cooper's Hill, which Denham, that high-priest of "Local poetry," long ago made famous; in the bend just where it meets the plain, you see the towers of Windsor Castle; there is Harrow Hill, the sun shining brightly on its tall church; a deep pall hovers over London, but you can see the dome of St. Paul's looming through the mist; nay, we have heard of those who have told the hour of the day upon its broad-faced clock, with the assistance of a good glass. How beautifully the Thames winds! Ay! there is the grand stand at Epsom, and there Twickenham, delicious, soft, balmy Twickenham; and Richmond Hill—a very queen of beauty!
REMAINS OF CHERTSEY ABBEY.
Yonder, beyond the valley, are Foxes Hills crowned with lofty pines—and that is the church at Staines, and as you turn, there again is Cooper's Hill; Laleham seems spread as a tribute at your feet, and there is no end to the villages and mansions—the parks, and cottages like snow-drops in a parterre, and church spires more than we can number; while close behind us are the stones piled thickly one on the other—the only relics of the holy Chapel of St. Anne.
How grandly the promontory of St. George's Hill stands out—sheltering Weybridge, and forming a beautiful back-ground to Byfleet and the banks of the Way; not forgetting its ruins—a Roman encampment of two thousand years age, and its modern ornaments of rare trees, of which a generous nobleman has made common property, to be enjoyed daily by all who choose. At the foot of this richly planted hill, is the beautiful park of Oatlands—on the eve of becoming an assemblage of villa-grounds. How pleasant to feel that we can account, by our own knowledge of that glowing mount, for all the shades formed by the hills and hollows, and different growths of trees in the depths or heights of "the encampment," which forms the delight of many a toilsome antiquary. Beyond are the more distant eminences of the North Downs, and a tract of country extending into Kent. But we have not yet explored the beauties of this our own hill of Chertsey; truly, to do so, would take a day as long as that of its own black cherry fair.
A path to the left, among the fern and heather, leads to a well, famed for its healing properties—it is called the Nun's Well; even now, the peasants believe that its waters are a cure for diseases of the eye; the path is steep and dangerous, and it is far pleasanter to walk round the brow of the hill and overlook the dense wood which conceals the well, fringing the meadows of Thorpe, than to seek its tangled hiding-place in the dell. The monks of old would be sorely perplexed if they could arise, to account for the long line of smoke which marks the passage of the different trains along their railroads. But we turn from them to enjoy a ramble round the brow of St. Anne's Hill; the coppice which clothes the descent into the valley, is so thick, that though it is intersected by many paths, you might lose yourself half-a-dozen times within an hour; if it be evening, the nightingales in the thickets of Monksgrove have commenced their chorus, and the town of Chertsey, down below, is seen to its full extent, its church tower toned into beauty by the rich light of the setting sun, while through the trees and holly thickets you obtain glimpses of the Guildford and Leatherhead hills, so softly blue, that they meet and mingle with the sky.
GATE OF FOX'S HOUSE.
SUMMER HOUSE IN FOX'S GARDEN.
TEMPLE OF FRIENDSHIP.
Those who feel no interest in monkish chronicles, may reverence St. Anne's Hill, because of its having been the favorite residence of Charles James Fox, the contemporary of Pitt and Burke and Sheridan and Grattan, at a period when men felt strongly and spoke eloquently. The site of the house on the south-eastern site of the hill is extremely beautiful, and it is much regretted in the neighborhood that it finds so little favor in the heart of its present noble proprietor. The grounds are laid out with much taste; there is a noble cedar planted by Mrs. Fox when only the size of a wand. The statesman's widow survived her husband more than thirty-six years, but never outlived her friends or her faculties. There is a temple dedicated to Friendship, which was erected to perpetuate the coming of age of one of the late Lords Holland; on a pedestal ornamented by a vase, are inscribed some verses by General Fitzpatrick; another placed by Mrs. Fox to mark a favorite spot where Mr. Fox loved to muse, is enriched by a quotation from the "Flower and the Leaf," concluded by two graceful stanzas:
"Cheerful in this sequestered bower, From all the storms of life removed; Here Fox enjoyed his evening hour, In converse with the friends he loved. And here these lines he oft would quote, Pleased from his favorite poet's lay; When challenged by the warbler's note, That breathed a song from every spray."
At the bottom of the garden is a grotto, which must have once possessed many attractions, and above it there is a pretty little quaint chamber that was used as a tea-room, when, according to the custom of the time, the English drank tea by daylight; it is adorned by painted glass windows; there are portraits of the Prince of Wales and Mr. Fox, when both were looking their best, and the balcony in front commands a delicious view of the surrounding country.
The peasantry are still loud in their praise of "Madam Fox;" and some remember with gratitude the education they received at her school, and love to tell how the old lady was drawn there at "feast times," to see how they all looked in their new dresses. She certainly retained her sympathy with the young, and put away the feelings and habits of old age with a determined hand, for it is said, when she was eighty she took lessons on the harp. The present generation remember personally nothing of the great statesman; he has become history to us, and we must look to history, garbled as it always is, and always will be, by the opinions and feelings of its writers, to determine the position of Charles James Fox in the annals of his country. Those who were admitted to his society have written with enthusiasm of his social qualities, and bestow equal praise on his brilliant talents, his affability of manner, and the generosity of his disposition. He was the third son of Henry Fox, afterwards Lord Holland, and his mother was the eldest daughter of Charles, second Duke of Richmond, and consequently great-granddaughter to Charles II.; the material descent is one of blotted royalty, of which a man like Fox could not have been proud. His academic course was unmarked by any of those honors of which Oxford men are so ambitious, and yet, like his great rival, William Pitt, he became a statesman before he was of age.
At St. Anne's Hill he enjoyed as many intervals of repose and tranquillity as could fall to a statesman's lot; in the time of wars and tumults, how he must have luxuriated in its delicious quiet, surrounded by friends who dearly loved him; and swayed only for good by the wife who (although it is known that her early intimacy with him was such as prevented her general recognition in society) according to the evidence of all who knew her, was the minister only to his better thoughts and nobler ambitions, and who weaned him from nearly all the follies and vices which stained his youth and earlier manhood. Various causes led to his death, before age had added infirmities to disease. He died at Chiswick House, and his last words, addressed to Mrs. Fox were, "I die happy." It is said he wished to be buried at Chertsey, but his remains were interred in Westminister Abbey.
The brilliant Sheridan pronounced so elegant an eulogium on his character, that it is pleasant to think of it in those shades where, as we have said, he so often sought and found repose: "When Mr. Fox ceased to live, the cause of private honor and friendship lost its highest glory, public liberty its most undaunted champion, and general humanity its most active and ardent assertor. In him was united the most amiable disposition with the most firm and resolute spirit; the mildest manners, with the most exalted mind. With regard to that great man it might, indeed, be well said, that in him the bravest heart and most exalted mind sat upon the seat of gentleness."
COWLEY'S HOUSE—STREET FRONT.
There is, at all events, an imaginary pleasure in turning from the wearing out turmoil of a statesman's life, to what the world believes the tranquil dreams of a poet's existence. But there are few things the worldling so little understands as literary industry, or so little sympathizes with as literary care. We have no inclination to over-rate either its toils or its pleasures, and perhaps no life is more abundantly supplied with both. Its toils must be evident to any who have noted the increasing literary labor which is necessary to produce the ordinary sources of comforts; but its high and holy enjoyments are not so apparent; they are so different from those of almost all others as not to be easily explained or understood; but above all other gifts, the marvellous gift of poesy is a distinction conferred by the Almighty, and should be acknowledged and treasured as such. We know little of a poet's studies except by their imperishable produce, and it is a common but ill-founded prejudice to imagine regularity or diligence incompatible with high genius. Genius is neither above law, nor opposed to it; but as many have a poetic taste and temperament without the inspiration, the world is apt to mistake the eccentricity of the pretender for the outward and visible sign of genius. Whether or not the poet of the Porch-house of Chertsey had the actual poetic fire we do not venture to determine. Abraham Cowley takes a prominent position, amongst the poets of our land, and the eventful times in which he lived, and his participation in their tumults give him additional interest in all the relations of his anxious and not over-happy life. It is recorded of him that he became a poet in consequence of reading the Faery Queene, which chance threw in his way while yet a child. In allusion to this, Dr. Johnson gave his well-known definition of genius: "A mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction." We had almost dared to say this is rather the definition of a philosopher than of one who comprehended the spirituality of a marvellous gift. Abraham Cowley—the posthumous son of a London grocer—owed much to his mother. She, by her exertions, procured him a classical education at Westminster School. She lived to see him loved, honored, and great, and what was better still, and more uncommon, grateful. At the age of fifteen he published a volume called "Poetic Blossoms," which he afterwards described as "commendable extravagancies in a boy." He obtained a scholarship in Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1686, and there took his degree; but was ejected by the Parliament, and thence removed to Oxford. Shortly after, he followed the Queen Henrietta to Paris, as Secretary to the Earl of St. Albans, and was employed in the court of the exiles in the most confidential capacity. In 1656 he returned to England, and was immediately arrested as a suspected spy. He submitted quietly—the royalists thought too quietly—to the dominion of the Protector, but his whole life proved that he was no traitor. At the Restoration, that great national disappointment, his claims upon the ungrateful monarch were met by a taunt and a false insinuation—he was told that his pardon was his reward! Wood said, "he lost the place by certain enemies of the Muses;" certain "friends of the Muses," however, procured for him the lease of the Porch-house and farm at Chertsey, held under the Queen, and the great desire of his life—solitude—was obtained.
COWLEY'S HOUSE—GARDEN FRONT.
The place still seems a meet dwelling for a poet, and is, perhaps, even more attractive to strangers than St. Anne's hill. The porch, which caused his residence to be called "The Porch-house," was taken down during the last century by the father of its present proprietor, the Rev. John Crosby Clarke, and the house is now known as "Cowley House."(1) It is situated near the bridge which crosses a narrow and rapid stream, in a lonely part of Guildford Street; a latticed window which overhangs the road is the window of the room in which the poet expired; on the outside wall Mr. Clarke has recorded his reason for removing the porch. "The porch of this house, which projected ten feet into the highway, was taken down in the year 1786, for the safety and accommodation of the public."
"Here the last accents flowed from Cowley's tongue."
The appearance of the house from Guildford Street, is no index to its size or conveniences.(2) You enter by a side gate, and the new front of the dwelling is that of a comfortable and gentlemanly home; the old part it is said was built in the reign of James the First, and what remains is sufficiently quaint to bear out the legend; the old and new are much mingled, and the modern part consists of one or two bed-rooms, a large dining-room, and a drawing-room, commanding a delicious garden view, the meanderings of the stream, and a long tract of luxuriant meadows, terminated by the high and richly timbered ground of St. Anne's Hill. A portion of the old stairway is preserved, the wood is not as has been stated oak, but sweet chestnut. One of the rooms is panelled with oak, and Cowley's study is a small closet-like chamber, the window looking towards St. Anne's Hill. It is never difficult to imagine a poet in a small chamber, particularly when his mind may imbibe inspiration from so rich and lovely a landscape. Beside the group of trees, beneath whose shadow the poet frequently sat, there is a horse chestnut of such exceeding size and beauty, that it is worthy a pilgrimage, and no lover of nature could look upon it without mingled feelings of reverence and affection.
Here then amid such tranquil scenes, and such placid beauty, the "melancholy Cowley," passed the later days of big anxious existence; here we may fancy him receiving Evelyn and Denham, the poets and men of letters of his troubled day, who found the disappointments of courtly life more than their philosophy could endure. Here his friendly biographer, Doctor Spratt, cheered his lonely hours.
Cowley was one of those fortunate bards who obtain fame and honor during life. His learning was deep, his reading extensive, his acquaintance with mankind large. "To him," says Denham in his famous elegy,
"To him no author was unknown, Yet what he wrote was all his own."
His biographer adds, "There was nothing affected or singular in his habit, or person, or gesture; he understood the forms of good breeding enough to practise them without burdening himself or others." This indeed is the perfection of good breeding and good sense.
Having obtained, as we have said, the Porch-house at Chertsey, his mind dwelt with pleasure—a philosophic pleasure—upon the hereafter, which he hoped for in this life of tranquillity, and the silent labor he so dearly loved; but he was destined to prove the reality of his own poesy:
"Oh life, thou Nothing's younger brother, So like that one might take one for the other."
The career of Abraham Cowley was never sullied by vice,(3) he was loyal without being servile, and at once modest, independent and sincere. His character is eloquently drawn by Doctor Spratt. "He governed his passions with great moderation, his virtues were never troublesome or uneasy to any, whatever he disliked in others he only corrected by the silent reproof of a better practice."
He died at Chertsey on the 28th of July, 1667, and was interred in Westminster Abbey. A throng of nobles followed him to his grave, and the worthless king who had deserted him is reported to have said, that Mr. Cowley had not left a better man behind him in England.
It is said the body of Cowley was removed from Chertsey by water, thus making the Thames he loved so well, the highway to his grave; there is something highly poetic in this idea of a funeral, so still and solemn, with the oars dropping noiselessly in the blue water. Pope in allusion to it, says:
"What tears the river shed, When the sad pomp along his banks was led;"
which rather inclines us to the belief, that in this, as in many other instances, the poetic reading is not the true one,
"The muses oft in lands of vision play:"
but the fact that he died at Chertsey, as much respected as a man, as he was admired as a poet, is certain, and his house is often visited by strangers, who are permitted to see his favorite haunts by the kindness of its proprietor, who honors the spot so hallowed by memories of "the melancholy Cowley:"—he who considered and described "business" as:
"The contradiction to his fate."
But we must postpone our farther rambles for the present.
TREES ON ST ANNE'S HILL.
Chertsey loses half its romantic interest by the intrusion of the progressive agents of our time—our noisy time, of which the spirit willingly brooks no souvenirs of monastic repose. The old quaint quiet town has now its railroad, and the shades of its heroes have departed.
TRAUGOTT BROMME ON THE UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA, TEXAS AND THE COLONIES.
We have at different times, by reviews or translations, endeavored to give our readers some idea of what people think of us, in continental Europe. But there are two sides to every thing—or there is an universal dualism, as Emerson declares—which is perfectly true as to the method which might be adopted in the execution of this self-imposed task. One class of readers understand by the word people the beau monde, and would have us invariably follow the school of the Countesses Hahn-Hahn or Ladies Blessington or Milords Fitz-Flummery, contented if we have but a fair name in society. Another and more reasonable class would be satisfied to know the opinion of the literati, or perhaps the poets, particularly when they do fit homage to our "grand old woods," and to Niagara. Others regard with most respect a plain literal account of our branches of industry—our railroads, factories, and canals. They would have the country judged purely from a mechanical or practical point of view—contenting themselves as to other matters with the reflection. "Oh, sensible people care very little about any thing else. If they know what we produce, and what our resources are, they'll understand and respect us sufficiently."
Now the opinion of each of these classes has its weight, and though not of the greatest ultimate importance, is always to be respected. If we were questioned as to the views of which of them we yielded full regard, we should candidly say, "to none." It is the general, universal opinion, of a nation at large that we deem authoritative, and none other. It is that popular opinion so readily yet often so falsely formed (at times from trifles of almost incredible levity), and which when once fairly developed, is well-nigh ineradicable. In a word, it is to the views of the people.
We propose, as opportunity shall offer, to make our readers familiar with the writings of all these different classes of travellers—and in the present article, we shall make a few extracts from a work interesting, as having probably contributed more than any other to a general knowledge of the United States in Germany. It is the book which has had the greatest currency among all classes, but particularly with the lower order of readers and emigrants.
Before proceeding, however, to the work itself, it may be as well to answer a question which has perhaps been suggested to the minds of a certain class of readers. Of what great use, after all, is this nervous regard as to the opinion of the world? Is not our character established—are not our characteristics known, to the uttermost corners of the earth? To which question we may answer, Not quite. In avoiding that ridiculous sensitiveness which prompts so many Americans to feel personally insulted by the weak remarks of every wandering ignoramus, we would by no means fall into the opposite error of attaching no importance whatever to the good opinion or the degree of consciousness as to our existence entertained by the world at large.
Should any feel disposed to smile at such an expression, as "the consciousness of our existence," we will take the liberty of citing a few curious instances, for the authenticity of which we assume the entire responsibility—instances which may perhaps astonish a few even of the better informed. There are in many districts (not altogether provincial) of Italy and France great numbers, who would not even in America be classed as ignorant in regard to other matters, who have not the remotest idea as to the nature or geography of our country. An instance has come to our knowledge of an intelligent Hungarian who, by intercourse with the world, had acquired a fluency in five languages, and who inquired of an American gentleman if his country were not situated somewhere in England. The late Mr. Cooper, when placing his daughters at a celebrated seminary on the continent, found a great curiosity had been created by the rumor that they were coming, some supposing they were black, some that they were copper-colored, and all unprepared to see American girls looking for all the world like the young German ladies. We have heard of a similar instance in which an English gentleman—a Cambridge graduate—inquired of an American what was the current language of the United States. Lastly, we may cite the case of an English author, well known to our own public, and favorably mentioned not long since in these pages, who was under the impression that owing to the great emigration from Germany, the English language must with us, in a very few years, yield to that of the Vaterland. Now our commercial and industrial relations are seriously hindered by this absurd ignorance of America, which in a word prevails to such an extent, that we have known an American, who—probably from having been over-questioned and speered at in New England—had imbibed such a wholesome hatred of inquisitiveness, that he wished the French government would hang up, for the benefit of all concerned, the following list of questions, with satisfactory answers annexed, in all the cafes of the politest nation in Europe:
Whether America is an island or a continent? What is the color of its inhabitants? What language do they speak? Have they a religion and what is it? What is the state of their morals and cookery? Have they a correct state of feeling as regards the opera?
The reader is not to infer that this is the general state of knowledge regarding our country. But it is worth nothing as a curious illustration of the vast number of individuals who derive their ideas, not from what is going on at the present day, or from available sources of information, but from the antiquated views of a by-gone generation. And we trust it will not be deemed inappropriate that we here speak a word of the want of opportunities of acquiring very general information under which the ordinary readers of continental Europe suffer. With all their libraries, all their immense arrays of magazines and journals, we find among them an apathy in regard to the world without (to the Fan-Qui), which appears incredible until we reflect on the deadening influences of the censorship, which views with distrust all information in regard to the Land of Liberty. We are not aware, throughout the whole of continental Europe, of a single publication so thoroughly cosmopolite in its character, so general in the scope of its information, or which is so universally disseminated among all classes of readers, as The International; and we trust we do not go too far when we assert, that it is to an extended sale of periodical publications somewhat approaching it in the concentration and dissemination of news from the world at large, that our countrymen owe that superior intelligence and citizen-of-the-world character which distinguish them from the insular Briton, self-important Frenchman, or abstracted German.
The work from which we propose to make some extracts, is TRAUGOTT BROMME's Hand und Reisebuch fuer Auswanderer nach den Vereinigten Staaten (or Traugott Bromme's Journey and Handbook for Emigrants to the United States). As we have already stated, no work on America is at the present day more familiarly known to that class of readers to whom it is addressed. Certain remarks on the present condition of German emigration with which it is prefaced, may not be devoid of interest to our readers, though not constituting a part of such observations as we have more particularly referred to:
"There is, it appears, implanted in every man an impulse to advance and better his condition—an impulse caused by poverty, dependent circumstances, or pressure from every side, vexing at times even the highest in rank, and which is the cause why thousands leave their fatherland, to seek afar a now home, and hundreds of thousands cast around them disturbed and anxious glances, restrained only by hard poverty, which imprisons them at home. Such is very generally the case at present in our own country, where—despite the political concessions of March in the year 1848, of the published original privileges of the German people, and of the promising prospect of a free and united Germany, with a concluding general empire—emigration appears to be by no means on the decrease." "These emigrants of the present day consist not as formerly of poor people of the lower orders, who turn their backs on the German fatherland, or liberal declaimers, dreaming of an ideal of freedom which could scarcely be realized in Utopia, but of sober excellent families of the middle class, who, free from all delusive fancies, do not expect to find in the western world wealth and honorable offices, but desire only to inhabit a land, wherein they may dwell quietly and happily with their children." "What the German wants is room—a new broad field for his abilities—and this America extends to him in unbounded space. No one at the present day hopes to obtain hills of gold without labor, but every one knows that the far more estimable treasure of perfect independence, or to speak more correctly, of perfect self-dependence, with the prospect of a future free from care, may in America be obtained at the cost of a few years of earnest, honest industry. And what, to the man oppressed in his fatherland by all the cares incident upon the obtaining a bare subsistence, is two or three or even four years of hard work, when compared to a whole life of poverty and misery?"
After accurately sketching the extreme misery and poverty oppressing the inhabitants of many districts of Germany, of late years sadly increased by the falling off in manufactures since the political disturbances, our author proceeds to set forth the advantages offered by America:
"That most emigrants should rather look to America, than Poland, Russia, Servia, or Siebenburgen, is natural enough, since all of these countries together cannot offer so many attractions as America. Where on earth is there such a vast array of unoccupied lands, offered at such a moderate price—land so cheap that in many districts twenty or thirty and even more acres, covered with wood, are given at a price for which a single acre of similar land is sold in Germany?"
The richness of the soil, the excellence of the climate, and the demand for labor, are then described; to which, as the greatest inducement, he adds the fact that in America the fullest "liberty of labor and mechanical calling or trade," is allowed. Also, that the taxes are so light that an industrious man is able not only to live, but even to lay up something for his old age, or his children, or to employ in the extension of his business.
"For as there exists in America no standing army, its inhabitants may retain their children, as the best possible assistants in labor, and train, govern, and discipline them as can only properly done under the eye of a parent. Furthermore, in that country every one is permitted to enjoy the fullest civil and religious liberty. These are the advantages to be expected from an emigration to America, and he who anticipates more will find himself bitterly deceived. But a man who can be content with this, and can live actively, moderately, and frugally, will here, better than in any other land in the world, ultimately attain to happiness and fortune. In times like ours, when every branch of industry is crowded, when tender parents think with grief and trouble on the future prospects of their children, there are for the emigrant no other resources save those held out by a full and bountiful nature, and no means of livelihood which may be so certainly depended upon as those afforded by agriculture. Here it is that industry throws open the widest field, and affords the fullest opportunity of doing good."
In the following extract, our author proceeds to set forth the national character of the American:
"The national character of the American has been greatly misunderstood; few travellers seem, in fact, to have understood it, since they mention it as something as new and unfounded as the country itself, and yet it is so well confirmed—so well established in every elevated and noble characteristic of the human race, that it may confidently be placed in comparison with that of the most celebrated nations of antiquity. Springing originally from England, they have the pride and manly confidence of the Briton, for through their ancestry they claim an equal share of all which gives dignity to those inheriting glory and a great name. Their forefathers were those brave religious pilgrims who were transferred by British laws (or rather by old German) and British genius to the shores of the new world—to there give to those laws and genius an immortality. Building still further on this new land, they opened the temple of the Lord to all his followers, and received with open arms all the unfortunate or oppressed exiles of Europe. For the first time in reality in this world they flung wide the flag of truth and freedom—fought under its folds an unequal fight against the mightiest power in the world—and overcame it. And when a second time they armed themselves to combat with England, they again came forth unconquered from the contest. Reason enough this for the national pride of the American, for nothing could more naturally cause a certain degree of self-content than to belong to a nation whose brilliant deeds in war as in politics, in commerce as in manufactures, have astonished the world. A second and not less characteristic trait of the American is seen in a certain earnestness, which appears to strangers to indicate a want of sociable feeling—and yet perhaps in no country is true noble sociability as developed in domestic life, so much at home, as in America.
"Accustomed from his cradle to reflect on himself and his circumstances, the American from the first instant of his entry into active life is ever on the watch to improve their condition. Is he rich, and consequently more directly interested in the common wealth, then every new law, every change in the personal direction of the government, awakes in him a new care for the future, while on the other hand, if poor, then every change in the state may perhaps afford him a new opportunity of bettering his condition. Therefore he is ever wide awake—ever looking out for the future, not as a mere spectator, but as one playing a part and occupied in maintaining the present state of affairs, or in improving them. The entire mass of the population is continually in a state of political agitation, and, urged by hope of their aid or fear of their power, we see every one continually seeking for expressions of public opinion. No man is so rich or powerful that he need not fear them—none so wretched and poor but that he may venture to entertain the hope of being through them aided and relieved. Public opinion is in America the mightiest organ of justice—shielding no one, from the president to the simplest citizen, and proceeds, mowing, casting down, or grinding to powder all things which oppose it and deserve its condemnation.
"This condition of perpetual agitation gives the American an appearance of ceaseless restlessness, but it is in reality the true ground of peace and content. The American has no time to be discontented, and this is the most praiseworthy point of their constitution and popular life. The republican has necessarily as many severe and arduous duties to fulfil as the inhabitants of any monarchy—but their fulfilment is gratifying and consoling—for it is allied to the consciousness of power. The American has no desire for the quiet temper of the European, and least of all for the silent happiness of the German, which last, alas! appears since the dissipation of the intoxication of the Revolution of March, 1848, to consist, as far as the great mass of the population is concerned, merely in the egotistic repose of self-sufficiency, weakness, and ignorance. The American finds repose only in his house, in his family circle, and among his children; all without the walls of that home is an incessant working and striving, in politics as in trade—by the streets and canals, as in the woods of the West. Different as the elements are from which the inhabitants of the United States are formed, and different as the circumstances may be under which they live, there still prevails among them a certain unity of character, an equanimity of feeling, which it would be difficult to parallel, resulting perhaps from the very heterogeneousness and mixture of elements itself, since no one element allows to another pre-eminence. They have all something in common in their appearance, which gives them the air almost of relations—something in their gait and manners which declares them to be other than English, Germans, or French. Through the entire land, through every class, there is disseminated a certain refinement of manner, an appreciation of decency and nobility of character, which springs from a consciousness of their own rights and respect for mankind. Even emigrants, in America, soon learn to cast aside their rough prejudices as regards caste, for the proud affability of the aristocratic, the vanity of the small citizen, the want of confidence and ease in the mechanic, the slavish servitude and snappish insolence of liveried servants, find in America no place. Man is there esteemed only as man—only ability gains honor—and where that is, and there alone, can true nobility be found. No one there inquires who a man is, or who were his parents, but 'What can he do, what are his capabilities, and what can he produce?' Rank and caste are in America unknown. Every man feels his freedom and independence, and expresses himself accordingly. Even the servant is a free man, who has, it is true, hired his service, but not his entire existence. The American is polite, but over-refined, unmeaning compliments form no part of his manners, nor does he expect them from others. No man vexes or troubles himself for another, in consequence of which we find in American society very little stiffness and reserve, yet we find in every respect that the very highest regard is there paid to propriety and decency—particularly as regards the female sex, since in no country, not even in England, do ladies enjoy such respect and regard as in the United States. Ever depending upon, and confiding in himself, the American is in his manners free, open, and unreserved. The mass of the people is possessed of intelligence and spirit, though not so scientifically educated as in Europe, and a higher degree of intelligence penetrates even the lower class, who consequently form a marked and singular contrast with those of like rank in Europe. It is not from being versed in the higher branches of abstract learning and science, but from the great amount of that direct practical knowledge which exerts the greatest influence in making life happy, that the Americans are distinguished from other nations, and for the acquisition of which they have made better provision and preparation than any other people. As yet too deeply occupied with the Needful and Important, they are compelled to leave the development of the higher branches to the care and noble generosity of individuals. But a glance at the sums which are annually devoted to the establishment and maintenance of schools and universities, will suffice to evidence the liberality with which the proper education of the people is cared for in the United States. Knowledge is indeed esteemed, but only according to its use and applicability to the wants of life; so that a practical tanner is there worth more than a learned pedant. Wealth, or rather wealth allied to ability and universality of talent, is there more highly esteemed than learning, while hospitality, patriotism, and toleration, allowing every one to think and feel as he likes, are universal characteristics. So that in the United States nothing is wanting to the attainment of a true civil and social freedom, even though the means thereto are not invariably correctly understood or admitted (as is indeed the case by us), and though—since men are every where subject to the same weaknesses—they measure happiness rather by the standard of their own intelligence and virtues, than by fortune and nature, which latter, impartially considered, is the basis of the physical happiness of the American. That, however, which constitutes his moral happiness is this; that in his country, domestic life enjoys the true supremacy, and to this, public life and the state are subordinate. It is true that the American statesmen have fallen into the same error as the European—id est, to believe that without them the people could never prosper, and still live in the belief that home-happiness hangs on them, their theories and arts of governing; but the most superficial glance teaches that if wise laws are able to effect more for the happiness of man than they can bring about, still no one should there attempt to draw happiness from such a source when popular and private life have combined to bestow it. But should the happiness of the Americans ever be derived from this side, it will be more sensible to assume that the foundation thereof will be the release from that which in the recent culture has passed for the deepest political wisdom. The true secret of all the good fortune of America lies in the favorable condition of external things. 'It is not with them as in Europe, where the poor can only better their condition or become rich by making the rich poor, for therein lies the source of an infinite strife which hath been combated for centuries, with the axioms of religion and morals. But in America, men when striving to better their condition, instead of becoming enemies and turning their arms against each other, strive with Nature, and wring from her boundless stores that wealth which she so bountifully affords!'"
We have made these quotations less on account of any merit which they possess, than to give our readers an idea of the general opinion prevailing in Germany in regard to our country; and to confirm an assertion made in a recent number of the International, that in no country in Europe are we so impartially and favorably judged. There is one particular, however, in which we find this book worthy of especial praise. The author highly commends the flourishing state of religion in the United States, declaring that we are in this respect superior to the Germans, and that on the Sabbath the churches are filled to a degree unknown in Europe. It is from our deep-rooted attachment to domestic life, and our observance of religion, that he correctly deduces our true happiness, as separated from the natural advantages of the country. It is greatly to be desired that the majority of his countrymen resident in America, would allow themselves to be impressed in a similar manner as to the advantages of piety and Sabbath-keeping. There is in the United States a vast number of German newspapers—conducted we should imagine for the greater part by unprincipled and worthless adventurers of the red republican, socialist stamp, who, despite the protection which they here enjoy, incessantly and spitefully abuse every institution to which they are really indebted for their asylum among us, and most of all our observation of the Sabbath, in a style which entitles them to something severer than mere contempt. But Herr Bromme is right. Respect for morality and religion, a due regard for the Sabbath, and a dependence on the home-circle for pleasure and recreation, are the surest safeguard of peace, happiness, and prosperity.
A VISIT TO THE FIRE WORSHIPPERS' TEMPLE AT BAKU.
In a recent number of the Russian Archives for Scientific Information, is an account of a visit made by a Russian lady of distinction, in company with her husband and sons, to a temple of the Indian sect of Gebers, or Fire Worshippers, near Baku, a city of Georgia, lying on the Caspian Sea. We translate this interesting narrative for the International, as follows:
In order the better to enjoy the spectacle of the fire, we chose the evening for our excursion thither; but a thick fog came on, which made the road difficult and dangerous. When we finally reached the place it was pitch dark; the flames were rising in beautiful purity to the peaceful sky of night, and the entire castle, within which was the temple, seemed to be surrounded by a circle of watch-fires. These were lighted by Persians from the neighborhood, who were busy burning lime and baking bread, dark forms like those which worked on the tower of Babel, and burnt lime for it. They were now brought here by the ease and cheapness of carrying on their occupations. All that is necessary is to make a hole in the ground, touch a burning coal to it, and an inexhaustible flame rises forth like a spring. Behind this range of little flames and fires, rose, in the pale light, the dirty white walls of the castle, in the centre of which there flashed from the summit of two lofty pillars great masses of the purest, clearest, and keenest flame, which were now bent down horizontally and wreathed like serpents by the force of the wind, and now rose perpendicularly to the sky, whose dome they lighted up like two vast altar tapers. We drove around the edifice, and stopped on one side where there were no flames rising from the earth. A fine rain was falling, but we remained without while our guide went in to announce us. He came back immediately with a swarthy Hindoo. The sight of this man impressed me strangely, and I forgot that he belonged to a remote colony of a few individuals, and asked myself if we had been suddenly transported to India, or if India had been brought up to the Caspian.
We went into the court-yard, in which stands the temple, with its two fire-pillars. About half way up hang a couple of large bells, which the Hindoo sounded by way of preparing us for what we were to see. There was something fearful in the loud clangor, and my boys crowded close beside me. Except our party, no one was to be seen except the swart Geber, in his white turban and long brown robe, with just enough of a pair of light blue trowsers visible to bring into distinctness his naked black feet. His features were noble, and his beard long and black. He looked like a conjurer, like the lord of an enchanted castle, summoning his spirits. The hissing fire, as if obeying him, flashed up more brightly at the crash of the bells; now it was clear as day around us, and now it was twilight as the wind lowered the flame. My husband and sons and the guide who had brought us to the place, were all dressed in oriental costume, and I alone seemed to belong to Europe. A shudder of home-sickness came over me, and at every moment I expected to see something monstrous, to behold all the cruelties of a heathenish and barbarous worship.
The interpreter now summoned us to follow the Geber. We were told that the castle was built by a rich Indian nabob, who was a fire worshipper, and who, with his followers, long inhabited it. Now, only three Hindoos remain from that period of splendor. But nature remains eternally the same, and whether worshipped or not, the flames still shine and awe the superstitious, and so great is the fame of the place that many pilgrims come yearly from distant India to pray, and to have prayers said for them, here in the visible presence of the primeval light.
At last we came to the cell of the priest, and on his invitation entered it. We passed through a low door, and down a few steps, and found ourselves in a small, semicircular, low, but very white room, with a floor of mason-work, and a small altar in the centre. Around the wall were seats, also of mason-work. In the altar there was an opening as large as a gun-barrel, from which rose a slender flame that lighted the room very clearly. There were other little openings on the sides of the altar. The Hindoo took a wisp of straw, lighted it, and touched these openings, from which the most beautiful flames at once issued. The children, who had never seen gas lights, or at least did not remember them, regarded all this as the most perfect witchery. On a second altar, which, like the first, was about the height of a common table, lay or stood the idols and treasures of our priest. Small steps led up to it, which were used to hold muscles, stones, shells, and other instruments employed in the sacred rites. The idols were of metal, and ugly and monstrous, like Chinese images. Beside these figures, we were astonished to see crosses of various forms and sizes. We asked the Geber about them, and he answered with oriental emphasis: "There is one God, and no one has seen him; therefore every one adores him after his own way, and represents him after his own way." The reply was diplomatic enough, and we could not ascertain how the crosses had come there.
On the altar and its steps lay a great number of singularly beautiful Indian stones, which the boys wanted very much, but which, in spite of our large offers, we could not obtain. They were mementoes from the distant fatherland, and possibly they served as sacred ornaments for the little cell. There were also several censers, lamps, and little silver plates and salvers. The air was stifling from the fumes of gas, and the heat was like that of a vapor bath. The priest took from the altar some pieces of red and white candied sugar, held them, praying, before his idols, sprinkled them with holy water, and handed them to us on a silver plate.
A second Hindoo now came in, a tall old man, whose name, as he told us, was Amintaas. He invited us into his cell, which was larger and differently arranged. In the centre was a large kettle, set in mason-work, with water in it, and a gas flame burning under it; the altar was in another apartment beyond, and separated from the first by a low wall or fence, with a passage through. Another apartment, similarly divided off, was spread with carpets for sleeping. After we had seen the stones, shells, and idols, which were richer and more numerous than in the former cell, the Hindoos asked us if they should pray for us. We agreed, and the ceremony began. A large muscle shell was washed in the kettle, the plates were set in order at the foot of the altar, a censer began to smoke, the silver plate with candied sugar was set over a lamp Between two bells, whose handles were the most monstrous figures of idols. These bells Amintaas took and began to ring vehemently. The other Hindoos stood behind him and beat two big cymbals, accompanying this noise with the most inhuman and frightful howling that a man's lungs ever produced. Still, there was method and a regular cadence in it. Finally, they made a pause, bowed before the images, murmuring softly, after which they arranged the plates anew, and sprinkled the sugar with holy water. My husband whispered in my ear a line from the conjuration in "Faust," and the whole of that scene rushed vividly into my memory.
Meanwhile the lungs of the old Amintaas had recovered their power, for he now seized a conch shell, held it in both hands, and with incredible strength blew long wild notes, with scarce any thing like a tune. I grew dizzy in listening to this clamor, and at once understood what is meant by the heathen making a "vain noise," This cannibalistic music was kept up for a long time, and seemed to form the climax of the sacred rites. The finale was a combination of wild shouting, banging of the cymbals, ringing and murmuring. At last the concert was over, and we breathed freely. Amintaas handed us the candied sugar, and my husband laid down two ducats in its place. They were received with warm expressions of gratitude, and laid upon the altar. We went out into the open air, but the scene had changed. The lonely castle was crowded with Persians who had come from their lime-burning to see the Europeans. Persian women were sitting around by sundry little ovens of masonry, where, by the help of gas flames, they baked their Tsheuks, thin cakes of unleavened bread. Followed by the crowd, we were led a couple of hundred steps from the castle to a spring that was covered over; the cover was taken off, and a bundle of burning straw thrown in, when, crackling and hissing, sprung up a splendid pillar of fire, vanishing in sparks like stars. This beautiful spectacle lasted but for a moment, and a quarter of an hour was necessary to collect gas enough to repeat the experiment.
We returned to Baku in the rain, more dead than alive. It was the eve of Easter. The next morning, as I was sitting on the sofa with the children, there came in a tall, meagre Hindoo, with gray hair; he was dressed in a white robe, and brought me white and red sugar on a silver plate. He was the chief priest from the temple of the Gebers, and had come to Baku to see the Easter festivities. We took a few grains of his sugar, and I laid a silver rouble on the plate. While he was making his bows for this, my husband came in and told him, partly in Tartar, partly in Russian, and partly in pantomime, that we had been to his temple the night before, and had prayers said there. He asked at once, with eagerness, how much we had given, and when he learned the sum, asked for a certificate to that effect, as, without it, the others would give him no part of the money. We sent him away without granting his request, for the two screamers of the night previous had earned all we gave them. We learned afterwards that the gifts of visitors occasioned quarrels, and often blows, in the romantic fire-castle. This disgusted me, and yet it is not the fault of these poor fellows. They must necessarily become covetous, since they profane their most sacred ceremonies as a means of living. They have neither fields nor gardens, and the only thing like vegetation that I saw was some lone boxes in the court yard, filled with shrubs and plants, remains, no doubt, from the time of the Indian nabob, who sought in vain to establish cultivation in a soil impregnated with inflammable gas. However, I learned to my sorrow that grass at least grows there, for, in going through it to the spring, my feet became perfectly wet.
The air of the locality does not seem to be unwholesome for man. At least, the Geber priests, who had lived there for years, were perfect lions for health and vigor.
A NEW PORTRAIT OF CICERO.
In the third volume of his History of the Romans under the Empire, just published in London, Mr. MERIVALE gives some elaborate pieces of character writing, one of which has for its subject CICERO. It is not good for a man to think harshly of Cicero, and however easy it may seem to be to condemn manifest faults in his character, it is by no means easy to be fair in the estimate we make. Mr. Merivale sums up a character which has too often been roughly put down as that of a great writer and a little man, as follows:
"Many writers, it has been remarked, have related the death of Cicero, but Plutarch alone has painted it. In the narrative here laid before him the reader has the substance of this picturesque account, together with some touches introduced from collateral sources. In this, as in many other massages of his Lives, the Greek biographer has evidently aimed at creating an effect, and though he seems to have been mainly guided by the genuine narrative of Tiro, Cicero's beloved freedman, we may suspect him of having embellished it to furnish a striking termination to one of his favorite sketches. Nevertheless the narrative is mainly confirmed by a fragment of Livy's history, which has fortunately been preserved. The Roman author vies with the Greek in throwing dignity and interest over the great statesman's end. But in reviewing the uneven tenor of his career, Livy concludes with the stern comment, "He bore none of his calamities as a man should, except his death." These are grave words. In the mouth of one who had cast his scrutinizing glance over the characters and exploits of all the heroes of the great republic, and had learnt by the training of his life-long studies to discriminate moral qualities and estimate desert, they constitute the most important judgment on the conduct of Cicero that antiquity has bequeathed to us. Few indeed among the Romans ever betrayed a want of resolution in the face of impending death. But it was in the endurance of calamity rather than the defiance of danger that the courage of Cicero was deficient. The orator, whose genius lay in the arts of peace and persuasion, exhibited on more than one occasion a martial spirit worthy of other habits and a ruder training. In the contest with Catilina he displayed all the moral confidence of a veteran general: in the struggle with Antonius he threw himself without reserve into a position where there was no alternative but to conquer or to perish. In the earlier conflict he had still his fame to acquire, his proud ascendency to establish; and the love of praise and glory inspired him with the audacity which makes and justifies its own success. But in the later, he courted danger for the sake of retaining the fame he so dearly prized. He had once saved his country, and he could not endure that it should be said he had ever deserted it. He loved his country; but it wan for his own honor, which he could preserve, rather than for his country's freedom, which he despaired of, that he returned to his post when escape was still possible. He might have remained silent, but he opened the floodgates of his eloquence. When indeed he had once launched himself on the torrent he lost all self-command; he could neither retrace nor moderate his career; he saw the rocks before him, but he dashed himself headlong against them. But another grave authority has given us the judgment of antiquity, that Cicero's defect was the want of steadfastness. His courage had no dignity because it lacked consistency. All men and all parties agreed that he could not be relied upon to lead, to co-operate, or to follow. In all the great enterprises of his party, he was left behind, except that which the nobles undertook against Catilina, in which they rather thrust him before them than engaged with him on terms of mutual support. When we read the vehement claims which Cicero put forth to the honor of association, however tardy, with the glories and dangers of Caesar's assassins, we should deem the conspirators guilty of a monstrous oversight in having neglected to enlist him in their design, were we not assured that he was not to be trusted as a confederate either for good or for evil.
"Of all the characters of antiquity Cicero is undoubtedly that with which we are most intimately acquainted; for he alone has left to us the record of his thoughts and actions for more than half his public career in a voluminous mass of familiar as well as political correspondence. No public character probably could pass unscathed through the fiery ordeal to which he has thus subjected himself. Cicero, it must be avowed, is convicted from his own mouth of vanity, inconstancy, sordidness, jealousy, malice, selfishness, and timidity. But on the other hand no character, public or private, could thus bare its workings to our view without laying a stronger claim to our sympathy, and extorting from us more kindly consideration than we can give to the mere shell of the human being with which ordinary history brings us in contact. Cicero gains more than he loses by the confessions he pours into our ear. We read in his letters what we should vainly search for in the meagre pages of Sallust and Appian, in the captious criticism of Dion, and even in the pleasant anecdotes of his friendly biographer Plutarch, his amiableness, his refined urbanity, his admiration for excellence, his thirst for fame, his love of truth, equity, and reason. Much indeed of the patriotism, the honesty, the moral courage he exhibited, was really no other than the refined ambition of attaining the respect of his contemporaries and bequeathing a name to posterity. He might not act from a sense of duty, like Cato, but his motives, personal and selfish as they in some sense were, coincided with what a more enlightened conscience would have felt to be duty. Thus his proconsulate is perhaps the purest and most honorable passage in his life. His strict and rare probity amidst the temptations of office arrests our attention and extorts our praise: yet assuredly Cicero had no nice sense of honor, and was controlled by no delicacy of sentiment, where public opinion was silent, or a transaction strictly private. His courting his ward Publilia for her dower, his caressing Dolabella for the sake of getting his debt paid, his soliciting the historian Lucceius to color and exaggerate the merits of his consulship, display a grievous want of magnanimity and of a predominant sense of right. Fortunately his instinct taught him to see in the constitution of the republic the fairest field for the display of his peculiar talents; the orator and the pleader could not fail to love the arena on which the greatest triumph of his genius had been or were yet, as he hoped, to be acquired. And Cicero indeed was not less ambitious than Caeesar or Pompeius, Antonius or Octavius. To the pursuit of fame he sacrificed many interests and friendships. He was not less jealous of a rival in his chosen career than any of the leaders of party and candidates for popular favor. He could not endure competition for the throne of eloquence and the sceptre of persuasion. It was on this account perhaps that he sought his associates among the young, from whose rivalry he had nothing to fear, rather than from his own contemporaries, the candidates for the same prize of public admiration which he aimed at securing for himself. From his pages there flows an incessant stream of abuse of all the great masters of political power in his time; of Caesar and Pompeius; of Crassus and Antonius, not to mention his coarse vituperation of Piso and Gabinius, and his uneasy sneers at the impracticable Cato. We may note the different tone which his disparagement assumes towards these men respectively. He speaks of Caesar with awe, of Pompeius with mortification, with dislike of Crassus, with bitter malice of Antonius. Caesar, even when he most deeply reprobates him, he personally loves; the cold distrust of Pompeius vexes his self-esteem; between him and Crassus there subsists a natural antipathy of temperament: but Antonius, the hate of his old age, becomes to him the incarnation of all the evil his long and bitter experience of mankind have discovered in the human heart. While we suspect Cicero of injustice towards the great men of his day, we are bound also to specify the gross dishonesty with which he magnifies his own merits where they are trivial, and embellishes them where they are really important. The perpetual recurrence to the topic of his own political deserts must have wearied the most patient of friends, and more than balanced the display of sordidness and time-serving which Atticus doubtless reflected back in his share of the correspondence between them.
"But while Cicero stands justly charged with many grave infirmities of temper and defects of principle, while we remark with a sigh the vanity, the inconstancy, and the ingratitude he so often manifested, while we lament his ignoble subserviencies and his ferocious resentments, the high standard by which we claim to judge him is in itself the fullest acknowledgment of his transcendent merits. For undoubtedly had he not placed himself on a higher moral level than the statesmen and sages of his day, we should pass over many of his weaknesses in silence, and allow his pretensions to our esteem to pass almost unchallenged. But we demand a nearer approach to the perfection of human wisdom and virtue in one who sought to approve himself the greatest of their teachers. Nor need we scruple to admit that the judgment of the ancients on Cicero was for the most part unfavorable. The moralists of antiquity required in their heroes virtues with which we can more readily dispense: and they too had less sympathy with many qualities which a purer religion and a wider experience have taught us to love and admire. Nor were they capable, from their position, of estimating the slow and silent effects upon human happiness of the lessons which Cicero enforced. After all the severe judgments we are compelled to pass on his conduct, we must acknowledge that there remains a residue of what is amiable in his character and noble in his teaching beyond all ancient example. Cicero lived and died in faith. He has made converts to the belief in virtue, and had disciples in the wisdom of love. There have been dark periods in the history of man, when the feeble ray of religious instruction paled before the torch of his generous philanthropy. The praise which the great critic pronounced upon his excellence in oratory may be justly extended to the qualities of his heart, and even in our enlightened days it may be held no mean advance in virtue to venerate the master of Roman philosophy."
LORD MAHON'S HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
Incomparably the best history of our struggle for independence that has been written by a foreigner is that of which we have the larger portion in the just-published fifth and sixth volumes of Lord MAHON'S History of England from the Peace of Utrecht, comprising the period from 1763 to 1780—from the commencement of the popular discontents until the virtual conclusion of the war.
The character of Lord Mahon as a historian has long been established. When Sismondi, in 1842, had brought his History of France down to the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, he lamented that he could no longer be guided by Lord Mahon, and expressed a hope that his "brilliant labors" would be continued. The portion of his work on which the illustrious Frenchman thus set the seal of his approval has been reprinted in this country by the Appletons, in two large volumes (embracing the first four of the original impression), carefully and judiciously edited by Professor Henry Reed, of Philadelphia. It well indicates the right of its author to a place with the best British writers in this department. History was never before written so brilliantly or profoundly as in the last half century. Germany in this period has boasted her Schiller, Niebuhr, Von Hammer, Heeren, Ranke, and two Mullers; France her Sismondi, Barrante, Thierrys, Michelet, Mignet, Guizot, and Thiers; England her Mitford, Arnold, Thirlwall, Grote, Napier, Hallam, Mackintosh, Macaulay, Palgrave, and Mahon; and we have ourselves the noble names of Bancroft, Prescott, and Irving, to send to the next ages. Of the English authors we have mentioned, we regard Lord Mahon as in many respects the first; Hallam is a laborious and wise critic; Thirlwall and Grote, in their province, have greatly increased the fame of British scholarship; and Macaulay, brilliant and picturesque beyond any of his contemporaries, has an unprecedented popularity, which will last until the worthlessness of his opinions and the viciousness of his style are more justly appreciated than they are likely to be by the mobs of novel readers who in this generation have preferred him to James and Ainsworth. Lord Mahon is the most legitimate successor of the greatest historian of his country, David Hume.
Although the chief subject of these new volumes is the American war, the general political history of England, from the decline of the fortunes of Bute through the administration of Grenville, Rockingham, Chatham, the Duke of Grafton, and Lord North, is illustrated and commented on as largely as the special purpose of the author permitted; and we have many striking passages respecting Wilkes and his various persecutions, the Letters of Junius and their authorship, and the common intellectual and material progress of the British empire. The spirit in which he regards our Revolution is illustrated by the following paragraph, on the rejection, by the House of Peers, of the conciliatory Bill by which Lord Chatham hoped, in 1775, to prevent the threatened separation of the colonies:
"It may be proper, or at least pardonable, here to pause for an inquiry, what probable issue might have attended an opposite decision in the British Parliament? If the ministers had been defeated on this Bill, if, in consequence, they had resigned, and it had in other hands been carried through, would the Americans have accepted the measure cheerfully and readily—would it for a long time to come have closed the breach, and cemented the union with the Mother Country? From all the facts and testimonies then or since made public, I answer without hesitation that it would. The sword was then slumbering in its scabbard. On both sides there were injuries to redress, but not as yet bloodshed to avenge. It was only a quarrel. It was not as yet a war. Even the boldest leaders of that war in after years, whether in council or the field, were still, in January, 1775, the firm friends of colonial subordination. Washington himself (and he at least was no dissembler—from him, at least, there never came any promise or assurance that did not deserve the most implicit credit) had only a few months before presided at a meeting of Fairfax County, in Virginia. That meeting, while claiming relief of grievances, had also at his instance adopted the following Resolve:—'That it is our greatest wish and inclination, as well as interest, to continue our connection with, and dependence upon, the British Government.' But further still, although the first Congress was praised by Chatham for its moderate counsels, and although the calmer voice of history has ratified the praise, we learn that these moderate counsels did not lag behind, but rather exceeded and outran the prevailing sentiment in many of the colonies. To this fact we find an unimpeachable testimony in the letters of President Reed, who, writing to a friend in strict confidence, laments that 'The proceedings of Congress have been pitched on too high a key for some of those middle provinces.' With such feelings, how gladly, how gratefully would they have welcomed the hand of reconciliation stretched out by the Parliament of England! It may be true, indeed, that such feelings as these did not prevail in all, or nearly all, the colonies. It may be true, especially, that no amount of good government, of forbearance, or of kindness, would have won back Massachusetts. But herein lay, as I think, the especial force and efficacy of Lord Chatham's scheme, that it did not refer the questions of parliamentary supremacy and colonial taxation to the decision of any one province; but, as the Americans themselves desired, to the decision of a Congress composed from all the provinces, so that disaffection, however firmly rooted here and there, would of course be overpowered by a loyal and large majority. Nor do I believe that the proposal of a new grant to the Crown, and the consequent necessity of increased taxation to the people, would have interposed any serious obstacle. The load of taxation on the colonies was at this period light indeed: according to a calculation made by Lord North in that very year, each inhabitant of England paid in taxes, upon an average, not less than twenty-five shillings annually; but each inhabitant of British America no more than sixpence. The experience of the closely-following Revolutionary war proves how easily and readily, when their feelings were involved, the Americans could raise far greater supplies. And surely had Lord Chatham's scheme prevailed, their feelings would have been involved. They would have been pleased and proud to show that their previous refusal to pay taxes sprang from principle, and not from inability or disaffection; and that, when once their views of principle had been complied with, they could contribute with no sparing hand to the exigencies of their countrymen, and to the service of their king."
The opinion of Lord Mahon that, even after Burgoyne's surrender, and the treaty of alliance between France and America, the colonies might have been preserved, had Lord Chatham lived and returned to office, we think entirely erroneous. Our separation from England, though there had been no stamp act or tea tax, was inevitable.
Lord Mahon is exceedingly fond of personal portraiture, in which he is sometimes very successful. One of his most carefully-elaborated performances in this way has for its subject Washington, and in the dozen pages he devotes to the analysis of the character of the great chief he has displayed his best abilities, though, we confess, without suggesting any thing very novel. He dislikes Franklin, and loses no opportunity of imputing to him personal dishonesty. We think the influence of Mr. William B. Reed's Life of President Reed is traceable in almost every allusion made by Lord Mahon to our philosopher. Without further observation upon the qualities of the work, we avail ourselves of the possession of an early copy of it to present our readers with some of the most striking passages pencilled in a hasty reading.
During many years did Washington continue to enjoy the pleasures and fulfil the duties of an independent country gentleman. Field-sports divided his time with the cultivation and improvement of his land, and the sales of his tobacco; he showed kindness to his dependents, and hospitality to his friends; and having been elected one of the House of Burgesses in Virginia, he was, whenever that House met, exact in his attendance. To that well-regulated mind nothing within the course of its ordinary and appointed avocations seemed unworthy of its care. His ledgers and day-books were kept by himself: he took note of all the houses where he partook of hospitality, so that not even the smallest courtesies might pass by unremembered; and until his press of business in the Revolutionary War he was wont every evening to set down the variations of the weather during the preceding day. It was also his habit through life, whenever he wished to possess himself perfectly of the contents of any paper, to transcribe it in his own hand, and apparently with deliberation, so that no point might escape his notice. Many copies of this kind were after his death found among his manuscripts.
We may observe, however, that in the mind of Washington punctuality and precision did not, as we often find them, turn in any degree to selfishness. On the contrary, he was rather careless of small points where only his own comfort was concerned. Thus he could seldom be persuaded to take any remedy, or desist from any business, whenever he caught a cold, but used to say, "let it go as it came!"
Nor yet was his constant regularity of habits attended by undue formality of manner. In one of his most private letters there appears given incidentally, and as it were by chance, a golden rule upon that subject:—"As to the gentlemen you mention I cannot charge myself with incivility, or what in my opinion is tantamount, ceremonious civility.
In figure Washington was thin and tall (above six feet high), in countenance grave, unimpassioned, and benign. An inborn worth, an unaffected dignity, beamed forth in every look as in every word and deed. His first appearance and address might not convey the idea of superior talents; such at least was the remark of his accomplished countryman, Mr. Gallatin; but no man, whether friend or enemy, ever viewed without respect the noble simplicity of his demeanor, the utter absence in him of every artifice and every affectation.