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AT HOME AND ABROAD;

OR,

THINGS AND THOUGHTS

IN

AMERICA AND EUROPE.

BY

MARGARET FULLER OSSOLI

AUTHOR OF "WOMAN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY," "ART, LITERATURE, AND THE DRAMA," "LIFE WITHOUT AND LIFE WITHIN," ETC.

 

Edited by her Brother

ARTHUR B. FULLER.

 

NEW AND COMPLETE EDITION.

NEW YORK;
THE TRIBUNE ASSOCIATION.
134 Nassau Street
1869

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by
ARTHUR B. FULLER,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


 

 

PREFACE.

There are at least three classes of persons who travel in our own land and abroad. The first and largest in number consists of those who, "having eyes, see not, and ears, hear not," anything which is profitable to be remembered. Crossing lake and ocean, passing over the broad prairies of the New World or the classic fields of the Old, though they look on the virgin soil sown thickly with flowers by the hand of God, or on scenes memorable in man's history, they gaze heedlessly, and when they return home can but tell us what they ate and drank, and where slept,—no more; for this and matters of like import are all for which they have cared in their wanderings.

Those composing the second class travel more intelligently. They visit scrupulously all places which are noted either as the homes of literature, the abodes of Art, or made classic by the pens of ancient genius. Accurately do they mark the distance of one famed city from another, the size and general appearance of each; they see as many as possible of celebrated pictures and works of art, and mark carefully dimensions, age, and all details concerning them. Men, too, whom the world regards as great men, whether because of wisdom, poesy, warlike [pg iv] achievements, or of wealth and station, they seek to take by the hand and in some degree to know; at least to note their appearance, demeanor, and mode of life. Writers belonging to this class of travellers are not to be undervalued; returning home, they can give much useful information, and tell much which all wish to hear and know, though, as their narratives are chiefly circumstantial, and every year circumstances change, such recitals lessen constantly in value.

But there is a third class of those who journey, who see indeed the outward, and observe it well. They, too, seek localities where Art and Genius dwell, or have painted on canvas or sculptured in marble their memorials; they become acquainted with the people, both famed and obscure, of the lands which they visit and in which for a time they abide; their hearts throb as they stand on places where great deeds have been done, with whose dust perhaps is mingled the sacred ashes of men who fell in the warfare for truth and freedom,—a warfare begun early in the world's history, and not yet ended. But they do much more than this. There is, though in a different sense from what ancient Pagans fancied, a genius or guardian spirit of each scene, each stream and lake and country, and this spirit is ever speaking, but in a tone which only the attent ear of the noble and gifted can hear, and in a language which such minds and hearts only can understand. With vision which needs no miracle to make it prophetic, they see the destinies which nations are all-unconsciously shaping for themselves, and note the deep meaning of passing events which only make others wonder. Beneath the mask of mere externals, their eyes discern the character of those whom they meet, and, refusing to accept popular judgment in [pg v] place of truth, they see often the real relation which men bear to their race and age, and observe the facts by which to determine whether such men are great only because of circumstances, or by the irresistible power of their own minds. When such narrate their journeyings, we have what is valuable not for a few years only, but, because of its philosophic and suggestive spirit, what must always be useful.

The reader of the following pages, it is believed, will decide that Margaret Fuller deserves to rank with the latter class of travellers, while not neglectful of those details which it is well to learn and remember.

Twelve years ago she journeyed, in company with several friends, on the Lakes, and through some of the Western States. Returning, she published a volume describing this journey, which seems worthy of republication. It seems so because it rather gives an idea of Western scenery and character, than enters into guide-book statements which would be all erroneous now.

Beside this, it is much a record of thoughts as well as things, and those thoughts have lost none of their significance now. It gives us also knowledge of Indian character, and impressions respecting that much injured and fast vanishing race, which justice to them makes it desirable should be remembered. The friends of Madame Ossoli will be glad to make permanent this additional proof of her sympathy with all the oppressed, no matter whether that oppression find embodiment in the Indian or the African, the American or the European.

The second part of the present volume gives my sister's impressions and observations during her European journey and residence in Italy. This is done through letters, which originally appeared in the New York Tribune [pg vi] but have never before been gathered into book form. There may be a degree of incompleteness, sometimes perhaps inaccuracy, in these letters, which are inseparable attendants upon letter-writing during a journey or amid exciting and warlike scenes. None can lament more than I that their writer lives not to revise them. Some errors, too, were doubtless made in the original printing of these letters, owing to her handwriting not being easily read by those who were not familiar with it, and very probably some such errors may have escaped my notice in the revision, especially as many emendations must be conjectural, the original manuscript not now existing.

There is one fact, however, which gives this part of the volume a high value. Madame Ossoli was in Rome during the most eventful period of its modern history. She was almost the only American who remained there during the Italian Revolution, and the siege of the city. Her marriage with the Marquis Ossoli, who was Captain of the Civic Guard and active in the republican councils and army, and her own ardent love of freedom, and sacrifices for it, brought her into immediate acquaintance with the leaders in the revolutionary army, and made her cognizant of their plans, their motives, and their characters. Unsuccessful for a time as has been that struggle for freedom, it was yet a noble one, and its true history should be known in this country and in all lands, that justice may be done to those who sacrificed much, some even life, in behalf of liberty. Her peculiar fitness to write the history of this struggle is well expressed by Mr. Greeley, in his Introduction to one of her volumes recently published.A "Of Italy's last struggle for liberty and light," [pg vii] he says, "she might not merely say, with the Grattan of Ireland's kindred effort, half a century earlier, 'I stood by its cradle; I followed its hearse.' She might fairly claim to have been a portion of its incitement, its animation, its informing soul. She bore more than a woman's part in its conflicts and its perils; and the bombs of that ruthless army which a false and traitorous government impelled against the ramparts of Republican Rome, could have stilled no voice more eloquent in its exposures, no heart more lofty in its defiance, of the villany which so wantonly drowned in blood the hopes, while crushing the dearest rights, of a people, than those of Margaret Fuller."

Inadequate, indeed, are these letters as a memorial and vindication of that struggle, in comparison with the history which Madame Ossoli had written, and which perished with her; but well do they deserve to be preserved, as the record of a clear-minded and true-hearted eyewitness of, and participator in, this effort to establish a new and better Roman Republic. In one respect they have an interest higher than would the history. They were written during the struggle, and show the fluctuations of hope and despondency-which animated those most deeply interested. I have thought it right to leave unchanged all expressions of her opinion and feeling, even when it is evident from the letters themselves that these were gradually somewhat modified by ensuing events. Especially did this change occur in regard to the Pope, whom she at first regarded, in common with all lovers of freedom in this and other lands, with a hopefulness which was doomed to a cruel disappointment. She was, however, never for a moment deceived as to his character. His heart she believed kindly and good; his intellect, of a low order; his views as to reform, narrow, intending [pg viii] only what is partial, temporary, and alleviating, never a permanent, vital reform, which should remove the cause of the ills on account of which his people groaned. Really to elevate and free Italy, it was necessary to remove the yoke of ecclesiastical and political thraldom; to do this formed no part of his plans,—from his very nature he was incapable of so great a purpose. The expression in her letters of this opinion, when most people hoped better things, was at first censured, as doing injustice to Pius IX.; but alas! events proved the impulses of his heart to be in subjection to the prejudices of his mind, and that mind to be weaker than even she had deemed it, with views as narrow as she had feared.

The third part of this volume contains some letters to friends, which were never written for the public eye, but are necessary to complete, as far as can now be done, the narrative of her residence abroad. Some few of these have already appeared in her "Memoirs," a work I cannot too warmly recommend to those who would know my sister's character. Many more of her letters may be there found, equally worthy of perusal, but not so necessary to complete the history of events in Italy.

The fourth part contains the details of that shipwreck which caused mourning not only in the hearts of her kindred, but of the many who knew and loved her. These, with some poems commemorative of her character and eventful death, form a sad but fitting close to a book which records her European journeyings, and her voyage to a home which proved to be not in this land, where were waiting warm hearts to bid her welcome, but one in a land yet freer, better than this, where she can be no less loved by the angels, by our Saviour, and the Infinite Father. [pg ix] After the copy for this volume had been sent to the press, it was found necessary to omit some portions of the work in the republication, as too much matter had been furnished for a volume of reasonable size. The Editor made these omissions with much reluctance, but the desire to bring a record of Madame Ossoli's journeyings within the compass of one volume outweighed that reluctance. He believes the omissions have been made in such a way as not materially to diminish its value, especially as most which has been omitted will find place in another volume he hopes soon to issue, containing a portion of the miscellaneous writings of Madame Ossoli.

All of these omissions that are important occur in the Summer on the Lakes, it being thought better to omit from a portion of the work which had previously been before the public in book form. The episodical nature of that work, too, enabled the Editor to make omissions without in any way marring its unity. These omissions, when other than mere verbal ones, consist of extracts from books which she read in relation to the Indians; an account of and translation from the Seeress of Prevorst, a German work which had not then, but has since, been translated into English, and republished in this country; a few extracts from letters and poems sent to her by friends while she was in the West, one of which poems has been since published elsewhere by its author; and the story of Marianna, (a great portion of which may be found in my sister's "Memoirs,") and also Lines to Edith, a short poem. Marianna and Lines to Edith will probably be republished in another volume. From the letters of Madame Ossoli in Parts II. and III. no omissions have been made other than verbal, or when pertaining to trifling incidents, [pg x] having only a temporary interest. Nothing in any portion of the book recording my sister's own observations or opinions has been omitted or changed. The reader, too, will notice that nothing affecting the unity of the narrative is here wanting, the volume even gaining in that respect by the omission of extracts from other writers, and of a story and short poem not connected in any regard with Western life.

In conclusion, the Editor would express the sincere hope that this volume may not only be of general interest, but inspire its readers with an increased love of republican institutions, and an earnest purpose to seek the removal of every national wrong which hinders our beloved country from being a perfect example and hearty helper of other nations in their struggles for liberty. May it do something, also, to remove misapprehension of the motives, character, and action of those noble patriots of Italy, who strove, though for a time vainly, to make their country free, and to deepen the sympathy which every true American should feel with faithful men everywhere, who by art are seeking to refine, by philanthropic exertion to elevate, by the diffusion of truth to enlighten, or by self-sacrifice and earnest effort to free, their fellow-men.

A.B.F.

Boston, March 1, 1856.

Footnote A: (return)

Introduction to Papers on Literature and Art, p. 8.



CONTENTS.

PART I.

SUMMER ON THE LAKES 1

PART II.

THINGS AND THOUGHTS IN EUROPE 117

PART III.

LETTERS FROM ABROAD TO FRIENDS AT HOME 423

PART IV.

HOMEWARD VOYAGE, AND MEMORIALS 443

[Transcriber's note: page number of Part IV. corrected from page 441.]

[pg 1]

 

PART I

SUMMER ON THE LAKES.

[pg 2]

Summer days of busy leisure,

Long summer days of dear-bought pleasure,

You have done your teaching well;

Had the scholar means to tell

How grew the vine of bitter-sweet,

What made the path for truant feet,

Winter nights would quickly pass,

Gazing on the magic glass

O'er which the new-world shadows pass.

But, in fault of wizard spell,

Moderns their tale can only tell

In dull words, with a poor reed

Breaking at each time of need.

Yet those to whom a hint suffices

Mottoes find for all devices,

See the knights behind their shields,

Through dried grasses, blooming fields.


Some dried grass-tufts from the wide flowery field,

A muscle-shell from the lone fairy shore,

Some antlers from tall woods which never more

To the wild deer a safe retreat can yield,

An eagle's feather which adorned a Brave,

Well-nigh the last of his despairing band,—

For such slight gifts wilt thou extend thy hand

When weary hours a brief refreshment crave?

I give you what I can, not what I would

If my small drinking-cup would hold a flood,

As Scandinavia sung those must contain

With which, the giants gods may entertain;

In our dwarf day we drain few drops, and soon must thirst again.

[pg 3]

 

CHAPTER I.

NIAGARA.

Niagara, June 10, 1843.

Since you are to share with me such foot-notes as may be made on the pages of my life during this summer's wanderings, I should not be quite silent as to this magnificent prologue to the, as yet, unknown drama. Yet I, like others, have little to say, where the spectacle is, for once, great enough to fill the whole life, and supersede thought, giving us only its own presence. "It is good to be here," is the best, as the simplest, expression that occurs to the mind.

We have been here eight days, and I am quite willing to go away. So great a sight soon satisfies, making us content with itself, and with what is less than itself. Our desires, once realized, haunt us again less readily. Having "lived one day," we would depart, and become worthy to live another.

We have not been fortunate in weather, for there cannot be too much, or too warm sunlight for this scene, and the skies have been lowering, with cold, unkind winds. My nerves, too much braced up by such an atmosphere, do not well bear the continual stress of sight and sound. For here there is no escape from the weight of a perpetual creation; all other forms and motions come and go, the tide rises and recedes, the wind, at its mightiest, moves in gales and gusts, but here is really an incessant, an indefatigable motion. Awake or asleep, there is no escape, still this rushing round you and through you. It is in this way I have most felt the grandeur,—somewhat eternal, if not infinite.

At times a secondary music rises; the cataract seems to seize [pg 4] its own rhythm and sing it over again, so that the ear and soul are roused by a double vibration. This is some effect of the wind, causing echoes to the thundering anthem. It is very sublime, giving the effect of a spiritual repetition through all the spheres.

When I first came, I felt nothing but a quiet satisfaction. I found that drawings, the panorama, &c. had given me a clear notion of the position and proportions of all objects here; I knew where to look for everything, and everything looked as I thought it would.

Long ago, I was looking from a hill-side with a friend at one of the finest sunsets that ever enriched, this world. A little cowboy, trudging along, wondered what we could be gazing at. After spying about some time, he found it could only be the sunset, and looking, too, a moment, he said approvingly, "That sun looks well enough"; a speech worthy of Shakespeare's Cloten, or the infant Mercury, up to everything from the cradle, as you please to take it.

Even such a familiarity, worthy of Jonathan, our national hero, in a prince's palace, or "stumping," as he boasts to have done, "up the Vatican stairs, into the Pope's presence, in my old boots," I felt here; it looks really well enough, I felt, and was inclined, as you suggested, to give my approbation as to the one object in the world that would not disappoint.

But all great expression, which, on a superficial survey, seems so easy as well as so simple, furnishes, after a while, to the faithful observer, its own standard by which to appreciate it. Daily these proportions widened and towered more and more upon my sight, and I got, at last, a proper foreground for these sublime distances. Before coming away, I think I really saw the full wonder of the scene. After a while it so drew me into itself as to inspire an undefined dread, such as I never knew before, such as may be felt when death is about to usher us into a new existence. The perpetual trampling of the waters seized my senses. I felt that no other sound, however near, could be heard, and would start and look behind me for a foe. I realized the identity of that mood of nature in which these waters were poured down with [pg 5] such absorbing force, with that in which the Indian was shaped on the same soil. For continually upon my mind came, unsought and unwelcome, images, such as never haunted it before, of naked savages stealing behind me with uplifted tomahawks; again and again this illusion recurred, and even after I had thought it over, and tried to shake it off, I could not help starting and looking behind me.

As picture, the falls can only be seen from the British side. There they are seen in their veils, and at sufficient distance to appreciate the magical effects of these, and the light and shade. From the boat, as you cross, the effects and contrasts are more melodramatic. On the road back from the whirlpool, we saw them as a reduced picture with delight. But what I liked best was to sit on Table Rock, close to the great fall. There all power of observing details, all separate consciousness, was quite lost.

Once, just as I had seated myself there, a man came to take his first look. He walked close up to the fall, and, after looking at it a moment, with an air as if thinking how he could best appropriate it to his own use, he spat into it.

This trait seemed wholly worthy of an age whose love of utility is such that the Prince Puckler Muskau suggests the probability of men coming to put the bodies of their dead parents in the fields to fertilize them, and of a country such as Dickens has described; but these will not, I hope, be seen on the historic page to be truly the age or truly the America. A little leaven is leavening the whole mass for other bread.

The whirlpool I like very much. It is seen to advantage after the great falls; it is so sternly solemn. The river cannot look more imperturbable, almost sullen in its marble green, than it does just below the great fall; but the slight circles that mark the hidden vortex seem to whisper mysteries the thundering voice above could not proclaim,—a meaning as untold as ever.

It is fearful, too, to know, as you look, that whatever has been swallowed by the cataract is like to rise suddenly to light here, whether uprooted tree, or body of man or bird.

[pg 6]

The rapids enchanted me far beyond what I expected; they are so swift that they cease to seem so; you can think only of their beauty. The fountain beyond the Moss Islands I discovered for myself, and thought it for some time an accidental beauty which it would not do to leave, lest I might never see it again. After I found it permanent, I returned many times to watch the play of its crest. In the little waterfall beyond, Nature seems, as she often does, to have made a study for some larger design. She delights in this,—a sketch within a sketch, a dream within a dream. Wherever we see it, the lines of the great buttress in the fragment of stone, the hues of the waterfall copied in the flowers that star its bordering mosses, we are delighted; for all the lineaments become fluent, and we mould the scene in congenial thought with its genius.

People complain of the buildings at Niagara, and fear to see it further deformed. I cannot sympathize with such an apprehension: the spectacle is capable of swallowing up all such objects; they are not seen in the great whole, more than an earthworm in a wide field.

The beautiful wood on Goat Island is full of flowers; many of the fairest love to do homage here. The Wake-robin and May-apple are in bloom now; the former, white, pink, green, purple, copying the rainbow of the fall, and fit to make a garland for its presiding deity when he walks the land, for they are of imperial size, and shaped like stones for a diadem. Of the May-apple, I did not raise one green tent without finding a flower beneath.

And now farewell. Niagara. I have seen thee, and I think all who come here must in some sort see thee; thou art not to be got rid of as easily as the stars. I will be here again beneath some flooding July moon and sun. Owing to the absence of light, I have seen the rainbow only two or three times by day; the lunar bow not at all. However, the imperial presence needs not its crown, though illustrated by it.

General Porter and Jack Downing were not unsuitable figures here. The former heroically planted the bridges by which we cross to Goat Island and the Wake-robin-crowned genius has [pg 7] punished his temerity with deafness, which must, I think, have come upon him when he sunk the first stone in the rapids. Jack seemed an acute and entertaining representative of Jonathan, come to look at his great water-privilege. He told us all about the Americanisms of the spectacle; that is to say, the battles that have been fought here. It seems strange that men could fight in such a place; but no temple can still the personal griefs and strifes in the breasts of its visitors.

No less strange is the fact that, in this neighborhood, an eagle should be chained for a plaything. When a child, I used often to stand at a window from which I could see an eagle chained in the balcony of a museum. The people used to poke at it with sticks, and my childish heart would swell with indignation as I saw their insults, and the mien with which they were borne by the monarch-bird. Its eye was dull, and its plumage soiled and shabby, yet, in its form and attitude, all the king was visible, though sorrowful and dethroned. I never saw another of the family till, when passing through the Notch of the White Mountains, at that moment glowing before us in all the panoply of sunset, the driver shouted, "Look there!" and following with our eyes his upward-pointing finger, we saw, soaring slow in majestic poise above the highest summit, the bird of Jove. It was a glorious sight, yet I know not that I felt more on seeing the bird in all its natural freedom and royalty, than when, imprisoned and insulted, he had filled my early thoughts with the Byronic "silent rages" of misanthropy.

Now, again, I saw him a captive, and addressed by the vulgar with the language they seem to find most appropriate to such occasions,—that of thrusts and blows. Silently, his head averted, he ignored their existence, as Plotinus or Sophocles might that of a modern reviewer. Probably he listened to the voice of the cataract, and felt that congenial powers flowed free, and was consoled, though his own wing was broken.

The story of the Recluse of Niagara interested me a little. It is wonderful that men do not oftener attach their lives to localities of great beauty,—that, when once deeply penetrated, [pg 8] they will let themselves so easily be borne away by the general stream of things, to live anywhere and anyhow. But there is something ludicrous in being the hermit of a show-place, unlike St. Francis in his mountain-bed, where none but the stars and rising sun ever saw him.

There is also a "guide to the falls," who wears his title labelled on his hat; otherwise, indeed, one might as soon think of asking for a gentleman usher to point out the moon. Yet why should we wonder at such, when we have Commentaries on Shakespeare, and Harmonies of the Gospels?

And now you have the little all I have to write. Can it interest you? To one who has enjoyed the full life of any scene, of any hour, what thoughts can be recorded about it seem like the commas and semicolons in the paragraph,—mere stops. Yet I suppose it is not so to the absent. At least, I have read things written about Niagara, music, and the like, that interested me. Once I was moved by Mr. Greenwood's remark, that he could not realize this marvel till, opening his eyes the next morning after he had seen it, his doubt as to the possibility of its being still there taught him what he had experienced. I remember this now with pleasure, though, or because, it is exactly the opposite to what I myself felt. For all greatness affects different minds, each in "its own particular kind," and the variations of testimony mark the truth of feeling.B

I will here add a brief narrative of the experience of another, as being much better than anything I could write, because more simple and individual.

"Now that I have left this 'Earth-wonder,' and the emotions it excited are past, it seems not so much like profanation to analyze my feelings, to recall minutely and accurately the effect of this manifestation of the Eternal. But one should go to such a scene [pg 9] prepared to yield entirely to its influences, to forget one's little self and one's little mind. To see a miserable worm creep to the brink of this falling world of waters, and watch the trembling of its own petty bosom, and fancy that this is made alone to act upon him excites—derision? No,—pity."

As I rode up to the neighborhood of the falls, a solemn awe imperceptibly stole over me, and the deep sound of the ever-hurrying rapids prepared my mind for the lofty emotions to be experienced. When I reached the hotel, I felt a strange indifference about seeing the aspiration of my life's hopes. I lounged about the rooms, read the stage-bills upon the walls, looked over the register, and, finding the name of an acquaintance, sent to see if he was still there. What this hesitation arose from, I know not; perhaps it was a feeling of my unworthiness to enter this temple which nature has erected to its God.

At last, slowly and thoughtfully I walked down to the bridge leading to Goat Island, and when I stood upon this frail support, and saw a quarter of a mile of tumbling, rushing rapids, and heard their everlasting roar, my emotions overpowered me, a choking sensation rose to my throat, a thrill rushed through my veins, "my blood ran rippling to my fingers' ends." This was the climax of the effect which the falls produced upon me,—neither the American nor the British fall moved me as did these rapids. For the magnificence, the sublimity of the latter, I was prepared by descriptions and by paintings. When I arrived in sight of them I merely felt, "Ah, yes! here is the fall, just as I have seen it in a picture." When I arrived at the Terrapin Bridge, I expected to be overwhelmed, to retire trembling from this giddy eminence, and gaze with unlimited wonder and awe upon the immense mass rolling on and on; but, somehow or other, I thought only of comparing the effect on my mind with what I had read and heard. I looked for a short time, and then, with almost a feeling of disappointment, turned to go to the other points of view, to see if I was not mistaken in not feeling any surpassing emotion at this sight. But from the foot of Biddle's Stairs, and the middle of the river, and from below the Table Rock, it was still "barren, barren all."

[pg 10]

Provoked with my stupidity in feeling most moved in the wrong place, I turned away to the hotel, determined to set off for Buffalo that afternoon. But the stage did not go, and, after nightfall, as there was a splendid moon, I went down to the bridge, and leaned over the parapet, where the boiling rapids came down in their might. It was grand, and it was also gorgeous; the yellow rays of the moon made the broken waves appear like auburn tresses twining around the black rocks. But they did not inspire me as before. I felt a foreboding of a mightier emotion to rise up and swallow all others, and I passed on to the Terrapin Bridge. Everything was changed, the misty apparition had taken off its many-colored crown which it had worn by day, and a bow of silvery white spanned its summit. The moonlight gave a poetical indefiniteness to the distant parts of the waters, and while the rapids were glancing in her beams, the river below the falls was black as night, save where the reflection of the sky gave it the appearance of a shield of blued steel. No gaping tourists loitered, eyeing with their glasses, or sketching on cards the hoary locks of the ancient river-god. All tended to harmonize with the natural grandeur of the scene. I gazed long. I saw how here mutability and unchangeableness were united. I surveyed the conspiring waters rushing against the rocky ledge to overthrow it at one mad plunge, till, like toppling ambition, o'er-leaping themselves, they fall on t' other side, expanding into foam ere they reach the deep channel where they creep submissively away.

Then arose in my breast a genuine admiration, and a humble adoration of the Being who was the architect of this and of all. Happy were the first discoverers of Niagara, those who could come unawares upon this view and upon that, whose feelings were entirely their own. With what gusto does Father Hennepin describe "this great downfall of water," "this vast and prodigious cadence of water, which falls down after a surprising and astonishing manner, insomuch that the universe does not afford its parallel. 'T is true Italy and Swedeland boast of some such things, but we may well say that they be sorry patterns when compared with this of which we do now speak."

Footnote B: (return)

"Somewhat avails, in one regard, the mere sight of beauty without the union of feeling therewith. Carried away in memory, it hangs there in the lonely hall as a picture, and may some time do its message. I trust it may be so in my case, for I saw every object far more clearly than if I had been moved and filled with the presence, and my recollections are equally distinct and vivid." Extracted from Manuscript Notes of this Journey left by Margaret Fuller.—ED.

[pg 11]

 

CHAPTER II.

THE LAKES.—CHICAGO.—GENEVA.—A THUNDER-STORM.—PAPAW GROVE.

SCENE, STEAMBOAT.—About to leave Buffalo.—Baggage coming on board.—Passengers bustling for their berths.—Little boys persecuting everybody with their newspapers and pamphlets.—J., S., and M. huddled up in a forlorn corner, behind a large trunk.—A heavy rain falling.

M. Water, water everywhere. After Niagara one would like a dry strip of existence. And at any rate it is quite enough for me to have it under foot without having it overhead in this way.

J. Ah, do not abuse the gentle element. It is hardly possible to have too much of it, and indeed, if I were obliged to choose amid the four, it would be the one in which I could bear confinement best.

S. You would make a pretty Undine, to be sure!

J. Nay. I only offered myself as a Triton, a boisterous Triton of the sounding shell. You, M., I suppose, would be a salamander, rather.

M. No! that is too equivocal a position, whether in modern mythology, or Hoffman's tales. I should choose to be a gnome.

J. That choice savors of the pride that apes humility.

M. By no means; the gnomes are the most important of all the elemental tribes. Is it not they who make the money?

J. And are accordingly a dark, mean, scoffing ——

M. You talk as if you had always lived in that wild, unprofitable element you are so fond of, where all things glitter, and nothing is gold; all show and no substance. My people work in the [pg 12] secret, and their works praise them in the open light; they remain in the dark because only there such marvels could be bred. You call them mean. They do not spend their energies on their own growth, or their own play, but to feed the veins of Mother Earth with permanent splendors, very different from what she shows on the surface.

Think of passing a life, not merely in heaping together, but making gold. Of all dreams, that of the alchemist is the most poetical, for he looked at the finest symbol. "Gold," says one of our friends, "is the hidden light of the earth, it crowns the mineral, as wine the vegetable order, being the last expression of vital energy."

J. Have you paid for your passage?

J. Yes! and in gold, not in shells or pebbles.

J. No really wise gnome would scoff at the water, the beautiful water. "The spirit of man is like the water."

S. And like the air and fire, no less.

J. Yes, but not like the earth, this low-minded creature's chosen, dwelling.

M. The earth is spirit made fruitful,—life. And its heartbeats are told in gold and wine.

J. Oh! it is shocking to hear such sentiments in these times. I thought that Bacchic energy of yours was long since repressed.

M. No! I have only learned to mix water with my wine, and stamp upon my gold the heads of kings, or the hieroglyphics of worship. But since I have learnt to mix with water, let's hear what you have to say in praise of your favorite.

J. From water Venus was born, what more would you have? It is the mother of Beauty, the girdle of earth, and the marriage of nations.

S. Without any of that high-flown poetry, it is enough, I think, that it is the great artist, turning all objects that approach it to picture.

J. True, no object that touches it, whether it be the cart that ploughs the wave for sea-weed, or the boat or plank that rides upon it, but is brought at once from the demesne of coarse utilities [pg 13] into that of picture. All trades, all callings, become picturesque by the water's side, or on the water. The soil, the slovenliness, is washed out of every calling by its touch. All river-crafts, sea-crafts, are picturesque, are poetical. Their very slang is poetry.

M. The reasons for that are complex.

J. The reason is, that there can be no plodding, groping words and motions on my water as there are on your earth. There is no time, no chance for them where all moves so rapidly, though so smoothly; everything connected with water must be like itself, forcible, but clear. That is why sea-slang is so poetical; there is a word for everything and every act, and a thing and an act for every word. Seamen must speak quick and bold, but also with utmost precision. They cannot reef and brace other than in a Homeric dialect,—therefore—(Steamboat bell rings.) But I must say a quick good-by.

M. What, going, going back to earth after all this talk upon the other side. Well, that is nowise Homeric, but truly modern.

J. is borne off without time for any reply, but a laugh—at himself, of course.

S. and M. retire to their state-rooms to forget the wet, the chill, and steamboat smell, in their just-bought new world of novels.

Next day, when we stopped at Cleveland, the storm was just clearing up; ascending the bluff, we had one of the finest views of the lake that could have been wished. The varying depths of these lakes give to their surface a great variety of coloring, and beneath this wild sky and changeful light, the waters presented a kaleidoscopic variety of hues, rich, but mournful. I admire these bluffs of red, crumbling earth. Here land and water meet under very different auspices from those of the rock-bound coast to which I have been accustomed. There they meet tenderly to challenge, and proudly to refuse, though, not in fact repel. But here they meet to mingle, are always rushing together, and changing places; a new creation takes place beneath the eye.

The weather grew gradually clearer, but not bright; yet we could see the shore and appreciate the extent of these noble waters.

[pg 14]

Coming up the river St. Clair, we saw Indians for the first time. They were camped out on the bank. It was twilight, and their blanketed forms, in listless groups or stealing along the bank, with a lounge and a stride so different in its wildness from the rudeness of the white settler, gave me the first feeling that I really approached the West.

The people on the boat were almost all New-Englanders, seeking their fortunes. They had brought with them their habits of calculation, their cautious manners, their love of polemics. It grieved me to hear these immigrants, who were to be the fathers of a new race, all, from the old man down to the little girl, talking, not of what they should do, but of what they should get in the new scene. It was to them a prospect, not of the unfolding nobler energies, but of more ease and larger accumulation. It wearied me, too, to hear Trinity and Unity discussed in the poor, narrow, doctrinal way on these free waters; but that will soon cease; there is not time for this clash of opinions in the West, where the clash of material interests is so noisy. They will need the spirit of religion more than ever to guide them, but will find less time than before for its doctrine. This change was to me, who am tired of the war of words on these subjects, and believe it only sows the wind to reap the whirlwind, refreshing, but I argue nothing from it; there is nothing real in the freedom of thought at the West,—it is from the position of men's lives, not the state of their minds. So soon as they have time, unless they grow better meanwhile, they will cavil and criticise, and judge other men by their own standard, and outrage the law of love every way, just as they do with us.

We reached Mackinaw the evening of the third day, but, to my great disappointment, it was too late and too rainy to go ashore. The beauty of the island, though seen under the most unfavorable circumstances, did not disappoint my expectations.C But I shall see it to more purpose on my return.

[pg 15]

As the day has passed dully, a cold rain preventing us from keeping out in the air, my thoughts have been dwelling on a story told when we were off Detroit, this morning, by a fellow-passenger, and whose moral beauty touched me profoundly.

"Some years ago," said Mrs. L., "my father and mother stopped to dine at Detroit. A short time before dinner my father met in the hall Captain P., a friend of his youthful days. He had loved P. extremely, as did many who knew him, and had not been surprised to hear of the distinction and popular esteem which his wide knowledge, talents, and noble temper commanded, as he went onward in the world. P. was every way fitted to succeed; his aims were high, but not too high for his powers, suggested by an instinct of his own capacities, not by an ideal standard drawn from culture. Though steadfast in his course, it was not to overrun others; his wise self-possession was no less for them than himself. He was thoroughly the gentleman, gentle because manly, and was a striking instance that, where there is strength for sincere courtesy, there is no need of other adaptation to the character of others, to make one's way freely and gracefully through the crowd.

"My father was delighted to see him, and after a short parley in the hall, 'We will dine together,' he cried, 'then we shall have time to tell all our stories.'

"P. hesitated a moment, then said, 'My wife is with me.'

"'And mine with me,' said my father; 'that's well; they, too, will have an opportunity of getting acquainted, and can entertain one another, if they get tired of our college stories.'

"P. acquiesced, with a grave bow, and shortly after they all met in the dining-room. My father was much surprised at the appearance of Mrs. P. He had heard that his friend married [pg 16] abroad, but nothing further, and he was not prepared to see the calm, dignified P. with a woman on his arm, still handsome, indeed, but whose coarse and imperious expression showed as low habits of mind as her exaggerated dress and gesture did of education. Nor could there be a greater contrast to my mother, who, though understanding her claims and place with the certainty of a lady, was soft and retiring in an uncommon degree.

"However, there was no time to wonder or fancy; they sat down, and P. engaged in conversation, without much vivacity, but with his usual ease. The first quarter of an hour passed well enough. But soon it was observable that Mrs. P. was drinking glass after glass of wine, to an extent few gentlemen did, even then, and soon that she was actually excited by it. Before this, her manner had been brusque, if not contemptuous, towards her new acquaintance; now it became, towards my mother especially, quite rude. Presently she took up some slight remark made by my mother, which, though, it did not naturally mean anything of the sort, could be twisted into some reflection upon England, and made it a handle, first of vulgar sarcasm, and then, upon my mother's defending herself with some surprise and gentle dignity, hurled upon her a volley of abuse, beyond Billingsgate.

"My mother, confounded by scenes and ideas presented to her mind equally new and painful, sat trembling; she knew not what to do; tears rushed into her eyes. My father, no less distressed, yet unwilling to outrage the feelings of his friend by doing or saying what his indignation prompted, turned an appealing look on P.

"Never, as he often said, was the painful expression of that sight effaced from his mind. It haunted his dreams and disturbed his waking thoughts. P. sat with his head bent forward, and his eyes cast down, pale, but calm, with a fixed expression, not merely of patient woe, but of patient shame, which it would not have been thought possible for that noble countenance to wear. 'Yet,' said my father, 'it became him. At other times he was handsome, but then beautiful, though of a beauty saddened and abashed. For a spiritual light borrowed from the worldly [pg 17] perfection of his mien that illustration by contrast, which the penitence of the Magdalen does from the glowing earthliness of her charms.'

"Seeing that he preserved silence, while Mrs. P. grew still more exasperated, my father rose and led his wife to her own room. Half an hour had passed, in painful and wondering surmises, when a gentle knock was heard at the door, and P. entered equipped for a journey. 'We are just going,' he said, and holding out his hand, but without looking at them, 'Forgive.'

"They each took his hand, and silently pressed it; then he went without a word more.

"Some time passed, and they heard now and then of P., as he passed from one army station to another, with his uncongenial companion, who became, it was said, constantly more degraded. Whoever mentioned having seen them wondered at the chance which had yoked him to such a woman, but yet more at the silent fortitude with which he bore it. Many blamed him for enduring it, apparently without efforts to check her; others answered that he had probably made such at an earlier period, and, finding them unavailing, had resigned himself to despair, and was too delicate to meet the scandal that, with such resistance as such a woman could offer, must attend a formal separation.

"But my father, who was not in such haste to come to conclusions, and substitute some plausible explanation for the truth, found something in the look of P. at that trying moment to which, none of these explanations offered a key. There was in it, he felt, a fortitude, but not the fortitude of the hero; a religious submission, above the penitent, if not enkindled with the enthusiasm, of the martyr.

"I have said that my father was not one of those who are ready to substitute specious explanations for truth, and those who are thus abstinent rarely lay their hand, on a thread without making it a clew. Such a man, like the dexterous weaver, lets not one color go till Ire finds that which matches it in the pattern,—he keeps on weaving, but chooses his shades; and my father found at last what he wanted to make out the pattern for himself. He met [pg 18] a lady who had been intimate with both himself and P. in early days, and, finding she had seen the latter abroad, asked if she knew the circumstances of the marriage.

"'The circumstances of the act which sealed the misery of our friend, I know,' she said, 'though as much in the dark as any one about the motives that led to it.

"'We were quite intimate with P. in London, and he was our most delightful companion. He was then in the full flower of the varied accomplishments which set off his fine manners and dignified character, joined, towards those he loved, with a certain soft willingness which gives the desirable chivalry to a man. None was more clear of choice where his personal affections were not touched, but where they were, it cost him pain to say no, on the slightest occasion. I have thought this must have had some connection with the mystery of his misfortunes.

"'One day he called on me, and, without any preface, asked if I would be present next day at his marriage. I was so surprised, and so unpleasantly surprised, that I did not at first answer a word. We had been on terms so familiar, that I thought I knew all about him, yet had never dreamed of his having an attachment; and, though I had never inquired on the subject, yet this reserve where perfect openness had been supposed, and really, on my side, existed, seemed to me a kind of treachery. Then it is never pleasant to know that a heart on which we have some claim is to be given to another. We cannot tell how it will affect our own relations with a person; it may strengthen or it may swallow up other affections; the crisis is hazardous, and our first thought, on such an occasion, is too often for ourselves,—at least mine was. Seeing me silent, he repeated his question. "To whom," said I, "are you to be married?" "That," he replied, "I cannot tell you." He was a moment silent, then continued, with an impassive look of cold self-possession, that affected me with strange sadness: "The name of the person you will hear, of course, at the time, but more I cannot tell you. I need, however, the presence, not only of legal, but of respectable and friendly witnesses. I have hoped you and your husband [pg 19] would, do me this kindness. Will you?" Something in his manner made it impossible to refuse. I answered, before I knew I was going to speak, "We will," and he left me.

"'I will not weary you with telling how I harassed myself and my husband, who was, however, scarce less interested, with doubts and conjectures. Suffice it that, next morning, P. came and took us in a carriage to a distant church. We had just entered the porch, when a cart, such as fruit and vegetables are brought to market in, drove up, containing an elderly woman and a young girl. P. assisted them to alight, and advanced with the girl to the altar.

"'The girl was neatly dressed and quite handsome, yet something in her expression displeased me the moment I looked upon her. Meanwhile, the ceremony was going on, and, at its close, P. introduced us to the bride, and we all went to the door. "Good by, Fanny," said the elderly woman. The new-made Mrs. P. replied without any token of affection or emotion. The woman got into the cart and drove away.

"'From that time I saw but little of P. or his wife. I took our mutual friends to see her, and they were civil to her for his sake. Curiosity was very much excited, but entirely baffled; no one, of course, dared speak to P. on the subject, and no other means could be found of solving the riddle.

"'He treated his wife with grave and kind politeness, but it was always obvious that they had nothing in common between them. Her manners and tastes were not at that time gross, but her character showed itself hard and material. She was fond of riding, and spent much time so. Her style in this, and in dress, seemed the opposite of P.'s; but he indulged all her wishes, while, for himself, he plunged into his own pursuits.

"'For a time he seemed, if not happy, not positively unhappy; but, after a few years, Mrs. P. fell into the habit of drinking, and then such scenes as you witnessed grew frequent. I have often heard of them, and always that P. sat, as you describe him, his head bowed down and perfectly silent all through, whatever might be done or whoever be present, and always his aspect has inspired [pg 20] such sympathy that no person has questioned him or resented her insults, but merely got out of the way as soon as possible.'

"'Hard and long penance,' said my father, after some minutes musing, 'for an hour of passion, probably for his only error.'

"'Is that your explanation?' said the lady. 'O, improbable! P. might err, but not be led beyond himself.'

"I know that his cool, gray eye and calm complexion seemed to say so, but a different story is told by the lip that could tremble, and showed what flashes might pierce those deep blue heavens; and when these over-intellectual beings do swerve aside, it is to fall down a precipice, for their narrow path lies over such. But he was not one to sin without making a brave atonement, and that it had become a holy one, was written on that downcast brow."

The fourth day on these waters, the weather was milder and brighter, so that we could now see them to some purpose. At night the moon was clear, and, for the first time, from, the upper deck I saw one of the great steamboats come majestically up. It was glowing with lights, looking many-eyed and sagacious; in its heavy motion it seemed a dowager queen, and this motion, with its solemn pulse, and determined sweep, becomes these smooth waters, especially at night, as much as the dip of the sail-ship the long billows of the ocean.

But it was not so soon that I learned to appreciate the lake scenery; it was only after a daily and careless familiarity that I entered into its beauty, for Nature always refuses to be seen by being stared at. Like Bonaparte, she discharges her face of all expression when she catches the eye of impertinent curiosity fixed on her. But he who has gone to sleep in childish ease on her lap, or leaned an aching brow upon her breast, seeking there comfort with full trust as from a mother, will see all a mother's beauty in the look she bends upon him. Later, I felt that I had really seen these regions, and shall speak of them again.

In the afternoon we went on shore at the Manitou Islands, where the boat stops to wood. No one lives here except wood-cutters for the steamboats. I had thought of such a position, [pg 21] from its mixture of profound solitude with service to the great world, as possessing an ideal beauty. I think so still, even after seeing the wood-cutters and their slovenly huts.

In times of slower growth, man did not enter a situation without a certain preparation or adaptedness to it. He drew from it, if not to the poetical extent, at least in some proportion, its moral and its meaning. The wood-cutter did not cut down so many trees a day, that the Hamadryads had not time to make their plaints heard; the shepherd tended his sheep, and did no jobs or chores the while; the idyl had a chance to grow up, and modulate his oaten pipe. But now the poet must be at the whole expense of the poetry in describing one of these positions; the worker is a true Midas to the gold he makes. The poet must describe, as the painter sketches Irish peasant-girls and Danish fishwives, adding the beauty, and leaving out the dirt.

I come to the West prepared for the distaste I must experience at its mushroom growth. I know that, where "go ahead" is tire only motto, the village cannot grow into the gentle proportions that successive lives and the gradations of experience involuntarily give. In older countries the house of the son grew from that of the father, as naturally as new joints on a bough, and the cathedral crowned the whole as naturally as the leafy summit the tree. This cannot be here. The march of peaceful is scarce less wanton than that of warlike invasion. The old landmarks are broken down, and the land, for a season, bears none, except of the rudeness of conquest and the needs of the day, whose bivouac-fires blacken the sweetest forest glades. I have come prepared to see all this, to dislike it, but not with stupid narrowness to distrust or defame. On the contrary, while I will not be so obliging as to confound ugliness with beauty, discord with harmony, and laud and be contented with all I meet, when it conflicts with my best desires and tastes, I trust by reverent faith to woo the mighty meaning of the scene, perhaps to foresee the law by which a new order, a new poetry, is to be evoked from this chaos, and with a curiosity as ardent, but not so selfish, as that of Macbeth, to call up the apparitions of future kings from the [pg 22] strange ingredients of the witch's caldron. Thus I will not grieve that all the noble trees are gone already from this island to feed this caldron, but believe it will have Medea's virtue, and reproduce them in the form of new intellectual growths, since centuries cannot again adorn the land with such as have been removed.

On this most beautiful beach of smooth white pebbles, interspersed with agates and cornelians for those who know how to find them, we stepped, not like the Indian, with some humble offering, which, if no better than an arrow-head or a little parched corn, would, he judged, please the Manitou, who looks only at the spirit in which it is offered. Our visit was so far for a religious purpose that one of our party went to inquire the fate of some Unitarian tracts left among the wood-cutters a year or two before. But the old Manitou, though, daunted like his children by the approach of the fire-ships, which he probably considered demons of a new dynasty, he had suffered his woods to be felled to feed their pride, had been less patient of an encroachment which did not to him seem so authorized by the law of the strongest, and had scattered those leaves as carelessly as the others of that year.

But S. and I, like other emigrants, went, not to give, but to get, to rifle the wood of flowers for the service of the fire-ship. We returned with a rich booty, among which was the Uva-ursi, whose leaves the Indians smoke, with the Kinnikinnik, and which had then just put forth its highly finished little blossoms, as pretty as those of the blueberry.

Passing along still further, I thought it would be well if the crowds assembled to stare from the various landings were still confined to the Kinnikinnik, for almost all had tobacco written on their faces, their cheeks rounded with plugs, their eyes dull with its fumes. We reached Chicago on the evening of the sixth day, having been out five days and a half, a rather longer passage than usual at a favorable season of the year.

Chicago, June 20.

There can be no two places in the world more completely thoroughfares than this place and Buffalo. They are the two [pg 23] correspondent valves that open and shut all the time, as the life-blood rushes from east to west, and back again from west to east.

Since it is their office thus to be the doors, and let in and out, it would be unfair to expect from them much character of their own. To make the best provisions for the transmission of produce is their office, and the people who live there are such as are suited for this,—active, complaisant, inventive, business people. There are no provisions for the student or idler; to know what the place can give, you should be at work with the rest; the mere traveller will not find it profitable to loiter there as I did.

Since circumstances made it necessary for me so to do, I read all the books I could find about the new region, which now began, to become real to me. Especially I read all the books about the Indians,—a paltry collection truly, yet which furnished material for many thoughts. The most narrow-minded and awkward recital still bears some lineaments of the great features of this nature, and the races of men that illustrated them.

Catlin's book is far the best. I was afterwards assured by those acquainted with the regions he describes, that he is not to be depended on for the accuracy of his facts, and indeed it is obvious, without the aid of such assertions, that he sometimes yields to the temptation of making out a story. They admitted, however, what from my feelings I was sure of, that he is true to the spirit of the scene, and that a far better view can be got from him than from any source at present existing, of the Indian tribes of the Far West, and of the country where their inheritance lay.

Murray's Travels I read, and was charmed by their accuracy and clear, broad tone. He is the only Englishman that seems to have traversed these regions as man simply, not as John Bull. He deserves to belong to an aristocracy, for he showed his title to it more when left without a guide in the wilderness, than he can at the court of Victoria. He has; himself, no poetic force at description, but it is easy to make images from his hints. Yet we believe the Indian cannot be locked at truly except by a poetic eye. The Pawnees, no doubt, are such as he describes them, filthy in their habits, and treacherous in their character, but some [pg 24] would have seen, and seen truly, more beauty and dignity than he does with all his manliness and fairness of mind. However, his one fine old man is enough to redeem the rest, and is perhaps tire relic of a better day, a Phocion among the Pawnees.

Schoolcraft's Algic Researches is a valuable book, though a worse use could hardly have been made of such fine material. Had the mythological or hunting stories of the Indians been written down exactly as they were received from the lips of the narrators, the collection could not have been surpassed in interest? both for the wild charm they carry with them, and the light they throw on a peculiar modification of life and mind. As it is, though the incidents have an air of originality and pertinence to the occasion, that gives us confidence that they have not been altered, the phraseology in which they were expressed has been entirely set aside, and the flimsy graces, common to the style of annuals and souvenirs, substituted for the Spartan brevity and sinewy grasp of Indian speech. We can just guess what might have been there, as we can detect the fine proportions of the Brave whom the bad taste of some white patron has arranged in frock-coat, hat, and pantaloons.

The few stories Mrs. Jameson wrote out, though to these also a sentimental air has been given, offend much less in that way than is common in this book. What would we not give for a completely faithful version of some among them! Yet, with all these drawbacks, we cannot doubt from internal evidence that they truly ascribe to the Indian a delicacy of sentiment and of fancy that justifies Cooper in such inventions as his Uncas. It is a white man's view of a savage hero, who would be far finer in his natural proportions; still, through a masquerade figure, it implies the truth.

Irving's books I also read, some for the first, some for the second time, with increased interest, now that I was to meet such people as he received his materials from. Though the books are pleasing from, their grace and luminous arrangement, yet, with the exception of the Tour to the Prairies, they have a stereotype, second-hand air. They lack the breath, the glow, the charming minute [pg 25] traits of living presence. His scenery is only fit to be glanced at from, dioramic distance; his Indians are academic figures only. He would have made the best of pictures, if he could have used his own eyes for studies and sketches; as it is, his success is wonderful, but inadequate.

McKenney's Tour to the Lakes is the dullest of books, yet faithful and quiet, and gives some facts not to be met with everywhere.

I also read a collection of Indian anecdotes and speeches, the worst compiled and arranged book possible, yet not without clews of some value. All these books I read in anticipation of a canoe-voyage on Lake Superior as far as the Pictured Rocks, and, though I was afterwards compelled to give up this project, they aided me in judging of what I subsequently saw and heard of the Indians.

In Chicago I first saw the beautiful prairie-flowers. They were in their glory the first ten days we were there,—

"The golden and the flame-like flowers."

The flame-like flower I was taught afterwards, by an Indian girl, to call "Wickapee"; and she told me, too, that its splendors had a useful side, for it was used by the Indians as a remedy for an illness to which they were subject.

Beside these brilliant flowers, which gemmed and gilt the grass in a sunny afternoon's drive near the blue lake, between the low oak-wood and the narrow beach, stimulated, whether sensuously by the optic nerve, unused to so much gold and crimson with such tender green, or symbolically through some meaning dimly seen in the flowers, I enjoyed a sort of fairy-land exultation never felt before, and the first drive amid the flowers gave me anticipation of the beauty of the prairies.

At first, the prairie seemed to speak of the very desolation of dulness. After sweeping over the vast monotony of the lakes to come to this monotony of land, with all around a limitless horizon,—to walk, and walk, and run, but never climb, oh! it was too dreary for any but a Hollander to bear. How the eye greeted [pg 26] the approach of a sail, or the smoke of a steamboat; it seemed that anything so animated must come from a better land, where mountains gave religion to the scene.

The only thing I liked at first to do was to trace with slow and unexpecting step the narrow margin of the lake. Sometimes a heavy swell gave it expression; at others, only its varied coloring, which I found more admirable every day, and which gave it an air of mirage instead of the vastness of ocean. Then there was a grandeur in the feeling that I might continue that walk, if I had any seven-leagued mode of conveyance to save fatigue, for hundreds of miles without an obstacle and without a change.

But after I had ridden out, and seen the flowers, and observed the sun set with that calmness seen only in the prairies, and tire cattle winding slowly to their homes in the "island groves,"—most peaceful of sights,—I began to love, because I began to know tire scene, and shrank no longer from "the encircling vastness."

It is always thus with the new form of life; we must learn to look at it by its own standard. At first, no doubt, my accustomed eye kept saying, if the mind did not, What! no distant mountains? What! no valleys? But after a while I would ascend the roof of the house where we lived, and pass many hours, needing no sight but the moon reigning in the heavens, or starlight falling upon the lake, till all the lights were out in the island grove of men beneath my feet, and felt nearer heaven that there was nothing but this lovely, still reception on the earth; no towering mountains, no deep tree-shadows, nothing but plain earth and water bathed in light.

Sunset, as seen from that place, presented most generally, low-lying, flaky clouds, of the softest serenity.

One night a star "shot madly from, its sphere," and it had a fair chance to be seen, but that serenity could not be astonished.

Yes! it was a peculiar beauty, that of those sunsets and moonlights on the levels of Chicago, which Chamouny or the Trosachs could not make me forget.D

[pg 27]

Notwithstanding all the attractions I thus found out by degrees on the flat shores of the lake, I was delighted when I found myself really on my way into the country for an excursion of two or three weeks. We set forth in a strong wagon, almost as large, and with the look of those used elsewhere for transporting caravans of wild beasts, loaded with everything we might want, in case nobody would give it to us,—for buying and selling were no longer to be counted on,—with, a pair of strong horses, able and willing to force their way through mud-holes and amid stumps, and a guide, equally admirable as marshal and companion, who knew by heart the country and its history, both natural and artificial, and whose clear hunter's eye needed, neither road nor goal to guide it to all the spots where beauty best loves to dwell.

Add to this the finest weather, and such country as I had never seen, even in my dreams, although these dreams had been haunted by wishes for just such a one, and you may judge whether years of dulness might not, by these bright days, be redeemed, and a sweetness be shed over all thoughts of the West.

The first day brought us through woods rich in the moccason-flower and lupine, and plains whose soft expanse was continually touched with expression by the slow moving clouds which

"Sweep over with their shadows, and beneath

The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;

Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase

The sunny ridges,"

to the banks of the Fox River, a sweet and graceful stream. We readied Geneva just in time to escape being drenched by a violent thunder-shower, whose rise and disappearance threw expression into all the features of the scene.

Geneva reminds me of a New England village, as indeed there, and in the neighborhood, are many New-Englanders of an [pg 28] excellent stamp, generous, intelligent, discreet, and seeking to win from life its true values. Such are much wanted, and seem like points of light among the swarms of settlers, whose aims are sordid, whose habits thoughtless and slovenly.E

With great pleasure we heard, with his attentive and affectionate congregation, the Unitarian clergyman, Mr. Conant, and afterward visited him in his house, where almost everything bore traces of his own handiwork or that of his father. He is just such a teacher as is wanted in this region, familiar enough, with the habits of those he addresses to come home to their experience and their wants; earnest and enlightened enough to draw the important inferences from the life of every day.F

A day or two we remained here, and passed some happy hours in the woods that fringe the stream, where the gentlemen found a rich booty of fish.

Next day, travelling along the river's banks, was an uninterrupted pleasure. We closed our drive in the afternoon at the house of an English gentleman, who has gratified, as few men do, the common wish to pass the evening of an active day amid the quiet influences of country life. He showed us a bookcase filled with books about this country; these he had collected for years, and become so familiar with the localities, that, on coming here at last, he sought and found, at once, the very spot he wanted, and [pg 29] where he is as content as he hoped to be, thus realizing Wordsworth's description of the wise man, who "sees what he foresaw."

A wood surrounds the house, through which paths are cut in every direction. It is, for this new country, a large and handsome dwelling; but round it are its barns and farm-yard, with cattle and poultry. These, however, in the framework of wood, have a very picturesque and pleasing effect. There is that mixture of culture and rudeness in the aspect of things which gives a feeling of freedom, not of confusion.

I wish, it were possible to give some idea of this scene, as viewed by the earliest freshness of dewy dawn. This habitation of man seemed like a nest in the grass, so thoroughly were the buildings and all the objects of human care harmonized with, what was natural. The tall trees bent and whispered all around, as if to hail with, sheltering love the men who had come to dwell among them.

The young ladies were musicians, and spoke French fluently, having been educated in a convent. Here in the prairie, they had learned to take care of the milk-room, and kill the rattlesnakes that assailed their poultry-yard. Beneath the shade of heavy curtains you looked out from the high and large windows to see Norwegian peasants at work in their national dress. In the wood grew, not only the flowers I had before seen, and wealth of tall, wild roses, but the splendid blue spiderwort, that ornament of our gardens. Beautiful children strayed there, who were soon to leave these civilized regions for some really wild and western place, a post in the buffalo country. Their no less beautiful mother was of Welsh descent, and the eldest child bore the name of Gwynthleon. Perhaps there she will meet with some young descendants of Madoc, to be her friends; at any rate, her looks may retain that sweet, wild beauty, that is soon made to vanish from eyes which look too much on shops and streets, and the vulgarities of city "parties."

Next day we crossed the river. We ladies crossed on a little foot-bridge, from which we could look down the stream, and see the wagon pass over at the ford. A black thunder-cloud was coming up; the sky and waters heavy with expectation. The [pg 30] motion of the wagon, with its white cover, and the laboring horses, gave just the due interest to the picture, because it seemed, as if they would not have time to cross before the storm came on. However, they did get across, and we were a mile or two on our way before the violent shower obliged us to take refuge in a solitary house upon the prairie. In this country it is as pleasant to stop as to go on, to lose your way as to find it, for the variety in the population gives you a chance for fresh entertainment in every hut, and the luxuriant beauty makes every path attractive. In this house we found a family "quite above the common," but, I grieve to say, not above false pride, for the father, ashamed of being caught barefoot, told us a story of a man, one of the richest men, he said, in one of the Eastern cities, who went barefoot, from choice and taste.

Near the door grew a Provence rose, then in blossom. Other families we saw had brought with them and planted the locust. It was pleasant to see their old home loves, brought into connection with their new splendors. Wherever there were traces of this tenderness of feeling, only too rare among Americans, other things bore signs also of prosperity and intelligence, as if the ordering mind of man had some idea of home beyond a mere shelter beneath which to eat and sleep.

No heaven need wear a lovelier aspect than earth did this afternoon, after the clearing up of the shower. We traversed the blooming plain, unmarked by any road, only the friendly track of wheels which bent, not broke, the grass. Our stations were not from town to town, but from grove to grove. These groves first floated like blue islands in the distance. As we drew nearer, they seemed fair parks, and the little log-houses on the edge, with their curling smokes, harmonized beautifully with them.

One of these groves, Ross's Grove, we reached just at sunset, It was of the noblest trees I saw during this journey, for generally the trees were not large or lofty, but only of fair proportions. Here they were large enough to form with their clear stems pillars for grand cathedral aisles. There was space enough for crimson light to stream through upon the floor of water which the shower had left. As we slowly plashed through, I thought I was never in a better place for vespers.

[pg 31]

That night we rested, or rather tarried, at a grove some miles beyond, and there partook of the miseries, so often jocosely portrayed, of bedchambers for twelve, a milk dish for universal hand-basin, and expectations that you would use and lend your "hankercher" for a towel. But this was the only night, thanks to the hospitality of private families, that we passed thus; and it was well that we had this bit of experience, else might we have pronounced all Trollopian records of the kind to be inventions of pure malice.

With us was a young lady who showed herself to have been bathed in the Britannic fluid, wittily described by a late French writer, by the impossibility she experienced of accommodating herself to the indecorums of the scene. We ladies were to sleep in the bar-room, from which its drinking visitors could be ejected only at a late hour. The outer door had no fastening to prevent their return. However, our host kindly requested we would call him, if they did, as he had "conquered them for us," and would do so again. We had also rather hard couches (mine was the supper-table); but we Yankees, born to rove, were altogether too much fatigued to stand upon trifles, and slept as sweetly as we would in the "bigly bower" of any baroness. But I think England sat up all night, wrapped in her blanket-shawl, and with a neat lace cap upon her head,—so that she would have looked perfectly the lady, if any one had come in,—shuddering and listening. I know that she was very ill next day, in requital. She watched, as her parent country watches the seas, that nobody may do wrong in any case, and deserved to have met some interruption, she was so well prepared. However, there was none, other than from the nearness of some twenty sets of powerful lungs, which would not leave the night to a deathly stillness. In this house we had, if not good beds, yet good tea, good bread, and wild strawberries, and were entertained with most free communications of opinion and history from our hosts. Neither shall any of us have a right to say again that we cannot find any who may be willing to hear all we may have to say. "A's fish that comes to the net," should be painted on the sign at Papaw Grove.

Footnote C: (return)

"Mackinaw, that long desired, sight, was dimly discerned under a thick fog, yet it soothed and cheered me. All looked mellow there; man seemed to have worked in harmony with Nature instead of rudely invading her, as in most Western towns. It seemed possible, on that spot, to lead a life of serenity and cheerfulness. Some richly dressed Indians came down to show themselves. Their dresses were of blue broadcloth, with splendid leggings and knee-ties. On their heads were crimson scarfs adorned with beads and falling on one shoulder, their hair long and looking cleanly. Near were one or two wild figures clad in the common white blankets." Manuscript Notes.—ED.

Footnote D: (return)

"From the prairie near Chicago had I seen, some days before, the sun set with that calmness observed only on the prairies. I know not what it says, but something quite different from sunset at sea. There is no motion except of waving grasses,—the cattle move slowly homeward in the distance. That home! where is it? It seems as If there was no home, and no need of one, and there is room enough to wander on for ever."—Manuscript Notes.

Footnote E: (return)

"We passed a portion of one day with Mr. and Mrs. ——, young, healthy, and, thank Heaven, gay people. In the general dulness that broods over this land where so little genius flows, and care, business, and fashionable frivolity are equally dull, unspeakable is the relief of some flashes of vivacity, some sparkles of wit. Of course it is hard enough for those, most natively disposed that way, to strike fire. I would willingly be the tinder to promote the cheering blaze."—Manuscript Notes.

Footnote F: (return)

"Let any who think men do not need or want the church, hear these people talk about it as if it were the only indispensable thing, and see what I saw in Chicago. An elderly lady from Philadelphia, who had been visiting her sons in the West, arrived there about one o'clock on a hot Sunday noon. She rang the bell and requested a room immediately, as she wanted to get ready for afternoon service. Some delay occurring, she expressed great regret, as she had ridden all night for the sake of attending church. She went to church, neither having dined nor taken any repose after her journey."—Manuscript Notes.

[pg 32]

 

CHAPTER III.

ROCK RIVER.—OREGON.—ANCIENT INDIAN VILLAGE.—GANYMEDE TO HIS EAGLE.—WESTERN FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION.—WOMEN IN THE WEST.—KISHWAUKIE.—BELVIDERE.—FAREWELL.

In the afternoon of this day we reached the Rock River, in whose neighborhood we proposed to make some stay, and crossed at Dixon's Ferry.

This beautiful stream flows full and wide over a bed of rocks, traversing a distance of near two hundred miles, to reach the Mississippi. Great part of the country along its banks is the finest region of Illinois, and the scene of some of the latest romance of Indian warfare. To these beautiful regions Black Hawk returned with his band "to pass the summer," when he drew upon himself the warfare in which he was finally vanquished. No wonder he could not resist the longing, unwise though its indulgence might be, to return in summer to this home of beauty.

Of Illinois, in general, it has often been remarked, that it bears the character of country which has been inhabited by a nation skilled like the English in all the ornamental arts of life, especially in landscape-gardening. The villas and castles seem to have been burnt, the enclosures taken down, but the velvet lawns, the flower-gardens, the stately parks, scattered at graceful intervals by the decorous hand of art, the frequent deer, and the peaceful herd of cattle that make picture of the plain, all suggest more of the masterly mind of man, than the prodigal, but careless, motherly love of Nature. Especially is this true of the [pg 33] Rock River country. The river flows sometimes through these parks and lawns, then betwixt high bluffs, whose grassy ridges are covered with fine trees, or broken with crumbling stone, that easily assumes the forms of buttress, arch, and clustered columns. Along the face of such crumbling rocks, swallows' nests are clustered, thick as cities, and eagles and deer do not disdain their summits. One morning, out in the boat along the base of these rocks, it was amusing, and affecting too, to see these swallows put their heads out to look at us. There was something very hospitable about it, as if man had never shown himself a tyrant near them. What a morning that was! Every sight is worth twice as much by the early morning light. We borrow something of the spirit of the hour to look upon them.

The first place where we stopped was one of singular beauty, a beauty of soft, luxuriant wildness. It was on the bend of the river, a place chosen by an Irish gentleman, whose absenteeship seems of the wisest kind, since, for a sum which would have been but a drop of water to the thirsty fever of his native land, he commands a residence which has all that is desirable, in its independence, its beautiful retirement, and means of benefit to others.

His park, his deer-chase, he found already prepared; he had only to make an avenue through it. This brought us to the house by a drive, which in the heat of noon seemed long, though afterwards, in the cool of morning and evening, delightful. This is, for that part of the world, a large and commodious dwelling. Near it stands the log-cabin where its master lived while it was building, a very ornamental accessory.

In front of the house was a lawn, adorned by the most graceful trees. A few of these had been taken out to give a full view of the river, gliding through banks such as I have described. On this bend the bank is high and bold, so from, the house or the lawn the view was very rich and commanding. But if you descended a ravine at the side to the water's edge, you found there a long walk on the narrow shore, with a wall above of the richest hanging wood, in which they said the deer lay hid. I never saw one but often fancied that I heard them rustling, at daybreak, by [pg 34] these bright, clear waters, stretching out in such smiling promise where no sound broke the deep and blissful seclusion, unless now and then this rustling, or the splash of some fish a little gayer than the others; it seemed not necessary to have any better heaven, or fuller expression of love and freedom, than in the mood of Nature here.

Then, leaving the bank, you would walk far and yet farther through long, grassy paths, full of the most brilliant, also the most delicate flowers. The brilliant are more common on the prairie, but both kinds loved this place.

Amid the grass of the lawn, with a profusion of wild strawberries, we greeted also a familiar love, the Scottish harebell, the gentlest and most touching form of the flower-world.

The master of the house was absent, but with a kindness beyond thanks had offered us a resting-place there. Here we were taken care of by a deputy, who would, for his youth, have been assigned the place of a page in former times, but in the young West, it seems, he was old enough for a steward. Whatever be called his function, he did the honors of the place so much in harmony with it, as to leave the guests free to imagine themselves in Elysium. And the three days passed here were days of unalloyed, spotless happiness.

There was a peculiar charm in coming here, where the choice of location, and the unobtrusive good taste of all the arrangements, showed such intelligent appreciation of the spirit of the scene, after seeing so many dwellings of the new settlers, which showed plainly that they had no thought beyond satisfying the grossest material wants. Sometimes they looked attractive, these little brown houses, the natural architecture of the country, in the edge of the timber. But almost always, when you came near the slovenliness of the dwelling, and the rude way in which objects around it were treated, when so little care would have presented a charming whole, were very repulsive. Seeing the traces of the Indians, who chose the most beautiful sites for their dwellings, and whose habits do not break in on that aspect of Nature under which they were born, we feel as if they were the [pg 35] rightful lords of a beauty they forbore to deform. But most of these settlers do not see it at all; it breathes, it speaks in vain to those who are rushing into its sphere. Their progress is Gothic, not Roman, and their mode of cultivation will, in the course of twenty, perhaps ten years, obliterate the natural expression of the country.

This is inevitable, fatal; we must not complain, but look forward to a good result. Still, in travelling through this country, I could not but be struck with the force of a symbol. Wherever the hog comes, the rattlesnake disappears; the omnivorous traveller, safe in its stupidity, willingly and easily makes a meal of the most dangerous of reptiles, and one which the Indian looks on with a mystic awe. Even so the white settler pursues the Indian, and is victor in the chase. But I shall say more upon the subject by and by.

While we were here, we had one grand thunder-storm, which added new glory to the scene.

One beautiful feature was the return of the pigeons every afternoon to their home. At this time they would come sweeping across the lawn, positively in clouds, and with a swiftness and softness of winged motion more beautiful than anything of the kind I ever knew. Had I been a musician, such as Mendelssohn, I felt that I could have improvised a music quite peculiar, from the sound they made, which should have indicated all the beauty over which their wings bore them. I will here insert a few lines left at this house on parting, which feebly indicate some of the features.

THE WESTERN EDEN

.

Familiar to the childish mind were tales

Of rock-girt isles amid a desert sea,

Where unexpected stretch the flowery vales

To soothe the shipwrecked sailor's misery.

Fainting, he lay upon a sandy shore,

And fancied that all hope of life was o'er;

But let him patient climb the frowning wall,

Within, the orange glows beneath the palm-tree tall,

And all that Eden boasted waits his call.

[pg 36]

Almost these tales seem realized to-day,

When the long dulness of the sultry way,

Where "independent" settlers' careless cheer

Made us indeed feel we were "strangers" here,

Is cheered by sudden sight of this fair spot,

On which "improvement" yet has made no blot,

But Nature all-astonished stands, to find

Her plan protected by the human mind.

Blest be the kindly genius of the scene;

The river, bending in unbroken grace,

The stately thickets, with their pathways green,

Fair, lonely trees, each in its fittest place;

Those thickets haunted by the deer and fawn;

Those cloudlike flights of birds across the lawn!

The gentlest breezes here delight to blow,

And sun and shower and star are emulous to deck the show.

Wondering, as Crusoe, we survey the land;

Happier than Crusoe we, a friendly band.

Blest be the hand that reared this friendly home,

The heart and mind of him to whom we owe

Hours of pure peace such as few mortals know;

May he find such, should he be led to roam,—

Be tended by such ministering sprites,—

Enjoy such gayly childish days, such hopeful nights!

And yet, amid the goods to mortals given,

To give those goods again is most like heaven.

Hazelwood, Rock River, June 30, 1843.

The only really rustic feature was of the many coops of poultry near the house, which I understood it to be one of the chief pleasures of the master to feed.

Leaving this place, we proceeded a day's journey along the beautiful stream, to a little town named Oregon. We called at a cabin, from whose door looked out one of those faces which, once seen, are never forgotten; young, yet touched with many traces of feeling, not only possible, but endured; spirited, too, like the gleam of a finely tempered blade. It was a face that suggested [pg 37] a history, and many histories, but whose scene would have been in courts and camps. At this moment their circles are dull for want of that life which, is waning unexcited in this solitary recess.

The master of the house proposed to show us a "short cut," by which we might, to especial advantage, pursue our journey. This proved to be almost perpendicular down a hill, studded with young trees and stumps. From these he proposed, with a hospitality of service worthy an Oriental, to free our wheels whenever they should get entangled, also to be himself the drag, to prevent our too rapid descent. Such generosity deserved trust; however, we women could not be persuaded to render it. We got out and admired, from afar, the process. Left by our guide and prop, we found ourselves in a wide field, where, by playful quips and turns, an endless "creek," seemed to divert itself with our attempts to cross it. Failing in this, the next best was to whirl down a steep bank, which feat our charioteer performed with an air not unlike that of Rhesus, had he but been as suitably furnished with chariot and steeds!

At last, after wasting some two or three hours on the "short cut," we got out by following an Indian trail,—Black Hawk's! How fair the scene through which it led! How could they let themselves be conquered, with such a country to fight for!

Afterwards, in the wide prairie, we saw a lively picture of nonchalance (to speak in the fashion of clear Ireland). There, in the wide sunny field, with neither tree nor umbrella above his head, sat a pedler, with his pack, waiting apparently for customers. He was not disappointed. We bought what hold, in regard to the human world, as unmarked, as mysterious, and as important an existence, as the infusoria to the natural, to wit, pins. This incident would have delighted those modern sages, who, in imitation of the sitting philosophers of ancient Ind, prefer silence to speech, waiting to going, and scornfully smile, in answer to the motions of earnest life,

"Of itself will nothing come,

That ye must still be seeking?"

However, it seemed to me to-day, as formerly on these sublime [pg 38] occasions, obvious that nothing would, come, unless something would go; now, if we had been as sublimely still as the pedler, his pins would have tarried in the pack, and his pockets sustained an aching void of pence.

Passing through one of the fine, park-like woods, almost clear from underbrush and carpeted with thick grasses and flowers, we met (for it was Sunday) a little congregation just returning from their service, which had been performed in a rude house in its midst. It had a sweet and peaceful air, as if such words and thoughts were very dear to them. The parents had with them, all their little children; but we saw no old people; that charm was wanting which exists in such scenes in older settlements, of seeing the silver bent in reverence beside the flaxen head.

At Oregon, the beauty of the scene was of even a more sumptuous character than at our former "stopping-place." Here swelled the river in its boldest course, interspersed by halcyon isles on which Nature had lavished all her prodigality in tree, vine, and flower, banked by noble bluffs, three Hundred feet high, their sharp ridges as exquisitely definite as the edge of a shell; their summits adorned with those same beautiful trees, and with buttresses of rich rock, crested with old hemlocks, which wore a touching and antique grace amid, the softer and more luxuriant vegetation. Lofty natural mounds rose amidst the rest, with the same lovely and sweeping outline, showing everywhere the plastic power of water,—water, mother of beauty,—which, by its sweet and eager flow, had left such lineaments as human genius never dreamt of.

Not far from the river was a high crag, called the Pine Rock, which looks out, as our guide observed, like a helmet above the brow of the country. It seems as if the water left here and there a vestige of forms and materials that preceded its course, just to set off its new and richer designs.

The aspect of this country was to me enchanting, beyond any I have ever seen, from its fulness of expression, its bold and impassioned sweetness. Here the flood of emotion has passed over and marked everywhere its course by a smile. The fragments of [pg 39] rock touch it with a wildness and liberality which give just the needed relief. I should never be tired here, though I have elsewhere seen country of more secret and alluring charms, better calculated to stimulate and suggest. Here the eye and heart are filled.

How happy the Indians must have been here! It is not long since they were driven away, and the ground, above and below, is full of their traces.

"The earth is full of men."

You have only to turn up the sod to find arrowheads and Indian pottery. On an island, belonging to our host, and nearly opposite his house, they loved to stay, and, no doubt, enjoyed its lavish beauty as much as the myriad wild pigeons that now haunt its flower-filled shades. Here are still the marks of their tomahawks, the troughs in which they prepared their corn, their caches.

A little way down the river is the site of an ancient Indian village, with its regularly arranged mounds. As usual, they had chosen with the finest taste. When we went there, it was one of those soft, shadowy afternoons when Nature seems ready to weep, not from grief, but from an overfull heart. Two prattling, lovely little girls, and an African boy, with glittering eye and ready grin, made our party gay; but all were still as we entered the little inlet and trod those flowery paths. They may blacken Indian life as they will, talk of its dirt, its brutality, I will ever believe that the men who chose that dwelling-place were able to feel emotions of noble happiness as they returned to it, and so were the women that received them. Neither were the children sad or dull, who lived so familiarly with the deer and the birds, and swam that clear wave in the shadow of the Seven Sisters. The whole scene suggested to me a Greek splendor, a Greek sweetness, and I can believe that an Indian brave, accustomed to ramble in such paths, and be bathed by such sunbeams, might be mistaken for Apollo, as Apollo was for him by West. Two of the boldest bluffs are called the Deer's Walk, (not because deer do not walk there,) and the Eagle's Nest. The latter I visited [pg 40] one glorious morning; it was that of the fourth of July, and certainly I think I had never felt so happy that I was born in America. Woe to all country folks that never saw this spot, never swept an enraptured gaze over the prospect that stretched beneath. I do believe Rome and Florence are suburbs compared to this capital of Nature's art.

The bluff was decked with great bunches of a scarlet variety of the milkweed, like cut coral, and all starred with a mysterious-looking dark flower, whose cup rose lonely on a tall stem. This had, for two or three days, disputed the ground with the lupine and phlox. My companions disliked, I liked it.

Here I thought of, or rather saw, what the Greek expresses under the form of Jove's darling, Ganymede, and the following stanzas took form.

GANYMEDE TO HIS EAGLE.

SUGGESTED BY A WORK OF THORWALDSEN'S.

Composed on the height called the Eagle's Nest, Oregon, Rock River, July 4th, 1843.

Upon the rocky mountain stood the boy,

A goblet of pure water in his hand;

His face and form spoke him one made for joy,

A willing servant to sweet love's command,

But a strange pain was written on his brow,

And thrilled throughout his silver accents now.

"My bird," he cries, "my destined brother friend,

O whither fleets to-day thy wayward flight?

Hast thou forgotten that I here attend,

From the full noon until this sad twilight?

A hundred times, at least, from the clear spring,

Since the fall noon o'er hill and valley glowed,

I've filled the vase which our Olympian king

Upon my care for thy sole use bestowed;

That, at the moment when thou shouldst descend,

A pure refreshment might thy thirst attend.

[pg 41]

"Hast thou forgotten earth, forgotten me,

Thy fellow-bondsman in a royal cause,

Who, from the sadness of infinity,

Only with thee can know that peaceful pause

In which we catch the flowing strain of love,

Which binds our dim fates to the throne of Jove?

"Before I saw thee, I was like the May,

Longing for summer that must mar its bloom,

Or like the morning star that calls the day,

Whose glories to its promise are the tomb;

And as the eager fountain rises higher

To throw itself more strongly back to earth,

Still, as more sweet and full rose my desire,

More fondly it reverted to its birth,

For what the rosebud seeks tells not the rose,

The meaning that the boy foretold the man cannot disclose.

"I was all Spring, for in my being dwelt

Eternal youth, where flowers are the fruit;

Full feeling was the thought of what was felt,

Its music was the meaning of the lute;

But heaven and earth such life will still deny,

For earth, divorced from heaven, still asks the question Why?

"Upon the highest mountains my young feet

Ached, that no pinions from their lightness grew,

My starlike eyes the stars would fondly greet,

Yet win no greeting from the circling blue;

Fair, self-subsistent each in its own sphere,

They had no care that there was none for me;

Alike to them that I was far or near,

Alike to them time and eternity.

"But from the violet of lower air

Sometimes an answer to my wishing came;

Those lightning-births my nature seemed to share,

They told the secrets of its fiery frame,

The sudden messengers of hate and love,

The thunderbolts that arm the hand of Jove,

And strike sometimes the sacred spire, and strike the sacred grove.

[pg 42]

"Come in a moment, in a moment gone,

They answered me, then left me still more lone;

They told me that the thought which ruled the world

As yet no sail upon its course had furled,

That the creation was but just begun,

New leaves still leaving from the primal one,

But spoke not of the goal to which my rapid wheels would run.

"Still, still my eyes, though tearfully, I strained

To the far future which my heart contained,

And no dull doubt my proper hope profaned.

"At last, O bliss! thy living form I spied,

Then a mere speck upon a distant sky;

Yet my keen glance discerned its noble pride,

And the full answer of that sun-filled eye;

I knew it was the wing that must upbear

My earthlier form into the realms of air.

"Thou knowest how we gained that beauteous height,

Where dwells the monarch, of the sons of light;

Thou knowest he declared us two to be

The chosen servants of his ministry,

Thou as his messenger, a sacred sign

Of conquest, or, with omen more benign,

To give its due weight to the righteous cause,

To express the verdict of Olympian laws.

"And I to wait upon the lonely spring,

Which slakes the thirst of bards to whom 't is given

The destined dues of hopes divine to sing,

And weave the needed chain to bind to heaven.

Only from such could be obtained a draught

For him who in his early home from Jove's own cup has quaffed

"To wait, to wait, but not to wait too long.

Till heavy grows the burden of a song;

O bird! too long hast thou been gone to-day,

My feet are weary of their frequent way,

The spell that opes the spring my tongue no more can say.

[pg 43]

"If soon thou com'st not, night will fall around,

My head with a sad slumber will be bound,

And the pure draught be spilt upon the ground.

"Remember that I am not yet divine,

Long years of service to the fatal Nine

Are yet to make a Delphian vigor mine.

"O, make them not too hard, thou bird of Jove!

Answer the stripling's hope, confirm his love,

Receive the service in which he delights,

And bear him often to the serene heights,

Where hands that were so prompt in serving thee

Shall be allowed the highest ministry,

And Rapture live with bright Fidelity."

The afternoon was spent in a very different manner. The family whose guests we were possessed a gay and graceful hospitality that gave zest to each moment. They possessed that rare politeness which, while fertile in pleasant expedients to vary the enjoyment of a friend, leaves him perfectly free the moment he wishes to be so. With such hosts, pleasure may be combined with repose. They lived on the bank opposite the town, and, as their house was full, we slept in the town, and passed three days with them, passing to and fro morning and evening in their boats. To one of these, called the Fairy, in which a sweet little daughter of the house moved about lighter than any Scotch Ellen ever sung, I should indite a poem, if I had not been guilty of rhyme on this very page. At morning this boating was very pleasant; at evening, I confess, I was generally too tired with the excitements of the day to think it so.

The house—a double log-cabin—was, to my eye, the model of a Western villa. Nature had laid out before it grounds which could not be improved. Within, female taste had veiled every rudeness, availed itself of every sylvan grace.

In this charming abode what laughter, what sweet thoughts, what pleasing fancies, did we not enjoy! May such never desert those who reared it, and made us so kindly welcome to all its pleasures!

Fragments of city life were dexterously crumbled into the dish [pg 44] prepared for general entertainment. Ice-creams followed the dinner, which was drawn by the gentlemen from the river, and music and fireworks wound up the evening of days spent on the Eagle's Nest. Now they had prepared a little fleet to pass over to the Fourth of July celebration, which some queer drumming and fifing, from, the opposite bank, had announced to be "on hand."

We found the free and independent citizens there collected beneath the trees, among whom many a round Irish visage dimpled at the usual puffs of "Ameriky."

The orator was a New-Englander, and the speech smacked loudly of Boston, but was received with much applause and followed by a plentiful dinner, provided by and for the Sovereign People, to which Hail Columbia served as grace.

Returning, the gay flotilla cheered the little flag which the children had raised from a log-cabin, prettier than any president ever saw, and drank the health of our country and all mankind, with a clear conscience.

Dance and song wound up the day. I know not when the mere local habitation has seemed to me to afford so fair a chance of happiness as this. To a person of unspoiled tastes, the beauty alone would afford stimulus enough. But with it would be naturally associated all kinds of wild sports, experiments, and the studies of natural history. In these regards, the poet, the sportsman, the naturalist, would alike rejoice in this wide range of untouched loveliness.

Then, with a very little money, a ducal estate may be purchased, and by a very little more, and moderate labor, a family be maintained upon it with raiment, food, and shelter. The luxurious and minute comforts of a city life are not yet to be had without effort disproportionate to their value. But, where there is so great a counterpoise, cannot these be given up once for all? If the houses are imperfectly built, they can afford immense fires and plenty of covering; if they are small, who cares,—with, such fields to roam in? in winter, it may be borne; in summer, is of no consequence. With plenty of fish, and game, and wheat, [pg 45] can they not dispense with a baker to bring "muffins hot" every morning to the door for their breakfast?

A man need not here take a small slice from the landscape, and fence it in from the obtrusions of an uncongenial neighbor, and there cut down his fancies to miniature improvements which a chicken could run over in ten minutes. He may have water and wood and land enough, to dread no incursions on his prospect from some chance Vandal that may enter his neighborhood. He need not painfully economize and manage how he may use it all; he can afford to leave some of it wild, and to carry out his own plans without obliterating those of Nature.

Here, whole families might live together, if they would. The sons might return from their pilgrimages to settle near the parent hearth; the daughters might find room near their mother. Those painful separations, which already desecrate and desolate the Atlantic coast, are not enforced here by the stern need of seeking bread; and where they are voluntary, it is no matter. To me, too, used to the feelings which haunt a society of struggling men, it was delightful to look upon a scene where Nature still wore her motherly smile, and seemed to promise room, not only for those favored or cursed with the qualities best adapting for the strifes of competition, but for the delicate, the thoughtful, even the indolent or eccentric. She did not say, Fight or starve; nor even, Work or cease to exist; but, merely showing that the apple was a finer fruit than the wild crab, gave both room to grow in the garden.

A pleasant society is formed of the families who live along the banks of this stream upon farms. They are from various parts of the world, and have much to communicate to one another. Many have cultivated minds and refined manners, all a varied experience, while they have in common the interests of a new country and a new life. They must traverse some space to get at one another, but the journey is through scenes that make it a separate pleasure. They must bear inconveniences to stay in one another's houses; but these, to the well-disposed, are only a source of amusement and adventure.

[pg 46]

The great drawback upon the lives of these settlers, at present, is the unfitness of the women for their new lot. It has generally been the choice of the men, and the women follow, as women will, doing their best for affection's sake, but too often in heartsickness and weariness. Beside, it frequently not being a choice or conviction of their own minds that it is best to be here, their part is the hardest, and they are least fitted for it. The men can find assistance in field labor, and recreation with the gun and fishing-rod. Their bodily strength is greater, and enables them to bear and enjoy both these forms of life.

The women can rarely find any aid in domestic labor. All its various and careful tasks must often be performed, sick, or well, by the mother and daughters, to whom a city education has imparted neither the strength nor skill now demanded.

The wives of the poorer settlers, having more hard work to do than before, very frequently become slatterns; but the ladies, accustomed to a refined neatness, feel that they cannot degrade themselves by its absence, and struggle under every disadvantage to keep up the necessary routine of small arrangements.

With all these disadvantages for work, their resources for pleasure are fewer. When they can leave the housework, they have not learnt to ride, to drive, to row, alone. Their culture has too generally been that given to women to make them "the ornaments of society." They can dance, but not draw; talk French, but know nothing of the language of flowers; neither in childhood were allowed to cultivate them, lest they should tan their complexions. Accustomed to the pavement of Broadway, they dare not tread the wild-wood paths for fear of rattlesnakes!

Seeing much of this joylessness, and inaptitude, both of body and mind, for a lot which would be full of blessings for those prepared for it, we could not but look with deep interest on the little girls, and hope they would grow up with the strength of body, dexterity, simple tastes, and resources that would fit them to enjoy and refine the Western farmer's life.

But they have a great deal to war with in the habits of thought acquired by their mothers from their own early life. [pg 47] Everywhere the fatal spirit of imitation, of reference to European standards, penetrates, and threatens to blight whatever of original growth might adorn the soil.

If the little girls grow up strong, resolute, able to exert their faculties, their mothers mourn over their want of fashionable delicacy. Are they gay, enterprising, ready to fly about in the various ways that teach them so much, these ladies lament that "they cannot go to school, where they might learn to be quiet." They lament the want of "education" for their daughters, as if the thousand needs which call out their young energies, and the language of nature around, yielded no education.

Their grand ambition for their children is to send them to school in some Eastern city, the measure most likely to make them useless and unhappy at home. I earnestly hope that, erelong, the existence of good schools near themselves, planned by persons of sufficient thought to meet the wants of the place and time, instead of copying New York or Boston, will correct this mania. Instruction the children want to enable them to profit by the great natural advantages of their position; but methods copied from the education of some English Lady Augusta are as ill suited to the daughter of an Illinois farmer, as satin shoes to climb the Indian mounds. An elegance she would diffuse around her, if her mind were opened to appreciate elegance; it might be of a kind new, original, enchanting, as different from that of the city belle as that of the prairie torch-flower from the shop-worn article that touches the cheek of that lady within her bonnet.

To a girl really skilled to make home beautiful and comfortable, with bodily strength to enjoy plenty of exercise, the woods, the streams, a few studies, music, and the sincere and familiar intercourse, far more easily to be met with here than elsewhere, would afford happiness enough. Her eyes would not grow dim, nor her cheeks sunken, in the absence of parties, morning visits, and milliners' shops.

As to music, I wish I could see in such places the guitar rather than the piano, and good vocal more than instrumental music.

[pg 48]

The piano many carry with them, because it is the fashionable instrument in the Eastern cities. Even there, it is so merely from the habit of imitating Europe, for not one in a thousand is willing to give the labor requisite to insure any valuable use of the instrument.

But out here, where the ladies have so much less leisure, it is still less desirable. Add to this, they never know how to tune their own instruments, and as persons seldom visit them who can do so, these pianos are constantly out of tune, and would spoil the ear of one who began by having any.

The guitar, or some portable instrument which requires less practice, and could be kept in tune by themselves, would be far more desirable for most of these ladies. It would give all they want as a household companion to fill up the gaps of life with a pleasant stimulus or solace, and be sufficient accompaniment to the voice in social meetings.

Singing in parts is the most delightful family amusement, and those who are constantly together can learn to sing in perfect accord. All the practice it needs, after some good elementary instruction, is such as meetings by summer twilight and evening firelight naturally suggest. And as music is a universal language, we cannot but think a fine Italian duet would be as much at home in the log cabin as one of Mrs. Gore's novels.

The 6th of July we left this beautiful place. It was one of those rich days of bright sunlight, varied by the purple shadows of large, sweeping clouds. Many a backward look we cast, and left the heart behind.

Our journey to-day was no less delightful than before, still all new, boundless, limitless. Kinmont says, that limits are sacred; that the Greeks were in the right to worship a god of limits. I say, that what is limitless is alone divine, that there was neither wall nor road in Eden, that those who walked, there lost and found their way just as we did, and that all the gain from the Fall was that we had a wagon to ride in. I do not think, either, that even the horses doubted whether this last was any advantage.

Everywhere the rattlesnake-weed grows in profusion. The [pg 49] antidote survives the bane. Soon the coarser plantain, the "white man's footstep," shall take its place.

We saw also the compass-plant, and the Western tea-plant. Of some of the brightest flowers an Indian girl afterwards told me the medicinal virtues. I doubt not those students of the soil knew a use to every fair emblem, on which we could only look to admire its hues and shape.

After noon we were ferried by a girl (unfortunately not of the most picturesque appearance) across the Kishwaukie, the most graceful of streams, and on whose bosom rested many full-blown water-lilies,—twice as large as any of ours. I was told that, en revanche, they were scentless, but I still regret that I could not get at one of them to try. Query, did the lilied fragrance which, in the miraculous times, accompanied visions of saints and angels, proceed from water or garden lilies?

Kishwaukie is, according to tradition, the scene of a famous battle, and its many grassy mounds contain the bones of the valiant. On these waved thickly the mysterious purple flower, of which I have spoken before. I think it springs from the blood of the Indians, as the hyacinth did from that of Apollo's darling.

The ladies of our host's family at Oregon, when they first went, there, after all the pains and plagues of building and settling, found their first pastime in opening one of these mounds, in which they found, I think, three of the departed, seated, in the Indian fashion.

One of these same ladies, as she was making bread one winter morning, saw from the window a deer directly before the house. She ran out, with her hands covered with dough, calling the others, and they caught him bodily before he had time to escape.

Here (at Kiskwaukie) we received a visit from a ragged and barefooted, but bright-eyed gentleman, who seemed to be the intellectual loafer, the walking Will's coffee-house, of the place. He told us many charming snake-stories; among others, of himself having seen seventeen young ones re-enter the mother snake, on the approach of a visitor.

This night we reached Belvidere, a flourishing town in Boon [pg 50] County, where was the tomb, now despoiled, of Big Thunder. In this later day we felt happy to find a really good hotel.

From this place, by two days of very leisurely and devious journeying, we reached Chicago, and thus ended a journey, which one at least of the party might have wished unending.

I have not been particularly anxious to give the geography of the scene, inasmuch as it seemed to me no route, nor series of stations, but a garden interspersed with cottages, groves, and flowery lawns, through which a stately river ran. I had no guide-book, kept no diary, do not know how many miles we travelled each day, nor how many in all. What I got from the journey was the poetic impression of the country at large; it is all I have aimed to communicate.

The narrative might have been made much more interesting, as life was at the time, by many piquant anecdotes and tales drawn from private life. But here courtesy restrains the pen, for I know those who received the stranger with such frank kindness would feel ill requited by its becoming the means of fixing many spy-glasses, even though the scrutiny might be one of admiring interest, upon their private homes.

For many of these anecdotes, too, I was indebted to a friend, whose property they more lawfully are. This friend was one of those rare beings who are equally at home in nature and with man. He knew a tale of all that ran and swam and flew, or only grew, possessing that extensive familiarity with things which shows equal sweetness of sympathy and playful penetration. Most refreshing to me was his unstudied lore, the unwritten poetry which common life presents to a strong and gentle mind. It was a great contrast to the subtilties of analysis, the philosophic strainings of which I had seen too much. But I will not attempt to transplant it. May it profit others as it did me in the region where it was born, where it belongs.

The evening of our return to Chicago, the sunset was of a splendor and calmness beyond any we saw at the West. The twilight that succeeded was equally beautiful; soft, pathetic, but just so calm. When afterwards I learned this was the evening [pg 51] of Allston's death, it seemed to me as if this glorious pageant was not without connection with that event; at least, it inspired similar emotions,—a heavenly gate closing a path adorned with shows well worthy Paradise.

FAREWELL TO ROCK RIVER VALLEY.

Farewell, ye soft and sumptuous solitudes!

Ye fairy distances, ye lordly woods,

Haunted, by paths like those that Poussin knew,

When after his all gazers' eyes he drew;

I go,—and if I never more may steep

An eager heart in your enchantments deep,

Yet ever to itself that heart may say,

Be not exacting; them hast lived one day,—

Hast looked on that which matches with thy mood,

Impassioned sweetness of full being's flood,

Where nothing checked the bold yet gentle wave,

Where naught repelled the lavish love that gave.

A tender blessing lingers o'er the scene,

Like some young mother's thought, fond, yet serene,

And through its life new-born our lives have been.

Once more farewell,—a sad, a sweet farewell;

And, if I never must behold you more,

In other worlds I will not cease to tell

The rosary I here have numbered o'er;

And bright-haired Hope will lend a gladdened ear,

And Love will free him from the grasp of Fear,

And Gorgon critics, while the tale they hear,

Shall dew their stony glances with a tear,

If I but catch one echo from your spell:—

And so farewell,—a grateful, sad farewell!

[pg 52]

 

CHAPTER IV.

A SHORT CHAPTER.—CHICAGO AGAIN.—MORRIS BIRKBECK.

Chicago had become interesting to me now, that I knew it as the portal to so fair a scene. I had become interested in the land, in the people, and looked sorrowfully on the lake on which I must soon embark, to leave behind what I had just begun to enjoy.

Now was the time to see the lake. The July moon was near its full, and night after night it rose in a cloudless sky above this majestic sea. The heat was excessive, so that there was no enjoyment of life, except in the night; but then the air was of that delicious temperature worthy of orange-groves. However, they were not wanted;—nothing was, as that full light fell on the faintly rippling waters, which then seemed, boundless.

The most picturesque objects to be seen from Chicago on the inland side were the lines of Hoosier wagons. These rude farmers, the large first product of the soil, travel leisurely along, sleeping in their wagons by night, eating only what they bring with them. In the town they observe the same plan, and trouble no luxurious hotel for board and lodging. Here they look like foreign peasantry, and contrast well with the many Germans, Dutch, and Irish. In the country it is very pretty to see them prepared to "camp out" at night, their horses taken out of harness, and they lounging under the trees, enjoying the evening meal.

On the lake-side it is fine to see the great boats come panting in from their rapid and marvellous journey. Especially at night the motion of their lights is very majestic.

[pg 53]

When the favorite boats, the Great Western and Illinois, are going out, the town is thronged with, people from the South and farther West, to go in them. These moonlight nights I would hear the French rippling and fluttering familiarly amid the rude ups and downs of the Hoosier dialect.

At the hotel table were daily to be seen new faces, and new stories to be learned. And any one who has a large acquaintance may be pretty sure of meeting some of them here in the course of a few days.

At Chicago I read again Philip Van Artevelde, and certain passages in it will always be in my mind associated with the deep sound of the lake, as heard in the night. I used to read a short time at night, and then open the blind to look out. The moon would be full upon the lake, and the calm breath, pure light, and the deep voice harmonized well with the thought of the Flemish hero. When will this country have such a man? It is what she needs; no thin Idealist, no coarse Realist, but a man whose eye reads the heavens, while his feet step firmly on the ground, and his hands are strong and dexterous for the use of human implements. A man religious, virtuous, and—sagacious; a man of universal sympathies, but self-possessed; a man who knows the region of emotion, though he is not its slave; a man to whom this world is no mere spectacle, or fleeting shadow, not a great, solemn game, to be played with, good heed, for its stakes are of eternal value, yet who, if his own play be true, heeds not what he loses by the falsehood of others;—a man who hives from the past, yet knows that its honey can but moderately avail him; whose comprehensive eye scans the present, neither infatuated by its golden lures, nor chilled by its many ventures; who possesses prescience, as the wise man must, but not so far as to be driven mad to-day by the gift which discerns to-morrow;—when there is such a man for America, the thought which urges her on will be expressed.


Now that I am about to leave Illinois, feelings of regret and admiration come over me, as in parting with a friend whom, we [pg 54] have not had the good sense to prize and study, while hours of association, never perhaps to return, were granted. I have fixed my attention almost exclusively on the picturesque beauty of this region; it was so new, so inspiring. But I ought to have been more interested in the housekeeping of this magnificent State, in the education she is giving her children, in their prospects.

Illinois is, at present, a by-word of reproach among the nations, for the careless, prodigal course by which, in early youth, she has endangered her honor. But you cannot look about you there, without seeing that there are resources abundant to retrieve, and soon to retrieve, far greater errors, if they are only directed with wisdom.

Would that the simple maxim, that honesty is the best policy, might be laid to heart; that a sense of the true aim of life might elevate the tone of politics and trade till public and private honor became identical; that the Western man, in that crowded and exciting life which, develops his faculties so fully for to-day, might not forget that better part which could not be taken from him; that the Western woman might take that interest and acquire that light for the education of the children, for which she alone has leisure!

This is indeed the great problem of the place and time. If the next generation be well prepared for their work, ambitious of good and skilful to achieve it, the children of the present settlers may be leaven enough for the mass constantly increasing by immigration. And how much is this needed, where those rude foreigners can so little understand the best interests of the land they seek for bread and shelter! It would be a happiness to aid in this good work, and interweave the white and golden threads into the fate of Illinois. It would be a work worthy the devotion of any mind.

In the little that I saw was a large proportion of intelligence, activity, and kind feeling; but, if there was much serious laying to heart of the true purposes of life, it did not appear in the tone of conversation.

[pg 55]

Having before me the Illinois Guide-Book, I find there mentioned, as a "visionary," one of the men I should think of as able to be a truly valuable settler in a new and great country,—Morris Birkbeck, of England. Since my return, I have read his journey to, and letters from, Illinois. I see nothing promised there that will not surely belong to the man who knows how to seek for it.

Mr. Birkbeck was an enlightened, philanthropist, the rather that he did not wish to sacrifice himself to his fellow-men, but to benefit them with all he had, and was, and wished. He thought all the creatures of a divine love ought to be happy and ought to be good, and that his own soul and his own life were not less precious than those of others; indeed, that to keep these healthy was his only means of a healthy influence.

But his aims were altogether generous. Freedom, the liberty of law, not license; not indolence, work for himself and children and all men, but under genial and poetic influences;—these were his aims. How different from those of the new settlers in general! And into his mind so long ago shone steadily the two thoughts, now so prevalent in thinking and aspiring minds, of "Resist not evil," and "Every man his own priest, and the heart the only true church."

He has lost credit for sagacity from accidental circumstances. It does not appear that his position was ill chosen, or his means disproportioned to his ends, had he been sustained by funds from England, as he had a right to expect. But through the profligacy of a near relative, commissioned to collect these dues, he was disappointed of them, and his paper protested and credit destroyed in our cities, before he became aware of his danger.

Still, though more slowly and with more difficulty, he might have succeeded in his designs. The English farmer might have made the English settlement a model for good methods and good aims to all that region, had not death prematurely cut short his plans.

I have wished to say these few words, because the veneration with which I have been inspired for his character by those who [pg 56] knew him well, makes me impatient of this careless blame being passed from mouth to mouth and book to book. Success is no test of a man's endeavor, and Illinois will yet, I hope, regard this man, who knew so well what ought to be, as one of her true patriarchs, the Abraham of a promised land.

He was one too much before his time to be soon valued; but the time is growing up to him, and will understand his mild philanthropy, and clear, large views.

I subjoin the account of his death, given me by a friend, as expressing, in fair picture, the character of the man.

"Mr. Birkbeck was returning from the seat of government, whither he had been on public business, and was accompanied by his son Bradford, a youth of sixteen or eighteen. It was necessary to cross a ford, which was rendered difficult by the swelling of the stream. Mr. B.'s horse was unwilling to plunge into the water, so his son offered to go first, and he followed. Bradford's horse had just gained footing on the opposite shore, when he looked back and perceived his father was dismounted, struggling in the water, and carried down by the current.

"Mr. Birkbeck could not swim; Bradford could; so he dismounted, and plunged into the stream to save his father. He got to him before he sunk, held him up above water, and told him to take hold of his collar, and he would swim ashore with him. Mr. B. did so, and Bradford exerted all his strength to stem the current and reach the shore at a point where they could land; but, encumbered by his own clothing and his father's weight, he made no progress; when Mr. B. perceived this, he, with his characteristic calmness and resolution, gave up his hold of his son, and, motioning to him to save himself, resigned himself to his fate. His son reached the shore, but was too much overwhelmed by his loss to leave it. He was found by some travellers, many hours after, seated on the margin of the stream, with his face in his hands, stupefied with grief.

"The body was found, and on the countenance was the sweetest smile; and Bradford said, 'Just so he smiled, upon me when he let go and pushed me away from him.'"

[pg 57]

Many men can choose the right and best on a great occasion, but not many can, with such ready and serene decision, lay aside even life, when that is right and best. This little narrative touched my imagination in very early youth, and often has come up, in lonely vision, that face, serenely smiling above the current which bore him away to another realm of being.

[pg 58]

 

CHAPTER V.

THOUGHTS AND SCENES IN WISCONSIN.—SOCIETY IN MILWAUKIE.—INDIAN ANECDOTE.—SEERESS OF PREVORST.—MILWAUKIE.

A territory, not yet a State;G still nearer the acorn than we were.

It was very pleasant coming up. These large and elegant boats are so well arranged that every excursion may be a party of pleasure. There are many fair shows to see on the lake and its shores, almost always new and agreeable persons on board, pretty children playing about, ladies singing (and if not very well, there is room, to keep out of the way). You may see a great deal here of Life, in the London sense, if you know a few people; or if you do not, and have the tact to look about you without seeming to stare.

We came to Milwaukie, where we were to pass a fortnight or more.

This place is most beautifully situated. A little river, with romantic banks, passes up through the town. The bank of the lake is here a bold bluff, eighty feet in height. From its summit is enjoyed a noble outlook on the lake. A little narrow path winds along the edge of the lake below. I liked this walk much,—above me this high wall of rich earth, garlanded on its crest with trees, the long ripples of the lake coming up to my feet. Here, standing in the shadow, I could appreciate better its magnificent [pg 59] changes of color, which are the chief beauties of the lake-waters; but these are indescribable.

It was fine to ascend into the lighthouse, above this bluff, and thence watch the thunder-clouds which so frequently rose over the lake, or the great boats coming in. Approaching the Milwaukie pier, they made a bend, and seemed to do obeisance in the heavy style of some dowager duchess entering a circle she wishes to treat with especial respect.

These boats come in and out every day, and still afford a cause for general excitement. The people swarm, down to greet them, to receive and send away their packages and letters. To me they seemed such mighty messengers, to give, by their noble motion, such an idea of the power and fulness of life, that they were worthy to carry despatches from king to king. It must be very pleasant for those who have an active share in carrying on the affairs of this great and growing world to see them approach, and pleasant to such as have dearly loved friends at the next station. To those who have neither business nor friends, it sometimes gives a desolating sense of insignificance.

The town promises to be, some time, a fine one, as it is so well situated; and they have good building material,—a yellow brick, very pleasing to the eye. It seems to grow before you, and has indeed but just emerged from the thickets of oak and wild-roses. A few steps will take you into the thickets, and certainly I never saw so many wild-roses, or of so beautiful a red. Of such a color were the first red ones the world ever saw, when, says the legend, Venus flying to the assistance of Adonis, the rose-bushes kept catching her to make her stay, and the drops of blood the thorns drew from her feet, as she tore herself a way, fell on the white roses, and turned them this beautiful red.

One day, walking along the river's bank in search of a waterfall to be seen from one ravine, we heard tones from a band of music, and saw a gay troop shooting at a mark, on the opposite bank. Between every shot the band played; the effect was very pretty.

On this walk we found two of the oldest and most gnarled hemlocks [pg 60] that ever afforded study for a painter. They were the only ones we saw; they seemed the veterans of a former race.

At Milwaukie, as at Chicago, are many pleasant people, drawn together from all parts of the world. A resident here would find great piquancy in the associations,—those he met having such dissimilar histories and topics. And several persons I saw, evidently transplanted from the most refined circles to be met in this country. There are lures enough in the West for people of all kinds;—the enthusiast and the cunning man; the naturalist, and the lover who needs to be rich for the sake of her he loves.

The torrent of immigration swells very strongly towards this place. During the fine weather, the poor refugees arrive daily, in their national dresses, all travel-soiled and worn. The night they pass in rude shantees, in a particular quarter of the town, then walk off into the country,—the mothers carrying their infants, the fathers leading the little children by the hand, seeking a home where their hands may maintain them.

One morning we set off in their track, and travelled a day's journey into this country,—fair, yet not, in that part which I saw, comparable, in my eyes, to the Rock River region. Rich fields, proper for grain, alternate with oak openings, as they are called; bold, various, and beautiful were the features of the scene, but I saw not those majestic sweeps, those boundless distances, those heavenly fields; it was not the same world.

Neither did we travel in the same delightful manner. We were now in a nice carriage, which must not go off the road, for fear of breakage, with a regular coachman, whose chief care was not to tire his horses, and who had no taste for entering fields in pursuit of wild-flowers, or tempting some strange wood-path, in search of whatever might befall. It was pleasant, but almost as tame as New England.

But charming indeed was the place where we stopped. It was in the vicinity of a chain of lakes, and on the bank of the loveliest little stream, called, the Bark River, which, flowed in rapid amber brightness, through fields, and dells, and stately knolls, of most poetic beauty.

[pg 61]

The little log-cabin where we slept, with its flower-garden in front, disturbed the scene no more than a stray lock on the fair cheek. The hospitality of that house I may well call princely; it was the boundless hospitality of the heart, which, if it has no Aladdin's lamp to create a palace for the guest, does him still higher service by the freedom of its bounty to the very last drop of its powers.

Sweet were the sunsets seen in the valley of this stream, though, here, and, I grieve to say, no less near the Rock River, the fiend, who has every liberty to tempt the happy in this world, appeared in the shape of mosquitos, and allowed us no bodily to enjoy our mental peace.

One day we ladies gave, under the guidance of our host, to visiting all the beauties of the adjacent lakes,—Nomabbin, Silver, and Pine Lakes. On the shore of Nomabbin had formerly been one of the finest Indian villages. Our host said, that once, as he was lying there beneath the bank, he saw a tall Indian standing at gaze on the knoll. He lay a long time, curious to see how long the figure would maintain its statue-like absorption. But at last his patience yielded, and, in moving, he made a slight noise. The Indian saw him, gave a wild, snorting sound of indignation and pain, and strode away.

What feelings must consume their hearts at such moments! I scarcely see how they can forbear to shoot the white man where he stands.

But the power of fate is with, the white man, and the Indian feels it. This same gentleman told of his travelling through the wilderness with an Indian guide. He had with him a bottle of spirit which he meant to give him in small quantities, but the Indian, once excited, wanted the whole at once. "I would not," said Mr. ——, "give it him, for I thought, if he got really drunk, there was an end to his services as a guide. But he persisted, and at last tried to take it from me. I was not armed; he was, and twice as strong as I. But I knew an Indian could not resist the look of a white man, and I fixed my eye steadily on his. He bore it for a moment, then his eye fell; he let go the bottle. [pg 62] I took his gun and threw it to a distance. After a few moments' pause, I told him to go and fetch it, and left it in his hands. From that moment he was quite obedient, even servile, all the rest of the way."

This gentleman, though in other respects of most kindly and liberal heart, showed the aversion that the white man soon learns to feel for the Indian on whom he encroaches,—the aversion of the injurer for him he has degraded. After telling the anecdote of his seeing the Indian gazing at the seat of his former home,

"A thing for human feelings the most trying,"

and which, one would think, would have awakened soft compassion—almost remorse—in the present owner of that fair hill, which contained for the exile the bones of his dead, the ashes of his hopes, he observed: "They cannot be prevented from straggling back here to their old haunts. I wish they could. They ought not to be permitted to drive away our game." OUR game,—just heavens!

The same gentleman showed, on a slight occasion, the true spirit of a sportsman, or perhaps I might say of Man, when engaged in any kind of chase. Showing us some antlers, he said: "This one belonged to a majestic creature. But this other was the beauty. I had been lying a long time at watch, when at last I heard them come crackling along. I lifted my head cautiously, as they burst through the trees. The first was a magnificent fellow; but then I saw coming one, the prettiest, the most graceful I ever beheld,—there was something so soft and beseeching in its look. I chose him at once, took aim, and shot him dead. You see the antlers are not very large; it was young, but the prettiest creature!"

In the course of this morning's drive, we visited the gentlemen on their fishing party. They hailed us gayly, and rowed ashore to show us what fine booty they had. No disappointment there, no dull work.

On the beautiful point of land from which we first saw them lived a contented woman, the only one I heard of out there. She was [pg 63] English, and said she had seen so much suffering in her own country, that the hardships of this seemed as nothing to her. But the others—even our sweet and gentle hostess—found their labors disproportioned to their strength, if not to their patience; and, while their husbands and brothers enjoyed the country in hunting or fishing, they found themselves confined to a comfortless and laborious in-door life. But it need not be so long.

This afternoon, driving about on the banks of these lakes, we found the scene all of one kind of loveliness; wide, graceful woods, and then these fine sheets of water, with, fine points of land jutting out boldly into them. It was lovely, but not striking or peculiar.

All woods suggest pictures. The European forest, with its long glades and green, sunny dells, naturally suggested the figures of armed knight on his proud steed, or maiden, decked in gold and pearl, pricking along them on a snow-white palfrey; the green dells, of weary Palmer sleeping there beside the spring with his head upon his wallet. Our minds, familiar with such, figures, people with them the New England woods, wherever the sunlight falls down a longer than usual cart-track, wherever a cleared spot has lain still enough for the trees to look friendly, with their exposed sides cultivated by the light, and the grass to look velvet warm, and be embroidered with flowers. These Western woods suggest a different kind of ballad. The Indian legends have often an air of the wildest solitude, as has the one Mr. Lowell has put into verse in his late volume. But I did not see those wild woods; only such as suggest to me little romances of love and sorrow, like this:—

GUNHILDA

A maiden sat beneath the tree,

Tear-bedewed her pale cheeks be,

And she sigheth heavily.

From forth the wood into the light

A hunter strides, with carol light,

And a glance so bold and bright.

[pg 64]

He careless stopped and eyed the maid;

"Why weepest thou?" he gently said;

"I love thee well; be not afraid."

He takes her hand, and leads her on;

She should have waited there alone,

For he was not her chosen one.

He leans her head upon his breast,

She knew 't was not her home of rest,

But ah! she had been sore distrest.

The sacred stars looked sadly down;

The parting moon appeared to frown,

To see thus dimmed the diamond crown.

Then from the thicket starts a deer,

The huntsman, seizing on his spear,

Cries, "Maiden, wait thou for me here."

She sees him vanish into night,

She starts from sleep in deep affright,

For it was not her own true knight.

Though but in dream Gunhilda failed.

Though but a fancied ill assailed,

Though she but fancied fault bewailed,—

Yet thought of day makes dream of night:

She is not worthy of the knight,

The inmost altar burns not bright.

If loneliness thou canst not bear,

Cannot the dragon's venom dare,

Of the pure meed thou shouldst despair.

Now sadder that lone maiden sighs,

Far bitterer tears profane her eyes,

Crushed, in the dust her heart's flower lies.

On the bank of Silver Lake we saw an Indian encampment. A shower threatened us, but we resolved to try if we could not visit [pg 65] it before it came on. We crossed a wide field on foot, and found the Indians amid the trees on a shelving bank; just as we reached them, the rain began to fall in torrents, with frequent thunderclaps, and we had to take refuge in their lodges. These were very small, being for temporary use, and we crowded the occupants much, among whom were several sick, on the damp ground, or with only a ragged mat between them and it. But they showed all the gentle courtesy which, marks their demeanor towards the stranger, who stands in any need; though it was obvious that the visit, which inconvenienced them, could only have been caused by the most impertinent curiosity, they made us as comfortable as their extreme poverty permitted. They seemed to think we would not like to touch them; a sick girl in the lodge where I was, persisted in moving so as to give me the dry place; a woman, with the sweet melancholy eye of the race, kept off the children and wet dogs from even the hem of my garment.

Without, their fires smouldered, and black kettles, hung over them on sticks, smoked, and seethed in the rain. An old, theatrical-looking Indian stood with arms folded, looking up to the heavens, from which the rain clashed and the thunder reverberated; his air was French-Roman; that is, more Romanesque than Roman. The Indian ponies, much excited, kept careering through the wood, around the encampment, and now and then, halting suddenly, would thrust in their intelligent, though amazed faces, as if to ask their masters when this awful pother would cease, and then, after a moment, rush and trample off again.

At last we got away, well wetted, but with a picturesque scene for memory. At a house where we stopped to get dry, they told us that this wandering band (of Pottawattamies), who had returned, on a visit, either from homesickness, or need of relief, were extremely destitute. The women had been there to see if they could barter for food their head-bands, with which they club their hair behind into a form not unlike a Grecian knot. They seemed, indeed, to have neither food, utensils, clothes, nor bedding; nothing but the ground, the sky, and their own strength. Little wonder if they drove off the game!

[pg 66]

Part of the same band I had seen in Milwaukee, on a begging dance. The effect of this was wild and grotesque. They wore much paint and feather head-dresses. "Indians without paint are poor coots," said a gentleman who had been a great deal with, and really liked, them; and I like the effect of the paint on them; it reminds of the gay fantasies of nature. With them in Milwaukie was a chief, the finest Indian figure I saw, more than six feet in height, erect, and of a sullen, but grand gait and gesture. He wore a deep-red blanket, which fell in large folds from his shoulders to his feet, did not join in the dance, but slowly strode about through the streets, a fine sight, not a French-Roman, but a real Roman. He looked unhappy, but listlessly unhappy, as if he felt it was of no use to strive or resist.

While in the neighborhood of these lakes, we visited also a foreign settlement of great interest. Here were minds, it seemed, to "comprehend the trust" of their new life; and, if they can only stand true to them, will derive and bestow great benefits therefrom.

But sad and sickening to the enthusiast who comes to these shores, hoping the tranquil enjoyment of intellectual blessings, and the pure happiness of mutual love, must be a part of the scene that he encounters at first. He has escaped from the heartlessness of courts, to encounter the vulgarity of the mob; he has secured solitude, but it is a lonely, a deserted solitude. Amid the abundance of nature, he cannot, from petty, but insuperable obstacles, procure, for a long time, comforts or a home.

But let him come sufficiently armed with patience to learn the new spells which the new dragons require, (and this can only be done on the spot,) he will not finally be disappointed of the promised treasure; the mob will resolve itself into men, yet crude, but of good dispositions, and capable of good character; the solitude will become sufficiently enlivened, and home grow up at last from the rich sod.

In this transition state we found one of these homes. As we approached, it seemed the very Eden which earth might still afford to a pair willing to give up the hackneyed pleasures of the [pg 67] world for a better and more intimate communion with one another and with beauty: the wild road led through wide, beautiful woods, to the wilder and more beautiful shores of the finest lake we saw. On its waters, glittering in the morning sun, a few Indians were paddling to and fro in their light canoes. On one of those fair knolls I have so often mentioned stood the cottage, beneath trees which stooped as if they yet felt brotherhood with its roof-tree. Flowers waved, birds fluttered round, all had the sweetness of a happy seclusion; all invited to cry to those who inhabited it, All hail, ye happy ones!

But on entrance to those evidently rich in personal beauty, talents, love, and courage, the aspect of things was rather sad. Sickness had been with them, death, care, and labor; these had not yet blighted them, but had turned their gay smiles grave. It seemed that hope and joy had given place to resolution. How much, too, was there in them, worthless in this place, which would have been so valuable elsewhere! Refined graces, cultivated powers, shine in vain before field-laborers, as laborers are in this present world; you might as well cultivate heliotropes to present to an ox. Oxen and heliotropes are both good, but not for one another.

With them were some of the old means of enjoyment, the books, the pencil, the guitar; but where the wash-tub and the axe are so constantly in requisition, there is not much time and pliancy of hand for these.

In the inner room, the master of the house was seated; he had been sitting there long, for he had injured his foot on ship-board, and his farming had to be done by proxy. His beautiful young wife was his only attendant and nurse, as well as a farm, housekeeper. How well she performed hard and unaccustomed duties, the objects of her care showed; everything that belonged to the house was rude, but neatly arranged. The invalid, confined to an uneasy wooden chair, (they had not been able to induce any one to bring them an easy-chair from the town,) looked as neat and elegant as if he had been dressed by the valet of a duke. He was of Northern blood, with clear, full blue eyes, calm features, a [pg 68] tempering of the soldier, scholar, and man of the world, in his aspect. Either various intercourses had given him that thoroughbred look never seen in Americans, or it was inherited from a race who had known all these disciplines. He formed a great but pleasing contrast to his wife, whose glowing complexion and dark yellow eye bespoke an origin in some climate more familiar with the sun. He looked as if he could sit there a great while patiently, and live on his own mind, biding his time; she, as if she could bear anything for affection's sake, but would feel the weight of each moment as it passed.

Seeing the album full of drawings and verses, which bespoke the circle of elegant and affectionate intercourse they had left behind, we could not but see that the young wife sometimes must need a sister, the husband a companion, and both must often miss that electricity which sparkles from the chain of congenial minds.

For mankind, a position is desirable in some degree proportioned to education. Mr. Birkbeck was bred a farmer, but these were nurslings of the court and city; they may persevere, for an affectionate courage shone in their eyes, and, if so, become true lords of the soil, and informing geniuses to those around; then, perhaps, they will feel that they have not paid too clear for the tormented independence of the new settler's life. But, generally, damask roses will not thrive in the wood, and a ruder growth, if healthy and pure, we wish rather to see there.

I feel about these foreigners very differently from what I do about Americans. American men and women are inexcusable if they do not bring up children so as to be fit for vicissitudes; the meaning of our star is, that here all men being free and equal, every man should be fitted for freedom and an independence by his own resources wherever the changeful wave of our mighty stream may take him. But the star of Europe brought a different horoscope, and to mix destinies breaks the thread of both. The Arabian horse will not plough well, nor can the plough-horse be rode to play the jereed. Yet a man is a man wherever he goes, and something precious cannot fail to be gained by one who knows how to abide by a resolution of any kind, and pay the cost without a murmur.

[pg 69]

Returning, the fine carriage at last fulfilled its threat of breaking down. We took refuge in a farm-house. Here was a pleasant scene,—a rich and beautiful estate, several happy families, who had removed together, and formed a natural community, ready to help and enliven one another. They were farmers at home, in Western New York, and both men and women knew how to work. Yet even here the women did not like the change, but they were willing, "as it might be best for the young folks." Their hospitality was great: the houseful of women and pretty children seemed all of one mind.

Returning to Milwaukie much fatigued, I entertained myself: for a day or two with reading. The book I had brought with me was in strong contrast with, the life around, me. Very strange was this vision of an exalted and sensitive existence, which seemed to invade the next sphere, in contrast with the spontaneous, instinctive life, so healthy and so near the ground I had been surveying. This was the German book entitled:—

"The Seeress of Prevorst.—Revelations concerning the Inward Life of Man, and the Projection of a World of Spirits into ours, communicated by Justinus Kerner."

This book, published in Germany some twelve years since, and which called forth there plenteous dews of admiration, as plenteous hail-storms of jeers and scorns, I never saw mentioned in any English publication till some year or two since. Then a playful, but not sarcastic account of it, in the Dublin Magazine, so far excited my curiosity, that I procured the book, intending to read it so soon as I should have some leisure days, such as this journey has afforded.

Dr. Kerner, its author, is a man of distinction in his native land, both as a physician and a thinker, though always on the side of reverence, marvel, and mysticism. He was known to me only through two or three little poems of his in Catholic legends, which I much admired for the fine sense they showed of the beauty of symbols.

He here gives a biography, mental and physical, of one of the most remarkable cases of high nervous excitement that the age, [pg 70] so interested in such, yet affords, with all its phenomena of clairvoyance and susceptibility of magnetic influences. As to my own mental positron on these subjects, it may be briefly expressed by a dialogue between several persons who honor me with a portion of friendly confidence and criticism, and myself, personified as Free Hope. The others may be styled Old Church, Good Sense, and Self-Poise.

DIALOGUE.

Good Sense. I wonder you can take any interest in such observations or experiments. Don't you see how almost impossible it is to make them with any exactness, how entirely impossible to know anything about them unless made by yourself, when the least leaven of credulity, excited fancy, to say nothing of willing or careless imposture, spoils the whole loaf? Beside, allowing the possibility of some clear glimpses into a higher state of being, what do we want of it now? All around us lies what we neither understand nor use. Our capacities, our instincts for this our present sphere, are but half developed. Let us confine ourselves to that till the lesson be learned; let us be completely natural, before we trouble ourselves with the supernatural. I never see any of these things but I long to get away and lie under a green tree, and let the wind blow on me. There is marvel and charm enough in that for me.

Free Hope. And for me also. Nothing is truer than the Wordsworthian creed, on which Carlyle lays such stress, that we need only look on the miracle of every day, to sate ourselves with thought and admiration every day. But how are our faculties sharpened to do it? Precisely by apprehending the infinite results of every day.

Who sees the meaning of the flower uprooted in the ploughed field? The ploughman who does not look beyond its boundaries and does not raise his eyes from the ground? No,—but the poet who sees that field in its relations with the universe, and looks oftener to the sky than on the ground. Only the dreamer shall [pg 71] understand realities, though, in truth, his dreaming must be not out of proportion to his waking!

The mind, roused powerfully by this existence, stretches of itself into what the French sage calls the "aromal state." From the hope thus gleaned it forms the hypothesis, under whose banner it collects its facts.

Long before these slight attempts were made to establish, as a science what is at present called animal magnetism, always, in fact, men were occupied more or less with this vital principle,—principle of flux and influx,—dynamic of our mental mechanics,—human phase of electricity. Poetic observation was pure, there was no quackery in its free course, as there is so often in this wilful tampering with the hidden springs of life, for it is tampering unless done in a patient spirit and with severe truth; yet it may be, by the rude or greedy miners, some good ore is unearthed. And some there are who work in the true temper, patient and accurate in trial, not rushing to conclusions, feeling there is a mystery, not eager to call it by name till they can know it as a reality: such may learn, such may teach.

Subject to the sudden revelations, the breaks in habitual existence, caused by the aspect of death, the touch of love, the flood of music, I never lived, that I remember, what you call a common natural day. All my days are touched by the supernatural, for I feel the pressure of hidden causes, and the presence, sometimes the communion, of unseen powers. It needs not that I should ask the clairvoyant whether "a spirit-world projects into ours." As to the specific evidence, I would not tarnish my mind by hasty reception. The mind is not, I know, a highway, but a temple, and its doors should not be carelessly left open. Yet it were sin, if indolence or coldness excluded what had a claim to enter; and I doubt whether, in the eyes of pure intelligence, an ill-grounded hasty rejection be not a greater sign of weakness than an ill-grounded and hasty faith.

I will quote, as my best plea, the saying of a man old in years, but not in heart, and whose long life has been distinguished by that clear adaptation of means to ends which gives the credit of [pg 72] practical wisdom. He wrote to his child, "I have lived too long, and seen too much, to be in credulous." Noble the thought, no less so its frank expression, instead of saws of caution, mean advices, and other modern instances. Such was the romance of Socrates when he bade his disciples "sacrifice a cock to Æsculapius."

Old Church. You are always so quick-witted and voluble, Free Hope, you don't get time to see how often you err, and even, perhaps, sin and blaspheme. The Author of all has intended to confine our knowledge within certain boundaries, has given us a short span of time for a certain probation, for which our faculties are adapted. By wild speculation and intemperate curiosity we violate His will, and incur dangerous, perhaps fatal, consequences. We waste our powers, and, becoming morbid and visionary, are unfitted to obey positive precepts, and perform positive duties.

Free Hope. I do not see how it is possible to go further beyond the results of a limited human experience than those do who pretend to settle the origin and nature of sin, the final destiny of souls, and the whole plan of the Causal Spirit with regard to them. I think those who take your view have not examined themselves, and do not know the ground on which they stand.

I acknowledge no limit, set up by man's opinion, as to the capacities of man. "Care is taken," I see it, "that the trees grow not up into heaven"; but, to me it seems, the more vigorously they aspire, the better. Only let it be a vigorous, not a partial or sickly aspiration. Let not the tree forget its root.

So long as the child insists on knowing where its dead parent is, so long as bright eyes weep at mysterious pressures, too heavy for the life, so long as that impulse is constantly arising which made the Roman emperor address his soul in a strain of such touching softness, vanishing from, the thought, as the column of smoke from the eye, I know of no inquiry which the impulse of man suggests that is forbidden to the resolution of man to pursue. In every inquiry, unless sustained by a pure and reverent spirit, he gropes in the dark, or falls headlong.

Self-Poise. All this may be very true, but what is the use of [pg 73] all this straining? Far-sought is dear-bought. When we know that all is in each, and that the ordinary contains the extraordinary, why should we play the baby, and insist upon having the moon for a toy when a tin dish will do as well? Our deep ignorance is a chasm that we can only fill up by degrees, but the commonest rubbish will help us as well as shred silk. The god Brahma, while on earth, was set to fill up a valley, but he had only a basket given him in which to fetch earth for this purpose; so is it with us all. No leaps, no starts, will avail us; by patient crystallization alone, the equal temper of wisdom is attainable. Sit at home, and the spirit-world will look in at your window with moonlit eyes; run out to find it, and rainbow and golden cup will have vanished, and left you the beggarly child you were. The better part of wisdom is a sublime prudence, a pure and patient truth, that will receive nothing it is not sure it can permanently lay to heart. Of our study, there should be in proportion two thirds of rejection to one of acceptance. And, amid the manifold infatuations and illusions of this world of emotion, a being capable of clear intelligence can do no better service than to hold himself upright, avoid nonsense, and do what chores lie in his way, acknowledging every moment that primal truth, which no fact exhibits, nor, if pressed by too warm a hope, will even indicate. I think, indeed, it is part of our lesson to give a formal consent to what is farcical, and to pick up our living and our virtue amid what is so ridiculous, hardly deigning a smile, and certainly not vexed. The work is done through all, if not by every one.

Free Hope. Thou art greatly wise, my friend, and ever respected by me, yet I find not in your theory or your scope room enough for the lyric inspirations or the mysterious whispers of life. To me it seems that it is madder never to abandon one's self, than often to be infatuated; better to be wounded, a captive, and a slave, than always to walk in armor. As to magnetism, that is only a matter of fancy. You sometimes need just such a field in which to wander vagrant, and if it bear a higher name, yet it may be that, in last result, the trance of Pythagoras might be classed with the more infantine transports of the Seeress of Prevorst.

[pg 74]

What is done interests me more than what is thought and supposed. Every fact is impure, but every fact contains in it the juices of life. Every fact is a clod, from which may grow an amaranth or a palm.

Climb you the snowy peaks whence come the streams, where the atmosphere is rare, where you can see the sky nearer, from which you can get a commanding view of the landscape? I see great disadvantages as well as advantages in this dignified position. I had rather walk myself through all kinds of places, even at the risk of being robbed in the forest, half drowned at the ford, and covered with dust in the street.

I would beat with the living heart of the world, and understand all the moods, even the fancies or fantasies, of nature. I dare to trust to the interpreting spirit to bring me out all right at last,—establish truth through error.

Whether this be the best way is of no consequence, if it be the one individual character points out.

For one, like me, it would be vain

From glittering heights the eyes to strain;

I the truth can only know,

Tested by life's most fiery glow.

Seeds of thought will never thrive,

Till dews of love shall bid them live.

Let me stand in my age with all its waters flowing round me. If they sometimes subdue, they must finally upbear me, for I seek the universal,—and that must be the best.

The Spirit, no doubt, leads in every movement of my time: if I seek the How, I shall find it, as well as if I busied myself more with the Why.

Whatever is, is right, if only men are steadily bent to make it so, by comprehending and fulfilling its design.

May not I have an office, too, in my hospitality and ready sympathy? If I sometimes entertain guests who cannot pay with gold coin, with "fair rose nobles," that is better than to lose the chance of entertaining angels unawares.

You, my three friends, are held, in heart-honor, by me. You, [pg 75] especially, Good Sense, because where you do not go yourself, you do not object to another's going, if he will. You are really liberal. You, Old Church, are of use, by keeping unforgot the effigies of old religion, and reviving the tone of pure Spenserian sentiment, which this time is apt to stifle in its childish haste. But you are very faulty in censuring and wishing to limit others by your own standard. You, Self-Poise, fill a priestly office. Could but a larger intelligence of the vocations of others, and a tender sympathy with their individual natures, be added, had you more of love, or more of apprehensive genius, (for either would give you the needed expansion and delicacy,) you would command my entire reverence. As it is, I must at times deny and oppose you, and so must others, for you tend, by your influence, to exclude us from our full, free life. We must be content when you censure, and rejoiced when you approve; always admonished to good by your whole being, and sometimes by your judgment.


Do not blame me that I have written so much suggested by the German seeress, while you were looking for news of the West. Here on the pier, I see disembarking the Germans, the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Swiss. Who knows how much of old legendary lore, of modern wonder, they have already planted amid the Wisconsin forests? Soon, their tales of the origin of things, and the Providence which rules them, will be so mingled with those of the Indian, that the very oak-tree will not know them apart,—will not know whether itself be a Runic, a Druid, or a Winnebago oak.

Some seeds of all growths that have ever been known in this world might, no doubt, already be found in these Western wilds, if we had the power to call them to life.

I saw, in the newspaper, that the American Tract Society boasted of their agent's having exchanged, at a Western cabin door, tracts for the "Devil on Two Sticks," and then burnt that more entertaining than edifying volume. No wonder, though, they study it there. Could one but have the gift of reading the [pg 76] dreams dreamed by men of such various birth, various history, various mind, it would afford much, more extensive amusement than did the chambers of one Spanish city!

Could I but have flown at night through such mental experiences, instead of being shut up in my little bedroom at the Milwaukie boarding-house, this chapter would have been worth reading. As it is, let us hasten to a close.

Had I been rich in money, I might have built a house, or set up in business, during my fortnight's stay at Milwaukie, matters move on there at so rapid a rate. But being only rich in curiosity, I was obliged to walk the streets and pick up what I could in casual intercourse. When I left the street, indeed, and walked on the bluffs, or sat beside the lake in their shadow, my mind was rich in dreams congenial to the scene, some time to be realized, though not by me.

A boat was left, keel up, half on the sand, half in the water, swaying with each swell of the lake. It gave a picturesque grace to that part of the shore, as the only image of inaction,—only object of a pensive character to be seen. Near this I sat, to dream my dreams and watch the colors of the lake, changing hourly, till the sun sank. These hours yielded impulses, wove webs, such as life will not again afford.

Returning to the boarding-house, which was also a boarding-school, we were sure to be greeted by gay laughter.

This school was conducted by two girls of nineteen and seventeen years; their pupils were nearly as old as themselves. The relation seemed very pleasant between them; the only superiority—that of superior knowledge—was sufficient to maintain authority,—all the authority that was needed to keep daily life in good order.

In the West, people are not respected merely because they are old in years; people there have not time to keep up appearances in that way; when persons cease to have a real advantage in wisdom, knowledge, or enterprise, they must stand back, and let those who are oldest in character "go ahead," however few years they may count. There are no banks of established respectability in [pg 77] which to bury the talent there; no napkin of precedent in which to wrap it. What cannot be made to pass current, is not esteemed coin of the realm.

To the windows of this house, where the daughter of a famous "Indian fighter," i.e. fighter against the Indians, was learning French, and the piano, came wild, tawny figures, offering for sale their baskets of berries. The boys now, instead of brandishing the tomahawk, tame their hands to pick raspberries.

Here the evenings were much lightened by the gay chat of one of the party, who with the excellent practical sense of mature experience, and the kindest heart, united a naïveté and innocence such as I never saw in any other who had walked so long life's tangled path. Like a child, she was everywhere at home, and, like a child, received and bestowed entertainment from all places, all persons. I thanked her for making me laugh, as did the sick and poor, whom she was sure to find out in her briefest sojourn in any place, for more substantial aid. Happy are those who never grieve, and so often aid and enliven their fellow-men!

This scene, however, I was not sorry to exchange for the much celebrated beauties of the island of Mackinaw.

Footnote G: (return)

Wisconsin was not admitted into the Union as a State till 1847, after this volume was written.—ED.

[pg 78]

 

CHAPTER VI.

MACKINAW.—INDIANS.—INDIAN WOMEN.—EVERETT'S RECEPTION OF CHIEFS.—UNFITNESS OF INDIAN MISSIONARIES.—OUR DUTIES TOWARD THIS RACE.

Late at night we reached this island of Mackinaw, so famous for its beauty, and to which I proposed a visit of some length. It was the last week in August, at which, time a large representation from the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes are here to receive their annual payments from the American government. As their habits make travelling easy and inexpensive to them, neither being obliged to wait for steamboats, or write to see whether hotels are full, they come hither by thousands, and those thousands in families, secure of accommodation on the beach, and food from the lake, to make a long holiday out of the occasion. There were near two thousand encamped on the island already, and more arriving every day.

As our boat came in, the captain had some rockets let off. This greatly excited the Indians, and their yells and wild cries resounded along the shore. Except for the momentary flash of the rockets, it was perfectly dark, and my sensations as I walked with a stranger to a strange hotel, through the midst of these shrieking savages, and heard the pants and snorts of the departing steamer, which carried, away all my companions, were somewhat of the dismal sort; though it was pleasant, too, in the way that everything strange is; everything that breaks in upon the routine that so easily incrusts us.

I had reason to expect a room to myself at the hotel, but found none, and was obliged to take up my rest in the common parlor [pg 79] and eating-room, a circumstance which insured my being an early riser.

With the first rosy streak, I was out among my Indian neighbors, whose lodges honeycombed the beautiful beach, that curved away in long, fair outline on either side the house. They were already on the alert, the children creeping out from beneath the blanket door of the lodge, the women pounding corn in their rude mortars, the young men playing on their pipes. I had been much amused, when the strain proper to the Winnebago courting flute was played to me on another instrument, at any one fancying it a melody; but now, when I heard the notes in their true tone and time, I thought it not unworthy comparison, in its graceful sequence, and the light flourish at the close, with the sweetest bird-song; and this, like the bird-song, is only practised to allure a mate. The Indian, become a citizen and a husband, no more thinks of playing the flute, than one of the "settled-down" members of our society would, of choosing the "purple light of love" as dye-stuff for a surtout.

Mackinaw has been fully described by able pens, and I can only add my tribute to the exceeding beauty of the spot and its position. It is charming to be on an island so small that you can sail round it in an afternoon, yet large enough to admit of long, secluded walks through its gentle groves. You can go round it in your boat; or, on foot, you can tread its narrow beach, resting, at times, beneath the lofty walls of stone, richly wooded, which rise from it in various architectural forms. In this stone, caves are continually forming, from the action of the atmosphere; one of these is quite deep, and a rocky fragment left at its mouth, wreathed with little creeping plants, looks, as you sit within, like a ruined pillar.

The arched rock surprised me, much as I had heard of it, from, the perfection of the arch. It is perfect, whether you look up through it from the lake, or down through it to the transparent waters. We both ascended and descended—no very easy matter—the steep and crumbling path, and rested at the summit, beneath the trees, and at the foot, upon the cool, mossy stones beside the [pg 80] lapsing wave. Nature has carefully decorated all this architecture with shrubs that take root within the crevices, and small creeping vines. These natural ruins may vie for beautiful effect with the remains of European grandeur, and have, beside, a charm as of a playful mood in Nature.

The sugar-loaf rock is a fragment in the same kind as the pine rock we saw in Illinois. It has the same air of a helmet, as seen from an eminence at the side, which you descend by a long and steep path. The rock itself may be ascended by the bold and agile: half-way up is a niche, to which those who are neither can climb by a ladder. A very handsome young officer and lady who were with us did so, and then, facing round, stood there side by side, looking in the niche, if not like saints or angels wrought by pious hands in stone, as romantically, if not as holily, worthy the gazer's eye.

The woods which adorn the central ridge of the island are very full in foliage, and, in August, showed the tender green and pliant leaf of June elsewhere. They are rich in beautiful mosses and the wild raspberry.

From Fort Holmes, the old fort, we had the most commanding view of the lake and straits, opposite shores, and fair islets. Mackinaw itself is best seen from the water. Its peculiar shape is supposed to have been the origin of its name, Michilimackinac, which means the Great Turtle. One person whom I saw wished to establish another etymology, which he fancied to be more refined; but, I doubt not, this is the true one, both because the shape might suggest such a name, and the existence of an island of such form in this commanding position would seem a significant fact to the Indians. For Henry gives the details of peculiar worship paid to the Great Turtle, and the oracles received from this extraordinary Apollo of the Indian Delphos.

It is crowned, most picturesquely, by the white fort, with its gay flag. From this, on one side, stretches the town. How pleasing a sight, after the raw, crude, staring assemblage of houses everywhere else to be met in this country, is an old French town, mellow in its coloring, and with the harmonious effect of a slow [pg 81] growth, which assimilates, naturally, with objects round it! The people in its streets, Indian, French, half-breeds, and others, walked with a leisure step, as of those who live a life of taste and inclination, rather than of the hard press of business, as in American towns elsewhere.

On the other side, along the fair, curving beach, below the white houses scattered on the declivity, clustered the Indian lodges, with their amber-brown matting, so soft and bright of hue, in the late afternoon sun. The first afternoon I was there, looking down from a near height, I felt that I never wished to see a more fascinating picture. It was an hour of the deepest serenity; bright blue and gold, with rich shadows. Every moment the sunlight fell more mellow. The Indians were grouped and scattered among the lodges; the women preparing food, in the kettle or frying-pan, over the many small fires; the children, half naked, wild as little goblins, were playing both in and out of the water. Here and there lounged a young girl, with a baby at her back, whose bright eyes glanced, as if born into a world of courage and of joy, instead of ignominious servitude and slow decay. Some girls were cutting wood, a little way from me, talking and laughing, in the low musical tone, so charming in the Indian women. Many bark canoes were upturned upon the beach, and, by that light, of almost the same amber as the lodges; others coming in, their square sails set, and with almost arrowy speed, though heavily laden with dusky forms, and all the apparatus of their household. Here and there a sail-boat glided by, with a different but scarce less pleasing motion.

It was a scene of ideal loveliness, and these wild forms adorned it, as looking so at home in it. All seemed happy, and they were happy that day, for they had no fire-water to madden them, as it was Sunday, and the shops were shut.

From my window, at the boarding-house, my eye was constantly attracted by these picturesque groups. I was never tired of seeing the canoes come in, and the new arrivals set up their temporary dwellings. The women ran to set up the tent-poles, and spread the mats on the ground. The men brought the [pg 82] chests, kettles, &c.; the mats were then laid on the outside, the cedar-boughs strewed on the ground, the blanket hung up for a door, and all was completed in less than twenty minutes. Then they began to prepare the night meal, and to learn of their neighbors the news of the day.

The habit of preparing food out of doors gave all the gypsy charm and variety to their conduct. Continually I wanted Sir Walter Scott to have been there. If such romantic sketches were suggested to him, by the sight of a few gypsies, not a group near one of these fires but would have furnished him material for a separate canvas. I was so taken up with the spirit of the scene, that I could not follow out the stories suggested by these weather-beaten, sullen, but eloquent figures.

They talked a great deal, and with much, variety of gesture, so that I often had a good guess at the meaning of their discourse. I saw that, whatever the Indian may be among the whites, he is anything but taciturn with his own people; and he often would declaim, or narrate at length. Indeed, it is obvious, if only from the fables taken from their stores by Mr. Schoolcraft, that these tribes possess great power that way.

I liked very much, to walk or sit among them. With, the women I held much communication by signs. They are almost invariably coarse and ugly, with the exception of their eyes, with a peculiarly awkward gait, and forms bent by burdens. This gait, so different from the steady and noble step of the men, marks the inferior position they occupy. I had heard much eloquent contradiction of this. Mrs. Schoolcraft had maintained to a friend, that they were in fact as nearly on a par with their husbands as the white woman with hers. "Although," said she, "on account of inevitable causes, the Indian woman is subjected to many hardships of a peculiar nature, yet her position, compared with that of the man, is higher and freer than that of the white woman. Why will people look only on one side? They either exalt the red man into a demigod, or degrade him into a beast. They say that he compels his wife to do all the drudgery, while he does nothing but hunt and amuse himself; forgetting that [pg 83] upon his activity and power of endurance as a hunter depends the support of his family; that this is labor of the most fatiguing kind, and that it is absolutely necessary that he should keep his frame unbent by burdens and unworn by toil, that he may be able to obtain the means of subsistence. I have witnessed scenes of conjugal and parental love in the Indian's wigwam, from, which I have often, often thought the educated white man, proud of his superior civilization, might learn a useful lesson. When he returns from hunting, worn out with, fatigue, having tasted nothing since dawn, his wife, if she is a good wife, will take off his moccasons and replace them with dry ones, and will prepare his game for their repast, while his children will climb upon him, and he will caress them, with all the tenderness of a woman; and in the evening the Indian wigwam is the scene of the purest domestic pleasures. The father will relate, for the amusement of the wife and for the instruction of the children, all the events of the day's hunt, while they will treasure up every word that falls, and thus learn the theory of the art whose practice is to be the occupation of their lives."

Mrs. Grant speaks thus of the position of woman amid the Mohawk Indians:—

"Lady Mary Montague says, that the court of Vienna was the paradise of old women, and that there is no other place in the world where a woman past fifty excites the least interest. Had her travels extended to the interior of North America, she would have seen another instance of this inversion of the common mode of thinking. Here a woman never was of consequence, till sire had a son old enough to fight the battles of his country. From, that date she held a superior rank in society; was allowed to live at ease, and even called to consultations on national affairs. In savage and warlike countries, the reign of beauty is very short, and its influence comparatively limited. The girls in childhood had a very pleasing appearance; but excepting their fine hair, eyes, and teeth, every external grace was soon banished by perpetual drudgery, carrying burdens too heavy to be borne, and other slavish employments, considered beneath the dignity of the [pg 84] men. These walked before, erect and graceful, decked with ornaments which set off to advantage the symmetry of their well-formed persons, while the poor women followed, meanly attired, bent under the weight of the children and the utensils, which they carried everywhere with, them, and disfigured and degraded by ceaseless toils. They were very early married, for a Mohawk had no other servant but his wife; and whenever he commenced hunter, it was requisite he should have some one to carry his load, cook his kettle, make his moccasons, and, above all, produce the young warriors who were to succeed him in the honors of the chase and of the tomahawk. Wherever man is a mere hunter, woman is a mere slave. It is domestic intercourse that softens man, and elevates woman; and of that there can be but little, where the employments and amusements are not in common. The ancient Caledonians honored the fair; but then it is to be observed, they were fair huntresses, and moved in the light of their beauty to the hill of roes; and the culinary toils were entirely left to the rougher sex. When the young warrior made his appearance, it softened the cares of his mother, who well knew that, when he grew up, every deficiency in tenderness to his wife would be made up in superabundant duty and affection to her. If it were possible to carry filial veneration to excess, it was done here; for all other charities were absorbed in it. I wonder this system of depressing the sex in their early years, to exalt them, when all their juvenile attractions are flown, and when mind alone can distinguish them, has not occurred to our modern reformers. The Mohawks took good care not to admit their women to share their prerogatives, till they approved themselves good wives and mothers."

The observations of women upon the position of woman are always more valuable than those of men; but, of these two, Mrs. Grant's seem much, nearer the truth than Mrs. Schoolcraft's, because, though her opportunities for observation did not bring her so close, she looked more at both sides to find the truth.

Carver, in his travels among the Winnebagoes, describes two queens, one nominally so, like Queen Victoria; the other invested with a genuine royalty, springing from her own conduct.

[pg 85]

In the great town of the Winnebagoes, he found a queen presiding over the tribe, instead of a sachem. He adds, that, in some tribes, the descent is given to the female line in preference to the male, that is, a sister's son will succeed to the authority, rather than a brother's son. The position of this Winnebago queen reminded me forcibly of Queen Victoria's.

"She sat in the council, but only asked a few questions, or gave some trifling directions in matters relative to the state, for women are never allowed to sit in their councils, except they happen to be invested with the supreme authority, and then it is not customary for them to make any formal speeches, as the chiefs do. She was a very ancient woman, small in stature, and not much distinguished by her dress from several young women that attended her. These, her attendants, seemed greatly pleased whenever I showed any tokens of respect to their queen, especially when I saluted her, which I frequently did to acquire her favor."

The other was a woman, who, being taken captive, found means to kill her captor, and make her escape; and the tribe were so struck with admiration at the courage and calmness she displayed on the occasion, as to make her chieftainess in her own light.

Notwithstanding the homage paid to women, and the consequence allowed them in some cases, it is impossible to look upon the Indian women without feeling that they do occupy a lower place than women among the nations of European civilization. The habits of drudgery expressed in their form and gesture, the soft and wild but melancholy expression of their eye, reminded me of the tribe mentioned by Mackenzie, where the women destroy their female children, whenever they have a good opportunity; and of the eloquent reproaches addressed by the Paraguay woman to her mother, that she had not, in the same way, saved her from the anguish and weariness of her lot.

More weariness than anguish, no doubt, falls to the lot of most of these women. They inherit submission, and the minds of the generality accommodate themselves more or less to any posture. [pg 86] Perhaps they suffer less than their white sisters, who have more aspiration and refinement, with little power of self-sustenance. But their place is certainly lower, and their share of the human inheritance less.

Their decorum and delicacy are striking, and show that, when these are native to the mind, no habits of life make any difference. Their whole gesture is timid, yet self-possessed. They used to crowd round me, to inspect little things I had to show them, but never press near; on the contrary, would reprove and keep off the children. Anything they took from my hand was held with care, then shut or folded, and returned with an air of lady-like precision. They would not stare, however curious they might be, but cast sidelong glances.

A locket that I wore was an object of untiring interest; they seemed to regard it as a talisman. My little sun-shade was still more fascinating to them; apparently they had never before seen one. For an umbrella they entertained profound regard, probably looking upon it as the most luxurious superfluity a person can possess, and therefore a badge of great wealth. I used to see an old squaw, whose sullied skin and coarse, tanned locks told that she had braved sun and storm, without a doubt or care, for sixty years at least, sitting gravely at the door of her lodge, with an old green umbrella over her head, happy for hours together in the dignified shade. For her happiness pomp came not, as it so often does, too late; she received it with grateful enjoyment.

One day, as I was seated on one of the canoes, a woman came and sat beside me, with her baby in its cradle set up at her feet. She asked me by a gesture to let her take my sun-shade, and then to show her how to open it. Then she put it into her baby's hand, and held it over its head, looking at me the while with a sweet, mischievous laugh, as much, as to say, "You carry a thing that is only fit for a baby." Her pantomime was very pretty. She, like the other women, had a glance, and shy, sweet expression in the eye; the men have a steady gaze.

That noblest and loveliest of modern Preux, Lord Edward [pg 87] Fitzgerald, who came through Buffalo to Detroit and Mackinaw, with Brant, and was adopted into the Bear tribe by the name of Eghnidal, was struck in the same way by the delicacy of manners in women. He says: "Notwithstanding the life they lead, which would make most women rough and masculine, they are as soft, meek, and modest as the best brought up girls in England. Somewhat coquettish too! Imagine the manners of Mimi in a poor squaw, that has been carrying packs in the woods all her life."

McKenney mentions that the young wife, during the short bloom of her beauty, is an object of homage and tenderness to her husband. One Indian woman, the Flying Pigeon, a beautiful and excellent person, of whom he gives some particulars, is an instance of the power uncommon characters will always exert of breaking down the barriers custom has erected round them. She captivated by her charms, and inspired her husband and son with, reverence for her character. The simple praise with which the husband indicates the religion, the judgment, and the generosity he saw in her, are as satisfying as Count Zinzendorf's more labored eulogium on his "noble consort." The conduct of her son, when, many years after her death, he saw her picture at Washington, is unspeakably affecting. Catlin gives anecdotes of the grief of a chief for the loss of a daughter, and the princely gifts he offers in exchange for her portrait, worthy not merely of European, but of Troubadour sentiment. It is also evident that, as Mrs. Schoolcraft says, the women have great power at home. It can never be otherwise, men being dependent upon them for the comfort of their lives. Just so among ourselves, wives who are neither esteemed nor loved by their husbands have great power over their conduct by the friction of every day, and over the formation of their opinions by the daily opportunities so close a relation affords of perverting testimony and instilling doubts. But these sentiments should not come in brief flashes, but burn as a steady flame; then there would be more women worthy to inspire them. This power is good for nothing, unless the woman be wise to use it aright. Has the Indian, has the white woman, [pg 88] as noble a feeling of life and its uses, as religious a self-respect, as worthy a field of thought and action, as man? If not, the white woman, the Indian woman, occupies a position inferior to that of man. It is not so much a question of power, as of privilege.

The men of these subjugated tribes, now accustomed to drunkenness and every way degraded, bear but a faint impress of the lost grandeur of the race. They are no longer strong, tall, or finely proportioned. Yet, as you see them stealing along a height, or striding boldly forward, they remind you of what was majestic in the red man.

On the shores of Lake Superior, it is said, if you visit them at home, you may still see a remnant of the noble blood. The Pillagers (Pilleurs), a band celebrated by the old travellers, are still existent there.

"Still some, 'the eagles of their tribe,' may rush."

I have spoken of the hatred felt by the white man for the Indian: with white women it seems to amount to disgust, to loathing. How I could endure the dirt, the peculiar smell, of the Indians, and their dwellings, was a great marvel in the eyes of my lady acquaintance; indeed, I wonder why they did not quite give me up, as they certainly looked on me with great distaste for it. "Get you gone, you Indian dog," was the felt, if not the breathed, expression towards the hapless owners of the soil;—all their claims, all their sorrows quite forgot, in abhorrence of their dirt, their tawny skins, and the vices the whites have taught them.

A person who had seen them during great part of a life expressed his prejudices to me with such violence, that I was no longer surprised that the Indian children threw sticks at him, as he passed. A lady said: "Do what you will for them, they will be ungrateful. The savage cannot be washed out of them. Bring up an Indian child, and see if you can attach it to you." The next moment, she expressed, in the presence of one of those children whom she was bringing up, loathing at the odor left by one of her people, and one of the most respected, as he passed through the room. When the child is grown, she will be [pg 89] considered basely ungrateful not to love the lady, as she certainly will not; and this will be cited as an instance of the impossibility of attaching the Indian.

Whether the Indian could, by any efforts of love and intelligence from, the white man, have been civilized and made a valuable ingredient in the new state, I will not say; but this we are sure of,—the French Catholics, at least, did not harm them, nor disturb their minds merely to corrupt them. The French, they loved. But the stern Presbyterian, with his dogmas and his task-work, the city circle and the college, with their niggard concessions and unfeeling stare, have never tried the experiment. It has not been tried. Our people and our government have sinned alike against the first-born of the soil, and if they are the fated agents of a new era, they have done nothing,—have invoked no god to keep them sinless while they do the hest of fate.

Worst of all is it, when they invoke the holy power only to mask their iniquity; when the felon trader, who, all the week, has been besotting and degrading the Indian with rum mixed with red pepper, and damaged tobacco, kneels with him on Sunday before a common altar, to tell the rosary which recalls the thought of Him crucified for love of suffering men, and to listen to sermons in praise of "purity"!!

"My savage friends," cries the old, fat priest, "you must, above all things, aim at purity."

Oh! my heart swelled when I saw them in a Christian church. Better their own dog-feasts and bloody rites than such mockery of that other faith.

"The dog," said an Indian, "was once a spirit; he has fallen for his sin, and was given by the Great Spirit, in this shape, to man, as his most intelligent companion. Therefore we sacrifice it in highest honor to our friends in this world,—to our protecting geniuses in another."

There was religion in that thought. The white man sacrifices his own brother, and to Mammon, yet he turns in loathing from, the dog-feast.

"You say," said the Indian of the South to the missionary, [pg 90] "that Christianity is pleasing to God. How can that be?—Those men at Savannah are Christians."

Yes! slave-drivers and Indian traders are called Christians, and the Indian is to be deemed less like the Son of Mary than they! Wonderful is the deceit of man's heart!

I have not, on seeing something of them in their own haunts, found reason to change the sentiments expressed in the following lines, when a deputation of the Sacs and Foxes visited Boston in 1837, and were, by one person at least, received in a dignified and courteous manner.

GOVERNOR EVERETT RECEIVING THE INDIAN CHIEFS,

NOVEMBER, 1837.

Who says that Poesy is on the wane,

And that the Muses tune their lyres in vain?

'Mid all the treasures of romantic story,

When thought was fresh and fancy in her glory,

Has ever Art found out a richer theme,

More dark a shadow, or more soft a gleam,

Than fall upon the scene, sketched carelessly,

In the newspaper column of to-day?

American romance is somewhat stale.

Talk of the hatchet, and the faces pale,

Wampum and calumets and forests dreary,

Once so attractive, now begins to weary.

Uncas and Magawisca please us still,

Unreal, yet idealized with skill;

But every poetaster, scribbling witling,

From the majestic oak his stylus whittling,

Has helped to tire us, and to make us fear

The monotone in which so much we hear

Of "stoics of the wood," and "men without a tear."

Yet Nature, ever buoyant, ever young,

If let alone, will sing as erst she sung;

The course of circumstance gives back again

The Picturesque, erewhile pursued in vain;

[pg 91]

Shows us the fount of Romance is not wasted,—

The lights and shades of contrast not exhausted.

Shorn of his strength, the Samson now must sue

For fragments from the feast his fathers gave;

The Indian dare not claim what is his due,

But as a boon his heritage must crave;

His stately form shall soon be seen no more

Through all his father's land, the Atlantic shore;

Beneath the sun, to us so kind, they melt,

More heavily each day our rule is felt.

The tale is old,—we do as mortals must:

Might makes right here, but God and Time are just.

Though, near the drama hastens to its close,

On this last scene awhile your eyes repose;

The polished Greek and Scythian meet again,

The ancient life is lived by modern men;

The savage through our busy cities walks,

He in his untouched, grandeur silent stalks.

Unmoved by all our gayeties and shows,

Wonder nor shame can touch him as he goes;

He gazes on the marvels we have wrought,

But knows the models from whence all was brought;

In God's first temples he has stood so oft,

And listened to the natural organ-loft,

Has watched the eagle's flight, the muttering thunder heard.

Art cannot move him to a wondering word.

Perhaps he sees that all this luxury

Brings less food to the mind than to the eye;

Perhaps a simple sentiment has brought

More to him than your arts had ever taught.

What are the petty triumphs Art has given,

To eyes familiar with the naked heaven?

All has been seen,—dock, railroad, and canal,

Fort, market, bridge, college, and arsenal,

Asylum, hospital, and cotton-mill,

The theatre, the lighthouse, and the jail.

The Braves each novelty, reflecting, saw,

And now and then growled out the earnest "Yaw."

[pg 92]

And now the time is come, 't is understood,

When, having seen and thought so much, a talk may do some good.

A well-dressed mob have thronged the sight to greet,

And motley figures throng the spacious street;

Majestical and calm through all they stride,

Wearing the blanket with a monarch's pride;

The gazers stare and shrug, but can't deny

Their noble forms and blameless symmetry.

If the Great Spirit their morale has slighted,

And wigwam smoke their mental culture blighted,

Yet the physique, at least, perfection reaches,

In wilds where neither Combe nor Spurzheim teaches;

Where whispering trees invite man to the chase,

And bounding deer allure him to the race.

Would thou hadst seen it! That dark, stately band,

Whose ancestors enjoyed all this fair land,

Whence they, by force or fraud, were made to flee,

Are brought, the white man's victory to see.

Can kind emotions in their proud hearts glow,

As through these realms, now decked by Art, they go?

The church, the school, the railroad, and the mart,—

Can these a pleasure to their minds impart?

All once was theirs,—earth, ocean, forest, sky,—

How can they joy in what now meets the eye?

Not yet Religion has unlocked the soul,

Nor Each has learned to glory in the Whole!

Must they not think, so strange and sad their lot,

That they by the Great Spirit are forgot?

From the far border to which they are driven,

They might look up in trust to the clear heaven;

But here,—what tales doth every object tell

Where Massasoit sleeps, where Philip fell!

We take our turn, and the Philosopher

Sees through the clouds a hand which cannot err

An unimproving race, with all their graces

And all their vices, must resign their places;

And Human Culture rolls its onward flood

Over the broad plains steeped in Indian blood

[pg 93]

Such thoughts steady our faith; yet there will rise

Some natural tears into the calmest eyes,—

Which gaze where forest princes haughty go,

Made for a gaping crowd a raree-show.

But this a scene seems where, in courtesy,

The pale face with the forest prince could vie,

For one presided, who, for tact and grace,

In any age had held an honored place,—

In Beauty's own dear day had shone a polished Phidian vase!

Oft have I listened to his accents bland,

And owned the magic of his silvery voice,

In all the graces which life's arts demand,

Delighted by the justness of his choice.

Not his the stream of lavish, fervid thought,—

The rhetoric by passion's magic wrought;

Not his the massive style, the lion port,

Which with the granite class of mind assort;

But, in a range of excellence his own,

With all the charms to soft persuasion known,

Amid our busy people we admire him,—"elegant and lone."

He scarce needs words: so exquisite the skill

Which modulates the tones to do his will,

That the mere sound enough would charm the ear,

And lap in its Elysium all who hear.

The intellectual paleness of his cheek,

The heavy eyelids and slow, tranquil smile,

The well-cut lips from which the graces speak,

Pit him alike to win or to beguile;

Then those words so well chosen, fit, though few,

Their linked sweetness as our thoughts pursue,

We deem them spoken pearls, or radiant diamond dew.

And never yet did I admire the power

Which makes so lustrous every threadbare theme,—

Which won for La Fayette one other hour,

And e'en on July Fourth could cast a gleam,—

As now, when I behold him play the host,

With all the dignity which red men boast,—

[pg 94]

With all the courtesy the whites have lost;

Assume the very hue of savage mind,

Yet in rude accents show the thought refined;

Assume the naïveté of infant age,

And in such prattle seem still more a sage;

The golden mean with tact unerring seized,

A courtly critic shone, a simple savage pleased.

The stoic of the woods his skill confessed,

As all the father answered in his breast;

To the sure mark the silver arrow sped,

The "man without a tear" a tear has shed;

And them hadst wept, hadst thou been there, to see

How true one sentiment must ever be,

In court or camp, the city or the wild,—

To rouse the father's heart, you need but name his child.

The speech of Governor Everett on that occasion was admirable; as I think, the happiest attempt ever made to meet the Indian in his own way, and catch the tone of his mind. It was said, in the newspapers, that Keokuck did actually shed tears when addressed as a father. If he did not with his eyes, he well might in his heart.

Not often have they been addressed with such intelligence and tact. The few who have not approached them with sordid rapacity, but from love to them, as men having souls to be redeemed, have most frequently been persons intellectually too narrow, too straitly bound in sects or opinions, to throw themselves into the character or position of the Indians, or impart to them anything they can make available. The Christ shown them by these missionaries is to them but a new and more powerful Manito; the signs of the new religion, but the fetiches that have aided the conquerors.

Here I will copy some remarks made by a discerning observer, on the methods used by the missionaries, and their natural results.

"Mr. —— and myself had a very interesting conversation, upon the subject of the Indians, their character, capabilities, &c. After ten years' experience among them, he was forced to acknowledge [pg 95] that the results of the missionary efforts had produced nothing calculated to encourage. He thought that there was an intrinsic disability in them to rise above, or go beyond, the sphere in which they had so long moved. He said, that even those Indians who had been converted, and who had adopted the habits of civilization, were very little improved in their real character; they were as selfish, as deceitful, and as indolent, as those who were still heathens. They had repaid the kindnesses of the missionaries with the basest ingratitude, killing their cattle and swine, and robbing them of their harvests, which, they wantonly destroyed. He had abandoned the idea of effecting any general good to the Indians. He had conscientious scruples as to promoting an enterprise so hopeless as that of missions among the Indians, by sending accounts to the East that might induce philanthropic individuals to contribute to their support. In fact, the whole experience of his intercourse with them seemed to have convinced him of the irremediable degradation of the race. Their fortitude under suffering he considered the result of physical and mental insensibility; their courage, a mere animal excitement, which they found it necessary to inflame, before daring to meet a foe. They have no constancy of purpose; and are, in fact, but little superior to the brutes in point of moral development. It is not astonishing, that one looking upon the Indian character from Mr. ——'s point of view should entertain such sentiments. The object of his intercourse with them was, to make them apprehend the mysteries of a theology, which, to the most enlightened, is an abstruse, metaphysical study; and it is not singular they should prefer their pagan superstitions, which address themselves more directly to the senses. Failing in the attempt to Christianize before civilizing them, he inferred that in the intrinsic degradation of their faculties the obstacle was to be found."

Thus the missionary vainly attempts, by once or twice holding up the cross, to turn deer and tigers into lambs; vainly attempts to convince the red man that a heavenly mandate takes from him his broad lands. He bows his head, but does not at heart acquiesce. He cannot. It is not true; and if it were, the descent [pg 96] of blood through the same channels, for centuries, has formed habits of thought not so easily to be disturbed.

Amalgamation would afford the only true and profound means of civilization. But nature seems, like all else, to declare that this race is fated to perish. Those of mixed blood fade early, and are not generally a fine race. They lose what is best in either type, rather than enhance the value of each, by mingling. There are exceptions,—one or two such I know of,—but this, it is said, is the general rule.

A traveller observes, that the white settlers who live in the woods soon become sallow, lanky, and dejected; the atmosphere of the trees does not agree with Caucasian lungs; and it is, perhaps, in part an instinct of this which causes the hatred of the new settlers towards trees. The Indian breathed the atmosphere of the forests freely; he loved their shade. As they are effaced from the land, he fleets too; a part of the same manifestation, which cannot linger behind its proper era.

The Chippewas have lately petitioned the State of Michigan, that they may be admitted as citizens; but this would be vain, unless they could be admitted, as brothers, to the heart of the white man. And while the latter feels that conviction of superiority which enabled our Wisconsin friend to throw away the gun, and send the Indian to fetch it, he needs to be very good, and very wise, not to abuse his position. But the white man, as yet, is a half-tamed pirate, and avails himself as much as ever of the maxim, "Might makes right." All that civilization does for the generality is to cover up this with a veil of subtle evasions and chicane, and here and there to rouse the individual mind to appeal to Heaven against it.

I have no hope of liberalizing the missionary, of humanizing the sharks of trade, of infusing the conscientious drop into the flinty bosom of policy, of saving the Indian from immediate degradation and speedy death. The whole sermon may be preached from the text, "Needs be that offences must come, yet woe onto them by whom they come." Yet, ere they depart, I wish there might be some masterly attempt to reproduce, in art or literature, [pg 97] what is proper to them,—a kind of beauty and grandeur which few of the every-day crowd have hearts to feel, yet which ought to leave in the world its monuments, to inspire the thought of genius through all ages. Nothing in this kind has been done masterly; since it was Clevengers's ambition, 't is pity he had not opportunity to try fully his powers. We hope some other mind may be bent upon it, ere too late. At present the only lively impress of their passage through the world is to be found in such books as Catlin's, and some stories told by the old travellers.

Let me here give another brief tale of the power exerted by the white man over the savage in a trying case; but in this case it was righteous, was moral power.

"We were looking over McKenney's Tour to the Lakes, and, on observing the picture of Key-way-no-wut, or the Going Cloud, Mr. B. observed, 'Ah, that is the fellow I came near having a fight with'; and he detailed at length the circumstances. This Indian was a very desperate character, and of whom, all the Leech Lake band stood in fear. He would shoot down any Indian who offended him, without the least hesitation, and had become quite the bully of that part of the tribe. The trader at Leech Lake warned Mr. B. to beware of him, and said that he once, when he (the trader) refused to give up to him his stock of wild-rice, went and got his gun and tomahawk, and shook the tomahawk over his head, saying, 'Now, give me your wild-rice.' The trader complied with his exaction, but not so did Mr. B. in the adventure which I am about to relate. Key-way-no-wut came frequently to him with furs, wishing him to give for them, cotton-cloth, sugar, flour, &c. Mr. B. explained to him that he could not trade for furs, as he was sent there as a teacher, and that it would be like putting his hand into the fire to do so, as the traders would inform against him, and he would be sent out of the country. At the same time, he gave him the articles which he wished. Key-way-no-wut found this a very convenient way of getting what he wanted, and followed up this sort of game, until, at last, it became insupportable. One day the Indian brought a very large otter-skin, and said, 'I want to get for this ten pounds of sugar, and some [pg 98] flour and cloth,' adding, 'I am not like other Indians, I want to pay for what I get.' Mr. B. found that he must either be robbed of all he had by submitting to these exactions, or take a stand at once. He thought, however, he would try to avoid a scrape, and told his customer he had not so much sugar to spare. 'Give me, then,' said he, 'what you can spare'; and Mr. B., thinking to make him back out, told him he would, give him five pounds of sugar for his skin. 'Take it,' said the Indian. He left the skin, telling Mr. B. to take good care of it. Mr. B. took it at once to the trader's store, and related the circumstance, congratulating himself that he had got rid of the Indian's exactions. But in about a month Key-way-no-wut appeared, bringing some dirty Indian sugar, and said, 'I have brought back the sugar that I borrowed of you, and I want my otter-skin back.' Mr. B. told him, 'I bought an otter-skin of you, but if you will return the other articles you have got for it, perhaps I can get it for you.' 'Where is the skin?' said he very quickly; 'what have you done with it?' Mr. B. replied it was in the trader's store, where he (the Indian) could not get it. At this information he was furious, laid his hands on his knife and tomahawk, and commanded Mr. B. to bring it at once. Mr. B. found this was the crisis, where he must take a stand or be 'rode over rough-shod' by this man. His wife, who was present was much alarmed, and begged he would get the skin for the Indian, but he told her that 'either he or the Indian would soon be master of his house, and if she was afraid to see it decided which was to be so, she had better retire,' He turned to Key-way-no-wut, and addressed him in a stern voice as follows: 'I will not give you the skin. How often have you come to my house, and I have shared with you what I had. I gave you tobacco when you were well, and medicine when you were sick, and you never went away from my wigwam with your hands empty. And this is the way you return my treatment to you. I had thought you were a man and a chief, but you are not, you are nothing but an old woman. Leave this house, and never enter it again.' Mr. B. said he expected the Indian would attempt his life when he said this, but that he had placed himself in a position so [pg 99] that he could defend himself, and looked straight into the Indian's eye, and, like other wild beasts, he quailed before the glance of mental and moral courage. He calmed down at once, and soon began to make apologies. Mr. B. then told him kindly, but firmly, that, if he wished to walk in the same path with him, he must walk as straight as the crack on the floor before them; adding, that he would not walk with anybody who would jostle him by walking so crooked as he had done. He was perfectly tamed, and Mr. B. said he never had any more trouble with him."

The conviction here livingly enforced of the superiority on the side of the white man, was thus expressed by the Indian orator at Mackinaw while we were there. After the customary compliments about sun, dew, &c., "This," said he, "is the difference between the white and the red man; the white man looks to the future and paves the way for posterity. The red man never thought of this." This is a statement uncommonly refined for an Indian; but one of the gentlemen present, who understood the Chippewa, vouched for it as a literal rendering of his phrases; and he did indeed touch the vital point of difference. But the Indian, if he understands, cannot make use of his intelligence. The fate of his people is against it, and Pontiac and Philip have no more chance than Julian in the times of old.

The Indian is steady to that simple creed which forms the basis of all his mythology; that there is a God and a life beyond this; a right and wrong which each man can see, betwixt which each man should choose; that good brings with it its reward, and vice its punishment. His moral code, if not as refined as that of civilized nations, is clear and noble in the stress laid upon truth and fidelity. And all unprejudiced observers bear testimony, that the Indians, until broken from their old anchorage by intercourse with the whites,—who offer them, instead, a religion of which they furnish neither interpretation nor example,—were singularly virtuous, if virtue be allowed to consist in a man's acting up to his own ideas of right.

My friend, who joined me at Mackinaw, happened, on the homeward journey, to see a little Chinese girl, who had been sent [pg 100] over by one of the missionaries, and observed that, in features, complexion, and gesture, she was a counterpart to the little Indian girls she had just seen playing about on the lake shore.

The parentage of these tribes is still an interesting subject of speculation, though, if they be not created for this region, they have become so assimilated to it as to retain little trace of any other. To me it seems most probable, that a peculiar race was bestowed on each region,H as the lion on one latitude and the white bear on another. As man has two natures,—one, like that of the plants and animals, adapted to the uses and enjoyments of this planet, another which presages and demands a higher sphere,—he is constantly breaking bounds, in proportion as the mental gets the better of the mere instinctive existence. As yet, he loses in harmony of being what he gains in height and extension; the civilized man is a larger mind, but a more imperfect nature, than the savage.

We hope there will be a national institute, containing all the remains of the Indians, all that has been preserved by official intercourse at Washington, Catlin's collection, and a picture-gallery as complete as can be made, with a collection of skulls from all parts of the country. To this should be joined the scanty library that exists on the subject.

A little pamphlet, giving an account of the massacre at Chicago, has lately; been published, which I wish much I had seen while there, as it would have imparted an interest to spots otherwise barren. It is written with animation, and in an excellent style, telling just what we want to hear, and no more. The traits given of Indian generosity are as characteristic as those of Indian cruelty. A lady, who was saved by a friendly chief holding her under the waters of the lake, at the moment the balls endangered her, received also, in the heat of the conflict, a reviving draught from a squaw, who saw she was exhausted; and as she lay down, a mat was hung up between her and the scene of [pg 101] butchery, so that she was protected from the sight, though she could not be from sounds full of horror.

I have not wished to write sentimentally about the Indians, however moved by the thought of their wrongs and speedy extinction. I know that the Europeans who took possession of this country felt themselves justified by their superior civilization and religious ideas. Had they been truly civilized or Christianized, the conflicts which sprang from the collision of the two races might have been avoided; but this cannot be expected in movements made by masses of men. The mass has never yet been humanized, though the age may develop a human thought. Since those conflicts and differences did arise, the hatred which sprang from terror and suffering, on the European side, has naturally warped the whites still further from justice.

The Indian, brandishing the scalps of his wife and friends, drinking their blood, and eating their hearts, is by him viewed as a fiend, though, at a distant day, he will no doubt be considered as having acted the Roman or Carthaginian part of heroic and patriotic self-defence, according to the standard of right and motives prescribed by his religious faith and education. Looked at by his own standard, he is virtuous when he most injures his enemy, and the white, if he be really the superior in enlargement of thought, ought to cast aside his inherited prejudices enough to see this, to look on him in pity and brotherly good-will, and do all he can to mitigate the doom of those who survive his past injuries.

In McKenney's book is proposed a project for organizing the Indians under a patriarchal government; but it does not look feasible, even on paper. Could their own intelligent men be left to act unimpeded in their behalf, they would do far better for them than the white thinker, with all his general knowledge. But we dare not hope the designs of such will not always be frustrated by barbarous selfishness, as they were in Georgia. There was a chance of seeing what might have been done, now lost for ever.

Yet let every man look to himself how far this blood shall be [pg 102] required at his hands. Let the missionary, instead of preaching to the Indian, preach to the trader who ruins him, of the dreadful account which will be demanded of the followers of Cain, in a sphere where the accents of purity and love come on the ear more decisively than in ours. Let every legislator take the subject to heart, and, if he cannot undo the effects of past sin, try for that clear view and right sense that may save us from sinning still more deeply. And let every man and every woman, in their private dealings with the subjugated race, avoid all share in embittering, by insult or unfeeling prejudice, the captivity of Israel.

Footnote H: (return)

Professor Agassiz has recently published some able scientific papers tending to enforce this theory.—ED.

[pg 103]

 

CHAPTER VII.

SAULT ST. MARIE.—ST. JOSEPH'S ISLAND.—THE LAND OF MUSIC.—RAPIDS.—HOMEWARD.—GENERAL HULL.—THE BOOK TO THE READER.

Nine days I passed alone at Mackinaw, except for occasional visits from kind and agreeable residents at the fort, and Mr. and Mrs. A. Mr. A., long engaged in the fur-trade, is gratefully remembered by many travellers. From Mrs. A., also, I received kind attentions, paid in the vivacious and graceful manner of her nation.

The society at the boarding-house entertained, being of a kind entirely new to me. There were many traders from the remote stations, such as La Pointe, Arbre Croche,—men who had become half wild and wholly rude by living in the wild; but good-humored, observing, and with a store of knowledge to impart, of the kind proper to their place.

There were two little girls here, that were pleasant companions for me. One gay, frank, impetuous, but sweet and winning. She was an American, fair, and with bright brown hair. The other, a little French Canadian, used to join me in my walks, silently take my hand, and sit at my feet when I stopped in beautiful places. She seemed to understand without a word; and I never shall forget her little figure, with its light, but pensive motion, and her delicate, grave features, with the pale, clear complexion and soft eye. She was motherless, and much left alone by her father and brothers, who were boatmen. The two little girls were as pretty representatives of Allegro and Penseroso as one would wish to see.

[pg 104]

I had been wishing that a boat would come in to take me to the Sault St. Marie, and several times started to the window at night in hopes that the pant and dusky-red light crossing the waters belonged to such an one; but they were always boats for Chicago or Buffalo, till, on the 28th of August, Allegro, who shared my plans and wishes, rushed in to tell me that the General Scott had come; and in this little steamer, accordingly, I set off the next morning.

I was the only lady, and attended in the cabin by a Dutch girl and an Indian woman. They both spoke English fluently, and entertained me much by accounts of their different experiences.

The Dutch girl told me of a dance among the common people at Amsterdam, called the shepherd's dance. The two leaders are dressed as shepherd and shepherdess; they invent to the music all kinds of movements, descriptive of things that may happen in the field, and the rest are obliged to follow. I have never heard of any dance which gave such free play to the fancy as this. French dances merely describe the polite movements of society; Spanish and Neapolitan, love; the beautiful Mazurkas, &c. are war-like or expressive of wild scenery. But in this one is great room both for fun and fancy.

The Indian was married, when young, by her parents, to a man she did not love. He became dissipated, and did not maintain her. She left him, taking with her their child, for whom and herself she earns a subsistence by going as chambermaid in these boats. Now and then, she said, her husband called on her, and asked if he might live with her again; but she always answered, No. Here she was far freer than she would have been in civilized life. I was pleased by the nonchalance of this woman, and the perfectly national manner she had preserved after so many years of contact with all kinds of people.

The two women, when I left the boat, made me presents of Indian work, such as travellers value, and the manner of the two was characteristic of their different nations. The Indian brought me hers, when I was alone, looked bashfully down when she gave it, and made an almost sentimental little speech. [pg 105] The Dutch girl brought hers in public, and, bridling her short chin with a self-complacent air, observed she had bought it for me. But the feeling of affectionate regard was the same in the minds of both.

Island after island we passed, all fairly shaped and clustering in a friendly way, but with little variety of vegetation. In the afternoon the weather became foggy, and we could not proceed after dark. That was as dull an evening as ever fell.

The next morning the fog still lay heavy, but the captain took me out in his boat on an exploring expedition, and we found the remains of the old English fort on Point St. Joseph's. All around was so wholly unmarked by anything but stress of wind and weather, the shores of these islands and their woods so like one another, wild and lonely, but nowhere rich and majestic, that there was some charm, in the remains of the garden, the remains even of chimneys and a pier. They gave feature to the scene.

Here I gathered many flowers, but they were the same as at Mackinaw.

The captain, though he had been on this trip hundreds of times, had never seen this spot, and never would but for this fog, and his desire to entertain me. He presented a striking instance how men, for the sake of getting a living, forget to live. It is just the same in the most romantic as the most dull and vulgar places. Men get the harness on so fast, that they can never shake it off, unless they guard against this danger from the very first. In Chicago, how many men live who never find time to see the prairies, or learn anything unconnected with the business of the day, or about the country they are living in!

So this captain, a man of strong sense and good eyesight, rarely found time to go off the track or look about him on it. He lamented, too, that there had been no call which, induced him to develop his powers of expression, so that he might communicate what he had seen for the enjoyment or instruction of others.

This is a common fault among the active men, the truly living, who could tell what life is. It should not be so. Literature should not be left to the mere literati,—eloquence to the mere [pg 106] orator; every Cæsar should be able to write his own commentary. We want a more equal, more thorough, more harmonious development, and there is nothing to hinder the men of this country from it, except their own supineness, or sordid views.

When the weather did clear, our course up the river was delightful. Long stretched before us the island of St. Joseph's, with its fair woods of sugar-maple. A gentleman on board, who belongs to the Fort at the Sault, said their pastime was to come in the season of making sugar, and pass some time on this island,—the days at work, and the evening in dancing and other amusements. Work of this kind done in the open air, where everything is temporary, and every utensil prepared on the spot, gives life a truly festive air. At such times, there is labor and no care,—energy with gayety, gayety of the heart.

I think with the same pleasure of the Italian vintage, the Scotch harvest-home, with its evening dance in the barn, the Russian cabbage-feast even, and our huskings and hop-gatherings. The hop-gatherings, where the groups of men and girls are pulling down and filling baskets with the gay festoons, present as graceful pictures as the Italian vintage.

How pleasant is the course along a new river, the sight of new shores! like a life, would but life flow as fast, and upbear us with as full a stream. I hoped we should come in sight of the rapids by daylight; but the beautiful sunset was quite gone, and only a young moon trembling over the scene, when we came within hearing of them.

I sat up long to hear them merely. It was a thoughtful hour. These two days, the 29th and 30th of August, are memorable in my life; the latter is the birthday of a near friend. I pass them alone, approaching Lake Superior; but I shall not enter into that truly wild and free region; shall not have the canoe voyage, whose daily adventure, with the camping out at night beneath the stars, would have given an interlude of such value to my existence. I shall not see the Pictured Rocks, their chapels and urns. It did not depend on me; it never has, whether such things shall be done or not.

[pg 107]

My friends! may they see, and do, and be more; especially those who have before them a greater number of birthdays, and a more healthy and unfettered existence!

I should like to hear some notes of earthly music to-night. By the faint moonshine I can hardly see the banks; how they look I have no guess, except that there are trees, and, now and then, a light lets me know there are homes, with their various interests. I should like to hear some strains of the flute from beneath those trees, just to break the sound of the rapids.

THE LAND OF MUSIC.

When no gentle eyebeam charms;

No fond hope the bosom warms;

Of thinking the lone mind is tired,—

Naught seems bright to be desired.

Music, be thy sails unfurled;

Bear me to thy better world;

O'er a cold and weltering sea,

Blow thy breezes warm and free.

By sad sighs they ne'er were chilled,

By sceptic spell were never stilled.

Take me to that far-off shore,

Where lovers meet to part no more.

There doubt and fear and sin are o'er;

The star of love shall set no more.

With the first light of dawn I was up and out, and then was glad I had not seen all the night before, it came upon me with such power in its dewy freshness. O, they are beautiful indeed, these rapids! The grace is so much more obvious than the power. I went up through the old Chippewa burying-ground to their head, and sat down on a large stone to look. A little way off was one of the home-lodges, unlike in shape to the temporary ones at Mackinaw, but these have been described by Mrs. Jameson. Women, too, I saw coming home from the woods, stooping under great loads of cedar-boughs, that were strapped upon their [pg 108] backs. But in many European countries women carry great loads, even of wood, upon their backs. I used to hear the girls singing and laughing as they were cutting down boughs at Mackinaw; this part of their employment, though laborious, gives them the pleasure of being a great deal in the free woods.

I had ordered a canoe to take me down the rapids, and presently I saw it coming, with the two Indian canoe-men in pink calico shirts, moving it about with their long poles, with a grace and dexterity worthy fairy-land. Now and then they cast the scoop-net;—all looked just as I had fancied, only far prettier.

When they came to me, they spread a mat in the middle of the canoe; I sat down, and in less than four minutes we had descended the rapids, a distance of more than three quarters of a mile. I was somewhat disappointed in this being no more of an exploit than I found it. Having heard such expressions used as of "darting," or "shooting down," these rapids, I had fancied there was a wall of rock somewhere, where descent would somehow be accomplished, and that there would come some one gasp of terror and delight, some sensation entirely new to me; but I found myself in smooth water, before I had time to feel anything but the buoyant pleasure of being carried so lightly through this surf amid the breakers. Now and then the Indians spoke to one another in a vehement jabber, which, however, had no tone that expressed other than pleasant excitement. It is, no doubt, an act of wonderful dexterity to steer amid these jagged rocks, when one rude touch would tear a hole in the birch canoe; but these men are evidently so used to doing it, and so adroit, that the silliest person could not feel afraid. I should like to have come down twenty times, that I might have had leisure to realize the pleasure. But the fog which had detained us on the way shortened the boat's stay at the Sault, and I wanted my time to walk about.

While coming down the rapids, the Indians caught a white-fish for my breakfast; and certainly it was the best of breakfasts. The white-fish I found quite another thing caught on the spot, and cooked immediately, from what I had found it at Chicago [pg 109] or Mackinaw. Before, I had had the bad taste to prefer the trout, despite the solemn and eloquent remonstrances of the habitués, to whom the superiority of white-fish seemed a cardinal point of faith.

I am here reminded that I have omitted that indispensable part of a travelling journal, the account of what we found to eat. I cannot hope to make up, by one bold stroke, all my omissions of daily record; but that I may show myself not destitute of the common feelings of humanity, I will observe that he whose affections turn in summer towards vegetables should not come to this region, till the subject of diet be better understood; that of fruit, too, there is little yet, even at the best hotel tables; that the prairie chickens require no praise from me, and that the trout and white-fish are worthy the transparency of the lake waters.

In this brief mention I by no means intend to give myself an air of superiority to the subject. If a dinner in the Illinois woods, on dry bread and drier meat, with water from the stream that flowed hard by, pleased me best of all, yet, at one time, when living at a house where nothing was prepared for the table fit to touch, and even the bread could not be partaken of without a headache in consequence, I learnt to understand and sympathize with the anxious tone in which fathers of families, about to take their innocent children into some scene of wild beauty, ask first of all, "Is there a good, table?" I shall ask just so in future. Only those whom the Powers have furnished with small travelling cases of ambrosia can take exercise all day, and be happy without even bread morning or night.

Our voyage back was all pleasure. It was the fairest day. I saw the river, the islands, the clouds, to the greatest advantage.

On board was an old man, an Illinois farmer, whom I found a most agreeable companion. He had just been with his son, and eleven other young men, on an exploring expedition to the shores of Lake Superior. He was the only old man of the party, but he had enjoyed most of any the journey. He had been the counsellor and playmate, too, of the young ones. He was one of those parents—why so rare?—who understand and live a new life in [pg 110] that of their children, instead of wasting time and young happiness in trying to make them conform to an object and standard of their own. The character and history of each child may be a new and poetic experience to the parent, if he will let it. Our farmer was domestic, judicious, solid; the son, inventive, enterprising, superficial, full of follies, full of resources, always liable to failure, sure to rise above it. The father conformed to, and learnt from, a character he could not change, and won the sweet from the bitter.

His account of his life at home, and of his late adventures among the Indians, was very amusing, but I want talent to write it down, and I have not heard the slang of these people intimately enough. There is a good book about Indiana, called the New Purchase, written by a person who knows the people of the country well enough to describe them in their own way. It is not witty, but penetrating, valuable for its practical wisdom and good-humored fun.

There were many sportsman-stories told, too, by those from Illinois and Wisconsin. I do not retain any of these well enough, nor any that I heard earlier, to write them down, though they always interested me from bringing wild natural scenes before the mind. It is pleasant for the sportsman to be in countries so alive with game; yet it is so plenty that one would think shooting pigeons or grouse would seem more like slaughter, than the excitement of skill to a good sportsman. Hunting the deer is full of adventure, and needs only a Scrope to describe it to invest the Western woods with historic associations.

How pleasant it was to sit and hear rough men tell pieces out of their own common lives, in place of the frippery talk of some fine circle with its conventional sentiment, and timid, second-hand criticism. Free blew the wind, and boldly flowed the stream, named for Mary mother mild.

A fine thunder-shower came on in the afternoon. It cleared at sunset, just as we came in sight of beautiful Mackinaw, over which, a rainbow bent in promise of peace.

I have always wondered, in reading travels, at the childish joy [pg 111] travellers felt at meeting people they knew, and their sense of loneliness when they did not, in places where there was everything new to occupy the attention. So childish, I thought, always to be longing for the new in the old, and the old in the new. Yet just such sadness I felt, when I looked on the island glittering in the sunset, canopied by the rainbow, and thought no friend would welcome me there; just such childish joy I felt to see unexpectedly on the landing the face of one whom I called friend.

The remaining two or three days were delightfully spent, in walking or boating, or sitting at the window to see the Indians go. This was not quite so pleasant as their coming in, though accomplished with the same rapidity; a family not taking half an hour to prepare for departure, and the departing canoe a beautiful object. But they left behind, on all the shore, the blemishes of their stay,—old rags, dried boughs, fragments of food, the marks of their fires. Nature likes to cover up and gloss over spots and scars, but it would take her some time to restore that beach to the state it was in before they came.

S. and I had a mind for a canoe excursion, and we asked one of the traders to engage us two good Indians, that would not only take us out, but be sure and bring us back, as we could not hold converse with them. Two others offered their aid, beside the chief's son, a fine-looking youth of about sixteen, richly dressed in blue broadcloth, scarlet sash and leggins, with a scarf of brighter red than the rest, tied around his head, its ends falling gracefully on one shoulder. They thought it, apparently, fine amusement to be attending two white women; they carried us into the path of the steamboat, which was going out, and paddled with all their force,—rather too fast, indeed, for there was something of a swell on the lake, and they sometimes threw water into the canoe. However, it flew over the waves, light as a seagull. They would say, "Pull away," and "Ver' warm," and, after these words, would laugh gayly. They enjoyed the hour, I believe, as much as we.

The house where we lived belonged to the widow of a French trader, an Indian by birth, and wearing the dress of her country [pg 112] She spoke French fluently, and was very ladylike in her manners. She is a great character among them. They were all the time coming to pay her homage, or to get her aid and advice; for she is, I am told, a shrewd woman of business. My companion carried about her sketch-book with her, and the Indians were interested when they saw her using her pencil, though less so than about the sun-shade. This lady of the tribe wanted to borrow the sketches of the beach, with its lodges and wild groups, "to show to the savages" she said.

Of the practical ability of the Indian women, a good specimen is given by McKenney, in an amusing story of one who went to Washington, and acted her part there in the "first circles," with a tact and sustained dissimulation worthy of Cagliostro. She seemed to have a thorough love of intrigue for its own sake, and much dramatic talent. Like the chiefs of her nation, when on an expedition among the foe, whether for revenge or profit, no impulses of vanity or way-side seductions had power to turn her aside from carrying out her plan as she had originally projected it.

Although I have little to tell, I feel that I have learnt a great deal of the Indians, from observing them even in this broken and degraded condition. There is a language of eye and motion which cannot be put into words, and which teaches what words never can. I feel acquainted with the soul of this race; I read its nobler thought in their defaced figures. There was a greatness, unique and precious, which he who does not feel will never duly appreciate the majesty of nature in this American continent.

I have mentioned that the Indian orator, who addressed the agents on this occasion, said, the difference between the white man and the red man is this: "The white man no sooner came here, than he thought of preparing the way for his posterity; the red man never thought of this." I was assured this was exactly his phrase; and it defines the true difference. We get the better because we do

"Look before and after."

But, from, the same cause, we

"Pine for what is not."

[pg 113] The red man, when happy, was thoroughly happy; when good, was simply good. He needed the medal, to let him know that he was good.

These evenings we were happy, looking over the old-fashioned garden, over the beach, over the waters and pretty island opposite, beneath the growing moon. We did not stay to see it full at Mackinaw; at two o'clock one night, or rather morning, the Great Western came snorting in, and we must go; and Mackinaw, and all the Northwest summer, is now to me no more than picture and dream:—

"A dream within a dream."

These last days at Mackinaw have been pleasanter than the "lonesome" nine, for I have recovered the companion with whom I set out from the East,—one who sees all, prizes all, enjoys much, interrupts never.

At Detroit we stopped for half a day. This place is famous in our history, and the unjust anger at its surrender is still expressed by almost every one who passes there. I had always shared the common feeling on this subject; for the indignation at a disgrace to our arms that seemed so unnecessary has been handed down from father to child, and few of us have taken the pains to ascertain where the blame lay. But now, upon the spot, having read all the testimony, I felt convinced that it should rest solely with the government, which, by neglecting to sustain General Hull, as he had a right to expect they would, compelled him to take this step, or sacrifice many lives, and of the defenceless inhabitants, not of soldiers, to the cruelty of a savage foe, for the sake of his reputation.

I am a woman, and unlearned in such affairs; but, to a person with common sense and good eyesight, it is clear, when viewing the location, that, under the circumstances, he had no prospect of successful defence, and that to attempt it would have been an act of vanity, not valor.

I feel that I am not biassed in this judgment by my personal relations, for I have always heard both sides, and though my feelings [pg 114] had been moved by the picture of the old man sitting in the midst of his children, to a retired and despoiled old age, after a life of honor and happy intercourse with the public, yet tranquil, always secure that justice must be done at last, I supposed, like others, that he deceived himself, and deserved to pay the penalty for failure to the responsibility he had undertaken. Now, on the spot, I change, and believe the country at large must, erelong, change from this opinion. And I wish to add my testimony, however trifling its weight, before it be drowned in the voice of general assent, that I may do some justice to the feelings which possess me here and now.

A noble boat, the Wisconsin, was to be launched this afternoon; the whole town was out in many-colored array, the band playing. Our boat swept round to a good position, and all was ready but—the Wisconsin, which could not be made to stir. This was quite a disappointment. It would have been an imposing sight.

In the boat many signs admonished that we were floating eastward. A shabbily-dressed phrenologist laid his hand on every head which would bend, with half-conceited, half-sheepish expression, to the trial of his skill. Knots of people gathered here and there to discuss points of theology. A bereaved lover was seeking religious consolation in—Butler's Analogy, which he had purchased for that purpose. However, he did not turn over many pages before his attention was drawn aside by the gay glances of certain damsels that came on board at Detroit, and, though Butler might afterwards be seen sticking from his pocket, it had not weight to impede him from many a feat of lightness and liveliness. I doubt if it went with him from the boat. Some there were, even, discussing the doctrines of Fourier. It seemed pity they were not going to, rather than from, the rich and free country where it would be so much easier than with us to try the great experiment of voluntary association, and show beyond a doubt that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," a maxim of the "wisdom of nations" which has proved of little practical efficacy as yet.

Better to stop before landing at Buffalo, while I have yet the advantage over some of my readers.

[pg 115]

 

THE BOOK TO THE READER,

WHO OPENS, AS AMERICAN READERS OFTEN DO,—AT THE END.

To see your cousin in her country home,

If at the time of blackberries you come,

"Welcome, my friends," she cries with ready glee,

"The fruit is ripened, and the paths are free.

But, madam, you will tear that handsome gown;

The little boy be sure to tumble down;

And, in the thickets where they ripen best,

The matted ivy, too, its bower has drest.

And then the thorns your hands are sure to rend,

Unless with heavy gloves you will defend;

Amid most thorns the sweetest roses blow,

Amid most thorns the sweetest berries grow."

If, undeterred, you to the fields must go,

You tear your dresses and you scratch your hands;

But, in the places where the berries grow,

A sweeter fruit the ready sense commands,

Of wild, gay feelings, fancies springing sweet,—

Of bird-like pleasures, fluttering and fleet.

Another year, you cannot go yourself,

To win the berries from the thickets wild,

And housewife skill, instead, has filled the shelf

With blackberry jam, "by best receipts compiled,—

Not made with country sugar, for too strong

The flavors that to maple-juice belong;

But foreign sugar, nicely mixed 'to suit

The taste,' spoils not the fragrance of the fruit."

"'T is pretty good," half-tasting, you reply,

"I scarce should know it from fresh blackberry.

But the best pleasure such a fruit can yield

Is to be gathered in the open field;

[pg 116]

If only as an article of food,

Cherry or crab-apple is quite as good;

And, for occasions of festivity,

West India sweetmeats you had better buy."

Thus, such a dish of homely sweets as these

In neither way may chance the taste to please.

Yet try a little with the evening-bread;

Bring a good needle for the spool of thread;

Take fact with fiction, silver with the lead,

And, at the mint, you can get gold instead;

In fine, read me, even as you would be read.

[pg 117]

 

 

PART II.

THINGS AND THOUGHTS IN EUROPE.

[pg 119]

 

LETTER I.

Passage in the Cambria.—Lord and Lady Falkland.—Captain Judkins.—Liverpool.—Manchester.—Mechanics' Institute.—"The Dial."—Peace and War.—The Working-Men of England.—Their Tribute to Sir Robert Peel.—The Royal Institute.—Statues.—Chester.—Bathing.

Ambleside, Westmoreland, 23d August, 1846.

I take the first interval of rest and stillness to be filled up by some lines for the Tribune. Only three weeks have passed since leaving New York, but I have already had nine days of wonder in England, and, having learned a good deal, suppose I may have something to tell.

Long before receiving this, you know that we were fortunate in the shortest voyage ever made across the Atlantic,I—only ten days and sixteen hours from Boston to Liverpool. The weather and all circumstances were propitious; and, if some of us were weak of head enough to suffer from the smell and jar of the machinery, or other ills by which the sea is wont to avenge itself on the arrogance of its vanquishers, we found no pity. The stewardess observed that she thought "any one tempted God Almighty who complained on a voyage where they did not even have to put guards to the dishes"!

As many contradictory counsels were given us with regard to going in one of the steamers in preference to a sailing vessel, I will mention here, for the benefit of those who have not yet tried one, that he must be fastidious indeed who could complain of the Cambria. The advantage of a quick passage and certainty as to [pg 120] the time of arrival, would, with us, have outweighed many ills; but, apart from this, we found more space than we expected and as much as we needed for a very tolerable degree of convenience in our sleeping-rooms, better ventilation than Americans in general can be persuaded to accept, general cleanliness, and good attendance. In the evening, when the wind was favorable, and the sails set, so that the vessel looked like a great winged creature darting across the apparently measureless expanse, the effect was very grand, but ah! for such a spectacle one pays too dear; I far prefer looking out upon "the blue and foaming sea" from a firm green shore.

Our ship's company numbered several pleasant members, and that desire prevailed in each to contribute to the satisfaction of all, which, if carried out through the voyage of life, would make this earth as happy as it is a lovely abode. At Halifax we took in the Governor of Nova Scotia, returning from his very unpopular administration. His lady was with, him, a daughter of William the Fourth and the celebrated Mrs. Jordan. The English on board, and the Americans, following their lead, as usual, seemed to attach much importance to her left-handed alliance with one of the dullest families that ever sat upon a throne, (and that is a bold word, too,) none to her descent from one whom Nature had endowed with her most splendid regalia,—genius that fascinated the attention of all kinds and classes of men, grace and winning qualities that no heart could resist. Was the cestus buried with her, that no sense of its pre-eminent value lingered, as far as I could perceive, in the thoughts of any except myself?

We had a foretaste of the delights of living under an aristocratical government at the Custom-House, where our baggage was detained, and we waiting for it weary hours, because of the preference given to the mass of household stuff carried back by this same Lord and Lady Falkland.

Captain Judkins of the Cambria, an able and prompt commander, is the man who insisted upon Douglass being admitted to equal rights upon his deck with the insolent slave-holders, and assumed a tone toward their assumptions, which, if the Northern [pg 121] States had had the firmness, good sense, and honor to use, would have had the same effect, and put our country in a very different position from that she occupies at present. He mentioned with pride that he understood the New York Herald called him "the Nigger Captain," and seemed as willing to accept the distinction as Colonel McKenney is to wear as his last title that of "the Indian's friend."

At the first sight of the famous Liverpool Docks, extending miles on each side of our landing, we felt ourselves in a slower, solider, and not on that account less truly active, state of things than at home. That impression is confirmed. There is not as we travel that rushing, tearing, and swearing, that snatching of baggage, that prodigality of shoe-leather and lungs, which attend the course of the traveller in the United States; but we do not lose our "goods," we do not miss our car. The dinner, if ordered in time, is cooked properly, and served punctually, and at the end of the day more that is permanent seems to have come of it than on the full-drive system. But more of this, and with a better grace, at a later day.

The day after our arrival we went to Manchester. There we went over the magnificent warehouse of —— Phillips, in itself a Bazaar ample to furnish provision for all the wants and fancies of thousands. In the evening we went to the Mechanics' Institute, and saw the boys and young men in their classes. I have since visited the Mechanics' Institute at Liverpool, where more than seventeen hundred pupils are received, and with more thorough educational arrangements; but the excellent spirit, the desire for growth in wisdom and enlightened benevolence, is the same in both. For a very small fee, the mechanic, clerk, or apprentice, and the women of their families, can receive various good and well-arranged instruction, not only in common branches of an English education, but in mathematics, composition, the French and German, languages, the practice and theory of the Fine Arts, and they are ardent in availing themselves of instruction in the higher branches. I found large classes, not only in architectural drawing, which may be supposed to be followed with a view to [pg 122] professional objects, but landscape also, and as large in German as in French. They can attend many good lectures and concerts without additional charge, for a due place is here assigned to music as to its influence on the whole mind. The large and well-furnished libraries are in constant requisition, and the books in most constant demand are not those of amusement, but of a solid and permanent interest and value. Only for the last year in Manchester, and for two in Liverpool, have these advantages been extended to girls; but now that part of the subject is looked upon as it ought to be, and begins to be treated more and more as it must and will be wherever true civilization is making its way. One of the handsomest houses in Liverpool has been purchased for the girls' school, and room and good arrangement been afforded for their work and their play. Among other things they are taught, as they ought to be in all American schools, to cut out and make dresses.

I had the pleasure of seeing quotations made from our Boston "Dial," in the address in which the Director of the Liverpool Institute, a very benevolent and intelligent man, explained to his disciples and others its objects, and which concludes thus:—

"But this subject of self-improvement is inexhaustible. If traced to its results in action, it is, in fact, 'The Whole Duty of Man.' What of detail it involves and implies, I know that you will, each and all, think out for yourselves. Beautifully has it been said: 'Is not the difference between spiritual and material things just this,—that in the one case we must watch details, in the other, keep alive the high resolve, and the details will take care of themselves? Keep the sacred central fire burning, and throughout the system, in each of its acts, will be warmth and glow enough.'J

"For myself, if I be asked what my purpose is in relation to you, I would briefly reply, It is that I may help, be it ever so feebly, to train up a race of young men, who shall escape vice by rising above it; who shall love truth because it is truth, not because it [pg 123] brings them wealth or honor; who shall regard life as a solemn thing, involving too weighty responsibilities to be wasted in idle or frivolous pursuits; who shall recognize in their daily labors, not merely a tribute to the "hard necessity of daily bread," but a field for the development of their better nature by the discharge of duty; who shall judge in all things for themselves, bowing the knee to no sectarian or party watchwords of any kind; and who, while they think for themselves, shall feel for others, and regard their talents, their attainments, their opportunities, their possessions, as blessings held in trust for the good of their fellow-men."

I found that The Dial had been read with earnest interest by some of the best minds in these especially practical regions, that it had been welcomed as a representative of some sincere and honorable life in America, and thought the fittest to be quoted under this motto:—

"What are noble deeds but noble thoughts realized?"

Among other signs of the times we bought Bradshaw's Railway Guide, and, opening it, found extracts from the writings of our countrymen, Elihu Burritt and Charles Sumner, on the subject of Peace, occupying a leading place in the "Collect," for the month, of this little hand-book, more likely, in an era like ours, to influence the conduct of the day than would an illuminated breviary. Now that peace is secured for the present between our two countries, the spirit is not forgotten that quelled the storm. Greeted on every side with expressions of feeling about the blessings of peace, the madness and wickedness of war, that would be deemed romantic in our darker land, I have answered to the speakers, "But you are mightily pleased, and illuminate for your victories in China and Ireland, do you not?" and they, unprovoked by the taunt, would mildly reply, "We do not, but it is too true that a large part of the nation fail to bring home the true nature and bearing of those events, and apply principle to conduct with as much justice as they do in the case of a nation nearer to them by kindred and position. But we are sure that feeling is growing purer on the subject day by day, and that there will [pg 124] soon be a large majority against war on any occasion or for any object."

I heard a most interesting letter read from a tradesman in one of the country towns, whose daughters are self-elected instructors of the people in the way of cutting out from books and pamphlets fragments on the great subjects of the day, which they send about in packages, or paste on walls and doors. He said that one such passage, pasted on a door, he had seen read with eager interest by hundreds to whom such thoughts were, probably, quite new, and with some of whom it could scarcely fail to be as a little seed of a large harvest. Another good omen I found in written tracts by Joseph Barker, a working-man of the town of Wortley, published through his own printing-press.

How great, how imperious the need of such men, of such deeds, we felt more than ever, while compelled to turn a deaf ear to the squalid and shameless beggars of Liverpool, or talking by night in the streets of Manchester to the girls from the Mills, who were strolling bareheaded, with coarse, rude, and reckless air, through the streets, or seeing through the windows of the gin-palaces the women seated drinking, too dull to carouse. The homes of England! their sweetness is melting into fable; only the new Spirit in its holiest power can restore to those homes their boasted security of "each man's castle," for Woman, the warder, is driven into the street, and has let fall the keys in her sad plight. Yet darkest hour of night is nearest dawn, and there seems reason to believe that

"There's a good time coming."

Blest be those who aid, who doubt not that

"Smallest helps, if rightly given,

Make the impulse stronger;

'T will be strong enough one day."

Other things we saw in Liverpool,—the Royal Institute, with the statue of Roscoe by Chantrey, and in its collection from the works of the early Italian artists, and otherwise, bearing traces of that liberality and culture by which the man, happy enough to [pg 125] possess them, and at the same time engaged with his fellow-citizens in practical life, can do so much more to enlighten and form them, than prince or noble possibly can with far larger pecuniary means. We saw the statue of Huskisson in the Cemetery. It is fine as a portrait statue, but as a work of art wants firmness and grandeur. I say it is fine as a portrait statue, though we were told it is not like the original; but it is a good conception of an individuality which might exist, if it does not yet. It is by Gibson, who received his early education in Liverpool. I saw there, too, the body of an infant borne to the grave by women; for it is a beautiful custom, here, that those who have fulfilled all other tender offices to the little being should hold to it the same relation to the very last.

From Liverpool we went to Chester, one of the oldest cities in England, a Roman station once, and abode of the "Twentieth Legion," "the Victorious." Tiles bearing this inscription, heads of Jupiter, and other marks of their occupation, have, not long ago, been detected beneath the sod. The town also bears the marks of Welsh invasion and domestic struggles. The shape of a cross in which it is laid out, its walls and towers, its four arched gateways, its ramparts and ruined, towers, mantled with ivy, its old houses with Biblical inscriptions, its cathedral,—in which tall trees have grown up amid the arches, a fresh garden-plot, with flowers, bright green and red, taken place of the altar, and a crowd of revelling swallows supplanted the sallow choirs of a former priesthood,—present a tout-ensemble highly romantic in itself, and charming, indeed, to Transatlantic eyes. Yet not to all eyes would it have had charms, for one American traveller, our companion on the voyage, gravely assured us that we should find the "castles and that sort of thing all humbug," and that, if we wished to enjoy them, it would "be best to sit at home and read some handsome work on the subject."

At the hotel in Liverpool and that in Manchester I had found no bath, and asking for one at Chester, the chambermaid said, with earnest good-will, that "they had none, but she thought she could get me a note from her master to the Infirmary (!!) if I would go [pg 126] there." Luckily I did not generalize quite as rapidly as travellers in America usually do, and put in the note-book,—"Mem.: None but the sick ever bathe in England"; for in the next establishment we tried, I found the plentiful provision for a clean and healthy day, which I had read would be met everywhere in this country.

All else I must defer to my next, as the mail is soon to close.

Footnote I: (return)

True at the time these Letters were written.—ED.

Footnote J: (return)

The Dial, Vol. I. p. 188, October, 1840, "Musings of a Recluse."

[pg 127]

 

LETTER II.

Chester.—Its Museum.—Travelling Companions.—A Bengalese.—Westmoreland.—Ambleside.—Cobden and Bright.—A Scotch Lady.—Wordsworth.—His Flowers.—Miss Martineau.

Ambleside. Westmoreland, 27th August, 1846.

I forgot to mention, in writing of Chester, an object which gave me pleasure. I mentioned, that the wall which enclosed the old town was two miles in circumference; far beyond this stretches the modern part of Chester, and the old gateways now overarch the middle of long streets. This wall is now a walk for the inhabitants, commanding a wide prospect, and three persons could walk abreast on its smooth flags. We passed one of its old picturesque towers, from whose top Charles the First, poor, weak, unhappy king, looked down and saw his troops defeated by the Parliamentary army on the adjacent plain. A little farther on, one of these picturesque towers is turned to the use of a Museum, whose stock, though scanty, I examined with singular pleasure, for it had been made up by truly filial contributions from, all who had derived benefit from Chester, from the Marquis of Westminster—whose magnificent abode, Eton Hall, lies not far off—down to the merchant's clerk, who had furnished it in his leisure hours with a geological chart, the soldier and sailor, who sent back shells, insects, and petrifactions from their distant wanderings, and a boy of thirteen, who had made, in wood, a model of its cathedral, and even furnished it with a bell to ring out the evening chimes. Many women had been busy in filling these magazines for the instruction and the pleasure of their fellow-townsmen. Lady ——, the wife of the captain of the garrison, grateful for the gratuitous admission of the soldiers once a month,—a privilege of which [pg 128] the keeper of the Museum (a woman also, who took an intelligent pleasure in her task) assured me that they were eager to avail themselves,—had given a fine collection of butterflies, and a ship. An untiring diligence had been shown in adding whatever might stimulate or gratify imperfectly educated minds. I like to see women perceive that there are other ways of doing good besides making clothes for the poor or teaching Sunday-school; these are well, if well directed, but there are many other ways, some as sure and surer, and which benefit the giver no less than the receiver.

I was waked from sleep at the Chester Inn by a loud dispute between the chambermaid and an unhappy elderly gentleman, who insisted that he had engaged the room in which I was, had returned to sleep in it, and consequently must do so. To her assurances that the lady was long since in possession, he was deaf; but the lock, fortunately for me, proved a stronger defence. With all a chambermaid's morality, the maiden boasted to me, "He said he had engaged 44, and would not believe me when I assured him it was 46; indeed, how could he? I did not believe myself." To my assurance that, if I had known the room, was his, I should not have wished for it, but preferred taking a worse, I found her a polite but incredulous listener.

Passing from Liverpool to Lancaster by railroad, that convenient but most unprofitable and stupid way of travelling, we there took the canal-boat to Kendal, and passed pleasantly through a country of that soft, that refined and cultivated loveliness, which, however much we have heard of it, finds the American eye—accustomed to so much wildness, so much rudeness, such a corrosive action of man upon nature—wholly unprepared. I feel all the time as if in a sweet dream, and dread to be presently awakened by some rude jar or glare; but none comes, and here in Westmoreland—but wait a moment, before we speak of that.

In the canal-boat we found two well-bred English gentlemen, and two well-informed German gentlemen, with whom we had some agreeable talk. With one of the former was a beautiful youth, about eighteen, whom I supposed, at the first glance, to be [pg 129] a type of that pure East-Indian race whose beauty I had never seen represented before except in pictures; and he made a picture, from which I could scarcely take my eyes a moment, and from it could as ill endure to part. He was dressed in a broadcloth robe richly embroidered, leaving his throat and the upper part of his neck bare, except that he wore a heavy gold chain. A rich shawl was thrown gracefully around him; the sleeves of his robe were loose, with white sleeves below. He wore a black satin cap. The whole effect of this dress was very fine yet simple, setting off to the utmost advantage the distinguished beauty of his features, in which there was a mingling of national pride, voluptuous sweetness in that unconscious state of reverie when it affects us as it does in the flower, and intelligence in its newly awakened purity. As he turned his head, his profile was like one I used to have of Love asleep, while Psyche leans over him with the lamp; but his front face, with the full, summery look of the eye, was unlike that. He was a Bengalese, living in England for his education, as several others are at present. He spoke English well, and conversed on several subjects, literary and political, with grace, fluency, and delicacy of thought.

Passing from Kendal to Ambleside, we found a charming abode furnished us by the care of a friend in one of the stone cottages of this region, almost the only one not ivy-wreathed, but commanding a beautiful view of the mountains, and truly an English home in its neatness, quiet, and delicate, noiseless attention to the wants of all within its walls. Here we have passed eight happy days, varied by many drives, boating excursions on Grasmere and Winandermere, and the society of several agreeable persons. As the Lake district at this season draws together all kinds of people, and a great variety beside come from, all quarters to inhabit the charming dwellings that adorn its hill-sides and shores, I met and saw a good deal of the representatives of various classes, at once. I found here two landed proprietors from other parts of England, both "travelled English," one owning a property in Greece, where he frequently resides, both warmly engaged in Reform measures, anti-Corn-Law, [pg 130] anti-Capital-Punishment,—one of them an earnest student of Emerson's Essays. Both of them had wives, who kept pace with their projects and their thoughts, active and intelligent women, true ladies, skilful in drawing and music; all the better wives for the development of every power. One of them told me, with a glow of pride, that it was not long since her husband had been "cut" by all his neighbors among the gentry for the part he took against the Corn Laws; but, she added, he was now a favorite with them all. Verily, faith will remove mountains, if only you do join with it any fair portion of the dove and serpent attributes.

I found here, too, a wealthy manufacturer, who had written many valuable pamphlets on popular subjects. He said: "Now that the progress of public opinion was beginning to make the Church and the Army narrower fields for the younger sons of 'noble' families, they sometimes wish to enter into trade; but, beside the aversion which had been instilled into them for many centuries, they had rarely patience and energy for the apprenticeship requisite to give the needed knowledge of the world and habits of labor." Of Cobden he said: "He is inferior in acquirements to very many of his class, as he is self-educated and had everything to learn after he was grown up; but in clear insight there is none like him." A man of very little education, whom I met a day or two after in the stage-coach, observed to me: "Bright is far the more eloquent of the two, but Cobden is more felt, just because his speeches are so plain, so merely matter-of-fact and to the point."

We became acquainted also with Dr. Gregory, Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh, a very enlightened and benevolent man, who in many ways both instructed and benefited us. He is the friend of Liebig, and one of his chief representatives here.

We also met a fine specimen of the noble, intelligent Scotchwoman, such as Walter Scott and Burns knew how to prize. Seventy-six years have passed over her head, only to prove in her the truth of my theory, that we need never grow old. She was "brought up" in the animated and intellectual circle of [pg 131] Edinburgh, in youth an apt disciple, in her prime a bright ornament of that society. She had been an only child, a cherished wife, an adored mother, unspoiled by love in any of these relations, because that love was founded on knowledge. In childhood she had warmly sympathized in the spirit that animated the American Revolution, and Washington had been her hero; later, the interest of her husband in every struggle for freedom had cherished her own; she had known in the course of her long life many eminent men, knew minutely the history of efforts in that direction, and sympathized now in the triumph of the people over the Corn Laws, as she had in the American victories, with as much ardor as when a girl, though with a wiser mind. Her eye was full of light, her manner and gesture of dignity; her voice rich, sonorous, and finely modulated; her tide of talk marked by candor, justice, and showing in every sentence her ripe experience and her noble, genial nature. Dear to memory will be the sight of her in the beautiful seclusion of her home among the mountains, a picturesque, flower-wreathed dwelling, where affection, tranquillity, and wisdom were the gods of the hearth, to whom was offered no vain oblation. Grant us more such women, Time! Grant to men the power to reverence, to seek for such!

Our visit to Mr. Wordsworth was very pleasant. He also is seventy-six, but his is a florid, fair old age. He walked with us to all his haunts about the house. Its situation is beautiful, and the "Rydalian Laurels" are magnificent. Still I saw abodes among the hills that I should have preferred for Wordsworth, more wild and still, more romantic; the fresh and lovely Rydal Mount seems merely the retirement of a gentleman, rather than the haunt of a poet. He showed his benignity of disposition in several little things, especially in his attentions to a young boy we had with us. This boy had left the Circus, exhibiting its feats of horsemanship in Ambleside "for that day only," at his own desire to see Wordsworth, and I feared he would be disappointed, as I know I should have been at his age, if, when called to see a poet, I had found no Apollo, flaming with youthful glory, laurel-crowned and lyre in hand, but, instead, a reverend old man [pg 132] clothed in black, and walking with cautious step along the level garden-path; however, he was not disappointed, but seemed in timid reverence to recognize the spirit that had dictated "Laodamia" and "Dion,"—and Wordsworth, in his turn, seemed to feel and prize a congenial nature in this child.

Taking us into the house, he showed us the picture of his sister, repeating with much expression some lines of hers, and those so famous of his about her, beginning, "Five years," &c.; also his own picture, by Inman, of whom he spoke with esteem.

Mr. Wordsworth is fond of the hollyhock, a partiality scarcely deserved by the flower, but which marks the simplicity of his tastes. He had made a long avenue of them of all colors, from the crimson-brown to rose, straw-color, and white, and pleased himself with having made proselytes to a liking for them among his neighbors.

I never have seen such magnificent fuchsias as at Ambleside, and there was one to be seen in every cottage-yard. They are no longer here under the shelter of the green-house, as with us, and as they used to be in England. The plant, from its grace and finished elegance, being a great favorite of mine, I should like to see it as frequently and of as luxuriant a growth at home, and asked their mode of culture, which I here mark down, for the benefit of all who may be interested. Make a bed of bog-earth and sand, put down slips of the fuchsia, and give them a great deal of water,—this is all they need. People have them out here in winter, but perhaps they would not bear the cold of our Januaries.

Mr. Wordsworth spoke with, more liberality than we expected of the recent measures about the Corn Laws, saying that "the principle was certainly right, though as to whether existing interests had been as carefully attended to as was just, he was not prepared to say." His neighbors were pleased to hear of his speaking thus mildly, and hailed it as a sign that he was opening his mind to more light on these subjects. They lament that his habits of seclusion keep him much ignorant of the real wants of England and the world. Living in this region, which is cultivated [pg 133] by small proprietors, where there is little poverty, vice, or misery, he hears not the voice which cries so loudly from other parts of England, and will not be stilled by sweet poetic suasion or philosophy, for it is the cry of men in the jaws of destruction.

It was pleasant to find the reverence inspired by this great and pure mind warmest nearest home. Our landlady, in heaping praises upon him, added, constantly, "And Mrs. Wordsworth, too." "Do the people here," said I, "value Mr. Wordsworth most because he is a celebrated writer?" "Truly, madam," said she, "I think it is because he is so kind a neighbor."

"True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home."

Dr. Arnold, too,—who lived, as his family still live, here,—diffused the same ennobling and animating spirit among those who knew him in private, as through the sphere of his public labors.

Miss Martineau has here a charming residence; it has been finished only a few months, but all about it is in unexpectedly fair order, and promises much beauty after a year or two of growth. Here we found her restored to full health and activity, looking, indeed, far better than she did when in the United States. It was pleasant to see her in this home, presented to her by the gratitude of England for her course of energetic and benevolent effort, and adorned by tributes of affection and esteem from many quarters. From the testimony of those who were with her in and since her illness, her recovery would seem to be of as magical quickness and sure progress as has been represented. At the house of Miss Martineau I saw Milman, the author, I must not say poet,—a specimen of the polished, scholarly man of the world.

We passed one most delightful day in a visit to Langdale,—the scene of "The Excursion,"—and to Dungeon-Ghyll Force. I am finishing my letter at Carlisle on my way to Scotland, and will give a slight sketch of that excursion, and one which occupied another day, from Keswick to Buttermere and Crummock Water, in my next.

[pg 134]

 

LETTER III.

Westmoreland.—Langdale.—Dungeon-Ghyll Force.—Keswick.—Carlisle.—Branxholm.—Scott.—Burns.

Edinburgh, 20th September, 1846.

I have too long delayed writing up my journal.—Many interesting observations slip from recollection if one waits so many days: yet, while travelling, it is almost impossible to find an hour when something of value to be seen will not be lost while writing.

I said, in closing my last, that I would write a little more about Westmoreland; but so much, has happened since, that I must now dismiss that region with all possible brevity.

The first day of which I wished to speak was passed in visiting Langdale, the scene of Wordsworth's "Excursion." Our party of eight went in two of the vehicles called cars or droskas,—open carriages, each drawn by one horse. They are rather fatiguing to ride in, but good to see from. In steep and stony places all alight, and the driver leads the horse: so many of these there are, that we were four or five hours in going ten miles, including the pauses when we wished to look.

The scenes through which we passed are, indeed, of the most wild and noble character. The wildness is not savage, but very calm. Without recurring to details, I recognized the tone and atmosphere of that noble poem, which was to me, at a feverish period in my life, as pure waters, free breezes, and cold blue sky, bringing a sense of eternity that gave an aspect of composure to the rudest volcanic wrecks of time.

We dined at a farm-house of the vale, with its stone floors, old carved cabinet (the pride of a house of this sort), and ready provision [pg 135] of oaten cakes. We then ascended a near hill to the waterfall called Dungeon-Ghyll Force, also a subject touched by Wordsworth's Muse. You wind along a path for a long time, hearing the sound of the falling water, but do not see it till, descending by a ladder the side of the ravine, you come to its very foot. You find yourself then in a deep chasm, bridged over by a narrow arch of rock; the water falls at the farther end in a narrow column. Looking up, you see the sky through a fissure so narrow as to make it look very pure and distant. One of our party, passing in, stood some time at the foot of the waterfall, and added much to its effect, as his height gave a measure by which to appreciate that of surrounding objects, and his look, by that light so pale and statuesque, seemed to inform the place with the presence of its genius.

Our circuit homeward from this grand scene led us through some lovely places, and to an outlook upon the most beautiful part of Westmoreland. Passing over to Keswick we saw Derwentwater, and near it the Fall of Lodore. It was from Keswick that we made the excursion of a day through Borrowdale to Buttermere and Crummock Water, which I meant to speak of, but find it impossible at this moment. The mind does not now furnish congenial colors with which to represent the vision of that day: it must still wait in the mind and bide its time, again to emerge to outer air.

At Keswick we went to see a model of the Lake country which gives an excellent idea of the relative positions of all objects. Its maker had given six years to the necessary surveys and drawings. He said that he had first become acquainted with the country from his taste for fishing, but had learned to love its beauty, till the thought arose of making this model; that while engaged in it, he visited almost every spot amid the hills, and commonly saw both sunrise and sunset upon them; that he was happy all the time, but almost too happy when he saw one section of his model coming out quite right, and felt sure at last that he should be quite successful in representing to others the home of his thoughts. I looked upon him as indeed an enviable man, to [pg 136] have a profession so congenial with his feelings, in which he had been so naturally led to do what would be useful and pleasant for others.

Passing from Keswick through a pleasant and cultivated country, we paused at "fair Carlisle," not voluntarily, but because we could not get the means of proceeding farther that day. So, as it was one in which

"The sun shone fair on Carlisle wall,"

we visited its Cathedral and Castle, and trod, for the first time, in some of the footsteps of the unfortunate Queen of Scots.

Passing next day the Border, we found the mosses all drained, and the very existence of sometime moss-troopers would have seemed problematical, but for the remains of Gilnockie,—the tower of Johnnie Armstrong, so pathetically recalled in one of the finest of the Scottish ballads. Its size, as well as that of other keeps, towers, and castles, whose ruins are reverentially preserved in Scotland, gives a lively sense of the time when population was so scanty, and individual manhood grew to such force. Ten men in Gilnockie were stronger then in proportion to the whole, and probably had in them more of intelligence, resource, and genuine manly power, than ten regiments now of red-coats drilled to act out manoeuvres they do not understand, and use artillery which needs of them no more than the match to go off and do its hideous message.

Farther on we saw Branxholm, and the water in crossing which the Goblin Page was obliged to resume his proper shape and fly, crying, "Lost, lost, lost!" Verily these things seem more like home than one's own nursery, whose toys and furniture could not in actual presence engage the thoughts like these pictures, made familiar as household words by the most generous, kindly genius that ever blessed this earth.

On the coach with us was a gentleman coming from London to make his yearly visit to the neighborhood of Burns, in which he was born. "I can now," said he, "go but once a year; when a boy, I never let a week pass without visiting the house of Burns." [pg 137] He afterward observed, as every step woke us to fresh recollections of Walter Scott, that Scott, with all his vast range of talent, knowledge, and activity, was a poet of the past only, and in his inmost heart wedded to the habits of a feudal aristocracy, while Burns is the poet of the present and the future, the man of the people, and throughout a genuine man. This is true enough; but for my part I cannot endure a comparison which by a breath of coolness depreciates either. Both were wanted; each acted the important part assigned him by destiny with a wonderful thoroughness and completeness. Scott breathed the breath just fleeting from the forms of ancient Scottish heroism and poesy into new,—he made for us the bridge by which we have gone into the old Ossianic hall and caught the meaning just as it was about to pass from us for ever. Burns is full of the noble, genuine democracy which seeks not to destroy royalty, but to make all men kings, as he himself was, in nature and in action. They belong to the same world; they are pillars of the same church, though they uphold its starry roof from opposite sides. Burns was much the rarer man; precisely because he had most of common nature on a grand scale; his humor, his passion, his sweetness, are all his own; they need no picturesque or romantic accessories to give them due relief: looked at by all lights they are the same. Since Adam, there has been none that approached nearer fitness to stand up before God and angels in the naked majesty of manhood than Robert Burns;—but there was a serpent in his field also! Yet but for his fault we could never have seen brought out the brave and patriotic modesty with which he owned it. Shame on him who could bear to think of fault in this rich jewel, unless reminded by such confession.

We passed Abbotsford without stopping, intending to go there on our return. Last year five hundred Americans inscribed their names in its porter's book. A raw-boned Scotsman, who gathered his weary length into our coach on his return from a pilgrimage thither, did us the favor to inform us that "Sir Walter was a vara intelligent mon," and the guide-book mentions "the American [pg 138] Washington" as "a worthy old patriot." Lord safe us, cummers, what news be there!

This letter, meant to go by the Great Britain, many interruptions force me to close, unflavored by one whiff from the smoke of Auld Reekie. More and better matter shall my next contain, for here and in the Highlands I have passed three not unproductive weeks, of which more anon.

[pg 139]

 

LETTER IV.

Edinburgh, Old and New.—Scott and Burns.—Dr. Andrew Combe.—American Re-publishing.—The Bookselling Trade.—The Messrs. Chambers.—De Quincey the Opium-Eater.—Dr. Chalmers.

Edinburgh, September 22d, 1846.

The beautiful and stately aspect of this city has been the theme of admiration so general that I can only echo it. We have seen it to the greatest advantage both from Calton Hill and Arthur's Seat, and our lodgings in Princess Street allow us a fine view of the Castle, always impressive, but peculiarly so in the moonlit evenings of our first week here, when a veil of mist added to its apparent size, and at the same time gave it the air with which Martin, in his illustrations of "Paradise Lost," has invested the palace which "rose like an exhalation."

On this our second visit, after an absence of near a fortnight in the Highlands, we are at a hotel nearly facing the new monument to Scott, and the tallest buildings of the Old Town. From my windows I see the famous Kirk, the spot where the old Tolbooth was, and can almost distinguish that where Porteous was done to death, and other objects described in the most dramatic part of "The Heart of Mid-Lothian." In one of these tall houses Hume wrote part of his History of England, and on this spot still nearer was the home of Allan Ramsay. A thousand other interesting and pregnant associations present themselves every time I look out of the window.

In the open square between us and the Old Town is to be the terminus of the railroad, but as the building will be masked with trees, it is thought it will not mar the beauty of the place; yet [pg 140] Scott could hardly have looked without regret upon an object that marks so distinctly the conquest of the New over the Old, and, appropriately enough, his statue has its back turned that way. The effect of the monument to Scott is pleasing, though without strict unity of thought or original beauty of design. The statue is too much hid within the monument, and wants that majesty of repose in the attitude and drapery which a sitting figure should have, and which might well accompany the massive head of Scott. Still the monument is an ornament and an honor to the city. This is now the fourth that has been erected within two years to commemorate the triumphs of genius. Monuments that have risen from the same idea, and in such quick succession, to Schiller, to Goethe, to Beethoven, and to Scott, signalize the character of the new era still more happily than does the railroad coming up almost to the foot of Edinburgh Castle.

The statue of Burns has been removed from the monument erected in his honor, to one of the public libraries, as being there more accessible to the public. It is, however, entirely unworthy its subject, giving the idea of a smaller and younger person, while we think of Burns as of a man in the prime of manhood, one who not only promised, but was, and with a sunny glow and breadth, of character of which this stone effigy presents no sign.

A Scottish gentleman told me the following story, which would afford the finest subject for a painter capable of representing the glowing eye and natural kingliness of Burns, in contrast to the poor, mean puppets he reproved.

Burns, still only in the dawn of his celebrity, was invited to dine with one of the neighboring so-called gentry (unhappily quite void of true gentle blood). On arriving he found his plate set in the servants' room!! After dinner he was invited into a room where guests were assembled, and, a chair being placed for him at the lower end of the board, a glass of wine was offered, and he was requested to sing one of his songs for the entertainment of the company. He drank off the wine, and thundered forth in reply his grand song, "For a' that and a' that," with which it will do no harm to refresh the memories of our readers, for we [pg 141] doubt there may be, even in Republican America, those who need the reproof as much, and with far less excuse, than had that Scottish company.

"Is there, for honest poverty,

That hangs his head, and a' that?

The coward slave, we pass him by,

We dare be poor for a' that!

For a' that, and a' that,

Our toils obscure, and a' that,

The rank is but the guinea's stamp,

The man's the gowd for a' that.

"What tho' on hamely fare we dine,

Wear hoddin gray, and a' that;

Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,

A man 's a man for a' that!

For a' that, and a' that,

Their tinsel show, and a' that,

The honest man, though, e'er sae poor

Is king o' men for a' that.

"Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,

Wha struts, and stares, and a' that;

Tho' hundreds worship at his word,

He's but a coof for a' that;

For a' that, and a' that,

His ribbon, star, and a' that,

The man of independent mind,

He looks and laughs at a' that.

"A prince can make a belted knight,

A marquis, duke, and a' that;

But an honest man's aboon his might

Guid faith, he maunna fa' that!

For a' that, and a' that,

Their dignities, and a' that,

The pith o' sense and pride o' worth

Are higher ranks than a' that.

"Then let us pray that, come it may,

As come it will for a' that,

That sense and worth, o'er a' the earth,

May bear the gree, and a' that;

For a' that, and a' that,

It's coming yet for a' that,

That man to man, the wide warld o'er,

Shall brothers be for a' that."

[pg 142] And, having finished this prophecy and prayer, Nature's nobleman left his churlish entertainers to hide their diminished heads in the home they had disgraced.

We have seen all the stock lions. The Regalia people still crowd to see, though the old natural feelings from which they so long lay hidden seem almost extinct. Scotland grows English day by day. The libraries of the Advocates, Writers to the Signet, &c., are fine establishments. The University and schools are now in vacation; we are compelled by unwise postponement of our journey to see both Edinburgh and London at the worst possible season. We should have been here in April, there in June. There is always enough to see, but now we find a majority of the most interesting persons absent, and a stagnation in the intellectual movements of the place.

We had, however, the good fortune to find Dr. Andrew Combe, who, though a great invalid, was able and disposed for conversation at this time. I was impressed with great and affectionate respect by the benign and even temper of his mind, his extensive and accurate knowledge, accompanied, as such should naturally be, by a large and intelligent liberality. Of our country he spoke very wisely and hopefully, though among other stories with which we, as Americans, are put to the blush here, there is none worse than that of the conduct of some of our publishers toward him. One of these stories I had heard in New York, but supposed it to be exaggerated till I had it from the best authority. It is of one of our leading houses who were publishing on their own account and had stereotyped one of his works from an early edition. When this work had passed through other editions and he had for years been busy in reforming and amending it, he applied to this house to republish from the later and better edition. They refused. In vain he urged that it was not only for his own reputation as an author that he was anxious, but for the good of the great country through which writings on such, important subjects were to be circulated, that they might have the benefit of his labors and best knowledge. Such arguments on the stupid and mercenary tempers of those [pg 143] addressed fell harmless as on a buffalo's hide might a gold-tipped arrow. The book, they thought, answered THEIR purpose sufficiently, for IT SELLS. Other purpose for a book they knew none. And as to the natural rights of an author over the fruits of his mind, the distilled essence of a life consumed in the severities of mental labor, they had never heard of such a thing. His work was in the market, and he had no more to do with it, that they could see, than the silkworm with the lining of one of their coats.

Mr. Greeley, the more I look at this subject, the more I must maintain, in opposition to your views, that the publisher cannot, if a mere tradesman, be a man of honor. It is impossible in the nature of things. He must have some idea of the nature and value of literary labor, or he is wholly unfit to deal with its products. He cannot get along by occasional recourse to paid critics or readers; he must himself have some idea what he is about. One partner, at least, in the firm, must be a man of culture. All must understand enough to appreciate their position, and know that he who, for his sordid aims, circulates poisonous trash amid a great and growing people, and makes it almost impossible for those whom Heaven has appointed as its instructors to do their office, are the worst of traitors, and to be condemned at the bar of nations under a sentence no less severe than false statesmen and false priests. This matter should and must be looked to more conscientiously.

Dr. Combe, repelled by all this indifference to conscience and natural equity in the firm who had taken possession of his work, applied to others. But here he found himself at once opposed by the invisible barrier that makes this sort of tyranny so strong and so pernicious. "It was the understanding among the trade that they were not to interfere with one another; indeed, they could have no chance," &c., &c. When at last he did get the work republished in another part of the country less favorable for his purposes, the bargain made as to the pecuniary part of the transaction was in various ways so evaded, that, up to this time, he has received no compensation from that widely-circulated work, except a lock of Spurzheim's hair!!

[pg 144]

I was pleased to hear the true view expressed by one of the Messrs. Chambers. These brothers have worked their way up to wealth and influence by daily labor and many steps. One of them is more the business man, the other the literary curator of their Journal. Of this Journal they issue regularly eighty thousand copies, and it is doing an excellent work, by awakening among the people a desire for knowledge, and, to a considerable extent, furnishing them with good materials. I went over their fine establishment, where I found more than a hundred and fifty persons, in good part women, employed, all in well-aired, well-lighted rooms, seemingly healthy and content. Connected with the establishment is a Savings Bank, and evening instruction in writing, singing, and arithmetic. There was also a reading-room, and the same valuable and liberal provision we had found attached to some of the Manchester warehouses. Such accessories dignify and gladden all kinds of labor, and show somewhat of the true spirit of human brotherhood in the employer. Mr. Chambers said he trusted they should never look on publishing chiefly as business, or a lucrative and respectable employment, but as the means of mental and moral benefit to their countrymen. To one so wearied and disgusted as I have been by vulgar and base avowals on such subjects, it was very refreshing to hear this from the lips of a successful publisher.

Dr. Combe spoke with high praise of Mr. Hurlbart's book, "Human Rights and their Political Guaranties," which was published at the Tribune office. He observed that it was the work of a real thinker, and extremely well written. It is to be republished here. Dr. Combe said that it must make its way slowly, as it could interest those only who were willing to read thoughtfully; but its success was sure at last.

He also spoke with, great interest and respect of Mrs. Farnham, of whose character and the influence she has exerted on the female prisoners at Sing Sing he had heard some account.

A person of a quite different character and celebrity is De Quincey, the English Opium-Eater, and who lately has delighted us again with the papers in Blackwood headed "Suspiria de [pg 145] Profundis." I had the satisfaction, not easily attainable now, of seeing him for some hours, and in the mood of conversation. As one belonging to the Wordsworth, and Coleridge constellation, (he too is now seventy-six years of age,) the thoughts and knowledge of Mr. De Quincey lie in the past; and oftentimes he spoke of matters now become trite to one of a later culture. But to all that fell from his lips, his eloquence, subtile and forcible as the wind, full and gently falling as the evening dew, lent a peculiar charm. He is an admirable narrator, not rapid, but gliding along like a rivulet through a green meadow, giving and taking a thousand little beauties not absolutely required to give his story due relief, but each, in itself, a separate boon.

I admired, too, his urbanity, so opposite to the rapid, slang, Vivian-Greyish style current in the literary conversation of the day. "Sixty years since," men had time to do things better and more gracefully than now.

With Dr. Chalmers we passed a couple of hours. He is old now, but still full of vigor and fire. We had an opportunity of hearing a fine burst of indignant eloquence from him. "I shall blush to my very bones," said he, "if the Chaarrch"—(sound these two rr's with as much burr as possible and you will get at an idea of his mode of pronouncing that unweariable word)—"if the Chaarrch yields to the storm." He alluded to the outcry now raised against the Free Church by the Abolitionists, whose motto is, "Send back the money," i.e. money taken from the American slaveholders. Dr. Chalmers felt that, if they did not yield from conviction, they must not to assault. His manner of speaking on this subject gave me an idea of the nature of his eloquence. He seldom preaches now.

A fine picture was presented by the opposition of figure and lineaments between a young Indian, son of the celebrated Dwarkanauth Tagore, who happened to be there that morning, and Dr. Chalmers, as they were conversing together. The swarthy, half-timid, yet elegant face and form of the Indian made a fine contrast with the florid, portly, yet intellectually luminous appearance [pg 146] of the Doctor; half shepherd, half orator, he looked a Shepherd King opposed to some Arabian story-teller.

I saw others in Edinburgh of a later date who haply gave more valuable as well as fresher revelations of the spirit, and whose names may be by and by more celebrated than those I have cited; but for the present this must suffice. It would take a week, if I wrote half I saw or thought in Edinburgh, and I must close for to-day.

[pg 147]

 

LETTER V.

Perth.—Travelling by Coach.—Loch Leven.—Queen Mary.—Loch Katrine.—The Trosachs.—Rowardennan.—A Night on Ben Lomond.—Scotch Peasantry.

Birmingham, September 30th, 1846.

I was obliged to stop writing at Edinburgh before the better half of my tale was told, and must now begin there again, to speak of an excursion into the Highlands, which occupied about a fortnight.

We left Edinburgh, by coach for Perth, and arrived there about three in the afternoon. I have reason to be very glad that I visit this island before the reign of the stage-coach is quite over. I have been constantly on the top of the coach, even one day of drenching rain, and enjoy it highly. Nothing can be more inspiring than this swift, steady progress over such smooth roads, and placed so high as to overlook the country freely, with the lively flourish of the horn preluding every pause. Travelling by railroad is, in my opinion, the most stupid process on earth; it is sleep without the refreshment of sleep, for the noise of the train makes it impossible either to read, talk, or sleep to advantage. But here the advantages are immense; you can fly through this dull trance from one beautiful place to another, and stay at each during the time that would otherwise be spent on the road. Already the artists, who are obliged to find their home in London, rejoice that all England is thrown open to them for sketching-ground, since they can now avail themselves of a day's leisure at a great distance, and with choice of position, whereas formerly they were obliged to confine themselves to a few "green, and bowery" spots in the neighborhood of the metropolis. But while in [pg 148] the car, it is to me that worst of purgatories, the purgatory of dulness.

Well, on the coach we went to Perth, and passed through Kinross, and saw Loch Leven, and the island where Queen Mary passed those sorrowful months, before her romantic escape under care of the Douglas. As this unhappy, lovely woman stands for a type in history, death, time, and distance do not destroy her attractive power. Like Cleopatra, she has still her adorers; nay, some are born to her in each new generation of men. Lately she has for her chevalier the Russian Prince Labanoff, who has spent fourteen years in studying upon all that related to her, and thinks now that he can make out a story and a picture about the mysteries of her short reign, which shall satisfy the desire of her lovers to find her as pure and just as she was charming. I have only seen of his array of evidence so much, as may be found in the pages of Chambers's Journal, but that much does not disturb the original view I have taken of the case; which is, that from a princess educated under the Medici and Guise influence, engaged in the meshes of secret intrigue to favor the Roman Catholic faith, her tacit acquiescence, at least, in the murder of Darnley, after all his injurious conduct toward her, was just what was to be expected. From a poor, beautiful young woman, longing to enjoy life, exposed both by her position and her natural fascinations to the utmost bewilderment of flattery, whether prompted by interest or passion, her other acts of folly are most natural, and let all who feel inclined harshly to condemn her remember to

"Gently scan your brother man,

Still gentler sister woman."

Surely, in all the stern pages of life's account-book there is none on which a more terrible price is exacted for every precious endowment. Her rank and reign only made her powerless to do good, and exposed her to danger; her talents only served to irritate her foes and disappoint her friends. This most charming of women was the destruction of her lovers: married three times, she had never any happiness as a wife, but in both the connections [pg 149] of her choice found that she had either never possessed or could not retain, even for a few weeks, the love of the men she had chosen, so that Darnley was willing to risk her life and that of his unborn child to wreak his wrath upon Rizzio, and after a few weeks with Bothwell she was heard "calling aloud for a knife to kill herself with." A mother twice, and of a son and daughter, both the children were brought forth in loneliness and sorrow, and separated from her early, her son educated to hate her, her daughter at once immured in a convent. Add the eighteen years of her imprisonment, and the fact that this foolish, prodigal world, when there was in it one woman fitted by her grace and loveliness to charm all eyes and enliven all fancies, suffered her to be shut up to water with her tears her dull embroidery during all the full rose-blossom of her life, and you will hardly get beyond this story for a tragedy, not noble, but pallid and forlorn.

Such were the bootless, best thoughts I had while looking at the dull blood-stain and blocked-up secret stair of Holyrood, at the ruins of Loch Leven castle, and afterward at Abbotsford, where the picture of Queen Mary's head, as it lay on the pillow when severed from the block, hung opposite to a fine caricature of "Queen Elizabeth dancing high and disposedly." In this last the face is like a mask, so frightful is the expression of cold craft, irritated, vanity, and the malice of a lonely breast in contrast with the attitude and elaborate frippery of the dress. The ambassador looks on dismayed; the little page can scarcely control the laughter which swells his boyish cheeks. Such can win the world which, better hearts (and such Mary's was, even if it had a large black speck in it) are most like to lose.

That was a most lovely day on which we entered Perth, and saw in full sunshine its beautiful meadows, among them the North-Inch, the famous battle-ground commemorated in "The Fair Maid of Perth," adorned with graceful trees like those of the New England country towns. In the afternoon we visited the modern Kinfauns, the stately home of Lord Grey. The drive to it is most beautiful, on the one side the Park, with noble heights that skirt it, on the other through a belt of trees was seen the [pg 150] river and the sweep of that fair and cultivated country. The house is a fine one, and furnished with taste, the library large, and some good works in marble. Among the family pictures one arrested my attention,—the face of a girl full of the most pathetic sensibility, and with no restraint of convention upon its ardent, gentle expression. She died young.

Returning, we were saddened, as almost always on leaving any such place, by seeing such swarms of dirty women and dirtier children at the doors of the cottages almost close by the gate of the avenue. To the horrors and sorrows of the streets in such places as Liverpool, Glasgow, and, above all, London, one has to grow insensible or die daily; but here in the sweet, fresh, green country, where there seems to be room for everybody, it is impossible to forget the frightful inequalities between the lot of man and man, or believe that God can smile upon a state of things such as we find existent here. Can any man who has seen these things dare blame the Associationists for their attempt to find prevention against such misery and wickedness in our land? Rather will not every man of tolerable intelligence and good feeling commend, say rather revere, every earnest attempt in that direction, nor dare interfere with any, unless he has a better to offer in its place?

Next morning we passed on to Crieff, in whose neighborhood we visited Drummond Castle, the abode, or rather one of the abodes, of Lord Willoughby D'Eresby. It has a noble park, through which you pass by an avenue of two miles long. The old keep is still ascended to get the fine view of the surrounding country; and during Queen Victoria's visit, her Guards were quartered there. But what took my fancy most was the old-fashioned garden, full of old shrubs and new flowers, with its formal parterres in the shape of the family arms, and its clipped yew and box trees. It was fresh from a shower, and now glittering and fragrant in bright sunshine.

This afternoon we pursued our way, passing through the plantations of Ochtertyre, a far more charming place to my taste than Drummond Castle, freer and more various in its features. Five [pg 151] or six of these fine places lie in the neighborhood of Crieff, and the traveller may give two or three days to visiting them with a rich reward of delight. But we were pressing on to be with the lakes and mountains rather, and that night brought us to St. Fillan's, where we saw the moon shining on Loch Earn.

All this region, and that of Loch Katrine and the Trosachs, which we reached next day, Scott has described exactly in "The Lady of the Lake"; nor is it possible to appreciate that poem, without going thither, neither to describe the scene better than he has done after you have seen it. I was somewhat disappointed in the pass of the Trosachs itself; it is very grand, but the grand part lasts so little while. The opening view of Loch Katrine, however, surpassed, expectation. It was late in the afternoon when we launched our little boat there for Ellen's isle.

The boatmen recite, though not con molto espressione, the parts of the poem which describe these localities. Observing that they spoke of the personages, too, with the same air of confidence, we asked if they were sure that all this really happened. They replied, "Certainly; it had been told from father to son through so many generations." Such is the power of genius to interpolate what it will into the regular log-book of Time's voyage.

Leaving Loch Katrine the following day, we entered Rob Roy's country, and saw on the way the house where Helen MacGregor was born, and Rob Roy's sword, which is shown in a house by the way-side.

We came in a row-boat up Loch Katrine, though both on that and Loch Lomond you may go in a hateful little steamer with a squeaking fiddle to play Rob Roy MacGregor O. I walked almost all the way through the pass from Loch Katrine to Loch Lomond; it was a distance of six miles; but you feel as if you could walk sixty in that pure, exhilarating air. At Inversnaid we took boat again to go down Loch Lomond to the little inn of Rowardennan, from which the ascent is made of Ben Lomond, the greatest elevation in these parts. The boatmen are fine, athletic men; one of those with us this evening, a handsome young man of two or three and twenty, sang to us some Gaelic [pg 152] songs. The first, a very wild and plaintive air, was the expostulation of a girl whose lover has deserted her and married another. It seems he is ashamed, and will not even look at her when they meet upon the road. She implores him, if he has not forgotten all that scene of bygone love, at least to lift up his eyes and give her one friendly glance. The sad crooning burden of the stanzas in which she repeats this request was very touching. When the boatman had finished, he hung his head and seemed ashamed of feeling the song too much; then, when we asked for another, he said he would sing another about a girl that was happy. This one was in three parts. First, a tuneful address from a maiden to her absent lover; second, his reply, assuring her of his fidelity and tenderness; third, a strain which expresses their joy when reunited. I thought this boatman had sympathies which would prevent his tormenting any poor women, and perhaps make some one happy, and this was a pleasant thought, since probably in the Highlands, as elsewhere,

"Maidens lend an ear too oft

To the careless wooer;

Maidens' hearts are always soft;

Would that men's were truer!"

I don't know that I quote the words correctly, but that is the sum and substance of a masculine report on these matters.

The first day at Rowardennan not being propitious for ascending the mountain, we went down the lake to sup, and got very tired in various ways, so that we rose very late next morning. Their we found a day of ten thousand for our purpose; but unhappily a large party had come with the sun and engaged all the horses, so that, if we went, it must be on foot. This was something of an enterprise for me, as the ascent is four miles, and toward the summit quite fatiguing; however, in the pride of newly gained health and strength, I was ready, and set forth with Mr. S. alone. We took no guide,—and the people of the house did not advise it, as they ought. They told us afterward they thought the day was so clear that there was no probability of danger, and they were afraid of seeming mercenary about it. It was, however, wrong, [pg 153] as they knew what we did not, that even the shepherds, if a mist comes on, can be lost in these hills; that a party of gentlemen were so a few weeks before, and only by accident found their way to a house on the other side; and that a child which had been lost was not found for five days, long after its death. We, however, nothing doubting, set forth, ascending slowly, and often stopping to enjoy the points of view, which are many, for Ben Lomond consists of a congeries of hills, above which towers the true Ben, or highest peak, as the head of a many-limbed body.

On reaching the peak, the night was one of beauty and grandeur such as imagination never painted. You see around you no plain ground, but on every side constellations or groups of hills exquisitely dressed in the soft purple of the heather, amid which gleam the lakes, like eyes that tell the secrets of the earth and drink in those of the heavens. Peak beyond peak caught from the shifting light all the colors of the prism, and on the farthest, angel companies seemed hovering in their glorious white robes.

Words are idle on such subjects; what can I say, but that it was a noble vision, that satisfied the eye and stirred the imagination in all its secret pulses? Had that been, as afterward seemed likely, the last act of my life, there could not have been a finer decoration painted on the curtain which was to drop upon it.

About four o'clock we began our descent. Near the summit the traces of the path are not distinct, and I said to Mr. S., after a while, that we had lost it. He said, he thought that was of no consequence, we could find oar way down. I thought however it was, as the ground was full of springs that were bridged over in the pathway. He accordingly went to look for it, and I stood still because so tired that I did not like to waste any labor. Soon he called to me that he had found it, and I followed in the direction where he seemed to be. But I mistook, overshot it, and saw him no more. In about ten minutes I became alarmed, and called him many times. It seems he on his side did the same, but the brow of some hill was between us, and we neither saw nor heard one another.

I then thought I would make the best of my way down, and I [pg 154] should find him upon my arrival. But in doing so I found the justice of my apprehension about the springs, as, so soon as I got to the foot of the hills, I would sink up to my knees in bog, and have to go up the hills again, seeking better crossing-places. Thus I lost much time; nevertheless, in the twilight I saw at last the lake and the inn of Rowardennan on its shore.

Between me and it lay direct a high heathery hill, which I afterward found is called "The Tongue," because hemmed in on three sides by a watercourse. It looked as if, could I only get to the bottom of that, I should be on comparatively level ground. I then attempted to descend in the watercourse, but, finding that impracticable, climbed on the hill again and let myself down by the heather, for it was very steep and full of deep holes. With great fatigue I got to the bottom, but when about to cross the watercourse there, it looked so deep in the dim twilight that I felt afraid. I got down as far as I could by the root of a tree, and threw down a stone; it sounded very hollow, and made me afraid to jump. The shepherds told me afterward, if I had, I should probably have killed myself, it was so deep and the bed of the torrent full of sharp stones.

I then tried to ascend the hill again, for there was no other way to get off it, but soon sunk down utterly exhausted. When able to get up again and look about me, it was completely dark. I saw far below me a light, that looked about as big as a pin's head, which I knew to be from the inn at Rowardennan, but heard no sound except the rush of the waterfall, and the sighing of the night-wind.

For the first few minutes after I perceived I had got to my night's lodging, such as it was, the prospect seemed appalling. I was very lightly clad,—my feet and dress were very wet,—I had only a little shawl to throw round me, and a cold autumn wind had already come, and the night-mist was to fall on me, all fevered and exhausted as I was. I thought I should not live through the night, or, if I did, live always a miserable invalid. There was no chance to keep myself warm by walking, for, now it was dark, it would be too dangerous to stir.

[pg 155]

My only chance, however, lay in motion, and my only help in myself, and so convinced was I of this, that I did keep in motion the whole of that long night, imprisoned as I was on such a little perch of that great mountain. How long it seemed under such circumstances only those can guess who may have been similarly circumstanced. The mental experience of the time, most precious and profound,—for it was indeed a season lonely, dangerous, and helpless enough for the birth of thoughts beyond what the common sunlight will ever call to being,—may be told in another place and time.

For about two hours I saw the stars, and very cheery and companionable they looked; but then the mist fell, and I saw nothing more, except such apparitions as visited Ossian on the hill-side when he went out by night and struck the bosky shield and called to him the spirits of the heroes and the white-armed maids with their blue eyes of grief. To me, too, came those visionary shapes; floating slowly and gracefully, their white robes would unfurl from the great body of mist in which they had been engaged, and come upon me with a kiss pervasively cold as that of death. What they might have told me, who knows, if I had but resigned myself more passively to that cold, spirit-like breathing!

At last the moon rose. I could not see her, but the silver light filled the mist. Then I knew it was two o'clock, and that, having weathered out so much of the night, I might the rest; and the hours hardly seemed long to me more.

It may give an idea of the extent of the mountain to say that, though I called every now and then with all my force, in case by chance some aid might be near, and though no less than twenty men with their dogs were looking for me, I never heard a sound except the rush of the waterfall and the sighing of the night-wind, and once or twice the startling of the grouse in the heather. It was sublime indeed,—a never-to-be-forgotten presentation of stern, serene realities.

At last came the signs of day, the gradual clearing and breaking up; some faint sounds, from I know not what. The little flies, too, arose from their bed amid the purple heather, and bit me; [pg 156] truly they were very welcome to do so. But what was my disappointment to find the mist so thick, that I could see neither lake nor inn, nor anything to guide me. I had to go by guess, and, as it happened, my Yankee method served me well. I ascended the hill, crossed the torrent in the waterfall, first drinking some of the water, which was as good at that time as ambrosia. I crossed in that place because the waterfall made steps, as it were, to the next hill; to be sure they were covered with water, but I was already entirely wet with the mist, so that it did not matter. I then kept on scrambling, as it happened, in the right direction, till, about seven, some of the shepherds found me. The moment they came, all my feverish strength departed, though, if unaided, I dare say it would have kept me up during the day; and they carried me home, where my arrival relieved my friends of distress far greater than I had undergone, for I had had my grand solitude, my Ossianic visions, and the pleasure of sustaining myself while they had only doubt amounting to anguish and a fruitless search through the night.

Entirely contrary to my expectations, I only suffered for this a few days, and was able to take a parting look at my prison, as I went down the lake, with feelings of complacency. It was a majestic-looking hill, that Tongue, with the deep ravines on either side, and the richest robe of heather I have seen anywhere.

Mr. S. gave all the men who were looking for me a dinner in the barn, and he and Mrs. S. ministered to them, and they talked of Burns, really the national writer, and known by them, apparently, as none other is, and of hair-breadth escapes by flood and fell. Afterwards they were all brought up to see me, and it was pleasing indeed to observe the good breeding and good, feeling with which they deported themselves on the occasion. Indeed, this adventure created quite an intimate feeling between us and the people there. I had been much pleased, with them before, in attending one of their dances, on account of the genuine independence and politeness of their conduct. They were willing and pleased to dance their Highland flings and strathspeys for our [pg 157] amusement, and did it as naturally and as freely as they would have offered the stranger the best chair.

All the rest must wait a while. I cannot economize time to keep up my record in any proportion with what happens, nor can I get out of Scotland on this page, as I had intended, without utterly slighting many gifts and graces.

[pg 158]

 

LETTER VI.

Inverary.—The Argyle Family.—Dumbarton.—Sunset on the Clyde.—Glasgow.—Dirt and Intellect.—Stirling.—"The Scottish Chiefs."—Stirling Castle.—The Tournament Ground.—Edinburgh.—James Simpson.—Infant Schools.—Free Baths.—Melrose.—Abbotsford.—Walter Scott.—Dryburgh Abbey.—Scott's Tomb.

Paris, November, 1846.

I am very sorry to leave such a wide gap between my letters, but I was inevitably prevented from finishing one that was begun for the steamer of the 4th of November. I then hoped to prepare one after my arrival here in time for the Hibernia, but a severe cold, caught on the way, unfitted me for writing. It is now necessary to retrace my steps a long way, or lose sight of several things it has seemed desirable to mention to friends in America, though I shall make out my narrative more briefly than if nearer the time of action.

If I mistake not, my last closed just as I was looking back on the hill where I had passed the night in all the miserable chill and amid the ghostly apparitions of a Scotch mist, but which looked in the morning truly beautiful, and (had I not known it too well to be deceived) alluring, in its mantle of rich pink heath, the tallest and most full of blossoms we anywhere saw, and with, the waterfall making music by its side, and sparkling in the morning sun.

Passing from Tarbet, we entered the grand and beautiful pass of Glencoe,—sublime with purple shadows with bright lights between, and in one place showing an exquisitely silent and lonely little lake. The wildness of the scene was heightened by the black [pg 159] Highland cattle feeding here and there. They looked much at home, too, in the park at Inverary, where I saw them next day. In Inverary I was disappointed. I found, indeed, the position of every object the same as indicated in the "Legend of Montrose," but the expression of the whole seemed unlike what I had fancied. The present abode of the Argyle family is a modern structure, and boasts very few vestiges of the old romantic history attached to the name. The park and look-out upon the lake are beautiful, but except from the brief pleasure derived from these, the old cross from Iona that stands in the market-place, and the drone of the bagpipe which lulled me to sleep at night playing some melancholy air, there was nothing to make me feel that it was "a far cry to Lochawe," but, on the contrary, I seemed in the very midst of the prosaic, the civilized world.

Leaving Inverary, we left that day the Highlands too, passing through. Hell Glen, a very wild and grand defile. Taking boat then on Loch Levy, we passed down the Clyde, stopping an hour or two on our way at Dumbarton. Nature herself foresaw the era of picture when she made and placed this rock: there is every preparation for the artist's stealing a little piece from her treasures to hang on the walls of a room. Here I saw the sword of "Wallace wight," shown by a son of the nineteenth century, who said that this hero lived about fifty years ago, and who did not know the height of this rock, in a cranny of which he lived, or at least ate and slept and "donned his clothes." From the top of the rock I saw sunset on the beautiful Clyde, animated that day by an endless procession of steamers, little skiffs, and boats. In one of the former, the Cardiff Castle, we embarked as the last light of day was fading, and that evening found ourselves in Glasgow.

I understand there is an intellectual society of high merit in Glasgow, but we were there only a few hours, and did not see any one. Certainly the place, as it may be judged of merely from the general aspect of the population and such objects as may be seen in the streets, more resembles an Inferno than any other we have yet visited. The people are more crowded together, and the stamp of squalid, stolid misery and degradation more obvious and [pg 160] appalling. The English and Scotch do not take kindly to poverty, like those of sunnier climes; it makes them fierce or stupid, and, life presenting no other cheap pleasure, they take refuge in drinking.

I saw here in Glasgow persons, especially women, dressed in dirty, wretched tatters, worse than none, and with an expression of listless, unexpecting woe upon their faces, far more tragic than the inscription over the gate of Dante's Inferno. To one species of misery suffered here to the last extent, I shall advert in speaking of London.

But from all these sorrowful tokens I by no means inferred the falsehood of the information, that here was to be found a circle rich in intellect and in aspiration. The manufacturing and commercial towns, burning focuses of grief and vice, are also the centres of intellectual life, as in forcing-beds the rarest flowers and fruits are developed by use of impure and repulsive materials. Where evil comes to an extreme, Heaven seems busy in providing means for the remedy. Glaring throughout Scotland and England is the necessity for the devoutest application of intellect and love to the cure of ills that cry aloud, and, without such application, erelong help must be sought by other means than words. Yet there is every reason to hope that those who ought to help are seriously, though, slowly, becoming alive to the imperative nature of this duty; so we must not cease to hope, even in the streets of Glasgow, and the gin-palaces of Manchester, and the dreariest recesses of London.

From Glasgow we passed to Stirling, like Dumbarton endeared to the mind which cherishes the memory of its childhood more by association with Miss Porter's Scottish Chiefs, than with "Snowdon's knight and Scotland's king." We reached the town too late to see the castle before the next morning, and I took up at the inn "The Scottish Chiefs," in which I had not read a word since ten or twelve years old. We are in the habit now of laughing when this book is named, as if it were a representative of what is most absurdly stilted or bombastic, but now, in reading, my maturer mind was differently impressed from what I expected, [pg 161] and the infatuation with which childhood and early youth regard this book and its companion, "Thaddeus of Warsaw," was justified. The characters and dialogue are, indeed, out of nature, but the sentiment that animates them is pure, true, and no less healthy than noble. Here is bad drawing, bad drama, but good music, to which the unspoiled heart will always echo, even when the intellect has learned to demand a better organ for its communication.

The castle of Stirling is as rich as any place in romantic associations. We were shown its dungeons and its Court of Lions, where, says tradition, wild animals, kept in the grated cells adjacent, were brought out on festival occasions to furnish entertainment for the court. So, while lords and ladies gay danced and sang above, prisoners pined and wild beasts starved below. This, at first blush, looks like a very barbarous state of things, but, on reflection, one does not find that we have outgrown it in our present so-called state of refined civilization, only the present way of expressing the same facts is a little different. Still lords and ladies dance and sing, unknowing or uncaring that the laborers who minister to their luxuries starve or are turned into wild beasts. Man need not boast his condition, methinks, till he can weave his costly tapestry without the side that is kept under looking thus sadly.

The tournament ground is still kept green and in beautiful order, near Stirling castle, as a memento of the olden time, and as we passed away down the beautiful Firth, a turn of the river gave us a very advantageous view of it. So gay it looked, so festive in the bright sunshine, one almost seemed to see the graceful forms of knight and noble pricking their good steeds to the encounter, or the stalwart Douglas, vindicating his claim to be indeed a chief by conquest in the rougher sports of the yeomanry.

Passing along the Firth to Edinburgh, we again passed two or three days in that beautiful city, which I could not be content to leave so imperfectly seen, if I had not some hope of revisiting it when the bright lights that adorn it are concentred there. In summer almost every one is absent. I was very fortunate to see [pg 162] as many interesting persons as I did. On this second visit I saw James Simpson, a well-known philanthropist, and leader in the cause of popular education. Infant schools have been an especial care of his, and America as well as Scotland has received the benefit of his thoughts on this subject. His last good work has been to induce the erection of public baths in Edinburgh, and the working people of that place, already deeply in his debt for the lectures he has been unwearied in delivering for their benefit, have signified their gratitude by presenting him with a beautiful model of a fountain in silver as an ornament to his study. Never was there a place where such a measure would be more important; if cleanliness be akin to godliness, Edinburgh stands at great disadvantage in her devotions. The impure air, the terrific dirt which surround the working people, must make all progress in higher culture impossible; and I saw nothing which seemed to me so likely to have results of incalculable good, as this practical measure of the Simpsons in support of the precept,

"Wash and be clean every whit."

We returned into England by the way of Melrose, not content to leave Scotland without making our pilgrimage to Abbotsford. The universal feeling, however, has made this pilgrimage so common that there is nothing left for me to say; yet, though I had read a hundred descriptions, everything seemed new as I went over this epitome of the mind and life of Scott. As what constitutes the great man is more commonly some extraordinary combination and balance of qualities, than the highest development of any one, so you cannot but here be struck anew by the singular combination in Scott's mind of love for the picturesque and romantic with the plainest common sense,—a delight in heroic excess with the prudential habit of order. Here the most pleasing order pervades emblems of what men commonly esteem disorder and excess.

Amid the exquisite beauty of the ruins of Dryburgh, I saw with regret that Scott's body rests in almost the only spot that is not green, and cannot well be made so, for the light does not [pg 163] reach it. That is not a fit couch for him who dressed so many dim and time-worn relics with living green.

Always cheerful and beneficent, Scott seemed to the common eye in like measure prosperous and happy, up to the last years, and the chair in which, under the pressure of the sorrows which led to his death, he was propped up to write when brain and eye and hand refused their aid, the product remaining only as a guide to the speculator as to the workings of the mind in case of insanity or approaching imbecility, would by most persons be viewed as the only saddening relic of his career. Yet when I recall some passages in the Lady of the Lake, and the Address to his Harp, I cannot doubt that Scott had the full share of bitter in his cup, and feel the tender hope that we do about other gentle and generous guardians and benefactors of our youth, that in a nobler career they are now fulfilling still higher duties with serener mind. Doubtless too they are trusting in us that we will try to fill their places with kindly deeds, ardent thoughts, nor leave the world, in their absence,

"A dim, vast vale of tears,

Vacant and desolate."

[pg 164]

 

LETTER VII.

Newcastle.—Descent into a Coal-Mine.—York with its Minster.—Sheffield.—Chatsworth.—Warwick Castle.—Leamington and Stratford.—Shakespeare.—Birmingham.—George Dawson.—James Martineau.—W.J. Fox.—W.H. Charming and Theodore Parker.—London and Paris.

Paris, 1846.

We crossed the moorland in a heavy rain, and reached Newcastle late at night. Next day we descended into a coal-mine; it was quite an odd sensation to be taken off one's feet and dropped down into darkness by the bucket. The stables under ground had a pleasant Gil-Blas air, though the poor horses cannot like it much; generally they see the light of day no more after they have once been let down into these gloomy recesses, but pass their days in dragging cars along the rails of the narrow passages, and their nights in eating hay and dreaming of grass!! When we went down, we meant to go along the gallery to the place where the miners were then at work, but found this was a walk of a mile and a half, and, beside the weariness of picking one's steps slowly along by the light of a tallow candle, too wet and dirty an enterprise to be undertaken by way of amusement; so, after proceeding half a mile or so, we begged to be restored to our accustomed level, and reached it with minds slightly edified and face and hands much blackened.

Passing thence we saw York with its Minster, that dream of beauty realized. From, its roof I saw two rainbows, overarching that lovely country. Through its aisles I heard grand music pealing. But how sorrowfully bare is the interior of such a cathedral, despoiled of the statues, the paintings, and the garlands [pg 165] that belong to the Catholic religion! The eye aches for them. Such a church is ruined by Protestantism; its admirable exterior seems that of a sepulchre; there is no correspondent life within.

Within the citadel, a tower half ruined and ivy-clad, is life that has been growing up while the exterior bulwarks of the old feudal time crumbled to ruin. George Fox, while a prisoner at York for obedience to the dictates of his conscience, planted here a walnut, and the tall tree that grew from it still "bears testimony" to his living presence on that spot. The tree is old, but still bears nuts; one of them was taken away by my companions, and may perhaps be the parent of a tree somewhere in America, that shall shade those who inherit the spirit, if they do not attach importance to the etiquettes, of Quakerism.

In Sheffield I saw the sooty servitors tending their furnaces. I saw them, also on Saturday night, after their work was done, going to receive its poor wages, looking pallid and dull, as if they had spent on tempering the steel that vital force that should have tempered themselves to manhood.

We saw, also, Chatsworth, with its park and mock wilderness, and immense conservatory, and really splendid fountains and wealth of marbles. It is a fine expression of modern luxury and splendor, but did not interest me; I found little there of true beauty or grandeur.

Warwick Castle is a place entirely to my mind, a real representative of the English aristocracy in the day of its nobler life. The grandeur of the pile itself, and its beauty of position, introduce you fitly to the noble company with which the genius of Vandyke has peopled its walls. But a short time was allowed to look upon these nobles, warriors, statesmen, and ladies, who gaze upon us in turn with such a majesty of historic association, yet was I very well satisfied. It is not difficult to see men through the eyes of Vandyke. His way of viewing character seems superficial, though commanding; he sees the man in his action on the crowd, not in his hidden life; he does not, like some painters, amaze and engross us by his revelations as to the secret springs [pg 166] of conduct. I know not by what hallucination I forebore to look at the picture I most desired to see,—that of Lucy, Countess of Carlisle. I was looking at something else, and when the fat, pompous butler announced her, I did not recognize her name from his mouth. Afterward it flashed across me, that I had really been standing before her and forgotten to look. But repentance was too late; I had passed the castle gate to return no more.

Pretty Leamington and Stratford are hackneyed ground. Of the latter I only observed what, if I knew, I had forgotten, that the room where Shakespeare was born has been an object of devotion only for forty years. England has learned much of her appreciation of Shakespeare from the Germans. In the days of innocence, I fondly supposed that every one who could understand English, and was not a cannibal, adored Shakespeare and read him on Sundays always for an hour or more, and on week days a considerable portion of the time. But I have lived to know some hundreds of persons in my native land, without finding ten who had any direct acquaintance with their greatest benefactor, and I dare say in England as large an experience would not end more honorably to its subjects. So vast a treasure is left untouched, while men are complaining of being poor, because they have not toothpicks exactly to their mind.

At Stratford I handled, too, the poker used to such good purpose by Geoffrey Crayon. The muse had fled, the fire was out, and the poker rusty, yet a pleasant influence lingered even in that cold little room, and seemed to lend a transient glow to the poker under the influence of sympathy.

In Birmingham I heard two discourses from one of the rising lights of England, George Dawson, a young man of whom I had earlier heard much in praise. He is a friend of the people, in the sense of brotherhood, not of a social convenience or patronage; in literature catholic; in matters of religion antisectarian, seeking truth in aspiration and love. He is eloquent, with good method in his discourse, fire and dignity when wanted, with a frequent homeliness in enforcement and illustration which offends the etiquettes of England, but fits him the better for the [pg 167] class he has to address. His powers are uncommon and unfettered in their play; his aim is worthy. He is fulfilling and will fulfil an important task as an educator of the people, if all be not marred by a taint of self-love and arrogance now obvious in his discourse. This taint is not surprising in one so young, who has done so much, and in order to do it has been compelled to great self-confidence and light heed of the authority of other minds, and who is surrounded almost exclusively by admirers; neither is it, at present, a large speck; it may be quite purged from him by the influence of nobler motives and the rise of his ideal standard; but, on the other hand, should it spread, all must be vitiated. Let us hope the best, for he is one that could ill be spared from the band who have taken up the cause of Progress in England.

In this connection I may as well speak of James Martineau, whom I heard in Liverpool, and W.J. Fox, whom I heard in London.

Mr. Martineau looks like the over-intellectual, the partially developed man, and his speech confirms this impression. He is sometimes conservative, sometimes reformer, not in the sense of eclecticism, but because his powers and views do not find a true harmony. On the conservative side he is scholarly, acute,—on the other, pathetic, pictorial, generous. He is no prophet and no sage, yet a man full of fine affections and thoughts, always suggestive, sometimes satisfactory; he is well adapted to the wants of that class, a large one in the present day, who love the new wine, but do not feel that they can afford to throw away all their old bottles.

Mr. Fox is the reverse of all this: he is homogeneous in his materials and harmonious in the results he produces. He has great persuasive power; it is the persuasive power of a mind warmly engaged in seeking truth for itself. He sometimes carries homeward convictions with great energy, driving in the thought as with golden nails. A glow of kindly human sympathy enlivens his argument, and the whole presents thought in a well-proportioned, animated body. But I am told he is far superior in speech on political or social problems, than on such as I heard him discuss.

[pg 168]

I was reminded, in hearing all three, of men similarly engaged in our country, W.H. Charming and Theodore Parker. None of them compare in the symmetrical arrangement of extempore discourse, or in pure eloquence and communication of spiritual beauty, with Charming, nor in fulness and sustained flow with Parker, but, in power of practical and homely adaptation of their thought to common wants, they are superior to the former, and all have more variety, finer perceptions, and are more powerful in single passages, than Parker.

And now my pen has run to 1st October, and still I have such notabilities as fell to my lot to observe while in London, and these that are thronging upon me here in Paris to record for you. I am sadly in arrears, but 't is comfort to think that such meats as I have to serve up are as good cold as hot. At any rate, it is just impossible to do any better, and I shall comfort myself, as often before, with the triplet which I heard in childhood from a sage (if only sages wear wigs!):—

"As said the great Prince Fernando,

What can a man do,

More than he can do?"

[pg 169]

 

LETTER VIII.

Recollections of London.—The English Gentleman.—London Climate.—Out of Season.—Luxury and Misery.—A Difficult Problem.—Terrors of Poverty.—Joanna Baillie and Madame Roland.—Hampstead.—Miss Berry.—Female Artists.—Margaret Gillies.—The People's Journal.—The Times.—The Howitts.—South wood Smith.—Houses for the Poor.—Skeleton of Jeremy Bentham.—Cooper the Poet.—Thom.

Paris, December, 1846.

I sit down here in Paris to narrate some recollections of London. The distance in space and time is not great, yet I seem in wholly a different world. Here in the region of wax-lights, mirrors, bright wood fires, shrugs, vivacious ejaculations, wreathed smiles, and adroit courtesies, it is hard to remember John Bull, with his coal-smoke, hands in pockets, except when extended for ungracious demand of the perpetual half-crown, or to pay for the all but perpetual mug of beer. John, seen on that side, is certainly the most churlish of clowns, and the most clownish of churls. But then there are so many other sides! When a gentleman, he is so truly the gentleman, when a man, so truly the man of honor! His graces, when he has any, grow up from his inmost heart.

Not that he is free from humbug; on the contrary, he is prone to the most solemn humbug, generally of the philanthrophic or otherwise moral kind. But he is always awkward beneath the mask, and can never impose upon anybody—but himself. Nature meant him to be noble, generous, sincere, and has furnished him with no faculties to make himself agreeable in any other way or mode of being. 'T is not so with your Frenchman, who can cheat you pleasantly, and move with grace in the devious and slippery path. You would be almost sorry to see him quite [pg 170] disinterested and straightforward, so much of agreeable talent and naughty wit would thus lie hid for want of use. But John, O John, we must admire, esteem, or be disgusted with thee.

As to climate, there is not much to choose at this time of year. In London, for six weeks, we never saw the sun for coal-smoke and fog. In Paris we have not been blessed with its cheering rays above three or four days in the same length of time, and are, beside, tormented with an oily and tenacious mud beneath the feet, which makes it almost impossible to walk. This year, indeed, is an uncommonly severe one at Paris; but then, if they have their share of dark, cold days, it must be admitted that they do all they can to enliven them.

But to dwell first on London,—London, in itself a world. We arrived at a time which the well-bred Englishman considers as no time at all,—quite out of "the season," when Parliament is in session, and London thronged with the equipages of her aristocracy, her titled wealthy nobles. I was listened to with a smile of contempt when I declared that the stock shows of London would yield me amusement and employment more than sufficient for the time I had to stay. But I found that, with my way of viewing things, it would be to me an inexhaustible studio, and that, if life were only long enough, I would live there for years obscure in some corner, from which I could issue forth day by day to watch unobserved the vast stream of life, or to decipher the hieroglyphics which ages have been inscribing on the walls of this vast palace (I may not call it a temple), which human effort has reared for means, not yet used efficaciously, of human culture.

And though I wish to return to London in "the season," when that city is an adequate representative of the state of things in England, I am glad I did not at first see all that pomp and parade of wealth and luxury in contrast with the misery, squalid, agonizing, ruffianly, which stares one in the face in every street of London, and hoots at the gates of her palaces more ominous a note than ever was that of owl or raven in the portentous times when empires and races have crumbled and fallen from inward decay.

[pg 171]

It is impossible, however, to take a near view of the treasures created by English genius, accumulated by English industry, without a prayer, daily more fervent, that the needful changes in the condition of this people may be effected by peaceful revolution, which shall destroy nothing except the shocking inhumanity of exclusiveness, which now prevents their being used, for the benefit of all. May their present possessors look to it in time! A few already are earnest in a good spirit. For myself, much as I pitied the poor, abandoned, hopeless wretches that swarm in the roads and streets of England, I pity far more the English noble, with this difficult problem before him, and such need of a speedy solution. Sad is his life, if a conscientious man; sadder still, if not. Poverty in England has terrors of which I never dreamed at home. I felt that it would be terrible to be poor there, but far more so to be the possessor of that for which so many thousands are perishing. And the middle class, too, cannot here enjoy that serenity which the sages have described as naturally their peculiar blessing. Too close, too dark throng the evils they cannot obviate, the sorrows they cannot relieve. To a man of good heart, each day must bring purgatory which he knows not how to bear, yet to which he fears to become insensible.

From these clouds of the Present, it is pleasant to turn the thoughts to some objects which have cast a light upon the Past, and which, by the virtue of their very nature, prescribe hope for the Future. I have mentioned with satisfaction seeing some persons who illustrated the past dynasty in the progress of thought here: Wordsworth, Dr. Chalmers, De Quincey, Andrew Combe. With a still higher pleasure, because to one of my own sex, whom I have honored almost above any, I went to pay my court to Joanna Baillie. I found on her brow, not indeed a coronal of gold, but a serenity and strength undimmed and unbroken by the weight of more than fourscore years, or by the scanty appreciation which her thoughts have received.

I prize Joanna Baillie and Madame Roland as the best specimens which have been hitherto offered of women of a Roman strength and singleness of mind, adorned by the various culture [pg 172] and capable of the various action opened to them by the progress of the Christian Idea. They are not sentimental; they do not sigh and write of withered flowers of fond affection, and woman's heart born to be misunderstood by the object or objects of her fond, inevitable choice. Love (the passion), when spoken of at all by them, seems a thing noble, religious, worthy to be felt. They do not write of it always; they did not think of it always; they saw other things in this great, rich, suffering world. In superior delicacy of touch, they show the woman, but the hand is firm; nor was all their speech, one continued utterance of mere personal experience. It contained things which are good, intellectually, universally.

I regret that the writings of Joanna Baillie are not more known in the United States. The Plays on the Passions are faulty in their plan,—all attempts at comic, even at truly dramatic effect, fail; but there are masterly sketches of character, vigorous expressions of wise thought, deep, fervent ejaculations of an aspiring soul!

We found her in her little calm retreat at Hampstead, surrounded by marks of love and reverence from distinguished and excellent friends. Near her was the sister, older than herself, yet still sprightly and full of active kindness, whose character and their mutual relation she has, in one of her last poems, indicated with such a happy mixture of sagacity, humor, and tender pathos, and with so absolute a truth of outline. Although no autograph collector, I asked for theirs, and when the elder gave hers as "sister to Joanna Baillie," it drew a tear from my eye,—a good tear, a genuine pearl,—fit homage to that fairest product of the soul of man, humble, disinterested tenderness.

Hampstead has still a good deal of romantic beauty. I was told it was the favorite sketching-ground of London artists, till the railroads gave them easy means of spending a few hours to advantage farther off. But, indeed, there is a wonderful deal of natural beauty lying in untouched sweetness near London. Near one of our cities it would all have been grabbed up the first thing. But we, too, are beginning to grow wiser.

[pg 173]

At Richmond I went to see another lady of more than threescore years' celebrity, more than fourscore in age, Miss Berry the friend of Horace Walpole, and for her charms of manner and conversation long and still a reigning power. She has still the vivacity, the careless nature, or refined art, that made her please so much in earlier days,—still is girlish, and gracefully so. Verily, with her was no sign of labor or sorrow.

From the older turning to the young, I must speak with pleasure of several girls I know in London, who are devoting themselves to painting as a profession. They have really wise and worthy views of the artist's avocation; if they remain true to them, they will enjoy a free, serene existence, unprofaned by undue care or sentimental sorrow. Among these, Margaret Gillies has attained some celebrity; she may be known to some in America by engravings in the "People's Journal" from her pictures; but, if I remember right, these are coarse things, and give no just notion of her pictures, which are distinguished for elegance and refinement; a little mannerized, but she is improving in that respect.

The "People's Journal" comes nearer being a fair sign of the times than any other publication of England, apparently, if we except Punch. As for the Times, on which you all use your scissors so industriously, it is managed with vast ability, no doubt, but the blood would tingle many a time to the fingers' ends of the body politic, before that solemn organ which claims to represent the heart would dare to beat in unison. Still it would require all the wise management of the Times, or wisdom enough to do without it, and a wide range and diversity of talent, indeed, almost sweeping the circle, to make a People's Journal for England. The present is only a bud of the future flower.

Mary and William Howitt are its main support. I saw them several times at their cheerful and elegant home. In Mary Howitt I found the same engaging traits of character we are led to expect from her books for children. Her husband is full of the same agreeable information, communicated in the same lively yet precise manner we find in his books; it was like talking with [pg 174] old friends, except that now the eloquence of the eye was added. At their house I became acquainted with Dr. Southwood Smith, the well-known philanthropist. He is at present engaged on the construction of good tenements calculated to improve the condition of the working people. His plans look promising, and should they succeed, you shall have a detailed account of them. On visiting him, we saw an object which I had often heard celebrated, and had thought would be revolting, but found, on the contrary, an agreeable sight; this is the skeleton of Jeremy Bentham. It was at Bentham's request that the skeleton, dressed in the same dress he habitually wore, stuffed out to an exact resemblance of life, and with a portrait mark in wax, the best I ever saw, sits there, as assistant to Dr. Smith in the entertainment of his guests and companion of his studies. The figure leans a little forward, resting the hands on a, stout stick which Bentham always carried, and had named "Dapple"; the attitude is quite easy, the expression of the whole quite mild, winning, yet highly individual. It is a pleasing mark of that unity of aim and tendency to be expected throughout the life of such a mind, that Bentham, while quite a young man, had made a will, in which, to oppose in the most convincing manner the prejudice against dissection of the human subject, he had given his body after death to be used in service of the cause of science. "I have not yet been able," said the will, "to do much service to my fellow-men by my life, but perhaps I may in this manner by my death." Many years after, reading a pamphlet by Dr. Smith on the same subject, he was much pleased with it, became his friend, and bequeathed his body to his care and use, with directions that the skeleton should finally be disposed of in the way I have described.

The countenance of Dr. Smith has an expression of expansive, sweet, almost childlike goodness. Miss Gillies has made a charming picture of him, with a favorite little granddaughter nestling in his arms.

Another marked figure that I encountered on this great showboard was Cooper, the author of "The Purgatory of Luicides," a very remarkable poem, of which, had there been leisure before [pg 175] my departure, I should have made a review, and given copious extracts in the Tribune. Cooper is as strong a man, and probably a milder one, than when in the prison where that poem was written. The earnestness in seeking freedom and happiness for all men, which drew upon him that penalty, seems unabated; he is a very significant type of the new era, and also an agent in bringing it near. One of the poets of the people, also, I saw,—the sweetest singer of them all,—Thom. "A Chieftain unknown to the Queen" is again exacting a cruel tribute from him. I wish much that some of those of New York who have taken an interest in him would provide there a nook in which he might find refuge and solace for the evening of his days, to sing or to work as likes him best, and where he could bring up two fine boys to happier prospects than the parent land will afford them. Could and would America but take from other lands more of the talent, as well as the bone and sinew, she would be rich.

But the stroke of the clock warns me to stop now, and begin to-morrow with fresher eye and hand on some interesting topics. My sketches are slight; still they cannot be made without time, and I find none to be had in this Europe except late at night. I believe it is what all the inhabitants use, but I am too sleepy a genius to carry the practice far.

[pg 176]

 

LETTER IX.

Writing at Night.—London.—National Gallery.—Murillo.—The Flower Girl.—Nursery-Maids and Working-men.—Hampton Court.—Zoölogical Gardens.—King of Animals.—English Piety.—Eagles.—Sir John Soane's Museum.—Kew Gardens.—The Great Cactus.—The Reform Club House.—Men Cooks.—Orderly Kitchen.—A Gilpin Excursion.—The Bell at Edmonton.—Omnibus.—Cheapside.—English Slowness.—Freiligrath.—Arcadia.—Italian School.—Mazzini.—Italy.—Italian Refugees.—Correggio.—Hope of Italians.—Addresses.—Supper.—Carlyle, his Appearance, Conversation, &c.

Again I must begin to write late in the evening. I am told it is the custom of the literati in these large cities to work in the night. It is easy to see that it must be almost impossible to do otherwise; yet not only is the practice very bad for the health, and one that brings on premature old age, but I cannot think this night-work will prove as firm in texture and as fair of hue as what is done by sunlight. Give me a lonely chamber, a window from which through the foliage you can catch glimpses of a beautiful prospect, and the mind finds itself tuned to action.

But London, London! I have yet some brief notes to make on London. We had scarcely any sunlight by which to see pictures, and I postponed all visits to private collections, except one, in the hope of being in England next time in the long summer days. In the National Gallery I saw little except the Murillos; they were so beautiful, that with me, who had no true conception of his kind of genius before, they took away the desire to look into anything else at the same time. They did not affect me much either, except with a sense of content in this genius, so rich and full and strong. It was a cup of sunny wine that refreshed but brought no intoxicating visions. There is something very [pg 177] noble in the genius of Spain, there is such an intensity and singleness; it seems to me it has not half shown itself, and must have an important part to play yet in the drama of this planet.

At the Dulwich Gallery I saw the Flower Girl of Murillo, an enchanting picture, the memory of which must always

"Cast a light upon the day,

A light that will not pass away,

A sweet forewarning."

Who can despair when he thinks of a form like that, so full of life and bliss! Nature, that made such human forms to match the butterfly and the bee on June mornings when the lime-trees are in blossom, has surely enough of happiness in store to satisfy us all, somewhere, some time.

It was pleasant, indeed, to see the treasures of those galleries, of the British Museum, and of so charming a place as Hampton Court, open to everybody. In the National Gallery one finds a throng of nursery-maids, and men just come from their work; true, they make a great deal of noise thronging to and fro on the uncarpeted floors in their thick boots, and noise from which, when penetrated by the atmosphere of Art, men in the thickest boots would know how to refrain; still I felt that the sight of such objects must be gradually doing them a great deal of good. The British Museum would, in itself, be an education for a man who should go there once a week, and think and read at his leisure moments about what he saw.

Hampton Court I saw in the gloom, and rain, and my chief recollections are of the magnificent yew-trees beneath whose shelter—the work of ages—I took refuge from the pelting shower. The expectations cherished from childhood about the Cartoons were all baffled; there was no light by which they could be seen. But I must hope to visit Hampton Court again in the time of roses.

The Zoölogical Gardens are another pleasure of the million, since, although something is paid there, it is so little that almost all can afford it. To me, it is a vast pleasure to see animals where they can show out their habits or instincts, and to see [pg 178] them assembled from, all climates and countries, amid verdure and with room enough, as they are here, is a true poem. They have a fine lion, the first I ever saw that realized the idea we have of the king of the animal world; but the groan and roar of this one were equally royal. The eagles were fine, but rather disgraced themselves. It is a trait of English piety, which would, no doubt, find its defenders among ourselves, not to feed the animals on Sunday, that their keepers may have rest; at least this was the explanation given us by one of these men of the state of ravenous hunger in which we found them on the Monday. I half hope he was jesting with us. Certain it is that the eagles were wild with famine, and even the grandest of them, who had eyed us at first as if we were not fit to live in the same zone with him, when the meat came round, after a short struggle to maintain his dignity, joined in wild shriek and scramble with the rest.

Sir John Soane's Museum I visited, containing the sarcophagus described by Dr. Waagen, Hogarth's pictures, a fine Canaletto, and a manuscript of Tasso. It fills the house once the residence of his body, still of his mind. It is not a mind with which I have sympathy; I found there no law of harmony, and it annoyed me to see things all jumbled together as if in an old curiosity-shop. Nevertheless it was a generous bequest, and much may perhaps be found there of value to him who takes time to seek.

The Gardens at Kew delighted me, thereabouts all was so green, and still one could indulge at leisure in the humorous and fantastic associations that cluster around the name of Kew, like the curls of a "big wig" round the serene and sleepy face of its wearer. Here are fourteen green-houses: in one you find all the palms; in another, the productions of the regions of snow; in another, those squibs and humorsome utterances of Nature, the cactuses,—ay! there I saw the great-grandfather of all the cactuses, a hoary, solemn plant, declared to be a thousand years old, disdaining to say if it is not really much, older; in yet another, the most exquisitely minute plants, delicate as the tracery of frostwork, too delicate for the bowers of fairies, such at least as visit the gross brains of earthly poets.

[pg 179]

The Reform Club was the only one of those splendid establishments that I visited. Certainly the force of comfort can no farther go, nor can anything be better contrived to make dressing, eating, news-getting, and even sleeping (for there are bedrooms as well as dressing-rooms for those who will), as comfortable as can be imagined. Yet to me this palace of so many "single gentlemen rolled into one" seemed stupidly comfortable, in the absence of that elegant arrangement and vivacious atmosphere which only women can inspire. In the kitchen, indeed, I met them, and on that account it seemed the pleasantest part of the building,—though even there they are but the servants of servants. There reigned supreme a genius in his way, who has published a work on Cookery, and around him his pupils,—young men who pay a handsome yearly fee for novitiate under his instruction. I was not sorry, however, to see men predominant in the cooking department, as I hope to see that and washing transferred to their care in the progress of things, since they are "the stronger sex."

The arrangements of this kitchen were very fine, combining great convenience with neatness, and even elegance. Fourier himself might have taken pleasure in them. Thence we passed into the private apartments of the artist, and found them full of pictures by his wife, an artist in another walk. One or two of them had been engraved. She was an Englishwoman.

A whimsical little excursion we made on occasion of the anniversary of the wedding-day of two of my friends. They had often enjoyed reading the account of John Gilpin's in America, and now thought that, as they were in England and near enough, they would celebrate theirs also at "the Bell at Edmonton." I accompanied them with "a little foot-page," to eke out the train, pretty and graceful and playful enough for the train of a princess. But our excursion turned out somewhat of a failure, in an opposite way to Gilpin's. Whereas he went too fast, we went too slow. First we took coach and went through Cheapside to take omnibus at (strange misnomer!) the Flower-Pot. But Gilpin could never have had his race through Cheapside as it is in its [pg 180] present crowded state; we were obliged to proceed at a funeral pace. We missed the omnibus, and when we took the next one it went with the slowness of a "family horse" in the old chaise of a New England deacon, and, after all, only took us half-way. At the half-way house a carriage was to be sought. The lady who let it, and all her grooms, were to be allowed time to recover from their consternation at so unusual a move as strangers taking a carriage to dine at the little inn at Edmonton, now a mere alehouse, before we could be allowed to proceed. The English stand lost in amaze at "Yankee notions," with their quick come and go, and it is impossible to make them "go ahead" in the zigzag chain-lightning path, unless you push them. A rather old part of the plan had been a pilgrimage to the grave of Lamb, with a collateral view to the rural beauties of Edmonton, but night had fallen on all such hopes two hours at least before we reached the Bell. There, indeed, we found them somewhat more alert to comprehend our wishes; they laughed when we spoke of Gilpin, showed us a print of the race and the window where Mrs. Gilpin must have stood,—balcony, alas! there was none; allowed us to make our own fire, and provided us a wedding dinner of tough meat and stale bread. Nevertheless we danced, dined, paid (I believe), and celebrated the wedding quite to our satisfaction, though in the space of half an hour, as we knew friends were even at that moment expecting us to tea at some miles' distance. But it is always pleasant in this world of routine to act out a freak. "Such a one," said an English gentleman, "one of us would rarely have dreamed of, much, less acted." "Why, was it not pleasant?" "Oh, very! but so out of the way!"

Returning, we passed the house where Freiligrath finds a temporary home, earning the bread, of himself and his family in a commercial house. England houses the exile, but not without house-tax, window-tax, and head-tax. Where is the Arcadia that dares invite all genius to her arms, and change her golden wheat for their green laurels and immortal flowers? Arcadia?—would the name were America!

[pg 181]

And now returns naturally to my mind one of the most interesting things I have seen here or elsewhere,—the school for poor Italian boys, sustained and taught by a few of their exiled compatriots, and especially by the mind and efforts of Mazzini. The name of Joseph Mazzini is well known to those among us who take an interest in the cause of human freedom, who, not content with the peace and ease bought for themselves by the devotion and sacrifices of their fathers, look with anxious interest on the suffering nations who are preparing for a similar struggle. Those who are not, like the brutes that perish, content with the enjoyment of mere national advantages, indifferent to the idea they represent, cannot forget that the human family is one,

"And beats with one great heart."

They know that there can be no genuine happiness, no salvation for any, unless the same can be secured for all.

To this universal interest in all nations and places where man, understanding his inheritance, strives to throw off an arbitrary rule and establish a state of things where he shall be governed as becomes a man, by his own conscience and intelligence,—where he may speak the truth as it rises in his mind, and indulge his natural emotions in purity,—is added an especial interest in Italy, the mother of our language and our laws, our greatest benefactress in the gifts of genius, the garden of the world, in which our best thoughts have delighted to expatiate, but over whose bowers now hangs a perpetual veil of sadness, and whose noblest plants are doomed to removal,—for, if they cannot bear their ripe and perfect fruit in another climate, they are not permitted to lift their heads to heaven in their own.

Some of these generous refugees our country has received kindly, if not with a fervent kindness; and the word Correggio is still in my ears as I heard it spoken in New York by one whose heart long oppression could not paralyze. Speranza some of the Italian youth now inscribe on their banners, encouraged by some traits of apparent promise in the new Pope. However, their only true hope is in themselves, in their own courage, and in that wisdom winch may only be learned through many [pg 182] disappointments as to how to employ it so that it may destroy tyranny, not themselves.

Mazzini, one of these noble refugees, is not only one of the heroic, the courageous, and the faithful,—Italy boasts many such,—but he is also one of the wise;—one of those who, disappointed in the outward results of their undertakings, can yet "bate no jot of heart and hope," but must "steer right onward "; for it was no superficial enthusiasm, no impatient energies, that impelled him, but an understanding of what must be the designs of Heaven with regard to man, since God is Love, is Justice. He is one who can live fervently, but steadily, gently, every day, every hour, as well as on great, occasions, cheered by the light of hope; for, with Schiller, he is sure that "those who live for their faith shall behold it living." He is one of those same beings who, measuring all things by the ideal standard, have yet no time to mourn over failure or imperfection; there is too much to be done to obviate it.

Thus Mazzini, excluded from publication in his native language, has acquired the mastery both of French and English, and through his expressions in either shine the thoughts which animated his earlier effort with mild and steady radiance. The misfortunes of his country have only widened the sphere of his instructions, and made him an exponent of the better era to Europe at large. Those who wish to form an idea of his mind could not do better than to read his sketches of the Italian Martyrs in the "People's Journal." They will find there, on one of the most difficult occasions, an ardent friend speaking of his martyred friends with, the purity of impulse, warmth of sympathy, largeness and steadiness of view, and fineness of discrimination which must belong to a legislator for a CHRISTIAN commonwealth.

But though I have read these expressions with great delight, this school was one to me still more forcible of the same ideas. Here these poor boys, picked up from the streets, are redeemed from bondage and gross ignorance by the most patient and constant devotion of time and effort. What love and sincerity this demands from minds capable of great thoughts, large plans, and [pg 183] rapid progress, only their peers can comprehend, yet exceeding great shall he the reward; and as among the fishermen, and poor people of Judæa were picked up those who have become to modern Europe a leaven that leavens the whole mass, so may these poor Italian boys yet become more efficacious as missionaries to their people than would an Orphic poet at this period. These youths have very commonly good faces, and eyes from which that Italian fire that has done so much to warm the world glows out. We saw the distribution of prizes to the school, heard addresses from Mazzini, Pistracci, Mariotti (once a resident in our country), and an English gentleman who takes a great interest in the work, and then adjourned to an adjacent room, where a supper was provided for the boys and other guests, among whom we saw some of the exiled Poles. The whole evening gave a true and deep pleasure, though tinged with sadness. We saw a planting of the kingdom of Heaven, though now no larger than a grain of mustard-seed, and though perhaps none of those who watch the spot may live to see the birds singing in its branches.

I have not yet spoken of one of our benefactors, Mr. Carlyle, whom I saw several times. I approached him with more reverence after a little experience of England and Scotland had taught me to appreciate the strength and height of that wall of shams and conventions which he more than any man, or thousand men,—indeed, he almost alone,—has begun to throw down. Wherever there was fresh thought, generous hope, the thought of Carlyle has begun the work. He has torn off the veils from hideous facts; he has burnt away foolish illusions; he has awakened thousands to know what it is to be a man,—that we must live, and not merely pretend to others that we live. He has touched the rocks and they have given forth musical answer; little more was wanting to begin to construct the city.

But that little was wanting, and the work of construction is left to those that come after him: nay, all attempts of the kind he is the readiest to deride, fearing new shams worse than the old, unable to trust the general action of a thought, and finding no heroic man, no natural king, to represent it and challenge his confidence.

[pg 184]

Accustomed to the infinite wit and exuberant richness of his writings, his talk is still an amazement and a splendor scarcely to be faced with steady eyes. He does not converse,—only harangues. It is the usual misfortune of such marked men (happily not one invariable or inevitable) that they cannot allow other minds room to breathe and show themselves in their atmosphere, and thus miss the refreshment and instruction, which the greatest never cease to need from the experience of the humblest. Carlyle allows no one a chance, but bears down all opposition, not only by his wit and onset of words, resistless in their sharpness as so many bayonets, but by actual physical superiority, raising his voice and rushing on his opponent with a torrent of sound. This is not the least from unwillingness to allow freedom to others; on the contrary, no man would more enjoy a manly resistance to his thought; but it is the impulse of a mind accustomed to follow out its own impulse as the hawk its prey, and which knows not how to stop in the chase. Carlyle, indeed, is arrogant and overbearing, but in his arrogance there is no littleness or self-love: it is the heroic arrogance of some old Scandinavian conqueror,—it is his nature and the untamable impulse that has given him power to crush the dragons. You do not love him, perhaps, nor revere, and perhaps, also, he would only laugh at you if you did; but you like him heartily, and like to see him the powerful smith, the Siegfried, melting all the old iron in his furnace till it glows to a sunset red, and burns you if you senselessly go too near. He seemed to me quite isolated, lonely as the desert; yet never was man more fitted to prize a man, could he find one to match his mood. He finds such, but only in the past. He sings rather than talks. He pours upon you a kind of satirical, heroical, critical poem, with regular cadences, and generally catching up near the beginning some singular epithet, which, serves as a refrain when his song is full, or with which as with a knitting-needle he catches up the stitches if he has chanced now and then to let fall a row. For the higher kinds of poetry he has no sense, and his talk on that subject is delightfully and gorgeously absurd; he sometimes stops a minute to laugh at it himself, then begins anew with fresh [pg 185] vigor; for all the spirits he is driving before him seem to him as Fata Morganas, ugly masks, in fact, if he can but make them turn about, but he laughs that they seem to others such dainty Ariels. He puts out his chin sometimes till it looks like the beak of a bird, and his eyes flash bright instinctive meanings like Jove's bird; yet he is not calm and grand enough for the eagle: he is more like the falcon, and yet not of gentle blood enough for that either. He is not exactly like anything but himself, and therefore you cannot see him without the most hearty refreshment and good-will, for he is original, rich, and strong enough to afford a thousand, faults; one expects some wild land in a rich kingdom. His talk, like his books, is full of pictures, his critical strokes masterly; allow for his point of view, and his survey is admirable. He is a large subject; I cannot speak more or wiselier of him now, nor needs it; his works are true, to blame and praise him, the Siegfried of England, great and powerful, if not quite invulnerable, and of a might rather to destroy evil than legislate for good. At all events, he seems to be what Destiny intended, and represents fully a certain side; so we make no remonstrance as to his being and proceeding for himself, though we sometimes must for us.

I had meant some remarks on some fine pictures, and the little I saw of the theatre in England; but these topics must wait till my next, where they may connect themselves naturally enough with what I have to say of Paris.

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LETTER X.

More of London.—The Model Prison at Pentonville.—Bathing Establishment for the Poor.—Also one for washing Clothes.—The Crèches of Paris, for Poor People's Children.—Old Drury in London.—Sadler's Wells.—English and French Acting compared.—Mademoiselle Rachel.—French Tragedy.—Rose Cheny.—Dumas.—Guizot.—The Presentation at Court of the young Duchess.—Ball at the Tuileries.—American and French Women.—Leverrier.—The Sorbonne.—Arago.—Discussions on Suicide and the Crusades.—Rémusat.—The Academy.—La Mennais.—Béranger.—Reflections.

Paris.

When I wrote last I could not finish with London, and there remain yet two or three things I wish to speak of before passing to my impressions of this wonder-full Paris.

I visited the model prison at Pentonville; but though in some respects an improvement upon others I have seen,—though there was the appearance of great neatness and order in the arrangements of life, kindness and good judgment in the discipline of the prisoners,—yet there was also an air of bleak forlornness about the place, and it fell far short of what my mind demands of such abodes considered as redemption schools. But as the subject of prisons is now engaging the attention of many of the wisest and best, and the tendency is in what seems to me the true direction, I need not trouble myself to make prude and hasty suggestions; it is a subject to which persons who would be of use should give the earnest devotion of calm and leisurely thought.

The same day I went to see an establishment which gave me unmixed pleasure; it is a bathing establishment put at a very low rate to enable the poor to avoid one of thee worst miseries of their lot, and which yet promises to pay. Joined with this is [pg 187] an establishment for washing clothes, where the poor can go and hire, for almost nothing, good tubs, water ready heated, the use of an apparatus for rinsing, drying, and ironing, all so admirably arranged that a poor woman can in three hours get through an amount of washing and ironing that would, under ordinary circumstances, occupy three or four days. Especially the drying closets I contemplated with great satisfaction, and hope to see in our own country the same arrangements throughout the cities, and even in the towns and villages. Hanging out the clothes is a great exposure for women, even when they have a good place for it; but when, as is so common in cities, they must dry them in the house, how much they suffer! In New York, I know, those poor women who take in washing endure a great deal of trouble and toil from this cause; I have suffered myself from being obliged to send back what had cost them so much toil, because it had been, perhaps inevitably, soiled in the drying or ironing, or filled with the smell of their miscellaneous cooking. In London it is much worse. An eminent physician told me he knew of two children whom he considered to have died because their mother, having but one room to live in, was obliged to wash and dry clothes close to their bed when they were ill. The poor people in London naturally do without washing all they can, and beneath that perpetual fall of soot the result may be guessed. All but the very poor in England put out their washing, and this custom ought to be universal in civilized countries, as it can be done much better and quicker by a few regular laundresses than by many families, and "the washing day" is so malignant a foe to the peace and joy of households that it ought to be effaced from the calendar. But as long as we are so miserable as to have any very poor people in this world, they cannot put out their washing, because they cannot earn enough money to pay for it, and, preliminary to something better, washing establishments like this of London are desirable.

One arrangement that they have here in Paris will be a good one, even when we cease to have any very poor people, and, please Heaven, also to have any very rich. These are the [pg 188] Crèches,—houses where poor women leave their children to be nursed during the day while they are at work.

I must mention that the superintendent of the washing establishment observed, with a legitimate triumph, that it had been built without giving a single dinner or printing a single puff,—an extraordinary thing, indeed, for England!

To turn to something a little gayer,—the embroidery on this tattered coat of civilized life,—I went into only two theatres; one the Old Drury, once the scene of great glories, now of execrable music and more execrable acting. If anything can be invented more excruciating than an English opera, such as was the fashion at the time I was in London, I am sure no sin of mine deserves the punishment of bearing it.

At the Sadler's Wells theatre I saw a play which I had much admired in reading it, but found still better in actual representation; indeed, it seems to me there can be no better acting play: this is "The Patrician's Daughter," by J.W. Marston. The movement is rapid, yet clear and free; the dialogue natural, dignified, and flowing; the characters marked with few, but distinct strokes. "Where the tone of discourse rises with manly sentiment or passion, the audience applauded with bursts of generous feeling that gave me great pleasure, for this play is one that, in its scope and meaning, marks the new era in England; it is full of an experience which is inevitable to a man of talent there, and is harbinger of the day when the noblest commoner shall be the only noble possible in England.

But how different all this acting to what I find in France! Here the theatre is living; you see something really good, and good throughout. Not one touch of that stage strut and vulgar bombast of tone, which the English actor fancies indispensable to scenic illusion, is tolerated here. For the first time in my life I saw something represented in a style uniformly good, and should have found sufficient proof, if I had needed any, that all men will prefer what is good to what is bad, if only a fair opportunity for choice be allowed. When I came here, my first thought was to go and see Mademoiselle Rachel. I was sure that in her I should [pg 189] find a true genius, absolutely the diamond, and so it proved. I went to see her seven or eight times, always in parts that required great force of soul and purity of taste even to conceive them, and only once had reason to find fault with her. On one single occasion I saw her violate the harmony of the character to produce effect at a particular moment; but almost invariably I found her a true artist, worthy Greece, and worthy at many moments to have her conceptions immortalized in marble.

Her range even in high tragedy is limited. She can only express the darker passions, and grief in its most desolate aspects. Nature has not gifted her with those softer and more flowery attributes that lend to pathos its utmost tenderness. She does not melt to tears, or calm or elevate the heart by the presence of that tragic beauty that needs all the assaults of Fate to make it show its immortal sweetness. Her noblest aspect is when sometimes she expresses truth in some severe shape, and rises, simple and austere, above the mixed elements around her. On the dark side, she is very great in hatred and revenge. I admired her more in Phedre than in any other part in which I saw her. The guilty love inspired by the hatred of a goddess was expressed in all its symptoms with a force and terrible naturalness that almost suffocated the beholder. After she had taken the poison, the exhaustion and paralysis of the system, the sad, cold, calm submission to Fate, were still more grand.

I had heard so much about the power of her eye in one fixed look, and the expression she could concentrate in a single word, that the utmost results could only satisfy my expectations. It is, indeed, something magnificent to see the dark cloud give out such sparks, each one fit to deal a separate death; but it was not that I admired most in her: it was the grandeur, truth, and depth of her conception of each part, and the sustained purity with which she represented it.

For the rest, I shall write somewhere a detailed critique upon the parts in which I saw her. It is she who has made me acquainted with the true way of viewing French tragedy. I had no idea of its powers and symmetry till now, and have received from the revelation high pleasure and a crowd of thoughts.

[pg 190]

The French language from her lips is a divine dialect; it is stripped of its national and personal peculiarities, and becomes what any language must, moulded by such a genius, the pure music of the heart and soul. I never could remember her tone in speaking any word; it was too perfect; you had received the thought quite direct. Yet, had I never heard her speak a word, my mind would, be filled by her attitudes. Nothing more graceful can be conceived, nor could the genius of sculpture surpass her management of the antique drapery.

She has no beauty except in the intellectual severity of her outline, and bears marks of age which will grow stronger every year, and make her ugly before long. Still it will be a grandiose, gypsy, or rather Sibylline ugliness, well adapted to the expression of some tragic parts. Only it seems as if she could not live long; she expends force enough upon a part to furnish out a dozen common lives.

Though the French tragedy is well acted throughout, yet unhappily there is no male actor now with a spark of fire, and these men seem the meanest pigmies by the side of Rachel;—so on the scene, beside the tragedy intended by the author, you see also that common tragedy, a woman of genius who throws away her precious heart, lives and dies for one unworthy of her. In parts this effect is productive of too much pain. I saw Rachel one night with her brother and sister. The sister imitated her so closely that you could not help seeing she had a manner, and an imitable manner. Her brother was in the play her lover,—a wretched automaton, and presenting the most unhappy family likeness to herself. Since then I have hardly cared to go and see her. We could wish with geniuses, as with the Phoenix, to see only one of the family at a time.

In the pathetic or sentimental drama Paris boasts another young actress, nearly as distinguished in that walk as Rachel in hers. This is Rose Cheny, whom we saw in her ninety-eighth personation of Clarissa Harlowe, and afterward in Genevieve and the Protégé sans le Savoir,—a little piece written expressly for her by Scribe. The "Miss Clarisse" of the French drama is a [pg 191] feeble and partial reproduction of the heroine of Richardson; indeed, the original in all its force of intellect and character would have been too much for the charming Rose Cheny, but to the purity and lovely tenderness of Clarissa she does full justice. In the other characters she was the true French girl, full of grace and a mixture of naïveté and cunning, sentiment and frivolity, that is winning and piquant, if not satisfying. Only grief seems very strange to those bright eyes; we do not find that they can weep much and bear the light of day, and the inhaling of charcoal seems near at hand to their brightest pleasures.

At the other little theatres you see excellent acting, and a sparkle of wit unknown to the world out of France. The little pieces in which all the leading topics of the day are reviewed are full of drolleries that make you laugh at each instant. Poudre-Colon is the only one of these I have seen; in this, among other jokes, Dumas, in the character of Monte-Christo and in a costume half Oriental, half juggler, is made to pass the other theatres in review while seeking candidates for his new one.

Dumas appeared in court yesterday, and defended his own cause against the editors who sue him for evading some of his engagements. I was very desirous to hear him speak, and went there in what I was assured would be very good season; but a French audience, who knew the ground better, had slipped in before me, and I returned, as has been too often the case with me in Paris, having seen nothing but endless staircases, dreary vestibules, and gens d'armes. The hospitality of le grande nation to the stranger is, in many respects, admirable. Galleries, libraries, cabinets of coins, museums, are opened in the most liberal manner to the stranger, warmed, lighted, ay, and guarded, for him almost all days in the week; treasures of the past are at his service; but when anything is happening in the present, the French run quicker, glide in more adroitly, and get possession of the ground. I find it not the most easy matter to get to places even where there is nothing going on, there is so much tiresome fuss of getting billets from one and another to be gone through; but when something is happening it is still worse. I missed hearing M. Guizot in [pg 192] his speech on the Montpensier marriage, which would have given a very good idea of his manner, and which, like this defence of M. Dumas, was a skilful piece of work as regards evasion of the truth. The good feeling toward England which had been fostered with so much care and toil seems to have been entirely dissipated by the mutual recriminations about this marriage, and the old dislike flames up more fiercely for having been hid awhile beneath the ashes. I saw the little Duchess, the innocent or ignorant cause of all this disturbance, when presented at court. She went round the circle on the arm of the Queen. Though only fourteen, she looks twenty, but has something fresh, engaging, and girlish about her. I fancy it will soon be rubbed out under the drill of the royal household.

I attended not only at the presentation, but at the ball given at the Tuileries directly after. These are fine shows, as the suite of apartments is very handsome, brilliantly lighted, and the French ladies surpass all others in the art of dress; indeed, it gave me much, pleasure to see them. Certainly there are many ugly ones, but they are so well dressed, and have such an air of graceful vivacity, that the general effect was that of a flower-garden. As often happens, several American women were among the most distinguished for positive beauty; one from Philadelphia, who is by many persons considered the prettiest ornament of the dress circle at the Italian Opera, was especially marked by the attention of the king. However, these ladies, even if here a long time, do not attain the air and manner of French women; the magnetic atmosphere that envelops them is less brilliant and exhilarating in its attractions.

It was pleasant to my eye, which has always been so wearied in our country by the sombre masses of men that overcloud our public assemblies, to see them now in so great variety of costume, color, and decoration.

Among the crowd wandered Leverrier, in the costume of Academician, looking as if he had lost, not found, his planet. French savants are more generally men of the world, and even men of fashion, than those of other climates; but, in his case, he seemed not to find it easy to exchange the music of the spheres for the music of fiddles.

[pg 193]

Speaking of Leverrier leads to another of my disappointments. I went to the Sorbonne to hear him lecture, nothing dreaming that the old pedantic and theological character of those halls was strictly kept up in these days of light. An old guardian of the inner temple, seeing me approach, had his speech all ready, and, manning the entrance, said with a disdainful air, before we had time to utter a word, "Monsieur may enter if he pleases, but Madame must remain here" (i.e. in the court-yard). After some exclamations of surprise, I found an alternative in the Hotel de Clugny, where I passed an hour very delightfully while waiting for my companion. The rich remains of other centuries are there so arranged that they can be seen to the best advantage; many of the works in ivory, china, and carved wood are truly splendid or exquisite. I saw a dagger with jewelled hilt which talked whole poems to my mind. In the various "Adorations of the Magi," I found constantly one of the wise men black, and with the marked African lineaments. Before I had half finished, my companion came and wished me at least to visit the lecture-rooms of the Sorbonne, now that the talk, too good for female ears, was over. But the guardian again interfered to deny me entrance. "You can go, Madame," said he, "to the College of France; you can go to this and t'other place, but you cannot enter here." "What, sir," said I, "is it your institution alone that remains in a state of barbarism?" "Que voulez vous, Madame?" he replied, and, as he spoke, his little dog began to bark at me,—"Que voulez vous, Madame? c'est la regle,"—"What would you have, Madam? IT IS THE RULE,"—a reply which makes me laugh even now, as I think how the satirical wits of former days might have used it against the bulwarks of learned dulness.

I was more fortunate in hearing Arago, and he justified all my expectations. Clear, rapid, full and equal, his discourse is worthy its celebrity, and I felt repaid for the four hours one is obliged to spend in going, in waiting, and in hearing; for the lecture begins at half past one, and you must be there before twelve to get a seat, so constant and animated is his popularity.

I have attended, with some interest, two discussions at the [pg 194] Athenée,—one on Suicide, the other on the Crusades. They are amateur affairs, where, as always at such times, one hears much, nonsense and vanity, much making of phrases and sentimental grimace; but there was one excellent speaker, adroit and rapid as only a Frenchman could be. With admirable readiness, skill, and rhetorical polish, he examined the arguments of all the others, and built upon their failures a triumph for himself. His management of the language, too, was masterly, and French is the best of languages for such a purpose,—clear, flexible, full of sparkling points and quick, picturesque turns, with a subtile blandness that makes the dart tickle while it wounds. Truly he pleased the fancy, filled the ear, and carried us pleasantly along over the smooth, swift waters; but then came from the crowd a gentleman, not one of the appointed orators of the evening, but who had really something in his heart to say,—a grave, dark man, with Spanish eyes, and the simple dignity of honor and earnestness in all his gesture and manner. He said in few and unadorned words his say, and the sense of a real presence filled the room, and those charms of rhetoric faded, as vanish the beauties of soap-bubbles from the eyes of astonished childhood.

I was present on one good occasion at the Academy the day that M. Rémusat was received there in the place of Royer-Collard. I looked down from one of the tribunes upon the flower of the celebrities of France, that is to say, of the celebrities which are authentic, comme il faut. Among them were many marked faces, many fine heads; but in reading the works of poets we always fancy them about the age of Apollo himself, and I found with pain some of my favorites quite old, and very unlike the company on Parnassus as represented by Raphael. Some, however, were venerable, even noble, to behold. Indeed, the literary dynasty of France is growing old, and here, as in England and Germany, there seems likely to occur a serious gap before the inauguration of another, if indeed another is coming.

However, it was an imposing sight; there are men of real distinction now in the Academy, and Molière would have a fair chance if he were proposed to-day. Among the audience I saw [pg 195] many ladies of fine expression and manner, as well as one or two precieuses ridicules, a race which is never quite extinct.

M. Rémusat, as is the custom on these occasions, painted the portrait of his predecessor; the discourse was brilliant and discriminating in the details, but the orator seemed to me to neglect drawing some obvious inferences which would have given a better point of view for his subject.

A séance to me much more impressive find interesting was one which borrowed nothing from dress, decorations, or the presence of titled pomp. I went to call on La Mennais, to whom I had a letter, I found him in a little study; his secretary was writing in a larger room through which I passed. With him was a somewhat citizen-looking, but vivacious, elderly man, whom I was at first sorry to see, having wished for half an hour's undisturbed visit to the apostle of Democracy. But how quickly were those feelings displaced by joy when he named to me the great national lyrist of France, the unequalled Béranger. I had not expected to see him at all, for he is not one to be seen in any show place; he lives in the hearts of the people, and needs no homage from their eyes. I was very happy in that little study in presence of these two men, whose influence has been so great, so real. To me Béranger has been much; his wit, his pathos, his exquisite lyric grace, have made the most delicate strings vibrate, and I can feel, as well as see, what he is in his nation and his place. I have not personally received anything from La Mennais, as, born under other circumstances, mental facts which he, once the pupil of Rome, has learned by passing through severe ordeals, are at the basis of all my thoughts. But I see well what he has been and is to Europe, and of what great force of nature and spirit. He seems suffering and pale, but in his eyes is the light of the future.

These are men who need no flourish of trumpets to announce their coming,—no band of martial music upon their steps,—no obsequious nobles in their train. They are the true kings, the theocratic kings, the judges in Israel. The hearts of men make music at their approach; the mind of the age is the historian of their passage; and only men of destiny like themselves shall be permitted to write their eulogies, or fill their vacant seats.

[pg 196]

Wherever there is a genius like his own, a germ of the finest fruit still hidden beneath the soil, the "Chante pauvre petit" of Béranger shall strike, like a sunbeam, and give it force to emerge, and wherever there is the true Crusade,—for the spirit, not the tomb of Christ,—shall be felt an echo of the "Que tes armes soient benis jeune soldat" of La Mennais.

[pg 197]

 

LETTER XI.

France and her Artistic Excellence.—The Pictures of Horace Vernet.—De la Roche.—Leopold Robert.—Contrast between the French and English Schools of Art.—The general Appreciation of Turner's Pictures.—Botanical Models in Wax.—Music.—The Opera.—Duprez.—Lablache.—Ronconi.—Grisi.—Persiana.—"Semiramide" as performed by the New York and Paris Operas.—Mario.—Coletti.—Gardini.—"Don Giovanni."—The Writer's Trial of the "Letheon."—Its Effects.

It needs not to speak in this cursory manner of the treasures of Art, pictures, sculptures, engravings, and the other riches which France lays open so freely to the stranger in her Musées. Any examination worth writing of such objects, or account of the thoughts they inspire, demands a place by itself, and an ample field in which to expatiate. The American, first introduced to some good pictures by the truly great geniuses of the religious period in Art, must, if capable at all of mental approximation to the life therein embodied, be too deeply affected, too full of thoughts, to be in haste to say anything, and for me, I bide my time.

No such great crisis, however, is to be apprehended from acquaintance with the productions of the modern French school. They are, indeed, full of talent and of vigor, but also melodramatic and exaggerated to a degree that seems to give the nightmare passage through the fresh and cheerful day. They sound no depth of soul, and are marked with the signet of a degenerate age.

Thus speak I generally. To the pictures of Horace Vernet one cannot but turn a gracious eye, they are so faithful a transcript of the life which circulates around us in the present state of things, and we are willing to see his nobles and generals mounted on [pg 198] such excellent horses. De la Roche gives me pleasure; there is in his pictures a simple and natural poesy; he is a man who has in his own heart a well of good water, whence he draws for himself when the streams are mixed with strange soil and bear offensive marks of the bloody battles of life.

The pictures of Leopold Robert I find charming. They are full of vigor and nobleness; they express a nature where all is rich, young, and on a large scale. Those that I have seen are so happily expressive of the thoughts and perceptions of early manhood, I can hardly regret he did not live to enter on another stage of life, the impression now received is so single.

The effort of the French school in Art, as also its main tendency in literature, seems to be to turn the mind inside out, in the coarsest acceptation of such a phrase. Art can only be truly Art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life. But then it is a symbol that Art seeks to present, and not the fact itself. These French painters seem to have no idea of this; they have not studied the method of Nature. With the true artist, as with Nature herself, the more full the representation, the more profound and enchanting is the sense of mystery. We look and look, as on a flower of which we cannot scrutinize the secret life, yet b; looking seem constantly drawn nearer to the soul that causes and governs that life. But in the French pictures suffering is represented by streams of blood,—wickedness by the most ghastly contortions.

I saw a movement in the opposite direction in England; it was in Turner's pictures of the later period. It is well known that Turner, so long an idol of the English public, paints now in a manner which has caused the liveliest dissensions in the world of connoisseurs. There are two parties, one of which maintains, not only that the pictures of the late period are not good, but that they are not pictures at all,—that it is impossible to make out the design, or find what Turner is aiming at by those strange blotches of color. The other party declare that these pictures are not only good, but divine,—that whoever looks upon them in the true manner will not fail to find there somewhat ineffably and [pg 199] transcendently admirable,—the soul of Art. Books have been written to defend this side of the question.

I had become much interested about this matter, as the fervor of feeling on either side seemed to denote that there was something real and vital going on, and, while time would not permit my visiting other private collections in London and its neighborhood, I insisted on taking it for one of Turner's pictures. It was at the house of one of his devoutest disciples, who has arranged everything in the rooms to harmonize with them. There were a great many of the earlier period; these seemed to me charming, but superficial, views of Nature. They were of a character that he who runs may read,—obvious, simple, graceful. The later pictures were quite a different matter; mysterious-looking things,—hieroglyphics of picture, rather than picture itself. Sometimes you saw a range of red dots, which, after long looking, dawned on you as the roofs of houses,—shining streaks turned out to be most alluring rivulets, if traced with patience and a devout eye. Above all, they charmed the eye and the thought. Still, these pictures, it seems to me, cannot be considered fine works of Art, more than the mystical writing common to a certain class of minds in the United States can be called good writing. A great work of Art demands a great thought, or a thought of beauty adequately expressed. Neither in Art nor literature more than in life can an ordinary thought be made interesting because well dressed. But in a transition state, whether of Art or literature, deeper thoughts are imperfectly expressed, because they cannot yet be held and treated masterly. This seems to be the case with Turner. He has got beyond the English gentleman's conventional view of Nature, which implies a little sentiment and a very cultivated taste; he has become awake to what is elemental, normal, in Nature,—such, for instance, as one sees in the working of water on the sea-shore. He tries to represent these primitive forms. In the drawings of Piranesi, in the pictures of Rembrandt, one sees this grand language exhibited more truly. It is not picture, but certain primitive and leading effects of light and shadow, or [pg 200] lines and contours, that captivate the attention. I saw a picture of Rembrandt's at the Louvre, whose subject I do not know and have never cared to inquire. I cannot analyze the group, but I understand and feel the thought it embodies. At something similar Turner seems aiming; an aim so opposed to the practical and outward tendency of the English mind, that, as a matter of course, the majority find themselves mystified, and thereby angered, but for the same reason answering to so deep and seldom satisfied a want in the minds of the minority, as to secure the most ardent sympathy where any at all can be elicited.

Upon this topic of the primitive forms and operations of nature, I am reminded of something interesting I was looking at yesterday. These are botanical models in wax, with microscopic dissections, by an artist from Florence, a pupil of Calamajo, the Director of the Wax-Model Museum there. I saw collections of ten different genera, embracing from fifty to sixty species, of Fungi, Mosses, and Lichens, detected and displayed in all the beautiful secrets of their lives; many of them, as observed by Dr. Leveillé of Paris. The artist told me that a fisherman, introduced to such acquaintance with the marvels of love and beauty which we trample under foot or burn in the chimney each careless day, exclaimed, "'T is the good God who protects us on the sea that made all these"; and a similar recognition, a correspondent feeling, will not be easily evaded by the most callous observer. This artist has supplied many of these models to the magnificent collection of the Jardin des Plantes, to Edinburgh, and to Bologna, and would furnish them, to our museums at a much cheaper rate than they can elsewhere be obtained. I wish the Universities of Cambridge, New York, and other leading institutions of our country, might avail themselves of the opportunity.

In Paris I have not been very fortunate in hearing the best music. At the different Opera-Houses, the orchestra is always good, but the vocalization, though far superior to what I have heard at home, falls so far short of my ideas and hopes that—except to the Italian Opera—I have not been often. The Opera Comique I visited only once; it was tolerably well, and no more, [pg 201] and, for myself, I find the tolerable intolerable in music. At the Grand Opera I heard Robert le Diable and Guillaume Tell almost with ennui; the decorations and dresses are magnificent, the instrumental performance good, but not one fine singer to fill these fine parts. Duprez has had a great reputation, and probably has sung better In former days; still he has a vulgar mind, and can never have had any merit as an artist. At present I find him unbearable. He forces his voice, sings in the most coarse, showy style, and aims at producing effects without regard to the harmony of his part; fat and vulgar, he still takes the part of the lover and young chevalier; to my sorrow I saw him in Ravenswood, and he has well-nigh disenchanted for me the Bride of Lammermoor.

The Italian Opera is here as well sustained, I believe, as anywhere in the world at present; all about it is certainly quite good, but alas! nothing excellent, nothing admirable. Yet no! I must not say nothing: Lablache is excellent,—voice, intonation, manner of song, action. Ronconi I found good in the Doctor of "L'Elisire d'Amore". For the higher parts Grisi, though now much too large for some of her parts, and without a particle of poetic grace or dignity, has certainly beauty of feature, and from nature a fine voice. But I find her conception of her parts equally coarse and shallow. Her love is the love of a peasant; her anger, though having the Italian picturesque richness and vigor, is the anger of an Italian fishwife, entirely unlike anything in the same rank elsewhere; her despair is that of a person with the toothache, or who has drawn a blank in the lottery. The first time I saw her was in Norma; then the beauty of her outline, which becomes really enchanting as she recalls the first emotions of love, the force and gush of her song, filled my ear, and charmed the senses, so that I was pleased, and did not perceive her great defects; but with each time of seeing her I liked her less, and now I do not like her at all.

Persiani is more generally a favorite here; she is indeed skilful both as an actress and in the management of her voice, but I find her expression meretricious, her singing mechanical. Neither of these women is equal to Pico in natural force, if she [pg 202] had but the same advantages of culture and environment. In hearing Semiramide here, I first learned to appreciate the degree of talent with which it was cast in New York. Grisi indeed is a far better Semiramis than Borghese, but the best parts of the opera lost all their charm from the inferiority of Brambilla, who took Pico's place. Mario has a charming voice, grace and tenderness; he fills very well the part of the young, chivalric lover, but he has no range of power. Coletti is a very good singer; he has not from Nature a fine voice or personal beauty; but he has talent, good taste, and often surpasses the expectation he has inspired. Gardini, the new singer, I have only heard once, and that was in a lovesick-shepherd part; he showed delicacy, tenderness, and tact. In fine, among all these male singers there is much to please, but little to charm; and for the women, they never fail absolutely to fill their parts, but no ray of the Muse has fallen on them.

Don Giovanni conferred on me a benefit, of which certainly its great author never dreamed. I shall relate it,—first begging pardon of Mozart, and assuring him I had no thought of turning his music to the account of a "vulgar utility." It was quite by accident. After suffering several days very much with the toothache, I resolved to get rid of the cause of sorrow by the aid of ether; not sorry, either, to try its efficacy, after all the marvellous stories I had heard. The first time I inhaled it, I did not for several seconds feel the effect, and was just thinking, "Alas! this has not power to soothe nerves so irritable as mine," when suddenly I wandered off, I don't know where, but it was a sensation like wandering in long garden-walks, and through many alleys of trees,—many impressions, but all pleasant and serene. The moment the tube was removed, I started into consciousness, and put my hand to my cheek; but, sad! the throbbing tooth was still there. The dentist said I had not seemed to him insensible. He then gave me the ether in a stronger dose, and this time I quitted the body instantly, and cannot remember any detail of what I saw and did; but the impression was as in the Oriental tale, where the man has his head in the water an instant only, but in his vision a [pg 203] thousand years seem to have passed. I experienced that same sense of an immense length of time and succession of impressions; even, now, the moment my mind was in that state seems to me a far longer period in time than my life on earth does as I look back upon it. Suddenly I seemed to see the old dentist, as I had for the moment before I inhaled the gas, amid his plants, in his nightcap and dressing-gown; in the twilight the figure had somewhat of a Faust-like, magical air, and he seemed to say, "C'est inutile." Again I started up, fancying that once more he had not dared to extract the tooth, but it was gone. What is worth, noticing is the mental translation I made of his words, which, my ear must have caught, for my companion tells me he said, "C'est le moment," a phrase of just as many syllables, but conveying just the opposite sense.

Ah! I how I wished then, that you had settled, there in the United States, who really brought this means of evading a portion of the misery of life into use. But as it was, I remained at a loss whom to apostrophize with my benedictions, whether Dr. Jackson, Morton, or Wells, and somebody thus was robbed of his clue;—neither does Europe know to whom to address her medals.

However, there is no evading the heavier part of these miseries. You avoid the moment of suffering, and escape the effort of screwing up your courage for one of these moments, but not the jar to the whole system. I found the effect of having taken the ether bad for me. I seemed to taste it all the time, and neuralgic pain continued; this lasted three days. For the evening of the third, I had taken a ticket to Don Giovanni, and could not bear to give up this opera, which I had always been longing to hear; still I was in much suffering, and, as it was the sixth day I had been so, much weakened. However, I went, expecting to be obliged to come out; but the music soothed the nerves at once. I hardly suffered at all during the opera; however, I supposed the pain would return as soon as I came out; but no! it left me from that time. Ah! if physicians only understood the influence of the mind over the body, instead of treating, as they so often do, their patients like machines, and according to precedent! But I must pause here for to-day.

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LETTER XII.

Adieu to Paris.—Its Scenes.—The Procession of the Fat Ox.—Destitution of the Poorer Classes.—Need of a Reform.—The Doctrines of Fourier making Progress.—Review of Fourier's Life and Character.—The Parisian Press on the Spanish Marriage.—Guizot's Policy.—Napoleon.—The Manuscripts of Rousseau in the Chamber of Deputies.—His Character.—Speech of M. Berryer in the Chamber.—American and French Oratory.—The Affair of Cracow.—Dull Speakers in the Chamber.—French Vivacity.—Amusing Scene.—Guizot speaking.—International Exchange of Books.—The Evening School of the Frères Chretiens.—The Great Good accomplished by them.—Suggestions for the like in America.—The Institution of the Deaconesses.—The New York "Home."—School for Idiots near Paris.—The Reclamation of Idiots.

I bade adieu to Paris on the 25th of February, just as we had had one fine day. It was the only one of really delightful weather, from morning till night, that I had to enjoy all the while I was at Paris, from the 13th of November till the 25th of February. Let no one abuse our climate; even in winter it is delightful, compared to the Parisian winter of mud and mist.

This one day brought out the Parisian world in its gayest colors. I never saw anything more animated or prettier, of the kind, than the promenade that day in the Champs Elysées. Such crowds of gay equipages, with cavaliers and their amazons flying through their midst on handsome and swift horses! On the promenade, what groups of passably pretty ladies, with excessively pretty bonnets, announcing in their hues of light green, peach-blossom, and primrose the approach of spring, and charming children, for French children are charming! I cannot speak with equal approbation of the files of men sauntering arm in arm. One sees [pg 205] few fine-looking men in Paris: the air, half-military, half-dandy, of self-esteem and savoir-faire, is not particularly interesting; nor are the glassy stare and fumes of bad cigars exactly what one most desires to encounter, when the heart is opened by the breath of spring zephyrs and the hope of buds and blossoms.

But a French crowd is always gay, full of quick turns and drolleries; most amusing when most petulant, it represents what is so agreeable in the character of the nation. We have now seen it on two good occasions, the festivities of the new year, and just after we came was the procession of the Fat Ox, described, if I mistake not, by Eugene Sue. An immense crowd thronged the streets this year to see it, but few figures and little invention followed the emblem of plenty; indeed, few among the people could have had the heart for such a sham, knowing how the poorer classes have suffered from hunger this winter. All signs of this are kept out of sight in Paris. A pamphlet, called "The Voice of Famine," stating facts, though in the tone of vulgar and exaggerated declamation, unhappily common to productions on the radical side, was suppressed almost as soon as published; but the fact cannot be suppressed, that the people in the provinces have suffered most terribly amid the vaunted prosperity of France.

While Louis Philippe lives, the gases, compressed by his strong grasp, may not burst up to light; but the need of some radical measures of reform is not less strongly felt in France than elsewhere, and the time will come before long when such will be imperatively demanded. The doctrines of Fourier are making considerable progress, and wherever they spread, the necessity of some practical application of the precepts of Christ, in lieu of the mummeries of a worn-out ritual, cannot fail to be felt. The more I see of the terrible ills which infest the body politic of Europe, the more indignation I feel at the selfishness or stupidity of those in my own country who oppose an examination of these subjects,—such as is animated by the hope of prevention. The mind of Fourier was, in many respects, uncongenial to mine. Educated in an age of gross materialism, he was tainted by its faults. In [pg 206] attempts to reorganize society, he commits the error of making soul the result of health of body, instead of body the clothing of soul; but his heart was that of a genuine lover of his kind, of a philanthropist in the sense of Jesus,—his views were large and noble. His life was one of devout study on these subjects, and I should pity the person who, after the briefest sojourn in Manchester and Lyons,—the most superficial acquaintance with the population of London and Paris,—could seek to hinder a study of his thoughts, or be wanting in reverence for his purposes. But always, always, the unthinking mob has found stones on the highway to throw at the prophets.

Amid so many great causes for thought and anxiety, how childish has seemed the endless gossip of the Parisian press on the subject of the Spanish marriage,—how melancholy the flimsy falsehoods of M. Guizot,—more melancholy the avowal so naïvely made, amid those falsehoods, that to his mind expediency is the best policy! This is the policy, said he, that has made France so prosperous. Indeed, the success is correspondent with the means, though in quite another sense than that he meant.

I went to the Hotel des Invalides, supposing I should be admitted to the spot where repose the ashes of Napoleon, for though I love not pilgrimages to sepulchres, and prefer paying my homage to the living spirit rather than to the dust it once animated, I should have liked to muse a moment beside his urn; but as yet the visitor is not admitted there. In the library, however, one sees the picture of Napoleon crossing the Alps, opposite to that of the present King of the French. Just as they are, these should serve as frontispieces to two chapters of history. In the first, the seed was sown in a field of blood indeed, yet was it the seed of all that is vital in the present period. By Napoleon the career was really laid open to talent, and all that is really great in France now consists in the possibility that talent finds of struggling to the light.

Paris is a great intellectual centre, and there is a Chamber of Deputies to represent the people, very different from the poor, limited Assembly politically so called. Their tribune is that of literature, and one needs not to beg tickets to mingle with the [pg 207] audience. To the actually so-called Chamber of Deputies I was indebted for two pleasures. First and greatest, a sight of the manuscripts of Rousseau treasured in their Library. I saw them and touched them,—those manuscripts just as he has celebrated them, written on the fine white paper, tied with ribbon. Yellow and faded age has made them, yet at their touch I seemed to feel the fire of youth, immortally glowing, more and more expansive, with which his soul has pervaded this century. He was the precursor of all we most prize. True, his blood was mixed with madness, and the course of his actual life made some detours through villanous places, but his spirit was intimate with the fundamental truths of human nature, and fraught with prophecy. There is none who has given birth to more life for this age; his gifts are yet untold; they are too present with us; but he who thinks really must often think with Rousseau, and learn of him even more and more: such is the method of genius, to ripen fruit for the crowd of those rays of whose heat they complain.

The second pleasure was in the speech of M. Berryer, when the Chamber was discussing the Address to the King. Those of Thiers and Guizot had been, so far, more interesting, as they stood for more that was important; but M. Berryer is the most eloquent speaker of the House. His oratory is, indeed, very good; not logical, but plausible, full and rapid, with occasional bursts of flame and showers of sparks, though indeed no stone of size and weight enough to crush any man was thrown out of the crater. Although the oratory of our country is very inferior to what might be expected from the perfect freedom and powerful motive for development of genius in this province, it presents several examples of persons superior in both force and scope, and equal in polish, to M. Berryer.

Nothing can be more pitiful than the manner in which the infamous affair of Cracow is treated on all hands. There is not even the affectation of noble feeling about it. La Mennais and his coadjutors published in La Reforme an honorable and manly protest, which the public rushed to devour the moment it was out of the press;—and no wonder! for it was the only crumb of [pg 208] comfort offered to those who have the nobleness to hope that the confederation of nations may yet be conducted on the basis of divine justice and human right. Most men who touched the subject apparently weary of feigning, appeared in their genuine colors of the calmest, most complacent selfishness. As described by Körner in the prayer of such a man:—

"O God, save me,

My wife, child, and hearth,

Then my harvest also;

Then will I bless thee,

Though thy lightning scorch to blackness

All the rest of human kind."

A sentiment which finds its paraphrase in the following vulgate of our land:—

"O Lord, save me,

My wife, child, and brother Sammy,

Us four, and no more."

The latter clause, indeed, is not quite frankly avowed as yet by politicians.

It is very amusing to be in the Chamber of Deputies when some dull person is speaking. The French have a truly Greek vivacity; they cannot endure to be bored. Though their conduct is not very dignified, I should like a corps of the same kind of sharp-shooters in our legislative assemblies when honorable gentlemen are addressing their constituents and not the assembly, repeating in lengthy, windy, clumsy paragraphs what has been the truism of the newspaper press for months previous, wickedly wasting the time that was given us to learn something for ourselves, and help our fellow-creatures. In the French Chamber, if a man who has nothing to say ascends the tribune, the audience-room is filled with the noise as of myriad beehives; the President rises on his feet, and passes the whole time of the speech in taking the most violent exercise, stretching himself to look imposing, ringing his bell every two minutes, shouting to the representatives of the nation to be decorous and attentive. In vain: the more he rings, the more they won't be still. I saw an orator in this situation, [pg 209] fighting against the desires of the audience, as only a Frenchman could,—certainly a man of any other nation would have died of embarrassment rather,—screaming out his sentences, stretching out both arms with an air of injured dignity, panting, growing red in the face; but the hubbub of voices never stopped an instant. At last he pretended to be exhausted, stopped, and took out his snuff-box. Instantly there was a calm. He seized the occasion, and shouted out a sentence; but it was the only one he was able to make heard. They were not to be trapped so a second time. When any one is speaking that commands interest, as Berryer did, the effect of this vivacity is very pleasing, the murmur of feeling that rushes over the assembly is so quick and electric,—light, too, as the ripple on the lake. I heard Guizot speak one day for a short time. His manner is very deficient in dignity,—has not even the dignity of station; you see the man of cultivated intellect, but without inward strength; nor is even his panoply of proof.

I saw in the Library of the Deputies some books intended to be sent to our country through M. Vattemare. The French have shown great readiness and generosity with regard to his project, and I earnestly hope that our country, if it accept these tokens of good-will, will show both energy and judgment in making a return. I do not speak from myself alone, but from others whose opinion is entitled to the highest respect, when I say it is not by sending a great quantity of documents of merely local interest, that would be esteemed lumber in our garrets at home, that you pay respect to a nation able to look beyond, the binding of a book. If anything is to be sent, let persons of ability be deputed to make a selection honorable to us and of value to the French. They would like documents from our Congress,—what is important as to commerce and manufactures; they would also like much what can throw light on the history and character of our aborigines. This project of international exchange could not be carried on to any permanent advantage without accredited agents on either side, but in its present shape it wears an aspect of good feeling that is valuable, and may give a very desirable impulse to thought [pg 210] and knowledge. M. Vattemare has given himself to the plan with indefatigable perseverance, and I hope our country will not be backward to accord him that furtherance he has known how to conquer from his countrymen.

To his complaisance I was indebted for opportunity of a leisurely survey of the Imprimeri Royale, which gave me several suggestions I shall impart at a more favorable time, and of the operations of the Mint also. It was at his request that the Librarian of the Chamber showed me the manuscripts of Rousseau, which are not always seen by the traveller. He also introduced me to one of the evening schools of the Frères Chretiens, where I saw, with pleasure, how much can be done for the working classes only by evening lessons. In reading and writing, adults had made surprising progress, and still more so in drawing. I saw with the highest pleasure, excellent copies of good models, made by hard-handed porters and errand-boys with their brass badges on their breasts. The benefits of such an accomplishment are, in my eyes, of the highest value, giving them, by insensible degrees, their part in the glories of art and science, and in the tranquil refinements of home. Visions rose in my mind of all that might be done in our country by associations of men and women who have received the benefits of literary culture, giving such evening lessons throughout our cities and villages. Should I ever return, I shall propose to some of the like-minded an association for such a purpose, and try the experiment of one of these schools of Christian brothers, with the vow of disinterestedness, but without the robe and the subdued priestly manner, which even in these men, some of whom seemed to me truly good, I could not away with.

I visited also a Protestant institution, called that of the Deaconesses, which pleased me in some respects. Beside the regular Crèche, they take the sick children of the poor, and nurse them till they are well. They have also a refuge like that of the Home which, the ladies of New York have provided, through which members of the most unjustly treated class of society may return to peace and usefulness. There are institutions of the kind in [pg 211] Paris, but too formal,—and the treatment shows ignorance of human nature. I see nothing that shows so enlightened a spirit as the Home, a little germ of good which I hope flourishes and finds active aid in the community. I have collected many facts with regard to this suffering class of women, both in England and in France. I have seen them under the thin veil of gayety, and in the horrible tatters of utter degradation. I have seen the feelings of men with regard to their condition, and the general heartlessness in women of more favored and protected lives, which I can only ascribe to utter ignorance of the facts. If a proclamation of some of these can remove it, I hope to make such a one in the hour of riper judgment, and after a more extensive survey.

Sad as are many features of the time, we have at least the satisfaction of feeling that if something true can be revealed, if something wise and kind shall be perseveringly tried, it stands a chance of nearer success than ever before; for much light has been let in at the windows of the world, and many dark nooks have been touched by a consoling ray. The influence of such a ray I felt in visiting the School for Idiots, near Paris,—idiots, so called long time by the impatience of the crowd; yet there are really none such, but only beings so below the average standard, so partially organized, that it is difficult for them to learn or to sustain themselves. I wept the whole time I was in this place a shower of sweet and bitter tears; of joy at what had been done, of grief for all that I and others possess and cannot impart to these little ones. But patience, and the Father of All will give them all yet. A good angel these of Paris have in their master. I have seen no man that seemed to me more worthy of envy, if one could envy happiness so pure and tender. He is a man of seven or eight and twenty, who formerly came there only to give lessons in writing, but became so interested in his charge that he came at last to live among them and to serve them. They sing the hymns he writes for them, and as I saw his fine countenance looking in love on those distorted and opaque vases of humanity, where he had succeeded in waking up a faint flame, I thought his heart could never fail to be well warmed and buoyant. They [pg 212] sang well, both in parts and in chorus, went through gymnastic exercises with order and pleasure, then stood in a circle and kept time, while several danced extremely well. One little fellow, with whom the difficulty seemed to be that an excess of nervous sensibility paralyzed instead of exciting the powers, recited poems with a touching, childish grace and perfect memory. They write well, draw well, make shoes, and do carpenter's work. One of the cases most interesting to the metaphysician is that of a boy, brought there about two years and a half ago, at the age of thirteen, in a state of brutality, and of ferocious brutality. I read the physician's report of him at that period. He discovered no ray of decency or reason; entirely beneath the animals in the exercise of the senses, he discovered a restless fury beyond that of beasts of prey, breaking and throwing down whatever came in his way; was a voracious glutton, and every way grossly sensual. Many trials and vast patience were necessary before an inlet could be obtained to his mind; then it was through the means of mathematics. He delights in the figures, can draw and name them all, detects them by the touch when blindfolded. Each, mental effort of the kind he still follows up with an imbecile chuckle, as indeed his face and whole manner are still that of an idiot; but he has been raised from his sensual state, and can now discriminate and name colors and perfumes which before were all alike to him. He is partially redeemed; earlier, no doubt, far more might have been done for him, but the degree of success is an earnest which must encourage to perseverance in the most seemingly hopeless cases. I thought sorrowfully of the persons of this class whom I have known in our country, who might have been so raised and solaced by similar care. I hope ample provision may erelong be made for these Pariahs of the human race; every case of the kind brings its blessings with it, and observation on these subjects would be as rich in suggestion for the thought, as such acts of love are balmy for the heart.

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LETTER XIII.

Music in Paris.—Chopin and the Chevalier Neukomm.—Adieu to Paris.—A Midnight Drive in a Diligence.—Lyons and its Weavers.—Their Manner of Life.—A Young Wife.—The Weavers' Children.—The Banks of the Rhone.—Dreary Weather for Southern France.—The Old Roman Amphitheatre at Arles.—The Women of Arles.—Marseilles.—Passage to Genoa.—Italy.—Genoa and Naples.—Baiæ.—Vesuvius.—The Italian Character at Home.—Passage from Leghorn in a Small Steamer.—Narrow Escape.—A Confusion of Languages.—Degradation of the Neapolitans.

Naples.

In my last days at Paris I was fortunate in hearing some delightful music. A friend of Chopin's took me to see him, and I had the pleasure, which the delicacy of Iris health makes a rare one for the public, of hearing him play. All the impressions I had received from hearing his music imperfectly performed were justified, for it has marked traits, which can be veiled, but not travestied; but to feel it as it merits, one must hear himself; only a person as exquisitely organized as he can adequately express these subtile secrets of the creative spirit.

It was with, a very different sort of pleasure that I listened to the Chevalier Neukomm, the celebrated composer of "David," which has been so popular in our country. I heard him improvise on the orgue expressif, and afterward on a great organ which has just been built here by Cavaille for the cathedral of Ajaccio. Full, sustained, ardent, yet exact, the stream, of his thought bears with it the attention of hearers of all characters, as his character, full of bonhommie, open, friendly, animated, and sagacious, would seem to have something to present for the affection and esteem of all kinds of men.

Chopin is the minstrel, Neukomm the orator of music: we [pg 214] want them both,—the mysterious whispers and the resolute pleadings from the better world, which calls us not to slumber here, but press daily onward to claim our heritage.

Paris! I was sad to leave thee, thou wonderful focus, where ignorance ceases to be a pain, because there we find such means daily to lessen it. It is the only school where I ever found abundance of teachers who could bear being examined by the pupil in their special branches. I must go to this school more before I again cross the Atlantic, where often for years I have carried about some trifling question without finding the person who could answer it. Really deep questions we must all answer for ourselves; the more the pity, then, that we get not quickly through with a crowd of details, where the experience of others might accelerate our progress.

Leaving by diligence, we pursued our way from twelve o'clock on Thursday till twelve at night on Friday, thus having a large share of magnificent moonlight upon the unknown fields we were traversing. At Chalons we took boat and reached Lyons betimes that afternoon. So soon as refreshed, we sallied out to visit some of the garrets of the weavers. As we were making inquiries about these, a sweet little girl who heard us offered to be our guide. She led us by a weary, winding way, whose pavement was much easier for her feet in their wooden sabots than for ours in Paris shoes, to the top of a hill, from which we saw for the first time "the blue and arrowy Rhone." Entering the light buildings on this high hill, I found each chamber tenanted by a family of weavers,—all weavers; wife, husband, sons, daughters,—from nine years old upward,—each was helping. On one side were the looms; nearer the door the cooking apparatus; the beds were shelves near the ceiling: they climbed up to them on ladders. My sweet little girl turned out to be a wife of six or seven years' standing, with two rather sickly-looking children; she seemed to have the greatest comfort that is possible amid the perplexities of a hard and anxious lot, to judge by the proud and affectionate manner in which she always said "mon mari," and by the courteous gentleness of his manner toward her. She seemed, indeed, [pg 215] to be one of those persons on whom "the Graces have smiled in their cradle," and to whom a natural loveliness of character makes the world as easy as it can be made while the evil spirit is still so busy choking the wheat with tares. I admired her graceful manner of introducing us into those dark little rooms, and she was affectionately received by all her acquaintance. But alas! that voice, by nature of such bird-like vivacity, repeated again and again, "Ah! we are all very unhappy now." "Do you sing together, or go to evening schools?" "We have not the heart. When we have a piece of work, we do not stir till it is finished, and then we run to try and get another; but often we have to wait idle for weeks. It grows worse and worse, and they say it is not likely to be any better. We can think of nothing, but whether we shall be able to pay our rent. Ah! the workpeople are very unhappy now." This poor, lovely little girl, at an age when the merchant's daughters of Boston and New York are just gaining their first experiences of "society," knew to a farthing the price of every article of food and clothing that is wanted by such a household. Her thought by day and her dream by night was, whether she should long be able to procure a scanty supply of these, and Nature had gifted her with precisely those qualities, which, unembarrassed by care, would have made her and all she loved really happy; and she was fortunate now, compared with many of her sex in Lyons,—of whom a gentleman who knows the class well said: "When their work fails, they have no resource except in the sale of their persons. There are but these two ways open to them, weaving or prostitution, to gain their bread." And there are those who dare to say that such a state of things is well enough, and what Providence intended for man,—who call those who have hearts to suffer at the sight, energy and zeal to seek its remedy, visionaries and fanatics! To themselves be woe, who have eyes and see not, ears and hear not, the convulsions and sobs of injured Humanity!

My little friend told me she had nursed both her children,—though almost all of her class are obliged to put their children out to nurse; "but," said she, "they are brought back so little, [pg 216] so miserable, that I resolved, if possible, to keep mine with me." Next day in the steamboat I read a pamphlet by a physician of Lyons in which he recommends the establishment of Crèches, not merely like those of Paris, to keep the children by day, but to provide wet-nurses for them. Thus, by the infants receiving nourishment from more healthy persons, and who under the supervision of directors would treat them well, he hopes to counteract the tendency to degenerate in this race of sedentary workers, and to save the mothers from too heavy a burden of care and labor, without breaking the bond between them and their children, whom, under such circumstances, they could visit often, and see them taken care of as they, brought up to know nothing except how to weave, cannot take care of them. Here, again, how is one reminded of Fourier's observations and plans, still more enforced by the recent developments at Manchester as to the habit of feeding children on opium, which has grown out of the position of things there.

Descending next day to Avignon, I had the mortification of finding the banks of the Rhone still sheeted with white, and there waded through melting snow to Laura's tomb. We did not see Mr. Dickens's Tower and Goblin,—it was too late in the day,—but we saw a snowball fight between two bands of the military in the castle yard that was gay enough to make a goblin laugh. And next day on to Arles, still snow,—snow and cutting blasts in the South of France, where everybody had promised us bird-songs and blossoms to console us for the dreary winter of Paris. At Arles, indeed, I saw the little saxifrage blossoming on the steps of the Amphitheatre, and fruit-trees in flower amid the tombs. Here for the first time I saw the great handwriting of the Romans in its proper medium of stone, and I was content. It looked us grand and solid as I expected, as if life in those days was thought worth the having, the enjoying, and the using. The sunlight was warm this day; it lay deliciously still and calm upon the ruins. One old woman sat knitting where twenty-five thousand persons once gazed down in fierce excitement on the fights of men and lions. Coming back, we were refreshed all [pg 217] through the streets by the sight of the women of Arles. They answered to their reputation for beauty; tall, erect, and noble, with high and dignified features, and a full, earnest gaze of the eye, they looked as if the Eagle still waved its wings over their city. Even the very old women still have a degree of beauty, because when the colors are all faded, and the skin wrinkled, the face retains this dignity of outline. The men do not share in these characteristics; some priestess, well beloved of the powers of old religion, must have called down an especial blessing on her sex in this town.

Hence to Marseilles,—where is little for the traveller to see, except the mixture of Oriental blood in the crowd of the streets. Thence by steamer to Genoa. Of this transit, he who has been on the Mediterranean in a stiff breeze well understands I can have nothing to say, except "I suffered." It was all one dull, tormented dream to me, and, I believe, to most of the ship's company,—a dream too of thirty hours' duration, instead of the promised sixteen.

The excessive beauty of Genoa is well known, and the impression upon the eye alone was correspondent with what I expected; but, alas! the weather was still so cold I could not realize that I had actually touched those shores to which I had looked forward all my life, where it seemed that the heart would expand, and the whole nature be turned to delight. Seen by a cutting wind, the marble palaces, the gardens, the magnificent water-view of Genoa, failed to charm,—"I saw, not felt, how beautiful they were." Only at Naples have I found my Italy, and here not till after a week's waiting,—not till I began to believe that all I had heard in praise of the climate of Italy was fable, and that there is really no spring anywhere except in the imagination of poets. For the first week was an exact copy of the miseries of a New England spring; a bright sun came for an hour or two in the morning, just to coax you forth without your cloak, and then came up a villanous, horrible wind, exactly like the worst east wind of Boston, breaking the heart, racking the brain, and turning hope and fancy to an irrevocable green and yellow hue, in lieu of their native rose.

[pg 218]

However, here at Naples I have at last found my Italy; I have passed through the Grotto of Pausilippo, visited Cuma, Baiæ, and Capri, ascended Vesuvius, and found all familiar, except the sense of enchantment, of sweet exhilaration, this scene conveys.

"Behold how brightly breaks the morning!"

and yet all new, as if never yet described, for Nature here, most prolific and exuberant in her gifts, has touched them all with a charm unhackneyed, unhackneyable, which the boots of English dandies cannot trample out, nor the raptures of sentimental tourists daub or fade. Baiæ had still a hid divinity for me, Vesuvius a fresh baptism of fire, and Sorrento—O Sorrento was beyond picture, beyond poesy, for the greatest Artist had been at work there in a temper beyond the reach of human art.

Beyond this, reader, my old friend and valued acquaintance on other themes, I shall tell you nothing of Naples, for it is a thing apart in the journey of life, and, if represented at all, should be so in a fairer form than offers itself at present. Now the actual life here is over, I am going to Rome, and expect to see that fane of thought the last day of this week.

At Genoa and Leghorn, I saw for the first time Italians in their homes. Very attractive I found them, charming women, refined men, eloquent and courteous. If the cold wind hid Italy, it could not the Italians. A little group of faces, each so full of character, dignity, and, what is so rare in an American face, the capacity for pure, exalting passion, will live ever in my memory,—the fulfilment of a hope!

We started from Leghorn in an English boat, highly recommended, and as little deserving of such praise as many another bepuffed article. In the middle of a fine, clear night, she was run into by the mail steamer, which all on deck clearly saw coming upon her, for no reason that could be ascertained, except that the man at the wheel said he had turned the right way, and it never seemed to occur to him that he could change when he found the other steamer had taken the same direction. To be sure, the other steamer was equally careless, but as a change on our part [pg 219] would have prevented an accident that narrowly missed sending us all to the bottom, it hardly seemed worth while to persist, for the sake of convicting them of error.

Neither the Captain nor any of his people spoke French, and we had been much amused before by the chambermaid acting out the old story of "Will you lend me the loan of a gridiron?" A Polish lady was on board, with a French waiting-maid, who understood no word of English. The daughter of John Bull would speak to the lady in English, and, when she found it of no use, would say imperiously to the suivante, "Go and ask your mistress what she will have for breakfast." And now when I went on deck there was a parley between the two steamers, which the Captain was obliged to manage by such interpreters as he could find; it was a long and confused business. It ended at last in the Neapolitan steamer taking us in tow for an inglorious return to Leghorn. When she had decided upon this she swept round, her lights glancing like sagacious eyes, to take us. The sea was calm as a lake, the sky full of stars; she made a long detour, with her black hull, her smoke and lights, which look so pretty at night, then came round to us like the bend of an arm embracing. It was a pretty picture, worth the stop and the fright,—perhaps the loss of twenty-four hours, though I did not think so at the time.

At Leghorn we changed the boat, and, retracing our steps, came now at last to Naples,—to this priest-ridden, misgoverned, full of dirty, degraded men and women, yet still most lovely Naples,—of which the most I can say is that the divine aspect of nature can make you forget the situation of man in this region, which was surely intended for him as a princely child, angelic in virtue, genius, and beauty, and not as a begging, vermin-haunted, image kissing Lazzarone.

[pg 220]

 

LETTER XIV.

Italy.—Misfortune of Travellers.—English Travellers.—Cockneyism.—Macdonald the Sculptor.—British Aristocracy.—Tenerani.—Wolff's Diana and Seasons.—Gott.—Crawford.—Overbeck the Painter.—American Painters in Rome.—Terry.—Granch.—Hicks.—Remains of the Antique.—Italian Painters.—Domenichimo and Titian.—Frescos of Raphael.—Michel Angelo.—The Colosseum.—Holy Week.—St. Peter's.—Pius IX. and his Measures.—Popular Enthusiasm.—Public Dinner at the Baths of Titus.—Austrian Jealousy.—The "Contemporaneo."

Rome, May, 1847.

There is very little that I can like to write about Italy. Italy is beautiful, worthy to be loved and embraced, not talked about. Yet I remember well that, when afar, I liked to read what was written about her; now, all thought of it is very tedious.

The traveller passing along the beaten track, vetturinoed from inn to inn, ciceroned from gallery to gallery, thrown, through indolence, want of tact, or ignorance of the language, too much into the society of his compatriots, sees the least possible of the country; fortunately, it is impossible to avoid seeing a great deal. The great features of the part pursue and fill the eye.

Yet I find that it is quite out of the question to know Italy; to say anything of her that is full and sweet, so as to convey any idea of her spirit, without long residence, and residence in the districts untouched by the scorch and dust of foreign invasion (the invasion of the dilettanti I mean), and without an intimacy of feeling, an abandonment to the spirit of the place, impossible to most Americans. They retain too much, of their English blood; and the travelling English, as a class, seem to me the most unseeing of all possible animals. There are exceptions; for instance, the perceptions and pictures of Browning seem as delicate and just here on the spot as they did at a distance; but, take them as a class, [pg 221] they have the vulgar familiarity of Mrs. Trollope without her vivacity, the cockneyism of Dickens without his graphic power and love of the odd corners of human nature. I admired the English at home in their island; I admired their honor, truth, practical intelligence, persistent power. But they do not look well in Italy; they are not the figures for this landscape. I am indignant at the contempt they have presumed to express for the faults of our semi-barbarous state. What is the vulgarity expressed in our tobacco-chewing, and way of eating eggs, compared to that which elbows the Greek marbles, guide-book in hand,—chatters and sneers through the Miserere of the Sistine Chapel, beneath the very glance of Michel Angelo's Sibyls,—praises St. Peter's as "nice"—talks of "managing" the Colosseum by moonlight,—and snatches "bits" for a "sketch" from the sublime silence of the Campagna.

Yet I was again reconciled with them, the other day, in visiting the studio of Macdonald. There I found a complete gallery of the aristocracy of England; for each lord and lady who visits Rome considers it a part of the ceremony to sit to him for a bust. And what a fine race! how worthy the marble! what heads of orators, statesmen, gentlemen! of women chaste, grave, resolute, and tender! Unfortunately, they do not look as well in flesh and blood; then they show the habitual coldness of their temperament, the habitual subservience to frivolous conventionalities. They need some great occasion, some exciting crisis, in order to make them look as free and dignified as these busts; yet is the beauty there, though, imprisoned, and clouded, and such a crisis would show us more then one Boadicea, more than one Alfred. Tenerani has just completed a statue which is highly-spoken of; it is called the Angel of the Resurrection. I was not so fortunate as to find it in his studio. In that of Wolff I saw a Diana, ordered by the Emperor of Russia. It is modern and sentimental; as different from, the antique Diana as the trance of a novel-read young lady of our day from the thrill with which the ancient shepherds deprecated the magic pervasions of Hecate, but very beautiful and exquisitely wrought. He has also lately [pg 222] finished the Four Seasons, represented as children. Of these, Winter is graceful and charming.

Among the sculptors I delayed longest in the work-rooms of Gott. I found his groups of young figures connected with animals very refreshing after the grander attempts of the present time. They seem real growths of his habitual mind,—fruits of Nature, full of joy and freedom. His spaniels and other frisky poppets would please Apollo far better than most of the marble nymphs and muses of the present day.

Our Crawford has just finished a bust of Mrs. Crawford, which is extremely beautiful, full of grace and innocent sweetness. All its accessaries are charming,—the wreaths, the arrangement of drapery, the stuff of which the robe is made. I hope it will be much seen on its arrival in New York. He has also an Herodias in the clay, which is individual in expression, and the figure of distinguished elegance. I liked the designs of Crawford better than those of Gibson, who is estimated as highest in the profession now.

Among the studios of the European painters I have visited only that of Overbeck. It is well known in the United States what his pictures are. I have much to say at a more favorable time of what they represented to me. He himself looks as if he had just stepped out of one of them,—a lay monk, with a pious eye and habitual morality of thought which limits every gesture.

Painting is not largely represented here by American artists at present. Terry has two pleasing pictures on the easel: one is a costume picture of Italian life, such as I saw it myself, enchanted beyond my hopes, on coming to Naples on a day of grand festival in honor of Santa Agatha. Cranch sends soon to America a picture of the Campagna, such as I saw it on my first entrance into Rome, all light and calmness; Hicks, a charming half-length of an Italian girl, holding a mandolin: it will be sure to please. His pictures are full of life, and give the promise of some real achievement in Art.

Of the fragments of the great time, I have now seen nearly all that are treasured up here: I have, however, as yet nothing of [pg 223] consequence to say of them. I find that others have often given good hints as to how they look; and as to what they are, it can only be known by approximating to the state of soul out of which they grew. They should not be described, but reproduced. They are many and precious, yet is there not so much of high excellence as I had expected: they will not float the heart on a boundless sea of feeling, like the starry night on our Western prairies. Yet I love much to see the galleries of marbles, even when there are not many separately admirable, amid the cypresses and ilexes of Roman villas; and a picture that is good at all looks very good in one of these old palaces.

The Italian painters whom I have learned most to appreciate, since I came abroad, are Domenichino and Titian. Of others one may learn something by copies and engravings: but not of these. The portraits of Titian look upon me from the walls things new and strange. They are portraits of men such as I have not known. In his picture, absurdly called Sacred and Profane Love, in the Borghese Palace, one of the figures has developed my powers of gazing to an extent unknown before.

Domenichino seems very unequal in his pictures; but when he is grand and free, the energy of his genius perfectly satisfies. The frescos of Caracci and his scholars in the Farnese Palace have been to me a source of the purest pleasure, and I do not remember to have heard of them. I loved Guercino much before I came here, but I have looked too much at his pictures and begin to grow sick of them; he is a very limited genius. Leonardo I cannot yet like at all, but I suppose the pictures are good for some people to look at; they show a wonderful deal of study and thought. That is not what I can best appreciate in a work of art. I hate to see the marks of them. I want a simple and direct expression of soul. For the rest, the ordinary cant of connoisseur-ship on these matters seems in Italy even more detestable than elsewhere.

I have not yet so sufficiently recovered from my pain at finding the frescos of Raphael in such a state, as to be able to look at them, happily. I had heard of their condition, but could not realize it. [pg 224] However, I have gained nothing by seeing his pictures in oil, which are well preserved. I find I had before the full impression of his genius. Michel Angelo's frescos, in like manner, I seem to have seen as far as I can. But it is not the same with the sculptures: my thought had not risen to the height of the Moses. It is the only thing in Europe, so far, which has entirely outgone my hopes. Michel Angelo was my demigod before; but I find no offering worthy to cast at the feet of his Moses. I like much, too, his Christ. It is a refreshing contrast with all the other representations of the same subject. I like it even as contrasted with Raphael's Christ of the Transfiguration, or that of the cartoon of Feed my Lambs.

I have heard owls hoot in the Colosseum by moonlight, and they spoke more to the purpose than I ever heard any other voice upon that subject. I have seen all the pomps and shows of Holy Week in the church of St. Peter, and found them less imposing than an habitual acquaintance with the place, with processions of monks and nuns stealing in now and then, or the swell of vespers from some side chapel. I have ascended the dome, and seen thence Rome and its Campagna, its villas with, their cypresses and pines serenely sad as is nothing else in the world, and the fountains of the Vatican garden gushing hard by. I have been in the Subterranean to see a poor little boy introduced, much to his surprise, to the bosom of the Church; and then I have seen by torch-light the stone popes where they lie on their tombs, and the old mosaics, and virgins with gilt caps. It is all rich, and full,—very impressive in its way. St. Peter's must be to each one a separate poem.

The ceremonies of the Church, have been numerous and splendid during our stay here; and they borrow unusual interest from the love and expectation inspired by the present Pontiff. He is a man of noble and good aspect, who, it is easy to see, has set his heart upon doing something solid for the benefit of man. But pensively, too, must one feel how hampered and inadequate are the means at his command to accomplish these ends. The Italians do not feel it, but deliver themselves, with all the vivacity of [pg 225] their temperament, to perpetual hurras, vivas, rockets, and torch-light processions. I often think how grave and sad must the Pope feel, as he sits alone and hears all this noise of expectation.

A week or two ago the Cardinal Secretary published a circular inviting the departments to measures which would give the people a sort of representative council. Nothing could seem more limited than this improvement, but it was a great measure for Rome. At night the Corso in which, we live was illuminated, and many thousands passed through it in a torch-bearing procession. I saw them first assembled in the Piazza del Popolo, forming around its fountain a great circle of fire. Then, as a river of fire, they streamed slowly through the Corso, on their way to the Quirinal to thank the Pope, upbearing a banner on which the edict was printed. The stream, of fire advanced slowly, with a perpetual surge-like sound of voices; the torches flashed on the animated Italian faces. I have never seen anything finer. Ascending the Quirinal they made it a mount of light. Bengal fires were thrown up, which cast their red and white light on the noble Greek figures of men and horses that reign over it. The Pope appeared on his balcony; the crowd shouted three vivas; he extended his arms; the crowd fell on their knees and received his benediction; he retired, and the torches were extinguished, and the multitude dispersed in an instant.

The same week came the natal day of Rome. A great dinner was given at the Baths of Titus, in the open air. The company was on the grass in the area; the music at one end; boxes filled with the handsome Roman women occupied the other sides. It was a new thing here, this popular dinner, and the Romans greeted it in an intoxication of hope and pleasure. Sterbini, author of "The Vestal," presided: many others, like him, long time exiled and restored to their country by the present Pope, were at the tables. The Colosseum, and triumphal arches were in sight; an effigy of the Roman wolf with her royal nursling was erected on high; the guests, with shouts and music, congratulated themselves on the possession, in Pius IX., of a new and nobler founder for another state. Among the speeches that of the Marquis d'Azeglio, [pg 226] a man of literary note in Italy, and son-in-law of Manzoni, contained this passage (he was sketching the past history of Italy):—

"The crown passed to the head of a German monarch; but he wore it not to the benefit, but the injury, of Christianity,—of the world. The Emperor Henry was a tyrant who wearied out the patience of God. God said to Rome, 'I give you the Emperor Henry'; and from these hills that surround us, Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII., raised his austere and potent voice to say to the Emperor, 'God did not give you Italy that you might destroy her,' and Italy, Germany, Europe, saw her butcher prostrated at the feet of Gregory in penitence. Italy, Germany, Europe, had then kindled in the heart the first spark of liberty."

The narrative of the dinner passed the censor, and was published: the Ambassador of Austria read it, and found, with a modesty and candor truly admirable, that this passage was meant to allude to his Emperor. He must take his passports, if such home thrusts are to be made. And so the paper was seized, and the account of the dinner only told from, mouth to mouth, from those who had already read it. Also the idea of a dinner for the Pope's fête-day is abandoned, lest something too frank should again be said; and they tell me here, with a laugh, "I fancy you have assisted at the first and last popular dinner." Thus we may see that the liberty of Rome does not yet advance with seven-leagued boots; and the new Romulus will need to be prepared for deeds at least as bold as his predecessor, if he is to open a new order of things.

I cannot well wind up my gossip on this subject better than by translating a passage from the programme of the Contemporaneo, which represents the hope of Rome at this moment. It is conducted by men of well-known talent.

"The Contemporaneo (Contemporary) is a journal of progress, but tempered, as the good and wise think best, in conformity with the will of our best of princes, and the wants and expectations of the public....

"Through discussion it desires to prepare minds to receive reforms [pg 227] so soon and far as they are favored by the law of opportunity.

"Every attempt which is made contrary to this social law must fail. It is vain to hope fruits from a tree out of season, and equally in vain to introduce the best measures into a country not prepared to receive them."

And so on. I intended to have translated in full the programme, but time fails, and the law of opportunity does not favor, as my "opportunity" leaves for London this afternoon. I have given enough to mark the purport of the whole. It will easily be seen that it was not from the platform assumed by the Contemporaneo that Lycurgus legislated, or Socrates taught,—that the Christian religion was propagated, or the Church, was reformed by Luther. The opportunity that the martyrs found here in the Colosseum, from whose blood grew up this great tree of Papacy, was not of the kind waited for by these moderate progressists. Nevertheless, they may be good schoolmasters for Italy, and are not to be disdained in these piping times of peace.

More anon, of old and new, from Tuscany.

[pg 228]

 

LETTER XV.

Italy.—Fruits and Flowers on the Route from Florence to Rome.—The Plain of Umbria.—Assisi.—The Saints.—Tuition In Schools.—Pius IX.—The Etrurian Tomb.—Perugia and its Stores of Early Art.—Portraits of Raphael.—Florence.—The Grand Duke and his Policy.—The Liberty of the Press and its Influence.—The American Sculptors.—Greenough and his New Works.—Powers.—His Statue of Calhoun.—Review of his Endeavors.—The Festivals of St. John at Florence.—Bologna.—Female Professors in its University.—Matilda Tambroni and others.—Milan and her Female Mathematician.—The State of Woman in Italy.—Ravenna and Byron.—Venice.—The Adda.—Milan and its Neighborhood, and Manzoni.—Excitements.—National Affairs.

Milan, August 9, 1847.

Since leaving Rome, I have not been able to steal a moment from the rich and varied objects before me to write about them. I will, therefore, take a brief retrospect of the ground.

I passed from Florence to Rome by the Perugia route, and saw for the first time the Italian vineyards. The grapes hung in little clusters. When I return, they will be full of light and life, but the fields will not be so enchantingly fresh, nor so enamelled with flowers.

The profusion of red poppies, which dance on every wall and glitter throughout the grass, is a great ornament to the landscape. In full sunlight their vermilion is most beautiful. Well might Ceres gather such poppies to mingle with her wheat.

We climbed the hill to Assisi, and my ears thrilled as with many old remembered melodies, when an old peasant, in sonorous phrase, bade me look out and see the plain of Umbria. I looked back and saw the carriage toiling up the steep path, drawn by a pair of those light-colored oxen Shelley so much admired. I stood near the spot where Goethe met with a little adventure, [pg 229] which he has described with even more than his usual delicate humor. Who can ever be alone for a moment in Italy? Every stone has a voice, every grain of dust seems instinct with spirit from the Past, every step recalls some line, some legend of long-neglected lore.

Assisi was exceedingly charming to me. So still!—all temporal noise and bustle seem hushed down yet by the presence of the saint. So clean!—the rains of heaven wash down all impurities into the valley. I must confess that, elsewhere, I have shared the feelings of Dickens toward St. Francis and St. Sebastian, as the "Mounseer Tonsons" of Catholic art. St. Sebastian I have not been so tired of, for the beauty and youth of the figure make the monotony with which the subject of his martyrdom is treated somewhat less wearisome. But St. Francis is so sad, and so ecstatic, and so brown, so entirely the monk,—and St. Clara so entirely the nun! I have been very sorry for her that he was able to draw her from the human to the heavenly life; she seems so sad and so worn out by the effort. But here at Assisi, one cannot help being penetrated by the spirit that flowed from that life. Here is the room where his father shut up the boy to punish his early severity of devotion. Here is the picture which represents him despoiled of all outward things, even his garments,—devoting himself, body and soul, to the service of God in the way he believed most acceptable. Here is the underground chapel, where rest those weary bones, saluted by the tears of so many weary pilgrims who have come hither to seek strength from his example. Here are the churches above, full of the works of earlier art, animated by the contagion of a great example. It is impossible not to bow the head, and feel how mighty an influence flows from a single soul, sincere in its service of truth, in whatever form that truth comes to it.

A troop of neat, pretty school-girls attended us about, going with us into the little chapels adorned with pictures which open at every corner of the streets, smiling on us at a respectful distance. Some of them were fourteen or fifteen years old. I found reading, writing, and sewing were all they learned at their school; [pg 230] the first, indeed, they knew well enough, if they could ever get books to use it on. Tranquil as Assisi was, on every wall was read Viva Pio IX.! and we found the guides and workmen in the shop full of a vague hope from him. The old love which has made so rich this aerial cradle of St. Francis glows warm as ever in the breasts of men; still, as ever, they long for hero-worship, and shout aloud at the least appearance of an object.

The church at the foot of the hill, Santa Maria degli Angeli, seems tawdry after Assisi. It also is full of records of St. Francis, his pains and his triumphs. Here, too, on a little chapel, is the famous picture by Overbeck; too exact a copy, but how different in effect from the early art we had just seen above! Harmonious but frigid, grave but dull; childhood is beautiful, but not when continued, or rather transplanted, into the period where we look for passion, varied means, and manly force.

Before reaching Perugia, I visited an Etrurian tomb, which is a little way off the road; it is said to be one of the finest in Etruria. The hill-side is full of them, but excavations are expensive, and not frequent. The effect of this one was beyond my expectations; in it were several female figures, very dignified and calm, as the dim lamp-light fell on them by turns. The expression of these figures shows that the position of woman in these states was noble. Their eagles' nests cherished well the female eagle who kept watch in the eyrie.

Perugia too is on a noble hill. What a daily excitement such a view, taken at every step! life is worth ten times as much in a city so situated. Perugia is full, overflowing, with the treasures of early art. I saw them so rapidly it seems now as if in a trance, yet certainly with a profit, a manifold gain, such as Mahomet thought he gained from his five minutes' visits to other spheres. Here are two portraits of Raphael as a youth: it is touching to see what effect this angel had upon all that surrounded him from the very first.

Florence! I was there a month, and in a sense saw Florence: that is to say, I took an inventory of what is to be seen there, and not without great intellectual profit. There is too [pg 231] much that is really admirable in art,—the nature of its growth lies before you too clearly to be evaded. Of such things more elsewhere.

I do not like Florence as I do cities more purely Italian. The natural character is ironed out here, and done up in a French pattern; yet there is no French vivacity, nor Italian either. The Grand Duke—more and more agitated by the position in which he finds himself between the influence of the Pope and that of Austria—keeps imploring and commanding his people to keep still, and they are still and glum as death. This is all on the outside; within, Tuscany burns. Private culture has not been in vain, and there is, in a large circle, mental preparation for a very different state of things from the present, with an ardent desire to diffuse the same amid the people at large. The sovereign has been obliged for the present to give more liberty to the press, and there is an immediate rush of thought to the new vent; if it is kept open a few months, the effect on the body of the people cannot fail to be great. I intended to have translated some passages from the programme of the Patria, one of the papers newly started at Florence, but time fails. One of the articles in the same number by Lambruschini, on the duties of the clergy at this juncture, contains views as liberal as can be found in print anywhere in the world. More of these things when I return to Rome in the autumn, when I hope to find a little leisure to think over what I have seen, and, if found worthy, to put the result in writing.

I visited the studios of our sculptors; Greenough has in clay a David which promises high beauty and nobleness, a bass-relief, full of grace and tender expression; he is also modelling a head of Napoleon, and justly enthusiastic in the study. His great group I did not see in such a state as to be secure of my impression. The face of the Pioneer is very fine, the form of the woman graceful and expressive; but I was not satisfied with the Indian. I shall see it more as a whole on my return to Florence.

As to the Eve and the Greek Slave, I could only join with the rest of the world in admiration of their beauty and the fine feeling [pg 232] of nature which they exhibit. The statue of Calhoun is full of power, simple, and majestic in attitude and expression. In busts Powers seems to me unrivalled; still, he ought not to spend his best years on an employment which cannot satisfy his ambition nor develop his powers. If our country loves herself, she will order from him some great work before the prime of his genius has been frittered away, and his best years spent on lesser things.

I saw at Florence the festivals of St. John, but they are poor affairs to one who has seen the Neapolitan and Roman people on such occasions.

Passing from Florence, I came to Bologna,—learned Bologna; indeed an Italian city, full of expression, of physiognomy, so to speak. A woman should love Bologna, for there has the spark of intellect in woman been cherished with reverent care. Not in former ages only, but in this, Bologna raised a woman who was worthy to the dignities of its University, and in their Certosa they proudly show the monument to Matilda Tambroni, late Greek Professor there. Her letters, preserved by her friends, are said to form a very valuable collection. In their anatomical hall is the bust of a woman, Professor of Anatomy. In Art they have had Properzia di Rossi, Elizabetta Sirani, Lavinia Fontana, and delight to give their works a conspicuous place.

In other cities the men alone have their Casino dei Nobili, where they give balls, conversazioni, and similar entertainments. Here women have one, and are the soul of society.

In Milan, also, I see in the Ambrosian Library the bust of a female mathematician. These things make me feel that, if the state of woman in Italy is so depressed, yet a good-will toward a better is not wholly wanting. Still more significant is the reverence to the Madonna and innumerable female saints, who, if, like St. Teresa, they had intellect as well as piety, became counsellors no less than comforters to the spirit of men.

Ravenna, too, I saw, and its old Christian art, the Pineta, where Byron loved to ride, and the paltry apartments where, cheered by a new affection, in which was more of tender friendship than of [pg 233] passion, he found himself less wretched than at beautiful Venice or stately Genoa.

All the details of this visit to Ravenna are pretty. I shall write them out some time. Of Padua, too, the little to be said should be said in detail.

Of Venice and its enchanted life I could not speak; it should only be echoed back in music. There only I began to feel in its fulness Venetian Art. It can only be seen in its own atmosphere. Never had I the least idea of what is to be seen at Venice. It seems to me as if no one ever yet had seen it,—so entirely wanting is any expression of what I felt myself. Venice! on this subject I shall not write much till time, place, and mode agree to make it fit.

Venice, where all is past, is a fit asylum for the dynasties of the Past. The Duchesse de Berri owns one of the finest palaces on the Grand Canal; the Duc de Bordeaux rents another; Mademoiselle Taglioni has bought the famous Casa d'Oro, and it is under repair. Thanks to the fashion which has made Venice a refuge of this kind, the palaces, rarely inhabited by the representatives of their ancient names, are valuable property, and the noble structures will not be suffered to lapse into the sea, above which they rose so proudly. The restorations, too, are made with excellent taste and judgment,—nothing is spoiled. Three of these fine palaces are now hotels, so that the transient visitor can enjoy from their balconies all the wondrous shows of the Venetian night and day as much as any of their former possessors did. I was at the Europa, formerly the Giustiniani Palace, with better air than those on the Grand Canal, and a more unobstructed view than Danieli's.

Madame de Berri gave an entertainment on the birthnight of her son, and the old Duchesse d'Angoulême came from Vienna to attend it. 'T was a scene of fairy-land, the palace full of light, so that from the canal could be seen even the pictures on the walls. Landing from the gondolas, the elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen seemed to rise from the water; we also saw them glide up the great stair, rustling their plumes, and in the reception-rooms [pg 234] make and receive the customary grimaces. A fine band stationed on the opposite side of the canal played the while, and a flotilla of gondolas lingered there to listen. I, too, amid, the mob, a pleasant position in Venice alone, thought of the Stuarts, Bourbons, Bonapartes, here in Italy, and offered up a prayer that other names, when the possessors have power without the heart to use it for the emancipation of mankind, might he added to the list, and other princes, more rich in blood than brain, might come to enjoy a perpetual villeggiatura in Italy. It did not seem to me a cruel wish. The show of greatness will satisfy every legitimate desire of such minds. A gentle punishment for the distributors of letters de cachet and Spielberg dungeons to their fellow-men.

Having passed more than a fortnight at Venice, I have come here, stopping at Vicenza, Verona, Mantua, Lago di Garda, Brescia. Certainly I have learned more than ever in any previous ten days of my existence, and have formed an idea what is needed for the study of Art and its history in these regions. To be sure, I shall never have time to follow it up, but it is a delight to look up those glorious vistas, even when there is no hope of entering them.

A violent shower obliged me to stop on the way. It was late at night, and I was nearly asleep, when, roused by the sound of bubbling waters, I started up and asked, "Is that the Adda?" and it was. So deep is the impression made by a simple natural recital, like that of Renzo's wanderings in the Promessi Sposi, that the memory of his hearing the Adda in this way occurred to me at once, and the Adda seemed familiar as if I had been a native of this region.

As the Scottish lakes seem the domain of Walter Scott, so does Milan and its neighborhood in the mind of a foreigner belong to Manzoni. I have seen him since, the gentle lord of this wide domain; his hair is white, but his eyes still beam as when he first saw the apparitions of truth, simple tenderness, and piety which he has so admirably recorded for our benefit. Those around lament that the fastidiousness of his taste prevents his completing and publishing more, and that thus a treasury of rare knowledge [pg 235] and refined thought will pass from us without our reaping the benefit. We, indeed, have no title to complain, what we do possess from his hand is so excellent.

At this moment there is great excitement in Italy. A supposed spy of Austria has been assassinated at Ferrara, and Austrian troops are marched there. It is pretended that a conspiracy has been discovered in Rome; the consequent disturbances have been put down. The National Guard is forming. All things seem to announce that some important change is inevitable here, but what? Neither Radicals nor Moderates dare predict with confidence, and I am yet too much a stranger to speak with assurance of impressions I have received. But it is impossible not to hope.

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LETTER XVI.

Review of Past and Present.—The Merits of Italian Literature.—Manzoni.—Italian Dialects.—Milan, the Milanese, and the Simplicity of their Language.—The North of Italy, and a Tour to Switzerland.—Italian Lakes.—Maggiore, Como, and Lugano.—Lago di Garda.—The Boatmen of the Lakes and the Gondoliers.—Lady Franklin, Widow of the Navigator.—Return to and Festivals at Milan.—The Archbishop.—Austrian Rule and Austrian Policy.—The Future Hopes of Italy.—A Glance at Pavia, Florence, Parma, and Bologna, and the Works of the Masters.

Rome, October, 1847.

I think my last letter was from Milan, and written after I had seen Manzoni. This was to me a great pleasure. I have now seen the most important representatives who survive of the last epoch in thought. Our age has still its demonstrations to make, its heroes and poets to crown.

Although the modern Italian literature is not poor, as many persons at a distance suppose, but, on the contrary, surprisingly rich in tokens of talent, if we consider the circumstances under which it struggles to exist, yet very few writers have or deserve a European or American reputation. Where a whole country is so kept down, her best minds cannot take the lead in the progress of the age; they have too much to suffer, too much to explain. But among the few who, through depth of spiritual experience and the beauty of form in which it is expressed, belong not only to Italy, but to the world, Manzoni takes a high rank. The passive virtues he teaches are no longer what is wanted; the manners he paints with so delicate a fidelity are beginning to change; but the spirit of his works,—the tender piety, the sensibility to the meaning of every humblest form of life, the delicate humor and satire so free from disdain,—these are immortal.

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Young Italy rejects Manzoni, though not irreverently; Young Italy prizes his works, but feels that the doctrine of "Pray and wait" is not for her at this moment,—that she needs a more fervent hope, a more active faith. She is right.

It is well known that the traveller, if he knows the Italian language as written in books, the standard Tuscan, still finds himself a stranger in many parts of Italy, unable to comprehend the dialects, with their lively abbreviations and witty slang. That of Venice I had understood somewhat, and could enter into the drollery and naïveté of the gondoliers, who, as a class, have an unusual share of character. But the Milanese I could not at first understand at all. Their language seemed to me detestably harsh, and their gestures unmeaning. But after a friend, who possesses that large and ready sympathy easier found in Italy than anywhere else, had translated for me verbatim into French some of the poems written in the Milanese, and then read them aloud in the original, I comprehended the peculiar inflection of voice and idiom in the people, and was charmed with it, as one is with the instinctive wit and wisdom of children.

There is very little to see at Milan, compared with any other Italian city; and this was very fortunate for me, allowing an interval of repose in the house, which I cannot take when there is so much without, tempting me to incessant observation and study. I went through, the North of Italy with a constantly increasing fervor of interest. When I had thought of Italy, it was always of the South, of the Roman States, of Tuscany. But now I became deeply interested in the history, the institutions, the art of the North. The fragments of the past mark the progress of its waves so clearly, I learned to understand, to prize them every day more, to know how to make use of the books about them. I shall have much to say on these subjects some day.

Leaving Milan, I went on the Lago Maggiore, and afterward into Switzerland. Of this tour I shall not speak here; it was a beautiful little romance by itself, and infinitely refreshing to be so near nature in these grand and simple forms, after so much exciting thought of Art and Man. The day passed in the St. Bernardin, [pg 238] with its lofty peaks and changing lights upon the distant snows,—its holy, exquisite valleys and waterfalls, its stories of eagles and chamois, was the greatest refreshment I ever experienced: it was bracing as a cold bath after the heat of a crowd amid which one has listened to some most eloquent oration.

Returning from Switzerland, I passed a fortnight on the Lake of Como, and afterward visited Lugano. There is no exaggeration in the enthusiastic feeling with which artists and poets have viewed these Italian lakes. Their beauties are peculiar, enchanting, innumerable. The Titan of Richter, the Wanderjahre of Goethe, the Elena of Taylor, the pictures of Turner, had not prepared me for the visions of beauty that daily entranced the eyes and heart in those regions. To our country Nature has been most bounteous; but we have nothing in the same kind that can compare with these lakes, as seen under the Italian heaven. As to those persons who have pretended to discover that the effects of light and atmosphere were no finer than they found in our own lake scenery, I can only say that they must be exceedingly obtuse in organization,—a defect not uncommon among Americans.

Nature seems to have labored to express her full heart in as many ways as possible, when she made these lakes, moulded and planted their shores. Lago Maggiore is grand, resplendent in Its beauty; the view of the Alps gives a sort of lyric exaltation to the scene. Lago di Garda is so soft and fair,—so glittering sweet on one side, the ruins of ancient palaces rise so softly with the beauties of that shore; but at the other end, amid the Tyrol, it is sublime, calm, concentrated in its meaning. Como cannot be better described in general than in the words of Taylor:

"Softly sublime, profusely fair."

Lugano is more savage, more free in its beauty. I was on it in a high gale; there was a little clanger, just enough to exhilarate; its waters were wild, and clouds blowing across the neighboring peaks. I like very much the boatmen on these lakes; they have [pg 239] strong and prompt character. Of simple features, they are more honest and manly than Italian men are found in the thoroughfares; their talk is not so witty as that of the Venetian gondoliers, but picturesque, and what the French call incisive. Very touching were some of their histories, as they told them to me while pausing sometimes on the lake.

On this lake, also, I met Lady Franklin, wife of the celebrated navigator. She has been in the United States, and showed equal penetration and candor in remarks on what she had seen there. She gave me interesting particulars as to the state of things in Van Diemen's Land, where she passed seven years when her husband was in authority there.

I returned to Milan for the great feast of the Madonna, 8th September, and those made for the Archbishop's entry, which took place the same week. These excited as much feeling as the Milanese can have a chance to display, this Archbishop being much nearer tire public heart than his predecessor, who was a poor servant of Austria.

The Austrian rule is always equally hated, and time, instead of melting away differences, only makes them more glaring. The Austrian race have no faculties that can ever enable them to understand the Italian character; their policy, so well contrived to palsy and repress for a time, cannot kill, and there is always a force at work underneath which shall yet, and I think now before long, shake off the incubus. The Italian nobility have always kept the invader at a distance; they have not been at all seduced or corrupted by the lures of pleasure or power, but have shown a passive patriotism highly honorable to them. In the middle class ferments much thought, and there is a capacity for effort; in the present system it cannot show itself, but it is there; thought ferments, and will yet produce a wine that shall set the Lombard veins on fire when the time for action shall arrive. The lower classes of the population are in a dull state indeed. The censorship of the press prevents all easy, natural ways of instructing them; there are no public meetings, no free access to them by more instructed and aspiring minds. The Austrian policy is to allow [pg 240] them a degree of material well-being, and though so much wealth is drained from, the country for the service of the foreigners, jet enough must remain on these rich plains comfortably to feed and clothe the inhabitants. Yet the great moral influence of the Pope's action, though obstructed in their case, does reach and rouse them, and they, too, felt the thrill of indignation at the occupation of Ferrara. The base conduct of the police toward the people, when, at Milan, some youths were resolute to sing tire hymn in honor of Pius IX., when the feasts for the Archbishop afforded so legitimate an occasion, roused all the people to unwonted feeling. The nobles protested, and Austria had not courage to persist as usual. She could not sustain her police, who rushed upon a defenceless crowd, that had no share in what excited their displeasure, except by sympathy, and, driving them like sheep, wounded them in the backs. Austria feels that there is now no sympathy for her in these matters; that it is not the interest of the world to sustain her. Her policy is, indeed, too thoroughly organized to change except by revolution; its scope is to serve, first, a reigning family instead of the people; second, with the people to seek a physical in preference to an intellectual good; and, third, to prefer a seeming outward peace to an inward life. This policy may change its opposition from the tyrannical to the insidious; it can know no other change. Yet do I meet persons who call themselves Americans,—miserable, thoughtless Esaus, unworthy their high birthright,—who think that a mess of pottage can satisfy the wants of man, and that the Viennese listening to Strauss's waltzes, the Lombard peasant supping full of his polenta, is happy enough. Alas: I have the more reason to be ashamed of my countrymen that it is not among the poor, who have so much, toil that there is little time to think, but those who are rich, who travel,—in body that is, they do not travel in mind. Absorbed at home by the lust of gain, the love of show, abroad they see only the equipages, the fine clothes, the food,—they have no heart for the idea, for the destiny of our own great nation: how can they feel the spirit that is struggling now in this and others of Europe?

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But of the hopes of Italy I will write more fully in another letter, and state what I have seen, what felt, what thought. I went from Milan, to Pavia, and saw its magnificent Certosa, I passed several hours in examining its riches, especially the sculptures of its façade, full of force and spirit. I then went to Florence by Parma and Bologna. In Parma, though ill, I went to see all the works of the masters. A wonderful beauty it is that informs them,—not that which is the chosen food of my soul, yet a noble beauty, and which did its message to me also. Those works are failing; it will not be useless to describe them in a book. Beside these pictures, I saw nothing in Parma and Modena; these states are obliged to hold their breath while their poor, ignorant sovereigns skulk in corners, hoping to hide from the coming storm. Of all this more in my next.

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LETTER XVII.

First Impressions of Rome in the Spring.—The Pope.—Rome as a Capital.—Tuscany.—The Liberty of the Press there just established.—The Enlightened Minds and Available Instructors of Tuscany.—Italian Estimation of Pius IX., and the Influence, Present and Future, of his Labors.—Foreign Intrusion the Curse of Italy.—Irruption of the Austrians into Italy, and its Effects.—Louis Philippe's Apostasy turned to the Advantage of Freedom.—The Great Fête at Florence in Honor of the Grant of a National Guard.—The American Sculptors, Greenough, Crawford, and their Participation in the Fête.—Americans generally in Italy.—Hymns In Florence in Honor of Pius IX.—Happy Augury to be drawn from the wise Docility of the People.—An Expression of Sympathy from America toward Italy earnestly hoped for.

Rome, October 18, 1847.

In the spring, when I came to Rome, the people were in the intoxication of joy at the first serious measures of reform taken by the Pope. I saw with pleasure their childlike joy and trust. With equal pleasure I saw the Pope, who has not in his expression the signs of intellectual greatness so much as of nobleness and tenderness of heart, of large and liberal sympathies. Heart had spoken to heart between the prince and the people; it was beautiful to see the immediate good influence exerted by human feeling and generous designs, on the part of a ruler. He had wished to be a father, and the Italians, with that readiness of genius that characterizes them, entered at once into the relation; they, the Roman people, stigmatized by prejudice as so crafty and ferocious, showed themselves children, eager to learn, quick to obey, happy to confide.

Still doubts were always present whether all this joy was not premature. The task undertaken by the Pope seemed to present insuperable difficulties. It is never easy to put new wine into old bottles, and our age is one where all things tend to a great crisis; not merely to revolution, but to radical reform. From [pg 243] the people themselves the help must come, and not from princes; in the new state of things, there will be none but natural princes, great men. From the aspirations of the general heart, from the teachings of conscience in individuals, and not from an old ivy-covered church long since undermined, corroded by time and gnawed by vermin, the help must come. Rome, to resume her glory, must cease to be an ecclesiastical capital; must renounce all this gorgeous mummery, whose poetry, whose picture, charms no one more than myself, but whose meaning is all of the past, and finds no echo in the future. Although I sympathized warmly with the warm love of the people, the adulation of leading writers, who were so willing to take all from the hand of the prince, of the Church, as a gift and a bounty, instead of implying steadily that it was the right of the people, was very repulsive to me. The moderate party, like all who, in a transition state, manage affairs with a constant eye to prudence, lacks dignity always in its expositions; it is disagreeable and depressing to read them.

Passing into Tuscany, I found the liberty of the press just established, and a superior preparation to make use of it. The Alba, the Patria, were begun, and have been continued with equal judgment and spirit. Their aim is to educate the youth, to educate the lower people; they see that this is to be done by promoting thought fearlessly, yet urge temperance in action, while the time is yet so difficult, and many of its signs dubious. They aim at breaking down those barriers between the different states of Italy, relics of a barbarous state of polity, artificially kept up by the craft of her foes. While anxious not to break down what is really native to the Italian character,—defences and differences that give individual genius a chance to grow and the fruits of each region to ripen in their natural way,—they aim at a harmony of spirit as to measures of education and for the affairs of business, without which Italy can never, as one nation, present a front strong enough to resist foreign robbery, and for want of which so much time and talent are wasted here, and internal development almost wholly checked.

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There is in Tuscany a large corps of enlightened minds, well prepared to be the instructors, the elder brothers and guardians, of the lower people, and whose hearts burn to fulfil that noble office. Before, it had been almost impossible to them, for the reasons I have named in speaking of Lombardy; but during these last four months that the way has been opened by the freedom of the press, and establishment of the National Guard,—so valuable, first of all, as giving occasion for public meetings and free interchange of thought between the different classes,—it is surprising how much light they have been able to diffuse.

A Bolognese, to whom I observed, "How can you be so full of trust when all your hopes depend, not on the recognition of principles and wants throughout the people, but on the life of one mortal man?" replied: "Ah! but you don't consider that his life gives us a chance to effect that recognition. If Pius IX. be spared to us five years, it will be impossible for his successors ever to take a backward course. Our nation is of a genius so vivacious,—we are unhappy, but not stupid, we Italians,—we can learn as much in two months as other nations in twenty years." This seemed to me no brag when I returned to Tuscany and saw the great development and diffusion of thought that had taken place during my brief absence. The Grand Duke, a well-intentioned, though dull man, had dared, to declare himself "an ITALIAN prince" and the heart of Tuscany had bounded with hope. It is now deeply as justly felt that the curse of Italy is foreign intrusion; that if she could dispense with foreign aid, and be free from foreign aggression, she would find the elements of salvation within herself. All her efforts tend that way, to re-establish the natural position of things; may Heaven grant them success! For myself, I believe they will attain it. I see more reason for hope, as I know more of the people. Their rash and baffled struggles have taught them prudence; they are wanted in the civilized world as a peculiar influence; their leaders are thinking men, their cause is righteous. I believe that Italy will revive to new life, and probably a greater, one more truly rich and glorious, than at either epoch of her former greatness.

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During the period of my absence, the Austrians had entered Ferrara. It is well that they hazarded this step, for it showed them the difficulties in acting against a prince of the Church who is at the same time a friend to the people. The position was new, and they were probably surprised at the result,—surprised at the firmness of the Pope, surprised at the indignation, tempered by calm resolve, on the part of the Italians. Louis Philippe's mean apostasy has this time turned to the advantage of freedom. He renounced the good understanding with England which it had been one of the leading features of his policy to maintain, in the hope of aggrandizing and enriching his family (not France, he did not care for France); he did not know that he was paving the way for Italian freedom. England now is led to play a part a little nearer her pretensions as the guardian of progress than she often comes, and the ghost of La Fayette looks down, not unappeased, to see the "Constitutional King" decried by the subjects he has cheated and lulled so craftily. The king of Sardinia is a worthless man, in whom nobody puts any trust so far as regards his heart or honor; but the stress of things seems likely to keep him on the right side. The little sovereigns blustered at first, then ran away affrighted when they found there was really a spirit risen at last within the charmed circle,—a spirit likely to defy, to transcend, the spells of haggard premiers and imbecile monarchs.

I arrived in Florence, unhappily, too late for the great fête of the 12th of September, in honor of the grant of a National Guard. But I wept at the mere recital of the events of that day, which, if it should lead to no important results, must still be hallowed for ever in the memory of Italy, for the great and beautiful emotions that flooded the hearts of her children. The National Guard is hailed with no undue joy by Italians, as the earnest of progress, the first step toward truly national institutions and a representation of the people. Gratitude has done its natural work in their hearts; it has made them better. Some days before the fête were passed in reconciling all strifes, composing all differences between cities, districts, and individuals. They wished to [pg 246] drop all petty, all local differences, to wash away all stains, to bathe and prepare for a new great covenant of brotherly love, where each should act for the good of all. On that day they all embraced in sign of this,—strangers, foes, all exchanged the kiss of faith and love; they exchanged banners, as a token that they would fight for, would animate, one another. All was done in that beautiful poetic manner peculiar to this artist people; but it was the spirit, so great and tender, that melts my heart to think of. It was the spirit of true religion,—such, my Country! as, welling freshly from some great hearts in thy early hours, won for thee all of value that thou canst call thy own, whose groundwork is the assertion, still sublime though thou hast not been true to it, that all men have equal rights, and that these are birth-rights, derived from God alone.

I rejoice to say that the Americans took their share on this occasion, and that Greenough—one of the few Americans who, living in Italy, takes the pains to know whether it is alive or dead, who penetrates beyond the cheats of tradesmen and the cunning of a mob corrupted by centuries of slavery, to know the real mind, the vital blood, of Italy—took a leading part. I am sorry to say that a large portion of my countrymen here take the same slothful and prejudiced view as the English, and, after many years' sojourn, betray entire ignorance of Italian literature and Italian life, beyond what is attainable in a month's passage through the thoroughfares. However, they did show, this time, a becoming spirit, and erected the American eagle where its cry ought to be heard from afar,—where a nation is striving for independent existence, and a government representing the people. Crawford here in Rome has had the just feeling to join the Guard, and it is a real sacrifice for an artist to spend time on the exercises; but it well becomes the sculptor of Orpheus,—of him who had such faith, such music of divine thought, that he made the stones move, turned the beasts from their accustomed haunts, and shamed hell itself into sympathy with the grief of love. I do not deny that such a spirit is wanted here in Italy; it is everywhere, if anything great, anything permanent, is to be done. [pg 247] In reference to what I have said of many Americans in Italy, I will only add, that they talk about the corrupt and degenerate state of Italy as they do about that of our slaves at home. They come ready trained to that mode of reasoning which affirms that, because men are degraded by bad institutions, they are not fit for better.

As to the English, some of them are full of generous, intelligent sympathy;—indeed what is more solidly, more wisely good than the right sort of Englishmen!—but others are like a gentleman I travelled with the other day, a man of intelligence and refinement too as to the details of life and outside culture, who observed, that he did not see what the Italians wanted of a National Guard, unless to wear these little caps. He was a man who had passed five years in Italy, but always covered with that non-conductor called by a witty French writer "the Britannic fluid."

Very sweet to my ear was the continual hymn in the streets of Florence, in honor of Pius IX. It is the Roman hymn, and none of the new ones written in Tuscany have been able to take its place. The people thank the Grand Duke when he does them good, but they know well from whose mind that good originates, and all their love is for the Pope. Time presses, or I would fain describe in detail the troupe of laborers of the lower class, marching home at night, keeping step as if they were in the National Guard, filling the air, and cheering the melancholy moon, by the patriotic hymns sung with the mellow tone and in the perfect time which belong to Italians. I would describe the extempore concerts in the streets, the rejoicings at the theatres, where the addresses of liberal souls to the people, through that best vehicle, the drama, may now be heard. But I am tired; what I have to write would fill volumes, and my letter must go. I will only add some words upon the happy augury I draw from the wise docility of the people. With what readiness they listened to wise counsel, and the hopes of the Pope that they would give no advantage to his enemies, at a time when they were so fevered by the knowledge that conspiracy was at work in their midst! That was a time of trial. On all these occasions of popular excitement [pg 248] their conduct is like music, in such order, and with such union of the melody of feeling with discretion where to stop; but what is wonderful is that they acted in the same manner on that difficult occasion. The influence of the Pope here is without bounds; he can always calm the crowd at once. But in Tuscany, where they have no such idol, they listened in the same way on a very trying occasion. The first announcement of the regulation for the Tuscan National Guard terribly disappointed the people; they felt that the Grand Duke, after suffering them to demonstrate such trust and joy on the feast of the 12th, did not really trust, on his side; that he meant to limit them all he could. They felt baffled, cheated; hence young men in anger tore down at once the symbols of satisfaction and respect; but the leading men went among the people, begged them to be calm, and wait till a deputation had seen the Grand Duke. The people, listening at once to men who, they were sure, had at heart their best good, waited; the Grand Duke became convinced, and all ended without disturbance. If they continue to act thus, their hopes cannot be baffled. Certainly I, for one, do not think that the present road will suffice to lead Italy to her goal. But it is an onward, upward road, and the people learn as they advance. Now they can seek and think fearless of prisons and bayonets, a healthy circulation of blood begins, and the heart frees itself from disease.

I earnestly hope for some expression of sympathy from my country toward Italy. Take a good chance and do something; you have shown much good feeling toward the Old World in its physical difficulties,—you ought to do still more in its spiritual endeavor. This cause is OURS, above all others; we ought to show that we feel it to be so. At present there is no likelihood of war, but in case of it I trust the United States would not fail in some noble token of sympathy toward this country. The soul of our nation need not wait for its government; these things are better done by individuals. I believe some in the United States will pay attention to these words of mine, will feel that I am not a person to be kindled by a childish, sentimental enthusiasm, but that [pg 249] I must be sure I have seen something of Italy before speaking as I do. I have been here only seven months, but my means of observation have been uncommon. I have been ardently desirous to judge fairly, and had no prejudices to prevent; beside, I was not ignorant of the history and literature of Italy, and had some common ground on which to stand with, its inhabitants, and hear what they have to say. In many ways Italy is of kin to us; she is the country of Columbus, of Amerigo, of Cabot. It would please me much to see a cannon here bought by the contributions of Americans, at whose head should stand the name of Cabot, to be used by the Guard for salutes on festive occasions, if they should be so happy as to have no more serious need. In Tuscany they are casting one to be called the "Gioberti," from a writer who has given a great impulse to the present movement. I should like the gift of America to be called the AMERIGO, the COLUMBO, or the WASHINGTON. Please think of this, some of my friends, who still care for the eagle, the Fourth of July, and the old cries of hope and honor. See if there are any objections that I do not think of, and do something if it is well and brotherly. Ah! America, with all thy rich boons, thou hast a heavy account to render for the talent given; see in every way that thou be not found wanting.

[pg 250]

 

LETTER XVIII.

Reflections for the New Year.—Americans in Europe.—France, England, Poland, Italy, Russia, Austria,—their Policy.—Europe toils and struggles.—All things bode a new Outbreak.—The Eagle of America stoops to Earth, and shares the Character of the Vulture.—Abolition.—The Youth of the Land.—Anticipations of their Usefulness.

This letter will reach the United States about the 1st of January; and it may not be impertinent to offer a few New-Year's reflections. Every new year, indeed, confirms the old thoughts, but also presents them under some new aspects.

The American in Europe, if a thinking mind, can only become more American. In some respects it is a great pleasure to be here. Although we have an independent political existence, bur position toward Europe, as to literature and the arts, is still that of a colony, and one feels the same joy here that is experienced by the colonist in returning to the parent home. What was but picture to us becomes reality; remote allusions and derivations trouble no more: we see the pattern of the stuff, and understand the whole tapestry. There is a gradual clearing up on many points, and many baseless notions and crude fancies are dropped. Even the post-haste passage of the business American through the great cities, escorted by cheating couriers and ignorant valets de place, unable to hold intercourse with the natives of the country, and passing all his leisure hours with his countrymen, who know no more than himself, clears his mind of some mistakes,—lifts some mists from his horizon.

There are three species. First, the servile American,—a being utterly shallow, thoughtless, worthless. He comes abroad to spend his money and indulge his tastes. His object in Europe [pg 251] is to have fashionable clothes, good foreign cookery, to know some titled persons, and furnish himself with coffee-house gossip, by retailing which among those less travelled and as uninformed as himself he can win importance at home. I look with unspeakable contempt on this class,—a class which has all the thoughtlessness and partiality of the exclusive classes in Europe, without any of their refinement, or the chivalric feeling which still sparkles among them here and there. However, though these willing serfs in a free age do some little hurt, and cause some annoyance at present, they cannot continue long; our country is fated to a grand, independent existence, and, as its laws develop, these parasites of a bygone period must wither and drop away.

Then there is the conceited American, instinctively bristling and proud of—he knows not what. He does not see, not he, that the history of Humanity for many centuries is likely to have produced results it requires some training, some devotion, to appreciate and profit by. With his great clumsy hands, only fitted to work on a steam-engine, he seizes the old Cremona violin, makes it shriek with anguish, in his grasp, and then declares he thought it was all humbug before he came, and now he knows it; that there is not really any music in these old things; that the frogs in one of our swamps make much finer, for they are young and alive. To him the etiquettes of courts and camps, the ritual of the Church, seem simply silly,—and no wonder, profoundly ignorant as he is of their origin and meaning. Just so the legends which are the subjects of pictures, the profound myths which are represented in the antique marbles, amaze and revolt him; as, indeed, such things need to be judged of by another standard than that of the Connecticut Blue-Laws. He criticises severely pictures, feeling quite sure that his natural senses are better means of judgment than the rules of connoisseurs,—not feeling that, to see such objects, mental vision as well as fleshly eyes are needed and that something is aimed at in Art beyond the imitation of the commonest forms of Nature. This is Jonathan in the sprawling state, the booby truant, not yet aspiring enough to be a good school-boy. Yet in his folly there is meaning; add thought and culture [pg 252] to his independence, and he will be a man of might: he is not a creature without hope, like the thick-skinned dandy of the class first specified.

The artistes form a class by themselves. Yet among them, though seeking special aims by special means, may also be found the lineaments of these two classes, as well as of the third, of which I am now to speak.

This is that of the thinking American,—a man who, recognizing the immense advantage of being born to a new world and on a virgin soil, yet does not wish one seed from the past to be lost. He is anxious to gather and carry back with him every plant that will bear a new climate and new culture. Some will dwindle; others will attain a bloom and stature unknown before. He wishes to gather them clean, free from noxious insects, and to give them a fair trial in his new world. And that he may know the conditions under which he may best place them in that new world, he does not neglect to study their history in this.

The history of our planet in some moments seems so painfully mean and little,—such terrible bafflings and failures to compensate some brilliant successes,—such a crushing of the mass of men beneath, the feet of a few, and these, too, often the least worthy,—such a small drop of honey to each cup of gall, and, in many cases, so mingled that it is never one moment in life purely tasted,—above all, so little achieved for Humanity as a whole, such tides of war and pestilence intervening to blot out the traces of each triumph,—that no wonder if the strongest soul sometimes pauses aghast; no wonder if the many indolently console themselves with gross joys and frivolous prizes. Yes! those men are worthy of admiration who can carry this cross faithfully through fifty years; it is a great while for all the agonies that beset a lover of good, a lover of men; it makes a soul worthy of a speedier ascent, a more productive ministry in the next sphere. Blessed are they who ever keep that portion of pure, generous love with which they began life! How blessed those who have deepened the fountains, and have enough to spare for the thirst of others! Some such there are; and, feeling that, with all the excuses for [pg 253] failure, still only the sight of those who triumph, gives a meaning to life or makes its pangs endurable, we must arise and follow.

Eighteen hundred years of this Christian culture in these European kingdoms, a great theme never lost sight of, a mighty idea, an adorable history to which the hearts of men invariably cling, yet are genuine results rare as grains of gold in the river's sandy bed! Where is the genuine democracy to which the rights of all men are holy? where the child-like wisdom learning all through life more and more of the will of God? where the aversion to falsehood, in all its myriad disguises of cant, vanity, covetousness, so clear to be read in all the history of Jesus of Nazareth? Modern Europe is the sequel to that history, and see this hollow England, with its monstrous wealth and cruel poverty, its conventional life, and low, practical aims! see this poor France, so full of talent, so adroit, yet so shallow and glossy still, which could not escape from a false position with all its baptism of blood! see that lost Poland, and this Italy bound down by treacherous hands in all the force of genius! see Russia with its brutal Czar and innumerable slaves! see Austria and its royalty that represents nothing, and its people, who, as people, are and have nothing! If we consider the amount of truth that has really been spoken out in the world, and the love that has beat in private hearts,—how genius has decked each spring-time with such splendid flowers, conveying each one enough of instruction in its life of harmonious energy, and how continually, unquenchably, the spark of faith has striven to burst into flame and light up the universe,—the public failure seems amazing, seems monstrous.

Still Europe toils and struggles with her idea, and, at this moment, all things bode and declare a new outbreak of the fire, to destroy old palaces of crime! May it fertilize also many vineyards! Here at this moment a successor of St. Peter, after the lapse of near two thousand years, is called "Utopian" by a part of this Europe, because he strives to get some food to the mouths of the leaner of his flock. A wonderful state of things, and which leaves as the best argument against despair, that men do not, cannot despair amid such dark experiences. And thou, my Country! [pg 254] wilt thou not be more true? does no greater success await thee? All things have so conspired to teach, to aid! A new world, a new chance, with oceans to wall in the new thought against interference from the old!—treasures of all kinds, gold, silver, corn, marble, to provide for every physical need! A noble, constant, starlike soul, an Italian, led the way to thy shores, and, in the first days, the strong, the pure, those too brave, too sincere, for the life of the Old World, hastened to people them. A generous struggle then shook off what was foreign, and gave the nation a glorious start for a worthy goal. Men rocked the cradle of its hopes, great, firm, disinterested, men, who saw, who wrote, as the basis of all that was to be done, a statement of the rights, the inborn rights of men, which, if fully interpreted and acted upon, leaves nothing to be desired.

Yet, O Eagle! whose early flight showed this clear sight of the sun, how often dost thou near the ground, how show the vulture in these later days! Thou wert to be the advance-guard of humanity, the herald of all progress; how often hast thou betrayed this high commission! Fain would the tongue in clear, triumphant accents draw example from thy story, to encourage the hearts of those who almost faint and die beneath the old oppressions. But we must stammer and blush when we speak of many things. I take pride here, that I can really say the liberty of the press works well, and that checks and balances are found naturally which suffice to its government. I can say that the minds of our people are alert, and that talent has a free chance to rise. This is much. But dare I further say that political ambition is not as darkly sullied as in other countries? Dare I say that men of most influence in political life are those who represent most virtue, or even intellectual power? Is it easy to find names in that career of which I can speak with enthusiasm? Must I not confess to a boundless lust of gain in my country? Must I not concede the weakest vanity, which bristles and blusters at each foolish taunt of the foreign press, and admit that the men who make these undignified rejoinders seek and find popularity so? Can I help admitting that there is as yet no antidote cordially [pg 255] adopted, which will defend even that great, rich country against the evils that have grown out of the commercial system in the Old World? Can I say our social laws are generally better, or show a nobler insight into the wants of man and woman? I do, indeed, say what I believe, that voluntary association for improvement in these particulars will be the grand means for my nation to grow, and give a nobler harmony to the coming age. But it is only of a small minority that I can say they as yet seriously take to heart these things; that they earnestly meditate on what is wanted for their country, for mankind,—for our cause is indeed, the cause of all mankind at present. Could we succeed, really succeed, combine a deep religious love with practical development, the achievements of genius with the happiness of the multitude, we might believe man had now reached a commanding point in his ascent, and would stumble and faint no more. Then there is this horrible cancer of slavery, and the wicked war that has grown out of it. How dare I speak of these things here? I listen to the same arguments against the emancipation of Italy, that are used against the emancipation of our blacks; the same arguments in favor of the spoliation of Poland, as for the conquest of Mexico. I find the cause of tyranny and wrong everywhere the same,—and lo! my country! the darkest offender, because with the least excuse; forsworn to the high calling with which she was called; no champion of the rights of men, but a robber and a jailer; the scourge hid behind her banner; her eyes fixed, not on the stars, but on the possessions of other men.

How it pleases me here to think of the Abolitionists! I could never endure to be with them at home, they were so tedious, often so narrow, always so rabid and exaggerated in their tone. But, after all, they had a high motive, something eternal in their desire and life; and if it was not the only thing worth thinking of, it was really something worth living and dying for, to free a great nation from such a terrible blot, such a threatening plague. God strengthen them, and make them wise to achieve their purpose!

I please myself, too, with remembering some ardent souls among [pg 256] the American youth, who I trust will yet expand, and help to give soul to the huge, over-fed, too hastily grown-up body. May they be constant! "Were man but constant, he were perfect," it has been said; and it is true that he who could be constant to those moments in which he has been truly human, not brutal, not mechanical, is on the sure path to his perfection, and to effectual service of the universe.

It is to the youth that hope addresses itself; to those who yet burn with aspiration, who are not hardened in their sins. But I dare not expect too much of them. I am not very old; yet of those who, in life's morning, I saw touched by the light of a high hope, many have seceded. Some have become voluptuaries; some, mere family men, who think it quite life enough to win bread for half a dozen people, and treat them, decently; others are lost through indolence and vacillation. Yet some remain constant;

"I have witnessed many a shipwreck,

Yet still beat noble hearts."

I have found many among the youth of England, of France, of Italy, also, full of high desire; but will they have courage and purity to fight the battle through in the sacred, the immortal band? Of some of them I believe it, and await the proof. If a few succeed amid the trial, we have not lived and loved in vain.

To these, the heart and hope of my country, a happy new year! I do not know what I have written; I have merely yielded to my feelings in thinking of America; but something of true love must be in these lines. Receive them kindly, my friends; it is, of itself, some merit for printed words to be sincere.

[pg 257]

 

LETTER XIX.

The Climate of Italy.—Review of First Impressions.—Rome in its various Aspects.—The Pope.—Cemetery of Santo Spirito.—Ceremonies at the Chapels.—The Women of Italy.—Festival of St. Carlo Borromeo.—An Incident in the Chapel.—English Residents in the Seven-hilled City.—Mrs. Trollope a Resident of Florence.—The Pope as he communicates with his People.—The Position of Affairs.—Lesser Potentates.—The Inauguration of the New Council.—The Ceremonies thereto appertaining.—The American Flag in Rome.—A Ball.—A Feast, and its Reverse.—The Funeral of a Councillor.

Rome, December 17, 1847.

This 17th day of December I rise to see the floods of sunlight blessing us, as they have almost every day since I returned to Rome,—two months and more,—with scarce three or four days of rainy weather. I still see the fresh roses and grapes each morning on my table, though both these I expect to give up at Christmas.

This autumn is something like, as my countrymen say at home. Like what, they do not say; so I always supposed they meant like their ideal standard. Certainly this weather corresponds with mine; and I begin to believe the climate of Italy is really what it has been represented. Shivering here last spring in an air no better than the cruel cast wind of Puritan Boston, I thought all the praises lavished on

"Italia, O Italia!"

would turn out to be figments of the brain; and that even Byron, usually accurate beyond the conception of plodding pedants, had deceived us when he says, you have the happiness in Italy to

"See the sun set, sure he'll rise to-morrow,"

[pg 258] and not, according to a view which exercises a withering influence on the enthusiasm of youth in my native land, be forced to regard each pleasant day as a weather-breeder.

How delightful, too, is the contrast between this time and the spring in another respect! Then I was here, like travellers in general, expecting to be driven away in a short time. Like others, I went through the painful process of sight-seeing, so unnatural everywhere, so counter to the healthful methods and true life of the mind. You rise in the morning knowing there are a great number of objects worth knowing, which you may never have the chance to see again. You go every day, in all moods, under all circumstances; feeling, probably, in seeing them, the inadequacy of your preparation for understanding or duly receiving them. This consciousness would be most valuable if one had time to think and study, being the natural way in which the mind is lured to cure its defects; but you have no time; you are always wearied, body and mind, confused, dissipated, sad. The objects are of commanding beauty or full of suggestion, but there is no quiet to let that beauty breathe its life into the soul; no time to follow up these suggestions, and plant for the proper harvest. Many persons run about Rome for nine days, and then go away; they might as well expect to appreciate the Venus by throwing a stone at it, as hope really to see Rome in this time. I stayed in Rome nine weeks, and came away unhappy as he who, having been taken in the visions of the night through some wondrous realm, wakes unable to recall anything but the hues and outlines of the pageant; the real knowledge, the recreative power induced by familiar love, the assimilation of its soul and substance,—all the true value of such a revelation,—is wanting; and he remains a poor Tantalus, hungrier than before he had tasted this spiritual food.

No; Rome is not a nine-days wonder; and those who try to make it such lose the ideal Rome (if they ever had it), without gaining any notion of the real. To those who travel, as they do everything else, only because others do, I do not speak; they are nothing. Nobody counts in the estimate of the human race who has not a character.

[pg 259]

For one, I now really live in Rome, and I begin to see and feel the real Rome. She reveals herself day by day; she tells me some of her life. Now I never go out to see a sight, but I walk every day; and here I cannot miss of some object of consummate interest to end a walk. In the evenings, which are long now, I am at leisure to follow up the inquiries suggested by the day.

As one becomes familiar, Ancient and Modern Rome, at first so painfully and discordantly jumbled together, are drawn apart to the mental vision. One sees where objects and limits anciently wore; the superstructures vanish, and you recognize the local habitation of so many thoughts. When this begins to happen, one feels first truly at ease in Rome. Then the old kings, the consuls and tribunes, the emperors, drunk with blood and gold, the warriors of eagle sight and remorseless beak, return for us, and the togated procession finds room to sweep across the scene; the seven hills tower, the innumerable temples glitter, and the Via Sacra swarms with triumphal life once more.

Ah! how joyful to see once more this Rome, instead of the pitiful, peddling, Anglicized Rome, first viewed in unutterable dismay from the coupé of the vettura,—a Rome all full of taverns, lodging-houses, cheating chambermaids, vilest valets de place, and fleas! A Niobe of nations indeed! Ah! why, secretly the heart blasphemed, did the sun omit to kill her too, when all the glorious race which wore her crown fell beneath his ray? Thank Heaven, it is possible to wash away all this dirt, and come at the marble yet.

Their the later Papal Rome: it requires much acquaintance, much thought, much reference to books, for the child of Protestant Republican America to see where belong the legends illustrated by rite and picture, the sense of all the rich tapestry, where it has a united and poetic meaning, where it is broken by some accident of history. For all these things—a senseless mass of juggleries to the uninformed eye—are really growths of the human spirit struggling to develop its life, and full of instruction for those who learn to understand them.

Then Modern Rome,—still ecclesiastical, still darkened and [pg 260] damp in the shadow of the Vatican, but where bright hopes gleam now amid the ashes! Never was a people who have had more to corrupt them,—bloody tyranny, and incubus of priestcraft, the invasions, first of Goths, then of trampling emperors and kings, then of sight-seeing foreigners,—everything to turn them from a sincere, hopeful, fruitful life; and they are much corrupted, but still a fine race. I cannot look merely with a pictorial eye on the lounge of the Roman dandy, the bold, Juno gait of the Roman Contadina. I love them,—dandies and all? I believe the natural expression of these fine forms will animate them yet. Certainly there never was a people that showed a better heart than they do in this day of love, of purely moral influence. It makes me very happy to be for once in a place ruled by a father's love, and where the pervasive glow of one good, generous heart is felt in every pulse of every day.

I have seen the Pope several times since my return, and it is a real pleasure to see him in the thoroughfares, where his passage is always greeted as that of the living soul.

The first week of November there is much praying for the dead here in the chapels of the cemeteries. I went to Santo Spirito. This cemetery stands high, and all the way up the slope was lined with beggars petitioning for alms, in every attitude find tone, (I mean tone that belongs to the professional beggar's gamut, for that is peculiar,) and under every pretext imaginable, from the quite legless elderly gentleman to the ragged ruffian with the roguish twinkle in his eye, who has merely a slight stiffness in one arm and one leg. I could not help laughing, it was such a show,—greatly to the alarm of my attendant, who declared they would kill me, if ever they caught me alone; but I was not afraid. I am sure the endless falsehood in which such creatures live must make them very cowardly. We entered the cemetery; it was a sweet, tranquil place, lined with cypresses, and soft sunshine lying on the stone coverings where repose the houses of clay in which once dwelt joyous Roman hearts,—for the hearts here do take pleasure in life. There were several chapels; in one boys were chanting, in others people on their [pg 261] knees silently praying for the dead. In another was one of the groups in wax exhibited in such chapels through the first week of November. It represented St. Carlo Borromeo as a beautiful young man in a long scarlet robe, pure and brilliant as was the blood of the martyrs, relieving the poor who were grouped around him,—old people and children, the halt, the maimed, the blind; he had called them all into the feast of love. The chapel was lighted and draped so as to give very good effect to this group; the spectators were mainly children and young girls, listening with ardent eyes, while their parents or the nuns explained to them the group, or told some story of the saint. It was a pretty scene, only marred by the presence of a villanous-looking man, who ever and anon shook the poor's box. I cannot understand the bad taste of choosing him, when there were frati and priests enough of expression less unprepossessing.

I next entered a court-yard, where the stations, or different periods in the Passion of Jesus, are painted on the wall. Kneeling before these were many persons: here a Franciscan, in his brown robe and cord; there a pregnant woman, uttering, doubtless, some tender aspiration for the welfare of the yet unborn dear one; there some boys, with gay yet reverent air; while all the while these fresh young voices were heard chanting. It was a beautiful moment, and despite the wax saint, the ill-favored friar, the professional mendicants, and my own removal, wide as pole from pole, from the positron of mind indicated by these forms, their spirit touched me, and. I prayed too; prayed for the distant, every way distant,—for those who seem to have forgotten me, and with me all we had in common; prayed for the dead in spirit, if not in body; prayed for myself, that I might never walk the earth

"The tomb of my dead self";

and prayed in general for all unspoiled and loving hearts,—no less for all who suffer and find yet no helper.

Going out, I took my road by the cross which marks the brow of the hill. Up the ascent still wound the crowd of devotees, and [pg 262] still the beggars beset them. Amid that crowd, how many lovely, warm-hearted women! The women of Italy are intellectually in a low place, but—they are unaffected; you can see what Heaven meant them to be, and I believe they will be yet the mothers of a great and generous race. Before me lay Rome,—how exquisitely tranquil in the sunset! Never was an aspect that for serene grandeur could vie with that of Rome at sunset.

Next day was the feast of the Milanese saint, whose life has been made known to some Americans by Manzoni, when speaking in his popular novel of the cousin of St. Carlo, Federigo Borromeo. The Pope came in state to the church of St. Carlo, in the Corso. The show was magnificent; the church is not very large, and was almost filled with Papal court and guards, in all their splendid harmonies of color. An Italian child was next me, a little girl of four or five years, whom her mother had brought to see the Pope. As in the intervals of gazing the child smiled and made signs to me, I nodded in return, and asked her name. "Virginia," said she; "and how is the Signora named?" "Margherita," "My name," she rejoined, "is Virginia Gentili." I laughed, but did not follow up the cunning, graceful lead,—still I chatted and played with her now and then. At last, she said to her mother, "La Signora e molto cara," ("The Signora is very dear," or, to use the English equivalent, a darling,) "show her my two sisters." So the mother, herself a fine-looking woman, introduced two handsome young ladies, and with the family I was in a moment pleasantly intimate for the hour.

Before me sat three young English ladies, the pretty daughters of a noble Earl; their manners were a strange contrast to this Italian graciousness, best expressed by their constant use of the pronoun that. "See that man!" (i.e. some high dignitary of the Church,) "Look at that dress!" dropped constantly from their lips. Ah! without being a Catholic, one may well wish Rome was not dependent on English sight-seers, who violate her ceremonies with acts that bespeak their thoughts full of wooden shoes and warming-pans. Can anything be more sadly expressive of times out of joint than the fact that Mrs. Trollope is a resident [pg 263] in Italy? Yes! she is fixed permanently in Florence, as I am told, pensioned at the rate of two thousand pounds a year to trail her slime over the fruit of Italy. She is here in Rome this winter, and, after having violated the virgin beauty of America, will have for many a year her chance to sully the imperial matron of the civilized world. What must the English public be, if it wishes to pay two thousand pounds a year to get Italy Trollopified?

But to turn to a pleasanter subject. When the Pope entered, borne in his chair of state amid the pomp of his tiara and his white and gold robes, he looked to me thin, or, as the Italians murmur anxiously at times, consumato, or wasted. But during the ceremony he seemed absorbed in his devotions, and at the end I think he had become exhilarated by thinking of St. Carlo, who was such another over the human race as himself, and his face wore a bright glow of faith. As he blessed the people, he raised his eyes to Heaven, with a gesture quite natural: it was the spontaneous act of a soul which felt that moment more than usual its relation with things above it, and sure of support from a higher Power. I saw him to still greater advantage a little while after, when, riding on the Campagna with a young gentleman who had been ill, we met the Pope on foot, taking exercise. He often quits his carriage at the gates and walks in this way. He walked rapidly, robed in a simple white drapery, two young priests in spotless purple on either side; they gave silver to the poor who knelt beside the way, while the beloved Father gave his benediction. My companion knelt; he is not a Catholic, but he felt that "this blessing would do him no harm." The Pope saw at once he was ill, and gave him a mark of interest, with that expression of melting love, the true, the only charity, which assures all who look on him that, were his power equal to his will, no living thing would ever suffer more. This expression the artists try in vain to catch; all busts and engravings of him are caricatures; it is a magnetic sweetness, a lambent light that plays over his features, and of which only great genius or a soul tender as his own would form an adequate image.

[pg 264]

The Italians have one term of praise peculiarly characteristic of their highly endowed nature. They say of such and such, Ha una phisonomia simpatica,—"He has a sympathetic expression"; and this is praise enough. This may be pre-eminently said of that of Pius IX. He looks, indeed, as if nothing human could be foreign to him. Such alone are the genuine kings of men.

He has shown undoubted wisdom, clear-sightedness, bravery, and firmness; but it is, above all, his generous human heart that gives him his power over this people. His is a face to shame the selfish, redeem the sceptic, alarm the wicked, and cheer to new effort the weary and heavy-laden. What form the issues of his life may take is yet uncertain; in my belief, they are such as he does not think of; but they cannot fail to be for good. For my part, I shall always rejoice to have been here in his time. The working of his influence confirms my theories, and it is a positive treasure to me to have seen him. I have never been presented, not wishing to approach, so real a presence in the path of mere etiquette; I am quite content to see him standing amid the crowd, while the band plays the music he has inspired.

"Sons of Rome, awake!"

Yes, awake, and let no police-officer put you again to sleep in prison, as has happened to those who were called by the Marseillaise.

Affairs look well. The king of Sardinia has at last, though with evident distrust and heartlessness, entered the upward path in a way that makes it difficult to return. The Duke of Modena, the most senseless of all these ancient gentlemen, after publishing a declaration, which made him more ridiculous than would the bitterest pasquinade penned by another, that he would fight to the death against reform, finds himself obliged to lend an ear as to the league for the customs; and if he joins that, other measures follow of course. Austria trembles; and, in fine, cannot sustain the point of Ferrara. The king of Naples, after having shed much blood, for which he has a terrible account to render, [pg 265] (ah! how many sad, fair romances are to tell already about the Calabrian difficulties!) still finds the spirit fomenting in his people; he cannot put it down. The dragon's teeth are sown, and the Lazzaroni may be men yet! The Swiss affairs have taken the right direction, and good will ensue, if other powers act with decent honesty, and think of healing the wounds of Switzerland, rather than merely of tying her down, so that she cannot annoy them.

In Rome, here, the new Council is inaugurated, and elections have given tolerable satisfaction. Already, struggles ended in other places begin to be renewed here, as to gas-lights, introduction of machinery, &c. We shall see at the end of the winter how they have gone on. At any rate, the wants of the people are in some measure represented; and already the conduct of those who have taken to themselves so large a portion of the loaves and fishes on the very platform supposed to be selected by Jesus for a general feeding of his sheep, begins to be the subject of spoken as well as whispered animadversion. Torlonia is assailed in his bank, Campana amid his urns or his Monte di Picti; but these assaults have yet to be verified.

On the day when the Council was to be inaugurated, great preparations were made by representatives of other parts of Italy, and also of foreign nations friendly to the cause of progress. It was considered to represent the same fact as the feast of the 12th of September in Tuscany,—the dawn of an epoch when the people shall find their wants and aspirations represented and guarded. The Americans showed a warm interest; the gentlemen subscribing to buy a flag, the United States having none before in Rome, and the ladies meeting to make it. The same distinguished individual, indeed, who at Florence made a speech to prevent "the American eagle being taken out on so trifling an occasion," with similar perspicuity and superiority of view, on the present occasion, was anxious to prevent "rash demonstrations, which might embroil the United States with Austria"; but the rash youth here present rushed on, ignorant how to value his Nestorian prudence,—fancying, hot-headed simpletons, that the cause of Freedom was [pg 266] the cause of America, and her eagle at home wherever the sun shed a warmer ray, and there was reason to hope a happier life for man. So they hurried to buy their silk, red, white, and blue, and inquired of recent arrivals how many States there are this winter in the Union, in order to making the proper number of stars. A magnificent spread-eagle was procured, not without difficulty, as this, once the eyrie of the king of birds, is now a rookery rather, full of black, ominous fowl, ready to eat the harvest sown by industrious hands. This eagle, having previously spread its wings over a piece of furniture where its back was sustained by the wall, was somewhat deficient in a part of its anatomy. But we flattered ourselves he should be held so high that no Roman eye, if disposed, could carp and criticise. When lo! just as the banner was ready to unfold its young glories in the home of Horace, Virgil, and Tacitus, an ordinance appeared prohibiting the display of any but the Roman ensign.

This ordinance was, it is said, caused by representations made to the Pope that the Oscurantists, ever on the watch to do mischief, meant to make this the occasion of disturbance,—as it is their policy to seek to create irritation here; that the Neapolitan and Lombardo-Venetian flags would appear draped with black, and thus the signal be given for tumult. I cannot help thinking these fears were groundless; that the people, on their guard, would have indignantly crushed at once any of these malignant efforts. However that may be, no one can ever be really displeased with any measure of the Pope, knowing his excellent intentions. But the limitation of the festival deprived it of the noble character of the brotherhood of nations and an ideal aim, worn by that of Tuscany. The Romans, drilled and disappointed, greeted their Councillors with but little enthusiasm. The procession, too, was but a poor affair for Rome. Twenty-four carriages had been lent by the princes and nobles, at the request of the city, to convey the Councillors. I found something symbolical in this. Thus will they be obliged to furnish from their old grandeur the vehicles of the new ideas. Each deputy was followed by his target and banner. When the deputy for Ferrara passed, many garlands were [pg 267] thrown upon his carriage. There has been deep respect and sympathy felt for the citizens of Ferrara, they have conducted so well under their late trying circumstances. They contained themselves, knowing that the least indiscretion would give a handle for aggression to the enemies of the good cause. But the daily occasions of irritation must have been innumerable, and they have shown much power of wise and dignified self-government.

After the procession passed, I attempted to go on foot from the Café Novo, in the Corso, to St. Peter's, to see the decorations of the streets, but it was impossible. In that dense, but most vivacious, various, and good-humored crowd, with all best will on their part to aid the foreigner, it was impossible to advance. So I saw only themselves; but that was a great pleasure. There is so much individuality of character here, that it is a great entertainment to be in a crowd.

In the evening, there was a ball given at the Argentina. Lord Minto was there; Prince Corsini, now Senator; the Torlonias, in uniform of the Civic Guard,—Princess Torlonia in a sash of their colors, given her by the Civic Guard, which she waved often in answer to their greetings. But the beautiful show of the evening was the Trasteverini dancing the Saltarello in their most brilliant costume. I saw them thus to much greater advantage than ever before. Several were nobly handsome, and danced admirably; it was really like Pinelli.

The Saltarello enchants me; in this is really the Italian wine, the Italian sun. The first time, I saw it danced one night very unexpectedly near the Colosseum; it carried me quite beyond myself, so that I most unamiably insisted on staying, while the friends in my company, not heated by enthusiasm like me, were shivering and perhaps catching cold from the damp night-air. I fear they remember it against me; nevertheless I cherish the memory of the moments wickedly stolen at their expense, for it is only the first time seeing such a thing that you enjoy a peculiar delight. But since, I love to see and study it much.

The Pope, in receiving the Councillors, made a speech,—such as the king of Prussia intrenched himself in on a similar occasion, [pg 268] only much better and shorter,—implying that he meant only to improve, not to reform, and should keep things in statu quo, safe locked with the keys of St. Peter. This little speech was made, no doubt, more to reassure czars, emperors, and kings, than from the promptings of the spirit. But the fact of its necessity, as well as the inferior freedom and spirit of the Roman journals to those of Tuscany, seems to say that the pontifical government, though from the accident of this one man's accession it has taken the initiative to better times, yet may not, after a while, from its very nature, be able to keep in the vanguard.

A sad contrast to the feast of this day was presented by the same persons, a fortnight after, following the body of Silvani, one of the Councillors, who died suddenly. The Councillors, the different societies of Rome, a corps frati bearing tapers, the Civic Guard with drums slowly beating, the same state carriages with their liveried attendants all slowly, sadly moving, with torches and banners, drooped along the Corso in the dark night. A single horseman, with his long white plume and torch reversed, governed the procession; it was the Prince Aldobrandini. The whole had that grand effect so easily given by this artist people, who seize instantly the natural poetry of an occasion, and with unanimous tact hasten to represent it. More and much anon.

[pg 269]

 

LETTER XX.

Rome.—Bad Weather.—St. Cecilia.—The People's Processions.—Taking the Veil.—Festivities.—Political Agitation.—Nobles.—Maria Louisa.—Guiccioli.—Parma.—Address to the new Sovereign.—The New York Meeting for Italy.—Address to the Pope.

Rome, December 30, 1847.

I could not, in my last, content myself with praising the glorious weather. I wrote in the last day of it. Since, we have had a fortnight of rain falling incessantly, and whole days and nights of torrents such as are peculiar to the "clearing-up" shower in our country.

Under these circumstances, I have found my lodging in the Corso not only has its dark side, but is all dark, and that one in the Piazza di Spagne would have been better for me in this respect; there on these days, the only ones when I wish to stay at home and write and study, I should have had the light. Now, if I consulted the good of my eyes, I should have the lamp lit on first rising in the morning.

"Every sweet must have its bitter," and the exchange from the brilliance of the Italian heaven to weeks and months of rain, and such black cloud, is unspeakably dejecting. For myself, at the end of this fortnight without exercise or light, and in such a damp atmosphere, I find myself without strength, without appetite, almost without spirits. The life of the German scholar who studies fifteen hours out of the twenty-four, or that of the Spielberg prisoner who could live through ten, fifteen, twenty years of dark prison with, only half an hour's exercise in the day, is to me a mystery. How can the brain, the nerves, ever support it? We are made to keep in motion, to drink the air and light; to me [pg 270] these are needed to make life supportable, the physical state is so difficult and full of pains at any rate.

I am sorry for those who have arrived just at this time hoping to enjoy the Christmas festivities. Everything was spoiled by the weather. I went at half past ten to San Luigi Francese, a church adorned with some of Domenichino's finest frescos on the life and death of St. Cecilia.

This name leads me to a little digression. In a letter to Mr. Phillips, the dear friend of our revered Dr. Charming, I asked him if he remembered what recumbent statue it was of which Dr. Charming was wont to speak as of a sight that impressed him more than anything else in Rome. He said, indeed, his mood, and the unexpectedness in seeing this gentle, saintly figure lying there as if death had just struck her down, had no doubt much influence upon him; but still he believed the work had a peculiar holiness in its expression. I recognized at once the theme of his description (the name he himself had forgotten) as I entered the other evening the lonely church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. As in his case, it was twilight: one or two nuns were at their devotions, and there lay the figure in its grave-clothes, with an air so gentle, so holy, as if she had only ceased to pray as the hand of the murderer struck her down. Her gentle limbs seemed instinct still with soft, sweet life; the expression was not of the heroine, the martyr, so much as of the tender, angelic woman. I could well understand the deep impression made upon his mind. The expression of the frescos of Domenichino is not inharmonious with the suggestions of this statue.

Finding the Mass was not to begin for some time, I set out for the Quirinal to see the Pope return from that noble church, Santa Maria Maggiore, where he officiated this night. I reached the mount just as he was returning. A few torches gleamed before his door; perhaps a hundred people were gathered together round the fountain. Last year an immense multitude waited for him there to express their affection in one grand good-night; the change was occasioned partly by the weather, partly by other causes, of which I shall speak by and by. Just as he returned, [pg 271] the moon looked palely out from amid the wet clouds, and shone upon the fountain, and the noble figures above it, and the long white cloaks of the Guardia Nobile who followed his carriage on horseback; darker objects could scarcely be seen, except by the flickering light of the torches, much blown by the wind. I then returned to San Luigi. The effect of the night service there was very fine; those details which often have such a glaring, mean look by day are lost sight of in the night, and the unity of impression from the service is much more undisturbed. The music, too, descriptive of that era which promised peace on earth, good-will to men, was very sweet, and the pastorale particularly soothed the heart amid the crowd, and pompous ceremonial. But here, too, the sweet had its bitter, in the vulgar vanity of the leader of the orchestra, a trait too common in such, who, not content with marking the time for the musicians, made his stick heard in the remotest nook of the church; so that what would have been sweet music, and flowed in upon the soul, was vulgarized to make you remember the performers and their machines.

On Monday the leaders of the Guardia Civica paid their respects to the Pope, who, in receiving them, expressed his constantly increasing satisfaction in having given this institution to his people. The same evening there was a procession with torches to the Quirinal, to pay the homage due to the day (Feast of St. John, and name-day of the Pope, Giovanni Maria Mastai); but all the way the rain continually threatened to extinguish the torches, and the Pope could give but a hasty salute under an umbrella, when the heavens were again opened, and such a cataract of water descended, as drove both man and beast to seek the nearest shelter.

On Sunday, I went to see a nun take the veil. She was a person of high family; a princess gave her away, and the Cardinal Ferreti, Secretary of State, officiated. It was a much less effective ceremony than I expected from the descriptions of travellers and romance-writers. There was no moment of throwing on the black veil; no peal of music; no salute of cannon. The nun, an elegantly dressed woman of five or six and twenty,—pretty [pg 272] enough, but whose quite worldly air gave the idea that it was one of those arrangements made because no suitable establishment could otherwise be given her,—came forward, knelt, and prayed; her confessor, in that strained, unnatural whine too common among preachers of all churches and all countries, praised himself for having induced her to enter on a path which would lead her fettered steps "from palm to palm, from triumph to triumph," Poor thing! she looked as if the domestic olives and poppies were all she wanted; and lacking these, tares and wormwood must be her portion. She was then taken behind a grating, her hair cut, and her clothes exchanged for the nun's vestments; the black-robed sisters who worked upon her looking like crows or ravens at their ominous feasts. All the while, the music played, first sweet and thoughtful, then triumphant strains. The effect on my mind was revolting and painful to the last degree. Were monastic seclusion always voluntary, and could it be ended whenever the mind required a change back from seclusion to common life, I should have nothing to say against it; there are positions of the mind which it suits exactly, and even characters that might choose it all through life; certainly, to the broken-hearted it presents a shelter that Protestant communities do not provide. But where it is enforced or repented of, no hell could be worse; nor can a more terrible responsibility be incurred than by him who has persuaded a novice that the snares of the world are less dangerous than the demons of solitude.

Festivities in Italy have been of great importance, since, for a century or two back, the thought, the feeling, the genius of the people have had more chance to expand, to express themselves, there than anywhere else. Now, if the march of reform goes forward, this will not be so; there will be also speeches made freely on public occasions, without having the life pressed out of them by the censorship. Now we hover betwixt the old and the new; when the many reasons for the new prevail, I hope what is poetical in the old will not be lost. The ceremonies of New Year are before me; but as I shall have to send this letter on New-Year's day, I cannot describe them. [pg 273] The Romans begin now to talk of the mad gayeties of Carnival, and the Opera is open. They have begun with "Attila," as, indeed, there is little hope of hearing in Italy other music than Verdi's. Great applause waited on the following words:—

"EZIO (THE ROMAN LEADER).

"E gittata la mia sorte,

Pronto sono ad ogni guerra,

S' io cardò, cadrè da forte,

E il mio nome resterà.

"Non vedrò l'amata terra

Svener lenta e farri a brano,

Sopra l'ultimo Romano

Tutta Italia piangerà."

"My lot is fixed, and I stand ready for every conflict. If I must fall, I shall fall as a brave man, and my fame will survive. I shall not see my beloved country fall to pieces and slowly perish, and over the last Roman all Italy will weep."

And at lines of which the following is a translation:—

"O brave man, whose mighty power can raise thy country from such dire distress; from the immortal hills, radiant with glory, let the shades of our ancestors arise; oh! only one day, one instant, arise to look upon us!"

It was an Italian who sung this strain, though, singularly enough, here in the heart of Italy, so long reputed the home of music, three principal parts were filled by persons bearing the foreign names of Ivanoff, Mitrovich, and Nissren.

Naples continues in a state of great excitement, which now pervades the upper classes, as several young men of noble families have been arrested; among them, one young man much beloved, son of Prince Terella, and who, it is said, was certainly not present on the occasion for which he was arrested, and that the measure was taken because he was known to sympathize strongly with the liberal movement. The nobility very generally have not feared to go to the house of his father to express their displeasure at the arrest and interest in the young man. The ministry, it is said, are now persuaded of the necessity of a change of measures. The king alone remains inflexible in his stupidity.

The stars of Bonaparte and Byron show again a conjunction, [pg 274] by the almost simultaneous announcement of changes in the lot of women with whom they were so intimately connected;—the Archduchess of Parma, Maria Louisa, is dead; the Countess Guiccioli is married. The Countess I have seen several times; she still looks young, and retains the charms which by the contemporaries of Byron she is reputed to have had; they never were of a very high order; her best expression is that of a good heart. I always supposed that Byron, weary and sick of the world such as he had known it, became attached to her for her good disposition, and sincere, warm tenderness for him; the sight of her, and the testimony of a near relative, confirmed this impression. This friend of hers added, that she had tried very hard to remain devoted to the memory of Byron, but was quite unequal to the part, being one of those affectionate natures that must have some one near with whom to be occupied; and now, it seems, she has resigned herself publicly to abandon her romance. However, I fancy the manes of Byron remain undisturbed.

We all know the worthless character of Maria Louisa, the indifference she showed to a husband who, if he was not her own choice, yet would have been endeared to almost any woman, as one fallen from an immense height into immense misfortune, and as the father of her child. No voice from her penetrated to cheer his exile: the unhappiness of Josephine was well avenged. And that child, the poor Duke of Reichstadt, of a character so interesting, and with obvious elements of greatness, withering beneath the mean, cold influence of his grandfather,—what did Maria Louisa do for him,—she, appointed by Nature to be his inspiring genius, his protecting angel? I felt for her a most sad and profound contempt last summer, as I passed through her oppressed dominion, a little sphere, in which, if she could not save it from the usual effects of the Austrian rule, she might have done so much private, womanly good,—might have been a genial heart to warm it,—and where she had let so much ill be done. A journal announces her death in these words: "The Archduchess is dead; a woman who might have occupied one of the noblest positions in the history of the age";—and there makes expressive pause.

[pg 275]

Parma, passing from bad to worse, falls into the hands of the Duke of Modena; and the people and magistracy have made an address to their new ruler. The address has received many thousand signatures, and seems quite sincere, except in the assumption of good-will in the Duke of Modena; and this is merely an insincerity of etiquette.

[pg 276]

 

LETTER XXI.

The Pope's Reception of the New Officers.—They kiss his Foot.—Vespers at the Gesù.—A Poor Youth in Rome seeking a Patron.—Rumors of Disturbances.—Their Cause.—Representations to the Pope.—His Conduct in the Affair.—An Italian Consul for the United States.—Catholicism.—The Popularity of the Pope.—His Deposition of a Censor.—The Policy of the Pope in his Domestic not equal to that of his Public Life.—His Opposition to Protestant Reform.—Letter from Joseph Mazzini to the Pontiff.—Reflections on it.

Rome, January 10, 1848.

In the first morning of this New Year I sent off a letter which must then be mailed, in order to reach the steamer of the 16th. So far am I from home, that even steam does not come nigh to annihilate the distance.

This afternoon I went to the Quirinal Palace to see the Pope receive the new municipal officers. He was to-day in his robes of white and gold, with his usual corps of attendants in pure red and white, or violet and white. The new officers were in black velvet dresses, with broad white collars. They took the oaths of office, and then actually kissed his foot. I had supposed this was never really done, but only a very low obeisance made; the act seemed to me disgustingly abject. A Heavenly Father does not want his children at his feet, but in his arms, on a level with his heart.

After this was over the Pope went to the Gesù, a very rich church, belonging to the Jesuits, to officiate at Vespers, and we followed. The music was beautiful, and the effect of the church, with its richly-painted dome and altar-piece in a blaze of light, while the assembly were in a sort of brown darkness, was very fine.

A number of Americans there, new arrivals, kept requesting in [pg 277] the midst of the music to know when it would begin. "Why, this is it," some one at last had the patience to answer; "you are hearing Vespers now." "What," they replied, "is there no oration, no speech!" So deeply rooted in the American mind is the idea that a sermon is the only real worship!

This church, is indelibly stamped on my mind. Coming to Rome this time, I saw in the diligence a young man, whom his uncle, a priest of the convent that owns this church, had sent for, intending to provide him employment here. Some slight circumstances tested the character of this young man, and showed it what I have ever found it, singularly honorable and conscientious. He was led to show me his papers, among which was a letter from a youth whom, with that true benevolence only possible to the poor, because only they can make great sacrifices, he had so benefited as to make an entire change in his prospects for life. Himself a poor orphan, with nothing but a tolerable education at an orphan asylum, and a friend of his dead parents to find him employment on leaving it, he had felt for this young man, poorer and more uninstructed than himself, had taught him at his leisure to read and write, had then collected from, friends, and given himself, till he had gathered together sixty francs, procuring also for his protégé a letter from monks, who were friends of his, to the convents on the road, so that wherever there was one, the poor youth had lodging and food gratis. Thus armed, he set forth on foot for Rome; Piacenza, their native place, affording little hope even of gaining bread, in the present distressed state of that dominion. The letter was to say that he had arrived, and been so fortunate as to find employment immediately in the studio of Benzoni, the sculptor.

The poor patron's eyes sparkled as I read the letter. "How happy he is!" said he. "And does he not spell and write well? I was his only master."

But the good do not inherit the earth, and, less fortunate than his protégé, Germano on his arrival found his uncle ill of the Roman fever. He came to see me, much agitated. "Can it be, Signorina," says he, "that God, who has taken my father and [pg 278] mother, will also take from me the only protector I have left, and just as I arrive in this strange place, too?" After a few days he seemed more tranquil, and told me that, though he had felt as if it would console him and divert his mind to go to some places of entertainment, he had forborne and applied the money to have masses said for his uncle. "I feel," he said, "as if God would help me." Alas! at that moment the uncle was dying. Poor Germano came next day with a receipt for masses said for the soul of the departed, (his simple faith in these being apparently indestructible,) and amid his tears he said: "The Fathers were so unkind, they were hardly willing to hear me speak a word; they were so afraid I should be a burden to them, I shall never go there again. But the most cruel thing was, I offered them a scudo (dollar) to say six masses for the soul of my poor uncle; they said they would only say five, and must have seven baiocchi (cents) more for that."

A few days after, I happened to go into their church, and found it thronged, while a preacher, panting, sweating, leaning half out of the pulpit, was exhorting his hearers to "imitate Christ." With unspeakable disgust I gazed on this false shepherd of those who had just so failed in their duty to a poor stray lamb, Their church is so rich in ornaments, the seven baiocchi were hardly needed to burnish it. Their altar-piece is a very imposing composition, by an artist of Rome, still in the prime of his powers. Capalti. It represents the Circumcision, with the cross and six waiting angels in the background; Joseph, who holds the child, the priest, and all the figures in the foreground, seem intent upon the barbarous rite, except Mary the mother; her mind seems to rush forward into the future, and understand the destiny of her child; she sees the cross,—she sees the angels, too.

Now I have mentioned a picture, let me say a word or two about Art and artists, by way of parenthesis in this letter so much occupied, with political affairs. We laugh a little here at some words that come from your city on the subject of Art.

We hear that the landscapes painted here show a want of familiarity with Nature; artists need to return to America and see her [pg 279] again. But, friends, Nature wears a different face in Italy from what she does in America. Do you not want to see her Italian face? it is very glorious! We thought it was the aim of Art to reproduce all forms of Nature, and that you would not be sorry to have transcripts of what you have not always round you. American Art is not necessarily a reproduction of American Nature.

Hicks has made a charming picture of familiar life, which those who cannot believe in Italian daylight would not tolerate. I am not sure that all eyes are made in the same manner, for I have known those who declare they see nothing remarkable in these skies, these hues; and always complain when they are reproduced in picture. I have yet seen no picture by Cropsey on an Italian subject, but his sketches from Scotch scenes are most poetical and just presentations of those lakes, those mountains, with their mourning veils. He is an artist of great promise. Cranch has made a picture for Mr. Ogden Haggerty of a fine mountain-hold of old Colonna story. I wish he would write a ballad about it too; there is plenty of material.

But to return to the Jesuits. One swallow does not make a summer, nor am I—who have seen so much hard-heartedness and barbarous greed of gain in all classes of men—so foolish as to attach undue importance to the demand, by those who have dared to appropriate peculiarly to themselves the sacred name of Jesus, from a poor orphan, and for the soul of one of their own order, of "seven baiocchi more." But I have always been satisfied, from the very nature of their institutions, that the current prejudice against them must be correct. These institutions are calculated to harden the heart, and destroy entirely that truth which is the conservative principle in character. Their influence is and must be always against the free progress of humanity. The more I see of its working, the more I feel how pernicious it is, and were I a European, to no object should I lend myself with more ardor, than to the extirpation of this cancer. True, disband the Jesuits, there would still remain Jesuitical men, but singly they would have infinitely less power to work mischief.

The influence of the Oscurantist foe has shown itself more and [pg 280] more plainly in Rome, during the last four or five weeks. A false miracle is devised: the Madonna del Popolo, (who has her handsome house very near me,) has cured, a paralytic youth, (who, in fact, was never diseased,) and, appearing to him in a vision, takes occasion to criticise severely the measures of the Pope. Rumors of tumult in one quarter are circulated, to excite it in another. Inflammatory handbills are put up in the night. But the Romans thus far resist all intrigues of the foe to excite them to bad conduct.

On New-Year's day, however, success was near. The people, as usual, asked permission of the Governor to go to the Quirinal and receive the benediction of the Pope. This was denied, and not, as it might truly have been, because the Pope was unwell, but in the most ungracious, irritating manner possible, by saying, "He is tired of these things: he is afraid of disturbance." Then, the people being naturally excited and angry, the Governor sent word to the Pope that there was excitement, without letting him know why, and had the guards doubled on the posts. The most absurd rumors were circulated among the people that the cannon of St. Angelo were to be pointed on them, &c. But they, with that singular discretion which they show now, instead of rising, as their enemies had hoped, went to ask counsel of their lately appointed Senator, Corsini. He went to the Pope, found him ill, entirely ignorant of what was going on, and much distressed when he heard it. He declared that the people should be satisfied, and, since they had not been allowed to come to him, he would go to them. Accordingly, the next day, though rainy and of a searching cold like that of a Scotch mist, we had all our windows thrown open, and the red and yellow tapestries hung out. He passed through the principal parts of the city, the people throwing themselves on their knees and crying out, "O Holy Father, don't desert us! don't forget us! don't listen to our enemies!" The Pope wept often, and replied, "Fear nothing, my people, my heart is yours." At last, seeing how ill he was, they begged him to go in, and he returned to the Quirinal; the present Tribune of the People, as far as rule in the heart is concerned, [pg 281] Ciceronacchio, following his carriage. I shall give some account of this man in another letter.

For the moment, the difficulties are healed, as they will be whenever the Pope directly shows himself to the people. Then his generous, affectionate heart will always act, and act on them, dissipating the clouds which others have been toiling to darken.

In speaking of the intrigues of these emissaries of the power of darkness, I will mention that there is a report here that they are trying to get an Italian Consul for the United States, and one in the employment of the Jesuits. This rumor seems ridiculous; yet it is true that Dr. Beecher's panic about Catholic influence in the United States is not quite unfounded, and that there is considerable hope of establishing a new dominion there. I hope the United States will appoint no Italian, no Catholic, to a consulship. The representative of the United States should be American; our national character and interests are peculiar, and cannot be fitly represented by a foreigner, unless, like Mr. Ombrossi of Florence, he has passed part of his youth in the United States. It would, indeed, be well if our government paid attention to qualification for the office in the candidate, and not to pretensions founded on partisan service; appointing only men of probity, who would not stain the national honor in the sight of Europe. It would be wise also not to select men entirely ignorant of foreign manners, customs, ways of thinking, or even of any language in which to communicate with foreign society, making the country ridiculous by all sorts of blunders; but 't were pity if a sufficient number of Americans could not be found, who are honest, have some knowledge of Europe and gentlemanly tact, and are able at least to speak French.

To return to the Pope, although the shadow that has fallen on his popularity is in a great measure the work of his enemies, yet there is real cause for it too. His conduct in deposing for a time one of the Censors, about the banners of the 15th of December, his speech to the Council the same day, his extreme displeasure at the sympathy of a few persons with the triumph of the Swiss Diet, because it was a Protestant triumph, and, above all, his speech [pg 282] to the Consistory, so deplorably weak in thought and absolute in manner, show a man less strong against domestic than foreign foes, instigated by a generous, humane heart to advance, but fettered by the prejudices of education, and terribly afraid to be or seem to be less the Pope of Rome, in becoming a reform prince, and father to the fatherless. I insert a passage of this speech, which seems to say that, whenever there shall be collision between the priest and the reformer, the priest shall triumph:—

"Another subject there is which profoundly afflicts and harasses our mind. It is not certainly unknown to you, Venerable Brethren, that many enemies of Catholic truth have, in our times especially, directed their efforts by the desire to place certain monstrous offsprings of opinion on a par with the doctrine of Christ, or to blend them therewith, seeking to propagate more and more that impious system of indifference toward all religion whatever.

"And lately some have been found, dreadful to narrate! who have offered such an insult to our name and Apostolic dignity, as slanderously to represent us participators in their folly, and favorers of that most iniquitous system above named. These have been pleased to infer from, the counsels (certainly not foreign to the sanctity of the Catholic religion) which, in certain affairs pertaining to the civil exercise of the Pontific sway, we had benignly embraced for the increase of public prosperity and good, and also from the pardon bestowed in clemency upon certain persons subject to that sway, in the very beginning of our Pontificate, that we had such benevolent sentiments toward every description of persons as to believe that not only the sons of the Church, but others also, remaining aliens from Catholic unity, are alike in the way of salvation, and may attain eternal life. Words are wanting to us, from horror, to repel this new and atrocious calumny against us. It is true that with intimate affection of heart we love all mankind, but not otherwise than in the charity of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which had perished, who wisheth that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and who sent his disciples through [pg 283] the whole world to preach the Gospel to every creature, declaring that those who should believe and be baptized should be saved, but those who should not believe, should be condemned. Let those therefore who seek salvation come to the pillar and support of the Truth, which is the Church,—let them come, that is, to the true Church of Christ, which possesses in its bishops and the supreme head of all, the Roman Pontiff, a never-interrupted succession of Apostolic authority, and which for nothing has ever been more zealous than to preach, and with all care preserve and defend, the doctrine announced as the mandate of Christ by his Apostles; which Church afterward increased, from the time of the Apostles, in the midst of every species of difficulties, and flourished throughout the whole world, radiant in the splendor of miracles, amplified by the blood of martyrs, ennobled by the virtues of confessors and virgins, corroborated by the testimony and most sapient writings of the fathers,—as it still flourishes throughout all lands, refulgent in perfect unity of the sacraments, of faith, and of holy discipline. We who, though unworthy, preside in this supreme chair of the Apostle Peter, in which Christ our Lord placed the foundation of his Church, have at no time abstained, from any cares or toils to bring, through the grace of Christ himself, those who are in ignorance and error to this sole way of truth and salvation. Let those, whoever they be, that are adverse, remember that heaven and earth shall pass away, but nothing can ever perish of the words of Christ, nor be changed in the doctrine which the Catholic Church received, to guard, defend, and publish, from him.

"Next to this we cannot but speak to you, Venerable Brethren, of the bitterness of sorrow by which we were affected, on seeing that a few days since, in this our fair city, the fortress and centre of the Catholic religion, it proved possible to find some—very few indeed and well-nigh frantic men—who, laying aside the very sense of humanity, and to the extreme disgust and indignation of other citizens of this town, were not withheld, by horror from triumphing openly and publicly over the most lamentable intestine war lately excited among the Helvetic people; which [pg 284] truly fatal war we sorrow over from the depths of our heart, as well considering the blood shed by that nation, the slaughter of brothers, the atrocious, daily recurring, and fatal discords, hatreds, and dissensions (which usually redound among nations in consequence especially of civil wars), as the detriment which we learn the Catholic religion has suffered, and fear it may yet suffer, in consequence of this, and, finally, the deplorable acts of sacrilege committed in the first conflict, which our soul shrinks from narrating."

It is probably on account of these fears of Pius IX. lest he should be a called a Protestant Pope, that the Roman journals thus far, in translating the American Address to the Pope, have not dared to add any comment.

But if the heart, the instincts, of this good man have been beyond his thinking powers, that only shows him the providential agent to work out aims beyond his ken. A wave has been set in motion, which cannot stop till it casts up its freight upon the shore, and if Pius IX. does not suffer himself to be surrounded by dignitaries, and see the signs of the times through the eyes of others,—if he does not suffer the knowledge he had of general society as a simple prelate to become incrusted by the ignorance habitual to princes,—he cannot fail long to be a most important agent in fashioning a new and better era for this beautiful injured land.

I will now give another document, which may be considered as representing the view of what is now passing taken by the democratic party called "Young Italy." Should it in any other way have reached the United States, yet it will not come amiss to have it translated for the Tribune, as many of your readers may not otherwise have a chance of seeing this noble document, one of the milestones in the march of thought. It is a letter to the Most High Pontiff, Pius IX., from Joseph Mazzini.

"London, 8th September, 1847.

"MOST HOLY FATHER,—Permit an Italian, who has studied your every step for some months back with much hopefulness, to [pg 285] address to you, in the midst of the applauses, often far too servile and unworthy of you, which, resound near you, some free and profoundly sincere words. Take to read them some moments from your infinite cares. From a simple individual animated by holy intentions may come, sometimes, a great counsel; and I write to you with so much love, with so much emotion of my whole soul, with so much faith in the destiny of my country, which may be revived by your means, that my thoughts ought to speak truth.

"And first, it is needful, Most Holy Father, that I should say to you somewhat of myself. My name has probably reached your ears, but accompanied by all the calumnies, by all the errors, by all the foolish conjectures, which the police, by system, and many men of my party through want of knowledge or poverty of intellect, have heaped upon it. I am not a subverter, nor a communist, nor a man of blood, nor a hater, nor intolerant, nor exclusive adorer of a system, or of a form imagined by my mind. I adore God, and an idea which seems to me of God,—Italy an angel of moral unity and of progressive civilization for the nations of Europe. Here and everywhere I have written the best I know how against the vices of materialism, of egotism, of reaction, and against the destructive tendencies which contaminate many of our party. If the people should rise in violent attack against the selfishness and bad government of their rulers, I, while rendering homage to the right of the people, shall be among the first to prevent the excesses and the vengeance which long slavery has prepared. I believe profoundly in a religious principle, supreme above all social ordinances; in a divine order, which we ought to seek to realize here on earth; in a law, in a providential design, which we all ought, according to our powers, to study and to promote. I believe in the inspiration of my immortal soul, in the teaching of Humanity, which shouts to me, through the deeds and words of all its saints, incessant progress for all through, the work of all my brothers toward a common moral amelioration, toward the fulfilment of the Divine Law. And in the great history of Humanity I have studied the history [pg 286] of Italy, and have found there Rome twice directress of the world,—first through the Emperors, later through the Popes. I have found there, that every manifestation of Italian life has also been a manifestation of European life; and that always when Italy fell, the moral unity of Europe began to fall apart in analysis, in doubt, in anarchy. I believe in yet another manifestation of the Italian idea; and I believe that another European world ought to be revealed from the Eternal City, that had the Capitol, and has the Vatican. And this faith has not abandoned me ever, through years, poverty, and griefs which God alone knows. In these few words lies all my being, all the secret of my life. I may err in the intellect, but the heart has always remained pure. I have never lied through fear or hope, and I speak to you as I should speak to God beyond the sepulchre.

"I believe you good. There is no man this day, I will not say in Italy, but in all Europe, more powerful than you; you then have, most Holy Father, vast duties. God measures these according to the means which he has granted to his creatures.

"Europe is in a tremendous crisis of doubts and desires. Through the work of time, accelerated by your predecessors of the hierarchy of the Church, faith is dead, Catholicism is lost in despotism; Protestantism is lost in anarchy. Look around you; you will find superstitious and hypocrites, but not believers. The intellect travels in a void. The bad adore calculation, physical good; the good pray and hope; nobody believes. Kings, governments, the ruling classes, combat for a power usurped, illegitimate, since it does not represent the worship of truth, nor disposition to sacrifice one's self for the good of all; the people combat because they suffer, because they would fain take their turn to enjoy; nobody fights for duty, nobody because the war against evil and falsehood is a holy war, the crusade of God. We have no more a heaven; hence we have no more a society.

"Do not deceive yourself, Most Holy Father; this is the present state of Europe.

"But humanity cannot exist without a heaven. The idea of society is only a consequence of the idea of religion. We shall [pg 287] have then, sooner or later, religion and heaven. We shall have these not in the kings and the privileged classes,—their very condition excludes love, the soul of all religions,—but in the people. The spirit from God descends on many gathered together in his name. The people have suffered for ages on the cross, and God will bless them with a faith.

"You can, Most Holy Father, hasten that moment. I will not tell you my individual opinions on the religious development which is to come; these are of little importance. But I will say to you, that, whatever be the destiny of the creeds now existing, you can put yourself at the head of this development. If God wills that such creeds should revive, you can make them revive; if God wills that they should be transformed, that, leaving the foot of the cross, dogma and worship should be purified by rising a step nearer God, the Father and Educator of the world, you can put yourself between the two epochs, and guide the world to the conquest and the practice of religious truth, extirpating a hateful egotism, a barren negation.

"God preserve me from tempting you with ambition; that would be profanation. I call you, in the name of the power which God has granted you, and has not granted without a reason, to fulfil the good, the regenerating European work. I call you, after so many ages of doubt and corruption, to be apostle of Eternal Truth. I call you to make yourself the 'servant of all,' to sacrifice yourself, if needful, so that 'the will of God may be done on the earth as it is in heaven'; to hold yourself ready to glorify God in victory, or to repeat with resignation, if you must fail, the words of Gregory VII.: 'I die in exile, because I have loved justice and hated iniquity.'

"But for this, to fulfil the mission which God confides to you, two things are needful,—to be a believer, and to unify Italy. Without the first, you will fall in the middle of the way, abandoned by God and by men; without the second, you will not have the lever with which only you can effect great, holy, and durable things.

"Be a believer; abhor to be king, politician, statesman. Make [pg 288] no compromise with error; do not contaminate yourself with diplomacy, make no compact with fear, with expediency, with the false doctrines of a legality, which is merely a falsehood invented when faith failed. Take no counsel except from God, from the inspirations of your own heart, and from the imperious necessity of rebuilding a temple to truth, to justice, to faith. Self-collected, in enthusiasm of love for humanity, and apart from every human regard, ask of God that he will teach you the way; then enter upon it, with the faith of a conqueror on your brow, with the irrevocable decision of the martyr in your heart; look neither to the right hand nor the left, but straight before you, and up to heaven. Of every object that meets you on the way, ask of yourself: 'Is this just or unjust, true or false, law of man or law of God?' Proclaim aloud the result of your examination, and act accordingly. Do not say to yourself: 'If I speak and work in such a way, the princes of the earth will disagree; the ambassadors will present notes and protests!' What are the quarrels of selfishness in princes, or their notes, before a syllable of the eternal Evangelists of God? They have had importance till now, because, though phantoms, they had nothing to oppose them but phantoms; oppose to them the reality of a man who sees the Divine view, unknown to them, of human affairs, of an immortal soul conscious of a high mission, and these will vanish before you as vapors accumulated in darkness before the sun which rises in the east. Do not let yourself be affrighted by intrigues; the creature who fulfils a duty belongs not to men, but to God. God will protect you; God will spread around you such a halo of love, that neither the perfidy of men irreparably lost, nor the suggestions of hell, can break through it. Give to the world a spectacle new, unique: you will have results new, not to be foreseen by human calculation. Announce an era; declare that Humanity is sacred, and a daughter of God; that all who violate her rights to progress, to association, are on the way of error; that in God is the source of every government; that those who are best by intellect and heart, by genius and virtue, must be the guides of the people. Bless those who suffer and combat; blame, [pg 289] reprove, those who cause suffering, without regard to the name they bear, the rank that invests them. The people will adore in you the best interpreter of the Divine design, and your conscience will give you rest, strength, and ineffable comfort.

"Unify Italy, your country. For this you have no need to work, but to bless Him who works through you and in your name. Gather round you those who best represent the national party. Do not beg alliances with princes. Continue to seek the alliance of our own people; say, 'The unity of Italy ought to be a fact of the nineteenth century,' and it will suffice; we shall work for you. Leave our pens free; leave free the circulation of ideas in what regards this point, vital for us, of the national unity. Treat the Austrian government, even when it no longer menaces your territory, with the reserve of one who knows that it governs by usurpation in Italy and elsewhere; combat it with words of a just man, wherever it contrives oppressions and violations of the rights of others out of Italy. Require, in the name of the God of Peace, the Jesuits allied with Austria in Switzerland to withdraw from that country, where their presence prepares an inevitable and speedy effusion of the blood of the citizens. Give a word of sympathy which shall become public to the first Pole of Galicia who comes into your presence. Show us, in fine, by some fact, that you intend not only to improve the physical condition of your own few subjects, but that you embrace in your love the twenty-four millions of Italians, your brothers; that you believe them called by God to unite in family unity under one and the same compact; that you would bless the national banner, wherever it should be raised by pure and incontaminate hands; and leave the rest to us. We will cause to rise around you a nation over whose free and popular development you, living, shall preside. We will found a government unique in Europe, which shall destroy the absurd divorce between spiritual and temporal power, and in which you shall be chosen to represent the principle of which the men chosen by the nation will make the application. We shall know how to translate into a potent fact the instinct which palpitates through all Italy. We will excite for you active support [pg 290] among the nations of Europe; we will find you friends even in the ranks of Austria; we alone, because we alone have unity of design, believe in the truth of our principle, and have never betrayed it. Do not fear excesses from the people once entered upon this way; the people only commit excesses when left to their own impulses without any guide whom they respect. Do not pause before the idea of becoming a cause of war. War exists, everywhere, open or latent, but near breaking out, inevitable; nor can human power prevent it. Nor do I, it must be said frankly, Most Holy Father, address to you these words because I doubt in the least of our destiny, or because I believe you the sole, the indispensable means of the enterprise. The unity of Italy is a work of God,—a part of the design of Providence and of all, even of those who show themselves most satisfied with local improvements, and who, less sincere than I, wish to make them means of attaining their own aims. It will be fulfilled, with you or without you. But I address you, because I believe you worthy to take the initiative in a work so vast; because your putting yourself at the head of it would much abridge the road and diminish the dangers, the injury, the blood; because with you the conflict would assume a religious aspect, and be freed from many dangers of reaction and civil errors; because might be attained at once under your banner a political result and a vast moral result; because the revival of Italy under the ægis of a religious idea, of a standard, not of rights, but of duties, would leave behind all the revolutions of other countries, and place her immediately at the head of European progress; because it is in your power to cause that God and the people, terms too often fatally disjoined, should meet at once in beautiful and holy harmony, to direct the fate of nations.

"If I could be near you, I would invoke from God power to convince you, by gesture, by accent, by tears; now I can only confide to the paper the cold corpse, as it were, of my thought; nor can I ever have the certainty that you have read, and meditated a moment what I write. But I feel an imperious necessity of fulfilling this duty toward Italy and you, and, whatsoever you [pg 291] may think of it, I shall find myself more in peace with my conscience for having thus addressed you.

"Believe, Most Holy Father, in the feelings of veneration and of high hope which professes for you your most devoted

"JOSEPH MAZZINI."

Whatever may be the impression of the reader as to the ideas and propositions contained in this document,K I think he cannot fail to be struck with its simple nobleness, its fervent truth.

A thousand petty interruptions have prevented my completing this letter, till, now the hour of closing the mail for the steamer is so near, I shall not have time to look over it, either to see what I have written or make slight corrections. However, I suppose it represents the feelings of the last few days, and shows that, without having lost any of my confidence in the Italian movement, the office of the Pope in promoting it has shown narrower limits, and sooner than I had expected.

This does not at all weaken my personal feeling toward this excellent man, whose heart I have seen in his face, and can never doubt. It was necessary to be a great thinker, a great genius, to compete with the difficulties of his position. I never supposed he was that; I am only disappointed that his good heart has not carried him on a little farther. With regard to the reception of the American address, it is only the Roman press that is so timid; the private expressions of pleasure have been very warm; the Italians say, "The Americans are indeed our brothers." It remains to be seen, when Pius IX. receives it, whether the man, the reforming prince, or the Pope is uppermost at that moment.

Footnote K: (return)

This letter was printed in Paris to be circulated in Italy. A prefatory note signed by a friend of Mazzini's, states that the original was known to have reached the hands of the Pope. The hope is expressed that the publication of this letter, though without the authority of its writer, will yet not displease him, as those who are deceived as to his plans and motives will thus learn his true purposes and feelings, and the letter will one day aid the historian who seeks to know what were the opinions and hopes of the entire people of Italy.—ED.

[pg 292]

 

LETTER XXII.

The Ceremonies succeeding Epiphany.—The Death of Torlonia, and its predisposing Causes.—Funeral Honors.—A striking Contrast in the Decease of the Cardinal Prince Massimo.—The Pope and his Officers of State.—The Cardinal Bofondi.—Sympathetic Excitements through Italy.—Sicily in full Insurrection.—The King of Sicily, Prince Metternich, and Louis Philippe.—A Rumor as to the Parentage of the King of the French.—Rome: Ave Maria.—Life in the Eternal City.—The Bambino.—Catholicism: its Gifts and its Workings.—The Church of Ara Coeli.—Exhibition of the Bambino.—Bygone Superstition and Living Reality.—The Soul of Catholicism has fled.—Reflections.—Exhibition by the College of the Propaganda.—Exercises in all Languages.—Disturbances and their Causes.—Thoughts.—Blessing Animals.—Accounts from Pavia.—Austria.—The King of Naples.—Rumors from other Parts of Europe.—France.—Guizot.—Appearances and Apprehensions.

Rome, January, 1848.

I think I closed my last letter, without having had time to speak of the ceremonies that precede and follow Epiphany. This month, no day, scarcely an hour, has passed unmarked by some showy spectacle or some exciting piece of news.

On the last day of the year died Don Carlo Torlonia, brother of the banker, a man greatly beloved and regretted. The public felt this event the more that its proximate cause was an attack made upon his brother's house by Paradisi, now imprisoned in the Castle of St. Angelo, pending a law process for proof of his accusations. Don Carlo had been ill before, and the painful agitation caused by these circumstances decided his fate. The public had been by no means displeased at this inquiry into the conduct of Don Alessandro Torlonia, believing that his assumed munificence is, in this case, literally a robbery of Peter to pay Paul, and that all he gives to Rome is taken from Rome. But I [pg 293] sympathized no less with the affectionate indignation of his brother, too good a man to be made the confidant of wrong, or have eyes for it, if such exist.

Thus, in the poetical justice which does not fail to be done in the prose narrative of life, while men hastened, the moment a cry was raised against Don Alessandro, to echo it back with all kinds of imputations both on himself and his employees, every man held his breath, and many wept, when the mortal remains of Don Carlo passed; feeling that in him was lost a benefactor, a brother, a simple, just man.

Don Carlo was a Knight of Malta; yet with him the celibate life had not hardened the heart, but only left it free on all sides to general love. Not less than half a dozen pompous funerals were given in his honor, by his relatives, the brotherhoods to which he belonged, and the battalion of the Civic Guard of which he was commander-in-chief. But in his own house the body lay in no other state than that of a simple Franciscan, the order to which he first belonged, and whose vow he had kept through half a century, by giving all he had for the good of others. He lay on the ground in the plain dark robe and cowl, no unfit subject for a modern picture of little angels descending to shower lilies on a good man's corpse. The long files of armed men, the rich coaches, and liveried retinues of the princes, were little observed, in comparison with more than a hundred orphan girls whom his liberality had sustained, and who followed the bier in mourning robes and long white veils, spirit-like, in the dark night. The trumpet's wail, and soft, melancholy music from the bands, broke at times the roll of the muffled drum; the hymns of the Church were chanted, and volleys of musketry discharged, in honor of the departed; but much more musical was the whisper in which the crowd, as passed his mortal frame, told anecdotes of his good deeds.

I do not know when I have passed more consolatory moments than in the streets one evening during this pomp and picturesque show,—for once not empty of all meaning as to the present time, recognizing that good which remains in the human [pg 294] being, ineradicable by all ill, and promises that our poor, injured nature shall rise, and bloom again, from present corruption to immortal purity. If Don Carlo had been a thinker,—a man of strong intellect,—he might have devised means of using his money to more radical advantage than simply to give it in alms; he had only a kind human heart, but from that heart distilled a balm which made all men bless it, happy in finding cause to bless.

As in the moral little books with which our nurseries are entertained, followed another death in violent contrast. One of those whom the new arrangements deprived of power and the means of unjust gain was the Cardinal Prince Massimo, a man a little younger than Don Carlo, but who had passed his forty years in a very different manner. He remonstrated; the Pope was firm, and, at last, is said to have answered with sharp reproof for the past. The Cardinal contained himself in the audience, but, going out, literally suffocated with the rage he had suppressed. The bad blood his bad heart had been so long making rushed to his head, and he died on his return home. Men laughed, and proposed that all the widows he had deprived of a maintenance should combine to follow his bier. It was said boys hissed as that bier passed. Now, a splendid suit of lace being for sale in a shop of the Corso, everybody says: "Have you been to look at the lace of Cardinal Massimo, who died of rage, because he could no longer devour the public goods?" And this is the last echo of his requiem.

The Pope is anxious to have at least well-intentioned men in places of power. Men of much ability, it would seem, are not to be had. His last prime minister was a man said to have energy, good dispositions, but no thinking power. The Cardinal Bofondi, whom he has taken now, is said to be a man of scarce any ability; there being few among the new Councillors the public can name as fitted for important trust. In consolation, we must remember that the Chancellor Oxenstiern found nothing more worthy of remark to show his son, than by how little wisdom the world could be governed. We must hope these men [pg 295] of straw will serve as thatch to keep out the rain, and not be exposed to the assaults of a devouring flame.

Yet that hour may not be distant. The disturbances of the 1st of January here were answered by similar excitements in Leghorn and Genoa, produced by the same hidden and malignant foe. At the same time, the Austrian government in Milan organized an attempt to rouse the people to revolt, with a view to arrests, and other measures calculated to stifle the spirit of independence they know to be latent there. In this iniquitous attempt they murdered eighty persons; yet the citizens, on their guard, refused them the desired means of ruin, and they were forced to retractions as impudently vile as their attempts had been. The Viceroy proclaimed that "he hoped the people would confide in him as he did in them"; and no doubt they will. At Leghorn and Genoa, the wiles of the foe were baffled by the wisdom of the popular leaders, as I trust they always will be; but it is needful daily to expect these nets laid in the path of the unwary.

Sicily is in full insurrection; and it is reported Naples, but this is not sure. There was a report, day before yesterday, that the poor, stupid king was already here, and had taken cheap chambers at the Hotel d'Allemagne, as, indeed, it is said he has always a turn for economy, when he cannot live at the expense of his suffering people. Day before yesterday, every carriage that the people saw with a stupid-looking man in it they did not know, they looked to see if it was not the royal runaway. But it was their wish was father to that thought, and it has not as yet taken body as fact. In like manner they report this week the death of Prince Metternich; but I believe it is not sure he is dead yet, only dying. With him passes one great embodiment of ill to Europe. As for Louis Philippe, he seems reserved to give the world daily more signal proofs of his base apostasy to the cause that placed him on the throne, and that heartless selfishness, of which his face alone bears witness to any one that has a mind to read it. How the French nation could look upon that face, while yet flushed with the hopes of the Three Days, and put [pg 296] him on the throne as representative of those hopes, I cannot conceive. There is a story current in Italy, that he is really the child of a man first a barber, afterwards a police-officer, and was substituted at nurse for the true heir of Orleans; and the vulgarity of form in his body of limbs, power of endurance, greed of gain, and hard, cunning intellect, so unlike all traits of the weak, but more "genteel" Bourbon race, might well lend plausibility to such a fable.

But to return to Rome, where I hear the Ave Maria just ringing. By the way, nobody pauses, nobody thinks, nobody prays.

"Ave Maria! 't is the hour of prayer,

Ave Maria! 't is the hour of love," &c.,

is but a figment of the poet's fancy.

To return to Rome: what a Rome! the fortieth day of rain, and damp, and abominable reeking odors, such as blessed cities swept by the sea-breeze—bitter sometimes, yet indeed a friend—never know. It has been dark all day, though the lamp has only been lit half an hour. The music of the day has been, first the atrocious arias, which last in the Corso till near noon, though certainly less in virulence on rainy days. Then came the wicked organ-grinder, who, apart from the horror of the noise, grinds exactly the same obsolete abominations as at home or in England,—the Copenhagen Waltz, "Home, sweet home," and all that! The cruel chance that both an English my-lady and a Councillor from one of the provinces live opposite, keeps him constantly before my window, hoping baiocchi. Within, the three pet dogs of my landlady, bereft of their walk, unable to employ their miserable legs and eyes, exercise themselves by a continual barking, which is answered by all the dogs in the neighborhood. An urchin returning from the laundress, delighted with the symphony, lays down his white bundle in the gutter, seats himself on the curb-stone, and attempts an imitation of the music of cats as a tribute to the concert. The door-bell rings. Chi è? "Who is it?" cries the handmaid, with unweariable senselessness, [pg 297] as if any one would answer, Rogue, or Enemy, instead of the traditionary Amico, Friend. Can it be, perchance, a letter, news of home, or some of the many friends who have neglected so long to write, or some ray of hope to break the clouds of the difficult Future? Far from it. Enter a man poisoning me at once with the smell of the worst possible cigars, not to be driven out, insisting I shall look upon frightful, ill-cut cameos, and worse-designed mosaics, made by some friend of his, who works in a chamber and will sell so cheap. Man of ill-odors and meanest smile! I am no Countess to be fooled by you. For dogs they were not even—dog-cheap.

A faint and misty gleam of sun greeted the day on which there was the feast to the Bambino, the most venerated doll of Rome. This is the famous image of the infant Jesus, reputed to be made of wood from a tree of Palestine, and which, being taken away from its present abode,—the church of Ara Coeli,—returned by itself, making the bells ring as it sought admittance at the door. It is this which is carried in extreme cases to the bedside of the sick. It has received more splendid gifts than any other idol. An orphan by my side, now struggling with difficulties, showed me on its breast a splendid jewel, which a doting grandmother thought more likely to benefit her soul if given to the Bambino, than if turned into money to give her grandchildren education and prospects in life. The same old lady left her vineyard, not to these children, but to her confessor, a well-endowed Monsignor, who occasionally asks this youth, his godson, to dinner! Children so placed are not quite such devotees to Catholicism as the new proselytes of America;—they are not so much patted on the head, and things do not show to them under quite the same silver veil.

The church of Ara Coeli is on or near the site of the temple of Capitoline Jove, which certainly saw nothing more idolatrous than these ceremonies. For about a week the Bambino is exhibited in an illuminated chapel, in the arms of a splendidly dressed Madonna doll. Behind, a transparency represents the shepherds, by moonlight, at the time the birth was announced, [pg 298] and, above, God the Father, with many angels hailing the event. A pretty part of this exhibition, which I was not so fortunate as to hit upon, though I went twice on purpose, is the children making little speeches in honor of the occasion. Many readers will remember some account of this in Andersen's "Improvvisatore."

The last time I went was the grand feast in honor of the Bambino. The church was entirely full, mostly with Contadini and the poorer people, absorbed in their devotions: one man near me never raised his head or stirred from his knees to see anything; he seemed in an anguish of prayer, either from repentance or anxiety. I wished I could have hoped the ugly little doll could do Mm any good. The noble stair which descends from the great door of this church to the foot of the Capitol,—a stair made from fragments of the old imperial time,—was flooded with people; the street below was a rapid river also, whose waves were men. The ceremonies began with splendid music from the organ, pealing sweetly long and repeated invocations. As if answering to this call, the world came in, many dignitaries, the Conservatori, (I think conservatives are the same everywhere, official or no,) and did homage to the image; then men in white and gold, with the candles they are so fond here of burning by daylight, as if the poorest artificial were better than the greatest natural light, uplifted high above themselves the baby, with its gilded robes and crown, and made twice the tour of the church, passing twice the column labelled "From the Home of Augustus," while the band played—what?—the Hymn to Pius IX. and "Sons of Rome, awake!" Never was a crueller comment upon the irreconcilableness of these two things. Rome seeks to reconcile reform and priestcraft.

But her eyes are shut, that they see not. O awake indeed, Romans! and you will see that the Christ who is to save men is no wooden dingy effigy of bygone superstitions, but such as Art has seen him in your better mood,—a Child, living, full of love, prophetic of a boundless future,—a Man acquainted with all sorrows that rend the heart of all, and ever loving man with sympathy [pg 299] and faith death could not quench,—that Christ lives and may be sought; burn your doll of wood.

How any one can remain a Catholic—I mean who has ever been aroused to think, and is not biassed by the partialities of childish years—after seeing Catholicism here in Italy, I cannot conceive. There was once a soul in the religion while the blood of its martyrs was yet fresh upon the ground, but that soul was always too much encumbered with the remains of pagan habits and customs: that soul is now quite fled elsewhere, and in the splendid catafalco, watched by so many white and red-robed snuff-taking, sly-eyed men, would they let it be opened, nothing would be found but bones!

Then the College for propagating all this, the most venerable Propaganda, has given its exhibition in honor of the Magi, wise men of the East who came to Christ. I was there one day. In conformity with the general spirit of Rome,—strangely inconsistent in a country where the Madonna is far more frequently and devoutly worshipped than God or Christ, in a city where at least as many female saints and martyrs are venerated as male,—there was no good place for women to sit. All the good seats were for the men in the area below, but in the gallery windows, and from the organ-loft, a few women were allowed to peep at what was going on. I was one of these exceptional characters. The exercises were in all the different languages under the sun. It would have been exceedingly interesting to hear them, one after the other, each in its peculiar cadence and inflection, but much of the individual expression was taken away by that general false academic tone which is sure to pervade such exhibitions where young men speak who have as yet nothing to say. It would have been different, indeed, if we could have heard natives of all those countries, who were animated by real feelings, real wants. Still it was interesting, particularly the language and music of Kurdistan, and the full-grown beauty of the Greek after the ruder dialects. Among those who appeared to the best advantage were several blacks, and the majesty of the Latin hexameters was confided to a full-blooded Guinea negro, who acquitted himself better than [pg 300] any other I heard. I observed, too, the perfectly gentlemanly appearance of these young men, and that they had nothing of that Cuffy swagger by which those freed from a servile state try to cover a painful consciousness of their position in our country. Their air was self-possessed, quiet and free beyond that of most of the whites.

January 22, 2 o'clock, P.M.

Pour, pour, pour again, dark as night,—many people coming in to see me because they don't know what to do with themselves. I am very glad to see them for the same reason; this atmosphere is so heavy, I seem to carry the weight of the world on my head and feel unfitted for every exertion. As to eating, that is a bygone thing; wine, coffee, meat, I have resigned; vegetables are few and hard to have, except horrible cabbage, in which the Romans delight. A little rice still remains, which I take with pleasure, remembering it growing in the rich fields of Lombardy, so green and full of glorious light. That light fell still more beautiful on the tall plantations of hemp, but it is dangerous just at present to think of what is made from hemp.

This week all the animals are being blessed,L and they get a gratuitous baptism, too, the while. The lambs one morning were taken out to the church of St. Agnes for this purpose. The little companion of my travels, if he sees this letter, will remember how often we saw her with her lamb in pictures. The horses are being blessed by St. Antonio, and under his harmonizing influence are afterward driven through the city, twelve and even twenty in hand. They are harnessed into light wagons, and men run beside them to guard against accident, in case the good influence of the Saint should fail.

This morning came the details of infamous attempts by the Austrian police to exasperate the students of Pavia. The way is to send persons to smoke cigars in forbidden places, who insult those who are obliged to tell them to desist. These traps seem particularly shocking when laid for fiery and sensitive young men. [pg 301] They succeeded: the students were lured, into combat, and a number left dead and wounded on both sides. The University is shut up; the inhabitants of Pavia and Milan have put on mourning; even at the theatre they wear it. The Milanese will not walk in that quarter where the blood of their fellow-citizens has been so wantonly shed. They have demanded a legal investigation of the conduct of the officials.

At Piacenza similar attempts have been made to excite the Italians, by smoking in their faces, and crying, "Long live the Emperor!" It is a worthy homage to pay to the Austrian crown,—this offering of cigars and blood.

"O this offence is rank; it smells to Heaven."

This morning authentic news is received from Naples. The king, when assured by his own brother that Sicily was in a state of irresistible revolt, and that even the women quelled the troops,—showering on them stones, furniture, boiling oil, such means of warfare as the household may easily furnish to a thoughtful matron,—had, first, a stroke of apoplexy, from, which the loss of a good deal of bad blood relieved him. His mind apparently having become clearer thereby, he has offered his subjects an amnesty and terms of reform, which, it is hoped, will arrive before his troops have begun to bombard the cities in obedience to earlier orders.

Comes also to-day the news that the French Chamber of Peers propose an Address to the King, echoing back all the falsehoods of his speech, including those upon reform, and the enormous one that "the peace of Europe is now assured"; but that some members have worthily opposed this address, and spoken truth in an honorable manner.

Also, that the infamous sacrifice of the poor little queen of Spain puts on more tragic colors; that it is pretended she has epilepsy, and she is to be made to renounce the throne, which, indeed, has been a terrific curse to her. And Heaven and Earth have looked calmly on, while the king of France has managed all this with the most unnatural of mothers.

[pg 302]

January 27.

This morning comes the plan of the Address of the Chamber of Deputies to the King: it contains some passages that are keenest satire upon him, as also some remarks which have been made, some words of truth spoken in the Chamber of Peers, that must have given him some twinges of nervous shame as he read. M. Guizot's speech on the affairs of Switzerland shows his usual shabbiness and falsehood. Surely never prime minister stood in so mean a position as he: one like Metternich seems noble and manly in comparison; for if there is a cruel, atheistical, treacherous policy, there needs not at least continual evasion to avoid declaring in words what is so glaringly manifest in fact.

There is news that the revolution has now broken out in Naples; that neither Sicilians nor Neapolitans will trust the king, but demand his abdication; and that his bad demon, Coclo, has fled, carrying two hundred thousand ducats of gold. But in particulars this news is not yet sure, though, no doubt, there is truth, at the bottom.

Aggressions on the part of the Austrians continue in the North. The advocates Tommaso and Manin (a light thus reflected on the name of the last Doge), having dared to declare formally the necessity of reform, are thrown into prison. Every day the cloud swells, and the next fortnight is likely to bring important tidings.

Footnote L: (return)

One of Rome's singular customs.—ED.

[pg 303]

 

LETTER XXIII.

Unpleasantness of a Roman Winter.—Progress of Events in Europe, and their Effect upon Italy.—The Carnival.—Rain interrupts the Gayety.—Rejoicings for the Revolutions of France and Austria.—Transports of the People.—Oblations to the Cause of Liberty.—Castle Fusano.—The Weather, Gladsomeness of Nature, and the Pleasure of Thought.

Rome, March 29, 1848.

It is long since I have written. My health entirely gave way beneath the Roman winter. The rain was constant, commonly falling in torrents from the 16th of December to the 19th of March. Nothing could surpass the dirt, the gloom, the desolation, of Rome. Let no one fancy he has seen her who comes here only in the winter. It is an immense mistake to do so. I cannot sufficiently rejoice that I did not first see Italy in the winter.

The climate of Rome at this time of extreme damp I have found equally exasperating and weakening. I have had constant nervous headache without strength to bear it, nightly fever, want of appetite. Some constitutions bear it better, but the complaint of weakness and extreme dejection of spirits is general among foreigners in the wet season. The English say they become acclimated in two or three years, and cease to suffer, though never so strong as at home.

Now this long dark dream—to me the most idle and most suffering season of my life—seems past. The Italian heavens wear again their deep blue; the sun shines gloriously; the melancholy lustres are stealing again over the Campagna, and hundreds of larks sing unwearied above its ruins.

Nature seems in sympathy with the great events that are transpiring,—with the emotions which are swelling the hearts of men. [pg 304] The morning sun is greeted by the trumpets of the Roman legions marching out once more, now not to oppress but to defend. The stars look down on their jubilees over the good news which nightly reaches them from their brothers of Lombardy. This week has been one of nobler, sweeter feeling, of a better hope and faith, than Rome in her greatest days ever knew. How much has happened since I wrote! First, the victorious resistance of Sicily and the revolution of Naples. This has led us yet only to half-measures, but even these have been of great use to the progress of Italy. The Neapolitans will probably have to get rid at last of the stupid crowned head who is at present their puppet; but their bearing with him has led to the wiser sovereigns granting these constitutions, which, if eventually inadequate to the wants of Italy, will be so useful, are so needed, to educate her to seek better, completer forms of administration.

In the midst of all this serious work came the play of Carnival, in which there was much less interest felt than usual, but enough to dazzle and captivate a stranger. One thing, however, has been omitted in the description of the Roman Carnival; i.e. that it rains every day. Almost every day came on violent rain, just as the tide of gay masks was fairly engaged in the Corso. This would have been well worth bearing once or twice, for the sake of seeing the admirable good humor of this people. Those who had laid out all their savings in the gayest, thinnest dresses, on carriages and chairs for the Corso, found themselves suddenly drenched, their finery spoiled, and obliged to ride and sit shivering all the afternoon. But they never murmured, never scolded, never stopped throwing their flowers. Their strength of constitution is wonderful. While I, in my shawl and boa, was coughing at the open window from the moment I inhaled the wet sepulchral air, the servant-girls of the house had taken off their woollen gowns, and, arrayed in white muslins and roses, sat in the drenched street beneath the drenching rain, quite happy, and have suffered nothing in consequence.

The Romans renounced the Moccoletti, ostensibly as an expression of sympathy for the sufferings of the Milanese, but really [pg 305] because, at that time, there was great disturbance about the Jesuits, and the government feared that difficulties would arise in the excitement of the evening. But, since, we have had this entertainment in honor of the revolutions of France and Austria, and nothing could be more beautiful. The fun usually consists in all the people blowing one another's lights out. We had not this; all the little tapers were left to blaze, and the long Corso swarmed with tall fire-flies. Lights crept out over the surface of all the houses, and such merry little twinkling lights, laughing and flickering with each slightest movement of those who held them! Up and down the Corso they twinkled, they swarmed, they streamed, while a surge of gay triumphant sound ebbed and flowed beneath that glittering surface. Here and there danced men carrying aloft moccoli, and clanking chains, emblem of the tyrannic power now vanquished by the people;—the people, sweet and noble, who, in the intoxication of their joy, were guilty of no rude or unkindly word or act, and who, no signal being given as usual for the termination of their diversion, closed, of their own accord and with one consent, singing the hymns for Pio, by nine o'clock, and retired peacefully to their homes, to dream of hopes they yet scarce understand.

This happened last week. The news of the dethronement of Louis Philippe reached us just after the close of the Carnival. It was just a year from my leaving Paris. I did not think, as I looked with such disgust on the empire of sham he had established in France, and saw the soul of the people imprisoned and held fast as in an iron vice, that it would burst its chains so soon. Whatever be the result, France has done gloriously; she has declared that she will not be satisfied with pretexts while there are facts in the world,—that to stop her march is a vain attempt, though the onward path be dangerous and difficult. It is vain to cry, Peace! peace! when there is no peace. The news from France, in these days, sounds ominous, though still vague. It would appear that the political is being merged in the social struggle: it is well. Whatever blood is to be shed, whatever altars cast down, those tremendous problems MUST be solved, whatever be the [pg 306] cost! That cost cannot fail to break many a bank, many a heart, in Europe, before the good can bud again out of a mighty corruption. To you, people of America, it may perhaps be given to look on and learn in time for a preventive wisdom. You may learn the real meaning of the words FRATERNITY, EQUALITY: you may, despite the apes of the past who strive to tutor you, learn the needs of a true democracy. You may in time learn to reverence, learn to guard, the true aristocracy of a nation, the only really nobles,—the LABORING CLASSES.

And Metternich, too, is crushed; the seed of the woman has had his foot on the serpent. I have seen the Austrian arms dragged through the streets of Rome and burned in the Piazza del Popolo. The Italians embraced one another, and cried, Miracolo! Providenza! the modern Tribune Ciceronacchio fed the flame with faggots; Adam Mickiewicz, the great poet of Poland, long exiled from his country or the hopes of a country, looked on, while Polish women, exiled too, or who perhaps, like one nun who is here, had been daily scourged by the orders of a tyrant, brought little pieces that had been scattered in the street and threw them into the flames,—an offering received by the Italians with loud plaudits. It was a transport of the people, who found no way to vent their joy, but the symbol, the poesy, natural to the Italian mind. The ever-too-wise "upper classes" regret it, and the Germans choose to resent it as an insult to Germany; but it was nothing of the kind; the insult was to the prisons of Spielberg, to those who commanded the massacres of Milan,—a base tyranny little congenial to the native German heart, as the true Germans of Germany are at this moment showing by their resolves, by their struggles.

When the double-headed eagle was pulled down from above the lofty portal of the Palazzo di Venezia, the people placed there in its stead one of white and gold, inscribed with the name ALTA ITALIA, and quick upon the emblem followed the news that Milan was fighting against her tyrants,—that Venice had driven them out and freed from their prisons the courageous Protestants in favor of truth, Tommaso and Manin,—that Manin, [pg 307] descendant of the last Doge, had raised the republican banner on the Place St. Mark,—and that Modena, that Parma, were driving out the unfeeling and imbecile creatures who had mocked Heaven and man by the pretence of government there.

With indescribable rapture these tidings were received in Rome. Men were seen dancing, women weeping with joy along the street. The youth rushed to enroll themselves in regiments to go to the frontier. In the Colosseum their names were received. Father Gavazzi, a truly patriotic monk, gave them the cross to carry on a new, a better, because defensive, crusade. Sterbini, long exiled, addressed them. He said: "Romans, do you wish to go; do you wish to go with all your hearts? If so, you may, and those who do not wish to go themselves may give money. To those who will go, the government gives bread and fifteen baiocchi a day." The people cried: "We wish to go, but we do not wish so much; the government is very poor; we can live on a paul a day." The princes answered by giving, one sixty thousand, others twenty, fifteen, ten thousand dollars. The people responded by giving at the benches which are opened in the piazzas literally everything; street-pedlers gave the gains of each day; women gave every ornament,—from the splendid necklace and bracelet down to the poorest bit of coral; servant-girls gave five pauls, two pauls, even half a paul, if they had no more. A man all in rags gave two pauls. "It is," said he, "all I have." "Then," said Torlonia, "take from me this dollar." The man of rags thanked him warmly, and handed that also to the bench, which refused to receive it. "No! that must stay with you," shouted all present. These are the people whom the traveller accuses of being unable to rise above selfish considerations;—a nation rich and glorious by nature, capable, like all nations, all men, of being degraded by slavery, capable, as are few nations, few men, of kindling into pure flame at the touch of a ray from the Sun of Truth, of Life.

The two or three days that followed, the troops were marching about by detachments, followed always by the people, to the Ponte Molle, often farther. The women wept; for the habits of the Romans are so domestic, that it seemed a great thing to have [pg 308] their sons and lovers gone even for a few months. The English—or at least those of the illiberal, bristling nature too often met here, which casts out its porcupine quills against everything like enthusiasm (of the more generous Saxon blood I know some noble examples)—laughed at all this. They have said that this people would not fight; when the Sicilians, men and women, did so nobly, they said: "O, the Sicilians are quite unlike the Italians; you will see, when the struggle comes on in Lombardy, they cannot resist the Austrian force a moment." I said: "That force is only physical; do not you think a sentiment can sustain them?" They replied: "All stuff and poetry; it will fade the moment their blood flows." When the news came that the Milanese, men and women, fight as the Sicilians did, they said: "Well, the Lombards are a better race, but these Romans are good for nothing. It is a farce for a Roman to try to walk even; they never walk a mile; they will not be able to support the first day's march of thirty miles, and not have their usual minéstra to eat either." Now the troops were not willing to wait for the government to make the necessary arrangements for their march, so at the first night's station—Monterosi—they did not find food or bedding; yet the second night, at Civita Castellana, they were so well alive as to remain dancing and vivaing Pio Nono in the piazza till after midnight. No, Gentlemen, soul is not quite nothing, if matter be a clog upon its transports.

The Americans show a better, warmer feeling than they did; the meeting in New York was of use in instructing the Americans abroad! The dinner given here on Washington's birthday was marked by fine expressions of sentiment, and a display of talent unusual on such occasions. There was a poem from Mr. Story of Boston, which gave great pleasure; a speech by Mr. Hillard, said to be very good, and one by Rev. Mr. Hedge of Bangor, exceedingly admired for the felicity of thought and image, and the finished beauty of style.

Next week we shall have more news, and I shall try to write and mention also some interesting things want of time obliges me to omit in this letter.

[pg 309]

April 1.

Yesterday I passed at Ostia and Castle Fusano. A million birds sang; the woods teemed with blossoms; the sod grew green hourly over the graves of the mighty Past; the surf rushed in on a fair shore; the Tiber majestically retreated to carry inland her share from the treasures of the deep; the sea-breezes burnt my face, but revived my heart. I felt the calm of thought, the sublime hopes of the future, nature, man,—so great, though so little,—so dear, though incomplete. Returning to Rome, I find the news pronounced official, that the viceroy Ranieri has capitulated at Verona; that Italy is free, independent, and one. I trust this will prove no April-foolery, no premature news; it seems too good, too speedy a realization of hope, to have come on earth, and can only be answered in the words of the proclamation made yesterday by Pius IX.:—

"The events which these two months past have seen rush after one another in rapid succession, are no human work. Woe to him who, in this wind, which shakes and tears up alike the lofty cedars and humble shrubs, hears not the voice of God! Woe to human pride, if to the fault or merit of any man whatsoever it refer these wonderful changes, instead of adoring the mysterious designs of Providence."

[pg 310]

 

LETTER XXIV.

Affairs in Italy.—The Provisional Government of Milan.—Address to the German Nation.—Brotherhood, and the Independence of Italy.—The Provisional Government to the Nations subject to the Rule of the House of Austria.—Reflections on these Movements.—Lamartine.—Beranger.—Mickiewicz in Florence: Enthusiastic Reception: styled the Dante of Poland: his Address before the Florentines.—Exiles returning.—Mazzini.—The Position of Pius IX.—His Dereliction from the Cause of Freedom and of Progress.—The Affair of the Jesuits.—His Course in various Matters.—Language of the People.—The Work begun by Napoleon virtually finished.—The Loss of Pius IX. for the Moment a great one.—The Responsibility of Events lying wholly with the People.—Hopes and Prospects of the Future.

Rome, April 19, 1848.

In closing my last, I hoped to have some decisive intelligence to impart by this time, as to the fortunes of Italy. But though everything, so far, turns in her favor, there has been no decisive battle, no final stroke. It pleases me much, as the news comes from day to day, that I passed so leisurely last summer over that part of Lombardy now occupied by the opposing forces, that I have in my mind the faces both of the Lombard and Austrian leaders. A number of the present members of the Provisional Government of Milan I knew while there; they are men of twenty-eight and thirty, much more advanced in thought than the Moderates of Rome, Naples, Tuscany, who are too much fettered with a bygone state of things, and not on a par in thought, knowledge, preparation for the great future, with the rest of the civilized world at this moment. The papers that emanate from the Milanese government are far superior in tone to any that have been uttered by the other states. Their protest in favor of their rights, their addresses to the Germans at large and the countries under the dominion of Austria, are full of nobleness and [pg 311] thoughts sufficiently great for the use of the coming age. These addresses I translate, thinking they may not in other form reach America.

"THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF MILAN TO THE GERMAN NATION.

"We hail you as brothers, valiant, learned, generous Germans!

"This salutation from a people just risen after a terrible struggle to self-consciousness and to the exercise of its rights, ought deeply to move your magnanimous hearts.

"We deem ourselves worthy to utter that great word Brotherhood, which effaces among nations the traditions of all ancient hate, and we proffer it over the new-made graves of our fellow-citizens, who have fought and died to give us the right to proffer it without fear or shame.

"We call brothers men of all nations who believe and hope in the improvement of the human family, and seek the occasion to further it; but you, especially, we call brothers, you Germans, with whom, we have in common so many noble sympathies,—the love of the arts and higher studies, the delight of noble contemplation,—with whom also we have much correspondence in our civil destinies.

"With you are of first importance the interests of the great country, Germany,—with us, those of the great country, Italy.

"We were induced to rise in arms against Austria, (we mean, not the people, but the government of Austria,) not only by the need of redeeming ourselves from the shame and grief of thirty-one years of the most abject despotism, but by a deliberate resolve to take our place upon the plane of nations, to unite with our brothers of the Peninsula, and take rank with them under the great banner raised by Pius IX., on which is written, THE INDEPENDENCE OF ITALY.

"Can you blame us, independent Germans? In blaming us, you would sink beneath your history, beneath your most honored and recent declarations.

"We have chased the Austrian from our soil; we shall give [pg 312] ourselves no repose till we have chased him from all parts of Italy. No this enterprise we are all sworn; for this fights our army enrolled in every part of the Peninsula,—an array of brothers led by the king of Sardinia, who prides himself on being the sword of Italy.

"And the Austrian is not more our enemy than yours.

"The Austrian—we speak still of the government, and not of the people—has always denied and contradicted the interests of the whole German nation, at the head of an assemblage of races differing in language, in customs, in institutions. When it was in his power to have corrected the errors of time and a dynastic policy, by assuming the high mission of uniting them by great moral interests, he preferred to arm one against the other, and to corrupt them all.

"Fearing every noble instinct, hostile to every grand idea, devoted to the material interests of an oligarchy of princes spoiled by a senseless education, of ministers who had sold their consciences, of speculators who subjected and sacrificed everything to gold, the only aim of such a government was to sow division everywhere. What wonder if everywhere in Italy, as in Germany, it reaps harvests of hate and ignominy. Yes, of hate! To this the Austrian has condemned us, to know hate and its deep sorrows. But we are absolved in the sight of God, and by the insults which have been heaped upon us for so many years, the unwearied efforts to debase us, the destruction of our villages, the cold-blooded slaughter of our aged people, our priests, our women, our children. And you,—you shall be the first to absolve us, you, virtuous among the Germans, who certainly have shared our indignation when a venal and lying press accused us of being enemies to your great and generous nation, and we could not answer, and were constrained to devour in silence the shame of an accusation which wounded us to the heart.

"We honor you, Germans! we pant to give you glorious evidence of this. And, as a prelude to the friendly relations we hope to form with your governments, we seek to alleviate as much as possible the pains of captivity to some officers and [pg 313] soldiers belonging to various states of the Germanic Confederation, who fought in the Austrian army. These we wish to send back to you, and are occupied by seeking the means to effect this purpose. We honor you so much, that we believe you capable of preferring to the bonds of race and language the sacred titles of misfortune and of right.

"Ah! answer to our appeal, valiant, wise, and generous Germans! Clasp the hand, which we offer you with the heart of a brother and friend; hasten to disavow every appearance of complicity with a government which the massacres of Galicia and Lombardy have blotted from the list of civilized and Christian governments. It would be a beautiful thing for you to give this example, which will be new in history and worthy of these miraculous times,—the example of a strong and generous people casting aside other sympathies, other interests, to answer the invitation of a regenerate people, to cheer it in its new career, obedient to the great principles of justice, of humanity, of civil and Christian brotherhood."

"THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF MILAN TO THE NATIONS SUBJECT TO THE RULE OF THE HOUSE OF AUSTRIA.

"From your lands have come three armies which have brought war into ours; your speech is spoken by those hostile bands who come to us with fire and sword; nevertheless we come to you as to brothers.

"The war which calls for our resistance is not your war; you are not our enemies: you are only instruments in the hand of our foe, and this foe, brothers, is common to us all.

"Before God, before men, solemnly we declare it,—our only enemy is the government of Austria.

"And that government which for so many years has labored to cancel, in the races it has subdued, every vestige of nationality, which takes no heed of their wants or prayers, bent only on serving miserable interests and more miserable pride, fomenting always antipathies conformably with the ancient maxim of tyrants, Divide and govern,—this government has constituted [pg 314] itself the adversary of every generous thought, the ally and patron of all ignoble causes, the government declared by the whole civilized world paymaster of the executioners of Galicia.

"This government, after having pertinaciously resisted the legal expression of moderate desires,—after having defied with ludicrous hauteur the opinion of Europe, has found itself in its metropolis too weak to resist an insurrection of students, and has yielded,—has yielded, making an assignment on time, and throwing to you, brothers, as an alms-gift to the importunate beggar, the promise of institutions which, in these days, are held essential conditions of life for a civilized nation.

"But you have not confided in this promise; for the youth of Vienna, which feels the inspiring breath of this miraculous time, is impelled on the path of progress; and therefore the Austrian government, uncertain of itself and of your dispositions, took its old part of standing still to wait for events, in the hope of turning them to its own profit.

"In the midst of this it received the news of our glorious revolution, and it thought to have found in this the best way to escape from its embarrassment. First it concealed that news; then made it known piecemeal, and disfigured by hypocrisy and hatred. We were a handful of rebels thirsting for German blood. We make a war of stilettos, we wish the destruction of all Germany. But for us answers the admiration of all Italy, of all Europe, even the evidence of your own people whom we are constrained to hold prisoners or hostages, who will unanimously avow that we have shown heroic courage in the fight, heroic moderation in victory.

"Yes! we have risen as one man against the Austrian government, to become again a nation, to make common cause with our Italian brothers, and the arms which we have assumed for so great an object we shall not lay down till we have attained it. Assailed by a brutal executor of brutal orders, we have combated in a just war; betrayed, a price set on our heads, wounded in the most vital parts, we have not transgressed the bounds of legitimate defence. The murders, the depredations of the hostile band, irritated against us by most wicked arts, have excited our [pg 315] horror, but never a reprisal. The soldier, his arms once laid down, was for us only an unfortunate.

"But behold how the Austrian government provokes you against us, and bids you come against us as a crusade! A crusade! The parody would be ludicrous if it were not so cruel. A crusade against a people which, in the name of Christ, under a banner blessed by the Vicar of Christ, and revered by all the nations, fights to secure its indefeasible rights.

"Oh! if you form against us this crusade,—we have already shown the world what a people can do to reconquer its liberty, its independence,—we will show, also, what it can do to preserve them. If, almost unarmed, we have put to flight an army inured to war,—surely, brothers, that army wanted faith in the cause for which it fought,—can we fear that our courage will grow faint after our triumph, and when aided by all our brothers of Italy? Let the Austrian government send against us its threatened battalions, they will find in our breasts a barrier more insuperable than the Alps. Everything will be a weapon to us; from every villa, from every field, from every hedge, will issue defenders of the national cause; women and children will fight like men; men will centuple their strength, their courage; and we will all perish amid the ruins of our city, before receiving foreign rule into this land which at last we call ours.

"But this must not be. You, our brothers, must not permit it to be; your honor, your interests, do not permit it. Will you fight in a cause which you must feel to be absurd and wicked? You sink to the condition of hirelings, and do you not believe that the Austrian government, should it conquer us and Italy, would turn against you the arms you had furnished for the conquest? Do you not believe it would act as after the struggle with Napoleon? And are you not terrified by the idea of finding yourself in conflict with all civilized Europe, and constrained to receive, to feast as your ally, the Autocrat of Russia, that perpetual terror to the improvement and independence of Europe? It is not possible for the house of Lorraine to forget its traditions; it is not possible that it should resign itself to live tranquil in the atmosphere of [pg 316] Liberty. You can only constrain it by sustaining yourself, with the Germanic and Slavonian nationalities, and with this Italy, which longs only to see the nations harmonize with that resolve which she has finally taken, that she may never more be torn in pieces.

"Think of us, brothers. This is for you and for us a question of life and of death; it is a question on which depends, perhaps, the peace of Europe.

"For ourselves, we have already weighed the chances of the struggle, and subordinated them all to this final resolution, that we will be free and independent, with our brothers of Italy.

"We hope that our words will induce you to calm counsels; if not, you will find us on the field of battle generous and loyal enemies, as now we profess ourselves your generous and loyal brothers.

(Signed,) "CASATI, President, BORROMEO,
 DURINI,P. LITTA,
 STRIGELLI,GIULINI,
 BERETTA,GUERRIERI,
 GRAPPI,PORRO,
 TURRONI,MORRONI,
 REZZONICO,AB. ANELLI,
 CARBONERA,CORRENTI, Sec.-Gen."

These are the names of men whose hearts glow with that generous ardor, the noble product of difficult times. Into their hearts flows wisdom from on high,—thoughts great, magnanimous, brotherly. They may not all remain true to this high vocation, but, at any rate, they will have lived a period of true life. I knew some of these men when in Lombardy; of old aristocratic families, with all the refinement of inheritance and education, they are thoroughly pervaded by principles of a genuine democracy of brotherhood and justice. In the flower of their age, they have before them a long career of the noblest usefulness, if this era follows up its present promise, and they are faithful to their present creed, and ready to improve and extend it.

[pg 317]

Every day produces these remarkable documents. So many years as we have been suffocated and poisoned by the atmosphere of falsehood in official papers, how refreshing is the tone of noble sentiment in Lamartine! What a real wisdom and pure dignity in the letter of Béranger! He was always absolutely true,—an oasis in the pestilential desert of Humbug; but the present time allowed him a fine occasion.

The Poles have also made noble manifestations. Their great poet, Adam Mickiewicz, has been here to enroll the Italian Poles, publish the declaration of faith in which they hope to re-enter and re-establish their country, and receive the Pope's benediction on their banner. In their declaration of faith are found these three articles:—

"Every one of the nation a citizen,—every citizen equal in rights and before authorities.

"To the Jew, our elder brother, respect, brotherhood, aid on the way to his eternal and terrestrial good, entire equality in political and civil rights.

"To the companion of life, woman, citizenship, entire equality of rights."

This last expression of just thought the Poles ought to initiate, for what other nation has had such truly heroic women? Women indeed,—not children, servants, or playthings.

Mickiewicz, with the squadron that accompanied him from Rome, was received with the greatest enthusiasm at Florence. Deputations from the clubs and journals went to his hotel and escorted him to the Piazza del Gran Dúca, where, amid an immense concourse of people, some good speeches were made. A Florentine, with a generous forgetfulness of national vanity, addressed him as the Dante of Poland, who, more fortunate than the great bard and seer of Italy, was likely to return to his country to reap the harvest of the seed he had sown.

"O Dante of Poland! who, like our Alighieri, hast received from Heaven sovereign genius, divine song, but from earth sufferings and exile,—more happy than our Alighieri, thou hast reacquired a country; already thou art meditating on the sacred [pg 318] harp the patriotic hymn of restoration and of victory. The pilgrims of Poland have become the warriors of their nation. Long live Poland, and the brotherhood of nations!"

When this address was finished, the great poet appeared on the balcony to answer. The people received him with a tumult of applause, followed by a profound silence, as they anxiously awaited his voice. Those who are acquainted with the powerful eloquence, the magnetism, of Mickiewicz as an orator, will not be surprised at the effect produced by this speech, though delivered in a foreign language. It is the force of truth, the great vitality of his presence, that loads his words with such electric power. He spoke as follows:—

"People of Tuscany! Friends! Brothers! We receive your shouts of sympathy in the name of Poland; not for us, but for our country. Our country, though distant, claims from you this sympathy by its long martyrdom. The glory of Poland, its only glory, truly Christian, is to have suffered more than all the nations. In other countries the goodness, the generosity of heart, of some sovereigns protected the people; as yours has enjoyed the dawn of the era now coming, under the protection of your excellent prince. [Viva Leopold II.!] But conquered Poland, slave and victim, of sovereigns who were her sworn enemies and executioners,—Poland, abandoned by the governments and the nations, lay in agony on her solitary Golgotha. She was believed slain, dead, burred. 'We have slain her,' shouted the despots; 'she is dead!' [No, no! long live Poland!] 'The dead cannot rise again,' replied the diplomatists; 'we may now be tranquil.' [A universal shudder of feeling in the crowd.] There came a moment in which the world doubted of the mercy and justice of the Omnipotent. There was a moment in which the nations thought that the earth might be for ever abandoned by God, and condemned to the rule of the demon, its ancient lord. The nations forgot that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to give liberty and peace to the earth. The nations had forgotten all this. But God is just. The voice of Pius IX. roused Italy. [Long live Pius IX.!] The people of Paris have driven out the great [pg 319] traitor against the cause of the nations. [Bravo! Viva the people of Paris!] Very soon will be heard the voice of Poland. Poland will rise again! [Yes, yes! Poland will rise again!] Poland will call to life all the Slavonic races,—the Croats, the Dalmatians, the Bohemians, the Moravians, the Illyrians. These will form the bulwark against the tyrant of the North. [Great applause.] They will close for ever the way against the barbarians of the North,—destroyers of liberty and of civilization. Poland is called to do more yet: Poland, as crucified nation, is risen again, and called to serve her sister nations. The will of God is, that Christianity should become in Poland, and through Poland elsewhere, no more a dead letter of the law, but the living law of states and civil associations;—[Great applause;]—that Christianity should be manifested by acts, the sacrifices of generosity and liberality. This Christianity is not new to you, Florentines; your ancient republic knew and has acted upon it: it is time that the same spirit should make to itself a larger sphere. The will of God is that the nations should act towards one another as neighbors,—as brothers. [A tumult of applause.] And you, Tuscans, have to-day done an act of Christian brotherhood. Receiving thus foreign, unknown pilgrims, who go to defy the greatest powers of the earth, you have in us saluted only what is in us of spiritual and immortal,—our faith and our patriotism. [Applause.] We thank you; and we will now go into the church to thank God."

"All the people then followed the Poles to the church of Santa Cróce, where was sung the Benedictus Dominus, and amid the memorials of the greatness of Italy collected in that temple was forged more strongly the chain of sympathy and of union between two nations, sisters in misfortune and in glory."

This speech and its reception, literally translated from the journal of the day, show how pleasant it is on great occasions to be brought in contact with this people, so full of natural eloquence and of lively sensibility to what is great and beautiful.

It is a glorious time too for the exiles who return, and reap even a momentary fruit of their long sorrows. Mazzini has been able [pg 320] to return from his seventeen years' exile, during which there was no hour, night or day, that the thought of Italy was banished from his heart,—no possible effort that he did not make to achieve the emancipation of his people, and with it the progress of mankind. He returns, like Wordsworth's great man, "to see what he foresaw." He will see his predictions accomplishing yet for a long time, for Mazzini has a mind far in advance of his times in general, and his nation in particular,—a mind that will be best revered and understood when the "illustrious Gioberti" shall be remembered as a pompous verbose charlatan, with just talent enough to catch the echo from the advancing wave of his day, but without any true sight of the wants of man at this epoch. And yet Mazzini sees not all: he aims at political emancipation; but he sees not, perhaps would deny, the bearing of some events, which even now begin to work their way. Of this, more anon; but not to-day, nor in the small print of the Tribune. Suffice it to say, I allude to that of which the cry of Communism, the systems of Fourier, &c., are but forerunners. Mazzini sees much already,—at Milan, where he is, he has probably this day received the intelligence of the accomplishment of his foresight, implied in his letter to the Pope, which angered Italy by what was thought its tone of irreverence and doubt, some six months since.

To-day is the 7th of May, for I had thrown aside this letter, begun the 19th of April, from a sense that there was something coming that would supersede what was then to say. This something has appeared in a form that will cause deep sadness to good hearts everywhere. Good and loving hearts, that long for a human form which they can revere, will be unprepared and for a time must suffer much from the final dereliction of Pius IX. to the cause of freedom, progress, and of the war. He was a fair image, and men went nigh to idolize it; this they can do no more, though they may be able to find excuse for his feebleness, love his good heart no less than before, and draw instruction from the causes that have produced his failure, more valuable than his success would have been.

[pg 321]

Pius IX., no one can doubt who has looked on him, has a good and pure heart; but it needed also, not only a strong, but a great mind,

"To comprehend his trust, and to the same

Keep faithful, with a singleness of aim."

A highly esteemed friend in the United States wrote to express distaste to some observations in a letter of mine to the Tribune on first seeing the Pontiff a year ago, observing, "To say that he had not the expression of great intellect was uncalled for" Alas! far from it; it was an observation that rose inevitably on knowing something of the task before Pius IX., and the hopes he had excited. The problem he had to solve was one of such difficulty, that only one of those minds, the rare product of ages for the redemption of mankind, could be equal to its solution. The question that inevitably rose on seeing him was, "Is he such a one?" The answer was immediately negative. But at the same time, he had such an aspect of true benevolence and piety, that a hope arose that Heaven would act through him, and impel him to measures wise beyond his knowledge.

This hope was confirmed by the calmness he showed at the time of the conspiracy of July, and the occupation of Ferrara by the Austrians. Tales were told of simple wisdom, of instinct, which he obeyed in opposition to the counsels of all his Cardinals. Everything went on well for a time.

But tokens of indubitable weakness were shown by the Pope in early acts of the winter, in the removal of a censor at the suggestion of others, in his speech, to the Consistory, in his answer to the first address of the Council. In these he declared that, when there was conflict between the priest and the man, he always meant to be the priest; and that he preferred the wisdom of the past to that of the future.

Still, times went on bending his predeterminations to the call of the moment. He acted wiselier than he intended; as, for instance, three weeks after declaring he would not give a constitution to his people, he gave it,—a sop to Cerberus, indeed,—a poor vamped-up thing that will by and by have to give place to something [pg 322] more legitimate, but which served its purpose at the time as declaration of rights for the people. When the news of the revolution of Vienna arrived, the Pope himself cried Viva Pio Nono! and this ebullition of truth in one so humble, though opposed to his formal declarations, was received by his people with that immediate assent which truth commands.

The revolution of Lombardy followed. The troops of the line were sent thither; the volunteers rushed to accompany them. In the streets of Rome was read the proclamation of Charles Albert, in which he styles himself the servant of Italy and of Pius IX. The priests preached the war, and justly, as a crusade; the Pope blessed their banners. Nobody dreamed, or had cause to dream, that these movements had not his full sympathy; and his name was in every form invoked as the chosen instrument of God to inspire Italy to throw off the oppressive yoke of the foreigner, and recover her rights in the civilized world.

At the same time, however, the Pope was seen to act with great blindness in the affair of the Jesuits. The other states of Italy drove them out by main force, resolved not to have in the midst of the war a foe and spy in the camp. Rome wished to do the same, but the Pope rose in their defence. He talked as if they were assailed as a religious body, when he could not fail, like everybody else, to be aware that they were dreaded and hated solely as agents of despotism. He demanded that they should be assailed only by legal means, when none such were available. The end was in half-measures, always the worst possible. He would not entirely yield, and the people would not at all. The Order was ostensibly dissolved; but great part of the Jesuits really remain here in disguise, a constant source of irritation and mischief, which, if still greater difficulties had not arisen, would of itself have created enough. Meanwhile, in the earnestness of the clergy about the pretended loss of the head of St. Andrew, in the ceremonies of the holy week, which at this juncture excited no real interest, was much matter for thought to the calm observer as to the restlessness of the new wine, the old bottles being heard to crack on every side, and hour by hour.

[pg 323]

Thus affairs went on from day to day,—the Pope kissing the foot of the brazen Jupiter and blessing palms of straw at St. Peter's; the Circolo Romano erecting itself into a kind of Jacobin Club, dictating programmes for an Italian Diet-General, and choosing committees to provide for the expenses of the war; the Civic Guard arresting people who tried to make mobs as if famishing, and, being searched, were found well provided both with arms and money; the ministry at their wits' end, with their trunks packed up ready to be off at a moment's warning,—when the report, it is not yet known whether true or false, that one of the Roman Civic Guard, a well-known artist engaged in the war of Lombardy, had been taken and hung by the Austrians as a brigand, roused the people to a sense of the position of their friends, and they went to the Pope to demand that he should take a decisive stand, and declare war against the Austrians.

The Pope summoned, a consistory; the people waited anxiously, for expressions of his were reported, as if the troops ought not to have thought of leaving the frontier, while every man, woman, and child in Rome knew, and every letter and bulletin declared, that all their thought was to render active aid to the cause of Italian independence. This anxious doubt, however, had not prepared at all for the excess to which they were to be disappointed.

The speech of the Pope declared, that he had never any thought of the great results which had followed his actions; that he had only intended local reforms, such as had previously been suggested by the potentates of Europe; that he regretted the misuse which had been made of his name; and wound up by lamenting over the war,—dear to every Italian heart as the best and holiest cause in which for ages they had been called to embark their hopes,—as if it was something offensive to the spirit of religion, and which he would fain see hushed up, and its motives smoothed out and ironed over.

A momentary stupefaction followed this astounding performance, succeeded by a passion of indignation, in which the words traitor and imbecile were associated with the name that had been so dear to his people. This again yielded to a settled grief: they [pg 324] felt that he was betrayed, but no traitor; timid and weak, but still a sovereign whom they had adored, and a man who had brought them much good, which could not be quite destroyed by his wishing to disown it. Even of this fact they had no time to stop and think; the necessity was too imminent of obviating the worst consequences of this ill; and the first thought was to prevent the news leaving Rome, to dishearten the provinces and army, before they had tried to persuade the Pontiff to wiser resolves, or, if this could not be, to supersede his power.

I cannot repress my admiration at the gentleness, clearness, and good sense with which the Roman people acted under these most difficult circumstances. It was astonishing to see the clear understanding which animated the crowd, as one man, and the decision with which they acted to effect their purpose. Wonderfully has this people been developed within a year!

The Pope, besieged by deputations, who mildly but firmly showed him that, if he persisted, the temporal power must be placed in other hands, his ears filled with reports of Cardinals, "such venerable persons," as he pathetically styles them, would not yield in spirit, though compelled to in act. After two days' struggle, he was obliged to place the power in the hands of the persons most opposed to him, and nominally acquiesce in their proceedings, while in his second proclamation, very touching from the sweetness of its tone, he shows a fixed misunderstanding of the cause at issue, which leaves no hope of his ever again being more than a name or an effigy in their affairs.

His people were much affected, and entirely laid aside their anger, but they would not be blinded as to the truth. While gladly returning to their accustomed habits of affectionate homage toward the Pontiff, their unanimous sense and resolve is thus expressed in an able pamphlet of the day, such as in every respect would have been deemed impossible to the Rome of 1847:—

"From the last allocution of Pius result two facts of extreme gravity;—the entire separation between the spiritual and temporal power, and the express refusal of the Pontiff to be chief of an Italian Republic. But far from drawing hence reason for [pg 325] discouragement and grief, who looks well at the destiny of Italy may bless Providence, which breaks or changes the instrument when the work is completed, and by secret and inscrutable ways conducts us to the fulfilment of our desires and of our hopes.

"If Pius IX. refuses, the Italian people does not therefore draw back. Nothing remains to the free people of Italy, except to unite in one constitutional kingdom, founded on the largest basis; and if the chief who, by our assemblies, shall be called to the highest honor, either declines or does not answer worthily, the people will take care of itself.

"Italians! down with all emblems of private and partial interests. Let us unite under one single banner, the tricolor, and if he who has carried it bravely thus far lets it fall from his hand, we will take it one from the other, twenty-four millions of us, and, till the last of us shall have perished under the banner of our redemption, the stranger shall not return into Italy.

"Viva Italy! viva the Italian people!"M

These events make indeed a crisis. The work begun by Napoleon is finished. There will never more be really a Pope, but only the effigy or simulacrum of one.

The loss of Pius IX. is for the moment a great one. His name had real moral weight,—was a trumpet appeal to sentiment. It is not the same with any man that is left. There is not one that can be truly a leader in the Roman dominion, not one who has even great intellectual weight.

The responsibility of events now lies wholly with the people, and that wave of thought which has begun to pervade them. Sovereigns and statesmen will go where they are carried; it is probable power will be changed continually from, hand to hand, and government become, to all intents and purposes, representative. Italy needs now quite to throw aside her stupid king of Naples, who hangs like a dead weight on her movements. The king of [pg 326] Sardinia and the Grand Duke of Tuscany will be trusted while they keep their present course; but who can feel sure of any sovereign, now that Louis Philippe has shown himself so mad and Pius IX. so blind? It seems as if fate was at work to bewilder and cast down the dignities of the world and democratize society at a blow.

In Rome there is now no anchor except the good sense of the people. It seems impossible that collision should not arise between him who retains the name but not the place of sovereign, and the provisional government which calls itself a ministry. The Count Mamiani, its new head, is a man of reputation as a writer, but untried as yet as a leader or a statesman. Should agitations arise, the Pope can no longer calm them by one of his fatherly looks.

All lies in the future; and our best hope must be that the Power which has begun so great a work will find due means to end it, and make the year 1850 a year of true jubilee to Italy; a year not merely of pomps and tributes, but of recognized rights and intelligent joys; a year of real peace,—peace, founded not on compromise and the lying etiquettes of diplomacy, but on truth and justice.

Then this sad disappointment in Pius IX. may be forgotten, or, while all that was lovely and generous in his life is prized and reverenced, deep instruction may be drawn from his errors as to the inevitable dangers of a priestly or a princely environment, and a higher knowledge may elevate a nobler commonwealth than the world has yet known.

Hoping this era, I remain at present here. Should my hopes be dashed to the ground, it will not change my faith, but the struggle for its manifestation is to me of vital interest. My friends write to urge my return; they talk of our country as the land of the future. It is so, but that spirit which made it all it is of value in my eyes, which gave all of hope with which I can sympathize for that future, is more alive here at present than in America. My country is at present spoiled by prosperity, stupid with the lust of gain, soiled by crime in its willing perpetuation of [pg 327] slavery, shamed by an unjust war, noble sentiment much forgotten even by individuals, the aims of politicians selfish or petty, the literature frivolous and venal. In Europe, amid the teachings of adversity, a nobler spirit is struggling,—a spirit which cheers and animates mine. I hear earnest words of pure faith and love. I see deeds of brotherhood. This is what makes my America. I do not deeply distrust my country. She is not dead, but in my time she sleepeth, and the spirit of our fathers flames no more, but lies hid beneath the ashes. It will not be so long; bodies cannot live when the soul gets too overgrown with gluttony and falsehood. But it is not the making a President out of the Mexican war that would make me wish to come back. Here things are before my eyes worth recording, and, if I cannot help this work, I would gladly be its historian.

May 13.

Returning from a little tour in the Alban Mount, where everything looks so glorious this glorious spring, I find a temporary quiet. The Pope's brothers have come to sympathize with him; the crowd sighs over what he has done, presents him with great bouquets of flowers, and reads anxiously the news from the north and the proclamations of the new ministry. Meanwhile the nightingales sing; every tree and plant is in flower, and the sun and moon shine as if paradise were already re-established on earth. I go to one of the villas to dream it is so, beneath the pale light of the stars.

Footnote M: (return)

Close of "A Comment by Pio Angelo Fierortino on the Allocution of Pius IX. spoken in the Secret Consistory of 29th April, 1848," dated Italy, 30th April, 1st year of the Redemption of Italy.

[pg 328]

 

LETTER XXV.

Review of the Course of Pius IX.—Mamiani.—The People's disappointed Hopes.—The Monuments in Milan, Naples, etc.—The King of Naples and his Troops.—Calamities of the War.—The Italian People.—Charles Albert.—Deductions.—Summer among the Mountains of Italy.

Rome, December 2, 1848.

I have not written for six months, and within that time what changes have taken place on this side "the great water,"—changes of how great dramatic interest historically,—of bearing infinitely important ideally! Easy is the descent in ill.

I wrote last when Pius IX. had taken the first stride on the downward road. He had proclaimed himself the foe of further reform measures, when he implied that Italian independence was not important in his eyes, when he abandoned the crowd of heroic youth who had gone to the field with his benediction, to some of whom his own hand had given crosses. All the Popes, his predecessors, had meddled with, most frequently instigated, war; now came one who must carry out, literally, the doctrines of the Prince of Peace, when the war was not for wrong, or the aggrandizement of individuals, but to redeem national, to redeem human, rights from the grasp of foreign oppression.

I said some cried "traitor," some "imbecile," some wept, but In the minds of all, I believe, at that time, grief was predominant. They could no longer depend on him they had thought their best friend. They had lost their father.

Meanwhile his people would not submit to the inaction he urged. They saw it was not only ruinous to themselves, but base and treacherous to the rest of Italy. They said to the Pope, "This [pg 329] cannot be; you must follow up the pledges you have given, or, if you will not act to redeem them, you must have a ministry that will." The Pope, after he had once declared to the contrary, ought to have persisted. He should have said, "I cannot thus belie myself, I cannot put my name to acts I have just declared to be against my conscience."

The ministers of the people ought to have seen that the position they assumed was utterly untenable; that they could not advance with an enemy in the background cutting off all supplies. But some patriotism and some vanity exhilarated them, and, the Pope having weakly yielded, they unwisely began their impossible task. Mamiani, their chief, I esteem a man, under all circumstances, unequal to such a position,—a man of rhetoric merely. But no man could have acted, unless the Pope had resigned his temporal power, the Cardinals been put under sufficient check, and the Jesuits and emissaries of Austria driven from their lurking-places.

A sad scene began. The Pope,—shut up more and more in his palace, the crowd of selfish and insidious advisers darkening round, enslaved by a confessor,—he who might have been the liberator of suffering Europe permitted the most infamous treacheries to be practised in his name. Private letters were written to the foreign powers, denying the acts he outwardly sanctioned; the hopes of the people were evaded or dallied with; the Chamber of Deputies permitted to talk and pass measures which they never could get funds to put into execution; legions to form and manoeuvre, but never to have the arms and clothing they needed. Again and again the people went to the Pope for satisfaction. They got only—benediction.

Thus plotted and thus worked the scarlet men of sin, playing the hopes of Italy off and on, while their hope was of the miserable defeat consummated by a still worse traitor at Milan on the 6th of August. But, indeed, what could be expected from the "Sword of Pius IX.," when Pius IX. himself had thus failed in his high vocation. The king of Naples bombarded his city, and set on the Lazzaroni to rob and murder the subjects he had [pg 330] deluded by his pretended gift of the Constitution. Pius proclaimed that he longed to embrace all the princes of Italy. He talked of peace, when all knew for a great part of the Italians there was no longer hope of peace, except in the sepulchre, or freedom.

The taunting manifestos of Welden are a sufficient comment on the conduct of the Pope. "As the government of his Holiness is too weak to control his subjects,"—"As, singularly enough, a great number of Romans are found, fighting against us, contrary to the expressed will of their prince,"—such were the excuses for invasions of the Pontifical dominions, and the robbery and insult by which they were accompanied. Such invasions, it was said, made his Holiness very indignant; he remonstrated against these; but we find no word of remonstrance against the tyranny of the king of Naples,—no word of sympathy for the victims of Lombardy, the sufferings of Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Mantua, Venice.

In the affairs of Europe there are continued signs of the plan of the retrograde party to effect similar demonstrations in different places at the same hour. The 15th of May was one of these marked days. On that day the king of Naples made use of the insurrection he had contrived to excite, to massacre his people, and find an excuse for recalling his troops from Lombardy. The same day a similar crisis was hoped in Rome from the declarations of the Pope, but that did not work at the moment exactly as the foes of enfranchisement hoped.

However, the wounds were cruel enough. The Roman volunteers received the astounding news that they were not to expect protection or countenance from their prince; all the army stood aghast, that they were no longer to fight in the name of Pio. It had been so dear, so sweet, to love and really reverence the head of their Church, so inspiring to find their religion for once in accordance with the aspirations of the soul! They were to be deprived, too, of the aid of the disciplined Neapolitan troops and their artillery, on which they had counted. How cunningly all this was contrived to cause dissension and dismay may easily be seen.

[pg 331]

The Neapolitan General Pepe nobly refused to obey, and called on the troops to remain with him. They wavered; but they are a pampered army, personally much attached to the king, who pays them well and indulges them at the expense of his people, that they may be his support against that people when in a throe of nature it rises and striven for its rights. For the same reason, the sentiment of patriotism was little diffused among them in comparison with the other troops. And the alternative presented was one in which it required a very clear sense of higher duty to act against habit. Generally, after wavering awhile, they obeyed and returned. The Roman States, which had received them with so many testimonials of affection and honor, on their retreat were not slack to show a correspondent aversion and contempt. The towns would not suffer their passage; the hamlets were unwilling to serve them even with fire and water. They were filled at once with shame and rage; one officer killed himself, unable to bear it; in the unreflecting minds of the soldiers, hate sprung up for the rest of Italy, and especially Rome, which will make them admirable tools of tyranny in case of civil war.

This was the first great calamity of the war. But apart from the treachery of the king of Naples and the dereliction of the Pope, it was impossible it should end thoroughly well. The people were in earnest, and have shown themselves so; brave, and able to bear privation. No one should dare, after the proofs of the summer, to reiterate the taunt, so unfriendly frequent on foreign lips at the beginning of the contest, that the Italian can boast, shout, and fling garlands, but not act. The Italian always showed himself noble and brave, even in foreign service, and is doubly so in the cause of his country. But efficient heads were wanting. The princes were not in earnest; they were looking at expediency. The Grand Duke, timid and prudent, wanted to do what was safest for Tuscany; his ministry, "Moderate" and prudent, would have liked to win a great prize at small risk. They went no farther than the people pulled them. The king of Sardinia had taken the first bold step, and the idea that treachery on his part was premeditated cannot be sustained; it arises from the extraordinary [pg 332] aspect of his measures, and the knowledge that he is not incapable of treachery, as he proved in early youth. But now it was only his selfishness that worked to the same results. He fought and planned, not for Italy, but the house of Savoy, which his Balbis and Giobertis had so long been prophesying was to reign supreme in the new great era of Italy. These prophecies he more than half believed, because they chimed with his ambitious wishes; but he had not soul enough to realize them; he trusted only in his disciplined troops; he had not nobleness enough to believe he might rely at all on the sentiment of the people. For his troops he dared not have good generals; conscious of meanness and timidity, he shrank from the approach of able and earnest men; he was inly afraid they would, in helping Italy, take her and themselves out of his guardianship. Antonini was insulted, Garibaldi rejected; other experienced leaders, who had rushed to Italy at the first trumpet-sound, could never get employment from him. As to his generalship, it was entirely inadequate, even if he had made use of the first favorable moments. But his first thought was not to strike a blow at the Austrians before they recovered from the discomfiture of Milan, but to use the panic and need of his assistance to induce Lombardy and Venice to annex themselves to his kingdom. He did not even wish seriously to get the better till this was done, and when this was done, it was too late. The Austrian army was recruited, the generals had recovered their spirits, and were burning to retrieve and avenge their past defeat. The conduct of Charles Albert had been shamefully evasive in the first months. The account given by Franzini, when challenged in the Chamber of Deputies at Turin, might be summed up thus: "Why, gentlemen, what would you have? Every one knows that the army is in excellent condition, and eager for action. They are often reviewed, hear speeches, and sometimes get medals. We take places always, if it is not difficult. I myself was present once when the troops advanced; our men behaved gallantly, and had the advantage in the first skirmish; but afterward the enemy pointed on us artillery from the heights, and, naturally, we retired. But as to supposing [pg 333] that his Majesty Charles Albert is indifferent to the success of Italy in the war, that is absurd. He is 'the Sword of Italy'; he is the most magnanimous of princes; he is seriously occupied about the war; many a day I have been called into his tent to talk it over, before he was up in the morning!"

Sad was it that the heroic Milan, the heroic Venice, the heroic Sicily, should lean on such a reed as this, and by hurried acts, equally unworthy as unwise, sully the glory of their shields. Some names, indeed, stand, out quite free from this blame. Mazzini, who kept up a combat against folly and cowardice, day by day and hour by hour, with almost supernatural strength, warned the people constantly of the evils which their advisers were drawing upon them. He was heard then only by a few, but in this "Italia del Popolo" may be found many prophecies exactly fulfilled, as those of "the golden-haired love of Phoebus" during the struggles of Ilium. He himself, in the last sad days of Milan, compared his lot to that of Cassandra. At all events, his hands are pure from that ill. What could be done to arouse Lombardy he did, but the "Moderate" party unable to wean themselves from old habits, the pupils of the wordy Gioberti thought there could be no safety unless under the mantle of a prince. They did not foresee that he would run away, and throw that mantle on the ground.

Tommaso and Manin also were clear in their aversion to these measures; and with them, as with all who were resolute in principle at that time, a great influence has followed.

It is said Charles Albert feels bitterly the imputations on his courage, and says they are most ungrateful, since he has exposed the lives of himself and his sons in the combat. Indeed, there ought to be made a distinction between personal and mental courage. The former Charles Albert may possess, may have too much of what this still aristocratic world calls "the feelings of a gentleman" to shun exposing himself to a chance shot now and then. An entire want of mental courage he has shown. The battle, decisive against him, was made so by his giving up the moment fortune turned against him. It is shameful to hear so many say this result [pg 334] was inevitable, just because the material advantages were in favor of the Austrians. Pray, was never a battle won against material odds? It is precisely such that a good leader, a noble man, may expect to win. Were the Austrians driven out of Milan because the Milanese had that advantage? The Austrians would again, have suffered repulse from them, but for the baseness of this man, on whom they had been cajoled into relying,—a baseness that deserves the pillory; and on a pillory will the "Magnanimous," as he was meanly called in face of the crimes of his youth and the timid selfishness of his middle age, stand in the sight of posterity. He made use of his power only to betray Milan; he took from the citizens all means of defence, and then gave them up to the spoiler; he promised to defend them "to the last drop of his blood," and sold them the next minute; even the paltry terms he made, he has not seen maintained. Had the people slain him in their rage, he well deserved it at their hands; and all his conduct since show how righteous would have been that sudden verdict of passion.

Of all this great drama I have much to write, but elsewhere, in a more full form, and where I can duly sketch the portraits of actors little known in America. The materials are over-rich. I have bought my right in them by much sympathetic suffering; yet, amid the blood and tears of Italy, 't is joy to see some glorious new births. The Italians are getting cured of mean adulation and hasty boasts; they are learning to prize and seek realities; the effigies of straw are getting knocked down, and living, growing men take their places. Italy is being educated for the future, her leaders are learning that the time is past for trust in princes and precedents,—that there is no hope except in truth and God; her lower people are learning to shout less and think more.

Though my thoughts have been much with the public in this struggle for life, I have been away from it during the summer months, in the quiet valleys, on the lonely mountains. There, personally undisturbed, I have seen the glorious Italian summer wax and wane,—the summer of Southern Italy, which I did not see last year. On the mountains it was not too hot for me, and I [pg 335] enjoyed the great luxuriance of vegetation. I had the advantage of having visited the scene of the war minutely last summer, so that, in mind, I could follow every step of the campaign, while around me were the glorious relics of old times,—the crumbling theatre or temple of the Roman day, the bird's-nest village of the Middle Ages, on whose purple height shone the sun and moon of Italy in changeless lustre. It was great pleasure to me to watch the gradual growth and change of the seasons, so different from ours. Last year I had not leisure for this quiet acquaintance. Now I saw the fields first dressed in their carpets of green, enamelled richly with the red poppy and blue corn-flower,—in that sunshine how resplendent! Then swelled the fig, the grape, the olive, the almond; and my food was of these products of this rich clime. For near three months I had grapes every day; the last four weeks, enough daily for two persons for a cent! Exquisite salad for two persons' dinner and supper cost but a cent, and all other products of the region were in the same proportion. One who keeps still in Italy, and lives as the people do, may really have much simple luxury for very little money; though both travel, and, to the inexperienced foreigner, life in the cities, are expensive.

[pg 336]

 

LETTER XXVI.

Thoughts of the Italian Race, the Seasons, and Rome.—Changes.—The Death of the Minister Rossi.—The Church of San Luigi del Francesi.—St. Cecilia and the Domenichino Chapel.—The Piazza del Popolo.—The Troops: Preparatory Movements toward the Quirinal.—The Demonstration on the Palace.—The Church: its Position and Aims.—The Pope's Flight, &c.—Social Life.—Don Tirlone.—The New Year.

Rome, December 2, 1848.

Not till I saw the snow on the mountains grow rosy in the autumn sunset did I turn my steps again toward Rome. I was very ready to return. After three or four years of constant excitement, this six months of seclusion had been welcome; but now I felt the need of meeting other eyes beside those, so bright and so shallow, of the Italian peasant. Indeed, I left what was most precious, but which I could not take with me;N still it was a compensation that I was again to see Rome,—Rome, that almost killed me with her cold breath of last winter, yet still with that cold breath whispered a tale of import so divine. Rome so beautiful, so great! her presence stupefies, and one has to withdraw to prize the treasures she has given. City of the soul! yes, it is that; the very dust magnetizes you, and thousand spells have been chaining you in every careless, every murmuring moment. Yes! Rome, however seen, thou must be still adored; and every hour of absence or presence must deepen love with one who has known what it is to repose in thy arms.

Repose! for whatever be the revolutions, tumults, panics, hopes, of the present day, still the temper of life here is repose. The great past enfolds us, and the emotions of the moment cannot [pg 337] here greatly disturb that impression. From the wild shout and throng of the streets the setting sun recalls us as it rests on a hundred domes and temples,—rests on the Campagna, whose grass is rooted in departed human greatness. Burial-place so full of spirit that death itself seems no longer cold! O let me rest here, too! Hest here seems possible; meseems myriad lives still linger here, awaiting some one great summons.

The rivers had burst their bounds, and beneath the moon the fields round Rome lay one sheet of silver. Entering the gate while the baggage was under examination, I walked to the entrance of a villa. Far stretched its overarching shrubberies, its deep green bowers; two statues, with foot advanced and uplifted finger, seemed to greet me; it was near the scene of great revels, great splendors in the old time; there lay the gardens of Sallust, where were combined palace, theatre, library, bath, and villa. Strange things have happened since, the most attractive part of which—the secret heart—lies buried or has fled to animate other forms; for of that part historians have rarely given a hint more than they do now of the truest life of our day, which refuses to be embodied, by the pen, craving forms more mutable, more eloquent than the pen can give.

I found Rome empty of foreigners. Most of the English have fled in affright,—the Germans and French are wanted at home,—the Czar has recalled many of his younger subjects; he does not like the schooling they get here. That large part of the population, which lives by the visits of foreigners was suffering very much,—trade, industry, for every reason, stagnant. The people were every moment becoming more exasperated by the impudent measures of the Minister Rossi, and their mortification at seeing Rome represented and betrayed by a foreigner. And what foreigner? A pupil of Guizot and Louis Philippe. The news of the bombardment and storm of Vienna had just reached Rome. Zucchi, the Minister of War, at once left the city to put down over-free manifestations in the provinces, and impede the entrance of the troops of the patriot chief, Garibaldi, into Bologna. From the provinces came soldiery, called by Rossi to keep order at the [pg 338] opening of the Chamber of Deputies. He reviewed them in the face of the Civic Guard; the press began to be restrained; men were arbitrarily seized and sent out of the kingdom. The public indignation rose to its height; the cup overflowed.

The 15th was a beautiful day, and I had gone out for a long walk. Returning at night, the old Padrona met me with her usual smile a little clouded. "Do you know," said she, "that the Minister Rossi has been killed?" No Roman said murdered.

"Killed?"

"Yes,—with a thrust in the back. A wicked man, surely; but is that the way to punish even the wicked?"

"I cannot," observed a philosopher, "sympathize under any circumstances with so immoral a deed; but surely the manner of doing it was great."

The people at large were not so refined in their comments as either the Padrona or the philosopher; but soldiers and populace alike ran up and down, singing, "Blessed the hand that rids the earth of a tyrant."

Certainly, the manner was "great."

The Chamber was awaiting the entrance of Rossi. Had he lived to enter, he would have found the Assembly, without a single exception, ranged upon the Opposition benches. His carriage approached, attended by a howling, hissing multitude. He smiled, affected unconcern, but must have felt relieved when his horses entered the courtyard gate of the Cancelleria. He did not know he was entering the place of his execution. The horses stopped; he alighted in the midst of a crowd; it jostled him, as if for the purpose of insult; he turned abruptly, and received as he did so the fatal blow. It was dealt by a resolute, perhaps experienced, hand; he fell and spoke no word more.

The crowd, as if all previously acquainted with the plan, as no doubt most of them were, issued quietly from the gate, and passed through the outside crowd,—its members, among whom was he who dealt the blow, dispersing in all directions. For two or three minutes this outside crowd did not know that anything special had happened. When they did, the news was at the moment [pg 339] received in silence. The soldiers in whom Rossi had trusted, whom he had hoped to flatter and bribe, stood at their posts and said not a word. Neither they nor any one asked, "Who did this? Where is he gone?" The sense of the people certainly was that it was an act of summary justice on an offender whom the laws could not reach, but they felt it to be indecent to shout or exult on the spot where he was breathing his last. Rome, so long supposed the capital of Christendom, certainly took a very pagan view of this act, and the piece represented on the occasion at the theatres was "The Death of Nero."

The next morning I went to the Church of St. Andrea della Valle, where was to be performed a funeral service, with fine music, in honor of the victims of Vienna; for this they do here for the victims of every place,—"victims of Milan," "victims of Paris," "victims of Naples," and now "victims of Vienna." But to-day I found the church closed, the service put off,—Rome was thinking about her own victims.

I passed into the Ripetta, and entered the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. The Republican flag was flying at the door; the young sacristan said the fine musical service, which this church gave formerly on St. Philip's day in honor of Louis Philippe, would now be transferred to the Republican anniversary, the 25th of February. I looked at the monument Chateaubriand erected when here, to a poor girl who died, last of her family, having seen all the others perish round her. I entered the Domenichino Chapel, and gazed anew on the magnificent representations of the Life and Death of St. Cecilia. She and St. Agnes are my favorite saints. I love to think of those angel visits which her husband knew by the fragrance of roses and lilies left behind in the apartment. I love to think of his visit to the Catacombs, and all that followed. In one of the pictures St. Cecilia, as she stretches out her arms toward the suffering multitude, seems as if an immortal fount of purest love sprung from her heart. It gives very strongly the idea of an inexhaustible love,—the only love that is much worth thinking about.

Leaving the church, I passed along toward the Piazza del Popolo. [pg 340] "Yellow Tiber rose," but not high enough to cause "distress," as he does when in a swelling mood. I heard the drums beating, and, entering the Piazza, I found the troops of the line already assembled, and the Civic Guard marching in by platoons, each battalion saluted as it entered by trumpets and a fine strain from the band of the Carbineers.

I climbed the Pincian to see better. There is no place so fine for anything of this kind as the Piazza del Popolo, it is so full of light, so fair and grand, the obelisk and fountain make so fine a centre to all kinds of groups.

The object of the present meeting was for the Civic Guard and troops of the line to give pledges of sympathy preparatory to going to the Quirinal to demand a change of ministry and of measures. The flag of the Union was placed in front of the obelisk; all present saluted it; some officials made addresses; the trumpets sounded, and all moved toward the Quirinal.

Nothing could be gentler than the disposition of those composing the crowd. They were resolved to be played with no longer, but no threat was uttered or thought. They believed that the court would be convinced by the fate of Rossi that the retrograde movement it had attempted was impracticable. They knew the retrograde party were panic-struck, and hoped to use the occasion to free the Pope from its meshes. All felt that Pius IX. had fallen irrevocably from his high place as the friend of progress and father of Italy; but still he was personally beloved, and still his name, so often shouted in hope and joy, had not quite lost its prestige.

I returned to the house, which is very near the Quirinal. On one side I could see the palace and gardens of the Pope, on the other the Piazza Barberini and street of the Four Fountains. Presently I saw the carriage of Prince Barberini drive hurriedly into his court-yard gate, the footman signing to close it, a discharge of fire-arms was heard, and the drums of the Civic Guard beat to arms.

The Padrona ran up and down, crying with every round of shot, "Jesu Maria, they are killing the Pope! O poor Holy Father!—Tito, Tito," (out of the window to her husband,) "what is the matter?"

[pg 341]

The lord of creation disdained to reply.

"O Signora! pray, pray, ask Tito what is the matter?"

I did so.

"I don't know, Signora; nobody knows."

"Why don't you go on the Mount and see?"

"It would be an imprudence, Signora; nobody will go."

I was just thinking to go myself, when I saw a poor man borne by, badly wounded, and heard that the Swiss were firing on the people. Their doing so was the cause of whatever violence there was, and it was not much.

The people had assembled, as usual, at the Quirinal, only with more form and solemnity than usual. They had taken with them several of the Chamber of Deputies, and they sent an embassy, headed by Galetti, who had been in the late ministry, to state their wishes. They received a peremptory negative. They then insisted on seeing the Pope, and pressed on the palace. The Swiss became alarmed, and fired from the windows and from the roof. They did this, it is said, without orders; but who could, at the time, suppose that? If it had been planned to exasperate the people to blood, what more could have been done? As it was, very little was shed; but the Pope, no doubt, felt great panic. He heard the report of fire-arms,—heard that they tried to burn a door of the palace. I would lay my life that he could have shown himself without the slightest danger; nay, that the habitual respect for his presence would have prevailed, and hushed all tumult. He did not think so, and, to still it, once more degraded himself and injured his people, by making promises he did not mean to keep.

He protests now against those promises as extorted by violence,—a strange plea indeed for the representative of St. Peter!

Rome is all full of the effigies of those over whom violence had no power. There was an early Pope about to be thrown into the Tiber; violence had no power to make him say what he did not mean. Delicate girls, men in the prime of hope and pride of power,—they were all alike about that. They could die in boiling oil, roasted on coals, or cut to pieces; but they could not say [pg 342] what they did not mean. These formed the true Church; it was these who had power to disseminate the religion of him, the Prince of Peace, who died a bloody death of torture between sinners, because he never could say what he did not mean.

A little church, outside the gate of St. Sebastian commemorates the following affecting tradition of the Church. Peter, alarmed at the persecution of the Christians, had gone forth to fly, when in this spot he saw a bright figure in his path, and recognized his Master travelling toward Rome. "Lord," he said, "whither goest thou?" "I go," replied Jesus, "to die with my people." Peter comprehended the reproof. He felt that he must not a fourth time deny his Master, yet hope for salvation. He returned to Rome to offer his life in attestation of his faith.

The Roman Catholic Church has risen a monument to the memory of such facts. And has the present head of that Church quite failed to understand their monition?

Not all the Popes have so failed, though the majority have been intriguing, ambitious men of the world. But even the mob of Rome—and in Rome there is a true mob of unheeding cabbage-sellers, who never had a thought before beyond contriving how to satisfy their animal instincts for the day—said, on hearing the protest, "There was another Pius, not long since, who talked in a very different style. When the French threatened him, he said, 'You may do with me as you see fit, but I cannot consent to act against my convictions.'"

In fact, the only dignified course for the Pope to pursue was to resign his temporal power. He could no longer hold it on his own terms; but to it he clung; and the counsellors around him were men to wish him to regard that as the first of duties. When the question was of waging war for the independence of Italy, they regarded him solely as the head of the Church; but when the demand was to satisfy the wants of his people, and ecclesiastical goods were threatened with taxes, then he was the prince of the state, bound to maintain all the selfish prerogatives of bygone days for the benefit of his successors. Poor Pope! how has his mind been torn to pieces in these later days! It moves compassion. [pg 343] There can be no doubt that all his natural impulses are generous and kind, and in a more private station he would have died beloved and honored; but to this he was unequal; he has suffered bad men to surround him, and by their misrepresentations and insidious suggestions at last entirely to cloud his mind. I believe he really thinks now the Progress movement tends to anarchy, blood, and all that looked worst in the first French revolution. However that may be, I cannot forgive him some of the circumstances of this flight. To fly to Naples; to throw himself in the arms of the bombarding monarch, blessing him and thanking his soldiery for preserving that part of Italy from anarchy; to protest that all his promises at Rome were null and void, when he thought himself in safety to choose a commission for governing in his absence, composed of men of princely blood, but as to character so null that everybody laughed, and said he chose those who could best be spared if they were killed; (but they all ran away directly;) when Rome was thus left without any government, to refuse to see any deputation, even the Senator of Rome, whom he had so gladly sanctioned,—these are the acts either of a fool or a foe. They are not his acts, to be sure, but he is responsible; he lets them stand as such in the face of the world, and weeps and prays for their success.

No more of him! His day is over. He has been made, it seems unconsciously, an instrument of good his regrets cannot destroy. Nor can he be made so important an instrument of ill. These acts have not had the effect the foes of freedom hoped. Rome remained quite cool and composed; all felt that they had not demanded more than was their duty to demand, and were willing to accept what might follow. In a few days all began to say: "Well, who would have thought it? The Pope, the Cardinals, the Princes are gone, and Rome is perfectly tranquil, and one does not miss anything, except that there are not so many rich carriages and liveries."

The Pope may regret too late that he ever gave the people a chance to make this reflection. Yet the best fruits of the movement may not ripen for a long time. It is a movement which [pg 344] requires radical measures, clear-sighted, resolute men: these last, as yet, do not show themselves in Rome. The new Tuscan ministry has three men of superior force in various ways,—Montanelli, Guerazzi, D'Aguila; such are not as yet to be found in Rome.

But should she fall this time,—and she must either advance with decision and force, or fall, since to stand still is impossible,—the people have learned much; ignorance and servility of thought are lessened,—the way is paving for final triumph.

And my country, what does she? You have chosen a new President from a Slave State, representative of the Mexican war. But he seems to be honest, a man that can be esteemed, and is one really known to the people, which is a step upward, after having sunk last time to choosing a mere tool of party.

Pray send here a good Ambassador,—one that has experience of foreign life, that he may act with good judgment, and, if possible, a man that has knowledge and views which extend beyond the cause of party politics in the United States,—a man of unity in principles, but capable of understanding variety in forms. And send a man capable of prizing the luxury of living in, or knowing Rome; the office of Ambassador is one that should not be thrown away on a person who cannot prize or use it. Another century, and I might ask to be made Ambassador myself, ('t is true, like other Ambassadors, I would employ clerks to do the most of the duty,) but woman's day has not come yet. They hold their clubs in Paris, but even George Sand will not act with women as they are. They say she pleads they are too mean, too treacherous. She should not abandon them for that, which is not nature, but misfortune. How much I shall have to say on that subject if I live, which I desire not, for I am very tired of the battle with giant wrongs, and would like to have some one younger and stronger arise to say what ought to be said, still more to do what ought to be done. Enough! if I felt these things in privileged America, the cries of mothers and wives beaten at night by sons and husbands for their diversion after drinking, as I have repeatedly heard them these past months,—the excuse for falsehood, "I dare not [pg 345] tell my husband, he would be ready to kill me,"—have sharpened my perception as to the ills of woman's condition and the remedies that must be applied. Had I but genius, had I but energy, to tell what I know as it ought to be told! God grant them me, or some other more worthy woman, I pray.

Don Tirlone, the Punch of Rome, has just come in. This number represents the fortress of Gaëta. Outside hangs a cage containing a parrot (pappagallo), the plump body of the bird surmounted by a noble large head with benign face and Papal head-dress. He sits on the perch now with folded wings, but the cage door, in likeness of a portico, shows there is convenience to come forth for the purposes of benediction, when wanted. Outside, the king of Naples, dressed as Harlequin, plays the organ for instruction of the bird (unhappy penitent, doomed to penance), and, grinning with sharp teeth, observes: "He speaks in my way now." In the background a young Republican holds ready the match for a barrel of gunpowder, but looks at his watch, waiting the moment to ignite it.

A happy New Year to my country! may she be worthy of the privileges she possesses, while others are lavishing their blood to win them,—that is all that need be wished for her at present.

Footnote N: (return)

Her child, who was born in Rieti, September 5, 1848, and was necessarily left in that town during the difficulties and siege of Rome.—ED.

[pg 346]

 

LETTER XXVII.

Rome.—The Carnival: the Moccoletti.—The Roman Character.—The Pope's Flight.—The Assembly.—The People.—The Pope's Mistake.—His Manifesto: its Tone and Effect.—Destruction of the Temporal Dominion of the Church.

Rome, Evening of Feb. 20, 1849.

It is said you cannot thoroughly know any place till you have both summered and wintered in it; but more than one summer and winter of experience seems to be needed for Rome. How I fretted last winter, during the three months' rain, and sepulchral chill, and far worse than sepulchral odors, which accompanied it! I thought it was the invariable Roman winter, and that I should never be able to stay here during another; so took my room only by the month, thinking to fly so soon as the rain set in. And lo! it has never rained at all; but there has been glorious sun and moon, unstained by cloud, always; and these last days have been as warm as May,—the days of the Carnival, for I have just come in from seeing the Moccoletti.

The Republican Carnival has not been as splendid as the Papal, the absence of dukes and princes being felt in the way of coaches and rich dresses; there are also fewer foreigners than usual, many having feared to assist at this most peaceful of revolutions. But if less splendid, it was not less gay; the costumes were many and fanciful,—flowers, smiles, and fun abundant.

This is the first time of my seeing the true Moccoletti; last year, in one of the first triumphs of democracy, they did not blow oat the lights, thus turning it into an illumination. The effect of the swarms of lights, little and large, thus in motion all over the fronts of the houses, and up and down the Corso, was exceedingly pretty and fairy-like; but that did not make up for the loss of that [pg 347] wild, innocent gayety of which this people alone is capable after childhood, and which never shines out so much as on this occasion. It is astonishing the variety of tones, the lively satire and taunt of which the words Senza moccolo, senza mo, are susceptible from their tongues. The scene is the best burlesque on the life of the "respectable" world that can be imagined. A ragamuffin with a little piece of candle, not even lighted, thrusts it in your face with an air of far greater superiority than he can wear who, dressed in gold and velvet, erect in his carriage, holds aloft his light on a tall pole. In vain his security; while he looks down on the crowd to taunt the wretches senza mo, a weak female hand from a chamber window blots out his pretensions by one flirt of an old handkerchief.

Many handsome women, otherwise dressed in white, wore the red liberty cap, and the noble though somewhat coarse Roman outline beneath this brilliant red, by the changeful glow of million lights, made a fine effect. Men looked too vulgar in the liberty cap.

How I mourn that my little companion E. never saw these things, that would have given him such store of enchanting reminiscences for all his after years! I miss him always on such occasions; formerly it was through him that I enjoyed them. He had the child's heart, had the susceptible fancy, and, naturally, a fine discerning sense for whatever is individual or peculiar.

I missed him much at the Fair of St. Eustachio. This, like the Carnival, was last year entirely spoiled by constant rain. I never saw it at all before. It comes in the first days, or rather nights, of January. All the quarter of St. Eustachio is turned into one toy-shop; the stalls are set out in the street and brightly lighted, up. These are full of cheap toys,—prices varying from half a cent up to twenty cents. The dolls, which are dressed as husband and wife, or sometimes grouped in families, are the most grotesque rag-babies that can be imagined. Among the toys are great quantities of whistles, tin trumpets, and little tambourines; of these every man, woman, and child has bought one, and is using it to make a noise. This extempore concert begins about ten o'clock, and lasts [pg 348] till midnight; the delight of the numerous children that form part of the orchestra, the good-humored familiarity without the least touch of rudeness in the crowd, the lively effect of the light upon the toys, and the jumping, shouting figures that, exhibit them, make this the pleasantest Saturnalia. Had you only been there, E., to guide me by the hand, blowing the trumpet for both, and spying out a hundred queer things in nooks that entirely escape me!

The Roman still plays amid his serious affairs, and very serious have they been this past winter. The Roman legions went out singing and dancing to fight in Lombardy, and they fought no less bravely for that.

When I wrote last, the Pope had fled, guided, he says, "by the hand of Providence,"—Italy deems by the hand of Austria,—to Gaëta. He had already soiled his white robes, and defamed himself for ever, by heaping benedictions on the king of Naples and the bands of mercenaries whom he employs to murder his subjects on the least sign of restlessness in their most painful position. Most cowardly had been the conduct of his making promises he never meant to keep, stealing away by night in the coach of a foreign diplomatist, protesting that what he had done was null because he had acted under fear,—as if such a protest could avail to one who boasts himself representative of Christ and his Apostles, guardian of the legacy of the martyrs! He selected a band of most incapable men to face the danger he had feared for himself; most of these followed his example and fled. Rome sought an interview with him, to see if reconciliation were possible; he refused to receive her messengers. His wicked advisers calculated upon great confusion and distress as inevitable on the occasion; but, for once, the hope of the bad heart was doomed to immediate disappointment. Rome coolly said, "If you desert me,—if you will not hear me,—I must act for myself." She threw herself into the arms of a few men who had courage and calmness for this crisis; they bade her think upon what was to be done, meanwhile avoiding every excess that could give a color to calumny and revenge. The people, with admirable good sense, [pg 349] comprehended and followed up this advice. Never was Rome so truly tranquil, so nearly free from gross ill, as this winter. A few words of brotherly admonition have been more powerful than all the spies, dungeons, and scaffolds of Gregory.

"The hand of the Omnipotent works for us," observed an old man whom I saw in the street selling cigars the evening before the opening of the Constitutional Assembly. He was struck by the radiant beauty of the night. The old people observe that there never has been such a winter as this which follows the establishment by the French of a republic.

May the omens speed well! A host of enemies without are ready to levy war against this long-suffering people, to rivet anew their chains. Still there is now an obvious tide throughout Europe toward a better order of things, and a wave of it may bear Italy onward to the shore.

The revolution, like all genuine ones, has been instinctive, its results unexpected and surprising to the greater part of those who achieved them. The waters, which had flowed so secretly beneath the crust of habit that many never heard their murmur, unless in dreams, have suddenly burst to light in full and beautiful jets; all rush to drink the pure and living draught.

As in the time of Jesus, the multitude had been long enslaved beneath a cumbrous ritual, their minds designedly darkened by those who should have enlightened them, brutified, corrupted, amid monstrous contradictions and abuses; yet the moment they hear a word correspondent to the original nature, "Yes, it is true," they cry. "It is spoken with, authority. Yes, it ought to be so. Priests ought to be better and wiser than other men; if they were, they would not need pomp and temporal power to command respect. Yes, it is true; we ought not to lie; we should not try to impose upon one another. We ought rather to prefer that our children should work honestly for their bread, than get it by cheating, begging, or the prostitution of their mothers. It would be better to act worthily and kindly, probably would please God more than the kissing of relics. We have long darkly felt that these things were so; now we know it."

[pg 350]

The unreality of relation between the people and the hierarchy was obvious instantly upon the flight of Pius. He made an immense mistake then, and he made it because neither he nor his Cardinals were aware of the unreality. They did not know that, great as is the force of habit, truth only is imperishable. The people had abhorred Gregory, had adored Pius, upon whom they looked as a saviour, as a liberator; finding themselves deceived, a mourning-veil had overshadowed their love. Still, had Pius remained here, and had courage to show himself on agitating occasions, his position as the Pope, before whom they had been bred to bow, his aspect, which had once seemed to them full of blessing and promise, like that of an angel, would have still retained power. Probably the temporal dominion of the Papacy would not have been broken up. He fled; the people felt contempt for his want of force and truth. He wrote to reproach them with ingratitude; they were indignant. What had they to be grateful for? A constitution to which he had not kept true an instant; the institution of the National Guard, which he had begun to neutralize; benedictions, followed by such actions as the desertion of the poor volunteers in the war for Italian independence? Still, the people were not quite alienated from Pius. They felt sure that his heart was, in substance, good and kindly, though the habits of the priest and the arts of his counsellors had led him so egregiously to falsify its dictates and forget the vocation with which he had been called. Many hoped he would see his mistake, and return to be at one with the people. Among the more ignorant, there was a superstitious notion that he would return in the night of the 5th of January. There were many bets that he would be found in the palace of the Quirinal the morning of the 6th. All these lingering feelings were finally extinguished by the advice of excommunication. As this may not have readied America, I subjoin a translation. Here I was obliged to make use of a manuscript copy; all the printed ones were at once destroyed. It is probably the last document of the kind the world will see.

[pg 351]

MANIFESTO OF PIUS IX.

"To OUR MOST BELOVED SUBJECTS:—

"From this pacific abode to which it has pleased Divine Providence to conduct us, and whence we can freely manifest our sentiments and our will, we have waited for testimonies of remorse from our misguided children for the sacrileges and misdeeds committed against persons attached to our service,—among whom some have been slain, others outraged in the most barbarous manner,—as well as for those against our residence and our person. But we have seen nothing except a sterile invitation to return to our capital, unaccompanied by a word of condemnation for those crimes or the least guaranty for our security against the frauds and violences of that same company of furious men which still tyrannizes with a barbarous despotism over Rome and the States of the Church. We also waited, expecting that the protests and orders we have uttered would recall to the duties of fidelity and subjection those who have despised and trampled upon them in the very capital of our States. But, instead of this, a new and more monstrous act of undisguised felony and of actual rebellion by them audaciously committed, has filled the measure of our affliction, and excited at the same time our just indignation, as it will afflict the Church Universal. We speak of that act, in every respect detestable, by which, it has been pretended to initiate the convocation of a so-called General National Assembly of the Roman States, by a decree of the 29th of last December, in order to establish new political forms for the Pontifical dominion. Adding thus iniquity to iniquity, the authors and favorers of the demagogical anarchy strive to destroy the temporal authority of the Roman Pontiff over the dominions of Holy Church,—however irrefragably established through the most ancient and solid rights, and venerated, recognized, and sustained by all the nations,—pretending and making others believe that his sovereign power can be subject to controversy or depend on the caprices of the factious. We shall spare our dignity the humiliation of dwelling on all that is monstrous contained in that act, abominable [pg 352] through the absurdity of its origin no less than the illegality of its form and the impiety of its scope; but it appertains to the apostolic authority, with which, however unworthy, we are invested, and to the responsibility which binds us by the most sacred oaths in the sight of the Omnipotent, not only to protest in the most energetic and efficacious manner against that same act, but to condemn it in the face of the universe as an enormous and sacrilegious crime against our independence and sovereignty, meriting the chastisements threatened by divine and human laws. We are persuaded that, on receiving the impudent invitation, you were full of holy indignation, and will have rejected far from you this guilty and shameful provocation. Notwithstanding, that none of you may say he has been deluded by fallacious seductions, and by the preachers of subversive doctrines, or ignorant of what is contriving by the foes of all order, all law, all right, true liberty, and your happiness, we to-day again raise and utter abroad our voice, so that you may be more certain of the absoluteness with which we prohibit men, of whatever class and condition, from taking any part in the meetings which those persons may dare to call, for the nomination of individuals to be sent to the condemned Assembly. At the same time we recall to you how this absolute prohibition is sanctioned by the decrees of our predecessors and of the Councils, especially of the Sacred Council-General of Trent, Sect. XXII. Chap. 11, in which the Church has fulminated many times her censures, and especially the greater excommunication, as incurred without fail by any declaration of whomsoever daring to become guilty of whatsoever attempt against the temporal sovereignty of the Supreme Pontiff, this we declare to have been already unhappily incurred by all those who have given aid to the above-named act, and others preceding, intended to prejudice the same sovereignty, and in other modes and under false pretexts have, perturbed, violated, and usurped our authority. Yet, though we feel ourselves obliged by conscience to guard the sacred deposit of the patrimony of the Spouse of Jesus Christ, confided to our care, by using the sword of severity given to us for that purpose, we cannot therefore [pg 353] forget that we are on earth the representative of Him who in exercise of his justice does not forget mercy. Raising, therefore, our hands to Heaven, while we to it recommend a cause which is indeed more Heaven's than ours, and while anew we declare ourselves ready, with the aid of its powerful grace, to drink even to the dregs, for the defence and glory of the Catholic Church, the cup of persecution which He first wished to drink for the salvation of the same, we shall not desist from supplicating Him benignly to hear the fervent prayers which day and night we unceasingly offer for the salvation of the misguided. No day certainly could be more joyful for us, than that in which it shall be granted to see return into the fold of the Lord our sons from whom now we derive so much bitterness and so great tribulations. The hope of enjoying soon the happiness of such a day is strengthened in us by the reflection, that universal are the prayers which, united to ours, ascend to the throne of Divine Mercy from the lips and the heart of the faithful throughout the Catholic world, urging it continually to change the hearts of sinners, and reconduct them into the paths of truth and of justice.
"Gaëta, January 6, 1849."

The silliness, bigotry, and ungenerous tone of this manifesto excited a simultaneous movement in the population. The procession which carried it, mumbling chants, for deposit in places provided for lowest uses, and then, taking from, the doors of the hatters' shops the cardinals' hats, threw them into the Tiber, was a real and general expression of popular disgust. From that hour the power of the scarlet hierarchy fell to rise no more. No authority can survive a universal movement of derision. From that hour tongues and pens were loosed, the leaven of Machiavellism, which still polluted the productions of the more liberal, disappeared, and people talked as they felt, just as those of us who do not choose to be slaves are accustomed to do in America.

"Jesus," cried an orator, "bade them feed his lambs. If they have done so, it has been to rob their fleece and drink their blood."

[pg 354]

"Why," said another, "have we been so long deaf to the saying, that the temporal dominion of the Church was like a thorn in the wound of Italy, which shall never be healed till that thorn is extracted?"

And then, without passion, all felt that the temporal dominion was in fact finished of itself, and that it only remained to organize another form of government.

[pg 355]

 

LETTER XXVIII.

Gioberti, Mamiani, and Mazzini.—Formation of the Constitutional Assembly.—The Right of Suffrage.—A Procession.—Proclamation of the Republic.—Results.—Decree of the Assembly.—Americans in Rome: Difference of Impressions.—Flight of the Grand Duke of Tuscany.—Charles Albert.—Present State of Rome.—Reflections and Conclusions.—Latest Intelligence.

Rome, Evening of Feb. 20, 1849.

The League between the Italian States, and the Diet which was to establish it, had been the thought of Gioberti, but had found the instrument at Rome in Mamiani. The deputies were to be named by princes or parliaments, their mandate to be limited by the existing institutions of the several states; measures of mutual security and some modifications in the way of reform would be the utmost that could be hoped from this Diet. The scope of this party did not go beyond more vigorous prosecution of the war for independence, and the establishment of good, institutions for the several principalities on a basis of assimilation.

Mazzini, the great radical thinker of Italy, was, on the contrary, persuaded that unity, not union, was necessary to this country. He had taken for his motto, GOD AND THE PEOPLE, and believed in no other powers. He wished an Italian Constitutional Assembly, selected directly by the people, and furnished with an unlimited mandate to decide what form was now required by the needs of the Peninsula. His own wishes, certainly, aimed at a republic; but the decision remained with the representatives of the people.

The thought of Gioberti had been at first the popular one, as he, in fact, was the seer of the so-called Moderate party. For myself, I always looked upon him as entirely a charlatan, who [pg 356] covered his want of all real force by the thickest embroidered mantle of words. Still, for a time, he corresponded with the wants of the Italian mind. He assailed the Jesuits, and was of real use by embodying the distrust and aversion that brooded in the minds of men against these most insidious and inveterate foes of liberty and progress. This triumph, at least, he may boast: that sect has been obliged to yield; its extinction seems impossible, of such life-giving power was the fiery will of Loyola. In the Primate he had embodied the lingering hope of the Catholic Church; Pius IX. had answered to the appeal, had answered only to show its futility. He had run through Italy as courier for Charles Albert, when the so falsely styled Magnanimous entered, pretending to save her from the stranger, really hoping to take her for himself. His own cowardice and treachery neutralized the hope, and Charles Albert, abject in his disgrace, took a retrograde ministry. This the country would not suffer, and obliged him after a while to reassume at least the position of the previous year, by taking Gioberti for his premier. But it soon became evident that the ministry of Charles Albert was in the same position as had been that of Pius IX. The hand was powerless when the head was indisposed. Meantime the name of Mazzini had echoed through Tuscany from the revered lips of Montanelli; it reached the Roman States, and though at first propagated by foreign impulse, yet, as soon as understood, was welcomed as congenial. Montanelli had nobly said, addressing Florence: "We could not regret that the realization of this project should take place in a sister city, still more illustrious than ours." The Romans took him at his word; the Constitutional Assembly for the Roman States was elected with a double mandate, that the deputies might sit in the Constitutional Assembly for all Italy whenever the other provinces could send theirs. They were elected by universal suffrage. Those who listened to Jesuits and Moderates predicted that the project would fail of itself. The people were too ignorant to make use of the liberty of suffrage.

But ravens now-a-days are not the true prophetic birds. The Roman eagle recommences her flight, and it is from its direction [pg 357] only that the high-priest may draw his augury. The people are certainly as ignorant as centuries of the worst government, the neglect of popular education, the enslavement of speech and the press, could make them; yet they have an instinct to recognize measures that are good for them. A few weeks' schooling at some popular meetings, the clubs, the conversations of the National Guards in their quarters or on patrol, were sufficient to concert measures so well, that the people voted in larger proportion than at contested elections in our country, and made a very good choice.

The opening of the Constitutional Assembly gave occasion for a fine procession. All the troops in Rome defiled from the Campidoglio; among them many bear the marks of suffering from the Lombard war. The banners of Sicily, Venice, and Bologna waved proudly; that of Naples was veiled with crape. I was in a balcony in the Piazza di Venezia; the Palazzo di Venezia, that sternest feudal pile, so long the head-quarters of Austrian machinations, seemed to frown, as the bands each in passing struck up the Marseillaise. The nephew of Napoleon and Garibaldi, the hero of Montevideo, walked together, as deputies. The deputies, a grave band, mostly advocates or other professional men, walked without other badge of distinction than the tricolored scarf. I remembered the entrance of the deputies to the Council only fourteen months ago, in the magnificent carriages lent by the princes for the occasion; they too were mostly nobles, and their liveried attendants followed, carrying their scutcheons. Princes and councillors have both fled or sunk into nothingness; in those councillors was no counsel. Will it be found in the present? Let us hope so! What we see to-day has much more the air of reality than all that parade of scutcheons, or the pomp of dress and retinue with which the Ecclesiastical Court was wont to amuse the people.

A few days after followed the proclamation of a Republic. An immense crowd of people surrounded the Palazzo della Cancelleria, within whose court-yard Rossi fell, while the debate was going on within. At one o'clock in the morning of the 9th of February, a Republic was resolved upon, and the crowd rushed away to ring all the bells.

[pg 358]

Early next morning I rose and went forth to observe the Republic. Over the Quirinal I went, through the Forum, to the Capitol. There was nothing to be seen except the magnificent calm emperor, the tamers of horses, the fountain, the trophies, the lions, as usual; among the marbles, for living figures, a few dirty, bold women, and Murillo boys in the sun just as usual. I passed into the Corso; there were men in the liberty cap,—of course the lowest and vilest had been the first to assume it; all the horrible beggars persecuting as impudently as usual. I met some English; all their comfort was, "It would not last a month." "They hoped to see all these fellows shot yet." The English clergyman, more mild and legal, only hopes to see them (i.e. the ministry, deputies, &c.) hung.

Mr. Carlyle would be delighted with his countrymen. They are entirely ready and anxious to see a Cromwell for Italy. They, too, think, when the people starve, "It is no matter what happens in the back parlor." What signifies that, if there is "order" in the front? How dare the people make a noise to disturb us yawning at billiards!

I met an American. He "had no confidence in the Republic." Why? Because he "had no confidence in the people." Why? Because "they were not like our people." Ah! Jonathan and John,—excuse me, but I must say the Italian has a decided advantage over you in the power of quickly feeling generous sympathy, as well as some other things which I have not time now to particularize. I have memoranda from you both in my note-book.

At last the procession mounts the Campidoglio. It is all dressed with banners. The tricolor surmounts the palace of the senator; the senator himself has fled. The deputies mount the steps, and one of them reads, in a clear, friendly voice, the following words:—

"FUNDAMENTAL DECREE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY OF ROME.

"ART. I.—The Papacy has fallen in fact and in right from the temporal government of the Roman State.

[pg 359]

"ART. II.—The Roman Pontiff shall have all the necessary guaranties for independence in the exercise of his spiritual power.

"ART. III.—The form of government of the Roman State shall be a pure democracy, and will take the glorious name of Roman Republic.

"ART. IV.—The Roman Republic shall have with the rest of Italy the relations exacted by a common nationality."

Between each of these expressive sentences the speaker paused; the great bell of the Capitol gave forth its solemn melodies; the cannon answered; while the crowd shouted, Viva la Republica! Viva Italia!

The imposing grandeur of the spectacle to me gave new force to the emotion that already swelled my heart; my nerves thrilled, and I longed to see in some answering glance a spark of Rienzi, a little of that soul which made my country what she is. The American at my side remained impassive. Receiving all his birthright from a triumph of democracy, he was quite indifferent to this manifestation on this consecrated spot. Passing the winter in Rome to study art, he was insensible to the artistic beauty of the scene,—insensible to this new life of that spirit from which all the forms he gazes at in galleries emanated. He "did not see the use of these popular demonstrations."

Again I must mention a remark of his, as a specimen of the ignorance in which Americans usually remain during their flighty visits to these scenes, where they associate only with one another. And I do it the rather as this seemed a really thoughtful, intelligent man; no vain, vulgar trifler. He said, "The people seem only to be looking on; they take no part."

What people? said I.

"Why, these around us; there is no other people."

There are a few beggars, errand-boys, and nurse-maids.

"The others are only soldiers."

Soldiers! The Civic Guard! all the decent men in Rome.

Thus it is that the American, on many points, becomes more ignorant for coming abroad, because he attaches some value to his [pg 360] crude impressions and frequent blunders. It is not thus that any seed-corn can be gathered from foreign gardens. Without modest scrutiny, patient study, and observation, he spends his money and goes home, with a new coat perhaps, but a mind befooled rather than instructed. It is necessary to speak the languages of these countries, and know personally some of their inhabitants, in order to form any accurate impressions.

The flight of the Grand Duke of Tuscany followed. In imitation of his great exemplar, he promised and smiled to the last, deceiving Montanelli, the pure and sincere, at the very moment he was about to enter his carriage, into the belief that he persevered in his assent to the liberal movement. His position was certainly very difficult, but he might have left it like a gentleman, like a man of honor. 'T was pity to destroy so lightly the good opinion the Tuscans had of him. Now Tuscany meditates union with Rome.

Meanwhile, Charles Albert is filled with alarm. He is indeed betwixt two fires. Gioberti has published one of his prolix, weak addresses, in which, he says, that in the beginning of every revolution one must fix a limit beyond which he will not go; that, for himself, he has done it,—others are passing beyond his mark, and he will not go any farther. Of the want of thought, of insight into historic and all other truths, which distinguishes the "illustrious Gioberti," this assumption is a specimen. But it makes no difference; he and his prince must go, sooner or later, if the movement continues, nor is there any prospect of its being stayed unless by foreign intervention. This the Pope has not yet, it is believed, solicited, but there is little reason to hope he will be spared that crowning disgrace. He has already consented to the incitement of civil war. Should an intervention be solicited, all depends on France. Will she basely forfeit every pledge and every duty, to say nothing of her true interest? It seems that her President stands doubtful, intending to do what is for his particular interest; but if his interest proves opposed to the republican principle, will France suffer herself again to be hoodwinked and enslaved? It is impossible to know, she has already shown such devotion to the mere prestige of a name.

[pg 361]

On England no dependence can be placed. She is guided by no great idea; her Parliamentary leaders sneer at sentimental policy, and the "jargon" of ideas. She will act, as always, for her own interest; and the interest of her present government is becoming more and more the crushing of the democratic tendency. They are obliged to do it at home, both in the back and the front parlor; it would not be decent as yet to have a Spielberg just at home for obstreperous patriots, but England has so many ships, it is just as easy to transport them to a safe distance. Then the Church of England, so long an enemy to the Church of Rome, feels a decided interest with it on the subject of temporal possessions. The rich English traveller, fearing to see the Prince Borghese stripped of one of his palaces for a hospital or some such low use, thinks of his own twenty-mile park and the crowded village of beggars at its gate, and muses: "I hope to see them all shot yet, these rascally republicans."

How I wish my country would show some noble sympathy when an experience so like her own is going on. Politically she cannot interfere; but formerly, when Greece and Poland were struggling, they were at least aided by private contributions. Italy, naturally so rich, but long racked and impoverished by her oppressors, greatly needs money to arm and clothe her troops. Some token of sympathy, too, from America would be so welcome to her now. If there were a circle of persons inclined to trust such to me, I might venture to promise the trust should be used to the advantage of Italy. It would make me proud to have my country show a religious faith in the progress of ideas, and make some small sacrifice of its own great resources in aid of a sister cause, now.

But I must close this letter, which it would be easy to swell to a volume from the materials in my mind. One or two traits of the hour I must note. Mazzarelli, chief of the present ministry, was a prelate, and named spontaneously by the Pope before his flight. He has shown entire and frank intrepidity. He has laid aside the title of Monsignor, and appears before the world as a layman.

[pg 362]

Nothing can be more tranquil than has been the state of Rome all winter. Every wile has been used by the Oscurantists to excite the people, but their confidence in their leaders could not be broken. A little mutiny in the troops, stimulated by letters from their old leaders, was quelled in a moment. The day after the proclamation of the Republic, some zealous ignoramuses insulted the carriages that appeared with servants in livery. The ministry published a grave admonition, that democracy meant liberty, not license, and that he who infringed upon an innocent freedom of action in others must be declared traitor to his country. Every act of the kind ceased instantly. An intimation that it was better not to throw large comfits or oranges during the Carnival, as injuries have thus been sometimes caused, was obeyed with equal docility.

On Sunday last, placards affixed in the high places summoned the city to invest Giuseppe Mazzini with the rights of a Roman citizen. I have not yet heard the result. The Pope made Rossi a Roman citizen; he was suffered to retain that title only one day. It was given him on the 14th of November, he died the 15th. Mazzini enters Rome at any rate, for the first time in his life, as deputy to the Constitutional Assembly; it would be a noble poetic justice, if he could enter also as a Roman citizen.

February 24.

The Austrians have invaded Ferrara, taken $200,000 and six hostages, and retired. This step is, no doubt, intended to determine whether France will resent the insult, or whether she will betray Italy. It shows also the assurance of the Austrian that the Pope will approve of an armed intervention. Probably before I write again these matters will reach some decided crisis.

[pg 363]

 

LETTER XXIX.

The Roman Republic.—Charles Albert a Traitor.—Fall of Gioberti.—Mazzini.—His Character.—His Address to the People.—His Oratory.—American Artists.—Brown, Terry, and Freeman.—Hicks and his Pictures.—Cropsey and Cranch contrasted.—American Landscape Paintings.—Sculptors.—Story's "Fisher Boy."—Mozier's "Pocahontas."—Greenough's Group.—Powers's "Slave."—The Equestrian Statue of Washington.—Crawford's Design.—Trials of the Artist.—American Patrons of Art.—Expenses of Artist Life.—A German Sculptor.—Overbeck and his Paintings.—Festival of Fried Rice.—An Ave Maria.

Rome, March 20, 1849.

The Roman Republic moves on better than could have been expected. There are great difficulties about money, necessarily, as the government, so beset with trials and dangers, cannot command confidence in that respect. The solid coin has crept out of the country or lies hid, and in the use of paper there are the corresponding inconveniences. But the poor, always the chief sufferers from such a state of things, are wonderfully patient, and I doubt not that the new form, if Italy could be left to itself, would be settled for the advantage of all. Tuscany would soon be united with Rome, and to the Republic of Central Italy, no longer broken asunder by petty restrictions and sacrificed to the interests of a few persons, would come that prosperity natural to a region so favored by nature.

Could Italy be left alone! But treacherous, selfish men at home strive to betray, and foes threaten her from without on every side. Even France, her natural ally, promises to prove foolishly and basely faithless. The dereliction from principle of her government seems certain, and thus far the nation, despite the remonstrance of a few worthy men, gives no sign of effective protest. [pg 364] There would be little hope for Italy, were not the thrones of her foes in a tottering state, their action liable at every moment to be distracted by domestic difficulties. The Austrian government seems as destitute of support from the nation as is possible for a government to be, and the army is no longer what it was, being made up so largely of new recruits. The Croats are uncertain in their adhesion, the war in Hungary likely to give them much to do; and if the Russian is called in, the rest of Europe becomes hostile. All these circumstances give Italy a chance she otherwise could not have; she is in great measure unfurnished with arms and money; her king in the South is a bloody, angry, well-armed foe; her king in the North, a proved traitor. Charles Albert has now declared, war because he could not do otherwise; but his sympathies are in fact all against liberty; the splendid lure that he might become king of Italy glitters no more; the Republicans are in the ascendant, and he may well doubt, should the stranger be driven out, whether Piedmont could escape the contagion. Now, his people insisting on war, he has the air of making it with a good grace; but should he be worsted, probably he will know some loophole by which to steal out. The rat will get out and leave the lion in the trap.

The "illustrious Gioberti" has fallen,—fallen for ever from his high scaffold of words. His demerits were too unmistakable for rhetoric to hide. That he sympathized with the Pope rather than the Roman people, and could not endure to see him stripped of his temporal power, no one could blame in the author of the Primato. That he refused the Italian General Assembly, if it was to be based on the so-called Montanelli system instead of his own, might be conviction, or it might be littleness and vanity. But that he privily planned, without even adherence of the council of ministers, an armed intervention of the Piedmontese troops in Tuscany, thus willing to cause civil war, and, at this great moment, to see Italian blood shed by Italian hands, was treachery. I think, indeed, he has been probably made the scape-goat in that affair; that Charles Albert planned the measure, and, finding himself unable to carry it out, in consequence of the vigilance and [pg 365] indignant opposition of the Chamber of Deputies, was somewhat consoled by making it an occasion to victimize the "Illustrious," whom four weeks before the people had forced him to accept as his minister.

Now the name of Gioberti is erased from the corners of the streets to which it was affixed a year ago; he is stripped of all his honorary degrees, and proclaimed an unworthy son of the country. Mazzini is the idol of the people. "Soon to be hunted out," sneered the sceptical American. Possibly yes; for no man is secure of his palm till the fight is over. The civic wreath may be knocked from his head a hundred times in the ardor of the contest. No matter, if he can always keep the forehead pure and lofty, as will Mazzini.

In thinking of Mazzini, I always remember Petrarch's invocation to Rienzi. Mazzini comes at a riper period in the world's history, with the same energy of soul, but of purer temper and more enlarged views to answer them.

I do not know whether I mentioned a kind of poetical correspondence about Mazzini and Rossi. Rossi was also an exile for liberal principles, but he did not value his birthright; he alienated it, and as a French citizen became peer of France and representative of Louis Philippe in Italy. When, with the fatuity of those whom the gods have doomed to perish, Pius IX. took the representative of the fallen Guizot policy for his minister, he made him a Roman citizen. He was proclaimed such on the 14th of November. On the 15th he perished, before he could enter the parliament he had called. He fell at the door of the Cancelleria when it was sitting.

Mazzini, in his exile, remained absolutely devoted to his native country. Because, though feeling as few can that the interests of humanity in all nations are identical, he felt also that, born of a race so suffering, so much needing devotion and energy, his first duty was to that. The only powers he acknowledged were God and the People, the special scope of his acts the unity and independence of Italy. Rome was the theme of his thoughts, but, very early exiled, he had never seen that home to which all the [pg 366] orphans of the soul so naturally turn. Now he entered it as a Roman citizen, elected representative of the people by universal suffrage. His motto, Dio e Popolo, is put upon the coin with the Roman eagle; unhappily this first-issued coin is of brass, or else of silver, with much alloy. Dii, avertite omen, and may peaceful days turn it all to pure gold!

On his first entrance to the house, Mazzini, received with fervent applause and summoned, to take his place beside the President, spoke as follows:—

"It is from me, colleagues, that should come these tokens of applause, these tokens of affection, because the little good I have not done, but tried to do, has come to me from Rome. Rome was always a sort of talisman for me; a youth, I studied the history of Italy, and found, while all the other nations were born, grew up, played their part in the world, then fell to reappear no more in the same power, a single city was privileged by God to die only to rise again greater than before, to fulfil a mission greater than the first. I saw the Rome of the Empire extend her conquests from the confines of Africa to the confines of Asia. I saw Rome perish, crushed by the barbarians, by those whom even yet the world, calls barbarians. I saw her rise again, after having chased away these same barbarians, reviving in its sepulchre the germ of Civilization. I saw her rise more great for conquest, not with arms, but with words,—rise in the name of the Popes to repeat her grand mission. I said in my heart, the city which alone in the world has had two grand lives, one greater than the other, will have a third. After the Rome which wrought by conquest of arms, the Rome which wrought by conquest of words, must come a third which shall work by virtue of example. After the Rome of the Emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, will come the Rome of the People. The Rome of the People is arisen; do not salute with applauses, but let us rejoice together! I cannot promise anything for myself, except concurrence in all you shall do for the good of Rome, of Italy, of mankind. Perhaps we shall have to pass through great crises; perhaps we shall have to fight a sacred battle against the only enemy that threatens [pg 367] us,—Austria. We will fight it, and we will conquer. I hope, please God, that foreigners may not be able to say any more that which so many of them repeat to-day, speaking of our affairs,—that the light which, comes from Rome is only an ignis fatuus wandering among the tombs. The world shall see that it is a starry light, eternal, pure, and resplendent as those we look up to in the heavens!"

On a later day he spoke more fully of the difficulties that threaten at home the young republic, and said:—

"Let us not hear of Right, of Left, of Centre; these terms express the three powers in a constitutional monarchy; for us they have no meaning; the only divisions for us are of Republicans or non-Republicans,—or of sincere men and temporizing men. Let us not hear so much of the Republicans of to-day and of yesterday; I am a Republican of twenty years' standing. Entertaining such hopes for Italy, when many excellent, many sincere men held them as Utopian, shall I denounce these men because they are now convinced of their practicability?"

This last I quote from memory. In hearing the gentle tone of remonstrance with those of more petty mind, or influenced by the passions of the partisan, I was forcibly reminded of the parable by Jesus, of the vineyard and the discontent of the laborers that those who came at the eleventh hour "received also a penny." Mazzini also is content that all should fare alike as brethren, if only they will come into the vineyard. He is not an orator, but the simple conversational tone of his address is in refreshing contrast with the boyish rhetoric and academic swell common to Italian speakers in the present unfledged state. As they have freer use of the power of debate, they will become more simple and manly. The speech of Mazzini is laden with thought,—it goes straight to the mark by the shortest path, and moves without effort, from the irresistible impression of deep conviction and fidelity in the speaker. Mazzini is a man of genius, an elevated thinker; but the most powerful and first impression from his presence must always be of the religion of his soul, of his virtue, both in the modern and antique sense of that word.

[pg 368]

If clearness of right, if energy, if indefatigable perseverance, can steer the ship through this dangerous pass, it will be done. He said, "We will conquer"; whether Rome will, this time, is not to me certain, but such men as Mazzini conquer always,—conquer in defeat. Yet Heaven grant that no more blood, no more corruption of priestly government, be for Italy. It could only be for once more, for the strength, of her present impulse would not fail to triumph at last; but even one more trial seems too intolerably much, when I think of the holocaust of the broken hearts, baffled lives, that must attend it.

But enough of politics for the present; this letter goes by private hand, and, as news, will be superseded before it can arrive.

Let me rather take the opportunity to say some things that I have let lie by, while writing of political events. Especially of our artists I wish to say something. I know many of thorn, if not all, and see with pleasure our young country so fairly represented.

Among the painters I saw of Brown only two or three pictures at the exhibition in Florence; they were coarse, flashy things. I was told he could do better; but a man who indulges himself with such, coarse sale-work cannot surely do well at any time.

The merits of Terry and Freeman are not my merits; they are beside both favorites in our country, and have a sufficient number of pictures there for every one to judge. I am no connoisseur as regards the technical merits of paintings; it is only poetic invention, or a tender feeling of nature, which captivates me.

Terry loves grace, and consciously works from the model. The result is a pleasing transposition of the hues of this clime. But the design of the picture is never original, nor is it laden with any message from, the heart. Of Freeman I know less; as the two or three pictures of his that I have seen never interested me. I have not visited his studio.

Of Hicks I think very highly. He is a man of ideas, an original observer, and with a poetic heart. His system of coloring is derived from a thoughtful study, not a mere imitation of nature, and shows the fineness of his organization. Struggling unaided [pg 369] to pursue the expensive studies of his art, he has had only a small studio, and received only orders for little cabinet pictures. Could, he carry out adequately his ideas, in him would be found the treasure of genius. He has made the drawings for a large picture of many figures; the design is original and noble, the grouping highly effective. Could he paint this picture, I believe it would be a real boon to the lovers of art, the lovers of truth. I hope very much that, when he returns to the United States, some competent patron of art—one of the few who have mind as well as purse—will see the drawings and order the picture. Otherwise he cannot paint it, as the expenses attendant on models for so many figures, &c. are great, and the time demanded could not otherwise be taken from the claims of the day.

Among landscape painters Cropsey and Cranch have the true artist spirit. In faculties, each has what the other wants. Cropsey is a reverent and careful student of nature in detail; it is no pedantry, but a true love he has, and his pictures are full of little, gentle signs of intimacy. They please and touch; but yet in poetic feeling of the heart of nature he is not equal to Cranch, who produces fine effects by means more superficial, and, on examination, less satisfactory. Each might take somewhat from the other to advantage, could he do it without diminishing his own original dower. Both are artists of high promise, and deserve to be loved and cherished by a country which may, without presumption, hope to carry landscape painting to a pitch of excellence unreached before. For the historical painter, the position with us is, for many reasons, not favorable; but there is no bar in the way of the landscape painter, and fate, bestowing such a prodigality of subject, seems to give us a hint not to be mistaken. I think the love of landscape painting is genuine in our nation, and as it is a branch of art where achievement has been comparatively low, we may not unreasonably suppose it has been left for us. I trust it will be undertaken in the highest spirit. Nature, it seems to me, reveals herself more freely in our land; she is true, virgin, and confiding,—she smiles upon the vision of a true Endymion. I hope to see, not only copies upon canvas of our magnificent scenes, but a transfusion of the spirit which is their divinity.

[pg 370]

Then why should the American landscape painter come to Italy? cry many. I think, myself, he ought not to stay here very long. Yet a few years' study is precious, for here Nature herself has worked with man, as if she wanted to help him in the composition of pictures. The ruins of Italy, in their varied relations with vegetation and the heavens, make speeches from every stone for instruction of the artist; the greatest variety here is found with the greatest harmony. To know how this union may be accomplished is a main secret of art, and though the coloring is not the same, yet he who has the key to its mysteries of beauty is the more initiated to the same in other climates, and will easily attune afresh his more instructed eye and mind to the contemplation of that which moulded his childhood.

I may observe of the two artists I have named, that Cranch has entered more into the spirit of Italian landscape, while Cropsey is still more distinguished on subjects such as he first loved. He seemed to find the Scotch lake and mountain scenery very congenial; his sketches and pictures taken from a short residence there are impressive. Perhaps a melancholy or tender subject suits him best; something rich, bold, and mellow is more adapted to call out the genius of Cranch.

Among the sculptors new names rise up, to show that this is decidedly a province for hope in America. I look upon this as the natural talent of an American, and have no doubt that glories will be displayed by our sculptors unknown to classic art. The facts of our history, ideal and social, will be grand and of new import; it is perfectly natural to the American to mould in clay and carve in stone. The permanence of material and solid, relief in the forms correspond to the positiveness of his nature better than the mere ephemeral and even tricky methods of the painter,—to his need of motion and action, better than the chambered scribbling of the poet. He will thus record his best experiences, and these records will adorn the noble structures that must naturally arise for the public uses of our society.

It is particularly gratifying to see men that might amass far more money and attain more temporary power in other things, [pg 371] despise those lower lures, too powerful in our country, and aim only at excellence in the expression of thought. Among these I may mention Story and Mozier. Story has made in Florence the model for a statue of his father. This I have not seen, but two statuettes that he modelled here from the "Fisher" of Goethe pleased me extremely. The languid, meditative reverie of the boy, the morbid tenderness of his nature, is most happily expressed in the first, as is the fascinated surrender to the siren murmur of tire flood in the second. He has taken the moment

"Half drew she him; half sank he in," &c.

I hope some one will give him an order to make them in marble. Mozier seemed to have an immediate success. The fidelity and spirit of his portrait-busts could be appreciated by every one; for an ideal head of Pocahontas, too, he had at once orders for many copies. It was not an Indian head, but, in the union of sweetness and strength with a princelike, childlike dignity, very happily expressive of his idea of her character. I think he has modelled a Rebecca at the Well, but this I did not see.

These have already a firm hold on the affections of our people; every American who comes to Italy visits their studios, and speaks of them with pride, as indeed they well may, in comparing them with artists of other nations. It will not be long before you see Greenough's group; it is in spirit a pendant to Cooper's novels. I confess I wish he had availed himself of the opportunity to immortalize the real noble Indian in marble. This is only the man of the woods,—no Metamora, no Uncas. But the group should be very instructive to our people.

You seem as crazy about Powers's Greek Slave as the Florentines were about Cimabue's Madonnas, in which we still see the spark of genius, but not fanned to its full flame. If your enthusiasm be as genuine as that of the lively Florentines, we will not quarrel with it; but I am afraid a great part is drawing-room rapture and newspaper echo. Genuine enthusiasm, however crude the state of mind from which it springs, always elevates, always educates; but in the same proportion talking and writing [pg 372] for effect stultifies and debases. I shall not judge the adorers of the Greek Slave, but only observe, that they have not kept in reserve any higher admiration for works even now extant, which are, in comparison with that statue, what that statue is compared with any weeping marble on a common monument.

I consider the Slave as a form of simple and sweet beauty, but that neither as an ideal expression nor a specimen of plastic power is it transcendent. Powers stands far higher in his busts than in any ideal statue. His conception of what is individual in character is clear and just, his power of execution almost unrivalled; but he has had a lifetime of discipline for the bust, while his studies on the human body are comparatively limited; nor is his treatment of it free and masterly. To me, his conception of subject is not striking: I do not consider him rich in artistic thought.

He, no less than Greenough and Crawford, would feel it a rich reward for many labors, and a happy climax to their honors, to make an equestrian statue of Washington for our country. I wish they might all do it, as each would show a different kind of excellence. To present the man on horseback, the wise centaur, the tamer of horses, may well be deemed a high achievement of modern, as it was of ancient art. The study of the anatomy and action of the horse, so rich in suggestions, is naturally most desirable to the artist; happy he who, obliged by the brevity of life and the limitations of fortune, to make his studies conform to his "orders," finds himself justified by a national behest in entering on this department.

At home one gets callous about the character of Washington, from a long experience of Fourth of July bombast in his praise. But seeing the struggles of other nations, and the deficiencies of the leaders who try to sustain them, the heart is again stimulated, and puts forth buds of praise. One appreciates the wonderful combination of events and influences that gave our independence so healthy a birth, and the almost miraculous merits of the men who tended its first motions. In the combination of excellences needed at such a period with the purity and modesty which dignify the private man in the humblest station, Washington as yet [pg 373] stands alone. No country has ever had such a good future; no other is so happy as to have a pattern of spotless worth which will remain in her latest day venerable as now.

Surely, then, that form should be immortalized in material solid as its fame; and, happily for the artist, that form was of natural beauty and dignity, and he who places him on horseback simply represents his habitual existence. Everything concurs to make an equestrian statue of Washington desirable.

The dignified way to manage that affair would be to have a committee chosen of impartial judges, men who would look only to the merits of the work and the interests of the country, unbiassed by any personal interest in favor of some one artist. It is said it is impossible to find such a committee, but I cannot believe it. Let there be put aside the mean squabbles and jealousies, the vulgar pushing of unworthy friends, with which, unhappily, the artist's career seems more rife than any other, and a fair concurrence established; let each artist offer his design for an equestrian statue of Washington, and let the best have the preference.

Mr. Crawford has made a design which he takes with him to America, and which, I hope, will be generally seen. He has represented Washington in his actual dress; a figure of Fame, winged, presents the laurel and civic wreath; his gesture declines them; he seems to say, "For me the deed is enough,—I need no badge, no outward, token in reward."

This group has no insipid, allegorical air, as might be supposed; and its composition is very graceful, simple, and harmonious. The costume is very happily managed. The angel figure is draped, and with, the liberty-cap, which, as a badge both of ancient and modern times, seems to connect the two figures, and in an artistic point of view balances well the cocked hat; there is a similar harmony between the angel's wings and the extremities of the horse. The action of the winged figure induces a natural and spirited action of the horse and rider. I thought of Goethe's remark, that a fine work of art will always have, at a distance, where its details cannot be discerned, a beautiful effect, as of architectural ornament, and that this excellence the groups of [pg 374] Raphael share with the antique. He would have been pleased with the beautiful balance of forms in this group, with the freedom with which light and air play in and out, the management of the whole being clear and satisfactory at the first glance. But one should go into a great number of studies, as you can in Rome or Florence, and see the abundance of heavy and inharmonious designs to appreciate the merits of this; anything really good seems so simple and so a matter of course to the unpractised observer.

Some say the Americans will not want a group, but just the fact; the portrait of Washington riding straight onward, like Marcus Aurelius, or making an address, or lifting his sword. I do not know about that,—it is a matter of feeling. This winged figure not only gives a poetic sense to the group, but a natural support and occasion for action to the horse and rider. Uncle Sam must send Major Downing to look at it, and then, if he wants other designs, let him establish a concurrence, as I have said, and choose what is best. I am not particularly attached to Mr. Greenough, Mr. Powers, or Mr. Crawford. I admire various excellences in the works of each, and should be glad if each received an order for an equestrian statue. Nor is there any reason why they should not. There is money enough in the country, and the more good things there are for the people to see freely in open daylight, the better. That makes artists germinate.

I love the artists, though I cannot speak of their works in a way to content their friends, or even themselves, often. Who can, that has a standard of excellence in the mind, and a delicate conscience in the use of words? My highest tribute is meagre of superlatives in comparison with the hackneyed puffs with which artists submit to be besmeared. Submit? alas! often they court them, rather. I do not expect any kindness from my contemporaries. I know that what is to me justice and honor is to them only a hateful coldness. Still I love them, I wish for their good, I feel deeply for their sufferings, annoyances, privations, and would lessen them if I could. I have thought it might perhaps be of use to publish some account of the expenses of the artist. There is a general impression, that the artist lives very cheaply in [pg 375] Italy. This is a mistake. Italy, compared with America, is not so very cheap, except for those who have iron constitutions to endure bad food, eaten in bad air, damp and dirty lodgings. The expenses, even in Florence, of a simple but clean and wholesome life, are little less than in New York. The great difference is for people that are rich. An Englishman of rank and fortune does not need the same amount of luxury as at home, to be on a footing with the nobles of Italy. The Broadway merchant would find his display of mahogany and carpets thrown away in a country where a higher kind of ornament is the only one available. But poor people, who can, at any rate, buy only the necessaries of life, will find them in the Italian cities, where all sellers live by cheating foreigners, very little cheaper than in America.

The patrons of Art in America, ignorant of these facts, and not knowing the great expenses which attend the study of Art and the production of its wonders, are often guilty of most undesigned cruelty, and do things which it would grieve their hearts to have done, if they only knew the facts. They have read essays on the uses of adversity in developing genius, and they are not sufficiently afraid to administer a dose of adversity beyond what the forces of the patient can bear. Laudanum in drops is useful as a medicine, but a cupful kills downright.

Beside this romantic idea about letting artists suffer to develop their genius, the American Mæcenas is not sufficiently aware of the expenses attendant on producing the work he wants. He does not consider that the painter, the sculptor, must be paid for the time he spends in designing and moulding, no less than in painting and carving; that he must have his bread and sleeping-house, his workhouse or studio, his marbles and colors,—the sculptor his workmen; so that if the price be paid he asks, a modest and delicate man very commonly receives no guerdon for his thought,—the real essence of the work,—except the luxury of seeing it embodied, which he could not otherwise have afforded, The American Mæcenas often pushes the price down, not from want of generosity, but from a habit of making what are called good bargains,—i.e. bargains for one's own advantage at the [pg 376] expense of a poorer brother. Those who call these good do not believe that

"Mankind is one,

And beats with one great heart."

They have not read the life of Jesus Christ.

Then the American Mæcenas sometimes, after ordering a work, has been known to change his mind when the statue is already modelled. It is the American who does these things, because an American, who either from taste or vanity buys a picture, is often quite uneducated as to the arts, and cannot understand why a little picture or figure costs so much money. The Englishman or Frenchman, of a suitable position to seek these adornments for his house, usually understands better than the visitor of Powers who, on hearing the price of the Proserpine, wonderingly asked, "Isn't statuary riz lately?" Queen Victoria of England, and her Albert, it is said, use their royal privilege to get works of art at a price below their value; but their subjects would be ashamed to do so.

To supply means of judging to the American merchant (full of kindness and honorable sympathy as beneath the crust he so often is) who wants pictures and statues, not merely from ostentation, but as means of delight and improvement to himself and his friends, who has a soul to respect the genius and desire the happiness of the artist, and who, if he errs, does so from ignorance of the circumstances, I give the following memorandum, made at my desire by an artist, my neighbor:—

"The rent of a suitable studio for modelling in clay and executing statues in marble may be estimated at $200 a year.

"The best journeyman carver in marble at Rome receives $60 a month. Models are paid $1 a day.

"The cost of marble varies according to the size of the block, being generally sold by the cubic palm, a square of nine inches English. As a general guide regarding the prices established among the higher sculptors of Rome, I may mention that for a statue of life-size the demand is from $1,000 to $5,000, varying according to the composition of the figure and the number of accessories.

[pg 377]

"It is a common belief in the United States, that a student of Art can live in Italy and pursue his studies on an income of $300 or $400 a year. This is a lamentable error; the Russian government allows its pensioners $700, which is scarcely sufficient. $1,000 per annum should be placed at the disposal of every young artist leaving our country for Europe."

Let it be remembered, in addition to considerations inevitable from this memorandum, that an artist may after years and months of uncheered and difficult toil, after he has gone through the earlier stages of an education, find it too largely based, and of aim too high, to finish in this world.

The Prussian artist here on my left hand learned not only his art, but reading and writing, after he was thirty. A farmer's son, he was allowed no freedom to learn anything till the death of the head of the house left him a beggar, but set him free; he walked to Berlin, distant several hundred miles, attracted by his first works some attention, and received some assistance in money, earned more by invention of a ploughshare, walked to Rome, struggled through every privation, and has now a reputation which has secured him the means of putting his thoughts into marble. True, at forty-nine years of age he is still severely poor; he cannot marry, because he cannot maintain a family; but he is cheerful, because he can work in his own way, trusts with childlike reliance in God, and is still sustained by the vigorous health he won laboring in his father's fields. Not every man could continue to work, circumstanced as he is, at the end of the half-century. For him the only sad thing in my mind is that his works are not worth working, though of merit in composition and execution, yet ideally a product of the galvanized piety of the German school, more mutton-like than lamb-like to my unchurched eyes.

You are likely to have a work to look at in the United States by the great master of that school, Overbeck; Mr. Perkins of Boston, who knows how to spend his money with equal generosity and discretion, having bought his "Wise and Foolish Virgins." It will be precious to the country from great artistic merits. As to the spirit, "blessed are the poor in spirit." That [pg 378] kind of severity is, perhaps has become, the nature of Overbeck. He seems like a monk, but a really pious and pure one. This spirit is not what I seek; I deem it too narrow for our day, but being deeply sincere in him, its expression is at times also deeply touching. Barabbas borne in triumph, and the child Jesus, who, playing with his father's tools, has made himself a cross, are subjects best adapted for expression of this spirit.

I have written too carelessly,—much writing hath made me mad of late. Forgive if the "style be not neat, terse, and sparkling," if there be naught of the "thrilling," if the sentences seem not "written with a diamond pen," like all else that is published in America. Some time I must try to do better. For this time

"Forgive my faults; forgive my virtues too."

March 21.

Day before yesterday was the Feast of St. Joseph. He is supposed to have acquired a fondness for fried rice-cakes during his residence in Egypt. Many are eaten in the open street, in arbors made for the occasion. One was made beneath my window, on Piazza Barberini. All the day and evening men, cleanly dressed in white aprons and liberty caps, quite new, of fine, red cloth, were frying cakes for crowds of laughing, gesticulating customers. It rained a little, and they held an umbrella over the frying-pan, but not over themselves. The arbor is still there, and little children are playing in and out of it; one still lesser runs in its leading-strings, followed by the bold, gay nurse, to the brink of the fountain, after its orange which has rolled before it. Tenerani's workmen are coming out of his studio, the priests are coming home from Ponte Pio, the Contadini beginning to play at moro, for the setting sun has just lit up the magnificent range of windows in the Palazzo Barberini, and then faded tenderly, sadly away, and the mellow bells have chimed the Ave Maria. Rome looks as Roman, that is to say as tranquil, as ever, despite the trouble that tugs at her heart-strings. There is a report that Mazzini is to be made Dictator, as Manin is in Venice, for a short time, so as to provide hastily and energetically for the war. Ave Maria Sanissima! [pg 379] when thou didst gaze on thy babe with such infinite hope, thou didst not dream that, so many ages after, blood would be shed and curses uttered in his name. Madonna Addolorata! hadst thou not hoped peace and good-will would spring from his bloody woes, couldst thou have borne those hours at the foot of the cross. O Stella! woman's heart of love, send yet a ray of pure light on this troubled deep?

[pg 380]

 

LETTER XXX.

The Struggle in Rome.—Position of the French.—The Austrians.—Feeling of the Roman People.—The French Troops.—Effects of War.—Hospitals.—The Princess Belgioioso.—Position of Mr. Cass as Envoy.—Difficulties and Suggestions.—America and Rome.—Reflections on the Eternal City.—The French: The People.

Rome, May 27, 1849.

I have suspended writing in the expectation of some decisive event; but none such comes yet. The French, entangled in a web of falsehood, abashed by a defeat that Oudinot has vainly tried to gloss over, the expedition disowned by all honorable men at home, disappointed at Gaëta, not daring to go the length Papal infatuation demands, know not what to do. The Neapolitans have been decidedly driven back into their own borders, the last time in a most shameful rout, their king flying in front. We have heard for several days that the Austrians were advancing, but they come not. They also, it is probable, meet with unexpected embarrassments. They find that the sincere movement of the Italian people is very unlike that of troops commanded by princes and generals who never wished to conquer and were always waiting to betray. Then their troubles at home are constantly increasing, and, should the Russian intervention quell these to-day, it is only to raise a storm far more terrible to-morrow.

The struggle is now fairly, thoroughly commenced between the principle of democracy and the old powers, no longer legitimate. That struggle may last fifty years, and the earth be watered with the blood and tears of more than one generation, but the result is sure. All Europe, including Great Britain, where the most bitter resistance of all will be made, is to be under republican government in the next century.

"God moves in a mysterious way."

[pg 381]

Every struggle made by the old tyrannies, all their Jesuitical deceptions, their rapacity, their imprisonments and executions of the most generous men, only sow more dragon's teeth; the crop shoots up daily more and more plenteous.

When I first arrived in Italy, the vast majority of this people had no wish beyond limited monarchies, constitutional governments. They still respected the famous names of the nobility; they despised the priests, but were still fondly attached to the dogmas and ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. It required King Bomba, the triple treachery of Charles Albert, Pius IX., and the "illustrious Gioberti," the naturally kind-hearted, but, from the necessity of his position, cowardly and false Leopold of Tuscany, the vagabond "serene" meannesses of Parma and Modena, the "fatherly" Radetzsky, and, finally, the imbecile Louis Bonaparte, "would-be Emperor of France," to convince this people that no transition is possible between the old and the new. The work is done; the revolution in Italy is now radical, nor can it stop till Italy becomes independent and united as a republic. Protestant she already is, and though the memory of saints and martyrs may continue to be revered, the ideal of woman to be adored under the name of Mary, yet Christ will now begin to be a little thought of; his idea has always been kept carefully out of sight under the old régime; all the worship being for the Madonna and saints, who were to be well paid for interceding for sinners;—an example which might make men cease to be such, was no way coveted. Now the New Testament has been translated into Italian; copies are already dispersed far and wide; men calling themselves Christians will no longer be left entirely ignorant of the precepts and life of Jesus.

The people of Rome have burnt the Cardinals' carriages. They took the confessionals out of the churches, and made mock confessions in the piazzas, the scope of which was, "I have sinned, father, so and so." "Well, my son, how much will you pay to the Church for absolution?" Afterward the people thought of burning the confessionals, or using them for barricades; but at the request of the Triumvirate they desisted, and even put them back [pg 382] into the churches. But it was from no reaction of feeling that they stopped short, only from respect for the government. The "Tartuffe" of Molière has been translated into Italian, and was last night performed with great applause at the Valle. Can all this be forgotten? Never! Should guns and bayonets replace the Pope on the throne, he will find its foundations, once deep as modern civilization, now so undermined that it falls with the least awkward movement.

But I cannot believe he will be replaced there. France alone could consummate that crime,—that, for her, most cruel, most infamous treason. The elections in France will decide. In three or four days we shall know whether the French nation at large be guilty or no,—whether it be the will of the nation to aid or strive to ruin a government founded on precisely the same basis as their own.

I do not dare to trust that people. The peasant is yet very ignorant. The suffering workman is frightened as he thinks of the punishments that ensued on the insurrections of May and June. The man of property is full of horror at the brotherly scope of Socialism. The aristocrat dreams of the guillotine always when he hears men speak of the people. The influence of the Jesuits is still immense in France. Both in France and England the grossest falsehoods have been circulated with unwearied diligence about the state of things in Italy. An amusing specimen of what is still done in this line I find just now in a foreign journal, where it says there are red flags on all the houses of Rome; meaning to imply that the Romans are athirst for blood. Now, the fact is, that these flags are put up at the entrance of those streets where there is no barricade, as a signal to coachmen and horsemen that they can pass freely. There is one on the house where I am, in which is no person but myself, who thirst for peace, and the Padrone, who thirsts for money.

Meanwhile the French troops are encamped at a little distance from Rome. Some attempts at fair and equal treaty when their desire to occupy Rome was firmly resisted, Oudinot describes in his despatches as a readiness for submission. Having tried in [pg 383] vain to gain this point, he has sent to France for fresh orders. These will be decided by the turn the election takes. Meanwhile the French troops are much exposed to the Roman force where they are. Should the Austrians come up, what will they do? Will they shamelessly fraternize with the French, after pretending and proclaiming that they came here as a check upon their aggressions? Will they oppose them in defence of Rome, with which they are at war?

Ah! the way of falsehood, the way of treachery,—how dark, how full of pitfalls and traps! Heaven defend from it all who are not yet engaged therein!

War near at hand seems to me even more dreadful than I had fancied it. True, it tries men's souls, lays bare selfishness in undeniable deformity. Here it has produced much fruit of noble sentiment, noble act; but still it breeds vice too, drunkenness, mental dissipation, tears asunder the tenderest ties, lavishes the productions of Earth, for which her starving poor stretch out their hands in vain, in the most unprofitable manner. And the ruin that ensues, how terrible! Let those who have ever passed happy days in Rome grieve to hear that the beautiful plantations of Villa Borghese—that chief delight and refreshment of citizens, foreigners, and little children—are laid low, as far as the obelisk. The fountain, singing alone amid the fallen groves, cannot be seen and heard without tears; it seems like some innocent infant calling and crowing amid dead bodies on a field which battle has strewn with the bodies of those who once cherished it. The plantations of Villa Salvage on the Tiber, also, the beautiful trees on the way from St. John Lateran to La Maria Maggiore, the trees of the Forum, are fallen. Rome is shorn of the locks which lent grace to her venerable brow. She looks desolate, profaned. I feel what I never expected to,—as if I might by and by be willing to leave Rome.

Then I have, for the first time, seen what wounded men suffer. The night of the 30th of April I passed in the hospital, and saw the terrible agonies of those dying or who needed amputation, felt their mental pains and longing for the loved ones who were [pg 384] away; for many of these were Lombards, who had come from the field of Novarra to fight with a fairer chance,—many were students of the University, who had enlisted and thrown themselves into the front of the engagement. The impudent falsehoods of the French general's despatches are incredible. The French were never decoyed on in any way. They were received with every possible mark of hostility. They were defeated in open field, the Garibaldi legion rushing out to meet them; and though they suffered much from the walls, they sustained themselves nowhere. They never put up a white flag till they wished to surrender. The vanity that strives to cover over these facts is unworthy of men. The only excuse for the imprudent conduct of the expedition is that they were deceived, not by the Romans here, but by the priests of Gaëta, leading them to expect action in their favor within the walls. These priests themselves were deluded by their hopes and old habits of mind. The troops did not fight well, and General Oudinot abandoned his wounded without proper care. All this says nothing against French valor, proved by ages of glory, beyond the doubt of their worst foes. They were demoralized because they fought in so bad a cause, and there was no sincere ardor or clear hope in any breast.

But to return to the hospitals: these were put in order, and have been kept so, by the Princess Belgioioso. The princess was born of one of the noblest families of the Milanese, a descendant of the great Trivalzio, and inherited a large fortune. Very early she compromised it in liberal movements, and, on their failure, was obliged to fly to Paris, where for a time she maintained herself by writing, and I think by painting also. A princess so placed naturally excited great interest, and she drew around her a little court of celebrated men. After recovering her fortune, she still lived in Paris, distinguished for her talents and munificence, both toward literary men and her exiled countrymen. Later, on her estate, called Locate, between Pavia and Milan, she had made experiments in the Socialist direction with fine judgment and success. Association for education, for labor, for transaction of household affairs, had been carried on for several years; [pg 385] she had spared no devotion of time and money to this object, loved, and was much beloved by, those objects of her care, and said she hoped to die there. All is now despoiled and broken up, though it may be hoped that some seeds of peaceful reform have been sown which will spring to light when least expected. The princess returned to Italy in 1847-8, full of hope in Pius IX and Charles Albert. She showed her usual energy and truly princely heart, sustaining, at her own expense, a company of soldiers and a journal up to the last sad betrayal of Milan, August 6th. These days undeceived all the people, but few of the noblesse; she was one of the few with mind strong enough to understand the lesson, and is now warmly interested in the republican movement. From Milan she went to France, but, finding it impossible to effect anything serious there in behalf of Italy, returned, and has been in Rome about two months. Since leaving Milan she receives no income, her possessions being in the grasp of Radetzky, and cannot know when, if ever, she will again. But as she worked so largely and well with money, so can she without. She published an invitation to the Roman women to make lint and bandages, and offer their services to the wounded; she put the hospitals in order; in the central one, Trinita de Pellegrini, once the abode where the pilgrims were received during holy week, and where foreigners were entertained by seeing their feet washed by the noble dames and dignitaries of Rome, she has remained day and night since the 30th of April, when the wounded were first there. Some money she procured at first by going through Rome, accompanied by two other ladies veiled, to beg it. Afterward the voluntary contributions were generous; among the rest, I am proud to say, the Americans in Rome gave $250, of which a handsome portion came from Mr. Brown, the Consul.

I value this mark of sympathy more because of the irritation and surprise occasioned here by the position of Mr. Cass, the Envoy. It is most unfortunate that we should have an envoy here for the first time, just to offend and disappoint the Romans. When all the other ambassadors are at Gaëta, ours is in Rome, as if by his presence to discountenance the republican government, which he [pg 386] does not recognize. Mr. Cass, it seems, is required by his instructions not to recognize the government till sure it can be sustained. Now it seems to me that the only dignified ground for our government, the only legitimate ground for any republican government, is to recognize for any nation the government chosen by itself. The suffrage had been correct here, and the proportion of votes to the whole population was much larger, it was said by Americans here, than it is in our own country at the time of contested elections. It had elected an Assembly; that Assembly had appointed, to meet the exigencies of this time, the Triumvirate. If any misrepresentations have induced America to believe, as France affects to have believed, that so large a vote could have been obtained by moral intimidation, the present unanimity of the population in resisting such immense odds, and the enthusiasm of their every expression in favor of the present government, puts the matter beyond a doubt. The Roman people claims once more to have a national existence. It declines further serfdom to an ecclesiastical court. It claims liberty of conscience, of action, and of thought. Should it fall from its present position, it will not be from, internal dissent, but from foreign oppression.

Since this is the case, surely our country, if no other, is bound to recognize the present government so long as it can sustain itself. This position is that to which we have a right: being such, it is no matter how it is viewed by others. But I dare assert it is the only respectable one for our country, in the eyes of the Emperor of Russia himself.

The first, best occasion is past, when Mr. Cass might, had he been empowered to act as Mr. Rush did in France, have morally strengthened the staggering republic, which would have found sympathy where alone it is of permanent value, on the basis of principle. Had it been in vain, what then? America would have acted honorably; as to our being compromised thereby with the Papal government, that fear is idle. Pope and Cardinals have great hopes from America; the giant influence there is kept up with the greatest care; the number of Catholic writers in the United States, too, carefully counted. Had our republican [pg 387] government acknowledged this republican government, the Papal Camarilla would have respected us more, but not loved us less; for have we not the loaves and fishes to give, as well as the precious souls to be saved? Ah! here, indeed, America might go straightforward with all needful impunity. Bishop Hughes himself need not be anxious. That first, best occasion has passed, and the unrecognized, unrecognizing Envoy has given offence, and not comfort, by a presence that seemed constantly to say, I do not think you can sustain yourselves. It has wounded both the heart and the pride of Rome. Some of the lowest people have asked me, "Is it not true that your country had a war to become free?" "Yes." "Then why do they not feel for us?"

Yet even now it is not too late. If America would only hail triumphant, though she could not sustain injured Rome, that would be something. "Can you suppose Rome will triumph," you say, "without money, and against so potent a league of foes?" I am not sure, but I hope, for I believe something in the heart of a people when fairly awakened. I have also a lurking confidence in what our fathers spoke of so constantly, a providential order of things, by which brute force and selfish enterprise are sometimes set at naught by aid which seems to descend from a higher sphere. Even old pagans believed in that, you know; and I was born in America, Christianized by the Puritans,—America, freed by eight years' patient suffering, poverty, and struggle,—America, so cheered in dark days by one spark of sympathy from a foreign shore,—America, first "recognized" by Lafayette. I saw him when traversing our country, then great, rich, and free. Millions of men who owed in part their happiness to what, no doubt, was once sneered at as romantic sympathy, threw garlands in his path. It is natural that I should have some faith.

Send, dear America! to thy ambassadors a talisman precious beyond all that boasted gold of California. Let it loose his tongue to cry, "Long live the Republic, and may God bless the cause of the people, the brotherhood of nations and of men,—equality of rights for all." Viva America!

[pg 388]

Hail to my country! May she live a free, a glorious, a loving life, and not perish, like the old dominions, from, the leprosy of selfishness.

Evening.

I am alone in the ghostly silence of a great house, not long since full of gay faces and echoing with gay voices, now deserted by every one but me,—for almost all foreigners are gone now, driven by force either of the summer heats or the foe. I hear all the Spaniards are going now,—that twenty-one have taken passports to-day; why that is, I do not know.

I shall not go till the last moment; my only fear is of France. I cannot think in any case there would be found men willing to damn themselves to latest posterity by bombarding Rome. Other cities they may treat thus, careless of destroying the innocent and helpless, the babe and old grandsire who cannot war against them. But Rome, precious inheritance of mankind,—will they run the risk of marring her shrined treasures? Would they dare do it?

Two of the balls that struck St. Peter's have been sent to Pius IX. by his children, who find themselves so much less "beloved" than were the Austrians.

These two days, days of solemn festivity in the calends of the Church, have been duly kept, and the population looks cheerful as it swarms through the streets. The order of Rome, thronged as it is with troops, is amazing. I go from one end to the other, and amid the poorest and most barbarous of the population, (barbarously ignorant, I mean,) alone and on foot. My friends send out their little children alone with their nurses. The amount of crime is almost nothing to what it was. The Roman, no longer pent in ignorance and crouching beneath espionage, no longer stabs in the dark. His energies have true vent; his better feelings are roused; he has thrown aside the stiletto. The power here is indeed miraculous, since no doubt still lurk within the walls many who are eager to incite brawls, if only to give an excuse for slander.

To-day I suppose twelve thousand Austrians marched into Florence. The Florentines have humbled and disgraced themselves [pg 389] in vain. They recalled the Grand Duke to ward off the entrance of the Austrians, but in vain went the deputation to Gaëta—in an American steamer! Leopold was afraid to come till his dear cousins of Austria had put everything in perfect order; then the Austrians entered to take Leghorn, but the Florentines still kept on imploring them not to come there; Florence was as subdued, as good as possible, already:—they have had the answer they deserved. Now they crown their work by giving over Guerazzi and Petracci to be tried by an Austrian court-martial. Truly the cup of shame brims over.

I have been out on the balcony to look over the city. All sleeps with that peculiar air of serene majesty known to this city only;—this city that has grown, not out of the necessities of commerce nor the luxuries of wealth, but first out of heroism, then out of faith. Swelling domes, roofs softly tinted with yellow moss! what deep meaning, what deep repose, in your faintly seen outline!

The young moon climbs among clouds,—the clouds of a departing thunderstorm. Tender, smiling moon! can it be that thy full orb may look down on a smoking, smouldering Rome, and see her best blood run along the stones, without one nation in the world to defend, one to aid,—scarce one to cry out a tardy "Shame"? We will wait, whisper the nations, and see if they can bear it. Rack them well to see if they are brave. If they can do without us, we will help them. Is it thus ye would be served in your turn? Beware!

[pg 390]

 

LETTER XXXI.

The French Treason at Rome.—Oudinot.—Lesseps.—Letter of the Triumvirate.—Reply of Lesseps.—Course of Oudinot.—The Wounded Italians.—Garibaldi.—Italian Young Men.—Military Funeral.—Havoc of the Siege.—Courage of Mazzini.—Falseness of the London Times.

Rome, June 10, 1849.

What shall I write of Rome in these sad but glorious days? Plain facts are the best; for my feelings I could not find fit words.

When I last wrote, the French were playing the second act of their farce.

In the first, the French government affected to consult the Assembly. The Assembly, or a majority of the Assembly, affected to believe the pretext it gave, and voted funds for twelve thousand men to go to Civita Vecchia. Arriving there, Oudinot proclaimed that he had come as a friend and brother. He was received as such. Immediately he took possession of the town, disarmed the Roman troops, and published a manifesto in direct opposition to his first declaration.

He sends to Rome that he is coming there as a friend; receives the answer that he is not wanted and cannot be trusted. This answer he chooses to consider as coming from a minority, and advances on Rome. The pretended majority on which he counts never shows itself by a single movement within the walls. He makes an assault, and is defeated. On this subject his despatches to his government are full of falsehoods that would disgrace the lowest pickpocket,—falsehoods which it is impossible he should not know to be such.

The Assembly passed a vote of blame. M. Louis Bonaparte [pg 391] writes a letter of compliment and assurance that this course of violence shall be sustained. In conformity with this promise twelve thousand more troops are sent. This time it is not thought necessary to consult the Assembly. Let us view the

SECOND ACT.

Now appears in Rome M. Ferdinand Lesseps, Envoy, &c. of the French government. He declares himself clothed with full powers to treat with Rome. He cannot conceal his surprise at all he sees there, at the ability with which preparations have been made for defence, at the patriotic enthusiasm which pervades the population. Nevertheless, in beginning his game of treaty-making, he is not ashamed to insist on the French occupying the city. Again and again repulsed, he again and again returns to the charge on this point. And here I shall translate the letter addressed to him by the Triumvirate, both because of its perfect candor of statement, and to give an idea of the sweet and noble temper in which these treacherous aggressions have been met.

LETTER OF THE TRIUMVIRS TO MONSIEUR LESSEPS.

"May 25, 1849.

"We have had the honor, Monsieur, to furnish you, in our note of the 16th, with some information as to the unanimous consent which was given to the formation of the government of the Roman Republic. We to-day would speak to you of the actual question, such as it is debated in fact, if not by right, between the French government and ours. You will allow us to do it with the frankness demanded by the urgency of the situation, as well as the sympathy which ought to govern all relations between France and Italy. Our diplomacy is the truth, and the character given to your mission is a guaranty that the best possible interpretation will be given to what we shall say to you.

"With your permission, we return for an instant to the cause of the present situation of affairs.

"In consequence of conferences and arrangements which took place without the government of the Roman Republic ever being [pg 392] called on to take part, it was some time since decided by the Catholic Powers,—1st. That a modification should take place in the government and institutions of the Roman States; 2d. That this modification should have for basis the return of Pius IX., not as Pope, for to that no obstacle is interposed by us, but as temporal sovereign; 3d. That if, to attain that aim, a continuous intervention was judged necessary, that intervention should take place.

"We are willing to admit, that while for some of the contracting governments the only motive was the hope of a general restoration and absolute return to the treaties of 1815, the French government was drawn into this agreement only in consequence of erroneous information, tending systematically to depict the Roman States as given up to anarchy and governed by terror exercised in the name of an audacious minority. We know also, that, in the modification proposed, the French government intended to represent an influence more or less liberal, opposed to the absolutist programme of Austria and of Naples. It does none the less remain true, that under the Apostolic or constitutional form, with or without liberal guaranties to the Roman people, the dominant thought in all the negotiations to which we allude has been some sort of return toward the past, a compromise between the Roman people and Pius IX. considered as temporal prince.

"We cannot dissemble to ourselves, Monsieur, that the French expedition has been planned and executed under the inspiration of this thought. Its object was, on one side, to throw the sword of France into the balance of negotiations which were to be opened at Rome; on the other, to guarantee the Roman people from the excess of retrograde, but always on condition that it should submit to constitutional monarchy in favor of the Holy Father. This is assured to us partly from information which we believe we possess as to the concert with Austria; from the proclamations of General Oudinot; from the formal declarations made by successive envoys to the Triumvirate; from the silence obstinately maintained whenever we have sought to approach the political question and obtain a formal declaration of the fact [pg 393] proved in our note of the 16th, that the institutions by which the Roman people are governed at this time are the free and spontaneous expression of the wish of the people inviolable when legally ascertained. For the rest, the vote of the French Assembly sustains implicitly the fact that we affirm.

"In such a situation, under the menace of an inadmissible compromise, and of negotiations which the state of our people no way provoked, our part, Monsieur, could not be doubtful. To resist,—we owed this to our country, to France, to all Europe. We ought, in fulfilment of a mandate loyally given, loyally accepted, maintain to our country the inviolability, so far as that was possible to us, of its territory, and of the institutions decreed by all the powers, by all the elements, of the state. We ought to conquer the time needed for appeal from France ill informed to France better informed, to save the sister republic the disgrace and the remorse which must be hers if, rashly led on by bad suggestions from without, she became, before she was aware, accomplice in an act of violence to which we can find no parallel without going back to the partition of Poland in 1772. We owed it to Europe to maintain, as far as we could, the fundamental principles of all international life, the independence of each people in all that concerns its internal administration. We say it without pride,—for if it is with enthusiasm that we resist the attempts of the Neapolitan monarchy and of Austria, our eternal enemy, it is with profound grief that we are ourselves constrained to contend with the arms of France,—we believe in following this line of conduct we have deserved well, not only of our country, but of all the people of Europe, even of France herself.

"We come to the actual question. You know, Monsieur, the events which have followed the French intervention. Our territory has been invaded by the king of Naples.

"Four thousand Spaniards were to embark on the 17th for invasion of this country. The Austrians, having surmounted the heroic resistance of Bologna, have advanced into Romagna, and are now marching on Ancona.

"We have beaten and driven out of our territory the forces of [pg 394] the king of Naples. We believe we should do the same by the Austrian forces, if the attitude of the French here did not fetter our action.

"We are sorry to say it, but France must be informed that the expedition of Civita Vecchia, said to be planned for our protection, costs us very dear. Of all the interventions with which it is hoped to overwhelm us, that of the French has been the most perilous. Against the soldiers of Austria and the king of Naples we can fight, for God protects a good cause. But we do not wish to fight against the French. We are toward them in a state, not of war, but of simple defence. But this position, the only one we wish to take wherever we meet France, has for us all the inconveniences without any of the favorable chances of war.

"The French expedition has, from the first, forced us to concentrate our troops, thus leaving our frontier open to Austrian invasion, and Bologna and the cities of Romagna unsustained. The Austrians have profited by this. After eight days of heroic resistance by the population, Bologna was forced to yield. We had bought in France arms for our defence. Of these ten thousand muskets have been detained between Marseilles and Civita Vecchia. These are in your hands. Thus with a single blow you deprive us of ten thousand soldiers. In every armed man is a soldier against the Austrians.

"Your forces are disposed around our walls as if for a siege. They remain there without avowed aim or programme. They have forced us to keep the city in a state of defence which weighs upon our finances. They force us to keep here a body of troops who might be saving our cities from the occupation and ravages of the Austrians. They hinder our going from place to place, our provisioning the city, our sending couriers. They keep minds in a state of excitement and distrust which might, if our population were less good and devoted, lead to sinister results. They do not engender anarchy nor reaction, for both are impossible at Rome; but they sow the seed of irritation against France, and it is a misfortune for us who were accustomed to love and hope in her.

"We are besieged, Monsieur, besieged by France, in the name [pg 395] of a protective mission, while some leagues off the king of Naples, flying, carries off our hostages, and the Austrian slays our brothers.

"You have presented propositions. Those propositions have been declared inadmissible by the Assembly. To-day you add a fourth to the three already rejected. This says that France will protect from foreign invasion all that part of our territory that may be occupied by her troops. You must yourself feel that this changes nothing in our position.

"The parts of the territory occupied by your troops are in fact protected; but if only for the present, to what are they reduced? and if it is for the future, have we no other way to protect our territory than by giving it up entirely to you?

"The real intent of your demands is not stated. It is the occupation of Rome. This demand has constantly stood first in your list of propositions. Now we have had the honor to say to you, Monsieur, that is impossible. The people will never consent to it. If the occupation of Rome has for its aim only to protect it, the people thank you, but tell you at the same time, that, able to defend Rome by their own forces, they would be dishonored even in your eyes by declaring themselves insufficient, and needing the aid of some regiments of French soldiers. If the occupation has otherwise a political object, which God forbid, the people, who have given themselves freely these institutions, cannot suffer it. Rome is their capital, their palladium, their sacred city. They know very well, that, apart from their principles, apart from their honor, there is civil war at the end of such an occupation. They are filled with distrust by your persistence. They foresee, the troops being once admitted, changes in men and in actions which would be fatal to their liberty. They know that, in presence of foreign bayonets, the independence of their Assembly, of their government, would be a vain word. They have always Civita Vecchia before their eyes.

"On this point be sure their will is irrevocable. They will be massacred from barricade to barricade, before they will surrender. Can the soldiers of France wish to massacre a brother people whom they came to protect, because they do not wish to surrender to them their capital?

[pg 396]

"There are for France only three parts to take in the Roman States. She ought to declare herself for us, against us, or neutral. To declare herself for us would be to recognize our republic, and fight side by side with us against the Austrians. To declare against us is to crush without motive the liberty, the national life, of a friendly people, and fight side by side with the Austrians. France cannot do that. She will not risk a European war to depress us, her ally. Let her, then, rest neutral in this conflict between us and our enemies. Only yesterday we hoped more from her, but to-day we demand but this.

"The occupation of Civita Vecchia is a fact accomplished; let it go. France thinks that, in the present state of things, she ought not to remain distant from the field of battle. She thinks that, vanquishers or vanquished, we may have need of her moderative action and of her protection. We do not think so; but we will not react against her. Let her keep Civita Vecchia. Let her even extend her encampments, if the numbers of her troops require it, in the healthy regions of Civita Vecchia and Viterbo. Let her then wait the issue of the combats about to take place. All facilities will be offered her, every proof of frank and cordial sympathy given; her officers can visit Rome, her soldiers have all the solace possible. But let her neutrality be sincere and without concealed plans. Let her declare herself in explicit terms. Let her leave us free to use all our forces. Let her restore our arms. Let her not by her cruisers drive back from our ports the men who come to our aid from other parts of Italy. Let her, above all, withdraw from before our walls, and cause even the appearance of hostility to cease between two nations who, later, undoubtedly are destined to unite in the same international faith, as now they have adopted the same form of government."

 

In his answer, Lesseps appears moved by this statement, and particularly expresses himself thus:—

"One point appears above all to occupy you; it is the thought that we wish forcibly to impose upon you the obligation of receiving [pg 397] us as friends. Friendship and violence are incompatible. Thus it would be inconsistent on our part to begin by firing our cannon upon you, since we are your natural protectors. Such a contradiction enters neither into my intentions, nor those of the government of the French republic, nor of our army and its honorable chief."

These words were written at the head-quarters of Oudinot, and of course seen and approved by him. At the same time, in private conversation, "the honorable chief" could swear he would occupy Rome by "one means or another." A few days after, Lesseps consented to conditions such as the Romans would tolerate. He no longer insisted on occupying Rome, but would content himself with good positions in the country. Oudinot protested that the Plenipotentiary had "exceeded his powers,"—that he should not obey,—that the armistice was at an end, and he should attack Rome on Monday. It was then Friday. He proposed to leave these two days for the few foreigners that remained to get out of town. M. Lesseps went off to Paris, in great seeming indignation, to get his treaty ratified. Of course we could not hear from him for eight or ten days. Meanwhile, the honorable chief, alike in all his conduct, attacked on Sunday instead of Monday. The attack began before sunrise, and lasted all day. I saw it from my window, which, though distant, commands the gate of St. Pancrazio. Why the whole force was bent on that part, I do not know. If they could take it, the town would be cannonaded, and the barricades useless; but it is the same with the Pincian Gate. Small-parties made feints in two other directions, but they were at once repelled. The French fought with great bravery, and this time it is said with beautiful skill and order, sheltering themselves in their advance by movable barricades. The Italians fought like lions, and no inch of ground was gained by the assailants. The loss of the French is said to be very great: it could not be otherwise. Six or seven hundred Italians are dead or wounded. Among them are many officers, those of Garibaldi especially, who are much exposed by their daring bravery, and whose red tunic makes them the natural mark of the enemy. It [pg 398] seems to me great folly to wear such a dress amid the dark uniforms; but Garibaldi has always done it. He has now been wounded twice here and seventeen times in Ancona.

All this week I have been much at the hospitals where are these noble sufferers. They are full of enthusiasm; this time was no treason, no Vicenza, no Novara, no Milan. They had not been given up by wicked chiefs at the moment they were shedding their blood, and they had conquered. All were only anxious to get out again and be at their posts. They seemed to feel that those who died so gloriously were fortunate; perhaps they were, for if Rome is obliged to yield,—and how can she stand always unaided against the four powers?—where shall these noble youths fly? They are the flower of the Italian youth; especially among the Lombards are some of the finest young men I have ever seen. If Rome falls, if Venice falls, there is no spot of Italian earth where they can abide more, and certainly no Italian will wish to take refuge in France. Truly you said, M. Lesseps, "Violence and friendship are incompatible."

A military funeral of the officer Ramerino was sadly picturesque and affecting. The white-robed priests went before the body singing, while his brothers in arms bore the lighted tapers. His horse followed, saddled and bridled. The horse hung his head and stepped dejectedly; he felt there was something strange and gloomy going on,—felt that his master was laid low. Ramerino left a wife and children. A great proportion of those who run those risks are, happily, alone. Parents weep, but will not suffer long; their grief is not like that of widows and children.

Since the 3d we have only cannonade and skirmishes. The French are at their trenches, but cannot advance much; they are too much molested from the walls. The Romans have made one very successful sortie. The French availed themselves of a violent thunderstorm, when the walls were left more thinly guarded, to try to scale them, but were immediately driven back. It was thought by many that they never would be willing to throw bombs and shells into Rome, but they do whenever they can. That generous hope and faith in them as republicans and brothers, [pg 399] which put the best construction on their actions, and believed in their truth as far as possible, is now destroyed. The government is false, and the people do not resist; the general is false, and the soldiers obey.

Meanwhile, frightful sacrifices are being made by Rome. All her glorious oaks, all her gardens of delight, her casinos, full of the monuments of genius and taste, are perishing in the defence. The houses, the trees which had been spared at the gate of St. Pancrazio, all afforded shelter to the foe, and caused so much loss of life, that the Romans have now fully acquiesced in destruction agonizing to witness. Villa Borghese is finally laid waste, the villa of Raphael has perished, the trees are all cut down at Villa Albani, and the house, that most beautiful ornament of Rome, must, I suppose, go too. The stately marble forms are already driven from their place in that portico where Winckelmann sat and talked with such delight. Villa Salvage is burnt, with all its fine frescos, and that bank of the Tiber shorn of its lovely plantations.

Rome will never recover the cruel ravage of these days, perhaps only just begun. I had often thought of living a few months near St. Peter's, that I might go as much as I liked to the church and the museum, have Villa Pamfili and Monte Mario within the compass of a walk. It is not easy to find lodgings there, as it is a quarter foreigners never inhabit; but, walking about to see what pleasant places there were, I had fixed my eye on a clean, simple house near Ponte St. Angelo. It bore on a tablet that it was the property of Angela ——; its little balconies with their old wooden rails, full of flowers in humble earthen vases, the many bird-cages, the air of domestic quiet and comfort, marked it as the home of some vestal or widow, some lone woman whose heart was centred in the ordinary and simplest pleasures of a home. I saw also she was one having the most limited income, and I thought, "She will not refuse to let me a room for a few months, as I shall be as quiet as herself, and sympathize about the flowers and birds." Now the Villa Pamfili is all laid waste. The French encamp on Monte Mario; what they have done there is not known yet. The cannonade reverberates all day under the [pg 400] dome of St. Peter's, and the house of poor Angela is levelled with the ground. I hope her birds and the white peacocks of the Vatican gardens are in safety;—but who cares for gentle, harmless creatures now?

I have been often interrupted while writing this letter, and suppose it is confused as well as incomplete. I hope my next may tell of something decisive one way or the other. News is not yet come from Lesseps, but the conduct of Oudinot and the formation of the new French ministry give reason to hope no good. Many seem resolved to force back Pius IX. among his bleeding flock, into the city ruined by him, where he cannot remain, and if he come, all this struggle and sorrow is to be borne over again. Mazzini stands firm as a rock. I know not whether he hopes for a successful issue, but he believes in a God bound to protect men who do what they deem their duty. Yet how long, O Lord, shall the few trample on the many?

I am surprised to see the air of perfect good faith with which articles from the London Times, upon the revolutionary movements, are copied into our papers. There exists not in Europe a paper more violently opposed to the cause of freedom than the Times, and neither its leaders nor its foreign correspondence are to be depended upon. It is said to receive money from Austria. I know not whether this be true, or whether it be merely subservient to the aristocratical feeling of England, which is far more opposed to republican movements than is that of Russia; for in England fear embitters hate. It is droll to remember our reading in the class-book.

"Ay, down to the dust with them, slaves as they are";—

to think how bitter the English were on the Italians who succumbed, and see how they hate those who resist. And their cowardice here in Italy is ludicrous. It is they who run away at the least intimation of danger,—it is they who invent all the "fe, fo, fum" stories about Italy,—it is they who write to the Times and elsewhere that they dare not for their lives stay in Rome, where I, a woman, walk everywhere alone, and all the little children do the same, with their nurses. More of this anon.

[pg 401]

 

LETTER XXXII.

Progress of the Tragedy.—Pius IX. disavows Liberalism.—Oudinot, and the Roman Authorities.—Shame of France.—Devastation of the City.—Courage of the People.—Bombs extinguished.—A Crisis approaching.

Rome, June 21, 1849.

It is now two weeks since the first attack of Oudinot, and as yet we hear nothing decisive from Paris. I know not yet what news may have come last night, but by the morning's mail we did not even receive notice that Lesseps had arrived in Paris.

Whether Lesseps was consciously the servant of all these base intrigues, time will show. His conduct was boyish and foolish, if it was not treacherous. The only object seemed to be to create panic, to agitate, to take possession of Rome somehow, though what to do with it, if they could get it, the French government would hardly know.

Pius IX., in his allocution of the 29th of April last, has explained himself fully. He has disavowed every liberal act which ever seemed to emanate from him, with the exception of the amnesty. He has shamelessly recalled his refusal to let Austrian blood be shed, while Roman flows daily at his request. He has implicitly declared that his future government, could he return, would be absolute despotism,—has dispelled the last lingering illusion of those still anxious to apologize for him as only a prisoner now in the hands of the Cardinals and the king of Naples. The last frail link is broken that bound to him the people of Rome, and could the French restore him, they must frankly avow themselves, abandon entirely and fully the position they took in February, 1848, and declare themselves the allies of Austria and of Russia.

[pg 402]

Meanwhile they persevere in the Jesuitical policy that has already disgraced and is to ruin them. After a week of vain assaults, Oudinot sent to Rome the following letter, which I translate, as well as the answers it elicited.

LETTER OF GENERAL OUDINOT,

Intended for the Roman Constituent Assembly, the Triumvirate, the Generalissimo, and the Commander-in-Chief of the National Guard.

"General,—The events of war have, as you know, conducted the French army to the gates of Rome.

"Should the entrance into the city remain closed against us, I should see myself constrained to employ immediately all the means of action that France has placed in my hands.

"Before having recourse to such terrible necessity, I think it my duty to make a last appeal to a people who cannot have toward France sentiments of hostility.

"The Roman army wishes, no doubt, equally with myself, to spare bloody ruin to the capital of the Christian world.

"With this conviction, I pray you, Signore General, to give the enclosed proclamation the most speedy publicity. If, twelve hours after this despatch shall have been delivered to you, an answer corresponding to the honor and the intentions of France shall not have reached me, I shall be constrained to give the forcible attack.

"Accept, &c.

"Villa Pamfili, 12 June, 1849, 5 P.M."

He was in fact at Villa Santucci, much farther out, but could not be content without falsifying his date as well as all his statements.

"PROCLAMATION.

"Inhabitants of Rome,—We did not come to bring you war. We came to sustain among you order, with liberty. The intentions of our government have been misunderstood. The labors [pg 403] of the siege have conducted us under your walls. Till now we have wished only occasionally to answer the fire of your batteries. We approach these last moments, when the necessities of war burst out in terrible calamities. Spare them to a city fall of so many glorious memories.

"If you persist in repelling us, on you alone will fall the responsibility of irreparable disasters."

The following are the answers of the various functionaries to whom this letter was sent:—

ANSWER OF THE ASSEMBLY.

"General,—The Roman Constitutional Assembly informs you, in reply to your despatch of yesterday, that, having concluded a convention from the 31st of May, 1849, with M. de Lesseps, Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, a convention which we confirmed soon after your protest, it must consider that convention obligatory for both parties, and indeed a safeguard of the rights of nations, until it has been ratified or declined by the government of France. Therefore the Assembly must regard as a violation of that convention every hostile act of the French army since the above-named 31st of May, and all others that shall take place before the resolution of your government can be made known, and before the expiration of the time agreed upon for the armistice. You demand, General, an answer correspondent to the intentions and power of France. Nothing could be more conformable with the intentions and power of France than to cease a flagrant violation of the rights of nations.

"Whatever may be the results of such violation, the people of Rome are not responsible for them. Rome is strong in its right, and decided to maintain tire conventions which attach it to your nation; only it finds itself constrained by the necessity of self-defence to repel unjust aggressions.
"Accept, &c., for the Assembly,

"The President, GALLETTI.

"Secretaries, FABRETTI, PANNACCHI, COCCHI."

[pg 404]

 

"ANSWER OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE NATIONAL GUARD.

"General,—The treaty, of which we await the ratification, assures this tranquil city from every disaster.

"The National Guard, destined to maintain order, has the duty of seconding the resolutions of the government; willingly and zealously it fulfils this duty, not caring for annoyance and fatigue.

"The National Guard showed very lately, when it escorted the prisoners sent back to you, its sympathy for France, but it shows also on every occasion a supreme regard for its own dignity, for the honor of Rome.

"Any misfortune to the capital of the Catholic world, to the monumental city, must be attributed not to the pacific citizens constrained to defend themselves, but solely to its aggressors.
"Accept, &c.

"STURBINETTI,
General of the National Guard, Representative of the People".

 

ANSWER OF THE GENERALISSIMO.

"Citizen General,—A fatality leads to conflict between the armies of two republics, whom a better destiny would have invited to combat against their common enemy; for the enemies of the one cannot fail to be also enemies of the other.

"We are not deceived, and shall combat by every means in our power whoever assails our institutions, for only the brave are worthy to stand before the French soldiers.

"Reflecting that there is a state of life worse than death, if the war you wage should put us in that state, it will be better to close our eyes for ever than to see the interminable oppressions of oar country.
"I wish you well, and desire fraternity.

"ROSSELLI."

 

ANSWER OF THE TRIUMVIRATE.

"We have the honor to transmit to you the answer of the Assembly.

[pg 405]

"We never break our promises. We have promised to defend, in execution of orders from the Assembly and people of Rome, the banner of the Republic, the honor of the country, and the sanctity of the capital of the Christian world; this promise we shall maintain.
"Accept, &c.

"The Triumvirs,        
ARMELLINI.
MAZZINI.
SAFFI."

Observe the miserable evasion of this missive of Oudinot: "The fortune of war has conducted us." What war? He pretended to come as a friend, a protector; is enraged only because, after his deceits at Civita Vecchia, Rome will not trust him within her walls. For this he daily sacrifices hundreds of lives. "The Roman people cannot be hostile to the French?" No, indeed; they were not disposed to be so. They had been stirred to emulation by the example of France. They had warmly hoped in her as their true ally. It required all that Oudinot has done to turn their faith to contempt and aversion.

Cowardly man! He knows now that he comes upon a city which wished to receive him only as a friend, and he cries, "With my cannon, with my bombs, I will compel you to let me betray you."

The conduct of France—infamous enough before—looks tenfold blacker now that, while the so-called Plenipotentiary is absent with the treaty to be ratified, her army daily assails Rome,—assails in vain. After receiving these answers to his letter and proclamation, Oudinot turned all the force of his cannonade to make a breach, and began, what no one, even in these days, has believed possible, the bombardment of Rome.

Yes! the French, who pretend to be the advanced guard of civilization, are bombarding Rome. They dare take the risk of destroying the richest bequests made to man by the great Past. Nay, they seem to do it in an especially barbarous manner. It was thought they would avoid, as much as possible, the hospitals [pg 406] for the wounded, marked to their view by the black banner, and the places where are the most precious monuments; but several bombs have fallen on the chief hospital, and the Capitol evidently is especially aimed at. They made a breach in the wall, but it was immediately filled up with a barricade, and all the week they have been repulsed in every attempt they made to gain ground, though with considerable loss of life on our side; on theirs it must be great, but how great we cannot know.

Ponte Molle, the scene of Raphael's fresco of a battle, in the Vatican, saw again a fierce struggle last Friday. More than fifty were brought wounded into Rome.

But wounds and assaults only fire more and more the courage of her defenders. They feel the justice of their cause, and the peculiar iniquity of this aggression. In proportion as there seems little aid to be hoped from man, they seem to claim it from God. The noblest sentiments are heard from every lip, and, thus far, their acts amply correspond.

On the eve of the bombardment one or two officers went round with a fine band. It played on the piazzas the Marseillaise and Roman marches; and when the people were thus assembled, they were told of the proclamation, and asked how they felt. Many shouted loudly, Guerra! Viva la Republica Romana! Afterward, bands of young men went round singing the chorus,

"Vogliamo sempre quella,

Vogliamo Liberta."

("We want always one thing; we want liberty.") Guitars played, and some danced. When the bombs began to come, one of the Trasteverini, those noble images of the old Roman race, redeemed her claim to that descent by seizing a bomb and extinguishing the match. She received a medal and a reward in money. A soldier did the same thing at Palazza Spada, where is the statue of Pompey, at whose base great Cæsar fell. He was promoted. Immediately the people were seized with emulation; armed with pans of wet clay, they ran wherever the bombs fell, to extinguish them. Women collect the balls from the hostile cannon, and carry them to ours. As thus very little injury has been done to life, [pg 407] the people cry, "Madonna protects us against the bombs; she wills not that Rome should be destroyed."

Meanwhile many poor people are driven from their homes, and provisions are growing very dear. The heats are now terrible for us, and must be far more so for the French. It is said a vast number are ill of fever; indeed, it cannot be otherwise. Oudinot himself has it, and perhaps this is one explanation of the mixture of violence and weakness in his actions.

He must be deeply ashamed at the poor result of his bad acts,—that at the end of two weeks and so much bravado, he has done nothing to Rome, unless intercept provisions, kill some of her brave youth, and injure churches, which should be sacred to him as to us. St. Maria Trastevere, that ancient church, so full of precious remains, and which had an air of mild repose more beautiful than almost any other, is said to have suffered particularly.

As to the men who die, I share the impassioned sorrow of the Triumvirs. "O Frenchmen!" they wrote, "could you know what men you destroy! They are no mercenaries, like those who fill your ranks, but the flower of the Italian youth, and the noblest among the aged. When you shall know of what minds you have robbed the world, how ought you to repent and mourn!"

This is especially true of the Emigrant and Garibaldi legions. The misfortunes of Northern and Southern Italy, the conscription which compels to the service of tyranny those who remain, has driven from the kingdom of Naples and from Lombardy all the brave and noble youth. Many are in Venice or Rome, the forlorn hope of Italy. Radetzky, every day more cruel, now impresses aged men and the fathers of large families. He carries them with him in chains, determined, if he cannot have good troops to send into Hungary, at least to revenge himself on the unhappy Lombards.

Many of these young men, students from Pisa, Pavia, Padua, and the Roman University, lie wounded in the hospitals, for naturally they rushed first to the combat. One kissed an arm which was cut off; another preserves pieces of bone which were painfully extracted from his wound, as relics of the best days of his [pg 408] life. The older men, many of whom have been saddened by exile and disappointment, less glowing, are not less resolved. A spirit burns noble as ever animated the most precious deeds we treasure from the heroic age. I suffer to see these temples of the soul thus broken, to see the fever-weary days and painful operations undergone by these noble men, these true priests of a higher hope; but I would not, for much, have missed seeing it all. The memory of it will console amid the spectacles of meanness, selfishness, and faithlessness which life may yet have in store for the pilgrim.

June 23.

Matters verge to a crisis. The French government sustains Oudinot and disclaims Lesseps. Harmonious throughout, shameless in falsehood, it seems Oudinot knew that tire mission of Lesseps was at an end, when he availed himself of his pacific promises to occupy Monte Mario. When the Romans were anxious at seeing French troops move in that direction, Lesseps said it was only done to occupy them, and conjured the Romans to avoid all collision which might prevent his success with the treaty. The sham treaty was concluded on the 30th of May, a detachment of French having occupied Monte Mario on the night of the 29th. Oudinot flies into a rage and refuses to sign; M. Lesseps goes off to Paris; meanwhile, the brave Oudinot attacks on the 3d of June, after writing to the French Consul that Ire should not till the 4th, to leave time for the foreigners remaining to retire. He attacked in the night, possessing himself of Villa Pamfili, as he had of Monte Mario, by treachery and surprise.

Meanwhile, M. Lesseps arrives in Paris, to find himself seemingly or really in great disgrace with the would-be Emperor and his cabinet. To give reason for this, M. Drouyn de Lhuys, who had publicly declared to the Assembly that M. Lesseps had no instructions except from the report of the sitting of the 7th of May, shamefully publishes a letter of special instructions, hemming him in on every side, which M. Lesseps, the "Plenipotentiary," dares not disown.

What are we to think of a great nation, whose leading men [pg 409] are such barefaced liars? M. Guizot finds his creed faithfully followed up.

The liberal party in France does what it can to wash its hands of this offence, but it seems weak, and unlikely to render effectual service at this crisis. Venice, Rome, Ancona, are the last strong-holds of hope, and they cannot stand for ever thus unsustained. Night before last, a tremendous cannonade left no moment to sleep, even had the anxious hearts of mothers and wives been able to crave it. At morning a little detachment of French had entered by the breach of St. Pancrazio, and intrenched itself in a vineyard. Another has possession of Villa Poniatowski, close to the Porta del Popolo, and attacks and alarms are hourly to be expected. I long to see the final one, dreadful as that hour may be, since now there seems no hope from delay. Men are daily slain, and this state of suspense is agonizing.

In the evening 't is pretty, though terrible, to see the bombs, fiery meteors, springing from the horizon line upon their bright path, to do their wicked message. 'T would not be so bad, methinks, to die by one of these, as wait to have every drop of pure blood, every childlike radiant hope, drained and driven from the heart by the betrayals of nations and of individuals, till at last the sickened eyes refuse more to open to that light which shines daily on such pits of iniquity.

[pg 410]

 

LETTER XXXIII.

Siege of Rome.—Heat.—Night Attacks.—The Bombardment.—The Night Breach.—Defection.—Entry of the French.—Slaughter of the Romans.—The Hospitals.—Destruction by Bombs.—Cessation of Resistance.—Oudinot's Stubbornness.—Garibaldi's Troops.—Their Muster on the Scene of Rienzi's Triumph.—Garibaldi.—His Departure.—"Respectable" Opinion.—The Protectors unmasked.—Cold Reception.—A Priest assassinated.—Martial Law declared.—Republican Education.—Disappearance of French Soldiers.—Clearing the Hospitals.—Priestly Baseness.—Insult to the American Consul.—His Protest and Departure.—Disarming the National Guard.—Position of Mr. Cass.—Petty Oppression.—Expulsion of Foreigners.—Effect of French Presence.—Address to the People.—Visit to the Scene of Strife.—American Sympathy for Liberty in Europe.

Rome, July 6, 1849.

If I mistake not, I closed my last letter just as the news arrived here that the attempt of the democratic party in France to resist the infamous proceedings of the government had failed, and thus Rome, as far as human calculation went, had not a hope for her liberties left. An inland city cannot long sustain a siege when there is no hope of aid. Then followed the news of the surrender of Ancona, and Rome found herself alone; for, though Venice continued to hold out, all communication was cut off.

The Republican troops, almost to a man, left Ancona, but a long march separated them from Rome.

The extreme heat of these days was far more fatal to the Romans than to their assailants, for as fast as the French troops sickened, their place was taken by fresh arrivals. Ours also not only sustained the exhausting service by day, but were harassed at night by attacks, feigned or real. These commonly began about eleven or twelve o'clock at night, just when all who meant to rest were fairly asleep. I can imagine the harassing effect upon the troops, [pg 411] from what I feel in my sheltered pavilion, in consequence of not knowing a quiet night's sleep for a month.

The bombardment became constantly more serious. The house where I live was filled as early as the 20th with persons obliged to fly from the Piazza di Gesu, where the fiery rain fell thickest. The night of the 21st-22d, we were all alarmed about two o'clock, A.M. by a tremendous cannonade. It was the moment when the breach was finally made by which the French entered. They rushed in, and I grieve to say, that, by the only instance of defection known in the course of the siege, those companies of the regiment Union which had in charge a position on that point yielded to panic and abandoned it. The French immediately entered and intrenched themselves. That was the fatal hour for the city. Every day afterward, though obstinately resisted, the enemy gained, till at last, their cannon being well placed, the city was entirely commanded from the Janiculum, and all thought of further resistance was idle.

It was true policy to avoid a street-fight, in which the Italian, an unpractised soldier, but full of feeling and sustained from the houses, would have been a match even for their disciplined troops. After the 22d of June, the slaughter of the Romans became every day more fearful. Their defences were knocked down by the heavy cannon of the French, and, entirely exposed in their valorous onsets, great numbers perished on the spot. Those who were brought into the hospitals were generally grievously wounded, very commonly subjects for amputation. My heart bled daily more and more at these sights, and I could not feel much for myself, though now the balls and bombs began to fall round me also. The night of the 28th the effect was truly fearful, as they whizzed and burst near me. As many as thirty fell upon or near the Hotel de Russie, where Mr. Cass has his temporary abode. The roof of the studio in the pavilion, tenanted by Mr. Stermer, well known to the visitors of Rome for his highly-finished cabinet pictures, was torn to pieces. I sat alone in my much exposed apartment, thinking, "If one strikes me, I only hope it will kill me at once, and that God will transport my soul to some sphere where [pg 412] virtue and love are not tyrannized over by egotism and brute force, as in this." However, that night passed; the next, we had reason to expect a still more fiery salute toward the Pincian, as here alone remained three or four pieces of cannon which could be used. But on the morning of the 30th, in a contest at the foot of the Janiculum, the line, old Papal troops, naturally not in earnest like the free corps, refused to fight against odds so terrible. The heroic Marina fell, with hundreds of his devoted Lombards. Garibaldi saw his best officers perish, and himself went in the afternoon to say to the Assembly that further resistance was unavailing.

The Assembly sent to Oudinot, but he refused any conditions,—refused even to guarantee a safe departure to Garibaldi, his brave foe. Notwithstanding, a great number of men left the other regiments to follow the leader whose courage had captivated them, and whose superiority over difficulties commanded their entire confidence. Toward the evening of Monday, the 2d of July, it was known that the French were preparing to cross the river and take possession of all the city. I went into the Corso with some friends; it was filled with citizens and military. The carriage was stopped by the crowd near the Doria palace; the lancers of Garibaldi galloped along in full career. I longed for Sir Walter Scott to be on earth again, and see them; all are light, athletic, resolute figures, many of the forms of the finest manly beauty of the South, all sparkling with its genius and ennobled by the resolute spirit, ready to dare, to do, to die. We followed them to the piazza of St. John Lateran. Never have I seen a sight so beautiful, so romantic, and so sad. Whoever knows Rome knows the peculiar solemn grandeur of that piazza, scene of the first triumph of Rienzi, and whence may be seen the magnificence of the "mother of all churches," the baptistery with its porphyry columns, the Santa Scala with its glittering mosaics of the early ages, the obelisk standing fairest of any of those most imposing monuments of Rome, the view through the gates of the Campagna, on that side so richly strewn with ruins. The sun was setting, the crescent moon rising, the flower of the Italian youth were marshalling in that solemn place. They [pg 413] had been driven from every other spot where they had offered their hearts as bulwarks of Italian independence; in this last strong-hold they had sacrificed hecatombs of their best and bravest in that cause; they must now go or remain prisoners and slaves. Where go, they knew not; for except distant Hungary there is not now a spot which would receive them, or where they can act as honor commands. They had all put on the beautiful dress of the Garibaldi legion, the tunic of bright red cloth, the Greek cap, or else round hat with Puritan plume. Their long hair was blown back from resolute faces; all looked full of courage. They had counted the cost before they entered on this perilous struggle; they had weighed life and all its material advantages against liberty, and made their election; they turned not back, nor flinched, at this bitter crisis. I saw the wounded, all that could go, laden upon their baggage cars; some were already pale and fainting, still they wished to go. I saw many youths, born to rich inheritance, carrying in a handkerchief all their worldly goods. The women were ready; their eyes too were resolved, if sad. The wife of Garibaldi followed him on horseback. He himself was distinguished by the white tunic; his look was entirely that of a hero of the Middle Ages,—his face still young, for the excitements of his life, though so many, have all been youthful, and there is no fatigue upon his brow or cheek. Fall or stand, one sees in him a man engaged in the career for which he is adapted by nature. He went upon the parapet, and looked upon the road with a spy-glass, and, no obstruction being in sight, he turned his face for a moment back upon Rome, then led the way through the gate. Hard was the heart, stony and seared the eye, that had no tear for that moment. Go, fated, gallant band! and if God care not indeed for men as for the sparrows, most of ye go forth to perish. And Rome, anew the Niobe! Must she lose also these beautiful and brave, that promised her regeneration, and would have given it, but for the perfidy, the overpowering force, of the foreign intervention?

I know that many "respectable" gentlemen would be surprised to hear me speak in this way. Gentlemen who perform their [pg 414] "duties to society" by buying for themselves handsome clothes and furniture with the interest of their money, speak of Garibaldi and his men as "brigands" and "vagabonds." Such are they, doubtless, in the same sense as Jesus, Moses, and Eneas were. To me, men who can throw so lightly aside the ease of wealth, the joys of affection, for the sake of what they deem honor, in whatsoever form, are the "respectable." No doubt there are in these bands a number of men of lawless minds, and who follow this banner only because there is for them no other path. But the greater part are the noble youths who have fled from the Austrian conscription, or fly now from the renewal of the Papal suffocation, darkened by French protection.

As for the protectors, they entirely threw aside the mask, as it was always supposed they would, the moment they had possession of Rome. I do not know whether they were really so bewildered by their priestly counsellors as to imagine they would be well received in a city which they had bombarded, and where twelve hundred men were lying wounded by their assault. To say nothing of the justice or injustice of the matter, it could not be supposed that the Roman people, if it had any sense of dignity, would welcome them. I did not appear in the street, as I would not give any countenance to such a wrong; but an English lady, my friend, told me they seemed to look expectingly for the strong party of friends they had always pretended to have within the walls. The French officers looked up to the windows for ladies, and, she being the only one they saw, saluted her. She made no reply. They then passed into the Corso. Many were assembled, the softer Romans being unable to control a curiosity the Milanese would have disclaimed, but preserving an icy silence. In an evil hour, a foolish priest dared to break it by the cry of Viva Pio Nono! The populace, roused to fury, rushed on him with their knives. He was much wounded; one or two others were killed in the rush. The people howled then, and hissed at the French, who, advancing their bayonets, and clearing the way before them, fortified themselves in the piazzas. Next day the French troops were marched to and fro through Rome, to inspire awe in the [pg 415] people; but it has only created a disgust amounting to loathing, to see that, with such an imposing force, and in great part fresh, the French were not ashamed to use bombs also, and kill women and children in their beds. Oudinot then, seeing the feeling of the people, and finding they pursued as a spy any man who so much as showed the way to his soldiers,—that the Italians went out of the cafés if Frenchmen entered,—in short, that the people regarded him and his followers in the same light as the Austrians,—has declared martial law in Rome; the press is stifled; everybody is to be in the house at half past nine o'clock in the evening, and whoever in any way insults his men, or puts any obstacle in their way, is to be shot.

The fruits of all this will be the same as elsewhere; temporary repression will sow the seeds of perpetual resistance; and never was Rome in so fair a way to be educated for a republican form of government as now.

Especially could nothing be more irritating to an Italian population, in the month of July, than to drive them to their homes at half past nine. After the insupportable heat of the day, their only enjoyment and refreshment are found in evening walks, and chats together as they sit before their cafés, or in groups outside some friendly door. Now they must hurry home when the drum beats at nine o'clock. They are forbidden to stand or sit in groups, and this by their bombarding protector! Comment is unnecessary.

French soldiers are daily missing; of some it is known that they have been killed by the Trasteverini for daring to make court to their women. Of more than a hundred and fifty, it is only known that they cannot he found; and in two days of French "order" more acts of violence have been committed, than in two months under the Triumvirate.

The French have taken up their quarters in the court-yards of the Quirinal and Venetian palaces, which are full of the wounded, many of whom have been driven well-nigh mad, and their burning wounds exasperated, by the sound of the drums and trumpets,—the constant sense of an insulting presence. The [pg 416] wounded have been warned to leave the Quirinal at the end of eight days, though there are many who cannot be moved from bed to bed without causing them great anguish and peril; nor is it known that any other place has been provided as a hospital for them. At the Palazzo di Venezia the French have searched for three emigrants whom they wished to imprison, even in the apartments where the wounded were lying, running their bayonets into the mattresses. They have taken for themselves beds given by the Romans to the hospital,—not public property, but private gift. The hospital of Santo Spirito was a governmental establishment, and, in using a part of it for the wounded, its director had been retained, because he had the reputation of being honest and not illiberal. But as soon as the French entered, he, with true priestly baseness, sent away the women nurses, saying he had no longer money to pay them, transported the wounded into a miserable, airless basement, that had before been used as a granary, and appropriated the good apartments to the use of the French!

July 8.

The report of this morning is that the French yesterday violated the domicile of our Consul, Mr. Brown, pretending to search for persons hidden there; that Mr. Brown, banner in one hand and sword in the other, repelled the assault, and fairly drove them down stairs; that then he made them an appropriate speech, though in a mixed language of English, French, and Italian; that the crowd vehemently applauded Mr. Brown, who already was much liked for the warm sympathy he had shown the Romans in their aspirations and their distresses; and that he then donned his uniform, and went to Oudinot to make his protest. How this was received I know not, but understand Mr. Brown departed with his family yesterday evening. Will America look as coldly on the insult to herself, as she has on the struggle of this injured people?

To-day an edict is out to disarm the National Guard. The generous "protectors" wish to take all the trouble upon themselves. Rome is full of them; at every step are met groups in [pg 417] the uniform of France, with faces bronzed in the African war, and so stultified by a life without enthusiasm and without thought, that I do not believe Napoleon would recognize them as French soldiers. The effect of their appearance compared with that of the Italian free corps is that of body as compared with spirit. It is easy to see how they could be used to purposes so contrary to the legitimate policy of France, for they do not look more intellectual, more fitted to have opinions of their own, than the Austrian soldiery.

July 10.

The plot thickens. The exact facts with regard to the invasion of Mr. Brown's house I have not been able to ascertain. I suppose they will be published, as Oudinot has promised to satisfy Mr. Cass. I must add, in reference to what I wrote some time ago of the position of our Envoy here, that the kind and sympathetic course of Mr. Cass toward the Republicans in these troubles, his very gentlemanly and courteous bearing, have from the minds of most removed all unpleasant feelings. They see that his position was very peculiar,—sent to the Papal government, finding here the Republican, and just at that moment violently assailed. Unless he had extraordinary powers, he naturally felt obliged to communicate further with our government before acknowledging this. I shall always regret, however, that he did not stand free to occupy the high position that belonged to the representative of the United States at that moment, and peculiarly because it was by a republic that the Roman Republic was betrayed.

But, as I say, the plot thickens. Yesterday three families were carried to prison because a boy crowed like a cock at the French soldiery from the windows of the house they occupied. Another, because a man pursued took refuge in their court-yard. At the same time, the city being mostly disarmed, came the edict to take down the insignia of the Republic, "emblems of anarchy." But worst of all they have done is an edict commanding all foreigners who had been in the service of the Republican government to leave Rome within twenty-four hours. This is [pg 418] the most infamous thing done yet, as it drives to desperation those who stayed because they had so many to go with and no place to go to, or because their relatives lie wounded here: no others wished to remain in Rome under present circumstances.

I am sick of breathing the same air with men capable of a part so utterly cruel and false. As soon as I can, I shall take refuge in the mountains, if it be possible to find an obscure nook unpervaded by these convulsions. Let not my friends be surprised if they do not hear from me for some time. I may not feel like writing. I have seen too much sorrow, and, alas! without power to aid. It makes me sick to see the palaces and streets of Rome full of these infamous foreigners, and to note the already changed aspect of her population. The men of Rome had begun, filled with new hopes, to develop unknown energy,—they walked quick, their eyes sparkled, they delighted in duty, in responsibility; in a year of such life their effeminacy would have been vanquished. Now, dejectedly, unemployed, they lounge along the streets, feeling that all the implements of labor, all the ensigns of hope, have been snatched from them. Their hands fall slack, their eyes rove aimless, the beggars begin to swarm again, and the black ravens who delight in the night of ignorance, the slumber of sloth, as the only sureties for their rule, emerge daily more and more frequent from their hiding-places.

The following Address has been circulated from hand to hand.

"TO THE PEOPLE OF ROME.

"Misfortune, brothers, has fallen upon us anew. But it is trial of brief duration,—it is the stone of the sepulchre which we shall throw away after three days, rising victorious and renewed, an immortal nation. For with us are God and Justice,—God and Justice, who cannot die, but always triumph, while kings and popes, once dead, revive no more.

"As you have been great in the combat, be so in the days of sorrow,—great in your conduct as citizens, by generous disdain, by sublime silence. Silence is the weapon we have now to use against the Cossacks of France and the priests, their masters.

[pg 419]

"In the streets do not look at them; do not answer if they address you.

"In the cafés, in the eating-houses, if they enter, rise and go out.

"Let your windows remain closed as they pass.

"Never attend their feasts, their parades.

"Regard the harmony of their musical bands as tones of slavery, and, when you hear them, fly.

"Let the liberticide soldier be condemned to isolation; let him atone in solitude and contempt for having served priests and kings.

"And you, Roman women, masterpiece of God's work! deign no look, no smile, to those satellites of an abhorred Pope! Cursed be she who, before the odious satellites of Austria, forgets that she is Italian! Her name shall be published for the execration of all her people! And even the courtesans! let them show love for their country, and thus regain the dignity of citizens!

"And our word of order, our cry of reunion and emancipation, be now and ever, VIVA LA REPUBLICA!

"This incessant cry, which not even French slaves can dispute, shall prepare us to administer the bequest of our martyrs, shall be consoling dew to the immaculate and holy bones that repose, sublime holocaust of faith and of love, near our walls, and make doubly divine the Eternal City. In this cry we shall find ourselves always brothers, and we shall conquer. Viva Rome, the capital of Italy! Viva the Italy of the people! Viva the Roman Republic!

"A ROMAN.

"Rome, July 4, 1849."

 

Yes; July 4th, the day so joyously celebrated in our land, is that of the entrance of the French into Rome!

I know not whether the Romans will follow out this programme with constancy, as the sterner Milanese have done. If they can, it will draw upon them endless persecutions, countless [pg 420] exactions, but at once educate and prove them worthy of a nobler life.

Yesterday I went over the scene of conflict. It was fearful even to see the Casinos Quattro Venti and Vascello, where the French and Romans had been several days so near one another, all shattered to pieces, with fragments of rich stucco and painting still sticking to rafters between the great holes made by the cannonade, and think that men had stayed and fought in them when only a mass of ruins. The French, indeed, were entirely sheltered the last days; to my unpractised eyes, the extent and thoroughness of their works seemed miraculous, and gave me the first clear idea of the incompetency of the Italians to resist organized armies. I saw their commanders had not even known enough of the art of war to understand how the French were conducting the siege. It is true, their resources were at any rate inadequate to resistance; only continual sorties would have arrested the progress of the foe, and to make them and man the wall their forces were inadequate. I was struck more than ever by the heroic valor of our people,—let me so call them now as ever; for go where I may, a large part of my heart will ever remain in Italy. I hope her children will always acknowledge me as a sister, though I drew not my first breath here. A Contadini showed me where thirty-seven braves are buried beneath a heap of wall that fell upon them in the shock of one cannonade. A marble nymph, with broken arm, looked sadly that way from her sun-dried fountain; some roses were blooming still, some red oleanders, amid the ruin. The sun was casting its last light on the mountains on the tranquil, sad Campagna, that sees one leaf more turned in the book of woe. This was in the Vascello. I then entered the French ground, all mapped and hollowed like a honeycomb. A pair of skeleton legs protruded from a bank of one barricade; lower, a dog had scratched away its light covering of earth from the body of a man, and discovered it lying face upward all dressed; the dog stood gazing on it with an air of stupid amazement. I thought at that moment, recalling some letters received: "O men and women of America, spared these frightful sights, [pg 421] these sudden wrecks of every hope, what angel of heaven do you suppose has time to listen to your tales of morbid woe? If any find leisure to work for men to-day, think you not they have enough to do to care for the victims here?"

I see you have meetings, where you speak of the Italians, the Hungarians. I pray you do something; let it not end in a mere cry of sentiment. That is better than to sneer at all that is liberal, like the English,—than to talk of the holy victims of patriotism as "anarchists" and "brigands"; but it is not enough. It ought not to content your consciences. Do you owe no tithe to Heaven for the privileges it has showered on you, for whose achievement so many here suffer and perish daily? Deserve to retain them, by helping your fellow-men to acquire them. Our government must abstain from interference, but private action is practicable, is due. For Italy, it is in this moment too late; but all that helps Hungary helps her also,—helps all who wish the freedom of men from an hereditary yoke now become intolerable. Send money, send cheer,—acknowledge as the legitimate leaders and rulers those men who represent the people, who understand their wants, who are ready to die or to live for their good. Kossuth I know not, but his people recognize him; Manin I know not, but with what firm nobleness, what perserving virtue, he has acted for Venice! Mazzini I know, the man and his acts, great, pure, and constant,—a man to whom only the next age can do justice, as it reaps the harvest of the seed he has sown in this. Friends, countrymen, and lovers of virtue, lovers of freedom, lovers of truth! be on the alert; rest not supine in your easier lives, but remember

"Mankind is one,

And beats with one great heart."

[pg 423]

 

 

PART III.

LETTERS FROM ABROAD TO FRIENDS AT HOME.

[pg 425]

 

LETTERS.

FROM A LETTER TO —— ——.

Bellagio, Lake of Como, August, 1847.

You do not deceive yourself surely about religion, in so far as that there is a deep meaning in those pangs of our fate which, if we live by faith, will become our most precious possession. "Live for thy faith and thou shalt yet behold it living," is with me, as it hath been, a maxim.

Wherever I turn, I see still the same dark clouds, with occasional gleams of light. In this Europe how much suffocated life!—a sort of woe much less seen with us. I know many of the noble exiles, pining for their natural sphere; many of them seek in Jesus the guide and friend, as you do. For me, it is my nature to wish to go straight to the Creative Spirit, and I can fully appreciate what you say of the need of our happiness depending on no human being. Can you really have attained such wisdom? Your letter seemed to me very modest and pure, and I trust in Heaven all may be solid.

I am everywhere well received, and high and low take pleasure in smoothing my path. I love much the Italians. The lower classes have the vices induced by long subjection to tyranny; but also a winning sweetness, a ready and discriminating love for the beautiful, and a delicacy in the sympathies, the absence of which always made me sick in our own country. Here, at least, one does not suffer from obtuseness or indifference. They take pleasure, too, in acts of kindness; they are bountiful, but it is useless [pg 426] to hope the least honor in affairs of business. I cannot persuade those who serve me, however attached, that they should not deceive me, and plunder me. They think that is part of their duty towards a foreigner. This is troublesome no less than disagreeable; it is absolutely necessary to be always on the watch against being cheated.


EXTRACT FROM A LETTER.

One loses sight of all dabbling and pretension when seated at the feet of dead Rome,—Rome so grand and beautiful upon her bier. Art is dead here; the few sparkles that sometimes break through the embers cannot make a flame; but the relics of the past are great enough, over-great; we should do nothing but sit, and weep, and worship.

In Rome, one has all the free feeling of the country; the city is so interwoven with vineyards and gardens, such delightful walks in the villas, such ceaseless music of the fountains, and from every high point the Campagna and Tiber seem so near.

Full of enchantment has been my summer, passed wholly among Italians, in places where no foreigner goes, amid the snowy peaks, in the exquisite valleys of the Abruzzi. I have seen a thousand landscapes, any one of which might employ the thoughts of the painter for years. Not without reason the people dream that, at the death of a saint, columns of light are seen to hover on those mountains. They take, at sunset, the same rose-hues as the Alps. The torrents are magnificent. I knew some noblemen, with baronial castles nestled in the hills and slopes, rich in the artistic treasures of centuries. They liked me, and showed me the hidden beauties of Roman remains.


Rome, April, 1848.

The gods themselves walk on earth, here in the Italian spring. Day after day of sunny weather lights up the flowery woods and [pg 427] Arcadian glades. The fountains, hateful during the endless rains, charm again. At Castle Turano I found heaths, as large as our pear-trees, in full flower. Such wealth of beauty is irresistible, but ah! the drama of my life is very strange: the ship plunges deeper as it rises higher. You would be amazed, could you know how different is my present phase of life from that in which you knew me; but you would love me no less; it is tire same planet that shows such different climes.


TO HER MOTHER.

Rome, November 16, 1848.

I am again in Rome, situated for the first time entirely to my mind. I have only one room, but large; and everything about the bed so gracefully and adroitly disposed that it makes a beautiful parlor,—and of course I pay much less. I have the sun all day, and an excellent chimney. It is very high, and has pure air and the most beautiful view all around imaginable. Add, that I am with the dearest, delightful old couple one can imagine,—quick, prompt, and kind, sensible and contented. Having no children, they like to regard me and the Prussian sculptor, my neighbor, as such; yet are too delicate and too busy ever to intrude. In the attic dwells a priest, who insists on making my fire when Antonia is away. To be sure, he pays himself for his trouble by asking a great many questions....

You cannot conceive the enchantment of this place. So much I suffered here last January and February, I thought myself a little weaned; but returning, my heart swelled even to tears with the cry of the poet,

"O Rome, my country, city of the soul!"

Those have not lived who have not seen Rome. Warned, however, by the last winter, I dared not rent my lodgings for the year. I hope I am acclimated. I have been through what is called the grape-cure, much more charming, certainly, than the water-cure. At present I am very well, but, alas! because I have [pg 428] gone to bed early, and done very little. I do not know if I can maintain any labor. As to my life, I think it is not the will of Heaven it should terminate very soon. I have had another strange escape.

I had taken passage in the diligence to come to Rome; two rivers were to be passed, the Turano and the Tiber, but passed by good bridges, and a road excellent when not broken unexpectedly by torrents from the mountains. The diligence sets out between three and four in the morning, long before light. The director sent me word that the Marchioness Crispoldi had taken for herself and family a coach extraordinary, which would start two hours later, and that I could have a place in that if I liked; so I accepted. The weather had been beautiful, but on the eve of the day fixed for my departure, the wind rose, and the rain fell in torrents. I observed that the river, which passed my window, was much swollen, and rushed with great violence. In the night I heard its voice still stronger, and felt glad I had not to set out in the dark. I rose at twilight and was expecting my carriage, and wondering at its delay, when I heard that the great diligence, several miles below, had been seized by a torrent; the horses were up to their necks in water, before any one dreamed of danger. The postilion called on all the saints, and threw himself into the water. Tire door of the diligence could not be opened, and tire passengers forced themselves, one after another, into the cold water; it was dark too. Had I been there, I had fared ill. A pair of strong men were ill after it, though all escaped with life.

For several days there was no going to Rome; but at last we set forth in two great diligences, with all the horses of the route. For many miles the mountains and ravines were covered with snow; I seemed to have returned to my own country and climate. Few miles were passed before the conductor injured his leg under the wheel, and I had the pain of seeing him suffer all the way, while "Blood of Jesus!" and "Souls in Purgatory!" was the mildest beginning of an answer to the jeers of the postilions upon his paleness. We stopped at a miserable osteria, in whose cellar we found a magnificent relic of Cyclopean architecture,—as [pg 429] indeed in Italy one is paid at every step for discomfort and danger, by some precious subject of thought. We proceeded very slowly, and reached just at night a solitary little inn which marks the site of the ancient home of the Sabine virgins, snatched away to become the mothers of Rome. We were there saluted with, the news that the Tiber also had overflowed its banks, and it was very doubtful if we could pass. But what else to do? There were no accommodations in the house for thirty people, or even for three; and to sleep in the carriages, in that wet air of the marshes, was a more certain danger than to attempt the passage. So we set forth; the moon, almost at the full, smiling sadly on the ancient grandeurs half draped in mist, and anon drawing over her face a thin white veil. As we approached the Tiber, the towers and domes of Rome could be seen, like a cloud lying low on the horizon. The road and the meadows, alike under water, Jay between us and it, one sheet of silver. The horses entered; they behaved nobly. We proceeded, every moment uncertain if the water would not become deep; but the scene was beautiful, and I enjoyed it highly. I have never yet felt afraid, when really in the presence of danger, though sometimes in its apprehension.

At last we entered the gate; the diligence stopping to be examined, I walked to the gate of Villa Ludovisi, and saw its rich shrubberies of myrtle, so pale and eloquent in the moonlight....

My dear friend, Madame Arconati, has shown me generous love; a Contadina, whom I have known this summer, hardly less. Every Sunday she came in her holiday dress, a beautiful corset of red silk, richly embroidered, rich petticoat, nice shoes and stockings, and handsome coral necklace, on one arm an immense basket of grapes, on the other a pair of live chickens to be eaten by me for her sake ("per amore mio"), and wanted no present, no reward: it was, as she said, "for the honor and pleasure of her acquaintance." The old father of the family never met me but he took off his hat, and said, "Madame, it is to me a consolation to see you." Are there not sweet flowers of affection in life, glorious moments, great thoughts? Why must they be so dearly paid for?

Many Americans have shown me great and thoughtful kindness [pg 430] and none more so than William Story and his wife. They are now in Florence, but may return. I do not know whether I shall stay here or not: I shall be guided much by the state of my health.

All is quieted now in Rome. Late at night the Pope had to yield, but not till the door of his palace was half burned, and his confessor killed. This man, Parma, provoked his fate by firing on the people from a window. It seems the Pope never gave order to fire; his guard acted from a sudden impulse of their own. The new ministry chosen are little inclined to accept. It is almost impossible for any one to act, unless the Pope is stripped of his temporal power, and the hour for that is not yet quite ripe; though they talk more and more of proclaiming the Republic, and even of calling to Rome my friend Mazzini.

If I came home at this moment, I should feel as if forced to leave my own house, my own people, and the hour which I had always longed for. If I do come in this way, all I can promise is to plague other people as little as possible. My own plans and desires will be postponed to another world.

Do not feel anxious about me. Some higher Power leads me through strange, dark, thorny paths, broken at times by glades opening down into prospects of sunny beauty, into which I am not permitted to enter. If God disposes for us, it is not for nothing. This I can say: my heart is in some respects better, it is kinder, and more humble. Also, my mental acquisitions have certainly been great, however inadequate to my desires.


TO HER BROTHER, K.F. FULLER.

Rome, January 19, 1849.

MY DEAR RICHARD,—With my window open, looking out upon St. Peter's, and the glorious Italian sun pouring in, I was just thinking of you; I was just thinking how I wished you were here, that we might walk forth and talk together under the influence [pg 431] of these magnificent objects. I was thinking of the proclamation of the Constitutional Assembly here, a measure carried by courageous youth in the face of age, sustained by the prejudices of many years, the ignorance of the people, and all the wealth of the country; yet courageous youth faces not only these, but the most threatening aspect of foreign powers, and dares a future of blood and exile to achieve privileges which are our American common birthright. I thought of the great interests which may in our country be sustained without obstacle by every able man,—interests of humanity, interests of God.

I thought of the new prospects of wealth opened to our countrymen by the acquisition of New Mexico and California,—the vast prospects of our country every way, so that it is itself a vast blessing to be born an American; and I thought how impossible it is that one like you, of so strong and generous a nature, should, if he can but patiently persevere, be defrauded of a rich, manifold, powerful life.

Thursday eve, January 25.

This has been a most beautiful day, and I have taken a long walk out of town. How much I should like sometimes to walk with you again! I went to the church of St. Lorenzo, one of the most ancient in Rome, rich in early mosaics, also with spoils from the temples, marbles, ancient sarcophagi with fine bassirilievi, and magnificent columns. There is a little of everything, but the medley is harmonized by the action of time, and the sensation induced is that of repose. It has the public cemetery, and there lie the bones of many poor; the rich and noble lie in lead coffins in the church vaults of Rome, but St. Lorenzo loved the poor. When his tormentors insisted on knowing where he had hid his riches,—"There," he said, pointing to the crowd of wretches who hovered near his bed, compelled to see the tyrants of the earth hew down the tree that had nourished and sheltered them.

Amid the crowd of inexpressive epitaphs, one touched me, erected by a son to his father. "He was," says the son, "an angel of prosperity, seeking our good in distant countries with [pg 432] unremitting toll and pain. We owe him all. For his death it is my only consolation that in life I never left his side."

Returning, I passed the Pretorian Camp, the Campus Salisetus, where vestals that had broken their vows were buried alive in the city whose founder was born from a similar event. Such are the usual, the frightful inconsistencies of mankind.

From my windows I see the Barberini palace; in its chambers are the pictures of the Cenci, and the Galatea, so beautifully described by Goethe; in the gardens are the remains of the tomb of Servius Tullius.

Yesterday as I went forth I saw the house where Keats lived in Rome, and where he died; I saw the Casino of Raphael. Returning, I passed the villa where Goethe lived when in Rome: afterwards, the houses of Claude and Poussin.

Ah what human companionship here! how everything speaks! I live myself in the apartment described in Andersen's "Improvvisatore," which get you, and read a scene of the childhood of Antonio. I have the room, I suppose, indicated as being occupied by the Danish sculptor.


TO THE SAME.

Rome, March 17, 1849.

I take occasion to enclose this seal, as a little birthday present, for I think you will be twenty-five in May. I have used it a great deal; the design is graceful and expressive,—the stone of some little value.

I live with the severest economy consistent with my health. I could not live for less anywhere. I have renounced much, have suffered more. I trust I shall not find it impossible to accomplish, at least one of my designs. This is, to see the end of the political struggle in Italy, and write its history. I think it will come to its crisis within, this year. But to complete my work as I have begun, I must watch it to the end.

This work, if I can accomplish it, will be a worthy chapter in the [pg 433] history of the world; and if written with the spirit which breathes through me, and with sufficient energy and calmness to execute well the details, would be what the motto on my ring indicates,—"a possession for ever, for man."

It ought to be profitable to me pecuniarily; but in these respects Fate runs so uniformly counter to me, that I dare not expect ever to be free from perplexity and uncongenial labor. Still, these will never more be so hard to me, if I shall have done something good, which may survive my troubled existence. Yet it would be like the rest, if by ill health, want of means, or being driven prematurely from the field of observation, this hope also should be blighted. I am prepared to have it so. Only my efforts tend to the accomplishment of my object; and should they not be baffled, you will not see me before the summer of 1850.

Meantime, let the future be what it may, I live as well as I can in the present.

Farewell, my dear Richard; that you may lead a peaceful, aspiring, and generous life was ever, and must ever be, the prayer from the soul of your sister

MARGARET.


UNDAUNTED ROME.

Rome, May 6, 1819.

I write you from barricaded Rome. The "Mother of Nations" is now at bay against them all. Rome was suffering before. The misfortunes of other regions of Italy, the defeat at Novara, preconcerted in hope to strike the last blow at Italian independence, the surrender and painful condition of Genoa, the money-difficulties,—insuperable unless the government could secure confidence abroad as well as at home,—prevented her people from finding that foothold for which they were ready.

The vacillations of France agitated them; still they could not seriously believe she would ever act the part she has. We must [pg 434] say France, because, though many honorable men have washed their hands of all share in the perfidy, the Assembly voted funds to sustain the expedition to Civita Vecchia; and the nation, the army, have remained quiescent. No one was, no one could be, deceived as to the scope of this expedition. It was intended to restore the Pope to the temporal sovereignty, from which the people, by the use of suffrage, had deposed him. No doubt the French, in case of success, proposed to temper the triumph of Austria and Naples, and stipulate for conditions that might soothe the Romans and make their act less odious. They were probably deceived, also, by the representations of Gaëta, and believed that a large party, which had been intimidated by the republicans, would declare in favor of the Pope when they found themselves likely to be sustained. But this last pretext can in noway avail them. They landed at Civita Vecchia, and no one declared for the Pope. They marched on Rome. Placards were affixed within the walls by hands unknown, calling upon the Papal party to rise within the town. Not a soul stirred. The French had no excuse left for pretending to believe that the present government was not entirely acceptable to the people. Notwithstanding, they assail the gates; they fire upon St. Peter's, and their balls pierce the Vatican. They were repulsed, as they deserved, retired in quick and shameful defeat, as surely the brave French soldiery could not, if they had not been demoralized by the sense of what an infamous course they were pursuing.

France, eager to destroy the last hope of Italian emancipation,—France, the alguazil of Austria, the soldiers of republican France, firing upon republican Rome! If there be angel as well as demon powers that interfere in the affairs of men, those bullets could scarcely fail to be turned back against their own breasts. Yet Roman blood has flowed also; I saw how it stained the walls of the Vatican Gardens on the 30th of April—the first anniversary of the appearance of Pius IX.'s too famous encyclic letter. Shall he, shall any Pope, ever again walk peacefully in these gardens? It seems impossible! The temporal sovereignty of the Popes is virtually destroyed by their shameless, merciless measures taken to restore it. The spiritual dominion ultimately [pg 435] falls, too, into irrevocable ruin. What may be the issue at this moment, we cannot guess. The French have retired to Civita Vecchia, but whether to reëmbark or to await reinforcements, we know not. The Neapolitan force has halted within a few miles of the walls; it is not large, and they are undoubtedly surprised at the discomfiture of the French. Perhaps they wait for the Austrians, but we do not yet hear that these have entered the Romagna. Meanwhile, Rome is strongly barricaded, and, though she cannot stand always against a world in arms, she means at least to do so as long as possible. Mazzini is at her head; she has now a guide "who understands his faith," and all there is of a noble spirit will show itself. We all feel very sad, because the idea of bombs, barbarously thrown in, and street-fights in Rome, is peculiarly dreadful. Apart from all the blood and anguish inevitable at such times, the glories of Art may perish, and mankind be forever despoiled of the most beautiful inheritance. Yet I would defend Rome to the last moment. She must not be false to the higher hope that has dawned upon her. She must not fall back again into servility and corruption.

And no one is willing. The interference of the French has roused the weakest to resistance. "From the Austrians, from the Neapolitans," they cried, "we expected this; but from the French—it is too infamous; it cannot be borne;" and they all ran to arms and fought nobly.

The Americans here are not in a pleasant situation. Mr. Cass, the Chargé of the United States, stays here without recognizing the government. Of course, he holds no position at the present moment that can enable him to act for us. Beside, it gives us pain that our country, whose policy it justly is to avoid armed interference with the affairs of Europe, should not use a moral influence. Rome has, as we did, thrown off a government no longer tolerable; she has made use of the suffrage to form another; she stands on the same basis as ourselves. Mr. Rush did us great honor by his ready recognition of a principle as represented by the French Provisional Government; had Mr. Cass been empowered to do the same, our country would have acted nobly, and all that is most truly American in America [pg 436] would have spoken to sustain the sickened hopes of European democracy. But of this more when I write next. Who knows what I may have to tell another week?


TO HER BROTHER, R.B. FULLER.

Rome, May 22, 1849.

I do not write to Eugene yet, because around me is such excitement I cannot settle my mind enough to write a letter good for anything. The Neapolitans have been driven back; but the French, seem to be amusing us with a pretence of treaties, while waiting for the Austrians to come up. The Austrians cannot, I suppose, be more than three days' march from us. I feel but little about myself. Such thoughts are merged in indignation, and in the fears I have that Rome may be bombarded. It seems incredible that any nation should be willing to incur the infamy of such an act,—an act that may rob posterity of a most precious part of its inheritance;—only so many incredible things have happened of late. I am with William Story, his wife and uncle. Very kind friends they have been in this strait. They are going away, so soon as they can find horses,—going into Germany. I remain alone in the house, under our flag, almost the only American except the Consul and Ambassador. But Mr. Cass, the Envoy, has offered to do anything for me, and I feel at liberty to call on him if I please.

But enough of this. Let us implore of fate another good meeting, full and free, whether long or short. Love to dearest mother, Arthur, Ellen, Lloyd. Say to all, that, should any accident possible to these troubled times transfer me to another scene of existence, they need not regret it. There must be better worlds than this, where innocent blood is not ruthlessly shed, where treason does not so easily triumph, where the greatest and best are not crucified. I do not say this in apprehension, but in case of accident, you might be glad to keep this last word from your sister

MARGARET.

[pg 437]

TO R.W. EMERSON.

Rome, June 10, 1849.

I received your letter amid the round of cannonade and musketry. It was a terrible battle fought here from the first to the last light of day. I could see all its progress from my balcony. The Italians fought like lions. It is a truly heroic spirit that animates them. They make a stand here for honor and their rights, with little ground for hope that they can resist, now they are betrayed by France.

Since the 30th of April, I go almost daily to the hospitals, and though I have suffered, for I had no idea before how terrible gun-shot wounds and wound-fevers are, yet I have taken pleasure, and great pleasure, in being with the men. There is scarcely one who is not moved by a noble spirit. Many, especially among the Lombards, are the flower of the Italian youth. When they begin to get better, I carry them books and flowers; they read, and we talk.

The palace of the Pope, on the Quirinal, is now used for convalescents. In those beautiful gardens I walk with them, one with his sling, another with his crutch. The gardener plays off all his water-works for the defenders of the country, and gathers flowers for me, their friend.

A day or two since, we sat in the Pope's little pavilion, where he used to give private audience. The sun was going gloriously down over Monte Mario, where gleamed the white tents of the French light-horse among the trees. The cannonade was heard at intervals. Two bright-eyed boys sat at our feet, and gathered up eagerly every word said by the heroes of the day. It was a beautiful hour, stolen from the midst of ruin and sorrow, and tales were told as full of grace and pathos as in the gardens of Boccaccio, only in a very different spirit,—with noble hope for man, and reverence for woman.

[pg 438]

The young ladies of the family, very young girls, were filled with enthusiasm for the suffering, wounded patriots, and they wished to go to the hospital, to give their services. Excepting the three superintendents, none but married ladies were permitted to serve there, but their services were accepted. Their governess then wished to go too, and, as she could speak several languages, she was admitted to the rooms of the wounded soldiers, to interpret for them, as the nurses knew nothing but Italian, and many of these poor men were suffering because they could not make their wishes known. Some are French, some Germans, many Poles. Indeed, I am afraid it is too true that there were comparatively few Romans among them. This young lady passed several nights there.

Should I never return, and sometimes I despair of doing so, it seems so far off,—so difficult, I am caught in such a net of ties here,—if ever you know of my life here, I think you will only wonder at the constancy with which I have sustained myself,—the degree of profit to which, amid great difficulties, I have put the time,—at least in the way of observation. Meanwhile, love me all you can. Let me feel that, amid the fearful agitations of the world, there are pure hands, with healthful, even pulse, stretched out toward me, if I claim their grasp.

I feel profoundly for Mazzini. At moments I am tempted to say, "Cursed with every granted prayer,"—so cunning is the demon. Mazzini has become the inspiring soul of his people. He saw Rome, to which all his hopes through life tended, for the first time as a Roman citizen, and to become in a few days its ruler. He has animated, he sustains her to a glorious effort, which, if it fails this time, will not in the age. His country will be free. Yet to me it would be so dreadful to cause all this bloodshed,—to dig the graves of such martyrs!

Then, Rome is being destroyed; her glorious oaks,—her villas, haunts of sacred beauty, that seemed the possession of the world for ever,—the villa of Raphael, the villa of Albani, home of Winckelmann and the best expression of the ideal of modern Rome, and so many other sanctuaries of beauty,—all must perish, [pg 439] lest a foe should level his musket from their shelter. I could not, could not!

I know not, dear friend, whether I shall ever get home across that great ocean, but here in Rome I shall no longer wish to live.

O Rome, my country! could I imagine that the triumph of what I held dear was to heap such desolation on thy head!

Speaking of the republic, you say, "Do you not wish Italy had a great man?" Mazzini is a great man. In mind, a great, poetic statesman; in heart, a lover; in action, decisive and full of resource as Cæsar. Dearly I love Mazzini. He came in, just as I had finished the first letter to you. His soft, radiant look makes melancholy music in my soul; it consecrates my present life, that, like the Magdalen, I may, at the important hour, shed all the consecrated ointment on his head. There is one, Mazzini, who understands thee well,—who knew thee no less when an object of popular fear than now of idolatry,—and who, if the pen be not held too feebly, will help posterity to know thee too!


TO HER SISTER, MRS. E.K. CHANNING.

Rome, June 19, 1849.

As was Eve, at first, I suppose every mother is delighted by the birth of a man-child. There is a hope that he will conquer more ill, and effect more good, than is expected from girls. This prejudice in favor of man does not seem to be destroyed by his shortcomings for ages. Still, each mother hopes to find in hers an Emanuel. I should like very much to see your children, but hardly realize I ever shall. The journey home seems so long, so difficult, so expensive. I should really like to lie down here, and sleep my way into another sphere of existence, if I could take with me one or two that love and need me, and was sure of a good haven for them on that other side.

The world seems to go so strangely wrong! The bad side triumphs; the blood and tears of the generous flow in vain. I [pg 440] assist at many saddest scenes, and suffer for those whom I knew not before. Those whom I knew and loved,—who, if they had triumphed, would have opened for me an easier, broader, higher-mounting road,—are everyday more and more involved in earthly ruin. Eternity is with us, but there is much darkness and bitterness in this portion of it. A baleful star rose on my birth, and its hostility, I fear, will never be disarmed while I walk below.


TO W.H. CHANNING.

July, 1849.

I cannot tell you what I endured in leaving Rome, abandoning the wounded soldiers,—knowing that there is no provision made for them, when they rise from the beds where they have been thrown by a noble courage, and have suffered with a noble patience. Some of the poorer men, who rise bereft even of the right arm,—one having lost both the right arm and the right leg,—I could have provided for with a small sum. Could I have sold my hair, or blood from my arm, I would have done it. Had any of the rich Americans remained in Rome, they would have given it to me; they helped nobly at first, in the service of the hospitals, when there was far less need; but they had all gone. What would I have given could I but have spoken to one of the Lawrences, or the Phillipses! They could and would have saved this misery. These poor men are left helpless in the power of a mean and vindictive foe. You felt so oppressed in the Slave States; imagine what I felt at seeing all the noblest youth, all the genius of this dear land, again enslaved!


TO HER MOTHER.

Florence, February 6, 1850.

Dearest Mother,—After receiving your letter of October, I answered immediately; but as Richard mentions, in one dated [pg 441] December 4th, that you have not heard, I am afraid, by some post-office mistake, it went into the mail-bag of some sail-ship, instead of steamer, so you were very long without hearing. I regret it the more, as I wanted so much to respond fully to your letter,—so lovely, so generous, and which, of all your acts of love, was perhaps the one most needed by me, and which has touched me the most deeply.

I gave you in that a flattering picture of our life. And those pleasant days lasted till the middle of December; but then came on a cold unknown to Italy, and which has lasted ever since. As the apartments were not prepared for such weather, we suffered a good deal. Besides, both Ossoli and myself were taken ill at New-Year's time, and were not quite well again, all January: now we are quite well. The weather begins to soften, though still cloudy, damp, and chilly, so that poor baby can go out very little; on that account he does not grow so fast, and gets troublesome by evening, as he tires of being shut up in two or three little rooms, where he has examined every object hundreds of times. He is always pointing to the door. He suffers much with chilblains, as do other children here; however, he is, with that exception, in the best health, and is a great part of the time very gay, laughing and dancing in the nurse-maid's arms, and trying to sing and drum, in imitation of the bands, which play a great deal in the Piazza.

Nothing special has happened to me. The uninhabitableness of the rooms where I had expected to write, and the need of using our little dining-room, the only one in which is a stove, for dressing baby, taking care of him, eating, and receiving visits and messages, have prevented my writing for six or seven weeks past. In the evening, when baby went to bed, about eight, I began to have time, but was generally too tired to do anything but read. The four hours, however, from nine till one, beside the bright little fire, have been very pleasant. I have thought of you a great deal, remembering how you suffer from cold in the winter, and hope you are in a warm, comfortable house, have pleasant books to read, and some pleasant friends to see. One does not want many; only a few bright faces to look in now and then, and [pg 442] help thaw the ice with little rills of genial conversation. I have fewer of these than at Rome,—but still several.


Horace Sumner, youngest son of father's friend, Mr. Charles P. Sumner, lives near us, and comes every evening to read a little while with Ossoli. He has solid good in his heart and mind. We have a true regard for him, and he has shown true and steadfast sympathy for us; when I am ill or in a hurry, he helps me like a brother. Ossoli and Sumner exchange some instruction in English and Italian.


My sister's last letter from Europe is full of solemnity, and evidences her clear conviction of the perils of the voyage across the treacherous ocean. It is a leave-taking, dearly cherished now by the mother to whom it was addressed, the kindred of whom she speaks, and by those other kindred,—those who in spirit felt near to and loved her. It is as follows:—

Florence, May 14, 1850.

"Dear Mother,—I will believe I shall be welcome with my treasures,—my husband and child. For me, I long so much to see you! Should anything hinder our meeting upon earth, think of your daughter, as one who always wished, at least, to do her duty, and who always cherished you, according as her mind opened to discover excellence.

"Give dear love, too, to my brothers; and first to my eldest, faithful friend, Eugene; a sister's love to Ellen; love to my kind good aunts, and to my dear cousin E. God bless them!

"I hope we shall be able to pass some time together yet, in this world. But if God decrees otherwise,—here and HEREAFTER, my dearest mother,

"Your loving child,

"MARGARET."

[pg 443]

 

 

PART IV.

HOMEWARD VOYAGE, AND MEMORIALS.

 

It seems proper that some account of the sad close of Madame Ossoli's earthly journeyings should be embodied in this volume recording her travels. But a brother's hand trembles even now and cannot write it. Noble, heroic, unselfish, Christian was that death, even as had been her life; but its outward circumstances were too painful for my pen to describe. Nor needs it,—for a scene like that must have impressed itself indelibly on those who witnessed it, and accurate and vivid have been their narratives. The Memoirs of my sister contain a most faithful description; but as they are accessible to all, and I trust will be read by all who have read this volume, I have chosen rather to give the accounts somewhat condensed which appeared in the New York Tribune at the time of the calamity. The first is from the pen of Bayard Taylor, who visited the scene on the day succeeding the wreck, and describes the appearance of the shore and the remains of the vessel. This is followed by the narrative of Mrs. Hasty, wife of the captain, herself a participant in the scene, and so overwhelmed by grief at her husband's loss, and that of friends she had learned so much to value, that she has since faded from this life. A true and noble woman, her account deserves to be remembered. The third article is from the pen of Horace Greeley, my sister's ever-valued friend. Several poems, suggested by this scene, written by those in the Old World and New who loved and honored Madame Ossoli, are also inserted here. The respect they testify for the departed is soothing to the hearts of kindred, and to the many who love and cherish the memory of Margaret Fuller.—ED.

[pg 444]

 

LETTER OF BAYARD TAYLOR

Fire Island, Tuesday, July 23.

To the Editors of the Tribune:—

I reached the house of Mr. Smith Oakes, about one mile from the spot where the Elizabeth was wrecked, at three o'clock this morning. The boat in which I set out last night from Babylon, to cross the bay, was seven hours making the passage. On landing among the sand-hills, Mr. Oakes admitted me into his house, and gave me a place of rest for the remaining two or three hours of the night.

This morning I visited the wreck, traversed the beach for some extent on both sides, and collected all the particulars that are now likely to be obtained, relative to the closing scenes of this terrible disaster. The sand is strewn for a distance of three or four miles with fragments of planks, spars, boxes, and the merchandise with which the vessel was laden. With the exception of a piece of her broadside, which floated to the shore intact, all the timbers have been so chopped and broken by the sea, that scarcely a stick of ten feet in length can be found. In front of the wreck these fragments are piled up along high-water mark to the height of several feet, while farther in among the sand-hills are scattered casks of almonds stove in, and their contents mixed with the sand, sacks of juniper-berries, oil-flasks, &c. About half the hull remains under water, not more than fifty yards from the shore. The spars and rigging belonging to the foremast, with part of the mast itself, are still attached to the ruins, surging over them at every swell. Mr. Jonathan Smith, the agent of the underwriters, intended to have the surf-boat launched this morning, for the purpose of cutting away the rigging and ascertaining how the wreck lies; but the sea is still too high.

From what I can learn, the loss of the Elizabeth is mainly to be attributed to the inexperience of the mate, Mr. H.P. Bangs, who acted as captain after leaving Gibraltar. By his own statement, he supposed he was somewhere between Cape May and [pg 445] Barnegat, on Thursday evening. The vessel was consequently running northward, and struck head on. At the second thump, a hole was broken in her side, the seas poured through and over her, and she began going to pieces. This happened at ten minutes before four o'clock. The passengers were roused from their sleep by the shock, and hurried out of the cabin in their night-clothes, to take refuge on the forecastle, which was the least exposed part of the vessel. They succeeded with great difficulty; Mrs. Hasty, the widow of the late captain, fell into a hatchway, from which she was dragged by a sailor who seized her by the hair.

The swells increased continually, and the danger of the vessel giving way induced several of the sailors to commit themselves to the waves. Previous to this they divested themselves of their clothes, which they tied to pieces of plank and sent ashore. These were immediately seized upon by the beach pirates, and never afterward recovered. The carpenter cut loose some planks and spars, and upon one of these Madame Ossoli was advised to trust herself, the captain promising to go in advance, with her boy. She refused, saying that she had no wish to live without the child, and would not, at that hour, give the care of it to another. Mrs. Hasty then took hold of a plank, in company with the second mate, Mr. Davis, through whose assistance she landed safely, though terribly bruised by the floating timber. The captain clung to a hatch, and was washed ashore insensible, where he was resuscitated by the efforts of Mr. Oakes and several others, who were by this time collected on the beach. Most of the men were entirely destitute of clothing, and some, who were exhausted and ready to let go their hold, were saved by the islanders, who went into the surf with lines about their waists, and caught them.

The young Italian girl, Celesta Pardena, who was bound for New York, where she had already lived in the family of Henry Peters Gray, the artist, was at first greatly alarmed, and uttered the most piercing screams. By the exertions of the Ossolis she was quieted, and apparently resigned to her fate. The passengers reconciled themselves to the idea of death. At the proposal of the Marquis Ossoli some time was spent in prayer, after which [pg 446] all sat down calmly to await the parting of the vessel. The Marchioness Ossoli was entreated by the sailors to leave the vessel, or at least to trust her child to them, but she steadily refused.

Early in the morning some men had been sent to the lighthouse for the life-boat which is kept there. Although this is but two miles distant, the boat did not arrive till about one o'clock, by which time the gale had so increased, and the swells were so high and terrific, that it was impossible to make any use of it. A mortar was also brought for the purpose of firing a line over the vessel, to stretch a hawser between it and the shore. The mortar was stationed on the lee of a hillock, about a hundred and fifty rods from the wreck, that the powder might be kept dry. It was fired five times, but failed to carry a line more than half the necessary distance. Just before the forecastle sunk, the remaining sailors determined to leave.

The steward, with whom the child had always been a great favorite, took it, almost by main force, and plunged with it into the sea; neither reached the shore alive. The Marquis Ossoli was soon afterwards washed away, but his wife remained in ignorance of his fate. The cook, who was the last person that reached the shore alive, said that the last words he heard her speak were: "I see nothing but death before me,—I shall never reach the shore." It was between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, and after lingering for about ten hours, exposed to the mountainous surf that swept over the vessel, with the contemplation of death constantly forced upon her mind, she was finally overwhelmed as the foremast fell. It is supposed that her body and that of her husband are still buried under the ruins of the vessel. Mr. Horace Sumner, who jumped overboard early in the morning, was never seen afterwards.

The dead bodies that were washed on shore were terribly bruised and mangled. That of the young Italian girl was enclosed in a rough box, and buried in the sand, together with those of the sailors. Mrs. Hasty had by this time found a place of shelter at Mr. Oakes's house, and at her request the body of the boy, Angelo Eugene Ossoli, was carried thither, and kept for a [pg 447] day previous to interment. The sailors, who had all formed a strong attachment to him during the voyage, wept like children when they saw him. There was some difficulty in finding a coffin when the time of burial came, whereupon they took one of their chests, knocked out the tills, laid the body carefully inside, locked and nailed down the lid. He was buried in a little nook between two of the sand-hills, some distance from the sea.

The same afternoon a trunk belonging to the Marchioness Ossoli came to shore, and was fortunately secured before the pirates had an opportunity of purloining it. Mrs. Hasty informs me that it contained several large packages of manuscripts, which she dried carefully by the fire. I have therefore a strong hope that the work on Italy will be entirely recovered. In a pile of soaked papers near the door, I found files of the Democratie Pacifique and Il Nazionale of Florence, as well as several of Mazzini's pamphlets, which I have preserved.

An attempt will probably be made to-morrow to reach the wreck with the surf-boat. Judging from its position and the known depth of the water, I should think the recovery, not only of the bodies, if they are still remaining there, but also of Powers's statue and the blocks of rough Carrara, quite practicable, if there should be a sufficiency of still weather. There are about a hundred and fifty tons of marble under the ruins. The paintings, belonging to Mr. Aspinwall, which were washed ashore in boxes, and might have been saved had any one been on the spot to care for them, are for the most part utterly destroyed. Those which were least injured by the sea-water were cut from the frames and carried off by the pirates; the frames were broken in pieces, and scattered along the beach. This morning I found several shreds of canvas, evidently more than a century old, half buried in the sand. All the silk, Leghorn braid, hats, wool, oil, almonds, and other articles contained in the vessel, were carried off as soon as they came to land. On Sunday there were nearly a thousand persons here, from all parts of the coast between Rockaway and Montauk, and more than half of them were engaged in secreting and carrying off everything that seemed to be of value.

[pg 448]

The two bodies found yesterday were those of sailors. All have now come to land but those of the Ossolis and Horace Sumner. If not found in the wreck, they will be cast ashore to the westward of this, as the current has set in that direction since the gale.

Yours, &c.

 

THE WRECK OF THE ELIZABETH.

From a conversation with Mrs. Hasty, widow of the captain of the ill-fated Elizabeth, we gather the following particulars of her voyage and its melancholy termination.

We have already stated that Captain Hasty was prostrated, eight days after leaving Leghorn, by a disease which was regarded and treated as fever, but which ultimately exhibited itself as small-pox of the most malignant type. He died of it just as the vessel reached Gibraltar, and his remains were committed to the deep. After a short detention in quarantine, the Elizabeth resumed her voyage on the 8th ultimo, and was long baffled by adverse winds. Two days from Gibraltar, the terrible disease which had proved fatal to the captain attacked the child of the Ossolis, a beautiful boy of two years, and for many days his recovery was regarded as hopeless. His eyes were completely closed for five days, his head deprived of all shape, and his whole person covered with pustules; yet, through the devoted attention of his parents and their friends, he survived, and at length gradually recovered. Only a few scars and red spots remained on his face and body, and these were disappearing, to the great joy of his mother, who felt solicitous that his rare beauty should not be marred at his first meeting with those she loved, and especially her mother.

At length, after a month of slow progress, the wind shifted, and blew strongly from the southwest for several days, sweeping them rapidly on their course, until, on Thursday evening last, they [pg 449] knew that they were near the end of their voyage. Their trunks were brought up and repacked, in anticipation of a speedy arrival in port. Meantime, the breeze gradually swelled to a gale, which became decided about nine o'clock on that evening. But their ship was new and strong, and all retired to rest as usual. They were running west, and supposed themselves about sixty miles farther south than they actually were. By their reckoning, they would be just off the harbor of New York next morning. About half past two o'clock, Mr. Bangs, the mate in command, took soundings, and reported twenty-one fathoms. He said that depth insured their safety till daylight, and turned in again. Of course, all was thick around the vessel, and the storm howling fiercely. One hour afterward, the ship struck with great violence, and in a moment was fast aground. She was a stout brig of 531 tons, five years old, heavily laden with marble, &c., and drawing seventeen feet water. Had she been light, she might have floated over the bar into twenty feet water, and all on board could have been saved. She struck rather sidewise than bows on, canted on her side and stuck fast, the mad waves making a clear sweep over her, pouring down into the cabin through the skylight, which was destroyed. One side of the cabin was immediately and permanently under water, the other frequently drenched. The passengers, who were all up in a moment, chose the most sheltered positions, and there remained, calm, earnest, and resigned to any fate, for a long three hours. No land was yet visible; they knew not where they were, but they knew that their chance of surviving was small indeed. When the coast was first visible through the driving storm in the gray light of morning, the sand-hills were mistaken for rocks, which made the prospect still more dismal. The young Ossoli cried a little with discomfort and fright, but was soon hushed to sleep. Our friend Margaret had two life-preservers, but one of them proved unfit for use. All the boats had been smashed in pieces or torn away soon after the vessel struck; and it would have been madness to launch them in the dark, if it had been possible to launch them at all, with the waves charging over the wreck every moment. A sailor, soon after [pg 450] light, took Madame Ossoli's serviceable life-preserver and swam ashore with it, in quest of aid for those left on board, and arrived safe, but of course could not return his means of deliverance.

By 7 A.M. it became evident that the cabin must soon go to pieces, and indeed it was scarcely tenantable then. The crew were collected in the forecastle, which was stronger and less exposed, the vessel having settled by the stem, and the sailors had been repeatedly ordered to go aft and help the passengers forward, but the peril was so great that none obeyed. At length the second mate, Davis, went himself, and accompanied the Italian girl, Celesta Pardena, safely to the forecastle, though with great difficulty. Madame Ossoli went next, and had a narrow escape from being washed away, but got over. Her child was placed in a bag tied around a sailor's neck, and thus carried safely. Marquis Ossoli and the rest followed, each convoyed by the mate or one of the sailors.

All being collected in the forecastle, it was evident that their position was still most perilous, and that the ship could not much longer hold together. The women were urged to try first the experiment of taking each a plank and committing themselves to the waves. Madame Ossoli refused thus to be separated from her husband and child. She had from the first expressed a willingness to live or die with them, but not to live without them. Mrs. Hasty was the first to try the plank, and, though the struggle was for some time a doubtful one, did finally reach the shore, utterly exhausted. There was a strong current setting to the westward, so that, though the wreck lay but a quarter of a mile from the shore, she landed three fourths of a mile distant. No other woman, and no passenger, survives, though several of the crew came ashore after she did, in a similar manner. The last who came reports that the child had been washed away from the man who held it before the ship broke up, that Ossoli had in like manner been washed from the foremast, to which he was clinging; but, in the horror of the moment, Margaret never learned that those she so clung to had preceded her to the spirit land. Those who remained of the crew had just persuaded [pg 451] her to trust herself to a plank, in the belief that Ossoli and their child had already started for the shore, when just as she was stepping down, a great wave broke over the vessel and swept her into the boiling deep. She never rose again. The ship broke up soon after (about 10 A.M. Mrs. Hasty says, instead of the later hour previously reported); but both mates and most of the crew got on one fragment or another. It was supposed that those of them who were drowned were struck by floating spars or planks, and thus stunned or disabled so as to preclude all chance of their rescue.

We do not know at the time of this writing whether the manuscript of our friend's work on Italy and her late struggles has been saved. We fear it has not been. One of her trunks is known to have been saved; but, though it contained a good many papers, Mrs. Hasty believes that this was not among them. The author had thrown her whole soul into this work, had enjoyed the fullest opportunities for observation, was herself a partaker in the gallant though unsuccessful struggle which has redeemed the name of Rome from the long rust of sloth, servility, and cowardice, was the intimate friend and compatriot of the Republican leaders, and better fitted than any one else to refute the calumnies and falsehoods with which their names have been blackened by the champions of aristocratic "order" throughout the civilized world. We cannot forego the hope that her work on Italy has been saved, or will yet be recovered.


The following is a complete list of the persons lost by the wreck of the ship Elizabeth:—

Giovanni, Marquis Ossoli.

Margaret Fuller Ossoli.

Their child, Eugene Angelo Ossoli.

Celesta Pardena, of Rome.

Horace Sumner, of Boston.

George Sanford, seaman (Swede).

Henry Westervelt, seaman (Swede).

George Bates, steward.

[pg 452]

 

DEATH OF MARGARET FULLER.

A great soul has passed from this mortal stage of being by the death of MARGARET FULLER, by marriage Marchioness Ossoli, who, with her husband and child, Mr. Horace Sumner of Boston,O and others, was drowned in the wreck of the brig Elizabeth from Leghorn for this port, on the south shore of Long Island, near Fire Island, on Friday afternoon last. No passenger survives to tell the story of that night of horrors, whose fury appalled many of our snugly sheltered citizens reposing securely in their beds. We can adequately realize what it must have been to voyagers approaching our coast from the Old World, on vessels helplessly exposed to the rage of that wild southwestern gale, and seeing in the long and anxiously expected land of their youth and their love only an aggravation of their perils, a death-blow to their hopes, an assurance of their temporal doom!

Margaret Fuller was the daughter of Hon. Timothy Fuller, a lawyer of Boston, but nearly all his life a resident of Cambridge, and a Representative of the Middlessex District in Congress from 1817 to 1825. Mr. Fuller, upon his retirement from Congress, purchased a farm at some distance from Boston, and abandoned law for agriculture, soon after which he died. His widow and six children still survive.

[pg 453]

Margaret, if we mistake not, was the first-born, and from a very early age evinced the possession of remarkable intellectual powers. Her father regarded her with a proud admiration, and was from childhood her chief instructor, guide, companion, and friend. He committed the too common error of stimulating her intellect to an assiduity and persistency of effort which severely taxed and ultimately injured her physical powers.P At eight years of age he was accustomed to require of her the composition of a number of Latin verses per day, while her studies in philosophy, history, general science, and current literature were in after years extensive and profound. After her father's death, she applied herself to teaching as a vocation, first in Boston, then in Providence, and afterward in Boston again, where her "Conversations" were for several seasons attended by classes of women, some of them married, and including many from the best families of the "American Athens."

In the autumn of 1844, she accepted an invitation to take part in the conduct of the Tribune, with especial reference to the department of Reviews and Criticism on current Literature, Art, Music, &c.; a position which she filled for nearly two years,—how eminently, our readers well know. Her reviews of Longfellow's Poems, Wesley's Memoirs, Poe's Poems, Bailey's "Festus," Douglas's Life, &c. must yet be remembered by many. She had previously found "fit audience, though few," for a series of remarkable papers on "The Great Musicians," "Lord Herbert of Cherbury," "Woman," &c., &c., in "The Dial," a quarterly of remarkable breadth and vigor, of which she was at first co-editor with Ralph Waldo Emerson, but which was afterward edited by him only, though she continued a contributor to its pages. In 1843, she accompanied some friends on a tour via Niagara, Detroit, and Mackinac to Chicago, and across the prairies of Illinois, and her [pg 454] resulting volume, entitled "Summer on the Lakes," is one of the best works in this department ever issued from the American press. It was too good to be widely and instantly popular. Her "Woman in the Nineteenth Century"—an extension of her essay in the Dial—was published by us early in 1845, and a moderate edition sold. The next year, a selection from her "Papers on Literature and Art" was issued by Wiley and Putnam, in two fair volumes of their "Library of American Books." We believe the original edition was nearly or quite exhausted, but a second has not been called for, while books nowise comparable to it for strength or worth have run through half a dozen editions.Q These "Papers" embody some of her best contributions to the Dial, the Tribune, and perhaps one or two which had not appeared in either.

In the summer of 1845, Miss Fuller accompanied the family of a devoted friend to Europe, visiting England, Scotland, France, and passing through Italy to Rome, where they spent the ensuing winter. She accompanied her friends next spring to the North of Italy, and there stopped, spending most of the summer at Florence, and returning at the approach of winter to Rome, where she was soon after married to Giovanni, Marquis Ossoli, who had made her acquaintance during her first winter in the Eternal City. They have since resided in the Roman States until the last summer, after the surrender of Rome to the French army of assassins of liberty, when they deemed it expedient to migrate to Florence, both having taken an active part in the Republican movement which resulted so disastrously,—nay, of which the ultimate result is yet to be witnessed. Thence in June they departed and set sail at Leghorn for this port, in the Philadelphia brig Elizabeth, which was doomed to encounter a succession of disasters. They had not been many days at sea when the captain was prostrated by a disease which ultimately exhibited itself as confluent small-pox of the most malignant type, and terminated his life soon after they touched at Gibraltar, after a sickness of intense [pg 455] agony and loathsome horror. The vessel was detained some days in quarantine by reason of this affliction, but finally set sail again on the 8th ultimo, just in season to bring her on our coast on the fearful night between Thursday and Friday last, when darkness, rain, and a terrific gale from the southwest (the most dangerous quarter possible), conspired to hurl her into the very jaws of destruction. It is said, but we know not how truly, that the mate in command since the captain's death mistook the Fire Island light for that on the Highlands of Neversink, and so fatally miscalculated his course; but it is hardly probable that any other than a first-class, fully manned ship could have worked off that coast under such a gale, blowing him directly toward the roaring breakers. She struck during the night, and before the next evening the Elizabeth was a mass of drifting sticks and planks, while her passengers and part of her crew were buried in the boiling surges. Alas that our gifted friend, and those nearest to and most loved by her, should have been among them!

We trust a new, compact, and cheap edition or selection, of Margaret Fuller's writings will soon be given to the public, prefaced by a Memoir. It were a shame to us if one so radiantly lofty in intellect, so devoted to human liberty and well-being, so ready to dare and to endure for the upraising of her sex and her race, should perish from among us, and leave no memento less imperfect and casual than those we now have. We trust the more immediate relatives of our departed friend will lose no time in selecting the fittest person to prepare a Memoir, with a selection from her writings, for the press.R America has produced no woman who in mental endowments and acquirements has surpassed Margaret Fuller, and it will be a public misfortune if her thoughts are not promptly and acceptably embodied.

Footnote O: (return)

Horace Sumner, one of the victims of the lamentable wreck of the Elizabeth, was the youngest son of the late Hon. Charles P. Sumner, of Boston, for many years Sheriff of Suffolk County, and the brother of George Sumner, Esq., the distinguished American writer, now resident at Paris, and of Hon. Charles Sumner of Boston, who is well known for his legal and literary eminence throughout the country. He was about twenty-four years of age, and had been abroad for nearly a year, travelling in the South of Europe for the benefit of his health. The past winter was spent by him chiefly in Florence, where he was on terms of familiar intimacy with the Marquis and Marchioness Ossoli, and was induced to take passage in the same vessel with them for his return to his native land. He was a young man of singular modesty of deportment, of an original turn of mind, and greatly endeared to his friends by the sweetness of his disposition and the purity of his character.

Footnote P: (return)

I think this opinion somewhat erroneous, for reasons which I have already given in the edition recently published of Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The reader is referred to page 352 of that work, and also to page 38, where I believe my sister personified herself under the name of Miranda, and stated clearly and justly the relation which, existed between her father and herself.—ED.

Footnote Q: (return)

A second edition has since been published.—ED.

Footnote R: (return)

The reader is aware that such a Memoir has since been published, and that several of her works have been republished likewise. I trust soon to publish a volume of Madame Ossoli's Miscellaneous Writings.—ED.

[pg 456]

 

MARGARET FULLER OSSOLI

BY C.P. CRANCH.

O still, sweet summer days!     O moonlight nights!

After so drear a storm how can ye shine?

O smiling world of many-hued delights,

How canst thou 'round our sad hearts still entwine

The accustomed wreaths of pleasure? How, O Day,

Wakest thou so full of beauty? Twilight deep,

How diest thou so tranquilly away?

And how, O Night, bring'st thou the sphere of sleep?

For she is gone from us,—gone, lost for ever,—

In the wild billows swallowed up and lost,—

Gone, full of love, life, hope, and high endeavor,

Just when we would have welcomed her the most.

Was it for this, O woman, true and pure!

That life through shade and light had formed thy mind

To feel, imagine, reason, and endure,—

To soar for truth, to labor for mankind?

Was it for this sad end thou didst bear thy part

In deeds and words for struggling Italy,—

Devoting thy large mind and larger heart

That Rome in later days might yet be free?

And, from that home driven out by tyranny,

Didst turn to see thy fatherland once more,

Bearing affection's dearest ties with thee;

And as the vessel bore thee to our shore,

And hope rose to fulfilment,—on the deck,

When friends seemed almost beckoning unto thee:

O God! the fearful storm,—the splitting wreck,—

The drowning billows of the dreary sea!

[pg 457]

O, many a heart was stricken dumb with grief!

We who had known thee here,—had met thee there

Where Rome threw golden light on every leaf

Life's volume turned in that enchanted air,—

O friend! how we recall the Italian days

Amid the Cæsar's ruined palace halls,—

The Coliseum, and the frescoed blaze

Of proud St. Peter's dome,—the Sistine walls,—

The lone Campagna and the village green,—

The Vatican,—the music and dim light

Of gorgeous temples,—statues, pictures, seen

With thee: those sunny days return so bright,

Now thou art gone! Thou hast a fairer world

Than that bright clime. The dreams that filled thee here

Now find divine completion, and, unfurled

Thy spirit-wings, find out their own high sphere.

Farewell! thought-gifted, noble-hearted one!

We, who have known thee, know thou art not lost;

The star that set in storms still shines upon

The o'ershadowing cloud, and, when we sorrow most,

In the blue spaces of God's firmament

Beams out with purer light than we have known.

Above the tempest and the wild lament

Of those who weep the radiance that is flown.

[pg 458]

 

THE DEATH OF MARGARET FULLER OSSOLI.

BY MARY C. AMES.

O Italy! amid thy scenes of blood,

She acted long a woman's noble part!

Soothing the dying of thy sons, proud Rome!

Till thou wert bowed, O city of her heart!

When thou hadst fallen, joy no longer flowed

In the rich sunlight of thy heaven;

And from thy glorious domes and shrines of art,

No quickening impulse to her life was given.

From the deep shadow of thy cypress hills,

From the soft beauty of thy classic plains,

The noble-hearted, with, her treasures, turned

To the far land where Freedom proudly reigns.

After the rocking of long years of storms,

Her weary spirit looked and longed for rest;

Pictures of home, of loved and kindred forms,

Rose warm and life-like in her aching breast.

But the wild ocean rolled before her home;

And, listening long unto its fearful moan,

She thought of myriads who had found their rest

Down in its caverns, silent, deep, and lone.

Then rose the prayer within her heart of hearts,

With the dark phantoms of a coming grief,

That "Nino, Ossoli, and I may go

Together;—that the anguish may be brief."

The bark spread out her pennons proud and free,

The sunbeams frolicked with the wanton waves;

Smiled through the long, long days the summer sea,

And sung sweet requiems o'er her sunken graves.

[pg 459]

E'en then the shadow of the fearful King

Hung deep and darkening o'er the fated bark;

Suffering and death and anguish reigned, ere came

Hope's weary dove back to the longing ark.

This was the morning to the night of woe;

When the grim Ocean, in his fiercest wrath,

Held fearful contest with the god of storms,

Who lashed the waves with death upon his path.

O night of agony! O awful morn,

That oped on such a scene thy sullen eyes!

The shattered ship,—those wrecked and broken hearts,

Who only prayed, "Together let us die."

Was this thy greeting longed for, Margaret,

In the high, noontide of thy lofty pride?

The welcome sighed for, in thine hours of grief,

When pride had fled and hope in thee had died?

Twelve hours' communion with the Terror-King!

No wandering hope to give the heart relief!

And yet thy prayer was heard,—the cold waves wrapt

Those forms "together," and the woe was "brief."

Thus closed thy day in darkness and in tears;

Thus waned a life, alas! too full of pain;

But O thou noble woman! thy brief life,

Though full of sorrows, was not lived in vain.

No more a pilgrim o'er a weary waste,

With light ineffable thy mind is crowned;

Heaven's richest lore is thine own heritage;

All height is gained, thy "kingdom" now is found.

[pg 460]

 

TO THE MEMORY OF MARGARET FULLER.

BY E. OAKES SMITH.

We hailed thee, Margaret, from the sea,

We hailed thee o'er the wave,

And little thought, in greeting thee,

Thy home would be a grave.

We blest thee in thy laurel crown,

And in the myrtle's sheen,—

Rejoiced thy noble worth to own,

Still joy, our tears between.

We hoped that many a happy year

Would bless thy coming feet;

And thy bright fame grow brighter here,

By Fatherland made sweet.

Gone, gone! with all thy glorious thought,—

Gone with thy waking life,—

With the green chaplet Fame had wrought,—

The joy of Mother, Wife.

Oh! who shall dare thy harp to take,

And pour upon the air

The clear, calm music, that should wake

The heart to love and prayer!

The lip, all eloquent, is stilled

And silent with its trust,—

The heart, with Woman's greatness filled,

Must crumble to the dust:

But from thy great heart we will take

New courage for the strife;

[pg 461]

From petty ills our bondage break,

And labor with new life.

Wake up, in darkness though it be,

To better truth and light;

Patient in toil, as we saw thee,

In searching for the light;

And mindless of the scorn it brings,

For 't is in desert land

That angels come with sheltering wings

To lead us by the hand.

Courageous one! thou art not lost,

Though sleeping in the wave;

Upon its chainless billows tost,

For thee is fitting grave.

 

SLEEP SWEETLY, GENTLE CHILD.S

[The only child of the Marchioness Ossoli, well known as Margaret Fuller, is buried in the Valley Cemetery, at Manchester, N.H. There is always a vase of flowers placed near the grave, and a marble slab, with a cross and lily sculptured upon it, bears this inscription: "In Memory of Angelo Eugene Philip Ossoli, who was born at Rieti, in Italy, 5th September, 1848, and perished by shipwreck off Fire Island, with both his parents, Giovanni Angelo and Margaret Fuller Ossoli, on the 19th of July, 1850."]

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! though to this sleep

The cold winds rocked thee, on the ocean's breast,

And strange, wild murmurs o'er the dark, blue deep

Were the last sounds that lulled thee to thy rest,

[pg 462]

And while the moaning waves above thee rolled,

The hearts that loved thee best grew still and cold.

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! though the loved tone

That twice twelve months had hushed thee to repose

Could give no answer to the tearful moan

That faintly from thy sea-moss pillow rose.

That night the arms that closely folded thee

Were the wet weeds that floated in the sea.

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! the cold, blue wave

Hath pitied the sad sighs the wild winds bore,

And from the wreck it held one treasure gave

To the fond watchers weeping on the shore;—

Now the sweet vale shall guard its precious trust,

While mourning hearts weep o'er thy silent dust.

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! love's tears are shed

Upon the garlands of fair Northern flowers

That fond hearts strew above thy lowly bed,

Through all our summer's glad and pleasant hours:

For thy sake, and for hers who sleeps beneath the wave,

Kind hands bring flowers to fade upon thy grave.

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! the warm wind sighs

Amid the dark pines through this quiet dell,

And waves the light flower-shade that lies

Upon the white-leaved lily's sculptured bell;—

The "Valley's" flowers are fair, the turf is green;—

Sleep sweetly here, wept-for Eugene!

Sleep sweetly, gentle child! this peaceful rest

Hath early given thee to a home above,

Safe from all sin and tears, for, ever blest

To sing sweet praises of redeeming love.—

The love that took thee to that world of bliss

Ere thou hadst learned the sighs and griefs of this.

JULIET.

Laurel Brook, N.H., September, 1851.

[pg 463]

 

ON THE DEATH OF MARGARET FULLER.

BY G.P.R. JAMES.

High hopes and bright thine early path bedecked,

And aspirations beautiful though wild,—

A heart too strong, a powerful will unchecked,

A dream that earth-things could be undefiled.

But soon, around thee, grew a golden chain,

That bound the woman to more human things,

And taught with joy—and, it may be, with pain—

That there are limits e'en to Spirit's wings.

Husband and child,—the loving and beloved,—

Won, from the vast of thought, a mortal part,

The impassioned wife and mother, yielding, proved

Mind has itself a master—in the heart.

In distant lands enhaloed by, old fame

Thou found'st the only chain thy spirit knew,

But captive ledst thy captors, from the shame

Of ancient freedom, to the pride of new.

And loved hearts clung around thee on the deck,

Welling with sunny hopes 'neath sunny skies:

The wide horizon round thee had no speck,—

E'en Doubt herself could see no cloud arise.

Thy loved ones clung around thee, when the sail

O'er wide Atlantic billows onward bore

Thy freight of joys, and the expanding gale

Pressed the glad bark toward thy native shore.

[pg 464]

The loved ones clung around thee still, when all

Was darkness, tempest, terror, and dismay,—

More closely clung around thee, when the pall

Of Fate was falling o'er the mortal clay.

With them to live,—with them, with them to die,

Sublime of human love intense and fine!—

Was thy last prayer unto the Deity;

And it was granted thee by Love Divine.

In the same billow,—in the same dark grave,—

Mother, and child, and husband, fin