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EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY 
EDITED BY ERNEST RHYS 



ESSAYS AND 
BELLES LETTRES 



CURTIS' TRUE AND 1 & 
LOTUS- EATING. WITH 

AN INTRODUCTION BY 
HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE 



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London : J. M. DENT h SONS, Ltd. 
New York: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 






PRUE ^ I 
LOTUS a 
EATING .^1 
GWCURTIS 




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(?ijAND IN NEW YORKW 
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INTRODUCTION 

The Elizabeth and Ann, sailing- from the port of 
London in May 1635, brought to New England 
seven passengers who were duly certified by their 
respective Ministers and Justices of the Peace as 
having conformed to the orders and discipline of the 
Church of England, and taken the oaths of allegiance 
and supremacy; and it is added that "they were no 
subsidy men." The last name on the list of seven in 
Batten's "List of Emigrants to America" was that 
of Henry Curtis, from whom George ^^'illiam Curtis 
was descended in the sixth generation. The men of 
the family were notable for independence of judg- 
ment and action ; one of them, John Curtis, of Wor- 
cester, Mass., was an outspoken loyalist when the 
War of the Revolution broke out, and was banished 
from the town ; but was taken back later without, 
apparently, any recantation of opinions on his part. 

The great grandson of this outspoken loyalist was 
George Curtis, who removed to Providence, i.iarried 
fhe daughter of the Chief Justice of Rhode Island, 
and in 1824 became the father of George William 
Curtis. He was conspicuous for integrity, courtesy, 
and cultivation of taste. In one of the most delight- 
ful chapters in Pnie and I " Sea from Shore " 
Mr. Curtis has recorded his impressions of the 
wharves of Providence as they appealed to his boyish 
imagination, sensitive to colour, to the subtle sug- 

vii 



viii Introduction 

.gestions of odour, to hints of adventure in remote 
countries. He was fortunate in his companionship 
with his brother Burrill, a boy of rare beauty and 
tfineness of nature, who looked, in his brother's 
words, "as I am sure Philip Sidney looked when he 
was a boy." 

The education of the brothers was both Irregular 
and fortunate ; and one of its happiest phases was the 
influence of Emerson, one of the most liberating and 
inspiring thinkers who have appeared in America. 
From 1842 to 1844 the brothers were "boarders and 
boarders only " at Brook Farm, that interesting ex- 
periment in plain living and high thinking which was 
one of the expressions of the stirring of the New 
England spirit, breaking away from Puritanism. 
Emerson, who was as witty as he was wise, de- 
scribed it as "a perpetual picnic, a French Revolu- 
tion in small, an Age of Reason in a patty pan." 
To the Curtis brothers it was a period of stiff work 
in the languages, chemistry and music, and free and 
stimulating talk with the ardent and often interest- 
ing apostles of the new thought which came from 
Germany by way of Coleridge, and was modified and 
extended by the keen, penetrating New England 
intelligence, and by a good deal of very human fun. 
"We were thrown into convulsions of laughter at 
the sight of G. W. C. dressed as Fanny Elssler, 
making courtesies and pirouetting down the path," 
writes one of the chroniclers of Brook Farm. The 
brothers were embodiments of beauty and vigour; 
a visitor to the Farm reports that they "looked 
like young Greek Gods." In later years George 
William Curtis had a singular distinction of manner, 



Introduction ix 

speech, and carriage, with a voice of beautiful 
musical quahty. Later the brothers took up their 
residence with an elderly farmer in Concord, divid- 
ing their time between work in the fields and study, 
with delightful interludes of companionship with 
Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Ellery Channing 
and other men of note. In August 1846, Mr. Curtis 
sailed for Europe, spending four successive winters 
in Rome, Berlin, Paris, Egypt and Palestine, be- 
coming a keen observer of men and manners, making 
acquaintance with life and art, and saturating him- 
self with the atmosphere of the Old World without 
losing his independence of judgment or that fresh- 
ness of feeling which made him to the very end a 
winning teacher of the ethics and practice of idealism. 
Returning from Europe, with an impressionable 
imagination and a fund of vivid reminiscences, Mr. 
Curtis wrote Tlie Howadji in Syria, and Nile Notes of 
a Hozvadji, two books saturated with the colour and 
mystery of the nearer East. The young writer was 
captivated by the sensuous beauty of a world little 
known to Americans of that time ; and the rich 
colour and ardent style of these forerunners of the 
literature of travel in the Orient, made a distinct 
Impression, especially on young readers. In the 
summer of 1851, Mr. Curtis made various little 
journeys to points of interest nearer home. He saw 
a number of summer resorts then at the height of 
their popularity : Niagara, Sharon, Nahant, New- 
port. There was infinite relish in his enjoyment of 
the natural charms of these impressive or picturesque 
localities, and in his amused enjoyment of the follies 
of fashion which in a mild, unsophisticated New 



X Introduction 

World way made them the happy hunting-grounds 
of the satirical and cynical. Mr. Curtis was too 
wholesome and kindly for cynicism, but he had a 
quick eye for pretension and sham, and a happy gift 
for social satire, as The Potiphar Papers, published 
a year later, showed. The habit of writing was 
already established, and a record of these short 
journeys took the form of a series of letters to the 
JVeio York Tribune, and, later, of Lotus-Eating ; 
with little illustrative notes by Kensett, one of the 
most popular painters of the day, which contributed 
to the charm of a volume of scenic and social 
observation, necessarily ephemeral in form, but 
which has the qualities of Mr. Curtis's nature : his 
kindly temper, his humorous mood, his easy and 
opulent style. The comparison of the Hudson and 
the Rhine in the opening chapter assumes a general 
unfamiliarity with the two rivers which ceased long 
ago, and is written with a certain simplicity and 
youthful pleasure which the more sophisticated 
temper of to-day is likely to regard as signs of an 
immaturity happily outgrown. There is, however, 
no pleasanter report of the comfortable, easy, and 
optimistic social life of the middle of the last century 
than Lotus-Eating ; nor is there a more refreshing 
contrast with the subtle, elaborate, highly sophistic- 
ated studies of places and people which have taken 
the place of these simple, old-fashioned impressions 
of a quieter, less troubled age than ours. 

The author of Lotus-Eating was a tireless worker 
and a man of many interests, and the sensuous de- 
light of the early books in the languorous East was 
the prelude to a career of sustained and arduous 



Introduction xi 

activity in several fields. Mr. Curtis became, at 
the very beginning and remained to the end, one of 
the most eloquent and winning speakers the country 
has known, and in an age of accomplished orators 
easily held a first place. He had a singularly courteous 
attitude toward his audience, even in the moments 
when he challenged their deepest convictions and 
antagonized their bitterest prejudices ; in the flood 
of political discussions he never ceased to be the 
high-bred gentleman, and his courage was as con- 
spicuous as his courtesy. In debate he was a Prince 
Rupert in daring and in chivalry. In body, mind 
and spirit he was a man of rare harmony and sym- 
metry ; his bearing on the platform was singularly 
graceful and dignified; his voice musical in tone 
and modulation ; his style in political discussion, 
direct and persuasive. On academic and literary 
occasions he was the cultivated speaker, happy in 
literary reference and the fortunate phrase. 

He was also during many laborious years a work- 
ing: editor and a regular contributor to the news- 
papers and magazines. His earliest connection of 
this kind was with Putnam's Magazine, and from 
his articles in this periodical two of his most popular 
books came : The Potiphar Papers, a volume of social 
satire, and Prue and I, a book of the heart, in which 
the idealist, the lover, the artist and the man of 
Letters combine to define freely and eloquently the 
creed of Idealism in a view of life which exacts a 
morality that rises into the reign of poetry. In no 
other of Mr. Curtis's books do highmindedness, 
chivalrous feeling, spontaneous loyalty to the finest 
and highest ends of life, ingrained and vigorous 



xii Introduction 

optimism, shine with so pure and beautiful a ray. 
The simplicity of feeling, unabashed romance, flow- 
ing and refined sentiment, richness of imagery, and 
beauty of style so intimately expressive of the 
thought and feeling explain Lowell's message : " Had 
Letters kept you, every wreath were yours." The 
book is redolent of far-reaching associations with the 
larger world; but its deepest note is expressed by the 
old book-keeper : the harmony of the simplest life and 
the plainest surroundings with the finest standards 
and the highest idealism. In our more restrained and 
self-conscious age, Prue and I has an old-fashioned 
courage of emotion, a frankness of feeling, and 
bravery of sentiment which give it an air of belong- 
ing to an outworn past ; but since the things it deals 
with are the immortal interests of the human spirit 
and its manner has a saving touch of nobility, it may 
be that a less worldly time will crave again its 
unworldly beauty of love and purity. 

In 1859 Mr. Curtis was editing Harper's Weekly 
and publishing his only novel. Trumps, in its 
columns. The Civil War was in the near future, 
and there were no more carefully reasoned and 
clearly-written editorials on the situation and the 
questions involved than those that appeared in this 
very influential journal. In its columns the editor 
developed another style, and in the Easy Chair 
touched the arts and manners of the time with a grace 
of diction and a charm of manner which made him 
at once a critic of art and a preacher of morals 
whose word was as light and winning as his thought 
and purpose were serious. 

Of his statesmanlike service to the country in its 



Introduction xiii 

public life this is not the place to speak ; in ardent 
antagonism to slavery, in searching- and unsparing 
arraignment of the spoilsmen and the spoils system 
in American politics, and in patient and untiring 
advocacy of the reform of the Civil Service, his 
commanding ability, dauntless courage and winning 
oratory made him one of the foremost personalities 
in a series of agitations which have not only freed 
the country from the reproach of slavery, but will 
ultimately free its politics from greed and corruption. 
Mr. Curtis died on the last day of August, 1892. 
There were many among his friends who felt that 
his ardour for reform had deprived the country of a 
man of Letters who would have enriched its litera- 
ture as Addison and Steele enriched the literature of 
England while they touched lightly the manners and 
morals of the time ; it is quite certain that he gave 
his country and his age a shining example of a stain- 
less career in the storm of a great crisis, and that to 
young men especially he made politics a profession 
worthy of a Chevalier Bayard. 

Hamilton Wright Mabie. 



The following is a list of the Works of George William 
Curtis : 

Nile Notes by a Traveller, 1851 ; Lotus-Eating, a Summer Book, 
1852 ; The Wanderer in Syria, 1852 ; Prue and I, 1856, 1884, 1892 ; 
The Potiphar Papers ("Putnam's Monthly"), 1856, 1866; The 
Howadji in Syria, 1S57 ; Nile Notes of a Howadji, 1857 ; A Rhyme 
of Rhode Island and the Times, etc., 1864 ; Sunnyside Book (in 
collaboration with other authors), 1S71 ; Eulogy on Charles Sum- 
ner, 1874 ; Biographical Sketch of T. Winthrop (prefixed to the 
latter's "Cecil Dreme "), 1876; Life, Character, and Writings of 
W. C. Bryant, Commemorative Address, 1879 ; Eulogy on Wendell 
PhiHips, 1884; Party and Patronage, Addresses to National Civil- 



xiv Bibliography 

Service Reform League, 1S90, 1892 ; From the Easy Chair, Essays, 

1892 ; Orations and iA.ddresses, ed. by C. E. Norton, 1894. 
Curtis edited : Rural Essays, by A. J. Dovvring, with memoir 01 

author, 1853; J. L. Motley's Correspondence, 1S89 ; and " Modern 
Ghosts " (selected and translated from Maupassant and other 
Authors), to which he supplied an Introduction, 1890. 

Early Letters : To T- S. Dwight, Brook Farm and Concord, 
Edited by G. W. Cooke, 1898. 

Life : C. E. Fitch, Address in Memory of Chancellor G. W. 
Curtis, 1892 ; W. Winter, George William Curtis : a Eulogy, 

1893 ; Commemorative Addresses on, ed. by P. Godwin, 1893 ; 
E. Cary, George William Curtis ("American Men of Letters"). 
1894. 



contp:nts 



PRUE AND I 

DINNER-TIME ..... 

MY CHATEAUX ..... 

SEA FROM SHORE 

TITBOTTOM'S SPECTACLES . ' . 

A CRUISE IN THE 'FLYING DUTCHMAN* 

FAMILY PORTRAITS .... 

OUR COUSIN THE CURATE . 



PAGE 

5 

21 
40 
62 

88 

IK 

120 



LOTUS-EATING 



THE HUDSON AND THE RHINE 








139 


CATSKILL 










149 


CATSKILL FALLS . 










157 


TRENTON 










166 


NIAGARA 










175 


NIAGARA, AGAIN . 










182 


SARATOGA . 










192 


LAKE GEORGE 










205 


NAHANT 










216 


NEWPORT . 










226 


NEWPORT, AGAIN. 










235 



TO 

MRS. HENRY W. LONGFELLOW, 

IN MEMORY OF THE HAPPY HOURS AT OUR 
CASTLES IN SPAIN 



B 



A WORD TO THE GENTLE 
READER 

An old book-keeper, who wears a white cravat and 
black trousers in the morning-, who rarely goes to the 
opera, and never dines out, is clearly a person of no 
fashion and of no superior sources of information. 
His only journey is from his house to his office ; his 
only satisfaction is in doing- his duty ; his only happi- 
ness is in Prue and his children. 

What romance can such a life have? What stories 
can such a man tell? 

Yet I think, sometimes, when I look up from the 
parquet at the opera, and see Aurelia smiling in the 
boxes, and holding her court of love, and youth, and 
beauty, that the historians have not told of a fairer 
queen, nor the travellers seen devoutcr homage. And 
when I remember that it was in misty England that 
quaint old George Herbert sang- of the 

" Sweet day so cool, so calm, so bright 
The bridal of the earth and sky," 

I am sure that I see days as lovely in our clearer air, 
and do not believe that Italian sunsets have a more 
gorgeous purple or a softer gold. 

So, as the circle of my little life revolves, I console 
myself with believing, what I cannot help believing, 
that a man need not be a vagabond to enjoy the sweet- 
est charm of travel, but that all countries and all 
times repeat themselves in his experience. This is 
an old philosophy, I am told, and much favoured by 
those who have travelled ; and I cannot but be glad 
that my faith has such a fine name and such com- 
petent witnesses. I am assured, however, upon the 
other hand, that such a faith is only imagination. 
But, if that be true, imagination is as good as many 
p. 2 3 



4 A Word to the Gentle Reader 

voyag-es and how much cheaper ! a consideration 
which an old book-keeper can never afford to forg-et. 

I have not found, in my experience, that travellers 
always bring back with them the sunshine of Italy or 
the elegance of Greece. They tell us that there are 
such things, and that they have seen them ; but, per- 
haps, they saw them, as the apples in the garden of 
the Hesperides were sometimes seen over the wall. 
I prefer the fruit which I can buy in the market to 
that which a man tells me he saw in Sicily, but of 
which there is no flavour in his story. Others, like 
Moses Primrose, bring us a gross of such spectacles 
as we prefer not to see ; so that I begin to suspect a 
man must have Italy and Greece in his heart and 
mind, if he would ever see them with his eyes. 

I know that this may be only a device of that com- 
passionate imagination designed to comfort me, who 
shall never take but one other journey than my daily 
beat. Yet there have been wise men who taught 
that all scenes are but pictures upon the mind ; and if 
I can see them as I walk the street that leads to my 
office, or sit at the office-window looking into the 
court, or take a little trip down the bay or up the 
river, why are not my pictures as pleasant and as 
profitable as those which men travel for years, at 
great cost of time, and trouble, and money, to behold ? 

For my part, I do not believe that any man can see 
softer skies than I see in Prue's eyes; nor hear 
sweeter music than I hear in Prue's voice; nor find 
a more heaven-lighted temple than I know Prue's 
mind to be. And when I wish to please myself with 
a lovely image of peace and contentment, I do not 
think of the plain of Sharon, nor of the valley of 
Enna, nor of Arcadia, nor of Claude's pictures; but, 
feeling that the fairest fortune of my life is the right 
to be named with her, I whisper gently, to myself, 
with a smile for it seems as if my very heart smiled 
within me, when I think of her " Prue and I. 



>> 



PRUE AND I 



DINNER-TIME 

"Within this hour it will be dinner-time ; 
I'll view the manners of the town, 
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings." 

Comedy of Errors. 

In the warm afternoons of the early summer, it is 
my pleasure to stroll about Washington Square and 
along- the Fifth Avenue, at the hour when the diners- 
out are hurrying to the tables of the wealthy and 
refined. I gaze with placid delight upon the cheer- 
ful expanse of white waistcoat that illumines those 
streets at that hour, and mark the variety of emotions 
that swell beneath all that purity. A man going 
out to dine has a singular cheerfulness of aspect. 
Except for his gloves, which fit so well, and which 
he has carefully buttoned, that he may not make an 
awkward pause in the hall of his friend's house, I am 
sure he would search his pocket for a cent to give the 
wan beggar at the corner. It is impossible just now, 
my dear woman ; but God bless you ! 

It is pleasant to consider that simple suit of black. 
If my man be young and only lately cognizant of 
the rigours of the social law, he is a little nervous 
at being seen in his dress suit body coat and black 
trousers before sunset. For in the last days of May 
the light lingers long over the freshly leafed trees 
in the Square, and lies warm along the Avenue. All 
winter the sun has not been permitted to see dress- 
coats. They come out only with the stars, and fade 
with ghosts, before the dawn. Except, haply, they 
be brought homeward before breakfast in an early 
twilight of hackney-coach. Now, in the budding 

5 



6 Prue and I 

and bursting summer, the sun takes his revenge, and 
looks aslant over the tree-tops and the chimneys 
upon the most unimpeachable garments. A cat may 
look upon a king. 

I know my man at a distance. If I am chatting 
with the nursery maids around the fountain, I see 
him upon the broad walk of Washington Square 
and detect him by the freshness of his movement, 
his springy gait. Then the white waistcoat flashes 
in the sun. 

"Go on, happy youth," I exclaim aloud, to the 
great alarm of the nursery maids, who suppose me 
to be an innocent insane person suffered to go at 
large, unattended, "go on, and be happy with fel- 
low waistcoats over fragrant wines." 

It is hard to describe the pleasure in this amiable 
spectacle of a man going out to dine. I, who am 
a quiet family man, and take a quiet family cut at 
four o'clock; or, when I am detained down town 
by a false quantity in my figures, who run into Del- 
monico's and seek comfort in a cutlet, am rarely 
invited to dinner and have few white waistcoats. 
Indeed, my dear Prue tells me that I have but one 
in the world, and I often want to confront my eager 
young friends as they bound along, and ask abruptly, 
"What do you think of a man whom one white 
waistcoat suffices?" 

By the time I have eaten my modest repast, it is 
the hour for the diners-out to appear. If the day is 
unusually soft and sunny, I hurry my simple meal a 
little, that I may not lose any of my favourite spec- 
tacle. Then I saunter out. If you met me you 
would see that I am also clad in black. But black 
is my natural colour, so that it begets no false theo- 
ries concerning my intentions. Nobody, meeting 
me in full black, supposes that I am going to dine 
out. That sombre hue is professional with me. It 
belongs to book-keepers as to clergymen, physicians, 
and undertakers. We wear it because we follow 
solemn callings. Saving men's bodies and souls, or 



Dinner-time 7 

keeping the machinery of business well wound, are 
such sad professions that it is becoming to drape 
dolefully those who adopt them. 

I wear a white cravat, too, but nobody supposes 
that it is in any danger of being stained by Lafitte. 
It is a limp cravat with a craven tie. It has none 
of the dazzling dash of the white that my young 
friends sport, or, I should say, sported ; for the 
white cravat is now abandoned to the sombre pro- 
fessions of which I spoke. My young friends sus- 
pect that the flunkeys of the British nobleman wear 
such ties, and they have, therefore, discarded them. 
I am sorry to remark, also, an uneasiness, if not 
downright scepticism, about the white waistcoat. 
Will it extend to shirts, I ask myself with sorrow. 

But there is something pleasanter to contemplate 
during these quiet strolls of mine, than the men who 
are going to dine out, and that is, the women. They 
roll in carriages to the happy houses which they shall 
honour, and I strain my eyes in at the carriage win- 
dow to see their cheerful faces as they pass. I have 
already dined ; upon beef and cabbage, probably, if it 
is boiled day. I am not expected at the table to which 
Aurelia is hastening, yet no guest there shall enjoy 
more than I enjoy, nor so much, if he considers the 
meats the best part of the dinner. The beauty of the 
beautiful Aurelia I see and worship as she drives by. 
The vision of many beautiful Aurelias driving to 
dinner, is the mirage of that pleasant journey of mine 
along the avenue. I do not envy the Persian poets, 
on those afternoons, nor long to be an Arabian travel- 
ler. For I can walk that street, finer than any of 
which the Ispahan architects dreamed ; and I can see 
sultanas as splendid as the enthusiastic and exagger- 
ating Orientals describe. 

But not only do I see and enjoy Aurelia 's beauty. 
I delight in her exquisite attire. In these warm 
days she does not wear so much as the lightest 
shawl. She is clad only in spring sunshine. It 
glitters in the soft darkness of her hair. It touches 



8 Prue and I 

the diamonds, the opals, the pearls, that cling- to 
her arms, and neck, and fingers. They flash back 
again, and the gorgeous silks glisten, and the light 
laces flutter, until the stately Aurelia seems to me, 
in tremulous radiance, swimming by. 

I doubt whether you who are to have the inex- 
pressible pleasure of dining with her, and even of 
sitting by her side, will enjoy more than I. For 
my pleasure is inexpressible, also. And it is in this 
greater than yours, that I see all the beautiful ones 
who are to dine at various tables, while you only 
see your own circle, although that, I will not deny, 
is the most desirable of all. 

Beside, although my person is not present at your 
dinner, my fancy is. I see Aurelia 's carriage stop, 
and behold white-gloved servants opening wide doors. 
There is a brief glimpse of magnificence for the dull 
eyes of the loiterers outside ; then the door closes. 
But my fancy went in with Aurelia. With her, it 
looks at the vast mirror, and surveys her form at 
length in the Psyche-glass. It gives the final shake to 
the skirt, the last flirt to the embroidered handker- 
chief, carefully held, and adjusts the bouquet, com- 
plete as a tropic nestling in orange leaves. It de- 
scends with her, and marks the faint blush upon her 
cheek at the thought of her exceeding beauty ; the 
consciousness of the most beautiful woman, that the 
most beautiful woman is entering- the room. There is 
the momentary hush, the subdued greeting, the quick 
glance of the Aurelias who have arrived earlier, and 
who perceive in a moment the hopeless perfection of 
that attire ; the courtly gaze of gentlemen, who feel 
the serenity of that beauty. All this my fancy sur- 
veys ; my fancy, Aurelia's invisible cavalier. 

You approach with hat in hand and the thumb of 
your left hand in your waistcoat pocket. You are 
polished and cool, and have an irreproachable repose 
of manner. There are no improper wrinkles in your 
cravat ; your shirt-bosom does not bulge ; the trousers 
are accurate about your admirable boot. But you 



Dinner-time 9 

look very stiff and brittle. You are a little bullied 
by your unexceptionable shirt-collar, which interdicts 
perfect freedom of movement in your head. You are 
elegant, undoubtedly, but it seems as if you might 
break and fall to pieces, like a porcelain vase, if you 
were roughly shaken. 

Now, here, I have the advantage of you. My fancy 
quietly surveying the scene, is subject to none of 
these embarrassments. My fancy will not utter com- 
monplaces. That will not say to the superb lady, 
who stands with her flowers, incarnate May, "What 
a beautiful day. Miss Aurelia." That will not feel 
constrained to say something, when it has nothing to 
say ; nor will it be obliged to smother all the pleasant 
things that occur, because they would be too flatter- 
ing to express. My fancy perpetually murmurs in 
Aurelia's ear, "Those flowers would not be fair in 
your hand, if you yourself were not fairer. That 
diamond necklace would be gaudy, if your eyes were 
not brighter. That queenly movement would be 
awkward, if your soul were not queenlier." 

You could not say such things to Aurelia, although, 
if you are worthy to dine at her side, they are the 
very things you are longing to say. What insuffer- 
able stuffs you are talking about the weather, and the 
opera, and Alboni's delicious voice, and Newport, and 
Saratoga ! They are all very pleasant subjects, but 
do you suppose Ixion talked Thessalian politics when 
he was admitted to dine with Juno? 

I almost begin to pity you, and to believe that a 
scarcity of white waistcoats is true wisdom. For 
now dinner is announced, and you, O rare felicity, 
are to hand down Aurelia. But you run the risk 
of tumbling her expansive skirt, and you have to 
drop your hat upon a chance chair, and wonder, eti 
passant, who will wear it home, which is annoying. 
My fancy runs no such risk ; is not at all solicitous 
about its hat, and glides by the side of Aurelia, 
stately as she. There ! you stumble on the stair, 
and are vexed at your own awkwardness, and are 



lo Prue and I 

sure you saw the ghost of a smile glimmer along 
that superb face at your side. My fancy doesn't 
tumble down-stairs, and what kind of looks it sees 
upon Aurelia's face, are its own secret. 

Is it any better, now you are seated at table? Your 
companion eats little because she wishes little. You 
eat little because you think it is elegant to do so. It 
is a shabby, second-hand elegance, like your brittle 
behaviour. It is just as foolish for you to play with 
the meats, when you ought to satisfy your healthy 
appetite generously, as it is for you, in the drawing- 
room, to affect that cool indifference when you have 
real and noble interests. 

I grant you that fine manners, if you please, are 
a fine art. But is not monotony the destruction of 
art? Your manners, O happy Ixion, banqueting 
with Juno, are Egyptian. They have no perspective, 
no variety. They have no colour, no shading. They 
are all on a dead level ; they are flat. Now, for you 
are a man of sense, you are conscious that those 
wonderful eyes of Aurelia see straight through all 
this net-work of elegant manners in which you have 
entangled yourself, and that consciousness is uncom- 
fortable to you. It is another trick in the game for 
me, because those eyes do not pry into my fancy. 
How can they, since Aurelia does not know of my 
existence? 

Unless, indeed, she should remember the first time 
I saw her. It was only last year, in May. I had 
dined, somewhat hastily, in consideration of the fine 
day, and of my confidence that many would be wend- 
ing dinnerwards that afternoon. I saw my Prue 
comfortably engaged in seating the trousers of Ado- 
niram, our eldest boy an economical care to which 
my darling Prue is not unequal, even in these days 
and in this town and then hurried toward the 
avenue. It is never much thronged at that hour. 
The moment is sacred to dinner. As I paused at the 
corner of Twelfth Street, by the church, you remem- 
ber, I saw an apple-woman, from whose stores I 



Dinner-time 1 1 

determined to finish my dessert, which had been 
imperfect at home. But, mindful of meritorious and 
economical Prue, I was not the man to pay exorbitant 
prices for apples, and while still haggling with the 
wrinkled Eve who had tempted me, I became sud- 
denly aware of a carriage approaching, and, indeed, 
already close by. I raised my eyes, still munching 
an apple which I held in one hand, while the other 
grasped my walking-stick (true to my instincts of 
dinner guests, as young w-omen to a passing wedding 
or old ones to a funeral), and beheld Aurelia ! 

Old in this kind of observation as I am, there was 
something so graciously alluring in the look that she 
cast upon me, as unconsciously, indeed, as she would 
have cast it upon the church, that, fumbling hastily 
for my spectacles to enjoy the boon more fully, I 
thoughtlessly advanced upon the apple-stand, and, 
in some indescribable manner, tripping, down we all 
fell into the street, old woman, apples, baskets, stand, 
and I, in promiscuous confusion. As I struggled 
there, somev/hat bewildered, yet sufficiently self-pos- 
sessed to look after the carriage, I beheld that beauti- 
ful woman looking at us through the back-window 
(you could not have done it ; the integrity of your 
shirt-collar would have interfered,) and smiling plea- 
santly, so that her going around the corner was like 
a gentle sunset, so seemed she to disappear in her 
own smiling ; or if you choose, in view of the apple 
difficulties like a rainbow after a storm. 

If the beautiful Aurelia recalls that event, she may 
know of my existence ; not otherwise. And even 
then she knows me only as a funny old gentleman, 
who, in his eagerness to look at her, tumbled over 
an apple-woman. 

My fancy from that moment followed her. How 
grateful I was to the wrinkled Eve's extortion, and 
to the untoward tumble, since it procured me the 
sight of that smile. I took my sweet revenge from 
that. For I knew that the beautiful Aurelia entered 
the house of her host with beaming eyes, and my 



12 Prue and I 

fancy heard her sparkling story. You consider your- 
self happy because you are sitting- by her and helping 
her to a lady-finger, or a macaroon, for which she 
smiles. But I was her theme for ten mortal minutes. 
She was my bard, my blithe historian. She was the 
Homer of my luckless Trojan fall. She set my mishap 
to music, in telling it. Think what it is to have 
inspired Urania ; to have called a brighter beam into 
the eyes of Miranda, and do not think so much of 
passing Aurelia the mottoes, my dear young friend. 

There was the advantage of not going to that 
dinner. Had I been invited, as you were, I should 
have pestered Prue about the buttons on my white 
waistcoat, instead of leaving her placidly piecing 
adolescent trousers. She would have been flustered, 
fearful of being too late, of tumbling the garment, of 
soiling it, fearful of offending me in some way, (ad- 
mirable woman !) I, in my natural impatience, might 
have let drop a thoughtless word, which would have 
been a pang in her heart and a tear in her eye, for 
weeks afterward. 

As I walked nervously up the avenue (for I am 
unaccustomed to prandial recreations), I should not 
have had that solacing image of quiet Prue, and the 
trousers, as the background in the pictures of the 
gay figures I passed, making each, by contrast, 
fairer. I should have been wondering what to say 
and do at the dinner. I should surely have been very 
warm, and yet not have enjoyed the rich, waning 
sunlight. Need I tell you that I should not have 
stopped for apples, but instead of economically 
tumbling into the street with apples and apple- 
women, whereby I merely rent my trousers across 
the knee, in a manner that Prue can readily, and at 
little cost, repair, I should, beyond peradventure, 
have split a new dollar-pair of gloves in the effort 
of straining my large hands into them, which would, 
also, have caused me additional redness in the face, 
and renewed fluttering. 

Above all, I should not have seen Aurelia passing 



Dinner-time 13 

in her carriage, nor would she have smiled at me, nor 
charmed my memory with her radiance, nor the circle 
at dinner with the sparkling Iliad of my woes. Then 
at the table, I should not have sat by her. You 
would have had that pleasure; I should have led out 
the maiden aunt from the country, and have talked 
poultry, when I talked at all. Aurelia would not have 
remarked me. Afterward, in describing the dinner 
to her virtuous parents, she would have concluded, 
"and one old gentleman, whom I didn't know." 

No, my polished friend, whose elegant repose of 
manner I yet greatly commend, I am content, if you 
are. How much better it was that I was not invited 
to that dinner, but was permitted, by a kind fate, to 
furnish a subject for Aurelia 's wit. 

There is one other advantage in sending your fancy 
to dinner, instead of going yourself. It is, that then 
the occasion remains wholly fair in your memory. 
You, who devote yourself to dining out, and who 
are to be daily seen affably sitting down to such 
feasts, as I know mainly by hearsay by the report of 
waiters, guests, and others who were present you 
cannot escape the little things that spoil the picture, 
and which the fancy does not see. 

For instance, in handing you the potage a la 
Bisque, at the very commencement of this dinner 
to-day, John, the waiter, who never did such a thing 
before, did this time suffer the plate to tip, so that 
a little of that rare soup dripped into your lap 
just enough to spoil those trousers, which is nothing 
to you, because you can buy a great many more 
trousers, but which little event is inharmonious 
with the fine porcelain dinner service, with the fra- 
grant wines, the glittering glass, the beautiful guests, 
and the mood of mind suggested by all of these. 
There is, in fact, if you will pardon a free use of the 
vernacular, there is a grease-spot upon your remem- 
brance of this dinner. 

Or, in the same way, and with the same kind of 
mental result, you can easily imagine the meats a 



14 Prue and I 

little tough ; a suspicion of smoke somewhere in the 
sauces ; too much pepper, perhaps, or too little salt ; 
or there might be the graver dissonance of claret not 
properly attempered, or a choice Rhenish below the 
average mark, or the spilling of some of that Are- 
thusa Madeira, marvellous for its innumerable cir- 
cumnavigations of the globe, and for being as dry as 
the conversation of the host. These things are not up 
to the high level of the dinner ; for wherever Aurelia 
dines, all accessories should be as perfect in their 
kind as she, the principal, is in hers. 

That reminds me of a possible dissonance worse 
than all. Suppose that soup had trickled down the 
unimaginable berthe of Aurelia's dress (since it might 
have done so), instead of wasting itself upon your 
trousers ! Could even the irreproachable elegance of 
your manners have contemplated, unmoved, a grease- 
spot upon your remembrance of the peerless Aurelia? 

You smile, of course, and remind me that that 
lady's manners are so perfect that, if she drank 
poison, she would wipe her mouth after it as grace- 
fully as ever. How much more then, you say, in 
the case of such a slight contretemps as spotting her 
dress, would she appear totally unmoved. 

So she would, undoubtedly. She would be, and 
look, as pure as ever; but, my young friend, her 
dress would not. Once, I dropped a pickled oyster 
in the lap of my Prue, who wore, on the occasion, 
her sea-green silk gown. I did not love my Prue the 
less ; but there certainly was a very unhandsome spot 
upon her dress. And although I know my Prue to be 
spotless, yet, whenever I recall that day, I see her in 
a spotted gown, and I would prefer never to have 
been obliged to think of her in such a garment. 

Can you not make the application to the case, very 
likely to happen, of some disfigurement of that ex- 
quisite toilette of Aurelia's? In going down-stairs, 
for instance, why should not heavy old Mr. Car- 
buncle, who is coming close behind with Mrs. Peony, 
both very eager for dinner, tread upon the hem of that 



Dinner-time 15 

garment which my lips would grow pale to kiss? 
The august Aurelia, yielding to natural laws, would 
be drawn suddenly backward a very undignified 
movement and the dress would be dilapidated. 
There would be apologies, and smiles, and forgive- 
ness, and pinning up the pieces, nor would there be 
the faintest feeling of awkwardness or vexation in 
Aurelia's mind. But to you, looking on, and, be- 
neath all that pure show of waistcoat, cursing old 
Carbuncle's carelessness, this tearing of dresses and 
repair of the toilette is by no means a poetic and 
cheerful spectacle. Nay, the very impatience that it 
produces in your mind jars upon the harmony of the 
moment. 

You will respond, with proper scorn, that you are 
not so absurdly fastidious as to heed the little neces- 
sary drawbacks of social meetings, and that you have 
not much regard for " the harmony of the occasion " 
(which phrase I fear you will repeat in a sneering 
tone). You will do very right in saying this ; and it is 
a remark to which I shall give all the hospitality of my 
mind, and I do so because I heartily coincide in it. I 
hold a man to be very foolish who will not eat a good 
dinner because the table-cloth is not clean, or who 
cavils at the spots upon the sun. But still a man 
who does not apply his eye to a telescope or some 
kind of prepared medium, does not see those spots, 
while he has just as much light and heat as he who 
does. 

So it is with me. I walk in the avenue, and eat 
all the delightful dinners without seeing the spots 
upon the table-cloth, and behold all the beautiful 
Aurelias without swearing at old Carbuncle. I am 
the guest who, for the small price of invisibility, 
drinks only the best wines, and talks only to the 
most agreeable people. That is something, I can 
tell you, for you might be asked to lead out old Mrs. 
Peony. My fancy slips in between you and Aurelia, 
sit you never so closely together. It not only hears 
what she says, but it perceives what she thinks and 



1 6 Prue and I 

feels. It lies like a bee in her flowery thoughts, suck- 
ing all their honey. If there are unhandsome or 
unfeeling guests at table, it will not see them. It 
knows only the good and fair. As I stroll in the 
fading light and observe the stately houses, my fancy 
believes the host equal to his house, and the courtesy 
of his wife more agreeable than her conservatory. 
It will not believe that the pictures on the wall and 
the statues in the corners shame the guests. It will 
not allow that they are less than noble. It hears 
them speak gently of error, and warmly of worth. It 
knows that they commend heroism and devotion, and 
reprobate insincerity. My fancy is convinced that 
the guests are not only feasted upon the choicest 
fruits of every land and season, but are refreshed oy 
a consciousness of greater loveliness and grace in 
human character. 

Now you, who actually go to the dinner, may not 
entirely agree with the view my fancy takes of that 
entertainment. Is it not, therefore, rather your loss? 
Or, to put it in another way, ought I to envy you the 
discovery that the guests are shamed by the statues 
and pictures ; yes, and by the spoons and forks also, 
if they should chance neither to be so genuine nor so 
useful as those instruments? And, worse than this, 
when your fancy wishes to enjoy the picture which 
mine forms of that feast, it cannot do so, because you 
have foolishly interpolated the fact between the dinner 
and your fancy. 

Of course, by this time it is late twilight, and the 
spectacle I enjoyed is almost over. But not quite, 
for as I return slowly along the streets, the windows 
are open, and only a thin haze of lace or muslin 
separates me from the Paradise within. 

I see the graceful cluster of girls hovering over 
the piano, and the quiet groups of the elders in easy 
chairs, around little tables. I cannot hear what is 
said, nor plainly see the faces. But some hoyden 
evening wind, more daring than I, abruptly parts the 
cloud to look in, and out comes a gush of light, music, 



Dinner-time 17 

and frag^rance, so that I shrink away into the dark, 
that I may not seem, even by chance, to have invaded 
that privacy. 

Suddenly there is singing-. It is Aureha, who does 
not cope with the Itahan Prima Donna, nor sing 
indifferently to-night, what was sung superbly last 
evening at the opera. She has a strange, low, sweet 
voice, as if she only sang in the twilight. It is the 
ballad of "Allan Percy" that she sings. There is 
no dainty applause of kid gloves, when it is ended, 
but silence follows the singing, like a tear. 

Then you, my young friend, ascend into the draw- 
ing-room, and, after a little graceful gossip, retire ; 
or you wait, possibly, to hand Aurelia into her car- 
riage, and to arrange a waltz for to-morrow evening. 
She smiles, you bow, and it is over. But it is not 
yet over with me. My fancy still follows her, and, 
like a prophetic dream, rehearses her destiny. For, 
as the carriage rolls away into the darkness and I 
return homewards, how can my fancy help rolling 
away also, into the dim future, watching her go down 
the years? 

Upon my way home I see her in a thousand new 
situations. My fancy says to me, "The beauty of 
this beautiful woman is heaven's stamp upon virtue. 
She will be equal to every chance that shall befall 
her, and she is so radiant and charming in the circle 
of prosperity, only because she has that irresistible 
simplicity and fidelity of character, which can also 
pluck the sting from adversity. Do you not see, you 
wan old book-keeper in faded cravat, that in a poor 
man's house this superb Aurelia would be more stately 
than sculpture, more beautiful than painting, and more 
graceful than the famous vases? Would her husband 
regret the opera if she sang ' Allan Percy ' to him 
in the twilight? Would he not feel richer than the 
Poets, when his eyes rose from their jewelled pages, 
to fall again dazzled by the splendour of his wife's 
beauty?" 

At this point in my reflections I sometimes run, 
c 



1 8 Prue and I 

rather violently, ag'ainst a lamp-post, and then pro- 
ceed along- the street more sedately. 

It is yet early when I reach home, where my Prue 
awaits me. The children are asleep, and the 
trousers mended. The admirable woman is patient 
of my idiosyncrasies, and asks me if I have had a 
pleasant walk, and if there were many fine dinners 
to-day, as if I had been expected at a dozen tables. 
She even asks me if I have seen the beautiful Aure- 
lia (for there is always some Aurelia,) and inquires 
what dress she wore. I respond, and dilate upon 
what I have seen. Prue listens, as the children 
listen to her fairy tales. We discuss the little 
stories that penetrate our retirement, of the great 
people who actually dine out. Prue, with fine 
v.'omanly instinct, declares it is a shame that Aurelia 

should smile for a moment upon , yes, even upon 

you, my friend of the irreproachable manners ! 

"I know him," says my simple Prue; "I have 
watched his cold courtesy, his insincere devotion. 
I have seen him acting- in the boxes at the opera, 
much more adroitly than the sing-ers upon the stag-e. 
I have read his determination to marry Aurelia; and 
I shall not be surprised," concludes my tender wife, 
sadly, "if he wins her at last, by tiring her out, or, 
by secluding- her by his constant devotion from the 
homage of other men, convinces her that she had 
better marry him, since it is so dismal to live on 
unmarried." 

And so, my friend, at the moment when the 
bouquet you ordered is arriving at Aurelia's house, 
and she is sitting before the glass while her maid 
arranges the last flower in her hair, my darling Prue, 
whom you will never hear of, is shedding warm 
tears over your probable union, and I am sitting by, 
adjusting my cravat and incontinently clearing my 
throat. 

It is rather a ridiculous business, I allow ; yet you 
will smile at it tenderly, rather than scornfully, if you 
remember that it shows how closely linked we human 



Dinner-time 19 

creatures are, without knowing- it, and that more 
hearts than we dream of enjoy our happiness and 
share our sorrow. 

Thus, I dine at great tables uninvited, and, un- 
known, converse with the famous beauties. If Aure- 
lia is at last engaged, (but who is worthy?) she will, 
with even greater care, arrange that wondrous 
toilette, will teach that lace a fall more alluring, 
those gems a sweeter light. But even then, as she 
rolls to dinner in her carriage, glad that she is fair, 
not for her own sake nor for the world's, but for that 
of a single youth (who, I hope, has not been smoking 
at the club all the morning), I, sauntering upon the 
sidewalk, see her pass, I pay homage to her beauty, 
and her lover can do no more; and if, perchance, my 
garments which must seem quaint to her, with their 
shining knees and carefully brushed elbows ; my 
white cravat, careless, yet prim ; my meditative 
movement, as I put my stick under my arm to pare 
an apple, and not, I hope, this time to fall into the 
street, should remind her, in her spring of youth, 
and beauty, and love, that there are age, and care, 
and poverty, also; then, perhaps, the good fortune 
of the meeting is not wholly mine. 

For, O beautiful Aurelia, two of these things, at 
least, must come even to you. There will be a time 
when you will no longer go out to dinner, or only 
very quietly, in the family. I shall be gone then : 
but other old book-keepers in white cravats will 
inherit my tastes, and saunter, on summer after- 
noons, to see what I loved to see. 

They will not pause, I fear, in buying apples, to 
look at the old lady in venerable cap, who is rolling 
by in the carriage. They will worship another 
Aurelia. You will not wear diamonds or opals any 
more, only one pearl upon your blue-veined finger 
your engagement ring. Grave clergymen and anti- 
quated beaux will hand you down to dinner, and the 
group of polished youth, who gather around the yet 
unborn Aurelia of that day, will look at you, sitting 
c 2 



20 Prue and I 

quietly upon the sofa, and say, softly, "She must 
have been very handsome in her time." 

All this must be : for consider how few years since 
it was your grandmother who was the belle, by whose 
side the handsome young men longed to sit and pass 
expressive mottoes. Your grandmother was the 
Aurelia of a half-century ago, although you cannot 
fancy her young. She is indissolubly associated in 
your mind with caps and dark dresses. You can be- 
lieve Mary Queen of Scots, or Nell Gwyn or Cleo- 
patra, to have been young and blooming, although 
they belong to old and dead centuries, but not your 
grandmother. Think of those who shall believe the 
same of you you, who to-day are the very flower 
of youth. 

Might I plead with you, Aurelia I, who would 
be too happy to receive one of those graciously beam- 
ing bows that I see you bestow upon young men, in 
passing, I would ask you to bear that thought with 
you, always, not to sadden your sunny smile, but 
to give it a more subtle grace. Wear in your sum- 
mer garland this little leaf of rue. It will not be 
the skull at the feast, it will rather be the tender 
thoughtfulness in the face of the young Madonna. 

For the years pass like summer clouds, Aurelia, 
and the children of yesterday are the wives and 
mothers of to-day. Even I do sometimes discover 
the mild eyes of my Prue fixed pensively upon my 
face, as if searching for the bloom which she re- 
members there in the days, long ago, when we were 
young. She will never see it there again, any more 
than the flowers she held in her hand, in our old 
spring rambles. Yet the tear that slowly gathers as 
she gazes, is not grief that the bloom has faded from 
my cheek, but the sweet consciousness that it can 
never fade from my heart ; and as her eyes fall upon 
her work again, or the children climb her lap to hear 
the old fairy tales they already know by heart, my 
wife Prue is dearer to me than the sweetheart of 
those days long ago. 



My Chateaux 21 



MY CHATEAUX 

" In Xanadu did Kubia Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree." 

Coleridge. 

I AM the owner of great estates. Many of them 
lie in the West ; but the greater part are in Spain. 
You may see my western possessions any evening at 
sunset when their spires and battlements flash against 
the horizon. 

It gives me a feeling of pardonable importance, 
as a proprietor, that they are visible, to my eyes at 
least, from any part of the world in which I chance 
to be. In my long voyage around the Cape of Good 
Hope to India (the only voyage I ever made, when 
I was a boy and a supercargo), if I fell home-sick, 
or sank into a reverie of all the pleasant homes I 
had left behind, I had but to wait until sunset, and 
then looking toward the west, I beheld my cluster- 
ing pinnacles and towers brightly burnished as if 
to salute and welcome me. 

So, in the city, if I get vexed and wearied, and 
cannot find my wonted solace in sallying forth at 
dinner-time to contemplate the gay world of youth 
and beauty hurrying to the congress of fashion, or 
if I observe that years are deepening their tracks 
around the eyes of my wife, Prue, I go quietly up 
to the housetop, toward evening, and refresh myself 
with a distant prospect of my estates. It is as dear 
to me as that of Eton to the poet Gray ; and, if I 
sometimes wonder at such moments whether I shall 
find those realms as fair as they appear, I am sud- 
denly reminded that the night air may be noxious, 
and descending, I enter the little parlour where Prue 
sits stitching, and surprise that precious woman by 
exclaiming with the poet's pensive enthusiasm : 



22 Prue and I 

"Thought would destroy their Paradise, 
No more ; where ignorance is bliss, 
'Tis folly to be wise." 

Columbus, also, had possessions In the West ; and 
as I read aloud the romantic story of his life, my 
voice quivers when I come to the point in which it is 
related that sweet odours of the land mingled with the 
sea-air, as the admiral's fleet approached the shores; 
that tropical birds flew out and fluttered around the 
ships, glittering in the sun, the gorgeous promises 
of the new country ; that boughs, perhaps with blos- 
soms not all decayed, floated out to welcome the 
strange wood from which the craft were hollowed. 
Then I cannot restrain myself. I think of the gorge- 
ous visions I have seen before I have even under- 
taken the journey to the West, and I cry aloud to 
Prue : 

"What sun-bright birds, and gorgeous blossoms, 
and celestial odours will float out to us, my Prue, as 
we approach our western possessions ! " 

The placid Prue raises her eyes to mine with a 
reproof so delicate that it could not be trusted to 
words ; and, after a moment, she resumes her knit- 
ting and I proceed. 

These are my western estates, but my finest castles 
are in Spain. It is a country famously romantic, 
and my castles are all of perfect proportions, and 
appropriately set in the most picturesque situations, 
I have never been to Spain myself, but I have natur- 
ally conversed much with travellers to that country; 
although, I must allow, without deriving from them 
much substantial information about my property 
there. The wisest of them told me that there were 
more holders of real estate in Spain than in any other 
region he had ever heard of, and they are all great 
proprietors. Every one of them possesses a multitude 
of the stateliest castles. From conversation with 
them you easily gather that each one considers his 
own castles much the largest and in the loveliest posi- 
tions. And, after T had heard this said, I verified it. 



My Chateaux 23 

by discovering- that all my immediate neighbours in 
the city were great Spanish proprietors. 

One day as I raised my head from entering some 
long- and tedious accounts in my books, and began 
to reflect that the quarter was expiring, and that I 
must begin to prepare the balance-sheet, I observed 
my subordinate, in office but not in years, (for poor 
old Titbottom will never see sixty again !) leaning 
on his hand, and much abstracted. 

"Are you not well, Titbottom ! " asked I. 

"Perfectly, but I was just building a castle in 
Spain," said he. 

I looked at his rusty coat, his faded hands, his sad 
eye, and white hair, for a moment, in great surprise, 
and then inquired : 

" Is it possible that you own property there 
too?" 

He shook his head silently ; and still leaning on 
his hand, and with an expression in his eye, as if he 
were looking upon the most fertile estate of Anda- 
lusia, he went on making his plans; laying out his 
gardens, I suppose, building terraces for the vines, 
determining a library with a southern exposure, and 
resolving which should be the tapestried chamber. 

"What a singular whim," thought I, as I watched 
Titbottom and filled up a cheque for four hundred 
dollars, my quarterly salary, "that a man who owns 
castles in Spain should be deputy book-keeper at 
nine hundred dollars a year ! " 

When I went home I ate my dinner silently, and 
afterward sat for a long time upon the roof of the 
house, looking at my western property, and thinking 
of Titbottom. 

It is remarkable that none of the proprietors have 
ever been to Spain to take possession and report to 
the rest of us the state of our property there. I, of 
course, cannot go, I am too much engaged. So is 
Titbottom. And I find it is the case with all the pro- 
prietors. We have so much to detain us at home that 
we cannot get away. But it is always so with rich 



24 Prue and I 

men. Prue sighed once as she sat at the window and 
saw Bourne, the milHonaire, the President of in- 
numerable companies, and manager and director of 
all the charitable societies in town, going by with 
wrinkled brow and hurried step. I asked her why 
she sighed. 

" Because I was remembering that my mother used 
to tell me not to desire great riches, for they occa- 
sioned great cares," said she. 

"They do indeed," answered I, with emphasis, 
remembering Titbottom, and the impossibility of 
looking after my Spanish estates. 

Prue turned and looked at me with mild surprise ; 
but I saw that her mind had gone down the street 
with Bourne. I could never discover if he held much 
Spanish stock. But I think he does. All the Spanish 
proprietors have a certain expression. Bourne has 
it to a remarkable degree. It is a kind of look, as if, 
in fact, a man's mind were in Spain. Bourne was 
an old lover of Prue's, and he is not married, which 
is strange for a man in his position. 

It is not easy for me to say how I know so much, 
as I certainly do, about my castles in Spain. The 
sun always shines upon them. They stand lofty 
and fair in a luminous, golden atmosphere, a little 
hazy and dreamy, perhaps, like the Indian summer, 
but in which no gales blow and there are no tem- 
pests. All the sublime mountains, and beautiful 
valleys, and soft landscape, that I have not yet seen, 
are to be found in the grounds. They command a 
noble view of the Alps; so fine, indeed, that I should 
be quite content with the prospect of them from the 
highest tower of my castle, and not care to go to 
Switzerland. 

The neighbouring ruins, too, are as picturesque as 
those of Italy, and my desire of standing in the Coli- 
seum, and of seeing the shattered arches of the Aque- 
ducts stretching along the Campagna and melting 
into the Alban Mount, is entirely quenched. The 
rich gloom of my orange groves is gilded by fruit as 



My Chateaux 25 

brilliant of complexion and exquisite of flavour as 
any that ever dark-eyed Sorrento girls, looking- over 
the hig-h plastered walls of southern Italy, hand to 
the youthful travellers, climbing- on donkeys up the 
narrow lane beneath. 

The Nile flows through my grounds. The Desert 
lies upon their edge, and Damascus stands in my 
garden. I am given to understand, also, that the 
Parthenon has been removed to my Spanish posses- 
sions. The Golden-Horn is my fish-preserve ; my 
flocks of golden fleece are pastured on the plain of 
Marathon, and the honey of Hymettus is distilled 
from the flowers that grow in the vale of Enna all 
in my Spanish domains. 

From the windows of those castles look the beauti- 
ful women whom I have never seen, whose portraits 
the poets have painted. They wait for me there, and 
chiefly the fair-haired child, lost to my eyes so long 
ago, now bloomed into an impossible beauty. The 
lights that never shone, glance at evening in the 
vaulted halls, upon banquets that were never spread. 
The bands I have never collected, play all night long, 
and enchant the brilliant company, that was never 
assembled, into silence. 

In the long summer mornings the children that I 
never had, play in the gardens that I never planted. 
I hear their sweet voices sounding low and far away, 
calling, " Father ! father ! " I sec the lost fair- 
haired girl, grown now into a woman, descending the 
stately stairs of my castle in Spain, stepping out 
upon the lawn, and playing with those children. They 
bound away together down the garden ; but those 
voices linger, this time airily calling, " Mother ! 
mother ! "^ 

But there is a stranger magic than this in my 
Spanish estates. The lawny slopes on which, when 
a child, I played, in my father's old country place, 
which was sold when he failed, are all there, and not 
a flower faded, nor a blade of grass sere. The green 
leaves are not fallen from the spring woods of half a 



26 Prue and I 

century ago, and a gorgeous autumn has blazed un- 
dimmed for fifty years, among the trees I remember. 

Chestnuts are not especially sweet to my palate 
now, but those with which I used to prick my fingers 
when gathering them in New Hampshire woods are 
exquisite as ever to my taste, when I think of eating 
them in Spain. I never ride horseback now at home ; 
but in Spain, when I think of it, I bound over all the 
fences in the country, barebacked upon the wildest 
horses. Sermons I am apt to find a little soporific in 
this country ; but in Spain I should listen as rever- 
ently as ever, for proprietors must set a good example 
on their estates. 

Plays are insufferable to me here Prue and I never 
go. Prue, indeed, is not quite sure it is moral; but 
the theatres in my Spanish castles are of a prodigious 
splendour, and when I think of going there, Prue 
sits in a front box with me a kind of royal box 
the good woman, attired in such wise as I have never 
seen her here, while I wear my white waistcoat, 
which in Spain has no appearance of mending, but 
dazzles with immortal newness, and is at miraculous fit. 

Yes, and in those castles in Spain, Prue is not the 
placid, breeches-patching helpmate, with whom you 
are acquainted, but her face has a bloom which we 
both remember, and her movement a grace which my 
Spanish swans emulate, and her voice a music sweeter 
than those that orchestras discourse. She is always 
there what she seemed to me when I fell in love with 
her, many and many years ago. The neighbours 
called her then a nice, capable girl ; and certainly she 
did knit and darn with a zeal and success to which my 
feet and my legs have testified for nearly half a cen- 
tury. But she could spin a finer web than ever came 
from cotton, and in its subtle meshes my heart was 
entangled, and there has reposed softly and happily 
ever since. The neighbours declared she could make 
pudding and cake better than any girl of her age ; but 
stale bread from Prue's hand was ambrosia to my 
palate. 



My Chateaux 27 

"She who makes everything well, even to making 
neighbours speak well of her, will surely make a good 
wife," said I to myself when I knew her ; and the echo 
of a half century answers, "a good wife." 

So, when I meditate my Spanish castles, I see Prue 
in them as my heart saw her standing by her father's 
door. "Age cannot wither her." There is a magic in 
the Spanish air that paralyzes Time. He glides by, 
unnoticed and unnoticing. I greatly admire the Alps, 
which I see so distinctly from my Spanish windows ; 
I delight in the taste of the southern fruit that ripens 
upon my terraces ; I enjoy the pensive shade of the 
Italian ruins in my gardens ; I like to shoot croco- 
diles, and talk with the Sphinx upon the shores of 
the Nile, flowing through my domain ; I am glad to 
drink sherbet in Damascus, and fleece my flocks on 
the plains of Dvlarathon ; but I would resign all these 
for ever rather than part with that Spanish portrait of 
Prue for a day. Nay, have I not resigned them all for 
ever, to live with that portrait's changing original? 

I have often wondered how I should reach my 
castles. The desire of going comes over me very 
strongly sometimes, and I endeavour to see how I 
can arrange my affairs, so as to get away. To tell 
the truth, I am not quite sure of the route, I mean, 
to that particular part of Spain in which my estates 
lie. I have inquired very particularly, but nobody 
seems to know precisely. One morning I met young 
Aspen, trembling with excitement. 

"What's the matter? " asked I with interest, for I 
knew that he held a great deal of Spanish stock. 

" Oh ! " said he, " I'm going out to take possession. 
I have found the way to my castles in Spain." 

"Dear me! " I answered, with the blood stream- 
ing into my face; and, heedless of Prue, pulling my 
glove until it ripped "what is it? " 

"The direct route is through California," answered 
he. 

"But then you have the sea to cross afterward," 
said I, remembering the map. 



28 Prue and I 

"Not at all," answered Aspen, "the road runs 
along the shore of the Sacramento River." 

He darted away from me, and I did not meet him 
again. I was very curious to know if he arrived 
safely in Spain, and was expecting every day to hear 
news from him of my property there, when, one even- 
ing, I bought an extra, full of California news, and 
the first thing upon which my eye fell was this : 
"Died, in San Francisco, Edward Aspen, Esq., aged 
35." There is a large body of the Spanish stock- 
holders who believe with Aspen, and sail for Cali- 
fornia every week. I have not yet heard of their 
arrival out at their castles, but I suppose they are so 
busy with their own affairs there, that they have no 
time to write to the rest of us about the condition of 
our property. 

There was my wife's cousin, too, Jonathan Bud, 
who is a good, honest, youth from the country, and, 
after a few weeks' absence, he burst into the office 
one day, just as I was balancing my books, and 
whispered to me, eagerly : 

"I've found my castle in Spain." 

I put the blotting-paper in the leaf deliberately, 
for I was wiser now than when Aspen had excited 
ine, and looked at my wife's cousin, Jonathan Bud, 
inquiringly. 

"Polly Bacon," whispered he, winking. 

I continued the interrogative glance. 

"She's going to marry me, and she'll show me the 
way to Spain," said Jonathan Bud, hilariously. 

"She'll make you walk Spanish, Jonathan Bud," 
said I. 

And so she does. He makes no more hilarious 
remarks. He never bursts into a room. He does 
not ask us to dinner. He says that Mrs. Bud does 
not like smoking. Mrs. Bud has nerves and babies. 
She has a way of saying, " Mr. Bud ! " which destroys 
conversation, and casts a gloom upon society. 

It occurred to me that Bourne, the millionaire, 
must have ascertained the safest and most expedi- 



My Chateaux 29 

tlous route to Spain ; so I stole a few minutes one 
afternoon, and went into his office. He was sitting 
at his desk, writing- rapidly, and surrounded by files 
of papers and patterns, specimens, boxes, every- 
thing- that covers the tables of a great merchant. 
In the outer rooms clerks were writing. Upon high 
shelves over their heads, were huge chests, covered 
with dust, dingy with age, many of them, and all 
marked with the name of the firm, in large black 
letters "Bourne & Dye." They were all numbered 
also with the proper year ; some of them with a single 
capital B, and dates extending back into the last 
century, when old Bourne made the great fortune, 
before he went into partnership with Dye. Every- 
thing was indicative of immense and increasing pros- 
perity. 

There were several gentlemen in waiting to con- 
verse with Bourne (we all call him so, familiarly, 
down town), and I waited until they went out. But 
others came in. There was no pause in the rush. 
All kinds of inquiries were made and answered. At 
length I stepped up. 

"A moment, please, Mr. Bourne." 

He looked up hastily, wished me good morning, 
which he had done to none of the others, and which 
courtesy I attributed to Spanish sympathy. 

"What is it, sir?" he asked, blandly, but with 
wrinkled brow. 

"Mr. Bourne, have you any castles in Spain?" 
said I, without preface. 

He looked at me for a few moments without speak- 
ing, and without seeming to see me. His brow 
gradually smoothed, and his eyes, apparently looking 
into the street, were really, I have no doubt, feasting 
upon the Spanish landscape. 

"Too many, too many," said he at length, 
musingly, shaking his head, and without addressing 
me. 

I suppose he felt himself too much extended as 
we say in Wall Street. He feared, I thought, that he 



30 Prue and I 

had too much impracticable property elsewhere, to 
own so much in Spain; so I asked, 

" Will you tell me what you consider the shortest 
and safest route thither, Mr. Bourne? for, of course, 
a man who drives such an immense trade with all 
parts of the world, will know all that I have come 
to inquire." 

"My dear sir," answered he wearily, "I have been 
trying- all my life to discover it ; but none of my ships 
have ever been there none of my captains have any 
report to make. They bring- me, as they brought my 
father, gold dust from Guinea ; ivory, pearls, and 
precious stones, from every part of the earth; but 
not a fruit, not a solitary flower, from one of my 
castles in Spain. I have sent clerks, agents, and 
travellers of all kinds, philosophers, pleasure-hunters, 
and invalids, in all sorts of ships, to all sorts of 
places, but none of them ever saw or heard of my 
castles, except one young poet, and he died in a 
mad-house." 

" Mr. Bourne, will you take five thousand at ninety- 
seven? " hastily demanded a man, whom, as he en- 
tered, I recognized as a broker. "We'll make a 
splendid thing of it." 

Bourne nodded assent, and the broker disappeared. 

" Happy man ! " muttered the merchant, as the 
broker went out; "he has no castles in Spain." 

"I am sorry to have troubled you, Mr. Bourne," 
said I, retiring. 

" I am glad you came," returned he ; " but I assure 
you, had 1 known the route you hoped to ascertain 
from me, 1 should have sailed years and years ago. 
People sail for the North-west Passage, which is 
nothing when you have found it. Why don't the 
English Admiralty fit out expeditions to discover all 
our castles in Spain? " 

He sat lost in thought. 

"It's nearly post-time, sir," said the clerk. 

Mr. Bourne did not heed him. He was still 
musing ; and I turned to go, wishing him good morn- 



My Chateaux 31 

ing-. When I had nearly reached the door, he called 
me back, saying, as if continuing- his remarks 

" It is strange that you, of all men, should come to 
ask me this question. If I envj' any man, it is you, 
for I sincerely assure you that I supposed you lived 
altogether upon your Spanish estates. I once thought 
I knew the way to mine. I gave directions for fur- 
nishing them, and ordered bridal bouquets, which 
were never used, but I suppose they are there still." 

He paused a moment, then said slowly " How is 
your wife? " 

I told him that Prue was well that she was always 
remarkably well. Mr, Bourne shook me warmly by 
the hand. 

"Thank you," said he. "Good morning." 

I knew why he thanked me ; I knew why he thought 
that I lived altogether upon my Spanish estates ; I 
knew a little bit about those bridal bouquets. Mr. 
Bourne, the millionaire, was an old lover of Prue's. 
There is something very odd about these Spanish 
castles. When I think of them, I somehow see the 
fair-haired girl whom I knew when I was not out of 
short jackets. When Bourne meditates them, he 
sees Prue and me quietly at home in their best 
chambers. It is a very singular thing that my wife 
should live in another's man's castle in Spain. 

At length I resolved to ask Titbottom if he had 
ever heard of the best route to our estates. He said 
that he owned castles, and sometimes there was an 
expression in his face, as if he saw them. I hope he 
did. I should long ago have asked him if he had 
ever observed the turrets of my possessions in the 
West, without alluding to Spain, if I had not feared 
he would suppose I was mocking his poverty. I hope 
his poverty has not turned his head, for he is very 
forlorn. 

One Sunday I went with him a few miles into the 
country. It was a soft, bright day, the fields and hills 
lay turned to the sky, as if every leaf and blade of 
grass were nerves, bared to the touch of the sun. I 



32 Prue and I 

almost felt the ground warm under my feet. The 
meadows waved and glittered, the lights and shadows 
were exquisite, and the distant hills seemed only to 
remove the horizon farther away. As we strolled 
along, picking wild flowers, for it was In summer, I 
was thinking what a fine day it was for a trip to 
Spain, when Titbottom suddenly exclaimed : 

"Thank God ! I own this landscape." 

"You," returned I. 

"Certainly," said he. 

"Why," I answered, "I thought this was part of 
Bourne's property? " 

Titbottom smiled. 

"Does Bourne own the sun and sky? Does Bourne 
own that sailing shadow yonder? Does Bourne own 
the golden lustre of the grain, or the motion of the 
wood, or those ghosts of hills, that glide pallid along 
the horizon? Bourne owns the dirt and fences; I 
own the beauty that makes the landscape, or other- 
wise how could I own castles in Spain? " 

That was very true. I respected Titbottom more 
than ever. 

"Do you know," said he, after a long pause, "that 
I fancy my castles lie just beyond those distant hills. 
At all events, I can see them distinctly from their 
summits." 

He smiled quietly as he spoke, and it was then I 
asked : 

" But, Titbottom, have you never discovered the 
way to them ? " 

"Dear me! yes," answered he, "I know the way 
well enough ; but it would do no good to follow it. 
I should give out before I arrived. It is a long and 
difficult journey for a man of my years and habits 
and income," he added slowly. 

As he spoke he seated himself upon the ground ; 
and while he pulled long blades of grass, and, putting 
them between his thumbs, whistled shrilly, he said : 

" I have never known but two men who reached 
their estates in Spain." 



My Chateaux 33 

"Indeed ! " said I, "how did they go? " 

" One went over the side of a ship, and the other 
out of a third story window," said Titbottom, fitting 
a broad blade between his thumbs and blowing a 
demoniacal blast. 

"And I know one proprietor who resides upon his 
estates constantly," continued he. 

"Who is that?" 

"Our old friend, Slug, whom you may see any day 
at the asylum, just coming in from the hunt, or going 
to call upon his friend the Grand Lama, or dressing 
for the wedding of the Man in the Moon, or receiving 
an ambassador from Timbuctoo. Whenever I go to 
see him. Slug insists that I am the Pope, disguised 
as a journeyman carpenter, and he entertains me in 
the most distinguished manner. He always insists 
upon kissing my foot, and I bestow upon him, kneel- 
ing, the apostolic benediction. This is the only 
Spanish proprietor in possession, with whom I am 
acquainted." 

And, so saying, Titbottom lay back upon the 
ground, and making a spy-glass of his hand, sur- 
veyed the landscape through it. This was a marvel- 
lous book-keeper of more than sixty ! 

" I know another man who lived in his Spanish 
castle for two months, and then was tumbled out 
head first. That was young Stunning who married 
old Buhl's daughter. She was all smiles, and mamma 
was all sugar, and Stunning was all bliss, for two 
months. He carried his head in the clouds, and 
felicity absolutely foamed at his eyes. He was 
drowned in love ; seeing, as usual, not what really 
was, but what he fancied. He lived so exclusively 
in his castle, that he forgot the ofhce down town, 
and one morning there came a fall, and Stunning 
was smashed," 

Titbottom arose, and stooping over, contemplated 
the landscape, with his head down between his legs. 

"It's quite a new effect, so," said the nimble 
book-keeper. 

D 



34 Prue and I 

"Well," said I, "Stunning failed?" 

" Oh yes, smashed all up, and the castle in Spain 
came down about his ears with a tremendous crash. 
The family sugar was all dissolved into the original 
cane in a moment. Fairy-times are over, are they? 
Heigh-ho ! the falling stones of Stunning's castle 
have left their marks all over his face. I call them 
his Spanish scars." 

"But, my dear Titbottom," said I, "what is the 
matter with you this morning, your usual sedateness 
is quite gone? " 

"It's only the exhilarating air of Spain," he an- 
swered. " My castles are so beautiful that I can never 
think of them, nor speak of them, without excite- 
ment ; when I was younger I desired to reach them 
even more ardently than now, because I heard that 
the philosopher's stone was in the vault of one of 
them." 

"Indeed," said I, yielding to sympathy, "and I 
have good reason to believe that the fountain of 
eternal youth flows through the garden of one of 
mine. Do you know whether there are any children 
upon your grounds? " 

"The children of Alice call Bartrum father!" 
replied Titbottom, solemnly, and in a low voice, as 
he folded his faded hands before him, and stood 
erect, looking wistfully over the landscape. The 
light wind played with his thin white hair, and his 
sober, black suit was almost sombre in the sunshine. 
The half bitter expression, which I had remarked 
upon his face during part of our conversation, had 
passed away, and the old sadness had returned to 
his eye. He stood, in the pleasant morning, the 
very image of a great proprietor of castles in Spain. 

"There is wonderful music there," he said : "some- 
times I awake at night, and hear it. It is full of the 
sweetness of youth, and love, and a new world. I 
lie and listen, and I seem to arrive at the great gates 
of my estates. They swing open upon noiseless 
hinges, and the tropic of my dreams receives me. 



My Chateaux 35 

Up the broad steps, whose marble pavement minijfled 
light and shadow print with shifting mosaic, beneath 
the boug-hs of lustrous oleanders, and palms, and 
trees of unimaginable fragrance, I pass into the vesti- 
bule, warm with summer odours, and into the pre- 
sence-chamber beyond, where my wife awaits me. 
But castle, and wife, and odorous woods, and pic- 
tures, and statues, and all the bright substance of my 
household, seem to reel and glimmer in the splendour, 
as the music fails. 

" But when it swells again, I clasp the wife to my 
heart, and we move on with a fair society, beautiful 
women, noble men, before whom the tropical luxuri- 
ance of that world bends and bows in homage; and, 
through endless days and nights of eternal summer, 
the stately revel of our life proceeds. Then, sud^ 
denly, the music stops. I hear my watch ticking 
under the pillow. I see dimly the outline of my little 
upper room. Then I fall asleep, and in the morning 
some one of the boarders at the breakfast-table says : 

" ' Did you hear the serenade last night, Mr. Tit- 
bottom? '" 

I doubted no longer that Titbottom was a very 
extensive proprietor. The truth is, that he was so 
constantly engaged in planning and arranging his 
castles, that he conversed very little at the office, and 
I had misinterpreted his silence. As we walked 
homeward, that day, he was more than ever tender 
and gentle. "We must all have something to do in 
this world," said he, "and I, who have so much 
leisure for you know I have no wife nor children 
to work for know not what I should do, if I had 
not my castles in Spain to look after." 

When I reached home, my darling Prue was sit- 
ting in the small parlour, reading. I felt a little guilty 
for having been so long away, and upon my only 
holiday, too. So I began to say that Titbottom in- 
vited me to go to walk, and that I had no idea we 
had gone so far, and that 

"Don't excuse yourself," said Prue, smiling as 

D 2 



36 



Prue and I 



she laid down her book ; " I am glad you have en- 
joyed yourself. You ought to go out sometimes, and 
breathe the fresh air, and run about the fields, which 
I am not strong enough to do. Why did you not 
bring home Mr. Titbottom to tea? He is so lonely, 
and looks so sad. I am sure he has very little com- 
fort in this life," said my thoughtful Prue, as she 
called Jane to set the tea-table. 

" But he has a good deal of comfort in Spain, 
Prue," answered I. 

" When was Mr. Titbottom in Spain ? " inquired 
my wife. 

"Why, he is there more than half the time," I 
replied. 

Prue looked quietly at me and smiled. " I see it 
has done you good to breathe the country air," said 
she. "Jane, get some of the blackberry jam, and 
call Adoniram and the children." 

So we went in to tea. We eat in the back parlour, 
for our little house and limited means do not allow us 
to have things upon the Spanish scale. It is better 
than a sermon to hear my wife Prue talk to the chil- 
dren ; and when she speaks to me it seems sweeter 
than psalm singing ; at least, such as we have in our 
church. I am very happy. 

Yet I dream my dreams, and attend to my castles 
in Spain. I have so much property there, that I could 
not, in conscience, neglect it. All the years of my 
youth, and the hopes of my manhood, are stored 
away, like precious stones, in the vaults ; and I know 
that I shall find everything convenient, elegant, and 
beautiful, when I come into possession. 

As the years go by, I am not conscious that my 
interest diminishes. If I see that age is subtly sifting 
his snow in the dark hair of my Prue, I smile, con- 
tented, for her hair, dark and heavy as when I first 
saw it, is all carefully treasured in my castles in 
Spain. If I feel her arm more heavily leaning upon 
mine, as we walk around the squares, I press it 
closely to my side, for I know that the easy grace of 



My Chateaux 37 

her youth's motion will be restored by the elixir of 
that Spanish air. If her voice sometimes falls less 
clearly from her lips, it is no less sweet to me, for 
the music of her voice's prime fills, freshly as ever, 
those Spanish halls. If the light I love fades a little 
from her eyes, I know that the glances she gave me, 
in our youth, are the eternal sunshine of my castles 
in Spain. 

I defy time and change. Each year laid upon our 
heads is a hand of blessing. I have no doubt that 
I shall find the shortest route to my possessions as 
soon as need be. Perhaps, when Adoniram is mar- 
ried, we shall all go out to one of my castles to pass 
the honeymoon. 

Ah ! if the true history of Spain could be written, 
what a book were there ! The most purely romantic 
ruin in the world is the Alhambra. But of the Span- 
ish castles, more spacious and splendid than any pos- 
sible Alhambra, and for ever unruined, no towers are 
visible, no pictures have been painted, and only a few 
ecstatic songs have been sung. The pleasure-dome of 
Kubla Khan, which Coleridge saw in Xanadu (a 
province with which I am not familiar), and a fine 
Castle of Indolence belonging to Thomson, and the 
Palace of art which Tennyson built as a "lordly 
pleasure-house " for his soul, are among the best 
statistical accounts of those Spanish estates. Turner, 
too, has done for them much the same service that 
Owen Jones has done for the Alhambra. In the vig- 
nette to Moore's Epicurean you will find represented 
one of the most extensive castles in Spain ; and there 
are several exquisite studies from others, by the same 
artists, published in Roger's Italy. 

But I confess I do not recognize any of these as 
mine, and that fact makes me prouder of my own 
castles, for, if there be such boundless variety of 
magnificence in their aspect and exterior, imagine 
the life that is led there, a life not unworthy such 
a setting. 

If Adoniram should be married within a reasonable 



38 



Prue and I 



time, and we should make up that little family party 
to go out, I have considered already what society I 
should ask to meet the bride. Jephthah's daughter 
and the Chevalier Bayard, I should say and fair 
Rosamond with Dean Swift King- Solomon and the 
Queen of Sheba would come over, I think, from his 
famous castle Shakespeare and his friend the Mar- 
quis of Southampton might come in a galley with 
Cleopatra; and, if any guest were offended by her 
presence, he should devote himself to the Fair One 
with Golden Locks. Mephistophiles is not person- 
ally disagreeable, and is exceedingly well-bred in 
society, I am told ; and he should come tete-a-tete 
with Mrs. Rawdon Crawley. Spenser should escort 
his Faerie Queen, who would preside at the tea- 
table. 

Mr. Samuel Weller I should ask as Lord of Mis- 
rule, and Dr. Johnson as the Abbot of Unreason. I 
would suggest to Major Dobbin to accompany Mrs. 
Fry ; Alcibiades would bring Homer and Plato in 
his purple-sailed galley ; and I would have Aspasia, 
Ninon de I'Enclos, and Mrs. Battle, to make up a 
table of whist with Queen Elizabeth. I shall order 
a seat placed in the oratory for Lady Jane Grey and 
Joan of Arc. I shall invite General Washington to 
bring some of the choicest cigars from his plantation 
for Sir Walter Raleigh ; and Chaucer, Browning, 
and Walter Savage Landor, should talk with Goethe, 
who is to bring Tasso on one arm and Iphigenia on 
the other. 

Dante and Mr. Carlyle would prefer, I suppose, 
to go down into the dark vaults under the castle. 
The Man in the Moon, the Old Harry, and William 
of the Wisp would be valuable additions, and the 
Laureate Tennyson might compose an official ode 
upon the occasion: or I would ask "They" to say 
all about it. 

Of course there are many other guests whose 
names I do not at the moment recall. But I should 
invite, first of all. Miles Coverdale, who knows every- 



My Chateaux 39 

things about these places and this society, for he was 
at Blithedale, and he has described "a select party" 
which he attended at a castle in the air. 

Prue has not yet looked over the list. In fact 1 
am not quite sure that she knows my intention. For 
I wish to surprise her, and I think it would be g'ener- 
ous to ask Bourne to lead her out in the bridal 
quadrille, I think that I shall try the first waltz with 
the girl I sometimes seem to see in my fairest castle, 
but whom I very vaguely remember. Titbottom will 
come with old I3urton and Jaques. But I have not 
prepared half my invitations. Do you not guess it, 
seeing that I did not name, first of all, Elia, who 
assisted at the "Rejoicings upon the new year's 
coming of age "? 

And yet, if Adoniram should never marry? or if 
we could not get to Spain ? or if the company would 
not come? 

What then? Shall I betray a secret? I have 
already entertained this party in my humble little 
parlour at home ; and Prue presided as serenely as 
Semiramis over her court. Have I not said that I 
defy time, and shall space hope to daunt me? I 
keep books by day, but by night books keep me. 
They leave me to dreams and reveries. Shall I con- 
fess, that sometimes when I have been sitting, read- 
ing to my Prue, Cymbeline, perhaps, or a Canterbury 
tale, I have seemed to see clearly before me the broad 
highway to my castles in Spain ; and as she looked 
up from her work, and smiled in sympathy, I have 
even fancied that I was already there. 



40 Prue and I 



SEA FROM SHORE 

" Come unto these yellow sands." 

The Tempest. 
"Argosies of magic sails, 
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales." 

Tennyson. 

In the month of June, Prue and I like to walk upon 
the Battery toward sunset, and watch the steamers, 
crowded with passengers, bound for the pleasant 
places along- the coast where people pass the hot 
months. Sea-side lodgings are not very comfortable, 
I am told ; but who would not be a little pinched in 
his chamber, if his windows looked upon the sea? 

In such praises of the ocean do I indulge at such 
times, and so respectfully do I regard the sailors 
who may chance to pass, that Prue often says, with 
her shrewd smiles, that my mind is a kind of Green- 
wich Hospital, full of abortive marine hopes and 
wishes, broken-legged intentions, blind regrets, and 
desires, whose hands have been shot away in some 
hard battle of experience, so that they cannot grasp 
the results towards which they reach. 

She is right, as usual. Such hopes and intentions 
do lie, ruined and hopeless now, strewn about the 
placid contentment of my mental life, as the old 
pensioners sit about the grounds at Greenwich, 
maimed and musing in the quiet morning sunshine. 
Many a one among them thinks what a Nelson he 
would have been if both his legs had not been pre- 
maturely carried away ; or in what a Trafalgar of 
triumph he would have ended, if, unfortunately, he 
had not happened to have been blown blind by the 
explosion of that unlucky magazine. 

So I dream, sometimes, of a straight scarlet collar, 
stiff with gold lace, around my neck, instead of this 
limp white cravat ; and I have even brandished my 



Sea from Shore 41 

quill at the office so cutlass-wise, that Titbottom has 
paused in his additions and looked at me as if he 
doubted whether I should come out quite square in 
my petty cash. Yet he understands it, Titbottom 
was born in Nantucket. 

That is the secret of my fondness for the sea; 
I was born by it. Not more surely do Savoyards 
pine for the mountains, or Cockneys for the sound 
of Bow bells, than those who are born within sight 
and sound of the ocean to return to it and renew 
their fealty. In dreams the children of the sea hear 
its voice. 

I have read in some book of travels that certain 
tribes of Arabs have no name for the ocean, and 
that when they came to the shore for the first time, 
they asked with eager sadness, as if penetrated by 
the conviction of a superior beauty, "what is that 
desert of water more beautiful than the land?" 
And in the translations of German stories which 
Adoniram and the other children read, and into 
which I occasionally look in the evening when they 
are gone to bed for I like to know what interests 
my children I find that the Germans, who do not 
live near the sea, love the fairy lore of water, and 
tell the sweet stories of Undine and Melusina, as if 
they had especial charm for them, because their 
country is inland. 

We who know the sea have less fairy feeling about 
it, but our realities are romance. My earliest remem- 
brances are of a long range of old, half dilapidated 
stores ; red brick stores with steep wooden roofs, and 
stone window-frames and door-frames, which stood 
upon docks built as if for immense trade with all 
quarters of the globe. 

Generally there were only a few sloops moored to 
the tremendous posts, which I fancied could easily 
hold fast a Spanish Armada in a tropical hurricane. 
But somtimes a great ship, an East Indiaman, with 
rusty, seamed, blistered sides, and dingy sails, came 
slowly moving up the harbour, with an air of indolent 



42 Prue and I 

self-importance and consciousness of superiority, 
which inspired me with profound respect. If the ship 
had ever chanced to run down a row-boat, or a sloop, 
or any specimen of smaller craft, I should only have 
wondered at the temerity of any floating thing- in 
crossing the path of such supreme majesty. The 
ship was leisurely chained and cabled to the old dock, 
and then came the disembowelling. 

How the stately monster had been fattening upon 
foreign spoils ! How it had gorged itself (such gal- 
leons did never seem to me of the feminine gender) 
with the luscious treasures of the tropics ! It had 
lain its lazy length along the shores of China, and 
sucked in whole flowery harvests of tea. The 
Brazilian sun flashed through the strong wicker 
prisons, bursting with bananas and nectarean fruits 
that eschew the temperate zone. Steams of cam- 
phor, of sandal wood, arose from the hold. Sailors 
chanting cabalistic strains, that had to my ear a 
shrill and monotonous pathos, like the uniform rising 
and falling of an autumn wind, turned cranks that 
lifted the bales, and boxes, and crates, and swung 
them ashore. 

But to my mind, the spell of their singing raised 
the fragrant freight, and not the crank, Madagascar 
and Ceylon appeared at the mystic bidding of the 
song. The placid sunshine of the docks was per- 
fumed with India. The universal calm of southern 
seas poured from the bosom of the ship over the 
quiet, decaying old northern port. 

Long after the confusion of unloading was over, 
and the ship lay as if all voyages were ended, I dared 
to creep timorously along the edge of the dock, and 
at great risk of falling in the black water of its huge 
shadow, I placed my hand upon the hot hulk, and 
so established a mystic and exquisite connection with 
Pacific islands, with palm groves and all the passion- 
ate beauties they embower; with jungles, Bengal 
tigers, pepper, and the crushed feet of Chinese fairies. 
I touched Asia, the Cape of Good Hope and the 



Sea from Shore 43 

Happy Islands. I would not believe that the heat I 
felt was of our northern sun ; to my finer sympathy 
it burned with equatorial fervours. 

The freight was piled in the old stores. I believe 
that many of them remain, but they have lost their 
character. When I knew them, not only was I 
younger, but partial decay had overtaken the town ; 
at least the bulk of its India trade had shifted to New 
York and Boston. But the appliances remained. 
There was no throng of busy traffickers, and after 
school, in the afternoon, I strolled by and gazed into 
the solemn interiors. 

Silence reigned within, silence, dimness, and piles 
of foreign treasure. Vast coils of cable, like tame 
boa-constrictors, served as seats for men with large 
stomachs, and heavy watch-seals, and nankeen 
trousers, who sat looking out of the door toward the 
ships, with little other sign of life than an occasional 
low talking, as if in their sleep. Huge hogsheads 
perspiring brown sugar and oozing slow molasses, 
as if nothing tropical could keep within bounds, but 
must continually expand, and exude, and overflow, 
stood against the walls, and had an architectural 
significance, for they darkly reminded me of Egyptian 
prints, and in the duskiness of the low vaulted store 
seemed cyclopean columns incomplete. Strange fes- 
toons and heaps of bags, square piles of square boxes 
cased in mats, bales of airy summer stuffs, which, 
even in winter, scoffed at cold, and shamed it by 
audacious assumption of eternal sun, little specimen 
boxes of precious dyes that even now shine through 
my memory, like old Venetian schools unpainted, 
these were all there in rich confusion. 

The stores had a twilight of dimness, the air was 
spicy with mingled odours. I liked to look suddenly 
in from the glare of sunlight outside, and then the 
cool sweet dimness was like the palpable breath of 
the far off island-groves ; and if only some parrot or 
macaw hung within, would flaunt with glistening 
plumage in his cage, and as the gay hue flashed in 



44 Prue and I 

a chance sunbeam, call in his hard, shrill voice, as if 
thrusting sharp sounds upon a glistening wire from 
out that grateful gloom, then the enchantment was 
complete, and without moving, I was circumnavigat- 
ing the globe. 

From the old stores and the docks slowly crum- 
bling, touched, I know not why or how, by the 
pensive air of past prosperity, I rambled out of town 
on those well-remembered afternoons, to the fields 
that lay upon hillsides over the harbour, and there 
sat, looking out to sea, fancying some distant sail 
proceeding to the glorious ends of the earth, to be 
my type and image, who would so sail, stately and 
successful, to all the glorious ports of the Future. 
Going home, I returned by the stores, which black 
porters were closing. But I stood long looking in, 
saturating my imagination, and as it appeared, my 
clothes, with the spicy suggestion. For when I 
reached home my thrifty mother another Prue 
came snuffing and smelling about me. 

"Why! my son {smiff, snuff,) where have you 
been? (snuff, snuff). Has the baker been making 
(snuff) ginger-bread? You smell as if you'd been 
in (snuff, snuff,) a bag of cinnamon." 

"I've only been on the wharves, mother." 

"Well, my dear, I hope you haven't stuck up your 
clothes with molasses. Wharves are dirty places, 
and dangerous. You must take care of yourself, my 
son. Really this smell is (snuff, snuff,) very strong." 

But I departed from the maternal presence, proud 
and happy. I was aromatic. I bore about me the 
true foreign air. Whoever smelt me smelt distant 
countries. I had nutmeg, spices, cinnamon, and 
cloves, without the jolly red-nose. I pleased myself 
with being the representative of the Indies. I was in 
good odour with myself and all the world. 

I do not know how it is, but surely Nature makes 
kindly provision. An imagination so easily excited 
as mine could not have escaped disappointment if it 
had had ample opportunity and experience of the 



Sea from Shore 45 

lands it so longed to see. Therefore, although I made 
the India voyage, I have never been a traveller, and 
saving the little time I was ashore in India, I did not 
lose the sense of novelty and romance, which the first 
sight of foreign lands inspires. 

That little time was all my foreign travel. I am 
glad of it. I see now that I should never have found 
the country from which the East Indiaman of my 
early days arrived. The palm groves do not grow 
with which that hand laid upon the ship placed me in 
magic conception. As for the lovely Indian maid 
whom the palmy arches bowered, she has long since 
clasped some native lover to her bosom, and, ripened 
into mild maternity, how should I know her now? 

"You would find her quite as easily now as then," 
says my Prue, when I speak of it. 

She is right again, as usual, that precious woman ; 
and it is therefore I feel that if the chances of life 
have moored me fast to a book-keeper's desk, they 
have left all the lands I longed to see fairer and 
fresher in my mind than they could ever be in my 
memory. Upon my only voyage I used to climb into 
the top and search the horizon for the shore. But 
now in a moment of calm thought I see a more Indian 
India than ever mariner discerned, and do not envy 
the youths who go there and make fortunes, who 
wear grass-cloth jackets, drink iced beer, and eat 
curry ; whose minds fall asleep, and whose bodies 
have liver complaints. 

Unseen by me for ever, nor ever regretted, shall 
wave the Egyptian palms and the Italian pines. 
Untrodden by me, the Forum shall still echo with 
the footfall of imperial Rome, and the Parthenon 
unrifled of its marbles, look, perfect, across the 
^gean blue. 

My young friends return from their foreign tours 
elate with the smiles of a nameless Italian or Parisian 
belle. I know not such cheap delights ; I am a suitor 
of Vittoria Colonna ; I walk with Tasso along the 
terraced garden of the Villa d'Este, and look to see 



46 



Prue and I 



Beatrice smiling down the rich gloom of the cypress 
shade. You stayed at the HStel Europa in Venice, at 
Danielli's, or the Leone bianco; I am the guest of 
Marino Faliero, and I whisper to his wife as we climb 
the giant staircase in the summer moonlight, 

' ' Ah ! senza amare 
Andare sul mare, 
Col sposo del mare, 
Non puo consolare." 

It is for the same reason that I did not care to 
dine with you and Aurelia, that I am content not to 
stand in St. Peter's. Alas ! if I could see the end of 
it, it would not be St. Peter's. For those of us 
whom Nature means to keep at home, she provides 
entertainment. One man goes four thousand miles 
to Italy, and does not see it, he is so short-sighted. 
Another is so far-sighted that he stays in his room 
and sees more than Italy. 

But for this very reason that it washes the shores 
of my possible Europe and Asia, the sea draws me 
contantly to itself. Before I came to New York, 
while I was still a clerk in Boston, courting Prue,, 
and living out of town, I never knew of a ship sailing 
for India or even for England and France, but I went 
up to the State House cupola or to the observa- 
tory on some friend's house in Roxbury, where I 
could not be interrupted, and there watched the 
departure. 

The sails hung ready ; the ship lay in the stream ; 
busy little boats and pufTing steamers darted about 
it, clung to its sides, paddled away for it, or led the 
way to sea, as minnows might pilot a whale. The 
anchor was slowly swung at the bow ; I could not 
hear the sailors' song, but I knew they were singing. 
I could not see the parting friends, but I knew fare- 
wells were spoken. I did not share the confusion, 
although I knew what bustle there was, what hurry, 
what shouting, what creaking, what fall of ropes and 
iron, what sharp oaths, low laughs, whispers, sobs. 
But I was cool, high, separate. To me it was 



Sea from Shore 47 

*' A painted ship 
Upon a painted ocean." 

The sails were shaken out, and the ship began to 
move. It was a fair breeze, perhaps, and no steamer 
was needed to tow her away. She receded down the 
bay. Friends turned back I could not see them 
and waved their hands, and wiped their eyes, and 
went home to dinner. Farther and farther from 
the ships at anchor, the lessening vessel became 
single and solitary upon the water. The sun sank 
in the west ; but I watched her still. Every flash 
of her sails, as she tacked and turned, thrilled my 
heart. 

Yet Prue was not on board. I had never seen one 
of the passengers or the crew. I did not know the 
consignees, nor the name of the vessel. I had shipped 
no adventure, nor risked any insurance, nor made 
any bet, but my eyes clung to her as Ariadne's to the 
fading sail of Theseus. The ship was freighted with 
more than appeared upon her papers, yet she was not 
a smuggler. She bore all there was of that nameless 
lading, yet the next ship would carry as much. She 
was freighted with fancy. My hopes, and wishes, 
and vague desires, were all on board. It seemed to 
me a treasure not less rich than that which filled the 
East Indiaman at the old dock in my boyhood. 

^^'hen, at length, the ship was a sparkle upon the 
horizon, I waved my hand in last farewell, I strained 
my eyes for a last glimpse. My mind had gone to 
sea, and had left noise behind. But now I heard 
again the multitudinous murmur of the city, and went 
down rapidly, and threaded the short, narrow, streets 
to the office. Yet, believe it, every dream of that day, 
as I watched the vessel, was written at night to Prue. 
She knew my heart had not sailed away. 

Those days are long past now, but still I walk upon 
the Battery and look towards the Narrows, and know 
that beyond them, separated only by the sea, are 
many of whom I would so gladly know, and so rarely 
hear. The sea rolls between us like the lapse of 



48 



Prue and I 



dusky ages. They trusted themselves to it, and it 
bore them away far and far as if into the past. Last 
night I read of Antony, but I have not heard from 
Christopher these many months, and by so much 
farther aw^ay is he, so much older and more remote, 
than Antony. As for William, he is as vague 
as any of the shepherd kings of ante-Pharaonic 
dynasties. 

It is the sea that has done it, it has carried them 
off and put them away upon its other side. It is 
fortunate the sea did not put them upon its under- 
side. Are they hale and happy still? Is their hair 
grey, and have they mustachios ? Or have they taken 
to wigs and crutches? Are they popes or cardinals 
yet? Do they feast with Lucrezia Borgia, or preach 
red republicanism to the Council of Ten? Do they 
sing, Behold how brightly breaks the morning with 
Masaniello? Do they laugh at Ulysses and skip 
ashore to the Syrens? Has Mesrour, chief of the 
Eunuchs, caught them with Zobeide in the Caliph's 
garden, or have they made cheese cakes without 
pepper? Friends of my youth, where in your wander- 
ings have you tasted the blissful Lotus, that you 
neither come nor send us tidings? 

Across the sea also came idle rumours, as false 
reports steal into history and defile fair fames. Was 
it longer ago than yesterday that I walked with my 
cousin, then recently a widow, and talked with her of 
the countries to which she meant to sail? She was 
young, and dark-eyed, and wore great hoops of gold, 
barbaric gold, in her ears. The hope of Italy, the 
thought of living there, had risen like a dawn in the 
darkness of her mind. I talked and listened by rapid 
turns. 

Was it longer ago than yesterday that she told me 
of her splendid plans, how palaces tapestried with 
gorgeous paintings should be cheaply hired, and the 
best of teachers lead her children to the completest 
and most various knowledge; how, and with her 
slender pittance ! she should have a box at the 



Sea from Shore 49 

opera, and a carriage, and liveried servants, and in 
perfect health and youth, lead a perfect life in a 
perfect climate? 

And now what do I hear? Why does a tear some- 
times drop so audibly upon my paper, that Titbottom 
looks across with a sort of mild rebuking glance of 
inquiry, whether it is kind to let even a single tear 
fall, when an ocean of tears is pent up in hearts that 
would burst and overflow if but one drop should force 
its way out? Why across the sea came faint gusty 
stories, like low voices in the wind, of a cloistered 
garden and sunny seclusion and a life of unknown 
and unexplained luxury. What is this picture of a 
pale face showered with streaming black hair, and 
large sad eyes looking upon lovely and noble children 
playing in the sunshine and a brow pained with 
thought straining into their destiny? \Vho is this 
figure, a man tall and comely, with melting eyes and 
graceful motion, who comes and goes at pleasure, 
who is not a husband, yet has the key of the cloistered 
garden? 

I do not know. They are secrets of the sea. The 
pictures pass before my mind suddenly and unawares, 
and I feel the tears rising that I would gladly repress. 
Titbottom looks at me, then stands by the window of 
the office and leans his brow against the cold iron 
bars, and looks down into the little square paved 
court. I take my hat and steal out of the office for a 
few minutes, and slowly pace the hurrying streets. 
Meek-eyed Alice ! magnificent Maud ! sweet baby 
Lilian ! why does the sea imprison you so far away, 
when will you return, where do you linger? The 
water laps idly about docks, lies calm, or gaily 
heaves. Why does it bring me doubts and fears now, 
that brought such bounty of beauty in the days long 
gone? 

I remember that the day when my dark-haired 
cousin, with hoops of barbaric gold in her ears, sailed 
for Italy, was quarter-day, and we balanced the books 
at the office. It was nearly noon, and in my im- 

E 



o 



o Prue and I 



patience to be away, I had not added my columns 
with sufficient care. The inexorable hand of the 
office clock pointed sternly towards twelve, and the 
remorseless pendulum ticked solemnly to noon. 

To a man whose pleasures are not many, and rather 
small, the loss of such an event as saying- farewell 
and wishing God-speed to a friend going to Europe, 
is a great loss. It was so to me, especially, because 
there was always more to me, in every departure, 
than the parting and the farewell. I was gradually 
renouncing this pleasure, as I saw small prospect of 
ending before noon, when Titbottom, after looking 
at me a moment, came to my side of the desk, and 
said : 

"I should like to finish that for }ou." 

I looked at him : poor Titbottom ! he had no friends 
to wish God-speed upon any journey. I quietly wiped 
my pen, took down my hat, and went out. It was in 
the days of sail packets and less regularity, when 
going to Europe was more of an epoch in life. How 
gaily my cousin stood upon the deck and detailed to 
me her plan ! How merrily the children shouted and 
sang 1 How long I held my cousin's little hand in 
mine, and gazed into her great eyes, remembering 
that they would see and touch the things that were 
invisible to me for ever, but all the more precious and 
fair ! She kissed me I was younger then there 
were tears, I remember, and prayers, and promises, 
a waving handkerchief, a fading sail. 

It was only the other day that I saw another part- 
ing of the same kind. I was not a principal, only a 
spectator ; but so fond am I of sharing, afar off, as it 
were, and unseen, the sympathies of human beings, 
that I cannot avoid often going to the dock upon 
steam.er-days and giving myself to that pleasant and 
melancholy observation. There is always a crowd, 
but this day it was almost impossible to advance 
through the masses of people. The eager faces 
hurried by ; a constant stream poured up the gangway 
into the steamer, and the upper deck, to which I 



Sea from Shore 51 

gradually made my way, was crowded with the pas- 
sengers and their friends. 

There was one group upon which my eyes first 
fell, and upon which my memory lingers. A glance, 
brilliant as daybreak, a voice, 

" Her voice's music, call it the well's bubbling, the bird's 
warble," 

a goddess girdled with flowers, and smiling farewell 
upon a circle of worshippers, to each one of whom 
that gracious calmness made the smile sweeter, and 
the farewell more sad other figures, other flowers, 
an angel face all these I saw in that group as I was 
swayed up and down the deck by the eager swarm of 
people. The hour came, and I went on shore with 
the rest. The plank was drawn away the captain 
raised his hand the huge steamer slowly moved a 
cannon was fired the ship was gone. 

The sun sparkled upon the water as they sailed 
away. In five minutes the steamer was as much 
separated from the shore as if it had been at sea a 
thousand years. 

I leaned against a post upon the dock and looked 
around. Ranged upon the edge of the wharf stood 
that band of worshippers, waving handkerchiefs and 
straining their eyes to see the last smile of farewell 
did any eager selfish eye hope to see a tear? They 
to whom the handkerchiefs were waved stood high 
upon the stern, holding flowers. Over them hung the 
great flag, raised by the gentle wind into the graceful 
folds of a canopy, say rather a gorgeous gonfalon 
waved over the triumphant departure, over that 
supreme youth, and bloom, and beauty, going out 
across the mystic ocean to carry a finer charm and 
more human splendour into those realms of my 
imagination beyond the sea. 

"You will return, O youth and beauty ! " I said to 

my dreaming and foolish self, as I contemplated those 

fair figures, "richer than Alexander with Indian 

spoils. All that historic association, that copious 

E 2 



52 Prue and I 

civilization, those grandeurs and graces of art, that 
variety and picturesqueness of life, will mellow and 
deepen your experience even as time silently touches 
those old pictures into a more persuasive and pathetic 
beauty, and as this increasing summer sheds ever 
softer lustre upon the landscape. You will return 
conquerors and not conquered. You will bring 
Europe, even as Aurelian brought Zenobia captive, 
to deck your homeward triumph. I do not wonder 
that these clouds break away, I do not wonder that 
the sun presses out and floods all the air, and land, 
and water, with light that graces with happy omens 
your stately farewell." 

But if my faded face looked after them with such 
earnest and longing emotion, I, a solitary old man, 
unknown to those fair beings, and standing apart 
from that band of lovers, yet in that moment bound 
more closely to them than they knew, how was it 
with those whose hearts sailed away with that youth 
and beauty? I watched them closely from behind 
my post. I knew that life had paused with them ; 
that the world stood still. I knew that the long, long 
summer would be only a yearning regret. I knew 
that each asked himself the mournful question, " Is 
this parting typical this slow, sad, sweet, reces- 
sion? " And I knew that they did not care to ask 
whether they should meet again, nor dare to contem- 
plate the chances of the sea. 

The steamer swept on, she was near Staten Island, 
and a final gun boomed far and low across the water. 
The crowd was dispersing, but the little group re- 
mained. Was it not all Hood had sung? 

" I saw thee, lovely Inez, 
Descend along the shore 
With bands of noble gentlemen, 
And banners waved before ; 
And gentle youths and maidens gay, 
And snowy plumes they wore ; 
It would have been a beauteous dream, 
If it had been no more ! " 

"O youth!" I said to them without speaking, 



Sea from Shore 53 

"be it gently said, as it is solemnly thought, should 
they return no more, yet in your memories the high 
hour of their loveliness is for ever enshrined. Should 
they come no more they never will be old, nor 
changed, to you. You will wax and wane, you will 
suffer, and struggle, and grow old ; but this summer 
vision will smile, immortal, upon your lives, and 
those fair faces shall shed, for ever, from under that 
slowly waving flag, hope and peace." 

It is so elsewhere ; it is the tenderness of Nature. 
Long, long ago we lost our first-born, Prue and I. 
Since then, we have grown older and our children 
with us. Change comes, and grief, perhaps, and 
decay. We are happy, our children are obedient and 
gay. But should Prue live until she has lost us all, 
and laid us, gray and weary, in our graves, she will 
have always one babe in her heart. Every mother 
who has lost an infant, has gained a child of immortal 
youth. Can you find comfort here, lovers, whose 
mistress has sailed away? 

I did not ask the question aloud, I thought it only, 
as I watched the youths, and turned away while they 
still stood gazing. One, I observed, climbed a post 
and waved his black hat before the white-washed side 
of the shed over the dock, whence I supposed he 
would tumble into the water. Another had tied a 
handkerchief to the end of a somewhat baggy um- 
brella, and in the eagerness of gazing, had forgotten 
to wave it, so that it hung mournfully down, as if 
overpowered with grief it could not express. The 
entranced youth still held the umbrella aloft. It 
seemed to me as if he had struck his flag ; or as if one 
of my cravats were airing in that sunlight. A negro 
carter was joking with an apple-woman at the en- 
trance of the dock. The steamer was out of sight. 

I found that I was belated and hurried back to my 
desk. Alas ! poor lovers ; I wonder if they are watch- 
ing still? Has he fallen exhausted from the post into 
the water? Is that handkerchief, bleached and rent, 
still pendant upon that somewhat baggy umbrella? 



54 Prue and I 

"Youth and beauty went to Europe to-day," said 
I to Prue, as I stirred my tea at evening. 

As I spoke, our youngest daughter brought me the 
sugar. She is just eighteen, and her name should be 
Hebe. I took a lump of sugar and looked at her. 
She had never seemed so lovely, and as I dropped the 
lump in my cup, I kissed her. I glanced at Prue as 
I did so. The dear woman smiled, but did not answer 
my exclamation. 

Thus, without travelling, I travel, and share the 
emotions of those I do not know. But sometimes 
the old longing comes over me as in the days when I 
timidly touched the huge East Indiaman, and mag- 
netically sailed around the world. 

It was but a few days after the lovers and I waved 
farewell to the steamer, and while the lovely figures 
standing under the great gonfalon were as vivid in 
my mind as ever, that a day of premature sunny sad- 
ness, like those of the Indian summer, drew me away 
from the office early in the afternoon : for fortunately 
it is our dull season now, and even Titbottom some- 
times leaves the ofTice by five o'clock. Although why 
he should leave it, or where he goes, or what he does, 
I do not well know. Before I knew him, I used 
sometimes to meet him with a man whom I was after- 
wards told was Bartleby, the scrivener. Even then 
it seemed to me that they rather clubbed their loneli- 
ness than made society for each other. Recently I 
have not seen Bartleby ; but Titbottom seems no more 
solitary because he is alone. 

I strolled into the Battery as I sauntered about. 
Staten Island looked so alluring, tender-hued with 
summer and melting in the haze, that I resolved to 
indulge myself in a pleasure-trip. It was a little 
selfish, perhaps, to go alone, but I looked at my 
watch, and saw that if I should hurry home for 
Prue the trip would be lost ; then I should be dis- 
appointed, and she would be grieved. 

Ought I not rather (I like to begin questions, which 
I am going to answer affirmatively, with ought,) to 



Sea from Shore 55 

take the trip and recount my adventures to Prue upon 
my return, whereby I should actually enjoy the excur- 
sion and the pleasure of telling her; while she would 
enjoy my story and be glad that I was pleased? 
Ought I wilfully to deprive us both of this various 
enjoyment by aiming at a higher, which, in losing, 
we should lose all? 

Unfortunately, just as I was triumphantly answer- 
ing "Certainly not ! " another question marched into 
my mind, escorted by a very defiant ought. 

" Ought I to go when I have such a debate about 
it?" 

But while I was perplexed, and scofifing at my own 
scruples, the ferry-bell suddenly rang, and answered 
all my questions. Involuntarily I hurried on board. 
The boat slipped from the dock. I went up on deck 
to enjoy the view of the city from the bay, but just as 
I sat down, and meant to have said " how beautiful ! " 
I found myself asking : 

"Ought I to have come? " 

Lost in perplexing debate, I saw little of the scenery 
of the bay ; but the remembrance of Prue and the 
gentle influence of the day plunged me into a mood of 
pensive reverie which nothing tended to destroy, 
until we suddenly arrived at the landing. 

As I was stepping ashore, I was greeted by Mr. 
Bourne, who passes the summer on the island, and 
who hospitably asked if I were going his way. His 
way was toward the southern end of the island, and I 
said yes. His pockets were full of papers and his 
brow of wrinkles ; so when we reached the point 
where he should turn off, I asked him to let me alight, 
although he was very anxious to carry me wherever 

I was going. 

"I am only strolling about," I answered, as 1 
clambered carefully out of the wagon. 

"Strolling about?" asked he, in a bewildered 
manner; "do people stroll about, now-a-days?" 

"Sometimes," I answered, smiling, as I pulled my 
trousers down over my boots, for they had dragged 



56 



Prue and I 



up, as I stepped out of the wagon, "and beside, what 
can an old book-keeper do better in the dull season 
than stroll about this pleasant island, and watch the 
ships at sea? " 

Bourne looked at me with his weary eyes. 

"I'd give five thousand dollars a year for a dull 
season," said he, "but as for strolling, I've forgotten 
how." 

As he spoke, his eyes wandered dreamily across the 
fields and woods, and were fastened upon the distant 
sails. 

" It is pleasant," he said musingly, and fell into 
silence. But I had no time to spare, so I wished him 
good-afternoon. 

"I hope your wife is well," said Bourne to me, as 
I turned away. Poor Bourne ! He drove on alone in 
his wagon. 

But I made haste to the most solitary point upon 
the southern shore, and there sat, glad to be so near 
the sea. There was that warm, sympathetic silence 
in the air, that gives to Indian-summer days almost 
a human tenderness of feeling. A delicate haze, that 
seemed only the kindly air made visible, hung over 
the sea. The water lapped languidly among the 
rocks, and the voices of children in a boat beyond, 
rang musically, and gradually receded, until they 
were lost in the distance. 

It was some time before I was aware of the outline 
of a large ship, drawn vaguely upon the mist, which 
I supposed, at first, to be only a kind of mirage. 
But the more steadfastly I gazed, the more distinct it 
became, and I could no longer doubt that I saw a 
stately ship lying at anchor, not more than half a 
mile from the land. 

"It is an extraordinary place to anchor," I said to 
myself, "or can she be ashore? " 

There were no signs of distress ; the sails were 
carefully clewed up, and there were no sailors in the 
tops, nor upon the shrouds. A flag, of which I could 
not see the device or the nation, hung heavily at the 



Sea from Shore 57 

stern, and looked as if it had fallen asleep. My 
curiosity began to be singularly excited. The form 
of the vessel seemed not to be permanent; but within 
a quarter of an hour, I was sure that I had seen half 
a dozen different ships. As I gazed, I saw no more 
sails nor masts, but a long range of oars, flashing 
like a golden fringe, or straight and stiff, like the legs 
of a sea-monster. 

"It is some bloated crab, or lobster, magnified by 
the mist," I said to myself, complacently. 

But, at the same moment, there was a concentrated 
flashing and blazing in one spot among the rigging, 
and it was as if I saw a beatified ram, or, more truly, 
a sheep-skin, splendid as the hair of Berenice. 

"Is that the golden fleece?" I thought. "But, 
surely, Jason and the Argonauts have gone home 
long since. Do people go on gold-fleecing expedi- 
tions now?" I asked myself, in perplexity. "Can 
this be a California steamer? " 

How could I have thought it a steamer? Did I 
not see those sails, "thin and sere "? Did I not feel 
the melancholy of that solitary bark? It had a mystic 
aura ; a boreal brilliancy shimmered in its wake', for 
it was drifting seaward. A strange fear curdled 
along my veins. That summer sun shone cool. The 
weary, battered ship was gashed, as if gnawed by 
ice. There was terror in the air, as a "skinny hand 
so brown " waved to me from the deck. I lay as one 
bewitched. The hand of the ancient mariner seemed 
to be reaching for me, like the hand of death. 

Death? Why, as I was inly praying Prue's for- 
giveness for my solitary ramble and consequent 
demise, a glance like the fulness of summer splendour 
gushed over me ; the odour of flowers and of eastern 
gums made all the atmosphere. I breathed the 
orient, and lay drunk with balm, while that strange 
ship, a golden galley now, with glittering draperies 
festooned with flowers, paced to the measured beat 
of oars along the calm, and Cleopatra smiled allur- 
ingly from the great pageant's heart. 



58 



Prue and I 



Was this a barge for summer waters, this peculiar 
ship I saw? It had a ruined dignity, a cumbrous 
grandeur, although its masts were shattered, and its 
sails rent. It hung preternaturally still upon the sea, 
as if tormented and exhausted by long driving and 
drifting. I saw no sailors, but a great Spanish ensign 
floated over, and waved, a funereal plume. I knew 
it then. The armada was long since scattered; but, 
floating far 

"on desolate rainy seas," 

lost for centuries, and again restored to sight, here 
lay one of the fated ships of Spain. The huge 
galleon seemed to fill all the air, built up against 
the sky, like the gilded ships of Claude Lorraine 
against the sunset. 

But it fled, for now a black flag fluttered at the 
mast-head a long low vessel darted swiftly where 
the vast ship lay ; there came a shrill piping whistle, 
the clash of cutlasses, fierce ringing oaths, sharp 
pistol cracks, the thunder of command, and over all 
the gusty yell of a demoniac chorus, 

" My name was Robert Kidd, when I sailed." 

There were no clouds longer, but under a serene 
sky I saw a bark moving with festal pomp, thronged 
with grave senators in flowing robes, and one with 
ducal bonnet in the midst, holding a ring. The 
smooth bark swam upon a sea like that of southern 
latitudes. I saw the Bucentoro and the nuptials of 
Venice and the Adriatic. 

Who were those coming over the side? Who 
crowded the boats, and sprang into the water, men 
in old Spanish armour, with plumes and swords, and 
bearing a glittering cross? Who was he standing 
upon the deck with folded arms and gazing towards 
the shore, as lovers on their mistresses and martyrs 
upon heaven? Over what distant and tumultuous 
seas had this small craft escaped from other centuries 
and distant shores? What sounds of foreign hymns, 



Sea from Shore 59 

forgotten now, were these, and what solemnity of 
debarkation? Was this grave form Columbus? 

Yet these were not so Spanish as they seemed 
just now. This group of stern-faced men with high 
peaked hats, who knelt upon the cold deck and 
looked out upon a shore which, I could see by their 
joyless smile of satisfaction, was rough, and bare, 
and forbidding. In that soft afternoon, standing in 
mournful groups upon the small deck, why did they 
seem to me to be seeing the sad shores of wintry 
New England? That phantom-ship could not be the 
May Flower ! 

I gazed long upon the shifting illusion. 

"If I should board this ship," I asked myself, 
"where should I go? whom should I meet? what 
should I see? Is not this the vessel that shall carry 
me to my Europe, my foreign countries, my impos- 
sible India, the Atlantis that I have lost? " 

As I sat staring at it I could not but wonder 
whether Bourne had seen this sail when he looked 
upon the water? Does he see such sights every day, 
because he lives down here? Is it not perhaps a 
magic yacht of his ; and does he slip off privately 
after business hours to Venice, and Spain, and Egypt, 
perhaps to El Dorado? Does he run races with 
Ptolemy, Philopater and Hiero of Syracuse, rare 
regattas on fabulous seas? 

Why not? He is a rich man, too, and why should 
not a New York merchant do what a Syracuse tyrant 
and an Egyptian prince did? Has Bourne's yacht 
those sumptuous chambers, like Philopatcr's galley, 
of which the greater part was made of split cedar, 
and of Milesian cypress ; and has he twenty doors 
put together with beams of citron-wood, with many 
ornaments? Has the roof of his cabin a carved 
golden face, and is his sail linen with a purple 
fringe? 

"I suppose it is so," I said to myself, as I looked 
wistfully at the ship, which began to glimmer and 
melt in the haze. 



6o Prue and I 

"It certainly is not a fishing-smack?" I asked, 
doubtfully. 

No, it must be Bourne's magic yacht; I was sure 
of it. I could not help laughing at poor old Hiero, 
whose cabins were divided into many rooms, with 
floors composed of mosaic work, of all kinds of stones 
tessellated. And, on this mosaic, the whole story of 
the Iliad was depicted in a marvellous manner. He 
had gardens "of all sorts of most wonderful beauty, 
enriched with all sorts of plants, and shadowed by 
roofs of lead or tiles. And, besides this, there were 
tents roofed with boughs of white ivy and of the vine 
the roots of which derived their moisture from 
casks full of earth, and were watered in the same 
manner as the gardens. There were temples, also, 
with doors of ivory and citron-wood, furnished in the 
most exquisite manner, with pictures and statues, 
and with goblets and vases of every form and shape 
imaginable." 

"Poor Bourne! " I said. "I suppose his is finer 
than Hiero's, which is a thousand years old. Poor 
Bourne ! I don't wonder that his eyes are weary, 
and that he would pay so dearly for a day of leisure. 
Dear me ! is it one of the prices that must be paid for 
wealth, the keeping of a magic yacht? " 

Involuntarily, I had asked the question aloud. 

"The magic yacht is not Bourne's," answered a 
familiar voice. I looked up, and Titbottom stood 
by my side. "Do you not know that all Bourne's 
money would not buy the yacht? " asked he. "He 
cannot even see it. And if he could, it would be no 
magic yacht to him, but only a battered and solitary 
hulk." 

The haze blew gently away, as Titbottom spoke, 
and there lay my Spanish galleon, my Bucentoro, my 
Cleopatra's galley, Columbus's Santa Maria, and the 
Pilgrims' May Flower, an old bleaching wreck upon 
the beach. 

"Do you suppose any true love is in vain? " asked 
Titbottom solemnly, as he stood bareheaded, and the 



Sea from Shore 6i 

soft sunset wind played with his few hairs. "Could 
Cleopatra smile upon Antony, and the moon upon 
Endymion, and the sea not love its lovers? " 

The fresh air breathed upon our faces as he spoke. 
I might have sailed in Hiero's ship, or in Roman 
galleys, had I lived long centuries ago, and been 
born a nobleman. But would it be so sweet a re- 
membrance, that of lying on a marble couch, under 
a golden-faced roof, and within doors of citron-wood 
and ivory, and sailing in that state to greet queens 
who are mummies now, as that of seeing those fair 
figures, standing under the great gonfalon, them- 
selves as lovely as Egyptian belles, and going to see 
more than Egypt dreamed? 

The yacht was mine, then, and not Bourne's. I 
took Titbottom's arm, and we sauntered toward the 
ferry. What sumptuous sultan was I, with this sad 
vizier? My languid odalisque, the sea, lay at my 
feet as we advanced, and sparkled all over with a 
sunset smile. Had I trusted myself to her arms, to 
be borne to the realms that I shall never see, or 
sailed long voyages towards Cathay, I am not sure 
I should have brought a more precious present to 
Prue, than the story of that afternoon. 

"Ought I to have gone alone? " I asked her, as I 
ended. 

"I ought not to have gone with you," she replied, 
"for I had work to do. But how strange that you 
should see such things at Staten Island. I never 
did, Mr. Titbottom," said she, turning to my deputy, 
whom I had asked to tea. 

"Madam," answered Titbottom, with a kind of 
wan and quaint dignity, so that I could not help 
thinking he must have arrived in that stray ship from 
the Spanish armada, "neither did Mr. Bourne." 



62 Prue and I 



TITBOTTOM'S SPECTACLES 

" In my mind's eye, Horatio." 

Hamlet. 

Prue and I do not entertain much ; our means 
forbid it. In truth, other people entertain for us. 
We enjoy that hospitahty of which no account is 
made. We see the show, and hear the music, and 
smell the flowers, of great festivities, tasting-, as it 
were, the drippings from rich dishes. 

Our own dinner service is remarkably plain, our 
dinners, even on state occasions, are strictly in keep- 
ing, and almost our only guest is Titbottom. I buy 
a handful of roses as I come up from the office, per- 
haps, and Prue arranges them so prettily in a glass 
dish for the centre of the table, that, even when I 
have hurried out to see Aurelia step into her carriage 
to go out to dine, I have thought that the bouquet 
she carried was not more beautiful because it was 
more costly. 

I grant that it was more harmonious with her 
superb beauty and her rich attire. And I have no 
doubt that if Aurelia knew the old man, whom she 
must have seen so often watching her, and his wife, 
who ornaments her sex with as much sweetness, 
although with less splendour, than Aurelia herself, 
she would also acknowledge that the nosegay of 
roses was as fine and fit upon their table, as her own 
sumptuous bouquet is for herself. I have so much 
faith in the perception of that lovely lady. 

It is my habit, I hope I may say, my nature, 
to believe the best of people, rather than the worst. 
If I thought that all this sparkling setting of beauty, 
this fine fashion, these blazing jewels, and lus- 
trous silks, and airy gauzes, embellished with gold- 
threaded embroidery and wrought in a thousand ex- 
quisite elaborations, so that I cannot see one of those 



Titbottom's Spectacles 63 

lovely girls pass me by, without thanking God for 
the vision, if I thought that this was all, and that, 
underneath her lace flounces and diamond bracelets, 
Aurelia was a sullen, selfish woman, then 1 should 
turn sadly homeward, for I should see that her jewels 
were flashing scorn upon the object they adorned, 
that her laces were of a more exquisite loveliness 
than the woman whom they merely touched with a 
superficial grace. It would be like a gaily decorated 
mausoleum, bright to see, but silent and dark 
within. 

"Great excellences, my dear Prue," I sometimes 
allow myself to say, "lie concealed in the depths of 
character, Hke pearls at the bottom of the sea. Under 
the laughing, glancing surface, how little they are 
suspected ! Perhaps love is nothing else than the 
sight of them by one person. Hence every man's 
mistress is apt to be an enigma to everybody 
else. 

"I have no doubt that when Aurelia is engaged, 
people will say she is a most admirable girl, cer- 
tainly ; but they cannot understand why any man 
should be in love with her. As if it were at all 
necessary that they should ! And her lover, like a 
boy who finds a pearl in the public street, and wonders 
as much that others did not see it as that he did, will 
tremble until he knows his passion is returned ; feel- 
ing, of course, that the whole world must be in love 
with this paragon, who cannot possibly smile upon 
anything so unworthy as he. 

"I hope, therefore, my dear Mrs. Prue," I con- 
tinue, and my wife looks up, with pleased pride, from 
her work, as if I were such an irresistible humorist, 
"you will allow me to believe that the depth may be 
calm, although the surface is dancing. If you tell 
me that Aurelia is but a giddy girl, I shall believe 
that you think so. But I shall know, all the while, 
what profound dignity, and sweetness, and peace lie 
at the foundation of her character." 

I say such things to Titbottom, during the dull 



64 



Prue and I 



season at the office. And I have known him some- 
times to reply, with a kind of dry, sad humour, not 
as if he enjoyed the joke, but as if the joke must be 
made, that he saw no reason why I should be dull 
because the season was so. 

"And what do I know of Aurelia, or any other 
g^irl?" he says to me with that abstracted air; "I, 
whose Aurelias were of another century, and another 



zone." 



Then he falls into a silence which it seems quite 
profane to interrupt. But as we sit upon our hig^h 
stools, at the desk, opposite each other, 1 leaning 
upon my elbows, and looking at him, he, with side- 
long face, glancing out of the window, as if it com- 
manded a boundless landscape, instead of a dim, 
dingy office court, I cannot refrain from saying : 

" Well ! " 

He turns slowly, and I go chatting on, a little 
too loquacious perhaps, about those young girls. But 
I know that Titbottom regards such an excess as 
venial, for his sadness is so sweet that you could 
believe it the reflection of a smile from long, long 
years ago. 

One day, after I had been talking for a long time, 
and we had put up our books, and were preparing 
to leave, he stood for some time by the window, 
gazing with a drooping intentness, as if he really saw 
something more than the dark court, and said slowly : 

" Perhaps you would have different impressions of 
things, if you saw them through my spectacles." 

There was no change in his expression. He still 
looked from the window, and I said : 

"Titbottom, I did not know that you used glasses. 
I have never seen you wearing spectacles." 

"No, I don't often wear them, I am not very 
fond of looking through them. But sometimes an 
irresistible necessity compels me to put them on, and 
I cannot help seeing." 

Titbottom sighed. 

" Is it so grievous a fate to see? " inquired I. 



Titbottom's Spectacles 65 

"Yes; throug-h my spectacles," he said, turning 
slowly, and looking at me with wan solemnity. 

It grew dark as we stood in the office talking, and, 
taking our hats, we went out together. The narrow 
street of business was deserted. The heavy iron 
shutters were gloomily closed over the windows. 
PVom one or two offices strugg^led the dim gleam of 
an early candle, by whose light some perplexed 
accountant sat belated, and hunting for his error. 
A careless clerk passed, whistling. But the great 
tide of life had ebbed. We heard its roar far away, 
and the sound stole into that silent street like the 
murmur of the ocean into an inland dell. 

" You will come and dine with us, Titbottom ? " 

He assented by continuing to walk with me, and 
I think we were both glad when we reached the house, 
and Prue came to meet us, saying : 

" Do you know I hoped you would bring Mr. 
Titbottom to dine?" 

Titbottom smiled gently, and answered : 

" He might have brought his spectacles with him, 
and have been a happier man for it." 

Prue looked a little puzzled. 

"My dear," I said, "you must know that our 
friend, Mr. Titbottom, is the happy possessor of a 
pair of wonderful spectacles. I have never seen 
them, indeed ; and, from what he says, I should be 
rather afraid of being seen by them. Most short- 
sighted persons are very glad to have the help of 
glasses ; but Mr. Titbottom seems to find very little 
pleasure in his." 

" It is because they make him too far-sighted, 
perhaps," interrupted Prue quietly, as she took the 
silver soup-ladle from the sideboard. 

We sipped our wine after dinner, and Prue 
took her work. Can a man be too far-sighted? 
I did not ask the question aloud. The very tone 
in which Prue had spoken, convinced me that he 
might. 

"At least," I said, "Mr. Titbottom will not refuse 

F 



66 Prue and I 

to tell us the history of his mysterious spectacles. I 
have known plenty of magic in eyes " (and I glanced 
at the tender blue eyes of Prue), "but I have not 
heard of any enchanted glasses." 

" Yet you must have seen the glass in which your 
wife looks every morning, and, I take it, that glass 
must be daily enchanted," said Titbottom, with a bow 
of quaint respect to my wife. 

I do not think I have seen such a blush upon 
Prue's cheek since well, since a great many years 
ago. 

" I will gladly tell you the history of my spectacles," 
began Titbottom. " It is very simple ; and I am not 
at all sure that a great many other people have not a 
pair of the same kind. I have never, indeed, heard of 
them by the gross, like those of our young friend, 
Moses, the son of the Vicar of Wakefield. In fact, 
I think a gross would be quite enough to supply the 
world. It is a kind of article for which the demand 
does not increase with use. If we should all wear 
spectacles Hke mine, we should never smile any more. 
Or I am not quite sure we should all be very 
happy." 

"A very important difference," said Prue, counting 
her stitches. 

" You know my grandfather Titbottom was a West 
Indian. A large proprietor, and an easy man, he 
basked in the tropical sun, leading his quiet, luxurious 
life. He lived much alone, and was what people call 
eccentric by which I understand, that he was very 
much himself, and, refusing the influence of other 
people, they had their revenges, and called him 
names. It is a habit not exclusively tropical. I think 
I have seen the same thing even in this city. 

" But he was greatly beloved my bland and 
bountiful grandfather. He was so large-hearted and 
open-handed. He was so friendly, and thoughtful, 
and genial, that even his jokes had the air of graceful 
benedictions. He did not seem to grow old, and he 
was one of those who never appear to have been very 



Titbottom's Spectacles 67 

young-. He flourished in a perennial maturity, an 
immortal middle-ag-e, 

" My grandfather lived upon one of the small 
islands St. Kitt's, perhaps and his domain ex- 
tended to the sea. His house, a rambling West 
Indian mansion, was surrounded with deep, spacious 
piazzas, covered with luxurious lounges, among 
which one capacious chair was his peculiar seat. 
They tell me, he used sometimes to sit there for the 
whole day, his great, soft, brown eyes fastened upon 
the sea, watching the specks of sails that flashed upon 
the horizon, while the evanescent expressions chased 
each other over his placid face, as if it reflected the 
calm and changing sea before him. 

" His morning costume was an ample dressing- 
gown of gorgeously-flowered silk, and his morning 
was very apt to last all day. He rarely read ; but 
he would pace the great piazza for hours, with his 
hands buried in the pockets of his dressing-gown, 
and an air of sweet reverie, which any book must 
be a very entertaining one to produce. 

" Society, of course, he saw little. There was some 
slight apprehension that, if he were bidden to social 
entertainments, he might forget his coat, or arrive 
without some other essential part of his dress ; and 
there is a sly tradition in the Titbottom family, that 
once, having been invited to a ball in honour of a new 
governor of the island, my grandfather Titbottom 
sauntered into the hall towards midnight, wrapped 
in the gorgeous flowers of his dressing-gown, and 
with his hands buried in the pockets, as usual. There 
was great excitement among the guests, and immense 
deprecation of gubernatorial ire. Fortunately, it hap- 
pened that the governor and my grandfather were old 
friends, and there was no offence. But, as they were 
conversing together, one of the distressed managers 
cast indignant g-lances at the brilliant costume of my 
grandfather, who summoned him, and asked court- 
eously : 

" ' Did you invite me, or my coat? ' 
V 2 



68 Prue and I 

" ' You, in a proper coat,' replied the manager. 

"The g-overnor smiled approvingly, and looked at 
my grandfather. 

" ' My friend,' said he to the manager, ' I beg your 
pardon, I forgot.' 

"The next day, my grandfather was seen prome- 
nading in full ball dress along the streets of the 
little town. 

"' They ought to know,' said he, ' that I have a 
proper coat, and that not contempt, nor poverty, 
but forgetfulness, sent me to a ball in my dressing- 
gown. ' 

" He did not much frequent social festivals after 
this failure, but he always told the story with satis- 
faction and a quiet smile. 

"To a stranger, life upon those little islands is 
uniform even to weariness. But the old native dons, 
like my grandfather, ripen in the prolonged sunshine, 
like the turtle upon the Bahama banks, nor know of 
existence more desirable. Life in the tropics I take 
to be a placid torpidity. 

" During the long, warm mornings of nearly half 
a century, my grandfather Titbottom had sat in his 
dressing-gown, and gazed at the sea. But one calm 
June day, as he slowly paced the piazza after break- 
fast, his dreamy glance was arrested by a little vessel, 
evidently nearing the shore. He called for his spy- 
glass, and, surveying the craft, saw that she came 
from the neighbouring island. She glided smoothly, 
slowly, over the summer sea. The warm morning air 
was sweet with perfumes, and silent with heat. The 
sea sparkled languidly, and the brilliant blue sky 
hung cloudlessly over. Scores of little island vessels 
had my grandfather seen coming over the horizon, 
and cast anchor in the port. Hundreds of summer 
mornings had the white sails flashed and faded, like 
vague faces through forgotten dreams. But this 
time he laid down the spyglass, and leaned against a 
column of the piazza, and watched the vessel with an 
intentness that he could not explain. She came 



Titbottom's Spectacles 69 

nearer and nearer, a graceful spectre in the dazzling- 
morning. 

Decidedly, I must step down and see about that 
vessel,' said my grandfather Titbottom. 

"He gathered his ample dressing-gown about him, 
and stepped from the piazza, with no other protection 
from the sun than the little smoking-cap upon his 
head. His face wore a calm, beaming smile, as if he 
loved the whole world. He was not an old man ; but 
there was almost a patriarchal pathos in his expres- 
sion, as he sauntered along in the sunshine towards 
the shore. A group of idle gazers was collected, to 
watch the arrival. The little vessel furled her sails, 
and drifted slowly landward, and, as she was of very 
light draft, she came close to the shelving shore. A 
long plank was put out from her side, and the de- 
barkation commenced. 

"My grandfather Titbottom stood looking on, to 
see the passengers as they passed. There w^ere but 
a few of them, and mostly traders from the neigh- 
bouring island. But suddenly the face of a young 
girl appeared over the side of the vessel, and she 
stepped upon the plank to descend. My grandfather 
Titbottom instantly advanced, and, moving briskly, 
reached the top of the plank at the same moment, 
and with the old tassel of his cap flashing in the sun, 
and one hand in the pocket of his dressing-gown, 
with the other he handed the young lady carefully 
down the plank. That young lady was afterwards my 
grandmother Titbottom. 

" For, over the gleaming sea which he had watched 
so long, and which seemed thus to reward his patient 
gaze, came his bride that sunny morning. 

" ' Of course, we are happy,' he used to say to her, 
after they were married : ' For you are the gift of 
the sun I have loved so long and so well. ' And my 
grandfather Titbottom would lay his hand so tenderly 
upon the golden hair of his young bride, that you 
could fancy him a devout Parsee, caressing sunbeams. 

"There were endless festivities upon occasion of 



70 Prue and I 

the marriage; and my grandfather did not go to one 
of them in his dressing-gown. The gentle sweetness 
of his wife melted every heart into love and sym- 
pathy. He was much older than she, without doubt. 
But age, as he used to say with a smile of immortal 
youth, is a matter of feeling, not of years. 

"And if, sometimes, as she sat by his side on the 
piazza, her fancy looked through her eyes upon that 
summer sea, and saw a younger lover, perhaps some 
one of those graceful and glowing heroes who occupy 
the foreground of all young maidens' visions by the 
sea, yet she could not find one more generous and 
gracious, nor fancy one more worthy and loving than 
my grandfather Titbottom. 

"And if, in the moonlit midnight, while he lay 
calmly sleeping, she leaned out of the window, and 
sank into vague reveries of sweet possibility, and 
watched the gleaming path of the moonlight upon the 
water, until the dawn glided over it it was only that 
mood of nameless regret and longing, which underlies 
all human happiness ; or it was the vision of that life 
of cities and the world, which she had never seen, but 
of which she had often read, and which looked very 
fair and alluring across the sea, to a girlish imagina- 
tion, which knew that it should never see that reality. 

"These West Indian years were the great days of 
the family," said Titbottom, with an air of majestic 
and regal regret, pausing, and musing, in our little 
parlour, like a late Stuart in exile, remembering 
England. 

Prue raised her eyes from her work, and looked 
at him with subdued admiration ; for I have observed 
that, like the rest of her sex, she has a singular sym- 
pathy with the representative of a reduced family. 

Perhaps it is their finer perception, which leads 
these tender-hearted women to recognize the divine 
right of social superiority so much more readily than 
we ; and yet, much as Titbottom was enhanced in my 
wife's admiration by the discovery that his dusky 
sadness of nature and expression was, as it were, the 



Titbottom's Spectacles 71 

expiring- gleam and late twilight of ancestral splen- 
dours, I doubt if Mr. Bourne would have preferred 
him for book-keeper a moment sooner upon that 
account. In truth, I have observed, down town, 
that the fact of your ancestors doing- nothing, is not 
considered good proof that you can do anything. 

But Prue and her sex regard sentiment more than 
action, and I understand easily enough why she is 
never tired of hearing me read of Prince Charlie. 
If Titbottom had been only a little younger, a little 
handsomer, a little more gallantly dressed in fact, 
a little more of a Prince Charlie, I am sure her eyes 
would not have fallen again upon her work so tran- 
quilly, as he resumed his story. 

"I can remember my grandfather Titbottom, 
although I was a very young child, and he was a very 
old man. My young mother and my young grand- 
mother are very distinct figures in my memory, minis- 
tering to the old gentleman, wrapped in his dressing- 
gown, and seated upon the piazza. I remember his 
white hair, and his calm smile, and how, not long 
before he died, he called me to him, and laying his 
hand upon my head, said to me : 

'"My child, the world is not this great sunny 
piazza, nor life the fairy stories which the women 
tell you here, as you sit in their laps. I shall soon 
be gone, but I want to leave with you some memento 
of my love for you, and I know of nothing more 
valuable than these spectacles, which your grand- 
mother brought from her native island, when she 
arrived here one fine summer morning, long ago. I 
cannot tell whether, when you grow older, you will 
regard them as a gift of the greatest value, or as 
something that you had been happier never to have 
possessed. ' 

"' But, grandpapa, I am not short-sighted.' 

"'My son, are you not human?' said the old 
gentleman ; and how shall I ever forget the thought- 
ful sadness with which, at the same time, he handed 
me the spectacles? 



72 Prue and I 

" Instinctively I put them on, and looked at my 
grandfather. But I saw no grandfather, no piazza, 
no flowered dressing-gown ; I saw only a luxuriant 
palm-tree, waving broadly over a tranquil landscape ; 
pleasant homes clustered around it ; gardens teem- 
ing with fruit and flowers ; flocks quietly feeding ; 
birds wheeling and chirping. I heard children's 
voices, and the low lullaby of happy mothers. The 
sound of cheerful singing came wafted from distant 
fields upon the light breeze. Golden harvests glis- 
tened out of sight, and I caught their rustling 
whispers of prosperity. A warm, mellow atmosphere 
bathed the whole. 

" I have seen copies of the landscapes of the Italian 
painter Claude, which seemed to me faint reminis- 
cences of that calm and happy vision. But all this 
peace and prosperity seemed to flow from the spread- 
ing palm as from a fountain. 

" I do not know how long I looked, but I had, 
apparently, no power, as I had no will, to remove the 
spectacles. What a wonderful island must Nevis be, 
thought I, if people carry such pictures in their 
pockets, only by buying a pair of spectacles ! What 
wonder that my dear grandmother Titbottom has 
lived such a placid life, and has blessed us all with 
her sunny temper, when she has lived surrounded by 
such images of peace ! 

" My grandfather died. But still, in the warm 
morning sunshine upon the piazza, I felt his placid 
presence, and as I crawled into his great chair, and 
drifted on in reverie through the still, tropical day, it 
was as if his soft, dreamy eye had passed into my 
soul. My grandmother cherished his memory with 
tender regret. A violent passion of grief for his loss 
was no more possible than for the pensive decay of 
the year. 

"We have no portrait of him, but I see always, 
when I remember him, that peaceful and luxuriant 
palm. And I think that to have known one good 
old man one man who, through the chances and 



Titbottom's Spectacles 73 

rubs of a long- life, has carried his heart in his hand, 
like a palm branch, waving- all discords into peace, 
helps our faith in God, in ourselves, and in each 
other, more than many sermons. I hardly know 
whether to be g-rateful to my grandfather for the 
spectacles ; and yet when I remember that it is to 
them I owe the pleasant imag-e of him which I cherish, 
I seem to myself sadly ung-rateful. 

"Madam," said Titbottom to Prue, solemnly, "my 
memory is a long- and g-loomy g^allery, and only re- 
motely, at its further end, do I see the glimmer of soft 
sunshine, and only there are the pleasant pictures 
hung-. They seem to me very happy along- whose 
gallery the sunlight streams to their very feet, 
striking all the pictured walls into unfading splen- 
dour." 

Prue had laid her work in her lap, and as Titbottom 
paused a moment, and I turned towards her, I found 
her mild eyes fastened upon my face, and glistening 
with many tears. I knew that the tears meant that 
she felt herself to be one of those who seemed to 
Titbottom very happy. 

"Misfortunes of many kinds came heavily upon the 
family after the head was gone. The great house was 
relinquished. My parents were both dead, and my 
grandmother had entire charge of me. But from the 
moment that I received the gift of the spectacles, I 
could not resist their fascination, and I withdrew into 
myself, and became a solitary boy. There were not 
many companions for me of my own age, and they 
gradually left me, or, at least, had not a hearty 
sympathy with me; for, if they teased me, I pulled 
out my spectacles and surveyed them so seriously that 
they acquired a kind of awe of me, and evidently re- 
garded my grandfather's gift as a concealed magical 
weapon which might be dangerously drawn upon 
them at any moment. Whenever, in our games, there 
were quarrels and high words, and I began to feel 
about my dress and to wear a grave look, they all 
took the alarm, and shouted, ' Look out for Titbot- 



74 Prue and I 

tom's spectacles,' and scattered like a flock of scared 
sheep. 

"Nor could I wonder at it. For, at first, before 
they took the alarm, I saw strange sights when I 
looked at them through the glasses. 

" If two were quarrelling about a marble or a ball, 
I had only to go behind a tree where I was concealed 
and look at them leisurely. Then the scene changed, 
and it was no longer a green meadow with boys play- 
ing, but a spot which I did not recognize, and forms 
that made me shudder, or smile. It was not a big boy 
bullying a little one, but a young wolf with glistening 
teeth and a lamb cowering before him ; or, it was a 
dog faithful and famishing or a star going slowly 
into eclipse or a rainbow fading or a flower bloom- 
ing or a sun rising or a waning moon. 

"The revelations of the spectacles determined my 
feeling for the boys, and for all whom I saw through 
them. No shyness, nor awkwardness, nor silence, 
could separate me from those who looked lovely as 
lilies to my illuminated eyes. But the vision made me 
afraid. If I felt myself warmly drawn to any one, I 
struggled with the fierce desire of seeing him through 
the spectacles, for I feared to find him something else 
than I fancied. I longed to enjoy the luxury of ignor- 
ant feeling, to love without knowing, to float like a 
leaf upon the eddies of life, drifted now to a sunny 
point, now to a solemn shade now over glittering 
ripples, now over gleaming calms, and not to deter- 
mined ports, a trim vessel with an inexorable rudder. 

" But sometimes, mastered after long struggles, as 
if the unavoidable condition of owning the spectacles 
were using them, I seized them and sauntered into the 
little town. Putting them to my eyes I peered into the 
houses and at the people who passed me. Here sat a 
family at breakfast, and I stood at the window look- 
ing in. O motley meal ! fantastic vision ! The good 
mother saw her lord sitting opposite, a grave, respect- 
able being, eating muffins. But I saw only a bank- 
bill, moKC or less crumbled and tattered, marked with 



Titbottom's Spectacles 75 

a larger or lesser fig^ure. If a sharp wind blew sud- 
denly, I saw it tremble and flutter; it was thin, flat, 
impalpable. I removed my g^lasses, and looked with 
my eyes at the wife. I could have smiled to see the 
humid tenderness with which she reg'arded her 
strange vis-a-vis. Is life only a game of blindman's- 
buff ? of droll cross-purposes? 

"Or I put them on again, and then looked at the 
wives. How many stout trees I saw, how many 
tender flowers, how many placid pools ; yes, and 
how many little streams winding out of sight shrink- 
ing before the large, hard, round eyes opposite, and 
slipping off into solitude and shade, with a low, inner 
song for their own solace. 

" In many houses I thought to see angels, nymphs, 
or, at least, women, and could only find broomsticks, 
mops, or kettles, hurrying about, rattling and tink- 
ling, in a state of shrill activity. I made calls upon 
elegant ladies, and after I had enjoyed the gloss of 
silk, and the delicacy of lace, and the glitter of jewels, 
I slipped on my spectacles, and saw a peacock's 
feather, flounced, and furbelowed, and fluttering; or 
an iron rod, thin, sharp, and hard ; nor could I pos- 
sibly mistake the movement of the drapery for any 
flexibility of the thing draped. 

"Or, mysteriously chilled, I saw a statue of per- 
fect form, or flowing movement, it might be alabas- 
ter, or bronze, or marble, but sadly often it was 
ice; and I knew that after it had shone a little, and 
frozen a few eyes with its despairing perfection, it 
could not be put away in the niches of palaces for 
ornament and proud family tradition, like the ala- 
baster, or bronze, or marble statues, but would melt, 
and shrink, and fall coldly away in colourless and 
useless water, be absorbed in the earth and utterly 
forgotten. 

" But the true sadness was rather in seeing those 
who, not having the spectacles, thought that the 
iron rod was flexible, and the ice statue warm. I 
saw many a gallant heart, which seemed to me brave 



76 Prue and I 

and loyal as the crusaders, pursuing, through days 
and nights, and a long life of devotion, the hope of 
lighting at least a smile in the cold eyes, if not a fire 
in the icy heart. I watched the earnest, enthusiastic 
sacrifice. I saw the pure resolve, the generous faith, 
the fine scorn of doubt, the impatience of suspicion. 
I watched the grace, the ardour, the glory of devo- 
tion. Through those strange spectacles how often I 
saw the noblest heart renouncing all other hope, all 
other ambition, all other life, than the possible love of 
some one of those statues. 

"Ah me! it was terrible, but they had not the 
love to give. The face was so polished and smooth, 
because there was no sorrow in the heart, and 
drearily, often, no heart to be touched. I could 
not wonder that the noble heart of devotion was 
broken, for it had dashed itself against a stone. I 
wept, until my spectacles were dimmed, for those 
hopeless lovers ; but there was a pang beyond tears 
for those icy statues. 

"Still a boy, I was thus too much a man in know- 
ledge, I did not comprehend the sights I was com- 
pelled to see. I used to tear my glasses away from 
my eyes, and, frightened at myself, run to escape my 
own consciousness. Reaching the small house where 
we then lived, I plunged into my grandmother's room, 
and, throwing myself upon the floor, buried my face 
in her lap ; and sobbed myself to sleep with premature 
grief. 

"But when I awakened, and felt her cool hand 
upon my hot forehead, and heard the low sweet song, 
or the gentle story, or the tenderly told parable from 
the Bible, with which she tried to soothe me, I could 
not resist the mystic fascination that lured me, as I 
lay in her lap, to steal a glance at her through the 
spectacles. 

" Pictures of the Madonna have not her rare and 
pensive beauty. Upon the tranquil little islands her 
life had been eventless, and all the fine possibilities 
of her nature were like flowers that never bloomed. 



Titbottom's Spectacles 77 

Placid were all her years ; yet I have read of no hero- 
ine, of no woman great in sudden crises, that it did 
not seem to me she might have been. The wife and 
widow of a man who loved his home better than the 
homes of others, I have yet heard of no queen, no 
belle, no imperial beauty, whom in grace, and bril- 
liancy, and persuasive courtesy, she might not have 
surpassed. 

"Madam," said Titbottom to my wife, whose heart 
hung upon his story; "your husband's young friend, 
Aurelia, wears sometimes a camelia in her hair, and 
no diamond in the ball-room seems so costly as that 
perfect flower, which women envy, and for whose 
least and withered petal men sigh ; yet, in the tropical 
solitudes of Brazil, how many a camelia bud drops 
from the bush that no eye has ever seen, which, had 
it flowered and been noticed, would have gilded all 
hearts with its memory. 

"When I stole these furtive glances at my grand- 
mother, half fearing that they were wrong, I saw 
only a calm lake, whose shores were low, and over 
which the sun hung unbroken, so that the least star 
was clearly reflected. It had an atmosphere of 
solemn twilight tranquillity, and so completely did 
its unruffled surface blend with the cloudless, star- 
studded sky, that, when I looked through my spec- 
tacles at my grandmother, the vision seemed to me 
all heaven and stars. 

"Yet, as I gazed and gazed, I felt what stately 
cities might well have been built upon those shores, 
and have flashed prosperity over the calm, like 
coruscations of pearls. I dreamed of gorgeous fleets, 
silken-sailed, and blown by perfumed winds, drift- 
ing over those depthless waters and through those 
spacious skies. I gazed upon the twilight, the in- 
scrutable silence, like a God-fearing discoverer upon 
a new and vast sea bursting upon him through forest 
glooms, and in the fervour of whose impassioned 
gaze, a millennial and poetic world arises, and man 
need no longer die to be happy. 



78 Prue and I 

" My companions naturally deserted me, for I had 
grown wearily grave and abstracted : and, unable to 
resist the allurements of my spectacles, I was con- 
stantly lost in the world, of which those companions 
were part, yet of which they knew nothing. 

"I grew cold and hard, almost morose; people 
seemed to me so blind and unreasonable. They did 
the wrong thing. They called green, yellow ; and 
black, white. Young men said of a girl, ' What a 
lovely, simple creature ! ' I looked, and there was 
only a glistening wisp of straw, dry and hollow. Or 
they said, * What a cold, proud beauty ! ' I looked, 
and lo ! a Madonna, whose heart held the world. 
Or they said, ' What a wild, giddy girl ! ' and I saw 
a glancing, dancing mountain stream, pure as the 
virgin snows whence it flowed, singing through sun 
and shade, over pearls and gold dust, slipping along 
unstained by weed or rain, or heavy foot of cattle, 
touching the flowers Vvith a dewy kiss, a beam of 
grace, a happy song, a line of light, in the dim and 
troubled landscape. 

" My grandmother sent me to school, but I looked 
at the master, and saw that he was a smooth, round 
ferule, or an improper noun, or a vulgar fraction, and 
refused to obey him. Or he was a piece of string, a 
rag, a willow-wand, and I had a contemptuous pity. 
But one was a well of cool, deep water, and looking 
suddenly in, one day, I saw the stars. 

"That one gave me all my schooling. With him 
I used to walk by the sea, and, as we strolled and 
the waves plunged in long legions before us, I looked 
at him through the spectacles, and as his eyes dilated 
with the boundless view, and his chest heaved with 
an impossible desire, I saw Xerxes and his army, 
tossed and glittering, rank upon rank, multitude upon 
multitude, out of sight, but ever regularly advancing, 
and with confused roar of ceaseless music, prostrat- 
ing themselves in abject homage. Or, as with arms 
outstretched and hair streaming on the wind, he 
chanted full lines of the resounding Iliad, I saw 



Titbottom's Spectacles 79 

Homer pacing- the Egean sands of the Greek sunsets 
of forgotten times. 

"My grandmother died, and I was thrown into 
the world without resources, and with no capital 
but my spectacles. I tried to find employment, but 
everybody was shy of me. There was a vague 
suspicion that I was either a little crazed, or a good 
deal in league with the prince of darkness. My 
companions, who would persist in calling a piece 
of painted muslin, a fair and fragrant flower, had 
no difficulty ; success waited for them around every 
corner, and arrived in every ship. 

" I tried to teach, for I loved children. But if any- 
thing excited a suspicion of my pupils, and putting 
on my spectacles, I saw that I was fondling a snake, 
or smelling at a bud with a worm in it, I sprang up 
in horror and ran away ; or, if it seemed to me 
through the glasses, that a cherub smiled upon me, 
or a rose was blooming in my buttonhole, then I felt 
myself imperfect and impure, not fit to be leading 
and training what was so essentially superior to 
myself, and I kissed the children and left them 
weeping and wondering. 

"In despair I went to a great merchant on the 
island, and asked him to employ me. 

'" My dear young friend,' said he, ' I understand 
that you have some singular secret, some charm, or 
spell, or amulet, or something, I don't know what, 
of which people are afraid. Now you know, my 
dear,' said the merchant, swelling up, and appar- 
ently prouder of his great stomach than of his large 
fortune, ' I am not of that kind. I am not easily 
frightened. You may spare yourself the pain of 
trying to impose upon me. People who propose to 
come to time before I arrive, are accustomed to arise 
very early in the morning,' said he, thrusting his 
thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat, and spread- 
ing the fingers like two fans, upon his bosom. ' I 
think I have heard something of your secret. You 
have a pair of spectacles, I believe, that you value 



8o Prue and I 

very much, because your grandmother brought them 
as a marriage portion to your grandfather. Now, if 
you think fit to sell me those spectacles, I will pay 
you the largest market price for them. What do 
you say? ' 

" I told him I had not the slightest idea of selling 
my spectacles. 

" ' My young friend means to eat them, I suppose,' 
said he, with a contemptuous smile. 

" I made no reply, but was turning to leave the 
office, when the merchant called after me : 

" * My young friend, poor people should never 
suffer themselves to get into pets. Anger is an ex- 
pensive luxury, in which only men of a certain income 
can indulge. A pair of spectacles and a hot temper 
are not the most promising capital for success in life, 
Master Titbottom. ' 

" I said nothing, but put my hand upon the door 
to go out, when the merchant said, more respect- 
fully : 

" ' Well, you foolish boy, if you will not sell your 
spectacles, perhaps you will agree to sell the use of 
them to me. That is, you shall only put them on 
when I direct you, and for my purposes. Hallo ! you 
little fool ! ' cried he, impatiently, as he saw that I 
intended to make no reply. 

" But I had pulled out my spectacles and put them 
on for my own purposes, and against his wish and 
desire. I looked at him, and saw a huge, bald-headed 
wild boar, with gross chaps and a leering eye only 
the more ridiculous for the high-arched, gold-bowed 
spectacles, that straddled his nose. One of his fore- 
hoofs was thrust into the safe, where his bills receiv- 
able were hived, and the other into his pocket, among 
the loose change and bills there. His ears were 
pricked forward with a brisk, sensitive smartness. 
In a world where prize pork was the best excellence, 
he would have carried off all the premiums. 

" I stepped into the next office in the street, and 
a mild-faced, genial man, also a large and opulent 



Titbottom's Spectacles 8i 

merchant, asked me my business in such a tone, 
that I instantly looked through my spectacles, and 
saw a land flowing with milk and honey. There 1 
pitched my tent, and stayed till the good man died, 
and his business was discontinued. 

"But while there," said Titbottom, an-d his voice 
trembled away into a sigh, " I first saw Preciosa. 
Despite the spectacles, I saw Preciosa. For days, 
for weeks, for months, I did not take my spectacles 
with me. I ran away from them, I threw them up 
on high shelves, I tried to make up my mind to throw 
them into the sea, or down the well. I could not, I 
would not, I dared not, look at Preciosa through the 
spectacles. It was not possible for me deliberately 
to destroy them; but I awoke in the night, and could 
almost have cursed my dear old grandfather for his 
gift. 

" I sometimes escaped from the office, and sat for 
whole days with Preciosa. I told her the strange 
things I had seen with my mystic glasses. The hours 
were not enough for the wild romances which I raved 
in her ear. She listened, astonished and appalled. 
Her blue eyes turned upon me with sweet depreca- 
tion. She clung to me, and then withdrew, and fled 
fearfully from the room. 

" But she could not stay away. She could not 
resist my voice, in whose tones burnt all the love 
that filled my heart and brain. The very effort to 
resist the desire of seeing her as I saw everybody 
else, gave a frenzy and an unnatural tension to my 
feeling and my manner. I sat by her side, looking 
into her eyes, smoothing her hair, folding her to my 
heart, which was sunken deep and deep why not 
for ever? in that dream of peace. I ran from her 
presence, and shouted, and leaped with joy, and sat 
the whole night through, thrilled into happiness by 
the thought of her love and loveliness, like a wind- 
harp, tightly strung, and answering the airiest sigh of 
the breeze with music. 

"Then came calmer days the conviction of deep 

G 



82 Prue and I 

love settled upon our lives as after the hurrying, 
heaving- days of spring, comes the bland and be- 
nignant summer. 

"' It is no dream, then, after all, and we are 
happy, ' I said to her, one day ; and there came no 
answer, for happiness is speechless, 

"' We are happy, then,' I said to myself, ' there 
is no excitement now. How glad I am that I can 
now look at her through my spectacles. ' 

*' I feared lest some instinct should warn me to 
beware. I escaped from her arms, and ran home 
and seized the glasses, and bounded back again to 
Preciosa. As I entered the room I was heated, my 
head was swimming with confused apprehensions, my 
eyes must have glared. Preciosa was frightened, 
and rising from her seat, stood with an inquiring 
glance of surprise in her eyes. 

*' But I was bent with frenzy upon my purpose. 
I was merely aware that she was in the room. I 
saw nothing else. I heard nothing. I cared for 
nothing, but to see her through that magic glass, 
and feel at once all the fulness of blissful perfection 
which that would reveal. Preciosa stood before the 
mirror, but alarmed at my wild and eager movements, 
unable to distinguish what I had in my hands, and 
seeing me raise them suddenly to my face, she 
shrieked with terror, and fell fainting upon the floor, 
at the very moment that I placed the glasses before 
my eyes, and beheld myself, reflected in the mirror, 
before which she had been standing. 

"Dear madam," cried Titbottom, to my wife, 
springing up and falling back again in his chair, 
pale and trembling, while Prue ran to him and took 
his hand, and I poured out a glass of water " I saw 
myself." 

There was silence for many minutes. Prue laid 
her hand gently upon the head of our guest, whose 
eyes were closed, and who breathed softly like an 
infant in sleeping. Perhaps, in all the long years of 
anguish since that hour, no tender hand had touched 



Titbottom's Spectacles 83 

his brow, nor wiped away the damps of a bitter sor- 
row. Perhaps the tender, maternal fing-ers of my 
wife soothed his weary head with the conviction 
that he felt the hand of his mother playing with the 
long hair of her boy in the soft West India morning. 
Perhaps it was only the natural relief of expressing 
a pent-up sorrow. 

When he spoke again, it was with the old subdued 
tone, and the air of quaint solemnity. 

"These things were matters of long, long ago, and 
I came to this country soon after. I brought with 
me, premature age, a past of melancholy memories, 
and the magic spectacles. I had become their slave. 
I had nothing more to fear. Having seen myself, I 
was compelled to see others, properly to understand 
my relations to them. The lights that cheer the future 
of other men had gone out for mc ; my eyes were 
those of an exile turned backwards upon the receding 
shore, and not forwards with hope upon the ocean. 

" I mingled with men, but with little pleasure. 
There are but many varieties of a few types. I did 
not find those I came to clearer-sighted than those 
I had left behind. I heard men called shrewd and 
wise, and report said they were highly intelligent 
and successful. My finest sense detected no aroma 
of purity and principle ; but I saw only a fungus 
that had fattened and spread in a night. They went 
to the theatres to see actors upon the stage. I went 
to see actors in the boxes, so consummately cunning, 
that others did not know they were acting, and they 
did not suspect it themselves. 

"Perhaps you wonder it did not make me misan- 
thropical. My dear friends, do not forget that I 
had seen myself. That made me compassionate, not 
cynical. 

" Of course, I could not value highly the ordinary 
standards of success and excellence. When I went 
to church and saw a thin, blue, artificial flower, or 
a great sleepy cushion expounding the beauty of 
holiness to pews full of eagles, half-eagles, and three- 

G 2 



84 



Prue and I 



pences, however adroitly concealed they might be in 
broadcloth and boots : or saw an onion in an Easter 
bonnet weeping over the sins of Magdalen, I did not 
feel as they felt who saw in all this, not only pro- 
priety but piety. 

"Or when at public meetings an eel stood up on 
end, and wriggled and squirmed lithely in every direc- 
tion, and declared that, for his part, he went in for 
rainbows and hot water how could I help seeing 
that he was still black and loved a slimy pool? 

" I could not grow misanthropical when I saw in 
the eyes of so many who were called old, the gushing 
fountains of eternal youth, and the light of an im- 
mortal dawn, or when I saw those who were esteemed 
unsuccessful and aimless, ruling a fair realm of peace 
and plenty, either in their own hearts, or in another's 
a realm and princely possession for which they 
had well renounced a hopeless search and a belated 
triumph. 

"I knew one man who had been for years a by- 
word for having sought the philosopher's stone. But 
I looked at him through the spectacles and saw a 
satisfaction in concentrated energies, and a tenacity 
arising from devotion to a noble dream which was 
not apparent in the youths who pitied him in the 
aimless effeminacy of clubs, nor in the clever gentle- 
men who cracked their thin jokes upon him over a 
gossiping dinner. 

"And there was your neighbour over the way, 
who passes for a woman who has failed in her career, 
because she Is an old maid. People wag solemn 
heads of pity, and say that she made so great a mis- 
take in not marrying the brilliant and famous man 
who was for long years her suitor. It is clear that 
no orange flower will ever bloom for her. The young 
people make their tender romances about her as they 
watch her, and think of her solitary hours of bitter 
regret and wasting longing, never to be satisfied. 

"When I first came to town I shared this sym- 
pathy, and pleased my imagination with fancying her 



Titbottom's Spectacles 85 

hard strug-g-le with the conviction that she had lost 
all that made life beautiful. I supposed that if I had 
looked at her through my spectacles, I should see 
that it was only her radiant temper which so illu- 
minated her dress, that we did not see it to be heavy 
sables. 

" But when, one day, I did raise my glasses, and 
glanced at her, I did not see the old maid whom we 
all pitied for a secret sorrow, but a woman whose 
nature was a tropic, in which the sun shone, and 
birds sang, and flowers bloomed for ever. There 
were no regrets, no doubts and half wishes, but a 
calm sweetness, a transparent peace. I saw her blush 
when that old lover passed by, or paused to speak to 
her, but it was only the sign of delicate feminine 
consciousness. She knew his love, and honoured it, 
although she could not understand it nor return it. 
I looked closely at her, and I saw that although all 
the world had exclaimed at her indifference to such 
homage, and had declared it was astonishing she 
should lose so fine a match, she would only say 
simply and quietly : 

" ' If Shakespeare loved me and I did not love him, 
how could I marry him? ' 

"Could I be misanthropical when I saw such 
fidelity, and dignity, and simplicity? 

" You may believe that I was especially curious 
to look at that old lover of hers, through my glasses. 
He was no longer young, you know, when I came, 
and his fame and fortune were secure. Certainly I 
have heard of few men more beloved, and of none 
more worthy to be loved. He had the easy manner 
of a man of the world, the sensitive grace of a poet, 
and the charitable judgment of a wide traveller. He 
was accounted the most successful and most unspoiled 
of men. Handsome, brilliant, wise, tender, graceful, 
accomplished, rich, and famous, I looked at him, 
without the spectacles, in surprise and admiration, 
and wondered how your neighbour over the way had 
been so entirely untouched by his homage. I watched 



86 Prue and I 

their intercourse in society, I saw her gay smile, her 
cordial greeting ; I marked his frank address, his 
lofty courtesy. Their manner told no tales. The 
eager world was baulked, and I pulled out my spec- 
tacles. 

" I had seen her already, and now I saw him. He 
lived only in memory, and his memory was a spacious 
and stately palace. But he did not oftenest frequent 
the banqueting hall, where were endless hospitality 
and feasting, nor did he loiter much in the reception 
rooms, where a throng of new visitors was for ever 
swarming, nor did he feed his vanity by haunting 
the apartment in which were stored the trophies of 
his varied triumphs, nor dream much in the great 
gallery hung with pictures of his travels. 

" From all these lofty halls of memory he constantly 
escaped to a remote and solitary chamber, into which 
no one had ever penetrated. But my fatal eyes, be- 
hind the glasses, followed and entered with him, and 
saw that the chamber was a chapel. It was dim, and 
silent, and sweet with perpetual incense that burned 
upon an altar before a picture for ever veiled. There, 
whenever I chanced to look, I saw him kneel and 
pray ; and there, by day and by night, a funeral hymn 
was chanted. 

" I do not believe you will be surprised that I have 
been content to remain a deputy book-keeper. My 
spectacles regulated my ambition, and I early learned 
that there were better gods than Plutus. The glasses 
have lost much of their fascination now, and I do 
not often use them. But sometimes the desire is 
irresistible. Whenever I am greatly interested, I am 
compelled to take them out and see what it is that I 
admire. 

"And yet and yet," said Titbottom, after a pause, 
"I am not sure that I thank my grandfather." 

Prue had long since laid away her work, and had 
heard every word of the story, I saw that the dear 
woman had yet one question to ask, and had been 
earnestly hoping to hear something that would spare 



Titbottom's Spectacles 87 

her the necessity of asking-. But Titbottom had re- 
sumed his usual tone, after the momentary excite- 
ment, and made no further allusion to himself. Wc 
all sat silently; Titbottom's eyes fastened musingly 
upon the carpet, Prue looking wistfully at him, and I 
regarding- both. 

It was past midnight, and our guest arose to go. 
He shook hands quietly, made his grave Spanish bow 
to Prue, and, taking his hat, went towards the front 
door. Prue and I accompanied him. I saw in her 
eyes that she would ask her question. And as Tit- 
bottom opened the door, I heard the low words : 

"And Preciosa? " 

Titbottom paused. He had just opened the door, 
and the moonlight streamed over him as he stood, 
turning back to us. 

" I have seen her but once since. It was in church, 
and she was kneeling, with her eyes closed, so that 
she did not see me. But I rubbed the glasses well, 
and looked at her, and saw a white lily, whose stem 
was broken, but which was fresh, and luminous, and 
fragrant still." 

"That was a miracle," interrupted Prue. 

"Madam, it was a miracle," replied Titbottom, 
"and for that one sight I am devoutly grateful for my 
grandfather's gift. I saw, that although a flower 
may have lost its hold upon earthly moisture, it may 
still bloom as sweetly, fed by the dews of heaven." 

The door closed, and he was gone. But as Prue 
put her arm in mine, and we went up-stairs together, 
she whispered in my ear : 

"How glad I am that you don't wear spectacles." 



88 Prue and I 



A CRUISE IN THE 'FLYING 
DUTCHMAN' 

"When I sailed : when I sailed." 

Ballad of Robert Kidd. 

With the opening of spring my heart opens. My 
fancy expands with the flowers, and, as I walk down 
town in the May morning, toward the dingy count- 
ing-room, and the old routine, you would hardly 
believe that I would not change my feelings for 
those of the French Barber-Poet Jasmin, who goes, 
merrily singing, to his shaving and hair-cutting. 

The first warm day puts the whole winter to flight. 
It stands in front of the summer like a young warrior 
before his host, and, single-handed, defies and 
destroys its remorseless enemy. 

I throw up the chamber-window, to breathe the 
earliest breath of summer. 

" The brave young David has hit old Goliath square 
in the forehead this morning," I say to Prue, as I 
lean out, and bathe in the soft sunshine. 

My wife is tying on her cap at the glass, and, not 
quite disentangled from her dreams, thinks I am 
speaking of a street-brawl, and replies that I had 
better take care of my own head. 

"Since you have charge of my heart, I suppose," 
I answer gaily, turning round to make her one of 
Titbottom's bows. 

" But seriously, Prue, how is it about my summer 
wardrobe? " 

Prue smiles, and tells me we shall have two months 
of winter yet, and I had better stop and order some 
more coal as I go down town. 

" Winter coal ! " 

Then I step back, and taking her by the arm, lead 
her to the window. I throw it open even wider than 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 89 

before. The sunlight streams on the great church- 
towers opposite, and the trees in the neighbouring 
square glisten, and wave their boughs gently, as if 
they would burst into leaf before dinner. Cages are 
hung at the open chamber-windows in the street, and 
the birds, touched into song by the sun, make Mem- 
non true. Prue's purple and white hyacinths are in 
full blossom, and perfume the warm air, so that the 
canaries and the mocking birds are no longer aliens 
in the city streets, but are once more swinging in 
their spicy native groves. 

A soft wind blows upon us as we stand, listening 
and looking. Cuba and the Tropics are in the air. 
The drowsy tune of a hand-organ rises from the 
square, and Italy comes singing in upon the sound. 
My triumphant eyes meet Prue's. They are full of 
sweetness and spring. 

"What do you think of the summer-wardrobe 
now? " I ask, and we go down to breakfast. 

But the air has magic in it, and I do not cease to 
dream. If I meet Charles, who is bound for Alabama, 
or John, who sails for Savannah, with a trunk full of 
white jackets, I do not say to them, as their other 
friends say : 

" Happy travellers, who cut March and April out 
of the dismal year ! " 

I do not envy them. They will be sea-sick on the 
way. The southern winds will blow all the water 
out of the rivers, and, desolately stranded upon mud, 
they will relieve the tedium of the interval by tying 
with large ropes a young gentleman raving with 
delirium tremens. They will hurry along, appalled 
by forests blazing in the windy night ; and, housed 
in a bad inn, they will find themselves anxiously 
asking, "Are the cars punctual in leaving?" 
grimly sure that impatient travellers find all con- 
veyances too slow. The travellers are very warm, 
indeed, even in March and April, but Prue doubts 
if it is altogether the effect of the southern climate. 

Why should they go to the South? If they only 



90 Prue and I 

wait a little, the South will come to them. Savannah 
arrives in April ; Florida in May ; Cuba and the Gull 
come in with June, and the full splendour of the 
Tropics burns through July and August, Sitting 
upon the earth, do we not glide by all the constella- 
tions, all the awful stars? Does not the flash of 
Orion's scimeter dazzle as we pass? Do we not hear, 
as we gaze in hushed midnights, the music of the 
Lyre ; are we not throned with Cassiopeia ; do we not 
play with the tangles of Berenice's hair, as we sail, 
as we sail? 

When Christopher told me that he was going to 
Italy, I went into Bourne's conservatory, saw a 
magnolia, and so reached Italy before him. Can 
Christopher bring Italy home? But I brought to 
Prue a branch of magnolia blossoms, with Mr. 
Bourne's kindest regards, and she put them upon 
her table, and our little house smelled of Italy for a 
week afterward. The incident developed Prue's 
Italian tastes, which I had not suspected to be so 
strong. I found her looking very often at the mag- 
nolias ; even holding them in her hand, and standing 
before the table with a pensive air. I suppose she 
was thinking of Beatrice Cenci, or of Tasso and 
Leonora, or of the wife of Marino Faliero, or of some 
other of those sad old Italian tales of love and woe. 
So easily Prue went to Italy ! 

Thus the spring comes in my heart as well as in 
the air, and leaps along my veins as well as through 
the trees. I immediately travel. An orange takes 
me to Sorrento, and roses, when they blow, to 
Paestum. The camelias in Aurelia's hair bring Brazil 
into the happy rooms she treads, and she takes me 
to South America as she goes to dinner. The pearls 
upon her neck make me free of the Persian gulf. 
Upon her shawl, like the Arabian prince upon his 
carpet, I am transported to the vales of Cashmere ; 
and thus, as I daily walk in the bright spring days, 
I go round the world. 

But the season wakes a finer longing, a desire that 



Cruise in the 'Flying Dutchman' 91 

could only be satisfied if the pavilions of the clouds 
were real, and I could stroll among the towering 
splendours of a sultry spring evening. Ah ! if I could 
leap those flaming battlements that glow along the 
west if I could tread those cool, dewy, serene isles 
of sunset, and sink with them in the sea of stars. 

I say so to Prue, and my wife smiles. 

"But why is it so impossible," I ask, "if you go 
to Italy upon a magnolia branch? " 

The smile fades from her eyes. 

"I went a shorter voyage than that," she an- 
swered; "it was only to Mr. Bourne's." 

I walked slowly out of the house, and overtook 
Titbottom as I went. He smiled gravely as he 
greeted me, and said : 

" I have been asked to invite you to join a little 
pleasure party." 

" Where is it going ? " 

"Oh ! anywhere," answered Titbottom. 

"And how?" 

"Oh ! anyhow," he replied. 

" You mean that everybody is to go wherever he 
pleases, and in the way he best can. My dear Tit- 
bottom, I have long belonged to that pleasure party, 
although I never heard it called by so pleasant a 
name before." 

My companion said only : 

"If you would like to join, I will introduce you to 
the party. I cannot go, but they are all on board." 

I answered nothing ; but Titbottom drew me along. 
We took a boat, and put off to the most extra- 
ordinary craft I had ever seen. We approached her 
stern, and, as I curiously looked at it, I could think 
of nothing but an old picture that hung in my father's 
house. It was of the Flemish school, and represented 
the rear view of the vrouw of a burgomaster going to 
market. The wide yards were stretched like elbows, 
and even the studding-sails were spread. The hull 
was seared and blistered, and, in the tops, I saw 
what I supposed to be strings of turnips or cabbages, 



92 Prue and I 

little round masses, with tufted crests ; but Titbottom 
assured me they were sailors. 

We rowed hard, but came no nearer the vessel. 

"She is going with the tide and wind," said I: 
"we shall never catch her." 

My companion said nothing. 

"But why have they set the studding-sails?" 
asked I. 

"She never takes in any sails," answered Tit- 
bottom. 

"The more fool she," thought I, a little im- 
patiently, angry at not getting nearer to the vessel. 
But I did not say it aloud. I would as soon have 
said it to Prue as to Titbottom. The truth is, I 
began to feci a little ill, from the motion of the boat, 
and remembered, with a shade of regret, Prue and 
peppermint. If wives could only keep their husbands 
a little nauseated, I am confident they m.ight be very 
sure of their constancy. 

But, somehow, the strange ship was gained, and 
I found myself among as singular a company as I 
have ever seen. There were men of every country, 
and costumes of all kinds. There was an indescrib- 
able mistiness in the air, or a premature twilight, 
in which all the figures looked ghostly and unreal. 
The ship was of a model such as I had never seen, 
and the rigging had a musty odour, so that the whole 
craft smelled like a ship-chandler's shop grown 
mouldy. The figures glided rather than walked 
about, and I perceived a strong smell of cabbage 
issuing from the hold. 

But the most extraordinary thing of all was the 
sense of resistless motion which possessed my mind 
the moment my foot struck the deck. I could have 
sworn we were dashing through the water at the 
rate of twenty knots an hour. (Prue has a great, 
but a little ignorant, admiration of my technical 
knowledge of nautical affairs and phrases.) I looked 
aloft and saw the sails taut with a stiff breeze, and 
I heard a faint whistling of the wind in the rigging. 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 93 

but very faint, and rather, it seemed to me, as if it 
came from the creak of cordage in the ships of 
Crusaders; or of quaint old craft upon the Spanish 
main, echoing through remote years so far away it 
sounded. 

Yet I heard no orders given ; I saw no sailors 
running aloft, and only one figure crouching over 
the wheel. He was lost behind his great beard as 
behind a snow-drift. But the startling speed with 
which we scudded along did not lift a solitary hair 
of that beard, nor did the old and withered face of 
the pilot betray any curiosity or interest as to what 
breakers, or reefs, or pitiless shores, might be lying 
in ambush to destroy us. 

Still on we swept ; and as the traveller in a night- 
train knows that he is passing green fields, and 
pleasant gardens, and winding streams fringed with 
flowers, and is now gliding through tunnels or dart- 
ing along the base of fearful cliffs, so I was conscious 
that we were pressing through various climates and 
by romantic shores. In vain I peered into the gray 
twilight mist that folded all. I could only see the 
vague figures that grew and faded upon the haze, as 
my eye fell upon them, like the intermittent charac- 
ters of sympathetic ink when heat touches them. 

Now, it was a belt of warm, odorous air in which 
we sailed, and then cold as the breath of a polar 
ocean. The perfume of new-mown hay and the 
breath of roses, came mingled with the distant music 
of bells, and the twittering song of birds, and a low 
surf-like sound of the wind in summer woods. There 
were all sounds of pastoral beauty, of a tranquil 
landscape such as Prue loves and which shall be 
painted as the background of her portrait whenever 
she sits to any of my many artist friends and that 
pastoral beauty shall be called England ; I strained 
my eyes into the cruel mist that held all that music 
and all that suggested beauty, but I could see nothing. 
It was so sweet that I scarcely knew if I cared to 
see. The very thought of it charmed my senses and 



94 Prue and I 

satisfied my heart. I smelled and heard the landscape 
that I could not see. 

Then the pungent, penetrating fragrance of blos- 
soming vineyards was wafted across the air; the 
flowery richness of orange groves, and the sacred 
odour of crushed bay leaves, such as is pressed from 
them when they are strewn upon the flat pavement 
of the streets of Florence, and gorgeous priestly pro- 
cessions tread them under foot. A steam of incense 
filled the air. I smelled Italy as in the magnolia 
from Bourne's garden and, even while my heart 
leaped with the consciousness, the odour passed, and 
a stretch of burning silence succeeded. 

It was an oppressive zone of heat oppressive not 
only from its silence, but from the sense of awful, 
antique forms, whether of art or nature, that were 
sitting, closely veiled, in that mysterious obscurity. 
I shuddered as I felt that if my eyes could pierce 
that mist, or if it should lift and roll away, I should 
see upon a silent shore low ranges of lonely hills, 
or mystic figures and huge temples trampled out of 
history by time. 

This, too, we left. There was a rustling of distant 
palms, the indistinct roar of beasts, and the hiss of 
serpents. Then all was still again. Only at times 
the remote sigh of the weary sea, moaning around 
desolate isles undiscovered ; and the howl of winds 
that had never wafted human voices, but had rung 
endless changes upon the sound of dashing waters, 
made the voyage more appalling and the figures 
around me more fearful. 

As the ship plunged on through all the varying 
zones, as climate and country drifted behind us, 
unseen in the gray mist, but each, in turn, making 
that quaint craft England or Italy, Africa and the 
Southern seas, I ventured to steal a glance at the 
motley crew, to see what impression this wild career 
produced upon them. 

They sat about the deck in a hundred listless 
postures. Some leaned idly over the bulwarks, and 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 95 

looked wistfully away from the ship, as if they 
fancied they saw all that I inferred but could not see. 
As the perfume, and sound, and climate changed, I 
could see many a longing eye sadden and grow moist, 
and as the chime of bells echoed distinctly like the 
airy syllables of names, and, as it were, made pictures 
in music upon the minds of those quaint mariners 
then dry lips moved, perhaps to name a name, per- 
haps to breathe a prayer. Others sat upon the deck, 
vacantly smoking pipes that required no refilling, but 
had an immortality of weed and fire. The more they 
smoked the more mysterious they became. The 
smoke made the mist around them more impene- 
trable, and I could clearly see that those distant 
sounds gradually grew more distant, and, by some 
of the most desperate and constant smokers, were 
heard no more. The faces of such had an apathy, 
which, had it been human, would have been despair. 

Others stood staring up into the rigging, as if 
calculating when the sails must needs be rent and 
the voyage end. But there was no hope in their 
eyes, only a bitter longing. Some paced restlessly 
up and down the deck. They had evidently been 
walking a long, long time. At intervals they, too, 
threw a searching glance into the mist that enveloped 
the ship, and up into the sails and rigging that 
stretched over them in hopeless strength and order. 

One of the promenaders I especially noticed. His 
beard was long and snowy, like that of the pilot. He 
had a staff in his hand, and his movement was very 
rapid. His body swung forward, as if to avoid 
something, and his glance half turned back over his 
shoulder, apprehensively, as if he were threatened 
from behind. The head and the whole figure were 
bowed as if under a burden, although I could not see 
that he had anything upon his shoulders ; and his gait 
was not that of a man who is walking off the ennui of 
a voyage, but rather of a criminal flying, or of a 
startled traveller pursued. 

As he came nearer to me in his walk, I saw that 



96 



Prue and I 



his features were strongly Hebrew, and there was an 
air of the proudest dignity, fearfully abased, in his 
mien and expression. It was more than the dignity 
of an individual. I could have believed that the pride 
of a race was humbled in his person. 

His agile eye presently fastened itself upon me, as 
a stranger. He came nearer and nearer to me, as he 
paced rapidly to and fro, and was evidently several 
times on the point of addressing me, but, looking 
over his shoulder apprehensively, he passed on. At 
length, with a great effort, he paused for an instant, 
and invited me to join him in his walk. Before the 
invitation was fairly uttered, he was in motion again. 
I followed, but I could not overtake him. He kept 
just before me, and turned occasionally with an air 
of terror, as if he fancied I were dogging him ; then 
glided on more rapidly. 

His face was by no means agreeable, but it had 
an inexplicable fascination, as if it had been turned 
upon what no other mortal eyes had ever seen. Yet 
I could hardly tell whether it were, probably, an 
object of supreme beauty or of terror. He looked 
at everything as if he hoped its impression might 
obliterate some anterior and awful one ; and I was 
gradually possessed with the unpleasant idea that his 
eyes were never closed that, in fact, he never slept. 

Suddenly, fixing me with his unnatural, wakeful 
glare, he whispered something which I could not 
understand, and then darted forward even more 
rapidly, as if he dreaded that, in merely speaking, 
he had lost time. 

Still the ship drove on, and I walked hurriedly 
along the deck, just behind my companion. But 
our speed and that of the ship contrasted strangely 
with the mouldy smell of old rigging, and the list- 
less and lazy groups, smoking and leaning on the 
bulwarks. The seasons, in endless succession and 
iteration, passed over the ship. The twilight was 
summer haze at the stern, while it was the fiercest 
winter mist at the bows. But as a tropical breath, 



Cruise in the * Flying Dutchman ' 97 

like the warmth of a Syrian day, suddenly touched 
the brow of my companion, he sighed, and I could 
not help saying : 

"You must be tired." 

He only shook his head and quickened his pace. 
But now that I had once spoken, it was not so 
difficult to speak, and I asked him why he did not 
stop and rest. 

He turned for a moment, and a mournful sweetness 
shone in his dark eyes and haggard, swarthy face. 
It played flittingly around that strange look of ruined 
human dignity, like a wan beam of late sunset about 
a crumbling and forgotten temple. He put his hand 
hurriedly to his forehead, as if he were trying to 
remember like a lunatic, who, having heard only 
the wrangle of fiends in his delirium, suddenly, in a 
conscious moment, perceives the familiar voice of 
love. But who could this be, to whom mere human 
sympathy was so startlingly sweet? 

Still moving, he whispered with a woeful sadness, 
" I want to stop, but I cannot. If I could only stop 
long enough to leap over the bulwarks ! " 

Then he sighed long and deeply, and added, " But 
I should not drown." 

So much had my interest been excited by his face 
and movement, that I had not observed the costume 
of this strange being. He wore a black hat upon his 
head. It was not only black, but it was shiny. Even 
in the midst of this wonderful scene, I could observe 
that it had the artificial newness of a second-hand 
hat ; and, at the same moment, I was disgusted by 
the odour of old clothes very old clothes, indeed. 
The mist and my sympathy had prevented my seeing 
before what a singular garb the figure wore. It was 
all second-hand and carefully ironed, but the gar- 
ments were obviously collected from every part of the 
civilized globe. Good heavens ! as I looked at the 
coat, I had a strange sensation. I was sure that I 
had once worn that coat. It was my wedding surtout 
long in the skirts which Prue had told me, years 

H 



98 



Prue and I 



and years before, she had given away to the neediest 
Jew beggar she had ever seen. 

The spectral figure dwindled in my fancy the 
features lost their antique grandeur, and the restless 
eye ceased to be sublime from immortal sleeplessness, 
and became only lively with mean cunning. The 
apparition was fearfully grotesque, but the driving 
ship and the mysterious company gradually restored 
its tragic interest. I stopped and leaned against the 
side, and heard the rippling water that I could not 
see, and flitting through the mist, with anxious speed, 
the figure held its way. What was he flying? What 
conscience with relentless sting pricked this victim 
on? 

He came again nearer and nearer to me in his walk. 
I recoiled with disgust, this time, no less than terror. 
But he seemed resolved to speak, and, finally, each 
time, as he passed me, he asked single questions, as 
a ship which fires whenever it can bring a gun to 
bear. 

"Can you tell me to what port we are bound? " 

"No," I replied; "but how came you to take 
passage without inquiry? To me it makes little 
difference." 

"Nor do I care," he answered, when he next came 
near enough ; " I have already been there." 

"Where? " asked I. 

"Wherever we are going," he replied. "I have 
been there a great many times, and, oh ! I am very 
tired of it." 

" But why are you here at all, then ; and why don't 
you stop? " 

There was a singular mixture of a hundred con- 
flicting emotions in his face, as I spoke. The repre- 
sentative grandeur of a race, which he sometimes 
showed in his look, faded into a glance of hopeless 
and puny despair. His eyes looked at me curiously, 
his chest heaved, and there was clearly a struggle in 
his mind, between some lofty and mean desire. At 
times, I saw only the austere suffering of ages in his 



Cruise in the * Flying Dutchman ' 99 

strongly-carved features, and again I could see 
nothing but the second-hand black hat above them. 
He rubbed his forehead with his skinny hand ; he 
glanced over his shoulder, as if calculating whether 
he had time to speak to me; and then, as a splendid 
defiance flashed from his piercing eyes, so that I 
know how Milton's Satan looked, he said, bitterly, 
and with hopeless sorrow, that no mortal voice ever 
knew before : 

" I cannot stop : my woe is infinite, like my sin ! " 
and he passed into the mist. 

But, in a few moments, he reappeared. I could 
now see only the hat, which sank more and more 
over his face, until it covered it entirely ; and I heard 
a querulous voice, which seemed to be quarrelling 
with itself, for saying what it was compelled to say, 
so that the words were even more appalling than 
what it had said before : 

"Old clo' ! old clo! " 

I gazed at the disappearing figure, in speechless 
amazement, and was still looking, when I was 
tapped upon the shoulder, and, turning round, saw 
a German cavalry officer, with a heavy moustache, 
and a dog-whistle in his hand. 

"Most extraordinary man, your friend yonder," 
said the officer; "I don't remember to have seen 
him in Turkey, and yet I recognize upon his feet 
the boots that I wore in the great Russian cavalry 
charge, where I individually rode down five hundred 
and thirty Turks, slew seven hundred, at a moderate 
computation, by the mere force of my rush, and, 
taking the seven insurmountable walls of Constanti- 
nople at one clean flying leap, rode straight into the 
seraglio, and, dropping the bridle, cut the sultan's 
throat with my bridle-hand, kissed the other to the 
ladies of the harem, and was back again within our 
lines and taking a glass of wine with the hereditary 
Grand Duke Generalissimo before he knew that I 
had mounted. Oddly enough, your old friend is now 
sporting the identical boots I wore on that occasion." 
H 2 



100 Prue and I 

The cavalry officer coolly curled his moustache 
with his fingers. I looked at him in silence. 

"Speaking of boots," he resumed, "I don't re- 
member to have told you of that little incident of 
the Princess of the Crimea's diamonds. It was 
slight, but curious. I was dining one day with the 
Emperor of the Crimea, who always had a cover 
laid for me at his table, when he said, in great per- 
plexity, ' Baron, my boy, I am in straits. The Shah 
of Persia has just sent me word that he has pre- 
sented me with two thousand pearl-of-Oman neck- 
laces, and I don't know how to get them over, the 
duties are so heavy.' 'Nothing easier,' replied I; 
' I'll bring them in my boots.' ' Nonsense! ' said 
the Emperor of the Crimea. ' Nonsense! yourself,' 
replied I, sportively : for the Emperor of the Crimea 
always gives me my joke ; and so after dinner I went 
over to Persia. The thing was easily enough done. 
I ordered a hundred thousand pairs of boots or so, 
filled them with the pearls ; said at the Custom-house 
that they were part of my private wardrobe, and I 
had left the blocks in to keep them stretched, for 
I was particular about my bunions. The officers 
bowed, and said that their own feet were tender, 
upon which I jokingly remarked that I wished their 
consciences were, and so in the pleasantest manner 
possible the pearl-of-Oman necklaces were bowed 
out of Persia, and the Emperor of the Crimea gave 
me three thousand of them as my share. It was no 
trouble. It was only ordering the boots, and 
whistling to the infernal rascals of Persian shoe- 
makers to hang for their pay." 

I could reply nothing to my new acquaintance, 
but I treasured his stories to tell to Prue, and at 
length summoned courage to ask him why he had 
taken passage. 

"Pure fun," answered he, "nothing else under 
the sun. You see, it happened in this way : I was 
sitting quietly and swinging in a cedar of Lebanon, 
on the very summit of that mountain, when suddenly. 



Cruise in the 'Flying Dutchman' loi 

feeling a little warm, I took a brisk dive into the 
Mediterranean. Now I was careless, and got going 
obliquely, and with the force of such a dive I could 
not come up near Sicily, as I had intended, but I 
went clean under Africa, and came out at the Cape 
of Good Hope, and as Fortune would have it, just 
as this good ship was passing. So I sprang over the 
side, and offered the crew to treat all round if they 
would tell me where I started from. But I suppose 
they had just been piped to grog, for not a man 
stirred, except your friend yonder, and he only kept 
on stirring." 

"Are you going far? " I asked. 

The cavalry officer looked a little disturbed. " I 
cannot precisely tell," answered he, "in fact, I wish 
I could ; " and he glanced round nervously at the 
strange company. 

" If you should come our way, Prue and I will be 
very glad to see you," said I, "and I can promise 
you a warm welcome from the children." 

"Many thanks," said the officer, and handed me 
his card, upon which I read, Le Baron Munchausen. 

"I beg your pardon," said a low voice at my side; 
and, turning, I saw one of the most constant smokers 
a very old man "I beg your pardon, but can you 
tell me where I came from ? " 

" I am sorry to say I cannot," answered I, as I 
surveyed a man with a very bewildered and wrinkled 
face, who seemed to be intently looking for some- 
thing. 

"Nor where I am going? " 

I replied that it was equally impossible. He 
mused a few moments, and then said slowly, " Do 
you know, it is a very strange thing that I have not 
found anybody who can answer me either of those 
questions. And yet I must have come from some- 
where," said he, speculatively "yes, and I must 
be going somewhere, and I should really like to 
know something about it." 

"I observe," said I, "that you smoke a good deal, 



I02 Prue and I 

and perhaps you find tobacco clouds your brain a 
little." 

" Smoke ! Smoke ! " repeated he, sadly, dwelling 
upon the words ; " why, it all seems smoke to me ; " 
and he looked wistfully around the deck, and I felt 
quite ready to agree with him. 

"May I ask what you are here for," inquired I; 
"perhaps your health, or business of some kind; 
although I was told it was a pleasure party? " 

"That's just it," said he; "if I only knew where 
we were going, I might be able to say something 
about it. But where are you going? " 

"I am going home as fast as I can," replied I 
warmly, for I began to be very uncomfortable. The 
old man's eyes half closed, and his mind seemed to 
have struck a scent. 

"Isn't that where I was going? I believe it is; 
I wish I knew; I think that's what it is called. 
Where is home? " 

And the old man puffed a prodigious cloud of 
smoke, in which he was quite lost. 

"It is certainly very smoky," said he. "I came 
on board this ship to go to in fact, I meant, as I 

was saying, I took passage for " He smoked 

silently. "I beg your pardon, but where did you 
say I was going? " 

Out of the mist where he had been leaning over 
the side, and gazing earnestly into the surrounding 
obscurity, now came a pale young man, and put his 
arm in mine. 

"I see," said he, "that you have rather a general 
acquaintance, and, as you know many persons, per- 
haps you know many things. I am young, you see, 
but I am a great traveller. I have been all over the 
world, and in all kinds of conveyances; but," he 
continued, nervously, starting continually, and look- 
ing around, "I haven't yet got abroad." 

"Not got abroad, and yet you have been every- 
where? " 

"Oh! yes; I know," he replied, hurriedly; "but 



Cruise in the * Flying Dutchman' 103 

I mean that I haven't yet got away. I travel con- 
stantly, but it does no good and perhaps you can 
tell me the secret I want to know. I will pay any 
sum for it. I am very rich and very young, and, if 
money cannot buy it, I will give as many years of 
my life as you require." 

He moved his hands convulsively, and his hair 
was wet upon his forehead. He was very handsome 
in that mystic light, but his eye burned with eager- 
ness, and his slight, graceful frame thrilled with the 
earnestness of his emotion. The Emperor Hadrian, 
who loved the boy Antinous, would have loved the 
youth. 

"But what is it that you wish to leave behind? " 
said I, at length, holding his arm paternally; "what 
do you wish to escape? " 

He threw his arms straight down by his side, 
clenched his hands, and looked fixedly in my eyes. 
The beautiful head was thrown a little back upon 
one shoulder, and the wan face glowed with yearn- 
ing desire and utter abandonment to confidence, so 
that, without his saying it, I knew that he had never 
whispered the secret which he was about to impart 
to me. Then, with a long sigh, as if his life were 
exhaling, he whispered, 

"Myself." 

"Ah! my boy, you are bound upon a long 
journey." 

"I know it," he replied mournfully; "and I cannot 
even get started. If I don't get off in this ship, I 
fear I shall never escape." His last words were lost 
in the mist which gradually removed him from my 
view. 

"The youth has been amusing you with some of 
his wild fancies, I suppose," said a venerable man, 
who might have been twin brother of that snowy- 
bearded pilot. " It is a great pity so promising a 
young man should be the victim of such vagaries." 

He stood looking over the side for some time, and 
at length added : 



I04 Prue and I 

"Don't you think we ought to arrive soon? " 

"Where?" asked I. 

"Why, in Eldorado, of course," answered he. 
"The truth is, I became very tired of that long pro- 
cess to find the Philosopher's Stone, and, although 
I was just upon the point of the last combination 
which must infallibly have produced the medium, 
I abandoned it when I heard Orellana's account, 
and found that Nature had already done in Eldorado 
precisely what I was trying to do. You see," con- 
tinued the old man abstractedly, " I had put youth, 
and love, and hope, besides a great many scarce 
minerals, into the crucible, and they all dissolved 
slowly, and vanished in vapour. It was curious, but 
they left no residuum except a little ashes, which 
were not strong enough to make a lye to cure a lame 
finger. But, as I was saying, Orellana told us about 
Eldorado just in time, and I thought, if any ship 
would carry me there it must be this. But I am very 
sorry to find that any one who is in pursuit of such 
a hopeless goal as that pale young man yonder, 
should have taken passage. It is only age," he said, 
slowly stroking his white beard, "that teaches us 
wisdom, and persuades us to renounce the hope of 
escaping ourselves ; and just as we are discovering 
the Philosopher's Stone, relieves our anxiety by 
pointing the way to Eldorado." 

"Are we really going there?" asked I, in some 
trepidation. 

"Can there be any doubt of it?" replied the old 
man. "Where should we be going, if not there? 
However, let us summon the passengers and 
ascertain." 

So saying, the venerable man beckoned to the 
various groups that were clustered, ghost-like, in the 
mist that enveloped the ship. They seemed to draw 
nearer with listless curiosity, and stood or sat near 
us, smoking as before, or, still leaning on the side, 
idly gazing. But the restless figure who had first 
accosted me, still paced the deck, flitting in and out 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 105 

of the obscurity ; and as he passed there was the 
same mien of humbled pride, and the air of a fate 
of tragic grandeur, and still the same faint odour of 
old clothes, and the low querulous cry, "Old clo' ! 
old clo' ! " 

The ship dashed on. Unknown odours and 
strange sounds still filled the air, and all the world 
went by us as we flew, with no other noise than the 
low gurgling of the sea around the side. 

"Gentlemen," said the reverend passenger for 
Eldorado, " I hope there is no misapprehension as 
to our destination?" 

As he said this, there was a general movement of 
anxiety and curiosity. Presently the smoker, who 
had asked me where he was going, said, doubtfully : 

"I don't know it seems to me I mean I wish 
somebody would distinctly say where we are going." 

"I think I can throw a light upon this subject," 
said a person whom I had not before remarked. He 
was dressed like a sailor, and had a dreamy eye. 
" It is very clear to me where we are going. I have 
been taking observations for some time, and I am 
glad to announce that we are on the eve of achieving 
great fame; and I may add," said he, modestly, 
"that my own good name for scientific acumen will 
be amply vindicated. Gentlemen, we are undoubtedly 
going into the Hole." 

"What hole is that?" asked M. le Baron Mun- 
chausen, a little contemptuously. 

" Sir, it will make you more famous than you ever 
were before," replied the first speaker, evidently 
much enraged. 

" I am persuaded we are going into no such absurd 
place," said the Baron, exasperated. 

The sailor with the dreamy eye was fearfully 
angry. He drew himself up stifflv and said : 

" Sir, you he ! " 

M. le Baron Munchausen took it in very good part. 
He smiled and held out his hand : 

"My friend," said he, blandly, "that is precisely 



io6 Prue and I 

what I have always heard. I am glad you do me no 
more than justice. I fully assent to your theory : and 
your words constitute me the proper historiographer 
of the expedition. But tell me one thing, how soon, 
after getting into the Hole, do you think we shall get 
out ? " 

"The result will prove," said the marine gentle- 
man, handing the officer his card, upon which was 
written, Captain Symmes. The two gentlemen then 
walked aside ; and the groups began to sway to and 
fro in the haze as if not quite contented. 

"Good God," said the pale youth, running up to 
me and clutching my arm, " I cannot go into any 
Hole alone with myself. I should die I should 
kill myself. I thought somebody was on board, and 
I hoped you were he, who would steer us to the 
fountain of oblivion." 

"Very well, that is in the Hole," said M. le Baron, 
who came out of the mist at that moment, leaning 
upon the Captain's arm. 

"But can I leave myself outside?" asked the 
youth, nervously. 

"Certainly," interposed the old Alchemist; "you 
may be sure that you will not get into the Hole, until 
you have left yourself behind." 

The pale young man grasped his hand, and gazed 
into his eyes. 

"And then I can drink and be happy," murmured 
he, as he leaned over the side of the ship, and listened 
to the rippling water, as if it had been the music of 
the fountain of oblivion. 

"Drink! drink!" said the smoking old man. 
"Fountain! fountain! Why, I believe that is what 
I am after. I beg your pardon," continued he, 
addressing the Alchemist. " But can you tell me if 
I am looking for a fountain? " 

"The fountain of youth, perhaps," replied the 
Alchemist. 

" The very thing ! " cried the smoker, with a shrill 
laugh, while his pipe fell from his mouth, and was 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 107 

shattered upon the deck, and the old man tottered 
away into the mist, chuckling feebly to himself, 
"Youth! youth! " 

"He'll find that in the Hole, too," said the 
Alchemist, as he gazed after the receding figure. 

The crowd now gathered more nearly around us. 

"W^ell, gentlemen," continued the Alchemist, 
"where shall we go, or, rather, where are we 
going?" 

A man in a friar's habit, with the cowl closely 
drawn about his head, now crossed himself, and 
whispered : 

" I have but one object. I should not have been 
here if I had not supposed we were going to find 
Prester John, to whom I have been appointed father 
confessor, and at whose court I am to live splendidly, 
like a cardinal at Rome. Gentlemen, if you will only 
agree that we shall go there, you shall all be per- 
mitted to hold my train when I proceed to be 
enthroned as Bishop of Central Africa." 

While he was speaking, another old man came 
from the bows of the ship, a figure which had been 
so immovable in its place that I supposed it was the 
ancient figure-head of the craft, and said in a low, 
hollow voice, and a quaint accent : 

" I have been looking for centuries, and I cannot 
see it. I supposed we were heading for it. I 
thought sometimes I saw the flash of distant spires, 
the sunny gleam of upland pastures, the soft undula- 
tion of purple hills. Ah me ! I am sure I heard the 
singing of birds, and the faint low of cattle. But I 
do not know : we come no nearer ; and yet I felt its 
presence in the air. If the mist would only lift, we 
should see it lying so fair upon the sea, so graceful 
against the sky. I fear we may have passed it. 
Gentlemen," said he, sadly, "I am afraid we may 
have lost the island of Atlantis for ever." 

There was a look of uncertainty in the throng 
upon the deck. 

" But yet," said a group of young men in every 



io8 Prue and I 

kind of costume, and of every country and time, "we 
have a chance at the Encantadas, the Enchanted 
Islands. We were reading of them only the other 
day, and the very style of the story had the music of 
waves. How happy we shall be to reach a land 
where there is no work, nor tempest, nor pain, and 
we shall be for ever happy." 

"I am content here," said a laughing youth, with 
heavily matted curls. " What can be better than 
this? We feel every climate, the music and the 
perfume of every zone are ours. In the starlight I 
woo the mermaids, as I lean over the side, and no 
enchanted island will show us fairer forms. I am 
satisfied. The ship sails on. We cannot see but 
we can dream. What work or pain have we here? 
I like the ship ; I like the voyage ; I like my com- 
pany, and am content." 

As he spoke he put something into his mouth, and, 
drawing a white substance from his pocket, offered 
it to his neighbour, saying, "Try a bit of this lotus; 
you will find it very soothing to the nerves, and an 
infallible remedy for home-sickness." 

"Gentlemen," said M. le Baron Munchausen, "I 
have no fear. The arrangements are well made ; 
the voyage has been perfectly planned, and each 
passenger will discover what he took passage to find, 
in the Hole into which we are going, under the 
auspices of this worthy Captain." 

He ceased, and silence fell upon the ship's com- 
pany. Still on we swept ; it seemed a weary way. 
The tireless pedestrians still paced to and fro, and 
the idle smokers puffed. The ship sailed on, and 
endless music and odour chased each other through 
the misty air. Suddenly a deep sigh drew universal 
attention to a person who had not yet spoken. He 
held a broken harp in his hand, the strings fluttered 
loosely in the air, and the head of the speaker, bound 
with a withered wreath of laurels, bent over it. 

"No, no," said he, "I will not eat your lotus, 
nor sail into the Hole. No magic root can cure the 



Cruise in the ' Flying Dutchman ' 109 

home-sickness I feel; for it is no regretful remem- 
brance, but an immortal longing. I have roamed 
farther than I thought the earth extended. I have 
climbed mountains; I have threaded rivers; I have 
sailed seas ; but nowhere have I seen the home for 
which my heart aches. Ah ! my friends, you look 
very weary; let us go home." 

The pedestrian paused a moment in his walk, and 
the smokers took their pipes from their mouths. 
The soft air which blew in that moment across the 
deck, drew a low sound from the broken harp-strings, 
and a light shone in the eyes of the old man of the 
figure-head, as if the mist had lifted for an instant, 
and he had caught a glimpse of the lost Atlantis. 

"I really believe that is where I wish to go," said 
the seeker of the fountain of youth. " I think I would 
give up drinking at the fountain if I could get there. 
I do not know," he murmured, doubtfully; "it is not 
sure; I mean, perhaps, I should not have strength 
to get to the fountain, even if I were near it." 

" But is it possible to get home? " inquired the pale 
young man. " I think I should be resigned if I could 
get home." 

"Certainly," said the dry, hard voice of Prester 
John's confessor, as his cowl fell a little back, and a 
sudden flush burned upon his gaunt face; "if there 
is any chance of home, I will give up the Bishop's 
palace in Central Africa." 

"But Eldorado is my home," interposed the old 
Alchemist. 

"Or is home Eldorado? " asked the poet, with the 
withered wreath, turning towards the Alchemist. 

It was a strange company and a wondrous voyage. 
Here were all kinds of men, of all times and coun- 
tries, pursuing the wildest hopes, the most chimerical 
desires. One took me aside to request that I would 
not let it be known, but that he inferred from certain 
signs we were nearing Utopia. Another whispered 
gaily in my ear that he thought the water was 
gradually becoming of a ruby colour the hue of 



iio Prue and I 

wine; and he had no doubt we should wake in the 
morning and find ourselves in the land of Cockaigne. 
A third, in great anxiety, stated to me that such 
continuous mists were unknown upon the ocean ; that 
they were peculiar to rivers, and that, beyond ques- 
tion, we w^ere drifting along some stream, probablv 
the Nile, and immediate measures ought to be taken 
that we did not go ashore at the foot of the moun- 
tains of the moon. Others were quite sure that Vvc 
\yere in the way of striking the great southern con- 
tinent; and a young man, who gave his name as 
Wilkins, said we might be quite at ease, for presently 
some friends of his would come flying over from the 
neighbouring islands and tell us all we wished. 

Still 1 smelled the mouldy rigging, and the odour 
of cabbage was strong from the hold. 

Prue, what could the ship be, in which such 
fantastic characters were sailing toward impossible 
bournes characters which in every age have ven- 
tured all the bright capital of life in vague specula- 
tions and romantic dreams? What could it be but 
the ship that haunts the sea for ever, and, with all 
sails set, drives onward before a ceaseless gale, and 
is not hailed, nor ever comes to port? 

1 know the ship is always full ; I know the gray- 
beard still watches at the prow for the lost Atlantis, 
and still the alchemist believes that Eldorado is at 
hand. Upon his aimless quest, the dotard still asks 
where he is going, and the pale youth knows that 
he shall never fly himself. Yet they would gladly 
renounce that wild chase and the dear dreams of 
years, could they find what I have never lost. They 
were ready to follow the poet home, if he would have 
told them where it lay. 

I know where it lies. I breathe the soft air of 
the purple uplands which they shall never tread. I 
hear the sweet music of the voices they long for in 
vain. I am no traveller; my only voyage is to the 
office and home again. William and Christopher, 
John and Charles sail to Europe and the South, but 



Family Portraits 1 1 1 

I defy their romantic distances. When the spring 
comes and the flowers blow, I drift through the year 
belted with summer and with spice. 

With the changing months I keep high carnival 
in all the zones. I sit at home and walk with Prue, 
and if the sun that stirs the sap quickens also the 
wish to wander, I remember my fellow-voyagers on 
that romantic craft, and looking round upon my 
peaceful room, and pressing more closely the arm of 
Prue, I feel that I have reached the port for which 
they hopelessly sailed. And when winds blow fiercely 
and the night-storm rages, and the thought of lost 
mariners and of perilous voyages touches the soft 
heart of Prue, I hear a voice sweeter to my ear than 
that of the syrens to the tempest-tost sailor : "Thank 
God ! Your only cruising is in the ' Flying Dutch- 
man ! 



FAMILY PORTRAITS 

" Look here upon this picture, and on this." 

Hamlet. 

W^E have no family pictures, Prue and I, only a 
portrait of my grandmother hangs upon our parlour 
wall. It was taken at least a century ago, and repre- 
sents the venerable lady, whom I remember in my 
childhood in spectacles and comely cap, as a young 
and blooming girl. 

She is sitting upon an old-fashioned sofa, by the 
side of a prim aunt of hers, and with her back to the 
open window. Her costume is quaint, but hand- 
some. It consists of a cream-coloured dress made 
high in the throat, ruffled around the neck, and over 
the bosom and the shoulders. The waist is just 
under her shoulders, and the sleeves are tight, tighter 
than any of our coat sleeves, and also ruffled at the 
wrist. Around the plump and rosy neck, which I 



1 12 Prue and I 

remember as shrivelled and sallow, and hidden under 
a decent lace handkerchief, hangs, in the picture, a 
necklace of large ebony beads. There are two curls 
upon the forehead, and the rest of the hair flows away 
in ringlets down the neck. 

The hands hold an open book : the eyes look up 
from it with tranquil sweetness, and, through the 
open window behind, you see a quiet landscape a 
hill, a tree, the glimpse of a river, and a few peaceful 
summer clouds. 

Often in my younger days, when my grandmother 
sat by the fire, after dinner, lost in thought perhaps 
remembering the time when the picture was really 
a portrait I have curiously compared her wasted 
face with the blooming beauty of the girl, and tried 
to detect the likeness. It was strange how the re- 
semblance would sometimes start out : how, as I 
gazed and gazed upon her old face, age disappeared 
before my eager glance, as snow melts in the sun- 
shine, revealing the flowers of a forgotten spring. 

It was touching to see my grandmother steal 
quietly up to her portrait, on still summer mornings 
when every one had left the house, and I, the only 
child, played, disregarded, and look at it wistfully 
and long. 

She held her hand over her eyes to shade them 
from the light that streamed in at the window, and 
I have seen her stand at least a quarter of an hour 
gazing steadfastly at the picture. She said nothing, 
she made no motion, she shed no tear, but when she 
turned away there was always a pensive sweetness 
in her face that made it not less lovely than the face 
of her youth. 

I have learned since, what her thoughts must have 
been how that long, wistful glance annihilated time 
and space, how forms and faces unknown to any 
other, rose in sudden resurrection around her how 
she loved, suffered, struggled and conquered again ; 
how many a jest that I shall never hear, how many a 
game that I shall never play, how many a song that 



Family Portraits 113 

I shall never sing, were all renewed and remembered 
as my grandmother contemplated her picture. 

I often stand, as she stood, gazing earnestly at the 
picture, so long and so silently, that Prue looks up 
from her work and says she shall be jealous of that 
beautiful belle, my grandmother, who yet makes her 
think more kindly of those remote old times. 

"Yes, Prue, and that is the charm of a family 
portrait." 

"Yes, again; but," says Titbottom when he hears 
the remark, "how, if one's grandmother were a 
shrew, a termagant, a virago? " 

"Ah ! in that case " I am compelled to say, while 
Prue looks up again, half archly, and I add gravely 
"you, for instance, Prue." 

Then Titbottom smiles one of his sad smiles, and 
we change the subject. 

Yet, I am always glad when Minim Sculpin, our 
neighbour, who knows that my opportunities are few, 
comes to ask me to step round and see the family 
portraits. 

The Sculpins, I think, are a very old family. 
Titbottom says they date from the deluge. But I 
thought people of English descent preferred to 
stop with William the Conqueror, who came from 
France. 

Before going with Minim, I always fortify myself 
with a glance at the great family Bible, in which 
Adam, Eve, and the patriarchs, are indifferently well 
represented. 

"Those are the ancestors of the Howards, the 
Plantagenets, and the Montmorencis," says Prue, 
surprising me with her erudition. " Have you any 
remoter ancestry, Mr. Sculpin?" she asks Minim, 
who only smiles compassionately upon the dear 
woman, while I am buttoning my coat. 

Then we step along the street, and I am conscious 
of trembling a little, for I feel as if I were going to 
court. Suddenly we are standing before the range 
of portraits. 



1 14 Prue and I 

"This," says Minim, with unction, "is Sir Solomon 
Sculpin, the founder of the family." 

"Famous for what?" I ask, respectfully. 

"For founding the family," replies Minim gravely, 
and I have sometimes thought a little severely. 

"This," he says, pointing to a dame in hoops and 
diamond stomacher, "this is Lady Sheba Sculpin. 

"Ah ! yes. Famous for what? " I inquire. 

"For being the wife of Sir Solomon." 

Then, in order, comes a gentleman in a huge, 
curling wig, looking indifferently like James the 
Second, or Louis the Fourteenth, and holding a scroll 
in his hand. 

"The Right Honourable Haddock Sculpin, Lord 
Privy Seal, etc., etc." 

A delicate beauty hangs between, a face fair, and 
loved, and lost, centuries ago a song to the eye a 
poem to the heart the Aurelia of that old society. 

"Lady Dorothea Sculpin, who married young Lord 
Pop and Cock, and died prematurely in Italy." 

Poor Lady Dorothea ! whose great grandchild, in 
the tenth remove, died last week, an old man of 
eighty ! 

Next the gentle lady hangs a fierce figure, flourish- 
ing a sword, with an anchor embroidered on his coat- 
collar, and thunder and lightning, sinking ships, 
flames and tornadoes in the background. 

" Rear Admiral Sir Shark Sculpin, who fell in the 
great action off Madagascar." 

So Minim goes on through the series, brandish- 
ing his ancestors about my head, and incontinently 
knocking me into admiration. 

And when we reach the last portrait and our own 
times, what is the natural emotion? Is it not to put 
Minim against the wall, draw off at him with my eyes 
and mind, scan him, and consider his life, and deter- 
mine how much of the Right Honourable Haddock's 
integrity, and the Lady Dorothea's loveliness, and the 
Admiral Shark's valour, reappears in the modern 
man? After all this proving and refining, ought not 



Family Portraits 115 

the last child of a famous race to be its flower and 
epitome? Or, in the case that he does not chance to 
be so, is it not better to conceal the family name? 

I am told, however, that in the higher circles of 
society, it is better not to conceal the name, however 
unworthy the man or woman may be who bears it. 
Prue once remonstrated with a lady about the mar- 
riage of a lovely young girl with a cousin of Minim's ; 
but the only answer she received was, "Well, he may 
not be a perfect man, but then he is a Sculpin," which 
consideration apparently gave great comfort to the 
lady's mind. 

But even Prue grants that Minim has some reason 
for his pride. Sir Solomon was a respectable man, 
and Sir Shark a brave one; and the Right Honour- 
able Haddock a learned one ; the Lady Sheba was 
grave and gracious in her way ; and the smile of the 
fair Dorothea lights with soft sunlight those long- 
gone summers. The filial blood rushes more gladly 
from Minim's heart as he gazes; and admiration for 
the virtues of his kindred inspires and sweetly mingles 
with good resolutions of his own. 

Time has its share, too, in the ministry, and the 
influence. The hills beyond the river lay yesterday, 
at sunset, lost in purple gloom ; they receded into airy 
distances of dreams and faery ; they sank softly into 
night, the peaks of the delectable mountains. But I 
knew, as I gazed enchanted, that the hills, so purple- 
soft of seeming, were hard, and gray, and barren in 
the wintry twilight ; and that in the distance was the 
magic that made them fair. 

So, beyond the river of time that flows between, 
walk the brave men and the beautiful women of our 
ancestry, grouped in twilight upon the shore. Dis- 
tance smooths away defects, and, with gentle dark- 
ness, rounds every form into grace. It steals the 
harshness from their speech, and every word becomes 
a song. Far across the gulf that ever widens, they 
look upon us with eyes whose glance is tender, and 
which light us to success. We acknowledge our in- 
I 2 



Ii6 Prue and I 

heritance ; we accept our birthright ; we own that 
their careers have pledged us to noble action. Every 
great life is an incentive to all other lives ; but when 
the brave heart, that beats for the world, loves us 
with the warmth of private affection, then the ex- 
ample of heroism is more persuasive, because more 
personal. 

This is the true pride of ancestry. It is founded 
in the tenderness with which the child regards the 
father, and in the romance that time sheds upon 
history. 

"Where be all the bad people buried? " asks every 
man, with Charles Lamb, as he strolls among the 
rank grave-yard grass, and brushes it aside to read 
o,f the faithful husband, and the loving wife, and the 
dutiful child. 

He finds only praise in the epitaphs, because the 
human heart is kind ; because it yearns with wistful 
tenderness after all its brethren who have passed into 
the cloud, and will only speak well of the departed. 
No offence is longer an offence when the grass is 
green over the offender. Even faults then seem char- 
acteristic and individual. Even Justice is appeased 
when the drop falls. How the old stories and plays 
teem with the incident of the duel in which one gentle- 
man falls, and, in dying, forgives and is forgiven. 
We turn the page with a tear. How much better had 
there been no offence, but how well that death wipes 
it out. 

It is not observed in history that families improve 
with time. It is rather discovered that the whole 
matter is like a comet, of which the brightest part is 
the head ; and the tail, although long and luminous, 
is gradually shaded into obscurity. 

Yet, by a singular compensation, the pride of 
ancestry increases in the ratio of distance. Adam 
was valiant, and did so well at Poictiers that he was 
knighted a hearty, homely, country gentleman, who 
lived humbly to the end. But young Lucifer, his 
representative in the twentieth remove, has a tinder- 



Family Portraits 117 

like conceit because old Sir Adam was so brave and 
humble. Sir Adam's sword is hung up at home, and 
Lucifer has a box at the opera. On a thin finger he 
has a ring, cut with a match fizzling, the crest of the 
Lucifers. But if he should be at a Poictiers, he would 
run away. Then history would be sorry not only 
for his cowardice, but for the shame it brings upon 
old Adam's name. 

So, if Minim Sculpin is a bad young man, he not 
only shames himself, but he disgraces that illustrious 
line of ancestors, whose characters are known. His 
neighbour, Mudge, has no pedigree of this kind, and 
when he reels homeward, we do not suffer the sorrow 
of any fair Lady Dorothea in such a descendant we 
pity him for himself alone. But genius and power 
are so imperial and universal, that when Minim Scul- 
pin falls, we are grieved not only for him, but for 
that eternal truth and beauty which appeared in the 
valour of Sir Shark, and the loveliness of Lady 
Dorothea. His neighbour Mudge's grandfather may 
have been quite as valorous and virtuous as Sculpin 's ; 
but we know of the one, and we do not know of the 
other. 

Therefore, Prue, I say to my wife, who has, by 
this time, fallen as soundly asleep as if I had been 
preaching a real sermon, do not let Mrs. Mudge feel 
hurt, because I gaze so long and earnestly upon the 
portrait of the fair Lady Sculpin, and, lost in dreams, 
mingle in a society which distance and poetry im- 
mortalize. 

But let the love of the family portraits belong to 
poetry and not to politics. It is good in the one 
way, and bad in the other. 

The sentirnent of ancestral pride is an integral part 
of human nature. Its organization in institutions is 
the real object of enmity to all sensible men, because 
it is a direct preference of derived to original power, 
implying a doubt that the world at every period is 
able to take care of itself. 

The family portraits have a poetic significance; 



ii8 Prue and I 

but he Is a brave child of the family who dares to 
show them. They all sit in passionless and austere 
judg"ment upon himself. Let him not invite us to 
see them, until he has considered whether they are 
honoured or disgraced by his own career until he 
has looked in the glass of his own thought and 
scanned his own proportions. 

The family portraits are like a woman's diamonds; 
they may flash finely enough before the world, but 
she herself trembles lest their lustre eclipse her eyes. 
It is difficult to resist the tendency to depend upon 
those portraits, and to enjoy vicariously through 
them a high consideration. But, after all, what 
girl is complimented when you curiously regard her 
because her mother was beautiful? What attenuated 
consumptive, in whom self-respect is yet unconsumed, 
delights in your respect for him, founded in honour 
for his stalwart ancestor? 

No man worthy the name rejoices in any homage 
which his own effort and character have not deserved. 
You intrinsically insult him when you make him the 
scapegoat of your admiration for his ancestor. But 
when his ancestor is his accessory, than your homage 
would flatter Jupiter. All that Minim Sculpin does 
by his own talent is the more radiantly set and orna- 
mented by the family fame. The imagination is 
pleased when Lord John Russell is Premier of Eng- 
land and a Whig, because the great Lord William 
Russell, his ancestor, died in England for liberty. 

In the same way Minim's sister Sara adds to her 
own grace the sweet memory of the Lady Dorothea. 
W^hen she glides, a sunbeam, through that quiet 
house, and in winter makes summer by her presence; 
when she sits at the piano, singing in the twilight, 
or stands leaning against the Venus in the corner of 
the room herself more graceful then, in glancing 
from her to the portrait of the gentle Dorothea, you 
feel that the long years between them have been 
lighted by the same sparkling grace, and shadowed 
by the same pensive smile for this is but one Sara 



Family Portraits 119 

and one Dorothea, out of all that there are in the 
world. 

As we look at these two, we must own that noblesse 
oblige in a sense sweeter than we knew, and be glad 
when young- Sculpin invites us to see the family 
portraits. Could a man be named Sidney, and not be 
a better man, or Milton, and be a churl? 

But it is apart from any historical association that 
I like to look at the family portraits. The Sculpins 
were very distinguished heroes, and judges, and 
founders of families ; but I chiefly linger upon their 
pictures, because they were men and women. Their 
portraits remove the vagueness from history, and give 
it reality. Ancient valour and beauty cease to be 
names and poetic myths, and become facts. I feel 
that they lived, and loved, and suffered in those old 
days. The story of their lives is instantly full of 
human sympathy in my mind, and I judge them more 
gently, more generously. 

Then I look at those of us who are the spectators 
of the portraits. I know that we are made of the 
same flesh and blood, that time is preparing us to 
be placed in his cabinet and upon canvas, to be 
curiously studied by the grandchildren of unborn 
Prues. I put out my hands to grasp those of my 
fellows around the pictures. "Ah! friends, we live 
not only for ourselves. Those whom we shall never 
see, will look to us as models, as counsellors. We 
shall be speechless then. We shall only look at them 
from the canvas, and cheer or discourage them by 
their idea of our lives and ourselves. Let us so look 
in the portrait, that they shall love our memories 
that they shall say, in turn, ' they were kind and 
thoughtful, those queer old ancestors of ours ; let us 
not disgrace them. ' " 

If they only recognize us as men and women like 
themselves, they will be the better for it, and the 
family portraits will be family blessings. 

This is what my grandmother did. She looked at 
her own portrait, at the portrait of her youth, with 



I20 Prue and I 

much the same feehng- that I remember Prue as she 
was when I first saw her ; with much the same feeling- 
that I hope our grandchildren will remember us. 

Upon those still summer mornings, though she 
stood withered and wan in a plain black silk gown, 
a close cap, and spectacles, and held her shrunken 
and blue-veined hand to shield her eyes, yet, as she 
gazed, with that long and longing glance, upon the 
blooming beauty that had faded from her form for 
ever, she recognized under that flowing hair and that 
rosy cheek the immortal fashions of youth and 
health and beneath those many ruffles and that 
quaint high waist, the fashions of the day the same 
true and loving woman. If her face was pensive as 
she turned away, it was because truth and love are, 
in their essence, for ever young; and it is the hard 
condition of nature that they cannot always appear so. 



OUR COUSIN THE CURATE 

" Why, let the stricken deer go weep, 
The heart ungalled play ; 
For some must watch while some must sleep ; 
Thus runs the world away." 

Prue and I have very few relations : Prue, especially, 
says that she never had any but her parents, and that 
she has none now but her children. She often wishes 
she had some large aunt in the country, who might 
come in^ unexpectedly with bags and bundles, and 
encamp in our little house for a whole winter. 

"Because you are tired of me, I suppose, Mrs. 
Prue? " I reply with dignity, when she alludes to the 
imaginary large aunt. 

"You could take aunt to the opera, you know, and 
walk with her on Sundays," says Prue, as she knits 
and calmly looks me in the face, without recognizing 
my observation. 



Our Cousin the Curate 121 

Then I tell Prue in the plainest possible manner 
that, if her large aunt should come up from the 
country to pass the winter, I should insist upon her 
bringing her oldest daughter, with whom I would 
flirt so desperately that the street would be scandal- 
ized, and even the corner grocery should gossip over 
the iniquity. 

" Poor Prue, how I should pity you," I say triumph- 
antly to my wife. 

" Poor oldest daughter, how I should pity her," 
replies Prue, placidly counting her stitches. 

So the happy evening passes, as we gaily mock 
each other, and wonder how old the large aunt should 
be, and how many bundles she ought to bring with 
her. 

" I would have her arrive by the late train at mid- 
night," says Prue; "and when she had eaten some 
supper and had gone to her room, she should discover 
that she had left the most precious bundle of all in 
the cars, without whose contents she could not sleep, 
nor dress, and you would start to hunt for it." 
And the needle clicks faster than ever. 
"Yes, and when I am gone to the office in the 
morning, and am busy about important affairs yes, 
Mrs. Prue, important affairs," I insist, as my wife 
half raises her head incredulously "then our large 
aunt from the country would like to go shopping, and 
would want you for her escort. And she would 
cheapen tape at all the shops, and even to the great 
Stewart himself, she would offer a shilling less for the 
gloves. Then the comely clerks of the great Stewart 
would look at you, with their brows lifted, as if they 
said, Mrs. Prue, your large aunt had better stay in 
the country." 

And the needle clicks more slowly, as if the tune 
were changing. 

The large aunt will never come, I know; nor shall 
I ever flirt with the oldest daughter. I should like 
to believe that our little house will teem with aunts 
and cousins when Prue and I are gone ; but how can I 



122 Prue and I 

believe it, when there is a milliner within three doors, 
and a hair-dresser combs his wigs in the late dining- 
room of my opposite neighbour? The large aunt 
from the country is entirely impossible, and as Prue 
feels it, and I feel it, the needles seem to click a dirge 
for that late lamented lady. 

" But at least we have one relative, Prue." 

The needles stop : only the clock ticks upon the 
mantel to remind us how ceaselessly the stream of 
time flows on that bears us away from our cousin 
the curate. 

When Prue and I are most cheerful, and the world 
looks fair we talk of our cousin the curate. When 
the world seems a little cloudy, and we remember that 
though we have lived and loved together, we may 
not die together we talk of our cousin the curate. 
When we plan little plans for the boys and dream 
dreams for the girls we talk of our cousin the curate. 
When I tell Prue of Aurelia whose character is every 
day lovelier we talk of our cousin the curate. There 
is no subject which does not seem to lead naturally to 
our cousin the curate. As the soft air steals in and 
envelopes everything in the world, so that the trees, 
and the hills, and the rivers, the cities, the crops, and 
the sea, are made remote, and delicate, and beautiful, 
by its pure baptism, so over all the events of our little 
lives, comforting, refining, and elevating, falls like a 
benediction the remembrance of our cousin the curate. 

He was my only early companion. He had no 
brother, I had none : and we became brothers to 
each other. He was always beautiful. His face was 
symmetrical and delicate ; his figure was slight and 
graceful. He looked as the sons of kings ought to 
look : as I am sure Philip Sidney looked when he 
was a boy. His eyes were blue, and as you looked 
at them, they seemed to let your gaze out into a 
June heaven. The blood ran close to the skin, and 
his complexion had the rich transparency of light. 
There was nothing gross or heavy in his expression 
or texture ; his soul seemed to have mastered his 



Our Cousin the Curate 123 

body. But he had strong passions, for his delicacy 
was positive, not negative : it was not weakness, 
but intensity. 

There was a patch of ground about the house 
which we tilled as a garden. I was proud of my 
morning-glories, and sweet peas; my cousin culti- 
vated roses. One day and we could scarcely have 
been more than six years old we were digging 
merrily and talking. Suddenly there was some kind 
of difference; I taunted him, and, raising his spade, 
he struck me upon the leg. The blow was heavy for 
a boy, and the blood trickled from the wound. I burst 
into indignant tears, and limped toward the house. 
My cousin turned pale and said nothing, but just as 
I opened the door, he darted by me, and before I 
could interrupt him, he had confessed his crime, and 
asked for punishment. 

From that day he conquered himself. He devoted 
a kind of ascetic energy to subduing his own will, 
and I remember no other outbreak. But the penalty 
he paid for conquering his will, was a loss of the 
gushing expression of feeling. My cousin became 
perfectly gentle in his manner, but there was a want 
of that pungent excess, which is the finest flavour of 
character. His views were moderate and calm. He 
was swept away by no boyish extravagance, and, 
even while I wished he would sin only a very little, I 
still adored him as a saint. The truth is, as I tell 
Prue, I am so very bad because I have to sin for two 
for myself and our cousin the curate. Often, when 
I returned panting and restless from some frolic, 
which had wasted almost all the night, I was rebuked 
as I entered the room in which he lay peacefully 
sleeping. There was something holy in the profound 
repose of his beauty, and, as I stood looking at him, 
how many a time the tears have dropped from my hot 
eyes upon his face, while I vowed to make myself 
worthy of such a companion, for I felt my heart own- 
ing its allegiance to that strong and imperial nature. 

My cousin was loved by the boys, but the girls 



124 Prue and I 

worshipped him. His mind, large In grasp, and 
subtle in perception, naturally commanded his com- 
panions, while the lustre of his character allured 
those who could not understand him. The ascetic- 
ism occasionally showed itself a vein of hardness, or 
rather of severity in his treatment of others. He did 
what he thought it his duty to do, but he forgot that 
few could see the right so clearly as he, and very few 
of those few could so calmly obey the least command 
of conscience. I confess I was a little afraid of him, 
for I think I never could be severe. 

In the long winter evenings I often read to Prue 
the story of some old father of the church, or some 
quaint poem of George Herbert's and every Christ- 
mas Eve, I read to her Milton's Hymn of the Nativ- 
ity. Yet, when the saint seems to us most saintly, 
or the poem most pathetic or sublime, we find our- 
selves talking of our cousin the curate. I have not 
seen him for many years ; but, when we parted, his 
head had the intellectual symmetry of Milton's, with- 
out the puritanic stoop, and with the stately grace 
of a cavalier. 

Such a boy has premature wisdom he lives and 
suffers prematurely. 

Prue loves to listen when I speak of the romance 
of his life, and I do not wonder. For my part, I find 
in. the best romance only the story of my love for her, 
and often as I read to her, whenever I come to what 
Titbottom calls "the crying part," if I lift my eyes 
suddenly, I see that Prue's eyes are fixed on me with 
a softer light by reason of their moisture. 

Our cousin the curate loved, while he was yet a 
boy. Flora, of the sparkling eyes and the ringing 
voice. His devotion was absolute. Flora was flat- 
tered, because all the girls, as I said, worshipped him ; 
but she was a gay, glancing girl, who had invaded 
the student's heart with her audacious brilliancy, and 
was half surprised that she had subdued it. Our 
cousin for I never think of him as my cousin, only 
wasted away under the fervour of his passion. His 



Our Cousin the Curate 125 

life exhaled as incense before her. He wrote poems 
to her, and sang- them under her window, in the 
summer moonlight. He brought her flowers and 
precious gifts. When he had nothing else to give, he 
gave her his love in a homage so eloquent and beauti- 
ful that the worship was like the worship of the wise 
men. The gay Flora was proud and superb. She 
was a girl, and the bravest and best boy loved her. 
She was young, and the wisest and truest youth loved 
her. They lived together, we all lived together, in 
the happy^valley of childhood. We looked forward to 
manhood as island-poets look across the sea, believing 
that the whole world beyond is a blest Araby of spices. 

The months went by, and the young love con- 
tinued. Our cousin and Flora were only children still, 
and there was no engagement. The elders looked 
upon the intimacy as natural and mutually beneficial. 
It would help soften the boy and strengthen the girl ; 
and they took for granted that softness and strength 
were precisely what were wanted. It is a great pity 
that men and women forget that they have been 
children. Parents are apt to be foreigners to their 
sons and daughters. Maturity is the gate of Para- 
dise, which shuts behind us; and our memories are 
gradually weaned from the glories in which our 
nativity was cradled. 

The months went by, the children grew older, and 
they constantly loved. Now Prue always smiles at 
one of my theories ; she is entirely sceptical of it ; but 
it is, nevertheless, my opinion, that men love most 
passionately, and women most permanently. Men 
love at first and most warmly ; women love last and 
longest. This is natural enough ; for nature makes 
women to be won, and men to win. Men are the 
active, positive force, and, therefore, they are more 
ardent and demonstrative. 

I can never get farther than that in my philosophy, 
when Prue looks at me, and smiles me into scepticism 
of my own doctrines. But they are true, notwith- 
standing. 



126 Prue and I 

My day is rather past for such speculations ; but 
so long as Aurelia is unmarried, I am sure I shall 
indulge myself in them. I have never made much 
progress in the philosophy of love ; in fact, I can 
only be sure of this one cardinal principle, that when 
you are quite sure two people cannot be in love with 
each other, because there is no earthly reason why 
they should be, then you may be very confident that 
you are wrong, and that they are in love, for the 
secret of love is past finding out. Why our cousin 
should have loved the gay Flora so ardently was hard 
to say ; but that he did so, was not difficult to see. 

He went away to college. He wrote the most 
eloquent and passionate letters ; and when he returned 
in vacations, he had no eyes, ears, nor heart for any 
other being. I rarely saw him, for I was living away 
from our early home, and was busy in a store learn- 
ing to be book-keeper but I heard afterward from 
himself the whole story. 

One day when he came home for the holidays, he 
found a young foreigner with Flora a handsome 
youth, brilliant and graceful. I have asked Prue a 
thousand times why women adore soldiers and 
foreigners. She says it is because they love heroism 
and are romantic. A soldier is professionally a hero, 
says Prue, and a foreigner is associated with all un- 
known and beautiful regions. I hope there is no 
worse reason. But if it be the distance which is 
romantic, then, by her own rule, the mountain which 
looked to you so lovely when you saw it upon the 
horizon, when you stand upon its rocky and barren 
side, has transmitted its romance to its remotest 
neighbour. I cannot but admire the fancies of girls 
which make them poets. They have only to look 
upon a dull-eyed, ignorant, exhausted roud, with an 
impudent moustache, and they surrender to Italy, to 
the tropics, to the splendours of nobility, and a court 
life and 

"Stop," says Prue, gently; "you have no right 
to say ' girls ' do so, because some poor victims have 



Our Cousin the Curate 127 

been deluded. Would Aurelia surrender to a blear- 
eyed foreig'ner in a moustache? " 

Prue has such a reasonable way of putting these 
things ! 

Our cousin came home and found Flora and the 
young foreigner conversing. The young foreigner 
had large, soft, black eyes, and the dusky skin of 
the tropics. His manner was languid and fascinat- 
ing, courteous and reserved. It assumed a natural 
supremacy, and you felt as if here were a young 
prince travelling before he came into possession of 
his realm. 

It is an old fable that love is blind. But I think 
there are no eyes so sharp as those of lovers. I am 
sure there is not a shade upon Prue's brow that I 
do not instantly remark, nor an altered tone in her 
voice that I do not instantly observe. Do you sup- 
pose Aurelia would not note the slightest deviation 
of heart in her lover, if she had one? Love is the 
coldest of critics. To be in love is to live in a crisis, 
and the very imminence of uncertainty makes the 
lover perfectly self-possessed. His eye constantly 
scours the horizon. There is no footfall so light that 
it does not thunder in his ear. Love is tortured by the 
tempest the moment the cloud of a hand's size rises 
out of the sea. It foretells its own doom ; its agony 
is past before its sufferings are known. 

Our cousin the curate no sooner saw the tropical 
stranger, and marked his impression upon Flora, 
than he felt the end. As the shaft struck his heart, 
his smile was sweeter, and his homage even more 
poetic and reverential. I doubt if Flora understood 
him or herself. She did not know, what he instinct- 
ively perceived, that she loved him less. But there 
are no degjees in love ; when it is less than absolute 
and supreme, it is nothing. Our cousin and Flora 
were not formally engaged, but their betrothal was 
understood by all of us as a thing of course. He did 
not allude to the stranger ; but as day followed day, 
he saw with every nerve all that passed. Gradually 



128 Prue and I 

so gradually that she scarcely noticed it our 
cousin left Flora more and more with the soft-eyed 
stranger, whom he saw she preferred. His treatment 
of her was so full of tact, he still walked and talked 
with her so familiarly, that she was not troubled by 
any fear that he saw what she hardly saw herself. 
Therefore, she was not obliged to conceal anything 
from him or from herself; but all the soft currents 
of her heart were setting toward the West Indian. 
Our cousin's cheek grew paler, and his soul burned 
and wasted within him. His whole future all his 
dream of life had been founded upon his love. It 
was a stately palace built upon the sand, and now 
the sand was sliding away. I have read somewhere, 
that love will sacrifice everything but itself. But our 
cousin sacrificed his love to the happiness of his mis- 
tress. He ceased to treat her as peculiarly his own. 
He made no claim in word or manner that everybody 
might not have made. He did not refrain from seeing 
her, or speaking of her as of all his other friends ; 
and, at length, although no one could say how or 
when the change had been made, it was evident and 
understood that he was no more her lover, but that 
both were the best of friends. 

He still wrote to her occasionally from college, 
and his letters were those of a friend, not of a lover. 
He could not reproach her. I do not believe any man 
is secretly surprised that a woman ceases to love him. 
Her love is a heavenly favour won by no desert of 
his. If it passes, he can no more complain than a 
flower when the sunshine leaves it. 

Before our cousin left college. Flora was married 
to the tropical stranger. It was the brightest of June 
days, and the summer smiled upon the bride. There 
were roses in her hand and orange flowers in her 
hair, and the village church bell rang out over the 
peaceful fields. The warm sunshine lay upon the 
landscape like God's blessing, and Prue and I, not 
yet married ourselves, stood at an open window in the 
old meeting-house, hand in hand, while the young 



Our Cousin the Curate 129 

couple spoke their vows. Prue says that brides are 
always beautiful, and I, who remember Prue herself 
upon her wedding--day how can I deny it? Truly, 
the gay Flora was lovely that summer morning, and 
the throng- was happy in the old church. But it was 
very sad to me, although I only suspected then what 
now I know. I shed no tears at my own wedding, 
but I did at Flora's, although I knew she was marry- 
ing a soft-eyed youth whom she dearly loved, and 
who, I doubt not, dearly loved her. 

Among the group of her nearest friends was our 
cousin the curate. When the ceremony was ended, 
he came to shake her hand with the rest. His face 
was calm, and his smile sweet, and his manner un- 
constrained. Flora did not blush why should she? 
but shook his hand warmly, and thanked him for 
his good wishes. Then they all sauntered down the 
aisle together ; there were some tears with the smiles 
among the other friends ; our cousin handed the bride 
into her carriage, shook hands with the husband, 
closed the door, and Flora drove away. 

I have never seen her since ; I do not even know 
if she be living still. But I shall always remember 
her as she looked that June morning, holding roses in 
her hand, and wreathed with orange flowers. Dear 
Flora ! it was no fault of hers that she loved one 
man more than another : she could not be blamed 
for not preferring our cousin to the West Indian : 
there is no fault in the story, it is only a tragedy. 

Our cousin carried all the collegiate honours but 
without exciting jealousy or envy. He was so reallv 
the best, that his companions were anxious he should 
have the sign of his superiority. He studied hard, he 
thought much, and wrote well. There was no evi- 
dence of any blight upon his ambition or career, but 
after living quietly in the country for some time, he 
went to Europe and travelled. When he returned, he 
resolved to study law, but presently relinquished it. 
Then he collected materials for a history, but suffered 
them to lie unused. Somehow the mainspring was 

K 



130 Prue and I 

gone. He used to come and pass weeks with Prue 
and me. His coming" made the children happy, for 
he sat with them, and talked and played with them all 
day long, as one of themselves. They had no quarrels 
when our cousin the curate was their playmate, and 
their laugh was hardly sweeter than his as it rang 
down from the nursery. Yet sometimes, as Prue 
was setting the tea-table, and I sat musing by the 
fire, she stopped and turned to me as we heard that 
sound, and her eyes filled with tears. 

He was interested in all subjects that interested 
others. His fine perception, his clear sense, his noble 
imagination, illuminated every question. His friends 
wanted him to go into political life, to write a great 
book, to do something worthy of his powers. It was 
the very thing he longed to do himself ; but he came 
and played with the children in the nursery, and the 
great deed was undone. Often, in the long winter 
evenings, we talked of the past, while Titbottom sat 
silent by, and Prue was busily knitting. He told us 
the incidents of his early passion but he did not 
moralize about it, nor sigh, nor grow moody. He 
turned to Prue, sometimes, and jested gently, and 
often quoted from the old song of George Withers, 
I believe : 

" If she be not fair for me, 
What care I how fair she be ?" 

But there was no flippancy in the jesting ; I thought 
the sweet humour was no gayer than a flower upon 
a grave. 

I am sure Titbottom loved our cousin the curate, 
for his heart is as hospitable as the summer heaven. 
It was beautiful to watch his courtesy toward him, 
and I do not wonder that Prue considers the deputy 
book-keeper the model of a high-bred gentleman. 
When you see his poor clothes, and thin, gray hair, 
his loitering step, and dreamy eye, you might pass 
him by as an ineflficient man ; but when you hear his 
voice always speaking for the noble and generous 



Our Cousin the Curate 131 

side, or recounting-, in a half-melancholy chant, the 
recollections of his youth ; when you know that his 
heart beats with the simple emotion of a boy's heart, 
and that his courtesy is as delicate as a girl's modesty, 
you will understand why Prue declares that she has 
never seen but one man who reminded her of our 
especial favourite. Sir Philip Sidney, and that his 
name is Titbottom. , 

At length our cousin went abroad again to Europe. 
It was many years ago that we watched him sail 
away, and when Titbottom, and Prue, and I, went 
home to dinner, the grace that was said that day was 
a fervent prayer for our cousin the curate. Many an 
evening afterward, the children wanted him, and cried 
themselves to sleep calling upon his name. Many an 
evening still, our talk flags into silence as we sit 
before the fire, and Prue puts down her knitting and 
takes my hand, as if she knew my thoughts, although 
we do not name his name. 

He wrote us letters as he wandered about the 
world. They were affectionate letters, full of ob- 
servation, and thought, and description. He ling-ered 
longest in Italy, but he said his conscience accused 
him of yielding to the syrens ; and he declared that 
his life was running uselessly away. At last he came 
to England. He was charmed with everything, and 
the climate was even kinder to him than that of Italy. 
He went to all the famous places, and saw many of 
the famous Englishmen, and wrote that he felt Eng- 
land to be his home. Burying himself in the ancient 
gloom of a university town, although past the prime 
of life, he studied like an ambitious boy. He said 
again that his life had been wine poured upon the 
ground, and he felt guilty. And so our cousin became 
a curate. 

"Surely," wrote he, "you and Prue will be g-lad 
to hear it ; and my friend Titbottom can no long-er 
boast that he is more useful in the world than I. 
Dear old George Herbert has already said what I 
would say to you, and here it is : 



132 Prue and I 

" ' I made a posy, while the day ran by : 
Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie 

My life within this band. 
But time did beckon to the flowers, and they 
My noon most cunningly did steal away. 

And wilher'd in my hand. 

' My hand was next to them, and then my heart ; 
I took, without more thinking, in good part, 

Time's gentle admonition ; 
Which did so sweetly death's sad taste convey, 
Making my mind to smell my fatal day, 

Yet sugaring the suspicion. 

' Farewell, dear flowers, sweetly your time ye spent, 
Fit, while ye lived, for smell or ornament, 

And after death for cures ; 
I follow straight without complaints or grief, 
Since if my scent be good, I care not if 

It be as short as yours.' " 

This is our only relation; and do you wonder that, 
whether our days are dark or bright, we naturally 
speak of our cousin the curate? There is no nursery 
longer, for the children are grown ; but I have seen 
Prue stand, with her hand holding the door, for an 
hour, and looking into the room now so sadly still and 
tidy, with a sweet solemnity in her eyes that I will 
call holy. Our children have forgotten their old play- 
mate, but I am sure if there be any children in his 
parish, over the sea, they love our cousin the curate, 
and watch eagerly for his coming. Does his step 
falter now, I wonder; is that long, fair hair, gray; is 
that laugh as musical in those distant homes as it 
used to be in our nursery; has England, among all 
her good and great men, any man so noble as our 
cousin the curate? 

The great book is unwritten ; the great deeds are 
undone; in no biographical dictionary will you find 
the name of our cousin the curate. Is his life, there- 
fore, lost? Have his powers been wasted? 

I do not dare to say it ; for I see Bourne, on the 
pinnacle of prosperity, but still looking sadly for 
his castle in Spain ; I see Tltbottom, an old deputy 



Our Cousin the Curate 133 

book-keeper, whom nobody knows, but with his 
chivalric heart, loyal to whatever is g-enerous and 
humane, full of sweet hope, and faith, and devotion ; 
I see the superb Aurelia, so lovely that the Indians 
would call her a smile of the Great Spirit, and as 
beneficent as a saint of the calendar how shall I say 
what is lost, or what is won? I know that in every 
way, and by all His creatures, God is served and His 
purposes accomplished. How should I explain or 
understand, I who am only an old book-keeper in a 
white cravat? 

Yet in all history, in the splendid triumphs of 
emperors and king's, in the dreams of poets, the 
speculations of philosophers, the sacrifices of heroes, 
and the ecstasies of saints, I find no exclusive secret 
of success. Prue says she knows that nobody ever 
did more g'ood than our cousin the curate, for every 
smile and word of his is a good deed ; and I, for my 
part, am sure that, althoug"h many must do more 
gfood in the world, nobody enjoys it more than 
Prue and I. 



LOTUS-EATING 



TO 

CHARLES A. DANA 

THE LETTERS 

ORIGINALLY ADDRESSED TO THE EDITOR 

ARE NOW 

AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED TO THE FRIEND 



LOTUS-EATING 



THE HUDSON AND THE RHINE 

July : Neivbiirgh on the Hudson. 

Where could a man meet the summer more 
pleasantly than in the fragrant silence of a garden 
whence have emanated the most practical and poetic 
suggestions toward the greater dignity, comfort and 
elegance of country life? If the aspect of our land- 
scape yearly improves, in the beauty of the houses, 
and in tasteful and picturesque rural treatment, our 
enjoyment of it will be an obligation to Mr. Downing. 

Not four days away from the city, I have not yet 
done roaming, bewildered with the summer's breath, 
through the garden, smelling of all the flowers, and 
returning to lie upon the lawn, and bask, dreaming, 
in the July sun. What a cold word is "beautiful " 
to express the ecstasy which, in some choice moments 
of midsummer, suddenly overwhelms your mind, like 
an unexpected and exquisite thought. 

I found a few late spring-flowers this morning, 
upon the lawn, and welcomed them with Robert 
Herrick's "Greeting to the Violets": 

" Welcome, maids of honour, 
You do bring 
In the Spring, 
And wait upon her. 

She has virgins many, 

Fresh and fair ; 

Yet you are 
More sweet than any. 

You're the Maiden Posies, 

And so graced 

To be placed 
'Fore damask roses. 

139 



140 Lotus-Eating 

Vet though thus respected, 

By-and-by, 

Vou do lie, 
Poor girls, neglected." 

As I lay repeating- these lines, whose melody is as 
delicate as the odour of the flowers they sing, I saw 
the steamer, crowded with passengers, hurrying away 
from the city. For none more than the Americans 
make it a principle to desert the city, and none less 
than Americans know how to dispense with it. So 
we compromise by taking the city with us, and the 
country gently laughs us to scorn. 

Although the day was tropical, on which we left 
New York, the Reindeer ran with us as if we had 
been mere Laplanders, and our way a frozen plain, 
instead of the broad, blue river. It is only in the 
steamer that the Hudson can be truly perceived and 
enjoyed. In the Indian summer, the western shore, 
seen from the railroad, is a swiftly unrolling pano- 
rama of dreams ; yet the rush, and roar, and sharp 
steam-shriek would have roused Rip Van Winkle 
himself, and the dust would have choked and blinded 
him as he opened his eyes. The railroad will answer 
to deliver legislators at Albany, although which 
"side up" is a little uncertain. But the traveller 
w^ho loves the law of beauty and pursues pleasure, 
will take the steamer and secure silence, cleanliness, 
sufficient speed, and an unencumbered enjoyment of 
the landscape. 

If the trains are as thronged as the boats, they do 
well. It was curious to set forth upon a river- 
excursion, surrounded by hundreds bent upon similar 
summer pleasures, and yet see no red hand-book and 
no state-travelling- carriage upon the forward deck, 
with a state-travelling countenance of an English 
milord on the inside, and the ruddy, round cheeks of 
state-travelling Abigails, in the rumble behind. These 
are Rhenish reminiscences. But they are as much 
part of a journey up the Rhine as Drachenfels or 
St. Goar. 



The Hudson and the Rhine 141 

John Bull, upon his travels, is an old joke, as well 
to himself as others ; and the amusement is never 
exhausted. Yet he is the boldest and best of travel- 
lers. He carries bottled ale to Nineveh, and black 
tea to the top of Mont Blanc, and haunts Norwegian 
rivers with the latest improved angling "flies"; but 
he carries integrity, heroism, and intelligence, also. 
His patriotism amounts to prejudice; yet, if there is 
any cosmopolitan, it is John Bull. He takes pride, 
indeed, in asserting his prejudices, and insisting 
upon his black tea everywhere and in all societies. 
But his sublime scepticism of any excellence out of 
England is pleasanter than our crude mixture of 
boastfulness and subserviency. It was remarkable 
during the revolutions of 1848, in Europe, that there 
were no monarchists so absolute as the Americans. 
They declared, almost to a man, that Europe was 
not fit for republicanism. As if time would ripen 
republics from despotism, so that, like mellow pears, 
they would fall off without any confusion ; or as if it 
were the habit of kings to educate their subjects to 
dispense with royalty. 

But it is still very amusing to see how the English 
patronize the continent. They ascend the Rhine 
imperturbably. They evidently feel that they are 
conferring much more honour upon the landscape by 
looking at it, than ever the landscape can give them 
pleasure. This annual overflow of the continent with 
Cockneys is the point of Thackeray's "Kickleburys 
on the Rhine " a picture whose breadth is hardly 
broader than the reality, and which requires you to 
be a traveller fully to enjoy. 

This was the pith of my chat with Willow as we 
sped along under the Palisades, and threaded the 
Highlands. 

Of course these comparisons soon led to the grand 
question which usually consumes the three hours from 
Murray-street to West Point the comparative claims 
of interest in the rivers themselves. 

The first day upon the Rhine is an epoch in the 



J 42 Lotus-Eating 

traveller's memory. I came out of the Tyrol through 
Southern Germany to Heidelberg, and on a brilliant 
July morning took the steamer at Mayence for Bop- 
part, a few miles above Coblentz, and not far below 
St. Goar. It was a soft, windless day. I lay in the 
very bow of the boat, with a Scotch boy going home 
for the summer from his school in Zurich. All day 
he buzzed in my ears stories of Switzerland and 
Scotland, and through his words I saw the misty and 
snowy grandeur of each. Our way was straight over 
the gleaming river, by the open spaces of Nassau 
and the sunny slopes of the vineyards of the Schloss 
Johannisberger, through the narrow pass of Bingen, 
where the Highlands of the Rhine begin, and under 
the Rudesheimer vines and the little castles, it still 
wound onward, every mile revealing the picture 
which fancy had so plainly seen, until in the late 
afternoon I stepped ashore at Boppart. 

On the other side of the river were the ruins of the 
twin castles of "The Brothers," which every reader 
of Bulwer's "Pilgrims of the Rhine" remembers, 
and crossing in a small boat at twilight, we climbed 
the conical hills and rambled and stumbled by moon- 
light among the ruins. The feeling of that evening 
was of the nameless sadness which is always born of 
moonlight in spots of romantic association. Yet it 
would not be possible to experience precisely the 
same thing upon any other than that river. The 
Rhine has its own character, its own romance ; and 
Uhland's ballad with which I accompanied the slow 
dip of the oars, as at midnight we rowed homewards, 
is the music and the meaning of the Rhine.' 

" Many a year is in its grave 
Since I crossed the restless wave, 
And the evening, fair as ever. 
Shines on ruin, rock, and river. 

Then, in this same boat, beside, 
Sat two comrades, old and tried ; 
One with all a father's truth, 
One with all the fire of youth. 



The Hudson and the Rhine 143 

One on earth in silence wrought, 
And his grave in silence sought, 
But the younger, brighter form, 
Passed in battle and in storm. 

So whene'er I turn my eye 

Back upon the days gone by. 

Saddening thoughts of friends come o'er nie, 

Friends, who closed their course before me. 

Yet what binds us friend to friend 
But that soul with soul can blend ? 
Soul-like were those hours of yore : 
Let us walk in soul once more ! 

Take, O boatman, thrice thy fee : 

Take, I give it willingly, 

For, in\'isible to ihee. 

Spirits twain have crossed with me." 

A few evenings afterward I was standing with a 
fellow-countryman upon the terrace of the castle of 
Heidelberg, looking out toward the glorious opening 
of the Neckar valley upon the plain of the Rhine, 
and was severely taken to task by him for my indis- 
creet Rhenish raptures and absolute light-speaking 
of the Hudson. 

" Of course you don't prefer the Rhine ! " exclaimed 
my friend with patriotic ire. 

I contemplated the height of the terrace from the 
ground, and accommodated my answer to it. 

"Yes ! ' for this night only ' I think I do. But I 
have no doubt I shall sleep it off. I am sure I shall 
be better in the morning." 

" Strange words they seemed of slight and scorn, 
My true-love sighed for sorrow. 
And looked me in the face, lo think 
I thus could speak of Yarrow." 

I did not sleep it off, however, that night, at least, 
for a day or two afterward I returned to the Rhine, 
and in my friend's absence carried the question clear 
against the Hudson. 

The difference between the rivers is that of the 
countries. The Rhine is a narrow belt of turbid 
water winding among the vineyards that wall it upon 



144 Lotus-Eating 

each side. In its beautiful reach between Bingen 
and Bonn, the only beautiful part of the river, except 
near Lake Constance, it has no shores "but vineyarded 
hillsides, and occasionally a narrow grain field in 
front of them. There are no trees, no varieties of 
outline, and the vines, regularly planted and kept 
short for wine, not left to luxuriate at length, for 
beauty, are a little formal in their impression. The 
castles the want of which is so lamented upon the 
Hudson shores are not imposing, but romantic. 
They are rather small and toy-like, and stand like 
small sentries upon small hills commanding the 
entrances to small valleys. 

But they are interesting enough to make their own 
traditions, even better than those you read in Mur- 
ray's red-book : and the mass of travellers who merely 
pass in the steamers, when the white glare of noon 
hardens the hills, as if they were sullen, and would 
not reveal their charms to a hasty stare, can have 
but faint idea of the tranquil and romantic beauty 
of the river. 

A river is the coyest of friends. You must love it 
and live with it before you can know it. 

" And you must love him, ere to you 
He will seem worthy of your love." 

The Rhine, after all, is the theme and mistress of 
romance and song although to many of us, that 
fame be only traditional. The Rhine songs, both 
those which directly celebrate its beauty, and those 
which are ballads of life upon its banks, are among 
the most sonorous in the songful German literature. 

It is the Rhine wine, pure Rhenish, the blood of 
the life that blooms along these monotonous hillsides, 
which is the wine poetic, that routs all the temper- 
ance societies. The foliage of the vine itself is fair 
and lustrous. It wreathes the hot hills with a gor- 
geous garland, and makes the day upon the Rhine a 
festival. Then the old crumbling castles, if vague in 
fame, are so much the more suggestive, and from one 



The Hudson and the Rhine 145 

shattered buttress to another, miles away on a distant 
hilltop, the gay vine-garland sweeps, alive now, as 
much as ever, and by the vivid contrast softens the 
suggestion and deepens the delight. 

Near St. Goar you glide under the rock of the 
Lorelei. Henry Heine in one of his tender songs 
relates its mournful tradition, which is the most 
beautiful and wildest of the Rhine. Willow and 
Xtopher and I sing it nightly as we lie on the lawn 
here, watching the moonlight streaming upon the 
river, and to-day Xtopher has translated it without 
letting the aroma escape. The first line of the last 
verse is hard to render. The verb in German ex- 
presses the river embracing the boat and sailor, like 
a serpent in its folds. 

" I know not what it presages, 

This heart with sadness fraught, 
'T is a tale of the olden ages, 
That will not from my thought. 

The air grows cool and darkles, 

The Rhine flows calmly on, 
The mountain summit sparkles 

In the light of the setting sun. 

There sits in soft reclining 

A maiden wondrous fair, 
With golden raiment shining, 

And combing her golden hair. 

With a comb of gold she combs it, 
And combing, low singeth she, 

A song of a strange, sweet sadness, 
A wonderful melody. 

The sailor shudders as o'er him 

The strain comes floating by, 
He sees not the cliffs before him. 

He only looks on high. 

Ah ! round him the dark waves flinging 
Their arms, draw him slowly down, 

And this with her wild, sweet singing 
The Lorelei has done." 

Mendelssohn was to have written an opera upon 
this story and had already commenced it, but iho 

L 



146 Lotus-Eating 

king of Prussia, who is fond of the classics, ordered 
the composer, who was the royal director of music, 
to write an overture and choruses for the Antigone. 
We have lost in that opera the companion of Don 
Giovanni; in a different kind, of course, for Mozart 
was all melody, and Mendelssohn had only rhythm. 
In his music the melody is like a faint perfume in a 
dreamy south wind. How long must we wait for 
another Fine-ear to detect and interpret those weird 
melodies of the Lorelei? 

These are the genuine delights of the Rhine. 
They are those of romantic association and sugges- 
tion. They are those which are only possible in an old 
and storied country. It is not what you see there, 
but what you feel through what you see, that charms 
you. The wild grape in our woods is pleasant from 
the association with the Rhenish vineyards, and they 
in turn from their association with the glory of the 
grape in all literature and tradition. The Rhine is a 
lyric, or a ballad. 

Avoid the steamer, if you can, and in some country 
market-boat float at evening or morning along its 
shores, following the wildest whim of fancy, with 
Uhland in one pocket and a flasche of Rudesheimer 
in the other, dozing away the noon in the coolest 
corner of some old ruin, and dreaming of Ariadne as 
you drift, sighing, beneath the moonlighted vine- 
yards. Then you, too, will exasperate some chance 
friend at Heidelberg, and believe in the Rhine, for 
that night only. 

I know that romance is in the poet's heart, and 
not in the outward forms he sees. But there is a 
technical material of romance the moonlight, a 
ruin, an Italian girl, for instance which is useful in 
begetting a romantic mood of mind, as a quotation 
will often suggest verses that haunt you all day long. 
And it is in this material that the Rhine is so rich. 

The Hudson, however, is larger and grander. It 
is not to be devoured in detail. No region without 
association, is, except by science. But its spacious 



The Hudson and the Rhine 147 

and stately character, its varied and magnificent 
outline, from the Palisades to the Catskill, are as 
epical as the loveliness of the Rhine is lyrical. The 
Hudson implies a continent behind. For vineyards 
it has forests. For a belt of water, a majestic stream. 
For graceful and grain-goldened heights it has im- 
posing mountains. There is no littleness about the 
Hudson, but there is in the Rhine. Here everything 
is boldly touched. What lucid and penetrant lights, 




rj^-^'*,-; ^^.-:::.'>'-. 



what broad and sober shadows ! The river moistens 
the feet, and the clouds anoint the heads, of regal 
hills. The Danube has, in parts, glimpses of such 
grandeur. The Elbe has sometimes such delicately 
pencilled effects. But no European river is so lordly 
in its bearing, none flows in such state to the sea. 

Of all our rivers that I know, the Hudson, with 
this grandeur, has the most exquisite episodes. Its 
morning and evening reaches are like the lakes of 
dreams. Looking from this garden, at twilight, 
toward the huge hills, enamelled with soft darkness, 
that guard the entrance of the Highlands, near West 
Point, I "would be a merman bold," to float on the 
L 2 



148 Lotus-Eating 

last ray through that mysterious gate to the softest 
shadow in Cro' Nest, where, if I were a merman 
bold, I should know the culprit fay was sleeping. 
Out of that dim portal glide the white sails of sloops, 
like spectres : they loiter languidly along the bases 
of the hills, as the evening breeze runs after them, 
enamoured, and they fly, taking my fascinated eyes 
captive, far and far away, until they glimmer like 
ghosts and strand my sight upon the distance. 

These tranquil evening reveries are the seed of 
such beautiful and characteristic harvests as the 
Hudson tales of the Sketch Book and Knicker- 
bocker's History. And rubbing those golden grains 
upon his eyes, Darley has so well perceived the spirit 
of the river, that in a few simple forms, in the 
vignette of his illustrations of Rip Van Winkle, he 
has seized its suggestion and made it visible. Nor 
will any lover of the Hudson forget its poet, Joseph 
Rodman Drake, who in his "Culprit Fay" shows 
that the spirits of romance and beauty haunt every 
spot upon which falls the poetic eye. If a man would 
touch the extremes of experience in a single day, I 
know not how it could be better done, than by step- 
ping upon a steamer, after a long bustling morning 
in Wall-street, and reading the "Culprit Fay" by 
moonlight upon the piazza of the hotel at W^est Point, 
looking up the river to Cro' Nest. 

It was a happy fortune for the beauty of the river 
that steam did not drive away the sails. It was 
feared that the steamers would carry all the freight, 
and so bereave the river of the characteristic and 
picturesque life of the white-sailed sloops. But 
economy was on the side of beauty this time, and it 
was found cheaper to carry heavy freights by sail, as 
of old. So the sloops doze and dream along, very 
beautiful to behold from the banks, and sometimes, 
awakened as they enter the Highlands by a sudden 
stoop from some saucy gust coquetting with the hills, 
they bend and dip, and come crowding toward us 
through the grim mountain gate,, like a troop of 



Catskill 149 

white-winged pilgrims fluttering and flying from the 
Castle of Giant Despair. 

You see I have heard the Hudson syrens : perhaps 
some faint, far-off strain of that lullaby of silence 
that soothed old Rip to his mountain nap. And 
while I smell Florida and the Tropics, as I sit under 
the branching magnolia, it goes clear and clean 
against the Rhine. But when, leaving the garden, 
and sitting under the foliaged trellises of the piazza, 
we see the moon rise over the opposite mountains 
the ghost of the summer day drawing the outline 
of the Warwick vase more delicately in shadow upon 
the sward than ever the skilful artist carved it in 
marble, then a glimpse of Grecian beauty penetrates 
and purifies the night; while, within doors. Willow's 
hands dream upon the keys of the piano, and singing, 
sad and sweet enough to silence the Lorelei, com- 
pletes the discomfiture of the Rhine. 

In the moonlight and the music Xtopher and I are 

but 

" Such stuff as dreams are made of," 
until 

"From tower on tree-top high, 

The sentry elf his call has made, 
A streak is in the eastern sky, 

Shapes of moonlight ! flit and fade ! 
The hill-tops gleam in morning's spring, 
The sky-lark shakes his dappled wing, 
The day-glimpse glimmers on the lawn, 
The cock has crowed and the fays are gone ! " 



CATSKILL 

[tily : The Mountain House. 

The lYeto World is a filagree frame-work of 
white wood surrounding a huge engine, which is 
much too conspicuous. I am speaking, by the bye, 
of the Hudson steamer; and yet, perhaps, the symbol 



150 Lotus-Eating 

holds for the characteristic expression of the nation. 
For just so flimsy and overfine are our social arrange- 
ments, our peculiarities of manner and dress, and 
just so prominent and evident is the homely practical 
genius that carries us forward, with steam-speed, 
through the sloop-sluggishness of our compeers. 

A sharp-faced, thought-furrowed, hard-handed 
American, with his anxious eye and sallow com- 
plexion, his nervous motion and concentrated expres- 
sion, and withal, accoutred for travelling in blue coat 
with gilt buttons, dark pantaloons, patent leather 
boots, and silk vest hung with charms, chains, and 
bits of metal, as if the Indian love of lustre lingered 
in the Yankee, is not unlike one of these steamers, 
whose machinery, driving it along, jars the cut glass 
and the choice centre-tables and crimson-covered 
lounges, and with a like accelerated impetus, would 
shiver the filagree into splinters. 

Yet for all this the New World is a very pleasant 
place. It has a light, airy, open and clean deck, 
whence you may spy the shyest nook of scenery upon 
the banks, and a spacious cabin, where you do not 
dine at a huge table, with eager men plunging their 
forks into dishes before you, and their elbows into 
your sides, but quietly and pleasantly as at a Parisian 
cafe. What an appalling ordeal an American table 
d'hote is ! What a chaos of pickles, puddings and 
meats ! and each man plunging through everything 
as if he and the steamer were racing for victory. 
The waiters, usually one third the necessary num- 
ber, rush up and down the rear of the benches, and 
cascades of gravies and sauces drip ominously along 
their wake. It is the seed-time of dyspepsia, and 
Dickens in that anti-American novel, which none of 
us can read without feeling its injustice, has yet 
described, only too well, an American ordinary. 

W^ho can wonder that we are lantern-jawed, lean, 
sickly and serious of aspect, when he has dined on 
a steamer or at a great business hotel? We laugh 
very loftily at the Rhine dinners in which the pud- 



Catskill 151 

ding and fish meet in the middle of the courses. 
But a Rhine dinner upon the open, upper deck of the 
steamer, is quiet and orderly and inoffensive, while 
one of our gregarious repasts must needs offend every 
man vi'ho has some regard for proprieties and some 
self-respect. 

And Catskill? 

Yes, we are rapidly approaching, even while we 
sit on deck and our eyes slide along the gentle green 
banks, as we meditate American manners and the 
extremes that meet in our characteristics. Beyond 
Poughkeepsie a train darts along the shore, rattling 
over the stones on the water's edge, and rolling with 
muffled roar behind the cuts and among the heavy 
foliage. So nearly matched is our speed, that until 
the locomotive ran beside us, I did not know how 
rapid was our silent movement. But there is heat 
and bustle and dust in the nervous little train, which 
winds along, like a jointed reptile, while with our 
stately steamer there is silence, and the cool, con- 
stant patter of the few drops, where our sharp prow 
cuts the river. 

A little above Poughkeepsie the river bends, and 
the finest point is gained. It is a foreground of cul- 
tivated and foliaged hills of great variety of outline, 
rising as they recede, and ranging, and towering at 
last along the horizon, in the Catskill mountains. It 
was a brilliant day, and the heavy, rounding clouds 
piled in folds along the line of the hills taking, at 
length, precisely their own hue, and so walling up 
the earth with a sombre, vaporous rampart, such as 
Titans and fallen angels storm. As we glided 
nearer, keen flashes darted from the wall of cloud, 
and as if riven and rent with its sharpness, the heavy 
masses rolled asunder ; then more heavily piled 
themselves in dense darkness, fold overlying fold, 
while the startled wind changed, and rushed down 
the river, chilled, and breathing cold before the storm. 

No longer a wall, but a swiftly advancing and 
devastating power, the storm threw up pile upon pile 



152 Lotus-Eating 

of jagged blackness into the clear, tender blue of the 
afternoon, and there was a wail in the hurried gusts 
that swept past us and over us, and the river curled 
more and more into sudden waves, which were foam- 
tipped, and scattered spray. 

We were now abreast of the mountains, and far 
behind them the storm had burst. Down the vast 
ravines that opened outward toward the river, I saw 
the first softness of the shower skimming along the 
distant hillsides, moister and grayer, until they were 
merged in mist. Deep into those solemn mountain 
forests leaped the lightning, and the echo of its 








wrathful roar surged and boomed among the hills, 
and dashed far up the cliffs and dark hemlock slopes, 
and crashed over the gurgling brooks, where was 
none to hear but the trees and the streams, and they 
were undismayed, and in the shuddering breeze of the 
pauses the trees rustled and whispered to the streams, 
and the streams laughed to themselves the strange, 
sweet, mystical laughter that Undine laughed. 

"They roll their nine-pins still, among the Cats- 
kill," said Olde. 

"And there's a ten-strike," interposed Swans- 
downe, as a mighty bolt burst among the hills, but 



Catskill 153 

still toward the inner valleys, for the slope toward 
the river yet stood" in cold, dark, purple distinctness. 

The breeze was cool and strong- as we landed at 
Catskill. We were huddled ashore rapidly, the 
board was pulled in, and the Ne-w World disap- 
peared. I proposed riding- up to the Mountain 
House on the outside of the coach, but Olde smiled 
and said, " I shall go inside." 

Now Olde loves scenery as well as any man, poet 
or painter, but he holds that a drenching rain de- 
stroys both the beauty of the scene and the capacity 
for enjoyment of the seer, and while I stood with my 
hand upon the door, my common-sense thoroughly 
convinced, as well by his action as by his words, but 
my carnal heart lusting after the loveliness of the 
cloud-crowned and shower-veiled mountains, there 
came another ten-strike that suddenly shook a cloud 
to pieces over our heads and down it came. 

"I think I shall go inside, too," I said, as I 
stumbled up the steps and closed the door. 

During the first eight miles of the inland drive 
toward the Mountain House, I enjoyed the prospect 
of six travellers, four stained leather curtains, and 
the two wooden windows of the door. It was not 
cool inside the coach, but without, the wind was in 
high frolic with the rain, and through the slightest 
crevice the wily witch dashed us with her missiles, 
cold and very wet. Then the showers swept along a 
little, and we threw up the curtains and breathed 
fresh air, and about three miles from the Mountain 
House, where the steep ascent commences, Olde and 
Swansdowne and I jumped out of the stage and 
walked. The road is very firmly built, and is for- 
tunate in its material of a slaty rock, and in the 
luxuriance of foliage, for the tangled tree-roots hold 
the soil together. 

The road climbs at first in easy zigzags, and pres- 
ently pushes straight on through the woods, and 
upon the side of a steep ravine ; the level-branched 
foliage sheering regularly down, sheeting the moun- 



154 Lotus-Eating 

tain side with leafy terraces. Between the trunks 
and down the gorges we looked over a wide but 
mountainous landscape, and as we ascended, the air 
became more invigorating with the greater height 
and the coolness of the shower. Two hours before 
sunset we stood upon the plateau before the Moun- 
tain House, 2,800 feet above the sea. 

There is a fine sense of height there, but all moun- 
tain views over a plain are alike. You stand on the 
piazza of the Mountain House and look directly down 
into the valley of the Hudson, with only a foreground, 
deep beneath you, of a lower layer than that on 
which you stand, with its precipice of pine and hem- 
lock. The rest stretches then, a smooth surface to 
the eye, but hilly enough to the feet, when you are 
there, to an unconfined horizon at the north and 
south, and easterly to the Berkshire hills. 

Through this expanse lies the Hudson, not very 
sinuous, but a line of light dividing the plain. In 
the vague twilight atmosphere it was very effective. 
Sometimes the mist blotted out individual outlines, 
and the whole scene was but a silver-gray abyss, 
and the hither line of the river was the horizon, 
and the stream itself a white gleam of sky beyond. 
Then the distance and the foreground were mingled 
in the haze, a shining opaque veil, wherein the 
river was a rent, through which beamed a remote 
brightness. Or the vapours clustered toward the 
south and the stream flowed into them, flashing 
and far, as into a terrene cloud-land. All the coun- 
try was chequered with yellow patches of ripe grain, 
and marked faintly with walls and fences, and 
looked rather a vast domain than a mountain-ruled 
landscape. 

Whoever is familiar with mountain scenery will 
know what to anticipate in the Catskill view. The 
whole thing is graceful and generous, but not 
sublime. Your genuine mountaineer (which I am 
not) shrugs his shoulder at the shoulders of moun- 
tains which soar thousands of feet above him and are 



Catskill 155 

still shaggy with forest. He draws a long breath 
over the spacious plain, but he feels the want of 
that true mountain sublimity, the presence of lonely 
snow-peaks. 

And as we always require in scenery of a similar 
class, similar emotions, there is necessarily a little 
disappointment in the Catskill. They are hills rather 
than mountains. But, as they have the fame of 
mountains, you are recalling your Alpine impres- 
sions, all the way up. It is not very wise, perhaps, 
but i*- is very natural and rather unavoidable. Yet, 
when the night falls, the silence and coolness of your 
lofty home impart the genuine mountain tone to 
your thoughts. Then you begin to acknowledge the 
family resemblance, and to remember Switzerland. 

When I was on the Faulhorn, the highest point 
in Europe upon which a dwelling-house is placed, 
and that inhabited for three months only in the year, 
I stepped out in the middle of the night, and as I 
looked across the valley of Grindelwald and saw the 
snow-fields and ice-precipices of all the Horns 
never trodden and never to be trodden by man 
shining cold in the moonlight, my heart stood still 
as I felt that those awful peaks and I were alone 
in the solemn solitude. Then I felt the significance 
of Switzerland, and knew the sublimity of moun- 
tains. 

And do you remember, said Olde, how delicately 
the dawn touched those summits with cool, bright 
fingers, and how their austerity burned and blushed 
under that caressing, until the sunrise overwhelmed 
them with rosy flame, and they flashed perfect day 
far over Switzerland; and hours afterward, when 
day was old upon the mountain-tops, how gentlemen- 
travellers turned in their beds in the valley inns, and 
said, "Hallo, Tom, the sun is rising"? 

The Mountain House is really unceremonious. 
You are not required to appear at dinner in ball 
costume, and if you choose, you may scramble to the 
Falls in cowhide boots and not in varnished pumps. 



156 Lotus-Eating 

The house has a long- and not ill-proportioned 
Corinthian colonnade, wooden of course, and glaring 
white. The last point, however, is a satisfaction from 
below, for its vivid contrast with the dark green forest 
reveals the house from a great distance upon the 
river. The table is well supplied, but Olde and 
Swansdowne were forced to throw themselves upon 
the compassion of the chambermaid, (I would say 
Femme-de-Chamhre, if a single eye, slopping shoes, 
and a thick, cotton handkerchief pinned night-cap- 
wise over the head, would possibly allow that sug- 
gestive word,) and to submit that a towel of the 
magnitude of a small mouchoir, (they did not say 
mouchoir,) was not large allowance for two full- 
grown men. The dame's answer had gravity and 
instance. 

"Gentlemen, how can I give you what we have 
not?" 

A written placard around the house announced 
that dancing music could be had at the bar. But 
none wished to polk and how music could be made 
in that parlour, which seemed to have been dislocated 
by some tempestuous mountain ague, remains a 
mystery to me. There are eight windows, and none 
of them opposite to any of the others ; folding-doors 
which have gone down the side of the room in some 
wild architectural dance, and have never returned, 
and a row of small columns stretching in an inde- 
pendent line across the room, quite irrespective of 
the middle. It is a dangerous parlour for a nervous 
man. 

We sat on the edge of the precipice, looking off 
into the black abyss of night. Swansdowne told wild 
tales of crazy men in lonely nooks of Scotland, and 
Olde talked of Italy. They were pleasant days, he 
said, which shall return no more. 

" My eyes are full of childish tears, 
My heart is idly stirred, 
For the same sound is in my ears, 
That in those days I heard. 



Catskill Falls 157 



Thus fares it still in our decay, 

And yet the wiser mind 
INIourns less for what age takes away 

Than what it leaves behind." 



CATSKILL FALLS 

ritly. 

I DID not see the sun rise from the Catskill. There- 
fore my more cunning way would be to give you a 
florid history of all the sunrises that I have seen from 
famous places, omitting mention of the chills, yawns, 
and, in general, very amehorated admiration of such 
early spectacles. 

Quite unwittingly I was conscious of no sunrise 
that bright Sunday morning upon the Catskill ; yet 
I was not scornful of it but only sleepy. 

Not scornful, for still flashes along the heights of 
memory many a Swiss sunrise. That of the Righi, 
for instance, with the groups of well-whiskered Eng- 
lishmen and well-booted Americans, gathered upon 
the Culm, and wrapt in coats, cloaks, blankets, and 
comforters as if each had arisen, bed and all, and 
had so stepped out to enjoy the spectacle. A wooden 
horn was blown, much vague sentiment was uttered, 
and the exceeding absurdity of the crowd interfered 
with the grandeur of the moment. 

But beyond these and above them were the peaks 
of the Mid-Alps, celestial snow-fields, smooth and 
glittering as the sky, and the rugged glaciers sloping 
into unknown abysses, Niagaran cataracts frozen in 
foam for ever. There were lesser mountains in the 
undulating mass of the panorama, green and grace- 
ful, or angular with sharp cliffs, sheering perpen- 
dicularly away, or gently veering into the glassy 
calmness of cold lakes, in which the night had bathed 
and left its blackness. There was the range of the 



158 Lotus-Eating 

Jura, dusky and far, and the faint flash of the Aar 
in the morning- mist, and among these awful moun- 
tains, and upon them, spots of fame, poetic and 
patriotic, each one the home of a thousand traditions, 
each the melody of myriad household songs. It was 
the region of William Tell all around me. 

The keen, cool breath of early morning smote me, 
as with the heroic spirit of the story, and the senti- 
ments and memories of the spot brightened into 
significance with the increasing dawn. And as we 
stood there, too shivering to be sentimental for the 
breath which lives "with death and morning on the 
silver horns," blew every feeling away that was not 
genuine and fair far over the hushed tumult of 
peaks which thronged to the utmost east, came the 
sun, sowing those sublime snow-fields with glorious 
day. The light leaped from peak to peak, the only 
thing alive, glad and gay, worthy to sport with those 
worthy mates, until the majestic solemnity of the 
moment yielded to the persuasive warmth of day, 
and cur hearts yearned for the valley. 

Do you remember in Tennyson's "Princess," the 
"small, sweet idyl," which she read? 

" Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height ; 
What pleasure Hves in height, (the shepherd sang,) 
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills ? 
But cease to move so near the heavens, and cease 
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted pine. 
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire ; 
And come, for Love is of the valley, come. 
For Love is of the valley, come thou down 
And find him ; by the happy threshold, he. 
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize. 
Or red with spirted purple of the vats, 
Or fox-like in the vine ; nor cares to walk 
With Death and Morning on the Silver Horns, 
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine. 
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice, 
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls. 
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors : 
But follow ; let the torrent dance thee down 
To find him in the valley ; let the wild 
Lean-headed eagles yelp alone, and leave 



Catskill Falls 159 

The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill 

Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke, 

That like a broken purpose waste in air : 

So waste not thou : but come ; for all the vales 

Await thee ; azure pillars of the hearth 

Arise to thee ; the children call, and I 

Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound, 

Sweeter thy voice; but every sound is sweet ; 

Myriads of livulets hurrying through the lawn, 

The moan of doves in immemorial elms. 

And murmuring of innumerable bees." 

Rememberings these things, when I came down and 
found Olde and Swansdowne under the Corinthian 
colonnade, I did not feel as if I had seen nothing, 
although I had lost the Catskill sunrise, which, they 
told me, was a magnificent effect of slanting light 
over a level floor of fleecy clouds, much more mag- 
nificent, indeed, than any polar ocean could be, except 
those that poets see. 

It was a clear, crystal morning ; and after break- 
fast those who were disposed, repaired to the village 
of Catskill, twelve miles away, to church. I believe 
there were not very many. Some of the rest of us 
looked mountainward. The more distant hills for 
there are none lost in mist so far as to seem most 
distant were sharply drawn, purply cold, and 
rounded with foliage up the sides. Over the 
summit we went, and down the purple glen, toward 
the throbbing heart of the Catskill. 

"And on that morning thro' the grass, 
And by the steaming rills, 
We travelled merrily to pass 
A day among the hills." 

The road to the Falls is most unromantically dis- 
tinguishable. A coach load was to follow, but we 
scorned coaches mighty mountaineers that we were ! 
and went cheerily along past the lake, dark and cold 
enough to have a dreary tradition, while the vibrant, 
liquidly-gurgling song of the wood-thrush poured 
through the trees, and a solitary, flaming golden-rod 
nodded autumn to us as we passed. It is a walk 



i6o Lotus-Eating 

through the woods a wood-road to a finger-post that 
says curtly, "To the Falls"; and then down into a 
dell to a very new and very neat white house and a 
bar-room, with a balcony over the abyss. 

The proprietor of the bar-room is also the genius 
of the Fall, and drives a trade both with his spirits 
and his water. In fact, if your romantic nerves can 
stand the steady truth, the Catskill Fall is turned on 
to accommodate poets and parties of pleasure. 

The process of "doing " the sight, for those who 
are limited in time, is very methodical. You leave 
the hotel and drive in a coach to the bar-room. You 
"refresh." You step out upon the balcony, and look 
into the abyss. The proprietor of the Fall informs 
you that the lower plunge is eighty feet high. It 
appears to you to be about ten. You laugh in- 
credulously he smiles in return the smile of a mens 
conscia recti. "Would you step down and have the 
water turned on ? " You do step down a somewhat 
uneven but very safe staircase. You reach the bot- 
tom. " Look ! now it comes ! " and the proud cascade 
plunges like a freed force into the air and slips, 
swimming in foam, away from your gaze. 

You would gladly stay all day. But the sage of 
the party looks at his watch remembers dinner 
deems it time to think of returning; and you climb 
the staircase step upon the balcony throw a last 
look into the abyss down the blue mistiness of the 
winding valley whose repose leads your thought far 
into eternal silence and summer, and mounting the 
coach you are boxed up again and delivered at the 
Mountain House just as the dinner-bell rings. 

This is ludicrous. But most of us are really only 
shop-keepers, and natural spectacles are but shop- 
windows on a great scale. People love the country 
theoretically, as they do poetry. Very few are heroic 
enough to confess that it is wearisome, even when 
they are fatigued by it. The reason of which reluct- 
ance I suppose to be a lurking consciousness that we 
ought to love it, that we ought to be satisfied and 



Catskill Falls i6i 

glad among the hills and under the trees, and that if 
we are not, it is because the city has corrupted us 
because the syren has sung away our strength. The 
distaste which many clever persons feel for Words- 
worth may often be traced to a want of sympathy 
with his intense and personal enjoyment of nature. 
It is incredible to them, and seems inflated if not 
false. 

This want of direct pleasure and exhilaration in 
nature is a matter of regret, as would be the want of 
love for flowers. A man who has it is never friend- 
less. The wildest or rarest day flushing the land- 
scape with its own character, is his companion and 
his counsellor. "The mountains are a feeling," the 
streams are books that babble without nonsense, and 
the coming and going of the year, as he marks it 
upon the budding and fading leaf, is the swelling 
and dying of celestial music in his heart. Happily 
no man is always insensible. He cannot always 
escape the electrical shock of natural grandeur and 
beauty. A noble landscape, a cataract, a mountain, 
impresses him imperially, but as vaguely and blindly 
as a great hero surprises pedlers and pettifoggers. 

Olde and Swansdowne and I, citizens too, de- 
scended the perpendicular staircase to the rock pave- 
ment, which, hollowed into a basin in the centre, 
receives the first long fall. You may picture the 
general effect of the scene from below by fancying 
a mountain stream followed up the natural valley 
between two mountains, until it is checked by an 
abrupt rocky precipice, stretching from one hillside 
to the other directly across the ravine, and half-con- 
cavely pointing down the valley. Directly over the 
centre of the parapet of this rocky wall flows the 
Fall. At first it is only the surplus of a dammed 
mill-stream, (I beg pardon,) but beyond the mill and 
the dam, nature has claimed her own again, and 
reels the slight stream away, a thread of airy silver, 
wreathing into rainbow spray. 

Indeed, so slight is the Fall, when not turned on, 
u 



1 62 Lotus-Eating 

but only dripping through the gate, that there is but 
a single shoot of watery arrows in Indian file, an 
appearance which any observer of cascades will 
understand. It is about the volume of the Swiss 
Staubbach, when it has fallen some four hundred 
of its nine hundred feet toward the green lawns of 
Lauterbrunnen, which it moistens as spray and never 
reaches as a fall, except during a "spell of weather," 
the dissolution of spring, or some other time unseen 
of Dr. Syntax, and the hunters of the picturesque. 

The first effect of the Catskill Falls is very simple 
and beautiful. Seen from the highest platform, after 
you have descended and are looking up, it has a quiet 
grandeur, even, which declines into picturesqueness 
when you pass below the second broken fall that 
pours away into the gorge, whence it steals off, sing- 
ing, between the heavily wooded hillsides. The great 
rock, over which flows the first fall, is hollowed out, 
a little above the level of the basin into which it 
plunges, and you can walk, stooping a little, quite 
around and behind the thin, flickering fall. It has a 
delicate spray of its own, too, when the wind scatters 
it into the sunlight which touches it into diamond 
dust; and very gracious was the sun that morning, 
for when, after our arrival below, the coaches arrived 
above, and the parties descended, the ladies glided 
and shrank along under the rock a motley troop of 
white ladies of Avenel, if you will, except that for her 
the fall parted, and she did not stoop but droop 
and as they came around, where the wind had waved 
the cascade in spray to cool them, the sun flashed 
suddenly from behind the fleecy clouds, and arched 
them with a rainbow. What could the Catskill do 
more for them, since it could not part like the Fall 
of Avenel, and frame them in living silver, as they 
passed beneath? 

They all came down to the level of the second fall, 
and there, clustered upon the rocks, we awaited the 
"turning on," or rather the artificial spring and 
limitative effects of snow-melting upon the moun- 



r 



atskill Falls 



163 



tains, produced by our friend of the " Refreshment 
Saloon," whose Httle building perched upon the cliff, 
at the very point of the fall, with its friendly basket 
far overhanging the ravine upon an outstretched 
pole, like that of an old well, is extremely effective 
and recalls vaguely those desert convents from whose 
high walls hang baskets, the sole communication 
with the world, except through posterns bolted and 
barred. 

The fall swelled suddenly, and in a moment, a 
downward volley of flashing arrows of light plunged 
into the basin beneath. It 
flaked into spray as it fell, 
and sheeted the basin near 
it with foam, and the mist 
steamed up into the con- 
cave abyss, and clouded it, 
as if to veil the fall in its 
most majestic moment. It 
was of the same character 
still, but developed into 
fulness ; and the second 
fall, pouring over a cres- 
cent of rock brilliantly 
greened with grass and 
light foliage, and of pic- 
turesquely broken outline, 
overflowed at crevices and 
points unseen before, and 
a graceful group of rills 
danced attendance upon 
each side of the chief fall. 

Down to the basin of this we descended, and com- 
manded both cascades. But my pen commands no 
colours, and the neutral tint of words will not glow 
with the flashing water and the rich, serious green 
of the banks of foliage, nor seize the movement of 
the clouds June clouds, that swam fleecily back- 
ward directly over the cascade, adding the sympathy 
of motion in the moist blue sky to that of the falling 
M 2 




164 Lotus-Eating 

water. This was a rare and exquisite effect. The 
round, white clouds hung low, and as they swept 
swiftly backward, seemed to pass through the very 
narrow dent of rock which the cascade had worn, as 
if its own spray had curled into compact clouds, and 
was so hurrying back again to feed the fountain. 

The groups of loiterers exhausted words but not 
delight, and after resting a little upon the rocks, 
climbed the cliff again homeward. We lingered 
below. Swansdowne with rapid pencil was tracing 
the general outline of the appearance of the full fall. 
Olde and I were lying at length gossiping of Swit- 
zerland, and watching the shifting splendours of the 
day, and the fall, as the gate was closed, gradually 
dwindled, wasting from that full-bodied maturity, 
and sinking again into infantine weakness and un- 
certainty. 

There is a feeling of life in moving water, and the 
poets call it living water, when it flows freshly and 
clear. Therefore, we could not watch it, as if pining 
away, without a little regret, not at the loss of our 
own pleasure, but at its loss of life. Its song in the 
ravine behind us grew fainter, subsiding at last into 
a uniform, gentle gurgling. Whether a solitary in 
a slouched hat upon the hillside below us, with 
tablets in hand, was measuring that murmur into 
verse I shall never know. But certainly the music 
of the song I shall never forget. 

Sunday stillness brooded over the day. Sweet and 
sacred it was like the memory of George Herbert, 
and his was the hymn we sang that Sunday at the 
Catskill Falls. 

" Sweet day ! so cool, so calm, so bright ; 
The bridal of the earth and sky : 
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night ; 
For thou must die. 

Sweet rose ! whose hue, angry and brave. 

Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye ; 
Thy root is ever in its grave ; 
And thou must die. 



Catskill Falls 165 

Sweet Spring ! full of sweet days and roses ; 

A box where sweets compacted lie ; 
My music shows ye have your closes : 
And all must die. 

Only a sweet and virtuous soul, 

Like seasoned timber never gives : 
But, though the whole world turn to coal, 
Then chiefly lives." 

We walked down the stream for a mile afterwards, 
and I advise every one to do the same, crossing at 
the usual place, and stumbling over the rocks a little 
at first, but at last pushing smoothly on. The path 
leads you to a pleasant opening where the water 
polishes a broad pavement, and where bits of the 
picturesque abound. With his delicately sensitive 
artistic eye, Swansdowne glanced among the trees, 
and from time to time, announced "a Kensett," as 
a broad bit of mossed rock, or a shapely stretch of 
trees with the mountain outline beyond, recalled the 
poetic accuracy and characteristic subjects of that 
artist. 

And so, finding the stones, poems and pictures, as 
well as sermons, we voted, of course, to finish the 
day at the Fall. A neat and well-cooked dinner in 
the very small and clean new house near the pictur- 
esque bar-room, (seen from below,) consoled us for 
the loss of the Mountain House ordinary, and, as we 
dined, a wind furious enough for November, a very 
cataract of a wind, dashed and swept along the 
mountain-sides, and Swansdowne and I did privately 
shiver, (it was the 20th of July,) until we sallied 
forth and climbed down the rock again to the first 
platform. 

The water was unchained for us, and the lihes in 
the extremest depths of the ravine that grow beyond 
the edge of the usual flowing, were folded once more 
before sunset in its crystal caresses. The western 
light streaming up the ravine was of tenderer tone 
than that of morning, and our thoughts grew ten- 
derer too. Our chat was of Italy now, no longer of 



1 66 Lotus-Eating 

Switzerland, and the tranquil sunset closed over a 
day that will sing- as pleasantly through memory as 
the stream through the solitary dell. 

"To-morrow to fresh fields and pastures new." 



TRENTON 

/illy. 

In Longfellow's delicious proem to the "Waif," he 
invokes the singing of a song of rest. Sometimes, 
urges the poet, let us escape the battle cry and the 
bugle call, and repose that we may the better wrestle. 

" Such songs have power to quiet 

The restless pulse of care, 

And come like the benediction 

That follows after prayer." 

Trenton is that summer song of rest. 

Only lovely images haunt its remembrance, beauti- 
ful as the Iris which, in some happy moment of the 
ramble through the ravine, spans the larger or lesser 
fall. Beauty and grace are its praises. You hear 
them from those who are either hurrying to the 
grandeur of Niagara, or from those who, return- 
ing, step aside at Utica to enjoy the music of the 
greater cataract, softened here at Trenton into an 
exquisite echo. 

It matters little when you see these Falls, whether 
before or after Niagara. The charm of Trenton is 
unique, and you will not scorn the violets and lilies 
because you knelt to the passion-flowers and roses. 
In the prime of a summer which, from the abundant 
rains, is singularly unworn and unwithered, a day 
at Trenton, because of its rare and picturesque, but 
harmonious, attractions, is like a feast of flowers. In 
some choice niche of memory you will lay it aside, 
not as a sublime statue nor a prophetic and solemn 



Trenton 167 

picture, but as a vase most delicate, symmetrical if 
slight, and chased with pastoral tracery. 

From Albany its Campagna-like suburbs once 
passed a pleasant day made pleasant pictures of 
the broad, rich, tranquil landscape. The country 
gained, possibly, in tenderness of aspect that I 
glanced at it in the intervals of reading Hawthorne's 
"Seven Gables," and as the heat increased, the 
monotonous clatter of the cars grew soothing as the 
airy harpsichord of the fair Alice, dead centuries ago, 
and persuaded my mind into Clifford's vague and 
dreamy mood. Floating thus along the fascinating 
verge of slumber, I opened my eyes upon the placid 
picturesqueness of the actual landscape, and anon 
closed them to behold, instantly, the enchanted 
scenery of sleep. It was a meet approach to Trenton, 
a passage through a dream-frescoed corridor, pierced 
with windows that looked into the real world. In 
every garden, as we hurried on, wherever was an old 
tree and a hint of the "moated grange," (they are not 
many on that railroad,) I looked to see the soft-souled 
Clifford, Alice Pyncheon, and the high-hearted Hep- 
zibah, seated in the shadow and wondering at the 
world. 

But when the petulant bell rang two o'clock at 
Utica, dreams vanished, and I emerged into a 
crowded and confused station, and was whirled 
among porters, luggage, barrows, rival coachmen, 
bells, gongs, and steam, to the hotel. The regular 
coach to Trenton had left upon the arrival of the 
preceding train, but there were several white-hatted 
individuals of extremely conciliatory and persuasive 
manners, who launched instantly into extravagant 
praises of various stages, wagons, and other car- 
riages, all offering the most delightful and easy 
method of reaching the Falls. 

But it was singular to an inquiring mind to remark 
that whenever you descended to particulars, as to 
hours, and numbers, and carnages, these romances 
instantly reeled away into the most astonishing 



1 68 Lotus-Eating 

vagueness, and while you fancied one moment that 
you heard the noise of the fall, the next it was a very 
indistinguishable and quite inaudible object in the 
vista of a prolonged perspective. The fact was that 
these men who manifested so laudable an interest in 
your getting to Trenton, comfortably and speedily, 
wished only to secure your promise to go, and would 
"arrange" afterward. Remember that when you 
come, and act accordingly. 

It was clear that nothing could be done until after 
dinner, which was dispatched, and while I quietly 
consumed a noxious weed, and patiently awaited my 
prospects, a short, thick-set, English-looking gentle- 
man crossed the passage and suggested to my fancy 
that "Two horsemen might have been seen slowly 
mounting a hill." But before I proceeded further in 
the natural reflections of the moment, my co-Tren- 
tonians appeared in the shape of a party of twelve ; 
just a coach-load with their luggage, and my own 
coach-prospects began to dwindle dolefully. Then 
came the tug of war, and truly "no pent-up Utica " 
contracted the powers of those rival coach-agents, 
for I never heard so sharp a struggle for a freight. 

The landlord was forced to interfere, while 1 and 
the "two horsemen" stood aside, I, for my part, 
wincing at every moment of the tranquil summer 
afternoon wasted from Trenton. Presently there was 
a lull in the war, but no victory, and when a quiet 
man led me quietly aside, and asked my views of a 
little open wagon, and a separate and rapid drive to 
Trenton, I found they entirely coincided with his, 
and within a few moments I was rolling across the 
spacious, sunny plain of the Mohawk. 

But mark the chances of life, nor dream of doing 
"an old stager." My private conveyance, the quiet 
suggestion of my quiet man, was the property of 
the very agent who had first accosted me, and who, 
as I thought, had dropped me from mind as a mere 
single passenger. Not he. Given, a party of twelve 
together, on the one hand, and a party of one upon 



Trenton 169 

the other, to furnish a coach to the first, at $ ! and 
a wagon to the other, at $ ! ! was his problem, 
and it was solved. Genius had made this man an 
emperor of nations ; fate had placed him in authority 
over horses and hunters of the picturesque. 

My charioteer was a fine boy of sixteen. He 
whipped along over the plank-road, and gossiped 
of the horses, the people, and the places we passed. 
He was sharp-eyed and clear-minded a bright boy, 
who may one day be President. As we were slowly 
climbing the hill : 

"Have you heard Jenny Lind, sir? " inquired my 
Antinous of the stables. 

"Yes, often." 

"Great woman, sir. Don't you think so? " 

"I do." 

" She was here last week, sir. Get up, Charlie ! " 

" Did you hear her? " I asked. 

"Yes, sir, and I drove with her to the Falls that 
is, Tom Higgins drove, but I sat on the box." 

" And was she pleased ? " 

"Yes, sir; only when she was going to see the 
Falls, everybody in the hotel ran to the door to look 
at her, so she went back to her room, and then 
slipped out of the back door. But there was some- 
thing better than that, sir." 

"What was that? " 

" She gave Tom Higgins fifty dollars when he 
drove her back. But there was something still better 
than that, sir." 

" Indeed ! what was that?" 

"Why, sir, as we came back, we passed a little 
wood, and she stopped the carriage, and stepped out 
with the rest of the party, and me and Tom Higgins, 
and went into the wood. It was towards sunset and 
the wood was beautiful. She walked about a little, 
and picked up flowers, and sung, like to herself, as 
if it were pleasant. By and by she sat down upon 
a rock and began to sing aloud. But before she 
stopped, a little bird came and sat upon the bough 



170 Lotus-Eating 

close by us. I saw it, sir, with my own eyes, the 
whole of it and when Jenny Lind had done, he began 
to sing and shout away like she did. While he was 
singing she looked delighted, and when he stopped 
she sang again, and oh ! it was beautiful, sir. But 
the little bird wouldn't give it up, and he sang again, 
but not until she had done. Then Jenny Lind sang 
as well as ever she could. Her voice seemed to fill 
the woods all up with music, and when it was over, 
the little bird was still a while, but tried it again in 
a few moments. He couldn't do it, sir. He sang 
very bad, and then the foreign gentlemen with Jenny 
Lind laughed, and they all came back to the 
carriage," 

We had left the plank-road and were approaching 
the hotel at the Falls through fine maple woods. It 
was pleasant to hear the boy's story. Was it a poor 
prelude to Trenton? I had not dreamed that the 
romance of the Poet's Lute and the Nightingale 
should be native to Oneida county no less than to 
Greece, and that its poet should be my callow 
charioteer, who may one day be President. When 
I sat at my window afterward and in the fading 
twilight looked over the maple woods, and heard the 
murmur of Trenton Falls, I wondered if the bird 
ever reached its nest, or was found dead in the woods 
without a gun-shot wound. 

There is no better hotel than that at Trenton. It 
is spacious, and clean, and comfortable, and the table 
justifies its fame. Moreover, it is painted dark and 
not white, and stands very modestly on the edge of 
the woods that overhang the ravine of the Falls. 
Modestly, although it is high, for the glaring, white 
caravanseries, our summer palaces of pleasure, wear 
the flaunting aspect of being no better than they 
should be. Happy were we, were they always as 
good ! 

Poets' fancies only should image the Falls, they 
are so rich and rare a combination of quiet pictur- 
esqueness of beauty, and a sense of resistless force 



Trenton 



171 



in the rushing waters. You descend from a lofty 
wood into a long, rocky chasm, which the Germans 
would call a Grund, for it is not a valley. It is 
walled and pavemented with smooth rocks, and the 
thronging forest fringes the summit of the wall. 




^ --^'tii^s^jj^^fc- 



Over this smooth pavement 

slips the river, in those 

long, swift, still, foamless 

bounds, which vividly figure 

the appalling movement of a titanic 

serpent. The chasm almost closes 

up the river, and you see a foamy 

cascade above. Then, as if the best 

beauty and mystery were beyond, 

you creep along a narrow ledge in the rockside of the 

throat of the gorge, the water whirling and bubbling 

beneath, and reach the first large Fall. A slight 

spray enfolds you as a baptism in the spirit of the 

place. A broad ledge of the rock here offers firm 

and sufficient foothold while you gaze at the Falls. 




172 Lotus-Eating 

Before you is a level parapet of rock, and the river, 
after sliding- very shallowly over the broad bed above, 
concentrates mainly at one point for a fall, and 
plunges in a solid amber sheet. 

Close by the side of this you climb, and pass along 
the base of the overhanging mountain, and stooping 
under the foot of an imperial cliff, stand before the 
great Fall, which has two plunges, a long one above, 
from which the river sheers obliquely over a polished 
floor of rock, and again plunges. The river bends 
here, and a high, square, regular bank projects from 
the cliff, smooth as a garden terrace, and perpetually 
veiled and softened by the spray. It is one of the 
most beautiful and boldest points in the long ravine, 
and when the late light of afternoon falls soft upon 
it, there is a strange contrast in your feelings as 
visions of Boccaccio's garden mingle with the wild- 
ness of American woods. 

Upon the cliff above this great Fall is a little house 
where the weary may rest, and those who find 
"water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink," 
may pledge the spirit of Trenton, in that kind, if not 
that quality, of nectar which Boccaccio himself would 
have desired. Here, under the densely-foliaged trees 
sit musing above the Fall, and watch the broad stream 
concentrate as it nears the verge ; and then from the 
deep dark indigo of the pool collected there, see it 
pour itself away, a fall of brilliant amber, into the 
light streaming warmly from the west up the ravine. 
As you, musing, gaze, your own fancy will flow from 
the sombreness of serious thought, and pour itself 
away in a spray of romance and reverie, far through 
the golden gloom of the past and the bright-hued 
hope of the future that streams toward you like the 
light from the west. 

You will recall the European falls of fame ; you 
will hear once more the glad Velino "cleave the 
wave-worn precipice," and mark the dark eyes of 
Italian girls, who steal to your side as you listen, 
and say, as if the dark eyes whispered it, "n bai- 



Trenton 1 73 

occho, Signore.^' You will see the Sibylline temple, 
high-crowning the cliff at Tivoli, and once more, over 
the sea-surface, but silent and motionless, of the 
Campagna, your eye will rest upon St. Peter's dome, 
rising mountain-like from the plain, and Beatrice 
d'Este will glide a pallid phantom, along the marble- 
floored, cypress-gloomed terraces of the villa. The 
thousand Alpine cascades of Switzerland will flicker 
through your memory, slight avalanches of snow- 
dust, shimmering into rainbow-mist, and the Rhine, 
beneath your back window in the hotel at Schafl"- 
hausen, will plunge once more over its little rocky 
barrier, sending its murmur far into the haunted 
depths of the Black Forest beside you. Or, farther 
and fainter still, the rapids of the Nile and the rills 
of Lebanon will rush and gurgle, as you did not 
dream to hear them again, nor will your fancy rest 
until it sinks in the oriental languor of the banks of 
Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus. 

Wild is the witchery of water, and the spell en- 
chanted, which its ceaseless flowing weaves. Such 
pictures were in that amber Fall. Such echoes 
answered those silver cadences. Such names, and 
places, and memories are now the synonyms of 
Trenton. But for you and for others it may sing 
different songs. An organ of many stops, it dis- 
courses sweet music in all. Not like the airy harpsi- 
chord of the fair Alice, dead centuries ago, tuned 
to a single strain, but like the heart of the young 
Phoebe, gushing gaily or gravely, according as the 
sun or shadow overswept it. 

There is something especially pleasant in the tran- 
quil, family-like character of the house at Trenton. 
It is by far the best hostelry of the kind that I have 
encountered in my summer wandering ; and, lying 
away from any town or railroad, the traveller seems 
to have stepped back into the days when travelling 
was an event and not a habit, and when the necessity 
of moderation in speed imposed a corresponding 
leisure in enjoyment. Doubtless the railroad makes 



174 Lotus-Eating 

us move mentally, as well as physically, with more 
rapidity. The eye sees more in hfe, but does the 
heart feel more, is experience really richer? Haste 
breeds indigestion, but happiness lies, first of all, in 
health. 

The man who in the quiet round of life has made 
friends with every object of the landscape he knows, 
who sees its changes, and sympathizes with them, 
and who has learned from a single tree what men 
have exhausted all libraries and societies without 
finding he is of better, because of profounder, ex- 
perience than his friend who has raced over half the 
world in a twelve-month, and whose memory is only 
a kaleidoscope. A mile horizontally on the surface 
of the earth does not carry you one inch toward its 
centre, and yet it is in the centre that the gold mines 
are. A man who truly knows Shakespeare, only, is 
the master of a thousand who have squeezed the cir- 
culating libraries dry. 

Do not fail to see Trenton, It is various-voiced. 
It is the playing of lutes on the moonlight lawn as 
Stoddard delicately sings. It is well to listen for it 
in the pauses of the steam-shriek of our career. For 
if once your fancy hears its murmur, you will be as 
the boatman who catches through the roar of the 
Rhine, the song of the Lorelei, and you too will be 
won to delicious repose. 

" But thou, who didst appear so fair 

To fond imagination, 
Dost rival in the h'ght of day, 

Her delicate creation : 
Meek loveliness is round thee spread, 

A softness still and holy : 
The grace of forest charms decayed, 

And pastoral melancholy. 

The vapours linger round the height ; 

They meet and soon must vanish : 
One hour is theirs, nor more is mine, 

Sad thought, which I would banish. 



Niagara 175 



But that I know, where'er I go, 
Thy genuine image, Yarrow, 

Will dwell with me, to heigliten jo)'. 
And cheer my mind in sorrow." 



NIAGARA 



Angus t. 



The Rapids before Niagara are not of water only. 
The Cataract is the centre of a vortex of travel a 
maelstrom which you scarcely suspect until you are 
swimming round in its intense swiftness, and feel 
that you are drawn nearer and closer, every moment, 
to an awful and unimagined Presence. 

The summer-bird of a traveller who skims up the 
Hudson dippingly, wending Niagara-ward, if he has 
never seen the Falls, and has heard of them all his 
life, loiters along his way, quite unimpressed by the 
anticipation of his bourne, whose image has lost 
much of its grandeur in his mind by the household 
familiarity of the name. It is somewhat so with 
Switzerland after a residence in Europe. You 
approach half languidly, more than half suspicious 
that the fixed stare of the world has melted the 
glaciers, and the snow sifted along inaccessible, rocky 
crevices, or at least has sadly stained them, and that 
even the Alps have been lionized into littleness. But 
some choice evening, as if the earth had suddenly 
bared her bosom to the glowing kiss of the dying 
day, you behold from Berne or Zurich the austere 
purity of the snow-Alps, incredibly lofty, majestic 
and awful, and the worship of remembrance is for 
ever after, living and profound. 

So I came sauntering along through Western New 
York, (sauntering by steam ! and yet the mind may 
loiter, may remain fast and firm behind, although 
the body flies,) and turned aside with my presidential 



176 Lotus-Eating 

Antinous at Trenton, nor once paused to listen 
through its graceful whisper for the regal voice 
beyond. In the ravine of Trenton you meet some 
chance friend returning from the great cataract, and 
sit with him upon the softest rock, where you can 
well watch the beautiful amber-fall the while, and 
curiously compare, at the last moment, your own 
fancies, with the daguerrean exactness of his fresh 
impression. But, after all, it is only curiously. You 
dream and wonder vaguely, and comparisons are 
constantly baffled by the syren singing of the falling 
waters which will have no divided love. Allured by 
the beauty in whose lap you lie, your friend's present 
praises are much sincerer and more intelligible than 
his remembered raptures. 

Such a friend I met and we discussed Niagara. 
But as he told his story, I was placing the stairs here, 
and towers there, about the rocks ; and the great 
sheet and the little sheet were before us; and Goat 
Island smiled greenly in the bold, beautiful bank, 
which, like a verdured terrace, hung toward the 
stream from an enchanted palace in the pines ; and 
when the tale was told, I had a very pleasant, if 
somewhat incongruous, fancy of Niagara, as a kind 
of sublimed Trenton. 

And still, with memory clinging to the amber 
skirts of Trenton, I rushed along on a day that veiled 
the outline of the landscape with scudding gusts of 
mist, through the most classical of all American 
regions through Rome, and Manlius, and Syracuse, 
and Camillus, and Marcellus ; ruthlessly on, through 
Waterloo, Geneva, East Vienna, Rochester, Cold 
Water, Chili, (natural neighbours !) Byron, Attica, 
and Darien ; then drew breath enough to wonder, 
that with such wealth of names inherited from the 
Indians, we so tenaciously cling to the glories of old 
fames to cover the nakedness of our newness, and 
saw, at the same moment that we had left classi- 
cality, that we had overtaken a name peculiar to our 
continent, and had arrived at Buffalo ! 



Niagara 177 

Why not Bison, Ox, or Wild Horse? And this, 
too, with the waves breaking along the shore of Lake 
Ontario, a majestic and melodious Indian name, 
hitherto unappropriated to a city. No wonder that 
the Buffalo sky thundered and lightened all night, 
from sheer vexation at its loss. I awoke at midnight 
to the music of a serenade that was vainly striving 
to soothe the tempest, and later, the angry clash of 
fire-bells stormed against the storm. But it was not 
comforted or subdued. Still, in the lull of the music, 
and the pauses of the bells, I heard it muttering and 
moaning as it glared: "I, that am Buffalo, might 
have been Ontario." 

But the storm wept itself away, and I awoke at 
morning to find myself upon the verge of the interest 
and excitement which immediately precedes all great 
events. During the previous day I had smiled rather 
loftily at the idea of excitement in approaching 
Niagara ; but when my luggage was checked, and 
I bought a ticket for "Niagara Falls," and stepping 
into the cars, knew that I should not alight until 1 
heard the roar and saw the spray of the cataract ; 
then the sense of its grandeur, of its unique sublimity, 
which I perfectly knew, though I had never seen, 
came down upon me, and smote me suddenly with 
awe as when a man who has loitered idly to St. 
Peter's, grasps the leathern curtain to push it aside, 
that he may behold the magnificence whose remem- 
bered lustre shall illuminate every year of his life. 

It is remarkable that the anti-romance of a rail- 
road is a mere prejudice. The straight lines piercing 
the rounding landscape are essentially poetic, and 
the fervid desire of sight and possession which fires 
the mind upon approaching beloved or famous places 
and persons, takes adequate form in the steam-speed 
of a train which, straight as thought and swift as 
hope, cleaves the country to the single point. In 
the wild woods we do not insist upon the prosaic 
character of the railroad, because we wish to hurry 
through ; and no one, I believe, not even the poets, 

N 



178 Lotus-Eating 

sigh for the good old times of staging from Albany 
to Niagara. 

But, in Europe, in lands of traditional romance, it 
appears at first very differently. A railroad to Venice ! 
"Heaven forefend ! " said I, as I lumbered easily out 
of Florence in a vettura, comfortably accomplishing 
its thirty miles a day. " Heaven forefend ! " said I 
still, as we climbed the Apennines, and descending, 
rolled into the quaint, arcaded Bologna, and listened 
beneath Raphael's St. Cecilia, to hear if no spirit of 
a sound trembled from the harp-strings. " Heaven 
forefend ! " said I still, as we jogged along the Lom- 
bard post-roads, green and golden, and glittering 
with the swaying of vines in the languid wind, hang- 
ing from grave, stiff old poplars, like beautiful, win- 
ning, bewildering arms of loveliness, caressing whole 
perspectives of solemn quaker papas, and festooning 
the road as if the summer were a festival of Bacchus, 
and a jolly rout of bacchanals had but now reeled 
along to the vintage. "Heaven forefend! " said I, 
as we tramped through the grassy streets of Ferrara, 
mouthing uncertain verses from Tasso, and utterly 
incredulous of Byron's fable of songless gondoliers 
beyond : and still, "Heaven forefend ! " said I, as by 
the many-domed cathedral of St. Antony, we mingled 
in the evening Corso, and straining our eyes for the 
University of Padua, alighted at the hotel, thirty or 
forty miles from Venice. But when, the next morn- 
ing, I opened my eyes, and, eschewing the cud of 
dreams, said to myself, "You are thirty miles from 
Venice," I sprang up like one whose marriage-morn 
has dawned, and cried aloud, "Thank God, there is 
a railroad to Venice ! " 

Nor could the speed of that railroad more than 
figure the eagerness of my desire, as it swept us 
through the vineyards. Nor did the dream of Venice 
fade, but deepen rather, for the strange contrast of 
that wild speed, and its eternal, romantic rest. 

I had the same eagerness in stepping upon the cars 
at Buffalo. Within a certain circumference every- 



Niagara 179 

body is Niagarlzed, and flies in a frenzy to the centre 
as filings to the magnet. Before the train stopped, 
and while I fancied that we were slackening speed for 
a way-station I, listening the while to the pleasant 
music of words, that weaned my hearing from any 
roar of waters a crowd of men leaped from the cars, 
and ran like thieves, lovers, soldiers, or what you 
will, to the "Cataract," as the conductor said. I 
looked upon them at once as a select party of poets, 
overwhelmed by the enthusiastic desire to see the 
Falls. It was an error: they were "knowing ones," 
intent upon the first choice of rooms at the " Cataract 
House." I followed them, and found a queue, as at 
the box-office of the opera in Paris a long train of 
travellers waiting to enter their names. Not one 
could have a room yet, (it was ten o'clock,) but at 
half-past two everybody was going away, and then 
everybody could be accommodated. 

And meanwhile? 

Meanwhile, Niagara. 

Disappointment in Niagara seems to be affected, 
or childish. Your fancies m^y be very different, but 
the regal reality sweeps them away like weeds and 
dreams. You may have nourished some impossible 
idea of one ocean pouring itself over a precipice into 
another. But it was a wild whim of inexperience, 
and is in a moment forgotten. If, standing upon the 
bridge as you cross to Goat Island, you can watch 
the wild sweep and swirl of the waters around the 
wooded point above, dashing, swelling, and raging, 
but awful from the inevitable and resistless rush, and 
not feel that your fancy of a sea is paled by the chaos 
of wild water that tumbles toward you, then you are 
a child, and the forms of your thought are not precise 
enough for the profoundest satisfaction in great 
natural spectacles. 

Over that bridge how slowly you will walk, and 
how silently, gazing in awe at the tempestuous sweep 
of the rapids, and glancing with wonder at the faint 
cloud of spray over the American Fall. As the sense 

N 2 



i8o Lotus-Eating 

of grandeur and beauty subdues your mind, you will 
still move quietly onward, pausing- a moment, leaning 
a moment on the railing, closing your eyes to hear 
only Niagara, and ever, as a child says its prayers in 
a time of danger, slowly, and with strange slowness, 
repeating to yourself, "Niagara ! Niagara ! " 

For although you have not yet seen the Cataract, 
you feel that nothing else can be the crisis of this 
excitement. Were you suddenly placed blindfolded 
where you stand, and your eyes were unbandaged, 
and you were asked, " What shall be the result of all 
this? " the answer would accompany the question, 
"Niagara!" 

Yet marvellous calmness still waits upon intense 
feeling. "It was odd," wrote Sterling to a friend, 
"to be curiously studying the figures on the doctor's 
waistcoat, while my life, as I thought, was bleed- 
ing from my lips." We must still sport with our 
emotions. Some philosopher will die, his last breath 
sparkling from his lips in a pun. Some fair and 
fated Lady Jane Grey will span her slight neck with 
her delicate fingers, and- smile to the headsman that 
his task is easy. And we, with kindred feehng, turn 
aside into the shop of Indian curiosities and play 
with Niagara, treating it as a jester, as a Bayadere, 
to await our pleasure. 

Then, through the woods on Goat Island solemn 
and stately woods how slowly you will walk, again, 
and how silently ! Ten years ago, your friend carved 
his name upon some tree there, and Niagara must 
now wait until he finds it, swollen and shapeless with 
time. You saunter on. It Is not a sunny day. It 
is cloudy, but the light is moist and rich, and when 
you emerge upon the quiet green path that skirts the 
English Rapids, the sense of life in the waters the 
water as a symbol of life and human passion fills 
your mind. Certainly no other water in the world is 
watched with such anxiety, with such sympathy. 
The helplessness of its frenzied sweep saddens your 
heart. It is dark, fateful, foreboding. At times, as 



Niagara 



i8i 



if a wild despair had seized it and rent it, it seethes, 
and struggles, and dashes foam-like into the air. Not 
with kindred passion do you regard it, but sadly, 
with folded hands of resignation, as you watch the 
death struggles of a hero. It sweeps away as you 
look, dark, and cold, and curling, and the seething 
you saw, before your thought is shaped, is an eddy 
of foam in the Niagara River below. 

As yet you have not seen the Fall. You are com- 
ing with its waters, and are at its level. But groups 




of persons, sitting upon yonder point, which we see 
through the trees, are looking at the Cataract. We 
do not pause for them ; we run now, down the path, 
along the bridges, into the Tower, and lean far over 
where the spray cools our faces. The living water of 
the rapids moves to its fall, as if torpid with terror; 
and the river that we saw, in one vast volume now 
pours over the parapet, and makes Niagara. It is 
not all stricken into foam as it falls, but the densest 
mass is smooth, and almost of livid green. 

Yet, even as it plunges, see how curls of spray 
exude from the very substance of the mass, airy. 



i82 Lotus-Eatins: 



fe 



sparkling and wreathing into mist emblems of the 
water's resurrection into summer clouds. Looking 
over into the abyss, we behold nothing below, we 
hear only a slow, constant thunder; and, bewildered 
in the mist, dream that the Cataract has cloven the 
earth to its centre, and that, pouring its waters into 
the fervent inner heat, they hiss into spray, and 
overhang the fated Fall, the sweat of its agony. 



NIAGARA, AGAIN 

August. 
" Arethusa arose 

From her couch of snows 
In the Acroceraunian IMountains 

From cloud and from crag 

With many a jag, 
Shepherding her bright fountains, 

She leapt down the rocks, 

With her rainbow locks 
Streaming among the streams : 

Her steps paved with green 

The downward ravine, 
Which slopes to the Western gleams : 

And gliding and springing, 

She went ever singing 
In murmurs as soft as sleep : 

The earth seemed to love her. 

And heaven smiled above her, 
As she lingered toward the deep." 

Shelley would wonder, could he know that these 
lines of his were quoted at Niagara. But Niagara 
is no less beautiful than sublime, although I do not 
remember to have heard much of its beauty. It even 
suggests the personal feeling implied in such verses, 
and which, at a distance, seems utterly incompatible 
with the grandeur of the spot. 

Nature has her partialities for places as well as 



Niagara, again 183 

persons, and as she thrones the Goethean or Web- 
sterian intellect upon "the front of Jove himself," 
so she is quite sure to adorn the feet of her snowy 
Alps with the lustrous green of vineyards, the stately 
shade of chestnuts, or the undulating- sweep of lawn- 
like pastures. Here at Niagara she enamels the 
cliffs with delicate verdure, and the luminous gloom 
of the wood upon Goat Island invites to meditation 
with cathedral solemnity. 

Nothing struck me more than the ease of access to 
the very verge of the Cataract. Upon the narrow 
point between the large and small American falls 
you may sit upon the soft bank on a tranquil after- 
noon, dabbling your feet in the swiftly slipping water, 
reading the most dreamy of romances, and soothed 
by the huge roar, as if you were the vicegerent of 
the prophet, and the flow of the cool, smooth river 
but the constant caressing of troops of slaves, and 
the roar of the Cataract but hushed voices singing 
their lord to sleep. 

But if in your reading you pause, or if the low 
ripple of talk subsides, in which your soul was laved, 
as your frame in the gurgling freshness of wood- 
streams, and your eyes are left charmed upon the 
current or if your dream dissolves and you behold 
the water, its own fascination is not less than that 
of the romance. It flows so tranquilly, is so un- 
impatient of the mighty plunge, that it woos and woos 
you to lay your head upon its breast and slide into 
dreamless sleep. 

"Darkling, I listen ; and, for many a time, 

I have been half in love with easeful Death 
Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme. 

To take into the air my quiet breath : 
Now more than ever seems it rich to die. 
To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 
In such an ecstasy ! 
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain 
To thy high requiem become a sod." 

So sang Keats to the nightingale which sang to 



1 84 



Lotus-Eating 



him, and whoever was really so enamoured could ill 
resist the seduction of the stream at the Falls. For 
in its might subsides all fear. It is a force so resist- 
less, that it would need only a slight step, the merest 
overture of your will. If Niagara were in France, 
I am confident the Frenchmen would make suicide 
pic-nics to the Cataract. Unhappy lovers would take 
express trains, and their "quietus make " where their 
dirge would be endless. The French, of course, 
would add the melodramatic character of such an 
ending to its intrinsic charms, and even John Bull 
might forego the satisfaction of a leap from the Duke 
of York's column for a Niagaran annihilation. 

As you sit, chatting and wondering, upon the bench 
at this point, you are sure to hear the sad romance 
of two years since. A young man caught up a child 
and swung it to and fro over the water only a few 
feet from the precipice, laughing gaily and feign- 
ing fright, when suddenly the child sprang from his 
arms into the rapid. He stepped in instantly, for the 
water near the shore is not more than two feet deep, 
and caught her again in his arms. But the treach- 
erous stones at the bottom were so slippery with the 
constant action of the water, that, although he could 
resist the force of the stream, he could not maintain 
his foothold, and was swept with the child in his 
arms, and his betrothed mistress watching him from 
the bank, directly over the fall. The man who told 
me the story was a musician and had still a low tone 
of horror in his voice ; for he said that, as the young 
man came to the Point, he told him there was to 
be a dance that evening and that he must have his 
music ready. They had scarcely parted, his words 
were yet ringing in his ears, when he heard a curd- 
ling shriek of terror, and knew that "somebody had 
gone over the Falls." 

Niagara has but one interest, and that absorbs all 
attention. The country around is entirely level, and 
covered with woods and grain fields. It is very 
thinly populated ; civilization seems to have made 



Niagara, again 185 

small inroad upon the primeval grandeur of the spot. 
Standing upon the western end of Goat Island and 
looking up the stream the wooded banks stare back 
upon you as in a savage silence of folded arms and 
scornful eyes. They are not fair woods, but dark 




forests. They smite you only with a sense of magnifi- 
cent space, as I fancy the impression of Rocky Moun- 
tain scenery, but which is akin to that of chaos. 

From the spot where stood the young English 
hermit's cottage, upon Goat Island, you front the 
Canada shore. But the name dies along your mind 
almost without echo, even as your voice might call 



1 86 Lotus-Eating 

into those dark forests, but melt from them no human 
response. Canada ! The name is a mist in the 
mind. Slowly and vaguely a few remembrances 
shape themselves. Shadowy and terrible traditions 
of hopeless and heartless Indian wars, which tapped 
the choicest veins of French and English blood, but 
gave no glory in return, half tell themselves in the 
mind, like the croning of a beldame in the chimney 
corner. 

Slowly from the red mist of that vague remembrance 
rise the names of Wolfe and Montgomery and Mont- 
calm, heroes where heroism little availed, for the 
Indian element mingled in the story, and where the 
Indian is, there nobility and chivalry are not. You 
look across the rapids upon a country which has made 
no mark in history ; where few men love to live, ex- 
cept those who have Httle choice ; where the towns are 
stagnant and few ; upon a country whose son no man 
is proud to be, and the barrenness of the impression 
somewhat colours your feelings of Niagara, for the 
American shore is wild too, although the zealous 
activity of the little village at the Falls, and the white 
neatness of Lewiston, below, relieve the sense of 
desolation upon the distant banks. 

The beauty of Niagara is in its immediate neigh- 
bourhood. It is upon Goat Island upon the cliffs 
over which hangs the greenest verdure in the trees 
that lean out and against the Rapids, as if the forest 
were enamoured of the waters, and which overhang 
and dip, suffering their youngest and softest leaves 
to thrill in the trembling frenzy of the touch of 
Niagara. It is in the vivid contrast of the repose 
of lofty trees and the whirl of a living river and in 
the contrast, more singular and subtle, of twinkling, 
shimmering leaves, and the same magnificent mad- 
ness. It is in the profuse and splendid play of 
colours in and around the Cataract, and in the 
thousand evanescent fancies which wreathe its image 
in the mind as the sparkUng vapour floats, a rainbow, 
around the reahty. It is in the flowers that grow 



Niagara, again 



187 



quietly along the edges of the precipices, to the 
slightest of which one drop of the clouds of spray 
that curl from the seething abyss is the suflficient 
elixir of a long and lovely life. 

Yet for we must look the Alpine comparison 



^S<,t7::''M":' 




which is sug 



gested 



to 
every one 
who knows 



Switzerland, 



fairly in the face the Alps 
are more terrible than 



Niagara. 



movement 



and roar of the Cataract, and the I'l^'.^jf^^ 
facility of approach to the very i;' ';)! 
plunge, relieve the crushing sense ','' 
of a.wfulness which the silent, inaccessible, deadly 
solitudes of the high Alps inspire. The war of an 
avalanche heard in those solemn heights, because 
beginning often and ending beyond the point that 
human feet may ever tread, is a sound of dread and 
awe like that of the mysterious movement of another 
world, heard through the silence of our own. 

Besides, where trees grow, there human sympathy 
lingers. Doubtless it is the supreme beauty of the 
edges of Niagara, which often causes travellers to 
fancy that they are disappointed, as if in Semiramis 



1 88 Lotus-Eating 

they should see more of the woman than of the queen. 
But, climbing the Alps, you leave trees below. They 
shrink and retire. They lose their bloom and beauty. 
They decline from tenderness into toughness ; from 
delicate, shifting hues into sombre evergreen darker 
and more solemn, until they are almost black, until 
they are dwarfed and scant and wretched, and are 
finally seen no more. With the trees, you leave the 
sights and sounds and sentiments of life. The Alpine 
peaks are the ragged edges of creation, half blent 
with chaos. Upon them, inaccessible for ever, in 
the midst of the endless murmur of the world, ante- 
mundane silence lies stranded, like the corse of an 
antediluvian upon a solitary rock-point in the sea. 
Painfully climbing toward those heights you may 
feel, with the fascination of wonder and awe, that 
you look, as the Chinese say, behind the beginning. 

But if the Alps are thus death, Niagara is life ; 
and you know which is the more terrible. It is a 
life, however, which you are to observe in many 
ways from below, from above, from the sides, from 
the suspension bridge, and, finally, you must steam 
up to its very front, and then climb down behind it. 

These two latter excursions are by no means to be 
omitted. The little steamer leaves the shore by the 
suspension bridge, and, gliding with effort into the 
current of the river, you remember that there is the 
Cataract before and the whirlpool behind, and sheer 
rocky precipices on each side. But there is only gay 
gossip and pleasant wonder all around you, the 
morning is mild, and the Falls flash like a plunge 
of white flame. Slowly, slowly, tugs the little boat 
against the stream. She hugs the shore, rocky- 
hearted, stiff, straight, prim old puritan of a shore 
that it is, although it is wreathed and crowned with 
graceful foliage. 

Presently comes a puff of cool spray. Is It a 
threat, a kiss, or a warning from our terrible bourne? 
The fussy little captain exhorts everybody to wrap 
in a water-proof cloak and cap ; we shall else be 



Niagara, again 189 

soaked through and through, as we were never 
soaked by shower before. But some of us, beautiful 
daughters of a mother famously fair, love our looks, 
and would fain enjoy everything without making 
ourselves less lovely. 

"Pooh, pooh!" insists our captain, "I wouldn't 
give three cents for them 'ere bunnets," (our choice 
travelling hats !) "if they once get wet." 

So we consent to cloaks, but we positively decline 
India-rubber caps, especially after an advance to six 
cents by a gallant friend upon the captain's bid for 
our "bunnets." The men must shift for themselves. 
Here we are in the roar and the rush and the spray. 
Whew ! it drives, it sweeps, and the steady thunder 
of the Cataract booms, cramming the air with sound. 
Only a few of us hold the upper deck. Nor are we, 
who have no mantles, all unprotected, for shawls 
wont to protect flowers from the summer wind, now 
shield us from the spray of Niagara. 

We sweep along upon our leaf, which quivers and 
skims the foam sweep straight into the blinding 
white, thick, suffocating mist of the Cataract, strain 
our eyes, as we gasp, for the curve of the Fall, for 
the parapet above, and in a sudden break of the 
cloud, through which breathes cold the very air of 
the rush of waters, we catch a glorious glimpse of 
a calm ocean pouring white and resistless from the 
blue sky above into the white clouds below, and 
behold the very image of that Mind's process whose 
might 

" IVroves on 

His undisturbed affairs." 

I glance backward upon the deck, which is raked 
by the scudding gusts of spray, and see a line of wet 
men crouching together, like a group of Esquimaux, 
with their faces upturned toward the Fall. They sit 
motionless, and staring, and appalled, like a troop in 
Dante's "Inferno." But straight before us good 
God ! pilot, close under the bow there, looming 
through the mist ! Are you blind? are you mad? or 



190 Lotus-Eating 

does the Cataract mock our feeble power, and will 
claim its victims? A black rock, ambushed in the 
surge and spray, lowers before us. We are driving- 
straight upon it we all see it, but we do not speak. 
We fancy that the boat will not obey that the due 
fate shall reward this terrific trifling. Straight before 
us, a boat's length away, and lo ! swerving with the 
current around the rock, on and farther, with felici- 
tous daring, the little Maid of the Mist dances up to 
the very foot of the Falls, wrapping herself saucily 
in the rainbow robe of its own mist. There we 
tremble, in perfect security, mocking with our little 
Maid the might of Niagara. For man is the 
magician, as he plants his foot upon the neck of 
mountains, and passes the awful Alps, safely as the 
Israelites through the divided sea, so he dips his hand 
into Niagara, and gathering a few drops from its 
waters, educes a force from Niagara itself, by which 
he confronts and defies it. The very water which as 
steam was moving us to the Cataract, had plunged 
over it as spray a few hours before. 

Or go, some bright morning down the Biddle 
staircase, and creeping along under the cliff, change 
your dress at the little house by the separate sheet 
of the American Fall. The change made, we shall 
reappear like exhausted firemen, or Swampscot 
fishermen. Some of us will not insist upon our 
" bunnets " but will lay them aside and join the 
dilapidated firemen and fishermen outside the house, 
as Bloomerized Undines, mermaids, or naiads. A 
few descending steps of rock, and we have reached 
the perpendicular wooden staircase that leads under 
the Fall. Do not stop dc not pause to look 
affrighted down into that whirring cauldron of cold 
mist, where the winds dart, blinding, in arrowy 
gusts. Now we see the platform across the bottom 
now a cloud of mist blots it out. And it roars so ! 

Come, Fishermen, Mermaids, Naiads, Firemen 
and Undine, down ! down ! Cling to the railing ! 
Lean on me ! Thou gossamer blossom which the 



Niagara, again 191 

softest summer zephyr would thrill, whither will 
these mad gales beneath the Cataract whirl thee ! 
We are here upon the narrow platform ; it is railed 
upon each side, and the drops dash like sleet, like 
acute hail, against our faces. The swift sweep of 
the water across the floor would slide us also into the 
yawning gulf beyond, but clinging with our hands, 
we move securely as in calm airs. And now look up, 
for you stand directly beneath the arching water, 
directly under the fall. The rock is hollowed, and 
the round pebbles on the ground rush and rattle with 
the sliding water as on the sea-beach. You leave 
the platform, you climb between two rocks, and slid- 
ing along a staging, unstable almost as the water, 
yet quite firm enough, you stand directly upon the 
rocks, and Niagara plunges and tumbles above you 
and around you. 

There at sunset, and only there, you may see three 
circular rainbows, one within another. For Niagara 
has unimagined boons for her lovers rewards of 
beauty so profound that she enjoins silence as the 
proof of fidelity. 

Returning, there is an overhanging shelf of rock, 
and there, except that it is cold and wet, you sit 
secluded from the spray. It is a lonely cave, cur- 
tained from the sun by the Cataract, for ever. And 
if still your daring is untamed, you may climb over 
slippery rocks in the blinding mist and the deafening 
roar, and feel yourself as far under the Great 
American Fall as human foot may venture. 

I must stop. If you have been at Niagara, what 
I have written may recall it, but can hardly paint, 
except to remembrance, the austere grandeur and 
dreamy beauties which are its characteristics. Your 
few days there are days upon the river bank, walk- 
ing and wondering. Your frail fancies of it are 
swallowed up as they rise, like chance flowers flung 
upon its current. Many a man to whom Niagara 
has been a hope, and an inspiration, and who has 
stood before its majesty awe-stricken and hushed, 



192 Lotus-Eating 

secretly wonders that his words describing it are not 
pictures and poems. But any great natural object 
a cataract, an Alp, a storm at sea are seed too vast 
for any sudden flowering. They lie in experience 
moulding life. At length the pure peaks of noble 
aims and the broad flow of a generous manhood 
betray that in some happy hour of youth you have 
seen the Alps and Niagara. 



SARATOGA 

August. 
"Wilt thou be a nun, Sophie? 
Nothing but a nun ? 
Is it not a better thing 
With thy friends to laugh and sing ? 
To be loved and sought ? 

To be wooed and won ? 
Dost thou love the shadow, Sophie, 
Belter than the sun ? " 

Romance is the necessary association of watering- 
places, because they are the haunts of youth and 
beauty seeking pleasure. When on some opaline 
May day you drive out from Naples to Baise, the 
Saratoga of old Rome, and in the golden light of 
the waning afternoon drink Falernian while you look 
upon the vineyards where it ripened for Horace, your 
fancy is thronged with the images of Romance, and 
you could listen to catch some echo of a long silent 
love-song, lingering in the air. 

It is a kind of sentimentality inseparable from the 
spot a pensive reverie into which few men are loth 
to fall ; for its atmosphere is " the light that never was 
on sea or land." Yet romance, like a ghost, eludes 
touching. It is always where you were, not where 
you are. The interview or the conversation was 
prose at the time, but it is poetry in memory. 



Saratoga 193 

Thus persons of poetic feeling speak of people and 
events as if they were the figures of a romance and 
are laughed at for seeing everything through their 
imagination. But why is it not as pleasant to see 
through imagination as through scepticism? Why, 
because people are bad, should I be faithless of the 
virtues of a beautiful woman? 

Life is the best thing we can possibly make of it. 
It is dull and dismal and heavy, if a man loses his 
temper : it is glowing with promise and satisfaction 
if he is not ashamed of his emotions. Young America 
is very anxious to be a man of the world. He has 
heard that in England a gentleman is a being of 
sublime indifference, who has exhausted all varieties 
of experience who has, in fact, opened the oyster 
of the world. So Young America cultivates non- 
chalance with the ladies, and cannot help it if he 
does know everything that is worth knowing. To 
every man of thought and perception he is the miser- 
able travesty of a human being, whose social life is 
an injustice and an insult to every woman. 

He does not see that indifference is satiety that 
it is the weakness of a man whom circumstances 
have mastered, and not the sensitive calmness, like a 
lake's surface, of profound and digested experience. 
What is the charm of a belle but her purely natural 
manners? And they are charming, not in themselves, 
but because they harmonize with her nature and 
character. Yet if another person imitates her man- 
ners in the hope of being a belle, the result is at once 
ludicrous and painful. But such musings, however 
suggested by the place, I fancy you will consider the 
sand barren in which Saratoga lies. 

The romance of a watering-place, like other 
romance, always seems past when you are there. 
Here at Saratoga, when the last polka is polked, and 
the last light in the ball-room is extinguished, you 
saunter along the great piazza, with the "good- 
night " of Beauty yet trembling upon your lips, and 
meet some old Habitue, or even a group of them, 
O 



194 Lotus-Eating 

smoking in lonely arm-chairs, and meditating the 
days departed. 

The great court is dark and still. The waning 
moon is rising beyond the trees, but does not yet 
draw their shadows, moonlight-mosaics, upon the 
lawn. There are no mysterious couples moving in 
the garden, not a solitary foot-fall upon the piazza. 
A few lanterns burn dimly about the doors, and the 
light yet lingering in a lofty chamber reminds you 
that some form, whose grace this evening has made 
memory a festival, is robing itself for dreams. 

If courtly Edmund Waller were with you, it would 
not be hard to tempt him to step with you across the 
court to serenade under that window, with the most 
musical and genuine of his verses. 

"Go, lovely Rose ! 
Tell her, who wastes her time and me, 

That now she knows, 
When I resemble her to thee, 
How sweet and fair she seems to be. 

Tell her that's young, 
And shuns to have her graces spied, 

That hadst thou sprung 
In deserts, where no men abide, 
Thou must have uncommended died. 

Small is the worth 
Of beauty from the light retired ; 

Bid her come forth. 
Suffer herself to be desired, 
And not blush so to be admired. 

Then die ! that she 
The common fate of all things rare 

May read in thee 
How small a part of time they share 
That are so wondrous sweet and fair." 

He not being at Saratoga this year you are con- 
tent with looking across the court and remembering 
his song. The moonlight softens your heart as did 
the golden days at Baiae. You, too, seat yourself in 
a lonely arm-chair, and your reveries harmonize with 



Saratoga 195 

the melancholy minor of the old Habitue's reflections. 
You speak to him, musingly, of the "lovely Rose" 
who wastes her time and you. 

"Yes," he responds, "but you should have seen 
Saratoga in her mother's days." 

And while the moon rides higher, and pales from 
the yellow of her rising into a watery lustre, you hear 
stories of blooming belles, who are grandmothers 
now, and of brilliant beaux, bald now and gouty. 
These midnight gossips are very mournful. They 
will not suffer you to leave those, whose farewells yet 
thrill your heart, in the eternal morning of youth, but 
compel you to forecast their doom, to draw sad and 
strange outlines upon the future to paint pictures 
of age, wrinkles, ochre-veined hands and mob-caps 
until your Saratoga episode of pleasure has sombred 
into an Egyptian banquet, with your old, silently- 
smoking, and meditative Habitue for the death's 
head. 

Nor is it strange that you should then repeat to 
him Charles Lamb's "Gipsy's Malison," with its 
fantastic, Egyptian-like sternness. 

" Suck, baby, suck, mother's love grows by giving. 
Drain the sweet founts that only thrive by wasting ; 
Black manhood comes, when riotous, guilty living 
Hands thee the cup that shall be death in tasting. 

Kiss, baby, kiss, mother's lips shine by kises, 
Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings ; 
Black manhood comes, when turbulent, guilty blisses, 
Tends thee the kiss that poisons mid caressings. 

Hang, baby, hang, mother's love loves such forces, 
Shame the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging. 
Black manhood comes, when violent lawless courses 
Leave thee a spectacle in rude air swinging." 

In fact, after a few such midnights, even the 
morning sunshine cannot melt away this Egyptian 
character from the old Habituds. As you cross the 
court, after breakfast, to the bowling-alley, with a 
bevy so young and lovely, that age and mob-caps 
seem only fantastic visions of dyspepsia, and, of 
02 , 



196 Lotus-Eating 

hearts that were never young, you will see them 
sitting, a solemn reality of "black manhood," along 
the western piazza, leaning back in arm-chairs, smok- 
ing perhaps, chatting of stocks possibly, a little 
rounded in the shoulders, holding canes which are no 
longer foppish switches, but substantial and serious 
supports. They are the sub-bass in the various- 
voiced song, the prosaic notes to the pleasant lyric 
of Saratoga life. 

They are not really thinking of stocks, nor are 
they very conscious of the flavour of their cigars, but 
they watch the scene as they would dream a dream. 
As the sound of young voices pulses toward them on 
the morning air, as they watch the flitting forms, the 
cool morning-dresses, the gush of youth overflowing 
the sunny and shady paths of the garden, they are 
old Habitues no longer; they are those gentlemen, 
gallant and gay, dancing in the warm light of bright 
eyes toward a future gorgeous as a sunset, gossip- 
ing humorously or seriously, according as the light 
of eyes is sunshine or moonlight, and it is themselves 
as they were, with their own parties, their own loves, 
jealousies and scandals, moving briskly across the 
garden to the bowling-alley. 

We pass, butterflies of this summer, and the 
vision fades upon their eyes. It was only the image 
of dead days, only the Fata Morgana of the enchanted 
islands they shall see no more, only the ghosts of 
grace and beauty, that witched the world for their 
youth. 

" The inossy marbles rest 
On the lips that they have pressed 

In thtir bloom, 
And the names they loved to hear 
Have been carved for many a year 
On the tomb." 

We stroll down the street to Congress Hall, we 
make a pilgrimage to the piazza, which was the 
Saratoga of our reading and romance to Congress 
Hall, across whose smooth-columned piazza we pass. 



Saratoga 197 

to pay the tribute of our homage to the spot where 
so much love beat in warm hearts and blushed in 
beautiful cheeks. For when Saratoga was first 
fashionable, Congress Hall was the temple of fashion. 

If you observe, while "we youth" (as Falstaff 
would say, were he an old Habitu^,) are grieving 
that the romance is gone, and are regretting its going 
to the companion of our promenade, and are sitting, 
meditative and melancholy, with the Habitues at 
midnight, we are all the while, and therein, tasting 
quite as sparkling a draught of romance as ever our 
revered grandparents quaffed. And no sooner have 
the doors of the " United States " clanged awful upon 
our departure, than sad and sweet faces of remem- 
brance look from all the windows, and in the young, 
feminine fancy, when Saratoga is once left behind, 
the great hotel stands shining like a transfigured 
palace of fairy. 

Be assured, Saratoga is still a golden-clasped, 
illuminated romance for summer reading. Young 
men still linger, loth to fly, and when the trunk must 
be packed, they yet sit gossiping upon the edge of 
the bed, and were you under it, you would hear how 
every Tom Thumb, or Prince Riquet with the tuft, 
was the most chivalric and resistless of King Arthurs ; 
what innumerable fair-haired Preciosas were wonder- 
ing at the same wonderful Arthurs ; and how many 
a Fatima has been rescued, or at least was clearly 
ready to be rescued, from unpolking, stock-jobbing, 
mercantile old Blue Beards. Then, gorged with 
experience, blasd of the world, patronizing and 
enduring life, the royal Arthurs, scorning the heaps 
of broken hearts they leave behind, transfer them- 
selves and their boots to a new realm of conquest at 
Newport, and reduce the most impregnable heart 
with a Redowa, or a fatally fascinating Schottish. 

But while we laugh at Saratoga, its dancing, dress- 
ing, and flirtation, it is yet a "coign of vantage " for 
an observing eye. It is not all dress and dancing. 
Like every aspect of life, and like most persons, it is 



198 



Lotus-Eatino^ 



a hint and suggestion of something high and poetic. 
It is an oasis of repose in the desert of our American 
hurry. Life is leisurely there, and business is amuse- 
ment. 



It is perpetual festival 









The " United States " is 
the nearest hit we 
Americans can make 
to Boccaccio 's garden. 
It is a spacious house, 
admirably kept, with 
a stately piazza sur- 
rounding a smooth 
green lawn, con- 
stantly close-shaven, 
and shadowed with 
lofty trees. Along 
that stately piazza we 
pass to the ball-room, 
and cross that lawn 
under those trees to 
the bowling-alley, and 
the place of spirits. 
We rise and break- 
fast at any time. Then we chat a little and bowl 
till noon. If you choose, you may sit apart and 
converse, instead of bowling, upon metaphysics and 
morals. At noon, we must return to the parlour and 
practise the polka which we have not danced since 
yesterday midnight. There are sofas and comfort- 
able chairs strewn around the room, and, if you have 
reached no metaphysical conclusion, in the bowling- 
alley, you may wish to continue your chat. We 
ladies must go shopping after the polka, and we mere 
men may go to the bath. Dinner then, in our semi- 
toilettes, feeing Ambrose and Anthony to get us 
something to eat, and watching the mighty Morris, 
in an endless frenzy of excitement, tearing his hair, 
whenever a plate, loud-crashing, shivers on the floor. 
After dinner the band plays upon the lawn, and 
we all promenade upon the piazza, or in the walks 



Saratoga 



199 



of the court, or sit at the parlour windows. We 
discuss the new arrivals. We criticize dresses, and 
styles, and manners. We discriminate the arctic 
and antarctic Bostonians, fair, still, and stately, with 
a vein of scorn in their Saratoga enjoyment, and the 
languid, cordial, and careless Southerners, far from 
precise in dress or style, but balmy in manner as a 
bland southern morning. We mark the crisp cour- 
tesy of the New Yorker, elegant in dress, exclusive 
in association, a pallid ghost of Paris without its 




easy elegaiice, its bo7ihotnie, its gracious savoir 
fairCy without the spirituel sparkle of its conversa- 
tion, and its natural and elastic grace of style. We 
find that a Parisian toilette is not France, nor grace, 
nor fascination. We discover that exclusiveness is 
not elegance. 

But while we mark and moralize, the last strain of 
Lucia or Ernani has died away, and it is five o'clock. 
A crowd of carriages throngs the street before the 
door, there is a flutter through the hall, a tripping 
up and down stairs, and we arc bowling along to the 
lake. There is but one drive : everybody goes to 



200 Lotus-Eating 

the lake. And no sooner have we turned by the 
Congress Spring, than we are in the depths of the 
country, in a long, level reach of pines, with a few 
distant hills of the Green Mountains rolling along 
the horizon. It is a city gala at the hotel, but the 
five minutes were magical, and among the pines upon 
the road we remember the city and its life as a winter 
dream. 

The vivid and sudden contrast of this little drive 
with the hotel, is one of the pleasantest points of 
Saratoga life. In the excitement of the day, it is 
like stepping out on summer evenings from the glar- 
ing ball-room upon the cool and still piazza. 

There is a range of carriages at the Lake. A select 
party is dining upon those choice trouts, black bass 
and young woodcock various other select parties 
are scattered about upon the banks or on the piazza, 
watching the sails and sipping cobblers. The descent 
to the Lake is very steep, and the smooth water 
is dotted with a few boats gliding under the low, 
monotonous banks. The afternoon is tranquil, the 
light is tender, the air is soft, and the lapping of the 
water upon the pebbly shore is haply not so musical 
as words spoken upon its surface. 

In the sunset we bowl back again to the hotel. I 
saw most autumnal sunsets at Saratoga, cold and 
gorgeous, like the splendour of October woods. 
They were still and solemn over the purple hills of 
the horizon, and their light looked strangely in at the 
windows of the hotel. Many a belle, just arrived 
from the drive and about to consider the evening's 
dressing, paused a moment at the window, stood 
resplendent in that dying light, and a shade of 
melancholy touched her lithe fancies, as a cloud dims 
the waving of golden grain. Who had stood there 
to dress for a Saratoga ball years ago? Who should 
stand there, dressing, years to come? This Saratoga, 
dreamed of, wondered at, longed for where to be a 
belle was the flower of human felicity whose walks, 
drives, hops, moonlight talks and mornings should 



Saratoga 201 

be the supreme satisfaction had it fulfilled its 
promise? 

This moment not Waller should speak to her but 
\\^ordsworth, with pensive music : 

" Look at the fate of summer flowers, 
Which blow at daybreak, droop ere even-song : 
And, grieved for their brief date, confess that ours 
Measured by what we are and ought to be, 
Measured by all that, trembling, we foresee, 
Is not so long ! 

If human life do pass away, 
Perishing, yet more swiftly than the flower. 
Whose frail existence is but of a day : 
What space hath Virgin's beauty to disclose 
Her sweets, and triumph o'er the breathing rose. 
Not even an hour ! 

The deepest grove whose foliage hid 
The happiest lovers Arcady might boast. 
Could not the entrance of this thought forbid : 
O be thou ^^'ise as they, soul-gifted maid ! 
Nor rate too high what must so quickly fade, 
So soon be lost ! 

Then shall Love teach some virtuous youth 
' To draw out of the object of his eyes ' 
The whilst on thee ihey gaze in simple truth, 
Hues more exalted, ' a refined form,' 
That dreads not age, nor suffers from the worm, 
And never dies ! " 

She comes at last. The sun has set, and with it 
those weird fancies, those vague thoughts that 
streamed shapelessly through her mind like these 
long, sad vapours through the twilight sky. Nor, 
for that moment, is the belle less gay, though more 
beautiful, nor is Saratoga less charming. 

Music flows towards us from the ball-room in 
languid, luxurious measures, like warm, voluptuous 
arms wreathing around us and drawing us to the 
dance. When we enter the hall we find very few 
people, but at the lower end a sprinkling of New 
Yorklings are in their heaven. 

Dancing is natural and lovely as singing. The 
court of youth and beauty with the presence of 



202 Lotus-Eating 

brilliantly dressed women, and an air smoothed and 
softened with deHcate and penetrating perfumes, and 
the dazzhng splendour of lights, is a song unsung, a 
flower not blossomed, until you mingle in movement 
with the strain until the scene is so measured by 
the music that they become one. This has been said 
so finely by De Quincey that I cannot refrain from 
enriching my pages with the quotation : 

"And in itself, of all the scenes which this world 
offers, none is to me so profoundly interesting, none 
(I say deliberately) so affecting, as the spectacle of 
men and women floating through the mazes of a 
dance ; under these conditions, however, that the 
music shall be rich and festal, the execution of the 
dances perfect, and the dance itself of a character to 
admit of free, fluent and continuous motion. . . . 
And wherever the music happens to be not of a light, 
trivial character, but charged with the spirit of festal 
pleasure, and the performers in the dance so far 
skilful as to betray no awkwardness verging on the 
ludicrous, I believe that many persons feel as I feel 
in such circumstances, viz. derive from the spectacle 
the very grandest form of passionate sadness which 
can belong to any spectacle whatsoever. . . . 
From all which the reader may comprehend, if he 
should not happen experimentally to have felt, that a 
spectacle of young men and women flowing through 
the mazes of an intricate dance, under a full volume 
of music, taken with all the circumstantial adjuncts 
of such a scene in rich men's halls, the blaze of lights 
and jewels, the life, the motion, the sea-like undula- 
tion of heads, the interweaving of the figures, the 
anakuklosis, or self-revolving, both of the dance and 
the music; never ending, still beginning, and the 
continual regeneration of order from a system of 
motions which seem for ever to approach the very 
brink of confusion ; that such a spectacle, with such 
circumstances, may happen to be capable of exciting 
and sustaining the very grandest emotions of philo- 
sophic melancholy to which the human spirit is open. 



Saratoga 203 

The reason is in part that such a scene presents a 
sort of masque of human life, with its whole equipage 
of pomps and glories, its luxuries of sight and sound, 
its hours of golden youth, and the interminable 
revolution of ages hurrying after ages, and one 
generation treading over the frying footsteps of 
another, whilst all the while the overruling music 
attempers the mind to the spectacle, the subject 
(as a German would say) to the object, the beholder 
to the vision. And although this is known to be but 
one phase of life of life culminating and in ascent 
yet the other and repulsive phasis is concealed upon 
the hidden or averted side of the golden arras, known 
but not felt or is seen but dimly in the rear, crowd- 
ing into indistinct proportions. The effect of the 
music is to place the mind in a state of elective- 
attraction for everything in harmony with its own 
prevailing key." 

I do not know how far others will acknowledge the 
justice of this brilliant passage, but to me it gave a 
thrill of satisfaction when I read it, as the expression 
of what is often felt in such circumstances. The 
secret of the feeling is in the entire harmony of the 
music and the movement it is that the dancing is 
the visible form of the infinite and subtle suggestions 
of the music. Who that has felt the extreme pathos 
of Strauss 's Waltzes but has known them seem to 
the sensitive imagination, excited by the grace and 
beauty of women and the odorous brilliancy of a 
thronged hall, passionate love-lyrics? Nor will you 
be surprised, if you have been haunted by their sad- 
ness as you listened, and especially as you danced 
to them, to hear that the best are Bohemian and 
Hungarian songs, wrought into the form of a waltz. 
The national songs of all people being always in a 
minor key. 

This is a day at Saratoga, and all days there. It 
is a place for pleasure. The original aim of a visit 
thither, to drink the waters, is now mainly the excuse 
of fathers and of the Habitu6s, to whom, however. 



204 Lotus-Eating 

summer and Saratoga are synonymous. It is our 
pleasant social exchangee. There we step out of the 
worn and weary ruts of city society, and mingle in a 
broad field of various acquaintance. There we may 
scent the fairest flowers of the south and behold the 
beauty which is ours, of which we have a right to be 
proud in Italy and Spain, but which is really less 
familiar to most of us northerners than Spanish or 
Italian beauty. There, too, men mingle and learn 
from contact and sympathy a sweeter temper and a 
more Catholic consideration, so that the summer 
flowers we went to wreathe may prove not the gar- 
land of an hour, but the firmly linked chain of an 
enduring union. 

If you seek health, avoid it if you can ; or if you 
must drink the waters there, take rooms in some 
other house, not in the "United States," where you 
will be tortured with the constant vision of the 
carnival of the high health you have lost. Youth, 
health and beauty are still the trinity of Saratoga. 
No old belle ever returns. No girl who was beautiful 
and famous there, comes as a grandmother to that 
gay haunt. The ghosts of her blooming days would 
dance a direful dance around her in the moonlight 
of the court. Faces that grew sad, and cold, and 
changed, would look in at her midnight window. 
Phantoms of promenades, when the wish was spoken 
rather than the feeling, would make her shudder as 
she hurried along the piazza. The dull aching sense 
of youth passed for ever would become suddenly 
poignant, as she glanced upon the gay groups, gay 
as she was gay, young and fair no more than she had 
been. Worst of all, if in some lonely path she met 
gray-haired, dull-eyed and tottering upon crutches, 
the handsome and graceful partner of her first 
Saratoga season. 

You will not linger long. A week with Calypso is 
all that a wise Telemachus will allow himself. But 
he will not be unjust to its character nor deem it all 
folly. And if, after dinner, you walk slowly through 



Lake Georg"e 205 

the garden with Robert Herrick toward the railroad, 
by the music and the groups who hsten to it, he, 
watching their youth and beauty, will say to them in 
farewell, as he did 

"TO BLOSSOMS 

" Fair pledges of a fruitful tree, 
Why do ye fall so fast? 
Your date is not so past, 
But you may stay yet here awhile 
To blush and gently smile, 
And go at last. 

What ! were ye born to be 

An hour or halfs delight, 

And so to bid good-night ? 
'Twas pity Nature brought ye forth 
Merely to show your worth, 
And lose you quite. 

But you are lovely leaves, where we 

May read how soon things have 

Their end, tho' ne'er so brave : 
And after they have shown their pride 
Like you, awhile, they glide 
Into the grave." 



LAKE GEORGE 

August. 
An hour upon the railroad brings you from Sara- 
toga to the Moreau Station. Here you climb a stage- 
coach to roll across the country to Lake George. It 
is a fine strip of landscape variously outlined, and 
with glimpses of beautiful distance. The driver 
pointed out to us the tree under which Jane McCrea 
was murdered by the Indians a lovely spot, meet 
for so sad a tradition. Between us and the dim- 
rolling outline of the Green Mountains were the 
windings of the Hudson, which here, in its infancvy 



2o6 Lotus-Eating 

is a stream of fine promise, and rolled our fancies 
forward to its beautiful banks below, its dark high- 
lands, its glassy reaches, and the forms of friends on 
lawns and in gardens along its shores. 

We dined at Glen's Falls, which we visited. They 
are oppressed by the petty tyranny of a decayed 
dynasty of saw-mills, and the vexed river rages and 
tumbles among channeled rocks, making a fine spec- 
tacle of the Trentonian character. Then we bowled 
along through a brilliant afternoon toward the Lake. 
The road is one of the pleasantest I remember. And 
particularly on that day the grain-fields and the 
mountains were of the rarest delicacy of tone and 
texture. Through the trees, an hour from Glen's 
Falls, I saw a sheet of water, and we emerged upon 
a fine view of the Lake. 

An azure air, of which the water seemed only a 
part more palpable, set in hills of graceful figure and 
foliage, and studded with countless isles of romantic 
beauty such a picture as imagination touches upon 
the transparent perfection of summer noons, was my 
fancy of Lake George. 

It was but partly true. 

Caldwell is a hamlet at the southern end of the 
Lake. It is named from an eccentric gentleman, 
(illiberal obstinacy is always posthumously beatified 
into eccentricity) who owned the whole region, built 
a hotel on the wrong spot, determined that no one 
else should build anywhere, and ardently desired that 
no more people should settle in the neighbourhood ; 
and, in general, infested the southern shore with a 
success worthy of a mythological dragon. Instead, 
therefore, of a fine hotel at the extremity of the Lake, 
commanding a view of its length, and situated in 
grounds properly picturesque, there is a house on one 
side of the end, looking across it to the opposite 
mountain, and for ever teasing the traveller with 
wonder that it stands where it does. 

The hotel is kept admirably, however, and the 
faults of position and size are obviated, as far as 



Lake George 207 

possible, by the courtesy and ability of the host. But 
the increasing throng of travel justifies the erection 
of an inn equal in every manner to the best. This 
year the little hamlet was but the " colony " of the 
hotel, and a mile across the Lake, on the opposite 
shore, was a small house for the accommodation of 
the public. 

Lake George is a strange lull in excitement after 
Saratoga. Its tranquillity is like the morning after 
a ball. There is nothing to do but to bowl or to sit 
upon the piazza, or to go fishing upon the Lake. It 
is a good place to study fancy fishermen, who have 
taken their piscatory degrees in Wall and Pearl- 
streets. Most of the visitors are guests of a night, 
but there are also pleasant parties who pass weeks 
upon the Lake, and listen to the enthusiastic stories 
of Saratoga as incredulously as to Syren-songs ; to 
whom Saratoga is a name and a vapour, incredible as 
the fervour of a tropical day to the Russian Empress 
in her icy palace ; parties of a character rare in our 
country, who do not utterly surrender the summer to 
luxurious idleness, but steal honey from the flowers 
as they fly. 

And if, strolling upon the piazza, while the moon 
paves a quivering path across the water, along which 
throng enchanted recollections, a quiet voice asks if 
Como's self is more lovely, you are glad to say to one 
who understands it, your feelings of the difference 
between European and American scenery. We were 
watching the water from the piazza, over the low 
trees in the garden, when the empress said to me, 
"Now is it not more beautiful than Como? " It was 
an unfortunate question, because the Lake of Como 
is the most beautiful lake the traveller sees, and 
because the details of comparisons were instantly 
forced upon my mind. 

Lake George is a simple mountain lake upon the 
verge of the wilderness. You ascend from its banks 
westward and plunge into a wild region. The hills 
that frame the water are low, and when not bare 



2o8 Lotus-Eating 

for fires frequently consume many miles of wood- 
land on the hillsides covered with the stiffly out- 
lined, dark and cold foliage of evergreens. Among 
these are no signs of life. You might well fancy the 
populace of the primeval forest yet holding those 
retreats. You might still dream in the twilight that 
it were not impossible to catch the ring of a French 
or English rifle, or the wild whoop of the Indian ; sure 
that the landscape you see, was the same they saw, 
and their remotest ancestors. 

From the water rise the rocks, sometimes solitary 
and bearing a single tree, sometimes massed into a 
bowery island. 

The boat-boys count the isles of the Lake by the 
days of the year, and tell you of three hundred and 
sixty-five. It is a story agreeable enough to hear, 
but wearisome when the same thing is told at every 
pretty stretch of islanded water. In the late after- 
noon or by moonlight, it is pleasant to skim the quiet 
Lake to the little Tea Island, which has a tree-shel- 
tered cove for harbour and on which stands a ruined 
temple to T. But whether bohea, or gunpowder, or 
some more mysterious divinity, the boat-boys reluct 
to say, and you must rely on fancy to suggest. I 
only know, that as we pushed aside the branches 
that overhang the cove and climbed to the Island 
and the Temple, we had no sooner set foot upon its 
floor, and gazed dreamily forth over the Lake, which 
the moon enchanted, than the slow beat of oars 
pushed through the twilight, and directly across the 
moon-paven path of the water shot a skiff with female 
figures only. 

The throb of oars approached, and singing voices 
mingled with the beat. The boat drove silently into 
the black shadow of the cove, the singing ceased, and 
a hushed tumult of low laughter trembled through the 
trees. For that moment I was a South Sea Islander, 
a Typeean, a Herman Melville, and down the ruined 
steps I ran to catch a moonlight glimpse of Fayaway, 
but saw only the rippling brilliance of the rapidly 



Lake George 209 

fading boat. Therefore I know not what forms they 
were, nor the nioonhght mysteries of Lake George, 
nor of the little T Island, 

"What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape, 
Of Deities, or Mortals, or of both." 

Another day we spread our sails and flew four 
miles up the Lake to Diamond Island. It has a little 
stony beach, on which crystals are found, and here 
also are ruins, but of nothing more stable than Robin 
Hood's temples. A faded bower, spacious enough 
for the pavilion of the loveliest May Queen, and 
romantic enough for a trap of Fancy to catch reveries, 
is the ruin of the Island. 




- >i^i .<K*^ Xk, 



The brisk wind that blew us rapidly thither drooped 
as it passed the faded bower, and the lake lapped 
idly against the stones as we embarked for Caldwell. 
We drifted homewards in gusts and calms, while a 
gorgeous sunset streamed from behind the western 
mountains. It faded into pensive twilight, the very 
hour of Wordsworth's lines : 

" How richly glows the watei's breast 
Before us, tinged with evening's hues, 
While, facing thus the crimson West, 
The boat her silent course pursues, 



210 Lotus-Eating 

And see how dark the backward stream, 
A little moment past so smiling ! 
And still, perhaps with faithless gleam, 
Some other loiterers beguiling. 

Such views the youthful bard allure, 

But heedless of the following gloom, 

He dreams their colours shall endure. 

Till peace go with him to the tomb. 

And let him nurse his fond deceit, 

And what if he must die in sorrow, 

Who would not cherish dreams so sweet. 

Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?" 

All this was pleasant, but all this does not make a 
lake as beautiful as Como. Here, at Lake George, 
is no variety of foliage. The solemn evergreens 
emphasize the fact of a wild primeval landscape. 
Were there brilliant, full-foliaged chestnuts, or 
lustrous vines, to vary the monotony of hue, or 
spiring cypresses and domed stone pines to multiply 
different forms, or long reaches of terraced shore, 
the melancholy monotony of impression, which is now 
so prominent, would be alleviated. The scene is too 
sad and lonely. The eye is tortured by the doomed 
ranks of firs and hemlocks, that descend like resigned 
martyrs to the shore. It is not sublime, it is not the 
perfection of loneliness, it is not the best of its kind. 
Yet in the August moonlight the empress asked me 
if it was not more beautiful than Como. 

Consider Como. That strip of water blends the 
most characteristic Swiss and Italian beauty. From 
the dark and awful shadow of the Snow-Alps which 
brood over its northern extremity, the lake stretches 
under waving vines and shimmering olives, (that 
look as if they grew only by moonlight, said Mrs. 
Jameson's niece,) under orange terraces, and 
lemons and oleanders, under sumptuous chestnuts 
and funereal cypresses and ponderous pines and all 
that they imply of luxurious palaces, marble balus- 
ters, steps, statues, vases and fountains, under these 
and through all the imagery of ideal Italy, deep and 
far into the very heart of Southern Italian loveliness. 



Lake George 2 1 1 

And on the shores near the town of Como, among 
the garden paths or hills that overhang the villas, 
you may look from the embrace of Italy straight at 
the eternal snow-peaks of Switzerland as if on 
the divinest midsummer day your thought could 
cleave the year and behold December as distinctly 
as June. 

Lake Como is the finest combination of natural 
sublimity and beauty with the artistic results which 
that sublimity and beauty have inspired. This is the 
combination essential to a perfect and permanently 
satisfactory enjoyment in landscape. We modern 
men cannot be satisfied with the satisfaction of the 
savage, nor with that of any partial nature and 
education. 

The landscape must be lonely as well as lovely, if 
it is not sublime. We have a right to require in 
scenery the presence of the improvement which 
Nature there suggested. In the Alps, in Niagara, 
in the Sea, Nature suggests nothing more. They 
are foregone conclusions. No colossal statue carved 
from a cliff, or palace hewn from a glacier, are more 
than curious. Nor can you in any manner improve 
or deepen by Art the essential impression of natural 
features so sublime. 

When I speak of what Art can do for the land- 
scape, you will not suppose that I wish Nature to be 
put in order, or that there should be only landscape 
gardens. The wide flowering levels of the Western 
Prairies, rolling in billows of golden blossoms upon 
the horizon, have a supreme and peculiar beauty, 
which no human touch can improve, and the lonely 
lakes of the Tyrol, dark withdrawn under cliffs that 
do not cease to frown, charmed in weird calm which 
never the scream of wild fowl vexes, these, like the 
Alps and the Ocean, and Niagara, are beyond the 
hope of Art. 

But it is different when Nature gives no landscape 
material, when the forms of hill and shore are 
p 2 



212 Lotus-Eating 

monotonous or unimportant of themselves, yet sug- 
gest a latent possibility of picturesque effects. 

This is not irreverent meddling with Nature, it is 
only following her lead. Has no one observed how 
often the absence of water in the landscape leaves 
the landscape dead? Was never a castle so placed 
upon hill or by river side that it grieved the eye of 
taste? What I say aims only at removing the 
occasion of such grief. The inextricable mazes of 
a forest are not imposing when you are entangled 
among them. A boundless forest is only sublime 
when the eye commands it by overlooking it. The 
forest is only the rude grandeur of the block ; but the 
groves and gardens which wait upon the civilizing 
footsteps that unravel those mazes are the graceful 
statue and the fine result. 

So when the Empress said to me, " Is it not more 
beautiful than Como? " I said, no. Yet it is im- 
possible not to perceive the great capabilities of Lake 
George. 

The gleam of marble palaces, or of summer retreats 
of any genuine beauty, even a margin of grain- 
goldened shore, or ranges of whispering rushes 
beneath stately terraces indeed, any amelioration of 
Nature by Art, would perfect the loveliness of Lake 
George, and legitimate the Empress's praises. At 
present it is invested with none of that enchanted 
atmosphere of romance in which every landscape is 
more alluring. Its interest and charm is the differ- 
ence between an Indian and a Greek, between 
pigments and a picture. 

Do not suppose that I am maligning so fair an 
object as the lake, even while I regard it as a good 
type of the quality of our landscape, compared with 
the European. Space and wildness are the proper 
praises of American scenery. The American in 
Europe, with the blood of a new race and the hope 
of a proportioned future tingling in his veins, with a 
profound conviction that Niagara annihilates all other 
scenery in the world, and with a decided disposition 



Lake George 



213 



--%- 



to assert that Niagara is the type of the country, 
proclaims the extent of that country as the final 
argument in the discussion of scenery and bears 
down with inland seas and the Father of Waters, 
and primeval forests and prairies and Andes, to 
conclude his triumph. 

In the general vague vastness of the impression 
produced, this is a genuine triumph. But it is a 
superiority 

which ap" ^ 

peals more 
to the mind 
than to the 
eye. The 
moment - 
you travel 
in America 
the victory 
of Europe 
is sure. 

For purposes of practical 
pleasure we have no 
mountains of an alpine 
sublimity, no lakes of the 
natural and artificial love- 
liness of the European, although 
one of ours may be large enough 
to supply all the European lakes. 
We have few rivers of any romantic " '"" ' 

association, no quaint cities, no picturesque costume 
and customs, no pictures or buildings. We have 
none of the charms that follow long history. We 
have only vast and unimproved extent, and the 
interest with which the possible grandeur of a 
mysterious future may invest it. One would be loth 
to exhort a European to visit America for other 
reasons than social and political observation, or 
buffalo hunting. We have nothing so grand and 
accessible as Switzerland, nothing so beautiful as 
Italy, nothing so civilized as Paris, nothing so com- 




?X<^ 



2 14 Lotus-Eating 

fortable as England. The idea of the great western 
rivers and of lakes as shoreless to the eye as the sea, 
or of a magnificent monotony of grass or forest, is as 
impressive and much less wearisome than the actual 
sight of them. 

But a charm which is in the variety and the detail, 
as much as in the general character, is only appreci- 
able by the eye, and that, of course, is the triumph of 
European scenery. The green valleys of Switzerland 
which relieve and heighten, by contrast, the snowy 
sublimity of the mountains ; the Madonna shrines in 
vineyards and the pretty paraphernalia of religion 
in Italy ; the cultivated comfort of the English land- 
scape, in whose parks each tree stands as if it knew 
itself to be the ornament and pride of ancestral 
acres, and the artificial grotesqueness of the French 
chateaux all these you must see if you would know, 
and your final impression is of a fine aggregate with 
beautiful and characteristic details. 

Then we have no coast scenery. The Mediter- 
ranean coast has a character which is unequalled. 
The sea loves Italy and laves it with beauty. It has 
an eternal feud with us. Our shores stretch, shrink- 
ing in long, low flats, to the ocean, or recoil in bare, 
gray, melancholy rocks. Our coast is monotonous 
and tame in form, and sandy and dreary in sub- 
stance. Trees reluct to grow ; fruit yearns for the 
interior ; a sad dry moss smooths the rocks and 
solitary spires of grass shiver in the wind. But the 
Italian sea is mountain-shored ; and all over the 
mountain sides the oranges grow, and the tropical 
cactus and vines wave, and a various foliage fringes 
the water. You float at morning and evening on the 
Gulf of Salerno, or the Bay of Naples, and breathe 
an orange-odoured air. The vesper bell of the con- 
vent on the steep sides of the Salerno mountains 
showers with pious sound the mariners below. They 
watch the campanile as they sail, and a sweetness of 
which their own gardens make part, follows their 
flight. You can fancy nothing more alluring than 



Lake George . 215 

these coasts, and nothing more mysterious and im- 
posing- than the mountains of Granada looming- large 
through the luminous mist of the Spanish shore. 
This last is the scenery of Ossian. 

All this impHes one of the grandest and most 
beautiful natural impressions, and one of which our 
own sea-coast is totally destitute. And it is only an 
illustration of the absolute superiority of European 
scenery, in very various ways. The tendency of 
American artists toward Europe as a residence, is 
based not only upon the desire of breathing a social 
atmosphere, in which Art is valued, or of beholding 
the galleries of fame, but also upon the positive want 
of the picturesque in American scenery and life. 
Water, and woods, and sky are not necessarily pic- 
turesque in form, or combination, or colour, and here 
again, there must be beautiful details, and the human 
impress of Art upon them, to satisfy the sense that 
craves the picturesque. 

I sat one evening on the cliffs at Newport with 
Mot Notelpa, a friend who wears the onyx ring, of 
which Sterling has written so good a story and as 
we were discussing America, Mot, the gentleman of 
two hemispheres, said to me: "America is only a 
splendid exile for the European race." The saying 
was no less forcible than fine, but I have no room to 
follow its meaning here. He did not say or mean 
that it was a pity to be born an American, or deny 
the compensation which gives us our advantages. 

No man who has traversed Europe with his eyes 
and mind open has failed to see that as our great 
natural advantage is space, so our great social and 
political advantage is opportunity, and every young 
man's capital the chance of a career. But the race 
as a unit, cultivated to the point of Art, is exiled, 
wherever the laws of Nature postpone Art. 

You may be sure that I said no such thing to the 
Empress, as in the moonlight she provoked the 
comparison. 

But the " No " of my reply meant all that. And 



2 1 6 Lotus-Eating 

when, the next morning, we steamed in a stiff gale 
from Caldwell to Crown Point, the unhumanized 
solitude of the shores accorded well with the dusky 
legends of Indian wars that haunt the Lake. 

Lake George should be the motto of a song rather 
than the text of a sermon, I know. But it is beauti- 
ful enough to make moralizing poetry. It is the 
beauty of a country cousin, the diamond in the rough, 
when compared with the absolute elegance and fas- 
cination of Como. Nor will I quarrel with those 
whom the peasant pleases most especially if they 
have never been to court. 



NAHANT 

September. 
" Oh ! which were best, to roam or rest? 
'1 he land's laj) or the water's breast? 
To sleep on yellow millet-sheaves, 
Or swim in lucid shallows, just 

Eluding water-lily leaves, 
An inch from Death's black fingers, thrust 
To lock you, whom release he must ; 
Which life were best on Summer eves ? " 

Nahant is a shower of little brown cottages, fallen 
upon the rocky promontory that terminates Lynn 
Beach. 

There is a hotel upon its finest, farthest point, 
which was a fashionable resort a score of years since. 
But the beaux and belles have long since retreated 
into the pretty cottages whence they can contemplate 
the hotel, which has the air of a quaint, broad- 
piazzad, sea-side hostelry, with the naked ugliness 
of a cotton factory added to it, and fancy it the 
monument of merry, but dead old days. 

The hotel is no longer fashionable. Nahant is 
no more a thronged resort. Its own career has not 



Nahant 217 

been unlike that of the belles who frequented it, for 
although the hurry and glare and excitement of a 
merely fashionable watering-place are past, there 
has succeeded a quiet, genial enjoyment and satisfac- 
tion, which are far pleasanter. Some sunny morning, 
when your memory is busy with Willis's sparkling 
stories of Nahant life a quarter of a century ago, and 
with all the pleasant tales you may have collected in 
your wanderings, from those who were a part of that 
life, then step over with some friend, whose maturity 
may well seem to you the flower of all that the poet 
celebrated in the bud, and she will reanimate the 
spacious and silent piazza with the forms that have 
made it famous. And ever as you stroll and listen, 
your eyes will wander across the irregular group of 
cottages, and prohibit your fancying that the 
romance is over. 

This is a kind of sentiment inseparable from spots 
like this. They concentrate, during a brief time, so 
many and such various persons, and unite them so 
closely in the constant worship and pursuit of a 
common pleasure, that the personal association with 
the spot becomes profound ; and when the space is 
very limited, as at Nahant, even painful. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that many who loved and fre- 
quented Nahant years ago, now recoil from it, and 
only visit it with the same fascinated reluctance with 
which they regard the faded love-tokens of years so 
removed that they seem to have detached themselves 
from life. This will explain to you much of the sur- 
prise with which Bostonians listen to your praises of 
Nahant. "Is anything left?" say their smiles and 
looks; "it is a cup we drained so long ago." 

Yet no city has an ocean-gallery, so near, so 
convenient and rapid of access, so complete and 
satisfactory in characteristics of the sea, as Boston 
in Nahant. 

You step upon the steamer in the city and in less 
than an hour you land at Nahant, and breathe the 
untainted air from the "boreal pole," and gaze upon 



2i8 Lotus-Eating 

a sublime sea-sweep, which refreshes the mind as 
the air the lung-s. You find no villag-e, no dust, no 
commotion. You encounter no crowds of carriages 
or of curious and gossiping people. No fast men in 
velvet coats are trotting fast horses. You meet none 
of the disagreeable details of a fashionable watering- 
place, but a sunny silence broods over the realm of 
little brown cottages. They stand apart at easy dis- 
tances, each with its rustic piazza, with vines climb- 
ing and blooming about the columns, with windows 
and doors looking upon the sea. 

In the midst of the clusters, where roads meet, 
stands a small Temple, a church of graceful propor- 
tions, but unhappily clogged with wings. It is the 
only Catholic Church I know, for all services are 
held there in rotation, from the picturesque worship 
of the Roman faith to the severest form of Protest- 
antism. The green land slopes away behind the 
Temple to a row of willows in a path across the 
field, whence you cannot see the ocean, and it is so 
warm and sheltered, like an inland dell, that the 
sound of the sea comes to it only as a pleasant fancy. 

This pretty path ends in the thickest part of the 
settlement. But even here it has no village air. It 
is still, and there are no shops, and the finest trees 
upon the promontory shadow the road that gradually 
climbs the hill, and then, descending, leads you across 
little Nahant to Lynn Beach. The area of Nahant 
is very small. From almost any cottage porch you 
survey the whole scene. But it has these two great 
advantages for a summer sojourn : an air of entire 
repose, for there seems to be no opportunity or con- 
venience for any other than a life of leisure, and the 
perpetual presence of the sea. 

At Nahant you cannot fancy poverty or labour. 
Their appearance is elided from the landscape. Tak- 
ing the tone of your reveries from the peaceful little 
Temple and glancing over the simple little houses, 
with the happy carelessness of order in their distribu- 
tion, and the entire absence of smoke, dust, or din. 



Nahant 219 

you must needs dream that Pericles and Aspasia 
have withdrawn from the capital, with a choice court 
of friends and lovers, to pass a month of Grecian 
gfaiety upon the sea. The long" day swims by nor 
disturbs that dream. If haply upon the cliffs at sun- 
set, straying by "the loud-soundings sea," you catch 
glimpses of a figure, whose lofty loveliness would 
have inspired a sweeter and statelier tone in that old 
verse, you feel only that you have seen Aspasia, and 
Aspasia as the imagination beholds her, and are not 
surprised ; or a head wreathed with folds of black 
splendour varies that pure Greek rhythm with a 
Spanish strain, or cordial Saxon smiles and ringing 
laughter dissolve your Grecian dream into a western 
reality. 

For its sea, too, Nahant is unsurpassed. You can- 
not escape the Ocean here. It is in your eye and in 
your ear for ever. At Newport the Ocean is a luxury. 
You live away from it and drive to it as you drive 
to the Lake at Saratoga, and in the silence of mid- 
night as you withdraw from the polking parlour, you 
hear it calling across the solitary fields, wailing over 
your life and wondering at it. At Nahant the sea is 
supreme. The place is so small that you cannot 
build your house out of sight of the Ocean, and to 
watch the splendid play of its life, is satisfaction and 
enjoyment enough. Many of the cottages are built 
directly on the rocks of the shore. Of course there 
are few trees, except the silver poplar, which thrives 
luxuriantly in the salt air, and which, waving in the 
fresh wind and turning its g-listening leaves to the 
sun, is like a tree in perpetual blossom. Flowers are 
cherished about some of the houses, and they have 
an autumnal gorgeousness and are doubly dear and 
beautiful on the edge of the salt sea waste. 

The air which the ocean breathes over the spot is 
electrical. No other ocean-air is so exhilarating. 
After breakfast at Nahant, said Mot, I feel like 
Coeur de Lion, and burn to give battle to the Sara- 
cens. But the brave impulse ends in smoke, and 



220 Lotus-Eating 

musing- and chatting, and building castles in the 
clouds, you loiter away the day upon the piazza, end- 
ing by climbing about the cliffs at sunset or galloping 
over the beach. Thus the ocean and the cliffs are 
the natural glories of Nahant, and the sky which you 
see as from the deck of a ship, and which adequately 
completes the simple outline of the world as seen 
from those rocks. 

The cliffs are imposing. They are the jagged 
black edges of rock with which the promontory tears 



*; 






.^t^^^-^-yl 







the sea. Chased by the tempests beyond, the ocean 
dashes in and leaping upon the rocks lashes them 
with the fury of its scorn. In a great gale the whole 
sea drives upon Nahant. 

One day the storm came, sullen and showery from 
the East, scudding in blinding mists over the sea, 
breaking towards the blue, struggling, wailing, 
howling, losing the blue again, with a sharper chill 
in its breath and a drearier dash of the surf. Then 
an awful lull, an impenetrable mist, and the hoarse 
g-atherlng roar of the ocean. The day darkened, and 
sudden sprays of rain, like volleys of sharp arrows, 



Nahant 221 

rattled g-ustily against the windows, and dull, boom- 
ing thunder was flattened and dispersed in the thick 
moisture of the air. But in the gust and pauses of 
the wind and rain, the bodeful roar of the sea was 
constant and increasing. The water was invisible, 
except in the long flashing lines of surf that momently 
plunged from out the gray gloom of the fog, and 
that surf was like the advancing lines of an unknown 
enemy flinging itself upon the shore. Behind was 
the mighty rush of multitudinous waters, but more 
awful to imagination than any mere natural sound 
could be, for all the dead and lost, all who sailed 
and never came to shore, all who dreamed, and 
hoped, and struggled, and went down, and a world 
of joy with them; all their woe was in the Ocean's 
wail, the death shriek of as much happiness as lives. 
So the storm gathered terribly over the sea, in terror 
commensurate with the sea's vastness, and beat upon 
Nahant like a hail of fire upon a besieged citadel. 

The next day, as children seek upon a battle-field 
the buttons and ornaments that adorned the heroes, 
there were figures bending along the shore, to find 
the delicate, almost impalpable mosses, which the 
agony of the sea tosses up, as fragments of song 
drop from the torture of the heart. The mosses are 
pressed and cherished in volumes, each of which 
is a book of songs of the airiest fancies of the 
aptest symbols of the delicatest dreams of the sea. 
Nothing in nature is more touching and surprising, 
nothing more richly reveals her tenderness than these 
fair-threaded and infinitely various sea-weeds and 
mosses. They are the still, small voices, in which is 
the Lord. 

Longfellow has sung all this in wave-dancing 
music : 

" So when storms of wild emotion 

Strike the Ocean 
Of the poet's soul, ere long 
From each cave and rocky fastness, 

In its vastness, 
Floats some fragment of a Song. 



222 Lotus-Eating 



From the far off Isles enchanted, 

Heaven has planted 
With the golden fruit of Truth ; 
From the tiashing surf, whose vision 

Gleams Elysian 
In the tropic clime of Youth. 

From the strong will and the endeavour, 

That for ever 
Wrestles with the tides of Fate ; 
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered, 

Tempest-shattered, 
Floating waste and desolate. 

Ever-drifting, drifting, drifting, 

On the shifting 
Currents of the restless heart ; 
Till at length in books recorded, 

They, like hoarded 
Household words, no more depart." 

Nahant would not satisfy a New Yorker, nor, 
indeed, a Bostonian, whose dreams of sea-side 
summering are based upon Newport life. The two 
places are entirely different. It is not quite true that 
Newport has all of Nahant and something- more. 
For the repose, the freedom from the fury of fashion, 
is precisely what endears Nahant to its lovers, and 
the very opposite is the characteristic of Newport. 

Nahant is northern in character, and Newport 
is southern. The winds blow cool over Nahant, 
and you think of the North Sea, and Norsemen, 
and Vikings, and listen to the bracing winds as to 
Sagas. 

Yet, if a man had any work to do, Nahant opens 
its arms to him, and folds him into the sweetest 
silence and seclusion. It has no variety, I grant. 
You stroll along the cliffs, and you gallop upon the 
beach, and there is nothing more. But he is a Tyro 
in the observation of Nature, who does not know 
that, by the sea, it is the sky-scape and not the land- 
scape in which enjoyment lies. If a man dv/elt in the 
vicinity of beautiful inland scenery, yet near the sea, 
his horse's head would be turned daily to the ocean, 



Nahant 223 

for the sea and sky are exhaustless in interest as in 
beauty, while, in the comparison, you soon drink up 
the httle drop of satisfaction in fields and trees. The 
sea externally fascinates by its infinite suggestion, 
and every man upon the sea-shore is still a Julian or 
a Maddalo : 

"because the sea 

Is boundless as we wish our souls to be." 

Besides, it is always the ocean which is the charm 
of other shore resorts, that have more variety than 
Nahant. Even at Newport the eye is unsatisfied 
until it rests upon the sea, and as sea-side scenery 
with us is monotonous, there is rather more of the 
same thing at Newport than a greater variety. The 
genuine objection to Nahant is the feeling of dull- 
ness, on the part of the young, and of its intense 
sadness of association with the elders. 

The air is full of ghosts to them. At twilight they 
see figures glide pallid along the cliffs, and hear 
vague voices singing airy songs by moonlight in the 
rocky caves of the shore. Every stone, every turn is 
so familiar, that the absence of the look and the 
word, which in memory are integral parts of every 
rock and turn, sharpen the sense of change into acute 
sorrow. 

Nor to the visitor of to-day, who hears the stories 
of old Nahant days as he reads romances, is it pos- 
sible to watch without tenderness of thought, even 
without a kind of sadness, if you will, the pleasant 
evening promenade along the Lynn IBeach. They 
bound over the beach in the favouring sunset, those 
graceful forms, fresh and unworn as the sea that 
breaks languidly beside them and slips smoothly to 
their horses' hoofs. I do not wonder that it slips so 
softly toward them and touches their flight as with a 
musing kiss. I do not wonder that it breaks balmily 
upon their cheeks, and lifts their hair as lightly as 
if twilight spirits were toying with their locks. I do 
not wonder that as they turn homeward in the moon- 
light and leave the sea alone, it calls gently after 



224 Lotus-Eating 

them and fills the air with soft sounds as they retire, 
nor that it rises and rises until it has gathered into 
its bosom the Hght tracks they left upon the shore. 
The sea knows the brevity of that glad bound along 
the beach. These are not the first, they shall surely , 
not be the last, and while itself shall stay for ever I 
fresh and unworn as now, there shall be furrows | 
ploughed elsewhere which even its waves can never 
smooth. 

The evenings at Nahant have a strange fascina- 
tion. There are no balls, no hops, no concerts, no 
congregating under any pretence in hotel parlours. 
The damp night air is still, or throbs with the beating 
sea. The Nahanters sit upon their piazzas and watch 
the distant lighthouse or the gleam of a lantern upon 
a sail. Gradually they retire. Lights fade from the 
windows. Before midnight, silence and darkness are 
supreme. But we who remembered Sorrento loved 
the midnight, and, singing barcaroles, dreamed our 
dreams. 

One night we sang no longer, but lost in silence 
watched the bay as if it had been the bay of Naples, 
when the sudden burst of a distant serenade filled 
the midnight. It was the golden crown of delight. 
The long, wailing, passionate strains floated around 
us, as if our own thoughts had grown suddenly 
audible, and the vague sadness, the nameless and 
inexpressible fascination of midnight music utterly 
enthralled us. Nothing but the music lived ; the 
world was its own ; we floated upon it, drifted hither 
and thither as it would. There was no moon, but 
the serenade was moonlight. There were no gardens 
to sweeten the night, but the music was a bower of 
Persian roses thronged with nightingales. Songs of 
Mendelssohn the Adelaide of Beethoven Jrish 
melodies, whatever was melancholy, and exquisite, 
and meet for the hour and the spot, pulsed towards 
us upon the night, and last of all, a wild, sweet, 
pensive strain, for which surely Shelley meant his 
lines : 



Nahant 225 



" I arise from dreams of ihee, 

In the first sweet sleep of night, 
When the winds are breathing low, 

And the stars are shining brigiit. 
I arise from dreams of thee, 

And a spirit in my feet 
Has led me who knows how ? 

To thy chamber window, sweet ! 

The wandering airs they faint 

On the dark, the silent stream 
The champak odours fail 

Like sweet thoughts in a dream ; 
The nightingale's complaint, 

It (lies upon her heart, 
As I must on thine, 

Beloved as thou art. 

O lift me from the ground, 

I die, I faint, I fail ! 
Let thy Love in kisses rain 

On my lips and eyelids pale. 
My check is cold, and white, alas ! 

My heart beats loud and fast, 
Oh ! press it close to thine again. 

Where it will break at last." 

At Nahant you shall live with the sea and sky and 
yet not lose that pleasant social intercourse, which 
has a secret sweeter than the sea or the sky can 
whisper. Society at Nahant does not imply the 
Polka, indeed, that last perfection of civilization, but 
regard it, if you choose, as the ante-chamber to the 
ball-room of Newport, where you may breathe the 
fresh air awhile, and collect your thoughts, and see 
the ocean and the stars, and remember with regret 
the days when happiness was in something else than 
a dance, the days when you dared to dream. 

Nor be surprised, if, as you linger on those cliffs, 
remembering, one of the ghosts the elders see should 
lay his light hand upon your shoulder, and whisper 
as the sun sets. 

" Break, break, break. 
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea ! 

And I would that my tongue could utter 
The thoughts that arise in me. 



226 Lotus-Eating I 

O well for the fisher boy, 
That he sings in his boat on the bay, 

O well for the sailor lad, i 

That he shouts with his sister at play. 1 

And the stately ships go on, 
To their haven under the hill ; i 

But O for the touch of a vanished hand, ^ 

And the sound of a voice that is still. 

Break, break, break, J 

At the foot of thy crags, O Sea ! _ 1 

But the tender grace of a day that is fled 
Will never come back to me." 



NEWPORT 

September. 
The Golden Rods begin to flame along the road- 
sides, and in the pleasant gardens of Newport. The 
gorgeous dahlias and crisp asters marshal the 
autumnal splendour of the year. All day long, 
Herrick's "Valedictory to the Summer" has been 
singing itself in my mind : 

" Fair daffodils, we weep to see 
You haste away so soon, 
As yet the early rising Sun 
lias not attained his noon. 

Stay, stay. 
Until the hastening day 

Has run ; 
But to the even song, 
And having prayed together, we 
Will go with you along ! 

We have short time to stay as you, 

We have as short a Spring, 
As quick a growth to meet decay. 

As you or any thing. 
We die 

As your hours do ; and dry 
Away 

Like to the Summer's rain. 
Or as the pearls of morning-dew, 

Ne'er to be found again." 



Newport 227 

The first chill breath of September has blown away 
the froth of fashion, and the cottagers anticipate 
with delight the cool serenity of the shortening days. 
The glory has utterly gone from that huge, yellow 
pagoda-factory, the Ocean House. The drop has 
fallen, the audience is departed, the lights are ex- 
tinguished, and it were only to be wished that the 
house might vanish with the season, and not haunt 
"the year's last hours " with that melancholy aspect 
of a shrineless, deserted temple. 

I fear, however, that not only the glory of a season, 
but of success, has left the "Ocean." The flame 
of fashion which burned there a year or two since, 
burned too intensely to last. The fickle goddess, 
whose temple it is, is already weary of democratic, 
congregational worship and affects the privacy of 
separate oratories. They rise on every hand. For 
fashion dwells in cottages now, and the hotel season 
is brief and not brilliant. The cottagers will come, 
indeed, and hear the Germania play, and hop in the 
parlour; but they come as from private palaces to a 
public hall, and disappear again into the magnificent 
mystery of "cottage life." 

When I first knew Newport it was a southern 
resort for the summer. The old Bellevue, and the 
present Touro House, then Whitfield's, sufficed for 
the strangers. It was before the Polka before the 
days of music after dinner and when the word 
" hop " was unknown even at Saratoga. Everybody 
bathed in those days, and all bathed together. There 
was a little bowling, some driving and riding, but no 
fast horses or fast men above all, no fast women. 
The area on the hill, of which the Ocean House is 
the centre, was an unsettled region. There were not 
a dozen cottages, and the quaint little town dozed 
quietly along its bay, dreaming only of the southern 
silence, which the character of the climate and of 
the visitors, who were mainly southerners, naturally 
suggested. 

Newport was the synonym of repose. An in- 
Q 2 



228 Lotus-Eating 

g-enious commentator would surely have traced the 
Van Winkles to a Newport origin, although as 
surely, the " Rip " was a soubriquet of prophetic 
omen. 

In those good old days New York loved Saratoga, 
and Newport was a name of no significance : but 
the Diana of that Ephesus looked suddenly seaward, 
and a flood tide of fashion rose along Narragansett 
Bay, and overflowed Newport. 

Singular are the deposits it left and is leaving. 
This amorphous " Ocean " ; this Grecian "Atlantic " ; 
this " Bellevue " enlarged out of all recognizable pro- 
portions ; this whirl of fashionable equipages, these 
hats and coats, this confused din of dancing music, 
scandal, flirtation, serenades, and supreme voice of 
the sea breaking through the fog and dust ; this sing- 
ing, dancing, and dawdling incessantly ; this crush- 
ing into a month in the country that which crowds 
six months in town these are the foot-prints of 
Fashion upon the sea-shore these the material with 
which we build the golden statue to our Diana. 

Beyond doubt, Newport is the great watering-place 
of the country. And as such, as assembling yearly 
the allied army of fashionable forces from every 
quarter, it is the most satisfactory point from which 
to review the host and mark the American aspect of 
Fashion. 

A very little time will reveal its characteristic to be 
exaggeration. The intensity, which is the natural 
attribute of a new race, and which finds in active 
business its due direction, and achieves there its 
truest present success, becomes ludicrous in the social 
sphere, because it has no taste and no sense of 
propriety. 

Society is as much a sphere of art as any of the 
more recognized spheres. To be rich, and to visit 
certain persons, no more fits a man or woman for 
society, than to be twenty years old and to have a 
palette fits him to be an artist. When, therefore, a 
boy embarks in business at ten years of age and 



Newport 229 

retires a man at forty or fifty with a fortune, he is in 
the situation of one who in the passionate pursuit of 
the means has put the end out of his attainment. He 
has been so long making- his shoes that by inaction 
his feet are withered, and he cannot walk. Yet the 
same man, who can never be an addition or an 
ornament to society, which demands the harmonious 
play of rare 8;ifts, shall be very eminent and useful 
in that active life which requires the stern labour of 
very different powers. 

Thus, as wealth is a primal necessity of society, 
because giving- it a pedestal, and allowing its 
generous whims and fancies full play, so wherever 
wealth is not an antecedent, but must be acquired, 
the force and maturity of talent will always be 
swallowed up in the pedestal, and the statue will 
be light and imperfect, or, what is worse, an imbecile 
imitation. In a society formed under such circum- 
stances, wealth will always enjoy an unnatural and 
undignified consideration. 

Now the test of a man is his manner of using 
means, not of acquiring them. Any adroit labourer 
can quarry marble, but how many men could have 
wrought the Apollo or the Venus? And how many 
men who have made fortunes spend money well? 

I do not imply that they are not generous, and even 
lavish ; but how much does the expenditure advance 
the great common interests of men? In this country 
where fortunes are yearly made and spent, what 
results of that spending have we to show? We have 
carriages, and upholstery, and dinners, and elaborate 
houses, and the waistcoats of Young America blaze 
with charms, and it returns from "abroad" with a 
knowledge of Parisian tailoring and haberdashery, 
which would be invaluable in the first Broadway 
establishment interested in those matters. 

But consider that we get few pictures, statues, 
buildings, gardens, or parks, for the money we 
spend ; consider that no rich man has yet thought to 
endow this country with a museum of casts, like the 



230 Lotus-Eating 

Meng-'s Museum in Dresden, by which we should 
have all the finest sculptures of every age in the most 
perfectly accurate copy, only differing from the 
original in the material. 

" I have made my money, and I am not going to 
throw it away," is the response of Croesus to any 
such suggestion ; and he builds a house in the most 
fashionable street rather larger than his neighbour's, 
but a reproduction of it in every unholstering detail. 

Fine plate and glass, and Louis Quinze and Louis 
Quatorze deformities follow, and Croesus, Jr., has a 
pair of 2.40's, and a wagon of weight proportioned 
to the caUbre of that young gentleman; and, as he 
dashes up the Newport dust, some cynical pedestrian 
Timon, whitened and blinded by that dust, cannot 
help inquiring if this is the best statue that could be 
wrought out of all the marble old Croesus quarried ! 

The houses, and horses, and carriages are not to 
be derided; for, as I said already, these are the 
pedestal; they are the matters of course. But to 
the eye of the money-making genius, they are valu- 
able for themselves, and not as means, and there is 
the necessary mistake of a society so constituted. If 
a man buys a luxurious carpet, not that his friends 
may tread softly and their sense be soothed, but that 
it may proclaim his ability to buy the carpet, that it 
may say with green and red and yellow emphasis 
"at least twenty thousand a year" it is no longer 
beautiful, and you feel the presence of a man who is 
mastered by his means, and to whom any other man 
with a larger rent roll will be respectable and awful. 

From all this spring the ludicrous details of our 
society. We dress too well ; we dance too well : we 
are too gracious and graceful ; our entertainments are 
too elegant ; our modesty degenerates into prudery 
and bad taste ; we are " smart," but not U'itty ; flashy, 
but not gay. Young America is too young. Its feet 
are beautifully small, and the head is proportioned to 
them. Society is only a ball. The heels have carried 
it against the head ; and why not, since the education 



Newport 23 1 

and daily life of the youth fits him for little else than 
shaking his heels adroitly. 

We dance because we are unable to talk. The 
novels of foreign society fascinate us by their tales 
of a new sphere. Where are such women, we say, 
where such men? We fancy it is the despairing 
dream of a romance, but it is really the fact of foreign 
life. We are very chivalric ; no nation reaches our 
point of courtly devotion to woman as woman. But 
our chivalry is not entirely unfeudalized ; our courtli- 
ness does not always indicate respectful intercourse. 



^J^ ^-!^- :^- 



5tfl^>?^'"' -i'-Jy-.'-i' '.'' 




When I say that we dance too well, I speak of the 
disproportion of those performances to the rest of 
our social achievements. A fool crowned is doubly 
foolish. Fine dressing and dexterous dancing, when 
not subsidiary to the effect of personal beauty and 
character, are monstrous. Every girl who dances 
gracefully, should, in speaking, show that she is of 
graceful and winning nature. If she does not if 
she is silly and simpers you instinctively feel that 
her movement is artificial ; that it is the gift of the 
dancing school, not a grace of nature; you have been 
deceived, and it is never again a pleasure to watch 
that dancing. 



232 Lotus-Eating 

What is hig-h society but the genial intercourse of 
the highest inteUigences with which we converse? 
It is the festival of Wit and Beauty and Wisdom. 
Its conversation is a lambent light playing over all 
subjects, as the torch is turned upon each statue in 
the gallery. It is not an arena for dispute. Courts 
and Parliaments are for debate. Its hall of reunion, 
whether Holland House, or Charles Lamb's parlour, 
or Schiller's garret, or the Tuileries, is a palace of 
pleasure. Wine, and flowers, and all successes of 
art, delicate dresses studded with gems, and graceful 
motion to passionate and festal music, are its orna- 
ments and arabesqued outlines. It is a tournament 
wherein the force of the hero is refined into the grace 
of the gentleman a masque, in which womanly sen- 
timent blends with manly thought. This is the noble 
idea of society, a harmonious play of the purest 
powers. Nothing less than this satisfies the demand 
suggested by human genius and beauty, and the 
splendid sphere of the world in which they are placed. 

Yes, you say, and how much of all this have you 
found in Newport? 

At least I have found the form of it ; and he must 
have travelled in vain, who could not see, on some 
Grecian summer morning, even thus late in time, 
Alcibiades heading, with silken sails, for the Peireus, 
or here in Newport the features of a truly fine society 
through the fog of fashion. 

The very exaggeration we have remarked betrays 
a tendency as well as a failure. When we have gone 
through our present discipline of French and English 
social bullying, from the shape of our shoes up to 
that of our opinions, we shall be the stronger to take 
the field for ourselves. Yet I doubt if in any country 
in which wealth is not hereditary, so that a permanent 
and large class is secure from the necessity of some 
kind of gold digging, whereby man becomes of the 
earth, earthy, there can ever be the simplest and 
finest tone of society. The aggregate will be better, 
but will the single specimens be as good? 



Newport 233 

I do not insist upon it. It is a speculation. Yet, 
perhaps, this perfection of the individual is the jewel 
in the toad's head the real result of the elaborate 
aristocratic org"anization of the old world, which, I 
grant, was too cumbrous an operation for such a 
result. 

The old mystery, myth, fable, fancy, or whatever 
else, that labour came by the fall, will still suggest 
itself. We make the best of a bad case, and poets 
and philosophers speculate how to make labour 
"attractive." But the end of our labour is, all the 
while, to dispense with labour. 

"You lazy fellow," says the working merchant to 
his friend who was an heir. " But why are you 
working," retorts the heir upon the merchant, "but 
to secure the laziness I enjoy ? " 

At all events, hard labour, in any fair sense of the 
word, is incompatible with the finest beauty, whether 
personal or intellectual, and therefore with the most 
delicate bloom of society. But we Americans are 
workers by the nature of the case, or sons of 
labourers, who spend foolishly what they wisely won. 
And, therefore, New York, as the social represent- 
ative of the country, has more than the task of 
Sisyphus. It aims, and hopes, and struggles, and 
despairs, to make wealth stand for wit, wisdom and 
beauty. In vain it seeks to create society by danc- 
ing, dressing, and dining, by building fine houses and 
avoiding the Bowery. Fine society is not exclusive, 
does not avoid, but all that does not belong to it 
drops away like water from a smooth statue. We 
are still peasants and parvenues, although we call 
each other princes and build palaces. Before we are 
three centuries old we are endeavouring to surpass, 
by imitating, the results of all art and civilization 
and social genius beyond the sea. By elevating the 
standard of expense, we hope to secure select society, 
but have only aggravated the necessity of a labour 
integrally fatal to the kind of society we seek. 

It would be unfortunate if we were all drones, and 



234 Lotus-Eating 

it is foolish for any man to speak of labour in general 
as inimical to society. But I speak of that labour 
which is really drudgery, which is unfair to a man's 
intellectual nature. Hans Sachs was a shoemaker, 
but it is no less true that incessant hammering of 
sole leather also hammers the cobbler's just develop- 
ment away. 

One extreme is as bad as the other. The drudge 
whose life is drained away in the inexorable toil of a 
mine or a factory, is as sad an object as the prodigal, 
whom wealth softens into imbecility. The polar zone 
freezes, the tropics burn, the realms of the equator 
sleep in golden calm between. 

Fine Society is a fruit that ripens slowly. We 
Americans fancy we can buy it. But you might as 
well go to market for fresh peaches in January. 
Noble aims and sincere devotion to them the high- 
est development of mind and heart the fine aroma 
of cultivation which springs from the intimacy with 
all that human genius has achieved in every kind 
simplicity and integrity a soul whose sweetness 
overflows in the manner and makes the voice win- 
ning and the movement graceful here is the recipe 
for fine society, and although much of this is impos- 
sible, as for instance, high and various cultivation, 
without wealth, yet wealth of itself cannot supply the 
lowest element. The wealth of a foolish man is a 
pedestal which the more he accumulates elevates 
him higher, and reveals his deformity to a broader 
circle. 

These most obvious facts are rarely remembered. 
Gilded vulgarity believes itself to be gold. But in 
vain we "cut" and discriminate and eschew, now 
warmly here and coldly there, as if many a Marquis 
of unsullied blood did not dine for ten cents in 
Florence, and lie abed while his shirt was washed, 
and then enter the saloons of fashion as a King his 
Council Chamber. 

We separate and exclude, as if some fine morning 
the little blackamoor of a sweep would not climb 



Newport, again 235 

down the chimney, and fall naturally asleep on the 
best bed, soot and all, though he may never have 
touched linen since the sheets of his cradle. 

We Americans are gifted with the talent of getting 
rich. But the money-making is not the money- 
spending genius, and the former nourishes a love 
of wealth as an end, which is a love fatal to society. 
We are not peculiar in our regard for money, but 
we are in the exclusiveness of our regard for it. 
Wealth will socially befriend a man at Newport or 
Saratoga, better than at any similar spot in the world, 
and that is the severest censure that could be passed 
upon those places. 

But life at Newport is not all moralizing, even with 
the cynical Timons of which I spoke, and if you wil? 
regard this chapter as our chat after dinner, upon 
the piazza, in the next we will stroll in the pleasant 
places of Newport. 



NEWPORT, AGAIN 

September. 

This Island was originally called Rhode Island 
from some fancied resemblance in its climate to that 
of the Isle of Rhodes. I do not wonder at the sug- 
gestion, for Newport is washed by a southern sea and 
the air that breathes over it is soft and warm. Its 
climate is an Italian air. These are Mediterranean 
days. They have the luxurious languor of the South. 
Only the monotonous and melancholy coast reminds 
you that you are not gazing upon Homer's sea, and 
that the wind is not warmed by African sands. All 
day if you have been in Italy and know its southern 
shore, you look for the orange groves and vine- 
yards ; all night you listen for the barcaroles. 

I heard a simple and natural explanation of the 



236 



Lotus-Eating 







l#>-?_^ 



softness of the Newport climate, which attributed it 

to the immediate neighbourhood of the Gulf Stream. 

The current suddenly diverges westward near the 

Island, and, according to the story, actually touches 

it. Hence the warmer weather and softer airs here 

,..-... - _ than at spots not 

.:J^i^^^^:^^m^^S^\ far removed, es- 

.t'^.-\'0'/ pecially Nahant. 

' :^y ~-:, , j. Upon leaving 

". T^py < '-.^^^^m-' - -'^ '''-' Newport the line 

' .. :;'; "^;^"^" - ::"i^ ''"' of the Gulf Stream 

stretches west- 
ward, leaving a 
- broad space of sea 
between itself and 
the Massachusetts 
'^^^i^.-'- shore, into which 
.-^vl-'-' - ' flows the cold wa- 
ter from the north, by which 
- -. the winds warmed over 
the current are again chilled, 
and blow into Massachusetts 
)ay with the sharp sting that gives 
name to Boston east winds. Vast 
juantities of sea-weed are driven in 
ipon the Newport coast, also indi- 
cating the neighbourhood of the 
fulf Stream. If I do not mistake, 
this course is laid down in Maury's 
;hart. 

But from whatever cause, the 
climate of Newport is very bland 
It is called bracing, but it is only 
pure. From the higher land of the interior of the 
island you may see the ocean, any sunny day, bask- 
ing and sparkling in the light, seemingly girding the 
island with a broad visible belt of warmth. If you 
see it across smooth, lawn-like slopes, with a cluster 
of trees, as towards the Spouting Horn, it will 
fascinate you no less than Undine was fascinated. 




and beautiful. 



Newport, again 237 

and draw you to the shore. Follow it and incline 
toward the Fort. Pass the numerous gates, gallop 
along- the hard avenue toward Bateman's, and push 
on to the shore beyond. Then slowly pace along the 
rocky marge. 

The waves tumble in here, fresh and full from the 
mid-sea. To the right is the southern shore of the 
mainland, and by the lighthouse upon Beaver-Tail 
pass the sloops and schooners heading toward Long 
Island Sound. It is not a friendly coast; for at a 
little distance in the sea the waves break and foam 
over hidden rocks. That ledge is Brenton's Reef, 
and here in the sand, on the very shore, stand two 
head stones, side by side. Their silence tells the 
same story as the fretfulness of the rock-rent waves 
beyond. If you can cross a stream that intervenes, 
and are not appalled by stone walls, you may still 
keep the shore, and skirting Lily Pond which has 
the stern aspect of a solitary mountain tarn, and is 
only separated from the sea by a strip of sand, you 
emerge upon the crescent beach of the Spouting 
Horn, a throat of rock in the cliff, through which, 
from a narrow cave below, the water, during storms, 
is forced some forty or fifty feet into the air. 

Just beyond the Spouting Horn is the southern 
point of the Island. It is a rocky bluff, planted now 
in corn, but from the highest point commanding an 
unobstructed horizon, including the town removed 
into picturesque distance, and the intermediate 
reaches of green field, sprinkled with occasional 
groups of trees. The cliffs around the Spouting 
Horn are magnificent ocean features, and the shore 
of the mainland is visible. The sea-sweep enfolds 
all, satisfying eye and mind. 

This is the true site of a Newport residence. The 
situation suggests a cottage of the same general 
character as the Nahant houses. No one could go 
beyond you, no one could interfere, and, in the pre- 
sent rapid settlement of the island, it will not be long 
before it is occupied. A little farther on are the 



238 Lotus-Eating 

finest cliffs in Newport, upon which, after southerly 
storms, the sea dashes itself in mag-nificent surfs that 
set the shore in flashing foam. These are the haunts 
of the bass fishers. We have left our horses behind, 
for there is only a foot-path along- the cliffs, and walls 
and fences must be scaled. But by a happy old con- 
dition of the sale of these lands, the path will long 
remain public. For when the colonists took the land 
from the Indians, a right of way along the sea was 
secured to them for ever, for fishing and the gather- 
ing of sea-weed. At least so runs the tradition at 
Newport, and the convenient stiles and holes in the 
walls, even upon properties already settled, confirm 
its practical truth. 

Or is it only, perhaps, that no man upon this 
pleasant island feels that he has the right to exclude 
others from the sea-shore, the sea, like the air, 
being the only unquestioned universal heritage in 
Nature? The fields upon the cliffs are flat and tree- 
less. A dry, crisp grass carpets them quite to the 
edge of the precipice. It is thus the finest ocean^ 
walk, for it is elevated sufficiently for the eye to 
command the water, and is soft and grateful to the 
feet, like inland pastures. No enterprise has yet 
perceived that the true situation for a Newport hotel 
is upon these cliffs. A broad piazza over the sea 
would brook no rival in attraction, and the citizen 
who sought the place for the ocean air, and the ocean 
view, would not turn without a sigh, back into the 
dusty road, upon which stands, out of the ocean's 
sight and sound, the glaring, amorphous pile which 
is his home for the nonce. 

In the serene beauty of September weather, the 
cliffs are doubly beautiful. Fashion, the Diana of 
the Summer Solstice, is dethroned ; that golden statue 
is shivered, and its fragments cast back into the 
furnace of the city, to be again fused and moulded ; 
and out of the whirring dust and din the loiterer 
emerges into the meditative autumnal air. 

"A feeling of sadness," says Coleridge, "a peculiar 



Newport, again 239 

melancholy, is wont to take possession of me alike 
in Spring and in Autumn, But in Spring- it is the 
melancholy of hope ; in Autumn it is the melancholy 
of resignation." Strolling among these dry fields, 
upon the sea, you may perceive plainly enough the 
difference. In the beginning of the month, a cluster 
of days, like a troop of tropical birds, with fiery 
breath and plumage, breathed torrid airs over the 
island. It was the final ecstasy and festival of 
summer. But a huge, black cloud gathered one 
Saturday afternoon, and with lightning and flooding 
rain dispersed those tropical estrays, and left us 
cool and quiet, mind and body, in the rich, yellow, 
autumnal light. 

Among those dry fields I ramble in these delicious 
but melancholy days, looking at the sea and again 
babbling Herrick, whose few good verses, among all 
that he wrote, are like the few drops of vino d'oro 
wine of gold distilled from the must of Lebanon 
Vineyards. What pastoral sweetness and genuine 
personality of feeling in this poem. 

"TO MEADOWS 

"Ye have been fresh and green ; 
Ye have been filled with flowers ; 
And ye the walks have been, 

Where maids have spent their hours. 

You have beheld how they 

With wicked arts did come, 
To kiss and bear away 

The richer cowslips home. 

You've heard them sweetly sing, 

And seen them in a round ; 
Each virgin like a Spring 

With honeysuckles crown'd. 

But now we see none here, 

Whose silv'ry feet did tread, 
And with dishevelled hair 

Adorn'd this smoother mead. 

Like unthrifts, having spent 

Your stock, and needy grown, 
You're left here to lament 

Your poor estates alone." 



240 Lotus-Eating 

The tenderness of feeling- excited by the lovehness 
of the waning- year begets a sympathy for this season 
more personal than for any other. It is the sympathy 
with decline and death, the awe before the mystery 
of which they are the avenue and g-ate. In the 
journey of the year, the Autumn is Venice, Spring- 
is Naples certainly, and the majestic maturity of 
Summer is Rome. Not dissimilar is the feeling with 
which you glide through the shadows of crumbling 
Venetian magnificence, and the sentiment with 
which you tread the gorgeous bowers of Autumn. 
What life, what hope, what illimitable promise, once 
filled the eye here, and fed the imagination ! Venice 
failed to fulfil that promise to experience. Has any 
summer ever kept it to the life? 

See in the radiance and flashing cloud-forms of 
this sky, how the year repeats the story of June, 
how it murmurs these dying spring songs ! Upon 
pensive thought you drift through the splendours 
of the decadent year, as in a black gondola through 
Venice. 

" Over the gleaming watery meadows, 
Through the dusk of the palace shadows, 
Like a dark beam mournfully sliding, 
Steals the gondola, silently gliding. 

And the gardener, this morn belated, 
Urges his flower-hung barque, fruit-freighted, 
Like a Summer-perfected vision 
Through the dream of that sleep Elysian. 

To these palaces ghostly glory 

Clings, like the faintly remembered story 

Of an old diamonded dowager, mumbling 

Tales of her youth from her memory crumbling." 

It is not possible to shun the influence of these 
days. The deep dome of the sky frescoed by the 
last sunbeams with delicate tracery of vapours and 
luminous masses of cloud, the endless extent of the 
sea, which only seems small when you are upon it, 
the uniform line of the coast, simple, grand material 
outlined as grandly these store your mind with 



Newport, again 241 

sweet and solemn imag-ery, and indicate, even here, 
where the wassail-worship of our Ephesian Diana 
has but now reeled away, the altar ot the unknown 
God. 

Nor can you avoid wondering what evidence you 
shall find in the winter that the city has summered 
upon the seaside. If yearly we are thus submitted 
to the most beautiful and profound natural influences, 
and the tone of our society remains still as fiercely 
frivolous, it is not strange that the September mus- 
ing's of a cynical Timon make him still more cynical. 
How can he help dreaming dreams of a race that 
should show throughout their winter life the fresh- 
ness and vigour of their summer neighbourhood ? 

If a young- man passes a few years in Europe and 
returns with nothing but the air of a figure in the 
last print of fashions, he can only please the ninth 
part of a man. He will pain and mortify all the 
rest. His mien, and motion, and conversation should 
show that he has seen, and heard, and felt, what so 
many yearn to behold, because they could see to the 
utmost, yet must die without seeing. 

A travelled man should be painting- and sculpture. 
He should be radiant with art and informed with 
experience : he should be a channel into the new 
world of all the best influences of the old, or he has 
defrauded his country, himself, and those who might 
have been all that he has failed to be, by not relin- 
quishing- the opportunity to another. I look into his 
eyes, but instead of the Alps and Italy, I see only 
the Boulevards or Notre Dame de Lorette. I hear 
him speak, and catch a fine French oath, but no 
Miserere, no Campagna song- or Barcarole. I mark 
his manner with women, but I do not perceive that 
he has seen Raphael's Madonnas; with men, but I 
do not feel the presence of the Apollo or the manli- 
ness of Michael Angelo. Ixion has come down from 
heaven, having banqueted with all the Gods, and 
remembers only the pattern of the table-cloth. 

If this is our high requirement of the individua) 

R 



242 Lotus-Eating 

who has enjoyed fine opportunities, what should we 
not demand in the character of a society, which every 
year repairs to the fountains of mental and physical 
health? In its eye should be the clearness of the 
sky, in its voice the sound of the sea, in its move- 
ment the grace of woods and waves. 

It is very well to carry the country to the city, but 
is very ill to bring- the city to the country. The 
influence of the city is always to be resisted, because 
its necessary spirit is belittling, personal, and selfish ; 
that of the country, on the other hand, is to be fos- 
tered, because it is impersonal and universal. The 
exhilarating stimulus of the contact of men in the 
city is useful, sometimes essential, but always dan- 
gerous. The tranquilizing friendliness of the country 
favours repose, perhaps inactivity and intellectual 
rest, but is always humane and elevating. The city, 
in its technical, social sense, is always ludicrous, and, 
if it were possible, insulting in the country. There 
is nothing finer in Nature and Art than the sublime 
scorn inherent in their virginal purity. A great 
picture will not be "seen," nor a grand landscape 
"done." In the crowds of listless idlers who infest 
Rome yearly, how many see the Transfiguration, or 
hear the Miserere, or know the profound pathos of 
the Campagna? Nature and Art are veiled god- 
desses, and only Love and Humility draw the 
curtains. 

We must leave in the city, then, as far as possible, 
the social fictions of the city, if we hope ever to 
master them rather than to be mastered by them. 
And that is precisely what is most rarely done, 
precisely what we Americans do less than any other 
people. 

I remember, as we floated about the canals in 
Venice, how we used to imagine a life and society 
worthy the climate and the poetic city. The women 
of those fancies were of beauty so rare, and of char- 
acter at once so lofty and lovely, that the sumptuous 
palaces and the superb portraits of Titian, and Tin- 



Newport, again 243 

toret, and Giorgione, were the only natural homes 
and ornaments of their Ufe. The men of those 
dreams were so grave and gracious, of such intel- 
lectual sweep, of such subtle human sympathy, that 
no portrait in the great council hall of the Doge's 
palace quite suggested their mien. Life was a 
festival worthy its sphere worthy the illimitable 
splendour and capacity of the world. 

They were but gondola dreams, those fancies, 
the articulate song of the mystery and magnificence 
of Venice. They were only pictures on the air the 
evanescent mirage of romance that hovers about that 
spot. Yet, was it strange that the pleasant dream 
inspired by so singular a triumph of Art as the city 
of \'enice should return upon the cliffs at Newport, 
in view of the possibilities and influences of a society 
just beginning? 

Will you think me captious if I confess, what we 
all feel, that the life of Nature Nature, whose head 
is Man censures our life more than any philosophy? 
If a man should pass suddenly from a regal mid- 
summer day in Windsor Forest to a drawing-room at 
St. James, would he feel that he had advanced from 
the less to the greater? The trees and flowers fulfil 
their utmost destiny ; but the Right Honourable Sir 
Jabesh Windbag as Timon Carlyle dubs the courtier 
does he impart a finer charm to the summer day? 

It was not strange that the Venetian life recurred, 
but it was sad. We shall never fulfil the destiny 
that Hope has allotted us, since Hope always paints 
human portraits with the colours of the Ideal. Even 
upon these cliffs the spring promised a brighter 
summer than was possible ; for the spring is a poet, 
and sings to us in our speech the visions beheld in 
another realm. Life is a rich strain of music sug- 
gesting a realm too fair to be. How often we seem 
to touch the edge of some high and poetic manner 
of life ; how we revenge ourselves upon drudgery 
and W^all-street, by fancying an eternal summer in 
Naples Bay, where the syrens should sing in the 
R 2 



Lotus-Eating 



244 

moonlight and every fisher-girl upon the shore should 
be Graziella. Our ancestral estates the possibilities 
of hope of which we are heirs, all lie in the future. 
In the golden tropics of distance flash their towers, 
and their trees lean over singing streams. There our 
coming is awaited, and the bells would fain chime 
that we are of age. There, looking from the 



':k;5^. 








windows, or deep retired in 
interior chambers, the beautiful 
who were our dream and our 
despair await us. Over those tropic 
lands the sun never sets those flashing 
towers do never crumble, in those 
palace gardens gush the fountains of 
eternal youth, and all the wide horizon 
for ever flames with summer. 

So upon the most distant horizon of 
'' ' life hope floats, a beautiful mirage. To 
reach those pleasant places is the aim of ail our en- 
deavours. A man would be rich, that he may have 
a fine house hung with pictures and adorned with 
sculptures. Even the greatest drudge pays the 
homage to his nature, of, at least, saying that. In 
youth it seems that we could reach out our hands and 
ourselves unlock the doors. But those golden gates 






Newport, again 245 

shall never be unbarred. Gradually they recede, 
clouds descend, and fogs rise, and at times obscure 
the spectacle altogether. We resign ourselves to our 
condition, we go about our work, but still that stately 
domain of ours glimmers before our eyes a vision 
in the shifting clouds to the toiling husbandman. 
Still, strains of its wild and winning music peal down 
the wind, the sweet clang of court-revels to the lonely 
wanderer. 

Although we are thus defrauded of our rights, 
royalty never dies from our hearts, and, living in 
hovels, we are still the heirs of palaces. Strolling 
in this mood beneath the September sunsets I can 
yet see fair and graceful figures moving along the 
cliffs fair and graceful enough to walk by the sea 
and under the sky, as kings and queens their halls. 

The great enjoyment at Newport is riding. The 
hard, bleak beach is the most pleasant race-course, 
and the heaving of the sea sympathizes with the 
rider and inspires him. The finest beach in New- 
port is the second, a mile beyond the crescent beach 
by the town, but it always seems lonely and distant, 
and can only be gained by plowing along a sandy 
road among the wan fields upon the shore. On a 
pleasant afternoon the first beach is alive with run- 
ning horses and light wagons. You know we are 
dandies in our carriages as well as in our dress, and 
while they play their little pranks upon the edge of 
the sea, which plunges slowly and heavily along the 
shore, the impression is that of the recumbent statue 
of the Nile in the Vatican and the garden of the 
Tuileries, covered and pleased with the gambols of 
the little ones. 

One evening in September I was returning with a 
friend, from the southern shore by Bateman's. It 
was one of the golden twilights which transfigure the 
world. It seemed, in fact, as if we were very near 
that domain which lies so deep in the future, and 
our horses paced along cheerily, as if they shared 
the exhilaration of the hour. We passed through 



246 Lotus-Eating 

the town, by the groups sauntering^ on the road and 
sitting under the piazzas and at the windows of 
houses, and descended to the first beach. The sun 
was just gone and the sky was a dome of mohen 
lead, except toward the eastern horizon upon the 
sea, where gray vapours gradually clouded the glory. 

We turned our backs upon the sunset and facing 
the sea and the gray east we leaned forward, and 
our horses flew over the beach. They did not seem 
to touch the earth, but we were borne on as if by the 
sway of the sea. Faster and faster we flew, and the 
cold line of the point before us, stretching- far into 
the ocean, and the dull night that lowered beyond it, 
and the black beach beneath us, were as the stern 
landscape of the extremest north contrasted with the 
southern splendours we had left behind. It was wild 
and elfish, and the hoofs of the horses rang like the 
dumb cadence of an old saga. Our hair streamed 
on the wind that beg^an to curdle chill across the sea, 
and gaining the end of the beach we reined up, 
turned suddenly, and were in another zone, in another 
world. 

The west was gorgeous, still, and warm. The 
little hill on which stands the town, and the fields 
between it and us, were a belt of blackness drawn 
between the glow of the west and the glossy, glitter- 
ing smoothness of the beach, upon whose moist sur- 
face the slant light of the late sunset blended with 
the moonlight that quivered along the crumbling 
ridges of the surf. The sea, beyond, heaved silvery 
far into the nig-ht. The gorgeous west the black 
land the glossy beach the silvery sea, these made 
up the world in that moment, nor was the world ever 
more beautiful and sublime. Along the way paved 
with gleams of sunset and of moonrise, our horses 
slowly paced. No realm of fairy was ever more sur- 
prising and alluring ; no such scene was yet painted 
on canvas or in print ; and though it faded every 
moment and the world resumed its old expression, 
that glance has bewildered me for ever, and I am not 



Newport, again 247 

sure that it was not Undine who rode with me that 
evening and compelled the sun, moon, and sea to 
offer her magnificent homag^e. 

Like all seasides, Newport has those fogs and 
mists which are the delig'ht of artists which are 
themselves artists of a fantastic fancy and to which 
even the belles are not always averse, for what the 
sun does the fog undoes, being- the rare cosmetic that 
removes the brown scar of the sun's touch. These 
fogs, however, are not always pleasant. They are 
thick, drenching clouds, and wet you through as 
thoroughly as the most insinuating rain. Moreover 
they brood over your spirits with a dull gloom akin 
to their effect in extinguishing the landscape. But 
in coming and going, and wherever they are not too 
dense, they are very welcome to the lover of the 
picturesque. 

In the morning, perhaps, and especially in June 
and September, as you saunter under a cloudless 
sky, you see a vague roll of mist muffling the horizon 
line of the sea. If you have been bounding over the 
beach with Undine, the evening before, you are 
acclimated to wonders, and fancy, simply, that a part 
of the sky has fallen upon the sea. Toward dinner 
you observe that it is nearer, that it advances, rolling 
over the sea and blotting out everything in its path. 
The sun strikes a sail between you and it there is 
a momentary flash, lost in the dull darkness of the 
mist. 

By dinner-time it beleaguers the Island it over- 
comes it it penetrates at windows and doors. Woe 
to starched muslin ! Woe to cravats ! Woe to choice 
note paper ! Woe to everything but India-rubber 
shoes. The band may well play in the hall after 
dinner. The world beyond the piazza is a vast white 
opacity, the ghost of the ocean which thus asserts 
the sea's sovereignty over the Island. It is damp 
and chill. The music breathes winning waltzes, 
but who could dance here, save mermaids and 
Undine, haply, who loves the mists, and clothes 



248 Lotus-Eating 

herself with the grace of clouds? The horses must 
be countermanded. A shght wind shivers through 
the dampness and the boughs in the Httle green yard 
by the piazza shed a string of diamonds. The gaiety 
of Newport is suddenly quenched, and if you steal 
quietly up to your room, and, opening your window, 
listen, you will hear the invisible sea encompassing 
the Island with its ceaseless dash, and booming soft 
scorn through the fog. 

It breaks suddenly, and in rounding masses 
recedes. The sun bursts through the mist and shines 
into our very hearts. The clouds roll away from our 
spirits, we leap into the saddle and give galloping 
chase to the skirts of the foe. Fold upon fold it 
sweeps retreating over the Island embracing the 
few melancholy trees and leaving them glittering ; 
nor pauses at the shore, but softly over the water 
the flight of the fog continues, until our sky is rosy 
again as in the morning, and only a vague roll of 
mist muffles the horizon line of the sea. 

I rode one afternoon with Undine along the south- 
ern shore of the Island, by the lonely graves of which 
I have spoken. We could see only a few feet over 
the water, but the ocean constantly plunged sullenly 
out of the heavy fog which was full of hoarse roars 
and wailings the chaotic sound of the sea. We 
took the homeward path through the solitary fields, 
just unfamiliar enough to excite us with a vague 
sense of going astray. At times, gleams of sun- 
light, bewildered like ourselves, struggled, surprised, 
through the mist and disappeared. But strange and 
beautiful were those estrays; and I well understood 
why Turner studied vapours so long and carefully. 

Two grander figures are not in contemporary 
biography than that of Coleridge, in Carlyle's 
"Sterling," looking out from Highgate over the 
mingled smoke and vapour which buries London, as 
in lava Pompeii is buried, and that of Turner, in 
some anonymous, but accurate, sketches of his latter 
days, at his cottage on the edge of London, where. 



Newport, again 249 

apart from his fame, and under a feigned name, he 
sat by day and night upon the house-top, watching- 
the sun glorify the vapours and the smoke with the 
same splendour that he lavishes upon the evening 
west, and which we deemed the special privilege of 
the sky. Those two men, greatest in their kind 
among their companions, illustrate with happy force 
what Wordsworth sang : 

" In common tilings that round us lie, 
Some random truths he can impart, 

Tlie harvest of a quiet eye 

That broods and sleeps on his own heart." 

Gazing from his Highgate window with "large, 
gray eye," did Coleridge see more than the image 
of his own mind and his own career, in that limit- 
less city, wide-sparkling, many-turreted, fading and 
mingling in shining mist with strange voices call- 
ing from its clouds the solemn peal of cathedral 
chimes and the low voice of the vesper bell? And 
out of that London fog with its irresistible splen- 
dours, and out of the holy vapours which float serene 
amid the Alps, has Turner quarried his colossal fame. 
There is no grander lesson in any history of any art, 
than the spectacle of the greatest painter of our time, 
sitting upon his house-top, and from the mist which 
to others was but a clog and inconvenience, and 
associated in all men's minds only with link boys 
and lanterns, plucking the heart of its mystery and 
making it worshipped and remembered. 

In the evening I found myself alone upon the 
beach, surrounded by the fog. I seemed to be upon 
the hard bottom of the sea, for nothing was visible 
save occasionally the moon, as the fog thinned over 
my head the seemingly circular spot of beach upon 
which I stood and the long, white seething line of 
surf that fell exhausted along the shore. The con- 
fused moan of the sea was the only and constant 
sound. Fascinated by the strangeness of the scene, 
lost in the fog, whose murky chill lay damp upon 
my hands and face, I wandered over the beach. I 



250 Lotus-Eating 

ran, but could not escape the small round spot of 
black beach the encompassing dead white cloud 
the moon, blotted out and again revealed. I shouted 
aloud, but my voice fell flat and lost, and the murmur 
of the surf boomed in melancholy mockery. I stood 
still, but the continuous sound did not destroy the 
weird silence. I ran to the edge of the sea ; the 
water broke over my feet and slid far up the beach 
and washed my tracks away. I advanced constantly 
with no sense of progress and saw suddenly a huge, 
fantastic figure looming ominously through the fog- 
cloud and confronting me. I stopped as if an army 
had risen before me, then ran toward the figure which 
dwindled into a shapeless block, left upon the sand, 
and distorted by the mist into a goblin. 

The wildness of the feeling passed. The constant 
iteration of the sea's wail, that wandered through 
the enchanted silence as if seeking sympathy, gradu- 
ally possessed my heart with its own sadness, and 
as the fog thinned slowly, and wreathed along the 
beach, curling and falling skirts of the bowing 
drapery of Ossian's ghosts that exquisite and 
mournful song in "Alton Locke" came singing into 
my mind. You remember the scene in which the 
life of the young poet culminates in the parlour of 
the Bishop and in the presence of the Lady Eleanor. 
She has been singing a wild, melancholy air, of 
which the words were poor, but whose meaning the 
poet feels in his inmost soul, quickened as he is by 
the exhilaration and intoxication of passion in which 
he was reeling. Lady Eleanor asks for some words 
fit for the melody, and struck by what he says, 
appeals to him to write them. 

At the same moment his eyes fall upon a water- 
colour of Copley Fielding's, representing a long, 
lonely reach of sea-beach a shroud of rain drifting 
along the horizon, and straggling nets rising and 
falling upon the surf. Its utter desolation, though 
he little thinks it at the moment, images his own 
life, and returning home, in the wild whirl of name- 



Newport, again 251 



less regret and passionate sorrow, he writes the Hnes. 
It is a rare fortune for the artist that his picture is 
so perfectly translated into words. Who that feels 
the penetrating- pathos of the song^ but sees the rain- 
shroud, the stragg-ling- nets and the loneliness of the 
beach? There is no modern verse of more tragic 
reality. 

" ' O Mary, go and call the cattle home 
And call the cattle home, 
And call the cattle home, 
Across the sands o' Dee.' 
The Western wind was wild and dark wi' foam, 

And all alone went she. 
The creeping tide came up along the sand, 
And o'er and o'er the sand. 
And round and round the sand, 
As far as eye could see ; 
The blinding mist came down and hid the land, 

And never home came she. 
Oh ! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair 
A tress o' golden hair, 
O' drowned maiden's hair 
Above the nets at sea ? 
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair. 

Among the stakes on Dee. 
They rowed her in across the rolling foam, 
The cruel, crawling foam, 
The cruel, hungry foam, 
To her grave beside the sea ; 
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home 
Across the sands o' Dee." 

The night became more merciful as I sauntered 
homeward from the beach. The fog rolled away, the 
unclouded moon shone, and the air was warm and 
still. The lights were extinguished in the cottages, 
only in the great hotels some windows were yet bright. 
I turned up a lane between two of the pleasantest 
places upon the Island. Through the moonlit trees, 
like ghosts of sound haunting the moonlight, stole 
the faint tinkle of a guitar. A manly voice, rich and 
full, chimed in unison and sang this song of Brown- 
ing's, amid whose pauses the lessening murmur of 
the sea wistfully repeated that other refrain 
" Oh ! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair?" 



252 Lotus-Eating 

The difference was that between the moon-misted 
sea-beach and the moonlight garden. 

"There's a woman like a dew-diop, she's so purer than the 

purest ; 
And her noble heart's the noblest, yes, and her sure faith's the 

surest ; 
And her eyes are dark and humid, like the depth on depth of 

lustre 
Hid i' the harebell, while her tresses, sunnier than the wild grape's 

cluster. 
Gush in golden-tinted plenty down her neck's rose-misted marble, 
And her voice's music call it the well's bubbling, the bird's 

warble. 

And this woman says, ' My days were sunless and my nights were 

moonless. 
Parched the pleasant April herbage, and the lark's heart's outbreak 

tuneless, 
If vou love me not ' and I, who (ah, for words of flame !) adore 

' her! 
Who am mad to lay my spirit prostrate palpably before her 
I may enter at her portal soon, as now her lattice takes me, 
And by noontide as by midnight make her mine as hers she makes 

me." 

I hoped to have told you of the Corso or semi- 
weekly promenade at the Fort, which began gallantly 
enough, but declined rapidly because velvet-coated 
fast gentlemen would trot their fast horses over the 
ground as if it had been a race-course, and because, 
instead of forming two contrary lines of carriages, 
to enable us to pass, and see, and chat, or stopping, 
as at the Cascine in Florence, for conversation, we 
all trotted meekly one way in each other's dust. 
With our graceful carriages and the famed beauty of 
American women, this should be one of the most 
attractive features of Newport. But our exaggera- 
tion spoiled it. What American is ever going 
behind? What is the use of a 2,40, if you are to 
walk in a ring? So we must wait a little, until 
jockeys ripen into gentlemen and eagerness mellows 
into elegance. I wonder if a wit from Mercury com- 
ing to summer on the earth, would suspect that our 
Newport aim was enjoyment? 



Newport, again 253 

But there is another Fort, a circular ruin upon 
the rocky point of an island at the entrance of the 
harbour, which you can reach in a half-hour from 
Newport, and is well worth an afternoon. Deere 
recruited a party one day for the excursion. We went 
into the town and put off from the wharf in a fleet 
sail-boat. The harbour was white and alive with 
similar craft, bending- in the wind and scudding- to 
and fro. We passed under the long, low embank- 
ment of Fort Adams and across the mouth of the 
harbour to a group of mound-like rocks. Crowning 
the summit of one of them was our goal, called, 
appropriately enough from the aspect of the rocks. 
Fort Dumpling. 

You glide from the beautiful harbour directly into 
the smooth water of the cove-like reaches among the 
rocks. The bright vegetation clinging to the crevices 
of their sides is touched Turneresquely by the after- 
noon sun, and as you land upon the island, its low, 
bare, melancholy outline reminds you of days and 
feelings upon the Roman Campagna. You climb 
over the rocks, and pasture lands luxuriant with 
scentless asters, crisp everlasting, and yellow golden 
rods, and find them the only garrison of the ruined 
old fort, which is perched upon a cliff over the sea. 
They nod along the ramparts, and flame in the 
crumbling walls. Girls toss pebbles through the 
port-holes, and muse upon the distant sails at sea. 

But best of all, quaint old Newport lies white 
against its hill, and the sinking sun plays with it, 
making it what city you w-ill, of all the famous and 
stately towns upon the sea. 

Let us leave it so, the last picture of a pleasant 
Summer, beneath which we will write this inscrip- 
tion : 

"THE REAPER 
" I walked among the golden grain, 
That bent and whispered to the plain, 
' How gaily the sweet Summer passes, 
So gently treading o'er us grasses.' 



254 Lotus-Eating 



A sad-eyed Reaper came that way. 
But silent in the singing day 
Laying the graceful grain along, 
That met the sickle with a song. 

The sad-eyed Reaper said to me, 
' Fair are the Summer fields you see ; 
Golden to-day to-morrow gray ; 
So dies young love from life away.' 

' 'Tis reaped, but it is garnered well,' 
I ventured the sad man to tell : 
' Though Love declines, yet Heaven is kind- 
God knows his sheaves of life to bind.' 

More sadly then he bowed his head, 
And sadder were the words he said, 
' Tho' every Summer green the plain, 
This harvest cannot bloom ngain.' " 



THE END 



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