The Argosy, 1866 (5)

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IN dealing with the curious phenomenon of Dreaming, the materialists and spiritualists are, as usual, in extremes: the one regarding the phenomenon as mainly the result of indigestion, the other as one of the proofs of the immortality of the soul.  In the matter it may be prudent to steer a middle course.  One thing is certain, that whatever be the cause, the substance of a dream, whether it be beautiful or ghastly, depends entirely upon the dreamer.  All men dream just as all men live; but the dreams of men are as different as are their lives.  You require opium and Coleridge combined before you arrive at Kubla Khan: few men have extracted such terrors from a pork chop as Fuseli.  Every man has his own fashion of dreaming, just as every man has his own opinions, conceptions, and way of looking at things.  While asleep a man does not in the least lose his personality.  Dreams are the most curious asides and soliloquies of the soul.  When a man recollects his dream, it is like meeting the ghost of himself.  Dreams often surprise us into the strangest self-knowledge.  If a man wishes to know his own secret opinion of himself, he had better take cognizance of his dreams.  A coward is never brave in his dream, the gross man is never pure, the untruthful man lies and knows he is lying.  Dreaming is the truest confessional, and often the sharpest penance.  In sleep the will is quiescent, and dreaming is like the talking in the ranks when the men are standing at ease, and the eye of the inspecting officer is absent for the nonce; it is like the chatting of the domestics round the kitchen-fire of the castle after the lord and the lady have retired—incoherent babblement for the most part; but the men in the ranks say things that the commanding officer might ponder on occasions, and the gossiping servants, in the comfortable firelight downstairs, commenting on the events of the day, give their opinions on this thing and the other which has happened, and criticise not unfrequently the conduct of the master and mistress.  You feel your pulse when you wish to arrive at the secret of your bodily health; pay attention to your dreams if you wish to arrive at the secret of your health, morally and spiritually.

    All men dream, and the most common experience of the phenomenon is the sort of double existence which it entails.  The life of the night is usually very different from the life of the day.  And these strange spectres and shapes of slumber do not perish; they live in some obscure ante-room or limbo of memory, and reappear at times in the most singular fashion.  Most people have been startled by this reappearance.  Something of importance to you has happened quite new, quite unexpected; you are sitting in a strange railway-station waiting for the train; you have gone to see a friend in a distant part of the country, and in your solitary evening stroll you come on a pool of water, with three pollard willows, such as you see in old engravings, growing beside it, and above the willows an orange sunset through which a string of rooks are flying, and all at once this new thing which has happened wears the face of an old experience; the strange railway-station becomes familiar; and the pool, the willows, the sunset with the undulating line of rooks, seem to have been witnessed not for the first time.  This curious feeling is gone almost as swiftly as it has come; but you are perplexed with the sense of a double identity, with the emergence as of a former existence.  The feeling alluded to is so swift and intangible that often you cannot arrest it, you cannot pin it down for inspection as you would a butterfly on a card; but when you can you find that what has startled you with familiarity is simply a vagrant dream—that from the obscure limbo of the memory some occult law of association has called a wandering wraith of sleep, and that for a moment it has flitted betwixt you and the sunshine of consciousness, dimming it as it flits.

    One thing is worthy of remark, that in dreaming, in that reverie of the consciousness, men are usually a good deal cleverer than when they are awake.  You may not be much of a Shakspeare in your waking moments, but you attain to something of his faculty when your head is on the pillow.  In dreams, whatever latent dramatic power you may possess awakes and is at work.  The dreamer brings far-separated people together, he arranges them in groups, he connects them by the subtlest films of interest; and the man who is in the habit of taking cognizance of his dreams soon learns that the phantoms of men and women whom he has once known, and who revisit him in slumber, are more life-like images—talking more consistently, and exhibiting certain little characteristics and personal traits which had never been to him the subject of conscious thought—than those he is accustomed to deal with during his waking hours.  And then the strange persons and events one does dream about on occasions—persons long dead, localities known in childhood and never seen since, events which happened to yourself or to have faded out of remembrance as completely as others, and which seem to the breath of yesterday has faded from the face of the mirror.  But these things have not so faded.  There is a "Lost Office" in the memory, where all the waifs and strays of experience are taken care of.  Word and act; the evil deed and the good one; the fair woman's face which was the starlight of your boyhood; the large white moon that rose over the harvest fields in the September in which you were in love; the thrush that sang out in the garden betwixt light and dark of summer dawn, when the pressure of a hand at parting the night before kept you awake—all these things, which you suppose to have perished as utterly as the clothes you wore thirty years ago, have no more perished than you have yourself.  Memory deals with these things as a photographer deals with his negatives—she does not destroy them, she simply places them aside, for future use, mayhap.  If you are a dreamer you will know this.  And in dreams the imagination does not always deal with experience, it frequently goes beyond that, and guesses at matters of which it cannot have any positive knowledge.  There is no more common terror in dreams than that of falling over a precipice: and most dreamers are aware that in so dreaming they have felt the air cold as they cut through it in their swift rush earthwards.  This, of course, cannot be matter of experience, as those who have been so precipitated are placed conclusively out of court.  But it is curious that the dreamer should so feel that the swift imagination should not only vividly realise the descent itself, but an unimportant accessory of the descent—the chilliness of the swiftly-severed air—as well.  And then the all-absorbing fact of Death exercises an intolerable fascination over many a dreaming brain.  A man dreamed once that he, along with sixteen others, was captured on a field of battle, and that by a refinement of cruelty they were to be shot singly.  It so happened that the dreamer was the seventeenth.  The sixteenth man knelt, the levelled muskets spat fire, crackled, and he fell forward on his face.  The dreamer was then conscious of the most burning feeling of envy of the dead man—he had died, he was dead; he who was but a few yards distant, a second ago was now removed to an immeasurable distance; he had gained his rest.  And when the dreamer's turn came to kneel, and when the muskets of the platoon converged upon him, he found himself marvelling whether, between the time the bullets struck and the loss of sensation, he could interject the thought, "This is death."  Of death this man knew nothing; but even in the dream of sleep his imagination could not help playing curiously with the idea, and attempting to realize it; and in his waking moments he could not have realized it so thoroughly.  Altogether this vividness of the imagination in dreams is something with which we have no correspondence in the waking state.  A Scotch schoolboy dreams that he is being chased by the Foul Fiend, and as he flies along, he hears behind him a hard and a soft sound alternately; and this does not surprise him, because he knows perfectly that the hard sound is the clang of the cloven hoof on the roadway.  In thus unconsciously working the tradition of the cloven hoof into the body of his impression, the Scotch schoolboy has become a John Bunyan for the time being, and is far beyond his normal state of imaginative activity.  If you are aroused from sleep by hearing your own name called, you start up in bed with an impression so vivid that you fancy the sound is yet lingering in your ears.  I once heard a friend, and one not specially fanciful usually, tell how he had been one night tormented by the strangest vision.  He was asleep, and out of a curtain of darkness there hung before him a beautiful female face; and this face, as if keeping time with the moment ticks of the watch under his pillow, the beating of his pulse, the systole and diastole of his heart, was alternately beautiful—and a skull.  There, in the curtain of darkness, the apparition throbbed in regular and dreadful change.  And this strange and regularly-recurring antithesis of gloom and horror, with its spiritual meaning and significance under it—for the loveliest face that ever poet sang, or painter painted, or lover kissed, is but a skull beclothed with flesh: we are all naked under our clothes, we are all skeletons under our flesh—was as much out of my prosaic friend's usual way of thinking as crown, sceptre, and robe of state are out of a day labourer's way of life.  He was a good deal astonished at his dream, and I, with my perhaps super-subtle interpretation of it, was a good deal astonished that he should have had such a dream.  But the truth seems to be that when the will is asleep the imagination awakes and plays.  The most prosaic creature is a poet when he dreams.  Every dreamer is, for the time being, in possession of the lamp of Aladdin—the world is ductile, to be shaped as fancy wills.  And this vividness of impression in dream—the realization of strange situations, the recalling of dead persons—is not only singular, as showing the potency of imagination which, perhaps unsuspectingly, we all possess—but out of the chaos of dreams a man may now and again extract a curious self-knowledge.  The dreamer's belief in his dream is usually intense, and I suppose the man who fancied himself the seventeenth man to be shot, and who saw the muskets of the silent platoon converging upon him, felt very much as the poor mutineer does, who, seated on his coffin, sees the same thing of a raw morning; and from his dream he might discover, to some extent, how nature has steeled his nerves, how he might comport himself in deadly crises.  In dream, better often than in waking moments, a man finds out, as has been said, the private opinion he entertains of him- self; and in dreams, too, when placed in circumstances outside of his actual experience, and which in all probability will never be covered by actual experience, he becomes in some sense his own inspecting officer, and reviews his own qualities.  Through dreaming, a man is dual—he is actor and spectator: and in dreaming he is never a hypocrite; the coward never by any possibility can dream that he is brave, the liar never that he is truthful; the falsest man awake is sincere when he dreams.

    Looking into a dream is like looking into the interior of a watch; you see the processes at work by which results are obtained.  A man thus becomes his own eavesdropper, he plays the spy on himself.  Hope and fear and the other passions are all active, but then activity is uncontrolled by the will, and in remembering dreams one has the somewhat peculiar feeling of being one's own spiritual anatomist.  And as the dreaming brain concerns itself mainly with the ideas which stir the waking one, and as dreams are ruled by no known logic, conform to no recognisable laws of sequence, are stopped in career by no pale or limit, it is not in the least surprising that in remote unscientific periods men were inclined to believe that these wild guesses of the spirit and bodyings forth of its secret wishes and expectations, should be credited with prevision.  Even people in the present day, if any superstitious tincture runs in the blood, or if they are endowed with fineness of imaginative perception, find it hard to shake off the old belief.  For, come how it may, dreams, in point of fact, often do read the future.  We do not know what subtle lines of communication may radiate between spirit and spirit.  If, a century ago, a man had sent a message from London to Edinburgh in ten minutes, he would have been looked upon as the blackest of magicians; now such messages cost only a couple of shillings, and are matters of daily commerce.  That a man in London should speak to a man in Edinburgh was just as astonishing and incredible to all practical minds a century ago, as that spirit should speak with spirit is incredible to the same minds at the present day.  But the apparent prevision of dreams falls, of course, to be explained on quite other grounds than that of some supposed spiritual telegraphy.  The dreaming brain is continually busying itself with the objects of fear or desire, and that it should occasionally make a lucky guess is not an unlikely circumstance.  Suppose a man is a candidate for some office or post which he covets, the chances are that, while the bestowal of the post is yet in abeyance, he will dream either that he has obtained it, or that he has lost it; and should his dream jump with the ultimate result, he at once concludes it to be prophetic.  Suppose a man has a near relative at an Indian station, that for a couple of mails, contrary to custom, he has received no letter, and that he dreams a ship is bearing on through a sea of moonlight with the dead body of his friend on board (a result, as regards the friend, certainly on the cards, and a dream, as regards himself, not in the least improbable, on the contrary, most likely and natural should his interest in his friend be great) and that it proves true that the friend had died,—it would be difficult to convince the man that his dream had not something of prophecy in it.  If dreams are not fulfilled they are naturally forgotten, if fulfilled they are just as naturally remembered.  That dreams, working continually in the stuff of daily hope and fear, giving palpable shape and image to desire and dread, should sometimes be found to forestal the future fact, is not in the least a matter for wonder.  Such agreements are as certain to occur, by the law of chances, as that a penny, if tossed up a hundred times, will come down heads a certain number of times.  What concerns the dreamer more are the hopes and fears, the desires and aversions with which the dreaming fancy works; looking into these he may gain some information concerning himself not easily obtainable otherwise.




LUSCUS and Argyrion, rich young bloods of the period, were lounging one summer afternoon in the library belonging to the father of the latter.  They had had a wild night of it—dancing, drinking, revelling, down at certain gardens on Tiber bank, where Nero himself had appeared in person, disguised as an old herb-woman of the slums, and accompanied by a horde of shrieking bacchantes.  Luscus was hardly yet quite sober; Argyrion, who had a constitution of iron, was fresh as a daisy.  They were turning over the quaintly-ornamented leaves of an old parchment on music, written in Greek by Philodemus.  That sort of thing looked well; for the library was open to the public, and certain philosophers and grave men who frequented it would give the young rascals credit for studious habits.  Not that their mad pranks were altogether a secret, even from their papas; not that they were a bit ashamed to flirt openly with little Lollia and lissome Cynthia, their sweethearts; but they wished, at the same time, to keep up their reputation for polite pursuits.  They were critics in music, and painting, and gastronomy: they imitated the Emperor in writing verses; they had travelled, and had shallow and showy things to say on many subjects.

    "Confound the old fellow's hobby!" whispered Luscus to his friend.  These three saloons and their contents have run away with Jove knows how much good money, and the governor has the mania on him as strong as ever—it clings to him like the shirt of Alcides.  Every one of these cedar and ivory boxes is so much out of my pocket; every bit of polypus inside so much more.  Then it takes a small fortune yearly to salary the grammarians.  It is all very well to like such things in moderation, you know.  No one is fonder of a love tale, or a set of verses, than I am; but to accumulate these heaps of ancient stuff, not one leaf of which he ever reads, is abominable and ridiculous.  It makes me wild, sometimes, to see those stupid old fools poking their noses here and there, rutting out their feet like wild hogs, and grunting out their satisfaction at Bibliophile's Folly.  There goes old Crotalus, perspiring with a treatise on the Greek Symposia, and smelling of the shambles."

    "Why does not thy father spend his money sensibly—if he will spend it?" asked Argyrion, with a yawn. "My old fellow is as fond of a lark as I am myself, and Cynthia swears that she spied his sly face under a satyr's ears, last night among the revellers. Pompo, of all the old fogies, is the man for my money!"

    "Pompo!" cried Luscus, with a laugh.  "The charming, irresistible Polyposus, with the milk of Venus shining rubbly in his jolly old nose! the sweetest of puppies! the prince of coxcombs and fantastical verse-makers! the delicate little incarnation of frankincense and balsamum! royallest of liberal fools!  Thou art right, my boy.  When I am as withered without, may I still keep as much green sap within!"

    "Thou wilt never have a tithe of his riches!" said Argyrion.  "The cost of one of his suppers would consume half thy patrimony.  He can't count his wealth, 'tis so abundant.  He rears everything he consumes; he brings rams from Tarentum, and bees from Hymettus; he hath lately writ to the Indian East for mustard-seed; and so many are his slaves, that not a tithe of them know their master.  Well met, Crotalus," continued the youth, addressing the philosopher.  "Thou art busy, I see!"

    "Wool-gathering, wool-gathering!" mumbled the old gentleman.  "I have discovered a treatise—a manuscript—by Athenæus, treating with marvellous cunning of the symposias of Aspasia.  But I accosted thee to ask a question.  Art thou one of the invited to Pompo's feast to-night?"

    Argyrion stared.  He had not heard, he said, of the feast in question.

    "There will be wondrous sport for thy young blood, nevertheless," observed Crotalus, smacking his lips.  "He hath solicited verses from me to adorn two marvellous new dishes."

    "Now that I remember," cried Luscus, gleefully.  "I am one of the guests, though, heyday!  I had wholly forgotten the affair until this moment.  Thou wilt accompany me, Argyrion; I have the privilege to take a friend, and besides, thou art a favourite with the old fellow."

    "Then we shall meet there anon," said the philosopher.  And he hobbled off again to the armoury, there to bury his face anew in precious parchment, the smell of which was almost as dear to him as the scent of choice viands.

    "The thought of the gourmandizing to come makes the old glutton talk soft like a maiden," whispered Luscus to his friend.  "But come, let us bury ourselves no longer in this dust-hole of dead bones.  We will go bath, and prepare ourselves for the fun before us."

    Arm-in-arm, the friends made their way to another part of the building, where the baths were situated.  Once out of the library, they breathed more freely.  They presently entered a great court, in the centre of which was a great open basin for cold bathing, covered by an elegantly-wrought roof supported on columns.  The walls and partitions were strangely adorned—with paintings of green trees laden with golden fruits, and waters swarming with all sorts of fishes.  The pavement was mosaic.  In this court, which was quite deserted, they did not tarry, but passed hastily into the Spoliatorium.  Here they undressed and consigned their garments to the care of sleepy-looking slaves.  Then passing naked through a portico, they entered a great saloon, containing two large basins of tepid water.  Here certain guests of the master of the mansion were already disporting themselves.  Some were dipping merrily in the basins.  Others stood on the floor, going through various exercises—such as lifting heavy brazen rings, or trying, without bending the knee, to touch their heads with their feet.  Down plunged Luscus, followed by Argyrion, and flinging jests at each other, they began to swim hither and thither.  After the lapse of a few minutes, out they ran, trotting into the adjoining chamber.  "Now for Afric summer!" cried Luscu.  And it was Afric summer indeed.  The chamber was thick with warm vapour, which jetted out with a hollow sound by a large pipe in the roof.  The floor was as fire, the seats seemed red-hot, the atmosphere was heated to suffocation.  A very little of this went a long way.  The young fellows were soon perspiring at every pore, and drawing great breaths with lungs of liquid fire.  When they could endure no more, back they rushed to the Tepidarium, and after another dip in the delicious cool water consigned themselves to slaves, who rubbed their white bodies softly, until every joint seemed as lissome as the coils of snakes, and after drying them delicately with soft linen napkins, covered them with light robes.

    "I am again a Roman!" said Luscus, as they sat close to each other, lazily cutting their nails.

    "Thou wouldst be thrice a Roman," observed an elderly gentleman, who was busily endeavouring to touch his toes with his nose, "if thou wouldst eschew the hot bath.  It is an ill luxury for the young men, and I have forbade my sons to use it."

    The young scamps only laughed.  They knew the speaker as an esteemed friend of old Bibliophilus, the master of the house.  The old gentleman continued to talk, inveighing warmly against the dissipation and effeminacy of the period, but he was unheeded.  For up came the pueri unguentarii, carrying their little alabaster vases full of perfumed oils.  After being deliciously anointed, Luscus and Argyrion reassumed their attire, feeling fresh and hearty as if they had passed the previous night in refreshing sleep.  It was now time to direct their steps to the mansion of Polyposus Pompo.

    After they had procured their eating napkins, which it was the custom in those days to take with you to a feast, they set out, making their way to the finest quarter of the city; stopping on the way at a pastrycook's, to sip a little appetizing bitter drink.  Luscus discoursed confidentially, hanging on Argyrion's arm.

    "I have not only received an invitation from the sweet Polyposus, but have been requested to have an interview to-morrow with his wife, the sour Biberia!"

    "Impossible!" cried Argyrion, staring amazedly.

    "Don't make a blunder," said Luscus, quickly.  "Biberia is a pattern to her sex, and it is not that she has formed an attachment for me.  No, no!  It is notorious, on the other hand, that she is confoundedly jealous; and knowing how well I am acquainted with her husband, she has more than once set love on the watch.  She suspects the old gentleman of sending presents to a little dancing girl, Tripudia, and I guess 'tis on that business she desires to see me."

    "She hath a sweetheart, nevertheless!" observed Argyrion.  "One who is a great favourite with her husband, though he hath frequently swollen the great nose."

    "That is not true, I can swear!  But who, say you, is the man?"

    "His clothing is brittle, his head is sealed, his lips are perfumed with nard, he was born numberless years ago, and his name is—choice Falernian!  But here we are at last, at the temple of the Bromian oracle."

    In the outer gateway of the palatial residence stood a porter in green livery, cleaning peas in a golden basin; and overhead hung a speckled magpie, which blinked from its golden cage at the sunshine, and croaked "welcome" not harmoniously.  Close by was a painting, representing a huge mastiff fastened to a chain, and underneath was written in large letters—


This picture was life-like enough, and not unfrequently sent country clients into fits of fright, when they came into Rome to do business with the great man.  Passing in, the young men crossed an open court, in the centre of which was a κλεψύδρα, or water-clock, representing an old man pointing to a dial.  At that very moment the dial sounded trumpet-like, and the figure, with nine distinct blows of the hammer, struck the ninth hour.  The sun was close to its setting.

    They then approached another gate, at which stood a bilious-looking boy, crying, in a shrill voice, "Right foot foremost!" as they crossed the threshold.  To have stepped in with the left foot would have been a dreadfully bad omen,—at which even these reckless young bloods would have felt uneasy.  Entering an antechamber, they were surrounded by silent slaves, who divested them of their outer apparel and cast over them richly-wrought robes, exquisitely perfumed; and then pointed the way into the Triclinium, or banquet hall, where not a few guests were already waiting.  More than one person there looked timid and awkward, oppressed by the greatness of the house, but not so Luscus and Argyrion.  They swaggered across the hall, flung a joke at Crotalus, who sat hungry in an obscure corner, and exchanged greetings with other acquaintances.  'Twas a great saloon, twice as long as broad.  At the higher end stood the table and beds, but the lower part was left open for spectacles and games.  The hangings behind the tables were of costliest tapestry.  Painted columns, inimically woven with ivy and leaves of vine, divided the walls into partition, and each partition was a picture—fauns tippling in the woodland, bacchantes adorned with flowers, satyrs crowned with wine and armed with thyrsi, reeling tipsily round the leopard-drawn car of the young and blushing Bacchus.  The ceiling was a great frieze, forming two pictures, representing-all kinds of eatables ranged under the signs of the zodiac: under Aries, a ram's head; under Taurus, a huge bit of roast beef; under Leo, an African fig (Afric being famed for its lions); under Sagittarius, a hare; under Capricornus, a lobster (on account of its horns); and under Aquarius, a goose (because your goose is very fond of the water), and so on.  The pavement was a marvellous piece of work in mosaic, cleverly painted to seem strewn with débris from the last repast,—with flesh, with fish, with fowl, with broken dishes and wine-cups.  The banquet table was of choice wood, with huge lion's feet of massive ivory, and a covering of pure silver.  The beds, or couches, were of bronze, ornamented with silver, gold, and tortoiseshell; the mattresses of purple-tinted Gaulish linen, and the pillows stuffed with feathers and covered with many-coloured silks seamed with gold thread.  "Made at Babylon," whispered Luscus, pointing to the couches; "and cost a fortune as large as my patrimony!"  Suspended from the ceiling, or upheld by shining candelabras of precious metal, were lamps of bronze attended by slaves, whose special duty it was to cut the wicks and pour the oil.  "They filled the hall with a great blaze of brilliance, amid which sat the guests and moved the slaves, like spirits enchanted in the garden of some happy Hesperides.

    Flinging themselves on a couch, the young men resigned themselves to the care of Egyptian slaves who poured over their hands water from silver vessels, and loosening their sandals, laved their feet and pared the nails—singing all the while in a soft voice.  Indeed, no attendant moved about silently—all hummed at their work—so that, as Crotalus remarked, "the sound of the slaves was like the noise of innumerable bees on Hybla, amid which rose the conversation of the guests, like the tones of gods."  The guests, when all had assembled, might be about thirty, but the attendants seemed legion.

    While all were looking forward to the entrance of the Great Pompo, a young Athenian ventured to propose a riddle, which he gave in rhyme:

Sisters twain are we,—
    But one, as she dies, bears the other,
Yet in her turn dies she,
    And, in dying, brings forth—her mother?

    "That is not new," grunted Crotalus, the bookworm.  "'Tis a riddle of the tragedian Theodoktes, and the answer is—Day and Night.  I like not borrowed wares."

    "Thou art right, Crotalus," cried Luscus, with sly malice.  "Filched dinner-napkins are not always clean, and seldom bring good to the stealer!"

    This remark caused a general titter; for the philosopher had been more than once suspected of abstracting—in absence of mind, let us hope—the napkins of his acquaintances,—a crime which had long before caused the indignant "tollis lintea negligentiorum" of Catullus, in his hendecasyllabics to Asinius, and which was by no means unknown even among people of position.  Crotalus reddened to the ears, and would have retorted very fiercely, had not the general attention just then been drawn in another direction; for young slaves approached, singing in chorus, and sprinkling the floor with dust of precious wood, intermixed with glittering specular powder.  Then there was a playing of flutes, in the midst of which Polyposus Pompo the Great, entered smiling.

    Polyposus—so called on account of the great wen on his jolly nose—was a little tun-bellied, bald-headed man, who would have looked admirable in a bacchanalian procession, mounted on the ass of Silenus.  There was as much conceit as good-humour in his look and manner.  His face wore an effeminate smile, which showed that he was in some respects a fool, and his eyes had a shrewd twinkle, which showed that he was a bit of a knave.  He entered perspiring, and wiping his brow with a delicate napkin, taking care as he did so to show the precious jewels on his white hand,—nay, even by baring the right arm, to reveal bracelets of finely-wrought gold and ivory.  He smiled elegantly on his friends, embraced one of the most intimate, and saluted our two young men with a patronizing word of recognition.  He then gave a great yawn, as if he had just got up from bed (as indeed was the case), and getting up was a bore.

    "I had hoped," he said, "to find that you had commenced to sup, but indeed I have little to tempt the appetite.  It is not for poor men to boast of their boards.  I can offer ye but simple fare, to which I, for one, bring the sauce of hunger.  Crotalus, thou hast a longing look!  Hast thou made the verses I requested of thee?"  The philosopher having answered in the affirmative, the rich man proceeded: "I myself was thought to have a gift that way in my youth.  I will not praise myself, but ye shall see.  This will I say,—I never stooped to imitate the Greeks, as certain of our poets have done; and I dare trust mine own ear for musical numbers; nor do I wish to set up shop as a poet,—I would rather rest honest and cleanly.  But there is a time for all things, and discourse is unsavoury before meat.  We will begin."

    A burst of applause greeted this speech.  Polyposus, well pleased, sank into the central couch—half-a-dozen slaves running nimbly to prop him up with cushions—and clapped his hands.  The doors at the lower end of the hall were thrown open, and a fresh train of servants entered, laden with the first service, or ante-meal.

    At the same moment, crowns of artificial flowers were distributed among the guests, by servants singing:—

Swell me a bowl with lusty wine,
Till I may see the plump Lyaeus swim
                 Above the brim, &c.

These crowns were supposed to have a special virtue, that of preventing drunkenness, by neutralizing the vapours of wine.

    It would be tedious to note in detail all the fine things that were set before guests.  The most costly and splendid dishes, prepared by the occultist culinary skill, came and went in rapid succession.  Noteworthy in the first service were hares with wings, so adorned as to represent fabulous animals, peacocks shining in all their splendid plumage, ostrich eggs, Spanish capons, and cranes!  Luscus tried a slice of crane—a food whose only merit was that of exceeding rarity.  Argyrion would have followed his example, had not he been warned by the expression of disgust on his friend's face.  In the second service was an enormous wild boar, with palm-baskets, full of dates, hanging on his fierce tusks, and tiny sweetmeat pigs lying by his side.  At a signal from Pompo, up stepped a great cook, brandishing a glittering carving-knife, and ripping up the boar's stomach, set free a fluttering quire of live thrushes, which flew wildly into the air among the guests.  Then there was a huge platter of birds' tongues, a dish of the enormous fish called muraena, and a plate of barbel—a fish which spoiled unless it died in pickle, and which had been brought at great expense from the far shores of the western ocean.  Mean while, hither and thither passed Egyptian slaves, carrying round quaintly carved bread, and beautiful young Asians, with snow-water for the hands.  At a sign from the host, there was brought a number of bottles closely sealed, with labels round their necks bearing this inscription:—

Falernian, a hundred years old.

    "Behead!" cried Pompo; and the contents of the bottles were poured into crystal vases, perfumed, and cooled with snow.  The guests charged their glasses.

    "Friends," cried Polyposus, holding up a beaker bright with precious gems, "we dedicate the first goblet as a libation to the new moon."  So saying, he reversed his glass, and all the guests followed his example.  "Alas, my friends!" he continued, "that very wine should survive the finer stuff we men are made of.  This wine was born when Opimius was consul; deeply hath it sweated in the dark while we have been flaunting in the sunshine.  A lyric fancy struck me the other day like a box on the ear; I tingled to the finger nails as I sipped my cup; I could have cried for pleasure.  Your patience, friends, to hear this trifle."

    There was dead silence, while Pompo recited the following doggrel in a ,sing-song treble:—

"Potent Philosopher, whose breath
 Breathes wit, or love, or rage, or death,
 Thou quarrel-causer, pain-subduer,
 Potent disputer, wondrous wooer,
 May Polyposus, like to thee,
     Ere comes the time for his last sleeping,
 Each summer richer, ruddier, be,
     Grow purer and improve by keeping
 Till at the last, when I, old fellow,
     No more at yonder heav'n can blink up,
 May I, like thee, be mellow, mellow,
     And worthy for the gods to drink up!"

    The applause was tremendous.  Crotalus averred that there was no neater set of verses in the Greek; Anacreon was an ass to Pompo.  "The numbers are as milk and honey," said Luscus; "Horatius' 'ad Amphoram' cannot be compared with them."  "'Tis a trifle," murmured Pompo, fidgeting with joy.  "I would have ye hear my heroics on the wrath of Achilles, though tis unfortunate that Homer has treated the same subject before me."

    The heat of the banquet-hall was growing very oppressive, when there entered divers beautiful Spanish girls, carrying fans made with peacocks' tails, with which they gently agitated the air round the faces of the guests.  The Asian slaves then brought snow and ointments for the hands, feet, and face.  More than once Pompo, who was breathing like a porpoise baking on a hot ocean, retired to change his robe.  Presently Luscus, who had for some time given signs of great internal agony, stole from his friend's side.  As he did not return speedily, Argyrion went in search of him, and found him in a small antechamber, very sick.

    "Why, what ails thee, Luscus?" Argyrion cried.  "Art thou ill?"

    "I have been sick to death!" was the reply.  "That confounded crane hath spoiled all my pleasure—turned the very wine into wormwood.  I am better now, however, and will take care never again to taste strange dishes."

    They returned to the banquet-hall just in time to witness the feats of a tumbler, who, suspended in the air just above the groaning table, went through the most extraordinary feats, to the great diversion of the guests, who expected every moment to see him tumble down and break his neck.  Another service had been brought in—as unique as the others.  Then there was a loud cry from without, and in rushed a troop of young men in Grecian costume, brandishing swords and spears and fencing with each other.  These were the Homerists, or strolling players, whose profession it was to visit rich men's houses and recite there the verses of Homer.  On this occasion however, they chaunted no honied Greek, but the Latin verses of Polyposus about the wrath of Achilles.  The hexameters halted dreadfully, but the players made the best of them, and of course the applause was prodigious.  As the sounds died away, servants brought in a number of little images of household gods and placed them on the table, and set in the centre a skeleton made of silver.

    "Behold," said Polyposus, "our memento mori.  Eat and drink, my friends, for to-morrow we die; honour also your lares and penates, that they may be serviceable to ye here and yonder.  For myself, I am a philosopher, and neither fear nor desire death—Sic notes Polyposus?  The pale fellow beats with his sure foot at the cottages of peasants and the palaces of kings.  Invidious age forbids us to entertain long hope.  I have built mine own monument, which some of ye have seen, and I have writ mine own epitaph, which ye shall hear:—

"Gentle stranger, pause and see
     Here P
 A poor and worthy wight was he,
     Not wise, since none that live are wise,
 And yet no fool, his deeds aver,
 But poet and philosopher!
 He cannot hear his friends abuse him,
     And praise his widow's guineas yellow!
 He cannot feel his wife ill-use him
     By marrying a sillier fellow;
 But, toes and nose turn'd up, he'll doze,
     Free from the scenes where mortals flout,
 And never will his jolly nose
     Gleam like a gem at drinking bout!
 Stranger, disturb not his repose!
     Pour a libation, and get out!"

    This also earned its share of smiling praise and applause—which again put Polyposus in excellent humour.  By this time everybody was getting tipsy.  Polyposus talked very thick indeed.  Luscus saw double.  Argyrion threw nutshells with drunken mirth at the heads of his acquaintances.  Still quaffing tipsily, they listened to three Spanish girls, who sang to the lyre, and were attired voluptuously in short tunics of white thin silk.  Some one then asked, in a thick voice, if there was to be a fight of gladiators?

    "Nay," cried the host; "my old 'nerves are growing too weak for such games; I cannot abear the sight of blood, and though I have made one in the field when young, the very flash of a sword will now spoil mine appetite at times.  Last time the gladiators played here, there were two slain outright and one wounded sore under the rib.  I am for no more of it, and have indeed writ verses in dispraise of the sport."

    At a sign from Polyposus, the attendants supplied the great lamps with fresh oil, and scattered the floor afresh with glittering powder.  Pompo now discoursed, with as much flippancy as good-nature, on sculpture, history, poetry, painting, and astronomy.  The others joined, seldom disagreeing with the great man; but there was little or nothing in the conversation worth quoting.  In the obscurer parts of the chamber sat certain freedmen in waiting, talking among themselves.  What said they to all this show and luxury?  They had their fears, and dared whisper them.

    "We are threatened with a famine," said one.  "I avow to thee, Fabius, that all to-day I could not procure myself a mouthful of bread.  Provisions grow scarcer and scarcer, and the drought continues.  Curse the Aediles! They are in league with the bakers!  Poor men starve, and rich men never cease eating.  Polyposus thinks more of a new dish than of a thousand Roman lives."

    "Ay, ay," returned another. "I 'ate my clothes yesterday.  I must sell up my poor house, if the drought continues.  Gods aid us!  But why talk of gods?  Folks now-a-days don't believe Olympus is Olympus, and hold Jupiter of no more value than a flea; they shut their eyes, and eat if they can, and count their money if they have any."

    This talk was overheard by a wealthier freedman, who only laughed, saying:

    "Cheerly, my poor fellow!  Are we not going to have a grand gladiatorial combat in a few days?  There will be real sharp swords and downright slaughter this time,—a rare sight to feed on for a week.  Yet wilt thou go on grumbling?"

    The hours had been speeding by very rapidly, and presently a cock crew.  At a fresh sign from Polyposus, the slaves carried in a great vase, and filled it with choice wine, sweetened with honey and perfumed with nard.  A huge crown of fresh roses was then handed to the host, who plunged it into the wine.

    "Let us drink roses!" he cried, lifting the vase to his lips, while a flood of music from the flute-playing girls filled the banquet-hall.  The vase was then passed round from mouth to mouth.  This stirrup-cup, or draught of friendship, having been taken, the guests soon rose.  Each in turn approached the host, who was now barely able to articulate.

    "May the gods be propitious unto thee!" cried each in turn; Luscus among others adding in his sleeve, "and all poor wretches who have nothing to eat!"  But Crotalus, the philosopher, after staggering across the hall, and making several vain attempts to speak, dropped down at Polypsus' feet, thoroughly stupified with drink.  He was committed to the care of certain slaves, who had orders to dip him over the head in the cold bath ere carrying him home.

    Lastly, the guests passed forth, escorted by linkmen with torches.  The day was dawning damply in the east, and Pompo's little supper was over.


* Beware of the dog.

It has been thought unnecessary, in any part of the description, to refer to authorities, but it should be stated that these three lines are Ben Jonson's paraphrase of a bit of Horace.  The other verses in the text are original renderings.—R. B.



AN able critic of my Travels in Central Asia wrote—"Mr. Vambéry wandered because he has the wild spirit of Dervishism strong within him."  On first reading this it struck me as a little too strong, and I shall ever protest against such attribution of the title of vagabond, however refined may be the terms in which it is couched.  Still I must candidly confess that the tent, the snail shell of the nomad, if I may be allowed so to call it, has left on my memory an ineffaceable impression.  It certainly is a very curious feeling which comes over one when he compares the light tent with such seas of stone buildings as make up our European cities.  The vice of Dervishism is, to be sure, contagious, but happily not for everybody, so that there is no danger in accompanying me for a little while to Central Asia, and glancing at the contrast there presented to our fixed, stable mode of life.

    It is almost noonday.  A Kirghiz family, which has packed house and household furniture on the backs of a few camels, moves slowly over the desert towards a spot indicated to them by the raised lance of a distant horseman.  The caravan rests, according to nomad notions of rest, while thus on the march, to become lively and busy when they settle themselves down to repose according to our ideas.  Nevertheless, the elder women, seated on the bunches of camels (for the younger ones travel on foot) grudge themselves repose even then, and occupy their time in spinning a sort of yarn for sacks out of the coarser camels' hair.  Only the marriageable daughter of the family enjoys the privilege of being completely at leisure on her shambling beast.  She is polishing her necklace of coins, Russian, Ancient Bactrian, Mongolian, or Khivan, which hangs down to her waist.  So engrossed is she in her employment, that an European numismatist might take her for a fellow connoisseur; nevertheless not a movement of the young Kirghizes, who seek to distinguish themselves by all manner of equestrian gymnastics, as they caracole around the caravan, escapes her notice.

    At last the spot fixed on by the guide is reached.  An inhabitant of cities might imagine that now the greatest confusion would arise.  But no—everybody has his appointed office, everybody knows what he has to do, everything has its fixed place.  While the paterfamilias unsaddles his cooled horse and lets him loose on the pasture, the younger lads collect, with frightful clamour, the sheep and the camels, which are only too disposed to wander.  They must stay to be milked.  Meanwhile the tent has been taken down.  The old matron seizes on the latticed framework, and fixes it in its place, spitting wildly right and left as she does so.  Another makes fast the bent rods which form the vaulting of the roof.  A third sets on the top of all a sort of round cover or lid, which serves the double purpose of chimney and window.  While they are covering the woodwork with curtains of felt, the children inside have already hung up the provision-sacks, and placed the enormous tripod on the crackling fire.  This is all done in a few moments.  Magical is the erection, and as magical is the disappearance of the nomad's habitation.  Still, however, the noise of the sheep and camels, of screaming women and crying children, resounds around the tent.  They form, indeed, a strange chorus in the midst of the noonday silence of the desert.  Milking-time, the daily harvest of these pastoral tribes, is however the busiest time in the twenty-four hours.  Especial trouble is given by the greedy children, whose swollen bellies are the result and evidence of an unlimited appetite for milk.  The poor women have much to suffer from the vicious or impatient disposition of the beasts; but, although the men are standing by, the smallest help is rigorously refused, as it would be held the greatest disgrace for a man to take any part in work appointed to women.

    Once, when I had, in Ettrek, obtained by begging a small sack of wheat, and was about to grind it in a handmill, the Turkomans around me burst out into shouts of laughter.  Shocked and surprised, I asked the reason of their scornful mirth, when one approached me in a friendly manner and said—"It is a shame for you to take in hand woman's work.  But Mollahs and Hadjis are of course deficient in secular savoir faire, and one pardons them a great many such mistakes."

    After the supply of milk has been collected, and all the bags of skins (for vessels of wood or of earthenware are purely articles of luxury) have been filled, the cattle, small and great, disperse themselves over the wide plain.  The noise gradually dies away.  The nomad retires into his tent, raises the lower end of the felt curtains, and while the west wind, rustling through the fretted wood-work, lulls him to sleep, the women outside set to work on a half-finished piece of felt.  It is certainly an interesting sight to see how six, often more, of the daughters of the desert, in rank and file, roll out under their firm footsteps the felt which is wrapped up between two rush mats.  An elderly lady leads this industrial dance and gives the time.  It is she who can always tell in what place the stuff will be loose or uneven.  The preparation of the felt, without question the simplest fabric which the mind of man has invented, is still in the same stage among these wandering tribes as when first discovered.  The most common colour is grey.  Particoloured felt is an article of luxury, and snowy white is only used on the most solemn occasions.  Carpets are only to be found among the richer tribes, such as the Turkomans and the Uzbegs, as they require more skill in their manufacture and a closer contact with more advanced civilization.  The inwoven patterns are for the most part taken from European pocket-handkerchiefs and chintzes; and I was always surprised at the skill with which the women copied them, or, what is still more surprising, imitated them from memory after having once seen them.

    While the poor women are fatiguing themselves with their laborious occupation, their lord and master is accustomed to snore through his noonday siesta.  Soon the cattle return from their pasture ground and collect around the tent.  Scarcely does the afternoon begin to grow cooler, than the migrating house is in a trice broken up, everything replaced on the backs of the camels, and the whole party in full march.  This is already the second day of their journey, and yet all, men and beasts, are as lively as if they had dwelt for years on the spot, and, at length released from the talons of ennui, were delighted at the prospects of a change.

    Long after sunset, while the endless waste of the desert is gradually being over-canopied by the clear starry heaven, the caravan still plods steadily, in order to rest during the colder hours of the night under the shelter of their warm felts.  Quickly is their colossal batterie de cuisine placed on the fire; still more quickly is it emptied.  No European can have any idea of the voracious appetite of a nomad.

    The caravan has been scarcely an hour encamped before everybody has supped and retired to rest; the older members of the family within the tent, the younger ones in the open air, their flocks around them.  Only where a marriageable maiden lives is there any movement to be found.  Among the nomad tribes of central Asia, Islamism has not succeeded in carrying into effect its rigorous restrictions on the social intercourse of the sexes.  The harem is here entirely unknown.  The young nomad always knows by what star to direct his course in order to find the tent of his adored on the trackless desert.  His appearance is seldom unexpected.  The nomad young lady has already divined from what quarter the hoof-tramp will sound through the nightly stillness, and has already taken up an advanced post in that direction.  It is scarcely necessary to observe that the conversation of the two children of the desert, in this their tender rendezvous, is not quite in unison with our ideas of æsthetical propriety; but poetry is to be found everywhere, nay, I might say, is more at home in the desert than in these western countries.  Sometimes a whole company of loving couples come together, and on such occasions the dialogue, which must be in rhyme and adorned with the richest flowers of Tatar metaphor, seems as if it would never come to an end.  I was at first enchanted with listening to such conversation; but how irritated I was when I had to pass the night in the same tent with such amorous society, and in spite of all the fatigue of the day could not find quiet slumbers to refresh me!

    The above is but a faint picture of the life of the nomads during the more agreeable portion of the year. In winter, especially in the more elevated regions, where severe cold prevails, this wandering life loses everything which can give it the least tinge of poetry in our eyes. Even the inhabitants of the cities of Central Asia marvel that the nomads can support life in the bleak open country, amid fearful storms and long weeks of snow. Indeed, with a cold of 30° Reaumur*, it cannot be very pleasant to live in a tent; still even this occasions no serious inconvenience to the hardy child of Nature.  Himself wrapped up in a double suit of clothes, he doubles the felt hangings of his tent, which is pitched in a valley or some other sheltered spot.  Besides this the number of its inhabitants is increased, and when the saksaul (the root of a tree hard as stone and covered with knobs) begins to give out its heat, which lasts for hours, the want of a settled home is quite forgotten.  The family circle is drawn closer round the hearth.  The daughter of the house must continually hand round the skin of kimis.  This favourite beverage opens the heart and looses the tongue.  When, furthermore, a bachshi (troubadour) is present to enliven the winter evenings with his lays, then even the howling of the tempest without serves as music.

    When no extraordinary natural accidents, such as sand-storms or snowstorms, break in upon his regular course of life, the nomad is happy; indeed, I may say, as happy as any civilization in the world could make him.  As the nations of Central Asia have but very few wants, poverty is rare among them, and where it occurs, is by no means so depressing as with us.  The lives of the inhabitants of the desert would glide peacefully away, were it not for the tendency to indulge in feuds and foraysa leading feature in their character.  War, everywhere a curse, there draws after it the most terrible consequences which can be conceived.  Without the smallest pretext for such violence, a tribe which feels itself stronger often falls upon the weaker ones.  All who are able to bear arms conquer or die; the women, children, and herds of the fallen are divided as booty among their conquerors.  Often does it happen that a family which in the evening lay down to rest in all the blessedness of security, find themselves in the morning despoiled of parents, of freedom, and of property, and dragged into captivity far apart from one another!

    Among the Turkomans near Khiva I saw many Kirghiz prisoners, who had formerly belonged to well-to-do families.  The unfortunate creatures, who had been but a short time before rich and independent, and cherished by parents, accommodated themselves to the change of their fortunes as to some ordinary dispensation of nature.  With what honesty and diligence did they attach themselves to their masters' interests! How they loved and caressed their masters' children!  Yet these same masters were they who had robbed them of their whole property, murdered their father, and branded them for ever with the opprobrious title of "Pol" (slave).

    Buddhism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, have one after the other attempted to force their way into the steppes of upper Asia.  The first and the last have succeeded to some extent in making good their footing, but the nomads have, nevertheless, remained the same as they were at the time of the conquests of the Arabs, or of the campaigns of Alexander—the same as they were described by Herodotus.  I shall never forget the conversations about the state of the world which I had with elderly Turkomans and Kirghizes.  It is true that one can picture to oneself beforehand a specimen of ancient simplicity, but that is still something quite different from seeing before you one of these still standing columns of a civilization several millenniums old.

    The Central Asiatic still speaks of Rome (Room, modern Turkey) as he spoke in the days of the Cæsars; and when one listens to a greybeard as he depicts the might and the greatness of this land, one might imagine that the invincible legions had only yesterday combated the Parthians, and that he was present as an auxiliary.  That his Room (Turkey) is a state of but miserable proportions in comparison with old Rome, is what he cannot believe.  He has learned to associate with that name glory and power.  At the most, China may be sometimes compared to Rome for might and resources; although the legends that are told of this latter empire dwell rather on the arts and the beauty than on the valour of the Chinese people.  Russia is regarded as the quintessence of all fraud and cunning, by which means alone she has of late years contrived to effect her conquests.  As for England, it is well known that the late Emir of Bukhara, on the first occasion in which he came into contact with the British, was quite indignant "that the Ingiliz, whose name had only risen to notice within a few years, should dare to call themselves Dowlat (government) when addressing him."

    Extremely surprising to the stranger is the hospitality which is to be found among the nomads of Central Asia.  It is more abounding than perhaps in any other portion of the East.  Amongst the Turks, Persians, and Arabs, there still linger faint memories of this old duty, but our European tourists have had, I believe, ample opportunity of satisfying themselves that all the satisfying washing of feet, slaughter of sheep, and other good offices, are often only performed in the hope of a rich Bachshish, or Pishkesh, (as they say in Persian).  It is true that the Koran says, "Honour a guest, even though he be an infidel;" but this doing honour is generally the echo of orders issued from some consulate or embassy.  Quite otherwise in Central Asia.  There hospitality is, I may say, almost instinctive; for a nomad may be cruel, fierce, perfidious, but never inhospitable.

    One of my fellow-beggars went, during my sojourn among the Turkomans, on a round of begging visits, having first dressed himself in his worst suit of rags.  Having wandered about the whole day he came at evening to a lonely tent for the purpose of lodging there for the night.  On entering he was saluted in the customary friendly manner; nevertheless he soon observed that the master of the poverty-stricken establishment seemed to be in great embarrassment, and moved hither and thither as if looking for something.  The beggar began to feel very uncomfortable when at last his host approached him, and deeply blushing, begged him to lend him a few krans, in order that he might be able to provide the necessary supper, inasmuch as he himself had nothing but dried fish, and he wished to set something better before his guest.  Of course it was impossible to refuse such a request.  My comrade opened the purse which he carried under his rags, and when he had given his host five krans, everything seemed to be satisfactorily arranged.  The meal was eaten amidst the most friendly conversation, and, when it was ended, the softest felt carpet was assigned to the stranger as his couch, and in the morning he was dismissed with the customary honours.

    "I was scarcely gone half an hour from the tent," so my friend related his adventure subsequently to me, "when a Turkoman came running towards me, and with violent threats demanded my purse.  How great was my astonishment when I recognized in the person of the robber no other than my host of the precious night!  I thought he was joking, and began to address him in a friendly manner; but he grew only more and more serious.  So in order to avoid unpleasant consequences, there remained nothing for me but to hand over my purse, a few leaves of tea, my comb, and my knife, in one word, my whole property.  Having so done, I was about to proceed on my way, when he held me back, and opening my—that is to say now his—purse, and taking out five krans, gave them to me with these words:—'Take my debt of yesterday evening.  We are now quits, and you can go on your way.'"


* Ed.―the Réaumur scale is a temperature scale in which the freezing and boiling points of water are set to 0 and 80 degrees respectively.  The scale is named after René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, who first proposed it in 1731. It was eventually replaced by the Celsius scale.



SINCE the amendment of her constitution, seven or eight years ago, the University of Edinburgh has listened to some remarkable speeches—or at all events to speeches by remarkable men.  Lord Advocate Inglis's Act gave the University a Lord Chancellor and a Lord Rector; and whatever duties might devolve on those high officials, that of delivering an address to the members of the University in the largest obtainable hall was one that could not be put by.  At the first meeting of the General Council—a body consisting almost entirely of University graduates, and created by the Act referred to—Lord Brougham was elected Chancellor; and in due time the old man, almost bowed down by the weight of his gorgeous robe, appeared before the University, and discoursed on things in general for over a couple of hours.  The speech was attractive enough—to those at least who were near his lordship, and were able to hear it—but the greater attraction lay in the speaker.  The speech was heard by few, the speaker was visible to all.  And positively when he stood up before the University a certain sense of awfulness possessed one, when one thought of his immense age and intellectual vitality.  Lord Brougham lives in the printed Histories of England—and there he was a contemporary.  He rocked the cradle of the Edinburgh Review.  More than thirty years ago Byron closed his career at Missolonghi; but Brougham cut the pages of the new Hours of Idleness, and indited the famous critique—famous not in itself, but in its issues—which stung the author into a poet.  He was Canning's arch foe in the House of Commons.  He advocated the abolition of the slave trade.  He was in his prime when that old shameful affair of Queen Caroline and her husband—what ages seem to have passed over English society since then!—was in everybody's mouth.  Before many of the men who listened to him were born he had climbed into a peerage, the highest offices of State, had culminated officially and intellectually—and still there he was, white and bent and shattered, with all his ancient vivid apprehensiveness and intellectual interests, and able to speak for a couple of hours.  That his reception was enthusiastic was, of all this, the most natural consequence.  It was remembered that last century he was a scholar of the University—that he went out of the University into the world's battle, a sheet of maiden silk; and now, after more than fifty years, and while not only England, but an entire Europe had changed in the interim, he had returned to the University, creased and frayed and torn, but torn in honourable strife, and heavy with the emblazonries of many victories.  He was a great speaker in a world which exists to the present generation by hearsay and in the printed page, and to hear him speak then was like witnessing some superannuated 'Victory'—in the thickest of the fight at the Baltic and the Nile—firing a salute, the old port-holes flashing fire once more, the old cannon smoke curling around the decks.  Of the matter of the speech itself not much need be said—not a single sentence of it probably remains in the memory of any one who heard—but the sight of the old white Chancellor, who had seen and done so much, could not fail to impress itself indelibly on the memory and imagination.  Lord Brougham was the elect of the General Council of the University; and when their turn came round to choose a Lord Rector, Mr. Gladstone inherited the suffrages of the students; and before the University the present Chancellor of the Exchequer has delivered two addresses, the first some years ago, when he was installed, and the second at the close of last autumn, when he demitted office.

    On both of those occasions the interest of the University was great, but it was of a different kind from that formerly manifested.  Lord Brougham won the prestige of memory, Mr. Gladstone the prestige of expectation.  The one had finished his career long ago, the other was in the midst of his.  Lord Brougham was the winner of past Derbys, Mr. Gladstone was entered for the next, and the popular favourite.  Lord Brougham interested the University seniors, Mr. Gladstone the University juniors—the one represented the past, the other was the embodiment of the present.  Critically speaking, Mr. Gladstone's addresses, if more polished and graceful than Lord Brougham's, were not on the whole of greater mental calibre.  They were fluent, colourless, rhetorical, expatiatory—if one may coin a word to express one's meaning in the rough; and being devoid of every tincture of individuality, and glancing rapidly over the surfaces of things, they gave one no idea what manner of man the speaker was, or what quality of mind he possessed.  The only thing which Mr. Gladstone made sufficiently evident was, that he could speak eloquently on any subject for any given number of hours.  The balanced periods, as they fell on the ear, seemed to have a meaning; the sentiments evoked applause from the younger portions of the auditory, when they were uttered; but when read in the newspapers next morning, and divorced from the charm of voice, the whole thing seemed incredibly flat and unprofitable.  The truth is that before the University Mr. Gladstone did not prove himself so much an orator, or a thinker, as an elocutionist.  And his elocution was really something marvellous.  His self-possession was complete; he stood beside the reading clerk in an easy attitude; his hands were not incumbrances; the Rectorial robe lent him dignity; the grave, severe, somewhat melancholy, almost ascetic face, furrowed and lined "like the side of a hill where the torrents hath been;" the finely-moulded mouth, with its immense capacity of scornful emphasis—of which perhaps Mr. Disraeli is sufficiently aware—was worth study; and then the voice—now silvery as Belial's, now resonant in the higher passages, now solemn in the hortatory ones—of which passages there were perhaps a superabundance—who will sing its praises?  Mr. Gladstone's voice is the finest to which I ever listened; and during his valedictory address of nearly three hours—while my past life seemed to have been sponged out and obliterated, and as far back as flagging memory could extend her wing, the orator was still going on—no hoarseness jarred the music of his tones, and his closing sentence was as clear and bell-like in its cadence as the first.  One would suppose that, as a general rule, to speak for three hours is a more arduous task than to listen for the same space of time; yet when he sat down, Mr. Gladstone seemed much less fatigued than any of his auditors.  Mr. Gladstone has the reputation of being the most accomplished speaker of his time; and if in these addresses before the University he did not quite fulfill popular expectation, the reason was perhaps to be discovered easily enough.  His addresses were carefully composed beforehand, and if recited as only Mr. Gladstone could, they were recitations all the same.  On the occasions referred to he was master of the situation just as a preacher is on Sundays.  There was no interruption to chafe, no opposition to excite, no heat of debate to energize and spur the intellect to an activity than than normal.  Mr. Gladstone, speaking to the Metropolitan Scottish University about the old Greek poets; and Mr. Gladstone on a grand field night in the Commons, carrying fire and terror into the ranks of the Opposition, are conceivably two very widely-separated individuals.  There is the same difference between rhetoric hot and rhetoric cold, as there is between red-flowing lava and porous pumice-stone.

    Mr. Gladstone demitted office, and then it behoved the students of the University to cast about for a worthy successor.  Two candidates were proposed, Mr. Carlyle and Mr. Disraeli; and on the election day Mr. Carlyle was returned by a large and enthusiastic majority.  This was all very well, but a doubt lingered in the minds of many whether Mr. Carlyle would accept the office, or if accepting it, whether he would deliver an address—said address being the sole apple which the Rectorial tree is capable of bearing.  The hare was indeed caught, but it was doubtful somewhat whether the hare would allow itself to be cooked after the approved academical fashion.  It was tolerably well known that Mr. Carlyle had emerged from his long spell of work on Frederick, in a condition of health the reverse of robust; that he had once or twice before declined similar honours from Scottish Universities—from Glasgow some twelve or fourteen years ago, and from Aberdeen some seven or eight; and that he was constitutionally opposed to all varieties of popular displays, more especially those of the oratorical sort.  But all dispute was ended when it was officially announced that Mr. Carlyle had accepted the office of Lord Rector, that he would conform to all its requirements, and that the Rectorial address would be delivered late in spring.  And so when the days began to lengthen in these northern latitudes, and crocuses to show their yellow and purple heads, people began to talk about the visit of the great writer, and to speculate on what manner and fashion of speech the great writer would deliver.

    Edinburgh has no University Hall—Mr. Gladstone holding high office therein for six years, and having the command of the purse strings of the nation during the entire period, might have done something to remedy that defect, many think—and accordingly when speech-day approached, the largest public room in the city was chartered by the University authorities.  This public room—the Music Hall in George-street—will contain, under severe pressure, from eighteen hundred to nineteen hundred persons, and tickets to that extent were secured by the students and members of the General Council.  Curious stories are told of the eagerness on every side manifested to hear Mr. Carlyle.  Country clergymen from beyond Aberdeen came into Edinburgh for the sole purpose of hearing and seeing.  Gentlemen came down from London by train the night before, and returned to London by train the night after.  Nay, it was even said that an enthusiast, dwelling in the remote west of Ireland, intimated to the officials who had charge of the distribution, that if a ticket should be reserved for him, he would gladly come the whole way to Edinburgh.  Let us hope a ticket was reserved.  On the day of the address, the doors of the Music Hall were besieged long before the hour of opening had arrived; and loitering about there on the outskirts of the crowd, one could not help glancing curiously down Pitt-street, towards the "lang town of Kirkcaldy," dimly seen beyond the Forth—for on the sands there, in the early years of the century, Edward Irving was accustomed to pace up and down solitarily, and "as if the sands were his own," people say, who remembered, when they were boys, seeing the tall, ardent, black-haired, swift-gestured, squinting man, often enough.  And to Kirkcaldy too, as successor to Edward Irving in the Grammar School, came young Carlyle from Edinburgh College, wildly in love with German and Mathematics—and the school-room in which these men taught, although incorporated in Provost Swan's manufactory, is yet kept sacred and intact, and but little changed these fifty years—an act of hero-worship for which the present and other generations may be thankful.  It seemed to me that so glancing Fife-wards, and thinking of that noble friendship,—of the David and Jonathan of so many years gone,—was the best preparation for the man I was to see and the speech I was to hear.  David and Jonathan!  Jonathan stumbled and fell on the dark hills not of Gilboa, but of Vanity; and David sang his funeral song.  "But for him I had never known what the communion of man with man means.  His was the freest, brotherliest, bravest human soul mine ever came in contact with.  I call him on the whole the best man I have ever, after trial enough, found in this world, or now hope to find."

    In a very few minutes after the doors were opened the large hall was filled in every part, and when up the central passage the Principal, the Lord Rector, the Members of the Senate, and other gentlemen advanced towards the platform, the cheering was vociferous and hearty.  The Principal occupied the chair of course, the Lord Rector on his right, the Lord Provost on his left.  When the platform gentlemen had taken their seats every eye was fixed on the Rector.  To all appearance, as he sat, time and labour had dealt tenderly with him.  His face had not yet lost the country bronze which he brought up with him from Dumfriesshire as a student fifty-six years ago.  His long residence in London had not touched his Annandale look, nor had it as we soon learned—touched his Annandale accent.  His countenance was striking, homely, sincere, truthful—the countenance of a man on whom "the burden of the unintelligible world" had weighed more heavily than on most.  His hair was yet almost dark; his moustache and short beard were iron grey.  His eyes were wide, melancholy, sorrowful; and seemed as if they had been at times a-weary of the sun.  Altogether in his aspect there was something aboriginal, as of a piece of unhewn granite, which had never been polished to any approved pattern, whose natural and original vitality had never been tampered with.  In a word, there seemed no passivity about Mr. Carlyle—he was the diamond, and the world was his pane of glass; he was a graving tool rather than a thing graven upon—a man to set his mark on the world—a man on whom the world could not set its mark.  And just as, glancing towards Fife a few minutes before, one could not help thinking of his early connection with Edward Irving, so seeing him sit beside the venerable Principal of the University, one could not help thinking of his earliest connection with literature.  Time brings men into the most unexpected relationships.  When the Principal was plain Mr. Brewster, editor of the Edinburgh Cyclopædia, little dreaming that he should ever be Knight of Hanover and head of the Northern Metropolitan University, Mr. Carlyle—just as little dreaming that he should be the foremost man of letters of his day and Lord Rector of the same University—was his contributor, writing for said Cyclopædia biographies of Voltaire and other notables.  And so it came about that after years of separation and of honourable labour, the old editors and contributor were brought together again—in new aspects.  The proceedings began by the conferring of the degree of LL.D. on Mr. Erskine of Linlathen—an old friend of Mr. Carlyle's—on Professors Huxley, Tyndall, and Ramsay, and on Dr. Rae, the Arctic explorer.  That done, amid a tempest of cheering and hats enthusiastically waved, Mr. Carlyle, slipping off his Rectorial robe—which must have been a very shirt of Nessus to himadvanced to the table and began to speak in low, wavering, melancholy tones, which were in accordance with the melancholy eyes, and in the Annandale accent with which his playfellows must have been familiar long ago.  So self-contained was he, so impregnable to outward influences, that all his years of Edinburgh and London life could not impair even in the slightest degree, that.  The opening sentences were lost in the applause, and when it subsided, the low, plaintive, quavering voice was heard going on, "Your enthusiasm towards me is very beautiful in itself, however undeserved it may be in regard to the object of it.  It is a feeling honourable to all men, and one well known to myself when in a position analogous to your own."  And then came the Carlylean utterance, with its far-reaching reminiscence and sigh over old graves—Father's and Mother's, Edward Irvine's, John Sterling's, Charles Buller's, and all the noble known in past time—and with its flash of melancholy scorn.  "There are now fifty-six years gone, last November, since I first entered your city, a boy of not quite fourteen—fifty-six years ago—to attend classes here and gain knowledge of all kinds, I knew not what—with feelings of wonder and awe-struck expectation; and now, after a long, long course, this is what we have come to."  (Hereto certain blockheads, with a sense of humour singular enough, loudly cachinnated!)  "There is something touching and tragic, and yet at the same time beautiful, to see the third generation, as it were, of my dear old native land, rising up and saying, 'Well, you are not altogether an unworthy labourer in the vineyard.  You have toiled through a great variety of fortunes and have had many judges.'"  And thereafter, without aid of notes or paper preparation of any kind, in the same wistful, earnest, hesitating voice, and with many a touch of quaint humour by the way, which came in upon his subject like glimpses of pleasant sunshine, the old man talked to his vast audience about the origin and function of Universities, the old Greeks and Romans, Oliver Cromwell, John Knox, the excellence of silence as compared with speech, the value of courage and truthfulness, and the supreme importance of taking care of one's health.  "There is no kind of achievement you could make in the world that is equal to perfect health.  What to it are nuggets and millions?  The French financier said—'Alas! why is there no sleep to be sold?'  Sleep was not in the market at any quotation."  But what need of quoting a speech which by this time has been read by everybody?  Appraise it as you please, it was a thing per se.  Just as, if you wish a purple dye you must fish up the Murex; if you wish ivory you must go to the east; so if you desire an address such as Edinburgh listened to the other day, you must go to Chelsea for it.  It may not be quite to your taste, but, in any case, there is no other intellectual warehouse in which that kind of article is kept in stock.

    Criticism and comment, both provincial and metropolitan, have been busy with the speech, making the best and the worst of it; but it will long be memorable to those who were present and listened.  Beyond all other living men Mr. Carlyle has coloured the thought of his time.  He is above all things original.  Search where you will, you will not find his duplicate.  Just as Wordsworth brought a new eye to nature, Mr. Carlyle has brought a new eye into the realms of Biography and History.  Helvellyn and Skiddaw, Grasmere and Fairfield, are seen now by the tourist even, through the glamour of the poet; and Robespierre and Mirabeau, Cromwell and Frederic, Luther and Knox, stand at present, and may for a long time stand, in the somewhat lurid torchlight of Mr. Carlyle's genius.  Whatever the French Revolution may have been, the French Revolution, as Mr. Carlyle conceives it, will be the French Revolution of posterity.  If he has been mistaken, it is not easy to see from what quarter rectification is to come.  It will be difficult to take the "sea-green" out of the countenance of the Incorruptible, to silence Danton's pealing voice or clip his shaggy mane, to dethrone King Mirabeau.  If with regard to these men Mr. Carlyle has written wrongfully, there is to be found no redress.  Robespierre is now, and henceforth in popular conception, a prig; Mirabeau is now and henceforth a hero.  Of these men, and many others, Mr. Carlyle has painted portraits, and whether true or false, his portraits are taken as genuine.  And this new eye he has brought into ethics as well.  A mountain, a daisy, a sparrow's nest, a mountain tarn, were very different objects to Wordsworth from what they were to ordinary spectators; and the moral qualities of truth, valour, honesty, industry are quite other things to Mr. Carlyle from what they are to the ordinary run of mortals—not to speak of preachers and critical writers.  The gospel of noble manhood which he so passionately preaches is not in the least a novel one, the main points of it are to be found in the oldest books which the world possesses, and have been so constantly in the mouths of men that for several centuries past they have been regarded as truisms.  That work is worship; that the first duty of a man is to find out what he can do best, and when found, "to keep pegging away at it," as old Lincoln phrased it; that on a lie nothing can be built; that this world has been created by Almighty God; that man has a soul which cannot be satisfied with meats or drinks, or fine palaces and millions of money, or stars and ribands—are not these the mustiest of commonplaces, of the very utterance of which our very grandmothers would be ashamed?  It is true they are most commonplace—to the commonplace; that they have formed the staple of droning sermons which have set the congregation asleep; but just as Wordsworth saw more in a mountain than any other man, so in these ancient saws Mr. Carlyle discovered what no other man in his time has.  And then, in combination with this piercing insight, he has, above all things—emphasis.  He speaks as one having authority—the authority of a man who has seen with his own eyes, who has gone to the bottom of things and knows.  For thirty years the gospel he has preached, scornfully sometimes, fiercely sometimes, to the great scandal of decorous persons not unfrequently: but he has always preached it sincerely and effectively.  All this Mr. Carlyle has done; and there was not a single individual perhaps, in his large audience at Edinburgh the other day, who was not indebted to him for something—on whom he had not exerted some spiritual influence more or less.  Hardly one perhaps—and there were many to whom he has been a sort of Moses leading them across the desert to what land of promise may be in store for them; some to whom he has been a many-counselled, wisely-experienced elder brother; a few to whom he has been monitor and friend.  The gratitude I owe to him is—or should be—equal to that of most.  He has been to me only a voice, sometimes sad, sometimes wrathful, sometimes scornful; and when I saw him for the first time with the eye of flesh stand up amongst us the other day, and heard him speak kindly, brotherly, affectionate wordshis first appearance of that kind, I suppose, since he discoursed of Heroes and Hero Worship to the London people—I am not ashamed to confess that I felt moved towards him, as I do not think in any possible combination of circumstances I could have felt moved towards any other living man.




I INVITE you to inspect my show of marriage knick-knacks.  It embraces oddities from all the ends of the earth.  A pictorial exhibition mainly, with a minimum of pattering.  One word at the outset, and then—the show in silence.  Let me turn up the lights.

    When men were very rude it was a law among them—never mind its origin—that a man should not marry a woman of his own group or tribe.  Wives had to be procured from foreign groups.  And as the relations of the groups were uniformly hostile, wives could only be procured by fighting for them, or by suddenly catching them or running them down when found alone and unprotected.  There are still races of men so rude that they systematically get wives by these methods; there are others with whom the system of capturing women for wives appears in states of progress towards a symbolism; others, again, with whom that system is perfectly symbolized.  After the necessity for such a system has been superseded, the people, out of respect to ancient usage, long continue to mimic in their marriages the ancient methods of getting wives.

    A marriage ceremony in which any one of these methods is mimicked I call the Form of Capture.  This form occurs, then, whenever, after a contract of marriage, it is considered essential to the constitution of the marriage that the bridegroom and his friends should carry off the bride as the prize of victory in a simulated conflict with her relations; should feign to catch or steal her, or to make her a captive after pursuit.  Its commonest shape is the simulated conflict; but "bride-catching," and "bride racing," are not unfrequent.  The form is also found in various states of disintegration.

    Till I made it the subject of a speculation no collection had been made of examples of this form.  I have recently discovered several, and no doubt many are yet to be discovered.  The authors in whose books they appear are usually ignorant of such a form being observed anywhere except in their own districts, and they have no explanations to offer of the meaning or origin of what they consider a purely local custom.  The disadvantage of this is, that the examples have to be picked up one by one; the advantage is, that we may trust the writers, since their narratives are untainted by theory or hypothesis.

    My show consists of a collection of the best (known) examples of the form.  I shall exhibit, first, cases in which the leading idea symbolised is the capture of the bride after a conflict with her kinsmen, putting to the front some cases in which there is the idea of a siege of the bride's house; I shall next exhibit cases in which the simple "catching" of the bride, or her capture after a race, is feigned; and I shall lastly exhibit some instances of the form in states of disintegration.  So, now you know what to expect, I shall without farther preface open the entertainment.

    The People of Berry, in France, observe in their marriages several complex ceremonials.  Among them is the form of capture, of which we have a lucid description from the skilled pen of George Sand.

    The marriage day having arrived, the bride and her friends shut themselves up in the home of the bride, barricade the doors, bar the windows, and otherwise prepare as if for a siege.  In due course the bridegroom and his friends arrive, and seek admittance.  They try, at first, to obtain it by a variety of ruses made in course of a long conversation between the spokesmen of the parties.  For example, they are weary pilgrims wanting rest; robbers fleeing from the police and seeking an asylum.  Admittance being refused, they assail and batter at the doors; try, as it were, to take the place by storm.  Those within the house become active in its defence.  Pistols are fired on both sides, and the barking of dogs, the shouts of the men and outcries of the women, swell the uproar.  When they are wearied there is a parley and another conversation, which, like the preceding, is after a prescribed traditionary pattern.  They are at last admitted on stating that they have brought a husband and presents for the bride.  Then commences a fresh struggle, for the possession of the hearth.  The incidents of attack and defence are again simulated, and with such an appearance of reality that broken ribs and heads are the not unfrequent result.  The issue, of course, is that the assailants are victorious, the struggle being perconcerted.  The bridegroom obtains his bride, and the more peaceful ceremonies of the marriage are proceeded with.

    Are the Berricors French?  I could believe them to be a Mongolian tribe, or its debris, the ceremony I have described so closely resembles the form of capture as observed among the Mussulmans of India.  Among these, in their weddings, when the bridegroom, attended by his friends in procession, arrives at the house of the bride, he finds the gate shut and guarded.  He attempts to get in by a ruse.  "Who are you that dare obstruct the king's calvalcade?"  The answer is, "Why, at night, so many thieves rove about, it is very possible you are some of them."  A long jocular conversation follows, ending in a struggle.  "At times, out of frolic, there is such pushing and shoving, that frequently many a one falls down and is hurt."  The broken ribs and heads again!  They are at last admitted on paying a sum of money.  Then follows a sham fight within the gates; after which and other ceremonials the bridegroom carries off his bride.

    From France to India; from India to Central Africa.  Among the inland negroes we again meet the form of a siege.  "When the preliminaries of the marriage are adjusted, the bridegroom, with a number of his companions, set out at night and surround the house of the bride, as if intending to carry her off by force.  She and her female attendants, pretending to make all possible resistance, cry aloud for help, but no person appears."  The house is quietly stormed and the bride carried off in triumph.  Here the bridegroom is the midnight invader of the hamlet, temporarily deserted by its guardians.  The braves feign absence; the women unprotectedness.  The moment of unprotectedness is the moment of opportunity.  There is the siege, but the capture smacks more of theft than robbery.

    The symbol of the siege in Transylvania is indistinct.  When the bridegroom and his friends arrive at the bride's house they find the door locked.  The bridegroom must, as best he can, climb over into the court, open the door from within, and admit his companions.  The authority for this disposes of it in three lines, as a matter of little consequence.  How much has he omitted?  He has stated enough to enable us to recognise the siege shorn of several of its features.  It is undoubtedly the form of capture which occurs in this district, in almost all its shapes.

    The form of capture among the Circassians takes its shape from the daring of the wild mountaineers.  Since there can be no marriage without the pretence of capture, the capture must be feigned in a form to which a Circassian might hold his face before the leaders of his tribe.  The marriage day has come; the wedding is being celebrated in the bride's house with noisy feasting and revelry.  "Suddenly the bridegroom rushes in and, with the help of a few daring young men," carries off the lady by force.  "And by this process she becomes his lawful wife."  Details are wanting.  But why "the few daring young men?"  Doubtless, because the show of opposition is carried a considerable length.  There is prearrangement, but that includes resistance; and the games of rude men are apt to be rude.  This ceremony, it is said, is observed throughout the Caucasus, and beyond them among the Nogais and Kirghiz.

    When these tribesmen become more civilized, in what shape will they the retain the form?  Perhaps in the shape in which, at Rome, it was observed in the plebeian marriages.  In ancient Rome the form of capture was observed in all marriages, but the invasion of the bride's house was feigned only in those of the plebeians.  It was essential in these marriages that the bridegroom and his friends should invade the house of the bride, and tear her, with feigned violence, from her mother's lap, or that of her nearest female relative, if her mother were dead or absent.  The lady, of course, in the proper lap, waited the bridegroom coming.  To this ceremony Virgil makes allusion in the line

Quid soceros legere, et gremiis abducere pastas.

    It is understood to have been had in view by Apuleius, in the story of the Captive Damsel.  The seizure is there vividly described.  The bride is dressed in nuptial apparel, and her mother, loading her with kisses, is looking forward to her married life.  On a sudden, what seems a band of robbers enters the house.  With glittering swords, they make straight for her chamber, in a compact column; and, unopposed by the servants, tear her away from her mother's bosom.  The symbol is here suited to the political state.  Instead of the rush of wild tribesmen, as in the Caucasus, we have the march of a disciplined soldiery.

    In all these cases there is the idea of a siege, or invasion of the bride's house.  There is the simulated conflict in the Berricors, Mussulman, and Caucasian examples; and in the African, Transylvanian, and Roman examples, the form is probably partly disintegrated, but not necessarily, for it might be the practice of a tribe, in their expeditions for wives, to invade their neighbours' hamlets only, or usually, when the braves were absents.  In all the examples which come next, the simulation of a conflict is more or less perfect.

    I take first the Mongols of the Ortous. The marriage day having arrived, the bridegroom sends early in the morning a deputation to fetch his "betrothed."  "When the envoys draw near," says M. Hue, "the relations and friends of the bride place themselves in a circle before the door, as if to oppose the departure of the bride; and then begins a feigned fight, which of course terminates in the bride being carried off.  She is placed on a horse, and having been led thrice round her paternal home, is taken at full gallop to the tent which has been prepared for her near the dwelling of her father-in-law."  Thereafter the relations and friends of both families repair to the wedding feast.

    The same ceremony is observed in Kalmuck marriages, especially in those of the noble or princely class.  After the bargain for the bride, the bridegroom sets out on horseback, accompanied by the chief nobles of his horde, to carry her off.  "A sham resistance," says De Hell, "is always made by the people of her camp, in spite of which she fails not to be borne away on a richly-caparisoned horse, with loud shouts and feux de joie."  There are various hordes of the Kalmucks, and we find the form of capture among them, not only as the simulated conflict, but also as "bride-racing," and in disintegrated forms.

    In Muscovy, Lithuania, and Livonia, down till the sixteenth century, might be seen the reality which is symbolised in the two preceding cases.  An actual capture, and its incidents, always preceded the negotiations for the consent of the bride's parents, which by this time Christianity had made essential to marriage.  The reality is to be seen to this day (as an exceptional and irregular proceeding, however) among both Kalmucks and Mongols.  A young man wants a wife, and knows of an eligible girl living in a certain youl.  If her relations decline his suit, or he cannot pay the price they demand, his kinsmen mount their horses, sweep down on the place, and capture the girl.  They have either to conquer her friends then and there, or they are pursued, and the result is "a cavalry engagement."  Were De Hell's account expanded it would probably furnish us with the semblance of such a fight among the Kalmucks.  Curiously enough, we find the form of capture in this shape at home among the Welsh.  Lord Karnes says that the following ceremony was in his day, or at least had till shortly before, been customary among the Welsh.  "On the morning of the wedding, the bridegroom, attended by his friends on horseback, demands the bride.  Her friends, who are likewise on horseback, give a positive refusal, upon which a mock scuffle ensues.  The bride, mounted behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off, and is pursued by the bridegroom and his friends, with loud shouts.  It is not uncommon, on such an occasion, to see two or three hundred sturdy Cambro-Britons riding at full speed, crossing and jostling, to the no small amusement of the spectators.  When they have fatigued themselves and their horses, the bridegroom is suffered to overtake his bride.  He leads her away in triumph, and the scene is concluded with feasting and festivity."  This is perfect.  It is valuable also as hinting that the simulated fight might pass into mere bride-racing."

    Is it credible that the Welsh had an early experience as nomad horsemen?  And had the Irish such an experience?  In the Irish example of the simulated fight, we again have the parties on horseback, mimicking war in old Scythic fashion.  "In their marriages," says Sir Henry Piers, "especially in those counties where cattle abound, the parents and friends on each side meet on the side of a hill, or, if the weather be cold, in some place of shelter, about midway between both dwellings.  If agreement ensue, they drink the agreement bottle, which is a good bottle of usquebaugh, and this goes merrily round."  Arrangements are then made for the payment of the marriage dowry, and probably for "the bringing home."  "On the day of bringing home, the bridegroom and his friends ride out and meet the bride and her friends at the place of meeting.  Being come near each other, the custom was of old to cast short darts at the company that attended the bride, but at such a distance that seldom any hurt ensued.  Yet it is not out of the memory of man that the Lord Hoath on such an occasion lost an eye!"  Of older date, no doubt, there was the perfect semblance of a battle.  The symbol, as recorded, is partly disintegrated, but it is very singular to find, in the simulation of the bridegroom's attack, down to the seventeenth century, the short darts of old Celtic warfare.

    Piers speaks of "the bringing home."  A correspondent informs me of an Irish ceremony called "Hauling home the bride."  "It consists," he says, "of a pretended abduction, after the church ceremony has been performed, and illustrates in a curious manner the perpetuation of the idea of marriage by capture."  A gentleman living in the north of Ireland, a member of the Irish Bar and of the Irish Academy, assures me that among the peasantry in Derry, within his recollection, the system of capture existed in a stage of transition towards a symbolism.  The bridegroom and his friends surrounded the woman's house at night, seized her, and carried her off to the mountains, where they lodged her in the safe keeping of some neutral persons.  They then opened negotiations with her parents for their consent to the marriage!  This is the exact stage of transition which was reached, according to Magnus and Gaya, two or three centuries ago in parts of Prussia, Russia, and Poland.  In Ireland it is well known abduction is hardly yet popularly regarded as a crime.  To illustrate the state of mind of the people of Derry about marriage, my informant says, that on one occasion, being uncertain of the date of an occurrence, he asked his man-servant if he remembered it.  The answer was, "Oh sure, and it was the year we ran off with mistress!"

    In some parts of the Highlands of Scotland, and in some districts in Aberdeenshire, it is common for the parties of the bride and bridegroom in procession to a point of meeting midway between their dwellings, and on the way to the minister's.  I am informed that as the parties approach they fire volleys at one another from pistols and muskets, and that on the way home the marriage party is fired at nearly all the way.  Is this the simulated conflict?  I should not doubt it but for the commonness of employing firearms in the Highlands in all demonstrations of joy.  It most probably, however, is the form of capture.  Mr. Logan, in his book on the Highland clans, gives some facts which go to show that the Highlanders had anciently the system of capture, and till lately observed the form.  And he does so apropos of Sir Henry Piers' account, above cited, of the form in Ireland.

    I am away again to the East and back to the Tartar stock. The Kookies, of whom there are several tribes on the north-east frontier of India, are fair representatives of the whole population, from Cape Negrais northwards, through Chittagong and Tipper, to the Naga settlements above Munniepore.  They observe the form.  "The Kookies," says Colonel McCulloch, "have no marriage ceremony.  When they go to bring away the bride, after having paid for her, they usually receive more kicks than halfpence from the village; that is, they usually get well beaten.  But, after the fight is over, the woman is quietly brought from her home and given to the party that came for her, outside the village gate."  This is peculiar, as victory appears on the bride's side; but it is undoubtedly the simulated conflict.  There is rough usage, but not really fighting, as is proved by the issue.

    In the hill tracts of Orissa we find the simulated conflict among the Khonds.  It is somewhat disintegrated.  The marriage being agreed upon, a feast, to which the families of the parties equally contribute, is prepared at the dwelling of the bride.  "To the feast," says Major M'Pherson, "succeed dancing and song.  When the night is far spent, the principals in the scene are raised by an uncle of each upon his shoulders, and borne through the dance.  The burdens are suddenly exchanged, and the uncle of the youth disappears with the bride.  The assembly divides into two parties: the friends of the bride endeavour to arrest, those of the bridegroom to cover, her flight; and men, women, and children mingle in mock conflict, which is often carried to great lengths."  "On one occasion," says Major-General Campbell, "I heard loud cries proceeding from a village close at hand.  Fearing some quarrel, I rode to the spot, and there I saw a man bearing away upon his back something enveloped in an ample covering of scarlet cloth; he was surrounded by twenty or thirty young fellows, and by them protected from the desperate attacks made upon him by a party of young women.  On seeking an explanation of this novel scene, I was told that the man had just been married, and his precious burden was his blooming bride, whom he was conveying to his own village.  Her youthful friends, as it appears is the custom, were seeking to regain possession of her, and hurled stones and bamboos at the head of the devoted bridegroom until he reached the confines of his own village.  Then the tables were turned, and the bride was fairly won; and off her young friends scampered, screaming and laughing, but not relaxing their speed till they reached their own village."  The same ceremony, or some modification of it, may be presumed to prevail among the Koles, the Khonds, and the other congeners of the Khonds; but we are without authority on the subject.

    Major M'Pherson had been in the Caucasus as well as in India, and was aware of the form of capture as a marriage ceremony among the Circassians.  He seems to have been much struck by its singularity, and mentions that a similar ceremony is observed among the Hindus.  Unfortunately, he gives no details, and, apart from his statement, I have no authority that the simulated conflict is observed by the Hindus.  I have authority, however, for the statement that in a disintegrated shape the form of capture was an ancient Hindu marriage rite.  This, as a much disintegrated shape, I shall notice hereafter.

    If the Hindus and Romans, of high Aryan lineage, had the form, how was it with the Greeks?  They also observed the form of capture.  The evidence that they observed it otherwise than as "bride-racing," relates to the Dorians only; but what was true of them was, most probably, true anciently of all the Greek tribes; for the Dorians differed from the others chiefly through having better preserved the ancient customs.

    Demaratus, says Herodotus, robbed Leotychides of his bride, his betrothed, by forestalling him in carrying her off and marrying her.  This was actual abduction; but the language implies that it remained for Leotychides, in order to make the lady his wife, that he should go through the form of carrying her off.  In other words, capture was, equally with betrothal, requisite as a preliminary of marriage; nay, as the case of Demaratus shows, it made marriage, though there was no preceding contract,—good law among all the ruder races that observe the form.  But the matter is not left to inference.  Plutarch expressly states that the Spartan bridegroom always carried off the bride with feigned violence.  He says, indeed, "with violence."  I suppose there was always a good show of it; but the seizure came after the betrothal and was itself concerted.  Latterly it sufficed to seize the bride and carry her from one room to another—a disintegrated shape of the form; but anciently there must have been the simulated conflict.

    Such are the leading instances of the simulated conflict.  Let us now proceed to the cases of bride-racing and bride-catching.  Numerous hints in the Greek legends, which it would be tedious to examine, show that the Greeks had the form in the shape of "bride-racing."  The story of Atalanta and Hippomenes is familiar, and there are varieties of the story.  She is an Arcadian, at first in Thessaly; then in Tegea.  She is the daughter of Schœneus, Iasus, or Mænelos; the successful lover is Hippomenes, or Mertanon.  The supposition is there were several Atalantas, at least two or three, an Arcadian, Bœotian, and Argeian.  This implies the tradition of "bride-racing" in several divisions of Greece.

    Philology shows that "bride-racing "was a German institution, as it shows that "bride-catching" was Norse.  The German word brûtloufti, "bride-racing," and the old Norse word quân-fang, "wife-catching," are both used in the sense of marriage.  "Bride-racing" is thus Aryan; it is also Turanian. "Bride-catching" is thus Aryan; it is also Semitic.

    Let us take a Turanian example of bride-racing, and clear our ideas as to what it means.  In noticing the simulated conflict among the Kalmucks, I said they had also bride-racing.  The ceremony, which is performed on horseback, is described by Dr. Clarke.  "A girl is first mounted, who rides off in full speed.  Her lover pursues; if he overtakes her she becomes his wife . . .  But it sometimes happens that the woman does not wish to marry the person by whom she is pursued.  In this case she will not suffer him to overtake her.  We were assured that no instance occurs of a Kalmuck girl being thus caught unless she has a partiality to the pursuer.  If she dislikes him she rides, to use the language of English sportsmen, 'neck or nought,' until she has completely effected her escape, or until her pursuer's horse becomes exhausted, leaving her at liberty to return and to be afterwards chased by some more favoured lover."  That is, the chase, where it leads to marriage, as it commonly does, is a mere form, the woman meaning to be caught.  As it is always preceded by a contract, fixing the bride's price and consenting to the marriage, it is undoubtedly a merely symbolical ceremony, in which the idea is that of "the unprotected female" trying to escape from her would-be captor.  The chance of escape which it offers to a reluctant bride is an accident of a ceremony, the origin of which cannot possibly be referred to the desire to consult the bride's inclinations.

    Vámbéry says that this "marriage ceremonial," no doubt with modifications from case to case, is in use among all the nomads of Central Asia.  He describes it in the case of the Turkomans.  The young maiden, attired in bridal costume, mounts a high-bred courser, taking on her lap the carcase of a lamb or goat.  She sets off at full gallop, followed by the bridegroom and other young men of the party, also on horseback.  She has always to strive, by adroit turns, &c., to avoid her pursuers, that no one of them approach near enough to snatch from her the burden in her lap.  The chase ends, I suppose, in her being caught.  "The game" is called Kökbüri.

    But all wild tribes have not troops of horses, like the hordes of Central Asia.  When the Australian, who gets his wives by the ancient methods de facto, chases a leubra, it is on foot.  Should he ever reduce the race to a symbol, the symbol will certainly represent a foot-race.  And this is the form of bride-racing among the natives of Singapore, who also, being accustomed to boating, have an aquatic variety of the form.  They hold great jubilees, at the fruit season, near the groves of the tribe, which often lie together, and during these jubilees their marriages take place.  "The marriage ceremony," says Mr. Cameron, "is a simple one, and the new acquaintance of the morning is often the bride of the evening.  On the part of the suitor it is more a matter of arrangement with the parents than of courtship with the daughter; but there is a form generally observed which reminds one strongly of the old tale of Hippomenes and Atalanta.  If the tribe is on the bank of a lake or stream, the damsel is given a canoe and a double-bladed paddle, and allowed a start of some distance; the suitor, similarly equipped, starts off in chase.  If he succeeds in overtaking her, she becomes his wife, if not, the match is broken off . . . It is seldom that objection is offered at the last moment, and the race is generally a short one.  The maiden's arms are strong, but her heart is soft, and her nature warm, and she soon becomes a willing captive.  If the marriage takes place where no stream is near, a round circle of a certain size is formed, the damsel is stripped of all but a waistband, and given half the circle's start in advance; and if she succeeds in running three times round before her suitor comes up with her, she is entitled to remain a virgin; if not, she must consent to the bonds of matrimony.  As in the other case, but few outstrip their lovers."  This is the Kalmuck case over again.  Singapore is not singular in the equatorial regions.  We find the form both as bride-racing and as bride-catching in various quarters in the islands of the Pacific.

    Let us now clear our ideas as to "bride-catching."  It is the case of the unprotected female without a start and a run for it.  Here is the Australian reality.  When a man meets a woman alone, whom he likes, he tells her to follow him.  If she refuses he beats her, knocks her down, and carries her off.  Rough gallantry!  The mimicry of this is the form as "bride-catching,"—differing from the reality only in the degree of violence, and in its following on a contract of marriage.  It is Aryan, as we saw, being Norse; it is Turanian, being observed by the Tunguzes and Kamchadales; it is Semitic, being the custom of many Arab tribes, notably of the Bedouins of Mount Sinai, and the Mezeyne of the Sinai Peninsula.  The women, as a tribute to custom, must resist the capture.  As Burckhardt says of the Bedouins, "the more the woman struggles, bites, kicks, cries, and strikes, the more she is applauded ever after by her own companions."

    The form in this shape is of frequent occurrence among the native races of America.  The way in which the capture is made among the tribes on the Amazons is very singular.  "When a young man wishes to have the daughter of another Indian, his father sends a message to say he will come, with his son and relations, to visit him.  The girl's father guesses what it is for, and, if he is agreeable, makes preparations for a grand festival.  This lasts perhaps two or three days, when the bridegroom's party suddenly seize the bride, and hurry her off to their canoes.  No attempt is made to prevent them, and she is then considered as married."  Among the Terra del Fuegians we find bride-catching pure and simple.  "As soon," says Captain Fitzroy, speaking of the Fuegians, "as a youth is able to maintain a wife by his own exertions in fishing or bird-catching, he obtains the consent of her relations, and does some piece of work, such as helping to make a canoe, preparing seal-skins, &c., for her parents.  Having built or stolen a canoe for himself, he watches for an opportunity, and carries off his bride.  If she is unwilling, she hides herself in the woods until her admirer is heartily tired of looking for her, and gives up the pursuit, but this seldom happens."  Although the marriage is the subject of a contract, he must proceed in its constitution as if acting without consent.  A little farther north, among the Coinmen and Caries, the contract is unknown, and the usual way of getting a wife is fighting for or catching one.

    Accompanying the form, in some of the cases of "bride-catching," is a custom which must have been handed down from a state of the greatest "wildness"—a state lower than savagery.  Among the Mezeyne, for example, after the capture, the woman is let loose and flies to the mountains.  The husband goes in search of her.  For a long time the only intercourse between them takes place in the hills.  The clandestine intercourse, after marriage, between the Spartan husband and wife, must have been the fainter tradition of this.  The same custom prevailed in Crete.  In Africa, in some districts, husbands and wife for years meet only in the woods.  The stealthy communication of husband and wife is required by custom also among the Nogais and Circassians.

    We have just seen the form among some tribes of the Semites.  Had the Jews this ceremony?  I think it is almost certain they had.  They had traditions of the system of capturing women for wives, de facto, and though they were an endogamous people, forbidden to marry foreign women, yet they allowed marriages with such women when made captive in war.  The provision for marriage with foreign women, if captured, among tribes which in no other case allowed of marriage with foreign women, indicates a remarkable association between capture and marriage.  It is not easy to believe that such a regulation, existing among endogamous tribes, is referable to the feeling that a victorious warrior should have the full disposal of spoils of victory.  It is much more likely that it is a relic of a time when the tribes—or rather the race from which they sprung—were not endogamous, but subject to that primitive tribal law against marriage within the tribe, which was everywhere the origin of the system of actual capture.  And that system is symbolised to this day among other tribes of the same race.  These facts and considerations are supported by some direct evidence.  The writer of the article, Marriage, in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, remarks that the Old Testament phrase, "taking a wife," would seem to require to be taken in its literal meaning in the run of cases; the taking "being the chief ceremony in the constitution of marriage.  If this is correct, it means that the Jews observed the form, for in many cases where the phrase occurs we know the marriages were preceded by contracts.

    It remains that I should exhibit some instances of the Form of Capture in states of disintegration.  Though everything connected with marriage is religiously regarded, yet are its ceremonies subject, like everything else, to the laws of growth and decay.  In many cases the Form of Capture must have passed away; in many it is in the course of being obliterated.  The marvel is that, the human race being so old, a ceremony which draws back to its wild youth should not long since have wholly disappeared.  The progress of mankind, however, has not only been slow, but unequal in the different families.  Thus it is that in our own day exist, at one and the same time, in different quarters, the reality of capture, the reality in stages of transition towards a symbolism, the form, and the form in the last stages of decay.  Among the very rudest races we find the reality; among the ruder races, and in the ruder and more unmixed portions of the more civilized, we find the form; here and there, in the upper strata of the most civilized, we discern the mere shadow of the form.  When the Form of Capture was perfect among the plebeians in Rome it had dwindled to scarcely recognizable signs among the aristocracy.  It is now perfect among the primitive Berricors in modern France, as it was among the primitive Dorians in ancient Greece.  It was till lately perfect in homogeneous Wales, when in heterogeneous England it had become disintegrated in the highest degree.  Where many races are blended, many customs are jumbled.  And the jumbling infers decay of respect for them and ultimately their obliteration.

    The simulated fight is disintegrated when the symbol represents attack merely on the one side, as in the Irish and Roman examples, without representing resistance on the other.  It is further disintegrated when neither the attack nor the defence is represented, and the tradition is satisfied by some faint symbol of the woman's captivity.  With the Patricians at Rome it sufficed that the bridegroom should carry the bride over the threshold of his house, "because," as Plutarch says, "the Sabine women did not go in voluntarily, but were carried in by violence;" that he should part her hair with a spear "in memory of the first marriages being brought about in a warlike manner," a symbol full of suggestions.  There is no doubt these are what they bear to be—traces of the form of capture; faint signs taking the place of the perfect form.  The Kökbüri, as described by Vámbéry, is become "a game," a reflection of Kalmuck bride-racing, as described by Clarke.  The disintegration once began, the ultimate shape or relic of the form depends on the infinite variety of accidents.  There may remain a single sign or act, a pastime or a game, or a ridiculous proceeding with no apparent meaning.  I shall be surprised if the reader, as he learned of the hurling of bamboos after the bridegroom among the Khonds, did not think of the hurling of old shoes after him among ourselves.  It is a sham assault on the person carrying off the lady; and in default of any more plausible explanation, and I know of none such, it may fairly be considered as probable that it is the form of capture in the last stage of disintegration.

    Greece, like Rome, presents us with the form in a disintegrated shape.  In Sparta, latterly, it was enough for the bridegroom to catch up the lady and carry her from one room to another.  So, among some of the Kalmuck hordes, the necessity for the appearance of a capture is satisfied by the act of putting the bride by force upon horseback when she is about to be conducted to the bridegroom's hut.  And this minimum of pretence suffices in many cases.  In North Friesland a young fellow called the bride-lifter lifts the bride and her two bridesmaids upon the waggon in which the newly-married are to travel to their home.  In Pennsylvania the bridegroom himself carried the bride in his arms out of her father's house and set her on the waggon.  In Egypt, when the bride, after her procession, arrives at the bridegroom's door, he issues forth, "suddenly clasps her in his arms, as if by violence, and runs off with her as a prize" into the house—the Roman threshold-crossing over again.  The Bedouin bridegroom must force his bride to enter his tent; the Mussulman of India, the same who observes the mock siege, must carry her in like the old Roman.  A similar custom existed in France, at least in some provinces, in the seventeenth century.  In all these cases the shape of the form was analogous to that prescribed in the Sutras to the Hindus.  At a vital stage of the marriage ceremony a strong man and the bridegroom forcibly drew the bride and made her sit down on a red ox-skin.  Dr. Weber says this was one of the essential ceremonies in the constitution of the Hindu marriage.  In the order of proceedings it followed the solemn seven steps which riveted the contract.

    I have not attempted to classify these examples according to the races which furnish them.  The races themselves have, I think, yet to be satisfactorily classified, and till that is done we must take human phenomena in the mass as we find them.  So far as the philological classification goes the form of capture is at once Indo-European, Turanian, and Semitic.  It is human; and the frequency of its occurrence is such as strongly to suggest that the phase of society in which it originated existed at some time or other almost everywhere.  The instances which I have given fix the attention on a great many geographical points.  And nothing in nature stands by itself.  Each example leads us to contemplate a great area over which the form of capture was once observed, just as a fossil fish in rock on a hill-side forces us to conceive of the whole surrounding country as at one time under water.  Were I to examine all the customs which seem to me connected with the form, there would be few primitive races with which I should not have to deal.  The form, which of old was so well marked in the peninsulas of Italy and Greece, may be traced thence, on the one hand, northwards through France and Britain, south-westwards through Spain, and north-eastwards through Prussia; on the other hand, northwards through ancient Thessaly and Macedonia into the mountainous regions on the Black Sea and the Caspian.  It is now observed throughout Central Asia and everywhere among the races of the Mongolidæ.  We may assume it of frequent occurrence in Africa, as among the red men of America, and the inhabitants o the Pacific islands.  It occurs among several of the Semitic races.  It occurs among the Hindus, and may be assumed to have been common among the aboriginal inhabitants of the plains of India, of whom we have well-preserved specimens in the Khonds of Orissa and the Kookies of Cachar.

    Here ends the entertainment.  In the Code of Menu is described the marriage called Racshasa.  "The seizure of a maiden by force from her home, after her kinsmen and friends have been slain in battle, or wounded, and their houses broken open, is the marriage called Racshasa."  "For a military man" this marriage, "as when a girl is made captive by her lover after a victory over her kinsmen," is "permitted by law."  The code legitimated as marriage the union of the soldier with the woman he had fought for and won at the point of the sword.  This privilege of the military was a relic of the system of capturing women for wives which had prevailed among the Hindus.  I again hold up a light, in which you may see the significance of the mock sieges, and invasions, and fights, and flights of my collection.  In these, at first sight unmeaning symbols, what a history!  In our ancestry, what humiliation!  My show is transformed in the bloody light, and every oddity becomes a horror.  Race after race has told the same tale.  "With us there was at first no marriage but the Racshasa.  There was neither wooing, nor love, nor pity; and the wife knew not even to bow her head as she followed her lord over the dead bodies of her kinsmen."  But with the lesson of humility there is a word of hope.  If we, of the higher races of men, are yet of those who once were in such a case, and have come to be what we are; while with humble hearts we regard our origin and first estate, we may hopefully look to the future as holding in store for our species forms of life purer and higher than the present, by as much as the present are purer and higher than the past.


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