The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (2024)

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., byWashington IrvingThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.orgTitle: The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.Author: Washington IrvingRelease Date: August, 2000 [EBook #2048]Last Updated: Last Updated: September 14, 2016Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: UTF-8*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SKETCH BOOK ***Produced by Nelson Nieves and David Widger

By Washington Irving

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (1)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (2)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (3)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (4)








































“I have no wife nor children, good or bad, to provide for. A merespectator of other men’s fortunes and adventures, and how they play theirparts; which, methinks, are diversely presented unto me, as from a commontheatre or scene.”—BURTON.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (5)



THE following papers, with two exceptions, were written in England, andformed but part of an intended series for which I had made notes andmemorandums. Before I could mature a plan, however, circ*mstancescompelled me to send them piecemeal to the United States, where they werepublished from time to time in portions or numbers. It was not myintention to publish them in England, being conscious that much of theircontents could be interesting only to American readers, and, in truth,being deterred by the severity with which American productions had beentreated by the British press.

By the time the contents of the first volume had appeared in thisoccasional manner, they began to find their way across the Atlantic, andto be inserted, with many kind encomiums, in the London Literary Gazette.It was said, also, that a London bookseller intended to publish them in acollective form. I determined, therefore, to bring them forward myself,that they might at least have the benefit of my superintendence andrevision. I accordingly took the printed numbers which I had received fromthe United States, to Mr. John Murray, the eminent publisher, from whom Ihad already received friendly attentions, and left them with him forexamination, informing him that should he be inclined to bring them beforethe public, I had materials enough on hand for a second volume. Severaldays having elapsed without any communication from Mr. Murray, I addresseda note to him, in which I construed his silence into a tacit rejection ofmy work, and begged that the numbers I had left with him might be returnedto me. The following was his reply:

MY DEAR SIR: I entreat you to believe that I feel truly obliged by yourkind intentions towards me, and that I entertain the most unfeignedrespect for your most tasteful talents. My house is completely filled withworkpeople at this time, and I have only an office to transact businessin; and yesterday I was wholly occupied, or I should have done myself thepleasure of seeing you.

If it would not suit me to engage in the publication of your present work,it is only because I do not see that scope in the nature of it which wouldenable me to make those satisfactory accounts between us, without which Ireally feel no satisfaction in engaging—but I will do all I can topromote their circulation, and shall be most ready to attend to any futureplan of yours.

With much regard, I remain, dear sir,Your faithful servant,JOHN MURRAY.

This was disheartening, and might have deterred me from any furtherprosecution of the matter, had the question of republication in GreatBritain rested entirely with me; but I apprehended the appearance of aspurious edition. I now thought of Mr. Archibald Constable as publisher,having been treated by him with much hospitality during a visit toEdinburgh; but first I determined to submit my work to Sir-Walter (thenMr.) Scott, being encouraged to do so by the cordial reception I hadexperienced from him at Abbotsford a few years previously, and by thefavorable opinion he had expressed to others of my earlier writings. Iaccordingly sent him the printed numbers of the Sketch-Book in a parcel bycoach, and at the same time wrote to him, hinting that since I had had thepleasure of partaking of his hospitality, a reverse had taken place in myaffairs which made the successful exercise of my pen all-important to me;I begged him, therefore, to look over the literary articles I hadforwarded to him, and, if he thought they would bear Europeanrepublication, to ascertain whether Mr. Constable would be inclined to bethe publisher.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (6)


The parcel containing my work went by coach to Scott’s address inEdinburgh; the letter went by mail to his residence in the country. By thevery first post I received a reply, before he had seen my work.

“I was down at Kelso,” said he, “when your letter reached Abbotsford. I amnow on my way to town, and will converse with Constable, and do all in mypower to forward your views—I assure you nothing will give me morepleasure.”

The hint, however, about a reverse of fortune had struck the quickapprehension of Scott, and, with that practical and efficient good-willwhich belonged to his nature, he had already devised a way of aiding me. Aweekly periodical, he went on to inform me, was about to be set up inEdinburgh, supported by the most respectable talents, and amply furnishedwith all the necessary information. The appointment of the editor, forwhich ample funds were provided, would be five hundred pounds sterling ayear, with the reasonable prospect of further advantages. This situation,being apparently at his disposal, he frankly offered to me. The work,however, he intimated, was to have somewhat of a political bearing, and heexpressed an apprehension that the tone it was desired to adopt might notsuit me. “Yet I risk the question,” added he, “because I know no man sowell qualified for this important task, and perhaps because it willnecessarily bring you to Edinburgh. If my proposal does not suit, you needonly keep the matter secret and there is no harm done. ‘And for my love Ipray you wrong me not.’ If on the contrary you think it could be made tosuit you, let me know as soon as possible, addressing Castle Street,Edinburgh.”

In a postscript, written from Edinburgh, he adds, “I am just come here,and have glanced over the Sketch-Book. It is positively beautiful, andincreases my desire to crimp you, if it be possible. Some difficultiesthere always are in managing such a matter, especially at the outset; butwe will obviate them as much as we possibly can.”

The following is from an imperfect draught of my reply, which underwentsome modifications in the copy sent:

“I cannot express how much I am gratified by your letter. I had begun tofeel as if I had taken an unwarrantable liberty; but, somehow or other,there is a genial sunshine about you that warms every creeping thing intoheart and confidence. Your literary proposal both surprises and flattersme, as it evinces a much higher opinion of my talents than I have myself.”

I then went on to explain that I found myself peculiarly unfitted for thesituation offered to me, not merely by my political opinions, but by thevery constitution and habits of my mind. “My whole course of life,” Iobserved, “has been desultory, and I am unfitted for any periodicallyrecurring task, or any stipulated labor of body or mind. I have no commandof my talents, such as they are, and have to watch the varyings of my mindas I would those of a weatherco*ck. Practice and training may bring me moreinto rule; but at present I am as useless for regular service as one of myown country Indians or a Don Cossack.

“I must, therefore, keep on pretty much as I have begun; writing when Ican, not when I would. I shall occasionally shift my residence and writewhatever is suggested by objects before me, or whatever rises in myimagination; and hope to write better and more copiously by and by.

“I am playing the egotist, but I know no better way of answering yourproposal than by showing what a very good-for-nothing kind of being I am.Should Mr. Constable feel inclined to make a bargain for the wares I haveon hand, he will encourage me to further enterprise; and it will besomething like trading with a gypsy for the fruits of his prowlings, whomay at one time have nothing but a wooden bowl to offer, and at anothertime a silver tankard.”

In reply, Scott expressed regret, but not surprise, at my declining whatmight have proved a troublesome duty. He then recurred to the originalsubject of our correspondence; entered into a detail of the various termsupon which arrangements were made between authors and booksellers, that Imight take my choice; expressing the most encouraging confidence of thesuccess of my work, and of previous works which I had produced in America.“I did no more,” added he, “than open the trenches with Constable; but Iam sure if you will take the trouble to write to him, you will find himdisposed to treat your overtures with every degree of attention. Or, ifyou think it of consequence in the first place to see me, I shall be inLondon in the course of a month, and whatever my experience can command ismost heartily at your command. But I can add little to what I have saidabove, except my earnest recommendation to Constable to enter into thenegotiation.” *

* I cannot avoid subjoining in a note a succeeding paragraphof Scott’s letter, which, though it does not relate to themain subject of our correspondence, was too characteristicto be omitted. Some time previously I had sent Miss SophiaScott small duodecimo American editions of her father’spoems published in Edinburgh in quarto volumes; showing the“nigromancy” of the American press, by which a quart of wineis conjured into a pint bottle. Scott observes: “In myhurry, I have not thanked you in Sophia’s name for the kindattention which furnished her with the American volumes. Iam not quite sure I can add my own, since you have made heracquainted with much more of papa’s folly than she wouldever otherwise have learned; for I had taken special carethey should never see any of those things during theirearlier years. I think I have told you that Walter issweeping the firmament with a feather like a maypole andindenting the pavement with a sword like a scythe—in otherwords, he has become a whiskered hussar in the 18thDragoons.” 

Before the receipt of this most obliging letter, however, I had determinedto look to no leading bookseller for a launch, but to throw my work beforethe public at my own risk, and let it sink or swim according to itsmerits. I wrote to that effect to Scott, and soon received a reply:

“I observe with pleasure that you are going to come forth in Britain. Itis certainly not the very best way to publish on one’s own accompt; forthe booksellers set their face against the circulation of such works as donot pay an amazing toll to themselves. But they have lost the art ofaltogether damming up the road in such cases between the author and thepublic, which they were once able to do as effectually as Diabolus in JohnBunyan’s Holy War closed up the windows of my Lord Understanding’smansion. I am sure of one thing, that you have only to be known to theBritish public to be admired by them, and I would not say so unless Ireally was of that opinion.

“If you ever see a witty but rather local publication called Blackwood’sEdinburgh Magazine, you will find some notice of your works in the lastnumber: the author is a friend of mine, to whom I have introduced you inyour literary capacity. His name is Lockhart, a young man of veryconsiderable talent, and who will soon be intimately connected with myfamily. My faithful friend Knickerbocker is to be next examined andillustrated. Constable was extremely willing to enter into considerationof a treaty for your works, but I foresee will be still more so when

Your name is up, and may goFrom Toledo to Madrid.

“——And that will soon be the case. I trust to be in Londonabout the middle of the month, and promise myself great pleasure in onceagain shaking you by the hand.”

The first volume of the Sketch-Book was put to press in London, as I hadresolved, at my own risk, by a bookseller unknown to fame, and without anyof the usual arts by which a work is trumpeted into notice. Still someattention had been called to it by the extracts which had previouslyappeared in the Literary Gazette, and by the kind word spoken by theeditor of that periodical, and it was getting into fair circulation, whenmy worthy bookseller failed before the first month was over, and the salewas interrupted.

At this juncture Scott arrived in London. I called to him for help, as Iwas sticking in the mire, and, more propitious than Hercules, he put hisown shoulder to the wheel. Through his favorable representations, Murraywas quickly induced to undertake the future publication of the work whichhe had previously declined. A further edition of the first volume wasstruck off and the second volume was put to press, and from that timeMurray became my publisher, conducting himself in all his dealings withthat fair, open, and liberal spirit which had obtained for him thewell-merited appellation of the Prince of Booksellers.

Thus, under the kind and cordial auspices of Sir Walter Scott, I began myliterary career in Europe; and I feel that I am but discharging, in atrifling degree, my debt of gratitude to the memory of that golden-heartedman in acknowledging my obligations to him. But who of his literarycontemporaries ever applied to him for aid or counsel that did notexperience the most prompt, generous, and effectual assistance?

W. I. SUNNYSIDE, 1848.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (7)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (8)



I am of this mind with Homer, that as the snaile that crept out of hershel was turned eftsoones into a toad I and thereby was forced to make astoole to sit on; so the traveller that stragleth from his owne country isin a short time transformed into so monstrous a shape, that he is faine toalter his mansion with his manners, and to live where he can, not where hewould.—LYLY’S EUPHUES.

I was always fond of visiting new scenes, and observing strange charactersand manners. Even when a mere child I began my travels, and made manytours of discovery into foreign parts and unknown regions of my nativecity, to the frequent alarm of my parents, and the emolument of the towncrier. As I grew into boyhood, I extended the range of my observations. Myholiday afternoons were spent in rambles about the surrounding country. Imade myself familiar with all its places famous in history or fable. Iknew every spot where a murder or robbery had been committed, or a ghostseen. I visited the neighboring villages, and added greatly to my stock ofknowledge, by noting their habits and customs, and conversing with theirsages and great men. I even journeyed one long summer’s day to the summitof the most distant hill, whence I stretched my eye over many a mile ofterra incognita, and was astonished to find how vast a globe I inhabited.

This rambling propensity strengthened with my years. Books of voyages andtravels became my passion, and in devouring their contents, I neglectedthe regular exercises of the school. How wistfully would I wander aboutthe pier-heads in fine weather, and watch the parting ships, bound todistant climes; with what longing eyes would I gaze after their lesseningsails, and waft myself in imagination to the ends of the earth!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (9)


Further reading and thinking, though they brought this vague inclinationinto more reasonable bounds, only served to make it more decided. Ivisited various parts of my own country; and had I been merely a lover offine scenery, I should have felt little desire to seek elsewhere itsgratification, for on no country had the charms of nature been moreprodigally lavished. Her mighty lakes, her oceans of liquid silver; hermountains, with their bright aerial tints; her valleys, teeming with wildfertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; herboundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad, deep rivers,rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests, wherevegetation puts forth all its magnificence; her skies, kindling with themagic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine;—no, never need anAmerican look beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful ofnatural scenery.

But Europe held forth all the charms of storied and poetical association.There were to be seen the masterpieces of art, the refinements of highlycultivated society, the quaint peculiarities of ancient and local custom.My native country was full of youthful promise; Europe was rich in theaccumulated treasures of age. Her very ruins told the history of the timesgone by, and every mouldering stone was a chronicle. I longed to wanderover the scenes of renowned achievement—to tread, as it were, in thefootsteps of antiquity—to loiter about the ruined castle—tomeditate on the falling tower—to escape, in short, from thecommonplace realities of the present, and lose myself among the shadowygrandeurs of the past.

I had, besides all this, an earnest desire to see the great men of theearth. We have, it is true, our great men in America: not a city but hasan ample share of them. I have mingled among them in my time, and beenalmost withered by the shade into which they cast me; for there is nothingso baleful to a small man as the shade of a great one, particularly thegreat man of a city. But I was anxious to see the great men of Europe; forI had read in the works of various philosophers, that all animalsdegenerated in America, and man among the number. A great man of Europe,thought I, must therefore be as superior to a great man of America, as apeak of the Alps to a highland of the Hudson; and in this idea I wasconfirmed by observing the comparative importance and swelling magnitudeof many English travellers among us, who, I was assured, were very littlepeople in their own country. I will visit this land of wonders, thought I,and see the gigantic race from which I am degenerated.

It has been either my good or evil lot to have my roving passiongratified. I have wandered through different countries and witnessed manyof the shifting scenes of life. I cannot say that I have studied them withthe eye of a philosopher, but rather with the sauntering gaze with whichhumble lovers of the picturesque stroll from the window of one print-shopto another; caught sometimes by the delineations of beauty, sometimes bythe distortions of caricature, and sometimes by the loveliness oflandscape. As it is the fashion for modern tourists to travel pencil inhand, and bring home their portfolios filled with sketches, I am disposedto get up a few for the entertainment of my friends. When, however, I lookover the hints and memorandums I have taken down for the purpose, my heartalmost fails me, at finding how my idle humor has led me astray from thegreat object studied by every regular traveller who would make a book. Ifear I shall give equal disappointment with an unlucky landscape-painter,who had travelled on the Continent, but following the bent of his vagrantinclination, had sketched in nooks, and corners, and by-places. Hissketch-book was accordingly crowded with cottages, and landscapes, andobscure ruins; but he had neglected to paint St. Peter’s, or the Coliseum,the cascade of Terni, or the bay of Naples, and had not a single glacieror volcano in his whole collection.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (10)



Ships, ships, I will descrie youAmidst the main,I will come and try you,What you are protecting,And projecting,What’s your end and aim.One goes abroad for merchandise and trading,Another stays to keep his country from invading,A third is coming home with rich and wealthy lading.Hallo! my fancie, whither wilt thou go?OLD POEM.

To an American visiting Europe, the long voyage he has to make is anexcellent preparative. The temporary absence of worldly scenes andemployments produces a state of mind peculiarly fitted to receive new andvivid impressions. The vast space of waters that separate the hemispheresis like a blank page in existence. There is no gradual transition bywhich, as in Europe, the features and population of one country blendalmost imperceptibly with those of another. From the moment you lose sightof the land you have left, all is vacancy, until you step on the oppositeshore, and are launched at once into the bustle and novelties of anotherworld.

In travelling by land there is a continuity of scene, and a connectedsuccession of persons and incidents, that carry on the story of life, andlessen the effect of absence and separation. We drag, it is true, “alengthening chain” at each remove of our pilgrimage; but the chain isunbroken; we can trace it back link by link; and we feel that the laststill grapples us to home. But a wide sea voyage severs us at once. Itmakes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage ofsettled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world. It interposes a gulf,not merely imaginary, but real, between us and our homes—a gulf,subject to tempest, and fear, and uncertainty, rendering distancepalpable, and return precarious.

Such, at least, was the case with myself. As I saw the last blue lines ofmy native land fade away like a cloud in the horizon, it seemed as if Ihad closed one volume of the world and its concerns, and had time formeditation, before I opened another. That land, too, now vanishing from myview, which contained all most dear to me in life; what vicissitudes mightoccur in it—what changes might take place in me, before I shouldvisit it again! Who can tell, when he sets forth to wander, whither he maybe driven by the uncertain currents of existence; or when he may return;or whether it may be ever his lot to revisit the scenes of his childhood?

I said, that at sea all is vacancy; I should correct the impression. Toone given to day-dreaming, and fond of losing himself in reveries, a seavoyage is full of subjects for meditation; but then they are the wondersof the deep and of the air, and rather tend to abstract the mind fromworldly themes. I delighted to loll over the quarter-railing or climb tothe main-top, of a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquilbosom of a summer’s sea; to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds justpeering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy realms, and people themwith a creation of my own;—to watch the gently undulating billowsrolling their silver volumes, as if to die away on those happy shores.

There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe with which Ilooked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the deep at theiruncouth gambols: shoals of porpoises tumbling about the bow of the ship;the grampus, slowly heaving his huge form above the surface; or theravenous shark, darting, like a spectre, through the blue waters. Myimagination would conjure up all that I had heard or read of the wateryworld beneath me; of the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; ofthe shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the earth;and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of fishermen and sailors.

Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean, would beanother theme of idle speculation. How interesting this fragment of aworld, hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence! What a gloriousmonument of human invention; which has in a manner triumphed over wind andwave; has brought the ends of the world into communion; has established aninterchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the northall the luxuries of the south; has diffused the light of knowledge, andthe charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together thosescattered portions of the human race, between which nature seemed to havethrown an insurmountable barrier.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (11)


We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance. At sea,every thing that breaks the monotony of the surrounding expanse attractsattention. It proved to be the mast of a ship that must have beencompletely wrecked; for there were the remains of handkerchiefs, by whichsome of the crew had fastened themselves to this spar, to prevent theirbeing washed off by the waves. There was no trace by which the name of theship could be ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for manymonths; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long sea-weedsflaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is the crew? Their strugglehas long been over—they have gone down amidst the roar of thetempest—their bones lie whitening among the caverns of the deep.Silence, oblivion, like the waves, have closed over them, and no one cantell the story of their end. What sighs have been wafted after that ship!what prayers offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often hasthe mistress, the wife, the mother, pored over the daily news, to catchsome casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has expectationdarkened into anxiety—anxiety into dread—and dread intodespair! Alas! not one memento may ever return for love to cherish. Allthat may ever be known, is that she sailed from her port, “and was neverheard of more!”

The sight of this wreck, as usual, gave rise to many dismal anecdotes.This was particularly the case in the evening, when the weather, which hadhitherto been fair, began to look wild and threatening, and gaveindications of one of those sudden storms that will sometimes break inupon the serenity of a summer voyage. As we sat round the dull light of alamp, in the cabin, that made the gloom more ghastly, everyone had histale of shipwreck and disaster. I was particularly struck with a short onerelated by the captain:

“As I was once sailing,” said he, “in a fine, stout ship, across the banksof Newfoundland, one of those heavy fogs that prevail in those partsrendered it impossible for us to see far ahead, even in the daytime; butat night the weather was so thick that we could not distinguish any objectat twice the length of the ship. I kept lights at the mast-head, and aconstant watch forward to look out for fishing smacks, which areaccustomed to anchor of the banks. The wind was blowing a smacking breeze,and we were going at a great rate through the water. Suddenly the watchgave the alarm of ‘a sail ahead!’—it was scarcely uttered before wewere upon her. She was a small schooner, at anchor, with her broadsidetoward us. The crew were all asleep, and had neglected to hoist a light.We struck her just amidships. The force, the size, and weight of ourvessel, bore her down below the waves; we passed over her and were hurriedon our course. As the crashing wreck was sinking beneath us, I had aglimpse of two or three half-naked wretches, rushing from her cabin; theyjust started from their beds to be swallowed shrieking by the waves. Iheard their drowning cry mingling with the wind. The blast that bore it toour ears, swept us out of all further hearing. I shall never forget thatcry! It was some time before we could put the ship about, she was undersuch headway. We returned, as nearly as we could guess, to the place wherethe smack had anchored. We cruised about for several hours in the densefog. We fired signal-guns, and listened if we might hear the halloo of anysurvivors: but all was silent—we never saw or heard any thing ofthem more.”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (12)


I confess these stories, for a time, put an end to all my fine fancies.The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed into tremendousconfusion. There was a fearful, sullen sound of rushing waves and brokensurges. Deep called unto deep. At times the black volume of cloudsoverhead seemed rent asunder by flashes of lightning which quivered alongthe foaming billows, and made the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. Thethunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed andprolonged by the mountain waves. As I saw the ship staggering and plungingamong these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that she regained herbalance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards would dip into the water;her bow was almost buried beneath the waves. Sometimes an impending surgeappeared ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a dexterous movement ofthe helm preserved her from the shock.

When I retired to my cabin, the awful scene still followed me. Thewhistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like funereal wailings.The creaking of the masts; the straining and groaning of bulkheads, as theship labored in the weltering sea, were frightful. As I heard the wavesrushing along the side of the ship, and roaring in my very ear, it seemedas if Death were raging around this floating prison, seeking for his prey:the mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam, might give himentrance.

A fine day, however, with a tranquil sea and favoring breeze, soon put allthese dismal reflections to flight. It is impossible to resist thegladdening influence of fine weather and fair wind at sea. When the shipis decked out in all her canvas, every sail swelled, and careering gaylyover the curling waves, how lofty, how gallant, she appears—how sheseems to lord it over the deep!

I might fill a volume with the reveries of a sea voyage; for with me it isalmost a continual reverie—but it is time to get to shore.

It was a fine sunny morning when the thrilling cry of “land!” was givenfrom the mast-head. None but those who have experienced it can form anidea of the delicious throng of sensations which rush into an American’sbosom, when he first comes in sight of Europe. There is a volume ofassociations with the very name. It is the land of promise, teeming witheverything of which his childhood has heard, or on which his studiousyears have pondered.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (13)


From that time, until the moment of arrival, it was all feverishexcitement. The ships of war, that prowled like guardian giants along thecoast; the headlands of Ireland, stretching out into the channel; theWelsh mountains towering into the clouds;—all were objects ofintense interest. As we sailed up the Mersey, I reconnoitred the shoreswith a telescope. My eye dwelt with delight on neat cottages, with theirtrim shrubberies and green grass-plots. I saw the mouldering ruin of anabbey overrun with ivy, and the taper spire of a village church risingfrom the brow of a neighboring hill;—all were characteristic ofEngland.

The tide and wind were so favorable, that the ship was enabled to come atonce to her pier. It was thronged with people; some idle lookers-on;others, eager expectants of friends or relations. I could distinguish themerchant to whom the ship was consigned. I knew him by his calculatingbrow and restless air. His hands were thrust into his pockets; he waswhistling thoughtfully, and walking to and fro, a small space having beenaccorded him by the crowd, in deference to his temporary importance. Therewere repeated cheerings and salutations interchanged between the shore andthe ship, as friends happened to recognize each other. I particularlynoticed one young woman of humble dress, but interesting demeanor. She wasleaning forward from among the crowd; her eye hurried over the ship as itneared the shore, to catch some wished-for countenance. She seemeddisappointed and sad; when I heard a faint voice call her name.—Itwas from a poor sailor who had been ill all the voyage, and had excitedthe sympathy of every one on board. When the weather was fine, hismessmates had spread a mattress for him on deck in the shade, but of latehis illness had so increased that he had taken to his hammock, and onlybreathed a wish that he might see his wife before he died. He had beenhelped on deck as we came up the river, and was now leaning against theshrouds, with a countenance so wasted, so pale, so ghastly, that it was nowonder even the eye of affection did not recognize him. But at the soundof his voice, her eye darted on his features: it read, at once, a wholevolume of sorrow; she clasped her hands, uttered a faint shriek, and stoodwringing them in silent agony.

All now was hurry and bustle. The meetings of acquaintances—thegreetings of friends—the consultations of men of business. I alonewas solitary and idle. I had no friend to meet, no cheering to receive. Istepped upon the land of my forefathers—but felt that I was astranger in the land.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (14)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (15)



——In the service of mankind to beA guardian god below; still to employThe mind’s brave ardor in heroic aims,Such as may raise us o’er the grovelling herd,And make us shine for ever—that is life.THOMSON.

ONE of the first places to which a stranger is taken in Liverpool is theAthenaeum. It is established on a liberal and judicious plan; it containsa good library, and spacious reading-room, and is the great literaryresort of the place. Go there at what hour you may, you are sure to findit filled with grave-looking personages, deeply absorbed in the study ofnewspapers.

As I was once visiting this haunt of the learned, my attention wasattracted to a person just entering the room. He was advanced in life,tall, and of a form that might once have been commanding, but it was alittle bowed by time—perhaps by care. He had a noble Roman style ofcountenance; a a head that would have pleased a painter; and though someslight furrows on his brow showed that wasting thought had been busythere, yet his eye beamed with the fire of a poetic soul. There wassomething in his whole appearance that indicated a being of a differentorder from the bustling race round him.

I inquired his name, and was informed that it was ROSCOE. I drew back withan involuntary feeling of veneration. This, then, was an author ofcelebrity; this was one of those men whose voices have gone forth to theends of the earth; with whose minds I have communed even in the solitudesof America. Accustomed, as we are in our country, to know European writersonly by their works, we cannot conceive of them, as of other men,engrossed by trivial or sordid pursuits, and jostling with the crowd ofcommon minds in the dusty paths of life. They pass before our imaginationslike superior beings, radiant with the emanations of their genius, andsurrounded by a halo of literary glory.

To find, therefore, the elegant historian of the Medici mingling among thebusy sons of traffic, at first shocked my poetical ideas; but it is fromthe very circ*mstances and situation in which he has been placed, that Mr.Roscoe derives his highest claims to admiration. It is interesting tonotice how some minds seem almost to create themselves, springing up underevery disadvantage, and working their solitary but irresistible waythrough a thousand obstacles. Nature seems to delight in disappointing theassiduities of art, with which it would rear legitimate dulness tomaturity; and to glory in the vigor and luxuriance of her chanceproductions. She scatters the seeds of genius to the winds, and thoughsome may perish among the stony places of the world, and some be choked,by the thorns and brambles of early adversity, yet others will now andthen strike root even in the clefts of the rock, struggle bravely up intosunshine, and spread over their sterile birthplace all the beauties ofvegetation.

Such has been the case with Mr. Roscoe. Born in a place apparentlyungenial to the growth of literary talent—in the very market-placeof trade; without fortune, family connections, or patronage;self-prompted, self-sustained, and almost self-taught, he has conqueredevery obstacle, achieved his way to eminence, and, having become one ofthe ornaments of the nation, has turned the whole force of his talents andinfluence to advance and embellish his native town.

Indeed, it is this last trait in his character which has given him thegreatest interest in my eyes, and induced me particularly to point him outto my countrymen. Eminent as are his literary merits, he is but one amongthe many distinguished authors of this intellectual nation. They, however,in general, live but for their own fame, or their own pleasures. Theirprivate history presents no lesson to the world, or, perhaps, ahumiliating one of human frailty or inconsistency. At best, they are proneto steal away from the bustle and commonplace of busy existence; toindulge in the selfishness of lettered eas; and to revel in scenes ofmental, but exclusive enjoyment.

Mr. Roscoe, on the contrary, has claimed none of the accorded privilegesof talent. He has shut himself up in no garden of thought, nor elysium offancy; but has gone forth into the highways and thoroughfares of life, hehas planted bowers by the wayside, for the refreshment of the pilgrim andthe sojourner, and has opened pure fountains, where the laboring man mayturn aside from the dust and heat of the day, and drink of the livingstreams of knowledge. There is a “daily beauty in his life,” on whichmankind may meditate, and grow better. It exhibits no lofty and almostuseless, because inimitable, example of excellence; but presents a pictureof active, yet simple and imitable virtues, which are within every man’sreach, but which, unfortunately, are not exercised by many, or this worldwould be a paradise.

But his private life is peculiarly worthy the attention of the citizens ofour young and busy country, where literature and the elegant arts mustgrow up side by side with the coarser plants of daily necessity; and mustdepend for their culture, not on the exclusive devotion of time andwealth; nor the quickening rays of titled patronage; but on hours andseasons snatched from the purest of worldly interests, by intelligent andpublic-spirited individuals.

He has shown how much may be done for a place in hours of leisure by onemaster-spirit, and how completely it can give its own impress tosurrounding objects. Like his own Lorenzo de’ Medici, on whom he seems tohave fixed his eye, as on a pure model of antiquity, he has interwoven thehistory of his life with the history of his native town, and has made thefoundations of his fame the monuments of his virtues. Wherever you go, inLiverpool, you perceive traces of his footsteps in all that is elegant andliberal. He found the tide of wealth flowing merely in the channels oftraffic; he has diverted from it invigorating rills to refresh the gardenof literature. By his own example and constant exertions, he has effectedthat union of commerce and the intellectual pursuits, so eloquentlyrecommended in one of his latest writings;* and has practically proved howbeautifully they may be brought to harmonize, and to benefit each other.The noble institutions for literary and scientific purposes, which reflectsuch credit on Liverpool, and are giving such an impulse to the publicmind, have mostly been originated, and have all been effectively promoted,by Mr. Roscoe; and when we consider the rapidly increasing opulence andmagnitude of that town, which promises to vie in commercial importancewith the metropolis, it will be perceived that in awakening an ambition ofmental improvement among its inhabitants, he has effected a great benefitto the cause of British literature.

* Address on the opening of the Liverpool Institution.

In America, we know Mr. Roscoe only as the author; in Liverpool he isspoken of as the banker; and I was told of his having been unfortunate inbusiness. I could not pity him, as I heard some rich men do. I consideredhim far above the reach of pity. Those who live only for the world, and inthe world, may be cast down by the frowns of adversity; but a man likeRoscoe is not to be overcome by the reverses of fortune. They do but drivehim in upon the resources of his own mind, to the superior society of hisown thoughts; which the best of men are apt sometimes to neglect, and toroam abroad in search of less worthy associates. He is independent of theworld around him. He lives with antiquity, and with posterity: withantiquity, in the sweet communion of studious retirement; and withposterity, in the generous aspirings after future renown. The solitude ofsuch a mind is its state of highest enjoyment. It is then visited by thoseelevated meditations which are the proper aliment of noble souls, and are,like manna, sent from heaven, in the wilderness of this world.

While my feelings were yet alive on the subject, it was my fortune tolight on further traces of Mr. Roscoe. I was riding out with a gentleman,to view the environs of Liverpool, when he turned off, through a gate,into some ornamented grounds. After riding a short distance, we came to aspacious mansion of freestone, built in the Grecian style. It was not inthe purest style, yet it had an air of elegance, and the situation wasdelightful. A fine lawn sloped away from it, studded with clumps of trees,so disposed as to break a soft fertile country into a variety oflandscapes. The Mersey was seen winding a broad quiet sheet of waterthrough an expanse of green meadow land, while the Welsh mountains,blended with clouds, and melting into distance, bordered the horizon.

This was Roscoe’s favorite residence during the days of his prosperity. Ithad been the seat of elegant hospitality and literary retirement. Thehouse was now silent and deserted. I saw the windows of the study, whichlooked out upon the soft scenery I have mentioned. The windows were closed—thelibrary was gone. Two or three ill-favored beings were loitering about theplace, whom my fancy pictured into retainers of the law. It was likevisiting some classic fountain, that had once welled its pure waters in asacred shade, but finding it dry and dusty, with the lizard and the toadbrooding over the shattered marbles.

I inquired after the fate of Mr. Roscoe’s library, which had consisted ofscarce and foreign books, from many of which he had drawn the materialsfor his Italian histories. It had passed under the hammer of theauctioneer, and was dispersed about the country. The good people of thevicinity thronged liked wreckers to get some part of the noble vessel thathad been driven on shore. Did such a scene admit of ludicrousassociations, we might imagine something whimsical in this strangeirruption in the regions of learning. Pigmies rummaging the armory of agiant, and contending for the possession of weapons which they could notwield. We might picture to ourselves some knot of speculators, debatingwith calculating brow over the quaint binding and illuminated margin of anobsolete author; of the air of intense, but baffled sagacity, with whichsome successful purchaser attempted to dive into the black-letter bargainhe had secured.

It is a beautiful incident in the story of Mr. Roscoe’s misfortunes, andone which cannot fail to interest the studious mind, that the parting withhis books seems to have touched upon his tenderest feelings, and to havebeen the only circ*mstance that could provoke the notice of his muse. Thescholar only knows how dear these silent, yet eloquent, companions of purethoughts and innocent hours become in the season of adversity. When allthat is worldly turns to dross around us, these only retain their steadyvalue. When friends grow cold, and the converse of intimates languishesinto vapid civility and commonplace, these only continue the unalteredcountenance of happier days, and cheer us with that true friendship whichnever deceived hope, nor deserted sorrow.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (16)


I do not wish to censure; but, surely, if the people of Liverpool had beenproperly sensible of what was due to Mr. Roscoe and themselves, hislibrary would never have been sold. Good worldly reasons may, doubtless,be given for the circ*mstance, which it would be difficult to combat withothers that might seem merely fanciful; but it certainly appears to mesuch an opportunity as seldom occurs, of cheering a noble mind strugglingunder misfortunes by one of the most delicate, but most expressive tokensof public sympathy. It is difficult, however, to estimate a man of geniusproperly who is daily before our eyes. He becomes mingled and confoundedwith other men. His great qualities lose their novelty; we become toofamiliar with the common materials which form the basis even of theloftiest character. Some of Mr. Roscoe’s townsmen may regard him merely asa man of business; others, as a politician; all find him engaged likethemselves in ordinary occupations, and surpassed, perhaps, by themselveson some points of worldly wisdom. Even that amiable and unostentatioussimplicity of character, which gives the nameless grace to realexcellence, may cause him to be undervalued by some coarse minds, who donot know that true worth is always void of glare and pretension. But theman of letters, who speaks of Liverpool, speaks of it as the residence ofRoscoe.—The intelligent traveller who visits it inquires whereRoscoe is to be seen. He is the literary landmark of the place, indicatingits existence to the distant scholar.—He is like Pompey’s column atAlexandria, towering alone in classic dignity.

The following sonnet, addressed by Mr. Roscoe to his books, on partingwith them, has already been alluded to. If anything can add effect to thepure feeling and elevated thought here displayed, it is the conviction,that the who leis no effusion of fancy, but a faithful transcript from thewriter’s heart.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (17)

TO MY BOOKS.As one who, destined from his friends to part,Regrets his loss, but hopes again erewhileTo share their converse and enjoy their smile,And tempers as he may affliction’s dart;Thus, loved associates, chiefs of elder art,Teachers of wisdom, who could once beguileMy tedious hours, and lighten every toil,I now resign you; nor with fainting heart;For pass a few short years, or days, or hours,And happier seasons may their dawn unfold,And all your sacred fellowship restore:When, freed from earth, unlimited its powers.Mind shall with mind direct communion hold,And kindred spirits meet to part no more.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (18)



The treasures of the deep are not so preciousAs are the concealed comforts of a manLock’d up in woman’s love. I scent the airOf blessings, when I came but near the house,What a delicious breath marriage sends forth—The violet bed’s no sweeter!MIDDLETON.

I HAVE often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustainthe most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which breakdown the spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to callforth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity andelevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity.Nothing can be more touching, than to behold a soft and tender female, whohad been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivialroughness, while threading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly risingin mental force to be the comforter and support of her husband undermisfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blasts ofadversity.

As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, andbeen lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted bythe thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind upits shattered boughs, so is it beautifully ordered by Providence, thatwoman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours,should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; windingherself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting thedrooping head, and binding up the broken heart.

I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family,knit together in the strongest affection. “I can wish you no better lot,” said he, with enthusiasm, “than to have a wife and children. If you areprosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, therethey are to comfort you.” And, indeed, I have observed that a married manfalling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in theworld than a single one; partly, because he is more stimulated to exertionby the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon himfor subsistence, but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relievedby domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that,though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a littleworld of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas, a single manis apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely andabandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, forwant of an inhabitant.

These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of which I wasonce a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a beautiful andaccomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionablelife. She had, it is true, no fortune, but that of my friend was ample;and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegantpursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies thatspread a kind of witchery about the sex.—“Her life,” said he, “shallbe like a fairy tale.”

The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious combination;he was of a romantic, and somewhat serious cast; she was all life andgladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gazeupon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her the delight:and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him, as ifthere alone she sought favor and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, herslender form contrasted finely with his tall, manly person. The fond,confiding air with which she looked up to him seemed to call forth a flushof triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness, as if he doated on hislovely burden from its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forwardon the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairerprospect of felicity.

It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his propertyin large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by asuccession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him, and he foundhimself reduced to almost penury. For a time he kept his situation tohimself, and went about with a haggard countenance, and a breaking heart.His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it moreinsupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence ofhis wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news.She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not wellwith him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs, and was not tobe deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She taskedall her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back tohappiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more hesaw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soonto make her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile willvanish from that cheek—the song will die away from those lips—thelustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow and the happy heartwhich now beats lightly in that bosom, will be weighed down, like mine, bythe cares and miseries of the world.

At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situation in a toneof the deepest despair. When I had heard him through, I inquired: “Doesyour wife know all this?”—At the question he burst into an agony oftears. “For God’s sake!” cried he, “if you have any pity on me don’tmention my wife; it is the thought of her that drives me almost tomadness!”

“And why not?” said I. “She must know it sooner or later: you cannot keepit long from her, and the intelligence may break upon her in a morestartling manner than if imparted by yourself; for the accents of those welove soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself ofthe comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangeringthe only bond that can keep hearts together—an unreserved communityof thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretlypreying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it feelsundervalued and outraged, when even the sorrows of those it loves areconcealed from it.”

“Oh, but my friend! to think what a blow I am to give to all her futureprospects,—how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by tellingher that her husband is a beggar! that she is to forego all the eleganciesof life—all the pleasures of society—to shrink with me intoindigence and obscurity! To tell her that I have dragged her down from thesphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness—thelight of every eye—the admiration of every heart!—How can shebear poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence.How can she bear neglect? She has been the idol of society. Oh, it willbreak her heart—it will break her heart!”

I saw his grief was eloquent, and I let it have its flow; for sorrowrelieves itself by words. When his paroxysm had subsided, and he hadrelapsed into moody silence, I resumed the subject gently, and urged himto break his situation at once to his wife. He shook his head mournfully,but positively.

“But how are you to keep it from her? It is necessary she should know it,that you may take the steps proper to the alteration of yourcirc*mstances. You must change your style of living—nay,” observinga pang to pass across his countenance, “don’t let that afflict you. I amsure you have never placed your happiness in outward show—you haveyet friends, warm friends, who will not think the worse of you for beingless splendidly lodged: and surely it does not require a palace to behappy with Mary—”

“I could be happy with her,” cried he, convulsively, “in a hovel!—Icould go down with her into poverty and the dust!—I could—Icould—God bless her!—God bless her!” cried he, bursting into atransport of grief and tenderness.

“And believe me, my friend,” said I, stepping up, and grasping him warmlyby the hand, “believe me, she can be the same with you. Ay, more; it willbe a source of pride and triumph to her—it will call forth all thelatent energies and fervent sympathies of her nature; for she will rejoiceto prove that she loves you for yourself. There is in every true woman’sheart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylightof prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams, and blazes in the darkhour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom is—no manknows what a ministering angel she is—until he has gone with herthrough the fiery trials of this world.”

There was something in the earnestness of my manner, and the figurativestyle of my language, that caught the excited imagination of Leslie. Iknew the auditor I had to deal with; and following up the impression I hadmade, I finished by persuading him to go home and unburden his sad heartto his wife.

I must confess, notwithstanding all I had said, I felt some littlesolicitude for the result. Who can calculate on the fortitude of one whoselife has been a round of pleasures? Her gay spirits might revolt at thedark, downward path of low humility suddenly pointed out before her, andmight cling to the sunny regions in which they had hitherto revelled.Besides, ruin in fashionable life is accompanied by so many gallingmortifications, to which, in other ranks, it is a stranger. In short, Icould not meet Leslie, the next morning, without trepidation. He had madethe disclosure.

“And how did she bear it?”

“Like an angel! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mind, for she threwher arms around my neck, and asked if this was all that had lately made meunhappy.—But, poor girl,” added he, “she cannot realize the changewe must undergo. She has no idea of poverty but in the abstract; she hasonly read of it in poetry, where it is allied to love. She feels as yet noprivation; she suffers no loss of accustomed conveniences nor elegancies.When we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry wants,its petty humiliations—then will be the real trial.”

“But,” said I, “now that you have got over the severest task, that ofbreaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the secret thebetter. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it is a single misery,and soon over: whereas you otherwise suffer it, in anticipation, everyhour in the day. It is not poverty, so much as pretence, that harasses aruined man—the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse-thekeeping up a hollow show that must soon come to an end. Have the courageto appear poor, and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting.” On thispoint I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride himself,and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to their alteredfortunes.

Some days afterwards, he called upon me in the evening. He had disposed ofhis dwelling-house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few milesfrom town. He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The newestablishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind. Allthe splendid furniture of his late residence had been sold, excepting hiswife’s harp. That, he said, was too closely associated with the idea ofherself it belonged to the little story of their loves; for some of thesweetest moments of their courtship were those when he had leaned overthat instrument, and listened to the melting tones of her voice.—Icould not but smile at this instance of romantic gallantry in a doatinghusband.

He was now going out to the cottage, where his wife had been all daysuperintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interestedin the progress of his family story, and, as it was a fine evening, Ioffered to accompany him.

He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and, as we walked out, fellinto a fit of gloomy musing.

“Poor Mary!” at length broke, with a heavy sigh, from his lips.

“And what of her,” asked I, “has anything happened to her?”

“What,” said he, darting an impatient glance, “is it nothing to be reducedto this paltry situation—to be caged in a miserable cottage—tobe obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretchedhabitation?”

Has she then repined at the change?

“Repined! she has been nothing but sweetness and good-humor. Indeed, sheseems in better spirits than I have ever known her; she has been to me alllove, and tenderness, and comfort!”

“Admirable girl!” exclaimed I. “You call yourself poor, my friend; younever were so rich,—you never knew the boundless treasures ofexcellence you possessed in that woman.”

“Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over, Ithink I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of realexperience; she has been introduced into a humble dwelling,—she hasbeen employed all day in arranging its miserable equipments,—shehas, for the first time, known the fatigues of domestic employment,—shehas, for the first time, looked around her on a home destitute of everything elegant—almost of every thing convenient; and may now besitting down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of futurepoverty.”

There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could notgainsay, so we walked on in silence.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (19)


After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded withforest-trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sightof the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the mostpastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine hadoverrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw theirbranches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowerstastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front. Asmall wicket-gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubberyto the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music—Lesliegrasped my arm; we paused and listened. It was Mary’s voice singing, in astyle of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husbandwas peculiarly fond.

I felt Leslie’s hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward, to hear moredistinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel-walk. A bright beautifulface glanced out at the window, and vanished—a light footstep-washeard—and Mary came tripping forth to meet us. She was in a prettyrural dress of white; a few wild flowers were twisted in her fine hair; afresh bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles—Ihad never seen her look so lovely.

“My dear George,” cried she, “I am so glad you are come; I have beenwatching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking outfor you. I’ve set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage;and I’ve been gathering some of the most delicious strawberries, for Iknow you are fond of them—and we have such excellent cream—andeverything is so sweet and still here-Oh!”—said she, putting her armwithin his, and looking up brightly in his face, “Oh, we shall be sohappy!”

Poor Leslie was overcome.—He caught her to his bosom—he foldedhis arms round her—he kissed her again and again—he could notspeak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me,that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his lifehas, indeed, been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment ofmore exquisite felicity.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (20)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (21)




By Woden, God of Saxons,From whence comes Wensday, that is Wodensday,Truth is a thing that ever I will keepUnto thylke day in which I creep intoMy sepulchre—CARTWRIGHT.

The following Tale was found among the papers of the late DiedrichKnickerbocker, an old gentleman of New York, who was very curious in theDutch History of the province and the manners of the descendants from itsprimitive settlers. His historical researches, however, did not lie somuch among books as among men; for the former are lamentably scanty on hisfavorite topics; whereas he found the old burghers, and still more, theirwives, rich in that legendary lore, so invaluable to true history.Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a genuine Dutch family, snugly shutup in its low-roofed farm-house, under a spreading sycamore, he lookedupon it as a little clasped volume of black-letter, and studied it withthe zeal of a bookworm.

The result of all these researches was a history of the province, duringthe reign of the Dutch governors, which he published some years since.There have been various opinions as to the literary character of his work,and, to tell the truth, it is not a whit better than it should be. Itschief merit is its scrupulous accuracy, which indeed was a littlequestioned on its first appearance, but has since been completelyestablished; and it is now admitted into all historical collections, as abook of unquestionable authority.

The old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his work; and nowthat he is dead and gone, it cannot do much harm to his memory to say thathis time might have been much better employed in weightier labors. He,however, was apt to ride his hobby his own way; and though it did now andthen kick up the dust a little in the eyes of his neighbors, and grievethe spirit of some friends, for whom he felt the truest deference andaffection, yet his errors and follies are remembered “more in sorrow thanin anger,” and it begins to be suspected, that he never intended to injureor offend. But however his memory may be appreciated by critics, it isstill held dear among many folks, whose good opinion is well worth having;particularly by certain biscuit-bakers, who have gone so far as to imprinthis likeness on their new-year cakes, and have thus given him a chance forimmortality, almost equal to the being stamped on a Waterloo medal, or aQueen Anne’s farthing.]

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (22)


WHOEVER has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskillmountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family,and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble height,and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, everychange of weather, indeed, every hour of the day produces some change inthe magical hues and shapes of these mountains; and they are regarded byall the good wives, far and near, as perfect barometers. When the weatheris fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, and print theirbold outlines on the clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest ofthe landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors abouttheir summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow andlight up like a crown of glory.

At the foot of these fairy mountains, the voyager may have descried thelight smoke curling up from a Village, whose shingle roofs gleam among thetrees, just where the blue tints of the upland melt away into the freshgreen of the nearer landscape. It is a little village of great antiquity,having been founded by some of the Dutch colonists, in the early times ofthe province, just about the beginning of the government of the good PeterStuyvesant (may he rest in peace!), and there were some of the houses ofthe original settlers standing within a few years, built of small yellowbricks, brought from Holland, having latticed windows and gable fronts,surmounted with weatherco*cks.

In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, to tell theprecise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten), there lived, manyyears since, while the country was yet a province of Great Britain, asimple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was adescendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the chivalrousdays of Peter Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of FortChristina. He inherited, however, but little of the martial character ofhis ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; hewas, moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient henpecked husband. Indeed,to the latter circ*mstance might be owing that meekness of spirit whichgained him such universal popularity; for those men are apt to beobsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrewsat home. Their tempers, doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable inthe fiery furnace of domestic tribulation, and a curtain-lecture is worthall the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience andlong-suffering. A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, beconsidered a tolerable blessing, and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thriceblessed.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (23)


Certain it is, that he was a great favorite among all the good wives ofthe village, who, as usual with the amiable sex, took his part in allfamily squabbles, and never failed, whenever they talked those mattersover in their evening gossipings, to lay all the blame on Dame Van Winkle.The children of the village, too, would shout with joy whenever heapproached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taughtthem to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts,witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he wassurrounded by a troop of them hanging on his skirts, clambering on hisback, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity; and not a dogwould bark at him throughout the neighborhood.

The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to allkinds of profitable labor. It could not be for want of assiduity orperseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long and heavyas a Tartar’s lance, and fish all day without a murmur, even though heshould not be encouraged by a single nibble. He would carry afowling-piece on his shoulder, for hours together, trudging through woodsand swamps, and up hill and down dale, to shoot a few squirrels or wildpigeons. He would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughesttoil, and was a foremost man in all country frolics for husking Indiancorn, or building stone fences; the women of the village, too, used toemploy him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs as theirless obliging husbands would not do for them. In a word, Rip was ready toattend to anybody’s business but his own; but as to doing family duty, andkeeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.

In fact, he declared it was of no use to work on his farm; it was the mostpestilent little piece of ground in the whole country; everything about itwent wrong, in spite of him. His fences were continually falling topieces; his cow would either go astray, or get among the cabbages; weedswere sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else; the rainalways made a point of setting in just as he had some out-door work to do;so that though his patrimonial estate had dwindled away under hismanagement, acre by acre, until there was little more left than a merepatch of Indian corn and potatoes, yet it was the worst-conditioned farmin the neighborhood.

His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody.His son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own likeness, promised to inheritthe habits, with the old clothes, of his father. He was generally seentrooping like a colt at his mother’s heels, equipped in a pair of hisfather’s cast-off galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with onehand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather.

Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish,well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white bread orbrown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble, and wouldrather starve on a penny than work for a pound. If left to himself, hewould have whistled life away, in perfect contentment; but his wife keptcontinually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, andthe ruin he was bringing on his family. Morning, noon, and night, hertongue was incessantly going, and every thing he said or did was sure toproduce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of replyingto all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown into ahabit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, butsaid nothing. This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife,so that he was fain to draw off his forces, and take to the outside of thehouse—the only side which, in truth, belongs to a henpecked husband.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (24)


Rip’s sole domestic adherent was his dog Wolf, who was as much henpeckedas his master; for Dame Van Winkle regarded them as companions inidleness, and even looked upon Wolf with an evil eye, as the cause of hismaster’s going so often astray. True it is, in all points of spiritbefitting in honorable dog, he was as courageous an animal as ever scouredthe woods—but what courage can withstand the evil-doing andall-besetting terrors of a woman’s tongue? The moment Wolf entered thehouse, his crest fell, his tail drooped to the ground, or curled betweenhis legs, he sneaked about with a gallows air, casting many a sidelongglance at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least flourish of a broomstick orladle, he would fly to the door with yelping precipitation.

Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of matrimonyrolled on; a tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is theonly edged tool that grows keener with constant use. For a long while heused to console himself, when driven from home, by frequenting a kind ofperpetual club of the sages, philosophers, and other idle personages ofthe village, which held its sessions on a bench before a small inn,designated by a rubicund portrait of his Majesty George the Third. Herethey used to sit in the shade through a long, lazy summer’s day, talkinglistlessly over village gossip, or telling endless, sleepy stories aboutnothing. But it would have been worth any statesman’s money to have heardthe profound discussions which sometimes took place, when by chance an oldnewspaper fell into their hands from some passing traveller. How solemnlythey would listen to the contents, as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel,the school-master, a dapper learned little man, who was not to be dauntedby the most gigantic word in the dictionary; and how sagely they woulddeliberate upon public events some months after they had taken place.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (25)


The opinions of this junto were completely controlled by Nicholas Vedder,a patriarch of the village, and landlord of the inn, at the door of whichhe took his seat from morning till night, just moving sufficiently toavoid the sun, and keep in the shade of a large tree; so that theneighbors could tell the hour by his movements as accurately as by asun-dial. It is true, he was rarely heard to speak, but smoked his pipeincessantly. His adherents, however (for every great man has hisadherents), perfectly understood him, and knew how to gather his opinions.When any thing that was read or related displeased him, he was observed tosmoke his pipe vehemently, and to send forth, frequent, and angry puffs;but when pleased, he would inhale the smoke slowly and tranquilly, andemit it in light and placid clouds, and sometimes, taking the pipe fromhis mouth, and letting the fragrant vapor curl about his nose, wouldgravely nod his head in token of perfect approbation.

From even this stronghold the unlucky Rip was at length routed by histermagant wife, who would suddenly break in upon the tranquillity of theassemblage, and call the members all to nought; nor was that augustpersonage, Nicholas Vedder himself, sacred from the daring tongue of thisterrible virago, who charged him outright with encouraging her husband inhabits of idleness.

Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair; and his only alternative,to escape from the labor of the farm and the clamor of his wife, was totake gun in hand, and stroll away into the woods. Here he would sometimesseat himself at the foot of a tree, and share the contents of his walletwith Wolf, with whom he sympathized as a fellow-sufferer in persecution.“Poor Wolf,” he would say, “thy mistress leads thee a dog’s life of it;but never mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend tostand by thee!” Wolf would wag his tail, look wistfully in his master’sface, and if dogs can feel pity, I verily believe he reciprocated thesentiment with all his heart.

In a long ramble of the kind, on a fine autumnal day, Rip hadunconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Kaatskillmountains. He was after his favorite sport of squirrel-shooting, and thestill solitudes had echoed and re-echoed with the reports of his gun.Panting and fatigued, he threw himself, late in the afternoon, on a greenknoll, covered with mountain herbage, that crowned the brow of aprecipice. From an opening between the trees, he could overlook all thelower country for many a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance thelordly Hudson, far, far below him, moving on its silent but majesticcourse, with the reflection of a purple cloud, or the sail of a laggingbark, here and there sleeping on its glassy bosom and at last losingitself in the blue highlands.

On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, wild, lonely,and shagged, the bottom filled with fragments from the impending cliffs,and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun. For sometime Rip lay musing on this scene; evening was gradually advancing; themountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys; he sawthat it would be dark long before he could reach the village; and heheaved a heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of DameVan Winkle.

As he was about to descend, he heard a voice from a distance hallooing:“Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!” He looked around, but could see nothingbut a crow winging its solitary flight across the mountain. He thought hisfancy must have deceived him, and turned again to descend, when he heardthe same cry ring through the still evening air, “Rip Van Winkle! Rip VanWinkle!”—at the same time Wolf bristled up his back, and giving alow growl, skulked to his master’s side, looking fearfully down into theglen. Rip now felt a vague apprehension stealing over him; he lookedanxiously in the same direction, and perceived a strange figure slowlytoiling up the rocks, and bending under the weight of something he carriedon his back. He was surprised to see any human being in this lonely andunfrequented place, but supposing it to be some one of the neighborhood inneed of his assistance, he hastened down to yield it.

On nearer approach, he was still more surprised at the singularity of thestranger’s appearance. He was a short, square-built old fellow, with thickbushy hair, and a grizzled beard. His dress was of the antique Dutchfashion—a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist—several pairsof breeches, the outer one of ample volume, decorated with rows of buttonsdown the sides, and bunches at the knees. He bore on his shoulders a stoutkeg, that seemed full of liquor, and made signs for Rip to approach andassist him with the load. Though rather shy and distrustful of this newacquaintance, Rip complied with his usual alacrity; and mutually relievingeach other, they clambered up a narrow gully, apparently the dry bed of amountain torrent. As they ascended, Rip every now and then heard longrolling peals, like distant thunder, that seemed to issue out of a deepravine, or rather cleft between lofty rocks, toward which their ruggedpath conducted. He paused for an instant, but supposing it to be themuttering of one of those transient thunder-showers which often take placein the mountain heights, he proceeded. Passing through the ravine, theycame to a hollow, like a small amphitheatre, surrounded by perpendicularprecipices, over the brinks of which impending trees shot their branches,so that you only caught glimpses of the azure sky, and the bright eveningcloud. During the whole time Rip and his companion had labored on insilence; for though the former marvelled greatly what could be the objectof carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, yet there was somethingstrange and incomprehensible about the unknown, that inspired awe, andchecked familiarity.

On entering the amphitheatre, new objects of wonder presented themselves.On a level spot in the centre was a company of odd-looking personagesplaying at ninepins. They were dressed in quaint outlandish fashion; somewore short doublets, others jerkins, with long knives in their belts, andmost of them had enormous breeches, of similar style with that of theguide’s. Their visages, too, were peculiar; one had a large head, broadface, and small piggish eyes; the face of another seemed to consistentirely of nose, and was surmounted by a white sugar-loaf hat, set offwith a little red co*ck’s tail. They all had beards, of various shapes andcolors. There was one who seemed to be the commander. He was a stout oldgentleman, with a weather-beaten countenance; he wore a laced doublet,broad belt and hanger, high-crowned hat and feather, red stockings, andhigh-heeled shoes, with roses in them. The whole group reminded Rip of thefigures in an old Flemish painting, in the parlor of Dominie Van Schaick,the village parson, and which had been brought over from Holland at thetime of the settlement.

What seemed particularly odd to Rip was, that though these folks wereevidently amusing themselves, yet they maintained the gravest faces, themost mysterious silence, and were, withal, the most melancholy party ofpleasure he had ever witnessed. Nothing interrupted the stillness of thescene but the noise of the balls, which, whenever they were rolled, echoedalong the mountains like rumbling peals of thunder.

As Rip and his companion approached them, they suddenly desisted fromtheir play, and stared at him with such a fixed statue-like gaze, and suchstrange uncouth, lack-lustre countenances, that his heart turned withinhim, and his knees smote together. His companion now emptied the contentsof the keg into large flagons, and made signs to him to wait upon thecompany. He obeyed with fear and trembling; they quaffed the liquor inprofound silence, and then returned to their game.

By degrees, Rip’s awe and apprehension subsided. He even ventured, when noeye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage which he found had much ofthe flavor of excellent Hollands. He was naturally a thirsty soul, and wassoon tempted to repeat the draught. One taste provoked another; and hereiterated his visits to the flagon so often, that at length his senseswere overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined,and he fell into a deep sleep.

On waking, he found himself on the green knoll whence he had first seenthe old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes—it was a bright sunnymorning. The birds were hopping and twittering among the bushes, and theeagle was wheeling aloft, and breasting the pure mountain breeze.“Surely,” thought Rip, “I have not slept here all night.” He recalled theoccurrences before he fell asleep. The strange man with the keg of liquor—themountain ravine—the wild retreat among the rocks—thewoe-begone party at ninepins—the flagon—“Oh! that flagon! thatwicked flagon!” thought Rip—“what excuse shall I make to Dame VanWinkle?”

He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean well-oiledfowling-piece, he found an old firelock lying by him, the barrel encrustedwith rust, the lock falling off, and the stock worm-eaten. He nowsuspected that the grave roysterers of the mountains had put a trick uponhim, and, having dosed him with liquor, had robbed him of his gun. Wolf,too, had disappeared, but he might have strayed away after a squirrel orpartridge. He whistled after him and shouted his name, but all in vain;the echoes repeated his whistle and shout, but no dog was to be seen.

He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening’s gambol, and if hemet with any of the party, to demand his dog and gun. As he rose to walk,he found himself stiff in the joints, and wanting in his usual activity.“These mountain beds do not agree with me,” thought Rip, “and if thisfrolic, should lay me up with a fit of the rheumatism, I shall have ablessed time with Dame Van Winkle.” With some difficulty he got down intothe glen: he found the gully up which he and his companion had ascendedthe preceding evening; but to his astonishment a mountain stream was nowfoaming down it, leaping from rock to rock, and filling the glen withbabbling murmurs. He, however, made shift to scramble up its sides,working his toilsome way through thickets of birch, sassafras, andwitch-hazel; and sometimes tripped up or entangled by the wild grape vinesthat twisted their coils and tendrils from tree to tree, and spread a kindof network in his path.

At length he reached to where the ravine had opened through the cliffs tothe amphitheatre; but no traces of such opening remained. The rockspresented a high impenetrable wall, over which the torrent came tumblingin a sheet of feathery foam, and fell into a broad deep basin, black fromthe shadows of the surrounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was brought toa stand. He again called and whistled after his dog; he was only answeredby the cawing of a flock of idle crows, sporting high in the air about adry tree that overhung a sunny precipice; and who, secure in theirelevation, seemed to look down and scoff at the poor man’s perplexities.What was to be done? The morning was passing away, and Rip felt famishedfor want of his breakfast. He grieved to give up his dog and gun; hedreaded to meet his wife; but it would not do to starve among themountains. He shook his head, shouldered the rusty firelock, and, with aheart full of trouble and anxiety, turned his steps homeward.

As he approached the village, he met a number of people, but none whom henew, which somewhat surprised him, for he had thought himself acquaintedwith every one in the country round. Their dress, too, was of a differentfashion from that to which he was accustomed. They all stared at him withequal marks of surprise, and whenever they cast eyes upon him, invariablystroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture, induced Rip,involuntarily, to do, the same, when, to his astonishment, he found hisbeard had grown a foot long!

He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange childrenran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his gray beard. Thedogs, too, not one of which he recognized for an old acquaintance, barkedat him as he passed. The very village was altered: it was larger and morepopulous. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, andthose which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange nameswere over the doors—strange faces at the windows—everythingwas strange. His mind now misgave him; he began to doubt whether both heand the world around him were not bewitched. Surely this was his nativevillage, which he had left but a day before. There stood the Kaatskillmountains—there ran the silver Hudson at a distance—there wasevery hill and dale precisely as it had always been—Rip was sorelyperplexed—“That flagon last night,” thought he, “has addled my poorhead sadly!”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (26)


It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house, whichhe approached with silent awe, expecting every moment to hear the shrillvoice of Dame Van Winkle. He found the house gone to decay—the roofhad fallen in, the windows shattered, and the doors off the hinges. Ahalf-starved dog, that looked like Wolf, was skulking about it. Rip calledhim by name, but the cur snarled, showed his teeth, and passed on. Thiswas an unkind cut indeed.—“My very dog,” sighed poor Rip, “hasforgotten me!”

He entered the house, which, to tell the truth, Dame Van Winkle had alwayskept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and apparently abandoned. Thisdesolateness overcame all his connubial fears—he called loudly forhis wife and children—the lonely chambers rang for a moment with hisvoice, and then all again was silence.

He now hurried forth, and hastened to his old resort, the village inn—butit too was gone. A large rickety wooden building stood in its place, withgreat gaping windows, some of them broken, and mended with old hats andpetticoats, and over the door was painted, “The Union Hotel, by JonathanDoolittle.” Instead of the great tree that used to shelter the quietlittle Dutch inn of yore, there now was reared a tall naked pole, withsomething on the top that looked like a red nightcap, and from it wasfluttering a flag, on which was a singular assemblage of stars and stripes—allthis was strange and incomprehensible. He recognized on the sign, however,the ruby face of King George, under which he had smoked so many a peacefulpipe, but even this was singularly metamorphosed. The red coat was changedfor one of blue and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of asceptre, the head was decorated with a co*cked hat, and underneath waspainted in large characters, “GENERAL WASHINGTON.”

There was, as usual, a crowd of folk about the door, but none that Riprecollected. The very character of the people seemed changed. There was abusy, bustling, disputatious tone about it, instead of the accustomedphlegm and drowsy tranquillity. He looked in vain for the sage NicholasVedder, with his broad face, double chin, and fair long pipe, utteringclouds of tobacco-smoke, instead of idle speeches; or Van Bummel, theschoolmaster, doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. In placeof these, a lean, bilious-looking fellow, with his pockets full ofhandbills, was haranguing, vehemently about rights of citizens-elections—membersof Congress—liberty—Bunker’s hill—heroes ofseventy-six-and other words, which were a perfect Babylonish jargon to thebewildered Van Winkle.

The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard, his rustyfowling-piece, his uncouth dress, and the army of women and children athis heels, soon attracted the attention of the tavern politicians. Theycrowded round him, eying him from head to foot, with great curiosity. Theorator bustled up to him, and, drawing him partly aside, inquired, “onwhich side he voted?” Rip stared in vacant stupidity. Another short butbusy little fellow pulled him by the arm, and rising on tiptoe, inquiredin his ear, “whether he was Federal or Democrat.” Rip was equally at aloss to comprehend the question; when a knowing, self-important oldgentleman, in a sharp co*cked hat, made his way through the crowd, puttingthem to the right and left with his elbows as he passed, and plantinghimself before Van Winkle, with one arm akimbo, the other resting on hiscane, his keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating, as it were, into his verysoul, demanded in an austere tone, “What brought him to the election witha gun on his shoulder, and a mob at his heels; and whether he meant tobreed a riot in the village?”

“Alas! gentlemen,” cried Rip, somewhat dismayed, “I am a poor, quiet man,a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the King, God bless him!”

Here a general shout burst from the bystanders-“a tory! a tory! a spy! arefugee! hustle him! away with him!” It was with great difficulty that theself-important man in the co*cked hat restored order; and having assumed atenfold austerity of brow, demanded again of the unknown culprit, what hecame there for, and whom he was seeking. The poor man humbly assured himthat he meant no harm, but merely came there in search of some of hisneighbors, who used to keep about the tavern.

“Well—who are they?—name them.”

Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired, Where’s Nicholas Vedder?

There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replied, in athin, piping voice, “Nicholas Vedder? why, he is dead and gone theseeighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the churchyard that usedto tell all about him, but that’s rotten and gone too.”

“Where’s Brom Dutcher?”

“Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war; some say he waskilled at the storming of Stony-Point—others say he was drowned in asquall at the foot of Antony’s Nose. I don’t know—he never came backagain.”

“Where’s Van Bummel, the schoolmaster?”

“He went off to the wars, too; was a great militia general, and is now inCongress.”

Rip’s heart died away, at hearing of these sad changes in his home andfriends, and finding himself thus alone in the world. Every answer puzzledhim too, by treating of such enormous lapses of time, and of matters whichhe could not understand: war—Congress-Stony-Point;—he had nocourage to ask after any more friends, but cried out in despair, “Doesnobody here know Rip Van Winkle?”

“Oh, Rip Van Winkle!” exclaimed two or three. “Oh, to be sure! that’s RipVan Winkle yonder, leaning against the tree.”

Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself as he went up themountain; apparently as lazy, and certainly as ragged. The poor fellow wasnow completely confounded. He doubted his own identity, and whether he washimself or another man. In the midst of his bewilderment, the man in theco*cked hat demanded who he was, and what was his name?

“God knows!” exclaimed he at his wit’s end; “I’m not myself—I’msomebody else—that’s me yonder-no—that’s somebody else, gotinto my shoes—I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on themountain, and they’ve changed my gun, and everything’s changed, and I’mchanged, and I can’t tell what’s my name, or who I am!”

The by-standers began now to look at each other, nod, wink significantly,and tap their fingers against their foreheads. There was a whisper, also,about securing the gun, and keeping the old fellow from doing mischief; atthe very suggestion of which, the self-important man with the co*cked hatretired with some precipitation. At this critical moment a fresh, comelywoman pressed through the throng to get a peep at the gray-bearded man.She had a chubby child in her arms, which, frightened at his looks, beganto cry. “Hush, Rip,” cried she, “hush, you little fool; the old man won’thurt you.” The name of the child, the air of the mother, the tone of hervoice, all awakened a train of recollections in his mind.

“What is your name, my good woman?” asked he.

“Judith Cardenier.”

“And your father’s name?”

“Ah, poor man, Rip Van Winkle was his name, but it’s twenty years since hewent away from home with his gun, and never has been heard of since,—hisdog came home without him; but whether he shot himself, or was carriedaway by the Indians, nobody can tell. I was then but a little girl.”

Rip had but one more question to ask; but he put it with a falteringvoice:

“Where’s your mother?”

Oh, she too had died but a short time since; she broke a blood-vessel in afit of passion at a New-England pedler.

There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence. The honestman could contain himself no longer. He caught his daughter and her childin his arms. “I am your father!” cried he-“Young Rip Van Winkle once-oldRip Van Winkle now—Does nobody know poor Rip Van Winkle!”

All stood amazed, until an old woman, tottering out from among the crowd,put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his face for a momentexclaimed, “sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle—it is himself. Welcomehome again, old neighbor. Why, where have you been these twenty longyears?”

Rip’s story was soon told, for the whole twenty years had been to him butas one night. The neighbors stared when they heard it; some were seen towink at each other, and put their tongues in their cheeks; and theself-important man in the co*cked hat, who, when the alarm was over, hadreturned to the field, screwed down the corners of his mouth, and shookhis head—upon which there was a general shaking of the headthroughout the assemblage.

It was determined, however, to take the opinion of old Peter Vanderdonk,who was seen slowly advancing up the road. He was a descendant of thehistorian of that name, who wrote one of the earliest accounts of theprovince. Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village, and wellversed in all the wonderful events and traditions of the neighborhood. Herecollected Rip at once, and corroborated his story in the mostsatisfactory manner. He assured the company that it was a fact, handeddown from his ancestor, the historian, that the Kaatskill mountains hadalways been haunted by strange beings. That it was affirmed that the greatHendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and country, kept akind of vigil there every twenty years, with his crew of the Half-moon;being permitted in this way to revisit the scenes of his enterprise, andkeep a guardian eye upon the river and the great city called by his name.That his father had once seen them in their old Dutch dresses playing atninepins in the hollow of the mountain; and that he himself had heard, onesummer afternoon, the sound of their balls, like distant peals of thunder.

To make a long story short, the company broke up, and returned to the moreimportant concerns of the election. Rip’s daughter took him home to livewith her; she had a snug, well-furnished house, and a stout cheery farmerfor a husband, whom Rip recollected for one of the urchins that used toclimb upon his back. As to Rip’s son and heir, who was the ditto ofhimself, seen leaning against the tree, he was employed to work on thefarm; but evinced an hereditary disposition to attend to any thing elsebut his business.

Rip now resumed his old walks and habits; he soon found many of his formercronies, though all rather the worse for the wear and tear of time; andpreferred making friends among the rising generation, with whom he soongrew into great favor.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (27)


Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happy age when aman can be idle with impunity, he took his place once more on the bench,at the inn door, and was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of thevillage, and a chronicle of the old times “before the war.” It was sometime before he could get into the regular track of gossip, or could bemade to comprehend the strange events that had taken place during historpor. How that there had been a revolutionary war—that the countryhad thrown off the yoke of old England—and that, instead of being asubject to his Majesty George the Third, he was now a free citizen of theUnited States. Rip, in fact, was no politician; the changes of states andempires made but little impression on him; but there was one species ofdespotism under which he had long groaned, and that was—petticoatgovernment. Happily, that was at an end; he had got his neck out of theyoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased, withoutdreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle. Whenever her name was mentioned,however, he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up his eyes;which might pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate, orjoy at his deliverance.

He used to tell his story to every stranger that arrived at Mr.Doolittle’s hotel. He was observed, at first, to vary on some points everytime he told it, which was, doubtless, owing to his having so recentlyawaked. It at last settled down precisely to the tale I have related, andnot a man, woman, or child in the neighborhood, but knew it by heart. Somealways pretended to doubt the reality of it, and insisted that Rip hadbeen out of his head, and that this was one point on which he alwaysremained flighty. The old Dutch inhabitants, however, almost universallygave it full credit. Even to this day, they never hear a thunder-storm ofa summer afternoon about the Kaatskill, but they say Hendrick Hudson andhis crew are at their game of ninepins; and it is a common wish of allhenpecked husbands in the neighborhood, when life hangs heavy on theirhands, that they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle’sflagon.


The foregoing tale, one would suspect, had been suggested to Mr.Knickerbocker by a little German superstition about the Emperor Frederickder Rothbart and the Kypphauser mountain; the subjoined note, however,which had appended to the tale, shows that it is an absolute fact,narrated with his usual fidelity.

“The story of Rip Van Winkle may seem incredible to many, but neverthelessI give it my full belief, for I know the vicinity of our old Dutchsettlements to have been very subject to marvellous events andappearances. Indeed, I have heard many stranger stories than this, in thevillages along the Hudson; all of which were too well authenticated toadmit of a doubt. I have even talked with Rip Van Winkle myself, who, whenlast I saw him, was a very venerable old man, and so perfectly rationaland consistent on every other point, that I think no conscientious personcould refuse to take this into the bargain; nay, I have seen a certificateon the subject taken before a country justice, and signed with cross, inthe justice’s own handwriting. The story, therefore, is beyond thepossibility of doubt.


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (28)


The following are travelling notes from a memorandum-book of Mr.Knickerbocker:

The Kaatsberg or Catskill mountains have always been a region full offable. The Indians considered them the abode of spirits, who influencedthe weather, spreading sunshine or clouds over the landscape, and sendinggood or bad hunting seasons. They were ruled by an old squaw spirit, saidto be their mother. She dwelt on the highest peak of the Catskills, andhad charge of the doors of day and night to open and shut them at theproper hour. She hung up the new moons in the skies, and cut up the oldones into stars. In times of drought, if properly propitiated, she wouldspin light summer clouds out of cobwebs and morning dew, and send them offfrom the crest of the mountain, flake after flake, like flakes of cardedcotton, to float in the air; until, dissolved by the heat of the sun, theywould fall in gentle showers, causing the grass to spring, the fruits toripen, and the corn to grow an inch an hour. If displeased, however, shewould brew up clouds black as ink, sitting in the midst of them like abottle-bellied spider in the midst of its web; and when these cloudsbroke, woe betide the valleys!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (29)


In old times, say the Indian traditions, there was a kind of Manitou orSpirit, who kept about the wildest recesses of the Catskill mountains, andtook a mischievous pleasure in wreaking all kind of evils and vexationsupon the red men. Sometimes he would assume the form of a bear, a panther,or a deer, lead the bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangledforests and among ragged rocks, and then spring off with a loud ho! ho!leaving him aghast on the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent.

The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. It is a rock or cliffon the loneliest port of the mountains, and, from the flowering vineswhich clamber about it, and the wild flowers which abound in itsneighborhood, is known by the name of the Garden Rock. Near the foot of itis a small lake, the haunt of the solitary bittern, with water-snakesbasking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on thesurface. This place was held in great awe by the Indians, insomuch thatthe boldest hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. Onceupon a time, however, a hunter who had lost his way penetrated to theGarden Rock, where he beheld a number of gourds placed in the crotches oftrees. One of these he seized and made off with it, but in the hurry ofhis retreat he let it fall among the rocks, when a great stream gushedforth, which washed him away and swept him down precipices, where he wasdished to pieces, and the stream made its way to the Hudson, and continuesto flow to the present day, being the identical stream known by the nameof the Kaaterskill.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (30)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (31)



Methinks I see in my mind a noble and puissant nation, rousting herselflike a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks; methinksI see her as an eagle, mewing her mighty youth, and kindling her endazzledeyes at the full mid-day beam.—MILTON ON THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS.

IT is with feelings of deep regret that I observe the literary animositydaily growing up between England and America. Great curiosity has beenawakened of late with respect to the United States, and the London presshas teemed with volumes of travels through the Republic; but they seemintended to diffuse error rather than knowledge; and so successful havethey been, that, notwithstanding the constant intercourse between thenations, there is no people concerning whom the great mass of the Britishpublic have less pure information, or entertain more numerous prejudices.

English travellers are the best and the worst in the world. Where nomotives of pride or interest intervene, none can equal them for profoundand philosophical views of society, or faithful and graphical descriptionof external objects; but when either the interest or reputation of theirown country comes in collision with that of another, they go to theopposite extreme, and forget their usual probity and candor, in theindulgence of splenetic remark, and an illiberal spirit of ridicule.

Hence, their travels are more honest and accurate, the more remote thecountry described. I would place implicit confidence in an Englishman’sdescription of the regions beyond the cataracts of the Nile; of unknownislands in the Yellow Sea; of the interior of India; or of any other tractwhich other travellers might be apt to picture out with the illusions oftheir fancies. But I would cautiously receive his account of his immediateneighbors, and of those nations with which he is in habits of mostfrequent intercourse. However I might be disposed to trust his probity, Idare not trust his prejudices.

It has also been the peculiar lot of our country to be visited by theworst kind of English travellers. While men of philosophical spirit andcultivated minds have been sent from England to ransack the poles, topenetrate the deserts, and to study the manners and customs of barbarousnations, with which she can have no permanent intercourse of profit orpleasure; it has been left to the broken-down tradesman, the schemingadventurer, the wandering mechanic, the Manchester and Birmingham agent,to be her oracles respecting America. From such sources she is content toreceive her information respecting a country in a singular state of moraland physical development; a country in which one of the greatest politicalexperiments in the history of the world is now performing; and whichpresents the most profound and momentous studies to the statesman and thephilosopher.

That such men should give prejudicial accounts of America, is not a matterof surprise. The themes it offers for contemplation, are too vast andelevated for their capacities. The national character is yet in a state offermentation: it may have its frothiness and sediment, but its ingredientsare sound and wholesome; it has already given proofs of powerful andgenerous qualities; and the whole promises to settle down into somethingsubstantially excellent. But the causes which are operating to strengthenand ennoble it, and its daily indications of admirable properties, are alllost upon these purblind observers; who are only affected by the littleasperities incident to its present situation. They are capable of judgingonly of the surface of things; of those matters which come in contact withtheir private interests and personal gratifications. They miss some of thesnug conveniences and petty comforts which belong to an old,highly-finished, and over-populous state of society; where the ranks ofuseful labor are crowded, and many earn a painful and servile subsistence,by studying the very caprices of appetite and self-indulgence. These minorcomforts, however, are all-important in the estimation of narrow minds;which either do not perceive, or will not acknowledge, that they are morethan counterbalanced among us, by great and generally diffused blessings.

They may, perhaps, have been disappointed in some unreasonable expectationof sudden gain. They may have pictured America to themselves an El Dorado,where gold and silver abounded, and the natives were lacking in sagacity,and where they were to become strangely and suddenly rich, in someunforeseen but easy manner. The same weakness of mind that indulges absurdexpectations, produces petulance in disappointment. Such persons becomeembittered against the country on finding that there, as everywhere else,a man must sow before he can reap; must win wealth by industry and talent;and must contend with the common difficulties of nature, and theshrewdness of an intelligent and enterprising people.

Perhaps, through mistaken or ill-directed hospitality, or from the promptdisposition to cheer and countenance the stranger, prevalent among mycountrymen, they may have been treated with unwonted respect in America;and, having been accustomed all their lives to consider themselves belowthe surface of good society, and brought up in a servile feeling ofinferiority, they become arrogant, on the common boon of civility; theyattribute to the lowliness of others their own elevation; and underrate asociety where there are no artificial distinctions, and where, by anychance, such individuals as themselves can rise to consequence.

One would suppose, however, that information coming from such sources, ona subject where the truth is so desirable, would be received with cautionby the censors of the press; that the motives of these men, theirveracity, their opportunities of inquiry and observation, and theircapacities for judging correctly, would be rigorously scrutinized, beforetheir evidence was admitted, in such sweeping extent, against a kindrednation. The very reverse, however, is the case, and it furnishes astriking instance of human inconsistency. Nothing can surpass thevigilance with which English critics will examine the credibility of thetraveller who publishes an account of some distant and comparativelyunimportant country. How warily will they compare the measurements of apyramid, or the description of a ruin; and how sternly will they censureany inaccuracy in these contributions of merely curious knowledge, whilethey will receive, with eagerness and unhesitating faith, the grossmisrepresentations of coarse and obscure writers, concerning a countrywith which their own is placed in the most important and delicaterelations. Nay, they will even make these apocryphal volumes text-books,on which to enlarge, with a zeal and an ability worthy of a more generouscause.

I shall not, however, dwell on this irksome and hackneyed topic; norshould I have adverted to it, but for the undue interest apparently takenin it by my countrymen, and certain injurious effects which I apprehend itmight produce upon the national feeling. We attach too much consequence tothese attacks. They cannot do us any essential injury. The tissue ofmisrepresentations attempted to be woven round us, are like cobwebs wovenround the limbs of an infant giant. Our country continually outgrows them.One falsehood after another falls off of itself. We have but to live on,and every day we live a whole volume of refutation.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (32)


All the writers of England united, if we could for a moment suppose theirgreat minds stooping to so unworthy a combination, could not conceal ourrapidly growing importance and matchless prosperity. They could notconceal that these are owing, not merely to physical and local, but alsoto moral causes—to the political liberty, the general diffusion ofknowledge, the prevalence of sound, moral, and religious principles, whichgive force and sustained energy to the character of a people, and which infact, have been the acknowledged and wonderful supporters of their ownnational power and glory.

But why are we so exquisitely alive to the aspersions of England? Why dowe suffer ourselves to be so affected by the contumely she has endeavoredto cast upon us? It is not in the opinion of England alone that honorlives, and reputation has its being. The world at large is the arbiter ofa nation’s fame: with its thousand eyes it witnesses a nation’s deeds, andfrom their collective testimony is national glory or national disgraceestablished.

For ourselves, therefore, it is comparatively of but little importancewhether England does us justice or not; it is, perhaps, of far moreimportance to herself. She is instilling anger and resentment into thebosom of a youthful nation, to grow with its growth, and strengthen withits strength. If in America, as some of her writers are laboring toconvince her, she is hereafter to find an invidious rival, and a giganticfoe, she may thank those very writers for having provoked rivalship, andirritated hostility. Every one knows the all-pervading influence ofliterature at the present day, and how much the opinions and passions ofmankind are under its control. The mere contests of the sword aretemporary; their wounds are but in the flesh, and it is the pride of thegenerous to forgive and forget them; but the slanders of the pen pierce tothe heart; they rankle longest in the noblest spirits; they dwell everpresent in the mind, and render it morbidly sensitive to the most triflingcollision. It is but seldom that any one overt act produces hostilitiesbetween two nations; there exists, most commonly, a previous jealousy andill-will, a predisposition to take offence. Trace these to their cause,and how often will they be found to originate in the mischievous effusionsof mercenary writers, who, secure in their closets, and for ignominiousbread, concoct and circulate the venom that is to inflame the generous andthe brave.

I am not laying too much stress upon this point; for it applies mostemphatically to our particular case. Over no nation does the press hold amore absolute control than over the people of America; for the universaleducation of the poorest classes makes every individual a reader. There isnothing published in England on the subject of our country, that does notcirculate through every part of it. There is not a calumny dropt from anEnglish pen, nor an unworthy sarcasm uttered by an English statesman, thatdoes not go to blight good-will, and add to the mass of latent resentment.Possessing, then, as England does, the fountain-head whence the literatureof the language flows, how completely is it in her power, and how truly isit her duty, to make it the medium of amiable and magnanimous feeling—astream where the two nations might meet together and drink in peace andkindness. Should she, however, persist in turning it to waters ofbitterness, the time may come when she may repent her folly. The presentfriendship of America may be of but little moment to her; but the futuredestinies of that country do not admit of a doubt; over those of England,there lower some shadows of uncertainty. Should, then, a day of gloomarrive—should those reverses overtake her, from which the proudestempires have not been exempt—she may look back with regret at herinfatuation, in repulsing from her side a nation she might have grappledto her bosom, and thus destroying her only chance for real friendshipbeyond the boundaries of her own dominions.

There is a general impression in England, that the people of the UnitedStates are inimical to the parent country. It is one of the errors whichhave been diligently propagated by designing writers. There is, doubtless,considerable political hostility, and a general soreness at theilliberality of the English press; but, collectively speaking, theprepossessions of the people are strongly in favor of England. Indeed, atone time they amounted, in many parts of the Union, to an absurd degree ofbigotry. The bare name of Englishman was a passport to the confidence andhospitality of every family, and too often gave a transient currency tothe worthless and the ungrateful. Throughout the country, there wassomething of enthusiasm connected with the idea of England. We looked toit with a hallowed feeling of tenderness and veneration, as the land ofour forefathers—the august repository of the monuments andantiquities of our race—the birthplace and mausoleum of the sagesand heroes of our paternal history. After our own country, there was nonein whose glory we more delighted—none whose good opinion we weremore anxious to possess—none toward which our hearts yearned withsuch throbbings of warm consanguinity. Even during the late war, wheneverthere was the least opportunity for kind feelings to spring forth, it wasthe delight of the generous spirits of our country to show that, in themidst of hostilities, they still kept alive the sparks of futurefriendship.

Is all this to be at an end? Is this golden band of kindred sympathies, sorare between nations, to be broken forever?—Perhaps it is for thebest—it may dispel an allusion which might have kept us in mentalvassalage; which might have interfered occasionally with our trueinterests, and prevented the growth of proper national pride. But it ishard to give up the kindred tie! and there are feelings dearer thaninterest—closer to the heart than pride—that will still makeus cast back a look of regret as we wander farther and farther from thepaternal roof, and lament the waywardness of the parent that would repelthe affections of the child.

Short-sighted and injudicious, however, as the conduct or England may bein this system of aspersion, recrimination on our part would be equallyill-judged. I speak not of a prompt and spirited vindication of ourcountry, or the keenest castigation of her slanderers—but I alludeto a disposition to retaliate in kind, to retort sarcasm and inspireprejudice, which seems to be spreading widely among our writers. Let usguard particularly against such a temper; for it would double the evil,instead of redressing the wrong. Nothing is so easy and inviting as theretort of abuse and sarcasm; but it is a paltry and an unprofitablecontest. It is the alternative of a morbid mind, fretted into petulance,rather than warmed into indignation. If England is willing to permit themean jealousies of trade, or the rancorous animosities of politics, todeprave the integrity of her press, and poison the fountain of publicopinion, let us beware of her example. She may deem it her interest todiffuse error, and engender antipathy, for the purpose of checkingemigration: we have no purpose of the kind to serve. Neither have we anyspirit of national jealousy to gratify; for as yet, in all our rivalshipswith England, we are the rising and the gaining party. There can be no endto answer, therefore, but the gratification of resentment—a merespirit of retaliation—and even that is impotent. Our retorts arenever republished in England; they fall short, therefore, of their aim;but they foster a querulous and peevish temper among our writers; theysour the sweet flow of our early literature, and sow thorns and bramblesamong its blossoms. What is still worse, they circulate through our owncountry, and, as far as they have effect, excite virulent nationalprejudices. This last is the evil most especially to be deprecated.Governed, as we are, entirely by public opinion, the utmost care should betaken to preserve the purity of the public mind. Knowledge is power, andtruth is knowledge; whoever, therefore, knowingly propagates a prejudice,wilfully saps the foundation of his country’s strength.

The members of a republic, above all other men, should be candid anddispassionate. They are, individually, portions of the sovereign mind andsovereign will, and should be enabled to come to all questions of nationalconcern with calm and unbiassed judgments. From the peculiar nature of ourrelations with England, we must have more frequent questions of adifficult and delicate character with her, than with any other nation,—questionsthat affect the most acute and excitable feelings: and as, in theadjustment of these, our national measures must ultimately be determinedby popular sentiment, we cannot be too anxiously attentive to purify itfrom all latent passion or prepossession.

Opening, too, as we do, an asylum for strangers every portion of theearth, we should receive all with impartiality. It should be our pride toexhibit an example of one nation, at least, destitute of nationalantipathies, and exercising, not merely the overt acts of hospitality, butthose more rare and noble courtesies which spring from liberality ofopinion.

What have we to do with national prejudices? They are the inveteratediseases of old countries, contracted in rude and ignorant ages, whennations knew but little of each other, and looked beyond their ownboundaries with distrust and hostility. We, on the contrary, have sprunginto national existence in an enlightened and philosophic age, when thedifferent parts of the habitable world, and the various branches of thehuman family, have been indefatigably studied and made known to eachother; and we forego the advantages of our birth, if we do not shake offthe national prejudices, as we would the local superstitions, of the oldworld.

But above all let us not be influenced by any angry feelings, so far as toshut our eyes to the perception of what is really excellent and amiable inthe English character. We are a young people, necessarily an imitativeone, and must take our examples and models, in a great degree, from theexisting nations of Europe. There is no country more worthy of our studythan England. The spirit of her constitution is most analogous to ours.The manners of her people—their intellectual activity—theirfreedom of opinion—their habits of thinking on those subjects whichconcern the dearest interests and most sacred charities of private life,are all congenial to the American character; and, in fact, are allintrinsically excellent: for it is in the moral feeling of the people thatthe deep foundations of British prosperity are laid; and however thesuperstructure may be timeworn, or overrun by abuses, there must besomething solid in the basis, admirable in the materials, and stable inthe structure of an edifice that so long has towered unshaken amidst thetempests of the world.

Let it be the pride of our writers, therefore, discarding all feelings ofirritation, and disdaining to retaliate the illiberality of Britishauthors, to speak of the English nation without prejudice, and withdetermined candor. While they rebuke the indiscriminating bigotry withwhich some of our countrymen admire and imitate every thing English,merely because it is English, let them frankly point out what is reallyworthy of approbation. We may thus place England before us as a perpetualvolume of reference, wherein are recorded sound deductions from ages ofexperience; and while we avoid the errors and absurdities which may havecrept into the page, we may draw thence golden maxims of practical wisdom,wherewith to strengthen and to embellish our national character.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (33)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (34)



Oh! friendly to the best pursuits of man,Friendly to thought, to virtue and to peace,Domestic life in rural pleasures past!COWPER.

THE stranger who would form a correct opinion of the English character,must not confine his observations to the metropolis. He must go forth intothe country; he must sojourn in villages and hamlets; he must visitcastles, villas, farm-houses, cottages; he must wander through parks andgardens; along hedges and green lanes; he must loiter about countrychurches; attend wakes and fairs, and other rural festivals; and cope withthe people in all their conditions, and all their habits and humors.

In some countries, the large cities absorb the wealth and fashion of thenation; they are the only fixed abodes of elegant and intelligent society,and the country is inhabited almost entirely by boorish peasantry. InEngland, on the contrary, the metropolis is a mere gathering-place, orgeneral rendezvous, of the polite classes, where they devote a smallportion of the year to a hurry of gayety and dissipation, and, havingindulged this kind of carnival, return again to the apparently morecongenial habits of rural life. The various orders of society aretherefore diffused over the whole surface of the kingdom, and the moreretired neighborhoods afford specimens of the different ranks.

The English, in fact, are strongly gifted with the rural feeling. Theypossess a quick sensibility to the beauties of nature, and a keen relishfor the pleasures and employments of the country. This passion seemsinherent in them. Even the inhabitants of cities, born and brought upamong brick walls and bustling streets, enter with facility into ruralhabits, and evince a tact for rural occupation. The merchant has his snugretreat in the vicinity of the metropolis, where he often displays as muchpride and zeal in the cultivation of his flower-garden, and the maturingof his fruits, as he does in the conduct of his business, and the successof a commercial enterprise. Even those less fortunate individuals, who aredoomed to pass their lives in the midst of din and traffic, contrive tohave something that shall remind them of the green aspect of nature. Inthe most dark and dingy quarters of the city, the drawing-room windowresembles frequently a bank of flowers; every spot capable of vegetationhas its grass-plot and flower-bed; and every square its mimic park, laidout with picturesque taste, and gleaming with refreshing verdure.

Those who see the Englishman only in town, are apt to form an unfavorableopinion of his social character. He is either absorbed in business, ordistracted by the thousand engagements that dissipate time, thought, andfeeling, in this huge metropolis. He has, therefore, too commonly, a lookof hurry and abstraction. Wherever he happens to be, he is on the point ofgoing somewhere else; at the moment he is talking on one subject, his mindis wandering to another; and while paying a friendly visit, he iscalculating how he shall economize time so as to pay the other visitsallotted to the morning. An immense metropolis, like London, is calculatedto make men selfish and uninteresting. In their casual and transientmeetings, they can but deal briefly in commonplaces. They present but thecold superfices of character—its rich and genial qualities have notime to be warmed into a flow.

It is in the country that the Englishman gives scope to his naturalfeelings. He breaks loose gladly from the cold formalities and negativecivilities of town; throws off his habits of shy reserve, and becomesjoyous and free-hearted. He manages to collect round him all theconveniences and elegancies of polite life, and to banish its restraints.His country-seat abounds with every requisite, either for studiousretirement, tasteful gratification, or rural exercise. Books, paintings,music, horses, dogs, and sporting implements of all kinds, are at hand. Heputs no constraint, either upon his guests or himself, but, in the truespirit of hospitality, provides the means of enjoyment, and leaves everyone to partake according to his inclination.

The taste of the English in the cultivation of land, and in what is calledlandscape gardening, is unrivalled. They have studied Nature intently, anddiscovered an exquisite sense of her beautiful forms and harmoniouscombinations. Those charms which, in other countries, she lavishes in wildsolitudes, are here assembled round the haunts of domestic life. They seemto have caught her coy and furtive graces, and spread them, like witchery,about their rural abodes.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (35)


Nothing can be more imposing than the magnificence of English parkscenery. Vast lawns that extend like sheets of vivid green, with here andthere clumps of gigantic trees, heaping up rich piles of foliage. Thesolemn pomp of groves and woodland glades, with the deer trooping insilent herds across them; the hare, bounding away to the covert; or thepheasant, suddenly bursting upon the wing. The brook, taught to wind innatural meanderings, or expand into a glassy lake—the sequesteredpool, reflecting the quivering trees, with the yellow leaf sleeping on itsbosom, and the trout roaming fearlessly about its limpid waters; whilesome rustic temple, or sylvan statue, grown green and dank with age, givesan air of classic sanctity to the seclusion.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (36)


These are but a few of the features of park scenery; but what mostdelights me, is the creative talent with which the English decorate theunostentatious abodes of middle life. The rudest habitation, the mostunpromising and scanty portion of land, in the hands of an Englishman oftaste, becomes a little paradise. With a nicely discriminating eye, heseizes at once upon its capabilities, and pictures in his mind the futurelandscape. The sterile spot grows into loveliness under his hand; and yetthe operations of art which produce the effect are scarcely to beperceived. The cherishing and training of some trees; the cautious pruningof others; the nice distribution of flowers and plants of tender andgraceful foliage; the introduction of a green slope of velvet turf; thepartial opening to a peep of blue distance, or silver gleam of water;-allthese are managed with a delicate tact, a pervading yet quiet assiduity,like the magic touchings with which a painter finishes up a favoritepicture.

The residence of people of fortune and refinement in the country, hasdiffused a degree of taste and elegance in rural economy that descends tothe lowest class. The very laborer, with his thatched cottage and narrowslip of ground, attends to their embellishment. The trim hedge, thegrass-plot before the door, the little flower-bed bordered with snug box,the woodbine trained up against the wall, and hanging its blossoms aboutthe lattice; the pot of flowers in the window; the holly, providentlyplanted about the house, to cheat winter of its dreariness, and to throwin a semblance of green summer to cheer the fireside; all these bespeakthe influence of taste, flowing down from high sources, and pervading thelowest levels of the public mind. If ever Love, as poets sing, delights tovisit a cottage, it must be the cottage of an English peasant.

The fondness for rural life among the higher classes of the English hashad a great and salutary effect upon the national character. I do not knowa finer race of men than the English gentlemen. Instead of the softnessand effeminacy which characterize the men of rank in most countries, theyexhibit a union of elegance and strength, a robustness of frame andfreshness of complexion, which I am inclined to attribute to their livingso much in the open air, and pursuing so eagerly the invigoratingrecreations of the country. The hardy exercises produce also a healthfultone of mind and spirits, and a manliness and simplicity of manners, whicheven the follies and dissipations of the town cannot easily pervert, andcan never entirely destroy. In the country, too, the different orders ofsociety seem to approach more freely, to be more disposed to blend andoperate favorably upon each other. The distinctions between them do notappear to be so marked and impassable as in the cities. The manner inwhich property has been distributed into small estates and farms hasestablished a regular gradation from the noblemen, through the classes ofgentry, small landed proprietors, and substantial farmers, down to thelaboring peasantry; and while it has thus banded the extremes of societytogether, has infused into each intermediate rank a spirit ofindependence. This, it must be confessed, is not so universally the caseat present as it was formerly; the larger estates having, in late years ofdistress, absorbed the smaller, and, in some parts of the country, almostannihilated the sturdy race of small farmers. These, however, I believe,are but casual breaks in the general system I have mentioned.

In rural occupation, there is nothing mean and debasing. It leads a manforth among scenes of natural grandeur and beauty; it leaves him to theworkings of his own mind, operated upon by the purest and most elevatingof external influences. Such a man may be simple and rough, but he cannotbe vulgar. The man of refinement, therefore, finds nothing revolting in anintercourse with the lower orders in rural life, as he does when hecasually mingles with the lower orders of cities. He lays aside hisdistance and reserve, and is glad to waive the distinctions of rank, andto enter into the honest, heartfelt enjoyments of common life. Indeed, thevery amusem*nts of the country bring, men more and more together; and thesound hound and horn blend all feelings into harmony. I believe this isone great reason why the nobility and gentry are more popular among theinferior orders in England than they are in any other country; and why thelatter have endured so many excessive pressures and extremities, withoutrepining more generally at the unequal distribution of fortune andprivilege.

To this mingling of cultivated and rustic society may also be attributedthe rural feeling that runs through British literature; the frequent useof illustrations from rural life; those incomparable descriptions ofNature, that abound in the British poets—that have continued downfrom “The Flower and the Leaf,” of Chaucer, and have brought into ourclosets all the freshness and fragrance of the dewy landscape. Thepastoral writers of other countries appear as if they had paid Nature anoccasional visit, and become acquainted with her general charms; but theBritish poets have lived and revelled with her—they have wooed herin her most secret haunts—they have watched her minutest caprices. Aspray could not tremble in the breeze—a leaf could not rustle to theground—a diamond drop could not patter in the stream—afragrance could not exhale from the humble violet, nor a daisy unfold itscrimson tints to the morning, but it has been noticed by these impassionedand delicate observers, and wrought up into some beautiful morality.

The effect of this devotion of elegant minds to rural occupations has beenwonderful on the face of the country. A great part of the island is ratherlevel, and would be monotonous, were it not for the charms of culture; butit is studded and gemmed, as it were, with castles and palaces, andembroidered with parks and gardens. It does not abound in grand andsublime prospects, but rather in little home scenes of rural repose andsheltered quiet. Every antique farm-house and moss-grown cottage is apicture; and as the roads are continually winding, and the view is shut inby groves and hedges, the eye is delighted by a continual succession ofsmall landscapes of captivating loveliness.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (37)


The great charm, however, of English scenery, is the moral feeling thatseems to pervade it. It is associated in the mind with ideas of order, ofquiet, of sober well-established principles, of hoary usage and reverendcustom. Every thing seems to be the growth of ages of regular and peacefulexistence. The old church of remote architecture, with its low, massiveportal; its Gothic tower; its windows rich with tracery and painted glass,in scrupulous preservation; its stately monuments of warriors and worthiesof the olden time, ancestors of the present lords of the soil; itstombstones, recording successive generations of sturdy yeomanry, whoseprogeny still plough the same fields, and kneel at the same altar;—theparsonage, a quaint irregular pile, partly antiquated, but repaired andaltered in the tastes of various ages and occupants;—the stile andfoot-path leading from the churchyard, across pleasant fields, and alongshady hedgerows, according to an immemorial right of way;—theneighboring village, with its venerable cottages, its public greensheltered by trees, under which the forefathers of the present race havesported;—the antique family mansion, standing apart in some littlerural domain, but looking down with a protecting air on the surroundingscene; all these common features of English landscape evince a calm andsettled security, a hereditary transmission of homebred virtues and localattachments, that speak deeply and touchingly for the moral character ofthe nation.

It is a pleasing sight, of a Sunday morning, when the bell is sending itssober melody across the quiet fields, to behold the peasantry in theirbest finery, with ruddy faces, and modest cheerfulness, throngingtranquilly along the green lanes to church; but it is still more pleasingto see them in the evenings, gathering about their cottage doors, andappearing to exult in the humble comforts and embellishments which theirown hands have spread around them.

It is this sweet home-feeling, this settled repose of affection in thedomestic scene, that is, after all, the parent of the steadiest virtuesand purest enjoyments; and I cannot close these desultory remarks better,than by quoting the words of a modern English poet, who has depicted itwith remarkable felicity:

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (38)

Through each gradation, from the castled hall,The city dome, the villa crowned with shade,But chief from modest mansions numberless,In town or hamlet, shelt’ring middle life,Down to the cottaged vale, and straw-roof’d shed;This western isle has long been famed for scenesWhere bliss domestic finds a dwelling-place;Domestic bliss, that, like a harmless dove,(Honor and sweet endearment keeping guard,)Can centre in a little quiet nestAll that desire would fly for through the earth;That can, the world eluding, be itselfA world enjoyed; that wants no witnessesBut its own sharers, and approving Heaven;That, like a flower deep hid in rock cleft,Smiles, though ‘t is looking only at the sky.*
* From a poem on the death of the Princess Charlotte, by theReverend Rann Kennedy, A.M.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (39)



I never heardOf any true affection, but ‘t was niptWith care, that, like the caterpillar, eatsThe leaves of the spring’s sweetest book, the rose.MIDDLETON.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (40)

T is a common practice with those who have outlived the susceptibility ofearly feeling, or have been brought up in the gay heartlessness ofdissipated life, to laugh at all love stories, and to treat the tales ofromantic passion as mere fictions of novelists and poets. My observationson human nature have induced me to think otherwise. They have convinced methat, however the surface of the character may be chilled and frozen bythe cares of the world, or cultivated into mere smiles by the arts ofsociety, still there are dormant fires lurking in the depths of thecoldest bosom, which, when once enkindled, become impetuous, and aresometimes desolating in their effects. Indeed, I am a true believer in theblind deity, and go to the full extent of his doctrines. Shall I confessit?—I believe in broken hearts, and the possibility of dying ofdisappointed love! I do not, however, consider it a malady often fatal tomy own sex; but I firmly believe that it withers down many a lovely womaninto an early grave.

Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads him forthinto the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishmentof his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeksfor fame, for fortune for space in the world’s thought, and dominion overhis fellow-men. But a woman’s whole life is a history of the affections.The heart is her world; it is there her ambition strives for empire—itis there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth hersympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic ofaffection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless—for it is abankruptcy of the heart.

To a man, the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs; itwounds some feelings of tenderness—it blasts some prospects offelicity; but he is an active being—he may dissipate his thoughts inthe whirl of varied occupation, or may plunge into the tide of pleasure;or, if the scene of disappointment be too full of painful associations, hecan shift his abode at will, and taking, as it were, the wings of themorning, can “fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, and be at rest.”

But woman’s is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and meditative life. Sheis more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they areturned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation? Herlot is to be wooed and won; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is likesome fortress that has been captured, and sacked, and abandoned, and leftdesolate.

How many bright eyes grow dim—how many soft cheeks grow pale—howmany lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the causethat blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to itsside, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals—sois it the nature of woman, to hide from the world the pangs of woundedaffection. The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Evenwhen fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise,she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower andbrood among the ruins of her peace. With her, the desire of her heart hasfailed—the great charm of existence is at an end. She neglects allthe cheerful exercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulses, andsend the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest isbroken—the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholydreams—“dry sorrow drinks her blood,” until her enfeebled framesinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a littlewhile, and you find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, andwondering that one, who but lately glowed with all the radiance of healthand beauty, should so speedily be brought down to “darkness and the worm.” You will be told of some wintry chill, some casual indisposition, thatlaid her low;—but no one knows of the mental malady which previouslysapped her strength, and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.

She is like some tender tree, the pride and beauty of the grove; gracefulin its form, bright in its foliage, but with the worm preying at itsheart. We find it suddenly withering, when it should be most fresh andluxuriant. We see it drooping its branches to the earth, and shedding leafby leaf, until, wasted and perished away, it falls even in the stillnessof the forest; and as we muse over the beautiful ruin, we strive in vainto recollect the blast or thunderbolt that could have smitten it withdecay.

I have seen many instances of women running to waste and self-neglect, anddisappearing gradually from the earth, almost as if they had been exhaledto heaven; and have repeatedly fancied that I could trace their deathsthrough the various declensions of consumption, cold, debility, languor,melancholy, until I reached the first symptom of disappointed love. But aninstance of the kind was lately told to me; the circ*mstances are wellknown in the country where they happened, and I shall but give them in themanner in which they were related.

Every one must recollect the tragical story of young E——, theIrish patriot; it was too touching to be soon forgotten. During thetroubles in Ireland, he was tried, condemned, and executed, on a charge oftreason. His fate made a deep impression on public sympathy. He was soyoung—so intelligent—so generous—so brave—so everything that we are apt to like in a young man. His conduct under trial,too, was so lofty and intrepid. The noble indignation with which herepelled the charge of treason against his country—the eloquentvindication of his name—and his pathetic appeal to posterity, in thehopeless hour of condemnation,—all these entered deeply into everygenerous bosom, and even his enemies lamented the stern policy thatdictated his execution.

But there was one heart whose anguish it would be impossible to describe.In happier days and fairer fortunes, he had won the affections of abeautiful and interesting girl, the daughter of a late celebrated Irishbarrister. She loved him with the disinterested fervor of a woman’s firstand early love. When every worldly maxim arrayed itself against him; whenblasted in fortune, and disgrace and danger darkened around his name, sheloved him the more ardently for his very sufferings. If, then, his fatecould awaken the sympathy even of his foes, what must have been the agonyof her, whose whole soul was occupied by his image? Let those tell whohave had the portals of the tomb suddenly closed between them and thebeing they most loved on earth—who have sat at its threshold, as oneshut out in a cold and lonely world, whence all that was most lovely andloving had departed.

But then the horrors of such a grave!—so frightful, so dishonored!There was nothing for memory to dwell on that could soothe the pang ofseparation—none of those tender, though melancholy circ*mstanceswhich endear the parting scene—nothing to melt sorrow into thoseblessed tears, sent like the dews of heaven, to revive the heart in theparting hour of anguish.

To render her widowed situation more desolate, she had incurred herfather’s displeasure by her unfortunate attachment, and was an exile fromthe parental roof. But could the sympathy and kind offices of friends havereached a spirit so shocked and driven in by horror, she would haveexperienced no want of consolation, for the Irish are a people of quickand generous sensibilities. The most delicate and cherishing attentionswere paid her by families of wealth and distinction. She was led intosociety, and they tried by all kinds of occupation and amusem*nt todissipate her grief, and wean her from the tragical story of her loves.But it was all in vain. There are some strokes of calamity that scathe andscorch the soul—which penetrate to the vital seat of happiness—andblast it, never again to put forth bud or blossom. She never objected tofrequent the haunts of pleasure, but was as much alone there as in thedepths of solitude; walking about in a sad revery, apparently unconsciousof the world around her. She carried with her an inward woe that mocked atall the blandishments of friendship, and “heeded not the song of thecharmer, charm he never so wisely.”

The person who told me her story had seen her at a masquerade. There canbe no exhibition of far-gone wretchedness more striking and painful thanto meet it in such a scene. To find it wandering like a spectre, lonelyand joyless, where all around is gay—to see it dressed out in thetrappings of mirth, and looking so wan and woe-begone, as if it had triedin vain to cheat the poor heart into momentary forgetfulness of sorrow.After strolling through the splendid rooms and giddy crowd with an air ofutter abstraction, she sat herself down on the steps of an orchestra, and,looking about for some time with a vacant air, that showed herinsensibility to the garish scene, she began, with the capriciousness of asickly heart, to warble a little plaintive air. She had an exquisite,voice; but on this occasion it was so simple, so touching, it breathedforth such a soul of wretchedness—that she drew a crowd, mute andsilent, around her and melted every one into tears.

The story of one so true and tender could not but excite great interest ina country remarkable for enthusiasm. It completely won the heart of abrave officer, who paid his addresses to her, and thought that one so trueto the dead, could not but prove affectionate to the living. She declinedhis attentions, for her thoughts were irrevocably engrossed by the memoryof her former lover. He, however, persisted in his suit. He solicited nother tenderness, but her esteem. He was assisted by her conviction of hisworth, and her sense of her own destitute and dependent situation, for shewas existing on the kindness of friends. In a word, he at length succeededin gaining her hand, though with the solemn assurance, that her heart wasunalterably another’s.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (41)


He took her with him to Sicily, hoping that a change of scene might wearout the remembrance of early woes. She was an amiable and exemplary wife,and made an effort to be a happy one; but nothing could cure the silentand devouring melancholy that had entered into her very soul. She wastedaway in a slow, but hopeless decline, and at length sunk into the grave,the victim of a broken heart.

It was on her that Moore, the distinguished Irish poet, composed thefollowing lines:

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (42)

She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps,And lovers around her are sighing:But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps,For her heart in his grave is lying.She sings the wild song of her dear native plains,Every note which he loved awaking—Ah! little they think, who delight in her strains,How the heart of the minstrel is breaking!He had lived for his love—for his country he died,They were all that to life had entwined him—Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried,Nor long will his love stay behind him!Oh! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest,When they promise a glorious morrow;They’ll shine o’er her sleep, like a smile from the west,From her own loved island of sorrow!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (43)



If that severe doom of Synesius be true,—“It is a greater offence tosteal dead men’s labor, than their clothes,”—what shall become ofmost writers? BURTON’S ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (44)

HAVE often wondered at the extreme fecundity of the press, and how itcomes to pass that so many heads, on which Nature seems to have inflictedthe curse of barrenness, should teem with voluminous productions. As a mantravels on, however, in the journey of life, his objects of wonder dailydiminish, and he is continually finding out some very simple cause forsome great matter of marvel. Thus have I chanced, in my peregrinationsabout this great metropolis, to blunder upon a scene which unfolded to mesome of the mysteries of the book-making craft, and at once put an end tomy astonishment.

I was one summer’s day loitering through the great saloons of the BritishMuseum, with that listlessness with which one is apt to saunter about amuseum in warm weather; sometimes lolling over the glass cases ofminerals, sometimes studying the hieroglyphics on an Egyptian mummy, andsome times trying, with nearly equal success, to comprehend theallegorical paintings on the lofty ceilings. Whilst I was gazing about inthis idle way, my attention was attracted to a distant door, at the end ofa suite of apartments. It was closed, but every now and then it wouldopen, and some strange-favored being, generally clothed in black, wouldsteal forth, and glide through the rooms, without noticing any of thesurrounding objects. There was an air of mystery about this that piqued mylanguid curiosity, and I determined to attempt the passage of that strait,and to explore the unknown regions beyond. The door yielded to my hand,with all that facility with which the portals of enchanted castles yieldto the adventurous knight-errant. I found myself in a spacious chamber,surrounded with great cases of venerable books. Above the cases, and justunder the cornice, were arranged a great number of black-looking portraitsof ancient authors. About the room were placed long tables, with standsfor reading and writing, at which sat many pale, studious personages,poring intently over dusty volumes, rummaging among mouldy manuscripts,and taking copious notes of their contents. A hushed stillness reignedthrough this mysterious apartment, excepting that you might hear theracing of pens over sheets of paper, and occasionally the deep sigh of oneof these sages, as he shifted his position to turn over the page of an oldfolio; doubtless arising from that hollowness and flatulency incident tolearned research.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (45)


Now and then one of these personages would write something on a small slipof paper, and ring a bell, whereupon a familiar would appear, take thepaper in profound silence, glide out of the room, and return shortlyloaded with ponderous tomes, upon which the other would fall, tooth andnail, with famished voracity. I had no longer a doubt that I had happenedupon a body of magi, deeply engaged in the study of occult sciences. Thescene reminded me of an old Arabian tale, of a philosopher shut up in anenchanted library, in the bosom of a mountain, which opened only once ayear; where he made the spirits of the place bring him books of all kindsof dark knowledge, so that at the end of the year, when the magic portalonce more swung open on its hinges, he issued forth so versed in forbiddenlore, as to be able to soar above the heads of the multitude, and tocontrol the powers of Nature.

My curiosity being now fully aroused, I whispered to one of the familiars,as he was about to leave the room, and begged an interpretation of thestrange scene before me. A few words were sufficient for the purpose. Ifound that these mysterious personages, whom I had mistaken for magi, wereprincipally authors, and were in the very act of manufacturing books. Iwas, in fact, in the reading-room of the great British Library, an immensecollection of volumes of all ages and languages, many of which are nowforgotten, and most of which are seldom read: one of these sequesteredpools of obsolete literature to which modern authors repair, and drawbuckets full of classic lore, or “pure English, undefiled,” wherewith toswell their own scanty rills of thought.

Being now in possession of the secret, I sat down in a corner, and watchedthe process of this book manufactory. I noticed one lean, bilious-lookingwight, who sought none but the most worm-eaten volumes, printed in blackletter. He was evidently constructing some work of profound erudition,that would be purchased by every man who wished to be thought learned,placed upon a conspicuous shelf of his library, or laid open upon histable—but never read. I observed him, now and then, draw a largefragment of biscuit out of his pocket, and gnaw; whether it was hisdinner, or whether he was endeavoring to keep off that exhaustion of thestomach, produced by much pondering over dry works, I leave to harderstudents than myself to determine.

There was one dapper little gentleman in bright-colored clothes, with achirping gossiping expression of countenance, who had all the appearanceof an author on good terms with his bookseller. After considering himattentively, I recognized in him a diligent getter-up of miscellaneousworks, which bustled off well with the trade. I was curious to see how hemanufactured his wares. He made more stir and show of business than any ofthe others; dipping into various books, fluttering over the leaves ofmanuscripts, taking a morsel out of one, a morsel out of another, “lineupon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” Thecontents of his book seemed to be as heterogeneous as those of thewitches’ cauldron in Macbeth. It was here a finger and there a thumb, toeof frog and blind worm’s sting, with his own gossip poured in like“baboon’s blood,” to make the medley “slab and good.”

After all, thought I, may not this pilfering disposition be implanted inauthors for wise purposes? may it not be the way in which Providence hastaken care that the seeds of knowledge and wisdom shall be preserved fromage to age, in spite of the inevitable decay of the works in which theywere first produced? We see that Nature has wisely, though whimsicallyprovided for the conveyance of seeds from clime to clime, in the maws ofcertain birds; so that animals, which, in themselves, are little betterthan carrion, and apparently the lawless plunderers of the orchard and thecorn-field, are, in fact, Nature’s carriers to disperse and perpetuate herblessings. In like manner, the beauties and fine thoughts of ancient andobsolete authors are caught up by these flights of predatory writers, andcast forth, again to flourish and bear fruit in a remote and distant tractof time. Many of their works, also, undergo a kind of metempsychosis, andspring up under new forms. What was formerly a ponderous history, revivesin the shape of a romance—an old legend changes into a modern play—anda sober philosophical treatise furnishes the body for a whole series ofbouncing and sparkling essays. Thus it is in the clearing of our Americanwoodlands; where we burn down a forest of stately pines, a progeny ofdwarf oaks start up in their place; and we never see the prostrate trunkof a tree mouldering into soil, but it gives birth to a whole tribe offungi.

Let us not then, lament over the decay and oblivion into which ancientwriters descend; they do but submit to the great law of Nature, whichdeclares that all sublunary shapes of matter shall be limited in theirduration, but which decrees, also, that their element shall never perish.Generation after generation, both in animal and vegetable life, passesaway, but the vital principle is transmitted to posterity, and the speciescontinue to flourish. Thus, also, do authors beget authors, and havingproduced a numerous progeny, in a good old age they sleep with theirfathers, that is to say, with the authors who preceded them—and fromwhom they had stolen.

Whilst I was indulging in these rambling fancies I had leaned my headagainst a pile of reverend folios. Whether it was owing to the soporificemanations for these works; or to the profound quiet of the room; or tothe lassitude arising from much wandering; or to an unlucky habit ofnapping at improper times and places, with which I am grievouslyafflicted, so it was, that I fell into a doze. Still, however, myimagination continued busy, and indeed the same scene continued before mymind’s eye, only a little changed in some of the details. I dreamt thatthe chamber was still decorated with the portraits of ancient authors, butthat the number was increased. The long tables had disappeared, and, inplace of the sage magi, I beheld a ragged, threadbare throng, such as maybe seen plying about the great repository of cast-off clothes, MonmouthStreet. Whenever they seized upon a book, by one of those incongruitiescommon to dreams, methought it turned into a garment of foreign or antiquefashion, with which they proceeded to equip themselves. I noticed,however, that no one pretended to clothe himself from any particular suit,but took a sleeve from one, a cape from another, a skirt from a third,thus decking himself out piecemeal, while some of his original rags wouldpeep out from among his borrowed finery.

There was a portly, rosy, well-fed parson, whom I observed ogling severalmouldy polemical writers through an eyeglass. He soon contrived to slip onthe voluminous mantle of one of the old fathers, and having purloined thegray beard of another, endeavored to look exceedingly wise; but thesmirking commonplace of his countenance set at naught all the trappings ofwisdom. One sickly-looking gentleman was busied embroidering a very flimsygarment with gold thread drawn out of several old court-dresses of thereign of Queen Elizabeth. Another had trimmed himself magnificently froman illuminated manuscript, had stuck a nosegay in his bosom, culled from“The Paradise of Dainty Devices,” and having put Sir Philip Sidney’s haton one side of his head, strutted off with an exquisite air of vulgarelegance. A third, who was but of puny dimensions, had bolstered himselfout bravely with the spoils from several obscure tracts of philosophy, sothat he had a very imposing front, but he was lamentably tattered in rear,and I perceived that he had patched his small-clothes with scraps ofparchment from a Latin author.

There were some well-dressed gentlemen, it is true, who only helpedthemselves to a gem or so, which sparkled among their own ornaments,without eclipsing them. Some, too, seemed to contemplate the costumes ofthe old writers, merely to imbibe their principles of taste, and to catchtheir air and spirit; but I grieve to say, that too many were apt to arraythemselves, from top to toe, in the patchwork manner I have mentioned. Ishall not omit to speak of one genius, in drab breeches and gaiters, andan Arcadian hat, who had a violent propensity to the pastoral, but whoserural wanderings had been confined to the classic haunts of Primrose Hill,and the solitudes of the Regent’s Park. He had decked himself in wreathsand ribbons from all the old pastoral poets, and, hanging his head on oneside, went about with a fantastical, lackadaisical air, “babbling aboutgreen field.” But the personage that most struck my attention was apragmatical old gentleman in clerical robes, with a remarkably large andsquare but bald head. He entered the room wheezing and puffing, elbowedhis way through the throng with a look of sturdy self-confidence, and,having laid hands upon a thick Greek quarto, clapped it upon his head, andswept majestically away in a formidable frizzled wig.

In the height of this literary masquerade, a cry suddenly resounded fromevery side, of “Thieves! thieves!” I looked, and lo! the portraits aboutthe walls became animated! The old authors thrust out, first a head, thena shoulder, from the canvas, looked down curiously for an instant upon themotley throng, and then descended, with fury in their eyes, to claim theirrifled property. The scene of scampering and hubbub that ensued bafflesall description. The unhappy culprits endeavored in vain to escape withtheir plunder. On one side might be seen half a dozen old monks, strippinga modern professor; on another, there was sad devastation carried into theranks of modern dramatic writers. Beaumont and Fletcher, side by side,raged round the field like Castor and Pollux, and sturdy Ben Jonsonenacted more wonders than when a volunteer with the army in Flanders. Asto the dapper little compiler of farragos mentioned some time since, hehad arrayed himself in as many patches and colors as harlequin, and therewas as fierce a contention of claimants about him, as about the dead bodyof Patroclus. I was grieved to see many men, to whom I had been accustomedto look up with awe and reverence, fain to steal off with scarce a rag tocover their nakedness. Just then my eye was caught by the pragmatical oldgentleman in the Greek grizzled wig, who was scrambling away in soreaffright with half a score of authors in full cry after him. They wereclose upon his haunches; in a twinkling off went his wig; at every turnsome strip of raiment was peeled away, until in a few moments, from hisdomineering pomp, he shrunk into a little, pursy, “chopp’d bald shot,” andmade his exit with only a few tags and rags fluttering at his back.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (46)


There was something so ludicrous in the catastrophe of this learned Thebanthat I burst into an immoderate fit of laughter, which broke the wholeillusion. The tumult and the scuffle were at an end. The chamber resumedits usual appearance. The old authors shrunk back into theirpicture-frames, and hung in shadowy solemnity along the walls. In short, Ifound myself wide awake in my corner, with the whole assemblage ofhookworms gazing at me with astonishment. Nothing of the dream had beenreal but my burst of laughter, a sound never before heard in that gravesanctuary, and so abhorrent to the ears of wisdom, as to electrify thefraternity.

The librarian now stepped up to me, and demanded whether I had a card ofadmission. At first I did not comprehend him, but I soon found that thelibrary was a kind of literary “preserve,” subject to game-laws, and thatno one must presume to hunt there without special license and permission.In a word, I stood convicted of being an arrant poacher, and was glad tomake a precipitate retreat, lest I should have a whole pack of authors letloose upon me.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (47)



Though your body be confinedAnd soft love a prisoner bound,Yet the beauty of your mindNeither check nor chain hath found.Look out nobly, then, and dareEven the fetters that you wear.FLETCHER.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (48)

N a soft sunny morning in the genial month of May I made an excursion toWindsor Castle. It is a place full of storied and poetical associations.The very external aspect of the proud old pile is enough to inspire highthought. It rears its irregular walls and massive towers, like a muralcrown around the brow of a lofty ridge, waves its royal banner in theclouds, and looks down with a lordly air upon the surrounding world.

On this morning, the weather was of that voluptuous vernal kind whichcalls forth all the latent romance of a man’s temperament, filling hismind with music, and disposing him to quote poetry and dream of beauty. Inwandering through the magnificent saloons and long echoing galleries ofthe castle I passed with indifference by whole rows of portraits ofwarriors and statesmen, but lingered in the chamber where hang thelikenesses of the beauties which graced the gay court of Charles theSecond; and as I gazed upon them, depicted with amorous, half-dishevelledtresses, and the sleepy eye of love, I blessed the pencil of Sir PeterLely, which had thus enabled me to bask in the reflected rays of beauty.In traversing also the “large green courts,” with sunshine beaming on thegray walls and glancing along the velvet turf, my mind was engrossed withthe image of the tender, the gallant, but hapless Surrey, and his accountof his loiterings about them in his stripling days, when enamoured of theLady Geraldine—

“With eyes cast up unto the maiden’s tower,With easie sighs, such as men draw in love.” 

In this mood of mere poetical susceptibility, I visited the ancient keepof the castle, where James the First of Scotland, the pride and theme ofScottish poets and historians, was for many years of his youth detained aprisoner of state. It is a large gray tower, that has stood the brunt ofa*ges, and is still in good preservation. It stands on a mound whichelevates it above the other parts of the castle, and a great flight ofsteps leads to the interior. In the armory, a Gothic hall furnished withweapons of various kinds and ages, I was shown a coat of armor hangingagainst the wall, which had once belonged to James. Hence I was conductedup a staircase to a suite of apartments, of faded magnificence, hung withstoried tapestry, which formed his prison, and the scene of thatpassionate and fanciful amour, which has woven into the web of his storythe magical hues of poetry and fiction.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (49)


The whole history of this amiable but unfortunate prince is highlyromantic. At the tender age of eleven, he was sent from home by hisfather, Robert III., and destined for the French court, to be reared underthe eye of the French monarch, secure from the treachery and danger thatsurrounded the royal house of Scotland. It was his mishap, in the courseof his voyage, to fall into the hands of the English, and he was detainedprisoner by Henry IV., notwithstanding that a truce existed between thetwo countries.

The intelligence of his capture, coming in the train of many sorrows anddisasters, proved fatal to his unhappy father. “The news,” we are told,“was brought to him while at supper, and did so overwhelm him with griefthat he was almost ready to give up the ghost into the hands of theservants that attended him. But being carried to his bedchamber, heabstained from all food, and in three days died of hunger and grief atRothesay.” *

* Buchanan.

James was detained in captivity above eighteen years; but, though deprivedof personal liberty, he was treated with the respect due to his rank. Carewas taken to instruct him in all the branches of useful knowledgecultivated at that period, and to give him those mental and personalaccomplishments deemed proper for a prince. Perhaps in this respect hisimprisonment was an advantage, as it enabled him to apply himself the moreexclusively to his improvement, and quietly to imbibe that rich fund ofknowledge and to cherish those elegant tastes which have given such alustre to his memory. The picture drawn of him in early life by theScottish historians is highly captivating, and seems rather thedescription of a hero of romance than of a character in real history. Hewas well learnt, we are told, “to fight with the sword, to joust, totourney, to wrestle, to sing and dance; he was an expert mediciner, rightcrafty in playing both of lute and harp, and sundry other instruments ofmusic, and was expert in grammar, oratory, and poetry.” *

* Ballenden’s translation of Hector Boyce.

With this combination of manly and delicate accomplishments, fitting himto shine both in active and elegant life, and calculated to give him anintense relish for joyous existence, it must have been a severe trial, inan age of bustle and chivalry, to pass the spring-time of his years inmonotonous captivity. It was the good fortune of James, however, to begifted with a powerful poetic fancy, and to be visited in his prison bythe choicest inspirations of the muse. Some minds corrode, and growinactive, under the loss of personal liberty; others grow morbid andirritable; but it is the nature of the poet to become tender andimaginative in the loneliness of confinement. He banquets upon the honeyof his own thoughts, and, like the captive bird, pours forth his soul inmelody.

Have you not seen the nightingale,A pilgrim coop’d into a cage,How doth she chant her wonted tale,In that her lonely hermitage!Even there her charming melody doth proveThat all her boughs are trees, her cage a grove.++ Roger L’Estrange.

Indeed, it is the divine attribute of the imagination, that it isirrepressible, unconfinable—that when the real world is shut out, itcan create a world for itself, and, with a necromantic power, can conjureup glorious shapes and forms and brilliant visions, to make solitudepopulous, and irradiate the gloom of the dungeon. Such was the world ofpomp and pageant that lived round Tasso in his dismal cell at Ferrara,when he conceived the splendid scenes of his Jerusalem; and we mayconsider The King’s Quair,* composed by James during his captivity atWindsor, as another of those beautiful breakings forth of the soul fromthe restraint and gloom of the prison-house.

The subject of the poem is his love for the lady Jane Beaufort, daughterof the Earl of Somerset, and a princess of the blood-royal of England, ofwhom he became enamoured in the course of his captivity. What gives it apeculiar value, is, that it may be considered a transcript of the royalbard’s true feelings, and the story of his real loves and fortunes. It isnot often that sovereigns write poetry or that poets deal in fact. It isgratifying to the pride of a common man, to find a monarch thus suing, asit were, for admission into his closet, and seeking to win his favor byadministering to his pleasures. It is a proof of the honest equality ofintellectual competition, which strips off all the trappings of factitiousdignity, brings the candidate down to a level with his fellow-men, andobliges him to depend on his own native powers for distinction. It iscurious, too, to get at the history of a monarch’s heart, and to find thesimple affections of human nature throbbing under the ermine. But Jameshad learnt to be a poet before he was a king; he was schooled inadversity, and reared in the company of his own thoughts. Monarchs haveseldom time to parley with their hearts or to meditate their minds intopoetry; and had James been brought up amidst the adulation and gayety of acourt, we should never, in all probability, have had such a poem as theQuair.

* Quair, an old term for book.

I have been particularly interested by those parts of the poem whichbreathe his immediate thoughts concerning his situation, or which areconnected with the apartment in the Tower. They have thus a personal andlocal charm, and are given with such circ*mstantial truth as to make thereader present with the captive in his prison and the companion of hismeditations.

Such is the account which he gives of his weariness of spirit, and of theincident which first suggested the idea of writing the poem. It was thestill mid-watch of a clear moonlight night; the stars, he says, weretwinkling as fire in the high vault of heaven, and “Cynthia rinsing hergolden locks in Aquarius.” He lay in bed wakeful and restless, and took abook to beguile the tedious hours. The book he chose was Boetius’Consolations of Philosophy, a work popular among the writers of that day,and which had been translated by his great prototype, Chaucer. From thehigh eulogium in which he indulges, it is evident this was one of hisfavorite volumes while in prison; and indeed it is an admirable text-bookfor meditation under adversity. It is the legacy of a noble and enduringspirit, purified by sorrow and suffering, bequeathing to its successors incalamity the maxims of sweet morality, and the trains of eloquent butsimple reasoning, by which it was enabled to bear up against the variousills of life. It is a talisman, which the unfortunate may treasure up inhis bosom, or, like the good King James, lay upon his nightly pillow.

After closing the volume he turns its contents over in his mind, andgradually falls into a fit of musing on the fickleness of fortune, thevicissitudes of his own life, and the evils that had overtaken him even inhis tender youth. Suddenly he hears the bell ringing to matins, but itssound, chiming in with his melancholy fancies, seems to him like a voiceexhorting him to write his story. In the spirit of poetic errantry hedetermines to comply with this intimation; he therefore takes pen in hand,makes with it a sign of the cross to implore a benediction, and salliesforth into the fairy-land of poetry. There is something extremely fancifulin all this, and it is interesting as furnishing a striking and beautifulinstance of the simple manner in which whole trains of poetical thoughtare sometimes awakened and literary enterprises suggested to the mind.

In the course of his poem, he more than once bewails the peculiar hardnessof his fate, thus doomed to lonely and inactive life, and shut up from thefreedom and pleasure of the world in which the meanest animal indulgesunrestrained. There is a sweetness, however, in his very complaints; theyare the lamentations of an amiable and social spirit at being denied theindulgence of its kind and generous propensities; there is nothing in themharsh nor exaggerated; they flow with a natural and touching pathos, andare perhaps rendered more touching by their simple brevity. They contrastfinely with those elaborate and iterated repinings which we sometimes meetwith in poetry, the effusions of morbid minds sickening under miseries oftheir own creating, and venting their bitterness upon an unoffendingworld. James speaks of his privations with acute sensibility, but havingmentioned them passes on, as if his manly mind disdained to brood overunavoidable calamities. When such a spirit breaks forth into complaint,however brief, we are aware how great must be the suffering that extortsthe murmur. We sympathize with James, a romantic, active, and accomplishedprince, cut off in the lustihood of youth from all the enterprise, thenoble uses, and vigorous delights of life, as we do with Milton, alive toall the beauties of nature and glories of art, when he breathes forthbrief but deep-toned lamentations over his perpetual blindness.

Had not James evinced a deficiency of poetic artifice, we might almosthave suspected that these lowerings of gloomy reflection were meant aspreparative to the brightest scene of his story, and to contrast with thatrefulgence of light and loveliness, that exhilarating accompaniment ofbird and song, and foliage and flower, and all the revel of, the year,with which he ushers in the lady of his heart. It is this scene, inparticular, which throws all the magic of romance about the old castlekeep. He had risen, he says, at daybreak, according to custom, to escapefrom the dreary meditations of a sleepless pillow. “Bewailing in hischamber thus alone,” despairing of all joy and remedy, “for, tired ofthought, and woe-begone,” he had wandered to the window to indulge thecaptive’s miserable solace, of gazing wistfully upon the world from whichhe is excluded. The window looked forth upon a small garden which lay atthe foot of the tower. It was a quiet, sheltered spot, adorned with arborsand green alleys, and protected from the passing gaze by trees andhawthorn hedges.

Now was there made fast by the tower’s wall,A garden faire, and in the corners setAn arbour green with wandis long and smallRailed about, and so with leaves besetWas all the place and hawthorn hedges knet,That lyf* was none, walkyng there forbye,That might within scarce any wight espye.So thick the branches and the leves grene,Beshaded all the alleys that there were,And midst of every arbour might be seen,The sharpe, grene, swete juniper,Growing so fair with branches here and there,That as it seemed to a lyf without,The boughs did spread the arbour all about.And on the small grene twistis+ setThe lytel swete nightingales, and sungSo loud and clear, the hymnis consecrateOf lovis use, now soft, now loud among,That all the garden and the wallis rungRight of their song——
* Lyf, Person.+ Twistis, small boughs or twigs. NOTE—The language of thequotations is generally modernized.

It was the month of May, when every thing was in bloom, and he interpretsthe song of the nightingale into the language of his enamoured feeling:

Worship, all ye that lovers be, this May;For of your bliss the kalends are begun,And sing with us, Away, winter, away.Come, summer, come, the sweet season and sun.

As he gazes on the scene, and listens to the notes of the birds, hegradually relapses into one of those tender and undefinable reveries,which fill the youthful bosom in this delicious season. He wonders whatthis love may be of which he has so often read, and which thus seemsbreathed forth in the quickening breath of May, and melting all natureinto ecstasy and song. If it really be so great a felicity, and if it be aboon thus generally dispensed to the most insignificant beings, why is healone cut off from its enjoyments?

Oft would I think, O Lord, what may this be,That love is of such noble myght and kynde?Loving his folke, and such prosperitee,Is it of him, as we in books do find;May he oure hertes setten* and unbynd:Hath he upon oure hertes such maistrye?Or is all this but feynit fantasye?For giff he be of so grete excellenceThat he of every wight hath care and charge,What have I gilt+ to him, or done offense,That I am thral’d, and birdis go at large?
* Setten, incline.+ Gilt, what injury have I done, etc.

In the midst of his musing, as he casts his eye downward, he beholds “thefairest and the freshest young floure” that ever he had seen. It is thelovely Lady Jane, walking in the garden to enjoy the beauty of that “freshMay morrowe.” Breaking thus suddenly upon his sight in a moment ofloneliness and excited susceptibility, she at once captivates the fancy ofthe romantic prince, and becomes the object of his wandering wishes, thesovereign of his ideal world.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (50)


There is, in this charming scene, an evident resemblance to the early partof Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, where Palamon and Arcite fall in love withEmilia, whom they see walking in the garden of their prison. Perhaps thesimilarity of the actual fact to the incident which he had read in Chaucermay have induced James to dwell on it in his poem. His description of theLady Jane is given in the picturesque and minute manner of his master,and, being doubtless taken from the life, is a perfect portrait of abeauty of that day. He dwells with the fondness of a lover on everyarticle of her apparel, from the net of pearl, splendent with emeralds andsapphires, that confined her golden hair, even to the “goodly chaine ofsmall orfeverye” * about her neck, whereby there hung a ruby in shape of aheart, that seemed, he says, like a spark of fire burning upon her whitebosom. Her dress of white tissue was looped up to enable her to walk withmore freedom. She was accompanied by two female attendants, and about hersported a little hound decorated with bells, probably the small Italianhound of exquisite symmetry which was a parlor favorite and pet among thefashionable dames of ancient times. James closes his description by aburst of general eulogium:

In her was youth, beauty, with humble port,Bounty, richesse, and womanly feature:God better knows than my pen can report,Wisdom, largesse,+ estate,++ and cunning& sure.In every point so guided her measure,In word, in deed, in shape, in countenance,That nature might no more her child advance.
* Wrought gold.+ Largesse, bounty.++ Estate, dignity.& Cunning, discretion.

The departure of the Lady Jane from the garden puts an end to thistransient riot of the heart. With her departs the amorous illusion thathad shed a temporary charm over the scene of his captivity, and herelapses into loneliness, now rendered tenfold more intolerable by thispassing beam of unattainable beauty. Through the long and weary day herepines at his unhappy lot, and when evening approaches, and Phoebus, ashe beautifully expresses it, had “bade farewell to every leaf and flower,” he still lingers at the window, and, laying his head upon the cold stone,gives vent to a mingled flow of love and sorrow, until, gradually lulledby the mute melancholy of the twilight hour, he lapses, “half-sleeping,half swoon,” into a vision, which occupies the remainder of the poem, andin which is allegorically shadowed out the history of his passion.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (51)


When he wakes from his trance, he rises from his stony pillow, and, pacinghis apartment, full of dreary reflections, questions his spirit, whitherit has been wandering; whether, indeed, all that has passed before hisdreaming fancy has been conjured up by preceding circ*mstances, or whetherit is a vision intended to comfort and assure him in his despondency. Ifthe latter, he prays that some token may be sent to confirm the promise ofhappier days, given him in his slumbers. Suddenly, a turtledove of thepurest whiteness comes flying in at the window, and alights upon his hand,bearing in her bill a branch of red gilliflower, on the leaves of which iswritten, in letters of gold, the following sentence:

Awake! Awake! I bring, lover, I bringThe newis glad, that blissful is and sureOf thy comfort; now laugh, and play, and sing,For in the heaven decretit is thy cure.

He receives the branch with mingled hope and dread; reads it with rapture;and this he says was the first token of his succeeding happiness. Whetherthis is a mere poetic fiction, or whether the Lady Jane did actually sendhim a token of her favor in this romantic way, remains to be determinedaccording to the fate or fancy of the reader. He concludes his poem byintimating that the promise conveyed in the vision and by the flower, isfulfilled by his being restored to liberty, and made happy in thepossession of the sovereign of his heart.

Such is the poetical account given by James of his love adventures inWindsor Castle. How much of it is absolute fact, and how much theembellishment of fancy, it is fruitless to conjecture; let us not,however, reject every romantic incident as incompatible with real life,but let us sometimes take a poet at his word. I have noticed merely thoseparts of the poem immediately connected with the tower, and have passedover a large part which was in the allegorical vein, so much cultivated atthat day. The language, of course, is quaint and antiquated, so that thebeauty of many of its golden phrases will scarcely be perceived at thepresent day, but it is impossible not to be charmed with the genuinesentiment, the delightful artlessness and urbanity, which prevailthroughout it. The descriptions of Nature too, with which it isembellished, are given with a truth, a discrimination, and a freshness,worthy of the most cultivated periods of the art.

As an amatory poem, it is edifying, in these days of coarser thinking, tonotice the nature, refinement, and exquisite delicacy which pervade it;banishing every gross thought, or immodest expression, and presentingfemale loveliness, clothed in all its chivalrous attributes of almostsupernatural purity and grace.

James flourished nearly about the time of Chaucer and Gower, and wasevidently an admirer and studier of their writings. Indeed, in one of hisstanzas he acknowledges them as his masters; and in some parts of his poemwe find traces of similarity to their productions, more especially tothose of Chaucer. There are always, however, general features ofresemblance in the works of contemporary authors, which are not so muchborrowed from each other as from the times. Writers, like bees, toll theirsweets in the wide world; they incorporate with their own conceptions, theanecdotes and thoughts current in society; and thus each generation hassome features in common, characteristic of the age in which it lives.

James belongs to one of the most brilliant eras of our literary history,and establishes the claims of his country to a participation in itsprimitive honors. Whilst a small cluster of English writers are constantlycited as the fathers of our verse, the name of their great Scottishcompeer is apt to be passed over in silence; but he is evidently worthy ofbeing enrolled in that little constellation of remote but never-failingluminaries who shine in the highest firmament of literature, and who, likemorning stars, sang together at the bright dawning of British poesy.

Such of my readers as may not be familiar with Scottish history (thoughthe manner in which it has of late been woven with captivating fiction hasmade it a universal study) may be curious to learn something of thesubsequent history of James and the fortunes of his love. His passion forthe Lady Jane, as it was the solace of his captivity, so it facilitatedhis release, it being imagined by the Court that a connection with theblood-royal of England would attach him to its own interests. He wasultimately restored to his liberty and crown, having previously espousedthe Lady Jane, who accompanied him to Scotland, and made him a most tenderand devoted wife.

He found his kingdom in great confusion, the feudal chieftains havingtaken advantage of the troubles and irregularities of a long interregnum,to strengthen themselves in their possessions, and place themselves abovethe power of the laws. James sought to found the basis of his power in theaffections of his people. He attached the lower orders to him by thereformation of abuses, the temperate and equable administration ofjustice, the encouragement of the arts of peace, and the promotion ofevery thing that could diffuse comfort, competency, and innocent enjoymentthrough the humblest ranks of society. He mingled occasionally among thecommon people in disguise; visited their firesides; entered into theircares, their pursuits, and their amusem*nts; informed himself of themechanical arts, and how they could best be patronized and improved; andwas thus an all-pervading spirit, watching with a benevolent eye over themeanest of his subjects. Having in this generous manner made himselfstrong in the hearts of the common people, he turned himself to curb thepower of the factious nobility; to strip them of those dangerousimmunities which they had usurped; to punish such as had been guilty offlagrant offences; and to bring the whole into proper obedience to theCrown. For some time they bore this with outward submission, but withsecret impatience and brooding resentment. A conspiracy was at lengthformed against his life, at the head of which was his own uncle, RobertStewart, Earl of Athol, who, being too old himself for the perpetration ofthe deed of blood, instigated his grandson, Sir Robert Stewart, togetherwith Sir Robert Graham, and others of less note, to commit the deed. Theybroke into his bedchamber at the Dominican convent near Perth, where hewas residing, and barbarously murdered him by oft-repeated wounds. Hisfaithful queen, rushing to throw her tender body between him and thesword, was twice wounded in the ineffectual attempt to shield him from theassassin; and it was not until she had been forcibly torn from his person,that the murder was accomplished.

It was the recollection of this romantic tale of former times, and of thegolden little poem, which had its birthplace in this tower, that made mevisit the old pile with more than common interest. The suit of armorhanging up in the hall, richly gilt and embellished, as if to figure inthe tourney, brought the image of the gallant and romantic prince vividlybefore my imagination. I paced the deserted chambers where he had composedhis poem; I leaned upon the window, and endeavored to persuade myself itwas the very one where he had been visited by his vision; I looked outupon the spot where he had first seen the Lady Jane. It was the samegenial and joyous month; the birds were again vying with each other instrains of liquid melody; every thing was bursting into vegetation, andbudding forth the tender promise of the year. Time, which delights toobliterate the sterner memorials of human pride, seems to have passedlightly over this little scene of poetry and love, and to have withheldhis desolating hand. Several centuries have gone by, yet the garden stillflourishes at the foot of the tower. It occupies what was once the moat ofthe keep; and, though some parts have been separated by dividing walls,yet others have still their arbors and shaded walks, as in the days ofJames, and the whole is sheltered, blooming, and retired. There is a charmabout the spot that has been printed by the footsteps of departed beauty,and consecrated by the inspirations of the poet, which is heightened,rather than impaired, by the lapse of ages. It is, indeed, the gift ofpoetry, to hallow every place in which it moves; to breathe around naturean odor more exquisite than the perfume of the rose, and to shed over it atint more magical than the blush of morning.

Others may dwell on the illustrious deeds of James as a warrior and alegislator; but I have delighted to view him merely as the companion ofhis fellow-men, the benefactor of the human heart, stooping from his highestate to sow the sweet flowers of poetry and song in the paths of commonlife. He was the first to cultivate the vigorous and hardy plant ofScottish genius, which has since become so prolific of the most wholesomeand highly flavored fruit. He carried with him into the sterner regions ofthe north, all the fertilizing arts of southern refinement. He did everything in his power to win his countrymen to the gay, the elegant, andgentle arts, which soften and refine the character of a people, andwreathe a grace round the loftiness of a proud and warlike spirit. Hewrote many poems, which, unfortunately for the fulness of his fame, arenow lost to the world; one, which is still preserved, called “Christ’sKirk of the Green,” shows how diligently he had made himself acquaintedwith the rustic sports and pastimes, which constitute such a source ofkind and social feeling among the Scottish peasantry; and with what simpleand happy humor he could enter into their enjoyments. He contributedgreatly to improve the national music; and traces of his tender sentimentand elegant taste are said to exist in those witching airs, still pipedamong the wild mountains and lonely glens of Scotland. He has thusconnected his image with whatever is most gracious and endearing in thenational character; he has embalmed his memory in song, and floated hisname to after-ages in the rich streams of Scottish melody. Therecollection of these things was kindling at my heart, as I paced thesilent scene of his imprisonment. I have visited Vaucluse with as muchenthusiasm as a pilgrim would visit the shrine at Loretto; but I havenever felt more poetical devotion than when contemplating the old towerand the little garden at Windsor, and musing over the romantic loves ofthe Lady Jane, and the Royal Poet of Scotland.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (52)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (53)



A gentleman!What o’ the woolpack? or the sugar-chest?Or lists of velvet? which is ‘t, pound, or yard,You vend your gentry by?BEGGAR’S BUSH.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (54)

HERE are few places more favorable to the study of character than anEnglish country church. I was once passing a few weeks at the seat of afriend who resided in, the vicinity of one the appearance of whichparticularly struck my fancy. It was one of those rich morsels of quaintantiquity, which gives such a peculiar charm to English landscape. Itstood in the midst of a country filled with ancient families, andcontained within its cold and silent aisles the congregated dust of manynoble generations. The interior walls were encrusted with monuments ofevery age and style. The light streamed through windows dimmed witharmorial bearings, richly emblazoned in stained glass. In various parts ofthe church were tombs of knights, and highborn dames, of gorgeousworkmanship, with their effigies in colored marble. On every side, the eyewas struck with some instance of aspiring mortality, some haughty memorialwhich human pride had erected over its kindred dust in this temple of themost humble of all religions.

The congregation was composed of the neighboring people of rank, who satin pews sumptuously lined and cushioned, furnished with richly-gildedprayer-books, and decorated with their arms upon the pew doors; of thevillagers and peasantry, who filled the back seats and a small gallerybeside the organ; and of the poor of the parish, who were ranged onbenches in the aisles.

The service was performed by a snuffling, well-fed vicar, who had a snugdwelling near the church. He was a privileged guest at all the tables ofthe neighborhood, and had been the keenest fox-hunter in the country,until age and good living had disabled him from doing anything more thanride to see the hounds throw off, and make one at the hunting dinner.

Under the ministry of such a pastor, I found it impossible to get into thetrain of thought suitable to the time and place; so, having, like manyother feeble Christians, compromised with my conscience, by laying the sinof my own delinquency at another person’s threshold, I occupied myself bymaking observations on my neighbors.

I was as yet a stranger in England, and curious to notice the manners ofits fashionable classes. I found, as usual, that there was the leastpretension where there was the most acknowledged title to respect. I wasparticularly struck, for instance, with the family of a nobleman of highrank, consisting of several sons and daughters. Nothing could be moresimple and unassuming than their appearance. They generally came to churchin the plainest equipage, and often on foot. The young ladies would stopand converse in the kindest manner with the peasantry, caress thechildren, and listen to the stories of the humble cottagers. Theircountenances were open and beautifully fair, with an expression of highrefinement, but at the same time a frank cheerfulness and engagingaffability. Their brothers were tall, and elegantly formed. They weredressed fashionably, but simply—with strict neatness and propriety,but without any mannerism or foppishness. Their whole demeanor was easyand natural, with that lofty grace and noble frankness which bespeakfree-born souls that have never been checked in their growth by feelingsof inferiority. There is a healthful hardiness about real dignity, thatnever dreads contact and communion with others, however humble. It is onlyspurious pride that is morbid and sensitive, and shrinks from every touch.I was pleased to see the manner in which they would converse with thepeasantry about those rural concerns and field-sports in which thegentlemen of the country so much delight. In these conversations there wasneither haughtiness on the one part, nor servility on the other, and youwere only reminded of the difference of rank by the habitual respect ofthe peasant.

In contrast to these was the family of a wealthy citizen, who had amasseda vast fortune, and, having purchased the estate and mansion of a ruinednobleman in the neighborhood, was endeavoring to assume all the style anddignity of an hereditary lord of the soil. The family always came tochurch en prince. They were rolled majestically along in a carriageemblazoned with arms. The crest glittered in silver radiance from everypart of the harness where a crest could possibly be placed. A fatcoachman, in a three-cornered hat richly laced and a flaxen wig, curlingclose round his rosy face, was seated on the box, with a sleek Danish dogbeside him. Two footmen in gorgeous liveries, with huge bouquets, andgold-headed canes, lolled behind. The carriage rose and sunk on its longsprings with a peculiar stateliness of motion. The very horses champedtheir bits, arched their necks, and glanced their eyes more proudly thancommon horses; either because they had caught a little of the familyfeeling, or were reined up more tightly than ordinary.

I could not but admire the style with which this splendid pageant wasbrought up to the gate of the churchyard. There was a vast effect producedat the turning of an angle of the wall—a great smacking of the whip,straining and scrambling of the horses, glistening of harness, andflashing of wheels through gravel. This was the moment of triumph andvainglory to the coachman. The horses were urged and checked, until theywere fretted into a foam. They threw out their feet in a prancing trot,dashing about pebbles at every step. The crowd of villagers saunteringquietly to church opened precipitately to the right and left, gaping invacant admiration. On reaching the gate, the horses were pulled up with asuddenness that produced an immediate stop, and almost threw them on theirhaunches.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (55)


There was an extraordinary hurry of the footmen to alight, pull down thesteps, and prepare everything for the descent on earth of this augustfamily. The old citizen first emerged his round red face from out thedoor, looking about him with the pompous air of a man accustomed to ruleon ‘Change, and shake the Stock Market with a nod. His consort, a fine,fleshy, comfortable dame, followed him. There seemed, I must confess, butlittle pride in her composition. She was the picture of broad, honest,vulgar enjoyment. The world went well with her; and she liked the world.She had fine clothes, a fine house, a fine carriage, fine children—everythingwas fine about her: it was nothing but driving about and visiting andfeasting. Life was to her a perpetual revel; it was one long Lord Mayor’sDay.

Two daughters succeeded to this goodly couple. They certainly werehandsome, but had a supercilious air that chilled admiration and disposedthe spectator to be critical. They were ultrafashionable in dress, and,though no one could deny the richness of their decorations, yet theirappropriateness might be questioned amidst the simplicity of a countrychurch. They descended loftily from the carriage, and moved up the line ofpeasantry with a step that seemed dainty of the soil it trod on. They castan excursive glance around, that passed coldly over the burly faces of thepeasantry, until they met the eyes of the nobleman’s family, when theircountenances immediately brightened into smiles, and they made the mostprofound and elegant courtesies, which were returned in a manner thatshowed they were but slight acquaintances.

I must not forget the two sons of this inspiring citizen, who came tochurch in a dashing curricle with outriders. They were arrayed in theextremity of the mode, with all that pedantry of dress which marks the manof questionable pretensions to style. They kept entirely by themselves,eying every one askance that came near them, as if measuring his claims torespectability; yet they were without conversation, except the exchange ofan occasional cant phrase. They even moved artificially, for their bodies,in compliance with the caprice of the day, had been disciplined into theabsence of all ease and freedom. Art had done everything to accomplishthem as men of fashion, but Nature had denied them the nameless grace.They were vulgarly shaped, like men formed for the common purposes oflife, and had that air of supercilious assumption which is never seen inthe true gentleman.

I have been rather minute in drawing the pictures of these two families,because I considered them specimens of what is often to be met with inthis country—the unpretending great, and the arrogant little. I haveno respect for titled rank, unless it be accompanied with true nobility ofsoul; but I have remarked, in all countries where artificial distinctionsexist, that the very highest classes are always the most courteous andunassuming. Those who are well assured of their own standing are least aptto trespass on that of others; whereas, nothing is so offensive as theaspirings of vulgarity, which thinks to elevate itself by humiliating itsneighbor.

As I have brought these families into contrast, I must notice theirbehavior in church. That of the nobleman’s family was quiet, serious, andattentive. Not that they appeared to have any fervor of devotion, butrather a respect for sacred things, and sacred places, inseparable fromgood-breeding. The others, on the contrary, were in a perpetual flutterand whisper; they betrayed a continual consciousness of finery, and thesorry ambition of being the wonders of a rural congregation.

The old gentleman was the only one really attentive to the service. Hetook the whole burden of family devotion upon himself; standing boltupright, and uttering the responses with a loud voice that might be heardall over the church. It was evident that he was one of these thoroughChurch-and-king men, who connect the idea of devotion and loyalty; whoconsider the Deity, somehow or other, of the government party, andreligion “a very excellent sort of thing, that ought to be countenancedand kept up.”

When he joined so loudly in the service, it seemed more by way of exampleto the lower orders, to show them that, though so great and wealthy, hewas not above being religious; as I have seen a turtle-fed aldermanswallow publicly a basin of charity soup, smacking his lips at everymouthful and pronouncing it “excellent food for the poor.”

When the service was at an end, I was curious to witness the several exitsof my groups. The young noblemen and their sisters, as the day was fine,preferred strolling home across the fields, chatting with the countrypeople as they went. The others departed as they came, in grand parade.Again were the equipages wheeled up to the gate. There was again thesmacking of whips, the clattering of hoofs, and the glittering of harness.The horses started off almost at a bound; the villagers again hurried toright and left; the wheels threw up a cloud of dust, and the aspirinfamily was rapt out of sight in a whirlwind.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (56)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (57)



Pittie olde age, within whose silver hairesHonour and reverence evermore have rain’d.MARLOWE’S TAMBURLAINE.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (58)

THOSE who are in the habit of remarking such matters must have noticed thepassive quiet of an English landscape on Sunday. The clacking of the mill,the regularly recurring stroke of the flail, the din of the blacksmith’shammer, the whistling of the ploughman, the rattling of the cart, and allother sounds of rural labor are suspended. The very farm-dogs bark lessfrequently, being less disturbed by passing travellers. At such times Ihave almost fancied the wind sunk into quiet, and that the sunnylandscape, with its fresh green tints melting into blue haze, enjoyed thehallowed calm.

Sweet day, so pure, so calm, so brigh’The bridal of the earth and sky.

Well was it ordained that the day of devotion should be a day of rest. Theholy repose which reigns over the face of nature has its moral influence;every restless passion is charmed down, and we feel the natural religionof the soul gently springing up within us. For my part, there are feelingsthat visit me, in a country church, amid the beautiful serenity of nature,which I experience nowhere else; and if not a more religious, I think I ama better man on Sunday than on any other day of the seven.

During my recent residence in the country, I used frequently to attend atthe old village church. Its shadowy aisles, its mouldering monuments, itsdark oaken panelling, all reverend with the gloom of departed years,seemed to fit it for the haunt of solemn meditation; but, being in awealthy, aristocratic neighborhood, the glitter of fashion penetrated eveninto the sanctuary; and I felt myself continually thrown back upon theworld, by the frigidity and pomp of the poor worms around me. The onlybeing in the whole congregation who appeared thoroughly to feel the humbleand prostrate piety of a true Christian was a poor decrepit old woman,bending under the weight of years and infirmities. She bore the traces ofsomething better than abject poverty. The lingerings of decent pride werevisible in her appearance. Her dress, though humble in the extreme, wasscrupulously clean. Some trivial respect, too, had been awarded her, forshe did not take her seat among the village poor, but sat alone on thesteps of the altar. She seemed to have survived all love, all friendship,all society, and to have nothing left her but the hopes of heaven. When Isaw her feebly rising and bending her aged form in prayer; habituallyconning her prayer-book, which her palsied hand and failing eyes could notpermit her to read, but which she evidently knew by heart, I feltpersuaded that the faltering voice of that poor woman arose to heaven farbefore the responses of the clerk, the swell of the organ, or the chantingof the choir.

I am fond of loitering about country churches, and this was sodelightfully situated, that it frequently attracted me. It stood on aknoll, round which a small stream made a beautiful bend and then wound itsway through a long reach of soft meadow scenery. The church was surroundedby yew trees, which seemed almost coeval with itself. Its tall Gothicspire shot up lightly from among them, with rooks and crows generallywheeling about it. I was seated there one still sunny morning watching twolaborers who were digging a grave. They had chosen one of the most remoteand neglected corners of the churchyard, where, from the number ofnameless graves around, it would appear that the indigent and friendlesswere huddled into the earth. I was told that the new-made grave was forthe only son of a poor widow. While I was meditating on the distinctionsof worldly rank, which extend thus down into the very dust, the toll ofthe bell announced the approach of the funeral. They were the obsequies ofpoverty, with which pride had nothing to do. A coffin of the plainestmaterials, without pall or other covering, was borne by some of thevillagers. The sexton walked before with an air of cold indifference.There were no mock mourners in the trappings of affected woe, but therewas one real mourner who feebly tottered after the corpse. It was the agedmother of the deceased, the poor old woman whom I had seen seated on thesteps of the altar. She was supported by a humble friend, who wasendeavoring to comfort her. A few of the neighboring poor had joined thetrain, and some children of the village were running hand in hand, nowshouting with unthinking mirth, and now pausing to gaze, with childishcuriosity on the grief of the mourner.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (59)


As the funeral train approached the grave, the parson issued from thechurch-porch, arrayed in the surplice, with prayer-book in hand, andattended by the clerk. The service, however, was a mere act of charity.The deceased had been destitute, and the survivor was penniless. It wasshuffled through, therefore, in form, but coldly and unfeeling. Thewell-fed priest moved but a few steps from the church door; his voicecould scarcely be heard at the grave; and never did I hear the funeralservice, that sublime and touching ceremony, turned into such a frigidmummery of words.

I approached the grave. The coffin was placed on the ground. On it wereinscribed the name and age of the deceased—“George Somers, aged 26years.” The poor mother had been assisted to kneel down at the head of it.Her withered hands were clasped, as if in prayer; but I could perceive, bya feeble rocking of the body, and a convulsive motion of the lips, thatshe was gazing on the last relics of her son with the yearnings of amother’s heart.

Preparations were made to deposit the coffin in the earth. There was thatbustling stir, which breaks so harshly on the feelings of grief andaffection; directions given in the cold tones of business; the striking ofspades into sand and gravel; which, at the grave of those we love, is, ofall sounds, the most withering. The bustle around seemed to waken themother from a wretched revery. She raised her glazed eyes, and lookedabout with a faint wildness. As the men approached with cords to lower thecoffin into the grave, she wrung her hands, and broke into an agony ofgrief. The poor woman who attended her took her by the arm endeavoring toraise her from the earth, and to whisper something like consolation: “Nay,now—nay, now—don’t take it so sorely to heart.” She could onlyshake her head, and wring her hands, as one not to be comforted.

As they lowered the body into the earth, the creaking of the cords seemedto agonize her; but when, on some accidental obstruction, there was ajostling of the coffin, all the tenderness of the mother burst forth, asif any harm could come to him who was far beyond the reach of worldlysuffering.

I could see no more—my heart swelled into my throat—my eyesfilled with tears; I felt as if I were acting a barbarous part in standingby and gazing idly on this scene of maternal anguish. I wandered toanother part of the churchyard, where I remained until the funeral trainhad dispersed.

When I saw the mother slowly and painfully quitting the grave, leavingbehind her the remains of all that was dear to her on earth, and returningto silence and destitution, my heart ached for her. What, thought I, arethe distresses of the rich? They have friends to soothe—pleasures tobeguile—a world to divert and dissipate their griefs. What are thesorrows of the young? Their growing minds soon close above the wound—theirelastic spirits soon rise beneath the pressure—their green andductile affections soon twine round new objects. But the sorrows of thepoor, who have no outward appliances to soothe—the sorrows of theaged, with whom life at best is but a wintry day, and who can look for noafter-growth of joy—the sorrows of a widow, aged, solitary,destitute, mourning over an only son, the last solace of her years,—theseare indeed sorrows which make us feel the impotency of consolation.

It was some time before I left the churchyard. On my way homeward, I metwith the woman who had acted as comforter: she was just returning fromaccompanying the mother to her lonely habitation, and I drew from her someparticulars connected with the affecting scene I had witnessed.

The parents of the deceased had resided in the village from childhood.They had inhabited one of the neatest cottages, and by various ruraloccupations, and the assistance of a small garden, had supportedthemselves creditably and comfortably, and led a happy and a blamelesslife. They had one son, who had grown up to be the staff and pride oftheir age. “Oh, sir!” said the good woman, “he was such a comely lad, sosweet-tempered, so kind to every one around him, so dutiful to hisparents! It did one’s heart good to see him of a Sunday, drest out in hisbest, so tall, so straight, so cheery, supporting his old mother tochurch; for she was always fonder of leaning on George’s arm than on hergood man’s; and, poor soul, she might well be proud of him, for a finerlad there was not in the country round.”

Unfortunately, the son was tempted, during a year of scarcity andagricultural hardship, to enter into the service of one of the small craftthat plied on a neighboring river. He had not been long in this employ,when he was entrapped by a press-gang, and carried off to sea. His parentsreceived tidings of his seizure, but beyond that they could learn nothing.It was the loss of their main prop. The father, who was already infirm,grew heartless and melancholy and sunk into his grave. The widow, leftlonely in her age and feebleness, could no longer support herself, andcame upon the parish. Still there was a kind feeling towards herthroughout the village, and a certain respect as being one of the oldestinhabitants. As no one applied for the cottage in which she had passed somany happy days, she was permitted to remain in it, where she livedsolitary and almost helpless. The few wants of nature were chieflysupplied from the scanty productions of her little garden, which theneighbors would now and then cultivate for her. It was but a few daysbefore the time at which these circ*mstances were told me, that she wasgathering some vegetables for her repast, when she heard the cottage-doorwhich faced the garden, suddenly opened. A stranger came out, and seemedto be looking eagerly and wildly around. He was dressed in seamen’sclothes, was emaciated and ghastly pale, and bore the air of one broken bysickness and hardships. He saw her and hastened towards her, but his stepswere faint and faltering; he sank on his knees before her and sobbed likea child. The poor woman gazed upon him with a vacant and wandering eye.“Oh, my dear, dear mother! don’t you know your son? your poor boy,George?” It was, indeed, the wreck of her once noble lad; who shattered bywounds, by sickness and foreign imprisonment, had, at length, dragged hiswasted limbs homeward, to repose among the scenes of his childhood.

I will not attempt to detail the particulars of such a meeting, wheresorrow and joy were so completely blended: still, he was alive! he wascome home! he might yet live to comfort and cherish her old age! Nature,however, was exhausted in him; and if any thing had been wanting to finishthe work of fate, the desolation of his native cottage would have beensufficient. He stretched himself on the pallet on which his widowed motherhad passed many a sleepless night, and he never rose from it again.

The villagers, when they heard that George Somers had returned, crowded tosee him, offering every comfort and assistance that their humble meansafforded. He was too weak, however, to talk—he could only look histhanks. His mother was his constant attendant; and he seemed unwilling tobe helped by any other hand.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (60)


There is something in sickness that breaks down the pride of manhood, thatsoftens the heart, and brings it back to the feelings of infancy. Who thathas languished, even in advanced life, in sickness and despondency, whothat has pined on a weary bed in the neglect and loneliness of a foreignland, but has thought on the mother “that looked on his childhood,” thatsmoothed his pillow, and administered to his helplessness? Oh, there is anenduring tenderness in the love of a mother to a son, that transcends allother affections of the heart. It is neither to be chilled by selfishness,nor daunted by danger, nor weakened by worthlessness, nor stifled byingratitude. She will sacrifice every comfort to his convenience; she willsurrender every pleasure to his enjoyment; she will glory in his fame andexult in his prosperity; and, if misfortune overtake him, he will be thedearer to her from misfortune; and if disgrace settle upon his name, shewill still love and cherish him in spite of his disgrace; and if all theworld beside cast him off, she will be all the world to him.

Poor George Somers had known what it was to be in sickness, and none tosoothe—lonely and in prison, and none to visit him. He could notendure his mother from his sight; if she moved away, his eye would followher. She would sit for hours by his bed watching him as he slept.Sometimes he would start from a feverish dream, and look anxiously upuntil he saw her bending over him; when he would take her hand, lay it onhis bosom, and fall asleep with the tranquillity of a child. In this wayhe died.

My first impulse on hearing this humble tale of affliction was to visitthe cottage of the mourner, and administer pecuniary assistance, and, ifpossible, comfort. I found, however, on inquiry, that the good feelings ofthe villagers had prompted them to do everything that the case admitted;and as the poor know best how to console each other’s sorrows, I did notventure to intrude.

The next Sunday I was at the village church, when, to my surprise, I sawthe poor old woman tottering down the aisle to her accustomed seat on thesteps of the altar.

She had made an effort to put on something like mourning for her son; andnothing could be more touching than this struggle between pious affectionand utter poverty—a black ribbon or so, a faded black handkerchief,and one or two more such humble attempts to express by outward signs thatgrief which passes show. When I looked round upon the storied monuments,the stately hatchments, the cold marble pomp with which grandeur mournedmagnificently over departed pride, and turned to this poor widow, boweddown by age and sorrow at the altar of her God, and offering up theprayers and praises of a pious though a broken heart, I felt that thisliving monument of real grief was worth them all.

I related her story to some of the wealthy members of the congregation,and they were moved by it. They exerted themselves to render her situationmore comfortable, and to lighten her afflictions. It was, however, butsmoothing a few steps to the grave. In the course of a Sunday or twoafter, she was missed from her usual seat at church, and before I left theneighborhood I heard, with a feeling of satisfaction, that she had quietlybreathed her last, and had gone to rejoin those she loved, in that worldwhere sorrow is never known and friends are never parted.


* Part of a sketch omitted in the preceding editions.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (61)

IN a preceding paper I have spoken of an English Sunday in the country andits tranquillizing effect upon the landscape; but where is its sacredinfluence more strikingly apparent than in the very heart of that greatBabel, London? On this sacred day the gigantic monster is charmed intorepose. The intolerable din and struggle of the week are at an end. Theshops are shut. The fires of forges and manufactories are extinguished,and the sun, no longer obscured by murky clouds of smoke, pours down asober yellow radiance into the quiet streets. The few pedestrians we meet,instead of hurrying forward with anxious countenances, move leisurelyalong; their brows are smoothed from the wrinkles of business and care;they have put on their Sunday looks and Sunday manners with their Sundayclothes, and are cleansed in mind as well as in person.

And now the melodious clangor of bells from church towers summons theirseveral flocks to the fold. Forth issues from his mansion the family ofthe decent tradesman, the small children in the advance; then the citizenand his comely spouse, followed by the grown-up daughters, with smallmorocco-bound prayer-books laid in the folds of theirpocket-handkerchiefs. The housemaid looks after them from the window,admiring the finery of the family, and receiving, perhaps, a nod and smilefrom her young mistresses, at whose toilet she has assisted.

Now rumbles along the carriage of some magnate of the city, peradventurean alderman or a sheriff, and now the patter of many feet announces itprocession of charity scholars in uniforms of antique cut, and each with aprayer-book under his arm.

The ringing of bells is at an end; the rumbling of the carriage hasceased; the pattering of feet is heard no more; the flocks are folded inancient churches, cramped up in by-lanes and corners of the crowded city,where the vigilant beadle keeps watch, like the shepherd’s dog, round thethreshold of the sanctuary. For a time everything is hushed, but soon isheard the deep, pervading sound of the organ, rolling and vibratingthrough the empty lanes and courts, and the sweet chanting of the choirmaking them resound with melody and praise. Never have I been moresensible of the sanctifying effect of church music than when I have heardit thus poured forth, like a river of joy, through the inmost recesses ofthis great metropolis, elevating it, as it were, from all the sordidpollutions of the week, and bearing the poor world-worn soul on a tide oftriumphant harmony to heaven.

The morning service is at an end. The streets are again alive with thecongregations returning to their homes, but soon again relapse intosilence. Now comes on the Sunday dinner, which, to the city tradesman, isa meal of some importance. There is more leisure for social enjoyment atthe board. Members of the family can now gather together, who areseparated by the laborious occupations of the week. A school-boy may bepermitted on that day to come to the paternal home; an old friend of thefamily takes his accustomed Sunday seat at the board, tells over hiswell-known stories, and rejoices young and old with his well-known jokes.

On Sunday afternoon the city pours forth its lesions to breathe the freshair and enjoy the sunshine of the parks and rural environs. Satirists maysay what they please about the rural enjoyments of a London citizen onSunday, but to me there is something delightful in beholding the poorprisoner of the crowded and dusty city enabled thus to come forth once aweek and throw himself upon the green bosom of nature. He is like a childrestored to the mother’s breast; and they who first spread out these nobleparks and magnificent pleasure-grounds which surround this huge metropolishave done at least as much for its health and morality as if they hadexpended the amount of cost in hospitals, prisons, and penitentiaries.



The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (62)

“A tavern is the rendezvous, the exchange, the staple of good fellows. Ihave heard my great-grandfather tell, how his great-great-grandfathershould say, that it was an old proverb when his great-grandfather was achild, that ‘it was a good wind that blew a man to the wine.’”


IT is a pious custom in some Catholic countries to honor the memory ofsaints by votive lights burnt before their pictures. The popularity of asaint, therefore, may be known by the number of these offerings. One,perhaps, is left to moulder in the darkness of his little chapel; anothermay have a solitary lamp to throw its blinking rays athwart his effigy;while the whole blaze of adoration is lavished at the shrine of somebeatified father of renown. The wealthy devotee brings his huge luminaryof wax, the eager zealot, his seven-branched candlestick; and even themendicant pilgrim is by no means satisfied that sufficient light is thrownupon the deceased unless he hangs up his little lamp of smoking oil. Theconsequence is, that in the eagerness to enlighten, they are often apt toobscure; and I have occasionally seen an unlucky saint almost smoked outof countenance by the officiousness of his followers.

In like manner has it fared with the immortal Shakespeare. Every writerconsiders it his bounden duty to light up some portion of his character orworks, and to rescue some merit from oblivion. The commentator, opulent inwords, produces vast tomes of dissertations; the common herd of editorssend up mists of obscurity from their notes at the bottom of each page;and every casual scribbler brings his farthing rushlight of eulogy orresearch to swell the cloud of incense and of smoke.

As I honor all established usages of my brethren of the quill, I thoughtit but proper to contribute my mite of homage to the memory of theillustrious bard. I was for some time, however, sorely puzzled in what wayI should discharge this duty. I found myself anticipated in every attemptat a new reading; every doubtful line had been explained a dozen differentways, and perplexed beyond the reach of elucidation; and as to finepassages, they had all been amply praised by previous admirers; nay, socompletely had the bard, of late, been overlarded with panegyric by agreat German critic that it was difficult now to find even a fault thathad not been argued into a beauty.

In this perplexity I was one morning turning over his pages when Icasually opened upon the comic scenes of Henry IV., and was, in a moment,completely lost in the madcap revelry of the Boar’s Head Tavern. Sovividly and naturally are these scenes of humor depicted, and with suchforce and consistency are the characters sustained, that they becomemingled up in the mind with the facts and personages of real life. To fewreaders does it occur that these are all ideal creations of a poet’sbrain, and that, in sober truth, no such knot of merry roisterers everenlivened the dull neighborhood of Eastcheap.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (63)


For my part, I love to give myself up to the illusions of poetry. A heroof fiction that never existed is just as valuable to me as a hero ofhistory that existed a thousand years since and, if I may be excused suchan insensibility to the common ties of human nature, I would not give upfat Jack for half the great men of ancient chronicle. What have the heroesof yore done for me or men like me? They have conquered countries of whichI do not enjoy an acre, or they have gained laurels of which I do notinherit a leaf, or they have furnished examples of hair-brained prowess,which I have neither the opportunity nor the inclination to follow. But,old Jack Falstaff! kind Jack Falstaff! sweet Jack Falstaff! has enlargedthe boundaries of human enjoyment; he has added vast regions of wit andgood-humor, in which the poorest man may revel, and has bequeathed anever-failing inheritance of jolly laughter, to make mankind merrier andbetter to the latest posterity.

A thought suddenly struck me. “I will make a pilgrimage to Eastcheap,” said I, closing the book, “and see if the old Boar’s Head Tavern stillexists. Who knows but I may light upon some legendary traces of DameQuickly and her guests? At any rate, there will be a kindred pleasure intreading the halls once vocal with their mirth to that the toper enjoys insmelling to the empty cask, once filled with generous wine.”

The resolution was no sooner formed than put in execution. I forbear totreat of the various adventures and wonders I encountered in my travels;of the haunted regions of co*ck Lane; of the faded glories of LittleBritain and the parts adjacent; what perils I ran in Cateaton Street andOld Jewry; of the renowned Guildhall and its two stunted giants, the prideand wonder of the city and the terror of all unlucky urchins; and how Ivisited London Stone, and struck my staff upon it in imitation of thatarch-rebel Jack Cade.

Let it suffice to say, that I at length arrived in merry Eastcheap, thatancient region of wit and wassail, where the very names of the streetsrelished of good cheer, as Pudding Lane bears testimony even at thepresent day. For Eastcheap, says old Stow, “was always famous for itsconvivial doings. The cookes cried hot ribbes of beef roasted, pies wellbaked, and other victuals: there was clattering of pewter pots, harpe,pipe, and sawtrie.” Alas! how sadly is the scene changed since the roaringdays of Falstaff and old Stow! The madcap roisterer has given place to theplodding tradesman; the clattering of pots and the sound of “harpe andsawtrie,” to the din of carts and the accurst dinging of the dustman’sbell; and no song is heard, save, haply, the strain of some syren fromBillingsgate, chanting the eulogy of deceased mackerel.

I sought, in vain, for the ancient abode of Dame Quickly. The only relictof it is a boar’s head, carved in relief in stone, which formerly servedas the sign, but at present is built into the parting line of two houseswhich stand on the site of the renowned old tavern.

For the history of this little abode of good fellowship I was referred toa tallow-chandler’s widow opposite, who had been born and brought up onthe spot, and was looked up to as the indisputable chronicler of theneighborhood. I found her seated in a little back parlor, the window ofwhich looked out upon a yard about eight feet square laid out as aflower-garden, while a glass door opposite afforded a distant view of thestreet, through a vista of soap and tallow candles—the two views,which comprised, in all probability, her prospects in life and the littleworld in which she had lived and moved and had her being for the betterpart of a century.

To be versed in the history of Eastcheap, great and little, from LondonStone even unto the Monument, was doubtless, in her opinion, to beacquainted with the history of the universe. Yet, with all this, shepossessed the simplicity of true wisdom, and that liberal communicativedisposition which I have generally remarked in intelligent old ladiesknowing in the concerns of their neighborhood.

Her information, however, did not extend far back into antiquity. Shecould throw no light upon the history of the Boar’s Head from the timethat Dame Quickly espoused the valiant Pistol until the great fire ofLondon when it was unfortunately burnt down. It was soon rebuilt, andcontinued to flourish under the old name and sign, until a dying landlord,struck with remorse for double scores, bad measures, and other iniquitieswhich are incident to the sinful race of publicans, endeavored to make hispeace with Heaven by bequeathing the tavern to St. Michael’s Church,Crooked Lane, toward the supporting of a chaplain. For some time thevestry meetings were regularly held there, but it was observed that theold Boar never held up his head under church government. He graduallydeclined, and finally gave his last gasp about thirty years since. Thetavern was then turned into shops; but she informed me that a picture ofit was still preserved in St. Michael’s Church, which stood just in therear. To get a sight of this picture was now my determination; so, havinginformed myself of the abode of the sexton, I took my leave of thevenerable chronicler of Eastcheap, my visit having doubtless raisedgreatly her opinion of her legendary lore and furnished an importantincident in the history of her life.

It cost me some difficulty and much curious inquiry to ferret out thehumble hanger-on to the church. I had to explore Crooked Lane and diverslittle alleys and elbows and dark passages with which this old city isperforated like an ancient cheese, or a worm-eaten chest of drawers. Atlength I traced him to a corner of a small court surrounded by loftyhouses, where the inhabitants enjoy about as much of the face of heaven asa community of frogs at the bottom of a well.

The sexton was a meek, acquiescing little man, of a bowing, lowly habit,yet he had a pleasant twinkling in his eye, and if encouraged, would nowand then hazard a small pleasantry, such as a man of his low estate mightventure to make in the company of high churchwardens and other mighty menof the earth. I found him in company with the deputy organist, seatedapart, like Milton’s angels, discoursing, no doubt, on high doctrinalpoints, and settling the affairs of the church over a friendly pot of ale;for the lower classes of English seldom deliberate on any weighty matterwithout the assistance of a cool tankard to clear their understandings. Iarrived at the moment when they had finished their ale and their argument,and were about to repair to the church to put it in order; so, having madeknown my wishes, I received their gracious permission to accompany them.

The church of St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, standing a short distance fromBillingsgate, is enriched with the tombs of many fishmongers of renown;and as every profession has its galaxy of glory and its constellation ofgreat men, I presume the monument of a mighty fishmonger of the olden timeis regarded with as much reverence by succeeding generations of the craft,as poets feel on contemplating the tomb of Virgil or soldiers the monumentof a Marlborough or Turenne.

I cannot but turn aside, while thus speaking of illustrious men, toobserve that St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane, contains also the ashes of thatdoughty champion, William Walworth, Knight, who so manfully clove down thesturdy wight, Wat Tyler, in Smithfield—a hero worthy of honorableblazon, as almost the only Lord Mayor on record famous for deeds of arms,the sovereigns of co*ckney being generally renowned as the most pacific ofall potentates.*

* The following was the ancient inscription on the monumentof this worthy, which, unhappily, was destroyed in the greatconflagration.Hereunder lyth a man of Fame,William Walworth callyd by name:Fishmonger he was in lyfftime here,And twise Lord Maior, as in books appere;Who, with courage stout and manly myght,Slew Jack Straw in Kyng Richard’s sight.For which act done, and trew entent,The Kyng made him knyght incontinentAnd gave him armes, as here you see,To declare his fact and chivaldrie.He left this lyff the yere of our GodThirteen hundred fourscore and three odd.

An error in the foregoing inscription has been corrected by the venerableStow. “Whereas,” saith he, “it hath been far spread abroad by vulgaropinion, that the rebel smitten down so manfully by Sir William Walworth,the then worthy Lord Maior, was named Jack Straw, and not Wat Tyler, Ithought good to reconcile this rash-conceived doubt by such testimony as Ifind in ancient and good records. The principal leaders, or captains, ofthe commons, were Wat Tyler, as the first man; the second was John, orJack, Straw, etc., etc.”—STOW’S London.

Adjoining the church, in a small cemetery, immediately under the backwindow of what was once the Boar’s Head, stands the tombstone of RobertPreston, whilom drawer at the tavern. It is now nearly a century sincethis trusty drawer of good liquor closed his bustling career and was thusquietly deposited within call of his customers. As I was clearing away theweeds from his epitaph the little sexton drew me on one side with amysterious air, and informed me in a low voice that once upon a time, on adark wintry night, when the wind was unruly, howling, and whistling,banging about doors and windows, and twirling weatherco*cks, so that theliving were frightened out of their beds, and even the dead could notsleep quietly in their graves, the ghost of honest Preston, which happenedto be airing itself in the churchyard, was attracted by the well-knowncall of “Waiter!” from the Boar’s Head, and made its sudden appearance inthe midst of a roaring club, just as the parish clerk was singing a stavefrom the “mirre garland of Captain Death;” to the discomfiture of sundrytrain-band captains and the conversion of an infidel attorney, who becamea zealous Christian on the spot, and was never known to twist the truthafterwards, except in the way of business.

I beg it may be remembered, that I do not pledge myself for theauthenticity of this anecdote, though it is well known that thechurchyards and by-corners of this old metropolis are very much infestedwith perturbed spirits; and every one must have heard of the co*ck Laneghost, and the apparition that guards the regalia in the Tower which hasfrightened so many bold sentinels almost out of their wits.

Be all this as it may, this Robert Preston seems to have been a worthysuccessor to the nimbletongued Francis, who attended upon the revels ofPrince Hal; to have been equally prompt with his “Anon, anon, sir;” and tohave transcended his predecessor in honesty; for Falstaff, the veracity ofwhose taste no man will venture to impeach, flatly accuses Francis ofputting lime in his sack, whereas honest Preston’s epitaph lands him forthe sobriety of his conduct, the soundness of his wine, and the fairnessof his measure.* The worthy dignitaries of the church, however, did notappear much captivated by the sober virtues of the tapster; the deputyorganist, who had a moist look out of the eye, made some shrewd remark onthe abstemiousness of a man brought up among full hogsheads, and thelittle sexton corroborated his opinion by a significant wink and a dubiousshake of the head.

* As this inscription is rife with excellent morality, Itranscribe it for the admonition of delinquent tapsters. Itis no doubt, the production of some choice spirit who oncefrequented the Boar’s Head.Bacchus, to give the toping world surprise,Produced one sober son, and here he lies.Though rear’d among full hogsheads, he defy’dThe charms of wine, and every one beside.O reader, if to justice thou ‘rt inclined,Keep honest Preston daily in thy mind.He drew good wine, took care to fill his pots,Had sundry virtues that excused his faults.You that on Bacchus have the like dependence,Pray copy Bob in measure and attendance.

Thus far my researches, though they threw much light on the history oftapsters, fishmongers, and Lord Mayors, yet disappointed me in the greatobject of my quest, the picture of the Boar’s Head Tavern. No suchpainting was to be found in the church of St. Michael’s. “Marry and amen,” said I, “here endeth my research!” So I was giving the matter up, with theair of a baffled antiquary, when my friend the sexton, perceiving me to becurious in everything relative to the old tavern, offered to show me thechoice vessels of the vestry, which had been handed down from remote timeswhen the parish meetings were held at the Boar’s Head. These weredeposited in the parish club-room, which had been transferred, on thedecline of the ancient establishment, to a tavern in the neighborhood.

A few steps brought us to the house, which stands No. 12 Miles Lane,bearing the title of The Mason’s Arms, and is kept by Master EdwardHoneyball, the “bully-rock” of the establishment. It is one of thoselittle taverns which abound in the heart of the city and form the centreof gossip and intelligence of the neighborhood. We entered the barroom,which was narrow and darkling, for in these close lanes but few rays ofreflected light are enabled to struggle down to the inhabitants, whosebroad day is at best but a tolerable twilight. The room was partitionedinto boxes, each containing a table spread with a clean white cloth, readyfor dinner. This showed that the guests were of the good old stamp, anddivided their day equally, for it was but just one o’clock. At the lowerend of the room was a clear coal fire, before which a breast of lamb wasroasting. A row of bright brass candlesticks and pewter mugs glistenedalong the mantelpiece, and an old fashioned clock ticked in one corner.There was something primitive in this medley of kitchen, parlor, and hallthat carried me back to earlier times, and pleased me. The place, indeed,was humble, but everything had that look of order and neatness whichbespeaks the superintendence of a notable English housewife. A group ofamphibious-looking beings, who might be either fishermen or sailors, wereregaling themselves in one of the boxes. As I was a visitor of ratherhigher pretensions, I was ushered into a little misshapen back room,having at least nine corners. It was lighted by a sky-light, furnishedwith antiquated leathern chairs, and ornamented with the portrait of a fatpig. It was evidently appropriated to particular customers, and I found ashabby gentleman in a red nose and oil-cloth hat seated in one cornermeditating on a half empty pot of porter.

The old sexton had taken the landlady aside, and with an air of profoundimportance imparted to her my errand. Dame Honeyball was a likely, plump,bustling little woman, and no bad substitute for that paragon ofhostesses, Dame Quickly. She seemed delighted with an opportunity tooblige, and, hurrying upstairs to the archives of her house, where theprecious vessels of the parish club were deposited, she returned, smilingand courtesying, with them in her hands.

The first she presented me was a japanned iron tobacco-box of giganticsize, out of which, I was told, the vestry had smoked at their statedmeetings since time immemorial, and which was never suffered to beprofaned by vulgar hands, or used on common occasions, I received it withbecoming reverence, but what was my delight at beholding on its cover theidentical painting of which I was in quest! There was displayed theoutside of the Boar’s Head Tavern, and before the door was to be seen thewhole convivial group at table, in full revel, pictured with thatwonderful fidelity and force with which the portraits of renowned generalsand commodores are illustrated on tobacco-boxes, for the benefit ofposterity. Lest, however, there should be any mistake, the cunning limnerhad warily inscribed the names of Prince Hal and Falstaff on the bottomsof their chairs.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (64)


On the inside of the cover was an inscription, nearly obliterated,recording that this box was the gift of Sir Richard Gore, for the use ofthe vestry meetings at the Boar’s Head Tavern, and that it was “repairedand beautified by his successor, Mr. John Packard, 1767.” Such is afaithful description of this august and venerable relic, and I questionwhether the learned Scriblerius contemplated his Roman shield, or theKnights of the Round Table the long-sought San-greal, with moreexultation.

While I was meditating on it with enraptured gaze, Dame Honeyball, who washighly gratified by the interest it excited, put in my hands adrinking-cup or goblet which also belonged to the vestry, and wasdescended from the old Boar’s Head. It bore the inscription of having beenthe gift of Francis Wythers, Knight, and was held, she told me, inexceeding great value, being considered very “antyke.” This last opinionwas strengthened by the shabby gentleman with the red nose and oilclothhat, and whom I strongly suspected of being a lineal descendant from thevariant Bardolph. He suddenly aroused from his meditation on the pot ofporter, and casting a knowing look at the goblet, exclaimed, “Ay, ay! thehead don’t ache now that made that there article.”

The great importance attached to this memento of ancient revelry by modernchurchwardens, at first puzzled me; but there is nothing sharpens theapprehension so much as antiquarian research; for I immediately perceivedthat this could be no other than the identical “parcel-gilt goblet,” onwhich Falstaff made his loving but faithless vow to Dame Quickly, andwhich would, of course, be treasured up with care among the regalia of herdomains, as a testimony of that solemn contract.*

* “Thou didst swear to me upon a parcel-gilt goblet, sittingin my Dolphin chamber, at the round table, by a sea-coalfire, on Wednesday, in Whitsun-week, when the prince brokethy head for likening his father to a singing man atWindsor; thou didst swear to me then, as I was washing thywound, to marry me, and make me my lady, thy wife. Canstthou deny it?”—Henry IV., Part 2.

Mine hostess, indeed, gave me a long history how the goblet had beenhanded down from generation to generation. She also entertained me withmany particulars concerning the worthy vestrymen who have seatedthemselves thus quietly on the stools of the ancient roisterers ofEastcheap, and, like so many commentators, utter clouds of smoke in honorof Shakespeare. These I forbear to relate, lest my readers should not beas curious in these matters as myself. Suffice it to say, the neighbors,one and all, about Eastcheap, believe that Falstaff and his merry crewactually lived and revelled there. Nay, there are several legendaryanecdotes concerning him still extant among the oldest frequenters of theMason’s Arms, which they give as transmitted down from their forefathers;and Mr. M’Kash, an Irish hair-dresser, whose shop stands on the site ofthe old Boar’s Head, has several dry jokes of Fat Jack’s, not laid down inthe books, with which he makes his customers ready to die of laughter.

I now turned to my friend the sexton to make some further inquiries, but Ifound him sunk in pensive meditation. His head had declined a little onone side; a deep sigh heaved from the very bottom of his stomach, and,though I could not see a tear trembling in his eye, yet a moisture wasevidently stealing from a corner of his mouth. I followed the direction ofhis eye through the door which stood open, and found it fixed wistfully onthe savory breast of lamb, roasting in dripping richness before the fire.

I now called to mind that in the eagerness of my recondite investigation,I was keeping the poor man from his dinner. My bowels yearned withsympathy, and putting in his hand a small token of my gratitude andgoodness, I departed with a hearty benediction on him, Dame Honeyball, andthe parish club of Crooked Lane—not forgetting my shabby, butsententious friend, in the oil-cloth hat and copper nose.

Thus have I given a “tedious brief” account of this interesting research,for which, if it prove too short and unsatisfactory, I can only plead myinexperience in this branch of literature, so deservedly popular at thepresent day. I am aware that a more skilful illustrator of the immortalbard would have swelled the materials I have touched upon to a goodmerchantable bulk, comprising the biographies of William Walworth, JackStraw, and Robert Preston; some notice of the eminent fishmongers of St.Michael’s; the history of Eastcheap, great and little; private anecdotesof Dame Honeyball and her pretty daughter, whom I have not even mentioned;to say nothing of a damsel tending the breast of lamb (and whom, by theway, I remarked to be a comely lass with a neat foot and ankle);—thewhole enlivened by the riots of Wat Tyler, and illuminated by the greatfire of London.

All this I leave, as a rich mine, to be worked by future commentators, nordo I despair of seeing the tobacco-box, and the “parcel-gilt goblet” whichI have thus brought to light the subject of future engravings, and almostas fruitful of voluminous dissertations and disputes as the shield ofAchilles or the far-famed Portland Vase.



I know that all beneath the moon decays,And what by mortals in this world is brought,In time’s great periods shall return to nought.I know that all the muses’ heavenly rays,With toil of sprite which are so dearly bought,As idle sounds, of few or none are sought—That there is nothing lighter than mere praise.DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (65)

THERE are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally stealaway from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulgeour reveries and build our air castles undisturbed. In such a mood I wasloitering about the old gray cloisters of Westminster Abbey, enjoying thatluxury of wandering thought which one is apt to dignify with the name ofreflection, when suddenly an irruption of madcap boys from Westminsterschool, playing at football, broke in upon the monastic stillness of theplace, making the vaulted passages and mouldering tombs echo with theirmerriment. I sought to take refuge from their noise by penetrating stilldeeper into the solitudes of the pile, and applied to one of the vergersfor admission to the library. He conducted me through a portal rich withthe crumbling sculpture of former ages, which opened upon a gloomy passageleading to the chapter-house and the chamber in which Doomsday Book isdeposited. Just within the passage is a small door on the left. To thisthe verger applied a key; it was double locked, and opened with somedifficulty, as if seldom used. We now ascended a dark narrow staircase,and, passing through a second door, entered the library.

I found myself in a lofty antique hall, the roof supported by massivejoists of old English oak. It was soberly lighted by a row of Gothicwindows at a considerable height from the floor, and which apparentlyopened upon the roofs of the cloisters. An ancient picture of somereverend dignitary of the Church in his robes hung over the fireplace.Around the hall and in a small gallery were the books, arranged in carvedoaken cases. They consisted principally of old polemical writers, and weremuch more worn by time than use. In the centre of the library was asolitary table with two or three books on it, an inkstand without ink, anda few pens parched by long disuse. The place seemed fitted for quiet studyand profound meditation. It was buried deep among the massive walls of theabbey and shut up from the tumult of the world. I could only hear now andthen the shouts of the school-boys faintly swelling from the cloisters,and the sound of a bell tolling for prayers echoing soberly along theroofs of the abbey. By degrees the shouts of merriment grew fainter andfainter, and at length died away; the bell ceased to toll, and a profoundsilence reigned through the dusky hall.

I had taken down a little thick quarto, curiously bound in parchment, withbrass clasps, and seated myself at the table in a venerable elbow-chair.Instead of reading, however, I was beguiled by the solemn monastic air andlifeless quiet of the place, into a train of musing. As I looked aroundupon the old volumes in their mouldering covers, thus ranged on theshelves and apparently never disturbed in their repose, I could not butconsider the library a kind of literary catacomb, where authors, likemummies, are piously entombed and left to blacken and moulder in dustyoblivion.

How much, thought I, has each of these volumes, now thrust aside with suchindifference, cost some aching head! how many weary days! how manysleepless nights! How have their authors buried themselves in the solitudeof cells and cloisters, shut themselves up from the face of man, and thestill more blessed face of Nature; and devoted themselves to painfulresearch and intense reflection! And all for what? To occupy an inch ofdusty shelf—to have the titles of their works read now and then in afuture age by some drowsy churchman or casual straggler like myself, andin another age to be lost even to remembrance. Such is the amount of thisboasted immortality. A mere temporary rumor, a local sound; like the toneof that bell which has tolled among these towers, filling the ear for amoment, lingering transiently in echo, and then passing away, like a thingthat was not!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (66)


While I sat half-murmuring, half-meditating, these unprofitablespeculations with my head resting on my hand, I was thrumming with theother hand upon the quarto, until I accidentally loosened the clasps;when, to my utter astonishment, the little book gave two or three yawns,like one awaking from a deep sleep, then a husky hem, and at length beganto talk. At first its voice was very hoarse and broken, being muchtroubled by a cobweb which some studious spider had woven across it, andhaving probably contracted a cold from long exposure to the chills anddamps of the abbey. In a short time, however, it became more distinct, andI soon found it an exceedingly fluent, conversable little tome. Itslanguage, to be sure, was rather quaint and obsolete, and itspronunciation what, in the present day, would be deemed barbarous; but Ishall endeavor, as far as I am able, to render it in modern parlance.

It began with railings about the neglect of the world, about merit beingsuffered to languish in obscurity, and other such commonplace topics ofliterary repining, and complained bitterly that it had not been opened formore than two centuries—that the dean only looked now and then intothe library, sometimes took down a volume or two, trifled with them for afew moments, and then returned them to their shelves. “What a plague dothey mean?” said the little quarto, which I began to perceive was somewhatcholeric—“what a plague do they mean by keeping several thousandvolumes of us shut up here, and watched by a set of old vergers, like somany beauties in a harem, merely to be looked at now and then by the dean?Books were written to give pleasure and to be enjoyed; and I would have arule passed that the dean should pay each of us a visit at least once ayear; or, if he is not equal to the task, let them once in a while turnloose the whole school of Westminster among us, that at any rate we maynow and then have an airing.”

“Softly, my worthy friend,” replied I; “you are not aware how much betteryou are off than most books of your generation. By being stored away inthis ancient library you are like the treasured remains of those saintsand monarchs which lie enshrined in the adjoining chapels, while theremains of their contemporary mortals, left to the ordinary course ofNature, have long since returned to dust.”

“Sir,” said the little tome, ruffling his leaves and looking big, “I waswritten for all the world, not for the bookworms of an abbey. I wasintended to circulate from hand to hand, like other great contemporaryworks; but here have I been clasped up for more than two centuries, andmight have silently fallen a prey to these worms that are playing the veryvengeance with my intestines if you had not by chance given me anopportunity of uttering a few last words before I go to pieces.”

“My good friend,” rejoined I, “had you been left to the circulation ofwhich you speak, you would long ere this have been no more. To judge fromyour physiognomy, you are now well stricken in years: very few of yourcontemporaries can be at present in existence, and those few owe theirlongevity to being immured like yourself in old libraries; which, sufferme to add, instead of likening to harems, you might more properly andgratefully have compared to those infirmaries attached to religiousestablishments for the benefit of the old and decrepit, and where, byquiet fostering and no employment, they often endure to an amazinglygood-for-nothing old age. You talk of your contemporaries as if incirculation. Where do we meet with their works? What do we hear of RobertGrosteste of Lincoln? No one could have toiled harder than he forimmortality. He is said to have written nearly two hundred volumes. Hebuilt, as it were, a pyramid of books to perpetuate his name: but, alas!the pyramid has long since fallen, and only a few fragments are scatteredin various libraries, where they are scarcely disturbed even by theantiquarian. What do we hear of Giraldus Cambrensis, the historian,antiquary, philosopher, theologian, and poet? He declined two bishopricsthat he might shut himself up and write for posterity; but posterity neverinquires after his labors. What of Henry of Huntingdon, who, besides alearned history of England, wrote a treatise on the contempt of the world,which the world has revenged by forgetting him? What is quoted of Josephof Exeter, styled the miracle of his age in classical composition? Of histhree great heroic poems, one is lost forever, excepting a mere fragment;the others are known only to a few of the curious in literature; and as tohis love verses and epigrams, they have entirely disappeared. What is incurrent use of John Wallis the Franciscan, who acquired the name of thetree of life? Of William of Malmsbury—of Simeon of Durham—ofBenedict of Peterborough—of John Hanvill of St. Albans—of——”

“Prithee, friend,” cried the quarto in a testy tone, “how old do you thinkme? You are talking of authors that lived long before my time, and wroteeither in Latin or French, so that they in a manner expatriatedthemselves, and deserved to be forgotten;* but I, sir, was ushered intothe world from the press of the renowned Wynkyn de Worde. I was written inmy own native tongue, at a time when the language had become fixed; andindeed I was considered a model of pure and elegant English.”

(I should observe that these remarks were couched in such intolerablyantiquated terms, that I have had infinite difficulty in rendering theminto modern phraseology.)

“I cry you mercy,” said I, “for mistaking your age; but it matters little.Almost all the writers of your time have likewise passed intoforgetfulness, and De Worde’s publications are mere literary raritiesamong book-collectors. The purity and stability of language, too, on whichyou found your claims to perpetuity, have been the fallacious dependenceof authors of every age, even back to the times of the worthy Robert ofGloucester, who wrote his history in rhymes of mongrel Saxon.+ Even nowmany talk of Spenser’s ‘well of pure English undefiled,’ as if thelanguage ever sprang from a well or fountain-head, and was not rather amere confluence of various tongues perpetually subject to changes andintermixtures. It is this which has made English literature so extremelymutable, and the reputation built upon it so fleeting. Unless thought canbe committed to something more permanent and unchangeable than such amedium, even thought must share the fate of everything else, and fall intodecay. This should serve as a check upon the vanity and exultation of themost popular writer. He finds the language in which he has embarked hisfame gradually altering and subject to the dilapidations of time and thecaprice of fashion. He looks back and beholds the early authors of hiscountry, once the favorites of their day, supplanted by modern writers. Afew short ages have covered them with obscurity, and their merits can onlybe relished by the quaint taste of the bookworm. And such, he anticipates,will be the fate of his own work, which, however it may be admired in itsday and held up as a model of purity, will in the course of years growantiquated and obsolete, until it shall become almost as unintelligible inits native land as an Egyptian obelisk or one of those Runic inscriptionssaid to exist in the deserts of Tartary.” “I declare,” added I, with someemotion, “when I contemplate a modern library, filled with new works inall the bravery of rich gilding and binding, I feel disposed to sit downand weep, like the good Xerxes, when he surveyed his army, pranked out inall the splendor of military array, and reflected that in one hundredyears not one of them would be in existence.”

* “In Latin and French hath many soueraine wittes had greatdelyte to endite, and have many noble thinges fulfilde, butcertes there ben some that speaken their poisye in French,of which speche the Frenchmen have as good a fantasye as wave in hearying of Frenchmen’s Englishe.”—CHAUCER’STestament of Love.+ Holinshed in his Chronicle, observes, “Afterwards, also,by diligent vell f Geffry Chaucer and John Gowre, in thetime of Richard the Second, and after them of John Scoganand John Lydgate, monke of Berrie, our said toong wasbrought to an excellent passe, notwithstanding that it nevercame unto the type of perfection until the time of QueenElizabeth, wherein John Jewell, Bishop of Sarum, John Fox,and sundrie learned and excellent writers, have fullyaccomplished the ornature of the same to their great praiseand mortal commendation.” 

“Ah,” said the little quarto, with a heavy sigh, “I see how it is: thesein modern scribblers have superseded all the good old authors. I supposenothing is read nowadays but Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, Sackville’sstately plays and Mirror for Magistrates, or the fine-spun euphuisms ofthe ‘unparalleled John Lyly.’”

“There you are again mistaken,” said I; “the writers whom you suppose invogue, because they happened to be so when you were last in circulation,have long since had their day. Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, theimmortality of which was so fondly predicted by his admirers,* and which,in truth, was full of noble thoughts, delicate images, and graceful turnsof language, is now scarcely ever mentioned. Sackville has strutted intoobscurity; and even Lyly, though his writings were once the delight of acourt, and apparently perpetuated by a proverb, is now scarcely known evenby name. A whole crowd of authors who wrote and wrangled at the time, havelikewise gone down with all their writings and their controversies. Waveafter wave of succeeding literature has rolled over them, until they areburied so deep, that it is only now and then that some industrious diverafter fragments of antiquity brings up a specimen for the gratification ofthe curious.

* “Live ever sweete booke; the simple image of his gentlewitt, and the golden pillar of his noble courage; and evernotify unto the world that thy writer was the secretary ofeloquence, the breath of the muses, the honey bee of thedaintyest flowers of witt and arte, the pith of morale andintellectual virtues, the arme of Bellona in the field, thetongue of Suada in the chamber, the spirits of Practise inesse, and the paragon of excellence in print.”—HarveyPierce’s Supererogation.

“For my part,” I continued, “I consider this mutability of language a wiseprecaution of Providence for the benefit of the world at large, and ofauthors in particular. To reason from analogy, we daily behold the variedand beautiful tribes of vegetables springing up, flourishing, adorning thefields for a short time, and then fading into dust, to make way for theirsuccessors. Were not this the case, the fecundity of nature would be agrievance instead of a blessing. The earth would groan with rank andexcessive vegetation, and its surface become a tangled wilderness. In likemanner, the works of genius and learning decline and make way forsubsequent productions. Language gradually varies, and with it fade awaythe writings of authors who have flourished their allotted time; otherwisethe creative powers of genius would overstock the world, and the mindwould be completely bewildered in the endless mazes of literature.Formerly there were some restraints on this excessive multiplication.Works had to be transcribed by hand, which was a slow and laboriousoperation; they were written either on parchment, which was expensive, sothat one work was often erased to make way for another; or on papyrus,which was fragile and extremely perishable. Authorship was a limited andunprofitable craft, pursued chiefly by monks in the leisure and solitudeof their cloisters. The accumulation of manuscripts was slow and costly,and confined almost entirely to monasteries. To these circ*mstances itmay, in some measure, be owing that we have not been inundated by theintellect of antiquity—that the fountains of thought have not beenbroken up, and modern genius drowned in the deluge. But the inventions ofpaper and the press have put an end to all these restraints. They havemade every one a writer, and enabled every mind to pour itself into print,and diffuse itself over the whole intellectual world. The consequences arealarming. The stream of literature has swollen into a torrent—augmentedinto a river-expanded into a sea. A few centuries since five or sixhundred manuscripts constituted a great library; but what would you say tolibraries, such as actually exist, containing three or four hundredthousand volumes; legions of authors at the same time busy; and the pressgoing on with fearfully increasing activity, to double and quadruple thenumber? Unless some unforeseen mortality should break out among theprogeny of the Muse, now that she has become so prolific, I tremble forposterity. I fear the mere fluctuation of language will not be sufficient.Criticism may do much; it increases with the increase of literature, andresembles one of those salutary checks on population spoken of byeconomists. All possible encouragement, therefore, should be given to thegrowth of critics, good or bad. But I fear all will be in vain; letcriticism do what it may, writers will write, printers will print, and theworld will inevitably be overstocked with good books. It will soon be theemployment of a lifetime merely to learn their names. Many a man ofpassable information at the present day reads scarcely anything butreviews, and before long a man of erudition will be little better than amere walking catalogue.”

“My very good sir,” said the little quarto, yawning most drearily in myface, “excuse my interrupting you, but I perceive you are rather given toprose. I would ask the fate of an author who was making some noise just asI left the world. His reputation, however, was considered quite temporary.The learned shook their heads at him, for he was a poor, half-educatedvarlet, that knew little of Latin, and nothing of Greek, and had beenobliged to run the country for deer-stealing. I think his name wasShakespeare. I presume he soon sunk into oblivion.”

“On the contrary,” said I, “it is owing to that very man that theliterature of his period has experienced a duration beyond the ordinaryterm of English literature. There rise authors now and then who seem proofa*gainst the mutability of language because they have rooted themselves inthe unchanging principles of human nature. They are like gigantic treesthat we sometimes see on the banks of a stream, which by their vast anddeep roots, penetrating through the mere surface and laying hold on thevery foundations of the earth, preserve the soil around them from beingswept away by the ever-flowing current, and hold up many a neighboringplant, and perhaps worthless weed, to perpetuity. Such is the case withShakespeare, whom we behold defying the encroachments of time, retainingin modern use the language and literature of his day, and giving durationto many an indifferent author, merely from having flourished in hisvicinity. But even he, I grieve to say, is gradually assuming the tint ofa*ge, and his whole form is overrun by a profusion of commentators, who,like clambering vines and creepers, almost bury the noble plant thatupholds them.”

Here the little quarto began to heave his sides and chuckle, until atlength he broke out into a plethoric fit of laughter that had wellnighchoked him by reason of his excessive corpulency. “Mighty well!” cried he,as soon as he could recover breath, “mighty well! and so you wouldpersuade me that the literature of an age is to be perpetuated by avagabond deer-stealer! by a man without learning! by a poet! forsooth—apoet!” And here he wheezed forth another fit of laughter.

I confess that I felt somewhat nettled at this rudeness, which, however, Ipardoned on account of his having flourished in a less polished age. Idetermined, nevertheless, not to give up my point.

“Yes,” resumed I positively, “a poet; for of all writers he has the bestchance for immortality. Others may write from the head, but he writes fromthe heart, and the heart will always understand him. He is the faithfulportrayer of Nature, whose features are always the same and alwaysinteresting. Prose writers are voluminous and unwieldy; their pagescrowded with commonplaces, and their thoughts expanded into tediousness.But with the true poet every thing is terse, touching, or brilliant. Hegives the choicest thoughts in the choicest language. He illustrates themby everything that he sees most striking in nature and art. He enrichesthem by pictures of human life, such as it is passing before him. Hiswritings, therefore, contain the spirit, the aroma, if I may use thephrase, of the age in which he lives. They are caskets which inclosewithin a small compass the wealth of the language—its family jewels,which are thus transmitted in a portable form to posterity. The settingmay occasionally be antiquated, and require now and then to be renewed, asin the case of Chaucer; but the brilliancy and intrinsic value of the gemscontinue unaltered. Cast a look back over the long reach of literaryhistory. What vast valleys of dulness, filled with monkish legends andacademical controversies! What bogs of theological speculations! Whatdreary wastes of metaphysics! Here and there only do we behold theheaven-illumined bards, elevated like beacons on their widely-separatedheights, to transmit the pure light of poetical intelligence from age toage.” *

I was just about to launch forth into eulogiums upon the poets of the daywhen the sudden opening of the door caused me to turn my head. It was theverger, who came to inform me that it was time to close the library. Isought to have a parting word with the quarto, but the worthy little tomewas silent; the clasps were closed: and it looked perfectly unconscious ofall that had passed. I have been to the library two or three times since,and have endeavored to draw it into further conversation, but in vain; andwhether all this rambling colloquy actually took place, or whether it wasanother of those old day-dreams to which I am subject, I have never, tothis moment, been able to discover.

* Thorow earth and waters deepe,The pen by skill doth passe:And featly nyps the worldes abuse,And shoes us in a glasse,The vertu and the viceOf every wight alyve;The honey comb that bee doth makeIs not so sweet in hyve,As are the golden levesThat drops from poet’s head!Which doth surmount our common talkeAs farre as dross doth lead.Churchyard.


Here’s a few flowers! but about midnight more:The herbs that have oil them cold dew o’ the nightAre strewings fitt’st for graves——You were as flowers now withered; even soThese herblets shall, which we upon you strow.CYMBELINE.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (67)

AMONG the beautiful and simple-hearted customs of rural life which stilllinger in some parts of England are those of strewing flowers before thefunerals and planting them at the graves of departed friends. These, it issaid, are the remains of some of the rites of the primitive Church; butthey are of still higher antiquity, having been observed among the Greeksand Romans, and frequently mentioned by their writers, and were no doubtthe spontaneous tributes of unlettered affection, originating long beforeart had tasked itself to modulate sorrow into song or story it on themonument. They are now only to be met with in the most distant and retiredplaces of the kingdom, where fashion and innovation have not been able tothrong in and trample out all the curious and interesting traces of theolden time.

In Glamorganshire, we are told, the bed whereon the corpse lies is coveredwith flowers, a custom alluded to in one of the wild and plaintive dittiesof Ophelia:

White his shroud as the mountain snow,Larded all with sweet flowers;Which be-wept to the grave did go,With true love showers.

There is also a most delicate and beautiful rite observed in some of theremote villages of the south at the funeral of a female who has died youngand unmarried. A chaplet of white flowers is borne before the corpse by ayoung girl nearest in age, size, and resemblance, and is afterwards hungup in the church over the accustomed seat of the deceased. These chapletsare sometimes made of white paper, in imitation of flowers, and inside ofthem is generally a pair of white gloves. They are intended as emblems ofthe purity of the deceased, and the crown of glory which she has receivedin heaven.

In some parts of the country, also, the dead are carried to the grave withthe singing of psalms and hymns—a kind of triumph, “to show,” saysBourne, “that they have finished their course with joy, and are becomeconquerors.” This, I am informed, is observed in some of the northerncounties, particularly in Northumberland, and it has a pleasing, thoughmelancholy effect to hear of a still evening in some lonely country scenethe mournful melody of a funeral dirge swelling from a distance, and tosee the train slowly moving along the landscape.

Thus, thus, and thus, we compass roundThy harmless and unhaunted ground,And as we sing thy dirge, we will,The daffodillAnd other flowers lay uponThe altar of our love, thy stone.HERRICK.

There is also a solemn respect paid by the traveller to the passingfuneral in these sequestered places; for such spectacles, occurring amongthe quiet abodes of Nature, sink deep into the soul. As the mourning trainapproaches he pauses, uncovered, to let it go by; he then follows silentlyin the rear; sometimes quite to the grave, at other times for a fewhundred yards, and, having paid this tribute of respect to the deceased,turns and resumes his journey.

The rich vein of melancholy which runs through the English character, andgives it some of its most touching and ennobling graces, is finelyevidenced in these pathetic customs, and in the solicitude shown by thecommon people for an honored and a peaceful grave. The humblest peasant,whatever may be his lowly lot while living, is anxious that some littlerespect may be paid to his remains. Sir Thomas Overbury, describing the“faire and happy milkmaid,” observes, “thus lives she, and all her careis, that she may die in the spring-time, to have store of flowers stuckeupon her winding-sheet.” The poets, too, who always breathe the feeling ofa nation, continually advert to this fond solicitude about the grave. InThe Maid’s Tragedy, by Beaumont and Fletcher, there is a beautifulinstance of the kind describing the capricious melancholy of abroken-hearted girl:

When she sees a bankStuck full of flowers, she, with a sigh, will tellHer servants, what a pretty place it wereTo bury lovers in; and made her maidsBluck ‘em, and strew her over like a corse.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (68)


The custom of decorating graves was once universally prevalent: osierswere carefully bent over them to keep the turf uninjured, and about themwere planted evergreens and flowers. “We adorn their graves,” says Evelyn,in his Sylva, “with flowers and redolent plants, just emblems of the lifeof man, which has been compared in Holy Scriptures to those fadingbeauties whose roots, being buried in dishonor, rise, again in glory.” This usage has now become extremely rare in England; but it may still bemet with in the churchyards of retired villages, among the Welshmountains; and I recollect an instance of it at the small town of Ruthven,which lies at the head of the beautiful vale of Clewyd. I have been toldalso by a friend, who was present at the funeral of a young girl inGlamorganshire, that the female attendants had their aprons full offlowers, which, as soon as the body was interred, they stuck about thegrave.

He noticed several graves which had been decorated in the same manner. Asthe flowers had been merely stuck in the ground, and not planted, they hadsoon withered, and might be seen in various states of decay; somedrooping, others quite perished. They were afterwards to be supplanted byholly, rosemary, and other evergreens, which on some graves had grown togreat luxuriance, and overshadowed the tombstones.

There was formerly a melancholy fancifulness in the arrangement of theserustic offerings, that had something in it truly poetical. The rose wassometimes blended with the lily, to form a general emblem of frailmortality. “This sweet flower,” said Evelyn, “borne on a branch set withthorns and accompanied with the lily, are natural hieroglyphics of ourfugitive, umbratile, anxious, and transitory life, which, making so fair ashow for a time, is not yet without its thorns and crosses.” The natureand color of the flowers, and of the ribbons with which they were tied,had often a particular reference to the qualities or story of thedeceased, or were expressive of the feelings of the mourner. In an oldpoem, entitled “Corydon’s Doleful Knell,” a lover specifies thedecorations he intends to use:

A garland shall be framedBy art and nature’s skill,Of sundry-colored flowers,In token of good-will.And sundry-colored ribbonsOn it I will bestow;But chiefly blacke and yelloweWith her to grave shall go.I’ll deck her tomb with flowersThe rarest ever seen;And with my tears as showersI’ll keep them fresh and green.

The white rose, we are told, was planted at the grave of a virgin; herchaplet was tied with white ribbons, in token of her spotless innocence,though sometimes black ribbons were intermingled, to bespeak the grief ofthe survivors. The red rose was occasionally used, in remembrance of suchas had been remarkable for benevolence; but roses in general wereappropriated to the graves of lovers. Evelyn tells us that the custom wasnot altogether extinct in his time, near his dwelling in the county ofSurrey, “where the maidens yearly planted and decked the graves of theirdefunct sweethearts with rose-bushes.” And Camden likewise remarks, in hisBritannia: “Here is also a certain custom, observed time out of mind, ofplanting rose-trees upon the graves, especially by the young men and maidswho have lost their loves; so that this churchyard is now full of them.”

When the deceased had been unhappy in their loves, emblems of a moregloomy character were used, such as the yew and cypress, and if flowerswere strewn, they were of the most melancholy colors. Thus, in poems byThomas Stanley, Esq. (published in 1651), is the following stanza:

Yet strewUpon my dismall graveSuch offerings as you have,Forsaken cypresse and yewe;For kinder flowers can take no birthOr growth from such unhappy earth.

In The Maid’s Tragedy, a pathetic little air, is introduced, illustrativeof this mode of decorating the funerals of females who had beendisappointed in love:

Lay a garland on my hearseOf the dismall yew,Maidens, willow branches wear,Say I died true.My love was false, but I was firm,From my hour of birth;Upon my buried body lieLightly, gentle earth.

The natural effect of sorrow over the dead is to refine and elevate themind; and we have a proof of it in the purity of sentiment and theunaffected elegance of thought which pervaded the whole of these funeralobservances. Thus it was an especial precaution that none butsweet-scented evergreens and flowers should be employed. The intentionseems to have been to soften the horrors of the tomb, to beguile the mindfrom brooding over the disgraces of perishing mortality, and to associatethe memory of the deceased with the most delicate and beautiful objects innature. There is a dismal process going on in the grave, ere dust canreturn to its kindred dust, which the imagination shrinks fromcontemplating; and we seek still to think of the form we have loved, withthose refined associations which it awakened when blooming before us inyouth and beauty. “Lay her i’ the earth,” says Laertes, of his virginsister,

And from her fair and unpolluted fleshMay violets spring.

Herrick, also, in his “Dirge of Jephtha,” pours forth a fragrant flow ofpoetical thought and image, which in a manner embalms the dead in therecollections of the living.

Sleep in thy peace, thy bed of spice,And make this place all Paradise:May sweets grow here! and smoke from henceFat frankincense.Let balme and cassia send their scentFrom out thy maiden monument.
May all shie maids at wonted hoursCome forth to strew thy tombe with flowers!May virgins, when they come to mournMale incense burnUpon thine altar! then returnAnd leave thee sleeping in thy urn.

I might crowd my pages with extracts from the older British poets, whowrote when these rites were more prevalent, and delighted frequently toallude to them; but I have already quoted more than is necessary. Icannot, however, refrain from giving a passage from Shakespeare, eventhough it should appear trite, which illustrates the emblematical meaningoften conveyed in these floral tributes, and at the same time possessesthat magic of language and appositeness of imagery for which he standspre-eminent.

With fairest flowers,Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,I’ll sweeten thy sad grave; thou shalt not lackThe flower that’s like thy face, pale primrose; norThe azured harebell like thy veins; no, norThe leaf of eglantine; whom not to slander,Outsweetened not thy breath.

There is certainly something more affecting in these prompt andspontaneous offerings of Nature than in the most costly monuments of art;the hand strews the flower while the heart is warm, and the tear falls onthe grave as affection is binding the osier round the sod; but pathosexpires under the slow labor of the chisel, and is chilled among the coldconceits of sculptured marble.

It is greatly to be regretted that a custom so truly elegant and touchinghas disappeared from general use, and exists only in the most remote andinsignificant villages. But it seems as if poetical custom always shunsthe walks of cultivated society. In proportion as people grow polite theycease to be poetical. They talk of poetry, but they have learnt to checkits free impulses, to distrust its sallying emotions, and to supply itsmost affecting and picturesque usages by studied form and pompousceremonial. Few pageants can be more stately and frigid than an Englishfuneral in town. It is made up of show and gloomy parade: mourningcarriages, mourning horses, mourning plumes, and hireling mourners, whomake a mockery of grief. “There is a grave digged,” says Jeremy Taylor,“and a solemn mourning, and a great talk in the neighborhood, and when thedaies are finished, they shall be, and they shall be remembered no more.” The associate in the gay and crowded city is soon forgotten; the hurryingsuccession of new intimates and new pleasures effaces him from our minds,and the very scenes and circles in which he moved are incessantlyfluctuating. But funerals in the country are solemnly impressive. Thestroke of death makes a wider space in the village circle, and is an awfulevent in the tranquil uniformity of rural life. The passing bell tolls itsknell in every ear; it steals with its pervading melancholy over hill andvale, and saddens all the landscape.

The fixed and unchanging features of the country also perpetuate thememory of the friend with whom we once enjoyed them, who was the companionof our most retired walks, and gave animation to every lonely scene. Hisidea is associated with every charm of Nature; we hear his voice in theecho which he once delighted to awaken; his spirit haunts the grove whichhe once frequented; we think of him in the wild upland solitude or amidstthe pensive beauty of the valley. In the freshness of joyous morning weremember his beaming smiles and bounding gayety; and when sober eveningreturns with its gathering shadows and subduing quiet, we call to mindmany a twilight hour of gentle talk and sweet-souled melancholy.

Each lonely place shall him restore,For him the tear be duly shed;Beloved till life can charm no more,And mourn’d till pity’s self be dead.

Another cause that perpetuates the memory of the deceased in the countryis that the grave is more immediately in sight of the survivors. They passit on their way to prayer; it meets their eyes when their hearts aresoftened by the exercises of devotion; they linger about it on theSabbath, when the mind is disengaged from worldly cares and most disposedto turn aside from present pleasures and present loves and to sit downamong the solemn mementos of the past. In North Wales the peasantry kneeland pray over the graves of their deceased friends for several Sundaysafter the interment; and where the tender rite of strewing and plantingflowers is still practised, it is always renewed on Easter, Whitsuntide,and other festivals, when the season brings the companion of formerfestivity more vividly to mind. It is also invariably performed by thenearest relatives and friends; no menials nor hirelings are employed, andif a neighbor yields assistance, it would be deemed an insult to offercompensation.

I have dwelt upon this beautiful rural custom, because as it is one of thelast, so is it one of the holiest, offices of love. The grave is theordeal of true affection. It is there that the divine passion of the soulmanifests its superiority to the instinctive impulse of mere animalattachment. The latter must be continually refreshed and kept alive by thepresence of its object, but the love that is seated in the soul can liveon long remembrance. The mere inclinations of sense languish and declinewith the charms which excited them, and turn with shuddering disgust fromthe dismal precincts of the tomb; but it is thence that truly spiritualaffection rises, purified from every sensual desire, and returns, like aholy flame, to illumine and sanctify the heart of the survivor.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (69)


The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to bedivorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction toforget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open, this afflictionwe cherish and brood over in solitude. Where is the mother who wouldwillingly forget the infant that perished like a blossom from her armsthough every recollection is a pang? Where is the child that wouldwillingly forget the most tender of parents, though to remember be but tolament? Who, even in the hour of agony, would forget the friend over whomhe mourns? Who, even when the tomb is closing upon the remains of her hemost loved, when he feels his heart, as it were, crushed in the closing ofits portal, would accept of consolation that must be bought byforgetfulness? No, the love which survives the tomb is one of the noblestattributes of the soul. If it has its woes, it has likewise its delights;and when the overwhelming burst of grief is calmed into the gentle tear ofrecollection, when the sudden anguish and the convulsive agony over thepresent ruins of all that we most loved is softened away into pensivemeditation on all that it was in the days of its loveliness, who wouldroot out such a sorrow from the heart? Though it may sometimes throw apassing cloud over the bright hour of gayety, or spread a deeper sadnessover the hour of gloom, yet who would exchange it even for the song ofpleasure or the burst of revelry? No, there is a voice from the tombsweeter than song. There is a remembrance of the dead to which we turneven from the charms of the living. Oh, the grave! the grave! It buriesevery error, covers every defect, extinguishes every resentment! From itspeaceful bosom spring none but fond regrets and tender recollections. Whocan look down upon the grave even of an enemy, and not feel a compunctiousthrob that he should ever have warred with the poor handful of earth thatlies mouldering before him?

But the grave of those we loved—what a place for meditation! Thereit is that we call up in long review the whole history of virtue andgentleness, and the thousand endearments lavished upon us almost unheededin the daily intercourse of intimacy; there it is that we dwell upon thetenderness, the solemn, awful tenderness, of the parting scene. The bed ofdeath, with all its stifled griefs—its noiseless attendance—itsmute, watchful assiduities. The last testimonies of expiring love! Thefeeble, fluttering, thrilling—oh, how thrilling!—pressure ofthe hand! The faint, faltering accents, struggling in death to give onemore assurance of affection! The last fond look of the glazing eye,turning upon us even from the threshold of existence!

Ay, go to the grave of buried love and meditate! There settle the accountwith thy conscience for every past benefit unrequited—every pastendearment unregarded, of that departed being who can never-never—neverreturn to be soothed by thy contrition!

If thou art a child, and hast ever added a sorrow to the soul or a furrowto the silvered brow of an affectionate parent; if thou art a husband, andhast ever caused the fond bosom that ventured its whole happiness in thyarms to doubt one moment of thy kindness or thy truth; if thou art afriend, and hast ever wronged, in thought or word or deed, the spirit thatgenerously confided in thee; if thou art a lover, and hast ever given oneunmerited pang to that true heart which now lies cold and still beneaththy feet,—then be sure that every unkind look, every ungraciousword, every ungentle action will come thronging back upon thy memory andknocking dolefully at thy soul: then be sure that thou wilt lie downsorrowing and repentant on the grave, and utter the unheard groan and pourthe unavailing tear, more deep, more bitter because unheard andunavailing.

Then weave thy chaplet of flowers and strew the beauties of Nature aboutthe grave; console thy broken spirit, if thou canst, with these tender yetfutile tributes of regret; but take warning by the bitterness of this thycontrite affliction over the dead, and henceforth be more faithful andaffectionate in the discharge of thy duties to the living.

In writing the preceding article it was not intended to give a full detailof the funeral customs of the English peasantry, but merely to furnish afew hints and quotations illustrative of particular rites, to be appended,by way of note, to another paper, which has been withheld. The articleswelled insensibly into its present form, and this is mentioned as anapology for so brief and casual a notice of these usages after they havebeen amply and learnedly investigated in other works.

I must observe, also, that I am well aware that this custom of adorninggraves with flowers prevails in other countries besides England. Indeed,in some it is much more general, and is observed even by the rich andfashionable; but it is then apt to lose its simplicity and to degenerateinto affectation. Bright, in his travels in Lower Hungary, tells ofmonuments of marble and recesses formed for retirement, with seats placedamong bowers of greenhouse plants, and that the graves generally arecovered with the gayest flowers of the season. He gives a casual pictureof filial piety which I cannot but transcribe; for I trust it is as usefulas it is delightful to illustrate the amiable virtues of the sex. “When Iwas at Berlin,” says he, “I followed the celebrated Iffland to the grave.Mingled with some pomp you might trace much real feeling. In the midst ofthe ceremony my attention was attracted by a young woman who stood on amound of earth newly covered with turf, which she anxiously protected fromthe feet of the passing crowd. It was the tomb of her parent; and thefigure of this affectionate daughter presented a monument more strikingthan the most costly work of art.”

I will barely add an instance of sepulchral decoration that I once metwith among the mountains of Switzerland. It was at the village of Gersau,which stands on the borders of the Lake of Lucerne, at the foot of MountRigi. It was once the capital of a miniature republic shut up between theAlps and the lake, and accessible on the land side only by footpaths. Thewhole force of the republic did not exceed six hundred fighting men, and afew miles of circumference, scooped out as it were from the bosom of themountains, comprised its territory. The village of Gersau seemed separatedfrom the rest of the world, and retained the golden simplicity of a purerage. It had a small church, with a burying-ground adjoining. At the headsof the graves were placed crosses of wood or iron. On some were affixedminiatures, rudely executed, but evidently attempts at likenesses of thedeceased. On the crosses were hung chaplets of flowers, some witheringothers fresh, as if occasionally renewed. I paused with interest at thisscene: I felt that I was at the source of poetical description, for thesewere the beautiful but unaffected offerings of the heart which poets arefain to record. In a gayer and more populous place I should have suspectedthem to have been suggested by factitious sentiment derived from books;but the good people of Gersau knew little of books; there was not a novelnor a love-poem in the village, and I question whether any peasant of theplace dreamt, while he was twining a fresh chaplet for the grave of hismistress, that he was fulfilling one of the most fanciful rites ofpoetical devotion, and that he was practically a poet.


Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?FALSTAFF.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (70)

DURING a journey that I once made through the Netherlands, I had arrivedone evening at the Pomme d’Or, the principal inn of a small Flemishvillage. It was after the hour of the table d’hote, so that I was obligedto make a solitary supper from the relics of its ampler board. The weatherwas chilly; I was seated alone in one end of a great gloomy dining-room,and, my repast being over, I had the prospect before me of a long dullevening, without any visible means of enlivening it. I summoned mine hostand requested something to read; he brought me the whole literary stock ofhis household, a Dutch family Bible, an almanac in the same language, anda number of old Paris newspapers. As I sat dozing over one of the latter,reading old news and stale criticisms, my ear was now and then struck withbursts of laughter which seemed to proceed from the kitchen. Every onethat has travelled on the Continent must know how favorite a resort thekitchen of a country inn is to the middle and inferior order oftravellers, particularly in that equivocal kind of weather when a firebecomes agreeable toward evening. I threw aside the newspaper and exploredmy way to the kitchen, to take a peep at the group that appeared to be somerry. It was composed partly of travellers who had arrived some hoursbefore in a diligence, and partly of the usual attendants and hangers-onof inns. They were seated round a great burnished stove, that might havebeen mistaken for an altar at which they were worshipping. It was coveredwith various kitchen vessels of resplendent brightness, among whichsteamed and hissed a huge copper tea-kettle. A large lamp threw a strongmass of light upon the group, bringing out many odd features in strongrelief. Its yellow rays partially illumined the spacious kitchen, dyingduskily away into remote corners, except where they settled in mellowradiance on the broad side of a flitch of bacon or were reflected backfrom well-scoured utensils that gleamed from the midst of obscurity. Astrapping Flemish lass, with long golden pendants in her ears and anecklace with a golden heart suspended to it, was the presiding priestessof the temple.

Many of the company were furnished with pipes, and most of them with somekind of evening potation. I found their mirth was occasioned by anecdoteswhich a little swarthy Frenchman, with a dry weazen face and largewhiskers, was giving of his love-adventures; at the end of each of whichthere was one of those bursts of honest unceremonious laughter in which aman indulges in that temple of true liberty, an inn.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (71)


As I had no better mode of getting through a tedious blustering evening, Itook my seat near the stove, and listened to a variety of travellers’tales, some very extravagant and most very dull. All of them, however,have faded from my treacherous memory except one, which I will endeavor torelate. I fear, however, it derived its chief zest from the manner inwhich it was told, and the peculiar air and appearance of the narrator. Hewas a corpulent old Swiss, who had the look of a veteran traveller. He wasdressed in a tarnished green travelling-jacket, with a broad belt roundhis waist, and a pair of overalls with buttons from the hips to theankles. He was of a full rubicund countenance, with a double chin,aquiline nose, and a pleasant twinkling eye. His hair was light, andcurled from under an old green velvet travelling-cap stuck on one side ofhis head. He was interrupted more than once by the arrival of guests orthe remarks of his auditors, and paused now and then to replenish hispipe; at which times he had generally a roguish leer and a sly joke forthe buxom kitchen-maid.

I wish my readers could imagine the old fellow lolling in a hugearm-chair, one arm a-kimbo, the other holding a curiously twistedtobacco-pipe formed of genuine ecume de mer, decorated with silver chainand silken tassel, his head co*cked on one side, and a whimsical cut of theeye occasionally as he related the following story.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (72)




He that supper for is dight,He lyes full cold, I trow, this night!Yestreen to chamber I him led,This night Gray-steel has made his bed!SIR EGER, SIR GRAHAME, and SIR GRAY-STEEL.

ON the summit of one of the heights of the Odenwald, a wild and romantictract of Upper Germany that lies not far from the confluence of the Mainand the Rhine, there stood many, many years since the castle of the BaronVon Landshort. It is now quite fallen to decay, and almost buried amongbeech trees and dark firs; above which, however, its old watch-tower maystill be seen struggling, like the former possessor I have mentioned, tocarry a high head and look down upon the neighboring country.

The baron was a dry branch of the great family of Katzenellenbogen,+ andinherited the relics of the property and all the pride, of his ancestors.Though the warlike disposition of his predecessors had much impaired thefamily possessions, yet the baron still endeavored to keep up some show offormer state. The times were peaceable, and the German nobles in generalhad abandoned their inconvenient old castles, perched like eagles’ nestsamong the mountains, and had built more convenient residences in thevalleys; still, the baron remained proudly drawn up in his littlefortress, cherishing with hereditary inveteracy all the old family feuds,so that he was on ill terms with some of his nearest neighbors, on accountof disputes that had happened between their great-great-grandfathers.

* The erudite reader, well versed in good-for-nothing lore,will perceive that the above Tale must have been suggestedto the old Swiss by a little French anecdote, a circ*mstancesaid to have taken place in Paris.+ I.e., CAT’S ELBOW—the name of a family of those parts,and very powerful in former times. The appellation, we aretold, was given in compliment to a peerless dame of thefamily, celebrated for a fine arm.

The baron had but one child, a daughter, but Nature, when she grants butone child, always compensates by making it a prodigy; and so it was withthe daughter of the baron. All the nurses, gossips, and country cousinsassured her father that she had not her equal for beauty in all Germany;and who should know better than they? She had, moreover, been brought upwith great care under the superintendence of two maiden aunts, who hadspent some years of their early life at one of the little German courts,and were skilled in all branches of knowledge necessary to the educationof a fine lady. Under their instructions she became a miracle ofaccomplishments. By the time she was eighteen she could embroider toadmiration, and had worked whole histories of the saints in tapestry withsuch strength of expression in their countenances that they looked like somany souls in purgatory. She could read without great difficulty, and hadspelled her way through several Church legends and almost all thechivalric wonders of the Heldenbuch. She had even made considerableproficiency in writing; could sign her own name without missing a letter,and so legibly that her aunts could read it without spectacles. Sheexcelled in making little elegant good-for-nothing, lady-like knicknacksof all kinds, was versed in the most abstruse dancing of the day, played anumber of airs on the harp and guitar, and knew all the tender ballads ofthe Minnelieders by heart.

Her aunts, too, having been great flirts and coquettes in their youngerdays, were admirably calculated to be vigilant guardians and strictcensors of the conduct of their niece; for there is no duenna so rigidlyprudent and inexorably decorous as a superannuated coquette. She wasrarely suffered out of their sight; never went beyond the domains of thecastle unless well attended, or rather well watched; had continuallectures read to her about strict decorum and implicit obedience; and, asto the men—pah!—she was taught to hold them at such a distanceand in such absolute distrust that, unless properly authorized, she wouldnot have cast a glance upon the handsomest cavalier in the world—no,not if he were even dying at her feet.

The good effects of this system were wonderfully apparent. The young ladywas a pattern of docility and correctness. While others were wasting theirsweetness in the glare of the world, and liable to be plucked and thrownaside by every hand, she was coyly blooming into fresh and lovelywomanhood under the protection of those immaculate spinsters, like arosebud blushing forth among guardian thorns. Her aunts looked upon herwith pride and exultation, and vaunted that, though all the other youngladies in the world might go astray, yet thank Heaven, nothing of the kindcould happen to the heiress of Katzenellenbogen.

But, however scantily the Baron Von Landshort might be provided withchildren, his household was by no means a small one; for Providence hadenriched him with abundance of poor relations. They, one and all,possessed the affectionate disposition common to humble relatives—werewonderfully attached to the baron, and took every possible occasion tocome in swarms and enliven the castle. All family festivals werecommemorated by these good people at the baron’s expense; and when theywere filled with good cheer they would declare that there was nothing onearth so delightful as these family meetings, these jubilees of the heart.

The baron, though a small man, had a large soul, and it swelled withsatisfaction at the consciousness of being the greatest man in the littleworld about him. He loved to tell long stories about the stark oldwarriors whose portraits looked grimly down from the walls around, and hefound no listeners equal to those who fed at his expense. He was muchgiven to the marvellous and a firm believer in all those supernaturaltales with which every mountain and valley in Germany abounds. The faithof his guests exceeded even his own: they listened to every tale of wonderwith open eyes and mouth, and never failed to be astonished, even thoughrepeated for the hundredth time. Thus lived the Baron Von Landshort, theoracle of his table, the absolute monarch of his little territory, andhappy, above all things, in the persuasion that he was the wisest man ofthe age.

At the time of which my story treats there was a great family gathering atthe castle on an affair of the utmost importance: it was to receive thedestined bridegroom of the baron’s daughter. A negotiation had beencarried on between the father and an old nobleman of Bavaria to unite thedignity of their houses by the marriage of their children. Thepreliminaries had been conducted with proper punctilio. The young peoplewere betrothed without seeing each other, and the time was appointed forthe marriage ceremony. The young Count Von Altenburg had been recalledfrom the army for the purpose, and was actually on his way to the baron’sto receive his bride. Missives had even been received from him fromWurtzburg, where he was accidentally detained, mentioning the day and hourwhen he might be expected to arrive.

The castle was in a tumult of preparation to give him a suitable welcome.The fair bride had been decked out with uncommon care. The two aunts hadsuperintended her toilet, and quarrelled the whole morning about everyarticle of her dress. The young lady had taken advantage of their contestto follow the bent of her own taste; and fortunately it was a good one.She looked as lovely as youthful bridegroom could desire, and the flutterof expectation heightened the lustre of her charms.

The suffusions that mantled her face and neck, the gentle heaving of thebosom, the eye now and then lost in reverie, all betrayed the soft tumultthat was going on in her little heart. The aunts were continually hoveringaround her, for maiden aunts are apt to take great interest in affairs ofthis nature. They were giving her a world of staid counsel how to deportherself, what to say, and in what manner to receive the expected lover.

The baron was no less busied in preparations. He had, in truth, nothingexactly to do; but he was naturally a fuming, bustling little man, andcould not remain passive when all the world was in a hurry. He worriedfrom top to bottom of the castle with an air of infinite anxiety; hecontinually called the servants from their work to exhort them to bediligent; and buzzed about every hall and chamber, as idly restless andimportunate as a blue-bottle fly on a warm summer’s day.

In the mean time the fatted calf had been killed; the forests had rungwith the clamor of the huntsmen; the kitchen was crowded with good cheer;the cellars had yielded up whole oceans of Rhein-wein and Ferre-wein; andeven the great Heidelberg tun had been laid under contribution. Everythingwas ready to receive the distinguished guest with Saus und Braus in thetrue spirit of German hospitality; but the guest delayed to make hisappearance. Hour rolled after hour. The sun, that had poured his downwardrays upon the rich forest of the Odenwald, now just gleamed along thesummits of the mountains. The baron mounted the highest tower and strainedhis eyes in hopes of catching a distant sight of the count and hisattendants. Once he thought he beheld them; the sound of horns camefloating from the valley, prolonged by the mountain-echoes. A number ofhorsem*n were seen far below slowly advancing along the road; but whenthey had nearly reached the foot of the mountain they suddenly struck offin a different direction. The last ray of sunshine departed, the batsbegan to flit by in the twilight, the road grew dimmer and dimmer to theview, and nothing appeared stirring in it but now and then a peasantlagging homeward from his labor.

While the old castle of Landshort was in this state of perplexity a veryinteresting scene was transacting in a different part of the Odenwald.

The young Count Von Altenburg was tranquilly pursuing his route in thatsober jog-trot way in which a man travels toward matrimony when hisfriends have taken all the trouble and uncertainty of courtship off hishands and a bride is waiting for him as certainly as a dinner at the endof his journey. He had encountered at Wurtzburg a youthfulcompanion-in-arms with whom he had seen some service on the frontiers—HermanVon Starkenfaust, one of the stoutest hands and worthiest hearts of Germanchivalry—who was now returning from the army. His father’s castlewas not far distant from the old fortress of Landshort, although anhereditary feud rendered the families hostile and strangers to each other.

In the warm-hearted moment of recognition the young friends related alltheir past adventures and fortunes, and the count gave the whole historyof his intended nuptials with a young lady whom he had never seen, but ofwhose charms he had received the most enrapturing descriptions.

As the route of the friends lay in the same direction, they agreed toperform the rest of their journey together, and that they might do it themore leisurely, set off from Wurtzburg at an early hour, the count havinggiven directions for his retinue to follow and overtake him.

They beguiled their wayfaring with recollections of their military scenesand adventures; but the count was apt to be a little tedious now and thenabout the reputed charms of his bride and the felicity that awaited him.

In this way they had entered among the mountains of the Odenwald, and weretraversing one of its most lonely and thickly wooded passes. It is wellknown that the forests of Germany have always been as much infested byrobbers as its castles by spectres; and at this time the former wereparticularly numerous, from the hordes of disbanded soldiers wanderingabout the country. It will not appear extraordinary, therefore, that thecavaliers were attacked by a gang of these stragglers, in the midst of theforest. They defended themselves with bravery, but were nearly overpoweredwhen the count’s retinue arrived to their assistance. At sight of them therobbers fled, but not until the count had received a mortal wound. He wasslowly and carefully conveyed back to the city of Wurtzburg, and a friarsummoned from a neighboring convent who was famous for his skill inadministering to both soul and body; but half of his skill wassuperfluous; the moments of the unfortunate count were numbered.

With his dying breath he entreated his friend to repair instantly to thecastle of Landshort and explain the fatal cause of his not keeping hisappointment with his bride. Though not the most ardent of lovers, he wasone of the most punctilious of men, and appeared earnestly solicitous thathis mission should be speedily and courteously executed. “Unless this isdone,” said he, “I shall not sleep quietly in my grave.” He repeated theselast words with peculiar solemnity. A request at a moment so impressiveadmitted no hesitation. Starkenfaust endeavored to soothe him to calmness,promised faithfully to execute his wish, and gave him his hand in solemnpledge. The dying man pressed it in acknowledgment, but soon lapsed intodelirium—raved about his bride, his engagements, his plighted word—orderedhis horse, that he might ride to the castle of Landshort, and expired inthe fancied act of vaulting into the saddle.

Starkenfaust bestowed a sigh and a soldier’s tear on the untimely fate ofhis comrade and then pondered on the awkward mission he had undertaken.His heart was heavy and his head perplexed; for he was to present himselfan unbidden guest among hostile people, and to damp their festivity withtidings fatal to their hopes. Still, there were certain whisperings ofcuriosity in his bosom to see this far-famed beauty of Katzenellenbogen,so cautiously shut up from the world; for he was a passionate admirer ofthe sex, and there was a dash of eccentricity and enterprise in hischaracter that made him fond of all singular adventure.

Previous to his departure he made all due arrangements with the holyfraternity of the convent for the funeral solemnities of his friend, whowas to be buried in the cathedral of Wurtzburg near some of hisillustrious relatives, and the mourning retinue of the count took chargeof his remains.

It is now high time that we should return to the ancient family ofKatzenellenbogen, who were impatient for their guest, and still more fortheir dinner, and to the worthy little baron, whom we left airing himselfon the watch-tower.

Night closed in, but still no guest arrived. The baron descended from thetower in despair. The banquet, which had been delayed from hour to hour,could no longer be postponed. The meats were already overdone, the cook inan agony, and the whole household had the look of a garrison, that hadbeen reduced by famine. The baron was obliged reluctantly to give ordersfor the feast without the presence of the guest. All were seated at table,and just on the point of commencing, when the sound of a horn from withoutthe gate gave notice of the approach of a stranger. Another long blastfilled the old courts of the castle with its echoes, and was answered bythe warder from the walls. The baron hastened to receive his futureson-in-law.

The drawbridge had been let down, and the stranger was before the gate. Hewas a tall gallant cavalier, mounted on a black steed. His countenance waspale, but he had a beaming, romantic eye and an air of stately melancholy.The baron was a little mortified that he should have come in this simple,solitary style. His dignity for a moment was ruffled, and he felt disposedto consider it a want of proper respect for the important occasion and theimportant family with which he was to be connected. He pacified himself,however, with the conclusion that it must have been youthful impatiencewhich had induced him thus to spur on sooner than his attendants.

“I am sorry,” said the stranger, “to break in upon you thus unseasonably——”

Here the baron interrupted him with a world of compliments and greetings,for, to tell the truth, he prided himself upon his courtesy and eloquence.The stranger attempted once or twice to stem the torrent of words, but invain, so he bowed his head and suffered it to flow on. By the time thebaron had come to a pause they had reached the inner court of the castle,and the stranger was again about to speak, when he was once moreinterrupted by the appearance of the female part of the family, leadingforth the shrinking and blushing bride. He gazed on her for a moment asone entranced; it seemed as if his whole soul beamed forth in the gaze andrested upon that lovely form. One of the maiden aunts whispered somethingin her ear; she made an effort to speak; her moist blue eye was timidlyraised, gave a shy glance of inquiry on the stranger, and was cast againto the ground. The words died away, but there was a sweet smile playingabout her lips, and a soft dimpling of the cheek that showed her glancehad not been unsatisfactory. It was impossible for a girl of the fond ageof eighteen, highly predisposed for love and matrimony, not to be pleasedwith so gallant a cavalier.

The late hour at which the guest had arrived left no time for parley. Thebaron was peremptory, and deferred all particular conversation until themorning, and led the way to the untasted banquet.

It was served up in the great hall of the castle. Around the walls hungthe hard-favored portraits of the heroes of the house of Katzenellenbogen,and the trophies which they had gained in the field, and in the chase.Hacked corselets, splintered jousting-spears, and tattered banners weremingled with the spoils of sylvan warfare: the jaws of the wolf and thetusks of the boar grinned horribly among crossbows and battle-axes, and ahuge pair of antlers branched immediately over the head of the youthfulbridegroom.

The cavalier took but little notice of the company or the entertainment.He scarcely tasted the banquet, but seemed absorbed in admiration of hisbride. He conversed in a low tone that could not be overheard, for thelanguage of love is never loud; but where is the female ear so dull thatit cannot catch the softest whisper of the lover? There was a mingledtenderness and gravity in his manner that appeared to have a powerfuleffect upon the young lady. Her color came and went as she listened withdeep attention. Now and then she made some blushing reply, and when hiseye was turned away she would steal a sidelong glance at his romanticcountenance, and heave a gentle sigh of tender happiness. It was evidentthat the young couple were completely enamored. The aunts, who were deeplyversed in the mysteries of the heart, declared that they had fallen inlove with each other at first sight.

The feast went on merrily, or at least noisily, for the guests were allblessed with those keen appetites that attend upon light purses andmountain air. The baron told his best and longest stories, and never hadhe told them so well or with such great effect. If there was anythingmarvellous, his auditors were lost in astonishment; and if anythingfacetious, they were sure to laugh exactly in the right place. The baron,it is true, like most great men, was too dignified to utter any joke but adull one; it was always enforced, however, by a bumper of excellentHockheimer, and even a dull joke at one’s own table, served up with jollyold wine, is irresistible. Many good things were said by poorer and keenerwits that would not bear repeating, except on similar occasions; many slyspeeches whispered in ladies’ ears that almost convulsed them withsuppressed laughter; and a song or two roared out by a poor but merry andbroad-faced cousin of the baron that absolutely made the maiden aunts holdup their fans.

Amidst all this revelry the stranger guest maintained a most singular andunseasonable gravity. His countenance assumed a deeper cast of dejectionas the evening advanced, and, strange as it may appear, even the baron’sjokes seemed only to render him the more melancholy. At times he was lostin thought, and at times there was a perturbed and restless wandering ofthe eye that bespoke a mind but ill at ease. His conversations with thebride became more and more earnest and mysterious. Lowering clouds beganto steal over the fair serenity of her brow, and tremors to run throughher tender frame.

All this could not escape the notice of the company. Their gayety waschilled by the unaccountable gloom of the bridegroom; their spirits wereinfected; whispers and glances were interchanged, accompanied by shrugsand dubious shakes of the head. The song and the laugh grew less and lessfrequent: there were dreary pauses in the conversation, which were atlength succeeded by wild tales and supernatural legends. One dismal storyproduced another still more dismal, and the baron nearly frightened someof the ladies into hysterics with the history of the goblin horseman thatcarried away the fair Leonora—a dreadful story which has since beenput into excellent verse, and is read and believed by all the world.

The bridegroom listened to this tale with profound attention. He kept hiseyes steadily fixed on the baron, and, as the story drew to a close, begangradually to rise from his seat, growing taller and taller, until in thebaron’s entranced eye he seemed almost to tower into a giant. The momentthe tale was finished he heaved a deep sigh and took a solemn farewell ofthe company. They were all amazement. The baron was perfectlythunderstruck.

“What! going to leave the castle at midnight? Why, everything was preparedfor his reception; a chamber was ready for him if he wished to retire.”

The stranger shook his head mournfully and mysteriously: “I must lay myhead in a different chamber to-night.”

There was something in this reply and the tone in which it was utteredthat made the baron’s heart misgive him; but he rallied his forces andrepeated his hospitable entreaties.

The stranger shook his head silently, but positively, at every offer, and,waving his farewell to the company, stalked slowly out of the hall. Themaiden aunts were absolutely petrified; the bride hung her head and a tearstole to her eye.

The baron followed the stranger to the great court of the castle, wherethe black charger stood pawing the earth and snorting with impatience.When they had reached the portal, whose deep archway was dimly lighted bya cresset, the stranger paused, and addressed the baron in a hollow toneof voice, which the vaulted roof rendered still more sepulchral.

“Now that we are a lone,” said he, “I will impart to you the reason of mygoing. I have a solemn, an indispensable engagement——”

“Why,” said the baron, “cannot you send some one in your place?”

“It admits of no substitute—I must attend it in person; I must awayto Wurtzburg cathedral——”

“Ay,” said the baron, plucking up spirit, “but not until to-morrow—to-morrowyou shall take your bride there.”

“No! no!” replied the stranger, with tenfold solemnity, “my engagement iswith no bride—the worms! the worms expect me! I am a dead man—Ihave been slain by robbers—my body lies at Wurtzburg—atmidnight I am to be buried—the grave is waiting for me—I mustkeep my appointment!”

He sprang on his black charger, dashed over the drawbridge, and theclattering of his horse’s hoofs was lost in the whistling of the nightblast.

The baron returned to the hall in the utmost consternation, and relatedwhat had passed. Two ladies fainted outright, others sickened at the ideaof having banqueted with a spectre. It was the opinion of some that thismight be the wild huntsman, famous in German legend. Some talked ofmountain-sprites, of wood-demons, and of other supernatural beings withwhich the good people of Germany have been so grievously harassed sincetime immemorial. One of the poor relations ventured to suggest that itmight be some sportive evasion of the young cavalier, and that the verygloominess of the caprice seemed to accord with so melancholy a personage.This, however, drew on him, the indignation of the whole company, andespecially of the baron, who looked upon him as little better than aninfidel; so that he was fain to abjure his heresy as speedily as possibleand come into the faith of the true believers.

But, whatever may have been the doubts entertained, they were completelyput to an end by the arrival next day of regular missives confirming theintelligence of the young count’s murder and his interment in Wurtzburgcathedral.

The dismay at the castle may well be imagined. The baron shut himself upin his chamber. The guests, who had come to rejoice with him, could notthink of abandoning him in his distress. They wandered about the courts orcollected in groups in the hall, shaking their heads and shrugging theirshoulders at the troubles of so good a man, and sat longer than ever attable, and ate and drank more stoutly than ever, by way of keeping uptheir spirits. But the situation of the widowed bride was the mostpitiable. To have lost a husband before she had even embraced him—andsuch a husband! If the very spectre could be so gracious and noble, whatmust have been the living man? She filled the house with lamentations.

On the night of the second day of her widowhood she had retired to herchamber, accompanied by one of her aunts, who insisted on sleeping withher. The aunt, who was one of the best tellers of ghost-stories in allGermany, had just been recounting one of her longest, and had fallenasleep in the very midst of it. The chamber was remote and overlooked asmall garden. The niece lay pensively gazing at the beams of the risingmoon as they trembled on the leaves of an aspen tree before the lattice.The castle clock had just tolled midnight when a soft strain of musicstole up from the garden. She rose hastily from her bed and steppedlightly to the window. A tall figure stood among the shadows of the trees.As it raised its head a beam of moonlight fell upon the countenance.Heaven and earth! she beheld the Spectre Bridegroom! A loud shriek at thatmoment burst upon her ear, and her aunt, who had been awakened by themusic and had followed her silently to the window, fell into her arms.When she looked again the spectre had disappeared.

Of the two females, the aunt now required the most soothing, for she wasperfectly beside herself with terror. As to the young lady, there wassomething even in the spectre of her lover that seemed endearing. Therewas still the semblance of manly beauty, and, though the shadow of a manis but little calculated to satisfy the affections of a lovesick girl, yetwhere the substance is not to be had even that is consoling. The auntdeclared she would never sleep in that chamber again; the niece, for once,was refractory, and declared as strongly that she would sleep in no otherin the castle: the consequence was, that she had to sleep in it alone; butshe drew a promise from her aunt not to relate the story of the spectre,lest she should be denied the only melancholy pleasure left her on earth—thatof inhabiting the chamber over which the guardian shade of her lover keptit* nightly vigils.

How long the good old lady would have observed this promise is uncertain,for she dearly loved to talk of the marvellous, and there is a triumph inbeing the first to tell a frightful story; it is, however, still quoted inthe neighborhood as a memorable instance of female secrecy that she keptit to herself for a whole week, when she was suddenly absolved from allfurther restraint by intelligence brought to the breakfast-table onemorning that the young lady was not to be found. Her room was empty—thebed had not been slept in—the window was open and the bird hadflown!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (73)


The astonishment and concern with which the intelligence was received canonly be imagined by those who have witnessed the agitation which themishaps of a great man cause among his friends. Even the poor relationspaused for a moment from the indefatigable labors of the trencher, whenthe aunt, who had at first been struck speechless, wrung her hands andshrieked out, “The goblin! the goblin! she’s carried away by the goblin!”

In a few words she related the fearful scene of the garden, and concludedthat the spectre must have carried off his bride. Two of the domesticscorroborated the opinion, for they had heard the clattering of a horse’shoofs down the mountain about midnight, and had no doubt that it was thespectre on his black charger bearing her away to the tomb. All presentwere struck with the direful probability for events of the kind areextremely common in Germany, as many well-authenticated histories bearwitness.

What a lamentable situation was that of the poor baron! What aheartrending dilemma for a fond father and a member of the great family ofKatzenellenbogen! His only daughter had either been rapt away to thegrave, or he was to have some wood-demon for a son-in-law, and perchance atroop of goblin grandchildren. As usual, he was completely bewildered, andall the castle in an uproar. The men were ordered to take horse and scourevery road and path and glen of the Odenwald. The baron himself had justdrawn on his jack-boots, girded on his sword, and was about to mount hissteed to sally forth on the doubtful quest, when he was brought to a pauseby a new apparition. A lady was seen approaching the castle mounted on apalfrey, attended by a cavalier on horseback. She galloped up to the gate,sprang from her horse, and, falling at the baron’s feet, embraced hisknees. It was his lost daughter, and her companion—the SpectreBridegroom! The baron was astounded. He looked at his daughter, then atthe spectre, and almost doubted the evidence of his senses. The latter,too, was wonderfully improved in his appearance since his visit to theworld of spirits. His dress was splendid, and set off a noble figure ofmanly symmetry. He was no longer pale and melancholy. His fine countenancewas flushed with the glow of youth, and joy rioted in his large dark eye.

The mystery was soon cleared up. The cavalier (for, in truth, as you musthave known all the while, he was no goblin) announced himself as SirHerman Von Starkenfaust. He related his adventure with the young count. Hetold how he had hastened to the castle to deliver the unwelcome tidings,but that the eloquence of the baron had interrupted him in every attemptto tell his tale. How the sight of the bride had completely captivated himand that to pass a few hours near her he had tacitly suffered the mistaketo continue. How he had been sorely perplexed in what way to make a decentretreat, until the baron’s goblin stories had suggested his eccentricexit. How, fearing the feudal hostility of the family, he had repeated hisvisits by stealth—had haunted the garden beneath the young lady’swindow—had wooed—had won—had borne away in triumph—and,in a word, had wedded the fair.

Under any other circ*mstances the baron would have been inflexible, for hewas tenacious of paternal authority and devoutly obstinate in all familyfeuds; but he loved his daughter; he had lamented her as lost; he rejoicedto find her still alive; and, though her husband was of a hostile house,yet, thank Heaven! he was not a goblin. There was something, it must beacknowledged, that did not exactly accord with his notions of strictveracity in the joke the knight had passed upon him of his being a deadman; but several old friends present, who had served in the wars, assuredhim that every stratagem was excusable in love, and that the cavalier wasentitled to especial privilege, having lately served as a trooper.

Matters, therefore, were happily arranged. The baron pardoned the youngcouple on the spot. The revels at the castle were resumed. The poorrelations overwhelmed this new member of the family with loving-kindness;he was so gallant, so generous—and so rich. The aunts, it is true,were somewhat scandalized that their system of strict seclusion andpassive obedience should be so badly exemplified, but attributed it all totheir negligence in not having the windows grated. One of them wasparticularly mortified at having her marvellous story marred, and that theonly spectre she had ever seen should turn out a counterfeit; but theniece seemed perfectly happy at having found him substantial flesh andblood. And so the story ends.


When I behold, with deep astonishment,To famous Westminster how there resorte,Living in brasse or stoney monument,The princes and the worthies of all sorte;Doe not I see reformde nobilitie,Without contempt, or pride, or ostentation,And looke upon offenselesse majesty,Naked of pomp or earthly domination?And how a play-game of a painted stoneContents the quiet now and silent sprites,Whome all the world which late they stood uponCould not content nor quench their appetites.Life is a frost of cold felicitie,And death the thaw of all our vanitie.CHRISTOLERO’S EPIGRAMS, BY T. B. 1598.

ON one of those sober and rather melancholy days in the latter part ofautumn when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, andthrow a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours inrambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial to theseason in the mournful magnificence of the old pile, and as I passed itsthreshold it seemed like stepping back into the regions of antiquity andlosing myself among the shades of former ages.

I entered from the inner court of Westminster School, through a long, low,vaulted passage that had an almost subterranean look, being dimly lightedin one part by circular perforations in the massive walls. Through thisdark avenue I had a distant view of the cloisters, with the figure of anold verger in his black gown moving along their shadowy vaults, andseeming like a spectre from one of the neighboring tombs. The approach tothe abbey through these gloomy monastic remains prepares the mind for itssolemn contemplation. The cloisters still retain something of the quietand seclusion of former days. The gray walls are discolored by damps andcrumbling with age; a coat of hoary moss has gathered over theinscriptions of the mural monuments, and obscured the death’s heads andother funeral emblems. The sharp touches of the chisel are gone from therich tracery of the arches; the roses which adorned the keystones havelost their leafy beauty; everything bears marks of the gradualdilapidations of time, which yet has something touching and pleasing inits very decay.

The sun was pouring down a yellow autumnal ray into the square of thecloisters, beaming upon a scanty plot of grass in the centre, and lightingup an angle of the vaulted passage with a kind of dusky splendor. Frombetween the arcades the eye glanced up to a bit of blue sky or a passingcloud, and beheld the sun-gilt pinnacles of the abbey towering into theazure heaven.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (74)


As I paced the cloisters, sometimes contemplating this mingled picture ofglory and decay, and sometimes endeavoring to decipher the inscriptions onthe tombstones which formed the pavement beneath my feet, my eye wasattracted to three figures rudely carved in relief, but nearly worn awayby the footsteps of many generations. They were the effigies of three ofthe early abbots; the epitaphs were entirely effaced; the names aloneremained, having no doubt been renewed in later times (Vitalis. Abbas.1082, and Gislebertus Crispinus. Abbas. 1114, and Laurentius. Abbas.1176). I remained some little while, musing over these casual relics ofantiquity thus left like wrecks upon this distant shore of time, tellingno tale but that such beings had been and had perished, teaching no moralbut the futility of that pride which hopes still to exact homage in itsashes and to live in an inscription. A little longer, and even these faintrecords will be obliterated and the monument will cease to be a memorial.Whilst I was yet looking down upon the gravestones I was roused by thesound of the abbey clock, reverberating from buttress to buttress andechoing among the cloisters. It is almost startling to hear this warningof departed time sounding among the tombs and telling the lapse of thehour, which, like a billow, has rolled us onward towards the grave. Ipursued my walk to an arched door opening to the interior of the abbey. Onentering here the magnitude of the building breaks fully upon the mind,contrasted with the vaults of the cloisters. The eyes gaze with wonder atclustered columns of gigantic dimensions, with arches springing from themto such an amazing height, and man wandering about their bases, shrunkinto insignificance in comparison with his own handiwork. The spaciousnessand gloom of this vast edifice produce a profound and mysterious awe. Westep cautiously and softly about, as if fearful of disturbing the hallowedsilence of the tomb, while every footfall whispers along the walls andchatters among the sepulchres, making us more sensible of the quiet wehave interrupted.

It seems as if the awful nature of the place presses down upon the souland hushes the beholder into noiseless reverence. We feel that we aresurrounded by the congregated bones of the great men of past times, whohave filled history with their deeds and the earth with their renown.

And yet it almost provokes a smile at the vanity of human ambition to seehow they are crowded together and jostled in the dust; what parsimony isobserved in doling out a scanty nook, a gloomy corner, a little portion ofearth, to those whom, when alive, kingdoms could not satisfy, and how manyshapes and forms and artifices are devised to catch the casual notice ofthe passenger, and save from forgetfulness for a few short years a namewhich once aspired to occupy ages of the world’s thought and admiration.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (75)


I passed some time in Poet’s Corner, which occupies an end of one of thetransepts or cross aisles of the abbey. The monuments are generallysimple, for the lives of literary men afford no striking themes for thesculptor. Shakespeare and Addison have statues erected to their memories,but the greater part have busts, medallions, and sometimes mereinscriptions. Notwithstanding the simplicity of these memorials, I havealways observed that the visitors to the abbey remained longest aboutthem. A kinder and fonder feeling takes place of that cold curiosity orvague admiration with which they gaze on the splendid monuments of thegreat and the heroic. They linger about these as about the tombs offriends and companions, for indeed there is something of companionshipbetween the author and the reader. Other men are known to posterity onlythrough the medium of history, which is continually growing faint andobscure; but the intercourse between the author and his fellowmen is evernew, active, and immediate. He has lived for them more than for himself;he has sacrificed surrounding enjoyments, and shut himself up from thedelights of social life, that he might the more intimately commune withdistant minds and distant ages. Well may the world cherish his renown, forit has been purchased not by deeds of violence and blood, but by thediligent dispensation of pleasure. Well may posterity be grateful to hismemory, for he has left it an inheritance not of empty names and soundingactions, but whole treasures of wisdom, bright gems of thought, and goldenveins of language.

From Poet’s Corner I continued my stroll towards that part of the abbeywhich contains the sepulchres of the kings. I wandered among what oncewere chapels, but which are now occupied by the tombs and monuments of thegreat. At every turn I met with some illustrious name or the cognizance ofsome powerful house renowned in history. As the eye darts into these duskychambers of death it catches glimpses of quaint effigies—somekneeling in niches, as if in devotion; others stretched upon the tombs,with hands piously pressed together; warriors in armor, as if reposingafter battle; prelates, with crosiers and mitres; and nobles in robes andcoronets, lying as it were in state. In glancing over this scene, sostrangely populous, yet where every form is so still and silent, it seemsalmost as if we were treading a mansion of that fabled city where everybeing had been suddenly transmuted into stone.

I paused to contemplate a tomb on which lay the effigy of a knight incomplete armor. A large buckler was on one arm; the hands were pressedtogether in supplication upon the breast; the face was almost covered bythe morion; the legs were crossed, in token of the warrior’s having beenengaged in the holy war. It was the tomb of a crusader, of one of thosemilitary enthusiasts who so strangely mingled religion and romance, andwhose exploits form the connecting link between fact and fiction, betweenthe history and the fairytale. There is something extremely picturesque inthe tombs of these adventurers, decorated as they are with rude armorialbearings and Gothic sculpture. They comport with the antiquated chapels inwhich they are generally found; and in considering them the imagination isapt to kindle with the legendary associations, the romantic fiction, thechivalrous pomp and pageantry which poetry has spread over the wars forthe sepulchre of Christ. They are the relics of times utterly gone by, ofbeings passed from recollection, of customs and manners with which ourshave no affinity. They are like objects from some strange and distant landof which we have no certain knowledge, and about which all our conceptionsare vague and visionary. There is something extremely solemn and awful inthose effigies on Gothic tombs, extended as if in the sleep of death or inthe supplication of the dying hour. They have an effect infinitely moreimpressive on my feelings than the fanciful attitudes, the over wroughtconceits, the allegorical groups which abound on modern monuments. I havebeen struck, also, with the superiority of many of the old sepulchralinscriptions. There was a noble way in former times of saying thingssimply, and yet saying them proudly; and I do not know an epitaph thatbreathes a loftier consciousness of family worth and honorable lineagethan one which affirms of a noble house that “all the brothers were braveand all the sisters virtuous.”

In the opposite transept to Poet’s Corner stands a monument which is amongthe most renowned achievements of modern art, but which to me appearshorrible rather than sublime. It is the tomb of Mrs. Nightingale, byRoubillac. The bottom of the monument is represented as throwing open itsmarble doors, and a sheeted skeleton is starting forth. The shroud isfalling from his fleshless frame as he launches his dart at his victim.She is sinking into her affrighted husband’s arms, who strives with vainand frantic effort to avert the blow. The whole is executed with terribletruth and spirit; we almost fancy we hear the gibbering yell of triumphbursting from the distended jaws of the spectre. But why should we thusseek to clothe death with unnecessary terrors, and to spread horrors roundthe tomb of those we love? The grave should be surrounded by everythingthat might inspire tenderness and veneration for the dead, or that mightwin the living to virtue. It is the place not of disgust and dismay, butof sorrow and meditation.

While wandering about these gloomy vaults and silent aisles, studying therecords of the dead, the sound of busy existence from without occasionallyreaches the ear—the rumbling of the passing equipage, the murmur ofthe multitude, or perhaps the light laugh of pleasure. The contrast isstriking with the deathlike repose around; and it has a strange effectupon the feelings thus to hear the surges of active life hurrying alongand beating against the very walls of the sepulchre.

I continued in this way to move from tomb to tomb and from chapel tochapel. The day was gradually wearing away; the distant tread of loiterersabout the abbey grew less and less frequent; the sweet-tongued bell wassummoning to evening prayers; and I saw at a distance the choristers intheir white surplices crossing the aisle and entering the choir. I stoodbefore the entrance to Henry the Seventh’s chapel. A flight of steps leadsup to it through a deep and gloomy but magnificent arch. Great gates ofbrass, richly and delicately wrought, turn heavily upon their hinges, asif proudly reluctant to admit the feet of common mortals into this mostgorgeous of sepulchres.

On entering the eye is astonished by the pomp of architecture and theelaborate beauty of sculptured detail. The very walls are wrought intouniversal ornament encrusted with tracery, and scooped into niches crowdedwith the statues of saints and martyrs. Stone seems, by the cunning laborof the chisel, to have been robbed of its weight and density, suspendedaloft as if by magic, and the fretted roof achieved with the wonderfulminuteness and airy security of a cobweb.

Along the sides of the chapel are the lofty stalls of the Knights of theBath, richly carved of oak, though with the grotesque decorations ofGothic architecture. On the pinnacles of the stalls are affixed thehelmets and crests of the knights, with their scarfs and swords, and abovethem are suspended their banners, emblazoned with armorial bearings, andcontrasting the splendor of gold and purple and crimson with the cold grayfretwork of the roof. In the midst of this grand mausoleum stands thesepulchre of its founder—his effigy, with that of his queen,extended on a sumptuous tomb—and the whole surrounded by asuperbly-wrought brazen railing.

There is a sad dreariness in this magnificence, this strange mixture oftombs and trophies, these emblems of living and aspiring ambition, closebeside mementos which show the dust and oblivion in which all must sooneror later terminate. Nothing impresses the mind with a deeper feeling ofloneliness than to tread the silent and deserted scene of former throngand pageant. On looking round on the vacant stalls of the knights andtheir esquires, and on the rows of dusty but gorgeous banners that wereonce borne before them, my imagination conjured up the scene when thishall was bright with the valor and beauty of the land, glittering with thesplendor of jewelled rank and military array, alive with the tread of manyfeet and the hum of an admiring multitude. All had passed away; thesilence of death had settled again upon the place, interrupted only by thecasual chirping of birds, which had found their way into the chapel andbuilt their nests among its friezes and pendants—sure signs ofsolitariness and desertion.

When I read the names inscribed on the banners, they were those of menscattered far and wide about the world—some tossing upon distantseas: some under arms in distant lands; some mingling in the busyintrigues of courts and cabinets,—all seeking to deserve one moredistinction in this mansion of shadowy honors—the melancholy rewardof a monument.

Two small aisles on each side of this chapel present a touching instanceof the equality of the grave, which brings down the oppressor to a levelwith the oppressed and mingles the dust of the bitterest enemies together.In one is the sepulchre of the haughty Elizabeth; in the other is that ofher victim, the lovely and unfortunate Mary. Not an hour in the day butsome ejacul*tion of pity is uttered over the fate of the latter, mingledwith indignation at her oppressor. The walls of Elizabeth’s sepulchrecontinually echo with the sighs of sympathy heaved at the grave of herrival.

A peculiar melancholy reigns over the aisle where Mary lies buried. Thelight struggles dimly through windows darkened by dust. The greater partof the place is in deep shadow, and the walls are stained and tinted bytime and weather. A marble figure of Mary is stretched upon the tomb,round which is an iron railing, much corroded, bearing her national emblem—thethistle. I was weary with wandering, and sat down to rest myself by themonument, revolving in my mind the chequered and disastrous story of poorMary.

The sound of casual footsteps had ceased from the abbey. I could onlyhear, now and then, the distant voice of the priest repeating the eveningservice and the faint responses of the choir; these paused for a time, andall was hushed. The stillness, the desertion, and obscurity that weregradually prevailing around gave a deeper and more solemn interest to theplace;

For in the silent grave no conversation,No joyful tread of friends, no voice of lovers,No careful father’s counsel—nothing’s heard,For nothing is, but all oblivion,Dust, and an endless darkness.

Suddenly the notes of the deep-laboring organ burst upon the ear, fallingwith doubled and redoubled intensity, and rolling, as it were, hugebillows of sound. How well do their volume and grandeur accord with thismighty building! With what pomp do they swell through its vast vaults, andbreathe their awful harmony through these caves of death, and make thesilent sepulchre vocal! And now they rise in triumphant acclamation,heaving higher and higher their accordant notes and piling sound on sound.And now they pause, and the soft voices of the choir break out into sweetgushes of melody; they soar aloft and warble along the roof, and seem toplay about these lofty vaults like the pure airs of heaven. Again thepealing organ heaves its thrilling thunders, compressing air into music,and rolling it forth upon the soul. What long-drawn cadences! What solemnsweeping concords! It grows more and more dense and powerful; it fills thevast pile and seems to jar the very walls—the ear is stunned—thesenses are overwhelmed. And now it is winding up in full jubilee—itis rising from the earth to heaven; the very soul seems rapt away andfloated upwards on this swelling tide of harmony!

I sat for some time lost in that kind of reverie which a strain of musicis apt sometimes to inspire: the shadows of evening were graduallythickening round me; the monuments began to cast deeper and deeper gloom;and the distant clock again gave token of the slowly waning day.

I rose and prepared to leave the abbey. As I descended the flight of stepswhich lead into the body of the building, my eye was caught by the shrineof Edward the Confessor, and I ascended the small staircase that conductsto it, to take from thence a general survey of this wilderness of tombs.The shrine is elevated upon a kind of platform, and close around it arethe sepulchres of various kings and queens. From this eminence the eyelooks down between pillars and funeral trophies to the chapels andchambers below, crowded with tombs, where warriors, prelates, courtiers,and statesmen lie mouldering in their “beds of darkness.” Close by mestood the great chair of coronation, rudely carved of oak in the barbaroustaste of a remote and Gothic age. The scene seemed almost as if contrivedwith theatrical artifice to produce an effect upon the beholder. Here wasa type of the beginning and the end of human pomp and power; here it wasliterally but a step from the throne to the sepulchre. Would not one thinkthat these incongruous mementos had been gathered together as a lesson toliving greatness?—to show it, even in the moment of its proudestexaltation, the neglect and dishonor to which it must soon arrive—howsoon that crown which encircles its brow must pass away, and it must liedown in the dust and disgraces of the tomb, and be trampled upon by thefeet of the meanest of the multitude. For, strange to tell, even the graveis here no longer a sanctuary. There is a shocking levity in some natureswhich leads them to sport with awful and hallowed things, and there arebase minds which delight to revenge on the illustrious dead the abjecthomage and grovelling servility which they pay to the living. The coffinof Edward the Confessor has been broken open, and his remains despoiled oftheir funereal ornaments; the sceptre has been stolen from the hand of theimperious Elizabeth; and the effigy of Henry the Fifth lies headless. Nota royal monument but bears some proof how false and fugitive is the homageof mankind. Some are plundered, some mutilated, some covered with ribaldryand insult,—all more or less outraged and dishonored.

The last beams of day were now faintly streaming through the paintedwindows in the high vaults above me; the lower parts of the abbey werealready wrapped in the obscurity of twilight. The chapels and aisles grewdarker and darker. The effigies of the kings faded into shadows; themarble figures of the monuments assumed strange shapes in the uncertainlight; the evening breeze crept through the aisles like the cold breath ofthe grave; and even the distant footfall of a verger, traversing thePoet’s Corner, had something strange and dreary in its sound. I slowlyretraced my morning’s walk, and as I passed out at the portal of thecloisters, the door, closing with a jarring noise behind me, filled thewhole building with echoes.

I endeavored to form some arrangement in my mind of the objects I had beencontemplating, but found they were already falling into indistinctness andconfusion. Names, inscriptions, trophies, had all become confounded in myrecollection, though I had scarcely taken my foot from off the threshold.What, thought I, is this vast assemblage of sepulchres but a treasury ofhumiliation—a huge pile of reiterated homilies on the emptiness ofrenown and the certainty of oblivion? It is, indeed, the empire of death;his great shadowy palace where he sits in state mocking at the relics ofhuman glory and spreading dust and forgetfulness on the monuments ofprinces. How idle a boast, after all, is the immortality of a name! Timeis ever silently turning over his pages; we are too much engrossed by thestory of the present to think of the characters and anecdotes that gaveinterest to the past; and each age is a volume thrown aside to be speedilyforgotten. The idol of to-day pushes the hero of yesterday out of ourrecollection, and will in turn be supplanted by his successor of tomorrow.“Our fathers,” says Sir Thomas Browne, “find their graves in our shortmemories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors.” History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy;the inscription moulders from the tablet; the statue falls from thepedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand, andtheir epitaphs but characters written in the dust? What is the security ofa tomb or the perpetuity of an embalmment? The remains of Alexander theGreat have been scattered to the wind, and his empty sarcophagus is nowthe mere curiosity of a museum. “The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses ortime hath spared, avarice now consumeth; Mizraim cures wounds, and Pharaohis sold for balsams.” *

What then is to ensure this pile which now towers above me from sharingthe fate of mightier mausoleums? The time must come when its gilded vaultswhich now spring so loftily, shall lie in rubbish beneath the feet; wheninstead of the sound of melody and praise the wind shall whistle throughthe broken arches and the owl hoot from the shattered tower; when thegarish sunbeam shall break into these gloomy mansions of death, and theivy twine round the fallen column; and the fox-glove hang its blossomsabout the nameless urn, as if in mockery of the dead. Thus man passesaway; his name passes from record and recollection; his history is as atale that is told, and his very monument becomes a ruin.

* Sir T. Browne.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (76)



But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair of hisgood, gray old head and beard left? Well, I will have that, seeing Icannot have more of him. HUE AND CRY AFTER CHRISTMAS.

A man might then beholdAt Christmas, in each hallGood fires to curb the cold,And meat for great and small.The neighbors were friendly bidden,And all had welcome true,The poor from the gates were not chiddenWhen this old cap was new.OLD SONG.

NOTHING in England exercises a more delightful spell over my imaginationthan the lingerings of the holiday customs and rural games of formertimes. They recall the pictures my fancy used to draw in the May morningof life, when as yet I only knew the world through books, and believed itto be all that poets had painted it; and they bring with them the flavorof those honest days of yore, in which, perhaps with equal fallacy, I amapt to think the world was more homebred, social, and joyous than atpresent. I regret to say that they are daily growing more and more faint,being gradually worn away by time, but still more obliterated by modernfashion. They resemble those picturesque morsels of Gothic architecturewhich we see crumbling in various parts of the country, partly dilapidatedby the waste of ages and partly lost in the additions and alterations oflatter days. Poetry, however, clings with cherishing fondness about therural game and holiday revel from which it has derived so many of itsthemes, as the ivy winds its rich foliage about the Gothic arch andmouldering tower, gratefully repaying their support by clasping togethertheir tottering remains, and, as it were, embalming them in verdure.

Of all the old festivals, however, that of Christmas awakens the strongestand most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and sacredfeeling that blends with our conviviality and lifts the spirit to a stateof hallowed and elevated enjoyment. The services of the Church about thisseason are extremely tender and inspiring. They dwell on the beautifulstory of the origin of our faith and the pastoral scenes that accompaniedits announcement. They gradually increase in fervor and pathos during theseason of Advent, until they break forth in full jubilee on the morningthat brought peace and good-will to men. I do not know a grander effect ofmusic on the moral feelings than to hear the full choir and the pealingorgan performing a Christmas anthem in a cathedral, and filling every partof the vast pile with triumphant harmony.

It is a beautiful arrangement, also, derived from days of yore, that thisfestival, which commemorates the announcement of the religion of peace andlove, has been made the season for gathering together of familyconnections, and drawing closer again those bands of kindred hearts whichthe cares and pleasures and sorrows of the world are continually operatingto cast loose; of calling back the children of a family who have launchedforth in life and wandered widely asunder, once more to assemble about thepaternal hearth, that rallying-place of the affections, there to growyoung and loving again among the endearing mementos of childhood.

There is something in the very season of the year that gives a charm tothe festivity of Christmas. At other times we derive a great portion ofour pleasures from the mere beauties of Nature. Our feelings sally forthand dissipate themselves over the sunny landscape, and we “live abroad andeverywhere.” The song of the bird, the murmur of the stream, the breathingfragrance of spring, the soft voluptuousness of summer, the golden pomp ofautumn, earth with its mantle of refreshing green, and heaven with it deepdelicious blue and its cloudy magnificence,—all fill us with mutebut exquisite delight, and we revel in the luxury of mere sensation. Butin the depth of winter, when Nature lies despoiled of every charm andwrapped in her shroud of sheeted snow, we turn for our gratifications tomoral sources. The dreariness and desolation of the landscape, the shortgloomy days and darksome nights, while they circ*mscribe our wanderings,shut in our feelings also from rambling abroad, and make us more keenlydisposed for the pleasure of the social circle. Our thoughts are moreconcentrated; our friendly sympathies more aroused. We feel more sensiblythe charm of each other’s society, and are brought more closely togetherby dependence on each other for enjoyment. Heart calleth unto heart, andwe draw our pleasures from the deep wells of loving-kindness which lie inthe quiet recesses of our bosoms, and which, when resorted to, furnishforth the pure element of domestic felicity.

The pitchy gloom without makes the heart dilate on entering the roomfilled with the glow and warmth of the evening fire. The ruddy blazediffuses an artificial summer and sunshine through the room, and lights upeach countenance in a kindlier welcome. Where does the honest face ofhospitality expand into a broader and more cordial smile, where is the shyglance of love more sweetly eloquent, than by the winter fireside? and asthe hollow blast of wintry wind rushes through the hall, claps the distantdoor, whistles about the casem*nt, and rumbles down the chimney, what canbe more grateful than that feeling of sober and sheltered security withwhich we look round upon the comfortable chamber and the scene of domestichilarity?

The English, from the great prevalence of rural habit throughout everyclass of society, have always been found of those festivals and holidays,which agreeably interrupt the stillness of country life, and they were, informer days, particularly observant of the religious and social rites ofChristmas. It is inspiring to read even the dry details which someantiquaries have given of the quaint humors, the burlesque pageants, thecomplete abandonment to mirth and good-fellowship with which this festivalwas celebrated. It seemed to throw open every door and unlock every heart.It brought the peasant and the peer together, and blended all ranks in onewarm, generous flow of joy and kindness. The old halls of castles andmanor-houses resounded with the harp and the Christmas carol, and theirample boards groaned under the weight of hospitality. Even the poorestcottage welcomed the festive season with green decorations of bay andholly—the cheerful fire glanced its rays through the lattice,inviting the passengers to raise the latch and join the gossip knothuddled round the hearth beguiling the long evening with legendary jokesand oft-told Christmas tales.

One of the least pleasing effects of modern refinement is the havoc it hasmade among the hearty old holiday customs. It has completely taken off thesharp touchings and spirited reliefs of these embellishments of life, andhas worn down society into a more smooth and polished, but certainly aless characteristic, surface. Many of the games and ceremonials ofChristmas have entirely disappeared, and, like the sherris sack of oldFalstaff, are become matters of speculation and dispute amongcommentators. They flourished in times full of spirit and lustihood, whenmen enjoyed life roughly, but heartily and vigorously—times wild andpicturesque, which have furnished poetry with its richest materials andthe drama with its most attractive variety of characters and manners. Theworld has become more worldly. There is more of dissipation, and less ofenjoyment. Pleasure has expanded into a broader, but a shallower stream,and has forsaken many of those deep and quiet channels where it flowedsweetly through the calm bosom of domestic life. Society has acquired amore enlightened and elegant tone, but it has lost many of its stronglocal peculiarities, its homebred feelings, its honest fireside delights.The traditionary customs of golden-hearted antiquity, its feudalhospitalities, and lordly wassailings, have passed away with the baronialcastles and stately manor-houses in which they were celebrated. Theycomported with the shadowy hall, the great oaken gallery, and thetapestried parlor, but are unfitted to the light showy saloons and gaydrawing-rooms of the modern villa.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (77)


Shorn, however, as it is, of its ancient and festive honors, Christmas isstill a period of delightful excitement in England. It is gratifying tosee that home-feeling completely aroused which holds so powerful a placein every English bosom. The preparations making on every side for thesocial board that is again to unite friends and kindred; the presents ofgood cheer passing and repassing, those tokens of regard and quickeners ofkind feelings; the evergreens distributed about houses and churches,emblems of peace and gladness,—all these have the most pleasingeffect in producing fond associations and kindling benevolent sympathies.Even the sound of the Waits, rude as may be their minstrelsy, breaks uponthe mid-watches of a winter night with the effect of perfect harmony. As Ihave been awakened by them in that still and solemn hour “when deep sleepfalleth upon man,” I have listened with a hushed delight, and, connectingthem with the sacred and joyous occasion, have almost fancied them intoanother celestial choir announcing peace and good-will to mankind.

How delightfully the imagination, when wrought upon by these moralinfluences, turns everything to melody and beauty! The very crowing of theco*ck, heard sometimes in the profound repose of the country, “telling thenight-watches to his feathery dames,” was thought by the common people toannounce the approach of this sacred festival.

“Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comesWherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,This bird of dawning singeth all night long;And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad,The nights are wholesome—then no planets strike,No fairy takes, no witch hath power to charm,So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.” 

Amidst the general call to happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and stirof the affections which prevail at this period what bosom can remaininsensible? It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling—theseason for kindling not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, butthe genial flame of charity in the heart.

The scene of early love again rises green to memory beyond the sterilewaste of years; and the idea of home, fraught with the fragrance ofhome-dwelling joys, reanimates the drooping spirit, as the Arabian breezewill sometimes waft the freshness of the distant fields to the wearypilgrim of the desert.

Stranger and sojourner as I am in the land, though for me no social hearthmay blaze, no hospitable roof throw open its doors, nor the warm grasp offriendship welcome me at the threshold, yet I feel the influence of theseason beaming into my soul from the happy looks of those around me.Surely happiness is reflective, like the light of heaven, and everycountenance, bright with smiles and glowing with innocent enjoyment, is amirror transmitting to others the rays of a supreme and ever-shiningbenevolence. He who can turn churlishly away from contemplating thefelicity of his fellow-beings, and can sit down darkling and repining inhis loneliness when all around is joyful, may have his moments of strongexcitement and selfish gratification, but he wants the genial and socialsympathies which constitute the charm of a merry Christmas.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (78)



Omne beneSine poenaTempua est ludendi.Venit horaAbsque moraLibros deponendi.OLD HOLIDAY SCHOOL-SONG.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (79)

IN the preceding paper I have made some general observations on theChristmas festivities of England, and am tempted to illustrate them bysome anecdotes of a Christmas passed in the country; in perusing which Iwould most courteously invite my reader to lay aside the austerity ofwisdom, and to put on that genuine holiday spirit which is tolerant offolly and anxious only for amusem*nt.

In the course of a December tour in Yorkshire, I rode for a long distancein one of the public coaches on the day preceding Christmas. The coach wascrowded, both inside and out, with passengers who, by their talk, seemedprincipally bound to the mansions of relations or friends to eat theChristmas dinner. It was loaded also with hampers of game and baskets andboxes of delicacies, and hares hung dangling their long ears about thecoachman’s box, presents from distant friends for the impending feast. Ihad three fine rosy-cheeked school boys for my fellow-passengers inside,full of the buxom health and manly spirit which I have observed in thechildren of this country. They were returning home for the holidays inhigh glee, and promising themselves a world of enjoyment. It wasdelightful to hear the gigantic plans of the little rogues, and theimpracticable feats they were to perform during their six weeks’emancipation from the abhorred thraldom of book, birch, and pedagogue.They were full of anticipations of the meeting with the family andhousehold, down to the very cat and dog, and of the joy they were to givetheir little sisters by the presents with which their pockets werecrammed; but the meeting to which they seemed to look forward with thegreatest impatience was with Bantam, which I found to be a pony, and,according to their talk, possessed of more virtues than any steed sincethe days of Bucephalus. How he could trot! how he could run! and then suchleaps as he would take!—there was not a hedge in the whole countrythat he could not clear.

They were under the particular guardianship of the coachman, to whom,whenever an opportunity presented, they addressed a host of questions, andpronounced him one of the best fellows in the world. Indeed, I could notbut notice the more than ordinary air of bustle and importance of thecoachman, who wore his hat a little on one side and had a large bunch ofChristmas greens stuck in the buttonhole of his coat. He is always apersonage full of mighty care and business, but he is particularly soduring this season, having so many commissions to execute in consequenceof the great interchange of presents. And here, perhaps, it may not beunacceptable to my untravelled readers to have a sketch that may serve asa general representation of this very numerous and important class offunctionaries, who have a dress, a manner, a language, an air peculiar tothemselves and prevalent throughout the fraternity; so that wherever anEnglish stage-coachman may be seen he cannot be mistaken for one of anyother craft or mystery.

He has commonly a broad, full face, curiously mottled with red, as if theblood had been forced by hard feeding into every vessel of the skin; he isswelled into jolly dimensions by frequent potations of malt liquors, andhis bulk is still further increased by a multiplicity of coats, in whichhe is buried like a cauliflower, the upper one reaching to his heels. Hewears a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat; a huge roll of coloredhandkerchief about his neck, knowingly knotted and tucked in at the bosom;and has in summer-time a large bouquet of flowers in his buttonhole, thepresent, most probably, of some enamored country lass. His waistcoat iscommonly of some bright color, striped, and his small-clothes extend farbelow the knees, to meet a pair of jockey boots which reach about halfwayup his legs.

All this costume is maintained with much precision; he has a pride inhaving his clothes of excellent materials, and, notwithstanding theseeming grossness of his appearance, there is still discernible thatneatness and propriety of person which is almost inherent in anEnglishman. He enjoys great consequence and consideration along the road;has frequent conferences with the village housewives, who look upon him asa man of great trust and dependence; and he seems to have a goodunderstanding with every bright-eyed country lass. The moment he arriveswhere the horses are to be changed, he throws down the reins withsomething of an air and abandons the cattle to the care of the ostler, hisduty being merely to drive from one stage to another. When off the box hishands are thrust into the pockets of his great coat, and he rolls aboutthe inn-yard with an air of the most absolute lordliness. Here he isgenerally surrounded by an admiring throng of ostlers, stableboys,shoeblacks, and those nameless hangers-on that infest inns and taverns,and run errands and do all kind of odd jobs for the privilege of batteningon the drippings of the kitchen and the leakage of the tap-room. These alllook up to him as to an oracle, treasure up his cant phrases, echo hisopinions about horses and other topics of jockey lore, and, above all,endeavor to imitate his air and carriage. Every ragamuffin that has a coatto his back thrusts his hands in the pockets, rolls in his gait, talksslang, and is an embryo Coachey.

Perhaps it might be owing to the pleasing serenity that reigned in my ownmind that I fancied I saw cheerfulness in every countenance throughout thejourney. A stage-coach, however, carries animation always with it, andputs the world in motion as it whirls along. The horn, sounded at theentrance of the village, produces a general bustle. Some hasten forth tomeet friends; some with bundles and bandboxes to secure places, and in thehurry of the moment can hardly take leave of the group that accompaniesthem. In the meantime the coachman has a world of small commissions toexecute. Sometimes he delivers a hare or pheasant; sometimes jerks a smallparcel or newspaper to the door of a public house; and sometimes, withknowing leer and words of sly import, hands to some half-blushing,half-laughing house-maid an odd-shaped billet-doux from some rusticadmirer. As the coach rattles through the village every one runs to thewindow, and you have glances on every side of fresh country faces andblooming giggling girls. At the corners are assembled juntos of villageidlers and wise men, who take their stations there for the importantpurpose of seeing company pass; but the sagest knot is generally at theblacksmith’s, to whom the passing of the coach is an event fruitful ofmuch speculation. The smith, with the horse’s heel in his lap, pauses asthe vehicle whirls by; the cyclops round the anvil suspend their ringinghammers and suffer the iron to grow cool; and the sooty spectre in brownpaper cap laboring at the bellows leans on the handle for a moment, andpermits the asthmatic engine to heave a long-drawn sigh, while he glaresthrough the murky smoke and sulphurous gleams of the smithy.

Perhaps the impending holiday might have given a more than usual animationto the country, for it seemed to me as if everybody was in good looks andgood spirits. Game, poultry, and other luxuries of the table were in briskcirculation in the villages; the grocers’, butchers’, and fruiterers’shops were thronged with customers. The housewives were stirring brisklyabout, putting their dwellings in order, and the glossy branches of hollywith their bright-red berries began to appear at the windows. The scenebrought to mind an old writer’s account of Christmas preparation: “Nowcapons and hens, besides turkeys, geese, and ducks, with beef and mutton,must all die, for in twelve days a multitude of people will not be fedwith a little. Now plums and spice, sugar and honey, square it among piesand broth. Now or never must music be in tune, for the youth must danceand sing to get them a heat, while the aged sit by the fire. The countrymaid leaves half her market, and must be sent again if she forgets a packof cards on Christmas Eve. Great is the contention of holly and ivywhether master or dame wears the breeches. Dice and cards benefit thebutler; and if the cook do not lack wit, he will sweetly lick hisfingers.”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (80)


I was roused from this fit of luxurious meditation by a shout from mylittle travelling companions. They had been looking out of thecoach-windows for the last few miles, recognizing every tree and cottageas they approached home, and now there was a general burst of joy.“There’s John! and there’s old Carlo! and there’s Bantam!” cried the happylittle rogues, clapping their hands.

At the end of a lane there was an old sober-looking servant in liverywaiting for them; he was accompanied by a superannuated pointer and by theredoubtable Bantam, a little old rat of a pony with a shaggy mane and longrusty tail, who stood dozing quietly by the roadside, little dreaming ofthe bustling times that awaited him.

I was pleased to see the fondness with which the little fellows leapedabout the steady old footman and hugged the pointer, who wriggled hiswhole body for joy. But Bantam was the great object of interest; allwanted to mount at once, and it was with some difficulty that Johnarranged that they should ride by turns and the eldest should ride first.

Off they set at last, one on the pony, with the dog bounding and barkingbefore him, and the others holding John’s hands, both talking at once andoverpowering him with questions about home and with school anecdotes. Ilooked after them with a feeling in which I do not know whether pleasureor melancholy predominated; for I was reminded of those days when, likethem, I had known neither care nor sorrow and a holiday was the summit ofearthly felicity. We stopped a few moments afterwards to water the horses,and on resuming our route a turn of the road brought us in sight of a neatcountry-seat. I could just distinguish the forms of a lady and two younggirls in the portico, and I saw my little comrades, with Bantam, Carlo,and old John, trooping along the carriage-road. I leaned out of thecoach-window, in hopes of witnessing the happy meeting, but a grove oftrees shut it from my sight.

In the evening we reached a village where I had determined to pass thenight. As we drove into the great gateway of the inn, I saw on one sidethe light of a rousing kitchen-fire beaming through a window. I entered,and admired, for the hundredth time, that picture of convenience,neatness, and broad honest enjoyment, the kitchen of an English inn. Itwas of spacious dimensions, hung round with copper and tin vessels highlypolished, and decorated here and there with a Christmas green. Hams,tongues, and flitches of bacon were suspended from the ceiling; asmoke-jack made its ceaseless clanking beside the fireplace, and a clockticked in one corner. A well-scoured deal table extended along one side ofthe kitchen, with a cold round of beef and other hearty viands upon it,over which two foaming tankards of ale seemed mounting guard. Travellersof inferior order were preparing to attack this stout repast, while otherssat smoking and gossiping over their ale on two high-backed oaken settlesbeside the fire. Trim housemaids were hurrying backwards and forwardsunder the directions of a fresh bustling landlady, but still seizing anoccasional moment to exchange a flippant word and have a rallying laughwith the group round the fire. The scene completely realized Poor Robin’shumble idea of the comforts of midwinter:

Now trees their leafy hats do bareTo reverence Winter’s silver hair;A handsome hostess, merry host,A pot of ale now and a toast,Tobacco and a good coal fire,Are things this season doth require.*
* Poor Robin’s Almanack, 1684.

I had not been long at the inn when a post-chaise drove up to the door. Ayoung gentleman stept out, and by the light of the lamps I caught aglimpse of a countenance which I thought I knew. I moved forward to get anearer view, when his eye caught mine. I was not mistaken; it was FrankBracebridge, a sprightly, good-humored young fellow with whom I had oncetravelled on the Continent. Our meeting was extremely cordial, for thecountenance of an old fellow-traveller always brings up the recollectionof a thousand pleasant scenes, odd adventures, and excellent jokes. Todiscuss all these in a transient interview at an inn was impossible; and,finding that I was not pressed for time and was merely making a tour ofobservation, he insisted that I should give him a day or two at hisfather’s country-seat, to which he was going to pass the holidays andwhich lay at a few miles’ distance. “It is better than eating a solitaryChristmas dinner at an inn,” said he, “and I can assure you of a heartywelcome in something of the old-fashioned style.” His reasoning wascogent, and I must confess the preparation I had seen for universalfestivity and social enjoyment had made me feel a little impatient of myloneliness. I closed, therefore, at once with his invitation; the chaisedrove up to the door, and in a few moments I was on my way to the familymansion of the Bracebridges.


Saint Francis and Saint BenedightBlesse this house from wicked wight;From the night-mare and the goblin,That is hight good fellow Robin;Keep it from all evil spirits,Fairies, weezels, rats, and ferrets:From curfew timeTo the next prime.CARTWRIGHT.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (81)

IT was a brilliant moonlight night, but extremely cold; our chaise whirledrapidly over the frozen ground; the postboy smacked his whip incessantly,and a part of the time his horses were on a gallop. “He knows where he isgoing,” said my companion, laughing, “and is eager to arrive in time forsome of the merriment and good cheer of the servants’ hall. My father, youmust know, is a bigoted devotee of the old school, and prides himself uponkeeping up something of old English hospitality. He is a tolerablespecimen of what you will rarely meet with nowadays in its purity, the oldEnglish country gentleman; for our men of fortune spend so much of theirtime in town, and fashion is carried so much into the country, that thestrong rich peculiarities of ancient rural life are almost polished away.My father, however, from early years, took honest Peacham* for histextbook, instead of Chesterfield; he determined in his own mind thatthere was no condition more truly honorable and enviable than that of acountry gentleman on his paternal lands, and therefore passes the whole ofhis time on his estate. He is a strenuous advocate for the revival of theold rural games and holiday observances, and is deeply read in thewriters, ancient and modern, who have treated on the subject. Indeed, hisfavorite range of reading is among the authors who flourished at least twocenturies since, who, he insists, wrote and thought more like trueEnglishmen than any of their successors. He even regrets sometimes that hehad not been born a few centuries earlier, when England was itself and hadits peculiar manners and customs. As he lives at some distance from themain road, in rather a lonely part of the country, without any rivalgentry near him, he has that most enviable of all blessings to anEnglishman—an opportunity of indulging the bent of his own humorwithout molestation. Being representative of the oldest family in theneighborhood, and a great part of the peasantry being his tenants, he ismuch looked up to, and in general is known simply by the appellation of‘The Squire’—a title which has been accorded to the head of thefamily since time immemorial. I think it best to give you these hintsabout my worthy old father, to prepare you for any eccentricities thatmight otherwise appear absurd.”

* Peacham’s Complete Gentleman, 1622.

We had passed for some time along the wall of a park, and at length thechaise stopped at the gate. It was in a heavy, magnificent old style, ofiron bars fancifully wrought at top into flourishes and flowers. The hugesquare columns that supported the gate were surmounted by the familycrest. Close adjoining was the porter’s lodge, sheltered under dark firtrees and almost buried in shrubbery.

The postboy rang a large porter’s bell, which resounded though the stillfrosty air, and was answered by the distant barking of dogs, with whichthe mansion-house seemed garrisoned. An old woman immediately appeared atthe gate. As the moonlight fell strongly upon her, I had a full view of alittle primitive dame, dressed very much in the antique taste, with a neatkerchief and stomacher, and her silver hair peeping from under a cap ofsnowy whiteness. She came curtseying forth, with many expressions ofsimple joy at seeing her young master. Her husband, it seemed, was up atthe house keeping Christmas Eve in the servants’ hall; they could not dowithout him, as he was the best hand at a song and story in the household.

My friend proposed that we should alight and walk through the park to thehall, which was at no great distance, while the chaise should follow on.Our road wound through a noble avenue of trees, among the naked branchesof which the moon glittered as she rolled through the deep vault of acloudless sky. The lawn beyond was sheeted with a slight covering of snow,which here and there sparkled as the moonbeams caught a frosty crystal,and at a distance might be seen a thin transparent vapor stealing up fromthe low grounds and threatening gradually to shroud the landscape.

My companion looked around him with transport. “How often,” said he, “haveI scampered up this avenue on returning home on school vacations! Howoften have I played under these trees when a boy! I feel a degree offilial reverence for them, as we look up to those who have cherished us inchildhood. My father was always scrupulous in exacting our holidays andhaving us around him on family festivals. He used to direct andsuperintend our games with the strictness that some parents do the studiesof their children. He was very particular that we should play the oldEnglish games according to their original form, and consulted old booksfor precedent and authority for every ‘merrie disport;’ yet I assure youthere never was pedantry so delightful. It was the policy of the good oldgentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place inthe world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicestgifts a parent could bestow.”

We were interrupted by the clamor of a troop of dogs of all sorts andsizes, “mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound, and curs of lower degree,” thatdisturbed by the ring of the porter’s bell and the rattling of the chaise,came bounding, open-mouthed, across the lawn.

“‘——The little dogs and all, Tray, Blanch,and Sweetheart, see, they bark at me!’” 

cried Bracebridge, laughing. At the sound of his voice the bark waschanged into a yelp of delight, and in a moment he was surrounded andalmost overpowered by the caresses of the faithful animals.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (82)


We had now come in full view of the old family mansion, partly thrown indeep shadow and partly lit up by the cold moonshine. It was an irregularbuilding of some magnitude, and seemed to be of the architecture ofdifferent periods. One wing was evidently very ancient, with heavystone-shafted bow windows jutting out and overrun with ivy, from among thefoliage of which the small diamond-shaped panes of glass glittered withthe moonbeams. The rest of the house was in the French taste of Charlesthe Second’s time, having been repaired and altered, as my friend told me,by one of his ancestors who returned with that monarch at the Restoration.The grounds about the house were laid out in the old formal manner ofartificial flower-beds, clipped shrubberies, raised terraces, and heavystone balustrades, ornamented with urns, a leaden statue or two, and a jetof water. The old gentleman, I was told, was extremely careful to preservethis obsolete finery in all its original state. He admired this fashion ingardening; it had an air of magnificence, was courtly and noble, andbefitting good old family style. The boasted imitation of Nature in moderngardening had sprung up with modern republican notions, but did not suit amonarchical government; it smacked of the leveling system. I could nothelp smiling at this introduction of politics into gardening, though Iexpressed some apprehension that I should find the old gentleman ratherintolerant in his creed. Frank assured me, however, that it was almost theonly instance in which he had ever heard his father meddle with politics;and he believed that he had got this notion from a member of Parliamentwho once passed a few weeks with him. The squire was glad of any argumentto defend his clipped yew trees and formal terraces, which had beenoccasionally attacked by modern landscape gardeners.

As we approached the house we heard the sound of music, and now and then aburst of laughter from one end of the building. This, Bracebridge said,must proceed from the servants’ hall, where a great deal of revelry waspermitted, and even encouraged, by the squire throughout the twelve daysof Christmas, provided everything was done conformably to ancient usage.Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hotco*ckles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule-clogand Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with itswhite berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the prettyhousemaids.*

* The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchensat Christmas, and the young men have the privilege ofkissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry fromthe bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilegeceases.

So intent were the servants upon their sports that we had to ringrepeatedly before we could make ourselves heard. On our arrival beingannounced the squire came out to receive us, accompanied by his two othersons—one a young officer in the army, home on a leave of absence;the other an Oxonian, just from the university. The squire was a finehealthy-looking old gentleman, with silver hair curling lightly round anopen florid countenance, in which the physiognomist, with the advantage,like myself, of a previous hint or two, might discover a singular mixtureof whim and benevolence.

The family meeting was warm and affectionate; as the evening was faradvanced, the squire would not permit us to change our travelling dresses,but ushered us at once to the company, which was assembled in a largeold-fashioned hall. It was composed of different branches of a numerousfamily connection, where there were the usual proportion of old uncles andaunts, comfortable married dames, superannuated spinsters, bloomingcountry cousins, half-fledged striplings, and bright-eyed boarding-schoolhoydens. They were variously occupied—some at a round game of cards;others conversing around the fireplace; at one end of the hall was a groupof the young folks, some nearly grown up, others of a more tender andbudding age, fully engrossed by a merry game; and a profusion of woodenhorses, penny trumpets, and tattered dolls about the floor showed tracesof a troop of little fairy beings who, having frolicked through a happyday, had been carried off to slumber through a peaceful night.

While the mutual greetings were going on between young Bracebridge and hisrelatives I had time to scan the apartment. I have called it a hall, forso it had certainly been in old times, and the squire had evidentlyendeavored to restore it to something of its primitive state. Over theheavy projecting fireplace was suspended a picture of a warrior in armor,standing by a white horse, and on the opposite wall hung a helmet,buckler, and lance. At one end an enormous pair of antlers were insertedin the wall, the branches serving as hooks on which to suspend hats,whips, and spurs, and in the corners of the apartment were fowling-pieces,fishing-rods, and other sporting implements. The furniture was of thecumbrous workmanship of former days, though some articles of modernconvenience had been added and the oaken floor had been carpeted, so thatthe whole presented an odd mixture of parlor and hall.

The grate had been removed from the wide overwhelming fireplace to makeway for a fire of wood, in the midst of which was an enormous log glowingand blazing, and sending forth a vast volume of light and heat: this, Iunderstood, was the Yule-clog, which the squire was particular in havingbrought in and illumined on a Christmas Eve, according to ancient custom.*

* The Yule-clog is a great log of wood, sometimes the rootof a tree, brought into the house with great ceremony onChristmas Eve, laid in the fireplace, and lighted with thebrand of last year’s clog. While it lasted there was greatdrinking, singing, and telling of tales. Sometimes it wasaccompanied by Christmas candles; but in the cottages theonly light was from the ruddy blaze of the great wood fire.The Yule-clog was to burn all night; if it went out, it wasconsidered a sign of ill luck.

Herrick mentions it in one of his songs:

Come, bring with a noise,My metric, merrie boys,The Christmas Log to the firing;While my good dame, sheBids ye all be free,And drink to your hearts’ desiring.

The Yule-clog is still burnt in many farm-houses and kitchens in England,particularly in the north, and there are several superstitions connectedwith it among the peasantry. If a squinting person come to the house whileit is burning, or a person barefooted, it is considered an ill omen. Thebrand remaining from the Yule-clog is carefully put away to light the nextyear’s Christmas fire.

It was really delightful to see the old squire seated in his hereditaryelbow-chair by the hospitable fireside of his ancestors, and lookingaround him like the sun of a system, beaming warmth and gladness to everyheart. Even the very dog that lay stretched at his feet, as he lazilyshifted his position and yawned would look fondly up in his master’s face,wag his tail against the floor, and stretch himself again to sleep,confident of kindness and protection. There is an emanation from the heartin genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately feltand puts the stranger at once at his ease. I had not been seated manyminutes by the comfortable hearth of the worthy old cavalier before Ifound myself as much at home as if I had been one of the family.

Supper was announced shortly after our arrival. It was served up in aspacious oaken chamber, the panels of which shone with wax, and aroundwhich were several family portraits decorated with holly and ivy. Besidesthe accustomed lights, two great wax tapers, called Christmas candles,wreathed with greens, were placed on a highly polished beaufet among thefamily plate. The table was abundantly spread with substantial fare; butthe squire made his supper of frumenty, a dish made of wheat cakes boiledin milk with rich spices, being a standing dish in old times for ChristmasEve. I was happy to find my old friend, minced pie, in the retinue of thefeast and, finding him to be perfectly orthodox, and that I need not beashamed of my predilection, I greeted him with all the warmth wherewith weusually greet an old and very genteel acquaintance.

The mirth of the company was greatly promoted by the humors of aneccentric personage whom Mr. Bracebridge always addressed with the quaintappellation of Master Simon. He was a tight brisk little man, with the airof an arrant old bachelor. His nose was shaped like the bill of a parrot;his face slightly pitted with the small-pox, with a dry perpetual bloom onit, like a frostbitten leaf in autumn. He had an eye of great quicknessand vivacity, with a drollery and lurking waggery of expression that wasirresistible. He was evidently the wit of the family, dealing very much insly jokes and innuendoes with the ladies, and making infinite merriment byharping upon old themes, which, unfortunately, my ignorance of the familychronicles did not permit me to enjoy. It seemed to be his great delightduring supper to keep a young girl next to him in a continual agony ofstifled laughter, in spite of her awe of the reproving looks of hermother, who sat opposite. Indeed, he was the idol of the younger part ofthe company, who laughed at everything he said or did and at every turn ofhis countenance. I could not wonder at it; for he must have been a miracleof accomplishments in their eyes. He could imitate Punch and Judy; make anold woman of his hand, with the assistance of a burnt cork andpocket-handkerchief; and cut an orange into such a ludicrous caricaturethat the young folks were ready to die with laughing.

I was let briefly into his history by Frank Bracebridge. He was an oldbachelor, of a small independent income, which by careful management wassufficient for all his wants. He revolved through the family system like avagrant comet in its orbit, sometimes visiting one branch, and sometimesanother quite remote, as is often the case with gentlemen of extensiveconnections and small fortunes in England. He had a chirping, buoyantdisposition, always enjoying the present moment; and his frequent changeof scene and company prevented his acquiring those rusty, unaccommodatinghabits with which old bachelors are so uncharitably charged. He was acomplete family chronicle, being versed in the genealogy, history, andintermarriages of the whole house of Bracebridge, which made him a greatfavorite with the old folks; he was a beau of all the elder ladies andsuperannuated spinsters, among whom he was habitually considered rather ayoung fellow; and he was master of the revels among the children, so thatthere was not a more popular being in the sphere in which he moved thanMr. Simon Bracebridge. Of late years he had resided almost entirely withthe squire, to whom he had become a factotum, and whom he particularlydelighted by jumping with his humor in respect to old times and by havinga scrap of an old song to suit every occasion. We had presently a specimenof his last-mentioned talent, for no sooner was supper removed and spicedwines and other beverages peculiar to the season introduced, than MasterSimon was called on for a good old Christmas song. He bethought himselffor a moment, and then, with a sparkle of the eye and a voice that was byno means bad, excepting that it ran occasionally into a falsetto like thenotes of a split reed, he quavered forth a quaint old ditty:

Now Christmas is come,Let us beat up the drum,And call all our neighbors together;And when they appear,Let us make them such cheer,As will keep out the wind and the weather, &c.

The supper had disposed every one to gayety, and an old harper wassummoned from the servants’ hall, where he had been strumming all theevening, and to all appearance comforting himself with some of thesquire’s home-brewed. He was a kind of hanger-on, I was told, of theestablishment, and, though ostensibly a resident of the village, wasoftener to be found in the squire’s kitchen than his own home, the oldgentleman being fond of the sound of “harp in hall.”

The dance, like most dances after supper, was a merry one: some of theolder folks joined in it, and the squire himself figured down severalcouple with a partner with whom he affirmed he had danced at everyChristmas for nearly half a century. Master Simon, who seemed to be a kindof connecting link between the old times and the new, and to be withal alittle antiquated in the taste of his accomplishments, evidently piquedhimself on his dancing, and was endeavoring to gain credit by the heel andtoe, rigadoon, and other graces of the ancient school; but he hadunluckily assorted himself with a little romping girl fromboarding-school, who by her wild vivacity kept him continually on thestretch and defeated all his sober attempts at elegance: such are theill-sorted matches to which antique gentlemen are unfortunately prone.

The young Oxonian, on the contrary, had led out one of his maiden aunts,on whom the rogue played a thousand little knaveries with impunity: he wasfull of practical jokes, and his delight was to tease his aunts andcousins, yet, like all madcap youngsters, he was a universal favoriteamong the women. The most interesting couple in the dance was the youngofficer and a ward of the squire’s, a beautiful blushing girl ofseventeen. From several shy glances which I had noticed in the course ofthe evening I suspected there was a little kindness growing up betweenthem; and indeed the young soldier was just the hero to captivate aromantic girl. He was tall, slender, and handsome, and, like most youngBritish officers of late years, had picked up various smallaccomplishments on the Continent: he could talk French and Italian, drawlandscapes, sing very tolerably, dance divinely, but, above all, he hadbeen wounded at Waterloo. What girl of seventeen, well read in poetry andromance, could resist such a mirror of chivalry and perfection?

The moment the dance was over he caught up a guitar, and, lolling againstthe old marble fireplace in an attitude which I am half inclined tosuspect was studied, began the little French air of the Troubadour. Thesquire, however, exclaimed against having anything on Christmas Eve butgood old English; upon which the young minstrel, casting up his eye for amoment as if in an effort of memory, struck into another strain, and witha charming air of gallantry gave Herrick’s “Night-Piece to Julia:”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (83)

Her eyes the glow-worm lend thee,The shooting stars attend thee,And the elves also,Whose little eyes glowLike the sparks of fire, befriend thee.No Will-o’-the-Wisp mislight thee;Nor snake nor slow-worm bite thee;But on thy way,Not making a stay,Since ghost there is none to affright thee,Then let not the dark thee cumber;What though the moon does slumber,The stars of the nightWill lend thee their light,Like tapers clear without number.Then, Julia, let me woo thee,Thus, thus to come unto me,And when I shall meetThy silvery feet,My soul I’ll pour into thee.

The song might or might not have been intended in compliment to the fairJulia, for so I found his partner was called; she, however, was certainlyunconscious of any such application, for she never looked at the singer,but kept her eyes cast upon the floor. Her face was suffused, it is true,with a beautiful blush, and there was a gentle heaving of the bosom, butall that was doubtless caused by the exercise of the dance; indeed, sogreat was her indifference that she amused herself with plucking to piecesa choice bouquet of hot-house flowers, and by the time the song wasconcluded the nosegay lay in ruins on the floor.

The party now broke up for the night with the kind-hearted old custom ofshaking hands. As I passed through the hall on my way to my chamber, thedying embers of the Yule-clog still sent forth a dusky glow, and had itnot been the season when “no spirit dares stir abroad,” I should have beenhalf tempted to steal from my room at midnight and peep whether thefairies might not be at their revels about the hearth.

My chamber was in the old part of the mansion, the ponderous furniture ofwhich might have been fabricated in the days of the giants. The room waspanelled, with cornices of heavy carved work, in which flowers andgrotesque faces were strangely intermingled, and a row of black-lookingportraits stared mournfully at me from the walls. The bed was of richthough faded damask, with a lofty tester, and stood in a niche opposite abow window. I had scarcely got into bed when a strain of music seemed tobreak forth in the air just below the window. I listened, and found itproceeded from a band which I concluded to be the Waits from someneighboring village. They went round the house, playing under the windows.I drew aside the curtains to hear them more distinctly. The moonbeams fellthrough the upper part of the casem*nt; partially lighting up theantiquated apartment. The sounds, as they receded, became more soft andaerial, and seemed to accord with the quiet and moonlight. I listened andlistened—they became more and more tender and remote, and, as theygradually died away, my head sunk upon the pillow and I fell asleep.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (84)



Dark and dull night, flie hence away,And give the honor to this dayThat sees December turn’d to May.. . . . . . .Why does the chilling winter’s morneSmile like a field beset with corn?Or smell like to a meade new-shorne,Thus on the sudden?—come and seeThe cause why things thus fragrant be.HERRICK.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (85)

WHEN I woke the next morning it seemed as if all the events of thepreceding evening had been a dream, and nothing but the identity of theancient chamber convinced me of their reality. While I lay musing on mypillow I heard the sound of little feet pattering outside of the door, anda whispering consultation. Presently a choir of small voices chanted forthan old Christmas carol, the burden of which was—

Rejoice, our Saviour he was bornOn Christmas Day in the morning.

I rose softly, slipt on my clothes, opened the door suddenly, and beheldone of the most beautiful little fairy groups that a painter couldimagine. It consisted of a boy and two girls, the eldest not more thansix, and lovely as seraphs. They were going the rounds of the house andsinging at every chamber door, but my sudden appearance frightened theminto mute bashfulness. They remained for a moment playing on their lipswith their fingers, and now and then stealing a shy glance from undertheir eyebrows, until, as if by one impulse, they scampered away, and asthey turned an angle of the gallery I heard them laughing in triumph attheir escape.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (86)


Everything conspired to produce kind and happy feelings in this strongholdof old-fashioned hospitality. The window of my chamber looked out uponwhat in summer would have been a beautiful landscape. There was a slopinglawn, a fine stream winding at the foot of it, and a tract of park beyond,with noble clumps of trees and herds of deer. At a distance was a neathamlet, with the smoke from the cottage chimneys hanging over it, and achurch with its dark spire in strong relief against the clear cold sky.The house was surrounded with evergreens, according to the English custom,which would have given almost an appearance of summer; but the morning wasextremely frosty; the light vapor of the preceding evening had beenprecipitated by the cold, and covered all the trees and every blade ofgrass with its fine crystalizations. The rays of a bright morning sun hada dazzling effect among the glittering foliage. A robin, perched upon thetop of a mountain-ash that hung its clusters of red berries just before mywindow, was basking himself in the sunshine and piping a few querulousnotes, and a peaco*ck was displaying all the glories of his train andstrutting with the pride and gravity of a Spanish grandee on the terracewalk below.

I had scarcely dressed myself when a servant appeared to invite me tofamily prayers. He showed me the way to a small chapel in the old wing ofthe house, where I found the principal part of the family alreadyassembled in a kind of gallery furnished with cushions, hassocks, andlarge prayer-books; the servants were seated on benches below. The oldgentleman read prayers from a desk in front of the gallery, and MasterSimon acted as clerk and made the responses; and I must do him the justiceto say that he acquitted himself with great gravity and decorum.

The service was followed by a Christmas carol, which Mr. Bracebridgehimself had constructed from a poem of his favorite author, Herrick, andit had been adapted to an old church melody by Master Simon. As there wereseveral good voices among the household, the effect was extremelypleasing, but I was particularly gratified by the exaltation of heart andsudden sally of grateful feeling with which the worthy squire deliveredone stanza, his eye glistening and his voice rambling out of all thebounds of time and tune:

“‘Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearthWith guiltless mirth,And givest me Wassaile bowles to drinkSpiced to the brink;Lord, ‘tis Thy plenty-dropping handThat soiles my land:And giv’st me for my bushell sowne,Twice ten for one.” 

I afterwards understood that early morning service was read on everySunday and saint’s day throughout the year, either by Mr. Bracebridge orby some member of the family. It was once almost universally the case atthe seats of the nobility and gentry of England, and it is much to beregretted that the custom is falling into neglect; for the dullestobserver must be sensible of the order and serenity prevalent in thosehouseholds where the occasional exercise of a beautiful form of worship inthe morning gives, as it were, the keynote to every temper for the day andattunes every spirit to harmony.

Our breakfast consisted of what the squire denominated true old Englishfare. He indulged in some bitter lamentations over modern breakfasts oftea and toast, which he censured as among the causes of modern effeminacyand weak nerves and the decline of old English heartiness; and, though headmitted them to his table to suit the palates of his guests, yet therewas a brave display of cold meats, wine, and ale on the sideboard.

After breakfast I walked about the grounds with Frank Bracebridge andMaster Simon, or Mr. Simon, as he was called by everybody but the squire.We were escorted by a number of gentlemanlike dogs, that seemed loungersabout the establishment, from the frisking spaniel to the steady oldstag-hound, the last of which was of a race that had been in the familytime out of mind; they were all obedient to a dog-whistle which hung toMaster Simon’s buttonhole, and in the midst of their gambols would glancean eye occasionally upon a small switch he carried in his hand.

The old mansion had a still more venerable look in the yellow sunshinethan by pale moonlight; and I could not but feel the force of the squire’sidea that the formal terraces, heavily moulded balustrades, and clippedyew trees carried with them an air of proud aristocracy. There appeared tobe an unusual number of peaco*cks about the place, and I was making someremarks upon what I termed a flock of them that were basking under a sunnywall, when I was gently corrected in my phraseology by Master Simon, whotold me that according to the most ancient and approved treatise onhunting I must say a muster of peaco*cks. “In the same way,” added he, witha slight air of pedantry, “we say a flight of doves or swallows, a bevy ofquails, a herd of deer, of wrens, or cranes, a skulk of foxes, or abuilding of rooks.” He went on to inform me that, according to Sir AnthonyFitzherbert, we ought to ascribe to this bird “both understanding andglory; for, being praised, he will presently set up his tail, chieflyagainst the sun, to the intent you may the better behold the beautythereof. But at the fall of the leaf, when his tail falleth, he will mournand hide himself in corners till his tail come again as it was.”

I could not help smiling at this display of small erudition on sowhimsical a subject; but I found that the peaco*cks were birds of someconsequence at the hall, for Frank Bracebridge informed me that they weregreat favorites with his father, who was extremely careful to keep up thebreed; partly because they belonged to chivalry, and were in great requestat the stately banquets of the olden time, and partly because they had apomp and magnificence about them highly becoming an old family mansion.Nothing, he was accustomed to say, had an air of greater state and dignitythan a peaco*ck perched upon an antique stone balustrade.

Master Simon had now to hurry off, having an appointment at the parishchurch with the village choristers, who were to perform some music of hisselection. There was something extremely agreeable in the cheerful flow ofanimal spirits of the little man; and I confess I had been somewhatsurprised at his apt quotations from authors who certainly were not in therange of every-day reading. I mentioned this last circ*mstance to FrankBracebridge, who told me with a smile that Master Simon’s whole stock oferudition was confined to some half a dozen old authors, which the squirehad put into his hands, and which he read over and over whenever he had astudious fit, as he sometimes had on a rainy day or a long winter evening.Sir Anthony Fitzherbert’s Book of Husbandry, Markham’s CountryContentments, the Tretyse of Hunting, by Sir Thomas co*ckayne, Knight,Isaac Walton’s Angler, and two or three more such ancient worthies of thepen were his standard authorities; and, like all men who know but a fewbooks, he looked up to them with a kind of idolatry and quoted them on alloccasions. As to his songs, they were chiefly picked out of old books inthe squire’s library, and adapted to tunes that were popular among thechoice spirits of the last century. His practical application of scraps ofliterature, however, had caused him to be looked upon as a prodigy ofbook-knowledge by all the grooms, huntsmen, and small sportsmen of theneighborhood.

While we were talking we heard the distant toll of the village bell, and Iwas told that the squire was a little particular in having his householdat church on a Christmas morning, considering it a day of pouring out ofthanks and rejoicing; for, as old Tusser observed,—

“At Christmas be merry, and thankful withal,And feast thy poor neighbors, the great with the small.” 

“If you are disposed to go to church,” said Frank Bracebridge, “I canpromise you a specimen of my cousin Simon’s musical achievements. As thechurch is destitute of an organ, he has formed a band from the villageamateurs, and established a musical club for their improvement; he hasalso sorted a choir, as he sorted my father’s pack of hounds, according tothe directions of Jervaise Markham in his Country Contentments: for thebass he has sought out all the ‘deep, solemn mouths,’ and for the tenorthe ‘loud-ringing mouths,’ among the country bumpkins, and for‘sweet-mouths,’ he has culled-with curious taste among the prettiestlasses in the neighborhood; though these last, he affirms, are the mostdifficult to keep in tune, your pretty female singer being exceedinglywayward and capricious, and very liable to accident.”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (87)


As the morning, though frosty, was remarkably fine and clear, the most ofthe family walked to the church, which was a very old building of graystone, and stood near a village about half a mile from the park gate.Adjoining it was a low snug parsonage which seemed coeval with the church.The front of it was perfectly matted with a yew tree that had been trainedagainst its walls, through the dense foliage of which apertures had beenformed to admit light into the small antique lattices. As we passed thissheltered nest the parson issued forth and preceded us.

I had expected to see a sleek well-conditioned pastor, such as is oftenfound in a snug living in the vicinity of a rich patron’s table, but I wasdisappointed. The parson was a little, meagre, black-looking man, with agrizzled wig that was too wide and stood off from each ear; so that hishead seemed to have shrunk away within it, like a dried filbert in itsshell. He wore a rusty coat, with great skirts and pockets that would haveheld the church Bible and prayer-book: and his small legs seemed stillsmaller from being planted in large shoes decorated with enormous buckles.

I was informed by Frank Bracebridge that the parson had been a chum of hisfather’s at Oxford, and had received this living shortly after the latterhad come to his estate. He was a complete black-letter hunter, and wouldscarcely read a work printed in the Roman character. The editions ofCaxton and Wynkyn de Worde were his delight, and he was indefatigable inhis researches after such old English writers as have fallen into oblivionfrom their worthlessness. In deference, perhaps, to the notions of Mr.Bracebridge he had made diligent investigations into the festive rites andholiday customs of former times, and had been as zealous in the inquiry asif he had been a boon companion; but it was merely with that ploddingspirit with which men of adust temperament follow up any track of study,merely because it is denominated learning; indifferent to its intrinsicnature, whether it be the illustration of the wisdom or of the ribaldryand obscenity of antiquity. He had pored over these old volumes sointensely that they seemed to have been reflected into his countenance;which, if the face be indeed an index of the mind, might be compared to atitle-page of black-letter.

On reaching the church-porch we found the parson rebuking the gray-headedsexton for having used mistletoe among the greens with which the churchwas decorated. It was, he observed, an unholy plant, profaned by havingbeen used by the Druids in their mystic ceremonies; and, though it mightbe innocently employed in the festive ornamenting of halls and kitchens,yet it had been deemed by the Fathers of the Church as unhallowed andtotally unfit for sacred purposes. So tenacious was he on this point thatthe poor sexton was obliged to strip down a great part of the humbletrophies of his taste before the parson would consent to enter upon theservice of the day.

The interior of the church was venerable, but simple; on the walls wereseveral mural monuments of the Bracebridges, and just beside the altar wasa tomb of ancient workmanship, on which lay the effigy of a warrior inarmor with his legs crossed, a sign of his having been a crusader. I wastold it was one of the family who had signalized himself in the Holy Land,and the same whose picture hung over the fireplace in the hall.

During service Master Simon stood up in the pew and repeated the responsesvery audibly, evincing that kind of ceremonious devotion punctuallyobserved by a gentleman of the old school and a man of old familyconnections. I observed too that he turned over the leaves of a folioprayer-book with something of a flourish; possibly to show off an enormousseal-ring which enriched one of his fingers and which had the look of afamily relic. But he was evidently most solicitous about the musical partof the service, keeping his eye fixed intently on the choir, and beatingtime with much gesticulation and emphasis.

The orchestra was in a small gallery, and presented a most whimsicalgrouping of heads piled one above the other, among which I particularlynoticed that of the village tailor, a pale fellow with a retreatingforehead and chin, who played on the clarinet, and seemed to have blownhis face to a point; and there was another, a short pursy man, stoopingand laboring at a bass-viol, so as to show nothing but the top of a roundbald head, like the egg of an ostrich. There were two or three prettyfaces among the female singers, to which the keen air of a frosty morninghad given a bright rosy tint; but the gentlemen choristers had evidentlybeen chosen, like old Cremona fiddles, more for tone than looks; and asseveral had to sing from the same book, there were clusterings of oddphysiognomies not unlike those groups of cherubs we sometimes see oncountry tombstones.

The usual services of the choir were managed tolerably well, the vocalparts generally lagging a little behind the instrumental, and someloitering fiddler now and then making up for lost time by travelling overa passage with prodigious celerity and clearing more bars than the keenestfox-hunter to be in at the death. But the great trial was an anthem thathad been prepared and arranged by Master Simon, and on which he hadfounded great expectation. Unluckily, there was a blunder at the veryoutset: the musicians became flurried; Master Simon was in a fever;everything went on lamely and irregularly until they came to a chorusbeginning, “Now let us sing with one accord,” which seemed to be a signalfor parting company: all became discord and confusion: each shifted forhimself, and got to the end as well—or, rather, as soon—as hecould, excepting one old chorister in a pair of horn spectacles bestridingand pinching a long sonorous nose, who happened to stand a little apart,and, being wrapped up in his own melody, kept on a quavering course,wriggling his head, ogling his book, and winding all up by a nasal solo ofat least three bars’ duration.

The parson gave us a most erudite sermon on the rites and ceremonies ofChristmas, and the propriety of observing it not merely as a day ofthanksgiving but of rejoicing, supporting the correctness of his opinionsby the earliest usages of the Church, and enforcing them by theauthorities of Theophilus of Caesarea, St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, St.Augustine, and a cloud more of saints and fathers, from whom he madecopious quotations. I was a little at a loss to perceive the necessity ofsuch a mighty array of forces to maintain a point which no one presentseemed inclined to dispute; but I soon found that the good man had alegion of ideal adversaries to contend with, having in the course of hisresearches on the subject of Christmas got completely embroiled in thesectarian controversies of the Revolution, when the Puritans made such afierce assault upon the ceremonies of the Church, and poor old Christmaswas driven out of the land by proclamation of Parliament.* The worthyparson lived but with times past, and knew but little of the present.

Shut up among worm-eaten tomes in the retirement of his antiquated littlestudy, the pages of old times were to him as the gazettes of the day,while the era of the Revolution was mere modern history. He forgot thatnearly two centuries had elapsed since the fiery persecution of poormince-pie throughout the land; when plum porridge was denounced as “merepopery,” and roast beef as anti-christian, and that Christmas had beenbrought in again triumphantly with the merry court of King Charles at theRestoration. He kindled into warmth with the ardor of his contest and thehost of imaginary foes with whom he had to combat; he had a stubbornconflict with old Prynne and two or three other forgotten champions of theRoundheads on the subject of Christmas festivity; and concluded by urginghis hearers, in the most solemn and affecting manner, to stand to thetraditional customs of their fathers and feast and make merry on thisjoyful anniversary of the Church.

* From the “Flying Eagle,” a small gazette, publishedDecember 24, 1652: “The House spent much time this day aboutthe business of the Navy, for settling the affairs at sea,and before they rose, were presented with a terribleremonstrance against Christmas day, grounded upon divineScriptures, 2 Cor. v. 16; I Cor. xv. 14, 17; and in honor ofthe Lord’s Day, grounded upon these Scriptures, John xx. I;Rev. i. 10; Psalms cxviii. 24; Lev. xxiii. 7, 11; Mark xv.8; Psalms lxxxiv. 10, in which Christmas is called Anti-christ’s masse, and those Masse-mongers and Papists whoobserve it, etc. In consequence of which parliament spentsome time in consultation about the abolition of Christmasday, passed orders to that effect, and resolved to sit onthe following day, which was commonly called Christmas day.” 

I have seldom known a sermon attended apparently with more immediateeffects, for on leaving the church the congregation seemed one and allpossessed with the gayety of spirit so earnestly enjoined by their pastor.The elder folks gathered in knots in the churchyard, greeting and shakinghands, and the children ran about crying Ule! Ule! and repeating someuncouth rhymes,* which the parson, who had joined us, informed me had beenhanded down from days of yore. The villagers doffed their hats to thesquire as he passed, giving him the good wishes of the season with everyappearance of heartfelt sincerity, and were invited by him to the hall totake something to keep out the cold of the weather; and I heard blessingsuttered by several of the poor, which convinced me that, in the midst ofhis enjoyments, the worthy old cavalier had not forgotten the trueChristmas virtue of charity.

* “Ule! Ule!Three puddings in a pule;Crack nuts and cry ule!” 

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (88)


On our way homeward his heart seemed overflowed with generous and happyfeelings. As we passed over a rising ground which commanded something of aprospect, the sounds of rustic merriment now and then reached our ears:the squire paused for a few moments and looked around with an air ofinexpressible benignity. The beauty of the day was of itself sufficient toinspire philanthropy. Notwithstanding the frostiness of the morning thesun in his cloudless journey had acquired sufficient power to melt awaythe thin covering of snow from every southern declivity, and to bring outthe living green which adorns an English landscape even in mid-winter.Large tracts of smiling verdure contrasted with the dazzling whiteness ofthe shaded slopes and hollows. Every sheltered bank on which the broadrays rested yielded its silver rill of cold and limpid water, glitteringthrough the dripping grass, and sent up slight exhalations to contributeto the thin haze that hung just above the surface of the earth. There wassomething truly cheering in this triumph of warmth and verdure over thefrosty thraldom of winter; it was, as the squire observed, an emblem ofChristmas hospitality breaking through the chills of ceremony andselfishness and thawing every heart into a flow. He pointed with pleasureto the indications of good cheer reeking from the chimneys of thecomfortable farm-houses and low thatched cottages. “I love,” said he, “tosee this day well kept by rich and poor; it is a great thing to have oneday in the year, at least, when you are sure of being welcome wherever yougo, and of having, as it were, the world all thrown open to you; and I amalmost disposed to join with Poor Robin in his malediction on everychurlish enemy to this honest festival:

“‘Those who at Christmas do repine,And would fain hence dispatch him,May they with old Duke Humphry dine,Or else may Squire Ketch catch’em.’” 

The squire went on to lament the deplorable decay of the games andamusem*nts which were once prevalent at this season among the lower ordersand countenanced by the higher, when the old halls of castles andmanor-houses were thrown open at daylight; when the tables were coveredwith brawn and beef and humming ale; when the harp and the carol resoundedall day long; and when rich and poor were alike welcome to enter and makemerry.* “Our old games and local customs,” said he, “had a great effect inmaking the peasant fond of his home, and the promotion of them by thegentry made him fond of his lord. They made the times merrier and kinderand better, and I can truly say, with one of our old poets,

“‘I like them well: the curious precisenessAnd all-pretended gravity of thoseThat seek to banish hence these harmless sports,Have thrust away much ancient honesty.’” 

“The nation,” continued he, “is altered; we have almost lost our simpletrue-hearted peasantry. They have broken asunder from the higher classes,and seem to think their interests are separate. They have become tooknowing, and begin to read newspapers, listen to ale-house politicians,and talk of reform. I think one mode to keep them in good-humor in thesehard times would be for the nobility and gentry to pass more time on theirestates, mingle more among the country-people, and set the merry oldEnglish games going again.”

* “An English gentleman, at the opening of the great day—i.e. on Christmas Day in the morning—had all his tenantsand neighbors enter his hall by daybreak. The strong beerwas broached, and the black-jacks went plentifully about,with toast, sugar and nutmeg, and good Cheshire cheese. TheHackin (the great sausage) must be boiled by daybreak, orelse two young men must take the maiden (i.e. the cook) bythe arms and run her round the market-place till she isshamed of her laziness.”—Round about our Sea-Coal Fire.

Such was the good squire’s project for mitigating public discontent: and,indeed, he had once attempted to put his doctrine in practice, and a fewyears before had kept open house during the holidays in the old style. Thecountry-people, however, did not understand how to play their parts in thescene of hospitality; many uncouth circ*mstances occurred; the manor wasoverrun by all the vagrants of the country, and more beggars drawn intothe neighborhood in one week than the parish officers could get rid of ina year. Since then he had contented himself with inviting the decent partof the neighboring peasantry to call at the hall on Christmas Day, andwith distributing beef, and bread, and ale among the poor, that they mightmake merry in their own dwellings.

We had not been long home when the sound of music was heard from adistance. A band of country lads, without coats, their shirt-sleevesfancifully tied with ribbons, their hats decorated with greens, and clubsin their hands, was seen advancing up the avenue, followed by a largenumber of villagers and peasantry. They stopped before the hall door,where the music struck up a peculiar air, and the lads performed a curiousand intricate dance, advancing, retreating, and striking their clubstogether, keeping exact time to the music; while one, whimsically crownedwith a fox’s skin, the tail of which flaunted down his back, kept caperinground the skirts of the dance and rattling a Christmas box with many anticgesticulations.

The squire eyed this fanciful exhibition with great interest and delight,and gave me a full account of its origin, which he traced to the timeswhen the Romans held possession of the island, plainly proving that thiswas a lineal descendant of the sword dance of the ancients. “It was now,” he said, “nearly extinct, but he had accidentally met with traces of it inthe neighborhood, and had encouraged its revival; though, to tell thetruth, it was too apt to be followed up by the rough cudgel play andbroken heads in the evening.”

After the dance was concluded the whole party was entertained with brawnand beef and stout home-brewed. The squire himself mingled among therustics, and was received with awkward demonstrations of deference andregard. It is true I perceived two or three of the younger peasants, asthey were raising their tankards to their mouths, when the squire’s backwas turned making something of a grimace, and giving each other the wink;but the moment they caught my eye they pulled grave faces and wereexceedingly demure. With Master Simon, however, they all seemed more attheir ease. His varied occupations and amusem*nts had made him well knownthroughout the neighborhood. He was a visitor at every farmhouse andcottage, gossiped with the farmers and their wives, romped with theirdaughters, and, like that type of a vagrant bachelor, the humblebee,tolled the sweets from all the rosy lips of the country round.

The bashfulness of the guests soon gave way before good cheer andaffability. There is something genuine and affectionate in the gayety ofthe lower orders when it is excited by the bounty and familiarity of thoseabove them; the warm glow of gratitude enters into their mirth, and a kindword or a small pleasantry frankly uttered by a patron gladdens the heartof the dependant more than oil and wine. When the squire had retired themerriment increased, and there was much joking and laughter, particularlybetween Master Simon and a hale, ruddy-faced, white-headed farmer whoappeared to be the wit of the village; for I observed all his companionsto wait with open months for his retorts, and burst into a gratuitouslaugh before they could well understand them.

The whole house indeed seemed abandoned to merriment: as I passed to myroom to dress for dinner, I heard the sound of music in a small court,and, looking through a window that commanded it, I perceived a band ofwandering musicians with pandean pipes and tambourine; a pretty coquettishhousemaid was dancing a jig with a smart country lad, while several of theother servants were looking on. In the midst of her sport the girl caughta glimpse of my face at the window, and, coloring up, ran off with an airof roguish affected confusion.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (89)



Lo, now is come our joyful’st feast!Let every man be jolly.Eache roome with yvie leaves is drest,And every post with holly.Now all our neighbours’ chimneys smoke,And Christmas blocks are burning;Their ovens they with bak’t meats chokeAnd all their spits are turning.Without the door let sorrow lie,And if, for cold, it hap to die,Wee’l bury ‘t in a Christmas pye,And evermore be merry.WITHERS, Juvenilia.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (90)

I HAD finished my toilet, and was loitering with Frank Bracebridge in thelibrary, when we heard a distant thwacking sound, which he informed me wasa signal for the serving up of the dinner. The squire kept up old customsin kitchen as well as hall, and the rolling-pin, struck upon the dresserby the cook, summoned the servants to carry in the meats.

Just in this nick the cook knock’d thrice,And all the waiters in a triceHis summons did obey;Each serving-man, with dish in hand,March’d boldly up, like our train-band,Presented and away.*
* Sir John Suckling.

The dinner was served up in the great hall, where the squire always heldhis Christmas banquet. A blazing crackling fire of logs had been heaped onto warm the spacious apartment, and the flame went sparkling and wreathingup the wide-mouthed chimney. The great picture of the crusader and hiswhite horse had been profusely decorated with greens for the occasion, andholly and ivy had like-wise been wreathed round the helmet and weapons onthe opposite wall, which I understood were the arms of the same warrior. Imust own, by the by, I had strong doubts about the authenticity of thepainting and armor as having belonged to the crusader, they certainlyhaving the stamp of more recent days; but I was told that the painting hadbeen so considered time out of mind; and that as to the armor, it had beenfound in a lumber-room and elevated to its present situation by thesquire, who at once determined it to be the armor of the family hero; andas he was absolute authority on all such subjects in his own household,the matter had passed into current acceptation. A sideboard was set outjust under this chivalric trophy, on which was a display of plate thatmight have vied (at least in variety) with Belshazzar’s parade of thevessels of the temple: “flagons, cans, cups, beakers, goblets, basins, andewers,” the gorgeous utensils of good companionship that had graduallyaccumulated through many generations of jovial housekeepers. Before thesestood the two Yule candles, beaming like two stars of the first magnitude;other lights were distributed in branches, and the whole array glitteredlike a firmament of silver.

We were ushered into this banqueting scene with the sound of minstrelsy,the old harper being seated on a stool beside the fireplace and twanging,his instrument with a vast deal more power than melody. Never didChristmas board display a more goodly and gracious assemblage ofcountenances; those who were not handsome were at least happy, andhappiness is a rare improver of your hard-favored visage. I alwaysconsider an old English family as well worth studying as a collection ofHolbein’s portraits or Albert Durer’s prints. There is much antiquarianlore to be acquired, much knowledge of the physiognomies of former times.Perhaps it may be from having continually before their eyes those rows ofold family portraits, with which the mansions of this country are stocked;certain it is that the quaint features of antiquity are often mostfaithfully perpetuated in these ancient lines, and I have traced an oldfamily nose through a whole picture-gallery, legitimately handed down fromgeneration to generation almost from the time of the Conquest. Somethingof the kind was to be observed in the worthy company around me. Many oftheir faces had evidently originated in a Gothic age, and been merelycopied by succeeding generations; and there was one little girl inparticular, of staid demeanor, with a high Roman nose and an antiquevinegar aspect, who was a great favorite of the squire’s, being, as hesaid, a Bracebridge all over, and the very counterpart of one of hisancestors who figured in the court of Henry VIII.

The parson said grace, which was not a short familiar one, such as iscommonly addressed to the Deity in these unceremonious days, but a long,courtly, well-worded one of the ancient school. There was now a pause, asif something was expected, when suddenly the butler entered the hall withsome degree of bustle: he was attended by a servant on each side with alarge wax-light, and bore a silver dish on which was an enormous pig’shead decorated with rosemary, with a lemon in its mouth, which was placedwith great formality at the head of the table. The moment this pageantmade its appearance the harper struck up a flourish; at the conclusion ofwhich the young Oxonian, on receiving a hint from the squire, gave, withan air of the most comic gravity, an old carol, the first verse of whichwas as follows

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (91)

Caput apri deferoReddens laudes Domino.The boar’s head in hand bring I,With garlands gay and rosemary.I pray you all synge merilyQui estis in convivio.

Though prepared to witness many of these little eccentricities, from beingapprised of the peculiar hobby of mine host, yet I confess the parade withwhich so odd a dish was introduced somewhat perplexed me, until I gatheredfrom the conversation of the squire and the parson that it was meant torepresent the bringing in of the boar’s head, a dish formerly served upwith much ceremony and the sound of minstrelsy and song at great tables onChristmas Day. “I like the old custom,” said the squire, “not merelybecause it is stately and pleasing in itself, but because it was observedat the college at Oxford at which I was educated. When I hear the old songchanted it brings to mind the time when I was young and gamesome, and thenoble old college hall, and my fellow-students loitering about in theirblack gowns; many of whom, poor lads! are now in their graves.”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (92)


The parson, however, whose mind was not haunted by such associations, andwho was always more taken up with the text than the sentiment, objected tothe Oxonian’s version of the carol, which he affirmed was different fromthat sung at college. He went on, with the dry perseverance of acommentator, to give the college reading, accompanied by sundryannotations, addressing himself at first to the company at large; but,finding their attention gradually diverted to other talk and otherobjects, he lowered his tone as his number of auditors diminished, untilhe concluded his remarks in an under voice to a fat-headed old gentlemannext him who was silently engaged in the discussion of a huge plateful ofturkey.*

* The old ceremony of serving up the boar’s head onChristmas Day is still observed in the hall of Queen’sCollege, Oxford. I was favored by the parson with a copy ofthe carol as now sung, and as it may be acceptable to suchof my readers as are curious in these grave and learnedmatters, I give it entire:The boar’s head in hand bear I,Bedeck’d with bays and rosemaryAnd I pray you, my masters, be merryQuot estis in convivioCaput apri defero,Reddens laudes domino.The boar’s head, as I understand,Is the rarest dish in all this land,Which thus bedeck’d with a gay garlandLet us servire cantico.Caput apri defero, etc.Our steward hath provided thisIn honor of the King of Bliss,Which on this day to be served isIn Reginensi Atrio.Caput apri defero, etc., etc., etc.

The table was literally loaded with good cheer, and presented an epitomeof country abundance in this season of overflowing larders. Adistinguished post was allotted to “ancient sirloin,” as mine host termedit, being, as he added, “the standard of old English hospitality, and ajoint of goodly presence, and full of expectation.” There were severaldishes quaintly decorated, and which had evidently something traditionalin their embellishments, but about which, as I did not like to appearovercurious, I asked no questions.

I could not, however, but notice a pie magnificently decorated withpeaco*ck’s feathers, in imitation of the tail of that bird, whichovershadowed a considerable tract of the table. This, the squire confessedwith some little hesitation, was a pheasant pie, though a peaco*ck pie wascertainly the most authentical; but there had been such a mortality amongthe peaco*cks this season that he could not prevail upon himself to haveone killed.*

* The peaco*ck was anciently in great demand for statelyentertainments. Sometimes it was made into a pie, at one endof which the head appeared above the crust in all itsplumage, with the beak richly gilt; at the other end thetail was displayed. Such pies were served up at the solemnbanquets of chivalry, when knights-errant pledged themselvesto undertake any perilous enterprise, whence came theancient oath, used by Justice Shallow, “by co*ck and pie.” 

The peaco*ck was also an important dish for the Christmas feast; andMassinger, in his “City Madam,” gives some idea of the extravagance withwhich this, as well as other dishes, was prepared for the gorgeous revelsof the olden times:

Men may talk of Country Christmasses,Their thirty pound butter’d eggs, their pies of carps’ tongues;Their pheasants drench’d with ambergris: the carcases of threefat wethers bruised for gravy to make sauce for a single peaco*ck!

It would be tedious, perhaps, to my wiser readers, who may not have thatfoolish fondness for odd and obsolete things to which I am a little given,were I to mention the other makeshifts or this worthy old humorist, bywhich he was endeavoring to follow up, though at humble distance, thequaint customs of antiquity. I was pleased, however, to see the respectshown to his whims by his children and relatives; who, indeed, enteredreadily into the full spirit of them, and seemed all well versed in theirparts, having doubtless been present at many a rehearsal. I was amused,too, at the air of profound gravity with which the butler and otherservants executed the duties assigned them, however eccentric. They had anold-fashioned look, having, for the most part, been brought up in thehousehold and grown into keeping with the antiquated mansion and thehumors of its lord, and most probably looked upon all his whimsicalregulations as the established laws of honorable housekeeping.

When the cloth was removed the butler brought in a huge silver vessel ofrare and curious workmanship, which he placed before the squire. Itsappearance was hailed with acclamation, being the Wassail Bowl, sorenowned in Christmas festivity. The contents had been prepared by thesquire himself; for it was a beverage in the skilful mixture of which heparticularly prided himself, alleging that it was too abstruse and complexfor the comprehension of an ordinary servant. It was a potation, indeed,that might well make the heart of a toper leap within him, being composedof the richest and raciest wines, highly spiced and sweetened, withroasted apples bobbing about the surface.*

* The Wassail Bowl was sometimes composed of ale instead ofwine, with nutmeg, sugar, toast, ginger, and roasted crabs;in this way the nut-brown beverage is still prepared in someold families and round the hearths of substantial farmers atChristmas. It is also called Lamb’s Wool, and is celebratedby Herrick in his “Twelfth Night”:Next crowne the bowle fullWith gentle Lamb’s Wool;Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,With store of ale too,And thus ye must doeTo make the Wassaile a swinger.

The old gentleman’s whole countenance beamed with a serene look ofindwelling delight as he stirred this mighty bowl. Having raised it to hislips, with a hearty wish of a merry Christmas to all present, he sent itbrimming round the board, for every one to follow his example, accordingto the primitive style, pronouncing it “the ancient fountain of goodfeeling, where all hearts met together.” *

* “The custom of drinking out of the same cup gave place toeach having his cup. When the steward came to the doore withthe Wassel, he was to cry three times, Wassel, Wassel,Wassel, and then the chappell (chaplain) was to answer witha song.”—Archaeologia.

There was much laughing and rallying as the honest emblem of Christmasjoviality circulated and was kissed rather coyly by the ladies. When itreached Master Simon, he raised it in both hands, and with the air of aboon companion struck up an old Wassail Chanson:

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (93)

The brown bowle,The merry brown bowle,As it goes round-about-a,FillStill,Let the world say what it will,And drink your fill all out-a.The deep canne,The merry deep canne,As thou dost freely quaff-a,SingFling,Be as merry as a king,And sound a lusty laugh-a.*
* From Poor Robin’s Almanack.

Much of the conversation during dinner turned upon family topics, to whichI was a stranger. There was, however, a great deal of rallying of MasterSimon about some gay widow with whom he was accused of having aflirtation. This attack was commenced by the ladies, but it was continuedthroughout the dinner by the fat-headed old gentleman next the parson withthe persevering assiduity of a slow hound, being one of those long-windedjokers who, though rather dull at starting game, are unrivalled for theirtalents in hunting it down. At every pause in the general conversation herenewed his bantering in pretty much the same terms, winking hard at mewith both eyes whenever he gave Master Simon what he considered a homethrust. The latter, indeed, seemed fond of being teased on the subject, asold bachelors are apt to be, and he took occasion to inform me, in anundertone, that the lady in question was a prodigiously fine woman anddrove her own curricle.

The dinner-time passed away in this flow of innocent hilarity, and, thoughthe old hall may have resounded in its time with many a scene of broaderrout and revel, yet I doubt whether it ever witnessed more honest andgenuine enjoyment. How easy it is for one benevolent being to diffusepleasure around him! and how truly is a kind heart a fountain of gladness,making everything in its vicinity to freshen into smiles! The joyousdisposition of the worthy squire was perfectly contagious; he was happyhimself, and disposed to make all the world happy, and the littleeccentricities of his humor did but season, in a manner, the sweetness ofhis philanthropy.

When the ladies had retired, the conversation, as usual, became still moreanimated; many good things were broached which had been thought of duringdinner, but which would not exactly do for a lady’s ear; and, though Icannot positively affirm that there was much wit uttered, yet I havecertainly heard many contests of rare wit produce much less laughter. Wit,after all, is a mighty tart, pungent ingredient, and much too acid forsome stomachs; but honest good-humor is the oil and wine of a merrymeeting, and there is no jovial companionship equal to that where thejokes are rather small and the laughter abundant.

The squire told several long stories of early college pranks andadventures, in some of which the parson had been a sharer, though inlooking at the latter it required some effort of imagination to figuresuch a little dark anatomy of a man into the perpetrator of a madcapgambol. Indeed, the two college chums presented pictures of what men maybe made by their different lots in life. The squire had left theuniversity to live lustily on his paternal domains in the vigorousenjoyment of prosperity and sunshine, and had flourished on to a heartyand florid old age; whilst the poor parson, on the contrary, had dried andwithered away among dusty tomes in the silence and shadows of his study.Still, there seemed to be a spark of almost extinguished fire feeblyglimmering in the bottom of his soul; and as the squire hinted at a slystory of the parson and a pretty milkmaid whom they once met on the banksof the Isis, the old gentleman made an “alphabet of faces,” which, as faras I could decipher his physiognomy, I verily believe was indicative oflaughter; indeed, I have rarely met with an old gentleman that tookabsolute offence at the imputed gallantries of his youth.

I found the tide of wine and wassail fast gaining on the dry land of soberjudgment. The company grew merrier and louder as their jokes grew duller.Master Simon was in as chirping a humor as a grasshopper filled with dew;his old songs grew of a warmer complexion, and he began to talk maudlinabout the widow. He even gave a long song about the wooing of a widowwhich he informed me he had gathered from an excellent black-letter workentitled Cupid’s Solicitor for Love, containing store of good advice forbachelors, and which he promised to lend me; the first verse was toeffect.

He that will woo a widow must not dallyHe must make hay while the sun doth shine;He must not stand with her, shall I, shall I,But boldly say, Widow, thou must be mine.

This song inspired the fat-headed old gentleman, who made several attemptsto tell a rather broad story out of Joe Miller that was pat to thepurpose; but he always stuck in the middle, everybody recollecting thelatter part excepting himself. The parson, too, began to show the effectsof good cheer, having gradually settled down into a doze and his wigsitting most suspiciously on one side. Just at this juncture we weresummoned to the drawing room, and I suspect, at the private instigation ofmine host, whose joviality seemed always tempered with a proper love ofdecorum.

After the dinner-table was removed the hall was given up to the youngermembers of the family, who, prompted to all kind of noisy mirth by theOxonian and Master Simon, made its old walls ring with their merriment asthey played at romping games. I delight in witnessing the gambols ofchildren, and particularly at this happy holiday season, and could nothelp stealing out of the drawing-room on hearing one of their peals oflaughter. I found them at the game of blindman’s-buff. Master Simon, whowas the leader of their revels, and seemed on all occasions to fulfill theoffice of that ancient potentate, the Lord of Misrule,* was blinded in themidst of the hall. The little beings were as busy about him as the mockfairies about Falstaff, pinching him, plucking at the skirts of his coat,and tickling him with straws. One fine blue-eyed girl of about thirteen,with her flaxen hair all in beautiful confusion, her frolic face in aglow, her frock half torn off her shoulders, a complete picture of a romp,was the chief tormentor; and, from the slyness with which Master Simonavoided the smaller game and hemmed this wild little nymph in corners, andobliged her to jump shrieking over chairs, I suspected the rogue of beingnot a whit more blinded than was convenient.

* At Christmasse there was in the Kinges house, wheresoeverhee was lodged, a lorde of misrule or mayster of meriedisportes, and the like had ye in the house of everynobleman of honor, or good worshipper were he spirituall ortemporall.—STOW.

When I returned to the drawing-room I found the company seated round thefire listening to the parson, who was deeply ensconced in a high-backedoaken chair, the work of some cunning artificer of yore, which had beenbrought from the library for his particular accommodation. From thisvenerable piece of furniture, with which his shadowy figure and darkweazen face so admirably accorded, he was dealing out strange accounts ofthe popular superstitions and legends of the surrounding country, withwhich he had become acquainted in the course of his antiquarianresearches. I am half inclined to think that the old gentleman was himselfsomewhat tinctured with superstition, as men are very apt to be who live arecluse and studious life in a sequestered part of the country and poreover black-letter tracts, so often filled with the marvelous andsupernatural. He gave us several anecdotes of the fancies of theneighboring peasantry concerning the effigy of the crusader which lay onthe tomb by the church altar. As it was the only monument of the kind inthat part of the country, it had always been regarded with feelings ofsuperstition by the good wives of the village. It was said to get up fromthe tomb and walk the rounds of the churchyard in stormy nights,particularly when it thundered; and one old woman, whose cottage borderedon the churchyard, had seen it through the windows of the church, when themoon shone, slowly pacing up and down the aisles. It was the belief thatsome wrong had been left unredressed by the deceased, or some treasurehidden, which kept the spirit in a state of trouble and restlessness. Sometalked of gold and jewels buried in the tomb, over which the spectre keptwatch; and there was a story current of a sexton in old times whoendeavored to break his way to the coffin at night, but just as he reachedit received a violent blow from the marble hand of the effigy, whichstretched him senseless on the pavement. These tales were often laughed atby some of the sturdier among the rustics, yet when night came on therewere many of the stoutest unbelievers that were shy of venturing alone inthe footpath that led across the churchyard.

From these and other anecdotes that followed the crusader appeared to bethe favorite hero of ghost-stories throughout the vicinity. His picture,which hung up in the hall, was thought by the servants to have somethingsupernatural about it; for they remarked that in whatever part of the hallyou went the eyes of the warrior were still fixed on you. The old porter’swife, too, at the lodge, who had been born and brought up in the family,and was a great gossip among the maid-servants, affirmed that in her youngdays she had often heard say that on Midsummer Eve, when it was well knownall kinds of ghosts, goblins, and fairies become visible and walk abroad,the crusader used to mount his horse, come down from his picture, rideabout the house, down the avenue, and so to the church to visit the tomb;on which occasion the church-door most civilly swung open of itself; notthat he needed it, for he rode through closed gates, and even stone walls,and had been seen by one of the dairymaids to pass between two bars of thegreat park gate, making himself as thin as a sheet of paper.

All these superstitions I found had been very much countenanced by thesquire, who, though not superstitious himself, was very fond of seeingothers so. He listened to every goblin tale of the neighboring gossipswith infinite gravity, and held the porter’s wife in high favor on accountof her talent for the marvellous. He was himself a great reader of oldlegends and romances, and often lamented that he could not believe inthem; for a superstitious person, he thought, must live in a kind offairy-land.

Whilst we were all attention to the parson’s stories, our ears weresuddenly assailed by a burst of heterogeneous sounds from the hall, inwhich were mingled something like the clang of rude minstrelsy with theuproar of many small voices and girlish laughter. The door suddenly flewopen, and a train came trooping into the room that might almost have beenmistaken for the breaking up of the court of Faery. That indefatigablespirit, Master Simon, in the faithful discharge of his duties as lord ofmisrule, had conceived the idea of a Christmas mummery or masking; andhaving called in to his assistance the Oxonian and the young officer, whowere equally ripe for anything that should occasion romping and merriment,they had carried it into instant effect. The old housekeeper had beenconsulted; the antique clothespresses and wardrobes rummaged and made toyield up the relics of finery that had not seen the light for severalgenerations; the younger part of the company had been privately convenedfrom the parlor and hall, and the whole had been bedizened out into aburlesque imitation of an antique mask.*

* Maskings or mummeries were favorite sports at Christmas inold times, and the wardrobes at halls and manor-houses wereoften laid under contribution to furnish dresses andfantastic disguisings. I strongly suspect Master Simon tohave taken the idea of his from Ben Jonson’s “Masque ofChristmas.” 

Master Simon led the van, as “Ancient Christmas,” quaintly apparelled in aruff, a short cloak, which had very much the aspect of one of the oldhousekeeper’s petticoats, and a hat that might have served for a villagesteeple, and must indubitably have figured in the days of the Covenanters.From under this his nose curved boldly forth, flushed with a frost-bittenbloom that seemed the very trophy of a December blast. He was accompaniedby the blue-eyed romp, dished up, as “Dame Mince Pie,” in the venerablemagnificence of a faded brocade, long stomacher, peaked hat, andhigh-heeled shoes. The young officer appeared as Robin Hood, in a sportingdress of Kendal green and a foraging cap with a gold tassel.

The costume, to be sure, did not bear testimony to deep research, andthere was an evident eye to the picturesque, natural to a young gallant inthe presence of his mistress. The fair Julia hung on his arm in a prettyrustic dress as “Maid Marian.” The rest of the train had beenmetamorphosed in various ways; the girls trussed up in the finery of theancient belles of the Bracebridge line, and the striplings bewhiskeredwith burnt cork, and gravely clad in broad skirts, hanging sleeves, andfull-bottomed wigs, to represent the character of Roast Beef, PlumPudding, and other worthies celebrated in ancient maskings. The whole wasunder the control of the Oxonian in the appropriate character of Misrule;and I observed that he exercised rather a mischievous sway with his wandover the smaller personages of the pageant.

The irruption of this motley crew with beat of drum, according to ancientcustom, was the consummation of uproar and merriment. Master Simon coveredhimself with glory by the stateliness with which, as Ancient Christmas, hewalked a minuet with the peerless though giggling Dame Mince Pie. It wasfollowed by a dance of all the characters, which from its medley ofcostumes seemed as though the old family portraits had skipped down fromtheir frames to join in the sport. Different centuries were figuring atcross hands and right and left; the Dark Ages were cutting pirouettes andrigadoons; and the days of Queen Bess jigging merrily down the middlethrough a line of succeeding generations.

The worthy squire contemplated these fantastic sports and thisresurrection of his old wardrobe with the simple relish of childishdelight. He stood chuckling and rubbing his hands, and scarcely hearing aword the parson said, notwithstanding that the latter was discoursing mostauthentically on the ancient and stately dance of the Pavon, or peaco*ck,from which he conceived the minuet to be derived.* For my part, I was in acontinual excitement from the varied scenes of whim and innocent gayetypassing before me. It was inspiring to see wild-eyed frolic andwarm-hearted hospitality breaking out from among the chills and glooms ofwinter, and old age throwing off his apathy and catching once more thefreshness of youthful enjoyment. I felt also an interest in the scene fromthe consideration that these fleeting customs were posting fast intooblivion, and that this was perhaps the only family in England in whichthe whole of them was still punctiliously observed. There was aquaintness, too, mingled with all this revelry that gave it a peculiarzest: it was suited to the time and place; and as the old manor-housealmost reeled with mirth and wassail, it seemed echoing back the jovialityof long departed years.+

* Sir John Hawkins, speaking of the dance called the Pavon,from pavo, a peaco*ck, says, “It is a grave and majesticdance; the method of dancing it anciently was by gentlemendressed with caps and swords, by those of the long robe intheir gowns, by the peers in their mantles, and by theladies in gowns with long trains, the motion whereof, indancing, resembled that of a peaco*ck.”—History of Music.+ At the time of the first publication of this paper thepicture of an old-fashioned Christmas in the country waspronounced by some as out of date. The author had afterwardsan opportunity of witnessing almost all the customs abovedescribed, existing in unexpected vigor in the skirts ofDerbyshire and Yorkshire, where he passed the Christmasholidays. The reader will find some notice of them in theauthor’s account of his sojourn at Newstead Abbey.

But enough of Christmas and its gambols; it is time for me to pause inthis garrulity. Methinks I hear the questions asked by my graver readers,“To what purpose is all this? how is the world to be made wiser by thistalk?” Alas! is there not wisdom enough extant for the instruction of theworld? And if not, are there not thousands of abler pens laboring for itsimprovement? It is so much pleasanter to please than to instruct—toplay the companion rather than the preceptor.

What, after all, is the mite of wisdom that I could throw into the mass ofknowledge! or how am I sure that my sagest deductions may be safe guidesfor the opinions of others? But in writing to amuse, if I fail the onlyevil is in my own disappointment. If, however, I can by any lucky chance,in these days of evil, rub out one wrinkle from the brow of care orbeguile the heavy heart of one moment of sorrow; if I can now and thenpenetrate through the gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolentview of human nature, and make my reader more in good-humor with hisfellow-beings and himself—surely, surely, I shall not then havewritten entirely in vain.


——I do walkMethinks like Guide Vaux, with my dark lanthorn,Stealing to set the town o’ fire; i’ th’ countryI should be taken for William o’ the Wisp,Or Robin Goodfellow.FLETCHER.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (94)

I AM somewhat of an antiquity-hunter, and am fond of exploring London inquest of the relics of old times. These are principally to be found in thedepths of the city, swallowed up and almost lost in a wilderness of brickand mortar, but deriving poetical and romantic interest from thecommonplace, prosaic world around them. I was struck with an instance ofthe kind in the course of a recent summer ramble into the city; for thecity is only to be explored to advantage in summer-time, when free fromthe smoke and fog and rain and mud of winter. I had been buffeting forsome time against the current of population setting through Fleet Street.The warm weather had unstrung my nerves and made me sensitive to every jarand jostle and discordant sound. The flesh was weary, the spirit faint,and I was getting out of humor with the bustling busy throng through whichI had to struggle, when in a fit of desperation I tore my way through thecrowd, plunged into a by-lane, and, after passing through several obscurenooks and angles, emerged into a quaint and quiet court with a grassplotin the centre overhung by elms, and kept perpetually fresh and green by afountain with its sparkling jet of water. A student with book in hand wasseated on a stone bench, partly reading, partly meditating on themovements of two or three trim nursery-maids with their infant charges.

I was like an Arab who had suddenly come upon an oasis amid the pantingsterility of the desert. By degrees the quiet and coolness of the placesoothed my nerves and refreshed my spirit. I pursued my walk, and came,hard by, to a very ancient chapel with a low-browed Saxon portal ofmassive and rich architecture. The interior was circular and lofty andlighted from above. Around were monumental tombs of ancient date on whichwere extended the marble effigies of warriors in armor. Some had the handsdevoutly crossed upon the breast; others grasped the pommel of the sword,menacing hostility even in the tomb, while the crossed legs of severalindicated soldiers of the Faith who had been on crusades to the Holy Land.

I was, in fact, in the chapel of the Knights Templars, strangely situatedin the very centre of sordid traffic; and I do not know a more impressivelesson for the many of the world than thus suddenly to turn aside from thehighway of busy money-seeking life, and sit down among these shadowysepulchres, where all is twilight, dust, and forget-fullness.

In a subsequent tour of observation I encountered another of these relicsof a “foregone world” locked up in the heart of the city. I had beenwandering for some time through dull monotonous streets, destitute ofanything to strike the eye or excite the imagination, when I beheld beforeme a Gothic gateway of mouldering antiquity. It opened into a spaciousquadrangle forming the courtyard of a stately Gothic pile, the portal ofwhich stood invitingly open.

It was apparently a public edifice, and, as I was antiquity-hunting, Iventured in, though with dubious steps. Meeting no one either to oppose orrebuke my intrusion, I continued on until I found myself in a great hallwith a lofty arched roof and oaken gallery, all of Gothic architecture. Atone end of the hall was an enormous fireplace, with wooden settles on eachside; at the other end was a raised platform, or dais, the seat of state,above which was the portrait of a man in antique garb with a long robe, aruff, and a venerable gray beard.

The whole establishment had an air of monastic quiet and seclusion, andwhat gave it a mysterious charm was, that I had not met with a human beingsince I had passed the threshold.

Encouraged by this loneliness, I seated myself in a recess of a large bowwindow, which admitted a broad flood of yellow sunshine, checkered hereand there by tints from panes of colored glass, while an open casem*nt letin the soft summer air. Here, leaning my head on my hand and my arm on anold oaken table, I indulged in a sort of reverie about what might havebeen the ancient uses of this edifice. It had evidently been of monasticorigin; perhaps one of those collegiate establishments built of yore forthe promotion of learning, where the patient monk, in the ample solitudeof the cloister, added page to page and volume to volume, emulating in theproductions of his brain the magnitude of the pile he inhabited.

As I was seated in this musing mood a small panelled door in an arch atthe upper end of the hall was opened, and a number of gray-headed old men,clad in long black cloaks, came forth one by one, proceeding in thatmanner through the hall, without uttering a word, each turning a pale faceon me as he passed, and disappearing through a door at the lower end.

I was singularly struck with their appearance; their black cloaks andantiquated air comported with the style of this most venerable andmysterious pile. It was as if the ghosts of the departed years, aboutwhich I had been musing, were passing in review before me. Pleasing myselfwith such fancies, I set out, in the spirit of romance, to explore what Ipictured to myself a realm of shadows existing in the very centre ofsubstantial realities.

My ramble led me through a labyrinth of interior courts and corridors anddilapidated cloisters, for the main edifice had many additions anddependencies, built at various times and in various styles. In one openspace a number of boys, who evidently belonged to the establishment, wereat their sports, but everywhere I observed those mysterious old gray menin black mantles, sometimes sauntering alone, sometimes conversing ingroups; they appeared to be the pervading genii of the place. I now calledto mind what I had read of certain colleges in old times, where judicialastrology, geomancy, necromancy, and other forbidden and magical scienceswere taught. Was this an establishment of the kind, and were theseblack-cloaked old men really professors of the black art?

These surmises were passing through my mind as my eye glanced into achamber hung round with all kinds of strange and uncouth objects—implementsof savage warfare, strange idols and stuffed alligators; bottled serpentsand monsters decorated the mantelpiece; while on the high tester of anold-fashioned bedstead grinned a human skull, flanked on each side by adried cat.

I approached to regard more narrowly this mystic chamber, which seemed afitting laboratory for a necromancer, when I was startled at beholding ahuman countenance staring at me from a dusky corner. It was that of asmall, shrivelled old man with thin cheeks, bright eyes, and gray, wiry,projecting eyebrows. I at first doubted whether it were not a mummycuriously preserved, but it moved, and I saw that it was alive. It wasanother of these black-cloaked old men, and, as I regarded his quaintphysiognomy, his obsolete garb, and the hideous and sinister objects bywhich he was surrounded, I began to persuade myself that I had come uponthe arch-mage who ruled over this magical fraternity.

Seeing me pausing before the door, he rose and invited me to enter. Iobeyed with singular hardihood, for how did I know whether a wave of hiswand might not metamorphose me into some strange monster or conjure meinto one of the bottles on his mantelpiece? He proved, however, to beanything but a conjurer, and his simple garrulity soon dispelled all themagic and mystery with which I had enveloped this antiquated pile and itsno less antiquated inhabitants.

It appeared that I had made my way into the centre of an ancient asylumfor superannuated tradesmen and decayed householders, with which wasconnected a school for a limited number of boys. It was founded upwards oftwo centuries since on an old monastic establishment, and retainedsomewhat of the conventual air and character. The shadowy line of old menin black mantles who had passed before me in the hall, and whom I hadelevated into magi, turned out to be the pensioners returning frommorning, service in the chapel.

John Hallum, the little collector of curiosities whom I had made the archmagician, had been for six years a resident of the place, and haddecorated this final nestling-place of his old age with relics andrarities picked up in the course of his life. According to his ownaccount, he had been somewhat of a traveller, having been once in France,and very near making a visit to Holland. He regretted not having visitedthe latter country, “as then he might have said he had been there.” He wasevidently a traveller of the simple kind.

He was aristocratical too in his notions, keeping aloof, as I found, fromthe ordinary run of pensioners. His chief associates were a blind man whospoke Latin and Greek, of both which languages Hallum was profoundlyignorant, and a broken-down gentleman who had run through a fortune offorty thousand pounds left him by his father, and ten thousand pounds, themarriage portion of his wife. Little Hallum seemed to consider it anindubitable sign of gentle blood as well as of lofty spirit to be able tosquander such enormous sums.

P.S.—The picturesque remnant of old times into which I have thusbeguiled the reader is what is called the Charter House, originally theChartreuse. It was founded in 1611, on the remains of an ancient convent,by Sir Thomas Sutton, being one of those noble charities set on foot byindividual munificence, and kept up with the quaintness and sanctity ofancient times amidst the modern changes and innovations of London. Hereeighty broken-down men, who have seen better days, are provided in theirold age with food, clothing, fuel, and a yearly allowance for privateexpenses. They dine together, as did the monks of old, in the hall whichhad been the refectory of the original convent. Attached to theestablishment is a school for forty-four boys.

Stow, whose work I have consulted on the subject, speaking of theobligations of the gray-headed pensioners, says, “They are not tointermeddle with any business touching the affairs of the hospital, but toattend only to the service of God, and take thankfully what is providedfor them, without muttering, murmuring, or grudging. None to wear weapon,long hair, colored boots, spurs, or colored shoes, feathers in their hats,or any ruffian-like or unseemly apparel, but such as becomes hospital-mento wear.” “And in truth,” adds Stow, “happy are they that are so takenfrom the cares and sorrows of the world, and fixed in so good a place asthese old men are; having nothing to care for but the good of their souls,to serve God, and to live in brotherly love.”

For the amusem*nt of such as have been interested by the preceding sketch,taken down from my own observation, and who may wish to know a little moreabout the mysteries of London, I subjoin a modicum of local history putinto my hands by an odd-looking old gentleman, in a small brown wig and asnuff-colored coat, with whom I became acquainted shortly after my visitto the Charter House. I confess I was a little dubious at first whether itwas not one of those apocryphal tales often passed off upon inquiringtravellers like myself, and which have brought our general character forveracity into such unmerited reproach. On making proper inquiries,however, I have received the most satisfactory assurances of the author’sprobity, and indeed have been told that he is actually engaged in a fulland particular account of the very interesting region in which he resides,of which the following may be considered merely as a foretaste.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (95)



What I write is most true..... I have a whole booke of cases lying by me,which if I should sette foorth, some grave auntients (within the hearingof Bow Bell) would be out of charity with me. NASH.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (96)

IN the centre of the great City of London lies a small neighborhood,consisting of a cluster of narrow streets and courts, of very venerableand debilitated houses, which goes by the name of LITTLE BRITAIN. ChristChurch School and St. Bartholomew’s Hospital bound it on the west;Smithfield and Long Lane on the north; Aldersgate Street, like an arm ofthe sea, divides it from the eastern part of the city; whilst the yawninggulf of Bull-and-Mouth Street separates it from Butcher Lane and theregions of Newgate. Over this little territory, thus bounded anddesignated, the great dome of St. Paul’s, swelling above the interveninghouses of Paternoster Row, Amen Corner, and Ave-Maria Lane, looks downwith an air of motherly protection.

This quarter derives its appellation from having been, in ancient times,the residence of the Dukes of Brittany. As London increased, however, rankand fashion rolled off to the west, and trade, creeping on at their heels,took possession of their deserted abodes. For some time Little Britainbecame the great mart of learning, and was peopled by the busy andprolific race of booksellers: these also gradually deserted it, and,emigrating beyond the great strait of Newgate Street, settled down inPaternoster Row and St. Paul’s Churchyard, where they continue to increaseand multiply even at the present day.

But, though thus fallen into decline, Little Britain still bears traces ofits former splendor. There are several houses ready to tumble down, thefronts of which are magnificently enriched with old oaken carvings ofhideous faces, unknown birds, beasts, and fishes, and fruits and flowerswhich it would perplex a naturalist to classify. There are also, inAldersgate Street, certain remains of what were once spacious and lordlyfamily mansions, but which have in latter days been subdivided intoseveral tenements. Here may often be found the family of a pettytradesman, with its trumpery furniture, burrowing among the relics ofantiquated finery in great rambling time-stained apartments with frettedceilings, gilded cornices, and enormous marble fireplaces. The lanes andcourts also contain many smaller houses, not on so grand a scale, but,like your small ancient gentry, sturdily maintaining their claims to equalantiquity. These have their gable ends to the street, great bow windowswith diamond panes set in lead, grotesque carvings, and low archeddoorways.*

* It is evident that the author of this interestingcommunication has included, in his general title of LittleBritain, man of those little lanes and courts that belongimmediately to Cloth Fair.

In this most venerable and sheltered little nest have I passed severalquiet years of existence, comfortably lodged in the second floor of one ofthe smallest but oldest edifices. My sitting-room is an old wainscotedchamber, with small panels and set off with a miscellaneous array offurniture. I have a particular respect for three or four high-backed,claw-footed chairs, covered with tarnished brocade, which bear the marksof having seen better days, and have doubtless figured in some of the oldpalaces of Little Britain. They seem to me to keep together and to lookdown with sovereign contempt upon their leathern-bottomed neighbors, as Ihave seen decayed gentry carry a high head among the plebeian society withwhich they were reduced to associate. The whole front of my sitting-roomis taken up with a bow window, on the panes of which are recorded thenames of previous occupants for many generations, mingled with scraps ofvery indifferent gentleman-like poetry, written in characters which I canscarcely decipher, and which extol the charms of many a beauty of LittleBritain who has long, long since bloomed, faded, and passed away. As I aman idle personage, with no apparent occupation, and pay my bill regularlyevery week, I am looked upon as the only independent gentleman of theneighborhood, and, being curious to learn the internal state of acommunity so apparently shut up within itself, I have managed to work myway into all the concerns and secrets of the place.

Little Britain may truly be called the heart’s core of the city, thestronghold of true John Bullism. It is a fragment of London as it was inits better days, with its antiquated folks and fashions. Here flourish ingreat preservation many of the holiday games and customs of yore. Theinhabitants most religiously eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, hotcross-buns on Good Friday, and roast goose at Michaelmas; they sendlove-letters on Valentine’s Day, burn the Pope on the Fifth of November,and kiss all the girls under the mistletoe at Christmas. Roast beef andplum-pudding are also held in superstitious veneration, and port andsherry maintain their grounds as the only true English wines, all othersbeing considered vile outlandish beverages.

Little Britain has its long catalogue of city wonders, which itsinhabitants consider the wonders of the world, such as the great bell ofSt. Paul’s, which sours all the beer when it tolls; the figures thatstrike the hours at St. Dunstan’s clock; the Monument; the lions in theTower; and the wooden giants in Guildhall. They still believe in dreamsand fortune-telling, and an old woman that lives in Bull-and-Mouth Streetmakes a tolerable subsistence by detecting stolen goods and promising thegirls good husbands. They are apt to be rendered uncomfortable by cometsand eclipses, and if a dog howls dolefully at night it is looked upon as asure sign of death in the place. There are even many ghost-storiescurrent, particularly concerning the old mansion-houses, in several ofwhich it is said strange sights are sometimes seen. Lords and ladies, theformer in full-bottomed wigs, hanging sleeves, and swords, the latter inlappets, stays, hoops, and brocade, have been seen walking up and down thegreat waste chambers on moonlight nights, and are supposed to be theshades of the ancient proprietors in their court-dresses.

Little Britain has likewise its sages and great men. One of the mostimportant of the former is a tall, dry old gentleman of the name ofSkryme, who keeps a small apothecary’s shop. He has a cadaverouscountenance, full of cavities and projections, with a brown circle roundeach eye, like a pair of horn spectacles. He is much thought of by the oldwomen, who consider him as a kind of conjurer because he has two or threestuffed alligators hanging up in his shop and several snakes in bottles.He is a great reader of almanacs and newspapers, and is much given to poreover alarming accounts of plots, conspiracies, fires, earthquakes, andvolcanic eruptions; which last phenomena he considers as signs of thetimes. He has always some dismal tale of the kind to deal out to hiscustomers with their doses, and thus at the same time puts both soul andbody into an uproar. He is a great believer in omens and predictions; andhas the prophecies of Robert Nixon and Mother Shipton by heart. No man canmake so much out of an eclipse, or even an unusually dark day; and heshook the tail of the last comet over the heads of his customers anddisciples until they were nearly frightened out of their wits. He haslately got hold of a popular legend or prophecy, on which he has beenunusually eloquent. There has been a saying current among the ancientsibyls, who treasure up these things, that when the grasshopper on the topof the Exchange shook hands with the dragon on the top of Bow Churchsteeple, fearful events would take place. This strange conjunction, itseems, has as strangely come to pass. The same architect has been engagedlately on the repairs of the cupola of the Exchange and the steeple of BowChurch; and, fearful to relate, the dragon and the grasshopper actuallylie, cheek by jole, in the yard of his workshop.

“Others,” as Mr. Skryme is accustomed to say, “may go star-gazing, andlook for conjunctions in the heavens, but here is a conjunction on theearth, near at home and under our own eyes, which surpasses all the signsand calculations of astrologers.” Since these portentous weatherco*cks havethus laid their heads together, wonderful events had already occurred. Thegood old king, notwithstanding that he had lived eighty-two years, had allat once given up the ghost; another king had mounted the throne; a royalduke had died suddenly; another, in France, had been murdered; there hadbeen radical meetings in all parts of the kingdom; the bloody scenes atManchester; the great plot in Cato Street; and, above all, the queen hadreturned to England! All these sinister events are recounted by Mr. Skyrmewith a mysterious look and a dismal shake of the head; and being takenwith his drugs, and associated in the minds of his auditors withstuffed-sea-monsters, bottled serpents, and his own visage, which is atitle-page of tribulation, they have spread great gloom through the mindsof the people of Little Britain. They shake their heads whenever they goby Bow Church, and observe that they never expected any good to come oftaking down that steeple, which in old times told nothing but gladtidings, as the history of Whittington and his Cat bears witness.

The rival oracle of Little Britain is a substantial cheesemonger, wholives in a fragment of one of the old family mansions, and is asmagnificently lodged as a round-bellied mite in the midst of one of hisown Cheshires. Indeed, he is a man of no little standing and importance,and his renown extends through Huggin lane and Lad lane, and even untoAldermanbury. His opinion is very much taken in affairs of state, havingread the Sunday papers for the last half century, together with theGentleman’s Magazine, Rapin’s History of England, and the Naval Chronicle.His head is stored with invaluable maxims which have borne the test oftime and use for centuries. It is his firm opinion that “it is a moralimpossible,” so long as England is true to herself, that anything canshake her: and he has much to say on the subject of the national debt,which, somehow or other, he proves to be a great national bulwark andblessing. He passed the greater part of his life in the purlieus of LittleBritain until of late years, when, having become rich and grown into thedignity of a Sunday cane, he begins to take his pleasure and see theworld. He has therefore made several excursions to Hampstead, Highgate,and other neighboring towns, where he has passed whole afternoons inlooking back upon the metropolis through a telescope and endeavoring todescry the steeple of St. Bartholomew’s. Not a stage-coachman ofBull-and-Mouth Street but touches his hat as he passes, and he isconsidered quite a patron at the coach-office of the Goose and Gridiron,St. Paul’s Churchyard. His family have been very urgent for him to make anexpedition to Margate, but he has great doubts of those new gimcracks, thesteamboats, and indeed thinks himself too advanced in life to undertakesea-voyages.

Little Britain has occasionally its factions and divisions, and partyspirit ran very high at one time, in consequence of two rival “BurialSocieties” being set up in the place. One held its meeting at the Swan andHorse-Shoe, and was patronized by the cheesemonger; the other at the co*ckand Crown, under the auspices of the apothecary: it is needless to saythat the latter was the most flourishing. I have passed an evening or twoat each, and have acquired much valuable information as to the best modeof being buried, the comparative merits of churchyards, together withdivers hints on the subject of patent iron coffins. I have heard thequestion discussed in all its bearings as to the legality of prohibitingthe latter on account of their durability. The feuds occasioned by thesesocieties have happily died of late; but they were for a long timeprevailing themes of controversy, the people of Little Britain beingextremely solicitous of funeral honors and of lying comfortably in theirgraves.

Besides these two funeral societies there is a third of quite a differentcast, which tends to throw the sunshine of good-humor over the wholeneighborhood. It meets once a week at a little old-fashioned house kept bya jolly publican of the name of Wagstaff, and bearing for insignia aresplendent half-moon, with a most seductive bunch of grapes. The wholeedifice is covered with inscriptions to catch the eye of the thirstywayfarer; such as “Truman, Hanbury, and Co’s Entire,” “Wine, Rum, andBrandy Vaults,” “Old Tom, Rum, and Compounds,” etc. This indeed has been atemple of Bacchus and Momus from time immemorial. It has always been inthe family of the Wagstaffs, so that its history is tolerably preserved bythe present landlord. It was much frequented by the gallants andcavalieros of the reign of Elizabeth, and was looked into now and then bythe wits of Charles the Second’s day. But what Wagstaff principally prideshimself upon is that Henry the Eighth, in one of his nocturnal rambles,broke the head of one of his ancestors with his famous walking-staff.This, however, is considered as rather a dubious and vain-glorious boastof the landlord.

The club which now holds its weekly sessions here goes by the name of “theRoaring Lads of Little Britain.” They abound in old catches, glees, andchoice stories that are traditional in the place and not to be met with inany other part of the metropolis. There is a madcap undertaker who isinimitable at a merry song, but the life of the club, and indeed the primewit of Little Britain, is bully Wagstaff himself. His ancestors were allwags before him, and he has inherited with the inn a large stock of songsand jokes, which go with it from generation to generation as heirlooms. Heis a dapper little fellow, with bandy legs and pot belly, a red face witha moist merry eye, and a little shock of gray hair behind. At the openingof every club night he is called in to sing his “Confession of Faith,” which is the famous old drinking trowl from “Gammer Gurton’s Needle.” Hesings it, to be sure, with many variations, as he received it from hisfather’s lips; for it has been a standing favorite at the Half-Moon andBunch of Grapes ever since it was written; nay, he affirms that hispredecessors have often had the honor of singing it before the nobilityand gentry at Christmas mummeries, when Little Britain was in all itsglory.*

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (97)

* As mine host of the Half-Moon’s Confession of Faith maynot be familiar to the majority of readers, and as it is aspecimen of the current songs of Little Britain, I subjoinit in its original orthography. I would observe that thewhole club always join in the chorus with a fearful thumpingon the table and clattering of pewter pots.I cannot eate but lytle meate,My stomacke is not good,But sure I thinke that I can drinkeWith him that weares a hood.Though I go bare, take ye no care,I nothing am a colde,I stuff my skyn so full within,Of joly good ale and olde.Chorus. Backe and syde go bare, go bare,Both foote and hand go colde,But, belly, God send thee good ale ynoughe,Whether it be new or olde.I have no rost, but a nut brawne tosteAnd a crab laid in the fyre;A little breade shall do me steade,Much breade I not desyre.No frost nor snow, nor winde, I trowe,Can hurte mee, if I wolde,I am so wrapt and throwly laptOf joly good ale and olde.Chorus. Backe and syde go bare, go bare, etc.And Tyb my wife, that, as her lyfe,Loveth well good ale to seeke,Full oft drynkes shee, tyll ye may see,The teares run downe her cheeke.Then doth shee trowle to me the bowle,Even as a mault-worme sholde,And sayth, sweete harte, I took my parteOf this jolly good ale and olde.Chorus. Backe and syde go bare, go bare, etc.Now let them drynke, tyll they nod and winke,Even as goode fellowes sholde doe,They shall not mysse to have the blisse,Good ale doth bring men to;And all poore soules that have scowred bowles,Or have them lustily trolde,God save the lyves of them and their wives,Whether they be yonge or olde.Chorus. Backe and syde go bare, go bare, etc.

It would do one’s heart good to hear, on a club night, the shouts ofmerriment, the snatches of song, and now and then the choral bursts ofhalf a dozen discordant voices, which issue from this jovial mansion. Atsuch times the street is lined with listeners, who enjoy a delight equalto that of gazing into a confectioner’s window or snuffing up the steamsof a cook-shop.

There are two annual events which produce great stir and sensation inLittle Britain: these are St. Bartholomew’s Fair and the Lord Mayor’s Day.During the time of the Fair, which is held in the adjoining regions ofSmithfield, there is nothing going on but gossiping and gadding about. Thelate quiet streets of Little Britain are overrun with an irruption ofstrange figures and faces; every tavern is a scene of rout and revel. Thefiddle and the song are heard from the taproom morning, noon, and night;and at each window may be seen some group of boon companions, withhalf-shut eyes, hats on one side, pipe in mouth and tankard in hand,fondling and prosing, and singing maudlin songs over their liquor. Eventhe sober decorum of private families, which I must say is rigidly kept upat other times among my neighbors, is no proof against this saturnalia.There is no such thing as keeping maid-servants within doors. Their brainsare absolutely set madding with Punch and the Puppet-Show, the FlyingHorses, Signior Polito, the Fire-Eater, the celebrated Mr. Paap, and theIrish Giant. The children too lavish all their holiday money in toys andgilt gingerbread, and fill the house with the Lilliputian din of drums,trumpets, and penny whistles.

But the Lord Mayor’s Day is the great anniversary. The Lord Mayor islooked up to by the inhabitants of Little Britain as the greatestpotentate upon earth, his gilt coach with six horses as the summit ofhuman splendor, and his procession, with all the sheriffs and aldermen inhis train, as the grandest of earthly pageants. How they exult in the ideathat the king himself dare not enter the city without first knocking atthe gate of Temple Bar and asking permission of the Lord Mayor; for if hedid, heaven and earth! there is no knowing what might be the consequence.The man in armor who rides before the Lord Mayor, and is the citychampion, has orders to cut down everybody that offends against thedignity of the city; and then there is the little man with a velvetporringer on his head, who sits at the window of the state coach and holdsthe city sword, as long as a pikestaff. Odd’s blood! if he once draws thatsword, Majesty itself is not safe.

Under the protection of this mighty potentate, therefore, the good peopleof Little Britain sleep in peace. Temple Bar is an effectual barrieragainst all interior foes; and as to foreign invasion, the Lord Mayor hasbut to throw himself into the Tower, call in the train-bands, and put thestanding army of Beef-eaters under arms, and he may bid defiance to theworld!

Thus wrapped up in its own concerns, its own habits, and its own opinions,Little Britain has long flourished as a sound heart to this great fungousmetropolis. I have pleased myself with considering it as a chosen spot,where the principles of sturdy John Bullism were garnered up, like seedcorn, to renew the national character when it had run to waste anddegeneracy. I have rejoiced also in the general spirit of harmony thatprevailed throughout it; for though there might now and then be a fewclashes of opinion between the adherents of the cheesemonger and theapothecary, and an occasional feud between the burial societies, yet thesewere but transient clouds and soon passed away. The neighbors met withgood-will, parted with a shake of the hand, and never abused each otherexcept behind their backs.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (98)


I could give rare descriptions of snug junketing parties at which I havebeen present, where we played at All-Fours, Pope-Joan, Tom-come-tickle-me,and other choice old games, and where we sometimes had a good old Englishcountry dance to the tune of Sir Roger de Coverley. Once a year also theneighbors would gather together and go on a gypsy party to Epping Forest.It would have done any man’s heart good to see the merriment that tookplace here as we banqueted on the grass under the trees. How we made thewoods ring with bursts of laughter at the songs of little Wagstaff and themerry undertaker! After dinner, too, the young folks would play atblindman’s-buff and hide-and-seek, and it was amusing to see them tangledamong the briers, and to hear a fine romping girl now and then squeak fromamong the bushes. The elder folks would gather round the cheesemonger andthe apothecary to hear them talk politics, for they generally brought outa newspaper in their pockets to pass away time in the country. They wouldnow and then, to be sure, get a little warm in argument; but theirdisputes were always adjusted by reference to a worthy old umbrella-makerin a double chin, who, never exactly comprehending the subject, managedsomehow or other to decide in favor of both parties.

All empires, however, says some philosopher or historian, are doomed tochanges and revolutions. Luxury and innovation creep in, factions arise,and families now and then spring up whose ambition and intrigues throw thewhole system into confusion. Thus in letter days has the tranquillity ofLittle Britain been grievously disturbed and its golden simplicity ofmanners threatened with total subversion by the aspiring family of aretired butcher.

The family of the Lambs had long been among the most thriving and popularin the neighborhood: the Miss Lambs were the belles of Little Britain, andeverybody was pleased when Old Lamb had made money enough to shut up shopand put his name on a brass plate on his door. In an evil hour, however,one of the Miss Lambs had the honor of being a lady in attendance on theLady Mayoress at her grand annual ball, on which occasion she wore threetowering ostrich feathers on her head. The family never got over it; theywere immediately smitten with a passion for high life; set up a one-horsecarriage, put a bit of gold lace round the errand-boy’s hat, and have beenthe talk and detestation of the whole neighborhood ever since. They couldno longer be induced to play at Pope-Joan or blindman’s-buff; they couldendure no dances but quadrilles, which nobody had ever heard of in LittleBritain; and they took to reading novels, talking bad French, and playingupon the piano. Their brother, too, who had been articled to an attorney,set up for a dandy and a critic, characters hitherto unknown in theseparts, and he confounded the worthy folks exceedingly by talking aboutKean, the Opera, and the “Edinburgh Review.”

What was still worse, the Lambs gave a grand ball, to which they neglectedto invite any of their old neighbors; but they had a great deal of genteelcompany from Theobald’s Road, Red Lion Square, and other parts towards thewest. There were several beaux of their brother’s acquaintance from Gray’sInn Lane and Hatton Garden, and not less than three aldermen’s ladies withtheir daughters. This was not to be forgotten or forgiven. All LittleBritain was in an uproar with the smacking of whips, the lashing of inmiserable horses, and the rattling and jingling of hackney-coaches. Thegossips of the neighborhood might be seen popping their night-caps out atevery window, watching the crazy vehicles rumble by; and there was a knotof virulent old cronies that kept a look-out from a house just oppositethe retired butcher’s and scanned and criticised every one that knocked atthe door.

This dance was a cause of almost open war, and the whole neighborhooddeclared they would have nothing more to say to the Lambs. It is true thatMrs. Lamb, when she had no engagements with her quality acquaintance,would give little humdrum tea-junketings to some of her old cronies,“quite,” as she would say, “in a friendly way;” and it is equally truethat her invitations were always accepted, in spite of all previous vowsto the contrary. Nay, the good ladies would sit and be delighted with themusic of the Miss Lambs, who would condescend to strum an Irish melody forthem on the piano; and they would listen with wonderful interest to Mrs.Lamb’s anecdotes of Alderman Plunket’s family, of Portsoken Ward, and theMiss Timberlakes, the rich heiresses of Crutched Friars but then theyrelieved their consciences and averted the reproaches of theirconfederates by canvassing at the next gossiping convocation everythingthat had passed, and pulling the Lambs and their rout all to pieces.

The only one of the family that could not be made fashionable was theretired butcher himself. Honest Lamb, in spite of the meekness of hisname, was a rough, hearty old fellow, with the voice of a lion, a head ofblack hair like a shoe-brush, and a broad face mottled like his own beef.It was in vain that the daughters always spoke of him as “the oldgentleman,” addressed him as “papa” in tones of infinite softness, andendeavored to coax him into a dressing-gown and slippers and othergentlemanly habits. Do what they might, there was no keeping down thebutcher. His sturdy nature would break through all their glozings. He hada hearty vulgar good-humor that was irrepressible. His very jokes made hissensitive daughters shudder, and he persisted in wearing his blue cottoncoat of a morning, dining at two o’clock, and having a “bit of sausagewith his tea.”

He was doomed, however, to share the unpopularity of his family. He foundhis old comrades gradually growing cold and civil to him, no longerlaughing at his jokes, and now and then throwing out a fling at “somepeople” and a hint about “quality binding.” This both nettled andperplexed the honest butcher; and his wife and daughters, with theconsummate policy of the shrewder sex, taking advantage of thecirc*mstance, at length prevailed upon him to give up his afternoon’s pipeand tankard at Wagstaff’s, to sit after dinner by himself and take hispint of port—a liquor he detested—and to nod in his chair insolitary and dismal gentility.

The Miss Lambs might now be seen flaunting along the streets in Frenchbonnets with unknown beaux, and talking and laughing so loud that itdistressed the nerves of every good lady within hearing. They even went sofar as to attempt patronage, and actually induced a French dancing masterto set up in the neighborhood; but the worthy folks of Little Britain tookfire at it, and did so persecute the poor Gaul that he was fain to pack upfiddle and dancing-pumps and decamp with such precipitation that heabsolutely forgot to pay for his lodgings.

I had flattered myself, at first, with the idea that all this fieryindignation on the part of the community was merely the overflowing oftheir zeal for good old English manners and their horror of innovation,and I applauded the silent contempt they were so vociferous in expressingfor upstart pride, French fashions and the Miss Lambs. But I grieve to saythat I soon perceived the infection had taken hold, and that my neighbors,after condemning, were beginning to follow their example. I overheard mylandlady importuning her husband to let their daughters have one quarterat French and music, and that they might take a few lessons in quadrille.I even saw, in the course of a few Sundays, no less than five Frenchbonnets, precisely like those of the Miss Lambs, parading about LittleBritain.

I still had my hopes that all this folly would gradually die away, thatthe Lambs might move out of the neighborhood, might die, or might run awaywith attorneys’ apprentices, and that quiet and simplicity might be againrestored to the community. But unluckily a rival power arose. An opulentoilman died, and left a widow with a large jointure and a family of buxomdaughters. The young ladies had long been repining in secret at theparsimony of a prudent father, which kept down all their elegantaspirings. Their ambition, being now no longer restrained, broke out intoa blaze, and they openly took the field against the family of the butcher.It is true that the Lambs, having had the first start, had naturally anadvantage of them in the fashionable career. They could speak a little badFrench, play the piano, dance quadrilles, and had formed highacquaintances; but the Trotters were not to be distanced. When the Lambsappeared with two feathers in their hats, the Miss Trotters mounted fourand of twice as fine colors. If the Lambs gave a dance, the Trotters weresure not to be behindhand; and, though they might not boast of as goodcompany, yet they had double the number and were twice as merry.

The whole community has at length divided itself into fashionable factionsunder the banners of these two families. The old games of Pope-Joan andTom-come-tickle-me are entirely discarded; there is no such thing asgetting up an honest country dance; and on my attempting to kiss a younglady under the mistletoe last Christmas, I was indignantly repulsed, theMiss Lambs having pronounced it “shocking vulgar.” Bitter rivalry has alsobroken out as to the most fashionable part of Little Britain, the Lambsstanding up for the dignity of Cross-Keys Square, and the Trotters for thevicinity of St. Bartholomew’s.

Thus is this little territory torn by factions and internal dissensions,like the great empire whose name it bears; and what will be the resultwould puzzle the apothecary himself, with all his talent at prognostics,to determine, though I apprehend that it will terminate in the totaldownfall of genuine John Bullism.

The immediate effects are extremely unpleasant to me. Being a single man,and, as I observed before, rather an idle good-for-nothing personage, Ihave been considered the only gentleman by profession in the place. Istand therefore in high favor with both parties, and have to hear alltheir cabinet counsels and mutual backbitings. As I am too civil not toagree with the ladies on all occasions, I have committed myself mosthorribly with both parties by abusing their opponents. I might manage toreconcile this to my conscience, which is a truly accommodating one, but Icannot to my apprehension: if the Lambs and Trotters ever come to areconciliation and compare notes, I am ruined!

I have determined, therefore, to beat a retreat in time, and am actuallylooking out for some other nest in this great city where old Englishmanners are still kept up, where French is neither eaten, drunk, danced,nor spoken, and where there are no fashionable families of retiredtradesmen. This found, I will, like a veteran rat, hasten away before Ihave an old house about my ears, bid a long, though a sorrowful adieu tomy present abode, and leave the rival factions of the Lambs and theTrotters to divide the distracted empire of LITTLE BRITAIN.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (99)


The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (100)



Thou soft-flowing Avon, by thy silver stream Of things more than mortalsweet Shakespeare would dream The fairies by moonlight dance round hisgreen bed, For hallow’d the turf is which pillow’d his head.


TO a homeless man, who has no spot on this wide world which he can trulycall his own, there is a momentary feeling of something like independenceand territorial consequence when, after a weary day’s travel, he kicks offhis boots, thrusts his feet into slippers, and stretches himself before aninn-fire. Let the world without go as it may, let kingdoms rise or fall,so long as he has the wherewithal to pay his bill he is, for the timebeing, the very monarch of all he surveys. The armchair is his throne, thepoker his sceptre, and the little parlor, some twelve feet square, hisundisputed empire. It is a morsel of certainly snatched from the midst ofthe uncertainties of life; it is a sunny moment gleaming out kindly on acloudy day: and he who has advanced some way on the pilgrimage ofexistence knows the importance of husbanding even morsels and moments ofenjoyment. “Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?” thought I, as I gavethe fire a stir, lolled back in my elbow-chair, and cast a complacent lookabout the little parlor of the Red Horse at Stratford-on-Avon.

The words of sweet Shakespeare were just passing through my mind as theclock struck midnight from the tower of the church in which he liesburied. There was a gentle tap at the door, and a pretty chambermaid,putting in her smiling face, inquired, with a hesitating air, whether Ihad rung. I understood it as a modest hint that it was time to retire. Mydream of absolute dominion was at an end; so abdicating my throne, like aprudent potentate, to avoid being deposed, and putting the StratfordGuide-Book under my arm as a pillow companion, I went to bed, and dreamtall night of Shakespeare, the jubilee, and David Garrick.

The next morning was one of those quickening mornings which we sometimeshave in early spring, for it was about the middle of March. The chills ofa long winter had suddenly given way; the north wind had spent its lastgasp; and a mild air came stealing from the west, breathing the breath oflife into Nature, and wooing every bud and flower to burst forth intofragrance and beauty.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (101)


I had come to Stratford on a poetical pilgrimage. My first visit was tothe house where Shakespeare was born, and where, according to tradition,he was brought up to his father’s craft of wool-combing. It is a smallmean-looking edifice of wood and plaster, a true nestling-place of genius,which seems to delight in hatching its offspring in by-corners. The wallsof its squalid chambers are covered with names and inscriptions in everylanguage by pilgrims of all nations, ranks, and conditions, from theprince to the peasant, and present a simple but striking instance of thespontaneous and universal homage of mankind to the great poet of Nature.

The house is shown by a garrulous old lady in a frosty red face, lightedup by a cold blue, anxious eye, and garnished with artificial locks offlaxen hair curling from under an exceedingly dirty cap. She waspeculiarly assiduous in exhibiting the relics with which this, like allother celebrated shrines, abounds. There was the shattered stock of thevery matchlock with which Shakespeare shot the deer on his poachingexploits. There, too, was his tobacco-box, which proves that he was arival smoker of Sir Walter Raleigh: the sword also with which he playedHamlet; and the identical lantern with which Friar Laurence discoveredRomeo and Juliet at the tomb. There was an ample supply also ofShakespeare’s mulberry tree, which seems to have as extraordinary powersof self-multiplication as the wood of the true cross, of which there isenough extant to build a ship of the line.

The most favorite object of curiosity, however, is Shakespeare’s chair. Itstands in a chimney-nook of a small gloomy chamber just behind what washis father’s shop. Here he may many a time have sat when a boy, watchingthe slowly revolving spit with all the longing of an urchin, or of anevening listening to the cronies and gossips of Stratford dealing forthchurchyard tales and legendary anecdotes of the troublesome times ofEngland. In this chair it is the custom of every one that visits the houseto sit: whether this be done with the hope of imbibing any of theinspiration of the bard I am at a loss to say; I merely mention the fact,and mine hostess privately assured me that, though built of solid oak,such was the fervent zeal of devotees the chair had to be new bottomed atleast once in three years. It is worthy of notice also, in the history ofthis extraordinary chair, that it partakes something of the volatilenature of the Santa Casa of Loretto, or the flying chair of the Arabianenchanter; for, though sold some few years since to a northern princess,yet, strange to tell, it has found its way back again to the oldchimney-corner.

I am always of easy faith in such matters, and am ever willing to bedeceived where the deceit is pleasant and costs nothing. I am therefore aready believer in relics, legends, and local anecdotes of goblins andgreat men, and would advise all travellers who travel for theirgratification to be the same. What is it to us whether these stories betrue or false, so long as we can persuade ourselves into the belief ofthem and enjoy all the charm of the reality? There is nothing likeresolute good-humored credulity in these matters, and on this occasion Iwent even so far as willingly to believe the claims of mine hostess to alineal descent from the poet, when, unluckily for my faith, she put intomy hands a play of her own composition, which set all belief in her ownconsanguinity at defiance.

From the birthplace of Shakespeare a few paces brought me to his grave. Helies buried in the chancel of the parish church, a large and venerablepile, mouldering with age, but richly ornamented. It stands on the banksof the Avon on an embowered point, and separated by adjoining gardens fromthe suburbs of the town. Its situation is quiet and retired; the riverruns murmuring at the foot of the churchyard, and the elms which grow uponits banks droop their branches into its clear bosom. An avenue of limes,the boughs of which are curiously interlaced, so as to form in summer anarched way of foliage, leads up from the gate of the yard to thechurch-porch. The graves are overgrown with grass; the gray tombstones,some of them nearly sunk into the earth, are half covered with moss, whichhas likewise tinted the reverend old building. Small birds have builttheir nests among the cornices and fissures of the walls, and keep up acontinual flutter and chirping; and rooks are sailing and cawing about itslofty gray spire.

In the course of my rambles I met with the gray-headed sexton, Edmonds,and accompanied him home to get the key of the church. He had lived inStratford, man and boy, for eighty years, and seemed still to considerhimself a vigorous man, with the trivial exception that he had nearly lostthe use of his legs for a few years past. His dwelling was a cottagelooking out upon the Avon and its bordering meadows, and was a picture ofthat neatness, order, and comfort which pervade the humblest dwellings inthis country. A low whitewashed room, with a stone floor carefullyscrubbed, served for parlor, kitchen, and hall. Rows of pewter and earthendishes glittered along the dresser. On an old oaken table, well rubbed andpolished, lay the family Bible and prayer-book, and the drawer containedthe family library, composed of about half a score of well-thumbedvolumes. An ancient clock, that important article of cottage furniture,ticked on the opposite side of the room, with a bright warming-pan hangingon one side of it, and the old man’s horn-handled Sunday cane on theother. The fireplace, as usual, was wide and deep enough to admit a gossipknot within its jambs. In one corner sat the old man’s granddaughtersewing, a pretty blue-eyed girl, and in the opposite corner was asuperannuated crony whom he addressed by the name of John Ange, and who, Ifound, had been his companion from childhood. They had played together ininfancy; they had worked together in manhood; they were now totteringabout and gossiping away the evening of life; and in a short time theywill probably be buried together in the neighboring churchyard. It is notoften that we see two streams of existence running thus evenly andtranquilly side by side; it is only in such quiet “bosom scenes” of lifethat they are to be met with.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (102)


I had hoped to gather some traditionary anecdotes of the bard from theseancient chroniclers, but they had nothing new to impart. The long intervalduring which Shakespeare’s writings lay in comparative neglect has spreadits shadow over his history, and it is his good or evil lot that scarcelyanything remains to his biographers but a scanty handful of conjectures.

The sexton and his companion had been employed as carpenters on thepreparations for the celebrated Stratford Jubilee, and they rememberedGarrick, the prime mover of the fete, who superintended the arrangements,and who, according to the sexton, was “a short punch man, very lively andbustling.” John Ange had assisted also in cutting down Shakespeare’smulberry tree, of which he had a morsel in his pocket for sale; no doubt asovereign quickener of literary conception.

I was grieved to hear these two worthy wights speak very dubiously of theeloquent dame who shows the Shakespeare house. John Ange shook his headwhen I mentioned her valuable and inexhaustible collection of relics,particularly her remains of the mulberry tree; and the old sexton evenexpressed a doubt as to Shakespeare having been born in her house. I soondiscovered that he looked upon her mansion with an evil eye, as a rival tothe poet’s tomb, the latter having comparatively but few visitors. Thus itis that historians differ at the very outset, and mere pebbles make thestream of truth diverge into different channels even at the fountain-head.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (103)


We approached the church through the avenue of limes, and entered by aGothic porch, highly ornamented, with carved doors of massive oak. Theinterior is spacious, and the architecture and embellishments superior tothose of most country churches. There are several ancient monuments ofnobility and gentry, over some of which hang funeral escutcheons andbanners dropping piecemeal from the walls. The tomb of Shakespeare is inthe chancel. The place is solemn and sepulchral. Tall elms wave before thepointed windows, and the Avon, which runs at a short distance from thewalls, keeps up a low perpetual murmur. A flat stone marks the spot wherethe bard is buried. There are four lines inscribed on it, said to havebeen written by himself, and which have in them something extremely awful.If they are indeed his own, they show that solicitude about the quiet ofthe grave which seems natural to fine sensibilities and thoughtful minds:

Good friend, for Jesus’ sake, forbeareTo dig the dust inclosed here.Blessed be he that spares these stones,And curst be he that moves my bones.

Just over the grave, in a niche of the wall, is a bust of Shakespeare, putup shortly after his death and considered as a resemblance. The aspect ispleasant and serene, with a finely-arched forehead; and I thought I couldread in it clear indications of that cheerful, social disposition by whichhe was as much characterized among his contemporaries as by the vastnessof his genius. The inscription mentions his age at the time of hisdecease, fifty-three years—an untimely death for the world, for whatfruit might not have been expected from the golden autumn of such a mind,sheltered as it was from the stormy vicissitudes of life, and flourishingin the sunshine of popular and royal favor?

The inscription on the tombstone has not been without its effect. It hasprevented the removal of his remains from the bosom of his native place toWestminster Abbey, which was at one time contemplated. A few years sincealso, as some laborers were digging to make an adjoining vault, the earthcaved in, so as to leave a vacant space almost like an arch, through whichone might have reached into his grave. No one, however, presumed to meddlewith his remains so awfully guarded by a malediction; and lest any of theidle or the curious or any collector of relics should be tempted to commitdepredations, the old sexton kept watch over the place for two days, untilthe vault was finished and the aperture closed again. He told me that hehad made bold to look in at the hole, but could see neither coffin norbones—nothing but dust. It was something, I thought, to have seenthe dust of Shakespeare.

Next to this grave are those of his wife, his favorite daughter, Mrs.Hall, and others of his family. On a tomb close by, also, is a full-lengtheffigy of his old friend John Combe, of usurious memory, on whom he issaid to have written a ludicrous epitaph. There are other monumentsaround, but the mind refuses to dwell on anything that is not connectedwith Shakespeare. His idea pervades the place; the whole pile seems but ashis mausoleum. The feelings, no longer checked and thwarted by doubt, hereindulge in perfect confidence: other traces of him may be false ordubious, but here is palpable evidence and absolute certainty. As I trodthe sounding pavement there was something intense and thrilling in theidea that in very truth the remains of Shakespeare were mouldering beneathmy feet. It was a long time before I could prevail upon myself to leavethe place; and as I passed through the churchyard I plucked a branch fromone of the yew trees, the only relic that I have brought from Stratford.

I had now visited the usual objects of a pilgrim’s devotion, but I had adesire to see the old family seat of the Lucys at Charlecot, and to ramblethrough the park where Shakespeare, in company with some of the roisterersof Stratford, committed his youthful offence of deer-stealing. In thisharebrained exploit we are told that he was taken prisoner and carried tothe keeper’s lodge, where he remained all night in doleful captivity. Whenbrought into the presence of Sir Thomas Lucy his treatment must have beengalling and humiliating; for it so wrought upon his spirit as to produce arough pasquinade which was affixed to the park gate at Charlecot.*

This flagitious attack upon the dignity of the knight so incensed him thathe applied to a lawyer at Warwick to put the severity of the laws in forceagainst the rhyming deer-stalker. Shakespeare did not wait to brave theunited puissance of a knight of the shire and a country attorney. Heforthwith abandoned the pleasant banks of the Avon and his paternal trade;wandered away to London; became a hanger-on to the theatres; then anactor; and finally wrote for the stage; and thus, through the persecutionof Sir Thomas Lucy, Stratford lost an indifferent wool-comber and theworld gained an immortal poet. He retained, however, for a long time, asense of the harsh treatment of the lord of Charlecot, and revengedhimself in his writings, but in the sportive way of a good-natured mind.Sir Thomas is said to be the original of Justice Shallow, and the satireis slyly fixed upon him by the justice’s armorial bearings, which, likethose of the knight, had white luces+ in the quarterings.

* The following is the only stanza extant of this lampoon:A parliament member, a justice of peace,At home a poor scarecrow, at London an asse,If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,Then Lucy is lowsie, whatever befall it.He thinks himself great;Yet an asse in his state,We allow by his ears but with asses to mate,If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,Then sing lowsie Lucy whatever befall it.+ The luce is a pike or jack, and abounds in the Avon aboutCharlecot.

Various attempts have been made by his biographers to soften and explainaway this, early transgression of the poet; but I look upon it as one ofthose thoughtless exploits natural to his situation and turn of mind.Shakespeare, when young, had doubtless all the wildness and irregularityof an ardent, undisciplined, and undirected genius. The poetic temperamenthas naturally something in it of the vagabond. When left to itself it runsloosely and wildly, and delights in everything eccentric and licentious.It is often a turn up of a die, in the gambling freaks of fate, whether anatural genius shall turn out a great rogue or a great poet; and had notShakespeare’s mind fortunately taken a literary bias, he might have asdaringly transcended all civil as he has all dramatic laws.

I have little doubt that, in early life, when running like an unbrokencolt about the neighborbood of Stratford, he was to be found in thecompany of all kinds of odd anomalous characters, that he associated withall the madcaps of the place, and was one of those unlucky urchins atmention of whom old men shake their heads and predict that they will oneday come to the gallows. To him the poaching in Sir Thomas Lucy’s park wasdoubtless like a foray to a Scottish knight, and struck his eager, and asyet untamed, imagination as something delightfully adventurous.*

* A proof of Shakespeare’s random habits and associates inhis youthful days may be found in a traditionary anecdote,picked up at Stratford by the elder Ireland, and mentionedin his “Picturesque Views on the Avon.” 

About seven miles from Stratford lies the thirsty little market-town ofBedford, famous for its ale. Two societies of the village yeomanry used tomeet, under the appellation of the Bedford topers, and to challenge thelovers of good ale of the neighboring villages to a contest of drinking.Among others, the people of Stratford were called out to prove thestrength of their heads; and in the number of the champions wasShakespeare, who, in spite of the proverb that “they who drink beer willthink beer,” was as true to his ale as Falstaff to his sack. The chivalryof Stratford was staggered at the first onset, and sounded a retreat whilethey had yet the legs to carry them off the field. They had scarcelymarched a mile when, their legs failing them, they were forced to lie downunder a crab tree, where they passed the night. It was still standing, andgoes by the name of Shakespeare’s tree.

In the morning his companions awaked the bard, and proposed returning toBedford, but he declined, saying he had enough, having drank with

Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,Haunted Hilbro’, Hungry Grafton,Dudging Exhall, Papist Wicksford,Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bedford.

“The villages here alluded to,” says Ireland, “still bear the epithetsthus given them: the people of Pebworth are still famed for their skill onthe pipe and tabor; Hilborough is now called Haunted Hilborough; andGrafton is famous for the poverty of its soil.”

The old mansion of Charlecot and its surrounding park still remain in thepossession of the Lucy family, and are peculiarly interesting front beingconnected with this whimsical but eventful circ*mstance in the scantyhistory of the bard. As the house stood at little more than three miles’distance from Stratford, I resolved to pay it a pedestrian visit, that Imight stroll leisurely through some of those scenes from which Shakespearemust have derived his earliest ideas of rural imagery.

The country was yet naked and leafless, but English scenery is alwaysverdant, and the sudden change in the temperature of the weather wassurprising in its quickening effects upon the landscape. It was inspiringand animating to witness this first awakening of spring; to feel its warmbreath stealing over the senses; to see the moist mellow earth beginningto put forth the green sprout and the tender blade, and the trees andshrubs, in their reviving tints and bursting buds, giving the promise ofreturning foliage and flower. The cold snow-drop, that little borderer onthe skirts of winter, was to be seen with its chaste white blossoms in thesmall gardens before the cottages. The bleating of the new-dropt lambs wasfaintly heard from the fields. The sparrow twittered about the thatchedeaves and budding hedges; the robin threw a livelier note into his latequerulous wintry strain; and the lark, springing up from the reeking bosomof the meadow, towered away into the bright fleecy cloud, pouring forthtorrents of melody. As I watched the little songster mounting up higherand higher, until his body was a mere speck on the white bosom of thecloud, while the ear was still filled with his music, it called to mindShakespeare’s exquisite little song in Cymbeline:

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (104)

Hark! hark! the lark at heav’n’s gate sings,And Phoebus ‘gins arise,His steeds to water at those springs,On chaliced flowers that lies.And winking mary-buds beginTo ope their golden eyes;With every thing that pretty bin,My lady sweet arise!

Indeed, the whole country about here is poetic ground: everything isassociated with the idea of Shakespeare. Every old cottage that I saw Ifancied into some resort of his boyhood, where he had acquired hisintimate knowledge of rustic life and manners, and heard those legendarytales and wild superstitions which he has woven like witchcraft into hisdramas. For in his time, we are told, it was a popular amusem*nt in winterevenings “to sit round the fire, and tell merry tales of errant knights,queens, lovers, lords, ladies, giants, dwarfs, thieves, cheaters, witches,fairies, goblins, and friars.” *

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (105)

* Scot, in his “Discoverie of Witchcraft,” enumerates a ofthese fireside fancies: “And they have so fraid us with hostbull-beggars, spirits, witches, urchins, elves, hags,fairies, satyrs, pans, faunes, syrens, kit with the cansticke, tritons, centaurs, dwarfes, giantes, imps, calcars,conjurors, nymphes, changelings, incubus, Robin-goodfellow,the spoorne, the mare, the man in the oke, the hell-waine,the fier drake, the puckle, Tom Thombe, hobgoblins, TomTumbler, boneless, and such other bugs, that we were afraidof our own shadowes.” 

My route for a part of the way lay in sight of the Avon, which made avariety of the most fancy doublings and windings through a wide andfertile valley—sometimes glittering from among willows which fringedits borders; sometimes disappearing among groves or beneath green banks;and sometimes rambling out into full view and making an azure sweep rounda slope of meadow-land. This beautiful bosom of country is called the Valeof the Red Horse. A distant line of undulating blue hills seems to be itsboundary, whilst all the soft intervening landscape lies in a mannerenchained in the silver links of the Avon.

After pursuing the road for about three miles, I turned off into afootpath, which led along the borders of fields and under hedgerows to aprivate gate of the park; there was a stile, however, for the benefit ofthe pedestrian, there being a public right of way through the grounds. Idelight in these hospitable estates, in which every one has a kind ofproperty—at least as far as the footpath is concerned. It in somemeasure reconciles a poor man to his lot, and, what is more, to the betterlot of his neighbor, thus to have parks and pleasure-grounds thrown openfor his recreation. He breathes the pure air as freely and lolls asluxuriously under the shade as the lord of the soil; and if he has not theprivilege of calling all that he sees his own, he has not, at the sametime, the trouble of paying for it and keeping it in order.

I now found myself among noble avenues of oaks and elms, whose vast sizebespoke the growth of centuries. The wind sounded solemnly among theirbranches, and the rooks cawed from their hereditary nests in thetree-tops. The eye ranged through a long lessening vista, with nothing tointerrupt the view but a distant statue and a vagrant deer stalking like ashadow across the opening.

There is something about these stately old avenues that has the effect ofGothic architecture, not merely from the pretended similarity of form, butfrom their bearing the evidence of long duration, and of having had theirorigin in a period of time with which we associate ideas of romanticgrandeur. They betoken also the long-settled dignity andproudly-concentrated independence of an ancient family; and I have heard aworthy but aristocratic old friend observe, when speaking of the sumptuouspalaces of modern gentry, that “money could do much with stone and mortar,but thank Heaven! there was no such thing as suddenly building up anavenue of oaks.”

It was from wandering in early life among this rich scenery, and about theromantic solitudes of the adjoining park of Fullbroke, which then formed apart of the Lucy estate, that some of Shakepeare’s commentators havesupposed he derived his noble forest meditations of Jaques and theenchanting woodland pictures in “As You Like It.” It is in lonelywanderings through such scenes that the mind drinks deep but quietdraughts of inspiration, and becomes intensely sensible of the beauty andmajesty of Nature. The imagination kindles into reverie and rapture, vaguebut exquisite images and ideas keep breaking upon it, and we revel in amute and almost incommunicable luxury of thought. It was in some suchmood, and perhaps under one of those very trees before me, which threwtheir broad shades over the grassy banks and quivering waters of the Avon,that the poet’s fancy may have sallied forth into that little song whichbreathes the very soul of a rural voluptuary

Unto the greenwood tree,Who loves to lie with meAnd tune his merry throatUnto the sweet bird’s note,Come hither, come hither, come hither.Here shall he seeNo enemy,But winter and rough weather.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (106)


I had now come in sight of the house. It is a large building of brick withstone quoins, and is in the Gothic style of Queen Elizabeth’s day, havingbeen built in the first year of her reign. The exterior remains verynearly in its original state, and may be considered a fair specimen of theresidence of a wealthy country gentleman of those days. A great gatewayopens from the park into a kind of courtyard in front of the house,ornamented with a grassplot, shrubs, and flower-beds. The gateway is inimitation of the ancient barbacan, being a kind of outpost and flanked bytowers, though evidently for mere ornament, instead of defence. The frontof the house is completely in the old style with stone-shafted casem*nts,a great bow-window of heavy stone-work, and a portal with armorialbearings over it carved in stone. At each corner of the building is anoctagon tower surmounted by a gilt ball and weather-co*ck.

The Avon, which winds through the park, makes a bend just at the foot of agently-sloping bank which sweeps down from the rear of the house. Largeherds of deer were feeding or reposing upon its borders, and swans weresailing majestically upon its bosom. As I contemplated the venerable oldmansion I called to mind Falstaff’s encomium on Justice Shallow’s abode,and the affected indifference and real vanity of the latter:

“Falstaff. You have a goodly dwelling and a rich. Shallow. Barren, barren,barren; beggars all, beggars all, Sir John:—marry, good air.”

Whatever may have been the joviality of the old mansion in the days ofShakespeare, it had now an air of stillness and solitude. The great irongateway that opened into the courtyard was locked, there was no show ofservants bustling about the place; the deer gazed quietly at me as Ipassed, being no longer harried by the moss-troopers of Stratford. Theonly sign of domestic life that I met with was a white cat stealing withwary look and stealthy pace towards the stables, as if on some nefariousexpedition. I must not omit to mention the carcass of a scoundrel crowwhich I saw suspended against the barn-wall, as it shows that the Lucysstill inherit that lordly abhorrence of poachers and maintain thatrigorous exercise of territorial power which was so strenuously manifestedin the case of the bard.

After prowling about for some time, I at length found my way to a lateralportal, which was the every-day entrance to the mansion. I was courteouslyreceived by a worthy old housekeeper, who, with the civility andcommunicativeness of her order, showed me the interior of the house. Thegreater part has undergone alterations and been adapted to modern tastesand modes of living: there is a fine old oaken staircase, and the greathall, that noble feature in an ancient manor-house, still retains much ofthe appearance it must have had in the days of Shakespeare. The ceiling isarched and lofty, and at one end is a gallery in which stands an organ.The weapons and trophies of the chase, which formerly adorned the hall ofa country gentleman, have made way for family portraits. There is a wide,hospitable fireplace, calculated for an ample old-fashioned wood fire,formerly the rallying-place of winter festivity. On the opposite side ofthe hall is the huge Gothic bow-window, with stone shafts, which looks outupon the courtyard. Here are emblazoned in stained glass the armorialbearings of the Lucy family for many generations, some being dated in1558. I was delighted to observe in the quarterings the three white lucesby which the character of Sir Thomas was first identified with that ofJustice Shallow. They are mentioned in the first scene of the “Merry Wivesof Windsor,” where the justice, is in a rage with Falstaff for having“beaten his men, killed his deer, and broken into his lodge.” The poet hadno doubt the offences of himself and his comrades in mind at the time, andwe may suppose the family pride and vindictive threats of the puissantShallow to be a caricature of the pompous indignation of Sir Thomas.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (107)


“Shallow. Sir Hugh, persuade me not: I will make a Star Chamber matter ofit; if he were twenty John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Sir RobertShallow, Esq.

Slender. In the county of Gloster, justice of peace and coram.

Shallow. Ay, cousin Slender, and custalorum.

Slender. Ay, and ratolorum too, and a gentleman born, master parson; whowrites himself Armigero in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation,Armigero.

Shallow. Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three hundred years.

Slender. All his successors gone before him have done’t, and all hisancestors that come after him may; they may give the dozen white luces intheir coat....

Shallow. The council shall hear it; it is a riot.

Evans. It is not meet the council hear of a riot; there is no fear of Gotin a riot; the council, hear you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got,and not to hear a riot; take your vizaments in that.

Shallow. Ha! o’ my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it!”

Near the window thus emblazoned hung a portrait, by Sir Peter Lely, of oneof the Lucy family, a great beauty of the time of Charles the Second: theold housekeeper shook her head as she pointed to the picture, and informedme that this lady had been sadly addicted to cards, and had gambled away agreat portion of the family estate, among which was that part of the parkwhere Shakespeare and his comrades had killed the deer. The lands thuslost had not been entirely regained by the family even at the present day.It is but justice to this recreant dame to confess that she had asurpassingly fine hand and arm.

The picture which most attracted my attention was a great painting overthe fireplace, containing likenesses of Sir Thomas Lucy and his family whoinhabited the hall in the latter part of Shakespeare’s lifetime. I atfirst thought that it was the vindictive knight himself, but thehousekeeper assured me that it was his son; the only likeness extant ofthe former being an effigy upon his tomb in the church of the neighboringhamlet of Charlecot.*

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (108)

* This effigy is in white marble, and represents the knightin complete armor. Near him lies the effigy of his wife, andon her tomb is the following inscription; which, if reallycomposed by her husband, places him quite above theintellectual level of Master Shallow:Here lyeth the Lady Joyce Lucy wife of Sir Thomas Lucy ofCharlecot in ye county of Warwick, Knight, Daughter and heirof Thomas Acton of Sutton in ye county of Worcester Esquirewho departed out of this wretched world to her heavenlykingdom ye 10 day of February in ye yeare of our Lord God1595 and of her age 60 and three. All the time of her lyfe atrue and faythful servant of her good God, never detected ofany cryme or vice. In religion most sounde, in love to herhusband most faythful and true. In friendship most constant;to what in trust was committed unto her most secret. Inwisdom excelling. In governing of her house, bringing up ofyouth in ye fear of God that did converse with her mosterare and singular. A great maintayner of hospitality.Greatly esteemed of her betters; misliked of none unless ofthe envyous. When all is spoken that can be saide a woman sogarnished with virtue as not to be bettered and hardly to beequalled by any. As shee lived most virtuotisly so shee diedmost Godly. Set downe by him yt best did knowe what hath bynwritten to be true.Thomas Lucye.

The picture gives a lively idea of the costume and manners of the time.Sir Thomas is dressed in ruff and doublet, white shoes with roses in them,and has a peaked yellow, or, as Master Slender would say, “a cane-coloredbeard.” His lady is seated on the opposite side of the picture in wideruff and long stomacher, and the children have a most venerable stiffnessand formality of dress. Hounds and spaniels are mingled in the familygroup; a hawk is seated on his perch in the foreground, and one of thechildren holds a bow, all intimating the knight’s skill in hunting,hawking, and archery, so indispensable to an accomplished gentleman inthose days.*

* Bishop Earle, speaking of the country gentleman of histime, observes, “His housekeeping is seen much in thedifferent families of dogs and serving-men attendant ontheir kennels; and the deepness of their throats is thedepth of his discourse. A hawk he esteems the true burden ofnobility, and is exceedingly ambitious to seem delightedwith the sport, and have his fist gloved with his jesses.” And Gilpin, in his description of a Mr. Hastings, remarks,“He kept all sorts of hounds that run buck, fox, hare,otter, and badger; and had hawks of all kinds both long andshort winged. His great hall was commonly strewed withmarrow-bones, and full of hawk perches, hounds, spaniels,and terriers. On a broad hearth, paved with brick, lay someof the choicest terriers, hounds, and spaniels.” 

I regretted to find that the ancient furniture of the hall haddisappeared; for I had hoped to meet with the stately elbow-chair ofcarved oak in which the country squire of former days was wont to sway thesceptre of empire over his rural domains, and in which it might bepresumed the redoubled Sir Thomas sat enthroned in awful state when therecreant Shakespeare was brought before him. As I like to deck outpictures for my own entertainment, I pleased myself with the idea thatthis very hall had been the scene of the unlucky bard’s examination on themorning after his captivity in the lodge. I fancied to myself the ruralpotentate surrounded by his body-guard of butler, pages, and blue-coatedserving-men with their badges, while the luckless culprit was brought in,forlorn and chopfallen, in the custody of gamekeepers, huntsmen, andwhippers-in, and followed by a rabble rout of country clowns. I fanciedbright faces of curious housemaids peeping from the half-opened doors,while from the gallery the fair daughters of the knight leaned gracefullyforward, eyeing the youthful prisoner with that pity “that dwells inwomanhood.” Who would have thought that this poor varlet, thus tremblingbefore the brief authority of a country squire, and the sport of rusticboors, was soon to become the delight of princes, the theme of all tonguesand ages, the dictator to the human mind and was to confer immortality onhis oppressor by a caricature and a lampoon?

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (109)


I was now invited by the butler to walk into the garden, and I feltinclined to visit the orchard and harbor where the justice treated SirJohn Falstaff and Cousin Silence “to a last year’s pippin of his owngrafting, with a dish of caraways;” but I had already spent so much of theday in my ramblings that I was obliged to give up any furtherinvestigations. When about to take my leave I was gratified by the civilentreaties of the housekeeper and butler that I would take somerefreshment—an instance of good old hospitality which, I grieve tosay, we castle-hunters seldom meet with in modern days. I make no doubt itis a virtue which the present representative of the Lucys inherits fromhis ancestors; for Shakespeare, even in his caricature, makes JusticeShallow importunate in this respect, as witness his pressing instances toFalstaff:

“By co*ck and pye, Sir, you shall not away to-night..... I will not excuseyou; you shall not be excused; excuses shall not be admitted; there is noexcuse shall serve; you shall not be excused.... Some pigeons, Davy, acouple of short-legged hens; a joint of mutton; and any pretty little tinykickshaws, tell ‘William Cook.’”

I now bade a reluctant farewell to the old hall. My mind had become socompletely possessed by the imaginary scenes and characters connected withit that I seemed to be actually living among them. Everything brought themas it were before my eyes, and as the door of the dining-room opened Ialmost expected to hear the feeble voice of Master Silence quavering forthhis favorite ditty:

“‘Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all,And welcome merry Shrove-tide!” 

On returning to my inn I could not but reflect on the singular gift of thepoet, to be able thus to spread the magic of his mind over the very faceof Nature, to give to things and places a charm and character not theirown, and to turn this “working-day world” into a perfect fairy-land. He isindeed the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, butupon the imagination and the heart. Under the wizard influence ofShakespeare I had been walking all day in a complete delusion. I hadsurveyed the landscape through the prism of poetry, which tinged everyobject with the hues of the rainbow. I had been surrounded with fanciedbeings, with mere airy nothings conjured up by poetic power, yet which, tome, had all the charm of reality. I had heard Jaques soliloquize beneathhis oak; had beheld the fair Rosalind and her companion adventuringthrough the woodlands; and, above all, had been once more present inspirit with fat Jack Falstaff and his contemporaries, from the augustJustice Shallow down to the gentle Master Slender and the sweet Anne Page.Ten thousand honors and blessings on the bard who has thus gilded the dullrealities of life with innocent illusions, who has spread exquisite andunbought pleasures in my chequered path, and beguiled my spirit in many alonely hour with all the cordial and cheerful sympathies of social life!

As I crossed the bridge over the Avon on my return, I paused tocontemplate the distant church in which the poet lies buried, and couldnot but exult in the malediction which has kept his ashes undisturbed inits quiet and hallowed vaults. What honor could his name have derived frombeing mingled in dusty companionship with the epitaphs and escutcheons andvenal eulogiums of a titled multitude? What would a crowded corner inWestminster Abbey have been, compared with this reverend pile, which seemsto stand in beautiful loneliness as his sole mausoleum! The solitude aboutthe grave may be but the offspring of an overwrought sensibility; buthuman nature is made up of foibles and prejudices, and its best andtenderest affections are mingled with these factitious feelings. He whohas sought renown about the world, and has reaped a full harvest ofworldly favor, will find, after all, that there is no love, no admiration,no applause, so sweet to the soul as that which springs up in his nativeplace. It is there that he seeks to be gathered in peace and honor amonghis kindred and his early friends. And when the weary heart and failinghead begin to warn him that the evening of life is drawing on, he turns asfondly as does the infant to the mother’s arms to sink to sleep in thebosom of the scene of his childhood.

How would it have cheered the spirit of the youthful bard when, wanderingforth in disgrace upon a doubtful world, he cast back a heavy look uponhis paternal home, could he have foreseen that before many years he shouldreturn to it covered with renown; that his name should become the boastand glory of his native place; that his ashes should be religiouslyguarded as its most precious treasure; and that its lessening spire, onwhich his eyes were fixed in tearful contemplation, should one day becomethe beacon towering amidst the gentle landscape to guide the literarypilgrim of every nation to his tomb!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (110)



“I appeal to any white man if ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry, and hegave him not to eat; if ever he came cold and naked, and he clothed himnot.”—Speech of au Indian Chief.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (111)

THERE is something in the character and habits of the North Americansavage, taken in connection with the scenery over which he is accustomedto range, its vast lakes, boundless forests, majestic rivers, andtrackless plains, that is, to my mind, wonderfully striking and sublime.He is formed for the wilderness, as the Arab is for the desert. His natureis stern, simple, and enduring, fitted to grapple with difficulties and tosupport privations. There seems but little soil in his heart for thesupport of the kindly virtues; and yet, if we would but take the troubleto penetrate through that proud stoicism and habitual taciturnity whichlock up his character from casual observation, we should find him linkedto his fellow-man of civilized life by more of those sympathies andaffections than are usually ascribed to him.

It has been the lot of the unfortunate aborigines of America in the earlyperiods of colonization to be doubly wronged by the white men. They havebeen dispossessed of their hereditary possessions by mercenary andfrequently wanton warfare, and their characters have been traduced bybigoted and interested writers. The colonists often treated them likebeasts of the forest, and the author has endeavored to justify him in hisoutrages. The former found it easier to exterminate than to civilize; thelatter to vilify than to discriminate. The appellations of savage andpagan were deemed sufficient to sanction the hostilities of both; and thusthe poor wanderers of the forest were persecuted and defamed, not becausethey were guilty, but because they were ignorant.

The rights of the savage have seldom been properly appreciated orrespected by the white man. In peace he has too often been the dupe ofartful traffic; in war he has been regarded as a ferocious animal whoselife or death was a question of mere precaution and convenience. Man iscruelly wasteful of life when his own safety is endangered and he issheltered by impunity, and little mercy is to be expected from him when hefeels the sting of the reptile and is conscious of the power to destroy.

The same prejudices, which were indulged thus early, exist in commoncirculation at the present day. Certain learned societies have, it istrue, with laudable diligence, endeavored to investigate and record thereal characters and manners of the Indian tribes; the American government,too, has wisely and humanely exerted itself to inculcate a friendly andforbearing spirit towards them and to protect them from fraud andinjustice.* The current opinion of the Indian character, however, is tooapt to be formed from the miserable hordes which infest the frontiers andhang on the skirts of the settlements. These are too commonly composed ofdegenerate beings, corrupted and enfeebled by the vices of society,without being benefited by its civilization. That proud independence whichformed the main pillar of savage virtue has been shaken down, and thewhole moral fabric lies in ruins. Their spirits are humiliated and debasedby a sense of inferiority, and their native courage cowed and daunted bythe superior knowledge and power of their enlightened neighbors. Societyhas advanced upon them like one of those withering airs that willsometimes breed desolation over a whole region of fertility. It hasenervated their strength, multiplied their diseases, and superinduced upontheir original barbarity the low vices of artificial life. It has giventhem a thousand superfluous wants, whilst it has diminished their means ofmere existence. It has driven before it the animals of the chase, who flyfrom the sound of the axe and the smoke of the settlement and seek refugein the depths of remoter forests and yet untrodden wilds. Thus do we toooften find the Indians on our frontiers to be the mere wrecks and remnantsof once powerful tribes, who have lingered in the vicinity of thesettlements and sunk into precarious and vagabond existence. Poverty,repining and hopeless poverty, a canker of the mind unknown in savagelife, corrodes their spirits and blights every free and noble quality oftheir natures. They become drunken, indolent, feeble, thievish, andpusillanimous. They loiter like vagrants about the settlements, amongspacious dwellings replete with elaborate comforts, which only render themsensible of the comparative wretchedness of their own condition. Luxuryspreads its ample board before their eyes, but they are excluded from thebanquet. Plenty revels over the fields, but they are starving in the midstof its abundance; the whole wilderness has blossomed into a garden, butthey feel as reptiles that infest it.

* The American Government has been indefatigable in itsexertions to ameliorate the situation of the Indians, and tointroduce among them the arts of civilization and civil andreligious knowledge. To protect them from the frauds of thewhite traders no purchase of land from them by individualsis permitted, nor is any person allowed to receive landsfrom them as a present without the express sanction ofgovernment. These precautions are strictly enforced.

How different was their state while yet the undisputed lords of the soil!Their wants were few and the means of gratification within their reach.They saw every one round them sharing the same lot, enduring the samehardships, feeding on the same aliments, arrayed in the same rudegarments. No roof then rose but was open to the homeless stranger; nosmoke curled among the trees but he was welcome to sit down by its fireand join the hunter in his repast. “For,” says an old historian of NewEngland, “their life is so void of care, and they are so loving also, thatthey make use of those things they enjoy as common goods, and are thereinso compassionate that rather than one should starve through want, theywould starve all; thus they pass their time merrily, not regarding ourpomp, but are better content with their own, which some men esteem someanly of.” Such were the Indians whilst in the pride and energy of theirprimitive natures: they resembled those wild plants which thrive best inthe shades of the forest, but shrink from the hand of cultivation andperish beneath the influence of the sun.

In discussing the savage character writers have been too prone to indulgein vulgar prejudice and passionate exaggeration, instead of the candidtemper of true philosophy. They have not sufficiently considered thepeculiar circ*mstances in which the Indians have been placed, and thepeculiar principles under which they have been educated. No being actsmore rigidly from rule than the Indian. His whole conduct is regulatedaccording to some general maxims early implanted in his mind. The morallaws that govern him are, to be sure, but few; but then he conforms tothem all; the white man abounds in laws of religion, morals, and manners,but how many does he violate!

A frequent ground of accusation against the Indians is their disregard oftreaties, and the treachery and wantonness with which, in time of apparentpeace, they will suddenly fly to hostilities. The intercourse of the whitemen with the Indians, however, is too apt to be cold, distrustful,oppressive, and insulting. They seldom treat them with that confidence andfrankness which are indispensable to real friendship, nor is sufficientcaution observed not to offend against those feelings of pride orsuperstition which often prompt the Indian to hostility quicker than mereconsiderations of interest. The solitary savage feels silently, butacutely. His sensibilities are not diffused over so wide a surface asthose of the white man, but they run in steadier and deeper channels. Hispride, his affections, his superstitions, are all directed towards fewerobjects, but the wounds inflicted on them are proportionably severe, andfurnish motives of hostility which we cannot sufficiently appreciate.Where a community is also limited in number, and forms one greatpatriarchal family, as in an Indian tribe, the injury of an individual isthe injury of the whole, and the sentiment of vengeance is almostinstantaneously diffused. One council-fire is sufficient for thediscussion and arrangement of a plan of hostilities. Here all thefighting-men and sages assemble. Eloquence and superstition combine toinflame the minds of the warriors. The orator awakens their martial ardor,and they are wrought up to a kind of religious desperation by the visionsof the prophet and the dreamer.

An instance of one of those sudden exasperations, arising from a motivepeculiar to the Indian character, is extant in an old record of the earlysettlement of Massachusetts. The planters of Plymouth had defaced themonuments of the dead at Passonagessit, and had plundered the grave of theSachem’s mother of some skins with which it had been decorated. TheIndians are remarkable for the reverence which they entertain for thesepulchres of their kindred. Tribes that have passed generations exiledfrom the abodes of their ancestors, when by chance they have beentravelling in the vicinity, have been known to turn aside from thehighway, and, guided by wonderfully accurate tradition, have crossed thecountry for miles to some tumulus, buried perhaps in woods, where thebones of their tribe were anciently deposited, and there have passed hoursin silent meditation. Influenced by this sublime and holy feeling, theSachem whose mother’s tomb had been violated gathered his men together,and addressed them in the following beautifully simple and patheticharangue—a curious specimen of Indian eloquence and an affectinginstance of filial piety in a savage:

“When last the glorious light of all the sky was underneath this globe andbirds grew silent, I began to settle, as my custom is, to take repose.Before mine eyes were fast closed methought I saw a vision, at which myspirit was much troubled; and trembling at that doleful sight, a spiritcried aloud, ‘Behold, my son, whom I have cherished, see the breasts thatgave thee suck, the hands that lapped thee warm and fed thee oft. Canstthou forget to take revenge of those wild people who have defaced mymonument in a despiteful manner, disdaining our antiquities and honorablecustoms? See, now, the Sachem’s grave lies like the common people, defacedby an ignoble race. Thy mother doth complain and implores thy aid againstthis thievish people who have newly intruded on our land. If this besuffered, I shall not rest quiet in my everlasting habitation.’ This said,the spirit vanished, and I, all in a sweat, not able scarce to speak,began to get some strength and recollect my spirits that were fled, anddetermined to demand your counsel and assistance.”

I have adduced this anecdote at some length, as it tends to show how thesesudden acts of hostility, which have been attributed to caprice andperfidy, may often arise from deep and generous motives, which ourinattention to Indian character and customs prevents our properlyappreciating.

Another ground of violent outcry against the Indians is their barbarity tothe vanquished. This had its origin partly in policy and partly insuperstition. The tribes, though sometimes called nations, were never soformidable in their numbers but that the loss of several warriors wassensibly felt; this was particularly the case when they had beenfrequently engaged in warfare; and many an instance occurs in Indianhistory where a tribe that had long been formidable to its neighbors hasbeen broken up and driven away by the capture and massacre of itsprincipal fighting-men. There was a strong temptation, therefore, to thevictor to be merciless, not so much to gratify any cruel revenge, as toprovide for future security. The Indians had also the superstitiousbelief, frequent among barbarous nations and prevalent also among theancients, that the manes of their friends who had fallen in battle weresoothed by the blood of the captives. The prisoners, however, who are notthus sacrificed are adopted into their families in the place of the slain,and are treated with the confidence and affection of relatives andfriends; nay, so hospitable and tender is their entertainment that whenthe alternative is offered them they will often prefer to remain withtheir adopted brethren rather than return to the home and the friends oftheir youth.

The cruelty of the Indians towards their prisoners has been heightenedsince the colonization of the whites. What was formerly a compliance withpolicy and superstition has been exasperated into a gratification ofvengeance. They cannot but be sensible that the white men are the usurpersof their ancient dominion, the cause of their degradation, and the gradualdestroyers of their race. They go forth to battle smarting with injuriesand indignities which they have individually suffered, and they are drivento madness and despair by the wide-spreading desolation and theoverwhelming ruin of European warfare. The whites have too frequently setthem an example of violence by burning their villages and laying wastetheir slender means of subsistence, and yet they wonder that savages donot show moderation and magnanimity towards those who have left themnothing but mere existence and wretchedness.

We stigmatize the Indians, also, as cowardly and treacherous, because theyuse stratagem in warfare in preference to open force; but in this they arefully justified by their rude code of honor. They are early taught thatstratagem is praiseworthy; the bravest warrior thinks it no disgrace tolurk in silence, and take every advantage of his foe: he triumphs in thesuperior craft and sagacity by which he has been enabled to surprise anddestroy an enemy. Indeed, man is naturally more prone to subtilty thanopen valor, owing to his physical weakness in comparison with otheranimals. They are endowed with natural weapons of defence, with horns,with tusks, with hoofs, and talons; but man has to depend on his superiorsagacity. In all his encounters with these, his proper enemies, he resortsto stratagem; and when he perversely turns his hostility against hisfellow-man, he at first continues the same subtle mode of warfare.

The natural principle of war is to do the most harm to our enemy with theleast harm to ourselves; and this of course is to be effected bystratagem. That chivalrous courage which induces us to despise thesuggestions of prudence and to rush in the face of certain danger is theoffspring of society and produced by education. It is honorable, becauseit is in fact the triumph of lofty sentiment over an instinctiverepugnance to pain, and over those yearnings after personal ease andsecurity which society has condemned as ignoble. It is kept alive by prideand the fear of shame; and thus the dread of real evil is overcome by thesuperior dread of an evil which exists but in the imagination. It has beencherished and stimulated also by various means. It has been the theme ofspirit-stirring song and chivalrous story. The poet and minstrel havedelighted to shed round it the splendors of fiction, and even thehistorian has forgotten the sober gravity of narration and broken forthinto enthusiasm and rhapsody in its praise. Triumphs and gorgeous pageantshave been its reward: monuments, on which art has exhausted its skill andopulence its treasures, have been erected to perpetuate a nation’sgratitude and admiration. Thus artificially excited, courage has risen toan extraordinary and factitious degree of heroism, and, arrayed in all theglorious “pomp and circ*mstance of war,” this turbulent quality has evenbeen able to eclipse many of those quiet but invaluable virtues whichsilently ennoble the human character and swell the tide of humanhappiness.

But if courage intrinsically consists in the defiance of danger and pain,the life of the Indian is a continual exhibition of it. He lives in astate of perpetual hostility and risk. Peril and adventure are congenialto his nature, or rather seem necessary to arouse his faculties and togive an interest to his existence. Surrounded by hostile tribes, whosemode of warfare is by ambush and surprisal, he is always prepared forfight and lives with his weapons in his hands. As the ship careers infearful singleness through the solitudes of ocean, as the bird minglesamong clouds and storms, and wings its way, a mere speck, across thepathless fields of air, so the Indian holds his course, silent, solitary,but undaunted, through the boundless bosom of the wilderness. Hisexpeditions may vie in distance and danger with the pilgrimage of thedevotee or the crusade of the knight-errant. He traverses vast forestsexposed to the hazards of lonely sickness, of lurking enemies, and piningfamine. Stormy lakes, those great inland seas, are no obstacles to hiswanderings: in his light canoe of bark he sports like a feather on theirwaves, and darts with the swiftness of an arrow down the roaring rapids ofthe rivers. His very subsistence is snatched from the midst of toil andperil. He gains his food by the hardships and dangers of the chase: hewraps himself in the spoils of the bear, the panther, and the buffalo, andsleeps among the thunders of the cataract.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (112)


No hero of ancient or modern days can surpass the Indian in his loftycontempt of death and the fortitude with which he sustains his cruelestaffliction. Indeed, we here behold him rising superior to the white man inconsequence of his peculiar education. The latter rushes to glorious deathat the cannon’s mouth; the former calmly contemplates its approach, andtriumphantly endures it amidst the varied torments of surrounding foes andthe protracted agonies of fire. He even takes a pride in taunting hispersecutors and provoking their ingenuity of torture; and as the devouringflames prey on his very vitals and the flesh shrinks from the sinews, heraises his last song of triumph, breathing the defiance of an unconqueredheart and invoking the spirits of his fathers to witness that he dieswithout a groan.

Notwithstanding the obloquy with which the early historians haveovershadowed the characters of the unfortunate natives, some bright gleamsoccasionally break through which throw a degree of melancholy lustre ontheir memories. Facts are occasionally to be met with in the rude annalsof the eastern provinces which, though recorded with the coloring ofprejudice and bigotry, yet speak for themselves, and will be dwelt on withapplause and sympathy when prejudice shall have passed away.

In one of the homely narratives of the Indian wars in New England there isa touching account of the desolation carried into the tribe of the PequodIndians. Humanity shrinks from the cold-blooded detail of indiscriminatebutchery. In one place we read of the surprisal of an Indian fort in thenight, when the wigwams were wrapped in flames and the miserableinhabitants shot down and slain in attempting to escape, “all beingdespatched and ended in the course of an hour.” After a series of similartransactions “our soldiers,” as the historian piously observes, “beingresolved by God’s assistance to make a final destruction of them,” theunhappy savages being hunted from their homes and fortresses and pursuedwith fire and sword, a scanty but gallant band, the sad remnant of thePequod warriors, with their wives and children took refuge in a swamp.

Burning with indignation and rendered sullen by despair, with heartsbursting with grief at the destruction of their tribe, and spirits galledand sore at the fancied ignominy of their defeat, they refused to asktheir lives at the hands of an insulting foe, and preferred death tosubmission.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (113)


As the night drew on they were surrounded in their dismal retreat, so asto render escape impracticable. Thus situated, their enemy “plied themwith shot all the time, by which means many were killed and buried in themire.” In the darkness and fog that preceded the dawn of day some fewbroke through the besiegers and escaped into the woods; “the rest wereleft to the conquerors, of which many were killed in the swamp, likesullen dogs who would rather, in their self-willedness and madness, sitstill and be shot through or cut to pieces” than implore for mercy. Whenthe day broke upon this handful of forlorn but dauntless spirits, thesoldiers, we are told, entering the swamp, “saw several heaps of themsitting close together, upon whom they discharged their pieces, laden withten or twelve pistol bullets at a time, putting the muzzles of the piecesunder the boughs, within a few yards of them; so as, besides those thatwere found dead, many more were killed and sunk into the mire, and neverwere minded more by friend or foe.”

Can any one read this plain unvarnished tale without admiring the sternresolution, the unbending pride, the loftiness of spirit that seemed tonerve the hearts of these self-taught heroes and to raise them above theinstinctive feelings of human nature? When the Gauls laid waste the cityof Rome, they found the senators clothed in their robes and seated withstern tranquillity in their curule chairs; in this manner they suffereddeath without resistance or even supplication. Such conduct was in themapplauded as noble and magnanimous; in the hapless Indian it was reviledas obstinate and sullen. How truly are we the dupes of show andcirc*mstance! How different is virtue clothed in purple and enthroned instate, from virtue naked and destitute and perishing obscurely in awilderness!

But I forbear to dwell on these gloomy pictures. The eastern tribes havelong since disappeared; the forests that sheltered them have been laidlow, and scarce any traces remain of them in the thickly-settled States ofNew England, excepting here and there the Indian name of a village or astream. And such must, sooner or later, be the fate of those other tribeswhich skirt the frontiers, and have occasionally been inveigled from theirforests to mingle in the wars of white men. In a little while, and theywill go the way that their brethren have gone before. The few hordes whichstill linger about the shores of Huron and Superior and the tributarystreams of the Mississippi will share the fate of those tribes that oncespread over Massachusetts and Connecticut and lorded it along the proudbanks of the Hudson, of that gigantic race said to have existed on theborders of the Susquehanna, and of those various nations that flourishedabout the Potomac and the Rappahannock and that peopled the forests of thevast valley of Shenandoah. They will vanish like a vapor from the face ofthe earth; their very history will be lost in forgetfulness; and “theplaces that now know them will know them no more forever.” Or if,perchance, some dubious memorial of them should survive, it may be in theromantic dreams of the poet, to people in imagination his glades andgroves, like the fauns and satyrs and sylvan deities of antiquity. Butshould he venture upon the dark story of their wrongs and wretchedness,should he tell how they were invaded, corrupted, despoiled, driven fromtheir native abodes and the sepulchres of their fathers, hunted like wildbeasts about the earth, and sent down with violence and butchery to thegrave, posterity will either turn with horror and incredulity from thetale or blush with indignation at the inhumanity of their forefathers. “Weare driven back,” said an old warrior, “until we can retreat no farther—ourhatchets are broken, our bows are snapped, our fires are nearlyextinguished; a little longer and the white man will cease to persecuteus, for we shall cease to exist!”



As monumental bronze unchanged his look:A soul that pity touch’d, but never shook;Train’d from his tree-rock’d cradle to his bier,The fierce extremes of good and ill to brookImpassive—fearing but the shame of fear—stoic of the woods—a man without a tear.CAMPBELL.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (114)

IT is to be regretted that those early writers who treated of thediscovery and settlement of America have not given us more particular andcandid accounts of the remarkable characters that flourished in savagelife. The scanty anecdotes which have reached us are full of peculiarityand interest; they furnish us with nearer glimpses of human nature, andshow what man is in a comparatively primitive state and what he owes tocivilization. There is something of the charm of discovery in lightingupon these wild and unexplored tracts of human nature—in witnessing,as it were, the native growth of moral sentiment, and perceiving thosegenerous and romantic qualities which have been artificially cultivated bysociety vegetating in spontaneous hardihood and rude magnificence.

In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the existence,of man depends so much upon the opinion of his fellow-men, he isconstantly acting a studied part. The bold and peculiar traits of nativecharacter are refined away or softened down by the levelling influence ofwhat is termed good-breeding, and he practises so many petty deceptionsand affects so many generous sentiments for the purposes of popularitythat it is difficult to distinguish his real from his artificialcharacter. The Indian, on the contrary, free from the restraints andrefinements of polished life, and in a great degree a solitary andindependent being, obeys the impulses of his inclination or the dictatesof his judgment; and thus the attributes of his nature, being freelyindulged, grow singly great and striking. Society is like a lawn, whereevery roughness is smoothed, every bramble eradicated, and where the eyeis delighted by the smiling verdure of a velvet surface; he, however, whowould study Nature in its wildness and variety must plunge into theforest, must explore the glen, must stem the torrent, and dare theprecipice.

These reflections arose on casually looking through a volume of earlycolonial history wherein are recorded, with great bitterness, the outragesof the Indians and their wars with the settlers New England. It is painfulto perceive, even from these partial narratives, how the footsteps ofcivilization may be traced in the blood of the aborigines; how easily thecolonists were moved to hostility by the lust of conquest; how mercilessand exterminating was their warfare. The imagination shrinks at the ideaof how many intellectual beings were hunted from the earth, how many braveand noble hearts, of Nature’s sterling coinage, were broken down andtrampled in the dust.

Such was the fate of PHILIP OF POKANOKET, an Indian warrior whose name wasonce a terror throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. He was the mostdistinguished of a number of contemporary sachems who reigned over thePequods, the Narragansetts, the Wampanoags, and the other eastern tribesat the time of the first settlement of New England—a band of nativeuntaught heroes who made the most generous struggle of which human natureis capable, fighting to the last gasp in the cause of their country,without a hope of victory or a thought of renown. Worthy of an age ofpoetry and fit subjects for local story and romantic fiction, they haveleft scarcely any authentic traces on the page of history, but stalk likegigantic shadows in the dim twilight of tradition.*

* While correcting the proof-sheets of this article theauthor is informed that a celebrated English poet has nearlyfinished an heroic poem on the story of Philip of Pokanoket.

When the Pilgrims, as the Plymouth settlers are called by theirdescendants, first took refuge on the shores of the New World from thereligious persecutions of the Old, their situation was to the last degreegloomy and disheartening. Few in number, and that number rapidly perishingaway through sickness and hardships, surrounded by a howling wildernessand savage tribes, exposed to the rigors of an almost arctic winter andthe vicissitudes of an ever-shifting climate, their minds were filled withdoleful forebodings, and nothing preserved them from sinking intodespondency but the strong excitement of religious enthusiasm. In thisforlorn situation they were visited by Massasoit, chief sagamore of theWampanoags, a powerful chief who reigned over a great extent of country.Instead of taking advantage of the scanty number of the strangers andexpelling them from his territories, into which they had intruded, heseemed at once to conceive for them a generous friendship, and extendedtowards them the rites of primitive hospitality. He came early in thespring to their settlement of New Plymouth, attended by a mere handful offollowers, entered into a solemn league of peace and amity, sold them aportion of the soil, and promised to secure for them the good-will of hissavage allies. Whatever may be said of Indian perfidy, it is certain thatthe integrity and good faith of Massasoit have never been impeached. Hecontinued a firm and magnanimous friend of the white men, suffering themto extend their possessions and to strengthen themselves in the land, andbetraying no jealousy of their increasing power and prosperity. Shortlybefore his death he came once more to New Plymouth with his son Alexander,for the purpose of renewing the covenant of peace and of securing it tohis posterity.

At this conference he endeavored to protect the religion of hisforefathers from the encroaching zeal of the missionaries, and stipulatedthat no further attempt should be made to draw off his people from theirancient faith; but, finding the English obstinately opposed to any suchcondition, he mildly relinquished the demand. Almost the last act of hislife was to bring his two sons, Alexander and Philip (as they had beennamed by the English), to the residence of a principal settler,recommending mutual kindness and confidence, and entreating that the samelove and amity which had existed between the white men and himself mightbe continued afterwards with his children. The good old sachem died inpeace, and was happily gathered to his fathers before sorrow came upon histribe; his children remained behind to experience the ingratitude of whitemen.

His eldest son, Alexander, succeeded him. He was of a quick and impetuoustemper, and proudly tenacious of his hereditary rights and dignity. Theintrusive policy and dictatorial conduct of the strangers excited hisindignation, and he beheld with uneasiness their exterminating wars withthe neighboring tribes. He was doomed soon to incur their hostility, beingaccused of plotting with the Narragansetts to rise against the English anddrive them from the land. It is impossible to say whether this accusationwas warranted by facts or was grounded on mere suspicions. It is evident,however, by the violent and overbearing measures of the settlers that theyhad by this time begun to feel conscious of the rapid increase of theirpower, and to grow harsh and inconsiderate in their treatment of thenatives. They despatched an armed force to seize upon Alexander and tobring him before their courts. He was traced to his woodland haunts, andsurprised at a hunting-house where he was reposing with a band of hisfollowers, unarmed, after the toils of the chase. The suddenness of hisarrest and the outrage offered to his sovereign dignity so preyed upon theirascible feelings of this proud savage as to throw him into a ragingfever. He was permitted to return home on condition of sending his son asa pledge for his re-appearance; but the blow he had received was fatal,and before he reached his home he fell a victim to the agonies of awounded spirit.

The successor of Alexander was Metamocet, or King Philip, as he was calledby the settlers on account of his lofty spirit and ambitious temper.These, together with his well-known energy and enterprise, had renderedhim an object of great jealousy and apprehension, and he was accused ofhaving always cherished a secret and implacable hostility towards thewhites. Such may very probably and very naturally have been the case. Heconsidered them as originally but mere intruders into the country, who hadpresumed upon indulgence and were extending an influence baneful to savagelife. He saw the whole race of his countrymen melting before them from theface of the earth, their territories slipping from their hands, and theirtribes becoming feeble, scattered, and dependent. It may be said that thesoil was originally purchased by the settlers; but who does not know thenature of Indian purchases in the early periods of colonization? TheEuropeans always made thrifty bargains through their superior adroitnessin traffic, and they gained vast accessions of territory byeasily-provoked hostilities. An uncultivated savage is never a niceinquirer into the refinements of law by which an injury may be graduallyand legally inflicted. Leading facts are all by which he judges; and itwas enough for Philip to know that before the intrusion of the Europeanshis countrymen were lords of the soil, and that now they were becomingvagabonds in the land of their fathers.

But whatever may have been his feelings of general hostility and hisparticular indignation at the treatment of his brother, he suppressed themfor the present, renewed the contract with the settlers, and residedpeaceably for many years at Pokanoket, or as, it was called by theEnglish, Mount Hope,* the ancient seat of dominion of his tribe.Suspicions, however, which were at first but vague and indefinite, beganto acquire form and substance, and he was at length charged withattempting to instigate the various eastern tribes to rise at once, and bya simultaneous effort to throw off the yoke of their oppressors. It isdifficult at this distant period to assign the proper credit due to theseearly accusations against the Indians. There was a proneness to suspicionand an aptness to acts of violence on the part of the whites that gaveweight and importance to every idle tale. Informers abounded wheretale-bearing met with countenance and reward, and the sword was readilyunsheathed when its success was certain and it carved out empire.

* Now Bristol, Rhode Island.

The only positive evidence on record against Philip is the accusation ofone Sausaman, a renegado Indian, whose natural cunning had been quickenedby a partial education which he had received among the settlers. Hechanged his faith and his allegiance two or three times with a facilitythat evinced the looseness of his principles. He had acted for some timeas Philip’s confidential secretary and counsellor, and had enjoyed hisbounty and protection. Finding, however, that the clouds of adversity weregathering round his patron, he abandoned his service and went over to thewhites, and in order to gain their favor charged his former benefactorwith plotting against their safety. A rigorous investigation took place.Philip and several of his subjects submitted to be examined, but nothingwas proved against them. The settlers, however, had now gone too far toretract; they had previously determined that Philip was a dangerousneighbor; they had publicly evinced their distrust, and had done enough toinsure his hostility; according, therefore, to the usual mode of reasoningin these cases, his destruction had become necessary to their security.Sausaman, the treacherous informer, was shortly afterwards found dead in apond, having fallen a victim to the vengeance of his tribe. Three Indians,one of whom was a friend and counsellor of Philip, were apprehended andtried, and on the testimony of one very questionable witness werecondemned and executed as murderers.

This treatment of his subjects and ignominious punishment of his friendoutraged the pride and exasperated the passions of Philip. The bolt whichhad fallen thus at his very feet awakened him to the gathering storm, andhe determined to trust himself no longer in the power of the white men.The fate of his insulted and broken-hearted brother still rankled in hismind; and he had a further warning in the tragical story of Miantonimo, agreat Sachem of the Narragansetts, who, after manfully facing his accusersbefore a tribunal of the colonists, exculpating himself from a charge ofconspiracy and receiving assurances of amity, had been perfidiouslydespatched at their instigation. Philip therefore gathered hisfighting-men about him, persuaded all strangers that he could to join hiscause, sent the women and children to the Narragansetts for safety, andwherever he appeared was continually surrounded by armed warriors.

When the two parties were thus in a state of distrust and irritation, theleast spark was sufficient to set them in a flame. The Indians, havingweapons in their hands, grew mischievous and committed various pettydepredations. In one of their maraudings a warrior was fired on and killedby a settler. This was the signal for open hostilities; the Indianspressed to revenge the death of their comrade, and the alarm of warresounded through the Plymouth colony.

In the early chronicles of these dark and melancholy times we meet withmany indications of the diseased state of the public mind. The gloom ofreligious abstraction and the wildness of their situation among tracklessforests and savage tribes had disposed the colonists to superstitiousfancies, and had filled their imaginations with the frightful chimeras ofwitchcraft and spectrology. They were much given also to a belief inomens. The troubles with Philip and his Indians were preceded, we aretold, by a variety of those awful warnings which forerun great and publiccalamities. The perfect form of an Indian bow appeared in the air at NewPlymouth, which was looked upon by the inhabitants as a “prodigiousapparition.” At Hadley, Northampton, and other towns in their neighborhood“was heard the report of a great piece of ordnance, with a shaking of theearth and a considerable echo.” * Others were alarmed on a still sunshinymorning by the discharge of guns and muskets; bullets seemed to whistlepast them, and the noise of drums resounded in the air, seeming to passaway to the westward; others fancied that they heard the galloping ofhorses over their heads; and certain monstrous births which took placeabout the time filled the superstitious in some towns with dolefulforebodings. Many of these portentous sights and sounds may be ascribed tonatural phenomena—to the northern lights which occur vividly inthose latitudes, the meteors which explode in the air, the casual rushingof a blast through the top branches of the forest, the crash of fallentrees or disrupted rocks, and to those other uncouth sounds and echoeswhich will sometimes strike the ear so strangely amidst the profoundstillness of woodland solitudes. These may have startled some melancholyimaginations, may have been exaggerated by the love for the marvellous,and listened to with that avidity with which we devour whatever is fearfuland mysterious. The universal currency of these superstitious fancies andthe grave record made of them by one of the learned men of the day arestrongly characteristic of the times.

* The Rev. Increase Mather’s History.

The nature of the contest that ensued was such as too often distinguishesthe warfare between civilized men and savages. On the part of the whitesit was conducted with superior skill and success, but with a wastefulnessof the blood and a disregard of the natural rights of their antagonists:on the part of the Indians it was waged with the desperation of menfearless of death, and who had nothing to expect from peace buthumiliation, dependence, and decay.

The events of the war are transmitted to us by a worthy clergyman of thetime, who dwells with horror and indignation on every hostile act of theIndians, however justifiable, whilst he mentions with applause the mostsanguinary atrocities of the whites. Philip is reviled as a murderer and atraitor, without considering that he was a true-born prince gallantlyfighting at the head of his subjects to avenge the wrongs of his family,to retrieve the tottering power of his line, and to deliver his nativeland from the oppression of usurping strangers.

The project of a wide and simultaneous revolt, if such had really beenformed, was worthy of a capacious mind, and had it not been prematurelydiscovered might have been overwhelming in its consequences. The war thatactually broke out was but a war of detail, a mere succession of casualexploits and unconnected enterprises. Still, it sets forth the militarygenius and daring prowess of Philip, and wherever, in the prejudiced andpassionate narrations that have been given of it, we can arrive at simplefacts, we find him displaying a vigorous mind, a fertility of expedients,a contempt of suffering and hardship, and an unconquerable resolution thatcommand our sympathy and applause.

Driven from his paternal domains at Mount Hope, he threw himself into thedepths of those vast and trackless forests that skirted the settlementsand were almost impervious to anything but a wild beast or an Indian. Herehe gathered together his forces, like the storm accumulating its stores ofmischief in the bosom of the thundercloud, and would suddenly emerge at atime and place least expected, carrying havoc and dismay into thevillages. There were now and then indications of these impending ravagesthat filled the minds of the colonists with awe and apprehension. Thereport of a distant gun would perhaps be heard from the solitary woodland,where there was known to be no white man; the cattle which had beenwandering in the woods would sometimes return home wounded; or an Indianor two would be seen lurking about the skirts of the forests and suddenlydisappearing, as the lightning will sometimes be seen playing silentlyabout the edge of the cloud that is brewing up the tempest.

Though sometimes pursued and even surrounded by the settlers, yet Philipas often escaped almost miraculously from their toils, and, plunging intothe wilderness, would be lost to all search or inquiry until he againemerged at some far distant quarter, laying the country desolate. Amonghis strongholds were the great swamps or morasses which extend in someparts of New England, composed of loose bogs of deep black mud, perplexedwith thickets, brambles, rank weeds, the shattered and mouldering trunksof fallen trees, overshadowed by lugubrious hemlocks. The uncertainfooting and the tangled mazes of these shaggy wilds rendered them almostimpracticable to the white man, though the Indian could thread theirlabyrinths with the agility of a deer. Into one of these, the great swampof Pocasset Neck, was Philip once driven with a band of his followers. TheEnglish did not dare to pursue him, fearing to venture into these dark andfrightful recesses, where they might perish in fens and miry pits or beshot down by lurking foes. They therefore invested the entrance to theNeck, and began to build a fort with the thought of starving out the foe;but Philip and his warriors wafted themselves on a raft over an arm of thesea in the dead of night, leaving the women and children behind, andescaped away to the westward, kindling the flames of war among the tribesof Massachusetts and the Nipmuck country and threatening the colony ofConnecticut.

In this way Philip became a theme of universal apprehension. The mysteryin which he was enveloped exaggerated his real terrors. He was an evilthat walked in darkness, whose coming none could foresee and against whichnone knew when to be on the alert. The whole country abounded with rumorsand alarms. Philip seemed almost possessed of ubiquity, for in whateverpart of the widely-extended frontier an irruption from the forest tookplace, Philip was said to be its leader. Many superstitious notions alsowere circulated concerning him. He was said to deal in necromancy, and tobe attended by an old Indian witch or prophetess, whom he consulted andwho assisted him by her charms and incantations. This, indeed, wasfrequently the case with Indian chiefs, either through their own credulityor to act upon that of their followers; and the influence of the prophetand the dreamer over Indian superstition has been fully evidenced inrecent instances of savage warfare.

At the time that Philip effected his escape from Pocasset his fortuneswere in a desperate condition. His forces had been thinned by repeatedfights and he had lost almost the whole of his resources. In this time ofadversity he found a faithful friend in Canonchet, chief Sachem of all theNarragansetts. He was the son and heir of Miantonimo, the great sachemwho, as already mentioned, after an honorable acquittal of the charge ofconspiracy, had been privately put to death at the perfidious instigationsof the settlers. “He was the heir,” says the old chronicler, “of all hisfather’s pride and insolence, as well as of his malice towards theEnglish;” he certainly was the heir of his insults and injuries and thelegitimate avenger of his murder. Though he had forborne to take an activepart in this hopeless war, yet he received Philip and his broken forceswith open arms and gave them the most generous countenance and support.This at once drew upon him the hostility of the English, and it wasdetermined to strike a signal blow that should involve both the Sachems inone common ruin. A great force was therefore gathered together fromMassachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut, and was sent into theNarragansett country in the depth of winter, when the swamps, being frozenand leafless, could be traversed with comparative facility and would nolonger afford dark and impenetrable fastnesses to the Indians.

Apprehensive of attack, Canonchet had conveyed the greater part of hisstores, together with the old, the infirm, the women and children of histribe, to a strong fortress, where he and Philip had likewise drawn up theflower of their forces. This fortress, deemed by the Indians impregnable,was situated upon a rising mound or kind of island of five or six acres inthe midst of a swamp; it was constructed with a degree of judgment andskill vastly superior to what is usually displayed in Indianfortification, and indicative of the martial genius of these twochieftains.

Guided by a renegado Indian, the English penetrated, through Decembersnows, to this stronghold and came upon the garrison by surprise. Thefight was fierce and tumultuous. The assailants were repulsed in theirfirst attack, and several of their bravest officers were shot down in theact of storming the fortress, sword in hand. The assault was renewed withgreater success. A lodgment was effected. The Indians were driven from onepost to another. They disputed their ground inch by inch, fighting withthe fury of despair. Most of their veterans were cut to pieces, and aftera long and bloody battle, Philip and Canonchet, with a handful ofsurviving warriors, retreated from the fort and took refuge in thethickets of the surrounding forest.

The victors set fire to the wigwams and the fort; the whole was soon in ablaze; many of the old men, the women, and the children perished in theflames. This last outrage overcame even the stoicism of the savage. Theneighboring woods resounded with the yells of rage and despair uttered bythe fugitive warriors, as they beheld the destruction of their dwellingsand heard the agonizing cries of their wives and offspring. “The burningof the wigwams,” says a contemporary writer, “the shrieks and cries of thewomen and children, and the yelling of the warriors, exhibited a mosthorrible and affecting scene, so that it greatly moved some of thesoldiers.” The same writer cautiously adds, “They were in much doubt then,and afterwards seriously inquired, whether burning their enemies alivecould be consistent with humanity, and the benevolent principles of thegospel.” *

* MS. of the Rev. W. Ruggles.

The fate of the brave and generous Canonchet is worthy of particularmention: the last scene of his life is one of the noblest instances onrecord of Indian magnanimity.

Broken down in his power and resources by this signal defeat, yet faithfulto his ally and to the hapless cause which he had espoused, he rejectedall overtures of peace offered on condition of betraying Philip and hisfollowers, and declared that “he would fight it out to the last man,rather than become a servant to the English.” His home being destroyed,his country harassed and laid waste by the incursions of the conquerors,he was obliged to wander away to the banks of the Connecticut, where heformed a rallying-point to the whole body of western Indians and laidwaste several of the English settlements.

Early in the spring he departed on a hazardous expedition, with onlythirty chosen men, to penetrate to Seaconck, in the vicinity of MountHope, and to procure seed corn to plant for the sustenance of his troops.This little hand of adventurers had passed safely through the Pequodcountry, and were in the centre of the Narragansett, resting at somewigwams near Pautucket River, when an alarm was given of an approachingenemy. Having but seven men by him at the time, Canonchet despatched twoof them to the top of a neighboring hill to bring intelligence of the foe.

Panic-struck by the appearance of a troop of English and Indians rapidlyadvancing, they fled in breathless terror past their chieftain, withoutstopping to inform him of the danger. Canonchet sent another scout, whodid the same. He then sent two more, one of whom, hurrying back inconfusion and affright, told him that the whole British army was at hand.Canonchet saw there was no choice but immediate flight. He attempted toescape round the hill, but was perceived and hotly pursued by the hostileIndians and a few of the fleetest of the English. Finding the swiftestpursuer close upon his heels, he threw off, first his blanket, then hissilver-laced coat and belt of peag, by which his enemies knew him to beCanonchet and redoubled the eagerness of pursuit.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (115)


At length, in dashing through the river, his foot slipped upon a stone,and he fell so deep as to wet his gun. This accident so struck him withdespair that, as he afterwards confessed, “his heart and his bowels turnedwithin him, and he became like a rotten stick, void of strength.”

To such a degree was he unnerved that, being seized by a Pequod Indianwithin a short distance of the river, he made no resistance, though a manof great vigor of body and boldness of heart. But on being made prisonerthe whole pride of his spirit arose within him, and from that moment wefind, in the anecdotes given by his enemies, nothing but repeated flashesof elevated and prince-like heroism. Being questioned by one of theEnglish who first came up with him, and who had not attained his twentysecond year, the proud-hearted warrior, looking with lofty contempt uponhis youthful countenance, replied, “You are a child—you cannotunderstand matters of war; let your brother or your chief come: him will Ianswer.”

Though repeated offers were made to him of his life on condition ofsubmitting with his nation to the English, yet he rejected them withdisdain, and refused to send any proposals of the kind to the great bodyof his subjects, saying that he knew none of them would comply. Beingreproached with his breach of faith towards the whites, his boast that hewould not deliver up a Wampanoag nor the paring of a Wampanoag’s nail, andhis threat that he would burn the English alive in their houses, hedisdained to justify himself, haughtily answering that others were asforward for the war as himself, and “he desired to hear no more thereof.”

So noble and unshaken a spirit, so true a fidelity to his cause and hisfriend, might have touched the feelings of the generous and the brave; butCanonchet was an Indian, a being towards whom war had no courtesy,humanity no law, religion no compassion: he was condemned to die. The lastwords of his that are recorded are worthy the greatness of his soul. Whensentence of death was passed upon him, he observed “that he liked it well,for he should die before his heart was soft or he had spoken anythingunworthy of himself.” His enemies gave him the death of a soldier, for hewas shot at Stoning ham by three young Sachems of his own rank.

The defeat at the Narraganset fortress and the death of Canonchet werefatal blows to the fortunes of King Philip. He made an ineffectual attemptto raise a head of war by stirring up the Mohawks to take arms; but,though possessed of the native talents of a statesman, his arts werecounteracted by the superior arts of his enlightened enemies, and theterror of their warlike skill began to subdue the resolution of theneighboring tribes. The unfortunate chieftain saw himself daily strippedof power, and his ranks rapidly thinning around him. Some were suborned bythe whites; others fell victims to hunger and fatigue and to the frequentattacks by which they were harassed. His stores were all captured; hischosen friends were swept away from before his eyes; his uncle was shotdown by his side; his sister was carried into captivity; and in one of hisnarrow escapes he was compelled to leave his beloved wife and only son tothe mercy of the enemy. “His ruin,” says the historian, “being thusgradually carried on, his misery was not prevented, but augmented thereby;being himself made acquainted with the sense and experimental feeling ofthe captivity of his children, loss of friends, slaughter of his subjects,bereavement of all family relations, and being stripped of all outwardcomforts before his own life should be taken away.”

To fill up the measure of his misfortunes, his own followers began to plotagainst his life, that by sacrificing him they might purchase dishonorablesafety. Through treachery a number of his faithful adherents, the subjectsof Wetamoe, an Indian princess of Pocasset, a near kinswoman andconfederate of Philip, were betrayed into the hands of the enemy. Wetamoewas among them at the time, and attempted to make her escape by crossing aneighboring river: either exhausted by swimming or starved with cold andhunger, she was found dead and naked near the water-side. But persecutionceased not at the grave. Even death, the refuge of the wretched, where thewicked commonly cease from troubling, was no protection to this outcastfemale, whose great crime was affectionate fidelity to her kinsman and herfriend. Her corpse was the object of unmanly and dastardly vengeance: thehead was severed from the body and set upon a pole, and was thus exposedat Taunton to the view of her captive subjects. They immediatelyrecognized the features of their unfortunate queen, and were so affectedat this barbarous spectacle that we are told they broke forth into the“most horrid and diabolical lamentations.”

However Philip had borne up against the complicated miseries andmisfortunes that surrounded him, the treachery of his followers seemed towring his heart and reduce him to despondency. It is said that “he neverrejoiced afterwards, nor had success in any of his designs.” The spring ofhope was broken—the ardor of enterprise was extinguished; he lookedaround, and all was danger and darkness; there was no eye to pity nor anyarm that could bring deliverance. With a scanty band of followers, whostill remained true to his desperate fortunes, the unhappy Philip wanderedback to the vicinity of Mount Hope, the ancient dwelling of his fathers.Here he lurked about like a spectre among the scenes of former power andprosperity, now bereft of home, of family, and of friend. There needs nobetter picture of his destitute and piteous situation than that furnishedby the homely pen of the chronicler, who is unwarily enlisting thefeelings of the reader in favor of the hapless warrior whom he reviles.“Philip,” he says, “like a savage wild beast, having been hunted by theEnglish forces through the woods above a hundred miles backward andforward, at last was driven to his own den upon Mount Hope, where heretired, with a few of his best friends, into a swamp, which proved but aprison to keep him fast till the messengers of death came by divinepermission to execute vengeance upon him.”

Even in this last refuge of desperation and despair a sullen grandeurgathers round his memory. We picture him to ourselves seated among hiscare-worn followers, brooding in silence over his blasted fortunes, andacquiring a savage sublimity from the wildness and dreariness of hislurking-place. Defeated, but not dismayed—crushed to the earth, butnot humiliated—he seemed to grow more haughty beneath disaster, andto experience a fierce satisfaction in draining the last dregs ofbitterness. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune, but greatminds rise above it. The very idea of submission awakened the fury ofPhilip, and he smote to death one of his followers who proposed anexpedient of peace. The brother of the victim made his escape, and inrevenge betrayed the retreat of his chieftain, A body of white men andIndians were immediately despatched to the swamp where Philip laycrouched, glaring with fury and despair. Before he was aware of theirapproach they had begun to surround him. In a little while he saw five ofhis trustiest followers laid dead at his feet; all resistance was vain; herushed forth from his covert, and made a headlong attempt to escape, butwas shot through the heart by a renegado Indian of his own nation.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (116)


Such is the scanty story of the brave but unfortunate King Philip,persecuted while living, slandered and dishonored when dead. If, however,we consider even the prejudiced anecdotes furnished us by his enemies, wemay perceive in them traces of amiable and lofty character sufficient toawaken sympathy for his fate and respect for his memory. We find thatamidst all the harassing cares and ferocious passions of constant warfarehe was alive to the softer feelings of connubial love and paternaltenderness and to the generous sentiment of friendship. The captivity ofhis “beloved wife and only son” are mentioned with exultation as causinghim poignant misery: the death of any near friend is triumphantly recordedas a new blow on his sensibilities; but the treachery and desertion ofmany of his followers, in whose affections he had confided, is said tohave desolated his heart and to have bereaved him of all further comfort.He was a patriot attached to his native soil—a prince true to hissubjects and indignant of their wrongs—a soldier daring in battle,firm in adversity, patient of fatigue, of hunger, of every variety ofbodily suffering, and ready to perish in the cause he had espoused. Proudof heart and with an untamable love of natural liberty, he preferred toenjoy it among the beasts of the forests or in the dismal and famishedrecesses of swamps and morasses, rather than bow his haughty spirit tosubmission and live dependent and despised in the ease and luxury of thesettlements. With heroic qualities and bold achievements that would havegraced a civilized warrior, and have rendered him the theme of the poetand the historian, he lived a wanderer and a fugitive in his native land,and went down, like a lonely bark foundering amid darkness and tempest,without a pitying eye to weep his fall or a friendly hand to record hisstruggle.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (117)



An old song, made by an aged old pate,Of an old worshipful gentleman who had a great estate,That kept a brave old house at a bountiful rate,And an old porter to relieve the poor at his gate.With an old study fill’d full of learned old books,With an old reverend chaplain, you might know him by hislooks, With an old buttery-hatch worn quite off the hooks,And an old kitchen that maintained half-a-dozen old cooks.Like an old courtier, etc.—Old Song.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (118)

THERE is no species of humor in which the English more excel than thatwhich consists in caricaturing and giving ludicrous appellations ornicknames. In this way they have whimsically designated, not merelyindividuals, but nations, and in their fondness for pushing a joke theyhave not spared even themselves. One would think that in personifyingitself a nation would be apt to picture something grand, heroic, andimposing; but it is characteristic of the peculiar humor of the English,and of their love for what is blunt, comic, and familiar, that they haveembodied their national oddities in the figure of a sturdy, corpulent oldfellow with a three-cornered hat, red waistcoat, leather breeches, andstout oaken cudgel. Thus they have taken a singular delight in exhibitingtheir most private foibles in a laughable point of view, and have been sosuccessful in their delineations that there is scarcely a being in actualexistence more absolutely present to the public mind than that eccentricpersonage, John Bull.

Perhaps the continual contemplation of the character thus drawn of themhas contributed to fix it upon the nation, and thus to give reality towhat at first may have been painted in a great measure from theimagination. Men are apt to acquire peculiarities that are continuallyascribed to them. The common orders of English seem wonderfully captivatedwith the beau ideal which they have formed of John Bull, and endeavor toact up to the broad caricature that is perpetually before their eyes.Unluckily, they sometimes make their boasted Bullism an apology for theirprejudice or grossness; and this I have especially noticed among thosetruly homebred and genuine sons of the soil who have never migrated beyondthe sound of Bow bells. If one of these should be a little uncouth inspeech and apt to utter impertinent truths, he confesses that he is a realJohn Bull and always speaks his mind. If he now and then flies into anunreasonable burst of passion about trifles, he observes that John Bull isa choleric old blade, but then his passion is over in a moment and hebears no malice. If he betrays a coarseness of taste and an insensibilityto foreign refinements, he thanks Heaven for his ignorance—he is aplain John Bull and has no relish for frippery and knick-knacks. His veryproneness to be gulled by strangers and to pay extravagantly forabsurdities is excused under the plea of munificence, for John is alwaysmore generous than wise.

Thus, under the name of John Bull he will contrive to argue every faultinto a merit, and will frankly convict himself of being the honestestfellow in existence.

However little, therefore, the character may have suited in the firstinstance, it has gradually adapted itself to the nation, or rather theyhave adapted themselves to each other; and a stranger who wishes to studyEnglish peculiarities may gather much valuable information from theinnumerable portraits of John Bull as exhibited in the windows of thecaricature-shops. Still, however, he is one of those fertile humoriststhat are continually throwing out new portraits and presenting differentaspects from different points of view; and, often as he has beendescribed, I cannot resist the temptation to give a slight sketch of himsuch as he has met my eye.

John Bull, to all appearance, is a plain, downright, matter-of-factfellow, with much less of poetry about him than rich prose. There islittle of romance in his nature, but a vast deal of strong naturalfeeling. He excels in humor more than in wit; is jolly rather than gay;melancholy rather than morose; can easily be moved to a sudden tear orsurprised into a broad laugh; but he loathes sentiment and has no turn forlight pleasantry. He is a boon companion, if you allow him in to have hishumor and to talk about himself; and he will stand by a friend in aquarrel with life and purse, however soundly he may be cudgelled.

In this last respect, to tell the truth, he has a propensity to besomewhat too ready. He is a busy-minded personage, who thinks not merelyfor himself and family, but for all the country round, and is mostgenerously disposed to be everybody’s champion. He is continuallyvolunteering his services to settle his neighbor’s affairs, and takes itin great dudgeon if they engage in any matter of consequence withoutasking his advice, though he seldom engages in any friendly office of thekind without finishing by getting into a squabble with all parties, andthen railing bitterly at their ingratitude. He unluckily took lessons inhis youth in the noble science of defence, and having accomplished himselfin the use of his limbs and his weapons and become a perfect master atboxing and cudgel-play, he has had a troublesome life of it ever since. Hecannot hear of a quarrel between the most distant of his neighbors but hebegins incontinently to fumble with the head of his cudgel, and considerwhether his interest or honor does not require that he should meddle inthe broil. Indeed, he has extended his relations of pride and policy socompletely over the whole country that no event can take place withoutinfringing some of his finely-spun rights and dignities. Couched in hislittle domain, with these filaments stretching forth in every direction,he is like some choleric, bottle-bellied old spider who has woven his webover a whole chamber, so that a fly cannot buzz nor a breeze blow withoutstartling his repose and causing him to sally forth wrathfully from hisden.

Though really a good-hearted, good-tempered old fellow at bottom, yet heis singularly fond of being in the midst of contention. It is one of hispeculiarities, however, that he only relishes the beginning of an affray;he always goes into a fight with alacrity, but comes out of it grumblingeven when victorious; and though no one fights with more obstinacy tocarry a contested point, yet when the battle is over and he comes to thereconciliation he is so much taken up with the mere shaking of hands thathe is apt to let his antagonist pocket all that they have been quarrellingabout. It is not, therefore, fighting that he ought so much to be on hisguard against as making friends. It is difficult to cudgel him out of afarthing; but put him in a good humor and you may bargain him out of allthe money in his pocket. He is like a stout ship which will weather theroughest storm uninjured, but roll its masts overboard in the succeedingcalm.

He is a little fond of playing the magnifico abroad, of pulling out a longpurse, flinging his money bravely about at boxing-matches, horse-races,co*ck-fights, and carrying a high head among “gentlemen of the fancy:” butimmediately after one of these fits of extravagance he will be taken withviolent qualms of economy; stop short at the most trivial expenditure;talk desperately of being ruined and brought upon the parish; and in suchmoods will not pay the smallest tradesman’s bill without violentaltercation. He is, in fact, the most punctual and discontented paymasterin the world, drawing his coin out of his breeches pocket with infinitereluctance, paying to the uttermost farthing, but accompanying everyguinea with a growl.

With all his talk of economy, however, he is a bountiful provider and ahospitable housekeeper. His economy is of a whimsical kind, its chiefobject being to devise how he may afford to be extravagant; for he willbegrudge himself a beefsteak and pint of port one day that he may roast anox whole, broach a hogshead of ale, and treat all his neighbors on thenext.

His domestic establishment is enormously expensive, not so much from anygreat outward parade as from the great consumption of solid beef andpudding, the vast number of followers he feeds and clothes, and hissingular disposition to pay hugely for small services. He is a most kindand indulgent master, and, provided his servants humor his peculiarities,flatter his vanity a little now and then, and do not peculate grossly onhim before his face they may manage him to perfection. Everything thatlives on him seems to thrive and grow fat. His house-servants are wellpaid and pampered and have little to do. His horses are sleek and lazy andprance slowly before his state carriage; and his house-dogs sleep quietlyabout the door and will hardly bark at a housebreaker.

His family mansion is an old castellated manor-house, gray with age, andof a most venerable though weather-beaten appearance. It has been builtupon no regular plan, but is a vast accumulation of parts erected invarious tastes and ages. The centre bears evident traces of Saxonarchitecture, and is as solid as ponderous stone and old English oak canmake it. Like all the relics of that style, it is full of obscurepassages, intricate mazes, and dusty chambers, and, though these have beenpartially lighted up in modern days, yet there are many places where youmust still grope in the dark. Additions have been made to the originaledifice from time to time, and great alterations have taken place; towersand battlements have been erected during wars and tumults: wings built intime of peace; and out-houses, lodges, and offices run up according to thewhim or convenience of different generations, until it has become one ofthe most spacious, rambling tenements imaginable. An entire wing is takenup with the family chapel, a reverend pile that must have been exceedinglysumptuous, and, indeed, in spite of having been altered and simplified atvarious periods, has still a look of solemn religious pomp. Its wallswithin are storied with the monuments of John’s ancestors, and it issnugly fitted up with soft cushions and well-lined chairs, where such ofhis family as are inclined to church services may doze comfortably in thedischarge of their duties.

To keep up this chapel has cost John much money; but he is staunch in hisreligion and piqued in his zeal, from the circ*mstance that manydissenting chapels have been erected in his vicinity, and several of hisneighbors, with whom he has had quarrels, are strong papists.

To do the duties of the chapel he maintains, at a large expense, a piousand portly family chaplain. He is a most learned and decorous personageand a truly well-bred Christian, who always backs the old gentleman in hisopinions, winks discreetly at his little peccadilloes, rebukes thechildren when refractory, and is of great use in exhorting the tenants toread their Bibles, say their prayers, and, above all, to pay their rentspunctually and without grumbling.

The family apartments are in a very antiquated taste, somewhat heavy andoften inconvenient, but full of the solemn magnificence of former times,fitted up with rich though faded tapestry, unwieldy furniture, and loadsof massy, gorgeous old plate. The vast fireplaces, ample kitchens,extensive cellars, and sumptuous banqueting-halls all speak of the roaringhospitality of days of yore, of which the modern festivity at themanor-house is but a shadow. There are, however, complete suites of roomsapparently deserted and time-worn, and towers and turrets that aretottering to decay, so that in high winds there is danger of theirtumbling about the ears of the household.

John has frequently been advised to have the old edifice thoroughlyoverhauled, and to have some of the useless parts pulled down, and theothers strengthened with their materials; but the old gentleman alwaysgrows testy on this subject. He swears the house is an excellent house;that it is tight and weather-proof, and not to be shaken by tempests; thatit has stood for several hundred years, and therefore is not likely totumble down now; that as to its being inconvenient, his family isaccustomed to the inconveniences and would not be comfortable withoutthem; that as to its unwieldy size and irregular construction, theseresult from its being the growth of centuries and being improved by thewisdom of every generation; that an old family, like his, requires a largehouse to dwell in; new, upstart families may live in modern cottages andsnug boxes; but an old English family should inhabit an old Englishmanor-house. If you point out any part of the building as superfluous, heinsists that it is material to the strength or decoration of the rest andthe harmony of the whole, and swears that the parts are so built into eachother that if you pull down one, you run the risk of having the wholeabout your ears.

The secret of the matter is, that John has a great disposition to protectand patronize. He thinks it indispensable to the dignity of an ancient andhonorable family to be bounteous in its appointments and to be eaten up bydependents; and so, partly from pride and partly from kind-heartedness, hemakes it a rule always to give shelter and maintenance to hissuperannuated servants.

The consequence is, that, like many other venerable family establishments,his manor is incumbered by old retainers whom he cannot turn off, and anold style which he cannot lay down. His mansion is like a great hospitalof invalids, and, with all its magnitude, is not a whit too large for itsinhabitants. Not a nook or corner but is of use in housing some uselesspersonage. Groups of veteran beef-eaters, gouty pensioners, and retiredheroes of the buttery and the larder are seen lolling about its ways,crawling over its lawns, dozing under its tree, or sunning themselves uponthe benches at its doors. Every office and out-house is garrisoned bythese supernumeraries and their families; for they are amazingly prolific,and when they die off are sure to leave John a legacy of hungry mouths tobe provided for. A mattock cannot be struck against the most moulderingtumble-down tower but out pops, from some cranny or loophole, the graypate of some superannuated hanger-on, who has lived at John’s expense allhis life, and makes the most grievous outcry at their pulling down theroof from over the head of a worn-out servant of the family. This is anappeal that John’s honest heart never can withstand; so that a man who hasfaithfully eaten his beef and pudding all his life is sure to be rewardedwith a pipe and tankard in his old days.

A great part of his park also is turned into paddocks, where hisbroken-down chargers are turned loose to graze undisturbed for theremainder of their existences—a worthy example of gratefulrecollection which, if some of his neighbors were to imitate, would not beto their discredit. Indeed, it is one of his great pleasures to point outthese old steeds to his visitors, to dwell on their good qualities, extoltheir past services, and boast, with some little vain-glory, of theperilous adventures and hardy exploits through which they have carriedhim.

He is given, however, to indulge his veneration for family usages andfamily encumbrances to a whimsical extent. His manor is infested by gangsof gypsies; yet he will not suffer them to be driven off, because theyhave infested the place time out of mind and been regular poachers uponevery generation of the family. He will scarcely permit a dry branch to belopped from the great trees that surround the house, lest it should molestthe rooks that have bred there for centuries. Owls have taken possessionof the dovecote, but they are hereditary owls and must not be disturbed.Swallows have nearly choked up every chimney with their nests; martinsbuild in every frieze and cornice; crows flutter about the towers andperch on every weather-co*ck; and old gray-headed rats may be seen in everyquarter of the house, running in and out of their holes undauntedly inbroad daylight. In short, John has such a reverence for everything thathas been long in the family that he will not hear even of abuses beingreformed, because they are good old family abuses.

All these whims and habits have concurred woefully to drain the oldgentleman’s purse; and as he prides himself on punctuality in moneymatters and wishes to maintain his credit in the neighborhood, they havecaused him great perplexity in meeting his engagements. This, too, hasbeen increased by the altercations and heart-burnings which arecontinually taking place in his family. His children have been brought upto different callings and are of different ways of thinking; and as theyhave always been allowed to speak their minds freely, they do not fail toexercise the privilege most clamorously in the present posture of hisaffairs. Some stand up for the honor of the race, and are clear that theold establishment should be kept up in all its state, whatever may be thecost; others, who are more prudent and considerate, entreat the oldgentleman to retrench his expenses and to put his whole system ofhousekeeping on a more moderate footing. He has, indeed, at times, seemedinclined to listen to their opinions, but their wholesome advice has beencompletely defeated by the obstreperous conduct of one of his sons. Thisis a noisy, rattle-pated fellow, of rather low habits, who neglects hisbusiness to frequent ale-houses—is the orator of village clubs and acomplete oracle among the poorest of his father’s tenants. No sooner doeshe hear any of his brothers mention reform or retrenchment than up hejumps, takes the words out of their mouths, and roars out for an overturn.When his tongue is once going nothing can stop it. He rants about theroom; hectors the old man about his spendthrift practices; ridicules histastes and pursuits; insists that he shall turn the old servants out ofdoors, give the broken-down horses to the hounds, send the fat chaplainpacking, and take a field-preacher in his place; nay, that the wholefamily mansion shall be levelled with the ground, and a plain one of brickand mortar built in its place. He rails at every social entertainment andfamily festivity, and skulks away growling to the ale-house whenever anequipage drives up to the door. Though constantly complaining of theemptiness of his purse, yet he scruples not to spend all his pocket-moneyin these tavern convocations, and even runs up scores for the liquor overwhich he preaches about his father’s extravagance.

It may readily be imagined how little such thwarting agrees with the oldcavalier’s fiery temperament. He has become so irritable from repeatedcrossings that the mere mention of retrenchment or reform is a signal fora brawl between him and the tavern oracle. As the latter is too sturdy andrefractory for paternal discipline, having grown out of all fear of thecudgel, they have frequent scenes of wordy warfare, which at times run sohigh that John is fain to call in the aid of his son Tom, an officer whohas served abroad, but is at present living at home on half-pay. This lastis sure to stand by the old gentleman, right or wrong, likes nothing somuch as a rocketing, roistering life, and is ready at a wink or nod to outsabre and flourish it over the orator’s head if he dares to array himselfa*gainst parental authority.

These family dissensions, as usual, have got abroad, and are rare food forscandal in John’s neighborhood. People begin to look wise and shake theirheads whenever his affairs are mentioned. They all “hope that matters arenot so bad with him as represented; but when a man’s own children begin torail at his extravagance, things must be badly managed. They understand heis mortgaged over head and ears and is continually dabbling withmoney-lenders. He is certainly an open-handed old gentleman, but they fearhe has lived too fast; indeed, they never knew any good come of thisfondness for hunting, racing revelling, and prize-fighting. In short, Mr.Bull’s estate is a very fine one and has been in the family a long while,but, for all that, they have known many finer estates come to the hammer.”

What is worst of all, is the effect which these pecuniary embarrassmentsand domestic feuds have had on the poor man himself. Instead of that jollyround corporation and smug rosy face which he used to present, he has oflate become as shrivelled and shrunk as a frost-bitten apple. His scarletgold-laced waistcoat, which bellied out so bravely in those prosperousdays when he sailed before the wind, now hangs loosely about him like amainsail in a calm. His leather breeches are all in folds and wrinkles,and apparently have much ado to hold up the boots that yawn on both sidesof his once sturdy legs.

Instead of strutting about as formerly with his three-cornered hat on oneside, flourishing his cudgel, and bringing it down every moment with ahearty thump upon the ground, looking every one sturdily in the face, andtrolling out a stave of a catch or a drinking-song, he now goes aboutwhistling thoughtfully to himself, with his head drooping down, his cudgeltucked under his arm, and his hands thrust to the bottom of his breechespockets, which are evidently empty.

Such is the plight of honest John Bull at present, yet for all this theold fellow’s spirit is as tall and as gallant as ever. If you drop theleast expression of sympathy or concern, he takes fire in an instant;swears that he is the richest and stoutest fellow in the country; talks oflaying out large sums to adorn his house or buy another estate; and with avaliant swagger and grasping of his cudgel longs exceedingly to haveanother bout at quarter-staff.

Though there may be something rather whimsical in all this, yet I confessI cannot look upon John’s situation without strong feelings of interest.With all his odd humors and obstinate prejudices he is a sterling-heartedold blade. He may not be so wonderfully fine a fellow as he thinkshimself, but he is at least twice as good as his neighbors represent him.His virtues are all his own—all plain, homebred, and unaffected. Hisvery faults smack of the raciness of his good qualities. His extravagancesavors of his generosity, his quarrelsomeness of his courage, hiscredulity of his open faith, his vanity of his pride, and his bluntness ofhis sincerity. They are all the redundancies of a rich and liberalcharacter. He is like his own oak, rough without, but sound and solidwithin; whose bark abounds with excrescences in proportion to the growthand grandeur of the timber; and whose branches make a fearful groaning andmurmuring in the least storm from their very magnitude and luxuriance.There is something, too, in the appearance of his old family mansion thatis extremely poetical and picturesque; and as long as it can be renderedcomfortably habitable I should almost tremble to see it meddled withduring the present conflict of tastes and opinions. Some of his advisersare no doubt good architects that might be of service; but many, I fear,are mere levellers, who, when they had once got to work with theirmattocks on this venerable edifice, would never stop until they hadbrought it to the ground, and perhaps buried themselves among the ruins.All that I wish is, that John’s present troubles may teach him moreprudence in future—that he may cease to distress his mind aboutother people’s affairs; that he may give up the fruitless attempt topromote the good of his neighbors and the peace and happiness of theworld, by dint of the cudgel; that he may remain quietly at home;gradually get his house into repair; cultivate his rich estate accordingto his fancy; husband his income—if he thinks proper; bring hisunruly children into order—if he can; renew the jovial scenes ofancient prosperity; and long enjoy on his paternal lands a green, anhonorable, and a merry old age.


May no wolfe howle; no screech owle stirA wing about thy sepulchre!No boysterous winds or stormes come hither,To starve or witherThy soft sweet earth! but, like a spring,Love kept it ever flourishing.HERRICK.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (119)

IN the course of an excursion through one of the remote counties ofEngland, I had struck into one of those cross-roads that lead through themore secluded parts of the country, and stopped one afternoon at a villagethe situation of which was beautifully rural and retired. There was an airof primitive simplicity about its inhabitants not to be found in thevillages which lie on the great coach-roads. I determined to pass thenight there, and, having taken an early dinner, strolled out to enjoy theneighboring scenery.

My ramble, as is usually the case with travellers, soon led me to thechurch, which stood at a little distance from the village. Indeed, it wasan object of some curiosity, its old tower being completely overrun withivy so that only here and there a jutting buttress, an angle of gray wall,or a fantastically carved ornament peered through the verdant covering. Itwas a lovely evening. The early part of the day had been dark and showery,but in the afternoon it had cleared up, and, though sullen clouds stillhung overhead, yet there was a broad tract of golden sky in the west, fromwhich the setting sun gleamed through the dripping leaves and lit up allNature into a melancholy smile. It seemed like the parting hour of a goodChristian smiling on the sins and sorrows of the world, and giving, in theserenity of his decline, an assurance that he will rise again in glory.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (120)


I had seated myself on a half-sunken tombstone, and was musing, as one isapt to do at this sober-thoughted hour, on past scenes and early friends—onthose who were distant and those who were dead—and indulging in thatkind of melancholy fancying which has in it something sweeter even thanpleasure. Every now and then the stroke of a bell from the neighboringtower fell on my ear; its tones were in unison with the scene, and,instead of jarring, chimed in with my feelings; and it was some timebefore I recollected that it must be tolling the knell of some new tenantof the tomb.

Presently I saw a funeral train moving across the village green; it woundslowly along a lane, was lost, and reappeared through the breaks of thehedges, until it passed the place where I was sitting. The pall wassupported by young girls dressed in white, and another, about the age ofseventeen, walked before, bearing a chaplet of white flowers—a tokenthat the deceased was a young and unmarried female. The corpse wasfollowed by the parents. They were a venerable couple of the better orderof peasantry. The father seemed to repress his feelings, but his fixedeye, contracted brow, and deeply-furrowed face showed the struggle thatwas passing within. His wife hung on his arm, and wept aloud with theconvulsive bursts of a mother’s sorrow.

I followed the funeral into the church. The bier was placed in the centreaisle, and the chaplet of white flowers, with a pair of white gloves, washung over the seat which the deceased had occupied.

Every one knows the soul-subduing pathos of the funeral service, for whois so fortunate as never to have followed some one he has loved to thetomb? But when performed over the remains of innocence and beauty, thuslaid low in the bloom of existence, what can be more affecting? At thatsimple but most solemn consignment of the body to the grave-“Earth toearth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust!”—the tears of the youthfulcompanions of the deceased flowed unrestrained. The father still seemed tostruggle with his feelings, and to comfort himself with the assurance thatthe dead are blessed which die in the Lord; but the mother only thought ofher child as a flower of the field cut down and withered in the midst ofits sweetness; she was like Rachel, “mourning over her children, and wouldnot be comforted.”

On returning to the inn I learnt the whole story of the deceased. It was asimple one, and such as has often been told. She had been the beauty andpride of the village. Her father had once been an opulent farmer, but wasreduced in circ*mstances. This was an only child, and brought up entirelyat home in the simplicity of rural life. She had been the pupil of thevillage pastor, the favorite lamb of his little flock. The good manwatched over her education with paternal care; it was limited and suitableto the sphere in which she was to move, for he only sought to make her anornament to her station in life, not to raise her above it. The tendernessand indulgence of her parents and the exemption from all ordinaryoccupations had fostered a natural grace and delicacy of character thataccorded with the fragile loveliness of her form. She appeared like sometender plant of the garden blooming accidentally amid the hardier nativesof the fields.

The superiority of her charms was felt and acknowledged by her companions,but without envy, for it was surpassed by the unassuming gentleness andwinning kindness of her manners. It might be truly said of her:

“This is the prettiest low-born lass, that everRan on the green-sward: nothing she does or seemsBut smacks of something greater than herself;Too noble for this place.” 

The village was one of those sequestered spots which still retain somevestiges of old English customs. It had its rural festivals and holidaypastimes, and still kept up some faint observance of the once popularrites of May. These, indeed, had been promoted by its present pastor, whowas a lover of old customs and one of those simple Christians that thinktheir mission fulfilled by promoting joy on earth and good-will amongmankind. Under his auspices the May-pole stood from year to year in thecentre of the village green; on Mayday it was decorated with garlands andstreamers, and a queen or lady of the May was appointed, as in formertimes, to preside at the sports and distribute the prizes and rewards. Thepicturesque situation of the village and the fancifulness of its rusticfetes would often attract the notice of casual visitors. Among these, onone May-day, was a young officer whose regiment had been recentlyquartered in the neighborhood. He was charmed with the native taste thatpervaded this village pageant, but, above all, with the dawning lovelinessof the queen of May. It was the village favorite who was crowned withflowers, and blushing and smiling in all the beautiful confusion ofgirlish diffidence and delight. The artlessness of rural habits enabledhim readily to make her acquaintance; he gradually won his way into herintimacy, and paid his court to her in that unthinking way in which youngofficers are too apt to trifle with rustic simplicity.

There was nothing in his advances to startle or alarm. He never eventalked of love, but there are modes of making it more eloquent thanlanguage, and which convey it subtilely and irresistibly to the heart. Thebeam of the eye, the tone of voice, the thousand tendernesses whichemanate from every word and look and action,—these form the trueeloquence of love, and can always be felt and understood, but neverdescribed. Can we wonder that they should readily win a heart young,guileless, and susceptible? As to her, she loved almost unconsciously; shescarcely inquired what was the growing passion that was absorbing everythought and feeling, or what were to be its consequences. She, indeed,looked not to the future. When present, his looks and words occupied herwhole attention; when absent, she thought but of what had passed at theirrecent interview. She would wander with him through the green lanes andrural scenes of the vicinity. He taught her to see new beauties in Nature;he talked in the language of polite and cultivated life, and breathed intoher ear the witcheries of romance and poetry.

Perhaps there could not have been a passion between the sexes more purethan this innocent girl’s. The gallant figure of her youthful admirer andthe splendor of his military attire might at first have charmed her eye,but it was not these that had captivated her heart. Her attachment hadsomething in it of idolatry. She looked up to him as to a being of asuperior order. She felt in his society the enthusiasm of a mind naturallydelicate and poetical, and now first awakened to a keen perception of thebeautiful and grand. Of the sordid distinctions of rank and fortune shethought nothing; it was the difference of intellect, of demeanor, ofmanners, from those of the rustic society to which she had beenaccustomed, that elevated him in her opinion. She would listen to him withcharmed ear and downcast look of mute delight, and her cheek would mantlewith enthusiasm; or if ever she ventured a shy glance of timid admiration,it was as quickly withdrawn, and she would sigh and blush at the idea ofher comparative unworthiness.

Her lover was equally impassioned, but his passion was mingled withfeelings of a coarser nature. He had begun the connection in levity, forhe had often heard his brother-officers boast of their village conquests,and thought some triumph of the kind necessary to his reputation as a manof spirit. But he was too full of youthful fervor. His heart had not yetbeen rendered sufficiently cold and selfish by a wandering and adissipated life: it caught fire from the very flame it sought to kindle,and before he was aware of the nature of his situation he became really inlove.

What was he to do? There were the old obstacles which so incessantly occurin these heedless attachments. His rank in life, the prejudices of titledconnections, his dependence upon a proud and unyielding father, allforbade him to think of matrimony; but when he looked down upon thisinnocent being, so tender and confiding, there was a purity in hermanners, a blamelessness in her life, and a beseeching modesty in herlooks that awed down every licentious feeling. In vain did he try tofortify himself by a thousand heartless examples of men of fashion, and tochill the glow of generous sentiment with that cold derisive levity withwhich he had heard them talk of female virtue: whenever he came into herpresence she was still surrounded by that mysterious but impassive charmof virgin purity in whose hallowed sphere no guilty thought can live.

The sudden arrival of orders for the regiment to repair to the Continentcompleted the confusion of his mind. He remained for a short time in astate of the most painful irresolution; he hesitated to communicate thetidings until the day for marching was at hand, when he gave her theintelligence in the course of an evening ramble.

The idea of parting had never before occurred to her. It broke in at onceupon her dream of felicity; she looked upon it as a sudden andinsurmountable evil, and wept with the guileless simplicity of a child. Hedrew her to his bosom and kissed the tears from her soft cheek; nor did hemeet with a repulse, for there are moments of mingled sorrow andtenderness which hallow the caresses of affection. He was naturallyimpetuous, and the sight of beauty apparently yielding in his arms, theconfidence of his power over her, and the dread of losing her forever allconspired to overwhelm his better feelings: he ventured to propose thatshe should leave her home and be the companion of his fortunes.

He was quite a novice in seduction, and blushed and faltered at his ownbaseness; but so innocent of mind was his intended victim that she was atfirst at a loss to comprehend his meaning, and why she should leave hernative village and the humble roof of her parents. When at last the natureof his proposal flashed upon her pure mind, the effect was withering. Shedid not weep; she did not break forth into reproach; she said not a word,but she shrunk back aghast as from a viper, gave him a look of anguishthat pierced to his very soul, and, clasping her hands in agony, fled, asif for refuge, to her father’s cottage.

The officer retired confounded, humiliated, and repentant. It is uncertainwhat might have been the result of the conflict of his feelings, had nothis thoughts been diverted by the bustle of departure. New scenes, newpleasures, and new companions soon dissipated his self-reproach andstifled his tenderness; yet, amidst the stir of camps, the revelries ofgarrisons, the array of armies, and even the din of battles, his thoughtswould sometimes steal back to the scenes of rural quiet and villagesimplicity—the white cottage, the footpath along the silver brookand up the hawthorn hedge, and the little village maid loitering along it,leaning on his arm and listening to him with eyes beaming with unconsciousaffection.

The shock which the poor girl had received in the destruction of all herideal world had indeed been cruel. Faintings and hysterics had at firstshaken her tender frame, and were succeeded by a settled and piningmelancholy. She had beheld from her window the march of the departingtroops. She had seen her faithless lover borne off, as if in triumph,amidst the sound of drum and trumpet and the pomp of arms. She strained alast aching gaze after him as the morning sun glittered about his figureand his plume waved in the breeze; he passed away like a bright visionfrom her sight, and left her all in darkness.

It would be trite to dwell on the particulars of her after story. It was,like other tales of love, melancholy. She avoided society and wandered outalone in the walks she had most frequented with her lover. She sought,like the stricken deer, to weep in silence and loneliness and brood overthe barbed sorrow that rankled in her soul. Sometimes she would be seenlate of an evening sitting in the porch of the village church, and themilk-maids, returning from the fields, would now and then overhear hersinging some plaintive ditty in the hawthorn walk. She became fervent inher devotions at church, and as the old people saw her approach, so wastedaway, yet with a hectic gloom and that hallowed air which melancholydiffuses round the form, they would make way for her as for somethingspiritual, and looking after her, would shake their heads in gloomyforeboding.

She felt a conviction that she was hastening to the tomb, but lookedforward to it as a place of rest. The silver cord that had bound her toexistence was loosed, and there seemed to be no more pleasure under thesun. If ever her gentle bosom had entertained resentment against herlover, it was extinguished. She was incapable of angry passions, and in amoment of saddened tenderness she penned him a farewell letter. It wascouched in the simplest language, but touching from its very simplicity.She told him that she was dying, and did not conceal from him that hisconduct was the cause. She even depicted the sufferings which she hadexperienced, but concluded with saying that she could not die in peaceuntil she had sent him her forgiveness and her blessing.

By degrees her strength declined that she could no longer leave thecottage. She could only totter to the window, where, propped up in herchair, it was her enjoyment to sit all day and look out upon thelandscape. Still she uttered no complaint nor imparted to any one themalady that was preying on her heart. She never even mentioned her lover’sname, but would lay her head on her mother’s bosom and weep in silence.Her poor parents hung in mute anxiety over this fading blossom of theirhopes, still flattering themselves that it might again revive to freshnessand that the bright unearthly bloom which sometimes flushed her cheekmight be the promise of returning health.

In this way she was seated between them one Sunday afternoon; her handswere clasped in theirs, the lattice was thrown open, and the soft air thatstole in brought with it the fragrance of the clustering honeysuckle whichher own hands had trained round the window.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (121)


Her father had just been reading a chapter in the Bible: it spoke of thevanity of worldly things and of the joys of heaven: it seemed to havediffused comfort and serenity through her bosom. Her eye was fixed on thedistant village church: the bell had tolled for the evening service; thelast villager was lagging into the porch, and everything had sunk intothat hallowed stillness peculiar to the day of rest. Her parents weregazing on her with yearning hearts. Sickness and sorrow, which pass soroughly over some faces, had given to hers the expression of a seraph’s. Atear trembled in her soft blue eye. Was she thinking of her faithlesslover? or were her thoughts wandering to that distant churchyard, intowhose bosom she might soon be gathered?

Suddenly the clang of hoofs was heard: a horseman galloped to the cottage;he dismounted before the window; the poor girl gave a faint exclamationand sunk back in her chair: it was her repentant lover. He rushed into thehouse and flew to clasp her to his bosom; but her wasted form, herdeathlike countenance—so wan, yet so lovely in its desolation—smotehim to the soul, and he threw himself in agony at her feet. She was toofaint to rise—she attempted to extend her trembling hand—herlips moved as if she spoke, but no word was articulated; she looked downupon him with a smile of unutterable tenderness, and closed her eyesforever.

Such are the particulars which I gathered of this village story. They arebut scanty, and I am conscious have little novelty to recommend them. Inthe present rage also for strange incident and high-seasoned narrativethey may appear trite and insignificant, but they interested me stronglyat the time; and, taken in connection with the affecting ceremony which Ihad just witnessed, left a deeper impression on my mind than manycirc*mstances of a more striking nature. I have passed through the placesince, and visited the church again from a better motive than merecuriosity. It was a wintry evening: the trees were stripped of theirfoliage, the churchyard looked naked and mournful, and the wind rustledcoldly through the dry grass. Evergreens, however, had been planted aboutthe grave of the village favorite, and osiers were bent over it to keepthe turf uninjured.

The church-door was open and I stepped in. There hung the chaplet offlowers and the gloves, as on the day of the funeral: the flowers werewithered, it is true, but care seemed to have been taken that no dustshould soil their whiteness. I have seen many monuments where art hasexhausted its powers to awaken the sympathy of the spectator, but I havemet with none that spoke more touchingly to my heart than this simple butdelicate memento of departed innocence.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (122)



This day Dame Nature seem’d in love,The lusty sap began to move,Fresh juice did stir th’ embracing vines,And birds had drawn their valentines.The jealous trout that low did lie,Rose at a well-dissembled flie.There stood my friend, with patient skill,Attending of his trembling quill.SIR H. WOTTON.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (123)

IT is said that many an unlucky urchin is induced to run away from hisfamily and betake himself to a seafaring life from reading the history ofRobinson Crusoe; and I suspect that, in like manner, many of those worthygentlemen who are given to haunt the sides of pastoral streams withangle-rods in hand may trace the origin of their passion to the seductivepages of honest Izaak Walton. I recollect studying his Complete Anglerseveral years since in company with a knot of friends in America, andmoreover that we were all completely bitten with the angling mania. It wasearly in the year, but as soon as the weather was auspicious, and that thespring began to melt into the verge of summer, we took rod in hand andsallied into the country, as stark mad as was ever Don Quixote fromreading books of chivalry.

One of our party had equalled the Don in the fulness of his equipments,being attired cap-a-pie for the enterprise. He wore a broad-skirtedfustian coat, perplexed with half a hundred pockets; a pair of stout shoesand leathern gaiters; a basket slung on one side for fish; a patent rod, alanding net, and a score of other inconveniences only to be found in thetrue angler’s armory. Thus harnessed for the field, he was as great amatter of stare and wonderment among the country folk, who had never seena regular angler, as was the steel-clad hero of La Mancha among thegoatherds of the Sierra Morena.

Our first essay was along a mountain brook among the Highlands of theHudson—a most unfortunate place for the execution of those piscatorytactics which had been invented along the velvet margins of quiet Englishrivulets. It was one of those wild streams that lavish, among our romanticsolitudes, unheeded beauties enough to fill the sketch-book of a hunter ofthe picturesque. Sometimes it would leap down rocky shelves, making smallcascades, over which the trees threw their broad balancing sprays and longnameless weeds hung in fringes from the impending banks, dripping withdiamond drops. Sometimes it would brawl and fret along a ravine in thematted shade of a forest, filling it with murmurs, and after thistermagant career would steal forth into open day with the most placid,demure face imaginable, as I have seen some pestilent shrew of ahousewife, after filling her home with uproar and ill-humor, come dimplingout of doors, swimming and curtseying and smiling upon all the world.

How smoothly would this vagrant brook glide at such times through somebosom of green meadowland among the mountains, where the quiet was onlyinterrupted by the occasional tinkling of a bell from the lazy cattleamong the clover or the sound of a woodcutter’s axe from the neighboringforest!

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (124)


For my part, I was always a bungler at all kinds of sport that requiredeither patience or adroitness, and had not angled above half an hourbefore I had completely “satisfied the sentiment,” and convinced myself ofthe truth of Izaak Walton’s opinion, that angling is something like poetry—aman must be born to it. I hooked myself instead of the fish, tangled myline in every tree, lost my bait, broke my rod, until I gave up theattempt in despair, and passed the day under the trees reading old Izaak,satisfied that it was his fascinating vein of honest simplicity and ruralfeeling that had bewitched me, and not the passion for angling. Mycompanions, however, were more persevering in their delusion. I have themat this moment before eyes, stealing along the border of the brook whereit lay open to the day or was merely fringed by shrubs and bushes. I seethe bittern rising with hollow scream as they break in upon hisrarely-invaded haunt; the kingfisher watching them suspiciously from hisdry tree that overhangs the deep black millpond in the gorge of the hills;the tortoise letting himself slip sideways from off the stone or log onwhich he is sunning himself; and the panic-struck frog plumping inheadlong as they approach, and spreading an alarm throughout the wateryworld around.

I recollect also that, after toiling and watching and creeping about forthe greater part of a day, with scarcely any success in spite of all ouradmirable apparatus, a lubberly country urchin came down from the hillswith a rod made from a branch of a tree, a few yards of twine, and, asHeaven shall help me! I believe a crooked pin for a hook, baited with avile earthworm, and in half an hour caught more fish than we had nibblesthroughout the day!

But, above all, I recollect the “good, honest, wholesome, hungry” repastwhich we made under a beech tree just by a spring of pure sweet water thatstole out of the side of a hill, and how, when it was over, one of theparty read old Izaak Walton’s scene with the milkmaid, while I lay on thegrass and built castles in a bright pile of clouds until I fell asleep.All this may appear like mere egotism, yet I cannot refrain from utteringthese recollections, which are passing like a strain of music over my mindand have been called up by an agreeable scene which I witnessed not longsince.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (125)


In the morning’s stroll along the banks of the Alun, a beautiful littlestream which flows down from the Welsh hills and throws itself into theDee, my attention was attracted to a group seated on the margin. Onapproaching I found it to consist of a veteran angler and two rusticdisciples. The former was an old fellow with a wooden leg, with clothesvery much but very carefully patched, betokening poverty honestly come byand decently maintained. His face bore the marks of former storms, butpresent fair weather, its furrows had been worn into an habitual smile,his iron-gray locks hung about his ears, and he had altogether thegood-humored air of a constitutional philosopher who was disposed to takethe world as it went. One of his companions was a ragged wight with theskulking look of an arrant poacher, and I’ll warrant could find his way toany gentleman’s fish-pond in the neighborhood in the darkest night. Theother was a tall, awkward country lad, with a lounging gait, andapparently somewhat of a rustic beau. The old man was busy in examiningthe maw of a trout which he had just killed, to discover by its contentswhat insects were seasonable for bait, and was lecturing on the subject tohis companions, who appeared to listen with infinite deference. I have akind feeling towards all “brothers of the angle” ever since I read IzaakWalton. They are men, he affirms, of a “mild, sweet, and peaceablespirit;” and my esteem for them has been increased since I met with an oldTretyse of fishing with the Angle, in which are set forth many of themaxims of their inoffensive fraternity. “Take good hede,” sayeth thishonest little tretyse, “that in going about your disportes ye open noman’s gates but that ye shet them again. Also ye shall not use thisforsayd crafti disport for no covetousness to the encreasing and sparingof your money only, but principally for your solace, and to cause thehelth of your body and specyally of your soule.” *

I thought that I could perceive in the veteran angler before me anexemplification of what I had read; and there was a cheerful contentednessin his looks that quite drew me towards him. I could not but remark thegallant manner in which he stumped from one part of the brook to another,waving his rod in the air to keep the line from dragging on the ground orcatching among the bushes, and the adroitness with which he would throwhis fly to any particular place, sometimes skimming it lightly along alittle rapid, sometimes casting it into one of those dark holes made by atwisted root or overhanging bank in which the large trout are apt to lurk.In the meanwhile he was giving instructions to his two disciples, showingthem the manner in which they should handle their rods, fix their flies,and play them along the surface of the stream. The scene brought to mymind the instructions of the sage Piscator to his scholar. The countryaround was of that pastoral kind which Walton is fond of describing. Itwas a part of the great plain of Cheshire, close by the beautiful vale ofGessford, and just where the inferior Welsh hills begin to swell up fromamong fresh-smelling meadows. The day too, like that recorded in his work,was mild and sunshiny, with now and then a soft-dropping shower that sowedthe whole earth with diamonds.

* From this same treatise it would appear that angling is amore industrious and devout employment than it is generallyconsidered: “For when ye purpose to go on your disportes infishynge ye will not desyre greatlye many persons with you,which might let you of your game. And that ye may serve Goddevoutly in saying effectually your customable prayers. Andthus doying, ye shall eschew and also avoyde many vices, asydelness, which is principall cause to induce man to manyother vices, as it is right well known.” 

I soon fell into conversation with the old angler, and was so muchentertained that, under pretext of receiving instructions in his art, Ikept company with him almost the whole day, wandering along the banks ofthe stream and listening to his talk. He was very communicative, havingall the easy garrulity of cheerful old age, and I fancy was a littleflattered by having an opportunity of displaying his piscatory lore, forwho does not like now and then to play the sage?

He had been much of a rambler in his day, and had passed some years of hisyouth in America, particularly in Savannah, where he had entered intotrade and had been ruined by the indiscretion of a partner. He hadafterwards experienced many ups and downs in life until he got into thenavy, where his leg was carried away by a cannon-ball at the battle ofCamperdown. This was the only stroke of real good-fortune he had everexperienced, for it got him a pension, which, together with some smallpaternal property, brought him in a revenue of nearly forty pounds. Onthis he retired to his native village, where he lived quietly andindependently, and devoted the remainder of his life to the “noble art ofangling.”

I found that he had read Izaak Walton attentively, and he seemed to haveimbibed all his simple frankness and prevalent good-humor. Though he hadbeen sorely buffeted about the world, he was satisfied that the world, initself, was good and beautiful. Though he had been as roughly used indifferent countries as a poor sheep that is fleeced by every hedge andthicket, yet he spoke of every nation with candor and kindness, appearingto look only on the good side of things; and, above all, he was almost theonly man I had ever met with who had been an unfortunate adventurer inAmerica and had honesty and magnanimity enough to take the fault to hisown door, and not to curse the country. The lad that was receiving hisinstructions, I learnt, was the son and heir-apparent of a fat old widowwho kept the village inn, and of course a youth of some expectation, andmuch courted by the idle gentleman-like personages of the place. In takinghim under his care, therefore, the old man had probably an eye to aprivileged corner in the tap-room and an occasional cup of cheerful alefree of expense.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (126)


There is certainly something in angling—if we could forget, whichanglers are apt to do, the cruelties and tortures inflicted on worms andinsects—that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit and a pureserenity of mind. As the English are methodical even in their recreations,and are the most scientific of sportsmen, it has been reduced among themto perfect rule and system. Indeed, it is an amusem*nt peculiarly adaptedto the mild and highly-cultivated scenery of England, where everyroughness has been softened away from the landscape. It is delightful tosaunter along those limpid streams which wander, like veins of silver,through the bosom of this beautiful country, leading one through adiversity of small home scenery—sometimes winding through ornamentedgrounds; sometimes brimming along through rich pasturage, where the freshgreen is mingled with sweet-smelling flowers; sometimes venturing in sightof villages and hamlets, and then running capriciously away into shadyretirements. The sweetness and serenity of Nature and the quietwatchfulness of the sport gradually bring on pleasant fits of musing,which are now and then agreeably interrupted by the song of a bird, thedistant whistle of the peasant, or perhaps the vagary of some fish leapingout of the still water and skimming transiently about its glassy surface.“When I would beget content,” says Izaak Walton, “and increase confidencein the power and wisdom and providence of Almighty God, I will walk themeadows by some gliding stream, and there contemplate the lilies that takeno care, and those very many other little living creatures that are notonly created, but fed (man knows not how) by the goodness of the God ofNature, and therefore trust in Him.”

I cannot forbear to give another quotation from one of those ancientchampions of angling which breathes the same innocent and happy spirit:

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (127)

Let me live harmlessly, and near the brinkOf Trent or Avon have a dwelling-place:Where I may see my quill, or cork, down sinkWith eager bite of Pike, or Bleak, or Dace;And on the world and my Creator think:Whilst some men strive ill-gotten goods t’ embrace:And others spend their time in base excessOf wine, or worse, in war or wantonness.Let them that will, these pastimes still pursue,And on such pleasing fancies feed their fill;So I the fields and meadows green may view,And daily by fresh rivers walk at will,Among the daisies and the violets blue,Red hyacinth and yellow daffodil.*

On parting with the old angler I inquired after his place of abode, and,happening to be in the neighborhood of the village a few eveningsafterwards, I had the curiosity to seek him out. I found him living in asmall cottage containing only one room, but a perfect curiosity in itsmethod and arrangement. It was on the skirts of the village, on a greenbank a little back from the road, with a small garden in front stockedwith kitchen herbs and adorned with a few flowers. The whole front of thecottage was overrun with a honeysuckle. On the top was a ship for aweatherco*ck. The interior was fitted up in a truly nautical style, hisideas of comfort and convenience having been acquired on the berth-deck ofa man-of-war. A hammock was slung from the ceiling which in the daytimewas lashed up so as to take but little room. From the centre of thechamber hung a model of a ship, of his own workmanship. Two or threechairs, a table, and a large sea-chest formed the principal movables.About the wall were stuck up naval ballads, such as “Admiral Hosier’sGhost,” “All in the Downs,” and “Tom Bowling,” intermingled with picturesof sea-fights, among which the battle of Camperdown held a distinguishedplace. The mantelpiece was decorated with sea-shells, over which hung aquadrant, flanked by two wood-cuts of most bitter-looking navalcommanders. His implements for angling were carefully disposed on nailsand hooks about the room. On a shelf was arranged his library, containinga work on angling, much worn, a Bible covered with canvas, an odd volumeor two of voyages, a nautical almanac, and a book of songs.

* J. Davors.

His family consisted of a large black cat with one eye, and a parrot whichhe had caught and tamed and educated himself in the course of one of hisvoyages, and which uttered a variety of sea-phrases with the hoarsebrattling tone of a veteran boatswain. The establishment reminded me ofthat of the renowned Robinson Crusoe; it was kept in neat order,everything being “stowed away” with the regularity of a ship of war; andhe informed me that he “scoured the deck every morning and swept itbetween meals.”

I found him seated on a bench before the door, smoking his pipe in thesoft evening sunshine. His cat was purring soberly on the threshold, andhis parrot describing some strange evolutions in an iron ring that swungin the centre of his cage. He had been angling all day, and gave me ahistory of his sport with as much minuteness as a general would talk overa campaign, being particularly animated in relating the manner in which hehad taken a large trout, which had completely tasked all his skill andwariness, and which he had sent as a trophy to mine hostess of the inn.

How comforting it is to see a cheerful and contented old age, and tobehold a poor fellow like this, after being tempest-tost through life,safely moored in a snug and quiet harbor in the evening of his days! Hishappiness, however, sprung from within himself and was independent ofexternal circ*mstances, for he had that inexhaustible good-nature which isthe most precious gift of Heaven, spreading itself like oil over thetroubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in theroughest weather.

On inquiring further about him, I learnt that he was a universal favoritein the village and the oracle of the tap-room, where he delighted therustics with his songs, and, like Sindbad, astonished them with hisstories of strange lands and shipwrecks and sea-fights. He was muchnoticed too by gentlemen sportsmen of the neighborhood, had taught severalof them the art of angling, and was a privileged visitor to theirkitchens. The whole tenor of his life was quiet and inoffensive, beingprincipally passed about the neighboring streams when the weather andseason were favorable; and at other times he employed himself at home,preparing his fishing-tackle for the next campaign or manufacturing rods,nets, and flies for his patrons and pupils among the gentry.

He was a regular attendant at church on Sundays, though he generally fellasleep during the sermon. He had made it his particular request that whenhe died he should be buried in a green spot which he could see from hisseat in church, and which he had marked out ever since he was a boy, andhad thought of when far from home on the raging sea in danger of beingfood for the fishes: it was the spot where his father and mother had beenburied.

I have done, for I fear that my reader is growing weary, but I could notrefrain from drawing the picture of this worthy “brother of the angle,” who has made me more than ever in love with the theory, though I fear Ishall never be adroit in the practice, of his art; and I will concludethis rambling sketch in the words of honest Izaak Walton, by craving theblessing of St. Peter’s Master upon my reader, “and upon all that are truelovers of virtue, and dare trust in His providence, and be quiet, and goa-angling.”

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (128)




A pleasing land of drowsy-head it was,Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye,And of gay castles in the clouds that pays,For ever flushing round a summer sky.Castle of Indolence

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (129)

IN the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shoreof the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by theancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudentlyshortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when theycrossed, there lies a small market-town or rural port which by some iscalled Greensburg, but which is more generally and properly known by thename of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days bythe good housewives of the adjacent country from the inveterate propensityof their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Bethat as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it forthe sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village,perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land,among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world.A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one torepose, and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpeckeris almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniformtranquillity.

I recollect that when a stripling my first exploit in squirrel-shootingwas in a grove of tall walnut trees that shades one side of the valley. Ihad wandered into it at noontime, when all Nature is peculiarly quiet, andwas startled by the roar of my own gun as it broke the Sabbath stillnessaround and was prolonged and reverberated by the angry echoes. If ever Ishould wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the world and itsdistractions and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I knowof none more promising than this little valley.

From the listless repose of the place and the peculiar character of itsinhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, thissequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and itsrustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all theneighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over theland and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place wasbewitched by a High German doctor during the early days of the settlement;others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, heldhis powwows there before the country was discovered by Master HendrickHudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of somewitching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people,causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kindsof marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequentlysee strange sights and hear music and voices in the air. The wholeneighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilightsuperstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valleythan in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her wholeninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seemsto be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparitionof a figure on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be theghost of a Hessian trooper whose head had been carried away by acannonball in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and whois ever and anon seen by the country-folk hurrying along in the gloom ofnight as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not confined to thevalley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to thevicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the mostauthentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collectingand collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that thebody of the trooper, having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost ridesforth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that therushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the Hollow, like amidnight blast, is owing to his being belated and in a hurry to get backto the churchyard before daybreak.

Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which hasfurnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; andthe spectre is known at all the country firesides by the name of theHeadless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is notconfined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciouslyimbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake theymay have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure in alittle time to inhale the witching influence of the air and begin to growimaginative—to dream dreams and see apparitions.

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in suchlittle retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the greatState of New York, that population, manners, and customs remain fixed,while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making suchincessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by themunobserved. They are like those little nooks of still water which border arapid stream where we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly atanchor or slowly revolving in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rushof the passing current. Though many years have elapsed since I trod thedrowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet I question whether I should not stillfind the same trees and the same families vegetating in its shelteredbosom.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (130)


In this by-place of Nature there abode, in a remote period of Americanhistory—that is to say, some thirty years since—a worthy wightof the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as he expressed it,“tarried,” in Sleepy Hollow for the purpose of instructing the children ofthe vicinity. He was a native of Connecticut, a State which supplies theUnion with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest, and sendsforth yearly its legions of frontier woodmen and country schoolmasters.The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, butexceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands thatdangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served forshovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head wassmall, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and along snip nose, so that it looked like a weatherco*ck perched upon hisspindle neck to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding alongthe profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging andfluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of Faminedescending upon the earth or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

His school-house was a low building of one large room, rudely constructedof logs, the windows partly glazed and partly patched with leaves of oldcopybooks. It was most ingeniously secured at vacant hours by a withetwisted in the handle of the door and stakes set against thewindow-shutters, so that, though a thief might get in with perfect ease,he would find some embarrassment in getting out—-an idea mostprobably borrowed by the architect, Yost Van Houten, from the mystery ofan eel-pot. The school-house stood in a rather lonely but pleasantsituation, just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close byand a formidable birch tree growing at one end of it. From hence the lowmurmur of his pupils’ voices, conning over their lessons, might be heardin a drowsy summer’s day like the hum of a bee-hive, interrupted now andthen by the authoritative voice of the master in the tone of menace orcommand, or, peradventure, by the appalling sound of the birch as he urgedsome tardy loiterer along the flowery path of knowledge. Truth to say, hewas a conscientious man, and ever bore in mind the golden maxim, “Sparethe rod and spoil the child.” Ichabod Crane’s scholars certainly were notspoiled.

I would not have it imagined, however, that he was one of those cruelpotentates of the school who joy in the smart of their subjects; on thecontrary, he administered justice with discrimination rather thanseverity, taking the burden off the backs of the weak and laying it onthose of the strong. Your mere puny stripling, that winced at the leastflourish of the rod, was passed by with indulgence; but the claims ofjustice were satisfied by inflicting a double portion on some littletough, wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelledand grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch. All this he called “doinghis duty by their parents;” and he never inflicted a chastisem*nt withoutfollowing it by the assurance, so consolatory to the smarting urchin, that“he would remember it and thank him for it the longest day he had tolive.”

When school-hours were over he was even the companion and playmate of thelarger boys, and on holiday afternoons would convoy some of the smallerones home who happened to have pretty sisters or good housewives formothers noted for the comforts of the cupboard. Indeed it behooved him tokeep on good terms with his pupils. The revenue arising from his schoolwas small, and would have been scarcely sufficient to furnish him withdaily bread, for he was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the dilatingpowers of an anaconda; but to help out his maintenance he was, accordingto country custom in those parts, boarded and lodged at the houses of thefarmers whose children he instructed. With these he lived successively aweek at a time, thus going the rounds of the neighborhood with all hisworldly effects tied up in a cotton handkerchief.

That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of his rusticpatrons, who are apt to consider the costs of schooling a grievous burdenand schoolmasters as mere drones, he had various ways of rendering himselfboth useful and agreeable. He assisted the farmers occasionally in thelighter labors of their farms, helped to make hay, mended the fences, tookthe horses to water, drove the cows from pasture, and cut wood for thewinter fire. He laid aside, too, all the dominant dignity and absolutesway with which he lorded it in his little empire, the school, and becamewonderfully gentle and ingratiating. He found favor in the eyes of themothers by petting the children, particularly the youngest; and like thelion bold, which whilom so magnanimously the lamb did hold, he would sitwith a child on one knee and rock a cradle with his foot for whole hourstogether.

In addition to his other vocations, he was the singing-master of theneighborhood and picked up many bright shillings by instructing the youngfolks in psalmody. It was a matter of no little vanity to him on Sundaysto take his station in front of the church-gallery with a band of chosensingers, where, in his own mind, he completely carried away the palm fromthe parson. Certain it is, his voice resounded far above all the rest ofthe congregation, and there are peculiar quavers still to be heard in thatchurch, and which may even be heard half a mile off, quite to the oppositeside of the mill-pond on a still Sunday morning, which are said to belegitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod Crane. Thus, by diverslittle makeshifts in that ingenious way which is commonly denominated “byhook and by crook,” the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and wasthought, by all who understood nothing of the labor of headwork, to have awonderfully easy life of it.

The schoolmaster is generally a man of some importance in the femalecircle of a rural neighborhood, being considered a kind of idle,gentleman-like personage of vastly superior taste and accomplishments tothe rough country swains, and, indeed, inferior in learning only to theparson. His appearance, therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir atthe tea-table of a farmhouse and the addition of a supernumerary dish ofcakes or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver tea-pot. Ourman of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the smiles of all thecountry damsels. How he would figure among them in the churchyard betweenservices on Sundays, gathering grapes for them from the wild vines thatoverrun the surrounding trees; reciting for their amusem*nt all theepitaphs on the tombstones; or sauntering, with a whole bevy of them,along the banks of the adjacent mill-pond, while the more bashful countrybumpkins hung sheepishly back, envying his superior elegance and address.

From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling gazette,carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house, so that hisappearance was always greeted with satisfaction. He was, moreover,esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read severalbooks quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s Historyof New England Witchcraft, in which, by the way, he most firmly andpotently believed.

He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity.His appetite for the marvellous and his powers of digesting it wereequally extraordinary, and both had been increased by his residence inthis spellbound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for hiscapacious swallow. It was often his delight, after his school wasdismissed in the afternoon, to stretch himself on the rich bed of cloverbordering the little brook that whimpered by his school-house, and therecon over old Mather’s direful tales until the gathering dusk of theevening made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes. Then, as hewended his way by swamp and stream and awful woodland to the farmhousewhere he happened to be quartered, every sound of Nature at that witchinghour fluttered his excited imagination—the moan of thewhip-poor-will* from the hillside; the boding cry of the tree-toad, thatharbinger of storm; the dreary hooting of the screech-owl, or the suddenrustling in the thicket of birds frightened from their roost. Thefire-flies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, nowand then startled him as one of uncommon brightness would stream acrosshis path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging hisblundering flight against him, the poor varlet was ready to give up theghost, with the idea that he was struck with a witch’s token. His onlyresource on such occasions, either to drown thought or drive away evilspirits, was to sing psalm tunes; and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, asthey sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with awe athearing his nasal melody, “in linked sweetness long drawn out,” floatingfrom the distant hill or along the dusky road.

* The whip-poor-will is a bird which is only heard at night.It receives its name from its note, which is thought toresemble those words.

Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winterevenings with the old Dutch wives as they sat spinning by the fire, with arow of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen totheir marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, andhaunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularlyof the headless horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as theysometimes called him. He would delight them equally by his anecdotes ofwitchcraft and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds inthe air which prevailed in the earlier times of Connecticut, and wouldfrighten them woefully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars,and with the alarming fact that the world did absolutely turn round andthat they were half the time topsy-turvy.

But if there was a pleasure in all this while snugly cuddling in thechimney-corner of a chamber that was all of a ruddy glow from thecrackling wood-fire, and where, of course, no spectre dared to show itsface, it was dearly purchased by the terrors of his subsequent walkhomewards. What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path amidst the dimand ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did be eyeevery trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from somedistant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with snow,which, like a sheeted spectre, beset his very path! How often did heshrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crustbeneath his feet, and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he shouldbehold some uncouth being tramping close behind him! And how often was hethrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast howling among the trees,in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightlyscourings!

All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mindthat walk in darkness; and though he had seen many spectres in his time,and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes in his lonelyperambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he wouldhave passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the devil and all hisworks, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes moreperplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race ofwitches put together, and that was—a woman.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (131)


Among the musical disciples who assembled one evening in each week toreceive his instructions in psalmody was Katrina Van Tassel, the daughterand only child of a substantial Dutch farmer. She was a blooming lass offresh eighteen, plump as a partridge, ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked asone of her father’s peaches, and universally famed, not merely for herbeauty, but her vast expectations. She was withal a little of a coquette,as might be perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancientand modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms. She wore theornaments of pure yellow gold which her great-great-grandmother hadbrought over from Saardam, the tempting stomacher of the olden time, andwithal a provokingly short petticoat to display the prettiest foot andankle in the country round.

Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex, and it is notto be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon found favor in his eyes,more especially after he had visited her in her paternal mansion. OldBaltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture of a thriving, contented,liberal-hearted farmer. He seldom, it is true, sent either his eyes or histhoughts beyond the boundaries of his own farm, but within thoseeverything was snug, happy, and well-conditioned. He was satisfied withhis wealth but not proud of it, and piqued himself upon the heartyabundance, rather than the style, in which he lived. His stronghold wassituated on the banks of the Hudson, in one of those green, sheltered,fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers are so fond of nestling. A greatelm tree spread its broad branches over it, at the foot of which bubbledup a spring of the softest and sweetest water in a little well formed of abarrel, and then stole sparkling away through the grass to a neighboringbrook that bubbled along among alders and dwarf willows. Hard by thefarmhouse was a vast barn, that might have served for a church, everywindow and crevice of which seemed bursting forth with the treasures ofthe farm; the flail was busily resounding within it from morning to night;swallows and martins skimmed twittering about the eaves; and rows ofpigeons, some with one eye turned up, as if watching the weather, somewith their heads under their wings or buried in their bosoms, and others,swelling, and cooing, and bowing about their dames, were enjoying thesunshine on the roof. Sleek, unwieldy porkers were grunting in the reposeand abundance of their pens, whence sallied forth, now and then, troops ofsucking pigs as if to snuff the air. A stately squadron of snowy geesewere riding in an adjoining pond, convoying whole fleets of ducks;regiments of turkeys were gobbling through the farmyard, and guinea-fowlsfretting about it, like ill-tempered housewives, with their peevish,discontented cry. Before the barn-door strutted the gallant co*ck, thatpattern of a husband, a warrior, and a fine gentleman, clapping hisburnished wings and crowing in the pride and gladness of his heart—sometimestearing up the earth with his feet, and then generously calling hisever-hungry family of wives and children to enjoy the rich morsel which hehad discovered.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (132)


The pedagogue’s mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous promise ofluxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye he pictured to himselfevery roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly and an applein his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie andtucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their owngravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes, like snug married couples,with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers he saw carved outthe future sleek side of bacon and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey buthe beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and,peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright Chanticleerhimself lay sprawling on his back in a side-dish, with uplifted claws, asif craving that quarter which his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask whileliving.

As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his greatgreen eyes over the fat meadow-lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye, ofbuckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burdened with ruddy fruit,which surrounded the warm tenement of Van Tassel, his heart yearned afterthe damsel who was to inherit these domains, and his imagination expandedwith the idea how they might be readily turned into cash and the moneyinvested in immense tracts of wild land and shingle palaces in thewilderness. Nay, his busy fancy already realized his hopes, and presentedto him the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of children, mounted onthe top of a wagon loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettlesdangling beneath, and he beheld himself bestriding a pacing mare, with acolt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or the Lord knowswhere.

When he entered the house the conquest of his heart was complete. It wasone of those spacious farmhouses with high-ridged but lowly-sloping roofs,built in the style handed down from the first Dutch settlers, the lowprojecting eaves forming a piazza along the front capable of being closedup in bad weather. Under this were hung flails, harness, various utensilsof husbandry, and nets for fishing in the neighboring river. Benches werebuilt along the sides for summer use, and a great spinning-wheel at oneend and a churn at the other showed the various uses to which thisimportant porch might be devoted. From this piazza the wondering Ichabodentered the hall, which formed the centre of the mansion and the place ofusual residence. Here rows of resplendent pewter, ranged on a longdresser, dazzled his eyes. In one corner stood a huge bag of wool ready tobe spun; in another a quantity of linsey-woolsey just from the loom; earsof Indian corn and strings of dried apples and peaches hung in gayfestoons along the walls, mingled with the gaud of red peppers; and a doorleft ajar gave him a peep into the best parlor, where the claw-footedchairs and dark mahogany tables shone like mirrors; andirons, with theiraccompanying shovel and tongs, glistened from their covert of asparagustops; mock-oranges and conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings ofvarious-colored birds’ eggs were suspended above it; a great ostrich eggwas hung from the centre of the room, and a corner cupboard, knowinglyleft open, displayed immense treasures of old silver and well-mendedchina.

From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of delight thepeace of his mind was at an end, and his only study was how to gain theaffections of the peerless daughter of Van Tassel. In this enterprise,however, he had more real difficulties than generally fell to the lot of aknight-errant of yore, who seldom had anything but giants, enchanters,fiery dragons, and such-like easily-conquered adversaries to contend with,and had to make his way merely through gates of iron and brass and wallsof adamant to the castle keep, where the lady of his heart was confined;all which he achieved as easily as a man would carve his way to the centreof a Christmas pie, and then the lady gave him her hand as a matter ofcourse. Ichabod, on the contrary, had to win his way to the heart of acountry coquette beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which wereforever presenting new difficulties and impediments, and he had toencounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood, thenumerous rustic admirers who beset every portal to her heart, keeping awatchful and angry eye upon each other, but ready to fly out in the commoncause against any new competitor.

Among these the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roistering blade ofthe name of Abraham—or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom—VanBrunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with his feats ofstrength and hardihood. He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, withshort curly black hair and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, havinga mingled air of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame and greatpowers of limb, he had received the nickname of BROM BONES, by which hewas universally known. He was famed for great knowledge and skill inhorsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar. He was foremostat all races and co*ckfights, and, with the ascendancy which bodilystrength acquires in rustic life, was the umpire in all disputes, settinghis hat on one side and giving his decisions with an air and toneadmitting of no gainsay or appeal. He was always ready for either a fightor a frolic, but had more mischief than ill-will in his composition; andwith all his overbearing roughness there was a strong dash of waggishgood-humor at bottom. He had three or four boon companions who regardedhim as their model, and at the head of whom he scoured the country,attending every scene of feud or merriment for miles around. In coldweather he was distinguished by a fur cap surmounted with a flauntingfox’s tail; and when the folks at a country gathering descried thiswell-known crest at a distance, whisking about among a squad of hardriders, they always stood by for a squall. Sometimes his crew would beheard dashing along past the farm-houses at midnight with whoop andhalloo, like a troop of Don Cossacks, and the old dames, startled out oftheir sleep, would listen for a moment till the hurry-scurry had clatteredby, and then exclaim, “Ay, there goes Brom Bones and his gang!” Theneighbors looked upon him with a mixture of awe, admiration, andgood-will, and when any madcap prank or rustic brawl occurred in thevicinity always shook their heads and warranted Brom Bones was at thebottom of it.

This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina forthe object of his uncouth gallantries, and, though his amorous toyingswere something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a bear, yet itwas whispered that she did not altogether discourage his hopes. Certain itis, his advances were signals for rival candidates to retire who felt noinclination to cross a line in his amours; insomuch, that when his horsewas seen tied to Van Tassel’s paling on a Sunday night, a sure sign thathis master was courting—or, as it is termed, “sparking”—within,all other suitors passed by in despair and carried the war into otherquarters.

Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to contend, and,considering all things, a stouter man than he would have shrunk from thecompetition and a wiser (*)man would have despaired. He had, however, ahappy mixture of pliability and perseverance in his nature; he was in formand spirit like a supple jack—yielding, but although; though hebent, he never broke and though he bowed beneath the slightest pressure,yet the moment it was away, jerk! he was as erect and carried his head ashigh as ever.

To have taken the field openly against his rival would have been madnessfor he was not man to be thwarted in his amours, any more than that stormylover, Achilles. Ichabod, therefore, made his advances in a quiet andgently-insinuating manner. Under cover of his character of singing-master,he made frequent visits at the farm-house; not that he had anything toapprehend from the meddlesome interference of parents, which is so often astumbling-block in the path of lovers. Balt Van Tassel was an easy,indulgent soul; he loved his daughter better even than his pipe, and, likea reasonable man and an excellent father, let her have her way ineverything. His notable little wife, too, had enough to do to attend toher housekeeping and manage her poultry for, as she sagely observed, ducksand geese are foolish things and must be looked after, but girls can takecare of themselves. Thus while the busy dame bustled about the house orplied her spinning-wheel at one end of the piazza, honest Balt would sitsmoking his evening pipe at the other, watching the achievements of alittle wooden warrior who, armed with a sword in each hand, was mostvaliantly fighting the wind on the pinnacle of the barn. In the meantime,Ichabod would carry on his suit with the daughter by the side of thespring under the great elm, or sauntering along in the twilight, that hourso favorable to the lover’s eloquence.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (133)


I profess not to know how women’s hearts are wooed and won. To me theyhave always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some seem to have butone vulnerable point, or door of access, while otheres have a thousandavenues and may be captured in a thousand different ways. It is a greattriumph of skill to gain the former, but still greater proof ofgeneralship to maintain possession of the latter, for the man must battlefor his fortress at every door and window. He who wins a thousand commonhearts is therefore entitled to some renown, but he who keeps undisputedsway over the heart of a coquette is indeed a hero. Certain it is, thiswas not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones; and from the momentIchabod Crane made his advances, the interests of the former evidentlydeclined; his horse was no longer seen tied at the palings on Sundaynights, and a deadly feud gradually arose between him and the preceptor ofSleepy Hollow.

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature, would fain havecarried matters to open warfare, and have settled their pretensions to thelady according to the mode of those most concise and simple reasoners, theknights-errant of yore—by single combat; but Ichabod was tooconscious of the superior might of his adversary to enter the listsagainst him: he had overheard a boast of Bones, that he would “double theschoolmaster up and lay him on a shelf of his own school-house;” and hewas too wary to give him an opportunity. There was something extremelyprovoking in this obstinately pacific system; it left Brom no alternativebut to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in his disposition and toplay off boorish practical jokes upon his rival. Ichabod became the objectof whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders. Theyharried his hitherto peaceful domains; smoked out his singing school bystopping up the chimney; broke into the schoolhouse at night in spite ofits formidable fastenings of withe and window stakes, and turnedeverything topsy-turvy; so that the poor schoolmaster began to think allthe witches in the country held their meetings there. But, what was stillmore annoying, Brom took all opportunities of turning him into ridicule inpresence of his mistress, and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whinein the most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod’s, toinstruct her in psalmody.

In this way, matters went on for some time without producing any materialeffect on the relative situation of the contending powers. On a fineautumnal afternoon Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on the loftystool whence he usually watched all the concerns of his little literaryrealm. In his hand he swayed a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; thebirch of justice reposed on three nails behind the throne, a constantterror to evildoers; while on the desk before him might be seen sundrycontraband articles and prohibited weapons detected upon the persons ofidle urchins, such as half-munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages,and whole legions of rampant little paper gameco*cks. Apparently there hadbeen some appalling act of justice recently inflicted, for his scholarswere all busily intent upon their books or slyly whispering behind themwith one eye kept upon the master, and a kind of buzzing stillness reignedthroughout the school-room. It was suddenly interrupted by the appearanceof a negro in tow-cloth jacket and trowsers, a round-crowned fragment of ahat like the cap of Mercury, and mounted on the back of a ragged, wild,half-broken colt, which he managed with a rope by way of halter. He cameclattering up to the school door with an invitation to Ichabod to attend amerry-making or “quilting frolic” to be held that evening at Mynheer VanTassel’s; and, having delivered his message with that air of importanceand effort at fine language which a negro is apt to display on pettyembassies of the kind, he dashed over the brook, and was seen scamperingaway up the hollow, full of the importance and hurry of his mission.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (134)


All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet school-room. The scholarswere hurried through their lessons without stopping at trifles; those whowere nimble skipped over half with impunity, and those who were tardy hada smart application now and then in the rear to quicken their speed orhelp them over a tall word. Books were flung aside without being put awayon the shelves, inkstands were overturned, benches thrown down, and thewhole school was turned loose an hour before the usual time, burstingforth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing about the greenin joy at their early emancipation.

The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half hour at his toilet,brushing and furbishing up his best, and indeed only, suit of rusty black,and arranging his locks by a bit of broken looking-glass that hung up inthe school-house. That he might make his appearance before his mistress inthe true style of a cavalier, he borrowed a horse from the farmer withwhom he was domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman of the name of Hans VanRipper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth like a knight-errant inquest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in the true spirit ofromantic story, give some account of the looks and equipments of my heroand his steed. The animal he bestrode was a broken-down plough-horse thathad outlived almost everything but his viciousness. He was gaunt andshagged, with a ewe neck and a head like a hammer; his rusty mane and tailwere tangled and knotted with burrs; one eye had lost its pupil and wasglaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil init. Still, he must have had fire and mettle in his day, if we may judgefrom the name he bore of Gunpowder. He had, in fact, been a favorite steedof his master’s, the choleric Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and hadinfused, very probably, some of his own spirit into the animal; for, oldand broken down as he looked, there was more of the lurking devil in himthan in any young filly in the country.

Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed. He rode with shortstirrups, which brought his knees nearly up to the pommel of the saddle;his sharp elbows stuck out like grasshoppers’; he carried his whipperpendicularly in his hand like a sceptre; and as his horse jogged on themotion of his arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings. A smallwool hat rested on the top of his nose, for so his scanty strip offorehead might be called, and the skirts of his black coat fluttered outalmost to his horse’s tail. Such was the appearance of Ichabod and hissteed as they shambled out of the gate of Hans Van Ripper, and it wasaltogether such an apparition as is seldom to be met with in broaddaylight.

It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day, the sky was clear and serene,and Nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate withthe idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown andyellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by thefrosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming filesof wild-ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark ofthe squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory nuts, andthe pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboringstubble-field.

The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fulness oftheir revelry they fluttered, chirping and frolicking, from bush to bushand tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety aroundthem. There was the honest co*ck robin, the favorite game of striplingsportsmen, with its loud querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds,flying in sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker, with his crimsoncrest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar-bird,with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail and its little monteiro capof feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light-bluecoat and white under-clothes, screaming and chattering, bobbing andnodding and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songsterof the grove.

As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way his eye, ever open to every symptom ofculinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jollyAutumn. On all sides he beheld vast store of apples—some hanging inoppressive opulence on the trees, some gathered into baskets and barrelsfor the market, others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press.Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden earspeeping from their leafy coverts and holding out the promise of cakes andhasty pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning uptheir fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of themost luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat-fields,breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he beheld them softanticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered andgarnished with honey or treacle by the delicate little dimpled hand ofKatrina Van Tassel.

Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and “sugared suppositions,” he journeyed along the sides of a range of hills which look out upon someof the goodliest scenes of the mighty Hudson. The sun gradually wheeledhis broad disk down into the west. The wide bosom of the Tappan Zee laymotionless and glassy, excepting that here and there a gentle undulationwaved and prolonged the blue shadow of the distant mountain. A few amberclouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air to move them. Thehorizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a pure applegreen, and from that into the deep blue of the mid-heaven. A slanting raylingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts ofthe river, giving greater depth to the dark-gray and purple of their rockysides. A sloop was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down withthe tide, her sail hanging uselessly against the mast, and as thereflection of the sky gleamed along the still water it seemed as if thevessel was suspended in the air.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (135)


It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of the Heer VanTassel, which he found thronged with the pride and flower of the adjacentcountry—old farmers, a spare leathern-faced race, in homespun coatsand breeches, blue stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles;their brisk withered little dames, in close crimped caps, long-waistedshortgowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and pincushions and gaycalico pockets hanging on the outside; buxom lasses, almost as antiquatedas their mothers, excepting where a straw hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps awhite frock, gave symptoms of city innovation; the sons, in shortsquare-skirted coats with rows of stupendous brass buttons, and their hairgenerally queued in the fashion of the times, especially if they couldprocure an eel-skin for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout thecountry as a potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.

Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come to thegathering on his favorite steed Daredevil—a creature, like himselffull of metal and mischief, and which no one but himself could manage. Hewas, in fact, noted for preferring vicious animals, given to all kinds oftricks, which kept the rider in constant risk of his neck, for he held atractable, well-broken horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit.

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon theenraptured gaze of my hero as he entered the state parlor of Van Tassel’smansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses with their luxuriousdisplay of red and white, but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch countrytea-table in the sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped-up platters ofcakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experiencedDutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tenderer oily koek,and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, gingercakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there wereapple pies and peach pies and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham andsmoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums and peachesand pears and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens;together with bowls of milk and cream,—all mingledhiggledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with themotherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst. Heavenbless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this banquet as itdeserves, and am too eager to get on with my story. Happily, Ichabod Cranewas not in so great a hurry as his historian, but did ample justice toevery dainty.

He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion ashis skin was filled with good cheer, and whose spirits rose with eating assome men’s do with drink. He could not help, too, rolling his large eyesround him as he ate, and chuckling with the possibility that he might oneday be lord of all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor.Then, he thought, how soon he’d turn his back upon the old school-house,snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper and every other nigg*rdlypatron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue out of doors that should dare tocall him comrade!

Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a face dilatedwith content and good-humor, round and jolly as the harvest moon. Hishospitable attentions were brief, but expressive, being confined to ashake of the hand, a slap on the shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressinginvitation to “fall to and help themselves.”

And now the sound of the music from the common room, or hall, summoned tothe dance. The musician was an old gray-headed negro who had been theitinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more than half a century. Hisinstrument was as old and battered as himself. The greater part of thetime he scraped on two or three strings, accompanying every movement ofthe bow with a motion of the head, bowing almost to the ground andstamping with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to start.

Ichabod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his vocal powers.Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to have seen his looselyhung frame in full motion and clattering about the room you would havethought Saint Vitus himself, that blessed patron of the dance, wasfiguring before you in person. He was the admiration of all the negroes,who, having gathered, of all ages and sizes, from the farm and theneighborhood, stood forming a pyramid of shining black faces at every doorand window, gazing with delight at the scene, rolling their whiteeyeballs, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear. How couldthe flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and joyous? The lady ofhis heart was his partner in the dance, and smiling graciously in reply toall his amorous oglings, while Brom Bones, sorely smitten with love andjealousy, sat brooding by himself in one corner.

When the dance was at an end Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sagerfolks, who, with old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the piazzagossiping over former times and drawing out long stories about the war.

This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of thosehighly favored places which abound with chronicle and great men. TheBritish and American line had run near it during the war; it had thereforebeen the scene of marauding and infested with refugees, cow-boys, and allkinds of border chivalry. Just sufficient time had elapsed to enable eachstoryteller to dress up his tale with a little becoming fiction, and inthe indistinctness of his recollection to make himself the hero of everyexploit.

There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-bearded Dutchman, whohad nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron nine-pounder from amud breastwork, only that his gun burst at the sixth discharge. And therewas an old gentleman who shall be nameless, being too rich a mynheer to belightly mentioned, who, in the battle of Whiteplains, being an excellentmaster of defence, parried a musket-ball with a small sword, insomuch thathe absolutely felt it whiz round the blade and glance off at the hilt: inproof of which he was ready at any time to show the sword, with the hilt alittle bent. There were several more that had been equally great in thefield, not one of whom but was persuaded that he had a considerable handin bringing the war to a happy termination.

But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions thatsucceeded. The neighborhood is rich in legendary treasures of the kind.Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered, long-settledretreats but are trampled under foot by the shifting throng that forms thepopulation of most of our country places. Besides, there is noencouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarcelyhad time to finish their first nap and turn themselves in their gravesbefore their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood;so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds they have noacquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we soseldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established Dutch communities.

The immediate causes however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories inthese parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. Therewas a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; itbreathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land.Several of the Sleepy Hollow people were present at Van Tassel’s, and, asusual, were doling out their wild and wonderful legends. Many dismal taleswere told about funeral trains and mourning cries and wailings heard andseen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major Andre was taken, andwhich stood in the neighborhood. Some mention was made also of the womanin white that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard toshriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow.The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favorite spectreof Sleepy Hollow, the headless horseman, who had been heard several timesof late patrolling the country, and, it was said, tethered his horsenightly among the graves in the churchyard.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (136)


The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it afavorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll surrounded bylocust trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent whitewashed wallsshine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades ofretirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of waterbordered by high trees, between which peeps may be caught at the bluehills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeamsseem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the deadmight rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell,along, which raves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallentrees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, wasformerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it and the bridgeitself were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom aboutit even in the daytime, but occasioned a fearful darkness at night. Suchwas one of the favorite haunts of the headless horseman, and the placewhere he was most frequently encountered. The tale was told of oldBrouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how he met the horsemanreturning from his foray into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get upbehind him; how they galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp,until they reached the bridge, when the horseman suddenly turned into askeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over thetree-tops with a clap of thunder.

This story was immediately matched by a thrice-marvellous adventure ofBrom Bones, who made light of the galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey.He affirmed that on returning one night from the neighboring village ofSing-Sing he had been over taken by this midnight trooper; that he hadoffered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it too,for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came tothe church bridge the Hessian bolted and vanished in a flash of fire.

All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men talk in thedark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving acasual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod.He repaid them in kind with large extracts from his invaluable author,Cotton Mather, and added many marvellous events that had taken place inhis native state of Connecticut and fearful sights which he had seen inhis nightly walks about Sleepy Hollow.

The revel now gradually broke up. The old farmers gathered together theirfamilies in their wagons, and were heard for some time rattling along thehollow roads and over the distant hills. Some of the damsels mounted onpillions behind their favorite swains, and their light-hearted laughter,mingling with the clatter of hoofs, echoed along the silent woodlands,sounding fainter and fainter until they gradually died away, and the latescene of noise and frolic was all silent and deserted. Ichabod onlylingered behind, according to the custom of country lovers, to have atete-a-tete with the heiress, fully convinced that he was now on the highroad to success. What passed at this interview I will not pretend to say,for in fact I do not know. Something, however, I fear me, must have gonewrong, for he certainly sallied forth, after no very great interval, withan air quite desolate and chop-fallen. Oh these women! these women! Couldthat girl have been playing off any of her coquettish tricks? Was herencouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere sham to secure her conquestof his rival? Heaven only knows, not I! Let it suffice to say, Ichabodstole forth with the air of one who had been sacking a hen-roost, ratherthan a fair lady’s heart. Without looking to the right or left to noticethe scene of rural wealth on which he had so often gloated, he wentstraight to the stable, and with several hearty cuffs and kicks roused hissteed most uncourteously from the comfortable quarters in which he wassoundly sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn and oats and whole valleysof timothy and clover.

It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted andcrestfallen, pursued his travel homewards along the sides of the loftyhills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerilyin the afternoon. The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below him theTappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here andthere the tall mast of a sloop riding quietly at anchor under the land. Inthe dead hush of midnight he could even hear the barking of the watch-dogfrom the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint asonly to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man.Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a co*ck, accidentallyawakened, would sound far, far off, from some farm-house away among thehills; but it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No signs of lifeoccurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, orperhaps the guttural twang of a bull-frog from a neighboring marsh, as ifsleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in his bed.

All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoonnow came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker;the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving cloudsoccasionally had them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely anddismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of thescenes of the ghost-stories had been laid. In the centre of the road stoodan enormous tulip tree which towered like a giant above all the othertrees of the neighborhood and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs weregnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees,twisting down almost to the earth and rising again into the air. It wasconnected with the tragical story of the unfortunate Andre, who had beentaken prisoner hard by, and was universally known by the name of MajorAndre’s tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect andsuperstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starrednamesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights and dolefullamentations told concerning it.

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree he began to whistle: he thoughthis whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through thedry branches. As he approached a little nearer he thought he saw somethingwhite hanging in the midst of the tree: he paused and ceased whistling,but on looking more narrowly perceived that it was a place where the treehad been scathed by lightning and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly heheard a groan: his teeth chattered and his knees smote against the saddle;it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another as they were swayedabout by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils laybefore him.

About two hundred yards from the tree a small brook crossed the road andran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen known by the name of Wiley’sSwamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over thisstream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood a groupof oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw acavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. Itwas at this identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured, andunder the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeomenconcealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a hauntedstream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass italone after dark.

As he approached the stream his heart began to thump; he summoned up,however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in theribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead ofstarting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement and ranbroadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with thedelay, jerked the reins on the other side and kicked lustily with thecontrary foot: it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but itwas only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket ofbrambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip andheel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward,snuffing and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge with asuddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just atthis moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitiveear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove on the margin of the brookhe beheld something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It stirred not,but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready tospring upon the traveller.

The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror. Whatwas to be done? To turn and fly was now too late; and besides, what chancewas there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which could rideupon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, hedemanded in stammering accents, “Who are you?” He received no reply. Herepeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was noanswer. Once more he cudgelled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and,shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune.Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and with ascramble and a bound stood at once in the middle of the road. Though thenight was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in somedegree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensionsand mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer ofmolestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road,jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had now got over hisfright and waywardness.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (137)


Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, andbethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the GallopingHessian, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind. Thestranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulledup, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind; the other did the same.His heart began to sink within him; he endeavored to resume his psalmtune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth and he couldnot utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged silence ofthis pertinacious companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soonfearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising ground, which brought thefigure of his fellow-traveller in relief against the sky, gigantic inheight and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceivingthat he was headless! but his horror was still more increased on observingthat the head, which should have rested on his shoulders, was carriedbefore him on the pommel of the saddle. His terror rose to desperation, herained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a suddenmovement to give his companion the slip; but the spectre started full jumpwith him. Away, then, they dashed through thick and thin, stones flyingand sparks flashing at every bound. Ichabod’s flimsy garments fluttered inthe air as he stretched his long lank body away over his horse’s head inthe eagerness of his flight.

They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow; butGunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping up it,made an opposite turn and plunged headlong down hill to the left. Thisroad leads through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter of amile, where it crosses the bridge famous in goblin story, and just beyondswells the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

As yet the panic of the steed had given his unskillful rider an apparentadvantage in the chase; but just as he had got halfway through the hollowthe girths of the saddle gave away and he felt it slipping from under him.He seized it by the pommel and endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain,and had just time to save himself by clasping old Gunpowder round theneck, when the saddle fell to the earth, and he heard it trampled underfoot by his pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper’s wrathpassed across his mind, for it was his Sunday saddle; but this was no timefor petty fears; the goblin was hard on his haunches, and (unskilled riderthat he was) he had much ado to maintain his seat, sometimes slipping onone side, sometimes on another, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge ofhis horse’s back-bone with a violence that he verily feared would cleavehim asunder.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (138)


An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the churchbridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosomof the brook told him that he was not mistaken. He saw the walls of thechurch dimly glaring under the trees beyond. He recollected the placewhere Brom Bones’ ghostly competitor had disappeared. “If I can but reachthat bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then he heard the blacksteed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felthis hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowdersprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gainedthe opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if hispursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire andbrimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in thevery act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge thehorrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium with atremendous crash; he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder,the black steed, and the goblin rider passed by like a whirlwind.

The next morning the old horse was found, without his saddle and with thebridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master’s gate.Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast; dinner-hour came, but noIchabod. The boys assembled at the school-house and strolled idly aboutthe banks of the brook but no schoolmaster. Hans Van Ripper now began tofeel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod and his saddle. Aninquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they came uponhis traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found thesaddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs, deeply dented inthe road and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyondwhich, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deepand black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close besideit a spattered pumpkin.

The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was not to bediscovered. Hans Van Ripper, as executor of his estate, examined thebundle which contained all his worldly effects. They consisted of twoshirts and a half, two stocks for the neck, a pair or two of worstedstockings, an old pair of corduroy small-clothes, a rusty razor, a book ofpsalm tunes full of dog’s ears, and a broken pitch-pipe. As to the booksand furniture of the school-house, they belonged to the community,excepting Cotton Mather’s History of Witchcraft, a New England Almanac,and a book of dreams and fortune-telling; in which last was a sheet offoolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless attempts to makea copy of verses in honor of the heiress of Van Tassel. These magic booksand the poetic scrawl were forthwith consigned to the flames by Hans VanRipper, who from that time forward determined to send his children no moreto school, observing that he never knew any good come of this same readingand writing. Whatever money the schoolmaster possessed—and he hadreceived his quarter’s pay but a day or two before—he must have hadabout his person at the time of his disappearance.

The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on thefollowing Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were collected in thechurchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and pumpkin hadbeen found. The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a whole budget of otherswere called to mind, and when they had diligently considered them all, andcompared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook theirheads and came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by thegalloping Hessian. As he was a bachelor and in nobody’s debt, nobodytroubled his head any more about him, the school was removed to adifferent quarter of the hollow and another pedagogue reigned in hisstead.

It is true an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit severalyears after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure wasreceived, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was stillalive; that he had left the neighborhood, partly through fear of thegoblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having beensuddenly dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to adistant part of the country, had kept school and studied law at the sametime, had been admitted to the bar, turned politician, electioneered,written for the newspapers, and finally had been made a justice of the TenPound Court. Brom Bones too, who shortly after his rival’s disappearanceconducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed tolook exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, andalways burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which ledsome to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.

The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these matters,maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means;and it is a favorite story often told about the neighborhood round theintervening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object ofsuperstitious awe, and that may be the reason why the road has beenaltered of late years, so as to approach the church by the border of themill-pond. The schoolhouse, being deserted, soon fell to decay, and wasreported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue; and theplough-boy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has oftenfancied his voice at a distance chanting a melancholy psalm tune among thetranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (139)



THE preceding tale is given almost in the precise words in which I heardit related at a Corporation meeting of the ancient city of Manhattoes, atwhich were present many of its sagest and most illustrious burghers. Thenarrator was a pleasant, shabby, gentlemanly old fellow in pepper-and-saltclothes, with a sadly humorous face, and one whom I strongly suspected ofbeing poor, he made such efforts to be entertaining. When his story wasconcluded there was much laughter and approbation, particularly from twoor three deputy aldermen who had been asleep the greater part of the time.There was, however, one tall, dry-looking old gentleman, with beetlingeyebrows, who maintained a grave and rather severe face throughout, nowand then folding his arms, inclining his head, and looking down upon thefloor, as if turning a doubt over in his mind. He was one of your warymen, who never laugh but upon good grounds—when they have reason andthe law on their side. When the mirth of the rest of the company hadsubsided and silence was restored, he leaned one arm on the elbow of hischair, and sticking the other akimbo, demanded, with a slight butexceedingly sage motion of the head and contraction of the brow, what wasthe moral of the story and what it went to prove.

The story-teller, who was just putting a glass of wine to his lips as arefreshment after his toils, paused for a moment, looked at his inquirerwith an air of infinite deference, and, lowering the glass slowly to thetable, observed that the story was intended most logically to prove—

“That there is no situation in life but has its advantages and pleasures—providedwe will but take a joke as we find it;

“That, therefore, he that runs races with goblin troopers is likely tohave rough riding of it.

“Ergo, for a country schoolmaster to be refused the hand of a Dutchheiress is a certain step to high preferment in the state.”

The cautious old gentleman knit his brows tenfold closer after thisexplanation, being sorely puzzled by the ratiocination of the syllogism,while methought the one in pepper-and-salt eyed him with something of atriumphant leer. At length he observed that all this was very well, butstill he thought the story a little on the extravagant—there wereone or two points on which he had his doubts.

“Faith, sir,” replied the story-teller, “as to that matter, I don’tbelieve one-half of it myself.”

D. K.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (140)



Go, little booke, God send thee good passage,And specially let this be thy prayere,Unto them all that thee will read or hear,Where thou art wrong, after their help to call,Thee to correct in any part or all.CHAUCER’S Belle Dame sans Mercie.

IN concluding a second volume of the Sketch Book the Author cannot butexpress his deep sense of the indulgence with which his first has beenreceived, and of the liberal disposition that has been evinced to treathim with kindness as a stranger. Even the critics, whatever may be said ofthem by others, he has found to be a singularly gentle and good-naturedrace; it is true that each has in turn objected to some one or twoarticles, and that these individual exceptions, taken in the aggregate,would amount almost to a total condemnation of his work; but then he hasbeen consoled by observing that what one has particularly censured anotherhas as particularly praised; and thus, the encomiums being set off againstthe objections, he finds his work, upon the whole, commended far beyondits deserts.

* Closing the second volume of the London edition.

He is aware that he runs a risk of forfeiting much of this kind favor bynot following the counsel that has been liberally bestowed upon him; forwhere abundance of valuable advice is given gratis it may seem a man’s ownfault if he should go astray. He only can say in his vindication that hefaithfully determined for a time to govern himself in his second volume bythe opinions passed upon his first; but he was soon brought to a stand bythe contrariety of excellent counsel. One kindly advised him to avoid theludicrous; another to shun the pathetic; a third assured him that he wastolerable at description, but cautioned him to leave narrative alone;while a fourth declared that he had a very pretty knack at turning astory, and was really entertaining when in a pensive mood, but wasgrievously mistaken if he imagined himself to possess a spirit of humor.

Thus perplexed by the advice of his friends, who each in turn closed someparticular path, but left him all the world beside to range in, he foundthat to follow all their counsels would, in fact, be to stand still. Heremained for a time sadly embarrassed, when all at once the thought struckhim to ramble on as he had begun; that his work being miscellaneous andwritten for different humors, it could not be expected that any one wouldbe pleased with the whole; but that if it should contain something to suiteach reader, his end would be completely answered. Few guests sit down toa varied table with an equal appetite for every dish. One has an eleganthorror of a roasted pig; another holds a curry or a devil in utterabomination; a third cannot tolerate the ancient flavor of venison andwild-fowl; and a fourth, of truly masculine stomach, looks with sovereigncontempt on those knick-knacks here and there dished up for the ladies.Thus each article is in condemned in its turn, and yet amidst this varietyof appetites seldom does a dish go away from the table without beingtasted and relished by some one or other of the guests.

With these considerations he ventures to serve up this second volume inthe same heterogeneous way with his first; simply requesting the reader,if he should find here and there something to please him, to rest assuredthat it was written expressly for intelligent readers like himself; butentreating him, should he find anything to dislike, to tolerate it, as oneof those articles which the author has been obliged to write for readersof a less refined taste.

To be serious: The author is conscious of the numerous faults andimperfections of his work, and well aware how little he is disciplined andaccomplished in the arts of authorship. His deficiencies are alsoincreased by a diffidence arising from his peculiar situation. He findshimself writing in a strange land, and appearing before a public which hehas been accustomed from childhood to regard with the highest feelings ofawe and reverence. He is full of solicitude to deserve their approbation,yet finds that very solicitude continually embarrassing his powers anddepriving him of that case and confidence which are necessary tosuccessful exertion. Still, the kindness with which he is treatedencourages him to go on, hoping that in time he may acquire a steadierfooting; and thus he proceeds, half venturing, half shrinking, surprisedat his own good-fortune and wondering at his own temerity.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon,Gent., by Washington Irving*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SKETCH BOOK ******** This file should be named 2048-h.htm or *****This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: by Nelson Nieves and David WidgerUpdated editions will replace the previous one--the old editionswill be renamed.Creating the works from public domain print editions means that noone owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States withoutpermission and without paying copyright royalties. Special rules,set forth in the General Terms of Use part of this license, apply tocopying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works toprotect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. ProjectGutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if youcharge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission. If youdo not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with therules is very easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purposesuch as creation of derivative works, reports, performances andresearch. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may dopractically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. Redistribution issubject to the trademark license, especially commercialredistribution.*** START: FULL LICENSE ***THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSEPLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORKTo protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the freedistribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase “ProjectGutenberg”), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full ProjectGutenberg-tm License available with this file or online 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project Gutenberg-tmelectronic works1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tmelectronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree toand accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by allthe terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroyall copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a ProjectGutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by theterms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person orentity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.1.B. “Project Gutenberg” is a registered trademark. It may only beused on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people whoagree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a fewthings that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic workseven without complying with the full terms of this agreement. Seeparagraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with ProjectGutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreementand help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronicworks. See paragraph 1.E below.1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (“the Foundation” or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of ProjectGutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual works in thecollection are in the public domain in the United States. If anindividual work is in the public domain in the United States and you arelocated in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you fromcopying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivativeworks based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenbergare removed. Of course, we hope that you will support the ProjectGutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works byfreely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms ofthis agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated withthe work. You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement bykeeping this work in the same format with its attached full ProjectGutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also governwhat you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are ina constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, checkthe laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreementbefore downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing orcreating derivative works based on this work or any other ProjectGutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no representations concerningthe copyright status of any work in any country outside the UnitedStates.1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediateaccess to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominentlywhenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which thephrase “Project Gutenberg” appears, or with which the phrase “ProjectGutenberg” is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,copied or distributed:This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derivedfrom the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it isposted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copiedand distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any feesor charges. If you are redistributing or providing access to a workwith the phrase “Project Gutenberg” associated with or appearing on thework, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and theProject Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or1.E.9.1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is postedwith the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distributionmust comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additionalterms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms will be linkedto the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with thepermission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tmLicense terms from this work, or any files containing a part of thiswork or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute thiselectronic work, or any part of this electronic work, withoutprominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 withactive links or immediate access to the full terms of the ProjectGutenberg-tm License.1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including anyword processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access to ordistribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than“Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other format used in the official versionposted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (,you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide acopy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy uponrequest, of the work in its original “Plain Vanilla ASCII” or otherform. Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tmLicense as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm worksunless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providingaccess to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works providedthat- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive fromthe use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the methodyou already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee isowed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but hehas agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to theProject Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty paymentsmust be paid within 60 days following each date on which youprepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic taxreturns. Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such andsent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at theaddress specified in Section 4, “Information about donations tothe Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.”- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifiesyou in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/hedoes not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tmLicense. You must require such a user to return ordestroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical mediumand discontinue all use of and all access to other copies ofProject Gutenberg-tm works.- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of anymoney paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in theelectronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 daysof receipt of the work.- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for freedistribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tmelectronic work or group of works on different terms than are setforth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing fromboth the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and MichaelHart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark. Contact theFoundation as set forth in Section 3 below.1.F.1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerableeffort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofreadpublic domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tmcollection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronicworks, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain“Defects,” such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate orcorrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectualproperty infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, acomputer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read byyour equipment.1.F.2. LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the “Rightof Replacement or Refund” described in paragraph 1.F.3, the ProjectGutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the ProjectGutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a ProjectGutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim allliability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legalfees. YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICTLIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSEPROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH 1.F.3. YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THETRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BELIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE ORINCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCHDAMAGE.1.F.3. LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover adefect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you canreceive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending awritten explanation to the person you received the work from. If youreceived the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium withyour written explanation. The person or entity that provided you withthe defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of arefund. If you received the work electronically, the person or entityproviding it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity toreceive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If the second copyis also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without furtheropportunities to fix the problem.1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forthin paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you ‘AS-IS’, WITH NO OTHERWARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TOWARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain impliedwarranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates thelaw of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall beinterpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted bythe applicable state law. The invalidity or unenforceability of anyprovision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, thetrademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyoneproviding copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordancewith this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you door cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tmwork, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to anyProject Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tmProject Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution ofelectronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computersincluding obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It existsbecause of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations frompeople in all walks of life.Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with theassistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm’sgoals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection willremain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the ProjectGutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secureand permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundationand how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4and the Foundation information page at www.gutenberg.orgSection 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary ArchiveFoundationThe Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of thestate of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the InternalRevenue Service. The Foundation’s EIN or federal tax identificationnumber is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project GutenbergLiterary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extentpermitted by U.S. federal laws and your state’s laws.The Foundation’s principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scatteredthroughout numerous locations. Its business office is located at 809North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Emailcontact links and up to date contact information can be found at theFoundation’s web site and official page at additional contact information:Dr. Gregory B. NewbyChief Executive and Directorgbnewby@pglaf.orgSection 4. Information about Donations to the Project GutenbergLiterary Archive FoundationProject Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without widespread public support and donations to carry out its mission ofincreasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can befreely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widestarray of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exemptstatus with the IRS.The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulatingcharities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the UnitedStates. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes aconsiderable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep upwith these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locationswhere we have not received written confirmation of compliance. ToSEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for anyparticular state visit we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where wehave not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibitionagainst accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states whoapproach us with offers to donate.International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot makeany statements concerning tax treatment of donations received fromoutside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donationmethods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of otherways including checks, online payments and credit card donations.To donate, please visit: 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronicworks.Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tmconcept of a library of electronic works that could be freely sharedwith anyone. For forty years, he produced and distributed ProjectGutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printededitions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not necessarilykeep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:www.gutenberg.orgThis Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg LiteraryArchive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how tosubscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.
The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. by Washington Irving (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated:

Views: 6157

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.