Essentially all the cost of the California government what little there was was paid for by these tariffs. So many mission Indians died from exposure to harsh conditions and diseases like measles, diphtheria, smallpox, syphilis, etc.
This increase in deaths was accompanied by a very low live birth rate among the surviving Indian population. As reported by Krell, as of December 31, , the mission Franciscan padres had performed a combined total of 87, baptisms and 24, marriages, and recorded 63, deaths.
The Missions were becoming ever more strained as the number of Indian converts drastically declined and the deaths greatly exceeded the births. The ratio of Indian births to deaths is believed to have been less than 0. The missions, as originally envisioned, were to last only about ten years before being converted to regular parishes. When the California missions were abolished in some missions had existed over 66 years but the Mission Indians were still not self-sufficient, proficient in Spanish, or wholly Catholic.
Taking people from a hunter-gatherer type existence to an educated, agricultural-based existence was much more difficult than the missionaries had originally thought. The severe and continuing decline in Mission Indian populations exacerbated this problem. In Mexico, in response to demands that the Catholic Church give up much of the Mission property, started the process of secularizing the Franciscan run missions.
Mission San Juan Capistrano was the very first to feel the effects of this legislation the following year when, on August 9, Governor Figueroa issued his "Decree of Confiscation. Before Alta California became a part of the Mexican state, about 30 Spanish land grants had already been deeded in all of Alta California to a few friends and family of the Alta California Governors. The Mexican Colony Law established rules for petitioning for land grants in California; and by , the rules for establishing land grants were codified in the Mexican Reglamento Regulation.
The Acts sought to break the monopoly of the Franciscan missions, while paving the way for additional settlers to California by making land grants easier to obtain. When the missions were secularized, the mission property and cattle were supposed to be mostly allocated to the missions Indians. In practice, nearly all mission property and livestock were taken over by the about large ranchos granted by the governors—mostly to friends and family at low or no cost. The Mexican land grants were provisional until settled and worked on for five years, and often had very indefinite boundaries and sometimes conflicting ownership claims.
The boundaries of each rancho were almost never surveyed, and marked, and often depended on local landmarks that often changed over time.
Since the government depended on import tariffs for its income, there was virtually no property tax—the property tax when introduced with U. The grantee could not subdivide, or rent out, the land without approval. The rancho owners tried to live in a grand manner, and the result was similar to a barony. Much of the agriculture, vineyards, and orchards established by the Missions were allowed to deteriorate as the rapidly declining Mission Indian population required less food, and the Missionaries and soldiers supporting the Missions disappeared.
The new Ranchos and slowly increasing Pueblos mostly only grew enough food to eat and to trade with the occasional trading ship or whaler that put into a California port to trade, get fresh water, replenish their firewood and obtain fresh vegetables. The main products of these ranchos were cattle hides called California greenbacks and tallow rendered fat for making candles and soap that were traded for other finished goods and merchandise.
The cattle and horses that provided the hides and tallow essentially grew wild. By , the province of Alta California had a non-native population of about 1, Spanish and Latin American-born adult men along with about 6, women and their native-born children who became the Californios.
These Spanish-speakers lived mostly in the southern half of the state from San Diego north to Santa Barbara. Nearly all of these were adult males and a majority lived in central and northern California from Monterey north to Sonoma and east to the Sierra Nevada foothills.
A large non-coastal land grant was given to John Sutter who, in , settled a large land grant close to the future city of Sacramento, California , which he called " New Helvetia " New Switzerland. There, he built an extensive fort equipped with much of the armament from Fort Ross —bought from the Russians on credit when they abandoned that fort. Hostilities between the U. Several battles between U. Word of the conflict reached Alta California about a month later.
The main forces available to the United States in California were the bluejacket sailors and U. Marines on board the ships of the Pacific Squadron. Speculating that war with Mexico over Texas and other land was very possible, the U. Navy had sent several additional naval vessels to the Pacific in to protect U.
Initially as the war with Mexico started there were five vessels in the U. In and this was increased to 13 Navy vessels—over half the U. The only other U. They were exiting California on their way to what is now Oregon when they got word in early June that war was imminent and a revolt had already started in Sonoma, California. Hearing rumors of possible Californio military action against the newly arrived settlers in California this had already happened in ,  some settlers decided to neutralize the small Californio garrison at Sonoma, California.
On June 15, , some thirty settlers, mostly American citizens, staged a revolt and seized the small Californio garrison, in Sonoma, without firing a shot and declared the new California Republic government.
On hearing of this revolt, Fremont and his exploratory force returned to California. The "republic" never exercised any real authority and only lasted 26 days before accepting U.
The former fleet surgeon William M. There they heard word of the ongoing hostilities between the U. Commodore Rear Admiral John D. They joined the sloop Cyane which was already there. Initially there was little resistance from anyone in California as they replaced the dysfunctional and ineffective Mexican government which had already been replaced by the Californios. The Mexican government by had already had 40 presidents in the first 24 years of its existence. Most new settlers and Californios were neutral or actively supported the revolt.
Ide the leader of the Bear Flag Revolt. The California state flag of today is based on this original Bear Flag and still contains the words "California Republic. In , the U. Navy was under orders to take over all California ports in the event of war. There were about to U. Seymour, outside Monterey Harbor, Commodore Sloat was finally stirred to action.
Fifty American marines and about bluejacket sailors landed and captured the city without incident—the few Californio troops formerly there having already evacuated the city. They raised the flag of the United States without firing a shot. The only shots fired were a gun salute to the new U. Navy ships in the harbor. Fallon received an American flag from Commodore John D. Sloat and raised it over the pueblo on July This unit, called the California Battalion , was mustered into U.
Marine Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie , a U. Navy officer to handle their two cannons , a company of Indians trained by Sutter and many other permanent California settlers from several different countries as well as American settlers. The California Battalion members were used mainly to garrison and keep order in the rapidly surrendering California towns.
The Navy went down the coast from San Francisco, occupying ports without resistance as they went. The small pueblo town of San Diego surrendered 29 July without a shot being fired.
The small pueblo town of Santa Barbara surrendered without a shot being fired in August On August 13, , a joint force of U. The Californio government officials had already fled Alta California. As a result, the outnumbered United States troops evacuated the city for the following few months. Over the following four months, U. After the Los Angeles resistance started, the American California Battalion was expanded to a force of about men. In early January , a man joint force of U.
Navy bluejacket sailors, General Stephen W. The minor armed resistance in California ceased when the Californios signed the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, About Californios who were worried about possible punishment from the Americans for not keeping their non-aggression promises rounded up about horses and retreated into Sonora, Mexico over the Yuma Crossing Gila River trail.
The Californios, who had wrested control of California from Mexico in , now had a new and much more stable government.
After the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed in early , the Pacific Squadron then went on to capture all Baja California cities and harbors and sink or capture all the Mexican Pacific Navy they could find. California was under U. Army artillery company of men under Captain Christopher Tompkins. More reinforcements of about soldiers and a few women of the Mormon Battalion arrived at San Diego on January 28, —after hostilities had ceased. These troops were recruited with the understanding they would be discharged in California with their weapons.
Most were discharged before July More reinforcements in the form of Colonel Jonathan D. The ship Isabella sailed from Philadelphia on 16 August , with a detachment of one hundred soldiers, and arrived in California on 18 February , the following year, at about the same time that the ship Sweden arrived with another detachment of soldiers. Adding the approximate Hispanics in San Francisco directory and an unknown but small as shown in CA Census recount number of Hispanics in Contra Costa and Santa Clara county in gives less than 8, Hispanics statewide in before hostilities commenced.
The number of California Indians is unknown since they were not included in the census but has been roughly estimated to be between 50, and , After , California was controlled with much difficulty due to desertions by a U. Army-appointed military governor and an inadequate force of a little over troops. By , California had grown to have a non-Indian and non-Californio population of over , due to the California Gold Rush. Congress on the number of slave versus non-slave states, the large, rapid and continuing California population gains and the large amount of gold being exported east gave California enough clout to choose its own boundaries, select its representatives, write its Constitution, and be admitted to the Union as a free state in without going through territorial status as required for most other states.
From to , California had military governors appointed by the senior military commander in California. This arrangement was distinctly unsettling to the military, as they had no inclination, precedent, or training for setting up and running a government. Polk in office from March 4, — March 4, , tried to get the Congress to make California a territory with a territorial government and again in but was unsuccessful in getting Congress to agree on the specifics of how this was to be done—the issue was the number of free states vs.
Riley who had fought in the Siege of Veracruz and Chapultepec during the Mexican—American War and considered an able military commander, was the last military governor of California in In response to popular demand for a better more representative government, General Riley issued an official proclamation dated June 3, , calling for a Constitutional Convention and an election of representatives on August 1, California Census taken a year later.
The new miners in El Dorado County were grossly under-represented as they had no representatives at the convention despite then being the most populated county in California. After the election the California Constitution Convention met in the small town and former Californio capital of Monterey, California , in September to write a state constitution. Constitution —differing mainly in details. The Constitutional Convention met for 43 days debating and writing the first California Constitution.
The Constitution  copied with revisions a lot out of the Ohio and New York Constitutions but had parts that were originally several different state constitutions as well as original material. There were four other significant differences from the U. The convention chose the boundaries for the state—unlike most other territories, whose boundaries were set by Congress Article XII.
Article IX encouraged statewide education and provided for a system of common schools partially funded by the state and provided for the establishment of a University University of California. The California version outlawed slavery, except as punishment Article I Sec. Like all other states they guaranteed the rights of citizens to sue in Civil court to uphold the rights of contracts and property Article I Sec. They created a court system with a supreme court with judges who had to be confirmed every 12 years.
The Constitution guaranteed the right to vote to "Every citizen of California, declared a legal voter by this Constitution, and every citizen of the United States, a resident of this State on the day of election, shall be entitled to vote at the first general election under this Constitution, and on the question of the adoption thereof Article XII Sec.
Soon after the election they set up a provisional state government that set up the counties, elected a governor, senators, and representatives, and operated for ten months setting up a state government before California was given official statehood by Congress on September 9, , as part of the Compromise of There was a celebration that lasted for weeks.
The state capital was variously at San Jose — , Vallejo — , and Benicia — until Sacramento was finally selected in The constitution of was only judged a partial success as a founding document and was superseded by the current constitution, which was first ratified on May 7, They were the first to start flocking to the state in late By the end of , some 6, Argonauts had come to California. Women in the California Gold Rush were few and had many opportunities to do new things and take on new tasks.
Argonauts , as they were often called, walked over the California Trail or came by sea. About 80, Argonauts arrived in alone—about 40, over the California trail and 40, by sea. San Francisco was designated the official port of entry for all California ports where U.
The first Collector of customs was Edward H. Harrison, appointed by General Kearny. Shipping boomed from the average of about 25 vessels from to  to about ships in and ships in Passengers disembarking in San Francisco had one of the easier accesses to the gold country since they could take another ship from there to get to Sacramento and several other towns.
San Francisco shipping boomed, and wharves and piers had to be developed to handle the onslaught of cargo-- Long Wharf was probably the most prominent. To meet the demands of the Gold Rush, ships bearing food, liquors of many types, tools, hardware, clothing, complete houses, lumber, building materials, etc.
These imports included large numbers of Galapagos tortoise and sea turtle imported into Alta California to feed the Gold miners. The Californios initially prospered, as there was a sudden increase in the demand for livestock. These food shipments changed mainly to shipments from Oregon and internal shipments in California as agriculture was developed in both states.
Starting in , many of the ship crews jumped ship and headed for the gold fields when they reached port. Soon San Francisco Bay had many hundreds of abandoned ships anchored offshore. The better ships were recrewed and put back in the shipping and passenger business. Others were bought cheap and hauled up on the mud flats and used as store ships , saloons, temporary stores, floating warehouses, homes, and a number of other uses.
The population of San Francisco exploded from about in to 36, in the California Census. In San Francisco, many people were initially housed in wooden houses, ships hauled up on the mud flats to serve as homes or businesses, wood-framed canvas tents used for saloons, hotels and boarding houses as well as other flammable structures.
All these canvas and wood structures, combined with a lot of drunken gamblers and miners, led almost inevitably to many fires. Most of San Francisco burned down six times in six Great Fires between and Californios who lived in California had finally had enough of the Mexican government and seized control of the territory of Alta California in The state was formerly under the military governor Colonel Richard Barnes Mason who only had about troops to govern California—many of these troops deserted to go to the gold fields.
Miners lived in tents, wood shanties, wagons, or deck cabins removed from abandoned ships. With names like Rough and Ready and Hangtown Placerville, California , each camp often had its own saloon , dance hall, and gambling house. Miners often paid for food, liquor and other goods in "dust.
Some of the first Argonauts , as they were also known, traveled by the all sea route around Cape Horn. Ships could take this route year round and the first ships started leaving East Coast ports as early as November From the East Coast, a sailing voyage around the southern tip of South America would typically take five to eight months—averaging about days by standard sailing ship. When the much faster clipper ships began to be used starting in early , they could complete this journey in an average of only days; but they typically carried few passengers.
They specialized in high value freight. Nearly all freight to California was carried by regular sailing vessels—they were slow but the cheapest way to ship cargo. Starting about many travelers to California took steamboats to Panama or Nicaragua, crossed the Isthmus of Panama or Nicaragua and caught another steamboat to California. This trip could be done in 40—60 days—depending on connections. Those who took the California Trail usually left Missouri River towns in early April and arrived in California — days later—late August or early September.
About half the Argonauts to California came by wagon on one of these routes. Starting in before gold in California was even confirmed, Congress had contracted with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company to set up regular paddle steamer packet ship , mail, passenger and cargo routes in the Pacific Ocean. Once the California Gold Rush was confirmed, other paddle steamers soon followed on both the Pacific and Atlantic routes. Steam powered tugboats started working in the San Francisco Bay soon after this.
Agriculture expanded throughout the state to meet the food needs of the new settlers. Agriculture was soon found to be limited by the difficulty of finding enough water in the right places to grow irrigated crops. Winter wheat planted in the fall and harvested in the spring was one early crop that grew well without irrigation. At the beginning of the Gold Rush, there was no written law regarding property rights in the goldfields, and a system of "staking claims" was developed by the miners.
The Gold Rush also had negative effects: Native Americans were pushed off of traditional lands and massacred  and gold mining caused environmental harm. In the early years of the California Gold Rush, placer mining methods were used, from panning to "cradles" and "rockers" or "long-toms", to diverting the water from an entire river into a sluice alongside the river, and then digging for gold in the gravel down to the rocky river bottom.
This placer gold had been freed by the slow disintegration, over geological time, that freed the gold from its ore. This free gold was typically found in the cracks in the rocks found at the bottom of the gravel found in rivers or creeks, as the gold typically worked down through the gravel or collected in stream bends or bottom cracks.
This gold greatly increased the available money in the United States, which was on the gold standard at that time—the more gold you had, the more you could buy. As the easier gold was recovered, the mining became much more capital and labor-intensive as the hard rock quartz mining, hydraulic mining, and dredging mining evolved. Both during the Gold Rush and in the decades that followed, hard-rock mining wound up being the single-largest source of gold produced in the Gold Country.
By , the U. Navy started making plans for a west coast navy base at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. The greatly increased population, along with the new wealth of gold, caused: The sudden growth in population caused many more towns to be built throughout Northern, and later Southern, California and the few existing towns to be greatly expanded. The first cities started showing up as San Francisco and Sacramento exploded in population.
Most California Indians are thought to have been located near the coast, the same areas the Spanish Missions were established. Since California Indians had no agriculture before it was introduced by the Franciscan padres, they were strictly hunter-gather society tribes which could not support large populations—large populations require agriculture. During the Spanish and Mexican California occupation period nearly all coastal tribes south of San Francisco were induced to join a mission.
So many Mission Indians died from exposure to harsh conditions at the missions and diseases like measles, diphtheria, smallpox, syphilis, etc. As reported by Krell, as of December 31, , the mission Franciscan padres from to had performed a combined total of 87, baptisms and 24, marriages, and recorded 63, deaths. The Indians typically worked at one of the four Spanish pueblos as servants or at the newly established ranchos for room and board or attempted to join other tribes in the interior.
The new ranchos occupied nearly all their original tribal territories. There were a number of massacres, including the Yontoket Massacre , the Bloody Island Massacre at Clear Lake, and the Old Shasta Massacre, in which hundreds of indigenous people were killed. Thousands more are thought to have died due to disease. Combined with a low birth rate for Indian women the Indian population precipitously declined.
Between and , the state of California paid around 1. These "private military forays" were involved in several of the above-mentioned massacres, and sometimes participated in the "wanton killing" of Native peoples. While we cannot anticipate the result with but painful regret, the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power and wisdom of man to avert. Several scholars, including Benjamin Madley and Ed Castillo , have described the actions of the California government as a genocide.
In subsequent decades after , the native population of more than tribes were gradually placed in a series of reservations and rancherias, which were often very small and isolated and lacked adequate natural resources or funding from the government to sustain the populations living on them in the hunter-gathering style they were used to living.
Pacific Squadron , Mexican—American War. Also included are sections on California naval installations, California shipbuilding, California shipwrecks, and California lighthouses. Tribes in northwest California practiced slavery long before the arrival of Europeans. Some returned east with enough gold to purchase their relatives. Nevertheless, as per the Act for the Government and Protection of Indians, a number of Native Americans were formally enslaved in the state, a practice that continued until the mids, when California changed its laws to conform to the 14th Amendment.
The possibility of splitting off Southern California as a territory or a state was rejected by the national government, and the idea was dead by when patriotic fervor swept California after the attack on Fort Sumter. Following the split in the Democratic Party in , Republican supporters of Lincoln took control of the state in , minimizing the influence of the large southern population. Their great success was in obtaining a Pacific railroad land grant and authorization to build the Central Pacific as the western half of the transcontinental railroad.
California was settled primarily by Midwestern and Southern farmers, miners, and businessmen. Though the southerners and some Californios tended to favor the Confederacy, the state did not have slavery, and they were generally powerless during the war itself. They were prevented from organizing and their newspapers were closed down by denying them the use of the mail. Gwin , a Confederate sympathizer, was arrested and fled to Europe.
Nearly all of the men who volunteered as Union soldiers stayed in the West, within the Department of the Pacific , to guard forts and other facilities, occupy secessionist regions, and fight Indians in the state and the western territories.
The California Column then spent most of the remainder of the war fighting hostile Indians in the area. The Californios, with essentially no industries or manufacturing capabilities, were eager to trade for new commodities, glass, hinges, nails, finished goods, luxury goods and other merchandise.
The cattle and horses that provided the hides, tallow and horns essentially grew wild. The first United States, English and Russian trading ships began showing up in California before Essentially all the cost of the California government what little there was was paid for by these tariffs custom duties.
Ships after provided easy, cheap, links among the coastal towns within California and on routes leading there. Nearly all cargo to California came by sailing ship until the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad in This route averaged about days by "standard" sailing ship or about days by Clipper. One of the main problems that occurred during the gold rush was the lack of a paying cargo for ships leaving California.
Food, supplies and passengers were the main cargo coming to California; but there were only a limited return trade of returning passengers, mail and gold. Many of the sailing ships that arrived in San Francisco Bay were abandoned there or converted into warehouses or landfill. The Panama and Nicaragua routes provided a shortcut for getting from the East Coast to California and a brisk maritime passenger trade developed, featuring fast paddle steamers from cities on the east coast, New Orleans, Louisiana and Havana Cuba to the Caribbean mouth of the Chagres River in Panama and the mouth of San Juan River in Nicaragua.
After when the Panama Railroad was completed the Nicaragua route largely shut down. The United States was now a Pacific Ocean power. Starting in the U. In William H. Their venture happened to be well-timed, as the discovery of gold in California in January created a rush of emigrants wanting to cross the Isthmus of Panama and go on to California or return home. Cholera , yellow fever , and malaria took a deadly toll on the Railroad workers, and despite the continual importation of large numbers of new workers, there were times when the work stalled for simple lack of alive and semi-fit workers.
All railroad supplies and nearly all foodstuffs had to be imported from thousands of miles away, greatly adding to the cost of construction. Only a few were going all the way to California. She was loaded with about gold seeking passengers; twice the number of passengers it had been designed for.
In San Francisco all her passengers and crew except the captain and one man deserted the ship and it would take the Captain two more months to gather a much better paid return crew to return to Panama city an establish the route they had been contracted for.
Many more paddle steamers were soon running from the east coast cities to the Chagres River in Panama and the San Juan River in Nicaragua. The trip to the east coast could be executed after about in as short as 40 days if all ship connections could be met with a minimum of waiting.
Steamboats plied the Bay Area and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers that flowed nearer the goldfields, moving passengers and supplies from San Francisco to Sacramento , Marysville and Stockton, California —the three main cities supplying the gold fields. The city of Stockton, on the lower San Joaquin, quickly grew from a sleepy backwater to a thriving trading center, the stopping-off point for miners headed to the gold fields in the foothills of the Sierra. Rough ways such as the Millerton Road which later became the Stockton - Los Angeles Road  quickly extended the length of the valley and were served by mule teams and covered wagons.
During the peak years of the gold rush, the river in the Stockton area was reportedly crowded with hundreds of abandoned oceangoing craft, whose crew had deserted for the gold fields. The multitude of idle ships was such a blockade that at several occasions they were burned just to clear a way for riverboat traffic. Soon a system of wagon roads, bridges, ferries and toll roads were set up many of them maintained by tolls collected from the users.
Large freight wagons pulled by up to 10 mules replaced pack trains, and toll roads built and kept passable by the tolls made it easier to get to the mining camps, enabling express companies to deliver firewood, lumber, food, equipment, clothes, mail, packages, etc. Later when communities developed in Nevada some steamboats were even used to haul cargo up the Colorado River as high as where Lake Mead in Nevada is today. It carried passengers and U. Mail from Memphis, Tennessee and St.
Louis, Missouri to San Francisco, California. The Butterfield Overland Stage Company had more than people in its employ, had relay stations, head of stock and Concord stagecoaches in service at one time. With the prospects of the civil war looming the Butterfield stage contract was terminated and the stage route to California rerouted.
An Act of Congress , approved March 2, , discontinued this route and service ceased June 30, On the same date the central route from St. Highway 50 to California since it was the fastest and only route that was then kept open in winter across the Sierra Nevada U.
Joseph, Missouri , to Placerville, California , went into effect. News paper correspondents reported that they had a preview of "hell" when they took the trip. Once cargo was moved off the ocean and rivers it nearly always transported by horse or ox drawn wagons—still true till about When there was not a wagon trail the cargo was shifted to mule pack trains or carried on the backs of the miners.
Lumber to build new homes, sluice boxes, etc. Fortunately California has a lot of native timber and even as early as there were saw mills set up to turn some of this timber into lumber.
Food was initially imported from any and all west coast ports from Hawaii, Oregon or Mexico where it could be obtained. The lumber and food were transported by ships that had initially carried gold rush passengers and in many cases abandoned in the bay and could usually be bought cheap. The many goods the gold miners needed for a "modest" s lifestyle were nearly always hauled by horse, mule or ox drawn wagons. Wheat and timber were early products from Oregon and the Columbia River area that could be economically imported.
Soon it was found that some types of spring wheat could be planted in the fall in California and the mild winter with its rains would allow good crops to be harvested in the spring without irrigation. California in the s became the foremost wheat producer in the U. Other crops in California were usually found to be much more profitable and California joined the rest of the nation in importing most of its wheat from farms in the midwest.
The Californio rancho society before had few resources except large herds of Longhorn cattle which grew almost wild in California. The Ranchos produced the largest cowhide called California Greenbacks and tallow business in North America by killing and skinning their cattle and cutting off their fat.
The cowhides were staked out to dry and the tallow was put in large cowhide bags. The rest of the animal was left to rot or feed the California grizzly bears then common in California.
The traders who traded for the hides, tallow and sometimes horns hauled them back to the east coast where the hides were used to make a large variety of leather products, most of the tallow was used for making candles and the horns were mostly used for making buttons. A trading trip typically took over two years. Dana mentions that they also took back a large shipment of California longhorn horns. Horns were used to make a large number of items in this time period.
The market for beef dramatically changed with the onset of the Gold Rush , as thousands of miners, businessmen and other fortune seekers flooded into northern California. From about to about the rancheros enjoyed the "golden" days of Hispanic California. The largely illiterate ranchero owners lost nearly all their land to a few bad years for cattle in the s and the many mortgages they had taken out to finance a "prosperous" life style and could no longer pay back.
The Pony Express used much of this same route across Nevada and the Sierras in These combined stage and Pony Express stations along the Central Route across Utah and Nevada were joined by the first transcontinental telegraph stations completed 24 October Sheets and pyjamas crumble and dissolve in their hands, because, though they do not state this in so many words, it seems silly to take the washing round to Mrs.
Peel when out there over the fields over the hills, there is no washing; no pinning of clothes to lines; mangling and ironing no work at all, but boundless rest.
Stainless and boundless rest; space unlimited; untrodden grass; wild birds flying hills whose smooth uprise continue that wild flight. Of all this however only seven foot by four could be seen from Mrs. That was the size of her front door which stood wide open, though there was a fire burning in the grate. The fire looked like a small spot of dusty light feebly trying to escape from the embarrassing pressure of the pouring sunshine.
Grey sat on a hard chair in the corner looking—but at what? She did not change the focus of her eyes when visitors came in. Her eyes had ceased to focus themselves; it may be that they had lost the power.
They were aged eyes, blue, unspectacled. They could see, but without looking. She had never used her eyes on anything minute and difficult; merely upon faces, and dishes and fields. And now at the age of ninety-two they saw nothing but a zigzag of pain wriggling across the door, pain that twisted her legs as it wriggled; jerked her body to and fro like a marionette. Her body was wrapped round the pain as a damp sheet is folded over a wire. The wire was spasmodically jerked by a cruel invisible hand.
She flung out a foot, a hand. She sat still for a moment. In that pause she saw herself in the past at ten, at twenty, at twenty-five.
She was running in and out of a cottage with eleven brothers and sisters. She was thrown forward in her chair. All dead," she mumbled. And my husband gone. But I go on. Every morning I pray God to let me pass. The morning spread seven foot by four green and sunny. Like a fling of grain the birds settled on the land. She was jerked again by another tweak of the tormenting hand. But I prays to God: So when the colour went out of the doorway, she could not see the other page which is then lit up; or hear the voices that have argued, sung, talked for hundreds of years.
The parish doctor now. So we—humanity—insist that the body shall still cling to the wire. We put out the eyes and the ears; but we pinion it there, with a bottle of medicine, a cup of tea, a dying fire, like a rook on a barn door; but a rook that still lives, even with a nail through it.
No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in which it can become supremely desirable to possess one; moments when we are set upon having an object, an excuse for walking half across London between tea and dinner. As the foxhunter hunts in order to preserve the breed of foxes, and the golfer plays in order that open spaces may be preserved from the builders, so when the desire comes upon us to go street rambling the pencil does for a pretext, and getting up we say: The hour should be the evening and the season winter, for in winter the champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets are grateful.
We are not then taunted as in the summer by the longing for shade and solitude and sweet airs from the hayfields. The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves. For there we sit surrounded by objects which perpetually express the oddity of our own temperaments and enforce the memories of our own experience.
That bowl on the mantelpiece, for instance, was bought at Mantua on a windy day. We were leaving the shop when the sinister old woman plucked at our skirts and said she would find herself starving one of these days, but, "Take it! So, guiltily, but suspecting nevertheless how badly we had been fleeced, we carried it back to the little hotel where, in the middle of the night, the innkeeper quarrelled so violently with his wife that we all leant out into the courtyard to look, and saw the vines laced about among the pillars and the stars white in the sky.
The moment was stabilized, stamped like a coin indelibly among a million that slipped by imperceptibly. There, too, was the melancholy Englishman, who rose among the coffee cups and the little iron tables and revealed the secrets of his soul—as travellers do. All this—Italy, the windy morning, the vines laced about the pillars, the Englishman and the secrets of his soul—rise up in a cloud from the china bowl on the mantelpiece.
And there, as our eyes fall to the floor, is that brown stain on the carpet. Lloyd George made that. Cummings, putting the kettle down with which he was about to fill the teapot so that it burnt a brown ring on the carpet.
But when the door shuts on us, all that vanishes. The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughnesses a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.
How beautiful a street is in winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace symmetrical straight avenues of doors and windows; here under the lamps are floating islands of pale light through which pass quickly bright men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them.
But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface. The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks. How beautiful a London street is then, with its islands of light, and its long groves of darkness, and on one side of it perhaps some tree-sprinkled, grass-grown space where night is folding herself to sleep naturally and, as one passes the iron railing, one hears those little cracklings and stirrings of leaf and twig which seem to suppose the silence of fields all round them, an owl hooting, and far away the rattle of a train in the valley.
But this is London, we are reminded; high among the bare trees are hung oblong frames of reddish yellow light—windows; there are points of brilliance burning steadily like low stars—lamps; this empty ground, which holds the country in it and its peace, is only a London square, set about by offices and houses where at this hour fierce lights burn over maps, over documents, over desks where clerks sit turning with wetted forefinger the files of endless correspondences; or more suffusedly the firelight wavers and the lamplight falls upon the privacy of some drawing-room, its easy chairs, its papers, its china, its inlaid table, and the figure of a woman, accurately measuring out the precise number of spoons of tea which——She looks at the door as if she heard a ring downstairs and somebody asking, is she in?
But here we must stop peremptorily. We are in danger of digging deeper than the eye approves; we are impeding our passage down the smooth stream by catching at some branch or root. At any moment, the sleeping army may stir itself and wake in us a thousand violins and trumpets in response; the army of human beings may rouse itself and assert all its oddities and sufferings and sordidities.
For the eye has this strange property: The thing it cannot do one is speaking of the average unprofessional eye is to compose these trophies in such a way as to bring out the more obscure angles and relationships. Hence after a prolonged diet of this simple, sugary fare, of beauty pure and uncomposed, we become conscious of satiety.
We halt at the door of the boot shop and make some little excuse, which has nothing to do with the real reason, for folding up the bright paraphernalia of the streets and withdrawing to some duskier chamber of the being where we may ask, as we raise our left foot obediently upon the stand: She came in escorted by two women who, being of normal size, looked like benevolent giants beside her.
Smiling at the shop girls, they seemed to be disclaiming any lot in her deformity and assuring her of their protection. She wore the peevish yet apologetic expression usual on the faces of the deformed. She needed their kindness, yet she resented it. But when the shop girl had been summoned and the giantesses, smiling indulgently, had asked for shoes for "this lady" and the girl had pushed the little stand in front of her, the dwarf stuck her foot out with an impetuosity which seemed to claim all our attention.
It was arched; it was aristocratic. Her whole manner changed as she looked at it resting on the stand. She looked soothed and satisfied. Her manner became full of self-confidence. She sent for shoe after shoe; she tried on pair after pair.
She got up and pirouetted before a glass which reflected the foot only in yellow shoes, in fawn shoes, in shoes of lizard skin. She raised her little skirts and displayed her little legs. She was thinking that, after all, feet are the most important part of the whole person; women, she said to herself, have been loved for their feet alone. Seeing nothing but her feet, she imagined perhaps that the rest of her body was of a piece with those beautiful feet.
She was shabbily dressed, but she was ready to lavish any money upon her shoes. And as this was the only occasion upon which she was hot afraid of being looked at but positively craved attention, she was ready to use any device to prolong the choosing and fitting. Look at my feet, she seemed to be saying, as she took a step this way and then a step that way. The shop girl good-humouredly must have said something flattering, for suddenly her face lit up in ecstasy.
But, after all, the giantesses, benevolent though they were, had their own affairs to see to; she must make up her mind; she must decide which to choose. At length, the pair was chosen and, as she walked out between her guardians, with the parcel swinging from her finger, the ecstasy faded, knowledge returned, the old peevishness, the old apology came back, and by the time she had reached the street again she had become a dwarf only.
But she had changed the mood; she had called into being an atmosphere which, as we followed her out into the street, seemed actually to create the humped, the twisted, the deformed. Two bearded men, brothers, apparently, stone-blind, supporting themselves by resting a hand on the head of a small boy between them, marched down the street. On they came with the unyielding yet tremulous tread of the blind, which seems to lend to their approach something of the terror and inevitability of the fate that has overtaken them.
As they passed, holding straight on, the little convoy seemed to cleave asunder the passers-by with the momentum of its silence, its directness, its disaster. Indeed, the dwarf had started a hobbling grotesque dance to which everybody in the street now conformed: In what crevices and crannies, one might ask, did they lodge, this maimed company of the halt and the blind?
Here, perhaps, in the top rooms of these narrow old houses between Holborn and Soho, where people have such queer names, and pursue so many curious trades, are gold beaters, accordion pleaters, cover buttons, or support life, with even greater fantasticality, upon a traffic in cups without saucers, china umbrella handles, and highly-coloured pictures of martyred saints.
There they lodge, and it seems as if the lady in the sealskin jacket must find life tolerable, passing the time of day with the accordion pleater, or the man who covers buttons; life which is so fantastic cannot be altogether tragic. They do not grudge us, we are musing, our prosperity; when, suddenly, turning the corner, we come upon a bearded Jew, wild, hunger-bitten, glaring out of his misery; or pass the humped body of an old woman flung abandoned on the step of a public building with a cloak over her like the hasty covering thrown over a dead horse or donkey.
At such sights the nerves of the spine seem to stand erect; a sudden flare is brandished in our eyes; a question is asked which is never answered. Passing, glimpsing, everything seems accidentally but miraculously sprinkled with beauty, as if the tide of trade which deposits its burden so punctually and prosaically upon the shores of Oxford Street had this night cast up nothing but treasure.
With no thought of buying, the eye is sportive and generous; it creates; it adorns; it enhances. That rug will do for the hall. That alabaster bowl shall stand on a carved table in the window. Our merrymaking shall be reflected in that thick round mirror. But, having built and furnished the house, one is happily under no obligation to possess it; one can dismantle it in the twinkling of an eye, and build and furnish another house with other chairs and other glasses.
Or let us indulge ourselves at the antique jewellers, among the trays of rings and the hanging necklaces. Let us choose those pearls, for example, and then imagine how, if we put them on, life would be changed. It becomes instantly between two and three in the morning; the lamps are burning very white in the deserted streets of Mayfair. Only motor-cars are abroad at this hour, and one has a sense of emptiness, of airiness, of secluded gaiety.
Wearing pearls, wearing silk, one steps out on to a balcony which overlooks the gardens of sleeping Mayfair. There are a few lights in the bedrooms of great peers returned from Court, of silk-stockinged footmen, of dowagers who have pressed the hands of statesmen. A cat creeps along the garden wall. Love-making is going on sibilantly, seductively in the darker places of the room behind thick green curtains. Strolling sedately as if he were promenading a terrace beneath which the shires and counties of England lie sun-bathed, the aged Prime Minister recounts to Lady So-and-So with the curls and the emeralds the true history of some great crisis in the affairs of the land.
But what could be more absurd? How, then, are we also on a balcony, wearing pearls in June? What could be more absurd? When she set about her chief masterpiece, the making of man, she should have thought of one thing only. Instead, turning her head, looking over her shoulder, into each one of us she let creep instincts and desires which are utterly at variance with his main being, so that we are streaked, variegated, all of a mixture; the colours have run.
Is the true self this which stands on the pavement in January, or that which bends over the balcony in June? Am I here, or am I there? Or is the true self neither this nor that, neither here nor there, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it take its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves?
Circumstances compel unity; for convenience sake a man must be a whole. The good citizen when he opens his door in the evening must be banker, golfer, husband, father; not a nomad wandering the desert, a mystic staring at the sky, a debauchee in the slums of San Francisco, a soldier heading a revolution, a pariah howling with scepticism and solitude.
When he opens his door, he must run his fingers through his hair and put his umbrella in the stand like the rest.
But here, none too soon, are the second-hand bookshops. Here we find anchorage in these thwarting currents of being; here we balance ourselves after the splendours and miseries of the streets. She is never reading, or only the newspaper; her talk, when it leaves bookselling, which it does so gladly, is about hats; she likes a hat to be practical, she says, as well as pretty.
In summer a jar of flowers grown in her own garden is stood on the top of some dusty pile to enliven the shop. Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.
One may buy him for eighteen pence now. Thus, glancing round the bookshop, we make other such sudden capricious friendships with the unknown and the vanished whose only record is, for example, this little book of poems, so fairly printed, so finely engraved, too, with a portrait of the author.
For he was a poet and drowned untimely, and his verse, mild as it is and formal and sententious, sends forth still a frail fluty sound like that of a piano organ played in some back street resignedly by an old Italian organ-grinder in a corduroy jacket. There are travellers, too, row upon row of them, still testifying, indomitable spinsters that they were, to the discomforts that they endured and the sunsets they admired in Greece when Queen Victoria was a girl.
A tour in Cornwall with a visit to the tin mines was thought worthy of voluminous record. People went slowly up the Rhine and did portraits of each other in Indian ink, sitting reading on deck beside a coil of rope; they measured the pyramids; were lost to civilization for years; converted negroes in pestilential swamps.
This packing up and going off, exploring deserts and catching fevers, settling in India for a lifetime, penetrating even to China and then returning to lead a parochial life at Edmonton, tumbles and tosses upon the dusty floor like an uneasy sea, so restless the English are, with the waves at their very door.
The waters of travel and adventure seem to break upon little islands of serious effort and lifelong industry stood in jagged column upon the floor. In these piles of puce-bound volumes with gilt monograms on the back, thoughtful clergymen expound the gospels; scholars are to be heard with their hammers and their chisels chipping clear the ancient texts of Euripides and Aeschylus.
Thinking, annotating, expounding goes on at a prodigious rate all around us and over everything, like a punctual, everlasting tide, washes the ancient sea of fiction. Innumerable volumes tell how Arthur loved Laura and they were separated and they were unhappy and then they met and they were happy ever after, as was the way when Victoria ruled these islands.
The number of books in the world is infinite, and one is forced to glimpse and nod and move on after a moment of talk, a flash of understanding, as, in the street outside, one catches a word in passing and from a chance phrase fabricates a lifetime. It is about a woman called Kate that they are talking, how "I said to her quite straight last night They are spelling out the latest wire from Newmarket in the stop press news.
Do they think, then, that fortune will ever convert their rags into fur and broadcloth, sling them with watch-chains, and plant diamond pins where there is now a ragged open shirt?
But the main stream of walkers at this hour sweeps too fast to let us ask such questions. They are wrapt, in this short passage from work to home, in some narcotic dream, now that they are free from the desk, and have the fresh air on their cheeks. They put on those bright clothes which they must hang up and lock the key upon all the rest of the day, and are great cricketers, famous actresses, soldiers who have saved their country at the hour of need.
Dreaming, gesticulating, often muttering a few words aloud, they sweep over the Strand and across Waterloo Bridge whence they will be slung in long rattling trains, to some prim little villa in Barnes or Surbiton where the sight of the clock in the hall and the smell of the supper in the basement puncture the dream.
Without investigating the demand, the mind cringes to the accustomed tyrant. One must, one always must, do something or other; it is not allowed one simply to enjoy oneself. Was it not for this reason that, some time ago, we fabricated the excuse, and invented the necessity of buying something?
But what was it? Ah, we remember, it was a pencil. Let us go then and buy this pencil. But just as we are turning to obey the command, another self disputes the right of the tyrant to insist. The usual conflict comes about. Spread out behind the rod of duty we see the whole breadth of the river Thames—wide, mournful, peaceful. And we see it through the eyes of somebody who is leaning over the Embankment on a summer evening, without a care in the world.
Let us put off buying the pencil; let us go in search of this person—and soon it becomes apparent that this person is ourselves. For if we could stand there where we stood six months ago, should we not be again as we were then—calm, aloof, content?
Let us try then. But the river is rougher and greyer than we remembered. The tide is running out to sea. It brings down with it a tug and two barges, whose load of straw is tightly bound down beneath tarpaulin covers. There is, too, close by us, a couple leaning over the balustrade with the curious lack of self-consciousness lovers have, as if the importance of the affair they are engaged on claims without question the indulgence of the human race.
The sights we see and the sounds we hear now have none of the quality of the past; nor have we any share in the serenity of the person who, six months ago, stood precisely were we stand now. His is the happiness of death; ours the insecurity of life.
He has no future; the future is even now invading our peace. It is only when we look at the past and take from it the element of uncertainty that we can enjoy perfect peace. As it is, we must turn, we must cross the Strand again, we must find a shop where, even at this hour, they will be ready to sell us a pencil.
It is always an adventure to enter a new room for the lives and characters of its owners have distilled their atmosphere into it, and directly we enter it we breast some new wave of emotion. Their anger shot through the air. They both stopped; the old woman—they were husband and wife evidently—retired to a back room; the old man whose rounded forehead and globular eyes would have looked well on the frontispiece of some Elizabethan folio, stayed to serve us.
He began opening box after box and shutting them again. He said that it was very difficult to find things when they kept so many different articles. He launched into a story about some legal gentleman who had got into deep waters owing to the conduct of his wife.
He had known him for years; he had been connected with the Temple for half a century, he said, as if he wished his wife in the back room to overhear him. He upset a box of rubber bands. At last, exasperated by his incompetence, he pushed the swing door open and called out roughly: The old lady came in. Looking at nobody, she put her hand with a fine air of righteous severity upon the right box. How then could he do without her? Was she not indispensable to him?
They stood silently looking on. The longer they stood there, the calmer they grew; their heat was going down, their anger disappearing. Now, without a word said on either side, the quarrel was made up. She would get out her sewing; he would read his newspaper; the canary would scatter them impartially with seed. The quarrel was over. In these minutes in which a ghost has been sought for, a quarrel composed, and a pencil bought, the streets had become completely empty.
Life had withdrawn to the top floor, and lamps were lit. The pavement was dry and hard; the road was of hammered silver. Into each of these lives one could penetrate a little way, far enough to give oneself the illusion that one is not tethered to a single mind, but can put on briefly for a few minutes the bodies and minds of others.
One could become a washerwoman, a publican, a street singer. And what greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality and deviate into those footpaths that lead beneath brambles and thick tree trunks into the heart of the forest where live those wild beasts, our fellow men?
Still as we approach our own doorstep again, it is comforting to feel the old possessions, the old prejudices, fold us round; and the self, which has been blown about at so many street corners, which has battered like a moth at the flame of so many inaccessible lanterns, sheltered and enclosed.
Here again is the usual door; here the chair turned as we left it and the china bowl and the brown ring on the carpet. And here—let us examine it tenderly, let us touch it with reverence—is the only spoil we have retrieved from all the treasures of the city, a lead pencil. Whether Jones should come before Wilkinson or Wilkinson before Jones is not a matter likely to agitate many breasts at the present moment, seeing that more than a hundred and fifty years have rolled over the gentlemen in question and diminished a lustre which, even in their own time, round about the year , was not very bright.
Wilkinson might indeed claim precedence by virtue of his office. But Captain Jones had to seclude himself beyond the reach of the law at Mortlake. What, however, renders these comparisons peculiarly odious is the fact that the Captain and the Doctor were boon companions whose tastes were congenial, whose incomes were insufficient, whose wives drank tea together, and whose houses in the Savoy were not two hundred yards apart. Wilkinson, for all his sacred offices he was Rector of Coyty in Glamorgan, stipendiary curate of Wise in Kent, and, through Lord Galway, had the right to "open plaister-pits in the honour of Pontefract" , was a convivial spirit who cut a splendid figure in the pulpit, preached and read prayers in a voice that was clear, strong and sonorous so that many a lady of fashion never "missed her pew near the pulpit," and persons of title remembered him many years after misfortune had removed the handsome preacher from their sight.
He was vivacious, witty, and generous, well made and elegant in person and, if he was not quite as handsome as the doctor, he was perhaps rather his superior in intellect.
Compare them as we may, however, there can be little doubt that the gifts and tastes of both gentlemen were better adapted for pleasure than for labour, for society than for solitude, for the hazards and pleasures of the table rather than for the rigours of religion and war. It was the gaming-table that seduced Captain Jones, and here, alas, his gifts and graces stood him in little stead.
His affairs became more and more hopelessly embarrassed, so that shortly, instead of being able to take his walks at large, he was forced to limit them to the precincts of St. To so gregarious a spirit the confinement was irksome. His only resource, indeed, was to get into talk with any such "parksaunterers" as misfortunes like his own had driven to perambulate the Park, or, when the weather allowed, to bask and loiter and gossip on its benches.
As chance would have it and the Captain was a devotee of that goddess he found himself one day resting on the same bench with an elderly gentleman of military aspect and stern demeanour, whose ill-temper the wit and humour which all allowed to Captain Jones presumably beguiled, so that whenever the Captain appeared in the Park, the old man sought his company, and they passed the time until dinner very pleasantly in talk.
On no occasion, however, did the General—for it appeared that the name of this morose old man was General Skelton—ask Captain Jones to his house; the acquaintance went no further than the bench in St.
At whatever risk to himself, Captain Jones would steal back to revisit his wife and to hear his little girl recite the part of Juliet which, under his teaching, she had perfectly by heart. On one such secret journey he was hurrying to get within the royal sanctuary of St.
His fears obsessing him, he hurried the faster, his pursuer close at his heels. Realizing that escape was impossible, Jones wheeled about and facing his pursuer, whom he recognized as the Attorney Brown, demanded what his enemy wanted of him. Far from being his enemy, said Brown, he was the best friend he had ever had, which he would prove if Jones would accompany him to the first tavern that came to hand.
There, in a private room over a fire, Mr. Brown disclosed the following astonishing story. Who can this paragon of friendship be? General Skelton, the man whom he had only met to chat with on a bench in St. Jones asked in wonderment. Yes, it was the General, Brown assured him.
Not so fast, Brown replied; General Skelton will never speak to you again. General Skelton died last night. The General had left Captain Jones sole heir to all his possessions on no other condition than that he should assume the name of Skelton instead of Jones. Gazing about her, half in dream, half in earnest, Mrs.
Jones Was so overcome with the tumult of her emotions that she could not stay to gather in the extent of her possessions, but ran to Little Bedford Street, where Mrs.
Wilkinson was then living, to impart her joy. Meanwhile, the news that General Skelton lay dead in Henrietta Street without a son to succeed him spread abroad, and those who thought themselves his heirs arrived in the house of death to take stock of their inheritance, among them one great and beautiful lady whose avarice was her undoing, whose misfortunes were equal to her sins, Kitty Chudleigh, Countess of Bristol, Duchess of Kingston. Later, when the will was read and the truth made public that not only the house in Henrietta Street, but Pap Castle in Cumberland and the lands and lead mines pertaining to it, were left without exception to an unknown Captain Jones, she burst out in "terms exceeding all bounds of delicacy.
What remains to be told of the fortunes of Captain Jones can be briefly despatched. Having new furnished the house in Henrietta Street, the Jones family set out when summer came to visit their estates in Cumberland. The country was so fair, the Castle so stately, the thought that now all belonged to them so gratifying that their progress for three weeks was one of unmixed pleasure and the spot where they were now to live seemed a paradise.
But there was an eagerness, an impetuosity about James Jones which made him impatient to suffer even the smiles of fortune passively. He must be active —he must be up and doing. He must be "let down," for all his friends could do to dissuade him, to view a lead mine. The consequences as they foretold were disastrous. He was drawn up, indeed, but already infected with a deadly sickness of which in a few days he died, in the arms of his wife, in the midst of that paradise which he had toiled so long to reach and now was to die without enjoying.
Meanwhile the Wilkinsons—but that name, alas, was no longer applicable to them, nor did the Dr. Wilkinson, it has been said, resembled his friend Jones in the conviviality of his habits and his inability to keep within the limits of his income. But by what means could he pay off the debts of his middle age? He was now past fifty, and what with good company and good living, was seldom free from duns, and always pressed for money.
Suddenly, from an unexpected quarter, help appeared. This was none other than the Marriage Act, passed in , which laid it down that if any person solemnized a marriage without publishing the banns, unless a marriage licence had already been obtained, he should be subject to transportation for fourteen years.
The duns were paid; the table sumptuously spread. Wilkinson shared another failing with his friend Jones; he would not take advice. His friends warned him; the Government plainly hinted that if he persisted they would be forced to act. Secure in what he imagined to be his right, enjoying the prosperity it brought him to the full, the Doctor paid no heed.
On Easter Day he was engaged in marrying from eight in the morning till twelve at night. The Doctor escaped by a secret walk over the leads of the Savoy, made his way to the river bank, where he slipped upon some logs and fell, heavy and elderly as he was, in the mud; but nevertheless got to Somerset stairs, took a boat, and reached the Kentish shore in safety.
Even now he brazened it out that the law was on his side, and came back four weeks later prepared to stand his trial. Once more, for the last time, company overflowed the house in the Savoy; lawyers abounded, and, as they ate and drank, assured Dr. Wilkinson that his case was already won. In July the trial began. But what conclusion could there be? The crime had been committed and persisted in openly in spite of warning. It remained for his friends to fit him out, like the gentleman he was, for his voyage to America.
There, they argued, his gifts of speech and person would make him welcome, and later his wife and son could join him. To them he bade farewell in the dismal precincts of Newgate in March But contrary winds beat the ship back to shore; the gout seized on a body enfeebled by pleasure and adversity; at Plymouth Dr.
Wilkinson was transported finally and for ever. The lead mine undid Jones; the Marriage Act was the downfall of Wilkinson. Both now sleep in peace, Jones in Cumberland, Wilkinson, far from his friend and if their failings were great, great too were their gifts and graces on the shores of the melancholy Atlantic. Shakespeareans are divided, it is well known, into three classes; those who prefer to read Shakespeare in the book; those who prefer to see him acted on the stage; and those who run perpetually from book to stage gathering plunder.
Certainly there is a good deal to be said for reading Twelfth Night in the book if the book can be read in a garden, with no sound but the thud of an apple falling to the earth, or of the wind ruffling the branches of the trees. For one thing there is time—time not only to hear "the sweet sound that breathes upon a bank of violets" but to unfold the implications of that very subtle speech as the Duke winds into the nature of love. There is time, too, to make a note in the margin; time to wonder at queer jingles like "that live in her; when liver, brain, and heart" My brother he is in Elysium.
From the echo of one word is born another word, for which reason, perhaps, the play seems as we read it to tremble perpetually on the brink of music. They are always calling for songs in Twelfth Night, "0 fellow come, the song we had last night.
Words on their lips are things that have meaning; that rush and leap out with a whole character packed in a little phrase. When Sir Andrew says "I was adored once," we feel that we hold him in the hollow of our hands; a novelist would have taken three volumes to bring us to that pitch of intimacy.
Why exchange this garden for the theatre? The answer is that Shakespeare wrote for the stage and presumably with reason. Since they are acting Twelfth Night at the Old Vic, let us compare the two versions. Many apples might fall without being heard in the Waterloo Road, and as for the shadows, the electric light has consumed them all. The first impression upon entering the Old Vic is overwhelmingly positive and definite.
We seem to have issued out from the shadows of the garden upon the bridge of the Parthenon. The metaphor is mixed, but then so is the scenery. The columns of the bridge somehow suggest an Atlantic liner and the austere splendours of a classical temple in combination.
But the body is almost as upsetting as the scenery. The actual persons of Malvolio, Sir Toby, Olivia and the rest expand our visionary characters out of all recognition. At first we are inclined to resent it. You are not Malvolio; or Sir Toby either, we want to tell them; but merely impostors. We sit gaping at the ruins of the play, at the travesty of the play. And then by degrees this same body or rather all these bodies together, take our play and remodel it between them.
The play gains immensely in robustness, in solidity. The printed word is changed out of all recognition when it is heard by other people.
We watch it strike upon this man or woman; we see them laugh or shrug their shoulders, or tum aside to hide their faces. The word is given a body as well as a soul.
Then again as the actors pause, or topple over a barrel, or stretch their hands out, the flatness of the print is broken up as by crevasses or precipices; all the proportions are changed. Perhaps the most impressive effect in the play is achieved by the long pause which Sebastian and Viola make as they stand looking at each other in a silent ecstasy of recognition.
Here we are made to pause and think about it; and are reminded that Shakespeare wrote for the body and for the mind simultaneously. But now that the actors have done their proper work of solidifying and intensifying our impressions, we begin to criticize them more minutely and to compare their version with our own. And to tell the truth, wherever the fault may lie, they have very little in common.
If Sir Toby and Maria fool him he sees through it, we may be sure, and only suffers it as a fine gentleman puts up with the games of foolish children.
Our Malvolio, on the other hand, was a fantastic complex creature, twitching with vanity, tortured by ambition. There was cruelty in his teasing, and a hint of tragedy in his defeat; his final threat had a momentary terror in it. Then there is Olivia. Madame Lopokova has by nature that rare quality which is neither to be had for the asking nor to be subdued by the will—the genius of personality.
She has only to float on to the stage and everything round her suffers, not a sea change, but a change into light, into gaiety; the birds sing, the sheep are garlanded, the air rings with melody and human beings dance towards each other on the tips of their toes possessed of an exquisite friendliness, sympathy and delight.
But our Olivia was a stately lady; of sombre complexion, slow moving, and of few sympathies. She could not love the Duke nor change her feeling. Madame Lopokova loves everybody. She is always changing. Her hands, her face, her feet, the whole of her body, are always quivering in sympathy with the moment. She could make the moment, as she proved when she walked down the stairs with Sebastian, one of intense and moving beauty; but she was not our Olivia.
Coarse, humorous, robust, they trolled out their words, they rolled over their barrels; they acted magnificently. And Miss jeans as Viola was satisfactory; and Mr. Hare as Antonio was admirable; and Mr.
What, then, was lacking in the play as a whole? Perhaps that it was not a whole. The fault may lie partly with Shakespeare. It is easier to act his comedy than his poetry, one may suppose, for when he wrote as a poet he was apt to write too quick for the human tongue. The prodigality of his metaphors can be flashed over by the eye, but the speaking voice falters in the middle. Hence the comedy was out of proportion to the rest. Then, perhaps, the actors were too highly charged with individuality or too incongruously cast.
They broke the play up into separate pieces—now we were in the groves of Arcady, now in some inn at Blackfriars.
Here that continuity was sacrificed. We left the theatre possessed of many brilliant fragments but without the sense of all things conspiring and combining together which may be the satisfying culmination of a less brilliant performance.
Nevertheless, the play has served its purpose. It has made us compare our Malvolio with Mr. We must read Twelfth Night again. Guthrie has made that necessary and whetted our appetite for The Cherry Orchard, Measure for Measure, and Henry the Eighth that are still to come. This great lady, this robust and fertile letter writer, who in our age would probably have been one of the great novelists, takes up presumably as much space in the consciousness of living readers as any figure of her vanished age.
But it is more difficult to fix that figure within an outline than so to sum up many of her contemporaries. That is partly because she created her being, not in plays or poems, but in letters—touch by touch, with repetitions, amassing daily trifles, writing down what came into her head as if she were talking. Thus the fourteen volumes of her letters enclose a vast open space, like one of her own great woods; the rides are crisscrossed with the intricate shadows of branches, figures roam down the glades, pass from sun to shadow, are lost to sight, appear again, but never sit down in fixed attitudes to compose a group.
Thus we live in her presence, and often fall, as with living people, into unconsciousness. She goes on talking, we half listen. And then something she says rouses us. We add it to her character, so that the character grows and changes, and she seems like a living person, inexhaustible. This of course is one of the qualities that all letter writers possess, and she, because of her unconscious naturalness, her flow and abundance, possesses it far more than the brilliant Walpole, for example, or the reserved and self-conscious Gray.
Perhaps in the long run we know her more instinctively, more profoundly, than we know them. We sink deeper down into her, and know by instinct rather than by reason how she will feel; this she will be amused by; that will take her fancy; now she will plunge into melancholy. Her range too is larger than theirs; there is more scope and more diversity.
Everything seems to yield its juice—its fun, its enjoyment; or to feed her meditations. She has a robust appetite; nothing shocks her; she gets nourishment from whatever is set before her. She is an intellectual, quick to enjoy the wit of La Rochefoucauld, to relish the fine discrimination of Madame de La Fayette. She has a natural dwelling place in books, so that Josephus or Pascal or the absurd long romances of the time are not read by her so much as embedded in her mind.
Their verses, their stories rise to her lips along with her own thoughts. But there is a sensibility in her which intensifies this great appetite for many things. It is of course shown at its most extreme, its most irrational, in her love for her daughter. She loves her as an elderly man loves a young mistress who tortures him.
It was a passion that was twisted and morbid; it caused her many humiliations; sometimes it made her ashamed of herself. She feared that her mother was making her ridiculous in the eyes of her friends. Also she felt that she was not like that.
She was different; colder, more fastidious, less robust. Her mother was ignoring the real daughter in this flood of adoration for a daughter who did not exist. She was forced to curb her; to assert her own identity. The daughter does not love her. That is a thought so bitter, and a fear so perpetual and so profound, that life loses its savour; she has recourse to sages, to poets to console her; and reflects with sadness upon the vanity of life; and how death will come.
Then, too, she is agitated beyond what is right or reasonable, because a letter has not reached her. Then she knows that she has been absurd; and realizes that she is boring her friends with this obsession. What is worse, she has bored her daughter. And then when the bitter drop has fallen, up bubbles quicker and quicker the ebullition of that robust vitality, of that irrepressible quick enjoyment, that natural relish for life, as if she instinctively repaired her failure by fluttering all her feathers; by making every facet glitter.
She is happiest alone in the country. She loves rambling alone in her woods. She loves going out by herself at night. She loves hiding from callers. She loves walking among her trees and musing. She loves the gipsy girl who dances, as her own daughter used to dance, but not of course so exquisitely. It is natural to use the present tense, because we live in her presence. We are very little conscious of a disturbing medium between us—that she is living, after all, by means of written words.
But now and then with the sound of her voice in our ears and its rhythm rising and falling within us, we become aware, with some sudden phrase, about spring, about a country neighbour, something struck off in a flash, that we are, of course, being addressed by one of the great mistresses of the art of speech. Then we listen for a time, consciously. How, we wonder, does she contrive to make us follow every word of the story of the cook who killed himself because the fish failed to come in time for the royal dinner party; or the scene of the haymaking; or the anecdote of the servant whom she dismissed in a sudden rage; how does she achieve this order, this perfection of composition?
Did she practise her art? Did she tear up and correct? There is no record of any painstaking or effort. She says again and again that she writes her letters as she speaks. She begins one as she sends off another; there is the page on her desk and she fills it, in the intervals of all her other avocations.
People are interrupting; servants are coming for orders. She entertains; she is at the beck and call of her friends. Marie de Rabutin it seems was born into a group where the elements were so richly and happily mixed that it drew out her virtue instead of opposing it. She was helped, not thwarted. Nothing baffled or contracted or withered her. What opposition she encountered was only enough to confirm her judgment.
For she was highly conscious of folly, of vice, of pretention. She was a born critic, and a critic whose judgments were inborn, unhesitating. She is always referring her impressions to a standard—hence the incisiveness, the depth and the comedy that make those spontaneous statements so illuminating. There is nothing naive about her.
She is by no means a simple spectator. Maxims fall from her pen. She sums up; she judges. But it is done effortlessly. She has inherited the standard and accepts it without effort. She is heir to a tradition, which stands guardian and gives proportion. The gaiety, the colour, the chatter, the many movements of the figures in the foreground have a background. At Les Rochers there is always Paris and the court; at Paris there is Les Rochers, with its solitude, its trees, its peasants. And behind them all again there is virtue, faith, death itself.
But this background, while it gives its scale to the moment, is so well established that she is secure. She is free, thus anchored, to explore; to enjoy; to plunge this way and that; to enter wholeheartedly into the myriad humours, pleasures, oddities, and savours of her well nourished, prosperous, delightful present moment. So she passes with free and stately step from Paris to Brittany from Brittany in her coach and six all across France. She stays with friends on the road; she is attended by a cheerful company of familiars.
Wherever she alights she attracts at once the love of some boy or girl; or the exacting admiration of a man of the world like her disagreeable cousin Bussy Rabutin, who cannot rest under her disapproval, but must be assured of her good opinion in spite of all his treachery. The famous and the brilliant also wish to have her company, for she is part of their world; and can take her share in their sophisticated conversations. There is something wise and large and sane about her which draws the confidences of her own son.
Feckless and impulsive, the prey of his own weak and charming nature as he is, Charles nurses her with the utmost patience through her rheumatic fever. She laughs at his foibles; knows his failings. She is tolerant and outspoken; nothing need be hidden from her; she knows all that there is to be known of man and his passions. So she takes her way through the world, and sends her letters, radiant and glowing with all this various traffic from one end of France to the other, twice weekly.
As the fourteen volumes so spaciously unfold their story of twenty years it seems that this world is large enough to enclose everything. Here is the garden that Europe has been digging for many centuries; into which so many generations have poured their blood; here it is at last fertilized, bearing flowers.
And the flowers are not those rare and solitary blossoms—great men, with their poems, and their conquests. The flowers in this garden are a whole society of full grown men and women from whom want and struggle have been removed; growing together in harmony, each contributing something that the other lacks. The month of May, , at Les Rochers in Brittany, thus echoes with different voices. The voices mingle; they are all talking together in the garden in But what was happening outside? Ketton-Cremer may serve at least to inspire some random thoughts about Walpole and the humane art which owes its origin to the love of friends.
He had meant to write the history of his own times. After twenty years he gave it up, and decided to write another kind of history—a history ostensibly inspired by friends but in fact written for posterity. They were pegs, not friends, each chosen because he was "particularly connected The letter writer is no surreptitious historian.
He is a man of short range sensibility; he speaks not to the public at large but to the individual in private. All good letter writers feel the drag of the face on the other side of the age and obey it—they take as much as they give.
And Horace Walpole was no exception. There is the correspondence with Cole to prove it. We can see, in Mr. If Cole had been nothing but a peg there would have been none of this echo, none of this mingling of voices. It is true that Walpole had an attitude and a style, and that his letters have a fine hard glaze upon them that preserves them, like the teeth of which he was so proud, from the little dents and rubs of familiarity.
And of course—did he not insist that his letters must be kept? But that he allowed the featureless face of posterity to stand between him and the very voice and dress of his friends, how they looked and how they thought, the letters themselves with their perpetual variety deny. Open them at random.
He is writing about politics—about Wilkes and Chatham and the signs of coming revolution in France; but also about a snuffbox; and a red riband; and about two very small black dogs. Voices upon the stairs interrupt him; more sightseers have come to see Caligula with his silver eyes; a spark from the fire has burnt the page he was writing; he cannot keep the pompous, style any longer, nor mend a careless phrase, and so, flexible as an eel, he winds from high politics to living faces and the past and its memories——"I tell you we should get together, and comfort ourselves with the brave days that we have known I wished for you; the same scenes strike us both, and the same kind of visions has amused us both ever since we were born.
Nor again was he thinking of the great public, which, in a very few years, would have paid him handsomely for the brilliant pages that he lavished upon his friends. Was it, then, the growth of writing as a paid profession, and the change which that change of focus brought with it that led, in the nineteenth century, to the decline of this humane art? Friendship flourished, nor was there any lack of gift. Who could have described a party more brilliantly than Macaulay or a landscape more exquisitely than Tennyson?
But there, looking them full in the face was the present moment—the great gluttonous public; and how can a writer turn at will from that impersonal stare to the little circle in the fire-lit room?
Macaulay, writing to his sister, can no more drop his public manner than an actress can scrub her cheeks clean of paint and take her place naturally at the tea table. And Tennyson with his fear of publicity—"While I live the owls, when I die the ghouls"—left nothing more succulent for the ghoul to feed upon than a handful of dry little notes that anybody could read, or print or put under glass in a museum.
News and gossip, the sticks and straws out of which the old letter writer made his nest, have been snatched away. The wireless and the telephone have intervened.
The letter writer has nothing now to build with except what is most private; and how monotonous after a page or two the intensity of the very private becomes! We long that Keats even should cease to talk about Fanny, and that Elizabeth and Robert Browning should slam the door of the sick room and take a breath of fresh air in an omnibus.
Instead of letters posterity will have confessions, diaries, notebooks, like M. Horace Walpole suffered none of these drawbacks. If he was the greatest of English letter writers it was not only thanks to his gifts but to his immense good fortune. But besides those places, there was the other—his place in the very centre of the audience, facing the stage.
There he could sit and see without being seen; contemplate without being called upon to act. Besides the wit and the anecdote and the brilliant descriptions of masquerades and midnight revelries his friends drew from him something superficial yet profound, something changing yet entire—himself shall we call it in default of one word for that which friends elicit but the great public kills?
From that sprang his immortality. For a self that goes on changing is a self that goes on living. As an historian he would have stagnated among historians.
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