Page images


best known as "The Learned Blacksmith," born in New Britain, Connecticut, 1811, and apprenticed to a blacksmith about 1827, varied the labours of the forge by learning languages; in 1846 went to England, where he formed "The League of Universal Brotherhood," whose object was to employ all legitimate means for the abolition of war throughout the world," and was proprietor and editor of The Peace Advocate; laboured zealously for the promotion of temperance, cheap ocean-postage, the abolition of American slavery, and in peace congresses, returning to America, after serving for some years as United States Consul at Birmingham, in 1853; died 1879.

Mr. Burritt studied, with more or less thoroughness, the following languages, inter alia: Amharic, Arabic, Basque, Bohemian, Breton-Celto, Chaldaic, Cornish, Danish, Dutch, Ethiopic, Flemish, French, Gaelic, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindustani, Hungarian, Icelandie, Irish, Latin, Manx, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Samaritan, Sanskrit, Spanish, Swedish, Syriac, Turkish, Welsh.

Periodicals and books published by Elihu Burritt:

The Literary Geminæ, monthly, English and French, Worcester, Mass., 1841; The Christian Citizen, weekly, Worcester, Mass., 1841-51; Bond of Brotherhood, monthly, England, 1846-68; Sparks from the Anvil, England, 1847, new edit., Lond., 1864, 12mo: Voice from the Forge, 1848; Miscellaneous Works, Lond., 1848, 16mo; Citizen of the World, Phila., 1850; Year Book of Nations, England, 1851 et seq.; North and South, weekly, New Britain, Conn., 1855; Thoughts and Things at Home and Abroad, Bost., 1854; Compensated Emancipation, 1856, pamphlet; Walk from London to John O'Groat's, Lond., 1864, 8vo, 1864, 12mo; Walk from London to Land's End and Back, 1865; Walks in the Black Country and its Green Border-land, 1866; Old Burchell's Pocket for the Children, 1866; Lectures and Speeches, 1866; The Mission of Great Sufferings, 1867; Jacob and Joseph, 1867; Information for English Emigrants to America. 1868; Fireside Words, monthly, England, 1868; Prayers and Devotional Meditations from the Psalms, New York, 1869, 12mo; Voice from the Back Pews to the Pulpit and Front Seats, 1872 (anon.); Children of the Bible, 1873; Ten Minute Talks with Autobiography, Bost., 1873, 12mo; Bible Subject Readings, 1873 (in MS.); Introduction to An English Woman's Work among Workingmen, by Ellice Hopkins, Phila., Amer. S. School Union, 1874, 12mo; |

Sanskrit Hand-Book for the Fireside, Hart-
ford, 1874; Hindustani Hand-Book, 1875
(in MS.); Persian Hand-Book, 1876 (in
MS.); Turkish Hand-Book, 1876 (in MS.);
Arabic Hand-Book, 1877 (in MS.); Hebrew
Hand-Book, 1877 (in MS.); History of the
Farmington Family of Towns, 1877 (in
MS.); Chips from Many Blocks, Toronto,
1878. Also The Proposition of a Universal
Ocean Penny Postage, n. d., 8vo, pp. 4,
Papers for the People, contributions to
American Eclectic Review, etc.
Such phi-
lanthropists are worthy of all honour.


The scene opens with a view of the great Natural Bridge in Virginia. There are three or four lads standing in the channel below, looking up with awe to that vast arch of unhewn rocks, which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting butments, "when the morning stars sang together.” The little piece of sky spanning those measureless piers is full of stars, although it is mid-day. It is almost five hundred feet from where they stand, up those perpendicular bulwarks of limestone to the key of that vast arch, which appears to them only the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel. The sun is darkened, and the boys have uncovered their heads, as if standing in the presence chamber of the Majesty of the whole earth. At last this feeling begins to wear away; they look around them, and find that others have been there before them. They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone butments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their knives are in their hands in an instant. "What man has done, man can do," is their watchword, while they draw themselves up, and carve their names a foot above those of a hundred full-grown men who have been there before them.

They are all satisfied with this feat of physical exertion, except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth that "there is no royal road to learning." This ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach,-a name which will be green in the memory of the world when those of Alexander, Cæsar, and Bonaparte shall rot in oblivion. It was the name of Washington. Before he marched with Braddock to that fatal field he had been there and left his name a foot above any of his predecessors. It was a glorious thought to write his name side by side with that great father of his country. He grasps his knife with a firmer hand, and clinging to a little jutting

crag he cuts again into the limestone, about a foot above where he stands; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands. 'Tis a dangerous adventure; but as he puts his feet and hands into those gains, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself a foot above every name chronicled in that mighty wall. While his companions are regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in wide capitals, large and deep, in that flinty album. His knife is still in his hand, and strength in his sinews, and a new created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he carves his name in large capitals. This is not enough: heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The gradations of his ascending scale grow wider apart. He measures his length at every gain he cuts. The voices of his friends wax weaker and weaker, till their words are finally lost on his ear. He now for the first time casts a look beneath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings with a convulsive shudder to his little niche in the rock. An awful abyss awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint with severe exertion, and trembling from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is exposed. His knife is worn half-way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words of his terror-stricken companions below! What a moment! what a meagre chance to escape destruction! There is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to put his hands into the same niche with his feet, and retain his slender hold a moment. His companions instantly perceive this new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that "freeze their young blood." He is too high to ask for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, to come and witness or avert his destruction. But one of his companions anticipates his desire. Swift as the wind he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon his father's hearthstone.

Minutes of almost eternal length roll on, and there are hundreds standing in that rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and awaiting the fearful catastrophe. The poor boy hears the hum of new and numerous voices both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting with all the energy of despair," William! William! Don't look down! Your mother, and Henry, and Harriet, are all here praying for you! Don't look down! Keep your eyes towards the top!" The boy didn't look down. His eye is fixed like a

[ocr errors]

flint towards heaven, and his young heart on him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below! How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain! How he economizes his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts! How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the very spot where, if he falls, he will not fall alone.

The sun is half-way down in the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rock, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to get from this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is in his bosom; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shout of hundreds perched upon cliffs, trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands upon the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty more gains must be cut before the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully foot by foot from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more, and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half inch. The boy's head reels; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart, his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last flint gash he makes, his knife-his faithful knife-falls from his little nerveless hand and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At the height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his devoted heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment-there! one foot swings off!-he is reeling, trembling--toppling over into eternity!-Hark!-a shout falls on his ears from above! The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought, the noosed rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint convulsive effort the swooning boy drops his arm into the noose. Darkness comes over him, and with the words "God!" and "mother!" whispered on his lips just loud enough to be heard in heaven,-the tightening rope lifts him out of his last shal

low niche. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful abyss; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him up in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitudesuch shouting! and such leaping and weeping for joy, never greeted a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.

Sparks from the Anvil.



an eminent English novelist and essayist, was born at Calcutta in 1811; came in hood to England, and was educated at the Charter-House School and at the University of Cambridge; studied law at the Middle Temple (called to the bar 1848), and art at Rome and other schools on the Continent; found dead in his bed December 24, 1863.

"In his subtle, spiritual analysis of men and women, as we see them and live with them; in his power of detecting the enduring passions and desires, the strengths, the weaknesses, and the deceits of the race, from under the mask of ordinary worldly and town life,-making a dandy ur a dancing girl as real, as moving, delicate, and full of life, as the most heroic incarnations of good and evil; in his vitality and yet lightness of handling, doing it once and forever, and never a touch too little or too much,-in these respects he stood and stands alone and matchless."-DR. JOHN BROWN, author of "Rab and his Friends," etc.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Thackeray takes the satirical, the merely worldly, view of life and society; he can take no other. His characters are compounded of many vices and few if any virtues; or, if the virtues

predominate, the result is a fool. He has never boy-drawn a true and dignified woman, nor a gentleman of the highest type. He has no conception most largely consists."-PRESIDENT C. C. FELTON, of that simplicity in which nobleness of nature of Harvard University: N. Amer. Review, Oct. 1860, 580 (Everett's Life of Washington). See also J. T. Fields's Yesterdays with Authors, Bost., 1862, Svo, and Thackerayana, Lond., 1875, cr. 8vo.; Selections from the Correspondence of the Late Macvey Napier, Esq., Lond., 1879, 8vo.

Works: Library Edition, London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1868-69, also 1874, 22 vols. r. cr. 8vo: vol. i., ii., Vanity Fair; iii., iv., The History of Pendennis; v., vi., The Newcomes; vii., The History of Henry Esmond; viii., ix., The Virginians; x., xi., The Adventures of Philip; xii., The Paris SketchBook of Mr. M. A. Titmarsh, and the Memoirs of Mr. C. J. Yellowplush; xiii., The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq., Written by Himself, with The History of Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond; xiv., The Irish Sketch-Book, and Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo; xv., The Book of Snobs, Sketches and Travels in London, and Character Sketches; xvi., Burlesques: Novels by Eminent Hands, Adventures of Major Gahagan, Jeames's Diary, A Legend of the Rhine, Rebecca and Rowena, The History of the Next French Revolution. Cox's Diary; xvii., Christmas Books of M. A. Titmarsh : Mrs. Perkins's Ball. Dr. Birch, Our Street, The Kickleburys on the Rhine. The Rose and the Ring; xviii., Ballads and Tales; xix., The Four Georges, The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century; xx., Roundabout Papers, The Second Funeral of Napoleon; xxi., Denis Duval, Lovel the Widower, and other Stories; xxii., Catherine, a Story, Little Travels, and The Fitzboodle Papers.

Also Popular Edition, Smith, Elder & Co., 12 vols. cr. 8vo. Works, New York, Harper Brothers, 1869, 6 vols. 8vo. Works, New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1869-70, 12 vols. Works, Household Edition, Boston, Fields, Osgood & Co., 1869, 6 vols. 16mo, and Miscellanies, 1869-70, 5 vols. 16mo. He edited The Cornhill Magazine from its commencement, Jan. 1860 until April, 1862.



Before long, Becky received not only "the best" foreigners (as the phrase is in our noble and admirable society slang), but some of the best English people too. don't mean the most virtuous, or indeed the least virtuous, or the cleverest, or the stupidest, or the richest, or the best born, but "the best,"-in a word, people about whom there is no question,--such as the great Lady Fitz-Willis, that patron saint of Almack's, the great Lady Slowbore, the great Lady Grizzel Macbeth (she was Lady G. Glowry, daughter of Lord Grey of Glowry), and the like. When the Countess of FitzWillis (her ladyship is of the King Street family, see Debrett and Burke) takes up a person, he or she is safe. There is no question about them any more. Not that my Lady Fitz-Willis is any better than anybody else, being, on the contrary, a faded person, fifty-seven years of age, and neither handsome, nor wealthy, nor entertaining; but it is agreed on all sides that she is of the "best people." Those who go to her are of the best; and from an old grudge, probably to Lady Steyne (for whose coronet her ladyship, then the youthful Georgiana Frederica, daughter of the Prince of Wales's favourite, the Earl of Portansherry, had once tried), this great and famous leader of the fashion chose to acknowledge Mrs. Rawdon Crawley: made her a most marked curtsey at the assembly over which she presided, and not only encouraged her son, St. Kitts (his lordship got his place through Lord Steyne's interest), to frequent Mr. Crawley's house,

but asked her to her own mansion, and spoke to her twice in the most public and condescending manner during dinner. The important fact was known all over London that night. People who had been crying fie about Mrs. Crawley were silent. Wenham, the wit and lawyer, Lord Steyne's right-hand man, went about everywhere praising her: some who had hesitated, came forward at once and welcomed her. Little Tom Toady, who had warned Southdown about visiting such an abandoned woman, now besought to be introduced to her. In a word, she was admitted to be among the "best" people. Ah, my beloved readers and brethren, do not envy poor Becky prematurely glory like. This is said to be fugitive. It is currently reported that even in the very inmost circles they are no happier than the poor wanderers outside the zone; and Becky, who penetrated into the very centre of fashion, and saw the great George IV. face to face, has owned since that there too was vanity.

We must be brief in descanting upon this part of her career. As I cannot describe the mysteries of freemasonry, although I have a shrewd idea that it is a humbug; so an uninitiated man cannot take it upon himself to portray the great world accurately, and had best keep his opinions to himself, whatever they are.

Becky has often spoken in subsequent years of this season of her life, when she moved among the very greatest circles of the London fashion. Her success excited, elated, and then bored her. At first no occupation was more pleasant than to invent and procure (the latter a work of no small trouble and ingenuity, by the way, in a person of Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's very narrow means), to procure, we say, the prettiest new dresses and ornaments; to drive to fine dinner parties, where she was welcomed by great people; and from the fine dinner parties to fine assemblies, whither the same people came with whom she had been dining, whom she had met the night before, and would see on the morrow, the young men faultlessly appointed, handsomely cravatted, with the neatest glossy boots and white gloves,-the elders portly, brass-buttoned, noble-looking, polite, and prosy, the young ladies blonde, timid, and in pink,-the mothers grand, beautiful, sumptuous, solemn, and in diamonds. They talked in English, not in bad French, as they do in the novels. They talked about each other's houses, and characters, and families, just as the Joneses do about the Smiths. Becky's former acquaintances hated and envied her: the poor woman herself was yawning in spirit. "I wish I were out of it," she said to herself.

"I would rather be a parson's wife, and teach a Sunday-school, than this; or a sergeant's lady, and ride in the regimental waggon; or, oh, how much gayer it would be to wear spangles and trousers, and dance before a booth at a fair."

"You would do it very well," said Lord Steyne, laughing. She used to tell the great man her ennuis and perplexities in her artless way,-they amused him.

"Rawdon would make a very good Ecuyer, master of the ceremonies,-what do you call him,-the man in the large boots and the uniform, who goes round the ring cracking the whip? He is large, heavy, and of a military figure. I recollect," Becky continued pensively, "my father took me to see a show at Brook Green Fair, when I was a child, and when we came home I made myself a pair of stilts, and danced in the studio to the wonder of all the pupils."

"I should have liked to see it," said Lord Steyne.

"I should like to do it now," Becky continued. "How Lady Blinkey would open her eyes, and Lady Grizzel Macbeth would stare! Hush, silence! There is Pasta beginning to sing." Becky always made a point of being conspicuously polite to the professional ladies and gentlemen who attended at these aristocratic parties,―of following them into the corners, where they sat in silence, and shaking hands with them, and smiling in the view of all persons. She was an artist herself, as she said very truly. There was a frankness and humility in the manner in which she acknowledged her origin, which provoked, or disarmed, or amused lookers-on, as the case might be. "How cool that woman is," said one; "what airs of independence she assumes, where she ought to sit still, and be thankful if anybody speaks to her." "What an honest and good-natured soul she is," said another. "What an artful little minx," said a third. They were all right, very likely; but Becky went her own way, and so fascinated the professional personages, that they would leave off their sore throats in order to sing at her parties, and give her lessons for nothing.

Yes, she gave parties in the little house in Curzon Street. Many scores of carriages, with blazing lamps, blocked up the street, to the disgust of No. 100, who could not rest for the thunder of the knocking, and of 102, who could not sleep for envy. The gigantic footmen who accompanied the vehicles were too big to be contained in Becky's little hall, and were billeted off in the neighbouring public-houses, whence, when they were wanted, call-boys summoned them from their beer. Some of the great dandies of London squeezed and trod on each other on the little

stairs, laughing to find themselves there; and many spotless and severe ladies of ton were seated in a little .drawing-room, listening to the professional singers, who were sing ing according to their wont, and as if they wished to blow the windows down. And the day after there appeared, among the fashionable reunions in the Morning Post," a paragraph to the following effect: "Yesterday, Colonel and Mrs. Crawley entertained a select party at dinner at their house in May Fair. Their Excellencies the Prince and Princess of Peterwasachin, H. E. Papoosh Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador (attended by Kibob Bey, dragoman of the mission), the Marquess of Steyne, Earl of Southdown, Mr. Pitt and Lady Jane Crawley, Mr. Wag, etc. After dinner Mrs. Crawley had an assembly, which was attended by the Duchess (Dowager) of Stilton, Duc de la Gruyère, Marchioness of Cheshire, Marchese Aléssandro Strachino, Comte de Brie, Baron Schapzugar, Chevalier Tasti, Countess of Slingstone, and Lady F. Macadam, MajorGeneral and Lady G. Macheth, and (2) Misses Macbeth, Viscount Paddington, Sir Horace Fogey, Hon. Sands Bedwin, Bobbachy Bahawder," and an etc., which the reader may fill at his pleasure through a dozen close lines of small type.


How the Crawleys got the money which was spent upon the entertainments with which they treated the polite world was a mystery which gave rise to some conversation at the time, and probably added zest to these little festivities. Some persons averred that Sir Pitt Crawley gave his brother a handsome allowance; if he did, Becky's power over the baronet must have been extraordinary indeed, and his character greatly changed in his advanced age. Other parties hinted that it was Becky's habit to levy contributions on all her husband's friends: going to this one in tears with an account that there was an execution in the house: falling on her knees to that one, and declaring that the whole family must go to gaol, or commit suicide, unless such and such a bill could be paid. Lord Southdown, it was said, had been induced to give many hundreds through these pathetic representations. Young Feltham, of the -th Dragoons (and son of the firm of Tiler and Feltham, hatters and army accoutrement makers), and whom the Crawleys introduced into fashionable life, was also cited as one of Becky's victims in the pecuniary way. People declared that she got money from various simply disposed persons, under pretence of getting them confidential appointments under Government. Who knows what stories were or were not told of our dear and innocent friend? Certain it is, that if she had had all the money

which she was said to have begged or borrowed, or stolen, she might have capitalized, and been honest for life, whereas but this is advancing matters.

The truth is, that by economy and good management-by a sparing use of ready money, and by paying scarcely anybodypeople can manage, for a time at least, to make a great show with very little means: and it is our belief that Becky's muchtalked-of parties, which were not, after all was said, very numerous, cost this lady very little more than the candles which lighted the walls. Stillbrook and Queen's Crawley supplied her with game and fruit in abundance. Lord Steyne's cellars were at her disposal, and that excellent nobleman's famous cook presided over her little kitchen, or sent by my lord's order the rarest delicacies from their own. I protest it is quite shameful in the world to abuse a simple creature, as people of her time abuse Becky, and I warn the public against believing onetenth of the stories against her. If every person is to be banished from society who runs into debt and cannot pay,-if we are to be peering into everybody's private life, speculating upon their income, and cutting them if we don't approve of their expendi ture,-why, what a howling wilderness and intolerable dwelling Vanity Fair would be. Every man's hand would be against his neighbour in this case, my dear sir, and the benefits of civilization would be done away with. We should be quarrelling, abusing, avoiding one another. Our houses would become caverns: and we should go in rags because we cared for nobody. Rents would go down. Parties wouldn't be given any more. All the tradesmen of the town would be bankrupt. Wine, wax-lights, comesti bles, rouge, crinoline petticoats, diamonds, wigs, Louis-quatorze gimcracks, and old china, park hacks, and splendid high-stepping carriage horses, all the delights of life, I say, would go to the deuce, if people did but act upon their silly principles, and avoid those whom they dislike and abuse. Whereas, by a little charity and mutual forbearance, things are made to go on pleasantly enough: we may abuse a man as much as we like, and call him the greatest rascal unhung,-but do we wish to hang him therefore? No; we shake hands when we meet. If his cook is good, we forgive him, and go and dine with him; and we expect he will do the same by us. Thus trade flourishes-civilization advances; peace is kept; new dresses are wanted for new assemblies every week; and the last year's vintage of Lafitte will remunerate the honest proprietor who reared it. Vanity Fair.

« EelmineJätka »