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Joseph Smith:
Nineteenth Century Con Man?

By Dale R. Broadhurst

Smith - Sources

Joseph Smith: 19th Century Con Man?   |   Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon
Tracking Book of Mormon Authorship   |   Word-print Study   |   Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon


1849 H. Melville   |   1857 H. Melville   |   1963 H. B. Franklin
1966 R. A. Rees   |   1967 H. B. Franklin
1989 C. K. Farr   |   2009 R. D. Rust


Herman Melville

Mardi: And A Voyage Thither II.

(NYC: Harpers, 1849)

Ch. 01   Ch. 02   Ch. 03
Ch. 04   Ch. 05   Ch. 06
Ch. 07   Ch. 08   Ch. 09
Ch. 82   Ch. 83

Transcriber's comments

[ 9 ]

M A R D I.



We were now voyaging straight for Maramma; where lived and reigned, in mystery, the High Pontiff of the adjoining isles: prince, priest, and god, in his own proper person: great lord paramount over many kings in Mardi; his hands full of scepters and crosiers.

Soon, rounding a lofty and insulated shore, the great central peak of the island came in sight; domineering over the neighboring hills; the same aspiring pinnacle, descried in drawing near the archipelago in the Chamois.

"Tall Peak of Ofo!" cried Babbalanja, "how comes it that thy shadow so broods over Mardi; flinging new shades upon spots already shaded by the hill-sides; shade upon shade!"

"Yet so it is," said Yoomy, sadly, "that where that shadow falls, gay flowers refuse to spring; and men long dwelling therein become shady of face and of soul. 'Hast thou come from out the shadows of Ofo?' inquires the stranger, of one with a clouded brow."

"It was by this same peak," said Mohi, "that the nimble god Roo, a great sinner above, came down from the skies, a very long time ago. Three skips and a jump, and he landed on the plain. But alas, poor Roo! though easy the descent, there was no climbing back.

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"No wonder, then," said Babbalanja, that the peak is inaccessible to man. Though, with a strange infatuation, many still make pilgrimages thereto; and wearily climb and climb, till slipping from the rocks, they fall headlong backward, and oftentimes perish at its base."

"Ay," said Mohi, "in vain, on all sides of the Peak, various paths are tried; in vain new ones are cut through the cliffs and the brambles: -- Ofo yet remains inaccessible."

"Nevertheless," said Babbalanja, "by some it is believed, that those, who by dint of hard struggling climb so high as to become invisible from the plain; that these have attained the summit; though others much doubt, whether their be coming invisible is not because of their having fallen, and perished by the way."

"And wherefore." said Media, "do you mortals undertake the ascent at all? why not be content on the plain? and even if attainable, what would you do upon that lofty, clouded summit? Or how can you hope to breathe that rarefied air, unfitted for your human lungs?"

"True, my lord," said Babbalanja; and Bardianna asserts that the plain alone was intended for man; who should be content to dwell under the shade of its groves, though the roots thereof descend into the darkness of the earth. But, my lord, you well know, that there are those in Mardi, who secretly regard all stories connected with this peak, as inventions of the people of Maramma. They deny that any thing is to be gained by making a pilgrimage thereto. And for warranty, they appeal to the sayings of the great prophet Alma."

Cried Mohi, But Alma is also quoted by others, in vindication of the pilgrimages to Ofo. They declare that the prophet himself was the first pilgrim that thitherward journeyed: that from thence he departed to the skies."

Now, excepting this same peak, Maramma is all rolling hill and dale, like the sea after a storm; which then seems not to roll, but to stand still, poising its mountains. Yet

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the landscape of Maramma has not the merriness of meadows; partly because of the shadow of Ofo, and, partly because of the solemn groves in which the Morais and temples are buried.

According to Mohi, not one solitary tree bearing fruit, not one esculent root, grows in all the isle; the population wholly depending upon the large tribute remitted from the neighboring shores.

"It is not that the soil is unproductive," said Mohi, "that these things are so. It is extremely fertile; but the inhabitants say that it would be wrong to make a Bread-fruit orchard of the holy island."

"And hence, my lord," said Babbalanja, "while others are charged with the business of their temporal welfare, these Islanders take no thought of the morrow; and broad Maramma lies one fertile waste in the lagoon."

[ 12 ]



Coming close to the island, the pennons and trappings of our canoes were removed; and Vee-Vee was commanded to descend from the shark's mouth; and for a time to lay aside his conch. In token of reverence, our paddlers also stripped to the waist; an example which even Media followed; though, as a king, the same homage he rendered, was at times rendered himself.

At every place, hitherto visited, joyous crowds stood ready to hail our arrival; but the shores of Maramma were silent, and forlorn.

Said Babhalanja, "It looks not as if the lost one were here."

At length we landed in a little cove nigh a valley, which Mohi called Uma; and here in silence we beached our canoes.

But presently, there came to, us an old man, with a beard white as the mane of the pale horse. He was clad in a midnight robe. He fanned himself with a fan of faded leaves. A child led him by the hand, for he was blind, wearing a green plantain leaf over his plaited brow.

Him, Media accosted, making mention who we were, and on what errand we came: to seek out Yillah, and behold the isle.

Whereupon Pani, for such was his name, gave us a courteous reception; and lavishly promised to discover sweet Yillah; declaring that in Maramma, if any where, the long-lost maiden must be found. He assured us, that

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throughout the whole land he would lead us; leaving no place, desirable to be searched, unexplored.

And so saying, he conducted us to his dwelling, for refreshment and repose.

It was large and lofty. Near by, however, were many miserable hovels, with squalid inmates. But the old man's retreat was exceedingly comfortable; especially abounding in mats for lounging; his rafters were bowed down by calabashes of good cheer.

During the repast which ensued, blind Pani, freely partaking, enlarged upon the merit of abstinence; declaring that a thatch overhead, and a cocoanut tree, comprised all that was necessary for the temporal welfare of a Mardian. More than this, he assured us was sinful.

He now made known, that he officiated as guide in this quarter of the country; and that as he had renounced all other pursuits to devote himself to showing strangers the island; and more particularly the best way to ascend lofty Ofo; he was necessitated to seek remuneration for his toil.

"My lord," then whispered Mohi to Media "the great prophet Alma always declared, that, without charge, this island was free to all."

"What recompense do you desire, old man?" said Media to Pani.

"What I seek is but little: twenty rolls of fine tappa; two score mats of best upland grass; one canoe-load of bread-fruit and yams; ten gourds of wine; and forty strings of teeth; you are a large company, but my requisitions are small."

" Very small," said Mohi.

" You are extortionate, good Pani," said Media. "And what wants an aged mortal like you with all these things?"

"I thought superfluities were worthless; nay, sinful," said Babbalanja.

"Is not this your habitation already more than abundantly supplied with all desirable furnishings?" asked Yoomy.

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"I am "but a lowly laborer," said the old man, meekly crossing his arms, "but does not the lowliest laborer ask and receive his reward? and shall I miss mine? But I beg charity of none. What I ask, I demand; and in the dread name of great Alma, who appointed me a guide." And to and fro he strode, groping as he went.

Marking his blindness, whispered Babbalanja to Media, "My lord, methinks this Pani must be a poor guide. In his journeys inland, his little child leads him; why not, then, take the guide's guide?"

But Pani would not part with the child.

Then said Mohi in a low voice, My lord Media, though I am no appointed guide; yet, will I undertake to lead you aright over all this island; for I am an old man, and have been here oft by myself; though I can not undertake to conduct you up the peak of Ofo, and to the more secret temples."

Then Pani said: " and what mortal may this be, who pretends to thread the labyrinthine wilds of Maramma? Beware!"

"He is one with eyes that see," made answer Babbalanja.

"Follow him not," said Pani, "for he will lead thee astray; no Yillah will he find; and having no warrant as a guide, the curses of Alma will accompany him."

Now, this was not altogether without effect; for Pani and his fathers before him had always filled the office of guide.

Nevertheless, Media at last decided, that, this time, Mohi should conduct us; which being communicated to Pani, he desired us to remove from his roof. So withdrawing to the skirt of a neighboring grove, we lingered awhile, to refresh ourselves for the journey in prospect.

As we here reclined, there came up from the sea-side a party of pilgrims, but newly arrived.

Apprized of their coming, Pani and his child went out to meet them; and standing in the path he cried, "I am the

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appointed guide; in the name of Alma I conduct all pilgrims to the temples."

"This must be the worthy Pani," said one of the strangers, turning upon the rest.

"Let us take him, then, for our guide," cried they; and all drew near.

But upon accosting him; they were told, that he guided none without recompense.

And now, being informed, that the foremost of the pilgrims was one Divino, a wealthy chief of a distant island, Pani demanded of him his requital.

But the other demurred; and by many soft speeches at length abated the recompense to three promissory cocoanuts, which he covenanted to send Pani at some future day.

The next pilgrim accosted, was a sad-eyed maiden, in decent but scanty raiment; who without seeking to diminish Pani's demands promptly placed in his hands a small hoard of the money of Mardi.

"Take it, holy guide," she said, "it is all I have."

But the third pilgrim, one Fanna, a hale matron, in handsome apparel, needed no asking to bestow her goods. Calling upon her attendants to advance with their burdens, she quickly unrolled them; and wound round and round Pani, fold after fold of the costliest tappas; and filled both his hands with teeth; and his mouth with some savory marmalade; and poured oil upon his head; and knelt and besought of him a blessing.

"From the bottom of my heart I bless thee," said Pani; and still holding her hands exclaimed, "Take example from this woman, oh Divino; and do ye likewise, ye pilgrims all."

"Not to-day," said Divino.

"We are not rich, like unto Fanna," said the rest.

Now, the next pilgrim was a very old and miserable man; stone-blind, covered with rags; and supporting his steps with a staff.

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"My recompense," said Pani.

"Alas! I have naught to give. Behold my poverty."

"I can not see," replied Pani; but feeling of his garments, he said, "Thou wouldst deceive me; hast thou not this robe, and this staff?"

"Oh! Merciful Pani, take not my all!" wailed the pilgrim. But his worthless gaberdine was thrust into the dwelling of the guide.

Meanwhile, the matron was still enveloping Pani in her interminable tappas.

But the sad-eyed maiden, removing her upper mantle, threw it over the naked form of the beggar.

The fifth pilgrim was a youth of an open, ingenuous aspect; and with an eye, full of eyes; his step was light.

"Who art thou?" cried Pani, as the stripling touched him in passing.

"I go to ascend the Peak," said the boy.

"Then take me for guide."

"No, I am strong and lithesome. Alone must I go."

"But how knowest thou the way?"

"There are many ways: the right one I must seek for myself."

"Ah, poor deluded one," sighed Pani; "but thus is it ever with youth; and rejecting the monitions of wisdom, suffer they must. Go on, and perish!"

Turning, the boy exclaimed "Though I act counter to thy counsels, oh Pani, I but follow the divine instinct in me."

"Poor youth!" murmured Babbalanja. "How earnestly he struggles in his bonds. But though rejecting a guide, still he clings to that legend of the Peak."

The rest of the pilgrims now tarried with the guide, preparing for their journey inland.

[ 17 ]



Refreshed by our stay in the grove, we rose, and placed ourselves under the guidance of Mohi; who went on in advance.

Winding our way among jungles, we came to a deep hollow, planted with one gigantic palm-shaft, belted round by saplings, springing from its roots. But, Laocoon-like, sire and sons stood locked in the serpent folds of gnarled, distorted banians; and the banian-bark, eating into their vital wood, corrupted their veins of sap, till all those palm-nuts were poisoned chalices.

Near by stood clean-limbed, comely manchineels, with lustrous leaves and golden fruit. You would have deemed them Trees of Life; but underneath their branches grew no blade of grass, no herb, nor moss; the bare earth was scorched by heaven's own dews, nitrated through that fatal foliage.

Farther on, there frowned a grove of blended banian boughs, thick-ranked manchineels, and many a upas; their summits gilded by the sun; but below, deep shadows, darkening night-shade ferns, and mandrakes. Buried in their midst, and dimly seen among large leaves, all halberd-shaped, were' piles of stone, supporting falling temples of bamboo. Thereon frogs leaped in dampness, trailing round their slime. Thick hung the rafters with lines of pendant sloths; the upas trees dropped darkness round; so dense the shade, nocturnal birds found there perpetual night; and,

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throve on poisoned air. Owls hooted from dead boughs; or, one by one, sailed by on silent pinions; cranes stalked abroad, or brooded in the marshes; adders hissed; bats smote the darkness; ravens croaked; and vampires, fixed on slumbering lizards, fanned the sultry air.

[ 19 ]



Now, those doleful woodlands passed, straightway converse was renewed, and much discourse took place, concerning Hivohitee, Pontiff of the isle.

For, during our first friendly conversation with Pani, Media had inquired for Hivohitee, and sought to know in what part of the island he abode.

Whereto Pani had replied, that the Pontiff would be invisible for several days to come; being engaged with particular company.

And upon further inquiry, as to who were the personages monopolizing his hospitalities, Media was dumb when informed, that they were no other than certain incorporeal deities from above, passing the Capricorn Solstice at Maramma.

As on we journeyed, much curiosity being expressed to know more of the Pontiff and his guests, old Mohi, familiar with these things, was commanded to enlighten the company. He complied; and his recital was not a little significant, of the occasional credulity of chroniclers.

According to his statement, the deities entertained by Hivohitee belonged to the third class of immortals. These, however, were far elevated above the corporeal demi-gods of Mardi. Indeed, in Hivohitee's eyes, the greatest demi-gods were as gourds. Little wonder, then, that their superiors were accounted the most genteel characters on his visiting list.

These immortals were wonderfully fastidious and dainty

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as to the atmosphere they breathed; inhaling no sublunary air, but that of the elevated interior; where the Pontiff had a rural lodge for the special accommodation of impalpable guests; who were entertained at very small cost; dinners being unnecessary, and dormitories superfluous.

But Hivohitee permitted , not the presence of these celestial grandees, to interfere with his own solid comfort. Passing his mornings in highly intensified chat, he thrice reclined at his ease; partaking of a fine plantain-pudding, and pouring out from a calabash of celestial old wine; meanwhile, carrying on the flow of soul with his guests. And truly, the sight of their entertainer thus enjoying himself in the flesh, while they themselves starved on the ether, must have been exceedingly provoking to these aristocratic and aerial strangers.

It was reported, furthermore, that Hivohitee, one of the haughtiest of Pontiffs, purposely treated his angelical guests thus cavalierly; in order to convince them, that though a denizen of earth; a sublunarian; and in respect of heaven, a mere provincial; he (Hivohitee) accounted himself full as good as seraphim from the capital; and that too at the Capricorn Solstice, or any other time of the year. Strongly bent was Hivohitee upon humbling their supercilious pretensions.

Besides, was he not accounted a great god in the land? supreme? having power of life and death? essaying the deposition of kings? and dwelling in moody state, all by himself, in the goodliest island of Mardi? Though here, be it said, that his assumptions of temporal supremacy were but seldom made good by express interference with the secular concerns of the neighboring monarchs; who, by force of arms, were too apt to argue against his claims to authority; however, in theory, they bowed to it. And now, for the genealogy of Hivohitee; for eighteen hundred and forty-seven Hivohitees were alleged to have gone before him. He came in a right line from the divine Hivohitee I.: the original

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grantee of the empire of men's souls and the first swayer of a crosier. The present Pontiff's descent was unquestionable; his dignity having been transmitted through none but heirs male; the whole procession of High Priests being the fruit of successive marriages between uterine brother and sister. A conjunction deemed incestuous in some lands; but, here, held the only fit channel for the pure transmission of elevated rank.

Added to the hereditary appellation, Hivohitee, which simply denoted the sacerdotal station of the Pontiffs, and was but seldom employed in current discourse, they were individualized by a distinctive name, bestowed upon them at birth. And the degree of consideration in which they were held, may be inferred from the fact, that during the lifetime of a Pontiff, the leading sound in his name was banned to ordinary uses. Whence, at every new accession to the archiepiscopal throne, it came to pass, that multitudes of words and phrases were either essentially modified, or wholly dropped. Wherefore, the language of Maramma was incessantly fluctuating; and had become so full of jargonings, that the birds in the groves were greatly puzzled; not knowing where lay the virtue of sounds, so incoherent.

And, in a good measure, this held true of all tongues spoken throughout the Archipelago; the birds marveling at mankind, and mankind at the birds; wondering how they could continually sing; when, for all man knew to the contrary, it was impossible they could be holding intelligent discourse. And thus, though for thousands of years, men and birds had been dwelling together in Mardi, they remained wholly ignorant of each other's secrets; the Islander regarding the fowl as a senseless songster, forever in the clouds; and the fowl him, as a screeching crane, destitute of pinions and lofty aspirations.

Over and above numerous other miraculous powers imputed to the Pontiffs as spiritual potentates, there was ascribed to them one special privilege of a secular nature:

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that of healing with a touch the bites of the ravenous sharks, swarming throughout the lagoon. With these they were supposed to be upon the most friendly terms; according to popular accounts, sociably bathing with them in the sea; permitting them to rub their noses against their priestly thighs; playfully mouthing their hands, with all their tiers of teeth.

At the ordination of a Pontiff, the ceremony was not deemed complete, until embarking in his barge, he was saluted High Priest by three sharks drawing near; with teeth turned up, swimming beside his canoe.

These monsters were deified in Maramma; had altars there; it was deemed worse than homicide to kill one. "And what if they destroy human life?" say the Islanders, "are they not sacred?"

Now many more wonderful things were related touching Hivohitee; and though one could not but doubt the validity of many prerogatives ascribed to him, it was nevertheless hard to do otherwise, than entertain for the Pontiff that sort of profound consideration, which all render to those who indisputably possess the power of quenching human life with a wish.

[ 23 ]



As garrulous guide to the party, Braid-Beard soon brought us nigh the great Morai of Maramma, the burial-place of the Pontiffs, and a rural promenade, for certain idols there inhabiting.

Our way now led through the bed of a shallow water course; Mohi observing, as we went, that our feet were being washed at every step; whereas, to tread the dusty earth would be to desecrate the holy Morai, by transferring thereto, the base soil of less sacred ground.

Here and there, thatched arbors were thrown over the stream, for the accommodation of devotees; who, in these consecrated waters, issuing from a spring in the Morai, bathed their garments, that long life might ensue. Yet, as Braid-Beard assured us, sometimes it happened, that divers feeble old men zealously donning their raiment immediately after immersion became afflicted with rheumatics; and instances were related of their falling down dead, in this their pursuit of longevity.

Coming to the Morai, we found it inclosed by a wall; and while the rest were surmounting it, Mohi was busily engaged in the apparently childish occupation of collecting pebbles. Of these, however, to our no small surprise, he presently made use, by irreverently throwing them at all objects to which he was desirous of directing attention. In this manner, was pointed out a black boar's head, suspended from a bough. Full twenty of these sentries were on post in the neighboring trees.

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Proceeding, we came to a hillock of bone-dry sand, resting upon the otherwise loamy soil. Possessing a secret, preservative virtue, this sand had, ages ago, been brought from a distant land, to furnish a sepulcher for the Pontiffs; who here, side by side, and sire by son, slumbered all peace fully in the fellowship of the grave. Mohi declared, that were the sepulcher to be opened, it would be the resurrection of the whole line of High Priests. " But a resurrection of bones, after all," said Babbalanja, ever osseous in his allusions to the departed.

Passing on, we came to a number of Runic-looking stones, all over hieroglyphical inscriptions, and placed round an elliptical aperture; where welled up the sacred spring of the Morai, clear as crystal, and showing through its waters, two tiers of sharp, tusk-like stones; the mouth of Oro, so called; and it was held, that if any secular hand should be immersed in the spring, straight upon it those stony jaws would close.

We next came to a large image of a dark-hued stone, representing a burly man, with an overgrown head, and abdomen hollowed out, and open for inspection; therein, were relics of bones. Before this image we paused. And whether or no it was Mohi's purpose to make us tourists quake with his recitals, his revelations were far from agreeable. -- At certain seasons, human beings were offered to the idol, which being an epicure in the matter of sacrifices, would accept of no ordinary fare. To insure his digestion, all indirect routes to the interior were avoided; the sacrifices being packed in the ventricle itself.

Near to this image of Doleema, so called, a solitary forest-tree was pointed out; leafless and dead to the core. But from its boughs hung numerous baskets, brimming over with melons, grapes, and guavas. And daily these baskets were replenished.

As we here stood, there passed a hungry figure, in ragged raiment: hollow cheeks, and hollow eyes. Wistfully he

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eyed the offerings; but retreated; knowing it was sacrilege to touch them. There, they must decay, in honor of the god Ananna; for so this dead tree was denominated by Mohi.

Now, as we were thus strolling about the Morai, the old chronicler elucidating its mysteries, we suddenly spied Pani and the pilgrims approaching the image of Doleema; his child leading the guide.

"This," began Pani, pointing to the idol of stone, "is the holy god Ananna who lives in the sap of this green and flourishing tree."

"Thou meanest not, surely, this stone image we behold?" said Divino.

"I mean the tree," said the guide. "It is no stone image."

"Strange," muttered the chief; "were it not a guide that spoke, I would deny it. As it is, I hold my peace."

"Mystery of mysteries!" cried the blind old pilgrim; "is it, then, a stone image that Pani calls a tree? Oh, Oro, that I had eyes to see, that I might verily behold it, and then believe it to be what it is not; that so. I might prove the largeness of my faith; and so merit the blessing of Alma."

"Thrice sacred Ananna," murmured the sad-eyed maiden, falling upon her knees before Doleema, "receive my adoration. Of thee, I know nothing, but what the guide has spoken. I am but a poor, weak-minded maiden, judging not for myself, but leaning upon others that are wiser. These things are above me. I am afraid to think. In Alma's name, receive my homage."

And she flung flowers before the god.

But Fanna, the hale matron, turning upon Pani, exclaimed, "Receive more gifts, oh guide." And again she showered them upon him.

Upon this, the willful boy who would not have Pani for his guide, entered the Morai; and perceiving the group before

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the image, walked rapidly to where they were. And beholding the idol, he regarded it attentively, and said: "This must be the image of Doleema; but I am not sure."

"Nay," cried the blind pilgrim, "it is the holy tree Ananna, thou wayward boy."

"A tree? whatever it may be, it is not that; thou art blind, old man."

"But though blind, I have that which thou lackest."

Then said Pani, turning upon the boy, "Depart from the holy Morai, and corrupt not the hearts of these pilgrims. Depart, I say; and, in the sacred name of Alma, perish in thy endeavors to climb the Peak."

"I may perish there in truth," said the boy, with sadness; "but it shall be in the path revealed to me in my dream. And think not, oh guide, that I perfectly rely upon gaining that lofty summit. I will climb high Ofo with hope, not faith; Oh, mighty Oro, help me!"

"Be not impious," said Pani; "pronounce not Oro's sacred name too lightly."

"Oro is but a sound," said the boy. "They call the supreme god, Ati, in my native isle, it is the soundless thought of him, oh guide, that is in me."

"Hark to his rhapsodies! Hark, how he prates of mysteries, that not even Hivohitee can fathom."

"Nor he, nor thou, nor I, nor any; Oro, to all, is Oro the unknown."

"Why claim to know Oro, then, better than others?"

"I am not so vain; and I have little to substitute for what I can not receive. I but feel Oro in me, yet can not declare the thought."

"Proud boy! thy humility is a pretense; at heart, thou deemest thyself wiser than Mardi."

"Not near so wise. To believe is a haughty thing; my very doubts humiliate me. I weep and doubt; all Mardi may be right; and I too simple to discern."

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"He is mad," said the chief Divino; "never before heard I such words."

"They are thoughts," muttered the guide.

"Poor fool!" cried Fanna.

"Lost youth!" sighed the maiden.

"He is but a child," said the beggar. These whims will soon depart; once I was like him; but, praise be to Alma, in the hour of sickness I repented, feeble old man that I am!"

"It is because I am young and in health," said the boy, that I more nourish the thoughts, that are born of my youth and my health. I am fresh from my Maker, soul and body unwrinkled. On thy sick couch, old man, they took thee at advantage."

"Turn from the blasphemer," cried Pani. "Hence! thou evil one, to the perdition in store."

"I will go my ways," said the boy, "but Oro will shape the end."

And he quitted the Morai.

After conducting the party round the sacred inclosure, assisting his way with his staff, for his child had left him, Pani seated himself on a low, mossy stone, grimly surrounded by idols; and directed the pilgrims to return to his habitation; where, ere long he would rejoin them.

The pilgrims departed, he remained in profound meditation; while, backward and forward, an invisible ploughshare turned up the long furrows on his brow.

Long he was silent; then muttered to himself, "That boy, that wild, wise boy, has stabbed me to the heart. His thoughts are my suspicions. But he is honest. Yet I harm none. Multitudes must have unspoken meditations as well as I. Do we then mutually deceive? Off masks, mankind, that I may know what warranty of fellowship with others, my own thoughts possess. Why, upon this one theme, oh Oro! must all dissemble? Our thoughts are not our own. Whate'er it be, an honest thought must have some germ of truth. But we must set, as flows the general

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stream; I blindly follow, where I seem to lead; the crowd of pilgrims is so great, they see not there is none to guide. -- It hinges upon this: Have we angelic spirits? But in vain, in vain, oh Oro! I essay to live out of this poor, blind body, fit dwelling for my sightless soul. Death, death:-- blind, am I dead? for blindness seems a consciousness of death. Will my grave be more dark, than all is now? -- From dark to dark! -- What is this subtle something that is in me, and eludes me? Will it have no end? When, then, did it begin? All, all is chaos! What is this shining light in heaven, this sun they tell me of? Or, do they lie? Methinks, it might blaze convictions; but I brood and grope in blackness; I am dumb with doubt; yet, 'tis not doubt, but worse: I doubt my doubt. Oh, ye all-wise spirits in the air, how can ye witness all this woe, and give no sign? Would, would that, mine were a settled doubt, like that wild boy's, who without faith, seems full of it. The undoubting doubter believes the most. Oh! that I were he. Methinks that daring boy hath Alma in him, struggling to be free. But those pilgrims: that trusting girl. What, if they saw me as I am? Peace, peace, my soul; on, mask, again." And he staggered from the Morai.

[ 29 ]



Walking from the sacred inclosure, Mohi discoursed of the plurality of gods in the land, a subject suggested by the multitudinous idols we had just been beholding.

Said Mohi, "These gods of wood and of stone are nothing in number to the gods in the air. You breathe not a breath without inhaling, you touch not a leaf without ruffling a spirit. There are gods of heaven, and gods of earth; gods of sea and of land; gods of peace and of war; gods of rock and of fell; gods of ghosts and of thieves; of singers and dancers; of lean men and of house-thatchers. Gods glance in the eyes of birds, and sparkle in the crests of the waves; gods merrily swing in the boughs of the trees, and merrily sing in the brook. Gods are here, and there, and every where; you are never alone for them."

"If this be so, Braid-Beard," said Babbalanja, "our in most thoughts are overheard; but not by eaves-droppers. However, my lord, these gods to whom he alludes, merely belong to the semi-intelligibles, the divided unities in unity, this side of the First Adyta."

"Indeed?" said Media.

"Semi-intelligible, say you, philosopher?" cried Mohi. Then, prithee, make it appear so; for what you say, seems gibberish to me."

"Babbalanja," said Media, "no more of your abstrusities; what know you mortals of us gods and demi-gods? But tell me, Mohi, how many of your deities of rock and fell think you there are? Have you no statistical table?"

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"My lord, at the lowest computation, there must be at least three billion trillion of quintillions."

" A mere unit!" said Babbalanja. "Old man, would you express an infinite number? Then take the sum of the follies of Mardi for your multiplicand; and for your multiplier, the totality of sublunarians, that never have been heard of since they became no more; and the product shall exceed your quintillions, even though all their units were nonillions."

"Have done, Babbalanja!" cried Media; "you are showing the sinister vein in your marble. Have done. Take a warm bath, and make tepid your cold blood. But come, Mohi, tell us of the ways of this Maramma; some thing of the Morai and its idols, if you please."

And straightway Braid-Beard proceeded with a narration, in substance as follows: --

It seems, there was a particular family upon the island, whose members, for many generations, had been set apart as sacrifices for the deity called Doleema. They were marked by a sad and melancholy aspect, and a certain in voluntary shrinking, when passing the Morai. And though, when it came to the last, some of these unfortunates went joyfully to their doom, declaring that they gloried to die in the service of holy Doleema; still, were there others, who audaciously endeavored to shun their fate; upon the approach of a festival, fleeing to the innermost wilderness of the island. But little availed their flight. For swift on their track sped the hereditary butler of the insulted god, one Xiki, whose duty it was to provide the sacrifices. And when crouching in some covert, the fugitive spied Xiki's approach, so fearful did he become of the vengeance of the deity he sought to evade, that renouncing all hope of escape, he would burst from his lair, exclaiming, "Come on, and kill!" baring his breast for the javelin that slew him.

The chronicles of Maramma were full of horrors.

In the wild heart of the island, was said still to lurk the

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remnant of a band of warriors, who, in the days of the sire of the present pontiff, had risen in arms to dethrone him, headed by Foni, an upstart prophet, a personage distinguished for the uncommon beauty of his person. With terrible carnage, these warriors had been defeated; and the survivors, fleeing into the interior, for thirty days were pursued by the victors. But though many were overtaken and speared, a number survived; who, at last, wandering forlorn and in despair, like demoniacs, ran wild in the woods. And the islanders, who at times penetrated into the wilderness, for the purpose of procuring rare herbs, often scared from their path some specter, glaring through the foliage. Thrice had these demoniacs been discovered prowling about the inhabited portions of the isle; and at day-break, an attendant of the holy Morai once came upon a frightful figure, doubled with age, helping itself to the offerings in the image of Doleema. The demoniac was slain; and from his ineffaceable tatooing, it was proved that this was no other than Foni, the false prophet; the splendid form he had carried into the rebel fight, now squalid with age and misery.

[ 32 ]



From the Morai, we bent our steps toward an unoccupied arbor; and here, refreshing ourselves with the viands presented by Borabolla, we passed the night. And next morning proceeded to voyage round to the opposite quarter of the island; where, in the sacred lake of Yammo, stood the famous temple of Oro, also the great gallery of the inferior deities.

The lake was but a portion of the smooth lagoon, made separate by an arm of wooded reef, extending from the high western shore of the island, and curving round toward a promontory, leaving a narrow channel to the sea, almost invisible, however, from the land-locked interior.

In this lake were many islets, all green with groves. Its main-shore was a steep acclivity, with jutting points, each crowned with mossy old altars of stone, or ruinous temples, darkly reflected in the green, glassy water; while, from its long line of stately trees, the low reef-side of the lake looked one verdant bluff.

Gliding in upon Yammo, its many islets greeted us like a little Mardi; but ever and anon we started at long lines of phantoms in the water, reflections of the long line of images on the shore.

Toward the islet of Dolzono we first directed our way; and there we beheld the great gallery of the gods; a mighty temple, resting on one hundred tall pillars of palm, each based, below the surface, on the buried body of a man; its nave one vista of idols; names carved on their foreheads:

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Ogro, Tripoo, Indrimarvoki, Parzillo, Vivivi, Jojijojorora, Jorkraki, and innumerable others.

Crowds of attendants were new-grouping the images.

"My lord, you behold one of their principal occupations," said Mohi.

Said Media: "I have heard much of the famed image of Mujo, the Nursing Mother; can you point it out, Braid-Beard?"

"My lord, when last here, I saw Mujo at the head of this file; but they must have removed it; I see it not now."

"Do these attendants, then," said Babbalanja, "so continually new-marshal the idols, that visiting the gallery today, you are at a loss to-morrow?"

"Even so," said Braid-Beard. "But behold, my lord, this image is Mujo."

We stood before an obelisk-idol, so towering, that gazing at it, we were fain to throw back our heads. According to Mohi, winding stairs led up through its legs; its abdomen a cellar, thick-stored with gourds of old wine; its head, a hollow dome; in rude alto-relievo, its scores of hillock-breasts were carved over with legions of baby deities, frog-like sprawling; while, within, were secreted whole litters of infant idols, there placed, to imbibe divinity from the knots of the wood.

As we stood, a strange subterranean sound was heard, mingled with a gurgling as of wine being poured. Looking up, we beheld, through arrow-slits and port-holes, three masks, cross-legged seated in the abdomen, and holding stout wassail. But instantly upon descrying us, they vanished deeper into the interior; and presently was heard a sepulchral chant, and many groans and grievous tribulations.

Passing on, we came to an image, with a long anaconda-like posterior development, wound round and round its own neck.

"This must be Oloo, the god of Suicides," said Babbalanja.

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"Yes," said Mohi, "you perceive, my lord, how he lays violent tail upon himself."

At length, the attendants having, in due order, new-disposed the long lines of sphinxes and griffins, and many-limbed images, a hand of them, in long flowing robes, began their morning chant.
"Awake Rarni! awake Foloona!
Awake unnumbered deities!"
With many similar invocations, to which the images made not the slightest rejoinder. Not discouraged, however, the attendants now separately proceeded to oner up petitions on behalf of various tribes, retaining them for that purpose.

One prayed for abundance of rain, that the yams of Valapee might not wilt in the ground; another for dry sunshine, as most favorable for the present state of the Bread-fruit crop in Mondoldo.

Hearing all this, Babbalanja thus spoke: "Doubtless, my lord Media, besides these petitions we hear, there are ten thousand contradictory prayers ascending to these idols. But methinks the gods will not jar the eternal progression of things, by any hints from below; even were it possible to satisfy conflicting desires."

Said Yoomy, "But I would pray, nevertheless, Babbalanja; for prayer draws us near to our own souls, and purifies our thoughts. Nor will I grant that our supplications are altogether in vain."

Still wandering among the images, Mohi had much to say, concerning their respective ^claims to the reverence of the devout.

For though, in one way or other, all Mardians bowed to the supremacy of Oro, they were not so unanimous concerning the inferior deities; those supposed to be intermediately concerned in sublunary things. Some nations sacrificed to one god; some to another; each maintaining, that their own god was the most potential.

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Observing that all the images were more or less defaced, Babbalanja sought the reason.

To which, Braid-Beard made answer, that they had been thus defaced by hostile devotees; who quarreling in the great gallery of the gods, and getting beside themselves with rage, often sought to pull down, and demolish each other's favorite idols.

"But behold," cried Babbalanja, "there seems not a single image unmutilated. How is this, old man?"

"It is thus. While one faction defaces the images of its adversaries, its own images are in like manner assailed; whence it comes that no idol escapes."

"No more, no more, Braid-Beard," said Media. "Let us depart, and visit the islet, where the god of all these gods is enshrined."

[ 36 ]



Deep, deep, in deep groves, we found the great temple of Oro, Spreader-of-the-Sky, and deity supreme.

While here we silently stood eyeing this Mardi-renowned image, there entered the fane a great multitude of its attendants, holding pearl-shells on their heads, filled with a burning incense. And ranging themselves in a crowd round Oro, they began a long-rolling chant, a sea of sounds; and the thick smoke of their incense went up to the roof.

And now approached Pani and the pilgrims; followed, at a distance, by the willful boy.

"Behold great Oro," said the guide.

"We see naught but a cloud," said the chief Divino.

"My ears are stunned by the chanting," said the blind pilgrim.

"Receive more gifts, oh guide!" cried Fanna the matron.

"Oh Oro! invisible Oro! I kneel," slow murmured the sad-eyed maid.

But now, a current of air swept aside the eddying incense; and the willful boy, all eagerness to behold the image, went hither and thither; but the gathering of attendants was great; and at last he exclaimed, "Oh Oro! I can not see thee, for the crowd that stands between thee and me."

"Who is this babbler?" cried' they with the censers, one and all turning upon the pilgrims; "let him speak no more; but bow down, and grind the dust where he stands; and declare himself the vilest creature that crawls. So Oro and Alma command."

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"I feel nothing in me so utterly vile," said the boy, "and I cringe to none. But I would as lief adore your image, as that in my heart, for both mean the same; but more, how can I? I love great Oro, though I comprehend him not. I marvel at his works, and feel as nothing in his sight; but because he is thus omnipotent, and I a mortal, it follows not that I am vile. Nor so doth he regard me. We do ourselves degrade ourselves, not Oro us. Hath not Oro made me? And therefore am I not worthy to stand erect before him? Oro is almighty, but no despot. I wonder; I hope; I love; I weep; I have in me a feeling nigh to fear, that is not fear; but wholly vile I am not; nor can we love and cringe. But Oro knows my heart, which I can not speak."

"Impious boy," cried they with the censers, "we willoffer thee up, before the very image thou contemnest. In the name of Alma, seize him."

And they bore him away unresisting.

"Thus perish the ungodly," said Pani to the shuddering pilgrims.

And they quitted the temple, to journey toward the Peak of Ofo.

"My soul bursts!" cried Yoomy. "My lord, my lord, let us save the boy."

"Speak not," said Media. "His fate is fixed. Let Mardi stand."

"Then let us away from hence, my lord; and join the pilgrims; for, in these inland vales, the lost one may be found, perhaps at the very base of Ofo."

"Not there; not there;" cried Babbalanja, "Yillah may have touched these shores; but long since she must have fled."

[ 38 ]



Sailing to and fro in the lake, to view. its scenery, much discourse took place concerning the things we had seen; and far removed from the censer-bearers, the sad fate that awaited the boy was now the theme of all.

A good deal was then said of Alma, to whom the guide, the pilgrims, and the censer-bearers had frequently alluded, as to some paramount authority.

Called upon to reveal what his chronicles said on this theme, Braid-Bead complied; at great length narrating, what now follows condensed.

Alma, it seems, was an illustrious prophet, and teacher divine; who, ages ago, at long intervals, and in various islands, had appeared to the Mardians under the different titles of Brami, Manko, and Alma. Many thousands of moons had elasped since his last and most memorable avatar, as Alma on the isle of Maramma. Each of his advents had taken place in a comparatively dark and benighted age. Hence, it was devoutly believed, that he came to redeem the Mardians from their heathenish thrall; to instruct them in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good by promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe. Separated from the impurities and corruptions, which in a long series of centuries had become attached to every thing originally uttered by the prophet, the maxims, which as Brami he had taught, seemed similar to those inculcated by Manko. But as Alma, adapting his lessons to the improved condition of

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humanity, the divine prophet had more completely unfolded his scheme; as Alma, he had made his last revelation.

This narration concluded, Babbalanja mildly observed, "Mohi: without seeking to accuse you of uttering falsehoods; since what you relate rests not upon testimony of your own; permit me, to question the fidelity of your account of Ahna. The prophet came to dissipate errors, you say; but superadded to many that have survived the past, ten thousand others have originated in various constructions of the principles of Alma himself. The prophet came to do away all gods but one; but since the days of Alma, the idols of Maramma have more than quadrupled. The prophet came to make us Mardians more virtuous and happy; but along with all previous good, the same wars, crimes, and miseries, which existed in Alma's day, under various modifications are yet extant. Nay: take from your chronicles, Mohi, the history of those horrors, one way or other, resulting from the doings of Alma's nominal followers, and your chronicles would not so frequently make mention of blood. The prophet came to guarantee our eternal felicity; but according to what is held in Maramma, that felicity rests on so hard a proviso, that to a thinking mind, but very few of our sinful race may secure it. For one, then, I wholly reject your Alma; not so much, because of all that is hard to be understood in his histories; as because of obvious and undeniable things all round us; which, to me, seem at war with an unreserved faith in his doctrines as promulgated here in Maramma. Besides; every thing in this isle strengthens my incredulity; I never was so thorough a disbeliever as now."

"Let the winds be laid," cried Mohi, "while your rash confession is being made in this sacred lake."

Said Media, "Philosopher; remember the boy, and they that seized him."

"Ah! I do indeed remember him. Poor youth! in his agony, how my heart yearned toward his. But that very

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prudence which you deny me, my lord, prevented me from saying aught in his behalf. Have you not observed, that until now, when we are completely by ourselves, I have refrained from freely discoursing of what we have seen in this island? Trust me, my lord, there is no man, that bears more in mind the necessity of being either a believer or a hypocrite in Maramma, and the imminent peril of being honest here, than I, Babbalanja. And have I not reason to be wary, when in my boyhood, my own sire was burnt for his temerity; and in this very isle? Just Oro! it was done in the name of Alma, -- what wonder then, that, at times, I almost hate that sound. And from those flames, they devoutly swore he went to others, -- horrible fable!"

Said Mohi: "Do you deny, then, the everlasting torments?"

"'Tis not worth a denial. Nor by formally denying it, will I run the risk of shaking the faith of thousands; who in that pious belief find infinite consolation for all they suffer in Mardi."

"How?" said Media; "are there those who soothe themselves with the thought of everlasting flames?"

"One would think so, my lord, since they defend that dogma more resolutely than any other. Sooner will they yield you the isles of Paradise, than it. And in truth, as liege followers of Alma, they would seem but right in clinging to it as they do; for, according to all one hears in Maramma, the great end of the prophet's mission seems to have been the revealing to us Mardians the existence of horrors, most hard to escape. But better we were all annihilated, than that one man should be damned."

Rejoined Media: "But think you not, that possibly, Alma may have been misconceived? Are you certain that doctrine is his?"

"I know nothing more than that such is the belief in this land. And in these matters, I know not where else to go for information. But, my lord, had I been living in those

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days when certain men are said to have been actually possessed by spirits from hell, I had not let slip the opportunity -- as our forefathers did -- to cross-question them concerning the place they came from."

"Well, well," said Media, "your Alma's faith concerns not me: I am a king, and a demi-god; and leave vulgar torments to the commonality."

"But it concerns me," muttered Mohi; "yet I know not what to think."

"For me," said Yoomy, "I reject it. Could I, I would not believe it. It is at variance with the dictates of my heart; instinctively my heart turns from it, as a thirsty man from gall."

"Hush; say no more," said Mohi; "again we approach the shore."

[ 350 ]



Ere long the three canoes lurched heavily in a violent swell. Like palls, the clouds swept to and fro, hooding the gibbering winds. At every head-beat wave, our arching prows reared up, and shuddered; the night ran out in rain.

Whither to turn we knew not; nor what haven to gain; so dense the darkness.

But at last, the storm was over. Our shattered prows seemed gilded. Day dawned; and from his golden vases poured red wine upon the waters.

That flushed tide rippled toward us; floating from the east, a lone canoe; in which, there sat a mild old man; a palm-bough in his hand: a bird's beak, holding amaranth and myrtles, his slender prow.

"Alma's blessing upon ye, voyagers! ye look storm-worn."

"The storm we have survived, old man; and many more, we yet must ride," said Babbalanja.

"The sun is risen; and all is well again. We but need to repair our prows," said Media.

"Then, turn aside to Serenia, a pleasant isle, where all are welcome; where many storm-worn rovers land at last to dwell."

Serenia?" said Babbalanja; "methinks Serenia is that land of enthusiasts, of which we hear, my lord; where Mardians pretend to the unnatural conjunction of reason with things revealed; where Alma, they say, is restored to his divine original; where, deriving their principles from the same sources whence flow the persecutions of Maramma, --

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men strive to live together in gentle bonds of peace and charity; -- folly! folly!"

"Ay," said Media, "much is said of those people of Serenia; but their social fabric must soon fall to pieces; it is based upon the idlest of theories. Thanks for thy courtesy, old man, but we care not to visit thy isle. Our voyage has an object, which, something tells me, will not be gained by touching at thy shores. Elsewhere we may refit. Fare well! 'Tis breezing; set the sails! Farewell, old man."

"Nay, nay! think again; the distance is but small; the wind fair, -- but 'tis ever so, thither; -- come: we, people of Serenia, are most anxious to be seen of Mardi; so that if our manner of life seem good, all Mardi may live as we. In blessed Alma's name, I pray ye, come!"

"Shall we then, my lord?"

"Lead on, old man! We will e'en see this wondrous isle."

So, guided by the venerable stranger, by noon we descried an island blooming with bright savannas, and pensive with peaceful groves.

Wafted from this shore, came balm of flowers, and melody of birds: a thousand summer sounds and odors. The dimpled tide sang round our splintered prows; the sun was high in heaven, and the waters, were deep below.

"The land of Love!" the old man murmured, as we neared the beach, where innumerable shells were gently rolling in the playful surf, and murmuring from their tuneful valves. Behind, another, and a verdant surf played against lofty banks of leaves; where the breeze, likewise, found its shore.

And now, emerging from beneath the trees, there came a goodly multitude in flowing robes; palm-branches in their hands; and as they came, they sang:
    Hail! voyagers, hail!
Whence e'er ye come, where'er ye rove-,
    No calmer strand,
    No sweeter land,
Will e'er ye view, than the Land of Love!

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    Hail! voyagers, hail!
To these, our shores, soft gales invite:
    The palm plumes wave,
    The billows lave,
And hither point fix'd stars of light!

    Hail! voyagers, hail!
Think not our groves wide brood with gloom;
    In this, our isle,
    Bright flowers smile:
Full urns, rose-heaped, these valleys bloom.

    Hail! voyagers, hail!
Be not deceived; renounce vain things;
    Ye may not find
    A tranquil mind,
Though hence ye sail with swiftest wings.

    Hail! voyagers, hail!
Time flies full fast; life soon is o'er;
    And ye may mourn,
    That hither borne,
Ye left behind our pleasant shore.

[ 353 ]



The song was ended; and as we gained the strand, the crowd embraced us; and called us brothers; ourselves and our humblest attendants.

"Call ye us brothers, whom ere now ye never saw?"

"Even so," said the old man, "is not Oro the father of all? Then, are we not brothers? Thus Alma, the master, hath commanded."

"This was not our reception in Maramma," said Media, the appointed place of Alma; where his precepts are preserved."

"No, no," said Babbalanja; "old man! your lesson of brotherhood was learned elsewhere than from Alma; for in Maramma and in all its tributary isles true brotherhood there is none. Even in the Holy Island many are oppressed; for heresies, many murdered; and thousands perish beneath the altars, groaning with offerings that might relieve them."

"Alas! too true. But I beseech ye, judge not Alma by all those who profess his faith. Hast thou thyself his records searched?"

"Fully, I have not. So long, even from my infancy, have I witnessed the wrongs committed in his name; the sins and inconsistencies of his followers; that thinking all evil must flow from a congenial fountain, I have scorned to study the whole record of your Master's life. By parts I only know it."

"Ah! baneful error! But thus is it, brothers! that the

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wisest are set against the Truth, because of those who wrest it from itself."

"Do ye then claim to live what your Master hath spoken? Are your precepts practices?"

"Nothing do we claim: we but earnestly endeavor."

"Tell me not of your endeavors, but of your life. What hope for the fatherless among ye?"

"Adopted as a son."

"Of one poor, and naked?"

"Clothed, and he wants for naught."

"If ungrateful, he smite you?"

"Still we feed and clothe him."

"If yet an ingrate?"

"Long, he can not be; for Love is a fervent fire."

"But what, if widely he Dissent from your belief in Alma; -- then, surely, ye must cast him forth?"

"No, no; we will remember, that if he dissent from us, we then equally dissent from him; and men's faculties are Oro-given. Nor will we say that he is wrong, and we are right; for this we know not, absolutely. But we care not for men's words; we look for creeds in actions; which are the truthful symbols of the things within. He who hourly prays to Alma, but lives not up to world-wide love and charity that man is more an unbeliever than he who verbally rejects the Master, but does his bidding. Our lives are our Amens."

"But some say that what your Alma teaches is wholly new -- a revelation of things before unimagined, even by the poets. To do his bidding, then, some new faculty must be vouchsafed, whereby to apprehend aright."

"So have I always thought," said Mohi.

"If Alma teaches love, I want no gift to learn," said Yoomy.

"All that is vital in the Master's faith, lived here in Mardi, and in humble dells was practiced, long previous to the Master's coming. But never before was virtue so lifted

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up among us, that all might see; never before did rays from heaven descend to glorify it. But are Truth, Justice, and Love, the revelations of Alma alone? Were they never heard of till he came? Oh! Alma but opens unto us our own hearts. Were his precepts strange we would recoil 00 not one feeling would respond; whereas, once hearkened to, our souls embrace them as with the instinctive tendrils of a vine."

"But," said Babbalanja, "since Alma, they say, was solely intent upon the things of the Mardi to come -- which to all, must seem uncertain -- of what benefit his precepts for the daily lives led here?"

"Would! would that Alma might once more descend! Brother! were the turf our everlasting pillow, still would the Master's faith answer a blessed end; making us more truly happy here. That is the first and chief result; for holy here, we must be holy elsewhere. 'Tis Mardi, to which loved Alma gives his laws; not Paradise."

"Full soon will I be testing all these things," murmured Mohi.

"Old man," said Media, " thy years and Mohi's lead ye both to dwell upon the unknown future. But speak to me of other themes. Tell me of this island and its people. From all I have heard, and now behold, I gather that here, there dwells no king; that ye are left to yourselves; and that this mystic Love, ye speak of, is your ruler. Is it so? Then, are ye full as visionary, as Mardi rumors. And though for a time, ye may have prospered, long, ye can not be, without some sharp lesson to convince ye, that your faith in Mardian virtue is entirely vain."

"Truth. We have no king; for Alma's precepts rebuke the arrogance of place and power. He is the tribune of mankind; nor will his true faith be universal Mardi's, till our whole race is kingless. But think not we believe in man's perfection. Yet, against all good, he is not absolutely set. In his heart, there is a germ. we seek to foster. To that we cling; else, all were hopeless!"

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"Your social state?"

"It is imperfect; and long must so remain. But we make not the miserable, many support the happy few. Nor by annulling reason's laws, seek to breed equality, by breeding anarchy. In all things, equality is not for all. Each has his own. Some have wider groves of palms than others; fare better; dwell in more tasteful arbors; oftener renew their fragrant thatch. Such differences must be. But none starve outright, while others feast. By the abounding, the needy are supplied. Yet not by statute, but from dictates, born half dormant in us, and warmed into life by Alma. Those dictates we but follow in all we do; we are not dragged to righteousness; but go running. Nor do we live in common. For vice and virtue blindly mingled, form a union where vice too often proves the alkali. The vicious we make dwell apart, until reclaimed. And reclaimed they soon must be, since every thing invites. The sin of others rests not upon our heads: none we drive to crime. Our laws are not of vengeance bred, but Love and Alma."

"Fine poetry all this," said Babbalanja, "but not so new. Oft do they warble thus in bland Maramma!"

"It sounds famously, old man!" said Media, "but men are men. Some must starve; some be scourged. Your doctrines are impracticable."

"And are not these things enjoined by Alma? And would Alma inculcate the impossible? of what merit, his precepts, unless they may be practiced? But, I beseech ye, speak no more of Maramma. Alas! did Alma revisit Mardi, think you, it would be among those Morais he would lay his head?"

"No, no," said Babbalanja, "as an intruder he came; and an intruder would he be this day. On all sides, would he jar our social systems."

"Not here, not here! Rather would we welcome Alma hungry and athirst, than though he came floating hither on the wings of seraphs; the blazing zodiac his diadem! In

                                                M A R D I.                                                 357

all his aspects we adore him; needing no pomp and power to kindle worship. Though he came from Oro; though he did miracles; though through him is life; -- not for these things alone, do we thus love him. We love him from an instinct in us; -- a fond, filial, reverential feeling. And this would yet stir in our souls, were death our end; and Alma incapable of befriending us. We love him because we do."

"Is this man divine?" murmured Babbalanja. "But thou speakest most earnestly of adoring Alma: -- I see no temples in your groves."

"Because this isle is all one temple to his praise; every leaf is consecrated his. We fix not Alma here and there; and say, -- 'those groves for Him, and these broad fields for us.' It is all his own; and we ourselves; our every hour of life; and all we are, and have."

"Then, ye forever fast and pray; and stand and sing; as at long intervals the censer-bearers in Maramma supplicate their gods."

"Alma forbid! We never fast; our aspirations are our prayers; our lives are worship. And when we laugh, with human joy at human things, -- then do we most sound great Oro's praise, and prove the merit of sweet Alma's love! Our love in Alma makes us glad, not sad. Ye speak of temples; behold! 'tis by not building them, that we widen charity among us. The treasures which, in the islands round about, are lavished on a thousand fanes; -- with these we every day relieve the Master's suffering disciples. In Mardi, Alma preached in open fields, -- and must his worshipers have palaces?"

"No temples, then no priests;" said Babbalanja, "for few priests will enter where lordly arches form not the portal."

"We have no priests, but one; and he is Alma's self. We have his precepts: we seek no comments but our hearts."

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"But without priests and temples, how long will flourish this your faith?" said Media.

"For many ages has not this faith lived, in spite of priests and temples? and shall it not survive them? What we believe, we hold divine; and things divine endure for ever."

"But how enlarge your bounds? how convert the vicious, without persuasion of some special seers? Must your religion go hand in hand with all things secular?"

"We hold not, that one man's words should be a gospel to the rest; but that Alma's words should be a gospel to us all. And not by precepts would we have some few endeavor to persuade; but all, by practice, fix convictions, that the life we lead is the life for all. We are apostles, every one. Where'er we go, our faith we carry in our hands, and hearts. It is our chiefest joy. We do not put it wide away six days out of seven; and then, assume it. In it we all exult, and joy; as that which makes us happy here; as that, without which, we could be happy nowhere; as something meant for this time present, and henceforth for aye. It is our vital mode of being; not an incident. And when we die, this faith shall be our pillow; and when we rise, our staff; and at the end, our crown. For we are all immortal. Here, Alma joins with our own hearts, confirming nature's promptings."

"How eloquent he is!" murmured Babbalanja. "Some black cloud seems floating from me. I begin to see. I come out in light. The sharp fang tears me less. The forked flames wane. My soul sets back like ocean streams, that sudden change their flow. Have I been sane? Quickened in me is a hope. But pray you, old man --say on -- methinks, that in your faith must be much that jars with reason."

"No, brother! Right-reason, and Alma, are the same; else Alma, not reason, would we reject. The Master's great command is Love; and here do all things wise, and all

                                                M A R D I.                                                 359

things good, unite. Love is all in all. The more we love, the more we know; and so reversed. Oro we love; this isle; and our wide arms embrace all Mardi like its' reef. How can we err, thus feeling? We hear loved Alma's pleading, prompting voice, in every breeze, in every leaf; we see his earnest eye in every star and flower."

"Poetry!" cried Yoomy, "and poetry is truth! He stirs me."

"When Alma dwelt in Mardi, 'twas with the poor and friendless. He fed the famishing; he healed the sick; he bound up wounds. For every precept that he spoke, he did ten thousand mercies. And Alma is our loved example."

"Sure, all this is in the histories!" said Mohi, starting.

"But not alone to poor and friendless, did Alma wend his charitable way. From lowly places, he looked up; and long invoked great chieftains in their state; and told them all their pride was vanity; and bade them ask their souls. 'In me,' he cried, 'is that heart of mild content, which in vain ye seek in rank and title. I am Love: love ye then me.'"

"Cease, cease, old man!" cried Media; "thou movest me beyond my seeming. What thoughts are these? Have done! Wouldst thou unking me?"

"Alma is for all; for high and low. Like heaven's own breeze, he lifts the lily from its lowly stem, and sweeps, reviving, through the palmy groves. High thoughts he gives the sage, and humble trust the simple. Be the measure what it may, his grace doth fill it to the brim. He lays the lashings of the soul's wild aspirations after things unseen; oil he poureth on the waters; and stars come out of night's black concave at his great command. In him is hope for all; for all, unbounded joys. Fast locked in his loved clasp, no doubts dismay. He opes the eye of faith, and shuts the eye of fear. He is all we pray for, and beyond; all, that in the wildest hour of ecstasy, rapt fancy paints in bright Auroras upon the soul's wide, boundless Orient!"

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"Oh, Alma, Alma! prince divine!" cried Babbalanja, sinking on his knees -- "in thee, at last, I find repose. Hope perches in my heart a dove; -- a thousand rays illume; -- all Heaven's a sun. Gone, gone! are all distracting doubts. Love and Alma now prevail. I see with other eyes: -- Are these my hands? What wild, wild dreams were mine; -- I have been mad. Some things there are, we must not think of. Beyond one obvious mark, all human lore is vain. Where have I lived till now? Had dark Maramma's zealot tribe but murmured to me as this old man, long since had I been wise! Reason no longer domineers; but still doth speak. All I have said ere this, that wars with Alma's precepts, I here recant. Here I kneel, and own great Oro and his sovereign son."

"And here another kneels and prays," cried Yoomy. "In Alma all my dreams are found, my inner longings for the Love supreme, that prompts my every verse. Summer is in my soul."

"Nor now, too late for these gray hairs," cried Mohi, with devotion. "Alma, thy breath is on my soul. I see bright light."

"No more a demigod," cried Media, "but a subject to our common chief. No more shall dismal cries be heard from Odo's groves. Alma, I am thine."

With swimming eyes the old man kneeled; and round him grouped king, sage, gray hairs, and youth.

There, as they kneeled, and as the old man blessed them, the setting sun burst forth from mists, gilded the island round about, shed rays upon their heads, and went down in a glory all the East radiant with red burnings, like an altar-fire....

Herman Melville

The Confidence-Man...

(NYC: Dix, Edwards & Co., 1857)

Ch. 01   Ch. 02   Ch. 03
Ch. 04   Ch. 05   Ch. 06
Ch. 07   Ch. 08   Ch. 09
Ch. 10   Ch. 11   Ch. 12

Transcriber's comments

[ 1 ]




At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared, suddenly as Manco Capac at the lake Titicaca, a man in cream-colors, at the water-side in the city of St. Louis.

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger.

In the same moment with his advent, he stepped aboard the favorite steamer Fidèle, on the point of starting for New Orleans. Stared at, but unsaluted, with the air of one neither courting nor shunning regard, but evenly pursuing the path of duty, lead it through solitudes or cities, he held on his way along

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the lower deck until he chanced to come to a placard nigh the captain's office, offering a reward for the capture of a mysterious impostor, supposed to have recently arrived from the East; quite an original genius in his vocation, as would appear, though wherein his originality consisted was not clearly given; but what purported to be a careful description of his person followed.

As if it had been a theatre-bill, crowds were gathered about the announcement, and among them certain chevaliers, whose eyes, it was plain, were on the capitals, or, at least, earnestly seeking sight of them from behind intervening coats; but as for their fingers, they were enveloped in some myth; though, during a chance interval, one of these chevaliers somewhat showed his hand in purchasing from another chevalier, ex-officio a peddler of money-belts, one of his popular safe-guards, while another peddler, who was still another versatile chevalier, hawked, in the thick of the throng, the lives of Measan, the bandit of Ohio, Murrel, the pirate of the Mississippi, and the brothers Harpe, the Thugs of the Green River country, in Kentucky -- creatures, with others of the sort, one and all exterminated at the time, and for the most part, like the hunted generations of wolves in the same regions, leaving comparatively few successors; which would seem cause for unalloyed gratulation, and is such to all except those who think that in new countries, where the wolves are killed off, the foxes increase.

Pausing at this spot, the stranger so far succeeded

                          A  MUTE  GOES  ABOARD  A  BOAT,  ETC.                           3

in threading his way, as at last to plant himself just beside the placard, when, producing a small slate and tracing some words upon if, he held it up before him on a level with the placard, so that they who read the one might read the other. The words were these: --
"Charity thinketh no evil." As, in gaining his place, some little perseverance, not to say persistence, of a mildly inoffensive sort, had been unavoidable, it was not with the best relish that the crowd regarded his apparent intrusion; and upon a more attentive survey, perceiving no badge of authority about him, but rather something quite the contrary -- he being of an aspect so singularly innocent; an aspect too, which they took to be somehow inappropriate to the time and place, and inclining to the notion that his writing was of much the same sort: in short, taking him for some strange kind of simpleton, harmless enough, would he keep to himself, but not wholly unobnoxious as an intruder -- they made no scruple to jostle him aside; while one, less kind than the rest, or more of a wag, by an unobserved stroke, dexterously flattened down his fleecy hat upon his head. Without readjusting it, the stranger quietly turned, and writing anew upon the slate, again held it up: --
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind." Illy pleased with his pertinacity, as they thought it, the crowd a second time thrust him aside, and not without epithets and some buffets, all of which were

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unresented. But, as if at last despairing of so difficult an adventure, wherein one, apparently a non-resistant, sought to impose his presence upon fighting characters, the stranger now moved slowly away, yet not before altering his writing to this: --
"Charity endureth all things." Shield-like bearing his slate before him, amid stares and jeers he moved slowly up and down, at his turning points again changing his inscription to --
"Charity believeth all things." and then --
"Charity never faileth." The word charity, as originally traced, remained throughout uneffaced, not unlike the left-hand numeral of a printed date, otherwise left for convenience in blank.

To some observers, the singularity, if not lunacy, of the stranger was heightened by his muteness, and, perhaps also, by the contrast to his proceedings afforded in the actions -- quite in the wonted and sensible order of things -- of the barber of the boat, whose quarters, under a smoking-saloon, and over against a bar-room, was next door but two to the captain's office. As if the long, wide, covered deck, hereabouts built up on both sides with shop-like windowed spaces, were some Constantinople arcade or bazaar, where more than one trade is plied, this river barber, aproned and slippered, but rather crusty-looking for the moment, it may be from being newly out of bed, was throwing open his

                          A  MUTE  GOES  ABOARD  A  BOAT,  ETC.                           5

premises for the day, and suitably arranging the exterior. With business-like dispatch, having rattled down his shutters, and at a palm-tree angle set out in the iron fixture his little ornamental pole, and this without overmuch tenderness for the elbows and toes of the crowd, he concluded his operations by bidding people stand still more aside, when, jumping on a stool, he hung over his door, on the customary nail, a gaudy sort of illuminated pasteboard sign, skillfully executed by himself, gilt with the likeness of a razor elbowed in readiness to shave, and also, for the public benefit, with two words not unfrequently seen ashore gracing other shops besides barbers': --
"NO TRUST." An inscription which, though in a sense not less intrusive than the contrasted ones of the stranger, did not, as it seemed, provoke any corresponding derision or surprise, much less indignation; and still less, to all appearances, did it gain for the inscriber the repute of being a simpleton.

Meanwhile, he with the slate continued moving slowly up and down, not without causing some stares to change into jeers, and some jeers into pushes, and some pushes into punches; when suddenly, in one of his turns, he was hailed from behind by two porters carrying a large trunk; but as the summons, though loud, was without effect, they accidentally or otherwise swung their burden against him, nearly overthrowing him; when, by a quick start, a peculiar inarticulate moan, and a pathetic telegraphing of his fingers, he

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involuntarily betrayed that he was not alone dumb, but also deaf.

Presently, as if not wholly unaffected by his reception thus far, he went forward, seating himself in a retired spot on the forecastle, nigh the foot of a ladder there leading to a deck above, up and down which ladder some of the boatmen, in discharge of their duties, were occasionally going.

From his betaking himself to this humble quarter, it was evident that, as a deck-passenger, the stranger, simple though he seemed, was not entirely ignorant of his place, though his taking a deck-passage might have been partly for convenience; as, from his having no luggage, it was probable that his destination was one of the small wayside landings within a few hours' sail. But, though he might not have a long way to go, yet he seemed already to have come from a very long distance.

Though neither soiled nor slovenly, his cream-colored suit had a tossed look, almost linty, as if, traveling night and day from some far country beyond the prairies, he had long been without the solace of a bed. His aspect was at once gentle and jaded, and, from the moment of seating himself, increasing in tired abstraction and dreaminess. Gradually overtaken by slumber, his flaxen head drooped, his whole lamb-like figure relaxed, and, half reclining against the ladder's foot, lay motionless, as some sugar-snow in March, which, softly stealing down over night, with its white placidity startles the brown farmer peering out from his threshold at daybreak.

[ 7 ]



"Odd fish!"
"Poor fellow!"
"Who can he be?"
"Casper Hauser."
"Bless my soul!"
"Uncommon countenance."
"Green prophet from Utah."
"Singular innocence."
"Means something."
"Trying to enlist interest."
"Beware of him."
"Fast asleep here, and, doubtless, pick-pockets on board."
"Kind of daylight Endymion."
"Escaped convict, worn out with dodging."
"Jacob dreaming at Luz."

Such the epitaphic comments, conflictingly spoken or thought, of a miscellaneous company, who, assembled

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on the overlooking, cross-wise balcony at the forward end of the upper deck near by, had not witnessed preceding occurrences.

Meantime, like some enchanted man in his grave, happily oblivious of all gossip, whether chiseled or chatted, the deaf and dumb stranger still tranquilly slept, while now the boat started on her voyage.

The great ship-canal of Ving-King-Ching, in the Flowery Kingdom, seems the Mississippi in parts, where, amply flowing between low, vine-tangled banks, flat as tow-paths, it bears the huge toppling steamers, bedizened and lacquered within like imperial junks.

Pierced along its great white bulk with two tiers of small embrasure-like windows, well above the waterline, the Fidèle, though, might at distance have been taken by strangers for some whitewashed fort on a floating isle.

Merchants on 'change seem the passengers that buzz on her decks, while, from quarters unseen, comes a murmur as of bees in the comb. Fine promenades, domed saloons, long galleries, sunny balconies, confidential passages, bridal chambers, state-rooms plenty as pigeon-holes, and out-of-the-way retreats like secret drawers in an escritoire, present like facilities for publicity or privacy. Auctioneer or coiner, with equal ease, might somewhere here drive his trade.

Though her voyage of twelve hundred miles extends from apple to orange, from clime to clime, yet, like any small ferry-boat, to right and left, at every landing,

                              MANY  MEN  HAVE  MANY  MINDS.                               9

the huge Fidèle still receives additional passengers in exchange for those that disembark; so that, though always full of strangers, she continually, in some degree, adds to, or replaces them with strangers still more strange; like Rio Janeiro fountain, fed from the Cocovarde mountains, which is ever overflowing with strange waters, but never with the same strange particles in every part.

Though hitherto, as has been seen, the man in cream-colors had by no means passed unobserved, yet by stealing into retirement, and there going asleep and continuing so, he seemed to have courted oblivion, a boon not often withheld from so humble an applicant as he. Those staring crowds on the shore were now left far behind, seen dimly clustering like swallows on eaves; while the passengers' attention was soon drawn away to the rapidly shooting high bluffs and shot-towers on the Missouri shore, or the bluff-looking Missourians and towering Kentuckians among the throngs on the decks.

By-and-by -- two or three random stoppages having been made, and the last transient memory of the slumberer vanished, and he himself, not unlikely, waked up and landed ere now -- the crowd, as is usual, began in all parts to break up from a concourse into various clusters or squads, which in some cases disintegrated again into quartettes, trios, and couples, or even solitaires; involuntarily submitting to that natural law which ordains dissolution equally to the mass, as in time to the member.

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As among Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims, or those oriental ones crossing the Red Sea towards Mecca in the festival month, there was no lack of variety. Natives of all sorts, and foreigners; men of business and men of pleasure; parlor men and backwoodsmen; farm-hunters and fame-hunters; heiress-hunters, gold-hunters, buffalo-hunters, bee-hunters, happiness-hunters, truth-hunters, and still keener hunters after all these hunters. Fine ladies in slippers, and moccasined squaws; Northern speculators and Eastern philosophers; English, Irish, German, Scotch, Danes; Santa Fé traders in striped blankets, and Broadway bucks in cravats of cloth of gold; fine-looking Kentucky boatmen, and Japanese-looking Mississippi cotton-planters; Quakers in full drab, and United States soldiers in full regimentals; slaves, black, mulatto, quadroon; modish young Spanish Creoles, and old-fashioned French Jews; Mormons and Papists; Dives and Lazarus; jesters and mourners, teetotalers and convivialists, deacons and blacklegs; hard-shell Baptists and clay-eaters; grinning negroes, and Sioux chiefs solemn as high-priests. In short, a piebald parliament, an Anacharsis Cloots congress of all kinds of that multiform pilgrim species, man.

As pine, beech, birch, ash, hackmatack, hemlock, spruce, bass-wood, maple, interweave their foliage in the natural wood, so these mortals blended their varieties of visage and garb. A Tartar-like picturesqueness; a sort of pagan abandonment and assurance. Here reigned the dashing and all-fusing spirit

                              MANY  MEN  HAVE  MANY  MINDS.                               11

of the West, whose type is the Mississippi itself, which, uniting the streams of the most distant and opposite zones, pours them along, helter-skelter, in one cosmopolitan and confident tide.

[ 12 ]



In the forward part of the boat, not the least attractive object, for a time, was a grotesque negro cripple, in tow-cloth attire and an old coal-sifter of a tamborine in his hand, who, owing to something wrong about his legs, was, in effect, cut down to the stature of a Newfoundland dog; his knotted black fleece and good-natured, honest black face rubbing against the upper part of people's thighs as he made shift to shuffle about, making music, such as it was, and raising a smile even from the gravest. It was curious to see him, out of his very deformity, indigence, and houselessness, so cheerily endured, raising mirth in some of that crowd, whose own purses, hearths, hearts, all their possessions, sound limbs included, could not make gay.

"What is your name, old boy?" said a purple-faced drover, putting his large purple hand on the cripple's bushy wool, as if it were the curled forehead of a black steer.

"Der Black Guinea dey calls me, sar."

"And who is your master, Guinea?"

"Oh sar, I am der dog widout massa."

                          A  VARIETY  OF  CHARACTERS  APPEAR.                           13

"A free dog, eh? Well, on your account, I'm sorry for that, Guinea. Dogs without masters fare hard."

"So dey do, sar; so dey do. But you see, sar, dese here legs? What ge'mman want to own dese here legs?"

"But where do you live?"

"All 'long shore, sar; dough now. I'se going to see brodder at der landing; but chiefly I libs in dey city."

"St. Louis, ah? Where do you sleep there of nights?"

"On der floor of der good baker's oven, sar."

"In an oven? whose, pray? What baker, I should like to know, bakes such black bread in his oven, alongside of his nice white rolls, too. Who is that too charitable baker, pray?"

"Dar he be," with a broad grin lifting his tambourine high over his head.

"The sun is the baker, eh?"

"Yes sar, in der city dat good baker warms der stones for dis ole darkie when he sleeps out on der pabements o' nights."

"But that must be in the summer only, old boy. How about winter, when the cold Cossacks come clattering and jingling? How about winter, old boy?"

"Den dis poor old darkie shakes werry bad, I tell you, sar. Oh sar, oh! don't speak ob der winter," he added, with a reminiscent shiver, shuffling off into the thickest of the crowd, like a half-frozen black sheep

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nudging itself a cozy berth in the heart of the white flock.

Thus far not very many pennies had been given him, and, used at last to his strange looks, the less polite passengers of those in that part of the boat began to get their fill of him as a curious object; when suddenly the negro more than revived their first interest by an expedient which, whether by chance or design, was a singular temptation at once to diversion and charity, though, even more than his crippled limbs, it put him on a canine footing. In short, as in appearance he seemed a dog, so now, in a merry way, like a dog he began to be treated. Still shuffling among the crowd, now and then he would pause, throwing back his head and, opening his mouth like an elephant for tossed apples at a menagerie; when, making a space before him, people would have a bout at a strange sort of pitch-penny game, the cripple's mouth being at once target and purse, and he hailing each expertly-caught copper with a cracked bravura from his tambourine. To be the subject of alms-giving is trying, and to feel in duty bound to appear cheerfully grateful under the trial, must be still more so; but whatever his secret emotions, he swallowed them, while still retaining each copper this side the œsophagus. And nearly always he grinned, and only once or twice did he wince, which was when certain coins, tossed by more playful almoners, came inconveniently nigh to his teeth, an accident whose unwelcomeness was not unedged by the circumstance that the pennies thus thrown proved buttons.

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While this game of charity was yet at its height, a limping, gimlet-eyed, sour-faced person -- it may be some discharged custom-house officer, who, suddenly stripped of convenient means of support, had concluded to be avenged on government and humanity by making himself miserable for life, either by hating or suspecting everything and everybody -- this shallow unfortunate, after sundry sorry observations of the negro, began to croak out something about his deformity being a sham, got up for financial purposes, which immediately threw a damp upon the frolic benignities of the pitch-penny players.

But that these suspicions came from one who himself on a wooden leg went halt, this did not appear to strike anybody present. That cripples, above all men should be companionable, or, at least, refrain from picking a fellow-limper to pieces, in short, should have a little sympathy in common misfortune, seemed not to occur to the company.

Meantime, the negro's countenance, before marked with even more than patient good-nature, drooped into a heavy-hearted expression, full of the most painful distress. So far abased beneath its proper physical level, that Newfoundland-dog face turned in passively hopeless appeal, as if instinct told it that the right or the wrong might not have overmuch to do with whatever wayward mood superior intelligences might yield to.

But instinct, though knowing, is yet a teacher set below reason, which itself says, in the grave words of

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Lysander in the comedy, after Puck has made a sage of him with his spell: --
"The will of man is by his reason swayed." So that, suddenly change as people may, in their dispositions, it is not always waywardness, but improved judgment, which, as in Lysander's case, or the present, operates with them.

Yes, they began to scrutinize the negro curiously enough; when, emboldened by this evidence of the efficacy of his words, the wooden-legged man hobbled up to the negro, and, with the air of a beadle, would, to prove his alleged imposture on the spot, have stripped him and then driven him away, but was prevented by the crowd's clamor, now taking part with the poor fellow, against one who had just before turned nearly all minds the other way. So he with the wooden leg was forced to retire; when the rest, finding themselves left sole judges in the case, could not resist the opportunity of acting the part: not because it is a human weakness to take pleasure in sitting in judgment upon one in a box, as surely this unfortunate negro now was, but that it strangely sharpens human perceptions, when, instead of standing by and having their fellow-feelings touched by the sight of an alleged culprit severely handled by some one justiciary, a crowd suddenly come to be all justiciaries in the same case themselves; as in Arkansas once, a man proved guilty, by law, of murder, but whose condemnation was deemed

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unjust by the people, so that they rescued him to try him themselves; whereupon, they, as it turned out, found him even guiltier than the court had done, and forthwith proceeded to execution; so that the gallows presented the truly warning spectacle of a man hanged by his friends.

But not to such extremities, or anything like them, did the present crowd come; they, for the time, being content with putting the negro fairly and discreetly to the question; among other things, asking him, had he any documentary proof, any plain paper about him, attesting that his case was not a spurious one.

"No, no, dis poor ole darkie haint none o' dem waloable papers," he wailed.

"But is there not some one who can speak a good word for you?" here said a person newly arrived from another part of the boat, a young Episcopal clergyman, in a long, straight-bodied black coat; small in stature, but manly; with a clear face and blue eye; innocence, tenderness, and good sense triumvirate in his air.

"Oh yes, oh yes, ge'mmen," he eagerly answered, as if his memory, before suddenly frozen up by cold charity, as suddenly thawed back into fluidity at the first kindly word. "Oh yes, oh yes, dar is aboard here a werry nice, good ge'mman wid a weed, and a ge'mman in a gray coat and white tie, what knows all about me; and a ge'mman wid a big book, too; and a yarb-doctor; and a ge'mman in a yaller west; and a ge'mman wid a brass plate; and a ge'mman in a wiolet robe; and a ge'mman as is a sodjer; and ever so many good, kind,

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honest ge'mmen more aboard what knows me and will speak for me, God bress 'em; yes, and what knows me as well as dis poor old darkie knows hisself, God bress him! Oh, find 'em, find 'em," he earnestly added, "and let 'em come quick, and show you all, ge'mmen, dat dis poor ole darkie is werry well wordy of all you kind ge'mmen's kind confidence."

"But how are we to find all these people in this great crowd?" was the question of a bystander, umbrella in hand; a middle-aged person, a country merchant apparently, whose natural good-feeling had been made at least cautious by the unnatural ill-feeling of the discharged custom-house officer.

"Where are we to find them?" half-rebukefully echoed the young Episcopal clergymen. "I will go find one to begin with," he quickly added, and, with kind haste suiting the action to the word, away he went.

"Wild goose chase!" croaked he with the wooden leg, now again drawing nigh. "Don't believe there's a soul of them aboard. Did ever beggar have such heaps of fine friends? He can walk fast enough when he tries, a good deal faster than I; but he can lie yet faster. He's some white operator, betwisted and painted up for a decoy. He and his friends are all humbugs."

"Have you no charity, friend?" here in self-subdued tones, singularly contrasted with his unsubdued person, said a Methodist minister, advancing; a tall, muscular, martial-looking man, a Tennessean by birth, who in the

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Mexican war had been volunteer chaplain to a volunteer rifle-regiment.

"Charity is one thing, and truth is another," rejoined he with the wooden leg: "he's a rascal, I say."

"But why not, friend, put as charitable a construction as one can upon the poor fellow?" said the soldierlike Methodist, with increased difficulty maintaining a pacific demeanor towards one whose own asperity seemed so little to entitle him to it: "he looks honest, don't he?"

"Looks are one thing, and facts are another," snapped out the other perversely; "and as to your constructions, what construction can you put upon a rascal, but that a rascal he is?"

"Be not such a Canada thistle," urged the Methodist, with something less of patience than before. "Charity, man, charity."

"To where it belongs with your charity! to heaven with it!" again snapped out the other, diabolically; "here on earth, true charity dotes, and false charity plots. Who betrays a fool with a kiss, the charitable fool has the charity to believe is in love with him, and the charitable knave on the stand gives charitable testimony for his comrade in the box."

"Surely, friend," returned the noble Methodist, with much ado restraining his still waxing indignation -- "surely, to say the least, you forget yourself. Apply it home," he continued, with exterior calmness tremulous with inkept emotion. "Suppose, now, I should exercise no charity in judging your own character by

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the words which have fallen from you; what sort of vile, pitiless man do you think I would take you for?"

"No doubt" -- with a grin -- "some such pitiless man as has lost his piety in much the same way that the jockey loses his honesty."

"And how is that, friend?" still conscientiously holding back the old Adam in him, as if it were a mastiff he had by the neck.

"Never you mind how it is" -- with a sneer; "but all horses aint virtuous, no more than all men kind; and come close to, and much dealt with, some things are catching. When you find me a virtuous jockey, I will find you a benevolent wise man."

"Some insinuation there."

"More fool you that are puzzled by it."

"Reprobate!" cried the other, his indignation now at last almost boiling over; "godless reprobate! if charity did not restrain me, I could call you by names you deserve."

"Could you, indeed?" with an insolent sneer.

"Yea, and teach you charity on the spot," cried the goaded Methodist, suddenly catching this exasperating opponent by his shabby coat-collar, and shaking him till his timber-toe clattered on the deck like a nine-pin. "You took me for a non-combatant did you? -- thought, seedy coward that you are, that you could abuse a Christian with impunity. You find your mistake" -- with another hearty shake.

"Well said and better done, church militant!" cried a voice.

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"The white cravat against the world!" cried another.

"Bravo, bravo!" chorused many voices, with like enthusiasm taking sides with the resolute champion.

"You fools!" cried he with the wooden leg, writhing himself loose and inflamedly turning upon the throng; "you flock of fools, under this captain of fools, in this ship of fools!"

With which exclamations, followed by idle threats against his admonisher, this condign victim to justice hobbled away, as disdaining to hold further argument with such a rabble. But his scorn was more than repaid by the hisses that chased him, in which the brave Methodist, satisfied with the rebuke already administered, was, to omit still better reasons, too magnanimous to join. All he said was, pointing towards the departing recusant, "There he shambles off on his one lone leg, emblematic of his one-sided view of humanity."

"But trust your painted decoy," retorted the other from a distance, pointing back to the black cripple, "and I have my revenge."

"But we aint agoing to trust him!" shouted back a voice.

"So much the better," he jeered back. "Look you," he added, coming to a dead halt where he was; "look you, I have been called a Canada thistle. Very good. And a seedy one: still better. And the seedy Canada thistle has been pretty well shaken among ye: best of all. Dare say some seed has been shaken out;

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and won't it spring though? And when it does spring, do you cut down the young thistles, and won't they spring the more? It's encouraging and coaxing 'em. Now, when with my thistles your farms shall be well stocked, why then -- you may abandon 'em!"

"What does all that mean, now?" asked the country merchant, staring.

"Nothing; the foiled wolf's parting howl," said the Methodist. "Spleen, much spleen, which is the rickety child of his evil heart of unbelief: it has made him mad. I suspect him for one naturally reprobate. Oh, friends," raising his arms as in the pulpit, "oh beloved, how are we admonished by the melancholy spectacle of this raver. Let us profit by the lesson; and is it not this: that if, next to mistrusting Providence, there be aught that man should pray against, it is against mistrusting his fellow-man. I have been in mad-houses full of tragic mopers, and seen there the end of suspicion: the cynic, in the moody madness muttering in the corner; for years a barren fixture there; head lopped over, gnawing his own lip, vulture of himself; while, by fits and starts, from the corner opposite came the grimace of the idiot at him."

"What an example," whispered one.

"Might deter Timon," was the response.

"Oh, oh, good ge'mmen, have you no confidence in dis poor ole darkie?" now wailed the returning negro, who, during the late scene, had stumped apart in alarm.

"Confidence in you?" echoed he who had whispered,

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with abruptly changed air turning short round; "that remains to be seen."

"I tell you what it is, Ebony," in similarly changed tones said he who had responded to the whisperer, "yonder churl," pointing toward the wooden leg in the distance, "is, no doubt, a churlish fellow enough, and I would not wish to be like him; but that is no reason why you may not be some sort of black Jeremy Diddler."

"No confidence in dis poor ole darkie, den?"

"Before giving you our confidence," said a third, "we will wait the report of the kind gentleman who went in search of one of your friends who was to speak for you."

"Very likely, in that case," said a fourth, "we shall wait here till Christmas. Shouldn't wonder, did we not see that kind gentleman again. After seeking awhile in vain, he will conclude he has been made a fool of, and so not return to us for pure shame. Fact is, I begin to feel a little qualmish about the darkie myself. Something queer about this darkie, depend upon it."

Once more the negro wailed, and turning in despair from the last speaker, imploringly caught the Methodist by the skirt of his coat. But a change had come over that before impassioned intercessor. With an irresolute and troubled air, he mutely eyed the suppliant; against whom, somehow, by what seemed instinctive influences, the distrusts first set on foot were now generally reviving, and, if anything, with added severity.

"No confidence in dis poor ole darkie," yet again

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wailed the negro, letting go the coat-skirts and turning appealingly all round him.

"Yes, my poor fellow I have confidence in you," now exclaimed the country merchant before named, whom the negro's appeal, coming so piteously on the heel of pitilessness, seemed at last humanely to have decided in his favor. "And here, here is some proof of my trust," with which, tucking his umbrella under his arm, and diving down his hand into his pocket, he fished forth a purse, and, accidentally, along with it, his business card, which, unobserved, dropped to the deck. "Here, here, my poor fellow," he continued, extending a half dollar.

Not more grateful for the coin than the kindness, the cripple's face glowed like a polished copper saucepan, and shuffling a pace nigher, with one upstretched hand he received the alms, while, as unconsciously, his one advanced leather stump covered the card.

Done in despite of the general sentiment, the good deed of the merchant was not, perhaps, without its unwelcome return from the crowd, since that good deed seemed somehow to convey to them a sort of reproach. Still again, and more pertinaciously than ever, the cry arose against the negro, and still again he wailed forth his lament and appeal among other things, repeating that the friends, of whom already he had partially run off the list, would freely speak for him, would anybody go find them.

"Why don't you go find 'em yourself?" demanded a gruff boatman.

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"How can I go find 'em myself? Dis poor ole game-legged darkie's friends must come to him. Oh, whar, whar is dat good friend of dis darkie's, dat good man wid de weed?"

At this point, a steward ringing a bell came along, summoning all persons who had not got their tickets to step to the captain's office; an announcement which speedily thinned the throng about the black cripple, who himself soon forlornly stumped out of sight, probably on much the same errand as the rest.

[ 26 ]



"How do you do, Mr. Roberts?"


"Don't you know me?"

"No, certainly."

The crowd about the captain's office, having in good time melted away, the above encounter took place in one of the side balconies astern, between a man in mourning clean and respectable, but none of the glossiest, a long weed on his hat, and the country-merchant before-mentioned, whom, with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, the former had accosted.

"Is it possible, my dear sir," resumed he with the weed, "that you do not recall my countenance? why yours I recall distinctly as if but half an hour, instead of half an age, had passed since I saw you. Don't you recall me, now? Look harder."

"In my conscience -- truly -- I protest," honestly bewildered, "bless my soul, sir, I don't know you -- really, really. But stay, stay," he hurriedly added, not without gratification, glancing up at the crape on the stranger's hat, "stay -- yes -- seems to me, though I have

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not the pleasure of personally knowing you, yet I am pretty sure I have at least heard of you, and recently too, quite recently. A poor negro aboard here referred to you, among others, for a character, I think."

"Oh, the cripple. Poor fellow. I know him well. They found me. I have said all I could for him. I think I abated their distrust. Would I could have been of more substantial service. And apropos, sir," he added, "now that it strikes me, allow me to ask, whether the circumstance of one man, however humble, referring for a character to another man, however afflicted, does not argue more or less of moral worth in the latter?"

The good merchant looked puzzled.

"Still you don't recall my countenance?"

"Still does truth compel me to say that I cannot, despite my best efforts," was the reluctantly-candid reply.

"Can I be so changed? Look at me. Or is it I who am mistaken? -- Are you not, sir, Henry Roberts, forwarding merchant, of Wheeling, Pennsylvania? Pray, now, if you use the advertisement of business cards, and happen to have one with you, just look at it, and see whether you are not the man I take you for."

"Why," a bit chafed, perhaps, "I hope I know myself."

"And yet self-knowledge is thought by some not so easy. Who knows, my dear sir, but for a time you may have taken yourself for somebody else? Stranger things have happened."

The good merchant stared.

"To come to particulars, my dear sir, I met you, now

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some six years back, at Brade Brothers & Co's office, I think. I was traveling for a Philadelphia house. The senior Brade introduced us, you remember; some business-chat followed, then you forced me home with you to a family tea, and a family time we had. Have you forgotten about the urn, and what I said about Werter's Charlotte, and the bread and butter, and that capital story you told of the large loaf. A hundred times since, I have laughed over it. At least you must recall my name -- Ringman, John Ringman."

"Large loaf? Invited you to tea? Ringman? Ringman? Ring? Ring?"

"Ah sir," sadly smiling, "don't ring the changes that way. I see you have a faithless memory, Mr. Roberts. But trust in the faithfulness of mine."

"Well, to tell the truth, in some things my memory aint of the very best," was the honest rejoinder. "But still," he perplexedly added, "still I --"

"Oh sir, suffice it that it is as I say. Doubt not that we are all well acquainted."

"But -- but I don't like this going dead against my own memory; I --"

"But didn't you admit, my dear sir, that in some things this memory of yours is a little faithless? Now, those who have faithless memories, should they not have some little confidence in the less faithless memories of others?"

"But, of this friendly chat and tea, I have not the slightest --"

"I see, I see; quite erased from the tablet. Pray,

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sir," with a sudden illumination, "about six years back, did it happen to you to receive any injury on the head? Surprising effects have arisen from such a cause. Not alone unconsciousness as to events for a greater or less time immediately subsequent to the injury, but likewise -- strange to add -- oblivion, entire and incurable, as to events embracing a longer or shorter period immediately preceding it; that is, when the mind at the time was perfectly sensible of them, and fully competent also to register them in the memory, and did in fact so do; but all in vain, for all was afterwards bruised out by the injury."

After the first start, the merchant listened with what appeared more than ordinary interest. The other proceeded:

"In my boyhood I was kicked by a horse, and lay insensible for a long time. Upon recovering, what a blank! No faintest trace in regard to how I had come near the horse, or what horse it was, or where it was, or that it was a horse at all that had brought me to that pass. For the knowledge of those particulars I am indebted solely to my friends, in whose statements, I need not say, I place implicit reliance, since particulars of some sort there must have been, and why should they deceive me? You see sir, the mind is ductile, very much so: but images, ductilely received into it, need a certain time to harden and bake in their impressions, otherwise such a casualty as I speak of will in an instant obliterate them, as though they had never been. We are but clay, sir, potter's clay, as the good book says,

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clay, feeble, and too-yielding clay. But I will not philosophize. Tell me, was it your misfortune to receive any concussion upon the brain about the period I speak of? If so, I will with pleasure supply the void in your memory by more minutely rehearsing the circumstances of our acquaintance."

The growing interest betrayed by the merchant had not relaxed as the other proceeded. After some hesitation, indeed, something more than hesitation, he confessed that, though he had never received any injury of the sort named, yet, about the time in question, he had in fact been taken with a brain fever, losing his mind completely for a considerable interval. He was continuing, when the stranger with much animation exclaimed:

"There now, you see, I was not wholly mistaken. That brain fever accounts for it all."

"Nay; but --"

"Pardon me, Mr. Roberts," respectfully interrupting him, "but time is short, and I have something private and particular to say to you. Allow me."

Mr. Roberts, good man, could but acquiesce, and the two having silently walked to a less public spot, the manner of the man with the weed suddenly assumed a seriousness almost painful. What might be called a writhing expression stole over him. He seemed struggling with some disastrous necessity inkept. He made one or two attempts to speak, but words seemed to choke him. His companion stood in humane surprise, wondering what was to come. At length, with an effort mastering

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his feelings, in a tolerably composed tone he spoke:

"If I remember, you are a mason, Mr. Roberts?"

"Yes, yes."

Averting himself a moment, as to recover from a return of agitation, the stranger grasped the other's hand; "and would you not loan a brother a shilling if he needed it?"

The merchant started, apparently, almost as if to retreat.

"Ah, Mr. Roberts, I trust you are not one of those business men, who make a business of never having to do with unfortunates. For God's sake don't leave me. I have something on my heart -- on my heart. Under deplorable circumstances thrown among strangers, utter strangers. I want a friend in whom I may confide. Yours, Mr. Roberts, is almost the first known face I've seen for many weeks."

It was so sudden an outburst; the interview offered such a contrast to the scene around, that the merchant, though not used to be very indiscreet, yet, being not entirely inhumane, remained not entirely unmoved.

The other, still tremulous, resumed:

"I need not say, sir, how it cuts me to the soul, to follow up a social salutation with such words as have just been mine. I know that I jeopardize your good opinion. But I can't help it: necessity knows no law, and heeds no risk. Sir, we are masons, one more step aside; I will tell you my story."

In a low, half-suppressed tone, he began it. Judging

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from his auditor's expression, it seemed to be a tale of singular interest, involving calamities against which no integrity, no forethought, no energy, no genius, no piety, could guard.

At every disclosure, the hearer's commiseration increased. No sentimental pity. As the story went on, he drew from his wallet a bank note, but after a while, at some still more unhappy revelation, changed it for another, probably of a somewhat larger amount; which, when the story was concluded, with an air studiously disclamatory of alms-giving, he put into the stranger's hands; who, on his side, with an air studiously disclamatory of alms-taking, put it into his pocket.

Assistance being received, the stranger's manner assumed a kind and degree of decorum which, under the circumstances, seemed almost coldness. After some words, not over ardent, and yet not exactly inappropriate, he took leave, making a bow which had one knows not what of a certain chastened independence about it; as if misery, however burdensome, could not break down self-respect, nor gratitude, however deep, humiliate a gentleman.

He was hardly yet out of sight, when he paused as if thinking; then with hastened steps returning to the merchant, "I am just reminded that the president, who is also transfer-agent, of the Black Rapids Coal Company, happens to be on board here, and, having been subpoenaed as witness in a stock case on the docket in Kentucky, has his transfer-book with him. A month since, in a panic contrived by artful alarmists, some credulous

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stock-holders sold out; but, to frustrate the aim of the alarmists, the Company, previously advised of their scheme, so managed it as to get into its own hands those sacrificed shares, resolved that, since a spurious panic must be, the panic-makers should be no gainers by it. The Company, I hear, is now ready, but not anxious, to redispose of those shares; and having obtained them at their depressed value, will now sell them at par, though, prior to the panic, they were held at a handsome figure above. That the readiness of the Company to do this is not generally known, is shown by the fact that the stock still stands on the transfer-book in the Company's name, offering to one in funds a rare chance for investment. For, the panic subsiding more and more every day, it will daily be seen how it originated; confidence will be more than restored; there will be a reaction; from the stock's descent its rise will be higher than from no fall, the holders trusting themselves to fear no second fate."

Having listened at first with curiosity, at last with interest, the merchant replied to the effect, that some time since, through friends concerned with it, he had heard of the company, and heard well of it, but was ignorant that there had latterly been fluctuations. He added that he was no speculator; that hitherto he had avoided having to do with stocks of any sort, but in the present case he really felt something like being tempted. "Pray," in conclusion, "do you think that upon a pinch anything could be transacted on board here with the transfer-agent? Are you acquainted with him?"

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"Not personally. I but happened to hear that he was a passenger. For the rest, though it might be somewhat informal, the gentleman might not object to doing a little business on board. Along the Mississippi, you know, business is not so ceremonious as at the East."

"True," returned the merchant, and looked down a moment in thought, then, raising his head quickly, said, in a tone not so benign as his wonted one, "This would seem a rare chance, indeed; why, upon first hearing it, did you not snatch at it? I mean for yourself!"

"I? -- would it had been possible!"

Not without some emotion was this said, and not without some embarrassment was the reply. "Ah, yes, I had forgotten."

Upon this, the stranger regarded him with mild gravity, not a little disconcerting; the more so, as there was in it what seemed the aspect not alone of the superior, but, as it were, the rebuker; which sort of bearing, in a beneficiary towards his benefactor, looked strangely enough; none the less, that, somehow, it sat not altogether unbecomingly upon the beneficiary, being free from anything like the appearance of assumption, and mixed with a kind of painful conscientiousness, as though nothing but a proper sense of what he owed to himself swayed him. At length he spoke:

"To reproach a penniless man with remissness in not availing himself of an opportunity for pecuniary investment -- but, no, no; it was forgetfulness; and this, charity will impute to some lingering effect of that unfortunate

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brain-fever, which, as to occurrences dating yet further back, disturbed Mr. Roberts's memory still more seriously."

"As to that," said the merchant, rallying, "I am not --"

"Pardon me, but you must admit, that just now, an unpleasant distrust, however vague, was yours. Ah, shallow as it is, yet, how subtle a thing is suspicion, which at times can invade the humanest of hearts and wisest of heads. But, enough. My object, sir, in calling your attention to this stock, is by way of acknowledgment of your goodness. I but seek to be grateful; if my information leads to nothing, you must remember the motive."

He bowed, and finally retired, leaving Mr. Roberts not wholly without self-reproach, for having momentarily indulged injurious thoughts against one who, it was evident, was possessed of a self-respect which forbade his indulging them himself.

[ 36 ]



"Well, there is sorrow in the world, but goodness too; and goodness that is not greenness, either, no more than sorrow is. Dear good man. Poor beating heart!"

It was the man with the weed, not very long after quitting the merchant, murmuring to himself with his hand to his side like one with the heart-disease.

Meditation over kindness received seemed to have softened him something, too, it may be, beyond what might, perhaps, have been looked for from one whose unwonted self-respect in the hour of need, and in the act of being aided, might have appeared to some not wholly unlike pride out of place; and pride, in any place, is seldom very feeling. But the truth, perhaps, is, that those who are least touched with that vice, besides being not unsusceptible to goodness, are sometimes the ones whom a ruling sense of propriety makes appear cold, if not thankless, under a favor. For, at such a time, to be full of warm, earnest words, and heart-felt protestations, is to create a scene; and well-bred people dislike few things more than that; which would

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seem to look as if the world did not relish earnestness; but, not so; because the world, being earnest itself, likes an earnest scene, and an earnest man, very well, but only in their place -- the stage. See what sad work they make of it, who, ignorant of this, flame out in Irish enthusiasm and with Irish sincerity, to a benefactor, who, if a man of sense and respectability, as well as kindliness, can but be more or less annoyed by it; and, if of a nervously fastidious nature, as some are, may be led to think almost as much less favorably of the beneficiary paining him by his gratitude, as if he had been guilty of its contrary, instead only of an indiscretion. But, beneficiaries who know better, though they may feel as much, if not more, neither inflict such pain, nor are inclined to run any risk of so doing. And these, being wise, are the majority. By which one sees how inconsiderate those persons are, who, from the absence of its officious manifestations in the world, complain that there is not much gratitude extant; when the truth is, that there is as much of it as there is of modesty; but, both being for the most part votarists of the shade, for the most part keep out of sight.

What started this was, to account, if necessary, for the changed air of the man with the weed, who, throwing off in private the cold garb of decorum, and so giving warmly loose to his genuine heart, seemed almost transformed into another being. This subdued air of softness, too, was toned with melancholy, melancholy unreserved; a thing which, however at variance with propriety, still the more attested his earnestness; for

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one knows not how it is, but it sometimes happens that, where earnestness is, there, also, is melancholy.

At the time, he was leaning over the rail at the boat's side, in his pensiveness, unmindful of another pensive figure near -- a young gentleman with a swan-neck, wearing a lady-like open shirt collar, thrown back, and tied with a black ribbon. From a square, tableted-broach, curiously engraved with Greek characters, he seemed a collegian -- not improbably, a sophomore -- on his travels; possibly, his first. A small book bound in Roman vellum was in his hand.

Overhearing his murmuring neighbor, the youth regarded him with some surprise, not to say interest. But, singularly for a collegian, being apparently of a retiring nature, he did not speak; when the other still more increased his diffidence by changing from soliloquy to colloquy, in a manner strangely mixed of familiarity and pathos.

"Ah, who is this? You did not hear me, my young friend, did you? Why, you, too, look sad. My melancholy is not catching!"

"Sir, sir," stammered the other.

"Pray, now," with a sort of sociable sorrowfulness, slowly sliding along the rail, "Pray, now, my young friend, what volume have you there? Give me leave," gently drawing it from him. "Tacitus!" Then opening it at random, read: "In general a black and shameful period lies before me." "Dear young sir," touching his arm alarmedly, "don't read this book. It is poison, moral poison. Even were there truth in Tacitus,

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such truth would have the operation of falsity, and so still be poison, moral poison. Too well I know this Tacitus. In my college-days he came near souring me into cynicism. Yes, I began to turn down my collar, and go about with a disdainfully joyless expression."

"Sir, sir, I -- I -- "

"Trust me. Now, young friend, perhaps you think that Tacitus, like me, is only melancholy; but he's more -- he's ugly. A vast difference, young sir, between the melancholy view and the ugly. The one may show the world still beautiful, not so the other. The one may be compatible with benevolence, the other not. The one may deepen insight, the other shallows it. Drop Tacitus. Phrenologically, my young friend, you would seem to have a well-developed head, and large; but cribbed within the ugly view, the Tacitus view, your large brain, like your large ox in the contracted field, will but starve the more. And don't dream, as some of you students may, that, by taking this same ugly view, the deeper meanings of the deeper books will so alone become revealed to you. Drop Tacitus. His subtlety is falsity, To him, in his double-refined anatomy of human nature, is well applied the Scripture saying -- 'There is a subtle man, and the same is deceived.' Drop Tacitus. Come, now, let me throw the book overboard."

"Sir, I -- I -- "

"Not a word; I know just what is in your mind, and that is just what I am speaking to. Yes, learn from me that, though the sorrows of the world are great, its

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wickedness -- that is, its ugliness -- is small. Much cause to pity man, little to distrust him. I myself have known adversity, and know it still. But for that, do I turn cynic? No, no: it is small beer that sours. To my fellow-creatures I owe alleviations. So, whatever I may have undergone, it but deepens my confidence in my kind. Now, then" (winningly), "this book -- will you let me drown it for you?"

"Really, sir -- I -- "

"I see, I see. But of course you read Tacitus in order to aid you in understanding human nature -- as if truth was ever got at by libel. My young friend, if to know human nature is your object, drop Tacitus and go north to the cemeteries of Auburn and Greenwood."

"Upon my word, I -- I -- "

"Nay, I foresee all that. But you carry Tacitus, that shallow Tacitus. What do I carry? See" -- producing a pocket-volume -- "Akenside -- his 'Pleasures of Imagination.' One of these days you will know it. Whatever our lot, we should read serene and cheery books, fitted to inspire love and trust. But Tacitus! I have long been of opinion that these classics are the bane of colleges; for -- not to hint of the immorality of Ovid, Horace, Anacreon, and the rest, and the dangerous theology of Eschylus and others -- where will one find views so injurious to human nature as in Thucydides, Juvenal, Lucian, but more particularly Tacitus? When I consider that, ever since the revival of learning, these classics have been the favorites of successive generations of students and studious men, I tremble to think of that mass

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of unsuspected heresy on every vital topic which for centuries must have simmered unsurmised in the heart of Christendom. But Tacitus -- he is the most extraordinary example of a heretic; not one iota of confidence in his kind. What a mockery that such an one should be reputed wise, and Thucydides be esteemed the statesman's manual! But Tacitus -- I hate Tacitus; not, though, I trust, with the hate that sins, but a righteous hate. Without confidence himself, Tacitus destroys it in all his readers. Destroys confidence, paternal confidence, of which God knows that there is in this world none to spare. For, comparatively inexperienced as you are, my dear young friend, did you never observe how little, very little, confidence, there is? I mean between man and man -- more particularly between stranger and stranger. In a sad world it is the saddest fact. Confidence! I have sometimes almost thought that confidence is fled; that confidence is the New Astrea -- emigrated -- vanished -- gone." Then softly sliding nearer, with the softest air, quivering down and looking up, "could you now, my dear young sir, under such circumstances, by way of experiment, simply have confidence in me?"

From the outset, the sophomore, as has been seen, had struggled with an ever-increasing embarrassment, arising, perhaps, from such strange remarks coming from a stranger -- such persistent and prolonged remarks, too. In vain had he more than once sought to break the spell by venturing a deprecatory or leave-taking word. In vain. Somehow, the stranger fascinated him. Little

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wonder, then, that, when the appeal came, he could hardly speak, but, as before intimated, being apparently of a retiring nature, abruptly retired from the spot, leaving the chagrined stranger to wander away in the opposite direction.

[ 43 ]



-- "You -- pish! Why will the captain suffer these begging fellows on board?";

These pettish words were breathed by a well-to-do gentleman in a ruby-colored velvet vest, and with a ruby-colored cheek, a ruby-headed cane in his hand, to a man in a gray coat and white tie, who, shortly after the interview last described, had accosted him for contributions to a Widow and Orphan Asylum recently founded among the Seminoles. Upon a cursory view, this last person might have seemed, like the man with the weed, one of the less unrefined children of misfortune; but, on a closer observation, his countenance revealed little of sorrow, though much of sanctity.

With added words of touchy disgust, the well-to-do gentleman hurried away. But, though repulsed, and rudely, the man in gray did not reproach, for a time patiently remaining in the chilly loneliness to which he had been left, his countenance, however, not without token of latent though chastened reliance.

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At length an old gentleman, somewhat bulky, drew nigh, and from him also a contribution was sought.

"Look, you," coming to a dead halt, and scowling upon him. "Look, you," swelling his bulk out before him like a swaying balloon, "look, you, you on others' behalf ask for money; you, a fellow with a face as long as my arm. Hark ye, now: there is such a thing as gravity, and in condemned felons it may be genuine; but of long faces there are three sorts; that of grief's drudge, that of the lantern-jawed man, and that of the impostor. You know best which yours is."

"Heaven give you more charity, sir."

"And you less hypocrisy, sir."

With which words, the hard-hearted old gentleman marched off.

While the other still stood forlorn, the young clergyman, before introduced, passing that way, catching a chance sight of him, seemed suddenly struck by some recollection; and, after a moment's pause, hurried up with: "Your pardon, but shortly since I was all over looking for you."

"For me?" as marveling that one of so little account should be sought for.

"Yes, for you; do you know anything about the negro, apparently a cripple, aboard here? Is he, or is he not, what he seems to be?"

"Ah, poor Guinea! have you, too, been distrusted? you, upon whom nature has placarded the evidence of your claims?"

"Then you do really know him, and he is quite

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worthy? It relieves me to hear it -- much relieves me. Come, let us go find him, and see what can be done."

"Another instance that confidence may come too late. I am sorry to say that at the last landing I myself -- just happening to catch sight of him on the gangway-plank -- assisted the cripple ashore. No time to talk, only to help. He may not have told you, but he has a brother in that vicinity.

"Really, I regret his going without my seeing him again; regret it, more, perhaps, than you can readily think. You see, shortly after leaving St. Louis, he was on the forecastle, and there, with many others, I saw him, and put trust in him; so much so, that, to convince those who did not, I, at his entreaty, went in search of you, you being one of several individuals he mentioned, and whose personal appearance he more or less described, individuals who he said would willingly speak for him. But, after diligent search, not finding you, and catching no glimpse of any of the others he had enumerated, doubts were at last suggested; but doubts indirectly originating, as I can but think, from prior distrust unfeelingly proclaimed by another. Still, certain it is, I began to suspect."

"Ha, ha, ha!"

A sort of laugh more like a groan than a laugh; and yet, somehow, it seemed intended for a laugh.

Both turned, and the young clergyman started at seeing the wooden-legged man close behind him, morosely grave as a criminal judge with a mustard-plaster on his back. In the present case the mustard-plaster

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might have been the memory of certain recent biting rebuffs and mortifications.

"Wouldn't think it was I who laughed would you?"

"But who was it you laughed at? or rather, tried to laugh at?" demanded the young clergyman, flushing, "me?"

"Neither you nor any one within a thousand miles of you. But perhaps you don't believe it."

"If he were of a suspicious temper, he might not," interposed the man in gray calmly, "it is one of the imbecilities of the suspicious person to fancy that every stranger, however absent-minded, he sees so much as smiling or gesturing to himself in any odd sort of way, is secretly making him his butt. In some moods, the movements of an entire street, as the suspicious man walks down it, will seem an express pantomimic jeer at him. In short, the suspicious man kicks himself with his own foot."

"Whoever can do that, ten to one he saves other folks' sole-leather," said the wooden-legged man with a crusty attempt at humor. But with augmented grin and squirm, turning directly upon the young clergyman, "you still think it was you I was laughing at, just now. To prove your mistake, I will tell you what I was laughing at; a story I happened to call to mind just then."

Whereupon, in his porcupine way, and with sarcastic details, unpleasant to repeat, he related a story, which might, perhaps, in a good-natured version, be rendered as follows:

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A certain Frenchman of New Orleans, an old man, less slender in purse than limb, happening to attend the theatre one evening, was so charmed with the character of a faithful wife, as there represented to the life, that nothing would do but he must marry upon it. So, marry he did, a beautiful girl from Tennessee, who had first attracted his attention by her liberal mould, and was subsequently recommended to him through her kin, for her equally liberal education and disposition. Though large, the praise proved not too much. For, ere long, rumor more than corroborated it, by whispering that the lady was liberal to a fault. But though various circumstances, which by most Benedicts would have been deemed all but conclusive, were duly recited to the old Frenchman by his friends, yet such was his confidence that not a syllable would he credit, till, chancing one night to return unexpectedly from a journey, upon entering his apartment, a stranger burst from the alcove: "Begar!" cried he, "now I begin to suspec."

His story told, the wooden-legged man threw back his head, and gave vent to a long, gasping, rasping sort of taunting cry, intolerable as that of a high-pressure engine jeering off steam; and that done, with apparent satisfaction hobbled away.

"Who is that scoffer," said the man in gray, not without warmth. "Who is he, who even were truth on his tongue, his way of speaking it would make truth almost offensive as falsehood. Who is he?"

"He who I mentioned to you as having boasted his suspicion of the negro," replied the young clergyman,

48                                       THE  CONFIDENCE-MAN.                                      

recovering from disturbance, "in short, the person to whom I ascribe the origin of my own distrust; he maintained that Guinea was some white scoundrel, betwisted and painted up for a decoy. Yes, these were his very words, I think."

"Impossible! he could not be so wrong-headed. Pray, will you call him back, and let me ask him if he were really in earnest?"

The other complied; and, at length, after no few surly objections, prevailed upon the one-legged individual to return for a moment. Upon which, the man in gray thus addressed him: "This reverend gentleman tells me, sir, that a certain cripple, a poor negro, is by you considered an ingenious impostor. Now, I am not unaware that there are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them. I hope you are not one of these. In short, would you tell me now, whether you were not merely joking in the notion you threw out about the negro. Would you be so kind?"

"No, I won't be so kind, I'll be so cruel."

"As you please about that."

"Well, he's just what I said he was."

"A white masquerading as a black?"


The man in gray glanced at the young clergyman a moment, then quietly whispered to him, "I thought you represented your friend here as a very distrustful sort of

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person, but he appears endued with a singular credulity. -- Tell me, sir, do you really think that a white could look the negro so? For one, I should call it pretty good acting."

"Not much better than any other man acts."

"How? Does all the world act? Am I, for instance, an actor? Is my reverend friend here, too, a performer?"

"Yes, don't you both perform acts? To do, is to act; so all doers are actors."

"You trifle. -- I ask again, if a white, how could he look the negro so?"

"Never saw the negro-minstrels, I suppose?"

"Yes, but they are apt to overdo the ebony; exemplifying the old saying, not more just than charitable, that 'the devil is never so black as he is painted.' But his limbs, if not a cripple, how could he twist his limbs so?"

"How do other hypocritical beggars twist theirs? Easy enough to see how they are hoisted up."

"The sham is evident, then?"

"To the discerning eye," with a horrible screw of his gimlet one.

"Well, where is Guinea?" said the man in gray; "where is he? Let us at once find him, and refute beyond cavil this injurious hypothesis."

"Do so," cried the one-eyed man, "I'm just in the humor now for having him found, and leaving the streaks of these fingers on his paint, as the lion leaves the streaks of his nails on a Caffre. They wouldn't let me touch him before. Yes, find him, I'll make wool fly, and him after."

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"You forget," here said the young clergyman to the man in gray, "that yourself helped poor Guinea ashore."

"So I did, so I did; how unfortunate. But look now," to the other, "I think that without personal proof I can convince you of your mistake. For I put it to you, is it reasonable to suppose that a man with brains, sufficient to act such a part as you say, would take all that trouble, and run all that hazard, for the mere sake of those few paltry coppers, which, I hear, was all he got for his pains, if pains they were?"

"That puts the case irrefutably," said the young clergyman, with a challenging glance towards the one-legged man.

"You two green-horns! Money, you think, is the sole motive to pains and hazard, deception and deviltry, in this world. How much money did the devil make by gulling Eve?"

Whereupon he hobbled off again with a repetition of his intolerable jeer.

The man in gray stood silently eying his retreat a while, and then, turning to his companion, said: "A bad man, a dangerous man; a man to be put down in any Christian community. -- And this was he who was the means of begetting your distrust? Ah, we should shut our ears to distrust, and keep them open only for its opposite."

"You advance a principle, which, if I had acted upon it this morning, I should have spared myself what I now feel. -- That but one man, and he with one leg, should have such ill power given him; his one sour word

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leavening into congenial sourness (as, to my knowledge, it did) the dispositions, before sweet enough, of a numerous company. But, as I hinted, with me at the time his ill words went for nothing; the same as now; only afterwards they had effect; and I confess, this puzzles me."

"It should not. With humane minds, the spirit of distrust works something as certain potions do; it is a spirit which may enter such minds, and yet, for a time, longer or shorter, lie in them quiescent; but only the more deplorable its ultimate activity."

"An uncomfortable solution; for, since that baneful man did but just now anew drop on me his bane, how shall I be sure that my present exemption from its effects will be lasting?"

"You cannot be sure, but you can strive against it."


"By strangling the least symptom of distrust, of any sort, which hereafter, upon whatever provocation, may arise in you."

"I will do so." Then added as in soliloquy, "Indeed, indeed, I was to blame in standing passive under such influences as that one-legged man's. My conscience upbraids me. -- The poor negro: You see him occasionally, perhaps?"

"No, not often; though in a few days, as it happens, my engagements will call me to the neighborhood of his present retreat; and, no doubt, honest Guinea, who is a grateful soul, will come to see me there."

"Then you have been his benefactor?"

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"His benefactor? I did not say that. I have known him."

"Take this mite. Hand it to Guinea when you see him; say it comes from one who has full belief in his honesty, and is sincerely sorry for having indulged, however transiently, in a contrary thought."

"I accept the trust. And, by-the-way, since you are of this truly charitable nature, you will not turn away an appeal in behalf of the Seminole Widow and Orphan Asylum?"

"I have not heard of that charity."

"But recently founded."

After a pause, the clergyman was irresolutely putting his hand in his pocket, when, caught by something in his companion's expression, he eyed him inquisitively, almost uneasily.

"Ah, well," smiled the other wanly, "if that subtle bane, we were speaking of but just now, is so soon beginning to work, in vain my appeal to you. Good-by."

"Nay," not untouched, "you do me injustice; instead of indulging present suspicions, I had rather make amends for previous ones. Here is something for your asylum. Not much; but every drop helps. Of course you have papers?"

"Of course," producing a memorandum book and pencil. "Let me take down name and amount. We publish these names. And now let me give you a little history of our asylum, and the providential way in which it was started."

[ 53 ]



At an interesting point of the narration, and at the moment when, with much curiosity, indeed, urgency, the narrator was being particularly questioned upon that point, he was, as it happened, altogether diverted both from it and his story, by just then catching sight of a gentleman who had been standing in sight from the beginning, but, until now, as it seemed, without being observed by him.

"Pardon me," said he, rising, "but yonder is one who I know will contribute, and largely. Don't take it amiss if I quit you."

"Go: duty before all things," was the conscientious reply.

The stranger was a man of more than winsome aspect. There he stood apart and in repose, and yet, by his mere look, lured the man in gray from his story, much as, by its graciousness of bearing, some full-leaved elm, alone in a meadow, lures the noon sickleman to throw down his sheaves, and come and apply for the alms of its shade.

But, considering that goodness is no such rare thing

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among men -- the world familiarly know the noun; a common one in every language -- it was curious that what so signalized the stranger, and made him look like a kind of foreigner, among the crowd (as to some it make him appear more or less unreal in this portraiture), was but the expression of so prevalent a quality. Such goodness seemed his, allied with such fortune, that, so far as his own personal experience could have gone, scarcely could he have known ill, physical or moral; and as for knowing or suspecting the latter in any serious degree (supposing such degree of it to be), by observation or philosophy; for that, probably, his nature, by its opposition, imperfectly qualified, or from it wholly exempted. For the rest, he might have been five and fifty, perhaps sixty, but tall, rosy, between plump and portly, with a primy, palmy air, and for the time and place, not to hint of his years, dressed with a strangely festive finish and elegance. The inner-side of his coat-skirts was of white satin, which might have looked especially inappropriate, had it not seemed less a bit of mere tailoring than something of an emblem, as it were; an involuntary emblem, let us say, that what seemed so good about him was not all outside; no, the fine covering had a still finer lining. Upon one hand he wore a white kid glove, but the other hand, which was ungloved, looked hardly less white. Now, as the Fidèle, like most steamboats, was upon deck a little soot-streaked here and there, especially about the railings, it was marvel how, under such circumstances, these hands retained their spotlessness. But, if you watched them

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a while, you noticed that they avoided touching anything; you noticed, in short, that a certain negro body-servant, whose hands nature had dyed black, perhaps with the same purpose that millers wear white, this negro servant's hands did most of his master's handling for him; having to do with dirt on his account, but not to his prejudices. But if, with the same undefiledness of consequences to himself, a gentleman could also sin by deputy, how shocking would that be! But it is not permitted to be; and even if it were, no judicious moralist would make proclamation of it.

This gentleman, therefore, there is reason to affirm, was one who, like the Hebrew governor, knew how to keep his hands clean, and who never in his life happened to be run suddenly against by hurrying house-painter, or sweep; in a word, one whose very good luck it was to be a very good man.

Not that he looked as if he were a kind of Wilberforce at all; that superior merit, probably, was not his; nothing in his manner bespoke him righteous, but only good, and though to be good is much below being righteous, and though there is a difference between the two, yet not, it is to be hoped, so incompatible as that a righteous man can not be a good man; though, conversely, in the pulpit it has been with much cogency urged, that a merely good man, that is, one good merely by his nature, is so far from there by being righteous, that nothing short of a total change and conversion can make him so; which is something which no honest mind, well read in the history of righteousness, will care to

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deny; nevertheless, since St. Paul himself, agreeing in a sense with the pulpit distinction, though not altogether in the pulpit deduction, and also pretty plainly intimating which of the two qualities in question enjoys his apostolic preference; I say, since St. Paul has so meaningly said, that, "scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die;" therefore, when we repeat of this gentleman, that he was only a good man, whatever else by severe censors may be objected to him, it is still to be hoped that his goodness will not at least be considered criminal in him. At all events, no man, not even a righteous man, would think it quite right to commit this gentleman to prison for the crime, extraordinary as he might deem it; more especially, as, until everything could be known, there would be some chance that the gentleman might after all be quite as innocent of it as he himself.

It was pleasant to mark the good man's reception of the salute of the righteous man, that is, the man in gray; his inferior, apparently, not more in the social scale than in stature. Like the benign elm again, the good man seemed to wave the canopy of his goodness over that suitor, not in conceited condescension, but with that even amenity of true majesty, which can be kind to any one without stooping to it.

To the plea in behalf of the Seminole widows and orphans, the gentleman, after a question or two duly answered, responded by producing an ample pocket-book in the good old capacious style, of fine green

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French morocco and workmanship, bound with silk of the same color, not to omit bills crisp with newness, fresh from the bank, no muckworms' grime upon them. Lucre those bills might be, but as yet having been kept unspotted from the world, not of the filthy sort. Placing now three of those virgin bills in the applicant's hands, he hoped that the smallness of the contribution would be pardoned; to tell the truth, and this at last accounted for his toilet, he was bound but a short run down the river, to attend, in a festive grove, the afternoon wedding of his niece: so did not carry much money with him.

The other was about expressing his thanks when the gentleman in his pleasant way checked him: the gratitude was on the other side. To him, he said, charity was in one sense not an effort, but a luxury; against too great indulgence in which his steward, a humorist, had sometimes admonished him.

In some general talk which followed, relative to organized modes of doing good, the gentleman expressed his regrets that so many benevolent societies as there were, here and there isolated in the land, should not act in concert by coming together, in the way that already in each society the individuals composing it had done, which would result, he thought, in like advantages upon a larger scale. Indeed, such a confederation might, perhaps, be attended with as happy results as politically attended that of the states.

Upon his hitherto moderate enough companion, this suggestion had an effect illustrative in a sort of that notion

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of Socrates, that the soul is a harmony; for as the sound of a flute, in any particular key, will, it is said, audibly affect the corresponding chord of any harp in good tune, within hearing, just so now did some string in him respond, and with animation.

Which animation, by the way, might seem more or less out of character in the man in gray, considering his unsprightly manner when first introduced, had he not already, in certain after colloquies, given proof, in some degree, of the fact, that, with certain natures, a soberly continent air at times, so far from arguing emptiness of stuff, is good proof it is there, and plenty of it, because unwasted, and may be used the more effectively, too, when opportunity offers. What now follows on the part of the man in gray will still further exemplify, perhaps somewhat strikingly, the truth, or what appears to be such, of this remark.

"Sir," said he eagerly, "I am before you. A project, not dissimilar to yours, was by me thrown out at the World's Fair in London."

"World's Fair? You there? Pray how was that?"

"First, let me --"

"Nay, but first tell me what took you to the Fair?"

"I went to exhibit an invalid's easy-chair I had invented."

"Then you have not always been in the charity business?"

"Is it not charity to ease human suffering? I am, and always have been, as I always will be, I trust, in the charity business, as you call it; but charity is not

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like a pin, one to make the head, and the other the point; charity is a work to which a good workman may be competent in all its branches. I invented my Protean easy-chair in odd intervals stolen from meals and sleep."

"You call it the Protean easy-chair; pray describe it."

"My Protean easy-chair is a chair so all over bejointed, behinged, and bepadded, everyway so elastic, springy, and docile to the airiest touch, that in some one of its endlessly-changeable accommodations of back, seat, footboard, and arms, the most restless body, the body most racked, nay, I had almost added the most tormented conscience must, somehow and somewhere, find rest. Believing that I owed it to suffering humanity to make known such a chair to the utmost, I scraped together my little means and off to the World's Fair with it."

"You did right. But your scheme; how did you come to hit upon that?"

"I was going to tell you. After seeing my invention duly catalogued and placed, I gave myself up to pondering the scene about me. As I dwelt upon that shining pageant of arts, and moving concourse of nations, and reflected that here was the pride of the world glorying in a glass house, a sense of the fragility of worldly grandeur profoundly impressed me. And I said to myself, I will see if this occasion of vanity cannot supply a hint toward a better profit than was designed. Let some world-wide good to the world-wide cause be now done.

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In short, inspired by the scene, on the fourth day I issued at the World's Fair my prospectus of the World's Charity."

"Quite a thought. But, pray explain it."

"The World's Charity is to be a society whose members shall comprise deputies from every charity and mission extant; the one object of the society to be the methodization of the world's benevolence; to which end, the present system of voluntary and promiscuous contribution to be done away, and the Society to be empowered by the various governments to levy, annually, one grand benevolence tax upon all mankind; as in Augustus Caesar's time, the whole world to come up to be taxed; a tax which, for the scheme of it, should be something like the income-tax in England, a tax, also, as before hinted, to be a consolidation-tax of all possible benevolence taxes; as in America here, the state-tax, and the county-tax, and the town-tax, and the poll-tax, are by the assessors rolled into one. This tax, according to my tables, calculated with care, would result in the yearly raising of a fund little short of eight hundred millions; this fund to be annually applied to such objects, and in such modes, as the various charities and missions, in general congress represented, might decree; whereby, in fourteen years, as I estimate, there would have been devoted to good works the sum of eleven thousand two hundred millions; which would warrant the dissolution of the society, as that fund judiciously expended, not a pauper or heathen could remain the round world over."

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"Eleven thousand two hundred millions! And all by passing round a hat, as it were."

"Yes, I am no Fourier, the projector of an impossible scheme, but a philanthropist and a financier setting forth a philanthropy and a finance which are practicable."


"Yes. Eleven thousand two hundred millions; it will frighten none but a retail philanthropist. What is it but eight hundred millions for each of fourteen years? Now eight hundred millions -- what is that, to average it, but one little dollar a head for the population of the planet? And who will refuse, what Turk or Dyak even, his own little dollar for sweet charity's sake? Eight hundred millions! More than that sum is yearly expended by mankind, not only in vanities, but miseries. Consider that bloody spendthrift, War. And are mankind so stupid, so wicked, that, upon the demonstration of these things they will not, amending their ways, devote their superfluities to blessing the world instead of cursing it? Eight hundred millions! They have not to make it, it is theirs already; they have but to direct it from ill to good. And to this, scarce a self-denial is demanded. Actually, they would not in the mass be one farthing the poorer for it; as certainly would they be all the better and happier. Don't you see? But admit, as you must, that mankind is not mad, and my project is practicable. For, what creature but a madman would not rather do good than ill, when it is plain that, good or ill, it must return upon himself?"

"Your sort of reasoning," said the good gentleman,

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adjusting his gold sleeve-buttons, "seems all reasonable enough, but with mankind it wont do."

"Then mankind are not reasoning beings, if reason wont do with them."

"That is not to the purpose. By-the-way, from the manner in which you alluded to the world's census, it would appear that, according to your world-wide scheme, the pauper not less than the nabob is to contribute to the relief of pauperism, and the heathen not less than the Christian to the conversion of heathenism. How is that?"

"Why, that -- pardon me -- is quibbling. Now, no philanthropist likes to be opposed with quibbling."

"Well, I won't quibble any more. But, after all, if I understand your project, there is little specially new in it, further than the magnifying of means now in operation."

"Magnifying and energizing. For one thing, missions I would thoroughly reform. Missions I would quicken with the Wall street spirit."

"The Wall street spirit?"

"Yes; for if, confessedly, certain spiritual ends are to be gained but through the auxiliary agency of worldly means, then, to the surer gaining of such spiritual ends, the example of worldly policy in worldly projects should not by spiritual projectors be slighted. In brief, the conversion of the heathen, so far, at least, as depending on human effort, would, by the world's charity, be let out on contract. So much by bid for converting India, so much for Borneo, so much for Africa. Competition

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allowed, stimulus would be given. There would be no lethargy of monopoly. We should have no mission-house or tract-house of which slanderers could, with any plausibility, say that it had degenerated in its clerkships into a sort of custom-house. But the main point is the Archimedean money-power that would be brought to bear."

"You mean the eight hundred million power?"

"Yes. You see, this doing good to the world by driblets amounts to just nothing. I am for doing good to the world with a will. I am for doing good to the world once for all and having done with it. Do but think, my dear sir, of the eddies and maelstroms of pagans in China. People here have no conception of it. Of a frosty morning in Hong Kong, pauper pagans are found dead in the streets like so many nipped peas in a bin of peas. To be an immortal being in China is no more distinction than to be a snow-flake in a snow-squall. What are a score or two of missionaries to such a people? A pinch of snuff to the kraken. I am for sending ten thousand missionaries in a body and converting the Chinese en masse within six months of the debarkation. The thing is then done, and turn to something else."

"I fear you are too enthusiastic."

"A philanthropist is necessarily an enthusiast; for without enthusiasm what was ever achieved but commonplace? But again: consider the poor in London. To that mob of misery, what is a joint here and a loaf there? I am for voting to them twenty thousand bullocks

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and one hundred thousand barrels of flour to begin with. They are then comforted, and no more hunger for one while among the poor of London. And so all round."

"Sharing the character of your general project, these things, I take it, are rather examples of wonders that were to be wished, than wonders that will happen."

"And is the age of wonders passed? Is the world too old? Is it barren? Think of Sarah."

"Then I am Abraham reviling the angel (with a smile). But still, as to your design at large, there seems a certain audacity."

"But if to the audacity of the design there be brought a commensurate circumspectness of execution, how then?"

"Why, do you really believe that your world's charity will ever go into operation?"

"I have confidence that it will."

"But may you not be over-confident?"

"For a Christian to talk so!"

"But think of the obstacles!"

"Obstacles? I have confidence to remove obstacles, though mountains. Yes, confidence in the world's charity to that degree, that, as no better person offers to supply the place, I have nominated myself provisional treasurer, and will be happy to receive subscriptions, for the present to be devoted to striking off a million more of my prospectuses."

The talk went on; the man in gray revealed a spirit of benevolence which, mindful of the millennial promise,

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had gone abroad over all the countries of the globe, much as the diligent spirit of the husbandman, stirred by forethought of the coming seed-time, leads him, in March reveries at his fireside, over every field of his farm. The master chord of the man in gray had been touched, and it seemed as if it would never cease vibrating. A not unsilvery tongue, too, was his, with gestures that were a Pentecost of added ones, and persuasiveness before which granite hearts might crumble into gravel.

Strange, therefore, how his auditor, so singularly good-hearted as he seemed, remained proof to such eloquence; though not, as it turned out, to such pleadings. For, after listening a while longer with pleasant incredulity, presently, as the boat touched his place of destination, the gentleman, with a look half humor, half pity, put another bank-note into his hands; charitable to the last, if only to the dreams of enthusiasm.

[ 66 ]



If a drunkard in a sober fit is the dullest of mortals, an enthusiast in a reason-fit is not the most lively. And this, without prejudice to his greatly improved understanding; for, if his elation was the height of his madness, his despondency is but the extreme of his sanity. Something thus now, to all appearance, with the man in gray. Society his stimulus, loneliness was his lethargy. Loneliness, like the sea breeze, blowing off from a thousand leagues of blankness, he did not find, as veteran solitaires do, if anything, too bracing. In short, left to himself, with none to charm forth his latent lymphatic, he insensibly resumes his original air, a quiescent one, blended of sad humility and demureness.

Ere long he goes laggingly into the ladies' saloon, as in spiritless quest of somebody; but, after some disappointed glances about him, seats himself upon a sofa with an air of melancholy exhaustion and depression.

At the sofa's further end sits a plump and pleasant person, whose aspect seems to hint that, if she have any weak point, it must be anything rather than her excellent

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heart. From her twilight dress, neither dawn nor dark, apparently she is a widow just breaking the chrysalis of her mourning. A small gilt testament is in her hand, which she has just been reading. Half-relinquished, she holds the book in reverie, her finger inserted at the xiii. of 1st Corinthians, to which chapter possibly her attention might have recently been turned, by witnessing the scene of the monitory mute and his slate.

The sacred page no longer meets her eye; but, as at evening, when for a time the western hills shine on though the sun be set, her thoughtful face retains its tenderness though the teacher is forgotten.

Meantime, the expression of the stranger is such as ere long to attract her glance. But no responsive one. Presently, in her somewhat inquisitive survey, her volume drops. It is restored. No encroaching politeness in the act, but kindness, unadorned. The eyes of the lady sparkle. Evidently, she is not now unprepossessed. Soon, bending over, in a low, sad tone, full of deference, the stranger breathes, "Madam, pardon my freedom, but there is something in that face which strangely draws me. May I ask, are you a sister of the Church?"

"Why -- really -- you --"

In concern for her embarrassment, he hastens to relieve it, but, without seeming so to do. "It is very solitary for a brother here," eying the showy ladies brocaded in the background, "I find none to mingle souls with. It may be wrong -- I know it is -- but I cannot force myself to be easy with the people of the world.

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I prefer the company, however silent, of a brother or sister in good standing. By the way, madam, may I ask if you have confidence?"

"Really, sir -- why, sir -- really -- I --"

"Could you put confidence in me for instance?"

"Really, sir -- as much -- I mean, as one may wisely put in a -- a -- stranger, an entire stranger, I had almost said," rejoined the lady, hardly yet at ease in her affability, drawing aside a little in body, while at the same time her heart might have been drawn as far the other way. A natural struggle between charity and prudence.

"Entire stranger!" with a sigh. "Ah, who would be a stranger? In vain, I wander; no one will have confidence in me."

"You interest me," said the good lady, in mild surprise. "Can I any way befriend you?"

"No one can befriend me, who has not confidence."

"But I -- I have -- at least to that degree -- I mean that --"

"Nay, nay, you have none -- none at all. Pardon, I see it. No confidence. Fool, fond fool that I am to seek it!"

"You are unjust, sir," rejoins the good lady with heightened interest; "but it may be that something untoward in your experiences has unduly biased you. Not that I would cast reflections. Believe me, I -- yes, yes -- I may say -- that -- that --"

"That you have confidence? Prove it. Let me have twenty dollars."

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"Twenty dollars!"

"There, I told you, madam, you had no confidence."

The lady was, in an extraordinary way, touched. She sat in a sort of restless torment, knowing not which way to turn. She began twenty different sentences, and left off at the first syllable of each. At last, in desperation, she hurried out, "Tell me, sir, for what you want the twenty dollars?"

"And did I not --" then glancing at her half-mourning, "for the widow and the fatherless. I am traveling agent of the Widow and Orphan Asylum, recently founded among the Seminoles."

"And why did you not tell me your object before?" As not a little relieved. "Poor souls -- Indians, too -- those cruelly-used Indians. Here, here; how could I hesitate. I am so sorry it is no more."

"Grieve not for that, madam," rising and folding up the bank-notes. "This is an inconsiderable sum, I admit, but," taking out his pencil and book, "though I here but register the amount, there is another register, where is set down the motive. Good-bye; you have confidence. Yea, you can say to me as the apostle said to the Corinthians, 'I rejoice that I have confidence in you in all things.'"

[ 70 ]



-- "Pray, sir, have you seen a gentleman with a weed hereabouts, rather a saddish gentleman? Strange where he can have gone to. I was talking with him not twenty minutes since."

By a brisk, ruddy-cheeked man in a tasseled traveling-cap, carrying under his arm a ledger-like volume, the above words were addressed to the collegian before introduced, suddenly accosted by the rail to which not long after his retreat, as in a previous chapter recounted, he had returned, and there remained.

"Have you seen him, sir?"

Rallied from his apparent diffidence by the genial jauntiness of the stranger, the youth answered with unwonted promptitude: "Yes, a person with a weed was here not very long ago."


"Yes, and a little cracked, too, I should say."

"It was he. Misfortune, I fear, has disturbed his brain. Now quick, which way did he go?"

"Why just in the direction from which you came, the gangway yonder."

"Did he? Then the man in the gray coat, whom I

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just met, said right: he must have gone ashore. How unlucky!"

He stood vexedly twitching at his cap-tassel, which fell over by his whisker, and continued: "Well, I am very sorry. In fact, I had something for him here." -- Then drawing nearer, "you see, he applied to me for relief, no, I do him injustice, not that, but he began to intimate, you understand. Well, being very busy just then, I declined; quite rudely, too, in a cold, morose, unfeeling way, I fear. At all events, not three minutes afterwards I felt self-reproach, with a kind of prompting, very peremptory, to deliver over into that unfortunate man's hands a ten-dollar bill. You smile. Yes, it may be superstition, but I can't help it; I have my weak side, thank God. Then again," he rapidly went on, "we have been so very prosperous lately in our affairs -- by we, I mean the Black Rapids Coal Company -- that, really, out of my abundance, associative and individual, it is but fair that a charitable investment or two should be made, don't you think so?"

"Sir," said the collegian without the least embarrassment, "do I understand that you are officially connected with the Black Rapids Coal Company?"

"Yes, I happen to be president and transfer-agent."

"You are?"

"Yes, but what is it to you? You don't want to invest?"

"Why, do you sell the stock?"

"Some might be bought, perhaps; but why do you ask? you don't want to invest?"

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"But supposing I did," with cool self-collectedness, "could you do up the thing for me, and here?"

"Bless my soul," gazing at him in amaze, "really, you are quite a business man. Positively, I feel afraid of you."

"Oh, no need of that. -- You could sell me some of that stock, then?"

"I don't know, I don't know. To be sure, there are a few shares under peculiar circumstances bought in by the Company; but it would hardly be the thing to convert this boat into the Company's office. I think you had better defer investing. So," with an indifferent air, "you have seen the unfortunate man I spoke of?"

"Let the unfortunate man go his ways. -- What is that large book you have with you?"

"My transfer-book. I am subpoenaed with it to court."

"Black Rapids Coal Company," obliquely reading the gilt inscription on the back; "I have heard much of it. Pray do you happen to have with you any statement of the condition of your company."

"A statement has lately been printed."

"Pardon me, but I am naturally inquisitive. Have you a copy with you?"

"I tell you again, I do not think that it would be suitable to convert this boat into the Company's office. -- That unfortunate man, did you relieve him at all?"

"Let the unfortunate man relieve himself. -- Hand me the statement."

"Well, you are such a business-man, I can hardly deny you. Here," handing a small, printed pamphlet.

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The youth turned it over sagely.

"I hate a suspicious man," said the other, observing him; "but I must say I like to see a cautious one."

"I can gratify you there," languidly returning the pamphlet; "for, as I said before, I am naturally inquisitive; I am also circumspect. No appearances can deceive me. Your statement," he added "tells a very fine story; but pray, was not your stock a little heavy awhile ago? downward tendency? Sort of low spirits among holders on the subject of that stock?"

"Yes, there was a depression. But how came it? who devised it? The 'bears,' sir. The depression of our stock was solely owing to the growling, the hypocritical growling, of the bears."

"How, hypocritical?"

"Why, the most monstrous of all hypocrites are these bears: hypocrites by inversion; hypocrites in the simulation of things dark instead of bright; souls that thrive, less upon depression, than the fiction of depression; professors of the wicked art of manufacturing depressions; spurious Jeremiahs; sham Heraclituses, who, the lugubrious day done, return, like sham Lazaruses among the beggars, to make merry over the gains got by their pretended sore heads -- scoundrelly bears!"

"You are warm against these bears?"

"If I am, it is less from the remembrance of their stratagems as to our stock, than from the persuasion that these same destroyers of confidence, and gloomy philosophers of the stock-market, though false in themselves, are yet true types of most destroyers of confidence

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and gloomy philosophers, the world over. Fellows who, whether in stocks, politics, bread-stuffs, morals, metaphysics, religion -- be it what it may -- trump up their black panics in the naturally-quiet brightness, solely with a view to some sort of covert advantage. That corpse of calamity which the gloomy philosopher parades, is but his Good-Enough-Morgan."

"I rather like that," knowingly drawled the youth. "I fancy these gloomy souls as little as the next one. Sitting on my sofa after a champagne dinner, smoking my plantation cigar, if a gloomy fellow come to me -- what a bore!"

"You tell him it's all stuff, don't you?"

"I tell him it ain't natural. I say to him, you are happy enough, and you know it; and everybody else is as happy as you, and you know that, too; and we shall all be happy after we are no more, and you know that, too; but no, still you must have your sulk."

"And do you know whence this sort of fellow gets his sulk? not from life; for he's often too much of a recluse, or else too young to have seen anything of it. No, he gets it from some of those old plays he sees on the stage, or some of those old books he finds up in garrets. Ten to one, he has lugged home from auction a musty old Seneca, and sets about stuffing himself with that stale old hay; and, thereupon, thinks it looks wise and antique to be a croaker, thinks it's taking a stand-way above his kind."

"Just so," assented the youth. "I've lived some, and

                                   TWO  BUSINESS  MEN,  ETC.                                    75

seen a good many such ravens at second hand. By the way, strange how that man with the weed, you were inquiring for, seemed to take me for some soft sentimentalist, only because I kept quiet, and thought, because I had a copy of Tacitus with me, that I was reading him for his gloom, instead of his gossip. But I let him talk. And, indeed, by my manner humored him."

"You shouldn't have done that, now. Unfortunate man, you must have made quite a fool of him."

"His own fault if I did. But I like prosperous fellows, comfortable fellows; fellows that talk comfortably and prosperously, like you. Such fellows are generally honest. And, I say now, I happen to have a superfluity in my pocket, and I'll just --"

"-- Act the part of a brother to that unfortunate man?"

"Let the unfortunate man be his own brother. What are you dragging him in for all the time? One would think you didn't care to register any transfers, or dispose of any stock -- mind running on something else. I say I will invest."

"Stay, stay, here come some uproarious fellows -- this way, this way."

And with off-handed politeness the man with the book escorted his companion into a private little haven removed from the brawling swells without.

Business transacted, the two came forth, and walked the deck.

"Now tell me, sir," said he with the book, "how comes it that a young gentleman like you, a sedate student

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at the first appearance, should dabble in stocks and that sort of thing?"

"There are certain sophomorean errors in the world," drawled the sophomore, deliberately adjusting his shirt-collar, "not the least of which is the popular notion touching the nature of the modern scholar, and the nature of the modern scholastic sedateness."

"So it seems, so it seems. Really, this is quite a new leaf in my experience."

"Experience, sir," originally observed the sophomore, "is the only teacher."

"Hence am I your pupil; for it's only when experience speaks, that I can endure to listen to speculation."

"My speculations, sir," dryly drawing himself up, "have been chiefly governed by the maxim of Lord Bacon; I speculate in those philosophies which come home to my business and bosom -- pray, do you know of any other good stocks?"

"You wouldn't like to be concerned in the New Jerusalem, would you?"

"New Jerusalem?"

"Yes, the new and thriving city, so called, in northern Minnesota. It was originally founded by certain fugitive Mormons. Hence the name. It stands on the Mississippi. Here, here is the map," producing a roll. "There -- there, you see are the public buildings -- here the landing -- there the park -- yonder the botanic gardens -- and this, this little dot here, is a perpetual fountain, you understand. You observe there are twenty

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asterisks. Those are for the lyceums. They have lignum-vitae rostrums."

"And are all these buildings now standing?"

"All standing -- bona fide."

"These marginal squares here, are they the water-lots?"

"Water-lots in the city of New Jerusalem? All terra firma -- you don't seem to care about investing, though?"

"Hardly think I should read my title clear, as the law students say," yawned the collegian.

"Prudent -- you are prudent. Don't know that you are wholly out, either. At any rate, I would rather have one of your shares of coal stock than two of this other. Still, considering that the first settlement was by two fugitives, who had swum over naked from the opposite shore -- it's a surprising place. It is, bona fide. -- But dear me, I must go. Oh, if by possibility you should come across that unfortunate man --"

"-- In that case," with drawling impatience, "I will send for the steward, and have him and his misfortunes consigned overboard."

"Ha ha! -- now were some gloomy philosopher here, some theological bear, forever taking occasion to growl down the stock of human nature (with ulterior views, d'ye see, to a fat benefice in the gift of the worshipers of Ariamius), he would pronounce that the sign of a hardening heart and a softening brain. Yes, that would be his sinister construction. But it's nothing more than the oddity of a genial humor -- genial but dry. Confess it. Good-bye."

[ 78 ]



Stools, settees, sofas, divans, ottomans; occupying them are clusters of men, old and young, wise and simple; in their hands are cards spotted with diamonds, spades, clubs, hearts; the favorite games are whist, cribbage, and brag. Lounging in arm-chairs or sauntering among the marble-topped tables, amused with the scene, are the comparatively few, who, instead of having hands in the games, for the most part keep their hands in their pockets. These may be the philosophes. But here and there, with a curious expression, one is reading a small sort of handbill of anonymous poetry, rather wordily entitled: --

"O D E

On the floor are many copies, looking as if fluttered down from a balloon. The way they came there was this: A somewhat elderly person, in the quaker dress,

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had quietly passed through the cabin, and, much in the manner of those railway book-peddlers who precede their proffers of sale by a distribution of puffs, direct or indirect, of the volumes to follow, had, without speaking, handed about the odes, which, for the most part, after a cursory glance, had been disrespectfully tossed aside, as no doubt, the moonstruck production of some wandering rhapsodist.

In due time, book under arm, in trips the ruddy man with the traveling-cap, who, lightly moving to and fro, looks animatedly about him, with a yearning sort of gratulatory affinity and longing, expressive of the very soul of sociality; as much as to say, "Oh, boys, would that I were personally acquainted with each mother's son of you, since what a sweet world, to make sweet acquaintance in, is ours, my brothers; yea, and what dear, happy dogs are we all!"

And just as if he had really warbled it forth, he makes fraternally up to one lounging stranger or another, exchanging with him some pleasant remark.

"Pray, what have you there?" he asked of one newly accosted, a little, dried-up man, who looked as if he never dined.

"A little ode, rather queer, too," was the reply, "of the same sort you see strewn on the floor here."

"I did not observe them. Let me see;" picking one up and looking it over. "Well now, this is pretty; plaintive, especially the opening: --
'Alas for man, he hath small sense
Of genial trust and confidence.'

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-- If it be so, alas for him, indeed. Runs off very smoothly, sir. Beautiful pathos. But do you think the sentiment just?"

"As to that," said the little dried-up man, "I think it a kind of queer thing altogether, and yet I am almost ashamed to add, it really has set me to thinking; yes and to feeling. Just now, somehow, I feel as it were trustful and genial. I don't know that ever I felt so much so before. I am naturally numb in my sensibilities; but this ode, in its way, works on my numbness not unlike a sermon, which, by lamenting over my lying dead in trespasses and sins, thereby stirs me up to be all alive in well-doing."

"Glad to hear it, and hope you will do well, as the doctors say. But who snowed the odes about here?"

"I cannot say; I have not been here long."

"Wasn't an angel, was it? Come, you say you feel genial, let us do as the rest, and have cards."

"Thank you, I never play cards."

"A bottle of wine?"

"Thank you, I never drink wine."


"Thank you, I never smoke cigars."

"Tell stories?"

"To speak truly, I hardly think I know one worth telling."

"Seems to me, then, this geniality you say you feel waked in you, is as water-power in a land without mills. Come, you had better take a genial hand at the

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cards. To begin, we will play for as small a sum as you please; just enough to make it interesting."

"Indeed, you must excuse me. Somehow I distrust cards."

"What, distrust cards? Genial cards? Then for once I join with our sad Philomel here: --
'Alas for man, he hath small sense
Of genial trust and confidence.'

Sauntering and chatting here and there, again, he with the book at length seems fatigued, looks round for a seat, and spying a partly-vacant settee drawn up against the side, drops down there; soon, like his chance neighbor, who happens to be the good merchant, becoming not a little interested in the scene more immediately before him; a party at whist; two cream-faced, giddy, unpolished youths, the one in a red cravat, the other in a green, opposed to two bland, grave, handsome, self-possessed men of middle age, decorously dressed in a sort of professional black, and apparently doctors of some eminence in the civil law.

By-and-by, after a preliminary scanning of the new comer next him the good merchant, sideways leaning over, whispers behind a crumpled copy of the Ode which he holds: "Sir, I don't like the looks of those two, do you?"

"Hardly," was the whispered reply; "those colored cravats are not in the best taste, at least not to mine; but my taste is no rule for all."

"You mistake; I mean the other two, and I don't

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refer to dress, but countenance. I confess I am not familiar with such gentry any further than reading about them in the papers -- but those two are -- are sharpers, aint they?"

"Far be from us the captious and fault-finding spirit, my dear sir."

"Indeed, sir, I would not find fault; I am little given that way: but certainly, to say the least, these two youths can hardly be adepts, while the opposed couple may be even more."

"You would not hint that the colored cravats would be so bungling as to lose, and the dark cravats so dextrous as to cheat? -- Sour imaginations, my dear sir. Dismiss them. To little purpose have you read the Ode you have there. Years and experience, I trust, have not sophisticated you. A fresh and liberal construction would teach us to regard those four players -- indeed, this whole cabin-full of players -- as playing at games in which every player plays fair, and not a player but shall win."

"Now, you hardly mean that; because games in which all may win, such games remain as yet in this world uninvented, I think."

"Come, come," luxuriously laying himself back, and casting a free glance upon the players, "fares all paid; digestion sound; care, toil, penury, grief, unknown; lounging on this sofa, with waistband relaxed, why not be cheerfully resigned to one's fate, nor peevishly pick holes in the blessed fate of the world?"

Upon this, the good merchant, after staring long and

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hard, and then rubbing his forehead, fell into meditation, at first uneasy, but at last composed, and in the end, once more addressed his companion: "Well, I see it's good to out with one's private thoughts now and then. Somehow, I don't know why, a certain misty suspiciousness seems inseparable from most of one's private notions about some men and some things; but once out with these misty notions, and their mere contact with other men's soon dissipates, or, at least, modifies them."

"You think I have done you good, then? may be, I have. But don't thank me, don't thank me. If by words, casually delivered in the social hour, I do any good to right or left, it is but involuntary influence -- locust-tree sweetening the herbage under it; no merit at all; mere wholesome accident, of a wholesome nature. -- Don't you see?"

Another stare from the good merchant, and both were silent again.

Finding his book, hitherto resting on his lap, rather irksome there, the owner now places it edgewise on the settee, between himself and neighbor; in so doing, chancing to expose the lettering on the back -- "Black Rapids Coal Company" -- which the good merchant, scrupulously honorable, had much ado to avoid reading, so directly would it have fallen under his eye, had he not conscientiously averted it. On a sudden, as if just reminded of something, the stranger starts up, and moves away, in his haste leaving his book; which the merchant observing, without delay takes it up, and,

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hurrying after, civilly returns it; in which act he could not avoid catching sight by an involuntary glance of part of the lettering.

"Thank you, thank you, my good sir," said the other, receiving the volume, and was resuming his retreat, when the merchant spoke: "Excuse me, but are you not in some way connected with the -- the Coal Company I have heard of?"

"There is more than one Coal Company that may be heard of, my good sir," smiled the other, pausing with an expression of painful impatience, disinterestedly mastered.

"But you are connected with one in particular. -- The 'Black Rapids,' are you not?"

"How did you find that out?"

"Well, sir, I have heard rather tempting information of your Company."

"Who is your informant, pray," somewhat coldly.

"A -- a person by the name of Ringman."

"Don't know him. But, doubtless, there are plenty who know our Company, whom our Company does not know; in the same way that one may know an individual, yet be unknown to him. -- Known this Ringman long? Old friend, I suppose. -- But pardon, I must leave you."

"Stay, sir, that -- that stock."


"Yes, it's a little irregular, perhaps, but --"

"Dear me, you don't think of doing any business with me, do you? In my official capacity I have not

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been authenticated to you. This transfer-book, now," holding it up so as to bring the lettering in sight, "how do you know that it may not be a bogus one? And I, being personally a stranger to you, how can you have confidence in me?"

"Because," knowingly smiled the good merchant, "if you were other than I have confidence that you are, hardly would you challenge distrust that way."

"But you have not examined my book."

"What need to, if already I believe that it is what it is lettered to be?"

"But you had better. It might suggest doubts."

"Doubts, may be, it might suggest, but not knowledge; for how, by examining the book, should I think I knew any more than I now think I do; since, if it be the true book, I think it so already; and since if it be otherwise, then I have never seen the true one, and don't know what that ought to look like."

"Your logic I will not criticize, but your confidence I admire, and earnestly, too, jocose as was the method I took to draw it out. Enough, we will go to yonder table, and if there be any business which, either in my private or official capacity, I can help you do, pray command me."

[ 86 ]



The transaction concluded, the two still remained seated, falling into familiar conversation, by degrees verging into that confidential sort of sympathetic silence, the last refinement and luxury of unaffected good feeling. A kind of social superstition, to suppose that to be truly friendly one must be saying friendly words all the time, any more than be doing friendly deeds continually. True friendliness, like true religion, being in a sort independent of works.

At length, the good merchant, whose eyes were pensively resting upon the gay tables in the distance, broke the spell by saying that, from the spectacle before them, one would little divine what other quarters of the boat might reveal. He cited the case, accidentally encountered but an hour or two previous, of a shrunken old miser, clad in shrunken old moleskin, stretched out, an invalid, on a bare plank in the emigrants' quarters, eagerly clinging to life and lucre, though the one was gasping for outlet, and about the other he was in torment lest death, or some other unprincipled cut-purse, should be the means of his losing it; by like feeble

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tenure holding lungs and pouch, and yet knowing and desiring nothing beyond them; for his mind, never raised above mould, was now all but mouldered away. To such a degree, indeed, that he had no trust in anything, not even in his parchment bonds, which, the better to preserve from the tooth of time, he had packed down and sealed up, like brandy peaches, in a tin case of spirits.

The worthy man proceeded at some length with these dispiriting particulars. Nor would his cheery companion wholly deny that there might be a point of view from which such a case of extreme want of confidence might, to the humane mind, present features not altogether welcome as wine and olives after dinner. Still, he was not without compensatory considerations, and, upon the whole, took his companion to task for evincing what, in a good-natured, round-about way, he hinted to be a somewhat jaundiced sentimentality. Nature, he added, in Shakespeare's words, had meal and bran; and, rightly regarded, the bran in its way was not to be condemned.

The other was not disposed to question the justice of Shakespeare's thought, but would hardly admit the propriety of the application in this instance, much less of the comment. So, after some further temperate discussion of the pitiable miser, finding that they could not entirely harmonize, the merchant cited another case, that of the negro cripple. But his companion suggested whether the alleged hardships of that alleged unfortunate might not exist more in the pity of the observer

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than the experience of the observed. He knew nothing about the cripple, nor had seen him, but ventured to surmise that, could one but get at the real state of his heart, he would be found about as happy as most men, if not, in fact, full as happy as the speaker himself. He added that negroes were by nature a singularly cheerful race; no one ever heard of a native-born African Zimmermann or Torquemada; that even from religion they dismissed all gloom; in their hilarious rituals they danced, so to speak, and, as it were, cut pigeon-wings. It was improbable, therefore, that a negro, however reduced to his stumps by fortune, could be ever thrown off the legs of a laughing philosophy.

Foiled again, the good merchant would not desist, but ventured still a third case, that of the man with the weed, whose story, as narrated by himself, and confirmed and filled out by the testimony of a certain man in a gray coat, whom the merchant had afterwards met, he now proceeded to give; and that, without holding back those particulars disclosed by the second informant, but which delicacy had prevented the unfortunate man himself from touching upon.

But as the good merchant could, perhaps, do better justice to the man than the story, we shall venture to tell it in other words than his, though not to any other effect.

[ 89 ]



It appeared that the unfortunate man had had for a wife one of those natures, anomalously vicious, which would almost tempt a metaphysical lover of our species to doubt whether the human form be, in all cases, conclusive evidence of humanity, whether, sometimes, it may not be a kind of unpledged and indifferent tabernacle, and whether, once for all to crush the saying of Thrasea, (an unaccountable one, considering that he himself was so good a man) that "he who hates vice, hates humanity," it should not, in self-defense, be held for a reasonable maxim, that none but the good are human.

Goneril was young, in person lithe and straight, too straight, indeed, for a woman, a complexion naturally rosy, and which would have been charmingly so, but for a certain hardness and bakedness, like that of the glazed colors on stone-ware. Her hair was of a deep, rich chestnut, but worn in close, short curls all round her head. Her Indian figure was not without its impairing effect on her bust, while her mouth would have been pretty but for a trace of moustache. Upon the whole,

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aided by the resources of the toilet, her appearance at distance was such, that some might have thought her, if anything, rather beautiful, though of a style of beauty rather peculiar and cactus-like.

It was happy for Goneril that her more striking peculiarities were less of the person than of temper and taste. One hardly knows how to reveal, that, while having a natural antipathy to such things as the breast of chicken, or custard, or peach, or grape, Goneril could yet in private make a satisfactory lunch on hard crackers and brawn of ham. She liked lemons, and the only kind of candy she loved were little dried sticks of blue clay, secretly carried in her pocket. Withal she had hard, steady health like a squaw's, with as firm a spirit and resolution. Some other points about her were likewise such as pertain to the women of savage life. Lithe though she was, she loved supineness, but upon occasion could endure like a stoic. She was taciturn, too. From early morning till about three o'clock in the afternoon she would seldom speak -- it taking that time to thaw her, by all accounts, into but talking terms with humanity. During the interval she did little but look, and keep looking out of her large, metallic eyes, which her enemies called cold as a cuttle-fish's, but which by her were esteemed gazelle-like; for Goneril was not without vanity. Those who thought they best knew her, often wondered what happiness such a being could take in life, not considering the happiness which is to be had by some natures in the very easy way of simply causing pain to those around them. Those who suffered from

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Goneril's strange nature, might, with one of those hyberboles to which the resentful incline, have pronounced her some kind of toad; but her worst slanderers could never, with any show of justice, have accused her of being a toady. In a large sense she possessed the virtue of independence of mind. Goneril held it flattery to hint praise even of the absent, and even if merited; but honesty, to fling people's imputed faults into their faces. This was thought malice, but it certainly was not passion. Passion is human. Like an icicle-dagger, Goneril at once stabbed and froze; so at least they said; and when she saw frankness and innocence tyrannized into sad nervousness under her spell, according to the same authority, inly she chewed her blue clay, and you could mark that she chuckled. These peculiarities were strange and unpleasing; but another was alleged, one really incomprehensible. In company she had a strange way of touching, as by accident, the arm or hand of comely young men, and seemed to reap a secret delight from it, but whether from the humane satisfaction of having given the evil-touch, as it is called, or whether it was something else in her, not equally wonderful, but quite as deplorable, remained an enigma.

Needless to say what distress was the unfortunate man's, when, engaged in conversation with company, he would suddenly perceive his Goneril bestowing her mysterious touches, especially in such cases where the strangeness of the thing seemed to strike upon the touched person, notwithstanding good-breeding forbade his proposing the mystery, on the spot, as a subject of discussion for

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the company. In these cases, too, the unfortunate man could never endure so much as to look upon the touched young gentleman afterwards, fearful of the mortification of meeting in his countenance some kind of more or less quizzingly-knowing expression. He would shudderingly shun the young gentleman. So that here, to the husband, Goneril's touch had the dread operation of the heathen taboo. Now Goneril brooked no chiding. So, at favorable times, he, in a wary manner, and not indelicately, would venture in private interviews gently to make distant allusions to this questionable propensity. She divined him. But, in her cold loveless way, said it was witless to be telling one's dreams, especially foolish ones; but if the unfortunate man liked connubially to rejoice his soul with such chimeras, much connubial joy might they give him. All this was sad -- a touching case -- but all might, perhaps, have been borne by the unfortunate man -- conscientiously mindful of his vow -- for better or for worse -- to love and cherish his dear Goneril so long as kind heaven might spare her to him -- but when, after all that had happened, the devil of jealousy entered her, a calm, clayey, cakey devil, for none other could possess her, and the object of that deranged jealousy, her own child, a little girl of seven, her father's consolation and pet; when he saw Goneril artfully torment the little innocent, and then play the maternal hypocrite with it, the unfortunate man's patient long-suffering gave way. Knowing that she would neither confess nor amend, and might, possibly, become even worse than she was, he thought it but duty as a

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father, to withdraw the child from her; but, loving it as he did, he could not do so without accompanying it into domestic exile himself. Which, hard though it was, he did. Whereupon the whole female neighborhood, who till now had little enough admired dame Goneril, broke out in indignation against a husband, who, without assigning a cause, could deliberately abandon the wife of his bosom, and sharpen the sting to her, too, by depriving her of the solace of retaining her offspring. To all this, self-respect, with Christian charity towards Goneril, long kept the unfortunate man dumb. And well had it been had he continued so; for when, driven to desperation, he hinted something of the truth of the case, not a soul would credit it; while for Goneril, she pronounced all he said to be a malicious invention. Ere long, at the suggestion of some woman's-rights women, the injured wife began a suit, and, thanks to able counsel and accommodating testimony, succeeded in such a way, as not only to recover custody of the child, but to get such a settlement awarded upon a separation, as to make penniless the unfortunate man (so he averred), besides, through the legal sympathy she enlisted, effecting a judicial blasting of his private reputation. What made it yet more lamentable was, that the unfortunate man, thinking that, before the court, his wisest plan, as well as the most Christian besides, being, as he deemed, not at variance with the truth of the matter, would be to put forth the plea of the mental derangement of Goneril, which done, he could, with less of mortification to himself, and odium to her, reveal in self-defense those

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eccentricities which had led to his retirement from the joys of wedlock, had much ado in the end to prevent this charge of derangement from fatally recoiling upon himself -- especially, when, among other things, he alleged her mysterious teachings. In vain did his counsel, striving to make out the derangement to be where, in fact, if anywhere, it was, urge that, to hold otherwise, to hold that such a being as Goneril was sane, this was constructively a libel upon womankind. Libel be it. And all ended by the unfortunate man's subsequently getting wind of Goneril's intention to procure him to be permanently committed for a lunatic. Upon which he fled, and was now an innocent outcast, wandering forlorn in the great valley of the Mississippi, with a weed on his hat for the loss of his Goneril; for he had lately seen by the papers that she was dead, and thought it but proper to comply with the prescribed form of mourning in such cases. For some days past he had been trying to get money enough to return to his child, and was but now started with inadequate funds.

Now all of this, from the beginning, the good merchant could not but consider rather hard for the unfortunate man.

[ 95 ]



Years ago, a grave American savant, being in London, observed at an evening party there, a certain coxcombical fellow, as he thought, an absurd ribbon in his lapel, and full of smart persiflage, whisking about to the admiration of as many as were disposed to admire. Great was the savan's disdain; but, chancing ere long to find himself in a corner with the jackanapes, got into conversation with him, when he was somewhat ill-prepared for the good sense of the jackanapes, but was altogether thrown aback, upon subsequently being whispered by a friend that the jackanapes was almost as great a savan as himself, being no less a personage than Sir Humphrey Davy.

The above anecdote is given just here by way of an anticipative reminder to such readers as, from the kind of jaunty levity, or what may have passed for such, hitherto for the most part appearing in the man with the traveling-cap, may have been tempted into a more or less hasty estimate of him; that such readers, when

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they find the same person, as they presently will, capable of philosophic and humanitarian discourse -- no mere casual sentence or two as heretofore at times, but solidly sustained throughout an almost entire sitting; that they may not, like the American savan, be thereupon betrayed into any surprise incompatible with their own good opinion of their previous penetration.

The merchant's narration being ended, the other would not deny but that it did in some degree affect him. He hoped he was not without proper feeling for the unfortunate man. But he begged to know in what spirit he bore his alleged calamities. Did he despond or have confidence?

The merchant did not, perhaps, take the exact import of the last member of the question; but answered, that, if whether the unfortunate man was becomingly resigned under his affliction or no, was the point, he could say for him that resigned he was, and to an exemplary degree: for not only, so far as known, did he refrain from any one-sided reflections upon human goodness and human justice, but there was observable in him an air of chastened reliance, and at times tempered cheerfulness.

Upon which the other observed, that since the unfortunate man's alleged experience could not be deemed very conciliatory towards a view of human nature better than human nature was, it largely redounded to his fair-mindedness, as well as piety, that under the alleged dissuasives, apparently so, from philanthropy, he had not, in a moment of excitement, been warped over to the ranks of the misanthropes. He doubted not, also,

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that with such a man his experience would, in the end, act by a complete and beneficent inversion, and so far from shaking his confidence in his kind, confirm it, and rivet it. Which would the more surely be the case, did he (the unfortunate man) at last become satisfied (as sooner or later he probably would be) that in the distraction of his mind his Goneril had not in all respects had fair play. At all events, the description of the lady, charity could not but regard as more or less exaggerated, and so far unjust. The truth probably was that she was a wife with some blemishes mixed with some beauties. But when the blemishes were displayed, her husband, no adept in the female nature, had tried to use reason with her, instead of something far more persuasive. Hence his failure to convince and convert. The act of withdrawing from her, seemed, under the circumstances, abrupt. In brief, there were probably small faults on both sides, more than balanced by large virtues; and one should not be hasty in judging.

When the merchant, strange to say, opposed views so calm and impartial, and again, with some warmth, deplored the case of the unfortunate man, his companion, not without seriousness, checked him, saying, that this would never do; that, though but in the most exceptional case, to admit the existence of unmerited misery, more particularly if alleged to have been brought about by unhindered arts of the wicked, such an admission was, to say the least, not prudent; since, with some, it might unfavorably bias their most important persuasions. Not that those persuasions were legitimately servile to such

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influences. Because, since the common occurrences of life could never, in the nature of things, steadily look one way and tell one story, as flags in the trade-wind; hence, if the conviction of a Providence, for instance, were in any way made dependent upon such variabilities as everyday events, the degree of that conviction would, in thinking minds, be subject to fluctuations akin to those of the stock-exchange during a long and uncertain war. Here he glanced aside at his transfer-book, and after a moment's pause continued. It was of the essence of a right conviction of the divine nature, as with a right conviction of the human, that, based less on experience than intuition, it rose above the zones of weather.

When now the merchant, with all his heart, coincided with this (as being a sensible, as well as religious person, he could not but do), his companion expressed satisfaction, that, in an age of some distrust on such subjects, he could yet meet with one who shared with him, almost to the full, so sound and sublime a confidence.

Still, he was far from the illiberality of denying that philosophy duly bounded was not permissible. Only he deemed it at least desirable that, when such a case as that alleged of the unfortunate man was made the subject of philosophic discussion, it should be so philosophized upon, as not to afford handles to those unblessed with the true light. For, but to grant that there was so much as a mystery about such a case, might by those persons be held for a tacit surrender of the question. And as for the apparent license temporarily permitted sometimes, to the bad over the good (as was by implication

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alleged with regard to Goneril and the unfortunate man), it might be injudicious there to lay too much polemic stress upon the doctrine of future retribution as the vindication of present impunity. For though, indeed, to the right-minded that doctrine was true, and of sufficient solace, yet with the perverse the polemic mention of it might but provoke the shallow, though mischievous conceit, that such a doctrine was but tantamount to the one which should affirm that Providence was not now, but was going to be. In short, with all sorts of cavilers, it was best, both for them and everybody, that whoever had the true light should stick behind the secure Malakoff of confidence, nor be tempted forth to hazardous skirmishes on the open ground of reason. Therefore, he deemed it unadvisable in the good man, even in the privacy of his own mind, or in communion with a congenial one, to indulge in too much latitude of philosophizing, or, indeed, of compassionating, since this might, beget an indiscreet habit of thinking and feeling which might unexpectedly betray him upon unsuitable occasions. Indeed, whether in private or public, there was nothing which a good man was more bound to guard himself against than, on some topics, the emotional unreserve of his natural heart; for, that the natural heart, in certain points, was not what it might be, men had been authoritatively admonished.

But he thought he might be getting dry.

The merchant, in his good-nature, thought otherwise, and said that he would be glad to refresh himself with such fruit all day. It was sitting under a ripe pulpit,

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and better such a seat than under a ripe peach-tree.

The other was pleased to find that he had not, as he feared, been prosing; but would rather not be considered in the formal light of a preacher; he preferred being still received in that of the equal and genial companion. To which end, throwing still more of sociability into his manner, he again reverted to the unfortunate man. Take the very worst view of that case; admit that his Goneril was, indeed, a Goneril; how fortunate to be at last rid of this Goneril, both by nature and by law? If he were acquainted with the unfortunate man, instead of condoling with him, he would congratulate him. Great good fortune had this unfortunate man. Lucky dog, he dared say, after all.

To which the merchant replied, that he earnestly hoped it might be so, and at any rate he tried his best to comfort himself with the persuasion that, if the unfortunate man was not happy in this world, he would, at least, be so in another.

His companion made no question of the unfortunate man's happiness in both worlds; and, presently calling for some champagne, invited the merchant to partake, upon the playful plea that, whatever notions other than felicitous ones he might associate with the unfortunate man, a little champagne would readily bubble away.

At intervals they slowly quaffed several glasses in silence and thoughtfulness. At last the merchant's expressive face flushed, his eye moistly beamed, his lips trembled with an imaginative and feminine sensibility.

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Without sending a single fume to his head, the wine seemed to shoot to his heart, and begin soothsaying there. "Ah," he cried, pushing his glass from him, "Ah, wine is good, and confidence is good; but can wine or confidence percolate down through all the stony strata of hard considerations, and drop warmly and ruddily into the cold cave of truth? Truth will not be comforted. Led by dear charity, lured by sweet hope, fond fancy essays this feat; but in vain; mere dreams and ideals, they explode in your hand, leaving naught but the scorching behind!"

"Why, why, why!" in amaze, at the burst: "bless me, if In vino veritas be a true saying, then, for all the fine confidence you professed with me, just now, distrust, deep distrust, underlies it; and ten thousand strong, like the Irish Rebellion, breaks out in you now. That wine, good wine, should do it! Upon my soul," half seriously, half humorously, securing the bottle, "you shall drink no more of it. Wine was meant to gladden the heart, not grieve it; to heighten confidence, not depress it."

Sobered, shamed, all but confounded, by this raillery, the most telling rebuke under such circumstances, the merchant stared about him, and then, with altered mien, stammeringly confessed, that he was almost as much surprised as his companion, at what had escaped him. He did not understand it; was quite at a loss to account for such a rhapsody popping out of him unbidden. It could hardly be the champagne; he felt his brain unaffected; in fact, if anything, the wine had acted upon

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it something like white of egg in coffee, clarifying and brightening.

"Brightening? brightening it may be, but less like the white of egg in coffee, than like stove-lustre on a stove -- black, brightening seriously, I repent calling for the champagne. To a temperament like yours, champagne is not to be recommended. Pray, my dear sir, do you feel quite yourself again? Confidence restored?"

"I hope so; I think I may say it is so. But we have had a long talk, and I think I must retire now."

So saying, the merchant rose, and making his adieus, left the table with the air of one, mortified at having been tempted by his own honest goodness, accidentally stimulated into making mad disclosures -- to himself as to another -- of the queer, unaccountable caprices of his natural heart.

[ 103 ]



As the last chapter was begun with a reminder looking forwards, so the present must consist of one glancing backwards.

To some, it may raise a degree of surprise that one so full of confidence, as the merchant has throughout shown himself, up to the moment of his late sudden impulsiveness, should, in that instance, have betrayed such a depth of discontent. He may be thought inconsistent, and even so he is. But for this, is the author to be blamed? True, it may be urged that there is nothing a writer of fiction should more carefully see to, as there is nothing a sensible reader will more carefully look for, than that, in the depiction of any character, its consistency should be preserved. But this, though at first blush, seeming reasonable enough, may, upon a closer view, prove not so much so. For how does it couple with another requirement -- equally insisted upon, perhaps -- that, while to all fiction is allowed some play of invention, yet, fiction based on fact should never be contradictory to it; and is it not a fact, that, in real life, a consistent

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character is a rara avis? Which being so, the distaste of readers to the contrary sort in books, can hardly arise from any sense of their untrueness. It may rather be from perplexity as to understanding them. But if the acutest sage be often at his wits' ends to understand living character, shall those who are not sages expect to run and read character in those mere phantoms which flit along a page, like shadows along a wall? That fiction, where every character can, by reason of its consistency, be comprehended at a glance, either exhibits but sections of character, making them appear for wholes, or else is very untrue to reality; while, on the other hand, that author who draws a character, even though to common view incongruous in its parts, as the flying-squirrel, and, at different periods, as much at variance with itself as the butterfly is with the caterpillar into which it changes, may yet, in so doing, be not false but faithful to facts.

If reason be judge, no writer has produced such inconsistent characters as nature herself has. It must call for no small sagacity in a reader unerringly to discriminate in a novel between the inconsistencies of conception and those of life as elsewhere. Experience is the only guide here; but as no one man can be coextensive with what is, it may be unwise in every ease to rest upon it. When the duck-billed beaver of Australia was first brought stuffed to England, the naturalists, appealing to their classifications, maintained that there was, in reality, no such creature; the bill in the specimen must needs be, in some way, artificially stuck on.

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But let nature, to the perplexity of the naturalists, produce her duck-billed beavers as she may, lesser authors some may hold, have no business to be perplexing readers with duck-billed characters. Always, they should represent human nature not in obscurity, but transparency, which, indeed, is the practice with most novelists, and is, perhaps, in certain cases, someway felt to be a kind of honor rendered by them to their kind. But, whether it involve honor or otherwise might be mooted, considering that, if these waters of human nature can be so readily seen through, it may be either that they are very pure or very shallow. Upon the whole, it might rather be thought, that he, who, in view of its inconsistencies, says of human nature the same that, in view of its contrasts, is said of the divine nature, that it is past finding out, thereby evinces a better appreciation of it than he who, by always representing it in a clear light, leaves it to be inferred that he clearly knows all about it.

But though there is a prejudice against inconsistent characters in books, yet the prejudice bears the other way, when what seemed at first their inconsistency, afterwards, by the skill of the writer, turns out to be their good keeping. The great masters excel in nothing so much as in this very particular. They challenge astonishment at the tangled web of some character, and then raise admiration still greater at their satisfactory unraveling of it; in this way throwing open, sometimes to the understanding even of school misses, the last complications of that spirit which is affirmed

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by its Creator to be fearfully and wonderfully made.

At least, something like this is claimed for certain psychological novelists; nor will the claim be here disputed. Yet, as touching this point, it may prove suggestive, that all those sallies of ingenuity, having for their end the revelation of human nature on fixed principles, have, by the best judges, been excluded with contempt from the ranks of the sciences -- palmistry, physiognomy, phrenology, psychology. Likewise, the fact, that in all ages such conflicting views have, by the most eminent minds, been taken of mankind, would, as with other topics, seem some presumption of a pretty general and pretty thorough ignorance of it. Which may appear the less improbable if it be considered that, after poring over the best novels professing to portray human nature, the studious youth will still run risk of being too often at fault upon actually entering the world; whereas, had he been furnished with a true delineation, it ought to fare with him something as with a stranger entering, map in hand, Boston town; the streets may be very crooked, he may often pause; but, thanks to his true map, he does not hopelessly lose his way. Nor, to this comparison, can it be an adequate objection, that the twistings of the town are always the same, and those of human nature subject to variation. The grand points of human nature are the same to-day they were a thousand years ago. The only variability in them is in expression, not in feature.

But as, in spite of seeming discouragement, some

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mathematicians are yet in hopes of hitting upon an exact method of determining the longitude, the more earnest psychologists may, in the face of previous failures, still cherish expectations with regard to some mode of infallibly discovering the heart of man.

But enough has been said by way of apology for whatever may have seemed amiss or obscure in the character of the merchant; so nothing remains but to turn to our comedy, or, rather, to pass from the comedy of thought to that of action.

[ 108 ]



The merchant having withdrawn, the other remained seated alone for a time, with the air of one who, after having conversed with some excellent man, carefully ponders what fell from him, however intellectually inferior it may be, that none of the profit may be lost; happy if from any honest word he has heard he can derive some hint, which, besides confirming him in the theory of virtue, may, likewise, serve for a finger-post to virtuous action.

Ere long his eye brightened, as if some such hint was now caught. He rises, book in hand, quits the cabin, and enters upon a sort of corridor, narrow and dim, a by-way to a retreat less ornate and cheery than the former; in short, the emigrants' quarters; but which, owing to the present trip being a down-river one, will doubtless be found comparatively tenantless. Owing to obstructions against the side windows, the whole place is dim and dusky; very much so, for the most part; yet, by starts, haggardly lit here and there by narrow, capricious sky-lights in the cornices. But there

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would seem no special need for light, the place being designed more to pass the night in, than the day; in brief, a pine barrens dormitory, of knotty pine bunks, without bedding. As with the nests in the geometrical towns of the associate penguin and pelican, these bunks were disposed with Philadelphian regularity, but, like the cradle of the oriole, they were pendulous, and, moreover, were, so to speak, three-story cradles; the description of one of which will suffice for all.

Four ropes, secured to the ceiling, passed downwards through auger-holes bored in the corners of three rough planks, which at equal distances rested on knots vertically tied in the ropes, the lowermost plank but an inch or two from the floor, the whole affair resembling, on a large scale, rope book-shelves; only, instead of hanging firmly against a wall, they swayed to and fro at the least suggestion of motion, but were more especially lively upon the provocation of a green emigrant sprawling into one, and trying to lay himself out there, when the cradling would be such as almost to toss him back whence he came. In consequence, one less inexperienced, essaying repose on the uppermost shelf, was liable to serious disturbance, should a raw beginner select a shelf beneath. Sometimes a throng of poor emigrants, coming at night in a sudden rain to occupy these oriole nests, would -- through ignorance of their peculiarity -- bring about such a rocking uproar of carpentry, joining to it such an uproar of exclamations, that it seemed as if some luckless ship, with all its crew, was being dashed to pieces among the rocks. They were beds devised

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by some sardonic foe of poor travelers, to deprive them of that tranquility which should precede, as well as accompany, slumber. -- Procrustean beds, on whose hard grain humble worth and honesty writhed, still invoking repose, while but torment responded. Ah, did any one make such a bunk for himself, instead of having it made for him, it might be just, but how cruel, to say, You must lie on it!

But, purgatory as the place would appear, the stranger advances into it: and, like Orpheus in his gay descent to Tartarus, lightly hums to himself an opera snatch.

Suddenly there is a rustling, then a creaking, one of the cradles swings out from a murky nook, a sort of wasted penguin-flipper is supplicatingly put forth, while a wail like that of Dives is heard: -- "Water, water!"

It was the miser of whom the merchant had spoken.

Swift as a sister-of-charity, the stranger hovers over him: --

"My poor, poor sir, what can I do for you?"

"Ugh, ugh -- water!"

Darting out, he procures a glass, returns, and, holding it to the sufferer's lips, supports his head while he drinks: "And did they let you lie here, my poor sir, racked with this parching thirst?"

The miser, a lean old man, whose flesh seemed salted cod-fish, dry as combustibles; head, like one whittled by an idiot out of a knot; flat, bony mouth, nipped between buzzard nose and chin; expression, flitting

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between hunks and imbecile -- now one, now the other -- he made no response. His eyes were closed, his cheek lay upon an old white moleskin coat, rolled under his head like a wizened apple upon a grimy snow-bank.

Revived at last, he inclined towards his ministrant, and, in a voice disastrous with a cough, said: -- "I am old and miserable, a poor beggar, not worth a shoestring -- how can I repay you?"

"By giving me your confidence."

"Confidence!" he squeaked, with changed manner, while the pallet swung, "little left at my age, but take the stale remains, and welcome."

"Such as it is, though, you give it. Very good. Now give me a hundred dollars."

Upon this the miser was all panic. His hands groped towards his waist, then suddenly flew upward beneath his moleskin pillow, and there lay clutching something out of sight. Meantime, to himself he incoherently mumbled: -- "Confidence? Cant, gammon! Confidence? hum, bubble! -- Confidence? fetch, gouge! -- Hundred dollars? -- hundred devils!"

Half spent, he lay mute awhile, then feebly raising himself, in a voice for the moment made strong by the sarcasm, said, "A hundred dollars? rather high price to put upon confidence. But don't you see I am a poor, old rat here, dying in the wainscot? You have served me; but, wretch that I am, I can but cough you my thanks, -- ugh, ugh, ugh!"

This time his cough was so violent that its convulsions were imparted to the plank, which swung him

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about like a stone in a sling preparatory to its being hurled.

"Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"What a shocking cough. I wish, my friend, the herb-doctor was here now; a box of his Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator would do you good."

"Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"I've a good mind to go find him. He's aboard somewhere. I saw his long, snuff-colored surtout. Trust me, his medicines are the best in the world."

"Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"Oh, how sorry I am."

"No doubt of it," squeaked the other again, "but go, get your charity out on deck. There parade the pursy peacocks; they don't cough down here in desertion and darkness, like poor old me. Look how scaly a pauper I am, clove with this churchyard cough. Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"Again, how sorry I feel, not only for your cough, but your poverty. Such a rare chance made unavailable. Did you have but the sum named, how I could invest it for you. Treble profits. But confidence -- I fear that, even had you the precious cash, you would not have the more precious confidence I speak of."

"Ugh, ugh, ugh!" flightily raising himself. "What's that? How, how? Then you don't want the money for yourself?"

"My dear, dear sir, how could you impute to me

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such preposterous self-seeking? To solicit out of hand, for my private behoof, an hundred dollars from a perfect stranger? I am not mad, my dear sir."

"How, how?" still more bewildered, "do you, then, go about the world, gratis, seeking to invest people's money for them?"

"My humble profession, sir. I live not for myself; but the world will not have confidence in me, and yet confidence in me were great gain."

"But, but," in a kind of vertigo, "what do -- do you do -- do with people's money? Ugh, ugh! How is the gain made?"

"To tell that would ruin me. That known, every one would be going into the business, and it would be overdone. A secret, a mystery -- all I have to do with you is to receive your confidence, and all you have to do with me is, in due time, to receive it back, thrice paid in trebling profits."

"What, what?" imbecility in the ascendant once more; "but the vouchers, the vouchers," suddenly hunkish again.

"Honesty's best voucher is honesty's face."

"Can't see yours, though," peering through the obscurity.

From this last alternating flicker of rationality, the miser fell back, sputtering, into his previous gibberish, but it took now an arithmetical turn. Eyes closed, he lay muttering to himself --

"One hundred, one hundred -- two hundred, two hundred -- three hundred, three hundred."

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He opened his eyes, feebly stared, and still more feebly said --

"It's a little dim here, ain't it? Ugh, ugh! But, as well as my poor old eyes can see, you look honest."

"I am glad to hear that."

"If -- if, now, I should put" -- trying to raise himself, but vainly, excitement having all but exhausted him -- "if, if now, I should put, put --"

"No ifs. Downright confidence, or none. So help me heaven, I will have no half-confidences."

He said it with an indifferent and superior air, and seemed moving to go.

"Don't, don't leave me, friend; bear with me; age can't help some distrust; it can't, friend, it can't. Ugh, ugh, ugh! Oh, I am so old and miserable. I ought to have a guardian. Tell me, if --"

"If? No more!"

"Stay! how soon -- ugh, ugh! -- would my money be trebled? How soon, friend?"

"You won't confide. Good-bye!"

"Stay, stay," falling back now like an infant, "I confide, I confide; help, friend, my distrust!"

From an old buckskin pouch, tremulously dragged forth, ten hoarded eagles, tarnished into the appearance of ten old horn-buttons, were taken, and half-eagerly, half-reluctantly, offered.

"I know not whether I should accept this slack confidence," said the other coldly, receiving the gold, "but an eleventh-hour confidence, a sick-bed confidence, a

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distempered, death-bed confidence, after all. Give me the healthy confidence of healthy men, with their healthy wits about them. But let that pass. All right. Good-bye!"

"Nay, back, back -- receipt, my receipt! Ugh, ugh, ugh! Who are you? What have I done? Where go you? My gold, my gold! Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

But, unluckily for this final flicker of reason, the stranger was now beyond ear-shot, nor was any one else within hearing of so feeble a call.

[ 116 ]



The sky slides into blue, the bluffs into bloom; the rapid Mississippi expands; runs sparkling and gurgling, all over in eddies; one magnified wake of a seventy-four. The sun comes out, a golden huzzar, from his tent, flashing his helm on the world. All things, warmed in the landscape, leap. Speeds the daedal boat as a dream.

But, withdrawn in a corner, wrapped about in a shawl, sits an unparticipating man, visited, but not warmed, by the sun -- a plant whose hour seems over, while buds are blowing and seeds are astir. On a stool at his left sits a stranger in a snuff-colored surtout, the collar thrown back; his hand waving in persuasive gesture, his eye beaming with hope. But not easily may hope be awakened in one long tranced into hopelessness by a chronic complaint.

To some remark the sick man, by word or look, seemed to have just made an impatiently querulous answer, when, with a deprecatory air, the other resumed:

"Nay, think not I seek to cry up my treatment by

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crying down that of others. And yet, when one is confident he has truth on his side, and that is not on the other, it is no very easy thing to be charitable; not that temper is the bar, but conscience; for charity would beget toleration, you know, which is a kind of implied permitting, and in effect a kind of countenancing; and that which is countenanced is so far furthered. But should untruth be furthered? Still, while for the world's good I refuse to further the cause of these mineral doctors, I would fain regard them, not as willful wrong-doers, but good Samaritans erring. And is this -- I put it to you, sir -- is this the view of an arrogant rival and pretender?"

His physical power all dribbled and gone, the sick man replied not by voice or by gesture; but, with feeble dumb-show of his face, seemed to be saying "Pray leave me; who was ever cured by talk?"

But the other, as if not unused to make allowances for such despondency, proceeded; and kindly, yet firmly:

"You tell me, that by advice of an eminent physiologist in Louisville, you took tincture of iron. For what? To restore your lost energy. And how? Why, in healthy subjects iron is naturally found in the blood, and iron in the bar is strong; ergo, iron is the source of animal invigoration. But you being deficient in vigor, it follows that the cause is deficiency of iron. Iron, then, must be put into you; and so your tincture. Now as to the theory here, I am mute. But in modesty assuming its truth, and then, as a plain man viewing that theory in practice, I would respectfully question your

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eminent physiologist: 'Sir,' I would say, 'though by natural processes, lifeless natures taken as nutriment become vitalized, yet is a lifeless nature, under any circumstances, capable of a living transmission, with all its qualities as a lifeless nature unchanged? If, sir, nothing can be incorporated with the living body but by assimilation, and if that implies the conversion of one thing to a different thing (as, in a lamp, oil is assimilated into flame), is it, in this view, likely, that by banqueting on fat, Calvin Edson will fatten? That is, will what is fat on the board prove fat on the bones? If it will, then, sir, what is iron in the vial will prove iron in the vein.' Seems that conclusion too confident?"

But the sick man again turned his dumb-show look, as much as to say, "Pray leave me. Why, with painful words, hint the vanity of that which the pains of this body have too painfully proved?"

But the other, as if unobservant of that querulous look, went on:

"But this notion, that science can play farmer to the flesh, making there what living soil it pleases, seems not so strange as that other conceit -- that science is now-a-days so expert that, in consumptive cases, as yours, it can, by prescription of the inhalation of certain vapors, achieve the sublimest act of omnipotence, breathing into all but lifeless dust the breath of life. For did you not tell me, my poor sir, that by order of the great chemist in Baltimore, for three weeks you were never driven out without a respirator, and for a given time of every day sat bolstered up in a sort of gasometer, inspiring

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vapors generated by the burning of drugs? as if this concocted atmosphere of man were an antidote to the poison of God's natural air. Oh, who can wonder at that old reproach against science, that it is atheistical? And here is my prime reason for opposing these chemical practitioners, who have sought out so many inventions. For what do their inventions indicate, unless it be that kind and degree of pride in human skill, which seems scarce compatible with reverential dependence upon the power above? Try to rid my mind of it as I may, yet still these chemical practitioners with their tinctures, and fumes, and braziers, and occult incantations, seem to me like Pharaoh's vain sorcerers, trying to beat down the will of heaven. Day and night, in all charity, I intercede for them, that heaven may not, in its own language, be provoked to anger with their inventions; may not take vengeance of their inventions. A thousand pities that you should ever have been in the hands of these Egyptians."

But again came nothing but the dumb-show look, as much as to say, "Pray leave me; quacks, and indignation against quacks, both are vain."

But, once more, the other went on: "How different we herb-doctors! who claim nothing, invent nothing; but staff in hand, in glades, and upon hillsides, go about in nature, humbly seeking her cures. True Indian doctors, though not learned in names, we are not unfamiliar with essences -- successors of Solomon the Wise, who knew all vegetables, from the cedar of Lebanon, to the hyssop on the wall. Yes, Solomon was the first of

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herb-doctors. Nor were the virtues of herbs unhonored by yet older ages. Is it not writ, that on a moonlight night,
"Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Aeson?"
Ah, would you but have confidence, you should be the new Aeson, and I your Medea. A few vials of my Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator would, I am certain, give you some strength."

Upon this, indignation and abhorrence seemed to work by their excess the effect promised of the balsam. Roused from that long apathy of impotence, the cadaverous man started, and, in a voice that was as the sound of obstructed air gurgling through a maze of broken honey-combs, cried: "Begone! You are all alike. The name of doctor, the dream of helper, condemns you. For years I have been but a gallipot for you experimentizers to rinse your experiments into, and now, in this livid skin, partake of the nature of my contents. Begone! I hate ye."

"I were inhuman, could I take affront at a want of confidence, born of too bitter an experience of betrayers. Yet, permit one who is not without feeling --"

"Begone! Just in that voice talked to me, not six months ago, the German doctor at the water cure, from which I now return, six months and sixty pangs nigher my grave."

"The water-cure? Oh, fatal delusion of the well-meaning Preisnitz! -- Sir, trust me --"

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"Nay, an invalid should not always have his own way. Ah, sir, reflect how untimely this distrust in one like you. How weak you are; and weakness, is it not the time for confidence? Yes, when through weakness everything bids despair, then is the time to get strength by confidence."

Relenting in his air, the sick man cast upon him a long glance of beseeching, as if saying, "With confidence must come hope; and how can hope be?"

The herb-doctor took a sealed paper box from his surtout pocket, and holding it towards him, said solemnly, "Turn not away. This may be the last time of health's asking. Work upon yourself; invoke confidence, though from ashes; rouse it; for your life, rouse it, and invoke it, I say."

The other trembled, was silent; and then, a little commanding himself, asked the ingredients of the medicine.


"What herbs? And the nature of them? And the reason for giving them?"

"It cannot be made known."

"Then I will none of you."

Sedately observant of the juiceless, joyless form before him, the herb-doctor was mute a moment, then said: -- "I give up."


"You are sick, and a philosopher."

"No, no; -- not the last."

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"But, to demand the ingredient, with the reason for giving, is the mark of a philosopher; just as the consequence is the penalty of a fool. A sick philosopher is incurable?"


"Because he has no confidence."

"How does that make him incurable?"

"Because either he spurns his powder, or, if he take it, it proves a blank cartridge, though the same given to a rustic in like extremity, would act like a charm. I am no materialist; but the mind so acts upon the body, that if the one have no confidence, neither has the other."

Again, the sick man appeared not unmoved. He seemed to be thinking what in candid truth could be said to all this. At length, "You talk of confidence. How comes it that when brought low himself, the herb-doctor, who was most confident to prescribe in other cases, proves least confident to prescribe in his own; having small confidence in himself for himself?"

"But he has confidence in the brother he calls in. And that he does so, is no reproach to him, since he knows that when the body is prostrated, the mind is not erect. Yes, in this hour the herb-doctor does distrust himself, but not his art."

The sick man's knowledge did not warrant him to gainsay this. But he seemed not grieved at it; glad to be confuted in a way tending towards his wish.

"Then you give me hope?" his sunken eye turned up.

"Hope is proportioned to confidence. How much confidence you give me, so much hope do I give you.

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For this," lifting the box, "if all depended upon this, I should rest. It is nature's own."


"Why do you start?"

"I know not," with a sort of shudder, "but I have heard of a book entitled 'Nature in Disease.'"

"A title I cannot approve; it is suspiciously scientific. 'Nature in Disease?' As if nature, divine nature, were aught but health; as if through nature disease is decreed! But did I not before hint of the tendency of science, that forbidden tree? Sir, if despondency is yours from recalling that title, dismiss it. Trust me, nature is health; for health is good, and nature cannot work ill. As little can she work error. Get nature, and you get well. Now, I repeat, this medicine is nature's own."

Again the sick man could not, according to his light, conscientiously disprove what was said. Neither, as before, did he seem over-anxious to do so; the less, as in his sensitiveness it seemed to him, that hardly could he offer so to do without something like the appearance of a kind of implied irreligion; nor in his heart was he ungrateful, that since a spirit opposite to that pervaded all the herb-doctor's hopeful words, therefore, for hopefulness, he (the sick man) had not alone medical warrant, but also doctrinal.

"Then you do really think," hectically, "that if I take this medicine," mechanically reaching out for it, "I shall regain my health?"

"I will not encourage false hopes," relinquishing to

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him the box, "I will be frank with you. Though frankness is not always the weakness of the mineral practitioner, yet the herb doctor must be frank, or nothing. Now then, sir, in your case, a radical cure -- such a cure, understand, as should make you robust -- such a cure, sir, I do not and cannot promise."

"Oh, you need not! only restore me the power of being something else to others than a burdensome care, and to myself a droning grief. Only cure me of this misery of weakness; only make me so that I can walk about in the sun and not draw the flies to me, as lured by the coming of decay. Only do that -- but that."

"You ask not much; you are wise; not in vain have you suffered. That little you ask, I think, can be granted. But remember, not in a day, nor a week, nor perhaps a month, but sooner or later; I say not exactly when, for I am neither prophet nor charlatan. Still, if, according to the directions in your box there, you take my medicine steadily, without assigning an especial day, near or remote, to discontinue it, then may you calmly look for some eventual result of good. But again I say, you must have confidence."

Feverishly he replied that he now trusted he had, and hourly should pray for its increase. When suddenly relapsing into one of those strange caprices peculiar to some invalids, he added: "But to one like me, it is so hard, so hard. The most confident hopes so often have failed me, and as often have I vowed never, no, never, to trust them again. Oh," feebly wringing his hands, "you do not know, you do not know."

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"I know this, that never did a right confidence, come to naught. But time is short; you hold your cure, to retain or reject."

"I retain," with a clinch, "and now how much?"

"As much as you can evoke from your heart and heaven."

"How? -- the price of this medicine?"

"I thought it was confidence you meant; how much confidence you should have. The medicine, -- that is half a dollar a vial. Your box holds six."

The money was paid.

"Now, sir," said the herb-doctor, "my business calls me away, and it may so be that I shall never see you again; if then --"

He paused, for the sick man's countenance fell blank.

"Forgive me," cried the other, "forgive that imprudent phrase 'never see you again.' Though I solely intended it with reference to myself, yet I had forgotten what your sensitiveness might be. I repeat, then, that it may be that we shall not soon have a second interview, so that hereafter, should another of my boxes be needed, you may not be able to replace it except by purchase at the shops; and, in so doing, you may run more or less risk of taking some not salutary mixture. For such is the popularity of the Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator -- thriving not by the credulity of the simple, but the trust of the wise -- that certain contrivers have not been idle, though I would not, indeed, hastily affirm of them that they are aware of the sad consequences to the public. Homicides and murderers, some call those contrivers;

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but I do not; for murder (if such a crime be possible) comes from the heart, and these men's motives come from the purse. Were they not in poverty, I think they would hardly do what they do. Still, the public interests forbid that I should let their needy device for a living succeed. In short, I have adopted precautions. Take the wrapper from any of my vials and hold it to the light, you will see water-marked in capitals the word 'confidence,' which is the countersign of the medicine, as I wish it was of the world. The wrapper bears that mark or else the medicine is counterfeit. But if still any lurking doubt should remain, pray enclose the wrapper to this address," handing a card, "and by return mail I will answer."

At first the sick man listened, with the air of vivid interest, but gradually, while the other was still talking, another strange caprice came over him, and he presented the aspect of the most calamitous dejection.

"How now?" said the herb-doctor.

"You told me to have confidence, said that confidence was indispensable, and here you preach to me distrust. Ah, truth will out!"

"I told you, you must have confidence, unquestioning confidence, I meant confidence in the genuine medicine, and the genuine me."

"But in your absence, buying vials purporting to be yours, it seems I cannot have unquestioning confidence."

"Prove all the vials; trust those which are true."

"But to doubt, to suspect, to prove -- to have all this

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wearing work to be doing continually -- how opposed to confidence. It is evil!"

"From evil comes good. Distrust is a stage to confidence. How has it proved in our interview? But your voice is husky; I have let you talk too much. You hold your cure; I will leave you. But stay -- when I hear that health is yours, I will not, like some I know, vainly make boasts; but, giving glory where all glory is due, say, with the devout herb-doctor, Japus in Virgil, when, in the unseen but efficacious presence of Venus, he with simples healed the wound of Aeneas: --
'This is no mortal work, no cure of mine,
Nor art's effect, but done by power divine.'"

[ 128 ]



In a kind of ante-cabin, a number of respectable looking people, male and female, way-passengers, recently come on board, are listlessly sitting in a mutually shy sort of silence.

Holding up a small, square bottle, ovally labeled with the engraving of a countenance full of soft pity as that of the Romish-painted Madonna, the herb-doctor passes slowly among them, benignly urbane, turning this way and that, saying: --

"Ladies and gentlemen, I hold in my hand here the Samaritan Pain Dissuader, thrice-blessed discovery of that disinterested friend of humanity whose portrait you see. Pure vegetable extract. Warranted to remove the acutest pain within less than ten minutes. Five hundred dollars to be forfeited on failure. Especially efficacious in heart disease and tic-douloureux. Observe the expression of this pledged friend of humanity. -- Price only fifty cents."

In vain. After the first idle stare, his auditors -- in pretty good health, it seemed -- instead of encouraging

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his politeness, appeared, if anything, impatient of it; and, perhaps, only diffidence, or some small regard for his feelings, prevented them from telling him so. But, insensible to their coldness, or charitably overlooking it, he more wooingly than ever resumed: "May I venture upon a small supposition? Have I your kind leave, ladies and gentlemen?"

To which modest appeal, no one had the kindness to answer a syllable.

"Well," said he, resignedly, "silence is at least not denial, and may be consent. My supposition is this: possibly some lady, here present, has a dear friend at home, a bed-ridden sufferer from spinal complaint. If so, what gift more appropriate to that sufferer than this tasteful little bottle of Pain Dissuader?"

Again he glanced about him, but met much the same reception as before. Those faces, alien alike to sympathy or surprise, seemed patiently to say, "We are travelers; and, as such, must expect to meet, and quietly put up with, many antic fools, and more antic quacks."

"Ladies and gentlemen," (deferentially fixing his eyes upon their now self-complacent faces) "ladies and gentlemen, might I, by your kind leave, venture upon one other small supposition? It is this: that there is scarce a sufferer, this noonday, writhing on his bed, but in his hour he sat satisfactorily healthy and happy; that the Samaritan Pain Dissuader is the one only balm for that to which each living creature -- who knows? -- may be a draughted victim, present or prospective. In short: -- Oh, Happiness on my right hand, and oh, Security

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on my left, can ye wisely adore a Providence, and not think it wisdom to provide? -- Provide!" (Uplifting the bottle.)

What immediate effect, if any, this appeal might have had, is uncertain. For just then the boat touched at a houseless landing, scooped, as by a land-slide, out of sombre forests; back through which led a road, the sole one, which, from its narrowness, and its being walled up with story on story of dusk, matted foliage, presented the vista of some cavernous old gorge in a city, like haunted Cock Lane in London. Issuing from that road, and crossing that landing, there stooped his shaggy form in the door-way, and entered the ante-cabin, with a step so burdensome that shot seemed in his pockets, a kind of invalid Titan in homespun; his beard blackly pendant, like the Carolina-moss, and dank with cypress dew; his countenance tawny and shadowy as an iron-ore country in a clouded day. In one hand he carried a heavy walking-stick of swamp-oak; with the other, led a puny girl, walking in moccasins, not improbably his child, but evidently of alien maternity, perhaps Creole, or even Camanche. Her eye would have been large for a woman, and was inky as the pools of falls among mountain-pines. An Indian blanket, orange-hued, and fringed with lead tassel-work, appeared that morning to have shielded the child from heavy showers. Her limbs were tremulous; she seemed a little Cassandra, in nervousness.

No sooner was the pair spied by the herb-doctor, than with a cheerful air, both arms extended like a host's, he

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advanced, and taking the child's reluctant hand, said, trippingly: "On your travels, ah, my little May Queen? Glad to see you. What pretty moccasins. Nice to dance in." Then with a half caper sang --
"'Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle;
The cow jumped over the moon.'
Come, chirrup, chirrup, my little robin!"

Which playful welcome drew no responsive playfulness from the child, nor appeared to gladden or conciliate the father; but rather, if anything, to dash the dead weight of his heavy-hearted expression with a smile hypochondriacally scornful.

Sobering down now, the herb-doctor addressed the stranger in a manly, business-like way -- a transition which, though it might seem a little abrupt, did not appear constrained, and, indeed, served to show that his recent levity was less the habit of a frivolous nature, than the frolic condescension of a kindly heart.

"Excuse me," said he, "but, if I err not, I was speaking to you the other day; -- on a Kentucky boat, wasn't it?"

"Never to me," was the reply; the voice deep and lonesome enough to have come from the bottom of an abandoned coal-shaft.

"Ah! -- But am I again mistaken, (his eye falling on the swamp-oak stick,) or don't you go a little lame, sir?"

"Never was lame in my life."

"Indeed? I fancied I had perceived not a limp, but

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a hitch, a slight hitch; -- some experience in these things -- divined some hidden cause of the hitch -- buried bullet, may be -- some dragoons in the Mexican war discharged with such, you know. -- Hard fate!" he sighed, "little pity for it, for who sees it? -- have you dropped anything?"

Why, there is no telling, but the stranger was bowed over, and might have seemed bowing for the purpose of picking up something, were it not that, as arrested in the imperfect posture, he for the moment so remained; slanting his tall stature like a mainmast yielding to the gale, or Adam to the thunder.

The little child pulled him. With a kind of a surge he righted himself, for an instant looked toward the herb-doctor; but, either from emotion or aversion, or both together, withdrew his eyes, saying nothing. Presently, still stooping, he seated himself, drawing his child between his knees, his massy hands tremulous, and still averting his face, while up into the compassionate one of the herb-doctor the child turned a fixed, melancholy glance of repugnance.

The herb-doctor stood observant a moment, then said:

"Surely you have pain, strong pain, somewhere; in strong frames pain is strongest. Try, now, my specific," (holding it up). "Do but look at the expression of this friend of humanity. Trust me, certain cure for any pain in the world. Won't you look?"

"No," choked the other.

"Very good. Merry time to you, little May Queen."

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And so, as if he would intrude his cure upon no one, moved pleasantly off, again crying his wares, nor now at last without result. A new-comer, not from the shore, but another part of the boat, a sickly young man, after some questions, purchased a bottle. Upon this, others of the company began a little to wake up as it were; the scales of indifference or prejudice fell from their eyes; now, at last, they seemed to have an inkling that here was something not undesirable which might be had for the buying.

But while, ten times more briskly bland than ever, the herb-doctor was driving his benevolent trade, accompanying each sale with added praises of the thing traded, all at once the dusk giant, seated at some distance, unexpectedly raised his voice with --

"What was that you last said?"

The question was put distinctly, yet resonantly, as when a great clock-bell -- stunning admonisher -- strikes one; and the stroke, though single, comes bedded in the belfry clamor.

All proceedings were suspended. Hands held forth for the specific were withdrawn, while every eye turned towards the direction whence the question came. But, no way abashed, the herb-doctor, elevating his voice with even more than wonted self-possession, replied --

"I was saying what, since you wish it, I cheerfully repeat, that the Samaritan Pain Dissuader, which I here hold in my hand, will either cure or ease any pain you please, within ten minutes after its application."

"Does it produce insensibility?"

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"By no means. Not the least of its merits is, that it is not an opiate. It kills pain without killing feeling."

"You lie! Some pains cannot be eased but by producing insensibility, and cannot be cured but by producing death."

Beyond this the dusk giant said nothing; neither, for impairing the other's market, did there appear much need to. After eying the rude speaker a moment with an expression of mingled admiration and consternation, the company silently exchanged glances of mutual sympathy under unwelcome conviction. Those who had purchased looked sheepish or ashamed; and a cynical-looking little man, with a thin flaggy beard, and a countenance ever wearing the rudiments of a grin, seated alone in a corner commanding a good view of the scene, held a rusty hat before his face.

But, again, the herb-doctor, without noticing the retort, overbearing though it was, began his panegyrics anew, and in a tone more assured than before, going so far now as to say that his specific was sometimes almost as effective in cases of mental suffering as in cases of physical; or rather, to be more precise, in cases when, through sympathy, the two sorts of pain coöperated into a climax of both -- in such cases, he said, the specific had done very well. He cited an example: Only three bottles, faithfully taken, cured a Louisiana widow (for three weeks sleepless in a darkened chamber) of neuralgic sorrow for the loss of husband and child, swept off in one night by the last epidemic. For

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the truth of this, a printed voucher was produced, duly signed.

While he was reading it aloud, a sudden side-blow all but felled him.

It was the giant, who, with a countenance lividly epileptic with hypochondriac mania, exclaimed --

"Profane fiddler on heart-strings! Snake!"

More he would have added, but, convulsed, could not; so, without another word, taking up the child, who had followed him, went with a rocking pace out of the cabin.

"Regardless of decency, and lost to humanity!" exclaimed the herb-doctor, with much ado recovering himself. Then, after a pause, during which he examined his bruise, not omitting to apply externally a little of his specific, and with some success, as it would seem, plained to himself:

"No, no, I won't seek redress; innocence is my redress. But," turning upon them all, "if that man's wrathful blow provokes me to no wrath, should his evil distrust arouse you to distrust? I do devoutly hope," proudly raising voice and arm, "for the honor of humanity -- hope that, despite this coward assault, the Samaritan Pain Dissuader stands unshaken in the confidence of all who hear me!"

But, injured as he was, and patient under it, too, somehow his case excited as little compassion as his oratory now did enthusiasm. Still, pathetic to the last, he continued his appeals, notwithstanding the frigid regard of the company, till, suddenly interrupting himself,

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as if in reply to a quick summons from without, he said hurriedly, "I come, I come," and so, with every token of precipitate dispatch, out of the cabin the herb-doctor went.

[ 137 ]



"Sha'n't see that fellow again in a hurry," remarked an auburn-haired gentleman, to his neighbor with a hook-nose. "Never knew an operator so completely unmasked."

"But do you think it the fair thing to unmask an operator that way?"

"Fair? It is right."

"Supposing that at high 'change on the Paris Bourse, Asmodeus should lounge in, distributing hand-bills, revealing the true thoughts and designs of all the operators present -- would that be the fair thing in Asmodeus? Or, as Hamlet says, were it 'to consider the thing too curiously?'"

"We won't go into that. But since you admit the fellow to be a knave --"

"I don't admit it. Or, if I did, I take it back. Shouldn't wonder if, after all, he is no knave at all, or, but little of one. What can you prove against him?"

"I can prove that he makes dupes."

"Many held in honor do the same; and many, not wholly knaves, do it too."

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"How about that last?"

"He is not wholly at heart a knave, I fancy, among whose dupes is himself. Did you not see our quack friend apply to himself his own quackery? A fanatic quack; essentially a fool, though effectively a knave."

Bending over, and looking down between his knees on the floor, the auburn-haired gentleman meditatively scribbled there awhile with his cane, then, glancing up, said:

"I can't conceive how you, in anyway, can hold him a fool. How he talked -- so glib, so pat, so well."

"A smart fool always talks well; takes a smart fool to be tonguey."

In much the same strain the discussion continued -- the hook-nosed gentleman talking at large and excellently, with a view of demonstrating that a smart fool always talks just so. Ere long he talked to such purpose as almost to convince.

Presently, back came the person of whom the auburn-haired gentleman had predicted that he would not return. Conspicuous in the door-way he stood, saying, in a clear voice, "Is the agent of the Seminole Widow and Orphan Asylum within here?"

No one replied.

"Is there within here any agent or any member of any charitable institution whatever?"

No one seemed competent to answer, or, no one thought it worth while to.

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"If there be within here any such person, I have in my hand two dollars for him."

Some interest was manifested.

"I was called away so hurriedly, I forgot this part of my duty. With the proprietor of the Samaritan Pain Dissuader it is a rule, to devote, on the spot, to some benevolent purpose, the half of the proceeds of sales. Eight bottles were disposed of among this company. Hence, four half-dollars remain to charity. Who, as steward, takes the money?"

One or two pair of feet moved upon the floor, as with a sort of itching; but nobody rose.

"Does diffidence prevail over duty? If, I say, there be any gentleman, or any lady, either, here present, who is in any connection with any charitable institution whatever, let him or her come forward. He or she happening to have at hand no certificate of such connection, makes no difference. Not of a suspicious temper, thank God, I shall have confidence in whoever offers to take the money."

A demure-looking woman, in a dress rather tawdry and rumpled, here drew her veil well down and rose; but, marking every eye upon her, thought it advisable, upon the whole, to sit down again.

"Is it to be believed that, in this Christian company, there is no one charitable person? I mean, no one connected with any charity? Well, then, is there no object of charity here?"

Upon this, an unhappy-looking woman, in a sort of mourning, neat, but sadly worn, hid her face behind a

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meagre bundle, and was heard to sob. Meantime, as not seeing or hearing her, the herb-doctor again spoke, and this time not unpathetically:

"Are there none here who feel in need of help, and who, in accepting such help, would feel that they, in their time, have given or done more than may ever be given or done to them? Man or woman, is there none such here?"

The sobs of the woman were more audible, though she strove to repress them. While nearly every one's attention was bent upon her, a man of the appearance of a day-laborer, with a white bandage across his face, concealing the side of the nose, and who, for coolness' sake, had been sitting in his red-flannel shirt-sleeves, his coat thrown across one shoulder, the darned cuffs drooping behind -- this man shufflingly rose, and, with a pace that seemed the lingering memento of the lock-step of convicts, went up for a duly-qualified claimant.

"Poor wounded huzzar!" sighed the herb-doctor, and dropping the money into the man's clam-shell of a hand turned and departed.

The recipient of the alms was about moving after, when the auburn-haired gentleman staid him: "Don't be frightened, you; but I want to see those coins. Yes, yes; good silver, good silver. There, take them again, and while you are about it, go bandage the rest of yourself behind something. D'ye hear? Consider yourself, wholly, the scar of a nose, and be off with yourself."

Being of a forgiving nature, or else from emotion not

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daring to trust his voice, the man silently, but not without some precipitancy, withdrew.

"Strange," said the auburn-haired gentleman, returning to his friend, "the money was good money."

"Aye, and where your fine knavery now? Knavery to devote the half of one's receipts to charity? He's a fool I say again."

"Others might call him an original genius."

"Yes, being original in his folly. Genius? His genius is a cracked pate, and, as this age goes, not much originality about that."

"May he not be knave, fool, and genius altogether?"

"I beg pardon," here said a third person with a gossiping expression who had been listening, "but you are somewhat puzzled by this man, and well you may be."

"Do you know anything about him?" asked the hooked-nosed gentleman.

"No, but I suspect him for something."

"Suspicion. We want knowledge."

"Well, suspect first and know next. True knowledge comes but by suspicion or revelation. That's my maxim."

"And yet," said the auburn-haired gentleman, "since a wise man will keep even some certainties to himself, much more some suspicions, at least he will at all events so do till they ripen into knowledge."

"Do you hear that about the wise man?" said the hook-nosed gentleman, turning upon the new comer. "Now what is it you suspect of this fellow?"

"I shrewdly suspect him," was the eager response,

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"for one of those Jesuit emissaries prowling all over our country. The better to accomplish their secret designs, they assume, at times, I am told, the most singular masques; sometimes, in appearance, the absurdest."

This, though indeed for some reason causing a droll smile upon the face of the hook-nosed gentleman, added a third angle to the discussion, which now became a sort of triangular duel, and ended, at last, with but a triangular result.

[ 143 ]



"Mexico? Molino del Rey? Resaca de la Palma?"

"Resaca de la Tombs!"

Leaving his reputation to take care of itself, since, as is not seldom the case, he knew nothing of its being in debate, the herb-doctor, wandering towards the forward part of the boat, had there espied a singular character in a grimy old regimental coat, a countenance at once grim and wizened, interwoven paralyzed legs, stiff as icicles, suspended between rude crutches, while the whole rigid body, like a ship's long barometer on gimbals, swung to and fro, mechanically faithful to the motion of the boat. Looking downward while he swung, the cripple seemed in a brown study.

As moved by the sight, and conjecturing that here was some battered hero from the Mexican battle-fields, the herb-doctor had sympathetically accosted him as above, and received the above rather dubious reply. As, with a half moody, half surly sort of air that reply was given, the cripple, by a voluntary jerk, nervously increased his swing (his custom when seized by emotion), so that

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one would have thought some squall had suddenly rolled the boat and with it the barometer.

"Tombs? my friend," exclaimed the herb-doctor in mild surprise. "You have not descended to the dead, have you? I had imagined you a scarred campaigner, one of the noble children of war, for your dear country a glorious sufferer. But you are Lazarus, it seems."

"Yes, he who had sores."

"Ah, the other Lazarus. But I never knew that either of them was in the army," glancing at the dilapidated regimentals.

"That will do now. Jokes enough."

"Friend," said the other reproachfully, "you think amiss. On principle, I greet unfortunates with some pleasant remark, the better to call off their thoughts from their troubles. The physician who is at once wise and humane seldom unreservedly sympathizes with his patient. But come, I am a herb-doctor, and also a natural bone-setter. I may be sanguine, but I think I can do something for you. You look up now. Give me your story. Ere I undertake a cure, I require a full account of the case."

"You can't help me," returned the cripple gruffly. "Go away."

"You seem sadly destitute of --"

"No I ain't destitute; to-day, at least, I can pay my way."

"The Natural Bone-setter is happy, indeed, to hear that. But you were premature. I was deploring your destitution, not of cash, but of confidence. You think

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the Natural Bone-setter can't help you. Well, suppose he can't, have you any objection to telling him your story? You, my friend, have, in a signal way, experienced adversity. Tell me, then, for my private good, how, without aid from the noble cripple, Epictetus, you have arrived at his heroic sang-froid in misfortune."

At these words the cripple fixed upon the speaker the hard ironic eye of one toughened and defiant in misery, and, in the end, grinned upon him with his unshaven face like an ogre.

"Come, come, be sociable -- be human, my friend. Don't make that face; it distresses me."

"I suppose," with a sneer, "you are the man I've long heard of -- The Happy Man."

"Happy? my friend. Yes, at least I ought to be. My conscience is peaceful. I have confidence in everybody. I have confidence that, in my humble profession, I do some little good to the world. Yes, I think that, without presumption, I may venture to assent to the proposition that I am the Happy Man -- the Happy Bone-setter."

"Then, you shall hear my story. Many a month I have longed to get hold of the Happy Man, drill him, drop the powder, and leave him to explode at his leisure.".

"What a demoniac unfortunate" exclaimed the herb-doctor retreating. "Regular infernal machine!"

"Look ye," cried the other, stumping after him, and with his horny hand catching him by a horn button, "my name is Thomas Fry. Until my --"

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-- "Any relation of Mrs. Fry?" interrupted the other. "I still correspond with that excellent lady on the subject of prisons. Tell me, are you anyway connected with my Mrs. Fry?"

"Blister Mrs. Fry! What do them sentimental souls know of prisons or any other black fact? I'll tell ye a story of prisons. Ha, ha!"

The herb-doctor shrank, and with reason, the laugh being strangely startling.

"Positively, my friend," said he, "you must stop that; I can't stand that; no more of that. I hope I have the milk of kindness, but your thunder will soon turn it."

"Hold, I haven't come to the milk-turning part yet My name is Thomas Fry. Until my twenty-third year I went by the nickname of Happy Tom -- happy -- ha, ha! They called me Happy Tom, d'ye see? because I was so good-natured and laughing all the time, just as I am now -- ha, ha!"

Upon this the herb-doctor would, perhaps, have run, but once more the hyaena clawed him. Presently, sobering down, he continued:

"Well, I was born in New York, and there I lived a steady, hard-working man, a cooper by trade. One evening I went to a political meeting in the Park -- for you must know, I was in those days a great patriot. As bad luck would have it, there was trouble near, between a gentleman who had been drinking wine, and a pavior who was sober. The pavior chewed tobacco, and the gentleman said it was beastly in him, and pushed him,

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wanting to have his place. The pavior chewed on and pushed back. Well, the gentleman carried a sword-cane, and presently the pavior was down -- skewered."

"How was that?"

"Why you see the pavior undertook something above his strength."

"The other must have been a Samson then. 'Strong as a pavior,' is a proverb."

"So it is, and the gentleman was in body a rather weakly man, but, for all that, I say again, the pavior undertook something above his strength."

"What are you talking about? He tried to maintain his rights, didn't he?"

"Yes; but, for all that, I say again, he undertook something above his strength."

"I don't understand you. But go on."

"Along with the gentleman, I, with other witnesses, was taken to the Tombs. There was an examination, and, to appear at the trial, the gentleman and witnesses all gave bail -- I mean all but me."

"And why didn't you?"

"Couldn't get it."

"Steady, hard-working cooper like you; what was the reason you couldn't get bail?"

"Steady, hard-working cooper hadn't no friends. Well, souse I went into a wet cell, like a canal-boat splashing into the lock; locked up in pickle, d'ye see? against the time of the trial."

"But what had you done?"

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"Why, I hadn't got any friends, I tell ye. A worse crime than murder, as ye'll see afore long."

"Murder? Did the wounded man die?"

"Died the third night."

"Then the gentleman's bail didn't help him. Imprisoned now, wasn't he?"

"Had too many friends. No, it was I that was imprisoned. -- But I was going on: They let me walk about the corridor by day; but at night I must into lock. There the wet and the damp struck into my bones. They doctored me, but no use. When the trial came, I was boosted up and said my say."

"And what was that?"

"My say was that I saw the steel go in, and saw it sticking in."

"And that hung the gentleman."

"Hung him with a gold chain! His friends called a meeting in the Park, and presented him with a gold watch and chain upon his acquittal."


"Didn't I say he had friends?"

There was a pause, broken at last by the herb-doctor's saying: "Well, there is a bright side to everything. If this speak prosaically for justice, it speaks romantically for friendship! But go on, my fine fellow."

"My say being said, they told me I might go. I said I could not without help. So the constables helped me, asking where would I go? I told them back to the 'Tombs.' I knew no other place. 'But where are your friends?' said they. 'I have none.' So they put me

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into a hand-barrow with an awning to it, and wheeled me down to the dock and on board a boat, and away to Blackwell's Island to the Corporation Hospital. There I got worse -- got pretty much as you see me now. Couldn't cure me. After three years, I grew sick of lying in a grated iron bed alongside of groaning thieves and mouldering burglars. They gave me five silver dollars, and these crutches, and I hobbled off. I had an only brother who went to Indiana, years ago. I begged about, to make up a sum to go to him; got to Indiana at last, and they directed me to his grave. It was on a great plain, in a log-church yard with a stump fence, the old gray roots sticking all ways like moose-antlers. The bier, set over the grave, it being the last dug, was of green hickory; bark on, and green twigs sprouting from it. Some one had planted a bunch of violets on the mound, but it was a poor soil (always choose the poorest soils for grave-yards), and they were all dried to tinder. I was going to sit and rest myself on the bier and think about my brother in heaven, but the bier broke down, the legs being only tacked. So, after driving some hogs out of the yard that were rooting there, I came away, and, not to make too long a story of it, here I am, drifting down stream like any other bit of wreck."

The herb-doctor was silent for a time, buried in thought. At last, raising his head, he said: "I have considered your whole story, my friend, and strove to consider it in the light of a commentary on what I believe to be the system of things; but it so jars with all,

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is so incompatible with all, that you must pardon me, if I honestly tell you, I cannot believe it."

"That don't surprise me."


"Hardly anybody believes my story, and so to most I tell a different one."

"How, again?"

"Wait here a bit and I'll show ye."

With that, taking off his rag of a cap, and arranging his tattered regimentals the best he could, off he went stumping among the passengers in an adjoining part of the deck, saying with a jovial kind of air: "Sir, a shilling for Happy Tom, who fought at Buena Vista. Lady, something for General Scott's soldier, crippled in both pins at glorious Contreras."

Now, it so chanced that, unbeknown to the cripple, a prim-looking stranger had overheard part of his story. Beholding him, then, on his present begging adventure, this person, turning to the herb-doctor, indignantly said: "Is it not too bad, sir, that yonder rascal should lie so?"

"Charity never faileth, my good sir," was the reply. "The vice of this unfortunate is pardonable. Consider, he lies not out of wantonness."

"Not out of wantonness. I never heard more wanton lies. In one breath to tell you what would appear to be his true story, and, in the next, away and falsify it."

"For all that, I repeat he lies not out of wantonness. A ripe philosopher, turned out of the great Sorbonne of hard times, he thinks that woes, when told to strangers

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for money, are best sugared. Though the inglorious lock-jaw of his knee-pans in a wet dungeon is a far more pitiable ill than to have been crippled at glorious Contreras, yet he is of opinion that this lighter and false ill shall attract, while the heavier and real one might repel."

"Nonsense; he belongs to the Devil's regiment; and I have a great mind to expose him."

"Shame upon you. Dare to expose that poor unfortunate, and by heaven -- don't you do it, sir."

Noting something in his manner, the other thought it more prudent to retire than retort. By-and-by, the cripple came back, and with glee, having reaped a pretty good harvest.

"There," he laughed, "you know now what sort of soldier I am."

"Aye, one that fights not the stupid Mexican, but a foe worthy your tactics -- Fortune!"

"Hi, hi!" clamored the cripple, like a fellow in the pit of a sixpenny theatre, then said, "don't know much what you meant, but it went off well."

This over, his countenance capriciously put on a morose ogreness. To kindly questions he gave no kindly answers. Unhandsome notions were thrown out about "free Ameriky," as he sarcastically called his country. These seemed to disturb and pain the herb-doctor, who, after an interval of thoughtfulness, gravely addressed him in these words:

"You, my Worthy friend, to my concern, have reflected upon the government under which you live and suffer.

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Where is your patriotism? Where your gratitude? True, the charitable may find something in your case, as you put it, partly to account for such reflections as coming from you. Still, be the facts how they may, your reflections are none the less unwarrantable. Grant, for the moment, that your experiences are as you give them; in which case I would admit that government might be thought to have more or less to do with what seems undesirable in them. But it is never to be forgotten that human government, being subordinate to the divine, must needs, therefore, in its degree, partake of the characteristics of the divine. That is, while in general efficacious to happiness, the world's law may yet, in some cases, have, to the eye of reason, an unequal operation, just as, in the same imperfect view, some inequalities may appear in the operations of heaven's law; nevertheless, to one who has a right confidence, final benignity is, in every instance, as sure with the one law as the other. I expound the point at some length, because these are the considerations, my poor fellow, which, weighed as they merit, will enable you to sustain with unimpaired trust the apparent calamities which are yours."

"What do you talk your hog-latin to me for?" cried the cripple, who, throughout the address, betrayed the most illiterate obduracy; and, with an incensed look, anew he swung himself.

Glancing another way till the spasm passed, the other continued:

"Charity marvels not that you should be somewhat

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hard of conviction, my friend, since you, doubtless, believe yourself hardly dealt by; but forget not that those who are loved are chastened."

"Mustn't chasten them too much, though, and too long, because their skin and heart get hard, and feel neither pain nor tickle."

"To mere reason, your case looks something piteous, I grant. But never despond; many things -- the choicest -- yet remain. You breathe this bounteous air, are warmed by this gracious sun, and, though poor and friendless, indeed, nor so agile as in your youth, yet, how sweet to roam, day by day, through the groves, plucking the bright mosses and flowers, till forlornness itself becomes a hilarity, and, in your innocent independence, you skip for joy."

"Fine skipping with these 'ere horse-posts -- ha ha!"

"Pardon; I forgot the crutches. My mind, figuring you after receiving the benefit of my art, overlooked you as you stand before me."

"Your art? You call yourself a bone-setter -- a natural bone-setter, do ye? Go, bone-set the crooked world, and then come bone-set crooked me."

"Truly, my honest friend, I thank you for again recalling me to my original object. Let me examine you," bending down; "ah, I see, I see; much such a case as the negro's. Did you see him? Oh no, you came aboard since. Well, his case was a little something like yours. I prescribed for him, and I shouldn't wonder at all if, in a very short time, he were able to walk almost as well as myself. Now, have you no confidence in my art?"

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"Ha, ha!"

The herb-doctor averted himself; but, the wild laugh dying away, resumed:

"I will not force confidence on you. Still, I would fain do the friendly thing by you. Here, take this box; just rub that liniment on the joints night and morning. Take it. Nothing to pay. God bless you. Good-bye."

"Stay," pausing in his swing, not untouched by so unexpected an act; "stay -- thank'ee -- but will this really do me good? Honor bright, now; will it? Don't deceive a poor fellow," with changed mien and glistening eye.

"Try it. Good-bye."

"Stay, stay! Sure it will do me good?"

"Possibly, possibly; no harm in trying. Good-bye."

"Stay, stay; give me three more boxes, and here's the money."

"My friend," returning towards him with a sadly pleased sort of air, "I rejoice in the birth of your confidence and hopefulness. Believe me that, like your crutches, confidence and hopefulness will long support a man when his own legs will not. Stick to confidence and hopefulness, then, since how mad for the cripple to throw his crutches away. You ask for three more boxes of my liniment. Luckily, I have just that number remaining. Here they are. I sell them at half-a-dollar apiece. But I shall take nothing from you. There; God bless you again; good-bye."

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"Stay," in a convulsed voice, and rocking himself, "stay, stay! You have made a better man of me. You have borne with me like a good Christian, and talked to me like one, and all that is enough without making me a present of these boxes. Here is the money. I won't take nay. There, there; and may Almighty goodness go with you."

As the herb-doctor withdrew, the cripple gradually subsided from his hard rocking into a gentle oscillation. It expressed, perhaps, the soothed mood of his reverie.

[ 156 ]



The herb-doctor had not moved far away, when, in advance of him, this spectacle met his eye. A dried-up old man, with the stature of a boy of twelve, was tottering about like one out of his mind, in rumpled clothes of old moleskin, showing recent contact with bedding, his ferret eyes, blinking in the sunlight of the snowy boat, as imbecilely eager, and, at intervals, coughing, he peered hither and thither as if in alarmed search for his nurse. He presented the aspect of one who, bed-rid, has, through overruling excitement, like that of a fire, been stimulated to his feet.

"You seek some one," said the herb-doctor, accosting him. "Can I assist you?"

"Do, do; I am so old and miserable," coughed the old man. "Where is he? This long time I've been trying to get up and find him. But I haven't any friends, and couldn't get up till now. Where is he?"

"Who do you mean?" drawing closer, to stay the further wanderings of one so weakly.

"Why, why, why," now marking the other's dress, "why you, yes you -- you, you -- ugh, ugh, ugh!"

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"Ugh, ugh, ugh! -- you are the man he spoke of. Who is he?"

"Faith, that is just what I want to know."

"Mercy, mercy!" coughed the old man, bewildered, "ever since seeing him, my head spins round so. I ought to have a guardeean. Is this a snuff-colored surtout of yours, or ain't it? Somehow, can't trust my senses any more, since trusting him -- ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"Oh, you have trusted somebody? Glad to hear it. Glad to hear of any instance, of that sort. Reflects well upon all men. But you inquire whether this is a snuff-colored surtout. I answer it is; and will add that a herb-doctor wears it."

Upon this the old man, in his broken way, replied that then he (the herb-doctor) was the person he sought -- the person spoken of by the other person as yet unknown. He then, with flighty eagerness, wanted to know who this last person was, and where he was, and whether he could be trusted with money to treble it.

"Aye, now, I begin to understand; ten to one you mean my worthy friend, who, in pure goodness of heart, makes people's fortunes for them -- their everlasting fortunes, as the phrase goes -- only charging his one small commission of confidence. Aye, aye; before intrusting funds with my friend, you want to know about him. Very proper -- and, I am glad to assure you, you need have no hesitation; none, none, just none in the world; bona fide, none. Turned me in a trice a hundred dollars the other day into as many eagles."

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"Did he? did he? But where is he? Take me to him."

"Pray, take my arm! The boat is large! We may have something of a hunt! Come on! Ah, is that he?"

"Where? where?"

"O, no; I took yonder coat-skirts for his. But no, my honest friend would never turn tail that way. Ah! --"

"Where? where?"

"Another mistake. Surprising resemblance. I took yonder clergyman for him. Come on!"

Having searched that part of the boat without success, they went to another part, and, while exploring that, the boat sided up to a landing, when, as the two were passing by the open guard, the herb-doctor suddenly rushed towards the disembarking throng, crying out: "Mr. Truman, Mr. Truman! There he goes -- that's he. Mr. Truman, Mr. Truman! -- Confound that steam-pipe., Mr. Truman! for God's sake, Mr. Truman! -- No, no. -- There, the plank's in -- too late -- we're off."

With that, the huge boat, with a mighty, walrus wallow, rolled away from the shore, resuming her course.

"How vexatious!" exclaimed the herb-doctor, returning. "Had we been but one single moment sooner. -- There he goes, now, towards yon hotel, his portmanteau following. You see him, don't you?"

"Where? where?"

"Can't see him any more. Wheel-house shot between. I am very sorry. I should have so liked you

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to have let him have a hundred or so of your money. You would have been pleased with the investment, believe me."

"Oh, I have let him have some of my money," groaned the old man.

"You have? My dear sir," seizing both the miser's hands in both his own and heartily shaking them. "My dear sir, how I congratulate you. You don't know."

"Ugh, ugh! I fear I don't," with another groan. "His name is Truman, is it?"

"John Truman."

"Where does he live?"

"In St. Louis."

"Where's his office?"

"Let me see. Jones street, number one hundred and -- no, no -- anyway, it's somewhere or other up-stairs in Jones street."

"Can't you remember the number? Try, now."

"One hundred -- two hundred -- three hundred -- "

"Oh, my hundred dollars! I wonder whether it will be one hundred, two hundred, three hundred, with them! Ugh, ugh! Can't remember the number?"

"Positively, though I once knew, I have forgotten, quite forgotten it. Strange. But never mind. You will easily learn in St. Louis. He is well known there."

"But I have no receipt -- ugh, ugh! Nothing to show -- don't know where I stand -- ought to have a guardeean -- ugh, ugh! Don't know anything. Ugh, ugh!"

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"Why, you know that you gave him your confidence, don't you?"

"Oh, yes."

"Well, then?"

"But what, what -- how, how -- ugh, ugh!"

"Why, didn't he tell you?"


"What! Didn't he tell you that it was a secret, a mystery?"

"Oh -- yes."

"Well, then?"

"But I have no bond."

"Don't need any with Mr. Truman. Mr. Truman's word is his bond."

"But how am I to get my profits -- ugh, ugh! -- and my money back? Don't know anything. Ugh, ugh!"

"Oh, you must have confidence."

"Don't say that word again. Makes my head spin so. Oh, I'm so old and miserable, nobody caring for me, everybody fleecing me, and my head spins so -- ugh, ugh! -- and this cough racks me so. I say again, I ought to have a guardeean."

"So you ought; and Mr. Truman is your guardian to the extent you invested with him. Sorry we missed him just now. But you'll hear from him. All right. It's imprudent, though, to expose yourself this way. Let me take you to your berth."

Forlornly enough the old miser moved slowly away with him. But, while descending a stairway, he was seized with such coughing that he was fain to pause.

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"That is a very bad cough."

"Church-yard -- ugh, ugh! -- church-yard cough. -- Ugh!"

"Have you tried anything for it?"

"Tired of trying. Nothing does me any good -- ugh! ugh! Not even the Mammoth Cave. Ugh! ugh! Denned there six months, but coughed so bad the rest of the coughers -- ugh! ugh! -- black-balled me out. Ugh, ugh! Nothing does me good."

"But have you tried the Omni-Balsamic Reinvigorator, sir?"

"That's what that Truman -- ugh, ugh! -- said I ought to take. Yarb-medicine; you are that yarb-doctor, too?"

"The same. Suppose you try one of my boxes now. Trust me, from what I know of Mr. Truman, he is not the gentleman to recommend, even in behalf of a friend, anything of whose excellence he is not conscientiously satisfied."

"Ugh! -- how much?"

"Only two dollars a box."

"Two dollars? Why don't you say two millions? ugh, ugh! Two dollars, that's two hundred cents; that's eight hundred farthings; that's two thousand mills; and all for one little box of yarb-medicine. My head, my head! -- oh, I ought to have a guardeean for; my head. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"Well, if two dollars a box seems too much, take a dozen boxes at twenty dollars; and that will be getting four boxes for nothing, and you need use none but those

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four, the rest you can retail out at a premium, and so cure your cough, and make money by it. Come, you had better do it. Cash down. Can fill an order in a day or two. Here now," producing a box; "pure herbs."

At that moment, seized with another spasm, the miser snatched each interval to fix his half distrustful, half hopeful eye upon the medicine, held alluringly up. "Sure -- ugh! Sure it's all nat'ral? Nothing but yarbs? If I only thought it was a purely nat'ral medicine now -- all yarbs -- ugh, ugh! -- oh this cough, this cough -- ugh, ugh! -- shatters my whole body. Ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"For heaven's sake try my medicine, if but a single box. That it is pure nature you may be confident, Refer you to Mr. Truman."

"Don't know his number -- ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh! Oh this cough. He did speak well of this medicine though; said solemnly it would cure me -- ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh! -- take off a dollar and I'll have a box."

"Can't sir, can't."

"Say a dollar-and-half. Ugh!"

"Can't. Am pledged to the one-price system, only honorable one."

"Take off a shilling -- ugh, ugh!"


"Ugh, ugh, ugh -- I'll take it. -- There."

Grudgingly he handed eight silver coins, but while still in his hand, his cough took him and they were shaken upon the deck.

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One by one, the herb-doctor picked them up, and, examining them, said: "These are not quarters, these are pistareens; and clipped, and sweated, at that."

"Oh don't be so miserly -- ugh, ugh! -- better a beast than a miser -- ugh, ugh!"

"Well, let it go. Anything rather than the idea of your not being cured of such a cough. And I hope, for the credit of humanity, you have not made it appear worse than it is, merely with a view to working upon the weak point of my pity, and so getting my medicine the cheaper. Now, mind, don't take it till night. Just before retiring is the time. There, you can get along now, can't you? I would attend you further, but I land presently, and must go hunt up my luggage."

[ 164 ]



"Yarbs, yarbs; natur, natur; you foolish old file you! He diddled you with that hocus-pocus, did he? Yarbs and natur will cure your incurable cough, you think."

It was a rather eccentric-looking person who spoke; somewhat ursine in aspect; sporting a shaggy spencer of the cloth called bear's-skin; a high-peaked cap of raccoon-skin, the long bushy tail switching over behind; raw-hide leggings; grim stubble chin; and to end, a double-barreled gun in hand -- a Missouri bachelor, a Hoosier gentleman, of Spartan leisure and fortune, and equally Spartan manners and sentiments; and, as the sequel may show, not less acquainted, in a Spartan way of his own, with philosophy and books, than with woodcraft and rifles.

He must have overheard some of the talk between the miser and the herb-doctor; for, just after the withdrawal of the one, he made up to the other -- now at the foot of the stairs leaning against the baluster there -- with the greeting above.

"Think it will cure me?" coughed the miser in echo;

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"why shouldn't it? The medicine is nat'ral yarbs, pure yarbs; yarbs must cure me."

"Because a thing is nat'ral, as you call it, you think it must be good. But who gave you that cough? Was it, or was it not, nature?"

"Sure, you don't think that natur, Dame Natur, will hurt a body, do you?"

"Natur is good Queen Bess; but who's responsible for the cholera?"

"But yarbs, yarbs; yarbs are good?"

"What's deadly-nightshade? Yarb, ain't it?"

"Oh, that a Christian man should speak agin natur and yarbs -- ugh, ugh, ugh! -- ain't sick men sent out into the country; sent out to natur and grass?"

"Aye, and poets send out the sick spirit to green pastures, like lame horses turned out unshod to the turf to renew their hoofs. A sort of yarb-doctors in their way, poets have it that for sore hearts, as for sore lungs, nature is the grand cure. But who froze to death my teamster on the prairie? And who made an idiot of Peter the Wild Boy?"

"Then you don't believe in these 'ere yarb-doctors?"

"Yarb-doctors? I remember the lank yarb-doctor I saw once on a hospital-cot in Mobile. One of the faculty passing round and seeing who lay there, said with professional triumph, 'Ah, Dr. Green, your yarbs don't help ye now, Dr. Green. Have to come to us and the mercury now, Dr. Green. -- Natur! Y-a-r-b-s!'"

"Did I hear something about herbs and herb-doctors?" here said a flute-like voice, advancing.

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It was the herb-doctor in person. Carpet-bag in hand, he happened to be strolling back that way.

"Pardon me," addressing the Missourian, "but if I caught your words aright, you would seem to have little confidence in nature; which, really, in my way of thinking, looks like carrying the spirit of distrust pretty far."

"And who of my sublime species may you be?" turning short round upon him, clicking his rifle-lock, with an air which would have seemed half cynic, half wild-cat, were it not for the grotesque excess of the expression, which made its sincerity appear more or less dubious.

"One who has confidence in nature, and confidence in man, with some little modest confidence in himself."

"That's your Confession of Faith, is it? Confidence in man, eh? Pray, which do you think are most, knaves or fools?"

"Having met with few or none of either, I hardly think I am competent to answer."

"I will answer for you. Fools are most."

"Why do you think so?"

"For the same reason that I think oats are numerically more than horses. Don't knaves munch up fools just as horses do oats?"

"A droll, sir; you are a droll. I can appreciate drollery -- ha, ha, ha!"

"But I'm in earnest."

"That's the drollery, to deliver droll extravagance with an earnest air -- knaves munching up fools as horses

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oats. -- Faith, very droll, indeed, ha, ha, ha! Yes, I think I understand you now, sir. How silly I was to have taken you seriously, in your droll conceits, too, about having no confidence in nature. In reality you have just as much as I have."

"I have confidence in nature? I? I say again there is nothing I am more suspicious of. I once lost ten thousand dollars by nature. Nature embezzled that amount from me; absconded with ten thousand dollars' worth of my property; a plantation on this stream, swept clean away by one of those sudden shiftings of the banks in a freshet; ten thousand dollars' worth of alluvion thrown broad off upon the waters."

"But have you no confidence that by a reverse shifting that soil will come back after many days? -- ah, here is my venerable friend," observing the old miser, "not in your berth yet? Pray, if you will keep afoot, don't lean against that baluster; take my arm."

It was taken; and the two stood together; the old miser leaning against the herb-doctor with something of that air of trustful fraternity with which, when standing, the less strong of the Siamese twins habitually leans against the other.

The Missourian eyed them in silence, which was broken by the herb-doctor.

"You look surprised, sir. Is it because I publicly take under my protection a figure like this? But I am never ashamed of honesty, whatever his coat."

"Look you," said the Missourian, after a scrutinizing pause, "you are a queer sort of chap. Don't know

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exactly what to make of you. Upon the whole though, you somewhat remind me of the last boy I had on my place."

"Good, trustworthy boy, I hope?"

"Oh, very! I am now started to get me made some kind of machine to do the sort of work which boys are supposed to be fitted for."

"Then you have passed a veto upon boys?"

"And men, too."

"But, my dear sir, does not that again imply more or less lack of confidence? -- (Stand up a little, just a very little, my venerable friend; you lean rather hard.) -- No confidence in boys, no confidence in men, no confidence in nature. Pray, sir, who or what may you have confidence in?"

"I have confidence in distrust; more particularly as applied to you and your herbs."

"Well," with a forbearing smile, "that is frank. But pray, don't forget that when you suspect my herbs you suspect nature."

"Didn't I say that before?"

"Very good. For the argument's sake I will suppose you are in earnest. Now, can you, who suspect nature, deny, that this same nature not only kindly brought you into being, but has faithfully nursed you to your present vigorous and independent condition? Is it not to nature that you are indebted for that robustness of mind which you so unhandsomely use to her scandal? Pray, is it not to nature that you owe the very eyes by which you criticise her?"

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"No! for the privilege of vision I am indebted to an oculist, who in my tenth year operated upon me in Philadelphia. Nature made me blind and would have kept me so. My oculist counterplotted her."

"And yet, sir, by your complexion, I judge you live an out-of-door life; without knowing it, you are partial to nature; you fly to nature, the universal mother."

"Very motherly! Sir, in the passion-fits of nature, I've known birds fly from nature to me, rough as I look; yes, sir, in a tempest, refuge here," smiting the folds of his bearskin. "Fact, sir, fact. Come, come, Mr. Palaverer, for all your palavering, did you yourself never shut out nature of a cold, wet night? Bar her out? Bolt her out? Lint her out?"

"As to that," said the herb-doctor calmly, "much may be said."

"Say it, then," ruffling all his hairs. "You can't, sir, can't." Then, as in apostrophe: "Look you, nature! I don't deny but your clover is sweet, and your dandelions don't roar; but whose hailstones smashed my windows?"

"Sir," with unimpaired affability, producing one of his boxes, "I am pained to meet with one who holds nature a dangerous character. Though your manner is refined your voice is rough; in short, you seem to have a sore throat. In the calumniated name of nature, I present you with this box; my venerable friend here has a similar one; but to you, a free gift, sir. Through her regularly-authorized agents, of whom I happen to

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be one, Nature delights in benefiting those who most abuse her. Pray, take it."

"Away with it! Don't hold it so near. Ten to one there is a torpedo in it. Such things have been. Editors been killed that way. Take it further off, I say."

"Good heavens! my dear sir --"

"I tell you I want none of your boxes," snapping his rifle.

"Oh, take it -- ugh, ugh! do take it," chimed in the old miser; "I wish he would give me one for nothing."

"You find it lonely, eh," turning short round; "gulled yourself, you would have a companion."

"How can he find it lonely," returned the herb-doctor, "or how desire a companion, when here I stand by him; I, even I, in whom he has trust. For the gulling, tell me, is it humane to talk so to this poor old man? Granting that his dependence on my medicine is vain, is it kind to deprive him of what, in mere imagination, if nothing more, may help eke out, with hope, his disease? For you, if you have no confidence, and, thanks to your native health, can get along without it, so far, at least, as trusting in my medicine goes; yet, how cruel an argument to use, with this afflicted one here. Is it not for all the world as if some brawny pugilist, aglow in December, should rush in and put out a hospital-fire, because, forsooth, he feeling no need of artificial heat, the shivering patients shall have none? Put it to your conscience, sir, and you will admit, that, whatever be the nature of this afflicted one's trust, you,

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in opposing it, evince either an erring head or a heart amiss. Come, own, are you not pitiless?"

"Yes, poor soul," said the Missourian, gravely eying the old man -- "yes, it is pitiless in one like me to speak too honestly to one like you. You are a late sitter-up in this life; past man's usual bed-time; and truth, though with some it makes a wholesome breakfast, proves to all a supper too hearty. Hearty food, taken late, gives bad dreams."

"What, in wonder's name -- ugh, ugh! -- is he talking about?" asked the old miser, looking up to the herb-doctor.

"Heaven be praised for that!" cried the Missourian.

"Out of his mind, ain't he?" again appealed the old miser.

"Pray, sir," said the herb-doctor to the Missourian, "for what were you giving thanks just now?"

"For this: that, with some minds, truth is, in effect, not so cruel a thing after all, seeing that, like a loaded pistol found by poor devils of savages, it raises more wonder than terror -- its peculiar virtue being unguessed, unless, indeed, by indiscreet handling, it should happen to go off of itself."

"I pretend not to divine your meaning there," said the herb-doctor, after a pause, during which he eyed the Missourian with a kind of pinched expression, mixed of pain and curiosity, as if he grieved at his state of mind, and, at the same time, wondered what had brought him to it, "but this much I know," he added, "that the general cast of your thoughts is, to say the least, unfortunate.

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There is strength in them, but a strength, whose source, being physical, must wither. You will yet recant."


"Yes, when, as with this old man, your evil days of decay come on, when a hoary captive in your chamber, then will you, something like the dungeoned Italian we read of, gladly seek the breast of that confidence begot in the tender time of your youth, blessed beyond telling if it return to you in age."

"Go back to nurse again, eh? Second childhood, indeed. You are soft."

"Mercy, mercy!" cried the old miser, "what is all this! -- ugh, ugh! Do talk sense, my good friends. Ain't you," to the Missourian, "going to buy some of that medicine?"

"Pray, my venerable friend," said the herb-doctor, now trying to straighten himself, "don't lean quite so hard; my arm grows numb; abate a little, just a very little."

"Go," said the Missourian, "go lay down in your grave, old man, if you can't stand of yourself. It's a hard world for a leaner."

"As to his grave," said the herb-doctor, "that is far enough off, so he but faithfully take my medicine."

"Ugh, ugh, ugh! -- He says true. No, I ain't -- ugh! a going to die yet -- ugh, ugh, ugh! Many years to live yet, ugh, ugh, ugh!"

"I approve your confidence," said the herb-doctor; "but your coughing distresses me, besides being

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injurious to you. Pray, let me conduct you to your berth. You are best there. Our friend here will wait till my return, I know."

With which he led the old miser away, and then, coming back, the talk with the Missourian was resumed.

"Sir," said the herb-doctor, with some dignity and more feeling, "now that our infirm friend is withdrawn, allow me, to the full, to express my concern at the words you allowed to escape you in his hearing. Some of those words, if I err not, besides being calculated to beget deplorable distrust in the patient, seemed fitted to convey unpleasant imputations against me, his physician."

"Suppose they did?" with a menacing air.

"Why, then -- then, indeed," respectfully retreating, "I fall back upon my previous theory of your general facetiousness. I have the fortune to be in company with a humorist -- a wag."

"Fall back you had better, and wag it is," cried the Missourian, following him up, and wagging his raccoon tail almost into the herb-doctor's face, "look you!"

"At what?"

"At this coon. Can you, the fox, catch him?"

"If you mean," returned the other, not unselfpossessed, "whether I flatter myself that I can in any way dupe you, or impose upon you, or pass myself off upon you for what I am not, I, as an honest man, answer that I have neither the inclination nor the power to do aught of the kind."

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"Honest man? Seems to me you talk more like a craven."

"You in vain seek to pick a quarrel with me, or put any affront upon me. The innocence in me heals me."

"A healing like your own nostrums. But you are a queer man -- a very queer and dubious man; upon the whole, about the most so I ever met."

The scrutiny accompanying this seemed unwelcome to the diffidence of the herb-doctor. As if at once to attest the absence of resentment, as well as to change the subject, he threw a kind of familiar cordiality into his air, and said: "So you are going to get some machine made to do your work? Philanthropic scruples, doubtless, forbid your going as far as New Orleans for slaves?"

"Slaves?" morose again in a twinkling, "won't have 'em! Bad enough to see whites ducking and grinning round for a favor, without having those poor devils of niggers congeeing round for their corn. Though, to me, the niggers are the freer of the two. You are an abolitionist, ain't you?" he added, squaring himself with both hands on his rifle, used for a staff, and gazing in the herb-doctor's face with no more reverence than if it were a target. "You are an abolitionist, ain't you?"

"As to that, I cannot so readily answer. If by abolitionist you mean a zealot, I am none; but if you mean a man, who, being a man, feels for all men, slaves included, and by any lawful act, opposed to nobody's interest, and therefore, rousing nobody's enmity, would willingly abolish suffering (supposing it, in its degree,

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to exist) from among mankind, irrespective of color, then am I what you say."

"Picked and prudent sentiments. You are the moderate man, the invaluable understrapper of the wicked man. You, the moderate man, may be used for wrong, but are useless for right."

"From all this," said the herb-doctor, still forgivingly, "I infer, that you, a Missourian, though living in a slave-state, are without slave sentiments."

"Aye, but are you? Is not that air of yours, so spiritlessly enduring and yielding, the very air of a slave? Who is your master, pray; or are you owned by a company?"

"My master?"

"Aye, for come from Maine or Georgia, you come from a slave-state, and a slave-pen, where the best breeds are to be bought up at any price from a livelihood to the Presidency. Abolitionism, ye gods, but expresses the fellow-feeling of slave for slave."

"The back-woods would seem to have given you rather eccentric notions," now with polite superiority smiled the herb-doctor, still with manly intrepidity forbearing each unmanly thrust, "but to return; since, for your purpose, you will have neither man nor boy, bond nor free, truly, then some sort of machine for you is all there is left. My desires for your success attend you, sir. -- Ah!" glancing shoreward, "here is Cape Girádeau; I must leave you."

[ 176 ]



-- "'Philosophical Intelligence Office' -- novel idea! But how did you come to dream that I wanted anything in your absurd line, eh?"

About twenty minutes after leaving Cape Girádeau, the above was growled out over his shoulder by the Missourian to a chance stranger who had just accosted him; a round-backed, baker-kneed man, in a mean five-dollar suit, wearing, collar-wise by a chain, a small brass plate, inscribed P. I. O., and who, with a sort of canine deprecation, slunk obliquely behind.

"How did you come to dream that I wanted anything in your line, eh?"

"Oh, respected sir," whined the other, crouching a pace nearer, and, in his obsequiousness, seeming to wag his very coat-tails behind him, shabby though they were, "oh, sir, from long experience, one glance tells me the gentleman who is in need of our humble services."

"But suppose I did want a boy -- what they jocosely call a good boy -- how could your absurd office help me? -- Philosophical Intelligence Office?"

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"Yes, respected sir, an office founded on strictly philosophical and physio --"

"Look you -- come up here -- how, by philosophy or physiology either, make good boys to order? Come up here. Don't give me a crick in the neck. Come up here, come, sir, come," calling as if to his pointer. "Tell me, how put the requisite assortment of good qualities into a boy, as the assorted mince into the pie?"

"Respected sir, our office -- -- "

"You talk much of that office. Where is it? On board this boat?"

"Oh no, sir, I just came aboard. Our office -- -- "

"Came aboard at that last landing, eh? Pray, do you know a herb-doctor there? Smooth scamp in a snuff-colored surtout?"

"Oh, sir, I was but a sojourner at Cape Girádeau. Though, now that you mention a snuff-colored surtout, I think I met such a man as you speak of stepping ashore as I stepped aboard, and 'pears to me I have seen him somewhere before. Looks like a very mild Christian sort of person, I should say. Do you know him, respected sir?"

"Not much, but better than you seem to. Proceed with your business."

With a low, shabby bow, as grateful for the permission, the other began: "Our office -- -- "

"Look you," broke in the bachelor with ire, "have you the spinal complaint? What are you ducking and groveling about? Keep still. Where's your office?"

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"The branch one which I represent, is at Alton, sir, in the free state we now pass," (pointing somewhat proudly ashore).

"Free, eh? You a freeman, you flatter yourself? With those coat-tails and that spinal complaint of servility? Free? Just cast up in your private mind who is your master, will you?"

"Oh, oh, oh! I don't understand -- indeed -- indeed. But, respected sir, as before said, our office, founded on principles wholly new --"

"To the devil with your principles! Bad sign when a man begins to talk of his principles. Hold, come back, sir; back here, back, sir, back! I tell you no more boys for me. Nay, I'm a Mede and Persian. In my old home in the woods I'm pestered enough with squirrels, weasels, chipmunks, skunks. I want no more wild vermin to spoil my temper and waste my substance. Don't talk of boys; enough of your boys; a plague of your boys; chilblains on your boys! As for Intelligence Offices, I've lived in the East, and know 'em. Swindling concerns kept by low-born cynics, under a fawning exterior wreaking their cynic malice upon mankind. You are a fair specimen of 'em."

"Oh dear, dear, dear!"

"Dear? Yes, a thrice dear purchase one of your boys would be to me. A rot on your boys!"

"But, respected sir, if you will not have boys, might we not, in our small way, accommodate you with a man?"

"Accommodate? Pray, no doubt you could accommodate

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me with a bosom-friend too, couldn't you? Accommodate! Obliging word accommodate: there's accommodation notes now, where one accommodates another with a loan, and if he don't pay it pretty quickly, accommodates him, with a chain to his foot. Accommodate! God forbid that I should ever be accommodated. No, no. Look you, as I told that cousin-german of yours, the herb-doctor, I'm now on the road to get me made some sort of machine to do my work. Machines for me. My cider-mill -- does that ever steal my cider? My mowing-machine -- does that ever lay a-bed mornings? My corn-husker -- does that ever give me insolence? No: cider-mill, mowing-machine, corn-husker -- all faithfully attend to their business. Disinterested, too; no board, no wages; yet doing good all their lives long; shining examples that virtue is its own reward -- the only practical Christians I know."

"Oh dear, dear, dear, dear!"

"Yes, sir: -- boys? Start my soul-bolts, what a difference, in a moral point of view, between a corn-husker and a boy! Sir, a corn-husker, for its patient continuance in well-doing, might not unfitly go to heaven. Do you suppose a boy will?"

"A corn-husker in heaven! (turning up the whites of his eyes). Respected sir, this way of talking as if heaven were a kind of Washington patent-office museum -- oh, oh, oh! -- as if mere machine-work and puppet-work went to heaven -- oh, oh, oh! Things incapable of free agency, to receive the eternal reward of well-doing -- oh, oh, oh!"

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"You Praise-God-Barebones you, what are you groaning about? Did I say anything of that sort? Seems to me, though you talk so good, you are mighty quick at a hint the other way, or else you want to pick a polemic quarrel with me."

"It may be so or not, respected sir," was now the demure reply; "but if it be, it is only because as a soldier out of honor is quick in taking affront, so a Christian out of religion is quick, sometimes perhaps a little too much so, in spying heresy."

"Well," after an astonished pause, "for an unaccountable pair, you and the herb-doctor ought to yoke together."

So saying, the bachelor was eying him rather sharply, when he with the brass plate recalled him to the discussion by a hint, not unflattering, that he (the man with the brass plate) was all anxiety to hear him further on the subject of servants.

"About that matter," exclaimed the impulsive bachelor, going off at the hint like a rocket, "all thinking minds are, now-a-days, coming to the conclusion -- one derived from an immense hereditary experience -- see what Horace and others of the ancients say of servants -- coming to the conclusion, I say, that boy or man, the human animal is, for most work-purposes, a losing animal. Can't be trusted; less trustworthy than oxen; for conscientiousness a turn-spit dog excels him. Hence these thousand new inventions -- carding machines, horseshoe machines, tunnel-boring machines, reaping machines, apple-paring machines, boot-blacking machines,

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sewing machines, shaving machines, run-of-errand machines, dumb-waiter machines, and the Lord-only-knows-what machines; all of which announce the era when that refractory animal, the working or serving man, shall be a buried by-gone, a superseded fossil. Shortly prior to which glorious time, I doubt not that a price will be put upon their peltries as upon the knavish 'possums,' especially the boys. Yes, sir (ringing his rifle down on the deck), I rejoice to think that the day is at hand, when, prompted to it by law, I shall shoulder this gun and go out a boy-shooting."

"Oh, now! Lord, Lord, Lord! -- But our office, respected sir, conducted as I ventured to observe --"

"No, sir," bristlingly settling his stubble chin in his coon-skins. "Don't try to oil me; the herb-doctor tried that. My experience, carried now through a course -- worse than salivation -- a course of five and thirty boys, proves to me that boyhood is a natural state of rascality."

"Save us, save us!"

"Yes, sir, yes. My name is Pitch; I stick to what I say. I speak from fifteen years' experience; five and thirty boys; American, Irish, English, German, African, Mulatto; not to speak of that China boy sent me by one who well knew my perplexities, from California; and that Lascar boy from Bombay. Thug! I found him sucking the embryo life from my spring eggs. All rascals, sir, every soul of them; Caucasian or Mongol. Amazing the endless variety of rascality in human nature of the juvenile sort. I remember that, having discharged,

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one after another, twenty-nine boys -- each, too, for some wholly unforeseen species of viciousness peculiar to that one peculiar boy -- I remember saying to myself: Now, then, surely, I have got to the end of the list, wholly exhausted it; I have only now to get me a boy, any boy different from those twenty-nine preceding boys, and he infallibly shall be that virtuous boy I have so long been seeking. But, bless me! this thirtieth boy -- by the way, having at the time long forsworn your intelligence offices, I had him sent to me from the Commissioners of Emigration, all the way from New York, culled out carefully, in fine, at my particular request, from a standing army of eight hundred boys, the flowers of all nations, so they wrote me, temporarily in barracks on an East River island -- I say, this thirtieth boy was in person not ungraceful; his deceased mother a lady's maid, or something of that sort; and in manner, why, in a plebeian way, a perfect Chesterfield; very intelligent, too -- quick as a flash. But, such suavity! 'Please sir! please sir!' always bowing and saying, 'Please sir.' In the strangest way, too, combining a filial affection with a menial respect. Took such warm, singular interest in my affairs. Wanted to be considered one of the family -- sort of adopted son of mine, I suppose. Of a morning, when I would go out to my stable, with what childlike good nature he would trot out my nag, 'Please sir, I think he's getting fatter and fatter.' 'But, he don't look very clean, does he?' unwilling to be downright harsh with so affectionate a lad; 'and he seems a little hollow inside the

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haunch there, don't he? or no, perhaps I don't see plain this morning.' 'Oh, please sir, it's just there I think he's gaining so, please.' Polite scamp! I soon found he never gave that wretched nag his oats of nights; didn't bed him either. Was above that sort of chambermaid work. No end to his willful neglects. But the more he abused my service, the more polite he grew."

"Oh, sir, some way you mistook him."

"Not a bit of it. Besides, sir, he was a boy who under a Chesterfieldian exterior hid strong destructive propensities. He cut up my horse-blanket for the bits of leather, for hinges to his chest. Denied it point-blank. After he was gone, found the shreds under his mattress. Would slyly break his hoe-handle, too, on purpose to get rid of hoeing. Then be so gracefully penitent for his fatal excess of industrious strength. Offer to mend all by taking a nice stroll to the nighest settlement -- cherry-trees in full bearing all the way -- to get the broken thing cobbled. Very politely stole my pears, odd pennies, shillings, dollars, and nuts; regular squirrel at it. But I could prove nothing. Expressed to him my suspicions. Said I, moderately enough, 'A little less politeness, and a little more honesty would suit me better.' He fired up; threatened to sue for libel. I won't say anything about his afterwards, in Ohio, being found in the act of gracefully putting a bar across a rail-road track, for the reason that a stoker called him the rogue that he was. But enough: polite boys or saucy boys, white boys or black boys, smart boys or lazy boys, Caucasian boys or Mongol boys -- all are rascals."

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"Shocking, shocking!" nervously tucking his frayed cravat-end out of sight. "Surely, respected sir, you labor under a deplorable hallucination. Why, pardon again, you seem to have not the slightest confidence in boys, I admit, indeed, that boys, some of them at least, are but too prone to one little foolish foible or other. But, what then, respected sir, when, by natural laws, they finally outgrow such things, and wholly?"

Having until now vented himself mostly in plaintive dissent of canine whines and groans, the man with the brass-plate seemed beginning to summon courage to a less timid encounter. But, upon his maiden essay, was not very encouragingly handled, since the dialogue immediately continued as follows:

"Boys outgrow what is amiss in them? From bad boys spring good men? Sir, 'the child is father of the man;' hence, as all boys are rascals, so are all men. But, God bless me, you must know these things better than I; keeping an intelligence office as you do; a business which must furnish peculiar facilities for studying mankind. Come, come up here, sir; confess you know these things pretty well, after all. Do you not know that all men are rascals, and all boys, too?"

"Sir," replied the other, spite of his shocked feelings seeming to pluck up some spirit, but not to an indiscreet degree, "Sir, heaven be praised, I am far, very far from knowing what you say. True," he thoughtfully continued, "with my associates, I keep an intelligence office, and for ten years, come October, have, one way or other, been concerned in that line; for no small period

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in the great city of Cincinnati, too; and though, as you hint, within that long interval, I must have had more or less favorable opportunity for studying mankind -- in a business way, scanning not only the faces, but ransacking the lives of several thousands of human beings, male and female, of various nations, both employers and employed, genteel and ungenteel, educated and uneducated; yet -- of course, I candidly admit, with some random exceptions, I have, so far as my small observation goes, found that mankind thus domestically viewed, confidentially viewed, I may say; they, upon the whole -- making some reasonable allowances for human imperfection -- present as pure a moral spectacle as the purest angel could wish. I say it, respected sir, with confidence."

"Gammon! You don't mean what you say. Else you are like a landsman at sea: don't know the ropes, the very things everlastingly pulled before your eyes. Serpent-like, they glide about, traveling blocks too subtle for you. In short, the entire ship is a riddle. Why, you green ones wouldn't know if she were unseaworthy; but still, with thumbs stuck back into your arm-holes, pace the rotten planks, singing, like a fool, words put into your green mouth by the cunning owner, the man who, heavily insuring it, sends his ship to be wrecked --
'A wet sheet and a flowing sea!' -- and, sir, now that it occurs to me, your talk, the whole of it, is but a wet sheet and a flowing sea, and

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an idle wind that follows fast, offering a striking contrast to my own discourse."

"Sir," exclaimed the man with the brass-plate, his patience now more or less tasked, "permit me with deference to hint that some of your remarks are injudiciously worded. And thus we say to our patrons, when they enter our office full of abuse of us because of some worthy boy we may have sent them -- some boy wholly misjudged for the time. Yes, sir, permit me to remark that you do not sufficiently consider that, though a small man, I may have my small share of feelings."

"Well, well, I didn't mean to wound your feelings at all. And that they are small, very small, I take your word for it. Sorry, sorry. But truth is like a thrashing-machine; tender sensibilities must keep out of the way. Hope you understand me. Don't want to hurt you. All I say is, what I said in the first place, only now I swear it, that all boys are rascals."

"Sir," lowly replied the other, still forbearing like an old lawyer badgered in court, or else like a good-hearted simpleton, the butt of mischievous wags, "Sir, since you come back to the point, will you allow me, in my small, quiet way, to submit to you certain small, quiet views of the subject in hand?"

"Oh, yes!" with insulting indifference, rubbing his chin and looking the other way. "Oh, yes; go on."

"Well, then, respected sir," continued the other, now assuming as genteel an attitude as the irritating set of his pinched five-dollar suit would permit; "well, then, sir, the peculiar principles, the strictly philosophical

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principles, I may say," guardedly rising in dignity, as he guardedly rose on his toes, "upon which our office is founded, has led me and my associates, in our small, quiet way, to a careful analytical study of man, conducted, too, on a quiet theory, and with an unobtrusive aim wholly our own. That theory I will not now at large set forth. But some of the discoveries resulting from it, I will, by your permission, very briefly mention; such of them, I mean, as refer to the state of boyhood scientifically viewed."

"Then you have studied the thing? expressly studied boys, eh? Why didn't you out with that before?"

"Sir, in my small business way, I have not conversed with so many masters, gentlemen masters, for nothing. I have been taught that in this world there is a precedence of opinions as well as of persons. You have kindly given me your views, I am now, with modesty, about to give you mine."

"Stop flunkying -- go on."

"In the first place, sir, our theory teaches us to proceed by analogy from the physical to the moral. Are we right there, sir? Now, sir, take a young boy, a young male infant rather, a man-child in short -- what sir, I respectfully ask, do you in the first place remark?"

"A rascal, sir! present and prospective, a rascal!"

"Sir, if passion is to invade, surely science must evacuate. May I proceed? Well, then, what, in the first place, in a general view, do you remark, respected sir, in that male baby or man-child?"

The bachelor privily growled, but this time, upon the

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whole, better governed himself than before, though not, indeed, to the degree of thinking it prudent to risk an articulate response.

"What do you remark? I respectfully repeat." But, as no answer came, only the low, half-suppressed growl, as of Bruin in a hollow trunk, the questioner continued: "Well, sir, if you will permit me, in my small way, to speak for you, you remark, respected sir, an incipient creation; loose sort of sketchy thing; a little preliminary rag-paper study, or careless cartoon, so to speak, of a man. The idea, you see, respected sir, is there; but, as yet, wants filling out. In a word, respected sir, the man-child is at present but little, every way; I don't pretend to deny it; but, then, he promises well, does he not? Yes, promises very well indeed, I may say. (So, too, we say to our patrons in reference to some noble little youngster objected to for being a dwarf.) But, to advance one step further," extending his thread-bare leg, as he drew a pace nearer, "we must now drop the figure of the rag-paper cartoon, and borrow one -- to use presently, when wanted -- from the horticultural kingdom. Some bud, lily-bud, if you please. Now, such points as the new-born man-child has -- as yet not all that could be desired, I am free to confess -- still, such as they are, there they are, and palpable as those of an adult. But we stop not here," taking another step. "The man-child not only possesses these present points, small though they are, but, likewise -- now our horticultural image comes into play -- like the bud of the lily, he contains concealed rudiments of others; that is,

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points at present invisible, with beauties at present dormant."

"Come, come, this talk is getting too horticultural and beautiful altogether. Cut it short, cut it short!"

"Respected sir," with a rustily martial sort of gesture, like a decayed corporal's, "when deploying into the field of discourse the vanguard of an important argument, much more in evolving the grand central forces of a hew philosophy of boys, as I may say, surely you will kindly allow scope adequate to the movement in hand, small and humble in its way as that movement may be. Is it worth my while to go on, respected sir?"

"Yes, stop flunkying and go on."

Thus encouraged, again the philosopher with the brass-plate proceeded:

"Supposing, sir, that worthy gentleman (in such terms, to an applicant for service, we allude to some patron we chance to have in our eye), supposing, respected sir, that worthy gentleman, Adam, to have been dropped overnight in Eden, as a calf in the pasture; supposing that, sir -- then how could even the learned serpent himself have foreknown that such a downy-chinned little innocent would eventually rival the goat in a beard? Sir, wise as the serpent was, that eventuality would have been entirely hidden from his wisdom."

"I don't know about that. The devil is very sagacious. To judge by the event, he appears to have understood man better even than the Being who made him."

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"For God's sake, don't say that, sir! To the point. Can it now with fairness be denied that, in his beard, the man-child prospectively possesses an appendix, not less imposing than patriarchal; and for this goodly beard, should we not by generous anticipation give the man-child, even in his cradle, credit? Should we not now, sir? respectfully I put it."

"Yes, if like pig-weed he mows it down soon as it shoots," porcinely rubbing his stubble-chin against his coon-skins.

"I have hinted at the analogy," continued the other, calmly disregardful of the digression; "now to apply it. Suppose a boy evince no noble quality. Then generously give him credit for his prospective one. Don't you see? So we say to our patrons when they would fain return a boy upon us as unworthy: 'Madam, or sir, (as the case may be) has this boy a beard?' 'No.' 'Has he, we respectfully ask, as yet, evinced any noble quality?' 'No, indeed.' 'Then, madam, or sir, take him back, we humbly beseech; and keep him till that same noble quality sprouts; for, have confidence, it, like the beard, is in him.'"

"Very fine theory," scornfully exclaimed the bachelor, yet in secret, perhaps, not entirely undisturbed by these strange new views of the matter; "but what trust is to be placed in it?"

"The trust of perfect confidence, sir. To proceed. Once more, if you please, regard the man-child."

"Hold!" paw-like thrusting put his bearskin arm, "don't intrude that man-child upon me too often. He

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who loves not bread, dotes not on dough. As little of your man-child as your logical arrangements will admit."

"Anew regard the man-child," with inspired intrepidity repeated he with the brass-plate, "in the perspective of his developments, I mean. At first the man-child has no teeth, but about the sixth month -- am I right, sir?"

"Don't know anything about it."

"To proceed then: though at first deficient in teeth, about the sixth month the man-child begins to put forth in that particular. And sweet those tender little puttings-forth are."

"Very, but blown out of his mouth directly, worthless enough."

"Admitted. And, therefore, we say to our patrons returning with a boy alleged not only to be deficient in goodness, but redundant in ill: 'The lad, madam or sir, evinces very corrupt qualities, does he? No end to them.' 'But, have confidence, there will be; for pray, madam, in this lad's early childhood, were not those frail first teeth, then his, followed by his present sound, even, beautiful and permanent set. And the more objectionable those first teeth became, was not that, madam, we respectfully submit, so much the more reason to look for their speedy substitution by the present sound, even, beautiful and permanent ones.' 'True, true, can't deny that.' 'Then, madam, take him back, we respectfully beg, and wait till, in the now swift course of nature, dropping those transient moral blemishes

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you complain of, he replacingly buds forth in the sound, even, beautiful and permanent virtues.'"

"Very philosophical again," was the contemptuous reply -- the outward contempt, perhaps, proportioned to the inward misgiving. "Vastly philosophical, indeed, but tell me -- to continue your analogy -- since the second teeth followed -- in fact, came from -- the first, is there no chance the blemish may be transmitted?"

"Not at all." Abating in humility as he gained in the argument. "The second teeth follow, but do not come from, the first; successors, not sons. The first teeth are not like the germ blossom of the apple, at once the father of, and incorporated into, the growth it foreruns; but they are thrust from their place by the independent undergrowth of the succeeding set -- an illustration, by the way, which shows more for me than I meant, though not more than I wish."

"What does it show?" Surly-looking as a thundercloud with the inkept unrest of unacknowledged conviction.

"It shows this, respected sir, that in the case of any boy, especially an ill one, to apply unconditionally the saying, that the 'child is father of the man', is, besides implying an uncharitable aspersion of the race, affirming a thing very wide of -- -- "

" -- Your analogy," like a snapping turtle.

"Yes, respected sir."

"But is analogy argument? You are a punster."

"Punster, respected sir?" with a look of being aggrieved.

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"Yes, you pun with ideas as another man may with words."

"Oh well, sir, whoever talks in that strain, whoever has no confidence in human reason, whoever despises human reason, in vain to reason with him. Still, respected sir," altering his air, "permit me to hint that, had not the force of analogy moved you somewhat, you would hardly have offered to contemn it."

"Talk away," disdainfully; "but pray tell me what has that last analogy of yours to do with your intelligence office business?"

"Everything to do with it, respected sir. From that analogy we derive the reply made to such a patron as, shortly after being supplied by us with an adult servant, proposes to return him upon our hands; not that, while with the patron, said adult has given any cause of dissatisfaction, but the patron has just chanced to hear something unfavorable concerning him from some gentleman who employed said adult, long before, while a boy. To which too fastidious patron, we, taking said adult by the hand, and graciously reintroducing him to the patron, say: 'Far be it from you, madam, or sir, to proceed in your censure against this adult, in anything of the spirit of an ex-post-facto law. Madam, or sir, would you visit upon the butterfly the caterpillar? In the natural advance of all creatures, do they not bury themselves over and over again in the endless resurrection of better and better? Madam, or sir, take back this adult; he may have been a caterpillar, but is now a butterfly."

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"Pun away; but even accepting your analogical pun, what does it amount to? Was the caterpillar one creature, and is the butterfly another? The butterfly is the caterpillar in a gaudy cloak; stripped of which, there lies the impostor's long spindle of a body, pretty much worm-shaped as before."

"You reject the analogy. To the facts then. You deny that a youth of one character can be transformed into a man of an opposite character. Now then -- yes, I have it. There's the founder of La Trappe, and Ignatius Loyola; in boyhood, and someway into manhood, both devil-may-care bloods, and yet, in the end, the wonders of the world for anchoritish self-command. These two examples, by-the-way, we cite to such patrons as would hastily return rakish young waiters upon us. 'Madam, or sir -- patience; patience,' we say; 'good madam, or sir, would you discharge forth your cask of good wine, because, while working, it riles more or less? Then discharge not forth this young waiter; the good in him is working.' 'But he is a sad rake.' 'Therein is his promise; the rake being crude material for the saint.'"

"Ah, you are a talking man -- what I call a wordy man. You talk, talk."

"And with submission, sir, what is the greatest judge, bishop or prophet, but a talking man? He talks, talks. It is the peculiar vocation of a teacher to talk. What's wisdom itself but table-talk? The best wisdom in this world, and the last spoken by its teacher, did it not literally and truly come in the form of table-talk?"

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"You, you, you!" rattling down his rifle.

"To shift the subject, since we cannot agree. Pray, what is your opinion, respected sir, of St. Augustine?"

"St. Augustine? What should I, or you either, know of him? Seems to me, for one in such a business, to say nothing of such a coat, that though you don't know a great deal, indeed, yet you know a good deal more than you ought to know, or than you have a right to know, or than it is safe or expedient for you to know, or than, in the fair course of life, you could have honestly come to know. I am of opinion you should be served like a Jew in the middle ages with his gold; this knowledge of yours, which you haven't enough knowledge to know how to make a right use of, it should be taken from you. And so I have been thinking all along."

"You are merry, sir. But you have a little looked into St. Augustine I suppose."

"St. Augustine on Original Sin is my text book. But you, I ask again, where do you find time or inclination for these out-of-the-way speculations? In fact, your whole talk, the more I think of it, is altogether unexampled and extraordinary."

"Respected sir, have I not already informed you that the quite new method, the strictly philosophical one, on which our office is founded, has led me and my associates to an enlarged study of mankind. It was my fault, if I did not, likewise, hint, that these studies directed always to the scientific procuring of good servants of all sorts, boys included, for the kind gentlemen, our patrons -- that

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these studies, I say, have been conducted equally among all books of all libraries, as among all men of all nations. Then, you rather like St. Augustine, sir?"

"Excellent genius!"

"In some points he was; yet, how comes it that under his own hand, St. Augustine confesses that, until his thirtieth year, he was a very sad dog?"

"A saint a sad dog?"

"Not the saint, but the saint's irresponsible little forerunner -- the boy."

"All boys are rascals, and so are all men," again flying off at his tangent; "my name is Pitch; I stick to what I say."

"Ah, sir, permit me -- when I behold you on this mild summer's eve, thus eccentrically clothed in the skins of wild beasts, I cannot but conclude that the equally grim and unsuitable habit of your mind is likewise but an eccentric assumption, having no basis in your genuine soul, no more than in nature herself."

"Well, really, now -- really," fidgeted the bachelor, not unaffected in his conscience by these benign personalities, "really, really, now, I don't know but that I may have been a little bit too hard upon those five and thirty boys of mine."

"Glad to find you a little softening, sir. Who knows now, but that flexile gracefulness, however questionable at the time of that thirtieth boy of yours, might have been the silky husk of the most solid qualities of maturity. It might have been with him as with the ear of the Indian corn."

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"Yes, yes, yes," excitedly cried the bachelor, as the light of this new illustration broke in, "yes, yes; and now that I think of it, how often I've sadly watched my Indian corn in May, wondering whether such sickly, half-eaten sprouts, could ever thrive up into the stiff, stately spear of August."

"A most admirable reflection, sir, and you have only, according to the analogical theory first started by our office, to apply it to that thirtieth boy in question, and see the result. Had you but kept that thirtieth boy -- been patient with his sickly virtues, cultivated them, hoed round them, why what a glorious guerdon would have been yours, when at last you should have had a St. Augustine for an ostler."

"Really, really -- well, I am glad I didn't send him to jail, as at first I intended."

"Oh that would have been too bad. Grant he was vicious. The petty vices of boys are like the innocent kicks of colts, as yet imperfectly broken. Some boys know not virtue only for the same reason they know not French; it was never taught them. Established upon the basis of parental charity, juvenile asylums exist by law for the benefit of lads convicted of acts which, in adults, would have received other requital. Why? Because, do what they will, society, like our office, at bottom has a Christian confidence in boys. And all this we say to our patrons."

"Your patrons, sir, seem your marines to whom you may say anything," said the other, relapsing. "Why do knowing employers shun youths from asylums,

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though offered them at the smallest wages? I'll none of your reformado boys."

"Such a boy, respected sir, I would not get for you, but a boy that never needed reform. Do not smile, for as whooping-cough and measles are juvenile diseases, and yet some juveniles never have them, so are there boys equally free from juvenile vices. True, for the best of boys' measles may be contagious, and evil communications corrupt good manners; but a boy with a sound mind in a sound body -- such is the boy I would get you. If hitherto, sir, you have struck upon a peculiarly bad vein of boys, so much the more hope now of your hitting a good one."

"That sounds a kind of reasonable, as it were -- a little so, really. In fact, though you have said a great many foolish things, very foolish and absurd things, yet, upon the whole, your conversation has been such as might almost lead one less distrustful than I to repose a certain conditional confidence in you, I had almost added in your office, also. Now, for the humor of it, supposing that even I, I myself, really had this sort of conditional confidence, though but a grain, what sort of a boy, in sober fact, could you send me? And what would be your fee?"

"Conducted," replied the other somewhat loftily, rising now in eloquence as his proselyte, for all his pretenses, sunk in conviction, "conducted upon principles involving care, learning, and labor, exceeding what is usual in kindred institutions, the Philosophical Intelligence Office is forced to charge somewhat higher than

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customary. Briefly, our fee is three dollars in advance. As for the boy, by a lucky chance, I have a very promising little fellow now in my eye -- a very likely little fellow, indeed."


"As the day is long. Might trust him with untold millions. Such, at least, were the marginal observations on the phrenological chart of his head, submitted to me by the mother."

"How old?"

"Just fifteen."

"Tall? Stout?"

"Uncommonly so, for his age, his mother remarked."


"The busy bee."

The bachelor fell into a troubled reverie. At last, with much hesitancy, he spoke:

"Do you think now, candidly, that -- I say candidly -- candidly -- could I have some small, limited -- some faint, conditional degree of confidence in that boy? Candidly, now?"

"Candidly, you could."

"A sound boy? A good boy?"

"Never knew one more so."

The bachelor fell into another irresolute reverie; then said: "Well, now, you have suggested some rather new views of boys, and men, too. Upon those views in the concrete I at present decline to determine. Nevertheless, for the sake purely of a scientific experiment, I will try that boy. I don't think him an angel,

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mind. No, no. But I'll try him. There are my three dollars, and here is my address. Send him along this day two weeks. Hold, you will be wanting the money for his passage. There," handing it somewhat reluctantly.

"Ah, thank you. I had forgotten his passage;" then, altering in manner, and gravely holding the bills, continued: "Respected sir, never willingly do I handle money not with perfect willingness, nay, with a certain alacrity, paid. Either tell me that you have a perfect and unquestioning confidence in me (never mind the boy now) or permit me respectfully to return these bills."

"Put 'em up, put 'em-up!"

"Thank you. Confidence is the indispensable basis of all sorts of business transactions. Without it, commerce between man and man, as between country and country, would, like a watch, run down and stop. And now, supposing that against present expectation the lad should, after all, evince some little undesirable trait, do not, respected sir, rashly dismiss him. Have but patience, have but confidence. Those transient vices will, ere long, fall out, and be replaced by the sound, firm, even and permanent virtues. Ah," glancing shoreward, towards a grotesquely-shaped bluff, "there's the Devil's Joke, as they call it: the bell for landing will shortly ring. I must go look up the cook I brought for the innkeeper at Cairo."

[ 375 ]



In the middle of the gentlemen's cabin burned a solar lamp, swung from the ceiling, and whose shade of ground glass was all round fancifully variegated, in transparency, with the image of a horned altar, from which flames rose, alternate with the figure of a robed man, his head encircled by a halo. The light of this lamp, after dazzlingly striking on marble, snow-white and round the slab of a centre-table beneath on all sides went rippling off with ever-diminishing distinctness, till, like circles from a stone dropped in water, the rays died dimly away in the furthest nook of the place.

Here and there, true to their place, but not to their function, swung other lamps, barren planets, which had either gone out from exhaustion, or been extinguished by such occupants of berths as the light annoyed, or who wanted to sleep, not see.

By a perverse man, in a berth not remote, the remaining lamp would have been extinguished as well, had not a steward forbade, saying that the commands of the captain required it to be kept burning till the natural

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light of day should come to relieve it. This steward, who, like many in his vocation, was apt to be a little free-spoken at times, had been provoked by the man's pertinacity to remind him, not only of the sad consequences which might, upon occasion, ensue from the cabin being left in darkness, but, also, of the circumstance that, in a place full of strangers, to show one's self anxious to produce darkness there, such an anxiety was, to say the least, not becoming. So the lamp -- last survivor of many -- burned on, inwardly blessed by those in some berths, and inwardly execrated by those in others.

Keeping his lone vigils beneath his lone lamp, which lighted his book on- the table, sat a clean, comely, old man, his head snowy as the marble, and a countenance like that which imagination ascribes to good Simeon, when, having at last beheld the Master of Faith, he blessed him and departed in peace. From his hale look of greenness in winter, and his hands ingrained with the tan, less, apparently, of the present summer, than of accumulated ones past, the old man seemed a well-to-do farmer, happily dismissed, after a thrifty life of activity, from the fields to the fireside -- one of those who, at three-score-and-ten, are fresh-hearted as at fifteen; to whom seclusion gives a boon more blessed than knowledge, and at last sends them to heaven untainted by the world, because ignorant of it; just as a country man putting up at a London inn, and never stirring out of it as a sight-seer, will leave London at last without once being lost in its fog, or soiled by its mud.

Redolent from the barber's shop, as any bridegroom

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tripping to the bridal chamber might come, and by his look of cheeriness seeming to dispense a sort of morning through the night, in came the cosmopolitan; but marking the old man, and how he was occupied, he toned himself down, and trod softly, and took a seat on the other side of the table, and said nothing. Still, there was a kind of waiting expression about him.

"Sir," said the old man, after looking up puzzled at him a moment, "sir," said he, "one would think this was a coffee-house, and it was war-time, and I had a newspaper here with great news, and the only copy to be had, you sit there looking at me so eager."

"And so you have good news there, sir the very best of good news."

"Too good to be true," here came from one of the curtained berths.

"Hark I" said the cosmopolitan. " Some one talks in his sleep."

"Yes," said the old man, "and you -- you seem to be talking in a dream. Why speak you, sir, of news, and all that, when you must see this is a book I have here -- the Bible, not a newspaper?"

"I know that; and when you are through with it -- but not a moment sooner -- I will thank you for it. It belongs to the boat, I believe a present from a society."

"Oh, take it, take it!"

"Nay, sir, I did not mean to touch you at all. I simply stated the fact in explanation of my waiting here nothing more. Read on, sir, or you will distress me."

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This courtesy was not without effect. Removing his spectacles, and saying he had about finished his chapter, the old man kindly presented the volume, which was received with thanks equally kind. After reading for some minutes, until his expression merged from attentiveness into seriousness, and from that into a kind of pain, the cosmopolitan slowly laid down the book, and turning to the old man, who thus far had been watching him with benign curiosity, said: "Can you, my aged friend, resolve me a doubt -- a disturbing doubt?"

"There are doubts, sir," replied the old man, with a changed countenance, "there are doubts, sir, which, if man have them, it is not man that can solve them."

"True; but look, now, what my doubt is. I am one who thinks well of man. I love man. I have confidence in man. But what was told me not a half-hour since? I was told that I would find it written --'Believe not his many words an enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips' -- and also I was told that I would find a good deal more to the same effect, and all in this book. I could not think it; and, coming here to look for myself, what do I read? Not only just what was quoted, but also, as was engaged, more to the same purpose, such as this: 'With much communication he will tempt thee; he will smile upon thee, and speak thee fair, and say What wantest thou? If thou be for his profit he will use thee; he will make thee bear, and will not be sorry for it. Observe and take good heed. When thou nearest these things, awake in thy sleep.'"

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"Who's that describing the confidence-man?" here came from the berth again.

"Awake in his sleep, sure enough, ain't he?" said the cosmopolitan, again looking off in surprise. "Same voice as before, ain't it? Strange sort of dreamy man, that. Which is his berth, pray?"

"Never mind him, sir," said the old man anxiously, "but tell me truly, did you, indeed, read from the book just now?"

"I did," with changed air, "and gall and wormwood it is to me, a truster in man; to me, a philanthropist."

"Why," moved, "you don't mean to say, that what you repeated is really down there? Man and boy, I have read the good book this seventy years, and don't remember seeing anything like that. Let me see it," rising earnestly, and going round to him.

"There it is; and there -- and there" -- turning over the leaves, and pointing to the sentences one by one; "there -- all down in the 'Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach.'"

"Ah!" cried the old man, brightening up, "now I know. Look," turning the leaves forward and back, till all the Old Testament lay flat on one side, and all the New Testament flat on the other, while in his fingers he supported vertically the portion between, "look, sir, all this to the right is certain truth, and all this to the left is certain truth, but all I hold in my hand here is apocrypha."


"Yes; and there's the word in black and white,"

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pointing to it. "And what says the word? It says as much as 'not warranted;' for what do college men say of anything of that sort? They say it is apocryphal. The word itself, I've heard from the pulpit, implies something of uncertain credit. So if your disturbance be raised from aught in this apocrypha," again taking up the pages, "in that case, think no more of it, for it's apocrypha."

"What's that about the Apocalypse?" here, a third time, came from the berth.

"He's seeing visions now, ain't he?" said the cosmopolitan, once more looking in the direction of the interruption. "But, sir," resuming, "I cannot tell you how thankful I am for your reminding me about the apocrypha here. For the moment, its being such escaped me. Fact is, when all is bound up together, it's sometimes confusing. The uncanonical part should be bound distinct. And, now that I think of it, how well did those learned doctors who rejected for us this whole book of Sirach. I never read anything so calculated to destroy man's confidence in man. This son of Sirach even says -- I saw it but just now: 'Take heed of thy friends;' not, observe, thy seeming friends, thy hypocritical friends, thy false friends, but thy friends, thy real friends that is to say, not the truest friend in the world is to be implicitly trusted. Can Rochefoucault equal that? I should not wonder if his view of human nature, like Machiavelli's, was taken from this Son of Sirach. And to call it wisdom -- the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach! Wisdom, indeed! What an ugly thing wisdom must be!

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Give me the folly that dimples the cheek, say I, rather than the wisdom that curdles the blood. But no, no; it ain't wisdom; it's apocrypha, as you say, sir. For how can that be trustworthy that teaches distrust?"

"I tell you what it is," here cried the same voice as before, only more in less of mockery, "if you two don't know enough to sleep, don't be keeping wiser men awake. And if you want to know what wisdom is, go find it under your blankets."

"Wisdom?" cried another voice with a brogue; "arrah, and is't wisdom the two geese are gabbling about all this while? To bed with ye, ye divils, and don't be after burning your fingers with the likes of wisdom.

" We must talk lower," said the old man; "I fear we have annoyed these good people."

"I should be sorry if wisdom annoyed any one," said the other; "but we will lower our voices, as you say. To resume: taking the thing as I did, can you be surprised at my uneasiness in reading passages so charged with the spirit of distrust?"

"No, sir, I am not surprised," said the old man; then added: "from what you say, I see you are something of my way of thinking -- you think that to distrust the creature, is a kind of distrusting of the Creator. Well, my young friend, what is it? This is rather late for you to be about. What do you want of me?"

These questions were put to a boy in the fragment of an old linen coat, bedraggled and yellow, who, coming

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in from the deck barefooted on the soft carpet, had been unheard. All pointed and fluttering, the rags of the little fellow's red-flannel shirt, mixed with those of his yellow coat, flamed about him like the painted flames in the robes of a victim in auto-da-fe. His face, too, wore such a polish of seasoned grime, that his sloe-eyes sparkled from out it like lustrous sparks in fresh coal. He was a juvenile peddler, or marchand, as the polite French might have called him, of travelers' conveniences; and, having no allotted sleeping-place, had, in his wanderings about the boat, spied, through glass doors, the two in the cabin; and, late though it was, thought it might never be too much so for turning a penny.

Among other things, he carried a curious affair -- a miniature mahogany door, hinged to its frame, and suitably furnished in all respects but one, which will shortly appear. This little door he now meaningly held before the old man, who, after staring at it a while, said: "Go thy ways with thy toys, child."

"Now, may I never get so old and wise as that comes to," laughed the boy through his grime; and, by so doing, disclosing leopard-like teeth, like those of Murillo's wild beggar-boy's.

"The divils are laughing now, are they?" here came the brogue from the berth. "What do the divils find to laugh about in wisdom, begorrah? To bed with ye, ye divils, and no more of ye."

"You see, child, you have disturbed that person," said the old man; "you mustn't laugh any more."

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"Ah, now," said the cosmopolitan, "don't, pray, say that; don't let him think that poor Laughter is persecuted for a fool in this world."

"Well," said the old man to the boy, "you must, at any rate, speak very low."

"Yes, that wouldn't be amiss, perhaps," said the cosmopolitan; "but, my fine fellow, you were about saying something to my aged friend here; what was it?"

"Oh," with a lowered voice, coolly opening and shutting his little door, "only this: when I kept a toy-stand at the fair in Cincinnati last month, I sold more than one old man a child's rattle."

"No doubt of it," said the old man. "I myself often buy such things for my little grandchildren."

"But these old men I talk of were old bachelors."

The old man stared at him a moment; then, whispering to the cosmopolitan: "Strange boy, this; sort of simple, ain't he? Don't know much, hey?"

"Not much," said the boy, "or I wouldn't be so ragged."

"Why, child, what sharp ears you have!" exclaimed the old man.

"If they were duller, I would hear less ill of myself," said the boy.

"You seem pretty wise, my lad," said the cosmopolitan; "why don't you sell your wisdom, and buy a coat?"

" Faith," said the boy, "that's what I did to-day, and this is the coat that the price of my wisdom bought.

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But won't you trade? See, now, it is not the door I want to sell; I only carry the door round for a specimen, like. Look now, sir," standing the thing up on the table, "supposing this little door is your state-room door; well," opening it, "you go in for the night; you close your door behind you -- thus. Now, is all safe?"

"I suppose so, child," said the old man.

"Of course it is, my fine fellow," said the cosmopolitan.

"All safe. Well. Now, about two o'clock in the morning, say, a soft-handed gentleman comes softly and tries the knob -- here thus; in creeps my soft-handed gentleman; and hey, presto! how comes on the soft cash?"

"I see, I see, child," said the old man; "your fine gentleman is a fine thief, and there's no lock to your little door to keep him out;" with which words he peered at it more closely than before.

"Well, now," again showing his white teeth, "well, now, some of you old folks are knowing 'uns, sure enough; but now comes the great invention," producing a small steel contrivance, very simple but ingenious, and which, being clapped on the inside of the little door, secured it as with a bolt. "There now," admiringly holding it off at arm's-length, "there now, let that soft-handed gentleman come now a' softly trying this little knob here, and let him keep a' trying till he finds his head as soft as his hand. Buy the traveler's patent lock, sir, only twenty-five cents."

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"Dear me," cried the old man, " this beats printing. Yes, child, I will have one, and use it this very night."

With the phlegm of an old banker pouching the change, the boy now turned to the other: "Sell you one, sir?"

"Excuse me, my fine fellow, but I never use such blacksmiths' things."

"Those who give the blacksmith most work seldom do," said the boy, tipping him a wink expressive of a degree of indefinite knowingness, not uninteresting to consider in one of his years. But the wink was not marked by the old man, nor, to all appearances, by him for whom it was intended.

"Now then," said the boy, again addressing the old man. "With your traveler's lock on your door to night, you will think yourself all safe, won't you?"

"I think I will, child."

"But how about the window?"

"Dear me, the window, child. I never thought of that. I must see to that."

"Never you mind about the window," said the boy, nor, to be honor bright, about the traveler's lock either, (though I ain't sorry for selling one), do you just buy one of these little jokers," producing a number of suspender-like objects, which he dangled before the old man; "money-belts, sir; only fifty cents."

"Money-belt? never heard of such a thing."

"A sort of pocket-book," said the boy, "only a safer sort. Very good for travelers."

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"Oh, a pocket-book. Queer looking pocket-books though, seems to me. Ain't they rather long and narrow for pocket-books?"

"They go round the waist, sir, inside," said the boy, "door open or locked, wide awake on your feet or fast asleep in your chair, impossible to be robbed with a money-belt."

"I see, I see. It would be hard to rob one's money-belt. And I was told to-day the Mississippi is a bad river for pick-pockets. How much are they?"

"Only fifty cents, sir."

"I'll take one. There!"

"Thank-ee. And now there's a present for ye," with which, drawing from his breast a batch of little papers, he threw one before the old man, who, looking at it, read "Counterfeit Detector."

"Very good thing," said the boy, "I give it to all my customers who trade seventy-five cents' worth; best present can be made them. Sell you a money-belt, sir?" turning to the cosmopolitan.

"Excuse me, my fine fellow, but I never use that sort of thing; my money I carry loose."

"Loose bait ain't bad," said the boy, "look a lie and find the truth; don't care about a Counterfeit Detector, do ye? or is the wind East, d'ye think?"

"Child," said the old man in some concern, "you mustn't sit up any longer, it affects your mind; there, go away, go to bed."

"If I had some people's brains to lie on, I would," said the boy, "but planks is hard, you know."

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"Go, child -- go, go!"

"Yes, child, -- yes, yes," said the boy, with which roguish parody, by way of conge, he scraped back his hard foot on the woven flowers of the carpet, much as a mischievous steer in May scrapes back his horny hoof in the pasture; and then with a flourish of his hat -- which, like the rest of his tatters, was, thanks to hard times, a belonging beyond his years, though not beyond his experience, being a grown man's cast-off beaver -- turned, and with the air of a young Caffre, quitted the place.

"That's a strange boy," said the old man, looking after him. "I wonder who's his mother; and whether she knows what late hours he keeps?"

"The probability is," observed the other, "that his mother does not know. But if you remember, sir, you were saying something, when the boy interrupted you with his door."

" So I was. -- Let me see," unmindful of his purchases for the moment, "what, now, was it? What was that I was saying? Do you remember?"

"Not perfectly, sir; but, if I am not mistaken, it was something like this: you hoped you did not distrust the creature; for that would imply distrust of the Creator."

"Yes, that was something like it," mechanically and unintelligently letting his eye fall now on his purchases.

"Pray, will you put your money in your belt to night?"

"It's best, ain't it?" with a slight start. "Never

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too late to be cautious. 'Beware of pick-pockets' is all over the boat."

"Yes, and it must have been the Son of Sirach, or some other morbid cynic, who put them there. But that's not to the purpose. Since you are minded to it, pray, sir, let me help you about the belt. I think that, between us, we can make a secure thing of it."

"Oh no, no, no!" said the old man, not unperturbed, "no, no, I wouldn't trouble you for the world," then, nervously folding up the belt, "and I won't be so impolite as to do it for myself, before you, either. But, now that I think of it," after a pause, carefully taking a little wad from a remote corner of his vest pocket, "here are two bills they gave me at St. Louis, yesterday. No doubt they are all right; but just to pass time, I'll compare them with the Detector here. Blessed boy to make me such a present. Public benefactor, that little boy!"

Laying the Detector square before him on the table, he then, with something of the air of an officer bringing by the collar a brace of culprits to the bar, placed the two bills opposite the Detector, upon which, the examination began, lasting some time, prosecuted with no small research and vigilance, the forefinger of the right hand proving of lawyer-like efficacy in tracing out and pointing the evidence, whichever way it might go.

After watching him a while, the cosmopolitan said in a formal voice, "Well, what say you, Mr. Foreman; guilty, or not guilty? -- Not guilty, ain't it?"

"I don't know, I don't know," returned the old man,

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perplexed, "there's so many marks of all sorts to go by, it makes it a kind of uncertain. Here, now, is this bill," touching one, "it looks to be a three dollar bill on the Vicksburgh Trust and Insurance Banking Company. Well, the Detector says --"

"But why, in this case, care what it says? Trust and Insurance! What more would you have?"

"No; but the Detector says, among fifty other things, that, if a good bill, it must have, thickened here and there into the substance of the paper, little wavy spots of red; and it says they must have a kind of silky feel, being made by the lint of a red silk handkerchief stirred up in the paper-maker's vat the paper being made to order for the company."

"Well, and is --"

"Stay. But then it adds, that sign is not always to be relied on; for some good bills get so worn, the red marks get rubbed out. And that's the case with my bill here -- see how old it is -- or else it's a counterfeit, or else -- I don't see right -- or else dear, dear me -- I don't know what else to think."

"What a peck of trouble that Detector makes for you now; believe me, the bill is good; don't be so distrustful. Proves what I've always thought, that much of the want of confidence, in these days, is owing to these Counterfeit Detectors you see on every desk and counter. Puts people up to suspecting good bills. Throw it away, I beg, if only because of the trouble it breeds you."

"No; it's troublesome, but I think I'll keep it. -- Stay,

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now, here's another sign. It says that, if the bill is good, it must have in one corner, mixed in with the vignette, the figure of a goose, very small, indeed, all but microscopic; and, for added precaution, like the figure of Napoleon outlined by the tree, not observable, even if magnified, unless the attention is directed to it. Now, pore over it as I will, I can't see this goose."

"Can't see the goose? why, I can; and a famous goose it is. There" (reaching over and pointing to a spot in the vignette).

"I don't see it -- dear me -- I don't see the goose. Is it a real goose?"

"A perfect goose; beautiful goose."

"Dear, dear, I don't see it."

"Then throw that Detector away, I say again; it only makes you purblind; don't you see what a wild-goose chase it has led you? The bill is good. Throw the Detector away."

"No; it ain't so satisfactory as I thought for, but I must examine this other bill."

"As you please, but I can't in conscience assist you any more; pray, then, excuse me."

So, while the old man with much painstakings resumed his work, the cosmopolitan, to allow him every facility, resumed his reading. At length, seeing that he had given up his undertaking as hopeless, and was at leisure again, the cosmopolitan addressed some gravely interesting remarks to him about the book before him, and, presently, becoming more and more grave, said, as he turned the large volume slowly over on the table,

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and with much difficulty traced the faded remains of the gilt inscription giving the name of the society who had presented it to the boat, "Ah, sir, though every one must be pleased at the thought of the presence in public places of such a book, yet there is something that abates the satisfaction. Look at this volume; on the outside, battered as any old valise in the baggage-room; and inside, white and virgin as the hearts of lilies in bud."

"So it is. so it is," said the old man sadly, his attention for the first directed to the circumstance.

"Nor is this the only time," continued the other, "that I have observed these public Bibles in boats and hotels. All much like this -- old without, and new within. True, this aptly typifies that internal freshness, the best mark of truth, however ancient; but then, it speaks not so well as could be wished for the good book's esteem in the minds of the traveling public. I may err, but it seems to me that if more confidence was put in it by the traveling public, it would hardly be so."

With an expression very unlike that with which he had bent over the Detector, the old man sat meditating upon his companion's remarks a while; and, at last, with a rapt look, said: " And yet, of all people, the traveling public most need to put trust in that guardianship which is made known in this book."

"True, true," thoughtfully assented the other.

"And one would think they would wane to, and be glad to," continued the old man kindling; "for, in

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all our wanderings through this vale, how pleasant, not less than obligatory, to feel that we need start at no wild alarms, provide for no wild perils; trusting in that Power which is alike able and willing to protect us when we cannot ourselves."

His manner produced something answering to it in the cosmopolitan, who, leaning over towards him, said sadly: "Though this is a theme on which travelers seldom talk to each other, yet, to you, sir, I will say, that I share something of your sense of security. I have moved much about the world, and still keep at it; nevertheless, though in this land, and especially in these parts of it, some stories are told about steamboats and railroads fitted to make one a little apprehensive, yet, I may say that, neither by land nor by water, am I ever seriously disquieted, however, at times, transiently uneasy; since, with you, sir, I believe in a Committee of Safety, holding silent sessions over all, in an invisible patrol, most alert when we soundest sleep, and whose beat lies as much through forests as towns, along rivers as streets. In short, I never forget that passage of Scripture which says, 'Jehovah shall be thy confidence.' The traveler who has not this trust, what miserable misgivings must be his; or, what vain, short-sighted care must he take of himself."

"Even so," said the old man, lowly.

"There is a chapter," continued the other, again taking the book, "which, as not amiss, I must read you. But this lamp, solar-lamp as it is, begins to burn dimly."

"So it does, so it does," said the old man with

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changed air, "dear me, it must be very late. I must to bed, to bed! Let me see," rising and looking wistfully all round, first on the stools and settees, and then on the carpet, "let me see, let me see; is there anything I have forgot, -- forgot? Something I a sort of dimly remember. Something, my son -- careful man -- told me at starting this morning, this very morning. Something about seeing to something before I got into my berth. What could it be? Something for safety. Oh, my poor old memory!"

"Let me give a little guess, sir. Life-preserver?"

"So it was. He told me not to omit seeing I had a life-preserver in my state-room; said the boat supplied them, too. But where are they? I don't see any. What are they like?"

"They are something like this, sir, I believe," lifting a brown stool with a curved tin compartment underneath; "yes, this, I think, is a life-preserver, sir; and a very good one, I should say, though I don't pretend to know much about such things, never using them myself."

"Why, indeed, now! Who would have thought it? that a life-preserver? That's the very stool I was sitting on, ain't it?"

"It is. And that shows that one's life is looked out for, when he ain't looking out for it himself. In fact, any of these stools here will float you, sir, should the boat hit a snag, and go down in. the dark. But, since you want one in your room, pray take this one," handing it to him. "I think I can recommend this one; the

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tin part," rapping it with his knuckles, "seems so perfect -- sounds so very hollow."

"Sure it's quite perfect, though?" Then, anxiously putting on his spectacles, he scrutinized it pretty closely -- "well soldered? quite tight?"

"I should say so, sir; though, indeed, as I said, I never use this sort of thing, myself. Still, I think that in case of a wreck, barring sharp-pointed timbers, you could have confidence in that stool for a special providence.

" "Then, good-night, good-night; and Providence have both of us in its good keeping."

"Be sure it will," eying the old man with sympathy, as for the moment he stood, money-belt in hand, and life-preserver under arm, "be sure it will, sir, since in Providence, as in man, you and I equally put trust. But, bless me, we are being left in the dark here. Pah! what a smell, too."

"Ah, my way now," cried the old man, peering be fore him, "where lies my way to my state-room?"

"I have indifferent eyes, and will show you; but, first, for the good of all lungs, let me extinguish this lamp."

The next moment, the waning light expired, and with it the waning flames of the horned altar, and the waning halo round the robed man's brow; while in the darkness which ensued, the cosmopolitan kindly led the old man away. Something further may follow of this Masquerade.

H. Bruce Franklin

The Wake of the Gods:
Melville's Mythology

(Stanford Univ. Press, 1963)

17-52 (excerpts)
153-187 (excerpts)

Transcriber's comments

Copyright © 1963, Stanford University. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.



A Study of Myths and Mythmaking        

The Polynesia of Mardi is the many islands of this world, and Mardi surveys their many religious, political, social, sexual, economic, literary, and philosophical idols as well as the wooden idols carved by the Mardian Pope's official idol maker. Although each of these idols depends from a myth in the most general sense of myth, some of them depend from myths in the most restricted sense. To the extent that these myths are a theme of Mardi -- and this is a vast extent -- Mardi is a study of mythology. To the extent that these myths are evaluated in terms of one another -- and this also is vast -- Mardi is a textbook of comparative mythology. Typee and Omoo had assumed an ideal religion which could brand the idolatrous theologies of pagans and Christians as mere mythology. Mardi is the first of Melville's works which does not assume an ideal religion but which quests for it and questions all that the quest discovers. Because there is no assumed religion in Mardi, any theology may or may not be mythology and any myth may or may not be divine.

Mardi draws upon the mythologies of the Hindus, the Polynesians, the Incas, the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Christians, the Romans, and the Norse, and compares them to one another and to man's other myths and his idols. In this survey Mardi quests through these myths and idols for a truth behind and beyond them.

The quest begins in the westward voyage of the ship Arcturion. When it veers north, the narrator leaves it. He takes with him Jarl,

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a modern Viking, and continues west in the whaleboat Chamois. From the Chamois he and Jarl board the mysterious brig Parki, and after the Parki sinks they resume their westward voyage in the Chamois, taking with them the last survivor of the Parki's crew, Samoa, "master of Gog and Magog, expounder of all things heathenish and obscure. [1] The narrator then finds Yillah, a mysterious maiden who seems to be the consummation of his quest, on a sacred Polynesian ark. He kills the priest who worships and is about to sacrifice Yillah, carries her to the Chamois, and sails westward with her, Jarl, and Samoa to Mardi. When Yillah mysteriously disappears, the quest resumes as an allegorical voyage through Mardi. Jarl and Samoa are soon killed, and the narrator's last links with extra-Mardian lands are thus snapped. He now shares his quest with four others, each as interested as himself in its outcome. Each of the other four consummates his quest, but the narrator is damned to never ending his.

Of the five questors who sail on the allegorical voyage, each has a peculiar mythological function: Mohi the historian narrates historical mythology; Yoomy the poet warbles poetical mythology; Babbalanj a the philosopher babbles philosophical mythology. As these three mythologize in the background, King Media acts the role of a euhemerized demigod, and "Taji," the name assumed by the narrator, acts the role of an astronomical avatar. These five functions must be seen in the context of contemporaneous mythology.

The great eighteenth-century Sanskrit research put comparative mythology and religion as well as ethnology, prehistory, and philology permanently on a new path. In 1856 Max Muller, the follower of the eighteenth-century philological mythologists, pointed back along the path: "If Hegel calls the discovery of the common origin of Greek and Sanskrit the discovery of a new world, the same may be said with regard to the common origin of Greek and Sanskrit mythology." [2] The man who led the discoverers of both new worlds was Sir Wilham Jones.

Melville seemed to consider Jones what he may very well have been -- the greatest linguist of all time [3] Jones and Sir Charles Wilkins, working together, became in the early 1780's the first Europeans

1. Mardi: and A Voyage Thither, 2 vols. (New York: Harper & Bros., 1849), I, 204. Because Mardi, Melville's first major work, has been out of print more than a dozen years and because there has never been an adequate modern edition, I use the first American edition. I have taken the liberty of correcting only those errors in spelling and punctuation which are disconcerting and which are obviously errors.

2. "Comparative Mythology," Oxford Essays (1856), p. 86.

3. See Typee, p. 744, and Moby-Dick, end of the chapter "The Praire."

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       19

to master Sanskrit. Although Wilkins went on to translate the Bhagavad-Gita and Hitopadesa, Jones exerted much the stronger influence on contemporary mythology. He was for a time undoubtedly the most influential of all mythologists.

In 1784 Jones helped organize the Royal Society of Bengal and Calcutta. Under his leadership, the Society published its extremely important Asiatick Researches and promoted scholarship in Asiatic history, geography, geology, botany, philology, philosophy, ethnology, and, most especially, comparative religion and mythology. Jones himself was the chief contributor to this last concern. As a fearless Protestant apologist, he industriously translated Asiatic sacred, legendary, and profane writings into the language of most Protestant missionaries. His relating of Hindu scripture to Christian scripture and his hints to future Christian missionaries in India were reiterated and amplified by dozens of early nineteenth-century periodicals; his studies of Hindu gods were quoted and paraphrased in hundreds of books and magazines; he became an almost legendary learned champion of the Judaic-Christian revelation.

Jones's most important single work was an essay entitled "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India," published in the first volume of Asiatick Researches. In this essay, he displayed the two new worlds he had discovered -- the common origin of Greek and Sanskrit and the common origin of their mythologies.

Jones's theories, his techniques, his facts, his symbolic stature, and almost the entire essay "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India" were all included and enlarged upon by Maurice's Indian Antiquities and History of Hindostan, works familiar to Melville. Whether Jones's essay was a direct source for Mardi is unimportant. "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India" deals with some of the central concerns of Mardi, treating them in strikingly similar terms; it precisely locates Mardi's mythology in its chronological and intellectual setting, and thus defines what is perhaps the most important structural principle of the book.

As Jones witnessed and abetted the discovery of Sanskrit literature, he realized the dangers of what he was finding. If previous knowledge

20                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

of pagan religions had made possible a Bayle, a Voltaire, and a Hume, what monstrous generation of skeptics would this new discovery breed? Sanskrit literature contained striking similarities to the Bible, evinced as high a degree of civilization, and appeared to be more ancient. If the similarities between the Hebrew and Egyptian religions had caused skeptics to suspect that the Mosaic cosmogony was merely a product of Moses' exposure to the Egyptian court, what would they say about the striking similarities between ancient Hinduism and the Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Christian religions? And at the same time, archeology, astronomy, and geology were casting doubt on some of the dates and other details of the Bible. With both the uniqueness and the accuracy of the Judaic-Christian revelation daily becoming more equivocal, Jones attempted in "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India" to wrest the weapons of comparative mythology from the hands of the skeptics, deists, freethinkers, and atheists, to appropriate for orthodox Christian apologetics what was later to be called Higher Criticism.

Jones begins by denying the theory developed throughout the eighteenth century -- the psychological explanation of similar mythologies:

We cannot justly conclude, by arguments preceding the proof of facts, that one idolatrous people must have borrowed their deities, rites, and tenets from another; since Gods of all shapes and dimensions may be framed by the boundless powers of imagination, or by the frauds and follies of men, in countries never connected; but when features of resemblance, too strong to have been accidental, are observable in different systems of polytheism, without fancy or prejudice to color them, and improve the likeness, we can scarce help believing, that some connection has immemorially subsisted between the several nations who have adopted them. It is my design, in this Essay, to point out such a resemblance between the popular worship of the old Greeks and Italians and that of the Hindus. Nor can there be room to doubt of a great similarity between their strange religions and that of Egypt, China, Persia, Phrygia, Phoenicia, Syria; to which, perhaps, we may safely add, some of the southern kingdoms, and even islands of America: while the Gothic system, which prevailed in the northern regions of Europe, was not merely similar to those of Greece and Italy, but almost the same, in another dress, with an

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       21

embroidery of images apparently Asiatick. From all this, if it be satisfactorily proved, we may infer a general union or affinity between the most distinguished inhabitants of the primitive world, at the time when they deviated, as they did too early deviate, from the rational adoration of the only true GOD. [4]

After outlining his own theory of the sources of mythology, which we shall later examine in detail, Jones passes on to the importance of comparative mythology "in an age when sane intelligent and virtuous persons are inclined to doubt the authenticity of the accounts delivered by Moses concerning the primitive world." He then defines the lines of battle:

Either the first eleven chapters of Genesis (all due allowances being made for a figurative eastern style) are true, or the whole fabric of our national religion is false; a conclusion which none of us, I trust, would wish to be drawn. I, who cannot help believing the divinity of the Messiah, from the undisputed antiquity and manifest completion of many prophecies, especially those of Isaiah, in the only person recorded by history to whom they are applicable, am obliged, of course, to believe the sanctity of the venerable books to which that sacred person refers as genuine: but it is not the truth of our national religion, as such, that I have at heart; it is truth itself; and if any cool, unbiassed reasoner will clearly convince me, that Moses drew his narrative through Egyptian conduits from the primeval fountains of Indian literature, I shall esteem him as a friend for having weaned my mind from a capital error, and promise to stand among the foremost in assisting to circulate the truth which he has ascertained. (P. 225)

After the central part of the essay -- a detailed comparison of Roman, Greek, and Hindu gods -- Jones returns to his more vexing problems: "Since Egypt appears to have been the grand source of knowledge for the western, and India for the more eastern, parts of the globe, it may seem a material question, whether the Egyptians communicated their Mythology and Philosophy to the Hindus, or conversely." Then, after giving some tenuous evidence suggesting the prior antiquity of the Egyptians, he maneuvers around the entire significance of prior antiquities: "Be all this as it may, I am persuaded that a connection subsisted between the old idolatrous nations of Egypt, India, Greece,

4. Asiatick Researches, 5th ed. (London, 18o6), I, 221-22.

22                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

and Italy, long before they emigrated to their several settlements, and consequently before the birth of Moses: but the proof of this proposition will in no degree affect the truth and sanctity of the Mosaick History, which, if confirmation were necessary, it would rather tend to confirm." In his next sentence Jones shows how the greater antiquity of other religions confirms "the sanctity of the Mosaick History": "The Divine Legate, educated by the daughter of a king, and in all respects highly accomplished, could not but know the mythological system of Egypt; but he must have condemned the superstitions of that people, and despised the speculative absurdities of their priests, though some of their traditions concerning the creation and the flood were grounded on truth." After rhetorically enlarging this point, Jones concludes: "There is no shadow then of a foundation for an opinion, that Moses borrowed the first nine or ten chapters of Genesis from the literature of Egypt: still less can the adamantine pillars of our Christian faith be moved by the result of any debates on the comparative antiquity of the Hindus and Egyptians, or of any inquiries into the Indian theology." Melville examines the same problem, but his conclusion differs from Jones's: "I shudder at the idea of ancient Egyptians. It was in these pyramids that was conceived the idea of Jehovah. Terrible mixture of the cunning and awful. Moses learned in all the lore of the Egyptians. The idea of Jehovah born here." [5]

In the decades immediately following the publication of Jones's essay, Pacific voyages brought the problem full circle around the world. One of the known sources of Mardi, William Ellis's Polynesian Researches, tries to stretch the ever thinning line of diffusionism eastward from India to Polynesia, or, alternately, from India to America and westward to Polynesia. [6] Ellis has the task of showing simultaneously the ultimate Hebrew and more recent Hindu originof the Polynesians:

One of their accounts of creation... and the very circumstantial tradition they have of the deluge, if they do not, as some have supposed, (when taken in connexion with many customs, and analogies in language,) warrant the inference that the Polynesians have an Hebrew origin; they show that the nation, whence they emigrated, was acquainted with some

5. Journal of a Visit to Europe and the Levant, ed. Howard C. Horsford (Princeton, N.J., 1955), P. 118.

6. 4 vols. (London, 1831), I, 115ff.

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       23

of the leading facts recorded in the Mosaic history of the primitive ages of mankind. Others appear to have a striking resemblance to several conspicuous features of the more modern Hindoo, or Braminical mythology. [7]

In his attempts to identify Hindu and Polynesian mythology and to account geographically for Polynesian history, Ellis continually returns to the "great mystery" which surrounds Polynesian origins. Mardi defines the identity of Asiatic, Pacific, and Mediterranean gods -- Brami (Brahma), Manko (Manco Capac), and Alma (Christ) -- in terms which steer clear of the perilously strained diffusionism of Jones and Ellis.

The concluding steps in Jones's argument bring us to this central mythological concept of Mardi. He accounts for the striking similarities between the stories of Krishna (an avatar of Vishnu) and Christ by postulating that "the spurious Gospels, which abounded in the first age of Christianity, had been brought to India, and the wildest parts of them repeated to the Hindus, who ingrafted them on the fable of Cesava, the Apollo of Greece." These very similarities will be, Jones concludes, the most difficult obstacle in the way of a mass conversion of the Hindus:

The Hindus... would readily admit the truth of the Gospel; but they contend, that it is perfectly consistent with their Sastras. The Deity, they say, has appeared innumerable times, in many parts of this world, and of all worlds, for the salvation of his creatures; and though we adore him in one appearance, and they in others, yet we adore, they say, the same God, to whom our several worships, though different in form, are equally acceptable, if they be sincere in substance. (P. 274)

If this obstacle proves insurmountable, then, says Jones in his final words, "we could only lament more than ever the strength of prejudice, and the weakness of unassisted reason."

The same prejudice and same unassisted reason seem to victimize the official chronicles of Mardi, for these chronicles use both the Hindu concept and word avatar to describe Christ (Alma):

Alma, it seems, was an illustrious prophet, and teacher divine; who, ages ago, at long intervals, and in various islands, had appeared to the Mardians under the different titles of Brami, Manko, and Alma. Many

7. Ibid., p. 115.

24                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

thousands of moons had elapsed since his last and most memorable avatar, as Alma on the isle of Maramma. Each of his advents had taken place in a comparatively dark and benighted age. Hence, it was devoutly believed, that he came to redeem the Mardians from their heathenish thrall; to instruct them in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good by promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe. Separated from the impurities and corruptions, which in a long series of centuries had become attached to every thing originally uttered by the prophet, the maxims, which as Brami he had taught, seemed similar to those inculcated by Manko. But as Alma, adapting his lessons to the improved condition of humanity, the divine prophet had more completely unfolded his scheme; as Alma, he had made his last revelation. (II, 38-39)

The Mardian chronicles, like Jones's Hindus, identify Brahma and Christ. These chronicles are the official statements of Mardian history, narrated by Mohi, the official chronicler. To understand why this Western heresy is Mardian orthodoxy, to understand the relation between the Mardian mythology and the narrative framework of Mardi, and to understand the relation of Mardi to contemporaneous mythological theory, we may turn to Jones's theory of mythology. For this theory coherently orders Mardi's mythology.

Jones's theory assumes "four principal sources of all mythology" -- the distortion of natural and human history, the adoration of astronomical events, poetic invention, and metaphysical invention. His analysis distinguishes among various kinds of mythological producers and their products. Historians and the kings they serve produce one kind of myth; astronomical worship produces another kind; poets and philosophers produce still other kinds. The gods created by royal policy, by astronomical awe, by poetic conceits, by philosophic hypotheses substantially differ from one another. On the Mardian quest sail both producers of myth -- Mohi the historian, Yoomy the poet, Babbalanja the philosopher -- and products of myth -- Media the royal deity, Taji the astronomical deity, and Azzageddi the metaphysical devil. The quest seeks Yillah, who combines elements of historical, astronomical, poetic, and metaphysical mythologizing. Some of the questors end with Alma, who also combines elements of the four

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       25

of mythologizing. Let us now look carefully at the producers of and their mythic products, comparing Jones's theoretical myth-with the mythology Melville dramatizes.


I. Historical or natural truth has been perverted into fable by ignorance, imagination, flattery, or stupidity; as a king of Crete, whose tomb had been discovered in that island, was conceived to have been the God of Olympus... hence beacons or volcanos became one-eyed giants, and monsters vomiting flames; and two rocks, from their appearance to mariners in certain positions, were supposed to crush all vessels attempting to pass between them; of which idle fictions many other instances might be collected from the Odyssey, and the various Argonautick poems. The less we say of Julian stars, deification of princes or warriors, altars raised, with those of Apollo, to the basest of men, and divine titles bestowed on such wretches as Caius Octavianus, the less we shall expose the infamy of grave senators and fine poets, or the brutal folly of the low multitude: but we may be assured, that the mad apotheosis of truly great men, or of little men falsely called great, has been the origin of gross idolatrous errors in every part of the Pagan world.
              "ON THE GODS OF GREECE, ITALY, AND INDIA," p. 222

The chronicles of Mohi, the official historian, exemplify point by amt Jones's first source of mythology. The fact that Mohi, rather Akan Yoomy, narrates the traditional perversions of Mardian natural 'h may perhaps suggest that Melville is consciously maintainingi jmes's categories. Be that as it may, strict euhemerism forms the lager part of Jones's first category and an extremely large part of the t gage through Mardi. Indeed, by focusing narrowly on royal myths, me can perceive a careful structure and a consistent purpose in what otherwise may seem a chartless voyage.

After the royal entourage leaves Media's kingdom, the first four visits trace four stages of kinghood, from King Peepi the puny boy, In King Donjalolo the thin debauched youth, to King Uhia the vigmous muscular man who has forsaken debauchery, to fat jolly old Borabolla. The stages are chronological, physical, moral, and spiritual, and each stage but the last has an appropriate myth to support it. The myth of Peepi the boy king says that he inherits the souls of many of

26                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

his subjects; Borabolla, who has no myth, is also supposed to have no soul. The first three kings are victims of myths who victimize their subjects because of these myths; the last is a victim of no myth who victimizes his subjects because he has no myth. While Peepi's subjects live in terror of the boy with many souls, Borabolla's subjects die to support the gluttonous old man with no soul. Donjalolo the debauched youth and Uhia the reclaimed man rule entirely in terms of their myths. Donjalolo's myth tells him that, because of a legendary ancestral battle and vow, he can live only in the secluded glen at the heart of his kingdom. Uhia's myth tells him that when an island moves he will rule all of Mardi. A mythic legend from the past deceives one; a mythic prophecy deceives the other. Entirely because of these myths, Donjalolo retreats from the world, Uhia tries to conquer the world, Donjalolo abandons himself to his harem, Uhia disbands his harem, Donjalolo dissipates his manhood in ultrarefined pleasures, Uhia nurtures his manhood and eschews all pleasures, both envy the most miserable of their subjects, and both add to the misery of their subjects. The myths in which they have transcendental faith, like the myth of King Peepi and the divine Mardian avatars, are presented to us, most significantly, as part of the chronicles of Mohi, the chronicles which also include the Mardian Bible. Perhaps this Bible will prove not only as fallacious but also as dangerous as the other myths of Mardi.

Indeed, the slavery of these Mardian kings and their subjects to royal myth foreshadows the slavery of the priests, pilgrims, and people of Maramma to Biblical myth. The chronicles which support these kings are distinguished in no way from the chronicles which represent sacred writ in general and the Judaic-Christian Bible in particular. What the voyagers find on Maramma, the Holy Island, is merely an intensification of what they have found on the royal islands of Mardi.

There are numerous connections between the island kingdoms and the Holy Island -- such as the fat priest on Borabolla's island who seems to be "another Borabolla," the priest on Donjalolo's island who invests the king in his sacred girdle, the priests on Media's island

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       27

who torture the king's subjects for heresy, the priests on Uhia's island who present the spear of the god Keevi to persuade the most recalcitrant recusant. But none of these connections is as important as Mohi's chronicles, and Mohi's chronicles most rigidly connect the courts of Mardi to its churches. Mohi himself is introduced as "a venerable teller of stories and legends, one of the Keepers of the Chronicles of the Kings of Mardi." This designation of "Kings" includes all the gods of Mardi; Mohi gives the official story and legend not only of each demigod king, but of every Mardian god, including Alma. It is important to note that, although Mohi is an "historian," none of Mohi's stories gives unequivocated historical truth. When Mohi, "the teller of legends," is compared with particular historians, it is with Diodorus and Herodotus, whose pages abound in the fabulous, the mysterious, and the mythical. Mohi's history is fabulous and, because of his position, title, and role, official. Mohi tells first of King Peepi and a strange rock. In the course of his stories, he illustrates in detail Jones's first source of mythology, the perversion of human and natural history. When he describes the divinity and mythical powers of Peepi the boy king, he dramatizes quite literally what Jones called "the mad apotheosis of little men falsely called great." Jones had thus illustrated the perversion of natural truth: "beacons or volcanos became one-eyed giants, and monsters vomiting flames; and two rocks, from their appearance to mariners in certain positions, were supposed to crush all vessels attempting to pass between them." Mohi illustrates the perversion of natural truth with legends about a rock, which appears to mariners in certain positions as "the open, upper jaw of a whale." He tells how the water which drips from it cures ambition "because of its passing through the ashes of ten kings, of yore buried in a sepulcher, hewn in the heart of the rock." Mohi's last legend of the rock will prove worth remembering:

"Mohi," said Media, "methinks there is another tradition concerning that rock: let us have it."

"In old times of genii and giants, there dwelt in barren lands not very

28                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

remote from our outer reef, but since submerged, a band of evil-minded, envious goblins, furlongs in stature, and with immeasurable arms; who from time to time cast covetous glances upon our blooming isles. Long they lusted; till at last, they waded through the sea, strode over the reef, and seizing the nearest islet, rolled it over and over, toward an adjoining outlet.

'But the task was hard; and day-break surprised them in the midst of their audacious thieving; while in the very act of giving the devoted land another doughty surge and somerset. Leaving it bottom upward and midway poised, gardens under water, its foundations in air, they precipitately fled; in their great haste, deserting a comrade, vainly struggling to liberate his foot caught beneath the overturned land.

"This poor fellow now raised such an outcry, as to awaken the god Upi, or the Archer, stretched out on a long cloud in the East; who forthwith resolved to make an example of the unwilling lingerer. Snatching his bow, he let fly an arrow. But overshooting its mark, it pierced through and through, the lofty promontory of a neighbouring island; making an arch in it, which remaineth even unto this day. A second arrow, however, accomplishing its errand: the slain giant sinking prone to the bottom."

"And now," added Mohi, "glance over the gunwale, and you will see his remains petrified into white ribs of coral."

"Ay, there they are," said Yoomy, looking down into the water where they gleamed. "A fanciful legend, Braid-Beard."

Very entertaining," said Media.   (1, 248-49)

Mohi next gives the legend to which King Donjalolo and his subjects are enslaved. The narrator introduces this recital by saying, "Braid-Beard unrolled his old chronicles" and "regaled us with the history." Thus this legend, like the "very entertaining" legend which immediately preceded it, may be only entertainment to the travelers. But the "sacred oracle" of the legend, propagated by priests, imprisons King Donjalolo in a rocky glen and leaves his subjects to be ruled by irresponsible and cruel viceroys. Babbalanja asks the all-important question to which there is no answer: "Is it a fable, or a verity...?" In the same paragraph, Babbalanja comments on another legend from Mohi's chronicles: "Touching the life of Alma, in Mohi's chronicles, 'tis related, that a man was once raised from the tomb. But rubbed he not his eyes, and stared he not most vacantly? Not one revelation did he make." Is, then, the raising of Lazarus like the legend of Donjalolo in more ways than that of being known only

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       29

from Mohi's equivocal chronicles? After Mohi's next legends about Donjalolo's island, the narrator remarks, "traditions like these ever soon dubious."

Before landing on the Holy Island of Maramma, Mohi tells not only myths of three demigod kings (Peepi, Donjalolo, and Uhia), but also myths of three gods -- Vivo, Keevi, and Roo. He describes the ascent of the god Vivo and the descents of the gods Keevi and Roo. The myth of each of these gods reduces elements of Alma's myth to absurdity:

Approached from the northward, Ohonoo, midway cloven down to the sea, one half a level plain; the other, three mountain terraces -- Ohonoo looks like the first steps of a gigantic way to the sun. And such, if Braid-Beard spoke truth, it had formerly been.

"Ere Mardi was made," said that true old chronicler, "Vivo, one of the genii, built a ladder of mountains whereby to go up and go down. And of this ladder, the island of Ohonoo was the base. But wandering here and there, incognito in a vapor, so much wickedness did Vivo spy out, that in high dudgeon he hurried up his ladder, knocking the mountains from under him as he went. These here and there fell into the lagoon, forming many isles, now green and luxuriant; which, with those sprouting from seeds dropped by a bird from the moon, comprise all the groups in the reef." (I, 314)

One object of interest in Ohonoo was the original image of Keevi the god of Thieves; hence, from time immemorial, the tutelar deity of the isle.

His shrine was a natural niche in a cliff, walling in the valley of Monlova. And here stood Keevi, with his five eyes, ten hands, and three pair of legs, equipped at all points for the vocation over which he presided. Of mighty girth, his arms terminated in hands, every finger a limb, spreading in multiplied digits: palms twice five, and fifty fingers.

According to the legend, Keevi fell from a golden cloud, burying himself to the thighs in the earth, tearing up the soil all round. Three meditative mortals, strolling by at the time, had a narrow escape. (I, 319)

Mohi's account of Keevi's absurd descent precedes by a few pages his account of another absurd descent linked more directly to Alma:

"It was by this same peak," said Mohi, "that the nimble god Roo, a great sinner above, came down from the skies, a very long time ago. Three skips and a jump, and he landed on the plain. But alas, poor Roo! though easy the descent, there was no climbing back." (II, 9)

30                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

According to Ellis, Roo was one of "the most benevolent" Polynesian gods. Melville plays on Roo's name, likening him to a kangaroo, calls him a great sinner, and, six paragraphs later, identifies the mountain of his descent with the legendary mount of Alma's ascent. Alma, who both descends and ascends, links Vivo, Keevi, and Roo into the mythological chain of Maramma. They in turn make equivocally absurd the scripture which tells the Mardians of Alma.

Mohi's chronicles include the Old Testament as well as the New. The allegory occasionally thins sufficiently for explicit citations:

"However that may be," said Mohi, "certain it is, those events did assuredly come to pass: -- Compare the ruins of Babbelona with book ninth, chapter tenth, of the chronicles. Yea, yea, the owl inhabits where the seers predicted; the jackals yell in the tombs of the kings." (II, 125)

Some contemporary research had found the ruins prophesied in Isaiah 13:21 and 34:13 and Jeremiah 50:39. But other contemporary research had made more important parts of Mohi's scripture clearly mythical.

Babbalanja vows that Nature, Oro's [*] book, "gives the grim lie to Mohi's gossipings." He bases his vow on the latest geological theories, which he then recounts at length. To these theories, Media blandly responds: "Mohi tells us that Mardi was made in six days; but you, Babbalanj a, have built it up from the bottom in less than six minutes." The quarrel between Babbalanja's scientific truth and Mohi's chronicled truth, in a world apparently without knowable truth, places both the cosmology of the Old Testament and the Saviour of the New beyond human knowledge.

In a world filled with similar gods, Babbalanja and Mohi must wage their disputes about Alma in the absurd context of Vivo's ascent and the descents of Keevi and Roo:

"But, my lord, you well know, that there are those in Mardi, who secretly regard all stories connected with this peak, as inventions of the people of Maramma. They deny that any thing is to be gained by making

* Melville makes Oro, the name of the great Polynesian god, the Mardian equivalent of the Judaic-Christian "God."

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       31

a pigrimage thereto. And for warranty, they appeal to the sayings of the great prophet Alma."

Cried Mohi, "But Alma is also quoted by others, in vindication of the pilgrimage to Ofo. They declare that the prophet himself was the or pilgrim that thitherward journeyed: that from thence he departed to the skies." (II, 10)

Without divine revelation, all scripture becomes myth. By 1849 it had become clear that the Judaic-Christian scripture was not entirely literal revelation.

Although all these legends come before we learn that Brami, Manko, and Alma are avatars, they come after we have learned of another deity who descended like Keevi, who voyaged from the sun like Vivo, and who, like Brami, Manko, and Alma, is an "Avatar" -- "white Taji, a sort of half-and-half deity, now and then an Avatar among them;" "a gentleman from the sun." Taji, the narrator of Mardi and an auditor of Mohi's stories, produces Jones's second kind of myth. But since he himself is also the product -- an astronomical demigod -- he can be considered more profitably with the other products. Another of the questors produces Jones's third kind of myth.


III. Numberless divinities have been created solely by the magick of poetry, whose essential business it is to personify the most abstract notions, and to place a Nymph or a Genius in every grove, and almost in every flower.
                  "ON THE GODS OF GREECE, ITALY, AND INDIA," p. 223

Jones sharply distinguishes between myths created by poetry and myths created by versified history, dividing them between two of his four categories. Melville divides the two sources of these myths along precisely the same lines, but he then shows these lines to be equivocal. The legends of Yoomy the poet are often indistinguishable from Mohi's official legends. Yoomy's legends obviously come from the fancy and obviously are meant to entertain; but many of Mohi's legends are just as fanciful and entertaining. The relation between Yoomy and Mohi, between poetic and historical mythology, between,

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indeed, Mardian poetry and Mardian history, is made most clear in Chapter 93, "Babbalanja Steps in Between Mohi and Yoomy; and Yoomy Relates a Legend." This chapter immediately follows the chapter in which Mohi recites the legends of Keevi descending from a golden cloud and of the souls of fifty warriors ascending from a "fatal leap," and it begins with Mohi ready to relate another legend. With Mohi about to turn over his chronicles, Yoomy interposes to ask that he be permitted to narrate. Mohi, "highly offended," mutters "something invidious about frippery young poetasters being too full of silly imaginings to tell a plain tale." Yoomy's answer is the age-old answer, familiar in English since Sidney's Defense of Poesy:

Said Yoomy, in reply, adjusting his turban, "Old Mohi, let us not clash. I honor your calling; but, with submission, your chronicles are more wild than my cantos. I deal in pure conceits of my own; which have a shapeliness and a unity, however unsubstantial; but you, Braid-Beard, deal in mangled realities. In all your chapters, you yourself grope in the dark. Much truth is not in thee, historian. Besides, Mohi; my songs perpetuate many things which you sage scribes entirely overlook. Have you not oftentimes come to me, and my ever dewy ballads for information, in which you and your musty old chronicles were deficient? In much that is precious, Mohi, we poets are the true historians; we embalm; you corrode." (I, 372-23)

In another context, this answer might be no more than a well-stated commonplace. But here it is a dead end, not the end sought, of a long and involved epistemological quest. Babbalanj a the philosopher attacks both the poet and the historian: "Peace, rivals. As Bardianna has it, like all who dispute upon pretensions of their own, you are each nearest the right, when you speak of the other; and furthest therefrom, when you speak of yourselves."

Jones had said that part of the "essential business" of poetry was "to place a Nymph or Genius in every grove, and almost in every flower." Yoomy's legend betters Jones's description by placing a manikin or nymph in every flower, and making manikins and nymphs grow into vines and flowers. Yoomy's "little nymphs" not only "haunted the lilies," but also "toiled all night long at braiding

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       33

the moonbeams together, and entangling the plaited end to a bough; so that at night, the poor planet had much ado to set." When Mohi interposes to ask, "Pause you to invent as you go on?" Yoomy responds by parodying Mohi's usual language: "Little or nothing more, my masters, is extant of the legend." After Yoomy adds a few more whimsical details, the argument of philosopher, poet, and historian resumes:

"Now, I appeal to you, royal Media; to you, noble Taji; to you, Babbalanja," said the chronicler, with an impressive gesture, "whether this seems a credible history: Yoomy has invented."

"But perhaps he has entertained, old Mohi," said Babbalanja. "He has not spoken the truth," persisted the chronicler.

"Mohi," said Babbalanja, "truth is in things, and not in words: truth is voiceless; so at least saith old Bardianna. And I, Babbalanja, assert, that what are vulgarly called fictions are as much realities as the gross mattock of Dididi, the digger of trenches; for things visible are but conceits of the eye: things imaginative, conceits of the fancy. If duped by one, we are equally duped by the other." (I, 326)

Babbalanja decides that the poetic legend of Yoomy's nymphs and manikins has no more nor less of reality than, say, Mohi's legend of a goblin slain by the god Upi, though verified by Mohi's pointing to "his remains petrified into white ribs of coral." Mohi reasonably turns on Babbalanja: "But come now, thou oracle, if all things are deceptive, tell us what is truth?" Although, as Babbalanja promptly admits, "that question is more final than any answer," Babbalanja himself has some tentative answers.


IV. The metaphors and allegories of moralists and metaphysicians, have been also very fertile in deities; of which a thousand examples might be adduced from Plato, Cicero, and the inventive commentators on Homer, in their pedigrees of the Gods, and their fabulous lessons of morality.
                "ON THE GODS OF GREECE, ITALY, AND INDIA," p. 223

As mythologizer, Babbalanja the philosopher has much in common with both Mohi the historian and Yoomy the poet. Babbalanja

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tends to align and identify himself with Yoomy; he too is a "poet," a propounder of conceits of the fancy rather than conceits of the eye:

"Yoomy: poets both, we differ but in seeming; thy airiest conceits are as the shadows of my deepest ponderings; though Yoomy soars, and Babbalanja dives, both meet at last. Not a song you sing, but I have thought its thoughts; and where dull Mardi sees but your rose, I unfold its petals, and disclose a pearl. Poets are we, Yoomy, in that we dwell without us; we live in grottoes, palms, and brooks; we ride the sea, we ride the sky; poets are omnipresent." (II, 139)

But Babbalanja is also interested in Mohi's legends, finding in them metaphors and allegories for his metaphysics.

Babbalanja is expected to object to Mohi's "silly conceit," his legend of the Plujii, little demons who cause all the minor annoyances on Quelquo. As "arrant little knaves as ever gulped moonshine," the Plujii seem quite as fanciful as Yoomy's manikins and moonbeam-weaving nymphs. But Babbalanja instead shows in detail to what use moralists and metaphysicians may put such legendary conceits:

"I have been thinking, my lord," said Babbalanja, "that though the people of that island may at times err, in imputing their calamities to the Plujii; that, nevertheless, upon the whole, they indulge in a reasonable belief. For, Plujii or no Plujii, it is undeniable, that in ten thousand ways, as if by a malicious agency, we mortals are woefully put out and tormented; and that, too, by things in themselves so exceedingly trivial, that it would seem almost impiety to ascribe them to the august gods. No; there must exist some greatly inferior spirits; so insignificant, comparatively, as to be overlooked by the supernal powers; and through them it must be, that we are thus grievously annoyed. At any rate, such a theory would supply a hiatus in my system of metaphysics." (I, 306)

Here Babbalanja uses only the subjunctive "would supply." But soon he is demonstrating just how materially a legend may supply a metaphysical hiatus. Babbalanja's transmutation of the legend of the Plujii takes two steps beyond Mohi's narrative. The first is the construction and proof of a mythical theory in Chapter 104, "Wherein Babbalanja Broaches a Diabolical Theory, and in His Own Person Proves it." The second is the creation of Azzageddi, a real devil who, at least metaphorically and allegorically, possesses Babbalanja.

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       35

The Plujii were described in the same language and present the same moral and metaphysical problems as the devils later invented and embodied by Babbalanja. The Plujii apparently sprang from the fancies of the people of Quelquo and from their wish to be irresponsible: "In short, from whatever evil, the cause of which the Islanders could not directly impute to their gods, or in their own opinion was not referable to themselves, -- of that very thing must the invisible Plujii be guilty.... All things they bedeviled." Media, sensing the dangers of this myth of moral irresponsibility, deflated it with hard "facts." After Mohi had described an old lady being abdominally tormented by the Plujii, Media said that he had seen her eat twenty unripe bananas just before these torments.

Babbalanja propounds his diabolical theory also to absolve man from responsibility, and Media reacts as he did to Mohi's myth. The Plujii bedeviled all things; Babbalanja claims that "all men who knowingly do evil are bedeviled." Media threw the hard facts of twenty unripe bananas at Mohi's myth of irresponsibility; he throws ropes and gags at Babbalanja's myth of irresponsibility, roping the devil in him and gagging his devilish doctrine. But shortly the company of questors receives its third allegedly supernatural being, the mythical and invisible devil Azzageddi, who apparently possesses Babbalanja. When released from his ropes and gag, Babbalanja had said, "the strong arm, my lord, is no argument, though it overcomes all logic." Now Azzageddi, though no argument, overcomes the strong arm. He appears, taunts Media with impunity, and is pushed back down by Babbalanja only when the philosopher wishes to assume responsibility for the words coming from his mouth.

The historian, the poet, and the philosopher -- each produces myths. Only the different purposes of the historical, poetic, and philosophic myths distinguish them from one another. When Mohi's official myths are not obviously propping up royal or ecclesiastical pretensions, they are hard to distinguish from Yoomy's myths, aimed at entertainment and poetic truth. Poetic truth shades off into philosophic truth, which also can take mythical form, whether filling metaphysical gaps, illustrating abstractions, or protecting the philosopher.

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Historical and philosophic myths may be "poetic"; the poet and the philosopher may use historical myths. Although all their myths are most equivocal, each branch of the Mardian mythology creates verbal realities which may materially affect the Mardian world.

As the Mardian mythologists define the myths of Mardi, they sit in a boat with Media the royal demigod and Taji the astronomical demigod, they hunt Yillah the idol of man, and they end the hunt with the god Alma. These four worshiped beings -- Media, Taji, Yillah, and Alma -- incarnate the major myths of Mardi: the State, the Cosmic Role, Romance, and the Church. The true nature of these myths is the subject of Mardi.


It was not long after 1848; and, somehow, about that time, all round the world, these kings, they had the casting vote, and voted for themselves.
              "THE PIAZZA" (1856)

On the map that charts the spheres, Mardi is marked "the World of Kings."
              MARDI (1849)

When the first four Mardian visits reveal four stages of kinghood, they indicate that one of the main objects of the search will be to discover what a king is. From the time that Media says, "I myself am interested in this pursuit," until he renounces both his assumed role and the search itself, the changing definition of King Media forms much of the structure of the voyage. Media's progress is an apparent decline which is really a rise, from sitting as a living idol in his own temple in his own kingdom to kneeling on a strange island in order to renounce his demigodship and invoke the blessings of Alma, the "prince divine." From the beginning of the apparent fall, there are hints of the reality behind the appearance. Media's apparent height is the pedestal in his temple; here beside the idol of Media the royal demigod and Taji the astronomical demigod is the idol of a third demigod -- a deified maker of plantain pudding. In Media's "endless pedigree," he reckons "deities by decimals." Before they

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       37

part, Taji says that they in "due time met with several decayed, broken down demigods: magnificos of no mark in Mardi." Many of jokes throughout the voyage (particularly recurrent ones, such as the fear of death betrayed by "immortal" demigods) reduce euhemerism to an absurdity.

But euhemerism in Mardi is much more than an absurdity. As we have seen, several of the Mardian kings, themselves enslaved, subject their people to the most extravagant and destructive myths; by use of myths, these kings attain and maintain their supreme earthly power:

These demi-gods had wherewithal to sustain their lofty pretensions. If need were, could crush out of him the infidelity of a non-conformist. And by this immaculate union of church and state, god and king, in their own proper persons reigned supreme Caesars over the souls and bodies of their subjects. (I, 207)

As a result, the Mardians often "addressed the supreme god Oro, in the very same terms employed in the political adoration of their sublunary rulers." Media is no exception to the rule of Mardian kings; in his kingdom men "shrieked" for denying his divinity: "There, men were scourged; their crime, a heresy; the heresy, that Media was no demigod." Only after Media encounters real divinity does he vow that these groans will no longer be heard in the groves of his kingdom. By this time, however, a revolution has taken the matter out of his hands.

The voyage through Mardi reveals kings on several levels of alleand on each level is written the mene, mene, tekel, upharsin of all kings. Each kind of allegorical tour ends with the hint or fact of revolution. The revolution against Media comes at the end of the voyage and brings it full circle. Although the outcome of this revolution remains in doubt, Media's name suggests what it will be: the historical empire of Media was submerged when its last king was dethroned by a revolution.

Even before the voyage starts, while Media is basking in the full glories of his state, his name and role hint of the voyage's end. After he has donned his divinity, crowned in "the primitive Eastern style,"

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and looking "very much like a god," Media evokes in Taji's mind the first tour of kings, which foreshadows in detail the allegorical tours of the Mardian voyage. It takes place in the chapter entitled, most significantly (see Daniel 5:28), "Belshazzar on the Bench":

A king on his throne! Ah, believe me, ye Gracchi, ye Acephali, ye Levelers, it is something worth seeing, be sure; whether beheld at Babylon the Tremendous, when Nebuchadnezzar was crowned; at old Scone in the days of Macbeth; at Rheims, among Oriflammes, at the coronation of Louis le Grand; at Westminster Abbey, when the gentlemanly George doffed his beaver for a diadem; or under the soft shade of palm trees on an isle in the sea.

Man lording it over man, man kneeling to man, is a spectacle that Gabriel might well travel hitherward to behold; for never did he behold it in heaven. But Darius giving laws to the Medes and the Persians, or the conqueror of Bactria with king-cattle yoked to his car, was not a whit more sublime, than Beau Brummel magnificently ringing for his valet.

A king on his throne! It is Jupiter nodding in the councils of Olympus; Satan, seen among the coronets in Hell.

A king on his throne! It is the sun over a mountain; the sun over law-giving Sinai; the sun in our system: planets, duke-like, dancing attendance, and baronial satellites in waiting. (I, 216)

From Nebuchadnezzar and Macbeth to Jupiter and Satan and thence to the sun is a long way, and a way that suggests what the forthcoming allegorical tours will find.

These tours begin with generalized allegorical kings, pass on to thinly allegorized nineteenth-century political forces and figures, and end by focusing again on King Media. The kings found on each tour range one behind another, each shadowing forth another's most prominent features. Upon King Ludwig (of France) and King Bello (of England) are thrown the shadows of King Piko and King Hello, who prune their excess subjects with murderous games, and of Kings Peepi, Donj alolo, Uhia, and Borabolla, who chain their subjects to destructive myths; upon them all are thrown the shadows of Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, of Louis le Grand and gentlemanly George, of Jupiter and of Satan. And all these shadows pin down Media when, drunk, he reveals that "Peace is War to all kings." The destructive

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power of all these kings derives, in the words of Sir William Jones, from "historical or natural truth [that] has been perverted into fable by ignorance, imagination, flattery, or stupidity."

The king of all these Mardian kings is Hivohitee, Alma's supreme earthly priest, who "lived and reigned, in mystery, the High Pontiff of the adjoining isles: prince, priest, and god, in his own proper person: great lord paramount over many kings in Mardi; his hands full of sceptres and crosiers." When Hivohitee reveals that the mystery through which he reigns is founded upon "nothing," he reveals that the greatest as well as the least king of Mardi is a mythical fraud. The royal demigods of Mardi are as fraudulent as Taji, the demigod who comes to Mardi by way of the sun, in reality a runaway sailor who steps out of a stolen whaleboat.


II. The next source of them [myths] appears to have been a wild admiration of the heavenly bodies, and, after a time, the systems and calculations of astronomers; hence came a considerable portion of Egyptian and Grecian fable; the Sabian worship in Arabia; the Persian types and emblems of Mihr, or the Sun; and the far extended adoration of the elements and the powers of nature; and hence, perhaps, all the artificial Chronology of the Chinese and Indians, with the invention of demi-gods and heroes to fill the vacant niches in their extravagant and imaginary periods.
                "ON THE GODS OF GREECE, ITALY, AND INDIA," p. 222

As Merrell Davis has demonstrated, the conception of the sea as space, islands as stars, and the Mardian archipelago as a constellation in the Milky Way was central to the genesis of Mardi. [8] The narrator's astronomical role is defined even before he quits "the firmament blue of the open sea," lands on "some new constellation," and proclaims himself an astronomical demigod. He is the perpetual westward voyager who breaks from the Arcturion when it veers north, who steers perpetually by Arcturus, who thinks the Arcturion may "illustrate the Whistonian theory concerning the damned and the comets."

After he lands on the Mardian constellation, he claims that he

8. See Melville's "Mardi": A Chartless Voyage (New Haven, Conn., 1952), pp. 67-70.

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came from the sun. Later (II, 271), after envisioning the Mardian isles as clusters of stars, he thinks of himself as a miniature counterpart of the sun: "And, as the sun, by influence divine, wheels through the Ecliptic; threading Cancer, Leo, Pisces, and Aquarius; so, by some mystic impulse am I moved, to this fleet progress, through the groups in white-reefed Mardi's zone." As Taji, he pursues Yillah, "a seraph from the sun" who first instilled in his mind and in the minds of the Mardians the notion that he is a demigod. Taji and Yillah are pursued by the moonlike Hautia, who "glided on: her crescent brow calm as the moon, when most it works its evil influences." A "thousand constellations" cluster about Hautia, who "burned" as a "Glorious queen! with all the radiance, lighting up the equatorial night"; "all space reflects her as a mirror." In some sort of allegorical or metaphorical sense, Taji is a comet, Yillah a sun, and Hautia a moon.

Such curious identities would not be strangers to the comparative mythology of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, in which mythology was habitually related to astronomy. Before the close of the eighteenth century, many skeptics and mystics had reduced all mythology to fictionalized astronomy. The astronomical identifications of Taji, Yillah, and Hautia, although almost frivolous, help to order the structure of Mardi. When they are defined as comet, sun, and moon, Taji, Yillah, and Hautia take their places in the mythology of Mardi. It is mere myth which gives them cosmic roles.

But Taji is a comet in another sense, and his voyages dramatize a particular kind of comet, a Whistonian comet. In the first of Mardi's one hundred ninety-five chapters, the narrator learns that the Arcturion is about to head from the equator to the pole. He then makes what proves to be a most important suggestion: "We were going, it seemed, to illustrate the Whistonian theory concerning the damned and the comets: -- hurried from equinoctial heats to arctic frosts." The source of this suggestion shows what it means in detail:

I observe, that the Sacred Accounts of Hell, or of the Place and State of Punishment for wicked Men after the general Resurrection, is agreeable not only to the Remains of ancient profane Tradition, but to the true

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       41

System of the World also. This sad State is in Scripture describ'd as a State of Darkness, of outward Darkness, of blackness of Darkness, of Torment and Punishment for Ages, or for Ages of Ages, by Flame, or by Fire, or by Fire and Brimstone, with Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth; where the Smoak of the Ungodly's Torment ascends up for ever and ever; where they are Tormented in the Presence of the Holy Angels, and in the Presence of the Lamb; when the Holy Angels shall have separated the Wicked from among the Just, and have cast them into a Furnace of Fire. Now this Description does in every Circumstance, so exactly agree with the Nature of a Comet, ascending from the Hot Regions near the Sun, and going into the Cold Regions beyond Saturn, with its long smoaking Tail arising up from it, through its several Ages or Periods of revolving, and this in the Sight of all the Inhabitants of our Air, and of the rest of the System; that I cannot but think the Surface or Atmosphere of such a Comet to be that Place of Torment so terribly described in Scripture. [9]

Long before the narrator meets Yillah and conceives of passing himself off as a demigod, he is regarded more than once as a supernatural being, as, to be specific, a ghost or goblin. When, at the very end, he claims to be the "spirit's phantom's phantom" of Taji and renounces this "life of dying," he pulls together fragments of a structure that are scattered through the book. The narrator is in fact a Whistonian damned soul, at least to the extent that he is a Whistonian comet. His damnation consists of repeating over and over again an act of moral abdication and being regarded, after each abdication, as a supernatural being. In the first chapter, with something like tragic irony, the narrator brashly proclaims "were I placed in the same situation again, I would repeat the thing I did then."

His first abdication is his midnight leap from the Arcturion, "an undertaking which apparently savored of a moral dereliction." Immediately, this abdication makes him feel as though he were a ghost: "For the consciousness of being deemed dead, is next to the presumable unpleasantness of being so in reality. One feels like his own ghost unlawfully tenanting a defunct carcass." As the first illustration of the Whistonian theory, Jarl and the narrator become like lost souls: "What a mere toy we were to the billows, that jeeringly shouldered us from crest to crest, as from hand to hand lost souls may

9. William Whiston, Astronomical Principles of Religion (London, 1725), PP• 155-56.

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be tossed along by the chain of shades which enfilade the route to Tartarus." Soon "the sun and the Chamois seemed all that was left of life in the universe;" "All became vague and confused; so that westward of the Kingsmill isles and the Radack chain, I fancied there could be naught but an endless sea." Beyond Mardi the narrator will indeed find "an endless sea;" for these very words appear again as the last words of the book.

At this point the narrator not only anticipates his fate but actually experiences it. The mere toy of a boat drifts into a calm, and it seems that the two lost souls have entered the unformed chaos on the edge of the universe:

... the two gray firmaments of sky and water seemed collapsed into a vague ellipsis. And alike, the Chamois seemed drifting in the atmosphere as in the sea. Every thing was fused into the calm: sky, air, water, and all. Not a fish was to be seen. The silence was that of a vacuum. No vitality lurked in the air. And this inert blending and brooding of all things seemed gray chaos in conception. (I, 64)

This is the very region to which the narrator, just after his "desire to quit the Arcturion became little short of a frenzy," thought the captain had brought him: "The ignoramus must have lost his way, and drifted into the outer confines of creation, the region of the everlasting lull, introductory to a positive vacuity." At that early point the narrator's musings had been prophetic: "Thoughts of eternity thicken. He begins to feel anxious concerning his soul."

When they board the Parki, Jarl thinks the ship "purely phantomlike," "a shade of a ship, full of sailors' ghosts" which soon "would dissolve in a supernatural squall," and his "superstitions" are partly borne out when the Parki dissolves in a natural squall. His feelings are matched by those of the two survivors of the Parki's crew, Samoa and his mate Annatoo: "For their wild superstitions led them to conclude, that a white man's craft coming upon them so suddenly, upon the open sea, and by night, could be naught but a phantom. Furthermore... they fancied us the ghosts of the Cholos." The "Cholos" were the two half-breed pirates who had led the attack on the Parki and who had been killed by Samoa. The mistaking of Jarl

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       43

and the narrator for their avenging ghosts foreshadows the spectral avengers who later haunt the allegorical voyage through Mardi. Samoa and Annatoo next think that Jarl and the narrator are "goblins," which is exactly what Jarl had thought them. Jarl and the narrator had behaved so strangely that they "almost led Samoa to fancy that we were no shades, after all, but a couple of men from the moon." On the other hand, Jarl "to the last" "stoutly maintained that the hobgoblins must have had something or other to do with the Parki," and later the narrator finds that his "suspicions" concerning Samoa's story "returned." In an odd anticipation of the devils which possess Babbalanja and the people of Quelquo, Annatoo is "possessed by some scores of devils." The narrator's moral abdication on the Parki is a mere peccadillo, the fraudulent seizing of the ship's command to further his personal quest. When the Parki goes down in a squall and Annatoo is swept into the sea, Samoa, Jarl, and the narrator take to the Chamois. They soon discover that they look to each other as Jarl and the narrator had looked just after abandoning the Arcturion: "a cadaverous gleam" from the sea makes them look "to each other like ghosts."

The narrator attains his next supernatural identity after his most heinous moral abdication, the murder of the priest Aleema. He persuades Yillah, the maiden he has seized from Aleema, "to fancy me some gentle demi-god, that had come over the sea." Yillah becomes an "idol" for the narrator, and Jarl prophetically thinks her "an Ammonite syren, who might lead me astray." In the chapter entitled "The Dream Begins to Fade," the narrator finds that his sexual love of his idol is dissipating his own divinity. "Love" in turn induces him "to prop my failing divinity; though it was I myself who had undermined it": "in the sight of Yillah, I perceived myself thus dwarfing down to a mortal." Meanwhile both Yillah and Jarl think of Samoa as a "goblin," while, significantly like the narrator, Samoa also makes Yillah an "idol." Thus as the Chamois draws near Mardi, its occupants include beings who at one time or another have been considered goblins, ghosts, phantoms, wandering shades, a demigod, and a goddess.

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The narrator's penultimate abdication comes when he makes his grandest claim, assuming the astronomical half of the Whistoniantheory. On the Arcturion the narrator had talked to the clouds and developed a "fellow-feeling for the sun." After leaving the Arcturion, he had become a "fellow-voyager" of the sun. When he lands on Mardi, he proclaims himself a demigod from the sun: "Men of Mardi,I come from the sun. When this morning it rose and touched the wave, I pushed my shallop from its golden beach, and hither sailed before its level rays. I am Taji."

This penultimate abdication is his penultimate allegorical death, and it signalizes his death as the most important being in Mardi. From this point on, ironically and appropriately the Mardians become far more important than the narrator. "Taji" as a Mardian conceptionbecomes more significant than the player of Taji. The three mythologists and their king make Taji's quest their own. Although theyfinally all disassociate themselves from his quest, realizing that Yillah is but a phantom,they follow until then what they believe to be"white Taji, a sort of half-and-half deity, now and then an Avatar," to the brink of doom. Taji's own quest for Yillah continues afterthey forsake him, and it ends as it began, with an abdication:

"Now, I am my own soul's emperor; and my first act is abdication! Hail! realm of shades!" -- and turning my prow into the racing tide, which seized me like a hand omnipotent, I darted through.

Churned in foam, that outer ocean lashed the clouds; and straight in my white wake, headlong dashed a shallop, three fixed specters leaning o'er its prow: three arrows poising.

And thus, pursuers and pursued flew on, over an endless sea.

Before this abdication he has reduced himself to "the spirit's phantom's phantom" of Taji. His soul has completed its hellish orbit, earlier described: "Thus deeper and deeper into Time's endless tunnel, does the winged soul, like a night-hawk, wend her wild way; and finds eternities before and behind; and her last limit is her everlasting beginning." "Behind and before" are not only eternities, but ever, as in the chapter of that title, the pursuers and the pursued.

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       45


As a comet and as a damned soul, the narrator passes through world after world on his circular orbit from the Arcturion to the Chamois and Parki to Odo to Serenia and back to the endless sea beyond Mardi. Yillah is worshiped and sought by inhabitants of each of the worlds in Mardi. From the Arcturion and the Parki come the narrator and Samoa, who slay the Polynesian priest carrying Yillah to the sacrificial rites. Yillah then becomes the idol of the Chamois, worshiped both by the narrator and by Samoa, "master of Gog and Magog, expounder of all things heathenish and obscure." When the Chamois is beached on Mardi, Yillah becomes a goddess of the Mardians. After she disappears, four symbolic questors come from the allegorical worlds of history, poetry, philosophy, and government to join the narrator's search for her.

Yillah may be, as she has been variously defined, Truth or Happiness or the Absolute or simply the eternal Lure. But whatever else, she is what Babbalanja tells Taji she is, "a phantom that but mocks thee." She is to Taji, Media, Babbalanja, Mohi, and Yoomy what the Chamois is to the fish that follow it singing "we care not what is it, this life / that we follow, this phantom unknown." Yillah's history is significant only in so far as the characters misconstrue it, fashioning it into a myth to shape their own quest.

Yillah herself has been wrought upon by the priests whose "pupils almost lose their humanity in the constant indulgence of seraphic imaginings." "Enshrined as a goddess" by the priest of Amma, she is easily passed off by Taji, the new priest who has murdered the old, as a "seraph from the sun." The narrator at first admits that he "might have been tranced into a belief of her mystical legends." Later, he acts as though they were true, rejecting her true and mundane history as coming "too late, too late." Their sexual relations tend toward the "extinguishment of her own spirituality," but when she lands on Mardi she retains enough so that "the adoration of the maiden was extended to myself."

46                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

As the search for Yillah continues, philosophy and history have less and less to say about her, and poetry becomes her interpreter. Yoomy begins the search confident that "Yillah will yet be found." His hopes become dimmer and dimmer as his descriptions of Yillah become increasingly enlightened. Toward the end of the quest, he uses the same language to describe Yillah that Taji had used before her disappearance. Taji and Yoomy, using the commonplace romantic hyperbole, equate a romantic idol with the sun. Taji tells how "my Yillah did daily dawn, how she lit up the world"; Yoomy tells how "Yillah now rises and flashes! / Rays shooting from out her long lashes," and how she makes "All the buds blossom" and "leaves turn round." But Taji's and Yoomy's conceit is something more than a hyperbolic cliche. Yillah is the sun in a very real, if only metaphoric and allegoric, sense. She is a false sun, whose pursuit leads to destruction and damnation.

The narrator as Whistonian comet crosses paths first with Yillah, who seems to be the sun, and then with Hautia, who seems to be the moon. Both Yillah and Hautia prove to be Whistonian meteors, "Mock-Suns... resembling the Moon or Sun for a while." [10] Yillah, as a mock sun, is the phantom that but mocks Taji; Hautia, addressed by Taji as the moon, is merely a "meteor." Mardi's astronomical mythology consummates in the true Sun.


Until they reach Serenia, the five questors maintain their mythological roles. Mohi's historical mythology, Yoomy's poetical mythology, and Babbalanj a's philosophical mythology provide the background and chorus for Taji the astronomical pseudo-avatar, Media the euhemerized king, and Alma the institutionalized myth of Mardi. But the true Alma of Serenia shatters these roles. The psychological and moral truth of Alma, experienced in Serenia, makes impertinent the historical, philosophical, and poetic truth of all myths, including the official myth of Alma.

Babbalanja is the first to recognize the true sun in "great Oro and his sovereign son": "'Oh, Alma, Alma! prince divine!' cried Babbalanja,

10. An Account of a Surprising Meteor etc. (London, 1716), p. 63.

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       47

sinking on his knees, -- 'in thee, at last, I find repose. Hope perches in my heart a dove; -- a thousand rays illume; -- all Heaven's a sun. Gone, gone! are all distracting doubts. Love and Alma now prevail.'" Babbalanja's conversion breaks the demigods' leadership and for all except Taji ends the quest. All now follow Babbalanja's leadership but Taji, Alma's rival avatar, who pursues his destructive chase of Alma's rival absolute -- Yillah, a false sun.

For the others, the true sun puts out all false suns. Yoomy sees the summer's dependence not on Yillah but on Alma: "In Alma all my dreams are found, my inner longings for the Love supreme, that prompts my every verse. Summer is in my soul;" Mohi cries out, "I see bright light;" Media renounces his divinity and cries, "Alma, I am thine." When "king, sage, gray hairs, and youth" all kneel, they are bathed in the light of the true sun: "There, as they kneeled, and as the old man blessed them, the setting sun burst forth from mists, gilded the island round about, shed rays upon their heads, and went down in a glory -- all the East radiant with red burnings, like an altar-fire." The sunset and the night that follows consummate the astronomical images of Mardi.

The astronomical level of action received its first extended definition in the first few pages of Mardi, where one passage can now be seen as central to the book's astronomical rhetoric and astronomical conceits. Mardi dramatizes, clause by clause, the strange rhetoric and fantastic conceits of this passage:

King Noah, God bless him! fathered us all. Then hold up your heads, oh ye Helots, blood potential flows through your veins. All of us have monarchs and sages for kinsmen; nay, angels and archangels for cousins; since in antediluvian days, the sons of God did verily wed with our mothers, the irresistible daughters of Eve. Thus all generations are blended: and heaven and earth of one kin: the hierarchies of seraphs in the uttermost skies; the thrones and principalities in the zodiac; the shades that roam throughout space; the nations and families, flocks and folds of the earth; one and all, brothers in essence -- oh, be we then brothers indeed! All things form but one whole; the universe a Judea, and God Jehovah its head. Then no more let us start with affright. In a theocracy, what is to fear? Let us compose ourselves to death as fagged horsemen

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sleep in the saddle. Let us welcome even ghosts when they rise. Away with our stares and grimaces. The New Zealander's tattooing is not a prodigy; nor the Chinaman's ways an enigma. No custom is strange; no creed is absurd; no foe, but who will in the end prove a friend. In heaven, at last, our good, old, white-haired father Adam will greet all alike, and sociality forever prevail. Christian shall join hands between Gentile and Jew; grim Dante forget his Infernos, and shake sides with fat Rabelais; and monk Luther, over a flagon of old nectar, talk over old times with Pope Leo. Then, shall we sit by the sages, who of yore gave laws to the Medes and Persians in the sun; by the cavalry captains in Perseus, who cried, "To horse!" when waked by their Last Trump sounding to the charge; by the old hunters, who eternities ago, hunted the moose in Orion; by the minstrels, who sang in the Milky Way when Jesus our Saviour was born. Then shall we list to no shallow gossip of Magellans and Drakes; but give ear to the voyagers who have circumnavigated the Ecliptic; who rounded the Polar Star as Cape Horn. Then shall the Stagirite and Kant be forgotten, and another folio than theirs be turned over for wisdom; even the folio now spread with horoscopes as yet undeciphered, the heaven of heavens on high. (I, 24-25)

Given the theocracy, the universe with God Jehovah at its head, then "the shades that roam throughout space," such as the narrator, Jarl, and Samoa, are of one kin with the seraphs, such as Yillah, a "seraph from the sun." They are indeed what they claim to be after Taji's apotheosis, "all strolling divinities." All of them have monarchs such as Media and sages such as Babbalanj a for kinsmen. The nations and families, flocks and folds of the earth, such as the world of Mardi, named for a nation of wandering herdsmen, are brothers in essence to the constellations and worlds in the Milky Way, the thrones and principalities in the Zodiac, such as Arcturus in Bootes, the herdsman. Even the space travel promised in the latter half of the passage becomes a reality; angels and archangels conduct through creation the man who can call, as Babbalanja finally does, "Oh, Alma, Alma! prince divine." When Babbalanja recognizes the theocracy and avows the supreme royalty of Alma, he is immediately rewarded by the vision which the narrator fruitlessly and eternally seeks.

The chapter entitled 'Babbalanja Relates to Them a Vision" parallels point by point the astronomical voyage of the narrator. But

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       49

whereas the narrator voyages as a lost soul, roaming throughout space as a damned comet, Babbalanja voyages as a soul surely guided by an angel. Babbalanja, his eyes "fixed on heaven," first sees the angel as a "shining spot, unlike a star." Then he sees not the vacuity which Taji finds beyond the Mardian Milky Way or the unformed chaos on the edge of the universe, but a mystical world, also imaged forth in terms of a tropical voyage:

"Then, as white flame from yellow, out from that starry cluster it emerged; and brushed the astral Crosses, Crowns, and Cups. And as in violet, tropic seas, ships leave a radiant-white, and fire-fly wake; so, in long extension tapering, behind the vision, gleamed another Milky-Way.

"Strange throbbings seized me; my soul tossed on its own tides."

When the angel asks him what he has learned from the "grace of Alma," Babbalanja presents his passport for mystical space travel: "This have I learned, oh! spirit! -- In things mysterious to seek no more; but rest content, with knowing naught but love." They immediately embark:

"We clove the air; passed systems, suns, and moons: what seem from Mardi's isles, the glow-worm stars.

'By distant fleets of worlds we sped, as voyagers pass far sails at sea, and hail them not. Foam played before them as they darted on; wild music was their wake; and many tracks of sound we crossed, where worlds had sailed before.

"Soon, we gained a point, where a new heaven was seen; whence all our firmament seemed one nebula. Its glories burned like thousand steadfast-flaming lights.

"Here hived the worlds in swarms; and gave forth sweets ineffable. "We lighted on a ring, circling a space, where mornings seemed for ever dawning over worlds unlike.

"'Here,' I heard, 'thou viewest thy Mardi's Heaven.'"

A greater angel then takes Babbalanja and his guide far above, to a point from which "Your utmost heaven is far below." From this point, Babbalanja "beheld an awful glory": "Sphere in sphere, it burned: -- the one Shekinah!"

Mardi culminates in a heavenly reward through Alma and a

50                       Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                      

hellish punishment for spurning Alma. Of course the conclusion does not merely exalt Alma at Taji's expense. Taji, though a damned soul, is also glorious. Taji's gloriousness considerably weakens the emotional effects of Alma's glories, and one can hardly understand either Melville or Mardi without recognizing Taji's glorification. Yet the fact remains that Taji is damned and those who follow Alma are saved. And unlike many of the later works, Mardi does not make those who are saved appear contemptible. Melville's failure to order coherently the ambiguities of this ending may explain in part the failure of the entire book. For, after all, Mardi provides no reasonable basis for Taji's glorification. He is no demon-hunting Ahab nor even a Bulkington, heroically steering away from the dangerous safety of the shore. On the physical level, "Taji" is only the assumed name of a runaway sailor chasing a girl. And on the allegorical level, which is more important, Taji is a phony demigod chasing a phantom. He refuses to recognize the simple fact that the Alma of Serenia is the only true god in Mardi, that this Alma is truly the Christ, Saviour, Messiah, and Sun.

Once we recognize the fact that there is only one true sun, one divine light, one supreme prince, one Absolute in Mardi, we may return to the myths about other incarnate suns, other divine princes, other absolutes. The true Alma appears in a world swarming with dangerous myths, including the most dangerous myth of all, the myth of Alma.

The mythologists of the Mardian world create myths which support courts and churches, which absolve man from responsibility, which turn strangers into gods, which merely entertain, which explain obscure natural events, which fill gaps in metaphysical theories, which satisfy emotional needs, which order all the parts of the Mardian world. The myth of Alma does all that these myths do. It supports kings and clerics, making its Pontiff Hivohitee the most powerful of princes, "prince, priest, and god, in his own proper person; great lord paramount over many kings in Mardi; his hands full of sceptres and crosiers." Just as Azzageddi, "in propria persona," absolved Babbalanja from responsibility, the myth of Alma, defined by an official

                      Mardi: A Study of Myths and Mythmaking                       51

Pontiff as a "god, in his own proper person," transfers man's moral and spiritual responsibility to his priests and church. Alma himself, when he had come as a stranger to the Holy Island, had not, like Taji, found safety in his deification; but the mythic Alma is there enshrined. Alma's myth, officially chronicled, proves as entertaining as any other of Mohi's legends. Defined by both church and state, Alma's myth officially fills all metaphysical gaps, supplies all religious needs, explains all obscure events, and orders the Mardian archipelago.

The official myths defined by Maramma and chronicled by Mohi provide no way of distinguishing between the divine and the mythical. The myth of Alma is like all the other myths of man. But the true Alma is not a "prince divine" because of his legendary past, supernatural character, or prophetic destiny. The basis of his divinity is not that of Peepi, Media, Taji, the deified maker of plantain pudding, or even the Alma of Maramma. The Alma enshrined as a god on the Holy Island of Maramma is no more divine than Yillah, who was "enshrined as a goddess" on the holy island of Amma. The avatars of Alma inscribed in the chronicles of Mohi are no more divine than the "Avatar" of "white Taji." The temporal Pontiff of Alma may entertain only equivocal "incorporeal deities from above passing the Capricorn Solstice at Maramma." Alma is divine on Serenia only because Alma on Serenia is Reason.

The psychological qualities which Taji and, for a time, Yoomy adore in Yillah are misplaced, just as are the metaphysical properties which Babbalanja locates in an abstract absolute, the royal divinity located in Mardian royalty, the astronomical attributes falsely defined by all. Only the message of Serenia accurately defines Alma's divinity:

"Right-reason, and Alma, are the same; else Alma, not reason, would we reject. The Master's great command is Love; and here do all things wise, and all things good, unite. Love is all in all. The more we love, the more we know; and so reversed. Oro we love; this isle; and our wide arms embrace all Mardi like its reef. How can we err, thus feeling? We hear loved Alma's pleading, prompting voice, in every breeze, in every leaf; we see his earnest eye in every star and flower." (II, 358-59)

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It is essential to note that the Serenians define Alma as the embodiment of intuitive moral and psychological perceptions which they call "right reason." This is not discursive reason, nor is it merely feelings. It is the reason of the heart, which establishes a religion of the heart.

Only the Serenian definition of Alma, as first Babbalanja and then Yoomy, Mohi, and Media discover, can validate the passport to heaven. In their Mardian voyage, the questors met this definition only once, in the mouth of a youthful pilgrim to Maramma. This young disciple of the religion of the heart becomes a sacrifice to the mythological religion of Maramma. When he pleads Oro's message in his heart to excuse himself from abasement before Oro's idol, the priests of Alma seize him: "'Impious boy,' cried they with the censers, 'we will offer thee up, before the very image thou contemnest. In the name of Alma, seize him."' When the priests of Alma sacrifice in his name they equate their god with Apo, the god to whom Aleema was to sacrifice Yillah, the god who bears one name of the great Serpent, the Evil Being. [11]

In Mardi, mythical truth is irrelevant to religious truth, and may, in fact, destroy it. The youth, although a disciple of the religion of the heart, does not consistently practice it. He makes a pilgrimage to the place of his destruction because he does accept one myth, a myth about Alma's ascension, the very myth about which Mohi and Babbalanja had disputed inconclusively: "But though rejecting a guide, still he clings to that legend of the Peak."

The epistemological dead ends of Mardi turn all history, poetry, and philosophy into myth. By dramatizing the identity of Sir William Jones's four sources of mythology, Melville rejects the mythological basis of religion. In a world in which history, poetry, and philosophy offer mere myths, the only safe basis for religion seems to be intuitive psychological and moral truth.

11. Edward Davies, Celtic Researches on the... Ancient Britons (London, 1804), p. 522, observes that "Apo" is Hebrew for viper; Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, A Second Series of the Ancient Egyptians, 2 vols. (London, 1841), I, 435, says that "Apop, which in Egyptian signifies a 'giant,' was the name given to the Serpent" or "Evil Being."

7. Ibid., p. 115. 8. See Melville's "Mardi": A Chartless Voyage (New Haven, Conn., 1952), pp. 67-70. 9. William Whiston, Astronomical Principles of Religion (London, 1725), PP• 155-56. 10. An Account of a Surprising Meteor etc. (London, 1716), p. 63.

Copyright © 1963, Stanford University. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.



The Destroyer's Eastern Masquerade        

...the irresponsible ferociousness of the creature stands invested in the fleece of celestial innocence and love.

In the eyes of Buddhists this personage is sometimes a man, and sometimes a god, or rather he is both one and the other. He is a divine incarnation, a man-god, who came into the world to enlighten men, to redeem them, and point out to them the way of salvation.... if we addressed to a Mongol or a Thibetan this question, "Who is Buddha?" he replied instantly, "The Saviour of Men."
                                       ABBE EVARISTE REGIS HUC,
                                        A Journey Through the Chinese Empire

Sir Wm. Jones thinks, that the reason christianity is not more readily received among them -- is, that they confound their own religion with it, and consider the advent of Christ, as nothing more than one of the incarnations of Vishnu.
                                        HANNAH ADAMS, A Dictionary of all Religions

Poor worshippers of Vishnu, how miserably you are striving to hide the realities of the world from your eyes -- to strew garlands over the grave! You have never yet dared to pronounce the real name: it is Siva the Destroyer.
                FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, The Religions of the World

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade is Melville's most nearly perfect work. In no other work -- possibly excepting Bartleby -- is his language under such careful control. Not a word is wasted or misplaced. I say to anybody who thinks he finds a wasted or misplaced word, "Read the book again." In a sense it is a grand reductio ad absurdum of the novel form itself. A novel or a prose romance asks us to pay

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attention to the details of a particular story. These details are words and the physical objects and actions which the words present, describe, and evaluate. The Confidence-Man asks us to make this attention extraordinary. We must look at every word, every object, every action as though it represented an ultimate meaning. But every word, every object, and every action in the book is almost endlessly meaningful.

The Confidence-Man is perhaps Melville's most ambitious work. It tries to define every important ethical problem known to man; it tries to dramatize man's epistemological problems; it tries to provide a voice for each way of looking at these problems. On board the Fidèle are heard the voices of ancient and modern philosophers, poets, and gods. An incarnation of Plato's Socrates argues with an incarnation of Diogenes; a comic embodiment of Emerson refuses to buy a poem offered by a comic embodiment of Poe; shapes of Manco Capac, Christ, Satan, Vishnu, and Buddha direct the action. [1] The Confidence-Man traces Western thought from its origins in the East to its ancient gods and philosophers and to their modern disciples and followers.

The Confidence-Man is Melville's most comic work and his most appalling work. It focuses steadily, although obliquely, on awarenesses in many ways far more terrifying than a knowledge of the great white squid or the great White Whale. It turns universal chaos into a comic cosmos.

But The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade is also Melville's most puzzling work. All kinds of verbal and physical tricks and disguises mask the Confidence Man and his world. The reader of The Confidence-Man is asked to play a game which is at once amusing and deadly serious. For the game consists of unmasking man's gods and myths.


Before investigating the mythological structure and meanings of The Confidence-Man, I should like to explain what seem to me the three most basic problems in understanding the book. They are: How are we to take the "lamb-like" figure? What are we to do with Black Guinea's list? How can we unmask a confidence man?

1. For the identification of Mark Winsome as Emerson see Egbert S. Oliver, "Melville's Picture of Emerson and Thoreau in The Confidence-Man," College English, VIII (1946), 61-72. For the identification of Poe see Harrison Hayford, "Poe in The Confidence-Man," Nineteenth-Century Fiction, XIV (1959), 207-18. Pitch is, of course, the modern Diogenes. In the chapter entitled "In the Polite Spirit of the Tusculan Disputations," Pitch has a philosophical discussion about innate knowledge and innate virtue with the man from the "Philosophical Intelligence Office." As my wife first pointed out to me, this modern philosophical dialogue is a carefully constructed parody of Plato's Meno. Melville apparently used Emerson's essay on Plato in Representative Men as the source for his picture of Socrates. Emerson describes Socrates' "hypocritical pretence of knowing nothing," his "imperturbable" temper, and the way in which, "so careless and ignorant, as to disarm the wariest," he draws them "in the pleasantest manner, into horrible doubts and confusion." There is much else in Emerson's essay which casts light on the character of the PIO man, the Cosmopolitan, and the ethical and metaphysical issues in The Confidence-Man.

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a) The First Avatar?

The book opens by describing the "advent" of a mysterious figure known as "the man in cream-colors" or the "lamb-like figure." There are few serious students of Melville who doubt that the lamb-like man at least represents Christ and may be an incarnation of Christ. And there are few who doubt that the various avatars of the Confidence Man are all avatars of Satan. Until recently, critics have generally agreed that the lamb-like man is the first avatar of the Confidence Man, that is, either that he is a false Christ or that The Confidence-Man presents Christ as an alternative manifestation of the Devil. But most of the criticism of The Confidence-Man published in the last few years asserts that the lamb-like man is intended to be a white contrast to Black Guinea, the first avatar of the Confidence Man, that he is a benign Christ who opposes the malign Devil. [2] According to this interpretation, The Confidence-Man is a Christian book, at least in so far as it exalts a "true Christianity" by denigrating false Christians and pseudo-Christianity. Another recent interpretation, one that fits the evidence more closely, claims that "the basic structural principle is one that leaves the reader alone with an enigma." [3] Perhaps so. But although the reader is finally left with an enigma, he is also given probable explanations of the enigma. Indeed, with this part of the puzzle, as with all parts (and perhaps with everything), probabilities are all evidence.

The Confidence-Man presents the lamb-like man, who at least represents Christ, as most probably the first avatar of the Confidence Man; the savior is most probably the destroyer. Later we shall see how the book's mythology makes this probable. But we do not need the mythology to perceive eight pieces of circumstantial evidence which indicate that the lamb-like man is probably the first avatar of the Confidence Man:

I. The lamb-like man is introduced with great fanfare and mystery in the opening sentence, and he forms the center of interest in the first two chapters. This pointed introduction certainly encourages the reader to think that the lamb-like man may be the title character of The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade.

2. See, for instances, Elizabeth Foster's introduction to the Hendricks House edition of The Confidence-Man (New York, 1954); James E. Miller, Jr., "The Confidence-Man: His Guises," PMLA, LXXIV (1959), 102 -- 11; and John J. Gross, "Melville's The Confidence-Man: The Prob1em of Source and Meaning," Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, LX (1959), 299-310.

3. John Cawelti, "Some Notes on the Structure of The Confidence Man," American Literature, XXIX (1957), 287.

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2. The lamb-like man is in some senses quite literally a confidence man. He introduces the first statements of confidence to the passengers on the Fidèle: "Charity thinketh no evil. Charity suffereth long, and is kind. Charity endureth all things. Charity believeth all things. Charity never faileth." What higher or more encompassing confidence can there be?

3. The lamb-like man's mute scriptural message of confidence seems to be the text for the oral polemics of the later avatars. Since the surest way to identify the Confidence Man is to examine the moral and metaphysical contents of his message, the similarity between his mute scripture and their insinuating words constitutes the nearest thing to certainty which is possible in the world of The Confidence-Man.

4. After the lamb-like man falls asleep in a retired spot on the forecastle, we never hear another word of him. But in this very place then appears Black Guinea, the first undisputed avatar of the Confidence Man.

5. Immediately after the lamb-like man with his white fleece cap vanishes, we learn of the "black fleece" and "bushy wool" of Black Guinea. Later the word "fleece" becomes one of the puns associated with the Confidence Man.

6. If the lamb-like man is not the Confidence Man of the title, then the Confidence Man's advent is never described. But we know that the lamb-like man boards the Fidèle like a god on April Fools' Day.

7. The first of the typically complicated sentences in The Confidence-Man begins by describing the lamb-like man and ends by pointedly not repeating the "careful description" which a reward poster gives of "a mysterious imposter, supposed to have recently arrived from the East." Then we learn that the lamb-like man looks as if he had been "traveling night and day from some far country beyond the prairies."

8. The last character to be introduced in The Confidence-Man embodies the unity of the lamb-like man and Black Guinea. He is a mysterious boy, thought by his dupe to be a "public benefactor." The boy is the only character besides Black Guinea with a black face;

                        The Destroyer's Eastern Masquerade                         157

wearing "such a polish of seasoned grime" as to seem "fresh coal," it recalls the accusation that Black Guinea's face was only painted black. This accusation was made by the cynical cripple, who had then cried, "I'm just in the humor for having him found, and leaving the streaks of these fingers on his paint, as the lion leaves the streaks of his nails on a Caffre." The boy leaves "with the air of a young Caffre." Black Guinea himself is, despite his "black fleece" and "bushy wool," as much a steer as a lamb. A drover calls him "old boy" as he puts his hand on Black Guinea's head "as if it were the curled forehead of a black steer," and Black Guinea has a "leather stump" which he uses as a foot. The mysterious boy "scraped back his hard foot... much as a mischievous steer in May scrapes back his horny hoof in the pasture." Of the forty-some-odd characters in The Confidence-Man, we are pointedly told that two have no assigned place to sleep. These two are the boy, who is the last character introduced, and the lamb-like man, who is the first character introduced. Because he has only a "deck-passage," the lamb-like man, although he seems to have "long been without the solace of a bed," is forced to sleep on the deck. The boy conducts his suspicious midnight activities because he has "no allotted sleeping-place." The boy is appropriately attired in the "fragment of an old linen coat, bedraggled and yellow," which seems to be all that is left of the lamb-like man's cream-colored clothes. Attention is drawn to the history and significance of his coat by a dialogue that is most significantly ambiguous in language and syntax:

small "You seem pretty wise, my lad," said the cosmopolitan; "why don't you sell your wisdom, and buy a coat?"

"Faith," said the boy, "that's what I did to-day, and this is the coat that the price of my wisdom bought. But won't you trade?" [Italics mine.]

The boy's yellow coat, which may once have belonged to the lamb-like man, leads us directly to the list of all the Confidence Man's disguises.

b) Black Guinea's List of Avatars

Black Guinea's list of "ge'mmen" has long been recognized as a list of all the Confidence Man's avatars. Nevertheless, each critic who

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has tried to explain the list has been left puzzled by some parts of it. Elizabeth Foster, the editor of the new standard edition of The Confidence-Man, has provided the most extensive explanation to date. Her analysis is important both for what she explains and for what she cannot explain:

The crippled Negro had listed his friends in this order: a man with a weed, a man in a gray coat and white tie, a man with a big book, a herb doctor, a man in a yellow vest, a man with a brass plate, a man in a violet robe, and a soldier. There are two discrepancies between this list and the Confidence Men who appear. The only soldier or pseudo-soldier in the novel is the Soldier of Fortune, the cripple who appears while the herb-doctor is on board and who pretends to be a veteran of the Mexican War; he qualifies perhaps as a confidence man when he collects money under slightly false pretenses, but he is a victim rather than an accomplice of the herb-doctor and hardly seems an appropriate inclusion in the Negro's list. The other missing "friend" is the man in the yellow vest. None such appears at any time; but the operator, Charles Arnold Noble, has a "violet vest, sending up sunset hues to a countenance betokening a kind of bilious habit." The significant thing about the appearance of the bilious man is the fine and glowing quality of his clothes or outside, and the mean, sour quality of the man himself; whatever Melville had in mind about the yellow vest may have been well enough represented by the "sunset hues" and the bilious face. Although indeed a confidence man, like the soldier he appears in the wrong order and is a victim rather than an accomplice of the "'metaphysical scamps.' " It seems most likely that Melville changed or forgot his earlier intention regarding some of the subordinate arrangements of the story. It will be remembered that Melville did not see this novel through the press. Ill and sorely troubled with his eyes, perhaps he did not even read through the whole manuscript before or after Augusta copied it.

The cosmopolitan is most probably the man in the violet robe of the Negro's list; for, although his crimson garment is not the proper shade, no one else in the novel wears a violet robe, and the idea of color and extravagant oddity suggested by the term is best embodied in the strange garb of the cosmopolitan. [4]

If we assume that violet is not crimson, then we count not "two discrepancies" but three -- three out of a list of eight. When it becomes necessary, in order to confirm an interpretation of an otherwise most

4. The Confidence-Man, Hendricks House ed., pp. lxx-lxxi (this edition is used throughout). J. W. Schroeder, in "Sources and Symbols for Melville's Confidence-Man," PMLA, LXVI (1951), 363-80, frankly admits his inability to explain important parts of Black Guinea's list.

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precisely ordered work, to postulate that almost forty per cent of the most important passage is inaccurate and that this passage alone of all the passages in the book was victimized by the author's weak eyes and weaker memory, one would do well to re-examine the interpretation. Professor Foster's reading of both the passage and the book assumes the demonstrably untenable position that the lamb-like man is clearly not the Confidence Man: "At any rate, Melville clearly differentiates between him and the Confidence Men: he is innocent of fraud; he is unequivocal; he is not on the Negro's list of Confidence Men." [5] Since the lamb-like man's message prepares the flock of fools for many later fleecings, he is at the very least an unwitting accomplice to fraud, and "unequivocal" hardly describes this mysterious figure. And is it safe to say that he does not appear on the list which Professor Foster elsewhere finds so defective?

One of the discrepancies which Professor Foster notes is the nonappearance of what she calls "a man in a yellow vest," what Black Guinea calls "a ge'mman in a yaller west." Professor Foster apparently assumes that vest must mean waistcoat. But "vest," from the Latin vestis, traditionally meant any garment, particularly an outer garment, a robe, or coat. [6] Thus, both the lamb-like man, in his cream- colored suit, and the wandering boy, in his bedraggled yellow coat, wear a yellow vest. If the boy and the man, as has been hinted, wear the same yellow vestment, then the word "ge'mman" is all that remains to say who is more probably the Confidence Man. If "ge'mman" is taken to mean, as it apparently does in the rest of Black Guinea's list, "gentleman," then the cream-colored man is being described. But if "ge'mman" is here taken to mean "gamin," then it accurately describes the juvenile "marchand." [7] But we do not have to choose between the mysterious man and the mysterious boy, because the man appears with the sun on April Fools' Day and the boy appears shortly after the midnight which ends April Fools' Day. Perhaps the last scene reveals the realities behind the All Fools' Day masks, and the boy is the man unmasked. But what, then, is the Cosmopolitan, who is apparently an avatar of the Confidence Man, who is the central character of the second half of the book, and yet who appears

5. P. lii. It is surprising that Professor Foster, who sees that the Confidence Man is Satan and suggests that he is a god or gods, should insist on exempting the lamb-like man from Black Guinea's list.

6. See the definitions in Webster's and Richardson's dictionaries, the two modern authorities Melville cited in "Etymology," Moby-Dick.

7. At least one modern critic uses the word "gamin" to refer to the boy. See Dan G. Hoffman, "Melville's 'Story of China Aster,'" American Literature, XXII (1950), 148.

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in one scene with the boy? This question is the central mystery of The Confidence-Man. To begin to answer it, we must check off one by one and with great care the candidates for Black Guinea's list.

Black Guinea's list seems to be a list of the Confidence Man's disguises in the order of their appearance. But this appearance becomes systematically more and more equivocal. The first four and the sixth seem to appear as described and in the proper order; for the fifth and seventh disguises there are several candidates appearing in different parts of the book; there are innumerable possibilities for the eighth. The ninth and last listing (which Professor Foster does not discuss) is the most ambiguous: "and ever so many good, kind, honest ge'mmen more abord what knows me and will speak for me, God bress 'em; yes, and what knows me as well as dis poor old darkie knows hisself, God bress him!" This last listing is at least as important as any of the others. It states as clearly as can be expected in the world of The Confidence-Man that there are considerably more than eight shapes of the Confidence Man in the world.

When Black Guinea asserts that there are "ever so many" who know him as well as he "knows hisself," he explicitly extends the suspicions (or faith) cast by his list to all on board the Fidèle. But even without this explicit extension, the list itself spreads a universal suspicion (or faith). Black Guinea's list suggests that we are to determine who the Confidence Man is by examining the colors each man wears, the physical objects each man bears, and the role each man plays. That is, we are to behave like the passengers on the Fidèle, who judge each other by what they wear (see the discussion between the good merchant and the President of the Black Rapids Coal Company on the "decorously dressed" card players and the card players wearing "colored cravats"), by what they bear (notice for instance the importance of various books -- the big transfer book of the Black Rapids Coal Company, the small vellum-bound volume of Tacitus, the pocket-volume of Akenside, the big Bible), and of course by the roles they play. That is, we are to behave as we usually do, judging by appearances. We are to do what Black Guinea -- in all probability an avatar of the Confidence Man -- wants us to do.

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Thus in order to read The Confidence-Man perceptively, it seems that we must begin by following the words of an avatar of the Confidence Man. This is one big joke. Another big joke is that all these very important and equivocal words are spoken by the Confidence Man in a dialect. We are thus invited to look for linguistic equivoques. Before we can guess whom these words indicate we must guess what they mean. And although it sometimes seems obvious who is wearing Black Guinea's masks, we must never overlook the less obvious possibilities. Let us now look carefully at the first eight references given by Black Guinea, the passenger list of the Fidèle, and a few dictionaries.

No. 1. "A werry nice, good ge'mman wid a weed." John Ring-man, the "man with the weed" in the title of Chapter 5, apparently seems to be behind this mask. But if we take "weed" to mean tobacco, then the cigar scene of Charles Arnold Noble, the riverboat operator, and Frank Goodman, the Cosmopolitan, assumes added significance. And if we take "weed" to mean what Richardson's Dictionary (1844) says it means, "A covering; that which covers, spreads over vest or vestment, clothing or garment," then the first of Black Guinea's listings becomes as full of equivocal meanings as the last.

No. 2. "A ge'mman in a gray coat and white tie." "A man in a gray coat and white tie," the agent for the Seminole Widow and Orphan Society, is the obvious appearance. But by no means unsuspect is the Methodist minister who champions Black Guinea a few sentences after Black Guinea calls off his list. When he assaults the cynical cripple, a voice cries out, "The white cravat against the world!"

No. 3. "A ge'mman wid a big book, too." The president and transfer agent of the Black Rapids Coal Company, carrying the ledger-like transfer book under his arm, is the obvious appearance. [8] But the hypocritical old man, who, like the mysterious boy, first appears after April Fools' Day is over, who is the last character mentioned in The Confidence-Man, and who is first discovered reading a big book -- the Bible -- offers his candidacy. The Cosmopolitan tells him "in Providence, as in man, you and I equally put trust."

No. 4 and No. 6. "A yarb doctor" and "a ge'mman wid a brass

8. The name of the company is, of course, comically ominous in context, but it resembles the Black Diamond and Anti Cinder Coal Company, for which poor innocent Mr. Sedley is agent in Vanity Fair.

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plate." These are the only two disguises of the Confidence Man apparently not shared at least in part by more than one passenger.

No. 5. "A ge'mman in a yaller west" and No. 7. "A ge'mman in a wiolet robe." No passenger on the Fidèle wears either a yellow waistcoat or a violet robe. Either the man in cream colors or the boy in the old yellow coat, or both, as we have seen, may be "a ge'mman in a yaller west." Only one other passenger, the herb doctor, wears a yellowish garment; he is several times pointedly identified as the man in the snuff-colored surtout. Two passengers wear garments which might look something like violet, the "gentleman in a ruby-colored velvet vest" and the Cosmopolitan, who "sported a vesture barred with various hues, that of the cochineal predominating" [italics mine]. Charles Arnold Noble, the apparently mundane riverboat confidence man, combines elements from both the apparently missing disguises by wearing a "violet vest." One other gentleman in a robe appears in the fateful final scene: he is the symbolic "robed man" on the ground glass of the symbolic solar lamp.

No. 8. "A ge'mman as is a sodjer." Four passengers play the role of playing the role of soldier on the Fidèle. The lamb-like man moves through the crowd "shield-like bearing his slate before him." "Apparently a non-resistant," he perhaps resembles the "soldier-like Methodist" minister, who, while assaulting the cynical cripple, cries out, "You took me for a non-combatant did you -- thought, seedy coward that you are, that you could abuse a Christian with impunity. You find your mistake." This soldier-like Methodist is "a tall, muscular, martial-looking man... who in the Mexican war had been volunteer chaplain to a volunteer rifle-regiment." The third "ge'mman" who is as a "sodjer" is the man with the bandaged nose who, while a woman sobs for the herb doctor's proffered alms, shufflingly rises, and, with a pace that seems "the lingering memento of the lock-step of convicts," offers himself as a "duly qualified claimant": "'Poor wounded huzzar!' sighed the herb-doctor, and dropping the money into the man's clam-shell of a hand turned and departed." The next chapter, entitled "A Soldier of Fortune," introduces a beggar who, while claiming to the herb doctor to have been crippled by civil injustice,

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pretends to have been crippled in military combat in order to get alms.

...arranging his tattered regimentals the best he could, off he went stumping among the passengers,... saying with a jovial kind of air: "Sir, a shilling for Happy Tom, who fought at Buena Vista. Lady, something for General Scott's soldier, crippled in both pins at glorious Contreras." (P. 110)

Described as a hyena clawing the herb doctor and displaying an hysterical cynicism, he recalls the cynical crippled "discharged customhouse officer" who wished to claw Black Guinea as a lion claws a Caffre. A "prim-looking stranger" accuses him of belonging to "the Devil's regiment;" the herb doctor then mysteriously intimidates the stranger. All of these "soldiers" seem to be "coming the old soldier," which means "to trick one by false representations, such as are made by a rogue who pretends to be an old soldier." [9]

These four passengers that are as soldiers by no means exhaust the possible significances of Black Guinea's penultimate listing. A real soldier, Colonel John Moredock, though not physically aboard the Fidèle, is one of its most important metaphysical passengers, incarnating the "metaphysics of Indian-hating." The very word soldier -- derived from soldus and literally meaning one who receives pay -- might include almost all the Fidèle's passengers, making Black Guinea's penultimate listing as ambiguous as his ultimate. But "sodjer" does not necessarily mean "soldier." Some nautical usages of "sodger" or "sodjer" or "sojer" or "soger" offer even more curious possibilities. Melville, a recognized authority on nautical language, [10] had in Redburn used "soger" to mean a deceptive shirker of duty; he knew that "to call a sailor a sojer... was to start a fight" [11] He undoubtedly also knew that "a red herring... sailors usually designate... as a sodger." [12]

No. 9. "And ever so many good, kind, honest ge'mmen." This is the meat of The Confidence-Man, the meat upon which the Satanic Confidence Man feeds. Diabolical as he is, whether as the Black Man or a White Devil, the Confidence Man can hardly be distinguished among the Fidèle's passengers. We think we know who the Confidence

9. Albert Barrere and Charles G. Leland, A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant, 2 vols. (London, 1897), "Soldier."

10. C. M. Babcock, the philologist who has made some interesting studies of Melville's language, shows that Melville was indeed an expert on nautical language, that "for some thirty individual items from Moby-Dick alone, Melville's usage is the first or only citation in the historical dictionaries (NED and DAE). Some whaling glossaries quote Melville directly in the definition of specific expressions." "The Language of Melville's Isolatoes," Western Folklore, X (1951), 286.

11. Ibid.

12. OED, "soldier." See also Century Dictionary. Barrere indicates that "coming the old soldier" may relate to "soldier" meaning "a red herring."

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Man is when he appears as "a werry nice, good ge'mman wid a weed," as "a ge'mman in a gray coat and white tie," as "a ge'mman wid a big book," as "a yarb-doctor," and as "a ge'mman wid a brass plate."

But at the end of Chapter 23, which marks the exact center of the forty-five chapters in The Confidence-Man, there is a "cordial slap on the shoulder," and a voice "sweet as a seraph's" begins to turn our assurances upside down. From this point on, not one of Black Guinea's "ge'mmen" appears as described.

The sweet voice belongs to the Cosmopolitan, whose appearance divides The Confidence-Man precisely into distinct halves. In each of the Cosmopolitan's encounters a real question arises as to who is the greater confidence man, the apparently supernatural and possibly satanic Cosmopolitan or the mundane confidence men of this world. And there are many hints that those who confront the Cosmopolitan are the shape-shifting Confidence Man of the title. They assume not only each other's physical as well as metaphysical positions, but sometimes even each other's names.

After Pitch, who bridges the two halves of the book, retires, the first to greet the Cosmopolitan is an indisputable confidence man, an authentic, conventional riverboat operator. His first words measure the distance between the two halves of the book: "Queer 'coon your friend. Had a little skrimmage with him myself." Since Pitch had one little skrimmage with the herb doctor and another little skrimmage with the man with the brass plate, the riverboat confidence man's remark more than implies that he may be the Confidence Man.

Of course the Cosmopolitan himself is probably the last avatar of the Confidence Man. But in many ways he is different from the avatars of the Confidence Man in the first half of the book. He does not exactly fit any of Black Guinea's listings. He gives away two shillings and receives no money from anyone (although he does, perhaps, bilk the barber for a shave). He directly confronts the out-and-out Mississippi riverboat confidence man. He steadily grows in stature. He is the main character of half the book.

There are many hints that the Cosmopolitan may be a true savior

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who appears after a series of false saviors. Or, to put it in the metaphor which he himself uses, he may be a true sun dawning just after false suns: "For the Satanic press, by its coappearance with the apostolic, is no more an aspersion to that, than to the true sun is the co-appearance of the mock one. For all the baleful-looking parhelion, god Apollo dispenses the day." The final chapter begins with a description of "a solar lamp" which had not been extinguished because "the commands of the captain required it to be kept burning till the natural light of day should come to relieve it." The Cosmopolitan then enters the scene "seeming to dispense a sort of morning through the night." Before he leaves he puts out the artificial solar lamp.

c) How to Unmask a Confidence Man: Two Related Examples

The lamb-like man would have us think no evil and believe all things. His mute scripture is of equivocal value on board the Fidèle, and if we readers listen to it we will not understand what is going on.

One obvious time when we must be suspicious and incredulous is while listening to the herb doctor's financial finagling. Although he says. that he is "pledged to the one-price system," he juggles his prices to make them fit what the market can bear. This is of course not unconventional in American business practices, but he has one trick which even Madison Avenue is not allowed to use: "Well, if two dollars a box seems too much, take a dozen boxes at twenty dollars; and that will be getting four boxes for nothing, and you need use none but those four, the rest you can retail out at a premium, and so cure your cough, and make money by it."

So it is easy enough to find out that the herb doctor is a confidence man. But when the herb doctor says, "I took yonder clergyman" for the President of the Black Rapids Coal Company, he points to a more subtle and complicated disguise of a confidence man. By investigating this disguise, we can discover that the difference between the two halves of the book is more quantitative than qualitative; the second half simply amplifies the quieter but nevertheless pervasive equivocations of the first. We can thus discover that the difference between the Confidence Man and other men is more quantitative than qualitative.

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That is, contrary to what the lamb-like man would have us believe, none of the Fidèle's passengers is beyond suspicion.

I cannot here demonstrate the ubiquity of suspicious acts and specious rhetoric, of role-playing and shape-shifting. But I can show how easily even the slightest credulity can be beguiled into thinking The Confidence-Man far more Christian than it is. Elizabeth Foster singles out for us what seems the most truly Christian Christian in the book:

Another theme, the most obvious of the novel, is the failure of Christians to be Christian. The Methodist minister, goaded into anger by the cynic, seized him and shook him "till his timber-toe clattered on the deck like a ninepin." But Melville's satire on the unchristian leaders of Christ's people is tempered by an honest tribute to the few who carry the Gospels into their acts. The Episcopal minister was steadfast in his kindness and charity -- and was duped for his pains. (P. liii)

But the Episcopal minister is in reality a shape-shifting confidence man.

We have already seen that the "soldier-like" Methodist minister's assault on the cripple is defined by a voice as "The white cravat against the world!" and that indeed his white tie and his soldierly characteristics constitute a twofold eligibility for Black Guinea's list. The Episcopal clergyman -- apparently a contrast to the Methodist minister, just as the lamb-like man is apparently a contrast to Black Guinea -- is defined, obscurely but carefully, as another shape of the Methodist minister. The Methodist minister chronologically follows the Episcopalian just as Methodism chronologically followed the Episcopal establishment. After the Episcopal leaves in search of higher authority, the Methodist tries and fails to settle all issues on a personal basis. Three chapters later, someone identified only as "the young clergyman, before introduced," returns. We then think that we discover that this is the Episcopal clergyman when, in highly suspicious rhetoric, he tells the man in gray of what Professor Foster calls his steadfast kindness and charity:

"You see, shortly after leaving St. Louis, he [Black Guinea] was on the forecastle, and there, with many others, I saw him, and put trust in him;

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so much so, that, to convince those who did not, I, at his entreaty, went in search of you, you being one of several individuals he mentioned... But, after diligent search, not finding you, and catching no glimpse of any of the others he had enumerated, doubts were at last suggested; but doubts indirectly originating, as I can but think, from prior distrust unfeelingly proclaimed by another." (P. 32)

This young clergyman continues these protestations throughout the chapter, reasserting that "with me at the time" the cynical cripple's "ill words went for nothing." But a careful reading of the chapter discloses who this clergyman is and provides an essential insight into the narrative techniques of The Confidence-Man. When he is asked who was the cynical cripple, the young clergyman betrays himself:

"He who I mentioned to you as having boasted his suspicion of the negro," replied the young clergyman, recovering from disturbance, "in short, the person to whom I ascribe the origin of my own distrust; he maintained that Guinea was some white scoundrel, betwisted and painted up for a decoy. Yes, these were his very words, I think." (P. 34)

"'Impossible!'" is the next word, and impossible it is that the young Episcopal clergyman could know the cripple's very words, the very words to which he ascribes the origin of his distrust. For the cripple, after making his accusation, "was forced to retire." The young Episcopal clergyman had first appeared after the cripple was gone, and he was then pointedly introduced as "a person newly arrived from another part of the boat." His first words were not words of trust but an absurd request for witnesses to Guinea's goodness. When Guinea answered with his list of "ge'mmen," the Episcopal clergyman showed that his request was neither trustful nor sincere, and he immediately departed: "'Where are we to find them?' half-rebukefully echoed the young Episcopal clergyman. 'I will go find one to begin with,' he quickly added, and, with kind haste suiting the action to the word, away he went." Immediately the cynical cripple returned and spoke the "very words" upon which the young clergyman now blames his distrust: "'Wild goose chase!' croaked he with the wooden leg, now again drawing nigh [italics mine].... 'He's some white operator, betwisted and painted up for a decoy. He and his friends are all humbugs.'"

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To this accusation (which might not be totally inapplicable to Black Guinea's latest friend) a new voice had responded: "'Have you no charity, friend?' here in self-subdued tones, singularly contrasted with his unsubdued person, said a Methodist minister, advancing."

The role of the shape-shifting Christian clergyman becomes explicit just after his self-betrayal. When the man in a gray coat and white tie argues with the cynical cripple about the clergyman, both sides of their argument reveal his role: "Does all the world act?" asks the man in the gray coat and white tie; "Am I, for instance, an actor? Is my reverend friend here, too, a performer?" And the cynical cripple answers, "Yes, don't you both perform acts? To do, is to act; so all doers are actors." So that in the world of The Confidence-Man, even the most cynical are unaware of the profound depth of their accusations, and even a reader as familiar with the book as its editor can be unaware of many of its acts. Perhaps this explains why the minister is called a "kind gentleman," why a voice says that "we shall wait here til Christmas" for his return, and why, in the chapter entitled "Reappearance of One Who May Be Remembered," the herb doctor, ostensibly looking for the President of the Black Rapids Coal Company, says, "Another mistake. Surprising resemblance. I took yonder clergyman for him."


All the acts in The Confidence-Man, with the exception of those in the last chapter, take place on the first day of April. The significance of this fact cannot be overstated. On the most obvious level, it equivocates all actions and all words. On another, but explicit, level it reads into the assumed foolishness of April Fools' Day a general and ominous meaning. A conventional nineteenth-century understanding of the significance of the holiday can be found in Charles Lamb's little essay, "All Fools' Day." Lamb sermonizes on the sensibleness of foolishness, the senseless foolishness of the "wise-acre," the trustworthiness of the fool, and cries out, "Beshrew the man who on such a day as this, the general festival, should affect to stand aloof." [13]

13. "Ella": Essays Which Have Appeared Under That Signature in the London Magazine (Philadelphia, 1828), pp. 84-90. The entire essay sheds a little light on facets of The Confidence-Man. See, for instance, Lamb's comments on "wise, melancholy, politic port." Melville owned Lamb's works (Sealts No. 316).

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The Cosmopolitan affects the same language and sentiments: "'Life is a pic-nic en costume; one must take a part, assume a character, stand ready in a sensible way to play the fool. To come in plain clothes, with a long face, as a wiseacre, only makes one a discomfort to himself, and a blot upon the scene.'" But at the same time that Lamb was being whimsical about All Fools' Day, the comparative mythologists were discovering in this festival some disturbing significances.

The pioneers of Indian studies writing for Asiatick Researches discovered several apparent sources for the rituals which take place on the first of April. J. D. Patterson, for instance, pointed out that the "Romans celebrated the Hilaria at the vernal Equinox" [14] and that the festival lasted until the Calends of April. He suggested that in the Hilaria "it was the Earth, under the name of CYBELE, which was worshipped at the commencement of that genial season, when she receives from the Sun those vivifying rays, which are so adapted to the production of fruits and flowers." [15] As the Cosmopolitan obliquely suggests, this may be the time when "the true sun" extinguishes "the mock one." But Patterson's description of the Hilaria suggests another possibility: "the attending crowds assumed to themselves whatever rank, character, or dress, their fancy led them to prefer: it was a kind of masquerade, full of mirth and frolick." [16]

Moving to the East, Patterson finds in India a strikingly similar vernal celebration: "The Hindus have likewise their masquerading processions, in which Gods and Goddesses, Rajas and Ranis, are represented; and the ceremonies are concluded, by burning the past or deceased year, and welcoming the renovation of nature." [17] These Hindu masquerades, as we shall see, are most helpful in understanding the Confidence Man's masquerade.

When the Indian Huli was compared with the Roman Hilaria, when these festivals were compared with other European and Asiatic folk festivals, and when all these festivals were compared with Passover and Easter, there arose a growing conviction that some archetypal vernal celebration was the source of them all. The skeptics and apologists established their usual lines of battle around this discovery. Besides the rather weak suggestion that the almost universal festivals were mere coincidence, three principal explanations emerged: the

14. "of the Origin of the Hindu Religion," Asiatick Researches (Calcutta, 1805), VIII, 77.

15. Ibid., p. 78.

16. Ibid., PP• 77-78•

17. Ibid., p. 78.

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apologists argued that the pagan festivals were geographically diffused perversions of the Hebrew Passover and therefore of the Christian Easter (the Last Supper was, of course, the eating of the paschal lamb); some skeptics argued that the rites of spring were simply celebrations of the resurrection of the sun (the vernal equinox) or of the resultant rebirth of nature itself; other skeptics argued that Passover and Easter were geographically diffused versions of the Hindu Huli.

Thomas Maurice as usual held to a geographical diffusionism line and tried to conquer the impious astronomical and psychological theorists with their own weapons. He not only admitted all the similarities pointed out by the heretics but added to them a mass of similar details which he insisted were too similar and too manifold to have independent psychological origins. If first the universality of a vernal celebration could be accepted -- nay, embraced -- and then the origin of this universal practice could be moved from the Far East and the West to the Near East, he could put the heretics back where they started. So in Indian Antiquities he first relates April Fools' Day back to Druidic rites and next traces these Druidic rites back to Hindu rites. In a section entitled "The First of April or the Ancient Feast of the Vernal Equinox, Equally Observed in India and Britain," he begins by describing the great Druidic vernal festival: "The first of April was anciently observed in Britain as a high and general festival, in which an unbounded hilarity reigned through every order of its inhabitants." He admits that "the sun at that period of the year entering into the sign of Aries, the new year, and with it the season of rural sports and vernal delight, was then supposed to have commenced." But he asserts that the "proof of the great antiquity of the observance of this annual festival, as well as the probability of its original establishment in an Asiatic region... shall presently be adduced." [18] With one possible exception, his account of the Druidic rituals contains little that is relevant to The Confidence-Man. That exception is the fact that "the Arch-Druid" on "the first of April" leads a procession "to gather the sacred, wonder-working, all-healing MISTLETOE from its parent oak; under the expansive shade of whose

18. Indian Antiquities, VI, 71.

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branches the victims were sacrificed, and the festive rites commenced [italics Maurice's]." [19] This may, perhaps, show something about what Melville calls "the true character of the Herb-Doctor." The herb doctor dispenses what he claims to be the all-healing Omni-Balsamic Re-invigorator and Samaritan Pain Dissuader; he, like the Druids, goes directly to Nature for his cure-alls, eschewing "science, that forbidden tree;" he first approaches the sick man who is "visited, but not warmed, by the sun -- a plant whose hour seems over, while buds are blowing and seeds are astir;" despite his claimed league with Nature, he is assaulted by the Titanic figure from the forest whose "walking-stick of swamp-oak" attracts the herb doctor's eye.

When Maurice turns to what he considers the origin of the Druidic rituals, he provides a great deal more information about the Confidence Man's rituals. Maurice directly confronts the paper which had started all the trouble for the apologists, and it is this paper which explains part of the Confidence Man's jokes:

[Of the still-preserved sports] none of the least remarkable or ludicrous is that... practice of making APRIL FOOLS, as it is called, on the first day of that month; but this Colonel Pearce, in a paper published in the second volume of the Asiatic Researches, has proved to have been an immemorial custom among the Hindoos, at a celebrated festival holden about the same period in India, which is called the Huli festival. I shall insert the account in the Colonel's own words: "During the Huli, when mirth and festivity reign among Hindoos of every class, one subject of diversion is to send people on errands and expeditions, that are to end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at the expense of the person sent.... the laugh is always in proportion to the trouble given." [20]

Maurice's immediate objection explains another part of the Confidence Man's jokes:

The least inquiry into the ancient customs of Persia, or the minutest acquaintance with the general astronomical mythology of Asia, would have taught Colonel Pearce, that the boundless hilarity and jocund sports prevalent on the first day of April in England, and during the HULI festival of India, have their origin in the ancient practice of celebrating with festival rites the period of the vernal equinox, or the day when the new year of Persia anciently began [21]

19. Ibid., pp. 84-85.

20. Ibid., pp. 72-73. Also quoted in Brand's Popular Antiquities.

21. Ibid., pp. 73-74.

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Little are the passengers on the Fidèle aware of the traditions of the day on which they are sailing. They do not know that it is the great vernal festival day, "the birth-day of the Persian monarch," or that they are to await the arrival not only of "the new-born Sun," but also of "the son of the Sun, and his representative on earth." [22]

Maurice tried to move the archetypal vernal festival from India to Persia. He was immediately fired upon from another direction. Godfrey Higgins asserted that Maurice in this chapter had unwittingly proved that all these festivals were the vernal rites of the Bull and the Phallus:

The reader will observe in the whole of the above quotations from Mr. Maurice the style of the Christian apologist, who is endeavouring to account for a disagreeable circumstance which he cannot deny, and to shew that it is not inconsistent with his religious system. He will see that it is the evidence of an unwilling witness, and on this account evidence of the greatest importance. The learning and talent of Mr. Maurice are unquestionable, and it cannot for a moment be doubted, that he would have denied the fact if he could have done it honestly. But in the teeth of the most clear evidence of its existence that was absolutely impossible.... The reality, close connexion, and object, of the Tauric and Phallic worship, have been so clearly and fully proved by D'Ancarville, Payne Knight, Maurice, Parkhurst in his Hebrew Lexicon, Bryant, Faber, Dupuis, Drummond, and many others, that there is no room left for a moment's doubt. [23]

Higgins used Maurice and other authorities on spring, phallic, Tauric, and astronomical festivals and rites to relate April Fools' Day to the precession of equinoxes from Taurus to Aries:

After the equinox... ceased to be in Taurus, and took place in Aries, the equinoctial festivals were changed to the first of April, and were celebrated on that day equally in England and India: in the former, every thing but the practice of making April fools has ceased; but in the latter, the festival is observed as well as the custom of making April fools; that is, the custom of sending persons upon ridiculous and false errands to create sport and merriment, is one part of the rites of the festival. [24]

Like Higgins (and like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who had twenty-one years before discussed the Hindu April Fools' Day), [25] Melville centers attention upon the surviving Western and Eastern April Fools'

22. Ibid., P. 79.

23. Anacalypsis, I, 25.

24. Ibid.

25. "April Fools," American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, II (Boston, 1836), 339-40.

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Day celebrations. The lamb-like man and steer-like Black Guinea begin the Fidèle's Hindu masquerade.

To help celebrate the great spring festival day on which The Confidence-Man takes place, an assortment of Hindu figures comes aboard. As we shall see in the next section, some of these figures are Hindu gods, and Hindu theology and mythology provide the central structure of The Confidence-Man. With these figures come so many things from India that sometimes it seems as if the Fidèle were steaming down the Ganges, not the Mississippi.

Several enigmatic and suspicious remarks about "the East" alert us to watch for things Indian. Thus we can easily explain the brass plate worn by the man who sells boys, for the article on India in the 1832 American edition of the Edinburgh Encyclopedia tells us that "in cases of adoption, the child is placed on a large brass plate." [26] The same article provides more help. It includes a comparison of the Huli with All Fools' Day and gives a standard account of Hindu mythology and theology. It also gives another hint about the appropriateness of India, as conceived of by the West, to the world of The Confidence-Man: "especially among the Brahmins, there is frequently displayed a very extraordinary degree of urbanity, proceeding, not from feeling, or even politeness, so much as from hypocrisy. Their command of temper and countenance is indeed astonishing." [27]

Pitch claims that he had employed a boy "Thug." A comparison of The Confidence-Man with Edward Thornton's Illustrations of the History and Practice of the Thugs (London, 1837) hints that Thugs, translated by Thornton as "deceivers," perhaps lie in wait for the Fidèle's travelers much as they did for all travelers in India:

Different parties frequently act in concert, apprising one another of the approach of travellers whose destruction promises a valuable booty. They assume the appearance of ordinary inoffensive travellers.... They are often accompanied by children of ten years of age and upwards; who, while they perform menial offices, are gradually initiated into the horrid practices of Thuggee, and contribute to prevent suspicion of their real character. Skilled in the arts of deception, they enter into conversation, and insinuate themselves by obsequious attentions into the confidence of travellers of all descriptions...

26. See XI, 284.

27. Ibid., p. 286.

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[ On river Thugs: ] Those who do the work of the boatmen are dressed like other boatmen; but those who are to take a part in the operations are dressed like travellers of great respectability; and there are no boats on the river kept so clean and inviting for travellers. When going up the river, they always pretend to be men of some consideration, going on pilgrimage to some sacred place, as Benares, Allahabad, &c.
It is a bad omen to meet, on the first day of an expedition, any person who has lost a limb; and happily for the maimed, it is equally bad to murder them. [28]

Appropriately, it is the shape-shifting Christian clergyman who laments "that but one man, and he with one leg, should have such ill power given him." The Thugs were motivated primarily not by their booty but by their religion. They faithfully served Kali, the goddess of destruction, the consort of Siva the Destroyer.


While the apologists were defending their religion from the implications drawn from the dates of its festivals, they were also attempting to distinguish meaningfully their savior god from the mysterious savior god of every other religion. The mysterious beings who came to teach, guide, and redeem the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the Hindus, the Incas, the Aztecs, the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians, the Welsh, and the Polynesians were, for the orthodox, embarrassingly similar. Again, Hindu studies proved particularly troublesome, providing in Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, an obvious counterpart to Christ. Spelling his name Christina or Cristna, the skeptics listed at length the events of his life. What made these events so disturbing is shown in Maurice's grateful acceptance of the apologist theory promulgated by Sir William Jones's "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India":

To return to the more particular consideration of those parts of the life of Creeshna which are above alluded to by Sir William Jones, which have been paralleled with some of the leading events in the life of Christ, and are, in fact, considered by him as interpolations from the spurious Gospels; I mean more particularly his miraculous birth at midnight; the chorus of Devatas that saluted with hymns the divine infant as soon as born; his being cradled among shepherds, to whom were first made known those

28. Pp. 5-6, 31, 79-80.

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stupendous feats that stamped his character with divinity; his being carried away by night and concealed in a region remote from the scene of his birth, from fear of the tyrant Cansa, whose destroyer it was predicted he would prove, and who, therefore, ordered all the male children born at that period to be slain; his battle, in his infancy, with the dire envenomed serpent Calija, and crushing his head with his foot; his miracles in succeeding life; his raising the dead; his descending to Hades, and his return to Vaicontha, the proper paradise of Veeshnu; all these circumstances of similarity are certainly very surprising, and, upon any other hypothesis than that offered by Sir William Jones, at first sight, seem very difficult to be solved. [Other difficulties include] the name of Crishna, and the general outline of his story, confessedly anterior to the birth of Christ, and probably as old as Homer, as well as the apparent reluctance of the haughty self-conceited Brahmin to borrow any part of his creed, or rituals, or legends, from foreigners visiting India. [29]

Jones's theory, that the Hindus had tacked an earlier story onto the wide-traveling spurious Gospels and embellished it grotesquely with their Oriental imagination, met difficulties from another part of the world. While the apologists were denouncing the skeptics and heretics for identifying Krishna with Christ, students of Peruvian mythology were quietly identifying Krishna with Manco Capac, on those mysterious American redeemers who "make their appearance without any indication of the place of their birth... bearing the title of high-priests, of legislators, of the friends of peace, and the arts." [30] This identification could douse the wide-traveling spurious-Gospels theory in the deep, wide waters of the Pacific Ocean. One way out of the difficulties was the way taken by the official Mardian chronicles:

Alma, it seems, was an illustrious prophet, and teacher divine; who, ages ago, at long intervals, and in various islands, had appeared to the Mardians under the different titles of Brami, Manko, and Alma. Many thousands of moons had elapsed since his last and most memorable avatar, as Alma on the isle of Maramma. Each of his advents had taken place in a comparatively dark and benighted age. Hence, it was devoutly believed, that he came to redeem the Mardians from their heathenish thrall; to instruct them in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good by promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe. Separated from the impurities

29. History of Hindostan, II, 222-23.

30. Alexander Humboldt, Researches Concerning the Institutions and Monuments of the Ancient Inhabitants of America, trans. Helen Maria Williams, 2 vols. (London, 18??), I, 29. Krishna is identified with Manco Capac on I, 213.

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and corruptions, which in a long series of centuries had become attached to every thing originally uttered by the prophet, the maxims, which as Brami he had taught, seemed similar to those inculcated by Manko. But as Alma, adapting his lessons to the improved condition of humanity, the divine prophet had more completely unfolded his scheme; as Alma, he had made his last revelation. (Mardi, II, 38-39)

This, we may recall, was also the way which Jones and Maurice claimed the Hindus took: "'[The Hindus believe] that the Deity has appeared innumerable times, and by innumerable Avatars, in many parts, not only of this world, but of all worlds, for the salvation of his creatures; and that both Christians and Hindoos adore the same God, under different forms.'" [31] This was also the way of some of the strange heretics of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, who referred, for instance, to "the new, the tenth, and the last Messiah or Avatar, patronised by the Pope of Rome." [32] It is also the way later taken by Melville's Rolfe when he asks "'whither hast fled, thou deity / So genial? In thy last and best / Best avatar.'" [33] But although the Mardian Pope, the pontiff of Maramma, patronizes Alma as an avatar, Alma as avatar is ultimately transcended by the religion of the heart; the psychological truth of Alma makes the historical truth of Mohi's chronicles and Maramma's dogmas of no consequence whatsoever.

The identity of "Brami, Manko, and Alma" appears again in The Confidence-Man, and again the psychological truth of the avatars provides something other than their historical truth. In The Confidence Man, the psychological truth of the avatars' teachings leads to ruin, and the historical truth of the avatars makes this ruin a joke.

As we have seen, the pseudo-avatar is central to Mardi, Moby-Dick, and Pierre. The narrator of Mardi first passes himself off as Taji, "an Avatar," and, when he comes to believe his own fraud, he commits himself to destruction and damnation. Ahab assumes the role of the beneficent Osiris and commits himself utterly to a "supernatural revenge" which leads to destruction and damnation. Pierre seeks through a "pious imposture" to play the role of Christ; he ends imprisoned as a stony Enceladus in a granite hell. Taji, Ahab, and Pierre

31. Quotation from "On the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India" cited in History of Hindostan, II, 245.

32. Anacalypsis, I, 677.

33. Clarel, II, xxi, 65-68.

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end in tragedy because they are not gods. But the Confidence Man appears a god to the readers and not to the characters, and that is the central joke of The Confidence-Man. It resembles the central joke of Bartleby, except that Bartleby himself is not the joker. It grows out of the tragi-comic game of follow-the-leader dramatized in Benito Cereno; but here the original leader has boarded the confidence ship. Apparently himself truly a god, the Confidence Man apparently deceives men into destruction and damnation.

When the good merchant (Mr. Roberts) in true charity puts his faith in Black Guinea, with the best intentions he paves the way for being fleeced twice and for having his name recorded in the transfer book of the Black Rapids Coal Company. If this were the transfer book of an earthly coal company, there would be no joke. And if the Confidence Man were merely the devil, the joke, although appalling, would not be entirely unconventional. One thing makes this joke exclusively and peculiarly a Confidence-Man joke: the lamb-like man, whose teachings are being put into practice by Mr. Roberts, and the President of the Black Rapids Coal Company, who is apparently registering Mr. Roberts for damnation, are apparently avatars of the same supernatural being. Christ and Satan are the shape-shifting joker known as the Confidence Man.

The concept of the avatar is the central structural principle of The Confidence-Man. Modern criticism of the book has partly recognized this fact by making "avatar" the conventional word to describe each of the Confidence Man's appearances. But no one has pointed out that "avatar" is a word and concept from Hindu theology, and that it is fully and peculiarly relevant to The Confidence-Man.

In Mardi, the redeeming avatar appears as three Mardian savior gods who correspond to three of the world's savior gods: Alma is Mardian for Christ; Manko is Manco Capac; and Brami is Brahma or Brahm. Manko, of course, is the only exact correspondence. Alma, the heart or soul, is a good name for a god of the religion of the heart, the religion of Serenia. Brami is equally suitable for an amphibian deity -- half god, half idea. For Brahm (or Brahme, according to many mythologists) is an absolute, impersonal, and philosophically conceived

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divinity, the ineffable essence of the sacred, whereas Brahma is the personified Brahm conceived as a god. In the later Hindu theology, Brahma had become a distinct part of a trinity, the Creator in combination with Vishnu the Preserver and Siva the Destroyer. Since Mohi's chronicles describe an historical god in a world which needs an ineffable Brahm, the name Brami may be taken as symbolic of tensions between earthly and celestial conceptions, between the theology of Maramma and the religion of Serenia. Moby-Dick demonstrates that Melville was not ignorant of the stricter -- in fact most strict Hindu usage of the term avatar, and Pierre makes a joke about Millthorpe's unknowledgeable use of "avatar." In the strictest sense, avatar means a descent of Vishnu, and each of Vishnu's avatara has its own significance. In Melville's parody of comparative mythology in two chapters of Moby-Dick, he evinces a detailed knowledge of the first of Vishnu's ten principal avatars, the Matse or Fish. The Confidence-Man demonstrates a detailed knowledge of all the principal avatars and of the significance of the minor avatars. To comprehend The Confidence-Man, one must share part of this knowledge. For Vishnu's avatars coherently order the ambiguities of Black Guinea's list of avatars.

Each of the three Mardian exemplars of the redeeming avatar sails on the Fidèle. The Confidence-Man's subject is the Christ, the Alma of Mardi. The Confidence-Man's first sentence compares Christ's embodiment, the lamb-like man, to Manco Capac, the Manko of Mardi. Vishnu, the incarnate Brami of Mardi, forms the structure of The Confidence-Man and provides the figure of the apparently redeeming avatar.

The "advent" of the lamb-like man comes suddenly and appropriately as the sun rises on April first, the day when the sun's northward equatorial crossing is celebrated variously in the various parts of the world. The book begins: "At sunrise on a first of April, there appeared, suddenly as Manco Capac at the lake Titicaca, a man in cream-colors, at the water-side in the city of St. Louis." As the sun passes from Pisces to Aries, while the Jews are eating the paschal lamb and waiting for the Messiah's herald, while the Christians are celebrating the Resurrection of the paschal Lamb, the Messiah, and while the

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French are crying "poisson d'avril" at the victims of harmless little jokes, one of the passengers assembled on the "cross-wise balcony" of the Fidèle looks down at the sleeping lamb-like man and exclaims "Odd fish!" As Moby-Dick tells us, the first avatar of Vishnu was as a fish.

The second avatar was as a tortoise. The message of the "odd fish" sets up the good merchant for the tortoise-like Black Guinea; Black Guinea then sets up the good merchant for the next avatar by "shuffling a pace nigher" in order to cover the merchant's business card with "his one advanced leather stump." Black Guinea lists eight other major avatars of himself and "ever so many" minor avatars; after the fish and the tortoise there are eight major avatars of Vishnu and innumerable minor avatars. [34]

We have already seen how The Confidence-Man hints of many avatars, how Black Guinea's list equivocates and is equivocated by the blending, fading, and shape-shifting of the Fidèle's passengers as "these varieties of mortals blended their varieties of visage and garb." [35] Krishna, whose name means "black," the antepenultimate and most popular avatar of Vishnu, in a special revelation in the Bhagavad Gita shows his real nature, which is usually unseen by the eyes of man, to his companion: "Behold, O Arjoon, my million forms divine, of various species, and diverse shapes and colours." [36] Krishna explains, in fact, that he is omnipresent. Vishnu as Krishna also explains the occasions and purposes of his avatars:

"Although I am not in my nature subject to birth or decay, and am the lord of all created beings; yet, having command over my own nature, I am made evident by my own power; and as often as there is a decline of virtue,-and an insurrection of vice and injustice, in the world, I make myself evident; and thus I appear, from age to age, for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of virtue." [37]

The salvation offered to the just by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita is an escape from the continual cycles of metempsychosis, an absorption into the godhead instead of a rebirth into the world. As Krishna explains to his disciple, those "whose confidence is in him... go from whence they shall never return." [38] The Confidence-Man ends when

34. Bulfinch's Age of Fable, which appeared in Boston two years before The Confidence-Man, enumerates only the Fish, the Tortoise, the Krishna, the Buddha, and the Kalki avatars, and indicates that there are ten major and numerous minor avatars; see pp. 427-28.

35. In Clarel, III, vi, 84-86, Derwent uses this plurality of gods in his psychological theory of religion, claiming that the imagination of "tropic India... breeds gods like seeds."

36. The Bhagvat-Geeta, translated, with notes, by Charles Wilkins, facsimile reproduction from the 1785 edition (Gainesville, Fla., 1959), p. 89. Wilkins's was the standard nineteenth-century edition.

37. Bhagvat-Geeta, pp. 51-52. Also quoted in History of Hindostan, 1, 491.

38. Bhagvat-Geeta, p. 59.

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the Cosmopolitan, after citing to the old man the Scriptural "Jehovah shall be thy confidence," leads the old man away into the night.

The Christian Trinity, although it distinguishes to a certain extent different attributes of God, defines no physical conflict among these attributes and leaves the human mind capable ultimately of only a metaphysical and mystical conception of its nature. English literature has been by and large unsuccessful in dramatizing the Christian Trinity; the attempts of Bunyan and Milton show the strain. But the Hindu Trimurti is dramatically visual. Vishnu and Siva, whether embodiments of metaphysical principles in physical conflict or merely representations of different attributes of Brahm, do clearly set beneficence against maleficence, preservation against destruction, the forces in nature and God that are friendly to man against the forces that are inimical. Most of the mythologists read by Melville tended to conceive of the periodic avatars of these conflicting principles in Manichean terms, comparing them most often to Ormuzd and Ahriman of the Zoroastrians and Osiris and Typhon of the Egyptians. The Confidence-Man also sets forth periodic avatars of two conflicting principles. From the moment that the cream-colored man's shield-like message of charity is held up against the background of William Cream's "NO TRUST" sign until the Cosmopolitan confronts Cream's distrust with a pledge of confidence, two sets of avatars confront each other. From their conflict of opposite principles is spun the narrative of the masquerade. In the final confrontation, after midnight ends the masquerade, the Cosmopolitan's confidence confronts the winking cynicism of the mysterious boy.

The patterned conflict between the avatars may be studied conveniently in the animals associated with them. The first lamb-like avatar is called a "Moon-calf." When Black Guinea replaces him, the lamb becomes a "black sheep" and the moon-calf becomes a "black steer." These animal transformations may perhaps be hints of the zodiacal revolution, but their more obvious significances are of greater importance. They establish the identity of the lamb-like man and Black Guinea, they constitute the first of the many metempsychoses in The Confidence-Man, and they define the kind of animals at first

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associated with the Confidence Man -- domestic or tamed animals. Black Guinea is also likened to an elephant opening his mouth for "tossed apples at a menagerie" and he calls himself, most meaningfully, "der dog widout massa." After he is compared to "a half-frozen black sheep nudging itself a cozy berth in the heart of the white flock," this flock is defined as a "flock of fools" by the first wild animal of The Confidence-Man, the first cynical cripple. When the cripple is called a wolf, a vulture, and a porcupine, and when he likens himself to a lion, the antagonistic counter-principle to the Confidence Man first becomes embodied. This counter-principle reappears as other wild animals. When the second cynical cripple appears -- in manner, morals, and metaphysics indistinguishable from the first -- as a hyena he claws the herb doctor. Before and after the second cynical cripple's appearance, the "poor, old rat" in an "old moleskin coat" blinking his "ferret eyes" twice engages the Confidence Man. This old miser is replaced by the wildest of all the Confidence Man's antagonists, the "ursine" Pitch, a "queer 'coon" who vacillates between being "all raccoon," "half wild-cat," and a "snapping turtle" as he badgers the Confidence Man.

As the first half of the book moves toward its close, the tameness of the Confidence Man becomes gradually more equivocal. When the mysterious Titan calls the herb doctor a "snake," a wild animal for the first time is associated with the Confidence Man. Then Pitch, identifying himself as a "coon," calls the herb doctor a "fox." Finally, the fawning doglike mannerisms of the PIO man, which recall the fawning mannerisms of Black Guinea, become in the mind of Pitch metamorphosed into the "undulating flunkyism... of the flunky beast that windeth his way on his belly." It is exactly at this point that the hand of the Cosmopolitan slaps Pitch's shoulder and the narrative moves into its doubly ambiguous second half. The snake who has just gone ashore, or has at least said that he was going ashore, at the Devil's Joke landing seems to reappear in several forms. After Indians are likened to snakes, both the riverboat confidence man and the Cosmopolitan seem to be metamorphosed into snakes. The animal transformations in the "wild goose chase" culminate in the figure

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of the mysterious boy, at once leopard-like, steer-like, and ("what sharp ears you have!") like the wolf who ate Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother.

The boy, embodying and uniting physical characteristics of the most important avatars of the Confidence Man, is also the last avatar of the Confidence Man's antagonist, the No Trust Man. He foreshadows the apocalyptic embodied union of the conflicting principles of preservation and destruction, of sympathy with man and antipathy to man, of confidence and distrust. For he is Muhakalu, an avatar of Siva, who "destroys all, or... absorbs all essences into himself at last," and who appears "clothed in red raiment," as "a smoke-coloured boy" whose "teeth are as large as an ogre's." [39]

All pointed and fluttering, the rags of the little fellow's red-flannel shirt, mixed with those of his yellow coat, flamed about him like the painted flames in the robes of the victim in auto-da-fe. His face, too, wore such a polish of seasoned grime, that his sloe-eyes sparkled from out it like lustrous sparks in fresh coal. (P. 277)

When the boy laughs "through his grime," he discloses "leopard-like teeth." He is the only avatar of the Confidence Man's antagonist who seems to be a party to the Confidence Man's joke. Just before leaving, the boy turns to the Cosmopolitan and says, "look a lie and find the truth; don't care about a Counterfeit Detector, do ye? or is the wind East, d'ye think?" The mysterious impostor from the East placarded on the first page of The Confidence-Man stands revealed, after midnight, in his last avatar.

According to contemporaneous mythologists, the ninth avatar of Vishnu was deemed by most orthodox Buddhists and most orthodox Hindus to be Buddha. But about this orthodoxy there was even less agreement than about most religious orthodoxies. There were other Eastern and Western theological and mythological explanations: Buddha was an earthly savior; Buddha was an earthly impostor; Buddha was not Vishnu but was the divine Savior (distinguished from what was deemed the orthodox Buddhist explanation, that Buddha was the last and greatest avatar of Vishnu as savior). And Maurice advanced still another explanation, which tried to resolve the

39. "The Hindoo Pantheon," Hogg's Instructor, V (185o), 349. Also "Hindoo Avatars," American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, 11 (1836), 128-31.

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puzzling contradictions posed by these others. He postulated two Buddhas, the first being the benevolent ninth avatar of Vishnu and the second an impious heretic who became the Chinese Fo. [40] This second Buddha, revered as a god, destroyed faith by saying at his death:

"Whatsoever I have hitherto told you concerning spiritual affairs, and a future scene of existence, is nothing more than an ingenious allegory. There are neither rewards or punishments after life. The principle of all things is an immense Vacuum; and human existence terminates in annihilation." [41]

Except for Maurice's finer points, these explanations offer nothing extraordinary. They are, in fact, the same controversial theories held about all the world's savior gods. We are most familiar with their application to Jesus Christ, elsewhere labeled by Melville the Western counterpart of Buddha. [42] All the orthodoxies, heterodoxies, and blasphemies of the Christian world begin by defining Jesus as either the divine Saviour, one of the incarnations of God, a great but mortal teacher, or a dangerous impostor -- insane, wicked, or merely deluded. Any of these theories might possibly be argued about the Cosmopolitan, perhaps or perhaps not the last avatar of the Confidence Man, perhaps an earthly or divine savior, perhaps an earthly impostor.

But what was considered the orthodox Hindu explanation of Buddha is quite unfamiliar to Western theology and atheism alike, for neither theologians nor atheists explain Jesus as God incarnate in order to deceive man. According to contemporaneous mythologists, this was how the Hindus explained Buddha: Vishnu descended to earth as a delusive avatar, Buddha, to lead his enemies into beliefs which would destroy them; Buddha was Vishnu incarnate as a deceiver. [43] This conception of the ninth avatar of Vishnu explains the Cosmopolitan, apparently the last avatar of the Confidence Man. It also explains how the Confidence Man represents all the world's savior gods.

The Hindu concept of mystical absorption into the omnipresent godhead may seem to our dull Western minds an annihilation masked by what we might call its pantheistic formulation. But Buddha,

40. History of Hindostan, I, 368-70.

41. Ibid., P. 370.

42. See Clarel, I, V, 204-5, and "Rammon," 11. 88-89 in Eleanor Tilton's variorum edition, "Melville's 'Rammon': A Text and Commentary," Harvard Library Bulletin, XIII (1959), 50-91. As Professor Tilton says, Melville chose Buddha as "a religious teacher who in character and doctrine would correspond to Christ, a correspondence he did not intend his readers to miss" (p. 91).

43. For a learned account see Vans Kennedy, Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology (London, 1831), pp. 262ff. For a popular account see Thomas Bulfinch, The Age of Fable (Boston, 1855), P. 427.

184                         The Destroyer's Eastern Masquerade                        

deemed the ninth avatar of Vishnu, taught a mystical absorption which to any mind might be annihilation. To the minds of the mid-nineteenth-century comparative mythologists, Nirvana meant not only annihilation but also an unbelievable kind of atheistic urge toward self-destruction. In the 1850's masses of commentary on Buddhism appeared in both books and magazines [44a] The writers were usually puzzled by Buddha's nature and almost always shocked by the nature of his teachings. [44b] They translated nirvana with amazed horror as "cessation of existence," and, when this translation seemed incomprehensible, they offered "the extinguishing of a flame or lamp" as a literal translation and visual explanation [45] The punning substitution of various Christian abstractions for flame or lamp then became a cliche of the Christian magazinists. By 1856, the year before The Confidence-Man was published, these puns had become so familiar that a popular magazine article which never made the literal translation ended with these touching words of sympathy to the poor deluded Buddhists: "thy lamp has gone out in the sad hope of an everlasting sleep." [46] An explanation which appeared in at least two popular magazines the year after The Confidence-Man shows what sort of thing Melville's audience was reading about the etymology and significance of Nirvana:

The original meaning of the word Nirvana is, "a blowing out," like the extinguishing [of] the flame of a candle. No other word could have been invented more expressive of extinction and annihilation; yet it has been denied that this is really the belief of Buddhism -- and that chiefly on the score of the discrepancy that exists between such a view and its supposed logical consequences, and the observed practice, of Buddhists. The dispute as to the meaning of Nirvana is, as Professor Max Muller has shown, not new; -- and he has successfully proved that, in the theory of Buddhism, extinction or annihilation is the end proposed. [47]

44a. The year before The Confidence-Man appeared, the Westminster Review in one article, "Buddhism: Mythical and Historical," reviewed six works (LXVI [1856], 296-331). The year after The Confidence-Man, the London Quarterly Review in one article, "Buddhism," reviewed seven works (X [1858], 513-44). Within a few months of the publication of The Confidence-Man other major articles on Buddhism appeared in the Eclectic Review (1857), the Southern Literary Messenger (three numbers in 1857), the Christian Observer (1858), the Mercersberg Review (1858), the Christian Remembrancer (1858), and Littell's Living Age (1858).

44b. Melville could hardly have shared the incredulity of most of his contemporaries. In the unfinished sketch "Rammon," which he apparently wrote years after The Confidence-Man, the title character axiomatically assumes that "cessation of being was the desired event" even before he hears "reports of Buddha and the Buddhistic belief." And in the poem "Buddha," published in the last year of his life, Melville suggests a comparison between Buddha's quest for Nirvana and James the Apostle's description of life as a vapor that passeth away.

45. These translations often come directly from Spence Hardy's influential Eastern Monachism (London, 1850).

46. "Buddhism: Mythical and Historical," p. 331.

47. Review of Rowland Williams's Parameswara-jnyana-goshthi: A Dialogue... in which Are Compared the Claims of Christianity and Hinduism (Cambridge, 1856), in Littell's Living Age, LVII (1858), 377 (reprinted from the Christian Remembrancer).

                        The Destroyer's Eastern Masquerade                         185

Another source, a popular travel book which appeared in English two years before The Confidence-Man, tells us that Buddha, looked upon by his worshipers as "'The Saviour of Men,'" "also substituted for his own name that of Gotama, that is, 'He who extinguishes and kills the senses' (go, senses, and tama, darkness)." [48] The extinguishing of the solar lamp by the Cosmopolitan is, of course, the symbolic act toward which The Confidence-Man moves; the extinguishing of the solar lamp naturally concludes the Confidence Man's teachings.

The temples of Vishnu, according to Maurice, were filled with "the stench of lamps kept continually burning," which symbolized "his GLORY, by horns, imitative of the solar ray." [49] In the "gentlemen's cabin" [ge'mmen's cabin?] in which the last scene of The Confidence-Man is played, "burned a solar lamp," which the steward said the captain had commanded "to be kept burning till the natural light of day should come to relieve it." The lamp's "shade of ground glass was all round fancifully variegated, in transparency, with the image of a horned altar, from which flames rose, alternate with the figure of a robed man, his head encircled by a halo." This figure is, as we have seen, the only candidate for Black Guinea's "ge'mman in a wiolet robe" who wears what is actually called a robe. Yet the solar lamp and its ground-glass shade symbolize heavenly truth and the solar god who brings that truth to earth. It is the "last survivor of many," burning on "inwardly blessed by those in some berths, and inwardly execrated by those in others": "here and there, true to their place, but not to their function, swung other lamps, barren planets, which had either gone out from exhaustion, or been extinguished by such occupants of berths as the light annoyed, or who wanted to sleep, not see." The Cosmopolitan says -- partly of the solar lamp, partly of the portable water closet which he has given to the old man for a life-preserver, partly of Providence -- "Pah! what a smell, too." Then "for the good of all lungs" he extinguishes the lamp before leading the old man away. If the Cosmopolitan is the last avatar of the solar deity -- Brami, Manko, Alma, the Confidence Man -- then why does he extinguish the robed man, the horned altar, the solar lamp, solar god, and solar truth which symbolize himself?

48. Abbe Evariste Regis Huc, A Journey Through the Chinese Empire, trans. from the French; 2 vols. (New York, 1855), II, 182.

49. Indian Antiquities, V, 85.

186                         The Destroyer's Eastern Masquerade                        

Hinduism, at least as it was understood by the contemporaneous mythologists, answers the question. The last avatar of Vishnu, who according to the Buddhists purged corruptions from the sacred Vedas, according to the Hindus willfully obscured the Vedas in order to destroy all who followed his teachings. For them, Vishnu as Buddha extinguished the light of Vishnu. This may seem a preposterous theological trick to us and it may have seemed preposterous to Melville, but perhaps not too preposterous to use for dramatizing, in comic terms, the tragic preposterousness of the teachings of his inherited solar Saviour.

The extinguishing of the solar lamp, the natural conclusion to the Confidence Man's teachings, signalizes an ominous sequel, perhaps an apocalyptic sequel. And the last words of The Confidence-Man are: "Something more may follow of this Masquerade." It needs no information external to the last chapter of The Confidence-Man and the last book of the New Testament to suggest that what may follow may be apocalyptic in every sense. [50] But information found neither in The Confidence-Man nor in the book of St. John the Divine may meaningfully explicate Melville's relation of the two books.

The last major avatar listed by Black Guinea is the "ge'mman as is a sodjer," for which we found many not entirely satisfactory candidates among the passengers of the Fidèle. The last major avatar of Vishnu is that which is to come, Kalki the Destroyer, armed, leading a white horse. The comparative mythologists were startled by the similarities between Kalki and the white horseman, the armed Logos of Revelation 19, between the Christian and Hindu final comings.

Buddha, the last avatar so far, is the only avatar to appear in this fourth and final age of man, the Cali ("Time") Yug. But at the end of this Yug, Vishnu will descend for the last time, assuming the attributes of Siva the Destroyer, his counter-principle in the Trimurti. [51] At this time, "scarcely any vestiges of justice or piety will remain among mankind, who, degraded equally in stature as intellectual vigour, are considered at the end of that period [the Cali Yug] as ripe for the scythe that is doomed to mow them down." [52]

In an earlier chapter I suggested the following as one of Melville's

50. See Schroeder, "Sources and Symbols for Melville's Confidence-Man," p. 374 for a relation between the lamp, robe, and altar of The Confidence-Man and those of the book of St. John the Divine.

51. See Asiatick Researches, VIII, 53.

52. History of Hindostan, III, 121.

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possible reasons for not choosing the Hindu rather than the Egyptian myth for the structure of Moby-Dick: since the cosmic struggle between Vishnu and Siva is ultimately resolved into the unity of the Trimurti, this struggle could not support Moby-Dick's tragic conception. For this very reason, because Vishnu and Siva are ultimately one, their struggle could very well support The Confidence-Man's comic conception. Melville made the shape-shifting struggles and the ultimate identity of Vishnu and Siva into the central structural fact of The Confidence-Man. Confidence and distrust, tame animals and wild animals, love and hate -- all become indistinguishable in a universe in which black is only another appearance of white.

In this universe man's Savior -- Manco Capac, Vishnu, Christ, Apollo, the Buddhists' Buddha -- is embodied by the Confidence Man, who is also man's Destroyer -- Satan, Siva, the Hindus' Buddha. Melville's mythology converts all gods into the Confidence Man.

Robert A. Rees

"Melville's Alma and
The Book of Mormon"

Emerson Society Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 2 (2nd qtr. 1966)

41-46 (excerpt)

Transcriber's comments

Copyright © 1966, Ralph Waldo Emerson Society. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.




In letters to three different people, not long after Mardi had been published, Melville spoke of what he felt was its latent excellence. To his father-in-law Judge Lemuel Shaw, he wrote, "Time, which is the solver of all riddles, will solve 'Mardi.'" [1] In a letter to Richard Bentley, 5 June 1849, Melville assured him, 'Mardi' in its higher purposes, has not been written in vain" (Letters, p. 86) and added in a letter the following month, "Your report concerning 'Mardi' was pretty much as I expected; but you know perhaps that there are goodly harvests which ripen late, especially when the grain is strong" (Letters, p. 87). And to his friend Evert Duyckinck, to whom he was sending a gift copy of Mardi, he likened the novel to a plant, "...a plant, which tho' now unblown (emblematicaly [sic], the leaves, you perceive, are uncut) may possibly -- by some miracle, that is -- flower like the aloe, a hundred years hence -- or not flower at all, which is more likely by far, for some aloes never flower." Further showing his confidence he added that Mardi ought to be sealed with "a bit of old parchment (from some old Arabic M.S.S. on Astrology) tied round each volume, & sealed on the back with a Sphynx, & never to be broken till the aloe flowers --" (Letters, p. 102).

Melville was almost prophetic in these letters, for only within the past few years have scholars begun to unseal the parchment of meaning in which Mardi is bound and to look at it as an important document in the development of Melville's literary genius. Perhaps the Mardi aloe finally flowered when James Baird praised it: "...this book is the most important of all American experimental literary works documenting the development of the symbolistic imagination." [2] For the first time, as Merrell Davis and Harrison Hayford have pointed out, Melville followed the impulse to write for "truth" rather than money. [3]

This paper is an attempt to discuss the possible influence of The Book of Mormon, hitherto not discussed in relation to Melville's writing and not listed by Merton M. Sealts, Jr., in his valuable study, "Melville's Reading." But as Sealts points out, "it must not be forgotten that Melville read and sometimes in his own works cited more books than can be found in records of purchases and library loans. Important as they are, therefore, these listings [of books known to have been read or borrowed by Melville] do not tell the full story of his voluminous reading during these productive years." [4] Melville could have encountered The Book of Mormon in one of the many libraries to which he had access. [5] He might even have known Mormon missionaries who had been distributing copies since 1830, especially in the Eastern and New England states. [6] Of interest to Melville would have been the Mormon teaching that The Book of Mormon was a history of the ancestors of the Polynesians.

The only specific mention of The Book of Mormon in Melville's writing appears in the twenty-first chapter of Pierre, published three years after Mardi. Here it is listed with five other volumes given to Plotinus Plinlimmon by a certain rich nobleman: Cardan, Epictetus, Abraham Tucker, Condorcet, and the "Zenda-Vesta." Plinlimmon refuses this gift, not even bothering to open it. He tells the nobleman that it was "missent." The questions that immediately arise are: What do these books have in common that would cause Plinlimmon to reject them? And what is significant about his rejection of them?

Plinlimmon is the author of "Chronometricals and Horologicals," a pamphlet which the exiled Pierre finds in a coach on his way to New York from Saddle Meadows, its essence being that there is a vast solecism between the morality expressed in the Sermon on the Mount and that found in the actual world. Christ's morality was meant not as a rule of conduct for this life but the life hereafter. In fact, argues Plinlimmon, if a man tries to live by this higher law he will bring "woe and death" upon himself as Christ foolishly did. Plinlimmon calls his morality "A virtuous expediency." [7] Later we find Plinlimmon, who is the leader of a religious sect, a hypocrite. (He drinks wine even though he admonishes his followers not to.) When Pierre meets Plinlimmon he feels that there is an atmosphere of inscrutability and an aura of "non-Benevolence" about him. Plinlimmon is an anti-Christ

[1] The Letters of Herman Melville, ed. Merrell Davis and W11l1am H. Gilman (New Haven, 1960) -- hereafter referred to as Letters. Phillip Graham takes this to mean that Time itself is the key to understanding Mardi and re-interprets the novel with Time as the central element of structure. (See, "The Riddle of Mardi: A Re-interpretation," University of Texas Studies in English, XXXVI, 93-99 [1959].) It seems clear that Melville did not mean this to be a cryptic remark about philosophical time, but was only saying that the passage of time would show that the novel had worth. Merrell Davis ("The Flower Symbolism in Mardi," Modern Language Quarterly, II, 625-638 [1942]), feels that here Melville was looking to the future and challenging the later critics of Mardi" (p. 625).

[2] Ishmael (Baltimore, 1956), p. 192.

[3] "Herman Melville as Office Seeker," Modern Language Quarterly, X, 172 (1949).

[4] "Melville's Reading: Check-list of Books Owned and Borrowed by Herman Melville," Harvard Library Bulletin, II, 156 (1948).

[5] By the time Mardi was written The Book of Mormon had gone through three editions (1830, 1838, and 1841) totaling 18,000 copies.

[6] Melville's allusion in The Confidence Man to a "Green Prophet from Utah" (Chapter 2) could have reference only to a Mormon missionary, many of whom were sent on missions while still in their teens. If Melville went down the Mississippi after visiting his uncle, Thomas Melville, in Galena, Illinois, in 1840 as John W. Nichol suggests in "Melville and the Midwest," (PMLA, LXVI [1951], 613-625), he went within a few hundred yards of Nauvoo, a town the Mormons were then building into the largest city in Illinois. On such a trip he would have had many opportunities to meet and hear about the Mormons.

[7] Pierre or, The Ambiguities (N.Y., 1957), Book XIV pp. 293-300.


in that he rejects Christ's principles of moral conduct.

All of the books or authors rejected by Plinlimmon contain teachings antithetical to his philosophy or morality. Abraham Tucker (1705-1774), the English philosopher and moralist, in his The Light of Nature Pursued, [8] encourages the imitation of Christ and denounces hypocrisy and non-benevolence. Marie Jean de Condorcet (1743-1794), although an anti-religionist of sorts, believed both in the natural goodness and the perfectibility of man. [9] The teachings of Epictetus (ca. A.D. 50), a Greek Stoic philosopher, closely parallel those of Christ. Jerome Cardan (Girolamo Cardano, 1501-1576) the Italian physician, mathematician, philosopher, and astrologer felt that "if men would have reverence for the commands of heaven... they would live more devoutly and would lead exemplary lives." [10] The principal virtues of Zoroastrianism as taught in the Zend-Avesta, are "truthfulness, righteousness, loyalty, cleanliness, industry, a peaceful disposition, and charitable activity..." [11] The Book of Mormon's purpose, as stated in the preface, is "...the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that JESUS IS THE CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself to all nations..." Its Christian teachings closely parallel those of the New Testament.

The fact that all these books contain elements antithetical to Plinlimmon's philosophy is evidence that Melville knew something of the contents of each and had reason for placing them together, Since Plinlimmon does not see the books but refuses the package without opening it, his rejection is intended to be symbolical. In this way Melville demonstrated that Plinlimmon's rejection of Christ was irrational.

The greatest evidence of Melville's having read The Book of Mormon, however, is the parallel between the character Alma in Mardi and two characters of the same name in The Book of Mormon. [12]

In Melville's Mardi: A Chartless Voyage, Merrell Davis suggests two sources for the name "Alma": The Faery Queen, Book II, Cantos ix and xi and Matthew Prior's poem, "Alma or the Progress of the Mind." Actually there is little resemblance between the Alma of Mardi (who represents Christ) and the Almas of Spenser and Prior, both of whom are allegorical female characters. In The Faery Queen Alma signifies the dominance of the spiritual over the physical. As the personification of the soul she serves as a guide to Sir Guyon and Prince Arthur. There is little character development in Spenser's Alma. [13]

Prior's Alma represents the soul in its progress in the body and life of man. A supposed dialogue between Prior and his friend Richard Shelton, the poem is essentially a comment on the weaknesses of contemporaries and the vanity of human wishes. Of the Cambridge Wits, Prior says,
Alma, they strenuously maintain,
Sits cock-horse on her throne the
Wise nature likewise, they suppose,
Has drawn two conduits down our nose:
Could Alma else with judgment tell
When cabbage stinks, or roses smell? [14]
Melville's Alma and the Almas mentioned above have little in common.

Although we never see Alma in Mardi, we hear much about him from one of his disciples at Serenia and from Taji's companions. In the chapter, "They Discourse of Alma," Mohi tells his fellow travelers (Taji, Yoomy, Babbalanja, and Media) that Alma was "an illustrious prophet and teacher divine" who appeared in earlier times under different titles ("Brami" and "Manko"), but whose final and most important avatar was as Christ: "...adapting his lessons to the improved conditions of humanity, the divine prophet had completely unfolded his scheme; as Alma, he had made his last revelation." [15] After Mohi tells of Alma's purpose in visiting the world, a discussion follows about the discrepancy between his teachings and the practices of his followers. And though they determine that this variance is due to their misconceptions of the teachings and not to Alma himself, Mohi is unsuccessful in convincing his friends to follow Alma. Media says, "Well, well, your Alma's faith concerns not me..." and Yoomy says, "I reject it. Could I, I would not believe it" (p. 286, cxiii). And, unconverted, they sail to the next island.

The subject of Alma arises again when they reach Serenia (an earthly Christian utopia) where they are welcomed as "brothers." One of the travelers asks, "Call ye us brothers, whom ere now ye never saw?" And the old man who greeted

[8] This is the only volume rejected by Plinlimmon that Sealts lists as having been read by Melville. (HLB, IV, 101).

[9] See Marie Jean de Condorcet, Outlines of an Historical View of the progress of the Human Mind, (Philadelphia, 1796), pp. 253-266; and J. Salwyn Schapiro, Condorcet and the Rise of Liberalism (N.Y., 1934), p. 180.

[10] The Book of My Life, trans. Jean Stoner (N.Y.. 1930), p. 79.

[11] Non-Christian Religions A to Z, ed. under the supervision of Horace L. Friess (N.Y., 1957), p. 240.

[12] I am indebted to Professor Robert K. Thomas of Brigham Young University for first suggesting the possibility of a parallel study of Melville's Alma and The Book of Mormon.

[13] In "A Note on Melville's Use of Spenser: Hautia and the Bower of Bliss," (American Literature, XXIV, 83-85 [March 1952]), Nathalia Wright points to six parallels between Canto xii of Book II of The Faery Queen and chapters cxciii and cxciv of Mardi. This would argue for the fact that Melville was acquainted with the Alma of The Faery Queen.

[14] Matthew Prior, The Poetical Works, 2 vols. (Boston, 1875), vol. II, pp. 29-30; Canto i, lines 29, 30; 47-50.

[15] Mardi: And a Voyage Thither (N.Y., 1925); pp. 283-284, chapter cxiii -- hereafter the page and chapter numbers will be cited in the text.


them says, "Even so, is not Oro [God] the father of all? Then are we not brothers? Thus Alma, the Master, hath commanded" (pp. 520-521, clxxxvii).

In Serenia the real and the ideal are one: its inhabitants take care of the fatherless and the poor; they love their enemies; they pay little heed to formalized religion and creeds. After observing this society, governed completely by love, all the group except Taji are converted to Alma's religion (clxxxvii).

After going with him through the rest of the islands, Taji's friends try to persuade him to return to Serenia. Says Media "Away! thy Yillah is behind thee, not before. Deep she dwells in blue Serenia's groves; which thou wouldst not search" (p. 541, cxciii). But Taji desires to be the "unreturning wanderer," and leaving his friends to return to Serenia he sails off into eternity in quest of Yillah, his lost love.

The two Almas of The Book of Mormon [16] are Alma the Elder (ca. 173-91 B. C.) and his son, Alma the Younger (ca. 135-73 B.C.). Alma the Elder had been a priest of the wicked King Noah before his conversion to Christ. He left King Noah to preach and was successful in converting many people. Alma and his son Alma the Younger dominate the next seventy-five years and the next hundred and forty-two pages of The Book of Mormon history. "The Book of Alma" is that part of the record kept by the two Almas and Alma the Younger's son, Helaman. It is the longest in The Book of Mormon, comprising almost one-third of the whole. It tells of the missionary trials of Alma the Younger and his companions and of their success in bringing the heathen to Christ; it also contains much Christian doctrine.

One association Melville could not have missed in reading The Book of Mormon is that of Alma and Christ. Whereas neither Alma in The Book of Mormon is Christ, both are prophets or disciples of Christ. The names "Jesus," "Christ" "Jesus Christ," and "Christian" together are found over eighty times in "The Book of Alma" and that part of "The Book of Mosiah" (Chapters 17-29) which records the history of the two Almas. Besides this, other names for Christ (God, Lord, Redeemer, Creator, The Good Shepherd, The Holy One, The Son of God, The King of All the Earth, The King of Heaven, The Only Begotten of the Father, Supreme Being, The Eternal Father, The Great Spirit) together are used hundreds of times in the record. More important, The Book of Mormon contains an account of the visitation of the resurrected Christ to the inhabitants of Ancient America.

Clearly, then, the Almas of The Book of Mormon are associated with Christ: they receive revelations from Him; they teach His principles to others; and they prophesy his coming. Most of the parallels between the Alma of Mardi and the Mormon Almas are also found in the Bible, but this would be natural since the Christ of The Book of Mormon is identical with the Christ in the Gospels. The problem still remains as to why Melville chose to call Christ "Alma" in his novel. The following discussion, I hope, will provide an answer.

Like Melville's Alma, the Mormon Almas are "illustrious prophets" and "teachers divine." What Mohi says of Alma could easily be said of them: "...[He] came to redeem the Mardians from their heathenish thrall; to instruct them in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good by promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe" (p. 284, cxiii).

During their visit to Serenia, the travelers learn that there is no king in Serenia, "for Alma's precepts rebuke the arrogance of place and power" (p. 523, clxxxvii). When Alma the Elder is offered the crown, he refuses it to be a teacher of his people: "And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people. But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that ye should have a king" (Mosiah 23:6, 7). Later Alma the Younger relinquished the position of chief judge to go on a mission to the heathen. Thus, both the Almas of The Book of Mormon and the Alma of Mardi are more interested in being teachers than rulers.

While they are at Serenia, the old man tells the visitors: "Where 'er we go, our faith we carry in our hands, and hearts. It is our chiefest joy. We do not put it wide away six days out of seven; and then, assume it" (p. 525, clxxvii). In The Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger says: "And moreover, I would ask, do ye suppose that ye must not worship

[16] The Book of Mormon professes to be a religious history of the inhabitants of Ancient America. In style and doctrine it is similar to the Bible. Perhaps its most salient feature is the account of a visit by the resurrected Christ. Mormon, a prophet and scribe, made an abridgment of the historical record. His son, Moroni, hid the record in a hill, and according to Joseph Smith, Jr., returned as a resurrected messenger to show him where it was hidden. Joseph Smith claimed to have translated the record and in 1830 published The Book of Mormon.


God only once in a week?" (Alma 32:11)

The gospel of love is central in the teachings of Melville's Alma as well as in those of the two Almas of The Book of Mormon. The old sage tells Babbalanja, "The Master' s great command is Love; and here do all things wise and all things good, unite. Love is all in all. The more we love, the more we know; and so reversed" (p. 525, clxxvii). Of Alma the Elder, we learn: "Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them" (Mosiah 23:15). This same theme characterizes the teachings of Alma the Younger.

All the Almas teach that this love should be carried into practical living. When asked whether or not they claimed to live by the teachings of Alma, the old man who had welcomed Taji and his companions to Serenia said,
"Nothing do we claim; we but earnestly endeavour."
"Tell me not of your endeavours, but of your life."
"What hope for the fatherless among ye?"
"Adopted as a son."
"Of one poor, and naked."
"Clothed, and he wants for naught."
"If ungrateful, he smite you?"
"Still we feed and clothe him"
        (p. 521, clxxxvii).
In Alma 1:30, we are told of the followers of Alma the Younger, "Thus in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished..."

When asked about their social state, Alma's disciple says, "It is imperfect, and long must so remain. But we make not the miserable many support the happy few... By the abounding, the needy are supplied" (p. 523, clxxxvii). This is similar to Alma the Elder's teaching: "And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, every one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given" (Mosiah 18: 27).

In speaking of those who hypocritically profess godliness, Alma's disciple tells the visitors, "He who hourly prays to Alma, but lives not up to world-wide love and charity -- that man is more an unbeliever than he who verbally rejects the Master, but does his bidding. Our lives are our Amens" (p. 522, clxxxii). When Alma the Younger goes on a mission to reclaim the degenerate Zoramites, he criticizes hypocrisy in their prayers and stresses the importance of charity over outward form. (Alma 31:22, 23)

This same episode with the Zoramites contains other similarities with the Alma of Serenia. After preaching at some length among them, Alma and his companions began to have success "among the poor class of people": "for behold, they were cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel -- Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness." As Alma preached to the poor he said, "Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do? -- for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God. Behold I say unto you, do ye suppose that ye cannot worship God save it be in your synagogues only?" (Alma 32:2, 3, 9, 10; see also 33:1-11).

Two things here are similar to the account of Alma in Mardi -- Alma's preaching to the poor, and his teaching that temples or synagogues were not necessary for the worship of God. We are told, "When Alma dwelt in Mardi, 'twas with the poor and friendless." And when Babbalanja says, "I see no temples in your groves," the old man replies, "Because this isle is all one temple to his praise; every leaf is consecrated his.... Ye speak of temples; -- behold! 'tis by not building them that we widen charity among us" (p. 524, clxxxvii).

But, we are told, Alma didn't go to the poor alone: "From lowly places, he looked up, and long invoked great chieftains in their state; and told them all their pride was vanity; and bade them ask their souls" (p. 526, clxxxii). Similarly, The Book of Mormon Almas cry repentance to the Kings and rulers of their time.

The most important parallel between Melville's Alma and the Mormon Almas is that both are clearly associated with Christ. In addition, both are prophets and teachers; both rebuke kingship to administer to the poor; both are concerned


with regenerating the heathen; both condemn a mere sabbath religion; both emphasize the Christian principle of love; both teach the importance of carrying religion into practical living; both condemn prayer without righteous living; both emphasize that it isn't necessary to worship in temples or synagogues; and both are concerned over those of high station. Other parallels not touched upon here can readily be found.

That Melville could have used The Book of Mormon in writing Mardi is apparent. Nathalia Wright has said concerning his use of the Bible, "Biblical lore is indiscriminately mixed with ancient and medieval history in Melville's attempt to create an indefinite, infinite background, and finally loses its separate identity. It is but part of the great past indistinguished otherwise in the sum of human experience." [17]

One last fact: In the letter to Duyckinck quoted at the beginning of this paper Melville compares the fate of Mardi to that of an exiled Mormon, an interesting comparison in view of the foregoing discussion. He says, "Again; (as the divines say) political republics should be the asylum for the persecuted of all nations; so if Mardi be admitted to your shelves, your bibliographical Republic of letters may find some contentment in the thought, that it has afforded refuge to a work, which almost everywhere else has been driven forth like a wild, mystic Mormon into shelterless exile" (Letters, p. 102; italics added). [18]

University of Wisconsin

[17] "Biblical Allusions in Melville's Prose," American Literature, XII, 199 (May, 1940).

[18] I am indebted to my friend R. Dilworth Rust for first bringing this letter to my attention.

(comments forthcoming)

H. Bruce Franklin

The Confidence-Man:
His Masquerade

(NYC: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967)

Ch. 1 (excerpts)
153-187 (excerpts)

Transcriber's comments

Copyright © 1967/2006, H. Bruce Franklin. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.

[ 3 ]


A mute goes aboard a boat on the Mississippi.

At sunrise on a first of April, [1] there appeared, suddenly as Manco Capac at the lake Titicaca, [2] a man in cream-colors, [3] at the water-side in the city of St. Louis. [4]

His cheek was fair, his chin downy, his hair flaxen, his hat a white fur one, with a long fleecy nap. [5] He had neither trunk, valise, carpet-bag, nor parcel. No porter followed him. He was unaccompanied by friends. From the shrugged shoulders, titters, whispers, wonderings of the crowd, it was plain that he was, in the extremest sense of the word, a stranger. [6]

In the same moment with his advent, [7] he stepped aboard the

1 All Fools' Day. See Introduction, pages xviii and xxv.

2 Manco Capac, the first Inca, an incarnation of the sun, appeared first in the form of a mysterious stranger at Lake Titicaca, between what are now Peru and Bolivia.

3 See Introduction, pages xix-xxiii, on the use of colors to identify characters.

4 The largest city in the Mississippi valley and situated just below the confluence of the Missouri with the Mississippi, St. Louis was commonly viewed as the symbolic crossroads of the West.

5 Note the combination of bird (down), vegetable (flax), wild animal (fur), and tame animal (fleece). This description also hints that what is to take place on the Fidele is an apocalypse; in Revelation (1:14) Christ first appears to John as one whose "head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow."

6 Various characters later in the book are designated simply as "the stranger." "The extremest sense of the word" points to its etymology from estra, "on the outside." As a central motif, the mysterious stranger embodies one fusion of man, his gods, the mystery and strangeness outside each viewer.

7 "Advent" first came into English as a strictly religious term to designate the coming of the Savior and hence the period preceding His appearance. Since 1843, when William Miller's Adventist prophecies gained widespread credence, various Adventist sects have been predicting

Copyright © 1967/2006, H. Bruce Franklin. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.

[ 10 ]


Showing that many men have many minds.

"Odd fish!" [1]
"Poor fellow!"
"Who can he be?"
"Casper Hauser." [2]
"Bless my soul!"
"Uncommon countenance."
"Green prophet from Utah." [3]
"Singular innocence."
"Means something."
"Spirit-rapper." [4]

1 The first avatar of Vishnu was as a fish (see Introduction, page xxvi). The fish is also, of course, a symbol of Christ. And the French cry poisson d'avril ("April fish") at the victims of All Fools' Day jokes.

2 A mysterious foundling who turned up in Nuremburg in 1828 with a letter giving his birth date as 1812. He said that he had been confined in a dark room all his life. His origin and the philosophical implications of his knowledge or lack of it became matters of great international interest. In 1833 he was stabbed to death by an unknown person who supposedly had lured him with a promise of information as to his origin.

3 "Green": unseasoned; Utah implies Mormons. Joseph Smith, the first Mormon Prophet, and Brigham Young, his successor as Prophet, were subjects of raging controversy. Smith was attacked as a vicious impostor or a witless enthusiast, Young as his worldly and ambitious Saint Paul. The Mormon "blood atonement" doctrine of 1856, which demanded -- and apparently produced -- much ritual spilling of blood, the Mormon bands of secret assassins known as Danites, and the territorial aspirations of the Mormons had all induced a violent reaction. While The Confidence-Man was going to press, an expedition of U.S. troops was assembling to march against the Mormons.

4 Somebody who professes to cimmunicate with the spirits of deceased persons by eliciting from them raps on a table (cf. Melville's story "The Apple-Tree Table or Original Spiritual Manifestations")...

Copyright © 1967/2006, H. Bruce Franklin. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.

70                                       THE  CONFIDENCE-MAN.                                      

"Now tell me, sir," said he with the book, "how comes it that a young gentleman like you, a sedate student at the first appearance, should dabble in stocks and that sort of thing?"

"There are certain sophomorean errors in the world," drawled the sophomore, deliberately adjusting his shirt-collar, "not the least of which is the popular notion touching the nature of the modern scholar, and the nature of the modern scholastic sedateness."

"So it seems, so it seems. Really, this is quite a new leaf in my experience."

"Experience, sir," originally observed the sophomore, "is the only teacher."

"Hence am I your pupil; for it's only when experience speaks, that I can endure to listen to speculation."

"My speculations, sir," dryly drawing himself up, "have been chiefly governed by the maxim of Lord Bacon; I speculate in those philosophies which come home to my business and bosom [8] -- pray, do you know of any other good stocks?"

"You wouldn't like to be concerned in the New Jerusalem, [9] would you?"

"New Jerusalem?"

"Yes, the new and thriving city, so called, in northern Minnesota. It was originally founded by certain fugitive Mormons. [10] Hence the name. It stands on the Mississippi. Here, here is the map," producing a roll. "There -- there, you see are

8 Bacon's dedication to the 1625 edition of Essays, Counsels, Civil and Morall claims that his essays "come home to men's business and bosoms." Bacon is referred to again in Chapter 24 and Chapter 37, there immediately after a reference to Seneca.

9 Revelation 21-22 describes the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem Church was organized by the Swedenborgians in 1778 (in Chapter 37 Swedenborg is mentioned in the same sentence with Seneca and Bacon). There was an actual New Jerusalem in Ohio.

10 This suggests a relation to the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, which was founded on the Mississippi in 1840 by the fugitive Mormons driven out of Missouri. The Mormons were expelled in 1846, and Nauvoo became in 1850 the seat of the Icarian community.

                                        Two  business  men                                         71

the public buildings -- here the landing -- there the park -- yonder the botanic gardens -- and this, this little dot here, is a perpetual fountain, [11] you understand. You observe there are twenty asterisks. Those are for the lyceums. They have lignum-vitae [12] rostrums."

"And are all these buildings now standing?"

"All standing -- bona fide."

"These marginal squares here, are they the water-lots?"

"Water-lots in the city of New Jerusalem? All terra firma -- you don't seem to care about investing, though?" [13]

"Hardly think I should read my title clear, as the law students say," yawned the collegian.

"Prudent -- you are prudent. Don't know that you are wholly out, either. At any rate, I would rather have one of your shares of coal stock than two of this other. Still, considering that the first settlement was by two fugitives, who had swum over naked from the opposite shore [14] -- it's a surprising place. It is, bona fide. -- But dear me, I must go. Oh, if by possibility you should come across that unfortunate man --"

"-- In that case," with drawling impatience, "I will send for the steward, and have him and his misfortunes consigned overboard."

11 See Revelation 21:6 and 22:1 for a description of "the fountain of the water of life" in the New Jerusalem.

12 Wood of the tree Guaiacum officinale; this lignum (wood) vitae (of life) represents the tree of life in the New Jerusalem, described in Revelation 22:2.

13 Selling sites in supposedly thriving communities, actually waste-lands, was one of the favorite swindles of the day. The present proposed transaction seems to have reference to the sale of a site in the "city" of Eden to Martin Chuzzlewit in Dickens' novel. On the Eden land Corporation map "were banks, churches, cathedrals, market-places, factories, hotels, stores, mansions, wharves; an exchange, a theatre; public buildings of all kinds;" but Eden turns out to be a deadly swamp. Chapter 23 of The Confidence-man describes the actual place which was the model for the Eden of Martin Chuzzlewit, Cairo, Illinois; see Chapter 22, note 38 on the relations with Dickens' novel.

14 Probably the first two fugitives, Adam and Eve.

Copyright © 1967/2006, H. Bruce Franklin. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.

[ 61 ]


A Charitable lady.

If a drunkard in a sober fit is the dullest of mortals, an enthusiast in a reason-fit is not the most lively. And this, without prejudice to his greatly improved understanding; for, if his elation was the height of his madness, his despondency is but the extreme of his sanity. Something thus now, to all appearance, with the man in gray. Society his stimulus, loneliness was his lethargy. Loneliness, like the sea breeze, blowing off from a thousand leagues of blankness, he did not find, as veteran solitaires do, if anything, too bracing. In short, left to himself, with none to charm forth his latent lymphatic, he insensibly resumes his original air, a quiescent one, blended of sad humility and demureness.

Ere long he goes laggingly into the ladies' saloon, as in spiritless quest of somebody; but, after some disappointed glances about him, seats himself upon a sofa with an air of melancholy exhaustion and depression.

At the sofa's further end sits a plump and pleasant person, whose aspect seems to hint that, if she have any weak point, it must be anything rather than her excellent heart. From her twilight dress, neither dawn nor dark, apparently she is a widow just breaking the chrysalis of her mourning. [1] A small [gilt testament is in her hand...]

1 The last victim of the man in gray here unites the book's most essential images -- the rising and setting of the sun and the metamorphoses of the butterfly. She, in her "twilight dress," and he, in gray, are both between day and night; "mourning" is a pun. The chrysalis, from the Greek chrysos ("gold"), is the pupa stage from which the resplendent butterfly, classic symbol of the soul and later identified with the metamorphosing Confidence Man, will arise. Note the "small gilt testament" which has been illuminated by the rising-sun figure of Cgapter 1.

Cecilia Konchar Farr

"The Philosopher with the Brass Plate:
Melville's Quarrel with Mormonism
in The Confidence-Man"

American Transcendental Quarterly
ns. Vol. 3, No. 4 (Dec. 1989)

353-361 (excerpt)

Transcriber's comments

Copyright © 1989, University of Rhode Island. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.


The Philosopher with the Brass Plate:
Melville's Quarrel with Mormonism
in The Confidence-Man

Cecilia Konchar Farr

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, describes the religious revivalism that pervaded his hometown in upstate New York in 1819, the year Herman Melville was born:
...there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all sects in that region of the country. Indeed the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying "Lo, here!" and others, "Lo, there!" (quoted by Berrett 7)
Both the Mormon prophet and our dark literary nay-sayer lived in an age in which the "centrality of religion in the American experience" was unquestioned (Douglas, Introduction 9). Certainly this religious fervor affected Herman Melville. And since the publication of Melville's first novel, Typee, critics have debated his place in it -- Christian or agnostic? Skeptic or believer? Prophet or devil? Because The Confidence-Man is Melville's final novel, many have looked to it to provide the last word on the state of Melville's faith. Some have, with The Oxford Companion to English Literature, finally defined the novel as "a mordantly nihilistic satire of human gullibility" (637). However, as John Bryant notes, "whether The Confidence-Man is a work of negation or affirmation is a richly contested matter" (33). Masked with irony. wrapped in deception. posing as a comedy, the book is, without question, problematic. [1] But whatever our conclusions about The Confidence-Man may be, it remains a central text in our exploration of Melville's search for religious Truth; a search that took him beyond his Calvinistic upbringing into German philosophy, Eastern mysticism -- even, as I will demonstrate, Mormon theology.

In a chapter devoted to The Confidence-Man, Lawrance Thompson says that "Practical Joker" was one of Melville's "uncomplimentary epithets for God." He adds that "much of Melville's

[1] Bryant's article, subtitled "Melville's Problem Novel," explores several approaches to The Confidence-Man, including allegorical, mythical, and structural, with varying conclusions. None of them, he decides, can claim to be a definitive study of the text.

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vituperation was aimed at human beings who let themselves be deceived by various agents of God" (297). The ship, Fidèle, represents "a m1crocosm of the world" and the passengers on board at the mercy of the confidence-man (or men) "are allegorically represented as making their faithful Christian soul-pilgrimages through life to death" (299). These pilgrims, Thompson explains, are divided into the faithful and the skeptical, a division quite appropriate to the temper of Melville's day and its spirit of religious revivalism. "The skeptical ones repeatedly insist that the confidence-man is trying to conceal the unvarnished truth; that he is merely using the term, 'God's Truth,' as a mask or front or blind, from behind which he can swindle. To the skeptical, then. the confidence-man's fake 'Truth' is diametrically opposed to the unvarnished truth" (303).

Truth and deception take center stage on the Fidèle as the confidence-man, an agent of God or the devil himself (or both), cheats and misleads the "pilgrims." The various characters the confidence-man assumes have been interpreted as representing prominent people of Melville's time -- Fanny Kemble, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Edgar Allen Poe -- and, by implication, conflicting doctrines of the day (see Foster, Higgins, Hayford and Trimpi). These satiric characterizations, Harrison Hayford affirms, "were used as available and appropriate embodiments of relevant ideas and attitudes, not simply as themselves" (350).

As Melville takes aim against these "various agents of God" and philosophy, he includes agents of the Mormon church, a widely-maligned offspring of the pre-Civil War revivalism. In the list of "epitaphic comments" which introduces Chapter Two of the novel is a "Green prophet from Utah," a definite reference to Mormonism and probably to Brigham Young, the prophet who led the church's exodus to Utah in 1847. In Chapter Nine "the man With the book" tries a real estate scam-selling property in the already completed but uninhabited "New Jerusalem... originally founded by certain fugitive Mormons... (and standing) on the Mississippi" (43). Though the city is said to be located in "northern Minnesota," it resembles Nauvoo, Illinois, which Mormons called "the New Jerusalem" or "the City Beautiful," Until their departure for the Salt Lake Valley after the death of Joseph Smith in 1846; up to 20.000 Mormons gathered in Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi, drained the "water lots" and built mansions, government buildings, and a temple -- "bona fide" buildings, most of them "now standing" empty and unused in 1857 (the year The Confidence-Man was published), as the man With the book explains. In a speech before the Historical Society of Philadelphia in 1847, Colonel Thomas L. Kane described this abandoned Mormon city of Nauvoo:

                                      The  Confidence-Man                                       355

I was descending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape In delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun. Its bright new dwellings, set in cool green gardens ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was crowned by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles. and beyond it, in the background, there rolled off a fair country chequered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry. The unmistakable marks of industry, enterprise and educated wealth everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.... I procured a skiff, and rowing across the river, landed on the chief wharf of the city. No one met me there.... I walked through the solitary streets. The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness.... I went Into empty workshops, rope walks and smithies. The spinner's wheel was idle, the carpenter had gone from his work bench and shavings, his unfinished sash and casings, fresh bark was In the tanner's vat, and fresh chopped light wood stood piled against the baker's oven. The blacksmith's shop was cold; but his coal heap and ladling pool and crooked water horn were all there, as if he had just gone on holiday. (quoted by Berrett 228)
Melville obviously found in this strange abandoned city a gold mine for irony. The confidence-man's descriptions of the lots in this city, With its "botanic gardens," "perpetual fountain," and "lyceums'" sound too good to be true (43). Contemporary readers recognize it immediately as a "Florida-swamp-land" scam. But it was, indeed, a legitimate operation -- a reasonable investment in a city (not just any city, but an abandoned "New Jerusalem") that truly was already standing, yet empty and unused. The investment only sounds like a con. Melville's confidence-man, then, can be understood either as a deceiver or as a Moses-figure leading his people home. Or, in Thompson's terms, he is either "using 'God's Truth' as a front" or he is speaking the "unvarnished truth." Melville, of course, allows this to remain ambiguous.

These two specific references to Mormonism, however, only serve to introduce several more complex references to Mormon theology which, though now obscured, would likely have been familiar to the readers of Melville's time, when Christian doctrines were hotly debated in pamphlets and newspapers. These references fill all of Chapter 22, a chapter which has never been as satisfactorily explicated as many of the others. If Melville was giving us agents of deception in his various confidence-men, it seems apparent that, given the tenor of his time, these agents would be as likely to represent religions as they are to represent schools of art or philosophy.

The most prominent agents of the Mormon church (then and now) were the missionaries who must have been often in Melville's neighborhood from 1832 on -- one of whom he describes in Chapter 22. Wearing a "brass plate" suggestive of the engraved, ancient

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metal plates (both brass and gold) from which Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon, the "round-backed, baker-kneed man, in a mean five-dollar suit," whining and bowing obsequiously, sells the philosophy of his organization. This organization, the "Philosophical Intelligence Office... founded on principles wholly new," is an employment agency, specializing in the "selling" of young boys (99). Significantly. the Mormon church since its earliest days has been committed to missionary work. performed mostly by its young men, beginning at age 19. An historical account of the missionaries sent out in 1838 states, "Never did missionaries begin their work under more heartrending conditions. Penniless themselves, with little extra clothing..." (quoted by Berrett 151). A conference of the Illinois leadership of the church in 1843 saw over 100 young men sent on missions, about a third of whom were sent to New York and New England, including a specific call to Worcester County, Massachusetts, just east of Melville's home in the Berkshires. [2] These missionaries would likely have worn "threadbare" suits with "shabby" tails and "frayed cravats," and carried pamphlets inspired by Smith's metal plates. Certainly they would have had infinite patience with "unbelievers" such as Pitch, patience leaning toward obsequiousness -- after all, they were sent out to convert people.

The exchange between "the man with the brass plate" and Pitch in Chapter 22 centers on the change from boyhood to manhood, with mention of the "physical" and "moral" aspects of man and his "free agency," all of which are key phrases in a discussion of the central Mormon doctrine of eternal progression. Literally at the center of their debate, halfway through Chapter 22, comes a significant reference to Adam as follows:
'Supposing, sir, (the philosopher with the brass plate says) that worthy gentleman... Adam, to have been dropped over night in Eden, as a calf in the pasture; supposing that, sir -- then how could even the learned serpent himself have foreknown that such a downy-chinned little innocent would eventually rival the goat in a beard? Sir, wise as the serpent was, that eventuality would have been entirely hidden from his wisdom.... To the point. Can it now with fairness be denied that, in his beard, the man-child prospectively possesses an appendix, not less imposing than patriarchal; and for this goodly beard, should we not by generous anticipation give the man-child, even in his cradle, credit?" (105-106)
Later "he with the brass plate" concludes, "In the natural advance of all creatures, do they not bury themselves over and over again in the endless resurrection of better and better? Madam, or sir, take back this adult; he may have been a caterpillar, but is now a butterfly" (l08).

Mormon theology teaches that God is a glorified and perfected man: he was not always God "from all eternity," but progressed to that point. According to Joseph Smith, "God himself was once as

[2] A complete listing of the missionaries and their calls is found in the eight-volume History of the Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) April 1843.

                                      The  Confidence-Man                                       357

we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.... I say if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form -- like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man'" (345). By living righteously by God's laws, Smith adds, we too, can become gods:
Then shall they (the obedient ones) be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject to them. (Doctrine 132.20)
Smith's doctrine calls on Psalms 82:6. "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.... and John 10:34, "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law. I said. Ye are gods?'" Brigham Young later elaborated on Smith's doctrine. which asserts that God "walked, talked and conversed with [Adam] as one man talks and communes with another" by calling Adam, too, a god, a statement which later became known in anti-Mormon circles as the "Adam-God'" theory. In Mormon theology Satan, too, takes the form of a man when he appears in the Garden of Eden, the serpent being only a metaphorical representation of his character.

Using Smith's doctrine as a touchstone to reread the passage about Adam as explained by "the philosopher with the brass plate.... it becomes highly suggestive of Mormon theology. Adam. that "downy-chinned little innocent.... eventually rivals "the goat in a beard.... This "goodly beard" represents god-like patriarchal power and knowledge, present only by suggestion in the young Adam, but for which he deserves credit as a god-in-embryo, as a man-child in his cradle of gods. Later, in Chapter 42, the confidence-man further blurs the distinctions between men, angels, and devils in his exchange with the barber:
"Ah!" turning round disenchanted, "It is only a man, then." "Only a man? As if to be but a man were nothing. But don't be too sure what I am. You call me man, just as the townsfolk called the angels who, in man's form, came to Lot's house; just as the Jew rustics called the devils who, in man's form, haunted the tombs. You can conclude nothing absolute from the human form, barber." (193)
Because Mormons know they can become gods if they are obedient, they are committed to constant self-improvement -- "the rake being crude material for the saint.... as the Mormon confidence-man says, perhaps. with reference to the polygamous men, who were often perceived outside the church as rakes, as sexually dissolute and debauched. Moreover, Mormons call themselves saints -- the official name of the church, since its organization in 1830, has been the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is not surprising, then, that the discussion between Pitch and

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the man with the brass plate shifts to sainthood and Saint Augustine, who was "a very sad dog" until his thirtieth year. "Not the saint," adds the confidence-man, "but the saint's irresponsible little forerunner -- the boy" (109). From caterpillar to butterfly, from lily-bud to full flower, from downy-chinned to goat-bearded, from boy to saint, from man to angel -- this seems clearly a discussion of the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression. The man with the brass plate contends (politely) against Pitch's cynical philosophy of "'the child is father of the man:' hence, as all boys are rascals, so are all men" (102). The basis of the confidence-man's belief in man's "moral purity" is the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression.

Also significant in this exchange are numerous subtle references to Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. At one point Pitch retorts to the man with the brass plate, "Ah, you are a talking man -- what I call a wordy man" You talk, talk." The confidence-man replies, "And with submission, sir, what is the greatest judge, bishop or prophet, but a talking man? He talks, talks. It is the peculiar vocation of a teacher to talk" (108). Judge, bishop, prophet, and teacher are all offices in the Mormon priesthood, and all titles for Joseph Smith, who, incidentally, did a lot of talking as ecclesiastical, military, and political leader of the Mormons until his death in 1844. (The official book of his collected sermons is nearly 400 pages -- in very small print.) Many of Smith's sermons and speeches were reprinted in local newspapers and included in widely distributed pamphlets where Melville very likely encountered them.

Melville also has the man with the brass plate use "a rustily martial sort of gesture, like a decayed corporal's," an unusual gesture for a business man and certainly for a prophet (105). But, as I noted above, Smith was also the military leader of the Nauvoo Legion, which at its height contained 5,000 men, armed and in full dress uniform. The physical description of the "philosopher with the brass plate" bears little resemblance to the Mormon prophet, though "the man in the gray coat and white tie" whose "countenance revealed little of sorrow, though much of sanctity" suggests popular depictions of the prophet, especially as this version of the confidence-man was involved in charitable work for the Indians. Smith was often portrayed preaching to the Indians, to whom he said the Book of Mormon spoke directly (24). Some of Melville's references in Chapter 22, however, bring the younger prophet readily to mind. Especially suggestive of Smith is the discussion of the 15-year-old boy who is "a very likely little fellow, indeed," who is uncommonly tall, stout, and industrious. Though Pitch doesn't "think him an angel," he decides to try him (111). It was at the age of 15, when he was a large, sturdy farm-boy, that Smith claimed to have first been visited by an angel.

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It is also interesting that Melville chose to have a wild, gun-toting Missourian be the "proselyte" of the Mormon confidence-man (110). Before the Mormons moved to Illinois, they established their "New Jerusalem" in Jackson County, Missouri, but were driven out by angry mobs. Because of the large number of Mormons who inhabited the settlements, functioning economically, politically, and socially to the exclusion of others in the state, they became intimidating to those already living there, especially as they threatened to upset the delicate balance of slave and free states. Mormons did not support slavery (the man With the brass plate has his P.I.O. Office in "a free state"), and thus provoked suspicion and anger in those who did. In 1846 these same tensions finally led the Mormons to abandon Nauvoo, their newly-built "City Beautiful," for the seclusion of the deserts of Utah.

Though the Mormons first arrived in Salt Lake in 1847, ten years before the publication of The Confidence-Man, the tensions between them and certain reactionary factions of U.S. citizens had continued to escalate, leading finally to the despatching of government troops in 1857 to clean out their polygamous settlements. Though the order was rescinded, it gained national attention and Melville was surely aware of it. Indeed, in the 1856 drafting of party platforms "the Mormon question" was a hotly contested issue between the Republicans and Democrats.

Four years earlier. in 1852, Melville first mentioned the Book of Mormon in the Plinlimmon chapter of Pierre: "...a foreign scholar, a rich nobleman, who chanced to meet (Plinlimmon) once, sent him a fine supply of stationery, With a very fine set of volumes Cardan, Epictetus, the Book of Mormon, Abraham Tucker Condorcet and the Zend-Avesta" (291). Though there is no evidence that Melville owned a copy of the Book of Mormon (it is not included in Merton M. Sealts's study Melville's Reading: A Checklist of Books Owned and Borrowed, though Sealts admits that Melville owned many books for which no historical documentation remains), Melville did own at least one of the volumes listed in Pierre, Abraham Tucker's The Light of Nature Perused (Sealts). Melville includes the Book of Mormon here in a context of interesting, though perhaps borderline eccentric, philosophical works. [3] The propinquity of the Mormon church to Melville's home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, would also suggest that he had heard some of its doctrines and could make use of them in his fiction. Most of the early converts to the church (which was first organized near Rochester, New York) were from New York and New England. Also, unlike most other religious groups which sprang up during the pre-Civil War rivalism, Mormonism didn't fade quickly away. It was growing rapidly then and has continued to attract adherents. (Today It has more than six million members.)

[3] Other writers and texts mentioned are as follows: Girolamo Cardan, an Italian mathematician and astrologer (1501-1576); Epictetus, a Greek Stoic philosopher (50-135 A.D.); Abraham Tucker, a British moralist (1705-1774): the Marquis de Condorcet, a French revolutionary and mathematician (1743-1794): Zend-Avesta, the sacred Zoroastrian text.

360                                                   ATQ                                                  

H. Bruce Franklin writes of the setting of The Confidence-Man:
America in the 1850's was a jungle in which all kinds of hunters pursued their quarry: slaves, factory workers, buffalo, Indians, Mexicans. Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, gold, land, and suckers. American troops had just seized almost half of Mexico, were now busy exterminating Indians from Florida to Oregon. and were preparing to attack the Mormons in Utah.... This is the immediate world of The Confidence-Man (xv).
Franklin has placed Mormonism uppermost in the tensions of the time, and rightfully so. Certainly, in Melville's study of this strange time, filled with contemporary allusions and political allegories, he, too, found Mormonism's unusual doctrines and history of victimization fit subject for his confused, violent fictional world.

In an era of religious awareness Mormonism contributed answers to the significant questions of the time -- questions of the nature of God, of Truth, and of man's innate depravity or moral purity. It is not surprising, then, that Melville, through Pitch and his con-man, debated the answers Mormonism provided, just as he questioned and exhausted so many other philosophical tools available to him in his search for Truth.

Michigan State University
East Lansing. Michigan.

Works Cited

Berrett, William Edwin. The Restored Church: A Brief History of the Growth and Doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City. Utah: Desert Book, 1961.

Bryant, John. "The Confidence-Man: Melville's Problem Novel," A Companion to Melville Studies. Ed. John Bryant. New York: Greenwood, 1986.

The Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City. Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1835.

                                      The  Confidence-Man                                       361

Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Foster, Elizabeth S. "Emerson in The Confidence-Man," The Confidence-Man, Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton. 1971. 333-338.

Franklin, H. Bruce. "Introduction to The Confidence-Man." The Confidence-Man Ed. H. Bruce Franklin. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1967.

Hayford, Harrison. "Poe In The Confidence-Man' The Confidence-Man Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton. 1971. 344-353.

Higgins, Brian. "Mark Winsome and Egbert: 'In the Friendly Spirit.'" The Confidence-Man Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton. 1971. 338-343.

Melville, Herman. The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade. Norton Critical Edition. Ed. Hershel Parker. New York: Norton. 1971.

---. Pierre, or The Ambiguities. Northwestern-Newberry Edition. Chicago: North-western University Press, 1971.

Sealts, Merton J., Jr. Melville's Reading; A Checklist of Books Owned and Borrowed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1938.

Thompson. Lawrance. Melville's Quarrel With God. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952.

Trimpi, Helen. Melville's Confidence Men and American Politics in the 1850s. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon, 1987.


(comments forthcoming)

Richard Dilworth Rust

"'I Love All men Who Dive:'
Herman Melville and Joseph Smith"

Joseph Smith, Jr.
Reappraisals after Two Centuries

(NYC: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009)

47-64 (excerpt)

Transcriber's comments

Copyright © 2009, Oxford University Press. Limited "fair use" excerpts transcribed.
See on-line BYU Studies Vol. 38 No. 1 for full text.


"I Love All men Who Dive":
Herman Melville and Joseph Smith

Richard Dilworth Rust

"I love all men who dive," wrote Herman Melville to a friend."Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; & if he dont attain the bottom, why, all the lead in Galena can't fashion the plummet that will. I'm not talking of Mr. Emerson now -- but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with blood-shot eyes since the world began." [1] Although Herman Melville probably never met Joseph Smith, he would have loved him as a "thought-diver." Melville said in his 1850 review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse (1846), "For genius, all over the world, stands hand in hand, and one shork of recognition runs the whole circle around." [2]

Why might one want to consider Herman Melville and Joseph Smith together? This juxtaposition helps illuminate striking similarities as well as significant differences in the lives and responses to life of two of the nineteenth century's most remarkable men, both pioneers in their respective fields. What editor James G. Bennett of the New York Herald wrote about Joseph Smith could apply to Herman Melville as well: he was "undoubtedly one of the greatest characters of the age." [3] Future generations, observed Josiah Quincy Jr., the mayor of Boston, might well identify Joseph Smith as the American of the nineteenth century who "has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen." [4]

[1] Herman Melville to Evert A Duyckinck March 3, 1849 in Correspondence, vol 14, The Writings of Herman Melville: The Northwestern Newberry Edition, ed. Harrison Hayford and others (Evanston and Chicago Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library 1968 - ), 121 all subsequent references to Melville s personal letters or published works are to this edition

[2] Herman Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses." in The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860, vol. 9, Writings of Herman Melville, 249.

[3] James G. Bennett as cited in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989-1992, 1:xiv.

[4] Josiah Quincy as cited in Jessee, Papers, 1:xiv.

48   AMERICAN  PROPHET                                                                              

Likewise, Melville's place today as one of the greatest writers of American literature is undisputed. These two contemporaries have given to the world enduring works in the Book of Mormon (1830) and Moby-Dick (1851).

Both Melville and Smith pondered the deep questions of existence, such as the relationship of man to God, the nature and degree of human agency, and the purpose of life. Their writings range widely in examining problems of mortality and immortality, the brotherhood of man, self-realization, response to either earthly or heavenly authority, seception and hypocrisy, and good and evil. (By writings, I am considering all that came from these men: the translations and revelations of Joseph Smith as well as his letters, journals, and recorded sayings; and Herman Melville's letters and literary works.) They both grew up in New York State -- Melville in Albany and Smith in Palmyra, locations separated by more than two hundred miles but connected by the Erie Canal. And while they were misunderstood and harshly judged during their lifetimes, their fame has increased during the last hundred years.

Herman Melville, according to noted literary critic R. W. B. Lewis, was "the one novelist in nineteenth-century America gifted with a genuinely myth-making imagination." [5] Joseph Smith similarly has been considered by the distinguished literary critic Harold Bloom to be "an authentic religious genius [who] surpassed all Americans, before or since, in the possession and expression of what could be called the religion-making imagination." [6] Yet Melville belonged to what Lewis called the party of Irony, while Smith could be considered to belong to the party of Hope. Melville had deeply probing questions; Smith, thinking as deeply but also calling on revelation, had answers to many of the very questions Melville posed. Both were willing to examine the questions thoroughly and honestly. Melville surely had himself as well as Hawthorne in mind when he said, "We think that into no recorded mind has the intense feeling of the visible truth ever entered more deeply than into this man's. By visible truth, we mean the apprehension of the absolute condition of present things as they strike the eye of man who fears them not, though they do their worst to him." [7] Melville engaged, as critic Stan Goldman puts it, in "the painful struggle between the human and the divine. As Jacob wrestled with the angel, as Job wrestled with God -- 'but I will maintain mine own ways before him' (Job 13:15) -- Melville also wrestled with 'contraries.'" [8] On his part, Smith believed that "by proving contraries,' 'truth is made manifest.' and a wise man can earch out 'old paths.['] wherein righteous men held communion with Jehovah, and were exalted through obedience." [9]

[5] R. W. B. Lewis The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1955), 127.

[6] Harold Bloom, The American Religion: The Emergence of a Post-Christian Nation (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 96-97.

[7] Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne April 16?, 1851, in Correspondence, 186.

[8] Stan Goldman, Melville's Protest Theism: the Hidden and Silent God in "Clarel" (DeKalb Northern Illinois University Press, 1993), 73.

[9] Joseph Smith to L. Daniel Rupp, June 5, 1844, in Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1962), 6:428.

                                                                    "I LOVE ALL MEN WHO DIVE"  49

Melville and the Mormons

While there is no record that he and Joseph Smith ever met, Melville was aware of the Book of Mormon and was informed (or misinformed) about the Latter-day Saints. Probably the nearest Melville ever came to Smith was in 1840, when a twenty-one year old Melville took a steamboat from Galena to Cairo, both in Illinois, passing the fledgling Mormon settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois, where Smith then resided. [10] Melville's one overt reference to the Book of Mormon is in his novel Pierre (1852), where he puts the volume in a packet of great books a wealthy admirer has delivered to Plotinus Plinlimmon. This foreign scholar has sent Plinlimmon "a very fine set of volumes -- Cardan, Epictetus, the Book of Mormon, Abraham Tucker, Condorcet and the Zend-Avesta." [11] As Robert Rees has pointed out, one characteristic these books have in common is their emphasis on benevolence. [12] But selfish Plinlimmon leaves the books untouched. Rather than accepting the wine contained in the new bottle of the Book of Mormon, Plinlimmon tells the scholar he would have preferred "some choice Curacoa from a nobleman like you." After the scholar probes him, saying, "I thought that the society of which you are the head, excluded all things of that sort," Plinlimmon responds hypocritically, "Dear Count, so they do; but Mohammed hath his own dispensation." [13]

That Melville found something commendatory in the Book of Mormon is also suggested, as Rees argues quite persuasively, by his use of the name Alma for his prophet-Christ figure in Mardi (1849). Melville's Alma "was an illustrious prophet, and teacher divine" who came to instruct the Mardians "in the ways of truth, virtue, and happiness; to allure them to good promises of beatitude hereafter; and to restrain them from evil by denunciations of woe." [14] Melville also identified his misunderstood novel Mardi with Mormons.
Again: (as the divines say) political republics should be the asylum for the persecuted of all nations; so, if Mardi be admitted to your shelves, your bibliographical Republic of Letters may find some contentment in the thought, that it has afforded refuge to a work, which almost everywhere else has been driven forth like a wild, mystic Mormon into shelterless exile. [15]
Mellville alluded to Mormons again in The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade (1857).One of the passengers on the steamboat Fidèle supposes that the lamblike man in cream colors is a "green prophet from Utah." [16] At one point in the novel, the swindling condidence man tries to interest a collegian in the New Jerusalem,

[10] Laurie Robertson-Lorant Melville: A Biography (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996), 83. Traveling past Nauvoo on steamship is also assumed in Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume 1, 1819-1851 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). 178.

[11] Pierre or the Ambiguities, vol. 7, Writings of Herman Melville, 291.

[12] Robert A. Rees, "Melville's Alma and the Book of Mormon," Emerson society Quarterly 43 (II Quarter 1966): 41-46.

[13] Pierre, 291.

[14] Melville, Mardi and a Voyage Thither, vol. 3, Writings of Herman Melville, 348.

[15] Herman Melville to Evert A Duyckinck February 2, 1850, in Correspondence, 154.

[16] Melville, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, vol 10, Writings of Herman Melville, 7.

50   AMERICAN  PROPHET                                                                              

which he says is "'the new and thriving city, so called, in northern Minnesota. It was originally founded by certain fugitive Mormons. Hence the name.'" [17] This "new and thriving" city founded by the Mormons calls to mind Nauvoo, although the northerly location and the reference to "fugitive" Mormons may also have reference to an apostate colony at Beaver Island, Wisconsin, once designated the New Jerusalem by colony leader James J. Strang, whose assassination in 1856 received national attention. The narrator of the novel implies skepticism about the city's "perpetual fountain" and "lignum-vitae rostrums" -- that is. "the fountain of the water of life" and the tree of life described in the Book of Mormon. And the narrator includes "Mormons and Papists" in his catalog of the "Anacharsis Cloots congress of all kinds of that multiform species, man." After listing "happiness-hunters" and "truth-hunters," he probably thought of himself as belonging to the category of "still keener hunters after all these hunters." [18]


There was much about the backgrounds of Melville and Smith that significantly colored their approaches to life. "Call me Ishmael," Melville begins his most famous novel, Moby-Dick (1851), presenting a character with a number of parallels to himself, just as he had previously done in the title characters of his novels Redburn (1849) and White Jacket (1850). An orphan (one who, judging by his name, had been cast out by his father), Ishmael goes to sea as a substitute for suicide. Even then, conditioned by his Calvinist training, he considers his vouage fated. The writer behind the character was also bereft of his father, who had died raving when Melville was twelve. One analysis of Melville supposes that he first knew the punitive Calvinist God "chiefly through the image of his own father." [19] Melville had a difficulr relationship with his mother, Marie Gansevoort Melville, a member of the neo-Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church. In fact Herman Melville said that she hated him. [20]

The opening of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith translated, is both roughly parallel to "Call me Ishmael" and significantly different from it. It starts, "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents..." (1 Nephi 1:1), declaring that Nephi is the narrator's real name and not just a name to be used on the occasion, and emphasizing the closeness of parents and son. Joseph Smith continually affirmed that he, too, had been born of goodly parents. His father, Joseph Smith Sr., was his confidant and friend, and his mother, Lucy Mack Smith,

[17] Ibid., 50.

[18] Ibid., 9.

[19] Walter E. Bezanson, "Historical and Critical Note," in Melville, Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land, vol 12, Writings of Herman Melville, 514.

[20] Philip Young, The Private Melville (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), 141.

                                                                    "I LOVE ALL MEN WHO DIVE"  51

provided the constant support of love and belief."Blessed of the Lord is my father," said Joseph,
for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years, and shall be called a prince over them, and shall be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood...

And blessed also, is my mother,...

...for her soul is ever filled with benevolence and philanthropy: and notwithstanding her age, she shall yet receive strength and be comforted in the midst of her house: and thus saith the Lord. She shall have eternal life, [21]
Heavenly knowledge began for Joseph Smith at age fourteen, when he earnestly prayed vocally for the first time to ask God for wisdom -- and received it directly from the Deity. When he was fourteen, the boy Melville worked in a bank in Albany and then briefly on his uncle's farm in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. But his major learning experiences came later. "Until I was twenty-five, I had no development at all," Melville confided to Hawthorne. "From my twenty-fifth year I date my life. Three weeks have scarcely passed, at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself." [22] At that point he had just returned from the sea with a store of whaling and naval experiences that he would use in his fiction and poetry to the end of his life. As with Ishmael, the whaling ship had been his "Yale College and [his] Harvard." [23] In his twenty-fifth year, Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon and organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One could say that Joseph Smith's most important "Harvard" experience was the instruction he received from heavenly visitants.

By age thirty, Melville was writing Moby-Dick; at that age, Smith had organized the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and dedicated the Kirtland temple, among his other accomplishments. Just eight years later, Joseph Smith was cruelly cut down at the height of his creativity. With the appearance of his skeptical work The Confidence-Man, in his thirty-eighth year Melville ended his career of writing fiction for publication.

During that year, 1857, with the support of his family, Melville went abroad to the Mediterranean and the Holy Land to restore his health and to see and to see if he could regain some faith. The book-length poem, Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876) is an imaginative account of that experience, featuring a variety of characters expressing diverse views on religion and other topics. Though no single character fully represents Melville, Clarel's question seems to be at the heart of Melville's quest: "Christ lived a Jew: and in Judea/ May

[21] Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972), 38-39.

[22] Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne, June 1?, 1851, in correspondence, 193.

[23] Melville, Moby Dick; or. the whale, vol. 6, Writings of Herman Melville, 112.

52   AMERICAN  PROPHET                                                                              

linger any breath of Him?'" [24] Subsequently, thinking of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Clarel expresses a longing for divine counsel: "I too, I too; could I but meet / Some stranger of a lore replete, / Who, marking how my looks betray / The dumb thoughts clogging here my feet, / Would question me, expound and prove, / And make my heart burn with love -- / Emmaus were no dream to-day!" [25]

On his way to the Holy Land, Melville told Hawthorne of his "noble doubts" and desires. In his journal of their visit near Liverpool in November 1856, Hawthorne muses.
Melville, as he always does, began to reason Providence and futurity, and of everything that lies beyond human ken, and informed me that he had "pretty much made up his mind to be annihilated"; but still he does not seem to rest in that anticipation; and, I think, will never rest until he gets hold of a definite belief. It is strange how he persists -- and has persisted ever since I knew him, and probably long before -- in wandering to-and-fro over these deserts, as dismal and monotonous as the sand hills amid which we were sitting. He can neither believe, nor be comfortable in his unbelief; and he is too honest and courageous not to try to do one or the other. If he were a religious man, he would be one of the most truly religious and reverential; he has a high and noble nature, and better worth immortality than most of us. [26]
Also an honest and courageous person, Joseph Smith at age thorty-eight was solidly sure in his belief. As he announced in his masterful King Follett discourse, he intended to edify his audience "with the simple truths from heaven." [27]

While their family relations and backgrounds were different, Herman Melville and Joseph Smith were alike in their thirst for knowledge. Merton M. Sealts's Melville Reading and Mary K. Bercaw's Melville Sources show that Melville, Like Ishmael, "swam through libraries." [28] The journals of Joseph Smith transcribed in the History of the Church and Personal Writings of Joseph Smith show a man who, despite enormous demands on his time, was constantly learning new languages (such as German, Greek, and Hebrew), engaging in extended discussions such as those that took place in the School of the Prophets, and receiving revelation upon revelation. In their desire for truth, both men gained ever-expanding knowledge. [29]

The search for truth is a theme found throughout Melville's writings."You must have plenty of sea-room to tell the Truth in," he said in his review of Hawthorne's Mosses, and in that review he implicitly includes himself with Hawthorne and Shakespeare as a master "of the great Art of Telling the

[24] Melville, Clarel, 25.

[25] Ibid., 26.

[26] Malcolm Cowley, ed., The Portable Hawthorne, 2d ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1969), 651.

[27] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 342.

[28] Merton M. Sealts Jr., Melville's Reading, rev. ed. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988): Mary K. Bercaw, Melville's sources (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1987); Melville, Moby-Dick, 136.

[29] Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d., rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971); Joseph Smith Jr., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. and ed., Dean C. Jessee, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002).

                                                                    "I LOVE ALL MEN WHO DIVE"  53

Truth, -- even though it be covertly, and by snatches." [30] Identifying Hawthorne in that review as "a seeker, not a finder yet," Melville allies with him, proclaiming, "I seek for Truth." [31] Nearly at the same age as Melville's friend Hawthorne, Joseph Smith, too, prized truth. He subscribed to the prophet Jacob's view in the Book of Mormon: The righteous "love the truth and are not shaken" (2 Nephi 9:40).

Diving out of Sight and Coming into View

Both during and after their lives, these forthright and genuine men were seriously misunderstood, their true characters unknown to many. One review of Melville's novel Pierre bore the bold headline "HERMAN MELVILLE CRAZY!" [32] In The Confidence-Man, Melville acknowledged that "the acutest sage [is] often at his wits' ends to understand living character." [33] Only the most eagle-eyed readers, Melville said, could come close to understanding him. Even his family hardly knew his inner life. The point is made somewhat humorously in the sketch "I and my Chimney" (1856), in which the narrator protects the base of his chimney -- symbolically, his ego -- from being threatened or exposed. [34] Isabel's last words concerning Pierre could well apply to Melville: "'All's o'er, and ye know him not!'" [35] Similarly, Joseph Smith stated, "You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it: I shall never undertake it. I don't blame any one for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not believe it myself." [36] Nor could he tell it all. "I have handled, heard, seen and known things which I have not yet told," he revealed. [37] Melville lamented, "What madness & anguish it is, that an author can never -- under no conceivable circumstances -- be frank with his readers." [38]

Yet both Melville and Smith left significant bodies of writings from which one can approach their personal histories. I grant that Melville is complex and ambiguous and that no one character in his fiction represents him in any direct way. I also acknowledge that during his lifetime he stated or implied changing and sometimes conflicting views on religious and other matters. Still, it could be said that Melville wrote out his life in his works, from his Polynesian adventures in Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), through his anguished experiences as an author in Pierre, to his examination of a father and son in Billy Budd (1924; posthumous). As noted frequently, Melville's works involve some form of a journey with a quest -- for beauty in Mardi, for truth in Moby-Dick, for virtue in Pierre.

To learn about Joseph Smith's life, one turns primarily to his journals and sermons; indeed, his 1839 history, with its account of his First Vision, is

[30] Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses," 246, 244.

[31] Ibid., 250.

[32] As cited in Leon Howard and Hershel Parker, "Historical Note," in Pierre, 380.

[33] Melville, Clarel, 69.

[34] Herman Melville, "I and My Chimney," in Melville, Piazza Tales, 352-77.

[35] Melville, Pierre, 362.

[36] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 361; J. Smith, History of the Church, 6:317.

[37] J. Smith, History of the Church, 6:291.

[38] Herman Melville to Evert A Duyckinck, December 14, 1849, in Melville, Correspondence, 149.

54   AMERICAN  PROPHET                                                                              

the core story of his life -- which, as he put it, is inextricably related to "the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Joseph Smith -- History 1:1). As with Melville's life story, Smith's is a repeated account of journey that include the migrations of the Smith family and the Latter-day Saints as a people. These journeyes replicate those found within the Book of Mormon: the journeys of the Jaredites, of the people of Lehi, and of Alma's people. Experiencing and writing about the journey archtype, both Melville and Smith consider themselves wanderers.

In regard to his journeying, Smith could affirm, "Go forward and not backward, Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!" (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22). Melville, though, wrote about a series of incomplete or failed journeys and placed elements of himself in the character Redburn, who felt "in early youth... the pangs which should be reserved for the stout time of manhood," and in Ishmael, who at times had "a damp, drizzly November" in his soul. [39]

Experiencing Darkness and Light

The emotional cloud over Melville is often represented as blackness. What Melville found in Hawthorne certainly was true of himself: "This great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin." [40] As Melville's biographer Edwin Haviland Miller believes:
Only a man who himself had experienced the despair that accompanies the blackness of depressions, where grievances or hurts are magnified against the background of overwhelming feelings of helplessness, could have created Ahab, Pierre, and Bartleby. These characters, in overwrought rhetoric or in its opposite, silence, are imprisioned in despair, feelings of ineffectuality, self-destructive rages, teertering on the brink of complete loss of control.If they are poised perilously at the abyss, Melville had preceded them there. [41]
Yet Melville found that "profoundest gloom" sometimes allows one to discover "deeper truths in man." "Utter darkness is then his light," he says, "and cat-like he distinctly sees all objects through a medium which is mere blindness to common vision." [42] "Every night, when the curtain falls." he says in "The Piazza" (1856)."truth comes in with darkness." [43] As with the totroise of the Enchanted Isles with its bright yellow underside and dark back, Melville believed that one should "enjoy the bright, keep it turned up perpetually if you can, but be honest and don't deny the black." [44]


[39] Melville, Redburn, vol. 4, Writings of Herman Melville, 11; Melville, Moby-Dick, 3.

[40] Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses," 243.

[41] Donald Yannella and Hershel Parker, eds., The Endless Winding way in Melville, ed. with new charts by Kring and Carey (Glassboro, N.J., Melville Society, 1981), 37.

[42] Melville, Pierre, 169.

[43] Herman Melville, "The Piazza," in Piazza Tales, 12.

[44] Herman Melville, "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles." in Piazza Tales, 130.

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Joseph Smith knew darkness. Regarding the Sacred Grove experience, he wrote, "Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction" (Joseph Smith -- History 1:15). Yet Satan's darkness was superseded in Smith's first vision by "a pillar of light... above the brightness of the sun" (Joseph Smith -- History 1:16). As there is a power of darkness in Melville, there could be called a power of light in Smith. Despite his persecutions, Joseph Smith prophesied that he would "stand and shine like the sun in the firmament." [45] He was like Gazelem's stone, "which shall shine forth in darkness unto light" (Alma 37:23). "That which is of God is light," he wrote, "and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day" (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). Conversely, "He that will not receive the greater light, must have taken away from him all the light which he hath; and if the light which is in you become darkness, behold, how great is that darkness!" [46]

These perspectives of Melville and Smith regarding darkness and light correlate with their views on human agency. The blighted Melville, with his early Valvinistic training struggled with matters of fate and free will. Surely there were times in his life when he felt the plight of a Pierre who "was not arguing Fixed Fate and Free Will, now; Fixed Fate and Free Will were arguing him, and Fixed Fate got the better in the debate." [47] Acknowledging a parallel between Melville and Ishmael, literary scholar Paul Brodtkorb says, "Whenever Ishmael contemplates time, fatality is the aspect of it that is most apt to concern him." [48] In contrast, Joseph Smith's position was that of Lehi in the Book of Mormon, who said:
And because... [the children of men] are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.... And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil. (2 Nephi 2:26-27)
Smith found through divine instruction that Presbyterianism, with its Calvinistic base, was wrong. And while living in the world of time, Smith "let the solemnities of eternity" rest upon his mind (Doctrine and Covenants 43:34).

Whether they were dominantly pessimistic or optimistic, both men understood evil. Melville describes Ishmael at the tiller at night, perceiving that "the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander's soul." [49] Tranfixed into a doze in which he nearly capsizes the vessel, Ishmael gives himself this admonition,

[45] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 69-70.

[46] Ibid., 95.

[47] Melville, Pierre, 182.

[48] Paul Brodtkorb Jr., Ishmael's. White World: A Phenomenological Reading of "Moby-Dick" (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1965), 84.

[49] Melville, Moby-Dick, 423.

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In discerning the good and evil, both men were exceptionally honest; they were maskless men in a world too often appearing as a masquerade. [53] As such, they were totally committed to seeking for, and speaking, the truth. "I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this," Melville wrote to a friend. [54] Yet he knew only too well how little the world rewarded truth-tellers: "Try to get a living by the Truth -- and go to the Soup Societies," Melville commented to Hawthorne. [55] For his part, Smith affirmed, "Water, fire, truth and God are all realities. Truth is 'Mormonism.' God is the author of it." [56]

Doubt and Faith

While seeking for the truth, Melville pondered how one can be sure of it, espe4cially as pertains to the unseen world. The degree to which he worked out his own questionings and grapplings in his fiction is evident in his novels. He has Pierre lamenting "the everlasting elusiveness of Truth." [57] In varying degrees through his life, Melville struggled with questions of doubt and faith. [58] "'Own, own with me, and spare to feign.'" he has Clarel say; "'Doubt bleeds, nor Faith is free from pain!;" [59] "Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination... makes a man who regards them both with equal eye," Melville's narrator says in Moby-Dick. [60] One can easily see Melville's alignment with this position expressed in Mardi: "'I am dumb with doubt; yet, 'tis not doubt, but worse: I doubt my doubt.... Would, would that mine were a settled doubt, like that wild boy's, who without faith, seems full of it. The undoubting doubter believes the most. Oh! that I were he.'" [61] Doubting his doubt, Melville was never bound to just one position. As he puts it in Moby-Dick:
There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, at at the last one pause: -- through

[50] Ibid., 424.

[51] Ibid., 423.

[52] Jessee, Papers, 1:187. Compare Matthew 6:23.

[53] In Confidence-Man, Melville ironically says, "Life is a pic-nic en costume; one must take a part, assume a character, stand ready in a sensible way to play the fool. To come in plain clothes, with a long face, as a wiseacre, only makes one a discomfort to himself, and a blot upon the scene" (133). Here Melville presents a view he assumed others would have had when he appeared without a costume at a local costume party in the Berkshires (Watson Branch and others, "Historical Note," in Melville, Confidence-Man, 295). For an extensive treatment of Melville's maskless men, see James Edwin Miller Jr., A reader's Guide to Herman Melville (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1998).

[54] Herman Melville to R. H. Dana Jr., May 1, 1850, in Correspondence, 162.

[55] Melville to Hawthorne, June 1?, 1851 [in Correspondence,] 162.

[56] J. F. Smith Teachings, 139.

[57] Melville, Pierre, 339.

[58] for critical explorations of Melville's religious struggles, see william Braswell, Melville s Religious Thought: An Essay in Interpretation (New York: Octagon Books, 1973); Stan Goldman, Melville s Protest Theism; Walter Donald Kring, Herman Melville's Religious Journey (Raleigh, N.C.: Pentland, 1997); Vincent Kenny, Herman Melville's "Clarel": A Spiritual Autobiography (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1973); Lawrance Thompson, Melville's Quarrel with God (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1952); and william Hamilton, Melville and the Gods (Chico Calif.: Scholar's Press, 1985).

[59] Melville, Clarel, 347.

[60] Melville, Moby-Dick, 374.

[61] Melville, Mardi, 339.

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infancy's unconscious spell, boyhood's thoughtless faith, adolescence' doubt (the common doom), then skepticism, then disbelief, resting at last in manhood's pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally. Where lies the final harbor, whence we unmoor no more? [62]
A critical difference in Joseph Smith's life was personal revelation. For him, revelation was new wine in old bottles. To objections about Latter-day Saints not admitting the validity of sectarian baptism, Smith responded that
to do otherwise would be like putting new wine into old bottles, and putting old wine into new bottles. What! new revelations in the old churches? New revelations would knock out the bottom of their bottomless pit. New wine into old bottles! The bottles burst and the wine runs out! [63]
As for the benefit of new revelations, he said, "Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject [of a future state]." [64] And he spoke from experience."The heavens were opened upon us," he testified on another occasion, "and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof, whether in the body or out I cannot tell." [65]

Heights and Depths

This searching out the things of God is often presented in images of descent and ascent. For instance, Smith said:
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity -- thou must commune with God. [66]

Joseph experienced the abyss in the jail at Liberty, Missouri, where, in his anquish, he was told by the Lord:
And if thou shouldest be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds

[62] Melville, Moby-Dick, 492.

[63] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 192.

[64] J. Smith, History of the Church, 6:50.

[65] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 107.

[66] Ibid., 137.

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become thine enemy: if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7-8)
Melville experienced and described adversity, too. Like Wellingborough Redburn, Melville lamented that "there is no minanthrope like a boy disappointed; and such was I, with the warm soul of me flogged out by adversity." [67] Through his character Babbalanja in Mardi he says, "He knows himself, and all that's in him, who knows adversity.To scale great heights, we must come out of lowermost depths. The way to heaven is through hell. We need fiery baptisms in the fiercest flames of our own bosoms." [68] In Mardi Melville further affirms, "If after all these fearful, fainting trances, the verdict be, the golden haven was not gained; -- yet in bold quest thereof, better to sink in boundless deeps, than float on vulgar shoals." [69]

Melville's movement through heights and depths is perhaps best illustrated in Moby-Dick by the the "Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar." [70] "All truth is profound." he further expounds in the same novel. "Winding far down from within the very heart of this spiked Hotel de Cluny where we here stand.... Wind ye down there, ye prouder, sadder souls! question that proud, sad king!" [71] In its extreme, this plunging into the depths takes a person from sanity to insanity: witness Pip, the black boy aboard the Pequod, who, left alone on the sea, has his soul
carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-mermen, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God. [72]

[67] Melville, Redburn, 10.

[68] Melville, Mardi, 594.

[69] Ibid., 557.

[70] Melville, Moby-Dick, 425.

[71] Ibid., 185-86.

[72] Ibid., 414.

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Melville's spiritual quest to see "God's foot upon the treadle of the loom" is most fully developed in his poem Clarel, which follows the pattern of his excursion to the Holy Land and culminates -- to that point -- a lifetime of questioning. As Stan Goldman shows, Melville's religious outlook in Clarel paradoxically combines dount and faith, despair and hope, anger and love, seriousness and scathing irony, in an attempt to find or to establish the limits within faith is possible, within which life endures and has meaning. Melville's characters in the poem have a full range of views on these matters. One character, the Anglican churchman Derwent, thinks that Clarel struggles with these issues too much."'Alas, too deep you dive,'" he says."'But hear me yet for little space: / This shaft you sink shall strike no bloom: / the surface, ah, heaven keeps that green; / Green, sunny: nature's active scene, /For man appointed true hime.'" [73]

Voyaging in Deep Water

Yet Melville finally had little sympathy with surfaces or land-based security. In Mardi he identifies himself as one who has "chartless voyaged" and who says, "Those who boldly launch, cast off all cables; and turning from the common breeze, that's fair for all, with their own breath, fill their own sails." [74} In Moby-Dick he admires Bulkington, who sees "that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea." [75] "'Of all divers.'" Ahab soliloquizes, the whale "'hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams has moved amid this world's foundations.'" [76] The end of that great novel is about descent with no compensating ascent: The ship and all but one of its crew sink to "one common pool." [77] And Ishmael -- with Melville standing behind him -- sees himself as a bereft Job, the one "who wrote the first account of our Leviathan." [78] The epigraph to the epilogue of Moby-Dick is the sad message repeatedly brought to Job by the four persons announcing the loss of his possessions and family: "'And I only am escaped to tell thee.'" [79]

Joseph Smith, too, kept the open independence of his sea. "Deep water is what I am wont to swim in," he said. [80] He was familiar with sea stories from the Book of Mormon's accounts of the voyages of the Lehites and Jaredites. The latter of these two narratives even records the potential danger if a destructive whale:
And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempasts which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.... And thus they were driven forth; and no

[73] Clarel 347

[74] Melville, Mardi, 556.

[75] Melville, Moby-Dick, 107.

[76] Ibid., 311.

[77] Ibid., 572.

[78] Ibid., 111.

[79] Ibid., 573.

[80] Jessee, Papers, 2:456. Compare Doctrine and Covenants 127:2.

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monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water. (Ether 6:6, 10)
The significant difference between the Pequod and the Jaredite barges is that the latter emerge unscathed. As well, in contrast to Ahab's fire-ship plunging into a "blackness of darkness," [81] divine help to the Jaredites includes light for their vessels when they are "swallowed up in the depths of the sea" (Ether 2:25).

Melville and Smith differ in their comprehensions of Job, however. When the prophet cries in anquish, "O God, where art thou? Amd where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?" (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1), he is comforted with the following revelation.
My son peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment.... Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7, 9-10)
Smith's suffering is not useless, for God speaks with and comforts mankind. Melville's Ishmael, alone, emerges to tell his lonely tale of plummeting to Job's depths. Smith's loneliness is arrested in the voice of God, foreshortening his suffering.

A Voice Out of Silence?

A "thought-diver" along with Melville, Smith nevertheless affirmed much more the clear path to ascent -- which, in Smith's writings and thought, invariably comes after the descent. This is often paradoxically so, as in the repeated accounts in the Book of Mormon of the condescention of the Savior in coming down to the level of humanity and then suffering ignominy on the cross so that his people could be lifted up. "My Father sent me," Jesus says, "that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works" (3 Nephi 27:14; see also 1 Nephi 11:16-33).

As far as the narrator in Pierre represents the author, Melville holds a bleaker view of communications with God. "Silence," the narrator says, "is the general consecration of the universe. Silence is the invisible laying on of

[81] Melville, Moby-Dick, 423.

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the Divine Pontiff's hands upon the world. Silence is at once the most harmless and the most awful thing in all nature. It speaks of the Reserved Forces of Fate. Silence is the only voice of our God." [82] "How can a man get a Voice out of Silence?" he asks later. [83] Yet, written scripture had great importance for Pierre's narrator. The Bible, he says, is "the truest book in the world" and the Sermon on the Mount the "greatest miracle of all religions.... This is of God! cries the heart, and in that cry ceases all inquisition." [84]

Silence is found in Joseph Smith's world, too, but with this profound difference: A divine voice emerged from that silence. [85] In a grove of trees near his father's farm, Joseph heard, as did John the Baptist, the voice of God the Father testifying, "This is My Beloved Son" (Joseph Smith -- History 1:17). Sunsequently, he is commanded to "listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your Redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful" (Doctrine and Covenants 27:1). Reflecting back on the early history of the Latter-day Church, Smith affirmed, "Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! -- A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy" (Doctrine and Covenants 128:19)!

Again, this response from heaven points to the most essential difference in the outlook of Melville, with his moble doubts, and that of Smith, who knew what he had seen of heavenly matters -- and who knew that God knew that Smith had seen it (see Joseph Smith -- History 1:25).

Melville's fullest exploration of matters of faith is in clarel, discussed earlier. The epilogue to that poem merits some attention in an examination of Herman Melville's religious explorations, especially as defined by juxtaposition with Joseph Smith's. Responding in part to Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859), which came out two years after Melville returned from the Holy Land, Melville says:
If Luther's day expand to Darwin's year.
Shall that exclude the hope -- foreclose the fear?
    Unmoved by all the claims our times avow,
The ancient Sphinx still keeps the porch of shade;
And comes Despair, whom not her calm may cow,
And coldly on that adamantine brow.
Scrawls undeterred his bitter pasquinade.
But Faith (who from that scrawl turns)
With blood warm oozing from her wounded trust,
Inscribes even on her shards of broken urns
The sign o' the cross -- the spirit above the dust!

[82] Melville, Pierre, 204.

[83] Ibid., 208.

[84] Ibid., 262, 207-8.

[85] The different uses of silence in the arts and in religion has been explored in Jon D. Green, "The Paradox of Silence in the Arts and Religion BYU," BYU Studies 35, no. 3 (1995-96): 94-131.

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    Yea, ape and angel, strife and old debate --
The harps of heaven and dreary gongs of hell;
Science the fued can only aggravate --
No umpire she betwixt the chimes and knell:
The running battle of the star and clod
Shall run forever -- if there be no God. [86]
Yet with all his questionings, Melville here expresses his belief that there is a God and that
Even death may prove unreal at the last,
And stoics be astounded into heaven.
    Then keep thy heart, though yet but ill-resigned --
Clarel, thy heart, the issues there but mind;
That like the crocus budding through the snow --
That like a swimmer rising from the deep --
That like a burning secret which doth go
Even from the bosom that would hoard and keep;
Emerge thou mayest from the last whelming sea,
And prove that death but routs life into victory. [87]

Seeking the Ultimate

"I love all men who dive." Melville said, and dive he did. "Deep, deep, and still deep and deeper must we go," he writes in Pierre, "if we would find out the heart of a man; descending into which is as descending a spiral stair in a shaft, without end, and where that endlessness is only concealed by the spiralness of the stair, and the blackness of the shaft." [88] Again, speaking in the review of Mosses, Melville says, "There is no man in whom humor and love are developed in that high form called genius; no such man can exist without also possessing, as the indespensable complement of these, a great, deep intellect, which drops down into the universe like a plummet." [89] "A seeker, not a finder yet," Melville thought deeply about the divinity of man, marking scriptures on the subject in his Bible. He annotated Jesus' response to the unbelieving Jews. "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?" (John 10:34), with the following thought for which he gives no author: "In our idea of man there can be no inconsistency with our idea of God: and if we feel a certain disagreement with Him and remoteness from Him, it is but the more on that account our duty... to seek out every property and beauty, by which our pretension to a similarity with the Divinity may be made good." [90]

[86] Melville, Clarel, 498.

[87] Ibid., 499.

[88] Melville, Pierre, 288-89.

[89] Melville, "Hawthorne and His Mosses," 242.

[90] As quoted in Braswell. Melville's Religious Thought, 27.

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Joseph Smith had an absolute conviction of humanity's connection with divinity. Speaking of a potential ultimate ascension, he taught:
We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. [91]
Finally, near the close of his life, this diver, seeker, and finder affirmed in the King Follett discourse his understanding of an upward heavenly movement:
Here, then, is eternal life -- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power. [92]

[91] J. F. Smith, Teachings, 51.

[92] Ibid., 346-47.