The Continental Monthly, Volume V. Issue I
Author: Various
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Mellowed by time, and enlightened by their deplorable results, England now views the wars with Napoleon the First in their true light. So far from British power having been augmented by that tremendous struggle, it has compelled England to descend from the position of a first-rate to that of a second-rate power, so far as it concerns the politics of Europe. Had the first Napoleon survived to this day, she would hardly have consented to act with the same subserviency to him as she now voluntarily acts toward his ignoble counterfeit. She would never have stood an idle spectator of the humiliation of Austria by him. She would never have permitted him to betray her into the causeless and ridiculous war with her ancient ally Russia. It was the aid of Russia which enabled her to overthrow the great Napoleon, and now she permits the little Napoleon to bully her into a war with Russia that he may bedizen his name with the glory of a conflict with the conqueror of his illustrious kinsman.

If the object of Napoleon was so ignominious, contemptible, and criminal, as we know it to have been, in producing the war of 1854, with what obloquy must England be covered for allowing herself to be beguiled into such a war by such a juggler?

The pretended cause of the Crimean war, as alleged, was the threatened invasion of Turkey by Nicholas. But what injury was that to England, compared to the seizure of Mexico by France?

England had not for two hundred years made it the chief object of her foreign policy to resist the expansion of the Russian empire. She had acquiesced in the partition of Poland, and by the Treaty of Vienna made herself a party to that nefarious spoliation by Russia, Austria, and Prussia. She knew that Austria, Prussia, and the German Confederation were pledged to protect Turkey from Russia.[7] Her subserviency to France in separately with her making war on Russia, upon the pretence of the protection of Turkey, was supererogatory as well as needless.

The truth is, and so will history make up the record, the French emperor desired to humiliate England, and England dare not refuse to be humiliated by him. It was a 'GREAT SURRENDER.'[8]

It will not do for England to excuse herself for not resisting the French invasion of Mexico by any such allegation as that she has received Napoleon's assurances that he does not intend to make a French province of Mexico. She must know, that no confidence can be placed in his veracity. She must know, that such assurances are but a flimsy veil to deceive her and other nations. They are designed to meet the contingency—of Federal success in crushing rebellion.

He has been willing to be fooled by those who surround him, into the belief that the rebels will achieve their independence.[9] In that event, he will never relinquish his grasp on Mexico, unless compelled to do so by force of arms. Should the rebellion succeed, as he professes to believe it will, his instrument and accomplice, Maximilian, will be discarded with as little ceremony as the first Napoleon discarded some of the puppet kings whom he saw proper to crown and discrown according to the exigency of his occasions.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) terminated one of the wars of England with Louis XIV. The renunciation by France of the cause of the Pretender was the most material advantage accruing to England from that treaty. But the ink was hardly dry with which it was written, before England took umbrage at France for efforts to rebuild her navy, which had been seriously reduced and crippled by the events of the previous war, and also for the encroachments of the French in Canada on the English settlements. For these causes the Seven Years' War was commenced, and, under the auspices of the first William Pitt, successfully prosecuted, until France was completely humbled. Now, however, Napoleon the Third constructs a navy more powerful than France ever before possessed, and, instead of molesting some obscure English settlement in the interior of America, appropriates to himself a great country, fertile in resources, with mines of incalculable wealth, and in close proximity to English colonies, cherished by the most vigilant protection of England.

The value of Mexico is thus portrayed by the British historian Alison (vol. iv., p. 423):

'Humboldt has told us that he was never wearied with astonishment at the smallness of the portion of soil which, in Mexico and the adjoining provinces, would yield sustenance to a family for a year: and that the same extent of ground which in wheat would maintain only two persons, would yield sustenance under the banana to fifty; though in that favored region the return of wheat is never under seventy, sometimes as much as a hundred fold. The return on an average of Great Britain is not more than nine to one. If due weight be given to these extraordinary facts, it will not appear extravagant to assert that Mexico, with a territory embracing seven times the whole area of France, may at some future and possibly not remote period contain two hundred millions of inhabitants.'

This is the magnificent empire which France now seeks to conquer, without a murmur of remonstrance from Great Britain, who so often combined Europe to resist the petty acquisition by France of territory less than one of the Mexican States.

It is needless to say that England relies on the United States to prevent Mexico becoming a French province. Her statesmen have for the past two years professed the belief that the dismemberment of the United States is inevitable. In that event, they must know that the United States would prove no obstacle to the occupation of Mexico by France. No; the acquiescence of England in this gigantic acquisition of France can be ascribed to no such assurance of the power of the United States. It may be said that she has flattered herself that by letting alone Napoleon, he may possibly, by an alliance with the rebels, secure the permanent dissolution of the American Union;—that the United States, if successful in crushing the rebellion, would be to her a greater terror than Napoleon. We do not believe that she is influenced by such considerations. She knows that the United States, however powerful by the recent development of military strength, would hardly attempt the invasion of the British Islands. But she has no such faith in her crafty neighbor. She knows that France and the Bonapartes owe her a debt of vengeance which only the ravage and desolation of the British soil will ever liquidate. She remembers that the favorite scheme of Napoleon the First was the invasion of England; and she knows that this scheme is among the Idees Napoleon of the nephew. She is aware, too, that Napoleon the Third has the means at his command which will enable him to place any number of troops on her shores. She is satisfied that upon the first provocation which she offers, he will gratify the treasured hatred of the French and of his family, by consummating the darling project of his uncle. The terror of invasion has induced her to change the nature of her foreign policy. She will cling to the French alliance until the French emperor has satiated his national craving for her degradation; and not until he strikes her a blow, which will resound throughout the world, will England be prepared to battle with the Gaul. No future accession of territory would make France more formidable for the invasion of England than she is now. Her army of five hundred thousand men, and her steam navy and ironclads are all-sufficient for that purpose, whenever the French emperor chooses so to employ them. But if Napoleon devotes this army and that navy to such a formidable conquest as that of a country seven times as large as France, three thousand miles from her shores, it is not probable that he will soon be able to spare them for the invasion of Great Britain. Spain vainly struggled for years to conquer her revolted provinces in America. England failed to conquer her rebellious colonies, with a population not exceeding three millions. France lost an army of thirty-five thousand men, veterans of Moreau's, in the vain effort to subdue the negroes of St. Domingo. England could desire no better scheme for the destruction of the military strength of Napoleon than that of the attempted conquest of Mexico. She will therefore rather stimulate than restrain the second French emperor in his desire to devote his legions to the enlargement of the area for the supremacy of the Latin race in America. Her motive will be the despicable safety of her shores from Gallic invasion. For this she sacrifices her prestige in the world—her hereditary policy—the time-honored traditions of the Anglo-Saxon. The world hereafter is free to the Frenchman, for robbery, spoliation, conquest, and invasion, wherever else than in England he chooses to prosecute the vocation of national crime. England is no longer the foe of French ambition or rapacity. So long as France will abstain from the invasion of the 'inviolate isle,' where for almost a thousand years no foreign enemy has placed his foot, so long she may be free from molestation from England, whatever else she may attempt; and this is the inglorious policy of England in the year of our Lord 1862-'3.


[A literal translation of this remarkable prose-poem was kindly placed in our hands by Prof. Podbielski. It is allegorical throughout, every phase of its marvellous symbolism resting upon dire and tragic truth.

The many times murdered Mother is of course Poland. We hope that the publication of this prophetic vision of her great son, patriot, poet, statesman, and sage, as he undoubtedly was, may excite a vivid interest at the present hour, when that heroic but unhappy country is again struggling for life and freedom.

In its present English form, 'Temptation' is reverently dedicated to the patriot sons of the Mother of heroes, by MARTHA W. COOK.]

Alas, crimsoned with blood and swollen with tears run our troubled life-waves! From the depths and whirlpools of the stormful currents sounds the moan of eternal sorrow! Behind roars the bottomless abyss, black with the gloomy mists rising from the woes of the Past: Before lies the far-off Heaven, burning and blazing with flames red as of blood: Around struggle the swimmers, in surges so cold, hopeless, and murky, That from each as he floats onward is forced the cry; 'WOE! THE CURSE IS UPON ME!'

Mother, many times murdered! Unhappy mother! with the long and countless blades of thy ever-green grasses, with the waving stems of thy grain fields, thou wilt bind our undying memories closely to thee, but henceforth must thy sons wander and suffer, as they love thee. Behind them, from sea to sea, is the Grave; before them, wheresoever they may roam, the Sun set; while monarchs and merchants curse the endless progression!

The Living cannot understand those reared on the bosom of the Dead—human faces grow pale at the approach of the spectres—at the echo of their footsteps the home-fires glimmer and flicker low on the hearthstone—the mother hides her child—the wife leads away the husband that he may not clasp hands with the wandering exile,—the evening star alone, the star of graves, smiles from Heaven on them!

* * * * *

Was not the silence of the forests holy? When the wind swept over the Pines, did not the mystic murmurs, sacred as the prayers of the Priest, say to you: 'Nowhere there will you find your God!' The spaces are filled with the giant skeletons torn from the dim woods; they are chained and clamped with iron and fed with steam; the eagles soar not in the air above them, nor do the glad birds twitter in the swaying branches; none among you may mount the strong horse of the desert and fly afar over the boundless steppes, rejoicing in his arrowy swiftness;—you are alone in the midst of the world!

* * * * *

As you wander on, poor exiles, your very gratitude is half disdain! When they lead you into cities without castles or temples, where trade and commerce rule; among whitewashed houses where the spirit of Beauty is not, and the green window-shutters are the sole adornment—murmur ye: THE DEAD!

* * * * *

On the shores of the seas when you dwell with Jews, Armenians, and Greeks, quarrelling forever over their vile profits; seeing not the heavens, nor hearing the thunder as it booms over the waves—murmur ye: THE DEAD!

* * * * *

When women in rich attire move around you, and you feel that the faint fluttering of the silken robe is far more spiritual than the life-breath of their souls—murmur ye: THE DEAD!

* * * * *

Float on, then, like the sacred whispers from the unhewn forests! The world will not know you, because you are of the race sprung from coffins; born and cradled in coffins; but as you rise from the grave, strew upon the ground beneath your feet the mouldering rags of your shrouds—and he, seated on the verge of the abyss, on the steep and slippery declivity; he, robed in the royal purple of power, will not survive your Resurrection—but must himself descend into the coffin!

I saw imaged before me, as in a wondrous vision, the varied scenes and changes as it were of a long life—rising, progressing, and vanishing, as if bound in a single day, beginning with the morning and fleeting away with the evening shadows.

It seemed to me in my vision that the morning was strangely transparent. No clouds dulled the ether above. Far over the wide green space rose the sun, and in front of the House on the Hill stood a horse already saddled, impatiently wounding the velvety grass with his iron hoofs, and snuffing with wide nostrils the fresh breeze from the valley. Near him stood his young master. The light in his blue eye was bright as the young beam of the day. He had one foot in the stirrup, and the other on the soft home-turf; with one hand caressing the long waving mane of the steed, and the other clasped in the grasp of the man from whom he was taking leave—they knew not for how long, but yet felt it was not forever. Words were pouring from the heart of the one into the heart of the other. The elder, he who stood on the ground and was to move on on foot, kept his gaze steadily fixed on the rocks and forests lying beyond the smooth green turf. The younger, with raised eyes, gazed into the sky, as if absorbing its light in the blue lustrous pupils; and when he spoke, his voice was like the fresh breath of spring. The elder spoke more slowly, almost sternly, as though advising, warning, beseeching—as if he loved deeply, yet doubted, feared; but the younger had no fear, no doubts—he pledged himself and vowed—threw himself first into the arms of his friend, then leaped into his saddle. He pushed his horse rapidly on, swift as the arrow skims the plain, or the mountain stream plunges below. A cloud of servants poured forth from the halls of the ancient House, and followed their young Lord.

He who remained behind, knelt; and fragments of his prayer were brought me by the wind, 'O Heavenly Father! let not this blooming soul wither away upon this arid earth! Lead it not into the temptation of human servitude; remove from it all sinful stain! Let it serve Thee alone! Thee and the many times murdered Mother!'

He continued kneeling, although sunk in silence, as if wrapped in deep meditation, scarcely knowing whether to indulge in the dim prophecies then surging his soul, or to prolong his prayers. Then I saw him start, clasp his hands forcibly together—and again his words were borne to me by the wind.

'O Heavenly Father! I ask Thee not to sweeten the bitter cup of life for my friend; I know that all who live must suffer; but, O merciful God, spare him the blush of shame, the infamy of weakness!'

Then I saw the Wanderer rise from his knees, descend the hill, and make his way on foot through the forest to the distant rocks.

* * * * *

About high noon of the same day they met again before the gate of a great city. The young man was still on his horse, his fair brow already darkened by the heat of the sun; the dew from the fresh home-turf was quite dry upon his stirrups, and the glitter of the steel dimmed with rust. The horse gladly stopped, as if wearied with his rapid flight through the distant space, but the blue eye of the youth still sparkled with its early fire.

The elder, gray from head to foot with the dust of the road, seated himself on a stone by the wayside. The youth jumped lightly to the earth, and threw himself into the arms of his friend. I saw him give his horse in charge to his servants, take the arm of his companion, enter the gate of the great city, and lead him to the imperial Palace. In one of the inner chambers they sat down together to rest. They conversed however in whispers, as if they feared the ear of the enemy even through the massive stone walls. Stretching himself on the soft Persian carpet, the younger raised the cup of wrought silver to his thirsty lip. But when he handed it to the elder, he refused to taste the wine from the rich goblet. Nor would he look upon the tapestried walls, or the objects of luxury lying profusely scattered around the room, even when pointed out to him by his young companion. At last he rose, and taking the hand of the youth, led him to a window, from which the entire city was seen lying below, with the moving crowds of the populous nation. The immense city, wonderfully monotonous in its whitewashed walls! the immense nation, wonderfully monotonous in its black garments! The young man looked on curiously; the wanderer sighed, and said: 'When they shall lead you into cities without castles or temples, where the spirit of freedom is chained, murmur ye: THE DEAD!'

But the younger continued to gaze with ever-growing interest. Carriages filled with women dressed in brilliant hues were rapidly driving by, drawn by strong, fleet horses. He saw one drive aside from the throng, the snowy veil and white draperies of the fair one within fluttering and floating far on, the breeze, as if the flying chariot were borne onward by the outspread sails. The Wanderer sighed, and said: 'When women in rich attire move around you, and you feel that the faint fluttering of the snowy robe is more spiritual than the life-breath of their souls—murmur ye: THE DEAD!'

The young man seemed not to hear the words of his friend. Heavy masses of lurid clouds gathered from every direction, and obscured the face of the sky. How different the hour of the gloomy noon from that of the fresh, transparent morning!

The men before whom the People of the Black Nation kneel and prostrate themselves now began to move through the streets. Their short garments glittered with gold, and were richly embroidered in gorgeous colors. They wore long thin swords at their sides, and thick tufts of plumes on their heads. Shouting with harsh voices, they passed on in power, striking the children who were lingering in the road as they moved forward. The children cried and wept; the crowd drew back and fled; and they remained alone upon the Great Square. More and more of them were ever thronging there; more and more courteously they ever bowed to one another, and lower and lower grew their salutes, until at last One rode forward on a steed richly caparisoned—and then they all fell down with their faces upon the ground—as if he were the Lord of Life and Death.

Then said the Wanderer: 'He is already on the verge of the abyss, on the slope of the steep and slippery declivity; he, robed in the purple of Power, must himself descend into the coffin!'

But the young man riveted his gaze on the magnificence of the rider, as if absorbing the diamond glitter into the lustrous pupils of his eyes, as in the morning they had absorbed and reflected the clear blue of the skies. He seemed not to hear the words of his friend. When they were earnestly repeated to him, he covered his face with his hands, and tenderly uttered the holy name of the murdered Mother, as if the love of childhood were upon his heart. The Wanderer pressed him to his breast, and said: 'Look not upon them! Look not upon them!'

'Never! never!' he replied, as he again threw himself down to rest upon the Persian carpet.

As the Wanderer rose to depart, I heard the prayer again rising to God from his divining soul:

'O Heavenly Father! even at the burning noon of this bitter trial, I implore Thee for him whom I love! O God! I now entreat Thee to work a miracle in his behalf—to sweeten the bitter cup of life for this young, eager, thirsting soul! Deliver it from the temptations with which Thou hast seen good to surround the strong on this earth, led like him into these snares! Let him not fall, I beseech Thee, as did even the mighty and beautiful angels round Thy Throne, when the thirst for power was upon them. Save him, O God!'

The young man remained alone, utterly alone, in the midst of the great city, and was soon forced to seek companionship with his fellow beings. It was strange, meanwhile, how black the heavens grew, as if the whole sky were sheeted with a curtain of lead. I saw him now constantly in the streets, the rooms, and in the midst of the people: he fascinated my gaze as if I saw only him. Under the calm of a tranquil face, he concealed bitter torment, intense suffering. Evil thoughts are winding through him, like swarms of black and poisonous worms, while the good are also thronging near him, like clouds of bright blue fireflies. The worms crawl over his heart, boring and bleeding it as they writhe; the fireflies would burn out the black congested gore, and cure the festering wounds, but new swarms of reptiles are forever sliming into life, and ever deeper and more gangrened are the wounds they make. Everywhere danger, everywhere torment; there is no human being whom he may trust! He too must learn to deceive in turn, to betray even women and children; must learn to lie as the masterpiece of art. He attains skill in the profession, and can command looks, smiles, tears, emotions; but alas! the light in his clear eye, once rivalling the young beam of day, no longer flashes from his pupils. Pity him, O God! his very garments become a lie; he throws aside the costume of his nation, in which he once rode so freely over the boundless steppe. He mounts on his head the tall tufts of plumes; he girds the thin sword to his side; and I saw in my dream that the people began to fall back before him, and bow as he drew near.

But I saw that the steed of the desert refused to recognize his master when he entered the courtyard of the Palace. In vain he pats, with his own hand, the wavy silken mane: no neigh of joy now answers his caress; he strives to leap upon him as in the morning of this eventful day, but the haughty charger rears, stands erect upon his hind legs, and refuses to be mounted. Enraged beyond control, he thrusts his long sword into the glossy flanks. The startled animal breaks away, spurns the blood-sprinkled soil, and flies thundering afar, rattling and clashing his iron hoofs on the pavement, marking his track with a long line of glittering sparks, flashing but to die in the dying light of evening!

The hour of twilight is already on the earth!

* * * * *

Again, for the third time in that day of life, met the Wanderer and his friend. They stood together in a Church, which was without the gates, and the cross on its towers was different from those on the Basilicas within the walls of the city. The altar was without adornment, and, as well as the walls and ceilings, was shrouded in the deepest mourning. Three tapers only were upon it, and they struggled vainly with the surrounding gloom.

I saw the Wanderer take one of these lights, and gaze, with a look of woe, upon the face of his friend. The young man was silent, he found no utterance, he had lost the secret of revealing, by honest words, the depths of the soul. But the bitter truth was expressed in the long wild cry which burst spasmodically from his lips. In it might be read the seduction and destruction of a young spirit, not consenting to its own shame and ruin!

He laid his head on the strong shoulder of his friend, and closed his heavy eyelids, as if he dreamed, in this trying moment, it would be possible for him thus to close them forever. But the Wanderer, suddenly calling him back to consciousness, said: 'Follow me! follow me, that thou mayst remember forever the Form of the murdered Mother!'

So saying, he led the young man to a low door which opened behind the Great Altar. A whirlwind, as if from plains of ice, blew upon them from the subterranean passages below, and the flame of the taper streamed upon the blast, swaying and torn into a line of dying sparks. And thus they commenced the plunge into the very bosom of night, descending ever lower and lower, exploring depth after depth, until at last they had worked their way through the narrow and winding passages, and stood in the sublime silence of the immensity of space.

Their taper had long ago gone out, but they needed not its flickering light. The swamp-fires of the night, the corpse-lights, the will-o'-the-wisps, sometimes fell like falling stars; sometimes rose like rising moons. Countless cemeteries seemed moving on in this weird light, one solemnly following the other, and on the dark gate of each glittered, as if graved in frosted silver, the name of the Murdered Nation, and on the white crosses gleaming within, the names of her martyred children. Vast piles of skeletons, of bones and skulls, lay in the path of the young man, and as he advanced he read the glorious inscriptions.

It now seemed to him that the ghosts of the buried were also moving on before him, increasing constantly in number, and all moaning as they sped on, until at last they seemed to condense into a murky vapor like a trailing storm-cloud, growing ever more and more pervading, and murmuring with thousands upon thousands of sad, but spirit-stirring national songs. The air gleamed with the flashing of sabres and wild waving of standards; conflagrations and flames filled the intervening spaces, like vivid flashes of restless lightning, now gleaming, now sinking into the bosom of the cloud. Faster and faster, farther and farther whirls the cloud of spirits. Then in my dream I saw them suddenly descend, driven over the earth like the withered leaves of autumn—beaten low upon the ground and drifting on like the summer's dust—while a strong cry burst from the driven shadows: 'O God, have mercy upon us!'

The Wanderer stopped before the gate of an open sepulchre, on which was graven the name of the many times Murdered. The letters blazed with a soft lambent flame, and he fell reverently upon his knees. Penetrated with mystic awe, he quivered from head to foot when he arose, and wept tenderly as he crossed the threshold.

A soft light, like that of an evening late in autumn, dimly illumined the space within. I saw the holy Coffin as it lay on the gentle slope of a hill; a giant Pine stood at its head, and in its topmost branches perched the Eagle, pierced to the heart and sleeping in its own blood. Within the coffin lay the sacred Form, with the cross on her breast, the veil on her face, the fetters on her hands, and the crown upon her forehead. I saw six such hills rising one after the other, separated from one another by the long grass, through which, in place of sunny brooks, flowed crimson streams of human gore. Hilts and shivered fragments of broken swords, overgrown with weeds and covered with rust, were lying scattered in every direction through the rank grass. On each of the six hills lay the same Coffin; the same Form. But always more and more strongly surged the streams of human blood; heavier and heavier grew the chains on the hands of the Dead; and paler and paler the dim autumnal light. At the foot of the last hill it was dark, and bitter cold; the currents of blood were frozen; the icicles hung from the branches of the Pine; the Eagle lay in his congealed gore; and in place of the veil, the face of the six times murdered Mother was closely covered with a sheet of snow.

When the young man reached this spot of gloom, he fell with his face upon the frozen earth, and cursed his life! In the distance sounded the moans of the shadows left at the gate of the sepulchre; he bowed his head and wept. He heard them ask: 'Is the six times Murdered really dead? will she rise no more to deliver her faithful children from mortal anguish?'

The Wanderer replied not, but looked with eyes of melancholy love upon his friend who had thrown himself upon the frozen earth, and gently raised him in his strong arms.

Then rose the wail of all the armies of the grave; they broke the silence of death with loud and fearful cries: 'O Heavenly Father, Thou hast betrayed us! Thou hast delivered us up to Hell, for our Saint is really dead!'

The Wanderer answered the cry, and his voice pealed like distant thunder. 'Blaspheme not! Our Saint yet breathes! I see her lying in her last coffin on the hill of ice—there is no seventh beyond it—from it comes the Resurrection!' The wails and sobs of the spirits suddenly ceased, and a murmuring chant of the Mother's was entoned, low and sweet as the first sigh of a germing hope.

The young man now perceived, for hitherto he had not seen it, the illimitable space beyond the coffin. Afar over the infinite blue broke the growing splendor of the early dawn—the clash and clamor of battles yet unborn broke through the veil of Time—and above it all he heard the Mother's ancient hymn of victory!

The young dawn shone but for a moment, the clash of battle ceased, the song of triumph died upon the ear—the gloomy silence of the twilight was again upon them, and frost and cold upon the earth. The two friends reverently pressed their lips upon the still feet of the fettered Form; together listened to the faint breathing from the icy lips, catching it even through the veil of snow shrouding the sacred face; together they ascended the frozen hill, bowing their heads in their hands to hide their tears.

I saw them again as they were returning by the same road, and overheard them binding themselves with fearful oaths. The Wanderer took leave of the young man at the entrance of the church, saying with wonderfully tender and conjuring tones: 'Be not deceived by those who would fain ruin thy soul, and blot out thy name from the number of honorable sounds on earth! Remember, whatsoever the splendor of the things thou shalt this night see, they are but deceptions from the lowest Hell! Then placing his hand on the heart of the young man, he prayed: 'O Heavenly Father! have mercy upon him and upon me, for if he withstands not this terrible Temptation, Thou knowest we shall both have lived in vain, and our part on earth is done forever! After this they parted, and went their way on different routes.

* * * * *

It was already night in the great city. Innumerable throngs were crowding the streets, all moving in the same direction, to the palace lighted with a thousand lamps, sounding with music, and gay with the dance. Old and young, men and women thronged the brazen stairs leading to the upper saloons; hurrying on as eagerly, as unceasingly as if ascending into Heaven!

The hours of the night passed slowly by, seeming longer to me than the whole of the preceding day. It was almost one o'clock before I again saw the young man, and the traces of the oaths he had taken were cunningly hidden under smiles. Groups of servants stood around him; he carelessly threw them his cloak, and climbed with the rest the brazen stairs. He was richly dressed; the magnificent guest was worthy of the splendor of the wedding feast. He entered gracefully, and gazed curiously on the thousands who were dancing around him. His eyes fell upon the rich and varied spoils overhanging the Hall; broken swords were wrought into the walls like mosaics; the flags of the conquered nations were draped in their varied hues across the vaulted ceiling; but as he looked on all these trophies of power, I saw him suddenly turn pale with rage, and bite his lips until the blood followed the pressure of his teeth; but then the whirling crowds caught him in their midst—violins, harps, flutes and horns poured the reeling air into his dizzied brain—clouds of incense intoxicated his senses—piled and mossy carpets luxuriously yielded to the pressure of his feet—rainbow hues shifted gayly before his dazzled eyes—until giddy, fascinated, stimulated, he sank upon a pile of cushions, resting his hot temples in his burning palms, dreaming of snowy hands and taper fingers, of azure eyes and cheeks like rose leaves.

As he thus rested, I heard the bell heavily toll one; I felt that this long night was in its darkest hour!

When he raised his eyes, he saw, through the long vista of the illuminated apartments, the Throne of the Splendor of the Sun. It stood above the moving sea of dancers; upon it sat the Autocrat of Life and Death; and above him waved the canopy of flags torn from the dying nations. The young man started, for he saw one among them dyed in gore, and tattered into rags, and from its torn streamers, drop by drop, the blood was ever falling; but no one saw or heeded it save himself. When this sight fell upon his reeling gaze, he determined to repel with all his force the allurements of temptation, and again his eye gleamed blue and pure as it had done in the early morning.

A movement now began in the crowd. It dispersed, divided, and formed into long lines upon the right and the left, leaving a wide, open pathway through the whole length of the long vista of the apartments. The Lord of the Palace descended from his Throne, and moved through the living walls as if he were a God, while all prostrated themselves as he passed along. He turned not aside, but went directly to the spot where the young man was seated. Nearer and nearer he approached, wondrously beautiful and strong. The young man rose and looked boldly into his eyes. The Master of Life and Death did not frown upon him, but said gently: 'Come, let us take a stroll together; I will show you the wonders of my Palace!'

The youth stood as if transfixed to the spot, but the Lord of Life and Death drew closer to him, stooped and pressed a kiss on his brow, and led him away with easy grace.

Although he seemed to see the coffin of the murdered Mother ever winding on before him, the young man accompanied the Monarch. His arm trembled with the quick beating of his boiling blood as it lay on the hard one of the Autocrat, who, thunder as he might to the bowing throng prostrating themselves before him, continued to speak in soft tones and with a noble, courteous air to his present companion. He spoke of the past, he uttered without trembling even the name of the murdered Mother, as if her assassination did not weigh upon his conscience. He did not seem to have the least doubt that she was really dead, vanished forever from the face of the earth. He artfully pointed out to the young man another immense future,[10] graven, as he said, in the Book of Fate. He painted it in the most alluring colors, awakening his young desires for its attainment; he spared no promises, and as if he held himself to be one of God's prophets, he parodied inspiration. The unhappy young man turned his eyes toward the ground, away from the handsome face, as though it had been that of Antichrist. Each word of the Tempter fell like a drop of poison on his heart, engendering and hatching the worms within. They walked together through the long ranges of apartments, the close ranks of men prostrating themselves as they passed, until they struck with their foreheads the malachites wrought into the tessellated floor.

When they arrived at the other end of the Palace, the gates of bronze upon the order of the Master were suddenly thrown open, while the mass behind, lifting their heads from the ground, looked enviously after them.

'Behold, this is my Treasury,' said the Monarch. 'Look, and have faith in the extent of my power!'

The young man looked before him. He was standing at the portals of deep mines of wealth, endlessly extended. Alas! the glowing splendor from the hills and valleys burned into the blue eyes of the young man; his pupils rapidly absorbed the molten torrents of gold and silver; circles of light from amethyst, opal, and emerald, bent like rainbows round the azure orbs. The subterranean flames roared and crackled; the hills were shaken to their centre; the caves were heaving in their depths, and fresh, glittering, golden, diamantine lumps came ever gushing from the fused and seething mass.

But strange sounds were ever and anon heard amidst the hissing and sputtering of the boiling metals. Long cries came up as if from men in the agonies of death; a clatter as of chains sounded from the abyss; muttered curses; and bent and wretched human figures were seen moving over swards of diamonds and precious stones, like the dark stains passing athwart the bright face of the moon. The eye of the Monarch then flamed with wrath. Sometimes clanging their chains as they moved their fettered limbs, these melancholy figures raised to him their suppliant hands, begging with anguished cries for one drop of water, for one moment of respite to breathe the free air of heaven. He vouchsafed to them no answer, and with every moment the wretched and emaciated shadows fell from utter exhaustion into the molten metals seething in the depths of the mine. But what mattered that, since with every instant, new bands of living shadows, equally fettered, doomed, and wretched, arrived to fill the vacant places? The young man thought he had seen some of these melancholy faces before in the high places of the earth, that the noble traits once had been dear to him, but the flashes of lightning blinded him, and the features were rapidly lost in the depths of the succeeding gloom. The roar of the seething, fusing metals deafened the sound of the groans from the chained and broken-hearted miners. And as I gazed, an all-pervading splendor, like the golden calm of the Desert, settled over all, covering with glittering veil the anguish which had been revealed.

As this light overflowed the scene with its brilliant haze, the gates of bronze clapped to with heavy clang. The Master of Life and Death took leave of the young man, and as he departed, said: When the great bell again strikes, be in the Hall of the Throne; thy seat at my Banquet is next my own.

As the young man turned to move away, the throng greeted him with shouts and cheers. Many knelt to kiss his hand, because it had touched the hand of the Master. They asked him what music he would hear, and when his choice was made, the grand orchestra rolled it forth in massive waves of sound. They bore him luscious wines in jewelled vases, kneeling as he took the cup. He marvelled, and at first scorned the homage, but again I saw him look proudly round him, and assume an air of command.

In a recess of the most exquisite beauty, veiled by groves of perfumed flowers, he meets resplendent groups of married women, blooming clusters of budding maidens. They surround him as he enters, greeting him with lovely smiles; and scattering rose leaves o'er him. His cheeks flame as with fever; his blood boils in his veins; he grows giddy, faint:—alas, he feels at last that he might find happiness in the Palace of the mortal enemy of his Mother! This feeling falls upon him like a thunderbolt, and scathes his heart. He turns to fly, but they pursue, the perfumed wind bearing onward and wafting around him the full drapery of their floating trains of luxury. Their long ringlets kiss his cheeks, and weave their nets around him.

Through two long hours of this fitful night I watched him with the keenest interest. I saw him struggle, confused, bewildered, reeling, giddy, dazzled, sometimes almost yielding to temptation, sometimes earnestly imploring the Heavenly Father for strength to resist delusion. As if in despair, I saw him hurrying through the long suite of apartments in search of a sword to pierce his weak, vacillating heart, but no arms were here to be found. Sometimes I saw him rush to meet the alluring Circes of the Palace, as if seeking their fascinations; then, suddenly turning upon them, he would curse and insult the seductive Sirens. I saw him tear from them their veils of snow, rend them asunder, and trample the costly fragments under his feet. They knelt, wept, and humiliated themselves before him. They prayed for love, saying: 'Once, only once, we implore thee, confess that thou lovest!' Utter madness came upon him; electric flashes fired his veins; rapture tingled through every fibre of his young frame; and in the voluptuous delirium of the moment he wildly cried: 'I love! I love!'

As he spake, he caught in his arms the Houri of the foreign race; he fastened his burning lips upon her rosebud mouth; and by the magic of her breath she drew him on to the Hall of the Throne!

There sat the Master of Life and Death, with the flags and standards of the conquered nations floating around and above him. As the youth and maiden entered, I again heard the great bell toll the hour. Throngs of courtiers stood around the Throne. Slowly the curtain of inwrought tapestry rose from the platina door. Those who had been waiting beyond its threshold for admittance, were summoned by the Heralds to appear. Ambassadors from the Kings of the East and the Kings of the West entered the Presence Chamber. On they filed in long and solemn procession. They all bowed as they passed the Throne, each one depositing an urn of pure gold at the feet of the Monarch. The urns were filled with the ashes of those who had fallen in battle, heroes killed in holy causes, patriots and martyrs from different parts of the world. The Grand Duke entered last in the train, he was clad in the ermine only worn by Princes, and as he bowed his head, he placed the last urn on the floor. The young man started—the name of the murdered Mother was deeply graven on the sculptured swells. Then all grew dark before him, he saw neither the Throne of the Monarch, nor the fair girl still clinging to his arm. But his ear quickened as his eye grew dim, and the question of the Monarch rang loudly through his brain: 'Are they all really dead, and will they rise from the grave no more?'

And as if with one voice answered the Ambassadors: 'They are all surely dead, and will rise no more forever.' At a sign from the Monarch, the courtiers approached, took up the urns, and solemnly deposited them upon the columns of black marble ranged on either side of the Hall. Flaming torches were then handed by the attendants, taken by those high in the favor of the court, and held over the open crypt of the urn. The ashes within kindled, and burned with a dim, bluish flame. The pale smoke rose from the shrine, spread through the air, and wafted the smell of Death to the nostrils of the Lord!

It now seemed to the young man as if all he had seen at the hour of twilight was but a dream; he looked upon these throngs as the sole masters of the world, and on their Monarch as omnipotent and eternal. At this moment the table of festival rose in the Hall, everywhere surrounded by the blazing funereal urns. The maiden begged the bridegroom to take his seat at the banquet; the Master, descending from his Throne, placed his arm in his, and led him to the place of honor, at his side. The great bell again tolled the hour. The guests also took their places at the feast.

Directly in front of the young man stood the column of black marble bearing the urn containing the ashes of his Mother. And whenever he saw her holy name, his long lashes veiled his sinking eyes; but his bride constantly recalled his attention to the blue flames of the crypt.

More and more madly, fiercely, fearfully, his reeling and wretched soul struggled to regain its ancient faith, to return to its early hopes; but temptation was around him; his brain was bewildered; his understanding darkened; and madness within.

Healths poisonous to his heart went round, and he was forced to drain them in honor of the Master. An inward shivering disjointed his members, unstrung his nerves, heart and frame fainted into weakness, a dew cold as death covered his temples, and his head fell wearily upon his breast—the walls, the floors, the ceilings, the men, the burning urns, danced, reeled, and tottered in wild confusion before him. The murmuring voices, the buzz of sound, the swell of the triumphant music, the strange words of the foreign bride, mingled and boomed like the roar of the sea in the ears of the swooning man—and so the last hours passed away!

He still lived, if life be measured by the wild throbs of the heart. Like the clap of doom the last hour struck upon his ear. He opened his heavy eyelids, the blue flames from the urns were dying out. The Master of Life and Death, graciously smiling and courteously inclining toward him, said: 'Guest of my Banquet, the hour has struck in which thou art to swear to serve me; in which thou must abjure thine ancient faith and name.'

As he spake, he threw to him across the table jewelled orders and diamond crosses, saying: 'Wear these in memory of me!' The Herald then drew near, and read to him from the Black Book the form of abjuration. The agonizing and swooning man mechanically repeated the words one by one after him, not even hearing the sound of his own voice. His head had fallen on the bosom of his bride, his lips still moved, but his eyes were glaring in the whiteness of death—and so he uttered all the prescribed words until the very last was said!

Scarcely had he finished, when the Master of Life and Death arose and said: 'Servant of my servants art thou now—beware! shouldst thou prove false to thy oath, the rope of the hangman surely awaits thee.' Then he broke into a loud, coarse laugh of triumph!

The unfortunate man raised his wretched head, and his first look fell upon the urn of his murdered Mother. In place of her name of glory another word was standing now: 'INFAMY!' 'Infamy,'—he looked again; he shrieked aloud, 'Infamy;' and started from his seat with the last effort of his failing strength. 'Infamy!' shouted the thousands from before, behind, from either side. 'Infamy' sounded from the ceilings of the Palace, the Hall of the Throne, the deep mines and limitless Treasury! Some among the crowd hastened to greet him by his new name, while others fastened to his garments the glittering orders and diamond crosses. Some commanded him to bow before them, while others ordered him to trample under foot the still smouldering ashes of his Mother!

That thought sent the blood back in hot torrents to his heart. He broke through the surrounding throng, rushed on, fled from the Presence Chamber, eagerly looking for his bride. He saw her leaning on the arm of another, mocking and jeering with the rest. He glides on behind the statues, steals along the recesses, is discovered, and again flies before the enemy. The Palace winds before him into countless labyrinths—nowhere is shelter to be found sneers, menaces, insults, are everywhere around him—but worse than all, the curse is now within his soul!

Then he suddenly turns to meet his enemies; he baffles them at first, but countless numbers are upon him. They hurl him to the ground, trample him under foot, and pass on singing a song from the land of his Mother. As he rises, fresh numbers assail him, he bids defiance to them all, struggles, advances, until foaming, bleeding, sinking, he is again driven back, again forced to seek an outlet from the Palace. Thus fighting, running, falling, fainting, he makes his way until the first dim dawn of day, and as it breaks, he falls heavily down the brazen staircase, and rolls below into the court of the Palace. Here strong arms seize him, and bear him rapidly away to the steps of the church—the same church which he had left in the evening twilight.

It is the hour of the young dawn, but the sun of this earth will never rise for him again! Light will awake the world, but it will shine into his blue eyes no more!

He awakes to consciousness on the steps of the church, and finds himself face to face alone with the Wanderer. He is mute in his despair. The Wanderer, regarding him sternly, says: 'In other times and scenes thou mightst perchance have been a hero, but the Fates doomed thee to heavy trial, and thou wert not strong enough to preserve thy virtue! The visible reality prevailed with thee above the invisible, holy, and eternal truth! Alas, thou art lost!'

'Give me back my horse!' cried the young man, as life again began to flow through his veins. 'Give me the free dress of the steppes, give me my arms, and thou shalt see that I know how to revenge the wrongs inflicted on my brethren, to redress my own infamy!'

He grasped the hand of his friend, and threw himself into his arms, quivering with rage. Far more sadly than before, the Wanderer replied:

'The hour for bold and open defiance is not yet near. It is the time for silent sacrifice. But even shouldst thou live until the Day of Judgment, the hour of Resurrection, thy brethren will always number thee among those who have renounced the Mother. Hark! thy enemies are in pursuit of thee, already near. Should they capture thee, thou must be the slave of their wills, the partner of their crimes, the sport and butt of all their bitter jests throughout the remnant of thy wretched life. One only refuge remains for thee!' And as he spoke, he drew his glittering sword.

The young man understood his meaning. With dauntless courage he tore aside the covering from his breast.

'Strike!' he exclaimed. 'I die as a true son of the many times murdered Mother—honor to her holy name forever and ever!'

The Wanderer groaned from the depths of his soul. He plunged the sharp cold steel into the young naked heart. The unfortunate victim fell without a moan. He fell in the first rays of the rising sun, and in the same hour in which but yesterday, full of strength and hope, he had mounted his swift horse from the green home-turf, urging him down the hill to push eagerly over the broad steppe of life.

He fell in silence, but his dying eye again flashed forth a light rivalling the young beam of Day.

The Wanderer knelt beside him, and lifting his clasped hands to Heaven, said: 'O Heavenly Father! Thou knowest that I loved him better than aught else on earth! As long as it was possible, I shielded him from the Temptation of Hell, and in the first moment of his fall, I tore his soul out from the grasp of the enemy, and sent it back to Thee! Save it in eternity, merciful Father! Let the crimson tide poured out by me, be joined to that sea of innocent blood which is ever wailing and moaning at the foot of Thy Throne! Let it with that sea fall upon the head of the Tempters!'

After these words I saw him, with the point of the same sword, draw blood from under his own heart, and write with the sharp red blade on the stone above the head of the dead: SENT HOME BY THE HAND OF A FRIEND!

The echoing steps and voices of the pursuers fell loudly on the ear; they were close at hand. The Wanderer arose, and rapidly disappeared from my eyes in the sanctuary of the ancient church.

Thus passed and ended that one day of my vision!

O Mother, many times murdered! When thou shalt waken from thy long sleep, and again rest on the long grass of the home turf, again hear the holy whispers of thy unhewn forests green from sea to sea, again feel thy youth returning upon thee, thou wilt remember thy long night of death, the terrible phantoms of thy protracted agonies. Weep not then, O Mother! weep not for those who fell in glorious battle, nor for those who perished on alien soil—although their flesh was torn by the vulture and devoured by the wolf, they were still happy! Neither weep for those who died in the dark and silent dungeon underground by the hand of the executioner, though the dismal prison-lamp was their only star, and the harsh words of the oppressor the last farewell they heard on earth—they too were happy!

But drop a tear, O Mother! One tear of tender pity for those who were deceived by thy Murderers, misled by their tissues of glittering falsehood, blinded by misty veils woven of specious deceptions, when the command of the tyrant had no power to tear their true hearts from thee! Alas, Mother, these victims have suffered the most of all thy martyred children! Deceitful hopes, born but to die, like blades of naked steel, forever pierced their breasts! Thousands of fierce combats, unknown to fame, were waging in their souls, combats fuller of bitter suffering than the bloody battles thundering on in the broad light of the sun, clashing with the gleam of steel, and booming with the roar of artillery. No glory shone on the dim paths of thy deceived sons; thy reproachful phantom walked ever beside them, as part of their own shadow! The glittering eye of the enemy lured them to the steep slopes of ice, down into the abyss of eternal snow, and at every step into the frozen depths, their tears fell fast for thee! They waited until their hearts withered in the misery of hope long deferred; until their hands sank in utter weariness; until they could no longer move their emaciated limbs in the fetters of their invisible chain; still conscious of life, they moved as living corpses with frozen hearts—alone amidst a hating People—alone even in the sanctuary of their own homes—alone forever on the face of the earth!

My Mother! When thou shalt again live in thy olden glory, shed a tear over their wretched fate, over the agony of agonies, and whisper upon their dark and silent graves, the sublime word: PARDON!


The 'Last Travels' of Ida Pfeiffer, published in London in 1861, called the public attention to an island which had been excluded from civilization for more than a quarter of a century. The great Island of Madagascar, situated in the path of all the commerce of Europe with the East, for reasons we are about to explain, has again attracted the notice of diplomatists, and threatens to become a second Eastern question. We propose to sketch the history of the island and to explain the cause of its sudden importance.

Though discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese, and partially colonized at times by the Dutch, French, and English, it has, up to this time, preserved an independent government; or rather, the native tribes have been allowed to fight and enslave each other without much aid or hindrance from Europeans.

When England, early in the present century, began the task of subduing the East, she found in her conquests of Mauritius and Bourbon the natural and important links in her chain of posts. As a recent writer has well pointed out, she has a succession of fortified posts, Gibraltar, St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, Mauritius, and Ceylon, reaching from London to Calcutta and Singapore. The commerce of the world, as it sweeps by the Cape of Good Hope, is forced to pursue a track in which her strongholds are situated. But for the blindness of her former rulers, she would be the mistress of the Eastern seas. Two points, however, have been left unguarded. In some trading convention, some congress of nations, England made the great mistake of restoring to France the Island of Bourbon, surrendering one of the keys to the impregnable position she held. Other reasons have prevented the acquisition of Madagascar, and it is not yet too late to render this mistake fatal to her supremacy. It is true that in case of war, her armed steamers may start with the assurance of a secure coaling station at the end of every ten days' journey, but from the Cape eastward she is dependent upon her maintenance of Mauritius.

France has made the most of the opportunity given to her, by holding Bourbon as a military colony, and maintaining a powerful fleet there. It is, however, for us to regard the interests of the United States, and to see if any foothold can be gained for our protection. Had war been the result of the Trent affair, what would have become of our immense fleet of merchant ships which was then afloat in Indian waters? Manila and Batavia were the only two neutral ports to which they could have fled for safety; and neither Spain nor Holland would have dared to permit our cruisers to refit or to coal in their ports. The American flag would have been driven from those seas without the slightest difficulty.

And yet the means for avoiding this disgraceful state of affairs in the future lie open to us now. The fertile Island of Madagascar, abounding in safe harbors, lies as near the track of commerce as do Mauritius and Bourbon. It has innumerable advantages over either of these islands, and it is especially adapted to our wants. Mauritius must be weak in time of war, because it is so entirely an artificial colony. A mere dot on the map, only some thirty miles in diameter, it has a population of over three hundred thousand, wholly devoted to the cultivation of sugar. This product has been the source of immense wealth to the island, but it has necessitated the abandonment of every other branch of agriculture. These three hundred thousand inhabitants are literally dependent for their daily food on the kindness of the elements in time of peace, and on the naval supremacy of England in time of war. There is not enough grain raised there to supply the colonists with food for twenty-four hours, and there is rarely a supply in reserve to last them for two months. Their rice is brought from India, their cattle from Madagascar. Let the free intercourse with these countries be suspended, and a famine is inevitable. The noble harbor of Port Louis, with its fortifications, its dockyards, and coal sheds, is a source of strength to England only so long as she can prevent her enemies from establishing themselves in Madagascar.

France is striving to rival and surpass England. At Bourbon, already strongly fortified, immense artificial docks are projected, perhaps commenced. The colony has annually a deficit in its accounts to be made good from the national treasury, but extension rather than retrenchment is its policy. France has acquired the Mayotte or Comoro Islands, and several ports on the north of Madagascar. She has also the sympathy of all the creoles of Mauritius, in whose minds the English occupation of fifty years has been unable to stifle the instinct of nationality.

Thus the two great Western powers stand, nominally allies at home, jealous and active enemies abroad.

Circumstances have kept both powers from seizing the tempting prize which has so long hung before them. What are these two pitiful islands in comparison with the great, wealthy, and fertile island which, lies to the west of them? In time of peace they are convenient points in the great lines of commerce; here the disabled vessels of all nations find a resting place. In time of war they are strongly entrenched positions, liable to capture by any nation which can secure a base for operations against them. Madagascar, on the other hand, stands fifth on the list of islands in magnitude, is situated in the latitude most favorable for agriculture, and abounds in every kind of material wealth. A harbor on its coast, with the whole island as a depot from whence supplies can be drawn, would be a source of strength more than sufficient to counterbalance the works of half a century's growth at Mauritius. We have only to see, therefore, if such a concession can be obtained for this country.

We have said that repeated and ineffectual attempts were made to subdue and colonize the island. Numerous tribes, of widely varying origin, people the island, some black as the blackest negro, others of the Malay or Arab type. For centuries they had been engaged in domestic wars, when in 1816 the English Government agreed to recognize the chief of one tribe as king of the island, on condition that he would suppress the foreign slave trade.

The chief thus selected was Radama, king of the Hovas, a tribe occupying the centre of the island, and the one which ranked highest in the scale for intelligence. It is believed that this race, presenting so many characteristics of the Malays, is the result of some piratical colony here, established by chance or the desire of conquest. That the Hovas possess a high degree of intelligence, and are capable of as much culture as the Japanese or Mavris, is indisputable.

Thanks to the muskets and military instructors with which England provided him, Radama was enabled to extend his conquests in every direction. He was indeed fitted to be a ruler, and, a savage Napoleon, he devoted as much time to improvement of his subjects as he did to the increase of his territories. Though not a convert, he allowed the missionaries to preach the gospel, to reduce the Hova language to writing, and to translate the Bible. He permitted them to establish schools, to import printing presses, to instruct his people in agriculture and mechanics. They rapidly availed themselves of the opportunity, and with mines of coal, iron, and copper in abundance, they became skilful artificers.

Unfortunately, Radama died in 1828, in the prime of life; and, by an intrigue in his harem, a concubine, Ranavalo, was proclaimed Queen of Madagascar. The advance had been too rapid, and, as in Japan, there was a large party of conservatives anxious to return to the old regime. The new queen dissembled for a few years, but finally expelled the missionaries in 1835. Idolatry was again resumed, and Christianity stifled. A certain amount of commerce was allowed with Europeans, but under severe restrictions. So necessary to the existence of the neighboring colonists was the supply of food, that when in 1844 the trade was forbidden, the English Government was obliged to yield. The difficulty arose from the fact that an English vessel, the 'Marie Laure,' kidnapped some of the Malagash. The Hovas seized one of the crew, and then declared non-intercourse. In 1845, one English and two French men-of-war attacked Tamatave, but were repulsed with considerable losses.

Finally the matter was settled by the payment of $15,000 to the queen as an indemnity, and this sum, raised by the contributions of the merchants of Port Louis, was paid with the consent of the English Government.

Until 1861, there was no change in the position of affairs, except one incident, which Madame Pfeiffer records. In 1831, a certain M. Laborde, shipwrecked on the coast, was carried as a prisoner to the capital, where he was kept in an honorable captivity. He taught the natives the art of casting cannon and manufacturing gunpowder, and acquired a considerable property. In 1855, he was joined by M. Lambert, a Frenchman of wealth, and they became the favorites of the Prince Rakoto. This son of the queen was at the head of the liberal party, as his cousin, Ramboasalama, was of the conservative. The latter, nephew of the queen, and brother-in-law of the prince, had been designated as heir presumptive before the birth of Rakoto; and he had always the credit of a design to contest the succession.

The visit of Mr. Ellis, an English missionary, in 1856, was the signal for the intrigues which were about to commence between the French and English. The prince was warmly attached to M. Lambert, but the English hoped to claim him as a Protestant. Finally, as Madame Pfeiffer says, M. Lambert attempted to create a revolution, seeking to depose the queen, but he was discovered and banished.

In 1861, the queen died, and her son succeeded as Radama II, after a short contest with his cousin. Having been on the island at the time, and leaving it in the vessel which carried the new king's letters to the colonial governments, the writer can testify to the intense interest evinced by the French and English. It was confidently asserted at Bourbon that Radama had placed the island under the protection of France, and that French influence was to predominate. This proved unfounded, but the court was the centre for incessant intrigues.

The new king commenced his reign under the happiest auspices. He was very popular, and his reputation for kindness had soon caused many of the surrounding tribes to acknowledge his supremacy. The Hovas had spread from the centre toward the coast in all directions—to the eastward they had subdued the Betsimarakas; to the westward, the Saccalaves. Yet numerous tribes had remained independent, and held large portions of the coast and the interior. The cruelty of the queen had kept alive their animosity, but now they voluntarily came forward to acknowledge her son and to be received into the Hova nation.

The people already had acquired a taste for European luxuries, and were desirous of an extended commerce. As they were rich in herds and flocks, in grain and fruits, as their forests of ebony, rosewood, and other valuable woods were immense, as their mines yielded coal and iron, perhaps even gold, they were ready and anxious to open their ports to the commerce of the world. England and France both recognized the king, sent envoys with congratulatory letters and presents, and appointed resident consuls. The United States alone, unfortunately plunged in civil war, neglected the opportunity.

The king proclaimed freedom of religion, permitted the establishment of schools, established freedom of imports and exports, and granted lands to all bona fide settlers.

It was with the greatest surprise, therefore, that we have learned, some two months since, that a revolution has taken place, and that these fair prospects have been darkened by the murder of the king. It seems that he had made such lavish grants of land to his favorite, Lambert, that his nobles rebelled. Lambert had been sent to France to obtain the regalia for the coronation, and had organized a great company to hold these concessions. Whether the feuds of the missionaries, Protestant English and Catholic French, aided this, is not yet known.

It is clear, however, that the king and many of his personal friends were killed, and that his wife, Rabodo, is the queen. She is the sister of Ramboasalama, and probably represents the party of retrogression.

It is not, however, too late for our Government to recognize the ruler of Madagascar, and to obtain those indispensable advantages resulting. In time of peace, we shall have safe harbors for our merchant vessels, and we shall open a new field for our commerce. In time of war, we shall have these neutral ports as a refuge, and should diplomacy go one step farther and secure us a coaling station, we shall be on equal terms in the East with the other great maritime powers.

There is certainly no time to be lost. A single English steamer, flying the confederate flag, can pass the Cape, can coal at Mauritius, or rendezvous at Madagascar, and could then destroy more shipping than the whole fleet of pirates has yet done. It is at least probable that our national vessels would be refused permission to avail of Port Louis for repairs or supplies. It certainly does not comport with the honor of the nation to have to rely upon the churlish courtesy of England. Already, too, we see it announced that Napoleon will find in the massacre of French subjects a pretext to seize on the island. If our Government will spare a single one of the cruisers which have so uselessly sought the Alabama, it may, during the present year, negotiate a treaty which will at once advance our prosperity in peace, and increase our strength in any future war.

It seems strange, indeed, that our statesmen cannot learn that we must hereafter abandon our isolated condition. England has taught us the folly of continuing indifferent to her aggressions in the East, in the hope that she will not interfere in the West. No blow can be more fatal to her supremacy abroad than the knowledge that we have secured a point where we perpetually threaten her line of communication with her colonies.

We have written thus fully, because so few persons have had occasion to consider the subject. It seems probable, from the latest advices from Port Louis, that some envoy has visited the island, but what we require is a more imposing display of our power. The new queen, who has assumed the name of Rahoserina, is but a puppet in the hands of the council of nobles, of which Rainivoninahitriniony is the chief. Formerly all honors were held subject to the pleasure of the king, who could degrade his servants at pleasure; but this power is now declared to be abrogated. The powerful tribe of Saccalaves, always independent until the accession of Radama II, refuses to acknowledge his successor. It may be necessary to negotiate different treaties, perhaps, to protect American citizens in case of civil war. It is certainly most important to show the natives that we are really a great maritime nation. The time and position demand the employment of an able envoy, and the presence of such a naval force as may cause his mission to be respected.

Our last topic is to be considered. We do not advocate the establishment of costly works by Government, or the acquisition of a colony. The laws of commerce will provide the first, if only a proper protection is given to enterprise. Let us obtain but a single port under the safeguard of the American flag, and it will become a depot as flourishing as Singapore. Private enterprise will speedily establish dockyards and machine shops; for not only will there be an immense legitimate commerce with the Malagash, but the port will be the great centre for repairing and refitting our merchant vessels and whalers. The one thing needful, we repeat, is prompt action by our Government, with the certainty that the opportunity now presented will not return.

NOTE.—The latest advices from Madagascar, received via Mauritius, throw a little light upon the revolution which resulted in the death of Radama II. It seems probable that the late king had lost the esteem of his people by his partiality toward his favorites, by the concessions made to foreigners, especially to M. Lambert, and by his vacillating course in religious matters. His private life was such as to render it highly improbable that he had become a Christian; yet Mr. Ellis, the English missionary, exercised a great control over him.

The late queen was buried at Ambohimanga, a little village where there was a temple devoted to the chief idol. It seems that her son had promised to keep this spot sacred from the intrusion of the missionaries. Mr. Ellis most imprudently determined to preach there, and though driven away once, obtained troops from the king, and succeeded in a second attempt.

As the nobles and the population were almost unanimously in favor of idolatry, this course gave cause for great dissatisfaction. The more devout, assembling near the capital, held daily meetings, and a disease called ramanenra—a sort of nervous affection, such as has too often accompanied revivals in Christian countries—appeared among them. The nobles confederated under the lead of the commander-in-chief, Rainivoninahitriniony, and remained aloof from supporting the king. Finally, the king published a mysterious law, allowing individuals or tribes to fight in the presence of witnesses—a law supposed by the one party to encourage assassination, and by the other to tend to the extirpation of the Christians.

The prime minister, in a letter written in English, explains the last scene thus: On the 8th May, the chief officers requested the repeal of these laws; the king refused; and the tenth day, a public tumult resulted in the slaughter of the Menamaso, or native favorites of the king. On the 12th May, the leaders, afraid to pause, strangled the king, and proclaimed Rabodo queen, under the name of Rahoserina.

It is believed that no foreigner was injured; but the nobles have taken an important step in proclaiming the new queen as direct successor of Ranavalo—thereby ignoring the reign of Radama II. As the fundamental rule of the Hovas had been that the title to all land was in the sovereign and inalienable, the grants to Lambert and others are held to be void. We believe this has not been officially stated, but Commodore Dupre, who negotiated the treaty between France and Radama, says that the treaty was almost unanimously rejected by the great council of nobles, and was accepted solely by the king.

The last advices, 6th September, from Port Louis, are that the French fleet at Tamatave maintains a semi-warlike attitude toward the Hovas, not landing nor recognizing the authorities. Rumors are rife of the intentions of the French Government to seize Tamatave, and apply other coercive measures, unless the former treaty is carried into effect.

The case seems to stand thus: The emperor, availing of the weakness of Radama II for his favorite Lambert, concluded a treaty, by which the king was to entirely alter the laws of the kingdom, and to give the French a controlling influence in the Indian Ocean. The people have deposed their ruler, and refuse to be bound by arrangements made by his will alone. Under ordinary circumstances, Napoleon would hardly brave the anger of England in a matter in which the latter has so much at stake. The prize, however, is well worth the effort. Any European nation obtaining sole possession of Madagascar dominates the East. It is surely time for our Government to awake to the importance of the steps now being taken. It is not a time when the interests of the country can be intrusted to the efforts of a consul or any inferior naval officer. We ought to send an envoy with powers to negotiate a treaty, and with such a fleet as will insure a respectful attention to our demands. The number of American vessels which frequent the coasts of Madagascar is a sufficient reason for us to interfere, without regard to the vastly greater interests which demand that this island shall not become a French colony. Our prediction that the confederate pirates would soon sweep the Indian Ocean of our richly laden India-men seems in a fair way to be accomplished; and where, save by the contemptuous forbearance of England and France, can our cruisers find a port for supplies, repairs, or information?


[Greek: "Cheires men hagnai, phren d' echei miasma ti."]


O Friend, thy brow is overcast; but haply for thy grief, Though all untold, a spell I hold to work a swift relief,— A hallowed spell;—no rites we need that shun the light, Thy taper trim; for we must read some dark old words to-night. For I will, shall I?—from their graves call up the holy dead, More mighty than the living oft such soul as thine to aid. From Fear and Woe, through fears and woes like thine, they won release, And through our still confronting foes once fought their way to peace. 'Twixt woe and weal, a balm to heal our every wound they found, An outlet for each pool of strife, that whirls us round and round. And if perhaps their childish time discerned not all aright,— While Fancy her stained windows reared between them and the light,— That in these clearer latter days 'tis given to thee to know, Then seek the spirit they received, and bid the letter go. Thy heart unto its Lord unlock; and shut thy closet's door. The holy water of thy tears drop on the quiet floor. Unclasp the old brown tome. The walls no more are seen. The page I read; and we are backward borne far in a bygone age. The spell hath wrought. To take us in, a tower and bower advance Where grows upon our steadfast gaze the royal saint of France. The bower full well a hermit's cell—with hourglass and with skull— Might seem,—the hangings woven all of rocks and mosses full. The floor is thick with rushes strown. Some resting place is there Worn,—as amid the rushy marsh by stag that made his lair,— Worn just beneath yon carven form, that bends in pain and love, As if to bless, from its high place, and almost seems to move, While round it in the wind of night the arras swells and swings,— The viceroy's of the universe, son of the King of kings. For Louis loves to leave his court, and lay aside his crown, And to a mightier Prince than he to bow in homage down. In this great presence learns the king peace, truth, and lowlihead; Here learns the saint the majesty no earthly power to dread. But now the king's mute voice it rings, and through the shades doth call: 'Ho, Sire de Jonville, come to me, my doughty seneschal!' The rafters feel the tramp of steel; and by the monarch stand Again the feet that by him stood far in the Holy Land. 'O Sire de Jonville,' to his friend and servant Louis saith, 'Hold fast and firmly to the end the jewel of thy faith. Strong faith's the key of heaven; and once an abbot taught to me, If will is good, though faith is weak, shall faith accepted be. This tale he told[11]:

A Master old,—Master of Sacred Lore,— Of life unsmirched, once came to him in straits and travail sore, 'What wouldst thou, Master?—What the grief that makes thee peak and pine? And comest thou to me?—My soul hath often leaned on thine!' 'Let each co-pilgrim lean in turn on each,' in anguish meek, With tongue that clave unto his mouth, the Master then did speak; But when the abbot led him in and lent his pitying ears, Then tears came fast instead of words; words could not come for tears. 'O brother, weep no more; but speak, and banish thy dismay. Of man is guilt; but grace is God's, that purgeth guilt away. If all our little being's bound were filled and stuffed with sin, 'Twere nothing to the holiness His mighty heart within; And in this wilderness of life there's no such crooked road, But from it may a path be found straight to the throne of God. The penitent that mourns like thee, that path will surely take. What needeth but to own thy sin and straight thy sin forsake?' 'Yet must I weep. Mine inward plight is one that stands alone. The outward ill the tempted wight may do or leave undone; But when I to the altar go, to eat the sacred bread And gaze upon the blood divine, that for us all was shed, Still Satan stirreth up in me a heart of unbelief!— This guilt must sure unmeasured be, save haply by this grief!' The abbot's brows were sternly bent an instant on his guest: 'Dost thou—thou dost not, sure!—invite this traitor to thy breast?' 'The livelong day, though sore assailed, true watch and ward I keep,— Keep vigils long as flesh can bear,—but in my helpless sleep— Thronged heaven, canst thou no angel spare, to sit by me by night And drive away the hell-sent dreams, that drive me wild with fright?— I seem to spill with frantic hands, and spurn the piteous blood, To trample on the blessed bread, and spit upon the rood!' The abbot's cheer grew calm and clear: 'Now, Master, tell me true: For aught that Satan proffers thee, such trespass wouldst thou do?' 'From his poor thrall he taketh all, and offers nought instead. The Father's grace,—the Son's mild face,—are all I crave,' he said. 'For any threat of any fate, wouldst follow his commands?' 'The fiery stake I'd rather make my portion at his hands!' The abbot's mien was bright, I ween, as 'twere a saint's in bliss: 'O fiend, 'tis well to seek for hell so pure a gem as this! O cunning foe, that round dost go these heavenward birds to snare, When every brighter line is vain, wouldst tempt them with despair? Bethink thee, Master. War doth rage 'twixt Britain's king, we know, And ours. Now tell me unto whom most thanks our liege shall owe, When war is o'er? To him who, oft assailed but never quelled, The castle of Rochelle upon the dangerous Marches held,— Whose battlements must bristle still with halberd, bow, and lance,— Or Montl'hery's, that nestles safe close to the heart of France?' 'Unto the warden of Rochelle. Thou'rt answered easily!' 'That stronghold is thy heart, but mine the keep of Montl'hery, For He who giveth gifts to all, hath given me to believe So steadfastly, that strife like thine my wit can scarce conceive. From th' Enemy God keepeth me,—He knows my weaker strength,— But suffers thee assayed to be for higher meed at length. Then let us at our different posts His equal mercies own; But they the sharpest thorns who bear may wear the brightest crown.' Beside the kneeling penitent the abbot bent his knee, Sent his own praise and prayers to heaven forth on an embassy, Then raised him up, and saw that God had sent him answering grace; The shadow of the Enemy had left his heart and face. Calmly as warily he walked his fellow men beside, A good, grave man. 'Tis said, at last a happy man he died.'


The enemies of our cause in Europe seem to have settled in their own minds the certainty of a final separation of the American States. Compelled though they may be, reluctantly to admit the superiority of our resources and the immense advantages we have recently gained over the conspirators, they yet adhere with singular tenacity to the belief that all our victories will be barren, and that all our vast acquisitions of Southern territory will not avail for the ultimate restoration of the Union. Though the domain originally usurped by the rebellion is already sundered by our possession of that great continental highway, the Mississippi river, and though no shadow of hope remains that the enemies of the Union will ever be able to recover it; though the recent boundless theatre of hostilities is gradually contracting, and the resources of the rebellion are rapidly melting away, until there remains no longer any doubt of our ultimate and even speedy success in crushing the wasted armies of the desperate foe; and though the boundaries of the boasted confederacy are uncertain, ever-shifting, and mystical, while whole populations of recovered regions of country hail the advent of our conquering flag with streaming eyes and shouts of joy; yet our jealous friends across the water, in the very act of acknowledging all this, never fail to assert, with the utmost vehemence, that in spite of all our military advantages, the Union is still irrecoverably destroyed. There is something remarkable in this persistent opinion, which, through all the changes of condition exhibited by the hostile parties in our struggling country, continues to possess the mind of British statesmen with unshaken firmness. If they undertake to justify their hasty recognition of the rebels as belligerents, and to vindicate their alleged impartial neutrality, they take apparently peculiar delight in fortifying themselves with the declaration that the Union is effectually broken, and can never be restored. It is necessary to throw the shield of this cherished anticipation back on the unfriendly acts they have perpetrated against us, in order fully to justify their conduct to themselves. If the rebellious States should indeed be compelled to acknowledge the authority of the Federal Government, and should return again to their position in the Union, the hostile cruisers which have been fitted out in England to harass our commerce, would occasion some unpleasant negotiations, and perhaps some costly responsibilities. To brush these all aside, and at the same time to get rid of a troublesome rival in commerce and manufactures, by the final separation of the Union, is, to them, on all accounts, 'a consummation most devoutly to be wished.' They may yet have to learn, through the experience of their Southern friends, that

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