A FIRST - CLASS old lady is the most precious social possession of a New-England town. I have been in places where this office of Select Woman had languished for want of a proper incumbent,—that is, where the feminine element was always supplicatory, never authoritative. In such a place you may find the Select Men as vulgar and unclean as are some of the more pretentious politicians of State or nation; the variety-store sands its sugar quite up to the city - standard; and the parson is as timid a timeserver as the Bishop of Babylon. No rich local tone and character are to be found in such a place.
This deplorable state of things had never existed in Foxden. When strangers took a carriage at the depot and asked to be shown whatever was noteworthy in the town, they were driven to a manygabled house shaded by a majestic oak, and informed that there lived Mrs. widesworth, the grand-daughter of Twynintuft, the famous elocutionist. They were also assured that the oak was no other than the Twynintuft Oak, celebrated in the well-known sonnet of a distinguished American poet. Moreover, they were instructed that the room just to the right of the porch was a study added by Twynintuft himself in the year ’87, and that the shattered shed in the background was originally an elocutionary laboratory which had seen the forming of many Congressional orators.
In so confident a way was this information imparted, that visitors were compelled to receive it in all humbleness, and as a matter of course. They could only feign that Twynintuft had been a household word from their tenderest infancy, and that they had made pilgrimage to Foxden to gaze upon the earthly abiding-place of this remarkable man. Accordingly, young ladies sent their best respects from the hotel, and “ Would dear Mrs. widesworth spare them a few leaves from her grandfather’s oak ? ” And simple young gentlemen, with a morbid passion for notorieties and moral sentiments, forwarded little books, bound in sheepskin heavily gilt, inscribed, “ WorldThoughts of My Country’s Gifted Minds,” and “Mrs. Widesworth is requested to write any maxim which her experience of life may have suggested on page 209 of this volume, just between the remarks of the Living Skeleton and the autograph of the Idiot Albino.”
If invited to visit any one of consideration in Foxden, you would no sooner have deposited your travelling-bag and subsided into the arm-chair than you would perceive a curious nervous twitching about the features of your host, which would finally culminate in these accents of patronizing triumph: — “ My dear Sir, I shall be glad to take you across the street to pay your respects to Mrs. Widesworth ! " Every householder quivered with anxiety until this rite had been solemnly performed.
Mrs. Widesworth, the actual, was a plump, well-to-do widow, of threescore years. She lived among her fellow-creatures, but not of them, — and that in a sense far more comfortable than Byronic misanthropy could imagine. She managed to keep all the tumult and competition of this rough world just outside the little whitewashed fence which inclosed her premises. No solitary saint of the Middle Ages floated in a more lofty independence of the foolish heresies of vulgar humanity. The mission of woman must, of necessity, be identical with the mission of Mrs. Widesworth, — and this was, to bestow a mellow patronage upon all creation. That whatever is is right, and that this is the best possible of worlds, were to Mrs. Widesworth propositions which her perfect health and unmitigated prosperity continually proved. That, in a theological point of view, everything was wrong, she considered an esoteric condiment to add piquancy to the loaves and fishes which Providence had set before her.
Concerning the eminent Twynintuft, it may be remarked that he had devoted a long life to elocution, and produced a bulky manual full of illustrative quavers. And as it happened that his work was the first of the sort published in America, it obtained a pretty general circulation in schools and colleges, and was even patronizingly noticed in a British Review,—at that time the apotheosis of our native authorship. But, alas for the perishable nature of literary productions ! “ Twynintuft on the Human Voice” had long been superseded, and lay comfortably buried in that cemetery of dead textbooks from which there is no resurrection. Yet, as he had once been one of the notables of Foxden, the inhabitants of the town indulged themselves in the soothing fiction that his memory was still verdant among men, and did pious homage to his representative.
Until the correspondence of Colonel Prowley had drawn Miss Hurribattle to Foxden, Mrs. Widesworth reigned by divine right. All quilting-bees and charitable fairs seemed but manifestations of her pervading vitality. Every social detail was submitted to her arbitrament. She hovered over the gossips of the town like Fate in a Greek tragedy, — but it was a reformed Fate, with a wholesome respect for family and condition.
An entertainment widely famous as “ Mrs. Widesworth's Semiannual Singing-School” brought forth every spring and fall the entire strength of this excellent lady. The origin of this festivity was of ancient date. The early settlers in Foxden, while holding decided opinions concerning the mischief of churchorgans, were unusually tolerant of vocal music. They doubted not that a preached gospel might be worthily seconded by a vigorous psalmody. Weekly meetings of the young men and maidens were allowed for practice, and the pot of beans, surmounted by its crisp coronal of pork, closed the evening in simple conviviality. This singing-school had descended through the generations, and in solemn rotation visited the families of all churchmembers. Under the fostering care of Mrs. Widesworth, the occasion grew to a musical festival of considerable importance. When the meeting was at her house, there were invited many citizens of distinction from the neighboring towns; also, there was summoned all that was lively, pretty, or profound in Foxden. From three in the afternoon until nine in the evening the old house broke out into singing, chatting, love-making, and sermonizing in rich variety. The ancient bean-pot gave place to a tea-table loaded with everything which might be baked or fried or stewed. Upon that day people in wise foresight made but slender dinners. The hostess was known to possess a culinary experience of no ordinary scope, and the air of the house was heavy with the delicate incense of waffles and dough-nuts. When the evening happened to be mild, and that comfortable estate of fulness whose adjectives the Latin Grammar tells us require the ablative had been attained, there was more music, secular, but highly decorous, beneath the rustling boughs of the oak. Then the merriment grew hearty, and mocked the sombre night. In vain the crickets chirped their shrill jeer at fallen humanity ; the crackling leaves whispered, — but no more audibly than to the painted Indians who once danced beneath the tree which the unborn Twynintuft was to monopolize.
Perhaps you think Mrs. Widesworth a kind-hearted, charitable, respectable old lady, — in short, a model citizeness ! Many Foxden people thought so, until, in the fulness of time, they were drugged with iconoclastic logic, ghastly and fierce. Then this worthy person suddenly loomed before them as a patron and upholder of every social abuse. She was a trampler upon the rights of her sex, and deeply involved in the guilt of baby-selling at Charleston. Above all, she was a Mod-erate Drinker, (half a glass of Sherry with her dinner, you know,) and, as such, could be proved to be the bulwark of the bar-room, and directly responsible for the ruin of the most talented graduates of Harvard College. The brutalities of every wife-beating drunkard just landed upon our shores might be logically credited to Mrs. Widesworth, and to those respectable (with great sarcasm) churchmembers (sarcasm more intense) who countenanced the moderate use of intoxicating drinks.
For now there had come upon Foxden that political, sanatory, anti-everything revival, which, in those days, thrilled through our river-towns and took the place of the theological revival, which the churches seemed too feeble to produce. And—but this is addressed only to simple souls who think that Cæsar crossed the Rubicon, and Luther instituted the Reformation—the settlement of Miss Patience Hurribattle in a Foxden boarding-house produced the social upheaval which shook the place. Of course, the enlightened reader of the “ Atlantic ” is well aware that the mighty personages of history may be philosophically bejuggled out of all claim to the admiration or reprobation of men. What did they do but react on the society which created them ? — what were they but the average tendencies of an age clad in petticoats or top-boots, as the case might be? So let it be written, that the great Cosmos-machine had ground itself to the precise point which necessitated a reformatory tumult in Foxden, and it mattered little who happened to be there to patronize it.
For several previous years Miss Hurribattle had borne about her an uncomfortable turbulence of heroic effort. She had gradually accustomed herself to regard our crooked humanity as something capable of being caught up and reformed by a rapacious philanthropist. She had reached a mental condition to which the time was as thoroughly out of joint as it ever appeared to Hamlet, although, unlike that impracticable character, she took great comfort in the belief that she was especially born to set it right. The choice varieties of men know that truth as it is and truth as it appears to them are very different matters. But, thank Heaven, the feminine nature is bound by no such doleful barrier ! The man who thinks is limited; the woman who feels may expand indefinitely. Miss Hurribattle’s mission was to attract the world’s capital of unemployed sentiment, and to set it to work in the mills of society. Let it be said of this woman, that, without wealth of talent or any exact culture, she possessed the sweetest accompaniments of the highest masculine genius, — enthusiasm and simplicity.
The questioning spirit gradually took form in various radical clubs and associations. Pleasing themselves with shining symbols, and complimenting each other with antique titles of nobility, a large majority of the Foxden shop-keepers enlisted in the sacred crusade. This new physical revival, like the old religious revivals, soon got into the schools, and processions of children, fluttering many-colored ribbons, paraded the streets. There was an Anti-Spirit League and an Anti-Tea-andCoffee League; also an Anti - Tobacco League was in hopeful process of formation. And soon professional reformers of most destructive character were attracted to the place, and, having once at tached themselves, hung like leeches upon the community. The celebrated Mrs. Romulus, and the great socialist, Mr. Stellato, snuffing their victims afar off, left their work unfinished in towns of less importance, and hurried to Foxden. Shrewd wasps were these, bent upon getting up beehives of coöperative activity.
Less and less grew the stanch garrison who must defend the conservative citadel against the daring hordes. Nevertheless, some boldly stood out, and showed a spirit— or shall it be said an obstinacy ? — which cowed unpractised assailants. Deacon Greenlaw had not yet been persuaded to burn his cider-mill,—although committees of matrons had visited him to ascertain when he proposed to do so, — although bevies of children had been dressed in white and set upon Mrs. Greenlaw, — although Mr. Stellato, as Chief of the Progressive Gladiators, had called in person to demand a public destruction of that accursed instrument for the ruin of men. The Deacon defied the moral sentiment of the town. Doctor Dastick sturdily maintained that tea and coffee were not injurious, and had got hold of the preventing-waste-of-tissue theory in respect to more potent beverages. The old-fashioned hospitable soul of Colonel Prow ley took cognizance of the fact that the Odes of Horace made no unkindly mention of ripe Falernian, and that the most admirable heroes of Plutarch do not appear to have been teetotalers. Mrs. Widesworth, good lady, rode like a cork upon the deep unrest of society : she thought the whole business infidel as well as absurd, and, so thinking, did not trouble herself much about it. Mr. Clifton had preached a sermon in which he took the ground that morality could be best promoted by regulating, instead of extirpating, human propensities.
Then the rising tide of reform beat heavily upon the church-doors. By stiff, inexorable logic, those clergymen who refused to join the popular charge against the outworks of Evil were declared to be in intimate alliance with its very Essence. Although the Bible, as a whole, was held in little regard by the leading reformers, they were wonderfully expert in plucking out texts here and there, and dovetailing them into scaffolding to sustain their platform. The grand denunciations of Jeremiah were shown to have been shot point-blank at our poor little NewEngland meeting-houses. It was their fasts and their new moons which the prophet (his prophetic claims were here generously admitted) aimed at. Some churches stood the shock of the angry elements. But many young ministers were borne away before the storm, and carried their side-aisles and galleries along with them. What! had a theological simulacrum of Satan excited their fathers to doughty deeds, — and should they hold back, when challenged to meet him in proper person, hand to hand ? Thus persuading themselves, these ardent divines caught up bitter words which had drifted out of the dictionary, and laid about them with a spirit not wholly removed from the old ecclesiastical rancor which would kill where it could not convince. And taking it for granted that it is the mission of the intellect to rectify what is wrong in the world, fruition seemed to answer their efforts. Society was put to its purgation in very plausible fashion. Songs about Temperance and various desirable perfections of the outward man were shouted in bar-rooms hired for the purpose at considerable expense. Then there was dimly seen a further “ progress,” of which certain movers of the people were the warm advocates. Having got the machinery well to work, might it not be twitched and pulled to effect a wider purification ? It began to be hinted that the use of wine in the sacred offices of religion could not be countenanced, if its employment elsewhere were the monster iniquity it was shown to be. That philosophical friend of humanity, Mr. Stellato, began to denounce the consumers of animal food with every unpleasant illustration the shambles could be made to supply. In very select companies of sympathizers, as well as in the Graduating Circle of Progressive Gladiators, it was known that Mrs. Romulus maintained a hideous doctrine subversive of that sacrament of the family which raises the life of man above the life of the wolf and ape.
Yet of the views and endeavors of the great mass of these earnest people we may speak only with honor and gratitude. Much good work done in that distant year of grace remains with us today. Who is more practical than the idealist? If I read history aright, it is only the white-heat of fanaticism which brands a true word into the tough hide of' society. A supreme pursuit of one virtue by the few can alone neutralize a supreme devotion by the many to the opposite vice. Let us rejoice that some men and women are under the necessity of thinking no good thought which they do not attempt to utilize at all hazards. Also, it is well not to repine overmuch because many conscientious citizens cannot induce a concentration of vision which directs all feeling, hissing-hot, into one channel. They save us from the intolerable monotony of a whole world of heroes, and leave you and me, good reader, in blessed freedom to demand the theoretically right and ignore the practically expedient.
To the beginnings of this angry perturbation the Reverend Charles Clifton had returned, after abandoning the Vannelle manuscript under circumstances detailed in the last number of this magazine. To one in his position of mind it was of the highest importance to come upon some work that he was fitted to do. It was his unhappy destiny to be placed just where such power as he had could accomplish nothing. Timid by nature, a cautious lover of compromise, self-baffled in a brilliant flutter for truth, what had he to do in a vulgar conflict of opinion, in a common, healthy play of free thought and speech? Peering off into immensity until he had become utterly adrift in theology, the minister found himself too feeble to stand upon the moral basis of some practical creed. His regular parish duties afforded but slender occupation ; he had the gift of speaking extemporaneously, or from such notes as might be made upon the back of a letter half an hour before church ; he was not called upon to do more catechizing or visiting than was agreeable to his mood. He accordingly yielded to an indolence of disposition which detained his vanishing illusions, and indulged in such studies as served to prolong the barren contemplation which had wasted his youth. My knowledge of the secret committed for eighty years to the Mather Safe made me the only person to whom Clifton could freely write. At some private inconvenience, I admitted a tolerably full intercourse with my new correspondent. He declared that the sympathy of a man in active affairs was invaluable to a solitary student like himself: he hoped, so he said, to see through my eyes the facts of life. It was not difficult to discern the cause of the sad indecision which afflicted him. To state the case roughly, he had too much knowledge for his will. Busy people reason by instinct with sufficient accuracy, but with this man no conviction was for five minutes free from the probe of a metaphysical argument. Yet from glimpses I had obtained of that overwhelming System of Things elaborated by the two Vannelles, I could understand the condition in which its partial apprehension had left Clifton. The more I considered certain statements, authoritatively made in the portion of the manuscript I had dared to read, the firmer grew my belief that years of concentrated thought and fervent speculation had indeed illuminated, to these men, dim outlines of most august truths, — truths which some possible, although very distant, advancement of physical science might inductively realize. But I had made out to dismiss the matter, with the consideration that whatever it concerned me to know could be tied to no one method of pursuit, — and, so reflecting, returned contentedly to the multiplex concerns with which I was then occupied. Clifton, on the contrary, having always struggled loftily along the same narrow sunbeam, was utterly unable to accept such available knowledge of a principle as is sufficient to direct our activity,— he must ever soar skyward to gaze upon the origin of its authority, until, entangled in a web of contradictions, he fell impotent to earth.
Week by week, in my city-home, through letters from the minister and Colonel Prow ley, I had been kept informed of the progress of that wild ferment going on in Foxden, At length the contentious spirit there evoked seemed ready to summon to trial all ancient and reputable things. My friends of the protesting minority were surely to be credited with good Puritan pluck ; though there was also something admirable in the vigor which had marshalled a party for their discomfiture. I began to think it my duty to visit Clifton; moreover, I was curious to see the town at the height of its effervescence. A note from Mrs. W ides worth supplied me with the needed excuse. The singing-school was to hold its semiannual meeting at her house on Thursday next; would I not come down for a day and meet many old friends ?
THE fragrance of perfected harvests pervaded Foxden. The air was full of those sweet remembrances of summer which are better than her radiant presence. The sky overhead was flooded with rich autumnal sunshine. Far to the north lay glimmering a heavy bank of clouds. There might be rain before night.
I entered the familiar parsonage and inquired for its occupant. He had walked to the end of the garden with Miss Hurribattle, who had been with him for some hours. I was at liberty to await his return in a depressing theological lumber-room, called the study. The First Church had liberally supplied its former ministers with the current literature of their craft. Current literature ! are not the words a mockery? could they ever have applied to those printed petrifact ions ? One would sooner look for vitality among the frozen denizens of the Morgue on St. Bernard! Yet I doubt if these stately authors, wrapped in the cerements of their prosiness, may reasonably reproach a forgetful world. They ministered to the wants of their present, and by so doing were privileged to fashion a future which they might not enter and possess. Complain indeed ! Why, their progeny had a good ten, twenty, or fifty years’ life of it, as the case might be, — and here about us are men of greater enterprise and grasp doomed to work off paragraphs that perish on the day of printing. Well, no earnest soul can fail to modify the character of his age, and thus of all ages. So, if our generation demands ministry in newspapers instead of folios, a man may still win an honest immortality without the biography and the bother of it.
I looked up from the books to see the clergyman part with Miss Hurribattle at the gate, and then turn his steps towards the house.
There was something like embarrassment as we exchanged greetings, yet there was hardly time to mark this before it had passed.
“Ah, Heaven! ” exclaimed Clifton, passionately, “ how I envy that woman’s faith in the omnipotence of a trifle ! Suppose you or I can attain a judicial largeness of view, is it any compensation for that intense glow of the sympathies as they crowd into one specious channel ? Why this man’s yearning after intellectual satisfaction, when we only want a little fragment of truth to hang our sentiments upon ? ”
There was bitterness in the tone in which Clifton spoke. It hinted of the living death of a proud, disappointed man, who has renounced his youth of high motives and warm ideas, who has learned to contemn his boyish ambition to do some great thing for the world. Truly it is better to consume in the flame of a fierce sectarianism than to permit the spirit of youth to die when the gray hairs come.
“ Nay, Sir,” said I, “ it is for you to be heartily thankful for this exuberant enthusiasm which has come to town. The complaint of the day is, that the doctrines of Christianity have either dissolved into abstractions or hardened into formalisms ; and here you have a crop of fresh insights to direct aright, and to keep from degenerating into fanatical clamor.”
“ But how satisfy or control these crazy people who begin by ignoring the creeping pace of Time ? Why, here is Miss Hurribattle, who has been these two hours beating into me, as with logical sledge-hammers, that it is my duty to denounce Deacon Greenlaw from the pulpit. The argument, to her mind, is overwhelming, as thus: Intoxicating fluids cause the breaking of all the commandments; cider, if one drinks enough of it, is intoxicating; Deacon Greenlaw presses apples, and sells the juice; he therefore upholds and encourages the aforesaid commandment-breaking;—it is the business of the pulpit to denounce sinners persisting in their sin, therefore, etc., etc.,—you perceive the conclusion. In short, if I do not instantly take the ruts of their narrow logic, and go about pounding into some and propounding unto others their pet scheme of regeneration,—why, I am a wolf in the sheep-fold, the Antichrist of prophecy, and I know not what other accursed thing. And here is truly the alternative, — to stagnate in a lifeless church, or to join these ravers in their breakneck leap at the Millennium.”
“ There is a noble element in this onesided pertinacity,” I suggested, “and a wise man might humor and use it for the best ends. Instead of attempting to pull these hopeful people back into the church, cannot you urge the church forward to comprehend their position ? This impulse,— fanatical as some of its manifestations doubtless are,—might it not be constrained, or at least directed ? ”
“ Never by me!” exclaimed Clifton, haughtily. “ I should have to commit myself to all the wild Saturnalia of their moralities before it would be possible to acquire any power over them.”
“ But surely you might go as far as any one in the advocacy of Temperance.” .
“ Temperance ! Why, you forget that I must denounce Temperance as the deadliest of sins, and proclaim Abstinence to be the only virtue. There is a grand State Convention of Progressive Gladiators at present in session in Foxden ; all the neighboring towns have sent delegates. Well, it was only yesterday afternoon that Stellato, in behalf of one of the committees, denounced the clergy of New England as gross flesh-eaters who had made themselves incapable of perceiving any spiritual truth. And I happen to know that Mrs. Romulus so successfully manipulated Chepunic, not a hundred miles up the river, that before leaving that town she publicly delivered her lecture entitled, ‘ Marriage a Barbarism,’ and professed to have discovered something far higher and holier than the chain of wedlock.”
“ I am sure that Miss Patience Hurribattle is ignorant of any such tendency in these new doctrines,” I exclaimed, indignantly.
“ Doubtless she is,” assented Clifton. “ There is a hopeful, simple - hearted gleam in her eye, a fine simplicity in her speech, which betokens enthusiasm of a purely religious type. But she is banded with those who would use religion only as a fiery stimulant to the intellect, never as a balm to the heart.”
A crunching upon the gravel-walk. A man and a woman were hurrying up to the parsonage. The woman short, sharp, lean; the man unctious and foxy, — yet also representing a chronic state of gelatinous bewilderment. The Great Socialists, — I knew them at once.
“ Triumph ! triumph ! ” cried Mr. Stellato, bursting into the study. “Deacon Greenlaw has been converted at last ! He will make a holocaust of his cidermill ! ”
“ He will signalize his submission to the Gladiators by a great Act of Faith ! ” exclaimed Mrs. Romulus. “ His cidermill will be publicly burned this afternoon at five o’clock. All the delegate Gladiators will march in procession to the ground. Invitations have been sent to the Order of Frugivorous Brothers, the Infants’ Anti-Tobacco League,” —
“ Two drops of the oil of tobacco will kill a tomcat of the largest proportions,” murmured Mr. Stellato, in choral parenthesis.
— “ the Principal and Patients of the Lilac-Hill Water-Cure, the Children of the Public Schools, the Millennial Choir, and Progressive Citizens generally,” said Mrs. Romulus, finishing her sentence.
“ It is the afternoon of Mrs. Widesworth’s semiannual supper to the singing-school,” hissed Mr. Stellato, maliciously. “ The Deacon’s cider-mill stands on the hill just before Mrs. Widesworth’s house : the procession may be expected to pass before her windows about four o’clock ; it will then make the circuit of the town, and reach the top of the hill a little before five, when the exercises will commence.”
Some petulant reply seemed, ready to spring from the lips of the elergyman, but he checked it, and said, —
“ You will have more water than fire: those clouds drifting up over the river mean rain.”
“ Only wine-bibbers and flesh-eaters are affected by the weather! ” responded Stellato, with great contempt. “ Sunshine and storm are alike wholesome to the purified seekers for truth ! ”
“ But there is no time to lose,” cried Mrs. Romulus. “ We have come to ask you, as pastor of the first church in this place, to make the prayer before the torch is applied. You will doubtless decline ; but we shall then be able to assure the people that the Gladiators are rejected by an apostate church, which has been cordially invited to become their fellowworker.”
“ You had really better think of it,” urged Stellato, in a seductive whisper. “ The fact is, there is a great excitement, and we are getting on famously, We are bound to carry the county at the next election, and in a year or two we shall sweep the State. We have already enrolled some of the best members of your parish, and you see the Deacon is added to the list. Influential men who join us now will be well provided for when we come into power. We want funds to carry on the cause. Think how much you might do with such men as Prowley and Dastick ! Ah, those abominable old sinners, it would be a charity to get something out of them to repair a little of the mischief they have done in the world.”
I protested at the way in which these gentlemen were mentioned : they were friends of mine, and highly esteemed citizens.
“ Sir, they are Moderate Drinkers,” said Mrs. Romulus, with an emphasis which claimed the settlement of the whole question. “ The Gladiators are full of pity for the poor lost inebriate. They propose to convert their bar-keeping brothers by a course of moral suasion. But they will ever proscribe and defy those relentless Moderate Drinkers who admit the wine-cup into their families, and — and—why, Sir, did you ever see the stomach of a Moderate Drinker ? ”
I never had.
“ Mr. Stellato has one fourteen times the size of life, colored after Nature by a progressive artist. It is a fearful sight! ”
I did not question it.
“ Once more, there is not a moment to spare,” said Mrs. Romulus, turning suddenly upon the clergyman. “ The question is, Shall we put you upon our Order of Exercises ? ”
“ It would not sound badly,” insinuated Stellato, perusing the document in imagination : “ ' Chant, by the Choir; Recitation of Original Verses, by Jane Romulus ; Prayer, by the Reverend Charles Clifton ’ ”-
“Stop!” cried the clergyman. "I decline all connection with this business. I have no sympathy with its promoters, and I will never cower before the mobtyranny they evoke. If I have yet any influence in the First Church, it shall be used in solemnly counselling all youths and maidens of the congregation to report themselves at Mrs. Widesworth’s singing-school. The feverish paroxysms of these public meetings are doubtless more stimulating than the humble duties of home, or the modest pleasures at which a lady of Mrs. Widesworth’s character is willing to preside ; but it is not the wholesome activity which a wise man may promote. And I know that to the children of our public schools such excitement is far more fatal than the cup they never coveted : their minds should be nurtured in moderation and simplicity, even as their bodies are best nourished upon bread and milk.”
“ Bread and milk ! ” echoed Mrs. Romulus in shrill falsetto; " say rather loaves of plaster and alum crumbed into bowls of chalk - mixture ! This is the sort of bread and milk furnished by your barbarous civilization ! But the beginning of the end of this priestridden world has at length come. A new era is dawning upon earth. Much-oppressed Woman asserts her entire freedom ; she insists upon her passional independence, and demands harmonial development. She is going to get it, too ! Stellato, come along ! ”
We watched them up the gravel-walk, and then off upon the dusty road.
The minister meditated in silence, as one who had the gift of penetrating beyond his fellows into the mystery of sin. Now he was distrustful : the time might soon come when he would be desperate. I think he almost longed for the power to become a proselyte to any active communion, even if it proposed but a new whitewashing of the sepulchre which hides the corruptions of society. Notwithstanding the vigorous words he had spoken, I knew him for one who could never take hearty satisfaction in denouncing any form of Error, because always fated to discern behind it the muffled figure of Truth. More than most men he felt the pressure of an awful fact which weighs upon such as are gifted with any fine apprehension of these worlds of spirit and matter, — namely, the impossibility of drawing anywhere in Nature those definite lines of demarcation which the mind craves to limit and fortify its feeble beliefs. If the boundaries of the animal and vegetable kingdoms are hopelessly interlaced, it is only an image of the confusion in which our blackest sins are shaded off into the sunlight of virtue.
“ But why am I here ? ” exclaimed Clifton, suddenly starting to his feet. “ I can at least swim a few desperate strokes against this current, before sinking beneath it forever! I can do something to save a few ardent maidens from t his whirling water of Reform !
“ And yet,” he continued, after a pause, “ yet many, perhaps most of these wretched people, drained dry by their one idea, are devoted with absolute singleness of purpose to the pursuit of an honest thing. Let us consider whom and what we may be found fighting against. If these subverters do not altogether prove the truth of their own opinions, do they not at least demonstrate the error of those who totally oppose them? Here is Miss Hurribattle, — who will not acknowledge her noble contempt for the accidental and the transitory ? I believe that woman desires Truth as earnestly as men desire wealth or reputation ! ”
“ It is so, indeed,” I assented. “ Her large nature will assimilate whatever grandeur of idea may be found among this acid folk. After a little time she will reproduce in saintly form whatever gives its real vitality to this movement.”
“ Never ! ” said the clergyman; “ they will put upon her the strait-jacket of their system, and carry her off to doom.”
Soon after this we went in different ways through the town.
I called upon Mrs. Widesworth, who had a culinary engagement, and could not appear, and then walked to the top of the hill, where a number of the faithful were heaping tar-barrels and shavings about the solitary cider-mill. Regarding their operations from a little distance stood Deacon Greenlaw; his face wore an expression of grim humor, underlaid by a shrewd intelligence of the true position of affairs.
“ They are making lively preparations for your holocaust,” said I.
“ Well, ’t is n’t exactly that long word neither,” replied the Deacon. “ Fact is, I just looked it out in the dictionary, and there they call it ‘a whole burnt-offering ’; but it won’t mean all that with me, I can tell you ! ”
But, my dear Sir, surely you mean to go under the Juggernaut handsomely, and not squirm in the process ? ”
The Deacon indulged in an interrogative whistle, and jerked his thumb in the direction of a corn-barn which stood near the base of the hill.
I requested explanation.
“ The floor of that corn-barn,” observed its proprietor, “ is covered with husks about four foot deep. Under those husks is my patent screw and a lot of ciderfixins. That old mill ’s a rattle-trap, any way. There’s a place at the other end of the orchard a sight more handy for a new one. So, when folks get to reading their Bible without leaving out the marriage in Cana, why ”-
“ Then you have been badgered into this,” I said, seeing that the Deacon was not disposed to finish his sentence.
“ Well, they’ve been pecking at me pretty hard; and when Mis’ Greenlaw and the girls went over, of course I could n’t hold out. I kept telling ’em that the Lord gave us apples, and I did n’t believe He cared whether we eat ’em or drank ’em. But you see I had to knock under.”
I questioned if it was going to rain, after all; for the clouds were scudding off to the east.
“ They ’re just following the bend of the river,” asserted the Deacon, elevating his chin to bring them within range, and giving them a significant nod, as if to recall an appointment. “ These apple-trees will be dripping well before night. I know the weather-signs in Foxden. It is going to rain, — and, what’s more, when it does rain, it ’ll rain artichokes,— and, what’s more than that, I don’t care if it does! ”
A WRETCHED fragment of the singingclass met at the house of Mrs. Widesworth. Professor Owlsdarck had kindly come over from Wrexford to help fill up the rooms; but the pressure of his ponderous attainments seemed only to compress yet more that handful of miscellaneous miserables in the front-parlor. Eight or ten elderly people, one or two undergraduates at home for the collegevacation, — these were the guests. The precautions of Mrs. Romulus had not been taken in vain, — there could be no singing: none, unless — but I trust that this evil suggestion occurred to nobody — we were so lost to shame as to call upon the college-boys to supply the place of our absent psalmody with some of those Bacchanalian choruses with which they were doubtless too familiar. We felt rather wicked. We knew that we were stigmatized by that tenable compound, “ Pro-Rum” ; we were held up as the respectable abettors of drunkenness, the dilettanti patrons of pot-houses, the cold-blooded connoisseurs in wifebeating and delirium tremens. That we really appeared all this to many honest, enthusiastic people could not be doubted.
Certain perplexing questions, which had fifty times been answered and dismissed, were ever returning to worry the general consciousness of the company: — Is it not best to scourge one’s self along with a popular enthusiasm, when, by many excellent methods, it would sweep society to a definite good ? Are not the ardors of the imagination better workingpowers than the cold judgments of the reason ? Should we ever be carping at controlling principles, when much of their present manifestation seems full of active worthiness ? Above all, have we not listened to contemptible fallacies of self-indulgence and indolence, and then cheated ourselves into believing them the sober testimonies of conscience ?
That some such melancholic refinements were restless in the brains of many I have no doubt. Probably only Mrs. Widesworth and the undergraduates were wholly undisturbed by them. Yet, in spite of this secret uneasiness, there was common to the company a stiff recognition of its own virtue, which seemed to impart a certain queer rigidity to the bodily presence of the guests. Dr. Dastick, for the first and only time in my remembrance, appeared with his trousers bound with straps to the bottoms of his boots. Colonel Prowley had thrust his neck into a stock of extraordinary stiffness, which seemed to proceed from some antique coat-of-mail worn beneath the waistcoat. The collar and cuffs of Miss Prowley were wonderful in their dimensions, and fairly creaked with the starch. The clergyman, indeed, wore his dress and manners in relaxed and even slouchy fashion ; but this seemed not due to lightness of heart, but only to weariness of mind. I knew that something had caused him to feel acutely the limitations of his office. One might attribute such feelings to the bass-viol player in an orchestra, who, in whatever whirl of harmony, is permitted to scrape out only a few gruff notes. But there was dear Mrs. Widesworth, so deliciously drugged by the anodynes of Authority that she could shake the chains of custom till they jingled like sleigh-bells.
“ Come, come,” said this good lady; “ why, you all seem to be following the advice of my grandfather Twynintuft,— which was, to let the mind muddle after dinner. He thought it strengthened the voice, — gave it timber, as he called it. But, ah, dear! in these days so little attention is paid to elocution that it ’s of no consequence whatever ! ”
“ I have endeavored, Madam,” said Professor Owlsdarck, with great precision of utterance, “ I have endeavored to impress upon my scholars that Socratic wisdom which condemned books as silent: a testimony, as I take it, of great importance to those who would perfect the instrument of oral instruction.”
“ There is no great elocutionist at the present day,” said Mrs. Widesworth with pious regret.
“ And little could we profit by him, if there were,” rejoined the Principal of the Wrexford Academy. “For, in the present excited condition of our rivertowns, men do not strive to copy the moderate virtues of the Ancients, but only to exaggerate their heathenish extispicy.
“ Ah, very true, very true,” sighed Mrs. Widesworth; “ only I forget what that last word means.”
“ Extispicy,” defined the Professor, “ is properly the observation of entrails and divination thereby.”
“ Yet more is to be learned from bones,” said Dr. Dastick, decidedly. “ I hold that the performances of Cuvier alone are conclusive upon that point.”
Colonel Prowley looked doubtful: it would hardly do to question thus lightly the wisdom of Antiquity.
Here Professor Owlsdarck experienced a queer twitching about the corners of his mouth, — an affection which since his poetical address before the Wrexford Trustees had occasionally troubled him.
“ At any rate, Colonel,” he observed, “ we can agree, that, whatever amount of wisdom the Ancients may have shown in observing the digestive apparatus of animals, it certainly exceeded that of our modern philosophers, who are always contemplating their own.”
“ Truly, I believe you are right,” responded Colonel Prowley. “ There is my dear friend Miss Hurribattle, who is always coming to me with some new cure for people who are perfectly well. At one time Mrs. Romulus told her that everybody should live on fruits which ripen at least six feet above-ground, — all roots having an earthy and degrading tendency. The last recipe for the salvation of society is, to take a little gravel with our meals, like birds.”
Dr. Dastick partly closed his eyes, and said, with some effort, —
“I think that men are befooled with these new explanations of sin and its bitter fruits because the pulpit has done talking of the abiding sinfulness of our inherited nature. When I was a boy, the minister offered us the good old remedies of Baptismal Regeneration or Prevenient Grace, instead of bidding us drench our flesh with water or crack our bones with gymnastics.”
At that moment Mr. Clifton turned towards me a half-startled, half-triumphant look. I felt that the idea had been working in his mind, but that he had used another’s lips for its utterance. Under undetermined conditions certain minds are capable of employing a physical organization alien to themselves. If I had doubted this before, a foreign influence in my own person would have made it clear at that moment. For I felt a reply uttered from my lips which came not from my consciousness.
“ The moral, perhaps, is, that the pendulum has reached the other extremity of the are of oscillation, and that neither spiritual nor physical regeneration can walk in the fetters of a system.”
Some one called out that the procession was passing. All crowded to the windows.
A few musical instruments. Plenty of ribbons and rosettes; also, emblems of mysterious device. Banners inscribed with moral texts. Miss Hurribattle. The school - children in white. Members of the School - Committee in demi-toilet. More banners. Mr. Stellato, as chief of the Gladiators, covered with a pasteboard helmet, and bearing a shield inscribed “ TRUTH.” (N. B. The inscription in German text by the school-children.) The Progressive Guard with javelins, — papier-maché tips gummed over with shiny paper. A Transparency, — at least it could be used as such in lecturing emergencies, — representing the interesting medical illustration to which Mrs. Romulus had alluded in the morning. The choir singing a progressive anthem, accompanied by extravagant gestures. Other banners waved in cadence with progressive stanzas. Mrs. Romulus and the Lilac-Hill Water-Cure Establishment. Progressive citizens generally; these in various stages of exaltation, and cheering fervently.
“ The old infectious hysteria of religious revivals, limited by fresh air and gentle exercise, is it not, Dr. Dastick ? ”
The Doctor answered my inquiry with a non-committal “humph” of the most professional sort.
“ Plato tells us that the Greek Rhapsodists could not recite Homer without falling into convulsions,” said Professor Owlsdarck.
“ That is very remark able,” said Colonel Prowley, deeply impressed.
“I had no idea that these youths and maidens could justify their eccentric proceedings by so high an authority,” observed his sister.
The brother objected. He thought that the same effects could not rightly be attributed to a modern song-writer and the Blind Old Poet.
“ Blind Old Poet! ” exclaimed one of the undergraduates, very thoughtlessly. " Why, my dear Colonel Prowley, you are blinder than ever he was! Don’t you know that recent scholarship has demonstrated Homer to be nobody in particular ? The ' Iliad ’ and ' Odyssey ’ are mere agglomerations of the poetical effusions of a variety of persons; and doubtless all of them could see as well as you and I can.”
It was distressing to mark the grief and indignation which suddenly clouded the countenance of my old friend. Was not the last noticeable publication in postclassical literature the “ Rasselas” of Dr. Johnson ? Had not all those well-disposed people who hailed it as the brightest combination of literary and moral excellence which a mere modern could produce, — had they not lived and died in respectable allegiance to the Homeric personality ? To say nothing of a mystical admiration of the Greek hexameters which he could not construe, Colonel Prowley was a diligent reader of Pope’s sonorous travesty. He felt like some simple believer in the divine right of kings, when the mob have broken into the palace, and stand in no awe of the stucco and red velvet. Yes, of course I admire original minds, — but then I love those which are not original. And truly there was a stately echo about the old gentleman which always went to my heart.
“ Our friend spoke incautiously,” I said. " I make no doubt that Professor Owlsdarck will tell us that the preponderant evidence is in favor of Homer the individual, notwithstanding a few troublesome objections.”
“ He was buried,” replied the Professor, “perhaps at Smyrna, perhaps at Cos, perhaps at neither. It is not easy to decide what ancient city may rightly claim his bones.”
“ He should have shown a sense of their value by writing some verses about them,” urged Dr. Dastick. “ There was Shakspeare, whose genius culminated in those important osteological observations inscribed upon his tombstone ! ”
At this point the undergraduate murmured something about “ Wolf’s Prolegomena,” which was lost in a dull rumble of thunder,— as if some giant outside the house had taken up the title and was gruffly repeating it.
And now the storm was coming.
The sky darkened rapidly.
The atmosphere lay thick and yellow.
Where was the procession ? Would it not be necessary to omit the triumphal progress through the town, and come to the hill at once ?
Windy whiffs— fledgling stormlets — practised in the branches of the Twynintuft oak. The great tree lunged and croaked at them. Suddenly the lilacbushes were fanned into fantastic shapes. The sumach perked its red pompon like a holiday soldier, and then flung skyward its crimson battle-flag. The wind blustered among the fallen leaves, and slammed a loose blind or two. It grew darker, — still darker.
The procession, at last, — a straggling remnant of it, — was seen pushing up the hill. A remnant indeed ! The children, and those having charge of them, had withdrawn. The Committee-men had sought shelter. The Progressive Guard was decimated. Every moment men and women were falling out of rank and hurrying away.
It was a little group that at length collected about the cider - mill. Little at first, — less every instant. It would be necessary to abridge the exercises. We saw Mrs. Romulus mount a barrel and harangue the seceders with furious gesticulation. A book was passed up to her, and she apparently gave out some hymn or ode suitable to the occasion. Alas! there remained no choir to give it vocal expression.
A hurricane-gust struck the town, and drove clouds of dust along the street. Perhaps it was five minutes before the hill was again visible. Then there stood by the Deacon’s cider-mill three figures. Mr. Stellato waved a torch about his head, and flung it into the combustibles. A sheet of flame shot madly up. Mrs. Romulus seized one of the abandoned banners and flourished it in triumph.
Again the Twynintuft oak ground its great branches together, and threw them heavenward for relief. The relief came. The dry agony of Nature burst in a flood of tears.
The rain came beating down. It came with a sudden plunge upon the earth, drenching all things. And then, the sharp, curt rattle of hail.
“ Come to the middle of the room, the lightning is straight above us ! ”
We crouched together as the thunder crashed over the house. Rain, — nothing but rain. No ever-varying light and shade, as in common squalls. One great cascade poured down its awful monotony.
A bursting noise at the door. There stood before us Mrs. Romulus, Miss Hurribattle, and Mr. Stellato, Soaked, dripping, reeking, — take your choice of adjectives, or look into Worcester for better. The ladies might have passed for transcendental relatives of Fouqué's Undine. Stellato, with his hair and face bedaubed with a glutinous substance into which his helmet had been resolved, did not strongly resemble one’s idea of a Progressive Gladiator. Truly, a deplorable contrast between that late triumphant march before the house, and this present estate of the leaders, so reduced, so pitiable !
“ Oh, dear, dear, what can I do for you ? ” cried good Mrs. Widesworth, forgetting all resentment in a gracious gush of sympathy.
“ ' Only wine-bibbers and flesh-eaters are affected by the weather,’ ” murmured the clergyman, in bitter quotation. " ' Storm and sunshine are alike wholesome to the purified seekers for truth.’ ”
“ Seekers for truth ! ” echoed Professor Owlsdarck; " one would say that our friends must have been seeking it in its native well.”
“ As a medical man,” said Dr. Dastick, " I shall direct Mrs. Widesworth to provide some dry garments for her unexpected guests. Also, I think it my duty to mention that a glass of hot brandyand - water would be but common prudence.”
“ The first part of your advice shall be complied with,” assented our hostess, — “ that is, if I can find anything to put on to them. As to the last suggestion,— I have, to be sure, a decanter of fine old Cognac in the closet, but it would be almost an insult to offer it.”
“ The pledge has its important exceptions,” observed Mr. Stellato, shivering perceptibly. “ ' Except when prescribed by a medical attendant,’ — I believe I quote the exact language, Mrs. Romulus, — and Dr. Dastick has a diploma.”
“Come up-stairs, then,” said Mrs. Widesworth, taking the decanter from the closet; “you will all catch your deaths of cold, if you stay another minute.”
When the three patrons of Progress again appeared among us, they really seemed to have accomplished their transference to an unconventional and pastoral era. The ladies were quite lost in the spacious habits provided for them. Likewise, they were curiously swathed in shawls and scarfs of various make and texture, and might be considered representatives of any age, past, present, or future, to which the beholder might take a fancy. Mr. Stellato had been got into the only article of male attire which the establishment afforded. This was an ancient dressing-gown, very small in the arms, and narrow in the back: it had belonged to Twynintuft himself, who was six feet two, and as thin as a bean-pole. The thickly wadded skirts swept the ground, or clung heavily about the lower limbs. The garment combined every disadvantage of a Roman toga and a fashionable swallow-tail.
Mrs. Romulus and Mr. Stellato, who had not scrupled to avail themselves of the Doctor’s prescription, were still noisily progressive. They at once led a moral charge against Professor Owlsdarck and Colonel Prowley.
Miss Hurribattle, refusing such warmth as might be administered internally, was pale and chilly. She separated herself from her companions, and crossed the room to where I stood. Her face was radiant with devout simplicity. To a soul so pure and brave and feminine may I never be guilty of applying a hard and technical criticism! He is little to be envied who reads Don Quixote’s assault upon the windmills as a chapter of mad buffoonery. An ideal knight, without fear or reproach, subject to disaster and ridicule, august from his faith in God and the manly consecration of his life, — is he not rather the type of a Christian sanity ? No doubt, such a character seems altogether mad to you, my friend, who pass the window as I write these words. You have huckstered away opportunity just upon the edge of indictable knavery; your ambition has been to be well with the wealth and sleek respectability of the day, to make your son begin life the sordid worldling that you end it, to marry your daughter to the richest fool, — and this you call sanity and common sense ! Is it not some Devil’s subtlety that deludes you ? If Man is an immortal soul, to be saved or damned forever, then he only is sane who welcomes privation, toil, contempt, for a spiritual idea. “ Attacking windmills ! ” you say. That is, they seem so to you. But it may be that your brother’s clearer eye and practised intelligence show them the giants which they truly are. But, be they giants or windmills, mark you this : his life illustrates some grade of manly worthiness which the world would be poorer without, while to himself the gain of an unselfish activity is a certain blessedness. I hold it, then, of small matter, that, for a time, Miss Hurribattle mistook two charlatans, three-fifths knavery, the rest fanaticism, for honest workers in the Lord’s vineyard. Far better such overfaith than the fatal languor which seemed to terminate Clifton’s too close scrutiny of life. A buoyant and never-failing enthusiasm is the divine requital of faithful service. “ The reward of virtue is perpetual drunkenness ! ” exclaims the half mythic Musaeus ; “ Crucem hanc inebriari,” the Church has responded. It has a flavor as of Paradise when a woman brims over with some fine excitement, — and that among godless, unrepentant men.
“ The storm has not prevented the accomplishment of our purpose, said Miss Hurribattle, pleasantly ; “ we have this day made our protest against the most dangerous form of evil.”
“ One of' the most obvious forms, certainly,” I replied ; “ we might not quite agree about its being the most dangerous.”
“I must, demand all those republican virtues which should be the fruit of our New-England liberty, — I must be strictly consistent.”
I jestingly pleaded the familiar proverb about fools and dead men, and observed that there was great obscurity surrounding the real sources of evil in our social life.
“ I once thought as you do,” said the lady ; “ but, from my constant association with philosophical minds like those of Mrs. Romulus and Mr. Stellato, much has been made clear to me. They have devoted their lives to the study of modern civilization, and are skilful in the nice adaptation of remedies to all public disorders.”
“ How long have you known these two persons ? ” I asked.
“ They came to Foxden about a month ago. I had then organized the Temperance movement among the school-children, and devised a scheme for furnishing employment to drunkards who would make an effort to reform. But these more worthy guides of humanity soon reduced matters to first principles. They showed that all Moderate Drinkers and the Church which sustains them must be exposed and denounced. They have done a great work, as you see. Only a few people in Foxden have dared to stand against them. Deacon Greenlaw, one of the most obstinate cases, has just yielded to their persevering treatment.”
The rain at length stopped.
Many persons who had appeared in the procession straggled in, looking rather sheepish. The singing, indeed, had failed ; but the supper was in prospect.
Stellato was at high - pressure, and ready to lead his adventurous Gladiators into the very camp of the enemy. Mrs. Romulus, wholly above the prejudices of the toilet, would stay and bear him company.
Miss Hurribattle, not having cast out that “ clothes-devil ” against which the old theologians used to warn her sex, wished to return to her boarding-house. It being by this time dark, or nearly so, I offered to see her home. Mr. Clifton volunteered to accompany us.
“ The Deacon’s cider-mill is smoking after all this drenching I ” exclaimed Mrs. Widesworth.
“ The torches of the Bacchantes, when flung into the Tiber, were said still to burn,” observed Professor Owlsdarck, after rummaging about a little for an historical parallel. “ And here we seem to find a point where the modern enthusiasm for water and the ancient fervor for wine tend to like results.”
Colonel Prowley was peculiarly interested,—so much so, indeed, that he shook hands with us absently. Mrs. W idesworth was profuse in entreaties, and then in hearty farewells.
We walked up the street.
A spring freshness was in that autumn evening. The air was purified by the storm, as society is purified after a tempestuous feeling has blown through it.
I think that both of her companions felt abased by the vivid faith which sparkled in Miss Hurribattle’s conversation. We were both rebuked by her life-effort for what was high and positive and real. The clergyman, examining the depths of his own sensitive spirit, felt keener contempt for that theoretical good-will, that indefinite feeling of profound desire, which might not be concentrated upon any reality. And it came over me, how mean was the thirst and struggle for a merely professional eminence which filled my common days. As in a mental mirage, which loomed above the thickening twilight, I saw how our paths diverged, and whither each must surely tend. No doubtful way was hers, the singlehearted woman of lofty aims, of restless feminine activity, of holy impatience with sin. She might, indeed, miss the clue which guides through the labyrinth ; but then her life would teach mankind even better than she designed. On the other hand, — supposing the position attained which too constantly occupied my own thoughts, — there was an admiration of men, a market - salutation from reputable Commonplace, a seat in a fashionable church, a final lubrication with a fat obituary, — and then ? But it was no part of my design to invite the reader into the inner chambers of my own personality, and I forbear.
After a halfmile walk, we left Miss Hurribattle, and turned our steps towards the parsonage.
“ I sometimes feel that her instinct reasons more accurately than my poor logic,” said Clifton, bitterly; “ yet it is a hard necessity to sacrifice our individual faculties of comparison and judgment for the working-power of a fervid organization ! ”
“ No doubt it is a matter for serious question,” I replied. “ For, as soon as we grow out of our languid and feeble maladies, we grow into the violent inflammatory disorders which troubled our forefathers. The doctors will tell you that this is true of our bodies; and surely the soul's physician may pursue the analogy.”
“I can no longer hope to heal any man’s soul,” exclaimed the clergyman ; “ it is enough if my own be not wholly lost. I shall to-morrow formally resign the sacred office of teacher in this place. With the final renunciation of the great purpose which once swayed my life, I must renounce every symbol less profound, less poetic. I must make my boast of an intellect which will never let any affection pass the line of demonstrable truth. I once knew how grand it was to stand alone in the world of an inward faith; but now I have renounced all belief in an ideal human being inclosed in this poor body w hom it was my business to liberate.”
As we stopped at the broad path leading to the parsonage, I ventured to say a few words which I will not set down.
More and more I was drawn towards the high and intense life of the woman in whom all that was wrong seemed but an excess of virtue. I could have besought some fanatical warlike spirit to take possession of Clifton and make him capable of hate, and so, perhaps, of love. Anything to arouse this personator of our human mutability, this vacillator between doing and letting alone !
The wild future of the minister I did not anticipate. Hereafter it may possibly be written, to show such lessons as it has. But on that autumn night he walked up the gray pathway a broken man. The spiritual part was dead; he had lost faith in the invisible. He walked as one in a funeral procession, — ever doomed to follow a dead idea.