[QUITE in keeping with the remarkable character of the subjoined papers is the way in which the undersigned became associated in editing them for publication.
A bunch of old letters found in a chest of drawers bought by one of the editors at the closing-out sale of an old house in Boylston Place; some loose papers, including a fragment of a diary and other letters, discovered behind a joist in the chimney closet, at the recent dismantling of the Tavern Club, — only a stone’s throw from Boylston Place, — and given by a member of the club to the other editor, form the material from which selections are given below.
At a chance meeting of the editors soon after, these possessions having been casually mentioned, it was discovered, to the surprise and gratification of both, that the manuscripts were parts of a former whole, —disjected members, in fact, of an old-time family skeleton.
The frequent gaps which will be noted in the text are due in part to omissions made by the editors for prudential reasons, and partly to the dilapidated state of the manuscripts, which have suffered greatly from the ravages of mildew and rats.
LUCRETIA P. HALE.
EDWIN LASSETTER BYNNER.]
BOSTON,Feb’y 6, 1832. MY DEAR BROTHER, — For aught I know, you may be in Crim Tartary or Cathay. I mention those places as synonyms of vagueness and distance, without the least notion where they are. The Footstool was never thought of as an object for study in Phillips Place, when I went to school there. But wherever you may be, my letters always seem to reach you, though, strange to say, I get very few of yours in return. Are you aware that 't is nearly four years since you went abroad ? Do you forget that you are an American citizen ? Are you ever coming back ? I warn you, if you do not come soon, you will feel like the Dutchman in Mr. Irving’s story, who waked up after a sleep of twenty years to find everybody changed beyond recognition.
The trouble is, you are getting out of conceit with your own country. I read what you said in aunt Maria’s letter about our provincialism, — that we are sure to be either prim, priggish, or vulgar. I say, Pooh ! For myself, I insist that I am open to none of those charges. Come, now, I challenge you to the proof !
No ; the beam is in your own eye. You are getting spoiled. You are falling into horrid loose, unwholesome, foreign ways. You ’re forgetting your horn-book, too; you spell agreeable with one e. Confess, now, Joe, that you eat your breakfast at noon, take brandy in your coffee, and are cultivating a liking for frogs’ legs. I dare not even think of how you spend the Sabbath. Such proceedings may be all very — what you call “ chic.” I will not ask what that means. I don’t want to know. ’T is an odious and immoral looking word, and I am profoundly thankful that I have none of the quality represented by such a sinister combination of letters.
Meantime, you presume on the fact that you are an only brother, and count on my weakness to forgive your unnatural neglect, — your scraps of letters and interminable silences. You think to keep me quiet by an occasional gewgaw and doing a bit of shopping now and then, the latter always with much protest and grumbling.
Aunt Maria thinks you’re an expert in shopping. That lace scarf converted her; it certainly was a miracle of elegance. I should never have suspected you of such taste.
Poor aunt Maria! she has had a great trial. I pity her with all my . . . He’s quite grown up now, and a dear boy. No, ’t is not because I 'm a doting spinster; he is really a handsome, manly fellow, with an unusual air, — people turn to look after him on the street; with fine instincts, too, and quiet, cordial manners. For all of that, and strictly between ourselves, he is not bright; indeed, Joe, to plump out the bald, unpleasant truth, he is downright stupid ; but not a whit more, after all, than his father was. Aunt Maria would die if she suspected me of such a thought, for she insists — it exasperates me to hear her — that Ralph is like our family, and ”all Clyde.”
Be that as it may — where was I ? Oh! about this present thunder-bolt. You know what pains and expense have been lavished upon Ralph’s education ! Well, on his examination at Cambridge last fall, he was heavily conditioned. Aunt Maria was shocked to her heart’s core. Not a murmur escaped her, however; she straightway got a tutor, and prodded Ralph night and day to make up the conditions. Three months of this, and now comes the tutor and tells her that Ralph can never make up the conditions, that it is n’t in him, and the consequence is he will be “ dropped.”
You know aunt Maria : she will never rally from such a disgrace. She has been inordinately ambitious for Ralph : he was to be a great orator, statesman, and I know not what. For me, I confess I don’t care a snap for him to be a statesman ;
I love him better for his stupidity ; but his poor mother is broken-hearted, and has nearly cried her eyes out about it.
So much for family matters, and now for a more agreeable piece of news. Yesterday, coming out of No. 2 Otis Place, I met your dear friend, Tho . . . He has lately . . . but the public has not yet got wind of it.
“ Nothing in this stupid town to interest a man,” do you say ? On the contrary, there is a distracting variety of things. For the political, there is always the President and his Kitchen Cabinet, with just now the great “ Cherokee Case,” which I heard Mr. Sturgis and William Sullivan hotly debating the other day on Pearl Street, as I was coming down the steps of the Athenæum. For the steady-going, there are the Franklin lectures and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. For the gay, there is to be a brilliant party this very week at Dr. War . . . and a very startling bit of gossip which . . . although nobody believes he will ever come back. For the play-goers, there is Mr. Selby’s benefit at the Tremont Theatre, where will be presented The Moorish Bride, with Mrs. Barrett afterwards in Cherry Bounce. For the aspiring, — like aunt Maria, — there’s the profound in art and philosophy. She is deep in Beethoven. You remember her ear for music, and what frightful discords she always made in her bass ? No matter for that ! She has a German now who comes daily to play Beethoven to her; he plays for hours and hours, interminable sonatas and such things, — he has nearly pounded her piano to pieces, — while she sits by, dumb, abstracted, with up-rolled eyes. Do not suppose that is all ! When was she ever content with one string to her bow ? She is going at the same time to Professor Follen’s lectures on Goethe and Schiller. She is fairly rabid over German, and with it all quotes the most incomprehensible stuff from Carlyle, who I am firmly convinced must be a madman.
Amongst all these “ isms ” in the air, I hold fast to my small store of common sense, and make the most of my quiet opportunities. The other evening I heard Washington Allston read some passages from his unpublished poem called The Romance of Monaldi. I had a few words with him afterwards, and he told me his purpose of painting a large picture on the subject of Belshazzar’s Feast.
This reminds me: all Boston is in sackcloth and ashes this very minute on account of another artist, and one of its most eminent citizens. Domingo Williams is no more ! ! ! Who will ever again brandish a tray of whipped creams so recklessly and artistically over our heads, striking terror to our souls at his approach, and bearing away our admiration and gratitude as he retired !
What do you think is aunt Maria’s latest scheme with regard to Ralph? But I will save that for my next; you have far more now than you deserve. Confess it, and show your gratitude in the way most pleasing to your devoted and affectionate sister, PATTY.
... Yes, my dear Joe, the . . . have come duly to hand, and the German books along with them. I waited before writing until I could report progress. Well, I have begun; I strangle myself daily with the ichs and ochs, and purse up my lips for the modified u till I feel like an umlaut myself. Calvert too has turned up with the volumes of Schiller, after having lain, I know not how long, submerged in the Elbe. Think how this has sanctified them in the eyes of aunt M. and her old German professor ! That dear Herr K., he is a miracle of amiability and ugliness, and when I suddenly whip out some of my newly acquired phrases, as “ Wie gehts heute ?” etc., he opens wide his Teutonic mouth, showing his one lone solitary bicuspid, and looks like nothing in life but a gargoyle. Aunt M. says my accent is very bad ; our accent, I should say, for Rachel Cleverly studies with me, and she is a regular polyglot. What matters the accent, after all ? — we understand each other. ’T is the Ubersetzung that tells, and you should just hear us overset.
From all of this our dear Ralph is shut out, he despises the whole thing. “ Drudgery” he calls it; insists that girls like drudgery, and, when they have no housework to do, ferret around till they find something worse. He certainly has no touch of any such weakness ; has been studying Latin two whole years, and could not this minute conjugate the auxiliary verbs to save himself from instant annihilation. He ought to have gone to Miss Peabody, as we did. She pounded the whole verbal system into us, till even George B. Emerson, who you know teaches every girl in Boston at some time in her life, declares that the Peabody girls know their Latin grammar as well as their “ Beans porridge hot.”
Ralph rolls up his nose in a fine, sourgrape disdain at all this. Let him do it: the facts remain the same; one significant fact being that he has just been “ rusticated ” with Mrs. Ripley at Concord. They say she has great success with such youths, and we live in prayerful hope that she may develop syntax in Ralph’s head.
. . . Now about aunt Maria’s scheme that I wrote you of. She is determined that Ralph shall marry Georgiana Carey. You remember her as a little girl, — with curls all hanging down her back ? Well, they hang now from the top of her head, tossing, tumbling, dashing, and foaming like a mountain brook. What is more, she is a great heiress. Her uncle Vickers has died in China, where, you know, he made no end of money, and has left it all to her. Now I never should accuse dear aunt Maria of worldly-mindedness. But you can’t wonder that she should look out a little for Ralph, the rather that he never will look out for himself. He is a great favorite ; all the girls like him. Even if he is conditioned at college, he dances just as well; is always punctual at Papanti’s, though he cuts his Greek. The incomparable “ Papanti,” you know, has taken the place of old M. Guigon; much to aunt M.’s disgust, for she considered Guigon the glass of fashion, and the mould, etc.; “but who,” quoth she, “is this new man ? ” Well, we never bother our heads who he is ; we all like him, and even I make my way to his afternoon classes in Somerset Place ; we have such a pleasant set there. About Ralph ; — you see aunt Maria expected to spend her whole earthly estate, if need be, on his college education ; then he would follow in your footsteps, be sent to Germany, to come back after a few years an acknowledged “professor.” But he is so stupid about study ... If, then, he would only fall to admiring Georgiana, all would be well, for it is sufficiently plain that she admires him; and with money, no matter about the professorship and the verbs . . .
Aunt M. . . . she has always so many irons in the fire . . . the latest is the Polish refugees! She is fairly boiling over with ardor . . . One of them — her particular pet — I do believe she will end by inviting to stay here ! She thinks it is too expensive for him at Mrs. Le Kaim’s. Ludovic Radzinski is his delightful name. She came very near putting him up into your old room. But, happily, at this juncture came a fresh claimant upon her sympathies, and it really is awkward for her to decide between the two. Rachel Cleverly, you see, that dear, delightful girl, is here, waiting to find something to do; for, perhaps you have not heard, Mr. Cleverly lost all his money, in a great fire that burnt up his store-rooms, and . . . but luckily she has always been such a scholar — one of the first in Mr. Emerson’s school — that she is now all ready to teach, if she can only find a class . . .
BOSTON, May 1, 1832.
... I sent off my last letter in a great hurry, suddenly finding that if I meant it to hit the next vessel from New York ... so set about this a little earlier, especially as I have something to tell. Aunt M. has not only hunted up a class for Rachel, but she has invited her to spend the winter here ! Her benevolence had no sooner impelled her to this than what do you think rose up to discourage her ? Your prophetic soul may have already grasped it. She feared that Ralph, her dear Ralph, would fall in love with Rachel and poverty instead of wealth and Georgiana. “ It would be the inevitable consequence! ” she said to me, gloomily, as we discussed the question whether to give Rachel the “ upper study,” or whether to fit it up for the Pole. For here was indeed a temptation that perhaps assisted her uncertainty about asking Rachel. I am afraid that a little insinuation of mine decided the point. “ Suppose I should fall in love with Ludovic ? ” said I naughtily. It came upon her like a bomb, — you know her literalness ; she took me au sérieux, and I really believe she now fears the “ inevitable consequence ” for me more than for Ralph and Rachel. The Pole is so interesting an exile : no home, no money, able to talk any language invented at Babel; indeed, may have lived at that time, being one of those ever old, ever young human riddles, with his black locks streaked with gray, his mysterious eyes, etc. Why should n’t I fall in love with him ? Lest you too take alarm, I will confide in you that I am proof against fascinations of that kind, though I feel for his woes. But . . . and the risk of it all decided aunt M.; so Rachel is here, and Ralph is fast learning to like her, spite of all her erudi . . . and she certainly returns the compliment.
Who could help it, indeed, even if . . . Why, if I were not . . . years older than he, I . . . with his handsome face and his impulsive ways. Such a nice little school as aunt M. has got together for Rachel, girls from just the “ best ” families. She goes to their houses in turn, and is away all the morning, studying hard in the intervals. . . . Don’t you ever say again that we have no excitement in Boston. Such a domestic upheaval and social ferment; everything and everybody . . . and I don’t quite know where to begin. . . . But I must confess that my own head is just a little turned by this last of aunt M.’s infatuations ; for we surely have now in Boston a guest worthy her enthusiasm. I began by being very skeptical, and made game a bit of the whole thing, and even yet hold myself in check against arriving too soon at the goal of belief in telling human character by bumps.
But I have been to two of his lectures, and missed the third only because it came upon the night of aunt M’s. reception for her pet Pole . . . and pray don’t suspect me of laughing at them ! — the Poles. No, indeed ; I pity them from the bottom of . . . and made two pin-cushions for the fair . . . where Georgiana had a table which the gilded youth besieged, and we had some verses printed about them, — the refugees, I mean.
But to come back to the lectures. I have n’t told yet who gave them: well, then, ’t was no other nor less a person than the great German phrenologist, Dr. Spurzheim. He is here actually in the flesh, — and plenty of it, too, — staying at Mrs. Le Kaim’s . . . and such a subject for aunt M.’s ecstatics ; she is in the front rank of his devotees . . . and actually had him here to tea only last Thursday . . . not a little dismayed, for we had neither sauerkraut, sausage, Limburger, nor any other of their horrid dainties. I went down to tea cased in a mail-coat of prejudice, but in a trice he disarmed and converted me by a wellaimed shaft of flattery. “What ē-day - ahl-ity ! What ē-mē-tah-tif power ! ” he exclaimed, gazing admiringly at the top of my head. “ Are you an artist, Mees Clyde ? ” I blushed like a . . . and straightway fell into rank as one of his stanchest followers. How, indeed, to help it, for he is Brobdingnagian in his appearance and amiability. It turns out, too, that he is profoundly interested in our Pole, — not in his exile, but in his brain disease ; and so they are both in the same house . . . and every opportunity to study his patient . . . talking of his head, said the Pole had remarkable bumps of language, eventuality, memory, speaks half the known languages, learned and unlearned, whereupon I suggested that his brain disease might be nothing more than his verbs rattling around in his head.
Of course all the world go to the lectures, and some of his rabid admirers — aunt M. among the rest — are going down to his course in Salem, to hear them all over again.
BOSTON-, , . . 4, 1832.
DEAR JOE : . . . and such a delightful letter ought to give fresh wings — I should say feathers — to my pen, that I might . . . and send down some joyous carol, from the upper air ; but alas ! you must be contented for this once with an earth-born wail. For why ? Because, having supped full on horrors, I am now stretched upon the consequential rack. Last night Ralph and the rest persuaded me to go and see Forrest in the Gladiator, and bitterly I have paid the penalty, wrestling the livelong night in the clutches of nightmare, wherein I seemed to be swimming or floating, ’neath lurid skies, in seas of blood. Tragedies are in the air ; next week there is to be presented a new one by Caroline Lee Hentz, Werdenburgh, or the Forest League. So we . . .
If you look at your Advertiser of this date carefully, you will see that “ a beautiful, large, fat green turtle, fresh from the water, will be served this day at Tremont Restorator, Tudor Building, Court Street, — soup sent to any part of the city.” And now, my dear gourmand, don’t you wish you were here ? For aunt M. has ordered some of the same, not to entertain aldermen, but her last new hero ! Is n’t she fortunate to have set her dinner on that day . . .
Oh, my dear, dear brother ! such . . . terrible news . . . How can I ever tell you ? The flippant tone at the beginning of this will show how sudden, how crushing a shock it has been to us . . . and aunt M., how can she survive it ? . . . Her whole life has been devoted to him. I do believe she has only loved him, more for her very disappointment in him, and what has she left beside ? True, she has always been fond of you and me ; but what was that feeling to her love for Ralph ? Let me, however, hasten to say he is still living, — there is hope in that, though we can have no more. And it is terrible to sit here all day, not able to do anything but doubt and wonder what is to come ! He is still unconscious, a whole night of uncertainty. Aunt M. is there by his side, calm and self-sustained, always strong in emergency ; and I almost think it is easier for her there, where perhaps she can do something, than for us who can only sit dreading and fearing the result. Ralph was thrown from bis horse yesterday, and taken up senseless ! . . . scarcely know how to write it, and yesterday morning . . . all so different, and I was writing that idle twaddle to you. The real tragedy has come now, outdoing all the talk of scenic horrors. Our dinner had gone off so pleasantly. Ralph here, unusually gay and joyous, but he ran away from the dinner-table to join a friend, and I don’t quite know if they had yet been out of town. Ralph had promised to leave some message at Mrs. Le Kami’s, and there he was in Pearl Street, and had left a note at the door, or some word, for Dr. Spurzheim, when his horse turned suddenly, and from the house opposite, where they were repairing, there came a beam, falling suddenly with a crash. The horse started, whirled, and Ralph was thrown to the ground. This is how I understand it. They carried him directly into the house, where — our only cause for thankfulness
— Dr. Spurzheim was at the very moment engaged in a consultation. He gave directions as to how Ralph should be carried, and they sent for other doctors and for aunt M. . . . They say that Dr. Spurzheim is a most wonderful surgeon. But oh, what can be done ? For the skull indeed is fractured, — this is our latest intelligence. They would have kept aunt M. away, but she will not leave. The only thing that sustains her . . . and she has implicit confidence in Dr. Spurzheim, who plans some operation, in which he is to be assisted by a committee of Boston doctors. This is the very latest report I can send you. I have kept my letter till the last moment, and shall carry it myself to Earl’s, in Hanover Street, as John Lewis takes the mail stage from there to-day at one o’clock, and he had before promised to take my letter for me to New York, which it will reach just in time for the next vessel.
It is very trying to have this the very last that I can send you. But while there is life there is hope. Dear Ralph ! in these waiting hours I have recalled all our discussion and criticism of him,
— how we have bemoaned his lack of application and of interest in study; but now how glad we should he to have him back, just as he was, with his kind-heartedness and genial love of us all! But I must stop, and next time hope to send you a better report. Now that we have your new address we can send you news regularly. But this must go, if only to prepare you for what we have to tell.
BOSTON, June 15, 1832.
DEAR JOE, — Miss Patty wants me to send you an account — “a doctor’s account,” she said — of the startling operation lately performed on your cousin Ralph Wheaton. I am glad to do her so slight a favor, and glad too to renew . . . since the day when we parted at the door of the medical school.
As to the operation, I was among the favored few of our guild invited, and cannot do better, perhaps, than slip in here some extracts from my professional notes taken on the spot.
’T was a great occasion. Spurzheim is a genius; the like of him has never been seen on this side the water. None the less, between ourselves, some of his theories are the rankest quackery. But with it all he is so tremendous and overpowering in a scientific way that our little gods here have not only gulped down their prejudice, — a pretty big pill too, — but actually received him with a mild kind of Puritanical hooray. He, however, bless you ! makes nothing of them ; they ’re evidently a dwarf variety of pundit to him, and he walks over them and paws them about like a lion among puppy-dogs. You may imagine what nuts’t is to us younger fry to see the Rhadamanthuses thus dethroned.
Like all geniuses, Spurzheim is a bit of a madman. I like him rather the better for it. There is, too, an Olympian air about the creature ; and though none of the profession here can go the “ bump ” business, there’s not a man among them dare stand up and tell him so to his face. But our mutton is cooling.
That operation, — Joe, I give you my word, the whole performance would have done honor to any stage. ’T was thrilling as a tragedy, —which, by the bye, it came d—d near becoming, — and yet had bits of comedy as fine as Molière. Fancy Spurzheim, with his elephantine bulk, coat and vest off, sleeves rolled up, veins standing out in his probulgent forehead, sweat running off his dewlap from nervous agitation, — fancy him, I say, cavorting back and forth from one patient to the other haranguing in broken English W., J., F., D., and me, who stood before him in a paralyzed row, like a squad of freshies at a clinic.
Not . . . but every one knew in his heart’t was a daring act of empiricism which success itself could not justify. You know the facts, of course, from Miss Patty, about the refugee Radzinski whom Spurzheim has been for some time treating for cerebral tumor. The Pole is a remarkable character ; he was . . . nothing known of his history . . . habitually talked Latin with Spurzheim . . . in his delirium sputtered various unknown tongues.
You must know there had been a consultation the day before. W. and J. were called in. They agreed with Spurzheim’s diagnosis, proceeded to localize the tumor, and decided upon the operation, whereupon the rest of us were invited. Little suspecting what was in store for us that fine summer morning, we wended our way to Mrs. Le Kami’s to see the operation upon the Pole alone.
We found everything ready ; Spurzheim showing W. his instruments in the parlor, the patient stretched on a bed in the inner room, where we made by request the usual examination. So much for preliminaries : now please take up my notes for the details !
“ Examined patient: pulse 80, hard and frequent; pupils contracted; skin alternate paling and flushing; tongue dry ; extremities cold ; muttering delirium. Found no reason to differ with theory of tumor. Dr. Spurzheim briefly gave reasons for localizing tumor beneath frontal bone ; called attention incidentally to extraordinary prominence of frontal lobe in patient, disguised by a thick shock of hair growing low over the brow.
“ Dr. J. on request shaved scalp. Discussion over shape of incision. Dr. Spurzheim himself conducted operation : the scalp neatly cut and inflected; pericranium carefully scraped away, and a trephine of the largest size applied just above frontal sinus. Directly bone was removed dura mater protruded through opening; showing evident enlargement of the brain, and confirming, as it seemed, the theory of tumor. Spurzheim pointed triumphantly with his lancet, and proceeded with the operation. Scarcely had he divided the dura mater when he stopped, stared, and flushed. We crowded about. There at last, through the severed membrane, the cerebral tissue itself burst forth, but with its normal pinkish color, and without the slightest trace of disease.
“While we stood puzzling over the matter, Dr. W. called our attention to the great and sensible relief already evinced by patient as result of operation.”
Now, Joe, lay aside the notes, and let me interrupt you for a minute !
Remark that thus far everything had been according to programme, save the disproving the tumor theory ; a discovery, as you know, rather interesting than unusual. At that precise moment, however, chance stepped in, and flung a bomb-shell into our midst, which in a trice altered the whole situation.
Our discussion was interrupted by a loud outcry from the street. The windows were open, — we ran to look out. A frantic horse was galloping round the corner, and a crowd of men were bringing the mangled body of a youth into our house.
The next minute Mrs. Le Kaim herself came bursting into the room, calling loudly for Spurzheim to come at once ; that young Mr. Wheaton was killed.
At first annoyed at the interruption, on hearing a name so familiar, — you know what civilities Mrs. Wheaton has heaped upon him, — Spurzheim hurried down-stairs, we at his heels, and found, sure enough, it was your cousin. He was carried up-stairs directly, and the crowd shut out. Thereupon, as you may believe, the Pole was straightway forgotten, and breathless attention centred upon poor Ralph.
At the very first glimpse of his face down-stairs Spurzheiin had whispered, “ Fr-rachture ! ” Examination proved it to be indeed a very serious fracture of the left parietal bone. Word was instantly sent to his mother, and preparation made for an operation.
Now go on with your notes again : —
“ Examined young Wheaton : pulse normal or a little slow; pupils dilated ; skin moist; extremities warm; respiration stertorous. Sealp much swollen, and filled with masses of coagulated blood, evident to the touch; pieces of bone could be plainly felt grating against each other ; edematous state of scalp for considerable distance about seat of injury ; sealp purplish directly above wound, showing extensive comminution of cranium.
“ At Spurzheim’s request I shaved scalp. Another discussion over incision. . . . ' H ’ shape on account of comminution . . . allowing two large flaps for inflection. Dr. J. made . . . dura mater badly lacerated ... of bone crushed down into brain. W. drew attention to fact that in extracting pieces of bone and . . . considerable portion of brain must be removed. All startled by sudden exclamation from Spurzheim.”
Here let me interrupt again, Joe, to give you a little more graphic notion of the situation.
“ Gott! ” cried Spurzheim.
We all turned to see the cause of this explosion. He was walking up and down, with blazing eyes, declaiming with incoherent fervor, and forgetting his small store of English in his excitement.
“ Sehen sie, meine Herren ! See you ? Hein ? Vat a gr-rand momént! Eine Entdeckung — de whole vor-rld vill hear of it. Niemals, never has science socli a — a — vat you call Zusammentreffengesehn ? Come — come vith me geschwind, kvick ! I show you,” pointing to the room where the Pole lay; “ you shall see ! De odder, de beide, ve put both togedder, hein ? Take de von to mend de odder. Come, I say ! ”
We followed him in to Radzinski’s bedside, where, pointing eagerly to the unfinished operation, he went on : —
“ Sehen sie noch nicht, my deer friends ? Here ist zu viel, dort nicht genug ! Dis ees — see ! look for yourselfs ! ” pointing to the protruding cerebrum. “ Gesund, ganz gesund! Warum — vy den shall ve not take avay vat dis von spare, und gif to de odder, hein ? ”
His meaning was at last clear, and we stood dumfounded. But he, too busy with the possible phrenological results of the operation to heed us, ran on in an ecstatic and incoherent monologue I shall despair of describing. Only his action I remember, as he kept patting the Pole’s bulbous forehead, crying, “ Ausordentlich ! Ausordentlich ! ” and then darted away to point out the comparative flatness of Ralph’s.
I need not tell you how the suggestion of such an operation was received by the Boston squad. You can imagine the polar chill and stillness of that room ! But pff ! — Spurzheim — man alive ! the Grand Mogul could not have been more serenely unconscious of them and their moods.
At this juncture arrived the heartbroken mother. Despite all opposition she would come in. It was a hard pull, but you know what stuff she is of, — real Yankee grit. Egad, I was proud of her.
He is alive ? ” she asked, her voice almost firm.
W. nodded. She went and kneeled down beside her only son and child, with never a sob, or wail, or groan ; but “ while memory holds her seat ” shall I never forget the look in her eyes.
“ Is there any hope ? ” she asked presently of Spurzheim. Spurzheim behaved magnificently : he pulled her straight forth from that slough of despond with one forceful grip.
“ Hope ! My deer lady — ha ! ha ! vy, dere is noding but hope ! Fürchten sie nicht! Go —go avay now. Bleiben zu Hause ! Put faith in me ; I vill cure him. Aber go — go kvick, deer lady, an’ leave us to vork ! ”
His big person, his emphatic tone, his air of omnipotence, availed more than a thousand words. The reassured and comforted woman walked quietly away, without another protest.
Directly the door closed upon her we came back to our subject. Spurzheim formally demanded our opinion.
“ Extremely hazardous,” said J., shaking his head.
“ Unheard of! ” said W.
“ Azardous ! ” repeated Spurzheim, nearly choking himself with the word. “ Vas it not ’azardous zum Beispiel ven de gret Colombus came de sea over to find out dis countree ? Unheerd of ! Vas it not auch unheerd of ven Fr-rahnklin de t’under-bolt brought from de sky down ? ”
But all his satire and eloquence were unavailing. W. and J. were at bay; they would as soon have countenanced an earthquake, yet’t was plain they were itching to see the thing done.
And they were gratified. Our host had the courage of his convictions. He did n’t trouble himself about their approval ; he went on and did it. Yes, Joe, to make a long story short, he actually performed the operation; boldly severed the superfluous brain from the Pole, — I won’t trouble you with any more notes, — adjusted it nicely to Ralph’s cranium, and dressed both wounds in the most workmanlike manner, which I have since heard moved the admiration even of W. You know how he likes a neat job.
All this was more than a week ago. So far, as I intimated above, everything has gone well. The Pole is up, and declares himself well. Ralph has been taken home to his mother, and the chances are all in his favor.
I need not say with regard to the above, “ Mum ’s the word” I write for your professional eye alone. For obvious reasons, the nature of the operation has not been made public. Nor has either Ralph or his mother the least idea of what has been done, verbum sap. Let me hear from you !
Faithfully yours, A. B. L.
Aug. 20, 1832.
DEAR JOE,—You will have received before this the statement that Dr. L. promised to send you, and therefore know more of R.’s accident than we do. All the doctors have been strangely reticent with regard to the matter, and I think now they want to pass it off as nothing unusual .... “A case of trepanning,” Dr. L. said lightly, in answer to my questions.
Meanwhile, we are all so happy to see Ralph really convalescent that we are willing they should call it what they please.
. . . Ralph himself . . . and had a strange, wild look, when he first recovered consciousness, and he does not yet remember anything of his fall, or of the other happenings of the day ; they say this often occurs in such cases. I have seen him only once, and he seemed just the same dear boy as ever . . . an anxious look in his eyes, which, with his pale face and head all bound up, made him look . . . but he could say a few words to me, only they would not let him talk much.
Aunt M. says she is not going to say a word to him about college. She is so glad to have him back, she cares for nothing else, and she is impressed that it will do him harm if he tries to use his brain.
Poor Georgiana! She has been in the depths of despair, and has spent the days of anxiety here, where she could learn the latest intelligence ; crying and sobbing half the time, and asking all sorts of questions, that I must say irritated me in the midst of all the uncertainty. “Would Ralph be . . . if he did recover ? Could he recover without . . . Did I know what ‘ trepanning ' was ? Did I ever know anybody who had submitted to the operation ? And would they have to cut off all his hair ? ” Rachel was quiet through it all. She is ready to do anything that is needed, but speaks little, and seems so sad and preoccupied that I wonder if she has not really as deep an interest in Ralph as the more lively Georgiana. R. is talking about leaving here, because she thinks aunt Maria would like to give Ralph the largest room, when he is well enough to be brought here. She is planning to go to the W—’s, who are very hospitable, and who have a daughter at her school. I will keep my letter open till Ralph is able to be moved, as we hope he can come here before many days. . . .
R. was moved yesterday, and is now comfortable; is still kept lying quietly in his bed. I have seen him only once. I think he looked round inquiringly for Rachel. Aunt Maria thought he asked for Georgiana, and told him the doctors had said he must see only one person at a time, and Georgiana is to see him in a day or two.
Have I told you how it has seemed to me like a Hermione and Helena affair all along ? Georgiana has followed after Ralph, and Ralph has been pursuing Rachel, and now it appears as if Rachel were leaving him behind. But perhaps this is all in my imagination.
Last night Reporter Pickering was here to tea. He and aunt M. had a furious discussion over Webster’s speech on Clay’s bill — don’t ask, Bill for what ? When we rose from the table nothing would serve but he must see Ralph. Accordingly, they went up-stairs, and found R. amusing himself making a potpourri of aunt M.’s nostrums; he had filled his gruel-bowl with a mixture of " Balm of Quito,” “ Anderson’s Elixir,” “ Antiseptic Dentifrice,” and " Whitwell’s Opodeldoc.” Aunt M. was vexed, but she could not scold him, while Octavius P. brought the lightning upon his head by laughing till the tears filled his eyes.
. . . Another sad piece of news. . . . Presently you will dread to open my letters. Only I must hasten to say that this is not connected with our household. Our dear Ralph is improving slowly, and sits up a little every day.
. . . but you will have seen it in the papers, the account of the death of Dr. Spurzheim. It has indeed been a subject of sorrow and excitement in the whole community. Dr. James Jackson attended him, and other doctors were called in consultation ; although at first he considered himself but slightly indisposed, and believed that nature would restore him. He was ill but ten days, and died last Saturday night.
The whole town is full of sorrow . . . more than others, for our dear Ralph’s sake, and really believe . . . owe it all to this great man. Aunt Maria is very much moved, and filled with discouragement with regard to Ralph’s recovery, now that she can no longer have the advice of the wise friend and physician.
... I must send off this letter. Ralph still improves. Our friend, the Pole, Radzinski, has disappeared. He left his boarding-house some days ago. It was supposed he was with some friends, but it appears they have seen nothing of him. A sailing-vessel left for South Africa last week, and there is some reason to believe that he went on board at the last moment, and left with it.
BOSTON. Jan. 10, 1833.
. . . Happy news for you at last, my dear Joe. Ralph is really quite well again, and — now hold your breath! — actually gone back to Cambridge to make up his conditions. Aunt M. took alarm at the very first suggestion, and the change in the relative position of the parties is indeed both amazing and amusing ; aunt M. arguing to Ralph that college advancement is of very little importance, and that he will be of as much use in the world without learning and in some less ambitious calling, and that ... with plenty of money for a quiet, domestic life, for which he is so admirably fitted (of course with Georgia).
. . . something uncanny and mysterious, this change in Ralph ; so sudden, too. I was sitting in his room one day, where he lay propped up on the sofa, when he broke out, “ Do you know, Patty, all that hard work I put in at the Latin school is bearing fruit at last.”
“ What do you mean ? ”
“ Why, all those worst sticking-places in the Latin grammar, where I used to get mired so . . . clear and simple as daylight now.”
Thereupon he rattled off lists of prepositions, exceptions, irregular verbs, syntactical rules, till I was fairly giddy ; in fine . . . and his brain, once so sluggish, became abnormally active. . . . Aunt M. instantly took alarm, and had round the doctor, who, after an examination, said, “ Let him go back to Cambridge.” . . .
Mindful of your old taste for puzzles, I send you this riddle which I clipped from yesterday’s Advertiser and Patriot: —
Sooth ’t was art awful day;
And though in that old age of sport
The rufflers of the camp and court
Had little time to pray,
' T is said Sir Hilary uttered there
Two syllables by way of prayer :
The first to call the brave and proud,
Who see to-morrow’s sun;
The next with its cold, quiet shroud
. . . the . . . . . be done.
And both together to all . . . eyes
Who weep . . . nobly dies.”
I shall expect the answer in your next.
What do you think aunt M. bought with the money you sent to get me a birthday gift ? . . . and a bottle of bear’s grease . . . Such a tender and melting remembrance!
Of course everybody must have bear’s grease, but as she handed me out that first, without a word of her other present, I laughed outright, to her great bewilderment.
Ralph is at last fairly established at Cambridge again. Aunt M. was wofully anxious at first . . . tried in vain to keep him back . . . and was in the lowest pit of despair. As, however, he seems to thrive apace, she is now supremely content. It seems almost too great a blessing that Ralph . . . and turn out a scholar. So far he has pushed ahead like the giant with the sevenleague boots . . . made up his conditions . . . now leads his class.
Aunt M. now lays all his former stupidity to his old tutor G., and is correspondingly impressed with the wonders of phrenology, — Dr. Spurzheim having predicted something of this sort for Ralph. . . .
Found at Allen and Ticknor’s a delightful book, Vivian Grey. Get it at once, if you have n’t read it. . . . With this astonishing development in Ralph I am forever regretting I did not read Dr. L.’s letter to you . . . and should, save that he mumbled out something to the effect that I should n’t understand the doctor lingo.
Rachel has come back to us, as Ralph insisted upon it when he left for Cambridge. . . . Aunt plainly troubled . . . and declares Ralph is infatuated with Rachel; and indeed, he does seem more than ever in love with her. He comes home for Saturdays and Sundays, and is always consulting her about his studies. He has developed the greatest fondness for languages, and has raked up somebody to teach him Hebrew, though he gets on so fast he hardly needs a teacher, and I do believe Rachel is studying it with him. Anyhow, all their interests are the same nowadays.
This is a sad blow to aunt Maria. She is taking such delight in his advancement she forgets all her talk about “ quiet domestic life ” for him, and has all sorts of ambitious views for his future. Georgiana is . . . and devoted. During his illness she used to bring him . . . and delicacies made by herself. Georgiana talks suggestively about the house she shall have when she is married. She has picked out one of those on Summer Street, with the horse-chestnuts in front,
—not far from Otis Place. No wonder she thinks it may prove a bribe. It surely is one for aunt Maria, who fancies Ralph quietly settled . . . for the rest of his life, no . . . but here is “ the inevitable consequence.”
May 10, 1833.
. . . and afraid my winter’s letters bored you, with nothing to tell, but the same old thing over and over, Ralph improving, aunt M.’s qualms, etc. Yesterday I met the B.’s. They told me how lately they had seen you, and it was like a fresh breeze straight from ... to hear about you in that way. They report to me what you told them of my letters, which quite sets me up, and inspires me to start another at once, the rather that I have not told you of the excitement we have all been having over Fanny Kemble. She was here five weeks, and the whole town has been in commotion. She returns some of the sweet things showered upon her: Boston is more like an English city, etc., than any she has yet seen ! “ Delightful to act to audiences so ‘ pleasantly pleased ’ ! ” Such a rush as there was at the box office every day, a regular riot for the . . . But oh, the acting! I saw her as Bianca, in Fazio, as Lady Teazle, and in the Hunchback twice. Never shall I forget her " I hate you, Helen! ” I long to have to say it to somebody, — just in her tone. We went up one day to the H. ’s, in Tremont Place, for, what do you think ? To see the divine Fanny, from their windows, ride off on horseback from the Tremont House door! But presently we grew bold, and pressed up to the door itself, and waited in the crowd, to see her come out and mount her horse. She embraced his neck and kissed him ! Georgiana was with us. She had put her hand through the railings, and had picked some mignonette growing inside the little garden plot shut off there, and when Miss Kemble had mounted she ventured to lift up her little bunch of flowers, which was received by the “divine” Fanny, Julia, Bianca, in one, with the sweetest and most cordial of smiles. Georgiana did make a very pretty little picture, by the side of the horse curveting, with her own brown curls blown about by the wind, and all the school-girls and the rest of us quite envied her. It was exactly like her; she is very impulsive about giving things, other people’s as well as her own . . .
This letter has been lying by, and I take it up to send you a great bit of news. Ralph is to graduate with honors ! At the last exhibition, he made the most brilliant appearance of all the graduating class ! He has advanced so fast that it astonishes everybody, and will graduate this year, after all. Can you imagine aunt M.’s delight at the reception in Ralph’s room, after the exhibition ! . . . Besides the foreigners . . . there, with whom Ralph talked glibly in French and German . . . from Oxford, who addressed him in Latin, and Ralph fired back an answer without a moment’s hesitation. . . . And no wonder, her highest ambition is realized. Ralph has turned out a genius, and yet remains still the same dear good fellow through it all. But what will interest you more is that he has determined to study medicine, and means to go at it directly after his graduation. Luckily I restrained myself as I was about to seal this letter last night, for I can now wind up with a coup, do you call it ? which will stir your blood: Ralph is engaged to Rachel!
I am more happy about it than . . . for I have been hoping . . . but aunt M. was so opposed . . .
Rachel has been angelic through it all; . . . evidently saw aunt M.’s disapproval, and tried to keep herself out of the way ; and I really thought she was going to succeed, and Ralph would gradually “ get off the notion,” as aunt M. said, especially as Georgiana has haunted the house, and kept herself in the way with the same persistency that Rachel showed in her retreat, but has been, nevertheless, very charming, I must say.
But last night Ralph announced it all to his mother, and told her that Rachel was only waiting her consent, and then he went on to tell how the whole happiness of his life depended upon it; and when aunt M. sobbed out something about the splendid prospects before him, he declared that he never would have had any prospects, if it had not been for Rachel, and she was his guiding star, and all that. So aunt M. consented he should bring Rachel round that very evening, and now that’t is a foregone conclusion, I know ’t will end in her thinking she planned it. . . .
Everything with a perfect rush. It looks now as if they would be married this very autumn, and Ralph talks about going out to you, and carrying on his studies abroad. Whether in his present ecstasy he will find time to send you a letter bespeaking your congratulations I dare not promise, although he said he was going to write you all about it.
. . . 1833.
DEAR JOE, — I hope you have my letter telling that the wedding-day is actually fixed, and that Rachel and Ralph will leave directly for Europe by a vessel from Boston; the Siren, I believe, — a slow thing, but what will they mind ?
We have at last your letter telling of your sudden departure, so we conclude you have missed all ours, with the account of Ralph’s famous success in his very first term at the medical school, and his plan of going abroad for study . . . the remarkable sensation over his astonishing article on certain Hebrew letters, and how he is to be sent out to look up some philological matters, all expenses paid, he to remain abroad two years ! As of course he must be married first . . . and the wedding will take place at once. Forgive my telling it all over again, but there may be a chance of this letter’s hitting you somewhere, if it goes by the Pacific, which leaves New York a few days before the Siren, and Ralph is eager to see you as soon as possible, to gain your advice about further travels. Poor aunt M. is well-nigh daft; she flutters about between delight and sorrow ... so proud of all Ralph’s great success ... at the same time terrified. Whether she is overwhelmed by this sudden and unexpected realization of her wildest ambitions for Ralph, or whether some strange morbid feeling is gaining possession of her . . . Only she grows more and more fond of Rachel, who keeps the sweet quiet tenor of her way through it all. So calm, and yet so devoted to aunt M., who of course will miss Ralph terribly . . . seldom been absent from her. Indeed, Rachel has urged aunt M. to go with them, which shows what a saint she is, but aunt M. will not. . . .
. . . On the eve of the great event . . . keep my letter open for the last happy details ... to be married in King’s Chapel, — did I say that before ? — and go up to Groton for a few quiet days before the Siren leaves ; and meanwhile I will hurry this letter off for the Pacific, that it may be sure to reach you a little while before their arrival. I am so glad that we have at last your correct and — apparently ? — permanent address.
The joyous crisis . . . such a lovely day for the wedding . . . to be at twelve o’clock — I am perfectly confident I have told you all this full half a dozen times — a reception here afterwards . . . Just been down for a last look at the rooms : parlor a bower of flowers sent in by the S—s from their Brookline green-house. Aunt M. adjusting herself to her best satin, and I, in my new silk you sent, am fairly rigid with grandeur.
Sit down to begin a letter to you mainly to tranquillize my nerves: will finish and send it off when it is all over and they are gone.
“ All over ? ” — ’t is all over now. Merciful Father, but how ? Oh, my darling brother, how can I write it! All the brightness turned to blackness in a minute — It is too terrible ; our only hope now is in you . . . But I must stop and get control of myself; I cannot write coherently.
Aunt M. and I went in the same carriage with Ralph to King’s Chapel, and I never saw him more lovely, saying such sweet things to his mother, — how his marriage would never change his relations to her, expressing more than ever he has known how to express before !
. . . and I wish I might dwell forever upon this one but last happy moment with Ralph, for how can I prepare you for the rest, or how can I describe it! . . . anybody would think . . . yet just now when I left him to try to finish this letter, he was talking so calmly, making his plans with so much care, that I almost feel as if the horrors passed must be only a nightmare! ... We arrived at the church, where I left Ralph and aunt M. in the vestibule, and walked up the aisle on the arm of an usher, — just a few friends there, happily for us,
— and waited till they should come in. Rachel with her father, Ralph with his cousin Th—; with no bridesmaids, happily ! Mr. G., who was to perform the ceremony, came forward, — we were all standing near them, Rachel exquisitely lovely and pale, — when suddenly I saw Ralph look up, as if dazed at the scene before him; then he said in a low but clear voice to Mr. G., “ I cannot go on. Do not go on ! ” Then to Rachel, “ It cannot be.”
It is like writing out a terrible dream, or trying to. How can I tell of the tremor, the confusion that followed, nor do I know how we all came back here, some few friends with us, Dr. L., the J.’s, but I heard Ralph say distinctly to Rachel, “ It cannot be, Rachel! I have been married before ! ” . . . that Ralph still stubbornly sticks to his purpose of going abroad, and will not even see Rachel again. They have taken her back to Groton. He is strangely quiet, but constantly repeats the same terrible words, — “I cannot marry Rachel. I have been married before! ” Aunt M. and I consider this . . . but how can he
— where can he have been married before ? He was away, to be sure, without aunt M. that spring in Cuba. But he came home as light-hearted, as boyish and . . . He refuses to explain, and becomes violent if questioned. Once he muttered something to the effect that . . . and “ thought she was dead.” What she he meant I . . .
But he refuses to see Rachel, and her friends have taken her away . . . prostrated with the shock . . . threatened with brain fever. He starts . . . Dr. L. goes with him. Aunt M. is overwhelmed . . . and believes this is the result of over-study, for which she is responsible . . . the greatest trial of her life . . . but has to bear up.
Strange to say, my mind constantly reverts to R.’s accident. What was the nature of the operation Spurzheim performed on R. . . and in this connection I think too of Ludovic Radzinski. What has become of him ? He has nevef appeared again. Is he living or dead ?
PARIS, 2d Sept. 1833.
DEAR PATTY, — Yes! Ralph is here, — turned up yesterday all right. After all your hysterics, expected to find him a fit subject for a strait - jacket. Nothing of the sort! Brain affected, — pooh! He’s as calm as a clock, pulse as steady and strong as my own ; for the rest, he eats like a coal - heaver, and sleeps like a log.
So much for your melodrama at King’s Chapel. The truth is, you Bostoners live in such a cramped little rut that when anything the least unusual happens you go into frenzies. What do I think of it ? Nothing at all. Found he could n’t stand his tiresome little school-marm, — Rachel do you call her ? — and when it came to tying up for life he broke loose and gave her the slip, and I don’t much blame him. Or perhaps he had been married before. Suppose he had; where ’s the occasion for all the ecstatics ?
Meantime, tell aunt M. to dismiss her frets. I ’ll take him under my wing and make a man of him ; begin by shaking some of the stale saintliness out of him, and teaching him a little wholesome wickedness.
That’s all the trouble ; he needs inoculating with the varioloid of sin and naughtiness. Why, he wanted to go to church this morning, — think he called it “ meeting,” — and I suspect him of saying his prayers at night.
Oh, yes, he’s a nice boy enough, not bad-looking, but shockingly raw; no tone, no manner, no civilization. But deuce take him ! where did he pick up his French ? He leaves me out of sight; rattles it off like a magpie. His accent, of course, is vile; sounds as if it might have been picked up from a Dutch barber. Withal he has the medical bee in his bonnet. Make a doctor ? Not a doubt of him ; it is only by main strength I can keep him out of the hospitals.
Yes, Dr. L. sent me an account of the operation. Nothing so very wonderful, — things more strange every day at the clinics here. Of course your Yankee doctors were astonished. Old “ Spurz ” was enough to amaze them. A stork descending amongst the tadpoles of the Frog-Pond would have proved a lesser marvel than a German specialist amongst your Boston quidnuncs.
Ah, Patty, dear, come over here, girl, and look back on your speck of a peninsula, and get a comparative notion of what and where you are in the world.
“ Coming home ? ” Not I! What should I come home for, save to see you ? I should stifle, to begin with ; and besides, so far as I can make out, all my old set is broken up, —married, dead, or gone to the devil. No, no, no! You ’d better come over here, — far and away.
But to come back to the boy, — tell aunt M. to rest her soul in peace. He shall do no work ; I will keep him loafing. I am an experienced loafer myself, and ’t is an art, I can assure her. It takes patience, courage, philosophy, — nay, wit too, — to be a successful loafer; one, that is, who shall not be a whiner, a valetudinarian, a gamester, or a sot.
And so, dear Sis, good-by to you.
HANOVER, Oct. 9, 1833.
DEAR PATTY, — Yes, Hanover, — you may well rub your eyes ; I 've been rubbing mine ever since I got here. None the less here I am, dragged away from home hundreds of miles, at the heels of this restless cub of a cousin. Why did we come ? Because the young rascal would be studying and dissecting instead of amusing himself. Talk of the delights of Paris, —why, they were drugs in the market; the most blasé old garçon of fifty could n’t have been more bored and indifferent. Nothing would do but Germany. So here we are; anything for peace. I 'm the man with the dog. I hold the leash, but the dog drags me where he lists. A pretty pace, too, we go at. I’m not so slight as I was. I don’t want to shock you, Patty, dear, but my waist measures — hang fractions ! let us say a round forty; and I sometimes puff a bit going up-stairs, — all of which means that I like to go my own gait.
You ’d think this city was the young man’s native heath. Egad, and he speaks the jargon even better than he did French, gabbles it off in a way that chokes and confounds me. Places, too, he knows them every one, — streets, squares, buildings, markets ; greets them with an air of recognition, each and all, as “loved spots that his infancy knew.”
. . . But latterly I’ve had a little peace. He has found a companion: a young Englishman, grandson to a lord, and so of course eminently respectable. But the Britisher has other equipments, such as some sense, a dash of spirit, and a little knowledge of the world ; and so I let R. loose with him, while I, I take my ease in my inn, — what ease I may, with their vile Teuton cooking and their feather beds to sleep betwixt. . . .
. . . Buddington — that’s the Englishman — improves on acquaintance. He and R. are getting as thick as thieves. R. calls him “ Bud ” already, and he counters with “ Rafe.” Bud has a fiendish vigor, — I dread his approach, except when tamed by fatigue. He drags R. about from dawn to dark, sight-seeing. They go to the galleries, cathedrals, libraries, arsenals, and all that nonsense. I join them in the evening at the concert garden or the theatre. It works well. The Englishman is a treasure. I appreciate and esteem him; he’s worth at least several times his weight in any known metal. . . .
What think you now is on the tapis ? No less than a trip to India. I can fancy the big eyes you and aunt M. will make at the announcement. Not for me, grace à Dieu ! I 'm counted out.
T is the Englishman again. “ See India and die,” is John Bull’s motto, you know. Well, Ralph took the fever from him, and ’t is a good thing. Now pray do not go into spasms, you two foolish women ! Nothing better could happen to Ralph, I say. In the first place, he is well, vigorous, and alert, and able to look out for himself. If he were not, he is to have the very best traveling companion that could be imagined. Bud is shrewd, self-reliant, a good fellow, and quite devoted to Ralph. Moreover, he travels with a valet, and has letters of introduction to all the government officials. So “ go along and god-speed” to them, I say, . . .
. . . draws near; they will set out in a week. I go with them as far as Paris.
Tell aunt M. ’t is quite out of the question for me to go. ’T would be the sure death of me. I have lost five-andtwenty pounds already since I left home. Nevertheless, comfort her with the assurance that I shall see R. stocked with flannels, brandy, and all necessary grandmotherly cautions about the climate, against her first letter, which she may direct to Calcutta poste restante. R. will send the address in due time.
Again I say, dismiss all fears and anxieties, and believe me,
Your brother, JOE.
DEAR PATTY, — The inclosed will speak for itself. ’T is from Buddington. He is British to the heels, and would not yield to panic without cause. The King’s Chapel business rises before my eyes in a new light.
With regard to this affair, I can only say, Wait! Withhold judgment until you hear from me. I start for India at once, — am hurrying on my packing at this very moment, and in a few hours shall be off. Poor aunt M.! Make light of it to her. I am conscience-stricken that I ever let him out of my sight. Still — still — still, this may all prove a false alarm ; they are but boys, after all, — there must be some explanation. Don’t borrow needless trouble. Again I say, Wait! You may depend on me to do everything that can be done. Here is Buddington’s letter! Will write the moment I arrive.
JOSEPH CLYDE, ESQ.:
DEAR SIR, — Your presence here at the earliest possible moment is required. A most distressing thing has happened. I cannot stop to give details, but write post haste to catch the mail about to close. Everything connected with the affair is involved in mystery. I can only say now that an appalling tragedy has been committed, and that your cousin is implicated. I am of course firmly convinced of his innocence, but must confess his own behavior is most extraordinary and inexplicable. I am shocked to add he is in custody. Make haste, dear sir, and lose not a moment in coming to his aid. Meantime, I need not assure you I will do everything in my power to sustain and defend him. Believe me, with much respect,
Your obedient, humble servant,
ST. GEORGE BUDDTNGTON.
P. S. DEAR PATTY, — Have kept this open for a last word. Am already, as you see, en route. Have written ahead that all legal proceedings be suspended until I arrive, that I shall be able to fully vindicate the boy. One thing you must do for me: get an affidavit from Doctors J., W., and the rest, of the exact nature of the operation performed by Spurzheim upon R., as also another affidavit from one or more eyewitnesses of the King’s Chapel affair, and forward to me at Dhacca, without delay. Yours affectionately,
DHACCA, BENGAL, Feb. 10, 1834.
DEAR PATTY, - Arrived here yesterday. Lose not a minute in assuring you of Ralph’s health and innocence. Now having said so much, I must beg you to have patience. ... I will not disguise from you that this is an ugly business. God only knows what will be the issue of it . . . The story is too long and complicated for me even to attempt to tell it here. Neither can I spare the time. Every minute now must be given to Ralph. The best I can do is to inclose a fragment of Buddington’s diary, which he has allowed me to copy, giving a brief account of all that is thus far known of the matter.
B. deserves our warmest thanks. He has acted like a man ; not only that, but a steadfast, loyal friend, and that too in the face of the blackest array of circumstances . . . whatever may come.
Here is the diary : you will see from it what a task is before me to establish R.’s innocence. No time for another word. Will write again soon.
EXTRACTS FROM THE INDIAN DIARY OF ST. GEORGE BUDDINGTON.
Dec. 5th. Set out with Wheaton from Calcutta for a trip through Northern India. Hired a large budgerow and two pulwars; shipped our saddle - horses, traps, and natives . . . Thick fogs every morning, broiling heat at noonday . . . picturesque but horribly filthy villages on banks. . . . Passed company’s military school at Allipore . . . government’s salt-works . . . murdered body of a native on river-bank. . . . Entered Soondurbunds; . . . Mangoes, peepuls, palmettoes, cocoa-nuts, and date-trees, line the banks . . . myriads of fireflies. . . .
10th. Not a shot all day at anything . . . river full of porpoises . . . dandies gooning the budgerow waded up to their knees in black mud . . . air darkened by flocks of parrots.
15th. Lugâod at eight o’clock for huninland. Traversed a neighboring jheel: found multitudes of ibis, manichors, paddy-birds; not one within range. R. discovered footprint of tiger, and gave the alarm. We beat a hasty retreat.
17th. . . . and passed mug-boats from Chittagong . . . river bounded by villainous marshes, harboring flocks of herons, bitterns, ducks, etc. R. killed a fine brace . . .
20th. Arrived at Dhacca: this city one of the largest in India, on the Boorigunga, 155 miles northeast from Calcutta. Much to be seen. Disembarked for a stay of several weeks. . . . Found very comfortable quarters near the Residency in house of a staff-officer, kindly lent to us by owner, just about setting out on a surveying tour on the Upper Ganges.
21st. Very comfortably settled ; our kidmutgar feeds us on the fat of the land, from a capital market close by in the chowk. . . . Report ourselves at Residency, — very kindly received.
22d. R. amazes me by talking Bengalee as glib as a native ; affects to be as amazed as myself, swears he never studied it, but I am getting used to his waggery.
23d. We are overrun with company : officers of the — th Royal Artillery, quartered here, dined with us to-day. R. delights everybody ; they stare to see an American with such accomplishments . . . Here is where the famous India muslins are made. Went to see the pits dug in ground, where the natives stand while weaving . . .
24th. Visited the elephant-sheds : hundreds of the young animals brought here to be tamed and trained. A thought occurred to me ; suggested to R. that we hire a couple, and go tiger-hunting in the jungle. He caught eagerly at the notion, and has given me no peace since in the matter.
25th. Bought five oranges, four for a pice . . . went to wait upon the nabob of Dhacca : a mere boy, illiterate as a clown, they say, and well-nigh as poor . . . decided at last on our tiger-hunt. Went again to elephant-pens ; there fell in with a trader from Lahore, a Seik elephantdealer . . .
26th. The Seik came to our house to dicker about elephants for our hunt, — a tall, wiry, powerful figure, fierce eye, and insolent manner; at his heels a sullen, dogged-looking retainer with the air of a Thug, — a precious pair. R. rashly pulled out a fat-looking purse ; caught the Seik eying it greedily. Took R. to task afterwards for his imprudence ; he only laughed.
28th. . . . Hunt fixed at last for Thursday week ; officers of the —th to join us.... The Seik with his Thug comes every day to chaffer, by turns impudent and cringing, extortionate in his demands. R., with Yankee thrift, declines to be swindled.
30th. Savage row with the Seik. Came as usual, his minion at his heels. R., tired of his insolence, bade him begone. The Seik became furious, and half drew a knife. I ostentatiously picked up a pistol from the table; he saw it, and checked himself. . . . R., in a towering rage, thrust them forth; a loud altercation followed in the street; a crowd gathered from the neighboring chowk. I dragged R. in, and shut the door.
January 2d. Startling news of the murder of the Seik ; his body found horribly mangled . . . visit from the Jemadar . . . Absurd notion, R. suspected of the crime on account of the quarrel the other day. The rumor spread like wildfire amongst the natives. Street thronged by excited Bengalese, besieging our door and demanding vengeance ; detachment of the —th smuggled into the house for our protection ; measures taken by government to prevent a riot; the mob with difficulty dispersed.
3d. R. behaves in a very strange way: shows neither surprise, horror, nor indignation at the charge ; is quiet, calm, and preoccupied ; will say nothing, takes no interest in measures for his defense.
4th. Excitement unabated ... A most shocking development; R. publicly confesses that he committed the murder ; his friends and all the English here horrified ; 't is impossible and absurd ; the shock must have affected his reason. Yet he seems quite collected. I argue and plead with him, beg for an explanation ; he refuses to go into the matter, but persists in declaring himself guilty. Nothing can be done in the face of this avowal. Wrote at once to his cousin at Paris.
5th. . . . R. taken into custody; led away to the Kutwalee for examination — an immense crowd at his heels. Employed a noted Vakeel to defend him, and dispatched a messenger for the most eminent English counsel to be had in Calcutta. Meantime, we sit in the dark. R. will say nothing, and the only facts thus far ascertained with regard to the tragedy are these : —
Thursday, P. M., after the quarrel at our house . . . and the Seik went home, talking to the rabble with great violence . . . Was next seen alive and well in the chowk, towards evening, bartering . . . Accompanied later to his bungalow by a well-known merchant of Dhacca, who parted with him on the threshold as the Thug opened the door. Nothing more seen or known until he was found . . . and evidences of a fierce struggle all about the room and the body.
DHACCA, March 6, 1834.
DEAR PATTY, - This is to be but a hurried line for aunt M.’s comfort; have been working night and day since I arrived. You understand that the trial was put off until I came, on the understanding that I could give evidence which would free the accused.
Notwithstanding Ralph’s confession, his counsel have of course put in a technical plea of “ not guilty,” on which we shall go to trial. The case against him is purely inferential, and the evidence contemptible, were it not for his obstinately insisting that he committed the crime. I am waiting anxiously now for the affidavit from you to meet that confession.
Meantime, there is one obvious course to be taken, to wit: the discovery of the real murderer. This, considering the Hindu hatred of the English and their natural zeal in shielding each other, is an almost hopeless task. However, I have left no stone unturned, and have reason to believe that I am on the track of the right man.
Ralph, of course, is still in custody, but everything possible has been done for his comfort; he is in a moody, melancholy state, as though he were a real culprit. I have had the most distinguished experts here to visit him, but they find nothing whatever the matter with his mind.
Yours just came to hand, with the affidavits, etc.; never was so glad to see your handwriting. I am now ready for the trial, and confident of an acquittal ; . . . and what you say of the Pole is very strange. “ Disappeared directly after the operation,” — humph! Why did he go ? Where can he have gone ? How do we know his name really was Radzinski ? How do we know Spurzheim knew anything about him save in a professional way ?
No time for more, — must gird up my loins now for the trial. Courage, patience ! Yours, JOE.
DEAR PATTY, — Thank God, the boy is safe! The trial is over. I never . . . exciting and exhausting a scene. An English judge presided. The rules and precedents of the English courts prevailed in the admission of testimony. As I said before, there was no evidence against Ralph worth considering. . . . All went well till R. suddenly took it into his head to rise in the prisoner’s dock, and offer himself as a witness. Despite all we could do, too, he insisted upon it, and thereupon took the stand, and repeated his confession in open court. The prosecution promptly moved for judgment upon the confession, but our counsel from Calcutta, a very astute man, insisted upon his right to examine the witness. He was very adroit; he addressed R. kindly and sympathetically, and led him on to describe the details . . . all saw at once not only that, but times, places, and incidents were so wholly different from the known facts in the Seik’s case. While this was going on I saw Buddington making towards me . . . and an English merchant whom he presented. The Engli ... whispered “ This is all about a famous murder committed in Calcutta ten years ago” I notified our counsel directly ... The Englishman was placed in the witnessbox, and testified as to the former crime ; the official records were brought, confirming the evidence . . . great sensation in court.
Following hard upon this I took the stand, with the affidavits as to the operation on Ralph and the scene at the King’s Chapel; then by his certificate of baptism and his diploma showed that Ralph was a Latin School boy in roundabouts ten years ago. And so the thing was done. Nothing more curious in the whole proceeding than Ralph’s own profound astonishment at the account of the operation. He stared at me with absorbed interest, feeling unconsciously of the left side of his head and . . .
Among the natives . . . the most intense interest manifested in the trial . . . court-room crowded . . . line the street . . . with breathless interest . . . and will infallibly regard the result with distrust and suspicion. . . .
By advice of the officials, Ralph was quietly smuggled away as soon as it was known he was acquitted . . . He is now closely watched and guarded . . . The city in a turmoil over the news that he has escaped.
R. himself has not recovered from the description of the Spurzheim operation ; it was a startling revelation to him. One result of his reflection has already appeared : this morning I saw in the mail a letter directed to Rachel Cleverly.
I need not describe to you the delight of Buddington; he has shown the tenderest sympathy and consideration all through . . . nor that we shall lose no time in getting away from here.
You will be glad to hear that the real culprit is found, and who, do you think ... no less a person than . . . nursed his vengeance for years . . . entered his service with that diabolical intent . . . his business, murder and assassination . . . and disdained even to rob his victim.
We leave here day after to-morrow. Buddington will go with us as far as Calcutta . . . and Ralph himself is frantic to get home . . . has been a different man since he heard that secret passage in his history . . . and broods over it constantly.
Will try to write you a word from Calcutta, till when good-by.
From your brother, JOE.
BOSTON, June 5, 1834.
DEAR JOE : . . . and you can imagine our state of mind since. Aunt M. was clean beside herself for the first time in her life, and I felt more like a spinning top than a human being . . . Then he has grown and developed so ; why did n’t you tell us ? Oh, Joe, what a fine, manly creature he is! What a large, generous way he has, and withal an air so potent! You were right about . . . hardly been here an hour when he began to grow restless, and at last fairly tore himself from aunt M.’s embraces, to hurry around and see her . . . and it culminated when he brought her back with him to tea . . . evident at a glance that it was all “ fixed up.” Dear Rachel, so sweet, so ready to forgive, so brave to dare the tragic chances such companionship may bring ; dear Ralph, so penitent, so loyal, so devoted, — at his possible worst “ like sweet bells jangled, out of tune,” and nothing more.
Such an evening as that, — such excitement, such tears, such laughter, such noise, such incoherence, such a delightful jumble of Bedlam and Paradise as I shall never know again on earth ! I went to bed hoarse as a crow, with a lump as big as a potato in my throat, my head on fire, my feet like ice, with a vague impression that a calendar year had passed since sunrise. . . .
Ralph has at last had a talk with his mother. I knew it was coming; for days he has had intermittent fits of fathomless gloom. You need not be told the subject of that talk. Dear ! dear ! dear me ! Aunt M. came, with streaming eyes, to tell me of it, and of the poor boy’s hopeless, abject misery under the dark cloud which shadows his life . . . and consulted personally all the doctors who were present. He is very curious, too, to learn more of Radzinski, and has already set on foot inquiries to discover something of his history or whereabouts, if still living.
We have had all the town here to visit. Ralph was always a favorite, and as soon as it got out that he had come home cured, all his old friends came flocking in.
. . . nothing publicly known, of course, about the trial in India. The doctors signing the affidavit advise aunt M. to keep silent, things get so exaggerated and distorted . . . do no good and prejudice R. for years.
A most singular and ingenious device discovered for Ralph’s relief. He is enthusiastic ; we are all hopeful over it. ’T is so simple and seems so reasonable. And who do you think discovered it, invented, suggested, or thought it up ? Why, Rachel; yes, really. Does n’t it seem as if there were moral compensations in life ? I don’t know what a moral compensation is, but I mean, does n’t it seem queer, weird, supernatural, — or whatever the properest word is, — that she should have discovered it ?
“ What is it ? ” Why, I am coming to that this very minute: she suggests that he shall keep always with him a chronological index !
There, now, you are none the wiser ! I knew you would n’t be. I gloried in the thought; it is so delightful to be able to teach you one thing, after all your years and years of patronage and condescension. Well, then, a chronological index is a brief tabulated account or list of all the momentous events of one’s life, with dates attached. Very good ; now note the result. Armed with such a vade mecum, all Ralph has to do when any strange or uncanny remembrance seizes him is to whip out his chronological index, and determine at a glance whether he is remembering as Ralph Wheaton the Yankee, or Ludovic Radzinski the Pole, and act accordingly.
Think if he had but been provided with such a safeguard on that day at King’s Chapel, or through those terrible scenes in India! We are all ecstatic over the discovery; it seems once for all to settle the trouble. At any rate, it has already lifted the heavy load that lay on aunt M.’s heart, and delivered Ralph forth from the dark and pitiable melancholy which was fast settling upon him. And now nothing remains to interfere with . . . This letter, as you see, has already been dragging its slow length along for several days, so I will now make an end of it. But I cannot stop without saying that aunt M. will never, never forget your care and efforts in Ralph’s behalf. I tell her — but no matter what I tell her; you are too conceited already. From your doting sister,
BOSTON, September 12, 1834.
Now, Joe, you will never be so unreasonable as to look for coherence, rhetoric, or intelligence in this letter. You will not want to hear much; the turmoil we are in would drive you to distraction. I can only think of the witches’ song in Macbeth (or wherever else it was in Shakespeare), “ Mingle! mingle ! mingle ! ” We do mingle ; we do scarcely anything else. We mingle constantly, we mingle frantically; we not only mingle things, — everything about us, — but we mingle ourselves. I am mingled so hopelessly with frills and tuckers, ravelings, patches, and shreds, that my pure, shining, unadulterated self will never more be seen on earth.
. . . and you need not ask what’t is all about. Rachel’s trousseau is being made here. Poor girl! she had nowhere else ... he wants it again at King’s Chapel, that the memory of that former day may be . . . but Rachel will not hear of it; not even the effulgence of her present happiness can make her forget that dreadful time ; and so ’t is to be here at home, and quiet as may be. Everything . . . and even the cake made in our own kitchen.
In the midst of all the hurly-burly a little incident . . . which has comforted us all very much. Dr. L., who follows Ralph round like a confidant in an old French play, — when he is not following some one else, you know, — was wandering the other day through a side street with him, when they came upon that most unusual thing in Boston, a Jewish, synagogue (you remember it), and pushed in. A marriage ceremony was going on. Ralph looked bewildered, then startled, Dr. L. says, just as he did that day at King’s Chapel; then suddenly seized Dr. L.’s arm and dragged him out, muttering, “No, no; I never was there, that was his wedding! ” For an hour afterwards he rushed Dr. L. up and down the Common, in the wildest excitement. In the end he calmed down, more like his former self than we have seen him since coming home; bringing Dr. L. home to tell Rachel another event in her chronology of Radzinski. We thanked Dr. L. for helping R. to fight out this first battle with himself; but he said, “ Since I helped put Radzinski’s foreign tongues into his head, the least I can do is to help wipe out the memory of his foreign wives.”
If you could live and breathe twentyfour hours in this Puritan atmosphere, I could fain wish for you to pop in upon us now, — such an ecstatic household . . . and I really believe aunt M. is as fondly, foolishly happy as they themselves.
Your present has arrived ; it is exquisite ; we are in fits of rapture over it. How did you ever think of sending it, before you ever knew that . . . and your congratulations, too, — it is downright uncanny ... I 'm sure I did n’t even whisper a word about a wedding in my last. I was sworn to secrecy.
It has come and gone, — how like a dream, like a meteor in the sky, like an anthem on the organ, like everything beautiful, joyous, and transitory . . . but I cannot describe it. I am limp with reaction: my heart is crammed to bursting with unadulterated content, my brain reels with sweet reminiscences ; a glory of sunshine, songs of birds, perfume of flowers, sweet congratulations, foolish tears, and such was the end — I mean the beginning.