In the internal decoration, if not in the external architecture of

their residences, the English are supreme. The Italians have but little

sentiment beyond marbles and colours. In France, _meliora probant,

deteriora _sequuntur--the people are too much a race of gadabouts to

maintain those household proprieties of which, indeed, they have a

delicate appreciation, or at least the elements of a proper sense. The

Chinese and most of the eastern races have a warm but inappropriate

fancy. The Scotch are _poor _decorists. The Dutch have, perhaps, an

indeterminate idea that a curtain is not a cabbage. In Spain they are

_all _curtains--a nation of hangmen. The Russians do not furnish. The

Hottentots and Kickapoos are very well in their way. The Yankees alone

are preposterous.




How this happens, it is not difficult to see. We have no aristocracy of

blood, and having therefore as a natural, and indeed as an inevitable

thing, fashioned for ourselves an aristocracy of dollars, the _display

of wealth _has here to take the place and perform the office of the

heraldic display in monarchical countries. By a transition readily

understood, and which might have been as readily foreseen, we have been

brought to merge in simple _show_ our notions of taste itself.





To speak less abstractly. In England, for example, no mere parade

of costly appurtenances would be so likely as with us, to create

an impression of the beautiful in respect to the appurtenances

themselves--or of taste as regards the proprietor:--this for the reason,

first, that wealth is not, in England, the loftiest object of ambition

as constituting a nobility; and secondly, that there, the true nobility

of blood, confining itself within the strict limits of legitimate taste,

rather avoids than affects that mere costliness in which a _parvenu

_rivalry may at any time be successfully attempted.


The people _will _imitate the nobles, and the result is a thorough

diffusion of the proper feeling. But in America, the coins current being

the sole arms of the aristocracy, their display may be said, in general,

to be the sole means of the aristocratic distinction; and the populace,

looking always upward for models, are insensibly led to confound the two

entirely separate ideas of magnificence and beauty. In short, the cost

of an article of furniture has at length come to be, with us, nearly

the sole test of its merit in a decorative point of view--and this test,

once established, has led the way to many analogous errors, readily

traceable to the one primitive folly.


There could be nothing more directly offensive to the eye of an artist

than the interior of what is termed in the United States--that is to

say, in Appallachia--a well-furnished apartment. Its most usual defect

is a want of keeping. We speak of the keeping of a room as we would of

the keeping of a picture--for both the picture and the room are amenable

to those undeviating principles which regulate all varieties of art; and

very nearly the same laws by which we decide on the higher merits of a

painting, suffice for decision on the adjustment of a chamber.


A want of keeping is observable sometimes in the character of the

several pieces of furniture, but generally in their colours or modes of

adaptation to use _Very _often the eye is offended by their inartistic

arrangement. Straight lines are too prevalent--too uninterruptedly

continued--or clumsily interrupted at right angles. If curved lines

occur, they are repeated into unpleasant uniformity. By undue precision,

the appearance of many a fine apartment is utterly spoiled.


Curtains are rarely well disposed, or well chosen in respect to other

decorations. With formal furniture, curtains are out of place; and an

extensive volume of drapery of any kind is, under any circumstance,

irreconcilable with good taste--the proper quantum, as well as the

proper adjustment, depending upon the character of the general effect.


Carpets are better understood of late than of ancient days, but we

still very frequently err in their patterns and colours. The soul of the

apartment is the carpet. From it are deduced not only the hues but the

forms of all objects incumbent. A judge at common law may be an ordinary

man; a good judge of a carpet _must be _a genius. Yet we have heard

discoursing of carpets, with the air "_d'un mouton qui reve," _fellows

who should not and who could not be entrusted with the management of

their own _moustaches. _Every one knows that a large floor _may _have a

covering of large figures, and that a small one must have a covering

of small--yet this is not all the knowledge in the world. As

regards texture, the Saxony is alone admissible. Brussels is the

preterpluperfect tense of fashion, and Turkey is taste in its dying

agonies. Touching pattern--a carpet should _not _be bedizzened out like

a Riccaree Indian--all red chalk, yellow ochre, and cock's feathers. In

brief--distinct grounds, and vivid circular or cycloid figures, _of

no meaning, _are here Median laws. The abomination of flowers, or

representations of well-known objects of any kind, should not be

endured within the limits of Christendom. Indeed, whether on carpets,

or curtains, or tapestry, or ottoman coverings, all upholstery of this

nature should be rigidly Arabesque. As for those antique floor-cloth &

still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the rabble--cloths of huge,

sprawling, and radiating devises, stripe-interspersed, and glorious

with all hues, among which no ground is intelligible--these are but the

wicked invention of a race of time-servers and money-lovers--children

of Baal and worshippers of Mammon--Benthams, who, to spare thought

and economize fancy, first cruelly invented the Kaleidoscope, and then

established joint-stock companies to twirl it by steam.


_Glare_ is a leading error in the philosophy of American household

decoration--an error easily recognised as deduced from the perversion of

taste just specified., We are violently enamoured of gas and of glass.

The former is totally inadmissible within doors. Its harsh and unsteady

light offends. No one having both brains and eyes will use it. A mild,

or what artists term a cool light, with its consequent warm shadows,

will do wonders for even an ill-furnished apartment. Never was a more

lovely thought than that of the astral lamp. We mean, of course,

the astral lamp proper--the lamp of Argand, with its original plain

ground-glass shade, and its tempered and uniform moonlight rays. The

cut-glass shade is a weak invention of the enemy. The eagerness with

which we have adopted it, partly on account of its _flashiness,_ but

principally on account of its _greater rest,_ is a good commentary on

the proposition with which we began. It is not too much to say, that the

deliberate employer of a cut-glass shade, is either radically deficient

in taste, or blindly subservient to the caprices of fashion. The light

proceeding from one of these gaudy abominations is unequal broken, and

painful. It alone is sufficient to mar a world of good effect in the

furniture subjected to its influence. Female loveliness, in especial, is

more than one-half disenchanted beneath its evil eye.


In the matter of glass, generally, we proceed upon false principles. Its

leading feature is _glitter--_and in that one word how much of all that

is detestable do we express! Flickering, unquiet lights, are _sometimes

_pleasing--to children and idiots always so--but in the embellishment

of a room they should be scrupulously avoided. In truth, even strong

_steady _lights are inadmissible. The huge and unmeaning glass

chandeliers, prism-cut, gas-lighted, and without shade, which dangle in

our most fashionable drawing-rooms, may be cited as the quintessence of

all that is false in taste or preposterous in folly.


The rage for _glitter-_because its idea has become as we before

observed, confounded with that of magnificence in the abstract--has

led us, also, to the exaggerated employment of mirrors. We line our

dwellings with great British plates, and then imagine we have done a

fine thing. Now the slightest thought will be sufficient to convince

any one who has an eye at all, of the ill effect of numerous

looking-glasses, and especially of large ones. Regarded apart from

its reflection, the mirror presents a continuous, flat, colourless,

unrelieved surface,--a thing always and obviously unpleasant. Considered

as a reflector, it is potent in producing a monstrous and odious

uniformity: and the evil is here aggravated, not in merely direct

proportion with the augmentation of its sources, but in a ratio

constantly increasing. In fact, a room with four or five mirrors

arranged at random, is, for all purposes of artistic show, a room of

no shape at all. If we add to this evil, the attendant glitter upon

glitter, we have a perfect farrago of discordant and displeasing

effects. The veriest bumpkin, on entering an apartment so bedizzened,

would be instantly aware of something wrong, although he might be

altogether unable to assign a cause for his dissatisfaction. But let

the same person be led into a room tastefully furnished, and he would be

startled into an exclamation of pleasure and surprise.


It is an evil growing out of our republican institutions, that here a

man of large purse has usually a very little soul which he keeps in

it. The corruption of taste is a portion or a pendant of the

dollar-manufacture. As we grow rich, our ideas grow rusty. It is,

therefore, not among _our _aristocracy that we must look (if at all, in

Appallachia), for the spirituality of a British _boudoir. _But we have

seen apartments in the tenure of Americans of moderns [possibly "modest"

or "moderate"] means, which, in negative merit at least, might vie with

any of the _or-molu'd _cabinets of our friends across the water. Even

_now_, there is present to our mind's eye a small and not, ostentatious

chamber with whose decorations no fault can be found. The proprietor

lies asleep on a sofa--the weather is cool--the time is near midnight:

we will make a sketch of the room during his slumber.


It is oblong--some thirty feet in length and twenty-five in breadth--a

shape affording the best(ordinary) opportunities for the adjustment of

furniture. It has but one door--by no means a wide one--which is at one

end of the parallelogram, and but two windows, which are at the

other. These latter are large, reaching down to the floor--have deep

recesses--and open on an Italian _veranda. _Their panes are of a

crimson-tinted glass, set in rose-wood framings, more massive than

usual. They are curtained within the recess, by a thick silver tissue

adapted to the shape of the window, and hanging loosely in small

volumes. Without the recess are curtains of an exceedingly rich crimson

silk, fringed with a deep network of gold, and lined with silver tissue,

which is the material of the exterior blind. There are no cornices; but

the folds of the whole fabric (which are sharp rather than massive, and

have an airy appearance), issue from beneath a broad entablature of rich

giltwork, which encircles the room at the junction of the ceiling and

walls. The drapery is thrown open also, or closed, by means of a thick

rope of gold loosely enveloping it, and resolving itself readily into

a knot; no pins or other such devices are apparent. The colours of

the curtains and their fringe--the tints of crimson and gold--appear

everywhere in profusion, and determine the _character _of the room. The

carpet--of Saxony material--is quite half an inch thick, and is of the

same crimson ground, relieved simply by the appearance of a gold cord

(like that festooning the curtains) slightly relieved above the surface

of the _ground, _and thrown upon it in such a manner as to form a

succession of short irregular curves--one occasionally overlaying the

other. The walls are prepared with a glossy paper of a silver gray tint,

spotted with small Arabesque devices of a fainter hue of the prevalent

crimson. Many paintings relieve the expanse of paper. These are chiefly

landscapes of an imaginative cast--such as the fairy grottoes of

Stanfield, or the lake of the Dismal Swamp of Chapman. There

are, nevertheless, three or four female heads, of an ethereal

beauty-portraits in the manner of Sully. The tone of each picture is

warm, but dark. There are no "brilliant effects." _Repose _speaks in

all. Not one is of small size. Diminutive paintings give that _spotty

_look to a room, which is the blemish of so many a fine work of Art

overtouched. The frames are broad but not deep, and richly carved,

without being _dulled _or filagreed. They have the whole lustre of

burnished gold. They lie flat on the walls, and do not hang off with

cords. The designs themselves are often seen to better advantage in this

latter position, but the general appearance of the chamber is injured.

But one mirror--and this not a very large one--is visible. In shape it

is nearly circular--and it is hung so that a reflection of the person

can be obtained from it in none of the ordinary sitting-places of the

room. Two large low sofas of rosewood and crimson silk, gold-flowered,

form the only seats, with the exception of two light conversation

chairs, also of rose-wood. There is a pianoforte (rose-wood, also),

without cover, and thrown open. An octagonal table, formed altogether of

the richest gold-threaded marble, is placed near one of the sofas. This

is also without cover--the drapery of the curtains has been thought

sufficient.. Four large and gorgeous Sevres vases, in which bloom a

profusion of sweet and vivid flowers, occupy the slightly rounded angles

of the room. A tall candelabrum, bearing a small antique lamp with

highly perfumed oil, is standing near the head of my sleeping friend.

Some light and graceful hanging shelves, with golden edges and crimson

silk cords with gold tassels, sustain two or three hundred magnificently

bound books. Beyond these things, there is no furniture, if we except

an Argand lamp, with a plain crimson-tinted ground glass shade, which

depends from He lofty vaulted ceiling by a single slender gold chain,

and throws a tranquil but magical radiance over all.







Intensos rigidarn in frontern ascendere canos


Passus erat----

--Lucan--De Catone


----a bristly bore.


"LET us hurry to the walls," said Abel-Phittim to Buzi-Ben-Levi and

Simeon the Pharisee, on the tenth day of the month Thammuz, in the year

of the world three thousand nine hundred and forty-one--let us hasten

to the ramparts adjoining the gate of Benjamin, which is in the city of

David, and overlooking the camp of the uncircumcised; for it is the

last hour of the fourth watch, being sunrise; and the idolaters, in

fulfilment of the promise of Pompey, should be awaiting us with the

lambs for the sacrifices."


Simeon, Abel-Phittim, and Duzi-Ben-Levi were the Gizbarim, or

sub-collectors of the offering, in the holy city of Jerusalem.


"Verily," replied the Pharisee; "let us hasten: for this generosity

in the heathen is unwonted; and fickle-mindedness has ever been an

attribute of the worshippers of Baal."



"'That they are fickle-minded and treacherous is as true as the

Pentateuch," said Buzi-Ben-Levi, "but that is only toward the people

of Adonai. When was it ever known that the Ammonites proved wanting to

their own interests? Methinks it is no great stretch of generosity to

allow us lambs for the altar of the Lord, receiving in lieu thereof

thirty silver shekels per head!"


"Thou forgettest, however, Ben-Levi," replied Abel-Phittim, "that the

Roman Pompey, who is now impiously besieging the city of the Most High,

has no assurity that we apply not the lambs thus purchased for the

altar, to the sustenance of the body, rather than of the spirit."


"Now, by the five corners of my beard!" shouted the Pharisee, who

belonged to the sect called The Dashers (that little knot of saints

whose manner of _dashing _and lacerating the feet against the

pavement was long a thorn and a reproach to less zealous devotees-a

stumbling-block to less gifted perambulators)--"by the five corners of

that beard which, as a priest, I am forbidden to shave!-have we lived

to see the day when a blaspheming and idolatrous upstart of Rome shall

accuse us of appropriating to the appetites of the flesh the most holy

and consecrated elements? Have we lived to see the day when--"'


"Let us not question the motives of the Philistine," interrupted

Abel-Phittim' "for to-day we profit for the first time by his avarice

or by his generosity; but rather let us hurry to the ramparts, lest

offerings should be wanting for that altar whose fire the rains of

heaven can not extinguish, and whose pillars of smoke no tempest can

turn aside."


That part of the city to which our worthy Gizbarim now hastened, and

which bore the name of its architect, King David, was esteemed the most

strongly fortified district of Jerusalem; being situated upon the steep

and lofty hill of Zion. Here, a broad, deep, circumvallatory trench,

hewn from the solid rock, was defended by a wall of great strength

erected upon its inner edge. This wall was adorned, at regular

interspaces, by square towers of white marble; the lowest sixty, and the

highest one hundred and twenty cubits in height. But, in the vicinity of

the gate of Benjamin, the wall arose by no means from the margin of the

fosse. On the contrary, between the level of the ditch and the basement

of the rampart sprang up a perpendicular cliff of two hundred and fifty

cubits, forming part of the precipitous Mount Moriah. So that when

Simeon and his associates arrived on the summit of the tower called

Adoni-Bezek-the loftiest of all the turrets around about Jerusalem, and

the usual place of conference with the besieging army-they looked down

upon the camp of the enemy from an eminence excelling by many feet that

of the Pyramid of Cheops, and, by several, that of the temple of Belus.



"Verily," sighed the Pharisee, as he peered dizzily over the precipice,

"the uncircumcised are as the sands by the seashore-as the locusts

in the wilderness! The valley of the King hath become the valley of



"And yet," added Ben-Levi, "thou canst not point me out a Philistine-no,

not one-from Aleph to Tau-from the wilderness to the battlements--who

seemeth any bigger than the letter Jod!"


"Lower away the basket with the shekels of silver!" here shouted a

Roman soldier in a hoarse, rough voice, which appeared to issue from the

regions of Pluto--"lower away the basket with the accursed coin which it

has broken the jaw of a noble Roman to pronounce! Is it thus you evince

your gratitude to our master Pompeius, who, in his condescension, has

thought fit to listen to your idolatrous importunities? The god Phoebus,

who is a true god, has been charioted for an hour-and were you not to

be on the ramparts by sunrise? Aedepol! do you think that we, the

conquerors of the world, have nothing better to do than stand waiting by

the walls of every kennel, to traffic with the dogs of the earth? Lower

away! I say--and see that your trumpery be bright in color and just in



"El Elohim!" ejaculated the Pharisee, as the discordant tones of the

centurion rattled up the crags of the precipice, and fainted away

against the temple--"El Elohim!--who is the god Phoebus?--whom doth the

blasphemer invoke? Thou, Buzi-Ben-Levi! who art read in the laws of

the Gentiles, and hast sojourned among them who dabble with the

Teraphim!--is it Nergal of whom the idolater speaketh?---or

Ashimah?--or Nibhaz,--or Tartak?--or Adramalech?--or Anamalech?--or

Succoth-Benith?--or Dagon?--or Belial?--or Baal-Perith?--or

Baal-Peor?--or Baal-Zebub?"


"Verily it is neither-but beware how thou lettest the rope slip too

rapidly through thy fingers; for should the wicker-work chance to hang

on the projection of Yonder crag, there will be a woful outpouring of

the holy things of the sanctuary."


By the assistance of some rudely constructed machinery, the heavily

laden basket was now carefully lowered down among the multitude; and,

from the giddy pinnacle, the Romans were seen gathering confusedly

round it; but owing to the vast height and the prevalence of a fog, no

distinct view of their operations could be obtained.


Half an hour had already elapsed.


"We shall be too late!" sighed the Pharisee, as at the expiration of

this period he looked over into the abyss-"we shall be too late! we

shall be turned out of office by the Katholim."


"No more," responded Abel-Phittim---"no more shall we feast upon the fat

of the land-no longer shall our beards be odorous with frankincense--our

loins girded up with fine linen from the Temple."


"Racal" swore Ben-Levi, "Racal do they mean to defraud us of the

purchase money? or, Holy Moses! are they weighing the shekels of the



"They have given the signal at last!" cried the Pharisee-----"they

have given the signal at last! pull away, Abel-Phittim!--and thou,

Buzi-Ben-Levi, pull away!--for verily the Philistines have either still

hold upon the basket, or the Lord hath softened their hearts to place

therein a beast of good weight!" And the Gizbarim pulled away, while

their burden swung heavily upward through the still increasing mist.


"Booshoh he!"--as, at the conclusion of an hour, some object at the

extremity of the rope became indistinctly visible--"Booshoh he!" was the

exclamation which burst from the lips of Ben-Levi.




"Booshoh he!--for shame!--it is a ram from the thickets of Engedi, and as

rugged as the valley of jehosaphat!"


"It is a firstling of the flock," said Abel-Phittim, "I know him by the

bleating of his lips, and the innocent folding of his limbs. His eyes

are more beautiful than the jewels of the Pectoral, and his flesh is

like the honey of Hebron."


"It is a fatted calf from the pastures of Bashan," said the Pharisee,

"the heathen have dealt wonderfully with us----let us raise up

our voices in a psalm--let us give thanks on the shawm and on the

psaltery-on the harp and on the huggab-on the cythern and on the



It was not until the basket had arrived within a few feet of the

Gizbarim that a low grunt betrayed to their perception a hog of no

common size.


"Now El Emanu!" slowly and with upturned eyes ejaculated the trio, as,

letting go their hold, the emancipated porker tumbled headlong among the

Philistines, "El Emanu!-God be with us--it is _the unutterable flesh!"_







DURING the dread reign of the Cholera in New York, I had accepted the

invitation of a relative to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement

of his _cottage ornee_ on the banks of the Hudson. We had here around

us all the ordinary means of summer amusement; and what with rambling

in the woods, sketching, boating, fishing, bathing, music, and books,

we should have passed the time pleasantly enough, but for the fearful

intelligence which reached us every morning from the populous city.

Not a day elapsed which did not bring us news of the decease of some

acquaintance. Then as the fatality increased, we learned to expect daily

the loss of some friend. At length we trembled at the approach of every

messenger. The very air from the South seemed to us redolent with death.

That palsying thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I

could neither speak, think, nor dream of any thing else. My host was

of a less excitable temperament, and, although greatly depressed in

spirits, exerted himself to sustain my own. His richly philosophical

intellect was not at any time affected by unrealities. To the substances

of terror he was sufficiently alive, but of its shadows he had no




His endeavors to arouse me from the condition of abnormal gloom into

which I had fallen, were frustrated, in great measure, by certain

volumes which I had found in his library. These were of a character to

force into germination whatever seeds of hereditary superstition

lay latent in my bosom. I had been reading these books without his

knowledge, and thus he was often at a loss to account for the forcible

impressions which had been made upon my fancy.


A favorite topic with me was the popular belief in omens--a belief

which, at this one epoch of my life, I was almost seriously disposed

to defend. On this subject we had long and animated discussions--he

maintaining the utter groundlessness of faith in such matters,--I

contending that a popular sentiment arising with absolute spontaneity-

that is to say, without apparent traces of suggestion--had in itself the

unmistakable elements of truth, and was entitled to as much respect

as that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of



The fact is, that soon after my arrival at the cottage there had

occurred to myself an incident so entirely inexplicable, and which had

in it so much of the portentous character, that I might well have been

excused for regarding it as an omen. It appalled, and at the same time

so confounded and bewildered me, that many days elapsed before I could

make up my mind to communicate the circumstances to my friend.


Near the close of exceedingly warm day, I was sitting, book in hand, at

an open window, commanding, through a long vista of the river banks, a

view of a distant hill, the face of which nearest my position had been

denuded by what is termed a land-slide, of the principal portion of its

trees. My thoughts had been long wandering from the volume before me to

the gloom and desolation of the neighboring city. Uplifting my eyes

from the page, they fell upon the naked face of the bill, and upon an

object--upon some living monster of hideous conformation, which very

rapidly made its way from the summit to the bottom, disappearing finally

in the dense forest below. As this creature first came in sight, I

doubted my own sanity--or at least the evidence of my own eyes; and

many minutes passed before I succeeded in convincing myself that I was

neither mad nor in a dream. Yet when I described the monster (which

I distinctly saw, and calmly surveyed through the whole period of

its progress), my readers, I fear, will feel more difficulty in being

convinced of these points than even I did myself.


Estimating the size of the creature by comparison with the diameter of

the large trees near which it passed--the few giants of the forest which

had escaped the fury of the land-slide--I concluded it to be far larger

than any ship of the line in existence. I say ship of the line, because

the shape of the monster suggested the idea--the hull of one of our

seventy-four might convey a very tolerable conception of the general

outline. The mouth of the animal was situated at the extremity of a

proboscis some sixty or seventy feet in length, and about as thick as

the body of an ordinary elephant. Near the root of this trunk was

an immense quantity of black shaggy hair--more than could have been

supplied by the coats of a score of buffaloes; and projecting from this

hair downwardly and laterally, sprang two gleaming tusks not unlike

those of the wild boar, but of infinitely greater dimensions. Extending

forward, parallel with the proboscis, and on each side of it, was a

gigantic staff, thirty or forty feet in length, formed seemingly of pure

crystal and in shape a perfect prism,--it reflected in the most gorgeous

manner the rays of the declining sun. The trunk was fashioned like a

wedge with the apex to the earth. From it there were outspread two pairs

of wings--each wing nearly one hundred yards in length--one pair being

placed above the other, and all thickly covered with metal scales; each

scale apparently some ten or twelve feet in diameter. I observed that

the upper and lower tiers of wings were connected by a strong chain.



the chief peculiarity of this horrible thing was the representation of a

Death's Head, which covered nearly the whole surface of its breast, and

which was as accurately traced in glaring white, upon the dark ground of

the body, as if it had been there carefully designed by an artist. While

I regarded the terrific animal, and more especially the appearance

on its breast, with a feeling or horror and awe--with a sentiment of

forthcoming evil, which I found it impossible to quell by any effort of

the reason, I perceived the huge jaws at the extremity of the proboscis

suddenly expand themselves, and from them there proceeded a sound so

loud and so expressive of wo, that it struck upon my nerves like a knell

and as the monster disappeared at the foot of the hill, I fell at once,

fainting, to the floor.


Upon recovering, my first impulse, of course, was to inform my friend

of what I had seen and heard--and I can scarcely explain what feeling of

repugnance it was which, in the end, operated to prevent me.


At length, one evening, some three or four days after the occurrence, we

were sitting together in the room in which I had seen the apparition--I

occupying the same seat at the same window, and he lounging on a sofa

near at hand. The association of the place and time impelled me to

give him an account of the phenomenon. He heard me to the end--at first

laughed heartily--and then lapsed into an excessively grave demeanor, as

if my insanity was a thing beyond suspicion. At this instant I again

had a distinct view of the monster--to which, with a shout of absolute

terror, I now directed his attention. He looked eagerly--but maintained

that he saw nothing--although I designated minutely the course of the

creature, as it made its way down the naked face of the hill.


I was now immeasurably alarmed, for I considered the vision either as an

omen of my death, or, worse, as the fore-runner of an attack of mania. I

threw myself passionately back in my chair, and for some moments buried

my face in my hands. When I uncovered my eyes, the apparition was no

longer apparent.


My host, however, had in some degree resumed the calmness of his

demeanor, and questioned me very rigorously in respect to the

conformation of the visionary creature. When I had fully satisfied

him on this head, he sighed deeply, as if relieved of some intolerable

burden, and went on to talk, with what I thought a cruel calmness, of

various points of speculative philosophy, which had heretofore formed

subject of discussion between us. I remember his insisting very

especially (among other things) upon the idea that the principle

source of error in all human investigations lay in the liability of

the understanding to under-rate or to over-value the importance of an

object, through mere mis-admeasurement of its propinquity. "To estimate

properly, for example," he said, "the influence to be exercised on

mankind at large by the thorough diffusion of Democracy, the distance

of the epoch at which such diffusion may possibly be accomplished should

not fail to form an item in the estimate. Yet can you tell me one writer

on the subject of government who has ever thought this particular branch

of the subject worthy of discussion at all?"


He here paused for a moment, stepped to a book-case, and brought forth

one of the ordinary synopses of Natural History. Requesting me then to

exchange seats with him, that he might the better distinguish the fine

print of the volume, he took my armchair at the window, and, opening the

book, resumed his discourse very much in the same tone as before.


"But for your exceeding minuteness," he said, "in describing the

monster, I might never have had it in my power to demonstrate to you

what it was. In the first place, let me read to you a schoolboy

account of the genus Sphinx, of the family Crepuscularia of the order

Lepidoptera, of the class of Insecta--or insects. The account runs thus:


"'Four membranous wings covered with little colored scales of metallic

appearance; mouth forming a rolled proboscis, produced by an elongation

of the jaws, upon the sides of which are found the rudiments of

mandibles and downy palpi; the inferior wings retained to the superior

by a stiff hair; antennae in the form of an elongated club, prismatic;

abdomen pointed, The Death's--headed Sphinx has occasioned much terror

among the vulgar, at times, by the melancholy kind of cry which it

utters, and the insignia of death which it wears upon its corslet.'"


He here closed the book and leaned forward in the chair, placing

himself accurately in the position which I had occupied at the moment of

beholding "the monster."


"Ah, here it is," he presently exclaimed--"it is reascending the face

of the hill, and a very remarkable looking creature I admit it to be.

Still, it is by no means so large or so distant as you imagined it,--for

the fact is that, as it wriggles its way up this thread, which some

spider has wrought along the window-sash, I find it to be about the

sixteenth of an inch in its extreme length, and also about the sixteenth

of an inch distant from the pupil of my eye."







I never knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed

to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and to

tell it well, was the surest road to his favor. Thus it happened that

his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers.

They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men,

as well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or

whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I

have never been quite able to determine; but certain it is that a lean

joker is a rara avis in terris.


About the refinements, or, as he called them, the 'ghost' of wit, the

king troubled himself very little. He had an especial admiration for

breadth in a jest, and would often put up with length, for the sake

of it. Over-niceties wearied him. He would have preferred Rabelais'

'Gargantua' to the 'Zadig' of Voltaire: and, upon the whole, practical

jokes suited his taste far better than verbal ones.


At the date of my narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone

out of fashion at court. Several of the great continental 'powers' still

retain their 'fools,' who wore motley, with caps and bells, and who were

expected to be always ready with sharp witticisms, at a moment's notice,

in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table.


Our king, as a matter of course, retained his 'fool.' The fact is, he

required something in the way of folly--if only to counterbalance

the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers--not to

mention himself.


His fool, or professional jester, was not only a fool, however. His

value was trebled in the eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also

a dwarf and a cripple. Dwarfs were as common at court, in those days,

as fools; and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through

their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both

a jester to laugh with, and a dwarf to laugh at. But, as I have already

observed, your jesters, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, are fat,

round, and unwieldy--so that it was no small source of self-gratulation

with our king that, in Hop-Frog (this was the fool's name), he possessed

a triplicate treasure in one person.


I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the dwarf by his

sponsors at baptism, but it was conferred upon him, by general consent

of the several ministers, on account of his inability to walk as

other men do. In fact, Hop-Frog could only get along by a sort of

interjectional gait--something between a leap and a wriggle--a movement

that afforded illimitable amusement, and of course consolation, to

the king, for (notwithstanding the protuberance of his stomach and a

constitutional swelling of the head) the king, by his whole court, was

accounted a capital figure.


But although Hop-Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could

move only with great pain and difficulty along a road or floor, the

prodigious muscular power which nature seemed to have bestowed upon his

arms, by way of compensation for deficiency in the lower limbs, enabled

him to perform many feats of wonderful dexterity, where trees or ropes

were in question, or any thing else to climb. At such exercises he

certainly much more resembled a squirrel, or a small monkey, than a



I am not able to say, with precision, from what country Hop-Frog

originally came. It was from some barbarous region, however, that

no person ever heard of--a vast distance from the court of our king.

Hop-Frog, and a young girl very little less dwarfish than himself

(although of exquisite proportions, and a marvellous dancer), had been

forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces,

and sent as presents to the king, by one of his ever-victorious



Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close

intimacy arose between the two little captives. Indeed, they soon became

sworn friends. Hop-Frog, who, although he made a great deal of sport,

was by no means popular, had it not in his power to render Trippetta

many services; but she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty

(although a dwarf), was universally admired and petted; so she possessed

much influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the

benefit of Hop-Frog.


On some grand state occasion--I forgot what--the king determined to

have a masquerade, and whenever a masquerade or any thing of that kind,

occurred at our court, then the talents, both of Hop-Frog and Trippetta

were sure to be called into play. Hop-Frog, in especial, was so

inventive in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel

characters, and arranging costumes, for masked balls, that nothing could

be done, it seems, without his assistance.


The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been

fitted up, under Trippetta's eye, with every kind of device which could

possibly give eclat to a masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of

expectation. As for costumes and characters, it might well be supposed

that everybody had come to a decision on such points. Many had made

up their minds (as to what roles they should assume) a week, or even a

month, in advance; and, in fact, there was not a particle of indecision

anywhere--except in the case of the king and his seven minsters. Why

they hesitated I never could tell, unless they did it by way of a joke.

More probably, they found it difficult, on account of being so fat, to

make up their minds. At all events, time flew; and, as a last resort

they sent for Trippetta and Hop-Frog.


When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king they found

him sitting at his wine with the seven members of his cabinet council;

but the monarch appeared to be in a very ill humor. He knew that

Hop-Frog was not fond of wine, for it excited the poor cripple almost to

madness; and madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his

practical jokes, and took pleasure in forcing Hop-Frog to drink and (as

the king called it) 'to be merry.'


"Come here, Hop-Frog," said he, as the jester and his friend entered the

room; "swallow this bumper to the health of your absent friends, [here

Hop-Frog sighed,] and then let us have the benefit of your invention.

We want characters--characters, man--something novel--out of the way. We

are wearied with this everlasting sameness. Come, drink! the wine will

brighten your wits."


Hop-Frog endeavored, as usual, to get up a jest in reply to these

advances from the king; but the effort was too much. It happened to

be the poor dwarf's birthday, and the command to drink to his 'absent

friends' forced the tears to his eyes. Many large, bitter drops fell

into the goblet as he took it, humbly, from the hand of the tyrant.


"Ah! ha! ha!" roared the latter, as the dwarf reluctantly drained the

beaker.--"See what a glass of good wine can do! Why, your eyes are

shining already!"


Poor fellow! his large eyes gleamed, rather than shone; for the effect

of wine on his excitable brain was not more powerful than instantaneous.

He placed the goblet nervously on the table, and looked round upon the

company with a half--insane stare. They all seemed highly amused at the

success of the king's 'joke.'


"And now to business," said the prime minister, a very fat man.


"Yes," said the King; "Come lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine

fellow; we stand in need of characters--all of us--ha! ha! ha!" and

as this was seriously meant for a joke, his laugh was chorused by the



Hop-Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly.


"Come, come," said the king, impatiently, "have you nothing to suggest?"


"I am endeavoring to think of something novel," replied the dwarf,

abstractedly, for he was quite bewildered by the wine.


"Endeavoring!" cried the tyrant, fiercely; "what do you mean by that?

Ah, I perceive. You are Sulky, and want more wine. Here, drink this!"

and he poured out another goblet full and offered it to the cripple, who

merely gazed at it, gasping for breath.


"Drink, I say!" shouted the monster, "or by the fiends-"


The dwarf hesitated. The king grew purple with rage. The courtiers

smirked. Trippetta, pale as a corpse, advanced to the monarch's seat,

and, falling on her knees before him, implored him to spare her friend.


The tyrant regarded her, for some moments, in evident wonder at

her audacity. He seemed quite at a loss what to do or say--how most

becomingly to express his indignation. At last, without uttering a

syllable, he pushed her violently from him, and threw the contents of

the brimming goblet in her face.


The poor girl got up the best she could, and, not daring even to sigh,

resumed her position at the foot of the table.


There was a dead silence for about half a minute, during which the

falling of a leaf, or of a feather, might have been heard. It was

interrupted by a low, but harsh and protracted grating sound which

seemed to come at once from every corner of the room.


"What--what--what are you making that noise for?" demanded the king,

turning furiously to the dwarf.


The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his

intoxication, and looking fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face,

merely ejaculated:


"I--I? How could it have been me?"


"The sound appeared to come from without," observed one of the

courtiers. "I fancy it was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill

upon his cage-wires."


"True," replied the monarch, as if much relieved by the suggestion;

"but, on the honor of a knight, I could have sworn that it was the

gritting of this vagabond's teeth."


Hereupon the dwarf laughed (the king was too confirmed a joker to object

to any one's laughing), and displayed a set of large, powerful, and very

repulsive teeth. Moreover, he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow

as much wine as desired. The monarch was pacified; and having drained

another bumper with no very perceptible ill effect, Hop-Frog entered at

once, and with spirit, into the plans for the masquerade.


"I cannot tell what was the association of idea," observed he, very

tranquilly, and as if he had never tasted wine in his life, "but just

after your majesty, had struck the girl and thrown the wine in her

face--just after your majesty had done this, and while the parrot was

making that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a

capital diversion--one of my own country frolics--often enacted

among us, at our masquerades: but here it will be new altogether.

Unfortunately, however, it requires a company of eight persons and-"


"Here we are!" cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the

coincidence; "eight to a fraction--I and my seven ministers. Come! what

is the diversion?"


"We call it," replied the cripple, "the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs,

and it really is excellent sport if well enacted."


"We will enact it," remarked the king, drawing himself up, and lowering

his eyelids.


"The beauty of the game," continued Hop-Frog, "lies in the fright it

occasions among the women."


"Capital!" roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry.


"I will equip you as ourang-outangs," proceeded the dwarf; "leave all

that to me. The resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of

masqueraders will take you for real beasts--and of course, they will be

as much terrified as astonished."


"Oh, this is exquisite!" exclaimed the king. "Hop-Frog! I will make a

man of you."


"The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by


Verlag: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG

Tag der Veröffentlichung: 14.03.2014
ISBN: 978-3-7309-9198-5

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