Page images




signs of our perverted civilisation. Inevitably, by the authoress of “Deerbrook," the lady to these woman will press into the ranks of existing whom we are indebted for some of the noblest occupations, as far as they can, and by degrees, articles in the Daily News. they will find quite new spheres of industry. That I presume, now the question of new occupations women should have more fields of industry thrown for women has its fortnightly “organ,"* it will open to them, is an idea as old as good Dr. Watts, commence a policy more or less aggressive. who, in his “ Tractate on Education,” puts down, subject is one which might excuse almost any in the plainest words, an opinion which has even amount of aggression, for it is not one of woman's now to defend itself as if it were a new thing. rights, but of womau's needs. Flinching, as all There is, in truth, no lack of authorities. My men do, from the idea of women working for subreaders are, I hope, no strangers to the noble, sistence, we hare shut our eyes to the stern facts earnest, yet temperate discussion on “The Sin of of the case as they grew, and at this moment Great Cities,” (a name for hich, I believe, we are there is not a population in the world where so indebted to this author,) in which is set the sweet many women are, proportionally, unsexed by toil story of Gretchen, in the “ Companions of my to which they are driven because no betier was Solitude," of Mr. Arthur Helps, published in 1851. provided, or handed over to the streets to perish, From that discussion I take the liberty of extract- as in that of England. ing a few passages :

Willing to press into the service of the cause of

fit employment for unmarried women any reI spoke, for instance, of the cause that poverty' was of this sin. Now, women do not equally partake with men in the spectable testimony, I will quote a pregnant parageneral poverty of a land, but they have to endure an undue graph from Mr. De Quincey (Autobiographic proportion of it, by reason of many employments being Sketches, Vol. II.). Mr. De Quincey refers only closed to them, so that the sex, which is least able and least to literature, but in the passages italicised, tbe fitted to seek for employment by going from home, fiods the bearing is wide enough to reach any kind of meaps of employment at home most circumscribed.

I cannot but think that this is a mismanagement which has occupation suited to the hand and brains of proceeded, like many others, from a wrong appreciation of

ladies :women's powers. If they were told that they could do many

To me, it appears that it would have been better far had more things than they do, they would do them.

As at present educated, they are, for the most part, thoroughly of pursuing literature; better for her own happiness if she

Miss Wordsworth condescended a little to the ordinary mode deficient in method. But this surely might be remedied by had been a blue-stocking; or, at least, if she had been, is training. .

If we consider the nature of the intellect of women, we really can see no reason for the good earnest, a writer for the press, with the pleasant care

and solicitudes of one who has some little ventures, es it restrictions laid upon them in the choice of employments.

toere, on that vast ocean. They possess talents of all kiuds. Goveroment, to be sure,

We all know with how womanly and serepe a temper is a thing not fit for them, their fond prejudices coming literature has been pursued by Joanna Baillie, by Miss Mit. often in the way of justice. Direction, also, they would

ford, and other women of admirable genius-with how want, not baving the same power, I think, of imagination absolutely no sacrifice or loss of feminine dignity, they have thit men have, por the same method, as I observed before.

cultivated the profession of authorship; and, if we could Bi' how well womea might work under direction. In how

hear their report, I have no doubt that the little cares of many ways, where tact and order nlone are required, they correcting proofs, and the forward looking solicitudes commight be employed; and also, in how many higher ways

nected with the mere business arrangements of new prblicawhere talent is required.

There is always tions would be numbered amongst the minor pleasures af life, such a belief in what is mechanical, that men of ordinary

Mrs. Johnstone, of Edinburgh, has purswd minds cannot assure tbemselves that anything is done, unless

the profession of literature - the noblest of professions, and something palpable is before them, unless they can refer to a legislative act, or unless there is a building, an institution, duity, and as a daily occupation ; and, I have every reason

the only one open to both seres alike-aith eren more assiA NEWSPAPER, or some visible thing which illustrates the

to believe, with as much benefit to her own happiness as to the principle.

instruction and amusement of her readers ; for the petty What has set me upon this track of observation

cares of authorship are agreeable, and its serious cares are

engobling. More especially useful is such an occupation to is a circunstance which confers upon the topic of

a tooman without children, and without prospectree resources ; Industrial Culture for Women the interest of

resources in objects that involve hopes growing and unfulf'led. practicalness and tangibility. It has, I find, its It is too much to expect of any woman or man either) that " newspaper" in London! From the “office," in her mind should support itself in a pleasurable acticity under "Princes Street, Cavendish Square” (-Caven- the drooping energies of life by resting on the past or on the dish Square, near which “ Ann and her mother were from day to day must be called in, to reinforce the animal

present ;

;-some interest in reversion, some subject of hope walking one day,” in “Original Poems for Infant fountains of good spirits. Minds"-), I have bad sent to me " The Waver

I is in hands at once graceful and energetic. There profession to women, for as many (men and seems to be nothing blatant or explosive about it. , women, too,) as are fit for it, already find their I notice amorg the contributors' names Anna Mary Howitt and Theodosia Trollope ; and, among * It has also its own proper literature. Chapman and the articles rithout name, I uphesitatingly trace

Hall have just issued an octavo volume, “ The Industrial one to the pen of our greatest female social critic. Ranks," which, published anonymously, is a ine specimen of

and Social Position of Women in the Middle and Lower “The Moral of the Story,"-a deduction from the

those labours of love and conscience in which our literature Glasgow “ tragedy,” could only have been written 'increasingly abounds.


ley Journal," conducted by women ; which, I find, 1 quote this, not to recommend literature as a

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

way to magazines and publisher's counters ; but, bad sunk down, she would have been instantly for its application to the moral importance of em- torn in pieces ; even the appearance of faltering ployment which involves hopes and fears and little would have proved fatal. Uncertain whether to labours to women without “incumbrance."

advance or recede, she hesitated a moment, and the people were just springing forward to seize her, when an unknown woman in the crowd secretly pressed her hand, and, taking the child which she

carried in her arms from her breast, gave it to her THE ACCREDITED INCREDIBLE.

with the words, Return it at the bottom of the In the course of a week's reading, and going about, stair.' She did so, and, protected by the infant one is sure to have his moral generalisations startled citizen, escaped uuburt; and gave back the child, from their propriety by things which, as the Creed but she never saw her deliverer more.”

This we says, “are most certainly to be believed," and which all sympathise with. The privilege of helplessness yet seem so outrageons as to defy all human capa. and innocence protecting a woman who carries a city of belief. Nothing is better accredited than baby is quite a matter of course. But I now the incredible in moral history. This has struck quote this little story of normal human nature me with renewed force lately apropos of the trou- to place it in opposition to another story, also bles in India. From private letters, I have gathered from the Reign of Terror, which belongs to the details of cruelty to women, at the hearing of which Accredited Incredible. I read, over and over strong men turn pale. I have seen a muscular again, distrusting my eyes, that under Carrier, at fellow, six feet high, listen to them, and watched Nantes,-—"Five hundred children of both sexes, the muscles of his cheek fall like those of one the elder of whom was not fourteen years old, wearied by long night watching. As for me, I am were, on one occasion, led out to the same spot to neither muscular por six feet high, but I was ac- be shot. Repeated fusillades cut them down. costed by a friend the other day with the excla- Never was so deplorable a spectacle witnessed, mation that there seemed“ nothing left” of me- the littleness of their stature caused most of the when all that had been deducted from my ordinary bullets, at the first discharge, to fly over their mich had been deducted solely by an anecdote of heads; they broke their bonds, rushed into the the Indian rebellion. It was an incident of cruelty ranks of the executioners, clung round their knees, to a woman which has not found its way into the and, with supplicating hands and agonised looks, newspapers. I am skilful, I believe, in saying ex. sought for mercy. Nothing could soften these ceptional things, but by no periphrasis whatever, by assassins; they put them to death even when no touch of art, could I tell this story. The puzzle lying at their feet.” Here again, we are turned of this and similar cases is that you cannot dismiss adrift into the wild waters of the inconceivably them by saying, in the commonplace of the voca- horrible. Just now, we had a mad crowd respectbulary of horrors,—a fiend must have done it! ing the presence of a child in a woman's arm; Because it is obvious that a man must have planned now we have assassins shooting down five hundred it. A“ fiend” sustains no relation towards a children at once,--and yet not at once, for it must woman which would make it possible for such have been after several fusillades, amidst shrieks, ideas to enter his head. He lacks the first essen- and contortions, and blood. Here and there it tial for inventing the horror.

would bappen that the same child would have to That men may be unkind to women is a fact be shot at twice or thrice; a little thing with a which we may take note of every day of our lives. broken arm would come shrieking to a soldier's There is wife beating, there is desertion, there is foot ; a girl, unhurt by the first discharge, would

We are all angry with our idols some- turn screaming to her brother drowned in blood; times; but in men of common mould the reaction some would faint and be killed while insensible; is almost instantaneous, and the fiercest fires of and—men did all this. Unquestionable men. wrath are soon drowned in floods of tenderness. Two legs; two arms; two eyes ; heart, brain, and Still, the natural instinct of sexual kindness may all the rest, and many of them fathers. No doubt, be in abeyance in the best of us. That we

too, they ate their next meal in due course, as understand. But what we cannot understand, and usual. O, how we should welcome the investigator God forbid that ever we should, is the inverted ac- who falsified facts like these! tion of the instinct in alliance with cruelty. Yet, A touch of the ludicrous sometimes mingles, it is well accredited in its effects, constituting, as though not to lessen it, with the horror and shame they do, some of the most dreadful passages in the of the Accredited Incredible. I can only quote records of the attested impossible.

from memory the well-known anecdote concerning Alison quotes from the Marquis Custine, the son the Queen of Spain's legs. Her Majesty of Spain of the lady, an interesting anecdote of the Reign of was once-may be still, for what I know-pre. Terror. “When Madame de Custine," he says, sumed to have no visible legs. To see them was " appeared on the stair, on leaving the Courts, a death without benefit of clergy. It fell upon a savage cry arose in the mob; the voe ferations of day that the queen, riding out, got the invisible the people and their gestures showed that they member on one side-left or right I wot potwere preparing to murder her on the spot. If she entangled in the stirrap, and fell. Dragged along

[ocr errors]

ill temper.




by the horse, her death seemed certain. A cavalier punishment commuted into banishment, imprisonpresent, knowing the law on the Royal Leg Ques. ment, or some other tender mercy. I have bow. tion, but forgetting it or defying it in the interest ever, a strong belief that the tale is well attested. of common humanity, sprang forward, and saved If it should be otherwise, why, so much the better the life of a woman, and that woman bis Queen. for the facts. If it really is true, it is one of the If my recollection is accurate, this gentleman was most revolting instances of that Accredited Inexecuted for liis courage. To have not only seen credible which turns up in History and Biography the Queen's leg, but to have touched it, was death, so often as to make us ready to exclaim, when and no intercession of hers could save him. Tliat some question is to be settled by an appeal to is my recollection, but I have a faint doubt “human nature," - Yes, it is all very well to whether the poor fellow may not bave bad his appeal--but what is human nature ?"








poor pilgrim to trudge it out as best he might in weary solitude. In after years of travel, I have

often encountered bardships which were barely THREE nights and two days of unspeakable sufferable, but the sufferings of this night would misery; on the evening of the third the Isadora not admit of the slightest comparison. came to an anchor, and the captain, pointing to a Fancy yourself more than ankle deep in parlong narrow range of what looked like bushes in boiled gravelly sand, with nothing better than a the distance, informed us that that was Massuli- pair of thin pumps and light socks to protect patam. He might as well have called it Hong your sect; imagine, that at every dozen steps you Kong or Greenland, or anytbing else, for all that came unexpectedly on some brambles, or worse still, we could see that bore the slightest semblance to a pitfall dug out by hungry jackalls, the night land, much less to a large and populous town; pitch dark, and no deçided pathway to indicate and a good three hours' row, in an open boat, was whether you were pursuing the right road, or a treat in perspective to one of the ladies who walking back again, or performing an indefiuite landed here; the other two were to proceed number of circles on a horrible desolation, where with the vessel to Vezogapatam. The captain the stillness of deathe reigned around, only interlanded us in his own boat, and though the Lascars rupted by the melancholy bowl of troops of raren. pulled manfully and well, they were thoroughly ous jackalls, or the equally dismal screech of the exhausted before the boat moored alongside a very hoot owl: give yourself two hours of this kind of ricketty old pier, close beneath the fort gates; and work, even though it be only in imagination, and by the time we planted foot upon terra firma, then, perchance, you may form the ghost of a vight had set in, and the whole was enveloped in conception of the reality of my sufferings, both darkness. The fort gates were shut, but by bodily and mental, on that hideous occasion. walking round under the ramparts, we were told As a natural result, I very soon irrecoverably

I that we might reach the town, some three miles lost both shoes and stockings; as an equally distant inland, over a perfect ocean of loose hot natural sequel, my feet were lacerated and blissand. The captain remained, and slept in his tered, to say nothing to some half-score thorns boat, taking charge of our luggage till the morning. which had penetra ed from a vile prickly pear As for poor Mrs. G. and myself, we had no alter- leaf, that I had inadvertently trod upon. In native but to walk with the very faint prospect addition to all this, I was parched with thirst, and before us, at such a late lour, of meeting with hungry, and saint. To sit down and give in the any kind of conveyance. Even a donkey would battle, was only to accept of a fearful alternative, have proved a windfall. With stout hearts, how - for so sure as I fell asleep, so surely would I bave ever, we set forth upon our weary pilgrimage, and been devoured by the jackalls that kept prowling we had barely rounded the fort walls, and entered about me. So I shouted and sang manfully, and upon a vast tract of sand, when, by good fortune, putting every nerve to the test, waded on through we encountered Mrs. G.'s husband, on horseback, that sea of desolation and sand, till at last, thank followed by an empty palanquin, into which Mrs. heavens, a sometbing dark on the horizon indiG., nothing loaih, stepped, and the bappy couple cated my approach to vegetatiou of some descripe proceeded bomewards at a rapid pace, leaving the ' tion. The first living soul I encountered was a

[blocks in formation]

sepoy of the 47th regiment, who was so much absorbing work of travels, with both feet resting astonished at this sudden encounter, that it re- comfortably upon the soft cushion of another chair, quired time and explanation before I couid glean the punkali at work over head, the pleasant sound any information as to my whereabouts. Once in of water trickling over the tallies, the delicious possession of the facts, bowever, this Samaritan odour of the cuscuss, and the delightful freshness (unlike his Bengalese brethren of the present day) of the air, that changed its nature, as it were, in at once conducted me to my friends' house, where : penetrating through the damp grass—these were I arrived, footsore and weary, soon after mid unspeakable luxuries during the prevalence of the

. night.

fearfully hot and unhealthy land winds. Moreover, The family had long since retired to rest; not additional zest was derivable from the small tablo so, however, the faithful old butler, who had long standing by one's elbow, whereon were ranged and anxiously been especting my arrival ; for it glasses and decanters, well cooled in salt petre, had been known that the vessel was in the offing. covered over with damp cloths; sundry plates of A bottle of well iced Hodgson's ale, a capital cold fruit and spice nuts, a box of mild Manillas, and a supper, a foot bath, and a night cap of undeniable few books and papers ranged conveniently, so that punch, soon set matters to rights, and I snored no bodily exertion was requisite to reach anything peacefully beneath linen sheets long before the required. This was all very fine and comfortable hour hand pointed to 2 a.m.

for the indolent (and this latter class included It was late next morning before I woke to a almost all the military and the ladies), but the consciousness of my whereabouts; my friends, poor civilians had hot work of it. Compelled as acquainted with my over-night's disasters, had they were to attend courts and cutcherries, refrained from disturbing my slumbers, and mean. crowded to excess by native oflicials and prisoners while all my traps had been fetched up from the - to say nothing of the exposure en route to and sea side, and were ranged in apple-pie order in from these offices, to the fiery blasts of this Indian the room allotted for my accommodation.

khamseen ; and despite all the precautions of Pleasant and airy was the house occupied by tallies, blinds, punkals, etc., they were literally my guardian, surrounded by a vast compound, im- nearly stewed alive, and returned homeward of

, pregnably hedged in with the prickly pear; it an evening completely worn out, and fagged by the boasted of many stately trees, principally tama day's work. rinds, and it gave fair promise of many a day's Then there care the evening ride or drive, pleasant sport, as flocks of wild ducks resorted and twice a-week the bands of the two native induring the monsoon to a large tank at the further fantry regiments (the 29th and 47th) played, pro extremity of the compound, and partridges, quails, bono publico, on the parade ground. Thither lanand wild pigeons were abundant at all seasons of guid and sickly looking ladies and children resorted,

although the glare and heat of the day still conBut to counterbalance all this, the heat was so tinued intense, and the refraction from the hot sand fearfully intense for nine months in the year, that almost insufferable; notwithstanding these drawnone but a lunatic would have ventured out in it backs, all the European community managed to as. for the sake of sport. An hour or two after day semble here, saving only such uufortunates as break, and the same in the evening, was all the chanced to be on the sick list. As darkness set opportunity afforded for sport ; nevertheless, in this in, heavy dews commenced falling, and the lot brief space, we sometimes contrived to bag a wind subsided for awbile. Sometimes a faint sea Loriken, one of the finest and most sensible birds breeze favoured us with its welcome and refresha sportsman could wish to bag-fine as regards ing breath ; but oftener there was a perfect void flavour, sensible as regards size ; but they were of all air, and then the unlucky Massulipatamites terribly shy, and diflicult to get at. Many a might safely reckon upon a sleepless nighit, a tossweary mile have I crawled along the sand, and ing, suffocating, flea bitten, mosquito-mad driven after all, perhaps, lost the chance of getting within night, with the blood at fever heat, and eyeballs

fiery, and starting out of our aching heads. But to return to the climate. Sierra Leone, I Seven, p.m., was the usual dinner hour, and should imagine, can be the only rival to Massuli- previous to dinner being served, the family and patam. Guarded as our house was from heat by assembled guests usually sat out in the front veall the contrivances that civilisation had introduced randab, which was entirely in the dark; this prcinto India, such as lofty rooms, cool chunam or caution was indispensable, especially in tlie months lime, cuscuss blinds to doors and rooms-still of September and October, when the influx of inwould the hot wind penetrate like the blast from sects, whose size, classification, and numbers were a furnace, till you felt yourself shrivel up like a veritably legion, was equivalent almost to all the berring under the process of being smoke dried. plagues of Egypt. No sooner was dinner auSo long as the cuscuss tallies were kept well nounced, and candles placed on the table, ihan the saturated with water, the atmosphere indoors was snowy white table-cloth was literally darkeved by delightful. Seated in luxurious Indian undress swarms of invaders. With all despatch and every (wbich with us consisted of shirt, drawers, and precaution, rarely was soup discussed without a nothing else), newspaper in hand, or else some green bug or two flying into savoury soup plate',

the year.

shot range.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

and forthwith rendering it unpalatable beyond de

And the fishes, beginning to sweat, scription. Cockroaches and grasshoppers, beetles

Cried, “ Hang it, how hot we shall be !" of many sizes and descriptions, flies, gnats, mos- so I, in the moment of inspiration, had composed : quitoes, white ants, and other insects innumerable

O’er the still earth not e'en one zephyr's sigh invaded every dish and every wine-glass. No

Wakes up a symphony midst palm trees high : sooner was the brimming tumbler of well cooled Hodgson's ale raised to the lips, than half a score

when a green bug flew slap into my eye. Yesof these loathesome creatures fell struggling with I caught him, and sentenced him to be blown away the froth. Now and then, some larger grasshopper with gunpowder. The speedier to accomplish this flew with startling force right against your eye, or

I ransacked my cupboard in search of empty pow. got entangled in the hair, whilst bats kept whirl der canisters, and finding one that I thought pretty ing round and round in unpleasant proximity to our nigh empty, or at least containing only a sufficiency heads. All our remedies, saving utter darkness, to blow mine enemy to atoms, I threw the abowere of no avail

, and the heat was so intense as to minable insect in, and after it my lighted cigar! preclude the possibility of dining with closed

The next moment, and there ensued an explo. doors. As a mere matter of form, and an indis. sion that, of a truth, shook the house to its foun

dations. pensable necessity, dinner was discussed as speedily

After a few seconds of stupefaction, I as possible, and, only too glad to be rid of these found myself sprawling upon the floor, with a torments, we hurried back again to the darkness of

severe wound in the forehead, from which the the front verandah ; there, in the obscurity, to blood was flowing freely; amongst other things the discuss the dessert and wines, and hold conversa

candle bad been knocked over and shivered to tion sweet-such as any local events, or the latest pieces, so that I had to grope my way as best I news from the Presidency, offered as a topic. But could to the door in the dark, and, unfastening it, it was only during the two months above mentioned admit the frightened inmates of the house, who that we were subjected to this plague of insects; had rushed in this direction, guided by the explowhen the monsoons fairly set in, and the heavy sion, to learn the nature and results of this mishap. rains pattered against window and roof, then, mal

Ladies and gentlemen, children and servants, male gré damp and miasma, we contrived sometimes to

and female, there they stood a company of half make ourselves snug and comfortable in-doors, sleepy, thoroughly alarmed people, vaguely specuand oftentimes turred the more congenial atmo-lating upon the causes of felo de se.

Nor were sphere of night into day.

their suspicious one whit shaken when I presented I remember one night, soon after our arrival at myself before them, with a face blackened by powMassulipatam, and when I had been more than aer, and garments literally sopping in blood." A usually annoyed by the visitation of mosquitoes the whole extent of damage; which, under the

basin of cold water and a sponge soon revealed and iusects

, that I took a very foolish revenge, the the whole extent of damage'; which, under the results of which had very nearly proved fatal to circumstances, was trifling; a glass of sherry and myself, if not to the whole household. Vainly

water sufficiently recovered me to enable me to rehad I endeavoured to court sleep; notwithstanding late my adventure. I need hardly say that, at mosquito gauze and wide spread windows, through concluding it, instead of eliciting sympathy, I bethe former penetrated my tormentors, whilst

came the unfortunate object of universal indignathrough the latter not even a breath of air strayed

tion. Even the very servants gave way to marto cool my fevered frame. Ultimately, out of murings. Next morning, the canister, or rather sheer despair, I got up and lit a cigar, and lolling shattered portions of it were picked up in the out of the window, contemplated the serene beauty garden under my window ; had one of these struck of that intensely calm, but suffocating moonlight

me in the forehead, I must have closed my career night. The scene was certainly beautiful; not a

on the spot. The same invisible shadow of mercy breath stirred even the topmost branches of the

--yet visible, too, when I call things to mindstateliest cocoa-nut trees; the grotesque and varied

was then, as it has often since been, my shield shadows upon earth, the clear and cloudless sky,

and protection. and the intense stillness of the hour inspired me

I had another narrow escape of my life at Mas. with a momentary gift of poetry; I was on the sulipatam. One day when I had strayed, towards very point of committing to paper, perhaps for dusk, to the further extremity of our compound, imperishable fame, some magnificent stanzas, dic where brushwood and prickly pear grew in impenetated by the picture before me, when, alas ! an in- trable copses, I suddenly came upon a wolfterruption came in a most unwelcome form. Like rather a rare brute to encounter in these parts, the student of old, who had perpetrated the two

but which, nevertheless, had somehow or other first lines of some famous poem in embryo, aud

taken bis quarters hereabouts. Uncertain as had written

to his ravenous intentions, or to the number of

his family, I candidly confess that I gave what is
The sun's perpendicular height
Illumined the depths of the sea,

vulgarly termed leg-bail

, nor did I pause for å

second until I reached the house, and communi. when being suddenly called away, a friend finished cated the tidings to two or three young officers it off for him with

who had been dining with us that day. We im

[ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »