페이지 이미지

head was turned another way. We poured six comfits into his palm. Still he did not look, but would not cat them, and was restless till we gave him one more. Next day, wo gave him nine; and he would not touch them till he had thrust back two upon us.

In all matters of number, quantity, order, and punctuality, Harry must be humored. It is a harmless peculiarity, and there will be no peace if he is crossed. If he insists upon laying his little brother's tricks only in rows, or only in diamonds or squares, he must be coaxed into another room, unless the little brother be capable of the self-denial of giving up the .point and taking to some other play. It is often a hard matter enough for tho parents to do justice among the little ones: but we can testify, because we have seen, what wonders of magnanimity may be wrought among little children, servants, and every body, by fine sense, and sweet and cheerful patience on the part of the governing powers of the household. They may have sudden occasion for patience on their own account too Perhaps the father comes home very tired, needing his coffee. His coffee is made and ready. So they think: but lo! poor Harry, who has an irresistible propensity to pour into each other all things that can be poured, has tumed the coffee into tho brine that the hams have just come out of; and then tho brine and the coffee and the cream all back again into the coffee-pot, and so on. Such things, happening every day, make a vast difference in the ease, cheerfulness and economy of a household. They are, in truth, a most serious and unintcrmitting trial. They make the discipline of the household: and they indicate what must be the blessing of such institutions for tho care and training of idiots as were celebrated in the paper we have referred to.

As for the discipline of Harry himself, it must be discipline; for every consideration of humanity, and, of course, of parental affection, points out the sin of spoiling him. To humor, in the sense of spoiling, an idiot, is to level him with the brutes at once. One might as well do with him what used to be done with such beings— consign him to the sty, to sleep with the pigs, or chain him up like the dog—as indulge the animal part of a being who does not possess the faculties that counteract animality in other people. Most idiots havo a remarkable tendency to imitation: and this is an admirable, means of domestic training—for both the defective child and the rest. The youngest will smother its sobs at the soap in its eye, if appealed to, to let poor Harry seo how cheerfully every body ought to be washed every morning. The youngest will take the hint not to ask for more pudding, because Harry must take what is given him, and not see any body cry for more. Crying is conquered—self-conquered—throughout the house, because Harry imitates every thing; and it would be very sad if ho got a habit of crying, because he could not be comforted like other people. As tho other children learn self-con

quest from motive, in this way Harry will be learning it from imitation. He will insist upon being properly washed and combed, and upon having no more than his plateful—or his two platesful—at dinner: and so on. The difficult thing to manage at home is the occupation : and this is where lies the great superiority of schools or asylums for his class. His father may perhaps get him taught basket-making, or spinning with a wheel, or cabinet-making, in a purely mechanical way; but this is less easily done at home than in a school. Done it must be, in ths one place or the other, if the sufferer and his companions in life aro to have any justice, and any domestic leisure and comfort. The strong faculty of imitation usually existing among the class, seems (as we said just now, in reference to the faculties of idiots in general) a sort of miracle before the nature of the brain-organization was truly conceived of. How many elderly people now remember how aghast they were, as children, at the story of the idiot youth, not being able to do without the mother, who had never left him while she lived: and how, when every body supposed him asleep, and the neighbors were themselves asleep, he went out and got tho body, and set it up in the fireside chair, and made a roaring fire, and heated some broth, and was found, restlessly moaning with distress, while trying to feed the corpse. And that other story—a counterpart to which we know of our own knowledge—of the idiot boy who had lived close under a church steeple, and had always struck the hours with the clock; and who, when removed into the country, far away from church, clock, and watch, still went on striking the hours, and quite correctly, without any visible means of knowing tho time. What could we, in childhood, and the rest of the world, in the ignorance of that day, make of such facts, but that they must be miraculous! The most mas velous, to our mind, is a trait which, again, we know of our own knowledge. An idiot, who died many years ago at the age of thirty, lost his mother when' he was under two years old. His idiocy had been obvious from the earliest time that it could bo manifested; and when the eldest sister took the mother's place, the child appeared to find no difference. From the mode of feeling of the family, the mother was never spoken of; and if she had been, such mention would have been nothing to the idiot son, who comprehended no conversation. He spent his life in scribbling on the slate, and hopping round tho play-ground of the school kept by his brother-in-law, singing after his own fashion. He had one special piece of business besides, and one prodigious pleasure. The business waj —going daily, after breakfast, to speak to the birds in tho wood behind the house; and the supreme pleasure was turning tho mangle. Most of ns would havo reversed the business and pleasure. When his last illness—consumption —came upon him at the age of thirty, tho sister had been long dead; and there were none of hjs own family, we believe, living; certainly none had for many years had any intercourse with him. For some days before his death, when he ought to have been in bed, nothing but a too distressing force could keep him from going to the birds. On the last day, when his weakness was extreme, he tried to rise, managed to sit up in bed, and said he must go—the birds would wonder so! The brother-in-law offered to go and explain to the birds; and this must perforce do. The dying man lay, with his eyes closed, and breathing his life away in slower and slower gasps, when he suddenly turned his head, looked bright and sensible, and exclaimed in a tone never heard from him before, "Oh! my mother! how beautiful 1" and sank round again—dead.

There arc not a few instances of that action of the brain at the moment before death by which long-buried impressions rise again like ghosts or visions; but we have known none so striking as this, from the lapse of time, the peculiarity of the case, and the unquestionable blank between.

There are flashes of faculty now and then in the midst of the twilight of idiot existence— without waiting for the moment of death. One such, to the last degree impressive, is recorded by the late Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, in his account of the great Morayshire floods, about a quarter of a century since. An innkeeper, who, after a merry evening of dancing, turned out to help his neighbors in the rising of the Spey, carelessly got upon some planks which were floated apart, and was carried down the stream on one. He was driven against a tree, which he climbed, and his wife and neighbors saw him lodged in it before dark. As the floods rose, there began to be fears for the tree; and the shrill wliistle which came from it, showed that the man felt himself in danger, and wanted help. Every body concluded help to be out of the question, as no boats could get near; and they could only preach patience until morning, to the poor wife, or until the flood should go down. Hour after hour the whistle grew wilder and shriller; and at last it was almost continuous. It suddenly ceased; and those who could hardly bear it before, longed to hear it again. Dawn showed that the tree was down. The body of the innkeeper was found far away—with the watch in his fob stopped at the hour that the tree must have fallen. The event being talked over in the presenco of the village idiot, he laughed. Being noticed, he said he would have saved the man. Being humored, he showed how a tub fastened to a long rope would have been floated, as the plank with the man on it was floated, to the tree. If this poor creature had but spoken in time, his apparent inspiration would have gone some way to confirm the Scotch superstition, which holds—with that of the universal ancient world of theology—that "Innocents are favorites of Heaven."

It is for us to act upon the medium view sanctioned alike by science and morals—neither to cast out our idiots, like the savages who leave their helpless ones to perish; nor to worship them, as the pious Egyptians did, and other

nations who believed that the gods dwelt in them, more or less, and made oracles of them— a perfectly natural belief in the case of beings who manifest a very few faculties in extraordinary perfection, in the apparent absence of all others. Our business is, in the first place, to reduce the number of idiots to the utmost of our power, by attending to the conditions of sound life and health, and especially by discountenancing, as a crime, the marriage of blood relations; and, in the next place, by trying to make the most and the best of such faculties as these imperfect beings possess. It is not enough to repeat the celebrated epitaph on an idiot, and to hope that his privations here will be made up to him hereafter. We must lesson those privations to the utmost, by the careful application of science in understanding his case; and of skill, and inexhaustible patience and love, in treating it. Happily, there are now institutions, by aiding which any of us may do something toward raising the lowest, and blessing the most alluded, members of our race.


HE was the brother of a saint, and his friends were rich; so they dressed him in his best, and they put his turban on his head (for he was of the old school), and they bore him to the tomb upon a bier, and coffinless, after the custom of the East. I joined the procession as it swept chanting along the narrow street; and we all entered the illuminated church together.

The Archbishop strode solemnly up the aisle, with the priests swinging censers before him, and with the ordor of sanctity exhaling from his splendid robes. On went the procession, making its way through a stand-up fight which was taking place in the church, on through weeping relatives, and sobered friends, till at last the Archbishop was seated on his throne, and the dead man lay before him stiff and stark. Then the same unctuous individual whom I fancy I have observed taking a part in religious ceremonies all over the world, being yet neither priest nor deacon, bustles up, and he places some savory herbs on the breast of the corpse, chanting lustily as he dtes so to save time.

Then the Archbishop takes two waxen tapers in each hand; they are crossed and set in a splendid hand-candlestick. He extends it toward the crowd, and seems to bless it mutely, for he does not speak. There is silence, only disturbed by a short sob which has broken from the overburdened heart of the dead man's son. Hush' it is the Archbishop giving out a psalm, and now it begins lowly, solemnly, mournfully: at first, the lusty lungs of the burly priests seem to be chanting a dirge; all at once they are joined by the glad voices of children—oh! so clear and so pure, sounding sweet and far-off, rejoicing for the bliss of the departed soul.

They cease, and there comes a priest dressed in black robes; he prostrates himself before the throne of the Archbishop, and carries the dust of the prelate's feet to his forehead. Then he kisses the Archbishop's hand, and mounts the pulpit to deliver a funeral oration. I am sorry for this; he is evidently a beginner, and twice he breaks down, and gasps hopelessly at the congregation; but the Archbishop prompts him and gets him out of this difficulty. A rascally young Greek at my elbow nudges me to laugh, but I pay no attention to him.


Then the priests begin to swing their censors again, and their deep voices mingle chanting with the fresh song of the children, and again toe Archbishop blesses the crowd. So now the relatives of the dead man approach him one by one, crossing themselves devoutly. -They take the nosegay of savory herbs from his breast, and they press it to their lips. Then they kiss the dead man's forehead. When the son approaches, he sobs convulsively, and has afterward to be removed by gentle force from the body.

So the relatives continue kissing the body, fearless of contagion, and the chant of the priests and choristers swells through the church, and there lies the dead man, with the sickly glare of the lamps struggling with the daylight, and fallingwith a ghastly gleam upon his upturned face. Twice I thought he moved, but it was only fancy.

The Archbishop has left the church, and the relatives of the dead man are bearing him to his last home without further ceremony. It is a narrow vault just outside the church, and the Greeks courteously make way for me—a stranger. A man jumps briskly into the grave; it is scarcely three feet deep; he arranges a pillow for the head of the corpse, then he springs out again, laughing at his own agility. The crowd laugh too. Joy and grief elbow each other every where in life: why not also at the gates of the tomb 1

Then two stout men sejze the corpse in their stalwart arms, and they lift it from the bier. They are lowering it now, quite dressed, but comnless, into the vault. They brush me as they do so, and the daylight falls full on the face of the dead. It is very peaceful and composed, but looking tired, weary of the world; relieved that the journey is over!

Stay! for here comes a priest walking slowly from the church, with his mass-book and censer. He says a few more prayers over the body, and one of the deceased's kindred drops a stone into the grave. While the priest prays, he pours some consecrated oil upon the body, and some more upon a spadeful of earth which is brought to him. This is also thrown into the grave. It is not filled up; a stone is merely fastened with eUy roughly over the aperture, and at night there will be a lamp placed there, which will be replenished every night for a year. At the end of that time the body will be disinterred; if the bones have not been thoroughly rotted away from the flesh and separated, the Archbishop will be called spin to pray over the body; for there is a superstition among Greeks, that a man whose body does not decay within a year is accursed. When the bones have divided, they will be collected and tied up in a linen bag, which will hang on a nail

against the church wall. By-and-by> this will decay, and the bones which have swung about in the wind and rain will be shaken out one by one to make daylight ghastly where they lie. Years hence they may be swept into the charnel-house, or they may not, as chance directs.

I have said that he was the brother of a saint. It is well, therefore, that I should also say something of the saint himself. The saint was St. Theodore, one of the most recent martyrs of the Greek Church. St. Theodore was bom about fifty years ago, of very humble parents, who lived at the village of Neo Chori, near Constantinople. He was brought up to the trade of a house-painter, an art of some pretension in Turkey, where it is often carried to very great perfection. The lad was clever, and soon attained such excellence in his craft that he was employed at the Palace of the Sultan. The splendor of the palace, and of the gorgeous dresses of some of the Sultan's servants, fired his imagination. He desired to remain among them; so he changed his faith for that of Islam, and was immediately appointed to a petty post about the palace.

Three years after his apostasy and circumeision a great plague broke out at Constantinople, sweeping away the Sultan's subjects by hundreds, with short warning. The future saint grew alarmed, a species of religious mania seized upon him. He tried to escape from the palace, but was brought back. At last, he got away, in the disguise of a water-carrier, and fled to the island of Scio.

Here he made the acquaintance of a priest, to whom he confided his intention of becoming a martyr. The priest is said warmly to have commended this view of the case; for martyrs had been lately growing scarce. Instead of conveying the young man, therefore, to a lunatic asylum, he took him to the neighboring island of Mitylene; seeing, doubtless, sufficient reasons why the martyrdom should not take place at Scio; where he might have been exposed to awkward remonstrances from his friends, for countenancing such a horror.

So tho priest accompanied him to Mitylene, where the first act of the tragedy commenced by the martyr presenting himself before the Cadi or Turkish Judge. Before the Cadi he began to curse the Mussulman faith, and threw his turban at that magistrate's head. Taking from his bosom a green handkerchief, with which he had been provided, he trampled it under foot; and green is a sacred color with the Turks. The Cadi was desirous of getting rid of him quietly, considering him as mad, as doubtless ho was. But he continued cursing tho Turks so bitterly, that at last an angry mob of fanaties bore him away to the Pasha. This functionary, a quiet, amiable man, tried also to get out of the disagreeable affair; but the young man raved so violently that the Turks around began to beat him; and he was put into a sort of stocks till he should be quiet. At last the Turks lost patience with him, and his martyrdom began in earnest. He was subjected (say the Greek chronicles from which this history was taken) to the cruel torture of having hot earthen plates bound to his temples, and his neck was then twisted by fanatic men till his eyes started from their sockets; they also drew several of his teeth. He now said that he had returned to the Greek faith in consequence of the advice of an Englishman; which so appeased the Turks, that they offered him a pipe, and wanted to dismiss him. But he soon broke out again, and asked for the sacrament. He also asked for some soup. Both were given to him, the Turks oflcring no opposition to the administering of the former. When, however, ho once more began to curse and revile the prophet, some fanatic proposed that he should be shortened by having an inch cut from his body every time he blasphemed, beginning at his feet. The Cadi shuddered, and interposed, saying, that such a proceeding would be contrary to the law; which provided that a renegade should be at once put to death, that the faith of Islam might not be insulted. Then the mob got a cord to hang him. Like many other things in Turkey, this cord docs not seem to have been fit for the purpose to which it was applied; and the struggles of the maniac were so violent that it broke. But they did hang him at last; thus completing the title to martyrdom with which he has come down to us. For three days his hanging body offended the daylight, and the simple country folk cut off bits of his clothes for relies. After a while he was carried away and buried with a great fuss; the Turks having too profound a contempt for the Greeks to interfere with their doings in any way. Then, after a while, application was made to the Patriarch of Constantinople to canonize the mad housepainter; and canonized he was. His body was disinterred, and mummified with great care. It is wrapped up in cotton, and the head is inclosed in a silver case. Both are shown to the devout on the anniversary of his martyrdom. The cotton sells well, for it is said to have worked many miracles, and to be especially beneficial in cases of epilepsy.

The anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. Theodore occurred on the same day as his brother's funeral. I asked if the reputation of the saint had any thing to do with the honors paid to his brother? "Yes," was the answer; "the relatives of the saint are naturally anxious to keep up his reputation, which is like a patent of nobility to them. None dare to offer them injury or wrong, for fear of the martyr's anger."

For the rest, the festival of St. Theodore was as pretty a sight as I would wish to see.

His body was enshrined in a neat temple of green leaves, and was placed in the centre of the church. The pilgrims arrived at dead of night to pray there. They were mostly women, and seemed earnest enough in what they were about. I did not like to see them, however, buying those little bits of cotton which lay mouldering round the mummy, and putting them into their bosoms.

Tho church was well lighted; for Mitylenc is an oil country. Innumerable lamps hung suspended from the roof every where, and some

were decorated with very pretty transparencies. If you shut your eye for a minute, they seemed to open on fairy land rathor than reality. The hushed scene, the stillness of which was only broken by the pattering feet of some religious maiden approaching the shrine, shawled and mysterious, even here, had something very quaint and fanciful in it. I could have stopped there all night watching them as they passed, dropping buttons (substitutes for small coin given in churches) into the salver of a dingy priest, who sat in the aisle, tablet in hand, to receive orders for masses to be said for the sick or the dead. I liked to watch the business manner in which he raised his reverend hand to get the light well upon his tablet, and adjusted his spectacles as he inscribed each new order from the pilgrims. At last, however, he gathered up his buttons and money, tying them in a bag; and glancing round once more in vain for customers, he went his way into the sacristy. I followed his waddling figure with my eyes till the last lock of his long hair, which caught in the brocaded curtain, had been disentangled, and he disappeared. Then, as the active individual in rusty black, whom I have mentioned as so busy in the ceremony of the morning, seemed desirous of having a few minutes' conversation with me, I indulged him. It was not difficult to perceive, from the tenor of his discourse, that he was desirous of receiving some token of my esteem in small change. It cost little to gratify him; and then, as the church was quite deserted, we marched off together.


SOME twelve years ago, a desolate, dread, and ominously-named locality in Newfoundland had, among its other occupants, George Harvey, a worthy of sixty years' standing, bom and bred on the spot, who may still be one of its living tenants, as he was then a hale and hearty man. The particular site to which we refer is toward the south-west extremity, between the settlement of La Poile and Cape Ray, where there is a cluster of small, low, rocky islets, separated from the main land by a narrow channel. They are called the Dead Islands, llct aux Morti of the French maps, but arc portions of the dominions of Queen Victoria. The isles and the main shore n re composed of mica-slate and gneiss, the latter being intersected with enormous granite veins. Their superficial aspect is the most rugged and broken imaginable, grooved in every direction by small valleys or ravines, and covered with round hummocky knobs and hills with precipitous sides. Mosses, low bushes, and berry-bearing plants partially cover the surface; and a few dwarf firs appear huddled together in sheltered nooks, where sufficient soil has been lodged to form a support for the roots. But the majority of the isles are bare rocks, frequently in the shape of a low dome, with a tuft of bushes growing at the summit. Sometimes, when the breeze is blowing from the east, the fog which pours over the great bank is driven to this neighborhood, and adds to its uninviting aspect. The few inhabitants, along with those thinly distributed on the adjoining main, are chiefly the descendants of British settlers, occupied with the inshore fishery. They are located in the coves, in the general proportion of two or three families to each.

Formerly, when there were no clergy or magistrates except at St. John's, they married by signing papers before witnesses, binding each party to have the ceremony performed as soon as opportunity offered—a mode of proceeding equivalent to the Scotch law. They arc simple, honest, industrious', and hospitable-—the virtues of almost all hardy races exposed to the toils and dangers of an adventurous life—intensely eager after news, and placing a high value upon triffing articles of intelligence, like most people in secluded positions.

The melancholy name of the Dead Islands is supposed to be derived from the number and fatality of shipwrecks in the neighborhood. George Harvey was accustomed to relate, among other incidents of his life, that he had been employed for five days, along with some others, in digging graves and interring dead bodies cast ashore on one of these sad occasions. Two vast and differently tempered sea-streams blend their waters on the great bank and its vicinity—a polar current from the cold regions of the arctic zone, and the gulf-stream from the warm latitudes of the tropies. It is to the meeting of these currents, charged with such different temperatures, that the fogs are chiefly due, while the numerous and powerful eddies caused by their junction render the navigation perplexing and somewhat perilous. The danger is increased by the boundaries of the currents being indefinite. They advance further north and south at one time than another; and of course the minor streams dependent upon them vary in power and extent, according to circumstances. Hence, along a coast unguarded by lighthouses, in dense fogs, or when a driving gale has been blowing by night, the mariner has often found himself ashore, while thinking of ample sea-room. Evidence of such casualties being frequent was in former days to be found in connection with almost every dwelling, in the shape of old rigging, spars, masts, sails, ships' bells, rudders, wheels, and other articles on the outside of the houses, with telescopes, compasses, and portions of incongruous furniture in the interior. At that period, there was obviously no nice observance of the distinction between thine and mine. Infractions of the rights of property were common on the occurrence of disasters by sea and fires on land, the parties loosely reasoning that the goods they appropriated to themselves were much better disposed of than by being left for the flames to consume or the billows to devour. In some cases, this reasoning was legitimate, as when a vessel, deserted by the crew, came ashore, and neither her name nor that of the owners could be ascertained. Public sentiment and feeling have improved upon this point in Newfoundland, as elsewhere, and few persons have more nobly distinguished themselves in helping the stranger in

distress, and mitigating the calamities of shipwreck, than George Harvey.

He had a large family of sons and daughters, mostly grown up. On one occasion, during a heavy gale, the brig " Dispatch," full of emigrants of the poorer class, struck on a rock about three miles from his house. Though the sea was running high, the old man put off in his punt to the rescue, accompanied by a gallant girl of seventeen and a brave lad of twelve. By dint of great exertions, they succeeded in successively bringing away the whole of the crew and passengers, amounting to one hundred and sixty-three persons. This was as heroic an action as that which excited such general admiration in England, when Grace Darling adventured on the stormy deep, with her father, off the coast of Northumberland. Harvey hospitably entertained the shipwrecked emigrants according to his means, and shared his provisions with them, till tidings could be sent to La Poile, and a vessel arrived to carry them away. They remained more than a fortnight, and so completely exhausted his stores, that the family had neither bread, flour, nortea through the whole winter, but subsisted chiefly on salt fish. Sir T. Cochrane, then governor of the island, on hearing of his conduct, properly rewarded him with a hundred pounds, and an honorary medal. A few years afterward, the ship "Rankin," of Glasgow, struck on a rock, and went to pieces, the crew hanging on to an iron bar or rail that went round the poop, when he fetched them off by six or eight at a time to the number of twenty-fivo, braving a heavy sea in his punt.

Harvey's knowledge of the animal kingdom was somewhat singular. He was intimately acquainted with the inhabitants of the waters, from the huge finned whale to the beautiful little capelin. He knew well enough the black bear, gray wolf, and splendid caribou ; and was familiar with the osprcy, ptarmigan, eider duck, and great northern diver. But frogs, toads, snakes, and other reptiles he had never seen, there being none in the island, though no legend is current there how St. Patrick "banished all the varmint." One of the commonest domesticated quadrupeds also in the empire was equally unknown, except by report, till on a visit to some settlement in Fortune Bay, he for the first time encountered a horse! His emotions at the sight were akin to those of the Mexicans on beholding the steeds of the Spanish invaders. The people wished, he said, to persuade him into mounting on its back, but "he knew better than that," though one fellow did ride it up and down several times. It was a feat too daring for the bold fisherman, who would sooner have mounted in his boat the stormiest billow that ever rolled. His description of the size and appearance of the wonderful creature highly interested his family on his return. Mr. Curzon has recently told the story of a Levantine monk who had never seen a woman—a relation strange, but true. Yet, had we not the fact on equally respectable authority—that of Mr. Jukes —it would seem incredible, that only a few years ago, there were subjects of Queen Victoria, of

« 이전계속 »