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man-worship on both sides. The highest of Democratic ascendency, against the wild public interests were subordinate considera- spirit and radical tendencies of Democracy. tions, and the support of a favorite chieftain Its domestic peace has been twice seriously became the primary object in the political threatened in consequence; and the governstruggles which followed. It will be allowed ment owes its rescue, on both occasions, by all, we think, that this state of things mainly to the conservative influence of the was most inauspicious to a regular and con- Whig party. The commercial and mercanstitutional operation of the government, and tile interests of the country were visited with to a wise and stable policy in any branch of a blow that had well nigh disabled them for public interest or economy. True it is that ever. Their resuscitation has been brought the nation has prospered in every branch of about by a resort to Whig measures. In industry, and our territorial limits have been fact, the Whigs have been routed and overvastly increased within the last twenty years, thrown only because the Democrats have though we doubt whether this last will event- adopted and acted on their principles, while uate in good or evil to the public interests. repudiating their name. The only Whig For nearly the whole period intervening measure which has gone down entirely besince Jackson's election, the Democratic party neath Democratic furor, is that of a national has held the reins of government, and par- bank. That is obsolete and dead, beyond tiality or ignorance of political history might recovery or resurrection. On the other hand, beget an inference in favor of Democratic the two cardinal principles of the Whig policy, at first sight, in view of the increased party have been permanently impressed on national importance during its sway. Noth- the country by Democratic men : viz., those ing, however, could be more fallacious. No of protection to national industry, and a government ever withstood such violent as- moderate system of internal improvements. saults on its integrity and strength as this government has withstood, during the period! Longwood, Miss.
J. B. O.
A VISION OF LIES.
In former years, when reading was a pas- lethean sentences, I lost reckoning of myself, sion with me, it was my habit to frequent and sunk away, as it were, through a chasm old libraries, pulling out here and there rusty- into long-since-buried times. looking volumes, folios of outworn and for- The style of the Collectanea had a dull gotten learning, and, with a relish now in- vitality, a creeping warmth, like the air over credible to myself, dipping in and rambling a bed of poppies in the sun; a dream-pro among their wordy and futile paragraphs. voking obscurity, a rambling inquisitiveness Nothing, in those days, came amiss to me, sometimes a humor of the pipe-and-tankar were it Lomazzo's artistic rhapsodies, or the kind, involved with endless quotation, and interminable commentaries of Ficinus. I could logic like a tangled skein. then read Cardan, or Cornelius Agrippa, with The Collectanea included a number o enthusiasm, and after midnight hang sleep- treatises, whose odd and insignificant title less over the interminable rhapsodies of have escaped me. Politics, philosophy Burton. I sought out the rare, the anti- theology, alchemy, ethics, were here treated quated, the forgotten books, and tasted them without order or apparent purpose. A larg with a Saturnian epicurism, the very smack of space of one volume was a catalogue time.
imaginary works, hereafter to occupy th Among my vellum-suited companions, learned. Among these I remember two none solaced me more than Slawkenburgius, a Disquisition on Theft,” and another of in whose “Collectanea," a wilderness of “ Lying, or the Tradition of the False.”
I was reclining in an antique arm-chair, of great and little lies ; great, swinging, with Slawkenburg's fourth folio upon the robustious, abominable divergences; little, desk before me, in the great library at insignificant, useful, and even meritorious N- It was on a Sunday afternoon of falsehoods. I began to see them, advancing August, in vacation, and the stillness of the in troops, each with a sneaking apology university park was interrupted only by the behind, by way of footman; some, odd and rustling of the maples at the great window, droll; others, abominable in shape. The through which a gentle air brought the shadows of the leaves upon the floor enlarged delicious odor of grass and flowers. In into lies; they multiplied and spread themthe sunlight that trembled and played selves, until the library was filled with them. upon the floor, I saw the figure of a bird, They came out in scores from the leaves of swaying silently amid a crowd of tinted leaf- folios of divinity and law, and mustered thick shadows.
along the shelves of history. I confess it The room was of great size and height, shocked me to perceive several, of a very built after the Gothic fashion, with stained pale color, with fair excuses behind them, glass in the upper windows, diffusing golden creeping out of my favorite Plato; but as and brown lights with purple shades. It they came forward, I noticed an Italian look was to me a home and citadel of thought, a about them, which betrayed they were insacred retreat, where at intervals, for years, I truders there. had been accustomed to retire from the gall- The library was now crowded and swarming cares and irksome vanities of a scholar's ed upon by these creatures, like a great hive. life. Here at least there were no duns nor All at once the door opened without noise, tattlers, no critics of dress or manners, no and a venerable figure, clad in a scholar's pompous country parvenues, no scolding dress of three centuries ago, came forward, neighbors; it was a nook not merely monas- with slow steps, into the centre of the hall. tic, but liberal of sweet thoughts and great A broad and high forehead, without wrinaspirations. Here had my soul expanded kles, over which a few gray locks shed an air herself like a flower, under the gentle beams of reverence ; eyes at once cool and ecstatic, of that sun of Ilades, the intellect of Plato. and a face more stolid and meaningless than Here had I breathed the intoxicating breath marble, made me recognize my venerated of the Decameron, and with that gay queen Von Slawkenburg. His figure was slight Marguerite sported in the free life of the and low, with a decided stoop; but the look middle ages. No less had the venerable of autbority with which he reviewed the fathers charmed me. St. Augustine, the myriads of loyal creatures who awaited the seraph of the Church; fiery Abélard, its least sign of his command, reminded me of thorn and tormentor; I followed none, wor- an old monarch, coming to address his young shipped none, but mixed slightly and socially and brilliant army. with all. Like a lone chorister improvising As when some literary cockney, of worldthe keys of a great organ, I sounded care- wide notoriety and boundless impudence, lessly the diapason of theology, the shrill sets foot upon the pier at New-York, the stops of alchemy and logic, the bugle wail intelligent population of that great and of martial story, and the notes of warm learned city rush forward to prostrate themromance; with solemn fancies, or with gay, selves, and in dense crowds choke up the following the sounds I made.
grand avenue from Castle Garden even to To Slawkenburg I returned continually. the shadows of Union Square, so did these For the twentieth time his seven great folios loyal myriads attend the steps of my veneralay around me, the fourth upon the desk. ble master and guide. The great library I had paused upon the catalogue of imagin- seemed to lengthen itself, and the mottled ary books, in Dutch and Latin. “A Trea- and variegated ranks of fibs fell promptly tise of Theft;" “A Treatise of Great and into order, according to their stature and Little Lies," with illustrations from the complexion. experience of the author. Mendaciorum, First I saw lies of fashion, the Complimendaciunculorumque tractatus. I ima- ments and the Not-at-homes. These were gined the treatise itself, in all its Slawken- dressed like footmen or fine gentlemen, I burgian diffuseness ; rambling, note-full, could not tell which; they were the ushers pointless, and yet always lively and readable. I of the occasion, gay manikins, thin and blue, VOL. IX. NO. II, NEW SERIES.
with flat noses and spindle shanks, but fine alcoves, and clung along the ledges and and brisk in their new suits.
wainscotings; but all alike hollow, and of Then came Threats and Imprecations, that stuff whereof dreams were sometime volunteer companies, marching to a drum made. and fife. These were great and windy, with At a signal from an usher, all these myriads bellies made of soap-bubbles, which burst in of little hollow wretches uttered a shout like the sun; and so, some of them vanished. ten thousand thunders. The roar was truly
Next followed the Political Assurances, terrible, but not wonderful, for we know that Treaties, and Distinguished Considerations, hollow bodies are greatly more capable of numbered and recorded. These were the noise than solid ones ; and the bodies of all slyest fellows in nature, very long-bodied, lies are composed only of vacuity and humwith coats cut out of old parchment, shreds bug. of Magna Charta, the spectacles of scurvy After I had recovered from the momentary politicians on their noses, and their eyes in deafness that followed this tempest, I began their pockets.
to hear the grave and silvery voice of my Historical lies made a vast crowd of all venerable instructor and friend. He was hues and dimensions, of all shapes and pro- addressing the assembly of manikins after portions. I saw companies of these, very their stentorian salutation. His eyes met cold and acrid, drop down from the shelves mine with a sly twinkle, and gave me an of American history, and most of them had almost imperceptible salutation. cowardly faces, and seemed to stand in awe The miniature assembly were attentive, of a person called a Tory, whom I saw sitting and each one swelled visibly as they drank in an alcove of British history, with a sour in the words of the great master. “Of my look and a belly like a whale. These dirty more immediate subjects,” he said, addresslittle creatures elbowed their way out of ing a numerous body of stalwart falsehoods, school histories for the most part, and were who kept guard about him, like a company forward in the crowd.
of archers," these children of my brain, who Church lies were numerous, with the sprang from it while I lived—not one, (a poor countenance and insignia of martyrs; they exploit !) but scores at a time—these I comcrept out of the strangest places. But of all mend for their pertinacity in keeping places the wretched, pitiful, beggarly make-shifts, in the light of day (it is now) three centuries the Bankrupts' and Bad Debtors' bore the after my decease. It is a stout falsehood that palm. Some, however, were gay and hand- lives a year without bursting; but I see some, well-fed and sleek; they bowed, they thousands of this select company who have frowned, they smiled, and stepped along outlasted empires, and may live, perhaps, to with great confidence. These came in com- see the last stone of the pyramids crumble panies like free-masons, with banners, car- into dust. It is the high-toned, ambitious rying the figures of Justice and Freedom. lie, the spiritual delusion, that attains age Here I saw Life Assurance lies, with a be- and sanctity. Yes, it is you who govern nevolent aspect; Sellers' and Buyers' lies, men, little ugly pets that you are, my jolly great odious fibs, enough to make a vulture little Sanctimonies." ill at his stomach ; but nothing could ap- A thundering shout followed this demapear more reasonable than they. For the gogical appeal. I could have fancied myself sies of Pity and Prudence I felt strong com- in Tammany Hall, had it not been for the passion. They were few in number, quite littleness of the crowd. The eyes of my naked, and all solitary and sad, and none venerable friend met mine again, and with seemed to regard them.
so sly a twinkle this time, I could not forInterminable lines of Plagiarisms ; Per- bear" laughing, which occasioned a shudder juries with ropes about their necks; Family to run through a rank of pious fibs, who held falsehoods ; great Scandals, green and poison- up their epileptic phizes with a prim frown; ous, like big Tartarean frogs; Misunderstand- but many of them exploded at once, with a ings between husbands and wives; Suborn- smell like a candle-snuff
. ations, pale and black in the face ; False At this moment the orator beckoned me Informations, with paper wings, fluttering in to him with his finger. I rose with a senshady corners, and vanishing in the sunbeam; sation of lead in my feet, and glided, rather these and a thousand others filled up the I than walked, through the elfin multitude,
that melted away as I advanced into thin freed of the cares and vanities of a body. air, and vanished like a morning mist. The Follow my example. I left my odious stature of the magician seemed to lessen as carcass one fine morning, by a lucky acciI approached him, for it was large only by dent, in the furnace of my laboratory comparison with the pigmies he stood “Slawkenburg,” said İ, “I see nothing amongst. He now appeared as a diminu- attractive in your appearance. To speak tive pedant, of a horrible physiognomy, plainly, you are not at all handsome; and I wrinkled and twisted with meanness and find, moreover, that vanity goes with extreme age. The fair and open forehead, only to the grave, but beyond it.” the humorous eye, and the cold sweetness • That is a promising remark of yours," of his smile, were the only bearable traits of replied he. “You will be a wit yet. I shall his countenance ; but these lurid and dia- report you to Voltaire, who is fond of those bolical. The touch of his small ape-like things." hand thrilled me as if it were a snake's; a "Could you introduce me to the spirit of numbness shot through my bones, and my Voltaire ?" said I, somewhat softened. knees smote together.
“ You have only to form a correct idea of “How is this?” said I, mustering a fa- him, and his spirit will appear to you,” remiliar courage. “Have you the secret of plied the ghost. “Your only conjurors are immortality? I fancied you dead, and gone the correct thinkers.” to dust, some three centuries ago."
“Are you, then, merely an idea of mind, A chuckling laugh shook him from head Von Slawkenburg ?" said I, with an air of to foot. “Ha! ha!” said he. “You did pity. not see me come out."
“Do not flatter yourself," he replied. "Von Slawkenburg," I replied, “ let us " You have a tolerable brain, young man ; have no trifling. Out of what did you but thinking did not make the world. That come ?"
is one of the old lies you saw just now; the “Out of the book-out of the volume gray-beard in the dress of an Egyptian there,” said he, pointing with an emaciated priest; a very old and very useful manikin, claw at the folio that lay upon the desk. “You but extremely silly, I know a company opened at the seven hundred and ninety- of French spirits who fancy the world is seventh page, and your conception of my made of triangles; that is one of mine too. character from that page-on which is the Did you observe him—the withered-looking title of a Treatise of Lying '—was so abso- figure in a sans-culotte costume, with the lute, I was forced to give you an audience. insignia of a mason ?" Men of intellect, you know, are involuntary "Mynheer Von Slawkenburg, if you speak conjurors, and raise a spirit by thinking.” of French politicians, I have a great contempt
"You, then," said I,“ are a spirit ?” for them, my friend."
"Very well, very well,” rejoined he; “there "Spare your contempt, young man," cried is nothing extraordinary in that. It is com- the spirit, in a voice like a shrill wind through mon to be a spirit, especially after one is a key-hole; “some of these are disciples of dead. You, too, are a spirit; for you left mine, like yourself.” your body sleeping yonder, and came for- "Mynheer Von Slawkenburg," said I, ward without it."
gliding back with dignity, “ your works I turned suddenly, and saw the body of a
amuse me.” fair-faced, slender young man asleep in the "Il s'amuse !" cried he. chair.
man wastes an idle hour with my folios ! "Is it myself that is there and here too ?" Bless his pretty face. Have a care of that said I, looking with a shudder at the sleep proverb about him 'who sups with the ing figure ; not, however, without a touch of Devil.' Von Slawkenburg's little manikins, complacency at the agreeableness of the that creep out of the great folios by the score, countenance, which the ghost perceived at are, like certain things I hear of, easy to once; for he put his finger to his nose in a catch, hard to be rid of. Amuse yourself very significant manner.
with my manikins!" quoth he; "why, they " Drop it, my lad," said he ; " never enter will take you the wisest man in the world it again. It is a clog, full of infirmities. by the two ears, and whisk him away through Look at me, a hale and handsome spirit, I seven Sundays."
66 The young
“ Pray, Mynheer, if so venerable a per- and it is humbug. In the present age, humsonage may be questioned"
bug is great, because it is chiefly a curious “A little,” replied the spirit.
and philosophical age.
The more men “I say, if so venerable a spirit will bear know, the more gigantic the humbugs they questioning, tell me whether you drink originate. A common charlatan shows you schiedam in your spirit-land; for, though stage tricks and mermaids ; a great one your head-covering is to all appearance a shows you treatises of faith and philanwig, and the ghost of one at that, I believe thropy. One consumes the money of an you are drunk, Mynheer, by your idle way ignorant mob, the other that of a great nation. of talking. You forget, Mynheer, that lies There is the Humbug of the Seven Hills, are something less than bubbles, and you are the “triple-hatted Chimera,” as my friend the father of a nation of them."
Carlyle calls him. He levies tribute on all “Ah, yes; that is true. I was a celebrated the world. Apparently about to fall, at that author, physician, alchemist, theologian, moment he is at the strongest. What a fond philosopher, political reformer. Ah! I was folly is this, to fancy that in this age, for the great and learned. Cagliostro conversed first time, Rome shall fall! It is her grace with me.”
and salvation to be continually bankrupt and “ I beg, Mynheer, you will observe con- in a decline. Do you mark what an admisistency. Cagliostro lived much after your rable mechanism ?" said the ghost. “The time."
art of humbug is founded in a knowledge of “Sir," exclaimed the ghost, “I was the weak points of human nature. Every Slawkenburg ; I was also Cagliostro. I in- man, it is said, has his price; I know that spired the charlatans of those days; I do the every man has his lie. "You, for example, same for those of your time. You call me have yours." Von Slawkenburg. My name is Humbug ; "What is my weak point, Mynheer ?" I am Humbug, young man, that was, and is, “You fancy yourself a philosopher, and and is to be.”
contemplate the conversion of the world to “Mynheer, Monsieur, Sir, Don, or Sig- your doctrines. Any adroit person who nor—for, as you are of all nations, I pre- knew that, could humbug you like a thousume it is immaterial which-you are, then, sand asses. You could be made a grotesque a very impertinent old fellow, and I know and gigantic spectacle of conceit; in fact, you."
the laughing-stock of fools." "A very useful one," said the ghost "And with what advantage, Mynheer ?" smartly; show
how to be rich ; “You could be shown on public occasions. an art, I think, you are no adept in.” Oh, we have several ways of turning your
“Give me a taste of your art, Mynheer." solemn ass—your philosopher—to account.
“Like all great inventors," he continued, The disadvantage is, that after a time, your " though poor myself, I make others wealthy. eyes open, your wits sharpen, and the philoI am especially a maker of lies ; little crea- sopher turns knave; and then-mine Gott ! tures, but of great efficacy, and pointed well you are devils. I myself was at one time
You have seen some of an innocent and simple-minded philosothem."
pher." “Myriads, I think, Mynheer; but is it “Mynheer, it strikes me you see no differpossible to grow rich by lies? I imagined ence between wisdom and knavery.” always that truths were the only things of “ None whatever. Consider it as you will, value.”
life is a humbug; man is a humbug; the “Never was there a more dangerous error, Devil is a humbug. I am Humbug itself, young gentleman. You seek truth in this and I find myself in every thing." library; you turn the leaves of Slawkenburg “ Mynheer, you disgust me. Let us change and Plato to find absolute truth.”
the subject. What is truth ?" “ Take me with you, Myöheer; I turn “There you are again, philosophizing. the leaves of Plato for wisdom, those of Truth is to falsehood as darkness is to light. Slawkenburg for amusement.”
Truth is nothing; it is merely the absence “ There it is now," replied the ghost; of falsehood, as darkness is the absence of you read me for amusement. Amusement light.” is a more salable commodity than wisdom, “ Von Slawkenburg, you are a sophist; a
* I can
to the purpose.