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SIR CHARLES BELL'S BRIDGEWATER
The perfection of the human hand, viewed as an instru ment adapted to the faculties and wants of the noble being to whom it belongs, has been seen and acknowledged from No intelligent person can peruse this treatise without find- the earliest period. This, we perceive, consists in its ing, not only that he has made considerable accessions to power, which is a combination of strength with variety his stock of information, but that his mind has also been and extent of motion: we see it in the forms, relations, expanded by the trains of thought which are therein sug- and sensibility of the fingers and thumb; in the provisions gested. Rich, however, as it is in materials, they are not for holding, pulling, spinning, weaving, and constructing; skilfully put together. The logical arrangement is far properties which may be found in other animals, but which from being good, and, in cases not a few, the connecting are combined to form this more perfect instrument.' It is links of the various parts have no perceptible existence. It the consummation of all perfection; and, singular enough, is too discursive—a fault which may probably be owing to this fact has been urged by philosophers, both in ancient the engrossing labours of his profession, which left the dis- and modern times, as the great reason why man is so sutinguished author too little leisure for the masterly treat-perior to the irrational creation. It would be almost a ment which the high argument of his subject deserved. It waste of time to refute with gravity, and at length, an leaves the reader too much to himself to gather the know- opinion so absurd as this-that man is the wisest of all ledge of the various topics discussed, and which lie scattered creatures, merely because he is in possession of a hand. here and there throughout the volume. The work will The answer which was given by Galen, the celebrated thus never become popular; and with the highest possible physician of ancient Greece, exhausts the whole subject in respect for the scientific eminence and acknowledged abi- a few words. It is not,' says he, the hands that teach lity of Sir Charles Bell, we cannot help thinking, that he men arts, but reason; the hands are the mere instruments earned a thousand pounds very easily, when this sum was of the thinking mind, as the lyre is of the musician and paid him for the composition of the present Bridgewater pincers of the smith.' There is still, however, a class of Treatise. What then are we to do with it? It is not in persons among us whose ideas have all a material tenour power to make an analysis of this volume which would dency, who are perpetually seeking for the causes of pheprove interesting and useful to our readers. We cannot nomena in the phenomena themselves, and who are thus copy the numerous woodcuts which illustrate the ana- always mistaking effects for causes, and blundering with tomical descriptions, for much of the volume is occupied a mischievous ignorance. The hand, the noblest of all with the anatomical structure of other animals, as well as instruments, has been given to man because he is the that of man, in order to bring out more fully the wonder- noblest of all creatures upon carth. He is the wisest of ful indications of design in the human hand. Perhaps the all animals, not because he has hands, but the Creator has better mode will be to select such topics alone as can be given him hands because he is the wisest of all animals. made easily intelligible, not confining ourselves either to There is a hand to execute because there is a mind to conthe order which has been adopted by the author, or even ceive. God has skilfully adapted the organisation of his to the particular illustrations which he has employed. body to the wondrous faculties of his intellectual constiAvoiding then, as far as possible, all anatomical descrip- tution, and the hand is only a specimen of that exquisite tions, let us endeavour to show the adaptation of the hand to harmony which pervades all the parts of his physical the high rank which man has received in the scale of being. system. Of what benefit, we may ask, would hands be to The argument is fashioned somewhat in the following a dog? If conferred upon a horse, would they teach him manner: The physical organisation of all animals has a to construct a house for himself? If the perfect hands of perfect adaptation to their individual instincts, intelli- a human being were given to a monkey, would they give gence, and necessities. No animal is brought into exist him the command of all other animals, or would they even ence with a single instinct or a want for which abundant inform him how to kindle a fire to keep himself from perishprovision is not made in the bodily organs with which it ing with cold? Or take a case which may be regarded as has been furnished. To this rule there is no exception. more pertinent. Here is an idiot. His hands, on examiThe specimens of deficient organisation which former na- nation, show no deficiency as to organisation. They may turalists were wont to mention as freaks of nature, are be as admirably formed as those of Newton, Bacon, or now recognised as evidences of that exquisite perfection Shakspeare. If the intellect depends on the structure of and amazing harmony which pervade the works of Him the hand, what prevents this poor idiot from rising up from who saw everything that he had made, and behold it was his mental degradation and taking his place upon that very good.' The sloth is an illustration of this. Ad- platform of honourable eminence to which he has so manivancing knowledge has demonstrated how much Cuvier fest a claim? But a different train of illustration may be was at fault when he adduced this as an instance of devia- employed in reference to this material tendency. If the tion from the general law of perfection. It is to the appli- possession of hands be essential to the acquisition of mind, cation of this unerring principle-that all divine works what must be the condition of those who are unhappily are adapted to the purposes for which they were intended, born without them? Several instances of this kind are and that every animal is a complete system in itself-that upon record in our books of physiology, and they are far we are indebted for some of the profoundest discoveries in from being helpless idiots, destitute of intellectual activity, geological science. Let a bone be dug out of the earth, and having no more powers of combination and design and carried to a scientific physiologist, and he will tell you than the offspring of the irrational creation. We have whether it belongs to an animal now living upon earth daily before us the proofs of ingenuity in the arts, not or to one of those that have long been extinct. From this only surviving the loss of the hand, but excited and exerone bone he is able to construct a whole skeleton. Let it cised where there were no such instruments from birth. belong to one of the extinct classes. Be it so; he will in- What is more surprising than to see the feet, in such indiform you what was the bulk and the form of this unknown viduals, becoming substitutes for the hands, and working animal; what were its peculiar instincts and wants, whether minute and curious things. Unfortunately, too, the most it delighted in marshes or wandered among the primeval diabolical passions will in some natures be developed, and forests; what was the kind of food it lived upon, and what crimes committed where we might have supposed it imwere the means by which this food was procured. And possible, from the power of execution being denied. Of all this knowledge evolved from a single bone, because the this the most remarkable instance was in a man who man in whose hands it has been placed has learned by from birth had no arms, but who, as if possessed of a long study that God makes nothing in vain, and that the devil, had committed many murders before he was disbodily organs are invariably constructed to meet the in- covered and executed. This wretch was a beggar, who stincts and necessities of every being that has been formed. took his stand on the highway some miles from Moscow, on the skirts of a wood. His manner was to throw his head against the stomach of the person who was in the act of giving him charity, and having stunned him, to seize
The Hand, its Mechanism and Vital Endowments, as Evincing
Design. By Sir CHARLES BELL.
him with his teeth and so drag him into the wood.' As a relief to this dark picture, we refer the reader to an article entitled 'Instances of Ingenuity under Deprivations,' which appeared in No. 125 of the INSTRUCTOR.
familiar with the fact that the fingers possess an exquisite sensibility of touch, indeed we are so familiar that it ceases to excite our astonishment until the attention be especially directed to it. To many, it appears as if a new faculty were given to a blind boy, when they see him taking up a book which has been printed with slightly raised charac ters, and reading, with the tips of his fingers, a portion of the word of God with as much fluency as many who have always enjoyed the use of their eyes. Place now a finger or a thumb upon the wrist, and the pulsation of the artery is felt. Every one knows this; but did you ever make another experiment by way of comparison? How delicate the tongue! A single hair, how annoying it is! Well, press the tip of the tongue upon the wrist, and no beating of the pulse is felt. It is thus easily proved that there is a greater sensibility of touch at the points of the fingers than in the tip of the tongue. It is scarcely to be believed, until this simple experiment be made. One of the most astonishing proofs of this sensibility of the fingers, that has come under our knowledge, was the case of a young lady in England, who had the misfortune to be entirely deaf. By a diligent examination of the motions of her sister's lips, she could make out the meaning of what she said. Nor was this acuteness confined to the eyes. When in bed together, she put her fingers upon her sister's lips, when she was speaking, who, in these circumstances, spoke a little slower than usual; the motions of the lips enabled her to understand what words were pronounced, and thus the two sisters could carry on a conversation during the dark night. But in giving these illustrations of that fine sensibility which dwells in the fingers, we must not lose sight of the mechanism by which it is produced. Physiolo gists tell us of the cuticle or epidermis which covers the true skin, and which separates in thin scales from the body, a new supply being continually formed from beneath. The condition of this external covering is intimately connected with the organ of touch. The cuticle is the organ of touch in this respect, that it is the medium through which the external impression is conveyed to the nerves of touch; and the manner in which this is accomplished is not without interest. The extremities of the fingers exhibit all the provisions for the exercise of this sense. The nails give support to the fingers; they are made broad and shield-like, in order to sustain the elastic cushion which forms their extremity; and the fullness and elasticity of the ends of the fingers adapt them admirably for touch. But on a nearer inspection, we see a more particular provision in the points of the fingers. Wherever the sense of feeling is most exquisite, there are minute spiral ridges, which have, corresponding with them, depressed lines on the inner surface of the cuticle; and these again give lodg ment to a soft pulpy matter, in which lie the extremities of the sentient nerves. There the nerves are sufficiently protected, while they are exposed to impressions through the elastic cuticle, and thus give the sense of touch. The organisation is simple, yet it is in strict analogy with the other organs of sense. Every one must have observed a tendency in the cuticle to become thickened and stronger by pressure and friction. If the pressure be partial and severe, the action of the true skin is too much excited, fluid is thrown out, and the cuticle is raised in a blister. If it be still partial, but more gradually applied, a corn is formed. If, however, the general surface of the palms or soles be exposed to pressure, the cuticle thickens, until it becomes a defence like a glove or a shoe. Now, what is most to be admired in this thickening of the cuticle is, that the sense of touch is not lost, or indeed diminished, certainly not at all in proportion to the protection afforded by the thickening of the skin.' The hands of a peasant become brawny from labour, and the palm and fingers of a smith, who daily uses a forehammer, become thickened almost to the hardness of horn. Still the sensibility of touch is not at all injured in proportion. This by a simple provision. Compare the hands of a smith and of a clerk, and it will be found, in the case of the former, that the depressed lines in the inner surface become deeper, and the villi (or small delicate tufts) projecting
It would require the aid of diagrams and anatomical terms to describe the wondrous mechanism which connects the arm with the shoulder at one extremity, and the arm with the hand at the other. The remarks must thus be almost exclusively confined to the hand alone, though this takes away no small portion of the argument from design. Enough, however, remains for our purpose. Let the reader now be pleased to open his hand and consider its form. There are the fingers, with their infinite variety of motions. How are these produced? The motions of the fingers do not merely result from the action of the large muscles which lie on the fore-arm-these are for the more powerful actions; but in the palm of the hand, and between the metacarpal bones, there are small muscles (Lumbricales and Interossei), which perform the finer motions, expanding the fingers and moving them in every direction with great quickness and delicacy. These are the organs which give the hand the power of spinning, weaving, engraving; and as they produce the quick motions of the musician's fingers, they are called by the anatomists fidicinales. Attention to our most common actions will show us how the division into fingers, by combining motion with the sense of touch, adapts the hand to grasp, to feel, and to compare.' There is a sketch before us of the bones of the paw of an adult chimpanzee. This animal is an ape from Borneo, on the coast of Guinea. It is much larger than an orangoutang, and nearer the human form in appearance. It has evidently an enormous power for pulling and swinging in these long and sinewy arms. But upon looking at the sketch of what may be called the hand of this animal, 'the remarkable peculiarity is the smallness of the thumb; it extends no further than to the root of the fingers. On the length, strength, free lateral motion, and perfect mobility of the thumb, depends the power of the human hand. The thumb is called poller, because of its strength; and that strength is necessary to the power of the hand, being equal to that of all the fingers. Without the fleshy ball of the thumb, the power of the fingers would avail nothing; and accordingly the large ball, formed by the muscles of the thumb, is the distinguishing character of the human hand, and especially of that of an expert workman. In a French book, intended to teach young people philosophy, the pupil asks why the fingers are not of equal length? The form of the argument reminds us of the difficulty of putting natural questions-the fault of books of dialogue. However, the master makes the scholar grasp a ball of ivory, to show him that the points of the fingers are then equal! It would have been better had he closed the fingers upon the palm, and then have asked whether or not they corresponded. This difference in the length of the fingers serves a thousand purposes, adapting the hand and fingers, as in holding a rod, a switch, a sword, a hammer, a pen or pencil, engraving tool, &c., in all which a secure hold and freedom of motion are admirably combined. Nothing is more remarkable, as forming a part of the prospective design to prepare an instrument fitted for the various uses of the human hand, than the manner in which the delicate and moving apparatus of the palm and fingers is guarded. The power with which the hand grasps, as when a sailor lays hold of the rope to raise his body in the rigging, would be too great for the texture of mere tendons, nerves, and vessels; they would be crushed, were not every part that bears the pressure defended with a cushion of fat, as elastic as that which is to be found in the foot of the horse and camel. To add to this purely passive defence, there is a muscle which runs across the palm and more especially supports the cushion on its inner edge. It is this muscle which, raising the edge of the palm, adapts it to lave water, forming the cup of Diogenes.'
Let us now look at the fingers again, and observe the admirable provision which has been made for conferring and preserving extreme sensibility of touch. We are all
into them longer, which, joined to the aptitude of the cuticle to convey the impression to those included nerves, leaves him in possession of the sense of touch in a very high degree.'
Another quality of the cuticle may now be mentioned: its roughness and the advantages of this property. In the first place, as to the subserviency of this quality to feeling, we must be sensible that in touching a finely polished surface the organ is but imperfectly exercised, as compared with its condition when we touch or grasp a rough and irregular body. Had the cuticle been finely polished on its surface, it would have been but ill suited to touch: but, on the contrary, it has a very peculiar roughness which adapts it to feeling. A provision for friction, as opposed to smoothness, is a necessary quality of some parts of the skin. The roughness of the cuticle has the advantage of giving us a firmer grasp and a steadier footing. Nothing is so little apt to slip as the thickened cuticle of the hand or foot. In the hoofs of animals, as might be expected, this structure is further developed. The chamois or goat steps securely on the ledges of rocks and at great heights, where it would seem impossible to cling. On the pads or cushions of the cat, the cuticle is rough and granular; and in the foot of the squirrel, indeed of all animals which climb, those pads covered with the peculiar texture of the cuticle, give security in descending, as their claws enable them to climb.'
Sir Charles Bell makes some remarks on the superiority of the right hand to the left, which appear to us very philosophical. The cause of this acknowledged superiority has been supposed by some to depend upon the course of the arteries to it. It is affirmed that the trunk of the artery going to the right arm passes off from the heart so as to admit the blood directly and more forcibly into the small vessels of the arm.' Our author rejects this explanation as inadequate, and he refers it to an original provision made by the Author of our being and for an obvious purpose. His opinion will be read with interest: For the conveniences of life, and to make us prompt and dexterous, it is pretty evident that there ought to be no hesitation which hand is to be used, or which foot is to be put forward; nor is there, in fact, any such indecision. Is this taught, or have we this readiness given to us by nature? It must be observed, at the same time, that there is a distinction in the whole right side of the body, and that the left side is not only the weaker, in regard to muscular strength, but also in its vital or constitutional properties. The development of the organs of action and motion is greatest upon the right side, as may at any time be ascertained by measurement, or the testimony of the tailor or shoemaker. Certainly, this superiority may be said to result from the more frequent exertion of the right hand; but the peculiarity extends to the constitution also; and disease attacks the left extremities more frequently than the right. In opera dancers, we may see the most difficult feats are performed by the right foot. But their preparatory exercises better evince the natural weakness of the left limb, since these performers are made to give double practice to this limb, in order to avoid awkwardness in the public exhibition; for if these exercises be neglected, an ungraceful preference will be given to the right side. In walking behind a person, it is very seldom that we see an equalised motion of the body; and if we look to the left foot, we shall find that the tread is not so firm upon it, that the toe is not so much turned out as in the right, and that a greater push is made with it. From the peculiar form of woman, and the elasticity of her step resulting more from the motion of the ankle than of the haunches, the defect of the left foot, when it exists, is more apparent in her gait. No boy hops upon his left foot unless he be left-handed. The horseman puts the left foot in the stirrup and springs from the right. We think we may conclude, that everything being adapted, in the conveniences of life, to the right hand, as for example the direction of the worm of the screw or of the cutting end of the augur, is not arbitrary, but is related to a natural endowment of the body. He who is left-handed is most sensible to the advantages
of this adaptation, from the opening of the parlour-door to the opening of a pen-knife. On the whole, the preference of the right hand is not the effect of habit, but is a natural provision, and is bestowed for a very obvious purpose: and the property does not depend on the peculiar distribution of the arteries of the arm-but the preference is given to the right foot as well as to the right hand.'
There are two most important chapters in this volume, which have no direct connection with the hand-on sensibility and touch, and the muscular sense. The consciousness of muscular exertion he raises to the honour of a sixth sense. His views on the subject are original, but we cannot enter upon the matter here.
THIRTY DAYS IN THE SAVANNAHS OF CUBA.
THE coast before us had a most singular aspect, and less resembled a shore than a forest half submerged, for we could see no ground. Having penetrated into a narrow cove or creek, shaded on all sides, and surrounded with low thick mango-trees, erelong the boat stuck fast in mud, and all our efforts to disengage it proved of no avail. The pistol-shots of the defenders of the lake having prevented us from taking in a proper supply of water, the little we had was exhausted, and we were tortured with thirst. We had now to procure a fresh supply at any risk.
Stepping out from the boat into the mud, we began one of the most painful and fatiguing marches that could be conceived, sometimes half sunk in mud, sometimes suspending ourselves to the best of our power from the knotty branches of the mango-trees, sometimes creeping under obscure archways and winding galleries formed by that singular tree, which, like the banian fig, reproduces itself, and, loaded with all sorts of parasitical plants, transforms its branches into new roots, and thus forms dark galleries of interminable length, and only three or four feet high. With our axe and knives we cut down as many branches as we could. But let any one fancy our situation-the sun darting his vertical rays right upon our heads, hunger and thirst tormenting us, our sufferings only aggravated by our attempting to chew the thick tough leaves of the mango, which were saturated with alkali.
We pushed on, however, with desperation amounting almost to madness. Night came on. Myriads of musquitoes attacked us. The atmosphere felt oppressively heavy, and was charged with electricity. We halted; but where were we to sleep? The bites and stings of the insect tribes would not suffer us to close our eyes; we laid ourselves down in misery and discouragement on the muddy couch which damped our aching limbs. Though to sleep was impossible, I had horrible visions-the effect of what the Spaniards call the calentura da morte. At times I fancied myself dancing at one of the New Orleans balls, where the servants hand round in trays iced sangarie, a kind of Roman punch, at once most delicious, refreshing, and tonic. Again I fancied myself metamorphosed into a Havannah picador, and was gallopping after an enormous bull, which threw me down, bathed in my own blood. Anon the vision fled, and I returned to the actual sense of sufferings that seemed worse than I had ever dreamed.
As the day broke we resumed our efforts. Exhausted, staggering, and ready to drop at every step, scarcely screened by the hard dry foliage, which obstructed our progress without affording us shelter, with empty stomachs and cold and benumbed extremities, at last towards noon the mangoes became less close, there was a change in the appearance of the soil, and large trees, of the palm tribe, enabled us to stand upright; dried vine branches clustered round them with their knotted arms. Here we discovered traces of an animal's footmarks, and they seemed to be those of a sow with her pigs, which had passed where we were. In our starving state this was quite a prize to us. For more than an hour, O'Neil and I with loaded gun, and creeping along the still damp ground, followed the footmarks which led us to a small thicket, very close,
from which there was heard a low and very formidable grunting. We were not the men to be faint-hearted. The inhabitants of the thicket, the sow and her pigs, made a vigorous sally, and in an instant I found myself wounded in the leg. This I did not mind. Having caught a glimpse of a little stagnant water at the farther end of the wild family's lair, I would have run through a blazing pile to get at it. Meanwhile, O'Neil took a chance shot at the sow, wounded one of her forelegs, and then, using his musket as a club, he struck her over the snout with such force that the butt was broken and the brute fell, on which I plunged my bowie-knife into its belly and despatched it. The rest of the family were very young and ran off in all directions, leaving us in undisputed possession of the ground.
Then, indeed, we had a feast worthy of the gods, although the water was brackish and detestable, and the flesh of the sow, which we roasted on a fire made of branches of the mango-tree, was tough enough to resist the most energetic teeth. By digging a little we succeeded in obtaining water, which was a little more palatable. We broke off a large heap of branches and lighted a fire to keep away the musquitoes; and after washing ourselves all over, for we were black and swollen with insect bites, we lay down and enjoyed a sleep worthy of Sardanapalus.
I awoke about four o'clock next morning, and my first sensation was that of great pain caused by my wound. The sow's tusk had pierced the muscles of my leg, which bled profusely. In order to keep down the inflammation, I made use of the animal's lard, and, after washing the wound well, bound an old handkerchief about it. What was now to be done? Our boat as well as horses was lost, for to attempt returning to it was out of the question. In my state of lameness it would not have been possible for me to repeat the painful and tortuous journey that had brought us to where we were. We finished roasting our pork and walked towards the north. The ground became less encumbered with wood and more stony. We came to a little shallow lake, the water of which was lukewarm, and reached to about the middle of the leg. We drank it so eagerly as to be seized with fever and dysentery, yet were compelled to push on. Another day's march, during which we might be said rather to drag ourselves along than to walk, brought us to a small creek filled with alligators, whose gaping jaws and black lustrous fins were seen plainly enough on the surface of the water. These were rather unpleasant neighbours, but as we had no choice but to pass the creek in order to reach a low wooded and cultivated hill on the other side, we did not hesitate. From that hill, which presented a pleasing perspective, we heard sounds that told of civilisation-the tinkling of bells, and the lowing of oxen. So, arming ourselves with stones to frighten the monsters, and striking the water with long boughs, we succeeded at last in putting them to flight. About ten in the morning we reached the farther side, and saw a dwelling-house.
Whatever perils might await us, they seemed nothing to those which we had escaped, and we preferred the vengeance of the consul and the governor to the teeth of alligators, and death by hunger and thirst, in some unknown retreat. Chance led us precisely to a teniente or lieutenant of the governor, of the name of Don Fernan Pacheco, whom our shabby appearance and soiled clothes might have led to suspect us, but that he was put quite on another scent, by the salvo condotto which I had always carried carefully along with me. O'Neil told him about our losing the boat, disguising certain details of our story, and representing us as men of science, engaged in botanic researches. The teniente did not believe a word of this, but his incredulity saved us. He thought it impossible that the gobernador-general would trust so precious a document as the safe-conduct to persons travelling without some very special object. Residing in a part of the island which is rarely visited, he had never so much as heard of the American spies, who had been outlawed by public authority, and took a very different view of our
arrival in that district.
Often as the Havannese authorities have been baulked, in a hallucination which at one time possessed all the inhabitants of Cuba, they had not abandoned either the desire or the hope of yet discovering mines of gold and silver in the island. Every Spaniard who discovers and makes known a gold mine, is promised a dukedom; if it be a man of colour who does so, he is rewarded with a sixth part of the produce; if a slave, with a tenth part, and his freedom besides; if a foreigner, he receives a third of the produce. And in all cases the government undertakes to furnish all the expense and labour required for the working.
Now, as we had in our possession a safe-conduct signed by the governor himself, who could we be but American engineers-ereticos no doubt, yet skilful heretics, despatched by the governor for the purpose of investigating some lately discovered mine, and commencing the workings? The mysteriousness of our appearance, together with the safe-conduct, sufficiently announced our mission, and gave token of our importance. Such was the conviction which, without our doing anything to strengthen it, the brave teniente had already formed. He loaded us with civilities, i and promised secrecy, soldiers to accompany us, and his protection under all circumstances. Were we not about to open up a stream of gold, and was not that the source of all favours ?
Accordingly he made many mysterious and ingenious allusions to the importance of our governmental mission; and the keen interest with which he perpetually recurred to the subject of mines, metallurgy, and the stratum of gold and silver, which there could be no doubt formed the solid foundation of the whole island, soon made us aware of his mistake, which was too favourable to our interests | for us to set about disabusing him of it. He made us change our clothes for such as he could spare from his own wardrobe, gave us the hospitality of his house, and introduced us to his wife, a young Spanish woman, of enchanting beauty and the most profound ignorance. Erelong we were allowed to establish ourselves alone, at about a mile's distance, in a small temporary hut made of wooden boards and fig-tree branches, amid the rocks that cover nearly the whole canton. Two soldiers were to be stationed near us for our protection-a precaution which somewhat thwarted our views; but we thought we might easily rid ourselves of this source of embarrassment, and, once in possession of our hut, set ourselves with hammer in hand and cigars in our mouths, to make metallurgic excursions in the neighbourhood-excursions indispensable to the success of our ulterior designs.
The first day that we brought to the honest teniente our basketful of chips of quartz, schistus and mica, he made us a low bow, and, with an eye sparkling with delight and curiosity, said, 'What is this, most illustrious lordsgold or silver no doubt?' To this we gave no precise or satisfactory reply; and our evasive expressions only confirmed the conviction of the teniente, who gave us an excellent dinner, and produced his best wines. At the dessert, when our tongues and hearts began to act more freely, I hinted that our escort was quite useless; and was immediately given to understand, by a knowing wink, that he perfectly comprehended what we meant. Why allow soldiers to become privy to this important secret? From the day fol lowing we saw no more of them, and were left perfectly free. Our grand object now was to escape from the teniente, who, sooner or later, was sure to find out who we were. So at eleven o'clock, on parting from the soldier who escorted us, we resumed our travels. In the course of our five days' stay with the teniente, we had picked up an exact acquaintance with the various localities in the neighbourhood, and had informed ourselves with respect to the owners of the country residences that lay least remote. One of these, and he too the wealthiest of them, whose house stood ten miles off from the teniente's, a Frenchman by birth, and famed for his kindness and generosity, seemed the likeliest to be of use to us, and whom we might most safely entrust with the knowledge of our real circumstances, and apply to for protection.
Here we were not mistaken. I insisted that O'Neil | got ready for our excursion. I was not ill pleased to be remust hold his tongue, and when we arrived at M. Gerbier's, moved from Seraphita, and to have something to give a new instead of entertaining him with the ordinary fictions of direction to my thoughts. Mules, horses, three negroes, my comrade, I told him the plain and naked truth. He four Spaniards, including the overseer of the cafetal, Xareceived us with the utmost kindness. ramillo, a child of Old Spain, who had quite the air of a true bandit of the fifteenth century, and of a man who could cleave down a Moor, started at four A.M., preceded by M. Gerbier, O'Neil, and me. By the side of the stout and bronzed Xaramillo, who was dressed like an old sailor, there strutted on his mule, like a cardinal of the middle age, Cornejo, dressed up like a Madrid majo or dandy, in a thread-bare costume, which had all the appearance of some cast-off garment of the Figaro of some provincial theatre. Six enormous dogs brought up the rear, of the same formidable breed that we had already made acquaintance with.
This gentleman, a St Domingo Frenchman, having lost both property and family in the insurrection of the blacks, became a pirate in his younger days, and served in the famous squadron of Lafitte and De Gomez. M. Gerbier became one of the most daring of its captains, a sort of marechal de l'empire of the maritime usurpers whom it was found so difficult to subdue and disarm. When peace came and Lafitte had returned into the ranks of legal society, Gerbier obtained a formal pardon from the President of the United States, and from the Spanish authorities, and bought, near Batavano, a kind of estate on which he built a very pretty Italian villa. His bearing was singularly mild, his manners those of a man who had passed his life in good society, and one might have supposed him to be a gentleman of the old court, who had served in the campaigns of the army of Condé, rather than an old pirate. He did not care to speak of the exploits of his past life; but having got into that chapter at last, he gave way with a good grace. The Havanuah authorities had no great liking for him. With the activity and sprightliness of the French race, he was ever and anon indulging a jest at the expense of the solemn airs of Castille, and the indolence of the Creoles. Extremely sensitive on the point of honour, he had taken it upon him to chastise some insolent Yankees and overbearing capitanes, and this procured him much consideration in the country. Our excursions and our adventures interested him, and he gave us his promise that we should have nothing to fear at his house, for that, on the first appearance of danger, he would see to means being found for securing our escape. On the day following he introduced us to his wife. Who could have thought it? It was Seraphita herself! only prettier and more engaging than ever. She had been married for above a year and a half to M. Gerbier, who had embraced matrimony along with the other domestic virtues, and was now living like a little saint on his estates. Thus it was in Seraphita's house that both O'Neil and I were living concealed. O'Neil had not yet found his uncle, and I, who had in so unlooked-for a way found out the object of my idolatry, was hardly any happier than he was.
Seraphita was a mother. An infant whom she was nursing, the calm peace and winning grace of her household, and the simple unaffected hospitality with which we were treated, all would have made my situation, in so far as my heart was concerned, highly complicated, had it been prolonged for any length of time. M. Gerbier was old, bronzed and tanned with the sun, and crippled with rheumatism, yet, in other respects, an excellent man for a seawolf. His wife united to the elegance of the Creoles a languor almost American and truly enchanting. Adventurer as I was I had nothing to recommend me but youth and passion; no dishonourable idea ever entered my head. The first direct result of my situation was an attack of intermittent fever, which soon assumed a regular type, and during which M. Gerbier came to my bedside to keep me company. O'Neil told him all our peregrinations, and he listened with ecstasy to his description of the beauty of the lake, from which we had been chased by pistol-shots. I observed that M. Gerbier smiled.
'Indeed,' said he, 'I know the place; it was there that Lafitte used to retire after his great expeditions. And now, since you know what I once was, and I am not in worse odour on that account in these regions here, I will not conceal from you that my happiest days of leisure were spent on the borders of that very lake. As soon as our invalid is well again, and his complete recovery to be looked for, we shall all set out together. The weather is fine, I know the place, and it will be a highly amusing expedition to me, for it will take me again to my old haunts, and refresh my recollections of old habits.'
In point of fact I recovered pretty rapidly, and all was
'These coasts are not quite safe,' said M. Gerbier, and now that the English entice away our negroes, the Maroons go in bands of from thirty to forty each. These bandits are capable of anything, but when such fellows are at their heels, they will give me news of them.'
We encamped very agreeably on the Rio Cobre; but, about midnight, M. Gerbier, awaking, exclaimed, 'Xaramillo! I hear the whistle of the Maroons. Get up! rouse the dogs!'
The instinct of those animals was already awakened, and they all rushed off among the bushes, from which erelong the most frightful howlings were heard. We were all on our legs and armed, M. Gerbier actually appearing to enjoy an adventure which so reminded him of his old mode of life. Meanwhile, one of the negroes, who was standing by him trembling all over, and whose teeth we could hear chattering, in the profound darkness of the night, exclaimed, with a voice at once hollow and shrill, 'Master, Master!'-' Well, what's the matter, Trullo ?' he replied.-Master,' said the black, there is an earthquake!'
Trullo was quite right. In less than two seconds we felt the ground shake, and the thunder began to roll. We heard the rocks split around us, and tumble over each other. The very dogs, whose natural fierceness had been inflamed, when apprized by the scent of the presence of the blacks, came back shivering all over, with their tongues hanging out, and uttering long howls.
Accident rather than any natural liking for such things had led me more than once into a scene of blood, sometimes as an actor, oftener as a mere witness. But none of these left so deep an impression on my memory as what now followed. The ground shook, the dogs whined, the lightnings furrowed the sky, the horses neighed, and all the while the Maroon negroes were howling in their peculiar patois; the caverns that were everywhere splitting and cracking in the savannah, sent forth a shrill whistling noise, rising so loud as to be heard even along with the thunder. Sighs were heard, breathed as it were from the fissures by which the earth was rent. The curses uttered by the Maroons, who were not so much dismayed as we were, and who took advantage of this convulsion of the elements to advance more boldly, were caught as they were uttered. The Spaniards repeated their paternosters, all except Xaramillo, who had served, I understand, as a pirate under M. Gerbier's orders. Seeing the peril in which we were, he took post in ambuscade behind his horse, and there loading, and taking aim with his tromblon or trabuco, shaped in the mouth like a blunderbuss, he sent such a hail of bullets among the blacks as very soon diminished their number by five or six, wounded or dead. M. Gerbier, or as they called him, Don Gerbero, did equal execution. Anon the presence of the blacks rekindled all the fury of the dogs, and there followed a close encounter, in which the latter held the first place, and which strewed the ground with upwards of twenty of our assailants. Two of M. Gerbier's men were killed, and he himself was slightly wounded in the wrist. O'Neil and I escaped unhurt.
The earthquake had not lasted above ten minutes, and its effects extended but a short way. Torches were