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board one of her Majesty's ships lying is the cause of fear to many who have a off Portsmouth, the officers being one given notion thatday at the mess-table, a young lieutenant
The solemn death-watch clicks the hour of suddenly laid down his knife and fork,
death." pushed away his plate, and turned extremely pale. He then rose from the This superstition is mentioned by Baxter table, covered his face with his hands,
in his World of Spirits,” which oband retired. The president of the mess,
tained currency for its belief upward of supposing him to be ill, sent to make in- a century. He says: “ There are quiries. At first he was unwilling to re- many things that ignorance causeth mulply ; but on being pressed, he confessed titudes to take for prodigies. I have that he had been seized by a sudden and had many discreet friends that have irresistible impression that a brother he been affrighted with the noise called a had in India was dead. “He died," death-watch, whereas I have since, near said he,“ on the 12th of August, at șix three years ago, oft found by trial that o'clock; I am perfectly convinced of it is a noise made upon paper by a little , it.” No argument could overthrow his nimble, running worm, just like a louse, conviction, which in due course of time but whiter and quicker, and it is most was verified to the letter.
usually behind a paper pasted to a wall, Events of this kind, in the minds of especially to wainscot; and it is seldom many, seem to point to a mysterious
if ever heard but in the heat of summer. sympathy and harmony between two It is generally agreed by entomologists personalities, while others explain them to be the call of these insects to one as simply the result of " fancy and coin- another, which is caused in the followcidence. Any one, it is argued, * may ing way: The insect raises itself upon fall into a brown study, and emerge from its hind legs, with the body somewhat it with a stare and the notion that he inclined, and beats its head with great heard his name spoken. That is the force upon the surface near it, and its part of fancy, and the simultaneous strokes are so powerful as to make a event, death, is the part of coincidence. considerable noise. In Lancashire, we Against this it will always be argued that are informed that the death-tick must these coincidences are too many to be only tick three times on each occasion. accidental, and this position will, says a Another almost equally popular omen writer in the Daily News, always be met of death is the howling of a dog at night by efforts to weaken the evidence for -a very old superstition, and not coneach individual case, and so to reduce fined to our own country. It is
menthe cumulative evidence to nothing. tioned by Virgil in allusion to the RoTaking into consideration, however, the man misfortunes in the Pharsalic war ; countless instances which are on record and Pausanias relates how, before the of this kind-many too on evidence be- destruction of the Messenians, the dogs yond impeachment--we must, while giv- set up a fiercer howling than at other ing them the credence they deserve, times. According to a quaint German honestly admit they are beyond the lim- idea, if a dog howls looking downward its of human explanation.
it portends a death, but if upward, then a Again, the wraith, or spectral appear- recovery from sickness. Shakespeare inance of a person shortly to die, is an ob- cludes the howling of the dog among ject of belief in this country as well as omens. Thus, in 3 Henry VI. (v. 6), the abroad. In Ireland these apparitions king says : are called “fetches," in Cumberland “ The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign ; “swarths,” and in Yorkshire “ waffs." The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time ; Popular omens of death are innumer- Dogs howl’d, and hideous tempests shook
down trees." able. One, perhaps, which is more fully believed in than any other, is the It is curious how even an uneducated “death-watch." This, although known person could suppose that things which to be caused by a certain beetle, belong. God, in His merciful providence, has ing to the timber-boring genus, Anobium, hidden from mortal gaze, should be re
vealed to objects of the lower creation. * Daily Vews, September 12, 1876. Mrs. Latham, in her “ West Sussex
Superstitions,” recorded in the "Folk- sheets guttering down the latter. A Lore Record (i. 56), says that no Sussex piece of folk-lore tells us that if slight consternation caused at the church clock strikes twelve while Worthing a few years ago by a New- a hymn is being sung in the morning foundland dog, the property of a clergy- service, a death will most surely follow man in the neighborhood, lying down during the following week. on the steps of a house and howling High spirits have been considered a piteously, refusing to be driven away. presage of death, a notion alluded to by As soon as it was known that a young Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (v. 3). lady, long an invalid, had died there, so “How oft, when men are at the point of death, much excitement took place that the oc- Have they been merry! Which their keepers currence reached the owner of the dog, call who came to Worthing to inquire into
A lightning before death.” the truth of it. It turned out, however, Indeed there are numerous instances on that the dog had accidentally been sepa- record of this belief, which still remains rated from his master in the evening, a psychological question. Tytler, in his and had been seen running here and "History of Scotland," speaking of the there when in search of him, and howl- death of King James I., says: “On ing at the door of the stable where he the fatal evening (February 20, 1436), put up the horse, and other places which the revels of the court were kept up to a he often visited in Worthing. It hap- late hour.
The prince himself pened also that his master had been in appears to have been in unusually gay the habit of visiting the particular house and cheerful spirits. He even jested, if where the young lady had died, which at we may believe the contemporary manuonce accounted for the apparent mystery. script, about a prophecy which had ap
Another omen of death is the hover- peared that a king should that year be ing of birds around a house, and their slain.” In the evidence given at the intapping against the window-pane. The quest upon the bodies of four persons crowing of the cock, too, at the dead of killed by an explosion at a firework night is regarded as equally ominous. inanufactory in Bermondsey, October Mice are also said to portend death. 12, 1849, one of the witnesses stated : On one occasion a poor old woman in "On Friday night they were all very Devonshire, when speaking about the merry, and Mrs. B. said she feared mice in her room, exclaimed, “I pray something would happen before they God at a night, when I hears them run- went to bed, because they were ning about, to keep 'em down." It is a happy." common notion that to kill a cricket is
From a very early period there has highly unlucky. Thus Gay, in his existed a belief in the existence of the “ Pastoral Dirge,” among many prog- power of prophecy at that period which nostications of death, gives the follow- precedes death. It took its origin in ing:
the assumed fact that the soul becomes “ And shrilling crickets in the chimney cried.” divine in the same ratio as the connec
tion with the body is loosened. It has In the North of England a swallow been urged in support of this theory flying down the chimney is very omi- that, at the hour of death, the soul is, as nous ; while in most places the breaking it were, on the confines of two worlds, of a looking-glass is a certain forerunner and may possibly at the same moment of death. Among the countless other possess a power which is both prospecsuperstitions associated with man's de- tive and retrospective. Shakespeare in cease may be mentioned one prevalent his Richard II. (II. 1), makes the dying in Lancashire, where it is believed that Gaunt, alluding to his nephew, the to build, or even to rebuild, a house, is young and self-willed king exclaim : always fatal to one member of the family
“Methinks I am a prophet new inspired, -generally to the one who may have been the principal promoter in wishing
And thus, expiring, do foretell of him." for the building or alteration. Fires and Again in Henry IV., the brave Percy, candles afford presages of death-coffins when in the agonies of death, conveys flying out of the former, and winding- the same idea in the following words :
“O, I could prophesy,
net's family of Clifton, of Clifton Hall, But that the earthy and cold hand of death Lies on my tongue."
in Nottinghamshire, is forewarned of
approaching death by a sturgeon forcing Curious to say, this notion may be its way up the River Trent, on whose traced as far back as the time of Homer. bank their mansion is situated. Thus Patroclus prophesies the death of Prince, in his “ Worthies of Devon,”
tor (" Iliad," ii. 852): You your- tells us that “there is a family of conself are not destined to live long, for even siderable standing, of the name of Oxennow death is drawing nigh unto you, ham, at South Tawton, near Okehampand a violent fate awaits you—about to ton, of which this strange and wonderbe slain in fight by the hands of Achil- ful thing is recorded : That at the death les, the irreproachable son of Oacus." of any of them, a bird with a white Again, Aristotle tells us that “the soul, breast is seen for a while fluttering about when on the point of taking its depart their beds, and then suddenly to vanish ure from the body, foretells and prophe- away.". sies things about to happen.” Others Family omens of this kind are very have even sought for the foundation of common ; and it is unfortunate that the this belief in the forty-ninth chapter of great majority of them have been transGenesis : “And Jacob called his sons, mitted to us without the particulars that and said, Gather yourselves together, gave
rise to them. In most cases it is that I may tell you that which shall be- impossible to find any connection befall you in the last days. And when tween the omen and the family. Jacob had made an end of commanding The superstitions associated with his sons, he gathered up his feet into his death are so extensive that a good-sized bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was volume might be written on this deeplygathered unto his people." Whether,
Whether, interesting subject. In the present however, we accept this origin or not, at paper I have therefore only been able to any rate it is very certain that the no- lay before the reader a brief description tion has existed from the earliest times, of some of the most well-known ones; being ailuded to also by Socrates, Xen- but these are sufficient to show their ophon, and Diodorous Siculus. The general character. . They are valuable belief still exists in Lancashire and other in so far as they illustrate the ideas of our parts of England.
fellow-creatures at that solemn and inMany families, it is said, take their expressibly sacred moment which soon special warnings of death, which assume must overtake us all ; and when it comes special shapes. Thus, the ancient baro may it find us ready !-- Leisure Hour.
One of Sainte-Beuve's secretaries has ters to the Abbé Barbe, his old school. recently added a third volume, to the mate and almost unique confidant, are two volumes already published, of the of great interest and show us a side of “ Correspondance de Sainte-Beuve.”. Sainte-Beuve which we might perhaps It will probably be the last, for the have divined, but which he fully confideditor seems to have gone to the very ed to the Abbé Barbe alone. bottom of the basket, and many of the I find the following portrait of Sainteletters which he has included in the vol- Beuve in an unpublished letter of Ximeume contain nothing of interest but the nes Doudan, dated October 19, 1869 : signature. It was not to be expected that these letters, which have been col
“Yes, I am sad at the death of poor Sainte
Beuve. He was, in certain matters, superior lected so tardily, should contain revela
to all critics past and present. For a long time tions and surprises. But although they no book of importance will appear without our do not alter the general impression of asking involuntarily what Sainte-Beuve would Sainte-Beuve which we have obtained have thought of it. He had knowledge, taste, from the first two volumes of his letters, instincts that were thoroughly personal. He
imagination, a free style, and an opinion and there are nevertheless certain points on had also virtues which the somewhat capricious which they throw a new light. The let- vivacity of his hatreds caused to be dis
regarded. “M, Paradol has well said that he At this time, Sainte-Beuve had the died with the courageous serenity of an an. cient, as old Pliny would have died if he had reputation of being an ultraroinantic, died of sickness. Zealous persons will trans
fort exagéré en romantisme, as he says. late that by saying that he died like a Pagan. He was indeed a prominent member of It is also a singularity of mind and character to the famous Cénacle, over which Victor have so well understood the grand and sombre
Hugo presided, in the Rue Notre-Damesouls of Port-Royal, and to have entered boldly
des-Chainps, and the ardor of the lanand all alone into the little cell of Mount Par. nassus.
guage and passions of the long-haired
revolutionaries of literature may well Sainte-Beuve's correspondence bears have terrified a good abbé who had out Doudan's delicate portrait. Tnat which first strikes one, on reading his spent his whole life in the quiet town of letters, is the fact that from the first love and passion had been obtained from page to the last there are traces of but the sentimental pastorals of the eightone sole,and constant passion, literature.
eenth century. We shall seek in vain for juvenile effu
The poets of Victor Hugo's school, sions, generous illusions, or youthful Alfred de Vigny, Sainte-Beuve, Alfred de ardor. Sainte-Beuve was a man of pre
Musset, Antony Deschamps, were innococious maturity and premature old age,
vators, romantics in the full force of the and his life was from beginning to end term, writing in roman or the jargon of full of bitterness, lassitude and ennui. Still there is reason to believe that if the day, and rebelling against all archa
ism and traditions. But it was not so the course of his domestic life had been
much perhaps on account of the form different, we should not have been justi- that Sainte-Beuve apologized so gently fied in saying that love disturbed his for his poems ; it was on account of the senses rather than his soul. In Decem
matter. As for the unfortunate passion ber 1831 he writes to the Abbé Barbe :
to which he refers so frequently in his “I have had much grief within the last two letters to the Abbé Barbe, there is no months-grief of that kind which one avoids by reason to believe that it was so ideal as getting into port in good time. I have felt that he painted it. If it had been, and if he but which I desired. It is cruel and fixed, and had got into port, as he puts it, in good it has thrown into my life many necessities- time, his life might have been less unbitterness mingled with sweetness, and a duty
happy. But we must remember, once of sacrifice which will have its good effect,
for all, that in Sainte-Beuve there were though costing our nature dearly.'
two if not three men—there was the exWhat this particular passion was we quisite and profound critic; the poet are not told, but in the previous year, with high aspirations; and a very ugly, after writing to the Abbé Barbe at length shock-headed and red-haired animal man. on his religious doubts, he says: The critic is universally known and ap
“After many excesses in philosophy, and preciated, and his fame has almost utterafter much doubting, I have arrived, i hope, at ly eclipsed that of the poet, high as was the belief that there is no true repose here be
his inspiration, and elegant as was his low, except in religion ; in the orthodox, Catholic religion, practised with intelligence and
versification. But it is the soul of submission. But, alas ! as yet, for me that is Sainte-Beuve the poet that speaks in a simple theoretical result, or a result of inter- some of his best letters. Finally we nal experience ; and I am far from regulating come to the animal man, whose doings my life and actions by it as I should do. The
and instincts have been revealed only perpetual instability of my condition ; my want of fortune ; my literary necessities—all that too freely since his death. Unfortuhas thrown me into a manner of living in which nately Sainte-Beuve was endowed with There is nothing fixed or regulated ; and after an essentially amorous temperament, and a few hours of good resolutions I very soon
cursed with an ugliness such as women fall once again a prey to outside impressioiss, or, what is worse, to the abandonment of pas
cannot pardon. sions which no one perhaps has felt so cruelly
To his intense disgust women always as I have. That is what in my moments of offered him their friendship when he half-leisure I have tried to paint in my poems, asked for their love. He had a fine and which I have always been ashamed to send to you, and which I beg you not to read until I
subtle soul ; but the casket in which it have seen you in person and explained many
was stored was coarse and unpleasing. things to you."
At he tries a reconciliation of soul New Series.-Vol. XXXIII., No. 3
and body, from which attempt sprang
“Et ma mère aussi m'aime, his poems and novels, so strangely inter
Elle mourra pourtant." mingled with sensuality and mysticism. Given the prevalent fashion, the critic At last, he finds a reconciliation impos- concludes that the inspiration was wantsible ; a divorce takes place ; his soul ing. The inference is perhaps somebecomes more and more refined and more what hasty. Mdme. Sainte-Beuve was and more melancholy and weary in its an ordinary bourgeoise ; her chief care isolation, while the body abates none of was to repair her son's socks, and her its exigencies and abrogates none of its only anxiety was that he had chosen a rights. Hence the curious contrasts precarious and unlucrative profession, and contradictoriness of his life. His to wit, that of literature. On the other letters show that there really was an ad- hand there was no limit to her devotion, mirable unity of spirit in his existence. and from the day of his birth until the His will was always free ; his character, day of her death Sainte-Beuve was hardsensitive, disappointed and independent, ly ever out of his mother's sight. It and his well-balanced intellect brought a was she who brought him to Paris and rare lucidity to everything that it who put a heavy strain on her narrow touched. He remained, as he himself means in order that he might complete
"clearsighted even in his weak- his studies. nesses.'
Mdme. Sainte-Beuve died in DecemIt must not be supposed that, because ber 1850, after having lived to see her Sainte-Beuve allowed the purely animal son famous and independent. Sainteman to have his way, he lost any of Beuve was then forty-six years of age. those ideal qualities which are expressed The terms in which he tells the sad news by the word heart. On the contrary, his to his friend the Abbé Barbe do not bear ardor touched by constantly increasing out the conclusion that all the affection melancholy became converted into senti- had been on the side of the mother : mentality. The numerous letters which
“The death of my poor mother," he writes, he wrote to Mdme. Desbordes-Valmore, “although not unexpected, considering her the poetess, and the Comtesse de Fon- age, has been another blow for me; it was so tanes show of what his heart was cap
sudden. . . I used to think that I was lonely able. Later in life he regrets that he
before ; and I perceive now, for the first time,
that I am truly alone, and that I have no one had extinguished his flame (for reasons behind me." which we have seen above), but he proudly declares that he never perverted
Then he continues in the usual tone his heart.
of ennui : The culte of the mother has always “No more have I any one before me, for I been one of the most charming sides of have let pass the season of marriage and of French family life. The romantics fol. those ties which'bind us to the future. Of late, lowing therein the example set by their work. It is a manner of deceiving life, and if
I have thrown myself more than ever into my master, Victor Hugo, carried the literary in the eyes of those who, like you, have a subexpression of this mother-worship to the lime belief, it is only a palliative, it is, at least, highest degree of ideality. It became, the most honorable and least prejudicial that if we may say so without disrespect, the one could choose. The labor to which I have fashion to celebrate one's mother in minute for the agreeable relations of life, and
subjected myself is so severe that I have not a verse. Now Sainte-Beuve, who, it must scarcely even for the indispensable duties of not be forgotten, was a poet of a very society.” (“Nouvelle Correspondance," p. high order, and who is always cited by 124.) Théophile Gautier, the impeccable mas- The letters to the Abbé Barbe, which ter, side by side with Hugo, Lamartine, have been published for the first time in de Vigny, and Alfred de Musset- this new volume, are particularly inSainte-Beuve was a singular exception teresting on account of the confessions to this rule. A hostile critic has even which Sainte-Beuve makes concerning gone to the pains of searching Sainte- his religious doubts. In his first letter Beuve's poems, in which he found on to the Abbé from Paris, dated 1819, the the subject nothing but the following writer, being then fifteen years of age, comically dry line and a half :
speaks of religion as his great consola