2020.03.25 16:59 jenile [Review] Beggar's Rebellion by Levi Jacobs #SPFBO-5 Finalist!
2019.12.11 15:56 srslyjuststop Why The TREP Was Suspended
(Versión en español)submitted by srslyjuststop to BOLIVIA [link] [comments]
I've been reviewing public documents in an attempt to figure out exactly what happened on Election Day (October 20th 2019) in Bolivia to cause the stoppage of the TREP (non-binding preliminary vote count). This unexpected stoppage, followed by a late rally that expanded the MAS's lead just enough to win outright in the first round, led to accusations of electoral fraud that fueled a protest movement which eventually overthrew the government.
I think the suspension of the TREP was a result of the tension and lack of communication between Marcel Guzmán de Rojas, the director of NEOTEC, the firm which developed and administered the computer system that processed the votes, and Ethical Hacking, the Panamanian cybersecurity firm that was hired in the last few weeks by the TSE (Supreme Electoral Court, which oversees Bolivian elections) to audit the system then monitor it on Election Day. It's important to note that some MAS-aligned members of the TSE had hoped to develop their own system instead of continuing to rely on NEOTEC, who'd administered elections in Bolivia for decades, but their effort failed and NEOTEC, who had the support of the MAS's opposition, was rehired about five weeks before the election. The TSE reached out to Ethical Hacking about a week later on September 19th. It wouldn't be until October 4th, though, just 16 days before the election, when the first meeting between NEOTEC and Ethical Hacking was held, and the compressed pre-election schedule contributed to frictions between them. Guzmán de Rojas felt burdened by the additional demands on him, and the monitoring software that's so often mentioned in news reports was installed over the protests of Guzmán de Rojas, who expressed skepticism about it, fearing it could create conflicts with his own software and there wasn't enough time to test it adequately. When it was finally installed on his servers three days before the election, he only agreed because the TSE ordered it, and even then he had a contract drawn up in which he repeated his concerns, and he and Ethical Hacking's CEO Alvaro Andrade bickered over the details.
The day before Election Day, there was an event with government officials and electoral observers in which they reinitialized the databases, validated the election software, and preserved a copy of the source code, then had a verbal agreement not to make more changes or connect to the servers. However, shortly before midnight Guzmán de Rojas accessed one of the servers, which generated security alerts. Ethical Hacking called Guzmán de Rojas, who explained that in the earlier event, there wasn't enough time to reinitialize all the databases and he'd planned to finish the process later. Ethical Hacking asked him to disconnect from the server and not make any more changes, but hours later, early in the morning on Election Day, Guzmán de Rojas made two bugfixes to his code in response to errors caused by the arrival of the first tally sheets from overseas, which generated more security alerts and forced Ethical Hacking to redo its review from the day before. According to Ethical Hacking, these unauthorized changes "generated great suspicion and unease toward NEOTEC among the TSE board" and Guzmán de Rojas was forced to agree in writing to not make any more changes without the coordination and participation of the DNTIC (National IT Directorate) and Ethical Hacking. Also, throughout Election Day, Guzmán de Rojas and his staff regularly accessed the servers to check the logs despite the protests of the cybersecurity people, who preferred that it be done via their monitoring software. Reading the Ethical Hacking report, one gets the sense that Guzmán de Rojas saw them as a nuisance that could mostly be ignored as he went about his usual work. In fact, this was the first time that the TSE had hired a cybersecurity firm to monitor an election and Guzmán de Rojas must not have been used to such strict supervision. When he saw something that needed to be done, he sometimes did it without bothering with whatever protocols there might be.
The most serious problems emerged in the lead-up to the 7:45PM press conference at which the TSE board would announce the preliminary results. To facilitate this event, there was a planned stoppage of the generation of TREP results at 7:40PM, so that during the press conference, these results wouldn't change mid-announcement. However, also around this time, there was a large, unexpected increase in tally sheet verification traffic coming an unauthorized server known as bo1. This was the first of the so-called hidden servers, both of which were used to relay routine traffic to the servers that warehoused the electoral data, but it's important to note that, according to the OAS, this server had been active all day relaying tally sheet verification traffic from the SERECI (Civil Registry Service). Ethical Hacking should've sent a notification about this server earlier, since it wasn't in the list provided to them that morning by Guzmán de Rojas, but failed to do so.
When the number of HTTP requests from bo1 increased, an event which began around 7:30PM, 10 minutes after the peak of tally sheet verifications, this activity was flagged by Ethical Hacking, who saw that the traffic was for tally sheet verifications and it was coming from an unauthorized IP address. They tried to call Guzmán de Rojas - who was working at the SERECI offices where the tally sheets were being verified, instead of with Ethical Hacking at the TSE offices - but couldn't reach him. They also consulted the DNTIC about the server, but they didn't recognize it. After two failed attempts to contact Guzmán de Rojas, they sounded a "maximum alert" to the TSE. Guzmán de Rojas says that at around 8:10 PM the utilities at the SERECI offices were cut, which put a stop to tally sheet verifications. Minutes later at 8:15 PM, he received a call from the TSE in which he was ordered to halt the TREP and to come to an urgent meeting at the TSE offices.
It's worth stopping for a moment to consider the explanation Guzmán de Rojas later gave of this unauthorized bo1 server:
(Note: Transmission operators are functionaries present at polling places who use an Android app developed by NEOTEC to transcribe each tally sheet and take a photo of it, sending this data to a cloud server operated by NEOTEC so that it can then be validated by the verification operators at the SERECI who independently transcribe the photo of the tally sheet.)In his reports, he's vague about the reason for the error, only saying he should've used another server but failed to do so. In their report, Ethical Hacking describe how they performed an extensive security review of this server shortly after the stoppage, reviewing all its logs and checking for any malicious software, and found nothing to contradict Guzmán de Rojas. It really does seem that it was just some test server that was active when it shouldn't have been. Also, he showed the others that this server was where he stored historical data from previous elections, which would seem to support his claim about it being a test server.
What's absolutely clear is that the TSE wasn't in on this at all. Around 8:30PM, everyone meets at the TSE offices and, according to Ethical Hacking, an extremely tense scene ensues:
By this time, the president of the TSE and the board members, except for Dr. Costas, started to accuse Marcel Guzmán de Rojas of committing fraud. The situation became untenable. Everyone started shouting and accusing him of fraud. There was talk of calling the Attorney General, of calling the police. We had to intervene to calm the mood of the meeting.Again, it simply does not make sense that the TSE was behind this server. What happened clearly took them by surprise and they were extremely hostile toward Guzmán de Rojas. This detail is not in any report, but a friend told me that he'd spoken to an ex-minister from the MAS who suspected Guzmán de Rojas had sabotaged the election, which seems unlikely but does help illustrate just how much the MAS distrusts him.
According to Guzmán de Rojas, the TSE presented him with three reasons at the 8:30PM meeting to justify their stoppage of the TREP:
1: The use of an unmonitored server, bo1.You can tell right away from the first two reasons that the inciting event of this entire catastrophe was the maximum alert about bo1. That's why they stopped the TREP. Because they thought the computer system was being manipulated. In fact, Ethical Hacking says that at the 8:30PM meeting it was again ordered that the TREP be stopped "until what happened can be verified" and it's clear this is a reference to the bo1 server. However, the TSE was alerted about more than just that server. Ethical Hacking also notified the TSE about cyberattacks from Colombia. Here's how the board member Edgar Gonzalez described it:
Regarding the bo1 server, Gonzáles claimed that it was the audit firm Ethical Hacking that pointed out that error, for which the whole board was called to a meeting where the board member Antonio Costas wasn't present. That meeting was between 8:30PM and 9:00PM on Election Day.In Ethical Hacking's report, there's a section about this event, which they describe as a possible denial of service attack. According to a 6:58 PM email in their report, the public TREP results website had received over a million HTTP requests in less than an hour from a single IP address. Using a simple whois, I found that the IP address belongs to Centro Nacional de Consultoria in Bogotá, Colombia. Based on their website, they're a firm that does market research and corporate consulting, but most importantly they are a parent company of ViaCiencia, one of the principal polling firms for the election and the only one certified by the government to perform a quick count on Election Day. All their requests were for resources of the form
(Note: The website was deactivated in January 2020.)
It's clear from this and the large number of requests being generated that they were only scraping the TREP election results website, but there's a thin line between scraping and a denial of service attack, and these folks in Bogotá crossed it. The obvious solution to a single IP address drowning you in requests is to block it, but it's not clear that this happened. Ethical Hacking had no credentials to log in to the servers - only the notifications from their monitoring software - and may have had trouble reaching the person who did have the logins: Guzmán de Rojas. According to Edgar Gonzalez, word about this supposed cyberattack reached him as part of the alert about bo1, which helped set off a panic that resulted in the suspension of the TREP.
In his October 28th report, Guzmán de Rojas admits he shouldn't have used the bo1 server for the election, but insists the traffic level was absolutely normal. Ethical Hacking disagrees, claiming it's impossible for legitimate SERECI tally sheet verification traffic to reach "30,000 HTTP requests every 30 seconds," a figure taken from this traffic graph in their report:
Warning: The times in this graph are all one hour early, which is because Ethical Hacking is based in Panama. Also, you can see that Ethical Hacking's '30,000 requests per 30s' is actually 30,000 requests *per 5 minutes* (=3,000 per 30s).
This question of what constitutes normal traffic seems like the only point where Guzmán de Rojas and Ethical Hacking are in serious conflict about the facts. I'm inclined to trust Guzmán de Rojas here since it's his system and Ethical Hacking only had two weeks of experience with it. (Click here for a discussion of the bo1 traffic spike.)
At the end of Guzmán de Rojas's claim that the traffic was normal, he makes this comment:
If the use of the bo1 server and an increase in traffic were considered anomalies, this should've been warned about and cleared up before 7:30PM.And he's right! Ethical Hacking should've flagged traffic from bo1 much earlier. You can see in their owb graph that bo1, the green line, had been active long before the labeled spike. In fact, the OAS says it had been active all day. It's possible Ethical Hacking didn't pay attention to it because, like the authorized servers, it had an IP address in a range reserved for private networks (format: 10.x.x.x), which really ought to have given them more pause about sending a maximum alert.
That traffic graph can be combined with other evidence to reconstruct some of the timeline of the TREP stoppage. The number of HTTP requests from bo1 began to spike at around 7:30PM Bolivia time. In their report, Ethical Hacking claims to have detected the traffic increase right at 7:30PM, but they may not have actually noticed until some minutes later, since the traffic level then was about equal with the previous peak. They called Guzmán de Rojas twice without success and consulted with the DNTIC, after which they sent their maximum alert to the TSE. I believe the TSE only learned about this alert between 7:53-7:58PM. I say this because from 7:50-7:53PM there was the TSE's preliminary results press conference, which was attended by all the board members, and none appear to be alarmed or hurried. The TSE president, María Eugenia Choque, even ends the event noting that there were still many rural votes to be counted, which would seem to imply she believed the TREP would continue. The latest the TSE would've learned about this alert was 7:58PM, which corresponds to the apparent first attempt to cut the SERECI's internet. This can be seen in unreleased electoral data which shows a 5-second pause followed by a change in the SERECI's IP address at 7:58:07PM, which appears to be their backup line. Then, at 8:06:44PM, their first IP address was restored and seconds later at 8:07PM, all tally sheet verifications ceased, so the utilities must've been cut. After this, according to Guzmán de Rojas, the TSE board (minus Costas) called him around 8:15PM and ordered him to halt the TREP.
If you'll recall, there was a third reason given to Guzmán de Rojas for the TREP suspension: a sudden change in trend between the MAS and CC. And for all the media coverage this reason has received, you'd think that it was the only one. It's taken for granted that the TSE had no real complaint except that the result appeared unfavorable for the MAS, but there's reason to believe there really was an apparent sudden change in trend. In particular, in this interview (and this one) Álvaro Andrade of Ethical Hacking says that in the lead-up to the press conference, there was a sharp reduction in the MAS's margin of victory over CC, which abruptly declined from 11-12 points to seven points, and that this prompted a request from the TSE to verify these numbers. Andrade explained way the decline by citing the verification of tally sheets from Santa Cruz, whose voters tend to oppose the MAS, but the problem with all of this is that, based on the public data, at no point did the MAS ever have an 11-12 point lead in the presidential election. It's not clear what occurred, but one striking detail that could explain it comes from the November 4th NEOTEC report, in which Guzmán de Rojas explains that the TREP system was set up to serially replicate election data from a primary server to a secondary server, then from this secondary server to a tertiary server, after which this tertiary server would serve as the data source for the TREP website. However, around 7:00 PM on Election Night the data replication process across these servers was unexpectedly slow, with the result that the tertiary server had a dataset that was, at most, about half the size of that of the first server. To ensure the press conference was held with the more complete data set, Guzmán de Rojas says he reconfigured the website to instead reference the first server, whose dataset was at least twice as large as the others'. It's possible that the phantom 11-12 point lead reflected an incomplete data set on the tertiary server, and that when the switch was made to the first server, this gave the appearance of a sudden change in trend. In his October 28th report, Guzmán de Rojas argued there was no change in trend, which he later interpreted as a lead change between the two parties, but it appears only to have been a question of whether the MAS would win outright in the first round. At the 8:30PM meeting, he tried to clear up the TSE board's concerns, but they weren't convinced and decided not to resume the TREP.
Also, in the OAS report, a shadowy figure appears at this time. A advisor who's not on any employee lists but is vouched for by the TSE. They withheld his name in the OAS report, but Alvaro Andrade later named him in an interview. This advisor is one Sergio Martínez. According to his LinkedIn profile, he'd recently done IT work at the National Institute of Statistics and had worked other government jobs prior. He began work as an IT contractor for the SERECI on October 8th, only four days after Ethical Hacking's own start. He appears in passing multiple times in the Ethical Hacking report, always in routine professional contexts: in two emails about security patches and audits on the 15th and in another from the 18th after he provided Andrade with a protocol to reinitialize the databases. He was also present for meetings after the TREP interruption on Election Night, where he appears to have proposed the configuration of a new perimeter server - bo20, the second of the hidden servers - that would be used for the verification of the remaining tally sheets, likely to resolve the conflict between Marcel Guzmán de Rojas and the TSE board, some of whom distrusted Marcel and had accused him of fraud. In a report provided to the OAS, the DNTIC said that this bo20 server was configured a day later by all of the important technical personnel: the DNTIC, NEOTEC, and Ethical Hacking (SIM SRL).
In his November 4th report to the TSE, Guzmán de Rojas offers this description of bo20:
On election night at the 20:00 (sic) meeting, the TSE decided to replace the bo1 server with a new server, bo20. This server was created and configured in the TSE's Amazon AWS server space. Just like the server bo1, the new server is a simple gateway, a reverse proxy using Nginx.It's clear from statements he's made that he thought the TSE's complaints about bo1 and the excessive traffic were baseless, but there was no way of placating them except with another gateway server that was, as he explained, just like the one it was replacing.
The next day, according to NEOTEC's October 28th report, there was a meeting at 12:30PM between Guzmán de Rojas and the TSE where they all hashed out how to proceed. It was there that it was decided that the internet would be restored to the SERECI offices, the remaining TREP tally sheets would be processed, and then the publication of results would resume once this was completed. Also, a new IP address, this one belonging to the new bo20 server, was given to the SERECI by the DNTIC director for the verification of the remaining actas. Around 2:30PM, the SERECI had its internet restored and their TREP operators began to process tally sheets again. It would be another four hours, at 6:30PM, before the order was given to resume the publication of results, which resulted in a sharp discontinuity when the public website updated for the first time in nearly a day. In that time, 3831 tally sheets were verified and the MAS's margin over CC had grown from 7.87% to 10.15%, pushing it just over the critical 10% margin needed to win outright in the first round.
The rest of the story is less interesting, although some errors and bad practices are shocking for a production system in a national election. It all occurs in the Cómputo (official vote count) and it's scene after scene in which, say, there's a correction requested by an electoral official or a database error, so the DNTIC grants Marcel VPN access and he fixes the mistake in the only way he can: with a SQL command, as I'm sure he's done a million times in a million other elections. In most cases he appears to have permission from government officials, but he's not observed performing the changes. He simply does it, then documents in an email the SQL command he used, and then Ethical Hacking complains that he's not following procedure. There's also a WhatsApp chat log at the end of the Ethical Hacking report that shows there was an informal system between Windsor Saire, the director of the DNTIC, and Marcel Guzmán de Rojas which the two tried to document via email but which didn't appear to include the in-person supervision of Marcel.
(Note: There have been many complaints about the use of these SQL commands, which is terrible practice and even worse within the context of an election, but according to the contract Guzmán de Rojas had drawn up, the database (MySQL) history files on the TREP servers were being monitored in real time. After that second bug fix in the morning on Election Day, he said, 'With the bash (Linux command line) and MySQL history files, you can see what I did.' I'd expect Ethical Hacking to have monitored the same logs on the Cómputo servers, although it's unclear to me if this is the case. At any rate, if Guzmán de Rojas's emails are accurate, these SQL commands were all corrections of erroneous status values, not edits to vote totals.)
I'm confident there wasn't any data manipulation during the outage, and I think the belief that there was is due to the enormity of the technical fuck-ups and the bitterness of the political divisions in the country. Why? Because the final margin is predictable based on pre-interruption trends. Also, the OAS hasn't pointed to discrepancies between the digital and physical records, which for me would constitute strong evidence of data manipulation.
UPDATE #2: Ex-TSE vice president Antonio Costas, who voted against certifying Evo Morales's candidacy and was the only board member with an IT background, points to human error as well. Some choice quotes from this October 23rd article:
"I get word that my colleagues (board members) were meeting with [Ethical Hacking] and NEOTEC. What happened is that there's a security protocol between the two firms and a part of the data was migrated in order to publish the data to another server, a movement which needed to be coordinated. [Ethical Hacking] detects this situation, and I think in this there was an excessively zealous protocol. Instead of making a big fuss, they should've sat down and looked at what happened. (...) They should've warned us," he said in an interview with Unitel.(Other interviews: CNN, La Revista al Día, PAT, NTN, RED+. There's this, too, from 11 days before the election. Costas says that Ethical Hacking was "very demanding", but that they were helping to formalize processes that were somewhat improvisational and this would ultimately improve the TSE as an institution.)
UPDATE #3: The EU also published a report with a few interesting details. They explain that the TSE's original plan with the TREP was to make a single announcement at 8:00PM to avoid confusion with the official count, which they had done in prior elections, but 10 days before the election, under outside pressure, they agreed to two more announcements, one at midnight and another later on the 21st. It seems that, with the decision to suspend the TREP, the TSE tried to fall back to their original plan and in effect wash their hands of the TREP right there, but ultimately gave in to calls to resume it. Also, in the lead-up to the election, there were many dismissals and resignations of key TSE staff, which reduced its technical expertise for the election. It's possible this made the TSE more dependent on its contractors to perform the technical roles.
UPDATE #4: I obtained new electoral data and used it to make a timeline (in Spanish) of the progression of the TREP during the period when the publication of results was halted. The exact time of the interruption was 8:07 PM, at which point the MAS had a 9.02% lead with 95.06% of tally sheets transmitted and 89.98% verified in the presidential race.
UPDATE #5: I missed this uncharacteristically informative November 18th piece from Página Siete where Guzmán de Rojas and Andrade snipe at each other. Guzmán de Rojas denies BO1 was an unknown server, insisting it had been used in testing two days before the election and Andrade should've complained then. He also claims Andrade's erroneous "30,000 HTTP requests per 30 seconds" is a deliberate lie. For his part, Andrade says all the errors were the fault of Guzmán de Rojas, who violated the security protocol over and over. One odd detail is Andrade claims to have received a notification about BO1 at 6:49 (PM). This seems an hour too soon, so I assume he's citing it for the wrong time zone and actually means 7:49 PM, but I'm not sure.
UPDATE #6: A point which needs to be underlined is that NEOTEC (read: Guzmán de Rojas) was the only one with access to the TREP servers. Not even the government had logins. This point has been made by everyone. The TSE board said it. Alvaro Andrade said it. In fact, Guzmán de Rojas first appears in Andrade's report refusing to give him logins. It was the first item in that contract of his, too. DNTIC director Windsor Saire said it. Even Sergio Martinez said it. Any theory of data manipulation that doesn't centrally involve Guzmán de Rojas - who had a long track record, the support of the opposition, and was viewed skeptically by the MAS - is questionable.
2019.11.10 18:13 ryu289 Apparently trans people aren't allowed to defend themselves
The motive, according to police, was that McClimans (a/k/a “Claire Wolfever”) had recently revealed to his co-workers at Wal-Mart his intent to undergo gender reassignment, and didn’t like Hall’s reaction to this news. McClimans, 22, claimed to feel “threatened” by Hall, and had filed a complaint with Wal-Mart management, which was under investigation at the time of the November shooting. McClimans was charged with attempted murder and is awaiting trial.No...Hall made actual threats apparently. https://www.wcn247.com/titanradio/our_community/wal-mart-shooting-suspect-says-he-endured-threats-over-gendearticle_775729dd-f8b7-5e7e-8740-80f7cbdef70f.html Apparently this wasn't disapproval
In January 2017, two months after McClimans shot Hall, another transgender employee of the same Wal-Mart had an encounter with police. A domestic violence call came into 911 from a woman who said her daughter (who was transitioning from female to male) had held a knife to her throat. When police officers responded to the scene, Sean Marie Hake (a/k/a Sean Ryan) was wielding a razor box-cutter:Yes because parents can never be the cause of such domestic violence...https://www.wfmj.com/story/36330311/sharon-police-answer-suit-filed-over-transgender-shooting-death
Mercer County, Pennsylvania, is not a major urban area. It’s across the border from Youngstown, Ohio, and the county’s largest town, Hermitage, has a population of less than 17,000. Yet twice in a two-month span, local law enforcement was forced to deal with “Trannies Gone Wild” situations. This relates to a fact cited by the feminist site 4th Wave Now, which points out, “gender dysphoria occurs with troubling frequency in concert with a range of other mental disturbances, including personality disorders, depression, anxiety, and autism.”Yes, but gender dysphoria is not the cause...https://www.reddit.com/AskSocialScience/comments/dlmxyx/why_is_there_a_high_comorbidity_between_gende https://web.archive.org/web/20190505202832/https://genderanalysis.net/2015/09/paul-mchugh-is-wrong-transitioning-is-effective-gender-analysis-10/
Given what we know about the dangerous prevalence of mental illness in the transgender population, isn’t a certain level of “transphobia” warranted? Zachary McClimans claimed to feel “threatened” by Jayson Hall, but who was it that got shot four times? And what about Sean Hake’s mother, who said her daughte“son” had held a knife to her throat? The media ignore this angle, however, and focus on the social-justice victimhood narrative.Mainly because the mental illness angle is a red herring.
Tim Teeman of the Daily Beast is strictly following the victimhood narrative in asking, “Why Are So Many Transgender Women of Color Being Killed in America?” He leads with the case of Troy “TeeTee” Dangerfield, who was shot to death in the southside Atlanta suburb of College Park. If you know anything at all about the Atlanta area, murder in College Park isn’t usually a national headline kind of story. The population of College Park is about 80% black, and 75% of residents live in rental properties. The FBI has identified College Park as “statistically the region’s most unsafe community.” Getting murdered in College Park isn’t particularly difficult, and most of the crime victims there are “people of color,” so it’s unlikely “TeeTee” Dangerfield was killed because of his/“her” transgender status.Well...https://www.theroot.com/1797518786 https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/Meaningful%2520Work-Full%2520Report_FINAL_3.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjznqHAkeDlAhUuhOAKHZTvB_YQFjAAegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw0Eyo5bS5Lc7chXbNpNXd_k
If you look at the odd coincidence of two transgender Wal-Mart employees in Pennsylvania both being involved in violent incidents, and suggest that this might signify something about the connection between transgenderism and mental illness, you’re obviously a bigot.No, you are a bigot because you confuse correlation with causation...
In 21st-century America, crazy men who think they’re women and crazy women who think they’re men are both subjects of fake news by the fake media, which refuse to employ any sane or honest people.And you are sane for ignoring evidence? https://web.archive.org/web/20190505202832/https://genderanalysis.net/2015/09/paul-mchugh-is-wrong-transitioning-is-effective-gender-analysis-10/
2019.09.15 20:00 candlejackstraw Today's Tutorial! 8x10 Church and Bridge, Local Scene. On stonehendge aqua paper, hake, rigger, quin gold, indigo and brown madder :) I have links to my different social medias in the comments if you would like to follow along https://youtu.be/aFdad1oSjgk
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2019.08.08 15:27 MarleyEngvall that's e has been created
By Nathaniel Hawthorne THE PROPHETIC PICTURES.* *This story was suggested by an anecdote of Stuart related in Dunlap's History of the Arts of Designs——a most entertaining book to the gen- eral reader, and a deeply-interesting one, we should think, to the artist. "But this painter!" cried Walter Ludlow, with animation. "He not only excels in his peculiar art, but possesses vast acquirements in all other learning and science. He talks Hebrew with Dr. Mather and gives lectures in anatomy to Dr. Boylston. In a word, he will meet the best-in- structed man among us on his own ground. More- over, he is a polished gentleman——a citizen of the world——yes, a true cosmopolite; for he will speak like a native of each clime and country on the globe, except our own forests whither he is now going. Nor is all this what I most admire in him." "Indeed!" said Elinor, who had listened with a woman's interest to the description of such a man. "Yet this is admirable enough." "Surely it is," replied her lover, "but far less so than his natural gift of adapting himself to every variety of character, insomuch as all men——and all women, too, Elinor——shall find a mirror of themselves in this wonderful painter. But the greatest wonder is yet to be told." "Nay, if he have more wonderful attributes than these," said Elinor, laughing, "Boston is a perilous abode for the poor gentleman. Are you telling me of a painter, or a wizard?" "In truth," answered he, that question might be asked much more seriously than you suppose. They say that he paints not merely a man's features, but his mind and heart. He catches the secret sentiments and passions and throws them upon the canvas like sunshine, or perhaps, in portraits of dark-souled men, like a gleam of infernal fire. It is an awful gift," added Walter, lowering his voice from its tone of enthusiasm. "I shall be almost afraid to sit to him." "Walter, are you in earnest?" exclaimed Elinor. "For Heaven's sake, dearest Elinor, do not let him paint the look which you now wear," said her lover, smiling, though rather perplexed. "There, it is passing away now; but when you spoke you seemed frightened to death, and very sad besides. What were you thinking of?" "Nothing, nothing!" answered Elinor, hastily, "You may paint my face with your own fantasies. Well, come for me to-morrow, and we will visit this won- derful artist." But when the young man had departed, it cannot be denied that a remarkable expression was again visible on the fair and youthful face of his mistress. It was a sad and anxious look, little in accordance with what should have been the feelings of a maiden on the eve of wedlock. Yet Walter Ludlow was the chosen of her heart. "A look!" said Elinor to herself. "No wonder that it startled him if it expressed what I sometimes feel. I know by my own experience how frightful a look may be. But it was all fancy. I thought nothing of it at the time; I have seen nothing of it since; I did but dream it." And she busied herself about the embroidery of a ruff in which she meant that her portrait should be taken. The painter of whom they had been speaking was not one of those native artists who, at a later period than this, borrowed their colors from the Indians and manufactured their pencils of the furs of wild beasts. Perhaps, if he could have revoked his life and prearranged his destiny, he might have chosen to belong to that school without a master in the hope of being at least original, since there were no works of art to imitate nor rules to follow. But he had been born and educated in Europe. People said that he had studied the grandeur or beauty of conception and every touch of the master-hand in all the most famous pictures in cabinets and galleries and on the walls of churches till there was nothing more for his for his powerful mind to learn. Art could add nothing to its lessons, but Nature might. He had, therefore, visited a world whither none of his professional brethren had preceded him, to feast his eyes on visible images that were noble and picturesque, yet had never been transferred to canvas. America was too poor to afford other temptations to an artist of eminence, though many of the colonial gentry, on the painter's arrival, had expressed a wish to transmit their lineaments to posterity by means of his skill. Whenever such pro- posals were made, he fixed his piercing eyes on the applicant and seemed to look him through and through. If he beheld only a sleek and comfortable visage, though there were a gold-laced coat to adorn the picture and golden guineas to pay for it, he civilly rejected the task and the reward. But if the face were the index of anything uncommon in thought, sentiment or experience; or if he met a beggar in the street with a white beard and a fur- rowed brow; or if sometimes a child happened to look up and smile; he would exhaust all the art on them that he denied to wealth. Pictorial skill became so rare in the colonies, the painter became an object of general curiosity. If few or none could appreciate the technical merit of his productions, yet there were points in regard to which the opinion of the crowd was as valuable as the refined judgment of the amateur. He watched the effect that each picture produced on such unuttered beholders, and derived profit from their remarks, while they would as soon have thought of instructing Nature herself as him who seemed to rival her. Their admiration, it must be owned, was tinctured with the prejudices of the age and coun- try. Some deemed it an offense against the Mosaic law, and even a presumptuous mockery of the Creator, to bring into existence such lively images of his creatures. Others, frightened at the art which could raise phantoms at will and keep the form of the dead among the living, were inclined to con- sider the painter as a magician, or perhaps the famous Black Man of old witch-times plotting mis- chief in a new guise. These foolish fancies were more than half believed among the mob. Even in superior circles his character was invested with a vague awe, partly rising like smoke-wreaths from the popular superstitions, but chiefly caused by the varied knowledge and talents which he made sub- servient to his profession. Being on the verge of marriage, Walter Ludlow and Elinor were eager to obtain their portraits as the first of what, they doubtless hoped, would be a long series of family pictures. The day after the conversation above recorded they visited the painter's rooms. A servant ushered them into an apartment where, though the artist himself was not visible, there were personages whom they could hardly forbear greeting with reverence. They knew, indeed, that the whole assembly were but pictures, yet felt it impossible to separate the idea of life and intellect from such striking counterfeits. Several of the portraits were known to them either as distin- guished characters of the day or their private acquaintances. There was Governor Burnett, look- ing as if he had just received an undutiful communi- cation from the House of Representatives and were inditing a most sharp response. Mr. Cook hung beside the ruler whom he opposed, sturdy and somewhat puritanical, as befitted a popular leader. The ancient lady of Sir William Phipps eyed them from the wall in ruff and farthingale, an imperious old dame not unsuspected of witchcraft. John Winslow, then a very young man, wore the expres- sion of warlike enterprise which long afterward made him a distinguished general. Their personal friends were recognized at a glance. In most of the pictures the whole mind and character were brought out on the countenance and concentrated into a single look; so that, to speak paradoxically the originals hardly resembled themselves so strik- ingly as the portraits did. Among these modern worthies there were two old bearded saints who had almost vanished into the darkening canvas. There was also a pale but unfaded Madonna, who had perhaps been worshiped in Rome, and now regarded the lovers with such a mild and holy look that they longed to worship too. "How singular a thought," observed Walter Lud- low, "that this beautiful face has been beautiful for above two hundred years! Oh, if all beauty would endure so well! Do you not envy her, Elinor?" "If heaven were earth, I might," she replied. "But where all things fade, how miserable to be the one that could not fade!" "This dark old St. Peter has a fierce and ugly scowl, saint though he be," continued Walter; "he troubles me. But the Virgin looks kindly at us." "Yes, but very sorrowfully, methinks," said Elinor. The easel stood beneath these three old pictures, sustaining one that had been recently commenced. After a little inspection they began to recognize the features of their own minister, the Rev. Dr. Colman, growing into shape and life, as it were, out of a cloud. "Kind old man!" exclaimed Elinor. "He gazes at me as if he were about to utter a word of pa- ternal advice." "And at me," said Walter, as if he were about to hake his head and rebuke me for some sus- pected iniquity. But so does the original. I shall never feel quite comfortable under his eye till we stand before him to be married." They now heard a footstep on the floor, and turning, beheld the painter, who had been some moments in the room and had listened to a few of their remarks. He was a middle-aged man with a countenance well worthy of his own pencil. In- deed, by the picturesque though careless arrange- ment of his rich dress, and perhaps because his soul dwelt always among painted shapes, he looked somewhat like a portrait himself. His visitors were sensible of a kindred between the artist and his works, and felt as if one of the pictures had stepped from the canvas to salute them. Walter Ludlow, who was slightly known to the painter, explained the object of their visit. While he spoke a sunbeam was falling athwart his figure and Elinor's, with so happy an effect that they also seemed living pictures of youth and beauty glad- dened by bright fortune. The artist was evidently struck. "My easel is occupied for several ensuing days, and my stay in Boston must be brief," said he thoughtfully; then, after an observant glance, he added, "but your wishes shall be gratified though I disappoint the chief-justice and Madam Oliver. I must not lose this opportunity for the sake of painting a few ells of broadcloth and brocade." The painter expressed a desire to introduce both their portraits into one picture and represent them engaged in some appropriate action. This plan would have delighted the lovers, but was necessarily rejected because so large a space of canvas would have been unfit for the room which it was intended to decorate. Two half-length portraits were there- fore fixed upon. After they take their leave, Wal- ter Ludlow asked Elinore, with a smile, whether she knew what an influence over their fates the painter was about to acquire. "The old women of Boston affirm," continued he, "that after he once got possession of a per- son's face and figure he may paint him in any act or situation whatever, and the picture will be prophetic. Do you believe it?" "Not quite," said Elinor, smiling. "Yet if he has such magic, there is something so gentle in his manner that I am sure he will use it well." It was the painter's choice to proceed with both the portraits at the same time, assigning as a reason, in the mystical language which he sometimes used, that the faces threw light upon each other. Accord- ingly, he gave now a touch to Walter and now to Elinor, and the features of one and the other began to start forth so vividly that it appeared as if his triumphant art would actually disengage them from the canvas. Amid the rich light and deep shade they beheld their phantom selves, but, though the likeness promised to be perfect, they were not quite satisfied with the expression; it seemed more vague than in most of the painter's works. He, however, was satisfied with the prospect of success, and, being much interested in the lovers, employed his leisure moments, unknown to them, in making a crayon sketch of their two figures. During their sittings he engaged them in conversation and kindled up their faces with characteristic traits, which, though continually varying, it was his pur- pose to combine and fix. At length he announced that at their next visit both the portraits would be ready for delivery. "If my pencil will but be true to my conception in the few last touches which I meditate," observed he, "these two pictures will be my very best per- formances. Seldom indeed has an artist such sub- jects." While speaking he still bent his penetrative eye upon them, nor withdrew it till they had reached the bottom of the stairs. Nothing in the whole circle of human vanities takes stronger hold of the imagination that this affair of having a portrait painted. Yet why should it be so? The looking-glass, the polished globes of the andirons, the mirror-like water, and all other reflecting surfaces, continually present us with the por- traits——or, rather, ghosts——of our selves which we glance at and straightaway forget them. But we forget them only because they vanish. It is the idea of duration——of earthly immortality——that gives such a mysterious interest to our own portraits. Walter and Elinor were not insensible to this feeling, and hastened to the painter's room punctu- ally at the appointed hour to meet those pictured shapes which were to be their representatives with posterity. The sunshine flashed after them into the apartment, but left it somewhat gloomy as they closed the door. Their eyes were im- mediately attracted to their portraits, which rested against the farthest wall of the room. At the first glance through the dim light and the distance, seeing themselves in precisely their natural attitudes and with all the air that they recognized so well, they uttered a simultaneous exclamation of delight. "There we stand," cried Walter, enthusiasti- cally, "fixed in sunshine forever. No dark passions can gather on our faces." "No," said Elinor, more calmly; "no dreary change can sadden us." This was said while they were approaching and had yet gained only an imperfect view of the pictures. The painter, after saluting them, busied himself at a table in completing a crayon sketch, leaving his visitors to form their own judgment as to his perfected labors. At intervals he sent a glance from beneath his deep eyebrows, watching their countenances in profile with his pencil sus- pended over the sketch. They had now stood some moments, each in front of the other's picture, contemplating it with entranced attention, but without uttering a word. At length Walter stepped forward, then back, viewing Elinor's portrait in various lights, and finally spoke. "Is there not a change?" said he in a doleful and meditative tone. "Yes; the perception of it grows more vivid the longer I look. It is certainly the same picture that I saw yesterday; the dress, the features, all the same, and yet something is altered." "Is then, the picture less like than it was yester- day?" inquired the painter, now drawing near with irrepressible interest. "The features are perfect, Elinor," answered Walter, "and at the first glance the expression seemed also hers; but I could fancy that the por- trait has changed countenance while I have been looking at it. The eyes are fixed on mine with a strangely sad and anxious expression. Nay, it is grief and terror. Is this like Elinor?" "Compare the living face with the pictured one," said the painter. Walter glanced sidelong at his mistress, and started. Motionless and absorbed, fascinated, as it were, in contemplation of Walter's portrait, Elinor's face had assumed precisely the expres- sion of which he had just been complaining. Had she practiced for whole hours before a mir- ror, she could not have caught the look so suc- cessfully. Had the picture itself been a mirror, it could not have thrown back her present aspect with stronger and more melancholy truth. She appeared quite unconscious of the dialogue e- tween the artist and her lover. "Elinor," exclaimed Walter, in amazement, "what change has come over you?" She did not hear him or desist from her fixed gaze till he seized her hand, and thus attracted her notice; then with a sudden tremor she looked from the picture to the face of the original. "Do you see no change in your portrait?" asked she. "In mine? None," replied Walter, examining it. "But let me see. Yes; there is a slight change——an improvement, I think, in the picture, though none in the likeness. It has a livelier ex- pression than yesterday, as if some bright thought were flashing from the eyes and about to be uittered from the lips. Now that I have caught the look, it becomes very decided." While he was intent on these observations Elinor trusted to the painter. She regarded him with grief and awe, and felt that he repaid her with sympathy and commiseration, though wherefore she could but vaguely guess. "That look," whispered she, and shuddered. "How came it there?" "Madam," said the painter, sadly, taking her hand and leading her apart, "in both these pict- ures I have painted what I saw. The artist——the true artist——must look beneath the exterior. It is his gift——his proudest, but often a melancholy one ——to see the inmost soul, and by a power indefin- able even to himself to make it glow or darken upon the canvas in glances that express the thought and sentiment of years. Would that I might con- vince myself of error in the present instance!" They had now approached the table, on which were heads in chalk, hands almost as expensive as ordinary faces, ivied church-towers, thatched cot- tages, old thunder-stricken trees, Oriental and an- tique costume, and all such picturesque vagaries of an artist's idle moments. Turning them over with seeming carelessness, a crayon sketch of two figures was disclosed. "If I have failed," continued he——"if your heart does not see itself reflected in your own portrait, if you have no secret cause to trust my delineation of the other——it is not yet too late to alter them. I might change the action of these figures too. But would it influence the event?" He directed her notice to the sketch. A thrill ran through Elinor's frame; a shriek was upon her lips, but she stifled it with the self- command that becomes habitual to all who hide thoughts of fear and anguish within their bosoms. Turning from the table, she perceived that Walter had advanced near enough to have seen the sketch, though she could not determine whether it had caught his eye. "We will not have the pictures altered," said she, hastily. "If mine is sad, I shall but look the gayer for the contrast." "Be it so," answered the painter, bowing, "May your griefs be such fanciful ones that only your picture may mourn for them! For your joys, may they be true and deep, and paint themselves upon this lovely face till it quite belie my art!" After the marriage of Walter and Elinor the pict- ures formed the two most splendid ornaments of their abode. They hung side by side, separated by a narrow panel, appearing to the eye each other constantly, yet always returning the gaze of the spectator. Traveled gentlemen who professed a knowledge of such subjects reckoned these among the most admirable specimens of modern portrait- ure, while common observers compared them with the originals, feature by feature, and were rapturous in praise of the likeness. But it was on a third class——neither traveled connoisseurs nor common observers, but people of natural sensibility——that the pictures wrought their strongest effect. Such per- sons might gaze carelessly at first, but, becoming interested, would return day after day and study these painted faces like the pages of a mystic vol- ume. Walter Ludlow's portrait attracted their earliest notice. In the absence of himself and his bride they sometimes disputed as to the expression which the painter had intended to throw upon the features, all agreeing that there was a look of earnest import, though no two explained it alike. There was less diversity of opinion in regard to Elinor's picture. They differed, indeed, in their attempts to estimate the nature and depth of the gloom that dwelt upon her face, but agreed that it was gloom and alien from the natural temperament of their youthful friend. A certain fanciful person an- nounced as the result of much scrutiny that both these pictures were part of one design, and that the melancholy strength of feeling in Elinor's coun- tenance bore reference to the more vivid emotion ——or, as he termed it, the wild passion——in that of Walter. Though unskilled in the art, he even began a sketch in which the action of the two figures was to correspond with their mutual expression. It was whispered among friends that day by day Elinor's face was assuming a deeper shade of pen- siveness which threatened soon to render her too true a counterpart of her melancholy picture. Wal- ter, on the other hand, instead of acquiring the vivid look which the painter had given him on the canvas, became reserved and downcast, with no out- ward flashes of emotion, however it might be smoul- dering within. In the course of time Elinor hung a gorgeous curtain of purple silk, wrought with flowers and fringed with heavy golden tassels, before the pictures, under pretense that the dust would tarnish their hues or the light dim them. It was enough. Her visitor felt that the massive folds of the silk must never be withdrawn nor the portraits men- tioned in her presence. Time wore on, and the painter came again. He had been far enough to the north to see the silver cascade of the Crystal Hills, and to look over the vast round of cloud and forest from the summit of New England's loftiest mountain. But he did not profane that scene by the mockery of his art. He had also lain in a canoe on the bosom of Lake George, making his soul the mirror of its loveliness and grandeur till not a picture in the Vatican was more vivid than his recollection. He had gone with the Indian hunters to Niagara, and there, again, had flung his hopeless pencil down the precipice, feeling that he could as soon paint the roar as aught else that goes to make up the wondrous cata- ract. In truth, it was seldom his impulse to copy natural scenery except as a framework for the delineations of the human form and face instinct with thought, passion or suffering. With store of such his adventurous ramble had enriched him. The stern dignity of Indian chiefs, the dusky loveliness of Indian girls; the domestic life of wigwams, the stealthy march, the battle beneath gloomy pine trees, the frontier fortress with its garrison, the anomaly of the old French partisan bred in courts, but grown gray in shaggy deserts,——such were the scenes and portraits that he had sketched. The glow of perilous moments, flashes of wild feeling, struggles of fierce power, love, hate, grief, frenzy—— in a word, all the wornout heart of the old earth—— had been revealed to him under a new form. His portfolio was filled with graphic illustrations of the volume of his memory which genius would transmute into his own substance and imbue with immortality. He felt that the deep wisdom in his art which he had sought so far was found. But amid stern or lovely nature, in the perils of the forest or its overwhelming peacefulness, still there had been two phantoms, the companions of his way. Like all other men around whom an engross- ing purpose wreathes itself, he was insulated from the mass of humankind. He had no aim, no pleasure, no sympathies, but what were ultimately connected with his art. Though gentle in manner and upright in intent and action, he did not possess kindly feelings; his heart was cold: no living crea- ture could be brought near enough to keep him warm. For these two beings, however, he had felt in its greatest intensity the sort of interest which always allied him to the subjects of his pencil. He had pried into their souls with his keenest insight and pictured the result upon their features with his utmost skill, so as barely to fall short of that stand- ard which no genius ever reached, his own severe conception. He had caught from the duskiness of the future——at least, so he fancied——a fearful secret, and had obscurely revealed it on the por- traits. So much of himself——of his imagination and all other powers——had been lavished on the study of Walter and Elinor that he almost regarded them as creations of his own, like the thousands with which he had peopled the realms of Picture. Therefore did they flit through the twilight of the noontide sun. They haunted his pictorial fancy, not as mockeries of life nor pale goblins of the dead, but in the guise of portraits, each with an un- alterable expression which his magic had evoked from the caverns of the soul. He could not recross the Atlantic till he had again beheld the originals of those airy pictures. "O glorious Art!" Thus mused the enthusiastic painter as he trod the street. "Thou art the image of the Creator's own. The innumerable forms that wander in nothingness start into being at thy beck. The dead live again. Thou recallest them to their old scenes and givest their gray shadows the lustre of a better life, at once earthly and immortal. Thou snatchest back the fleeting moments of history. With thee there is no past, for at thy touch all that is great becomes forever present, and illustrious men live through long ages in the visible perform- ance of the very deeds which made them what they are. O potent Art! as thou bringest the faintly- revealed past to stand in that narrow strip of sun- light which we call 'now,' canst thou summon the shrouded future to meet her there? Have I not achieved it? Am I not thy Prophet" Thus with a proud yet melancholy fervor did he almost cry aloud as he passed through the toilsome street among people that knew not of his reveries nor could understand nor care for them. It is not good for man to cherish a solitary ambition. Un- less there be those around him by whose example he may regulate himself, his thoughts, desires and hopes will become extravagant and he the semblance ——perhaps the reality——of a madman. Reading other bosoms with an acuteness almost preternat- ural, the painter failed to see the disorder of his own. "And this should be the house," said he, look- ing up and down the front before he knocked. "Heaven help my brains! That picture! Methinks it will never vanish. Whether I look at the windows or the door, there it is framed within them, painted strongly and glowing in the richest tints——the faces of the portraits, the figures and action of the sketch." He knocked. "The Portraits——are they within?" inquired he of the domestic; then, recollecting himself, "your master and mistress——are they at home?" "They are, sir," said the servant, adding, as he noticed that picturesque aspect of which the painter could never divest himself, "and the portraits too." The guest was admitted into a parlor communi- cating by a central door with an interior room of the same size. As the first apartment was empty, he passed to the entrance of the second, within which his eyes were greeted by those of living per- sonages, as well as their pictured representatives, who had long been the objects of so singular an interest. He involuntarily paused on the threshold. They had not perceived his approach. Walter and Elinor were standing before the portraits, whence the former had just flung back the rich and voluminous folds of the silken curtain, holding its golden tassel with one hand, while the other grasped that of his bride. The pictures, concealed for months, gleamed forth again in undiminished splendor, appearing to throw a somber light across the room rather than be disclosed by a borrowed radiance. That of Elinor had been almost pro- phetic. A pensiveness, and next a gentle sorrow, had successively dwelt upon her countenance, deep- ening with the lapse of time into a quiet anguish. A mixture of affright would now have made it the very expression of the portrait. Walter's face was moody and dull or animated only by fitful flashes which left a heavier darkness for their momentary illumination. He looked from Elinor to her portrait, and thence to his own, in the con- templation of which he finally stood absorbed. The painter seemed to hear the step of Destiny approaching behind him on its progress toward its victims. A strange thought darted into his mind. Was not his own the form in which Destiny had embodied itself, and he a chief agent of the coming evil which he had foreshadowed? Still, Walter remained silent before the picture, communing with it as with his own heart and abandoning himself to the spell of evil influence that the painter had cast upon the features. Grad- ually his eyes kindled, while as Elinor watched the increasing wildness of his face her own assumed a look of terror; and, when at last, he turned upon her, the resemblance of both to their portraits was complete. "Our fate is upon us!" howled Walter. "Die!" Drawing a knife, he sustained her as she was sinking to the ground, and aimed it at her bosom. In the action and in the look and attitude of each the painter beheld the figures of his sketch. The picture with all its tremendous coloring, was finished. "Hold, madman!" cried he, sternly. He had advanced from the door and interposed himself between the wretched beings with the same sense of power to regulate their destiny as to alter a scene upon the canvas. He stood like a magician controlling the phantoms which he had evoked. "What!" muttered Walter Ludlow, as he re- lapsed from fierce excitement into sullen gloom. "Does Fate impede its own decree?" "Wretched lady," said the painter, "did I not warn you?" "You did," replied Elinor, calmly, as her terror gave place to the quiet grief which it had disturbed. "But——I loved him." Is there not a deep moral in the tale? Could the result of one or all our deeds be shadowed forth and set before us, some would call it Fate and hurry onward, others be swept along by their passionate desires, and none be turned aside by the prophetic pictures.
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By Nathaniel Hawthorne THE VILLAGE UNCLE. AN IMAGINARY RETROSPECT. Come! another log upon the hearth. True, our little parlor is comfortable, especially here, where the old man sits in his old arm chair; but on Thanks- giving night, the blaze should dance higher up the chimney, and send a shower of sparks into the outer darkness. Toss an armful of those dry oak chips, the last relics of the Mermaid's knee timbers, the bones of your namesake, Susan. Higher yet, and clearer be the blaze, till our cottage windows glow the ruddiest in the village, and the light of our house- hold mirth flash far across the bay to Nahant. And now, come, Susan, come, my children, draw your chairs round me, all of you. There is a dimness over your figures! You sit quivering indistinctly with each motion of the blaze, which eddies about you like a flood, so that you all have the look of visions, or people that dwell only in the firelight, and will vanish from existence, as completely as your own shadows, when the flame shall sink among the embers. Hark! let me listen for the swell of the surf; it should be audible a mile inland, on a night like this. Yes; there I catch the sound, but only as uncertain murmur, as if a good way down over the beach; though, by the almanac, it is high tide at eight o'clock, and the billows must now be dashing within thirty yards of our door. Ah! the old man's ears are failing him; and so is his eyesight, and perhaps his mind, else you would not all be so shadowy in the blaze of his Thanksgiving fire. How strangely the past is peeping over the shoul- ders of the present! To judge by my recollections, it is but a few moments since I sat in another room; yonder model of a vessel was not there, nor the old chest of drawers, nor Susan's profile and mine, in that gilt frame; nothing, in short, except this same fire, which glimmered on books, papers, and a picture, and half discovered my solitary figure in a looking- glass. But it was paler than my rugged old self, and younger, too, by almost half a century. Speak to me, Susan; speak, my beloved ones; for the scene is glimmering on my sight again, and as it brightens you fade away. Oh! I should be loth to lose my treasure of past happiness, and become once more what I was then; a hermit in the depths of my own mind; sometimes yawning over drowsy volumes, and anon a scribbler of wearier trash than what I read; a man who had wandered out of the real world and got into its shadow, where his troubles, joys and vicissitudes were of such slight stuff, that he hardly knew whether he lived, or only dreamed of living. Thank heaven, I am an old man now, and have done with all such vanities. Still this dimness of mine eyes! Come nearer, Susan, and stand before the fullest blaze of the hearth. Now I behold you illuminated from head to foot, in your clean cap and decent gown, with the dear lock of gray hair across your forehead, and a quiet smile about your mouth, while the eyes alone are concealed, by the red gleam of the fire upon your spectacles. There, you made me tremble again! When the flame quivered, my sweet Susan, you quivered with it, and grew indistinct, as if melting into the warm light, that my last glimpse of you might be as visionary as the first was, full many a year since. Do you remember it? You stood on the little bridge, over the brook that runs across King's Beach into the sea. It was twilight; the waves rolling in, the wind sweeping by, the crimson clouds fading in the west, and the silver moon brightening above the hill; and on the bridge were you, fluttering in the breeze like a sea bird that might skim away at your pleasure. You seemed a daughter of the viewless wind, a creature of the ocean foam and crimson light, whose merry life was spent in dancing on the crests of the billows, that threw up their spray to support your footsteps. As I drew nearer, I fancied you akin to the race of mermaids, and thought how pleasant it would be to dwell with you among the quiet coves, in the shadow of the cliffs, and to roam along secluded beaches of the purest sand, and when our norther shores grew bleak, to haunt the islands, green and lonely, far amid summer seas. And yet it gladdened me, after all this nonsense, to find you nothing but a pretty young girl, sadly perplexed with the rude be- havior of the wind about your petticoats. Thus I did with Susan as with most other things in my earlier days, dipping her image into my mind and coloring it of a thousand fantastic hues, before I could see her as she really was. Now, Susan, for a sober picture of our village! It was a small col- lection of dwellings that seemed to have been cast up by the sea, with the rock weeds and marine plants among the pipe staves and other lumber, which had been washed from the deck of an eastern schooner. There was just space for the narrow and sandy street between the beach in front, and a precipitous hill that lifted its rocky forehead in the rear, among a waste of juniper bushes and the wild growth of a broken pasture. The village was pict- uresque, in the variety of its edifices, though all were rude. Here stood a little old hovel, built, per- haps, of drift wood, there a row of boat houses, and beyond them a two story dwelling, of dark and weather-beaten aspect, the whole intermixed with one or two snug cottages, painted white, a suffici- ency of pig-styes, and a shoemaker's shop. Two grocery stores stood opposite each other, in the centre of the village. These were the places of re- sort, at their idle hours, of a hardy throng of fisher- men, in red baize shirts, oil cloth trousers, and bots of brown leather covering the whole leg; true seven league boots, but fitter to wade the ocean than walk the earth. The wearers seemed amphib- ious, as if they did but creep out of salt water to sun themselves; nor would it have been wonderful to see their lower limbs covered with clusters of little shell fish, such as cling to rocks and old ship timbers over which the tide ebbs and flows. When their fleet of boats was weather bound, the butchers raised their price, and the spit was busier than the frying pan; for this was a place of fish, and known as such, to all the country round about; the very air was fishy, being perfumed with dead sculpins, hard heads and dog fish, strewn plentifully on the beach. You see, children, the village is but little changed, since your mother and I were young. How like a dream it was, when I bent over a pool of water, one pleasant morning, and saw that the ocean had dashed its spray over me and made me a fisherman! There was the tarpaulin, the baize shirt the oil cloth trousers and seven league boots, and there my own features, but so reddened with sun- burn and sea breezes, that methought I had another face, and on other shoulders too. The sea gulls and the loons, and I, had now all one trade; we skimmed the crested waves and sought our prey beneath them, the man with as keen enjoyment as the birds. Al- ways when the east grew purple, I launched my dory, my little flat-bottomed skiff, and rowed cross-handed to Point Ledge, the Middle Ledge, or, perhaps, be- yond Egg Rock; often, too, did I anchor off Dread Ledge, a spot of peril to ships unpiloted; and some- times spread an adventurous sail and tracked across the bay to South Shore, casting my lines in sight of Scituate. Ere night fall, I hauled my skiff high and dry on the beach, laden with red rock cod, or the white bellied ones of deep water; haddock, bear- ing the black marks of Saint Peter's finger's near the gills; the long-bearded hake, whose liver holds oil enough for a midnight lamp; and now and then a mighty halibut, with a back as broad as my boat. In the autumn, I toted and caught those lovely fish, the mackerel. When the wind was high; when the whale boats, anchored off the Point, nodded their slender masts at each other, and the dories pitched and tossed in the surf; when Nahant Beach was thundering three miles off, and the spray broke a hundred feet in air, round the distant base of Egg Rock; when the brimful and boisterous sea threat- ened to tumble over the street of our village; then I made a holiday on shore. Many such a day did I sit snugly in Mr. Bartlett's store, attentive to the yarns of uncle Parker; uncle to the whole village, by right of seniority, but of southern blood, with no kindred in New England. His figure is before me now, enthroned upon a mack- erel barrel; a lean old man, of great height, but bent with years, and twisted into an uncouth shape by seven broken limbs; furrowed also and weath- er-worn, as if every gale, for the better part of a century, had caught him somewhere on the sea. He looked like a harbinger of tempest; a shipmate of the Flying Dutchman. After innumerable voyages aboard men-of-war and merchantmen, fishing schoon- ers and chebacco boats, the old salt had become master of a hand-cart, which he daily trundled about the vicinity, ans sometimes blew his fish horn through the streets of Salem. One of uncle Parker's eyes had been blown out with gunpowder, and the other did but glimmer in its socket. Turning it up- ward as he spoke, it was his delight to tell of cruises against the French, and battles with his own ship- mates, when he and an antagonist used to be seated astride of a sailor's chest, each fastened down by a spike nail through his trousers, and there to fight it out. Sometimes he expatiated on the delicious flavor of the hagden, a greasy and goose-like fowl, which the sailors catch with hook and line on the Grand Banks. He dwelt with rapture on interminable winter at the Isle of Sables, where he had gladdened himself, amid polar snows, with the rum and sugar saved from the wreck of a West India schooner. And wrathfully did he shake his fist, as he related how a party of Cape Cod men had robbed him and his companions of their lawful spoil, and sailed away with every keg of old Jamaica, leaving him not a drop to drown his sorrow. Villains they were, and of that wicked brotherhood who are said to tie lan- terns to hoses' tails, to mislead the mariner along the dangerous shores of the Cape. Even now, I seem to see the group of fishermen, with that old salt in the midst. One fellow sits on the counter, a second bestrides an oil barrel, a third lolls at his length on a parcel of new cod lines, and another has planted the tarry seat of his trousers on a heap of salt, which will shortly be sprinkled over a lot of fish. They are a likely set of men. Some have voyaged to the East Indies or the Pacific, and most of them have sailed in Marblehead schooners to Newfoundland; a few have been no farther than the Middle Banks, and one or two have always fished along the shore; but as uncle Parker used to say, they have all been christened in salt water, and know more than men ever learn in the bushes. A curious figure, by way of contrast, is a fish-dealer from far up- country, listening with eye wide open, to narratives that might startle Sinbad the sailor. Be it well with you, my brethren! Ye are all gone, some to your graves ashore, and others to the depths of the ocean; but my faith is strong that ye are happy; for when- ever I behold your forms, whether in dream or vision, each departed friend is puffing his long nine, and a mug of the right black strap goes round from lip to lip! But where was the mermaid in those delightful times? At a certain window near the centre of the village, appeared a pretty display of gingerbread men and horses, picture books and ballads, small fish- hooks, pins, needles, sugar-plums and brass thimbles, articles on which the young fishermen used to expend their money from pure gallantry. What a picture was Susan behind the counter. A slender maiden, though the child of rugged parents, she had the slim- mest of all waists, brown hair curling on her neck, and a complexion rather pale, except when the sea breeze flushed it. A few freckles became beauty spots beneath her eyelids. How was it, Susan, that you talked and acted so carelessly, yet always for the best, doing whatever was right in your own eyes, and never once doing wrong in mine, nor shocked a taste that had been morbidly sensitive till now? And whence you had that happiest gift, of bright- ening every topic with an unsought gayety, quiet but irresistible, so that even gloomy spirits felt your sun- shine, and did not shrink from it. Nature wrought the charm. She made you a frank, simple, kind- hearted, sensible, and mirthful girl. Obeying nature, you did free things without indelicacy, displayed a maiden's thoughts to every eye, and proved yourself as innocent as naked Eve. It was beautiful to observe how her simple and happy nature mingled itself with mine. She kindled a domestic fire within my heart, and took up her dwelling there, even in that chill and lonesome cav- ern, hung round with glittering icicles of fancy. She gave me warmth of feeling, while the influence of my mind made her contemplative. I taught her to love the moonlight hour, when the expanse of the encircled bay was smooth as a great mirror and slept in a transparent shadow; while beyond Na- hant, the wind rippled the dim ocean into a dreamy brightness, which grew faint afar off, without be- coming gloomier. I held her hand and pointed to the long surf-wave, as it rolled calmly on the beach, in an unbroken line of silver; we were silent to- gether, till its deep and peaceful murmur had swept by us. When the Sabbath sun shone down into the recesses of the cliffs, I led the mermaid thither, and told her that those huge, gray, shattered rocks, and her native sea, that raged for ever like a storm against them, and her own slender beauty, in so stern a scene, were all combined into a strain of poetry. But on the Sabbath eve, when her mother had gone early to bed, and her gentle sister had smiled and left us, as we sat alone by the quiet hearth, with household things around, it was her turn to make me feel, that here was a deeper poetry, and that this was the dearest hour of all. Thus went on our wooing, till I had shot wild fowl enough to feather our bridal bed, and the Daughter of the Sea was mine. I built a cottage for Susan and myself, and made a gateway in the form of a Gothic arch, by setting up a whale's jaw bones. We bought a heifer with her first calf, and had a little garden on the hillside, to supply us with potatoes and green sauce for our fish. Our parlor, small and neat, was ornamented with our two profiles in one gilt frame, and with shells and pretty pebbles on the mantelpiece, se- lected from the sea's treasury of such things, on Nahant Beach. On the desk, beneath the looking glass, lay a Bible, which I had begun to read aloud at the book of Genesis, and the singing book that Susan used for her evening psalm. Except the al- manac, we had no other literature. All that I heard of books was when an Indian history, or tale of ship- wreck, was sold by a peddler or wandering subscrip- tion man, to some one in the village, and read through its owner's nose to a slumbrous auditory. Like my brother fisherman, I grew into the belief that all human erudition was collected in our peda- gogue, whose green spectacles and solemn phiz, as he passed to his little school house, amid a waste of sand, might have gained him a diploma from any collage in New England. In truth I dreaded him. When our children were old enough to claim his care, you remember, Susan, how I frowned, though you were pleased, at this learned man's encomiums on their proficiency. I feared to trust them even with the alphabet; it was the key to a fatal treasure. But I loved to lead them by their little hands along the beach, and point to nature in the vast and the minute, the sky, the sea, the green earth, the pebbles and the shells. Then did I discourse of the mighty works and coextensive goodness of the Deity, with the simple wisdom of a man whose mind had prof- ited by lonely days upon the deep, and his heart by the strong and pure affection of his evening home. Sometimes my voice lost itself in a tremendous depth; for I felt His eyes upon me as I spoke. Once, while my wife and all of us were gazing at ourselves, in the mirror left by the tide in the hollow of the sand, I pointed to the pictured Heaven below, and bade her observe how religion was strewn everywhere in our path; since even a casual pool of water recalled the idea of that home whither we were travelling, to rest for ever with our children. Suddenly your image, Susan, and all the little faces made up of yours and mine, seemed to fade away and vanish around me, leaving a pale visage like my own of former days within the frame of a large looking-glass. Strange illusion! My life glided on, the past appearing to mingle with the present and absorb the future, till the whole lies before me at a glance. My manhood has long been waning with a stanch decay; my earlier con- temporaries, after lives of unbroken health, are all at rest, without having known the weariness of later age; and now with a wrinkled forehead and thin white hair as badges of my dignity, I have become the patriarch, the Uncle of the village. I love that name; it widens the circle of my sympathies; it joins all the youthful to my household, in the kindred of affection. Like uncle Parker, whose rheumatic bones were dashed against Egg Rock, full forty years ago, I am a spinner of long yarns. Seated on the gunnel of a dory, on the sunny side of a boat house, where the warmth is grateful to my limbs, or by my own hearth, when a friend or two are there, I overflow with talk, and yet am never tedious. With a broken voice I give utterance to much wisdom. Such, heaven be praised! is the vigor of my faculties, that many a forgotten usage, and traditions ancient in my youth, and early adventures of myself or others, hitherto effaced by things more recent, acquire new distinct- ness in my memory. I remember the happy days when the haddock were more numerous on all the fishing grounds than sculpins in the surf; when the deep water cod swam close in shore, and the dog- fish, with his poisonous horn, had not learnt to take the hook. I can number every equinoctial storm, in which the sea has overwhelmed the street, flooded the cellars of the village, and hissed upon our kitchen hearth. I give the history of the great whale that was landed on Whale Beach, and whose jaws, being now my gate way, will last for ages after my coffin shall have passed beneath them. Thence it is an easy digression to the halibut, scarcely smaller than the whale, which ran out six codlines, and hauled my dory to the mouth of Boston harbor before I could touch him with the gaff. If melancholy accidents be the theme of con- versation, I tell how a friend of mine was taken out of his boat by an enormous shark; and the sad, true tale of a young man on the eve of marriage, who had been nine days missing, when his drowned body floated into the very pathway, on Marblehead neck, that had often led him to the dwelling of his bride; as if the dripping corpse would have come where the mourner was. With such awful fidelity did that lover return to fulfill his vows! Another favorite story is of a crazy maiden, who conversed with angels and had the gift of prophecy, and whom all the village loved and pitied, though she went from door to door accusing us of sin, exhorting to repentance, and foretelling our destruction by flood or earthquake. If the young men boast their knowledge of the ledges and sunken rocks, I speak of pilots who knew the wind by its scent and the wave by its taste, and could have steered blindfold to any port between Boston and Mount Desert, guided only by the rote of the shore; the peculiar sound of the surf on each island, beach, and line of rocks along the coast. Thus do I talk, and all my auditors grow wise, while they deem it pastime. I recollect no happier portion of my life, than this, my calm old age. It is like the sunny and sheltered slope of a valley, where, late in the autumn, the grass is greener than in August, and intermixed with golden dandelions, that had not bee seen till now, since the first warmth of the year. But with me, the verdure and the flowers are not frost-bitten in the midst of winter. A play- fulness has revisited my mind; a sympathy with the young and gay; an unpainful interest in the busi- ness of others; a light and wandering curiosity; arising, perhaps, from the sense that my toil on earth is ended, and the brief hour till bedtime may be spent in play. Still, I have fancied that there is a depth of feeling and reflection, under the superfi- cial levity, peculiar to one who has lived long, and is soon to die. Show me any thing that would make an infant smile, and you shall behold a gleam of mirth over the hoary ruin of my visage. I can spend a pleas- ant hour in the sun, watching the sports of the village children, on the edge of the surf: now they chase the retreating wave far down over the wet sand; now it steals softly up to kiss their naked feet; now it comes onward with threatening front, and roars after the laughing crew, as they scamper beyond its reach. Why should an old man be merry too, when the great sea is at play with those little children? I delight, also, to follow in the wake of a pleasure party of young men and girls, strolling along the beach, after an early supper at the Point. Here, with handkerchief at nose, they bend over a heap of eel grass, entangled in which is a dead skate, so oddly accoutred with two legs and a long tail, that they mistake him for a drowned animal. A few steps further, the ladies scream, and the gentlemen make ready to protect them against a young shark of the dog-fish kind, rolling with a lifelike motion in the tide that has thrown him up. Next, they are smit with wonder at the black shells of a wagon load of live lobsters, packed in rockweed for the country market. And when they reach the fleet of dories, just hauled ashore after the day's fishing, how do I laugh in my sleeve and sometimes roar outright, at the simplicity of these young folks and the sly humor of the fisher- men! In winter, when our village is thrown into a bustle on the arrival of perhaps a score of country dealers, bargaining for frozen fish, to be transported hundreds of miles, and eaten fresh in Vermont or Canada, I am a pleased but idle spectator in the throng. For I launch my boat no more. When the shore was solitary, I have found a pleasure that seemed even to exalt my mind, in observing the sports or contentions of two gulls, as they wheeled and hovered about each other, with hoarse screams, one moment flapping on the foam of the wave, and then soaring aloft, till their white bosoms melted into the upper sunshine. In the calm of the summer sunset, I drag my aged limbs, with a little ostentation of activity, because I am so old, up to the rocky brow of the hill. There I see the white sails of many a vessel, outward bound, or homeward from afar, and the black trail of a vapor behind the eastern steamboat; there, too, is the sun, going down, but not in gloom, and there the illimitable ocean mingling with the sky, to remind me of Eternity. But sweetest of all is the hour of cheerful mus- ing and pleasant talk, that comes between the dusk and the lighted candle, by my glowing fireside. And, never, even on the first Thanksgiving night, when Susan and I sat alone with our hopes, nor the second, when a stranger had been sent to gladden us, and be the visible image of our affection, did I feel such joy as now. All that belong to me are here; Death has taken none, nor Disease kept them away, nor Strife divided them from their parents or each other: with neither poverty nor riches to disturb them, nor the misery of desires beyond their lot, they have kept New England's festival round the patriarch's board. For I am a patriarch! Here I sit among my descendants, in my old arm chair and immemorial corner, while the firelight throws an appropriate glory round my ven- erable frame. Susan! My children! Something whispers me, that this happiest hour must be the final one, and that nothing remains but to bless you all, and depart with a treasure of recollected joys to Heaven. Will you meet me there? Alas! your figures grow indistinct, fading into pictures on the air, and now fainter outlines, while the fire is glimmering on the walls of a familiar room, and shows the book that I flung down, and the sheet that I left half written, some fifty years ago. I lift my eyes to the looking-glass, and perceive myself alone, unless those be the mermaid's features, retiring into the depths of the mirror, with a tender and melancholy smile. Ah! One feels a chilliness, not bodily, but about the heart, and, moreover a foolish dread of looking behind him, after these pastimes. I can imagine precisely how a magician would sit down in gloom and terror, after dismissing the shadows that had personated dead or distant people, and stripping his cavern of the unreal splendor which had changed it to a palace. And now for a moral to my reverie. Shall it be, that, since fancy can create so bright a dream of happiness, it were better to dream on from youth to age, than to awake and strive doubtfully for something real! Oh! the slight tissue of a dream can no more preserve us from the stern reality of misfortune, than a robe of cobweb could repel the wintry blast. Be this the moral, then. In chaste and warm affec- tions, humble wishes, and honest toil for some useful end, there is health for the mind, and quiet for the heart, the prospect of a happy life, and the fairest hope of Heaven.
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