5. Jane Goodall, 2013.
This is not a complaint of mine only, or confined to the present occasion. Numbers of the faithful servants of Christ have been greatly injured, and have had their usefulness impeded, by the same ungenerous and unjust treatment. It has been the case, more or less, in all ages; and I am sorry to see such a prospect of the continuance of it in time to come.
How many worthy ministers of the gospel, who have taken great pains to understand christianity, and are seriously disposed to promote both the knowledge and the practice of it, to the utmost of their power, have their hands, as it were, tied up, by those who busy themselves in spying out their christian liberty. Many of them are so circumstanced, that, should they endeavour to serve the interests of christianity, and of mankind, in the way which they should think best adapted to answer the purpose; such a clamour, they cannot but foresee, would be raised, and so furious an opposition would immediately be made to them, that they are convinced they should do more harm than good by the attempt; and there are but few whose advantageous situation, ability, and firmness of mind, concur to enable them successfully to encounter the difficulties they would hereby involve themselves in; so that, being incapacitated for doing all the good they are desirous of doing, they are content to do the little they can do, in as quiet and inoffensive a manner as possible; following the prudent advice of our Lord, who admonishes us, not to cast our pearls before swine, left they trample them under their feet, and turn again, and rent us.
That the interests of practical Christianity should sustain so great a loss, is a thing truly to be lamented; and though, such is the state of things in this world, that these offences will come, and we are, therefore, to lay our account with meeting with them; we cannot help saying, with Christ, who foretold them, Woe unto them by whom they come; that is, to those who are the criminal cause of them.
Far am I from censuring those persons who are merely misled, or those who, in consequence of having been misled themselves, endeavour to mislead others. Every allowance should be made for all those who offend through ignorance, though they be carried away, even to the most violent acts of persecution, by ar’Heal that is merely not according to knowledge. But the woe of Christ will certainly fall with its whole weight upon those, who make a handle of the prejudices of mankind, to gratify their own pride, or promote their own worldly interests and ambition; and who labour to inflame those prejudices with a view to making them subservient to such base purposes. Nor will those escape animadversion, who are, in part only, actuated by such unworthy motives; and who, though they may think the cause they are engaged in is a A 2 just just and good one, yet prosecute it with more ardour and vehemence, than a pure regard to the goodness of it would have excited in them.
Very sew of the actions of men have, I believe, one simple cause. We are generally influenced by a variety of motives in whatever we do. It, therefore, behoves us the more carefully to distinguish the influences to which we are subject, and under which we really act. God forbid that I should take upon me to condemn any individual of his creatures. Himself only knows our hearts, and he will render unto every man according to his works. But the general nature of our motives, the kind, or class, to which they are reducible, may, in some measure, be known by the manner in which they operate. And the most distinct of all, in their nature and effect s, are those which have the interest of this world, and those which have that of another for theic. object.
The man whose sole spring of action is a concern for loft fouls, and a care to preserve the purity of that gospel, which alone teaches the most effectual method of their recovery from the power of fin and Satan unto God, will feel an ardour of mind, that will prompt him strenuously to oppose all those, whom he considers as obstructing his benevolent designs. An ardour of mind will likewise be felt by the man whose sole object is the advancement of his reputation, bis party, or his fortune; but this ardour cannot
be be supposed to operate in the very same manner in both cases; so as that they cannot be distinguished by an attentive observer. There will certainly be some difference in their choice of fneans to promote their several ends. We should naturally expect more fairness, more candour, more meekness, and more generosity, from the christian, than from the mere man of this world. The passions of the latter would, also, be apt to run into personal animosity, envy, jealousy, hatred, and malice; whereas the utmost zeal of the former would not only ever appear to be consistent with, but would be greatly productive of, the most disinterested benevolence, and the most affectionate brotherly love. By this rule we may, in some measure, try the spirits, •whether they be of God. But let the utmost diffidence and candour accompany every judgment we form, remembering that we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
When persons expressly avow the motives of their conduct, not to acquiesce in their declarations has the appearance of questioning their veracity; because it is taken for granted, that every man must know the principles of his own conduct; but the human mind is so complex a thing, that there is great room for self-deception; especially in cases where the passions and affections are strong, and when they occasion similar emotions, as well as produce similar effects. In this case a bystander may be a better judge than a B 3 man’s man’s self. A zeal for our opinions, and a zeal for our parts, on the advancement of which our own personal reputation and influence depend, are necessarily connected, and reciprocally promote one another. For the same reason, a dislike of opinions has an affinity with the dislike of those who hold them, as men who are embarked in an interest opposite to ours, and whose credit and authority obstruct our own. And all the emotions of mind that are excited by the same objects, how different soever they be originally, by frequent association mix together, so that the parts of that complex feeling which results from their union, are no longer distinguishable. When two persons, who have had frequent intercourse, have been a long time at variance, and the subjects of their contention have been numerous; can either of them analize the sudden emotion they will feel upon an unexpected meeting, and by which they may be instigated to some instant and violent act?
We often begin to act with one motive, but,. as we proceed, we come insensibly within the influence of others; so that, in some cases, the habit shall continue, though the orginal motive have no force at all; and yet it may be impossibe to say, in what part of this progress the influence of one motive ceased, and that of another began; the change of character being insensible, and altogether imperceptible.
For my own part, I have no doubt, but that the leading men among the Methodists were influenced, originally, by none but the best of all motives, a generous concern for the souls of men. Nothing else, I think, can account for their conduct, as they were then circumstanced; but finding themselves, by degrees, at the head of a large body of people, and in the possession of considerable power and influence, they must not have been men, if they had not felt the natural love of power gratified in such a situation; and they must have been more than men, if their subsequent conduct had not been, more or less, influenced by it; and if they had not acted in many cases, just as the heads of any other party would have acted. I am far from meaning to insinuate by this, that their original motive is become extinct. I hope it is still the leading one with them; but it becomes every man to distrust himself, and carefully to examine his own heart. Otherwise, as I believe may have been the case with many persecutors, we may begin with the love of God, or a regard to his glory, and end with the most diabolical dispositions.
These observations may throw some light on the seemingly different accounts that St. Paul gives of his own character and conduct, before he was converted to Christianity. Before the chief priests and council of the Jews, he declared, Acts xxiii. i. that he had lived in all good conscience before Cod until that day, and before
Agrippa, Agrippa, Acts xxvi. 5. that he thought with himself he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth; whereas, writing to Timothy, he says (1 Tim. i. 14, 15.) that he had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, injurious, and the chief of sinners, though, at the same time, he adds, he had ailed ignorantly, in unbelief. They may also serve to illustrate the following passage in the prophet Jeremiah; and as the words are those of God himself, they ought to command a general and very serious attention; and more especially should they alarm every man, who imagines himself to be actuated by religious motives, when he is instigated to any act of violence against another; whether it be to the injury of his person, his fortune, his reputation, or his interest. Jer. xvii. 9, 10. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
The application of this doctrine may be made both by those who seem enraged at others, for holding opinions which they think damnable; and by those who insult and laugh at others, for opinions which they think to be merely ridiculous and absurd. In many cases, I am satisfied, that the pure love of truth is, on both sides, absorbed in passions of a very different nature. I could overlook every thing in a man, who, I thought, meant nothing but my everlasting welfare; fare; or to inform me of any thing that I was ignorant of, and desirous of knowing; but those persons who have these pretences in their mouths only, when they are far from their hearts (though they may deceive themselves as well as others) are by no means intitled to so favourable a reception.
It behoves us, however, carefully to distinguish between this latent insincerity, under the influence of which men deceive themselves, and that direSt prevarication, with which those who are engaged in debate, are too ready to charge one another; as if their adversaries knowingly concealed, or opposed the truth. This is a crime of so heinous a nature, that I should be very unwilling to impute it to any person whatever. It is possible, indeed, that, in the heat of controversy, when the eyes of the public are upon a person, and he is afraid of appearing in a disadvantageous light, he may use a little sophistry, in order to seem to have the better of an argument; but for a man voluntarily to undertake the defence of error, and knowingly to pervert the scriptures, in order to make them favour his purpose; and especially to persist through life in avowing sentiments which he really believes to be false, argues the heart to be so void of all principle of rectitude; it is such an insult upon the God of truth, and such a contempt of his judgments, that I think human nature could never become so depraved and desperate perate as to be capable of it; and that no situation in human life could supply a sufficient temptation for such conduct.
If a man do but suspeft that he is engaged in a cause that will not bear examination, he is naturally disposed to be silent; or if, confiding in his fkil) in disputation, he should be tempted to challenge another to oppugn it, it would be in conversation only; and it must manifest a degree of temerity equal to madness to proceed to write in such a case, when he could take no advantage either of his own presence of mind, or of the weakness and embarrassment of his adversary. There are such well known instances of the force of prejudice, that 1 had rather ascribe any opinion, how absurd soever, or any defence, how weak soever, in a man how sensible and intelligent soever, in other respects, to wrong judgment, than to a bad heart. I can hardly imagine any case, in which, exclusive of all consideration of candour and charity, the chance would not be in favour of the former.
If this remark be just, with what caution and tenderness should we censure any person, with respect to a point of mere speculation. To abuse any one because he does’not see things so clearly as I may think I do myself, is cruel with respect to him; and has a much worse aspect with regard to God, who made us* both, and who has placed us in our different situations for seeing, judging, and acting. How should I be affected ed ac the great day of judgment, to be convinced of the integrity, and perhaps the right judgment, also, of an adversary, whom I should have treated in so illiberal and insulting a manner.
It is unhappy, in some respects, that christians are divided into so many sects and parties. This circumstance, however, was certainly foreseen, and therefore wisely permitted by that great and good being who governs all things; and it will, I doubt not, notwithstanding several intermediate ill effects, contribute, at last, to the firmer establishment, and the greater efficacy of the christian scheme. In the mean time, let it be our joint care to obviate and lessen those necessary intermediate and temporary evils, which result from our differences of opinion.
Let every question in debate be proposed to the freest examination; and, without indecent passion, or personal animosity (which are equally a disgrace to us as men, or as christians) let us weigh the merits of every cause; and, without concealment or reserve, advance every thing that occurs to us in support of our respective opinions. If the pure love of truth influence us, we shall, in this way, much sooner find it. And, especially, being each of us conscious of the uprightness of our own intentions, let us not easily admit a doubt of the sincerity of others.
Let those who maintain that the mere holding of any opinions (without regard to the motives and state of mind through which men may have been led to form them) will necessarily exclude them from the favour of God, be particularly careful, with respect to the premises from which they draw so alarming a conclusion. Of all the tenets that can be the subject of debate, this has the most dreadful practical consequences. This belief lays such hold of the mind, and is apt to excite such a horror of the reprobated opinions, as, in the frail state of humanity, is with difficulty brought to be consistent with any esteem or love of the persons who hold them; and, from the affinity of our passions, is, in too many minds, capable of degenerating into absolute hatred, rancour, and the diabolical spirit of persecution. Such persons are apt to be so transported with zeal, that they will even do evil that good may come, and destroy the bodies of some, to promote, as they fancy, the good of the souls of others. Indeed, no other opinions than such as these can, with the least plausibility, be alledged in favour of persecution; and we find, in fact, that those have ever been the most violent persecutors, who have thought salvation and the favour of God appropriated to themselves. Where, therefore, such an opinion as this has unhappily been formed, we must guard ourselves against the effects of it, as we would against those of absolute insanity in the persons we conversed with; and should use every method we can think of to bring them from so fatal a turn of thinking, to a sober state of mind.
On the contrary, if we can be so happy as to believe, that there are no errors, but what men may be so circumstanced, as to be innocently betrayed into; that any mistake of the head is very consistent with rectitude of heart; and that all differences in modes of worship may be only the different methods, by which different men (who are equally the offspring of God) are endeavouring to honour and obey their common parent; our differences of opinion would have no tendency to lessen our mutual love and esteem. In this state of mind, most of our differences would be in a fair way of being terminated; and all that could remain would do no more than furnish an easy and agreeable exercise for the christian virtues of candour and moderation. Different parties in religion would then only afford room for a generous and friendly emulation, which of them should most advance the cause of truth, and recommend their several professions, by the most benevolent and exemplary conduct. Every man would speak or write with more or less warmth, in proportion to the apprehended importance of his subject; but this would never be so great, as to afford the least colour or pretence for the violence of those, who imagine that they are opposing damnable heresies-, and could hardly ever betray them into any indecency or intemperance of language. Their anger anger would be most in danger of getting the better of their meekness and their pity, when they were attacked with the pride and fury, that is peculiar to those who fancy themselves to be the only favourites of heaven, and all the rest of the world to be reprobate from God and goodness.
Those persons who think that their salvation depends upon holding their present opinions, must necessarily entertain the greatest dread of free inquiry. They must think it to be a hazarding of their eternal welfare to listen to any arguments, or read any books that savour of heresy. It must appear to them in the same light as listening to any other temptation, whereby they should be in danger of being seduced to their everlasting destruction. And this temper of mind cannot but be a foundation for the most deplorable bigotry, obstinacy, and ignorance. Whereas those persons who have not that idea of the importance of their present sentiments, preserve a state of mind proper for the discussion of them. If they be wrong, as their minds are under no strong bias, they are within the reach of conviction, and thus are in the way to grow wiser and better as long as they live.” Joseph Priestley, ON Differences of Opinion AMONG CHRISTIANS; WITH A LETTER TO the Reverend Mr. VENN; Section I, 1769.
This reflection was sufficient to make me examine most scrupulously if I was authorized to give them publicity. The fear of any sort of responsibility cannot be present to the mind, when our dearest affections are in question; but the heart is agitated by a painful anxiety when we are left to guess at those wishes, the declaration of which would have been a sacred and invariable rule. Nevertheless, after having seriously reflected on what duty required of me, I am satisfied that I have fulfilled my mother’s intentions, in engaging to leave out in this edition of her works, no production* susceptible of being printed. My fidelity in adhering to this engagement gives me the right of disavowing beforehand, all which at any future period, persons might pretend to add to this collection, which, I repeat, contains every thing, of which my mother had not formally forbid the publication.
(* Les Oeuvres completes de Madame la Baronne de Stael, publiees par son Fils. Precedees d’une notice sur le caractere et les ecrits de Madame de Stael, par Madame Necker de Saussure. Paris, 17 vols. 8vo. and 17 vols. in 12mo.)
The title of TEN YEARS’ EXILE, is that of which the authoress herself made choice; I have deemed it proper to retain it, although the work, being unfinished, comprises only a period of seven years. The narrative begins in 1800, two years previous to my mother’s first exile, and stops at 1804, after the death of M. Necker. It recommences in 1810, and breaks off abruptly at her arrival in Sweden, in the autumn of 1812. Between the first and second part of these Memoirs there is therefore an interval of nearly six years. An explanation of this will be found in a faithful statement of the manner in which they were composed.
I will not anticipate my mother’s narrative of the persecution to which she was subjected during the imperial government: that persecution, equally mean and cruel, forms the subject of the present publication, the interest of which I should only weaken. It will be sufficient for me to remind the reader, that after having exiled her from Paris, and subsequently sent her out of France, after having suppressed her work on Germany with the most arbitrary caprice, and made it impossible for her to publish anything, even on subjects wholly unconnected with politics; that government went so far as to make her almost a prisoner in her own residence, to forbid her all kind of travelling, and to deprive her of the pleasures of society and the consolations of friendship. It was while she was in this situation that my mother began her Memoirs, and one may readily conceive what must have been at that time the disposition of her mind.
During the composition of the work, the hope of one day giving it to the world scarcely presented itself in the most distant futurity. Europe was still bent to that degree under the yoke of Napoleon, that no independent voice could make itself be heard: on the Continent the press was completely chained, and the most rigorous measures excluded every work printed in England. My mother thought less, therefore, of composing a book, than of preserving the traces of her recollections and ideas. Along with the narrative of circumstances personal to herself, she incorporated with it various reflections which were suggested to her, from the beginning of Bonaparte’s power, by the state of France, and the progress of events. But if the printing such a work would at that time have been an act of unheard of temerity, the mere act of writing it required a great deal of both courage and prudence, particularly in the position in which she was placed. My mother had every reason to believe that all her movements were narrowly watched by the police: the prefect who had replaced M. de Barante at Geneva, pretended to be acquainted with every thing that passed in her house, and the least pretence would have been sufficient to induce them to possess themselves of her papers. She was obliged therefore, to take the greatest precautions. Scarcely had she written a few pages, when she made one of her most intimate friends transcribe them, taking care to substitute for the proper names those of persons taken from the history of the English Revolution. Under this disguise she carried off her manuscript, when in 1812 she determined to withdraw herself by flight from the rigors of a constantly increasing persecution.
On her arrival in Sweden, after having travelled through Russia, and narrowly escaped the French armies advancing on Moscow, my mother employed herself in copying out fairly the first part of her Memoirs, which, as I have already mentioned, goes no farther than 1804. But prior to continuing them in the order of time, she wished to take advantage of the moment, during which her recollections were still strong, to give a narrative of the remarkable circumstances of her flight, and of the persecution which had rendered that step in a manner a duty. She resumed, therefore, the history of her life at the year 1810, the epoch of the suppression of her work on Germany, and continued it up to her arrival at Stockholm in 1812: from that was suggested the title of Ten Years’ Exile. This explains also, why, in speaking of the imperial government, my mother expresses herself sometimes as living under its power, and at other times, as having escaped from it.
Finally, after she had conceived the plan of her Considerations on the French Revolution, she extracted from the first part of Ten Years Exile, the historical passages and general reflections which entered into her new design, reserving the individual details for the period when she calculated on finishing the memoirs of her life, and when she flattered herself with being able to name all the persons of whom she had received generous proofs of friendship, without being afraid of compromising them by the expressions of her gratitude.
The manuscript confided to my charge consisted therefore of two distinct parts: the first, the perusal of which necessarily offered less interest, contained several passages already incorporated in the Considerations on the French Revolution; the other formed a sort of journal, of which no part was yet known to the public. I have followed the plan traced by my mother, by striking out of the first part of the manuscript, all the passages which, with some modifications, have already found a place in her great political work. To this my labour as editor has been confined, and I have not allowed myself to make the slightest addition.
The second part I deliver to the public exactly as I found it, without the least alteration, and I have scarcely felt myself entitled to make slight corrections of the style, so important did it appear to me to preserve in this sketch the entire vividness of its original character. A perusal of the opinions which she pronounces upon the political conduct of Russia, will satisfy every one of my scrupulous respect for my mother’s manuscript; but without taking into account the influence of gratitude on elevated minds, the reader will not fail to recollect, that at that time the sovereign of Russia was fighting in the cause of liberty and independence. Was it possible to foresee that so few years would elapse before the immense forces of that empire should become the instruments of the oppression of unhappy Europe?
If we compare the Ten Years’ Exile with the Considerations on the French Revolution, it will perhaps be found that the reign of Napoleon is criticized in the first of these works with greater severity than in the other, and that he is there attacked with an eloquence not always exempt from bitterness. This difference may be easily explained: one of these works was written after the fall of the despot, with the calm and impartiality of the historian; the other was inspired by a courageous feeling of resistance to tyranny; and at the period of its composition, the imperial power was at its height.
I have not selected one moment in preference to another for the publication of Ten Years’ Exile; the chronological order has been followed in this edition, and the posthumous works are naturally placed at the end of the collection. In other respects, I am not afraid of the charge of exhibiting a want of generosity, in publishing, after the fall of Napoleon, attacks directed against his power. She, whose talents were always devoted to the defence of the noblest of causes, she, whose house was successively the asylum of the oppressed of all parties, would have been too far above such a reproach. It could only be addressed, at all events, to the editor of the Ten Years’ Exile; but I confess it would but very little affect me. It would certainly be assigning too fine a part to despotism, if, after having imposed the silence of terror during its triumph, it could call upon history to spare it after its destruction.
The recollections of the last government have no doubt afforded a pretence for a great deal of persecution; no doubt men of integrity have revolted at the cowardly invectives which are still permitted against those, who having enjoyed the favors of that government, have had sufficient dignity not to disavow their past conduct;
Finally, there is no doubt but fallen grandeur captivates the imagination. But it is not merely the personal character of Napoleon that is here in question; it is not he who can now be an object of animadversion to generous minds; no more can it be those who, under his reign, have usefully served their country in the different branches of the public administration; but that which we can never brand with too severe a stigma, is the system of selfishness and oppression of which Bonaparte is the author. But is not this deplorable system still in full sway in Europe? and have not the powerful of the earth carefully gathered up the shameful inheritance of him whom they have overthrown? And if we turn our eyes towards our own country, how many of these instruments of Napoleon do we not see, who, after having fatigued him with their servile complaisance, have come to offer to a new power the tribute of their petty machiavelism? Now, as then, is it not upon the basis of vanity and corruption that the whole edifice of their paltry science rests, and is it not from the traditions of the imperial government that the counsels of their wisdom are extracted?
In painting in stronger colours, therefore, this fatal government, we are not insulting over a fallen enemy, but attacking a still powerful adversary; and if, as I hope, the Ten Years’ Exile are destined to increase the horror of arbitrary governments, I may venture to indulge the pleasing idea, that by their publication I shall be rendering a service to the sacred cause to which my mother never ceased to be faithful. …
Causes of Bonaparte’s animosity against me.
It is not with the view of occupying the public attention with what relates to myself, that I have determined to relate the circumstances of my ten years’ exile; the miseries which I have endured, however bitterly I may have felt them, are so trifling in the midst of the public calamities of which we are witnesses, that I should be ashamed to speak of myself if the events which concern me were not in some degree connected with the great cause of threatened humanity. The Emperor Napoleon, whose character exhibits itself entire in every action of his life, has persecuted me with a minute anxiety, with an ever increasing activity, with an inflexible rudeness; and my connections with him contributed to make him known to me, long before Europe had discovered the key of the enigma.
I shall not here enter into a detail of the events that preceded the appearance of Bonaparte upon the political stage of Europe; if I accomplish the design I have of writing the life of my father, I will there relate what I have witnessed of the early part of the revolution, whose influence has changed the fate of the whole world. My object at present is only to retrace what relates to myself in this vast picture; in casting from that narrow point of view some general surveys over the whole, I flatter myself with being frequently overlooked, in relating my own history.
The greatest grievance which the Emperor Napoleon has against me, is the respect which I have always entertained for real liberty. These sentiments have been in a manner transmitted to me as an inheritance, and adopted as my own, ever since I have been able to reflect on the lofty ideas from which they are derived, and the noble actions which they inspire. The cruel scenes which have dishonored the French revolution, proceeding only from tyranny under popular forms, could not, it appears to me, do any injury to the cause of liberty: at the most, we could only feel discouraged with respect to France; but if that country had the misfortune not to know how to possess that noblest of blessings, it ought not on that account to be proscribed from the face of the earth. When the sun disappears from the horizon of the Northern regions, the inhabitants of those countries do not curse his rays, because they are still shining upon others more favored by heaven.
Shortly after the 18th Brumaire, Bonaparte had heard that I had been speaking strongly in my own parties, against that dawning oppression, whose progress I foresaw as clearly as if the future had been revealed to me. Joseph Bonaparte, whose understanding and conversation I liked very much, came to see me, and told me, ‘My brother complains of you. Why, said he to me yesterday, why does not Madame de Stael attach herself to my government? what is it she wants? the payment of the deposit of her father? I will give orders for it: a residence in Paris? I will allow it her. In short, what is it she wishes?’ ‘Good God!’ replied I, ‘it is not what I wish, but what I think, that is in question.’ I know not if this answer was reported to him, but if it was, I am certain that he attached no meaning to it; for he believes in the sincerity of no one’s opinions; he considers every kind of morality as nothing more than a form, to which no more meaning is attached than to the conclusion of a letter; and as the having assured any one that you are his most humble servant would not entitle him to ask any thing of you, so if any one says that he is a lover of liberty,—that he believes in God,—that he prefers his conscience to his interest, Bonaparte considers such professions only as an adherence to custom, or as the regular means of forwarding ambitious views or selfish calculations. The only class of human beings whom he cannot well comprehend, are those who are sincerely attached to an opinion, whatever be the consequences of it: such persons Bonaparte looks upon as boobies, or as traders who outstand their market, that is to say, who would sell themselves too dear. Thus, as we shall see in the sequel, has he never been deceived in his calculations but by integrity, encountered either in individuals or nations. …
Commencement of opposition in the Tribunate—My first persecution on that account—Fouche.
Some of the tribunes, who attached a real meaning to the constitution, were desirous of establishing in their assembly an opposition analogous to that of England; as if the rights, which that constitution professed to secure, had anything of reality in them, and the pretended division of the bodies of the state were anything more than a mere affair of etiquette, a distinction between the different anti-chambers of the first consul, in which magistrates under different names could hold together, I confess that I saw with pleasure the aversion entertained by a small number of the tribunes, to rival the counsellors of state in servility. I had especially a strong belief that those who had previously allowed themselves to be carried too far in their love for the republic would continue faithful to their opinions, when they became the weakest, and the most threatened.
One of these tribunes, a friend of liberty, and endowed with one of the most remarkable understandings ever bestowed upon man, M. Benjamin Constant, consulted me upon a speech which he purposed to deliver, for the purpose of signalizing the dawn of tyranny: I encouraged him in it with all the strength of my conviction. However, as it was well known that he was one of my intimate friends, I could not help dreading what might happen to me in consequence. I was vulnerable in my taste for society. Montaigne said formerly, I am a Frenchman through Paris: and if he thought so three centuries ago, what must it be now, when we see so many persons of extraordinary intellect collected in one city, and so many accustomed to employ that intellect in adding to the pleasures of conversation. The demon of ennui has always pursued me; by the terror with which he inspires me, I could alone have been capable of bending the knee to tyranny, if the example of my father, and his blood which flows in my veins, had not enabled me to triumph over this weakness. Be that as it may, Bonaparte knew this foible of mine perfectly: he discerns quickly the weak side of any one; for it is by their weaknesses that he subjugates people to his sway. To the power with which he threatens, to the treasures with which he dazzles, he joins the dispensation of ennui, and that is a source of real terror to the French. A residence at forty leagues from the capital, contrasted with the advantages collected in the most agreeable city in the world, fails not in the long run to shake the greater part of exiles, habituated from their infancy to the charms of a Parisian life.
On the eve of the day when Benjamin Constant was to deliver his speech, I had a party, among whom were Lucien Bonaparte, MM. ——— and several others, whose conversation in different degrees possesses that constant novelty of interest which is produced by the strength of ideas and the grace of expression. Every one of these persons, with the exception of Lucien, tired of being proscribed by the directory, was preparing to serve the new government, requiring only to be well rewarded for their devotion to its power. Benjamin Constant came up and whispered to me, “Your drawing room is now filled with persons with whom you are pleased: if I speak, tomorrow it will be deserted:—think well of it.” “We must follow our conviction,” said I to him. This reply was dictated by enthusiasm; but, I confess, if I had foreseen what I have suffered since that day, I should not have had the firmness to refuse M. Constant’s offer of renouncing his project, in order not to compromise me.
At present, so far as opinion is affected, it is nothing to incur the disgrace of Bonaparte: he may make you perish, but he cannot deprive you of respect. Then, on the contrary, France was not enlightened as to his tyrannical views, and as all who had suffered from the revolution expected to obtain from him the return of a brother, or a friend, or the restoration of property, any one who was bold enough to resist him was branded with the name of Jacobin, and you were deprived of good society along with the countenance of the government: an intolerable situation, particularly for a woman, and of which no one can know the misery without having experienced it.
On the day when the signal of opposition was exhibited in the tribunate by my friend, I had invited several persons whose society I was fond of, but all of whom were attached to the new government. At five o’clock I had received ten notes of apology; the first and second I bore tolerably well, but as they succeeded each other rapidly, I began to be alarmed. In vain did I appeal to my conscience, which advised me to renounce all the pleasures attached to the favour of Bonaparte: I was blamed by so many honorable people, that I knew not how to support myself on my own way of thinking. Bonaparte had as yet done nothing exactly culpable; many asserted that he preserved France from anarchy: in short, if at that moment he had signified to me any wish of reconciliation, I should have been delighted: but a step of that sort he will never take without exacting a degradation, and, to induce that degradation, he generally enters into such passions of authority, as terrify into yielding every thing. I do not wish by that to say that Bonaparte is not really passionate: what is not calculation in him is hatred, and hatred generally expresses itself in rage: but calculation is in him so much the strongest, that he never goes beyond what it is convenient for him to show, according to circumstances and persons. One day a friend of mine saw him storming at a commissary of war, who had not done his duty; scarcely had the poor man retired, trembling with apprehension, when Bonaparte turned round to one of his aides-du-camp, and said to him, laughing, I hope I have given him a fine fright; and yet the moment before, you would have believed that he was no longer master of himself.
When it suited the first consul to exhibit his ill-humour against me, he publicly reproached his brother Joseph for continuing to visit me. Joseph felt it necessary in consequence to absent himself from my house for several weeks, and his example was followed by three fourths of my acquaintance. Those who had been proscribed on the 18th Fructidor, pretended that at that period, I had been guilty of recommending M. de Talleyrand to Barras, for the ministry of foreign affairs: and yet, these people were then continually about that same Talleyrand, whom they accused me of having served. All those who behaved ill to me, were cautious in concealing that they did so for fear of incurring the displeasure of the first consul. Every day, however, they invented some new pretext to injure me, thus exerting all the energy of their political opinions against a defenceless and persecuted woman, and prostrating themselves at the feet of the vilest Jacobins, the moment the first consul had regenerated them by the baptism of his favor.
Fouche, the minister of police, sent for me to say, that the first consul suspected me of having excited my friend who had spoken in the tribunate. I replied to him, which was certainly the truth, that M. Constant was a man of too superior an understanding to make his opinions matter of reproach to a woman, and that besides, the speech in question contained absolutely nothing but reflections on the independence which every deliberative assembly ought to possess, and that there was not a word in it which could be construed into a personal reflection on the first consul. The minister admitted as much. I ventured to add some words on the respect due to the liberty of opinions in a legislative body; but I could easily perceive that he took no interest in these general considerations; he already knew perfectly well, that under the authority of the man whom he wished to serve, principles were out of the question, and he shaped his conduct accordingly. But as he is a man of transcendant understanding in matters of revolution, he had already laid it down as a system to do the least evil possible, the necessity of the object admitted. His preceding conduct certainly exhibited little feeling of morality, and he was frequently in the habit of talking of virtue as an old woman’s story. A remarkable sagacity, however, always led him to choose the good as a reasonable thing, and his intelligence made him occasionally do what conscience would have dictated to others. He advised me to go into the country, and assured me, that in a few days, all would be quieted. But at my return, I was very far from finding it so. …
Suppression of my Work on Germany.—Banishment from France.
Being unable to remain longer in the castle of Chaumont, the proprietors of which had returned from America, I went and fixed myself at a farm called Fosse, which a generous friend lent me.* The house was inhabited by a Vendean soldier, who certainly did not keep it in the nicest order, but who had a loyal good nature that made every thing easy, and an originality of character that was very amusing. Scarcely had we arrived, when an Italian musician, whom I had with me to give lessons to my daughter, began playing upon the guitar; my daughter accompanied upon the harp the sweet voice of my beautiful friend Madame Recamier; the peasants collected round the windows, astonished to see this colony of troubadours, which had come to enliven the solitude of their master. It was there I passed my last days in France, with some friends, whose recollection lives in my heart. Certainly this intimate assemblage, this solitary residence, this agreeable occupation with the fine arts did no harm to any one. We frequently sung a charming air composed by the Queen of Holland, and of which the burden is: ‘Do what you ought, happen what may’. After dinner, we had imagined the idea of seating ourselves round a green table and writing letters to each other, instead of conversing. These varied and multiplied tetes-a-tete amused us so much, that we were impatient to get from table, where we were talking, in order to go and write to one another. When any strangers came in accidentally, we could not bear the interruption of our habits; and our penny post (it is thus we called it) always went its round. The inhabitants of the neighbouring town were somewhat astonished at these new manners, and looked upon them as pedantic, while there was nothing in this game, but a resource against the monotony of solitude. One day a gentleman of the neighbourhood who had never thought of any thing in his life but the chase, came to take my boys with him into the woods; he remained sometime seated at our active but silent table; Madame Recamier wrote a little note with her beautiful hand to this jolly sportsman, in order that he might not be too much a stranger to the circle in which he was placed. He excused himself from receiving it, assuring us that he could never read writing by day-light: we laughed a little at the disappointment which the benevolent coquetry of our beautiful friend had met with, and thought that a billet from her hand would not have always had the same fate. Our life passed in this manner, without any of us, if I may judge from myself, finding the time at all burdensome.
* M. de Salaberry.
The opera of Cinderella was making a great noise at Paris; I wished to go and see it represented at a paltry provincial theatre at Blois. Coming out of the theatre on foot, the people of the place followed me in crowds from curiosity, more desirous of knowing me because I was an exile, than from any other motive. This kind of celebrity which I derived from misfortune, much more than from talent, displeased the minister of police, who wrote sometime after to the prefect of Loir and Cher, that I was surrounded by a court. “Certainly,” said I to the prefect* “it is not power at least which gives it me.”
* M. de Corbigny, an amiable and intelligent man.
I had always the intention of repairing to England by the way of America; but I was anxious to terminate my work on Germany. The season was now advancing; we were already at the fifteenth of September, and I began to foresee that the difficulty of embarking my daughter with me would detain me another winter, in some town, I knew not where, at forty leagues from Paris. I was then desirous that it should be Vendome, where I knew several clever people, and where the communication with the capital was easy. After having formerly had one of the most brilliant establishments in Paris, I was now contented to anticipate considerable pleasure from establishing myself at Vendome; fate however denied me even this modest happiness.
On the 23d of September I corrected the last proof of Germany; after six years’ labor, I felt the greatest delight in putting the word End to my three volumes. I made a list of one hundred persons to whom I wished to send copies, in different parts of France and Europe; I attached great importance to this book, which I thought well adapted to communicate new ideas to France; it appeared to me that a sentiment elevated without being hostile, had inspired it, and that people would find in it a language which was no longer spoken.
Furnished with a letter from my publisher, which assured me that the censorship had authorised the publication of my work, I believed that I had nothing to apprehend, and set out with my friends for an estate of M. Mathieu de Montmorency, at five leagues from Blois. The house belonging to this estate is situated in the middle of a forest; there I walked about with the man whom I most respect in the world, since I have lost my father. The fineness of the weather, the magnificence of the forest, the historical recollections which the place recalled, being the scene of the battle of Fretteval, fought between Philip Augustus and Richard Coeur-de-Lion, all contributed to fill my mind with the most quiet and delightful impressions. My worthy friend, who is only occupied in this world with rendering himself worthy of heaven, in this conversation, as in all those we have had together, paid no attention to affairs of the day, and only sought to do good to my soul. We resumed our journey the next day, and in these plains of the Vendomois, where you meet not with a single habitation, and which like the sea seem to present every where the same appearance, we contrived to lose ourselves completely. It was already midnight, and we knew not what road to take, in a country every where the same, and where fertility is as monotonous as sterility is elsewhere, when a young man on horseback, perceiving our embarrassment, came and requested us to pass the night in the chateau of his parents.* We accepted his invitation, which was doing us a real service, and we found ourselves all of a sudden in the midst of the luxury of Asia, and the elegance of France. The masters of the house had spent a considerable time in India, and their chateau was adorned with every thing they had brought back from their travels. This residence excited my curiosity, and I found myself extremely comfortable in it. Next day M. de Montmorency gave me a note from my son which pressed me to return home, as my work had met with fresh difficulties from the censorship. My friends who were with me in the chateau conjured me to go; I had not the least suspicion of what they were concealing from me, and thinking there was nothing but what Augustus’s letter mentioned,* whiled away the time in examining the Indian curiosities without any idea of what was in store for me. At last I got into the carriage, and my brave and intelligent Vendean whom his own dangers had never moved, squeezed my hand, with tears in his eyes: I guessed immediately that they were making a mystery to me of some new persecution, and M. de Montmorency, in reply to my interrogations, at last acquainted me that the minister of the police had sent his myrmidons to destroy the ten thousand copies which had been printed of my book, and that I had received an order to quit France within three days. My children and friends had wished me not to hear this news while I was among strangers; but they had taken every possible precaution to prevent the seizure of my manuscript, and they succeeded in saving it, some hours before I was required to deliver it up. This new blow affected me most severely, I had flattered myself with an honorable success by the publication of my book: if the censors had in the first instance refused to authorise its being printed, that would have appeared to me very simple; but after having submitted to all their observations, and made all the alterations required of me, to learn that my work was destroyed, and that I must separate my self from the friends who had supported my courage, all this made me shed tears. But I endeavored once more to get the better of my feelings, in order to determine what was best to be done in a crisis where the step I was about to take might have so much influence on the fortunes of my family. As we drew near my habitation, I gave my writing desk, which contained some further notes upon my book, to my youngest son; he jumped over a wall to get into the house by the garden. An English lady*, my excellent friend, came out to meet me and inform me of all that had happened. I observed at a distance some, gendarmes who were wandering round residence, but it did not appear that they were in search of me: they were no doubt in pursuit of some other unfortunates, conscripts, exiles, persons in surveillance, or, in short, of some of the numerous classes of oppressed which the present government of France has created.
* (Note of the Editor.) Uneasy at not seeing my mother arrive, I took horse to go and meet her, in order to soften as much as was in my power, the news which she had to learn upon her return; but I lost myself like her, in the uniform plains of the Vendomois, and it was only in the middle of the night that a fortunate chance conducted me to the gate of the chateau where the rites of hospitality had been given to her. I caused M. de Montmorency to be awakened, and after having informed him of this new instance of the persecution which the imperial police directed against my mother, I set off again to finish putting her papers in safety, leaving to M. de Montmorency the charge of preparing her for the new blow with which she was threatened.
* Miss Randall.
The prefect of Loir and Cher came to require the delivery of my manuscript: I gave him, merely to gain time, a rough copy which remained with me, and with which he was satisfied. I have learned that he was extremely ill-treated a few months afterwards, to punish him for having shewn me some attention: and the chagrin he felt at having incurred the disgrace of the emperor, was, it is said, one of the causes of the illness which carried him off in the prime of life. Unfortunate country, where the circumstances are such, that a man of his understanding and talent should sink under the chagrin of disgrace!
I saw in the papers, that some American vessels had arrived in the ports of the Channel, and I determined to make use of my passport for America, in the hope that it would be possible to touch at an English port. At all events I required some days to prepare for this voyage, and I was obliged to address myself to the minister of police to ask for that indulgence. It has been already seen that the custom of the French government is to order women, as well as soldiers, to depart within twenty-four hours. Here follows the minister’s reply: it is curious to observe his style*.
* (Note of the Editor.)
This is the same letter which was printed in the Preface to Germany,
Paris, 3d October, 1810.
“I have received the letter, madam, which you did me the honor to write to me. Your son will have informed you that I saw no impropriety in your delaying your departure for seven or eight days: I hope they will be sufficient for the arrangements which you have yet to make, as I cannot grant you any more.
“You must not seek for the cause of the order which I have signified to you, in the silence which you have observed with regard to the emperor in your last work; that would be a great mistake; he could find no place there which was worthy of him; but your exile is a natural consequence of the line of conduct you have constantly pursued for several years past. It has appeared to me that the air of this country did not at all agree with you, and we are not yet reduced to seek for models in the nations whom you admire.
“Your last work is not at all French; it is by my orders that the impression has been seized. I regret the loss which it will occasion to the bookseller; but it is not possible for me to allow it to appear.
“You know, madam, that you would not have been permitted to quit Coppet but for the desire you had expressed to go to America. If my predecessor allowed you to reside in the department of Loir and Cher, you had no reason to look upon this license as any revocation of the arrangements which had been fixed with regard to you. At present you compel me to make them be strictly executed; for this you have no one to blame but yourself.
“I have signified to M. Corbigny* to look to the punctual execution of the order I have given him, as soon as the term I grant you is expired.
* Prefect of Loir and Cher.
“I regret extremely, madam, that you have forced me to begin my correspondence with you by an act of severity; it would have been much more agreeable to me to have only had to offer you the assurance of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be, madam,
“Your most humble, and most obedient servant,
Signed the DUKE of ROVIGO.
“P. S, I have reasons, madam, for mentioning to you that the ports of Lorient, La Rochelle, Bourdeaux, and Rochefort, are the only ones in which you can embark. I request you to let me know which of them you select*.”
* This postscript is easily understood; its object was to prevent me from going to England.
The stale hypocrisy with which I was told that the air of this country did not agree with me, and the denial of the real cause of the suppression of my book, are worthy of remark. In fact, the minister of police had shown more frankness in expressing himself verbally respecting me: he asked, why I never named the emperor or the army in my work on Germany? On its being objected that the work being purely literary, I could not well have introduced such subjects, “Do you think,” then replied the minister, “that we have made war for eighteen years in Germany, and that a person of such celebrity should print a book upon it, without saying a word about us? This book shall be destroyed, and the author deserves to be sent to Vincennes.”
On receiving the letter of the minister of police, I paid no attention to any part but that passage of it which interdicted me the ports of the Channel. I had already learned, that suspecting my intention of going to England, they would endeavour to prevent me. This new mortification was really above my strength to bear; on quitting my native country, I must go to that of my adoption; in banishing myself from the friends of my whole life, I required at least to find those friends of whatever is good and noble, with whom, without knowing them personally, the soul always sympathises. I saw at once all that supported my imagination crumbling to pieces; for a moment longer I would have embarked on board any vessel bound for America, in the hope of her being captured on her passage; but I was too much shaken to decide at once on so strong a resolution; and as the two alternatives of America and Coppet were the only ones that were left me, I determined on accepting the latter; for a profound sentiment always attracted me to Coppet, in spite of the disagreeables I was there subjected to.
My two sons both endeavoured to see the emperor at Fontainbleau, where he then was; they were told they would be arrested if they remained there; a fortiori, I was interdicted from going to it myself. I was obliged to return into Switzerland from Blois, where I was, without approaching Paris nearer than forty leagues. The minister of police had given notice, in corsair terms, that at thirty-eight leagues I was a good prize. In this manner, when the emperor exercises the arbitrary power of banishment, neither the exiled persons, nor their friends, nor even their children, can reach his presence to plead the cause of the unfortunates who are thus torn from the objects of their affection and their habits; and these sentences of exile, which are now irrevocable, particularly where women are the objects, and which the emperor himself has rightly termed proscriptions, are pronounced without the possibility of making any justification be heard, supposing always that the crime of having displeased the emperor admits of any.
Although the forty leagues were ordered me, I was necessitated to pass through Orleans, a very dull town, but inhabited by several very pious ladies, who had retired thither for an asylum. In walking about the town on foot, I stopped before the monument erected to the memory of Joan of Arc: certainly, thought I to myself, when she delivered France from the power of the English, that same France was much more free, much more France than it is at present. One feels a singular sensation in wandering through a town, where you neither know, nor are known to a soul. I felt a kind of bitter enjoyment in picturing to myself my isolated situation in its fullest extent, and in still looking at that France which I was about to quit, perhaps for ever, without speaking to a person, or being diverted from the impression which the country itself made upon me. Occasionally persons passing stopped to look at me, from the circumstance I suppose of my countenance having, in spite of me, an expression of grief; but they soon went on again, as it is long since mankind have been accustomed to witness persons suffering.
At fifty leagues from the Swiss frontier, France is bristled with citadels, houses of detention, and towns serving as prisons; and every where you see nothing but individuals deprived of their liberty by the will of one man, conscripts of misfortune, all chained at a distance from the places where they would have wished to live. At Dijon, some Spanish prisoners, who had refused to take the oath, regularly came every day to the market place to feel the sun at noon, as they then regarded him rather as their countryman; they wrapt themselves up in a mantle, frequently in rags, but which they knew how to wear with grace, and they gloried in their misery, as it arose from their boldness; they hugged themselves in their sufferings, as associating them with the misfortunes of their intrepid country. They were sometimes seen going into a coffee house, solely to read the newspaper, in order to penetrate the fate of their friends through the lies of their enemies; their countenances were then immoveable, but not without expression, exhibiting strength under the command of their will. Farther on, at Auxonne, was the residence of the English prisoners, who had the day before saved from fire, one of the houses of the town where they were kept confined. At Besancon, there were more Spaniards. Among the French exiles to be met with in every part of France, an angelic creature inhabited the citadel of Besancon, in order not to quit her father. For a long period, and amidst every sort of danger, Mademoiselle de Saint Simon shared the fortunes of him who had given her birth.
At the entrance of Switzerland, on the top of the mountains which separate it from France, you see the castle of Joux, in which prisoners of state are detained, whose names frequently never reach the ear of their relations. In this prison Toussaint Louverture actually perished of cold; he deserved his fate on account of his cruelty, but the emperor had the least right to inflict it upon him, as he had engaged to guarantee to him his life and liberty. I passed a day at the foot of this castle, during very dreadful weather, and I could not help thinking of this negro transported all at once into the Alps, and to whom this residence was the hell of ice; I thought of the more noble beings, who had been shut up there, of those who were still groaning in it, and I said to myself also that if I was there, I should never quit it with life. It is impossible to convey an idea to the small number of free nations which remain upon the earth, of that absence of all security, the habitual state of the human creatures who live under the empire of Napoleon. In other despotic governments there are laws, and customs, and a religion, which the sovereign never infringes, however absolute he may be; but in France, and in Europe France, as every thing is new, the past can be no guarantee, and every thing may be feared as well as hoped according as you serve, or not, the interests of the man who dares to propose himself, as the sole object of the existence of the whole human race.” Germaine de Staehl, Ten Years’ Exile; Preface, Part-the-First, Chapter 1 & 2, Part-the-Second, Chapter 1, 1821.
the circumstances which rendered the first catalogue imperfect. It was
compiled, in advance of the opening of the Exhibition, from the meagre
material afforded by the original lists sent in by the various commissioners
at home and abroad, and embracing generally only the name of the
Exhibitor, and an indefinite representation of the object or objects he
proposed to exhibit. These were sometimes so illegibly written, or so
obscured by translation into English, as to embarrass greatly the labors
of the Editor. The first catalogue, however, notwithstanding these
obstacles, was a reasonably correct transcript from the proposals of the
contributors to the Exhibition. Its chief imperfection has arisen from the
failure of numerous parties to carry out their proposals. Hundreds of
those whose names appear upon the catalogue, have either altogether
withheld their proposed contributions, or delayed them until weeks after
the opening. The absence of these objects has created great confusion to
the visitor in the use of the catalogue, which, however, has daily grown
more and more correct up to this day.
The absence of the lists of Statuary, Paintings, and objects of Art generally, was another serious imperfection in the first edition, which—however much to be regretted, was utterly unavoidable—since these works must be inspected before they could be catalogued with any degree of correctness.
The present edition will be found, it is believed, free from those imper¬
fections. The task of revision has not been a light one. It has involved
both toil and care for several weeks, during which every available source
of correction has been assiduously resorted to. The frequent erroneous
classification of objects in the first edition, arising from obscure invoices
or ambiguous term.s in the description of goods, has been diligently
corrected. Those parties who have failed to send their goods, have been
excluded from the lists, with the rare exceptions of a few whose contribu¬
tions were unavoidably delayed, and are known to be forthcoming at an
early day. The names and objects of foreign exhibitors have been care¬
fully corrected by their printed cards, or by the original invoices from
their own hands.
The history of the London catalogue of 1851 was so remarkable, that
it was told at great length in the Times and other journals, and eventu¬
ally incorporated into the catalogue itself. The first edition of that work
was still more imperfect than the now superseded edition of this catalogue,
and it is well known that the fourth and last revised edition of it appeared
but a very short time before the close of the Exhibition. The story of the
London catalogue, with its toils, its difficulties, its delays, and its demands
upon the patience of its compilers and the pubhc, is not inapphoable to
the present work. The difference is not in the nature, but in the extent of
the labor, and to those who comprehend both, the history of this manual^
like that of its great prototype, is not without interest.
The Editor has sought diligently to make his work perfect, not with
the expectation of literal success, but with the consciousness that only the
highest possible aim would insure the greatest practicable approximation
He begs the indulgence of all who may still detect errors annoying to
themselves, for they have escaped his best intentioned vigilance.
It would be unjust to close this preface without a cordial acknowledg¬
ment of the aid which has been rendered by the various superintendents
of departments in the Exhibition. They have shared in the solicitude of
the General Superintendents, and of the Editor, to have this catalogue as
correct as possible, and to their co-operation its improved condition is in
a great measure due.
The patience and zeal of the printers in making repeated revisions of
difficult manuscript, and continual additions to the text up to the latest
hour, entitle them to a generous share in these acknowledgments.
It is gratifying to reflect that whatever errors may still be found in the
following pages, they are not beyond the reach of correction; and to no
one will amendment be more grateful than to
Arrangement of tlie Catalogue…………………
Officers of the Association……………….
Description of the Building………………….
Historical Sketch of the Association …………………………
Division into Classes…………………..
Ground Plan of the Building………………….
Plan of the Rotunda…………………..
Hints for the Use of the Catalogue…………………
Plan of the North Nave……………………..
Plan of the South Nave……………………..
Plan of the East Nave……………………..
Plan of the West Nave……………………..
Abbreviations used in the Work……………………..
Position of Countries in the Building………………….
CATALOGUE OP OBJECTS EXHIBITED.
1. United States……………………
2. Great Britain and Ireland…………………..
3. ZoUverein and Germany …………………………
10. British Possessioxs ;
Prince Edward’s Island……………………
12. Sweden and Norway……………………
The Chicago 7 (or 8, minus Bobby Seale)
Culturally and politically, 1968 was one of the most turbulent years America has ever seen. As the Vietnam war became the longest war in U. S. history, American casualties passed the 30,000 mark. When the Viet Cong mounted their Tet offensive, anti-war protests grew larger and louder on college campuses. At Columbia, students seized the office of the President and held three persons hostage to protest the school’s ties to the Defense Department. Two Jesuit priests, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, burned hundreds of draft records at a Selective Service center in Maryland. Following the April assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, riots erupted in 125 cities leaving 46 dead. After Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged incumbent President Lyndon Johnson over his support of the war, Johnson withdrew from the race. Senator Robert Kennedy entered the race after Johnson’s withdrawal, only to be shot and killed on the night in June that he won the California primary. Hair, a controversial new musical about draftees and flower children, introduced frontal nudity to large audiences. Feminists picketed the Miss America Pageant, black students demanded Black Studies programs, and Eldridge Cleaver published Soul on Ice.
Also in 1968, two groups met to discuss using the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Chicago to highlight their opposition to the Vietnam War and establishment values. Although there was some loose coordination between the two groups, they had different leadership, different agendas, and favored different forms of protest and demonstrations. The more politically focused of the two groups was the National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE). The group more focused on promoting an uninhibited lifestyle was the Youth International Party (YIPPIES). In addition to these two groups, organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference also planned to have representatives in Chicago to press their complaints concerning racism in American policies and politics.
Rennie Davis, the national coordinator for MOBE at the time of the Convention, first announced his intentions to come to the Democratic National Convention at a meeting of a group called ‘The Resistance’ in November, 1967, at Judd Hall at the University of Chicago. Davis told the group that he ‘wanted the world to know that there are thousands of young people in this country who do not want to see a rigged convention rubber-stamp another four years of Lyndon Johnson’s war.’ Three months later the newly-formed MOBE held a planning meeting in Chicago to debate four alternative strategies for the upcoming Democratic Convention: a mass disruption strategy, a strategy of uniting behind a peace candidate such as Senator Eugene McCarthy, a ‘stay home’ strategy, and a strategy of bringing as many anti-war people as possible to Chicago for demonstrations and teach-ins. The group of about forty, including attendees Davis and Tom Hayden, generally supported the fourth strategy. In March of 1968, MOBE sponsored another meeting, this one at Lake Villa, a YMCA Camp near Chicago, to discuss plans for August. About 200 persons, including Chicago Seven defendants David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin, attended the meeting. A twenty-one page document, authored by Hayden and Davis, was distributed at the meeting. The document recommended non-violence.
Meanwhile, another group was making its own plans for Chicago. The “YIPPIES” were born, and plans for a “Festival of Life” in Chicago were first discussed in December 1967. Plans for the “Festival of Life”, as they were developed by Yippie founders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, called for a “festival of youth, music, and theater.” In January, the Yippies released an initial call to come to Chicago, called “A STATEMENT FROM YIP”:
“Join us in Chicago in August for an international festival of youth, music, and theater. Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball! Come all you rebels, youth spirits, rock minstrels, truth-seekers, peacock-freaks, poets, barricade-jumpers, dancers, lovers and artists!
“It is summer. It is the last week in August, and the NATIONAL DEATH PARTY meets to bless Lyndon Johnson. We
are there! There are 50,000 of us dancing in the streets, throbbing with amplifiers and harmony. We are making love in the
parks. We are reading, singing, laughing, printing newspapers, groping, and making a mock convention, and celebrating the
birth of FREE AMERICA in our own time.
“Everything will be free. Bring blankets, tents, draft-cards, body-paint, Mr. Leary’s Cow, food to share, music, eager skin,
and happiness. The threats of LBJ, Mayor Daley, and J. Edgar Freako will not stop us. We are coming! We are coming from
all over the world!
“The life of the American spirit is being torn asunder by the forces of violence, decay, and the napalm-cancer fiend. We
demand the Politics of Ecstasy! We are the delicate spores of the new fierceness that will change America. We will create our
own reality, we are Free America! And we will not accept the false theater of the Death Convention.
“We will be in Chicago. Begin preparations now! Chicago is yours! Do it!”
Hoffman and Rubin continued, over the next several months leading up to the Convention, to propose ever more wild plans for the Festival of Life. Rubin announced plans to nominate a pig, Pigasus the Immortal, for President. Hoffman talked about a demonstration of public fornication, calling it a “fuck-in.” A Yippie Program, distributed in August of 1968, urged Festival attendees to bring “sleeping bags, extra food, blankets, bottles of fireflies, cold cream, lots of handkerchiefs and canteens to deal with pig spray, love beads, electric toothbrushes, see-through blouses, manifestos, magazines, and tenacity.” The program promised poetry readings, mass meditation, “political arousal speeches,” fly casting exhibitions, rock music, and “a dawn ass-washing ceremony.” There were also activities mentioned in the program that were somewhat problematic for the alleged conspirators’ trial defense:
“Psychedelic long-haired mutant-jissomed peace leftists will consort with known dope fiends, spilling out onto the sidewalks in pornape disarray each afternoon….Two-hundred thirty rebel cocksmen under secret vows are on a 24-hour alert to get the pants of the daughters and wifes and kept women of the convention delegates.”
At trial, Hoffman suggested that the proposal of outlandish events in the Yippie program and in speeches by Yippie leaders was simply a way of having “fun.” He said that no one was expected to take the events seriously [link to Hoffman testimony].
National Guard jeeps in Chicago
Chicago officials, led by Mayor Richard Daley, saw the Democratic National Convention as a grand opportunity to promote their city to the world. They resolved not to have anti-war demonstrators spoil their plans. Pre-Convention sparring between the City and protest groups concerned the request of the Yippies to allow demonstrators to sleep in city parks. City Administrator Stahl indicated on August 5, 1968 that the request for permission to sleep in the parks would be denied and that an 11 P.M. curfew would be enforced. On August 23, officials ordered city police to post signs in parks announcing the curfew. As the Convention opening approached, Daley put the city’s 12,000 police officers on twelve-hour shifts. In addition, 7,500 Army troops and 6,000 national guardsmen, requested by Daley to aid in keeping order, arrived in Chicago.
Mayor Richard Daley
In late August, mostly student-aged anti-war and counter-culture activists began arriving in Chicago. Several thousand would eventually participate in the Convention week protests (a number far below the 100,000-person estimate that some organizers had predicted). Several days before the convention, demonstration leaders began holding classes in Lincoln Park on karate, snake dancing, and other means of self-defense. Preparations were woefully inadequate for the level of police violence that demonstrators would face. On Friday, August 23, MOBE learned that a federal district judge had denied their request for an injunction that would have forced the city to allow use of the parks after 11 P. M.
Allan Ginsberg (with beard) in Lincoln Park
The next day radical leaders held a contentious meeting to discuss whether demonstrators should abide by the city’s curfew. Among those favoring compliance with the curfew was Jerry Rubin; among those urging violation of the curfew was Abbie Hoffman. The first significant confrontations between demonstrators and protesters occurred that night. Some people were tear-gassed. A more serious confrontation with police was avoided when poet Allen Ginsberg led demonstrators out of Lincoln Park “Om-ing” (chanting “Ommmmmm”).
Jerry Rubin with a pig
Sunday, August 25 was to be the much heralded “Festival of Life” featuring rock music and Yippie revelry. Only the band MC5 showed up, but even they were reluctant to perform. They feared that police would destroy their sound system. The young people who gathered in the park on Sunday evening handed out flowers, smoked pot, made out, and listened to poetry. About 10:30, a police officer with a bullhorn walked through the park saying, “The park is closing. If you stay in the park, you’ll be arrested.” Some young people, most of them local “greasers” rather than out-of-town protesters, threw objects at a police car. At 11 P. M., police charged into the people still in the park, tear gassing them and hitting them with billy clubs. The clearing of the park continued for hours. Some kids ran around smashing car windows and vandalizing buildings.
Police cracked more heads and fired more tear-gas grenades again the next night. They attacked about 3,000 demonstrators gathered in the southeastern corner of Lincoln Park shortly after the 11 P. M. curfew. Testifying later about that night, Robert Pierson, an undercover officer working as Hoffman’s bodyguard, said that the Yippie leader announced, “We’re going to hold the park. We’re going to fuck up the pigs and the Convention.” Shortly after midnight, Tom Hayden became the first of the alleged conspirators to be arrested. An officer spotted Hayden letting the air out of the tires of a police car. A half hour later, Rennie Davis (according to a prosecution undercover witness) stood at the barricades in Lincoln Park with a megaphone shouting at people to “fight the pigs.”
Bobby Seale in Lincoln Park
August 27 was another wild day in Chicago. It began with a sunrise service of chants, prayers, and meditation in Lincoln Park, led by Allen Ginsberg. Bobby Seale arrived in Chicago and addressed a crowd of about 2,000 in Lincoln Park. His speech, advocating a violent response to police, was later made the basis for charging him with a violation of the 1968 Anti-Riot Act. Abbie Hoffman, furious with MOBE for its continued advocacy of non-violence, allegedly met with the Blackstone Rangers to persuade them to come to the park with weapons that night. In the Chicago Coliseum, about 4,000 persons gathered to hear David Dellinger, folk singer Phil Ochs, novelist William Burroughs and a variety of other peace movement celebrities. Shortly after 11 P. M., the nightly routine of clubbing and tear gassing repeated in the park. Some enraged demonstrators smashed windows and streetlights.
Demonstrators mass along Michigan Avenue
Convention week violence peaked on Wednesday, August 28. The day began with Abbie Hoffman being arrested while having breakfast and charged with public indecency for having written the word “Fuck” on his forehead. (Hoffman said he did so to discourage the press from photographing him.) In the afternoon, Dellinger, Seale, Davis, and Hayden addressed 10,000 to 15,000 demonstrators at the band shell in Grant Park, opposite the Convention’s headquarters hotel, the Conrad Hilton. Tom Hayden allegedly told the audience: “Make sure that if blood is going to flow, let it flow all over the city. If we’re going to be disrupted and violated, let the whole stinking city be disrupted. I’ll see you in the streets!” Around 3 P.M., some people in the crowd lowered an American flag from a flagpole and attempted to raise a red flag in its place. When the police moved in to retrieve the American flag, Jerry Rubin yelled “Kill the pigs! Kill the cops!” In another incident, Rennie Davis was clubbed into unconsciousness, taken to a hospital, then covered with a sheet and moved from room to room in a successful effort to foil police who planned to arrest Davis during a search of the hospital. That evening, in the Chicago Amphitheatre, Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey as their candidate for President. Police stopped a nighttime march of about 1,500 people to the Amphitheatre. They attacked demonstrators with tear gas and clubs at numerous street intersections in the area.
The clubbing and the tear gassing finally let up on Thursday, but protest activities continued. Senator Eugene McCarthy and comedian Dick Gregory were among those who addressed a crowd in Grant Park. Police undercover officer Irwin Bock met in the park with John Froinesand Lee Weiner. Froines allegedly said that the demonstrators needed more ammunition to use against police. Weiner reportedly then suggested Molotov cocktails, adding that a good tactic might be to pick a target in the Loop and bomb it. Weiner told Bock and others to get the bottles, sand, rags, and gasoline necessary to make the Molotov cocktails.
Until enactment of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, rioting and incitement to riot was a strictly local law enforcement issue. Congress, however, felt compelled to respond to the ever-increasing numbers of anti-war protests around the country. The new law made it a federal crime to cross state lines with the intent to incite a riot. Even after passage of the law, Attorney General Ramsey Clark and the Justice Department were reluctant to enforce the new provisions. Clark viewed what had happened in Chicago as primarily a police riot. The Attorney General expressed more interest in prosecuting police officers for brutality than in prosecuting demonstrators for rioting.
The Justice Department’s lack of interest in prosecuting protest leaders outraged Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Daley convinced a close friend and federal judge, William Campbell, to summon a grand jury to consider possible violations of the anti-riot law. On March 20, 1969, the jury returned indictments against eight demonstrators, balanced exactly by indictments against eight police officers. The eight indicted demonstrators included Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. By the time the grand jury returned its indictments, the Nixon Administration had begun. The new attorney general, John Mitchell, exhibited none of his predecessor’s reluctance about prosecuting demonstrators. Mitchell gave the green light to prosecute.
On September 24, 1969, thirteen months after the riots that shocked America, the trial of the so-called “Chicago Eight” began in the oak-paneled, twenty-third-floor courtroom of Judge Julius Hoffman. The 300 members of the panel of potential jurors were overwhelmingly white, middle-class and middle-aged. They reminded author and trial observer J. Anthony Lukas of “the Rolling Meadows Bowling League lost on their way to the lanes.” Defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass submitted to Judge Hoffman a list of fifty-four proposed questions for potential jurors. They believed that the questions might aid them in their use of juror challenges by revealing cultural biases. Among the questions the defense attorneys wanted to ask jurors were: “Do you know who Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix are?”, “Would you let your son or daughter marry a Yippie?”, and “If your children are female, do they wear brassieres all the time?” Judge Hoffman rejected all but one of the proposed questions, asking the jurors only “Are you, or do you have any close friends or relatives who are employed by any law enforcement agencies?” (Later, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals would cite the judge’s refusal to allow inquiry into the potential cultural biases of jurors as a ground for reversing all convictions.) Three hours after voir dire began, a jury of two white men and ten women, two black and eight white, was seated. It was clearly not a good jury for the defense. (After the trial, one female juror commented that the defendants “should be convicted for their appearance, their language and their lifestyle.” Edward Kratzke, the jury foreman, also was angered by the defendants’ courtroom behavior: “These defendants wouldn’t even stand up when the judge walked in; when there is no more respect we might as well give up the United States.” A third juror expressed the view that the demonstrators “should have been shot down by the police.”)
The defense and prosecution tables stood in dramatic contrast. At the defense table, defendants relaxed in blue jeans and sweatshirts, often with their feet up on chairs or the table itself. Hoffman and Rubin favored attire that included headbands, buttons, beads, and colorful shirts. The defendants passed trial hours munching jelly beans, cracking jokes, offering editorial comments, making faces, reading newspapers, and sleeping. The area around the defense table was littered with clothing, candy wrappers, and even (on one day) a package of marijuana. The prosecution table, behind which sat silver-haired District Attorney Thomas Foran and his young assistant Richard Schultz in their business suits, was, on the other hand, a picture of neatness and efficiency. The prosecution table was clear of all but carefully arranged notes, a file of index cards, and a pencil.
Rubin and Hoffman in judicial robes
There was division in the defense ranks concerning trial strategy. Some of the defendants, such as Tom Hayden, wanted to play the trial straight: to concentrate on winning jurors by diligently pursuing weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and by observing a degree of courtroom decorum. Others, such as Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, saw the trial as an opportunity to appeal to young people around the country. [Link to interview with Hoffman about trial.] They wanted to turn the trial into entertaining theater that would receive maximum attention in the press. To that end, the Yippies would spice up the days of the trial by, for example, wearing judicial robes, bringing into the courtroom a birthday cake, blowing kisses to the jury, baring their chests, or placing the flag of the National Liberation Front on the defense table.
In his trial account The Barnyard Epithet an Other Obscenities, J. Anthony Lukas divides the Chicago Conspiracy Trial into five “phases.” The first period, which Lukas calls “The Jelly Bean Phase,” lasted from September 24 to October 13. It was a relatively uneventful stage, in which the defendants took a “gently mocking” stance toward the trial. The second period, the “Gags and Shackles Phase,” lasted from October 14 to November 5. This phase by the defendants sought to emphasize political issues in the trial, perhaps because they were concerned that the trial was being seen by their sympathizers as a mere joke. Also during this phase, Black Panther defendant Bobby Seale continuously, and in increasingly angry tones, insisted upon his right either to represent himself or to have the trial continued until his own counsel of choice, Charles Garry (who was hospitalized for gall bladder surgery), could represent him. Seale hurled frequent and bitter attacks at Judge Hoffman, calling him a “fascist dog,” a “pig,” and a “racist,” among other things. On October 29, the outraged judge ordered Seale bound and gagged. Finally, on November 5, Hoffman severed Seale from the case and sentenced him to four years in prison for contempt. The Chicago Eight suddenly became the Chicago Seven. Phase three, lasting from November 6 to December 10, was called by Lukas “Government’s Day in Court.” It was a relatively calm period with only nine contempts, as the defendants saw in a surprisingly weak prosecution case the opportunity for at least a hung jury if they could “cool it” and avoid turning the jury against them. Phase four, from December 11 to January 22 was the “Sing Along with Phil and Judy Phase.” This was the phase in which the defense presented its witnesses, a virtual “who’s who” of the American left from the guru of the drug culture Timothy Leary to radical poet Allen Ginsberg to folk singers Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, “Country Joe” McDonald, Pete Seeger and Judy Collins. The final phase of the trial, from January 23 to February 7, Lukas called the “Barnyard Epithet Phase.” It was a two-week period marked by increasingly bitter outbursts by the defendants and their attorneys, and by almost irrational overreactions by Judge Hoffman. Forty-eight contempts came in this shortest of the five trial phases.
The heart of the government’s case was presented through the testimony of three undercover agents who had infiltrated radical ranks, Irwin Bock, William Frappolly, and Robert Pierson. Pierson landed a job as Rubin’s “bodyguard,” while Bock and Frappolly maneuvered their way into leadership positions in “Vets for Peace” and the S. D. S. (Students for a Democratic Society). The undercover witnesses described plots to disrupt traffic, takeover hotels, “sabotage” restrooms, and other “hit-and-run guerilla tactics.” The government’s case was aided substantially by Judge Hoffman who consistently ruled in favor of the prosecution on evidentiary disputes. For example, Hoffman allowed the government to introduce speeches of the defendants made well before their arrival in Chicago when they tended to support the government’s case, but ruled that the defense could not introduce (because they were “self-serving”) pre-Convention documents that suggested peaceable intentions. Throughout the presentation of the government’s case, Thomas Foran played the straight man, while his younger associate, Richard Shultz, expressed outrage at defense behavior and–whenever the opportunity arose–went for the jugular. J. Anthony Lukas marveled that “Shultz could have made the first robin of spring sound like a plot by the Audubon Society.”
The defense through its witnesses tried to portray the defendants as committed idealists who reacted spontaneously to escalating police violence. It suggested that what the prosecution saw as dangerous plots, such as an alleged Yippie conspiracy to place LSD in the Chicago water supply, were only play. The defense also attempted, without much success because of Judge Hoffman’s rulings excluding such testimony, to make the Viet Nam War an issue in the trial. The defense countered the prosecution’s attempt to prove a conspiracy with evidence that the alleged conspirators never met as a group–and would have agreed upon little if they had. Defense witness Norman Mailerprobably made the point best when he said, “Left-wingers are incapable of conspiracy because they’re all egomaniacs.” Abbie Hoffman made the same point more colorfully when he said, “Conspiracy? Hell, we couldn’t agree on lunch.”
Judge Julius Hoffman
The jury had scarcely begun its deliberations in the Chicago Conspiracy Trial when Judge Hoffman began sentencing each of the defendants and the two defense attorneys, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass, to lengthy prison terms on 159 specifications for criminal contempt. The specifications ranged from minor acts of disrespect (such as not standing for the judge) to playful acts (such as baring rib cages or blowing kisses to the jury) to insulting or questioning the integrity of the court (“liar,” “hypocrite,” and “fascist dog”). William Kunstler, who seemingly became a radicalized brother of his clients over the course of the trial, was sentenced by Hoffman to four years and thirteen days in jail. One specification for Kunstler concerned an incident on February 3 when he said “I am going to turn back to my seat with the realization that everything I have learned throughout my life has come to naught, that there is no meaning in this court, there is no law in this court.” The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals later reversed all contempt convictions, ruling that contempt convictions resulting in more than six months in prison require jury trials.
The jury initially split, with eight jurors voting to convict defendants on both the conspiracy and intent to incite riot charges and four jurors voting to acquit on all charges. Foreman Edward Kratzke handed a hung-jury message to the marshal to take to Judge Hoffman. The judge’s response: “Keep deliberating!” Juror Kay Richards finally brokered a compromise between the two jury factions. In the end, jurors acquitted all defendants on the conspiracy charge, while finding the five defendants charged with having an intent to incite a riot while crossing state lines guilty. The jury acquitted Froines and Weiner of the charge of teaching and demonstrating the use of an incendiary device.
On February 20, 1970, Judge Hoffman sentenced the five members of the Chicago Seven found guilty by the jury. Each defendant made a statement before sentence was imposed. David Dellinger told Hoffman that he was ‘a man who had too much power over too many people for too many years,’ but that he admired his ‘spunk.’ Rennie Davis announced that when he got out of prison he intended to ‘move next door to [prosecutor] Tom Foran, and bring his sons and daughter into the revolution.’ Tom Hayden offered the opinion that ‘we would hardly have been notorious characters if they left us alone on the streets of Chicago,’ but instead ‘we became the architects, the masterminds, and the geniuses of a conspiracy to overthrow the government– we were invented.’ Abbie Hoffman recommended that the judge try LSD: ‘I know a good dealer in Florida [where the judge was soon to head for a vacation]; I could fix you up.’ Jerry Rubin offered the judge a copy of his new book Do It! with an inscription inside: ‘Julius, you radicalized more young people than we ever could. You’re the country’s top Yippie.’ After listening to each defendant give his statement, Judge Hoffman sentenced each defendant to five years’ imprisonment plus a $5,000 fine.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed all convictions on November 21, 1972. The appellate court based its decision on the refusal to allow inquiry into the cultural biases of potential jurors during voir dire as well as Judge Hoffman’s ‘deprecatory and often antagonistic attitude toward the defense.’ The court also noted that it was determined after appellate argument that the F. B. I, with the knowledge and complicity of Judge Hoffman and prosecutors, had bugged the offices of the Chicago defense attorneys. The Court of Appeals panel said that it had ‘little doubt but that the wrongdoing of F. B. I. agents would have required reversal of the convictions on the substantive charges.’
Hoffman, Dellinger and Seale in Chicago twenty years after their trial
All seven Chicago police officers charged with violating the civil rights of demonstrators were acquitted. Charges against an eighth officer were dismissed. Richard Shultz explained the verdicts by observing, ‘The people who sit on juries in this city are just not ready to convict a Chicago policeman.’
There is no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question of whether the Chicago defendants intended to incite a riot in Chicago in 1968. Abbie Hoffman said, ‘I don’t know whether I’m innocent or I’m guilty.’ The reason for the confusion–as Norman Mailer pointed out–was that the alleged conspirators ‘understood that you didn’t have to attack the fortress anymore.’ All they had to do was ‘surround it, make faces at the people inside and let them have nervous breakdowns and destroy themselves.'” Douglas Linder, “The Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial: an Account;” 1995. http://www.famous-trials.com/
Growing up in this idyllic home and landscape of England was the foundation of my lifelong love of the plant kingdom and the natural world. The other day, when I was looking through a box of childhood treasures that had been lovingly preserved by my mother, I came across a ‘Nature Notebook,’ in which the 12-year-old Jane, with great attention to detail, had sketched and painted a number of local plants and flowers. Beside each drawing or watercolor I had handwritten a detailed description of the plant, based on my careful observations and probably a bit of book research. This was not a schoolbook. This wasn’t done for an assignment. I just loved to draw and paint and write about the plant world.
I used to read, curled up in front of the fire, on winter evenings. Then I traveled in my imagination to The Secret Garden with Mary and Colin and Dickon. I was entranced by C.S. Lewis’ Voyage to Venus, in which he describes, so brilliantly, flowers and fruits, tastes and colors and scents unknown on planet Earth. I raced through the skies with little Diamond, who was curled up in the flowing hair of the Lady North Wind, as she showed him what was going on in the world, the beauty and the sadness and the joy (At the Back of the North Wind). And, of course, I was utterly in love with Mole and Ratty and Mr. Badger in The Wind in the Willows. If The Lord of the Rings had been written when I was a child, there is no doubt I would have been entranced by Treebeard and the ancient forest of Fangorn, and Lothlórien, the enchanted forest of the elves.
And so I write now to acknowledge the enormous debt we owe to the plants and to celebrate the beauty, mystery and complexity of their world. That we may save this world before it is too late.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had eyes that could see underground? So that we could observe everything down there in the same way we can look up through the skies to the stars. When I look at a giant tree I marvel at the gnarled trunk, the spreading branches, the multitude of leaves. Yet that is only half of the tree being—the rest is far, far down, penetrating deep beneath the ground.
There are so many kinds of roots. Aerial roots grow above the ground, such as those on epiphytes—which are plants growing on trees or sometimes buildings, taking water and nutrients from the air and rain—including many orchids, ferns, mosses and so on. Aerial roots are almost always adventitious, roots that can grow from branches, especially where they have been wounded, or from the tips of stems. Taproots, like those of carrots, act as storage organs. The small, tough adventitious roots of some climbing plants, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, enable the stems to cling to tree trunks—or the walls of our houses—with a viselike grip.
In the coastal mangrove swamps in Africa and Asia, I have seen how the trees live with their roots totally submerged in water. Because these roots are able to exclude salt, they can survive in brackish water, even that which is twice as saline as the ocean. Some mangrove trees send down “stilt roots” from their lowest branches; others have roots that send tubelike structures upward through the mud and water and into the air, for breathing.
Then there are those plants, such as the well-known mistletoe, beloved by young lovers at Christmastime but hated by foresters, that are parasitic, sending roots deep into the host tree to steal its sap. The most advanced of the parasitic plants have long ago given up any attempt at working for their own food—their leaves have become like scales, or are missing altogether.
The strangler fig is even more sinister. Its seeds germinate in the branches of other trees and send out roots that slowly grow down toward the ground. Once the end touches the soil it takes root. The roots hanging down all around the support tree grow into saplings that will eventually strangle the host. I was awestruck when I saw the famed temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, utterly embraced by the gnarled roots of a giant and ancient strangler fig. Tree and building are now so entwined that each would collapse without the support of the other.
The so-called clonal trees have remarkable root systems that seem capable of growing over hundreds of thousands of years. The most famous of them—Pando, or the Trembling Giant—has a root system that spreads out beneath more than 100 acres in Utah and has been there, we are told, for 80,000 to one million years! The multiple stems of this colony (meaning the tree trunks) age and die but new ones keep coming up. It is the roots that are so ancient.
The variety of leaves seems almost infinite. They are typically green from the chlorophyll that captures sunlight, and many are large and flat so as to catch the maximum amount. Indeed, some tropical leaves are so huge that people use them for umbrellas—and they are very effective, as I discovered during an aboriginal ceremony in Taiwan, when we were caught in a tropical downpour.
Orangutans have also learned to use large leaves during heavy rain. My favorite story concerns an infant, who was rescued from a poacher and was being looked after in a sanctuary. During one rainstorm she was sitting under the shelter provided but, after staring out, rushed into the rain, picked a huge leaf, and ran back to hold it over herself as she sat in the dry shelter.
Some leaves are delicate, some are tough and armed with prickles, yet others are long and stiff like needles. The often-vicious spines of the cactus are actually modified leaves—in these plants it is the stems that capture the energy from the sun. I used to think that the brilliant red of the poinsettia and the varied colors of bougainvillea were flowers, but, of course, they are leaves adapted to attract pollinating insects to the very small, insignificant-looking flowers in the center.
And then there are the most extraordinary leaves of that bizarre plant Welwitschia mirabilis. Each plant has only two leaves. They look like quite ordinary, long-shaped leaves on young plants, but they continue to grow, those exact same two leaves, for as long as the plant lives. Which may be more than 1,000 years. The Welwitschia was first discovered in Africa’s Namib Desert by Dr. Friedrich Welwitsch in 1859 and it is said that he fell to his knees and stared and stared, in silence. He sent a specimen to Sir Joseph Hooker, at Kew botanical gardens in London—and Sir Joseph for several months became obsessed with it, devoting hours at a time to studying, writing about and lecturing about the botanical oddity. It is, indeed, one of the most amazing plants on Earth, a living fossil, a relict of the cone-bearing plants that dominated the world during the Jurassic period. Imagine—this gangly plant, which Charles Darwin called “the duckbill of the vegetable kingdom,” has survived as a species, unchanged, for 135 million to 205 million years. Originally, its habitat was lush, moist forest, yet it has now adapted to a very different environment—the harsh Namib of southern Africa.
If plants could be credited with reasoning powers, we would marvel at the imaginative ways they bribe or ensnare other creatures to carry out their wishes. And no more so than when we consider the strategies devised for the dispersal of their seeds. One such involves coating their seeds in delicious fruit and hoping that they will be carried in the bellies of animals to be deposited, in feces, at a suitable distance from the parent.
Darwin was fascinated by seed dispersal (well, of course—he was fascinated by everything) and he once recorded, in his diary, “Hurrah! A seed has just germinated after twenty one and a half hours in an owl’s stomach.” Indeed, some seeds will not germinate unless they have first passed through the stomach and gut of some animal, relying on the digestive juices to weaken their hard coating. The antelopes on the Serengeti plain perform this service for the acacia seeds.
In Gombe Stream National Park in western Tanzania, the chimpanzees, baboons and monkeys are marvelous dispersers of seeds. When I first began my study, the chimpanzees were often too far away for me to be sure what they were eating, so in addition to my hours of direct observation I would search for food remains—seeds, leaves, parts of insects or other animals—in their dung. Many field biologists around the world do the same.
Some seeds are covered in Velcrolike burs (Where do you think the idea of Velcro came from, anyway?) or armed with ferocious hooks so that a passing animal, willy-nilly, is drafted into servitude. Gombe is thick with seeds like this and I have spent hours plucking them from my hair and clothes. Sometimes my socks have been so snarled with barbs that by the time they are plucked out, the socks are all but useless. Some seeds are caught up in the mud that water birds carry from place to place on their feet and legs.
Is it not amazing that a small germ of life can be kept alive—sometimes for hundreds of years—inside a protective case where it waits, patiently, for the right conditions to germinate? Is it not stretching the imagination when we are told of a seed that germinated after a 2,000-year sleep? Yet this is what has happened.
The story begins with several seeds of the Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) found by archaeologists studying the ruins of King Herod’s castle fortress Masada on the shores of the Dead Sea. Small fragments of the seedcase of two of these date seeds were used for carbon dating. The remaining three were planted—and of these one grew, a seedling that they named Methuselah after the biblical character, Noah’s grandfather, who was said to have lived for 969 years.
Although Methuselah is the oldest seed to have been woken from a long sleep, there are other very old seeds that have germinated, such as the single lotus seed (Nelumbo nucifera) found in China in an ancient lake bed and carbon-dated at 1,288 years, plus or minus 271 years. Another seed—of the flowering perennial Canna compacta, carbon-dated at about 600 years old—had survived for goodness knows how long in a walnut shell that was used for a ceremonial rattle.
And then there is the delightful story of some seeds collected in China in 1793 that were housed in the British Museum. These seeds, at least 147 years old, started to germinate in 1940 when they were accidentally “watered” by a hose used to extinguish a fire!
A miracle of a different sort took place when a couple of seeds of an extinct plant, Cylindrocline lorencei, a beautiful flowering shrub, were—quite literally—brought back from the dead. In 1996 only one individual plant remained, growing in the Plaine Champagne area of Mauritius. And then this last survivor died also. The only hope for saving the species lay in a few seeds that had been collected by botanist Jean-Yves Lesouëf 14 years before and stored in Brest Botanic Garden in France. Unfortunately, however, all attempts to germinate these seeds failed.
But plant people do not easily give up. Using new techniques, horticulturists found that small clusters of cells in the embryo tissue of just one or two of the seeds were still alive. Eventually, painstakingly, three clones were produced. And finally, in 2003, nine years from the beginning of their efforts, those three clones flowered—and produced seeds!
When I visited Kew, horticultu- ralist Carlos Magdalena showed me their plant, donated by the botanical gardens in Brest, derived from one of those original clones. As I looked at it I felt a sense of awe. What an example of the determination and perseverance of the horticulturists—and thank goodness for the intrepid botanists who have collected seeds around the world and, in so many cases, saved precious life-forms from extinction. Plans are now underway to return Cylindrocline lorencei to its faraway home on Mauritius.
While I was still gazing at this plant, Carlos smiled and said, “This is like if tomorrow we find a frozen mammoth in Siberia and even though the mammoth is dead, a few cells in the bone marrow are still alive and from it a whole mammoth can be cloned.”
Almost one year later, I heard how Russian scientists, led by Svetlana Yashina, had been able to regenerate a plant from fruit tissue that had been frozen in the Siberian permafrost for over 30,000 years! This plant, miraculously given new life, has been called Silene stenophylla. And, most exciting of all, it is fertile, producing white flowers and viable seeds.
It was found in a stash of plants and fruit in the burrow of an ice age squirrel 125 feet below the present surface of the permafrost. And in the same ice layer were the bones of large mammals, such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer. And the researchers claim that their success with S. stenophylla shows that tissue can survive in ice for tens of thousands of years and opens “the way to the possible resurrection of ice age mammals.” Carlos’ remark was uncannily prophetic.
I have always loved trees. I remember once, when I was about 6 years old, bursting into tears and frantically hitting an older cousin (with my little hands only) because he was stamping on a small sapling at the bottom of the garden. He told me he hated trees because they “made wind”! Even at 6 years I knew how wrong he was. I have already mentioned the trees in my childhood garden—the most special being a beech tree. I persuaded my grandmother to leave Beech to me in a last will and testament that I drew up, making it look as legal as I could, and she signed it for me on my 11th birthday.
In Gombe, when I walked alone up to the Peak—the observation point from which, using my binoculars, I could usually locate the chimpanzees—I would pause to talk to some of the trees I passed each day. There was the huge old fig tree, with great wide branches, laden with fruit and feasting chimpanzees, monkeys, birds and insects in the summer, and the very tall and upright mvule, or “dudu tree,” which attracted chimpanzees to feed on white galls made by a lace bug in the spring. Then there were the groves of the mgwiza, or “plum tree,” that grew near the streams, and the mbula and msiloti of the open woodlands, all of which provide, in their seasons, plentiful food for the chimpanzees—and other creatures too.
Of all the trees at Gombe it was the gnarled old fig tree that I loved best. How long had he stood there? How many rains had he known and how many wild storms had tossed his branches? With modern technology we could answer those questions. We even know, today, when the first trees appeared on planet Earth.
From the fossil record, it has been suggested that trees appeared about 370 million years ago, about 100 million years after the first plants had gained a foothold on the land. I can well imagine the excitement of the scientists working at a site in Gilboa, New York, who, in 2004, discovered a 400-pound fossil that was the crown of a fernlike tree. The following year they found fragments of a 28-foot-high trunk. And suddenly they realized the significance of the hundreds of upright fossil tree stumps that had been exposed during a flash flood over a century earlier. Those tree stumps were just a few miles away from their site and were estimated to be 385 million years old—the crown and the new trunk fragments were the same age. The newly discovered species Eospermatopteris is commonly known as Wattieza, which actually refers to the type of foliage.
It seems that these treelike plants spread across the land and began the work of sending roots down into the ground, breaking up the hard surface and eventually forming the first forests. And as their numbers increased they played an increasingly important role in removing C02 from the atmosphere and cooling Devonian temperatures. Thus they prepared things for the proliferation of land animals across the barren landscape of the early Devonian.
The Archaeopteris, which flourished in the late Devonian period, 385 to 359 million years ago, is the most likely candidate so far for the ancestor of modern trees. It was a woody tree with a branched trunk, but it reproduced by means of spores, like a fern. It could reach more than 30 feet in height, and trunks have been found with diameters of up to three feet. It seems to have spread rather fast, occupying areas around the globe wherever there were wet soils, and soon became the dominant tree in the spreading early forests, continuing to remove C02 from the atmosphere.
And then there are the “living fossils,” the cycads. They look like palms but are in fact most closely related to the evergreen conifers: pines, firs and spruces. They were widespread throughout the Mesozoic Era, 250 million to 65 million years ago—most commonly referred to as the “Age of the Reptiles,” but some botanists call it the “Age of the Cycads.” I remember Louis Leakey talking about them as we sat around the fire at Olduvai Gorge in the eastern Serengeti Plain, and imagining myself back in that strange prehistoric era. Today there are about 200 species throughout the tropical and semi- tropical zones of the planet.
Once the first forests were established both plant and animal species took off, conquering more and more habitats, adapting to the changing environment through sometimes quite extraordinary adaptations. Throughout the millennia new tree species have appeared, while others have become extinct due to competition or changing environments. Today there are an estimated 100,000 species of trees on planet Earth.
The oldest trees in the United Kingdom are English yews. Many of them are thought to be at least 2,000 years old—and it is quite possible that some individuals may have been on planet Earth for 4,000 years, the very oldest being the Fortingall Yew in Scotland. Yew trees were often planted in graveyards—they were thought to help people face death—and early churches were often built close to one of these dark, and to me, mysterious trees.
Almost every part of the yew is poisonous—only the bright red flesh around the highly toxic seed is innocent and delicious. It was my mother, Vanne, who taught my sister, Judy, and me that we could join the birds in feasting on this delicacy. How well I remember her telling us this as we stood in the dark, cool shade of a huge yew tree, whose thickly leaved branches cut out the brilliant sunshine outside. The tree grew outside an old church, but, the churchwarden told Vanne, the tree was far older than the church. We plucked the low-growing berries, separating out the soft flesh in our mouths and spitting out the deadly seed.
Of all the trees in the world, the one I would most like to meet, whose location is top-secret, is the Wollemi pine. It was discovered by David Noble, a New South Wales parks and wildlife officer, who was leading an exploration group in 1994, about 100 miles northwest of Sydney, Australia. They were searching for new canyons when they came across a particularly wild and gloomy one that David couldn’t resist exploring.
After rappelling down beside a deep gorge and trekking through the remote forest below, David and his group came upon a tree with unusual-looking bark. David picked a few leaves, stuck them in his backpack and showed them to some botanists after he got home. For several weeks the excitement grew, as the leaves could not be identified by any of the experts. The mystery was solved when it was discovered that the leaves matched the imprint of an identical leaf on an ancient rock. They realized the newly discovered tree was a relative of a tree that flourished 200 million years ago. What an amazing find—a species that has weathered no less than 17 ice ages!
The Tree That Survived 9/11
My last story comes from another dark chapter in human history. A day in 2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked, when the Twin Towers fell, when the world changed forever. I was in New York on that terrible day, traveling with my friend and colleague Mary Lewis. We were staying in mid-Manhattan at the Roger Smith Hotel. First came the confused reporting from the television screen. Then another colleague arrived, white and shaken. She had been on the very last plane to land before the airport closed, and she actually saw, from the taxi, the plane crashing into the second tower.
Disbelief. Fear. Confusion. And then the city went gradually silent until all we could hear was the sound of police car sirens and the wailing of ambulances. People disappeared from the streets. It was a ghost town, unreal.
It was eight days before there was a plane on which we could leave.
Ironically, we were flying to Portland, Oregon, where I had to give a talk, to a boys’ secondary school, entitled “Reason for Hope.” It was, without doubt, the hardest lecture I have ever had to give. Only when I was actually talking, looking out over all the young, bewildered faces, did I find the things to say, drawing on the terrible events of history, how they had passed, how we humans always find reserves of strength and courage to overcome that which fate throws our way.
Just over ten years after 9/11, on a cool, sunny April morning in 2012, I went to meet a Callery pear tree named Survivor. She had been placed in a planter near Building 5 of the World Trade Center in the 1970s and each year her delicate white blossoms had brought a touch of spring into a world of concrete. In 2001, after the 9/11 attack, this tree, like all the other trees that had been planted there, disappeared beneath the fallen towers.
But amazingly, in October, a cleanup worker found her, smashed and pinned between blocks of concrete. She was decapitated and the eight remaining feet of trunk were charred black; the roots were broken; and there was only one living branch.
The discovery was reported to Bram Gunther, who was then deputy director of central forestry for the New York City Parks Department, and when he arrived he initially thought the tree was unsalvageable. But the cleanup workers persuaded him to give the tree a chance, so he ordered that she be sent off to the Parks Department’s nursery in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
Ron Vega, now the director of design for the 9/11 Memorial site, was a cleanup worker back then. “A lot of people thought it was a wasted effort to try to rescue her,” he recalled. “So she was taken out of the site almost clandestinely—under the cover of night.”
Richie Cabo, the nursery manager, told me that when he first saw the decapitated tree he did not think anything could save her. But once the dead, burned tissues had been cut away, and her trimmed roots deeply planted in good rich soil, Survivor proved him wrong.
“In time,” said Richie, “she took care of herself. We like to say she got tough from being in the Bronx.”
In the spring of 2010 disaster struck Survivor again. Richie told me how he got news that the tree had been ripped out of the ground by a terrible storm that was raging outside, with 100 mile per hour winds. At once he rushed there with his three young children. They found the roots completely exposed, and he and the children and the other nursery staff worked together to try to rescue her.
At first they only partially lifted the tree, packing in compost and mulch so as not to break the roots. For a long while they gently sprayed the tree with water to minimize the shock, hoping she’d make it. A few weeks later they set to work to get Survivor completely upright.
“It was not a simple operation,” Richie told me. “She was 30 feet tall, and it took a heavy-duty boom truck to do the job.”
Again, Survivor survived.
It wasn’t until six years after Ron Vega witnessed the mangled tree being rescued from the wreckage that he heard Survivor was still alive. Immediately he decided to incorporate her into the memorial design—and with his new position he was able to make it happen. She was planted near the footprint of the South Tower. “For personal accomplishments,” Ron said, “today is it. I could crawl into this little bed and die right there. That’s it. I’m done….To give this tree a chance to be part of this memorial. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
As we walked toward this special tree, I felt as much in awe as though I were going to meet a great spiritual leader or shaman. We stood together outside the protective railing. We reached out to gently touch the ends of her branches. Many of us—perhaps all—had tears in our eyes.
As Survivor stood proudly upright in her new home, a reporter said to Richie, “This must be an extra-special day for you, considering it’s the ten-year anniversary of the day you were shot.”
Before he started working at the Bronx nursery in the spring of 2001, Richie had been a corrections officer at Green Haven maximum-security prison in New York. He left the job after nearly dying from a terrible gunshot wound in the stomach, inflicted not at the prison, but out on the streets when he tried to stop a robbery in progress.
Until the reporter pointed it out, Richie hadn’t even realized the date was the same. He told me that he couldn’t speak for a moment. “I could hardly even breathe,” he said. And he thought it was probably more than coincidence—that the tree would go home on that special day. “We are both survivors,” he said.
While overseeing the design, Ron made sure that the tree was planted so that the traumatized side faces the public. Some people, Ron told us, weren’t pleased to have the tree back, saying that she ‘spoiled’ the symmetry of the landscaping, as she is a different species from the other nearby trees. Indeed, she is different. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, when the memorial site was opened to survivors and family members, many of them tied blue ribbons onto Survivor’s branches.
One last memory. Survivor should have been in full bloom in April when I met her. But, like so many trees in this time of climate change, she had flowered about two weeks early. Just before we left, as I walked around this brave tree one last time, I suddenly saw a tiny cluster of white flowers. Just three of them, but somehow it was like a sign. It reminded me of a story I read in a newspaper. In the aftermath of the horrifying tsunami and Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan, a TV crew went to document the situation. They interviewed a man who had just lost everything, not only his house and all his belongings, but his family also. The reporter asked him if he had any hope.
He turned and pointed to a cherry tree beginning to bloom. ‘Look there,’ he said, pointing toward the new blossoms. ‘That’s what gives me hope.'” Jane Goodall, “Jane Goodall Reveals Her Lifelong Fascination With …Plants?” Smithsonian, 2013. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/