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whereas anything the patriarch chose to turn into cash he might give to Alkê's brood. So the will was cancelled, and the property began to melt away. A farm was sold for 75 minae, a bathing establishment for 30 minae, a mortgage transferred for 44 minae, a flock of goats, goat-herd and all, for 13 minae, two yoke of mules and a lot of slaves, sum total, three talents, a pretty penny in those days.
But Euktêmôn's ninety-six years had begun to tell on his tough constitution. The old man was now bed-ridden. Alkê and her set saw that he could not last long, and they prepared a new scheme, which should secure to them the property. The two boys were now registered as the adopted children of ihe two deceased sons of Euktêmôn and brothers of Philoktêmôn. The Kerameikos people qualified as guardians before the chancellor, and proceeded to let the real
This was, however, raiher too saucy. The impudent fraud came to the ears of the family, and the conspiracy was thwarted. Still the birds of prey feathered their nests very comfortably; for, at Euktêmôn's death, more than half of the principal was gone and all the current revenue. But even this was not enough ; for when the old man died, as he did in the "house in the Kerameikos near the wicket where wine is for sale,” they kept his death a profound secret from his family, and employed their time in transporting such goods and chattels as he had there into an adjoining house; and when his wife and his daughters heard of the death from others and came to pay him the last rites — it would be mockery to say the last sad rites the hussy and her crew would not let them in, but locked the door against them, and told them in choice Attic, “ It isn't none of your funeral.” When they got in, as they did at last towards sunset, they found that the old man had been dead forty-eight hours, and that the house was stripped.
And now, to close the long series of frauds, when Euktêmôn himself was beyond the grasp of the plunderers, Alkê's bantlings are to be passed off as the children of Euktêmôn by a fabulous mother, whoin nobody had ever seen, whom nobody had ever known, who had not so much as a tombstone to show with her aristocratic name graven thereon.
Let us hope that Isaios gained his case, and that the remnant of Eukiêmôn's estate was saved from the clutches of this gang of thieves.
An old critic, already cited, says that one difference between Lysias and Isaios was that Lysias persuaded even when he pleaded for the guilly, while Isaios roused suspicion even when his cause was good. It is true that there is a certain frankness in Lysias that disarms hostility, an accent of truth that claims your implicit trust, and that Isaios is more artful both in the distribution of his matter and in his approaches to the jury; but so far as this speech is concerned, I cannot agree with the critic, and I must confess that I, for one, am inclined to espouse most warmly the cause of Chairestratos.
At any rate, every reader will agree with me in thinking that we have here abundant material for a good novel of the modern type. It is just such a theme as Balzac in his day would have delighted to elaborate. Even George Eliot might not disdain some of the psycho
logical problems which the story presents; and the growing depravity of Euktêmôn would be a study worthy of the steadfast
, searching eyes of the author of Middlemarch. I can fancy Victor Hugo making a great deal out of the tale. Alkê, for instance, would have had a chapter to rival his description of the pieuvre; and the fact is, the devil-fish itself, or herself — for pieuvre is feminine — has many points of resemblance with the lodger in the Kerameikos. If, however, the plot seems to be a little thin, we might thicken the woof by introducing two other characters, whom I have thus far suppressed. One is Androklês, a relation of Chairestratos's, who is supporting the claims of the pretenders. The other is the widow of Chaireas, whom Androklês is seeking in marriage, and with whom he may be supposed to be in love.
Surely, with such a story before mer a story so replete with human interests, I should not have based my novel of antique life on the travels of the Scythian Anacharsis or the adventures of a shadowy Chariklês. Take but one of the characters. A life like Euktêmôn's, that embraces in its long career the stretch of Greek history that reaches from Kimôn to Epameinóndas, is canvas enough. Eukiêmón was a mature man at the time of the Sicilian expedition. He had heard the funeral oration of Periklês ; he had passed through the horrors of the plague. He had shouted over the capture of the Spartans on the island of Sphaktéria, he had welcomed the return of Alkibiadês, he had witnessed the fall of Athens. He may have furnished a chorus for Sophoklês or Euripidês, and sat in the jury that condemned Sôkratês.
Perhaps his youth was what the French call “stormy,” and only as he gathered about him the goods of this life, houses and lands and slaves and mules and goats, did he acquire that staid respectability that belongs to means, and settle down into the model of a well-to-do citizen. Who knows but the subtle poison of the plague may have left a minute spot of taint in his brain that mastered him at last; who knows but the still hidden fire of youthful sin, kept under for years by the responsibilities of wealth and station, broke out amid the ashes of his gray hairs? Those are solemn lines :
Ah! malheur à celui qui laisse à la débauche
Car l'abîme est immense et la tache est au fond, No better example than Euktêmôn's of the resurrection of buried sins to torture a loveless and unlovely old age. No better commentary on the words of the Greek poet :
Our life a close resemblance beareth unto wine,
For when there's little left, it turns to vinegar. I will not “insult the intelligence of the reader," as the phrase is, by pointing out the scenic possibilities of such a romance - LIFE IN THE PEIRAIEUS — The HOUSE NEAR THE WICKET. DEATH OF PHILOKLES, OR THE REPULSE AT Chios. THE CHANCELLOR CONSIDERS - DION DECAMPS. ALKE ON THE RAMPAGE,
But the speech of Isaios concerning the inheritance of Philoktêmôn is not the only one of his that gives us glimpses of manners or character; nor is Euktêmôn's crop of wild oats the only one that is harvested. In the large proportion of the suits there is an Alkê in the background, and greed and meanness are rampant in all. In one case a man dies leaving an estate of two talents, and there is something comic in the rapid succession of claimants. Half the town goes into a mourning-suit and a lawsuit at the same time. First comes a factitious nephew, then an equally factitious friend who claims under a deed of gift, then an anachronism of a baby is produced, a baby not three years old, whereas the decedent had not been in Athens for eleven years. One man is so eager to get the property that he claims it now as consecrated to Athêna, and now as a present from the late lamented to himself. A brace of swindlers make oath that they had obtained judgment against the defunct for one talent, and when they are cast in the suit, turn round and claim the whole estate on the ground that Nikostratos was their freedman.
In another case we are introduced to a droll old gentleman, who marries a young wife out of admiration for her father, but unlike the “Auld Robin Gray” of the ballad, he finds out his mistake, and when her brothers and Jamie come back from the wars, he candidly unfolds the state of the case to them. After a little modest hesitation the lady consents to marry a husband of a more suitable age, and the old man adopts one of her brothers. The Greeks had a superstitious dread of leaving their houses desolate ; and, as a rule, childless men guarded against the calamity by adoption. If they were young and sanguine they would adopt their successors by will as Philoktêmôn did ; if old and melancholic, they would in this way provide themselves some one to nurse them while living and bury them when dead.” The gentleman at present under consideration seems to have been both old and melancholic, but more melancholic than old, for he lived three-and-twenty years after adopting his brother-in-law, and may have assisted at the obsequies of his more youthful substitute.
By the way, these adoptions, which play a very important part in all these questions of inheritance, must have occasioned a good many struggles between pride and poverty. So we find that Dikaiogenes, who belonged to the illustrious family of Harmodios, the tyrannicide, had to renounce the privileges of his origin in order to become the heir of a rich man, and had to hear his snobbish kinsman twit him with changing for a metallic consideration the noble designation of Beauchamp for the plebeian name of Tompkins.
B. L. GILDERSLEEVE.
THE “CABINET MYSTERY."
HE subject of Spiritualism proper - the phase of belief, or superstition, which takes that
- I do not propose to discuss. There is, unquestionably, much that is beautiful and attractive in the fundamental principle, or idea, of free and intimate relations between the living and the loved ones dead; but into the proof that such relation exists, we must take some other opportunity to examine. Meantime, because a piece of furniture "tilts," or is tilted, “raps," or is rapped, to the intense wonderment of elderly females, and symptoms of most calamitous hysterics on the part of younger ones; and even though certain other notable phenomena present themselves, or are presented, whose origin or significance it is difficult as yet to discover or explain ; the assumption that "therefore" the disembodied spirits have “done it,” lending themselves to such ignoble uses for the sole purpose, apparently, of enabling a score or two of itinerant Down-East sharpers to shirk their legitimate share of the work that is to be done in this world, and crowding Lunatic Asylums with brain-softened paupers at public expense - this I hold to be the most unwarranted and ridiculous of non sequiturs, worthy only of the controversial boot-toe, the argumentum ad homines. In its application to these itinerant gentlemen of remunerative leisure, one is apt to ask why they should be so peculiarly favored by the spirits ”? Are they, or were their deceased relatives, pre-eminently distinguished by amiability of disposition or a fondness for psychological research? Do their defunct great-grandmothers “set more store by 'em ” than those of other people? If so, wherefore? My respected ancestress of that degree was accustomed, in life, to think something of me, too ; was quite confident I was going to be President; yet now, she won't even vouchsafe a dream as to the whereabouts of an old pocket-book with money in it, or the like: in fact, the humiliating confession must be made, she literally "cuts me dead."
Now the spirit moves me, at this point, to “tell a little anecdote," the egoism and apparent irrelevance of which I trust will be excused, touching an occurrence in this very room, a few weeks since; the actors in the scene being myself, and the identical Table on which I am now writing, and for which, I may be permitted to add, I entertain sentiments of the most distinguished respect. It is a very remarkable Table (not by any means to be spelt with a little t), as the reader will admit. But, “ to my tale." The time was past midnight, the weird and witching hour —
"... when the graves, all yawning wide,
Through the churchyard paths to glide." (N. B.— The incident, briefly related, may be of service as showing the temper and frame of mind in which I would be likely to set my
self to a task like the one now before me, as indicated by the caption of this paper.)
The hour was late, as I have said, and the night intensely cold. I was seated here, before a cheerful fire, in my easy-chair. For an hour or so I had been reading an able and elaborate article on Spiritualism and its phenomenal manifestations, in one of the English Reviews the Westminster, I think — in which the writer took the ground that it is too late now to meet the question with contemptuous denial or ridicule; that both the nature of the evidence and the high position, intellectually and socially, of many of the witnesses in behalf of Spiritualism, demand and necessitate a fair and scientific, or philosophic, investigation of the question on its own merits ; and that no professed believers in the Bible, especially, in view of the frequent allusions in the Gospels to the existence and presence of spirits, devils, or other sort of supernatural* beings, and the fact that no subsequent abrogation of their rights and privileges can be shown; it is incumbent to be sparing of ridicule in default of counter-evidence. The writer's argument had interested me, if it failed to convince ; but, being weary of the subject, I closed the Review, and was composing myself for an "informal nap "in my chair, when I was startled — not to say alarmed — by a sudden, sharp, loud, sonorous and unmistakable knock, or rap, proceeding, apparently, from beneath the centre of the Table - a round one, of black walnut - which stood a foot or two from me. Let the reader think how he, or she, would have felt under like circumstances, then give me their sympathy. To say I was unpleasantly affected is a mild way of putting it; but I forbear the allusion to Mrs. Gamp's fiddle-strings. Nevertheless, half smiling, half in earnest, I “rose and addressed ” — not "the chair,”— but the Table. Said I,
“If you are a spirit, give us another rap."
Now imagine, if you please, reader, my consternation when the rap was repeated - instantly unequivocally and "somewhat louder than before "!
“The deuce !” thought I, somewhat louder than was quite necessary or even decorous, considering that my respected great-grandmother might be “around,”—"this is getting serious.” Courageously (as Bob Acres himself) approaching the Table, I subjected it to a thorough but exceedingly respectful examination. I peeped under it, and pressed upon it, and turned it around, and felt its legs, and patted it, and thumped it with my knuckles, but to no purpose; nothing could I discover. At last I bethought me of again addressing the “spirit.” I said-thinking of Old Scrooge in the Christmas Carol -- "Rap once more, and I'll believe in you ! But no more raps were forthcoming The "spirit" had no further “communications to make, or probably, as I then surmised, had had its feelings. hurt by my discourteous ejaculatory reference to the — ahem !— the disreputable personage down-stairs. Now be it understood that dur
* It will, of course, be understood that I use the word "supernatural," as others use it, for want of a better one to convey the idea usually associated with it. " Extra-natural” has been suggested as a substitute; but no objection can be made to the other that does not apply with equal force to this. In all the universe - i.e. in all Nature -- there can be, strictly speaking, nothing either * above" or "outside of” that whole of which it can be but as a part, save only the Ultimate, Divine, Self-existence, Nature's God and Creator. We style that thing supernatural which is merely, as yet, super-comprehensible.