“Give me a plenty of sea-room, and good canvas, where there is no occasion for pilots at all, sir. For my part, I was born on board a chebacco-man, and never could see the use of more land than now and then a small island, to raise a few vegetables, and to dry your fish–I’m sure the sight of it always makes me feel uncomfortable, unless we have the wind dead off shore.”
… “I am more than half of your mind, that an island now and then is all the terra firma that a seaman needs.”
“It’s reason and philosophy, sir,” returned the sedate cock-swain; “and what land there is, should always be a soft mud, or a sandy ooze, in order that an anchor might hold, and to make soundings sartin. I have lost many a deep-sea, besides hand-leads by the dozens, on rocky bottoms; but give me the roadstead where a lead comes up light, and an anchor heavy. There’s a boat pulling athwart our fore-foot, Captain Barnstable; shall I run her aboard, or give her a berth, sir.”
* * * * *
From “The Prairie.”
=284.= DEATH OF THE AGED TRAPPER, IN THE PAWNEE VILLAGE.
The trapper had remained nearly motionless for an hour. His eyes alone had occasionally opened and shut. When opened, his gaze seemed fastened on the clouds which hung around the western horizon, reflecting the bright colors, and giving form and loveliness to the glorious tints of an American sunset. The hour, the calm beauty of the season, the occasion, all conspired to fill the spectators with solemn awe. Suddenly, while musing on the remarkable position in which he was placed, Middleton felt the hand which he held grasp his own with incredible power, and the old man, supported on either side by his friends, rose upright to his feet. For a moment he looked about him, as if to invite all in presence to listen (the lingering remnant of human frailty), and then, with a fine military elevation of the head, and with a voice that might be heard in every part of that numerous assembly, he pronounced the word “Here!”
A movement so entirely unexpected, and the air of grandeur and humility which were so remarkably united in the mien of the trapper, together with the clear and uncommon force of his utterance, produced a short period of confusion in the faculties of all present. When Middleton and Hard-Heart, each of whom had involuntarily extended a hand to support the form of the old man, turned to him again, they found that the subject of their interest was removed forever beyond the necessity of their care.
* * * * *
From “The Red Rover.”
=_285._= ESCAPE FROM THE WRECK.
… The boat was soon cleared of what, under their circumstances, was literally lumber; leaving, however, far more than enough to meet all their wants, and not a few of their comforts, in the event that the elements should accord the permission to use them.
Then, and not till then, did Wilder relax in his exertions. He had arranged his sails ready to be hoisted in an instant; he had carefully examined that no straggling rope connected the boat to the wreck, to draw them under with the foundering mass; and he had assured himself that food, water, compass, and the imperfect instruments that were there then in use to ascertain the position of a ship, were all perfectly disposed of in their several places, and ready to his hand. When all was in this state of preparation, he disposed of himself in the stern of the boat, and endeavored by the composure of his manner, to inspire his less resolute companions with a portion of his own firmness.
The bright sunshine was sleeping in a thousand places on every side of the silent and deserted wreck. The sea had subsided to such a state of utter rest that it was only at long intervals that the huge and helpless mass, on which the ark of the expectants lay, was lifted from its dull quietude, to roll heavily, for a moment in the washing waters, and then to settle lower into the greedy and absorbing element. Still the disappearance of the hull was slow, and even tedious, to those who looked forward with such impatience to its total immersion, as to the crisis of their own fortunes.
* * * * *
Then came the moon, with its mild and deceptive light, to throw the delusion of its glow on the varying but ever frightful scene.
“See,” said Wilder, as the luminary lifted its pale and melancholy orb out of the bed of the ocean; “we shall have light for our hazardous launch!”
“Is it at hand?” demanded Mrs. Wyllis, with all the resolution of manner she could assume in so trying a situation.
“It is–the ship has already brought her scuppers to the water. Sometimes a vessel will float until saturated with the brine. If ours sink at all, it will be soon.” “If at all! Is there then hope that she can float?”
“None!” said Wilder, pausing to listen to the hollow and threatening sounds which issued from the depths of the vessel, as the water broke through her divisions, in passing from side to side, and which sounded like the groaning of some heavy monster in the last agony of nature. “None; she is already losing her level!”
His companions saw the change; but not for the empire of the world, could either of them have uttered a syllable. Another low, threatening, rumbling sound was heard, and then the pent air beneath blew up the forward part of the deck, with an explosion like that of a gun.
“Now grasp the ropes I have given you” cried Wilder, breathless with his eagerness to speak.
His words were smothered by the rushing and gurgling of waters. The vessel made a plunge like a dying whale; and raising its stern high into the air, glided into the depths of the sea, like the leviathan seeking his secret places. The motionless boat was lifted with the ship, until it stood in an attitude fearfully approaching to the perpendicular. As the wreck descended, the bows of the launch met the element, burying themselves nearly to filling; but buoyant and light, it rose again, and, struck powerfully on the stern by the settling mass, the little ark shot ahead, as though it had been driven by the hand of man. Still, as the water rushed into the vortex, every thing within its influence yielded to the suction; and at the next instant, the launch was seen darting down the declivity, as if eager to follow the vast machine, of which it had so long formed a dependant, through the same gaping whirlpool, to the bottom. Then it rose, rocking to the surface, and for a moment, was tossed and whirled like a bubble circling in the eddies of a pool. After which, the ocean moaned, and slept again; the moon-beams playing across its treacherous bosom, sweetly and calm, as the rays are seen to quiver on a lake that is embedded in sheltering mountains.
* * * * *
From “The History of the United States Navy.”
=_286._= NAVAL RESULTS OF THE WAR OF 1812.
Thus terminated the war of 1812, so far as it was connected with the American marine. The navy came out of this struggle with a vast increase of reputation. The brilliant style in which the ships had been carried into action, the steadiness and rapidity with which they had been handled, and the fatal accuracy of their fire, on nearly every occasion, produced a new era in naval warfare. Most of the frigate actions had been as soon decided as circumstances would at all allow, and in no instance was it found necessary to keep up the fire of a sloop-of-war an hour, when singly engaged. Most of the combats of the latter, indeed, were decided in about half that time. The execution done in these short conflicts was often equal to that made by the largest vessels of Europe in general actions, and, in some of them, the slain and wounded comprised a very large proportion of the crews.
It is not easy to say in which nation this unlooked-for result created the most surprise, America or England. In the first it produced a confidence in itself that had been greatly wanted, but which, in the end, perhaps, degenerated to a feeling of self-esteem and security that were not without danger, or entirely without exaggeration…. The ablest and bravest captains of the English fleet were ready to admit that a new power was about to appear on the ocean, and that it was not improbable the battle for the mastery of the seas would have to be fought over again.
That the tone and discipline of the service were high, is true; but it must be ascribed to moral, and not to physical, causes, to that aptitude in the American character for the sea which has been so constantly manifested, from the day the first pinnace sailed along the coast, on the trading voyages of the seventeenth century, down to the present moment.
Many false modes of accounting for the novel character that had been given to naval battles were resorted to, and among other reasons, it was affirmed that the American vessels of war sailed with crews of picked seamen. That a nation which practiced impressment should imagine that another in which enlistments were voluntary, could possess an advantage of this nature, infers a strong disposition to listen to any means but the right one to account for an unpleasant truth. It is not known that a single vessel left the country, the case of the Constitution on her two last cruises excepted, with a crew that could he deemed extraordinary in this respect. No American man-of-war ever sailed with a complement composed of nothing but able seamen; and some of the hardest fought battles that occurred during this war, were fought by ships’ companies that were materially worse than common. The people that manned the vessels on Lake Champlain, in particular, were of a quality much inferior to those usually found in ships of war. Neither were the officers, in general, old or very experienced. The navy itself dated but fourteen years back, when the war commenced; and some of the commanders began their professional careers several years after the first appointments had been made. Perhaps one half of the lieutenants in the service at the peace of 1815, had first gone on board ship within six years from the declaration of the war, and very many of them within three or four. So far from the midshipmen having been masters and mates of merchantmen, as was reported at the time, they were generally youths that first went from the ease and comforts of the paternal home, when they appeared on the quarter-deck of a man-of-war.
* * * * *
=_Catharine M. Sedgwick, 1789-1867._= (Manual, p. 484.)
From “Hope Leslie.”
=_287._= THE MINISTER CONDEMNING VAIN APPAREL.
Mr. Cotton, the regular pastor, rose to remind his brethren of the decree “that private members should be very sparing in their questions and observations after public sermons,” and to say that he should postpone any further discussion of the precious points before them, as it was now near nine o’clock, after which it was not suitable for any Christian family to be unnecessarily abroad.
Hope now, and many others, instinctively rose, in anticipation of the dismissing benediction; but Mr. Cotton waved his hand for them to sit down till he could communicate to the congregation the decision to which the ruling elders and himself had come on the subject of the last Sabbath sermon. “He would not repeat what he had before said upon that lust of costly apparel which was fast gaining ground, and had already, as was well known, crept into godly families. He was pleased that there were among them gracious women, ready to turn at a rebuke, as was manifested in many veils being left at home that were floating over the congregation like so many butterflies’ wings in the morning. Economy,” he justly observed, “was, as well as simplicity, a Christian grace; and, therefore, the rulers had determined that those persons who had run into the excess of immoderate veils and sleeves, embroidered caps, and gold and silver lace, should be permitted to wear them out, but new ones should be forfeited.”
This sumptuary regulation announced, the meeting was dismissed.
Madame Winthrop whispered to Everell that she was going, with his father, to look in upon a sick neighbor, and would thank him to see her niece home. Everell stole a glance at Hope, and dutifully offered his arm to Miss Downing.
Hope, intent only on one object, was hurrying out of the pew, intending, in the jostling of the crowd, to escape alone; but she was arrested by Madame Winthrop’s saying, “Miss Leslie, Sir Philip offers you his arm;” and at the same moment, her aunt stooped forward to beg her to wait a moment, till she could send a message to Deacon Knowles’ wife, that she might wear her new gown with the Turkish sleeves, the next day…. “It is but doing as a body would be done by, to let Mistress Knowles know she may come out in her new gown to-morrow.”
* * * * *
From “The Linwoods.”
=_288._= KOSCIUSKO’S GARDEN AT WEST POINT.
The harmonies of Nature’s orchestra were the only and the fitting sounds in this seclusion; the early wooing of the birds; the water from the fountains of the heights, that, filtering through the rocks, dropped from ledge to ledge with the regularity of a water-clock; the ripple of the waves, as they broke upon the rocky points of the shore, or softly kissed its pebbly margin; and the voice of the tiny stream, that, gliding down a dark, deep, and almost hidden channel in the rocks, disappeared and welled up again in the center of the turfy slope, stole over it, and trickled down the lower ledge of granite to the river. Tradition has named this little, green shelf on the rocks, “Kosciusko’s Garden;” but, as no traces have been discovered of any other than Nature’s plantings, it was probably merely his favorite retreat, and, as such, is a monument of his taste and love of nature.
* * * * *
=_John Neal, 1793-._= (Manual, p. 510.)
=_289._= THE NATURE OF TRUE POETRY.
Poetry is the naked expression of power and eloquence; but, for many hundred years, poetry has been confounded with false music, measure, and cadence, the soul with the body, the thought with the language, the manner of speaking with the mode of thinking…. What I call poetry, has nothing to do with art or learning. It is a natural music, the music of woods and waters, not that of the orchestra…. Poetry is a religion, as well as a music. Nay, it is eloquence. It is whatever affects, touches, or disturbs the animal or moral sense of man. I care not how poetry may be expressed, nor in what language; it is still poetry; as the melody of the waters, wherever they may run, in the desert or the wilderness, among the rocks or the grass, will always be melody…. It is not the composition of a master, the language of art, painfully and entirely exact, but is the wild, capricious melody of nature, pathetic or brilliant, like the roundelay of innumerable birds whistling all about you, in the wind and water, sky and air, or the coquetting of a river breeze over the fine string’s of an Aeolian harp, concealed among green, leaves and apple blossoms.
* * * * *
=_John Pendleton Kennedy, 1795-1870._= (Manual, pp. 490, 510.)
From “Swallow Barn.”
=_290._= THE MANSION AND THE BARN.
Swallow Barn is an aristocratical old edifice, which sits, like a brooding hen, on the southern bank of the James River. It looks down upon a shady pocket, or nook, formed by an indentation of the shore, from a gentle acclivity, thinly sprinkled with oaks, whose magnificent branches afford habitation to sundry friendly colonies of squirrels and woodpeckers.
This time-honored mansion was the residence of the family of Hazards….
The main building is more than a century old. It is built with thick brick walls, but one story in height, and surmounted by a double-faced or hipped roof, which gives the idea of a ship, bottom upwards. Later buildings have been added to this, as the wants or ambition of the family have expanded. These are all constructed of wood, and seem to have been built in defiance of all laws of congruity, just as convenience required….
… Beyond the bridge, at some distance, stands a prominent object in the perspective of this picture,–the most venerable appendage to the establishment,–a huge barn, with an immense roof hanging almost to the ground, and thatched a foot thick with sun-burnt straw, which reaches below the eaves in ragged flakes. It has a singularly drowsy and decrepit aspect.
* * * * *
=_291._= A DISAPPOINTED POLITICIAN.
“Things are getting worse and worse,” replied the other. “I can see how it’s going. Here, the first thing General Jackson did, when he came in, he wanted to have the president elected for six years; and, by and by, they will want him for ten; and now they want to cut up our orchards and meadows, whether or no. That’s just the way Bonaparte went on. What’s the use of states, if they are all to be cut up with canals, and railroads, and tariffs? No, no, gentlemen; you may depend Old Virginny’s not going to let Congress carry on in her day.”
“How can they help it?” asked Sandy.
“We haven’t _fout_ and bled,” rejoined the other, taking out of his pocket a large piece of tobacco, and cutting off a quid, as he spoke in a somewhat subdued tone,–“we haven’t _fout_ and bled for our liberties to have our posterity and their land circumcised after this rate, to suit the figaries of Congress. So let them try it when they will.”
“Mr. Ned Hazard, what do you call state rights?” demanded Sandy.
“It’s a sort of a law,” said the other speaker, taking the answer to himself, “against cotton and wool.”
* * * * *
From his “Life of William Wirt.”
=_292._= WIRT’S STYLE OF ORATORY.
He became, in the maturity of his career, one of the most philosophic and accomplished lawyers of his time. In earlier life, he was remarked for a florid imagination, and a power of vivid declamation,–faculties which are but too apt to seduce their possessor to waste his strength in that flimsier eloquence, which more captivates the crowd without the bar, than the Judge upon the bench, and whose fatal facility often ensnares ambitious youth capable of better things, by its cheap applause and temptation to that indolence which may be indulged without loss of popularity. The public seem to have ascribed to Mr. Wirt some such, reputation as this, when he first attracted notice. He came upon the broader theater of his fame under this disadvantage. He was aware of it himself, and labored with matchless perseverance to disabuse the tribunals, with which he was familiar, of this disparaging opinion. How he succeeded, his compeers at the bar have often testified. None amongst them ever brought to the judgment-seat a more complete preparation for trial–none ever more thoroughly argued a case through minute analysis and nice discrimination of principles. In logical precision of mind, clearness of statement, full investigation of complicated points, and close comparison of precedents, he had no superior at the bar of the Supreme Court. He often relieved the tedium of argument with playful sallies of wit and humor. He had a prompt and effective talent for this exercise, to which his extensive and various reading administered abundant resource; and he indulged it not less to the gratification of his auditory than to the aid of his cause. In such tactics, Mr. Wirt was well versed. In sarcasm and invective he was often exceedingly strong, and denounced with a power that made transgressors tremble; but the bent of his nature being kindly and tolerant of error, he took more pleasure in exciting the laugh, than in conjuring the spirit of censure or rebuke.
His manner in speaking was singularly attractive. His manly form, his intellectual countenance and musical voice, set off by a rare gracefulness of gesture, won, in advance, the favor of his auditory. He was calm, deliberate, and distinct in his enunciation, not often rising into any high exhibition of passion, and never sinking into tameness. His key was that of earnest and animated argument, frequently alternated with that of a playful and sprightly humor. His language was neat, well chosen, and uttered without impediment or slovenly repetition. The tones of his voice played, with a natural skill, through the various cadences most appropriate to express the flitting emotions of his mind, and the changes of his thought. To these external properties of his elocution, we may ascribe the pleasure which persons of all conditions found in listening to him. Women often crowded the court-rooms to hear him, and as often astonished him, not only by the patience, but the visible enjoyment with which they were wont to sit out his argument to the end,–even when the topic was too dry to interest them, or too abstruse for them to understand his discourse…. His oratory was not of that strong, bold, and impetuous nature which is often the chief characteristic of the highest eloquence, and which is said to sway the Senate with absolute dominion, and to imprison or set free the storm of human passion, in the multitude, according to the speaker’s will. It was smooth, polished, scholar-like, sparkling with pleasant fancies, and beguiling the listener by its varied graces, out of all note or consciousness of time.
* * * * *
=_William Ware, 1797-1852._= (Manual, p. 510.)
From “Aurelian, or Rome in the Third Century.”
=_293._= THE CHRISTIAN MARTYR.
When now he had stood there not many minutes, one of the doors of the vivaria was suddenly thrown back, and bounding forth with a roar that seemed to shake the walls of the theatre, a lion of huge dimensions leaped upon the arena. Majesty and power were inscribed upon his lordly limbs; and, as he stood there where he had first sprung, and looked round upon the multitude, how did his gentle eye and noble carriage, with which no one for a moment could associate meanness, or cruelty, or revenge, cast shame upon the human monsters assembled to behold a solitary, unarmed man torn limb from limb! When he had in this way looked upon that cloud of faces, he then turned, and moved round the arena through its whole circumference, still looking upwards upon those who filled the seats, not till he had come again to the point from which he started so much as noticing him who stood his victim in the midst. Then, as if apparently for the first time becoming conscious of his presence, he caught the form of Probus, and, moving slowly towards him, looked steadfastly upon him, receiving in return the settled gaze of the Christian. Standing there still a while, each looking upon the other, he then walked round him, then approached nearer, making suddenly, and for a moment, those motions which indicated the roused appetite; but, as it were, in the spirit of self-rebuke, he immediately retreated a few paces, and lay down in the sand, stretching out his head towards Probus, and closing his eyes, as if for sleep.
* * * * *
=_Lydia Maria Child, 1802-._= (Manual, p. 434.)
From “Autumnal Leaves.”
=_294._= ILL TEMPER CONTAGIOUS.
It is curious to observe how a man’s spiritual state reflects itself in the people and animals around him; nay, in the very garments, trees, and stones.
Reuben Black was an infestation in the neighborhood where he resided. The very sight of him produced effects similar to the Hindoo magical tune called Raug, which is said to bring on clouds, storms, and earthquakes. His wife seemed lean, sharp, and uncomfortable. The heads of his boys had a bristling aspect, as if each individual hair stood on end with perpetual fear. The cows poked out their horns horizontally, as soon as he opened the barn-yard gate. The dog dropped his tail between his legs, and eyed him askance, to see what humor he was in. The cat looked wild and scraggy, and had been known to rush straight up the chimney when he moved towards her. Fanny Kemble’s expressive description of the Pennsylvania stage-horses was exactly suited to Reuben’s poor old nag. “His hide resembled an old hair-trunk.” Continual whipping and kicking had made him such a stoic, that no amount of blows could quicken his pace, and no chirruping could change the dejected drooping of his head. All his natural language said, as plainly as a horse _could_ say it, that he was a most unhappy beast. Even the trees on Reuben’s premises had a gnarled and knotted appearance. The bark wept little sickly tears of gum, and the branches grew awry, as if they felt the continual discord, and made sorry faces at each other behind their owner’s back. His fields were red with sorrel, or run over with mullein. Every thing seemed as hard and arid as his own visage. Every day, he cursed the town and the neighborhood, because they poisoned his dogs, and stoned his hens, and shot his cats. Continual law-suits involved him in so much expense, that he had neither time nor money to spend on the improvement of his farm.
Against Joe Smith, a poor laborer in the neighborhood, he had brought three suits in succession. Joe said he had returned a spade he borrowed, and Reuben swore he had not. He sued Joe, and recovered damages, for which he ordered the sheriff to seize his pig. Joe, in his wrath, called him an old swindler, and a curse to the neighborhood. These remarks were soon repeated to Reuben. He brought an action for slander, and recovered twenty-five cents. Provoked at the laugh this occasioned, he watched for Joe to pass by, and set his big dog upon him, screaming furiously, “Call me an old swindler again, will you.” An evil spirit is more contagious than the plague. Joe went home and scolded his wife, and boxed little Joe’s ears, and kicked the cat; and not one of them knew what it was all for. A fortnight after, Reuben’s big dog was found dead by poison. Whereupon he brought another action against Joe Smith, and not being able to prove him guilty of the charge of dog-murder, he took his revenge by poisoning a pet lamb belonging to Mrs. Smith. Thus the bad game went on, with mutual worriment and loss. Joe’s temper grew more and more vindictive, and the love of talking over his troubles at the grog-shop increased on him. Poor Mrs. Smith cried, and said it was all owing to Reuben Black; for a better hearted man never lived than her Joe, when she first married him.
* * * * *
=_Robert M. Bird, 1803-1854._= (Manual, p. 510.)
From “Nick of the Woods: a Tale of Kentucky.”
=_295._= THE QUAKER HUNTSMAN.
“I have a thing to say to thee, which it concerns thee and the fair maid, thee cousin, to know. There was a will, friend, a true and lawful last will and testament of thee deceased uncle, in which theeself and thee cousin was made the sole heirs of the same. Truly, friend, I did take it from the breast of the villain that plotted thee ruin; but, truly, it was taken from me again, I know not how.”
“I have it safe,” said Roland, displaying it, for a moment, with great satisfaction, to Nathan’s eyes. “It makes me master of wealth, which you, Nathan, shall be the first to share. You must leave this wild life of the border, go with me to Virginia–“
“I, friend!” exclaimed Nathan, with a melancholy shake of the head; “thee would not have me back in the Settlements, to scandalize them that is of my faith? No, friend; my lot is cast in the woods, and thee must not ask me again to leave them. And, friend, thee must not think I have served thee for the lucre of money or gain; for truly these things are now to me as nothing. The meat that feeds me, the skins that cover, the leaves that make my bed, are all in the forest around me, to be mine when I want them; and what more can I desire? Yet, friend, if thee thinks theeself obliged by whatever I have done for thee, I would ask of thee one favor that thee can grant.”
“A hundred!” said the Virginian, warmly.
“Nay, friend,” muttered Nathan, with both a warning and beseeching look, “all that I ask is, that thee shall say nothing of me that should scandalize and disparage the faith to which I was born.”
“I understand you,” said Roland, “and will remember your wish…. Come with us, Nathan; come with us.”
But Nathan, ashamed of the weakness which he could not resist, had turned away to conceal his emotion, and, stalking silently off, with the ever-faithful Peter at his heels, was soon hidden from their eyes.
* * * * *
=_Nathaniel Hawthorne,_= about =_1805-1864._= (Manual, pp. 505, 508.)
From the “Twice-Told Tales.”
=_296._= PORTRAIT OF EDWARD RANDOLPH.
Within the antique frame which so recently had enclosed a sable waste of canvas, now appeared a visible picture–still dark, indeed, in its hues and shadings, but thrown forward in strong relief…. The whole portrait started so distinctly out of the background, that it had the effect of a person looking down from the wall at the astonished and awe-stricken spectators. The expression of the face, if any words can convey an idea of it, was that of a wretch detected in some hideous guilt, and exposed to the bitter hatred, and laughter, and withering scorn of a vast, surrounding multitude. There was the struggle of defiance, beaten down and overwhelmed by the crushing weight of ignominy. The torture of the soul had come forth upon the countenance. It seemed as if the picture, while hidden behind the cloud of immemorial years, had been all the time acquiring an intenser depth and darkness of expression, till now it gloomed forth again, and threw its evil omen over the present hour. Such, if the wild legend may be credited, was the portrait of Edward Randolph, as he appeared when a people’s curse had wrought its influence upon his nature.
* * * * *
=_297._= DESCRIPTION OF AN OLD SAILOR.
Many such a day did I sit snugly in Mr. Bartlett’s store, attentive to the yarns of Uncle Parker–uncle to the whole village by right of seniority, but of southern blood, with no kindred in New England. His figure is before me now, enthroned upon a mackerel barrel–a lean, old man, of great height, but bent with years, and twisted into an uncouth, shape by seven broken limbs; furrowed, also, and weather-worn, as if every gale, for the better part of a century, had caught him somewhere on the sea. He looked like a harbinger of tempest, a shipmate of the Flying Dutchman…. One of Uncle Parker’s eyes had been blown out with gunpowder, and the other did but glimmer in its socket. Turning it upward as he spoke, it was his delight to tell of cruises against the French, and battles with his own ship-mates, when he and an antagonist used to be seated astride of a sailor’s chest, each fastened down, by a spike-nail through his trousers, and there to fight it out.
* * * * *
From the “Blithedale Romance.”
=_298._= A PICTURE OF GIRLHOOD.
Priscilla had now grown to be a very pretty girl, and still kept budding and blossoming, and daily putting on some new charm, which you no sooner became sensible of than you thought it worth all she had previously possessed. So unformed, vague, and without substance, as she had come to us, it seemed as if we could see Nature shaping out a woman before our very eyes, and yet had only a more reverential sense of the mystery of a woman’s soul and frame. Yesterday, her cheek was pale,–to-day it had a bloom. Priscilla’s smile, like a baby’s first one, was a wondrous novelty. Her imperfections and short-comings affected me with a kind of playful pathos, which was as absolutely bewitching a sensation as ever I experienced. After she had been a month or two at Blithedale, her animal spirits waxed high, and kept her pretty constantly in a state of bubble and ferment, impelling her to far more bodily activity than she had yet strength to endure. She was very fond of playing with the other girls out of doors. There is hardly another sight in the world so pretty as that of a company of young girls, almost women grown, at play, and so giving themselves up to their airy impulse that their tiptoes barely touch the ground.
Girls are incomparably wilder and more effervescent than boys, more untamable, and regardless of rule and limit, with an ever-shifting variety, breaking continually into new modes of fun, yet with a harmonious propriety through all. Their steps, their voices, appear free as the wind, but keep consonance with a strain of music inaudible to us. Young men and boys, on the other hand, play according to recognized law, old, traditionary games, permitting no caprioles of fancy, but with scope enough for the outbreak of savage instincts….
Especially it is delightful to see a vigorous young girl run a race, with her head thrown back, her limbs moving more friskily than they need, and an air between that of a bird and a young colt. But Priscilla’s peculiar, charm, in a foot-race, was the weakness and irregularity with which she ran….
When she had come to be quite at home among us, I used to fancy that Priscilla played more pranks, and perpetrated more mischief, than any other girl in the community. For example, I once heard Silas Foster, in a very gruff voice, threatening to rivet three horse-shoes round Priscilla’s neck, and chain her to a post, because she, with some other young people, had clambered upon a load of hay, and caused it to slide off the cart. How she made her peace I never knew; but very soon afterwards I saw old Silas, with his brawny hands round Priscilla’s waist, swinging her to and fro, and finally depositing her on one of the oxen, to take her first lessons in riding. She met with terrible mishaps in her efforts to milk a cow; she let the poultry into the garden; she generally spoilt whatever part of the dinner she took in charge; she broke crockery; she dropped our biggest pitcher into the well; and–except with her needle and those little wooden instruments for purse-making–was as unserviceable a member of society as any young lady in the land. There was no other sort of efficiency about her. Yet everybody was kind to Priscilla; everybody loved her and laughed at her to her face, and did not laugh behind her back; everybody would have given her half of his last crust, or the bigger share of his plum-cake. These were pretty certain indications that we were all conscious of a pleasant weakness in the girl, and considered her not quite able to look after her own interests, or fight her battle with the world.
* * * * *
From “The Marble Faun.”
=_299._= SCULPTURE: ART AND ARTISTS.
A sculptor, indeed, to meet the demands which our preconceptions make upon him, should be even more indispensably a poet than those who deal in measured verse and rhyme. His material, or instrument, which serves him in the stead of shifting and transitory language, is a pure, white, undecaying substance. It insures immortality to whatever is wrought in it, and therefore makes it a religious obligation to commit no idea to its mighty guardianship, save such as may repay the marble for its faithful care, its incorruptible fidelity, by warming it with an etherial life. Under this aspect, marble assumes a sacred character; and no man should dare to touch it unless he feels within himself a certain consecration and a priesthood, the only evidence of which, for the public eye, will be the high treatment of heroic subjects, or the delicate evolution of spiritual, through material beauty….
No ideas such as the foregoing–no misgivings suggested by them–probably troubled the self complacency of most of these clever sculptors. Marble, in their view, had no such sanctity as we impute to it….
Yet we love the artists, in every kind; even these, whose merits we are not quite able to appreciate. Sculptors, painters, crayon sketchers, or whatever branch of aesthetics they adopted, were certainly pleasanter people, as we saw them that evening, than the average whom we meet in ordinary society. They were not wholly confined within the sordid compass of practical life; they had a pursuit which, if followed faithfully out, would lead them to the beautiful, and always had a tendency thitherward, even if they lingered to gather up golden drops by the wayside. Their actual business (though they talked about it very much as other men talk of cotton, politics, flour barrels, and sugar) necessarily illuminated their conversation with something akin to the ideal….
As interesting as any of these relics was a large portfolio of old drawings, some of which, in the opinion of their possessor, bore evidence on their faces of the touch of master-hands.
… According to the judgment of several connoisseurs, Raphael’s own hand had communicated its magnetism to one of these sketches; and if genuine, it was evidently his first conception of a favorite Madonna, now hanging in the private apartment of the Grand Duke, at Florence…. There were at least half a dozen others, to which the owner assigned as high an origin. It was delightful to believe in their authenticity, at all events; for these things make the spectator, more vividly sensible of a great painter’s power, than the final glow and perfected art of the most consummate picture that may have been elaborated from them. There is an effluence of divinity in the first sketch; and there, if any where, you find the pure light of inspiration, which the subsequent toil of the artist serves to bring out in stronger lustre, indeed, but likewise adulterates it with what belongs to an inferior mood. The aroma and fragrance of new thought were perceptible in these designs, after three centuries of wear and tear. The charm lay partly in their very imperfection; for this is suggestive, and sets the imagination at work; whereas, the finished picture, if a good one, leaves the spectator nothing to do, and if bad, confuses, stupefies, disenchants, and disheartens him.
* * * * *
From the “English Note Books.”
=_300._= RUINS OF FURNESS ABBEY.
The most interesting part is that which was formerly the church, and which, though now roofless, is still surrounded by walls, and retains the remnants of the pillars that formerly supported the intermingling curves of the arches. The floor is all overgrown with grass strewn with fragments and capitals of pillars. It was a great and stately edifice, the length of the nave and choir having been nearly three hundred feet, and that of the transept more than half as much. The pillars along the nave were alternately, a round solid one, and a clustered one. Now, what remains of some of them is even with the ground: others present a stump just high enough to form a seat; and others are perhaps a man’s height from the ground; and all are mossy, and with grass and weeds rooted into their chinks, and here and there a tuft of flowers giving its tender little beauty to their decay. The material of the edifice is a soft red stone, and it is now extensively overgrown with a lichen of a very light gray hue, which at a little distance makes the walls look as if they had long ago been whitewashed and now had partially returned to their original color. The arches of the nave and transept were noble and immense; there were four of them together, supporting a tower which has long since disappeared,–arches loftier than I ever conceived to have been made by man. Very possibly, in some cathedral that I have seen, or am yet to see, there may be arches as stately as these, but I doubt whether they can ever show to such advantage in a perfect edifice as they do in this ruin,–most of them broken, only one, as far as I recollect, still completing its sweep. In this state they suggest a greater majesty and beauty than any finished human work can show; the crumbling traces of the half-obliterated design producing somewhat of the effect of the first idea of any thing admirable, when it dawns upon the mind of an artist or a poet,–an idea which, do what he may, he is sure to fall short of in his attempt to embody it….
Conceive all these shattered walls, with here and there an arched door, or the great arched vacancy of a window; these broken stones and monuments scattered about; these rows of pillars up and down the nave, these arches, through which a giant might have stepped, and not needed to bow his head, unless in reverence to the sanctity of the place,–conceive it all, with such verdure and embroidery of flowers as the gentle, kindly moisture of the English climate procreates on all old things, making them more beautiful than new, conceive it with the grass for sole pavement of the long and spacious aisle, and the sky above for the only roof. The sky, to be sure, is more majestic than the tallest of those arches; and yet these latter, perhaps, make the stronger impression of sublimity, because they translate the sweep of the sky to our finite comprehension. It was a most beautiful, warm, sunny day, and the ruins had all the pictorial advantage of bright light, and deep shadows. I must not forget that birds flew in and out among the recesses, and chirped and warbled, and made themselves at home there. Doubtless, the birds of the present generation are the posterity of those who first settled in the ruins, after the Reformation; and perhaps the old monks of a still earlier day may have watched them building about the abbey, before it was a ruin at all.
* * * * *
From the “American Note Books.”
=_301._= SCENERY OF THE MERRIMAC.
I never could have conceived that there was so beautiful a river-scene in Concord as this of the North Branch. The stream flows through the midmost privacy and deepest heart of a wood, which, as if but half satisfied with its presence, calm, gentle and unobtrusive as it is, seems to crowd upon it, and barely to allow it passage, for the trees are rooted on the very verge of the water, and dip their pendent branches into it. On one side there is a high bank forming the side of a hill, the Indian name of which I have forgotten, though Mr. Thoreau told it to me; and here in some instances the trees stand leaning over the river, stretching out their arms as if about to plunge in headlong. On the other side, the bank is almost on a level with the water, and there the quiet congregation of trees stood with feet in the flood, and fringed with foliage down to its very surface. Vines here and there twine themselves about bushes or aspens or alder-trees, and hang their clusters, though scanty and infrequent this season, so that I can reach them from my boat, I scarcely remember a scene of more complete and lovely seclusion than the passage of the river through this wood. Even an Indian canoe in olden times, could not have floated onward in deeper solitude than my boat. I have never elsewhere had such an opportunity to observe how much more beautiful reflection is than what we call reality. The sky and the clustering foliage on either hand, and the effect of sunlight as it found its way through the shade, giving lightsome hues in contrast with the quiet depth of the prevailing tints, all these seemed unsurpassably beautiful when beheld in upper air. But on gazing downward, there they were, the same even to the minutest particular, yet arrayed in ideal beauty which satisfied the spirit incomparably more than the actual scene. I am half convinced that the reflection is indeed the reality, the real thing which Nature imperfectly images to our grosser sense. At any rate the disembodied shadow is nearest to the soul.
* * * * *
From the “French and Italian Note Books.”
=_302._= A DUNGEON OF ANCIENT ROME.
We were now in the deepest and ugliest part of the old Mamertine Prison, one of the few remains of the kingly period of Rome, and which served the Romans as a state prison for hundreds of years before the Christian era. A multitude of criminals or innocent persons, no doubt, have languished here in misery, and perished in darkness. Here Jugurtha starved; here Catiline’s adherents were strangled; and methinks, there can not be in the world another such an evil den, so haunted with black memories and indistinct surmises of guilt and suffering. In old Rome, I suppose, the citizens never spoke of this dungeon above their breath. It looks just as bad as it is; round, only seven paces across, yet so obscure that our tapers could not illuminate it from side to side,–the stones of which it is constructed being as black as midnight. The custode showed us a stone post at the side of the cell, with the hole in the top of it, into which, he said, St. Peter’s chain had been fastened; and he uncovered a spring of water, in the middle of the stone floor, which he told us had miraculously gushed up to enable the Saint to baptize his jailor. The miracle was perhaps the more easily wrought, inasmuch as Jugurtha had found the floor of the dungeon oozy with wet. However, it is best to be as simple and childlike as we can in these matters; and whether St. Peter stamped his visage into the stone, and wrought this other miracle or no, and whether or no he ever was in the prison at all, still the belief of a thousand years and more, gives a sort of reality and substance to such traditions. The custode dipped an iron ladle into the miraculous water, and we each of us drank a sip; and, what is very, remarkable, to me it seemed hard water and almost brackish, while many persons think it the sweetest in Rome. I suspect that St. Peter still dabbles in this water, and tempers its qualities according to the faith of those who drink it.
* * * * *
=_William Gilmore Simms, 1806-1870._= (Manual, pp. 490, 510.)
From “Eutaw, a Sequel to The Foragers.”
=_303._= THE BATTLE OF EUTAW.
Up to this moment nothing had seemed more certain than the victory of the Americans. The consternation in the British camp was complete. Everything was given up for lost by a considerable portion of the army. The commissaries destroyed their stores, the loyalists and American deserters, dreading the rope, seizing every horse which they could command, fled incontinently for Charleston, whither they carried such an alarm that the stores along the road were destroyed, and the trees felled across it for the obstruction of the victorious Americans, who were supposed to be pressing down upon the city with all their might.
Equally deceived were the conquerors. Flushed with success, the infantry scattered themselves about the British camp, which, as all the tents had been left standing, presented a thousand objects to tempt the appetites of a half-starved and half-naked soldiery. Insubordination followed disorder….
No more could be done. The laurels won in the first act of this exciting drama, were all withered in the second. Both parties claimed a victory. It belonged to neither. The British were beaten from the field at the point of the bayonet, sought shelter in a fortress, and repulsed their assailants from that fortress. It is to the shame and discredit of the Americans that they were repulsed. The victory was in their hands.
* * * * *
From the “Life of Francis Marion.”
=_304._= CHARACTER AND SERVICES OF GENERAL MARION.
No commander had ever been more solicitous of the safety and comfort of his men. It was this which had rendered him so sure of their fidelity, which had enabled him to extract from them such admirable service. This simple entreaty stayed their quarrels; … No duel took place among his officers during the whole of his command.
The province which was assigned to his control by Governor Rutledge, was the constant theatre of war. He was required to cover an immense extent of country. With a force constantly unequal and constantly fluctuating, he contrived to supply its deficiencies by the resources of his own vigilance and skill. His personal bravery was frequently shown, and the fact that he himself conducted an enterprise, was enough to convince his men that they were certain to be led to victory…. He had no lives to waste, and the game he played was that which enabled him to secure the greatest results, with the smallest amount of hazard. Yet, when the occasion seemed to require it, he could advance and strike with an audacity, which in the ordinary relations of the leader with the soldier, might well be thought inexcusable rashness…. The reader will perceive a singular discrepancy between the actual events detailed in the life of every popular hero, and the peculiar fame which he holds in the minds of his countrymen. Thus, while Marion is every where regarded as the peculiar representative in the southern States, of the genius of partizan warfare, we are surprised, when we would trace, in the pages of the annalist, the sources of this fame, to find the details so meagre and so unsatisfactory. Tradition mumbles over his broken memories, which we vainly strive to pluck from his lips, and bind together in coherent and satisfactory records. The spirited surprise, the happy ambush, the daring onslaught, the fortunate escape,–these, as they involve no monstrous slaughter,–no murderous strife of masses,–no rending of walled towns and sack of cities, the ordinary historian disdains. The military reputation of Marion consists in the frequent performance of deeds, unexpectedly, with inferior means, by which the enemy was annoyed and dispirited, and the hearts and courage of his countrymen warmed into corresponding exertions with his own. To him we owe that the fires of patriotism were never extinguished, even in the most disastrous hours, in the low country of South Carolina. He made our swamps and forests sacred, as well because of the refuge which they gave to the fugitive patriot, as for the frequent sacrifices which they enabled him to make, on the altars of liberty and a befitting vengeance…. It is enough that his fame has entered largely into that of his country, forming a valuable portion of its national stock of character. His memory is in the very hearts of our people.
* * * * *
=_Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1812-._= (Manual, p. 484.)
From “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
=_305._= MEMORIALS OF A DEAD CHILD.
At the door, however, he stopped a moment, and then coming back, he said, with some hesitation,–
“Mary, I don’t know how you’d feel about it, but there’s that drawer full of things-of-of-poor little Henry’s.” So saying, he turned quickly on his heel, and shut the door after him.
His wife opened the little bedroom door adjoining her room, and taking the candle, set it down on the top of a bureau there; then from a small recess she took a key, and put it thoughtfully in the lock of a drawer, and made a sudden pause, while two boys, who, boy-like, had followed close on her heels, stood looking, with silent, significant glances, at their mother. And O, mother that reads this, has there never been in your house a drawer, or a closet, the opening of which has been to you like the opening again of a little grave? Ah! happy mother that you are, if it has not been so.
Mrs. Bird slowly opened the drawer. There were little coats, of many a form and pattern, piles of aprons, and rows of small stockings; and even a pair of little shoes, worn and rubbed at the toes, were peeping from the folds of a paper. There was a toy horse and wagon, a top, a ball,–memorials gathered with many a tear and many a heart-break! She sat down by the drawer, and leaning her head on her hands over it, wept till the tears fell through her fingers into the drawer; then, suddenly raising her head, she began, with nervous haste, selecting the plainest and most substantial articles, and gathering them into a bundle.
“Mamma,” said one of the boys, gently touching her arm, “are you going to give away those things?”
“My dear boys,” she said, softly and earnestly, “if our dear loving little Henry looks down from heaven, he would be glad to have us do this. I could not find it in my heart to give them away to any common person–to anybody that was happy; but I give them to a mother more heart-broken and sorrowful than I am; and I hope God will send his blessing with, them!”
* * * * *
From “Old-Town Folks.”
=_306._= THE OLD MEETING HOUSE.
Going to meeting, in that state of society into which I was born, was as necessary and inevitable a consequence of waking up on Sunday morning, as eating one’s breakfast. Nobody thought of staying away,–and, for that matter, nobody wanted to stay away. Our weekly life was simple, monotonous, and laborious; and the chance of seeing the whole neighborhood together in their best clothes on Sunday, was a thing which, in the dearth of all other sources of amusement, appealed to the idlest and most unspiritual of loafers. They who did not care for the sermon or the prayers, wanted to see Major Broad’s scarlet coat and laced ruffles, and his wife’s brocade dress, and the new bonnet which Lady Lothrop had just had sent up from Boston. Whoever had not seen these would be out of society for a week to come, and not be able to converse understandingly on the topics of the day.
The meeting on Sunday united in those days, as nearly as possible, the whole population of a town,–men, women, and children. There was then in a village but one fold and one shepherd, and long habit had made the tendency to this one central point so much a necessity to every one, that to stay away from “meetin,” for any reason whatever, was always a secret source of uneasiness. I remember in my early days, sometimes when I had been left at home by reason of some of the transient ailments of childhood, how ghostly and supernatural the stillness of the whole house and village outside the meeting-house used to appear to me, how loudly the clock ticked and the flies buzzed down the window-pane, and how I listened in the breathless stillness to the distant psalm-singing, the solemn tones of the long prayer, and then to the monotone of the sermon, and then again to the closing echoes of the last hymn, and thought sadly, what if some day I should be left out, when all my relations and friends had gone to meeting in the New Jerusalem, and hear afar the music from the crystal walls.
The arrangement of our house of worship in Oldtown was somewhat peculiar, owing to the fact of its having originally been built as a missionary church for the Indians. The central portion of the house, usually appropriated to the best pews, was in ours devoted to them; and here were arranged benches of the simplest and most primitive form; on which were collected every Sunday, the thin and wasted remnants of what once was a numerous and powerful tribe. There were four or five respectable Indian families, who owned comfortable farms in the neighborhood, and came to meeting in their farm-wagons, like any of their white neighbors.
… Besides our Indian population, we had also a few negroes, and a side gallery was appropriated to them. One of them was that of Aunt Nancy Prime, famous for making election-cake and ginger-pop, and who was sent for at all the great houses on occasions of high festivity, as learned in all mysteries relating to the confection of cakes and pies. A tight, trig, bustling body she, black and polished as ebony, smooth-spoken and respectful, and quite a favorite with everybody. Nancy had treated herself to an expensive luxury in the shape of a husband,–an idle, worthless mulatto man, who was owned as a slave in Boston. Nancy bought him, by intense labors in spinning flax, but found him an undesirable acquisition, and was often heard to declare, in the bitterness of her soul, when her husband returned from his drinking bouts, that she should never buy another nigger, she knew. Prominent there was the stately form of old Boston Foodah, an African Prince, who had been stolen from the coast of Guinea in early youth, and sold in Boston at some period of antiquity whereto the memory of man runneth not.
* * * * *
=_Maria J. McIntosh, 1815-._= (Manual, p. 484.)
From “Two Pictures.”
=_307._= DEBATE BETWEEN WEBSTER AND HAYNE.
… Webster, Clay, Calhoun–the triumvirate to which, it is to be feared, we shall long have to look back as to our last, were still living; and as Augusta Moray gazed on the dark, melancholy eyes of the first, shadowed by that wonderful brow, or looked into the face of the second, where if prescient thought sometimes rose as a flitting cloud, it was chased away before the glow of the warm heart and the quick kindling fancy, or turned to the sharp angular lines and firmly compressed lips that marked the iron strength of the third, she felt that she stood in the midst of her dream fulfilment. The session was one of peculiar interest. Great questions agitated the public mind, and were treated greatly. Two great parties, springing from the very foundations of our civil polity, strove for supremacy in our legislative halls. The one, looking into the depths of our colonial history, took its stand on the unquestionable truth, that each state of the Union was sovereign over herself, from which was drawn the corollary, that she was as free to leave as she had been to enter the Union. The other contended that the present constitution of these United States defined the boundary of the powers of each state, as well as of the great whole into which they had been voluntarily fused; that to look behind that, was such a resort to first principles or natural rights, as is involved in revolution, and must be decided as revolution ever is, by the relative strength of the ruling and the revolting forces.
On neither side was there any trickery, any bullying, any flimsy display of rhetorical power. All was grand as the subject for which they contended, solemn as the doom to which they seemed, approaching. In the chief magistrate of that time all saw the unflinching executor of the nation’s will–a man whose words were the sure prefigurements of his deeds. Their verdict must be carefully weighed, for it would be surely executed. In stern silence each sat to hear, to deliberate, to judge. The sharp logic and fiery vehemence of Hayne called up no angry flash, roused no personal vindictiveness; and the deep tones of Webster found as ready an entrance to southern as to northern hearts, while in those powerful, words which seemed the fit weapons of a nation’s champion, his mighty mind swept away all that opposed it, save that principle which lay imbedded in the very deepest stratum of the life of his opponents, and which could not be torn away from them till feeling and life were extinct.
It was in the capital, and in the presence of these great men, that Augusta liked best to find herself. We are afraid she did not always listen when men of more ordinary power occupied the floor,–the gallery was an excellent dreaming place at such times.
* * * * *
=_Catharine Anne Warfield, 1817-._=
From “The Romance of Beauseincourt.”
=_308._= VIEW OF THE SKY BY NIGHT.
I had derived great and constant pleasure from the undisturbed possession of this place of promenade during my whole sojourn…. Often, when my mind had been distracted with anxious cares, I had literally waited down its excitement and anguish in my fierce and rapid movements to and fro, over its smooth painted floor, the daily care of Sylphy, who might be heard in the hot season busily employed in refreshing it with mop and broom and water during the first hours of the morning, the pleasant, dewy freshness of which operation might be felt gratefully in the atmosphere of our heated chamber.
The long gallery was very solitary, of course, at an hour like this, and it was with a feeling of calm relief that I paced its lonely length, stopping at intervals to look out upon the night; one of cloudy sultriness, occasionally relieved by gusts of warm, damp wind, that bore the distant odors of swamp and forest on its wings, and promised speedy rain. Here and there in the dappled heavens were liquid purple spaces, like the open sea described by Arctic voyagers, around which hung masses of silvery clouds, projecting like ice cliffs; and into these patches of sky the large yellow moon would now and then sail majestically, suddenly emerging, like a ship from a fog, from the fleecy screen that veiled her light, to cross these spaces, and plunge into mist and shadow again.
There was something in the whole effect calculated to absorb the mind of an absent dreamer, intent on the future, and for the first time for many weeks putting aside all foreign considerations, in favor of self too long merged in others and neglected.
[Footnote 70: One of our most accomplished female writers; a native of Mississippi, but long resident in Kentucky.]
* * * * *
=_Herman Melville, 1819-._= (Manual, p. 505.)
From “Moby Dick.”
=_309._= SPERM WHALE FISHING.
It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe! The vast swells of the omnipotent sea; the surging, hollow roar they made as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like gigantic bowls in a boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended agony of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong, sled-like slide down its other side; all these, with the cries of the headsmen and harpooners, and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats, with outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming brood; all this was thrilling. Not the raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead man’s ghost, encountering the first unknown phantom in the other world; neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted sperm whale.
Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of mist; neither ship nor boat to be seen.
“Give way, men,” whispered Starbuck, drawing still further aft the sheet of his sail; “there is time to kill a fish yet before the squall comes. There’s white water again! close to! Spring!” Though not one of the oarsmen was then facing the life and death peril so close to them ahead, yet with their eyes on the intense countenance of the mate in the stern of the boat, they knew that the imminent instant had come; they heard, too, an enormous wallowing sound as of fifty elephants stirring in their litter. Meanwhile the boat was still booming through the mist, the waves curling and hissing around us like the erected crests of enraged serpents.
“That’s his hump. _There, there_, give it to him!” whispered Starbuck.
A short rushing sound leaped out of the boat; it was the darted iron of Queequeg. Then all in one welded commotion, came an invisible push from astern, while forward the boat seemed striking on a ledge; the sail collapsed and exploded; a gush of scalding vapor shot up near by; something rolled and tumbled like an earthquake beneath us. The whole crew were half suffocated as they were tossed helter-skelter into the white curdling cream of the squall. Squall, whale, and harpoon had all blended together and the whale, merely grazed by the iron, escaped.
Though completely swamped, the boat was nearly unharmed. Swimming round it we picked up the floating oars, and lashing them across the gunwale, tumbled back to our places. There we sat up to our knees in the sea, the water covering every rib and plank, so that to our downward gazing eyes, the suspended craft seemed a coral boat grown up to us from the bottom of the ocean.
* * * * *
=_Josiah Gilbert Holland, 1819-._=
From The Bay Path.
=_310._= THE WEDDING-PRESENT.
John Woodcock was the first to break the silence. Rising from his seat, and making his way out of the crowd around him, he crossed the room to where his daughter was standing absorbed in, and half bewildered by the scene, and whispering a few words in her ear, took her by the hand, and led her before the married pair. Mary extended her hand to him instantly and cordially, and exclaimed, “I knew that you would come to me and congratulate me.”
“That wan’t my arrant any way,” said Woodcock bluntly, “and I shouldn’t begin with you if it was.”
“Why John! I am astonished!” exclaimed the bride; “I thought you was one of the best friends I had in the world.”
But Mary was somewhat affected with Woodcock’s seriousness, and, with no reply to Holyoke, beyond a smile, she asked Woodcock’s reasons for the statement he had made.
“I didn’t come up here to talk about this, and p’raps it ain’t the right time to do it, but there’s no use backin’ down when you begin. I’ve got a consait that men and women ain’t built out of the same kind of timber. Look at my hand–a great pile o’ bones covered with brown luther, with the hair on,–and then look at yourn. White oak ain’t bass, is it? Every man’s hand ain’t so black as mine, and every woman’s ain’t so white as yourn, but there’s always difference enough to show, and there’s just as much odds in their doin’s and dispositions as there is in their hands. I know what women be. I’ve wintered and summered with ’em, and take ’em by and large, they’re better’n men. Now and then a feller gets hitched to a hedgehog, but most of ’em get a woman that’s too good for ’em. They’re gentle and kind, and runnin’ over with good feelin’s, and will stick to a fellow a mighty sight longer’n he’ll stick to himself. My woman’s dead and gone, but if there wan’t any women in the world, and I owned it, I’d sell out for three shillin’s, and throw in stars enough to make it an object for somebody to take it off my hands.
“Some time ago,” resumed Woodcock. “I heerd the little ones and some of the old ones tellin’ what they was goin’ to give Mary Pynchon when she got married; and it set me to thinkin’ what I could give her, for I knew if anybody ought to give her anything, it was me. But I hadn’t any money, and I couldn’t send to the Bay for anything, and I shouldn’t ‘a known what to get if I could, I might have shot a buck, but I couldn’t ‘a brought it to the weddin’, and it didn’t seem exactly ship-shape to give her anything she could eat up and forget. So I thought I’d give her a keepsake my wife left me when she died. It’s all I’ve got of any vally to me, and it’s somethin’ that’ll grow better every day it is kep’, if you’ll take care of it. I don’t know what’ll come of me, and I want to leave it in good hands.”
The bride began to grow curious, and despite their late repulse the group began to collect again.
“It’s a queer thing for a present, perhaps, (and Woodcock’s lip began to quiver and his eye to moisten,) but I hope it’ll do you some service. ‘Taint anything’t you can wear in your hair, or throw over your shoulders. It’s–it’s–“
“It’s what?” inquired Mary, with an encouraging smile.
Woodcock took hold of the hand of his child, and placing it in that of the questioner, burst out with, “God knows that’s the handle to it,” and retreated to the window, where he spent several minutes looking out into the night, and endeavoring to repress the spasms of a choking throat. Neither Mary Holyoke nor her husband could disguise their emotions, as they saw before them the living testimonial of Woodcock’s gratitude and trust. Mary stooped and kissed the gift-child, who clung to her as if, contrary to her father’s statement, she was an article of wearing apparel.
* * * * *
=_John Esten Cooke, 1830-._=
From “Estcourt, or the Memoirs of a Virginia Gentleman.”
=_311._= THE PORTRAIT.
“I see you are prepared now,” said the painter; “the thought I endeavored to suggest has entered your mind, for I read the expression in your face like an open book. Well, see if I have deceived you–look!”
And as he spoke, the painter removed a green curtain from the frame of a picture, so arranged that the full light of the middle window fell upon it.
Estcourt almost cried out with astonishment. Here, before him, as though ready to start from the canvas, was the woman who had been, his fate–who had died long years before; there in the full blaze of light, he saw her who had thrown the shadow upon his existence, which still clouded it, fresh, softly smiling, alive almost on the speaking and eloquent canvas. The blue eyes beamed with a tender and subdued sweetness, the delicate forehead, with its soft brown curls, rose airily above the perfectly arched brows, the innocent lips were half parted, and the portrait seemed almost ready to move from its frame, and descend, a living woman, into the apartment.
[Footnote 71: Conspicuous among the younger writers of Virginia, of which State he is a native; author of many novels.]
* * * * *
=_312._= ASPECTS OF SUMMER.
The glory of the summer deepened and grew more intense, the foliage assumed a darker tint of emerald, the sky glowed with a more dazzling blue, and the songs of the busy harvesters came sad and slow, like the long, melancholy swell of pensive sighs across the hills and fields, dying away finally into the “harvest home,” which told that the golden grain would wave no more in the wind until another year. The “harvest moon” looked down on bare fields now, and June was dead. At last came August, the month of great white clouds and imperial sunsets, the crowning hours of the rich summer, soon to fade away into the yellow autumn, the month of reveries and dreams on the banks of shadowy streams, or beneath, the old majestic trees of silent forests.
* * * * *
=_Sarah A. Dorsey, about 1835-._=
From “Lucia Dare.”
=_313._= SCENERY AND SOCIETY AT NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI.
The village of Natchez, under the hill, was clustered close to the water’s edge; the bluffs rose precipitously, garnished with pine trees, and locusts, and tufted grasses; the vista here terminated in Brown’s beautiful gardens, gay with flower-beds and closely-clipped hedges. Far away over the river stretched the broad emerald plain of Louisiana, level with the stream, extending for many, many miles, its champaign checkered with groups of white plantation-houses, spotted with groves of trees, rich in autumnal beauty, glowing with crimson, gold, and green, softened by veils of long, gray moss. This plain was dotted with lovely lakes, whose waters shone in the slanting rays of the declining sun…. The sun went down quickly, as he does at sea, a round, red fire-ball, while light, splendid clouds of purple, pink, lilac, and gray, on the blue, blue heavens, refracted the ascending, slender, quivering rays of the disappearing orb, the type of Deity in all natural religions, the Totem of the Natchez Indians. Beloved city–bright “city of the Sun”! How often have I paced with restless child’s feet, the road that Lucian was now traveling over, and listened, as he did, but more lingeringly, to the sounds of gentle human life, stirring within thy peaceful homes! How often have I thanked God for my beautiful childhood’s home–for my precious Southern Land–for its sunshine, its verdure, its forests, its flowers, its perfume; but oh! above all, for the loving, refined, intelligent, gentle race of people it was my great, my priceless privilege, to be born amongst–a people worthy to live with, yes, _worthy to die for_! The stern besom of war has wept over you, beloved Natchez–your fairest homes have been desolated, your lovely gardens are now only remembrances–your family circles are broken up–your bravest sons are sleeping in the dust of death, or weeping tears of bitterness in exile–your daughters, bowed down with penury and grief, are mourning beside their darkened firesides–your joyous households transferred to other and kindlier lands. The forms of my kindred faded into phantoms of the past–strangers sit now in the place that once was mine; but yet, thou art lovely, still beloved in thy ruin, in thy desolation–city of my heart–city of my love–city of my childish joy! Oh! city of my dead!
[Footnote 72: Prominent among the living authors of Louisiana.]
* * * * *
=_Anne Moncure Crane._=
From “Opportunity;” a Novel.
=_314._= IMPRESSION OF A SEA SCENE.
The tide had been out, but it was now rising; and they stood silently watching the long, low waves dissolve in foam, whose white edges each time crept nearer and nearer their feet. No one was conscious of the duration of the silence. The sea’s monotony of motion and sound seemed to fill the void, and lull them to quietude. But beautiful as was the scene that lay before her, Harvey gradually forgot it …
The two women had been nearly facing each other; and in a moment or two Harvey put his hand upon Rose’s shoulder, and with the other, motioned her to look out upon the sea at her side. As she obeyed, her faint, inarticulate expression of surprise and pleasure made both men follow her example. It was only a coasting vessel, which had come rather close to the shore, and was sailing swiftly by, before the freshening breeze; but Its broad, white sails, with the moonlight upon them, and its gliding, soundless motion, gave it an unearthly effect, as of a phantom of light floating between the dark sea and sky, or a great white-winged spirit sweeping past. When it had vanished into the distance and darkness, Rose turned, and looked up at Harvey with mute but half-parted lips, with eyes dilating with light, only this for a moment, but Miss Barney knew she had accomplished her wish.
The others also did not speak. But Grahame made an involuntary angry movement of his foot upon the sand.
[Footnote 73: A young authoress of Maryland: has written two novels of unusual promise.]
* * * * *
=_Mary Clemmer Ames, about 1837-._=
From “A Woman’s Right.”
=_315._= A RAILWAY DEPOT IN THE COUNTRY.
… Yet this depot was the centre of attraction for miles around. It was the grand hall of re-union for all the people of the scattered town, not second in importance even to the meeting-house. Here, twice a day, stopped the great Western and Eastern trains, the two fiery arteries through which flowed all the tumultuous life of the vast outer world that had ever come to this secluded hamlet. Its primitive inhabitants in their isolated farm-houses, under the hills and on the stony mountain-moors, could never have realized the existence of another world than the green, grand world of nature around them and above them, and would have been as oblivious of the great god “News” as the denizens of Greenland, if it had not been for the daily visits of this Cyclops with the burning eye. Now twice a day, the shriek of his diabolical whistle pierced the umbrageous woods and hilly gorges for miles away, and its cry to many a solitary household was the epoch of the day. Hearing it, John mounted his nag and scampered away to the station for the Boston journals of yesterday. Seth harnessed Peggy, and drove off in the buggy in all possible haste, to see if the mail had brought a letter from Amzi who was in New York, or from Nimrod who had gone to work in “Bosting,” or if the train had brought Sally and her children from the city, who were expected home on a visit. Here, under pretext of waiting for the cars, congregated the drones and supernumeraries of the different neighborhoods, lounging on the steps, hacking the benches with their jack-knives for hours together, while they discussed politics, and talked over their own and their neighbors’ affairs.
A walk to the station on a summer evening, was more to the boys and girls of this rural region, than a Broadway promenade to a metropolitan belle. Their day’s task done, here they met in pairs, comparing finery and indulging in flirtations, with an impunity which would not have been tolerated by their elders at the Sunday recess in the meeting-house. Then, besides, it was such an exciting sight to see the cars come in, to see the long rows of strange faces, and to catch glimpses of the new fashions at their open windows. Besides, at rare intervals, a real city lady would actually alight at the rustic station of Hilltop, followed by an avalanche of trunks, “larger than hen-houses,” the girls would afterwards affirm to their astonished mothers, when it was discovered that the city-lady, in her languishing necessity for country-air, had really condescended to come in search of a remote country-cousin. Besides the fine lady, sometimes small companies of dashing young gentlemen, with fishing-rods and retinues of long-eared dogs, or a long-haired artist with a portfolio under his arm, all lured by the mountains and woods and streams, to seek pleasure in far different ways, would alight at the station, and ask of some staring rustic where they could find the hotel.
[Footnote 74: An active writer, chiefly known as a newspaper correspondent from Washington; a native of Vermont, has published a novel of much descriptive vigor.]
=_Francis Hopkinson, 1737-1791._=
From “The Battle of the Kegs.”
Gallants, attend, and hear a friend
Trill forth harmonious ditty;
Strange things I’ll tell, which late befell In Philadelphia city.
‘Twas early day, as poets say,
Just when the sun was rising,
A soldier stood on a log of wood,
And saw a thing surprising.
As in amaze he stood to gaze,–
The truth can’t be denied, sir,– He spied a score of kegs, or more,
Come floating down the tide, sir.
A sailor, too, in jerkin blue,
This strange appearance viewing,
First rubbed his eyes, in great surprise, Then said some mischief’s brewing.
* * * * *
Some fire cried, which some denied,
But said the earth had quaked;
And girls and boys, with hideous noise, Ran through the streets half naked.
* * * * *
The royal band now ready stand,
All ranged in dread array, sir,
With stomach stout, to see it out, And make a bloody day, sir.
The cannons roar from shore to shore; The small arms make a rattle;
Since wars began, I’m sure no man
E’er saw so strange a battle.
A hundred men, with each a pen,
Or more,–upon my word, sir,
It is most true,–would be too few Their valor to record, sir.
[Footnote 75: A prominent author of the revolutionary era.]
[Footnote 76: In the revolutionary war, while the British held Philadelphia, some floating torpedoes were one day sent down the river to destroy their vessels, and this novel mode of attack caused the alarm described by the poet.]
* * * * *
=_John Trumbull, 1750-1831._= (Manual, pp. 490, 512.)
Though this, not all his time was lost on, He fortified the town of Boston,
Built breastworks that might lend assistance To keep the patriots at a distance;
For, howsoe’er the rogues might scoff, He liked them best the farthest off;
Works of important use to aid
His courage when he felt afraid.
* * * * *
For Providence, disposed to tease us, Can use what instruments it pleases;
To pay a tax, at Peter’s wish,
His chief cashier was once a fish.
* * * * *
An English bishop’s cur of late
Disclosed rebellions ‘gainst the State; So frogs croaked Pharaoh to repentance, And lice delayed the fatal sentence:
And Heaven can rain you at pleasure, By Gage, as soon as by a Caesar.
Yet did our hero in these days
Pick up some laurel-wreaths of praise; And as the statuary of Seville
Made his cracked saint an excellent devil. So, though our war small triumph brings, We gained great fame in other things.
Did not our troops show great discerning, And skill, your various arts in learning? Outwent they not each native noodle
By far, in playing Yankee-doodle?
Which, as ’twas your New England tune, ‘Twas marvellous they took so soon.
And ere the year was fully through, Did they not learn to foot it too,
And such a dance as ne’er was known For twenty miles on end lead down?
Did they not lay their heads together, And gain your art to tar and feather,
When Colonel Nesbitt, thro’ the town, In triumph bore the country-clown?
Oh! what a glorious work to sing
The veteran troops of Britain’s king, Adventuring for th’heroic laurel
With bag of feathers and tar-barrel! To paint the cart where culprits ride,
And Nesbitt marching at its side.
Great executioner and proud,
Like hangman high, on Holborn road; And o’er the slow-drawn rumbling car,
The waving ensigns of the war!
* * * * *
=_Philip Freneau, 1752-1832._= (Manual, pp. 486, 511.)
From “An Indian Burying-ground.”
In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep;
The posture that we give the dead, Points out the soul’s eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands;– The Indian, when from life released,
Again is seated with his friends,
And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul,–
Activity, that wants no rest.
His bow, for action ready bent,
And arrows, with a head of bone,
Can only mean that life is spent,
And not the finer essence gone.
* * * * *
Here still a lofty rock remains,
On which the curious eye may trace, Now wasted half by wearing rains,
The fancies of a ruder race.
* * * * *
By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews, In vestments for the chase arrayed.
The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer–a shade.
* * * * *
=_David Humphreys, 1783-1818._= (Manual, p. 512.)
From “The Happiness of America.”
=_319._= RECOLLECTIONS OF THE WAR.
I too, perhaps, should Heaven prolong my date, The oft-repeated tale shall oft relate; Shall tell the feelings in the first alarms, Of some bold enterprise the unequalled charms; Shall tell from whom I learnt the martial art, With what high chiefs I played my early part– With Parsons first–
* * * * *
Death-daring Putnam–then immortal Greene– Then how great Washington my youth approved, In rank preferred, and as a parent loved. With him what hours on warlike plains I spent, Beneath the shadow of th’ imperial tent; With him how oft I went the nightly round Through moving hosts, or slept on tented ground; From him how oft–(nor far below the first, In high behests and confidential trust)– From him how oft I bore the dread commands, Which destined for the fight the eager bands; With him how oft I passed the eventful day, Bode by his side, as down the long array His awful voice the columns taught to form, To point the thunders and direct the storm. But, thanks to Heaven! those days of blood are o’er; The trumpet’s clangor, the loud cannon’s roar.
* * * * *
No more this hand, since happier days succeed, Waves the bright blade, or reins the fiery steed. No more for martial fame this bosom burns; Now white-robed Peace to bless a world returns; Now fostering Freedom all her bliss bestows, Unnumbered blessings for unnumbered woes.
* * * * *
=_Samuel J. Smith, 1771-1835._=
=_320._= PEACE, BE STILL.
When, on his mission from his home in heaven, In the frail bark the Saviour deigned to sleep, The tempest rose–with headlong fury driven, The wave-tossed vessel whirled along the deep: Wild shrieked the storm amid the parting shrouds, And the vexed billows dashed the darkening clouds.
Ah! then how futile human skill and power,– “Save us! we perish in the o’erwhelming wave!” They cried, and found in that tremendous hour, “An eye to pity, and an arm to save.”
He spoke, and lo! obedient to His will, The raging waters, and the winds were still.
And thou, poor trembler on life’s stormy sea, Where dark the waves of sin and sorrow roll, To Him for refuge from the tempest flee,– To Him, confiding, trust the sinking soul; For O, He came to calm the tempest-tossed, To seek the wandering, and to save the lost.
For thee, and such as thee, impelled by love, He left the mansions of the blessed on high; Mid sin, and pain, and grief, and fear, to move, With lingering anguish, and with shame to die. The debt to Justice, boundless Mercy paid, For hopeless guilt, complete atonement made.
O, in return for such surpassing grace, Poor, blind, and naked, what canst thou impart? Canst thou no offering on his altar place? Yes, lowly mourner; give him all thy heart: That simple offering he will not disown,– That living incense may approach his throne.
[Footnote 77: A gentleman of fortune and literary culture; a life-long resident in the country, in his native State, New Jersey.]
* * * * *
=_William Clifton, 1772-1790._= (Manual, p. 512.)
From lines “To Fancy.”
=_321._= PLEASURES OF IMAGINATION.
Is my lonely pittance past?
Fleeting good too light to last?
Lifts my friend the latch no more? Fancy, thou canst all restore;
Thou canst, with thy airy shell,
To a palace raise my cell.
* * * * *
With thee to guide my steps, I’ll creep In some old haunted nook to sleep,
Lulled by the dreary night-bird’s scream, That flits along the wizard stream,
And there, till morning ‘gins appear, The tales of troubled spirits hear.
Sweet’s the dawn’s ambiguous light,
Quiet pause ‘tween day and night,
When afar the mellow horn
Chides the tardy gaited morn,
And asleep is yet the gale
On sea-beat mount, and rivered vale. But the morn, though sweet and fair;
Sweeter is when thou art there;
Hymning stars successive fade,
Fairies hurtle through the shade,
Lovelorn flowers I weeping see,
If the scene is touched by thee.
* * * * *
Thus through life with thee I’ll glide, Happy still what’er betide,
And while plodding sots complain
Of ceaseless toil and slender gain, Every passing hour shall be
Worth a golden age to me.
* * * * *
=_Robert Treat Paine, 1773-1811._= (Manual, p. 512.)
From “The Ruling Passion.”
=_322._= THE MISER.
Next comes the miser; palsied, jealous, lean, He looks the very skeleton of Spleen!
‘Mid forests drear, he haunts, in spectred gloom, Some desert abbey or some druid’s tomb; Where hearsed in earth, his occult riches lay, Fleeced from the world, and buried from the day. With crutch in hand, he points his mineral rod, Limps to the spot, and turns the well-known sod. While there, involved in night, he counts his store By the soft tinklings of the golden ore, He shakes with terror lest the moon should spy, And the breeze whisper, where his treasures lie.
This wretch, who, dying, would not take one pill, If, living, he must pay a doctor’s bill, Still clings to life, of every joy bereft; His God is gold, and his religion theft! And, as of yore, when modern vice was strange, Could leathern money current pass on ‘change, His reptile soul, whose reasoning powers are pent Within the logic bounds of cent per cent, Would sooner coin his ears than stocks should fall, And cheat the pillory, than not cheat at all!
* * * * *
=_John Blair Linn, 1777-1804._=
From “The Powers of Genius.”
=_323._= WRETCHEDNESS OF SAVAGE LIFE.
The human fabric early from its birth, Feels some fond influence from its parent earth; In different regions different forms we trace, Here dwells a feeble, there an iron race; Here genius lives, and wakeful fancies play, Here noiseless stupor sleeps its life away. * * * * *
Chill through his trackless pines the hunter passed, His yell arose upon the howling blast;
Before him fled, with all the speed of fear, His wealth–and victim, yonder helpless deer. Saw you the savage man, how fell and wild, With what grim pleasure, as he passed, he smiled? Unhappy man! a wretched wigwam’s shed
Is his poor shelter, some dry skins his bed; Sometimes alone upon the woodless height He strikes his fire, and spends his watchful night; His dog with howling bays the moon’s red beam, And starts the wild deer in his nightly dream. Poor savage man! for him no yellow grain Waves its bright billows o’er the fruitful plain; For him no harvest yields its full supply, When winter hurls his tempest through the sky. No joys he knows but those which spring from strife, Unknown to him the charms of social life. Rage, malice, envy, all his thoughts control, And every dreadful passion burns his soul. Should culture meliorate his darksome home, And cheer those wilds where he is wont to roam; * * * * *
Should fields of tillage yield their rich increase, And through his wastes walk forth the arts of peace, His sullen soul would feel a genial glow, Joy would break in upon the night of woe; Knowledge would spread her mild, reviving ray, And on his wigwam rise the dawn of day.
[Footnote 78: A Presbyterian clergyman, who died prematurely; an associate and connection of Charles Brockden Brown. Has left several poems of merit. A native of Pennsylvania.]
* * * * *
=_Francis S. Key, 1779-1843._= (Manual, p. 523.)
=_324._= THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.
O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight’s last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming; And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
On that shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: ‘Tis the Star-Spangled Banner; O, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where are the foes who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war, and the battle’s confusion, A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution. No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave; And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto, “In God is our trust;” And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
* * * * *
=_Washington Alston, 1779-1843._= (Manual, pp. 504. 510.)
From the “Sylphs of the Seasons.”
Methought, within a desert cave,
Cold, dark, and solemn as the grave, I suddenly awoke.
It seemed of sable night the cell
Where, save when from the ceiling fell An oozing drop, her silent spell
No sound had ever broke.
There motionless I stood alone,
Like some strange monument of stone Upon a barren wild;
Or like (so solid and profound
The darkness seemed that walled me round) A man that’s buried under ground,
Where pyramids are piled.
* * * * *
Then spake the Sylph of Spring serene, “‘Tis I thy joyous heart, I ween.
With sympathy shall move:
For I with living melody
Of birds in choral symphony,
First waked thy soul to poesy,
To piety and love.
“When thou, at call of vernal breeze, And beckoning bough of budding trees,
Hast left thy sullen fire;
And stretched thee in some mossy dell, And heard the browsing wether’s bell,
Blithe echoes rousing from their cell To swell the tinkling choir:
“Or lured by some fresh-scented gale That wooed the moored fisher’s sail
To tempt the mighty main,
Hast watched the dim, receding shore, Now faintly seen the ocean o’er,
Like hanging cloud, and now no more To bound the sapphire plain.
“Then, wrapped in night, the scudding bark, (That seemed, self-poised amid the dark, Through upper air to leap,)
Beheld, from thy most fearful height, The rapid dolphin’s azure light
Cleave, like a living meteor bright, The darkness of the deep.”
* * * * *
=_John Pierpont, 1785-1866._= (Manual, p. 513.)
=_326._= A TEMPERANCE SONG.
In Eden’s green retreats,
A water-brook–that played
Between soft, mossy seats,
Beneath a plane tree’s shade,
Whose rustling leaves
Danced o’er its brink–
Was Adam’s drink,
And also Eve’s.
* * * * *
And, when the man of God
From Egypt led his flock,
They thirsted, and his rod
Smote the Arabian rock,
And forth a rill
Of water gushed,
And on they rushed,
And drank their fill.
Had Moses built a still,
And dealt out to that host
To every man his gill,
And pledged him in a toast,
Would cooler brains,
Or stronger hands,
Have braved the sands
Of those hot plains?
If Eden’s strength and bloom,
Gold water thus hath given,
If e’en beyond the tomb,
It is the drink of heaven,
Are not good wells
And crystal springs
_The very things
for our Hotels?_
* * * * *
=_327._= THE PILGRIM FATHERS.
The Pilgrim Fathers,–where are they? The waves that brought them o’er
Still roll in the bay, and throw their spray, As they break along the shore:
Still roll in the bay, as they roll’d that day