by Augustus Baldwin Longstreet
PREFACE TO THE
NOTE BY THE
THE DANCE. A
ADVENTURE OF THE
THE CHARACTER OF
THE TURN OUT.
CREATURE" AS A
THE MOTHER AND
THE FOX HUNT.
Georgia Scenes: characters, incidents, c.,
in the first half century of the republic
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THE following sketches were written rather in the hope that chance
would bring them to light when time would give them an interest, than
in the belief that they would afford any interest to the readers of the
present day. I knew, however, that the chance of their surviving the
author would be increased in proportion to their popularity upon their
first appearance; and, therefore, I used some little art in order to
recommend them to the readers of my own times. They consist of nothing
more than fanciful combinations of real incidents and
characters; and throwing into those scenes, which would be otherwise
dull and insipid, some personal incident or adventure of my own, real
or imaginary, as it would best suit my purpose; usually real ,
but happening at different times and under different circumstances from
those in which they are here represented. I have not always, however,
taken this liberty. Some of the scenes are as literally true as the
frailties of memory would allow them to be. I commenced the publication
of them, in one of the gazettes of the State, rather more than a year
ago; and I was not more pleased than astonished to find that they were
well received by readers generally. For the last six months I have been
importuned by persons from all quarters of the State to give them to
the public in the present form. This volume is purely a concession to
their entreaties. From private considerations, I was extremely desirous
of concealing the author, and, the more effectually to do so, I wrote
under two signatures. These have now become too closely interwoven with
the sketches to be separated from them, without an expense of time and
trouble which I am unwilling to incur. Hall is the writer of
those sketches in which men appear as the principal actors,
and Baldwin of those in which women are the prominent
figures. For the "Company Drill" I am indebted to a friend, of
whose labours I would gladly have availed myself oftener. The reader
will find in the object of the sketches an apology for the minuteness
of detail into which some of them run, and for the introduction of some
things into them which would have been excluded were they merely the
creations of fancy.
I have not had it in my power to superintend the publication of
them, though they issue from a press in the immediate vicinity of my
residence. I discovered that, if the work was delayed until I could
have an opportunity of examining the proof sheets, it would linger in
the press until the expenses (already large) would become intolerable.
Consequently, there may be many typographical errors among them, for
which I must crave the reader's indulgence.
I cannot conclude these introductory remarks without reminding
those who have taken exceptions to the coarse, inelegant, and sometimes
ungrammatical language which the writer represents himself as
occasionally using, that it is language accommodated to the capacity
of the person to whom he represents himself as speaking.
NOTE BY THE PUBLISHERS.
IN justice to the author, the publishers feel bound to state, that the
present edition of the "Georgia Scenes" has been reprinted verbatim
from the original edition published at the South several years since.
As yet, they have been unable to prevail upon the author to revise the
work. The urgent demands for a new edition would not admit of a longer
delay. The publishers, therefore, in compliance with the wishes of the
booksellers, have printed a small edition of the work in its present
shape, hoping the author may find it convenient to revise and extend
the volume before another edition shall be required.
GEORGIA SCENES, &c.
IF my memory fail me not, the 10th of June, 1809 found me, at about 11
o'clock in the forenoon, ascending a long and gentle slope in what was
called "The Dark Corner" of Lincoln. I believe it took its name from
the moral darkness which reigned over that portion of the county at the
time of which I am speaking. If in this point of view it was but a
shade darker than the rest of the county, it was inconceivably dark. If
any man can name a trick or sin which had not been committed at the
time of which I am speaking, in the very focus of all the county's
illumination (Lincolnton), he must himself be the most inventive of the
tricky, and the very Judas of sinners. Since that time, however (all
humour aside), Lincoln has become a living proof "that light shineth in
darkness." Could I venture to mingle the solemn with the ludicrous,
even for the purposes of honourable contrast, I could adduce from this
county instances of the most numerous and wonderful transitions, from
vice and folly to virtue and holiness, which have ever, perhaps, been
witnessed since the days of the apostolic ministry. So much, lest it
should be thought by some that what I am about to relate is
characteristic of the county in which it occurred.
Whatever may be said of the
moral condition of the Dark
Corner at the time just mentioned, its natural condition was
anything but dark. It smiled in all the charms of spring; and spring
borrowed a new charm from its undulating grounds, its luxuriant
woodlands, its sportive streams, its vocal birds, and its blushing
Rapt with the enchantment of the season and the scenery around me,
I was slowly rising the slope, when I was startled by loud, profane;
and boisterous voices, which seemed to proceed from a thick covert of
undergrowth about two hundred yards in the advance of me, and about one
hundred to the right of my road.
"You kin, kin you?"
"Yes, I kin, and am able to do it! Boo-oo-oo. Oh, wake snakes, and
walk your chalks! Brimstone and fire! Don't hold me, Nick Stoval! The
fight's made up, and let's go at it. — my soul if I don't jump down
his throat, and gallop every chitterling out of him before you can say
"Now, Nick, don't hold him! Jist let the wild-cat come, and I'll
tame him. Ned'll see me a fair fight won't you, Ned?"
"Oh, yes; I'll see you a fair fight, blast my old shoes if I don't."
"That's sufficient, as Tom Haynes said when he saw the elephant.
Now let him come."
Thus they went on, with countless oaths interspersed, which I dare
not even hint at, and with much that I could not distinctly hear.
In Mercy's name! thought I, what band of ruffians has selected this
holy season and this heavenly retreat for such Pandæmonian riots! I
quickened my gait, and had come nearly opposite to the thick grove
whence the noise proceeded, when my eye caught indistinctly, and at
intervals, through the foliage of the dwarf-oaks and hickories which
intervened, glimpses of a man or men, who seemed to be in a violent
struggle; and I could occasionally catch those deep-drawn, emphatic
oaths which men in conflict utter when they deal blows. I dismounted,
and hurried to the spot with all speed. I had overcome about half the
space which separated it from me, when I saw the combatants come to the
ground, and, after a short struggle, I saw the uppermost one (for I
could not see the other) make a heavy plunge with both his thumbs, and
at the same instant I heard a cry in the accent of keenest torture,
"Enough! My eye's out!"
I was so completely horrorstruck, that I stood transfixed for a
moment to the spot where the cry met me. The accomplices in the hellish
deed which had been perpetrated had all fled at my approach; at least I
supposed so, for they were not to be seen.
"Now, blast your corn-shucking soul," said the victor (a youth
about eighteen years old) as he rose from the ground, "come cutt'n your
shines 'bout me agin, next time I come to the Courthouse, will you! Get
your owl-eye in agin if you can!"
At this moment he saw me for the first time. He looked excessively
embarrassed, and was moving off, when I called to him, in a tone
imboldened by the sacredness of my office and the iniquity of his
crime, "Come back, you brute! and assist me in relieving your
fellow-mortal, whom you have ruined for ever!"
My rudeness subdued his embarrassment in an instant; and, with a
taunting curl of the nose, he replied, "You needn't kick before you're
spurr'd. There a'nt nobody there, nor ha'nt been nother. I was jist
seein' how I could 'a' fout." So saying, he bounded to his
plough, which stood in the corner of the fence about fifty yards beyond
the battle ground.
And, would you believe it, gentle reader! his report was true. All
that I had heard and seen was nothing more nor less than a Lincoln
rehearsal; in which the youth who had just left me had played all the
parts of all the characters in a Courthouse fight.
I went to the ground from which he had risen, and there were the
prints of his two thumbs, plunged up to the balls in the mellow earth,
about the distance of a man's eyes apart; and the ground around was
broken up as if two stags had been engaged upon it.
A PERSONAL ADVENTURE OF THE AUTHOR.
SOME years ago I was called by business to one of the frontier
counties, then but recently settled. It became necessary for me, while
there, to enlist the services of Thomas Gibson, Esq., one of the
magistrates of the county, who resided about a mile and a half from my
lodgings; and to this circumstance was I indebted for my introduction
to him. I had made the intended disposition of my business, and was on
the eve of my departure for the city of my residence, when I was
induced to remain a day longer by an invitation from the squire to
attend a dance at his house on the following day. Having learned from
my landlord that I would probably "be expected at the frolic" about the
hour of 10 in the forenoon, and being desirous of seeing all that
passed upon the occasion, I went over about an hour before the time.
The squire's dwelling consisted of but one room, which answered the
threefold purpose of dining-room, bedroom, and kitchen. The house was
constructed of logs, and the floor was of puncheons ; a term
which, in Georgia, means split logs, with their faces a little smoothed
with the axe or hatchet. To gratify his daughters, Polly and Silvy, the
old gentleman and his lady had consented to camp out for a
day, and to surrender the habitation to the girls and their young
When I reached there I found all things in readiness for the
promised amusement. The girls, as the old gentleman informed me, had
compelled the family to breakfast under the trees, for they had
completely stripped the house of its furniture before the sun rose.
They were already attired for the dance, in neat but plain habiliments
of their own manufacture. "What!" says some weakly, sickly, delicate,
useless, affected, "charming creature" of the city, "dressed for a ball
at 9 in the morning!" Even so, my delectable Miss Octavia Matilda
Juliana Claudia Ipecacuanha: and what have you to say against it? If
people must dance, is it not much more rational to employ the hour
allotted to exercise in that amusement, than the hours sacred to repose
and meditation? And which is entitled to the most credit; the young
lady who rises with the dawn, and puts herself and whole house in order
for a ball four hours before it begins, or the one who requires a
fortnight to get herself dressed for it?
The squire and I employed the interval in conversation about the
first settlement of the country, in the course of which I picked up
some useful and much interesting information. We were at length
interrupted, however, by the sound of a violin, which proceeded from a
thick wood at my left. The performer soon after made his appearance,
and proved to be no other than Billy Porter, a negro fellow of much
harmless wit and humour, who was well known throughout the state. Poor
Billy! "his harp is now hung upon the willow;" and I would not blush to
offer a tear to his memory, for his name is associated with some of the
happiest scenes of my life, and he sleeps with many a dear friend, who
used to join me in provoking his wit and in laughing at his
eccentricities; but I am leading my reader to the grave instead of the
dance, which I promised. If, however, his memory reaches twelve years
back, he will excuse this short tribute of respect to BILLY PORTER.
Billy, to give his own account of himself, "had been taking a turn
with the brethren (the Bar); and, hearing the ladies wanted to see pretty Billy
, had come to give them a benefit." The squire had
not seen him before; and it is no disrespect to his understanding or
politeness to say, that he found it impossible to give me his attention
for half an hour after Billy arrived. I had nothing to do, therefore,
while the young people were assembling, but to improve my knowledge of
Billy's character, to the squire's amusement. I had been thus engaged
about thirty minutes, when I saw several fine, bouncing, ruddy-cheeked
girls descending a hill about the eighth of a mile off. They, too, were
attired in manufactures of their own hands. The refinements of the
present day in female dress had not even reached our republican cities at this time; and, of course, the
were wholly ignorant of them. They carried no more cloth upon their
arms or straw upon their heads than was necessary to cover them. They
used no artificial means of spreading their frock tails to an
interesting extent from their ankles. They had no boards laced to their
breasts, nor any corsets laced to their sides; consequently, they
looked, for all the world, like human beings, and could be distinctly
recognised as such at the distance of two hundred paces. Their
movements were as free and active as nature would permit them to be.
Let me not be understood as interposing the least objection to any lady
in this land of liberty dressing just as she pleases. If she choose to
lay her neck and shoulders bare, what right have I to look at them?
much less to find fault with them. If she choose to put three yards of
muslin in a frock sleeve, what right have I to ask why a little strip
of it was not put in the body? If she like the pattern of a hoisted
umbrella for a frock, and the shape of a cheese-cask for her body, what
is all that to me? But to return.
The girls were met by Polly and Silvy Gibson at some distance from
the house, who welcomed them — "with a kiss, of course" — oh, no;
but with something much less equivocal: a hearty shake of the hand and
smiling countenances, which had some meaning.
[Note. — The custom of kissing, as practiced in these days
by the amiables , is borrowed from the French, and by them from
The young ladies had generally collected before any of the young
men appeared. It was not long, however, before a large number of both
sexes were assembled, and they adjourned to the ballroom . But
for the snapping of a fiddle-string, the young people would have been
engaged in the amusement of the day in less than three minutes from the
time they entered the house. Here were no formal introductions to be
given, no drawing for places or partners, no parade of managers, no
ceremonies. It was perfectly understood that all were invited to dance, and that none were invited who were unworthy to be danced
with; consequently, no gentleman hesitated to ask any lady present to
dance with him, and no lady refused to dance with a gentleman merely
because she had not been made acquainted with him.
In a short time the string was repaired, and off went the party to
a good old republican six reel. I had been thrown among fashionables so long that I had almost forgotten my native dance.
But it revived rapidly as they wheeled through its mazes, and with it
returned many long-forgotten, pleasing recollections. Not only did the
reel return to me, but the very persons who used to figure in it with
me, in the heyday of youth.
Here was my old sweetheart, Polly Jackson, identically personified
in Polly Gibson; and here was Jim Johnson's, in Silvy; and Bill
Martin's, in Nancy Ware. Polly Gibson had my old flame's very steps as
well as her looks. "Ah!" said I, "squire, this puts me in mind of old
times. I have not seen a six reel for five-and-twenty years. It recalls
to my mind many a happy hour, and many a jovial friend who used to
enliven it with me. Your Polly looks so much like my old sweetheart,
Polly Jackson, that, were I young again, I certainly should fall in
love with her."
"That was the name of her mother," said the squire.
"Where did you marry her?" inquired I.
"In Wilkes," said he; "she was the daughter of old Nathan Jackson,
of that county."
"It isn't possible!" returned I. "Then it is the very girl of whom
I am speaking. Where is she?"
"She's out," said the squire, "preparing dinner for the young
people; but she'll be in towards the close of the day. But come along,
and I'll make you acquainted with her at once, if you'll promise not to
run away with her, for I tell you what it is, she's the likeliest gal in all these parts yet."
"Well," said I, "I'll promise not to run away with her, but you
must not let her know who I am. I wish to make myself known to her;
and, for fear of the worst, you shall witness the introduction. But
don't get jealous, squire, if she seems a little too glad to see me;
for, I assure you, we had a strong notion of each other when we were
"No danger," replied the squire; "she hadn't seen
or she never could have loved such a hard favoured man as you are."
In the mean time the dance went on, and I employed myself in
selecting from the party the best examples of the dancers of my day and
Mrs. Gibson's for her entertainment. In this I had not the least
difficulty; for the dancers before me and those of my day were in all
Jim Johnson kept up the double shuffle from the beginning to the
end of the reel: and here was Jim over again in Sammy Tant. Bill Martin
always set to his partner with the same step; and a very curious step
it was. He brought his right foot close behind his left, and with it
performed precisely the motion of the thumb in cracking that insect
which Burns has immortalized; then moved his right back, threw his
weight upon it, brought his left behind it, and cracked with
that as before; and so on alternately. Just so did Bill Kemp, to a
nail. Bob Simons danced for all the world like a "Suple Jack" (or, as
we commonly call it, a "Suple Sawney"), when the string is
pulled with varied force, at intervals of seconds: and so did Jake Slack. Davy Moore went like a suit of clothes upon a clothing line on
a windy day: and here was his antitype in Ned Clark. Rhoda Nobles swam
through the reel like a cork on wavy waters; always giving two or three
pretty little perchbite diddles as she rose from a coupee:
Nancy Ware was her very self. Becky Lewis made a business of dancing;
she disposed of her part as quick as possible, stopped dead short as
soon as she got through, and looked as sober as a judge all the time;
even so did Chloe Dawson. I used to tell Polly Jackson, that Becky's
countenance, when she closed a dance, always seemed to say, "Now, if
you want any more dancing, you may do it yourself."
The dance grew merrier as it progressed; the young people became
more easy in each other's company, and often enlivened the scene with
most humorous remarks. Occasionally some sharp cuts passed between the
boys, such as would have produced half a dozen duels at a city ball;
but here they were taken as they were meant, in good humour. Jim
Johnson being a little tardy in meeting his partner at a turn of the
reel, "I ax pardon, Miss Chloe," said he, "Jake Slack went to
make a crosshop just now, and tied his legs in a hard knot, and I
stop'd to help him untie them." A little after, Jake hung his toe in a
crack of the floor, and nearly fell; "Ding my buttons," said he, "if I
didn't know I should stumble over Jim Johnson's foot at last; Jim, draw
your foot up to your own end of the reel." (Jim was at the other end of
the reel, and had, in truth, a prodigious foot.)
Towards the middle of the day, many of the neighbouring farmers
dropped in, and joined the squire and myself in talking of old times.
At length dinner was announced. It consisted of plain fare, but
there was a profusion of it. Rough planks, supported by stakes driven
in the ground, served for a table; at which the old and young of both
sexes seated themselves at the same time. I soon recognized Mrs. Gibson
from all the matrons present. Thirty years had wrought great changes in
her appearance, but they had left some of her features entirely
unimpaired. Her eye beamed with all its youthful fire; and, to my
astonishment, her mouth was still beautified with a full set of teeth,
unblemished by time. The rose on her cheek had rather freshened than
faded and her smile was the very same that first subdued my heart; but
her fine form was wholly lost, and, with it, all the grace of her
movements. Pleasing but melancholy reflections occupied my mind as I
gazed on her dispensing her cheerful hospitalities. I thought of the
sad history of many of her companions and mine, who used to carry light
hearts through the merry dance. I compared my after life with the
cloudless days of my attachment to Polly. Then I was light hearted,
gay, contented, and happy. I aspired to nothing but a good name, a good
wife, and an easy competence. The first and last were mine already; and
Polly had given me too many little tokens of her favour to leave a
doubt now that the second was at my command. But I was foolishly told
that my talents were of too high an order to be employed in the
drudgeries of a farm, and I more foolishly believed it. I forsook the
pleasures which I had tried and proved, and went in pursuit of those
imaginary joys which seemed to encircle the seat of Fame. From that
moment to the present, my life had been little else than one unbroken
scene of disaster, disappointment, vexation, and toil. And now, when I
was too old to enjoy the pleasures which I had discarded, I found that
my aim was absolutely hopeless; and that my pursuits had only served to
unfit me for the humbler walks of life, and to exclude me from the
higher. The gloom of these reflections was, however, lightened in a
measure by the promises of the coming hour, when I was to live over
again with Mrs. Gibson some of the happiest moments of my life.
After a hasty repast the young people returned to their amusement,
followed by myself, with several of the elders of the company. An hour
had scarcely elapsed before Mrs. Gibson entered, accompanied by a
goodly number of matrons of her own age. This accession to the company
produced its usual effects. It raised the tone of conversation a full
octave, and gave it a triple time movement; added new life to the wit
and limbs of the young folks, and set the old men to cracking jokes.
At length the time arrived for me to surprise and delight Mrs.
Gibson. The young people insisted upon the old folks taking a reel; and
this was just what I had been waiting for; for, after many plans for
making the discovery, I had finally concluded upon that which I thought
would make her joy general among the company: and that was, to
announce myself, just before leading her to the dance, in a voice
audible to most of the assembly. I therefore readily assented to the
proposition of the young folks, as did two others of my age, and we
made to the ladies for our partners. I, of course, offered my hand to
"Come," said I, "Mrs. Gibson, let us see if we can't out-dance
these young people."
"Dear me, sir," said she, "I haven't danced a step these twenty
"Neither have I; but I've resolved to try once more, if you will
join me, just for old time's sake."
"I really cannot think of dancing," said she.
"Well," continued I (raising my voice to a pretty high pitch, on
purpose to be heard, while my countenance kindled with exultation at
the astonishment and delight which I was about to produce), "you surely
will dance with an old friend and sweetheart, who used to dance with
you when a girl!"
At this disclosure her features assumed a vast variety of
expressions; but none of them responded precisely to my expectation:
indeed, some of them were of such an equivocal and alarming character,
that I deemed it advisable not to prolong her suspense. I therefore
"Have you forgot your old sweetheart, Abram Baldwin?"
"What!" said she, looking more astonished and confused than ever.
"Abram Baldwin! Abram Baldwin! I don't think I ever heard the name
"Do you remember Jim Johnson?" said I.
"Oh, yes," said she, "mighty well," her countenance brightening
with a smile.
"And Bill Martin?"
"Yes, perfectly well; why,
who are you?"
Here we were interrupted by one of the gentlemen, who had led his
partner to the floor, with, "Come, stranger, we're getting mighty tired
o' standing. It won't do for old people that's going to dance to take
up much time in standing; they'll lose all their spryness.
Don't stand begging Polly Gibson, she never dances; but take my Sal
there, next to her; she'll run a reel with you, to old Nick's house and
No alternative was left me, and therefore I offered my hand to Mrs.
Sally — I didn't know who.
"Well," thought I, as I moved to my place, "the squire is pretty
secure from jealousy; but Polly will soon remember me when she sees my
steps in the reel. I will dance precisely as I used to in my youth, if
it tire me to death." There was one step that was almost exclusively my
own, for few of the dancers of my day could perform it at all, and none
with the grace and ease that I did. "She'll remember Abram Baldwin,"
thought I, "as soon as she sees the double cross-hop." It was
performed by rising and crossing the legs twice or thrice before
lighting, and I used to carry it to the third cross with considerable
ease. It was a step solely adapted to setting or balancing, as all will
perceive; but I thought the occasion would justify a little perversion
of it, and therefore resolved to lead off with it, that Polly might be
at once relieved from suspense. Just, however, as I reached my place,
Mrs. Gibson's youngest son, a boy about eight years old, ran in and
cried out, "Mammy, old Boler's jump'd upon the planks, and dragg'd off
a great hunk o' meat as big as your head, and broke a dish and two
plates all to darn smashes!" Away went Mrs. Gibson, and off went the
music. Still I hoped that matters would be adjusted in time for Polly
to return and see the double cross-hop; and I felt the mortification
which my delay in getting a partner had occasioned somewhat solaced by
the reflection that it had thrown me at the foot of the reel.
The first and second couples had nearly completed their
performances, and Polly had not returned. I began to grow uneasy, and
to interpose as many delays as I could without attracting notice.
The six reel is closed by the foot couple balancing at the head of
the set, then in the middle, then at the foot, again in the middle,
meeting at the head, and leading down.
My partner and I had commenced balancing at the head, and Polly had
not returned. I balanced until my partner forced me on. I now deemed it
advisable to save myself up wholly to the double cross-hop; so that, if
Polly should return in time to see any step, it should be this, though
I was already nearly exhausted. Accordingly, I made the attempt to
introduce it in the turns of the reel; but the first experiment
convinced me of three things at once: 1st. That I could not have used
the step in this way in my best days; 2d. That my strength would not
more than support it in its proper place for the remainder of the reel;
and, 3d. If I tried it again in this way, I should knock my brains out
against the puncheons; for my partner, who seemed determined to confirm
her husband's report of her, evinced no disposition to wait upon
experiments; but, fetching me a jerk while I was up and my legs
crossed, had wellnigh sent me head foremost to Old Nick's house, sure
We met in the middle, my back to the door, and from the silence
that prevailed in the yard, I flattered myself that Polly might be even
now catching the first glimpse of the favourite step, when I heard her
voice at some distance from the house: "Get you gone! G-e-e-e-t you
gone! G-e-e-e-e-e-t you gone!" Matters out doors were now clearly
explained. There had been a struggle to get the meat from Boler; Boler
had triumphed, and retreated to the woods with his booty, and Mrs.
Gibson was heaping indignities upon him in the last resort.
The three "Get-you-gones" met me precisely at the three
closing balances; and the last brought my moral energies to a perfect
level with my physical.
Mrs. Gibson returned, however, in a few minutes after, in a good
humour; for she possessed a lovely disposition, which even marriage
could not spoil. As soon as I could collect breath enough for regular
conversation (for, to speak in my native dialect, I was "mortal tired
"), I took a seat by her, resolved not to quit the house without making
myself known to her, if possible.
"How much," said I, "your Polly looks and dances like you used to,
at her age."
"I've told my old man so a hundred times," said she. "Why, who upon
earth are you!"
"Did you ever see two persons dance more alike than Jim Johnson and
"Never. Why, who can you be!"
"You remember Becky Lewis?"
"Well, look at Chloe Dawson, and you'll see her over again."
"Well, law me! Now I know I must have seen you somewhere; but, to
save my life, I can't tell where. Where did your father live?"
"He died when I was small."
"And where did you use to see me?"
"At your father's, and old Mr. Dawson's, and at Mrs. Barnes's, and
at Squire Noble's, and many other places."
"Well, goodness me! it's mighty strange I can't call you to mind."
I now began to get petulant, and thought it best to leave her.
The dance wound up with the old merry jig, and the company
The next day I set out for my residence. I had been at home rather
more than two months, when I received the following letter from Squire
"DEAR SIR: I send you the money collected on the notes you left
with me. Since you left here, Polly has been thinking about old times,
and she says, to save her life, she can't recollect you."
DURING the session of the Supreme Court, in the village of — , about
three weeks ago, when a number of people were collected in the
principal street of the village, I observed a young man riding up and
down the street, as I supposed, in a violent passion. He galloped this
way, then that, and then the other; spurred his horse to one group of
citizens, then to another; then dashed off at half speed, as if fleeing
from danger; and, suddenly checking his horse, returned first in a
pace, then in a trot, and then in a canter. While he was performing
these various evolutions, he cursed, swore, whooped, screamed, and
tossed himself in every attitude which man could assume on horseback.
In short, he cavorted most magnanimously (a term which, in our
tongue, expresses all that I have described, and a little more), and
seemed to be setting all creation at defiance. As I like to see all
that is passing, I determined to take a position a little nearer to
him, and to ascertain, if possible, what it was that affected him so
sensibly. Accordingly, I approached a crowd before which he had stopped
for a moment, and examined it with the strictest scrutiny. But I could
see nothing in it that seemed to have anything to do with the cavorter.
Every man appeared to be in good humour, and all minding their own
business. Not one so much as noticed the principal figure. Still he
went on. After a semicolon pause, which my appearance seemed to produce
(for he eyed me closely as I approached), he fetched a whoop, and swore
that "he could out-swap any live man, woman, or child that ever walked
these hills, or that ever straddled horseflesh since the days of old
daddy Adam. "Stranger," said he to me, "did you ever see the Yallow
Blossom from Jasper?"
"No," said I, "but I have often heard of him."
"I'm the boy," continued he; "perhaps a
leetle, jist a
leetle, of the best man at a horse-swap that ever trod
I began to feel my situation a little awkward, when I was relieved
by a man somewhat advanced in years, who stepped up and began to survey
the "Yallow Blossom's" horse with much apparent interest. This
drew the rider's attention, and he turned the conversation from me to
"Well, my old coon," said he, "do you want to swap
"Why, I don't know," replied the stranger; "I believe I've got a
beast I'd trade with you for that one, if you like him."
"Well, fetch up your nag, my old cock; you're jist the lark I
wanted to get hold of. I am perhaps a leetle, jist a leetle
, of the best man at a horse swap that ever stole cracklins out
of his mammy's fat gourd. Where's your hoss?"
"I'll bring him presently; but I want to examine your horse a
"Oh! look at him," said the Blossom, alighting and hitting him a
cut; "look at him. He's the best piece of hossflesh in the
thirteen united univarsal worlds. There's no sort o' mistake in little
Bullet. He can pick up miles on his feet, and fling 'em behind him as
fast as the next man's hoss, I don't care where he comes from.
And he can keep at it as long as the sun can shine without resting."
During this harangue, little Bullet looked as if he understood it
all, believed it, and was ready at any moment to verify it. He was a
horse of goodly countenance, rather expressive of vigilance than fire;
though an unnatural appearance of fierceness was thrown into it by the
loss of his ears, which had been cropped pretty close to his head.
Nature had done but little for Bullet's head and neck; but he managed,
in a great measure, to hide their defects by bowing perpetually. He had
obviously suffered severely for corn; but if his ribs and hip bones
had not disclosed the fact, he never would have done it; for
he was in all respects as cheerful and happy as if he commanded all the
corn-cribs and fodder-stacks in Georgia. His height was about twelve
hands; but as his shape partook somewhat of that of the giraffe, his
haunches stood much lower. They vere short, strait, peaked, and
concave. Bullet's tail, however, made amends for all his defects. All
that the artist could do to beautify it had been done; and all that
horse could do to compliment the artist, Bullet did. His tail was
nicked in superior style, and exhibited the line of beauty in so many
directions, that it could not fail to hit the most fastidious taste in
some of them. From the root it dropped into a graceful festoon; then
rose in a handsome curve; then resumed its first direction; and then
mounted suddenly upward like a cypress knee to a perpendicular of about
two and a half inches. The whole had a careless and bewitching
inclination to the right. Bullet obviously knew where his beauty lay,
and took all occasions to display it to the best advantage. If a stick
cracked, or if any one moved suddenly about him, or coughed, or hawked,
or spoke a little louder than common, up went Bullet's tail like
lightning; and if the going up did not please, the coming
down must of necessity, for it was as different from the other
movement as was its direction. The first was a bold and rapid flight
upward, usually to an angle of forty-five degrees. In this position he
kept his interesting appendage until he satisfied himself that nothing
in particular was to be done; when he commenced dropping it by half
inches, in second beats, then in triple time, then faster and shorter,
and faster and shorter still, until it finally died away imperceptibly
into its natural position. If I might compare sights to sounds, I
should say its settling was more like the note of a locust
than anything else in nature.
Either from native sprightliness of disposition, from
uncontrollable activity, or from an unconquerable habit of removing
flies by the stamping of the feet, Bullet never stood still; but
always kept up a gentle fly-scaring movement of his limbs, which was
"I tell you, man," proceeded the Yellow Blossom, "he's the best
live hoss that ever trod the grit of Georgia. Bob Smart knows the hoss.
Come here, Bob, and mount this hoss, and show Bullet's motions." Here
Bullet bristled up, and looked as if he had been hunting for Bob all
day long, and had just found him. Bob sprang on his back. "Boo-oo-oo!"
said Bob, with a fluttering noise of the lips; and away went Bullet, as
if in a quarter race, with all his beauties spread in handsome style.
"Now fetch him back," said Blossom. Bullet turned and came in
pretty much as he went out.
"Now trot him by." Bullet reduced his tail to " customary;"
sidled to the right and left airily, and exhibited at least three
varieties of trot in the short space of fifty yards.
"Make him pace!" Bob commenced twitching the bridle and kicking at
the same time. These inconsistent movements obviously (and most
naturally) disconcerted Bullet; for it was impossible for him to learn,
from them, whether he was to proceed or stand still. He started to
trot, and was told that wouldn't do. He attempted a canter, and was
checked again. He stopped, and was urged to go on. Bullet now rushed
into the wide field of experiment, and struck out a gait of his own,
that completely turned the tables upon his rider, and certainly
deserved a patent. It seemed to have derived its elements from the jig,
the minuet, and the cotillon. If it was not a pace, it certainly had pace in it, and no man would venture to call it anything else; so
it passed off to the satisfaction of the owner.
"Walk him!" Bullet was now at home again; and he walked as if money
was staked on him.
The stranger, whose name, I afterward learned, was Peter Ketch,
having examined Bullet to his heart's content, ordered his son Neddy to
go and bring up Kit. Neddy soon appeared upon Kit; a well-formed sorrel
of the middle size, and in good order. His tout ensemble threw Bullet entirely in the shade, though a glance was sufficient to
satisfy any one that Bullet had the decided advantage of him in point
"Why, man," said Blossom, "do you bring such a hoss as that to
trade for Bullet? Oh, I see you're no notion of trading."
"Ride him off, Neddy!" said Peter. Kit put off at a handsome lope.
"Trot him back!" Kit came in at a long, sweeping trot, and stopped
suddenly at the crowd.
"Well," said Blossom, "let me look at him; maybe he'll do to
"Examine him!" said Peter, taking hold of the bridle close to the
mouth; "he's nothing but a tacky. He an't as pretty a horse as
Bullet, I know; but he'll do. Start 'em together for a hundred and
fifty mile; and if Kit an't twenty mile ahead of him at the
coming out, any man may take Kit for nothing. But he's a monstrous mean
horse, gentleman; any man may see that. He's the scariest horse, too,
you ever saw. He won't do to hunt on, no how. Stranger, will you let
Neddy have your rifle to shoot off him? Lay the rifle between his ears,
Neddy, and shoot at the blaze in that stump. Tell me when his head is
Ned fired, and hit the blaze; and Kit did not move a hair's breadth.
"Neddy, take a couple of sticks, and beat on that hogshead at Kit's
Ned made a tremendous rattling, at which Bullet took fright, broke
his bridle, and dashed off in grand style; and would have stopped all
farther negotiations by going home in disgust, had not a traveller
arrested him and brought him back; but Kit did not move.
"I tell you, gentlemen," continued Peter, "he's the scariest horse
you ever saw. He an't as gentle as Bullet, but he won't do any harm if
you watch him. Shall I put him in a cart, gig, or wagon for you,
stranger? He'll cut the same capers there he does here. He a a
monstrous mean horse."
During all this time Blossom was examining him with the nicest
scrutiny. Having examined his frame and limbs, he now looked at his
"He's got a curious look out of his eyes," said Blossom.
"Oh yes, sir," said Peter, "just as blind as a bat. Blind horses
always have clear eyes. Make a motion at his eyes, if you please, sir."
Blossom did so, and Kit threw up his head rather as if something
pricked him under the chin than as if fearing a blow. Blossom repeated
the experiment, and Kit jerked back in considerable astonishment.
"Stone blind, you see, gentlemen," proceeded Peter; "but he's just
as good to travel of a dark night as if he had eyes."
"Blame my buttons," said Blossom, "if I like them eyes."
"No," said Peter, "nor I neither. I'd rather have 'em made of
diamonds; but they'll do, if they don't show as much white as Bullet's."
"Well," said Blossom, "make a pass at me."
"No," said Peter; "you made the banter, now make your pass."
"Well, I'm never afraid to price my hosses. You must give me
twenty-five dollars boot."
"Oh, certainly; say fifty, and my saddle and bridle in. Here,
Neddy, my son, take daddy's horse."
"Well," said Blossom, "I've made my pass, now you make yours."
"I'm for short talk in a horse-swap, and therefore always tell a
gentleman at once what I mean to do. You must give me ten dollars."
Blossom swore absolutely, roundly, and profanely, that he never
would give boot.
"Well," said Peter, "I didn't care about trading; but you cut such
high shines, that I thought I'd like to back you out, and I've done it.
Gentlemen, you see I've brought him to a hack."
"Come, old man," said Blossom, "I've been joking with you. I begin
to think you do want to trade; therefore, give me five dollars and
take Bullet. I'd rather lose ten dollars any time than not make a
trade, though I hate to fling away a good hoss."
"Well," said Peter, "I'll be as clever as you are. Just put the
five dollars on Bullet's back,and hand him over; it's a trade."
Blossom swore again, as roundly as before, that he would not give
boot; and, said he, "Bullet wouldn't hold five dollars on his back, no
how. But, as I bantered you, if you say an even swap, here's at you."
"I told you," said Peter, "I'd be as clever as you, therefore, here
goes two dollars more, just for trade sake. Give me three dollars, and
it's a bargain."
Blossom repeated his former assertion; and here the parties stood
for a long time, and the by-standers (for many were now collected)
began to taunt both parties. After some time, however, it was pretty
unanimously decided that the old man had backed Blossom out.
At length Blossom swore he "never would be backed out for three
dollars after bantering a man;" and, accordingly, they closed the trade.
"Now," said Blossom, as he handed Peter the three dollars, "I'm a
man that, when he makes a bad trade, makes the most of it until he can
make a better. I'm for no rues and after-claps."
"That's just my way," said Peter; "I never goes to law to mend my
"Ah, you're the kind of boy I love to trade with. Here's your hoss,
old man. Take the saddle and bridle off him, and I'll strip yours; but
lift up the blanket easy from Bullet's back; for he's a mighty
The old man removed the saddle, but the blanket stuck fast. He
attempted to raise it, and Bullet bowed himself, switched his tail,
danced a little, and gave signs of biting.
"Don't hurt him, old man," said Blossom, archly; "take it off easy.
I am, perhaps, a leetle of the best man at a horse-swap that ever
catched a coon."
Peter continued to pull at the blanket more and more roughly, and
Bullet became more and more cavortish: insomuch that, when the blanket
came off, he had reached the kicking point in good earnest.
The removal of the blanket disclosed a sore on Bullet's back-bone
that seemed to have defied all medical skill. It measured six full
inches in length and four in breadth, and had as many features as
Bullet had motions. My heart sickened at the sight; and I felt that the
brute who had been riding him in that situation deserved the halter.
The prevailing feeling, however, was that of mirth. The laugh
became loud and general at the old man's expense, and rustic witticisms
were liberally bestowed upon him and his late purchase. These Blossom
continued to provoke by various remarks. He asked the old man "if he
thought Bullet would let five dollars lie on his back." He declared
most seriously that he had owned that horse three months, and had never
discovered before that he had a sore back, "or he never should have
thought of trading him," &c., &c.
The old man bore it all with the most philosophic composure. He
evinced no astonishment at his late discovery, and made no replies. But
his son Neddy had not disciplined his feelings quite so well. His eyes
opened wider and wider from the first to the last pull of the blanket;
and, when the whole sore burst upon his view, astonishment and fright
seemed to contend for the mastery of his countenance. As the blanket
disappeared, he stuck his hands in his breeches pockets, heaved a deep
sigh, and lapsed into a profound revery, from which he was only roused
by the cuts at his father. He bore them as long as he could; and, when
he could contain himself no longer, he began, with a certain wildness
of expression which gave a peculiar interest to what he uttered: "His
back's mighty bad off; but dod drot my soul if he's put it to daddy as
bad as he thinks he has, for old Kit's both blind and deef ,
I'll be dod drot if he eint."
"The devil he is," said Blossom.
"Yes, dod drot my soul if he
eint. You walk him, and see if
he eint. His eyes don't look like it; but he'd jist as leve
go agin the house with you, or in a ditch, as any how. Now you go
try him." The laugh was now turned on Blossom; and many rushed to test
the fidelity of the little boy's report. A few experiments established
its truth beyond controversy.
"Neddy," said the old man, "you oughtn't to try and make people
discontented with their things. Stranger, don't mind what the little
boy says. If you can only get Kit rid of them little failings, you'll
find him all sorts of a horse. You are a leetle the best man
at a horse-swap that ever I got hold of; but don't fool away Kit. Come,
Neddy, my son, let's be moving; the stranger seems to be getting
THE CHARACTER OF A NATIVE GEORGIAN.
THERE are some yet living who knew the man whose character I am about
to delineate; and these will unanimously bear testimony, that, if it be
not faithfully drawn, it is not overdrawn. They cannot avouch for the
truth of the anecdotes which I am about to relate of him, because of
these they know nothing; but they will unhesitatingly declare, that
there is nothing herein ascribed to him of which he was incapable, and
of which he would not readily have been the author, supposing the
scenes in which I have placed him to be real, and the thoughts and
actions attributed to him to have actually suggested themselves to him.
They will farther testify, that the thoughts and actions are in perfect
harmony with his general character.
I do not feel at liberty as yet to give the name of the person in
question, and therefore he shall be designated for the present by the
appellation of Ned Brace.
This man seemed to live only to amuse himself with his fellow
beings, and he possessed the rare faculty of deriving some
gratification of his favourite propensity from almost every person whom
he met, no matter what his temper, standing, or disposition. Of course
he had opportunities enough of exercising his uncommon gift, and he
rarely suffered an opportunity to pass unimproved. The beau in the
presence of his mistress, the fop, the pedant, the purse-proud, the
over-fastidious and sensitive, were Ned's favourite game. These never
passed him uninjured; and against such he directed his severest shafts.
With these he commonly amused himself, by exciting in them every
variety of emotion, under circumstances peculiarly ridiculous. He was
admirably fitted to his vocation. He could assume any character which
his humour required him to personate, and he could sustain it to
perfection. His knowledge of the character of others seemed to be
It may seem remarkable, but it is true, that, though he lived his
own peculiar life for about sixteen years, after he reached the age of
manhood he never involved himself in a personal rencounter with any
one. This was owing, in part, to his muscular frame, which few would be
willing to engage; but more particularly to his adroitness in the
management of his projects of fun. He generally conducted them in such
a way as to render it impossible for any one to call him to account
without violating all the rules of decency, politeness and chivalry at
once. But a few anecdotes of him will give the reader a much better
idea of his character than he can possibly derive from a general
description. If these fulfil the description which I have given of my
hero, all will agree that he is no imaginary being: if they do not, it
will only be because I am unfortunate in my selection. Having known him
from his earliest manhood to his grave — for he was a native Georgian
— I confess that I am greatly perplexed in determining what portions
of his singular history to lay before the reader as a proper specimen
of the whole. A three day's visit, which I once made with him to
Savannah, placed him in a greater variety of scenes, and among a
greater diversity of characters, than perhaps any other period of his
life, embracing no longer time; and, therefore, I will choose this for
We reached Savannah just at nightfall of a cold December's evening.
As we approached the tavern of Mr. Blank, at which we designed to stop,
Ned proposed to me that we should drop our acquaintance until he should choose to renew it. To this proposition I most cordially
assented, for I knew that, so doing, I should be saved some
mortifications, and avoid a thousand questions which I would not know
how to answer. According to this understanding, Ned lingered behind, in
order that I might reach the tavern alone.
On alighting at the public house I was led into a large dining
room, at the entrance of which, to the right, stood the bar, opening
into the dining-room. On the left, and rather nearer to the centre of
the room, was a fireplace, surrounded by gentlemen. Upon entering the
room, my name was demanded at the bar: it was given, and I took my seat
in the circle around the fire. I had been seated just long enough for
the company to survey me to their satisfaction and resume their
conversation, when Ned's heavy footstep at the door turned the eyes of
the company to the approaching stranger.
"Your name, sir, if you please?" said the restless little
barkeeper, as he entered.
Ned stared at the question with apparent alarm; cast a fearful
glance at the company; frowned and shook his head in token of caution
to the barkeeper; looked confused for a moment; then, as if suddenly
recollecting himself, jerked a piece of paper out of his pocket, turned
from the company, wrote on it with his pencil, handed it to the
barkeeper, walked to the left of the fireplace, and took the most
conspicuous seat in the circle. He looked at no one, spoke to no one;
but, fixing his eyes on the fire, lapsed into a profound revery.
The conversation, which had been pretty general before, stopped as
short as if every man in the room had been shot dead. Every eye was
fixed on Ned, and every variety of expression was to be seen on the
countenances of the persons present. The landlord came in; the
barkeeper whispered to him and looked at Ned. The landlord looked at
him too with astonishment and alarm; the barkeeper produced a piece of
paper, and both of them examined it, as if searching for a fig-mite
with the naked eye. They rose from the examination unsatisfied, and
looked at Ned again. Those of the company who recovered first from
their astonishment tried to revive the conversation; but the effort was
awkward, met with no support, and failed. The barkeeper, for the first
time in his life, became dignified and solemn, and left the bar to
take care of itself. The landlord had a world of foolish questions to
ask the gentlemen directly opposite to Ned, for which purpose he passed
round to them every two minutes, and the answer to none did he hear.
Three or four boarders coming in, who were unapprized of what had
happened, at length revived the conversation; not, however, until they
had created some confusion, by inquiring of their friends the cause of
their sober looks. As soon as the conversation began to become easy and
natural, Ned rose and walked out into the entry. With the first
movement all were as hush as death; but, when he had cleared the door,
another Babel scene ensued. Some inquired, others suspected, and all
wondered. Some were engaged in telling the strangers what had happened,
others were making towards the bar, and all were becoming clamorous,
when Ned returned and took his seat. His re-entry was as fatal to
conversation as was the first movement of his exit; but it soon
recovered from the shock; with the difference, however, that those who led
before were now mute, and wholly absorbed in the
contemplation of Ned's person.
After retaining his seat for about ten minutes, Ned rose again,
inquired the way to the stable, and left the house. As soon as he
passed the outer door, the barkeeper hastened to the company with Ned's
paper in his hand. "Gentlemen," said he, "can any of you tell me what
name this is?" All rushed to the paper in an instant; one or two pair
of heads met over it with considerable force. After pondering over it
to their heart's content, they all agreed that the first letter was an
"E," and the second a "B" or an "R," and the d-l himself could not make
out the balance. While they were thus engaged, to the astonishment of
everybody, Ned interrupted their deliberations with, "Gentlemen, if you
have satisfied yourselves with that paper, I'll thank you for it." It
is easy to imagine, but impossible to describe, the looks and actions
of the company under their surprise and mortification. They dropped
off, and left the barkeeper to his appropriate duty of handing the
paper to Ned. He reached it forth, but Ned moved not a hand to receive
it for about the space of three seconds, during which time he kept his
eyes fixed upon the arch offender in awfully solemn rebuke. He then
took it gravely and put it in his pocket, and left the barkeeper with a
shaking ague upon him. From this moment he became Ned's most obsequious
and willing slave.
Supper was announced; Mrs. Blank, the landlady, took the head of
the table, and Ned seated himself next to her. Her looks denoted some
alarm at finding him so near to her, and plainly showed that he had
been fully described to her by her husband or some one else.
"Will you take tea or coffee, sir?" said she.
"Why, madam," said Ned, in a tone as courteous as Chesterfield
himself could have used, "I am really ashamed to acknowledge and to
expose my very singular appetite; but habitual indulgence of it has
made it necessary to my comfort, if not to my health, that I should
still favour it when I can. If you will pardon me, I will take both at
the same time."
This respectful reply (which, by-the-way, she alone was permitted
to hear) had its natural effect. It won for him her unqualified
indulgence, raised doubts whether he could be the suspicious character
which had been described to her, and begat in her a desire to cultivate
a farther acquaintance with him. She handed to him the two cups, and
accompanied them with some remarks, drawn from her own observation in
the line of her business, calculated to reconcile him to his whimsical
appetite; but she could extract from Ned nothing but monosyllables, and
sometimes not even that much. Consequently, the good lady began very
soon to relapse into her former feelings.
Ned placed a cup on either side of him, and commenced stirring both
at the same time very deliberately. This done, he sipped a little tea,
and asked Mrs. B. for a drop more milk in it. Then he tasted his
coffee, and desired a little more sugar in it. Then he tasted his tea
again, and requested a small lump more sugar in it. Lastly, he tasted
his coffee, and desired a few drops more milk in that. It was easy to
discover, that, before he got suited, the landlady had solemnly
resolved never to offer any more encouragements to such an appetite.
She waxed exceedingly petulant, and, having nothing else to scold, she
scolded the servants, of course.
Waffles were handed to Ned, and he took one: battercakes were
handed, and he took one; and so on of muffins, rolls, and corn bread.
Having laid in these provisions, he turned into his plate, upon his
waffle and batter cake, some of the crumbs of the several kinds of
bread which he had taken, in different proportions, and commenced
mashing all together with his knife. During this operation the landlady
frowned and pouted, the servants giggled, and the boarders were
Having reduced his mess to the consistency of a hard poultice, he
packed it all up to one side of his plate in the form of a terrapin,
and smoothed it all over nicely with his knife. Nearly opposite to Ned,
but a little below him, sat a waspish little gentleman, who had been
watching him with increasing torments from the first to the last
movement of Ned's knife. His tortures were visible to blinder eyes than
Ned's, and, doubtless, had been seen by him in their earliest
paroxysms. This gentleman occupied a seat nearest to a dish of steak,
and was in the act of muttering something about "brutes" to his next
neighbour, when Ned beckoned a servant to him, and requested him "to
ask that gentleman for a small bit of steak." The servant obeyed and,
planting Ned's plate directly between the gentleman's and the steak
dish, delivered his message. The testy gentleman turned his head, and
the first thing he saw was Ned's party-coloured terrapin right under
his nose. He started as if he had been struck by a snapping-turtle;
reddened to scarlet; looked at Ned (who appeared as innocent as a
lamb); looked at the servant (who appeared as innocent as Ned); and
then fell to work on the steak as if he were amputating all Ned's
limbs at once.
Ned now commenced his repast. He ate his meat and
breads in the usual way, but he drank his liquids in all ways. First a sip of
tea, then of coffee; then two of the first and one of the last; then
three of the last and one of the first, and so on.
His steak was soon consumed, and his plate was a second time
returned to the mettlesome gentleman "for another very small
bit of steak." The plate paid its second visit precisely as it had its
first; and, as soon as the fiery gentleman saw the half-demolished
terrapin again under his nose, he seized a fork, drove it into the
largest slice of steak in the dish, dashed it into Ned's plate, rose
from the table, and left the room, cursing Ned from the very inmost
chamber of his soul. Every person at the table, except Ned, laughed
outright at the little man's fury; but Ned did not even smile; nay, he
looked for all the world as if he thought the laugh was at him.
The boarders one after another retired, until Ned and the landlady
were left alone at the table.
"Will you have another cup of tea and coffee, sir?" said she, by
the way of convincing him that he ought to retire, seeing that he had
finished his supper.
"No, I thank you, madam," returned Ned.
"Will you have a glass of milk, and a cup of tea or coffee, or all
"No, ma'am," said Ned. "I am not blind, madam," continued he, "to
the effects which my unfortunate eccentricities have produced upon
yourself and your company; nor have I witnessed them without those
feelings which they are well calculated to inspire in a man of ordinary
sensibilities. I am aware, too, that I am prolonging and aggravating
your uneasiness, by detaining you beyond the hour which demands your
presence at the table; but I could not permit you to retire without
again bespeaking your indulgence of the strange, unnatural appetite
which has just caused you so much astonishment and mortification. The
story of its beginning might be interesting, and certainly would be
instructing to you if you are a mother: but I am indisposed at this
time to obtrude it upon your patience, and I presume you are still less
disposed to hear it. My principal object, however, in claiming your
attention for a moment at this time, is to assure you that, out of
respect to your feelings, I will surrender the enjoyment of my meals
for the few days that I have to remain in Savannah, and conform to the
customs of your table. The sudden change of my habits will expose me to
some inconvenience, and may, perhaps, affect my health; but I will
willingly incur these hazards rather than renew your mortification, or
impose upon your family the trouble of giving me my meals at my room."
The good lady, whose bitter feelings had given place to the kinder
emotion of pity and benevolence before Ned had half concluded his
apology (for it was delivered in a tone of the most melting eloquence),
caught at this last hint, and insisted upon sending his meals to his
room. Ned reluctantly consented, after extorting a pledge from her that she
would assume the responsibilities of the trouble that he was
about to give the family.
"As to your
boarders , madam," said Ned, in conclusion, "I
have no apology to make to them. I grant them the privilege of eating
what they please and as they please, and, so far as they are concerned,
I shall exercise the same privileges, reckless of their feelings or
opinions; and I shall take it as a singular favour if you will say
nothing to them or to any one else which may lead them to the discovery
that I am acquainted with my own peculiarities."
The good lady promised obedience to his wishes, and Ned, requesting
to be conducted to his room, retired.
A group of gentlemen at the fireplace had sent many significant
"hems" and smiles to Mrs. Blank during her tête-á-tête
with Ned; and as she approached them, on her way out of the room, they
began to taunt her playfully upon the impression which she seemed to
have made upon the remarkable stranger.
"Really," said one, "I thought the
was on the
"And, in truth, so it was," said Mrs. B. At this moment her
husband stepped in.
"I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Blank," said one of the company,
"you'd better keep a sharp look out on that stranger; our landlady is
wonderfully taken with him."
"I'll be bound," said Mr. B., "for my wife; the less like anybody
else in the world he is, the better will she like him."
"Well, I assure you," said Mrs. B., "I never had my feelings so
deeply interested in a stranger in my life. I'd give the world to know
"Why, then," rejoined the landlord, "I suppose he has been quizzing
us all this time."
"No," said she, "he is incapable of quizzing. All that you have
seen of him is unaffected, and perfectly natural to him."
"Then, really," continued the husband, "he is a very interesting
object, and I congratulate you upon getting so early into his
confidence; but, as I am not quite as much captivated with his
unaffected graces as you seem to be, I shall take the liberty, in
charity to the rest of my boarders, of requesting him, to-morrow, to
seek other lodgings."
"Oh," exclaimed Mrs. B., in the goodness of her heart, and with a
countenance evincive of the deepest feeling, "I would not have you do
such a thing for the world. He's only going to stay a few days."
"How do you know?"
"He told me so, and do let's bear with him that short time. He
sha'n't trouble you or the boarders any more."
"Why, Sarah," said the landlord, "I do believe you are out of your
"Gone case!" said one boarder. "Terrible affair!" said another.
"Bewitching little fellow," said a third. "Come, Mrs. Blank,
tell us all he said to you! We young men wish to know how to please the
ladies, so that we may get wives easily. I'm determined, the next
party I go to, to make a soup of everything on the waiters, and eat all
at once. I shall then become irresistible to the ladies."
"Get along with your nonsense," said Mrs. B., smiling as she left
At 8 o'clock I retired to my room, which happened (probably from
the circumstance of our reaching the hotel within a few minutes of each
other) to be adjoining Ned's. I had no sooner entered my room than Ned
followed me, where we interchanged the particulars which make up the
foregoing story. He now expended freely the laughter which he had been
collecting during the evening. He stated that his last interview with
Mrs. Blank was the result of necessity; that he found he had committed
himself in making up and disposing of his odd supper; for that he
should have to eat in the same way during his whole stay in Savannah,
unless he could manage to get his meals in private; and, though he was
willing to do penance for one meal in order to purchase the amusement
he had enjoyed, he had no idea of tormenting himself three or four days
for the same purpose. To tell you the honest truth, said he, nothing
but an appetite whetted by fasting and travelling could have borne me
through the table scene. As it was, my stomach several times threatened
to expose my tricks to the whole company, by downright open rebellion.
I feel that I must make it some atonement for the liberty I have taken
with it, and therefore propose that we go out and take an oyster supper
before we retire to rest. I assented: we set out, going separately
until we reached the street.
We were received by the oyster-vender in a small shop which fronted
upon the street, and were conducted through it to a back door, and
thence, by a flight of steps, to a convenient room on the second floor
of an adjoining building. We had been seated about three minutes, when
we heard footsteps on the stairs, and directly caught this sentence
from the ascending stranger: "Aha, Monsieur Middletong! you say you hab
de bes oyster in de cittee? Vel, me shall soon see."
The sentence was hardly uttered before the door opened, and in
stepped a gay, smirky little Frenchman. He made us a low bow, and, as
soon as he rose from his obeisance, Ned rushed to him in transports of
joy seized him by the hand, and, shaking it with friendship's warmest
grasp, exclaimed, "How do you do, my old friend? I had no idea of
meeting you here; how do you do, Mr. Squeezelfanter? how have you been
this long time?"
"Sair," said the Frenchman, "me tank you ver much to lub me so
hard; but you mistake de gentleman; my name is not de Squeezilfaunter."
"Come, come, John," continued Ned, "quit your old tricks before
strangers. Mr. Hall, let me introduce you to my particular friend, John
Squeezelfanter, from Paris."
"Perhaps, sir," said I, not knowing well what to say or how to act
in such an emergency, "perhaps you have mistaken the gentleman."
"Begar, sair," said monsieur, "he is mistake eberyting at once. My
name is not Zhaun; me play no treek; me is not de
gentlemong fren'; me did not come from Paree, but from
Bordeaux; and me did not suppose dare was a man in all France dat was
name de Squeezilfaunter."
"If I am mistaken," said Ned, "I humbly ask your pardon; but,
really, you look so much like my old friend Jack, and talk so
much like him, that I would have sworn you were he."
"Vel, sair," said monsieur, looking at Ned as though he might be an
acquaintance after all; "vel, sair, dis time you tell my name right; my
name is Jacques — Jacques Sancric."
"There," proceeded Ned, "I knew it was impossible I could be
mistaken; your whole family settled on Sandy Creek; I knew your
father and mother, your sister Patsy and Dilsy, your brother Ichabod,
your aunt Bridget, your — "
"Oh, mon Dieu, mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, no longer able
to contain his surprise; "dat is von 'Mericane familee. Dare vas not
one French familee hab all dat name since dis vorl' vas make."
"Now look at me, good Jack," said Ned, "and see if you don't
recollect your old friend Obadiah Snoddleburg, who used to play with
you, when a boy, in Sandy Creek."
"Vel, Monsieur Snotborg, me look at you ver' vell, and, begar, me
neber see you in de creek, nor out de creek. 'Tis ver' surprise you not
know one name from one creek."
"Oh, very well, sir, very well; I forgot where I was; I understand
you now, perfectly. You are not the first gentleman I have met with in
Savannah who knew me well in the country and forgot me in town. I ask
you pardon, sir, and hope you'll excuse me."
"Me is ver' will' to know you
now, sair; but, begar, me
will not tell you one lie, to know you twenty-five and tirty years
"It makes no difference, sir," said Ned, looking thoughtfully and
chagrined. "I beg leave, however, before we close our acquaintance, to
correct one mistake which I made. I said you were from Paris; I
believe, on reflection, I was wrong; I think your sister Dilsy told me
you were from Bordeaux."
"Foutre, de sist' Dils! Here, Monsieur Middletong! My oystar ready?"
"Vel, if my oystar ready, you give dem to my fren' Monsieur
Snotborg; and ask him to be so good to carry dem to my sist' Dils, and
my brodder Ichbod on Sand' Creek." So saying, he vanished like
The next morning, at breakfast, I occupied Ned's seat. Mrs. Blank
had no sooner taken her place, than she ordered a servant to bring her
a waiter, upon which she placed a cup of tea and another of coffee;
then ordering three plates, she placed them on it; sent one servant for
one kind of bread, and another for an other, and so on through all the
varieties that were on the table, from which she made selections for
plate No 1. In the same way did she collect meats for plate No. 2; No.
3 she left blank. She had nearly completed her operations, when her
husband came to know why every servant was engaged, and no gentleman
helped to anything, when the oddly furnished waiter met his eye, and
fully explained the wonder.
"In God's name, Sarah," said he, "who are you mixing up those
"For that strange gentleman we were speaking of last night," was
"Why doesn't he come to the table?"
"He was very anxious to come, but I would not let him."
would not let him! Why not?"
"Because I did not wish to see a man of his delicate sensibilities
ridiculed and insulted at my table."
"Delicate devilabilities! Then why didn't you send a
servant to collect his mixtures?"
"Because I preferred doing it myself to troubling the boarders. I
knew that, wherever his plates went, the gentlemen would be making
merry over them, and I couldn't bear to see it."
The landlord looked at her for a moment with commingled
astonishment, doubt, and alarm; and then, upon the breath of a deep
drawn sigh, proceeded:
"Well, d-n the man! He hasn't been in the house more than two
hours, except when he was asleep, and he has insulted one half my
boarders, made fools of the other half, turned the head of my
barkeeper, crazed all my servants, and run my wife right stark,
staring, raving mad; a man who is a perfect clown in his manners, and
who, I have no doubt, will, in the end, prove to be a horse thief."
Much occurred between the landlord and his lady in relation to Ned
which we must, of necessity, omit. Suffice it to say, that her
assiduities to Ned, her unexplained sympathies for him, her
often-repeated desires to become better acquainted with him, conspiring
with one or two short interviews which her husband saw between her and
Ned (and which consisted of nothing more than expressions of regret on
his part at the trouble he was giving the family, and assurance on hers
that it was no trouble at all), began to bring upon the landlord the
husband's worst calamity. This she soon observed; and, considering her
duty to her husband as of paramount obligation, she gave him an
explanation that was entirely satisfactory. She told him that Ned was a
man of refined feelings and highly cultivated mind, but that, in his
infancy, his mother had forced him to eat different kinds of diet
together, until she had produced in him a vitiated and unconquerable
appetite, which he was now constrained to indulge, as the drunkard does
his, or be miserable. As the good man was prepared to believe any story
of woman's folly, he was satisfied.
This being the Sabbath, at the usual hour Ned went to church, and
selected for his morning service one of those churches in which the
pews are free, and in which the hymn is given out, and sung by the
congregation, a half recitative.
Ned entered the church in as fast a walk as he could possibly
assume; proceeded about half down the aisle, and popped himself down in
his seat as quick as if he had been shot. The more thoughtless of the
congregation began to titter, and the graver peeped up slyly, but
solemnly at him.
The pastor rose, and, before giving out the hymn, observed that
singing was a part of the service in which he thought the whole
congregation ought to join. Thus saying, he gave out the first lines of
the hymn. As soon as the tune was raised, Ned struck in, with one of
the loudest, hoarsest, and most discordant voices that ever annoyed a
"I would observe," said the preacher, before giving out the next
two lines, "that there are some persons who have not the gift of
singing; such, of course, are not expected to sing." Ned took the hint
and sang no more; but his entrance into church and his entrance into
the hymn had already dispersed the solemnity of three fifths of the
As soon as the pastor commenced his sermon, Ned opened his eyes,
threw back his head, dropped his under jaw, and surrendered himself to
the most intense interest. The preacher was an indifferent one; and by
as much as he became dull and insipid, by so much did Ned become
absorbed in the discourse. And yet it was impossible for the nicest
observer to detect anything in his looks or manner short of the most
solemn devotion. The effect which his conduct had upon the
congregation, and their subsequent remarks, must be left to the
imagination of the reader. I give but one remark: "Bless that good man
who came in the church so quick," said a venerable matron as she left
the church door, "how he was affected by the sarment."
Ned went to church no more on that day. About four o'clock in the
afternoon, while he was standing at the tavern door, a funeral
procession passed by, at the foot of which, and singly, walked one of
the smallest men I ever saw. As soon as he came opposite the door, Nod
stepped out and joined him with great solemnity. The contrast between
the two was ludicrously striking, and the little man's looks and
uneasiness plainly showed that he felt it. However, he soon became
reconciled to it. They proceeded but a little way before Ned inquired
of his companion who was dead.
"Mr. Noah Bills," said the little man.
"Nan?" said Ned, raising his hand to his ear in token of deafness,
and bending his head to the speaker.
"Mr. Noah Bills," repeated the little man, loud enough to disturb
the two couple immediately before him.
"Mrs. Noel's Bill!" said Ned, with mortification and astonishment.
"Do the white persons pay such respect to niggers in Savannah? I sha'n't do it." So saying, he left the procession.
The little man was at first considerably nettled; but, upon being
left to his own reflections, he got into an uncontrollable fit of
laughter, as did the couple immediately in advance of him, who
overheard Ned's remark. The procession now exhibited a most mortifying
spectacle: the head of it in mourning and in tears, and the foot of it
convulsed with laughter.
On Monday Ned employed himself in disposing of the business which
brought him to Savannah, and I saw but little of him; but I could not
step into the street without hearing of him. All talked about him, and
hardly any two agreed about his character.
On Tuesday he visited the market, and set it all in astonishment or
laughter. He wanted to buy something of everybody, and some of
everything; but could not agree upon the terms of a trade, because he
always wanted his articles in such portions and numbers as no one would
sell, or upon conditions to which no one would submit. To give a single
example: he beset an old negro woman to sell him the half of a living
"Do, my good mauma, sell it to me," said he; "my wife is very sick,
and is longing for chicken pie, and this is all the money I have"
(holding out twelve and a half cents in silver), "and it's just what a
half chicken comes to at your own price."
"Ki, masssa! how gwine cut live chicken in two?"
"I don't want you to cut it in two alive; kill it, clean it, and
then divide it."
"Name o' God! what sort o' chance got to clean chicken in de
market-house! Whay de water for scall um and wash um?"
"Don't scald it at all; just pick it, so."
"Ech-ech! Fedder fly all ober de buckera-man meat, he come bang me
fo' true. No, massa, I mighty sorry for your wife, but I no cutty
In the afternoon Ned entered the dining room of the tavern, and who
should he find there but Monsieur Sancric, of oyster-house memory. He
and the tavernkeeper were alone. With the first glimpse of Ned, "La
diable," exclaimed the Frenchman, "here my broder Ichbod 'gain!" and
away he went.
"Mr. Sancric!" said the landlord, calling to him as if to tell him
something just thought of, and following him out, "what did you say
that man's name is?"
"He name Monsieur Snotborg."
"Why, that can't be his name, for it begins with a B. or an R.
Where is he from?"
"From Sand Creek."
"Where did you know him?"
"Begar, me neber did know him." Here Ned sauntered in sight of the
Frenchman, and he vanished.
"Well," said the landlord, as he returned, "it does seem to me that
everybody who has anything to do with that man runs crazy forthwith."
When he entered the dining-room he found Ned deeply engaged reading
a child's primer, with which he seemed wonderfully delighted. The
landlord sat for a moment, smiled, and then hastily left the room. As
soon as he disappeared, Ned laid down his book, and took his station
behind some cloaks in the bar, which at the moment was deserted. He had
just reached his place when the landlord returned with his lady.
"Oh," said the first, "he's gone! I brought you in to show you what
kind of books your man of 'refined feelings and highly cultivated mind'
delights in. But he has left his book, and here it is, opened at the
place where he left off; and do let's see what's in it?"
They examined, and found that he had been reading the interesting
poem of "Little Jack Horner."
"Now," continued the landlord, "if you'll believe me, he was just
as much delighted with that story, as you or I would be with the best
written number of the Spectator."
"Well, it's very strange," said Mrs. Blank; "I reckon he must be
flighty, for no man could have made a more gentlemanly apology
than he did to me for his peculiarities, and no one could have urged
it more feelingly."
"One thing is very certain," said the husband; "if he be not
flighty himself, he has a wonderful knack of making everybody else so.
Sancric ran away from him just now as if he had seen the devil; called
him by one name when he left the room, by another at the door, told me
where he came from, and finally swore he did not know him at all."
Ned having slipped softly from the bar into the entry during this
interview, entered the dining-room as if from the street.
"I am happy," said he, smiling, "to meet you together and alone,
upon the eve of my departure from Savannah, that I may explain to you
my singular conduct, and ask your forgiveness of it. I will do so if
you will not expose my true character until I shall have left the city."
This they promised. "My name, then," continued he, "is Edward
Brace, of Richmond county. Humour has been my besetting sin from my
youth up. It has sunk me far below the station to which my native gifts
entitled me. It has robbed me of the respect of all my acquaintances;
and, what is much more to be regretted, the esteem of some of my best
and most indulgent friends. All this I have long known; and I have a
thousand times deplored, and as often resolved to conquer, my
self-destroying propensity. But so deeply is it wrought into my very
nature, so completely and indissolubly interwoven is it with every
fibre and filament of my being, that I have found it impossible for me
to subdue it. Being on my first visit to Savannah, unknowing and
unknown, I could not forego the opportunity which it furnished of
gratifying my ungovernable proclivity. All the extravagances which you
have seen have been in subservience to it."
He then explained the cause of his troubling the kind lady before
him to give him his meals at his room, and the strange conduct of
Monsieur Sancric; at which they both laughed heartily. He referred them
to me for confirmation of what he had told them. Having gone thus far,
continued he, "I must sustain my character until to-morrow, when I
shall leave Savannah."
Having now two more to enjoy his humour with him and myself, he let
himself loose that night among the boarders with all his strength, and
never did I see two mortals laugh as did Mr. and Mrs. Blank.
Far as I have extended this sketch, I cannot close without
exhibiting Ned in one new scene, in which accident placed him before he
About 2 o'clock on the morning of our departure, the town was
alarmed by the cry of fire. Ned got up before me, and taking one of my
boots from the door, and putting one of his in its place, he marched
down to the front door with odd boots. On coming out and finding what
had been done, I knew that Ned could not have left the house, for it
was impossible for him to wear my boot. I was about descending the
stairs, when he called to me from the front door, and said the servant
had mixed our boots, and that he had brought down one of mine. When I
reached the front door, I found Ned and Mr. and Mrs. Blank there; all
the inmates of the house having left it, who designed to leave it, but
Ned and myself.
"Don't go and leave me, Hall," said he, holding my boot in his
hand, and having his own on his leg.
"How can I leave you," said I, "unless you'll give me my boot?"
This he did not seem to hear.
"Do run, gentlemen," said Mrs. Blank, greatly alarmed; "Mr. Brace,
you've got Mr. Hall's boot; give it to him."
"In a minute, madam," said he, seeming to be beside himself. A
second after, however, all was explained to me. He designed to have my
company to the fire, and his own fun before he went.
A man came posting along in great alarm, and crying "fire" loudly.
"Mister, mister," said Ned, jumping out of the house.
"Sir," said the man, stopping and puffing awfully.
"Have you seen Mr. Peleg Q. C. Stone along where you've been?"
inquired Ned, with anxious solicitude.
"D--n Mr. Peleg Q. C. Stone," said the stranger. "What chance have
I of seeing anybody, hopping up at two o'clock in the morning, and the
town a fire!" and on he went.
Thus did he amuse himself, with various questions and remarks to
four or five passengers, until even Mrs. Blank forgot for a while that
the town was in flames. The last object of his sport was a woman, who
came along exclaiming, "Oh, it's Mr. Dalby's house; I'm sure it is Mr.
Dalby's house!" Two gentlemen assured her that the fire was far beyond
Mr. Dalby's house; but still she went on with her exclamations. When
she had passed the door about ten steps, Ned permitted me to cover my
frozen foot with my boot, and we moved on towards the fire. We soon
overtook the woman just mentioned, who had become somewhat pacified. As
Ned came alongside of her, without seeming to notice her, he observed,
"Poor Dalby, I see his house is gone."
"I said so," she screamed out; "I knew it!"and on she went,
screaming ten times louder than before.
As soon as we reached the fire, a gentleman in military dress rode
up and ordered Ned into the line to hand buckets. Ned stepped in, and
the first bucket that was handed to him, he raised it very deliberately
to his mouth and began to drink. In a few seconds, all on Ned's right
were overburdened with buckets, and calling loudly for relief, while
those on his left were unemployed. Terrible was the cursing and
clamour, and twenty voices at once ordered Ned out of the line. Ned
stepped out, and along came the man on horseback, and ordered him in
"Captain," said Ned, "I am so thirsty that I can do nothing until I
get some water, and they will not let me drink in the line."
"Well," said the captain, "step in, and I'll see that you get a
Ned stepped in again, and receiving the first bucket, began to
raise it to his lips very slowly, when some one hallooed to him to pass
on the bucket, and he brought it down again and handed it on.
"Why didn't you drink?" said the captain.
"Why, don't you see they won't let me?" said Ned.
"Don't mind what they say; drink, and then go on with your work."
Ned took the next bucket, and commenced raising it as before, when
some one again ordered him to pass on the bucket.
"There," said Ned, turning to the captain, with the bucket half
raised, "you hear that?"
"Why, blast your eyes," said the captain, "what do you stop for?
Drink on and have done with it."
Ned raised the bucket to his lips and drank, or pretended to drink,
until a horse might have been satisfied.
"Ain't you done?" said the captain, general mutiny and complaint
beginning to prevail in the line.
"Why, ha'n't you drank enough?" said the captain, becoming
"Most," said Ned, letting out a long breath, and still holding the
bucket near his lips.
"Zounds and blood!" cried the captain, "clear yourself; you'll
drink an engineful of water."
Ned left the ranks and went to his lodgings; and the rising sun
found us on our way homeward.
IN the younger days of the Republic there lived in the county of --
two men, who were admitted on all hands to be the very best men in the county; which, in the Georgia vocabulary, means they could flog
any other two men in the county. Each, through many a hard-fought
battle, had acquired the mastery of his own battalion; but they lived
on opposite sides of the Courthouse, and in different battalions:
consequently, they were but seldom thrown together. When they met,
however, they were always very friendly; indeed, at their first
interview, they seemed to conceive a wonderful attachment to each
other, which rather increased than diminished as they became better
acquainted; so that, but for the circumstance which I am about to
mention, the question, which had been a thousand times asked, "Which is
the best man, Billy Stallions (Stallings) or Bob Durham?" would
probably never have been answered.
Billy ruled the upper battalion, and Bob the lower. The former
measured six feet and an inch in his stockings, and, without a single
pound of cumbrous flesh about him, weighed a hundred and eighty. The
latter was an inch shorter than his rival, and ten pounds lighter; but
he was much the most active of the two. In running and jumping he had
but few equals in the county; and in wrestling, not one. In other
respects they were nearly equal. Both were admirable specimens of human
nature in its finest form. Billy's victories had generally been
achieved by the tremendous power of his blows, one of which had often
proved decisive of his battles; Bob's, by his adroitness in bringing
his adversary to the ground. This advantage he had never failed to gain
at the onset, and, when gained, he never failed to improve it to the
defeat of his adversary. These points of difference have involved the
reader in a doubt as to the probable issue of a contest between them.
It was not so, however, with the two battalions. Neither had the least
difficulty in determining the point by the most natural and
irresistible deductions á priori; and though, by the
same course of reasoning, they arrived at directly opposite
conclusions, neither felt its confidence in the least shaken by this
circumstance. The upper battalion swore "that Billy only wanted one
lick at him to knock his heart, liver, and lights out of him; and if he
got two at him, he'd knock him into a cocked hat." The lower battalion
retorted, "that he wouldn't have time to double his fist before Bob
would put his head where his feet ought to be; and that, by the time he
hit the ground, the meat would fly off his face so quick, that people
would think it was shook off by the fall." These disputes often led to
the argumentum ad hominem, but with such equality of
success on both sides as to leave the main question just where they
found it. They usually ended, however, in the common way, with a bet;
and many a quart of old Jamaica (whiskey had not then supplanted rum)
were staked upon the issue. Still, greatly to the annoyance of the
curious, Billy and Bob continued to be good friends.
Now there happened to reside in the county just alluded to a little
fellow by the name of Ransy Sniffle: a sprout of Richmond, who, in his
earlier days, had fed copiously upon red clay and blackberries. This
diet had given to Ransy a complexion that a corpse would have disdained
to own, and an abdominal rotundity that was quite unprepossessing. Long
spells of the fever and ague, too, in Ransy's youth, had conspired with
clay and blackberries to throw him quite out of the order of nature.
His shoulders were fleshless and elevated; his head large and flat; his
neck slim and translucent; and his arms, hands, fingers, and feet were
lengthened out of all proportion to the rest of his frame. His joints
were large and his limbs small; and as for flesh, he could not, with
propriety, be said to have any. Those parts which nature usually
supplies with the most of this article — the calves of the legs, for
example — presented in him the appearance of so many well-drawn
blisters. His height was just five feet nothing; and his average weight
in blackberry season, ninety-five. I have been thus particular in
describing him, for the purpose of showing what a great matter a little
fire sometimes kindleth. There was nothing on this earth which
delighted Ransy so much as a fight. He never seemed fairly alive except
when he was witnessing, fomenting, or talking about a fight. Then,
indeed, his deep-sunken gray eye assumed something of a living fire,
and his tongue acquired a volubility that bordered upon eloquence.
Ransy had been kept for more than a year in the most torturing suspense
as to the comparative manhood of Billy Stallings and Bob Durham. He had
resorted to all his usual expedients to bring them in collision, and
had entirely failed. He had faithfully reported to Bob all that had
been said by the people in the upper battalion "agin him," and "he was
sure Billy Stallings started it. He heard Billy say himself to Jim
Brown, that he could whip him, or any other man in his battalion
;" and this he told to Bob; adding, "Dod darn his soul, if he was a
little bigger, if he'd let any man put upon his battalion in
such a way." Bob replied, "If he (Stallings) thought so, he'd better
come and try it." This Ransy carried to Billy, and delivered it with a
spirit becoming his own dignity and the character of his battalion, and
with a colouring well calculated to give it effect. These, and many
other schemes which Ransy laid for the gratification of his curiosity,
entirely failed of their object. Billy and Bob continued friends, and
Ransy had began to lapse into the most tantalizing and hopeless
despair, when a circumstance occurred which led to a settlement of the
long disputed question.
It is said that a hundred gamecocks will live in perfect harmony
together if you do not put a hen with them; and so it would have been
with Billy and Bob had there been no women in the world. But there
were women in the world, and from them each of our heroes had taken to
himself a wife. The good ladies were no strangers to the prowess of
their husbands, and, strange as it may seem, they presumed a little
The two battalions had met at the Courthouse upon a regimental
parade. The two champions were there, and their wives had accompanied
them. Neither knew the other's lady, nor were the ladies known to each
other. The exercises of the day were just over, when Mrs. Stallings and
Mrs. Durham stepped simultaneously into the store of Zephaniah Atwater,
from "down east."
"Have you any Turkey-red?" said Mrs. S.
"Have you any curtain calico?" said Mrs. D. at the same moment.
"Yes, ladies," said Mr. Atwater, "I have both."
"Then help me first," said Mrs. D., "for I'm in a hurry."
"I'm in as great a hurry as she is," said Mrs. S., "and I'll thank
you to help me first."
"And, pray, who are you, madam?" continued the other.
"Your betters, madam," was the reply.
At this moment Billy Stallings stepped in. "Come," said he, "Nancy,
let's be going; it's getting late."
"I'd a been gone half an hour ago," she replied, "if it hadn't been
for that impudent huzzy."
"Who do you call an impudent huzzy, you nasty, good-for-nothing,
snaggle-toothed gaub of fat, you?" returned Mrs. D.
"Look here, woman," said Billy, "have you got a husband here? If
you have, I'll lick him till he learns to teach you better
manners, you sassy heifer you." At this moment something was
seen to rush out of the store as if ten thousand hornets were stinging
it; crying, "Take care — let me go — don't hold me — where's Bob
Durham?" It was Ransy Sniffle, who had been listening in breathless
delight to all that had passed.
"Yonder's Bob, setting on the Courthouse steps," cried one. "What's
"Don't talk to me!" said Ransy. "Bob Durham, you'd better go long
yonder, and take care of your wife. They're playing h-l with her there,
in Zeph Atwater's store. Dod eternally darn my soul, if any man was to
talk to my wife as Bill Stallions is talking to yours, if I wouldn't
drive blue blazes through him in less than no time."
Bob sprang to the store in a minute, followed by a hundred friends;
for the bully of a county never wants friends.
"Bill Stallions," said Bob, as he entered, "what have you been
saying to my wife?"
"Is that your wife?" inquired Billy, obviously much surprised and a
"Yes, she is, and no man shall abuse her, I don't care who he is."
"Well," rejoined Billy, "it an't worth while to go over it; I've
said enough for a fight: and, if you'll step out, we'll settle it!"
"Billy," said Bob, "are you for a fair fight?"
"I am," said Billy. "I've heard much of your manhood, and I believe
I'm a better man than you are. If you will go into a ring with me, we
can soon settle the dispute."
"Choose your friends," said Bob; "make your ring, and I'll be in
with mine as soon as you will."
They both stepped out, and began to strip very deliberately, each
battalion gathering round its champion, except Ransy, who kept himself
busy in a most honest endeavour to hear and see all that transpired in
both groups at the same time. He ran from one to the other in quick
succession; peeped here and listened there; talked to this one, then to
that one, and then to himself; squatted under one's legs and another's
arms and, in the short interval between stripping and stepping into the
ring, managed to get himself trod on by half of both battalions. But
Ransy was not the only one interested upon this occasion; the most
intense interest prevailed everywhere. Many were the conjectures,
doubts, oaths, and imprecations uttered while the parties were
preparing for the combat. All the knowing ones were consulted as to the
issue, and they all agreed, to a man, in one of two opinions: either
that Bob would flog Billy, or Billy would flog Bob. We must be
permitted, however, to dwell for a moment upon the opinion of Squire
Thomas Loggins; a man who, it was said, had never failed to predict the
issue of a fight in all his life. Indeed, so unerring had he always
proved in this regard, that it would have been counted the most
obstinate infidelity to doubt for a moment after he had delivered
himself. Squire Loggins was a man who said but little, but that little
was always delivered with the most imposing solemnity of look and
cadence. He always wore the aspect of profound thought, and you could
not look at him without coming to the conclusion that he was
elaborating truth from its most intricate combinations.
"Uncle Tommy," said Sam Reynolds, "you can tell us all about it if
you will; how will the fight go?"
The question immediately drew an anxious group around the squire.
He raised his teeth slowly from the head of his walking cane, on which
they had been resting; pressed his lips closely and thoughtfully
together; threw down his eyebrows, dropped his chin, raised his eyes to
an angle of twenty-three degrees, paused about half a minute, and
replied, "Sammy, watch Robert Durham close in the beginning of the
fight; take care of William Stallions in the middle of it; and see who
has the wind at the end." As he uttered the last member of the
sentence, he looked slyly at Bob's friends, and winked very
significantly; whereupon they rushed, with one accord, to tell Bob what
Uncle Tommy had said. As they retired, the squire turned to Billy's
friends, and said, with a smile, "Them boys think I mean that Bob will
Here the other party kindled into joy, and hastened to inform Billy
how Bob's friends had deceived themselves as to Uncle Tommy's opinion.
In the mean time the principals and seconds were busily employed in
preparing themselves for the combat. The plan of attack and defence,
the manner of improving the various turns of the conflict, "the best
mode of saving wind," &c., &c., were all discussed and settled. At
length Billy announced himself ready, and his crowd were seen moving to
the centre of the Courthouse Square; he and his five seconds in the
rear. At the same time, Bob's party moved to the same point, and in the
same order. The ring was now formed, and for a moment the silence of
death reigned through both battalions. It was soon interrupted,
however, by the cry of "Clear the way!" from Billy's seconds; when the
ring opened in the centre of the upper battalion (for the order of
march had arranged the centre of the two battalions on opposite sides
of the circle), and Billy stepped into the ring from the east, followed
by his friends. He was stripped to the trousers, and exhibited an arm,
breast, and shoulders of the most tremendous portent. His step was
firm, daring, and martial; and as he bore his fine form a little in
advance of his friends, an involuntary burst of triumph broke from his
side of the ring; and, at the same moment, an uncontrollable thrill of
awe ran along the whole curve of the lower battalion.
"Look at him!" was heard from his friends; "just look at him."
"Ben, how much you ask to stand before that man two seconds!"
"Pshaw, don't talk about it! Just thinkin' about it 's broke three
o' my ribs a'ready!"
"What's Bob Durham going to do when Billy let's that arm loose upon
him?" "God bless your soul, he'll think thunder and lightning a mint
julip to it."
"Oh, look here, men, go take Bill Stallions out o' that ring, and
bring in Phil Johnson's stud horse, so that Durham may have some
chance! I don't want to see the man killed right away."
These and many other like expressions, interspersed thickly with
oaths of the most modern coinage, were coming from all points of the
upper battalion, while Bob was adjusting girth of his pantaloons, which
walking had discovered not to be exactly right. It was just fixed to
his mind, his foes becoming a little noisy, and his friends a little
uneasy at his delay, when Billy called out, with a smile of some
meaning, "Where's the bully of the lower battalion? I'm getting tired
"Here he is," said Bob, lighting, as it seemed, from the clouds
into the ring, for he had actually bounded clear of the head of Ransy
Sniffle into the circle. His descent was quite as imposing as Billy's
entry, and excited the same feelings, but in opposite bosoms.
Voices of exultation now rose on his side.
"Where did he come from?"
"Why," said one of his seconds (all having just entered), "we were
girting him up, about a hundred yards out yonder, when he heard Billy
ask for the bully, and he fetched a leap over the Courthouse and went
out of sight; but I told them to come on, they'd find him here."
Here the lower battalion burst into a peal of laughter, mingled
with a look of admiration, which seemed to denote their entire belief
of what they had heard.
"Boys, widen the ring, so as to give him room to jump."
"Oh, my little flying wild-cat, hold him if you can! and, when you
get him fast, hold lightning next."
"Ned, what do you think he's made of?"
"Steel springs and chicken-hawk, God bless you!"
"Gentlemen," said one of Bob's seconds, "I understand it is to be a
fair fight; catch as catch can, rough and tumble: no man touch till one
or the other halloos."
"That's the rule," was the reply from the other side.
"Are you ready?"
"We are ready."
"Then blaze away, my game cocks!"
At the word, Bob dashed at his antagonist at full speed; and Bill
squared himself to receive him with one of his most fatal blows. Making
his calculation, from Bob's velocity, of the time when he would come
within striking distance, he let drive with tremendous force. But Bob's
onset was obviously planned to avoid this blow; for, contrary to all
expectations, he stopped short just out of arm's reach, and, before
Billy could recover his balance, Bob had him "all under-hold." The next
second, sure enough, "found Billy's head where his feet ought to be."
How it was done no one could tell; but, as if by supernatural power,
both Billy's feet were thrown full half his own height in the air, and
he came down with a force that seemed to shake the earth. As he struck
the ground, commingled shouts, screams, and yells burst from the lower
battalion, loud enough to be heard for miles. "Hurra, my little
hornet!" "Save him!" "Feed him!" "Give him the Durham physic till his
stomach turns!" Billy was no sooner down than Bob was on him, and
lending him awful blows about the face and breast. Billy made two
efforts to rise by main strength, but failed. "Lord bless you, man,
don't try to get up! Lay still and take it! you bleege to have it!"
Billy now turned his face suddenly to the ground, and rose upon his
hands and knees. Bob jerked up both his hands and threw him on his
face. He again recovered his late position, of which Bob endeavoured to
deprive him as before; but, missing one arm, he failed, and Billy rose.
But he had scarcely resumed his feet before they flew up as before, and
he came again to the ground. "No fight, gentlemen!" cried Bob's
friends; "the man can't stand up! Bouncing feet are bad things to fight
in." His fall, however, was this time comparatively light; for, having
thrown his right arm round Bob's neck, he carried his head down with
him. This grasp, which was obstinately maintained, prevented Bob from
getting on him, and they lay head to head, seeming, for a time, to do
nothing. Presently they rose, as if by mutual consent; and, as they
rose, a shout burst from both battalions. "Oh, my lark!" cried the
east, "has he foxed you? Do you begin to feel him! He's only beginning
to fight; he ain't got warm yet."
"Look yonder!" cried the west; "didn't I tell you so! He hit the
ground so hard it jarred his nose off. Now ain't he a pretty man as he
stands? He shall have my sister Sal just for his pretty looks. I want
to get in the breed of them sort o' men, to drive ugly out of my
I looked, and saw that Bob had entirely lost his left ear, and a
large piece from his left cheek. His right eye was a little
discoloured, and the blood flowed profusely from his wounds.
Bill presented a hideous spectacle. About a third of his nose, at
the lower extremity, was bit off, and his face so swelled and bruised
that it was difficult to discover in it anything of the human visage,
much more the fine features which he carried into the ring.
They were up only long enough for me to make the foregoing
discoveries, when down they went again, precisely as before. They no
sooner touched the ground than Bill relinquished his hold upon Bob's
neck. In this he seemed to all to have forfeited the only advantage
which put him upon an equality with his adversary. But the movement was
soon explained. Bill wanted this arm for other purposes than defence;
and he had made arrangements whereby he knew that he could make it
answer these purposes; for, when they rose again, he had the middle
finger of Bob's left hand in his mouth. He was now secure from Bob's
annoying trips; and he began to lend his adversary tremendous blows,
every one of which was hailed by a shout from his friends. "Bullets!" "
Hoss-kicking!" "Thunder!" "That'll do for his face; now feel his
short ribs, Billy!"
I now considered the contest settled. I deemed it impossible for
any human being to withstand for five seconds the loss of blood which
issued from Bob's ear cheek, nose, and finger, accompanied with such
blows as he was receiving. Still he maintained the conflict, and gave
blow for blow with considerable effect. But the blows of each became
slower and weaker after the first three or four; and it became obvious
that Bill wanted the room which Bob's finger occupied for breathing. He
would therefore, probably, in a short time, have let it go, had not Bob
anticipated his politeness by jerking away his hand, and making him a
present of the finger. He now seized Bill again, and brought him to his
knees, but he recovered. He again brought him to his knees, and he
again recovered. A third effort, however, brought him down, and Bob on
top of him. These efforts seemed to exhaust the little remaining
strength of both; and they lay, Bill undermost and Bob across his
breast, motionless, and panting for breath. After a short pause, Bob
gathered his hand full of dirt and sand, and was in the act of grinding
it in his adversary's eyes, when Bill cried "ENOUGH!" Language cannot
describe the scene that followed; the shouts, oaths, frantic gestures,
taunts, replies, and little fights, and therefore I shall not attempt
it. The champions were borne off by their seconds and washed; when many
a bleeding wound and ugly bruise was discovered on each which no eye
had seen before.
Many had gathered round Bob, and were in various ways
congratulating and applauding him, when a voice from the centre of the
circle cried out, "Boys, hush and listen to me!" It proceeded from
Squire Loggins, who had made his way to Bob's side, and had gathered
his face up into one of its most flattering and intelligible
expressions. All were obedient to the squire's command. "Gentlemen,"
continued he, with a most knowing smile, "is — Sammy — Reynold —
in — this — company — of — gentlemen?"
"Yes," said Sam, "here I am."
"Sammy," said the squire, winking to the company, and drawing the
head of his cane to his mouth with an arch smile as he closed, "I —
wish — you — to tell — cousin — Bobby — and — these —
gentlemen here present — what — your — Uncle — Tommy — said
— before — the — fight — began?"
"Oh! get away, Uncle Tom," said Sam, smiling (the squire winked),
"you don't know nothing about fighting." (The squire winked
again.) "All you know about it is how it'll begin, how it'll go on, how
it'll end; that's all. Cousin Bob, when you going to fight again, just
go to the old man, and let him tell you all about it. If he can't,
don't ask nobody else nothing about it, I tell you."
The squire's foresight was complimented in many ways by the
by-standers; and he retired, advising "the boys to be at peace, as
fighting was a bad business."
Durham and Stallings kept their beds for several weeks, and did not
meet again for two months. When they met, Billy stepped up to Bob and
offered his hand saying, "Bobby, you've licked me a fair
fight; but you wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been in the wrong. I
oughn't to have treated your wife as I did; and I felt so through the
whole fight; and it sort o' cowed me."
"Well, Billy," said Bob, "let's be friends. Once in the fight, when
you had my finger in your mouth, and was pealing me in the face and
breast, I was going to halloo; but I thought of Betsy, and knew the
house would be too hot for me if I got whipped when fighting for her,
after always whipping when I fought for myself."
"Now that's what I always love to see," said a by-stander. "It's
true I brought about the fight, but I wouldn't have done it if it
hadn't o' been on account of Miss (Mrs.) Durham. But dod
etarnally darn my soul, if I ever could stand by and see any woman put
upon, much less Miss Durham. If Bobby hadn't been there, I'd
o' took it up myself, be darned if I wouldn't, even if I'd o' got
whipped for it. But we're all friends now." The reader need hardly be
told that this was Ransy Sniffle.
Thanks to the Christian religion, to schools, colleges, and
benevolent associations, such scenes of barbarism and cruelty as that
which I have been just describing are now of rare occurrence, though
they may still be occasionally met with in some of the new counties.
Wherever they prevail, they are a disgrace to that community. The
peace-officers who countenance them deserve a place in the Penitentiary.
IT is not to avoid the malediction of Shakspeare upon such "as have
not music in themselves, and are not charmed with the concord of sweet
sounds," that I profess to be fond of music; but because I am, in
truth, extravagantly fond of it. But I am not fond of French music; and
as for the Italian, I think that any one who will dare to inflict it
upon an American ear, ought to be sent to the Penitentiary without a
trial. It is true that some of the simple, national French airs are
very fine; but there is not one in a thousand Italian tunes, simple or
compound, which is not manslaughter. The German compositions
are decidedly the best from the Continent of Europe; but even these
are, of late, partaking so much of the vices of France and Italy, that
they have become scarcely sufferable. As yet, however, they may be
safely admitted into a land of liberty and sense. Scotland has escaped
the corruptions which have crept into the empire of music, and,
consequently, her music recommends itself, with irresistible charms, to
every ear which is not vitiated by the senseless rattle of the
Continent. Ireland is a little more contaminated; but still her
compositions retain enough of their primitive simplicity and sweetness
to entitle them to the patronage of all who would cultivate a correct
taste in this interesting department of the fine arts. I would not be
understood as speaking here without any limitations or restrictions;
but I do maintain, that, with some few exceptions, all of the soul of
music which is now left in the world is to be found in Scotland or
But Germans, Frenchmen, and Italians are decidedly the best, that
is, the most expert performers in the world. They perform all
over the world, and, in order to exhibit themselves to the best
advantage, they select the most difficult and complicated pieces. The
people at large presume that the best performers must be the best
judges of music, and must make the best selections; they therefore
forego the trouble of forming an opinion of their own, and pin their
faith upon the decisions, or, rather, the practice of the amateurs. It
was somehow in this way, I presume, that the fashionable music of the
day first obtained currency. Having become prevalent, it has become
tolerable; just as has the use of tobacco or ardent spirits. And, while
upon this head, I would earnestly recommend to the friends of reform in
our favoured country to establish an "Anti-mad-music Society," in order
to suppress, if possible, the cruelties of our modern musical entertainments.
If the instrumental music of France and Italy be bad, their vocal
music is, if possible, a thousand times worse. Neither the English nor the Georgia language
furnishes me with a term expressive of
the horrors of a French or Italian song, as it is agonized forth by one
of their professed singers. The law should make it justifiable homicide
in any man to kill an Italian in the very act of inflicting an il
penseroso upon a refined American ear.
And yet, with all the other European abominations which have crept
into our highly-favoured country, the French and Italian style of
singing and playing has made its way hither; and it is not uncommon to
hear our boarding-school misses piping away, not merely in the style,
but in the very language of these nations. This I can bear very well if
there happen to be a Frenchman or an Italian present, because I know
that he suffers more from the words than I do from the music; for I confess that upon such occasions I feel something of
the savage malignity which visits the sins of a nation upon any of its
citizens. But it most frequently happens that I am put to the tortures
of which I have been speaking without this mitigation. It was thus with
me a few evenings ago, at Mrs. B — 's party.
Tea had been disposed of, and the nonsensical chit-chat of such
occasions had begun to flag, when I invited Miss Mary Williams to the
piano. She rose promptly at my request, without any affected airs, and
with no other apology than that "she felt some diffidence at playing in
the presence of Miss Crump." The piano was an admirable one,
and its tones were exquisitely fine. Mary seated herself at it, and,
after a short but beautiful prelude, she commenced one of Burns's
plaintive songs, to a tune which was new to me, but which was obviously
from the poet's own land, and by one who felt the inspiration of his
verse. The composer and the poet were both honoured by the performer.
Mary's voice was inimitably fine. Her enunciation was clear and
distinct, with just emphasis enough to give the verse its appropriate
expression, without interrupting the melody of the music; and her
modulations were perfect.
She had closed, and was in the act of rising, before I awoke from
the delightful revery into which she had lulled me. I arrested her,
however, and insisted upon her proceeding; when she gave me one of
Allan Ramsey's best, to measure equally appropriate. This she followed
with Tannahill's "Gloomy Winter's now awa," and was again retiring,
when my friend Hall observed, "See, Miss Mary, you've brought a tear to
Mr. Baldwin's eye, and you must not cease until you chase it away with
some lively air." My friend was right. The touching pathos of Mary's
voice, conspiring with a train of reflections which the song inspired,
had really brought me to tears. I thought of poor Tannahill's fate. He
was the victim of a bookseller's stupidity. With men of taste and
letters, his fugitive pieces, particularly his lyrics, had gained him a
well-deserved reputation; but he was not exempt from the common lot of
authors. He was attacked by the ignorant and the invidious; and, with
the hopeless design of silencing these, he prepared a volume or more of
his poems with great care, and sent them to a bookseller for
publication. After the lapse of several weeks, they were returned
without a compliment, or an offer for them. The mortification and
disappointment were too severe for his reason. It deserted him, and
soon after he was found dead in a tunnel of the burn which had been the
scene of one of his earliest songs. Unfortunately, in his madness he
destroyed his favourite works.
Such was the train of reflection from which Mary was kind enough,
at the request of my friend, to relieve me by a lively Irish air. Had
it not been admirably selected, I could hardly have borne the
transition. But there was enough of softening melody, mingled with the
sprightliness of the air, to lead me gently to a gayer mood, in which
she left me.
In the mean time, most of the young ladies and gentlemen had formed
a circle round Miss Aurelia Emma Theodosia Augusta Crump, and were
earnestly engaged in pressing her to play. One young lady even went so
far as to drop on her knees before her, and in this posture to beseech
"her dear Augusta just to play the delightful overture of — ,"
something that sounded to me like "Blaze in the frets." This
petition was urged with such a melting sweetness of voice, such a
bewildering leer at the gentlemen, and such a theatric heave of the
bosom, that it threw the young gentlemen into transports. Hall was rude
enough to whisper in mine ear, "that he thought it indelicate to expose
an unmantled bosom to a perpendicular view of a large company;" and he
muttered something about "republican simplicity," I knew not exactly
what. But I assured him the fair petitioner was so overcome by her
solicitude for the overture, that she thought of nothing else, and was
wholly unconscious that there was a gentleman in the room. As to his
insinuation about "points of view," I convinced him by an easy argument
that it was wholly unfounded, for that this was the very point of view
in which an exposed neck must always be seen, while men continue taller
than women; and that, as the young lady must have been apprized of
this, she would hardly take so much trouble for nothing. But to return.
Miss Crump was inexorable. She declared that she was entirely out
of practice. "She scarcely ever touched the piano;" "Mamma was always
scolding her for giving so much of her time to French and Italian, and
neglecting her music and painting; but she told mamma the other day,
that it really was so irksome to her to quit Racine and Dante, and go
to thrumming upon the piano, that, but for the obligations of filial
obedience, she did not think she should ever touch it again."
Here Mrs. Crump was kind enough, by the merest accident in the
world, to interpose, and to relieve the company from farther anxiety.
"Augusta, my dear," said she, "go and play a tune or two; the
company will excuse your hoarseness."
Miss Crump rose immediately at her mother's bidding, and moved to
the piano, accompanied by a large group of smiling faces.
"Poor child," said Mrs. Crump as she went forward, "she is
frightened to death. I wish Augusta could overcome her diffidence."
Miss Crump was educated at Philadelphia; she had been taught to
sing by Madam Piggisqueaki, who was a pupil of Ma'm'selle
Crokifroggietta, who had sung with Madam Catalani; and she had taken
lessons on the piano from Seignor Buzzifussi, who had played with
She seated herself at the piano, rocked to the right, then to the
left, leaned forward, then backward, and began. She placed her right
hand about midway the keys, and her left about two octaves below it.
She now put off to the right in a brisk canter up the treble notes, and
the left after it. The left then led the way back, and the right
pursued it in like manner. The right turned, and repeated its first
movement; but the left outran it this time, hopped over it, and flung
it entirely off the track. It came in again, however, behind the left
on its return, and passed it in the same style. They now became highly
incensed at each other, and met furiously on the middle ground. Here a
most awful conflict ensued for about the space of ten seconds, when
the right whipped off all of a sudden, as I thought, fairly vanquished.
But I was in the error against which Jack Randolph cautions us: "It had
only fallen back to a stronger position." It mounted upon two black
keys, and commenced the note of a rattlesnake. This had a wonderful
effect upon the left, and placed the doctrine of "snake charming"
beyond dispute. The left rushed furiously towards it repeatedly, but
seemed invariably panic-struck when it came within six keys of it, and
as invariably retired with a tremendous roaring down the bass keys. It
continued its assaults, sometimes by the way of the naturals, sometimes
by the way of the sharps, and sometimes by a zigzag through both; but
all its attempts to dislodge the right from its stronghold proving
ineffectual, it came close up to its adversary and expired.
Any one, or rather no one, can imagine what kind of noises the
piano gave forth during the conflict. Certain it is, no one can
describe them, and, therefore, I shall not attempt it.
The battle ended, Miss Augusta moved as though she would have
arisen, but this was protested against by a number of voices at once:
"One song, my dear Aurelia," said Miss Small; "you must sing that sweet
little French air you used to sing in Philadelphia, and which Madame
Piggisqueaki was so fond of."
Miss Augusta looked pitifully at her mamma, and her mamma looked
"sing" at Miss Augusta: accordingly, she squared herself for a song.
She brought her hands to the campus this time in fine style, and
they seemed now to be perfectly reconciled to each other. They
commenced a kind of colloquy; the right whispering treble very softly,
and the left responding bass very loudly. The conference had been kept
up until I began to desire a change of the subject, when my ear caught,
indistinctly, some very curious sounds, which appeared to proceed from
the lips of Miss Augusta: they seemed to be compounded of a dry cough,
a grunt, a hiccough, and a whisper; and they were introduced, it
appeared to me, as interpreters between the right and left. Things
progressed in this way for about the space of fifteen seconds, when I
happened to direct my attention to Mr. Jenkins, from Philadelphia. His
eyes were closed, his head rolled gracefully from side to side; a beam
of heavenly complacency rested upon his countenance; and his whole man
gave irresistible demonstration that Miss Crump's music made him feel
good all over. I had just turned from the contemplation of Mr.
Jenkins's transports, to see whether I could extract from the
performance anything intelligible, when Miss Crump made a fly-catching
grab at half a dozen keys in a row, and at the same instant she fetched
a long, dunghill-cock crow, at the conclusion of which she grabbed as
many keys with the left. This came over Jenkins like a warm bath, and
over me like a rake of bamboo briers.
My nerves had not recovered from this shock before Miss Augusta
repeated the movement, and accompanied it with a squall of a pinched
cat. This threw me into an ague fit; but, from respect to the
performer, I maintained my position. She now made a third grasp with
the right, boxed the faces of six keys in a row with the left, and at
the same time raised one of the most unearthly howls that ever issued
from the throat of a human being. This seemed the signal for universal
uproar and destruction. She now threw away all reserve, and charged the
piano with her whole force. She boxed it, she clawed it, she raked it,
she scraped it. Her neck-vein swelled, her chin flew up, her face
flushed, her eye glared, her bosom heaved; she screamed, she howled,
she yelled, cackled, and was in the act of dwelling upon the note of a
screech-owl, when I took the St. Vitus's dance and rushed out of the
room. "Good Lord," said a by-stander, "if this be her singing,
what must her crying be!" As I reached the door I heard a voice
exclaim, "By heavens! she's the most enchanting performer I ever heard
in my life!" I turned to see who was the author of this ill timed
compliment, and who should it be but Nick Truck, from Lincoln, who
seven years before was dancing "Possum up the Gum-tree" in the chimney
corner of his father's kitchen. Nick had entered the counting-room of a
merchant in Charleston some five or six years before; had been sent out
as supercargo of a vessel to Bordeaux, and, while the vessel was
delivering one cargo and taking in another, had contracted a wonderful
relish for French music.
As for myself, I went home in convulsions, took sixty drops of
laudanum, and fell asleep. I dreamed that I was in a beautiful city,
the streets of which intersected each other at right angles; that the
birds of the air and the beasts of the forest had gathered there for
battle, the former led on by a Frenchman, the latter by an Italian;
that I was looking on their movements towards each other, when I heard
the cry of "Hecate is coming!" I turned my eye to the northeast, and
saw a female flying through the air towards the city, and distinctly
recognized in her the features of Miss Crump. I took the alarm and was
making my escape, when she gave command for the beasts and birds to
fall on me. They did so, and, with all the noises of the animal world,
were in the act of tearing me to pieces, when I was waked by the
stepping of Hall, my roommate, into bed.
"Oh, my dear sir," exclaimed I, "you have waked me from a horrible
dream. What o'clock is it?"
"Ten minutes after twelve," said he.
"And where have you been to this late hour?"
"I have just returned from the party."
"And what kept you so late?"
"Why, I disliked to retire while Miss Crump was playing."
"In mercy's name!" said I, "is she playing yet?"
"Yes," said he; "I had to leave her playing at last."
"And where was Jenkins?"
"He was there, still in ecstasies, and urging her to play on."
"And where was Truck?"
"He was asleep."
"And what was she playing?"
"An Italian — "
Here I swooned, and heard no more.
THE TURN OUT.
IN the good old days of
, and anpersants, terms which used to be familiar in
this country during the Revolutionary war, and which lingered in some
of our county schools for a few years afterward, I visited my friend
Captain Griffen, who resided about seven miles to the eastward of
Wrightsborough, then in Richmond, but now in Columbia county. I reached
the captain's hospitable dome on Easter, and was received by him and
his good lady with a Georgia welcome of 1790. It was warm from
the heart, and taught me in a moment that the obligations of the visit
were upon their side, not mine. Such receptions were not peculiar, at
that time, to the captain and his family; they were common throughout
the state. Where are they now! and where the generous hospitalities
which invariably followed them! I see them occasionally at the
contented farmer's door and at his festive board, but when they shall
have taken leave of these, Georgia will know them no more.
The day was consumed in the interchange of news between the captain
and myself (though, I confess, it might have been better employed), and
the night found us seated round a temporary fire, which the captain's
sons had kindled up for the purpose of dying eggs. It was a common
custom of those days with boys to dye and peck eggs on Easter Sunday
and for a few days afterward. They were coloured according to the fancy
of the dyer; some yellow, some green, some purple, and some with a
variety of colours, borrowed from a piece of calico. They were not
unfrequently beautified with a taste and skill which would have
extorted a compliment from Hezekiah Niles, if he had seen them a year
ago, in the hands of the "young operatives," in some of the
northern manufactories. No sooner was the work of dying finished, than
our "young operatives" sallied forth to stake the whole proceeds of
their "domestic industry" upon a peck. Egg was struck against
egg, point to point, and the egg that was broken was given up as lost
to the owner of the one which came whole from the shock.
While the boys were busily employed in the manner just mentioned,
the captain's youngest son, George, gave us an anecdote highly
descriptive of the Yankee and Georgia character, even in their
buddings, and at this early date. "What you think, pa," said he, "Zeph
Pettibone went and got his Uncle Zach to turn him a wooden egg; and he
won a whole hatful o' eggs from all us boys 'fore we found it out; but,
when we found it out, maybe John Brown didn't smoke him for it, and
took away all his eggs, and give 'em back to us boys; and you think he
didn't go then and git a guinea-egg, and win most as many more, and
John Brown would o' give it to him agin if all we boys hadn't said we
thought it was fair. I never see such a boy as that Zeph Pettibone in
all my life. He don't mind whipping no more 'an nothing at all, if he
can win eggs."
This anecdote, however, only fell in by accident, for there was an
all-absorbing subject which occupied the minds of the boys during the
whole evening, of which I could occasionally catch distant hints, in
under tones and whispers, but of which I could make nothing, until
they were afterward explained by the captain himself. Such as "I'll be
bound Pete Jones and Bill Smith stretches him." "By Jockey, soon as
they seize him, you'll see me down upon him like a duck upon a
June-bug." "By the time he touches the ground, he'll think he's got
into a hornet's nest,"&c.
"The boys," said the captain, as they retired, "are going to turn
out the schoolmaster tomorrow, and you can perceive they think of
nothing else. We must go over to the schoolhouse and witness the
contest, in order to prevent injury to preceptor or pupils; for, though
the master is always, upon such occasions, glad to be turned out, and
only struggles long enough to present his patrons a fair apology for
giving the children a holyday, which he desires as much as they do, the
boys always conceive a holyday gained by a "turn out" as the sole
achievement of their valour; and, in their zeal to distinguish
themselves upon such memorable occasions, they sometimes become too
rough, provoke the master to wrath, and a very serious conflict ensues.
To prevent these consequences, to bear witness that the master was forced to yield before he would withhold a day of his promised
labour from his employers, and to act as a mediator between him and the
boys in settling the articles of peace, I always attend; and you must
accompany me to-morrow." I cheerfully promised to do so.
The captain and I rose before the sun, but the boys had risen and
were off to the schoolhouse before the dawn. After an early breakfast,
hurried by Mrs. G. for our accommodation, my host and myself took up
our line of march towards the schoolhouse. We reached it about half an
hour before the master arrived, but not before the boys had completed
its fortifications. It was a simple log-pen, about twenty feet square,
with a doorway cut out of the logs, to which was fitted a rude door,
made of clapbords, and swung on wooden hinges. The roof was covered
with clapboards also, and retained in their places by heavy logs placed
on them. The chimney was built of logs, diminishing in size from the
ground to the top, and overspread inside and out with red clay mortar.
The classic hut occupied a lovely spot, overshadowed by majestic
hickorys, towering poplars, and strong-armed oaks. The little plain on
which it stood was terminated, at the distance of about fifty paces
from its door, by the brow of a hill, which descended rather abruptly
to a noble spring, that gushed joyously forth from among the roots of a
stately beech at its foot. The stream from this fountain scarcely burst
into view, before it hid itself beneath the dark shade of a field of
cane, which overspread the dale through which it flowed, and marked its
windings, until it turned from the sight among vine-covered hills, at a
distance far beyond that to which the eye could have traced it without
the help of its evergreeen belt. A remark of the captain's, as we
viewed the lovely country around us, will give the reader my apology
for the minuteness of the foregoing description. "These lands," said
he, "will never wear out. Where they lie level, they will be as good
fifty years hence as they are now." Forty-two years afterward I visited
the spot on which he stood when he made the remark. The sun poured his
whole strength upon the bald hill which once supported the sequestered
schoolhouse; many a deep-washed gully met at a sickly bog where gushed
the limpid fountain; a dying willow rose from the soil which nourished
the venerable beech; flocks wandered among the dwarf pines, and cropped
a scanty meal from the dale where the rich cane bowed and rustled to
every breeze, and all around was barren, dreary, and cheerless. But to
As I before remarked, the boys had strongly fortified the
schoolhouse, of which they had taken possession. The door was
barricaded with logs, which I should have supposed would have defied
the combined powers of the whole school. The chimney, too, was nearly
filled with logs of goodly size; and these were the only passways to
the interior. I concluded, if a turn out was all that was
necessary to decide the contest in favour of the boys, they had
already gained the victory. They had, however, not as much confidence
in their outworks as I had, and, therefore, had armed themselves with
long sticks: not for the purpose of using them upon the master if the
battle should come to close quarters, for this was considered unlawful
warfare; but for the purpose of guarding their works from his
approaches, which it was considered perfectly lawful to protract by all
manner of jobs and punches through the cracks. From the early
assembling of the girls, it was very obvious that they had been let
into the conspiracy, though they took no part in the active operations.
They would, however, occasionally drop a word of encouragement to the
boys, such as "I wouldn't turn out the master but if I did turn him
out, I'd die before I'd give up." These remarks doubtless had an
imboldening effect upon "the young freeborns," as Mrs. Trollope
would call them; for I never knew the Georgian of any age who was
indifferent to the smiles and praises of the ladies — before his
At length Mr. Michael St. John, the schoolmaster, made his
appearance. Though some of the girls had met him a quarter of a mile
from the schoolhouse, and told him all that had happened, he gave signs
of sudden astonishment and indignation when he advanced to the door,
and was assailed by a whole platoon of sticks from the cracks: "Why,
what does all this mean?" said he, as he approached the captain and
myself, with a countenance of two or three varying expressions.
"Why," said the captain, "the boys have turned you out, because you
have refused to give them an Easter holyday."
"Oh," returned Michael, "that's it, is it? Well, I'll see whether
their parents are to pay me for letting their children play when they
please." So saying, he advanced to the schoolhouse, and demanded, in a
lofty tone, of its inmates, an unconditional surrender.
"Well, give us holyday then," said twenty little urchins within,
"and we'll let you in."
"Open the door of the
Academy " — (Michael would allow
nobody to call it a schoolhouse) — "Open the door of the academy this
instant," said Michael, "or I'll break it down."
"Break it down," said Pete Jones and Bill Smith, "and we'll break
During this colloquy I took a peep into the fortress, to see how
the garrison were affected by the parley. The little ones were
obviously panic-struck at the first words of command; but their fears
were all chased away by the bold, determined reply of Pete Jones and
Bill Smith, and they raised a whoop of defiance.
Michael now walked round the academy three times, examining all its
weak points with great care. He then paused, reflected for a moment,
and wheeled off suddenly towards the woods, as though a bright thought
had just struck him. He passed twenty things which I supposed he might
be in quest of, such as huge stones, fence-rails, portable logs, and
the like, without bestowing the least attention upon them. He went to
one old log, searched it thoroughly, then to another, then to a hollow
stump, peeped into it with great care, then to a hollow log, into which
he looked with equal caution, and so on.
"What is he after?" inquired I.
"I'm sure I don't know," said the captain, "but the boys do. Don't
you notice the breathless silence which prevails in the schoolhouse,
and the intense anxiety with which they are eying him through the
At this moment Michael had reached a little excavation at the root
of a dogwood, and was in the act of putting his hand into it, when a
voice from the garrison exclaimed, with most touching pathos, "Lo'd o'
messy, he's found my eggs! boys, let's give up."
"I won't give up," was the reply from many voices at once.
"Rot your cowardly skin, Zeph Pettibone, you wouldn't give a wooden
egg for all the holydays in the world."
If these replies did not reconcile Zephaniah to his apprehended
loss, it at least silenced his complaints. In the mean time Michael
was employed in relieving Zeph's storehouse of its provisions; and,
truly, its contents told well for Zeph's skill in egg-pecking. However,
Michael took out the eggs with great care, and brought them within a
few paces of the schoolhouse, and laid them down with equal care in
full view of the besieged. He revisited the places which he had
searched, and to which he seemed to have been led by intuition; for
from nearly all of them did he draw eggs, in greater or less numbers.
These he treated as he had done Zeph's, keeping each pile separate.
Having arranged the eggs in double files before the door, he marched
between them with an air of triumph, and once more demanded a
surrender, under pain of an entire destruction of the garrison's
"Break 'em just as quick as you please," said George Griffin; "our
mothers 'll give us a plenty more, won't they, pa?"
"I can answer for yours, my son," said the captain; "she would
rather give up every egg upon the farm, than see you play the coward or
traitor to save your property."
Michael, finding that he could make no impression upon the fears or
the avarice of the boys, determined to carry their fortifications by
storm. Accordingly, he procured a heavy fence-rail, and commenced the
assault upon the door. It soon came to pieces, and the upper logs fell
out, leaving a space of about three feet at the top. Michael boldly
entered the breach, when, by the articles of war, sticks were thrown
aside as no longer lawful weapons. He was resolutely met on the
half-demolished rampart by Peter Jones and William Smith, supported by
James Griffin. These were the three largest boys in the school; the
first about sixteen years of age, the second about fifteen, and the
third just eleven. Twice was Michael repulsed by these young champions;
but the third effort carried him fairly into the fortress. Hostilities
now ceased for a while, and the captain and I, having levelled the
remaining logs at the door, followed Michael into the house. A large
three inch plank (if it deserve that name, for it was wrought from the
half of a tree's trunk entirely with the axe), attached to the logs by
means of wooden pins, served the whole school for a writing desk. At a
convenient distance below it, and on a line with it, stretched a smooth
log, resting upon the logs of the house, which answered for the
writers' seat. Michael took his seat upon the desk, placed his feet on
the seat, and was sitting very composedly, when, with a simultaneous
movement, Pete and Bill seized each a leg, and marched off with it in
quick time. The consequence is obvious; Michael's head first took the
desk, then the seat, and finally the ground (for the house was not
floored), with three sonorous thumps of most doleful portent. No sooner
did he touch the ground than he was completely buried with boys. The
three elder laid themselves across his head, neck, and breast, the rest
arranging themselves ad libitum. Michael's equanimity
was considerably disturbed by the first thump, became restive with the
second, and took flight with the third. His first effort was to
disengage his legs, for without them he could not rise, and to lie in
his present position was extremely inconvenient and undignified.
Accordingly, he drew up his right, and kicked at random. This movement
laid out about six in various directions upon the floor. Two rose
crying: "Ding his old red-headed skin," said one of them, "to go and
kick me right in my sore belly, where I fell down and raked it, running
after that fellow that cried 'school-butter.' "
"Drot his old snaggle-tooth picture," said the other, "to go and
hurt my sore toe, where I knocked the nail off going to the spring to
fetch a gourd of warter for him, and not for myself n'other."
"Hut!" said Captain Griffin, "young Washingtons mind these trifles!
At him again."
The name of Washington cured their wounds and dried up their tears
in an instant, and they legged him de novo. The left leg
treated six more as unceremoniously as the right had those just
mentioned; but the talismanic name had just fallen upon their ears
before the kick, so they were invulnerable. They therefore returned to
the attack without loss of time. The struggle seemed to wax hotter and
hotter for a short time after Michael came to the ground, and he threw
the children about in all directions and postures, giving some of them
thumps which would have placed the ruffle-shirted little
darlings of the present day under the discipline of paregoric and
opodeldoc for a week; but these hardy sons of the forest seemed not to
feel them. As Michael's head grew easy, his limbs, by a natural
sympathy, became more quiet, and he offered one day's holyday as the
price. The boys demanded a week; but here the captain interposed, and,
after the common but often unjust custom of arbitrators, split the
difference. In this instance the terms were equitable enough, and were
immediately acceded to by both parties. Michael rose in a good humour,
and the boys were, of course. Loud was their talking of their deed of
valour as they retired. One little fellow about seven years old, and
about three feet and a half high, jumped up, cracked his feet together,
and exclaimed, "By jingo, Pete Jones, Bill Smith, and me can
hold any Sinjin that ever trod Georgy grit." By-the-way, the
name of St. John was always pronounced "Sinjin" by the
common people of that day; and so it must have been by Lord Bolingbroke
himself, else his friend Pope would never have addressed him in a line
so unmusical as
160160160160160160"Awake, my St. John, leave all meaner things."
Nor would Swift, the friend and companion of both, have written
skill in state affairs,
160160160160160160What Ormond's valour, Oxford's cares."
160160160160160160"Where folly, pride, and faction sway,
St. John, Pope, and Gray."
THE "CHARMING CREATURE" AS A WIFE.
MY nephew, George Baldwin, was but ten years younger than myself. He
was the son of a plain, practical, sensible farmer, who, without the
advantages of a liberal education, had enriched his mind, by study and
observation, with a fund of useful knowledge rarely possessed by those
who move in his sphere of life. His wife was one of the most lovely of
women. She was pious, but not austere; cheerful, but not light;
generous, but not prodigal; economical, but not close; hospitable, but
not extravagant. In native powers of mind she was every way my
brother's equal; in acquirements she was decidedly his superior. To
this I have his testimony as well as my own; but it was impossible to
discover in her conduct anything going to show that she coincided with
us in opinion. To have heard her converse, you would have supposed she
did nothing but read; to have looked through the departments of her
household, you would have supposed she never read. Everything which lay
within her little province bore the impress of her hand or acknowledged
her supervision. Order, neatness, and cleanliness prevailed everywhere.
All provisions were given out with her own hands, and she could tell
precisely the quantity of each article that it would require to serve a
given number of persons, without stint or wasteful profusion. In the
statistics of domestic economy she was perfectly versed. She would tell
you, with astonishing accuracy, how many pounds of cured bacon you
might expect from a given weight of fresh pork; how many quarts of
cream a given quantity of milk would yield; how much butter so much
cream; how much each article it would take to serve so many persons a
month or a year. Supposing no change in the family, and she would tell
to a day when a given quantity provisions of any kind would be
exhausted. She reduced to certain knowledge everything that could be;
and she approximated to it as nearly as possible with those matters
that could not be. And yet she scolded less and whipped less than any
mistress of a family I ever saw. The reason is obvious. Everything
under her care went on with perfect system. To each servant was
allotted his or her respective duties, and to each was assigned the
time in which those duties were to be performed. During this time she
suffered them not to be interrupted, if it was possible to protect them
from interruption. Her children were permitted to give no orders to
servants but through her, until they reached the age at which they were
capable of regulating their orders by her rules. She laid no plans to
detect her servants in theft, but she took great pains to convince them
that they could not pilfer without detection; and this did she without
betraying any suspicions of their integrity. Thus she would have her
biscuits uniformly of a size, and, under the form of instructions to her cook, she would show her precisely the quantity of flour which
it took to make so many biscuits. After all this, she exposed her
servants to as few temptations as possible. She never sent them to the
larder unattended if she could avoid it; and never placed them under
the watch of children. She saw that they were well provided with
everything they needed, and she indulged them in recreations when she
could. No service was required of them on the Sabbath farther than to
spread the table and to attend it; a service which was lightened as
much as possible by having the provisions of that day very simple, and
prepared the day before.
Such, but half described, were the father and mother of George
Baldwin. He was their only son and eldest child, but he had two
sisters, Mary and Martha; the first four, and the second six years
younger than himself — a son next to George having died in infancy.
The two eldest children inherited their names from their parents, and
all of them grew up worthy of the stock from which they sprang.
George, having completed his education at Princeton, where he was
graduated with great honour to himself, returned to Georgia and
commenced the study of the law. After studying a year he was admitted
to the bar, just after he had completed his one-and-twentieth year. I
have been told by gentlemen who belong to this profession, that one
year is too short a time for preparation for the intricacies of legal
lore; and it may be so, but I never knew a young man acquit himself
more creditably than George did in his maiden speech.
He located himself in the city of -, seventy miles from his
father's residence; and, after the lapse of three years, he counted up
eight hundred dollars as the nett profits of his last year's practice.
Reasonably calculating that his receipts would annually increase for
several years to come, having no expenses to encounter except for his
board and clothing (for his father had furnished him with a complete
library), he now thought of taking to himself a helpmate. Hitherto he
had led a very retired, studious life; but now he began to court the
society of ladies.
About this time Miss Evelina Caroline Smith returned to the city
from Philadelphia, where, after an absence of three years, she had
completed her education. She was the only child of a wealthy,
unlettered merchant, who, rather by good luck than good management, had
amassed a fortune of about fifty thousand dollars. Mr. Smith was one of
those men who conceived that all earthly greatness, and, consequently,
all earthly bliss concentred in wealth. The consequence was inevitable.
To the poor he was haughty, supercilious, arrogant, and, not
unfrequently, wantonly insolent; to the rich he was friendly, kind, or
obsequious,as their purses equalled or overmeasured his own. His wife
was even below himself in moral stature; proud, loquacious, silly.
Evelina was endowed by nature with a good mind; and, what her parents
esteemed of infinitely more value, she was beautiful, from her infancy
to the time when I introduced her to the reader, which was just after
she had completed her seventeenth year. Evelina's time, between her
sixth and fourteenth year, had been chiefly employed in learning from
her father and mother what a perfect beauty she was, and what kind of
gewgaws exhibited her beauty to the greatest advantage; how rich she
would be; and "what havoc she would make of young men's hearts,
by-and-by." In these instructive lectures her parents sometimes found
gratuitous help from silly male and female visitors, who, purely to win
favour from the parents, would expatiate on the perfections of "the
lovely," "charming," "beautiful little creature" in her presence. The
consequence was, that pride and vanity became, at an early age, the
leading traits of the child's character, and admiration and flattery
the only food which she could relish. Her parents subjected themselves
to the loss of her society for three years, while she was at school in
Philadelphia, from no better motive than to put her on an equality with
Mr. B.'s and Mr. C.'s daughters; or, rather, to imitate the examples of
Messrs. B. & C., merchants of the same city, who were very rich.
While she was in Philadelphia Evelina was well instructed. She was
taught in what female loveliness truly consists; the qualities which
deservedly command the respect of the wise and good; and the deportment
which ensures to a female the admiration of all. But Evelina's mind had
received a bias from which these lessons could not relieve it; and the
only effect of them upon her was to make her an accomplished hypocrite,
with all her other foibles. She improved her instructions only to the
gratification of her ruling passion. In music she made some
proficiency, because she saw in it a ready means of gaining admiration.
George Baldwin had formed a partial acquaintance with Mr. Smith
before the return of his daughter; but he rather shunned than courted a
closer intimacy. Smith, however, had intrusted George with some
professional business, found him trustworthy, and thought he saw in him
a man who, at no very distant day, was to become distinguished for both
wealth and talents; and, pon a very short acquaintance, he took
occasion to tell him, "that whoever married his daughter should receive
the next day a check for twenty thousand dollars. That'll do,"
continued he, "to start upon; and, when I and the old woman drop off,
she will get thirty more." This had an effect upon George directly
opposite to that which it was designed to have.
Miss Smith had been at home about three weeks, and the whole town
had sounded the praises of her beauty and accomplishments; but George
had not seen her, though Mr. Smith had, in the mean time, given him
several notes to collect, with each of which he "wondered how it
happened that two so much alike as himself and George had never been
more intimate; and hoped he would come over in a sociable way and see
him often." About this time, however, George received a special
invitation to a large tea-party from Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which he could
not with propriety reject, and accordingly he went. He was received at
the door by Mr. Smith, announced upon entering the drawing-room, and
conducted through a crowd of gentlemen to Miss Smith, to whom he was
introduced with peculiar emphasis. He made his obeisance and retired;
for common politeness required him to bestow his attentions upon some
of the many ladies in the room, who were neglected by the gentlemen in
their rivalship for a smile or word from Miss Evelina. She was the
admiration of all the gentlemen, and, with the exception of two or
three young ladies, who "thought her too affected," she was
praised by all the ladies. In short, by nearly universal testimony, she
was pronounced "a charming creature."
An hour had elapsed before George found an opportunity of giving
her those attentions which, as a guest of the family, courtesy required
from him. The opportunity was at length, however, furnished by herself.
In circling round the room to entertain the company, she reached George
just as the seat next to him had been vacated. This she occupied, and a
conversation ensued, with every word of which she gained upon his
respect and esteem. Instead of finding her that gay, volatile, vain
creature whom he expected to find in the rich and beautiful daughter of
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, he found her a modest, sensible, unassuming girl,
whose views upon all subjects coincided precisely with his own.
"She yielded to the wishes of her parents, from a sense of duty, in
giving and attending parties, but she always left them, under the
conviction that the time spent at them was worse than wasted. It was
really a luxury to her to retire from the idle chit-chat of them, and
to spend a few minutes in conversation with a male or female friend,
who would consider it no disrespect to the company to talk rationally
upon such occasions. And yet, in conducting such conversations at such
times, it was so difficult to avoid the appearance of pedantry, and to
keep it from running into something too stiff or too grave for a social
circle, that she really was afraid to court them." As to books, "she
read but very few novels, though her ignorance of them often exposed
her to some mortification; but she felt that her ignorance here was a
compliment to her taste and delicacy, which made ample amends for the
mortifications to which it forced her occasionally to submit. With
Hannah More, Mrs. Chapone, Bennett, and other writers of the same
class, she was very familiar" (and she descanted upon the peculiar
merits of each); "but, after all, books were of small consequence to a
lady, without those domestic virtues which enable her to blend superior
usefulness with superior acquirements; and if learning or usefulness
must be forsaken, it had better be the first. Of music she was
extravagantly fond, and she presumed she ever would be; but she
confessed she had no taste for its modern refinements."
Thus she went on with the turns of the conversation, and as she
caught George's views. It is true she would occasionally drop a remark
which did not harmonize exactly with these dulcet strains; and, in her
rambles over the world of science, she would sometimes seem at fault
where George thought she ought to have been perfectly at home; but he
found a thousand charitable ways of accounting for all this, not one of
which led to the idea that she might have learned these diamond
sentiments by rote from the lips of her preceptress. Consequently, they
came with resistless force upon the citadel of George's heart, and in
less than half an hour overpowered it completely.
"Truly," thought George, "she is a charming creature! When was so
much beauty ever blended with such unassuming manners and such
intellectual endowments! How wonderful, that the daughter of Mr.
and Mrs. Smith should possess such accomplishments! How dull —
with all her filial affection — how dull must be her life under the
parental roof! Not a companion, not a sympathetic feeling there! How
sweet it would be to return from the toils of the courts to a bosom
friend so soft, so benevolent, so intelligent."
Thus ran George's thoughts as soon as Miss Smith had left him to go
in quest of now conquests. The effects of her short interview with him
soon became visible to every eye. His conversation lost its spirit; was
interrupted by moody abstractions, and was sillier than it had ever
been. George had a fine person, and, for the first time in his life, he
now set a value upon it. To exhibit it to the greatest advantage, he
walked the room under various pretences; and when in his promenades he
caught the eye of Miss Smith resting upon him, he assumed a more
martial or theatric step, which made him look ridiculous at the time,
and feel so immediately afterward. In his listless journeyings, his
attention was arrested by a beautiful cottage scene, at the foot of
which glittered in golden letters,
160160160160160160"BY EVELINA CAROLINE SMITH, OF — , GEORGIA."
This led him to another, and another, from the same pencil. Upon
these he was gazing with a look and attitude the most complimentary to
Miss Evelina that he could possibly assume, while the following remarks
were going the rounds.
"Do you notice George Baldwin?"
"Oh yes! he's in for it; dead, sir; good-by to bail-writs and
"Oh, she's only put an
"Really, Miss Smith, it was too bad to serve George Baldwin so
"Ah, sir, if reports are true, Mr. Baldwin is too fond of his books
to think of any lady, much less of one so unworthy of his attentions as
George heard this; nestled a little; threw back his shoulders;
placed his arms akimbo, and looked at the picture with wonderful
Then Miss Evelina was handed to the piano, and to a simple,
beautiful air, she sang a well written song, the burden of which was an
apology for love at first sight. This was wanton cruelty to an
unresisting captive. To do her justice, however, her performance had
not been equalled during the evening.
The company at length began to retire; and, so long as a number
remained sufficient to give him an apology for staying, George delayed
his departure. The last group of ladies and gentlemen finally rose, and
George commenced a fruitless search for his hat; fruitless, because he
looked for it where he knew it was not to be found. But a servant was
more successful, and brought it to him just as he was giving up the
search as hopeless, and commencing a conversation with Miss Smith for
"Why, where did you find it?" said George, with seeming surprise
and pleasure at the discovery.
"Out da, in de entry, sir, whay all de gentleman put da hats."
"Oh, I ought to have known that.
Good-by, Miss Evelina!"
said George, throwing a melting eloquence into the first word, and
reaching forth his hand.
"Good evening, Mr. Baldwin!" returned she; "I hope you will not be
quite so great a stranger here as you have been. Pa has often wondered
that you never visit him." Here she relinquished his hand with a gentle
but sensible pressure, which might mean two or three things. Whatever
was its meaning, it ran like nitrous oxide through every fibre of
George's composition, and robbed him for a moment of his last ray of
"Believe me, Miss Smith," said he, as if he were opening a murder
case, "believe me, there are fascinations about this hospitable dome,
in the delicate touches of the pencil which adorn it, and in the soft
breathings of the piano, awaked by the hand which I have just
relinquished, which will not permit me to delay, as heretofore, those
visits which professional duty requires me to make to your kind parent
(your father) a single moment beyond the time that his claims to my
respects become absolute. Good evening, Miss Smith."
"Did ever mortal of common sense talk and act so much like an
arrant fool as I have this evening!" said George, as the veil of night
fell upon the visions which had danced before his eyes for the four
Though it was nearly twelve o'clock at night when he reached his
office, he could not sleep until he laid the adventures of the evening
before his father and mother. The return mail brought him a letter from
his parents written by his mother's hand, which we regret we cannot
give a place in this narrative. Suffice it to say, it was kind and
affectionate, but entirely too cold for the temperature of George's
feelings. It admitted the intrinsic excellence of Miss Smith's views
and sentiments but expressed serious apprehensions that her habits of
life would prove an insuperable barrier to her ever putting them in
full practice. "We all admit, my dear George," said the amiable
writer, "the value of industry, economy — in short, of all the
domestic and social virtues; but how small the number who practise them! Golden sentiments are to be picked up anywhere. In this age
they are upon the lips of everybody; but we do not find that they exert
as great an influence upon the morals of society as they did in the
infancy of our Republic, when they were less talked of. For ourselves,
we confess we prize the gentleman or lady who habitually practises one
Christian virtue, much higher than we do the one who barely lectures eloquently upon them all. But we are not so weak or so
uncharitable as to suppose that none who discourse fluently upon them
can possess them."
* * * * * * * *
"The whole moral which we would deduce from the foregoing remarks,
is one which your own observation must have taught you a thousand
times; that but little confidence is to be reposed in fine sentiments
which do not come recommended by the life and conduct of the person who
retails them. And yet, familiar as you are with this truth, you
certainly have more command over your judgment than have most young men
of your age, if you do not entirely forget it the moment you hear such
sentiments from the lips of 'a lady possessing strong personal
attractions.' There is a charm in beauty which even philosophy is
constrained to acknowledge, and which youth instinctively transfers to
all the moral qualities of its possessor."
* * * * * *
"When you come to know the elements of which connubial happiness is
composed, you will be astonished to find that, with few exceptions,
they are things which you now consider the veriest trifles imaginable.
It is a happy ordination of Providence that it should be so; for this
brings matrimonial bliss within the reach of all classes of persons." *
* * * * *
* * * * "Harmony of thought and feeling upon the little daily
occurrences of life, congeniality of views and sentiments between
yourselves and your connexions on either side, similarity of habits and
pursuits among your immediate relatives and friends, if not essential
to nuptial bliss, are certainly its chief ingredients." *
* * * * "Having pointed you to the sources of conjugal felicity,
your own judgment will spare my trembling hand the painful duty of
pointing you to those fountains of bitterness and wo— but I forget
that I am representing your father as well as myself."
George read the long letter, from which the foregoing extracts are
taken, with deep interest and with some alarm; but he was not in a
situation to profit by his parents' counsels. He had visited Miss Smith
repeatedly in the time he was waiting to hear from his parents; and
though he had discovered many little foibles in her character, he found
a ready apology or an easy remedy for them all.
The lapse of a few months found them engaged, and George the
happiest mortal upon earth.
"And now, my dear Evelina," said he, as soon as they had
interchanged their vows, "I go to render myself worthy of the honour
you have conferred upon me. My studies, which love, doubt, and anxiety
have too long interrupted, shall now be renewed with redoubled
intensity. My Evelina's interest, being associated with all my labours,
will turn them to pleasures; my honour being hers, I shall court it
with untiring zeal. She will therefore excuse me if my visits are not
repeated in future quite as often as they have been heretofore."
"What, a'ready, Mr. Baldwin!" exclaimed she, weeping most
"Why no, not for the world, if my dear Evelina says not! But I
thought that — I flattered myself — I hoped — my Evelina would
find a sufficient apology in the motive."
The little mistake was rectified in the course of an hour, and they
parted more in raptures with each other than they had ever been.
George continued his visits as before, and, in the mean time, his
business began to suffer from neglect, of which his clients
occasionally reminded him, with all the frankness which one exhibits at
seeing a love affair carried on with too much zeal and at his expense.
In truth, George's heart had more than once entertained a wish (for
his lips dare not utter it) that his charming Evelina's affection could
come down to a hundred of Wedgewood when the circuit commenced, and
give him a temporary respite.
The evening before he set out he spent with his "charming Evelina,"
of course, and the interview closed with a most melting scene; but I
may not stop to describe it. Candour constrains me to say, however,
that George got over it before he reached his office, which he entered
actually whistling a merry tune.
He was at the second court of the circuit, and had been from home
nearly a fortnight, when one of his friends addressed him with, "I'll
tell you what it is, Baldwin, you'd better go home, or Dr. Bibb will
cut you out. There have been two or three parties in town since you
came away, at all of which Miss Smith and Bibb were as thick as two
pickpockets. The whole town's talking about them. I heard a young lady
say to her, she'd tell you how she was carrying on with Bibb; and she
declared, upon her word and honour (looking killniferously at
Bibb), that she only knew you as her father's collecting attorney."
George reddened deeper and deeper at every word of this, but passed
it off with a hearty, hectic laugh.
It was on Thursday afternoon that he received this intelligence,
and it met him forty miles from home, and twenty-five from the next
court in order. Two of his cases were yet undisposed of. Of these he
gave hasty notes to one of his brethren, in order to guide him if he
should be forced to trial, but instructing him to continue them if he
could. Having made these arrangements, Friday afternoon, at five
o'clock, found his jaded horse at his office door. George tarried here
no longer than was necessary to change his apparel, and then he
hastened to the habitation of his "charming Evelina."
He was received at the door by a servant, who escorted him to the
drawing-room, and who, to heighten Evelina's joy by surprise,
instructed her maid to tell her that there was a gentleman in
the drawing-room who wished to see her.
Minute after minute rolled away, and she did not make her
appearance. After he had been kept in suspense for nearly a quarter of
an hour, she entered the room, dressed in bridal richness and taste.
"Why, is it you!" said she, rushing to him in transports: "I
thought it was Dr. Bibb."
"And who is Dr. Bibb, Evelina?" said George.
"He's a young physician, with whom I had a partial acquaintance in
Philadelphia, and who has just settled himself in this place. I want
you to get acquainted with him, for he is one of the most interesting
young gentlemen I ever knew in my life."
"No doubt I should be much pleased with him; but do you think he
would feel himself much honoured or improved by an
acquaintance with 'your father's collecting attorney?' "
"Why! Is it possible that Rebecca Freeman has told you that! I
never will speak to her again. I am the most persecuted being upon
earth. I can say nothing nor do nothing, no matter how innocent, which
some one does not make a handle of to injure me."
Here Miss Evelina burst into tears, as usual; but there being a
little passion mingled with her tears on this occasion, her weeping was
not quite as interesting as it had been before. It subdued George,
however, and paved the way to a reconciliation. The obnoxious
expression was explained, rather awkwardly, indeed, but satisfactorily;
and Miss Freeman was acquitted of all blame.
Matters were just placed in this posture, when a servant arrived to
inform George "that something was the matter with his horse, and Mr.
Cox (his landlord) thought he was going to die."
George rose, and was hastening to the relief of his favourite of
all quadrupeds, when Miss Smith burst into a very significant but
"Why, what is it amuses you so, Evelina?" inquired George, with
"Oh, nothing," said she; "I was only thinking how quick Mr. Baldwin
forgets me when his horse demands his attentions. I declare
I'm right jealous of my rival."
"Go back, boy, and tell your master I can't come just now; but I'll
thank him to do what he can for the poor animal."
Mr. Cox, upon receiving this intelligence, and learning the
business which engrossed George's attention left the horse to take care
of himself; and he died just before George returned from Mr. Smith's.
These, and a thousand little annoyances which we may not enumerate,
urged upon George the importance of hastening the nuptials as speedily
Accordingly, by all the dangers, ills, alarms, and anxieties which
attend the hours of engagement, he pressed her to name the happy day
within the coming month when their hearts and their destinies should be
But "she could not think of getting married for two years yet to
come; then one year at least. At all events, she could not appoint a
day until she consulted her dear Morgiana Cornelia Marsh, of Canaan,
Vermont. Morgiana was her classmate, and, at parting in Philadelphia,
they had interchanged pledges that which ever got married first should
be waited upon by the other."
In vain did George endeavour to persuade her that this was a
school-girl pledge, which Morgiana had already forgotten, and which she
never would fulfil. His arguments only provoked a reproof of his unjust
suspicions of the "American fair."
Finding his arguments here unavailing, he then entreated his
"charming Evelina" to write immediately to Miss Marsh, to know when it
would be agreeable to her to fulfil her promise.
Weeks rolled away before Miss Smith could be prevailed upon even to
write the all important letter. She despatched it at last, however; and
George began to entertain hopes that a few months would make the dear
Evelina his own.
In the mean time his business fell in arrears, and his clients
complained loudly against him. He was incessantly tortured with false
rumours of his coldness and indifference towards Miss Smith, and of the
light and disrespectful remarks which he had made upon her; but he was
much more tortured by her unabated thirst for balls and parties of
pleasure; her undiminished love of general admiration, and the
unconcealed encouragement which she gave to the attentions of Dr. Bibb.
The effect which these things had upon his temper was visible to all
his friends. He became fretful, petulant, impatient, and melancholy.
Dr. Bibb proved, in truth, to be a most accomplished, intelligent
gentleman; and was the man who, above all others, George would have
selected for his friend and companion; had not the imprudences of
Evelina transformed him into a rival. As things were, however, his
accomplishments only imbittered George's feelings towards him, provoked
from George cruel, misplaced, and unnatural sarcasms, which the world
placed to the account of jealousy, and in which George's conscience
forced him to admit that the world did him nothing more nor less than
At length Miss Morgiana's letter arrived. It opened with
expressions of deep contrition that the writer "should have got married
without giving her beloved Evelina an opportunity of fulfilling her
promise, but really, after all, she was not to blame; for she did
propose to write to her beloved Evelina to come on to Canaan; but papa
and Mr. Huntington (her husband) would not hear of it; indeed, they
both got almost vexed that she should think of such a thing." * * * *
* " But, as soon as my beloved Evelina gets married, she must appoint
a time at which we can meet at Philadelphia with our husbands, and
compare notes." * * * * * * * "I have a thousand secrets to tell
you about married life; but I must reserve them till we meet. A
thousand kisses to your dear George for me; and tell him, if I were not
a married woman, I should certainly fall in love with him, from your
description f him."
"Well, I declare," said Evelina, as she folded up the letter, "I
could not have believed that Morgiana would have served me so. I would
have died before I would have treated her in the same way."
The great obstacle being now removed, the wedding night was fixed
at the shortest time that it could be to allow the necessary
preparations, which was just three months ahead.
Before these three months rolled away, George became convinced that
he had staked his earthly happiness upon the forlorn hope of reforming
Miss Smith's errors after marriage; but his sense of honour was too
refined to permit him to harbour a thought of breaking the engagement;
and, indeed, so completely had he become enamoured of her, that any
perils seemed preferable to giving her up for ever.
He kept his parents faithfully advised of all the incidents of his
love and courtship, and every letter which he forwarded went like a
serpent into the Eden of peace over which they presided. Their letters
to him never came unembalmed in a mother's tears, and were never read
without the tender response which a mother's tears ever draws from the
eyes of a truly affectionate son.
The night came, and George and Evelina were married.
A round of bridal parties succeeded, every one of which served only
to heighten George's alarms and to depress his spirits. He could not
discover that marriage had abated, in the smallest degree, his wife's
love of general admiration and flattery. The delight which she felt at
the attentions of the young gentlemen was visible to more eyes than
his, as was plainly evinced by the throngs which attended her
wheresoever she moved. Occasionally their assiduities assumed a freedom
which was well calculated to alarm and to inflame one whose notions of
married life were much less refined than those which George had ever
entertained; but there was an apology for them, which he knew he would
be forced to admit, flimsy as it was in truth, namely, "they were only
those special attentions which were due to the queen of a bridal
party." Another consideration forced him to look in silence upon those
liberties. His wife had taken no offence at them. She either
did not repel them at all, or she repelled them in such a good-humoured
way, that she encouraged rather than prevented the repetition of them.
For him, therefore, to have interposed, would have been
considered an act of supererogation.
To the great delight of George, the parties ended, and the young
couple set out on a visit to Lagrange, the residence of George's
parents. On their way thither, Evelina was secluded, of course, from
the gaze of every person but her husband; and her attachment now became
as much too ardent as it had before been too cold. If, at their stages,
he left her for a moment, she was piqued at his coldness or distressed
at his neglect. If he engaged in a conversation with an acquaintance or
a stranger, he was sure to be interrupted by his wife's waiting-maid,
Flora, with "Miss V'lina say, please go da, sir;" and when he went, he
always found her in tears or in a pet at having been neglected so long
by him, "when he knew she had no friend or companion to entertain her
George had been long acquainted with the ladies of the houses at
which they stopped. They all esteemed him, and were all anxious to be
made acquainted with his wife; but she could not be drawn from her
room, from the time she entered a house until she rose to leave it. All
her meals were taken in her room; and George was rebuked by her because
he would not follow her example. It was in vain that he reasoned with
her upon the impropriety of changing his deportment to his old
acquaintances immediately after his marriage. He stated to her that the
change would be attributed to pride; that he should lose a number of
humble but valuable acquaintances, which, to a professional gentleman,
is no small loss. But "she could not understand that a gentleman is at
liberty to neglect his wife for 'humble but valuable acquaintances.' "
When they reached Lagrange, they received as warm a welcome from
George's parents, as parents, labouring under their apprehensions,
could give; but Mary and Martha, having nothing to mar their pleasures
(for they had not been permitted to know the qualifications which
George's last letters had annexed to his first), received her with all
the delight which the best hearts could feel, at welcoming to the
family, in the character of a sister, the beautiful, amiable,
accomplished, intelligent, wealthy Miss Smith. In anticipation of her
coming, the girls had brushed up their history, philosophy, geography,
astronomy, and botany, for her especial entertainment, or, rather, that
they might appear a little at home when their new sister should invite
them to a ramble over the fields of science. The labour answered not
its purpose, however: Evelina would neither invite nor be invited to
any such rambles.
The news of George's arrival at Lagrange with his wife brought many
of his rustic acquaintances to visit him. To many of them George was as
a son or a brother, for he had been acquainted with them from his
earliest years, and he had a thousand times visited their habitations
with the freedom with which he entered his father's. They met him,
therefore, with unrestrained familiarity, and treated his wife as a
part of himself. George had endeavoured to prepare her for the plain
blunt, but honest familiarities of his early friends. He had assured
her that, however rude they might seem, they were perfectly innocent;
nay, they were tokens of guileless friendship; for the natural
disposition of plain unlettered farmers was to keep aloof from "the
quality," as they called the people of the town, and that, by as much
as they overcame this disposition, by so much did they mean to be
understood as evincing favour; but Evelina profited but little by his
The first visitor was old Mr. Dawson, who had dandled George on his
knee a thousand times, and who next to his father, was the sincerest
male friend that George had living.
"Well, Georgy," said the old man, "and you've got married?"
"Yes, Uncle Sammy, and here's my wife; what do you think of her?"
"Why, she's a mighty pretty creater; but you'd better took my
Nance. She'd 'ave made you another sort of wife to this pretty little
"I don't know, sir," said Evelina, a little fiery, "how you can
tell what sort of a wife a person will make whom you never saw. And I
presume Mr. Baldwin is old enough to choose for himself."
now I know
he'd better 'ave took my
Nance," said the old man, with a dry smile. "Georgy, my son, I'm afraid
you've got yourself into bad business; but I wish you much happiness,
my boy. Come, Neighbour Baldwin, let's go take a look at your farm."
"Oh no," said old Mr. Baldwin, "we will not go till I make my
daughter better acquainted with you. She is unused to our country
manners, therefore, does not understand them. Evelina, my dear, Mr.
Dawson is one of our best and kindest neighbours, and you and he must
not break upon your first acquaintance. He was only joking George in
what he said, and had no idea that you would take it seriously."
"Well, sir," said Evelina, "if Mr. Dawson will say that he did not
intend to wound my feelings, I'm willing to forgive him."
"Oh, God love your pretty little soul of you," said the old man, "I
didn't even know you had any feelings; but as to the forgiving
part, why, that's neither here nor there." Here Evelina rose
indignantly and left the room.
"Well, Georgy, my son," continued the old man, "I'm sorry your
wife's so touchy! but you mustn't forget old Daddy Dawson.
Come, my boy, to our house, like you used to, when you, and Sammy, and
Nancy used to sit round the bowl of buttermilk under the big oak that
covered Mammy Dawson's dairy. I always think of poor Sammy when I see
you" (brushing a tear from his eye with the back of his hand). "I'm
obliged to love you, you young dog; and I want to love your wife too,
if she'd let me; but, be that as it may, Sammy's playmate won't forget
Daddy Dawson, will he, George?"
George could only say "Never!" with a filling eye, and the old men
set out for the fields.
Most of the neighbours who came to greet George upon his return to
Lagrange shared Mr. Dawson's fate. One wanted to span Evelina's waist,
for he declared "she was the littlest creater round the waist he ever seed." Another would "buss her, because she was George's
wife, and because it was the first chance he ever had in all his life
to buss 'the quality.' " A third proposed a swap of wives with George;
and all made some remark too blunt for Evelina's refined ear. Having no
tact for turning off these things playfully, and as little disposition
to do so, she repelled them with a town dignity, which soon relieved
her of these intrusions; and less than a week, stopped the visits of
George's first and warmest friends to his father's house.
Her habits, views, and feelings agreeing in nothing with the family
in which she was placed, Evelina was unhappy herself, and made all
around her unhappy. Her irregular hours of retiring and rising, her
dilatoriness in attending her meals, her continual complaints of
indisposition, deranged all the regulations of the family, and begat
such confusion in the household, that even the elder Mrs. Baldwin
occasionally lost her equanimity; so that, when Evelina announced, a
week before the appointed time, that she must return home, the
intelligence was received with pleasure rather than pain.
Upon their return home, George and his lady found a commodious
dwelling handsomely furnished for their reception. Mr. Smith presented
him this in lieu of the check of which he had spoken before the
marriage of his daughter; and though the gift did not redeem the
promise by $14,000, George was perfectly satisfied. Mrs. Smith added to
the donation her own cook and carriage driver. Flora, the maid, had
been considered Evelina's from her infancy. Nothing could have been
more agreeable to George than the news that greeted him on his
arrival, that he was at liberty to name the day when he would conduct
Evelina to his own house; for his last hope of happiness hung upon this
last change of life. He allowed himself but two days after his return
to lay in his store of provisions; and on the third, at four in the
afternoon, he led his wife to their mutual home.
"To this moment, my dear Evelina," said George, as they seated
themselves in their own habitation, "to this moment have I looked
forward for many months with the liveliest interest. I have often
figured to myself the happy hours that we should enjoy under the common
roof, and I hope the hour has arrived when we will unite our endeavours
to realize my fond anticipations. Let us, then, upon the commencement
of a new life, interchange our pledges that we will each exert
ourselves to promote the happiness of the other. In many respects, it
must be acknowledged that our views and dispositions are different; but
they will soon be assimilated by identity of interest, community of
toil, and a frank and affectionate interchange of opinions, if we will
but consent to submit to some little sacrifices in the beginning to
attain this object. Now tell me, candidly and fearlessly, my Evelina,
what would you have me be, and what would you have me do, to answer
your largest wishes from your husband?"
"I would have you," said Evelina, "think more of me than all the
world beside; I would have you the first lawyer in the state; I would
have you overcome your dislike to such innocent amusements as
tea-parties and balls; and I would have you take me to the Springs, or
to New-York, or Philadelphia, every summer. Now what would you have me
"I would have you rise when I do; regulate your servants with
system; see that they perform their duties in the proper way and the
proper time; let all provisions go through your hands; and devote your
spare time to reading valuable works, painting, music, or any other
improving employment or innocent recreation. Be thus, and I 'will think more of you than all the world beside,' 'I
will be the
first lawyer in the state;' and, after a few years, 'you shall visit the North or the Springs every summer, if you desire it.' "
"Lord, if I do all these things you mention, I shall have no time
for reading, music, or painting."
"Yes you will. My mother — "
"Oh, for the Lord's sake, Mr. Baldwin, hush talking about your
mother. I'm sick and tired of hearing you talk of 'my mother' this, and
'my mother' that; and, when I went to your house, I didn't see that she
got along a bit better than my mother, except in her cooking: and that
was only because your mother cooked the meats, and your sisters made
the pastry. I don't see the use of having servants if one must do
"My sisters make the pastry, to be sure; because mother desires
that they should learn how to do these things, that they may better
superintend the doing of them when they get married; and because she
thinks such things should not pass through the hands of servants when
it can be avoided; but my mother never cooks."
"She does, for I saw her lifting off a pot myself."
"She does not — "
Here the entry of the cook stopped a controversy that was becoming
rather warm for the first evening at home.
"I want the keys, Miss 'V'lina, to get out supper," said the cook.
"There they are,
aunt Clary," said Evelina; "try and have
everything very nice."
"My dear, I wouldn't send her to the provisions unattended:
everything depends upon your commencing right — "
"Hush!" said Evelina, with some agitation; "I wouldn't have her
hear you for the world. She'd be very angry if she thought we suspected
her honesty. Ma always gave her up the keys, and she says she never
detected her in a theft in all her life."
"Very well," said George, "we'll see."
After a long waiting, the first supper made its appearance. It
consisted of smoked tea, half baked biscuit, butter, and sliced venison.
"Why," said Evelina, as she sipped her first cup of tea, "this tea
seems to me to be smoked. Here, Flora, throw it out and make some more.
Oh me! the biscuit an't done. Aunt Clary's made quite an unfortunate
beginning. But I didn't want any supper — do you?"
"I can do without it," said George, coldly, "if you can."
"Well, let's not eat any, and that will be the very way to mortify
aunt Clary, without making her mad. To-morrow I'll laugh at her for
cheating us out of our supper; and she won't do so any more. The old
creature has very tender feelings."
"I'll starve for a week to save Clary's feelings," said George, "if
you will only quit aunting her. How can you expect her to
treat you or your orders with respect, when you treat her as your
"Well, really, I can't see any great harm in treating aged people
with respect, even if their skins are black."
"I wish you had thought of that when you were talking to old Mr.
Dawson. I should think he was entitled to as much respect as an
infernal black wench!"
This was the harshest expression that had ever escaped George's
lips. Evelina could not stand it. She left the room, threw herself on a
bed, and burst into tears.
In the course of the night the matter was adjusted.
The next morning George rose with the sun, and he tried to prevail
upon his wife to do the same; but "she could not see what was the use
of her getting up so soon, just to set about doing nothing: and, to
silence all farther importunities then and after upon that score, she
told him flatly she never would consent to rise at that hour."
At half after eight she made her appearance, and breakfast came in.
It consisted of muddy coffee, hard-boiled eggs, and hard-burnt biscuit.
"Why, what has got into aunt Clary," said Evelina "that she cooks
"Why, we mortified her so much, my dear, by eating
no supper," said George, "that we have driven her to the opposite
extreme. Let us now throw the breakfast upon her hands, except the
coffee, and perhaps she'll be mortified back to a medium."
"That's very witty, indeed," said Evelina; "you must have learned
it from the amiable and accomplished Miss Nancy Dawson."
This was an allusion which George could not withstand; and he
reddened to scarlet.
"Evelina," said he, "you are certainly the strangest being that I
ever met with; you are more respectful to negroes than whites, and to
everybody else than your husband."
"Because," returned she, "negroes treat me with more respect than
some whites; and everybody else with more respect than my husband."
George was reluctant to commence tightening the reins of discipline
with his servants for the first few weeks of his mastership: and,
therefore, he bore in silence, but in anger, their idleness, their
insolence, and their disgusting familiarities with his wife. He often
visited the kitchen, unobserved, of nights; and almost always found it
thronged with gay company, revelling in all the dainties of his closet,
smokehouse, sideboard, and pantry. He communicated his discoveries to
his wife, but she found no difficulty in accounting satisfactorily for
all that he had seen. "Clary's husband had always supplied her with
everything she wanted. Flora had a hundred ways of getting money; and
Bill (the carriage-driver) was always receiving little presents from
her and others."
At the end of three weeks
aunt Clary announced that the
barrel of flour was out.
"Now," said George, "I hope you are satisfied that it is upon
your flour, and not upon her husband's, that
gives her entertainments."
"Why, law me!" said Evelina, "I think it has lasted wonderfully.
You recollect ma and pa have been here most every day."
boarded with us," said George, "we could not
have consumed a barrel of flour in three weeks."
In quick succession came the news that the tea, coffee, and sugar
were out; all of which Evelina thought "had lasted wonderfully."
It would be useless to recount the daily differences of George and
his wife. In nothing could they agree; and the consequence was, that,
at the end of six weeks they had come to downright quarrelling; through
all which Evelina sought and received the sympathy of Miss Flora and
About this time the Superior Court commenced its session in the
city; and a hundred like favours, received from the judge and the bar,
imposed upon George the absolute necessity of giving a dinner to his
brethren. He used every precaution to pass it off well. He gave his
wife four days' notice; he provided everything himself, of the best
that the town could afford; he became all courtesy and affection to his
wife, and all respect and cheerfulness to aunt Clary, in the interim.
He promised all the servants a handsome present each if they would
acquit themselves well upon this occasion and charged them all, over
and over, to remember, that the time between two and half past three
was all that the bar could allow to his entertainment; and,
consequently, dinner must be upon the table precisely at two.
The day came and the company assembled. Evelina, attired like a
queen, received them in the drawing-room, and all were delighted with
her. All were cheerful, talkative, and happy. Two o'clock came and no
dinner; a quarter after, and no dinner. The conversation began to flag
a little. Half past two rolled round, and no dinner. Conversation sunk
to temperate, and George rose to intemperate. Three quarters past two
came, but no dinner. Conversation sunk to freezing, and George rose to
At this interesting moment, while he was sauntering every way,
George sauntered near his wife, who was deeply engaged in a
conversation with his brother Paine, a grave, intelligent young man,
and he detected her in the act of repeating, verbatim et
literatim , the pretty sentences which first subdued his heart.
"Good Lord!" muttered George to himself; "Jenkinson, in the Vicar
of Wakefield, with his one sentence of learning revived!"
He rushed out of the room in order to inquire what delayed dinner;
and, on leaving the dining-room, was met at the door by Flora, with two
pale-blue, dry, boiled fowls; boiled almost to dismemberment, upon a
dish large enough to contain a goodly-sized shote; their legs sticking
straight out, with a most undignified straddle, and bowing with a
bewitching grace and elasticity to George with every step that Flora
Behind her followed Billy, with a prodigious roast turkey, upon a
dish that was almost concealed by its contents, his legs extended like
the fowls, the back and sides burned to a crisp, and the breast raw.
The old gentleman was handsomely adorned with a large black twine
necklace; and through a spacious window that, by chance or design, the
cook had left open, the light poured into his vacant cavity gloriously.
George stood petrified at the sight; nor did he wake from his
stupor of amazement until he was roused by a burned round of beef and a
raw leg of mutton making by him for the same port in which the fowls
and turkey had been moored.
He rushed into the kitchen in a fury. "You infernal heifer!" said
he to aunt Clary; "what kind of cooking is this you're setting before
"Eh — eh! Name o' God, Mas George how anybody gwine cook ting
good when you hurry 'em so?"
George looked for something to throw at her head, but fortunately
He returned to the house, and found his wife entertaining the
company with a never-ending sonata on the piano.
Dinner was at length announced, and an awful sight it was when full
spread. George made as good apologies as he could, but his wife was not
in the least disconcerted; indeed, she seemed to assume an air of
self-complaisance at the profusion and richness which crowned her board.
The gentlemen ate but little, owing, as they said, to their having
all eaten a very hearty breakfast that morning. George followed his
guests to the Courthouse, craved a continuance of his cases for the
evening on the ground of indisposition, and it was granted, with an
unaccountable display of sympathy. He returned home, and embarked in a
quarrel with his wife, which lasted until Evelina's exhausted nature
sunk to sleep under it, at three the next morning.
George's whole character now became completely revolutionized.
Universal gloom overspread his countenance. He lost his spirits, his
energy, his life, his temper, his everything ennobling; and he had just
began to surrender himself to the bottle, when an accident occurred
which revived his hopes of happiness with his wife, and determined him
to make one more effort to bring her into his views.
Mr. Smith, by an unfortunate investment in cotton, failed; and,
after a bungling attempt to secrete a few thousand dollars from his
creditors (for he knew George too well to claim his assistance in such
a matter), he was left without a dollar that he could call his own.
Evelina and her parents all seemed as if they would go crazy under the
misfortune; and George now assumed the most affectionate deportment to
his wife, and the most soothing demeanor to her parents. The parents
were completely won to him; and his wife, for once, seemed to feel
towards him as she should. George availed himself of this moment to
make another, and the last attempt, to reform her habits and sentiments.
"My dear Evelina," said he, "we have nothing now to look to but our
own exertions for a support. This, and indeed affluence, lies within
our reach, if we will but seek them in a proper way. You have only to
use industry and care within doors, and I without, to place us, in a
very few years, above the frowns of fortune. We have only to consult
each other's happiness to make each other happy. Come, then, my love,
forgetting our disgraceful bickerings, let us now commence a new life.
Believe me, there is no being on this earth that my heart can love as
it can you, if you will but claim its affections; and you know how to
command them." Thus, at much greater length, and with much more
tenderness, did George address her. His appeal had, for a season, its
desired effect. Evelina rose with him, retired with him, read with him.
She took charge of the keys, dealt out the stores with her own hand,
visited the kitchen; in short, she became everything George could wish
or expect from one of her inexperience. Things immediately wore a new
aspect. George became himself again. He recommenced his studies with
redoubled assiduity. The community saw and delighted in the change, and
the bar began to tremble at his giant strides in his profession. But
alas, his bliss was doomed to a short duration. Though Evelina saw, and
felt, and acknowleged the advantages and blessings of her new course of
conduct, she had to preserve it by a struggle against nature; and, at
the end of three months, nature triumphed over resolution, and she
relapsed into her old habits. George now surrendered himself to drink
and to despair, and died the drunkard's death. At another time I may
perhaps give the melancholy account of his ruin in detail, tracing its
consequences down to the moment at which I am now writing. Should this
time never arrive, let the fate of my poor nephew be a warning to
mothers against bringing up their daughters to be "CHARMING CREATURES."
THE GANDER PULLING.
In the year 1798 I resided in the city of Augusta and, upon visiting
the market-house one morning in that year, my attention was called to
the following notice, stuck upon one of the pillars of the building.
"Thos woo wish To be inform heareof, is heareof notyfide that edwd.
Prator will giv a gander pullin, jis this side of harisburg, on
Satterday of thes pressents munth to All woo mout wish to partak tharof.
"e Prator, thos wishin to purtak will cum yearly, as the pullin
will begin soon.
If I am asked why "jis this side of harisburg" was elected for the
promised feat instead of the city of Augusta, I answer from conjecture,
but with some confidence, because the ground chosen was near the
central point between four rival towns, the citizens of all which "
mout wish to partak tharof;" namely, Augusta, Springfield,
Harrisburg, and Campbellton. Not that each was the rival of all the
others, but that the first and the last were competitors, and each of
the others backed the pretensions of its nearest neighbour. Harrisburg
sided with Campbellton, not because she had any interest in seeing
the business of the two states centre upon the bank of the river,
nearly opposite to her; but because, like the "Union Democratic
Republican Party of Georgia," she thought, after the adoption of the
Federal Constitution, that the several towns of the confederacy should
no longing be "separated" by the distinction of local party; but that,
laying down all former prejudices and jealousies as a sacrifice on the
altar of their country, they should become united in a single body
, for the maintenance of those principles which they deemed essential
to the public welfare.
Springfield, on the other hand, espoused the State Rights' creed.
She admitted that, under the Federal Compact, she ought to love the
sister states very much; but that, under the Social Compact,
she ought to love her own state a little more; and she thought the two
compacts perfectly reconcilable to each other. Instead of the towns of
the several states getting into single bodies to preserve the public welfare, her doctrine was, that they should be kept in
separate bodies to preserve the
private welfare. She
admitted frankly, that, living, as she always had lived, right amid
gullies, vapours, fogs, creeks, and lagoons, she was wholly incapable
of comprehending that expansive kind of benevolence, which taught her
to love people whom she knew nothing about, as much as her next-door
neighbours and friends. Until, therefore, she should learn it from the
practical operation of the Federal Compact, she would stick to the
oldfashioned Scotch love, which she understood perfectly, and "go in"
for Augusta, live or die, hit or miss, right or wrong. As in the days
of Mr. Jefferson, the Springfield doctrines prevailed, Campbellton was
literally nullified; insomuch that, ten years ago, there was
not a house left to mark the spot where once flourished this active,
busy little village. Those who are curious to know where Springfield
stood at the time of which I am speaking, have only to take their
position at the intersection of Broad and Marbury streets, in the city
of Augusta, and they will be in the very heart of old Springfield.
Sixty steps west, and as many east of this position, will measure the
whole length of this Jeffersonian republican village, which never
boasted of more than four dwelling-houses; and Broad-street measures
its width, if we exclude kitchens and stables. And, while upon this
subject, since it has been predicted by a man for whose opinions I
entertain the profoundest respect (especially since the prediction),
that my writings will be read with increased interest a hundred years
to come; and as I can see no good reason, if this be true, why they
should not be read a thousand years hence with more interest, I will
take the liberty of dropping a word here to the curious reader of the
year 1933. He will certainly wish to know the site of Harrisburg
(seeing it is doomed, at no distant period, to share the fate of
Springfield) and of Campbellton.
Supposing, then, that if the great fire in Augusta, on the 3d of
April, 1829, did not destroy that city, nothing will; I select this as
a permanent object.
In 1798, Campbell-street was the western verge of Augusta, a limit
to which it had advanced but a few years before, from Jackson-street.
Thence to Springfield led a large road, now built up on either side,
and forming a continuation of Broad-street. This road was cut across
obliquely by a deep gully, the bed of which was an almost impassable
bog, which entered the road about one hundred yards below
Collock-street on the south, and left it about thirty yards below
Collock-street on the north side of now Broad-street. It was called
Campbell's Gully, from the name of the gentleman through whose
possessions and near whose dwelling it wound its way to the river.
Following the direction of Broad-street from Springfield westward, 1347
yards, will bring you to Harrisburg, which had nothing to boast of over
Springfield but a warehouse for the storage of tobacco, then the staple
of Georgia. Continue the same direction 700 yards, then face to your
right hand, and follow your nose directly across Savannah river, and,
upon ascending the opposite bank, you will be in the busiest part of
Campbellton in 1798. Between Harrisburg and Springfield, and 1143 yards
from the latter, there runs a stream which may be perpetual. At the
time just mentioned, it flowed between banks twelve or fourteen feet
high, and was then called, as it still is, "Hawk's Gully."
Now Mr. Prator, like the most successful politician of the present
day, was on all sides in a doubtful contest; and, accordingly, he laid
off his gander-pulling ground on the nearest suitable unappropriated
spot to the centre point between Springfield and Harrisburg. This was
between Harrisburg and Hawk's Gully, to the south of the road, and
embraced part of the road, but within 100 yards of Harrisburg.
When "Satterday of thes pressents munth" rolled round, I
determined to go to the gander-pulling. When I reached the spot, a
considerable number of persons, of different ages, sexes, sizes, and
complexions, had collected from the rival towns and the country around.
But few females were there, however; and those few were from the lowest
walks of life.
A circular path of about forty yards diameter had already been laid
out; over which, from two posts about ten feet apart, stretched a rope,
the middle of which was directly over the path. The rope hung loosely,
so as to allow it, with the weight of a gander attached to it, to
vibrate in an arc of four or five feet span, and so as to bring the
breast of the gander within barely easy reach of a man of middle
stature upon a horse of common size.
A hat was now handed to such as wished to enter the list; and they
threw into it twenty-five cents each; this sum was the victor's prize.
The devoted gander was now produced; and Mr. Prator, having first
tied his feet together with a strong cord, proceeded to the neck-greasing. Abhorrent as it may be to all who respect the
tenderer relations of life, Mrs. Prator had actually prepared
a gourd of goose-grease for this very purpose. For myself, when
I saw Ned dip his hands into the grease, and commence stroking down the
feathers from breast to head, my thoughts took a melancholy turn. They
dwelt in sadness upon the many conjugal felicities which had probably
been shared between the greasess and the greasee. I
could see him as he stood by her side, through many a chilly day and
cheerless night, when she was warming into life the offspring of their
mutual loves, and repelled, with chivalrous spirit, every invasion of
the consecrated spot which she had selected for her incubation. I could
see him moving with patriarchal dignity by the side of his loved one,
at the head of a smiling, prattling group, the rich reward of their
mutual care, to the luxuries of the meadow or to the recreations of the
pool. And now, alas! an extract from the smoking sacrifice of his bosom
friend was desecrated to the unholy purpose of making his neck "a fit
object" for Cruelty to reach "her quick, unerring fingers at." Ye
friends of the sacred tie! judge what were my feelings when, in the
midst of these reflections, the voice of James Prator thundered on mine
ear, "Darn his old dodging soul; brother Ned! grease his neck till a
fly can't light on it!"
Ned, having fulfilled his brother Jim's request as well as he
could, attached the victim of his cruelty to the rope directly over the
path. On each side of the gander was stationed a man, whose office it
was to lash forward any horse which might linger there for a moment;
for, by the rules of the ring, all pulling was to be done at a brisk
The word was now given for the competitors to mount and take their
places on the ring. Eight appeared: Tall Zubley Zin, mounted upon Sally
Spitfire; Arch Odum, mounted on Bull and Ingons (onions); Nathan
Perdew, on Hellcat; James Dickson, on Nigger; David Williams, on
Gridiron; Fat John Fulger, on Slouch; Gorham Bostwick, on Gimlet; and
Turner Hammond, on 'Possum.
gentlemen," said Commandant Prator, "fall in. All of
you git behind one another, sort o' in a row."
All came into the track very kindly but Sally Spitfire and
Gridiron. The former, as soon as she saw a general movement of horses,
took it for granted there was mischief brewing, and, because she could
not tell where it lay, she concluded it lay everywhere, and therefore
took fright at everything.
Gridiron was a grave horse; but a suspicious eye which he cast to
the right and left, wherever he moved, showed that "he was wide awake,"
and that "nobody better not go footing with him," as his owner
sometimes used to say. He took a sober but rather intense view of
things; insomuch that, in his contemplations, he passed over the track
three times before he could be prevailed upon to stop in it. He stopped
at last, however; and when he was made to understand that this was all
that was required of him for the present, he surrendered his suspicions
at once, with a countenance which seemed plainly to say, "Oh, if this
is all you want, I've no objection to it."
It was long before Miss Spitfire could be prevailed upon to do the
"Get another horse, Zube," said one; "Sal will never do for a
"I won't," said Zube. "If she won't do, I'll make her do. I want a
nag that goes off with a spring; so that, when I get a hold, she'll cut
the neck in two like a steel-trap."
At length Sally was rather flung than coaxed into the track,
directly ahead of Gridiron.
"Now, gentlemen," said the master of the ceremonies, "no man's to
make a grab till all's been once round; and when the first man are got round, then the whole twist and tucking of you grab away as you
come under ("Look here, Jim Fulger! you better not stand too close to
that gander, I tell you"), one after another. Now blaze away!" (the
command for an onset of every kind with people of this order).
Off they went, Miss Sally delighted; for she now thought the whole
parade would end in nothing more nor less than her favourite amusement,
a race. But Gridiron's visage pronounced this the most nonsensical
business that ever a horse of sense was engaged in since the world
For the first three rounds Zubly was wholly occupied in restraining
Sally to her place; but he lost nothing by this, for the gander had
escaped unhurt. On completing his third round, Zube reached forth his
long arm, grabbed the gander by the neck with a firmness which seemed
likely to defy goose-grease, and, at the same instant, he
involuntarily gave Sally a sudden check. She raised her head, which
before had been kept nearly touching her leader's hocks, and for the
first time saw the gander in the act of descending upon her; at the
same moment she received two pealing lashes from the whippers. The way
she now broke for Springfield "is nothing to nobody." As Zube dashed
down the road, the whole Circus raised a whoop after him. This started
about twenty dogs, hounds, curs, and pointers, in full chase of him
(for no one moved without his dog in those days). The dogs alarmed some
belled cattle, which were grazing on Zube's path, just as he reached
them; these joined him, with tails up and a tremendous rattling. Just
beyond these went three tobacco-rollers, at distances of fifty and a
hundred yards apart; each of whom gave Zube a terrified whoop, scream,
or yell as he passed.
He went in and out of Hawk's Gully like a trapball, and was in
Springfield "in less than no time." Here he was encouraged onward by a
new recruit of dogs; but they gave up the chase as hopeless before they
cleared the village. Just beyond Springfield, what should Sally
encounter but a flock of geese! the tribe to which she owed all her
misfortunes. She stopped suddenly, and Zube went over her head with the
last acquired velocity. He was up in a moment, and the activity with
which he pursued Sally satisfied every spectator that he was unhurt.
Gridiron, who had witnessed Miss Sally's treatment with
astonishment and indignation, resolved not to pass between the posts
until the whole matter should be explained to his satisfaction. He
therefore stopped short, and, by very intelligible looks, demanded of
the whippers whether, if he passed between them, he was to be treated
as Miss Spitfire had been? The whippers gave him no satisfaction, and
his rider signified, by reiterated thumps of the heel, that he should
go through whether he would or not. Of these, however, Gridiron seemed
to know nothing. In the midst of the conference, Gridiron's eye lit
upon the oscillating gander, and every moment's survey of it begat in
him a growing interest, as his slowly rising head, suppressed breath,
and projected ears plainly evinced. After a short examination, he
heaved a sigh, and looked behind him to see if the way was clear. It
was plain that his mind was now made up; but, to satisfy the world that
he would do nothing rashly, he took another view, and then wheeled and
went for Harrisbug as if he had set in for a year's running. Nobody
whooped at Gridiron, for all saw that his running was purely the result
of philosophic deduction. The reader will not suppose all this consumed
half the time which has been consumed in telling it, though it might
have been so without interrupting the amusement; for Miss Spitfire's
flight had completely suspended it for a time.
The remaining competitors now went on with the sport. A few rounds
showed plainly that Odum or Bostwick would be the victor; but which, no
one could tell. Whenever either of them came round, the gander's neck
was sure of a severe wrench. Many a half pint of Jamaica was staked
upon them, besides other things. The poor gander withstood many a
strong pull before his wailings ceased. At length, however, they were
hushed by Odum. Then came Bostwick, and broke the neck. The next grasp
of Odum, it was thought, would bear away the head; but it did not. Then
Bostwick was sure of it; but he missed it. Now Odum must surely have
it. All is interest and animation; the horses sweep round with
redoubled speed; every eye is upon Odum; his backers smiling,
Bostwick's trembling. To the rope he comes; lifts his hand; when, lo!
Fat John Fulger had borne it away the second before. All were
astonished, all disappointed, and some were vexed a little; for it was
now clear that, "if it hadn't o' been for his great, fat, greasy paw,"
to use their own language,"Odum would have gained the victory." Others
cursed "that long-legged Zube Zin, who was so high he didn't know when
his feet were cold, for bringing such a nag as Sal Spitfire to a gander
pullen; for if he'd o' been in his place, it would o' flung Bostwick
right where that gourd o' hog's lard (Fulger) was."
Fulger's conduct was little calculated to reconcile them to their
"Come here, Neddy Prater," said he, with a triumphant smile; "let
your Uncle Johnny put his potato stealer (hand) into that hat, and
tickle the chins of them are shiners a little! Oh you little
shining sons o' bitches! walk into your Mas' Johnny's pocket, and
jingle so as Arch Odum and Gory Bostwick may hear you! You hear 'em,
Gory? Boys, don't pull with men any more. I've jist
got my hand in; I wish I had a pond full o' ganders here now, jist to
show how I could make their heads fly. Bet all I've won, you may hang
three upon that rope, and I'll set Slouch at full speed, and take off
the heads of all three the first grab; two with my hands and one with
Thus he went on, but really there was no boasting in all this; it
was all fun; for John knew, and all were convinced that he knew, that
his success was entirely the result of accident. John was really "a
good-natured fellow," and his cavorting had an effect directly
opposite to that which the reader would suppose it had; it reconciled
all to their disappointment save one. I except little Billy Mixen, of
Spirit Creek; who had staked the net proceeds of six quarts of
huckleberries upon Odum, which he had been long keeping for a safe
bet. He could not be reconciled until he fretted himself into
a pretty little piney -woods fight, in which he got whipped;
and then he went home perfectly satisfied. Fulger spent all his
winnings with Prator in treats to the company; made most of them drunk,
and thereby produced four Georgia rotations; after which all
parted good friends.
BEING on a visit to the city of — about ten years ago, my old
friend, Jack De Bathle, gave me an invitation to a ball, of which he
was one of the managers. Jack had been the companion of my childhood,
my boyhood, and my early manhood; and through many a merry dance had we
hopped, and laughed, and tumbled down together in the morning of life.
Dancing was really, in those days, a merry-making business. Except the
minuet, which was introduced only to teach us the graces, and the
congo, which was only to chase away the solemnities of the minuet, it
was all a jovial, heart-stirring, foot-stirring amusement. We had none
of your mathematical cotillons; none of your immodest waltzes; none of
your detestable, disgusting gallopades. The waltz would have
crimsoned the cheek of every young lady who attended a ball in my day;
and, had the gallopade been commenced in the ballroom, it
would have been ended in the street. I am happy to say that
the waltz has met with but very little encouragement in Georgia as yet;
the gallopade with none. Ye fair of my native land! ye daughters of a
modest race! blush them away from the soil, which your mothers honoured
by their example, and consecrated with their ashes. Born to woman's
loftiest destinies, it ill becomes you to stoop from your high estate
to ape the indecencies of Europe's slaves. It is yours to command, not
to obey. Let vice approach you in what form she may — as the handmaid
of wit and talents, the mistress of courts, or the queen of fashion —
fail not to meet her with the frown of indignant virtue and the flush
of offended modesty. There is a majesty in these which has ever
commanded her homage. There is a loveliness in these which will ever
command the admiration of the world. The interest which I feel in the
character of the fair daughters of America is my apology for this sober
Though De Bathle is but two months younger than I am, he still
dances occasionally; and to this circumstance in part, but more
particularly to the circumstance of his being a married man, is to be
ascribed his appointment of manager; the custom now being to have one
third or one half the managers married men. This would be a great
improvement on the management of balls in olden time, could the married
men only manage to keep out of the cardroom. Would they take
the direction of the amusement into their hands, their junior
colleagues would then have an opportunity of sharing the pleasures of
the evening, a privilege which they seldom enjoy as things are now
conducted. However, married men are not appointed with the expectation
that they will perform the duties of the office; but to quiet the
scruples of some half dozen or more "charming creatures," who,
though they never fail to attend a ball, will not condescend to do so
until they are perfectly satisfied it is to be conducted with the
utmost gravity, dignity, decorum, and propriety. For these assurances
they look first to "the face of the paper" (the ball ticket); and if
they do not find on it a goodly member of responsible names (such as,
by reasonable presumption, are well broke to petticoat government),
they protest against it; tell a hundred amiable little fibs to conceal
the cause of their opposition; torture two or three beaux half to death
with suspense, and finally conclude to go "just to keep from giving
offence." But if the endorsers be "potent, grave, and reverend
seniors," schooled as aforesaid, why, then one difficulty is at least
removed; for though it is well known that these are "endorsers without
recourse in the first instance," it is equally well known that they may
be ultimately made liable; for if the juniors fail to fulfil their
engagements, a lady has nothing to do but to walk into the cardroom,
take a senior by the nape of the neck, lead him into the ballroom,
present her ticket with his name upon it in the presence of the
witnesses there assembled, and she is sure of ample satisfaction.
When De Bathle and I reached the ballroom, a large number of
gentlemen had already assembled. They all seemed cheerful and happy.
Some walked in couples up and down the ballroom, and talked with great
volubility; but neither of them understood a word that himself or his
"Ah, sir, how do you know that?"
Because the speakers showed plainly by their looks and actions that
their thoughts were running upon their own personal appearance, and
upon the figure they would cut before the ladies when they should
arrive, and not upon the subject of the discourse. And, furthermore,
their conversation was like that of one talking in his sleep; without
order, sense, or connexion. The hearer always made the speaker repeat
in sentences and half sentences; often interrupting him with "what?"
before he had proceeded three words in a remark; and then laughed
affectedly, as though he saw in the senseless, unfinished sentence a
most excellent joke. Then would come his reply, which could not be
forced into connexion with a word that he had heard; and in the course
of which he was treated with precisely the civility which he had
received. And yet they kept up the conversation with lively interest as
long as I listened to them.
Others employed themselves in commenting good-humouredly upon each
other's dresses and figure, while some took steps — awkwardly.
In the mean time, the three junior managers met and agreed upon the
parts which they were to perform. Herein I thought they were
unfortunate. To Mr. Flirt a bustling, fidgety, restless little man,
about five feet two and a half inches high, was assigned the
comparatively easy task of making out and distributing the numbers. Mr.
Crouch, a good-humoured, sensible, but rather unpolished gentleman,
undertook to attend the carriages, and to transport their precious
treasures to the ballroom, where Mr. Dupree was to receive them, and
see to their safe keeping until the dancing commenced. The parts of the
married men, up to the opening of the ball, was settled by common law.
They were to keep a sharp look-out; lend a helping hand in case of
emergency; drink plenty of wine; see that other gentlemen, particularly
strangers, did the same; and, finally, to give any gentleman who might
have come to the ball encumbered with a little loose change, an
opportunity of relieving himself.
Things were thus arranged, Crouch standing with a group of
gentlemen, of which I was one, in the entry leading to the ballroom,
when Mr. Flirt broke upon us as if the whole town was on fire, and all
the * * * * * * * had risen, with, "Good God, Crouch! there's Mrs.
Mushy's carriage at the door, full of ladies, and not a manager there
to receive them! I'll swear it is too bad!"
"Horrible!" said Crouch; and away he went.
But Mrs. Mushy, with Miss Feedle and Deedle, had reached the foot
of the stairs unattended, before Crouch, or even Flirt, who was
considerable in advance of him, met them. Mrs. Mushy, who was a lady of
very full habit, looked huffishly as Flirt took her hand, and Miss
Feedle and Miss Deedle blushed sarcastically; Flirt made a hundred
apologies, and Crouch looked first at Mrs. Mushy, then at Flirt, and
tittered. "What a lovely figure Mrs. Mushy is!" said he, as he turned
off from delivering his charge to Dupree.
"Oh, Mr. Crouch," said Flirt, "if you begin making your fun of the
ladies already, we'd better break up the ball at once. By Heaven, it's
"Upon my honour, Mr. Flirt," said Crouch. "I think she's beautiful.
I always liked a light and airy figure, particularly for a ballroom."
By this time Dupree had joined us. Flirt left us, obviously in a
pet; but we hardly missed him, before back he rushed from the ballroom,
exclaiming, "Why, gracious Heavens, Dupree! there are those three
ladies sitting in the ballroom, and not a gentleman in the room to
entertain them. Do go and introduce some of the gentlemen to them, if
"Flugens!" said Dupree, "what an oversight!" and off he went for
entertainers. After several ineffectual attempts, he at length
prevailed on Mr. Noozle and Mr. Boozle to be made acquainted with the
Mr. N. seated himself to the right of Miss F., and Mr. B. to the
left of Miss D.; Mrs. M. occupying a seat between the girls, and
looking, for all the world, as if she thought, "Well, this is the last
ball I'll ever attend, unless it's a little better managed." But the
young ladies looked like a May morning as soon as the gentlemen
approached. After a pause of two minutes,
"It's a very pleasant evening," said Mr. Noozle to Miss Feedle.
"Delightful," said Miss Feedle to Mr. Noozle.
"It's a delightful evening," said Miss Deedle to Mr. Boozle.
"Very pleasant," said Mr. Boozle to Miss Deedle.
"I thought there were some
married managers of the ball,"
said Mrs. Mushy, emphatically. Here ensued a long pause.
"Are you fond of dancing?" said Mr. Noozle.
"Ah! what's that you say, Noodle?" said Boozle; "you are not fond
of dancing! Come, come, that'll never do. You tip the pigeon-wing too
well for that."
"You quite misapprehend me, sir," returned Mr. Noozle. "Mine was
not a declaration touching in the remotest degree my personal
predilections or antipathies, but a simple interrogatory to Miss
Feedle. No, sir; though I cannot lay claim to the proficiency of
Noverre in the saltant art, I am, nevertheless, extravagantly fond of
dancing; too much so, I fear, for one who has but just commenced the veginti lucubrationes annorum, as that inimitable and
fascinating expositor of the elements of British jurisprudence, Sir
William Blackstone, observes. To reach these high attainments in
forensic — "
Here the young gentlemen were forced to resign their seats to a
number of ladies who now entered the ballroom.
"What an intelligent young gentleman!" said Miss Feedle. "I declare
I must set my cap for him."
"I think the other much the most interesting of the two," said Miss
Deedle. "He's too affected, and too fond of showing off his learning.
What did he call that 'inimitable expositor?' Jinny Crashionis."
The seats were soon filled with ladies; almost all of whom (except
Mrs. Mushy) entered the room in the same style, which seemed to have
been strictly copied from the movement of the kildee. They took their
seats with precisely the motion with which the school girls in my
younger days used to make "cheeses," as they called them, with
The musicians were all blacks, but neatly dressed. The band
consisted of three performers on the violin, one on the clarinet, one
on the tambourine, and one on the triangle.
The ladies ceased coming, and nothing seemed now wanting to begin
the amusement but the distribution of the numbers; but Mr. Flirt was
running up and down stairs every minute after — no one knew what; and
with great anxiety — no one knew why. He would enter the room, look
the ladies all over, then down he would go; then return and go through
the same evolutions. The band struck up a spirit-stirring tune, in
which the tambourine player distinguished himself. For dignified
complaisancy of countenance, under his own music, he rivalled Mr.
Jenkins; and he performed the rattlesnake note with his middle finger
in a style which threw Miss Crump entirely in the shade. The band
ceased, and the inquiry became general, "Why doesn't the drawing
begin?" but Mr. Flirt still kept up his anxious movements.
"In the name of sense, Flirt," said Crouch, impatiently, as the
little man was taking a third survey of the ladies, "what are you
bobbing up and down stairs for? Why don't you distribute the tickets?"
"Oh," said Flirt, "it's early yet. Let's wait for Miss Gilt and
Miss Rino. I know they're coming, for Mr. Posey and Mr. Tulip told me
they saw them dressed, and their carriages at the door, an hour ago."
"Blast Miss Gilt and Miss Rino!" returned Crouch. "Is the whole
company to be kept waiting for them? Now, sir, if the tickets are not
handed round in three minutes, I'll announce to the company that Mr.
Flirt will permit no dancing until Miss Gilt and Miss Rino shall think
proper to honour us with their presence."
"Oh, zounds!" said Flirt, "I'm not waiting for them. I thought it
was too early to begin the drawing. It's quite unfashionable in
New-York to commence drawing before 9 o'clock." (Miss R.'s father was
computed at a cool hundred and fifty, and Miss G.'s at a round hundred
In a few minutes the tickets were distributed, and Mr. Flirt
proceeded to call, "No. 1 — First Cotillon," with most
imposing majesty. Then numbers 2, 3, and 4 of the same; then No. 1, of
the second, and so on.
Five sets of cotillons could occupy the floor at a time; and Flirt
had just called No. 2 of the fifth, when Miss Rino entered the room,
and immediately afterward Miss Gilt. Flirt had put two supernumerary
tickets in the hat, in anticipation of their coming; and, forgetting
everything else, he suspended the calling, and rushed to deliver them,
as soon as the ladies made their appearance.
He went to Miss Rino first, as she entered first but she was
obviously piqued at seeing the sets on the floor before her arrival.
She refused to take a number; declaring (very sweetly) that she left
home with no idea of dancing. Flirt insisted, earnestly and prettily,
upon her taking a number; but she hesitated looked in the hat, then
looked at Flirt bewitchingly, and declared she did not wish to dance.
In the mean time Miss Gilt began to feel herself slighted, and she
said, in a pretty audible tone, "As for her part, she would like very
well to draw a number if she could be permitted to do so." Several
gentlemen who had gathered around her hastened to Flirt to remind him
of the indignity which he was offering to Miss Gilt; but, before they
reached him, Miss Rino drew No. 3 of the fifth cotillon from the hat.
Unfortunately, Crouch's patience had worn out just before Miss R.
made up her mind to take a ticket; and he took the office which Flirt
had abdicated. He called No. 3 twice, but the call was not responded
to. He then called No. 4, when Miss Jones appeared and took her place.
He next called No. 1 of the sixth set, when a lady appeared, which
completed the cotillon. The last lady had but just taken her place,
when Miss Rino, led on by Mr. Noozle, advanced, and announced that hers
was No. 3 of the fifth set. Miss Jones was instinctively retiring from
the august presence of Miss Rino, when she was stopped by Crouch, with,
"keep your place, Miss Jones; I think you are entitled to it."
"Isn't this No. 3 of the fifth cotillon?" said Miss Rino, holding
out her ticket to Mr. Crouch.
"Yes, miss," said Crouch, "but I think it has forfeited its place.
Indeed, I do not think it was even drawn when Miss Jones took her
This drew from Miss Rino the expression of countenance which
immediately precedes a sneeze.
"Upon every principle of equity and justice," said Mr. Boozle,
"Miss Rino is entitled to — "
"Music!" said Crouch.
"Hands round!" said the fiddler; and the whole band struck into
something like "The Dead March."
"This matter shall not end here," said Noozle, as he led Miss Rino
back to her seat.
"Oh, Mr. Noozle," returned Miss Rino, "don't think anything of it.
I declare I had not the least wish in the world to dance. Surely you
would not object to anything the polite and accomplished
Mr. Crouch would do!"
Noozle walked the floor in portentous abstraction, wiped his face
with terrific emphasis, and knocked his hair back with the slap
The ladies who were not dancing became alarmed and sedate (Miss
Gilt excepted); the gentlemen collected in groups, and carried on an
animated conversation. As all but myself, who could give a correct
version of the affair, were engaged in the dance, the Noozle party had
gained over to their side most of the company present before the dance
ended. After various inquiries, rumours, and corrections, the company
generally settled down upon the following statement, as confirmed by
the joint testimony of Rino, Flirt, and Noozle.
"Crouch had an old spite against Miss Rino for nothing at all;
began cursing and abusing her because she was not the first lady in the
room; refused to wait two minutes for her arrival; as soon as he saw
her enter the ballroom, ursurped Mr. Flirt's appointment, and commenced
calling the numbers on purpose to cut her out. She, seeing his object,
snatched up a number and rushed to her place; but it was occupied by
Miss Jones; who, seeing the superiority of her claims, offered to give
way, and was actually retiring, when Crouch seized her by the arm,
jerked her back, and said, 'Keep your place, miss! You're entitled
to it, if Miss Rino has got the number; and you shall have it.' And
when Mr. Noozle was pleading with him just to look at Miss Rino's
ticket, he just turned upon his heel and called for the music." This
was all reported to Crouch, as confirmed by the trio before mentioned.
He pronounced it all an infamous lie, from beginning to end, and was
with difficulty restrained from going immediately after Flirt, to pick
him up, as he said, and wear him out upon Noozle.
As soon as the first cotillon ended, the Crouch party began to gain
ground; but not without warm words between several gentlemen, and a
general depression of spirits through the company.
The dancing of the ladies was, with few exceptions, much after the
same fashion. I found not the least difficulty in resolving it into the
three motions of a turkey-cock strutting, a sparrow-hawk lighting, and
a duck walking. Let the reader suppose a lady beginning a strut at her
own place, and ending it (precisely as does the turkey-cock) three feet
nearer the gentleman opposite her; then giving three sparrow-hawk bobs,
and then waddling back to her place like a duck; and he will have a
pretty correct idea of their dancing. Not that the three movements were
blended at every turn of the dance, but that one or more of the three
answered to every turn. The strut prevailed most in balancing; the
bobs, when balanced to; and the waddle, when going round. To all this
Mrs. Mushy was an exception. When she danced, every particle of her
danced, in spite of herself.
There was as little variety in the gentlemen's dancing as there was
in the ladies'. Any one who has seen a gentleman clean mud off his
shoes on a door mat, has seen nearly all of it; the principal
difference being, that some scraped with a pull of the foot, some with
a push, and some with both.
"I suppose," said I to a gentleman, "they take no steps because the
music will not admit of them?"
"Oh no," said he; "it's quite ungenteel to take steps." I thought
of the wag's remarks about Miss Crump's music. "If this be their dancing," thought I, "what must their
A splendid supper was prepared at twelve o'clock; and the young
ladies ate almonds, raisins, apples, oranges, jelly, sillabub, custard,
candy, sugar-plums, kisses and cake, as if they had been owing them an
old grudge. But the married gentlemen did not come up to supper.
"And how did the quarrel end?"
"Oh; I had like to have forgot the
denouément of the
A correspondence opened the next morning between the parties, in
which Noozle was diffuse and Crouch laconic. They once came this near
an amicable adjustment of the difference. Noozle's second (for the
fashion is, for the principals to get into quarrels, and for the
seconds to get them out) agreed, if Crouch would strike the word "it"
out of one of his letters, his friend would be perfectly satisfied.
Mr. Crouch's second admitted that the removal of the word would not
change the sense of the letter the least; but that Mr. Crouch, having
put his life and character in his hands, he felt bound to protect them
with the most scrupulous fidelity; he could not, therefore, consent to
expunge the objectionable word, unless the challenge were withdrawn. To
show, however, his reluctance to the shedding of blood, and to acquit
his friend, in the eyes of the public, of all blame, he would take it
upon himself to say, that if Mr. Noozle would withdraw his objections
to the "t," Mr. Crouch should expunge the "i." This proposition was
rejected; but, in return, it was submitted, that if Mr. Crouch would
expunge the "t," the "i" might remain. To which it was replied, that
the alteration would convert the whole sentence into nonsence; making
it read "i is," instead of "it is," &c. Here the seconds
separated, and soon after the principals met; and Crouch shot Noozle,
in due form and according to the latest fashion, through the knees. I
went to see him after he had received his wound; and, poor fellow, he
suffered dreadful tortures. So much, said I, for a young lady's
lingering from a ball an hour too long, in order to make herself
THE MOTHER AND HER CHILD.
WHENCE comes the gibberish which is almost invariably used by mothers
and nurses to infants? Take, for example, the following, which will
answer the two-fold purpose of illustrating my idea and of exhibiting
one of the peculiarities of the age.
A few days ago I called to spend an hour in the afternoon with Mr.
Slang, whose wife is the mother of a child about eight months old.
While I was there, the child in the nurse's arms, in an adjoining
room, began to cry.
"You Rose," said Mrs. Slang, "quiet that child!" Rose walked with
it, and sang to it, but it did not hush.
"You Rose! if you do not quiet that child, I lay I make you."
"I is tried, ma'am," said Rose, "an' he wouldn't get hushed." (
Child cries louder.)
"Fetch him to me, you good-for-nothing hussy you. What's the matter
with him?" reaching out her arms to receive him.
"I dun know, ma'am."
"Nhei — nhun — nho — nha'am!" (mocking and grinning at Rose
As Rose delivered the child, she gave visible signs of dodging just
as the child left her arms; and, that she might not be disappointed,
Mrs. Slang gave her a box, in which there seemed to be no anger mixed
at all, and which Rose received as a matter of course, without
even changing countenance under it.
"Da den!" said Mrs. Slang; "come elong e muddy (mother). Did nassy
Yosey (Rose) pague muddy thweety chilluns!" (children) — pressing the
child to her bosom, and rocking it backward and forward tenderly.
"Muddins will whippy ole nassy Yosey. Ah! you old uggy Yosey!" (
knocking at Rose playfully.)
"Da den; muddy did whippy bad Yosey." (Child continues crying
"Why, what upon earth ails the child? Rose, you've hurt this child
somehow or other!"
"No, ma'am, 'cla' I didn't; I was just sitt'n down dar in the
rock'n-chair 'long side o' Miss Nancy's bureau, an' wasn't doin'
nothin' 't all to him, jis playin' wid him, and he jis begin to cry
heself, when nobody wasn't doin' nothin' 't all to him, and nobody
wa'n't in dar nuther sept jis me and him, and I was — "
"Thing — nhing — nhing — and I expect you hit his head
against the bureau."
"Let muddy see where ole bad Yosey knocky heady 'gin de bureaus.
Muddy will see," taking off the child's cap, and finding
nothing. (Child cries on.)
"Muddy's baby was hongry. Dat was what ails muddy's darling,
thweety ones. Was cho hongry, an' nobody would givy litty darling any
sings 't all for eaty?" (loosing her frock bosom.) "No, nobody
would gim thweety ones any sings fo' eat 't all." (Offers the breast
to the child, who rejects it, rolls over, kicks, and screams worse than
"Hush! you little brat! I believe it's nothing in the world but
crossness. Hush!" (shaking it), "hush, I tell you. (Child
cries to the NE PLUS ULTRA.)
"Why surely a pin must stick the child. Yes, was e bad pin did
ticky chilluns. Let muddy see where de uggy pin did ticky dear prettous
creter" (examining). "Why no, it isn't a pin. Why what can be
the matter with the child! It must have the cholic, surely. Rose, go
bring me the paregoric off the mantelpiece. Yes, muddy's baby did hab e
tolic. Dat was what did ail muddy's prettous darly baby." (Pressing
it to her bosom, and rocking it. Child cries on.)
Rose brought the paregoric, handed it, dodged, and got her
expectations realized as before.
"Now go bring me the sugar, and some water."
Rose brought them, and delivered both without the customary reward;
for at that instant, the child, being laid perfectly still on the lap,
The paregoric was administered, and the child received it with only
a whimper now and then. As soon as it received the medicine, the mother
raised it up and it began to cry.
"Why, Lord help my soul, what's the matter with the child! What
have you done to him, you little hussy?" (rising and walking towards
" 'Cla,'missis, I eint done noth'n' 't all; was jis sittin' down da
by Miss Nancy's bu — "
"You lie, you slut" (hitting her a passing slap), "I know
you've hurt him. Hush, my baby" (singing the Coquet), "don't you
cry, your sweetheart will come by'm'by, da de dum dum dum day, da de
dum diddle dum dum day." (Child cries on.)
"Lord help my soul and body, what can be the matter with my baby!" (
tears coming in her own eyes.) "Something's the matter with it, I
know it is" (laying the child on her lap, and feeling its arms, to
see whether it pinched at the touch of any particular part). But
the child cried less while she was feeling it than before.
"Yes, dat was it; wanted litty arms yubb'd. Mud will yub its sweet
little arms." (Child begins again.)
"What upon earth can make my baby cry so!" rising and walking to
the window. (Stops at the window, and the child hushes.)
"Yes, dat was it: did want to look out 'e windys. See the petty
chickens. O-o-o-h! look at the beauty, rooster!! Yonder's old aunt
Betty! See old aunt Betty, pickin' up chips. Yes, ole aunt Betty,
pickin'up chip fo' bake bicky (biscuit) fo' good chilluns. Good aunt
Betty fo' make bicky fo' sweet baby's supper." (Child begins again
"Hoo-o-o! see de windy!" (knocking on the window. Child screams
"You Rose, what have you done to this child! You little hussy you,
if you don't tell me how you hurt him, I'll whip you as long as I can
"Missis, I 'cla' I never done noth'n' 't all to him, I was jis
sett'n' down da by Miss Nancy's bu — "
"If you say 'Miss Nancy's bureau' to me again, I'll stuff
Miss Nancy's bureau down your throat, you little lying slut. I'm just
as sure you've hurt him as if I'd seen you. How did you hurt him?"
Here Rose was reduced to a
non plus; for, upon the
peril of having a bureau stuffed down her throat, she dare not repeat
the oft-told tale, and she knew no other. She therefore stood mute.
"Julia," said Mr. Slang, "bring the child to me, and let me see if
I can discover the cause of his crying."
Mr. Slang took the child, and commenced a careful examination of
it. He removed its cap, and beginning at the crown of its head, he
extended the search slowly and cautiously downward, accompanying the
eye with the touch of the finger. He had not proceeded far in this way,
before he discovered in the right ear of the child a small feather, the
cause, of course, of all its wailing. The cause removed, the child soon
changed its tears to smiles, greatly to the delight of all, and to none
more than to Rose.
THE DEBATING SOCIETY.
THE following is not strictly a "Georgia Scene;" but, as
Georgians were the chief actors in it, it may perhaps be introduced
with propriety in these sketches.
About three-and-twenty years ago, at the celebrated school in W —
n, was formed a Debating Society, composed of young gentlemen between
the ages of seventeen and twenty-two. Of the number were two, who,
rather from uncommon volubility than from any superior gifts or
acquirements which they possessed over their associates, were, by
common consent, placed at the head of the fraternity. At least this was
true of one of them: the other certainly had higher claims to his
distinction. He was a man of the highest order of intellect, who,
though he has since been known throughout the Union as one of the
ablest speakers in the country, seems to me to have added but little to
his powers in debate since he passed his twenty-second year. The name
of the first was Longworth, and M'Dermot was the name of the last. They
were congenial spirits, warm friends, and classmates at the time of
which I am speaking.
It was a rule of the society, that every member should speak upon
the subjects chosen for discussion, or pay a fine; and as all the
members valued the little stock of change with which they were
furnished more than they did their reputation for oratory, not a fine
had been imposed for a breach of this rule from the organization of the
society to this time.
The subjects for discussion were proposed by the members and
selected by the president, whose prerogative it was also to arrange the
speakers on either side at his pleasure; though, in selecting the
subjects, he was influenced not a little by the members, who gave their
opinions freely of those which were offered.
It was just as the time was approaching when most of the members
were to leave the society, some for college, and some for the busy
scenes of life, that M'Dermot went to share his classmate's bed for a
night. In the course of the evening's conversation, the society came
upon the tapis. "Mac," said Longworth, "wouldn't we have rare sport if
we could impose a subject upon the society which has no sense in it,
and hear the members speak upon it?"
"Zounds," said M'Dermot, "it would be the finest fun in the world.
Let's try it, at all events; we can lose nothing by the experiment."
A sheet of foolscap was immediately divided between them, and they
industriously commenced the difficult task of framing sentences, which
should possess the form of a debatable question, without a
particle of the substance. After an hour's toil, they at length
exhibited the fruits of their labour, and, after some reflection and
much laughing, they selected from about thirty subjects proposed, the
following, as most likely to be received by the society:
"WHETHER, AT PUBLIC ELECTIONS, SHOULD THE VOTES OF FACTION
PREDOMINATE BY INTERNAL SUGGESTIONS OR THE BIAS OF JURISPRUDENCE?
Longworth was to propose it to the society, and M'Dermot was to
advocate its adoption. As they had every reason to suppose, from the
practice of the past, that they would be placed at the head of the list
of disputants, and on opposite sides, it was agreed between them, in
case the experiment should succeed, that they would write off and
interchange their speeches, in order that each might quote literally
from the other, and thus seem, at least, to understand each
The day at length came for the triumph or defeat of the project;
and several accidental circumstances conspired to crown it with
success. The society had entirely exhausted their subjects; the
discussion of the day had been protracted to an unusual length, and the
horns of the several boarding houses began to sound just as it ended.
It was at this auspicious moment that Longworth rose and proposed his
subject. It was caught at with rapture by M'Dermot, as being decidedly
the best that had ever been submitted; and he wondered that none of the
members had never thought of it before.
It was no sooner proposed, than several members exclaimed that they
did not understand it; and demanded an explanation from the mover.
Longworth replied that there was no time then for explanations, but
that either himself or Mr. M'Dermot would explain it at any other time.
Upon the credit of the
subject was accepted; and, under pretence of economizing time (but
really to avoid a repetition of the question), Longworth kindly offered
to record it for the secretary. This labour ended, he announced that he
was prepared for the arrangement of the disputants.
"Put yourself," said the president, "on the affirmative, and Mr.
M'Dermot on the negative."
"The subject," said Longworth, "cannot well be resolved into an
affirmative and negative. It consists, more properly, of two
conflicting affirmatives; I have therefore drawn out the heads under
which the speakers are to be arranged, thus:
" Internal Suggestions. Bias of Jurisprudence."
"Then put yourself Internal Suggestions, Mr. M'Dermot the other
side; Mr. Craig on your side, Mr. Pentigall the other side," and so on.
M'Dermot and Longworth now determined that they would not be seen
by any other member of the society during the succeeding week, except
at times when explanations could not be asked, or when they were too
busy to give them. Consequently, the week passed away without any
explanations; and the members were summoned to dispose of the important
subject, with no other lights upon it than those which they could
collect from its terms. When they assembled, there was manifest alarm
on the countenances of all but two of them.
The society was opened in due form, and Mr. Longworth was called on
to open the debate. He rose and proceeded as follows:
"Mr. President— The subject selected for this day's
discussion is one of vast importance, pervading the profound depths of
psychology, and embracing within its comprehensive range all that is
interesting in morals, government, law, and politics. But, sir, I shall
not follow it through all its interesting and diversified
ramifications, but endeavour to deduce from it those great and
fundamental principles, which have direct bearing upon the antagonist
positions of the disputants; confining myself more immediately to its
psychological influence, when exerted, especially upon the votes of
faction: for here is the point upon which the question mainly
turns. In the next place, I shall consider the effects of those
'suggestions' emphatically termed 'internal' when applied to
the same subject. And, in the third place, I shall compare these
effects with 'the bias of jurisprudence,' considered as the only resort
in times of popular excitement; for these are supposed to exist by the
very terms of the question.
"The first head of this arrangement, and indeed the whole subject
of dispute, has already been disposed of by this society. We have
discussed the question, 'Are there any innate maxims?' and with that
subject and this there is such an intimate affinity, that it is
impossible to disunite them, without prostrating the vital energies of
both, and introducing the wildest disorder and confusion, where, by the
very nature of things, there exists the most harmonious coincidences
and the most happy and euphonic congenialities. Here then might I rest,
Mr. President, upon the decision of this society with perfect
confidence. But, sir, I am not forced to rely upon the inseparable
affinities of the two questions for success in this dispute, obvious as
they must be to every reflecting mind. All history, ancient and modern,
furnish examples corroborative of the views which I have taken of this
deeply interesting subject. By what means did the renowned poets,
philosophers, orators, and statesmen of antiquity gain their
immortality? Whence did Milton, Shakspeare, Newton, Locke, Watts,
Paley, Burke, Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and a host of others whom I might
name, pluck their never-fading laurels? I answer boldly, and without
the fear of contradiction, that, though they all reached the temple of
Fame by different routes, they all passed through the broad vista of '
internal suggestions.' The same may be said of Jefferson, Madison,
and many other distinguished personages of our own country.
"I challenge the gentlemen on the other side to produce examples
like these in support of their cause."
Mr. Longworth pressed these profound and logical views to a length
to which our limits will not permit us to follow him, and which the
reader's patience would hardly bear, if they would. Perhaps, however,
he will bear with us while we give the conclusion of Mr. Longworth's
remarks: as it was here that he put forth all his strength:
— Let the bias of jurisprudence
predominate, and how is it possible (considering it merely as extending
to those impulses which may with propriety be termed a bias),
how is it possible for a government to exist whose object is the public
good! The marble-hearted marauder might seize the throne of civil
authority, and hurl into thraldom the votaries of rational liberty.
Virtue, justice, and all the nobler principles of human nature would
wither away under the pestilential breath of political faction, and an
unnerved constitution be left to the sport of demagogue and parasite.
Crash after crash would be heard in quick succession, as the strong
pillars of the republic give way, and Despotism would shout in hellish
triumph amid the crumbling ruins. Anarchy would wave her bloody sceptre
over the devoted land, and the bloodhounds of civil war would lap the
crimson gore of our most worthy citizens. The shrieks of women and the
screams of children would be drowned amid the clash of swords and the
cannon's peal: and Liberty, mantling her face from the horrid scene,
would spread her golden-tinted pinions, and wing her flight to some
far-distant land, never again to revisit our peaceful shores. In vain
should we then sigh for the beatific reign of those 'suggestions' which
I am proud to acknowledge as peculiarly and exclusively 'internal.' "
Mr. M'Dermot rose promptly at the call of the president, and
proceeded as follows:
"Mr. President— If I listened unmoved to the very laboured
appeal to the passions which has just been made, it was not because I
am insensible to the powers of eloquence; but because I happen to be
blessed with the small measure of sense which is necessary to
distinguish true eloquence from the wild ravings of an unbridled
imagination. Grave and solemn appeals, when ill-timed and misplaced,
are apt to excite ridicule: hence it was that I detected myself more
than once in open laughter during the most pathetic parts of Mr.
Longworth's argument, if so it can be called. In the midst of
'crashing pillars,' 'crumbling ruins,' 'shouting despotism,' 'screaming
women,' and 'flying Liberty,' the question was perpetually recurring to
me, what has all this to do with the subject of dispute? I will not
follow the example of that gentleman. It shall be my endeavour to clear
away the mist which he has thrown around the subject, and to place it
before the society in a clear, intelligible point of view: for I must
say, that, though his speech 'bears strong marks of the pen'
(sarcastically), it has but few marks of sober reflection. Some of it,
I confess, is very intelligible and very plausible; but most of it, I
boldly assert, no man living can comprehend. I mention this for the
edification of that gentleman (who is usually clear and forcible), to
teach him that he is most successful when he labours least.
— The gentleman, in opening the debate,
stated that the question was one of vast importance; pervading the
profound depths of psychology, and embracing within its ample
range the whole circle of arts and sciences. And really, sir, he has
verified his statement; for he has extended it over the whole moral and
physical world. But, Mr. President, I take leave to differ from the
gentleman at the very threshold of his remarks. The subject is one
which is confined within very narrow limits. It extends no farther than
to the elective franchise, and is not even commensurate with this
important privilege: for it stops short at the vote of faction.
In this point of light the subject comes within the grasp of the most
common intellect: it is plain, simple, natural, and intelligible. Thus
viewing it, Mr. President, where does the gentleman find in it, or in
all nature besides, the original of the dismal picture which he has
presented to the society? It loses all its interest, and becomes
supremely ridiculous. Having thus, Mr. President, divested the subject
of all obscurity; having reduced it to those few elements with which we
are all familiar, I proceed to make a few deductions from the premises,
which seem to me inevitable, and decisive of the question. I lay it
down as a self-evident proposition, that faction in all its forms is
hideous; and I maintain, with equal confidence, that it never has been
nor never will be restrained by those suggestions which the gentleman '
emphatically terms internal.' No, sir, nothing short of the bias,
and the very strong bias too, of jurisprudence, or the potent energies
of the sword, can restrain it. But, sir, I shall here, perhaps, be
asked, whether there is not a very wide difference between a turbulent,
lawless faction, and the vote of faction? Most unquestionably
there is; and to this distinction I shall presently advert, and
demonstrably prove that it is a distinction which makes altogether in
Thus did Mr. M'Dermot continue to dissect and expose his
adversary's argument, in the most clear, conclusive, and masterly
manner, at considerable length. But we cannot deal more favourably by
him than we have dealt by Mr. Longworth. We must therefore dismiss him
after we shall have given the reader his concluding remarks. They were
"Let us now suppose Mr. Longworth's principles brought to the test
of experiment. Let us suppose his language addressed to all mankind.
'We close the temples of justice as useless; we burn our codes of laws
as worthless; and we substitute in their places the more valuable
restraints of internal suggestions. Thieves, invade not your
neighbour's property: if you do, you will be arraigned before the
august tribunal of conscience. Robbers, stay your lawless hand;
or you will be visited with the tremendous penalties of psychology
. Murderers, spare the blood of your fellow-creature; or you will be
exposed to the excruciating tortures of innate maxims — when it
shall be discovered that there are any.' Mr. President, could there
be a broader license to crime than this? Could a better plan be devised
for dissolving the bands of civil society? It requires not the gift of
prophecy to foresee the consequences of these novel and monstrous
principles. The strong would tyrannize over the weak; the poor would
plunder the rich; the servant would rise above the master; the drones
of society would fatten upon the hard earnings of the industrious.
Indeed, sir, industry would soon desert the land; for it would have
neither reward nor encouragement. Commerce would cease; arts and
sciences would languish; all the sacred relations would be dissolved,
and scenes of havoc, dissolution, and death ensue, such as never will
visit it until mankind learn to repose their destinies upon 'those
suggestions emphatically termed internal.' From all these evils
there is a secure retreat behind the brazen wall of the 'bias of
The gentleman who was next called on to engage in the debate was
John Craig; a gentleman of good hard sense, but who was utterly
incompetent to say a word upon a subject which he did not understand.
He proceeded thus:
"Mr. President— When this subject was proposed, I candidly
confessed I did not understand it, and I was informed by Mr. Longworth
and Mr. M'Dermot that either of them would explain it at any leisure
moment. But, sir, they seem to have taken very good care, from that
time to this, to have no leisure moment. I have inquired of both of
them repeatedly for an explanation; but they were always too busy to
talk about it. Well, sir, as it was proposed by Mr. Longworth, I
thought he would certainly explain it in his speech; but I understood
no more of his speech than I did of the subject. Well, sir, I thought I
should certainly learn something from Mr. M'Dermot; especially as he
promised, at the commencement of his speech, to clear away the mist
that Mr. Longworth had thrown about the subject, and to place it in a
clear, intelligible point of light. But, sir, the only difference
between his speech and Mr. Longworth's is, that it was not quite as
flighty as Mr. Longworth's. I couldn't understand head nor tail of it.
At one time they seemed to argue the question as if it were this: 'Is
it better to have law or no law!' At another, as though it was, 'Should
faction be governed by law, or be left to their own consciences?' But
most of the time they argued it as if it were just what it seems to be
— a sentence without sense or meaning. But, sir, I suppose its
obscurity is owing to my dulness of apprehension; for they appeared to
argue it with great earnestness and feeling, as if they understood it.
"I shall put my interpretation upon it, Mr. President, and argue it
" 'WHETHER, AT PUBLIC ELECTIONS' — that is, for members of
Congress, members of the Legislature, &c., 'SHOULD THE VOTES of faction' — I don t know what 'faction' has got to do with
it; and therefore I shall throw it out. 'SHOULD THE VOTES PREDOMINATE,
BY INTERNAL SUGGESTIONS OR THE BIAS' — I don't know what the article
is put in here for. It seems to me it ought to be,
by 'jurisprudence' or law. In short, Mr. President, I
understand the question to be, should a man vote as he pleases, or
should the law say how he should vote?"
Here Mr. Longworth rose and observed, that though Mr. Craig was on
his side, he felt it due to their adversaries to state, that this was
not a true exposition of the subject. This exposition settled the
question at once on his side; for nobody would for a moment contend
that the law should declare how men should vote. Unless it be
confined to the vote of faction and the bias of
jurisprudence, it was no subject at all. To all this Mr. M'Dermot
signified his unqualified approbation; and seemed pleased with the
candour of his opponent.
"Well," said Mr. Craig, "I thought it was impossible that any one
should propose such a question as that to the society; but will Mr.
Longworth tell us, if it does not mean that, what does it mean? for I
don't see what great change is made in it by his explanation."
Mr. Longworth replied, that if the remarks which he had just made,
and his argument, had not fully explained the subject to Mr. Craig, he
feared it would be out of his power to explain it.
"Then," said Mr. Craig, "I'll pay my fine, for I don't understand a
word of it."
The next one summoned to the debate was Mr. Pentigall. Mr.
Pentigall was one of those who would never acknowledge his ignorance of
anything which any person else understood; and that Longworth and
M'Dermot were both masters of the subject, was clear, both from their
fluency and seriousness. He therefore determined to understand it, at
all hazards. Consequently, he rose at the president's command with
considerable self-confidence. I regret, however, that it is impossible
to commit Mr. Pentigall's manner to paper, without which his
remarks lose nearly all their interest. He was a tall, handsome man; a
little theatric in his manner, rapid in his delivery, and singular in
his pronunciation. He gave to the e and i of our
language the sound of u; at least his peculiar intonations of
voice seemed to give them that sound; and his rapidity of utterance
seemed to change the termination "tion" into "ah." With
all his peculiarities, however, he was a fine fellow. If he was
ambitious, he was not invidious, and he possessed an amicable
disposition. He proceeded as follows:
"Mr. President— This internal suggestion which has been so
eloquently discussed by Mr. Longworth, and the bias of jurisprudence
which has been so ably advocated by Mr. M'Dermot — hem! — Mr.
President, in order to fix the line of demarcation between — ah —
the internal suggestion and the bias of jurisprudence — Mr.
President, I think, sir, that — ah — the subject must be confined
to the vote of faction and the bias of jurisprudence."
Here Mr. Pentigall clapped his right hand to his forehead, as
though he had that moment heard some over-powering news; and, after
maintaining this position for about the space of ten seconds, he slowly
withdrew his hand, gave his head a slight inclination to the right,
raised his eyes to the president as if just awakening from a trance,
and with a voice of the most hopeless despair, concluded with, "I don't
understand the subject, Muster Prusidunt."
The rest of the members on both sides submitted to be fined rather
than attempt the knotty subject; but, by common consent, the penal rule
was dispensed with. Nothing now remained to close the exercises but the
decision of the chair.
The president, John Nuble, was a young man not unlike Craig in his
turn of mind, though he possessed an intellect a little more sprightly
than Craig's. His decision was short.
"Gentlemen," said he, "I do not understand the subject. This,"
continued he (pulling out his knife, and pointing to the silvered or cross
side of it), "is 'Internal Suggestions.' And this"
(pointing to the other, or pile side) "is 'Bias of
Jurisprudence:' " so saying, he threw up his knife, and upon its fall
determined that "Internal Suggestions" had got it; and ordered the
decision to be registered accordingly.
It is worthy of note, that in their zeal to accomplish their
purpose, Longworth and M'Dermot forgot to destroy the lists of subjects
from which they had selected the one so often mentioned; and one of
these lists, containing the subject discussed, with a number more like
it, was picked up by Mr. Craig, who made a public exhibition of it,
threatening to arraign the conspirators before the society for a
contempt. But, as the parting hour was at hand, he overlooked it with
the rest of the brotherhood, and often laughed heartily at the trick.
THE MILITIA COMPANY DRILL.
I HAPPENED, not long since, to be present at the muster of a captain's
company in a remote part of one of the counties; and as no general
description could convey an accurate idea of the achievements of that
day, I must be permitted to go a little into detail, as well as my
recollection will serve me.
The men had been notified to meet at nine o'clock, "armed and
equipped as the law directs;" that is to say, with a gun and cartridge
box at least, but, as directed by the law of the United States, "with a
good firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, and a pouch with a box to
contain no less than twenty four sufficient cartridges of powder and
At twelve, about one third, perhaps one half, of the men had
collected, and an inspector's return of the number present, and of
their arms, would have stood nearly thus: 1 captain, 1 lieutenant;
ensign, none; fifers, none; privates, present, 24; ditto, absent, 40;
guns, 14; gunlocks, 12; ramrods, 10; rifle pouches, 3; bayonets, none;
belts, none; spare flints, none; cartridges, none; horsewhips, walking
canes, and umbrellas, 10. A little before one, the captain, whom I
shall distinguish by the name of Clodpole, gave directions for forming
the line of parade. In obedience to this order, one of the sergeants,
whose lungs had long supplied the place of a drum and fife, placed
himself in front of the house, and began to bawl with great vehemence,
"All Captain Clodpole's company parade here! Come, GENTLEMEN, parade
here!" says he; "all you that hasn't got guns fall into the lower eend." He might have bawled till this time, with as little success
as the sirens sung to Ulysses, had he not changed his post to a
neighbouring shade. There he was immediately joined by all who were
then at leisure; the others were at that time engaged as parties or
spectators at a game of fives, and could not just then attend. However,
in less than half an hour the game was finished, and the captain
enabled to form his company, and proceed in the duties of the day.
"Look to the right and dress!"
They were soon, by the help of the non-commissioned officers,
placed in a straight line; but, as every man was anxious to see how the
rest stood, those on the wings pressed forward for that purpose, till
the whole line assumed nearly the form of a crescent.
"Why, look at 'em," says the captain; "why, gentlemen, you are all
a crooking in at both eends, so that you will get on to me
by-and-by! Come, gentlemen, dress, dress!"
This was accordingly done; but, impelled by the same motives as
before, they soon resumed their former figure, and so they were
permitted to remain.
"Now, gentlemen," says the captain, "I am going to carry you
through the revolutions of the manual exercise; and I want
you, gentlemen, if you please, to pay particular attention to the word
of command, just exactly as I give it out to you. I hope you will have
a little patience, gentlemen, if you please; and if I should be agoing
wrong, I will be much obliged to any of you, gentlemen, to put me right
again, for I mean all for the best, and I hope you will excuse me if
you please. And one thing, gentlemen, I caution you against, in
particular, and that is this: not to make any mistakes if you
can possibly help it; and the best way to do this will be to do all the
motions right at first; and that will help us to get along so much the
faster; and I will try to have it over as soon as possible. Come, boys,
come to a shoulder.
Very handsomely done.
"Ram down, catridge!
No! no! Fire!
I recollect now
that firing comes next after taking aim, according to Steuben; but,
with your permission, gentlemen, I'll read the words of
command just exactly as they are printed in the book, and then I shall
be sure to be right."
"Oh, yes! read it, captain, read it!" exclaimed twenty voices at
once; "that will save time."
" 'Tention the whole!
Please to observe, gentlemen, that at
the word 'fire!' you must fire; that is, if any of your guns are loaden'd, you must not shoot in
yearnest, but only make
pretence like; and you, gentlemen fellow-soldiers, who's armed with
nothing but sticks, riding-switches, and cornstalks, needn't go through
the firings, but stand as you are, and keep yourselves to yourselves.
"Half cock, foolk!
Very well done.
That too would have
been handsomely done, if you hadn't handled catridge instead of
shetting pan; but I suppose you wasn't noticing. Now 'tention one and
all, gentlemen, and do that motion again.
Very good, very well indeed; you did that
motion equal to any old soldier; you improve astonishingly.
Pretty well, considering you done it
wrong end foremost, as if you took the catridge out of your mouth, and
bit off the twist with the catridge-box.
Those who have no rammers to their guns need
not draw, but only make the motion; it will do just as well, and save a
great deal of time.
"Return, rammer! Very well again. But that would have been
done, I think, with greater expertness if you had performed the motion
with a little more dexterity.
"S-h-o-u-l — Shoulder, foolk!
Very handsomely done
indeed! Put your guns on the other shoulder gentlemen.
Not quite so well, gentlemen; not quite
altogether; but perhaps I did not speak loud enough for you to hear me
all at once. Try once more, if you please. I hope you will be patient,
gentlemen; we will soon be through.
Handsomely done, gentlemen! Very handsomely
done! and all together too, except that one half of you were a leetle too soon, and the other half a
leetle too late.
"In laying down your guns, gentlemen, take care to lay the locks up
and the other side down.
" 'Tention the whole! Ground, foolk!
(Some of the men) — "That can't be, captain: pray look
again; for how can we charge bayonet without our guns?"
(Captain) — "I don't know as to that, but I know I'm
right, for here 'tis printed in the book; c-h-a-r — yes, charge
, bayonet, that's right, that's the word, if I know how to
read. Come, gentlemen, do pray charge bayonet! Charge, I say! Why don't
you charge! Do you think it aint so? Do you think I have lived to this
time o' day, and don't know what charge bayonet is? Here, come here,
you may see for yourselves; it's as plain as the nose on your fa —
stop — stay — no — halt! no! Faith, I'm wrong! I turned over two
leaves at once. I beg your pardon, we will not stay out long; and we'll
have something to drink as soon as we have done. Come, boys, get off
the stumps and logs, and take up your guns; we'll soon be done: excuse
me if you please.
Very well done: turn the stocks of your
guns in front, gentlemen, and that will bring the barrels behind; hold
them straight up and down, if you please; let go with your left, and
take hold with your right hand below the guard. Steuben says the gun
should be held p-e-r — pertic'lar; yes, you must always mind
and hold your guns very pertic'lar. Now, boys, 'tention the whole!
Very handsomely done! only hold your gun
over t'other knee — t'other hand up — turn your hands round a
little, and raise them up higher — draw t'other foot back — now you
are nearly right — very well done.
"Gentleman, we come now to the
revolutions. Men, you have
all got into a sort of snarl, as I may say; how did you all get into
such a higglety pigglety?"
The fact was, the shade had moved considerably to the eastward, and
had exposed the right wing of these hardy veterans to a galling fire of
the sun. Being poorly provided with umbrellas at this end of the line,
they found it convenient to follow the shade; and in huddling to the
left for this purpose, they changed the figure of their line from that
of a crescent to one which more nearly resembled a pair of pothooks.
"Come, gentlemen," says the captain, "spread yourselves out again
into a straight line; and let us get into the wheelings and other
matters as soon as possible."
But this was strenuously opposed by the soldiers. They objected to
going into the revolutions at all, inasmuch as the weather was
extremely hot, and they had already been kept in the field upward of
three quarters of an hour. They reminded the captain of his repeated
promise to be as short as he possibly could, and it was clear he could
dispense with all this wheeling and flourishing if he chose. They were
already very thirsty, and if he would not dismiss them, they declared
they would go off without dismission, and get something to drink, and
he might fine them if that would do him any good; they were able to pay
their fine, but would not go without drink to please anybody; and they
swore they would never vote for another captain who wished to be so
The captain behaved with great spirit upon the occasion, and a
smart colloquy ensued; when at length becoming exasperated to the last
degree, he roundly asserted that no soldier ought ever to think
hard of the orders of his officer; and, finally, he went so far as
to say, that he did not think any gentleman on that ground had any
just cause to be offended with him. The dispute was finally settled by
the captain sending for some grog for their present accommodation, and
agreeing to omit reading the military law, and the performance of all
the manoeuvres, except two or three such easy and simple ones as could
be performed within the compass of the shade. After they had drank
their grog and had spread "themselves," they were divided into platoons.
" 'Tention the whole! To the right wheel!"
Each man faced to the right about.
"Why, gentlemen, I did not mean for every man to stand still and
turn himself na'trally right round; but when I told you to wheel to the
right, I intended you to wheel round to the right, as it were. Please
to try again, gentlemen; every right-hand man must stand fast, and only
the others turn round."
In the previous part of the exercise, it had, for the purpose of
sizing, been necessary to denominate every second person a "right-hand
man." A very natural consequence was, that, on the present occasion,
these right-hand men maintained their position, all the intermediate
ones facing about as before.
"Why, look at 'em, now!" exclaimed the captain in extreme vexation;
"I'll be d-d if you understand a word I say. Excuse me, gentlemen, it rayly
seems as if you could not come at it exactly. In wheeling
to the right, the right-hand eend of the platoon stands fast,
and the other eend comes round like a swingle-tree. Those on
the outside must march faster than those on the inside. You certainly
must understand me now, gentlemen; and please to try it once more."
In this they were a little more successful.
" 'Tention the whole! To the left — left, no — right —
that is, the left — I mean the right — left, wheel, march!"
In this he was strictly obeyed; some wheeling to the right, some to
the left, and some to the right-left, or both ways.
Let us try it again! I could not just then
tell my right hand from my left! You must excuse me, if you please;
experience makes perfect, as the saying is. Long as I have served, I
find something new to learn every day; but all's one for that. Now,
gentlemen, do that motion once more."
By the help of a noncommissioned officer in front of each platoon,
they wheeled this time with considerable regularity.
"Now, boys, you must try to wheel by divisions; and there is one
thing in particular which I have to request of you, gentlemen, and that
is, not to make any blunder in your wheeling. You must mind and keep at
a wheeling distance, and not talk in the ranks, nor get out of fix
again; for I want you to do this motion well, and not to make any
" 'Tention the whole! By divisions, to the right wheel, march!
In doing this it seemed as if Bedlam had broke loose: every man
took the command. Not so fast on the right! Slow now! Haul down those
umbrellas! Faster on the left! Keep back a little there! Don't scrouge so! Hold up your gun, Sam! Go faster there! faster! Who
trod on my — ? D-n your huffs! Keep back! Stop us, captain, do stop
us! Go faster there! I've lost my shoe! Get up again, Ned! Halt! halt!
halt! Stop, gentlemen! stop! stop!
By this time they had got into utter and inextricable confusion,
and so I left them.
"COME," said my friend Baldwin to me, a few months ago, "let us go to
"No," said I, "I take no interest in its amusements."
"Nor do I," rejoined he; "but I visit it to acquire a knowledge of
the human character, as it exhibits itself in the various scenes of
life, and with the hope of turning the knowledge thus acquired to some
good account. I am the more desirous that you should accompany me,"
continued he, "because, as one pair of eyes and ears cannot catch all
that passes within a scene so spacious, I shall lose many instructing,
interesting, or amusing incidents without the assistance of a friend
and therefore I wish to enlist your services."
"Well," said I, "with this view I will accompany you."
We went; and the following is the result of our joint observations:
We went early, when as yet no one had reached the ground but those
who occupied the booths for the purpose of traffic. It was not long,
however, before crowds of persons, of all ages, sexes, conditions, and
complexions, were seen moving towards the booths; some on foot, some on
horseback, some in gigs, some in carriages, some in carts, and some in
wagons. The carriages (generally filled with well-dressed ladies)
arranged themselves about thirty or forty paces from the
starting-point, towards the centre of the turf. Around these circled
many young gentlemen, each riding his prettiest, whipping, spurring,
and curbing his horse into the most engaging antics, and giving visible
token that he thought every eye from the carriages was on him, and
every heart overpowered by his horsemanship. As many more plied between
the booths and carriages, bearing messages, rumours, apples, oranges,
raisins, lemonade, and punch.
"But surely no lady drank the punch!"
"Yes, three of them did; and if I know what large swallows mean,
they loved it too — but they didn't drink long. The ladies ought to
be informed, however, that a countryman passing them observed, 'the way them
women love punch is nothing to nobody!' "
The gentlemen generally collected about the booths, and employed
themselves in loud talking and drinking. Here I saw Major Close, who
two hours before declared he had not enough to pay a poor woman for the
making the vest he had on, treat a large company to a dollar bowl of
punch; and, ten minutes after, I saw the same man stake fifty dollars
on the race. I saw another gentleman do the same, who, four days
before, permitted his endorser to lift his note in bank for one hundred
dollars, which note the endorser still held. But, thought I, the way
these gentlemen treat their creditors "is nothing to nobody." One thing
I remarked upon this occasion, which should not be passed in silence. I
saw many gentlemen drink spirits upon the turf, whom I never
saw taste it anywhere else; some because it seemed fashionable, and
some because they would bet nothing but a glass of toddy or a bowl of
punch, and, having bet it, they must help drink it.
I had been employed perhaps three quarters of an hour in making
observations upon the scene which was before me, when I observed a
group of negroes and boys enter one of the gates of the turf,
following, with much seeming interest, a horse which was led by an aged
black, by whose side walked a little negro boy about thirteen years of
age, dressed in pink throughout. I had no doubt but that the horse was
one which was entered for the day's running; and as I was desirous of
seeing all the competitors before the race, I advanced to meet him
apart from the crowd. As soon as I approached near enough to
distinguish the features of the old negro who led the animal, I
discovered that he was a gentleman who, upon that day at least, was to
be approached only with the most profound respect. His step was
martial, his eye looked directly forward, and his countenance plainly
indicated that he had many deep things shut up in his brain, which the
world had long been trying to pry into, in vain. I concluded, however,
that I might venture to ask him a question, which all who had read the
morning's Chronicle could have answered. I therefore took the liberty
of addressing him, as soon as he came near me, with,
"Old man, what horse is that?"
The question seemed to come like a thunder-bolt among his
contemplations; and, without speaking a word, he bent upon me a look
which I perfectly understood to mean,
"Pray, sir, where were you born and brought up?"
Having been thus foiled by the old man, I resolved, to try my luck
with the rider; accordingly, I repeated the question to him. He
stopped, and was in the act, as I thought, of answering, when the old
man bawled out to him, in an angry tone,
"Come along, you Bill; never keep behind you
hoss when you
fuss (first) come on the ground."
Bill obeyed promptly, and took his position by
, who observed to him, in an under tone, as he came alongside,
"Never tell de name you hoss; it's bad luck."
Bill's confusion plainly showed that he ought to have known a thing
so obvious from his infancy. I was as much disconcerted as Bill; but
was soon relieved by a pert little blackamoor, who, rather to persuade
me that he was in all the secrets of the turf than in charity to me,
addressed me with,
"Master, I'll tell you what hoss dat is."
"Well, my boy," said I, "what horse is it?"
"He young Butteram, son o'
ole Butteram, dat usen to
belong to Mr. Swingletree."
"And do you know all the horses that are going to run to-day?" said
"La, yes, sir," said he; "I know ebery one dat's gwine to run ebery
I concluded I would take advantage of the boy's knowledge; and
therefore gave him twelve and a half cents to stand by me, and give me
the names of the racers as they passed; for by this time they were all
on the ground, and following the direction of the first.
"This one," said my Mentor, as the next approached, "name Flory
Randle; she b'long to Mr. Pet; but I don't know what hoss he daddy,
"This one" (as the next came up) "name Sir William; he come all de
way from Virginny, and I tinks dey say he got by Virginny too."
"And this" (as the last approached) "name 'Clipse; by jokey, he
look to me like he could clip it too; and I be swinged if I don't go my
seb'n-pence on him any how."
Thus I learned that the four horses which were to run were
Bertrand, Flora Randolph, Sir William, and Eclipse. At this moment, a
voice from the judges' stand cried, "Prepare your horses!" and in an
instant the grooms were engaged in saddling the animals. This
preliminary was soon disposed of, and the owners proceeded to give the
riders their instructions.
"Now, Bob," said Mr. Pet, "I know that I have the heels of any
horse on the turf, but I'm a little afraid of my bottom; therefore,
save your wind as much as possible. Trail the leading horse upon a hard
rein, about half a distance behind, until you come to the last half
mile, and then let Flora off at full speed. As soon as you pass the
leading horse about a length, bear your rein, and don't come in more
than a length ahead."
"Sam," said the owner of Sir William, "you've got none to fear but
Bertrand, and you've got the bottom of him; therefore give him no rest
from the word 'go!' unless you find that your heels are as good as his;
and if so, you needn't waste your wind. Feel Bertrand at the first rise
of the course; if he stands it pretty well, try how you can move with
him going down the hill; and if you find that you are too hard for him
either at rises or falls, pinch him hard at all of them places; and when you come to the last half mile of each heat, run his
heart, liver, lights, and soul-case out of hire."
"Ned," said the owner of Eclipse, "you are not to run for the first
heat at all, unless you find you can take it very easy. Let Sir William
take the first heat. You can beat the others when you please, and
William can't stand a push for two heats; therefore, just play
alongside of him handsomely for the first three miles, and at the
coming in, just drop in the distance pole. The next heat take the
track, and press him from the start."
"Bill," said the owner of Bertrand, "do you take the track at the
start, and keep it, and run only just fast enough to keep it."
Here the roll of the drum and a cry from the judges' stand put the
horses in motion for the starting-point. Over this point I now observed
suspended from a pole a beautiful blue silk purse, spangled with silver
and embroidered with gold, on both sides of which were marked in golden
It would require a volume to describe the scene which now ensued.
"Captain, do you run Bertrand for the heat?"
"I do, sir."
"Five hundred dollars, Bertrand against the field."
"Major, will Eclipse run for the heat?"
"One hundred to fifty that Flora Randolph beats Eclipse the first
"Done, sir" — "Done, sir" — "Done, sir."
"I took the bet first."
"No, sir, I took it first."
"No matter, gentlemen, I'll go you all fifty apiece."
"It's a bet, sir" — "It's a bet" — "A bet, sir."
"Here, Uncle Sam, hold dese trups."
"Now mind de bet. Bob, he bet dat Flory Randle take de fus heat. I
bet he take no heat at all."
"Yes, dat be de bet — you hear him, Uncle Sam?"
"Tell him over agin, le' me listen."
"Well, dis him: If Flory take de fus heat, Bob win; if he take no
heat at all, I win."
"Berry well, I got him now fass in my head."
"Pa, give me a quarter to bet."
"What horse do you want to bet upon, my son?"
"Oh no — there's a quarter — bet it upon Bertrand."
"Well, Miss Flora, don't you wish to bet?"
"Yes, sir, I'll bet you a pair of gloves."
"Well, what horse will you take?"
"Oh, my namesake, of course."
"It's a bet; you take Flora against the field, of course."
"To be sure I do."
Thus it went; men, women, and children, whites and blacks, all
Such was the bustle, confusion, and uproar among the men, that I
could hardly see or hear anything distinctly; and therefore I resolved
to take my position among the carriages, in order to observe the ladies
under the delights of the turf.
The signal was now given, and off went the horses; Flora ahead,
Bertrand next, Sir William next, and Eclipse in the rear.
"Only look at that rascal," said Mr. Pet, as he charged by us at
full speed, "how he is riding. Hold her in, you rascal, or I'll give
you five hundred lashes as soon as you light. Hold her in, I tell you,
you abominable puppy, or I'll cut your throat." Bob did his best to
restrain her, for he bore upon the rein until his back came nearly in
contact with Flora's, but to no purpose. Ahead she would go for the
first two miles.
"Only see, mamma," said Miss Flora, "how beautifully Flora runs!
Oh, that dear little rider" (a negro), "how handsomely he
carries himself. I knew I should win my gloves."
At the completion of the second mile Flora became more manageable,
and the other horses passed her in their order. As the last gained
about a length of her, "Now," said Pet, "keep her at that." The rider
straightened himself in the saddle, but the space widened perceptibly
between him and Eclipse. "Don't bear upon the rein so hard," said Pet.
"Let her play easy." Bob slackened the rein; but Flora seemed not to
improve her liberty. "Look how you're dropping behind," continued Pet.
"Let her out, I tell you!" Bob let her out, but she would not
go out. "Let her out, I tell you, or I will blow your brains out."
Here Bob gave her a cut. "You infernal rascal you, don't give her the
whip! Bring her up to Eclipse." Bob gave her the lash again; but Flora
obstinately refused to keep company with Eclipse. "Very well, sir,"
said Pet, "ride your own way, and I'll whip mine when you get home; I
see how it is." Bob seemed to hear only the first member of the
sentence, and he gave the whip without mercy.
"Why, Pet," said a gentleman, "what is the matter with Flora
"What's the matter with her, sir! Don't you see that I can't make
Bob do anything I tell him? I'll learn him how to take a bribe
As Flora received the twentieth cut, she switched her tail. "Ah!"
said Mr. Dimple, "I fear you've lost your gloves, Miss Flora; see, your
favourite switches her tail."
"Does Flora switch her tail?" said Miss Flora.
"Mamma, Mr. Dimple says Flora switches her tail!"
"Does Flora switch her tail?" said Mrs. Blue.
"Does Flora switch her tail?" said Miss Emma. "Oh, what a pity!"
The horses preserved their order through the heat. Flora was
distanced; but her rider maintained his grace and dignity to the last,
and rode as if perfectly satisfied that every eye was upon him, and
that all were saying, "To be sure Flora is beaten; but her rider is
decidedly the best on the ground." In spite of his cry of "Clear the
track!" however, the crowd closed in between him and the foremost
horses, extinguished his graces from general view, and forced him to
come in in the mere character of a spectator.
Between the first and second heats, I saw the owners of Sir William
and Eclipse in a pleasing conversation, but I did not hear what they
After a rest of about a quarter of an hour, the horses were again
brought to the starting-point; and, at the tap of the drum, went off
with great velocity. Bertrand took the lead as before, and William
pursued him very closely. They kept within two lengths of each other
for three miles and a half, when William locked his adversary, and both
riders commenced giving the whip and spur without mercy. When they came
in, it was evident to my eye that Bertrand's rider (for I
could not see the horses' heads) was more than his width ahead of
William's; but the judges decided that William won the heat by two
inches and a quarter. Eclipse just saved his distance. At the close of
the heat the two former exhibited a pitiable spectacle. There was not a
dry hair upon either of them, and the blood streamed from the flanks
and sides of both.
"Mr. Dimple," said Miss Emma, "which horse shall I bet on next
time? Which seems the most distressed?"
"I declare, miss," said Dimple, "I don't know; they both seem to be
very much distressed; but I think William seems to be in rather the
Between this and the following heat, two little boys engaged in a
fight, and not less than fifty grown men gathered around them to
witness the conflict, with as great an uproar as if a town were on
fire. This fight produced two more between grown persons; one of whom
was carried from the turf with a fractured scull, as it was thought,
from the blow of a stick. But none of the ladies went to the fights.
Again the horses were brought up and put off. Bertrand once more
led the way, and Eclipse followed close at his heels for about a mile
and three quarters, when William ran up under whip, nose, and tail to
Bertrand. Eclipse fell some distance behind, and continued so for a
mile and a half, when he came up and nearly locked Bertrand. Thus they
ran three fourths of the remaining distance. On the last stretch they
came side to side, and so continued through. On this heat I concurred
with the judges that it was a draw race. William was double distanced.
Bertrand and Eclipse put off upon the fourth heat: Bertrand still
taking the lead by about half his length. Eclipse now pushed for the
track; but Bertrand maintained it. For two miles did the riders
continue so close together that they might have joined hands. They had
entered upon the third mile in this way, when, at the first turn of the
course from the judges' stand, Eclipse fell and killed his rider.
Bertrand, being now left without a competitor, galloped slowly round to
the goal, where, with great pomp and ceremony, the pole which held the
purse was bent down to his rider, who dislodged it, and bore it on
high, backward and forward, in front of the booth, to the sound of
drum, fife and violin.
"I declare," said Mrs. Blue, as her carriage wheeled off, "had it
not been for that little accident, the sport would have been
I left the turf in company with a large number of gentlemen, all of
whom concurred in the opinion that they had never witnessed such sport
in all their lives.
"What a pity it is," said General Grubbs, "that this amusement is
not more encouraged! We never shall have a fine breed of horses until
the turf is more patronized."
I returned home, and had been seated perhaps an hour, when Baldwin
entered. "Well," said he, "I have just been favoured with a sight of
the contents of that beautiful purse which Bertand won; and what do you
think it contained?"
"Why, five hundred dollars, certainly," returned I.
"No," continued he, "it contained two half eagles, sixteen dollars
in silver, twelve one dollar bills, and a subscription paper, which the
owner offered to the largest subscriber on it for one hundred and fifty
dollars, and it was refused. It is but right to observe, however, that
the gentleman to whom the offer was made assured the owner that it was
as good as gold."
AN INTERESTING INTERVIEW.
I HOPE the day is not far distant when drunkenness will be unknown in
our highly-favoured country. The moral world is rising in its strength
against the all-destroying vice, and though the monster still
struggles, and stings, and poisons with deadly effect in many parts of
our wide-spread territory, it is perceptibly wounded and weakened; and
I flatter myself if I should live to number ten years more, I shall see
it driven entirely from the higher walks of life at least, if not from
all grades of society. For the honour of my contemporaries, I would
register none of its crimes or its follies; but, in noticing the
peculiarities of the age in which I live, candour constrains me to give
this vice a passing notice. The interview which I am about to present
to my readers exhibits it in its mildest and most harmless forms.
In the county of — , and about five miles apart, lived old Hardy
Slow and old Tobias Swift. They were both industrious, honest, sensible
farmers when sober; but they never visited their county-town without
getting drunk; and then they were — precisely what the following
narrative makes them.
They both happened at the Courthouse on the same day when I last
saw them together; the former accompanied by his wife, and the latter
by his youngest son, a lad about thirteen. Tobias was just clearly on
the wrong side of the line which divides drunk from sober; but Hardy
was "royally corned" (but not falling) when they met, about an
hour by sun in the afternoon, near the rack at which both their horses
They stopped about four feet apart, and looked each other full in
the face for about half a minute; during all which time Toby sucked his
teeth, winked, and made signs with his shoulders and elbows to the
by-standers that he knew Hardy was drunk, and was going to quiz him for
their amusement. In the mean time, Hardy looked at Tobias, like a
polite man dropping to sleep, in spite of himself, under a long dull
At length Toby broke silence:
"How goes it, uncle Hardy?" (winking to the company and
shrugging his shoulders.)
"Why, Toby! is that you? Well — upon my — why, Toby! Lord —
help — my — soul and — Why, Toby! what, in, the, worl', set,
you, to, gitt'n, drunk — this, time o' day? Swear, poin' blank,
you're drunk! Why — you — must be, an old, fool — to, get, drunk,
right, before, all these, gentlemen — already, Toby."
"Well, but, now you see" (winking), "uncle Hardy, a gill-cup
an't a quart-pot, nor a quart-pot an't a two-gallon jug; and therefore"
(winking and chuckling), "uncle Hardy, a thing is a thing, turn
it which way you will, it just sticks at what it was before you give it
first ox — ex — ploit."
"Well, the, Lord, help, my — Why, Toby! what, is the reas'n, you,
never, will, answer, me this, one — circumstance — and, that, is —
I, always, find, you, drunk, when, I come, here."
"Well, now, but, uncle Hardy, you always know circumstances alter
cases, as the fellow said; and therefore, if one circumstance alters
another circumstance — how's your wife and children?"
"I, swear, poin' blank, I sha'n't tell, you — because, you
r'ally, is, too drunk, to know, my wife, when, you, meet, her, in the
street, all, day, long, and, she'll, tell, you, the, very, same, thing,
as, all, these, gentlemen, can — testimony."
"Well, but now you see, uncle Hardy, thinking's one thing and
knowing's another, as the fellow said; and the proof o' the pudding's
chawin' the bag, as the fellow said; and you see —
toll-doll-diddle-de-doll-doll-day" (singing and capering), "you
think I can't dance? Come, uncle Hardy. let's dance."
"Why, Toby! you — come — to this?
I didn't make, you,
drunk, did I? You, an't, took, a drink, with, me, this, live, long, day
— is you? I, say, is you, Toby?"
"No, uncle Har — "
"Well, then, let's go, take a drink."
"Well, but you see, uncle Hardy, drinkin's drinkin'; but that's
neither here nor there, as the fellow said.
"Come" (singing) "all ye young sparkers, come listen to me,
And I'll sing you a ditti, of a pretti ladee."
"Why, Toby! ha — ha — ha! Well, I r'ally, did, think, you, was,
drunk, but, now I believe — blast the flies! I b'lieve, they, jest,
as li'f walk, in my, mouth, as, in, my nose." (Then looking with
eyes half closed at Toby for several minutes), "Why, Toby, you,
spit 'bacco spit, all over, your jacket — and, that's jist, the very,
way, you, got, in your — fix."
At this moment Mrs. Slow came up, and immediately after, Swift's
"Come," said the good lady, "old man, let's go home; it's getting
late, and there's a cloud rising; we'll get wet."
"Why, Nancy! what in the worl' has got into you! Is you drunk too?
Well, 'pon, my word, and honour, I, b'lieve, everybody, in this town,
is, got drunk to-day. Why, Nancy! I never, did, see, you, in, that fix,
before, in, all, my, live, long, born, days."
"Well, never mind," said she; "come, let's go home. Don't you see
the rain coming up?"
"Well, will, it rain, upon, my, cornfield, or my cotton-patch? Say,
Nancy! which one, will it, rain on? But, Lord, help, my, soul, you are,
too drunk, to tell me, any, thing, about it. Don't my corn want rain,
Nancy? Now, jist, tell me, that?"
"Yes; but let's go home."
"Then, why, upon, the face, of the earth, won't you, let it, rain,
then? I, rather, it, should rain, than not."
"Come, old man," said several by-standers, touched with sympathy
for the good lady, "come, get on your horse and go home, and we will
"Oh yes, uncle Hardy," said Tobias, affecting to throw all humour
aside, and to become very sober all at once, "go home with the old
woman. Come, gentlemen, let's help 'em on their horses — they're
groggy — mighty groggy. Come, old man, I'll help you" (staggering
"Jist look at daddy now!" said Billy; "he's going to help Mr.
Swift, and he's drunk as Mr. Swift is. Oh daddy, come, let's go home,
or we'll get mazin' wet."
Toby stooped down to help Hardy on his horse (before the horse was
taken from the rack), and throwing his arm round Hardy's legs, he fell
backward, and so did Hardy.
"Why — Lord, bless, my, soul," said Hardy, "I b'lieve, I'm drunk,
too. What, upon the, face, of the earth, has got, into, all, of us,
"Why, uncle Hardy," said Toby, "you pull us both down together."
"The old man's mighty groggy," said Toby to me in a half whisper,
and with an arch wink and smile, as he rose up (I happening to be next
to him at the moment). "S'pose we help him up and get him off. The old
woman's in for it too," continued he, winking, nodding, and shrugging
up his shoulders very significantly.
"Oh no," said I, "the old woman is perfectly sober; and I never
heard of her tasting a drop in all my life."
"Oh," said Toby, assuming the gravity of a parson, "loves it
mightily, mightily! Monstrous woman for drinking! at least that's my
opinion. Monstrous fine woman though! monstrous fine!"
"Oh, daddy, for the Lord's sake let's go home; only see what a rain
is coming!" said Billy.
"Daddy'll go presently, my son."
"Well, here's your horse; git up and let's go. Mammy'll be sure to
be sendin' for us."
"Don't mind him," said Toby, winking to me; "he's nothing but a
boy; I wouldn't take no notice of what he said. He wants me" (
winking and smiling) "to go home with him; now you listen."
"Well, come," said I to uncle Toby, "get on your horse, and go
home; a very heavy rain is coming up."
"I'll go presently; but you just listen to Bill," said he to me,
winking and smiling.
"Oh, daddy, for the Lord's sake let's go home."
Toby smiled archly at me, and winked.
"Daddy, are you going home or not? Jist look at the rain comin'."
Toby smiled and winked.
"Well, I do think a drunken man is the biggest fool in the county,"
said Bill, "I don't care who he is."
"Bill!" said the old man, very sternly, " 'honour thy father and
mother,' that — that the woman's seed may bruise the serpent's head."
"Well, daddy, tell me if you won't go home! You see it's going to
rain powerful. If you won't go, may I go?"
"Bill! 'Leave not thy father who begat
thee; for thou art
my beloved son Esau, in whom I am well pleased.' "
"Why, daddy, it's dropping rain now."
Here Bill was relieved from his anxiety by the appearance of Aaron,
a trusty servant, whom Mrs. Slow had despatched for his master, to
whose care Bill committed him, and was soon out of sight.
Aaron's custom had long been to pick up his master without
ceremony, put him on his horse, and bear him away. So used to this
dealing had Toby been, that, when he saw Aaron, he surrendered at
discretion, and was soon on the road. But as the rain descended in
torrents before even Bill could have proceeded half a mile, the whole
of them must have been drenched to the skin.
As to Hardy, whom in the proper order we ought to have disposed of
first, he was put on his horse by main force, and was led off by his
wife, to whom he was muttering, as far as I could hear him, "Why,
Nancy! how, did, you, get, in, such a fix? You'll, fall, off, your,
horse, sure, as you're born, and I'll have to put you up again." As
they were constrained to go on a walk, they too must have got wringing
wet, though they had a quarter of an hour the start of Toby.
THE FOX HUNT.
I HAD often read of the fox-chase and its soul-enlivening pleasures
before I was permitted to enjoy them; and, had my reading upon this
head been confined to Somerville's Chase alone, I should have been
inspired with an irrepressible curiosity to experience its thrilling
enjoyments. Listen how he sanctifies the sport, and mingles with it all
that is gay and spirit-stirring:
160160160160160160"But yet, alas! the wily fox remain'd
160160160160160160A subtle, pilfering foe, prowling around
160160160160160160In midnight shades, and wakeful to destroy.
160160160160160160In the full fold, the poor defenceless lamb,
160160160160160160Seized by his guileful arts, with sweet warm
160160160160160160Supplies a rich repast. The mournful ewe,
160160160160160160Her dearest treasure lost through the dim night,
160160160160160160Wanders perplex'd, and darkling bleats in vain,
160160160160160160While in th' adjacent bush poor Philomel
160160160160160160(Herself a parent once, till wanton churls
160160160160160160Despoil'd her nest) joins in her loud laments,
160160160160160160With sweeter notes and more melodious wo.
160160160160160160For these nocturnal thieves, huntsmen prepare
160160160160160160The sharpest vengeance. Oh! how glorious 'tis
160160160160160160To right th' oppress'd, and bring the felon vile
160160160160160160To just disgrace! Ere yet the morning peep,
160160160160160160Or stars retire from the first blush of day,
160160160160160160With thy far echoing voice alarm thy pack
160160160160160160And rouse thy bold compeers. Then to the copse,
160160160160160160Thick with entangling grass and prickly furze,
160160160160160160With silence lead thy many-colour'd hounds,
160160160160160160In all their beauty's pride. See! how they range
160160160160160160Dispersed, how busily this way and that
160160160160160160They cross, examining with curious nose
160160160160160160Each likely haunt. Hark! on the drag I hear
160160160160160160Their doubtful notes, preluding to the cry
160160160160160160More nobly full, and swell'd with every mouth.
160160160160160160 * * * * * * * *
160160160160160160* * * * * * *
160160160160160160Heavens! what melodious strains! how beat our
160160160160160160Big with tumultuous joy! the loaded gales
160160160160160160Breathe harmony; and as the tempest drives
160160160160160160From wood to wood, through every dark recess,
160160160160160160The forest thunders and the mountains shake
160160160160160160* * * * * * *
160160160160160160* * * * * He breaks away.
160160160160160160Shrill horns proclaim his flight. Each straggling
160160160160160160Strains o'er the lawn to reach the distant pack:
160160160160160160'Tis triumph all and joy. Now, my brave youths,
160160160160160160Now give a loose to the clean, generous steed;
160160160160160160Flourish the whip, nor spare the galling spur;
160160160160160160But in the madness of delight forget
160160160160160160Your fears. For o'er the rocky hills we range,
160160160160160160And dangerous our course; but in the brave
160160160160160160True courage never falls. In vain the stream
160160160160160160In foaming eddies whirls; in vain the ditch
160160160160160160Wide-gaping threatens death. The craggy steep,
160160160160160160Where the poor dizzy shepherd crawls with care,
160160160160160160And clings to every twig, gives us no pain;
160160160160160160But down we sweep, as stoops the falcon bold
160160160160160160To pounce his prey." * * * *
Filled with such ideas as these lines are calculated to inspire (and
long as is the extract, it does but half justice to the poet,
whatever we may think of his subject), it was with kindling
enthusiasm that I met the question from my old friend Dause, on a
clear, chill December's evening,
"Will you not join us in a fox-chase to-morrow?"
"That I will," replied I, "with pleasure."
"Have you ever been in a fox-chase?" continued he.
"Never," said I; "but I have no doubt but that I should be
delighted with it."
"Oh, it's the finest sport in the world, with a full pack! and we
shall have a splendid pack to-morrow. Major Crocket is coming in with
his hounds, and George Hurt is to bring in his, and all unite with
Captain Reid's here, and we shall have a pack of twenty-two or three.
We shall have glorious sport; you must not fail to join us."
"No fear of that," said I; "I shall be among the first on the
I went home (no matter where), and hastened to bed at an earlier
hour than usual, that I might be the surer to rise by times in the
morning. But, so bright was the anticipation of the coming joys, that
it was long before I could compose myself to sleep; and when I did, it
was rather the semi-sleep of vigilance than the sound sleep of
rest. It was sufficient, however, to beguile the intervening hours; and
they seemed but few, before the long drawn notes of Crocket's horn
roused me from my slumbers. I sprang from my bed, and, without waiting
to throw over me a stitch of clothing (though the weather was extremely
cold), I seized my ram's-horn, hoisted a window, and blew a blast
which, if it had had fair play, would have waked every hound within
five miles round. But it had not fair play; for, partly from hurry, and
partly from my indisposition to thrust my exposed body into the open
air, I just gave the mouth of my horn projection enough to throw half
its voice out and half inside the house. The first half did no great
things; but the last half did wonders. Bursting upon the unsuspecting
family at that still hour, it created a sensation which no one can
understand who was not at the falling of the walls of Jericho. The
house trembled, the glasses rattled, the women started, and the
"What's that!" exclaimed the mistress of the household.
"Mr. Hall is going a fox hunting," said her husband.
"Well, I wish he'd blow for his foxes out of the house. I can't see
what any man of common sense wants to be gitting up this time of night
for, in such cold weather, just to hear dogs run a fox."
It struck me there was a good deal of sound philosophy in the good
lady's remarks; but she was a woman, and she had never read
I dressed myself, walked out, waked my servant, and ordered my
horse. Truly it was a lovely morning for the season of the year:
December never ushered in one more lovely. Like a sheet of snow the
frost overspread the earth! Not a breath was stirring. The coming
huntsman had sounded his horn upon a distant hill, and its unrepeated
notes had died away. A cloudless sky o'erspread the earth, as rich in
beauty as ever won the gaze of mortal. Upon the western verge, in all
his martial glory, stood Orion; his burnished epaulets and spangled
sash with unusual brightness glowing. Capella glittered brighter still,
and Castor, Procyon, and Arcturus rivalled her in lustre. But Sirius
reigned the monarch of the starry host; and countless myriads of lesser
lights glowed, and sparkled, and twinkled o'er all the wide-spread
"Oh!" exclaimed I, "how rich, how beautiful, how glorious the
firmament! See! yonder is Bootes in the chase! His Chara and
Asterion drive on the lusty Bear! who shall condemn the chase, when its
pleasures are written in characters of deathless fire upon the face of
I was lost in admiration of the splendours which surrounded me,
when another sound of the major's horn informed me that he was upon the
confines of the village; and, at the same instant, my servant announced
that my horse was in waiting. As I approached him for the purpose of
"Master," said he, "you
gwine fox huntin' on da hoss?"
"Yes," said I, promptly: "why?"
"Eh-eh," rejoined he, with a titter.
"Why, what is it amuses you so, Isaac?"
"Bess de Lord! Smooth-tooth wa'nt never made for fox huntin', I
know. He too lazy, bess de Lord. Time de houn' give one squall, dey
done leff Smooth-tooth clean outen sight an' hearin'."
"Oh, I presume not, Isaac," said I. "I shall not attempt to keep up
with the hounds: I shall just keep in full hearing of them by cutting
across and heading them."
"Eh-eh! Fox run twice round a field 'fore Smooth-tooth cut across
him, I know: bess de Lord."
One would suppose that Isaac's hint would have reminded me to take
a whip or spur, or both, along with me; but it did not.
Crocket's horn was answered by several from the neighbouring hills;
and, before I had proceeded the eighth of a mile towards the point of
rendezvous, a loud chorus of horns and beagles announced that all were
assembled but myself. I raised my ram's-horn and blew a more propitious
blast than my first, in token that I was on my way. My horse, as the
reader has perhaps conjectured, from the colloquy just repeated, was
not Somerville's "clean, generous steed;" but he was a horse of
uncommon gravity and circumspection. I gave him the name of Smooth-tooth simply because, when he became my property, the
faces of his teeth were generally worn smooth. Though he was kind and
accommodating enough in all matters of business, he had an utter
aversion to everything like levity, and to all rambles which seemed to
have no definite object. Age had done much, doubtless, in
sobering Smooth-tooth's temper; but infirmity had conspired
with age to produce this effect; for he was most lamentably deaf: so
that the common remark of our state in relation to aged horses, "he has
heard it thunder too often," would by no means have applied to
Smooth-tooth; for, to my certain knowledge, he had not heard it thunder
for five years at least.
I bent my course towards the village, and as Smooth-tooth was
wholly unconscious of the uproar there, he set out, as usual, upon a
gentle pace. By a diligent application of heels, I signified to
him that I looked for something more sprightly upon this occasion.
Smooth-tooth took the hint, and mended his pace; but I informed
him, as before, that this would not do. He then paced brisker still;
but this did not abate my rigour. He then paced to the top of his
speed, and, finding me still unsatisfied, he struck, most reluctantly,
into a lazy canter. This reduced my beats from triple to common time, but did not bring them to a full pause. At the
end of five long, awkward, reluctant lopes, Smooth-tooth stopped with a
demi-semiquaver rest, and wheeled at the same instant to go
home, in utter disgust; for he seemed now to have satisfied himself
that I had taken leave of my senses, and that it was high time for him
to "throw himself upon his reserved rights." As I always entertained a
high respect for these, I accommodated myself to his views, after
having discovered that he was not to be forced out of them.
There was, however, some policy mixed with my clemency; for, slowly as
Smooth-tooth moved in his master effort, he waked up an artificial
breeze, which seemed to search the very cavities of my bones, and which
already produced some unacknowledged yearnings for the comfortable bed
which I had deserted.
When I reached the village I found all the huntsmen collected; and
after a little delay, occasioned by a dog fight, or, rather, a fight of
one dog against all the rest (for hounds, like the wily politicians of
the present day, all jump on the undermost), we moved forward to the
hunting ground. This lay three miles from the village; and, could
anything have enlivened the jaunt, my company would, for it consisted
of a merry group of every variety of disposition. But a freezing man
cannot be lively; and, consequently, I was not.
Our pack consisted of eighteen or twenty hounds; but there were but
two of them which could be relied on with confidence: George Hurt's
Louder, and Captain Reid's Rome. With these I was well acquainted,
having often been with them in the deer and rabbit hunt. Could I say,
like Horace, "exigi monumentum ære perennius," they should be
immortalized; for better dogs never mingled in the chase. They knew
perfectly well, from the hour of the hunt and the equipments of the
huntsmen, the game of which they were in pursuit; and no other would
Music was said to be remarkably "cold ;
" but her veracity was questionable. Her ambition never aimed at
anything higher than finding the track for fleeter-footed
hounds. When the game was up, she soon "knocked out," and went in quest
of cold trails; why or wherefore, no one could tell, unless it was that
she had the common fault of those who possess peculiar accomplishments.
Her habit was to get a trail, and, if she could not lead off on it
readily, to "open" by the half hour upon so much of it as lay within
the compass of three rods square.
We had proceeded about two miles on our way, when, in a washed
field to ours right, Music opened.
"What dog's that?" inquired several voices at once.
"It's Music," said the captain; "she's the coldest hound of the
The majority were for moving on, regardless of Music's cry; but, in
courtesy to the captain, who had more confidence in her than the rest
of us, we agreed "to wait on her a little."
"Speak to him, Music!" said the captain.
Music opened again.
"Try for him, Music!"
Music opened again.
"Let's go to her," said the captain; "there's not much confidence
to be placed in her, but it may be a fox."
We went, and, as soon as Music saw us, she seemed highly delighted
at our attentions; ran into a little gully; put her nose to the ground;
seemed in doubt; rooted in the dirt a little way; then raised her head,
paused a second, and trotted round a circle of ten yards'
circumference, opening all the time as if the whole horizon were lined
with foxes; that is, as though there were an abundance of foxes about,
but they were a long way off.
"Try for him again, Music!" said the captain. Music fidgeted about
with great animation, shook her tail spiritedly, and, after taking a
sweep of sixty feet, returned to the gully, and did as before.
"I'm afraid it's too cold," said the captain.
"Oh, no," said Colonel Peyton, waggishly, "let's wait on her.
'Bundance o' foxes in that gully; only give Music time, and she'll fill
it full o' dead foxes before sunrise."
"I reckon," said Stewart Andrews, in a long, drawling, dry way,
"that Music has got upon a 'Miss Mary Ann' that went along there last
The reader must here be informed, that when I went into the
neighbourhood of which I have been speaking, the common appellation of
the rabbit was "Molly Cotton-tail," as it still is elsewhere in
Georgia; but, as I thought this inelegant, if not vulgar, I prevailed
upon my fellow-huntsmen to exchange it for a more classic term, which
would preserve the sense, without offending the most squeamish
delicacy. At my suggestion, therefore, it was called the "Mary Cotton
tail," and afterward, by farther refinement, "Miss Mary Ann
Cotton-tail." But to return:
We were just about taking leave of Music, when a young, awkward,
overgrown hound trotted up to her assistance. He arrived just as Music
had paid a third visit to the track in the gully, and, as soon as she
left it, he put his nose to the spot, snuffed a little, and then raised
one foot, and with it kindly scratched out the tantalizing track. While
I sat "waiting upon" Miss Music, my freezing limbs forced me into this
train of reflection: "How could I have so far taken leave of my senses
as to promise myself any pleasure from such a jaunt as this! It is
extremely doubtful whether we shall start a fox; and if we should, what
are the cries of twenty hounds to three or four hour's exposure,
without even an overcoat, upon such a piercing morning as this! And
wherein will the cry differ from that of the same pack in pursuit of a
rabbit on a fine sunny day. And why seek amusement in the tortures of a
poor unoffending animal! In this country, at least, I never heard of a
single loss from a farmyard which could be fairly traced to the fox;
not even of a goose, much less of a lamb. My rest broken, my health
jeoparded, and my immediate sufferings excruciating! Folly! madness in
We had not proceeded far before groups of from two to five hounds
could be heard in all directions in pursuit of Miss Mary Ann's.
Hitherto my hopes had been buoyed up by the number of hounds;
for I naturally concluded that our chances of success increased with
their number: but now I plainly saw that our only hope was upon Rome
and Louder, for all the others had resigned themselves unreservedly to
We were moving on upon a skirt of woods, entirely surrounded by
fields, when, from the opposite side of it, the well-known voice of the
deep mouthed Louder fell joyously upon our ears. "Hark!" cried all of
us at once. In an instant the clear, shrill note of Rome confirmed his
companion's report; for they always hunted together, and each obeyed
the call of the other in a moment. Then both together, then alternately
in quick succession, they repeated their assurances. In an instant, all
the various groups of hounds of which we were speaking were hushed, and
from every direction they could be seen dashing to the two favourites.
Such is the force of truth even with dumb brutes.
A loud scream of exultation and encouragement broke involuntarily
from all the huntsmen (not excepting myself), and each dashed for the
hounds as the impulse of the moment urged him on. Some skirted the
forest in one way, some in another; but Crocket plunged directly
through it at half speed; how, Heaven only knows; but I had hardly
missed him before I heard him encouraging the dogs in his presence. I
took a moment for reflection, which, of course, I was permitted to
enjoy alone. My conclusion was, that if Crocket could gallop through the wood with safety, I certainly could
it without injury; and as this was much the nearest way, I determined
to attempt it. My resolves were no sooner formed than they were
communicated to Smooth-tooth, who entered the wood with his accustomed
prudence and circumspection.
The first streaks of day had now appeared; but they were entirely
useless to me after I had entered the forest. I had proceeded about
sixty paces, when a limb of some kind (I know not what) fetched me a
wipe across the face that set the principles of philosophy at defiance;
for it was certainly four times as severe as Smooth-tooth's momentum
would have justified upon any known law of projectiles: at least it
seemed so to me; for it came like a flash of lightning over the icing
of my face; giving me, for the first time in my life, a sensible idea of the Georgia expression "feeling streaked;" for my face
actually felt as though it was covered with streaks of fire and streaks
Twenty paces more had like to have wound up my hunt with the
felon's death; for, as I was moving on with all due caution and
sobriety, a little, supple, infrangible grape-vine, attached to two
slim, elastic saplings, between which I passed, threw one of its
festoons gracefully around my neck, and politely informed me that I
must stop or be hung. I communicated this intelligence to Smooth-tooth
without loss of time; and, as stopping was his delight, he, of
course, obeyed the mandate as quick as he could. Prompt as was his
obedience, it was too slow for the petulant little grape -vine; for,
though it consented to spare my life, it dismissed me with most
ungentlemanly rudeness. It just took my profile from my neck upward,
passing over all the turns and angles of my face with a rigour that
Socrates himself could not have borne with patience. It returned from
its delineation like a bowstring, sending my hat aloft, I know not how
high; but, judging from the time which intervened between its departure
from my head and its report on the ground, I should say nearly to the
height of the wedded saplings. Never but once before had I such a
lively sense of the value of a hat in cold weather as I now had. The
chills ran from my head to my toes like ague-fits; and these I had to
bear for the space of a minute or two, before I could feel out my hat. At last I recovered it and remounted. "How was it possible,"
exclaimed I, "for Crocket to get through this wood at half speed! It
must be true, that 'fortuna favet fortibus,' and I'll
e'en risk a little upon the strength of the maxim." Switches were convenient, as my misfortunes have proved; and, having supplied
myself with one, I drew my hat over my eyes, brought my head down close
to Smooth-tooth's withers, hugged him tight with my legs, and put whip
to him manfully. Smooth-tooth now felt his dignity assailed,
and he put off at a respectable fox-hunting gait. This soon brought me
to the edge of the old field, with no other accident than a smart blow
from a sapling upon my right knee, which, though it nearly unhorsed me,
did me no serious injury.
Here I found all my companions reassembled. While the drag lay
within the frost-covered field, the dogs carried it briskly; but, as
soon as it entered the wood, they were at fault. In this situation they
were when I joined the huntsmen. It was long before we had any
encouragement to hope that they would ever take it beyond the margin of
the field; occasionally, however, and at painful intervals, the two
favourites would bid us not to despair. Crocket and three or four of
the party remained with and encouraged the hounds; while Andrews,
Marden, and myself adjourned to a narrow lane to enjoy the comforts of
the risen sun. The sluggish trail allowed us an hour's basking; which
so far relaxed my rigid members as to prepare me for enjoying Marden's
amusing stories and Steward's dry humour. While we were thus engaged,
and after we had relinquished all hope of a chase for that morning at
least, the notes of the two favourites became more and more frequent.
Soon a third and fourth voice joined them, and the chorus swelled and
varied with every second, until eight in the morning, when the whole
pack broke in full cry. Reynard was up, and twenty foes in hot pursuit.
How or why I am unable to tell, but truth constrains me to say,
that for some moments I was enraptured with the sport. The fox obliqued
towards us, and entered a field of which our position commanded a full
view. He must have left his covert with reluctance, for he was not more
than a hundred paces ahead of the hounds when he entered the field.
First of the pack, and side by side, the heroes of the clamorous band
rose the fence. Then followed, in thick array, the whole troop; and
close on their rear, Crocket burst through the copsewood and charged
the fence without a pause. Around me, in every direction, I could see
the huntsmen sweeping to the choir; and as, emerging from the forests
or gaining the heights around, they caught the first glimpse of the
gallant pack, they raised a shout which none but the overcharged heart
can give, and none but the lifeless heart receive unmoved. I was soon
deserted as before; but, partly from the inspiration of my recent
experiment, I plied Smooth-tooth with the whip most astonishingly
, and put off in pursuit of the hounds in handsome style, via the lane,
which happened to have exactly the curvature which I desired.
The fox had hardly left the field through which my eye followed
him, before, all of a sudden, the voice of every hound hushed. They
were completely at fault; and thus I found them when I once more joined
my company. They "knocked out," as the saying is, near to the corner of
'Squire Snibby's field, which lay contiguous to the first which they
entered. Dogs and men here toiled assiduously to take the trail away,
but in vain. At length Crocket suspected Reynard of a trick: he
conjectured that the cunning rogue had ascended the squire's fence, and
followed it some distance before he alighted. And so it proved to be;
for, taking some of the dogs with him along the fence side, Crocket
introduced them again to the trail, at the distance of full three
hundred yards from the point at which they lost it. The cry was now
renewed with all its former spirit. The fox, huntsmen, and hounds took
to the right; but, as fields lay in that direction, I concluded that he
would soon turn and follow the belt of woodland in the opposite
direction; I therefore took to the left by a pretty little path, which
might possibly have exerted some influence upon my determination. I had
not proceeded far before I encountered a large log lying directly
across my path. Here I resolved to experiment a little, unobserved,
upon Smooth-tooth's agility. "If," said I, "he clears that log in
handsome style, I'll charge the first (low) fence that intercepts my
pursuit." Accordingly, I put whip and heels to Smooth-tooth, who neared
it elegantly; but, as soon as he came within jumping distance, he
stopped with a suddenness and self-composure which plainly signified
that he expected me to let it down for him. The consequence was, that
I was very near being laid across the log for my pains. I now became
testy, and resolved that, as he would not "run and jump" it, he should
"stand and jump" it. I therefore brought him up to it, and commenced
the old discipline. After proposing to go round it either way without
my approbation, he at length raised his fore feet, and threw them
lazily over the log, coming down upon them as the white bear does in
breaking ice, and stopped right astride of the log. I was now prompted
by curiosity to see, if left to himself, whether he would stand there
or go on; and, strange as it may seem, his own free-will led him to
neither alternative: for he was in the very act of drawing his fore
feet back, with a kind of fall-down motion, when I gave him the
whip, and forced him to drag, rather than lift, his hind feet over.
This feat performed, I moved on about two hundred yards, when, as I
had anticipated, I heard the hounds coming directly towards me. I
stopped, and in a minute's time Reynard crossed the path within thirty
steps of me. Then came the dogs in the order in which they entered the
field; and hard upon them came Crocket upon his foaming steed.
"Did you see him?" exclaimed he, finding me near the trail.
"Yes," said I, "distinctly."
"How was his tail?"
"I didn't notice particularly, but sticking to him, I believe."
"Oh, nonsense!" said Crocket; "was his brush up or down?"
"Neither," said I; "he
brushed right across."
Here the major uttered something harsh, and dashed on. I afterward
learned that experienced fox-hunters know the extent of his exhaustion
from the manner in which he carries his tail.
out the fox's movement this time
successfully, I concluded I could do the like again: I therefore
reasoned that, after rambling about a short time, he would seek the
neighbourhood of his burrow. Accordingly, I paced back (going round the
log this time) to a position where I might intercept him. Here I
remained about an hour, without hearing man, horse, or dog: and then I
paced home, where I arrived at eleven o'clock, perfectly satisfied with
When my companions returned, they reported that, five miles from
where I was waiting for the fox, and seven from the village, at about
two o'clock P.M., right in the big road, near Richland Creek, the dogs
"knocked out," and could never be knocked in again.
But they brought home a rich fund of anecdote from the chase, which
served to enliven many an idle hour afterward; I reserved mine to the
present moment, to enliven the family fireside on these cold winter's
IN the city of — resided once a band of gay spirits, who, though
they differed from each other in some respects, were all alike in this,
that they were fond of fun.
Billy Grossly was an odd compound of grave and humorous. He seldom
projected a scheme of amusement, but never failed to take part in it
when it was set on foot by others. Why, it was not easy to tell; for,
if he enjoyed the most amusing pastime at all, his enjoyment was all
inward; for he rarely laughed, or gave any other visible sign of lively
Jack Clomes seemed to have been made for fun. It was his meat and
his drink: he could no more live without it, than he could live without
his ordinary diet. Withal, Jack had a wonderful talent for
manufacturing food for his prevailing appetite. Indeed, his fault was
that he never could be got to perform his part in a humorous
exhibition, which required concert with others, without digressing from
the main plot whenever he discovered a fair opportunity of picking up a
delicate morsel of fun precisely suited to his own palate.
James M'Lass was fond of a harmless frolic, and, whenever he
engaged in it, if by preconcert, he always made it a point of honour to
perform his part in strict obedience to the original design.
These three, with six or eight others, whose dispositions it is not
necessary to mention, visited the village of — in order to attend the
races which were in progress in the vicinity of that place.
Towards the close of the races, it was discovered that the joint
funds of the whole fraternity were not sufficient to discharge the
tavern-bills of any two of them. What was to be done in this emergency?
To have borrowed would have been extremely mortifying, and perhaps a
little inconvenient; to have gone away without paying their
tavern-bills would have been contrary to the first principles of
Georgia honour. They were soon relieved from their dilemma by the
ingenuity of Clomes.
During the races a "Down Easter" had been exhibiting wax figures in
the village; and concluding that the profits of his business would end
with the sports of the turf, he had begun to pack up his portables for
removal to a more eligible station.
Clomes now proposed that his company should take the places and
parts of the retiring figures; or, to use his own expression, "should
play wax-works," until they made enough to pay their bills. A single
night, it was thought, would suffice for this purpose.
The plan was no sooner proposed than it was embraced by all. The
room and its furniture were engaged for the evening; the parts were
cast without difficulty; and each went industriously to work, to fit
himself for the part he was to perform.
Billy Grossly, having the advantage of all the rest in height and
abdominal rotundity, was, by common consent, chosen as a proper
representative of Daniel Lambert, the prodigious Englishman, who
weighed, if I remember rightly, upward of six hundred pounds. The
reader need hardly be told, that, with all his advantages, Billy
required the aid of at least eight pillows, with some extra chinking
, as we say in Georgia, to give him a bulk corresponding with this
enormous weight: nor need he be told that divers of the most decent
bags which the village afforded, with a small sheet, were put in
requisition, to contain him and his adjuncts.
Freedom Lazenby was the only one of the company who could, with any
propriety, personify the Sleeping Beauty; and, of course, this part was
assigned to him. Freedom's figure was quite too gross for the beau
ideal of female symmetry; and his face, though fine for a man, had
rather too much compass to represent nature's finest touches of female
beauty. However, it was soon perceived that a counterpane would hide
the defects of the first, and a deep-frilled cap would reduce the last
to passable effeminacy. But there were two other difficulties which
were not so easily removed. It is well known that the interest of the
Sleeping Beauty is much enlivened by an exposed bosom, by which reposes
a lovely infant. Even Clomes's ingenuity could not supply these. A living child would not answer; for, whether taken to the arms of
the Beauty asleep or awake, it would be certain to give signs of life
before the exhibition ended; and there was not even a tolerable
manufacturer of bosoms in the whole village. There was no alternative;
the interest of the spectators must yield to the necessities of the
performers: it was therefore determined that the Beauty's bosom should
share the fate of her person, and be covered; that an infant should be
manufactured in the best possible style, out of rags; and that the
paint-brush should supply the place of wax for the face. As there were
no Raphaels, Titians, Wests, or Debuffes in the village, the little
innocent did not come from the hands of the artist with the most
perfect face imaginable; but it was the best that could be given to
it; and, if it wanted interest, that was not the fault of the company.
To James M'Lass was assigned the part of Miss Eliza Failes, the
unfortunate girl who was murdered by her unnatural lover, Jason
Fairbanks; and Clomes took the part of the murderer.
It was proposed to represent Miss Failes at the moment when the
blood was streaming from the lacerated throat; but Jemmy refused to
personify her in that condition, and therefore they had to place him in
another part of the tragedy. That was selected in which Fairbanks has
his victim by the hair with the left hand, the knife upraised in the
right, in the act of commencing his work of butchery.
The other figures, being merely distinguished personages, were
From some cause unknown, perhaps to invite visiters, or merely
because, perhaps, it was a matter that lay fully within the range of
the company's art, they resolved to exhibit a corpse in the
antechamber gratis; and Pleasant Halgroce, a jolly son of Bacchus,
kindly offered to play this part. Every child knows that a plate of
burning spirits, with a little salt thrown into it, will throw over the
features of a living person all the paleness and ghastliness of death.
This was the only device used to convert Pleasant's smirky red face
into that of a corpse.
All matters being now arranged, and the performers having practised
their parts in their new characters until they ceased to be ridiculous,
they all took their places after an early supper.
Before the doors were opened to the principal exhibition, a little
incident occurred in the antechamber which suddenly closed the
entertainment in this quarter, and had a material bearing upon that in
Pleasant Halgroce had taken his position, and was playing a corpse
to the life, or, rather, to the death, a number of persons
gathered round him, with becoming solemnity, when a dumb man, who was
devotedly attached to him, joined the group. As soon as his eyes fell
upon the prostrate body of Pleasant, he burst into the most piteous and
unaffected wailing. Nothing could restrain him from embracing his
departed friend. He approached him, and was in the act of bending over
him, to give him affection's fondest adieu, when a pretty stiff breeze
from Pleasant's lips, strengthened by previous suppression, charged
with the fumes of about half a pint of brandy, saluted the face of the
mourner. The transition from grief to joy was instantaneous with the
poor mute. He rose in transports; pointed to Pleasant's face, then to
his own, touched his nose, gave it a significant curl, snuffed gently,
and then clapping both hands to his stomach, he commenced inhaling and
respiring, with all the tone and emphasis of a pair of blacksmith's
bellows. Pleasant, now perceiving that exposure was inevitable, rose,
and rushed upon the dumb man with the fury of a tiger. This sudden
resuscitation of Pleasant to life in its most healthful action, was as
alarming to the mute as his breathing had been joyous; and he fled,
with Pleasant at his heels, as though all the tenants of the churchyard
had risen upon him at once.
Pleasant had only to resume his dress, and appear in a natural
light, to pass unknown by all but the initiated; for, aside from
burning brandy, he was no more like a corpse than a rose is like a lily.
Pleasant, being now out of employment, determined to take upon
himself the part of historian to the wax figures.
The door leading to the figures was no sooner opened, than several
persons entered, and viewed them with apparent satisfaction. The
spectators had increased to the number of eight or ten, when a
raw-boned, awkward, gawky son of the forest, named Rory Brushwood, made
his appearance, paid his money, and entered. Pleasant, of course,
undertook to enrich his mind with historic lore, while he feasted his
eye upon the wonders of art.
"This," said Pleasant, leading Rory up to the Sleeping Beauty, "is
the Sleeping Beauty: she's given up on all hands to be the prettiest
creature in the universal world. Now what would you give, my old Snort,
to have as pretty a wife and as pretty a baby as that!"
"Humph!" said Rory, "I don't think she's so d-d pretty as she mout
be: and as for the baby, it looks like a screech-owl in petticoats."
"Monstrous pretty! monstrous pretty!" continued Pleasant. "But come
here" — hurrying Rory off, lest his remarks should wake the Sleeping
Beauty — "come here, and I'll show you something that'll make your
hair rise like a fighting cat's."
"There!" continued he, pointing to Billy Grossly "just take a
squint at that fellow, will you: that's Daniel Lambert: he was born in
Nocatchey, and was raised upon nothing but grass-nuts and sweet
potatoes; and just see what he's come to! He weighs nine hundred and
fifty, dead weight."
"He's a whaler!" said Rory; "but his face is mighty little for his
belly and legs."
"Oh," said Pleasant, "that's owing to the grass-nuts and potatoes:
you know they always puff up the lower parts mightily."
Nobody but Billy could have withstood this lecture upon himself
without a smile; but he passed it off admirably.
The critical time was now at hand. Pleasant and Rory advanced in
front of Miss Failes and Mr. Fairbanks, where they found another
visitor viewing the interesting couple. Pleasant deemed it unadvisable
to continue his lectures in the presence of Clomes; and, had Clomes
himself been equally prudent, things might all have ended well: but he
While the three gentlemen just named were gazing on the figures
before there, Jack took it into his head to try a little experiment
upon Miss Failes's muscles, through the sensibilities of her head;
accordingly, he tightened his grip suddenly upon her hair. This brought
from her a slight wince; but Jack did not perceive it. Encouraged by
her philosophy, he made a second pull with all the strength that lay in
the muscles and sinews of his left hand.
This brought a palpable grin from Miss Failes; and, what was worse,
in the zeal of his experiments upon Jim's stoicism, Jack overacted his
own part a little.
"Gentlemen," said Rory, in a tone of awful dignity and
self-satisfaction, as he turned gravely to the by-standers, "gentlemen,
it's flesh and blood."
"There," said Pleasant, "that just proves what I've said: that
these are the best wax-works that ever was showed in all these parts.
It's most impossible to tell 'em from live folks."
"Gentleman," repeated Rory, with the same unruffled composure,
"it's flesh and blood. If I didn't see that fellow wink, and that woman squinch
her face, then hell's a dancing room."
"No matter for that." said Pleasant, "they're nothin' but wax for
all that: and, if you don't b'lieve me, just feel that fellow's cheek."
Rory raised his finger slowly, as if actually doubting the evidence
of his senses, and was just in the act of touching Jack's cheek, when
Jack snapped at his finger like a shark, and caught it between his
teeth with a force most unreasonable for fun.
The shock was so unexpected and severe, that it completely unmanned
Rory for the instant, and he sunk powerless upon the floor. He soon
rose, however, and rose with Miss Failes's chair, which happened to be
vacant just at this moment; and then (to use an expression of one of
the characters), "if ever you saw wax-works cut dirt, they cut it then."
Mr. Fairbanks was the first to make his escape, but not without
being nearly overtaken by the chair. Miss Failes followed next; then
General Washington and other distinguished personages, whose attitudes
prepared them for running. The Sleeping Beauty, being a little
encumbered with bedclothes, was rather slow in retiring; she was enough
in a hurry, however, to leave her little infant in the middle of the
floor to Rory's care, who, discovering its true character just as
Daniel Lambert was removing his feathers to another apartment let him
have the baby, with all his force, between the shoulders. As this was
only rags against pillows, Daniel escaped as free from injury as the
rest of them.
Rory now became clamorous for his money; but the doorkeeper was not
to be found; and, indeed, claimed and kept for his services all that
was made, leaving the performers to settle their bills as they could.
A SAGE CONVERSATION.
I LOVE the aged matrons of our land. As a class, they are the most
pious, the most benevolent, the most useful, and the most harmless of
the human family. Their life is a life of good offices. At home they
are patterns of industry, care, economy, and hospitality; abroad, they
are ministers of comfort, peace, and consolation. Where affliction is,
there are they to mitigate its pangs; where sorrow is, there are they
to assuage its pains. Nor night, nor day, nor summer's heat, nor
winter's cold, nor angry elements, can deter them from scenes of
suffering and distress. They are the first at the fevered couch, and
the last to leave it. They hold the first and last cup to the parched
lip. They bind the aching head, close the dying eye, and linger in the
death-stricken habitation, to pour the last drop of consolation into
the afflicted bosoms of the bereaved. I cannot, therefore, ridicule
them myself, nor bear to hear them ridiculed in my presence. And yet I
am often amused at their conversations; and have amused them with a rehearsal of their own conversations, taken down by me when
they little dreamed that I was listening to them. Perhaps my reverence
for their character, conspiring with a native propensity to extract
amusement from all that passes under my observation, has accustomed me
to pay a uniformly strict attention to all they say in my presence.
This much in extraordinary courtesy to those who cannot distinguish
between a simple narrative of an amusing interview, and ridicule of the
parties to it. Indeed, I do not know that the conversation which I am
about to record will be considered amusing by any of my readers.
Certainly the amusement of the readers of my own times is not the
leading object of it, or of any of the "Georgia Scenes;" forlorn as may
be the hope that their main object will ever be answered.
When I seated myself to the sheet now before me, my intention was
merely to detail a conversation between three ladies, which I heard
many years since; confining myself to only so much of it as sprung from
the ladies' own thoughts, unawakened by the suggestions of others; but,
as the manner of its introduction will perhaps interest some of my
readers, I will give it.
I was travelling with my old friend, Ned Brace, when we stopped at
the dusk of the evening at a house on the roadside for the night. Here
we found three nice, tidy, aged matrons, the youngest of whom could not
have been under sixty; one of them, of course, was the lady of the
house, whose husband, old as he was, had gone from home upon a
land-exploring expedition. She received us hospitably, had our horses
well attended to, and soon prepared for us a comfortable supper. While
these things were doing, Ned and I engaged the other two in
conversation; in the course of which, Ned deported himself with
becoming seriousness. The kind lady of the house occasionally joined
us, and became permanently one of the party from the time the first
dish was placed on the table. At the usual hour we were summoned to
supper; and, as soon as we were seated, Ned, unsolicited, and most
unexpectedly to me, said grace. I knew full well that this was a
prelude to some trick, I could not conjecture what. His explanation
(except so much as I discovered myself) was, that he knew that one of
us would be asked to say grace, and he thought he might as well save
the good ladies the trouble of asking. The matter was, however, more
fully explained just before the moment of our retiring to bed arrived.
To this moment the conversation went round between the good ladies and
ourselves with mutual interest to all. It was much enlivened by Ned,
who was capable, as the reader has been heretofore informed, of making
himself extremely agreeable in all company; and who, upon this
occasion, was upon his very best behaviour. It was immediately after I
had looked at my watch, in token of my disposition to retire for the
night, that the conversation turned upon marriages, happy and unhappy,
strange, unequal, runaways, &c. Ned rose in the midst of it, and asked
the landlady where we should sleep. She pointed to an open shed-room
adjoining the room in which we were sitting, and separated from it by a
log partition, between the spaces of which might be seen all that
passed in the dining-room; and so close to the fireplace of this
apartment, that a loud whisper might be easily heard from one to the
"The strangest match," said Ned, resuming the conversation with a
parson's gravity, "that ever I heard of, was that of George Scott and
David Snow: two most excellent men, who became so much attached to each
other that they actually got married — "
"The lackaday!" exclaimed one of the ladies.
"And was it really a fact?" inquired another.
"Oh, yes, ma'am," continued Ned; "I knew them very well, and often
went to their house; and no people could have lived happier or managed
better than they did. And they raised a lovely parcel of children; as
fine a set as I ever saw, except their youngest son, Billy: he was a
little wild, but, upon the whole, a right clever boy himself. Come,
friend Baldwin, we're setting up too late for travellers." So saying,
Ned moved to the shed room, and I followed him.
The ladies were left in silent amazement, and Ned, suspecting,
doubtless, that they were listening for a laugh from our chamber as we
entered it, continued the subject with unabated gravity, thus: "You
knew those two men, didn't you?"
"Where did they live!" inquired I, not a little disposed to humour
"Why, they lived down there, on Cedar Creek, close by Jacob
Denman's. Oh, I'll tell you who their daughter Nancy married: she
married John Clarke; you knew him very well."
"Oh, yes," said I, "I knew John Clarke very well. His wife
was a most excellent woman."
"Well, the boys were just as clever, for boys, as she was for a
girl, except Bill; and I never heard anything very bad of him,
unless it was his laughing in church; that put me more out of conceit
of him than anything I ever knew of him. — Now, Baldwin, when I go to
bed, I go to bed to sleep, and not to talk; and therefore, from
the time my head touches the pillow, there must be no more talking.
Besides, we must take an early start to-morrow, and I'm tired." So
saying, he hopped into his bed, and I obeyed his injunctions.
Before I followed his example, I could not resist the temptation of
casting an eye through the cracks of the partition, to see the effect
of Ned's wonderful story upon the kind ladies. Mrs. Barney (it is time
to give their names) was sitting in a thoughtful posture; her left hand
supporting her chin, and her knee supporting her left elbow. Her
countenance was that of one who suffers from a slight toothache. Mrs.
Shad leaned forward, resting her forearm on her knees, and looking into
the fire as if she saw groups of children playing in it. Mrs.
Reed, the landlady, who was the fattest of the three, was thinking and
laughing alternately at short intervals. From my bed it required but a
slight change of position to see any one of the group at pleasure.
I was no sooner composed on my pillow, than the old ladies drew
their chairs close together, and began the following colloquy in a low
under tone, which rose as it progressed:
Didn't that man say them was two
men that got married to one another?
It seemed to me so.
Why, to be sure he did. I know he said so; for
he said what their names was.
Well, in the name o' sense, what did the man mean
by saying they raised a fine parcel of children?
Why, bless your heart and soul, honey! that's what
I've been thinkin' about. It seems mighty curious to me some how or
other. I can't study it out, no how.
The man must be jokin', certainly.
No, he wasn't jokin'; for I looked at him, and he
was just as much in yearnest as anybody I ever seed; and
besides, no Christian man would tell such a story in that
solemn way. And didn't you hear that other man say he knew their da'ter
But, la messy! Mis' Reed, it can't be so. It
doesn't stand to reason; don't you know it don't?
Well, I wouldn't think so; but it's hard for me
somehow to dispute a Christian man's word.
I've been thinking the thing all over in my mind,
and I reckon — now I don't say it is so, for I don't know nothing at
all about it — but I reckon that one of them men was a women dress'd
in men's clothes; for I've often hearn o' women doin' them things, and
following their true-love to the wars, and bein' a waitin'-boy to 'em,
and all sich.
Well, maybe it's some how in that way; but, la me!
'twould o' been obliged to been found out; don't you know it would?
Only think how many children she had. Now it stands to reason, that at
some time or other it must have been found out.
Well, I'm an old woman any how, and I reckon the
good man won't mind what an old woman says to him; so, bless the Lord,
if I live to see the morning, I'll ask him about it.
I knew that Ned was surpassed by no man living in extricating
himself from difficulties; but how he was to escape from this, with
even tolerable credit to himself, I could not devise.
The ladies here took leave of Ned's marvellous story, drew
themselves closely round the fire, lighted their pipes, and proceeded
Jist before me and my old man was married, there
was a gal name Nancy Mountcastle (puff, puff), and she was a mighty
likely gal (puff); I know'd her mighty well; she dressed herself up in
men's clothes (puff, puff), and followed Jemmy Darden from P'ankatank,
in KING AND QUEEN (puff), clean up to LOUDON.
(puff, puff, puff, puff, puff). And did he marry
(sighing deeply). No: Jemmy didn't marry her; pity
he hadn't, poor thing.
Well, I know'd a gal on Tar river done the same
thing (puff, puff, puff). She followed Moses Rusher 'way down somewhere
in the South State (puff, puff).
(puff, puff, puff, puff). And what did he do?
Ah! (puff, puff). Lord bless your soul, honey, I
can't tell you what he did. Bad enough.
Well, now, it seems to me — I don't know much
about it — but it seems to me, men don't like to marry gals that take
on that way. It looks like it puts 'em out o' concait of 'em.
I know'd one man that married a woman that followed
him from Car'lina to this state; but she didn't dress herself in men's
clothes. You both know 'em. You know Simpson Trotty's sister and
Rachael's son Reuben. 'Twas him and his wife.
Mrs. R. and Mrs. B.
Oh yes, I know 'em mighty well.
Well, it was his wife; she followed him out to this
I know'd 'em all mighty well. Her da'ter Lucy was
the littlest teeny bit of a thing when it was born I ever did see. But
they tell me that, when I was born — now I don't know anything about
it myself — but the old folks used to tell me, that, when I was born,
they put me in a quart mug, and mought o' covered me up in it.
What ailment did Lucy die of, Mis' Barney?
Why, first she took the ager and fever, and took a
'bundance o' doctor's means for that. And then she got a powerful bad
cough, and it kept gittin' worse and worse, till at last it turned into
a consumption, and she jist nat'ly wasted away, till she was nothing
but skin and bone, and she died; but, poor creater, she died mighty
happy; and I think, in my heart, she made the prettiest corpse,
considerin', of anybody I most ever seed.
Mrs. R. and Mrs. S.
What did the doctors give her for the fever and
Oh, they gin' her a 'bundance o' truck; I don't
know what all; and none of 'em holp her at all. But at last she got
over it, some how or other. If they'd have just gin' her a sweat o'
bitter yerbs, jist as the spell was comin' on, it would have cured her
Well, I reckon sheep-saffron the onliest thing in
nater for the ager.
I've always hearn it was wonderful in hives and
Well, it's just as good for an ager; it's a
powerful sweat. Mrs. Clarkson told me, that her cousin Betsy's aunt
Sally's Nancy was cured sound and well by it, of a hard shakin' ager.
Why, you don't tell me so!
Oh, bless your heart, honey, it's every word true;
for she told me so with her own mouth.
"A hard, hard shakin' ager!!"
Oh yes, honey, it's the truth.
Well, I'm told that if you'll wrap the inside skin
of an egg round your little finger, and go three days reg'lar to a
young persimmon, and tie a string round it, and every day tie three
knots in it, and then not go agin for three days, that the ager will
I've often hearn o' that, but I don't know about
it. Some people don't believe in it.
Well, Davy Cooper's wife told me she didn't believe
in it; but she tried it, and it cured her sound and well.
I've hearn of many folks bein' cured in that way.
And what did they do for Lucy's cough, Mis' Barney.
Oh, dear me, they gin her a powerful chance o'
truck. I reckon, first and last, she took at least a pint o' lodimy.
Mrs. S. and Mrs. R.
Why that ought to have killed her, if nothing else.
If they'd jist gin' her a little cumfry and alecampane, stewed in
honey, or sugar, or molasses, with a little lump o' mutton suet or
butter in it, it would have cured her in two days, sound and well.
I've always counted cumfry and alecampane the lead
of all yerbs for colds.
Horehound and sugar's mazin good.
Mighty good, mighty good.
Mrs. R. Powerful good. I take mightily to a sweat of
sage-tea in desperate bad colds.
Mrs. S. And so do I, Mis' Reed. Indeed, I have a great
leanin' to sweats of yerbs, in all ailments sich as colds, and rheumaty
pains, and pleurisies, and sich; they're wonderful good. Old brother
Smith came to my house from Bethany meeting in a mighty bad way with a
cold and cough, and his throat and nose all stopped up; seemed like it
would 'most take his breath away; and it was dead o' winter, and I had
nothin' but dried yerbs, sich as camomile, sage, pennyryal, catmint,
horehound, and sich; so I put a hot rock to his feet, and made him a
large bowl o' catmint tea, and I reckon he drank most two quarts of it
through the night, and it put him in a mighty fine sweat, and loosened
all the phleem, and opened all his head; and the next morning,
says he to me, says he, sister Shad — you know he's a mighty kind
spoken man, and always was so 'fore he joined society; and the old man
likes a joke yet right well, the old man does; but he's a mighty good
man, and I think he prays with greater libity than most any one of his
age I most ever seed don't you think he does, Mis' Reed?
Who did he marry?
Why he married — stop, I'll tell you directly.
Why, what does make my old head forget so?
Well, it seems to me I don't remember like I used
to. Didn't he marry a Ramsbottom?
No. Stay, I'll tell you who he married presently.
Oh, stay! why I'll tell you who he married! He married old daddy Johny
Hooer's da'ter Mournin'.
Why, la! messy on me, so he did!
Why, did he marry a Hooer?
Why, to be sure he did. You knew Mournin'.
Oh, mighty well; but I'd forgot that brother Smith
married her: I really thought he married a Ramsbottom.
Oh no, bless your soul, honey, he married Mournin'.
Well, the law me, I'm clear beat!
Oh, it's so, you may be sure it is.
Emp, emph, emph, emph! And brother Smith married
Mournin' Hooer! Well, I'm clear put out! Seems to me I'm gittin' mighty
forgetful, some how.
Oh yes, he married Mournin', and I saw her when she
Why, you don't tell me so!
Oh, it's the truth. She didn't join till after she
was married, and the church took on mightily about his marrying one out
of society. But after she joined they all got satisfied.
Why, la! me, the seven stars is 'way over here!
Well, let's light our pipes, and take a short
smoke, and go to bed. How did you come on raisin' chickens this year,
La messy, honey! I have had mighty bad luck. I had
the prettiest pa'sel you most every seed till the varment took to
Mrs. R and Mrs. B.
Oh dear, yes! The hawk catched a powerful sight of
them; and then the varment took to 'em, and nat'ly took 'em fore and
aft, bodily, till they left most none at all hardly. Sucky counted 'em
up t'other day, and there warn't but thirty-nine, she said, countin' in
the old speckle hen's chickens that jist come off of her nest.
Mrs. R and Mrs. B.
Well, I've had bad luck too. Billy's hound-dogs
broke up most all my nests.
Well, so they did me, Mis' Reed. I always did
despise a hound-dog upon the face of yea'th.
Oh, they're the bawllinest, squallinest,
thievishest things ever was about one; but Billy will have 'em, and I
think in my soul his old Troup's the beat of all creaters I ever seed
in all my born days a suckin' o' hen's eggs. He's clean most broke me
And them that was hatched out, some took to takin'
the gaps, and some the pip, and one ailment or other, till they most
Well, I reckon there must be somethin' in the
season this year that an't good for fowls: for Larkin Goodman's brother
Jimme's wife's aunt Penny told me, she lost most all her fowls with
different sorts of ailments, the like of which she never seed before.
They'd jist go 'long lookin' right well, and tilt right over backward (
Mrs. B. The law!) and die right away (Mrs. R. Did you
ever!), with a sort o somethin' like the blind staggers.
Mrs B. and Mrs. R.
Messy on me!
Mrs B. I reckon they must have eat somethin' didn't agree
No they didn't, for she fed 'em every mornin' with
her own hand.
Well, it's mighty curious!
A short pause ensued, which was broken by Mrs. Barney with, "And
brother Smith married Mournin' Hooer!" It came like an opiate upon my
senses, and I dropped asleep.
The next morning, when we rose from our beds, we found the good
ladies sitting round the fire just as I left them, for they rose long
Mrs. Barney was just in the act of ejaculating, "And brother Smith
married Mournin' — " when she was interrupted by our entry into the
dining-room. We were hardly seated before Mrs. Reed began to verify her
promise. "Mr. -," said she to Ned, "didn't you say last night that them
was two men that got married to one another?"
"Yes, madam," said Ned.
"And didn't you say they raised a fine pa'cel of children?"
"Yes, madam, except Billy. I said, you know, that he was a little
"Well, yes; I know you said Billy wasn't as clever as the rest of
them. But we old women were talking about it last night after you went
out, and none of us could make it out how they could have children; and
I said, I reckoned you wouldn't mind an old woman's chat; and,
therefore, that I would ask you how it could be? I suppose you won't
mind telling an old woman how it was.
"Certainly not, madam. They were both widowers before they fell in
love with each other and got married."
"The lackaday! I wonder none of us thought o' that. And they had
children before they got married?"
"Yes, madam; they had none afterward that I heard of."
We were here informed that our horses were in waiting, and we bade
the good ladies farewell.
SHOOTING-MATCHES are probably nearly coeval with the colonization of
Georgia. They are still common throughout the Southern States, though
they are not as common as they were twenty-five or thirty years ago.
Chance led me to one about a year ago. I was travelling in one of the
northeastern counties, when I overtook a swarthy, bright-eyed, smerky
little fellow, riding a small pony, and bearing on his shoulder a long,
heavy rifle, which, judging from its looks, I should say had done
service in Morgan's corps.
"Good morning, sir!" said I, reining up my horse as I came beside
"How goes it, stranger?" said he, with a tone of independence and
self-confidence that awakened my curiosity to know a little of his
"Going driving?" inquired I.
"Not exactly," replied he, surveying my horse with a quizzical
smile; "I haven't been a driving by myself for a year or two;
and my nose has got so bad lately, I can't carry a cold trail without hounds to help me."
Alone, and without hounds as he was, the question was rather a
silly one; but it answered the purpose for which it was put, which was
only to draw him into conversation, and I proceeded to make as decent a
retreat as I could.
"I didn't know," said I, "but that you were going to meet the
huntsmen, or going to your stand."
"Ah, sure enough," rejoined he, "that
mout be a bee, as
the old woman said when she killed a wasp. It seems to me I ought to
"Well, if you
your name be?"
be anything," said I, with borrowed wit; for I
knew my man, and knew what kind of conversation would please him most.
is it, then?"
Hall," said I; "but you know it might as well have
been anything else."
"Pretty digging!" said he. "I find you're not the fool I took you
to be; so here's to a better acquaintance with you."
"With all my heart," returned I; "but you must be as clever as I've
been, and give me your name."
"To be sure I will, my old coon; take it, take it, and welcome.
Anything else about me you'd like to have?"
"No," said I, "there's nothing else about you worth having."
"Oh, yes there is, stranger! Do you see this?" holding up his
ponderous rifle with an ease that astonished me. "If you will go with
me to the shooting-match, and see me knock out the bull's-eye with her a few times, you'll agree the old
something when Billy Curlew puts his shoulder to her."
This short sentence was replete with information to me. It taught
me that my companion was Billy Curlew; that he was going to a shooting-match; that he called his rifle the
and that he was very confident of winning beef with her; or, which is
nearly, but not quite the same thing, driving the cross with her
"Well," said I, "if the shooting-match is not too far out of my
way, I'll go to it with pleasure."
"Unless your way lies through the woods from here," said Billy,
"it'll not be much out of your way; for it's only a mile ahead of us,
and there is no other road for you to take till you get there; and as
that thing you're riding in an't well suited to fast travelling among
brushy knobs, I reckon you won't lose much by going by. I reckon you
hardly ever was at a shooting-match, stranger, from the cut of your
"Oh yes," returned I, "many a time. I won beef at one when I was
hardly old enough to hold a shot-gun off-hand."
don't go to shooting-matches about here," said
he, with a smile of incredulity. "I never heard of but one that did,
and he was a little swinge cat. He was born a shooting, and
killed squirrels before he was weaned."
I ever hear of but one," replied I, "and that one
"And where did you win beef so young, stranger?"
"At Berry Adams's."
"Why, stop, stranger, let me look at you good! Is your name
"The very same," said I.
"Well, dang my buttons, if you an't the very boy my daddy used to
tell me about. I was too young to recollect you myself; but I've heard
daddy talk about you many a time. I believe mammy's got a
neck-handkerchief now that daddy won on your shooting at Collen Reid's
store, when you were hardly knee high. Come along, Lyman, and I'll go
my death upon you at the shooting-match, with the old Soap-stick at
"Ah, Billy," said I, "the old Soap-stick will do much better at
your own shoulder. It was my mother's notion that sent me to the
shooting-match at Berry Adams's; and, to tell the honest truth, it was
altogether a chance shot that made me win beef; but that wasn't
generally known; and most everybody believed that I was carried there
on account of my skill in shooting; and my fame was spread far and
wide, I well remember. I remember too, perfectly well, your father's
bet on me at the store. He was at the shooting-match, and
nothing could make him believe but that I was a great shot with a rifle
as well as a shot-gun. Bet he would on me, in spite of all I could say,
though I assured him that I had never shot a rifle in my life. It so
happened, too, that there were but two bullets, or, rather, a bullet
and a half; and so confident was your father in my skill, that he made
me shoot the half bullet; and, strange to tell, by another chance shot,
I like to have drove the cross and won his bet."
"Now I know you're the very chap; for I heard daddy tell that very
thing about the half bullet. Don't say anything about it, Lyman, and
darn my old shoes if I don't tare the lint off the boys with you at the
shooting-match. They'll never 'spect such a looking man as you are of
knowing anything about a rifle. I'll risk your chance shots."
I soon discovered that the father had eaten sour grapes, and the
son's teeth were on edge; for Billy was just as incorrigibly obstinate
in his belief of my dexterity with a rifle as his father had been
We soon reached the place appointed for the shooting-match. It went
by the name of Sims's Cross Roads, because here two roads intersected
each other; and because, from the time that the first had been laid
out, Archibald Sims had resided there. Archibald had been a justice of
the peace in his day (and where is the man of his age in Georgia who
has not?); consequently, he was called 'Squire Sims. It is the
custom in this state, when a man has once acquired a title, civil or
military, to force it upon him as long as he lives; hence the countless
number of titled personages who are introduced in these sketches.
We stopped at the 'squire's door. Billy hastily dismounted, gave me
the shake of the hand which he had been reluctantly reserving for a
mile back, and, leading me up to the 'squire, thus introduced me:
"Uncle Archy, this is Lyman Hall; and for all you see him in these fine
clothes, he's a swinge cat; a darn sight cleverer fellow than
he looks to be. Wait till you see him lift the old Soap-stick, and draw
a bead upon the bull's-eye. You gwine to see fun here today.
Don't say nothing about it."
"Well, Mr. Swinge-cat," said the 'squire, "here's to a better
acquaintance with you," offering me his hand.
"How goes it, Uncle Archy?" said I, taking his hand warmly (for I
am always free and easy with those who are so with me; and in this
course I rarely fail to please). "How's the old woman?"
"Egad," said the 'squire, chuckling, "there you're too hard for me;
for she died two-and-twenty years ago, and I haven't heard a word from
"What! and you never married again!"
"Never, as God's my judge!" (a solemn asseveration, truly, upon so
light a subject.)
"Well, that's not my fault."
"No, nor it's not mine
nither," said the 'squire.
Here we were interrupted by the cry of another Rancey Sniffle.
"Hello, here! All you as wish to put in for the shoot'n'-match, come on
here! for the putt'n' in's riddy to begin."
About sixty persons, including mere spectators, had collected; the
most of whom were more or less obedient to the call of Mealy
Whitecotton, for that was the name of the self constituted
commander-in-chief. Some hastened and some loitered, as they desired to
be first or last on the list; for they shoot in the order in which
their names are entered.
The beef was not present, nor is it ever upon such occasions; but
several of the company had seen it, who all concurred in the opinion
that it was a good beef, and well worth the price that was set upon it
— eleven dollars. A general inquiry ran round, in order to form some
opinion as to the number of shots that would be taken; for, of course,
the price of a shot is cheapened in proportion to the increase of that
number. It was soon ascertained that not more than twenty persons would
take chances; but these twenty agreed to take the number of shots, at
twenty-five cents each.
The competitors now began to give in their names; some for one,
some for two, three, and a few for as many as four shots.
Billy Curlew hung back to the last; and when the list was offered
him, five shots remained undisposed of.
"How many shots left?" inquired Billy.
"Five," was the reply.
"Well, I take 'em all. Put down four shots to me, and one to Lyman
Hall, paid for by William Curlew."
I was thunder struck; not at his proposition to pay for my shot,
because I knew that Billy meant it as a token of friendship, and he
would have been hurt if I had refused to let him do me this favour; but
at the unexpected announcement of my name as a competitor for beef; at
least one hundred miles from the place of my residence. I was prepared
for a challenge from Billy to some of his neighbours for a private match upon me; but not for this.
I therefore protested against his putting in for me, and urged
every reason to dissuade him from it that I could, without wounding his
"Put it down!" said Billy, with the authority of an emperor, and
with a look that spoke volumes intelligible to every by-stander.
"Reckon I don't know what I'm about?" Then wheeling off, and muttering
in an under, self-confident tone, "Dang old Roper," continued he, "if
he don't knock that cross to the north corner of creation and back
again before a cat can lick her foot."
Had I been king of the cat tribe, they could not have regarded me
with more curious attention than did the whole company from this
moment. Every inch of me was examined with the nicest scrutiny; and
some plainly expressed by their looks that they never would have taken
me for such a bite. I saw no alternative but to throw myself upon a
third chance shot; for though, by the rules of the sport, I would have
been allowed to shoot by proxy, by all the rules of good breeding I was
bound to shoot in person. It would have been unpardonable to disappoint
the expectations which had been raised on me. Unfortunately, too, for
me, the match differed in one respect from those which I had been in
the habit of attending in my younger days. In olden time the contest
was carried on chiefly with shot-guns, a generic term which, in
those days, embraced three descriptions of firearms: Indian-traders (a long, cheap, but sometimes excellent kind of gun, that mother
Britain used to send hither for traffic with the Indians); the
large musket, and the shot-gun, properly so called Rifles
were, however, always permitted to compete with them, under equitable
restrictions. These were, that they should be fired off-hand, while the
shot-guns were allowed a rest, the distance being equal; or that the
distance should be one hundred yards for a rifle, to sixty for the shot
gun, the mode of firing being equal.
But this was a match of rifles exclusively; and these are by far
the most common at this time.
Most of the competitors fire at the same target; which is usually a
board from nine inches to a foot wide, charred on one side as black as
it can be made by fire, without impairing materially the uniformity of
its surface; on the darkened side of which is pegged a square
piece of white paper, which is larger or smaller, according to the
distance at which it is to be placed from the marksmen. This is almost
invariably sixty yards, and for it the paper is reduced to about two
and a half inches square. Out of the centre of it is cut a rhombus of
about the width of an inch, measured diagonally; this is the bull's-eye, or
diamond, as the marksmen choose to call it:
in the centre of this is the cross. But every man is permitted to fix
his target to his own taste; and accordingly, some remove one fourth of
the paper, cutting from the centre of the square to the two lower
corners, so as to leave a large angle opening from the centre downward;
while others reduce the angle more or less: but it is rarely the case
that all are not satisfied with one of these figures.
The beef is divided into five prizes, or, as they are commonly
termed, five quarters— the hide and tallow counting as one.
For several years after the revolutionary war, a sixth was added; the lead
which was shot in the match. This was the prize of the sixth
best shot; and it used to be carefully extracted from the board or tree
in which it was lodged, and afterward remoulded. But this grew out of
the exigency of the times, and has, I believe, been long since
The three master shots and rivals were Moses Firmby, Larkin Spivey,
and Billy Curlew; to whom was added, upon this occasion, by common
consent and with awful forebodings, your humble servant.
The target was fixed at an elevation of about three feet from the
ground; and the judges (Captain Turner and 'Squire Porter) took their
stands by it, joined by about half the spectators.
The first name on the catalogue was Mealy Whitecotton. Mealy
stepped out, rifle in hand, and toed the mark. His rifle was about
three inches longer than himself, and near enough his own thickness to
make the remark of Darby Chislom, as he stepped out, tolerably
appropriate: "Here comes the corn-stock and the sucker!" said Darby.
"Kiss my foot!" said Mealy. "The way I'll creep into that
bull's-eye's a fact."
"You'd better creep into your hind sight," said Darby. Mealy raised
"A pretty good shot, Mealy!" said one.
"Yes, a blamed good shot!" said a second.
"Well done, Meal!" said a third.
I was rejoiced when one of the company inquired, "Where is it?" for
I could hardly believe they were founding these remarks upon the
evidence of their senses.
"Just on the right-hand side of the bull's-eye," was the reply.
I looked with all the power of my eyes, but was unable to discover
the least change in the surface of the paper. Their report, however,
was true; so much keener is the vision of a practised than an
The next in order was Hiram Baugh. Hiram was like some race-horses
which I have seen; he was too good not to contend for every prize, and
too good for nothing ever to win one.
"Gentlemen," said he, as he came to the mark, "I don't say that
I'll win beef; but if my piece don't blow, I'll eat the paper, or be
mighty apt to do it, if you'll b'lieve my racket. My powder are not
good powder, gentlemen; I bought it thum (from) Zeb Daggett,
and gin him three quarters of a dollar a pound for it; but it are not
what I call good powder, gentlemen; but if old Buck-killer burns it
clear, the boy you call Hiram Baugh eat's paper, or comes mighty near
"Well, blaze away," said Mealy, "and be d-d to you, and Zeb
Daggett, and your powder, and Buck-killer, and your powder-horn and
shot-pouch to boot! How long you gwine stand thar talking 'fore you
"Never mind," said Hiram, "I can talk a little and shoot a little
too; but that's nothin'. Here goes!"
Hiram assumed the figure of a note of interrogation, took a long
sight, and fired.
"I've eat paper," said he, at the crack of the gun, without
looking, or seeming to look, towards the target. "Buck-killer made a
clear racket. Where am I, gentlemen?"
"You're just between Mealy and the diamond," was the reply.
"I said I'd eat paper, and I've done it; haven't I, gentlemen?"
"And 'spose you have!" said Mealy, "what do that 'mount to? You'll
not win beef, and never did."
"Be that as it mout be, I've beat Meal 'Cotton mighty easy; and the
boy you call Hiram Baugh are able to do it."
"And what do that 'mount to? Who the devil an't able to beat Meal
'Cotton! I don't make no pretense of bein' nothin' great, no how: but
you always makes out as if you were gwine to keep 'em makin' crosses
for you constant, and then do nothin' but 'eat paper' at last;
and that's a long way from eatin' beef, 'cordin' to Meal
'Cotton's notions, as you call him.
Simon Stow was now called on.
"Oh Lord!" exclaimed two or three: "now we have it. It'll take him
as long to shoot as it would take 'Squire Dobbins to run round a track o' land."
"Good-by, boys," said Bob Martin.
"Where are you going, Bob?"
"Going to gather in my crop; I'll be back agin though by the time
Sime Stow shoots."
Simon was used to all this, and therefore it did not disconcert him
in the least. He went off and brought his own target, and set it up
with his own hand.
He then wiped out his rifle, rubbed the pan with his hat, drew a
piece of tow through the touch-hole with his wiper, filled his charger
with great care, poured the powder into the rifle with equal caution,
shoved in with his finger the two or three vagrant grains that lodged
round the mouth of his piece, took out a handful of bullets, looked
them all over carefully, selected one without flaw or wrinkle, drew out
his patching, found the most even part of it, sprung open the
grease-box in the breech of his rifle, took up just so much grease,
distributed it with great equality over the chosen part of his
patching, laid it over the muzzle of his rifle, grease side down,
placed his ball upon it, pressed it a little, then took it up and
turned the neck a little more perpendicularly downward, placed his
knife handle on it, just buried it in the mouth of the rifle, cut off
the redundant patching just above the bullet, looked at it, and shook
his head, in token that he had cut off too much or too little, no one
knew which, sent down the ball, measured the contents of his gun with
his first and second fingers on the protruding part of the ramrod,
shook his head again, to signify there was too much or too little
powder, primed carefully, placed an arched piece of tin over the hind
sight to shade it, took his place, got a friend to hold his hat over
the foresight to shade it, took a very long sight, fired, and didn't
even eat the paper.
"My piece was badly
loadned," said Simon, when he learned
the place of his ball.
"Oh, you didn't take time," said Mealy. "No man can shoot that's in
such a hurry as you is. I'd hardly got to sleep 'fore I heard the crack
o' the gun."
The next was Moses Firmby. He was a tall, slim man, of rather
sallow complexion; and it is a singular fact, that though probably no
part of the world is more healthy than the mountainous parts of
Georgia, the mountaineers have not generally robust frames or fine
complexions: they are, however, almost inexhaustible by toil.
Moses kept us not long in suspense. His rifle was already charged,
and he fixed it upon the target with a steadiness of nerve and aim that
was astonishing to me and alarming to all the rest. A few seconds, and
the report of his rifle broke the deathlike silence which prevailed.
"No great harm done yet," said Spivey, manifestly relieved from
anxiety by an event which seemed to me better calculated to produce
despair. Firmby's ball had cut out the lower angle of the diamond,
directly on a right line with the cross.
Three or four followed him without bettering his shot; all of whom,
however, with one exception, "eat the paper."
It now came to Spivey's turn. There was nothing remarkable in his
person or manner. He took his place, lowered his rifle slowly from a
perpendicular until it came on a line with the mark, held it there like
a vice for a moment, and fired.
sevigrous, but nothing killing yet," said Billy
Curlew, as he learned the place of Spivey's ball.
Spivey's ball had just broken the upper angle of the diamond;
beating Firmby about half its width.
A few more shots, in which there was nothing remarkable, brought us
to Billy Curlew. Billy stepped out with much confidence, and brought
the Soap-stick to an order, while he deliberately rolled up his shirt
sleeves. Had I judged of Billy's chance of success from the looks of
his gun, I should have said it was hopeless. The stock of Soap-stick
seemed to have been made with a case-knife; and had it been, the tool
would have been but a poor apology for its clumsy appearance. An
auger-hole in the breech served for a grease-box; a cotton string
assisted a single screw in holding on the lock; and the thimbles ware
made, one of brass, one of iron, and one of tin.
"Where's Lark Spivey's bullet?" called out Billy to the judges, as
he finished rolling up his sleeves.
"About three quarters of an inch from the cross," was the reply.
"Well, clear the way! the Soap-stick's coming, and she'll be along
in there among 'em presently."
Billy now planted himself astraddle, like an inverted V; shot
forward his left hip, drew his body back to an angle of about forty
five degrees with the plane of the horizon, brought his cheek down
close to the breech of old Soap-stick, and fixed her upon the mark with
untrembling hand. His sight was long, and the swelling muscles of his
left arm led me to believe that he was lessening his chance of success
with every half second that he kept it burdened with his ponderous
rifle; but it neither flagged nor wavered until Soap-stick made her
"Where am I?" said Billy, as the smoke rose from before his eye.
"You've jist touched the cross on the lower side," was the reply of
one of the judges.
"I was afraid I was drawing my bead a
leetle too fine,"
said Billy. "Now, Lyman, you see what the Soap-stick can do. Take her,
and show the boys how you used to do when you was a baby."
I begged to reserve my shot to the last; pleading, rather
sophistically, that it was, in point of fact, one of Billy's shots. My
plea was rather indulged than sustained, and the marksmen who had taken
more than one shot commenced the second round. This round was a
manifest improvement upon the first. The cross was driven three times:
once by Spivey, once by Firmby, and once by no less a personage than
Mealy Whitecotton, whom chance seemed to favour for this time, merely
that he might retaliate upon Hiram Baugh; and the bull's-eye was
disfigured out of all shape.
The third and fourth rounds were shot. Billy discharged his last
shot, which left the rights of parties thus: Billy Curlew first and
fourth choice, Spivey second, Firmby third, and Whitecotton fifth.
Some of my readers may perhaps be curious to learn how a distinction
comes to be made between several, all of whom drive the cross. The
distinction is perfectly natural and equitable. Threads are stretched
from the uneffaced parts of the once intersecting lines, by means of
which the original position of the cross is precisely ascertained. Each
bullet-hole being nicely pegged up as it is made, it is easy to
ascertain its circumference. To this I believe they usually, if not
invariably, measure, where none of the balls touch the cross; but if
the cross be driven, they measure from it to the centre of the
bullet-hole. To make a draw shot, therefore, between two who drive the
cross, it is necessary that the centre of both balls should pass
directly through the cross; a thing that very rarely happens.
alone remained to shoot. Billy wiped out his rifle
carefully, loaded her to the top of his skill, and handed her to me.
"Now," said he, "Lyman, draw a fine bead, but not too fine; for
Soap-stick bears up her ball well. Take care and don't touch the
trigger until you've got your bead; for she's spring-trigger'd, and
goes mighty easy: but you hold her to the place you want her, and if
she don't go there, dang old Roper."
I took hold of Soap-stick, and lapsed immediately into the most
hopeless despair. I am sure I never handled as heavy a gun in all my
life. "Why, Billy," said I, "you little mortal, you! what do you use
such a gun as this for?"
"Look at the bull's-eye yonder!" said he.
"True," said I, "but
I can't shoot her; it is impossible."
"Go 'long, you old coon!" said Billy; "I see what you're at;"
intimating that all this was merely to make the coming shot the more
remarkable; "Daddy's little boy don't shoot anything but the old
Soap-stick here to-day, I know."
The judges, I knew, were becoming impatient, and, withal, my
situation was growing more embarrassing every second; so I e'en
resolved to try the Soap-stick without farther parley.
I stepped out, and the most intense interest was excited all around
me, and it flashed like electricity around the target, as I judged from
the anxious gaze of all in that direction.
Policy dictated that I should fire with a falling rifle, and I
adopted this mode; determining to fire as soon as the sights came on a
line with the diamond, bead or no bead. Accordingly, I
commenced lowering old Soap-stick; but, in spite of all my muscular
powers, she was strictly obedient to the laws of gravitation, and came
down with a uniformly accelerated velocity. Before I could arrest her
downward flight, she had not only passed the target, but was making
rapid encroachments on my own toes.
"Why, he's the weakest man in the arms I ever seed," said one, in a
"It's only his fun," said Billy; "I know him."
"It may be fun," said the other, "but it looks mightily like
yearnest to a man up a tree."
I now, of course, determined to reverse the mode of firing, and put
forth all my physical energies to raise Soap-stick to the mark. The
effort silenced Billy, and gave tongue to all his companions. I had
just strength enough to master Soap-stick's obstinate proclivity, and,
consequently, my nerves began to exhibit palpable signs of distress
with her first imperceptible movement upward. A trembling commenced in
my arms; increased, and extended rapidly to my body and lower
extremities; so that, by the time that I had brought Soap-stick up to
the mark, I was shaking from head to foot, exactly like a man under the
continued action of a strong galvanic battery. In the mean time my
friends gave vent to their feelings freely.
"I swear poin' blank," said one, "that man can't shoot."
"He used to shoot well," said another; "but can't now, nor never
git away from 'bout that mark!" bawled a
third, "for I'll be dod darned if Broadcloth don't give some of you the
dry gripes if you stand too close thare."
"The stranger's got the
peedoddles," said a fourth, with
"If he had bullets enough in his gun, he'd shoot a ring round the
bull's-eye big as a spinning wheel," said a fifth.
As soon as I found that Soap-stick was high enough (for I made no
farther use of the sights than to ascertain this fact), I pulled
trigger, and off she went. I have always found that the most creditable
way of relieving myself of derision was to heighten it myself as much
as possible. It is a good plan in all circles, but by far the best
which can be adopted among the plain, rough farmers of the country.
Accordingly, I brought old Soap-stick to an order with an air of
triumph; tipped Billy a wink, and observed, "Now, Billy, 's your time
to make your fortune. Bet 'em two to one that I've knocked out the
"No, I'll be dod blamed if I do," said Billy; "but I'll bet you two
to one you han't hit the plank."
"Ah, Billy," said I, "I was joking about
betting, for I
never bet; nor would I have you to bet: indeed, I do not feel exactly
right in shooting for beef; for it is a species of gaming at last: but
I'll say this much: if that cross isn't knocked out, I'll never shoot
for beef again as long as I live."
"By dod," said Mealy Whitecotton, "you'll lose no great things at
"Well," said I, "I reckon I know a little about wabbling. Is it
possible, Billy, a man who shoots as well as you do, never practised
shooting with the double wabble? It's the greatest take in in the world
when you learn to drive the cross with it. Another sort for getting
bets upon, to the drop-sight, with a single wabble! And the
Soap-stick's the very yarn for it."
"Tell you what, stranger," said one, "you're too hard for us all
here. We never hearn o' that sort o shoot'n' in these parts."
"Well," returned I, "you've seen it now, and I'm the boy that can
The judges were now approaching with the target, and a singular
combination of circumstances had kept all my party in utter ignorance
of the result of my shot. Those about the target had been prepared by
Billy Curlew for a great shot from me; their expectations had received
assurance from the courtesy which had been extended to me; and nothing
had happened to disappoint them but the single caution to them against
the "dry gripes," which was as likely to have been given in irony as in
earnest; for my agonies under the weight of the Soap-stick were either
imperceptible to them at the distance of sixty yards, or, being
visible, were taken as the flourishes of an expert who wished to
"astonish the natives." The other party did not think the direction of
my ball worth the trouble of a question; or if they did, my airs and
harangue had put the thought to flight before it was delivered.
Consequently, they were all transfixed with astonishment when the
judges presented the target to them, and gravely observed, "It's only
second best, after all the fuss."
"Second best!" exclaimed I, with uncontrollable transports.
The whole of my party rushed to the target to have the evidence of
their senses before they would believe the report: but most marvellous
fortune decreed that it should be true. Their incredulity and
astonishment were most fortunate for me; for they blinded my hearers to
the real feelings with which the exclamation was uttered, and allowed
me sufficient time to prepare myself for making the best use of what I
had said before with a very different object.
"Second best!" reiterated I, with an air of despondency, as the
company turned from the target to me. "Second best only? Here, Billy,
my son, take the old Soap-stick; she's a good piece, but I'm getting
too old and dimsighted to shoot a rifle, especially with the drop-sight
and double wabbles."
"Why, good Lord a'mighty!" said Billy, with a look that baffles all
description, "an't you driv the cross!"
"Oh, driv the cross!" rejoined I, carelessly. "What's that! Just
look where my ball is! I do believe in my soul its centre is a full
quarter of an inch from the cross. I wanted to lay the centre of the
bullet upon the cross, just as if you'd put it there with your fingers."
Several received this palaver with a contemptuous but very
appropriate curl of the nose; and Mealy Whitecotton offered to bet a
half pint "that I couldn't do the like again with no sort o' wabbles,
he didn't care what." But I had already fortified myself on this
quarter by my morality. A decided majority, however, were clearly of
opinion that I was serious; and they regarded me as one of the wonders
of the world. Billy increased the majority by now coming out fully with
my history, as he had received it from his father; to which I listened
with quite as much astonishment as any other one of his hearers. He
begged me to go home with him for the night, or, as he expressed it,
"to go home with him and swap lies that night, and it shouldn't cost me
a cent;" the true reading of which is, that if I would go home with
him, and give him the pleasure of an evening's chat about old times,
his house should be as free to me as my own. But I could not accept his
hospitality without retracing five or six miles of the road which I had
already passed, and therefore I declined it.
"Well, if you won't go, what must I tell the old woman for you? for
she'll be mighty glad to hear from the boy that won the silk
handkerchief for her, and I expect she'll lick me for not bringing you
home with me."
"Tell her," said I, "that I send her a quarter of beef, which I
won, as I did the handkerchief, by nothing in the world but mere good
"Hold your jaw, Lyman!" said Billy; "I an't a gwine to tell the old
woman any such lies; for she's a rael reg'lar built Meth'dist."
As I turned to depart, "Stop a minute, stranger!" said one: then
lowering his voice to a confidential but distinctly audible tone, "What
you offering for?" continued he. I assured him I was not a candidate
for anything; that I had accidentally fallen in with Billy Curlew, who
begged me to come with him to the shooting-match, and, as it lay right
on my road, I had stopped. "Oh," said he, with a conciliatory nod, "if
you're up for anything, you needn't be mealy mouthed about it 'fore us
boys; for we'll all go in for you here up to the handle."
"Yes," said Billy, "dang old Roper if we don't go our death for
you, no matter who offers. If ever you come out for anything, Lyman,
jist let the boys of Upper Hogthief know it, and they'll go for you to
the hilt, against creation, tit or no tit, that's the tatur."
I thanked them kindly, but repeated my assurances. The reader will
not suppose that the district took its name from the character of the
inhabitants. In almost every county in the state there is some spot or
district which bears a contemptuous appellation, usually derived from
local rivalships, or from a single accidental circumstance.