« السابقةمتابعة »
his own fortunes.” Immediately after the close of the Revolution, a strong tide of emigration set in from Mecklenburg and the adjoining counties, and flowing over the Mountains, rolled down upon the ranges of grassy hills, the undulating plains, the extensive reaches of grazing land, and the fertile valleys of Tennessee. Attracted by the glowing accounts, given by the first settlers and adventurers, of the beautiful daughter of his native state, Samuel Polk formed a determination to remove thither with his family; and if honesty of purpose, enterprise and industry, could accomplish that end, to achieve a competence for himself, and those who looked up to him for support and protection. . From one cause or another the fulfilment of his design was postponed till the autumn of the year 1806, when, accompanied by his wife and children, he followed the now well-trodden path of emigration that conducted him to the rich valley of the Duck river, one of the principal tributaries of the Tennessee. Here, in the midst of the wilderness, in a tract of country erected in the following year into the County of Maury, he established his new home. His example was imitated by all the Polk family in North Carolina, who, with the exception of one branch, “emigrated, and cast their lot in with the bold spirits that sought a home in the great valley of the Mississippi.”f Having purchased a quantity of land, Samuel Polk employed himself in its cultivation; following, at inter
\vals, the occupation of a surveyor. By dint of patient industry and economy, and by his untiring and energetic perseverance, he acquired a fortune equal to his wishes and his wants. He lived to behold the country around him become flourishing and prosperous; to see its dark forests pass away like some vision of enchantment, and its broad plains and valleys blooming with fruits and flowers, and teeming with the luxuriant produce of a fertile soil. He lived to witness the brilliant triumphs o his first-born son in his professional career, and to mark. his manly bearing as he advanced with rapid strides on the pathway to greatness and fame. Respected as one of the first pioneers of Maury, and esteemed as a useful citizen and an estimable man, he finally closed his life at Columbia in 1827. His wife, a most excellent and pious woman, afterwards married a gentleman by the name of Eden, and is now living in Columbia, loved and revered by all who know her, and can appreciate her many virtues and her worth. Her son James, the subject of this memoir, passed his boyhood in the humble position in life which his parents occupied. The lessons that he learned in this school were never forgotten. Here was formed his manly and selfreliant disposition : here were imbibed those principles o economy, industry, integrity and virtue, which adorned his ripened manhood. He was by no means a stranger to what, unless, as in his case, accompanied by a happy and contented heart, is the drudgery of daily toil. He assisted his father in the management of his farm, and was his almost constant companion in his surveying excursions. They were frequently absent for weeks together, treading the dense forests and traversing the rough cane-brakes which then covered the face of the country, and exposed to all the changes of the weather, and the dangers and vicissitudes of a life in the woods. On these occasions, it was the duty of James to take care of the pack-horses and camp equipage, and to prepare the scanty and frugal meals of the surveying party. When a lad, he was strongly inclined to study, and often busied himself with the mathematical calculations of his father. He was very fond of reading, and was of a reflective turn of mind. In the imperfect and indistinct lines of early youth were to be traced the tokens of the man,—the certain indices of the future fixed and permament character. Not indifferent to the sports and pastimes of boyhood, he engaged in them, not for amusement merely, but for the recreation they afforded, for the light and joy they brought to his heart. To obtain a liberal education was his chief desire, and a profession was the great end at which he aimed. His habits, formed by the moulding hand of his exemplary mother, peculiarly fitted him for success in the sphere toward which his thoughts were directed, and on which his hopes were fixed. He was correct and punctual. He had industry and application. He had true native talent, not the false gem that may dazzle and sparkle, and when brought to the test, appears mean and contemptible; it was the pure diamond, borrowing not its lustre, but containing light within itself. He had earnestness of purpose, subdued, perhaps, in expression, but, nevertheless, “the strong passion, which,” said the philosopher of Woré,” “rescu
* Democratic Review, May, 1838. it Foote's Sketches, p. 309.
f 1806.] PERSEVERANCE AND AMBITION. 39
ing us from sloth, can alone impart to us that continuous and earnest attention, necessary to great intellectual efforts.” He possessed genius, also,
“ the voice within, That ever whispers, ‘Work and win P”
He had perseverance and ambition,-and these are traits which all the wealth of the Rothschilds cannot call into existence, where nature herself has not planted the seeds. What have they not achieved 2 What can they not accomplish? In the three hundred and sixtieth year before the Christian era, the Athenian people for the first time acknowledged the great mental powers, and the enthusiastic and soul-stirring eloquence, of the orator of Paeania. More than eight years had elapsed since he had made his début in the Assembly, when the weakness of his voice, his harsh and careless style, and his ungraceful gesticulation, had brought on him the ridicule of his fellow-citizens. History informs us, that one kind friend stood by him in this crisis of his fortunes, and inspired and cheered him on to new efforts;–might she not have added, that a voice in his heart continued to speak words of consolation and encouragement, in those anxious years of his probation?—that in the long, wearisome nights, he devoted to study and toil, in his secret retreat, one sweet, familiar spirit, smiled hopefully on Demosthenes, and pointed his way, clearly and distinctly traced, though devious and difficult, to that bright hour which witnessed the full fruition of his fame?
The history of the world-famed “folly” of Fulton has been handed down to us as containing an instructive moral,
and a truthful lesson, which deserve to be remembered. We can now smile at the incredulity of the gaping and doubting crowd that assembled to behold his triumph over the great motive power which he had subjected to his will; or at the mirth-moving astonishment of those who dwelt on the banks of the Hudson, and trembled with fear when they saw the flaming vessel plowing the waters “like a thing of life.” But who can tell, how Herculean were the efforts of our countryman’s genius and perseverance; how diligently and patiently they toiled in the vast laboratory of discovery, without recompense or reward save their hopes for the future, to forge those mighty links that now bind nations and continents together. Most appropriately has the temple of Fame been represented as adorning the embattled crest of some lofty and rugged eminence,—clouds and darkness hovering around its base, and “eternal sunshine” resting in loveliness and beauty on its summit. Under all circumstances, the ascent is tedious and difficult. Delilahs there are, who beset the aspirant at every step, and seek to woo him from his enterprise by their soft blandishments; sweet Paphian bowers by the wayside invite him to repose, and groves of perfumed trees send forth their Sabean odors to intoxicate the mind and soul. All these influences must be disregarded at once and forever. “Onward and upward” must be the motto to arouse the flagging spirit, to restore the drooping energies, to inspire to renewed exertion, to cheer in every trial, and to soften the pang of every disappointment. The struggle may be arduous and protracted; but the recompense is sure and certain. It may be deferred for long, but, sooner or la