« السابقةمتابعة »
A GLANCE AT THE PAST.
We know not, worthy reader, whether you agree with us or otherwise, in the reverence we cherish for mementos of bygoneages, for those often worthless relics which, because they are worthless, the vandal spirit of utility has left untouched. You may be, for aught we know, one of those fashionably strong-minded persons, who foster a spirit of sincere abhorrence of anything old or useless. Nevertheless, the prevalence of this very spirit has already robbed our age of nearly all the valuable relics of our forefathers, and left us but here and there an old shoe, or a broken sword, to remind us of their lives and actions. God preserve us from such a spirit! But de gustibus, non disputandum; and if such be yours, we cannot help it, and will say, as Uncle Toby to the fly, “Go in peace, there is room enough in the world for both of us." It may be right, too, that you should have no reverence for your ancestors ; but even here we must own to a weakness, (if you please,) and declare that if one of our progenitors had been so unfortunate as to have been hanged even, we would have regarded as a most interesting relic, a portion of the fatal noose. This, however, we cannot show in our recollection, since fate or providence has seen fit to imbue us all, even your most humble servant, with a most holy horror of suspension. But reader, if you are a man, who takes some pleasure in the recollection of the past, you will doubtless agree with me in asserting that there are few hours more pleasantly spent than those whiled away among old mementos. We love to call up the various traditions connected with them, when the dreamy spirit of spring is abroad; and, while the balmy air soothes our bodies into a delicious languor, to fill the quaintly cut garments of the olden time with the figures of those, long since hidden beneath the sod, who once have occupied them. The old fashioned shoe, half hidden by its enormous buckle, again graces or rather disgraces the foot of its former occupant, as he stands before us in all the pomp and pride of buckles, ruffles, and knee-breeches. Such reveries annihilate time as readily as the famous boots of our childhood's tale did distance; and transport us at once to that age when a spirit of resistance to oppression was beginning to nerve the hearts of men for the approaching struggle of the Revolution. There is such a shoe in a collection which we have seen, being near a war-worn knapsack and a broken musket; and when we look upon them, we seem to see again our grandsires doffing their peaceful garbs, and girding on their swords in the name of “ God and the Continental Congress.” When the sounds of war were first heard at Concord, that musket and knapsack became the companions of one who bore them bravely on the field of Bunker Hill. Well did he fight the battle of his country there; and the shattered breech of the old flintlock, is evidence unquestionable of his hearty blows and desperate courage. And when the ammunition of the patriots had failed, he was among the first of those who clubbed their
muskets, and rendered victory doubtful, and even defeat glorious by their deeds of valor. No Bard has sung his praises, but Don Diego Peres, the renowned conqueror of the Moors, had a rival of no mean pretensions in our hero of Bunker Hill.
Near by these relics of that fearful fight, lie others, which we have always loved to consider the property of the partner of our hero, of her who consoled him in defeat, and, like a Spartan matron, sent him forth with renewed courage to strive once more for victory. These are nothing more than what our advertisements would call a “ pair of female shoes ;" yet to us they are full of strange interest. High heeled and sharp toed, they always excite a spirit of speculation in our mind, as to the manner in which the belles of that olden time managed to balance theinselves on so precarious a footing.
For our own part, we need no other proof of their steadiness of nerve and brain, than the positive knowledge that they not only walked, but even danced at such a fearful height from the ground. No one, who has seen those wonderful creations of art, can for an instant doubt that in those days, cobblers were physicians as well as improvers of the understanding; for how else can he account for their knowledge of the healing art, which not only cured our grand-dames of dizziness, but by making them high-soled, prevented its occurrence. This, doubtless, was the reason why the high-flown compliments of the beaus of yore affected them so litile; while girls, whose country cobblers were not versed in the art above mentioned, were far more easily entangled in the net of flattery. But alas, for this degenerate age! Mankind no longer seeks for elevation from the old-time cobbler, but turns to the more genial one of sherry. Their art has degenerated; they now cure naught but leather ; and we, male and female, have come wofully down from the high standing of our ancestors.
But let us return to the wearer of those queer shaped combinations of satin and leather. Her foot must have been almost fairy-like in its proportions, and a most effective auxiliary to the charms of her face. A pretty foot is always an effective weapon in love's warfare, and this one, unquestionably, proved the conqueror of our friend, the patriot. The face had long before bewildered him ; but that foot, as he once saw it peeping from under the folds of our heroine's dress, completely subdued his soul, and, ere he knew it, brought hiin to his knees. His success, tradition assures of, and that he told her the cause of her conquest, is evident from the care with which those shoes have been preserved. And here let me tell the uninitiated, that the gazing at a pretty foot, to escape the fascination of bright eyes, is very like running into Scylla, to avoid Charybdis.
But close beside these records of the loves and wars of our ancestors, lie other relics, the monuments of a simple and barbarous, but brave and chivalrous people. There is a melancholy interest in them, reminding us of a race long since gone to the happy hunting grounds of the spirit-land. The rude stone hatchet, and the broidered moccasin tell us of the Indian, strong of heart, and fleet of foot, brave in battle and patient in defeat. We gaze upon their relics with sadness. Their light canoes have long since vanished from our waters, and scarce aught but their tombs and the traditions of our fathers remain to tell us they existed. Cities have sprung up where once the strong. limbed monarchs of the forest looked down upon the wigwam of the Indian. The clank of machinery and the hum of busy labor rises from vales that once echoed to the shout of the hunter, or listened vainly for the noiseless step of the watchful warrior. Where once the red flame of the council fire pierced the shadows of the forest, and the stake was once prepared for the torture, the church of the wbite man now points its spire to Heaven. There too, where the captive warrior mocking the efforts of his foes, once chanted the war-song of his tribe, and still unyielding sang loud and clear the song of death, the hymn of praise now rises to the Christian's God. But they have passed away at the approach of the white man, as the shadows of their native forests vanished at the ringing strokes of his axe. The contest was long and bloody, but the knowledge and weapons of the Puritan proved too strong for the unaided valor of the Indian. The rifle and the fire water of their foes were equally destructive ; and their bones have long since been scattered by the ploughs of the peaceful farmer. Some have no pity for this fallen race, and many delight to urge against them their cruelty and treachery, the characteristics of all savages.
But well might the accused hurl back the charge. How full is the history of our nation of acts of duplicity towards the Indian! They began to be exhibited by our far-famed Puritan fathers, and their descendants have always followed the same course. True, the Indians attacked the settlers, whenever darkness interposed to make their weapons more nearly equal to those of their enemies, and slew all without mercy, as their enemies had done before them. They fought as their fathers fought ; and their treachery, had they been so powerful or civilized as their foes, would have been called diplomacy. Brave and chivalrous, the warrior's scalp lock was a perpetual challenge to his foe; with them its possession was synonymous with honor, and life itself was laid down in its defence. Mindful of benefits, they suffered death in behalf of their benefactor, and time could not weaken their sense of gratitude. Revenge was with them a master spirit, a part of their religion. How, then, can we, who are ruled by the pas. sions-enlightened though we boast ourselves to be--blame the untutored Indian for obeying the dictates of his religion, and the precepts of his fathers ?
There is a strong resemblance between their customs and princi. ples, and the boasted spirit of chivalry ; in fact they differ only in respect for females. It was the duty of the Indian, as well as the knight, to keep his honor; and death was the punishment of cowardice in either. Revenge and gratitude were duties equally sacred to both. The knight, vanquished in the field of batıle, received his death-blow as a stroke of mercy ; the Indian captive, at the stake, died mocking at his foes, and deriding their futile attempts at torture. To the one, death was preferable to the loss of honor; to the other, life was freely laid down in its defence, and no torture was able to call from him one womanly complaint derogatory to his character as a warrior.
Their race has gone to the spirit land, but their names are among us and around us. In the words of Mrs. Sigourney,
“Their names are on your rivers
And ye may not wash them out."
LYING-TO UNDER BARE POLES.
A SALT WATER SKETCH.
BY NED BOWLINE.
Over the sea
Howling and free;
Loosed from his chain,
Writing in foam,
Leagues from his home !"
“You had better turn out, and prepare for the worst !"
Thus spoke the skipper of a well found brig, one week from port, lying-to under bare poles in the midst of a winter's gale upon the coast of New England.
We were påssengers ; and the storm, which, for three days and three nights, had been raging with unmitigated fury, had confined us to our cabin and berths, which were now cold, wet and uncomfortable from the severity of the weather, and the constant influx of salt water through the deck-lights and ceilings above.
The companion-way closed after the skipper, as he left us for the deck, while we sat gazing at each other, in solemn silence, and striving to overcome the strong emotions called forth by his fearful words.
" Prepare for the worst !" His long and well tried nautical skill was now, he felt, outrivaled. Everything within his power had been effected to weather the gale. But all in vain. Nothing more could be done. He would now give us up to the mercy of the winds and the waves ; for, unless the weather should soon assume some favorable aspect, he felt that we were lost!
It was my first time upon the deep ; and what were my own emotions as I heard those words, no tongue can tell. Here, in a leaking ship, upon a freezing ocean, in the midst of a relentless tempest, the blackness of darkness above us and around us, and but a few days' sail from home and friends, who little dreamed of our peril, here we were summoned to prepare for the worst ! Remote from all mortal aid-alone-companionless—to prepare for a grave in those cold depths, beyond which the lead will sink no deeper, and from which the line returns, slackened, to the hand! How distinctly the Past, the long-forgotten Past, came to view! There was all my spent life, every transaction, every event, staring me in the face! Then I remembered my parting adieu to friends on shore; the last hearty shake of the hand ; the gaily-spoken farewell.
Again the companion-way opened, and the skipper entered. His storm jacket and oiled trowsers were dripping the water which tried, in vain, to penetrate them. Laying down an axe upon the floor, and removing his heavy “sou’wester," he seated himself by the cabin table. Overhead swung the lantern, traveling to and fro, as it followed the mad plunges of the vessel, and revealing, by its dim light, his anxious and weather-worn features.
“ It blows hard ! terribly hard! and we shall have to cut away, if it don't lull soon!"
Shut up, as we were, in our little cabin, we could easily realize the truth of these words. The groaning beams and bulk-heads, the shrill piping and screaming of the fierce winds, as they played among the tautened rigging, the constant and dismal clanking of the pumps, and the cries, heard even above the tumult of the gale, “ Does she suck yet ?”—“No, sir !”—all too plainly told that, indeed, it did blow hard, “ terribly hard."
On what a brittle thread hangs huinan life! One more such sea, as that which has just struck our trembling bark, will send us down, down into eternity, and none be left to tell our fate. Oh, for one favorable omen in the heavens! One break in the blackness above, through which the star of Hope might gleam ! But no! The increasing tempest Alings defiance at our hopes! There we sit, silently, awaiting our destiny. We dread to cut away the masts, for if, perchance, the gale should abate, how can we escape the troughs of the seas without them. We fear to carry them, lest they should, unawares, precipitate themselves over the side, and become entangled upon us. Oh, how it blows ! The maddened winds are hurling the spray high upon the yards and rigging, where it instantly congeals, so that neither rope nor block can be worked. Nothing can stand in the face of the wind. The heavy masts, with all their weight of yards and hamper, are bowing to its fury. The men, weary and exhausted by incessant labor, are abandoning the pumps, and huddling to the leeward of every object that breaks its force. Many of the men are frosted; all of them wet and chilled through. No fire, no food, no rest, no dry clothing, nothing to cheer, nothing to relieve, nothing to console, but HOPE! We dare to hope! How far Hope goes in misery's last extremity! We hope for the better; and with good reason ; since three days and three nights have brought no abatement of the gale.
But hark !-—" It lulls !" How joyful is every heart! The pump