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Virginians always do after riding them, and entered the grounds before a venerable looking building which had been completely embowelled, and its contents were piled in promiscuous heaps in various parts of the yard. Within the great house, as it is usually styled, was already assembled, around a blazing fire, a crowd of exceedingly noisy folks, all talking at once, and nobody apparently listening. The names of our leading men sounded on every side, and the Tower of Babel never witnessed a greater confusion of tongues. For my own part, it always makes me melancholy to contemplate this inroad of Goths and Vandals upon apartments which were once perhaps so sacred, and kept in order with such sedulous attention. It seems a profanationa want of respect for the recently dead, and a cruel outrage upon the feelings of the surviving family. Nothing escapes the prying eye of curiosity—the rude footstep invades the very penetralia. The household gods, the dii penates, are all upturned; and mirth and jesting reign amidst the precincts of woe. I felt like a jackall tearing open the grave for my prey. The crier, the high priest of these infernal orgies, now came forward with his badge of office, the jug of whiskey, and announced that the sale would commence as soon as he could wet his whistle, which he proceeded to do, and then began to ply his customers. It is wonderful to think how much ingenuity has been displayed in finding out metaphors to describe the detestable act of tippling. The renowned biographer of Washington and Marion has embodied a number of these in one of his minor performances; but several which I heard to-day were new to me, and escaped his researches ; thus I heard one upbraid another for being too fond of "tossing his head back," while a third invited his companion to “rattle the stopper,”—and upon my taking a very moderate drink, and so weak that a temperance man would scarcely have frowned upon me, I was clapped on the shoulder, and jeered for my fondness for the creature, since I was willing to swallow an ocean of water to get at a drop. In a very short time
the liquid fire of the Greeks ran through the veins of the crowd, and they were quickly ripe for bidding.
"Inspiring bold John Barleycorn,
Wi' usquebaugh we'll face the devil.” The “swats sae reamed” in their noddles, that every thing sold at a price far beyond its value, and our crier became so exceedingly facetious, and cracked so many excellent ironical jokes, that it is a pity they should be lost. Being unskilled, however, in stenography, I could not take down his words, and only remember that every untrimmed old field colt was a regular descendant of Eclipse; the long nosed hogs were unquestionably Parkinson; the sheep Merinoes; the cattle, which were notoriously all horn, were short horns, &c. &c. They seemed to me to be a scurvy set of animals; but those who saw them through a glass darkly, seemed to entertain a very different opinion. The “mirth and fun grew fast and furious," "till first a caper sin anither” “they lost their reasons a'thegither," and the sale closed in one wild, uproarious scuffle for every thing at any price whatever.
It now became necessary to return home, an important consideration which had been wholly overlooked ; and the difficulty of mounting our horses having been overcome after many trials, we began to "witch the world with feats of noble horsemanship.” Such“racing and chasing' had not been seen since the days of Cannobie lea, and quizzing became the order of the evening. Perceiving the mettlesome nature of my steed, my friend, the politician and philosopher, seemed resolved upon unhorsing me, notwithstanding my entreaties that he would forbear, and by dint of riding violently up to me, and shouting out at the top of his voice, he so alarmed my nag, that he seized the bit between his teeth, and away I few, John Gilpin like, to the infinite amusement of my persecutor, until I was safely deposited in a mud hold, near my own gate, from whence I had to finish my journey on foot, and appear before my helpmate in a condition that reflected greatly upon
my character. As a finale to this mortifying business, my purchases were brought home the next day, and were most unceremoniously thrown out of doors by my wife, as utterly useless, being literally sans eyes, sans teeth, sans every thing; cracked pitchers, broken pots, spiders without legs, jugs without handles, et id genus
THE MOCKINGBIRD. Come, listen! oh list! to that soft dying strain Of my Mockingbird, up on the house-top again; He comes every night to these old ruined walls, Where soft as the moonlight his melody falls. Oh! what can the bulbub or nightingale chant, In the climes which they love, and the groves which
they haunt, More thrilling and wild than the song I have heard, In the stillness of night, from my sweet Mockingbird ! I saw him to-day, on his favorite tree, Where he constantly comes in his glory and glee, Perch'd bigh on a limb, which was standing out far Above all the rest, like a tall taper spar: The wind, it was wafting that limb to and fro, And he rode up and down, like a skiff in a blow, When it sinks with the billow, and mounts with its
swell; He knew I was watching-he knew it full well. He folded his pinions and swelled out his throat, And mimick'd each bird in its own native note,The Thrush and the Robin, the Redbird and allAnd the Partridge would whistle and answer his call; Then stopping his carol, he seemed to prepare, By the flirt of his wings, for a flight in the air, When rising sheer upward, he wheeled down again, And took up his song where he left off the strain. Would you cage such a creature, and draggle his plumes? Condemn him to prison, the worst of all dooms?
Take from him the pleasure of flying so free?
(For the Southern Literary Messenger.] INTERESTING RUINS ON THE RAPPAHANNOCK. Mr. Editor.–As I find you are about to establish a sort of Literary Emporium, to which every man, no matter how trifling his capital of ideas, may send his productions, I have resolved to transmit to you, my small wares and merchandize. The relation I shall bear to your other correspondents, will be that which the vender of trifles in a town bears to the wealthy merchant; and, therefore, I shall assume an appropriate title, and under this humble signature, shall consider myself at liberty to offer you any thing I may have, without order or method, and just as I can lay my hands upon it. My head is somewhat like Dominie Sampson's, which, as well as I remember, resembled a pawnbroker's shop, where a goodly store of things were piled together, but in such confusion, he could never find what he wanted. When I get hold of any thing, however, I will send it to you, and if it be worth nothing, why, just “martyr it by a pipe.”
“Here lived, so might it seem to fancy's eye,
The lordly Barons of our feudal day ;
Scattered in ruin o’er their coffin'd clay.-
How vain for man, short sighted man, to say,
What course the tide of human things shall take !
And of its high pretence, a cruel mock'ry make.” There cannot be a more striking exemplification of the powerful influence of laws upon the state of society, than is exhibited on the banks of the rivers in the lower part of Virginia. How many spacious structures are seen there, hastening to decay, which were once the seats of grandeur and a magnificent hospitality! The barons of old were scarcely more despotic over their immediate demesnes, than were the proprietors of these noble mansions, with their long train of servants and dependents; their dicta were almost paramount to law, throughout their extensive and princely possessions. But since the introduction of republican institutions, and the alteration in the laws respecting the descent of property, and more especially since the "docking of entails,” a total change has been effected. Our castles are crumbling on every sideestates are subdivided into minuter portions, instead of being transmitted to the eldest son; and so complete is the revolution in sentiment, that he would be deemed a savage, who would now leave the greater part of his family destitute, for the sake of aggrandizing an individual. It is not unusual to find a son in possession of the once splendid establishment of his fathers, with scarcely paternal acres enough to afford him sustenance, and hardly wood enough to warm a single chamber of all his long suite of apartments. The old family coach, with his mother and sisters, lumbers along after a pair of superannuated skeletons, and some faithful domestic, like Caleb Balderstone, is put to the most desperate shifts to support the phantom of former grandeur. Debts are fast swallowing up the miserable remnant of what was once a principality, while some wealthy democrat of the neighborhood, who has accumulated large sums by despising an empty show, sis ready to foreclose his mortgage, and send the wretched heir of Ravenswood to mingle with the