"I die, but thou shall live; in the loud noon Thy feet shall crush the long grass o'er my head, Not rudely, rudely,—gently, gently, soon Shall tread me heavier down in that dark bed; And thou shalt know not on whose head they pass, Whose silent hands, whose frozen heart!—Alas, Adelaida!"
There are those who in "Charles Auchester," charmed by the simplicity and truth of that first part called "Choral Life," objected to the rest on the score of extravagance. But this book records the adoration of music, and in an age replete with the dilettanti of indifference may we not thank God for one enthusiast? Yet, indeed, everything about Mendelssohn was itself extravagant,—his childhood, his youth, his life, his beauty, his power: should the instrument, then, be tuned lower than such key-note? And again, to us who live a somewhat commonplace routine, the life of musical artists, especially abroad, must necessarily seem redundant; yet it is only that life, natural and actual, into which we are here inducted. The same is possible to no other class of artists: even the scholar, buried in his profound studies, must descend from his abstraction; the poet, the painter, cannot share it: for the latter, however much he clubs and cliques, is seldom sufficiently dispossessed of himself; and the other, though he strike out of his heat poems as immortal as stars, may yet live among clods and feel no thrill returning on himself. But the musician cannot dwell alone: his art requires that he should cluster, and the orchestra enforces it; therefore he acts and reacts like the vibrations ridged within a Stradivarius, he is kept in his art's atmosphere till it becomes his life, its aura bathes every trivial thing, and existence which might otherwise be meagre is raised and glorified. Thus yet more, when we recall that even were the musician's life not so, still it ought to be, and it is the right of the author to idealize, one can believe "Charles Auchester" to be but a faithful transcript. "In proportion to our appreciation of music is also our appreciation of what is not music," Sarona says; and so faithfully does this writer prove it, by her attention to minute and usual circumstances, that one might certainly allow her some exaltation when touching on one theme,—yet how this exaltation can be called in question by any who espouse Bettine von Arnim's sublime ravings the morning after entering Vienna is mysterious. Were the real condition of these natures—which certainly exist—bared to view, many from their phlegmatic experience might deem all the nerves to be in a state of excitation, when in fact they saw only normal and healthy play. It is true that the power of modulated tones arouses everything most ethereal and lofty in our composition, and it must therefore be wrong to charge with extravagance any description of a life in music, which is a life in the highest, because truly it cannot be extravagant enough, since all words fail before that of which it discourses,—while it gives you the sense of the universe and of the eternities, and is to the other arts what the soul is to the body. And is it not, moreover, the voice of Nature, the murmur of wind and tree, the thrill of all the dropping influences of the heavens, the medium of spiritual communication, the universal language in which all can exchange thought and feeling, and through which the whole world becomes one nation? Out of the spirit blossom spirits, Bettine tells us, and we subject ourselves to their power: "Ah, wonderful mediation of the ineffable, which oppresses the bosom! Ah, music!" To go further, there is certainly no exaggeration in Charles Auchester's treatment of his hero; for, reading the contemporaneous articles of musical journals, you will find them one and all speaking in even more unrestrained profligacy of praise, recognizing in the cloud of composers but nine worthy the name of Master, of whom Mendelssohn was one, and declaring that under his baton the orchestra was electrified. We all remember the solemnly pathetic and passionate beauty of Seraphael's burial by night, with the music winding up among the stars; but did it in reality exceed the actual progress of the dead Master's ashes from city to city, met in the twilight and the evening by music, gray-headed Capellmeisters receiving him with singing in the open midnight, and fresh songs being flung upon his coffin like wreaths with the sunrise?
There is a wonderful strength exhibited in the sketch of Seraphael from first to last: not to mention the happiness of the name, of which this is by no means a single instance, and the fact of his having no pramomen, both of which so insignificant atoms in themselves lift him at once a line above the level in the reader's sympathy,—it was a most difficult thing to present such delicacy and lightness, and yet to preserve "the awful greatness of his lonely genius," as somewhere else she calls it; but all must confess that it is done, and perfectly. It is not alone in Seraphael that this strength is shown; a new mould of character in fiction is given us,—masculine characters which, though light and airy, are yet brilliant and strong, most sweet, and surcharged with loveliness. It is this perfect sweetness that constitutes half the charm of her books,—for in the only one where it is deficient, "Beatrice Reynolds," the whole fails. One feels sure that it was never deficient in herself, that her own heart must have been overflowing with warm and cordial tenderness,—and if any testimony were wanting, we should have it in her evident love of children. It is only by love that understanding comes, and no one ever understood children better or painted them half so well: they are no mites of puny perfection, no angels astray, no Psyches in all the agonies of the bursting chrysalis, but real little flesh-and-blood people in pinafores, approached by nobody's hand so nearly as George Eliot's. They are flawless: the boy who, having swung himself giddy, felt "the world turning round, as papa says it does, nurse,"—the other boy, who, immured in studies and dreams, found all life to be "a fairy-tale book with half the leaves uncut,"—the charming little snow-drop of a Carlotta, "who would sit next him, would stick her tiny fork into his face, with a morsel of turkey at the end of it, would poke crumbs into his mouth with her finger, would put up her lips to kiss him, would say, every moment, 'I like you much,—much!' with all Davy's earnestness, though with just so much of her mother's modesty as made her turn pink and shy, and put herself completely over the chair into Seraphael's lap when we laughed at her." And Philippa, and Philippa's conversation, capers, and cat! an impossibility to those who have never experienced her whirlwinds of exuberance,—and to those who have, a reproduction of the drollest days of their existence. Never was there a personage so perfectly drawn, never such a grotesque storm of noisy health,—the matchless Philippa! After reading Miss Sheppard's juveniles, you feel that you have been in most good and innocent company all day; and since it is necessary for an author to become for the moment that nature of which he writes, this author must have been something very good and innocent in herself in order to uphold this strain so long. Of those accessible, the best is that entitled, "Round the Fire,"—a series of tales purporting to be told by little girls, and each of extraordinary interest; but the one she herself preferred is yet with four others in the hands of an Edinburgh publisher, and perhaps yet in manuscript,—the name of this being "Prince Gentil, Prince Joujou, and Prince Bonbon, or the Children's Cities." This reminds one that cities, in the abstract, seem to have been with her a subject of unceasing wonder and pleasure,—from Venice, with its shadowy, slippery, silent water-ways to X, that ideal city of the North; and where is there anything to excel the Picture of Paris, drawn minutely and colored, his prison-prophecy, Paris as it was to be created, rather than restored, by Louis Napoleon? "Then he took from his pocket a strong magnifying-glass, and put it gently into Rodomant's hand. Rodomant grasped it, and through it gazed long and eagerly. And from that hieroglyphic mist there started, sudden and distinct as morn without a cloud, a brilliant bird's-eye view of a superb and stupendous city, a dream of imaginative architecture, almost in itself a poem. Each house of each street, each lamp and fountain, each line of road and pavement, marked as vividly as the glorious domes, the pointing pillars, grand gates and arches, proud palaces in inclosures of solemn leafage, the bridges traced like webs of shadow, the stately terraces and dim cathedrals. Green groves and avenues and vivid gardens interlaced and divided the city within the walls; and without, masses of delicate shrubbery, as perfectly defined, were studded with fair villas of every varied form, melting gradually and peacefully, as it seemed, to a bright champaign embroidered with fence and hedge-row.... A sort of visionary pageant unrolled to him, partly memorial, in part prophetic. He knew he had seen something like it,—but when and where? What planet boasted that star of cities for strength and lustre that must surpass new London and old Thebes? For Rodomant had the mathematical gift of all the highest harmonists, and his brain could magnify and actualize the elfin-sized images under his eye to their just and proper proportion in the real." It must have been like heaven, this city so stilly and so fair,—for, you see, there were no people there.
Miss Sheppard's plots are not conspicuous, for her characters make circumstance and are their own fate; still her capacity in that line is finely exhibited by the plot of the opera of "Alarcos." In mere filling up, having excepted the incident,—always original and delightful,—the lofty imagination, and the descriptions of wind and weather,—one of her best points will be found to be costume, a minor thing, but then there are few who excel in modern millinery. "Salome was beautiful. Her splendid delicate dress, all rosy folds, skirt over skirt of drapery falling softly into each other, made her clear skin dazzle in the midst of them; and the masses of vivid geraniums here and there without their leaves were not too gorgeous for her bearing,—nor for her hair, in whose rich darkness geraniums also glowed, long wreaths curling down into her neck." Rose in white, with wreaths of rubies weighing down her slender arms;—Adelaida, with her lace robe like woven light on satin like woven moon-beams, and large water-lilies in her golden hair;—my Lady Barres, whose dress "consisted almost always of levantine, with demi-train and under-petticoat of white brocaded silk peeping through its open front; the hair showing the shape of the head, and confined by a narrow band of black velvet across the brow, fastened in the morning with onyx or agate, in the evening with a brilliant only; she always wore upon her wrists delicate bands of cambric embroidered with seed-pearl so minutely that it seemed a pattern wrought out of the threads of the stuff, and little pearl tassels drooped there scarcely eclipsing her hands in fairness."
But a far stronger point is the power of portraiture. Seraphael having been identified, people turned their attention to the other cipher. Disregarding the orchestral similitude of sound in his name, which, by the way, nobody pronounces as Aronach instructed, they chose to infer that Charles Auchester himself was the Herr Joachim, that Starwood Burney stood for Sterndale Bennett, that Diamid Albany meant Disraeli, that Zelter figured as Aronach, and that Jenny Lind, of whom Mendelssohn himself said there would not in a whole century be born another being so gifted, and whom the Italians, those lovers of fair pseudonymes, called "La Benedetta," is no other than Clara Benette. But these are trivial, compared with Rodomant and Porphyro. It was daring enough, when Beckendorf mimicked Prince Metternich; but to undertake and to contrast Louis Napoleon and Beethoven, without belittling either, pales every other performance. They tower before us grand and immutable as if cast in bronze, and so veritable that they throw shadows; the prison-gloom is sealed on Porphyro's face,—power and purpose indomitable; just as the "gruesome Emperor" is to-day, we find him in that book,—dark in the midst of his glory, as enduring as a Ninevite sculpture, strong and inscrutable as the Sphinx. But his heights topple over with this world's decline, while the other builds for the eternal aeons. Rodomant,—did one fail to find his identity, they would yet recognize him in those old prints, the listening head bent forwards, the features like discords melting info chords; it is hard to tell how such strength was given in such slight sentences,—but from the time when he contemptuously tossed out his tune-fooleries, through the hour when with moonlight fancies "a serene ecstatic serenade was rippling silently beneath his pen," to that when the organ burst upon his ear in thunders quenchless and everlasting as the sea's, he is still Beethoven, gigantic in pride, purity, and passion. "I dream now," said Rodomant; "like the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, so stir my shadows, dim shapes of sound, across the chaos of my fathomless intention." This "Rumour" has never been reprinted in America; it will, then, be excusable to give here a scene which Is indeed its climax.
"A spiritual nature has for its highest and hardest temptation a disposition to outrage, precedent,—sometimes propriety. It is sure of itself—very likely—but it may endanger the machinery, moral or tangible, which it employs for agent. Again, who has not dreamed of a dream? who has not remembered dimly what yet experience contradicts? who does not confound fact and imagination, to the damage of his reputation for truth?
"Rodomant was in a lawless frame, a frame he had fixed on himself by his outrage on precedent; his subsequent excitement had enchanted him more wildly, and any number of imps and elves were ready to rush at his silent word from the caverns of his haunted brain. Again, he felt he must spend his energy, his long idleness reacted on a sudden in prodigious strength of intellect, it stirred like a giant refreshed. Long time ago he had dreamed—he had entirely forgotten it was a fact that he had been told—that, if the whole force of that organ were put out, the result would be tremendous. He had also dreamed—that is, been assured—that there was a law made to the purpose that the whole force of the organ was never to be employed. The law had never been broken, except once;—but there his memories waxed dim and indistinct; he was at the mercy of his own volition, which resolved on recalling nothing that could dissuade him from his rash and forbidden longing. Unknown to himself, perhaps the failure of his design to escape, of which the princess had assured him, drove him to the crisis of a more desperate endeavor. But, whether it was so or not, he was unconscious of it,—so far innocent. He sat down, believing himself alone.... 'Softly, softly,' mocked his whisper—to himself,—and he touched alone the whispering reeds, Adelaida held her breath, and chid the beating of her heart, which seemed louder than the mellow pulse that throbbed in tune above. The symphony that followed fell like a mighty universal hush, through which the clarionet-stop chanted, unuttered but articulate,—'Give to us peace.' Then the hush dissolved into a sea of sighs: 'Peace, peace!' they yearned, and the mild deep diapason muttered, 'Peace.' She, the one listener, felt, as it were, her brain fill soft with tears, her eyes rained them, and her heart, whose pulses had dropped as calm as dew, echoed the peaceful longing of the whole heart of humanity. A longing as peaceful in its expression as the peace it longed for; the creation's travail seemed spent to the edge of joy.
"Suddenly, as light swept chaos, this peaceful fancy was disrupted,—her heart ravished from its rest, its calm torn from it. Down went the pedal which forced the whole first organ out at once, and as if shouted by hosts of men and by myriad angels echoed, pealed the great Hosanna. The mighty rapture of the princess won her instantly from regret; no peace could be so glorious as that praise; and vast as was the volume of sound, the hands that invoked it had it so completely under control—voluntary control as yet—that it did not swamp her sense; her spirit floated on the wide stream with harmonious waves towards the measureless immensity of music at its source. To reach that centre without a circle,—that perfection which imperfection shadows not,—that unborn, undying principle, which art tries humbly, falteringly, to illustrate,—was never given to man on earth; and tries he to attain it, some fate, of which the chained Prometheus is at once the symbol and the warning, fastens to his soul for life.
"The princess had bowed her head, and the soft and plenteous waters of her eyes had dried like dew under the midsummer sun; yet still she closed her eyes, for her brain felt fixed and alight with a nameless awe, such as passion lends presentiment.
"Suddenly, in the words of Albericus, there burst overhead a noise like the roaring of 'enormous artificial golden lions,'—that was the drum: less, in this instance, like smitten parchment than the crackling roll of clouds that embrace in thunder. The noise amazed himself,—yet Rodomant exulted in it, his audacity expanded with it, broke down the last barrier of reason. He added stop after stop,—at the last and sixtieth stop, he unfettered the whole volume of the wind. That instant was a blast, not to speak irreverently, which sounded like the crack of doom. To her standing stricken underneath, it seemed to explode somewhere in the roof with a shock beyond all artillery,—to tear up the ground under her feet, like the spasm of an earthquake,—to rend the walls, like lightning's electric finger; and to shriek in her ringing brain the advent of some implacable and dreadful judgment, but not the doom of all men,—only one, which doom, alas! she felt might be also hers in his.
"All men and women within a mile had heard the shock, or rather felt it, and interpreted it in various ways. Only the prince himself—who was standing on the terrace, and had distinctly perceived the rich vibration of the strong, but calm, Hosanna—interpreted it rightly and directly; more than that, his animal sagacity told him it was Rodomant, who, having amused himself, was now indulging the same individual....
"To Adelaida there was something more terrible in the succeeding silence than in the shock of sound; it had ceased directly, died first into a discordant groan, which, rising to a scream, was still. She listened intensely: there was no fall of rattling fragments, the vibration had been insufficient, or not prolonged enough, to injure the window,—that had been her first, chief fear. This removed, however, she felt doubly, desperately anxious. Why did he not come down, or speak, or stir? The men employed to feed the monstrous machine with wind had all rushed away together by the back-ladder through which they entered: hence the cause of the shrieking groan and silence. He was there alone,—for he knew not that she was there. Oh that he would give some sign!
"In a few minutes a sign was given, but not from him. The princess heard the grinding of the immense door near the altar; it was opened; steps entered hurriedly. She heard, next instant, her father's voice,—impregnated with icy ire, low with smothered hatred, distinct with the only purpose he ever entertained,—punishment. She flew, with feet that gave no echo, up the stair on her side of the lobby. Rodomant was sitting dead-still, with his face in his hands; they looked rigid; the veins in his forehead, as it showed above his hands, were swollen and stood out, but colorless as the keys that stretched beneath. His calmness chilled her blood. She thought him dead, and all within her that lived seemed to pass out of her in the will, nay, the power also, to restore him. She grasped his arm. He was not dead, then, for he sighed,—an awful sigh; it shook him like a light reed in the tempest, he shuddered from head to foot; he leaned towards her, as if about to faint, but never removed his close-locked hands from his eyes.... She had only clasped his arm before; as hand met hand, or touch thrilled touch, he shivered, his grasping fingers relaxed in their hold on each other, but closed on hers.... She waited long,—she listened to his breathing, intermittent with tearless sobs. At last he gasped violently, a cold tear dropped on her hand, and he thrust it rudely from him.
"'God has taken my punishment into Hiss own hands: yet I defied not Him, only something made by man, and man himself.' He spoke loudly, yet in halting words, with gaps of silence between each phrase; then stared wildly round him, and clapped both his hands upon his ears,—withdrew them,—closed his ears with his fingers, then dropped his hands, and cast on her a glance that implored—that demanded—the whole pity of her heart. 'Have mercy!' were his words; 'I have lost my hearing, and it is forever!'"
The discrimination of character exercised by Miss Sheppard is very wonderful. Many as are the figures on her stage, they are never repeated, and they are all as separate, as finely edged and bevelled, as gems. The people grow under her pen,—whether you take Auchester, developing so when first thrown on himself in Germany, and becoming at length the rare type of manhood which he presents,—or the one change wrought by years in Miss Benette, just the addition of something that would have been impossible in any child, a deepened sweetness, that completest touch of the perfect woman, "like perfume from unseen flowers, diffusing itself when the wind awakens, while we know neither whence the windy fragrance comes nor whither it flows." Perhaps this characterization is most noticeable in "Counterparts," which she called her small party of opposing temperaments: Salome, so gracious; Rose, like the spirit of a sunbeam; Sarona, so keen and incisive, his passion confronting Bernard's sweetness; and Cecilia, who, it is easy to conjecture, wrote the book. I have always fancied that some mystic trine was chorded by three beings who, with all their separate gifts, possessed an equal power and sweetness,—Raphael, Shelley, and Mendelssohn. And perhaps the same occurred more emphatically to Miss Sheppard, for after Seraphael she drew Bernard,—Bernard, who is exceeded by none in the whole range of romance. "Counterparts" is a novel of ideal life; it is the land of one's dreams and one's delights; its dwellers are more real to us than the men and women into whose eyes we look upon the street, they haunt us and enrapture us, they breathe about us an atmosphere of gentle and delicious melancholy like the soft azure haze spread over meadow and hills by the faint south-wind. With fresh incident on every leaf, with a charm in every scene, its spell is enthralling, and its chapters are enchanted. There is no fault in it; nothing can be more perfect, nothing more beautiful. One may put "Consuelo" side by side with "Charles Auchester," but what novel in the wide world deserves a place by "Counterparts"? It was worth having lived, to have once thrown broadcast such handfuls of beauty.
Between the publication of Miss Sheppard's second book and "Rumour" two others were issued,—"Beatrice Reynolds" and "The Double Coronet,"—for which one wishes there were some younger sister, some Acton or Ellis, to whom to impute them,—evidently the result of illness, weariness, and physical weakness, perhaps wrung from her by inexorable necessity, but which should never have been written. In the last, in spite of its very Radcliffean air, there are truly terrible things, as Gutilyn and his green-eyed child bear witness; but the other reminds one, as nearly as a modern book may do so, of no less a model than the redoubtable "Thaddeus of Warsaw!" But Miss Sheppard had already written all that at present there was to say; rest was imperative till the intermittent springs again overflowed. "Rumour," which approached the old excellence, was no result of a soul's ardor,—merely very choice work. Notwithstanding, everything is precious that filters through such a medium, and in these three publications she found opportunity for expressing many a conviction and for weaving many a fancy; moreover, she was afraid of no one, and never minced matters, therefore they are interspersed with criticisms: she praised Charlotte Bronte, condemned George Sand, ridiculed Chopin, reproved Elizabeth Browning, and satirized "Punch." In her last book there was a great, but scarcely a good change of style, she having been obliged by its thinness to pepper the page with Italics; still these are only marks of a period of transition, and in spite of them the book is priceless. Judging from internal evidence, she here appears to have frequented more society, and the contact of this carelessly marrying world with her own pure perception of right struck the spark which kindled into "Almost a Heroine." Here awakens again that graceful humor which is the infallible sign of health, and which was so lightly inwrought through the earlier volumes. Reading it over, one is struck with its earnestness, its truth and noble courage,—one feels that lofty social novels, which might have infused life and principle and beauty into the mass of custom, were promised in this, and are now no longer a possibility. And herein are the readers of this magazine especially affected; since there is no reason to suppose that the work promised and begun by her for these pages would not have been the peer of her best production, some bold and beautiful elucidation of one of the many mysteries in life; for the lack of appreciation in England was no longer to concern her, and, unshackled and unrestrained, she could feel herself surrounded by the genial atmosphere of loving listeners. But perhaps it was not lawful that she should further impart these great secrets which she had learned. "I sometimes think," she murmurs, "when women try to rise too high either in their deeds or their desires, that the spirit which bade them so rise sinks back beneath the weakness of their earthly constitution, and never appeals again,—or else that the spirit, being too strong, does away with the mortal altogether,—they die, or rather they live again." It was like forecasting her own horoscope. All suffering seems to have descended upon her,—and there are some natures whose power of enjoyment, so infinite, yet so deep as to be hidden, is balanced only by as infinite a power to endure; she learned anew, as she says, and intensely, "what a long dream of misery is life from which health's bloom has been brushed,—that irreparable bloom,—and how far more terrible is the doom of those in whom the nerve-life has been untoned." Sun-stroke and fever, vibration between opiates at night and tonics at noon,—but the flame was too strong to fan away lightly, it must burn itself out, the spirit was too quenchless,—pain, wretchedness, exhaustion. On one of those delicious days that came in the middle of this year's April,—warmth and fresh earth-smells breathing all about,—the wide sprays of the lofty boughs lying tinged in rosy purple, a web-like tracery upon the sky whose azure was divine,—the air itself lucid and mellow, as if some star had been dissolved within it,—on such a day the little foreign letter came, telling that at length balm had dropped upon the weary eyelids,—Elizabeth Sheppard was dead.
But in the midst of regret,—since all lovely examples lend their strength, since they give such grace even to the stern facts of suffering and death, and since there are too few such records on Heaven's scroll,—be glad to know that for every throb of anguish, for every swooning lapse of pain, there was one beside her with tenderest hands, most careful eyes, most yearning and revering heart,—one into whose sacred grief our intrusion is denied, but the remembrance of whose long and deep devotion shall endure while there are any to tell how Severn watched the Roman death-bed of Keats!
It is impossible to estimate our loss, because it draws upon infinitude; there was so much growth yet possible to this soul; to all that she was not she might yet have enlarged; and while at first her audience had limits, she would in a calm and prosperous future have become that which she herself described in saying that a really vast genius who is as vast an artist will affect all classes, "touch even the uninitiated with trembling and delight, and penetrate even the ignorant with strong, if transient spell, as the galvanic energy binds each and all who embrace in the chain-circle of grasping hands, in the shock of perfect sympathy." Nevertheless, she has served Art incalculably,—Art, which is the interpretation of God in Nature. And if, as she believed, in spiritual things Beauty is the gage of immortality, the pledge may yet be redeemed on earth, ever forbidding her memory to die.
ASTRAEA AT THE CAPITOL.
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1862.
When first I saw our banner wave Above the nation's council-hall, I heard beneath its marble wall The clanking fetters of the slave!
In the foul market-place I stood, And saw the Christian mother sold, And childhood with its locks of gold, Blue-eyed and fair with Saxon blood.
I shut my eyes, I held my breath, And, smothering down the wrath and shame That set my Northern blood aflame, Stood silent—where to speak was death.
Beside me gloomed the prison-cell Where wasted one in slow decline For uttering simple words of mine, And loving freedom all too well.
The flag that floated from the dome Flapped menace in the morning air; I stood, a perilled stranger, where The human broker made his home.
For crime was virtue: Gown and Sword And Law their threefold sanction gave, And to the quarry of the slave Went hawking with our symbol-bird.
On the oppressor's side was power; And yet I knew that every wrong, However old, however strong, But waited God's avenging hour.
I knew that truth would crush the lie,— Somehow, sometime, the end would be; Yet scarcely dared I hope to see The triumph with my mortal eye.
But now I see it! In the sun A free flag floats from yonder dome, And at the nation's hearth and home The justice long delayed is done.
Not as we hoped, in calm of prayer, The message of deliverance comes, But heralded by roll of drums On waves of battle-troubled air!—
'Midst sounds that madden and appall, The song that Bethlehem's shepherds knew!— The harp of David melting through The demon-agonies of Saul!
Not as we hoped;—but what are we? Above our broken dreams and plans God lays, with wiser hand than man's, The corner-stones of liberty.
I cavil not with Him: the voice That freedom's blessed gospel tells Is sweet to me as silver bells, Rejoicing!—yea, I will rejoice!
Dear friends still toiling in the sun,— Ye dearer ones who, gone before, Are watching from the eternal shore The slow work by your hands begun,—
Rejoice with me! The chastening rod Blossoms with love; the furnace heat Grows cool beneath His blessed feet Whose form is as the Son of God!
Rejoice! Our Marah's bitter springs Are sweetened; on our ground of grief Rise day by day in strong relief The prophecies of better things.
Rejoice in hope! The day and night Are one with God, and one with them Who see by faith the cloudy hem Of Judgment fringed with Mercy's light!
PERE ANTOINE'S DATE-PALM.
A LEGEND OF NEW ORLEANS.
It is useless to disguise the fact: Miss Badeau is a Rebel.
Mr. Beauregard's cannon had not done battering the walls of Sumter, when Miss Badeau was packed up, labelled, and sent North, where she has remained ever since in a sort of aromatic, rose-colored state of rebellion.
She is not one of your blood-thirsty Rebels, you know; she has the good sense to shrink with horror from the bare mention of those heathen who, at Manassas and elsewhere, wreaked their unmanly spite on the bodies of dead heroes: still she is a bitter little Rebel, with blonde hair, superb eyelashes, and two brothers in the Confederate service,—if I may be allowed to club the statements. When I look across the narrow strait of our boarding-house table, and observe what a handsome wretch she is, I begin to think that if Mr. Seward doesn't presently take her in charge, I shall.
The preceding paragraphs have little or nothing to do with what I am going to relate: they merely illustrate how wildly a fellow will write, when the eyelashes of a pretty woman get tangled with his pen. So I let them stand,—as a warning.
My exordium should have taken this shape:—
"I hope and trust," remarked Miss Badeau, in that remarkably scathing tone which she assumes in alluding to the U.S.V., "I hope and trust, that, when your five hundred thousand, more or less, men capture my New Orleans, they will have the good taste not to injure Pere Antoine's Date-Palm."
"Not a hair of its head shall be touched," I replied, without having the faintest idea of what I was talking about.
"Ah! I hope not," she said.
There was a certain tenderness in her voice which struck me.
"Who is Pere Antoine?" I ventured to ask. "And what is this tree that seems to interest you so?"
"I will tell you."
Then Miss Badeau told me the following legend, which I think worth writing down. If it should appear tame to the reader, it will be because I haven't a black ribbed-silk dress, and a strip of point-lace around my throat, like Miss Badeau; it will be because I haven't her eyes and lips and music to tell it with, confound me!
Near the levee (quay) and not far from the old French Cathedral, in New Orleans, stands a fine date-palm, some thirty feet high, growing out in the open air as sturdily as if its roots were sucking sap from their native earth. Sir Charles Lyell, in his "Second Visit to the United States," mentions this exotic:—"The tree is seventy or eighty years old; for Pere Antoine, a Roman Catholic priest, who died about twenty years ago, told Mr. Bringier that he planted it himself, when he was young. In his will he provided that they who succeeded to this lot of ground should forfeit it, if they cut down the palm."
Wishing to learn something of Pere Antoine's history, Sir Charles Lyell made inquiries among the ancient Creole inhabitants of the faubourg. That the old priest, in his last days, became very much emaciated, that he walked about the streets like a mummy, that he gradually dried up, and finally blew away, was the meagre result of the tourist's investigations.
This is all that is generally known of Pere Antoine. Miss Badeau's story clothes these bare facts.
When Pere Antoine was a very young man, he had a friend whom he loved as he loved his eyes. Emile Jardin returned his passion, and the two, on account of their friendship, became the marvel of the city where they dwelt. One was never seen without the other; for they studied, walked, ate, and slept together.
Antoine and Emile were preparing to enter the Church; indeed, they had taken the preliminary steps, when a circumstance occurred which changed the color of their lives.
A foreign lady, from some far-off island in the Pacific, had a few months before moved into their neighborhood. The lady died suddenly, leaving a girl of sixteen or seventeen entirely friendless and unprovided for. The young men had been kind to the woman during her illness, and at her death, melting with pity at the forlorn situation of Anglice, the daughter, swore between themselves to love and watch over her as if she were their sister.
Now Anglice had a wild, strange beauty, that made other women seem tame beside her; and in the course of time the young men found themselves regarding their ward not so much like brothers as at first. They struggled with their destiny manfully, for the holy orders which they were about to assume precluded the idea of love.
But every day taught them to be more fond of her. So they drifted on. The weak like to temporize.
One night Emile Jardin and Anglice were not to be found. They had flown,—but whither nobody knew, and nobody, save Antoine, cared.
It was a heavy blow to Antoine,—for he had half made up his mind to run away with her himself.
A strip of paper slipped from a volume on Antoine's desk, and fluttered to his feet.
"Do not be angry" said the bit of paper, piteously; "forgive us, for we love."
Three years went by. Antoine had entered the Church, and was already looked upon as a rising man; but his face was pale and his heart leaden, for there was no sweetness in life for him.
Four years had elapsed, when a letter, covered with outlandish stamps, was brought to the young priest,—a letter from Anglice. She was dying; would he forgive her? Emile, the year previous, had fallen a victim to the fever that raged on the island; and their child, little Anglice, was likely to follow him. In pitiful terms she begged Antoine to take charge of the child until she was old enough to enter a convent. The epistle was finished by another hand, informing Antoine of Madame Jardin's death; it also told him that Anglice had been placed on a vessel shortly to leave the island for some Western port.
The letter was hardly read and wept over, when little Anglice arrived. On beholding her, Antoine uttered a cry of joy and surprise,—she was so like the woman he had worshipped.
As a man's tears are more pathetic than a woman's, so is his love more intense,—not more enduring, or half so subtile, but intenser.
The passion that had been crowded down in his heart broke out and lavished its richness on this child, who was to him, not only the Anglice of years ago, but his friend Emile Jardin also.
Anglice possessed the wild, strange beauty of her mother,—the bending, willowy form, the rich tint of skin, the large tropical eyes, that had almost made Antoine's sacred robes a mockery to him.
For a month or two Anglice was wildly unhappy in her new home. She talked continually of the bright country where she was born, the fruits and flowers and blue skies. Antoine could not pacify her. By-and-by she ceased to weep, and went about the cottage with a dreary, disconsolate air that cut Antoine to the heart. Before the year ended, he noticed that the ruddy tinge had fled from her cheek, that her eyes had grown languid, and her slight figure more willowy than ever.
A physician was called. He could discover nothing wrong with the child, except this fading and drooping. He failed to account for that. It was some vague disease of the mind, he said, beyond his skill.
So Anglice faded day after day. She seldom left the room now. Antoine could not shut out the fact that the child was passing away. He had learned to love her so!
"Dear heart," he said once, "what is't ails thee?"
"Nothing, mon pere"—for so she called him.
The winter passed, the balmy spring air had come, and Anglice seemed to revive. In her little bamboo chair, on the porch, she swayed to and fro in the fragrant breeze, with a peculiar undulating motion, like a graceful tree.
At times something seemed to weigh upon her mind. Antoine noticed it, and waited. At length she spoke.
"Near our house," said little Anglice, "near our house, on the island, the palm-trees are waving under the blue sky. Oh, how beautiful! I seem to lie beneath them all day long. I am very, very happy. I yearned for them until I grew sick,—don't you think so, mon pere?"
"Mon Dieu, yes!" exclaimed Antoine, suddenly. "Let us hasten to those pleasant islands where the palms are waving."
"I am going there, mon pere!"
Ay, indeed. A week from that evening the wax candles burned at her feet and forehead, lighting her on the journey.
All was over. Now was Antoine's heart empty. He had nothing to do but to lay the blighted flower away.
Pere Antoine made a shallow grave in his garden, and heaped the fresh brown mould over his idol.
In the genial spring evenings the priest was seen sitting by the mound, his finger closed in the unread prayer-book.
The summer broke on that sunny land; and in the cool morning twilight, and after nightfall, Antoine lingered by the grave. He could never be with it enough.
One morning he observed a delicate stem, with two curiously shaped emerald leaves, springing up from the centre of the mound. At first he merely noticed it casually; but at length the plant grew so tall, and was so strangely unlike anything he had ever seen before, that he examined it with care.
How straight and graceful and exquisite it was! When it swung to and fro with the summer wind, in the twilight, it seemed to Antoine as if little Anglice were standing there in the garden!
The days stole by, and Antoine tended the fragile shoot, wondering what sort of blossom it would unfold, white, or scarlet, or golden. One Sunday, a stranger, with a bronzed, weather-beaten face like a sailor's, leaned over the garden-rail, and said to him,—
"What a fine young date-palm you have there, Sir!"
"Mon Dieu!" cried Pere Antoine, "and is it a palm?"
"Yes, indeed," returned the man. "I had no idea the tree would flourish in this climate."
"Mon Dieu!" was all the priest could say.
If Pere Antoine loved the tree before, he worshipped it now. He watered it, and nurtured it, and could have clasped it in his arms. Here were Emile and Anglice and the child, all in one!
The years flew by, and the date-palm and the priest grew together,—only one became vigorous and the other feeble. Pere Antoine had long passed the meridian of life. The tree was in its youth. It no longer stood in an isolated garden; for homely brick and wooden houses had clustered about Antoine's cottage. They looked down scowling on the humble thatched roof. The city was edging up, trying to crowd him off his land. But he clung to it, and wouldn't sell. Speculators piled gold on his door-step, and he laughed at them. Sometimes he was hungry, but he laughed none the less.
"Get thee behind me, Satan!" said the old priest's smile.
Pere Antoine was very old now, scarcely able to walk; but he could sit under the pliant, caressing leaves of his tree, and there he sat until the grimmest of speculators came to him. But even in death Pere Antoine was faithful to his trust. The owner of that land loses it, if he harms the date-tree.
And there it stands in the narrow, dingy street, a beautiful, dreamy stranger, an exquisite foreign lady whose grace is a joy to the eye, the incense of whose breath makes the air enamored. A precious boon is she to the wretched city; and when loyal men again walk those streets, may the hand wither that touches her ungently!
"Because it grew from the heart of little Anglice," said Miss Badeau, tenderly.
* * * * *
"SOLID OPERATIONS IN VIRGINIA":
OR, 'T IS EIGHTY YEARS SINCE.
I have never had many personal interviews with Princes. Setting aside a few with different Excellencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I never had but one such interview, which prolonged itself far enough to deserve a place in these memoirs of our time. This was with a President of the then United States,—with him who was, I fear, the Last of the Virginians. At least, I know no one on the line of promotion just now who seems to me likely to succeed him.
"Have ye travelled in Virginia, Mr. Larkin?" said the President to me.
I said I had not, but that I hoped to see the Valley of Virginia before I went home. That is the name given, in those regions, to the district west of the Blue Ridge. The President listened, but expressed himself dissatisfied with my plan.
"Ah, Sah!" he said, "ye sh'd see Jeems River. Every American sh'd see Jeems River. Ye'll not see the appearance of a large population, to which ye're used in Massachusetts,—the—customs,—the —arrangements,—the habits—of—our—laboring people—are such—that—that—their residences—are—are—more distant—from the highway than with you;—but—but—ye'll be greatly interested in seeing Jeems River. We've not the cities to show that ye have in Massachusetts,—but—there are great historical associations with Jeems River."
I bowed assent,—and when the President spoke again with some depreciation of their productions, I made up my mouth to say, in courtly vein,
"Man is the nobler growth your realms supply,"
when I recollected that that remark was too literally true to be complimentary to a State which made its chief business the growing of men and women for a distant market. So I did what it is always wise to do,—I said nothing. And the President, warming with his theme, said,—
"Yes, Sah, ye sh'd see Jeems River. There, at Jeemst'n, America first gave a home to the European,—and hard by, at Yorkt'n, the tie with Europe was sundered. There ye may see Williamsburg,—and our oldest college. There ye may see the birthplaces of four Presidents,—and there the capital of Virginia!"
With such, and other temptations, did he direct me on my journey.
I have been thinking how little the poor man foresaw that the time would come when in the valley of "Jeems River" the traveller would see the grave of the only President of the United States who ever in his old age turned rebel to the country which had honored him. How little he foresaw that other campaigns were impending, which would give more historical interest to the valley than even Cornwallis's marchings and countermarchings! how little he dreamed of Monitors and Merrimacks in fierce melee before his own little Hampton! how little, while he sowed the wind that winter, he looked forward to the whirlwind-reaping,—of which, indeed, he lived to hear only the first fierce sigh!
This valley of "Jeems River," and the three other valleys which radiate like the four fingers of an open hand, and send their waters down into the great conduit of Chesapeake Bay, which is the palm to these four fingers, are in this very month of April, when I write, to become the great battle-field of the continent. How strangely history repeats itself, that, after eighty-one years, we should be looking out on the map the Rapid Ann and the Chickahominy, and Williamsburg and Fredericksburg, just as our fathers did in 1781,—that the grandchildren of the men who marched under Lafayette from Baltimore to Richmond, by the forced march which saved that infant capital from the enemy, should be marching now, with a more Fabian tread, to save the same Richmond from worse enemies! Does the Comte de Paris trace the footprints of the young Marquis-General, who afterwards, among other things, made his grandfather King? How strange it all is! While I wait to know where Fabius is hidden, and where those army-corps of hundreds of thousands are, which seem to have sunk into the ground at Warrenton the other day, you and I, Reader, will familiarize ourselves with the geography a little, by brushing the dust off those old campaigns.
They began by mere predatory excursions, which occupied, for a few weeks at a time, the English forces which could be detached from New York. "We march up and down the country," said Cornwallis, not overmuch pleased, "stealing tobacco." As early as 1779, on the 8th of May, the Raisonnable, sixty-four, five smaller ships of the English navy, and a number of privateers acting as convoy to a cloud of transports, entered the Capes of the Chesapeake. The Raisonnable drew too much water to go farther than Hampton Roads: they probably did not know the channel as well as the Merrimack's pilots do. But the rest of them went up Elizabeth River, as one Pawnee did afterwards,—and there, at Gosport, found the State's navy-yard, as the Pawnee found a nation's. There was a vessel of war, unfinished, of twenty-eight guns, and many smaller vessels,—and they burned them all. How exactly it begins as the history of another war begins! Different branches of this expedition destroyed one hundred and thirty-seven vessels, and tobacco beyond account,—and they were all snugly back in New York in twenty-four days after they started.
It is the second campaign which is the most picturesque, varied, and exciting of the campaigns of the American Revolution,—and which was fought on ground which will have been made sacred by another campaign, perhaps even before these words meet the reader's eye. The men engaged in it were men who have left their mark. Cornwallis and Baron Steuben share with each other the honor of inventing the present light-infantry tactics of the world. Cornwallis. in Carolina, had seen the necessity of divesting his troops of their impediments. Steuben had been doing the same with the American line, ever since he began his instructions on the 29th of March, 1778. The discipline thus invented was carried back to Europe by English and by French officers; and when the wars of the French Revolution began, the rapid movement of the new light infantry approved itself to military men of all the great warring nations, and the old tactics of the heavy infantry of the last century died away in face of the American improvement. Besides Cornwallis, and for a time under him, here figured the traitor Arnold. Against them, besides Steuben, were Wayne and Lafayette,—the last in his maiden campaign, in which, indeed, he earned his military reputation, "never but once," says Tarleton, his enemy "committing himself during a very difficult campaign." In the beginning, General Phillips, the same who had been captured at Saratoga, had the chief command of the English army. Lafayette notes grimly that General Phillips had commanded at Minden the battery by which the Marquis de Lafayette, his father, was killed. He makes this memorandum in mentioning the fact that one of his cannon-shot passed through the room in which Phillips was dying in Petersburg. Such were the prominent actors in the campaign. It is not till within a few years that the full key to it has been given in the publication of some additional letters of Lord Cornwall. Until that time, a part of his movements were always shrouded in mystery.
In October, 1780, the English General Leslie entered Chesapeake Bay again, and established himself for a while at Portsmouth, opposite Norfolk. But Colonel Ferguson, with whom Leslie was to cooperate, had been defeated at King's Mountain, and when Leslie learned of the consequent change in Cornwallis's plans, he returned to New York on the 24th of November. His departure was regarded as a victory by General Muhlenberg, and the Virginia militia, who were called out to meet him.
They had scarcely been disbanded, however, when a second expedition, which had been intrusted to the traitor Arnold, arrived from New York in James River. Baron Steuben, the Prussian officer, who had "brought the foreign arts from far," was at this time in command, but with really little or no army. Steuben was, at the best, an irritable person, and his descriptions of the Virginia militia are probably tinged by his indignation at constant failure. General Nelson, who was the Governor of the State, behaved with spirit, but neither he nor Steuben could make the militia stand against Arnold. They could not create a corps of cavalry among the Virginia Cavaliers, and Arnold's expedition, therefore, marched twenty-five miles and back without so much as a shot being fired at them. He established himself at Portsmouth, where Muhlenberg watched him, and he there waited a reinforcement.
Just at this juncture a little gleam of hope shot across the darkened landscape, in the arrival of three French vessel's of war at the mouth of James River. The American officers all hated Arnold with such thorough hatred that they tried to persuade the French officers to shut up Elizabeth River by sea, while they attacked him at Portsmouth from the land; but the Frenchmen declined cooperation, and Steuben was always left to boast of what he might have done. As he had but eight rounds of ammunition a man for troops who had but just now failed him so lamentably, we can scarcely suppose that Arnold was in much danger.
Washington, meanwhile, had persuaded the French Admiral, at Newport, to send his whole fleet to act against Portsmouth; and by land he sent Lafayette, with twelve hundred light infantry, to take command in Virginia. Lafayette left Peekskill, feigned an attack upon Staten Island in passing, marched rapidly by Philadelphia to the head of the Chesapeake,—they all call it the "head of Elk,"—crowded his men on such boats as he found there, and, like General Butler after him, went down to Annapolis. At Annapolis, with some of his officers, he took a little vessel, in which he ran down to Williamsburg to confer with Steuben. He then crossed the James River, and reached the camp of Muhlenberg near Suffolk on the 19th of March. The reader has only to imagine General Burnside shutting up Norfolk on the south and west just now, to conceive of Lafayette's position, as he supposed it to be, when, on the 20th, he was told that the French fleet had arrived within the Capes. But, alas! on the 23d, it proved that this was not the French fleet, but the English, which had so far injured the French fleet in an action that they had returned to Newport; so that it was Arbuthnot, and not Destouches, whose fleet had arrived at Hampton Roads. Under their protection the English General Phillips relieved Arnold with two thousand more men; and it is at this moment that the active campaign of 1781 may be said to begin.
General Phillips immediately took command of the English army, for which he had sufficient force of light transports, and proceeded up James River. He landed first at Burrel's Ferry, opposite Williamsburg, into which city, till lately the capital of the State, he marched unmolested. His different marauding parties had entire success in their operations; and it is to be observed that his command of the navigation was an essential element of that success. "There is no fighting here," wrote Lafayette, "unless you have a naval superiority, or an army mounted on race-horses." Under almost all circumstances a corps embarked on boats could be pushed along these rivers faster than an enemy marching on the land. This remark, constantly verified then, will be much more important in the campaign now pending, in which these streams will, of course, be navigated by steam. It must be remembered, also, that the State of Virginia was at this time the storehouse from which General Greene's army in Carolina was supplied. To destroy the stores collected here, and thus directly to break down the American army in the South, was Sir Henry Clinton's object in sending out General Phillips. To protect these stores and the lines of communication with the Southern army was the object of the American generals. Had these designs been left unchanged, however, I should not now be writing this history. Indeed, the whole history of the United States would have had another beginning, and the valley of the James River would have had as little critical interest, in the close of the American Revolution, as have the valleys of the Connecticut and the Penobscot. The important change came, when Lord Cornwallis, at Wilmington, North Carolina, took the responsibility of the dashing, but fatal plan by which he crossed North Carolina with his own army, joined Phillips's army in Virginia, and with this large force, with no considerable enemy opposed, was in a position to go anywhere or to do anything unmolested. Cornwallis was an admirable officer, quite the ablest the English employed in America. He was young, spirited, and successful,—and, which was of much more importance in England, he had plenty of friends at Court. He conceived the great insubordination, therefore, of this great movement, which must compromise Sir Henry Clinton's plans, although Sir Henry was his commander. He wrote to the Secretary for the Colonies in London, and to General Phillips in Virginia, that he was satisfied that a "serious attempt" on that State, or "solid operations in Virginia," made the proper plan. So he abandoned Carolina, to which he had been sent, to General Greene; and with the idea that Sir Henry Clinton, his superior in command, ought to quit New York and establish himself in Virginia, without waiting that officer's views, he marched thither himself in such wise as to compel him to come. In that movement the great game was really lost. And it is to that act of insubordination, that, until this eventful April, 1862, the valley of James River has owed its historical interest.
He wrote from North Carolina, directing General Phillips to join him in Petersburg, Virginia; and thither Phillips called in his different corps who were "stealing tobacco," and there he himself arrived, in a dying condition, on the 9th of May. "I procured a post-chaise to convey him," says Arnold, his second in command. The town is familiar to travellers, as being the end of the first railroad-link south of Richmond. They still show the old house in which poor Phillips lay sick, while Lafayette, from the other side of the river, cannonaded the town with his light field-pieces. One of his balls entered the house, killed an old negro-woman who was reviling the American troops, and passed through the room where Phillips lay. "Will they not let me die in peace?" he asked. Arnold was also in danger, one of the balls passing near him; and, by his orders, Phillips and all the household were removed into the cellar. General Phillips was afterwards taken to another house, where he died on the 13th. It is in his memoranda of this affair at Petersburg that Lafayette records the fact that his father died at Minden from one of the shots of Phillips's batteries.
We left Lafayette at Williamsburg, which, my readers will remember, is on the neck of land of which Fort Monroe forms the southeast corner: it is about twenty-six miles northwest of that post, and ten miles west of Yorktown. If they do not remember this, they had better learn it now,—for, on this second of April, the appearances are that they will need to know it before long. If any one of them does not care to look at a map, he may take my figure which called Chesapeake Bay the palm of the hand,—to which the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers are the four fingers. Lay down on the page your right hand, upon its back, with the fingers slightly apart. The thumb is a meridian which points north. The forefinger is the Potomac as far as Washington. The middle finger is the Rappahannock,—with Fredericksburg about the first joint. The ring-finger is York River, with Williamsburg and Yorktown just above and below the knuckle line. The little finger is the James River, as far as Richmond. Fort Monroe is at the parting of the last two fingers. We left Lafayette at Williamsburg, disappointed at the failure to entrap Arnold. He returned at once to Annapolis by water, and transported his troops back to the head of Chesapeake Bay,—expecting to return to New York, now that his mission had failed. But Washington had learned, meanwhile, that General Phillips had been sent from New York to reinforce Arnold,—and so Lafayette met orders at the head of the Chesapeake to return, take command in Virginia, and foil the English as he might. Wayne, in Pennsylvania, was to join him with eight hundred of the mutinous Pennsylvania line. Were they the grandfathers of the men who deserted before Bull's Run? They retrieved themselves at James Island afterwards,—as the Bull's Run Pennsylvanians did at Newbern the other day. "How Lafayette or Wayne can march without money or credit," wrote Washington to Laurens, "is more than I can tell," But he did his part, which was to command,—and they did theirs, which was to obey.
Lafayette did his part thus. His troops, twelve hundred light infantry, the best soldiers in the world, he said at the end of the summer, had left Peekskill for a short expedition only. They had no supplies for a summer campaign, and seemed likely to desert him. Lafayette issued a spirited order of the day, in which he took the tone of Henry V. before the Battle of Agincourt, and offered a pass back to the North River to any man who did not dare share with him the perils of the summer against a superior force. He also hanged one deserter whom he caught after this order, and pardoned another who was less to blame. By such varied means he so far "encouraged the rest" that he wholly stopped desertion. He crossed the Susquehanna on the 13th of April, was in Baltimore on the 18th, and it was here that the ladies gave him the ball where he said, "My soldiers have no shirts." He borrowed two thousand guineas on his own personal security, promising to pay at the end of two years, when the French law would make him master of his estates. He bought material with the money, made the Baltimore belles, who were not then Secessionists, make the shirts, and started on his forced march again, with his troops clothed and partly shod, on the 20th. He passed the hills where Washington stands, unconscious of the city that was to be there, and of the Long Bridge which shakes under McClellan's columns. He halted to buy shoes in Alexandria, which he reached in two days. He pressed on to Fredericksburg, and was at Richmond on the 29th. So that a light column can march in nine days from Baltimore to Richmond, though there be no railroad in working order.
This was the first march "Forward to Richmond" in history. For the moment, it saved the city and its magazines from General Phillips, who had reached Manchester, on the opposite side of James River. Phillips retired down the river, hoping to decoy Lafayette after him, on that neck of land, now, as then, a point so critical, between the James and York Rivers,—and then to return by his vessels on the first change of wind, get in Lafayette's rear, and shut him up there. But it was another general who was to be shut up on that neck. Phillips was called south to Petersburg, where, as we have seen, he died. "Will they not let me die in peace?"
Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg with his Southern troops, including Tarleton's horse, on the 20th of May. He then had nearly six thousand men under his orders. Lafayette had about thirty-two hundred, of whom only a few were cavalry, a volunteer body of Baltimore young gentlemen being the most of them. The Virginia gentry had hesitated about giving up their fine blood-horses to mount cavalry on. But Tarleton had no hesitation in stealing them for his troopers, nor Simcoe, his fellow-partisan, for his,—so that Cornwallis had the invaluable aid of two bodies of cavalry thus admirably mounted, against an enemy almost destitute. Both armies marched without tents, with the very lightest baggage. It purely a light-infantry campaign, excepting the dashing raids of Tarleton and Simcoe.
Lafayette felt his inferiority of force,—and as soon as Cornwallis joined, crossed back over James River at Osborn's (say the bottom of the little-finger nail on our extempore map). Cornwallis crossed at Westover, also marked now on the maps as Ruffin's, some twenty miles lower down the river. Lafayette felt the necessity of meeting Wayne, who was supposed to be coming from Pennsylvania; he therefore retraced his march of a few weeks before, followed by Cornwallis with his infantry;—the cavalry had been on more distant service. Cornwallis would have crushed Lafayette, if he had overtaken him; but Lafayette knew this as well as we do,—marched nearly up to Fredericksburg again,—protected it till its stores were removed,—and then, after five days' march more, westward, met Wayne with his eight hundred Pennsylvanians at Raccoon Ford (head of the middle finger on the hand-map). The reader has, in just such way, marched a knight across the chess-board to escort back a necessary pawn, to make desperate fight against some Cornwallis of a castle. Cornwallis passed through Hanover Court-House to Chesterfield Court-House, "stealing tobacco," in the whole to the amount of two thousand hogsheads,—then, satisfying himself that he could not prevent the junction of the knight and pawn, and that Hunter's iron-works, at Fredericksburg, which he had threatened, were not of so much import as the stores in the western part of the country, he turned south and west again, and awaited Lafayette's movements, threatening Albemarle County, just west of where we are beginning to get acquainted with Gordonsville,—a place then uncreated. Cornwallis was all along unwilling to engage in extensive operations till he should hear from Sir Henry Clinton, whom he knew he had insulted and offended. His detachments of horse had been sent, meanwhile, up the line of James River above Richmond. Tarleton penetrated as far as Charlottesville, marching seventy miles in twenty-four hours, hoping to take the Legislature by surprise. The story is, that he would have succeeded, but for his eagerness to get his breakfast on the last day. He had waited long for it,—and finally asked, in some heat, where it was. Dr. Walker, whose guest he had made himself, replied, that Tarleton's soldiers had already taken two of the breakfasts which had been prepared for him that morning, and suggested a guard for the security of the third.
While the third breakfast was being cooked, the legislators escaped. Jefferson was among them. Tarleton took seven, however, who told him that the country was tired of the war,—and that, if no treaty for a loan were made with France that summer, Congress would negotiate with England before winter. They were eighty-one years in advance of their time! Tarleton returned down the Rivanna River to its junction with the James, where he assisted Simcoe in driving out Baron Steuben, who with a few militia was trying to protect some arms there. Poor Steuben had but few to protect, nothing to protect them with, and lost them all. At this point the cavalry rejoined the main army under Cornwallis.
In all these movements of both parties, the character of the "laboring people," of which, as I have said, President Tyler spoke to me, was illustrated. These people swarmed to Cornwallis with information, with horses and supplies. They did not swell the ranks of the Virginia militia. "He took away thirty thousand of our slaves," says Mr. Jefferson. "Many of your negroes joined the enemy," says Lafayette to Washington; "the news did not trouble me much, for that sort of interests touch me very little." This is in the letter where he tells the General how his agent, Lund Washington, had been disgracefully treating with the invaders. This disposition of the "laboring people," away from the high-roads, indeed, as Mr. Tyler said, explains the difference between Southern and Northern Revolutionary campaigns. The English forces never marched a day's march inland in the Northern States, excepting the three marches of two days or three, when they came to Bennington, to Saratoga, and to Trenton,—three memorable stopping-places. But in a country where the "laboring people" did not bear arms, they went to and fro, for months, as they chose. The Southern militia was small in numbers, and not trustworthy. The troops whom Lafayette relied upon, "the best troops in the world, far superior, in equal numbers, to the English," were his two thousand Northern men of the Continental line. Lord Cornwallis reunited all his forces at Elk Island, about forty miles above Richmond on James River. His own head-quarters were at "Jefferson's Plantation." He proposed another blow, on the stores collected in Old Albemarle Court-House, behind the mountains; and on the 9th of June he ordered Tarleton to march thither at daybreak, but recalled the order. He seems to have preferred waiting till he could attack "the Marquis," as they all called Lafayette, to advantage, to risking any considerable division in the mountains. And as he lay, the road by which he supposed Lafayette must come down from Raccoon Ford to protect Albemarle would expose him to a flank attack as he passed the head of Byrd's River. It was at this time, that, in a despatch which was intercepted, he wrote, "The boy cannot escape me." Lafayette tells the story with great gusto. "The boy" found a mountain-road which crossed farther west than that which he was expected to march upon. It had been long disused, but he pressed through it,—and at Burwell's Ordinary, in a neighborhood where our troops will find villages with the promising names of Union Town and Everettsville, he formed, on the 12th and 13th, in a strong position between Cornwallis and the coveted magazines. Cornwallis affected to suppose that the stores had been withdrawn; but, as he had given up Fredericksburg that he might destroy these very stores, Lafayette had good reason to congratulate himself that he had foiled him in the two special objects of the campaign, and had reduced him to the business which he did not like, of "stealing tobacco." For whatever reason, Cornwallis did not press his enterprise. With a force so formidable and a leader so enterprising before him, he did not care to entangle himself in the passes of the Blue Ridge. We shall know from General Banks's column, by the time this paper is printed, what are the facilities they afford for cover to an enemy. Leaving the Albemarle stores, therefore, and the road to Greene behind the mountains, he retraced his steps down the valley of the James River, and, passing Richmond, descended as low as Williamsburg, the point from which we have been tracing Lafayette's movements.
Lafayette followed him with delight, not to say amazement. "The enemy is so obliging as to withdraw before us," he writes,—and probably, to the end of his life, he did not fully understand why Lord Cornwallis did so. Their forces were numerically about equal, each commanding now rather more than five thousand men. But of Lafayette's only fifty were cavalry, a very important arm in that campaign, while Cornwallis had now eight hundred men mounted on the blood horses of Virginia. It was not true, as Lafayette thought possible, that the English exaggerated his force. It appears from Tarleton's memoirs that they estimated it very precisely. But we now know from Cornwallis's letters, that he had promised Clinton to be at Williamsburg on the 26th of June, ready for any operations he might then and there propose. He hoped that Clinton would largely reinforce him, so that his favorite scheme of "solid operations in Virginia" might be carried on. At all events, he had promised to have his army at Williamsburg to join any force which Clinton might send to him. To make this imagined junction, which never took place, he began his retreat. Lafayette again offered him battle; but Cornwallis did not accept the opportunity, and on the 25th of June he arrived at Williamsburg. Lafayette was always one day's march behind him, and encamped at last at Tyre's Plantation, one day beyond Williamsburg, which may become famous again in a few days. Colonel Butler, of Pennsylvania, with his riflemen, attacked Colonel Simcoe, of the English corps of refugees, at the Fords of the Chickahominy, about six miles west of Williamsburg. We shall be hearing of these fords again.
At Williamsburg poor Cornwallis met his fate. He had, perhaps, been dreading the arrival of his despatches from Clinton, through all the month he had been in Virginia. At last they came. Clinton was sorry he was there, expressed his regret that Cornwallis did not favor his plan for marching on Philadelphia, gave him carte blanche for Baltimore or Delaware,—but, instead of reinforcing him, asked for two thousand men, if he could spare them. The letter is, on the whole, a manly letter, from a superior to an inferior, who had social rank higher than himself, and more of the confidence of their Government. It gives Cornwallis great latitude; but it does not "abandon New York and bring our whole force into Virginia," which was Cornwallis's pet plan.
His Lordship behaved ill,—and, in a pet, threw away the British empire in America. He sulked, to speak simply. He took the sullen policy of literal obedience to orders, though he knew he should "break his owners." He marched at once, crossed James River at Jamestown, where Lafayette attacked his rear,—and, if his Lordship had been in fighting humor, would have got well beaten for his pains,—withdrew to Portsmouth, and put on vessels the two thousand men asked for by Sir Henry. Just then new despatches came from Clinton, who had received later news, and who was always trying to humor this spoiled child. He told him to keep all his men in Virginia, where he would take command himself as soon as the hot season was over. The "solid operations" were to begin. Very unstable they proved, even in the beginning!
Clinton ordered him to take post at Old Point Comfort,—where Fort Monroe is. But the engineer officers reported that they could not protect the fleet there against the French; and, to the delight of Lafayette and of all good angels, Cornwallis selected Yorktown for his summer position. Our neighborhood to it at Fort Monroe has made the position again familiar.
When Lafayette heard that the troops had sailed up the Chesapeake,—instead of to New York, which he had very correctly supposed to be their destination,—he thought Cornwallis was going to strike at Baltimore, and that he must "cut across" to Fredericksburg. That way he marched with his light infantry. His amazement hardly concealed itself when he found the enemy stopped at Yorktown. Back he came to Williamsburg, and wrote to Washington,—"If a fleet should arrive at this moment, our affairs will take a very fortunate turn." This was on the 6th of August. On the 1st of September he could write,—"From the bottom of my heart, my dear General, I felicitate you on the arrival of the French fleet.... Thanks to you, my dear General, I am in a charming situation, and I find myself at the head of a superb corps." The Marquis of St. Simon joined him with three thousand French infantry from the fleet,—and at Williamsburg they effectually kept Cornwallis from escape by land, as the French fleet did by sea.
The only proposal which Cornwallis made to save his corps after this was carefully considered, and, it is said, at one time determined on; but it was finally rejected, in expectation of relief from Clinton. Just now that we are beginning "solid operations in Virginia," and may have occasion to move a hundred thousand men, more or less, up the long neck of land between York and James Rivers, the passage is an interesting one. Washington had not yet arrived. The English plan was to attack and beat Lafayette and St. Simon before Washington joined them. The English columns were to move from Yorktown so as to attack Williamsburg before daybreak. "That time was deemed eligible," says Tarleton, "because the ground near and in Williamsburg is cut by several ravines, and because the British column, in advancing in the long and straight road through the town, would not be so much exposed to the enemy's cannon under cover of the night as during the day." Let the reader remember these defiles, as he traces the march of another column from Fort Monroe through Yorktown to Williamsburg, with some General Magruder falling back before it, watching his chances to strike. Cornwallis gave up the plan, however, and waited for the help from Clinton, which never came. On the 15th of September Washington and Rochambeau joined Lafayette; on the 18th of October Cornwallis capitulated, and for eighty years the Virginian campaigns were over.
There is not one subdivision of them but is touched by the movements of to-day. Everything is changed, indeed, except Virginia. But Raccoon Ford and Bottom's Bridge are where they were then. The division which marches on Gordonsville may send a party down the "Marquis's Road," as the people still call the wood-road which Lafayette opened; and all the battles of the next month,[A] in short, will be fought on the ground familiar to the soldiers of eighty years ago.
[Footnote A: By "the next month" the writer meant May. It will be observed that his article was finally prepared for the press on the second of April. It has not since been changed. The references to Williamsburg, the Chickahominy, and the "neck between the rivers" are not "prophecies after the fact."]
SUNTHIN' IN THE PASTORAL LINE.
To the Editors of the ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
Jaalam, 17th May, 1862.
Gentlemen,—At the special request of Mr. Biglow, I intended to inclose, together with his own contribution, (into which, at my suggestion, he has thrown a little more of pastoral sentiment than usual,) some passages from my sermon on the day of the National Fast, from the text, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them," Heb. xiii. 3. But I have not leisure sufficient at present for the copying of them, even were I altogether satisfied with the production as it stands. I should prefer, I confess, to contribute the entire discourse to the pages of your respectable miscellany, if it should be found acceptable upon perusal, especially as I find the difficulty of selection of greater magnitude than I had anticipated. What passes without challenge in the fervour of oral delivery cannot always stand the colder criticism of the closet. I am not so great an enemy of Eloquence as my friend Mr. Biglow would appear to be from some passages in his contribution for the current month. I would not, indeed, hastily suspect him of covertly glancing at myself in his somewhat caustick animadversions, albeit some of the phrases he girds at are not entire strangers to my lips. I am a more hearty admirer of the Puritans than seems now to be the fashion, and believe, that, if they Hebraized a little too much in their speech, they showed remarkable practical sagacity as statesmen and founders. But such phenomena as Puritanism are the results rather of great religious than merely social convulsions, and do not long survive them. So soon as an earnest conviction has cooled into a phrase, its work is over, and the best that can be done with it is to bury it. Ite, missa est. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Biglow that we cannot settle the great political questions which are now presenting themselves to the nation by the opinions of Jeremiah or Ezekiel as to the wants and duties of the Jews in their time, nor do I believe that an entire community with their feelings and views would be practicable or even agreeable at the present day. At the same time I could wish that their habit of subordinating the actual to the moral, the flesh to the spirit, and this world to the other were more common. They had found out, at least, the great military secret that soul weighs more than body.—But I am suddenly called to a sick-bed in the household of a valued parishioner.
With esteem and respect. Your ob't serv't HOMER WILBUR.
Once git a smell o' musk into a draw An' it clings hold like precerdents in law: Your gran'ma'am put it there,—when, goodness knows,— To jes' this-worldify her Sunday-clo'es; But the old chist wun't sarve her gran'son's wife, (For, 'thout new funnitoor, wut good in life?) An' so ole clawfoot, from the precinks dread O' the spare-chamber, slinks into the shed, Where, dim with dust, it fust or last subsides To holdin' seeds an' fifty things besides; But better days stick fast in heart an' husk, An' all you keep in't gits a scent o' musk.
Jes' so with poets: wut they've airly read Gits kind o' worked into their heart an' head, So's 't they can't seem to write but jest on sheers With furrin countries or played-out ideers, Nor hev a feelin', ef it doosn't smack O' wut some critter chose to feel 'way back: This makes 'em talk o' daisies, larks, an' things, Ez though we 'd nothin' here that blows an' sings,—
(Why, I'd give more for one live bobolink Than a square mile o' larks in printer's ink,)— This makes 'em think our fust o' May is May, Which 't ain't, for all the almanicks can say.
O little city-gals, don't never go it Blind on the word o' noospaper or poet! They 're apt to puff, an' May-day seldom looks Up in the country ez it doos in books; They 're no more like than hornets'-nests an' hives, Or printed sarmons be to holy lives. I, with my trouses perched on cow-hide boots, Tuggin' my foundered feet out by the roots, Hev seen ye come to fling on April's hearse Your muslin nosegays from the milliner's, Puzzlin' to find dry ground your queen to choose, An' dance your throats sore in morocker shoes: I've seen ye an' felt proud, thet, come wut would, Our Pilgrim stock wuz pithed with hardihood. Pleasure doos make us Yankees kind o' winch, Ez though 't wuz sunthin' paid for by the inch; But yit we du contrive to worry thru, Ef Dooty tells us thet the thing's to du, An' kerry a hollerday, ef we set out, Ez stiddily ez though 't wuz a redoubt.
I, country-born an' bred, know where to find Some blooms thet make the season suit the mind, An' seem to metch the doubtin' bluebird's notes,— Half-vent'rin' liverworts in furry coats, Bloodroots, whose rolled-up leaves ef you oncurl, Each on 'em's cradle to a baby-pearl,— But these are jes' Spring's pickets; sure ez sin, The rebble frosts 'll try to drive 'em in; For half our May's so awfully like Mayn't, 'T would rile a Shaker or an evrige saint; Though I own up I like our back'ard springs Thet kind o' haggle with their greens an' things, An' when you 'most give up, without more words Toss the fields full o' blossoms, leaves, an' birds: Thet's Northun natur', slow an' apt to doubt, But when it doos git stirred, ther's no gin-out!
Fust come the blackbirds clatt'rin' in tall trees, An' settlin' things in windy Congresses,— Queer politicians, though, for I'll be skinned, Ef all on 'em don't head aginst the wind. 'Fore long the trees begin to show belief,— The maple crimsons to a coral-reef, Then saffern swarms swing off from all the willers So plump they look like yaller caterpillars, Then gray hossches'nuts leetle hands unfold
Softer 'n a baby's be at three days old: This is the robin's almanick; he knows Thet arter this ther' 's only blossom-snows; So, choosin' out a handy crotch an' spouse, He goes to plast'rin' his adobe house.
Then seems to come a hitch,—things lag behind, Till some fine mornin' Spring makes up her mind, An' ez, when snow-swelled rivers cresh their dams Heaped-up with ice thet dovetails in an' jams, A leak comes spirtin' thru some pin-hole cleft, Grows stronger, fercer, tears out right an' left, Then all the waters bow themselves an' come, Suddin, in one gret slope o' shedderin' foam, Jes' so our Spring gits everythin' in tune An' gives one leap from April into June: Then all comes crowdin' in; afore you think, The oak-buds mist the side-hill woods with pink, The catbird in the laylock-bush is loud, The orchards turn to heaps o' rosy cloud, In ellum-shrouds the flashin' hangbird clings An' for the summer vy'ge his hammock slings, All down the loose-walled lanes in archin' bowers The barb'ry droops its strings o' golden flowers, Whose shrinkin' hearts the school-gals love to try With pins,—they 'll worry yourn so, boys, bimeby! But I don't love your cat'logue style,—do you?— Ez ef to sell all Natur' by vendoo; One word with blood in 't's twice ez good ez two: 'Nuff sed, June's bridesman, poet o' the year, Gladness on wings, the bobolink, is here; Half-hid in tip-top apple-blooms he swings, Or climbs aginst the breeze with quiverin' wings, Or, givin' way to 't in a mock despair, Runs down, a brook o' laughter, thru the air.
I ollus feel the sap start in my veins In spring, with curus heats an' prickly pains, Thet drive me, when I git a chance, to walk Off by myself to hev a privit talk With a queer critter thet can't seem to 'gree Along o' me like most folks,—Mister Me. Ther' 's times when I'm unsoshle ez a stone, An' sort o' suffocate to be alone,— I'm crowded jes' to think thet folks are nigh, An' can't bear nothin' closer than the sky; Now the wind's full ez shifty in the mind Ez wut it is ou'-doors, ef I ain't blind, An' sometimes, in the fairest sou'west weather, My innard vane pints east for weeks together, My natur' gits all goose-flesh, an' my sins Come drizzlin' on my conscience sharp ez pins:
Wal, et sech times I jes' slip out o' sight An' take it out in a fair stan'-up fight With the one cuss I can't lay on the shelf, The crook'dest stick in all the heap,—Myself.
'T wuz so las' Sabbath arter meetin'-time: Findin' my feelins wouldn't noways rhyme With nobody's, but off the hendle flew An' took things from an east-wind pint o' view, I started off to lose me in the hills Where the pines be, up back o' 'Siah's Mills: Pines, ef you're blue, are the best friends I know, They mope an' sigh an' sheer your feelins so,— They hesh the ground beneath so, tu, I swan, You half-forgit you 'we gut a body on.
Ther's a small school'us' there where four roads meet, The door-steps hollered out by little feet, An' side-posts carved with names whose owners grew To gret men, some on 'em, an' deacons, tu; 'T ain't used no longer, coz the town hez gut A high-school, where they teach the Lord knows wut: Three-story larnin' 's pop'lar now; I guess We thriv' ez wal on jes' two stories less, For it strikes me ther' 's sech a thing ez sinnin' By overloadin' children's underpitmin': Wal, here it wuz I larned my A B C, An' it's a kind o' favorite spot with me.
We 're curus critters: Now ain't jes' the minute Thet ever fits us easy while we 're in it; Long ez 't wuz futur', 't would be perfect bliss,— Soon ez it's past, thet time's wuth ten o' this; An' yit there ain't a man thet need be told Thet Now's the only bird lays eggs o' gold. A knee-high lad, I used to plot an' plan An' think 't wuz life's cap-sheaf to be a man; Now, gittin' gray, there's nothin' I enjoy Like dreamin' back along into a boy: So the ole school'us' is a place I choose Afore all others, ef I want to muse; I set down where I used to set, an' git My boyhood back, an' better things with it,— Faith, Hope, an' sunthin', ef it isn't Cherrity, It's want o' guile, an' thet's ez gret a rerrity.
Now, 'fore I knowed, thet Sabbath arternoon Thet I sot out to tramp myself in tune, I found me in the school'us' on my seat, Drummin' the march to No-wheres with my feet. Thinkin' o' nothin', I've heerd ole folks say, Is a hard kind o' dooty in its way: It's thinkin' everythin' you ever knew, Or ever hearn, to make your feelins blue. I sot there tryin' thet on for a spell: I thought o' the Rebellion, then o' Hell, Which some folks tell ye now is jest a metterfor (A the'ry, p'raps, it wun't feel none the better for); I thought o' Reconstruction, wut we 'd win Patchin' our patent self-blow-up agin; I thought ef tins 'ere milkin' o' the wits, So much, a month, warn't givin' Natur' fits,— Ef folks warn't druv, findin' their own milk fail, To work the cow thet hez an iron tail, An' ef idees 'thout ripenin' in the pan Would send up cream to humor ary man: From this to thet I let my worryin' creep, Till finally I must ha' fell asleep.
Our lives in sleep are some like streams thet glide 'Twixt flesh an' sperrit boundin' on each side, Where both shores' shadders kind o' mix an' mingle In sunthin' thet ain't jes' like either single; An' when you cast off' moorins from To-day, An' down towards To-morrer drift away, The imiges thet tengle on the stream Make a new upside-down'ard world o' dream: Sometimes they seem like sunrise-streaks an' warnins O' wut 'll be in Heaven on Sabbath-mornins, An', mixed right in ez ef jest out o' spite, Sunthin' thet says your supper ain't gone right. I'm gret on dreams, an' often, when I wake, I've lived so much it makes my mem'ry ache, An' can't skurce take a cat-nap in my cheer 'Thout hevin' 'em, some good, some bad, all queer.
Now I wuz settin' where I 'd ben, it seemed, An' ain't sure yit whether I r'ally dreamed, Nor, ef I did, how long I might ha' slep', When I hearn some un stompin' up the step, An' lookin' round, ef two an' two make four, I see a Pilgrim Father in the door. He wore a steeple-hat, tall boots, an' spurs With rowels to 'em big ez ches'nut-burrs, An' his gret sword behind him sloped away Long 'z a man's speech thet dunno wut to say.— "Ef your name's Biglow, an' your given-name Hosee," sez he, "it's arter you I came; I'm your gret-gran'ther multiplied by three."— "My wut?" sez I.—"Your gret-gret-gret," sez he: "You wouldn't ha' never ben here but for me. Two hunderd an' three year ago this May The ship I come in sailed up Boston Bay; I 'd ben a cunnle in our Civil War,— But wut on airth hev you gut up one for? I'm told you write in public prints: ef true, It's nateral you should know a thing or two."— "Thet air's an argymunt I can't endorse,— 'T would prove, coz you wear spurs, you kep' a horse: For brains," sez I, "wutever you may think, Ain't boun' to cash the draft o' pen-an'-ink,— Though mos' folks write ez ef they hoped jes' quickenin' The churn would argoo skim-milk into thickenin'; But skim-milk ain't a thing to change its view O' usefleness, no more 'n a smoky flue. But du pray tell me, 'fore we furder go, How in all Natur' did you come to know 'Bout our affairs," sez I, "in Kingdom-Come?"— "Wal, I worked round at sperrit-rappin' some, In hopes o' larnin' wut wuz goin' on," Sez he, "but mejums lie so like all-split Thet I concluded it wuz best to quit. But, come now, ef you wun't confess to knowin', You 've some conjecturs how the thing's a-goin'."— "Gran'ther," sez I, "a vane warn't never known Nor asked to hev a jedgment of its own; An' yit, ef 't ain't gut rusty in the jints, It 'a safe to trust its say on certin pints: It knows the wind's opinions to a T, An' the wind settles wut the weather 'll be-"— "I never thought a scion of our stock Could grow the wood to make a weathercock; When I wuz younger