Among them were "Rollin's Ancient History," "Robinson Crusoe," "The Arabian Nights," "Life of Charles XII. of Sweden," "Kossuth and his Generals," and "Napoleon and his Marshals,"—everything relating to the career of the great Corsican being devoured with the greatest avidity.
He began, of course, by reading the descriptions of battles. All boys do so. But gradually his interest in such exciting events extended to the actors in them, and again to the causes that led to them, and at length the books were read from the preface to the end.
The conversations between the uncle and nephew were far from exercising a good influence over the boy. If Willard related some daring deed from the life of Charles XII. or of the great Napoleon—his own especial hero—his uncle Henry would match it with some equally striking, if less civilized adventure in the forest or upon the river, in which he or some of his whilom associates had played the principal part. All this was, to a certain extent, calculated to unsettle the lad's mind for the common, routine duties of a useful existence. Fortunately, however, at about the time that it began to produce that effect, another opposite and more powerful influence was brought to bear upon him which changed the current of his ambition, and turned his attention to matters less exciting in their character, but destined to exert a much greater influence over his future life. I allude to his association with his teacher, Allen Wight.
The small, plain brick school-house at Little York stands there, we believe, to-day as it did then in all its native and naked ugliness. Such a structure, looking at it aesthetically, is not a cheerful sight to the lover of learning, but at that period it was under the mastership of a mind of no ordinary calibre. From all that we can learn of him, Allen Wight was that remarkable character—a born educator. He did not believe his duty was performed by merely drilling his pupils, parrot-like, to repeat other men's sentiments. He knew that the minds of mortals, particularly if young and fresh, are as diverse in their springs of action as the laws of the universe, and he conceived it to be his duty to study the individual characteristics of each scholar under his charge, as he would have familiarized himself with the notes of a piece of music before he attempted to play it. His method was that of the Jesuit, carried out in a Protestant fashion. In young Glazier he took especial interest. He liked the sturdy little fellow who, though full of youthful vim, could yet sit down and discuss the difference between a Macedonian phalanx as described by Rollin and a corps d'armee as manoeuvred by Soult, and he determined if possible—to use his own phraseology—"to make a man of him."
His first step was to lead the boy's mind up to a habit of reasoning upon the present and the past, and upon the every day world of practical realities with which he had to do. When this habit had become sufficiently matured in him, the wise teacher told him the story of his own life, with its struggles, its disappointments and its triumphs, thinking thus to stimulate his favorite pupil to greater efforts and better achievements in the path of knowledge. He talked to young Willard as he would have talked to a man, yet with all the gentleness of manner he would have used in addressing a woman. Every incentive which he could place before the boy, every appeal to both heart and brain which he could make, Allen Wight used—as the mechanic would use the lever—to bring out all that was noblest and best in him—to develop all the sleeping possibilities of his young nature.
Ward Glazier had not been as prosperous in his worldly affairs as his patriotism and honesty deserved, and things at the old "Homestead" looked rather gloomy. Poverty is a fearful darkener of child-life, and while its shadow rarely fell on Willard, who was always at school or roving the woods and fields with his uncle Henry, to his sisters and brothers it frequently presented its dark face and whispered unpleasant prophesies of the future.
Of course it was not that abject kind of poverty which stints the supply of food and fire in a house. It did not still the prattle of the children, or banish childish mirth from the dwelling. It was not the wolf at the door, but the wolf in the dim possible distance when the poor father, bent with age, would perhaps be unable to keep his little flock together. But the boy had never thought of such a possible time. His visions of the future were of sights to be seen in the great world—of a time when he would be large enough and free enough to accompany his uncle Henry upon some of his wild adventures among civilized or savage races, and of the delights of unlimited books to be read upon subjects most congenial to his mind. He therefore made no allowance for his father's gloomy face and short words, and often thought him stern when he was only sad.
A slight incident, however, changed all this and compelled him to face life not as a dream but as a reality. One evening Willard's father came home very tired and somewhat dispirited by some adverse circumstances, such as occur in every man's business life at times, and of course he was not in the most pleasant frame of mind to encounter the petty annoyances of a household. Something that Willard said or did, capped the climax of his irritability and he called the boy a fool. It was a very unusual thing for Ward Glazier to speak with even apparent harshness to his children, and the lad felt it, therefore, all the more keenly. He became very thoughtful and silent, and crept off to bed earlier than usual only to lie awake most of the night brooding over the insult, and debating within himself what to do in order to vindicate his outraged dignity. The conclusion at which he finally arrived was that when the morning came, he would run away from home and seek his fortune in the great world. The fact is he had been reading "Robinson Crusoe" but a day or two previous, and that charming story had made a great impression on his mind. Under its weird influence his vivid imagination conjured up possible scenes of adventure in which he was to emulate the courage and sagacity of that celebrated truant, and eventually come home, as Robinson did, a man full of knowledge with which to astonish the family, and with wealth to lavish on brothers and sisters, and make comfortable the declining years of his parents. "Then his father would not think him a fool," said this youthful logician to himself. His active little brain was too highly stimulated by his great resolve to permit much sleep that night, and his bosom swelled proudly as he thought how bravely he would encounter misfortune and face danger for the sake of the glorious future he saw in the distance. His boyish heart thrilled strangely within him as he pictured to himself how full of amazement his brothers and sisters would be, when they found he had gone forth all alone to seek his fortune. Even the little sleep, therefore, that he obtained, was but a dreamy repetition of his waking thoughts, and when the first gray streak of dawn told of the coming day, the boy arose and quietly dressing himself for his journey, emerged from the house, passed down the avenue under the broad elms and struck the highway. He shivered a little as the chill air of morning touched his cheek, and his ambitious dream did not look quite so glowing and glorious as it had done when snugly ensconced in his comfortable bed, but still he had a consciousness that he was doing something very manly, and he walked on with a firm step and determined heart.
It is true he had no very definite idea of where he was going,—he only thought of doing great things and seeing strange sights. His whole plan of travel was comprehended in the one idea of going out into the world. That was all. Accordingly the youth trudged on for miles without weariness,—for his head was still thronged with thick coming fancies of the possible future that lay before him, and for some time the exulting sense of freedom that ever accompanies disenthralment of any kind, thrilled his whole being with a firm resolution to accomplish great things.
At the expiration of a few hours, however, the fatigue involved in so unusual a tramp before breakfast, began to tell upon him, and as he mechanically slackened his pace, his reflections assumed a less jubilant and less satisfactory character. He had walked nearly fourteen miles and was already footsore. "Going out into the world," began to seem not quite so enchanting a proceeding as it had appeared to be at starting. For the first time since the idea of "seeking his fortune" had entered his mind, he asked himself where he was to seek it.
The reply to this inquiry was not easy. Meanwhile the sun had mounted high up in the heavens and was shining brightly, the birds were singing their matin songs, and in the roadside pastures the cattle were quietly grazing. It was a peaceful, pastoral scene, but its peace did not enter the heart of the wanderer. Somehow the world did not appear half so attractive in his eyes as it had looked when he stole forth from his father's gate in the cold gray of the morning twilight. His step, therefore, was less elastic and his bearing less assured now than then, and at length he sat down under a large beech-tree by the roadside, to reflect upon the situation. He began to feel very weary, and the sudden transition from action to repose induced a drowsiness that in a few minutes overcame his waking sense and launched him into the sea of forgetfulness. The young head sank lower and lower on his breast, and finally, sleep ... "that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,"... "sore labor's bath, balm of hurt minds, great Nature's second course," came to him unawares, and for some hours he was totally oblivious of all surroundings.
It was a dreamless sleep, and noon had come when he awoke. For a few moments he was unable to recall where he was or how he had come there, but in a very short time the recollection of everything that had happened to him since the evening before swept over his mind like a flood. Every circumstance now, however, was viewed in a far different light. Somehow, the provocation which had sent him into the wide world to seek his fortune did not seem half so great as it had seemed only the night before. The example of De Foe's hero was not so completely alluring, and a portion of that history which the evening previous he had not deemed worthy of a thought, now rose vividly before him. He seemed to read again these words:
"My father, a grave, wise man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he saw was my design. He told me it was for men of desperate fortunes on the one hand, or of aspiring superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road: that these things were all either too far above me, or too far below me: that mine was the middle state or what might be called the upper station of humble life, which he had found by long experience was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness. The wise man gave his testimony to this when he prayed to have 'neither poverty nor riches.'" And then came the thought that all that Robinson ever gained in fame or fortune, failed to still the quiet but terrible whisper of his conscience whenever he thought of those he had abandoned for a roving life. So intently did he think upon these things, he seemed actually to behold the wanderer upon his sea-girt island with lawless Will Atkins and the gentle French priest beside him, while the words of the repentant mutineer seemed to be hissed into his ear:—"No, sir, I did not cut his throat, but I cut the throat of all his comforts. I shortened his days and I broke his heart by the most ungrateful, unnatural return, for the most tender and affectionate treatment that father ever gave or child could receive." Young Willard could not but remember that his parents had been most kind and tender, that his father had lavished upon him during all the years of his childhood a most prodigal wealth of affection: and the one harsh epithet he had received seemed as nothing among the multitude of kind and loving words that had never been withheld from him. His heart told him that something deeper than any ordinary woe would darken his mother's quiet face when she beheld his empty chair and realized that he had gone, perhaps never to return, without one farewell word to her. Such reflections as these, that he wondered had not occurred to him before, now took possession of his mind and, impelled by their influence, he arose and slowly started back towards home. As he came within sight of the old place he saw his father in the distance reaping, and the sight filled him with gladness.
"From the top of the road, through the gap was seen Down a zigzag road cut up by rills, The velvet valley cradled between Dark double ridges of 'elm' clad hills; And just beyond, on the sunniest slope, With its windows aglint in the sunset warm, In the spot where he first knew life and hope, Was the dear old house of the 'Homestead' farm."
But he was not just then in a frame of mind to meet the parental eye, and he therefore skirted round a piece of woods which concealed him from his father's view and reaching the door unobserved, crept into the house.
Though his absence had been discovered, and its cause, if not known, at least shrewdly suspected, his father and mother in their reception of him very wisely ignored all knowledge of his truancy and treated the young prodigal with such unusual marks of kindness and indulgence, that he was completely melted, and felt, with keen remorse, that he had been upon the eve of becoming a most wretched ingrate. The lesson of the experiment was not lost upon him, and he never again tried the foolish venture.
WILLARD GLAZIER AT HOME.
Out of boyhood.—Days of adolescence.—True family pride.—Schemes for the future.—Willard as a temperance advocate.—Watering his grandfather's whiskey.—The pump behind the hill. The sleigh-ride by night.—The "shakedown" at Edwards.—Intoxicated by tobacco fumes.—The return ride.—Landed in a snow-bank.—Good-bye horses and sleigh!—Plodding through the snow.
Ward Glazier—putting his theories to the test of practice—believed it best to allow the error of his son to work out its own punishment, without adding a word to indicate that he knew it had been committed. The wisdom of such reticence is not often recognized by parents placed in similar circumstances, but it would perhaps be better for the children if it were. At the same time the father thought it expedient to apprise Allen Wight of the matter. That gentleman readily acquiescing in his plans, saw in the recoil which would probably succeed such an escapade in the mind of a sensitive and generous boy, the opportunity he sought to arouse him to a sense of the duties that lay before him in his future career, in living a useful and worthy life.
One afternoon, therefore, when they were enjoying a quiet chat after school hours, he managed—without the slightest allusion to the runaway freak—to turn the conversation to the subject of "self-made men." Not, be it understood, that species of fungi who only love their maker, because being
"Self-made, self-trained, self-satisfied,"
"Themselves their only daily boast and pride."
Not the Randall Leslies, or the Peter Firkins of the world or that other
"Score of Peter Funks, Of the mock-mining stamp, who deal in chunks Of confidence, ores and metals as examples And sell the bowels of the earth by samples;"
but that higher race who have achieved noble things despite all the drawbacks of poverty and friendlessness.
He spoke of Clive, the Shropshire farmer's son, who, according to the greatest of modern historians, equalled Lucullus in war and Tergot in peace; that reformer who out of the discordant elements of an Indian oligarchy consolidated and perfected an empire, one of the most splendid the world contains.
He spoke, too, of that other Indian ruler who as he lay dreaming a boy's day-dream one holiday, upon the bank of a stream that flowed through Daylesford Manor—the manor which one ancestor's sword had won and another ancestor's folly had lost—who formed a scheme of life that culminated in the extension of the same empire beyond all previous expectation, and in linking his own name so inseparably with the story of his country, that no man can write the history of England without writing the life of Warren Hastings.
Other examples of great ends achieved with little means, by men in our own land, were talked over.
Franklin the boy, walking up Market street, Philadelphia, a penny-roll under each arm and munching a third, under the laughing observation of Miss Read, his future wife—and Franklin the sage and Minister, representing his government at the most elegant court in Europe, were contrasted for his edification. Various modern instances were added, Mr. Wight keeping in view Pope's axiom that
"Men must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown proposed as things forgot."
When the boy's mind had been sufficiently awakened he followed the advice of the old adage to "strike while the iron is hot," and impressed upon him the fact that being the eldest son he was naturally the prop of his house; nor did he ignore the truth, unpalatable as it might be, that Willard could hope for no material aid from the hands of his parents. He must carve his own way. He must build even the ladder up which he was to climb. Others had done so—why not he? And then he told him that the way to do it successfully was to acquire knowledge and cultivate wisdom; for
"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one, Have, oft times, no connection. Knowledge dwells in the thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own."
Working upon what he rightly conjectured to be the boy's newly awakened sense of the kindness of his father, he spoke of that good man's pecuniary reverses, and professed his faith in Willard as the future regenerator of the fallen fortunes of Ward Glazier's family.
The boy's generous enthusiasm was awakened at once. His ordinary school tasks and home duties no longer looked commonplace, and were no longer distasteful to him. They were but incidents in a general plan of usefulness, and he performed them with an air of cheerfulness that pleased his teacher and delighted his parents. He volunteered to help his father in the fields, and while but a boy in years, he yet performed the work of a man. In fact, he had discovered that every duty of life has its heroic side, and needs only the impulse of high and noble motives to be invested with dignity and interest.
Meanwhile, he did not neglect his studies. The idea of intellectual culture was no longer a mere abstraction. Books were not only what they always had been—reservoirs of knowledge, alluring to his imagination, and fascinating to his mind—but they were now looked upon as levers, with which he was to move the world. Knowledge now meant the means whereby, in the days to come, he was to acquire the power to make his father and mother comfortable for the balance of their lives; and to surround his sisters with those luxuries which go far towards making existence a thing of grace and refinement. When, therefore, he worked during the warm days of summer, aiding his father in the care of the farm, the summer evenings found him poring earnestly over his books—practical and useful ones now—and the harvest once gathered, he was back again in his old place at school, where he studied steadily and hard. His teacher, Allen Wight, looked on and was satisfied. And yet Willard was a wild boy—as wild as any in the school. His relish for fun and frolic was as keen as ever, but it was now subordinated to his judgment. His practical jokes were fewer, and the peculiarities of his father no longer furnished him with a subject for their perpetration. Now and then, however, the old exuberance of mischief would break out, and upon one occasion his grandfather became its victim.
As that mosaic styled "character" is nothing more than an aggregate of just such trivial things, we trust our readers will pardon us if we relate the incident in point.
When Willard was over nine years of age, his father moved from the Old Homestead and purchased a place named the Goodrich Farm, where he opened a country store. The venture proved to be an unfortunate one, and, after a series of pecuniary vicissitudes, he left it, and, at the period to which we refer, was the occupant of a farm known in that section as the Davis Place.
This farm and the Glazier Homestead occupied positions upon opposite sides of the same public road—the former being one mile nearer the town of Fullersville.
Meantime, the Homestead was occupied and cultivated by Jabez Glazier, the grandfather of Willard, and upon certain occasions the boy was sent over to stay for a few days at that place, to help the old gentleman in many little ways connected with its cultivation.
At that time and in that locality it was customary during the haying season to deal out to the men employed stated rations of whiskey every day. A bottle was filled for each one, and, being placed by the recipient in a swathe of the newly-cut grass, frequent visits were made to the spot and frequent libations indulged in. Ward Glazier and his wife being determinedly opposed to the use of ardent spirits under any circumstances whatever, the custom was dispensed with at the Davis Place; but at the Old Homestead, under the rule of Jabez Glazier, the time-honored usage was staunchly maintained. Young Willard had been so deeply inoculated with his parents' opinions on this subject, that he had delivered an address before the society of "Sons of Temperance" at Fullerville even at that early age, and his disgust may be imagined when he found himself selected by his grandfather to go to the village tavern for the necessary quantity of "Old Rye." He asked that some other messenger might be sent, but the old gentleman was inflexible. Nobody but Willard would satisfy his whim—perhaps because he felt that, in the custody of his grandson, the "fire-water" would not be tampered with on its return to the farm. Willard did not openly rebel against his grandfather's commands—since it was the fashion in those days for children to be obedient—but turned his attention to gaining his object by means of a little stratagem. Not far from the house on the road leading to the store stood an old pump, concealed from view by an intervening building and a rising hill. Here this youthful disciple of Father Matthew made it a practice regularly to stop, and pouring out half the contents of the jug he carried, refilled it with the crystal liquid from the pump.
At first this improvement in their potations seemed hardly to attract the attention of the individuals interested; but, as each day the proportion of water increased, the dilution at last forced itself upon their attention, and every one agreed that the tavern-keeper was cheating Jabez in the "Rye" business. The result of it all was the withdrawal of Jabez Glazier's custom from the establishment in question, and the future purchase of "spiritual" goods by Mr. Jabez himself in person.
Thus Willard's object was attained, and the cold-water people were no longer vexed by the inconsistent spectacle of a son of temperance playing Ganymede to a set of drinking, though by no means drunken, hay-makers.
Not often, now, did young Willard figure as chief in any mad scrape or wild boyish adventure. Those times were left behind. Once, indeed, his uncle Henry, the patron of the great chief "Kaw-shaw-gan-ce," swooped down upon the household, and, in an enormous four-horse sleigh of his own construction, took him, together with a gay and festive party of lads and lasses, off to Edwards, a village nine miles away. Here the rustic party had a "shake-down," and young Willard got fearfully sick in a dense atmosphere of tobacco smoke. The feast over, he was tightly packed in the sleigh with the buxom country girls and their muscular attendants, while Henry Glazier drove across country through a blinding snow-storm and over measureless drifts. The party was stranded at last on a rail fence under the snow, and the living freight flung bodily forth and buried in the deep drifts. They emerged from their snowy baptism with many a laugh and scream and shout, and tramped the remainder of the distance home. The horses having made good their escape, Willard was carried forward on his uncle Henry's back.
ADVENTURES—EQUINE AND BOVINE.
Ward Glazier moves to the Davis Place.—"Far in the lane a lonely house he found."—Who was Davis?—Description of the place.—A wild spot for a home.—Willard at work.—Adventure with an ox-team.—The road, the bridge and the stream.—"As an ox thirsteth for the water."—Dashed from a precipice!—Willard as a horse-tamer.—"Chestnut Bess," the blooded mare.—The start for home.—"Bess" on the rampage.—A lightning dash.—The stooping arch.—Bruised and unconscious.
It will be remembered that when Ward Glazier left the Homestead, he removed to a neighboring farm known as the Goodrich Place,—a fine, comfortable, well-stocked and well-tilled farm, presenting an appearance of prosperity to the eye of the observer and calculated to make the impression that its owner must be well-to-do in the world. As we have heretofore hinted, however, Ward Glazier failed to prosper there. Why this was the case it is hard to tell. A late writer has suggested that "not only the higher intellectual gifts but even the finer moral emotions are an incumbrance to the fortune-hunter." That "a gentle disposition and extreme frankness and generosity have been the ruin in a worldly sense of many a noble spirit;" and he adds that "there is a degree of cautiousness and distrust and a certain insensibility and sternness that seem essential to a man who has to bustle through the world and engineer his own affairs,"—and if he be right, the matter may be easily understood.
However that may be, he failed to prosper, and as business misfortunes began to fall thick and fast upon his head, he gave up the farm to his creditors, together with all his other effects, and took up his abode at the Davis Place.
Who the particular Davis was whose name clung to the place we have been unable to ascertain, but when Ward Glazier moved there, the house seemed fairly to scowl upon the passer-by—so utterly unprepossessing was its appearance. A rude, capacious wooden structure, it stood fronting the highway, and was a place where the beautiful had no existence. The very soil looked black and rough—the vegetation rugged. Every inclosure was of stone or knotted timber, and even a dove-cot which in its fresher days some hand had placed upon the lawn, was now roofless and shattered, and lay prone upon the ground, a shapeless mass of collapsed boards. The lawn—if such it could be named—resembled a bleak shore, blackened with stranded wrecks of ships whose passengers had long years before gone down at sea. The broken windows in the dormitories were festooned with cobwebs that had housed long lines of ancestral spiders, and where a pane or two of glass remained among the many empty frames, one fancied a gibbering spectre might look out from the gloomy depths behind.
The back-ground against which this bleak and sombre place was thrown was no less grim and stern. Huge rocks in tiers, like stone coffins, rose in fierce ranges one above another up and up—back and farther back until they reached a point from whence a miniature forest of dwarf beech and maple, that appeared to crown the topmost bastion of them all, nodded in the swaying wind like funeral plumes upon a Titan's hearse.
In fact, the only gleam of light upon the place—and it was a crazy, fitful gleam at that—came from a rushing stream that took its source high up among the hills. This brook first seen off to the extreme left of the house, came dashing down the rocks until it reached a level. Then, swinging round with sudden swirl it engirdled the place, and after many a curious twist and turn got straight again and went onward far off among the neighboring fields and lost itself at last in the Oswegatchie. The interior of the house was just as wild and dreary as the exterior. The rooms, for the most part, were too large for comfort. When one spoke, a dozen ghostly echoes answered, and at twilight the smaller children huddled around the kitchen fire and seldom went beyond that cheerful room until bed time. Often, in the dead of night, the creaking of timber and the voices of the wind startled the little ones from sleep, and a sense of something unreal and mysterious overshadowed their young minds.
It was, take it all in all, a grim, gaunt, strange place in which to fix a home. It was there, however, in the midst of such sterile surroundings, that the next five years of Willard's life were mainly passed. There were no external influences brought to bear upon this portion of his existence that were not harsh and wild and stern. His father, honest even to the verge of fanaticism, was letting his heart corrode to bitterness under the sense of hopeless indebtedness. The churlish fields attached to the place offered but a grudging reward for the hardest labor. There was no hope of his acquiring a profession or even an education beyond the scant opportunity of Allen Wight's school, unless he himself could earn the means to pay for it. Still he was neither discouraged nor without hope. Instead of sinking under this accumulation of difficulties, his moral fibre was rendered more robust, and with it his physical strength and usefulness developed daily.
Thus a year sped on, and at the end of that time his father, as one means of adding something to his scanty resources, obtained the job of hauling a quantity of iron ore from the ore beds near Little York to a forge and furnace at Fullerville. Willard with an ox-team and his uncle Henry with a span of fine horses, were employed for the most part to do the actual hauling.
By this time Willard was quite familiar with the management of horses, and he had also learned to drive oxen, so that at the age of thirteen he worked with his ox-team as regularly and almost as efficiently as any of his grown-up uncles or even his father. The management of an ox-team, by the way, is quite different from that of horses, and at times it becomes very troublesome business, requiring for its successful accomplishment the very nicest admixture of courage, coolness and discretion. Willard, however, with the self-reliance that always characterizes a boy of his age, never for a moment doubted that he was adequate to the task, and as he had been placed in charge of a very fine yoke of oxen, took much pride in driving them in the same manner as he would have driven a span of horses, seated on the top of his load upon the wagon instead of being on foot and close by their heads, as prudence would have taught an older driver to do. The truth is, that if there was any human being before whom the boy delighted to exhibit himself as doing a manly part in his little circle of existence, that being was Henry Glazier.
Consequently, when his uncle's team was on the road, Master Willard took a position upon his own load with as important an air as if he were on the box of a coach-and-four, and guided his cattle as if they were animals of the most docile disposition, to halt at his whisper or proceed at his word. As the principal part of the work was performed at midsummer under the rays of a scorching sun, the cattle were, of course, irritable and restive to a degree that in colder weather would have seemed inconsistent with the phlegmatic characteristics of their race.
The road from Little York to Fullerville is a winding, narrow road, somewhat hilly in places, and neither very smooth nor level at any point. Midway between the two villages a brawling stream crosses the road, and making a turn empties itself, at the distance of about thirty yards, into the waters of the Oswegatchie. This stream is spanned by a rustic bridge at a very considerable elevation above the water. The banks are high and abrupt, and, as the traveler approaches them, he cannot fail to be attracted by the silvery sparkle of the waters far below. The view from the bridge takes in the white farm-houses with their emerald setting of rich grain-fields and meadowlands, the distant forge with its belching smoke-stacks, the winding Oswegatchie, and the distant blue hills. If the month happens to be August, the traveler may hear the cheerful hum of busy industry, the swinging cradles of the harvesters or the steady roll of the reaper. Upon a day, late in this richest of summer months—August—in the year of our Lord 1854, Willard and his uncle Henry were slowly wending their way towards Fullerville—the former with his ox-team and the latter with a spanking span of horses. The beasts of burden by their drooping heads and slow pace evinced the fact that the loads of ore they were drawing were unusually heavy, and this, combined with the sultry atmosphere, was telling upon the strength of even such powerful beasts as they.
Willard, as usual, was seated upon the top of his load, and, as they neared the bridge, despite his familiarity with every detail of the scene, a sense of its exquisite beauty took possession of him, and, for a moment, he forgot that he was driving an ox-team. For a moment he was oblivious to the fact that it takes all a driver's care and skill to prevent mischief whenever a thirsty ox obtains a glimpse of water upon a summer's day. As they neared the bridge, the fevered eyes of the cattle caught sight of the limpid stream away down below, and, just as a cry of warning from his uncle recalled the boy to a sense of the deadly peril of his position, the cattle made an oblique plunge over the edge of the bank with two tons of iron-ore in lumps varying from five pounds to fifty, pouring a huge and deadly hail over their reckless heads. With rare presence of mind for a boy of his age, the instant he heard his uncle's warning cry, Willard realized the situation and jumped sideways from the wagon. As he did so, his hat fell off and rolled a short distance away. At the same moment a lump of ore, weighing not less than one-hundred pounds, fell upon it and crushed it so deeply into the ground that it was completely hidden from view. Many months afterwards, some boys digging for fish-bait found the hat buried there, and returned to the village with a tale of some possible and unknown murder, committed when or by whom no one could tell.
As for the boy himself, he escaped with only a scratch or two and a few bruises, but that he escaped with his life or with sound limbs was almost a miracle; and, as his big-hearted uncle picked him up, he hugged the lad as one snatched from the very jaws of death. Willard was somewhat awed by the narrowness of his escape, and it was observed that his face wore an expression a shade graver than was its wont for several days after the occurrence.
The lesson, however, made no lasting impression. Scarce a week had gone by ere his life was once more imperilled, and this time the danger resulted from his own reckless over-confidence in himself.
It is a singular fact in the boy's history that every danger to which at this period of his life he was exposed, seems to have been twin-brother to some other hazard equally great, and which tripped upon its very heels.
As already stated, Willard was a good horseman for a boy of his age. He possessed considerable nerve, and, having been brought up among horses, knew a good deal about their ways. But his real knowledge upon the subject was nothing to that which he thought he possessed; and, though a stout little fellow, of course he lacked the muscle of steel that is required to master an enraged horse. But he had never hesitated to ride any steed in all that neighborhood, with the single exception of one of a pair of extremely beautiful but vicious mares, which on account of her color was named "Chestnut Bess."
This horse was as wild and untamed as the famous steed of Mazeppa, and even Henry Glazier, master-horseman though he was, seldom attempted to use this one, except in harness with her mate. The knowledge of this fact excited an overweening desire in Willard's breast to show them what he could do in the way of taming the hitherto untamed creature, and never having been unhorsed in his life, he determined, upon the first favorable opportunity, to try his powers upon the vicious animal. That opportunity was not long in coming. One summer morning it was arranged that Willard should go over to his grandfather's and aid in the cultivation of a large corn-field on the Homestead Farm. Willard made up his mind that, if he went, he would go in style on the back of "Chestnut Bess." He wanted to show his Uncle Henry and the others what the "little runt" was capable of accomplishing as an equestrian. Accordingly, he placed a good strong bridle upon the mare's head, gave an extra pull at the saddle-girth to assure himself there was no possibility of that failing him, and, taking a hoe, which he wished to use in his work on the farm, in his right hand, he led the mare quietly down the path, out through the gate, and into the road. Gathering the reins in his left hand, without giving her time to conjecture his object—for mounting her was no easy task—he jumped lightly into the saddle, and screwed his knees into her sides with all his might.
Now, this mare was not one of those ordinary quadrupeds possessing a single vice, which the rider may learn and master. She was an animal of infinite resources. Her modes of attack were innumerable. It is true she rather preferred to settle matters upon the very threshold of the contest in a short, sharp way, by kicking her man before he could mount. But, if baffled in this design, she would vary the proceedings by dashing her head down between her knees, sending her heels up in the air, and, if possible, plunge the rider over her head to the ground; or, she would waltz round on her hind legs in such a way as to render the best balanced brain somewhat dizzy and uncertain; in the event of the failure of these coquettish pleasantries, she had not a single scruple against playing Shylock, and taking her pound of flesh out of his leg with her teeth. Thus, you see, it would not do to go to sleep upon her back; and Master Willard Glazier no sooner found himself firmly seated than he made up his mind that for the time, at least, he had his hands full of business. As the mare had been deprived of an opportunity to kick him, by the suddenness with which he sprang upon her back, she concluded to try her next favorite line of strategy and shake him off. So down went her head and up went her heels, and, had he been less on the alert, he must have gone to earth; but, with his knees dug into her sides as if they were the opposite jaws of a vice, for every jerk of her head down he gave one with the reins up, and at each jerk the hoe-handle gave her a rap over the ears, so that she began to find the fun less agreeable than usual. Changing her tactics, with a bound she proceeded to execute a fine imitation of the "German," and spin round like a Fifth Avenue belle or a humming-top. But the boy's young, clear, temperate brain and well-disciplined nerves were proof even against this style of attack, and still firm in his seat, he belabored the brute with his hoe with such a perfect rain of blows that she gave up her prancing and dashed down the road at a break-neck pace. For perhaps five hundred yards the road led down hill, and then, crossing a stream, ascended again, the ascent being quite steep and by no means smooth.
While upon the descent, it was all Willard could do to hold on, for he was encumbered with the hoe, which at every jump of the mare struck the top of her head, until she absolutely flew. The few pedestrians upon the road that morning stopped in amazement to stare after the mad flight of horse and rider.
As soon as the bridge was crossed and they commenced the abrupt rise, "Chestnut Bess" began to slacken her pace, but the young gentleman, who by this time considered himself her master, would not agree to this. He proposed to give her a lesson, so he administered a good thrashing with his novel style of whip and compelled her to keep her pace all the way to the top of the hill, where horse and rider at length arrived in safety. From that point to the Old Homestead the mare was perfectly willing to jog along quietly, and when they reached the farm you may be sure that the "spirit" of one "mortal" at least was "proud," as he related to his wondering kinsman how he had taken the mischief out of the chestnut mare.
The boy rose immeasurably in his uncle Henry's estimation by this feat, and all were delighted with his pluck, though Jabez Glazier, his grandfather, with his greater experience, warned him not to trust the beast too far, for, according to his belief, her eye had danger in it yet. When the day of work was ended, Willard once more mounted upon "Chestnut Bess" and rode towards home. For a short time the mare trotted quietly along, and the boy was more than ever convinced that he had broken her of her tricks.
This agreeable belief however was of short duration. The thought had hardly entered his head when she commenced her antics again. Her heels went skyward and her nose went down, and a repetition of the morning's performances succeeded.
There was quite as much vigor and pertinacity in her movements as if she were just starting out for the day. This time Willard had provided himself with a stout beech switch, and used its stinging persuasion with good effect. She danced, she pranced, she waltzed, she made sudden dashes and full stops. She would have rolled in the gravel if the boy's switch had ceased stinging her into motives for action, but she could not shake him off. He clung to her back like a little leech, and it began to look as if human will-power was going to conquer brute stubbornness, when suddenly a new idea seemed to enter the animal's head. Without a moment's warning, and utterly scorning the control of the bit which she had taken in her teeth, she swung round and at full gallop made straight for the Homestead farm from which she had so lately come. The farm-yard gate was wide open and she dashed in, making directly for the wagon-shed at the extreme end of the place, which was now empty. This shed, the top of which was supported by a cross-beam, was only just high enough to permit a wagon to be sheltered there, and if the horse got in, Willard saw at a glance that she would be obliged to lower her head to do so, and that in the course of her entry he must inevitably strike the beam and perhaps be instantly killed or swept off her back upon a pile of rocks that on either side walled the entrance to the shed.
His heart for once failed him, for there seemed no earthly hope of escape. There was no time to spring off, even if the speed at which he was going would have permitted him to do so, for in a shorter time than it has taken to describe the scene, the shed was reached, bang went the mare's head against the opposite end, and at the same instant Willard felt a dull thud against his person, realized the fact that he was being thrown into the air, and then came darkness and unconsciousness. He was dashed violently upon the stones, and when picked up his body was found to be much lacerated and bruised.
Fortunately, however, no bones were broken, though he was obliged to keep his bed for some days afterwards. No doubt while lying there during slow convalescence he mused upon the vicissitudes attendant upon the career of a horse-tamer. At all events from this time he became much steadier and more prudent,—the wild adventures of his earlier boyhood having entirely lost their attraction for him.
THE YOUNG TRAPPER OF THE OSWEGATCHIE.
A plan of life.—Determination to procure an education.—A substitute at the plow.—His father acquiesces in his determination to become a trapper.—Life in the wild woods along the Oswegatchie.—The six "dead-falls."—First success.—A fallacious calculation.—The goal attained.—Seventy-five dollars in hard cash!—Four terms of academic life.—The youthful rivals.—Lessons in elocution.—A fight with hair-brushes and chairs!—"The walking ghost of a kitchen fire."—Renewed friendship.—Teaching to obtain means for an education.
At this period of Willard's life, he is described by Mr. Rennehan as having acquired an appetite for the acquisition of knowledge which soon became the controlling passion of his nature, and, "thoroughly absorbed by this idea, he fixed upon the select school of his native town as the institution best adapted to initiate him in the course suited to the fulfilment of his laudable ambition."
But his determination to procure an education met with obstacles from the outset. How to defray the necessary expenses which such a course involved was the question which continually presented itself for his ingenuity to solve. His father's reverses placed it quite beyond the possibilities to hire help upon the farm, and Willard's services had therefore come to be looked upon as something of vital importance.
In dragging from the hard soil of the Davis place the living which necessity compelled, he performed the work of a man, and the perfect trust which his father reposed in him gave his services additional value.
This fact increased the difficulty of his position; but though he made it a point to husband all his spare time for self-instruction, he was far from satisfied with the existing state of affairs, and pondered long and earnestly over the best means of securing the advantages of regular instruction.
At that time the streams tributary to the St. Lawrence were supplied with such fur-bearing animals as the mink, the musk-rat, the otter, and the more humble rabbit, the skins of all of which were more or less valuable and were sought by professional trappers. These men found the business a reasonably lucrative one, and it commended itself especially to Willard, as health and strength were the only capital required. The grand difficulty was how to supply his place in the work of the farm. His father was a man who always listened with patience and sympathy to any scheme that promised to benefit his children. His son, therefore, had no hesitation in laying the whole matter before him and seeking his advice upon the subject. He felt, of course, that any proposal to withdraw his personal labor from the common stock of exertion by which the cultivation of the farm was rendered a possibility, was a direct pecuniary tax upon his father's resources; but he believed he could to a great extent neutralize the injury by supplying a substitute.
He also felt assured that although the step he proposed to take might be a present loss to the family it would prove an ultimate gain. He was thoroughly determined to make his life a success, and he was just as thoroughly determined that any success which might crown his efforts should be shared by his parents. It is true that the road looked long and the path rough, but he had a "heart for any fate," and his courage never failed. A substitute at the plow he knew he could obtain for a small sum, and the board of such a person would take the place of his own at the home table, and he never doubted that he could earn a sufficient surplus to pay the wages of such an assistant. At all events he made up his mind to try the experiment.
With young Willard, to think was to act, and this project was no sooner conceived than he proceeded to put it into execution. He laid his plans frankly before his father, who, to his great gratification, assented to his proposal. A man was hired for fifteen dollars a month to take Willard's place on the farm, and the latter made his first venture as a trapper.
His initial experiment was to set six traps of the pattern called a "dead-fall" or "figure of four," and this resulted in the capture of two minks worth about eight dollars. With what an exultant heart he drew out his first mink and realized that by his own unaided exertions he had made some money, no boy or man need be told. He at once, however, entered into some rather fallacious calculations and built some extremely airy castles. It occurred to him that if out of six traps he could obtain two skins, out of one hundred he could obtain thirty-three, and so on, in proportion.
This, however, proved to be a miscalculation, it not being so much the number of traps set, as the quantity of game in a given locality which regulates the amount of success for a trapper. Yet his efforts in this new business succeeded to a gratifying degree, and the fact of having exchanged the dull monotony of farm drudgery for the exhilarating excitement of a hunter's life, was in itself a sufficient reward for any amount of exertion. Indeed what mode of life could be happier or more free, for a healthy, strong-limbed youth of fifteen, than to live as he then did, almost entirely in the woods? Then too, his daily route lay in the midst of some of the finest scenery to be found anywhere in New York, even in that grand old county of St. Lawrence.
To a lover of nature nothing could be more alluring than the locality through which Willard, at that period of his life, trapped and hunted. To follow the winding waters of the Oswegatchie is to enjoy a perpetual feast. That river is one of a great family of rivers, among which may be enumerated the Rackett, the Grasse, the Indian, and the Black, all of which take their rise far up in the recesses of the great North Woods. Though not to any extent navigable, it is yet nearly as broad as the lovely and "blue Juniata" of "peaceful Pennsylvania."
At times turbulent and brawling, it is often vexed in its passage to the St. Lawrence by rapids and cataracts varying in height and volume, but which in their infinite variety give a wild and romantic beauty to this poetical stream. At times it glides smoothly along through low meadow lands, and again it plunges into some dense thicket or brawls through some briery dell where the foliage is so thick that one can only see the glint and ripple of its waters at rare intervals, shining between the lapping leaves and tangled vines. Then again it sweeps onward through cleft rocks and jutting banks until, lost at last in the very heart of the primeval forest, its twilight waters reflect the images of giant trees which had their beginning on its banks a century ago.
Willard's life during that autumn passed in persevering work. Day by day he traveled his accustomed routes, while the leaves turned from green to red and from red to russet and brown, and at last fell from the naked branches of the forest trees with a little farewell rustle, to be trodden into the rich soil below.
By the time the first snow came he found himself much more robust physically, and with seventy-five dollars clear profit in his pocket. In addition to these advantages he also acquired the inestimable habit of self-reliance, so that when he entered upon a course of preparation for his academic life, it was with full faith in himself. For four terms, beginning August thirteenth, 1857, and ending the latter part of June, 1859, he remained at the excellent institution of learning which he had selected, and while there gained considerable credit as a hard student.
During the first of these terms a generous rivalry existed between himself and a youth by the name of Albert Burt, as to which should lead the class. As it turned out, however, they kept together and were both marked "perfect." The academy was under the management of the Rev. E. C. Bruce, M. A., Principal; and Andrew Roe, Professor of Mathematics. About a month or six weeks after he entered the school, he arranged to take lessons in elocution under a Professor Bronson, that gentleman having organized a large class at the academy.
In a brief diary kept by him at the time, we find the remark that he was "greatly pleased with the Professor's method of teaching that important branch of study." Willard had advanced to the higher grade of Algebra and Grammar, had added Philosophy to the list of his studies, and having cultivated a natural turn for public speaking, was elected on the eighteenth of December, 1857, a member of the Oratorical Society—an association connected with the institution. His boy experiences were very similar to those which happen to all lads in academic life. He had his chums, among whom were Brayton Abbott and Ozias Johnson; he had his little flirtations with misses of his own age, and he had his fights, as all boys have.
Among the latter was one with Johnson, who was his room-mate, and who, being four years older than himself, undertook, for fun, to rub his face with a newly-purchased hair-brush. This kind of fun did not suit Willard, however, and he resented it by giving Johnson a "dig" in the ribs. Whereupon a fight ensued in earnest, and as Willard was too young and light to keep up the contest at close quarters, he dodged his adversary and covered his retreat by dropping chairs in front of Johnson's legs, which brought that young gentleman to the floor more than once, to his own intense disgust and Willard's great gratification. At length Johnson managed to corner his opponent, and then rubbed his face so thoroughly with the bristles that his comrades that morning thought he had caught the scarlet-fever, or as Dickens says, that he was the "walking ghost of a kitchen fire."
As generally happens, however, between two manly fellows, their combat inspired a feeling of mutual respect, and from being mere acquaintances they grew to be fast friends.
Study and sedentary habits at length so much impaired Willard's health that, in the latter part of the month of August, 1858, he was compelled to cease his attendance at school and go home. The thirtieth of September following, however, found him at the Teachers' Institute of St. Lawrence County, with the proceedings of which body he appears to have been highly gratified, for in the diary to which we have already referred, he speaks of it in these words:—
"I am now attending the Teachers' Institute of this county, which is in session at Gouverneur, it having opened upon the twenty-seventh instant. The School Commissioners are Mr. C. C. Church and Allen Wight. I am highly pleased with the proceedings and the method of conducting the exercises of this apparently indispensable part of a Teacher's instruction,"—adding that it was his "intention to become a teacher the coming winter." Indeed, to be a teacher seems to have been his favorite scheme of life, and his highest ambition was ultimately to fill the chair of Mathematics in one of the great institutions of learning. That most exact of sciences was his favorite branch of study, and the intellectual stimulus which it imparts had for him a peculiar fascination.
In pursuance of his object, and in order, by teaching during one part of the year, to raise means to enable him to attend school during another portion, he set about procuring for himself a school. Fortunately for the accomplishment of his object, it was suggested to him to apply to the School Commissioner of his own Assembly district, and he did so. The examination which followed his application, owing to some local rivalry, was extremely rigid; but he passed through it with great credit and received the appointment he desired, being assigned forthwith to duty in the town of Edwards, St. Lawrence County. He commenced teaching in the bleak month of November, 1858, and was very earnest in fulfilling the duties of his position, taking every opportunity not only of instilling knowledge into the minds of his pupils, but also striving to imbue them with a love of self-culture. He labored hard in his efforts to earn means with which to support himself during the coming summer at the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary, and discovered while thus working that teaching was as much of a discipline for himself as for his pupils.
The time does not seem to have passed unpleasantly to him at this period of his career, for in an entry made in his diary on the twenty-eighth of November, 1858, he says:
"I am spending the evening with Mr. Hiram Harris and family, having come into the district this afternoon. My mission here is to teach school for a term of three months in fulfilment of the contract existing between the trustees and myself. In compliance with a custom that prevails, I am expected to 'board around,' as it is styled, and Mr. Harris, being one of the Trustees, has invited me to spend my first week at his house.
"The School Commissioner of this Assembly district is Mr. C. C. Church, of Potsdam, from whom I received a certificate based upon the recommendation of Commissioner Allen Wight of the first district. The School Trustees are E. L. Beardsley, Hiram Harris, and Jeptha Clark. The present term will be my first experience in the profession I have adopted. I do hope it will prove a useful one, for I am of opinion that a teacher's first experience is apt to give color to his whole future career." The day after this entry he adds that "only a small attendance greeted me upon opening my school," and after consoling himself with the reflection that this will leave him plenty of time for study, he adopted a single rule—"Do right;" and an additional motto, "A time and place for everything and everything in its time and place."
It will thus be seen that he had already acquired a clear idea of the importance of order in every pursuit, and knew that method gives to an ordinary mortal Briaerean arms with which to accomplish whatever he may desire to do. How few attain to this knowledge until it is too late!
As a writer, whose words we think worthy of remembrance, has said:
"This is an era of doing things scientifically. People make scientific calculations of the weather, and the average number of murders for the next year. They measure the stars and they measure the affections, both scientifically. The only thing they fail to do scientifically is, to manage themselves. As a rule, they drift, and then find fault with fate and Providence because they don't drift into the right port. They drift into life with a multiplicity of vague dreams, which are somehow to be realized; but they have a very dim idea of ways and means. They drift through it, carelessly, with an inadequate knowledge of their own resources, and a still more inadequate notion of using them to the best advantage; they drift out of it with a melancholy sense of failure, both absolutely as to themselves and relatively as to the world. Of all their splendid possibilities, none are realized. Nothing is completed. They start wrong or they make one fatal step, and everything goes wrong all the way through. It seems as if most lives were only experiments. Now and then one is turned out which fits in its niche and is tolerably symmetrical. The rest are all awry, unfinished, misplaced, and merely faint suggestions of what might have been. Much of this is doubtless beyond mortal control, but a far greater portion is due to the lack of a nice direction of forces. The human mechanism is complicated, and a very slight flaw sets it all wrong. There may be too much steam or too much friction, or too little power or too little balance. But clearly the first step is to strengthen the weak points, to gauge its capabilities, to set it running smoothly, and to give it a definite aim. If existence were simply passive and the mission of man was to be instead of to do, he might perhaps be left to develop as the trees do, according to his own will or fancy or according to certain natural laws. But as it is the universal wish wherever one is, to be somewhere else, a little higher in the scale, it seems to be a part of wisdom, as well as humanity, to fit one for climbing. But many an aspirant finds his wings clipped in the beginning of his career, through the ignorance or carelessness of his friends, who never took the trouble of measuring his capabilities. He is treated as a receptacle into which a certain amount of ideas are to be poured, no matter whether they may answer to anything within him or not. He is turned out of an educational mill with five hundred others, and with plenty of loose knowledge, but without the remotest idea of what to do with it, or what nature intended him for, and with no especial fitness for any one thing. He can think, probably, if he has the requisite amount of brains, but how to establish a relation between thought and bread and butter is the problem. He has the requisite motive power, but it is not attached to anything. He does not know how to attach it, so he revolves in a circle, or makes a series of floundering experiments, that bear meagre fruit, perhaps when the better part of his life is gone. He knows books, but he does not know men. He is a master of theories, but cannot apply them. If he has a small amount of brains, his case is still more hopeless. To be sure, a proper amount of knowledge has been poured in, but it has all slipped through. He might have assimilated some other kind of knowledge, but that particular kind has left him with mental dyspepsia, and a vague feeling of hopelessness which is likely to prove fatal to all useful effort. Or perhaps he has talent, but is destitute of the requisite tact to make it tell upon the world. His success depends largely on his power to move others, but he has no lever and is forced to rely upon main strength, which involves a serious expenditure of vitality, with only doubtful results. He works all his life against perpetual friction, because no one had the foresight or insight to discern that this was the flaw in his machinery.
"Another fatal point is in the choice of a vocation. Having drifted through an education, he next drifts into his business or profession. He rarely stops to take an inventory of his capital, or, at best, he takes a very partial one. Chance or circumstance decides him. His grandfather sits on the judge's bench. He thinks the judge's bench a desirable place, so he takes to the law. He puts on his grandfather's coat without the slightest reference to whether it will fit or not. Perhaps he intends to grow to it, but a willow sapling cannot grow into an oak. It may grow into a very respectable willow, but if it aspires to the higher dignity, it will most likely get crushed or blown over. It may be that he has a grand vision of commercial splendor, and plunges into business life with a very good idea of Sophocles and Horace and no idea whatever of trade; with a very good talent for theories, but none whatever for facts; with some insight into metaphysics, but none at all into people. Instead of trying his strength in shallow waters, he starts to cross the Atlantic in a very small skiff. By the time he has reached mid-ocean he discovers his error, but it is too late to turn back; so he is buffeted about by winds and waves until he, too, goes down and counts among the failures.
"Another of the few points upon which life hinges is marriage, and people drift into that as they do into everything else. It is one of the things to be done in order to complete the circle of human experience. A man is caught by a pretty face and a winning smile. He takes no thought of the new element he is adding to his life, either with reference to his outward career or his inward needs. Caprice governs his choice, or perhaps a hard form of self-interest. Having committed one or two of the grand errors of life, he settles down to its serious business, and speedily discovers that he has a dead weight to carry. He has mistaken his vocation, whatever it may be.
"He is conscious now that it is too late to change; that he might have attained supreme excellence in some other calling. He toils with heavy heart and sinking spirit at the plodding pace of dull mediocrity. His work is drudgery and wearies him body and soul. Those who once smiled upon him pass him by. Men of far inferior capabilities distance him in the race. Perhaps too he has made another misstep, and has a wife who sympathizes neither with his tastes nor his trials: who has no comprehension of him whatever, save that he is a being whose business it is to love her and furnish her with spending money. The beauty which fascinated him has grown faded and insipid. The pretty coquetries that won him pall upon him; he is absolutely alone with the burden of life pressing heavily upon him. Is it strange that he is mastered in the battle and finally falls beneath the world's pitiless tread? This is a sad little picture, but it is an every-day one, and the world goes on its way as before.
"What matters it that a lonely, dissipated man has lain down in sorrow to rise no more! The world cannot stop to weep over the remains of the departed one it has trampled upon. Those whose business it is can take them on one side, lay them away under the green sod out of sight, shed a tear perhaps, and pass on until their turn comes to lay down wearily, go to sleep, and be laid away. The world chides, the world laughs, but it takes no cognizance of the grief—
"'That inward breaks and shows no cause without, Why the man dies.'
"Yet there is but the difference of a point in the game between the victim and the hero. The cards are the same, or the victim, perhaps, may hold the best trumps, but he plays recklessly, loses his point, loses his game, loses all! On such slight things does human destiny hinge. The hero has all his resources at command—his game dimly outlined. He knows his winning cards, and he plays them skilfully.
"Every point tells. Nothing is left to chance that can be accomplished by foresight. He wins the game. He wins the prizes. He has the mastery of life. The world takes off its hat to him. Fortune and people smile upon him. Not that he is better than others—very likely he is not so good. But the world counts results. Becky Sharp is not a model, but Becky Sharp is a power. The world does not like her in the abstract, but it likes her dinners, it courts her smiles, it fawns upon her, it showers its good things upon her, all because she has mastered it. Becky Sharp is not a model. Her aims are unworthy, and her means unscrupulous; but she reads us a lesson in fact, in foresight, in energy, in the subtle art of making the most of limited resources. So long as life is a game, it is worth studying. The difference between playing it well and playing it ill is the difference between light and darkness, between joy and desolation, between life and death."
Even at that early and immature time of his life, Willard Glazier had thought much upon this subject—examples of the disjointed successes of all unplanned and unmethodical careers having been brought too frequently into close proximity to his own door, not to have made an impression upon his inquiring mind.
Hence, at the very threshold of his life as a teacher, he resolved to have plan and purpose clearly defined in everything he did.
THE SOLDIER SCHOOL-MASTER.
From boy to man.—The Lyceum debate.—Willard speaks for the slave.—Entrance to the State Normal School.—Reverses.—Fighting the world again.—Assistance from fair hands.—Willard meets Allen Barringer.—John Brown, and what Willard thought of him.—Principles above bribe.—Examination.—A sleepless night.—Haunted by the "ghost of possible defeat."—"Here is your certificate."—The school at Schodack Centre.—At the "Normal" again.—The Edwards School.—Thirty pupils at two dollars each.—The "soldier school-master."—Teaches at East Schodack.—The runaway ride.—Good-by mittens, robes and whip!—Close of school at East Schodack.
Although a very boy in years, young Glazier felt himself already stepping upon the boundary line of manhood and, luckily for his future welfare, comprehended the manifold dangers and mentally realized the responsibilities which attend that phase of human existence.
Upon the fifth of February, 1857, the dull routine of a teacher's duty was varied by a visit made to Edwards by Willard's uncle Joseph, and his sisters; and, after closing his school, the former went home with his visitors, and thence to a Lyceum which had been established in the Herrick School District, where a debate was in progress as to the relative importance, in a humanitarian point of view, of the bondage of the African race in the Southern States, or the decadence of the Indian tribes under the encroachments of the Whites. The "question" assumed that the Aborigines were most worthy of sympathy; and young Glazier, being invited to participate in the discussion, accepted, and spoke upon the negative side of the question.
He little dreamed upon that winter's night, when, in the small arena of a village debating-club, he stood up as the champion of the slave, that the day was not far distant when he would ride rowel-deep in carnage upon battle-fields which war's sad havoc had made sickening, fighting for the same cause in whose behalf he now so eloquently spoke.
No prophetic vision of what fate held in store for him appeared to the ardent boy, speaking for those who could not rise from the darkness of their bondage to speak for themselves. No glimpse of weary months dragged out in Confederate prisons—of hair-breadth escapes from dangers dread and manifold—of hiding in newly-dug graves made to assist the flight of the living, not to entomb the dead—of lying in jungles and cypress-swamps while fierce men and baffled hounds were panting for his blood—of vicissitudes and perils more like the wild creations of some fevered dream than the plain and unvarnished reality: nothing of all this came before him to trouble his young hopes or cloud his bright anticipations of the future.
He spoke of freedom, and had never seen a slave. He pictured the cruelty of the lash used in a Christian land on Christian woman, be she black or white. He spoke of the deeper wrong of tearing the new-born babe from its mother's breast to sell it by the pound—of dragging the woman herself from the father of her child and compelling her to mate with other men—of the fact that such wrongs were not alone the offspring of cruel hearts, nor of brutal owners, but arose from the mere operation of barbarous laws where masters, if left to themselves, would have been most kind. He spoke of such things as these, and yet he never dreamed that his words were but the precursors of deeds that would make mere words seem spiritless and tame.
Young Glazier spoke well. The little magnates of the place,—the older men, after this, talked of him as of one likely to rise, to become a man of note, and their manner grew more respectful towards the young school-master. His occupations and amusements at this period of his existence, though simple in their character, were considerably varied.
Among other entries in his journal about this date, is one that so commends itself by its brevity and comprehensiveness that I quote it verbatim.
"Having," he says, "received an invitation upon the twenty-fourth of December, I attended a party at the residence of Jeptha Clark, whose excellent wife received me very kindly; upon Christmas day I visited T. L. Turnbull's school at Fullerville; upon Monday last called at Mr. Austin's school in the Herrick District; Tuesday, dropped down for a moment upon the students at Gouverneur; on Wednesday, returned home; and on Thursday, for the greater part of the day, assisted uncle Joseph in hauling wood from the swamps on the Davis Place."
Thus the time slipped rapidly by and his first term of teaching drew to a close. In the spring of 1859 he again became a member of the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary, and in May of that year, made the following characteristic entry in his diary:
"'Order is Heaven's first law.' A time and place for everything, and everything in its time and place, was the rule of conduct I adopted some time ago. In accordance with this determination I have laid out the following routine of occupation for each day. I intend to abide by it during the present term. I will retire at ten o'clock P. M., rise each morning at five o'clock, walk and exercise until six, then return to my room, breakfast and read history until eight, then repeat what the English call a 'constitutional,' viz.: another walk until prayers, devoting the time intervening between prayers and recitation, to Algebra. After recitation, I will study Geometry for three-quarters of an hour, Latin for half an hour, and be ready for recitation again at two o'clock. This will complete my regular course of study, and, by carrying out this routine, I can dine at noon, and also have a considerable amount of time for miscellaneous reading and writing, to say nothing of my Saturdays, upon which I can review the studies of the week."
To this plan young Glazier adhered conscientiously, and hence made rapid progress and very soon found himself in a condition to take another forward step in the pathway of learning. That step was the entrance to the State Normal School at Albany. To go to West Point and receive the military training which our government benevolently bestows upon her sons at that institution, had been his pet ambition for years—the scheme towards which all his energies were bent. But failing in this, his next choice was the Normal School. Accordingly, on a certain September afternoon in 1859, he found himself in the capital city of the Empire State, knocking for admission at the doors of the Normal School. He was alone and among strangers in a great city, with a purse containing the sum of eight dollars! For a course of seven or eight months instruction this was certainly a modest estimate of expenses! In fact, young Glazier had based his financial arrangements on a miscalculation of the amount furnished by the State. He did not then know that the only provision made by the body politic was for mileage, tuition and text-books. But on Monday morning, September seventeenth, 1859, he signed his name to the Normal pledge, and at the conclusion of the examination—which continued until September twenty-third—was assigned to the Junior Class—there being at that time four classes: the Senior and sub-Senior, Junior and sub-Junior.
The next step was to find lodgings at a weekly or monthly price more suited to his means than those which he had temporarily taken at the Adams House on his arrival there the previous evening. Always frugal in regard to his personal expenditures, he knew that, in order to eke out the full term with his scanty resources, he must carry his habitual thrift to its fullest extent. He therefore scoured the town for apartments, aided by references from Professor Cochran, principal of the Normal, and finally obtained a room on Lydius street, almost within shadow of the Cathedral, and at the certainly reasonable rate of "six shillings per week." This room he shared with Alexander S. Hunter, from Schoharie County, and a member of the sub-Senior Class. For several weeks the young students boarded at this place, buying what food they required, which the landlady cooked for them free of charge. Seventy-five cents a week paid for their cooking and rent!
But even this small outlay soon exhausted the meagre resources of young Glazier and, at the end of the time mentioned, he went over into Rensselaer County, to look up a school, in order to replenish his well-nigh empty purse, and to enable him to continue in his efforts to acquire an education. It was a bright clear morning in November when he left his boarding-place on Lydius street in quest of his self-appointed work, and, crossing the Hudson on a ferry-boat, walked all the way to Nassau by the Bloomingdale Road—a distance of sixteen miles. His object was to find Allen Barringer, School Commissioner for Rensselaer County, who, as he had been told, lived somewhere near Nassau. On the way to that village he passed two or three schools, concerning which he made inquiries, with a view to engaging some one of them on his return to Albany should he be so successful as to obtain a certificate from Mr. Barringer. At about two o'clock in the afternoon of this, to him, eventful day, young Glazier had arrived at the residence of Harmon Payne, near East Schodack, or "Scott's Corners," as it was sometimes called. He had been referred to this gentleman as one likely to assist him in his endeavors to obtain a school. He had eaten nothing since morning, and, having walked a distance of nearly sixteen miles, as may be imagined, was somewhat faint and hungry. But the good wife of Mr. Payne showed herself not lacking in the kindly courtesy belonging to a gentlewoman, and, with true hospitality, placed before the young Normal student a delicious repast of bread and honey.
To this youthful wayfarer, with a purse reduced to a cypher, and struggling over the first rough places in the pathway of life, the simple meal was like manna in the wilderness. After chatting pleasantly with the family for an hour or more, he started again on his journey. But this time not alone; for Mr. Payne very kindly sent his niece with the boy teacher, in whom he had become so much interested, to show him a shorter route "across lots" to East Schodack. This village, two miles farther on, by the traveled highway, was only three-quarters of a mile distant by a pathway leading across the pasture lands of some adjoining farms. In the fading November afternoon the young lady and her protege walked together to East Schodack—a walk which young Willard never forgot, and out of which afterwards grew a fairy fabric of romantic regard glittering with all the rainbow hues of boyish sentiment, and falling collapsed in the after-crash of life, like many another soap-bubble experience of first young days.
But he did not succeed, at that time, in securing the East Schodack School, as he had hoped to do. Nothing daunted, however, he trod reverses under foot and pushed on towards the residence of the School Commissioner whose ipse dixit was to award him success or failure.
Allen Barringer lived one mile from the village of Nassau, in Rensselaer County, and it was nearly nightfall when, with an anxious heart and weary with the day's journey, he knocked at the door of the comfortable country residence which had been pointed out to him as the one belonging to the School Commissioner. That gentleman himself came to the door in answer to his knock, and upon Willard's inquiry for Mr. Barringer replied:
"I am Mr. Barringer, sir; what can I do for you?"
His manner was so pleasant and his face so genial that young Glazier, at once reassured, had no difficulty in making known his business.
"I have come out here from Albany," said he, "to see if I could pass examination for a certificate, to teach in your district."
"Well, come in, come in," said Mr. Barringer, cordially, "and I will see what I can do for you. You are not going back to Albany to-night?" he asked.
"No, I shall not be able to do so," replied Willard.
"Have you friends or relatives here with whom you intend to stay?"
"Then I shall be glad to have you stop with us to-night. I am a young man like yourself, living at home here with my parents, as you see; I am fond of company, and will be happy to place my room at your disposal. And as there will be no hurry about the examination, we will talk more about it after supper."
Young Glazier thanked his host for the kind proffer of entertainment, and of course acquiesced in the arrangement.
Accordingly, after the physical man had been refreshed at a well-spread supper-table, Mr. Barringer conducted his young guest to his own apartments, where they drew their easy-chairs before a comfortable fire, and entered into conversation.
"I am considerably interested in politics just now," said Mr. Barringer, and then he asked abruptly, "what is your opinion of John Brown?"
At this time the first red flash of the war that swiftly followed, had glowered athwart the political horizon, in the John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry, and against this lurid background the figure of the stern old man stood out in strong relief. It was at the period when, shut up in prison, he was writing those heroic words to his wife, those loving words of farewell to his children; when petitions poured in pleading for his life—though they were petitions all in vain—and when, naturally, partisan feeling on the subject was at its height. Willard felt that in expressing his candid convictions he might be treading on dangerous ground, and perhaps endangering his chances for success, yet he held principle so high, and honest sentiment so far above bribe, that if his certificate had depended on it he would not have hesitated to express his admiration for the brave old man who laid down his life for the slave, and whose name has since been crowned with the immortelles of fame. Therefore Willard replied with a frankness worthy of emulation that he looked upon John Brown as a conscientious, earnest, devoted man—a man whose face was firmly set in the path of duty though that path led to imprisonment and the gallows; a man much in advance of his time—one of the pioneers of free thought, suffering for the sacred cause, as pioneers in all great movements always suffer. He spoke with a modest fearlessness known sometimes to youth and to few men. Mr. Barringer replied that, though he held different views, he could not but admire Willard's frankness in avowing his own political convictions, and that this independence in principle would in nowise detract from his previously formed good opinion of him. Afterwards, Mr. Barringer examined him in the common English branches of study, besides astronomy, philosophy and algebra—studies usually taught in the public schools of Rensselaer County. In this way, with much pleasant talk dropped at intervals through the official business of examination, interspersed with politics and concluded with social chat, an agreeable evening passed.
Mr. Barringer at last said good-night to the young Normal student, with the remark that he would see what could be done for him in the morning.
Not much sleep visited Willard's eyes that night, with the ghost of possible defeat haunting his wakeful senses, stretched to their utmost tension of anxiety.
Would he, or would he not, receive in the morning the certificate he sought? This was the thought tossed continually up on the topmost wave of his consciousness all the night long. Morning dawned at last, much to his relief. When Mr. Barringer came to his door to announce breakfast, he handed Willard the coveted piece of paper.
"Now then," said he, cheerily, "here is your certificate, and as I am going to drive over to Albany after breakfast, if you have no particular school in view, I shall be glad to have you ride with me as far as Schodack Centre, where I have some very good friends, and will introduce you to the trustees of the district, Messrs. Brockway, Hover and Knickerbocker."
Accordingly they drove over to the residence of Milton Knickerbocker, school trustee of District No. 7, of the town of Schodack.
That gentleman thanked the School Commissioner for bringing the young teacher over, said that he would be pleased to engage him, and that it was only necessary to see another trustee, George Brockway, to make the engagement final. Mr. Knickerbocker then accompanied young Glazier to the residence of Mr. Brockway, where arrangements were made for him to teach the school at Schodack Centre. He then walked back to Albany.
Willard had said nothing to his landlady, on Lydius street, concerning his intended absence, fearing he might have to report the failure of his project, and on the evening of his return to Albany—having been away for thirty-six hours—was surprised to find that the family were just about to advertise him in the city papers, thinking some strange fate had befallen him,—that he had perhaps committed suicide.
In just one week from the time Glazier engaged his school at Schodack Centre, he returned to that place, and taught the young Schodackers successfully through the specified term, after which he went to Albany and passed the next Normal School term. On the twelfth of July following, he left Albany for the home farm, where he worked until the first of September. He then went on a prospecting tour out to Edwards, near the field of his former efforts, and canvassed for scholars at two dollars each, for a term of eight weeks. His object was to teach during the fall and winter months and return to Albany in the spring. This energetic youth of eighteen succeeded in obtaining about thirty pupils, among whom were six teachers—one of them having taught four terms.
Among the incidents of his school experience at this time may be mentioned the fact of a series of drill tactics, originated by himself, with which he practised his pupils so thoroughly that they were enabled to go through all the regular evolutions set down in Hardee. Yet he had never seen the drill-book.
It may be regarded as one of those outcroppings of his natural bent towards the military art which he displayed from his very infancy; for true military genius, like true poetical genius, is born, not made. Of course our young tactician soon made himself known, and throughout the district he was distinguished by the title of the "Soldier-Schoolmaster."
It was an involuntary tribute yielded by public sentiment to the boy who afterwards became the "Soldier-Author."
This boy-teacher, young as he was, marshaled all his pupils into disciplined order, like the rank and file of the army, and somehow held natural words of command at his disposal whereby he wielded the human material given into his charge, as a general might wield the forces under his command. The school was his miniature world and he was its master—his diminutive kingdom wherein he was king; and within the boundary of this chosen realm his sway was absolute.
First the "Soldier-Schoolmaster," drilling his boy-pupils; then the Soldier of the Saddle, riding through shot and shell and war's fierce din on Virginia's historic fields; and last, but perhaps not least, the "Soldier-Author," winning golden opinions from press and people; through all these changes of his life, from boy to man, one characteristic shows plain and clear—his military bent. It is like the one bright stripe through a neutral ground, the one vein of ore deposit through the various stratifications of its native rock.
The Edwards Select School was continued until the first of November, when Glazier left home once more, this time in company with his sister Marjorie, bound for Troy. On arriving at that city he left his sister at the house of an old friend, Alexander McCoy, and went down into Rensselaer County a second time in search of a school, or rather two schools—one for his sister as well as one for himself. He succeeded in obtaining both of them on the same day, and went back to Troy that night. His own district was East Schodack, near Schodack Centre, where he had previously taught, and his sister secured the school two miles north of the village of Castleton and six miles distant from Albany.
The little school-house near Castleton, where his sister taught, was located in a lovely spot on a height overlooking the Hudson and commanding a fine view of the river and the surrounding scenery.
During the school term in their respective districts, it was Willard Glazier's habit to visit his sister once a week, on Saturday or Sunday, and on several occasions a gentleman living at East Schodack, William Westfall by name, who owned a fine horse and sleigh, loaned him the use of his conveyance to drive to Castleton and return. The sleigh was provided with warm robes of fur and the horse was beyond doubt spirited, and a handsome specimen of the genus horse. But as we cannot look for absolute perfection in anything pertaining to earth, it may be stated that this animal was no exception to the universal rule. He had his fault, as young Glazier discovered—a disagreeable habit of running away every time he saw a train of cars. Perhaps the horse couldn't help it; it was no doubt an inherited disposition, descended to him through long lines of fractious ancestors, and therefore it need not be set down against him in the catalogue of wilful sins. But whether so or otherwise, this little unpleasantness in his disposition was an established fact, and unfortunately there were two railroads to cross between East Schodack and Castleton. On Glazier's first ride to Castleton with the Westfall horse and sleigh, he had just crossed the Boston and Albany Railroad when a freight-train rolled heavily by, which put the horse under excellent headway, and on reaching the Hudson River Railroad—the two tracks running very near each other—a passenger train came up behind him. This completed the aggregation of causes, and away flew the horse down the road to Castleton at break-neck speed. Fences disappeared like gray streaks in the distance; roadside cottages came in view and were swiftly left behind in the track of the foam-flecked animal. All that Glazier could do was to keep him in the road, until at length an old shed by the roadside served his purpose, and running him into it, the horse, puffing and snorting, was obliged to stop. On his return to East Schodack, Mr. Westfall asked him how he liked the horse. He replied that he thought the animal a splendid traveler. He did think so, beyond question.
The next Sunday young Glazier was driving again to Castleton with the same stylish turn-out; this time with his sister Marjorie in the sleigh. She had come up to East Schodack the evening before, and he was taking her back to her school. The sleighing was excellent, the day fine, and all went merry as a marriage bell until they reached the railroad. There the inevitable train of cars loomed in view, and the puff, puff of the engine, sending out great volumes of steam and its wild screech at the crossing, completely upset what few ideas of propriety and steady travel this horse may have had in his poor, bewildered head, and, with a leap and a jerk, he was once more running away on the Castleton Road as if the entire host of the nether regions were let loose after him.
For a little while he made things around them as lively as a pot of yeast. Away went whip, robes, mittens and everything else lying loose in the bottom of the sleigh at all calculated to yield to the velocity of a whirlwind or a runaway. But Glazier proved himself master of the situation in this as in many another event of his life, and with one hand holding his frightened sister from jumping out of the sleigh, with the other he twisted the lines firmly around his wrist and kept the horse in the road, until, at the distance of three-quarters of a mile beyond Castleton, he brought the infuriated animal to a stand-still by running him against the side of a barn. Afterwards he drove leisurely back and picked up the robes, and whip and articles spilled during the wild runaway ride.
A broken shaft was the only result of this last adventure, which Glazier of course, put in repair before his return to East Schodack. Mr. Westfall never knew until after the close of the school term that his horse had afforded the young teacher an opportunity to tell what he knew about runaways.
The school at East Schodack closed with an exhibition exceedingly creditable to the efforts of the teacher, at which Mr. Allen Barringer was present, and in a speech before the school complimented young Glazier in the highest terms. The programme of exercises was an excellent one, and was made up of original addresses, declamations, recitations and music. After the close of the school, Mr. Barringer presented Glazier with a certificate which entitled him to teach for three years, and also gave him in addition the following letter of recommendation—a tribute of which any young teacher might be justly proud, and which he carefully preserved:
"To Whom it May Concern:
"This is to certify, that I am well acquainted with Willard Glazier, he having taught school during the winters of 1859 and '60 in my Commission District. I consider him one of the most promising young teachers of my acquaintance. The school that has the good fortune to secure his services will find him one of the most capable and efficient teachers of the day.
"School Commissioner, Rensselaer County.
"Schodack, New York, 1860."
Early in the year 1860 he resumed his studies at the State Normal School, and remained at that institution until the guns of Sumter sounded their war-cry through the land.
This period was the great turning-point in Willard Glazier's life, and hereafter we encounter him in a far different role.
INTRODUCTION TO MILITARY LIFE.
The mutterings of war.—Enlistment.—At Camp Howe.—First experience as a soldier.—"One step to the front!"—Beyond Washington.—On guard.—Promotion.—Recruiting service.—The deserted home on Arlington Heights.—"How shall I behave in the coming battle?"—The brave Bayard.—On the march.—The stratagem at Falmouth Heights.—A brilliant charge.—After the battle.
The inevitable results of the discord so long pending between North and South accumulated day by day; and when, at length, Abraham Lincoln was elected by a large popular majority, that election was, as everybody knows, immediately followed by the calling of a Southern States Convention, the secession, one after another, of each of those States, the capture of Fort Sumter, the killing of Ellsworth, and the defeat of the Federal troops at Bull Run. All of these occurrences contributed to inflame the passions, intensify the opinions, and arouse the enthusiasm of the people of both sections to fever-heat.
It was in the whirl and torrent of this popular storm that Willard Glazier was caught up and swept into the ranks of the Union army.
His regiment, the Harris Light Cavalry, was originally intended for the regular service—to rank as the Seventh Regular Cavalry. The general government, however, concluded to limit the number of their regiments of horse to six—the reasons for which are given by Captain Glazier in his "Soldiers of the Saddle," as follows:
"Under the military regime of General Scott, the cavalry arm of the service had been almost entirely overlooked. His previous campaigns in Mexico, which consisted chiefly of the investment of walled towns and of assaults on fortresses, had not been favorable to extensive cavalry operations, and he was not disposed, at so advanced an age in life, materially to change his tactics of war."
Hence, this regiment was mustered into service as the "Second Regiment of New York Cavalry," and, as Senator Ira Harris had extended to the organization the influence of his name and purse, it soon came to be called the "Harris Light Cavalry," and retained that title throughout the whole of its eventful career. The natural tastes of young Glazier led him into this branch of the service in preference to the infantry, and we find him writing to his sister Marjorie as follows:
Camp Howe, near Scarsdale, New York, August 16th, 1861.
My Dear Sister: From the post-mark of this letter you will at once conjecture the truth ere I tell it to you, and I can fancy you saying to yourself when you glance at it: "Willard is no longer talking about enlisting but has really entered the army." You are right, I now wear the Union Blue.
Many of our home friends will doubtless wonder why I have sacrificed my professional prospects at a time when they first began to look cheering, in order to share the hardships and perils of a soldier's life. But I need not explain, to you, my reasons for doing so. When our country is threatened with destruction by base and designing men, in order to gratify personal ambition and love of sway, it becomes her sons to go to her rescue and avert the impending ruin. The rebelling South has yet to learn the difference between the true principles of the Constitution and the delusion of "State rights." It is as easy to die a volunteer as a drafted soldier, and in my opinion, is infinitely more honorable. I shall return to my studies as soon as the Rebellion is put down and the authority of our Government fully restored, and not until then.