Hyacinths also are pleasant to sight and smell in warm, cheerful rooms when fast without fall drifting snows. It is the happiness of education, of association, of possession, that such plants afford. They are endeared inversely to their number, it may be—the solitary shrub being as the one ewe lamb. This joy in flowers differing thus materially from my pleasure in their artistic elements.
Ah! when shall I stop? The civil public will be wearied out ere long, and so much has been left unsaid on my inexhaustible theme! When was a lover ever known to tire—himself? A lover! Here conscience has a word of reproach, 'Thou a lover, so unjust in thy self-conceit? Bringing down thy goddesses to be in truth very idols, the work of thy own hands—prating presumptuously of thy power over their immortal glories!'
Verily, I am to blame, but how repair the error?
Can eloquence be mine to fitly tell of the mighty influence of the flowers? Shall I say that, without their 'laughing light,' this world would be a dreary, lonesome place? It is a trite and tedious exclamation—an axiom past disputing.
Shall I join in the grateful song resounding over every land; in homage to the blessing-laden blossoms? Lips long used to wailing swell that chorus loudest, for it was the sunshine caught in buttercup or dandelion that turned so many darkened faces in sudden smiles to heaven. Ah! they are the forms wasted and bowed down by anguish, that stoop most meekly, thankfully, only to lie where the daisies can grow over them.
Shall I strive to spell the lesson written by the green earth's flowery tracery?
Long, long ago One read that lore in love, and the lilies of the field but give it back to us to-day.
Here pondering, one thought of awe, yet rapture, thrills through my soul. If to our poor humanity such honeyed drops of healing do earth's frailest flower-cups yield, how cool, how crystal-clear the nectar from amaranth and asphodel distilled for those
'Who walk in soft white light, with kings and priests abroad; Who summer high in bliss upon the hills of God!'
SOUTHERN HATE OF THE NORTH.
A fact which stands broadly out on the page of our current history is the intense and peculiar hatred wherewith the people of the North are generally regarded by those engaged in the Southern rebellion. That it is a fact, is established by the concurrent testimony of the whole insurgent press and of our soldiers returned from Southern captivity, and nearly all those, whether in civil or military life, who have visited the States deeply infected with the virus of Secession. Probably never before were prisoners of war in a civilized country subjected to so much obloquy and vituperation from women and children as our captured volunteers in the South during the past year. Hate of the abhorred 'Yankees,' scorn and the loathing of 'Lincoln's hirelings,' detestation of the mean, sordid, groveling, mercenary spirit of the Northern masses, have been the burden of Southern oratory and journalism for the last eighteen months. No devilish hate expressed in Milton's magnificent epic surpasses in intensity, however it may in dignity and genuine force, that which is breathed through every oracle of Southern popular sentiment. And this is insisted on by Southern letter-writers and journalists as demonstrating the impossibility of 'reconstruction.' 'How can those who hate each other so implacably ever again be one people? What use in seeking to restore a Union which hereafter can, at best, be but the result of overwhelming force on the one side, and utter subjugation on the other?'
But the assumption of mutual hate between the Northern and the Southern masses is utterly groundless. Nothing in the attitude, the bearing, the utterances, of the loyal millions affords it any justification or countenance. So far are they from cherishing any such aversion to the Southern people, that they can with difficulty, and but inadequately, comprehend the malignity wherewith they are regarded by the revolters, without feeling the smallest desire to reciprocate it. That the Rebellion itself should be regarded with general reprobation throughout the Free States was inevitable, for, in the first place, it involves a most flagitious breach of faith. Republican liberty rests on an implied but essential compact that the result of a fair election shall be conclusive. If those who lose an election are thereupon to rush to arms for a reversal of the decision of the ballot-box, then elections are a stupid sham, whereon no earnest person will waste his breath or his suffrage. Why should any one devote his time and effort to secure a political result which those overborne by it will set at defiance the next hour? It is not merely Jefferson or Adams, Jackson or Lincoln, who is defied by a revolt like that now raging in this country; it is the principle of Popular Elections—it is the right of a constitutional majority to govern. Concede that the Southern States were justifiable in seceding from the Union because Lincoln (with their connivance) was chosen President, and it were absurd ever to hold another Presidential Election, or ask any man to vote hereafter. The North certainly feels that the principle of government by constitutions and majorities is assailed by this rebellion, and that to concede its rightfulness is to displace the very corner-stone of republican liberty.
The North feels also that commercial dishonesty was potent among the influences which fomented this rebellion. Bankruptcy almost universal—planters immersed in debt for lands, for negroes, for food, for fabrics—merchants overhead in debt to the importers and jobbers of the Northern sea-ports—every one owing more or less, and few able or willing to pay: such was the general pecuniary condition of the South at the outset of this subversion. It is no libel on the South to say that relief from the pressure of over-due obligations was primarily sought by an immense number, in plunging into the abyss of revolution. And a great proportion of the Southern merchants, with full intent to defraud their creditors, by lighting the flames of civil war, in 1860 swelled their indebtedness to their Northern friends to the utmost. This was low knavery seeking protection behind the black mantle of treason. If the facts could be fully laid bare, it would be found that disinclination to pay their honest debts has transformed vast numbers from Unionists into traitors. The North can never respect those who seek to slay their creditors, that they may evade their moral as well as legal obligation to pay them.
Nor can the loyal millions respect those who, in setting forth the grounds of their rebellion, and essaying to justify themselves in the eyes of the civilized world, do not hesitate to deny the most palpable truths. The rebel who rests on the inherent or reserved right of each State to secede from the Union at her sovereign pleasure, is a bad logician, and unsound in his constitutional theories; but he is not necessarily a knave. But the rebel apologist who says to Europe, 'This revolt was not impelled by Slavery, but by hostility to the policy of Protection, Internal Improvements, etc., which the North had power in the Union to fasten upon us in defiance of our utmost opposition,' he shows himself a dissembler and a liar. There was no tariff when the Cotton States seceded—there had been none for many years—which those States had not heartily aided to enact. For not more than ten years of the eighty-odd of our existence as a nation, has there been a tariff in operation that South-Carolina did not help enact and sustain. The tariffs which are now trumped up as an excuse for Secession, not only had no existence when that Secession was inaugurated, but could have had none had the Cotton States remained faithful to their constitutional obligations. When, therefore, such men as Lieutenant Maury assure Europe that Slavery did not incite the Southern Rebellion—that it had but a remote and subordinate relation to that outbreak—they betray their own recklessness of truth, and their knowledge that their case is one which can not abide the scrutiny and the dispassionate judgment of Christendom.
But the Southern Whites hate us vehemently. That is unfortunately true of what would seem to be a large majority of them. Misled by artful demagogues—excited by charges of Northern rapacity, perfidy, outrage, and venom, to which no contradiction in their hearing is permitted—the Poor Whites of the South really believe that the North is waging against them an unprovoked and fiendish, war of subjugation and rapine. Of course, they abhor us, and invoke all manner of curses on our heads. But their hatred rests upon and is impelled by egregious falsehoods, and will vanish when those falsehoods shall have been exposed and their influence dissipated. The Whisky Rebels of Western Pennsylvania intensely hated the rule of George Washington; but their rebellion being crushed, all trace of the bitterness it engendered soon faded away.
As to the aristocracy of the South, it understands the case far better, though individuals among its members are misled. The majority are fighting for the extension and perpetuation of that Heaven-defying system which is at once the idol and the bane of the South—for that 'peculiar institution' which makes one half the community helpless victims to the pride, indolence, avarice, and lust of the other half. The aristocracy are fighting for Slavery—neither less nor more—and they fight bravely, desperately. Their existence as a privileged order has been recklessly staked on the issue of the contest, and they mean to triumph at any cost. To suppose that they can be vanquished yet leave their bloody idol intact—that they can be compelled to reenter 'the Union as it was,' and send their Slidells, Hammonds, Howell Cobbs, and Masons, back to a Union Congress—is one of the wildest dreams that ever flitted through a sane mind. Reunion or Disunion is possible; a restoration of 'the Union as it was,' is as impracticable as a return of the Eleventh Century or a replacement of the New World in the condition wherein Columbus found it.
The Southern aristocracy must triumph or cease as an aristocracy to exist. A flogged slaveholder is an anomaly that can not endure; he can not rule his chattels if they know that he has succumbed to a force that he would gladly have defied but could no longer resist. 'Poor White trash' may endure and repay the contempt of their servile neighbors, but a man-owning aristocracy that has fought and been vanquished, can no longer command the respect or the obedience of its chattels.
The issue of our present struggle must be Disunion or Emancipation. And, assuming it to be Emancipation, the hate wherewith the North is regarded at the South would soon die out. New social and industrial relations and interests, new activities, new ambitions, would speedily efface all painful recollections of our desperate struggle. The late slaveholders, having ceased to be such, would no longer be controlled by the impulses nor plastic to the influences which impelled them to rush upon the thick bosses of the Union. They would find in the rapid peopling of their section by immigration from the North and from Europe, and the consequent increase in current value of the lands, timber, mines, water-power, etc., of their Section, new avenues to wealth, new incitements to activity and energy. Shays' rebellion engulfed the greater part of Western Massachusetts; but ten years passed, and it had sunk into a mere tradition. La Vendee was more unanimous and more intense in its hostility to the French Republic than any Southern State now is to a restoration of the Union; yet La Vendee soon after responded meekly to the conscriptions of Napoleon. War alienates and inflames; but Peace speedily re-links the golden chain of mutual interests, and all is kindly again.
Let Slavery disappear, and all incitement to alienation or bitterness between the North and the South will have vanished. God has made them for parts of the same country; their diverse topographies, climates, productions, render them the natural complement of each other. The Cotton, Sugar, Tobacco, etc., of the South will be freely exchanged, as of yore, for the Manufactures, Machinery, and Implements of the North: the former gradually learning to supply her own essential wants to an extent hitherto unknown; but the rapid increase of her population, industry, and wealth, will render her a wider and steadier market for the products of the latter and of Europe than she has ever yet been. The South will soon realize that the death of Slavery has awakened her to a new and nobler life—that what she at first regarded as a great calamity and a downfall, was in truth her beneficent renovation and her chief blessing. So shall North and South, at length comprehending and appreciating each other, walk hand in hand along their common pathway to an exalted and benignant destiny, admonished to mutual forbearance and deference by mournful yet proud recollections of their great struggle, and realizing in their newly established and truly fraternal concord the opening of a long, bright vista of reciprocal kindness and inviolable peace.
A MERCHANT'S STORY.
'All of which I saw, and part of which I was.'
It was five years after the events recorded in the previous chapter, when, one day late in October, I started on my annual tour among the Southern correspondents of the mercantile-house of which I was then a member. Arriving at Richmond shortly after noon, I took a hasty meal at the wretched restaurant near the railway-station, and, with a segar in my mouth, seated myself on a trunk in the baggage-car, to proceed on my journey. As the train moved off from the depot, a hand was placed on my arm, and a familiar voice said:
'Lord bless me! Kirke, is this you?'
Looking up, I saw Mr. Robert Preston—or, as he was known among his acquaintance, 'Squire Preston of Jones'—a gentleman whose Northern business I had transacted for several years. He had been on a visit to some Virginia relatives, and was returning to his plantation on the Trent, about twenty miles from Newbern. Though I had never been at his home, he had often visited mine, and we were well—in fact, intimately acquainted. I soon explained that I was on the way to New-Orleans, and mentioned that I might, on my return, find the route to his plantation. He urged me to visit it at once, and I finally consented to do so. We rode on by the cars as far as Goldsboro, and there, after a few hours' rest, and a light breakfast of corn-cake, hominy, and bacon, took seats on the stage, which then was the only public conveyance to Newbern.
Preston was an intelligent, cultivated gentleman, and, at that time, appeared to be about thirty-three years of age. He was tall, athletic, and of decidedly prepossessing appearance; and, though somewhat careless in his dress, had a simple dignity about him that is not furnished by the tailor. The firm lines about his mouth, his strong jaw, wide nostrils, and large nose—straight as if cut after a bevel—indicated a resolute, determined character; but his large, dreamy eyes—placed far apart, as if to give fit proportion to his broad, overhanging brows—showed that his nature was as gentle and tender as a woman's. He spoke with the broad Southern accent, and his utterance was usually slow and hesitating, and his manner quiet and deliberate; but I had seen him when his words came like a torrent of hot lava, when his eyes flashed fire, his thin nostrils opened and shut, and his whole frame seemed infused with the power and the energy of the steam-engine.
Educated for the ministry, in early life he had been a popular preacher in the Baptist denomination, but at the date of which I am writing, he was devoting himself to the care of his plantation, and preached only now and then, when away from home, or when the little church at Trenton was without a pastor. Altogether he was a man to be remarked upon, A stranger casually meeting him, would turn back, and involuntarily ask: 'Who is he?'
Only five of the nine seats inside the stage were occupied, but as the day, though cold, was clear and pleasant, we mounted the box, and took the vacant places beside the driver. That worthy was a rough, surly character, with a talent for profanity truly wonderful. His horses were lean, half-starved quadrupeds, with ribs protruding from their sides like hoops from a whisky-barrel, and he accounted for their condition, and for the scarcity of fences on the highroad, by saying that the stage-owners fed them on rails; but I suspected that the constant curses he discharged at them had worried the flesh off their bones, and induced the fences to move to a more godly latitude.
On the top of the coach, coiled away on a pile of horse-blankets, was a woman whose skin and dress designated her as one of the species of 'white trash' known in North-Carolina as 'clay-eaters.' She was about thirty years of age, and if her face had been bleached, and her teeth introduced to a scrubbing-brush, might have passed for being tolerably good-looking. After a number of preliminary cracks of the whip, and sundry oaths and loud shouts administered to the 'leaders,' the driver got under way, and we were soon jolting—at a speed of about four miles an hour—over the 'slews' and ruts made by the recent rains. Shortly after we started the woman said to me:
'I say, stranger, ye han't no 'backer 'bout ye, hev ye?'
I was about to say I had none, when Preston handed her a paper of 'Richmond Sweet.' Without pausing to thank him, she coolly stuffed nearly a half of it into her mouth. My companion did not seem at all surprised, but I remarked:
'You do not smoke, then, madam?'
'Oh! yas, I smokes; but I durned sight d'ruther chaw.'
'Let me give you a segar,' I said, taking one from my pocket, and slyly winking at Preston.
'I never smokes them sort o' things; I takes nat'rally ter pipes—did when I'se a gal,' she replied, ejecting a mouthful of saliva of the same color as her skin.
'This gentleman,' said the Squire, smiling, 'isn't fully up to our ways. He thinks it queer that women chew tobacco.'
'Quar thet wimmin chaws! Han't the' as much right ter as ye? I reckon what's good fur th' gander'll do fur th' goose!
'Good logic, that,' said Preston, laughing heartily.
The woman kept on expectorating for a time, when she again spoke to my companion:
'I say! ye b'long ter Newbern, doan't ye?'
'No, not now; but I live near there.'
'Ye doan't know a feller down thar called Mulock, I doan't s'pose—Bony Mulock?'
'Yes, I do; I know him well.'
'So do I. I'm gwine ter see 'im.'
'Where were you acquainted?'
'Up ter Harnett—I b'long thar—nigh on ter Chalk Level. He war raised thar.'
'Yes, I know; but he left there long ago.'
'Nigh on ter nine year. I'm his wife.'
'You his wife!' exclaimed the Squire, turning round and looking at her.
'Yas. He put eoeut nine year ago, and I han't heerd nor seed nary a thing on him sence, till a spell back. But I'll stick ter him this time, like a possum ter a rail. He woan't put eoeut no more, ye kin bet high on thet!'
'But he has another wife now!'
'Wall, I thort he moight hev—but she'll lean, raather sudden, I reckon. What is she—white or nigger?'
'She's a likely quadroon girl. She has almost made a man of him.'
'Hi Lordy! then she's right smart. I'm gol-durned ef I could!'
'If you have so poor an opinion of him, why do you follow him?'
'Wall, I goes for a 'ooman's hevin' har own. When he put eoeut I swore ter gol I'd foller 'im as soon as I got on his trail, ef I hed ter go to h—ll fur it!'
The low vulgarity of the woman disgusted me, and it seemed to have the same effect on the Squire, for he turned his back on her when she made the last remark. Not appearing to notice his manner, she said, after a moment:
'I say, Gin'ral! what 'bout thet stealin' bisness?'
'Bony was taken up a while back, for buying turpentine of the negroes. I reckon he's in jail yet.'
'Yas, I heerd uv thet—thet's how I treed 'im. Cunnel Lamsin—nigh on ter me—he seed it in the paper. I know'd 'im by th' Bonaparty. "When'll he be mauled?'
'Very soon, I reckon. He was sentenced to fifty lashes a week ago.'
'It'll do 'im good; I'd given 'im more'n thet. He war allers up ter dealin' with nigs.'
The road, when we started, was in a very bad condition, and as we proceeded it grew gradually worse, till, in the vicinity of the runs where we then were, it had become almost impassable. We frequently turned off into the woods and open fields to avoid the worst places, but even there the jolting of the coach was so violent that I momentarily expected our 'lady' passenger would roll off into the mud. Seeing that she was in absolute danger, and being also willing to dispense with her refined society, I finally said to her:
'Would you not prefer an inside seat?'
'Yas, I would; but I han't th' money fur't. The' axed so like durnation fur totein' me in thar, I couldn't stan' it, no how.'
'What fare did she pay, driver?' I asked of the Jehu.
'That's enough for seventy miles over a road like this. Let her get inside.'
'Karn't, stranger, 'tan't 'lowed, (d'rot yer dirty hide—you, Jake—g'up!) the old man would raise 'tic'lar (wha 'bout—g'lang, ye lazy critter) music ef I done thet.'
'How much more do you want?' I inquired.
'The hull figur, (g'up thar, g'lang, ye durnation brute,) nary a red less.'
'I will see that Dibble finds no fault, and you shall 'moisten up' at the doctor's,' said Preston.
'Wall, Squire, (d——n yer rotten pictur, why don't ye g'lang?) ef ye says thet, (whoa—whoa, thar, ye all-fired rockabone—whoa!) it's a trade.'
The stage halted, and the woman got inside.
We arrived at Kinston about an hour after noon, and stopped to dine. The village was composed of about twenty dingy, half-painted dwelling-houses, and a carriage manufactory—the latter establishment being carried on by an enterprising Yankee, a brother to the stage proprietor. He told me that he furnished large numbers of vehicles to the planters in all parts of the State, and took in pay, cotton, tar, and turpentine, which he shipped to another brother doing business in New York. There were, if I remember aright, five of these brothers, living far apart, but all in co-partnership, and owning every thing in common. They were native and natural Yankees, and no disgrace to the species.
After a meagre meal at 'the doctor's' (that gentleman eked out a dull practice among his neighbors by a sharp practice on his guests,) we again mounted the stage. We had proceeded to within eighteen miles of Newbern, when suddenly, as the Squire and I were lighting our second after-dinner segars, 'kerchunk' went one of the forward wheels, and over went the coach in a twinkling. I saved myself by clinging to the seat, but Preston was not so fortunate. The first I saw of him he was immersed in a pool of water some ten feet distant. Luckily the ground was soft, and he escaped personal injury. When he rose to his feet, his coat, like Joseph's, was of many colors, a dull clayey-red predominating.
It was fortunate for the clay-eating feminine that her conversation had disgusted me. Had she remained outside she might have sighed for her 'Bonaparty' in the torrid region of which she had spoken.
The other passengers escaped with a few bruises, and after an hour's exercise with rails and saplings, we succeeded in prying the wheels out of the mire. Then the driver discovered that one of the horses had lost his shoes, and insisted on having them replaced before he proceeded. We were midway between two 'relay-houses,' each being six miles distant, and the Jehu decided on taking the shoeless horse back to the one we had passed. As he was unharnessing the animal, I said to him:
'You say there is a blacksmith at each station—why not go on to the one ahead? It will save time.'
'The boy at Tom's Store's ran off. Thar an't nary a nig thar to hold the critter's huff.'
'Can not the blacksmith do that himself? I never heard of it's taking two men to shoe one horse!'
'Wall, it do, stranger. I reckon ye never done that sort o' bisness.'
'But, can't you do it?'
'I do it! My bisness ar drivin' hosses, not shoein' on 'em. When I takes ter thet I'll let ye know!'
He had then taken off the harness and was preparing to mount the animal.
'Come, come, my good fellow, don't go back for that. Go on, and I'll hold the horse's feet.'
'Ye hold 'em! I reckon ye wull! I'd like to see a man uv yer cloth a holdin' a critter's fut! Ha! ha!' Then throwing his leg over the horse's bare back, he added: 'We doan't cum it over trav'lers thet way, in these diggin's—we doan't. We use 'em like folks—we do. Ye can bet yer pile on thet!'
Preston had been quietly enjoying the dialogue, and as the driver rode away, said to me:
'I knew you wouldn't make any thing out of him. Come, let us walk on; a little exercise, after our warm work, will do us good.'
Leaving the other passengers to await the motions of the driver, the blacksmith, and the black 'huff'-holder, we trudged on through the mud, and in about two hours reached the next station.
The reader will find the spot which bears the dignified cognomen of 'Tom's Store,' if he looks on the map of North-Carolina. It is there destitute of a name, but is plainly designated by the circular character which is applied by geographers to villages. It is situated on the bank of a small tributary of the Neuse, and consists of a one-story building about twenty feet wide, and forty feet long, divided into two apartments, and built of pine slabs. One half of the village is sparsely filled with dry-goods, groceries, fish-hooks, log-chains, goose-yokes, tin-pans, cut-nails, and Jews'-harps, while the other is densely crowded with logwood, 'dog-leg,' strychnine, juniper-berries, New-England rum, and cistern-water, all mixed together. This latter region is the more populous neighborhood; and at the date of my visit it was absolutely packed with thirsty natives, who were imbibing certain fluids known 'down South' as 'blue-ruin,' 'bust-head, 'red-eye,' 'tangle-foot,' 'rifle-whisky,' and 'devil's-dye,' at the rate of a 'bit' a glass, and of four 'bits' for 'as much as one could carry.'
I was introduced by the Squire to Tom himself, the illustrious founder of the village. He was a stout, bloated specimen of humanity, with a red, pimpled face, a long grizzly beard, small inflamed eyes, and a nose that might have been mistaken for a peeled beet. His whole appearance showed that he was an habitue of the more fashionable quarter of his village, (the groggery,) and a liberal imbiber of his own compounds. He informed me that he did a 'right smart' business; bought dry-goods in 'York,' 'sperrets' in 'Hio, and rum in Bostin', and he added: 'Stranger, I never keeps none but th' clar juice, th' raal, genuwine critter, d——d ef I do. Come, take a drink.'
I declined, when a bystander who seemed to know—he could scarcely keep his feet—overhearing the remark, confirmed it by saying with a big oath:
'It's so, stranger, Tom do keep th' reg'lar critter, th' genuwine juice! Thar's no mistake 'bout thet, fur it gets tight itself ev'ry cold snap—d——d if it doan't!'
The village, at the date of my visit, had a population of about one hundred men, women, and children, and they were all assembled on the cleared plot in front of the store, witnessing a 'turkey-match.' Wishing to avoid the noisy crowd, and being fatigued with our long tramp over the muddy road, my companion and I entered the more reputable portion of Tom's Store in quest of a seat. It was nearly deserted. A lazy yellow boy was stretched at full length on a pine counter, which kept customers at an honest distance from the rows of half-filled shelves, occupying three sides of the room, and on a low bench in front of him sat a woman and two children. These four were the only persons in the apartment. The woman seemed to be not more than twenty-five, and was dressed in a neat calico gown, and had a tidy appearance. A thin woolen shawl was thrown over her shoulders, and she wore on her head a clean red and yellow kerchief, tied as a turban, and on her feet white cotton stockings and coarse untanned shoes. These last were nearly new, and very clumsy, and, like the rest of her costume, travel-stained and bespattered with mud. She had evidently walked a long distance that morning.
Her figure was slight and graceful, and her face very beautiful. She had long, black, glossy hair, straight, regular features, a rich olive complexion, and large, dark lustrous eyes, which, as she sat opposite the open door, were fixed on the thick, gloomy woods with an earnest, almost agonizing gaze, as if they were reading in its tangled depths the dark, uncertain future that lay before her. Never shall I forget the expression of her face. Never have I seen its look of keen, intense agony, and its full, perfect, utter despair.
One of the children was a little girl of about seven years, with a sweet, hopeful face, a clear rosy skin, and brown, wavy hair; and the other, a little mulatto boy, a few years older. They each held one of the woman's hands, and something peculiar in their attitudes made me look closely at them. A thin piece of iron, called by slave-traders a 'bracelet,' encircled their wrists, and fastened their arms to the woman's! They were slaves!
I entered the cabin a few steps in advance of Preston, who paused in the doorway as he caught sight of the group. The woman did not notice him, but his face turned to a marble white, and his voice trembled with emotion as he exclaimed:
'My God! Phyllis, is this you?'
The woman looked up, sprang to her feet, took one step forward, and then sank to the floor. Stretching out her shackled arms, bound to the children as they were, she clasped his knees and cried out:
'O Master Robert! dear Master Robert, save me! Oh! save me; for the love of the dear children, save me!'
The little boy and girl took hold of his skirts, and both crying hard, turned their faces up to his. The youngest said:
'Oh! do, massa! take us 'way from dis man; he bery bad, massa. He whip you' little Rosey 'case she couldn't walk all de way—all de way har, massa!'
The water gathered in Preston's eyes as he asked:
'Why did they sell you, Phyllis? Why didn't I know of it?'
'Missus went to you, Master Robert, but you warn't to home. Master had to have the money right off. The trader was thar. Master couldn't wait till you come back. Oh! save me! He's takin' me to Orleans, to Orleans, Master Robert. Do save me! Think of the chil'ren, Master Robert. Oh! think of the chil'ren!' And she loosened her hold of his limbs, and wept as if her very heart was breaking.
Preston's words came thick and broken, his frame shook, he almost groaned as he said:
'I would to God that I could, Phyllis; but I am in debt—pressed on every side. I could not raise the money to save my soul!'
'O my God! what will become of us?' exclaimed the woman. 'Think of little Lule, Master Robert! They've taken me 'way from her! Oh! what will become of her, Master Robert? What will become of her?' and she moaned and wept harder than before.
He stood like a man on whom the sentence of death had fallen. A cold, glassy look came into his eyes, a thick, heavy sweat started from his forehead, his iron limbs seemed giving way under him. Placing my hand gently on his shoulder, I said:
'How much is needed, my friend?'
'I don't know,' he replied, pressing his head with his hands as if to keep it from bursting. 'How much, Phylly?'
'Twelve hundred, Master Robert—they sold us for twelve hundred?'
'Well, well, my good woman, don't feel badly any more. I'll let Master Robert have the money.'
The woman stared at me incredulously for a moment; then, while the children came and clung to my coat as if I were an old friend, she said:
'Oh! bless you, sir! bless you! I will love you, sir! the children will forever love you for it.'
A struggle seemed to be going on in Preston's mind. He was silent for some moments; then in a slow, undecided voice he said:
'It an't right; I can't take it, Kirke. I owe you now. I'm in debt elsewhere. A judgment has been got against me. My crops have turned out poorly, I've been to Virginia for money, and can't get a dollar. It would not be honest. I can't take it.'
No words can picture the look on the woman's face as she said:
'Oh! do take it, Master Robert! Do take it. I'll work. I'll make it. I can make it very soon, Master Robert. Oh! do take it!'
'How much is the judgment?' I asked.
'Only six hundred; but old —— has it, and he has no mercy. He'll have the money at once, or sell every thing—the negroes—every thing!' and he choked down the heavy groan which half-escaped his lips.
'Have you no produce at home?'
'Yes, about a thousand barrels of rosin; but the river is low. I can't get it down.'
'Well, that's worth five hundred where it is. Any cotton?'
'Only eleven bales—low middling.'
'That's three hundred more. Consider it ours, and draw at ninety days for the whole, judgment and all.'
The woman had risen during this conversation, and stood with her eyes riveted on his face and mine as if her eternal destiny hung on our words. When I made the last remark she staggered toward me and fell, as if dead, at my feet. I brought water from the stream hard by, and we soon restored her to herself. Preston then lifted her from the floor, and placing her tenderly on the bench, said, taking my hand:
'She and her children are very dear to me. You can not understand how much you have done for me. Words are weak—they can not tell you. I will pay you out of the next crop. Meanwhile, I will re-draw and keep it afloat.'
'Do as you like about that. Where is your owner, Phyllis?'
'Outside, dear master. You'll know him. He's more of us poor creatures with him.'
'Come, Preston, let's see him at once—we've no time to lose—the stage will be along soon.'
'I've no heart for trading now. You manage it, my friend.'
'Well, as you say; but you'd better be with me. Come.'
'I will in a moment.'
He lingered behind, and when I left the cabin was speaking in a low tone to the slave-woman. Thinking he would follow in a moment, I went in quest of the trader.
Our rebellion is the most stupendous in history. It absorbs the attention and affects the material interests of the world. The armies engaged outnumber those of Napoleon. Death never had such a carnival, and each day consumes millions of treasure. Great is the sacrifice, but the cause is peerless and sublime. If God has placed us, as in 1776, in the van of the great contest for the rights and liberties of man; if he has again assigned us the post of danger and of suffering, it is that of unfading glory and of imperishable renown. The question with us is that of national unity and existence, and compromise is treason. To acknowledge the doctrine of secession, to abdicate the power of self-preservation, and permit the Union to be dissolved or disintegrated, is ruin, disgrace, and suicide. We must fight it out to the last. If necessity requires, we can live at home, and reverses or intervention should only increase our efforts. If need be, all—all who can bear arms, must take the field, and leave to those who can not, the pursuits of industry. If we count not the cost of the struggle in men or means, it is because the value of the Union can not be estimated. If martyrs from every State, and from nearly every nation of Christendom, have fallen in our defense, never, in humble faith, we trust, has any blood, since that of Calvary, been shed in a cause more holy.
Our armies, eventually, must triumph, but to restore, throughout the revolted States, the supremacy of the Constitution, we must continue to maintain the just distinction between the loyal and disloyal; the deluded masses and the rebel leaders. We must also remember, that the reign of terror has long been supreme in the South, and that thousands have been forced into apparent support of the rebellion by threats, by spoliation, by conscription, by the ruin of their homes, and the loss of their means of subsistence.
With the exception of South-Carolina, whose normal condition for more than thirty years before she struck down our flag at Sumter, was that of incipient treason and revolt, no other State really desired to destroy the Union. A secret association and active armed conspiracy, and an organized system of falsehood and misrepresentation, drove the masses, by sudden action, violence, and terror, into this rebellion; but a large majority of the aggregate popular vote of the South was against secession.
It was a Northern President, yielding to secession leaders, in opposition to the patriots of the South, who, by the whole power of Executive influence and patronage, attempted to force slavery into Kansas, by the crime, heretofore without a name or an example, the FORGERY OF A CONSTITUTION. This was the tolling of the first bell, alarming to patriots, but the concerted signal for the grand movement of the assassins, then conspiring the death of the Union. It was also a Northern President who urged the Lecompton forgery upon Congress, thus mainly contributing to the downfall of the Union; yet, when the vote was taken in the fall of 1860, a majority of the popular suffrage of the South was given to those candidates for the Presidency who had denounced and opposed this measure, over the candidate, (now in the traitor army,) who gave it his support. Thus, on this, as on every other occasion, where the people of the South have not been overborne by violence and terror, they have rejected at the polls the action of the secession leaders.
But the disaster was precipitated, when the same President, rejecting the advice of the patriot Scott, refused to reinforce our forts, when menaced or beleaguered by traitors, and announced, in his messages, to our country and all the world, the secession heresy, fatal to all government, that we had no right to repel force by force, on the part of a State seeking, by armed secession, to destroy the Union. The absurd political paradox was then announced by the President, that a State has no right to secede, but that the Government has no right to prevent its secession. It was this wretched dogma, that paralyzed our energies when they were most needed, gave immunity to treason, and invited rebellion, rendered our stocks unsalable, and induced thousands, at home and abroad, to believe that the Federal Government was a phantom, which existed only in name.
If Andrew Jackson had then been President, the rebellion would have been crushed by him in embryo, as it was in 1833, without expenditure of blood or treasure.
Surely, it is some palliation of the course of the deluded masses of the South, that they heard such pernicious counsels, and from such a source.
If, as our army advances, there has not been an open, general return of the masses to the Union, we must recollect, that when we did occupy parts of the South, and then withdrew, how soon the resurging tide of the rebellion swept over the devoted region, what scenes of horror and desolation ensued, how the homes of those who had welcomed our flag were given to the flames, whilst death was the portion of others. But let us crush out the very embers of this rebellion, cherish the devoted patriots of the South, drive out to other lands the rebel leaders, give to the ruined and deluded masses ample assurance of permanent protection, and they will resume their allegiance to the Union.
As a final result, we should not desire to hold the Southern States as provinces, for that would fatally exasperate, and tend to perpetuate the contest, increase our expenses, destroy our wealth and revenue, render our taxes intolerable, and endanger our free institutions. When the rebellion is crushed, we should seek a real pacification, the close of the war and its expenses, a cordial restoration of the Union, and return of that fraternal feeling, which marked the first half century of our wonderful progress. To insure these great results, the policy of the Government must be firm, clear, unwavering, and marked by discriminating justice and perfect candor. The country is in imminent peril, and nothing but the truth will avail us. The North and South must understand each other. The South must know that we realize the evident truth, that slavery caused the rebellion. Efforts were made on other questions to shake the Union, but all had proved impotent in the past, as they must in the future, until we were divided by slavery, the only issue which could produce a great rebellion. Nor will angry denunciations of the discordant elements of slavery and abolition now save us, for still the fact recurs, that without slavery there would have been no abolition, and, consequently, no secession. Slavery, therefore, was the cause, the causa causans, and whilst we should use all wise and constitutional means to secure its gradual disappearance, yet we should act justly, remembering how, when, and under what flag slavery was forced upon the protesting and opposing South, then feeble colonies of England. And yet, for nearly thirty years past, England has constantly agitated this question here, with a view to dissolve our Union, and has thus been mainly instrumental in sowing here the seeds of discord, which fructified in the rebellion.
And then, when the tide of battle seemed adverse, England, giving her whole moral aid to the rebellion, demanded from us restitution and apology in the case of the Trent, for an act, which had received the repeated sanction of her own example. Her press then teemed with atrocious falsehoods, insulting threats, and exulting annunciations of our downfall. Her imperious ultimatum, excluding arbitrament, was accompanied by fleets and armies, her cannon thundered on our coast, and she became the moral ally of that very slavery which she had forced upon the South, but which, for nearly thirty years past, she made the theme of fierce denunciation of our country, and constant agitation here, with one ever-present purpose, the destruction of this Union. And now let not England suppose, that there is an American, who does not feel the insult and understand the motive. England beheld, in our wonderful progress, the ocean's scepter slipping from her grasp, our grain and cotton almost feeding and clothing the world, our augmenting skill and capital, our inventive genius, and ever-improving machinery, our educated, intelligent, untaxed labor, the marvelous increase of our revenue, tonnage, and manufactures, and our stupendous internal communications, natural and artificial, by land and water. The last census exhibited to her, our numbers increasing in a ratio, making the mere addition, in the next twenty-five years, equal to her whole population, and our wealth augmenting in a far greater proportion. She saw our mines and mountains of coal and iron, (her own great element of progress,) exceed hers nearly twenty times, our hydraulic power, incalculably greater than that of Great Britain; a single American river, with its tributaries, long enough to encircle the globe, and that England might be anchored as an island in our inland seas. She witnessed Connecticut, smaller than many English counties, and with but one sixth the population of some of them, appropriating more money for education in that State, than the British Parliament for the whole realm; that we had more heads at work among our laboring classes than all Europe, and she realized the great truth, that knowledge is power, reposing on common schools for the whole people. She measured our continental area, laved by two oceans, as also by the lakes and the gulf, with a more genial sun, and a soil far more fertile and productive than that of England, and nearly thirty times greater in extent. She saw us raise within the loyal States a volunteer army of three fourths of a million, without a conscript, the largest, and far the most intelligent and effective force in the world, and millions more ready, whenever called, to rush to the defense of the Union, whilst a great and gallant navy rose, as if by enchantment, from the ocean. She marked the rapid transfer of the command of the commerce of the world from London to New-York. She observed the transcendent success of our free institutions, and with that 'fear of change, perplexing monarchs,' she dreaded the moral influence of our republican system. But why should any friend of his country, or of mankind, object to this, if it promoted the welfare of the people? We reject all force or intervention. Our only influence is that of our example. If our system was a failure, the institutions of England were not endangered, but strengthened by such a result. It was their success only that made them dangerous, not to the people of England, but to dynastic ambition, to aristocratic rule, and to selfish interests. To insure our permanent division, was to destroy us. Hence, she encouraged the South, acknowledged her as a belligerent, welcomed the rebel flag and war vessels into her ports, protected them there, enabled them to elude our cruisers, and prepared to aid and sustain slavery. For a time, with the exception of Cobden and Bright, we seemed to have had scarcely an influential friend in England. Her masses favored us, but five sixths of them are excluded from the polls by restricted suffrage. For a time, King Cotton never had more loyal subjects, than those who then controlled the press and government of England. Our Union was to be severed, the Southern confederacy acknowledged, the blockade broken, free trade between the South and England established, cotton given her, and refused us; we were to be forever cut off from the gulf and the lower Mississippi; Portland (the star of the East) was to become a British city, and Maine, always loyal and patriotic, was to be wrested from us, and reannexed to the British crown. It was the carnival of despots, exulting over our anticipated ruin, in our death-struggle in the great cause of human liberty and human progress.
And yet it was England that forced slavery upon the South against its earnest protest, and colonial acts vetoed by the British crown. Then, during our colonial weakness and dependence, the kings, and queens, and parliaments of England, not only legalized and encouraged the African slave-trade, but gave charters and monopolies for the wretched traffic. Then the lords and noble ladies, the blood royal, the merchant-princes, and even the mitred prelates of England, engaged most extensively in this accursed commerce, and thousands of the rich and noble of England enjoy now, by inheritance, fortunes thus accumulated. British vessels, sailing from British ports, openly displayed there upon their decks the shackles that were to bind the victims, thousands of whom, in the horrors of the middle passage, found unshrouded in an ocean grave, a happy escape from sufferings and misery indescribable. It was to these, our then infant, feeble, and dependent, but protesting colonies of the South, most of these slaves were forced by British avarice, and royal vetoes on colonial acts of the South prohibiting the traffic. Most justly then did Mr. Jefferson, in the original of our Declaration of Independence, announce the terrible truth as follows:
'He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them, thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.'
The flag of England was then the flag of slavery, and not of slavery only, but of the African slave-trade; and wherever slavery now exists, England may look upon it and say, This is the work of my hands—mine was the price of blood, and mine all the anguish and despair of centuries of bondage.
This war, then, is mainly the work of England. She forced slavery here, and then commenced and inflamed here the anti-slavery agitation, assailing the Constitution and the Union, arresting the progress of manumission in the Border States, and finally culminating in the rebellion. Here, then, in the South are slavery and rebellion, branches of that Upas tree, whose seeds were planted in our soil by England.
England, then, should never have reproached us with slavery. The work was hers, and hers may yet be the dread retribution of avenging justice. Had the contest she provoked in the Trent affair then happened, the result might have been very different from her expectations. Instead of a ruined country, and divided Union, and God save the King played under the cross of St. George in Boston, New-York, and Philadelphia, she might have heard the music of Yankee Doodle, Hail Columbia, and the Star-Spangled Banner on the heights of Quebec, reechoed in fraternal chorus over the Union intended by God, under one government, of the valley of the lakes and the St. Lawrence. Looking nearer home, she might have beheld that banner, whose stars she would have extinguished in blood, floating triumphantly, in union with the Shamrock, over that glorious Emerald Isle, whose generous heart beats with love of the American Union, and whose blood, now as ever heretofore, is poured out in copious libations in its defense. Indeed, but for the forbearance of our Government, and the judgment and good sense of Lord Lyons, the conflict was inevitable.
The hope was expressed by me in England that 'those glorious isles would become the breakwater of liberty, against which the surges of European despotism would dash in vain.' This was her true policy, justice to Ireland, successive reforms in her system, a further wise extension of the suffrage, with the vote by ballot, a cordial moral alliance with her kindred race in America, and a full participation, mutually beneficial, in our ever enlarging commerce. But her oligarchy has chosen coalition with the South and slavery, and war upon our Union and the republican principle. Divide and conquer is their motto, SUICIDE will be their epitaph.
England is now playing her part in the fourth act of the drama of slavery. During the first act, for more than a century, she was actively engaged in the African slave-trade, and in forcing the victims, as slaves, upon the colonies, against their protest.
With the close of the first act came the American Revolution, when, in the truthful language of Mr. Jefferson, before quoted, England 'excited the slaves to rise in arms among us, and to purchase the liberty of which she had deprived them, by murdering the people on whom she had obtruded them.'
The third act, from 1834 to 1861, presented England engaged in fierce denunciations of American slavery. The British pulpit, press, and hustings, her universities, literature, courts, bar, statesmen, and orators, were all devoted to assaults on American slavery, and upon our Constitution, for tolerating the system, even for a moment. Her Parliament most graciously favored us with one of its own members, to denounce in the North, the slavery of the South, inflaming sectional passions and hatred, with the fixed purpose of dissolving the Union. As all the slaves whom England had sent to Boston, had been manumitted in 1780, and there was no slavery there, the object was, not to abolish slavery, or the mission would have been to the South, where the institution and the power over it existed, but the movement was made in the North, not to destroy slavery, but to dissolve the Union. England having failed to accomplish our overthrow in the two great wars of 1776 and 1812, she commenced the third war upon us, not from the mouths of her cannon, but in zealous efforts, continued now for more than a fourth of a century, to divide the Union, by the agitation of this question. We are indebted to England for the curse of slavery, and then for the slavery agitation. In this she has been but too successful North and South; but if slavery should perish in the conflict, she will mourn the result, because it removes our only dangerous element of discord.
And now the curtain has risen on the fourth act, and England, as always heretofore, is the chief actor. And where now is the great anti-slavery agitator? Why, England has reversed her position, and suddenly discovered the surpassing beauty and perfection of secession and slavery. Secession, an anarchical absurdity, destructive of all law, and all government, she kindly adopts as the true theory of our system. This heresy was discarded by Washington, Madison, Hamilton, and all the illustrious founders of the Constitution. It was exposed, in all its deformity, by Jackson, Clay, and Webster, in 1833, when it was rejected by every State, except South-Carolina. But England repudiates the doctrine at home, and abroad also, except for our country. Substituting her wishes for the fact, she declares we are not a nation, and that any State has a legal and moral right to secede and dissolve the Union. Deplorable would have been the folly of such a system, and well then might England have exulted over the failure of republics. Nothing but her intense desire for this failure could have induced England to adopt this absurd doctrine. The whole world perceives the motive for so false a pretense, and history will expose and denounce it.
And now, as to slavery, let us compare the England of 1834 and 1860, and all the intermediate period, with the England of 1861 and 1862. What a revolution? Where now are her daily denunciations of slavery? Where now is Exeter Hall, so lately teeming with anti slavery harangues, but now cheering the slavery rebellion? Where are the abolition lords and ladies of England; where the reverend clergy; where the public press, and Parliament? Has England been struck dumb in a moment, that she can no longer denounce a system which, up to the hour of pro-slavery secession, she had, from day to day, during more than a fourth of a century, declared to combine all the crimes of the decalogue? Where now are the compliments that were lavished upon Uncle Tom's Cabin and its gifted writer? Where are the notices in England, of our recent great anti-slavery work, Among the Pines, by the celebrated Edmund Kirke, 'who awoke one morning and found himself famous'? The book is read and circulated here by thousands, but none will notice or take it now in England.
But England is not silent. Her press, her statesmen, and even members of her cabinet, declare that the rebellion has dissolved our Union, and destroyed our Government. They say we can never conquer the rebellion; that we should abandon the contest, acknowledge the South as an independent power, give it all the Gulf, two thirds of the Atlantic, all the Chesapeake, half the Ohio, all the lower Mississippi and its mouth, cut our territory into two parts, acknowledge the right of secession, and the absolute dissolution of the Union. Such is the assurance of rightful and certain success by which England encourages the rebels, while surrender, is the advice she gratuitously urges upon us, from day to day. But England is not the only false prophet whose predictions were based only on her wishes. Indeed, many of her presses and statesmen openly avow their belief and desire that the Union should be overthrown. Our area, they say, is too large, although all compact and connected by the greatest arterial river-system of the globe. But England is not large enough, and new possessions are constantly added by the sword, although her territory is double our own, and scattered over all the continents, and many of the isles of the world. If, before or shortly after this struggle began, England had spoken a word of friendship and sympathy for us—if she had but repeated her former denunciations of slavery, and given us the moral weight of her opinion—the rebellion would have been crushed long since. If—claiming to be our mother—she had only, in this crisis, acted as such, in her hour of need a kindred race would have rallied to her rescue. But now, so long as this wicked oligarchy rules her destiny never—never! It was England forced slavery upon us. It was England fastened upon our feeble, youthful limbs, this poisoned shirt of Nessus, and then, when we were tearing it from us, even though the vitals and the life-blood might follow, England exulted in what she believed to be our dying agonies.
This is no fancy sketch, but a dread reality. It has filled our cup with sorrow; it is mingled with every tear that falls upon the dying patriot's couch; it is wafted with every agonizing sigh that follows the departed spirit; it is felt in every house of mourning, and is seared, in letters of fire and blood, upon the memory of every American.
But England now says that Slavery was not the cause of the war. Yet it was so avowed in every secession ordinance, and in the confederate constitution. None but a slave State revolted; none but a slave State can be admitted into the rebel confederacy; and slavery is extended by their constitution over all existing or after-acquired territory. If England should ever form a part of slavedom, slavery would be extended there, and slaves could be bought and sold in London. Other revolts have been against tyranny, but this is a rebellion of slavery against freedom, of the few against the many, of the bayonet against the ballot, of capital invested in man as a chattel, against free labor and free men. The tariff was scarcely referred to in the contest at the South. The tariff then existing was a free-trade measure, prepared by the leaders of this rebellion, and passed in 1856, by the aid of their votes. That tariff was twenty per cent lower than the revenue act of 1846. The tariff of 1846 was proposed in the Treasury Report of December, 1845, which report was quoted by Sir Robert Peel in his speech of January, 1846, and made the basis of his motion to repeal the corn laws. But the free-trade bill of 1856 (duties on exports being prohibited) was the law of the land when the Cotton States seceded in December, 1860, and January and February, 1861, and inaugurated the rebel government. It was not until after all this, that this measure was repealed, in March, 1861. This repeal could never have occurred but for the prior withdrawal of the Cotton States from Congress. The great agricultural and exporting North-west was opposed to high tariffs; so also was New-York, the great mart of foreign commerce. The South has always been greatly divided on this question, and, since the act of 1846, the aggregate popular vote of the North has always been nearly double that of the South against high tariffs. The author of the tariff of 1846, is now, as always heretofore, devoting all his energies to the support of the Union. So is the distinguished Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, the author of the celebrated anti-slavery Wilmot Proviso, who, with many other Republican Senators and members supported the tariff of 1846. So is the eminent ex-Vice-President, (who gave the celebrated casting vote for the tariff of 1846,) supporting the Union. But it is enough that a majority of Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet supported the tariff of 1846. No, the tariff had nothing to do with the rebellion. It was slavery alone that produced the revolt. There are, however, thousands who favored the act of 1846, and even of 1856, desiring enlarged trade between friendly nations, who regard England now, as the enemy of our Union, the champion of secession, and the friend of this infernal pro-slavery rebellion.
I have stated that the South must know what course we intend to pursue in regard to slavery. But not only the South, but our friends and enemies, and all the world must also know, that the AMERICAN UNION SHALL NEVER BE DISMEMBERED. It is the great citadel of self-government, intrusted to our charge by Providence, and we will defend it against all assailants until our last man has fallen. The lakes can never be separated from the Gulf, nor the Eastern from the Western Ocean. As the sun high advanced in the heavens illumes our flag on the Atlantic, its first morning beams shall salute our kindred banner-stars on the shores of the Pacific, the present western limit of this great republic. Already the telegraphic lightning flashes intelligence from ocean to ocean, and soon the iron horse, starting from the Atlantic on his continental tour, shall announce his own advent on the shores of the Pacific, The lakes of the North are united by railroads and canals with the Atlantic, the Gulf, the Ohio, and Mississippi, and our iron gunboats, bearing aloft in war and in peace the emblems of our country's glory, are soon to perform their great circuit from the Albemarle, the Potomac, the Chesapeake, the Susquehanna, the Delaware, and the Hudson, to the Lakes and the Mississippi. Above all, the valley of the Mississippi was ordained by God as the residence of a united people. Over every acre of its soil must forever float the banner of the Union, and all its waters, as they roll on together to the Gulf, proclaim that what 'God has joined together, man shall never put asunder.' The nation's life-blood courses this vast arterial system, and to sever it is death. No line of latitude or longitude shall ever separate the mouth from the centre or sources of the Mississippi. All the waters of the imperial river, from their mountain springs and crystal fountains, shall ever flow in commingling currents to the Gulf, uniting evermore in one undivided whole, the blessed homes of a free and happy people. The Ohio and Missouri, the Red River and the Arkansas, shall never be dissevered from the Mississippi. Pittsburgh and Louisville, Cincinnati and St. Louis, shall never be separated from New-Orleans, or mark the capitals of disunited and discordant States. That glorious free-trade between all the States (the great cause of our marvelous progress) shall in time, notwithstanding the present suicidal folly of England, go on in its circuit among accordant peoples throughout the globe, the precursor of that era of universal and unrestricted commerce, whose sceptre is peace, and whose reign the fusion and fraternity of nations, as foretold by the holy prophets in the Scriptures of truth.
This great valley, one mighty plain, without an intervening mountain, contains, west of the Mississippi, seven States and Territories of an area sufficient for thirteen more of the size of New-York. East of the Mississippi, it embraces all the remaining States except New-England, New-Jersey, Delaware, South-Carolina, and Florida. New-York is connected with the great valley by the Alleghany River; and Maryland by the Castleman's River and the Youghiogany, and Alabama, North-Carolina, and Georgia, by the Tennessee and its tributaries. Nearly one half the area of Pennsylvania and Virginia is within its limits. Michigan is united with it by the Wisconsin River, and Texas by the Red River; whilst Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, Tennessee, and Mississippi, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, and Arkansas own almost exclusively its sway.
And who will dare erect the feeble barriers designed to seclude the great valley and its products from either ocean, the Lakes, or the Gulf, or persuade her to hold these essential rights and interests by the wretched tenure of the will of any seceding State? No line but one of blood, of military despotisms, and perpetual war, can ever separate this great valley. The idea is sacrilege. It is the raving of a maniac. Separation is death. Disunion is suicide. If the South presents the issue that the Union or slavery must perish, the result is not doubtful. Slavery will die. It will meet a traitor's doom, wherever it selects a traitor's position. The Union will still live. It is written on the scroll of destiny, by the finger of God, that 'neither principalities nor powers' shall effect its overthrow, nor shall 'the gates of hell prevail against it.'
Nor will we ever surrender the grave of Washington. There, upon the Potomac, on whose banks he was born and died, the flag of the Union must float over his sacred sepulchre, until the dead shall be summoned from their graves by the trump of the resurrection.
The Fourth of July, 1776, when our name was first inscribed upon the roll of nations, shall be forever commemorated under one flag, and as the birthday of one undivided Union. The memorable declaration of American Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States, all subscribed upon that consecrated ground at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, shall ever mark the noble commonwealth of Pennsylvania as the keystone of the arch of a perpetual and unbroken Union.
Nor shall any but the same banner be unfolded over the graves of the patriots and statesmen of the Revolution, or the battle-fields of the mighty conflict.
And around the graves of Washington and Jackson, and in memory of their solemn farewell appeals in favor of the Union, how could Virginia or Tennessee ever have been disloyal? No, they were not disloyal, but were torn, by rebel fraud and violence, from that banner round which they will again rejoice to rally.
We must not despair of the Republic. All is not lost. The Union yet lives. Its restoration approaches. The calm will soon follow the storm. The golden sunlight and the silver edging of the azure clouds will be seen again in the horizon. The bow of promise will appear in the heavens, to mark the retiring of the bitter waters, proclaiming from on high, that now, henceforth, and forever, no second secession deluge shall ever disturb the onward, united, and peaceful march of the Republic.
As loftier rise the ocean's heaving crests, Ere they sink, tempest-driven, on the strand; So do these hearts and freedom-beating breasts, Sublimed by suffering, fall upon our land.
Wounded! O sweet-lipped word! for on the page Of this strange history, all these scars shall be The hieroglyphics of a valiant age, Deep writ in freedom's blood-red mystery.
What though your fate sharp agony reveals! What though the mark of brother's blows you bear! The breath of your oppression upward steals, Like incense from crushed spices into air.
Freedom lies listening, nor as yet averts The battle horrors of these months' slow length; But as she listens, silently she girts More close, more firm, the armor of her strength.
Then deem them not as lost, these bitter days, Nor those which yet in anguish must be spent Far from loved skies and home's peace-moving ways, For these are not the losses you lament.
It is the glory that your country bore, Which you would rescue from a living grave; It is the unity that once she wore, Which your true hearts are yearning still to save.
Despair not: it is written, though the eye, Red with its watching, can no future scan: The glow of triumph yet shall flush the sky, And God redeem the ruin made by man.
A SOUTHERN REVIEW.
A friend 'down South' has kindly sent us a number of 'De Bow's Review, Industrial Resources, etc.,' as its elegantly worded title-page proclaims. It is true that the number in question is none of the freshest, it having appeared at Charleston, in December last. Yet, as a Southern magazine published during the war, and full of war matter, it is replete with interest.
Its first article on Privateers and Privateersmen, by George Fitzhugh of Virginia—as arrogant, weak, and Sophomorical as Southern would-be 'literary' articles usually are—is written in a vein of reasoning so oddly illogical as to almost induce suspicion as to the sanity of the author. Let the reader take, for instance, the following extracts:
'To show how untenable and absurd are the doctrines of the writers on the laws of war, we will cite the instance of pickets. According to their leading principle that in war 'only such acts of hostility are permissible as weaken the enemy and advance and promote the ends and purposes of the war,' pickets are the very men to be killed, for the death of one of them may effect a surprise and victory, and do more injury to the enemy than the killing of a thousand men in battle. According to their doctrine, it is peculiarly proper and merciful to shoot pickets; yet they propose to interpolate on the laws of war a provision that pickets shall not be shot. This provision is, in accordance with our philosophy, founded on Christian principles and the dictates of healthy humanity, for pickets are not active belligerents, and can oppose no force to the stealthy attacks made on them by unseen enemies. To kill a picket is like fighting an unarmed man, a child or a woman. It is eminently right according to the selfish and silly philosophy of writers on national law, but inhuman, and therefore wrong, according to our philosophy, which is founded on Christian injunctions and natural feelings.
'Yet, as a matter of necessity, we would encourage the shooting of pickets. We of the South are accustomed to the use of arms, are individually brave and self-reliant, can creep upon their pickets and shoot them in the night, and thus carry out our defensive policy of exhausting in detail the superior numbers of the invading North. We must be conquered and subjugated unless we take advantage of all our peculiarities of habits, customs, localities, and institutions. We have to make a choice of evils; either shoot pickets, or by neglecting to do so, cut off one of our most available arms of defense. We must fight the 'devil with fire.' Our enemy professes no allegiance to the laws of morality nor to the laws of God. We must deal with them as Moses dealt with the people of Canaan, so long as they invade our territory. But we are not God's chosen people, not his instruments to punish Canaanites, and we will not follow them when they retreat to their barren Northern homes. There a just and avenging God is already punishing them for their crimes. Left to themselves, and our real enemies—those of the North-east—will perish, for they have little means of support at home, and have not learned to avail themselves of those means, trusting that a generous and confiding South would continue to feed and clothe them.
'In old countries, where there are few trees, forests, or other hiding-places, and where the country people are unused to firearms, an invaded country gains little by shooting pickets; but in a new, rough country like ours, where pickets can be approached furtively, and where all the country people are first-rate marksmen, there is no better means of harassing and exhausting an invading army than by cutting off its outposts in detail.
'It is the obvious interest of the North to make the persons of pickets sacred; and equally our obvious policy to shoot them down at every opportunity.'
In the midst of these slightly confused arguments on war, the writer suddenly introduces a very out of place eulogy of 'De Bow's Review, Industrial Resources, etc.,' as a periodical 'which occupies a much wider range than any English periodical, and which, as an Encyclopedia, would be more valuable than any other Review, were equal pains and labor bestowed upon its articles.' We suspect this bit to be office-made—it has the heavy, clumsy ring of the great cracked bell of De Bow. For instance:
'I know, Mr. Editor, you intend, so soon as the war is over, to enlarge the Review, without increasing the subscription-price ... and then if Southern patronage ceases to be bestowed chiefly on the flimsy and immoral literature of the North, and Southern pens cease to prostitute themselves for pay by ministering to the vile and sensual literary appetites of the Yankees, then, we say, this Review will rank with the ablest for ability, and far above them for usefulness. But this result can be attained only when we cease to be Yankee-worshipers, and when the semi-traitorous imbeciles of the Virginia Convention and of Kentucky are remembered only to be detested and despised. Already hundreds of scientific and philosophic minds who have thrown off the debasing influence of Yankee authority have contributed learned and valuable articles to your pages.'
Unfortunately the character of De Bow as a deliberate and accomplished liar, and the exposure of his infamous falsification of statistics, have somewhat sunk the character of his 'Review, Industrial Resources, etc.,' out of Dixie, where, only, due honor is paid to those who are like him
——'for profound And solid lying much renowned.'
'Art. II.' or Article the Second, in this magazine, 'which only needs equal pains and labor' [we might add paper, ink, and a Yankee Grammar and Dictionary] to be made equal to 'any other Review'—treats of 'The Bastile—Tyranny, Past and Present.' All the doleful stories of prisoners of earlier or later ages, in the Bastile, including much sentimental balderdash, are drawled out by a very stupid and would-be effective writer, for the purpose of proving that the imprisonment of political offenders and captives by the North is precisely on a par with that of 'Bastiling' them, and that Abraham Lincoln is only a revival of the worst kings of France in an American form. We of the North have, according to this writer, 'reached the goal of despotism at a single leap. In a few months the government has achieved ETERNAL INFAMY.' We commend to the reader the following superbly Southern conclusion:
'With all these evils comes the inevitable Bastile. It is an inseparable part of the system. A philosophical Cuvier, from one act or condition of tyranny, will supply the rest of the organism. Wherever despotism exists, we look for the Bastile as naturally as we do for the character of a robber in an Italian story. Like the ponderous step of the statue of the commander in the Don Juan of Moliere, its approach is audible above civil commotion, above the shrieks of frenzied orators, the howlings of a demoralized clergy, and the sound of battle. It brings with it the destruction of civil liberty, and darkens all the perspective.'
To us, to whom the approach of despotism with all its horrors is not quite so apparent as the heavy footfall 'in the Don Juan of Moliere,' this all sounds as if Dixie would very much like to have the little privilege of keeping all the prisoners to itself. Nothing is said, by the way, of Southern Bastiles—of tobacco-factories, in which mere boys are allowed to die of wounds in utter solitude, to which officers come for the purpose of spitting upon and kicking the 'Yanks,' and where sentinels in wanton fiendishness were allowed to daily shoot through the windows at those within. No word is spoken of officers thrown into a common dungeon with negroes and thieves, nor is there any allusion to the ingenious system of keeping Northern prisoners as long as possible, so that they may die and thereby diminish the numbers of the enemy, in accordance with the Southern plan of Fitzhugh, already cited, as 'our defensive policy of exhausting in detail the superior numbers of the invading North.'
'Article III.' gives us a rehash of the views of Dr. Cartwright on 'The Serpent, the Ape, and the Negro.'
'Article IV.' by E. Delony, of Louisiana, is the great political gun of the magazine, and inquires: 'What of the the Confederacy—the Present and the Future?' It is of course full of hope, bluster, and self-praise. 'Our armies,' says Delony, 'are not like the miserable hirelings of Lincoln—the scum of infamy and degradation—hunted up from the dens, sewers, and filthy prisons of the North, with the low vandalism of foreign importations, picked up wherever they can be found. Yet such are the creatures our brave soldiers have to meet. Our armies are composed of men who have not volunteered for pay, nor for food or clothing!'
Since copying this paragraph, it was recalled to us—within a few hours—by meeting some half-dozen of the 'scum of sewers' in question, in the persons of half-a-dozen young gentlemen, privates in a Massachusetts regiment, several of them college graduates—all of them sons of wealthy citizens and gentlemen. It would be interesting to ascertain, taking man for man, what proportion of the Southern and Northern armies are respectively able to read, or are otherwise personally familiar with the decencies and proprieties of civilized life. From this assumption of superiority Mr. Delony argues victory, asks, 'What about the peace?' and inquires if the Federal Government will offer to negotiate for it?
'We can propose no terms, but we must demand them. We desire nothing that is not right and just, and we will submit to nothing that is wrong. But no peace will be acceptable to the people that permits the Lincoln Government to hold its Abolition orgies and fulminate its vile edicts upon slave territory. Much valuable property of our citizens has been destroyed, or stolen and carried off by the invaders; this should be accounted for, and paid. The Yankees were shrewd enough to cheat us out of the navy, but we must have half of the war-vessels and naval armament in possession of the North at the commencement of this war. We should enter into no commercial alliances or complications with them, but assume the entire control of our commercial policy and regulations with them, to be modified at our own discretion and pleasure. They have closed against us all navigation and trade on the Mississippi, Missouri, and other rivers; it is our right and duty hereafter so to regulate the navigation of these streams as may best conform to our own interests. It can not be expected that we should permit the free navigation of the Lower Mississippi to the West after they have closed it against us above, without the most stringent regulations. There is no palliation in the pretense that the blockade above was a war measure; they can not so claim it unless we had been acknowledged as belligerents, and hence they have forfeited all right to free navigation as a peace measure. If, then, permission be given to the Free States of the West to navigate the Lower Mississippi, it should be under such restrictions as to afford a commensurate revenue to the confederacy, and the strictest rules regulating the ingress and egress of passengers, officers, and hands. The West is learning us how to do without her, and we thank her for it; we shall have but little need of her produce, as we shall soon have a plentiful supply among our own people. An absolute separation from all the North, with the sole and independent control of all regulations with its people, are our best and safest terms of peace.'
What is further hoped for is shown in remarks on the
EXTENT OF THE CONFEDERACY.
'We have conquered an outlet to the Pacific which must be maintained, though we can desire no dominion on the Pacific coast, but such as may be sufficient to secure the terminus of our great Pacific railroad through Texas and Arizona. Toward the north and east, the Maryland and Pennsylvania line, including Delaware, is our true landmark. Kansas, on the other side, must be conquered and confiscated to pay for the negroes stolen from us, abolitionism expelled from its borders, and transformed into a Slave State of the confederacy. Perhaps, after we have done with Lincoln, this arrangement may be very acceptable to a majority in Kansas, without force. We will have no desire to disturb Mexico so long as she conducts herself peaceably toward us, and, as a neighbor, maintains good faith in her dealings with us. Central America must remain as a future consideration; and, instead of the acquisition of Cuba, she has become our friendly ally, identified with us in interests and institutions, and, so long as she continues to hold slaves, connected with us by the closest ties.'
But the strong point of the article consists in a fierce onslaught on foreigners, all of whom, save those now resident in the South, are to be excluded from citizenship and office. 'With the exception of these, and after that time, no more votes should be allowed, and no' more offices be held, except by native-born citizens of the confederacy.'
'The naturalization law of the old Government has proved of little benefit to the Southern States. Whilst our Southern adopted citizens have proven themselves reliable, faithful, and true to our institutions of the South, those of the North, who outnumber them twenty to one, have universally arrayed themselves foremost and in front of Lincoln's hordes in the work of rapine, murder, and destruction against the South. Hereafter then, we can make no distinction between the Yankee and the foreigner, and both must necessarily be debarred of the privilege of citizenship in this confederacy.'
Delony, it seems, has 'viewed this question in all its bearings,' 'foremost and in front' of course included, and deems its adoption eminently essential to the future stability and welfare of the confederacy. The abolition of all impost duties and a system of direct taxation, are of course warmly advocated—meaning thereby the ruin of Northern manufactures by smuggling European goods over our border. In short, he sets forth plainly what is as yet far from being felt or generally understood, that the independence of the Southern confederacy must inevitably bring with it the total ruin of the North, and the entire exclusion from its citizenship and offices of all persons other than native-born Southerners.
'Article V.' is one of those intensely snobbish, sickening, self-conscious essays on 'Gentility,' which none but a Southerner is capable of writing. The innate vulgarity of its author, 'J. T. Wiswall, of Alabama,' is shown in such expressions as 'a pretty Romeo of seventeen, that looks as charming as sweet sixteen, gallused up in tight unmentionables,' and in artless confessions that he—J. T. Wiswall—belongs to a class above the snob, but still to one 'whose conversation stalks as on stilts,' and which is foppish, effeminate, and ostentatious. The conclusion is, of course, the worship of 'aristocracy,' a worship of which, as J.T. Wiswall infers from his own shallow reading and flimsy experience, exists 'in every heart.' The wants of the rich, their 'toys and gauds,' 'were made to relieve the sufferings of the poor,' and the 'ceaseless abuse of aristocracy is therefore absurd.' Without the great truths, based on these relations of rich and poor, J. T. W., the apostle of 'Gentility,' thinks that 'society is a murderous anarchy; without these, revolution follows revolution, and barbarism closes the hideous drama of national existence. On these alone hang all the law and prophets.'
The remaining articles of 'De Bow's Review, Industrial Resources, etc.,' are devoted to Free Trade, the Progress of the War, and the Coal-Fields of Arkansas, none of them, with the exception of the latter, presenting aught like an approach to a useful truth. The magazine is, however, as a whole both curious and characteristic. It shows, as in a mirror, the enormous ambition, the uneasy vanity, the varnished vulgarity of the Southerner, his claims to scrupulous honor, outflanked and contradicted at every turn by an innate tendency to exaggerate and misrepresent, and his imperfect knowledge employed as a basis for the most weighty conclusions. And it is such writers and thinkers who accurately set forth the ideas and principles on which the great experiment of the Southern aristocratic confederacy is to be based—in case of its success. A tremendous Ism, fringed with bayonets! There is strength in bayonets, but what stability is there in the Ism which supports them?
EAST AND WEST.
In the far East the imperial rule Is aided by the British rod; While in the West the rebel school Receives full many a friendly nod. Can no new Mithra ever be To slay this Bull of tyranny?
WAS HE SUCCESSFUL?
'Do but grasp into the thick of human life! Everyone lives it—to not many is it known; and seize it where you will, it is interesting.'—Goethe.
'SUCCESSFUL.—Terminating in accomplishing what is wished or intended.'—Webster's Dictionary.
HOW HIRAM MEEKER FLOURISHED AT BURNSVILLE.
Hiram entered on his new duties—I was about to say with zeal and activity; such are not the words I would employ to describe his conduct or character, but rather earnestness and fidelity. Neither do these terms precisely convey my meaning, but none better occur to me. He was quiet and unobtrusive, at the same time alert and ready. Absolutely negative in his manner, he did not leave a salient point for Mr. Burns to lay hold of. His first object was to learn exactly the situation of his employer's affairs, and that without manifesting the least curiosity on the subject.
Of course, such an event as the introduction of a young man into Mr. Burns's private office was soon known all over town. The appearance of the new-comer was scrutinized, and every word and gesture watched. This Hiram knew very well, and bore himself accordingly. Wherever he went, whether on some business to Slab City with Mr. Burns's horse and wagon, or into the store, or about the village, he carried with him the careful, considerate air of one who is charged with affairs of the greatest importance.
Do not think Hiram was so foolish as to assume a consequential air—not he. His manner appeared quite involuntary; produced necessarily by the grave matters he had in charge. He was by no means reserved. He was always ready to enter into conversation and to answer questions, provided the questions did not refer to his employer's business. Thus he soon gained the reputation in Burnsville which he had in Hampton, of being a very agreeable young man. At first his presence rather puzzled the good people, and some would inquire of Hiram what he was 'hired for;' his answer was ready and explicit: 'To act as confidential clerk for Mr. Burns.' This would be pronounced in a tone so decided, that while it only stimulated the curiosity of the inquirer, it checked further questioning.
In this way, without appearing conceited, arrogant, or consequential, our hero managed to impress every body with the importance and responsibility of his position. Wherever he appeared, folks would say: 'There goes Meeker.' As Mr. Burns's representative, he was noticed more than Mr. Burns himself. Hiram knew very well how to manage all this, and he did so to perfection.
It would have done you good to see Hiram on Sunday, elaborately dressed, going to church with the Widow Hawkins on his arm, followed by the two Miss Hawkins. Walking up the aisle, his countenance composed and serious, he would open the pew-door and wait reverently for Mrs. H. and the young ladies, to pass in. They, 'the young ladies,' would flutter along and enter the pew with a pleased, satisfied air—they were already in love with Hiram—and after the usual turnings and twistings and adjustments, would take their seats, the one next our hero giving him a little bit of a smile or a brief whisper ere she settled down into the ordinary church decorum.
Hiram all the while would not move a muscle. He never cast his eyes around the congregation—he never looked any where except at the clergyman, to whom he paid profound attention. When the services were over, he escorted Mrs. Hawkins back to her house, while the young ladies sometimes stopped to say a few words to their companions.
In a fortnight Hiram had taken a class in the Sunday-school, of which Mr. Burns was superintendent, and on the next communion Sabbath he joined the church by letter.
For some time Hiram confined himself in the office to following implicitly the instructions of Mr. Burns, without venturing to ask any questions or make any suggestions. He carried out these instructions to the letter. He wrote a beautiful hand. He was, as the reader knows, an admirable accountant. For several days Mr. Burns seemed disposed to ascertain his capabilities by putting a variety of matters into his hands. He gave him a contract to copy, and then asked for an abstract of it. He submitted several long accounts to him for arrangement. He sent him to the mill or factory, sometimes to deliver a message simply, sometimes to look after a matter of consequence. Mr. Burns found Hiram on all these occasions to be intelligent, accurate, and prompt. He invariably manifested this single characteristic, to wit, undivided attention to the matter in hand.
'He is an invaluable fellow, I declare,' said Mr. Burns to himself; 'I wish I could feel differently toward him. Strange how a first prejudice will stick to one!'
'I think I am gaining ground,' soliloquized Hiram. 'Let him try me—the more the better. I shall do him good in spite of himself.'
* * * * *
During this period, which we may term Hiram's novitiate, he had been careful, without appearing to avoid her, not to come in contact with Sarah Burns. Mr. Burns was a very hospitable man, but he had omitted to ask Hiram to visit him. The latter was not slow to perceive and appreciate the neglect. He did not mind it much, though. He had gained his position, and felt he could take care of himself.
Meantime Sarah frequently inquired of her father how he liked his new clerk. At first, as we have stated, she felt jealous that any one should share his business confidences with her, but soon she resigned herself to this, and learning who was to enter her father's service, she hoped that she would find an agreeable acquaintance in the young man with whom—if the truth be told—she was really much pleased when they met at Mrs. Crofts'. We have already described the wrath of young Meeker at receiving, as he supposed, the cut direct from Sarah Burns the first day he visited the place. Sarah, entirely unconscious of having given offense, began to wonder how it happened that she never encountered him on any occasion. They attended the same church, each had a class in the Sunday-school, they met in the lecture-room, but never where an opportunity was afforded for them to speak. At last, one Sunday, after he had finished with his class, Hiram started to go to the library to procure some books for his pupils, and perceived, when it was too late, that Miss Burns herself was making choice of some. Another moment, and Hiram was close at her side, but intent on his selections.
'He is diffident,' said Sarah to herself, 'and thinks I do not recognize him because I did not when we met so unexpectedly. It is proper I should speak to him.'
'How do you do, Mr. Meeker?' she said.
Hiram looked up with well-feigned surprise.
'Very well, I thank you,' he replied, with polite formality; 'I hope you are quite well;' and barely waiting for her bow of assent, he busied himself with the books again.
'How he has altered! What can be the matter with him?' thought Sarah as she turned to resume her place.
'Pretty well for encounter Number two,' muttered Hiram, as he walked back to his class. 'Wait a little, young lady, and we will see who comes off second best.'
* * * * *
Louisa and Charlotte Hawkins were both very pretty girls. Their mother, now several years a widow, was an estimable lady, who had by no means lost her good looks. Possessing excellent health, she made a very youthful appearance, and seemed more like an elder sister than the mother of her daughters. Her husband left her a moderate income, which an unforeseen occurrence had the last season diminished. It was this circumstance which induced her to listen to Hiram's application to become a member of her family. His recommendations were so ample, what Mr. Burns said about him was so satisfactory, and the price which Hiram volunteered to pay for his accommodations so generous, that Mrs. Hawkins found it impossible to refuse him. I will not say that Hiram's manner and address did not serve to turn the scale. The widow was gratified with the extraordinary deference paid to her, with which was mingled a species of admiration, while the young ladies, who were of course brought into the consultation, were somehow severally impressed with the idea that Hiram must be perfectly charming in a private tete-a-tete with mamma and sister out of the room.
Hiram's plan with the ladies was literally to divide and conquer. Mrs. Hawkins had too much good sense to take matters seriously, but she could not help being flattered by the assiduous and persevering attentions of so young and handsome a fellow. In fact, she looked five years younger herself, after Hiram came to her house. These attentions, however, were not out of the common course. They were apparently just what it was eminently proper and polite to render; but we have already explained that Hiram had a delicate and most insinuating way of giving force and meaning to them.
Ah! well, after all, we would not intimate that the widow Hawkins, now forty years of age, ever entertained any other thought toward Hiram than that he would make a most delightful son-in-law, or if she did experience feelings which people take for granted belong only to the young, (people are much mistaken,) it is not for me to betray or expose them.
But the young ladies, Miss Louisa and Miss Charlotte—here was a more difficult task, to render equal justice to each. Candidly, however, I think Hiram accomplished it. Louisa was already one-and-twenty, but she had glossy dark hair which she wore in curls down her neck, and served to give her a very youthful appearance. Charlotte, who was nearly two years younger than her sister, was always taken by strangers to be the eldest. She was a blonde, and wore her light brown hair plain over her face. Both these young ladies soon had their private impression that there were peculiar confidences between them and Hiram. It was the old story again. Our hero had lost none of his powers of fascination in removing from Hampton to Burnsville.
You see, reader, how pleasantly Hiram was quartered. I do not suppose that a thought of Mary Jessup ever entered his brain (to say nothing of his heart, if he had any) after he came to Mrs. Hawkins's. He attended to his business devotedly, and never in a single instance sacrificed it to his pleasure, his comfort, or his inclinations. When it was finished, he found solace and enjoyment in the society of these ladies, much as he would enjoy his dinner, though in a higher degree, and with a keener zest.
After the meeting with Miss Burns at the Sunday-school, Hiram no longer avoided her. Still, he confined himself to courteous salutations, in which he appeared perfectly at his ease, and unrestrained, without getting into conversation or alluding to a previous acquaintance. But pray, understand, if Sarah Burns had had the slightest idea that Hiram's course was premeditated, she would have cut his acquaintance instanter, for she was a girl of spirit, with a vein of her father's impetuosity of character. As it was, she imagined every reason for Hiram's reserve but the right one, and so was anxious he should do away with it. To this end she always returned his greeting in a manner calculated to give him confidence if he were diffident, and courage if he were timid. It seemed to little purpose. 'What can be the matter with the fellow?' she said to herself. She was piqued; she was puzzled; she felt annoyed.
Young ladies must excuse me for letting the public into some of their secrets, but as a faithful historian, I am forced to record precisely how Sarah Burns felt, as well as just what she did during the early part of her acquaintance with my hero—an acquaintance which led, as the reader may remember, to an engagement of marriage.
Meantime, Hiram began to gain in Mr. Burns's regard. He soon discovered how very capable his new clerk was. He certainly had never had any such person in his employment before. He found himself by degrees leaving many things for Hiram to attend to which he supposed no one but himself was capable of transacting. In such cases he was astonished with what facility Hiram performed the work; how apt and ready he was. What a comfort for a man with as much on his hands as Mr. Burns, to have such a person near him!