In early life he was the close intimate of Richard Henry Wild, and was a great admirer of his genius, and especially his great and interesting conversational powers. Unexceptionable in his morals, he was severe upon those whose lives were deformed by the petty vices which society condemns yet practises in so many instances and universally tolerates.
It is greatly to be regretted that the talents and learning of such a man should not be given to mankind. Every one capable of appreciating these great attributes in man, and who knew Colonel Cumming, will, with the writer, regret that he persistently refused every persuasion of his friends to allow them to place him in such a position before the country as would bring his great qualities prominently forward in the service, and for the benefit of his fellow-men. His proud nature scorned the petty arts of the politician; and he doubtless felt place could only be had or retained by the use of these arts; he was of too high principle to descend to them, and held in great contempt those whose confidence and favor could only be had by chicanery. He was not a people's man, and had in his nature very little in common with the masses; and, like Coriolanus, scorned and shunned the great unwashed. He lived out his threescore years and ten, hiding the jewel God had given him, and appropriating it only to the use of his own happiness in the solitude he loved.
George McDuffie was a very different man. Born of humble parentage in one of the eastern counties of Georgia, he enjoyed but few advantages. His early education was limited: a fortuitous circumstance brought him to the knowledge of Mr. Calhoun, who saw at once in the boy the promise of the man. Proposing to educate him and fit him for a destiny which he believed an eminent one, he invited him to his home, and furnished him with the means of accomplishing this end. His ambition had often whispered to his young mind a proud future, and he commenced the acquisition of the education which was, as he felt, essential as a means of its attainment. In this he made rapid progress, and at the age of twenty-five graduated at the university of South Carolina. It was not long after graduating before he was admitted to the Bar, and commenced the practice of law in company with Eldridge Simpkins, at Edgefield Court House, who was, if I mistake not, at the time, a member of Congress.
The rise of McDuffie at the Bar was rapid; he had not practised three years before his position was by the side of the first minds of the State, and his name in the mouth of every one—the coming man of the South. It was probably owing to the defence made by him of William Taylor for the killing of Dr. Cheesboro, that he became famous as it were in a day. This case excited the people of the whole State of South Carolina. The parties were, so far as position was concerned, the first in the State. William Taylor was the brother of John Taylor, who at the time of the killing was Governor of the State. John Taylor, his grandfather, was a distinguished officer in the army of the Revolution: the family was wealthy, and extensively connected with the first families of the State. Cheesboro was a young physician of great promise and extensive practice. Jealousy was the cause of the killing, and was evidently groundless. The deed was done in the house of Taylor, in the city of Columbia, and was premeditated murder. Mrs. Taylor was a lovely woman and highly connected. In her manners she was affable and cordial; she was a great favorite in society, and her universal popularity attracted to her the host of friends who so much admired her. Dr. Cheesboro was one of these, and the green-eyed monster made him, in the convictions of Taylor, the especial favorite of his wife. McDuffie was employed in his defence, and he made a most triumphant success against evidence, law, and justice. His speech to the jury was most effective. The trial had called to Columbia many persons connected with the family; and all were interested to save from an ignominious death their relative. This, it was thought, could only be done by the sacrifice of the wife's reputation. This would not only ruin forever this estimable lady, but reflect a stain upon her extensive and respectable connections. She was appealed to, to save her husband's life with the sacrifice of her fame. In the consciousness of innocence, she refused with Spartan firmness to slander her reputation by staining her conscience with a lie. Her friends stood by her; and when hope had withered into despair, and the possibility gone forever of saving him by this means, the eloquence of McDuffie and the influence of family were invoked, and successfully.
In the examination of the witnesses he showed great tact, and successfully kept from the jury facts which would have left them no excuse for a verdict of acquittal. But it was in his address that his great powers made themselves manifest. The opening was impassioned and powerful. Scarcely had he spoken ten minutes before the Bench, the Bar, the jury, and the audience were in tears, and, during the entire speech, so entirely did he control the feelings of every one who heard him, that the sobs from every part of the courtroom were audible above the sounds of his voice. When he had concluded, the jury went weeping from the box to the room of their deliberations, and soon returned a verdict of acquittal.
This effort established the fame of McDuffie as an orator and man of great mental powers. Fortunately at that time it was the pride of South Carolina to call to her service the best talent in all the public offices, State and national, and with one acclaim the people demanded his services in Congress. Mr. Simpkins, the incumbent from the Edgefield district, declined a re-election, that his legal partner, Mr. McDuffie, might succeed him, and he was chosen by acclamation. He came in at a time when talent abounded in Congress, and when the country was deeply agitated with the approaching election for President. Almost immediately upon his entering Congress an altercation occurred upon the floor of the House between him and Mr. Randolph, which resulted in the discomfiture of Mr. Randolph, causing him to leave the House in a rage, with the determination to challenge McDuffie. This, however, when he cooled, he declined to do. This rencontre of wit and bitter words gave rise to an amusing incident during its progress.
Jack Baker, the wag and wit of Virginia, was an auditor in the gallery of the House. Randolph, as usual, was the assailant, and was very severe. McDuffie replied, and was equally caustic, and this to the astonishment of every one; for all supposed the young member was annihilated—as so many before had been by Randolph—and would not reply. His antagonist was completely taken aback, and evidently felt, with Sir Andrew Ague-cheek: "Had I known he was so cunning of fence, I had seen him damned ere I had fought him." But he was in for it, and must reply. His rejoinder was angry, and wanting in his usual biting sarcasm. McDuffie rose to reply, and, pausing, seemed to hesitate, when Baker from the gallery audibly exclaimed: "Lay on, McDuff, and damned be he who first cries hold, enough!" The silence which pervaded the chamber was broken by a general laugh, greatly disconcerting Randolph, but seeming to inspire McDuffie, who went on in a strain of vituperation witheringly pungent, in the midst of which Mr. Randolph left his seat and the House. Here was a triumph few had enjoyed. Not even Bayard, in his famous attack upon Randolph, when the latter first came into Congress, had won so much. Every one seemed delighted. The newspapers heralded it to the country, and McDuffie had a national reputation. Everything seemed propitious for his fame, and every friend of Mr. Calhoun felt that he had a champion in his protege, who, in good service, would return him fourfold for his noble generosity to the boy.
The contest with Cumming whetted more sharply the edge of the animosity between Georgia and South Carolina. The two were considered the champions of their respective States, as also the chosen knights of their respective friends—Crawford and Calhoun. The States and the friends of the parties in this quarrel very soon arrayed themselves in antagonism, which was made personal on many occasions, and between many parties. The young were especially prominent in their demonstrations of hostile feeling, not excepting the belles of the respective States. Between them, I believe, it never went beyond words; but they were frequent in conflict, and sometimes very bitter and very witty ones escaped from lovely lips, attesting that the face of beauty was underlaid with passion's deformity. With the young gallants it went to blows, and, on a few occasions, to more deadly strife; and always marred the harmony of the association where there were young representatives of both States. On one occasion of social meeting at a public dinner-party in Georgia, a young South Carolinian gave as a sentiment: "George McDuffie—the pride of South Carolina." This was immediately responded to by Mirabeau B. Lamar, the late President of Texas, who was then young, and a great pet of his friends, with another: "Colonel William Cumming—
"The man who England's arms defied, A bar to base designers; Who checked alike old Britain's pride And noisy South Carolina's."
The wit of the impromptu was so fine and the company so appreciative, that, as if by common consent, all enjoyed it, and good feeling was not disturbed.
McDuffie was not above the middle size. His features were large and striking, especially his eyes, forehead, and nose. The latter was prominent and aquiline. His eyes were very brilliant, blue, and deeply set under a massive brow—his mouth large, with finely chiselled lips, which, in meeting, always wore the appearance of being compressed. In manners he was retiring without being awkward. His temperament was nervous and ardent, and his feelings strong. His manner when speaking was nervous and impassioned, and at times fiercely vehement, and again persuasive and tenderly pathetic, and in every mood he was deeply eloquent.
In the after period of life these antagonists were, through the instrumentality of a noble-hearted Hibernian, reconciled, and sincerely so—both regretting the past, and willing to bury its memory in social intimacy. McDuffie married Miss Singleton, of South Carolina, one of the loveliest and most accomplished ladies of the State.
Owing to the wound received in the duel with Cumming, his nervous system suffered, and finally his brain. The ball remained imbedded in the spine, and pressed upon the spinal chord. An attempt to remove it, the surgeons determined, would be more hazardous to life than to permit it to remain. There was no remedy. From its effects his mind began to decay, and finally perished, leaving him, long before his death, a melancholy imbecile. In all the relations of life this great man was faithful to his duties—a devoted husband, a sincere friend, a kind neighbor, and a considerate and indulgent master to his slaves. He was one of those rare creations for which there is no accounting. None of his family evinced more than very ordinary minds; nor can there be traced in his ancestry one after whom his nature and abilities were marked. His morals were as pure and elevated as his intellect was grand and comprehensive, and his soul was as lofty and chivalrous as the Chevalier Bayard's. His fame is too broad to be claimed alone by South Carolina. Georgia is proud of giving him birth, and the nation cherishes his glory.
FIFTY YEARS AGO.
GOVERNOR MATHEWS—INDIANS—TOPOGRAPHY OF MIDDLE GEORGIA—A NEW COUNTRY AND ITS SETTLERS—BEAUX AND BELLES—EARLY TRAINING—JESUIT TEACHERS—A MOTHER'S INFLUENCE—THE JEWS—HOMELY SPORTS—THE COTTON GIN— CAMP-MEETINGS.
Immediately subsequent to the Revolution, all the country northwest of the Ogeechee River, in the middle portion of the State of Georgia, was divided into two counties, Franklin and Wilkes. It was a wilderness, and contiguous to both the Creek and Cherokee Indian nations. No country in the world was more beautiful in its topography, and few more fertile in soil. Governor Mathews had purchased a home in this region; and being at this time the principal man in the up-country, attracted to his neighborhood the emigrants who began to come into the country.
Mathew's Revolutionary services in the command of a regiment in the Virginia line were eminent; and his character for intrepidity naturally made him a leader among such men as were likely to seek and make homes in a new country.
Surrounded not only with all the difficulties presented to him by the unsubdued wilderness, but the perils of savage warfare, he unflinchingly went forward in his enterprise, daring and conquering every obstacle nature and the savages interposed. He was an uneducated man; but of strong mind, ardent temperament, and most determined will. Many anecdotes are related of his intrepidity, self-respect, and unbending will. He was a native of Augusta County, Virginia, and emigrated to Georgia about the same time that Elijah Clarke came from North Carolina and settled in that portion of the new territory now known as Clarke County.
These two remarkable men formed a nucleus for those of their respective States who came at subsequent periods to make a home in Georgia. They were models to the youth of their respective neighborhoods, and gave tone to the character of the population for many years after they were in their graves. About the same time, the Earlys came from Virginia, and the Abercrombies from North Carolina, and located respectively in the new counties of Greene and Hancock. They were all men of strong character, and all exercised great influence with those who accompanied or came to them at a subsequent period.
Among the very first to locate in Greene County was Colonel David Love, from North Carolina, and soon after came the Nesbits, Jacksons, and Hortons; all of whom settled upon the head-waters of the Ogeechee and upon Shoulderbone Creek.
The country was very attractive, the soil very generous, the water good, and the health remarkable. The general topography of Middle Georgia (as that portion of Georgia is now termed) is unsurpassed by any other portion of the State for beauty—hill and dale, the one not rising many feet above the other, generally with beautiful slopes, and scarcely at any place with so much abruptness as to forbid cultivation. Upon these lovely acclivities were built the cabins of the emigrants, at the base of which, and near the house, was always to be found a fountain of pure, sweet water, gushing and purling away over sand and pebbles, meandering through a valley which it fertilized, and which abounds in shrubs flowering in beauty, and sheltered by forests of oak, hickory, pine, and gum.
Those who first came were frequently compelled to unite in a settlement at some selected point, and, for defence against the inroads of the savages, were obliged to build stockade forts, with blockhouses.
Nature seems to have prepared, during the Revolution, men for subduing the wilderness and its savage inhabitants. They cheerfully encountered all the difficulties and hazards thus presented, and constantly pursued their object to its consummation. They came from every section of the older communities, and all seemed animated with the same spirit. They were orderly, but rude; and though beyond the pale of the law, they were a law unto themselves; and these laws were strictly enforced by a public opinion which gave them being and efficiency. With remarkably simple habits and very limited opportunities, their wants were few; and these were supplied by their own industry and frugality upon the farm. Their currency was silver coin, Spanish milled, and extremely limited in quantity. The little trade carried on was principally by barter, and social intercourse was confined almost exclusively to the Sabbath. The roads were rough and uneven, consisting almost entirely of a way sufficiently wide for an ox-cart to pass, cut through the forest, where the stumps and stones remained; and in soft or muddy places, the bodies of small trees or split rails were placed side by side, so as to form a sort of bridge or causeway, so rough as to test and not unfrequently to destroy the wheels of the rude vehicles of the country. These obtained and to this day receive the sobriquet of Georgia railroads or corduroy turnpikes.
Very few of these immigrants were independent of labor; and most of them devoted six days of the week to the cultivation of a small farm and its improvement. Children learned early to assist in this labor, and those who were sent to school, almost universally employed the Saturday of each week in farm-work.
Man's social nature induces aggregation into communities, which stimulates an ambition to excel in every undertaking. From this emulation grows excellence and progress in every laudable enterprise. These small communities, as they grew from accessions coming into the country, began to build rude places for public worship, which were primitive log-cabins, and served as well the purposes of a school-house. Here the adult population assembled on the Sabbath, and the children during the week. This intercourse, together with the dependence of every one at times for neighborly assistance, was greatly promotive of harmony and mutual confidence. Close and familiar acquaintance revealed to all the peculiar character of every one—the virtuous and the vicious, the energetic or the indolent, the noble and the ignoble—and all very soon came to be appreciated according to their merit.
Rude sports constituted the amusements of the young—wrestling, leaping, and hunting; and he who was most expert at these was the neighborhood's pride: he rode from church with the prettiest girl, and was sure to be welcomed by her parents when he came; and to be selected by such an one was to become the neighborhood's belle. At log-rollings, quiltings, and Saturday-night frolics, he was the first and the most admired.
The girls, too, were not without distinction—she who could spin the greatest number of cuts of cotton, or weave the greatest number of yards of cloth, was most distinguished, and most admired; but especially was she distinguished who could spin and weave the neatest fabric for her own wear, of white cloth with a turkey-red stripe—cut, and make it fit the labor-rounded person and limbs—or make, for father's or brother's wear, the finest or prettiest piece of jean—cook the nicest dinners for her beau, or dance the longest without fatigue.
The sexes universally associated at the same school, (a system unfortunately grown out of use,) and grew up together with a perfect knowledge of the disposition, temperament, and general character of each other. And, as assuredly as the boy is father to the man, the girl is mother to the woman; and these peculiarities were attractive or repulsive as they differed in individuals, and were always an influence in the selection of husbands and wives. The prejudices of childhood endure through life, particularly those toward persons. They are universally predicated upon some trait of manner or character, and these, as in the boy perceived, are ever prominent in the man. So, too, with the girl, and they only grow with the woman. This is a paramount reason why parties about contracting marriage-alliances should be well aware of whom they are about to select. The consequence of this intercommunication of the sexes from childhood, in the primitive days of Georgia's first settlement, was seen in the harmony of families. In the age which followed, a separation or divorce was as rare as an earthquake; and when occurring, agitated the whole community. For then a marriage was deemed a life-union, for good or for evil, and was not lightly or inconsiderately entered into.
The separation of the sexes in early youth, and especially at school, destroys or prevents in an eminent degree the restraining influences upon the actions of each other, and that tender desire for the society of each other, which grows from childhood's associations. Brought together at school in early life, when the mind and soul are receiving the impressions which endure through life, they naturally form intimacies, and almost always special partialities and preferences. Each has his or her favorite, these partialities are usually reciprocal, and their consequence is a desire on the part of each to see the other excel. To accomplish this, children, as well as grown people, will make a greater effort than they will simply to succeed or to gratify a personal ambition to that effect. Thus they sympathize with and stimulate each other. Every Georgia boy of fifty years ago, with gray-head and tottering step now, remembers his sweetheart, for whom he carried his hat full of peaches to school, and for whom he made the grape-vine swing, and how at noon he swung her there.
'T is bonny May; and I to-day Am wrinkled seventy-four, Still I enjoy, as when a boy, Much that has gone before.
Is it the leaves and trees, or sheaves Of yellow, ripened grain, Which wake to me, in memory, My boyhood's days again?
These seem to say 't is bonny May, As when they sweetly grew, And gave their yield, in wood and field, To me, when life was new.
But nought beside—ah, woe betide!— Which grew with me is here— The home, the hall, the mill, the all Which young life holds so dear.
The school-house, spring, and little thing, With eyes so bright and blue, Who'd steal away with me and play When school's dull hours were through,
Are memories now; and yet, oh! how It seems but yesterday Since I was there, with that sweet dear, In the wild wood at play.
The hill was steep where we would leap; The grape-vine swing hung high, And I would throw the swing up so That, startled, she would cry.
But though she cried, she still relied (And seemed to have no fear) On me to hold the swing, and told Me "not to frighten her."
But I was wild, and she no child, And not afraid, I deemed; So tossed as high the swing as I Could—when she fell and screamed.
She was not harmed; but I, alarmed, Ran quickly to assist, And lifted her, all pale with fear, Within my arms, and kissed
Her pallid cheek, ere she could speak: But I had seen, you know, (Ah! what of this? that sight and kiss Was fifty years ago,)
That little boot and pretty foot, So neatly formed and small— The swelling calf, and stifled laugh— How I remember all!
That lovely one has long since gone, Is dust, and only dust, now; Yet I recall that swing and fall, As though it had been just now.
Take these lines, reader, if you please, as an evidence of how the memories growing out of the associations of boyhood's school-days endure through life. This association of the sexes operates as a restraint upon both, salutary to good conduct and good morals. Such restraints are far more effective than the staid lessons of some old, wrinkled duenna of a school-mistress, whose failure to find a sweetheart in girlhood, or a husband in youthful womanhood, has soured her toward every man, and filled her with hatred for the happiness she witnesses in wedded life, and which is ever present all around her. Her warnings are in violation of nature. She has forgotten she was ever young or inspired with the feelings and hopes of youth. Men are monsters, and marriage a hell upon earth. Girls will not believe this, and will get married. How much better, then, that they should cultivate, in association, the generous and natural feelings of the heart, and during the period allotted by nature for the growth of the feelings natural to the human bosom, as well as to the growth of the person and mind, than to be told what they should be by one disappointed of all the fruits of them, and hating the world because she is! It is the mother who should form the sentiments and direct the conduct of daughters, and in their teachings should never forget that nature is teaching also. Let their lessons always teach the proper indulgences of nature, as well as the proper and prudent restraints to the natural feelings of the human heart, and so deport themselves toward their daughters from infancy as to win their confidence and affection. The daughters, when properly trained, will always come with their little complaints in childhood, and seek consolation, leaning upon the parent's knee, and, with solicitude, look up into the parental face for sympathy and advice. Home-teaching and home-training makes the proper woman. When this is properly attended to, there needs no boarding-school or female-college finish, which too frequently uproots every virtuous principle implanted by the careful and affectionate teaching of pious, gentle, and intelligent mothers. But few mothers, who are themselves properly trained, forget nature in the training and education of their daughters; and a truly natural woman is a blessing to society and a crown of glory to her husband. I mean by a natural training a knowledge of herself, as well as a knowledge of the offices of life and the domestic duties of home. Every woman in her girlhood should learn from her mother the mission and destinies of woman, as well as what is due to society, to their families, to themselves, and to God. The woman who enters life with a knowledge of what life is, and what is due to her and from her in all the relations of life, has a thousand chances for happiness through life unknown to the belle of the boarding-school, who, away from home influences, is artificially educated to be in all things prominent before the world, and entirely useless in the discharge of domestic duties. She may figure as the lady-president or vice-president of charitable associations, or the lady-president of some prominent or useless society; but never as a dutiful, devoted wife, or affectionate, instructive mother to her children. Her household is managed by servants, and about her home nothing evinces the neat, provident, and attentive housewife.
The whole system of education, as practised by the Protestants of the United States, is wrong; religious prejudice prevents their learning from the Catholics, and particularly from the Jesuit Catholics, who are far in advance of their Protestant brethren. They learn from the child as they teach the child. In the first place, none are permitted to teach who are not by nature, as well as by education, qualified to teach; nature must give the gentleness, the kindness, and the patience, with the capacity to impart instruction. They learn, first, the child's nature, the peculiarities of temper, and fashion these to obedience and affection; they first teach the heart to love—not fear; they warn against the evils of life—teach the good, and the child's duties to its parents, to its brothers and sisters, to its teachers, to its playmates, and to its God. When the heart is mellowed and yields obedience in the faithful discharge of these duties, and the brain sufficiently matured to comprehend the necessity of them, then attention is directed to the mind; its capacities are learned and known, and it is treated as this knowledge teaches is proper: it is, as the farmer knows, the soil of his cultivation, and is prepared by careful tillage before the seed is sown. The vision of the child's mind is by degrees expanded; the horizon of its knowledge is enlarged, and still the heart's culture goes on in kindness and affection. The pupil has learned to love the teacher, and receives with alacrity his teaching; he goes to him, without fear, for information on every point of duty in morals, as on every difficult point of literary learning. He knows he will be received kindly, and dealt with gently. Should he err, he is never rebuked in public, nor harshly in private; the teacher is aggrieved, and in private he kindly complains to the offender, whose love for his preceptor makes him to feel, and repent, and to err no more. All this is only known to the two; his school-fellows never know, and have no opportunity for triumph or raillery. Thus taught from the cradle, principles become habits; and on these, at maturity, he is launched upon the world, with every safeguard for his future life. So with the girl. With the experience of forty-five years, the writer has never known a vicious, bad woman, wife, or mother trained in a Jesuit convent, or reared by an educated Catholic mother.
The daughters of the pioneers of Georgia's early settlements received a home education; at least, in the duties of domestic life. In the discharge of these duties, they gained robust constitutions and vigorous health; they increased the butcher's bill at the expense of the doctor's; and such women were the mothers of the men who have made a history for their country, for themselves and their mothers. I may be prolix and prosaic, but I love to remember the mothers of fifty years ago—she who gave birth to Lucius Q.C. and Mirabeau B. Lamar, to William C. Dawson, Bishop George Pierce, Alexander Stuart, Joseph Lumpkin, and glorious Bob Toombs. I knew them all, and, with affectionate delight, remember their virtues, and recall the social hours we have enjoyed together, when they were matrons, and I the companion of their sons. And now, when all are gone, and time is crowding me to the grave, the nobleness of their characters, the simplicity of their bearing in the discharge of their household duties, and the ingenuousness of their manners in social intercourse, is a cherished, venerated memory. None of these women were ever in a boarding-school, never received a lesson in the art of entering a drawing-room or captivating a beau. They were sensible, modest, and moral women, and their virtues live after them in the exalted character of their illustrious sons. Their literary education in early life was, of necessity, neglected, because of the want of opportunities; but in the virtues and duties of life, they were thoroughly educated; and none of these, or any of their like, was ever Mrs. President or Secretary of any pretentious or useless society or association.
The little education or literature they acquired was in the old log school-house, where boys and girls commingled as pupils under the teaching of some honest pedagogue, who aspired to teach only reading, writing, and arithmetic, in a simple way. It must not be supposed, from the foregoing remarks, that I object to female education; on the contrary, I would have every woman an educated woman. But I would have this education an useful and proper education; one not wholly ornamental and of no practical use, but one obtained at home, and under the parental care and influence—such an one as made Mrs. Ripley, of Concord, Massachusetts, the wonder and admiration of every sensible man. She who studied La Place's Mecanique Celeste when she was making biscuit for her breakfast, and who solved a problem in the higher mathematics when darning her stockings; an education where the useful may be taught and learned to grace the ornamental—where the harp and piano shall share with the needle and the cooking-stove, and the pirouettes of the dancing-master shall be only a step from the laundry and the kitchen.
The duties of wives and mothers are to home, husband, and children; and this includes all of woman's duty to the country, and in the intelligent and faithful discharge of which the great ends of life are subserved. Good neighborhood, good government, and happy communities secure the implanting and cultivation of good principles, and the proper teaching of proper duties. The wise direction of literary education to sons and to daughters, all comes within the range of home, and home duties especially incumbent upon mothers. The domestic duties and domestic labors should be a prime consideration in the education of daughters. The association of the mother and child from birth, until every principle which is to guide and govern it through life is implanted, makes it the duty of the mother to know the right, and to teach it, too. Example and precept should combine; and this necessity compels a constant watch, not only over the child's, but over the mother's language and conduct. All these duties imply a close devotion to home: for here is the germ which is to grow into good or into evil, as it is nursed and cultivated, or wickedly neglected. Begin at the beginning, if you would accomplish well your work; and to do this, application and assiduity are indispensable; and these are duties only to be discharged at home. They admit of a relaxation of time sufficient for every social duty exacted by society, if that society is such as it should be; and if not, it should neither occupy time not attention.
In this is comprised all woman's duties, and they are paramount; for upon their successful application depend the well-being of society and the proper and healthful administration of wise and salutary laws. The world is indebted to woman for all that is good and great. Let every woman emulate Cornelia, the Roman mother, and, when a giddy, foolish neighbor runs to her to exhibit newly purchased jewels, be found, like the Roman matron, at her tambour-work; and like her, too, when her boys from school shall run to embrace her, say to the thoughtless one, "These are my jewels!" and Rome will not alone boast of her Gracchi and their incomparable mother.
The duties of home cultivate reflection and stimulate to virtue. For this reason, women are more pious than men; and for this reason, too, they are more eminent in purity. Contact with the domestic circle does not contaminate or corrupt, as the baser contact with the world is sure to do.
The home circle is select and chaste—the promiscuous intermingling with the world meretricious and contaminating. The mother not trained to the appreciation and discharge of the domestic duties, was never the mother of a great representative mind; because she is incapable of imparting those stern principles of exalted morality and fixity of purpose essential in forming the character of such men. The mother of Cincinnatus was a farmer's wife; of Leonidas, a shepherdess; and the mothers of Washington, Webster, Clay, Calhoun, William H, Crawford, and Andrew Jackson were all the wives of farmers—rural and simple in their pursuits, distinguished for energy and purity; constant in their principles, and devoted to husband, home, and children. They never dreamed it was woman's vocation or duty to go out into the world and mingle in its strifes and contentions—but at home, to view them, reflect upon their consequences to society, and upon the future of their sons and daughters, and warn them what to emulate and what to shun. They, as did their husbands, felt the necessity of preserving that delicacy of thought and action which is woman's ornament, and which is more efficient in rebuking licentiousness and profligacy in the young and the old than all the teaching of the schools without such example. Such were the mothers of the great and the good of our land, and such the mothers of those men now prominent and distinguished in the advocacy and support of the great principles of natural rights and humanity.
It is a mooted question whether the purposes of human life demand a high, classical education among the masses; or whether the general happiness is promoted by such education. In the study of the human mind in connection with human wants, we are continually met with difficulties arising from the want of education; and quite as frequently with those resulting from education. So much so, that we hear from every wise man the declaration that as many minds are ruined by over-education as from the want of education.
Man's curse is to labor. This labor must of necessity be divided to subserve the wants of society—and common sense would teach that each should be educated as best to enable him to perform that labor which may fall to his lot in life. But who shall determine this lot? Every day's experience teaches the observant and thinking man that no one individual is uselessly born. To deny this proposition would be to call in question the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. Every one possesses proclivities for some one avocation, and should be educated for its pursuit. This is manifested in very early life; in some much more palpably than in others. This is always the case when the aptitude is decisive. In such cases this idiosyncrasy will triumph over every adverse circumstance, educational or otherwise; but in the less palpable, it will not; and the design of nature may, and indeed constantly is, disappointed, and improper education and improper pursuits given. In these pursuits or callings, the person thus improperly placed there never succeeds as he would had his bent or mental inclination been observed, and his education directed to it, and he given to its pursuit. Such persons labor through life painfully; they have no taste or inclination for the profession, business, or trade in which they are engaged; its pursuit is an irksome, thankless labor; while he who has fallen into nature's design, and is working where his inclinations lead, labors happily, because he labors naturally. These inclinations the parent or guardian should observe; and when manifested, should direct the education for the calling nature has designed. Idiosyncrasies are transmissible or inherited. In old and populous communities, where every pursuit or profession is full, the father generally teaches his own to his son or sons. Where this has extended through three or four generations, the proclivity is generally strongly marked, and in very early childhood made manifest. Thus, in the third or fourth generation, where all have been blacksmiths, the child will be born with the muscles of the right arm more developed than those of the left, and the first plaything he demands is a hammer. So, where a family have been traders, will the offspring naturally discover an aptness for bargaining and commerce. This is illustrated in the instincts of the Jews, a people of extraordinary brain and wonderful tenacity of purpose. Five thousand years since, a small fragment of the Semitic race, residing in Mesopotamia between the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris, consisting of two families, came into the land of Canaan, in Asia Minor; from them have descended the people known as Jews. The country over which they spread, and which is known as Judea, is not more than four hundred miles long by two hundred and fifty in breadth, situated between two populous and powerful empires, the Assyrian and Egyptian, who, waging war too frequently, made the land of Judea their battle-field, and its people the objects of persecution and oppression. The earnings of their labor were deemed legitimate prey by both, and taken wherever found: they were led into captivity by the Assyrians and by the Egyptians, enslaved, and denied the legal right to possess the soil—which, to the everlasting disgrace of Christian Europe, was a restriction upon this wonderful people until within the present century. A blind bigotry would have blotted them from the face of the earth, but for that energy, talent, and enterprise possessed by them in a superior degree to any people upon the globe. Inspired by a sublime belief that they were the chosen people of God, no tyranny nor oppression could subdue their energies. They prayed and labored, went forward with untiring determination, upheld by their faith, and always, under the direst distress, found comfort from this belief and the fruits of incessant labor. The soil of their loved Canaan was barren, and yielded grudgingly to the most persistent labor. This drove them to trade, and an extended intercourse with the world. Without a national government of sufficient power to protect them when robbed by the people or the governments surrounding their own, they were compelled, for self-protection, to resort to every means of concealing the earnings of their enterprise and superior knowledge and skill from Christian and pagan alike. They gave value to the diamond, that in a small stone, easy of concealment, immense wealth might be hidden. They invented the bill of exchange, by which they could at pleasure transfer from one country to another their wealth, and avoid the danger of spoliation from the hand of power and intolerance. Without political or civil rights in any but their own country, they were compelled to the especial pursuit of commerce for centuries, and we now see that seven-tenths of all Jews born, as naturally turn to trade and commerce as the infant to the breast. It has become an instinct.
To these persecutions the world is probably indebted for the developments of commerce—the bringing into communication the nations of the earth for the exchange of commodities necessary to the use and comfort of each other, not of the growth or production of each, enlarging the knowledge of all thus communicating, and teaching that civilization which is the enlightenment and the blessing of man—ameliorating the savage natures of all, and teaching that all are of God, and equally the creatures of His love and protection; and leading also to that development of mind in the Israelite which makes him conspicuous to-day above any other race in the great attributes of mind—directing the policy of European governments—first at the Bar, first in science, first in commerce, first in wealth—preserving the great traits of nationality without a nation, and giving tone, talent, wealth, and power to all.
A few men only are born to think. Their minds expand with education, and their usefulness is commensurate with it. This few early evince a proclivity so strong for certain avocations as to enable those who have the direction of their future to educate them for this pursuit. This proclivity frequently is so overpowering as to prompt the possessor, when the early education has been neglected, to educate himself for this especial idiosyncrasy. This was the case with Newton—with Stevenson, the inventor of the locomotive-engine, who, at twenty years of age, was ignorant even of his letters. Arkwright was a barber, and almost entirely illiterate when he invented the spinning-jenny. Train, the inventor of the railroad, was, at the time of its invention, a coal-heaver, and entirely illiterate.
These cases are rare, however. The great mass of mankind are born to manual labor, and only with capacities suited for it. To attempt to cultivate such minds for eminent purposes would be folly. Even supposing they could be educated—which is scarcely supposable, for it would seem a contravention of Heaven's fiat—they could no more apply this learning, which would simply be by rote, than they could go to the moon. Such men are not unfrequently met with, and are designated, by common consent, learned fools. Nature points out the education they should receive. In like manner with those of higher and nobler attributes, educate them for their pursuits in life. It requires not the same education to hold a plough, or drive an ox, that it does to direct the course of a ship through a trackless sea, or to calculate an eclipse; and what is essential to the one is useless to the other.—But I am wandering away from the purpose of this work. Turning back upon the memories of fifty years ago, and calling up the lives and the histories of men, and women too, I have known, I was led into these reflections, and ere I was aware they had stolen from my pen.
The rude condition of a country is always imparted to the character of its people, and out of this peculiarity spring the rough sports and love of coarse jokes and coarse humor. No people ever more fully verified this truth than the Georgians, and to-day, even among her best educated, the love of fun is a prevailing trait. Her traditions are full of the practical jokes and the practical jokers of fifty years ago. The names of Dooly, Clayton, Prince, Bacon, and Longstreet will be remembered in the traditions of fun as long as the descendants of their compatriots continue to inhabit the land. The cock-fight, the quarter-race, and the gander-pulling are traditions now, and so is the fun they gave rise to; and I had almost said, so is the honesty of those who were participants in these rude sports. Were they not more innocent outlets to the excessive energies of a mercurial and fun-loving people than the faro-table and shooting-gallery of to-day? Every people must have their amusements and sports, and these, unrestrained, will partake of the character of the people and the state of society. Sometimes the narrow prejudices of bigoted folly will inveigh against these, and insist upon their restraint by law; and these laws, in many of the States, remain upon the statute-book a rebuking evidence of the shameless folly of fanatical ignorance. Of these, the most conspicuous are the blue-laws of Connecticut, and the more absurd and criminal laws of Massachusetts against amusements not only necessary, but healthful and innocent. Even in the present advanced state of knowledge and civilization, do we occasionally hear ranted from the pulpit denunciations of dancing, as a sinful and God-offending amusement. Such men should not be permitted to teach or preach—it is to attenuate folly and fanaticism, to circumscribe the happiness of youth, and belie the Bible.
The emigrants to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia were all persons of like character, combining a mixture of English, Irish, and Scotch blood. They were enterprising, daring, and remarkable for great good sense. Rude from the want of education and association with a more polished people, they were nevertheless high-principled and full of that chivalrous spirit which prompts a natural courtesy, courts danger, and scorns the little and mean—open-handed in their generosity, and eminently candid and honest in all their intercourse and dealings with their fellow-men. These elements, collected from various sections, combined to form new communities in the wild and untamed regions. In their conflicts with the savages were shown a daring fearlessness and a high order of military talent in very many of the prominent leaders of the different settlements. They had no chronicler to note and record their exploits, and they exist now only in the traditions of the country.
The names of Shelby and Kenton, of Kentucky; of Davidson and Jackson, of Tennessee; of Clarke, Mathews, and Adams, of Georgia; Dale, of Alabama, and Claiborne, of Mississippi, live in the memory of the people of their States, together with those of Tipton, Sevier, Logan, and Boone, and will be in the future history of these States, with their deeds recorded as those whose enterprise, energy, and fearlessness won from the wilderness and the savage their fertile and delightful lands, to be a home and a country for their posterity.
The children of such spirits intermarrying, could but produce men of talent and enterprise, and women of beauty, intelligence, and virtue. In the veins of these ran only streams of blue blood—such as filled the veins of the leaders of the Crusades—such as warmed the hearts of the O'Neals and O'Connors, of Wallace and Bruce, and animated the bosoms of the old feudal barons of England, who extorted the great charter of human liberty from King John. There was no mixture of the pale Saxon to taint or dilute the noble current of the Anglo-Norman blood which flowed through and fired the hearts of these descendants of the nobility and gentry of Britain. They were the cavaliers in chivalry and daring, and despised, as their descendants despised, the Roundheads and their descendants, with their cold, dissembling natures, hypocritical in religion as faithless in friendship, without one generous emotion or ennobling sentiment.
It is not remarkable that conflict should ensue between races so dissimilar in a struggle to control the Government: true to the instincts of race, each contended for that which best suited their genius and wants; and not at all remarkable that all the generous gallantry in such a conflict should be found with the Celt, and all the cruel rapacity and meanness with the Saxon. Their triumph, through the force of numbers, was incomplete, until their enemies were tortured by every cruelty of oppression, and the fabric of the Government dashed to atoms. This triumph can only be temporary. The innate love of free institutions, universal in the heart of the Celtic Southerner, will yet unite all the races to retrieve the lost. This done, victory is certain.
The descendants of these pioneers have gone out to people the extended domain reaching around the Gulf, and are growing into strength, without abatement of the spirit of their ancestors. Very soon time and their energies will repair the disasters of the recent conflict; and reinvigorated, the shackles of the Puritan shall restrain no longer, when a fierce democracy shall restore the Constitution, and with it the liberty bequeathed by their ancestors.
With this race, fanaticism in religion has never known a place. Rational and natural, they have ever worshipped with the heart and the attributes of their faith. Truth, sincerity, love, and mercy have ever marked their characters. Too honest to be superstitious, and too sincere to be hypocrites, the concentrated love of freedom unites the race, and the hatred of tyranny will stimulate the blood which shall retrieve it from the dominion of the baser blood now triumphant and rioting in the ruin they have wrought.
In the beginning of the settlements, and as soon as fears of the inroads from the savages had subsided, attention was given to the selection of separate and extended homes over the country, to the opening of farms, and their cultivation. The first consideration was food and raiment. All of this was to be the production of the farm and home industry: grain enough was to be grown to serve the wants of the family for bread, and to feed the stock; for this was to furnish the meat, milk, and butter. Cotton enough to serve the wants of families, together with the wool from the flock, and some flax, were of prime consideration. All of this was prepared and manufactured into fabrics for clothing and bedding at home. The seed from the cotton was picked by hand; for, as yet, Whitney had not given them the cotton-gin. This work was imposed most generally upon the children of families, white and black, as a task at night, and which had to be completed before going to bed; an ounce was the usual task, which was weighed and spread before the fire; for it was most easily separated from the seed when warm and dry. Usually some petty rewards stimulated the work. In every family it was observed and commented upon, that these rewards excited the diligence of the white children, but were without a corresponding effect upon the black; and any one who has ever controlled the negro knows that his labor is only in proportion to the coercion used to enforce it. His capacity, physically, is equal to the white; but this cannot be bought, or he persuaded to exert it of himself, and is given only through punishment, or the fear of it. The removal of restraint is to him a license to laziness; and the hope of reward, or the cravings of nature, will only induce him to labor sufficiently to supply these for immediate and limited relief.
Stock of every kind except horses was left to find a support in the forest, and at that time, when their range was unlimited, they found it in abundance. Increasing wants stimulated the cultivation of a market crop to supply them, and indigo and tobacco were first resorted to. Tobacco was the principal staple, and the method of its transportation was extraordinary. As at the present day in Kentucky, it was pressed into very large hogsheads. Upon these were pinned large wooden felloes, forming the circle of a wheel around the hogshead at either end, and in the centre of each head a large pin was inserted. Upon these pins were attached shafts or thills, as to a cart, and to these teams, and thus the hogshead was rolled along rough roads and through streams for sometimes ninety miles to Augusta, for a market. When sold, the shafts were reserved, and upon these was then erected a sort of box, into which the few articles purchased were placed, and dragged home. These articles almost universally consisted of some iron and steel, and a little coffee and sugar, and sometimes a quarter of a pound of tea—universally termed store-tea, to distinguish it from that made from the root of the sassafras and the leaf of the cassia or tepaun-bush.
Cotton was, to some little extent, cultivated near the seaboard in Georgia and South Carolina, and cleaned of the seeds by a machine similar to that used at the present day for preparing the sea-island cotton for market. This was a tedious and troublesome method, and was incapable of doing the work to any very great extent. Indigo, of a superior quality to the American, was being produced in British India and Central America, and the competition was reducing the price to the cost of production. The same difficulty attended the growing of tobacco. Virginia and Maryland, with their abundance of labor, were competing, and cheapening the article to a price which made its production unprofitable. At this juncture, Whitney invented the cotton-gin, and the growth of cotton as a marketable crop commenced upon a more extended scale. In a few years it became general—each farmer growing more or less, according to his means. Some one man, most able to do so, erected a gin-house, first in a county, then in each neighborhood. These either purchased in the seed the cotton of their neighbors, or ginned it and packed it for a certain amount of toll taken from the cotton. This packing was done in round bales, and by a single man, with a heavy iron bar, and was a most laborious and tedious method; and the packages were in the most inconvenient form for handling and transportation.
Up to this time the slave-trade had been looked upon most unfavorably by the people of the South. Among the first sermons I remember to have heard, was one depicting the horrors of this trade. I was by my grandmother's side at Bethany, in Greene county, and, though a child, I remember, as if of yesterday, the description of the manner of capturing the African in his native wilds—how the mother and father were murdered, and the boys and the girls borne away, and how England was abused for the cruel inhumanity of the act. Although unused to the melting mood, the old lady wiped from her eyes a tear, whether in sorrow or sympathy for outraged humanity, or in compliment to the pathos and power of her favorite preacher, I was too young to know or have an opinion. I remember well, however, that she cried, for she pinched me most unmercifully for laughing at her, and at home spanked me for crying. Dear old grandmother! but yesterday I was at your grave, where you have slept fifty-two years, and if I laughed above thy mould at the memory of the many bouts we had more than sixty years ago, and, from the blue bending above, thy spirit looked down in wrath upon the unnatural outrage, be appeased ere I come; for I should fear to meet thee, even in heaven, if out of humor! The roses bloomed above you—sweet emblems of thy purity and rest—and there, close by you, were the pear-trees, planted by your hands, around the roots of which you gathered the rods of my reformation; for I was a truant child. You meant it all for my good, no doubt; but to me it was passing through purgatory then, to merit a future good in time. Ah! how well I remember it—all of it. Requiescat in pace. I had almost irreverently said, "Rest, cat, in peace."
It was at this period that the competition for accumulating money may be said to have commenced in Middle Georgia. Labor became in great demand, and the people began to look leniently upon the slave-trade. The marching of Africans, directly imported, through the country for sale, is a memory of sixty-five years ago. The demand had greatly increased, and, with this, the price. The trade was to cease in 1808, and the number brought over was daily augmenting, to hasten to make from the traffic as much money as possible before this time should arrive. The demand, however, was greater than could be supplied. From house to house they were carried for sale. They were always young men and women, or girls and boys, and their clothing was of the simplest kind. That of the men and boys consisted of drawers, only reaching midway the thigh, from the waist. The upper portions of the person and the lower extremities were entirely nude. The females wore a chemise reaching a few inches below the knee, leaving bare the limbs. This was adopted for the purpose of exposing the person, as much as decency would permit, for examination, so as to enable the purchaser to determine their individual capacity for labor. This examination was close and universal, beginning with an inspection of the teeth, which in these young savages were always perfect, save in those where they had been filed to a point in front. This was not uncommon with the males. It was then extended to the limbs, and ultimately to the entire person. They were devoid of shame, and yielded to this inspection without the slightest manifestation of offended modesty. At first they were indifferent to cooked food, and would chase and catch and eat the grasshoppers and lizards with the avidity of wild turkeys, and seemed, as those fowls, to relish these as their natural food.
From such is descended the race which our Christian white brothers of the North have, in their devotion to their duty to God and their hatred to us, made masters of our destiny. Our faith in the justice and goodness of the same Divine Being bids us believe this unnatural and destructive domination will not be permitted to endure for any lengthy period. Could the curtain which veiled out the future sixty years ago, have been lifted, and the vision of those then subduing the land been permitted to pierce and know the present of their posterity, they would then have achieved a separation from our puritanical oppressors, and built for themselves and their own race, even if in blood, a separate government, and have made it as nature intended it should be to this favored land—a wise and powerful one.
Sooner or later these intentions of Divine wisdom are consummated. The fallible nature of man, through ignorance or the foolish indulgence of bad passions in the many, enable the few to delude and control the many, and to postpone for a time the inevitable; but as assuredly as time endures, nature's laws work out natural ends. Generations may pass away, perhaps perish from violence, and others succeed with equally unnatural institutions, making miserable the race, until it, like the precedent, passes from the earth. Yet these great laws work on, and in the end triumph in perfecting the Divine will.
To the wise and observant this design of the Creator is ever apparent; to the foolish and wicked, never.
John Wesley had visited Savannah, and travelled through the different settlements then in embryo, teaching the tenets and introducing the simple worship of the church of his founding, after a method established by himself, and which gave name and form to the sect, now, and almost from its incipiency known as Methodist. This organization and the tenets of its faith were admirably suited to a rude people, and none perhaps could have been more efficient in forming and improving such morals. Unpretending, simple in form, devoid of show or ceremony, it appealed directly to the purer emotions of our nature, and through the natural devotion of the heart lifted the mind to the contemplation and inspired the soul with the love of God. Its doctrines, based upon the purest morality, easily comprehensible, and promising salvation to all who would believe, inspiring an enthusiasm for a pure life, were natural, and naturally soon became wide-spread, and as the writer believes, has done more in breaking away the shackles of ignorance and debasing superstition from the mind, than any other system of worship or doctrine of faith taught by man; and to this, in a great degree, is due the freedom of thought, independence of feeling and action, chivalrous bearing, and high honor of the Southern people. Inculcating as it does the simple teachings of the gospel of Christ,—to live virtuously—do no wrong—love thy neighbor as thyself, and unto all do as you would be done by,—a teaching easy of comprehension, and which, when sternly enforced by a pure and elevated public sentiment, becomes the rule of conduct, and society is blessed with harmony and right. This moral power is omnipotent for good, concentrating communities into one without divisions or dissensions, to be wielded for good at once and at all times. Nothing evil can result from such concentration of opinions being directed by the vicious and wicked, so long as the moral of this faith shall control the mind and heart.
Camp-meetings, an institution of this church, and which were first commenced in Georgia, are a tradition there now. Here and there through the country yet remains, in ruinous decay, the old stand or extemporized pulpit from which the impassioned preacher addressed the assembled multitude of anxious listeners; and around the square now overgrown with brush-wood and forest-trees, prostrate and rotten, the remains of the cabin tents may be seen, where once the hospitality of the owners and worshippers was dispensed with a heartiness and sincerity peculiar to the simple habits, and honest, kindly emotions of a rude and primitive people.
How well do I remember the first of these meetings I ever witnessed! I was a small lad, and rode behind my father on horseback to the ground. It was sixty-five years ago. The concourse was large, consisting of the people of all the country around—men, women, and children, white and black. Around a square enclosing some six acres of ground, the tents were arranged—arbors of green boughs cut from the adjoining forest formed a shelter from the sun's rays. In front of all of these, shading the entrance to the tent, under this friendly sheltering from the heat of the sun, assembled the owners and the guests of each, in social and unceremonious intercourse. This was strictly the habit of the young people; and here, in evening's twilight, has been plighted many a vow which has been redeemed by happy unions for life's journey, and to be consummated when the cold weather came. In the rear of the tents were temporary kitchens, presided over in most instances by some old, trusted aunty of ebon hue, whose pride it was to prepare the meals for her tent, and to hear her cooking praised by the preachers and the less distinguished guests of master and mistress. The sermons were preached in the morning, at noon, and at twilight, when all the multitude were summoned to the grand central stand in the square of the encampment by sounding a tin trumpet or ox-horn. My childish imagination was fired at the sight of this assemblage. My wonder was, whence come all these people? as converging from the radius around came the crowding multitude, without order and without confusion—the farmer and his brusque wife side by side, leading their flock and friends: he with an ample chair of home manufacture slung by his side for the wife's comfort as she devoutly listened to the pious brother's comforting sermon—the guests and the young of the family following in respectful silence, and at a respectful distance, all tending to the great arbor of bushes covering the place of worship. Over all the space of the encampment the under-brush had been carefully removed; but the great forest-trees (for these encampments were always in a forest) were left to shade as well as they might the pulpit-stand and grounds. All around was dense forest, wild and beautiful as nature made it.
How well the scene and the worship accorded! There was congruity in all—the woods, the tents, the people, and the worship. The impressions made that day upon my young mind were renewed at many a camp-meeting in after years; and so indelibly impressed as only to pass away with existence.
The preacher rose upon his elevated platform, and, advancing to the front, where a simple plank extending from tree to tree, before him, formed a substitute for a table or desk, where rested the hymn-book and Bible, commenced the service by reading a hymn, and then, line by line, repeating it, to be sung by all his congregation.
Whoever has listened, in such a place, amidst a great multitude, to the singing of that beautiful hymn commencing, "Come, thou fount of every blessing," by a thousand voices, all in accord, and not felt the spirit of devotion burning in his heart, could scarcely be moved should an angel host rend the blue above him, and, floating through the ether, praise God in song. In that early day of Methodism, very few of those licensed to preach were educated men. They read the Bible, and expounded its great moral truths as they understood them. Few of these even knew that it had been in part originally written in the Hebrew tongue, and the other portion in that of the Greeks; but he knew it contained the promise of salvation, and felt that it was his mission to preach and teach this way to his people, relying solely for his power to impress these wonderful truths upon the heart by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the sermons of the sect were never studied or written, and their excellence was their fervor and impassioned appeals to the heart and the wild imaginations of the enthusiastic and unlearned of the land. Genius, undisciplined and untutored by education, is fetterless, and its spontaneous suggestions are naturally and powerfully effective, when burning from lips proclaiming the heart's enthusiasm. Thus extemporizing orations almost daily, stimulated the mind to active thought, and very many of these illiterate young Methodist preachers became in time splendid orators.
It was the celebrated Charles James Fox who said to a young man just entering Parliament, if he desired to become a great orator, and had the genius and feeling from nature, all he had to do was to speak often and learn to think on his feet. It is to this practice the lawyer and the preacher owe the oratory which distinguish these above every other class of men. And yet, how few of them ever attain to the eminence of finished orators. Eloquence and oratory are by no means identical: one is the attribute of the heart, the other of the head; and eloquence, however unadorned, is always effective, because it is born of the feelings; and there is ever a sympathy between the hearts of men, and the words, however rude and original, which bubble up from the heart freighted with its feelings, rush with electrical force and velocity to the heart, and stir to the extent of its capacities. Oratory, however finished, is from the brain, and is an art; it may convince the mind and captivate the imagination, but never touches the heart or stirs the soul. To awaken feelings in others, we must feel ourselves. Eloquence is the volume of flame, oratory the shaft of polished ice; the one fires to madness, the other delights and instructs.
Religion is the pathos of the heart, and must be awakened from the heart's emotions. The imagination is the great attribute of the mind, gathering and creating thought and inspiring feeling. Hence, the peculiar system of the Methodists in their worship is the most efficient in proselyting, and especially with a rude, imaginative people.
The camp-meeting was an admirable device for this purpose, and its abandonment by the sect is as foolish as would be that of a knight who would throw away his sword as he was rushing to battle. Fashion is omnipotent in religion, as in other things, and with the more general diffusion of education, camp-meetings have come to be considered as vulgar and unfashionable. To be vulgar, is to be common; to be common, is to be natural. The masses, and especially in democratic communities, must always be vulgar or common—must always be, in the main, illiterate and rude; and it is for the conversion and salvation of these multitudes the preacher should struggle, and in his efforts his most efficient means should be used.
The camp-meeting, at night, when all the fire-stands are ablaze, and the multitude are assembled and singing, is beyond description picturesque: when, too, some eloquent and enthusiastic preacher is stimulating to intense excitement the multitude around him with the fervor of his words, and the wild, passionate manifestations of his manner, to see the crowd swaying to and fro, to hear the groans and sobs of the half-frenzied multitude, and, not unfrequently, the maddened shriek of hysterical fear, all coming up from the half-illuminated spot, is thrillingly exciting. And when the sermon is finished, to hear all this heated mass break forth into song, the wild melody of which floats, in the stillness of night, upon the breeze to the listening ear a mile away, in cadences mournfully sweet, make the camp-meeting among the most exciting of human exhibitions. In such a school were trained those great masters of pulpit oratory, Pierce, Wynans, Capers, and Bascomb. Whitfield was the great exemplar of these; but none, perhaps, so imitated his style and manner as John Newland Maffit and the wonderful Summerfield.
Like all that is great and enduring, the Methodist Church had its beginning among the humble and lowly. Rocked in the cradle of penury and ignorance, it was firmly fixed in the foundations of society, whence it rose from its own purity of doctrine and simplicity of worship to command the respect, love, and adoption of the highest in the land, and to wield an influence paramount in the destinies of the people and the Government. Its ministers are now the educated and eloquent of the Church militant. Its institutions of learning are the first and most numerous all over the South, and it has done for female education in the South more than every other sect of Christians, excepting, perhaps, the Roman Catholic. In the cause of education its zeal is enlisted, and its organization is such as to bring a wonderful power to operate upon the community in every section of the South and West. That this will accomplish much, we have only to look to the antecedents of the Church to determine. Like the coral insect, they never cease to labor: each comes with his mite and deposits it; and, from the humblest beginning, this assiduity and contribution builds up great islands in the sea of ignorance—rich in soil, salubrious in climate, and, finally, triumphant in the conceptions of the chief architect—completing for good the work so humbly begun.
PEDAGOGUES AND DEMAGOGUES.
EDUCATION—COLLEGES—SCHOOL-DAYS—WILLIAM AND MARY—A SUBSTITUTE— BOARDING AROUND—ROUGH DIAMONDS—CASTE—GEORGE M. TROUP—A SCOTCH INDIAN—ALEXANDER McGILVERY—THE McINTOSH FAMILY—BUTTON GWINNETT— GENERAL TAYLOR—MATTHEW TALBOT—JESSE MERCER—AN EXCITING ELECTION.
The subject of education engaged the attention of the people of Georgia at a very early day subsequent to the Revolution. Public schools were not then thought of; probably because such a scheme would have been impracticable. The population was sparse, and widely separated in all the rural districts of the country; and to have supplied all with the means of education, would have necessitated an expense beyond the power of the State. A system was adopted, of establishing and endowing academies in the different counties, at the county-seat, where young men who intended to complete a collegiate education might be taught, and the establishment and endowment of a college, where this education might be finished, leaving the rudimental education of the children of the State to be provided for by their parents, as best they could. Primary schools were gotten up in the different neighborhoods by the concentrated action of its members, and a teacher employed, and paid by each parent at so much per capita for his children. In these schools almost every Georgian—yes, almost every Southerner—commenced his education. It was at these schools were mingled the sexes in pursuit of their A, B, C, and the incidents occurring here became the cherished memories of after life. Many a man of eminence has gone out from these schools with a better education with which to begin life and a conflict with the world, than is obtained now at some of the institutions called colleges.
Young men without means, who had acquired sufficient of the rudiments of an English education, but who desired to pursue their studies and complete an education to subserve the purposes of the pursuit in life selected by them, frequently were the teachers in the primary schools. From this class arose most of those men so distinguished in her earlier history. Some were natives, and some were immigrants from other States, who sought a new field for their efforts, and where to make their future homes. Such were William H. Crawford, Abram Baldwin, and many others, whose names are now borne by the finest counties in the State—a monument to their virtues, talents, and public services, erected by a grateful people.
These primitive schools made the children of every neighborhood familiar to each other, and encouraged a homogeneous feeling in the rising population of the State. This sameness of education and of sentiment created a public opinion more efficacious in directing and controlling public morals than any statutory law, or its most efficient administration. It promoted an esprit du corps throughout the country, and formed the basis of that chivalrous emprise so peculiarly Southern.
The recollections of these school-days are full of little incidents confirmatory of these views. I will relate one out of a thousand I might enumerate. A very pretty little girl of eight years, full of life and spirit, had incurred, by some act of childish mischief, the penalty of the switch—the only and universal means of correction in the country schools. She was the favorite of a lad of twelve, who sat looking on, and listening to the questions propounded to his sweetheart, and learning the decision of the teacher, which was announced thus: "Well, Mary, I must punish you."
All eyes were directed to William. Deliberately he laid down his books, and, stepping quickly up to the teacher, said, respectfully: "Don't strike her. Whip me. I'll take it for her," as he arrested with his hand the uplifted switch. Every eye in that little log school-house brightened with approbation, and, in a moment after, filled with tears, as the teacher laid down his rod and said: "William, you are a noble boy, and, for your sake, I will excuse Mary." Ten years after, Mary was the wife—the dutiful, loving, happy wife of William; and William, twenty years after, was a member of the Legislature, and then a representative in Congress, (when it was an honor to a gentleman to be such,) and afterwards was for years a Senator in the same body—one of Georgia's noblest, proudest, and best men.
Can any one enumerate an instance where evil grew out of the early association of the sexes at school? In the neighborhoods least populous, and where there were but few children, the pedagogue usually divided the year into as many parts as he had pupils, and boarded around with each family the number of days allotted to each child. If he was a man of family, the united strength of the neighborhood assembled upon a certain day, and built for him a residence contiguous to the school-house, which was erected in like manner.
These buildings were primitive indeed—consisting of poles cut from the forest, and, with no additional preparation, notched up into a square pen, and floored and covered with boards split from a forest-tree near at hand. It rarely required more than two days to complete the cabin—the second being appropriated to the chimney, and the chinking and daubing; that is, filling the interstices with billets of wood, and make these air-tight with clay thrown violently in, and smoothed over with the hand. Such buildings constituted nine-tenths of the homes of the entire country sixty years ago; and in such substitutes for houses were born the men who have moved the Senate with their eloquence, and added dignity and power to the bench of the Supreme Court of the nation, startled the world with their achievements upon the battle-field, and more than one of them has filled the Presidential chair.
Men born and reared under such circumstances, receive impressions which they carry through life, and their characters always discover the peculiarities incident to such birth and rearing—rough and vigorous, bold and daring, and nobly independent, without polish or deceit, always sincere, and always honest.
However much the intellect may be cultivated in youth—however much it may be distinguished for great thoughts and wonderful attainments, still the peculiarities born of the forest cling about it in all its roughness—a fit setting to the unpolished diamond of the soul.
The rural pursuits of the country, and the necessities of the isolated condition of a pioneer population, which necessities are mainly supplied by ingenuity and perseverance on the part of each, creates an independence and self-reliance which enter largely into the formation of the general character. The institution of African slavery existing in the South, which came with the very first, pioneer, and which was continually on the increase, added to this independence the habit of command; and this, too, became a part of Southern character. The absolute control of the slave, placed by habit and law in the will of the master, made it necessary to enact laws for the protection of the slave against the tyrannical cruelties found in some natures; but the public sentiment was in this, as in all other things, more potent than law. Their servile dependence forbade resistance to any cruelty which might be imposed; but it excited the general sympathy, and inspired, almost universally, a lenient humanity toward them.
They were mostly born members of the household, grew up with the children of each family, were companions and playmates, and naturally an attachment was formed, which is always stronger in the protecting than the protected party. It was a rare instance to find a master whose guardian protection did not extend with the same intensity and effect over his slave as over his child: this, not from any motive of pecuniary interest, but because he was estopped by law from self-defence; and, too, because of the attachment and the moral obligation on the master to protect his dependants. Besides, the community exacted it as a paramount duty. It is human to be attached to whatever it protects and controls; out of this feeling grows the spirit of true chivalry and of lofty intent—that magnanimity, manliness, and ennobling pride which has so long characterized the gentlemen of the Southern States.
Caste, in society, may degrade, but, at the same time, it elevates. Where this caste was distinguished by master and slave, the distinction was most marked, because there was no intermediate gradation. It was the highest and the lowest. It was between the highest and purest of the races of the human family, and the lowest and most degraded; and this relation was free from the debasing influences of caste in the same race. An improper appreciation of this fact has gone far to create with those unacquainted with negro character the prejudices against the institution of African slavery, and which have culminated in its abolition in the Southern States.
The negro is incapacitated by nature from acquiring the high intelligence of the Caucasian. His sensibilities are extremely dull, his perceptive faculties dim, and the entire organization of his brain forbids and rejects the cultivation necessary to the elimination of mind. With a feeble moral organization, and entirely devoid of the higher attributes of mind and soul so prominent in the instincts of the Caucasian, his position was never, as a slave, oppressive to his mind or his sense of wrong. He felt, and to himself acknowledged his inferiority, and submitted with alacrity to the control of his superior. Under this control, his moral and intellectual cultivation elevated him: not simply to a higher position socially, but to a higher standard in the scale of being, and this was manifested to himself at the same time it demonstrated to him the natural truth of his inferiority. This gratified him, promoted his happiness, and he was contented. The same effect of the relation of master and servant can never follow when the race is the same, or even when the race is but one or two degrees inferior to the dominant one.
The influence of this relation upon the white race is marked in the peculiarities of character which distinguish the people of the South. The habit of command, where implicit obedience is to follow, ennobles. The comparison is inevitable between the commander and him who obeys, and, in his estimation, unconsciously elevates and degrades. This between the white man and negro, is only felt by the white. The negro never dreams that he is degraded by this servility, and consequently he does not feel its oppression. He is incapable of aspiring, and manifests his pride and satisfaction by imitating his master as much as is possible to his nature. The white man is conscious of the effect upon the negro, and has no fear that he is inflicting a misery to be nursed in secret and sorrow, and to fill the negro's heart with hate. This, however, is universally the effect of the domination of one man over another of the same race. The relation was for life, and the master was responsible for the moral and physical well-being of his slave. His entire dependence makes him an object of interest and care, and the very fact of this responsibility cultivates kindness and tenderness toward him. But this is not all; it carries with it a consciousness of superiority, and inspires a superior bearing. These influences are more potent in the formation of female than male character. The mistress is relieved absolutely from all menial duties, and is served by those who are servants for life, and compulsorily so. She is only under the obligations of humanity in her conduct toward them. They must do her bidding. She is not afraid to offend by giving an order, nor is she apprehensive of being deserted to discharge her household labor herself by offending them. It is their duty to please—it is their interest—and this is the paramount desire. The intercourse is gentle, respectful, and kind; still, there is no infringement of the barrier between the mistress and the servant. This habit is the source of frankness and sincerity, and this release from the severity of domestic labor the fruitful source of female delicacy and refinement, so transcendently the attributes of character in the ladies of the South. It gives ease and time for improvement; for social and intellectual intercourse; creates habits of refinement, and a delicacy seen and heard in all that is done or said in refined female society in the South. Something, too, I suppose, is due to blood. There are many grades in the Caucasian race. The Anglo-Norman or Anglo-Celtic is certainly at the head. They rule wherever left to the conflict of mind and energy of soul. Sometimes they are conquered for a time, but never completely so. The great constituents of their natures continue to resist, and struggle up, and when the opportunity comes, they strike for control and supremacy—