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For thou dost feed the roots of the wild vine
Not such thou wert of yore, ere those old woods
Of scarlet flowers. The tulip tree, high up,
Frail wood-plants clustered round thy edge in Spring. The liverleaf put forth her sister blooms Of faintest blue. Here the quick-footed wolf, Passing to lap thy waters, crushed the flower Of Sanguinaria, from whose brittle stem. The red drops fell like blood. The deer too left Her delicate foot-prints in the soft moist mould, And on the fallen leaves. The slow-paced bear, In such a sultry summer noon as this, Stopped at thy stream, and drank, and leaped across.
But thou hast histories that stir the heart
Has smitten with his death wound in the woods,
And slake his death-thirst. Hark, that quick fierce cry
Fierce the fight and short,
Sends forth its arrow.
Figures of men that crouch and creep unheard,
I look again a hunter's lodge is built, With poles and boughs, beside thy crystal well, While the meek autumn stains the woods with gold, And sheds his golden sunshine. To the door The red man slowly drags the enormous bear Slain in the chesnut thicket, or flings down The deer from his strong shoulders. Shaggy fells Of wolf and cougar hang upon the walls, And loud the black-eyed Indian maidens laugh, That gather, from the rustling heaps of leaves, The hickory's white nuts, and the dark fruit That falls from the gray butternut's long boughs.
So centuries passed by, and still the woods Blossomed in spring, and reddened when the year Grew chill, and glistened in the frozen rains Of winter, till the white man swung the axe Beside thee-signal of a mighty change. Then all around was heard the crash of trees, Trembling awhile and rushing to the ground, The low of ox, and shouts of men who fired The brushwood, or who tore the earth with ploughs. The grain sprang thick and tall, and hid in green The blackened hill side; ranks of spiky maize Rose like a host embattled; the buck-wheat Whitened broad acres, sweetening with its flowers The August wind. White cottages were seen With rose-trees at the windows; barns from which Swelled loud and shrill the cry of chanticleer; Pastures where rolled and neighed the lordly horse, And white flocks browsed and bleated. A rich turf Of grasses brought from far o'ercrept thy bank,
Spotted with the white clover. Blue-eyed girls
Since then, what steps have trod thy border! On thy green bark, the woodman of the swamp Has laid his axe, the reaper of the hill
His sickle, as they stooped to taste thy stream.
And dipped thy sliding crystal. From the wars
Has sat, and mused how pleasant 'twere to dwell
Is there no other change for thee, that lurks
SILAS WRIGHT, JR.
The writer was invited one morning during the session of Congress in September, 1837, by a friend, to accompany him to the Senate chamber. The Vice President had not yet taken the Chair. A large number of the members, however, had assembled, some of whom were busily employed at their desks-others were looking leisurely over the newspapers-and others again were collected into groups, and engaged in familiar conversation.
The attention of the writer was soon attracted to an individual rather retiring in his manner-plainly but neatly dressed-of a stout muscular frame-whose countenance, as he spoke to those about him, was lighted up with a peculiarly pleasing and sunshiny smile. His open and serene forehead, and gentle but penetrating blue eye, seemed to mark their possessor as no ordinary man. On inquiring the name of this person, the reply was, "That is no other than Mr. Wright, of New York."
Having read the speeches of this gentleman, when at our home in the Southwest, with instruction as well as pleasure, and never having seen him before, we therefore scanned him the more narrowly. His features, when at rest, shadowed forth a mind full of benignity and power-that was rent by no stormy passions-that cherished no embittered or permanent feeling of enmity towards any living mortal-and that looked at all times and under all circumstances on the bright side of the picture of human life. It was readily evident, even to the casual observer, that Mr. Wright was on the best footing of personal relations with his political opponents as well as his political friends.
Silas Wright, Jr. was born in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, on the 24th of May, 1795. Both his parents were natives of the county of Hampshire. They had nine children-five sons and four daughters-two of whom died in infancy; the rest, together with the father and mother, are now living. The elder Mr. Wright was by trade a tanner, currier, and shoemaker; which occupation he followed until March, 1796, when he removed to the town of Weybridge, Addison county, Vermont, where he purchased a farm, and where he has ever since devoted himself exclusively to its cultivation. All the family, except Silas and his youngest sister, still reside in Vermont. The brothers, one only VOL. V. NO. XVI.-APRIL, 1839. 1 A
of whom is a graduate of a college, are all likewise farmers. The sisters married farmers, and one of them, a widow, now carries on a farm with the assistance of her sons; so that the whole family may most emphatically be regarded as the children of the ploughthan which we know no more honorable designation that wealth or rank could bestow.
Mr. Wright, the father, was indentured as an apprentice to his trade at an early age, and never was at school a day in his life. When he had "served out his time," he could neither read nor write; but with the assistance of his fellow journeymen, he soon qualified himself both to read and to write, as well as to keep accounts and transact business with accuracy and facility. After his marriage his wife became his instructress-a service which she performed with all a woman's devotion and alacrity, and with a success proportionate to her own interest in the labor of love, and to the willing docility of her pupil.
Silas, like most of the rising youth of New England, attended the common schools in winter, and worked on the farm in summer, until he had passed his fourteenth year, when he was placed at an academy, that he might be prepared to enter college. The father perceived that his son was rarely endowed by nature, and was therefore the more anxious that he should enjoy the benefits of education denied by circumstances to himself. The tradition is, that he always regarded him with peculiar pride and delight, as destined to be the chief hope and ornament of the family.
In August, 1811, Mr. Wright became a student of the college at Middlebury, Vermont, where he remained until the summer of 1815, when he received his first degree of Bachelor of Arts.
The elder Mr. Wright has always been an earnest and determined Democrat. He became such during the first contest for the Presidency, in 1796, between Adams and Jefferson. On that occasion he supported the latter zealously, and has ever since cherished for his name and principles a veneration which time has rather increased than diminished. Even now he is a warm and active politician, within the limited sphere in which he moves. Between 1800 and 1810, he was repeatedly elected a member of the Legislature, and has ever been an ardent and firm Republican. He and his oldest son were in the battle of Plattsburg, under Macomb, in September, 1814, when the British fleet was captured on Lake Champlain, by McDonough, and Sir George Prevost with his forces defeated and driven back into Canada.
The husbands of two sisters of Mr. Wright were also in that battle as volunteers from the "Green Mountains," although the Federal Governor of Vermont, following the treacherous and cowardly example of Governors Strong of Massachusetts, Jones of
Rhode Island, and Griswold of Connecticut, had positively refused