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his fellows, and wrought many cures with sugar and water latinised.
At first, my father did not patronise the new doctor, having very little faith in the efficacy of sugar and water, without the addition of certain other composites often seen in bottles; but the doctor's neat speech at a Sunday-school festival won his heart at last. The festival was held near a series of small water-falls just out of the village, and the doctor, who was an invited guest, was called upon for a few appropriate remarks. In compliance with the demand, he made a speech of some compass, ending with a peroration that is still quoted in my native place. He pointed impressively to the water-falls, and says he
* All the works of nature is somewhat beautiful, with a good moral. Even them cataracts,” says he sagely, "have a moral, and seems eternally whispering to the young, that 'those what err falls.'
The effect of this happy illustration was very pleasing, my boy; especially with those who prefer morality to grammar; and after that the physician had the run of all the pious families— our own included.
It was a handsome compliment this worthy man paid me when I was about six months old. Having just received from my father the amount of his last bill, he was complacent to the last degree, and felt inclined to do the handsome thing. He patted my head as I sat upon my mother's lap, and says he
“How beautiful is babes! So small and yet so much like human beings, only not so large. This boy," says he fatly, looking down at me, "will make a noise in the world yet. He has a long head, a very long head.”
“ Do you think so ?” says my father.
“Indeed I do,” says the doctor. “The little fellow,” says he in a sudden fit of abstraction, "has a long head, a very long head—and it's as thick as it is long.”
There was some coolness between the doctor and my father after that, and on the following Sunday my mother refused to look at his wife's new bonnet in church.
So far as I can trace back, we never had a literary character in our family, save a venerable aunt of mine, on my mother's side, who commenced her writing career by
refusing to contribute to the Sunday papers, and subsequently won much fame as the authoress of a set of copybooks. When this gifted relative found herself acquiring a reputation she came in state to visit us, and so disgusted my very practical father, by wearing slipshod gaiters, inking her right-hand thumb-nail every morning, calling all things
by European names, and insisting upon giving our oldest plough-horse the romantic and literary title of “Lord Byron," that my exasperated parent incurred a most tremendous prejudice against authorship, and vowed, when she went away, that he never would invite her presence again.
I was only twenty years old at that time, and the novelty of my aunt's conduct had a rather infatuating effect upon
With the perversity often observable in youngsters before they have seen much of the world, I became deeply interested in my literary relative as soon as my father began speaking contemptuously of her pursuits, and it took very little time to invest me with a longing and determination to be a writer.
Thenceforth I wore negligent linen; frequently rested my head upon the forefinger of my right hand, with a lofty and abstracted air; assumed an expression of settled and mysterious gloom when at church, and suffered my hair to grow long and uncombed.
My bearing during this period of infatuation could hardly fail to attract considerable attention in our village, and there were two opinions about me. One was that I had been jilted; the other that I was likely to become a vagabond and an actor. My father inclined to the former, and left me, as he thought, to get over my disappointment in the natural way.
My peripatetic spell had lasted about six weeks, when I formed the acquaintance of the editor of the Lily of the Valley, who permitted me to mope in his office now and then, and soothed my literary inflammation by allowing me to write "puffs” for the village milliner.
While looking over some old magazines in the Lily office one day, I found in an ancient British periodical a raking article upon American literature, wherein the critic affirmed that all our writers were but weak imitators of English
authors, and that such a thing as a Distinctly American Poem, sui generis, had not yet been produced.
This radical sneer at the United States of America fired my Yankee blood, and I vowed within myself to write a poem, not only distinctively American, but of such a character that only America could have produced it. In the solitude of my room, that night, I wooed the aboriginal muse, and two days thereafter the Lily of the Valley contained my distinctive American poem
“THE AMERICAN TRAVELLER.”
To Lake Aghmoogenegamook,
All in the State of Maine,
One evening in the rain.
“I am a traveller,” said he,
“ Just started on a tour, And go to Nomjamskillicook
To-morrow morn at four.”
He took a tavern bed that night,
And with the morrow's sun,
With carpet-bag and gun.
A week passed on; and next we find
Our native tourist come,
From thence he went to Absequoit,
And there-quite tired of Maine-
Upon a railroad train.