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I thought it best to camp awile, so I chose out a
spot Jest under a magnoly tree, an' there right down I
Then I unstrapped my wooden leg, coz it begun to
chafe, An' laid it down ’long side o' me, supposin' all wuz
I made my darkies all set down around me in a
ring, An' sot an' kin' o' ciphered up how much the lot
would bring; But, wile I drinked the peaceful cup of a pure
heart an' min' (Mixed with some wiskey, now an' then), Pomp he
snaked up behin', An' creepin' grad'lly close tu, ez quiet ez a mink, Jest grabbed my leg, an' then pulled foot, quicker
'an you could wink, An', come to look, they each on ’em hed gut behin'
a tree, An' Pomp poked out the leg a piece, jest so ez I
An' yelled to me to throw away my pistils an' my
gun, Or else thet they'd cair off the leg, an' fairly cut
I vow I did n't b'lieve there wuz a decent alligatur Thet hed a heart so destitoot o' common human
natur ; However, ez there worn't no help, I finally give in An' heft my arms away to git my leg safe back
Pomp gethered all the weapins up, an' then he
come an' grinned, He showed his ivory some, I guess, an' sez, “You're
fairly pinned ; Jest buckle on your leg agin, an' git right up an'
come, ’T wun't du fer fammerly men like me to be so
long frum hum.” At fust I put my foot right down an' swore I
would n't budge. “ Jest ez you choose,” sez he, quite cool, “ either be
shot or trudge." So this black-hearted monster took an' act’lly druv
me back Along the very feetmarks o' my happy mornin'
track, An' kep' me pris'ner 'bout six months, an' worked
me, tu, like sin, Till I hed gut his corn an' his Carliny taters in ; He made me larn him readin', tu (although the
crittur saw How much it hut my morril sense to act agin the
law), So'st he could read a Bible he'd gut; an' axed ef
I could pint The North Star out; but there I put his nose some
out o' jint, Fer I weeled roun' about sou'west, an', lookin' up
a bit, Picked out a middlin' shiny one an' tole him thet
Fin'lly, he took me to the door, an', givin' me a
Sez, “ Ef you know wut's best fer ye, be off, now,
double-quick; The winter-time's a comin' on, an', though I gut ye
cheap, You're so darned lazy, I don't think you 're hardly
wuth your keep; Besides, the childrin 's growin' up, an'
you the model I'd like to hev 'em immertate, an' so you 'd better
Now is there anythin' on airth 'll ever prove to me Thet renegader slaves like him air fit fer bein'
free? D' you think they 'll suck me in to jine the Buff’lo
chaps, an' them Rank infidels thet go agin the Scriptur'l cus o'
Shem? Not by a jugfull! sooner 'n thet, I'd go thru fire
an' water; Wen I hev once made up my mind, a meet'nhus
aint sotter; No, not though all the crows thet flies to pick my
bones wuz cawin', I guess we 're in a Christian land,
[Here, patient reader, we take leave of each other, I trust with some mutual satisfaction. I say patient, for I love not that kind which skims dippingly over the surface of the page, as swallows over a pool before rain. By such no pearls shall be gathered. But if no pearls there be (as, indeed, the world is not without example of books wherefrom the longestwinded diver shall bring up no more than his proper handful of mud), yet let us hope that an oyster or two may reward adequate perseverance. If neither pearls nor oysters, yet is patience itself a gem worth diving deeply for.
It may seem to some that too much space has been usurped by my own private lucubrations, and some may be fain to bring against me that old jest of him who preached all his hearers out of the meeting-house save only the sexton, who, remaining for yet a little space, from a sense of official duty, at last gave out also, and, presenting the keys, humbly requested our preacher to lock the doors, when he should have wholly relieved himself of his testimony. I confess to a satisfaction in the self act of preaching, nor do I esteem a discourse to be wholly thrown away even upon a sleeping or unintelligent auditory. I cannot easily believe that the Gospel of Saint John, which Jacques Cartier ordered to be read in the Latin tongue to the Canadian savages, upon his first meeting with them, fell altogether upon stony ground. For the earnestness of the preacher is a sermon appreciable by dullest intellects and most alien ears. In this wise did Episcopius convert many to his opinions, who yet understood not the language in which he discoursed. The chief thing is that the messenger believe that he has an authentic message to deliver. For counterfeit messengers that mode of treatment which Father John de Plano Carpini relates to have prevailed among the Tartars would seem effectual, and, perhaps, deserved enough. For my own part, I may lay claim to so much of the spirit of martyrdom as would have led me to go into banishment with those clergymen whom Alphonso the Sixth of Portugal drave out of his kingdom for refusing to shorten their pulpit eloquence. It is possible, that, having been invited into my brother Biglow's desk, I may have been too little scrupulous in using it for the venting of my own peculiar doctrines to a congregation drawn together in the expectation and with the desire of hearing him.
I am not wholly unconscious of a peculiarity of mental organization which impels me, like the railroad-engine with
its train of cars, to run backward for a short distance in order to obtain a fairer start. I may compare myself to one fishing from the rocks when the sea runs high, who, misinterpreting the suction of the undertow for the biting of some larger fish, jerks suddenly, and finds that he has caught bottom, hauling in upon the end of his line a trail of various alge, among which, nevertheless, the naturalist may haply find somewhat to repay the disappointment of the angler. Yet have I conscientiously endeavored to adapt myself to the impatient temper of the age, daily degenerating more and more from the high standard of our pristine New England. To the catalogue of lost arts I would mournfully add also that of listening to two-hour sermons. Surely we have been abridged into a race of pygmies. For, truly, in those of the old discourses yet subsisting to us in print, the endless spinal column of divisions and subdivisions can be likened to nothing so exactly as to the vertebræ of the saurians, whence the theorist may conjecture a race of Anakim proportionate to the withstanding of these other monsters. I say Anakim rather than Nephelim, because there seem reasons for supposing that the race of those whose heads (though no giants) are constantly enveloped in clouds (which that name imports) will never become extinct. The attempt to vanquish the innumerable heads of one of those afore-mentioned discourses may supply us with a plausible interpretation of the second labor of Hercules, and his successful experiment with fire affords us a useful precedent.
But while I lament the degeneracy of the age in this regard, I cannot refuse to succumb to its influence. Looking out through my study-window, I see Mr. Biglow at a distance busy in gathering his Baldwins, of which, to judge by the number of barrels lying about under the trees, his crop is more abundant than my own, — by which sight I am admonished to turn to those orchards of the mind wherein my labors may be more prospered, and apply myself diligently to the preparation of my next Sabbath's discourse.-H. W.]