Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

• I had some admiralty papers on board; some papers of importance, which must be saved, whatever happens,' cried he, with earnestness, striking the palm of his hand with his clenched fist.

A chill ran through me like that which follows the touch of ice : • Four children and my wife — I hope they 'll not be drowned; but the admiralty papers must be saved !'

[ocr errors]

How those two words come back upon the memory, even now, like some old startling dream, in the saloon or solitude, in the counting-house or town! The merchant parts with peace, years, health, honor too perhaps, and gains a fortune. The belle leaves hope and love, and all that makes the day-star of a woman's life, for an - old husband and an equipage. The politician breaks, link by link, the chain which bound him fast to truth, to honor, to heaven, for - fame and place; and so on, ad infinitum. How often, as I watch their progress, step by step, a still small voice whispers my soul : “ Their admiralty papers must be saved !

OHAPTER IV.

[ocr errors][merged small]

The 'reign of terror' was of short duration. After we had left the cabin, it being full of water, down the steamer went like a sinking stone. A large batteau, which had been taken as freight, and lay upon the deck, was filled with human beings, who remained in it until the wreck sunk from under them, and then rowed safely ashore. The small boats be. longing to the steamer were filled beyond their capacity, and sank immediately, leaving their freight of human bodies struggling in the waves. The crowd upon the deck were going down without a hope ; their boats all gone; the sky above them dark; the waters darker underneath ; and oh ! how darkest was that unknown eternity to which fate seemed hurrying them! Despair was in every heart. This mental suffering is the bitterness of death,' compared with which the merely physical pain of dying is but light. Some rushed to the upper deck, and climbed up the chain and up the machinery to the walkingbeam; others threw themselves into the lake, and clung to such planks or boxes as they could secure. The boat went down, down; and as that awful death-wail rose toward heaven, they gazed with fixed looks of despair upon their watery grave.

A sudden check; "oh, God! she does not sink !' The joyful cry was true. She had sunk on a rock, or shallow place in the lake, and the promenade-deck was still some few inches above the water. The events of this chapter occupied but about ten minutes of time, and yet many souls had already winged their flight on high, and many persons were still struggling in the waves, or clinging to such drifting things as they could reach, and in the current were floating away, away — to death, some of them. Two gentle beings, who had gone abroad with an invalid father, and closely tended him until it pleased the Almighty to take him from their care, had his body placed in an air-tight casing, and were returning to their desolate home. At the first cry of danger,

1

they rushed to it as to a guardian-angel ; and so it proved to one of them, for it saved her life. The other clung to it until her strength gradually ebbed away ; her delicate fingers relaxed their hold; and she fell gently back into her vast grave, with the dark clouds for pall cover her water-coffin, and her soul ascended unto the mercy seat.

The cries of those upon the promenade-deck ceased, as the sieamer struck the bottom. But hark! deep stified groans are heard below, as if from babes and women; and once more the scene is one of wild excitement. The mate fortunately had a hatchet in the upper works, and blow soon followed blow over the places whence the anguished voices came; a little opening was soon made, when · Hold !' cried a lookeron, as he snatched the falling axe. A tiny arm was seen protruding through the aperture, and the next blow would probably have severed it. Gently and fast they cut; and from the places whence voices came, rescued from death eight beings, whose necks were in the water while their heads were pressed against the ceiling.

One heroine, who had two children in her charge, and was attending them to their parents and distant home, held them up, at peril of her life, against the ceiling of the cabin, until they were cut out and saved. She was afterward upon the boat which took us from the wreck; and it was pleasant to look upon her open brow, and dark and firm yet mild eyes. "Nurse, or whatever they may call that woman, she bore the stamp of Nature's own nobility;' and the children too seemed to carry some of her own spirit in their clear, frank and open countenances. Never may their parents forget their preserver!

The boat from the other steamer now arrived, its crew having picked up several persons, who were clinging to planks, and nearly dead. They also recovered a lifeless body, which proved to be the eldest son of the owner of the admiralty papers. Poor fellow ! the body lay before us soulless and cold. The Holy Father, He who notices the sparrow's fall, had taken up the soul to himself, from one who knew not, cared not for, the highest trust we have on earth - the training of a child for heaven. And thus ended that Hour on Lake St. Peter.

Long and wearily the hours rolled on. Gradually a dull morning broke upon us, amid storm and rain, and the washing of cold waves over the disabled steamers, which were now visible, lying low the surface of the lake, some three miles apart. As the day wore away, boats came to our assistance; and we were soon going our ways, with the day-star of hope still beckoning us on. But how changed the scene from the moon-lit

one of the previous evening! Some were parentless, some childless. Sorrow had come upon them as a thief in the night. Most of them were gloomy and silent, from the reüction of in. tense excitment; and long hours passed in the open air, unprotected from the frowning clouds. A few recklessly joked of the past ; a lesser few, with joyful countenances thanked the High and Mighty One who had saved them in their hour of peril; and from these the notes of a hymn of praise arose, dying away in the distance over the waves, as we left the huge grave of our friends behind us.

upon

[blocks in formation]

AWFUL the mysteries of Reason are,

When all its powers, with high Religion crowned,

Harmoniously, like solemn music, sound,
Its loss more awful, more mysterious far:
Then, in the glorious concert, grates the jar

Of horrid discords. Fiends beleaguer round

The citadels of thought and will. Then drowned,
In billows of black cloud, is Faith's bright star;
Weird phantoms throng round in the dire eclipse ;
Unreal deaths, fires, terrors haunt the air ;

Prayer bounds back blighted; e'en God's Word divine
Lies, when reëchoed from the Devil's lips !
Fool ! boastest thou thy reason? Is it thine ?
Go to the mad-house cells; learn wisdom there?

9

[ocr errors]

VOL. XXV.

[blocks in formation]

THE ATTACHE: OR, SAM SLICK IN ENGLAND. By the Author of "The Clock-maker.' In one vol

pp. 122. Philadelphia: LEA AND BLANCHARD. New-York: BURGE85, STRINGER AND COMPANY.

ume.

It has been supposed, we may infer, by a good many scribblers, that it was only necessary, in order successfully to imitate the style of Sam Slick, or the veritable Jack DownING, to indulge liberally in uncouih and incorrect orthography, and the frequent use of a number of cant terms and phrases; but the popularity of the true style has sufficiently proved, that it is the originality of thought, the peculiarity of ideas, which have given to the “sayings and doings' of the clock-maker so marked a popularity. Judge HalibuRTON is an uncompromising Tory, who never disguises his predilections, nor declines an opportunity to enlist the powerful aid of Mr. Slick, in extending the promulgation of his political views; yet being always fore-warned, the republican reader necessarily finds himself fore-armed, to meet a manly and unflinching opponent; while all classes of readers cannot fail to be entertained, amused and instructed by the quaint views, the odd illustrations, the piquant anecdotes, and the rude but most faithful sketches of character and scene which are the marked characteristics of the volume before us, as well as of each of its predecessors, after its kind.' We shall illustrate the justice of this praise by a few characteristic extracts. In the chapter on boarding-schools, we find the following passages. Mr. Slick is speaking of the consequences of sending young girls away to female seminaries before they have been educated in the school of the affections:

*They do n't love their parents, 'cause they haint got that care, and that fondlin', and protection, and that habit that breeds love. Love won't grow in cold ground, I can tell you. It must be sheltered from the frost, and protected from the storm, and watered with tears, and warmed with the heat of the heart, and the soil be kept free from weeds; and it must have support to lean on, and be tended with care day and night, or it pines, grows yaller, fades away, and dies. It's a tender plant, is love, or else I don't know human natur, that's all. Well, the parents do ’nt love them nother. Mothers can get weaned as well as babies. The same causes a’most makes folks love their children, that makes their children love them. Who ever liked another man's flower-garden as well as his own? ever see one that did, for I never did ? He haint tended it, he haint watched its growth, he haint seen the flowers bud, unfold, and bloom. They haint growed up under his eye and hand, he haint attached to them, and do n't care who plucks'em. : : : Oh! its an onnatural thing to tear a poor little gal away from home, and from all she knows and loves, and sbove her into a house of strangers, and race off and leave her. Oh! what a sight of little chords it must stretch, so that they are never no good afterward, or else snap 'em right short off. How it must harden the heart and tread down all the young sproutin' feelin's, so that they can never grow up and ripen.'

Did you

Mr. Slick attributes the origin of these abuses, on the part of parents, to the omnipotence of fashion; upon which he makes the observations which ensue:

LORD, what a world this is! We have to think in harness, as well as draw in harness. We talk of this government being free, and that government being free, but fashion makes slaves of us all. If we do n't obey we aint civilised. You must think with the world, or go out of the world. Now, in the high life I've been movin' in lately, we must swear by SHAKSPEARE whether we have a taste for plays or not; swaller it in a lump, like a bolus, obscene parts and all, or we have no soul. We must

go into fits if MILTON is spoke of, though we can't read it if we was to die for it, or we have no tastes; such is high life, and high life goverus low life. Every Englishman and every American that goes to the Continent must admire Paris, its tawdry theatres, its nasty filthy parks, its rude people, its cheaten' tradesmen : its horrid formal parties, its atfected politicians, its bombastical braggin' officers and all. If they do n't they are vulgar wretches that don't know nothin', and cau't tell a fricaseed cat from a stewed frog. Let 'em travel on and they darsn't say what they think of them horrid, stupid, oncomfortable gamblin' Garman waterin'-places nother. Oh, no! fashion says you can't. It's just so with these cussed boardin'-schools ; you must swear by 'em, or folks will open their eyes and say,

Where was you raird, young man? Does your mother know you are out ?' Oh, dear! how many gals they have ruined, how many folks they have fooled, and how many families they have capsised, so they never was righted again!

What could be more forcibly set forth than the indifference of the English government io ihe merits of one of her greatest national poets during his life-time, than Mr. Slick's remarks concerning the pompous funeral of Thomas Campbell; a man suffered to live in poverty and fade away like a shadow, crowned at last with an unsubstantial abbey-show burial, while the most trifling ephemeral is covered with honors and wealth:

I GUES3 when CAMPBELL writ 'The Mariners of England,' that will live till the British sailors get whipped by us so they will be ashamed to sing it, he thought himself great shakes ; heavens and airth! he warn't half so big as Tom Thumb; he was jist nothin'. But let some foreign hussey, whose skin aint clear, and whose character aint clear, and who hante nothin' clear about her but her voice, let her come and sing that splendid song that puts more ginger into sailors than grog or prize-money, or any thin', and Lord! all the old admirals, and Aag-officers and yacht-men and others that do onderstand, and all the lords, and ladies, and princes, that do n't onderstand where the springs are in that song that touch the chords of the heart, all on 'em will come and worship a'most ; and some young duke or another will fancy he is a young Jupiter, and come down in a shower of gold a'most for her, * bile the poet bas · The Pleasures of Hope' to feed on. Oh! I envy him, glorious man, I envy him his great reward; it was worth seventy years of hope,' that funeral.' Ah! poor CAMPBELL! he was a poet, a beautiful poet! He know'd about the world of imagination, and the realms of fancy; but he did n't know nothin' at all about this world of our'n, or of the realm of England, or he never would have talked about the Pleasures of Hope,' for an author. Lord bless you! let a dancin' gal come to the opera, jump six foot high, 'light on one toe, hold up the other so high you can see her stays a'most, and then spin round like a daddy-long-legs that's got one foot caught in a taller candle, and go spinnin' round arter that fashion for ten minits, it will touch Peel's heart in a giffy. Let some old general or admiral do something or another that only requires the courage of a bull, and no seose, and they give him a pension, and right off the reel make him a peer. Let some old field-officer's wife go follerin'the army away back in Indgy further than is safe or right for a woman to go, git taken pris'ner, give a horrid sight of trouble to the army to git her back; and for this great service to the Dation she gits a pension of five hundred pouvds a year. But let some misfortunate devil of an author do – what only one man in a century can, to save his soul alive, write a book that will live--a thing that does show the perfection of human mind, and what do they do here? Let his body live on the * Pleasures of Hope,' all the days of his life, and his name live afterwaril on a cold white marble in Westminster Abbey. They be hanged - the whole bilin’of 'em -them and their trumpery procession too, and their paltry patronage of standing by a grave, and sayin'. Poor CAMPBELL! Who the devil cares for a monument, that actilly deserves one? He has built one that will live wheu that are old abbey crumbles down, and when them that thought they was honorin' him are dead and forgotten; bis mopunient was built by his own brins and his own hands, and the inscription aint writ in Latin por Greek, nor any other dead language, nother. but in a livin' language; and one too that will never die out now, seein' our great nation uses it; and here it is :

"The Pleasures of Elope, by THOMAS CAMPBELL.'

This is trenchant irony, and well is it deserved. The following bit of satire is in a somewhat different vein, but not less effective. Sam is holding up to contempt one of those humbageous' amateurs of pictures and ladies, of whom one sees more perhaps in this goodly metropolis of ours than in any other city in the United States:

"If it's a Rubens, or any othem old boys, praise it, for its agin the law to doubt them; but if its a new man, and the company aint most special judges, criticise. A leetle out of keepin', sais you ; he don't use his grays enough, nor glaze down well; thut shadder wants depth; gineral effect is good, tho' parts aint ; those eye brows are heavy enough for stucco,' says you, and other unmeanin' terms like them. It will pass, I tell you, your opinion will be thought great. But if there is a portrait of the lady of the house haugin' up, and its at all like enough to make it out, stop; gaze on it; salk back; close your fingers like a spy-glass, and look thro''em amazed like, enchanted - chained to the spot. Then utter, unconscious like, “That's a'most a beautiful pictur'; by Heavens that's a speakin' portrait! Its well painted, too; but, whoever the artist is, he is an onprincip'ed man.' Good gracious!! she'll say, 'how so! * Because, Madam, he has not done you justice ; he pretends to have a conscience, and says he wont flatter. The cantin' rascal knew he could not add a charm to that face if he was to try, and has, therefore, bascly robbed your countenance to put it on to his character. Out on such a villain!' sais you. :( Oh, Mr. Slick,' she'll say, bluslin', but lookin' horrid pleased all the lime, 'what a shame it is to be so severe; and, beside, you are not just, for I am afeerd to exhibit it, it is so flattered.' * Flattered!' sais you, turnin' round, and lookin' at her, with your whole soul

« PreviousContinue »