Page images




Is it not most indubitable, gentle reader, that the staid and comfortable looking personage before us is one who is well to do in the world? for see with what an air of sober dignity he bestrides that sleek brown gelding! and see, too, with what self-complacency he taps his polished boot with the lash of his silver-mounted riding whip! And does not the slow-and-easy jog at which he ambles along bespeak him a man who is under no necessity in the world for being in a hurry? Nor is he; for elder Triptolemus Tub is a gentleman of substance, in whatever sense you take the term; killed and weighed, he would put to shame the best hog on his plantation. His dwelling is a massive one of stone, on the Virginia shore of the Ohio river; his farm is the sort of rich flat land which Dutchmen are wont to covet; his harvests usually well supply his barn and crib, nor are his coop and pen less well replenished; his good dame lays in her snuff by the pound, and does nothing the live-long day but superintend the feeding of her pigs and poultry; and why should Mrs. Dorothy Tub do more? seeing she has at her beck and bidding some half a score of blackballs, who can show as shining faces and as complete rows of ivory as can be shown by any body's blackballs within the limits of the "Old Dominion."

I will not assert that there is any thing particularly pretty or romantic in the situation of the elder's domicil, except there is prettiness or romance in a straight reach of river with naked banks; a straight line of post-and-rail fence; and a straight unshaded road between. There is an object of interest there, nevertheless, to arrest the steps of even the most indifferent passer-by; for near the huge and naked trunk of an elm which leans over the water, and whose roots (on the side next the river) have been washed bare by the current, a square stone set into the ground, and projecting VOL. I.-2 E 349

some four feet above it, is found to bear the following rudely

chiseled inscription:


To the memory of eighteen gallant men who
fell on this spot in defence of the

helpless women and children, of the early settlement,
against a numerous party of ferocious
Indians, on the 19th day of
January, 1788.

Here, if the old elm were still in the pride of its foliage, the traveler might be well content to stop under its shadow, and to rekindle the embers of his patriotism with the memories of bygone days, the trials and hardships endured by the adventurous pioneers of the western wilderness. It is said that even through the thick plaits of fat which encase the heart of our elder, the interests of this hallowed spot occasionally find their way, and it may well be believed, since amongst the band of heroes thus briefly epitaphed, repose the ashes of his venerated father, Old Epaphroditus Tub.

Our friend Triptolemus keeps a store, and house of entertainment: too godly is he to postpone the watering of his whiskey, and the sanding of his sugar, until sabbath morning, before prayers; no, no, these matters are decently and piously attended to on the previous evening, for Mr. Tub is, in sooth, a very godly, and moderately honest man. There is a maxim in hacknied use which adviseth, "Get along honestly if you can, if you cannot honestly, get along, anyhow." The elder deemed it not prudent to begin with this precept at the right end—he tried the anyhow first, opining that when he should get rich at that, he could better afford to practice honesty afterward: there is spiritual economy too in this arrangement, he thought, for in after life, when preparing for heaven by a repentance of past misdeeds, it will be found easier resisting the devil with a full pocket than with an empty one, and easier procuring clerical assistance into the bargain. Still, it must be confessed that there are numberless inconveniences attending the anyhow practice, among which not the least is, that habits are thereby formed which it will task all the prudence and piety of after years to overcome: even the godly Mr. Tub has experienced the truth of this-he came near being

turned out of church lately. (It is'nt right, I know, to be telling this to the world's people, but I do it for the sake of illustration.) It was ascertained that during the late protracted meeting in his parts, (at which, too, he professed to have attained such discoveries in religion as convinced him that his former hopes were groundless,) he had suffered the minister's horses, in his stable, to go unfed save with hay, and that scantily, for the space of eight days! His plea was, that as he had entertained them free of charge, there was no dishonesty in the case; but then it was decided that it was an act of cruelty to the animals, and of deception toward the owners, who would certainly have preferred that the horses should be fed at a charge, than that they should be starved gratis. However, as the church was weak in numbers and pecuniary means, it was concluded to overlook the elder's offence, as he on his part consented to double his subscription for his preacher to become an abolitionist, and to allow his daughter, Kesiah Tub, to go about soliciting pious donations and dispensing tracts. Mr. Tub, therefore, was not only retained in the church, but also in his ecclesiastical dignity.

One all-redeeming quality hath elder Tub-one which will "cover the multitude of sins ;" it is this-he is most orthodox in faith, and, above all, in the faith of endless damnation. "His own damnation?" No, no, dear reader, by no means, ha, ha, ha! Not his own-none but fools, or very nervous folks, believe in their own damnation. But Mr. Tub is quite sure that somebody will be damned; yet, as they are not to be of his own kith or kin, he takes the matter very comfortably, and even gets quite fat on it: his experience on this point is expressed in the following luscious verses: Prais'd be the Lord, I pardon'd am,

My spouse, good soul, is pardon'd too.
We shall be saved through Christ the Lamb,
In spite of all that we can do.

Our offspring-six in number-all
(By pious parents sanctified,)
Are safe in grace, whate'er befall,
For who can Christ's elect divide?

For others, it is nought to me

Who shall be saved, or who be lost,
Since grace shall but exalted be,

And saints be blest at sinners' cost.


Elder Tub sat at the foot of the old elm, one moonlight evening, ruminating on the trials and dangers, which must have been encountered in life by the brave men, whose fate was registered on the rude stone near him; an unwonted sensibility came over his heart on this theme, insomuch that his attention became abstracted from surrounding objects. “Noble, gallant fellows!" he ejaculated, "to tear yourselves from the haunts of secure and civilized existence, with all its conveniences and refinements, and to adventure with your wives and little ones into this, then dreadful, wilderness, infested with savage beasts, and more savage men; where every want, every deprivation, every horrid form of suffering awaited you. How much our now smiling and populous country, and its now peaceful and happy inhabitants, owe to your enterprise and perseverance! Yet here you lie, with nothing but this half obliterated tablet to tell that you ever lived, and to bear its record to the great and noble cause in which you died! But never mind, my gallant hearts! for if our country is unmindful of her benefactors, it is consoling to think that heaven"Here our soliloquist was interrupted by sounds proceeding from behind him, which resembled a suppressed giggle. "He, he, he, he!" The elder felt both his patriotism and his piety to be insulted by this ill-timed merriment, and, supposing it to have come from one of his blackballs, he doubled his fist with the meek purpose of knocking him down; but on turning around-horror of horrors! what was his astonishment and dismay! for he beheld a-what shall I call it? It seemed a man-or the shadow of a man-or a compound of man and shadow! Mr. Tub felt his hat to rise, as if self-moved, from his head,

"And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine."

"Be composed, my good Mr. Tub," spake out the apparition. "You have nothing to fear from one who was a companion and intimate friend of your father, Epaphroditus Tub. Don't you remember Shadrach Paddle? you were old enough to have known me in those days. Well, never mind; we are all in hell now,

[ocr errors]

the whole mess of us-all the eighteen poor fellows whose bodies are mouldering under that stone are now subjects of the realm below. When I interrupted you, you were about to say, that though our country withholds from us the honors due to our achievements, heaven would reward our patriotism and self-devotion! He, he, he! This is what excited my mirth. Bravery, philanthropy, patriotism-these, and like virtues, go for nothing in heaven; all its favors are showered upon those who have been born again, and have shaped their opinions by a creed and in the early days of this wilderness, you must know, we were innocent enough of overmuch intelligence on these subjects, and precious little time had we for attention to them at any rate. We are therefore all damned-every one of us—whilst Anthony Pimp, a rascal, who deserted our colony, with a half-dozen horses which he stole, and who, to obliterate the evidence of his infamy, sought to effect our entire destruction by guiding the Indians to our station at midnight-he, I say, is now in heaven, having got some curious kind of experience, and said over his prayers for some time before his death. Well, God is nowise particular about the moral qualities of his elect! You are aware, Mr. Tub, that your mother, and my poor wife, Dolly Paddle, were among the women tomahawked on the occasion. I found them both in hell upon my arrival, (a few hours after their's,) and was tolerably well content with my new quarters, hot as they were, when I found there my seventeen brave compatriots, and our murdered wives, besides a number of other gallant men from the bloody fields of Lexington and Bunker Hill. One soon feels at home anywhere in good society and believe me, my dear Triptolemus, you dwellers in flesh and blood have no adequate conception of the excellence of the society of the world below."

Our friend, Mr. Tub, was utterly astounded at these disclosures; his astonishment, together with the familiar manner in which the goblin addressed him, and the near concern he had in the matters revealed, quite got the better of his fears, and emboldened him to hold converse with the dim and misty outline of a once human being then before him. There was such an air of probability, withal, about the matters communicated, that the thought of them caused a revulsion throughout his whole system. His poor old father and mother in hell! Alas! he had never before harbored a VOL. I.-2 E 2

« PreviousContinue »