Continental Monthly , Vol I, Issue I, January 1862 - Devoted to Literature and National Policy
Author: Various
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse





VOLUME I. 1862.


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1861, by JAMES R. GILMORE,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


* * * * *


Across the Continent. Hon. Horace Greeley, 78 Active Service; or, Campaigning In Western Virginia, 330 Actress Wife, the, 64, 139 Among the Pines. Edmund Kirke, 35, 187, 322, 438, 710 Ante-Norse Discoverers of America, the. C. G. Leland, 389, 531

Beaufort District—Past, Present, and Future. Frederic Kidder, 381 Black Witch, the. J. Warren Newcombe, Jr., 155 BOOKS RECEIVED, 94, 348, 469 Bright, John. George M. Towle, 525 Brown's Lecture Tour. Wm. Wirt Sikes, 118

Cabinet Session, 339 Campbell, The late Lord Chancellor, George M. Towle, 285 Columbia's Safety, 578 Constitution and Slavery, the. Rev. C. E. Lord, 619 Cotton, is it our King? Edward Atkinson, 247

Danger, Our, and its Cause. Hon. Geo.C. Boutwell, 219 Desperation and Colonization. C. G. Leland, 657

EDITORS TABLE, 95-112, 228-240, 349-368 470-492, 605-618, 727-749 Education to be, the. Levi Reuben, M.D., 592, 662 Edwards Family, the. Rev. W. Frothingham, 11 Edwards, Jonathan, and the Old Clergy. Rev. W. Frothingham, 265 Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Miss Delia M. Colton, 48

Fairies, 524 Fatal Marriage of Bill the Soundser, the. W. L. Tiffany, 395 Fugitives at the West. Miss S. C. Blackwell, 582

General Lyon. Miss Delia M. Colton, 465 Good Wife, the. A Norwegian Story, 290 Graveyard at Princeton, the. Miss McFarlane, 32 Green Corn Dance, the. John Howard Payne, 17 Guerdon, 601

Hamlet a Fat Man. Carlton Edwards, 571 Heir of Roseton, the. Champion Bissell, 210 Howe's Cave, 422 Huguenot Families in America. Hon. G.P. Disosway, 151, 298, 461 Huguenots of Staten Island. Hon. G.P. Disosway, 683

Irving, Washington, Recollections of, 689

Knights of the Golden Circle, the. Charles G. Leland, 473

LITERARY NOTICES, 91-93, 226-227, 346-348 466-468, 602-604, 724-726 Lowell, James Russell. Miss Delia M. Colton, 176 Maccaroni and Canvas. Henry P. Leland, 302, 414, 513, 647 Molly O'Molly Papers, the. 449, 502 Motley, John Lothrop. Miss Delia M. Colton, 309

One of my Predecessors. Bayard Taylor, 273 On the Plains. Hon. Horace Greeley, 167 Our War and our Want. C. G. Leland, 113

Patterson's Campaign in Virginia, 257 Philosophic Bankrupt. Henry T. Lee, 496


All Together, 506 Black Flag, the. C. G. Leland, 138 Changed. Mrs. Paul Ackers, 570 Child's Call at Eventide, 289 Columbia to Britannia, 404

En Avant, 656 England, To, C. G. Leland, 209

Freedom's Stars, 166

Game of Fate, the. C. G. Leland, 268

Hemming Cotton. C. G. Leland, 272

Lesson of War, the. Henry Carey Lea, 46 Lessons of the Hour, the. Edward L. Rand, Jr., 320

Monroe to Farragut. C. G. Leland, 709

New-England's Advance. Augusta C. Kimball, 701

Potential Moods, 427

Red, White, and Blue, the. 646 Rosin the Bow. B. B. Foster, 29

Self-Reliance, 149 She Sits Alone. Henry P. Leland, 225 Song of Freedom. Edward L. Rand, Jr., 76 Sonnet. H. T. Tuckerman, 16 Sphinx and OEdipus. T. H. Underwood, 63 Spur of Monmouth, the. Henry Morford, 392

Ten to One on it. C. G. Leland, 465

Watchword, the. 126 Westward, 246 What will you do with us? C. G. Leland, 175

Progress, is it a Truth? Henry P. Leland, 6

Resurgamus. Henry P. Leland, 186 Roanoke Island. Frederic Kidder, 541

Seven Devils. Rev. F. W. Shelton, 171 Seward's, Mr., Published Diplomacy, 199 Situation, the. Richard B. Kimball, 1 Sketches of Edinburgh Literati. Rev. W. Frothingham, 453 Slave-Trade in New-York. Mr. Wilder, 86

Southern Aids to the North. C.G. Leland, 242, 445 State Rights. Sinclair Tousey, 535 Story of Mexican Life, 552, 627

Tints and Tones of Paris. H.T. Tuckerman, 127 Travel-Pictures. Henry T. Lee, 676 True Basis. C. G. Leland, 136 True Interest of Nations, the. C.C. Hazewell, 428 True Story. Miss McFarlane, 507

Ursa Major, 579

War between Freedom and Slavery in Missouri, the. 369 Was he Successful? Richard B. Kimball, 702 What shall we do with it? Hon. John W. Edmonds, 493 What to do with the Darkies. C. G. Leland, 84




VOL. I.—JANUARY, 1862.—NO. I.


The Situation, 1

Is Progress a Truth? 6

The Edwards Family, 11

Sonnet, 16

The Green Corn Dance, 17

Rosin the Bow, 29

The Graveyard at Princeton, 32

Among the Pines, 35

The Lesson of War, 46

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 49

Sphinx and OEdipus, 63

The Actress-Wife, 64

Song of Freedom, 76

Across the Continent, 78

What to do with the Darkies, 84

The Slave Trade in New York, 86

Literary Notices, 91 The Rejected Stone; The Works of Francis Bacon; The Old Log Schoolhouse; Songs in Many Keys.

Books Received, 94

Editor's Table, 95


Will be issued about the 15th of January, and will contain contributions from the following among other eminent writers: HON. HORACE GREELEY, HENRY T. TUCKERMAN, REV. F. W. SHELTON, RICHARD B. KIMBALL, BAYARD TAYLOR, J. WARREN NEWCOMB, JR., HENRY P. LELAND, THE AUTHOR OF "THE COTTON STATES," CHARLES G. LELAND, and CHARLES F. BROWNE.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1801, by JAMES R. GILMORE, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Press of Geo. C. Rand & Avery, 3 Cornhill, Boston.

* * * * *


In the month of November, 1860, culminated the plot against our National existence. The conspiracy originated in South Carolina, and had a growth, more or less checked by circumstances, of over thirty years.

For John C. Calhoun had conceived the idea of an independent position for that State some time previous to the passage of the 'nullification ordinance' in November, 1832. This man, although he bore no resemblance in personal qualities to the Roman conspirator, is chargeable with the same crime which Cicero urged against Cataline—that of 'corrupting the youth.' His mind was too logical to adopt the ordinary propositions about slavery, such as, 'a great but necessary evil;' 'we did not plant it, and now we have it, we can't get rid of it,' and the like; but, placing his back to the wall where it was impossible to outflank him, he defended it, by all the force of his subtle intellect, as a permanent institution. His followers refined on their master's lessons, and asserted that it was one of the pillars on which a republic must rest! Here was the origin of the most wicked and most audacious plot ever attempted against any government. This plot did not involve any contest for political power in the administration of public affairs. That, the Southern leaders already possessed, but with that they were not content. They were determined to destroy the Republic itself,—to literally blot it out of existence. And why? What could betray intelligent and educated men, persons esteemed wise in their generation, into an attempt which amazes the civilized world, and at which posterity will be appalled? We answer, it was the old leaven which has worked always industriously in the breast of man since the creation—AMBITION. Corrupted by the idea that a model republic must have slavery for its basis, knowing that the free States could not much longer tolerate the theory, certain leading individuals decided to dismember the country. They cast their eyes across Texas to the fertile plains of Mexico, and so southward. They indulged in the wildest dreams of conquest and of empire. The whole southern continent would in time be occupied and under their control. An aristocracy was to be built up, on which possibly a monarchy would be engrafted. In this way a new feudal system was to be developed, negro for serf, and a race of noble creatures spring forth, the admirable of the earth, whose men should be famed as the world's chivalry, and whose women should be the most beautiful and most accomplished of all the daughters of Eve. The peaceful drudge and artisan of the North, ox-like in their character, should serve them as they might require, and the craven man of commerce should buy and sell for their accommodation. For the rest, the negro would suffice. This was the extraordinary scheme of the South Carolina 'aristocrat,' and with which he undertook to infect certain unscrupulous leaders throughout the cotton and sugar States. It was no part of the plan of the conspirators to precipitate the border States into rebellion. O no! On the contrary, it was specially set forth in the programme entrusted to the exclusive few, that those States were to remain in the 'Old Union' as a fender between the 'South' and the free States; always ready in Congress to stand up for a good fugitive slave law, and various other little privileges, and prepared to threaten secession if Congress did not yield just what was demanded. In this way the free States would be perpetually entangled by embarrassing questions, and the new empire left to pursue unrestricted its dazzling plans of conquest and occupation.

A comfortable arrangement truly, and one very easy of accomplishment,—provided the free States would consent.

'Certainly they will consent. Trade, commerce, manufactures and mechanical pursuits, occupy them exclusively, and these promise better results under the new order of things than under the old. As to patriotism or public spirit, the North have neither. The people do not even resent a personal affront, much less will they go to war for an idea.'

So reasoned the South.

'It is not possible those fellows down yonder can be in earnest. They are only playing the game of "brag." In their hearts they are really devoted to the Union. They have not the least idea of separating from us.'

So reasoned the North.

Neither side thought the other in earnest. Both were mistaken.

Negro slaves were introduced into Virginia as early as 1620. In the year 1786 England employed in the slave-trade 130 ships, and that year alone seized and carried from their homes into slavery 42,000 blacks. Wilberforce experienced many defeats through the influence of the slave-trade interest, but at length carried his point, and the trade was finally abolished in England in 1807,—not a very remote period certainly. The same year witnessed the suppression of the slave-trade in our own country; but, unfortunately, not the abolition of slave-holding. All our readers understand how, when the Constitution of the United States was adopted, slavery was regarded entirely as a domestic matter, left to each of the States to manage and dispose of as each saw fit. But at that period there was no dissenting voice to the proposition, that, abstractly considered, slave-holding was wrong; yet the owner of a large number of negroes could honestly declare he was himself innocent of the first transgression, and ignorant of any practicable way to get rid of the evil,—for it was counted an evil. When the rice, cotton and sugar fields demanded larger developments, it was counted a necessary evil. Congress was called on for more guards and pledges, and gave them freely. It disclaimed any power to interfere with what had now become an institution; it had no power to do so. It went further, and by legislation sought fully to protect the slave-holding States in the perfect enjoyment of their rights under the Constitution.

Meanwhile many wise and good men, North and South, who regarded slavery as a blight and a curse upon the States where it existed, endeavored by all the means in their power to prepare the way for gradual emancipation. It seemed at one time that they would succeed in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky. In Virginia, an emancipation act failed of passing by a single vote.

About the time that Calhoun was spreading the heresy of his state-rights doctrine in South Carolina and taking his 'logical ground' on the slavery question, a class, then almost universally branded as fanatics, but whose proportions have since very largely swelled, arose at the North, which were a match for the South Carolina senator with his own weapons. Each laid hold of an extreme point and maintained it. We refer to the Abolitionists of thirty years ago, under Garrison, Tappan & Co. These people seized on a single idea, exclusive of any other, and went nearly mad over it. Apparently blind to the evils around them, which were close at hand, within their own doors, swelling perhaps in their own hearts, they were suddenly 'brought to see' the 'vile enormity' of slave-holding. Their argument was very simple. 'Slavery is an awful sin in the sight of God. Slave-holders are awful sinners. We of the North, having made a covenant with such sinners, are equally guilty of the sin of slavery with them. Slavery must be immediately abolished. Fiat justitia ruat coelum. Better that the Republic fall than continue in the unholy league one day.' These men were ready to 'dissolve the Union,' to disintegrate the nation, to blast the hopes of perhaps millions of persons over the world, who were watching with anxious hearts the experiment of our government, trembling lest it should fail.

In South Carolina John C. Calhoun was ready to do the same. And thus extremes met.

Meanwhile the Southern conspirators pursued their labors. Gathering up the reports of the meetings of the Abolition Societies, and selecting the most inflammable extracts from the speeches of the most violent, they circulated them far and wide, as indications of the hostile spirit of the North, and as proofs of the impossibility of living under the same government with people who were determined to destroy their domestic institutions and stir up servile insurrections. The Abolitionists saw the alarm of the South, and pressed their advantage. Thus year after year passed, till the memorable November elections of 1860. The conspirators received the intelligence of the election of Lincoln with grim satisfaction. The Abolitionists witnessed the progress of secession in the various States with a joy they did not attempt to conceal. 'Now we can pursue our grand scheme of empire,' exclaimed the Southern traitors. 'Now shall we see the end of slavery,' cried the Abolitionists. Strange that neither gave a thought about the destruction of the glorious fabric which the wisest and best men, North and South, their own fathers, had erected. Strange, not one sigh was breathed in prospect of the death of a nation. Incredible that no misgiving checked the exultation of either party, lest, in destroying the temple of Liberty and scattering its fragments, it might never again be reconstructed. The conspirator, South, saw only the consummation of his mad projects of ambition. The Abolitionist North, regarded only the immediate emancipation of a large number of slaves, most of whom, incapable, through long servitude, of self-control, would be thrown miserably on the world. Neither party thought or cared a jot about their common country. Neither regarded the stars and stripes with the least emotion. To one, it was secondary to the emblem of a sovereign State. To the other, there was no beauty in its folds, because it waved over a race in bondage.

The day after the battle of Bull Run found these two extremes still in sympathy. Both were still rejoicing. The rebel recognized the hand of Providence in the victory, so did the Abolitionist: one, because it would secure to the South its claims; the other, because it would rouse the North to a fiercer prosecution of the war, which had hitherto been waged with 'brotherly reluctance.' Here we leave these sympathizing extremes, and proceed to survey the situation.

The first point we note is, that in the South the war did not originate with the people, but with certain conspirators. In the North, the mighty armament to conquer rebellion is the work of the people alone, not of a cabinet. In the South, it was with difficulty the inhabitants were precipitated into 'secession.' Indeed, in certain States the leaders dared not risk a popular vote. In the North, the rulers, appalled by the extraordinary magnitude of the crisis, were timid and hesitating, until the inhabitants rose in a body to save their national existence.

It is no answer to this assertion, that large armies are arrayed against us, which engage with animosity in the war. The die cast, the several States committed to the side of treason, there was no alternative: fight they must. As the devil is said to betray his victims into situations where they are compelled to advance from bad to worse, so the conspirators adroitly hastened the people into overt acts from which they were told there was no retreat. We believe these facts to have had great influence with our Government; and in this way we can understand the generous but mistaken forbearance of the administration in the earlier stages of the contest,—we say mistaken, because it was entirely misunderstood by the other side, and placed to the account of cowardice, imbecility or weakness; and because there can be no middle course in carrying on a war. We have suffered enough by it already in money and men; we must suffer no more. Besides, we lose self-respect, and gain only the contempt of the enemy. When the bearer of General Sherman's polite proclamation, addressed 'to the loyal citizens of South Carolina,' communicated it to the two officers near Beaufort, they replied, with courteous nonchalance, 'Your mission is fruitless; there are no loyal citizens in the State.' The general's action in the premises reminds us of that of a worthy clergyman who gave notice that in the morning of the following Sunday he would preach to the young, in the afternoon to the old, in the evening to sinners. The two first services were respectably attended; to the last, not a soul came.

There are no 'sinners' in South Carolina, and General Sherman had better try his hand at something else besides paper persuasions. At all events, we suggest that future proclamations be addressed to those for whom such documents are usually framed, to wit, rebels in arms against constituted authority.[1]

But to our case. We have a rebellion to crush,—a rebellion large in its proportions, threatening in its aspect, but lacking in elements of real strength, and liable to collapse at any moment. To put down this rebellion is the sole object and purpose of the war. We are not fighting to enrich a certain number of army contractors, nor to give employment to half a million of soldiers, or promotion to the officers who command them. Neither are we fighting to emancipate the slaves. It is true the army contractors do get rich, the half million of soldiers are employed, the officers who command them receive advancement, and the slaves may be liberated. But this is not what we fight for. On this head the people have made no mistake. In the outset they proclaimed that this war was to decide the question of government or no government, country or no country, national existence or no national existence. And we must go straight to this mark. We have nothing to do with any issue except how to save the nation. If this shall require the emancipation of every negro in the Southern States, then every negro must be emancipated. And this brings us to another proposition, to wit, that the day is past for discussing this slave question in a corner. This bug-bear of politicians, this ancient annoyance to the Northern Democrat and the Southern old-line Whig, this colored Banquo, will no longer 'down.' We can no longer affect ignorance of the spectre's presence. It is forced on us in the house and by the way. It follows the march of our armies. It is present at the occupation of our Southern ports and towns and villages. Martial law is impotent to deal with it. It frightens by its ugly shadow our Secretary of War; in vain our good President tries to avoid it; in vain we adopt new terms, talk about contrabands, and the like; the inevitable African will present himself, and we are compelled to recognize him.

Notwithstanding we fight for no other end than to save the Republic, we are absolutely driven into the consideration of the slave question, because it involves the very existence of any republic. This question is not whether bondage is to cease throughout the world; but whether it is compatible with a free government, such as we claim our own to be. In other words, is Slavery in the United States to-day on trial? We must all abandon our morbid sensitiveness and come squarely to the consideration of the vital point, to wit, can this great Republic be held together while the 'peculiar system' exists in a part of it? No matter who first posed this ugly query,—Calhoun or Garrison. We have now to answer it. We dare not, we can not, we will not give up our country to disunion and severance. To save it has already cost us an eye and a hand, and now this unhappy subject must be disposed of, disposed of honestly, conscientiously, with the temper of men who feel that the principle of our government is soon to fail or triumph. If to fail, the cause would seem to be lost forever. What then? Why only a monarchy on our Southern border, insolent provinces on our Northern; Spain strengthened in her position, and recovering her lost ground; Mexico an empire; England audacious and overbearing as of yore, and France joining to fill our waters with mighty naval armaments. We, having witnessed the dismemberment of our country, and possessing no longer a nationality, but broken into fragments, to become the jest and laughingstock of the world, which would point to us and say, 'These people began to build, and were not able to finish!'

How do you fancy the picture? Do you think any morbid delicacy, any fear of giving offense to our 'loyal Southern brethren,' should prevent our examining this slave question? We raise, be it understood, no foregone conclusion, we do not even pronounce on the result of the examination; but examine it we must. Not the President, with his honest desire to preserve every guaranteed right to the South; not the Secretary of State, who unites the qualities of a timid man with those of a radical, and who is therefore by instinct temporizing and 'diplomatic;' not any other member of the cabinet, dare longer attempt to slide over or around it. We observe, we venture on no conclusion in advance. We are not prepared to say, if the South in a body should seek now to return to their allegiance, that they could not hedge in and save their 'institution.' But we should still desire to discuss the subject carefully.

So long as slavery was tolerated as a domestic custom long established and difficult to deal with, it stood in the list of permitted evils which all condemn, yet which it seems impossible to get rid of. But it is one thing to tolerate an evil, quite another to adopt it as a good. And we declare that never in the world's history was there an attempt so shameless and audacious as that to found a government on slavery as a cornerstone! Is it possible to conceive of more ungoverned depravity or a madness more complete?[2]

There have been contests innumerable on the earth. We read of wars for conquest, to avenge national insults, about disputed territory, against revolted provinces, and between dynasties; civil wars, religious wars, wars for the succession, to preserve the balance of power, and so forth. But never before was a war inaugurated to establish slavery as a principle of the government. We can predict no other fate for the leaders in this diabolical plot than discomfiture and defeat. We have an unwavering faith that the Republic will come out of this contest stronger than ever before; that it will become a light to lighten the nations, the hope of the lovers of liberty everywhere. But we will not anticipate.

In periods like the present, circumstances appear to be charged with vital and intelligent properties, working out and solving problems which have disturbed and puzzled the wisest and most astute. At such times impertinent intermeddlers abound, who claim to interpret the oracles, and who would hasten the birth of events by acting as midwife. It is impossible to dispose of or silence such people. We should be careful that we are not misled by their egregious pretensions. The fact is, the whole history of our race should teach us a lesson of profound humility. We do not accomplish half so much for ourselves as is accomplished for us. True, we have something to do. The seed will not grow if it be not planted; but all our skill and cunning can not make it spring up and blossom, and bear fruit in perfection. Neither can man work out events after a plan of his own. He is made, in the grand drama of this world, to work out the designs of the Almighty. We must accept this or accept nothing. In this light how futile are the intemperate ravings of one class, the unreasonable complaints of another, the cunning plots of a third. We see no escape from a threatening danger, we perceive no path out of a labyrinthine maze of evil; when, lo! through some apparently trifling incident, by some slight and insignificant occurrence, the whole order of things is changed, the impending danger vanishes, and we thread the labyrinth with ease.

We believe God will provide us a way out of our present troubles. Only we must do our duty, which is to maintain our common country, our flag, the Republic ENTIRE.

Thus much at present. Where this war is to carry us, what shall be its effect on us as a people, what great changes are in progress, and what may result from them, we will discuss at the proper time, in a future number.


'Human nature has been the same in all ages.' 'Men are pretty much the same wherever you find them.'

If there be anything in this world from which it would be desirable to see men delivered, it is from a certain small, cheap wisdom which expresses itself in general verdicts on all humanity, and enables the fribbler or dolt who can not see beyond his nose to give an offhand summary of the infinite. There is 'an aping of the devil' in this flippant assumption of our immutability, which strangely combines the pitiful and painful. Oh! if the ne plus ultra which antique Ignorance complacently inscribes on the gates of its world should ever be worn away, let it be replaced by this owlish credo in the unchangeableness of man.

The refutation of these sayings has been the history of humanity, and yet no argument on political or social topics fails to contain them in one form or another. Even now, in the tremendous debate maintained by common logic and 'fist law' between our North and South, we find them enunciated with a clearness and precision unequaled in any state paper, unless we except that in which William the Conqueror coolly styled himself king 'by the right of the sword.' Science, which modestly announces itself as incomplete the nearer it approaches completion, has been assumed to be perfect by those most ignorant of it, in order that its mere observations as to climate and races may be found to prove that as man is, so he was in all ages, and so must be, 'forever and forever as we rove.' Races now vanished in the twilight of time have been boldly declared to be the prototypes of others, now themselves changing into new forms, and we, unconsciously, like the old Hebrew in Heine's Italy, repeat curses over the ancient graves of long-departed foes—ignorant that those curses were long since fulfilled by the unconquerable and terrible laws which ever hurry us onward and upward, from everlasting to everlasting, from the first Darkness to the infinite word of Light.

The assumption that mankind always has been and will be the same, involves the conclusion that the elements of slavery and scoundrelism, of suffering and of disorder, are immutable in essence and in proportion, and that human exertion wastes itself in vain when it aspires to anything save a rank in the upper ten millions. As for the mass,—'tis a great pity,—mais, que voulez vous? It is the fortune of life's war; and then who knows? Perhaps they are as happy in their sphere as anybody. Only see how they dance! And then they drink—gracious goodness, how they swig it off! the gay creatures! Oh,'tis a very fine world, gentlemen, especially if you whitewash it well, and keep up a plenty of Potemkin card cottages along the road which winds through the wilderness. But above all—never forget that they—drink.

It was well enough for a stormy past, but it may not be so well for the future, that man is prone to hero-worship. Under circumstances, varying, however, immensely, be it observed, humanity has produced Menus, Confuciuses, Platos, Ciceros, Sidneys, Spinozas, scholars and gentlemen, and the ordinary student, seeing them all through a Claude Lorraine glass of modern tinting, thinks them on the whole wonderfully like himself. Horace chaffs with Caesar and Maecenas, Martial quizzes the world and the reader very much as modern club-men and poets would do. It is very convenient to forget how much they have been imitated; still more so to ignore that in both are stores of recondite mode and feeling as yet unpenetrated by any scholar of these days. You think, my brave Artium Baccalaureus, that you feel all that Hafiz felt,—surely he toped and bussed like a good fellow of all times,—and yet for seven centuries the most embracing of scholars have folioed and disputed over the real meaning of that Song of Solomon which is now first beginning to be understood from Hafiz. Man, I tell you that in the old morning of history there were races whose life-blood glowed hotter than ever yours did, with a burning faith, such as you never felt, that all which you now believe to be most execrably infamous was intensely holy. Your wisest scholars lose themselves in trying to unthread the mazes and mysteries of those incomprehensible depths of diabolical worship and intertwined beauty and honor, now known only from trebly diminished mythologic reflection. Perhaps some of those undecipherable hieroglyphs of the East are not so unintelligible to you now as they would be if translated. Do you, for that matter, fully understand why a Hindu yoghi torments himself for thirty years? I observe that the great majority of our good, kind missionaries have no glimmering of an idea why it is done. Brother Zeal, of the first part, says it is superstition. Father Squeal, of the second part, says it is the devil. Very good indeed—so far as it goes.

But look to later ages, and see whether man has been so strikingly similar to us of the present day. There are manias and mysteries of the Middle Ages whose history is smothered in darkness; lost to us out of sheer incapacity to be understood from any modern standpoint of sense or feeling whatever. What do you make out of that crusade of scores of thousands of unarmed, delirious Christians, who started eastward to redeem the holy sepulchre; all their faith and hope of safety being in a goose and a pig which they bore with them? And they all died, those earnest Goose-and-Pigites; died in untold misery and murder—unhappy 'superstition again.' That bolt is soon shot; but I have my misgivings whether it reaches the mark.

Or what do you make of untold and unutterable horrors, or crimes, as they were deemed, which to us seem bewildering nonsense? What of were-wolf manias, of districts made horrible by nightmare and vampyreism, urged to literal and incredible reality; of abominations which no modern wickedness dare hint at, but which raged like epidemics? Or what of the Sieur de Gilles, with his thousand or two of girl children elaborately tortured to death—and he a type and not a sporad?

'But,' we are told, 'men would do all this over again, if they dared. The vice is all here, safely housed away snug as ever, only waiting its time.' I grant it—just as I grant that the same atoms and elements which once formed mastodons and trilobites are here—and with about as much chance of reappearing as mastodons as humanity has of reproducing those antique horrors. The fragments of witch-madness and star-faith may be still raked in tolerably perfect lumps out of the mire or chaff of mankind; but I do not think, young lady, that you will ever be accused of riding on a broom, though you unquestionably had an ancestress, somewhere before or after Hengist, who enjoyed the reputation of understanding that unpopular mode of volatility. Pommade Dupuytren and Eau de toilette have taken the place of the witch-ointments; and if the spice-powder of the old alchemist Mutio di Frangipani has risen from the recipes of the Middle Ages into modern fashion, rest assured that it will never work wonder more, save in connection with bright eyes, rustling fans, and Valenciennes-edged pocket-handkerchiefs.

To the student to whom all battles of the past are not like the dishes of certain Southern hotels,—all served in the same gravy, possessing the same agrarian, muttony flavor,—and to whom Zoroaster and Spurgeon are not merely clergymen, differing only in dress and language, it must appear plain enough that as there are now on earth races physically differing from one another almost as much as from other mammalia, just so in the course of ages have been developed in the same single descent even greater mental and moral differences. In fact, when we remember that the same lust, avarice, ambition and warfare have mingled with our blood at all times, it becomes wonderful when we reflect how marvelously the mind has been molded to such myriad varieties. It has in full consciousness of its power sacrificed all earthly happiness, toiled and died for rulers, for ideas of which it had no idea, for vague war-cries—it has existed only for sensuality, or beauty, or food—for religion or for ostentation, according to different climate or age or soil—it has groveled for ages in misery or roamed free and proud—and between the degraded slave and the proud free-man there is, as I think, a very terrible difference indeed. But, quitting the vast variety of mental developments, faiths, and feelings, let us cast a glance on the general change which history has witnessed in man's physical condition.

First let us premise with certain general laws, that intelligence, physical well-being and freedom have a decided affinity, and are most copiously unfolded in manufacturing countries. That as labor is developed and elaborated, it becomes allied to science and art, and, in a word, 'respectable.' That as these advance it becomes constantly more evident that he who strives to accomplish his labor in the most perfect manner is continually becoming a man of science and an artist, and rising to a well deserved intellectual equality with the 'higher classes.' That, in fine, the tendency of industry—which in this age is only a synonym for the action of capital—is towards Republicanism.

I have already remarked to the effect that so far as the welfare of man in the future is concerned, it is to be regretted that hero-worship should still influence men so largely. When Mr. Smith runs over his scanty historical knowledge, things do not seem so bad on the whole with anybody. Mark Antony and Coriolanus and Francis the First, the plumed barons of the feudal days, and their embroidered and belaced ladies, with the whole merrie companie of pages, fools, troubadours and heralds, seem on the whole to have had fine times of it. 'Bloweth seed and groweth mead'—assuredly the sun shone then as now, people wassailed or wailed—oh, 'twas pretty much the same in all ages. But when we come to the most unmistakable facts, all this sheen of gilded armor and egret-plumes, of gemmed goblet and altar-lace, lute, mandolin, and lay, is cloth of gold over the ghastly, shrunken limbs of a leper. Pass over the glory of knight and dame and see how it was then with the multitude—with the millions. Almost at the first glance, in fact, your knight and dame turn out unwashed, scantily linened, living amid scents and sounds which no modern private soldier would endure. The venison pasty of high festival becomes the daily pork and mustard of home life, with such an array of scrofula and cutaneous disorders as are horrible to think on. The household books of expenditure of the noblest families in England in the fourteenth century scarcely show as much linen used annually among a hundred people as would serve now for one mechanic. People of the highest rank slept naked to save night-clothes. If in Flanders or in Italy we find during their high prosperity some exceptions to this knightly and chivalric piggishness and penury, it is none the less true that they outbalanced it by sundry and peculiar vices. And yet, bad as life then was, it is impossible for us to guess at, or realize, all its foulness. We know it mostly from poets, and the poet and historian, like the artist, have in every age lived quite out of the actual, and with all the tact of repulsion avoided common facts.

But it is with the multitude that truth and common sense and humanity have to deal. And here, whether in Greece or in England, in Italy or in France, lies in the past an abyss of horror whose greatest wonder is, that we, who are only some three centuries distant, know so little of it. There is a favorite compensative theory that man is miraculously self-adaptive to all circumstances, and that deprived of modern comforts and luxuries he would only become more vigorous and independent—that in fact he was on the whole considerably happier under a feudal baron than he has been since. I will believe in this when I find that a man who has exchanged a stinging gout for a mere rheumatism finds himself entirely free from pain. No, the serfs of the Middle Ages were in no sense happy. Stifled moans of misery, a sense of their unutterable agonies, steal up from proverb and by-corners of history—we feel that they were more miserable than jail prisoners at the present day—for then, as now, man groaned at being an inferior, and he had much more than that to groan over in those days of strifes and dirt. And yet every one of those serfs was God's child, as well as the baron who enslaved him. To himself he was a world with an eternity, and of as much importance as all other men. Through what strange heresies and insurrections, based either on innate passion or religious conviction, do we not find Republicanism bursting out in every age, from remote Etruscan rebellions down to Peasants' wars, Anabaptist uprisings, and Jack Cade out-flamings. It was always there, that sense of political equality and right—it always goaded and tormented man, in the silent darkness of ignorance as in the broad light of learning.

So long as European society consisted in a great measure of war tempered by agriculture, there could be but little progress towards a better state of things. But the germ of industry sprouted and grew, though slowly. Merchants bought social privileges for money; even law was grudgingly sold them, and they continued to buy. Against the old idealism, against bugbears and mythology, fairy tales and astrology, dreams, spells, charms, muttered exorcisms, commandments to obey master, ship and serfdom, de jure divino, clouds, mists, and lies infinite; slowly rose that stupendous power of truth and of Nature which had hitherto in humanity only visited the world in broken gleams. We may assume different eras for this dividing point between immutability and progress, between slavery and freedom. In religion, Christianity appears as first offering future happiness for the people and for all. The revival of letters and the Reformation were glorious storms, battering down thousands of old barriers. But in a temporal and worldly point of view the name of Bacon, perhaps, since a name is still necessary, best distinguishes between the old and the new. From him—or his age—dates that grappling with facts, that classifying of all knowledge so soon as obtained, that Wissenschaft or Science which never goes backward; in fine, that information which by its dissemination continually equalizes men and renders rank futile. With science, labor and the laboring man began at once to rise. Comfort and cleanliness and health for the many took the place of ancient deprivation and dirt—whether of body or of soul. Humanity began to improve—for, with all the legends of the bravery of the Middle Ages, it is apparent enough that their heroes or soldiers were not so strong or large as the men of the present day. And through all, amid struggles and strivings and subtle drawbacks and deceits, worked and won its way the great power of Republicanism or of Progress, destroying, one by one, illusions, and building up in their stead fair and enduring realities.

It is but a few decades since the greater portion of all intellectual or inventive effort was devoted to setting off rank, to exalting the exalted, and, by contrast, still further degrading the lowly. What were the glorious works of those mediaeval artists in stone and canvas, in orfevery and silver, in marble and bronze, nielloed salvers, golden chasing, laces as from fairy-land, canopies, garments and gems? All beautiful patents of rank, marks to honor wealthy rank—nothing more, save that and the imperishable proof of genius, which is ever lovely, as a slave or free. But where goes the inventive talent now? Beaumarchais worked for a year to make a watch which only 'the king' could buy. Had he lived to-day he would have striven to invent some improvement which should be found in every man's watch. It 'pays better,' in a word, to invent for the poor many than for the rich few—and invention has found this out. Something which must be had in every cottage,—soap for the million, medicine for the masses, cheap churns, cheap clocks, always something of which one can sell many and much,—such are the objects which claim the labor of genius now. Fools grieve that Art is dead; 'lives at best only in imitation;' and that we have chanced on a godless, humdrum, steam and leather age—one of prose and dust, facts and factories. Sometimes come gasping efforts—sickly self-persuasions that all is not so bad as it seems. Mr. Slasher of the Sunday paper is quite certain that the Creek Indian Girl statue is far superior to anything antique, while Crasher, just back from Europe, shakes his head, and assures the younger hadjis—expectant that the old masters are old humbugs, and that it is generally understood to be so now in France—you can get better pictures at half price any day in the shops. It will not do. The art of small details, the art of pieces and bits, went out with the last architecture. It went over to the people, and from them a higher Art will yet bloom again in a beauty, a freshness, and grandeur never before dreamed of. It will live again in Nature. For it is towards Nature that progress tends—towards real beauty, and not towards the false 'ideal.'

Yet so clearly and beautifully as social progress is defined for us in history—so indisputably distinct as are the outlines in which it rises before us, there are no lack of men to believe that humanity was never so agonized as at present, never so wicked. 'Our cities are more badly governed than were ever cities before,'—'look at the Lobby'—everything is bad. Ah, it moves slowly, no doubt, this progress—and yet it does move. Across rumors and lies and discouraging truths it ever moves,—moves with the worlds through seas of light, but, unlike the worlds, goes not back again to the point of starting. And why should it not be slow, this progress, when an Egypt could lie four thousand years in one type of civilization, when an India could believe itself millions of ages old? Slowly the locomotive gets under way. Long are the first intervals of its piston, long the wheezing sounds of its first breaths. But puff, puff, they come, and ever a little faster. Do we not 'make history rapidly in these days,' since England and France have entered on their modern career? What place has the nineteenth century in the long list of ages?

Everywhere the action of capital, the ringing of the plane, now and then, as in those times, the sound of arms, but all tending to far other ends than the welfare of a reigning family, or to satisfy the revengeful whim of a royal mistress, or the bigotry of a monarch. Public opinion has its say now in all things. Even the rascality of which the conservative complains is individual rascality for private aims, tempered by public opinion, and no longer the sublimely organized rascality of all power and government. Do these things prove nothing? Do they not show that WORK—good, hard, steady, unflinching work—is enlarging man's destiny, and freeing itself step by step from the primeval curse?

It is only during the present century and within the memory of man that in France and Russia the welfare of the people has become the steady object of diplomacy, and this because any other object would now be ruinous. But it is chiefly in America that the most wonderful advance has been made, and it is here, and at the present moment, that the most tremendous struggle has arisen between the adherents of the old faith and the new. In the South, the old feudal baron under a new name, in the North the man of labor and of science, fight again the battle of might and right—the one strong in ignorance, the other stronger in knowledge. Who can doubt what the end thereof shall be? Amid storms and darkness, through death and hell-carnivals, the great truth has ever held its way onwards, slowly, for its heritage is eternal Time, but oh! how surely. And yet there be those who doubt the end and the issue! Doubt—oh, never doubt! For this faith all martyrs have died, in this battle all men have, knowingly or unknowingly, lived—they who fought against it fought for it—for of a verity there was never yet on earth one active deed done which tended not towards the great advance, and to bring on the great jubilee of Freedom.


Among the surviving octogenarians of New York and its vicinity, there are few of such interesting reminiscence as one who is passing an honored old age at his residence on Staten Island. Those who live in Port Richmond will have anticipated his name, and will perceive at once that we refer to the Hon. Ogden Edwards. Judge Edwards is of an ancient and noble stock, being grandson of the author of the treatise on the Freedom of the Will. The family emigrated from England with the first colony of the Puritans, having previously to this suffered persecution in one of its members. This man—a minister—had an only son, who became the founder of a line illustrious for genius and piety. The latter of these traits was illustrated in the lives of both Daniel Edwards, of Hartford, and his son Timothy, who was for sixty years pastor of the church at Windsor, but in the person of Jonathan Edwards we see the outcropping of genius. He was the son of Timothy, and followed his father's profession in an obscure New England village, whose meadows were washed by the waters of the Connecticut.

Jonathan Edwards, during a life of close study, developed one of the clearest and most powerful intellects which was ever united to so rare a degree of patience and humility. In that day of small things it could hardly have been dreamed that the Puritan preacher, who for a quarter of a century filled the Northampton pulpit, would ever rank among the giants of intellect. At the distance of one hundred years no name is more powerfully felt in the theology of America than his, while in metaphysics, and in the sphere of pure thought, his position, like that of Shakspeare in literature, is one of enviable greatness. This man is not to be confounded with his son of the same name, who, though of distinguished ability, was far from equaling his father; both, however, were academic presidents, the one of Nassau Hall, at Princeton, the other of Union College; to which it may be added that Dwight, grandson of the first, was for many years the honored president of Yale. Judge Edwards is the son of Pierrepont Edwards, who was bred at Stockbridge, among the Indians. Here his father labored as missionary, having been driven from his parish by an ill-disposed people, many of whom were, it may be, like the Athenian of old, who was tired of hearing Aristides called 'the Just.'

While laboring at Stockbridge, in the midst of poverty and privation, Jonathan Edwards wrote the treatise on the Freedom of the Will, the greatest of all existing polemics. A portion of the old parsonage remains in the village, and there are still shown marks and scratches on the wall, made by him, as it is said, in the night, to recall by daylight the abstruse meditations of his wakeful hours.

The children learned the Indian tongue, and when Pierrepont Edwards was established at New Haven, the old sachems used to visit the boy-companion of their early days, when the pipe of peace was smoked in his kitchen in ancient form.

Having studied law with Judge Reeve of Litchfield, who married Edwards's niece, the only sister of Aaron Burr, he became highly distinguished in his profession. It is said, indeed, that Alexander Hamilton pronounced him the most eloquent man to whom he had ever listened. Pierrepont Edwards bore the name of his mother's family, an old English stock, which reckons its descent from the days of the Conqueror. The Pierreponts dwelt near Newstead Abbey, the seat of Byron, and not far from Sherwood Forest, the home of Robin Hood and his merry men of old. The name of Sarah Pierrepont, wife of Jonathan Edwards, is still fresh in honored memory for wisdom and piety. She rests by her husband's side, among the tombs of the presidents of Nassau Hall, in Princeton cemetery, and is the only female name in that array of the mighty dead. It was once suggested that these remains should be conveyed to Northampton, but this was refused. Having banished this pair after the service of a quarter of a century, it was not meet to grant to that place the honor of their graves, and hence of the whole family but one rests at Northampton. This is Jerusha, a lovely girl of seventeen, of whom it is recorded by her father, in the simple terms of primitive piety, that she said on her death-bed that 'she had not seen one minute for several years wherein she desired to live one minute longer for the sake of any other good in life, but doing good and living to the glory of God.' A cenotaph has been placed by her grave to the memory of her father, but it can not wipe away the error of the past, and this expression of regret only recalls a biting line from Childe Harold:

'Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar.'

Pierrepont Edwards was the government attorney during the Revolution, and prosecuted the confiscation of tory estates. When Benedict Arnold became a traitor his property was at once seized, and his homestead at Norwich, and all its contents, were confiscated. The pecuniary value of this seizure was small, since Arnold's wasteful habits forbade any increase of wealth, but there was his dwelling, and the little store, with its uncouth sign, 'B. Arnold,' in which in his early day he had carried on a petty trade. In Arnold's house were found large quantities of papers, both of a private and public character. Among the former were certain letters to his first wife, which we have read, and from which we learned that her life was embittered by his habits of neglect and dissipation. In one of these he alludes to a winter trip to Canada, with a sleigh-load of whisky, on speculation. It is possible that this journey prompted that grand expedition in which the whisky merchant figured as a military leader. How strange the contrast between the lonely pedlar, dealing out strong drink in the streets of Quebec, and the victorious chieftain who, in company with Montgomery, attacked its citadel! Some of these domestic letters contain confessions made to an outraged wife, of a character too disgusting for recital. They show a reach of depravity, which, considering those primitive times, in the land of steady habits, was indeed strange. They prove that for years Arnold had been rotten at heart, and that his treason, like that of Floyd, arose from no sudden temptation, but was the end toward which his whole life had been tending. It seemed impossible that such a man could die without achieving infamy in some new and wondrous way. After reading these revelations of domestic treachery, we need not be surprised at the cool perfidy exhibited at West Point. Who but a monster of treason could have penned the papers found in Andre's boot? Thus, 'No. 3, a slight wood work—very dry—no bomb proof—a single abattis—no cannon—the work easily set on fire.' 'No. 4, a wooden work about 10 feet high—no bomb proof—2 six-pounders—a slight abattis.' 'North redoubt—stone work 4 feet high—above the stone, wood filled in with earth—very dry—bomb proof—no ditch—3 batteries within the fort—a poor abattis—the work easily fired with faggots dipped in pitch.' We quote the above, from the Andre papers in the State Library, to show the culmination of a life morally base, and whose only redeeming feature, courage, was rather the nerve of a desperado.

The Arnold papers were for years in Judge Edwards's possession, and the more valuable of them have been presented by him to the New York Historical Society. As Arnold was fully aware of the character of his papers, it is possible that, connected with his bloody foray upon the shores of Connecticut, there was a desire to repossess such adverse testimony.

Pierrepont Edwards died in 1825, having lived to see his son filling the station of Circuit Judge upon the New York bench, where he remained until his sixtieth year.

Those who have ever visited Judge Edwards at his seat at Port Richmond, will not soon forget the pleasant flow of conversation which brings out the incidents of the past. Such a man's life is a series of valuable reminiscences, weaving together the men and manners of generations both past and present. Judge Edwards commenced the practice of the law in New York in 1800, at the early age of nineteen. His progress was marked by rapid promotion, and he was at once accorded a high rank in that galaxy which clustered around the bar. At that time Hamilton was in the fullness of his glory, and his opulent style was set off by the concise and pungent oratory of Burr, who was likewise in his prime. De Witt Clinton was developing that breadth of intellect which afterward made him the pride of New York, and was about to take his seat in the State Senate. It was an era remarkable for brilliance of wit and eloquence, as well as for fierce political strife. The duel was a common method of settling disputes among lawyers and politicians, and few men then entered the political arena who were not good shots. Looking back to this distant point, one is astonished at the simplicity of those beginnings which have ended in colossal greatness. The vast landed estates which now acknowledge lordly owners were then only in inception. The Lenox estate was a range of wild land, far away even from the suburbs of the city, and owned by a plain, plodding merchant, whose son is the munificent and benevolent James Lenox, of whom New York may be justly proud. A strong-minded German of unpolished aspect, and with something of a foreign accent, kept a fur store at the corner of Pearl and Pine Streets, and displayed upon his sign the name of John Jacob Astor. He was then buying up from time to time pieces of land in the vicinity of the city, and the advance of price has at length rendered his estate the most valuable in America.

Turning to literary matters, one might have found Washington Irving reading law in Wall Street, and little dreaming of the fame which awaited his advancing years. Such are among the changes which the retrospect of a long life affords. Among the events which marked Judge Edwards's advent to New York was the fearful duel between Burr and Hamilton. Burr and Edwards were cousins, but the former was more than twenty years the senior, and the blow which he received could not but be felt by the young attorney. However, their friendship remained unbroken through life, and Edwards watched over the unfortunate old man during his declining years. Burr in his better days owned an estate nearly equal to those just referred to, and one which, had he retained it, would have rendered him immensely rich; but, although not a wasteful man, yet his schemes were of a ruinous character, and his property in due time fell into the hands of Astor. In fact, no one could be on friendly terms with Burr without suffering pecuniarily, since his powers of persuasion were beyond refusal. No man had ever been known in America with such fascinating address, and such plausible schemes for carrying out some great enterprise, which, however great, must perish for the lack of endorsing a note, whose payment, of course, one would not expect him to trouble himself with. In his latter days, when all his schemes had exploded, and when his moral character was ruined, and men shunned him as though he were an object of dread, Burr found a friend in his cousin, Ogden Edwards. The one had ascended in popular favor as the other had sunk, and now sat as Circuit Judge of New York. Burr was shattered by paralysis, and being nearly helpless, was removed to a house at Port Richmond, where he received every attention. His pension as colonel in the Continental army gave him a limited support, and his friends clung to him to the last. Much interest was felt to ascertain his views in respect to religion, or at least as to whether any change had taken place since the approach of age. On this point, however, he would not converse, and it is supposed that the infidelity of his early years remained unchanged. He died perfectly conscious, and appeared desirous of communicating something to a son of Judge Edwards, who attended him, but was unable to speak.

Burr was buried at Princeton with military honors. His father and grandfather lie in the row of college presidents, and his grave was made just opposite theirs, leaving only room for a path between. That spot contained the remains of his parents and grandparents, who died in his childhood. Seventy-eight years had passed away since they had fallen asleep, and during that interval not a member of the family had been buried there. For some years Burr's grave was without a stone. At last, a plain but elegant slab of Italian marble was placed at its head. The inscription is simple, yet one can not but start when for the first time he reads that name of thrilling memories. It has been said that the monument was placed there by some mysterious lady, and this romantic statement has gone the rounds of the press. This, however, is incorrect; it was the work of the Edwardses, a family which not only watched over the last years of the unfortunate man, but thus honored his grave.[3]

Among the interesting trials which have occurred under Judge Edwards's jurisdiction, we may mention the famous conspiracy case, in which Jacob Barker, Mathew L. Davis and Henry Eckford were jointly indicted for conspiracy. The object of this conspiracy was to break several of the city banks, and the trial excited intense interest throughout the Union.

The parties were convicted, but carried the case up to the Court of Error, and at last escaped. Hugh Maxwell, who was prosecuting attorney at the time, received a service of plate from the merchants of New York as an acknowledgment of his faithfulness in so important a cause. Another case, which is still remembered for its dramatic interest and for its thrilling details, was that of the notorious Richard P. Robinson. We doubt if any murder case has ever occurred in our country which brought up so many new points to embarrass the bench, or in which that bench bore a higher responsibility.

Robinson was a youth of nineteen, but recently from Connecticut, and was a clerk in the reputable jobbing house of Joseph Hoxie. He was arrested early in the morning at his boarding house in Dey Street, and aroused from a sound sleep, under a charge of murder. The victim was an unfortunate woman, who was found slain in her bed, in a disreputable house in Thomas Street, and who had obtained an escape from youthful misery by the hand of an unknown assassin. But under what name should that assassin be found? It was undeniable that the prisoner had been one of her intimates, but was the crime limited to himself alone? Had he partners in the deed? Was he implicated at all? Was not he wholly innocent of the murder, and only guilty of an unfortunate acquaintance? These were the questions which surrounded the case. It is twenty-four years since the trial absorbed and excited the American public, and at this distance we can not but review the matter as one of singular interest, while the question of guilt is not yet wholly solved. In this point it resembles the affair known as the Mary Rogers mystery, which four years afterward thrilled New York with fresh horror.

This case attracted the genius of Edgar A. Poe, who was then elaborating those complex tales into whose labyrinths he leads the trembling reader, until, when he almost feels himself lost, the clue suddenly brings him to daylight and to upper air. Poe founded upon this terrible tragedy the tale of Marie Roget, in which he effects a plausible solution of the question of guilt. Why did he not also solve that question, equally perplexing, as to who murdered Ellen Jewett? The deed was committed with a hatchet, and as this was proved to have belonged to Hoxie's store, it was a strong proof of Robinson's guilt; but this was rebutted by the assertion that it had been used only to open a trunk, for the purpose of recovering a portrait and sundry gifts,—an act which by no means involved the further crime of murder. Whoever had committed the deed had attempted to hide it by arson, and had fired the bedding by a lighted candle, but a timely discovery had avoided this danger.

Robinson's defence was conducted by Ogden Hoffman, whose acknowledged eloquence rendered him the most desirable of advocates, and he proved himself worthy of the expectation reposed in him. Who that heard can forget his appeals in behalf of the poor boy, which moved the audience to tears, and shook even the equanimity of the jury? The main strength of the defence lay in charging the deed upon the keeper of the house, Rosina Townsend, who was in debt to the murdered girl for such a sum as would make her death desirable. The trial continued two weeks; the interest increased in intensity, and the public were canvassing testimony as fast as it was published, as though life and death to thousands hinged upon the verdict. At last, as a conclusion to all other testimony, Hoffman produced a witness who established an alibi. At twelve o'clock at night word was given that the jury had agreed. The court was opened at that late hour, the prisoner confronted with the jury, and an acquittal pronounced. The prisoner flushed, turned pale, and then sunk to his seat, while Hoffman caught him to his arms, and the aged father became convulsed with sobbing emotion.

Whatever may have been the mystery enshrouding this tragedy, we have long been satisfied as to Robinson's guilt, and we believe that it is now admitted that the alibi was but a bold stroke of well-paid perjury.

Robinson became a wanderer and died in Texas, and Rosina Townsend, having abandoned her infamous career, led a reformed life for some years, and died recently, at Cattskill, in the communion of the church. Hoffman, too, is no more; and, as the old court-house and Bridewell, which stood in the Park, have been torn down, naught remains to recall the tragedy but the house where it occurred. Even this exhibits proof of the changes of time, and now, expurgated of its early shame, one may find 41 Thomas Street serving the honest purpose of a carpenter's shop.

Among the chief objects of curious interest which adorn Judge Edwards's residence, are the family portraits. Here we may look upon the lineaments of the great metaphysician, exhibiting the calm simplicity of greatness. A fitting companion to this is found in Sarah, his wife. As one gazes upon it he can not help admiring the serene beauty of her who softened the stern Puritanism of her age by all the graces of life, and whose beauty of person was set off by a still higher beauty of character. In contrast with these is the fine portrait of their unfortunate grandson, and his daughter, almost as unfortunate, from the pencil of Vanderleyn. The countenance of the first of these is full of life,—the brilliant eye eloquent with power, and the whole features instinct with that strange and fascinating beauty for which Burr was famed. That of Theodosia has a noble bust draped after the antique, and the superb hauteur which pervades her features would have made Cleopatra proud. Yet, under all this there is an expression of girlish loveliness and tender affection, which proved a true heart. No wonder that both Burr and Allston worshiped at the shrine of parental and conjugal love, united as they were in such a one, or that, when she was lost at sea, the one felt the curse scathing him with hopeless desolation, while the other went heart-broken to an early grave.


This age may not behold it; we may lie Sepultured and forgotten, and the mold Of e'er-renewing earth may first enfold New matter to its bosom, and the sky New nations arch beneath its canopy, Ere this misshapen thing, the world, be rolled And sphered to perfect freedom, ere the old Incrusted statutes that our God defy Be crushed in its rotation, and those die That lived defiance through them. Then man's gold No more shall manhood buy, or men be sold For pottage messes. We may not be nigh To see the glory, but if true and bold Our hands may haste what others shall behold.



[The following letter was written by the late JOHN HOWARD PAYNE to a relative in New York, in 1835. The Green-Corn Dance which it describes was, it is believed, the last ever celebrated by the Creeks east of the Arkansas. Soon after, they were removed to the West, where they now are.]

MACON, GEORGIA, ——, 1835. MY DEAR ——.

... I have been among the Indians for a few days lately. Shall I tell you about them? You make no answer, and silence gives consent;—so I will tell you about the Indians.

The State of Alabama, you may remember, has been famous as the abode of the Creek Indians, always regarded as the most warlike of the southern tribes. If you will look over the map of Alabama, you will find, on the west side of it, nearly parallel with the State of Mississippi, two rivers,—one the Coosa and the other the Talapoosa,—which, descending, unite in the Alabama. Nearly opposite to these, about one hundred miles across, you will find another river,—the Chatahoochie, which also descends to form, with certain tributaries, the Apalachicola. It is within the space bounded by these rivers, and especially at the upper part of it, that the Creeks now retain a sort of sovereignty. The United States have in vain attempted to force the Creeks to volunteer a surrender of their soil for compensation. A famous chief among them made a treaty a few years ago to that effect; but the nation arose against him, surrounded his house, ordered his family out, and bade him appear at the door after all but he had departed. He did so. He was shot dead, and the house burned. The treaty only took effect in part, if at all. Perpetual discontents have ensued. The United States have assumed a sort of jurisdiction over the territory, leaving the Creeks unmolested in their national habits and their property, with this exception in their favor, beyond all other tribes but the Cherokees,—they have the right, if they wish to sell, to sell to individuals, at their own prices, but are not bound to treat with the republic at a settled rate,—which last mode of doing business they rather properly looked upon as giving them the appearance of a vanquished race, and subject to the dictation of conquerors. So, what the diplomatists could not achieve was forthwith attempted by speculators;—and among those the everlasting Yankee began to appear, and the Indian independence straightway began to disappear. Certain forms were required by government to give Americans a claim to these Creek lands. The purchaser was to bring the Indian before a government agent;—in the agent's presence, the Indian was to declare what his possessions were, and for how much he would sell them;—the money was paid in presence of the agent, who gave a certificate, which, when countersigned by the President, authorized the purchaser to demand protection from the national arms, if molested. All this was well enough; but it was soon discovered that the speculators would hire miscreants and drunken Indians to personate the real possessors of lands, and, having paid them the money, would take it back as soon as the purchase was completed, give the Indian a jug of whiskey, or a small bag of silver, for the fraud, and so become lords of the soil. Great dissatisfaction arose, and lives were lost. An anonymous letter opened the eyes of government. The white speculators were so desperate and dangerous that any other mode of information was unsafe. Investigators were appointed to examine into the validity of Creek sales, and the examiners met at the time I went to witness a great Indian religious festival, concerning which I will inform you presently; for it was by my curiosity to view this relic of their remotest times that the visit among the Indians, alluded to in the beginning of my letter, was prompted. It has been necessary for me to be thus prolix, to make you understand the nature of the society—and a sort of danger too—by which we were surrounded. On one side, white rogues—border cutthroats—contending, through corrupted red men, for the possessions of those among them, who, though honest, are unwary. On another side, the cheated Indian-robber of his brethren, wheedled by some fresh white cheat into a promise to sell (payable in over-charged goods) at a higher price to the last comer, on condition of the latter individual getting the earlier inadequate sale set aside by the agent of the United States, through evidence from its pretended victim that the payment for it had only been nominal, and was forthwith fradulently withdrawn. Even the judges are accused of being, covertly, sometimes as bad as any of the rest, and it is said that instances are not unknown wherein some of them have, not long after withdrawing from the seat of justice, proved to be full of wealth in lands, which could only be accounted for by a supposed collusion with accusers who have supplied them with pretexts for cancelling prior sales by Indians in favor of better offers, when contrasted with the preceding ones, though offers really amounting to nothing at all in comparison with the true worth of the purchase. Amid these scenes of complicated villany, it is not unusual, after the session of a commission representing the United States for trying the validity of titles, to see a foiled thief rush at the successful overreaching one, with fist and bowie-knife; and it is then accounted a case of uncommon good luck if either live to look upon what both have stolen from the red-man, and one not only from the red-man, but the white.

I beheld a fine, gentle, innocent-looking girl,—a widow, I believe,—come up to the investigator to assert that she had never sold her land. She had been counterfeited by some knave. The Investigator's court was a low bar-room. He saw me eyeing him, and some one told him I was travelling to take notes. He did not know but government had employed me as a secret supervisor. He seemed to shrink, and postponed a decision. I have since heard that he is a rascal of the sort at which I have just hinted.

The ill-starred red people here are entirely at the mercy of interpreters, who, if not negro-slaves of their own, are half-breeds,—a worse set, generally, than the worst of either slaves or knaves. In the jargon of the border, they are called linkisters,—some say because they form, by interpreting, a link between the Indian nations and ours; but I should rather regard the word as a mere corruption of linguist.

The Indians become more easily deluded by the borderers than by others, because the borderers know that they never esteem any one to be substantial who does not keep a shop. So your rascal of the frontier sets up a shop, and is pronounced a sneezer. If his shop be large, he is a sneezer-chubco; if larger than any other, he is a sneezer-chubco-mico. But, in any of his grades, a sneezer is always considered as a personage by no means to be sneezed at. The sneezer will pay for land in goods, and thinks himself very honest if he charges his goods at five hundred times their worth, and can make it appear by his account against the Indian's claim that he has paid him thousands of dollars, when in fact he may scarcely have paid him hundreds of cents.

Well! So much for the beautiful state of our national legislation and morals, as civilizers and protectors of the red-men. It is time for me to relieve you from these details, so uncomplimentary to us of the superior order, and to tell you something about the famous religious festival which took me amongst the Indians, and thereby caused, the foregoing first preamble,—the ennui produced by which I proceed to cure, like a quack doctor, by doubling the dose. Accordingly, here comes a second preamble, by way of introductory explanation of what is to come at last.

The festival in question is called the Green-Corn Festival. All the nation assemble for its celebration at a place set apart for the purpose, as the Temple at Jerusalem was for the religious assemblages of all the Jewish tribes. It has been kept by the Creeks, and many other Indian nations,—indeed, perhaps, by the entire race,—from time immemorial. It is prepared for, as well as fulfilled with, great form and solemnity.

When the green corn is ripe, the Creeks seem to begin their year. Until after the religious rites of the festival with which their New Year is ushered in, it is considered as an infamy to taste the corn. On the approach of the season, there is a meeting of the chiefs of all the towns forming any particular clan. First, an order is given out for the manufacture of certain articles of pottery to be employed in the ceremonies. A second meeting gives out a second order. New matting is to be prepared for the seats of the assembly. There is a third meeting. A vast number of sticks are broken into parts, and then put up in packages, each containing as many sticks as there are days intervening previous to the one appointed for the gathering of the clans. Runners are sent with these. One is flung aside every day by each receiver. Punctually, on the last day, all, with their respective families, are at the well-known rendezvous.

That you may the more clearly understand the whole matter, I will so anticipate my story as to put you in possession of many essential particulars concerning the place set apart by the Creeks for gathering their people to the festival in question. This will provide you with the unexpected gratification of even a third preamble, as an explanatory avenue extra to the main subject.

The chosen spot is remote from any habitations, and consists of an ample square, with four large log houses, each one forming a side of the square, at every angle of which there is a broad opening into the area. The houses are of logs and clay, and a sort of wicker-work, with sharp-topped, sloping roofs, like those of our log houses, but more thoroughly finished. The part of the houses fronting the square is entirely open. Their interior consists of a broad platform from end to end, raised a little more than knee-high, and so curved and inclined as to form a most comfortable place for either sitting or lying. It is covered with the specially-prepared cane matting, which descends in front of it to the ground. A space is left open along the entire back of each house, to afford a free circulation of air. It starts from about the hight of my thin, so that I could peep in from the outside through the whole of each structure, and obtain a clear view of all that was going on. Attached to every house towers a thick, notched mast. Behind, the angle of one of the four broad entrances to the square, rises a high, cone-roofed building, circular and dark, with an entrance down an inclined plane, through a low door. Its interior was so obscured that I could not make out what it contained; but some one said it was a council-house. I occupied one corner of an outer square, next to the one I have already described, two sides of which outer square were formed by thick corn-fields, a third by a raised embankment apparently for spectators, and a fourth by the back of one of the buildings before mentioned. In the center of this outer square was a very high circular mound. This, it seems, was formed from the earth accumulated yearly by removing the surface of the sacred square thither. At every Green-Corn Festival, the sacred square is strewn with soil yet untrodden; the soil of the year preceding being taken away, but preserved as above explained. No stranger's foot is allowed to press the new earth of the sacred square until its consecration is complete. A gentleman told me that he and a friend chanced once to stroll along through the edge, just after the new soil had been laid. A friendly chief saw him and remonstrated, and seemed greatly incensed. He explained that it was done in ignorance. The chief was pacified, but nevertheless caused every spot which had been polluted by their unhallowed steps to be uptorn, and a fresh covering substituted.

The sacred square being ready, every fire in the towns under the jurisdiction of the head chief is, at the same moment, extinguished. Every house must also at that moment have been newly swept and washed. Enmities are forgotten. If a person under sentence for a crime can steal in unobserved and appear among the worshippers when their exercises begin, his crime is no more remembered. The first ceremonial is to light the new fire of the year. A square board is brought, with a small circular hollow in the center. It receives the dust of a forest tree, or of dry leaves. Five chiefs take turns to whirl the stick, until the friction produces a flame. From this sticks are lighted and conveyed to every house throughout the tribe. The original flame is taken to the center of the sacred square. Wood is heaped there, and a strong fire lighted. Over this fire the holy vessels of new-made pottery are placed. Drinking-gourds, with long handles, are set around on a bench. Appointed officers keep up an untiring surveillance over the whole, never moving from the spot; and here what they call the black drink is brewed, with many forms and with intense solemnity.

Now, then, having rendered you, by these numerous prefaces, much better informed about the Creek Jerusalem and its paraphernalia than I was when I got there, I will proceed with my travel story, just as if I had not enabled you to ponder all that I saw so much more understandingly than I myself did.

* * * * *

I cannot describe to you my feelings when I first found myself in the Indian country. We rode miles after miles in the native forest, seeing neither habitation nor an inhabitant to disturb the solitude and majesty of the wilderness. At length we met a native in his native land. He was galloping on horseback. His air was oriental;—he had a turban, a robe of fringed and gaudily-figured calico, scarlet leggings, and beaded belts and garters and pouch. We asked how far it was to the Square. He held up a finger, and we understood him to mean one mile. Next we met two Indian women on horseback, laden with water-melons. In answer to our question of the road, they half covered a finger, to express that it was half a mile further, and, smiling, added,'sneezermuch,' meaning that we should find lots of our brethren, the sneezers, there, to keep us company. We passed groups of Indian horses tied in the shade, with cords long enough to let them graze freely. We then saw the American flag—a gift from the government—floating over one of the hut-tops in the square. We next passed numbers of visitors' horses and carriages, and servants, and under the heels of one horse a drunken vagabond Indian, or half-Indian, asleep. And, finally, we found ourselves at the corner of the sacred square, where the aborigines were in the midst of their devotions.

As soon as I left the carriage, seeing an elevation just outside of one of the open corners of the sacred square, whence a clear view could be obtained of what was going on within, I took my station there. I was afterwards told that this mound was composed of ashes which had been produced during many preceding years by such fires as were now blazing in the center; and that ashes of the sort are never permitted to be scattered, but must thus be gathered up, and carefully and religiously preserved.

Before the solemnities begin,—and, some one said, though I am not sure it was on good authority, ere new earth is placed,—the women dance in the sacred square, and entirely by themselves. I missed seeing this. They then separate from the men, and remain apart from them until after the fasting and other religious forms are gone through, when they have ceremonies of their own, of which I shall speak in due course.

As I gazed from my stand upon the corner mound, the sacred square presented a most striking scene. Upon each of the notched masts, of which I have already spoken as attached to each of the structures within, was a stack of tall canes, hung all over with feathers, black and white. There were rude paint-daubs about the posts and roof-beams of the open house-fronts, and here and there they were festooned with gourd vines. Chiefs were standing around, the sides and corners, alone, and opposite to each other, their eyes riveted on the earth, and motionless as statues. Every building was filled with crowds of silent Indians,—those on the back rows seated in the Turkish fashion, but those in front with their feet to the ground. All were turbaned, all fantastically painted, all in dresses varying in ornament but alike in wildness. One chief wore a tall black hat, with a broad, massive silver band around it, and a peacock's feather; another had a silver scull-cap, with a deep silver bullion fringe down to his eyebrows, and plates of silver from his breast to his knee, descending his tunic. Most of them had the eagle plume, which only those may wear who have slain a foe; numbers sported military plumes in various positions about their turbans; and one had a tremendous tuft of black feathers declining from the back of his head over his back; while another's head was all shaven smooth, excepting a tuft across the center from the back to the front, like the crest of a helmet.

I never saw an assembly more absorbed with what they regarded as the solemnities of the occasion.

The first sounds I heard were a strange low, deep wail,—a sound of many voices drawn out in perfect unison, and only dying away with the breath itself, which indeed was longer sustained than could be done by any singer I ever yet heard. This was followed by a second wail, in the same style, but shrill, like the sound of musical glasses, and giving a similar shiver to the nerves. And after a third wail in another key, the statue-like figures moved and formed two diagonal lines opposite to each other, their backs to opposite angles of the square. One by one, they then approached the huge bowls in which the black drink was boiling, and, in rotation, dipped a gourd, and took, with a most reverential expression, a long, deep draught each. The next part of the ceremony with them was somewhat curious; but the rapt expression of the worshippers took away the effect which such an evolution would be apt to produce on a fastidious stomach if connected with an uninterested head. In short, these dignitaries, without moving a muscle of the face, or a joint of the body, after a few seconds, and with great solemnity, ejected what had been swallowed upon the ground. It seemed as if given forth in the spirit of a libation among the ancients. The chiefs having afterwards tasted, each replacing the gourd, and returning to his stand before the next came forward, they all went to their seats, and two old men approached and handed round gourds full to the other parties present who had remained stationary. The looks on each side were as full of solemn awe as I have ever seen at any Christian ceremony; and certainly the awe was more universal than usually pervades our churches.

This done, a chief made a speech, but without rising. It was listened to with profound attention, and in one place, at a pause, called forth a very unanimous and emphatic shout of approbation,—a long sound, seemingly of two syllables, but uttered by all in the same breath. I asked a professed linkister what the speech was about; but he was either indifferent or ignorant, for he only replied that it was an appeal to them not to forsake their ancient ceremonies, but to remain faithful in their fulfilment to the last, and that it wound up with a sort of explanatory dissertation upon the forms which were to follow.

One chief then walked round, and, in short, abrupt sentences, seemed to give directions; whereupon some whitened, entire gourds, with long handles, and apparently filled with pebbles, were produced; and men took their stations with them on mats, while those who had been seated all arose, and formed in circles around the fire, led by a chief, and always beginning their movement towards the left. The gourds were shaken;—there arose a sort of low sustained chant as the procession went on; and it was musical enough, but every few seconds, at regular intervals, a sound was thrown in by all the dancers, in chorus, like the sharp, quick, shrill yelp of a dog. The dance seemed to bear reference to the fires in the center. Every time they came to a particular part of the square, first the head chief turned and uplifted his hands over the flame, as if invoking a benediction, and all the people followed his example in rotation. The dance was very unlike anything I ever saw before. The dancers never crossed their feet, but first gave two taps each with the heel and toe of one foot, then of the other, making a step forward as each foot was tapped on the earth; their bodies all the while stately and erect, and each, with a feather fan,—their universal and indispensable companion,—fanning himself, and keeping time with his fan as he went on. The dance was quickened, at a signal, till it became nearly a measured run, and the cries of the dancers were varied to suit the motion, when, suddenly, all together uttered a long, shrill whoop, and stopped short, some few remaining as guards about the sacred square, but most of the throng forthwith rushing down a steep, narrow ravine, canopied with foliage, to the river, into which they plunged; and the stream was black on every side with their heads as they swam about, playing all sorts of antics; the younger ones diving to fetch up pieces of silver money which the visitors flung into the water, to put their dexterity to the test.

Returning to the sacred square, they went through other dances around the fire, varying in figure and accompaniment. All were generally led by some aged chief, who uttered a low, broken sound, to which the others responded in chorus. Sometimes the leader, as he went around, would ejaculate a feeble, tremulous exclamation, like alleluliah, alleluliah, laying the stress upon the last syllable, to which all would respond in perfect accord, and with a deep, sonorous bass, 'alleluliah,' and the same alternation continued to the close, which was invariably sudden, and after a long general whoop.

Each dance seemed to have a special form and significance;—one in particular, where the dancers unstacked the tall canes with feathers suspended from them, each taking one from the mast sustaining it; and this one, I was told, meant to immortalize triumphs won at ball-plays. The feathered canes are seized as markers of points gained by the bearers in the ball-play, which is the main trial of strength and skill among rival clans of the same tribe, in friendship, and even between tribe and tribe, when in harmony. The effect of these canes and feathers, as they glanced around, with an exulting chorus, was very inspiriting, and the celebrants became almost wild with their delight as it drew near its climax, ending their closing whoop with a general laugh of triumphant recollection.

Other dances were represented as alluding to conquests over bears and panthers, and even the buffalo, which last memorial is remarkable enough, having among them survived all traces of the buffalo itself. But, excepting these vague hints, I could not find any bystander capable of giving me a further explanation of any point on which I inquired, than that it was 'an old custom;' or, if they wished to be more explicit, with a self-satisfied air, they would gravely remark that it was 'the green-corn dance,'—which I knew as well as they. Could I have been instructed even in their phrases and speeches, I might have made valuable conjectures. But even their language, on these occasions, seems, by their own admission, beyond the learning of the 'linkisters.' It is a poetical, mystical idiom, varying essentially from that of trading and of familiar intercommunication, and utterly incomprehensible to the literal minds of mere trafficking explainers. Even were it otherwise, the persons hovering upon the frontier most ingenuously own, when pressed for interpretations of Indian customs, that they care nothing for the Indians excepting to get their lands, and that they really consider all study concerning them as egregious folly, save only that of finding out how much cotton their grounds will yield, and in what way the greatest speculations can be accomplished with the smallest capital.

The last of the ceremonies of the day consisted of a sort of trial of fortitude upon the young.

Old chiefs were seated at the back of the council-house, and of the four houses of the square. They had sharp instruments,—sail-needles, awls, and flints. Children of from four to twelve, and youths, and young men, presented their limbs, and the instrument was plunged into the thighs and the calves of the legs, and drawn down in long, straight lines. As the blood streamed, the wounded would scoop it up with bark or sticks, and dash it against the back of the building; and all the building thus became clotted with gore. The glory of the exercise seemed to be to submit without flinching, without even consciousness. The youngest children would sometimes show the most extraordinary self-control. All offered themselves to the experiment voluntarily. If a shudder were detected, the old chiefs gashed deeper. But where they saw entire firmness, an involuntary glow of admiration would flit over their stony faces.

We now left, and went to an infant town—and a savage infant it seemed—over the river to break our fast,—an indulgence which to our Indian friends is not permitted. They may neither eat nor sleep until the ceremonies close. The town we went to is named Talassee. It has but about a dozen houses as yet, but is delightfully situated, and I should not wonder to see a large place there in another twelvemonth. It belongs to the region of a clan different from the one we left, though part of the same tribe. Here the investigating agent held his court; and the place was crowded with drunken Indians, and more uncivilized speculators, parading about, as some had done among the spectators at the festival, with blacked eyes and lacerated faces,—the trophies of civil war for savage plunder. At the house where we dined, I found the landlady and her family implacable Indian haters. I was afterwards told the cause. Her husband is continually marrying Indian wives,—probably to entitle himself to their lands. He, being a sneezer, and keeping a tavern, is a great man among them. I saw a very comely young squaw promenading, who believed herself to be one of the sneezer-chubco-mico's last wives. The man's white and original wife and daughters made an excuse to walk by, to have a look at the aboriginal interloper. The latter had just received from my landlord a present of a pair of gaudy bracelets, for which he had paid eighteen dollars at another sneezer's,—bracelets worth about four. I was told how the man came by this red mate of his. He had taken a young chiefs wife in her husband's absence. The chief, returning while my landlord was absent, got his young wife back. The landlord, on reappearing, is said to have threatened the chief with General Jackson and big guns. The chief said he was partial to his wife; but he had a sister much prettier, and, for the sake of peace, if nothing were said about the matter, Mr. Landlord should have her for a wife. The bargain was struck. The handsome little squaw I have spoken of is that same young chief's sister. This stealing of wives is beginning to excite some commotion. I heard that there had been a council of chiefs in the neighborhood of Talassee. It was a very animated one, and the wrong of wife-stealing was violently discussed. It was thought by some almost as bad as land-stealing. Others felt rather relieved by it. One of the drunken Indians whom I saw reeling and whooping about, as I stood at the door of the log hut where we dined, seemed of the latter party. I asked a linkister the meaning of a song the Indian was singing with such glee. The black linkister laughed, and was reluctant to explain; but when I pressed him, the following proved to be the meaning of the burthen:—

A man may have a wife, And that wife an untrue one; And yet the man won't die, But go and get a new one.

No doubt the poor fellow had been robbed in the same way, and, between music and whiskey, was providing himself with consolation.

I was invited to 'camp out,' as they call it, near the sacred square. A Mr. Du Bois, a man with an Indian wife and family, had arrangements for the purpose in a neighboring field; so I went to the evening dance, and left my party to the enjoyment of a sheltering roof at the frontier Blue Beard's in Talassee; having made up my mind, after I had seen enough more of the Indian festival for the night, to accept the proffered 'field-bed' which was so conveniently nigh, and sleep, for the first time, in a real 'sky parlor.'

I sat to look at the evening dances till very late. The blazing fire through the darkness gave a new aspect and still more striking wildness to the fantastic scene. Some ceremonies yet unattempted seemed to be going on over the drinks in the deep cauldrons; and the figures around them, with those of the dancers, reminded me of the witch scenes in Macbeth, as conceived by Shakspeare, not by the actors of them upon the stage. Four grim figures were stirring the cauldrons incessantly, with a sort of humming incantation, the others dancing around. In one of their dances they used a sort of small kettle-drum, with a guitar-like handle to it. But after a while, the evening dances seemed to vary from the devotional to the complimentary and to the diverting; but the daylight ones were altogether devotional. Apotheola led one of the less lofty order, and he is one of the most popular and respected of their chiefs. Its music seemed to consist of an exclamation from him of Yo, ho, ho! yo, ho, ho!—to which the response appeared as if complimentary, and to contain only the animated and measured repetition of ApotheoLA! ApotheoLA! Another dance, which excited most boisterous mirth, was led by a chief who is called by the borderers Peter the Gambler. He is a great humorist, and famous for his love of play,—famous even among the Indians, who are all gamblers. Once throwing dice with a chief, he staked himself against a negro slave, and won the negro. I never saw a party more diverted than were the lookers-on at this dance. It was all monkey capers, but all with a meaning to the Indians beyond the perception of the whites. The Indian spectators made their remarks from their couches as the solemn mockeries proceeded, and the object of the remarks seemed to be to provoke the dancers to laugh by making fun, and the object of the dancers to provoke the fun-makers to laugh by performing extravagant caricatures with imperturbable gravity.

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse