Gov. Bob. Taylor's Tales.
"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW,"
"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS",
"VISIONS AND DREAMS."
Published by DeLONG RICE & COMPANY. Nashville, Tenn.
COPYRIGHTED, 1896. All rights reserved by DeLong Rice & Co.
UNIVERSITY PRESS CO., NASHVILLE, TENN.
This volume presents the first publication of the famous lectures of Governor Robert L. Taylor. His great popularity as an orator and entertainer, and his wide reputation as a humorist, have caused repeated inquiries from all sections of the country for his lectures in book form; and this has given rise to an earlier publication than was expected.
The lectures are given without the slightest abridgment, just as delivered from the platform throughout the country. The consecutive chain of each is left undisturbed; and the idea of paragraphing, and giving headlines to the various subjects treated, was conceived merely for the convenience of the reader.
In the dialect of his characters, the melody of his songs, and the originality of his quaint, but beautiful conceptions, Governor Taylor's lectures are temples of thought, lighted with windows of fun.
Temples of Thought, Lighted with Windows Of Fun.
"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW." 9 Cherish the Little Ones 19 Fat Men and Bald-Headed Men 22 The Poet Laureate of Music 23 The Convict and His Fiddle 25 A Vision of The Old Field School 27 The Quilting and the Old Virginia Reel 36 The Candy Pulling 44 The Banquet 48 There is Music All Around Us 53 The Two Columns. 61 There is a Melody for Every Ear 63 Music is the Wine of the Soul 66 The Old Time Singing School 72 The Grand Opera 78 Music 80
"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS." 83 The Paradise of Childhood 90 The Paradise of the Barefooted Boy 98 The Paradise of Youth 104 The Paradise of Home 112 Bachelor and Widower 117 Phantoms 119 The False Ideal 121 The Circus in the Mountains 123 The Phantom of Fortune 128 Clocks 130 The Panic 133 Bunk City 135 Your Uncle 137 Fools 140 Blotted Pictures 143
"VISIONS AND DREAMS." 147 The Happy Long Ago 151 Dreams of the Years to Come 160 From the Cave-man to the Kiss-o-phone 169 Dreams 175 Visions of Departed Glory 178 Nature's Musicians 181 Preacher's Paradise 185 Brother Estep and the Trumpet 189 "Wamper-jaw" at the Jollification 190 The Tintinnabulation of the Dinner Bells 193 Phantoms of the Wine Cup 196 The Missing Link 197 Nightmare 198 Infidelity 200 The Dream of God 201
"THE FIDDLE AND THE BOW."
I heard a great master play on the wondrous violin; his bow quivered like the wing of a bird; in every quiver there was a melody, and every melody breathed a thought in language sweeter than was ever uttered by human tongue. I was conjured, I was mesmerized by his music. I thought I fell asleep under its power, and was rapt into the realm of visions and dreams. The enchanted violin broke out in tumult, and through the rifted shadows in my dream I thought I saw old ocean lashed to fury. The wing of the storm-god brooded above it, dark and lowering with night and tempest and war. I heard the shriek of the angry hurricane, the loud rattling musketry of rain, and hail, and the louder and deadlier crash and roar of the red artillery on high. Its rumbling batteries, unlimbered on the vapory heights and manned by the fiery gunners of the storm, boomed their volleying thunders to the terrible rythm of the strife below. And in every stroke of the bow fierce lightnings leaped down from their dark pavilions of cloud, and, like armed angels of light, flashed their trenchant blades among the phantom squadrons marshalling for battle on the field of the deep. I heard the bugle blast and battle cry of the charging winds, wild and exultant, and then I saw the billowy monsters rise, like an army of Titans, to scale and carry the hostile heights of heaven. Assailing again and again, as often hurled back headlong into the ocean's abyss, they rolled, and surged, and writhed, and raged, till the affrighted earth trembled at the uproar of the warring elements. I saw the awful majesty and might of Jehovah flying on the wings of the tempest, planting his footsteps on the trackless deep, veiled in darkness and in clouds. There was a shifting of the bow; the storm died away in the distance, and the morning broke in floods of glory. Then the violin revived and poured out its sweetest soul. In its music I heard the rustle of a thousand joyous wings, and a burst of song from a thousand joyous throats. Mockingbirds and linnets thrilled the glad air with warblings; gold finches, thrushes and bobolinks trilled their happiest tunes; and the oriole sang a lullaby to her hanging cradle that rocked in the wind. I heard the twitter of skimming swallows and the scattered covey's piping call; I heard the robin's gay whistle, the croaking of crows, the scolding of blue-jays, and the melancholy cooing of a dove. The swaying tree-tops seemed vocal with bird-song while he played, and the labyrinths of leafy shade echoed back the chorus. Then the violin sounded the hunter's horn, and the deep-mouthed pack of fox hounds opened loud and wild, far in the ringing woods, and it was like the music of a hundred chiming bells. There was a tremor of the bow, and I heard a flute play, and a harp, and a golden-mouthed cornet; I heard the mirthful babble of happy voices, and peals of laughter ringing in the swelling tide of pleasure. Then I saw a vision of snowy arms, voluptuous forms, and light fantastic slippered feet, all whirling and floating in the mazes of the misty dance. The flying fingers now tripped upon the trembling strings like fairy-feet dancing on the nodding violets, and the music glided into a still sweeter strain. The violin told a story of human life. Two lovers strayed beneath the elms and oaks, and down by the river side, where daffodils and pansies bend and smile to rippling waves, and there, under the bloom of incense-breathing bowers, under the soothing sound of humming bees and splashing waters, there, the old, old story, so old and yet so new, conceived in heaven, first told in Eden and then handed down through all the ages, was told over and over again. Ah, those downward drooping eyes, that mantling blush, that trembling hand in meek submission pressed, that heaving breast, that fluttering heart, that whispered "yes," wherein a heaven lies—how well they told of victory won and paradise regained! And then he swung her in a grapevine swing. Young man, if you want to win her, wander with her amid the elms and oaks, and swing her in a grapevine swing.
"Swinging in the grapevine swing, Laughing where the wild birds sing; I dream and sigh for the days gone by, Swinging in the grapevine swing."
But swiftly the tides of music run, and swiftly speed the hours; Life's pleasures end when scarce begun, e'en as the summer flowers.
The violin laughed like a child and my dream changed again. I saw a cottage amid the elms and oaks and a little curly-head toddled at the door; I saw a happy husband and father return from his labors in the evening and kiss his happy wife and frolic with his baby. The purple glow now faded from the Western skies; the flowers closed their petals in the dewy slumbers of the night; every wing was folded in the bower; every voice was hushed; the full-orbed moon poured silver from the East, and God's eternal jewels flashed on the brow of night. The scene changed again while the great master played, and at midnight's holy hour, in the light of a lamp dimly burning, clad in his long, white mother-hubbard, I saw the disconsolate victim of love's young dream nervously walking the floor, in his bosom an aching heart, in his arms the squalling baby. On the drowsy air, like the sad wails of a lost spirit, fell his woeful voice singing:
With my la-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye ba-by, Danc-ing the ba-by ev-er so high; with my La-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye ba-by Mam-ma will come to you bye and bye.
It was a battle with king colic. But this ancient invader of the empire of babyhood had sounded a precipitate retreat; the curly head had fallen over on the paternal shoulder; the tear-stained little face was almost calm in repose, when down went a naked heel square on an inverted tack. Over went the work table; down came the work basket, scissors and all; up went the heel with the tack sticking in it, and the hero of the daffodils and pansies, with a yell like the Indian war-whoop, and with his mother-hubbard now floating at half mast, hopped in agony to a lounge in the rear.
There was "weeping and gnashing of teeth;" there were hoarse mutterings; there was an angry shake of the screaming baby, which he had awakened again. Then I heard an explosion of wrath from the warm blankets of the conjugal couch, eloquent with the music of "how dare you shake my little baby that way!!!! I'll tell pa to-morrow!" which instantly brought the trained husband into line again, singing:
"La-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, dancing the baby ever so high, With my la-e, lo-e, hush-a-bye baby, mamma will come to you bye and bye."
The paregoric period of life is full of spoons and midnight squalls, but what is home without a baby?
The bow now brooded like a gentle spirit over the violin, and the music eddied into a mournful tone; another year intervened; a little coffin sat by an empty cradle; the prints of baby fingers were on the window panes; the toys were scattered on the floor; the lullaby was hushed; the sobs and cries, the mirth and mischief, and the tireless little feet were no longer in the way to vex and worry. Sunny curls drooped above eyelids that were closed forever; two little cheeks were bloodless and cold, and two little dimpled hands were folded upon a motionless breast. The vibrant instrument sighed and wept; it rang the church bell's knell; and the second story of life, which is the sequel to the first, was told.
Then I caught glimpses of a half-veiled paradise and a sweet breath from its flowers; I saw the hazy stretches of its landscapes, beautiful and gorgeous as Mahomet's vision of heaven; I heard the faint swells of its distant music and saw the flash of white wings that never weary, wafting to the bosom of God an infant spirit; a string snapped; the music ended; my vision vanished.
The old Master is dead, but his music will live forever.
CHERISH THE LITTLE ONES.
Do you sometimes forget and wound the hearts of your children with frowns and the dagger of cruel words, and sometimes with a blow? Do you sometimes, in your own peevishness, and your own meanness, wish yourself away from their fretful cries and noisy sports? Then think that to-morrow may ripen the wicked wish; tomorrow death may lay his hand upon a little fluttering heart and it will be stilled forever. 'Tis then you will miss the sunbeam and the sweet little flower that reflected heaven on the soul. Then cherish the little ones! Be tender with the babes! Make your homes beautiful! All that remains to us of paradise lost, clings about the home. Its purity, its innocence, its virtue, are there, untainted by sin, unclouded by guile. There woman shines, scarcely dimmed by the fall, reflecting the loveliness of Eden's first wife and mother; the grace, the beauty, the sweetness of the wifely relation, the tenderness of maternal affection, the graciousness of manner which once charmed angel guests, still glorify the home.
If you would make your homes happy, you must make the children happy. Get down on the floor with your prattling boys and girls and play horse with them; take them on your back and gallop them to town; don't kick up and buck, but be a good and gentle old steed, and join in a hearty horse laugh in their merriment. Take the baby on your knee and gallop him to town; let him practice gymnastics on top of your head and take your scalp; let him puncture a hole in your ear with his little teeth, and bite off the end of the paternal nose. Make your homes beautiful with your duty and your love, make them bright with your mirth and your music.
Victor Hugo said of Napoleon the Great: "The frontiers of kingdoms oscillated on the map. The sound of a super-human sword being drawn from its scabbard could be heard; and he was seen, opening in the thunder his two wings, the Grand Army and the Old Guard; he was the archangel of war." And when I read it I thought of the death and terror that followed wherever the shadow of the open wings fell. I thought of the blood that flowed, and the tears that were shed wherever the sword gleamed in his hand. I thought of the human skulls that paved Napoleon's way to St. Helena's barren rock, and I said, 'I would rather dwell in a log cabin, in the beautiful land of the mountains where I was born and reared, and sit at its humble hearthstone at night, and in the firelight, play the humble rural tunes on the fiddle to my happy children, and bask in the smiles of my sweet wife, than to be the 'archangel of war,' with my hands stained with human blood, or to make the 'frontiers of kingdoms oscillate on the map of the world, and then, away from home and kindred and country, die at last in exile and in solitude.'
FAT MEN AND BALD-HEADED MEN.
It ought to be the universal law that none but fat men and bald-headed men should be the heads of families, because they are always good natured, contented and easily managed. There is more music in a fat man's laugh than there is in a thousand orchestras or brass bands. Fat sides and bald heads are the symbols of music, innocence, and meek submission. O! ladies listen to the words of wisdom! Cultivate the society of fat men and bald-headed men, for "of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." And the fat women, God bless their old sober sides—they are "things of beauty, and a joy forever."
THE VIOLIN, THE POET LAUREATE OF MUSIC.
How sweet are the lips of morning that kiss the waking world! How sweet is the bosom of night that pillows the world to rest. But sweeter than the lips of morning, and sweeter than the bosom of night, is the voice of music that wakes a world of joys and soothes a world of sorrows. It is like some unseen ethereal ocean whose silver surf forever breaks in song; forever breaks on valley, hill, and craig, in ten thousand symphonies. There is a melody in every sunbeam, a sunbeam in every melody; there is a flower in every song, a love song in every flower; there is a sonnet in every gurgling fountain, a hymn in every brimming river, an anthem in every rolling billow. Music and light are twin angels of God, the first-born of heaven, and mortal ear and mortal eye have caught only the echo and the shadow of their celestial glories.
The violin is the poet laureate of music; violin of the virtuoso and master, fiddle of the untutored in the ideal art. It is the aristocrat of the palace and the hall; it is the democrat of the unpretentious home and humble cabin. As violin, it weaves its garlands of roses and camelias; as fiddle it scatters its modest violets. It is admired by the cultured for its magnificent powers and wonderful creations; it is loved by the millions for its simple melodies.
THE CONVICT AND HIS FIDDLE.
One bright morning, just before Christmas day, an official stood in the Executive chamber in my presence as Governor of Tennessee, and said: "Governor, I have been implored by a poor miserable wretch in the penitentiary to bring you this rude fiddle. It was made by his own hands with a penknife during the hours allotted to him for rest. It is absolutely valueless, it is true, but it is his petition to you for mercy. He begged me to say that he has neither attorneys nor influential friends to plead for him; that he is poor, and all he asks is, that when the Governor shall sit at his own happy fireside on Christmas eve, with his own happy children around him, he will play one tune on this rough fiddle and think of a cabin far away in the mountains whose hearthstone is cold and desolate and surrounded by a family of poor little wretched, ragged children, crying for bread and waiting and listening for the footsteps of their father."
Who would not have been touched by such an appeal? The record was examined; Christmas eve came; the Governor sat that night at his own happy fireside, surrounded by his own happy children; and he played one tune to them on that rough fiddle. The hearthstone of the cabin in the mountains was bright and warm; a pardoned prisoner sat with his baby on his knee, surrounded by his rejoicing children, and in the presence of his happy wife, and although there was naught but poverty around him, his heart sang: "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;" and then he reached up and snatched his fiddle down from the wall, and played "Jordan is a hard road to travel."
A VISION OF THE OLD FIELD SCHOOL.
Did you never hear a fiddler fiddle? I have. I heard a fiddler fiddle, and the hey-dey-diddle of his frolicking fiddle called back the happy days of my boyhood. The old field schoolhouse with its batten doors creaking on wooden hinges, its windows innocent of glass, and its great, yawning fireplace, cracking and roaring and flaming like the infernal regions, rose from the dust of memory and stood once more among the trees. The limpid spring bubbled and laughed at the foot of the hill. Flocks of nimble, noisy boys turned somersaults and skinned the cat and ran and jumped half hammon on the old play ground. The grim old teacher stood in the door; he had no brazen-mouthed bell to ring then as we have now, but he shouted at the top of his voice: "Come to books!!!" And they came. Not to come meant "war and rumors of war." The backless benches, high above the floor, groaned under the weight of irrepressible young America; the multitude of mischievous, shining faces, the bare legs and feet, swinging to and fro, and the mingled hum of happy voices, spelling aloud life's first lessons, prophesied the future glory of the State. The curriculum of the old field school was the same everywhere—one Webster's blue backed, elementary spelling book, one thumb-paper, one stone-bruise, one sore toe, and Peter Parley's Travels.
The grim old teacher, enthroned on his split bottomed chair, looked terrible as an army with banners; and he presided with a dignity and solemnity which would have excited the envy of the United States Supreme Court: I saw the school commissioners visit him, and heard them question him as to his system of teaching. They asked him whether, in geography, he taught that the world was round, or that the world was flat. With great dignity he replied: "That depends upon whar I'm teachin'. If my patrons desire me to teach the round system, I teach it; if they desire me to teach the flat system, I teach that."
At the old field school I saw the freshman class, barefooted and with pantaloons rolled up to the knees, stand in line under the ever uplifted rod, and I heard them sing the never-to-be-forgotten b-a ba's. They sang them in the olden times, and this is the way they sang: "b-a ba, b-e be, b-i bi-ba be bi, b-o bo, b-u bu-ba be bi bo bu."
I saw a sophomore dance a jig to the music of a dogwood sprout for throwing paper wads. I saw a junior compelled to stand on the dunce block, on one foot—(a la gander) for winking at his sweetheart in time of books, for failing to know his lessons, and for "various and sundry other high crimes and misdemeanors."
A twist of the fiddler's bow brought a yell from the fiddle, and in my dream, I saw the school come pouring out into the open air. Then followed the games of "prisoner's base," "town-ball," "Antney-over;" "bull-pen" and "knucks," the hand to hand engagements with yellow jackets, the Bunker Hill and Brandywine battles with bumblebees, the charges on flocks of geese, the storming of apple orchards and hornet's nests, and victories over hostile "setting" hens. Then I witnessed the old field school "Exhibition"—the wonderful "exhibition"—they call it Commencement now. Did you never witness an old field school "exhibition," far out in the country, and listen to its music? If you have not your life is a failure—you are a broken string in the harp of the universe. The old field school "exhibition" was the parade ground of the advance guard of civilization; it was the climax of great events in the olden times; and vast assemblies were swayed by the eloquence of the budding sockless statesmen. It was at the old field school "exhibition" that the goddess of liberty always received a broken nose, and the poetic muse a black eye; it was at the old field school "exhibition" that Greece and Rome rose and fell, in seas of gore, about every fifteen minutes in the day, and,
The American eagle, with unwearied flight, Soared upward and upward, till he soared out of sight.
It was at the old field school "exhibition" that the fiddle and the bow immortalized themselves. When the frowning old teacher advanced on the stage and nodded for silence, instantly there was silence in the vast assembly; and when the corps of country fiddlers, "one of which I was often whom," seated on the stage, hoisted the black flag, and rushed into the dreadful charge on "Old Dan Tucker," or "Arkansas Traveller," the spectacle was sublime. Their heads swung time; their bodies rocked time; their feet patted time; the muscles of their faces twitched time; their eyes winked time; their teeth ground time. The whizzing bows and screaming fiddles electrified the audience who cheered at every brilliant turn in the charge of the fiddlers. The good women laughed for joy; the men winked at each other and popped their fists; it was like the charge of the Old Guard at Waterloo, or a battle with a den of snakes. Upon the completion of the grand overture of the fiddlers the brilliant programme of the "exhibition," which usually lasted all day, opened with "Mary had a little lamb;" and it gathered fury until it reached Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!!!" The programme was interspersed with compositions by the girls, from the simple subject of "flowers," including "blessings brighten as they take their flight," up to "every cloud has a silver lining;" and it was interlarded with frequent tunes by the fiddlers from early morn till close of day.
Did you never hear the juvenile orator of the old field school speak? He was not dressed like a United States Senator; but he was dressed with a view to disrobing for bed, and completing his morning toilet instantly; both of which he performed during the acts of ascending and descending the stairs. His uniform was very simple. It consisted of one pair of breeches rolled up to the knees, with one patch on the "western hemisphere," one little shirt with one button at the top, one "gallus," and one invalid straw hat. His straw hat stood guard over his place on the bench, while he was delivering his great speech at the "exhibition." With great dignity and eclat, the old teacher advanced on the stage and introduced him to the expectant audience, and he came forward like a cyclone.
"The boy stood on the burnin' deck whence all but him had fled——The flames that lit the battle's wreck shown 'round him o'er the dead, yet beautiful and bright he stood——the boy stood on the burnin' deck——and he wuz the bravest boy that ever wuz. His father told him to keep a-stan'in' there till he told him to git off'n there, and the boy he jist kep' a stan'in' there——and fast the flames rolled on——The old man went down stairs in the ship to see about sump'n, an' he got killed down there, an' the boy he didn't know it, an' he jist kept a stan'in' there——an' fast the flames rolled on. He cried aloud: "say father, say, if yit my task is done," but his father wuz dead an' couldn't hear 'im, an' the boy he jist kep' a stan'in' there——an' fast the flames rolled on.——They caught like flag banners in the sky, an' at last the ol' biler busted, an' the boy he went up!!!!!!!!"
At the close of this great speech the fiddle fainted as dead as a herring.
THE QUILTING AND THE OLD VIRGINIA REEL.
The old fiddler took a fresh chew of long, green tobacco, and rosined his bow. He glided off into "Hop light ladies, your cake's all dough," and then I heard the watch dog's honest bark. I heard the guinea's merry "pot-rack." I heard a cock crow. I heard the din of happy voices in the "big house" and the sizz and songs of boiling kettles in the kitchen. It was an old time quilting—the May-day of the glorious ginger cake and cider era of the American Republic; and the needle was mightier than the sword. The pen of Jefferson announced to the world, the birth of the child of the ages; the sword of Washington defended it in its cradle, but it would have perished there had it not been for the brave women of that day who plied the needle and made the quilts that warmed it, and who nursed it and rocked it through the perils of its infancy, into the strength of a giant. The quilt was attached to a quadrangular frame suspended from the ceiling; and the good women sat around it and quilted the live-long day, and were courted by the swains between stitches. At sunset the quilt was always finished; a cat was thrown into the center of it, and the happy maiden nearest to whom the escaping "kitty-puss" passed was sure to be the first to marry.
Then followed the groaning supper table, surrounded by giggling girls, bashful young men and gossipy old matrons who monopolized the conversation. There was a warm and animated discussion among the old ladies as to what was the most delightful product of the garden. One old lady said, that so "fur" as she was "consarned," she preferred the "per-turnip"—another preferred the "pertater"—another the "cow-cumber," and still another voted "ingern" king. But suddenly a wise looking old dame raised her spectacles and settled the whole question by observing: "Ah, ladies, you may talk about yer per-turnips, and your pertaters, and your passnips and other gyardin sass, but the sweetest wedgetable that ever melted on these ol' gums o' mine is the 'possum."
At length the feast was ended, the old folks departed and the fun and frolic began in earnest at the quilting. Old uncle "Ephraham" was an old darkey in the neighborhood, distinguished for calling the figures for all the dances, for miles and miles around. He was a tall, raw-boned, angular old darkey with a very bald head, and a great deal of white in his eyes. He had thick, heavy lips and a very flat nose. I will tell you a little story of uncle "Ephraham." He lived alone in his cabin, as many of the old time darkeys lived, and his 'possum dog lived with him. One evening old uncle "Ephraham" came home from his labors and took his 'possum dog into the woods and soon caught a fine, large, fat 'possum. He brought him home and dressed him; and then he slipped into his master's garden and stole some fine, large, fat sweet potatoes—("Master's nigger, Master's taters,") and he washed the potatoes and split them and piled them in the oven around the 'possum. He set the oven on the red hot coals and put the lid on, and covered it with red hot coals, and then sat down in the corner and nodded and breathed the sweet aroma of the baking 'possum, till it was done. Then he set it out into the middle of the floor, and took the lid off, and sat down by the smoking 'possum and soliloquized: "Dat's de fines' job ob bakin' 'possum I evah has done in my life, but dat 'possum's too hot to eat yit. I believes I'll jis lay down heah by 'im an' take a nap while he's coolin', an' maybe I'll dream about eat'n 'im, an' den I'll git up an' eat 'im, an' I'll git de good uv dat 'possum boaf times dat-a-way." So he lay down on the floor, and in a moment he was sleeping as none but the old time darkey could sleep, as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms. Old Cye was another old darkey in the neighborhood, prowling around. He poked his head in at "Ephraham's" door ajar, and took in the whole situation at a glance. Cye merely remarked to himself: "I loves 'possum myself." And he slipped in on his tip-toes and picked up the 'possum and ate him from tip to tail, and piled the bones down by sleeping "Ephraham;" he ate the sweet potatoes and piled the hulls down by the bones; then he reached into the oven and got his hand full of 'possum grease and rubbed it on "Ephraham's" lips and cheeks and chin, and then folded his tent and silently stole away. At length "Ephraham" awoke—"Sho' nuf, sho' nuf—jist as I expected; I dreampt about eat'n dat 'possum an' it wuz de sweetest dream I evah has had yit." He looked around, but empty was the oven—"'possum gone." "Sho'ly to de Lo'd," said "Ephraham," "I nuvvah eat dat 'possum while I wuz a dreamin' about eat'n 'im." He poked his tongue out—"Yes, dat's 'possum grease sho,—I s'pose I eat dat 'possum while I wuz a dreamin' about eat'n 'im, but ef I did eat 'im, he sets lighter on my constitution an' has less influence wid me dan any 'possum I evah has eat in my bo'n days."
Old uncle "Ephraham" was present at the country dance in all his glory. He was attired in his master's old claw-hammer coat, a very buff vest, a high standing collar the corners of which stood out six inches from his face, striped pantaloons that fitted as tightly as a kid glove, and he wore number fourteen shoes. He looked as though he were born to call the figures of the dance. The fiddler was a young man with long legs, a curving back, and a neck of the crane fashion, embellished with an Adam's apple which made him look as though he had made an unsuccessful effort to swallow his own head. But he was a very important personage at the dance. With great dignity he unwound his bandana handkerchief from his old fiddle and proceeded to tune for the fray.
Did you never hear a country fiddler tune his fiddle? He tuned, and he tuned, and he tuned. He tuned for fifteen minutes, and it was like a melodious frog pond during a shower of rain.
At length uncle "Ephraham" shouted: "Git yo' pardners for a cow-tillion."
The fiddler struck an attitude, and after countless yelps from his eager strings, he glided off into that sweet old Southern air of "Old Uncle Ned," as though he were mauling rails or feeding a threshing machine. Uncle "Ephraham" sang the chorus with the fiddle before he began to call the figures of the dance:
"Lay down de shovel an' de hoe—hoe—hoe, hang up de fiddle an' de bow, For dar's no mo' work for poor ol' Ned—he's gone whar de good niggahs go."
Then, drawing himself up to his full height, he began! "Honah yo' pardnahs! swing dem co'nahs—swing yo' pardnahs! fust couple for'd an' back! half right an' leff fru! back agin! swing dem co'nahs—swing yo' pardnahs! nex' couple for'd an' back! half right and leff fru! back agin! swing dem co'nahs—swing yo' pardnahs! fust couple to de right—lady in de centah—han's all around—suhwing!!!—nex' couple suhwing!!! nex' couple suhwing!!! suh-wing, suh-wing, suh-wing!!!!!!"
About this time an angry lad who had been jilted by his sweetheart, shied a fresh egg from without; it struck "Ephraham" square between the eyes and broke and landed on his upper lip. Uncle "Ephraham" yelled: "Stop de music—stop de dance—let de whole circumstances of dis occasion come to a stan' still till I finds out who it is a scram'lin eggs aroun' heah."
And then the dancing subsided for the candy-pulling.
THE CANDY PULLING
The sugar was boiling in the kettles, and while it boiled the boys and girls played "snap," and "eleven hand," and "thimble," and "blindfold," and another old play which some of our older people will remember:
"Oh! Sister Phoebe, how merry were we, When we sat under the juniper tree— The juniper tree-I-O."
And when the sugar had boiled down into candy they emptied it into greased saucers, or as the mountain folks called them, "greased sassers," and set it out to cool; and when it had cooled each boy and girl took a saucer; and they pulled the taffy out and patted it and rolled it till it hung well together; and then they pulled it out a foot long; they pulled it out a yard long; and they doubled it back, and pulled it out; and when it began to look like gold the sweethearts paired off and consolidated their taffy and pulled against each other. They pulled it out and doubled it back, and looped it over, and pulled it out; and sometimes a peachblow cheek touched a bronzed one; and sometimes a sweet little voice spluttered out; "you Jack;" and there was a suspicious smack like a cow pulling her foot out of stiff mud. They pulled the candy and laughed and frolicked; the girls got taffy on their hair—the boys got taffy on their chins; the girls got taffy on their waists—the boys got taffy on their coat sleeves. They pulled it till it was as bright as a moonbeam, and then they platted it and coiled it into fantastic shapes and set it out in the crisp air to cool. Then the courting in earnest began. They did not court then as the young folks court now. The young man led his sweetheart back into a dark corner and sat down by her, and held her hand for an hour, and never said a word. But it resulted next year in more cabins on the hillsides and in the hollows; and in the years that followed the cabins were full of candy-haired children who grew up into a race of the best, the bravest, and the noblest people the sun in heaven ever shone upon.
In the bright, bright hereafter, when all the joys of all the ages are gathered up and condensed into globules of transcendent ecstacy, I doubt whether there will be anything half so sweet as were the candy-smeared, ruby lips of the country maidens to the jeans-jacketed swains who tasted them at the candy-pulling in the happy long ago.
(Sung by Gov. Taylor to air of "Down on the Farm.")
In the happy long ago, When I used to draw the bow, At the old log cabin hearthstone all aglow, Oh! the fiddle laughed and sung, And the puncheons fairly rung, With the clatter of the shoe soles long ago.
Oh! the merry swings and whirls Of the happy boys and girls, In the good old time cotillion long ago! Oh! they danced the highland fling, And they cut the pigeon wing, To the music of the fiddle and the bow.
But the mischief and the mirth, And the frolics 'round the hearth, And the flitting of the shadows to and fro, Like a dream have passed away— Now I'm growing old and gray, And I'll soon hang up the fiddle and the bow.
When a few more notes I've made, When a few more tunes I've played, I'll be sleeping where the snowy daises grow. But my griefs will all be o'er When I reach the happy shore, Where I'll greet the friends who loved me long ago.
Oh! how sweet, how precious to us all are the memories of the happy long ago!
Let us leave the "egg flip" of the country dance, and take a bowl of egg-nog at the banquet. It was a modern banquet for men only. Music flowed; wine sparkled; the night was far spent—it was in the wee sma' hours. The banquet was given by Col. Punk who was the promoter of a town boom, and who had persuaded the banqueters that "there were millions in it." He had purchased some old sedge fields on the outskirts of creation, from an old squatter on the domain of Dixie, at three dollars an acre; and had stocked them at three hundred dollars an acre. The old squatter was a partner with the Colonel, and with his part of the boodle nicely done up in his wallet, was present with bouyant hopes and feelings high. Countless yarns were spun; numberless jokes passed 'round the table until, in the ecstacy of their joy, the banqueters rose from the table and clinked their glasses together, and sang to chorus:
"Landlord, fill the flowing bowl Until it doth run over; Landlord fill the flowing bowl Until it doth run over; For to-night we'll merry merry be, For to-night we'll merry merry be, For to-night we'll merry merry be; And to-morrow we'll get sober."
The whole banquet was drunk (as banquets usually are), and the principal stockholders finally succumbed to the music of "Old Kentucky Bourbon," and sank to sleep under the table. The last toast on the programme was announced. It was a wonderful toast—"Our mineral resources:" The old squatter rose in his glory, about three o'clock in the morning, to respond to this toast, and thus he responded:
"Mizzer Churman and Gent-tul-men of the Banquet: I have never made mineralogy a study, nor zoology, nor any other kind of 'ology,' but if there haint m-i-n-e-r-l in the deestrick which you gent-tul-men have jist purchased from me at sitch magnifercent figers, then the imagernation of man is a deception an' a snare. But gent-tul-men, you caint expect to find m-i-n-e-r-l without plenty uv diggin'. I have been diggin' thar for the past forty year fur it, an' haint never struck it yit, I hope you gen-tul-men will strike it some time endurin' the next forty year." Here, with winks and blinks and clinched teeth, the old Colonel pulled his coat tail; he was spoiling the town boom. But he would not down. He continued in the same eloquent strain: "Gent-tul-men, you caint expect to find m-i-n-e-r-l without plenty uv diggin.' You caint expect to find nothin' in this world without plenty uv diggin'. There is no excellence without labor gent-tul-men. If old Vanderbilt hadn't a-been persevering in his pertickler kind uv dig-gin', whar would he be to-day? He wouldn't now be a rich man, a-ridin' the billers of old ocean in his magnifercent 'yatchet.' If I hadn't a-been perseverin', an' hadn't a-kep on a-dig-gin' an' a-diggin, whar would I have been to-day? I mout have been seated like you gent-tul-men, at this stupenduous banquet, with my pockets full of watered stock, and some other old American citizen mout have been deliverin' this eulogy on our m-i-n-e-r-l resources. Gent-tul-men, my injunction to you is never to stop diggin'. And while you're a-diggin', cultivate a love for the beautiful, the true and the good. Speakin' of the beautiful, the true, and the good, gent-tul-men, let us not forgit woman at this magnifercent banquet—Oh! woman, woman, woman! when the mornin' stars sung together for joy—an' woman—God bless 'er——Great God, feller citerzens, caint you understand!!!!"
At the close of this great speech the curtain fell to slow music, and there was a panic in land stocks.
THERE IS MUSIC ALL AROUND US.
There is music all around us, there is music everywhere. There is no music so sweet to the American ear as the music of politics. There is nothing that kindles the zeal of a modern patriot to a whiter heat than the prospect of an office; there is nothing that cools it off so quickly as the fading out of that prospect.
I stood on the stump in Tennessee as a candidate for Governor, and thus I cut my eagle loose: "Fellow Citizens, we live in the grandest country in the world. It stretches
From Maine's dark pines and crags of snow To where magnolia breezes blow;
It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the east, to the Pacific Ocean on the west"—and an old fellow jumped up in my crowd and threw his hat in the air and shouted: "Let 'er stretch, durn 'er—hurrah for the Dimocrat Party."
An old Dutchman had a beautiful boy of whom he was very proud; and he decided to find out the bent of his mind. He adopted a very novel method by which to test him. He slipped into the little fellow's room one morning and placed on his table a Bible, a bottle of whiskey, and a silver dollar. "Now," said he, "Ven dot boy comes in, ef he dakes dot dollar, he's goin' to be a beeznis man; ef he dakes dot Bible he'll be a breacher; ef he dakes dot vwiskey, he's no goot—he's goin' to be a druenkart." and he hid behind the door to see which his son would choose. In came the boy whistling. He ran up to the table and picked up the dollar and put it in his pocket; he picked up the Bible and put it under his arm; then he snatched up the bottle of whiskey and took two or three drinks, and went out smacking his lips. The old Dutchman poked his head out from behind the door and exclaimed: "Mine Got—he's goin' to be a bolitician."
There is no music like the music of political discussion. I have heard almost a thousand political discussions. I heard the great debate between Blaine and Ben Hill; I heard the angry coloquies between Roscoe Conkling and Lamar; I have heard them on down to the humblest in the land. But I prefer to give you a scrap of one which occurred in my own native mountains. It was a race for the Legislature in a mountain county, between a straight Democrat and a straight Republican. The mountaineers had gathered at the county site to witness the great debate. The Republican spoke first. He was about six feet two in his socks, as slim as a bean pole, with a head about the size of an ordinary tin cup and very bald, and he lisped. Webster in all his glory in the United States Senate never appeared half so great or half so wise. Thus he opened the debate:
"F-e-l-l-o-w T-h-i-t-i-t-h-e-n-s: I come befo' you to-day ath a Republikin candidate, fer to reprethent you in the lower branch uv the Legithlachah. And, fellow thitithens, ef I thould thay thumpthin conthernin' my own carreckter, I hope you will excuthe me. I sprung frum one of the humbletht cabins in all thith lovely land uv thweet liberty; and many a mornin' I have jumped out uv my little trundle bed onto the puncheon floor, and pulled the splinterth and the bark off uv the wall of our 'umble cabin, for to make a fire for my weakley parenth. Fellow thitithenth, I never had no chanthe. All that I am to-day I owe to my own egtherthionth!! and that aint all. When the cloud of war thwept like a bethom of destructhion over this land uv thweet liberty, me and my connecthion thouldered our musketh and marched forth on the bloody battlefield to fight for your thweet liberty! Fellow thitithenth, if you can trust me in the capathity uv a tholjer, caint you trust me in the capathity uv the Legithlature? I ask my old Dimocrat competitor for to tell you whar he wath when war shook thith continent from its thenter to its circumputh! I have put thith quethtion to him on every stump, and he's ath thilent ath an oysthter. Fellow citithenth, I am a Republikin from printhiple. I believe in every thing the Republikin Party has ever done, and every thing the Republikin Party ever expecthts to do. Fellow thitithenth, I am in favor of a high protective tarriff for the protecthion of our infant induthtreth which are only a hundred yearth old; and fellow thitithenth, I am in favor of paying of a penthun to every tholjer that fit in the Federal army, while he lives, and after hethe dead, I'm in favor of paying uv it to hith Exthecutor or hith Adminithtrator."
He took his seat amid great applause on the Republican side of the house, and the old Democrat who was a much older man, came forward like a roaring lion, to join issue in the great debate, and thus he "joined:"
"Feller Citerzuns, I come afore you as a Dimocrat canderdate, fur to ripresent you in the lower branch of the house of the Ligislator. And fust and fomust, hit becomes my duty fer to tell you whar I stand on the great queshtuns which is now a-agitatin' of the public mind! Fust an' fomust, feller citerzuns, I am a Dimocrat inside an' out, up one side an' down tother, independent defatigly. My competitor axes me whar I wuz endurin' the war—Hit's none uv his bizness whar I wuz. He says he wuz a-fightin' fer yore sweet liberty. Ef he didn't have no more sense than to stand before them-thar drotted bung-shells an' cannon, that's his bizness, an' hit's my bizness whar I wuz. I think I have answered him on that pint.
"Now, feller citerzuns, I'll tell you what I'm fur. I am in favor uv payin' off this-here drotted tariff an' stoppin' of it; an' I'm in favor of collectin' jist enuf of rivenue fur to run the Government ekernomical administered, accordin' to Andy Jackson an' the Dimocrat flatform. My competitor never told you that he got wounded endurin' the war. Whar did he git hit at? That's the pint in this canvass. He got it in the back, a-leadin' of the revance guard on the retreat—that's whar he got it."
This charge precipitated a personal encounter between the candidates, and the meeting broke up in a general battle, with brickbats and tan bark flying in the air.
It would be difficult, for those reared amid the elegancies and refinements of life in city and town, to appreciate the enjoyments of the gatherings and merry-makings of the great masses of the people who live in the rural districts of our country. The historian records the deeds of the great; he consigns to fame the favored few; but leaves unwritten the short and simple annals of the poor—the lives and actions of the millions.
The modern millionaire, as he sweeps through our valleys and around our hills in his palace car, ought not to look with derision on the cabins of America, for from their thresholds have come more brains and courage and true greatness than ever eminated from all the palaces of this world.
The fiddle, the rifle, the axe, and the Bible, symbolizing music, prowess, labor, and free religion, the four grand forces of our civilization, were the trusty friends and faithful allies of our pioneer ancestry in subduing the wilderness and erecting the great Commonwealths of the Republic. Wherever a son of freedom pushed his perilous way into the savage wilds and erected his log cabin, these were the cherished penates of his humble domicile—the rifle in the rack above the door, the axe in the corner, the Bible on the table, and the fiddle with its streamers of ribbon, hanging on the wall. Did he need the charm of music, to cheer his heart, to scatter sunshine, and drive away melancholy thoughts, he touched the responsive strings of his fiddle and it burst into laughter. Was he beset by skulking savages, or prowling beasts of prey, he rushed to his deadly rifle for protection and relief. Had he the forest to fell, and the fields to clear, his trusty axe was in his stalwart grasp. Did he need the consolation, the promises and precepts of religion to strengthen his faith, to brighten his hope, and to anchor his soul to God and heaven, he held sweet communion with the dear old Bible.
The glory and strength of the Republic today are its plain working people.
"Princes and Lords may flourish and may fade, A breath can make them, as a breath has made; But an honest yeomanry—a Country's pride, When once destroyed, can never be supplied;"
Long live the common people of America! Long live the fiddle and the bow, the symbols of their mirth and merriment!
THE TWO COLUMNS.
Music wooes, and leads the human race ever onward, and there are two columns that follow her. One is the happy column, ringing with laughter and song. Its line of march is strewn with roses; it is hedged on either side by happy homes and smiling faces. The other is the column of sorrow, moaning with suffering and distress. I saw an aged mother with her white locks and wrinkled face, swoon at the Governor's feet; I saw old men tottering on the staff, with broken hearts and tear stained faces, and heard them plead for their wayward boys. I saw a wife and seven children, clad in rags, and bare-footed, in mid-winter, fall upon their knees around him who held the pardoning power. I saw a little girl climb upon the Governor's knee, and put her arms around his neck; I heard her ask him if he had little girls; then I saw her sob upon his bosom as though her little heart would break, and heard her plead for mercy for her poor, miserable, wretched, convict father. I saw want, and woe, and poverty, and trouble, and distress, and suffering, and agony, and anguish, march in solemn procession before the Gubernatorial door; and I said: "Let the critics frown and rail, let this heartless world condemn, but he who hath power and doth not temper justice with mercy, will cry in vain himself for mercy on that great day when the two columns shall meet! For, thank God, the stream of happy humanity that rolls on like a gleaming river, and the stream of the suffering and distressed and ruined of this earth, both empty into the same great ocean of eternity and mingle like the waters, and there is a God who shall judge the merciful and the unmerciful!"
THERE IS A MELODY FOR EVERY EAR.
The multitudinous harmonies of this world differ in pathos and pitch as the stars differ, one from another, in glory. There is a style for every taste, a melody for every ear. The gabble of geese is music to the goose; the hoot of the hoot-owl is lovlier to his mate than the nightingale's lay; the concert of Signor "Tomasso Cataleny" and Mademoiselle "Pussy" awakeneth the growling old bachelor from his dreams, and he throweth his boquets of bootjacks and superannuated foot gear.
The peripatetic gentleman from Italy asks no loftier strain than the tune of his hand organ and the jingle of the nickels, "the tribute of the Caesars."
The downy-lipped boy counts the explosion of a kiss on the cheek of his darling "dul-ci-ni-a del To-bo-so" sweeter than an echo from paradise; and it is said that older folks like its music.
The tintinnabulations of the wife's curtain lecture are too precious to the enraptured husband to be shared with other ears. And in the hush of the bed-time hour, when tired daddies are seeking repose in the oblivion of sleep, the unearthly bangs on the grand piano below in the parlor, and the unearthly screams and yells of the budding prima donna, as she sings to her admiring beau:
"Men may come and men may go, but I go on 'for-ev-oor' 'ev-oor' I go on 'for-ev-o-o-r' 'e-v-o-o-r' I go on 'for-ev-oor.'"
It is a thing of beauty, and a "nightmare" forever.
MUSIC IS THE WINE OF THE SOUL.
Music is the wine of the soul. It is the exhileration of the palace; it is the joy of the humblest home; it sparkles and glows in the banquet hall; it is the inspiration of the church. Music inspires every gradation of humanity, from the orangoutang and the cane-sucking dude with the single eye glass, up to man.
There was "a sound of revelry by night," where youth and beauty were gathered in the excitement of the raging ball. The ravishing music of the orchestra charmed from the street a red nosed old knight of the demijohn, and uninvited he staggered into the brilliant assemblage and made an effort to get a partner for the next set. Failing in this, he concluded to exhibit his powers as a dancer; and galloped around the hall till he galloped into the arms of a strong man who quickly ushered him to the head of the stairs, and gave him a kick and a push; he went revolving down to the street below and fell flat on his back in the mud; but "truth crushed to earth will rise again!" He rose, and standing with his back against a lamp post, he looked up into the faces that were gazing down, and said in an injured tone: "Gentlemen, (hic) you may be able to fool some people, but, (hic) you can't fool me, (hic) I know what made you kick me down them stairs, (hic, hic). You don't want me up there—that's the reason!" So, life hath its discords as well as its harmonies.
There was music in the magnificent parlor of a modern Chesterfield. It was thronged with elegant ladies and gentlemen. The daughter of the happy household was playing and singing Verdi's "Ah! I have sighed to rest me;" the fond mother was turning the pages; the fond father was sighing and resting up stairs, in a state of innocuous desuetude, produced by the "music" of old Kentucky Bourbon; but he could not withstand the power of the melody below. Quickly he donned his clothing; he put his vest on over his coat; put his collar on hind side foremost; buttoned the lower buttonhole of his coat on the top button, stood before the mirror and arranged his hair, and started down to see the ladies and listen to the music. But he stumped his toe at the top of the stairs, and slid down head-foremost, and turned a somersault into the midst of the astonished ladies. The ladies screamed and helped him to his feet, all crying at once: "Are you hurt Mr. 'Rickety'—are you hurt?" Standing with his back against the piano he exclaimed in an assuring tone: "Why, (hic) of course not ladies, go on with your music, (hic) that's the way I always come down——!"
Two old banqueters banqueted at a banquet. They banqueted all night long, and kept the banquet up together all the next day after the banquet had ended. They kept up their banqueting a week after the banquet was over. But they got separated one morning and met again in the afternoon. One of them said: "Good mornin':" The other said: "Good evenin'!" "Why;" said one, "It's mornin' an' that's the sun; I've investigated the queshtun." "No-sir-ee," said the other, "You're mistaken, it's late in the evenin' an' that's the full moon." They concluded they would have no difficulty about the matter, and agreed to leave it to the first gentleman they came to to settle the question. They locked arms and started down the street together; they staggered on till they came upon another gentleman in the same condition, hanging on a lamp post. One of them approached him and said: "Friend (hic) we don't desire to interfere with your meditation, (hic) but this gen'lman says it's mornin' an' that's the sun; I say it's evenin' an' that's the full moon, (hic) we respectfully ask you (hic) to settle the question." The fellow stood and looked at it for a full minute, and in his despair replied:
"Gen'lmen, (hic) you'll have to excuse me, (hic) I'm a stranger in this town!"
THE OLD TIME SINGING SCHOOL.
Did you never hear the music of the old time singing school? Oh! who can forget the old school house that stood on the hill? Who can forget the sweet little maidens with their pink sun bonnets and checkered dresses, the walks to the spring, and the drinks of pure, cold water from the gourd? Who can forget the old time courtships at the singing school? When the boy found an opportunity he wrote these tender lines to his sweetheart:
"The rose is red; the violet's blue— Sugar is sweet, and so are you."
She read it and blushed, and turned it over and wrote on the back of it:
"As sure as the vine clings 'round the stump, I'll be your sweet little sugar lump."
Who can forget the old time singing master? The old time singing master with very light hair, a dyed mustache, a wart on his left eyelid, and with one game leg, was the pride of our rural society; he was the envy of man and the idol of woman. His baggy trousers, several inches too short, hung above his toes like the inverted funnels of a Cunard steamer. His butternut coat had the abbreviated appearance of having been cut in deep water, and its collar encircled the back of his head like the belts of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. His vest resembled the aurora borealis, and his voice was a cross between a cane mill and the bray of an ass. Yet beautiful and bright he stood before the ruddy-faced swains and rose-cheeked lassies of the country, conscious of his charms, and proud of his great ability. He had prepared, after a long and tedious research of Webster's unabridged dictionary, a speech which he always delivered to his class.
"Boys and girls," he would say, "Music is a conglomeration of pleasing sounds, or a succession or combernation of simultaneous sounds modulated in accordance with harmony. Harmony is the sociability of two or more musical strains. Melody denotes the pleasing combustion of musical and measured sounds, as they succeed each other in transit. The elements of vocal music consist of seven original tones which constitute the diatonic scale, together with its steps and half steps, the whole being compromised in ascending notes and half notes, thus:
Do re mi fa sol la si do— Do si la sol fa mi re do.
Now, the diapason is the ad interium, or interval betwixt and between the extremes of an octave, according to the diatonic scale. The turns of music consist of the appoggiatura which is the principal note, or that on which the turn is made, together with the note above and the semi-tone below, the note above being sounded first, the principal note next and the semi-tone below, last, the three being performed sticatoly, or very quickly. Now, if you will keep these simple propersitions clear in your physical mind, there is no power under the broad canister of heaven which can prevent you from becoming succinctly contaminated with the primary and elementary rudiments of music. With these few sanguinary remarks we will now proceed to diagnosticate the exercises of the mornin' hour. Please turn to page thirty-four of the Southern harmony." And we turned. "You will discover that this beautiful piece of music is written in four-four time, beginning on the downward beat. Now, take the sound—sol mi do—All in unison—one, two, three, sing:
Sol sol, mi fa sol, la sol fa, re re re, re mi fa Re mi fa, sol fa mi, do do do— Si do re, re re re, mi do si do, re do si la sol, Si do re, re mi fa sol la, sol fa mi, do do do."
THE GRAND OPERA.
I heard a great Italian Tenor sing in the Grand Opera, and Oh! how like the dew on the flowers is the memory of his song! He was playing the role of a broken-hearted lover in the opera of the "Bohemian Girl." I can only repeat it as it impressed me—an humble young man from the mountains who never before had heard the Grand Opera:
"When ethaer-r-r leeps and ethaer-r-r hairts, Their-r-r tales auf luff sholl tell, In longwidge whose ex-cess impair-r-r-ts. The power-r-r-r they feel so well, There-r-r-e may per-haps in-a such a s-c-e-n-e Some r-r-re-co-lec-tion be, Auf days thot haive as hop-py bean— Then you'll-a r-r-r-re-mem-b-a-e-r-r-r me-e-e, Then you'll-a r-re-mem-b-a-e-r-r, You'll-a r-re-mem-ber a-me-e-e!!"
The spirit of music, like an archangel, presides over mankind and the visible creation. Her afflatus, divinely sweet, divinely powerful, is breathed on every human heart, and inspires every soul to some nobler sentiment, some higher thought, some greater action.
O music, sweetest, sublimest ideal of Omniscience, first-born of God, fairest and loftiest Seraph of the celestial hierarchy, Muse of the beautiful, daughter of the Universe!
In the morning of eternity, when the stars were young, her first grand oratorio burst upon raptured Deity, and thrilled the wondering angels; all heaven shouted; ten thousand times ten thousand jeweled harps, ten thousand times ten thousand angel tongues caught up the song; and ever since, through all the golden cycles, its breathing melodies, old as eternity, yet ever new as the flitting hours, have floated on the air of heaven. The Seraph stood, with outstretched wings, on the horizon of heaven—clothed in light, ablaze with gems; and with voice attuned, swept her burning harp strings, and lo! the blue infinite thrilled with her sweetest note. The trembling stars heard it, and flashed their joy from every flaming center. The wheeling orbs that course their paths of light were vibrant with the strain, and pealed it back into the glad ear of God. The far off milky way, bright gulf-stream of astral glories, spanning the ethereal deep, resounded with its harmonies, and the star-dust isles floating in that river of opal, re-echoed the happy chorus from every sparkling strand.
"THE PARADISE OF FOOLS."
Have you ever thought of the wealth that perished when paradise was lost? Have you ever thought of the glory of Eden, the first estate of man? I think it was the very dream of God, glowing with ineffable beauty. I think it was rimmed with blue mountains, from whose moss-covered cliffs leaped a thousand glassy streams that spread out in mid-air, like bridal veils, kissing a thousand rainbows from the sun. I think it was an archipelago of gorgeous colors, flecked with green isles, where the grapevine staggered from tree to tree, as if drunk with the wine of its own purple clusters, where peach, and plum, and blood-red cherries, and every kind of berry, bent bough and bush, and shone like showered drops of ruby and of pearl. I think it was a wilderness of flowers, redolent of eternal spring and pulsing with bird-song, where dappled fawns played on banks of violets, where leopards, peaceful and tame, lounged in copses of magnolias, where harmless tigers lay on snowy beds of lilies, and lions, lazy and gentle, panted in jungles of roses. I think its billowy landscapes were festooned with tangling creepers, bright with perennial bloom, and curtained with sweet-scented groves, where the orange and the pomegranate hung like golden globes and ruddy moons. I think its air was softened with the dreamy haze of perpetual summer; and through its midst there flowed a translucent river, alternately gleaming in its sunshine and darkening in its shadows. And there, in some sweet, dusky bower, fresh from the hand of his Creator, slept Adam, the first of the human race; God-like in form and feature; God-like in all the attributes of mind and soul. No monarch ever slept on softer, sweeter couch, with richer curtains drawn about him. And as he slept, a face and form, half hidden, half revealed, red-lipped, rose-cheeked, white bosomed and with tresses of gold, smiled like an angel from the mirror of his dream; for a moment smiled, and so sweetly, that his heart almost forgot to beat. And while yet this bright vision still haunted his slumber, with tenderest touch an unseen hand lay open the unconscious flesh in his side, and forth from the painless wound a faultless being sprang; a being pure and blithesome as the air; a sinless woman, God's first thought for the happiness of man. I think he wooed her at the waking of the morning. I think he wooed her at noon-tide, down by the riverside, or by the spring in the dell. I think he wooed her at twilight, when the moon silvered the palm tree's feathery plumes, and the stars looked down, and the nightingale sang. And wherever he wooed her, I think the grazing herds left sloping hill and peaceful vale, to listen to the wooing, and thence themselves, departed in pairs. The covies heard it and mated in the fields; the quail wooed his love in the wheat; the robin whistled to his love in the glen;
"The lark was so brim-full of gladness and love, The green fields below him—the blue sky above, That he sang, and he sang, and forever sang he: I love my Love, and my Love loves me."
Love songs bubbled from the mellow throats of mocking-birds and bobolinks; dove cooed love to dove; and I think the maiden monkey, fair "Juliet" of the House of Orang-outang, waited on her cocoanut balcony for the coming of her "Romeo," and thus plaintively sang:
(Sung to the air of My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon.)
"My sweetheart's the lovely baboon, I'm going to marry him soon; 'Twould fill me with joy Just to kiss the dear boy, For his charms and his beauty No power can destroy."
"I'll sit in the light of the moon, And sing to my darling baboon, When I'm safe by his side And he calls me his bride; Oh! my Angel, my precious baboon!"
All paradise was imbued with the spirit of love. Oh, that it could have remained so forever! There was not a painted cheek in Eden, nor a bald head, nor a false tooth, nor a bachelor. There was not a flounce, nor a frill, nor a silken gown, nor a flashy waist with aurora borealis sleeves. There was not a curl paper, nor even a threat of crinoline. Raiment was an after thought, the mask of a tainted soul, born of original sin. Beauty was unmarred by gaudy rags; Eve was dressed in sunshine, Adam was clad in climate.
Every rich blessing within the gift of the Almighty Father was poured out from the cornucopia of heaven, into the lap of paradise. But it was a paradise of fools, because they stained it with disobedience and polluted it with sin. It was the paradise of fools because, in the exercise of their own God-given free agency, they tasted the forbidden fruit and fell from their glorious estate. Oh, what a fall was there! It was the fall of innocence and purity; it was the fall of happiness into the abyss of woe; it was the fall of life into the arms of death. It was like the fall of the wounded albatross, from the regions of light, into the sea; it was like the fall of a star from heaven to hell. When the jasper gate forever closed behind the guilty pair, and the flaming sword of the Lord mounted guard over the barred portal, the whole life-current of the human race was shifted into another channel; shifted from the roses to the thorns; shifted from joy to sorrow, and it bore upon its dark and turbulent bosom, the wrecked hopes of all the ages.
I believe they lost intellectual powers which fallen man has never regained. Operating by the consent of natural laws, sinless man would have wrought endless miracles. The mind, winged like a seraph, and armed like a thunderbolt, would have breached the very citadel of knowledge and robbed it of its treasures. I think they lost a plane of being only a little lower than the angels. I believe they lost youth, beauty, and physical immortality. I believe they lost the virtues of heart and soul, and many of the magnificent powers of mind, which made them the images of God, and which would have even brushed aside the now impenetrable veil which hides from mortal eyes the face of Infinite Love; that Love which gave the ever-blessed light, and filled the earth with music of bird, and breeze, and sea; that Love whose melodies we sometimes faintly catch, like spirit voices, from the souls of orators and poets; that Love which inlaid the arching firmament of heaven with jewels sparkling with eternal fires. But thank God, their fall was not like the remediless fall of Lucifer and his angels, into eternal darkness. Thank God, in this "night of death" hope does see a star! It is the star of Bethlehem. Thank God, "listening Love" does "hear the rustle of a wing!" It is the wing of the resurrection angel.
The memories and images of paradise lost have been impressed on every human heart, and every individual of the race has his own ideal of that paradise, from the cradle to the grave. But that ideal in so far as its realization in this world is concerned, is like the rainbow, an elusive phantom, ever in sight, never in reach, resting ever on the horizon of hope.
THE PARADISE OF CHILDHOOD.
I saw a blue-eyed child, with sunny curls, toddling on the lawn before the door of a happy home. He toddled under the trees, prattling to the birds and playing with the ripening apples that fell upon the ground. He toddled among the roses and plucked their leaves as he would have plucked an angel's wing, strewing their glory upon the green grass at his feet. He chased the butterflies from flower to flower, and shouted with glee as they eluded his grasp and sailed away on the summer air. Here I thought his childish fancy had built a paradise and peopled it with dainty seraphim and made himself its Adam. He saw the sunshine of Eden glint on every leaf and beam in every petal. The flitting honey-bee, the wheeling June-bug, the fluttering breeze, the silvery pulse-beat of the dashing brook sounded in his ear notes of its swelling music. The iris-winged humming-bird, darting like a sunbeam, to kiss the pouting lips of the upturned flowers was, to him, the impersonation of its beauty. And I said: Truly, this is the nearest approach in this world, to the paradise of long ago. Then I saw him skulking like a cupid, in the shrubbery, his skirts bedraggled and soiled, his face downcast with guilt. He had stirred up the Mediterranean Sea in the slop bucket, and waded the Atlantic Ocean in a mud puddle. He had capsized the goslings, and shipwrecked the young ducks, and drowned the kitten which he imagined a whale, and I said: There is the original Adam coming to the surface.
"Lo'd bless my soul! Jist look at dat chile!" shouted his dusky old nurse, as she lifted him, dripping, from the reeking pond. "What's you bin doin' in dat mud puddle? Look at dat face, an' dem hands an' close, all kivvered wid mud an' mulberry juice! You bettah not let yo' mammy see you while you's in dat fix. You's gwine to ketch it sho'. You's jist zackly like yo' fader—allers git'n into some scrape or nuddah, allers breakin' into some kind uv devilment—gwine to break into congrus some uv dese days sho'. Come along wid me dis instinct to de baff tub. I's a-gwine to dispurgate dem close an' 'lucidate some uv dat dirt off'n dat face uv yone, you triflin' rascal you!" And so saying, she carried him away, kicking and screaming like a young savage in open rebellion, and I said: There is some more of the original Adam. Then I saw him come forth again, washed and combed, and dressed in spotless white, like a young butterfly fresh from its chrysalis. And when he got a chance, I saw him slip on his tip-toes, into the pantry;
I heard the clink of glassware, As if a mouse were playing there,
among the jam pots and preserves. There two little dimpled hands made trip after trip to a rose-colored mouth, bearing burdens of mingling sweets that dripped from cheek, and chin, and waist, and skirt, and shoes, subduing the snowy white with the amber of the peach, and the purple of the raspberry, as he ate the forbidden fruit. Then I watched him glide into the drawing room. There was a crash and a thud in there, which quickly brought his frightened mother to the scene, only to find the young rascal standing there catching his breath, while streams of cold ink trickled down his drenched bosom. And as he wiped his inky face, which grew blacker with every wipe, the remainder of the ink was pouring from the bottle down on the carpet, and making a map of darkest Africa. Then the rear of a small skirt went up over a curly head and the avenging slipper, in lightning strokes, kept time to the music in the air. And I said: There is "Paradise Lost." The sympathizing, half angry old nurse bore her weeping, sobbing charge to the nursery and there bound up his broken heart and soothed him to sleep with her old time lullaby:
"Oh, don't you cry little baby, Oh, don't you cry no mo', For it hurts ol' mammy's feelin's fo' to heah you weepin' so. Why don't da keep temptation frum de little han's an' feet? What makes 'em 'buse de baby kaze de jam an' zarves am sweet?
Oh, de sorrow, tribulations, dat de joys of mortals break, Oh, it's heb'n when we slumber, it's trouble when we wake.
Oh, go to sleep my darlin', now close dem little eyes, An' dream uv de shinin' angels, an' de blessed paradise; Oh, dream uv de blood-red roses, an' de birds on snowy wing; Oh, dream uv de fallin' watahs an' de never endin' spring.
Oh, de roses, Oh, de rainbows, Oh, de music's gentle swell, In de dreamland uv little childun, whar de blessed sperrits dwell."
"Dar now, dar now, he's gone. Bless its little heart, da treats it like a dog." And then she tucked him away in the paradise of his childish slumber.
The day will come when the South will build a monument to the good old black mammy of the past for the lullabies she has sung.
I sometimes wish that childhood might last forever. That sweet fairy land on the frontier of life, whose skies are first lighted with the sunrise of the soul, and in whose bright-tinted jungles the lions, and leopards, and tigers of passion still peacefully sleep. The world is disarmed by its innocence, the drawn bow is relaxed, and the arrow is returned to its quiver; the AEgis of Heaven is above it, the outstretched wings of mercy, pity, and measureless love!
THE PARADISE OF THE BAREFOOTED BOY.
I would rather be a barefooted boy with cheeks of tan and heart of joy than to be a millionaire and president of a National bank. The financial panic that falls like a thunderbolt, wrecks the bank, crushes the banker, and swamps thousands in an hour. But the bank which holds the treasures of the barefooted boy never breaks. With his satchel and his books he hies away to school in the morning, but his truant feet carry him the other way, to the mill pond "a-fishin'." And there he sits the livelong day under the shade of the tree, with sapling pole and pin hook, and fishes, and fishes, and fishes, and waits for a nibble of the drowsy sucker that sleeps on his oozy bed, oblivious of the baitless hook from which he has long since stolen the worm. There he sits, and fishes, and fishes, and fishes, and like Micawber, waits for something to "turn-up." But nothing turns up until the shadows of evening fall and warn the truant home, where he is welcomed with a dogwood sprout. Then "sump'n" does turn up. He obeys the call of the Sunday school bell, and goes with solemn face, but e'er the "sweet bye and bye" has died away on the summer air, he is in the wood shed playing Sullivan and Corbett with some plucky comrade, with the inevitable casualties of one closed eye, one crippled nose, one pair of torn breeches and one bloody toe. He takes a back seat at church, and in the midst of the sermon steals away and hides in the barn to smoke cigarettes and read the story of "One-eyed Pete, the Hero of the wild and woolly West." There is eternal war between the barefooted boy and the whole civilized world. He shoots the cook with a blow-gun; he cuts the strings of the hammock and lets his dozing grandmother fall to the ground; he loads his grandfather's pipe with powder; he instigates a fight between the cat and dog during family prayers, and explodes with laughter when pussy seeks refuge on the old man's back. He hides in the alley and turns the hose on uncle Ephraim's standing collar as he passes on his way to church, he cracks chestnut burrs with his naked heel; he robs birds' nests, and murders bullfrogs, and plays "knucks" and "base-ball." He puts asafetida in the soup, and conceals lizzards in his father's hat. He overwhelms the family circle with his magnificent literary attainments when he reads from the Bible in what he calls the "pasalms of David"—"praise ye the Lord with the pizeltry and the harp."
His father took him to town one day and said to him: "Now John, I want you to stay here on the corner with the wagon and watch these potatoes while I go round the square and see if I can sell them. Don't open your mouth sir, while I am gone; I'm afraid people will think you're a fool." While the old man was gone the merchant came out and said to John: "What are those potatoes worth, my son?" John looked at him and grinned. "What are those potatoes worth, I say?" asked the merchant. John still looked at him and grinned. The merchant turned on his heel and said: "You're a fool," and went back into his store. When the old man returned John shouted: "Pap, they found it out and I never said a word."
His life is an endless chain of pranks and pleasures. Look how the brawling brook pours down the steep declivities of the mountain gorge! Here it breaks into pearls and silvery foam, there it dashes in rapids, among brown bowlders, and yonder it tumbles from the gray crest of a precipice. Thus, forever laughing, singing, rollicking, romping, till it is checked in its mad rush and spreads into a still, smooth mirror, reflecting the inverted images of rock, and fern, and flower, and tree, and sky. It is the symbol of the life of a barefooted boy. His quips, and cranks, his whims, and jollities, and jocund mischief, are but the effervescences of exuberant young life, the wild music of the mountain stream.
If I were a sculptor, I would chisel from the marble my ideal of the monumental fool. I would make it the figure of a man, with knitted brow and clinched teeth, beating and bruising his barefooted boy, in the cruel endeavor to drive him from the paradise of his childish fun and folly. If your boy will be a boy, let him be a boy still. And remember that he is following the paths which your feet have trodden, and will soon look back upon its precious memories, as you now do, with the aching heart of a care-worn man.
(Sung to the air of Down on the Farm.)
Oh, I love the dear old farm, and my heart grows young and warm, When I wander back to spend a single day; There to hear the robins sing in the trees around the spring, Where I used to watch the happy children play. Oh, I hear their voices yet and I never shall forget How their faces beamed with childish mirth and glee. But my heart grows old again and I leave the spot in pain, When I call them and no answer comes to me.
THE PARADISE OF YOUTH.
If childhood is the sunrise of life, youth is the heyday of life's ruddy June. It is the sweet solstice in life's early summer, which puts forth the fragrant bud and blossom of sin e'er its bitter fruits ripen and turn to ashes on the lips of age. It is the happy transition period, when long legs, and loose joints, and verdant awkwardness, first stumble on the vestibule of manhood. Did you never observe him shaving and scraping his pimpled face till it resembled a featherless goose, reaping nothing but lather, and dirt, and a little intangible fuzz? That is the first symptom of love. Did you never observe him wrestling with a pair of boots two numbers too small, as Jacob wrestled with the angel? That is another symptom of love. His callous heel slowly and painfully yields to the pressure of his perspiring paroxysms until his feet are folded like fans and driven home in the pinching leather; and as he sits at church with them hid under the bench, his uneasy squirms are symptoms of the tortures of the infernal regions, and the worm that dieth not; but that is only the penalty of loving. When he begins to wander through the fragrant meadows and talk to himself among the buttercups and clover blossoms, it is a sure sign that the golden shaft of the winged god has sped from its bended bow. Love's archer has shot a poisoned arrow which wounds but never kills. The sweet venom has done its work. The fever of the amorous wound drives the red current bounding through his veins, and his brain now reels with the delirium of the tender passion. His soul is wrapped in visions of dreamy black eyes peeping out from under raven curls, and cheeks like gardens of roses. To him the world is transformed into a blooming Eden, and she is its only Eve. He hears her voice in the sound of the laughing waters, the fluttering of her heart in the summer evening's last sigh that shuts the rose; and he sits on the bank of the river all day long and writes poetry to her. Thus he writes:
"As I sit by this river's crystal wave, Whose flow'ry banks its waters lave, Me-thinks I see in its glassy mirror, A face which to me, than life is dearer. Oh, 'tis the face of my Gwendolin, As pure as an angel, free from sin. It looks into mine with one sweet eye, While the other is turned to the starry sky. Could I the ocean's bulk contain, Could I but drink the watery main, I'd scarce be half as full of the sea, As my heart is full of love for thee!"
Thus he lives and loves, and writes poetry by day, and tosses on his bed at night, like the restless sea, and dreams, and dreams, and dreams, until, in the ecstacy of his dream, he grabs a pillow.
One bright summer day, a rural youth took his sweetheart to a Baptist baptizing; and, in addition to his verdancy and his awkwardness, he stuttered most distressingly. The singing began on the bank of the stream; and he left his sweetheart in the buggy, in the shade of a tree near by, and wandered alone in the crowd. Standing unconsciously among those who were to be baptized, the old parson mistook him for one of the converts, and seized him by the arm and marched him into the water. He began to protest: "ho-ho-hold on p-p-p-parson, y-y-y-you're ma-ma-makin' a mi-mi-mistake!!!" "Don't be alarmed my son, come right in," said the parson. And he led him to the middle of the stream. The poor fellow made one final desperate effort to explain—"p-p-p-p-parson, l-l-l-l-let me explain!" But the parson coldly said: "Close your mouth and eyes, my son!" And he soused him under the water. After he was thoroughly baptized the old parson led him to the bank, the muddy water trickling down his face. He was "diked" in his new seersucker suit, and when the sun struck it, it began to draw up. The legs of his pants drew up to his knees; his sleeves drew up to his elbows; his little sack coat yanked up under his arms. And as he stood there trembling and shivering, a good old sister approached him, and taking him by the hand said: "God bless you, my son, how do you feel?" Looking, in his agony, at his blushing sweetheart behind her fan, he replied in his anguish: "I fe-fe-fe-feel l-l-l-l-like a d-d-d-d-durned f-f-f-f-fool!"
If I were called upon to drink a toast to life's happiest period, I would hold up the sparkling wine, and say: "Here is to youth, that sweet, Seidlitz powder period, when two souls with scarcely a single thought, meet and blend in one; when a voice, half gosling, half calliope, rasps the first sickly confession of puppy love into the ear of a blue-sashed maiden at the picnic in the grove!" But when she returns his little greasy photograph, accompanied by a little perfumed note, expressing the hope that he will think of her only as a sister, his paradise is wrecked, and his puppy love is swept into the limbo of things that were, the school boy's tale, the wonder of an hour.
But wait till the shadows have a little longer grown. Wait till the young lawyer comes home from college, spouting Blackstone, and Kent, and Ram on facts. Wait till the young doctor returns from the university, with his whiskers and his diploma, to tread the paths of glory, "that lead but to the grave." Wait till society gives welcome in the brilliant ball, and the swallow-tail coat, and the patent leather pumps whirl with the decollette and white slippers till the stars are drowning in the light of morning. Wait till the graduate staggers from the giddy hall, in full evening dress, singing as he staggers:
"After the ball is over, after the break of morn, After the dancer's leavin', after the stars are gone; Many a heart is aching, if we could read them all— Many the hopes that are vanished, after the ball."
It is then that "somebody's darling" has reached the full tide of his glory as a fool.
THE PARADISE OF HOME.
How rich would be the feast of happiness in this beautiful world of ours, could folly end with youth. But youth is only the first act in the "Comedy of Errors." It is the pearly gate that opens to the real paradise of fools.
"It's pleasures are like poppies spread— You seize the flower, its bloom is shed, Or like the snowfall on the river— A moment white then melts forever."
Whether it be the child at its mother's knee or the man of mature years, whether it be the banker or the beggar, the prince in his palace or the peasant in his hut, there is in every heart the dream of a happier lot in life.
I heard the sound of revelry at the gilded club, where a hundred hearts beat happily. There were flushed cheeks and thick tongues and jests and anecdotes around the banquet spread. There were songs and poems and speeches. I saw an orator rise to respond to a toast to "Home, sweet home," and thus he responded:
"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: John Howard Payne touched millions of hearts when he sang:
'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.
But as for me, gentlemen, give me the pleasures an' the palaces—give me liberty, or give me death. No less beautifully expressed are the tender sentiments expressed in the tender verse of Lord Byron:
"'Tis sweet to hear the watchdog's honest bark Bay deep mouthed welcome as we draw near home; 'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, And look brighter when we come."
But as for me, gentlemen, I would rather hear the barkin' of a gatlin' gun than to hear the watch dog's honest bark this minute. I would rather look into the mouth of a cannon than to look into the eyes that are now waitin' to mark my comin' at this delightful hour of three o'clock in the morning."
Then he launched out on the ocean of thought like a magnificent ship going to sea. And when the night was far spent, and the orgies were over, and the lights were blown out at the club, I saw him enter his own sweet home in his glory—entered it, like a thief, with his boots in his hands,—entered it singing softly to himself:
"I'm called little gutter pup, sweet little gutter pup, Though I could never tell why—(hic), Yet still I'm called gutter pup, sweet little gutter pup, Poor little gutter pup—I—(hic)."
He was unconscious of the presence of the white figure that stood at the head of the stairs holding up a lamp, like liberty enlightening the world, and as a tremulous voice called him to the judgment bar, the door closed behind him on the paradise of a fool, and he sneaked up the steps, muttering to himself, "What shadows we are—(hic)—what shadows we pursue." Then I saw him again in the morning, reaping temptation's bitter reward in the agonies of his drunk-sick; and like Mark Twain's boat in a storm,
"He heaved and sot, and sot and heaved, And high his rudder flung, And every time he heaved and sot, A mighty leak he sprung."
If I were a woman with a husband like "that," I would fill him so full of Keely's chloride of gold that he would jingle as he walks and tinkle as he talks and have a fit at every mention of the silver bill.
The biggest fool that walks on God's footstool is the man who destroys the joy and peace of his own sweet home; for, if paradise is ever regained in this world, it must be in the home. If its dead flowers ever bloom again, they must bloom in the happy hearts of home. If its sunshine ever breaks through the clouds, it must break forth in the smiling faces of home. If heaven ever descends to earth and angels tread its soil, it must be in the sacred precincts of home. That which heaven most approves is the pure and virtuous home. For around it linger all the sweetest memories and dearest associations of mankind; upon it hang the hopes and happiness of the nations of the earth, and above it shines the ever blessed star that lights the way back to the paradise that was lost.
BACHELOR AND WIDOWER.
I saw a poor old bachelor live all the days of his life in sight of paradise, too cowardly to put his arm around it and press it to his bosom. He shaved and primped and resolved to marry every day in the year for forty years. But when the hour for love's duel arrived, when he stood trembling in the presence of rosy cheeks and glancing eyes, and beauty shook her curls and gave the challenge, his courage always oozed out, and he fled ingloriously from the field of honor.
Far happier than the bachelor is old Uncle Rastus in his cabin, when he holds Aunt Dina's hand in his and asks: "Who's sweet?" And Dina drops her head over on his shoulder and answers, "Boaf uv us."
A thousand times happier is the frisky old widower with his pink bald head, his wrinkles and his rheumatism, who
Wires in and wires out, And leaves the ladies all in doubt, As to what is his age and what he is worth, And whether or not he owns the earth.
He "toils not, neither does he spin," yet Solomon, in all his glory was not more popular with the ladies. He is as light-hearted as "Mary's little lamb." He is acquainted with every hog path in the matrimonial paradise and knows all the nearest cuts to the "sanctum sanctorum" of woman's heart. But his jealousy is as cruel as the grave. Woe unto the bachelor who dares to cross his path.
An old bachelor in my native mountains once rose in church to give his experience, in the presence of his old rival who was a widower, and with whom he was at daggers' points in the race to win the affections of one of the sisters in Zion. Thus the pious old bachelor spake: "Brethren, this is a beautiful world. I love to live in it just as well to-day as I ever did in my life. And the saddest thought that ever crossed this old brain of mine is, that in a few short days at best, these old eyes will be glazed in death and I'll never get to see my loved ones in this world any more." And his old rival shouted from the "amen corner," "thank God!"
In every brain there is a bright phantom realm, where fancied pleasures beckon from distant shores; but when we launch our barks to reach them, they vanish, and beckon again from still more distant shores. And so, poor fallen man pursues the ghosts of paradise as the deluded dog chases the shadows of flying birds in the meadow.
The painter only paints the shadows of beauty on his canvas; the sculptor only chisels its lines and curves from the marble; the sweetest melody is but the faint echo of the wooing voice of music.
We stumble over the golden nuggets of contentment in pursuit of the phantoms of wealth, and what is wealth? It can not purchase a moment of happiness. Marble halls may open wide their doors and offer her shelter, but happiness will flee from a palace to dwell in a cottage. We crush under our feet the roses of peace and love in our eagerness to reach the illuminated heights of glory; and what is earthly glory?
"He who ascends to mountain tops shall find The loftiest peaks most wrapped in clouds and snow; He who surpasses or subdues mankind, Must look down on the hate of those below. Though high above the sun of glory glow, And far beneath the earth and ocean spread, 'Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow Contending tempests on his naked head."
I saw a comedian convulse thousands with his delineations of the weaknesses of humanity in the inimitable "Rip Van Winkle." I saw him make laughter hold its sides, as he impersonated the coward in "The Rivals;" and I said: I would rather have the power of Joseph Jefferson, to make the world laugh, and to drive care and trouble from weary brains and sorrow from heavy hearts, than to wear the blood-stained laurels of military glory, or to be President of the United States, burdened with bonds and gold, and overwhelmed with the double standard, and three girl babies.
THE FALSE IDEAL.
It is the false ideal that builds the "Paradise of Fools." It is the eagerness to achieve success in realms we cannot reach, which breeds more than half the ills that curse the world. If all the fish eggs were to hatch, and every little fish become a big fish, the oceans would be pushed from their beds, and the rivers would be eternally "dammed"—with fish; but the whales, and sharks, and sturgeons, and dog-fish, and eels, and snakes, and turtles, make three meals every day in the year on fish and fish eggs. If all the legal spawn should hatch out lawyers, the earth and the fullness thereof would be mortgaged for fees, and mankind would starve to death in the effort to pay off the "aforesaid and the same." If the entire crop of medical eggs should hatch out full fledged doctors, old "Skull and Cross Bones" would hold high carnival among the children of men, and the old sexton would sing: