VOL. XXXII. PHILADELPHIA, APRIL, 1848. NO. 4.
OR THE MAN WHO COULDN'T GET ALONG IN THE WORLD.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
Jacob Jones was clerk in a commission store at a salary of five hundred dollars a year. He was just twenty-two, and had been receiving this salary for two years. Jacob had no one to care for but himself; but, somehow or other, it happened that he did not lay up any money, but, instead, usually had from fifty to one hundred dollars standing against him on the books of his tailors.
"How much money have you laid by, Jacob?" said one day the merchant who employed him. This question came upon Jacob rather suddenly; and coming from the source that it did, was not an agreeable one—for the merchant was a very careful and economical man.
"I havn't laid by any thing yet," replied Jacob, with a slight air of embarrassment.
"You havn't!" said the merchant, in surprise. "Why what have you done with your money?"
"I've spent it, somehow or other."
"It must have been somehow or other, I should think, or somehow else," returned the employer, half seriously, and half playfully. "But really, Jacob, you are a very thoughtless young man to waste your money."
"I don't think I waste my money," said Jacob.
"What, then, have you done with it?" asked the merchant.
"It costs me the whole amount of my salary to live."
The merchant shook his head.
Then you live extravagantly for a young man of your age and condition. How much do you pay for boarding?"
"Four dollars a week."
"Too much by from fifty cents to a dollar. But, even paying that sum, four more dollars per week ought to meet fully all your other expenses, and leave you what would amount to nearly one hundred dollars per annum to lay by. I saved nearly two hundred dollars a year on a salary no larger than you receive."
"I should like very much to know how you did it. I can't save a cent; in fact, I hardly ever have ten dollars in my pocket."
"Where does your money go, Jacob? In what way do you spend a hundred dollars a year more than is necessary?"
"They are spent, I know; and that is pretty much all I can tell about it," replied Jacob.
"You can certainly tell by your private account book."
"I don't keep any private account, sir."
"You don't?" in surprise.
"No, sir. What's the use? My salary is five hundred dollars a year, and wouldn't be any more nor less if I kept an account of every half cent of it."
The merchant said no more. His mind was made up about his clerk. The fact that he spent five hundred dollars a year, and kept no private account, was enough for him.
"He'll never be any good to himself nor anybody else. Spend his whole salary—humph! Keep no private account—humph!"
This was the opinion held of Jacob Jones by his employer from that day. The reason why he had inquired as to how much money he had saved, was this. He had a nephew, a poor young man, who, like Jacob, was a clerk, and showed a good deal of ability for business. His salary was rather more than what Jacob received, and, like Jacob, he spent it all; but not on himself. He supported, mainly, his mother and a younger brother and sister. A good chance for a small, but safe beginning, was seen by the uncle, which would require only about a thousand dollars as an investment. In his opinion it would be just the thing for Jacob and the nephew. Supposing that Jacob had four or five hundred dollars laid by, it was his intention, if he approved of the thing, to furnish his nephew with a like sum, in order to join him and enter into business. But the acknowledgment of Jacob that he had not saved a dollar, and that he kept no private account, settled the matter in the merchant's mind, as far as he was concerned.
About a month afterward, Jacob met his employer's nephew, who said,
"I am going into business."
"What are you going to do?"
"Open a commission store."
"Ah! Can you get any good consignments?"
"I am to have the agency for a new mill, which has just commenced operations, beside consignments of goods from several small concerns at the East."
"You will have to make advances."
"To no great extent. My uncle has secured the agency of the new mill here without any advance being required, and eight hundred or a thousand dollars will be as much as I shall need to secure as many goods as I can sell from the other establishments of which I speak."
"But where will the eight hundred or a thousand come from?"
"My uncle has placed a thousand dollars at my disposal. Indeed, the whole thing is the result of his recommendation."
"Your uncle! You are a lucky dog. I wish I had a rich uncle. But there is no such good fortune for me."
This was the conclusion of Jacob Jones, who made himself quite unhappy for some weeks, brooding over the matter. He never once dreamed of the real cause of his not having had an equal share in his young friend's good fortune. He had not the most distant idea that his employer felt nearly as much regard for him as for his nephew, and would have promoted his interests as quickly, if he had felt justified in doing so.
"It's my luck, I suppose," was the final conclusion of his mind; "and it's no use to cry about it. Any how, it isn't every man with a rich uncle, and a thousand dollars advanced, who succeeds in business, nor every man who starts without capital that is unsuccessful. I understand as much about business as the old man's nephew, any day; and can get consignments as well as he can."
Three or four months after this, Jacob notified the merchant that he was going to start for himself, and asked his interest as far as he could give it, without interfering with his own business. His employer did not speak very encouragingly about the matter, which offended Jacob.
"He's afraid I'll injure his nephew," he said to himself. "But he needn't be uneasy—the world is wide enough for us all, the old hunks!"
Jacob borrowed a couple of hundred dollars, took a store at five hundred dollars a year rent, and employed a clerk and porter. He then sent his circulars to a number of manufactories at the East, announcing the fact of his having opened a new commission house, and soliciting consignments. His next move was, to leave his boarding-house, where he had been paying four dollars a week, and take lodgings at a hotel at seven dollars a week.
Notwithstanding Jacob went regularly to the post office twice every day, few letters came to hand, and but few of them contained bills of lading and invoices. The result of the first year's business was an income from commission on sales of seven hundred dollars. Against this were the items of one thousand dollars for personal expenses, five hundred dollars for store-rent, seven hundred dollars for clerk and porter, and for petty and contingent expenses, two hundred dollars; leaving the uncomfortable deficit of seventeen hundred dollars, which stood against him in the form of bills payable for sales effected, and small notes of accommodation borrowed from his friends.
The result of the first year's business of his old employer's nephew was very different. The gross profits were three thousand dollars, and the expenses as follows: personal expense, seven hundred dollars—just what the young man's salary had previously been, and out of which he supported his mother and her family—store-rent, three hundred dollars; porter, two hundred and fifty, petty expenses one hundred dollars—in all, thirteen hundred and fifty dollars, leaving a net profit of sixteen hundred and fifty dollars. It will be seen that he did not go to the expense of a clerk during the first year. He preferred working a little harder, and keeping his own books, by which an important saving was effected.
At the end of the second year, notwithstanding Jacob Jones' business more than doubled itself, he was compelled to wind up, and found himself twenty-five hundred dollars worse than nothing. Several of his unpaid bills to eastern houses were placed in suit, and as he lived in a state where imprisonment for debt still existed, he was compelled to go through the forms required by the insolvent laws, to keep clear of durance vile.
At the very period when he was driven under by adverse gales, his young friend, who had gone into business about the same time, found himself under the necessity of employing a clerk. He offered Jones a salary of four hundred dollars, the most he believed himself yet justified in paying. This was accepted, and Jacob found himself once more standing upon terra firma, although the portion upon which his feet rested was very small, still it was terra firma—and that was something.
The real causes of his ill success never for a moment occurred to the mind of Jacob. He considered himself an "unlucky dog."
"Every thing that some people touch turns to money," he would sometimes say. "But I wasn't born under a lucky star."
Instead of rigidly bringing down his expenses, as he ought to have done, to four hundred dollars, if he had had to live in a garret and cook his own food, Jacob went back to his old boarding-house, and paid four dollars a week. All his other expenses required at least eight dollars more to meet them. He was perfectly aware that he was living beyond his income—the exact excess he did not stop to ascertain—but he expected an increase of salary before long, as a matter of course, either in his present situation or in a new one. But no increase took place for two years, and then he was between three and four hundred dollars in debt to tailors, boot-makers, his landlady, and to sundry friends, to whom he applied for small sums of money in cases of emergency.
One day about this time, two men were conversing together quite earnestly, as they walked leisurely along one of the principal streets of the city where Jacob resided. One was past the prime of life, and the other about twenty-two. They were father and son, and the subject of conversation related to the wish of the latter to enter into business. The father did not think the young man was possessed of sufficient knowledge of business, or experience, and was, therefore, desirous of associating some one with him who could make up these deficiencies. If he could find just the person that pleased him, he was ready to advance capital and credit to an amount somewhere within the neighborhood of twenty thousand dollars. For some months he had been thinking of Jacob, who was a first-rate salesman, had a good address, and was believed by him to possess business habits eminently conducive to success. The fact that he had once failed, was something of a drawback in his mind, but he had asked Jacob the reason of his ill-success, which was so plausibly explained, that he considered the young man as simply unfortunate in not having capital, and nothing else.
"I think Mr. Jones just the right man for you," the father said, as they walked along.
"I don't know of any one with whom I had rather form a business connection. He is a man of good address, business habits, and, as far as I know, good principles."
"Suppose you mention the subject to him this afternoon."
This was agreed to. The two men then entered the shop of a fashionable tailor, for the purpose of ordering some clothes. While there, a man, having the appearance of a collector, came in, and drew the tailor aside. Their conversation was brief but earnest, and concluded by the tailor's saying, so loud that he could be heard by all who were standing near,
"It's no use to waste your time with him any longer. Just hand over the account to Simpson, and let him take care of it."
The collector turned away, and the tailor came back to his customers.
"It is too bad," he said, "the way some of these young fellows do serve us. I have now several thousand dollars on my books against clerks who receive salaries large enough to support them handsomely, and I can't collect a dollar of it. There is Jacob Jones, whose account I have just ordered to be placed in the hands of a lawyer, he owes me nearly two hundred dollars, and I can't get a cent out of him. I call him little better than a scamp."
The father and son exchanged glances of significance, but said nothing. The fate of Jacob Jones was sealed.
"If that is the case," said the father, as they stepped into the street, "the less we have to do with him the better."
To this the son assented. Another more prudent young man was selected, whose fortune was made.
"When Jacob received lawyer Simpson's note, threatening a suit if the tailor's bill were not paid, he was greatly disturbed.
"Am I not the most unfortunate man in the world?" he said to himself, by way of consolation. "After having paid him so much money, to be served like this. It is too bad. But this is the way of the world. Let a poor devil once get a little under the weather, and every one must have a kick at him."
In this dilemma poor Jacob had to call upon the tailor and beg him for further time. This was humiliating, especially as the tailor was considerably out of humor, and disposed to be hard with him. A threat to apply for the benefit of the insolvent law again, if a suit was pressed to an issue, finally induced the tailor to waive legal proceedings for the present, and Jacob had the immediate terrors of the law taken from before his eyes.
This event set Jacob to thinking and calculating, what he had never before deemed necessary in his private affairs. The result did not make him feel any happier. To his astonishment he ascertained that he owed more than the whole of his next year's salary would pay, while that was not in itself sufficient to meet his current expenses.
For some weeks after this discovery of the real state of his affairs, Jacob was very unhappy. He applied for an increase of salary, and obtained the addition of one hundred dollars per annum. This was something, which was about all that could be said. If he could live on four hundred dollars a year, which he had never yet been able to do, the addition to his salary would not pay his tailor's bill within two years; and what was he to do with boot-maker, landlady, and others?
It happened about this time that a clerk in the bank where his old employer was a director, died. His salary had been one thousand dollars. For the vacant place Jacob made immediate application, and was so fortunate as to secure it.
Under other circumstances, Jacob would have refused a salary of fifteen hundred dollars in a bank against five hundred in a counting-room, and for the reason that a bank, or office clerk, has little or no hope beyond his salary all his life, while a counting-house clerk, if he have any aptness for trade, stands a fair chance of getting into business sooner or later, and making his fortune as a merchant. But a debt of four hundred dollars hanging over his head, was an argument in favor of a clerkship in the bank, at a salary of a thousand dollars a year, not to be resisted.
"I'll keep it until I get even with the world again," he consoled himself by saying, "and then I'll go back into a counting-room. I've an ambition above being a bank clerk all my life."
Painful experience had made Jacob a little wiser. For the first time in his life he commenced keeping an account of his personal expenses. This acted as a salutary check upon his bad habit of spending money for every little thing that happened to strike his fancy, and enabled him to clear off his whole debt within the first year. Unwisely, however, he had, during this time, promised to pay some old debts, from which the law had released him. The persons holding these claims, finding him in the receipt of a higher salary, made an appeal to his honor, which, like an honest, but not a prudent man, he responded to by a promise of payment as soon as it was in his power. But little time elapsed after these promises were made, before he found himself in the hands of constables and magistrates, and was only saved from imprisonment by getting friends to go his bail for six and nine months. In order to secure them, he had to give an order in advance for his salary. To get these burdens off of his shoulders, it took twelve months longer, and then he was nearly thirty years of age.
"Thirty years old!" he said, to himself on his thirtieth birth-day. "Can it be possible? Long before this I ought to have been doing a flourishing business, and here I am, nothing but a bank clerk, with the prospect of never rising a step higher as long as I live. I don't know how it is that some people get along so well in the world. I am sure I am as industrious, and can do business as well as any man; but here I am still at the point from which I started twenty years ago. I can't understand it. I'm afraid there's more in luck than I'm willing to believe."
From this time Jacob set himself to work to obtain a situation in some store or counting-room, and finally, after looking about for nearly a year, was fortunate enough to obtain a good place, as book-keeper and salesman, with a wholesale grocer and commission merchant. Seven hundred dollars was to be his salary. His friends called him a fool for giving up an easy place at one thousand a year, for a hard one at seven hundred. But the act was a much wiser one than many others of his life.
Instead of saving money during the third year of his receipt of one thousand dollars, he spent the whole of his salary, without paying off a single old debt. His private account-keeping had continued through a year and a half. After that it was abandoned. Had it been continued, it might have saved him three or four hundred dollars, which were now all gone, and nothing to show for them. Poor Jacob! experience did not make him much wiser.
Two years passed, and at least half a dozen young men here and there around our friend Jacob, went into business, either as partners in some old houses, or under the auspices of relatives or interested friends. But there appeared no opening for him. He did not know, that many times during that period, he had been the subject of conversation between parties, one or both of which were looking out for a man of thorough business qualifications against which capital would be placed; nor the fact, that either his first failure, his improvidence, or something else personal to himself, had caused him to be set aside for some other one not near so capable.
He was lamenting his ill-luck one day, when a young man with whom he was very well acquainted, and who was clerk in a neighboring store, called in and said that he wanted to have some talk with him about a matter of interest to both.
"First of all, Mr. Jones," said the young man, after they were alone, "how much capital could you raise by a strong effort?"
"I am sure I don't know," replied Jacob, not in a very cheerful tone. "I never was lucky in having friends ready to assist me."
"Well! perhaps there will be no need of that. You have had a good salary for four or five years—how much have you saved? Enough, probably, to answer every purpose—that is, if you are willing to join me in taking advantage of one of the best openings for business that has offered for a long time. I have a thousand dollars in the savings bank. You have as much, or more, I presume?"
"I am sorry to say I have not," was poor Jacob's reply, in a desponding voice. "I was unfortunate in business some years ago, and my old debts have drained away from me every dollar I could earn."
"Indeed! that is very unfortunate. I was in hopes you could furnish a thousand dollars."
"I might borrow it, perhaps, if the chance is a very good one."
"Well, if you could do that, it would be as well, I suppose," returned the young man. "But you must see about it immediately. If you cannot join me at once, I must find some one who will, for the chance is too good to be lost."
Jacob got a full statement of the business proposed, its nature and prospects, and then laid the matter before the three merchants with whom he had at different times lived in the capacity of clerk, and begged them to advance him the required capital. The subject was taken up by them and seriously considered. They all liked Jacob, and felt willing to promote his interests, but had little or no confidence in his ultimate success, on account of his want of economy in personal matters. It was very justly remarked by one of them, that this want of economy, and the judicious use of money in personal matters, would go with him in business, and mar all his prospects. Still, as they had great confidence in the other man, they agreed to advance, jointly, the sum needed.
In the meantime, the young man who had made the proposition to Jacob, when he learned that he had once failed in business, was still in debt, and liable to have claims pushed against him, (this he inferred from Jacob's having stretched the truth, by saying that his old debts drained away from him every dollar, when the fact was he was freed from them by the provisions of the insolvent law of the state,) came to the conclusion that a business connection with him was a thing to be avoided rather than sought after. He accordingly turned his thoughts in another quarter, and when Jones called to inform him that he had raised the capital needed, he was coolly told that it was too late, he having an hour before closed a partnership arrangement with another person, under the belief that Jones could not advance the money required.
This was a bitter disappointment, and soured the mind of Jacob against his fellow man, and against the fates also, which he alledged were all combined against him. His own share in the matter was a thing undreamed of. He believed himself far better qualified for business than the one who had been preferred before him, and he had the thousand dollars to advance. It must be his luck that was against him, nothing else; he could come to no other conclusion. Other people could get along in the world, but he couldn't. That was the great mystery of his life.
For two years Jacob had been waiting to get married. He had not wished to take this step before entering into business, and having a fair prospect before him. But years were creeping on him apace, and the fair object of his affections seemed weary of delay.
"It is no use to wait any longer," he said, after this dashing of his cup to the earth. "Luck is against me. I shall never be any thing but a poor devil of a clerk. If Clara is willing to share my humble lot, we might as well be married first as last."
Clara was not unwilling, and Jacob Jones entered into the estate connubial, and took upon him the cares of a family, with a salary of seven hundred dollars a year to sustain the new relation. Instead of taking cheap boarding, or renting a couple of rooms, and commencing housekeeping in a small way, Jacob saw but one course before him, and that was to rent a genteel house, go in debt for genteel furniture, and keep two servants. Two years was the longest that he could bear up under this state of things, when he was sold out by the sheriff, and forced "to go through the mill again," as taking the benefit of the insolvent law was facetiously called.
"Poor fellow! he has a hard time of it. I wonder why it is that he gets along so badly. He is an industrious man, and regular in his habits. It is strange. But some men seem born to ill-luck."
So said some of his pitying friends. Others understood the matter better.
Ten years have passed, and Jacob is still a clerk, but not in a store. Hopeless of getting into business, he applied for a vacancy that occurred in an insurance company, and received the appointment, which he still holds, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars a year. After being sold out three times by the sheriff, and having the deep mortification of seeing her husband brought down to the humiliating necessity of applying as often for the benefit of the insolvent law, Mrs. Jones took affairs, by consent of her husband, into her own hands, and managed them with such prudence and economy that, notwithstanding they have five children, the expenses, all told, are not over eight hundred dollars a year, and half of the surplus, four hundred dollars, is appropriated to the liquidation of debts contracted since their marriage, and the other half deposited in the savings' bank, as a fund for the education of their children in the higher branches, when they reach a more advanced age.
To this day it is a matter of wonder to Jacob Jones why he could never get along in the world like some people; and he has come to the settled conviction that it is his "luck."
BY BLANCHE BENNAIRDE.
When first we saw her face, so dimpled o'er With smiles of sweetest charm, we said within Our inmost heart, that ne'er on earth before Had so much passing beauty ever been: So full of sweetest grace, so fair to see— This treasure bright our babe in infancy.
Like blush of roses was the tint of health O'erspread her lovely cheeks; and they might vie In beauty with the fairest flower—nor wealth, Though told in countless millions, e'er could buy The radiance of this gem, than aught more bright Which lies in hidden mine, or saw the light.
The dawn of life was fair; so was its morn; For with each day new beauties met our view, And well we deemed that she, the dear first-born, Might early fade, like flowers that earth bestrew With all their cherished beauty, leaving naught But faded leaves where once their forms were sought.
She smiled upon us, and her spirit fled To taste the pleasures of that fairer land, Where angels ever dwell—she is not dead; But there with them her beauteous form doth stand, Arrayed in flowing light, before the throne Of Him whose name is Love—the Holy One.
She was our choicest bud, our precious flower; But now she blooms in that celestial place, Where naught can spoil the pleasure of an hour, Nor from its beauty one bright line efface— Where all is one perpetual scene of bliss, Unmixed with sin; all perfect happiness.
The darling then is safe, secure from ill; Why should we mourn that she hath left this earth, When in that brighter land she bloometh still, A flower more perfect, of celestial birth? Let us submit, and own His righteous care Who doeth well; striving to meet her there.
BATTLE OF FORT MOULTRIE.
BY CHARLES J. PETERSON.
When the news of the battle of Lexington reached Charleston, South Carolina rose in commotion. The provincial Congress, which had adjourned, immediately re-assembled. Two regiments of foot and one of horse were ordered to be raised; measures were taken to procure powder; and every preparation made for the war which was now seen to be inevitable. A danger of a vital character speedily threatened the colony. This was its invasion by the British; a project which had long been entertained by the royal generals. To provide in time for defeating it, Congress had dispatched General Lee to the South. It was not until the beginning of the summer of 1776, however, that the enemy's armament set sail from New York, consisting of a large fleet of transports with a competent land force, commanded by Sir Henry Clinton, and attended by a squadron of nine men-of-war, led by Sir Peter Parker. On the arrival of this expedition off the coast, all was terror and confusion among the South Carolinians. Energetic measures were, however, adopted to repel the attack.
To defend their capital the inhabitants constructed on Sullivan's Island, near the entrance of their harbor, and about four miles from the city, a rude fort of palmetto logs, the command of which was given to Col. Moultrie. Never, perhaps, was a more inartificial defence relied on in so great an emergency. The form of the fort was square, with a bastion at each angle; it was built of logs based on each other in parallel rows, at a distance of sixteen feet. Other logs were bound together at frequent intervals with timber dove-tailed and bolted into them. The spaces between were filled up with sand. The merlons were faced with palmetto logs. All the industry of the Carolinians, however, was insufficient to complete the fort in time; and when the British fleet entered the harbor, the defences were little more than a single front facing the water. The whole force of Col. Moultrie was four hundred and thirty-five, rank and file; his armament consisted of nine French twenty-sixes, fourteen English eighteens, nine twelve and seven nine pounders. Finding the fort could be easily enfiladed, Gen. Lee advised abandoning it; but the governor refused, telling Moultrie to keep his post, until he himself ordered the retreat. Moultrie, on his part, required no urging to adopt this more heroic course. A spectator happening to say, that in half an hour the enemy would knock the fort to pieces. "Then," replied Moultrie, undauntedly, "we will lie behind the ruins, and prevent their men from landing." Lee with many fears left the island, and repairing to his camp on the main land, prepared to cover the retreat of the garrison, which he considered inevitable.
[Footnote 1: From a work now in press, and shortly to be published, entitled "The Military Heroes of the United States. By C. J. Peterson. 2 vols. 8vo. 500 pp."]
There was, perhaps, more of bravado than of sound military policy in attacking this fort at all, since the English fleet might easily have run the gauntlet of it, as was done a few years later. But Fort Moultrie was destined to be to the navy what Bunker Hill had been to the army. It was in consequence of excess of scorn for his enemy, that Sir Peter Parker, disdaining to leave such a place in his rear, resolved on its total demolition. He had no doubt but that, in an hour at the utmost, he could make the unpracticed Carolinians glad to sue for peace on any terms. Accordingly on the 28th of June, 1776, he entered the harbor, in all the parade of his proud ships, nine in number, and drawing up abreast the fort, let go his anchors with springs upon his cables, and began a furious cannonade. Meanwhile terror reigned in Charleston. As the sound of the first gun went booming over the waters toward the town, the trembling inhabitants who had been crowding the wharves and lining the house-tops since early morning, turned pale with ominous forebodings. Nor were the feelings of the defenders of the fort less anxious. Looking off, over the low island intervening between them and the city, they could see the gleaming walls of their distant homes; and their imaginations conjured up the picture of those dear habitations given to the flames, as another Charlestown had been, a twelve-month before, and the still dearer wives that inhabited them, cast houseless upon the world. As they turned from this spectacle, and watched the haughty approach of the enemy, at every motion betraying confidence of success, their eyes kindled with indignant feelings, and they silently swore to make good the words of their leader, by perishing, if need were, under the ruins of the fort.
One by one the British men-of-war gallantly approached the stations assigned them, Sir Peter Parker, in the Bristol, leading the van. The Experiment, another fifty gun ship, came close after, and both dropped their anchors in succession directly abreast the fort. The other frigates followed, and ranged themselves as supports. The remaining vessels were still working up to their stations, when the first gun was fired, and instantly the battle begun. The quantity of powder on the island being small, five thousand pounds in all, there was an absolute necessity that there should be no waste. Accordingly, the field-officers pointed the pieces in person, and the words "look to the commodore—look to the two-deckers!" passed along the line. The conflict soon grew terrific. The balls whistled above the heads of the defenders, and bombs fell thick and fast within the fort; yet, in the excitement of the moment, the men seemed totally unconscious of danger. Occasionally a shot from one of their cannon, striking the hull of the flag-ship, would send the splinters flying into the air; and then a loud huzza would burst from those who worked the guns; but, except in instances like this, the patriots fought in stern and solemn silence. Once, when it was seen that the three men-of-war working up to join the conflict, had become entangled among the shoals, and would not probably be enabled to join in the fight, a general and prolonged cheer went down the line, and taken up a second and third time, rose, like an exulting strain, over all the uproar of the strife.
The incessant cannonade soon darkened the prospect, the smoke lying packed along the surface of the water; while a thousand fiery tongues, as from some hundred-headed monster, shot out incessantly, and licking the air a moment, were gone forever. Occasionally this thick, cloudy veil concealed all but the spars of the enemy from sight, and then the tall masts seemed rising, by some potent spell, out of nothing; occasionally the terrific explosions would rend and tear asunder the curtain, and, for an instant, the black hulls would loom out threateningly, and then disappear. The roar of three hundred guns shook the island and fort unremittingly: the water that washed the sand-beach, gasped with a quick ebb and flow, under the concussions. Higher and higher, the sun mounted to the zenith, yet still the battle continued. The heat was excessive; but casting aside their coats, the men breathed themselves a minute, and returned to the fight. The city was now hidden from view, by low banks of smoke, which extending right and left along the water, bounded the horizon on two sides. Yet the defenders of the fort still thought of the thousands anxiously watching them from Charleston, or of the wives and mothers, trembling at every explosion for the lives of those they loved. One of their number soon fell mortally wounded. Gasping and in agony, he was carried by. "Do not give up," he had still strength to say; "you are fighting for liberty and country." Who that heard these words could think of surrender?
Noon came and went, yet still the awful struggle continued. Suddenly a shot struck the flag-staff, and the banner, which had waved in that lurid atmosphere all day, fell on the beach outside the fort. For a moment there was a pause, as if at a presage of disaster. Then a grenadier, the brave and immortal Serjeant Jasper, sprang upon the parapet, leaped down to the beach, and passing along nearly the whole front of the fort, exposed to the full fire of the enemy, deliberately cut off the bunting from the shattered mast, called for a sponge staff to be thrown to him, and tying the flag to this, clambered up the ramparts and replaced the banner, amid the cheers of his companions. Far away, in the city, there had been those who saw, through their telescopes, the fall of that flag; and, as the news went around, a chill of horror froze every heart, for it was thought the place had surrendered. But soon a slight staff was seen uplifted at one of the angles: it bore, clinging to it, something like bunting: the breeze struck it, the bundle unrolled, it was the flag of America! Hope danced again through every heart. Some burst into tears; some laughed hysterically; some gave way to outcries and huzzas of delight. As the hours wore on, however, new causes for apprehension arose. The fire of the fort was perceived to slacken. Could it be that its brave defenders, after such a glorious struggle, had at last given in? Again hope yielded to doubt, almost to despair; the feeling was the more terrible from the late exhilaration. Already, in fancy, the enemy was seen approaching the city. Wives began trembling for their husbands, who had rendered themselves conspicuous on the patriotic side: mothers clasped their infants, whose sires, they thought, had perished in the fight, and, in silent agony, prayed God to protect the fatherless. Thus passed an hour of the wildest anxiety and alarm. At last intelligence was brought that the fire had slackened only for want of powder; that a supply had since been secured; and that the cannonade would soon be resumed. In a short time these predictions were verified, and the air again shook with distant concussions. Thus the afternoon passed. Sunset approached, yet the fight raged. Slowly the great luminary of day sank in the west, and twilight, cold and calm, threw its shadows across the waters; yet still the fight raged. The stars came out, twinkling sharp and clear, in that half tropical sky: yet still the fight raged. The hum of the day had now subsided, and the cicada was heard trilling its note on the night-air: all was quiet and serene in the city: yet still the fight raged. The dull, heavy reports of the distant artillery boomed louder across the water, and the dark curtain of smoke that nearly concealed the ships and fort, grew luminous with incessant flashes. The fight still raged. At last the frequency of the discharges perceptibly lessened, and gradually, toward ten o'clock, ceased altogether. The ships of the enemy were now seen moving from their position, and making their way slowly, as if crippled and weary, out of the harbor: and, at that sight, most of the population, losing their anxiety, returned to their dwellings; though crowds still lined some of the wharves, waiting for authentic messengers from the fight, and peering into the gathering gloom, to detect the approach of the first boat.
The loss of the enemy had been excessive. The flag-ship, the Bristol, had forty-four men killed, and thirty wounded: the Experiment, another fifty gun ship, fifty-seven killed, and thirty wounded. All the ships were much cut up: the two-deckers terribly so; and one of the frigates, the Acteon, running aground, was burnt. The last shot fired from the fort entered the cabin of Sir Peter Parker's ship, cut down two young officers who were drinking there, and passing forward, killed three sailors on the main-deck, then passed out and buried itself in the sea. The loss on the American side was inconsiderable: twelve killed, and about twenty-five wounded. During the battle, the earnest zeal of the men was occasionally relieved by moments of merriment. A coat, having been thrown on the top of one of the merlons, was caught by a shot, and lodged in a tree, at which sight a general peal of laughter was heard. Moultrie sat coolly smoking his pipe during the conflict, occasionally taking it from his mouth to issue an order. Once, while the battle was in progress, General Lee came off to the island, but, finding every thing so prosperous, soon returned to his camp. The supply of powder which was obtained during the battle, and which enabled the patriots to resume the fight, was procured, part from a schooner in the harbor, part from the city. Unbounded enthusiasm, on the side of the inhabitants, hailed the gallant defenders of the fort after the victory: Moultrie received the thanks of Congress, was elevated to the rank of brigadier-general, and was honored by having the post he had defended called after his name. A stand of colors was presented, by Mrs. Elliott, to the men of his regiment, with the belief, she said, "that they would stand by them, as long as they could wave in the air of liberty." It was in guarding these colors, and perhaps in the recollection of her words, that the brave Serjeant Jasper lost his life, subsequently, at the siege of Savannah.
THE POET'S LOVE.
BY HENRY B. HIRST.
[THE POET COMMUNETH WITH HIS SOUL.]
"Thou hast a heart," my spirit said; "Seek out a kindred one, and wed: So passes grief, comes joy instead."
"True, Soul, I have," I quick replied; "But in this weary world and wide That other hath my search defied."
"Poet, thou hast an eye to see; Thou knowest all things as they be; The spheres are open books to thee.
"Thou art a missioned creature, sent To preach of beauty—teach content: In life's Sahara pitch thy tent!
"It is not good to be alone— Not fit for any living one— There's nothing single save the sun.
"Beasts, fishes, birds—yea, atoms mate, Acknowledging an ordered fate: What dost thou in a single state?"
"O, Soul!" I bitterly replied, For I was full of haughty pride, "Would in my birth that I had died!
"I feel what thou hast said is truth; But I am past the bloom of youth, And Beauty's eye has lost its ruth.
"I languish for some gentle heart To throb with mine, devoid of art, Perfect and pure in every part—
"Some innocent heart whose pulse's tone Should beat in echo of mine own, Where I might reign and reign alone."
"All this, and more, thy love might win," My spirit urged, "poor Child of Sin, That sickenest in this rude world's din.
"Love is a way-side plant: go forth And pluck—love has no thorns for worth— The blossom from its place of birth.
"Perchance, on thee may Beauty's queen, And Fortune's, look, with smiling mien— With eyes, whose lids hold love between."
"Spirit, I am of little worth," Said I—"an erring child of earth: Yet fain would own a happy hearth.
"Mere beauty, though it drowns my soul With sunshine, may not be my goal; And love despises gold's control.
"Better the riches of the mind— A spirit toward the spheres inclined— A heart that veers not with the wind.
"She might be beautiful, and gold Might clasp her in its ruddy fold— Have lands and tenements to hold:
"She might be poor—it were the same If lofty, or of lowly name, If famous, or unknown to fame:
"But she must feel the brotherhood I feel for man—the love of good;— Life is at best an interlude,
"And we must act our parts so here, That, when we reach a loftier sphere, Our memories shall not shed a tear.
"With such a one, if fair or brown— Gracing a cottage, or a throne— Soul, I could live and love unknown!
"Yes, gazing upward in her eye, Scan what was passing in its sky, And swoon, and dream, and, dreaming, die."
"There is none such," my spirit sighed. "Seek glory: woo her for thy bride. And perish, and be deified!"
"Why, Soul," I said, "the thought of fame, Of winning an exalted name, Might woo me, but my heart would blame
"The coldness that compelled me forth. No: somewhere on this lower earth The angel that I seek has birth.
"If not, I will so worship here Her type, that I shall joy, not fear— To meet her in her holier sphere."
OR THE HEAD AND THE HEART.
BY MRS. E. L. B. COWDERY.
"What a happy girl is Mary Warner," said an elderly lady, as a bright laughing girl turned into another room.
"And so exceedingly lively and cheerful, for one of her years," rejoined another.
"Years! How old is she?"
"About twenty-four," said a third, who had hitherto been silent, "and yet no one, to see her, would think it."
So thought the world, who in their most scrutinizing glance could detect no indication of care or gloom, in this, the object of their observations, who was one of those bright, intelligent beings, ever ready for conversation, and whose sallies of wit, never failed to excite the attention of those around her. "Little did they know of my aching heart," said Mary, that evening, to one in whom she had confided much of her former history; for years had passed since she had left the grave of her mother, and her native home, on "New England's rocky shore," to wander forth with her father to the western wilds. "Little did they know of the bitterness of soul I felt while making merriment for them."
"How can you so control your feelings, while endeavoring to conceal them, with such an excess of gayety?" eagerly inquired Ella.
"Ah! that is the work of time and necessity. Time has schooled my heart to hide behind the covering I might think best to wear. Were my history known, my name would be the theme of every tongue, the derision of the stoical, the pity of the simple, and exposed to the ridicule of a heartless and unfeeling world. The head must dictate and govern my actions, all else submitting. Yet nothing can equal the wretchedness of trying to conceal with smiles the bitter struggles of a wounded spirit, whose every hope hath perished. Eye may not pierce through the laughing cover, or ear catch the breathing of a sigh. Even sympathy seems like those cold blasts of a November night, seeking the hidden recess only to chill its peace forever."
"But do you not," said Ella, "enjoy something of that mirth which you inspire in others?"
"Sometimes the excitement is sufficient to make me forget, for a moment, the past, but then it is followed by such a depression that the feeble clay well nigh sinks beneath it. Misery pays her tribute to all my revelry."
"Then never will I again wish for Mary Warner's light and joyous air," said Ella, her cheek flushed with agitation, for being one of those sober ones, whose words were ever the thoughts of her heart, she had often wished for Mary's power to charm.
Weeks and months had rolled away, until they had numbered years. The friends had parted. Ella's calm face still cheered the domestic fireside, and Mary was gliding in crowded halls, the gayest of the gay. No voice more musical than hers, or tones more sprightly; she moved as a creature of enchantment, her image fastening upon the minds and memories of all. But Ella was not forgotten or neglected; they often corresponded. Mary's letters told but too truly how much those scenes were enjoyed by her. In answer to an invitation to come and spend the summer in the retirement of Ella's home, she says, "Even in this giddy place my heart is full to bursting; should I allow myself more time for meditation it would surely break, and pour forth its lava streams on the thirsty dust of human pride. In the dark, cheerless hour of midnight, my burning, throbbing brain still keeps its restless beating, scarce bestowing the poor refreshment of a feverish dream to strengthen the earthly tenement. My health is failing; there will soon be nothing left for me but the drifts of thought and memory, which gather around a weary past and blighted future."
It was in vain that Ella tried to place on parchment words of soothing and consolation—to draw her thoughts from lingering around the ruined wreck of her affections, and direct them to the "hope set before" her, of obtaining through the merits of the Savior a home "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Every letter she received came burthened with its own weight of wo.
The summer passed—its roses bloomed and died. Another autumn came and whistled by; but ere the winter's snow had melted, there were anxious thoughts concerning Mary Warner. Never before had so long a time elapsed without a letter from her to Ella. The first crocuses of spring had just begun to smile when a letter came, written by a stranger's hand! It told of Mary's being sick even unto death, and begged of Ella, as she loved her friend, to come and remain with her while yet life's taper burned. It was a fearful summons thus to break the suspending spell. That evening saw Ella sitting in the cabin of one of those large steamers which ply the western waters, anxiously wending her way to a retired yet pleasant village near the Ohio, for Mary's sadly declining health could no more mingle in the excitement of the city, and she had retreated to this lonely place to lay down her shattered frame in peace. The night of the second day brought Ella to the place of destination. She entered the house where Mary was, almost unconscious of the manner in which she introduced herself as Mary Warner's friend. That was enough; an elderly lady clasped her hand and bade her welcome. "Oh!" said she, "'tis a strange sight to be in her sick room. Poor thing! she is nearly gone, and still so lively; and, too, this morning when I went in, I know she had been weeping."
"Did she ever mention me?" said Ella.
"Last night she said if you would come, that she could die contented."
"Then lead me to her quickly."
They silently bent their steps to the sick chamber, and coming to the door, both made an involuntary pause.
"She is sleeping," said the old lady, softly; but Ella was too much struck to make reply. She was thinking of the dreadful changes which had come over that frail being since last they met. Worn down to a skeleton, her lips compressed, as if in agony, her dark hair thrown back upon her shoulders, while her cheeks were pale as the marble so soon to be raised in her memory, which, with the glimmering of the lights, served to make it a too dismal scene. Staggering forward to a chair, she sat down quickly, but in the agitation there was a slight noise—it awakened the sleeper; a moment passed—they were in each others arms. When the first wild burst of joy had passed away, Mary spoke.
"Sit down here, Ella—I want to be alone with you; I feared that I might die before you came;" a convulsive shuddering passing over her, as she spoke of death. "I want to give you my history. 'T is? a dark picture, and yet it has all been mine."
"But are you not too weak and agitated?" asked the warm-hearted friend.
"Oh, no! that sweet, quiet sleep has so refreshed me, that I feel almost like another being—and I shall be very brief. But to my story. You recollect my having often told you that I never set my heart on an earthly object but I was doomed to bear a bitter disappointment. That wary, stubborn rock, encircled by the whirl of youthful and enthusiastic feeling, which, in life's earlier years, drew within its circled waves my frail bark of love and hope, then cast it forth—a wreck forever.
"In the village in which I was raised, lived one who shared with me the sports of childhood; and as we grew older, partook of the recreations and amusements of the young together. There was a strange similarity in our tastes and dispositions; and we consequently spent much of our time in each others society. There were those who sometimes smiled to see a young and sunny-haired youth so constantly with the sensitive, shrinking Mary Warner; but then they knew we were playmates from childhood, and thought no more. Mother was dead, and I was under the guidance of my remaining parent, an only child—an idolized and favored one; and in my sixteenth year, claimed as the bride of Samuel Wayland. Parental judgment frowned, and called it folly. What could I do? Our faith had long been plighted, but filial respect demanded that should be laid aside; yet what was I to find in the future, that would ever repay for the love so vainly wasted. It was all a blank. I nerved my heart for our last meeting—but the strings were fibrous, and they broke.
"'I shall go to the West, and then you must forget me,' said I, when we came to part.
"'Never, Mary, will you, can you be forgotten!'
"We parted there, forever. He is still living, a lone wanderer on the earth; we have never had any communications; but there is a unity of feeling, a oneness of spirit, that at times make me feel as if we were scarcely separated. I enjoy a pleasure in thinking of his memory, a confidence that would trust him any where in this wide world; and I now believe that wherever he is, his heart is still true to me. As for me, I have hurried through life like a 'storm-stricken bird,' no rest from the busy scenes in which I mingled. Since then, there have been proposals in which honor, wealth, and distinction were connected; and once I had well nigh sold myself for interest, and to please my father. We were promised, and I was congratulated on my happy prospects; but, alas! alas, for me; the more memory reverted to the past, my feelings revolted from the present. I sometimes used to stand where I could see him pass in the street, and exclaim 'oh, heaven! can I marry that man! can I stand before God's altar, and promise to love and honor him, when I abhor his presence.' Time was hasting; one night I went down into the study; father was sitting there.
"'Well, Mary,' said he, 'I suppose you will leave us soon.'
"That was enough for my pent-up feelings to break forth. 'I suppose so,' said I, 'but, oh! father, I would rather see my grave open to-morrow, than to think of uniting my destiny with that man. My very soul detests him."
"Mary, sit down now, and write a letter to Mr. M——, that you cannot keep your promise, and the reason why. Far would it be from me to place in the hands of my only daughter, the cup of misery unmixed. My judgment and your feelings differ.'
"It was late that night when I sealed the fated letter for M——; but I retired and slept easy, there was a burden removed which had well-nigh crushed me. What I have experienced since, words may never tell; the young have deemed me impenetrable to the natural susceptibilities of our natures, while the old have called me trifling. But, Ella, depend upon it, a heart once truly given, can never be bestowed again. I have erred in trying to conceal my history in the manner I have. Instead of placing my dependance on the goodness of the Most High, and seeking for that balm which heals the wounded spirit, and acquiring a calmness of mind which would render me in a measure happy, I plunged into the vortex of worldly pleasure. But it is all over now; they say I have the consumption, and pity me, to think one so joyous should have to die. To-day has been spent mostly in meditation; and I have tried to pray that my Savior would give me grace for a dying hour; and, Ella, will you kneel at my bedside and pray as you used to, when a young, trembling girl?"
"Yes, I will pray for you again," said Ella; "but take this cordial to revive your exhausted frame."
As the friend raised the refreshing draught, she marked such a change in Mary's countenance, that her heart quailed at the thought of the terrible vigil she was keeping, in the silence of night, alone. She kneeled by the sick, and offered up her prayer with an energy unknown to her before, such a one as a heart strong in faith, and nerved by love and fear alone could dictate; a pleading, borne on high by the angel of might, for the strengthening of the immortal soul in prison-clay before her. There was a sigh and a groan; she rose hastily and bent over the couch—there was a gasping for breath, and all was still. Ella's desolate shriek of anguish first told the tale, that Mary was dead.
Thus passed again to the Giver, a mind entrusted with high powers, and uncontrolled affections, who, in the waywardness of youth, cast unreservedly at the shrine of idolatrous love, her all of earthly hopes, then wandered forth with naught but their ashes, in the treasured urn of past remembrance, seeking to cover that with the mantle of the world's glittering folly.
TO THE AUTHOR OF "THE RAVEN."
BY MISS HARRIET B. WINSLOW.
Leave us not so dark uncertain! lift again the fallen curtain! Let us once again the mysteries of that haunted room explore— Hear once more that friend infernal—that grim visiter nocturnal! Earnestly we long to learn all that befalls that bird of yore: Oh, then, tell us something more!
Doth his shade thy floor still darken? dost thou still, despairing, hearken To that deep sepulchral utterance like the oracles of yore? In the same place is he sitting? Does he give no sign of quitting? Is he conscious or unwitting when he answers "Nevermore?" Tell me truly, I implore!
Knows he not the littlenesses of our nature—its distresses? Knows he never need of slumber, fainting forces to restore? Stoops he not to eating—drinking? Is he never caught in winking When his demon eyes are sinking deep into thy bosom's core? Tell me this, if nothing more!
Is he, after all, so evil? Is it fair to call him "devil?" Did he not give friendly answer when thy speech friend's meaning bore? When thy sad tones were revealing all the loneness o'er thee stealing, Did he not, with fellow-feeling, vow to leave thee nevermore? Keeps he not that oath he swore?
He, too, may be inly praying—vainly, earnestly essaying To forget some matchless mate, beloved yet lost for evermore. He hath donned a suit of mourning, and, all earthly comfort scorning, Broods alone from night till morning. By thy memories Lenore, Oh, renounce him nevermore.
Though he be a sable brother, treat him kindly as another! Ah, perhaps the world has scorned him for that luckless hue he wore, No such narrow prejudices can he know whom Love possesses— Whom one spark of Freedom blesses. Do not spurn him from thy door Lest Love enter nevermore!
Not a bird of evil presage, happily he brings some message From that much-mourned matchless maiden—from that loved and lost Lenore. In a pilgrim's garb disguised, angels are but seldom prized: Of this fact at length advised, were it strange if he forswore The false world for evermore?
Oh, thou ill-starred midnight ranger! dark, forlorn, mysterious stranger! Wildered wanderer from the eternal lightning on Time's stormy shore! Tell us of that world of wonder—of that famed unfading "Yonder!" Rend—oh rend the veil asunder! Let our doubts and fears be o'er! Doth he answer—"Nevermore?"
SONG OF THE ELVES.
BY ANNA BLACKWELL.
When the moon is high o'er the ruined tower, When the night-bird sings in her lonely bower, When beetle and cricket and bat are awake, And the will-o'-the-wisp is at play in the brake, Oh then do we gather, all frolic and glee, We gay little elfins, beneath the old tree! And brightly we hover on silvery wing, And dip our small cups in the whispering spring, While the night-wind lifts lightly our shining hair, And music and fragrance are on the air! Oh who is so merry, so happy as we, We gay little elfins, beneath the old tree?
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD.
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.
We sat within the farm-house old, Whose windows looking o'er the bay, Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold, An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port,— The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,— The light-house,—the dismantled fort,— The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night Descending filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight, Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene, Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been, And who was changed, and who was dead.
And all that fills the hearts of friends, When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends, And never can be one again.
The first slight swerving of the heart, That words are powerless to express, And leave it still unsaid in part, Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake Had something strange, I could but mark; The leaves of memory seemed to make A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips, As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships, The flames would leap, and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed, We thought of wrecks upon the main,— Of ships dismasted, that were hailed, And sent no answer back again.
The windows rattling in their frames, The ocean, roaring up the beach— The gusty blast—the bickering flames— All mingled vaguely in our speech;
Until they made themselves a part Of fancies floating through the brain— The long lost ventures of the heart, That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned! They were indeed too much akin— The drift-wood fire without that burned, The thoughts that burned and glowed within.
SONG FOR A SABBATH MORNING.
BY THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
Arise ye nations, with rejoicing rise, And tell your gladness to the listening skies; Come out forgetful of the week's turmoil, From halls of mirth and iron gates of toil; Come forth, come forth, and let your joy increase Till one loud paean hails the day of peace. Sing trembling age, ye youths and maidens sing; Ring ye sweet chimes, from every belfry ring; Pour the grand anthem till it soars and swells And heaven seems full of great celestial bells! Behold the Morn from orient chambers glide, With shining footsteps, like a radiant bride; The gladdened brooks proclaim her on the hills And every grove with choral welcome thrills. Rise ye sweet maidens, strew her path with flowers, With sacred lilies from your virgin bowers; Go youths and meet her with your olive boughs, Go age and greet her with your holiest vows;— See where she comes, her hands upon her breast The sainted Sabbath comes, smiling the world to rest.
BY CHARLES W. BAIRD.
Forgive me, Lord, that I so long have dwelt In noisome cities, whence Thy sacred works Are ever banished from my sight; where lurks Each baleful passion man has ever felt. Here human skill is shown in shutting out All sight and thought of things that God hath made; Lest He should share the constant homage paid To Mammon, in the hearts of men devout. O, it was fit that he upon whose head Weighed his own brother's blood, and God's dread curse, Should build a city, when he trembling fled Far from his Maker's face. And which was worse, The murder—or departing far from Thee? Great God! impute not either sin to me!
[Footnote 2: Cain.—Genesis iv. 17.]
THE CRUISE OF THE GENTILE.
BY FRANK BYRNE.
(Concluded from page 147.)
In which there is a Storm, a Wreck, and a Mutiny.
When I came on deck the next morning, I found that the mate's prediction had proved true. A norther, as it is called in the Gulf, was blowing great guns, and the ship, heading westward, was rolling in the trough of the tremendous sea almost yard-arm under, with only close-reefed top-sails and storm foretopmast-staysail set. We wallowed along in this manner all day, for we were lying our course, and the skipper was in a hurry to bring our protracted voyage to an end. We made much more leeway than we reckoned, however, for just at sunset the high mountains of Cuba were to be seen faintly looming up on the southern horizon.
"Brace up, there," ordered Captain Smith, when this fact was announced. "Luff, my man, luff, and keep her as near it as you may."
The old ship came up on the wind, presenting her front most gallantly to the angry waves, which came on as high as the fore-yard, threatening to engulf her in the watery abyss. We took in all our top-sails but the main, and with that, a reefed fore-sail and foretopmast-staysail set, the old ship shook her feathers, and prepared herself for an all-night job of clawing off an iron-bound lee-shore.
The hatches were battened down, the fore-scuttle and companion closed, and all the crew collected aft on deck and lashed themselves to some substantial object, to save themselves from being washed over-board by the immense seas which constantly broke over our bows, and deluged our decks. The night closed down darker than pitch, and the wind increased in violence. I have scarcely ever seen so dismal a night. Except when at intervals a blinding flash of lightning illumined the whole heavens and the broad expanse of raging ocean, we could distinguish nothing at a yard's distance, save the glimmer of the phosphorescent binacle light, and the gleam which flashed from the culmination of the huge seas ahead of us, resembling an extended cloud of dull fire suspended in the air, and blown toward us, till, with a noise like thunder, as it dashed against the bows, it vanished, and another misty fire was to be seen as if rising out of some dark gulf. At midnight it blew a hurricane; the wind cut off the tops of the waves, and the air was full of spray and salt, driving like sleet or snow before the wintry storm. I had ensconced myself under the lee of the bulwarks, among a knot of select weather-beaten tars, and notwithstanding the danger we were in, I could not help being somewhat amused at their conversation.
"Jack," said Teddy, an Irish sailor, to the ship's oracle, old Jack Reeves, "do you think the sticks will howld?"
"If they don't," growled Jack, "you'll be in h—l before morning."
"Och, Jasus!" was the only reply to this consolatory remark—and there was an uneasy nestling throughout the whole circle.
"Well, Frank," said old Jack to me, after a most terrific gust, during which every man held his breath to listen whether there might not be a snapping of the spars, "well, Frank, what do you think of that?"
"Why, I think I never saw it blow so hard before," I replied. "'Tisn't a very comfortable berth, this of ours, with a lee-shore not thirty miles off, and a hurricane blowing."
"No danger at all, Frank, if them spars only stay by us—and I guess they will. They're good sticks, and Mr. Brewster is too good a boatswain not to have 'em well supported. The old Gentile is a dreadful critter for eatin' to windward in any weather that God ever sent; but I hope you don't call this blowin' hard, do you? Why, I've seen it blow so that two men, one on each side of the skipper, couldn't keep his hair on his head, and they had to get the cabin-boy to tail on to the cue behind, and take a turn round a belaying-pin."
"An' that nothin' to a time I had in a brig off Hatteras," observed Teddy, who had somewhat recovered his composure; "we had to cut away both masts, you persave, and to scud under a scupper nail driv into the deck, wid a man ready to drive it further as the wind freshened."
"Wasn't that the time, Teddy," asked another, "When that big sea washed off the buttons on your jacket?"
"Faix, you may well say that; and a nigger we had on board turned white by reason of the scare he was in."
"Wal, now," interposed Ichabod Green, "Teddy, that's a lie; it's agin all reason."
"Pooh! you green-horn!" said Jack Reeves, "that's nothing to a yarn I can spin. You see that when I was quite a boy, I was in a Dutch man-o'-war for a year and thirteen months; and one day in the Indian Ocean, it came on to blow like blazes. It blowed for three days and nights, and the skipper called a council of officers to know what to do. So, when they'd smoked up all their baccy, they concluded to shorten sail, and the bo'sn came down to rouse out the crew. He ondertook to whistle, but it made such an onnateral screech, that the chaplain thought old Davy had come aboard; and he told the skipper he guessed he'd take his trick at prayin'. 'Why,' says the skipper, 'we've got on well enough without, ever since we left the Hague, hadn't we better omit it now?' ''Taint possible,' says the parson. Now you all know you can't larn seamanship to a parson or passenger—and the bloody fool knelt down with his face to wind'ard. 'Hillo!' says the skipper, 'you'd better fill away, and come round afore the wind, hadn't you?' 'Mynheer captain,' says the parson, 'you're a dreadful good seaman, but you don't know no more about religious matters than a horse.' 'That's true,' answered the skipper; 'so suit yourself, and let fly as soon as you feel the spirit move, bekase that main-sail wants reefin' awfully.' Well, the parson shuts his eyes, takes the pipe out of his mouth, and gets under-weigh; but, onluckily, the first word of the prayer was a Dutch one, as long as the maintop-bowline, and as crooked as a monkey's tail, and the wind ketchen in the kinks of it, rams it straight back into his throat, and kills him as dead as a herrin'. 'Blixem!' says the skipper, 'there'll be brandy enough for the voyage now.'"
"Sail, ho-o-o!" shouted a dozen voices, as a vivid flash of lightning showed us the form of a small schooner riding upon the crest of a wave, not two cables length ahead.
"Hard-a-lee!" shouted the skipper. "My God! make her luff, or we shall be into them."
Slowly the ship obeyed her helm, and came up on the wind, trembling to her keel, as the canvas, relieved from the strain, fluttered and thrashed against the mast with immense violence, and a noise more deafening than thunder, while the great seas dashed against the bows, now in full front toward them, with the force and shock of huge rocks projected from a catapult, and the wind shrieked and howled through the rigging as if the spirits of the deep were rejoicing over our dreadful situation.
Again the fiery flash shot suddenly athwart the sky.
Good God! the schooner, her deck and lower rigging black with human beings, lay broadside to, scarcely ten rods from before our bows. A cry of horror mingled with the rattling thunder and the howl of the storm. I felt my blood curdle in my veins, and an oppression like the nightmare obstructed my voice.
The schooner sunk in the trough, and, as the lightning paled, disappeared from sight. The next moment our huge ship, with a headlong pitch, was precipitated upon her. One crash of riven timbers, and a yell of despairing agony, and all was over; the ship fell off from the wind, and we were again driving madly forward into the almost palpable darkness, tearing through the mountain seas.
"Rig the pumps and try them," cried Captain Smith, in a hoarse voice, "we may have started a plank by the shock."
To the great joy of all, the ship was found to make no more water than usual. All hands soon settled down quietly again, wondering what the run-down schooner could have been, and pitying her unfortunate crew, when a faint shout from the forecastle was heard in a lull of the storm.
"Lord save us! what can that be?" exclaimed a dozen of the crew in a breath.
"In nomine Pathris—" began Teddy, crossing himself in a fright.
"Silence there!" cried the skipper; "Mr. Stewart, can it be one of the schooner's crew, who has saved himself by the bowsprit rigging?"
"Plaze yer honor," said Teddy, "it's more likely it's one of their ghosts."
"Silence, I tell you! who gave you liberty to tell your opinion. Mr. Brewster, hail 'em, whoever they be."
"Folk'stle, ahoy!" sung out the second mate; "who's there?"
"Help! help! for God's sake!" faintly answered the mysterious voice.
"Go forward, there, two hands," ordered the captain; "'t is one of the schooner's crew."
After a moment's hesitation, the second mate and Jack Reeves started on this mission of mercy, and were soon followed by nearly all the crew. Upon reaching the forecastle we found the body of a man lying across the heel of the bowsprit, jammed against the windlass pawl. The insensible form was lifted from its resting place, and, by the captain's order, finally deposited in the cabin on the transom. The skipper, steward, and myself, remained below to try and resuscitate the apparently lifeless body. The means we used were effectual; and the wrecked seaman opened his eyes, and finally sat up.
"I must go on deck now," said the captain. "Stay below, Frank, and help the steward undress him, and put him into a berth."
Our benevolent darky had by this time concocted a glass of brandy grog, very stiff, but, alas! not hot, which I handed to the object of our care, who, after drinking it, seemed much better; and we then proceeded to help him strip. I noticed that his clothes were very coarse, and parti-colored; there were also marks of fetters on his ancles, and his back was scarred by the lash. I conjectured from these circumstances that our new shipmate was not of the most immaculate purity of character, and after I had got him into a berth, between two warm woollen blankets, I made free to ask him a few questions, not only about himself, but also about his vessel. I could get no reply but in Spanish, as I took his lingo to be, though, from his hailing for help in English, I knew that he must understand that language. When I went upon deck I reported myself to the officers, who concluded to defer any examination until morning. The gale began to abate about midnight, and at nine o'clock in the morning it had so far subsided that the cabin mess, leaving Mr. Brewster in charge of the deck, went below to get breakfast.
"The swell is tremendous," said the skipper, as we were endeavoring to get seated around the table. "I think I never saw a much heavier sea in any part of the world. Look out, there!"
But the caution was given too late; the ship had risen on an enormous wave as the skipper had spoken, and when she plunged, the steward pitched headlong over the cabin table, closely followed by the third mate, who had grasped his camp-stool for support, and still clung pertinaciously to it. The ship righted, leaving Langley's corpus extended at full length among a wreck of broken crockery.
"Well, Mr. Langley," said the skipper, "I hope you enjoy your breakfast."
"Bill," added the mate, as Langley gathered himself up, "as you've got through your breakfast so expeditiously, hadn't you better go on deck and let Mr. Brewster come down?"
"Beg your pardon, sir; but don't you see I'm laid on the table—there can be no action about me at present."
"Well, sit down and try to preserve your gravity. I hope to see no more such flights of nonsense at this table."
"Steward," asked the skipper, after we had nearly finished our meal, "how is your patient this morning?"
"It's enough to make any body out of patience, sar, to fall ober de cabin table. So tan't werry first rate."
"No, so I perceive; but I mean, how's the man who came on board us last night?"
"Oh, dat's him—excuse me, sar. Well, sar, he's quite smart dis mornin'."
"Fetch him out here, I wish to ask him some questions; give him a shirt and trowsers of mine, and fetch him out."
The steward soon made his appearance again, in company with the stranger, who, now dressed clean, looked to be a stout, powerful man, apparently about thirty-five; but his long, tangled, black hair and whiskers so concealed his features, that their expression could not be discerned. He bowed as he entered the cabin, and in good English thanked the captain for his care.
"Sit down upon the stool yonder," said the skipper, "and tell us the name and nation of your vessel, and by what miracle you escaped; and afterward you shall have some breakfast."
"The name of the vessel, senor, was the San Diego, the guarda-costa upon this station. I was on deck when your ship was first seen, and I climbed half way up the main shrouds to look out for you, by the captain's order. When you struck us, I found myself entangled in your jib-boom rigging, and held on, though much bruised, and half-drowned by the seas which ducked me every minute, until I succeeded in laying in upon your forecastle. I had had time to notice your rig, and knew you to be an American."
"How many were your crew?" asked the mate.
The sailor started, and for a moment eyed the querist closely. "Oh! senor, only about fifty souls in all."
"Good God!" cried the captain, "fifty lives lost—fifty souls sent into eternity with scarcely a moment's warning!"
"Don't regret it, captain," said the sailor, bitterly, "many of them were only convicts; the government will be much obliged to you."
"Were you a convict?" asked the mate.
"I was, senor, as my dress and appearance would have told you, even if I had been disposed to lie. I was drafted from the Matanzas chain-gang to the guarda-costa some six month ago."
"The Matanzas chain-gang!" cried the mate, eagerly, "pray, my good fellow, do you know a convict by the name of Pedro Garcia?"
The man rose to his feet—"Why, senor, do you?" he inquired.
"I do, indeed," answered Mr. Stewart, impatiently; "but tell me—answer my question, sir."
The convict brushed back his long hair. "I was once called Don Pedro Garcia," said he; "tell me," he added, as all four of us rose involuntarily at this startling announcement, "with whom do I speak?"
"Good God!" cried the mate, making one jump for the convict felon, and throwing his arms around him, "I'm Ben Stewart, alive and well."
Very unluckily, at this moment the ship gave a violent lurch, and the two fell, and, locked in each others embrace, rolled over to leeward; the skipper, who was unguarded in his astonishment, followed Langley's former wake over the table, which, yielding to the impulse, fetched away, capsized, and with the captain, also rolled away to leeward; the steward, as in duty bound, ran to his superior's help.
At this juncture, Brewster, hearing the unusual row, poked his head through the skylight slide, and demanded—"What's the matter? Mutiny! by G——d!" he shouted, catching sight of the prostrate forms of his fellow officers, struggling, as he thought, in the respective grasps of the rescued convict and the steward. Off went the scuttle, and down came the valiant Brewster square in the midst of the crockery, followed by three or four of his watch, stumbling over the bodies of the overthrown quartette. Langley and myself climbed into a berth and looked on.
"It's the steward," shouted the mischievous third mate, whose love of fun could not be controled by fear of consequences; "he tried to stab the captain with the carving-knife."
The scene now became exciting; the cry of mutiny was heard all over the vessel; and the skipper and mate hearing it, very naturally concluding that the mutineers were those who had so unceremoniously invaded the cabin, turned furiously upon them, and called loudly for assistance to us in the berth; but we were enjoying the fun too much to even speak and explain.
"Are ye kilt, cap'n?" asked Teddy, who had pushed his way to his beloved commander.
"No, you d——d mutinous scoundrel!" replied the enraged skipper, planting a tremendous blow between the eyes of the anxious interrogator; "take that!" and the Irishman rolled upon deck. In the meantime, Mr. Brewster, who had taken an especial spite against the convict, grabbed him by the throat. Pedro returned the compliment by a blow in the stomach, and Stewart aided the defeat of his colleague by taking him by the shoulders and dragging him off. Transported beyond reason by the pain of the blow he had received, and what he supposed to be the black ingratitude of Mr. Stewart, Brewster gave a scream of rage and clinched in with the mate with all his force.
It was fast getting to be past a joke.
"Come, Langley," said I, "let's put a stop to this—somebody will be killed."
"Sure enough! but how are we going to do it? Oh! here are the mate's pistols; draw the charges, Frank, and you take one and I the other, and we'll soon proclaim peace."
"They're not loaded," said I, after trying them with the ramrod.
"All right, then—follow me."
"We jumped down from our roost, leveled our pistols at the crowd, and threatened to fire if hostilities should not instantly cease on both sides.
"Langley, hand me those pistols," cried the frenzied skipper, who was the more angry because nobody would fight with him.
"Please, sir, I can't; I daren't trust myself without 'em. Disperse, ye rebels! lay down your arms and disperse—die, base and perjured villain," shouted Langley, holding the muzzle of his pistol to Brewster's ear, while I, by poking my shooting-iron in everybody's face, obtained partial order. After a deal of difficulty the mutiny was explained; and the crestfallen Brewster withdrew his forces, followed by the mate, who conciliated his irate colleague, and gave him an inkling as to the real name and character of the rescued convict.
After the steward had cleared away the wreck of the breakfast things, a conclave of the cabin-mess was called, to which the black steward was ex officio and ex necessitate admitted; and it was determined, after much debate, that the voyage should be continued, and that during our stay in Matanzas my cousin Pedro should remain hidden on board. The next mooted point was whether to conceal the matter from the crew, and decided in the negative; so the men were called aft, and the truth briefly stated to them. One and all swore to be faithful and discreet—and so they proved. With one or two exceptions our crew were Yankees, and of a far higher grade than the crews of merchantmen generally.
During these proceedings the gale had rapidly abated, and at noon we found ourselves rolling and pitching in a heavy sea, the sun shining brightly over our heads, and not a breath of air stirring. The skipper, mate, and Cousin Pedro were closeted together in the cabin during the afternoon, while the second and third mates, and ship's cousin, compared notes sitting under the awning on the booby-hatch. I enlightened Brewster more fully as to Mr. Stewart's former adventures in Cuba; and we finally concluded that our running down the Spanish guarda-costa was the most lucky thing in the world.
"Half my plan is now accomplished to hand," said I; "we must now get my Cousin Clara out of the nunnery."
"You hadn't better try that, Frank," interposed Mr. Brewster, "because, for two reasons; in the first place, them Catholics are poor benighted heathen, and she wouldn't get out if she could—for she is a veiled nun; and the next place you'd get your neck into a certain machine called a garrote, or else make your cousin's place good in the chain-gang."
"Nevertheless, I shall try; and if she only is willing to run away, there can some plan be contrived, I know."
"And my part shall be to run old Alvarez through the body, if the devil hasn't taken him already," added Mr. William Langley.
"Boys will be boys, that's a fact, call 'em what you're a mind to," observed Mr. Brewster, very sapiently stroking his big red whiskers.
The calm continued, and by evening the swell had in a great degree gone down. In the first dog-watch, my Cousin Pedro, sitting upon the companion, gave us an account of his long imprisonment. He had, as the reader already knows, been sentenced for the murder of the Count ——, and had toiled and slaved in the streets of Matanzas, till drafted, with many others, on board of the guarda-costa. He knew of Clara's fate, and had been undeceived by my father in the belief of Mr. Stewart's death.
Langley and I stood the middle watch again that night. An easterly breeze, gentle, but steady, blew most of the night; and when we went below, and eight bells struck, the moon was silvering the lofty peak of the Pan of Matanzas, which lay far away on our larboard bow.
The Gentile arrives at Matanzas.
I was waked in the morning by Mr. Stewart, who shook me by the shoulders, crying, "Come, Frank, turn out; it's seven bells, so rouse and bite; breakfast is almost ready, and a glorious prospect from deck."
I turned out incontinently at this summons, slipped on my trowsers, ran up the companion-way, dipped my head in a bucket of water, by way of performing my morning ablutions, and then made my way aft again to join the circle on the quarter-deck. The watch had just finished washing down the decks, and were engaged in laying up the rigging on the belaying-pins; the boys were stowing away the detested holy-stone under the chocks of the long-boat; the watch below were performing their brief morning ablutions upon the forecastle; the steward was bringing aft the cabin breakfast, sadly incommoded by the mischievous Rover, who, wet as a sponge, capered about the deck, shaking himself against everybody who came in his way, and now seemed fully determined to dive between the lower spars of the unfortunate darkey; the officers were standing by my side, breathing the cool morning air, looking out upon the beautiful scene around us, and getting an appetite for breakfast.
The ship lay about a league from the land, almost abreast the entrance of Matanzas bay; the land wind blew gently, bearing to us the delicious perfumes of orange and coffee-blossoms, and crowds of vessels were coming from the bay, taking advantage of it to gain an offing before the setting in of the sea-breeze. Half a mile from us a brig lay motionless upon the water, her yards swarming with men loosing the sails, which in a moment fell together with a precision that would have plainly told a sailor that the brig was a man-of-war, even without taking notice of the delicate white ribbon painted upon her side, pierced by a half-dozen ports, from which protruded as many saucy-looking guns, their red tompions contrasting prettily with the aforesaid white line and the black sides of the vessel. A flag hung negligently down from her gaff end, and, as a puff of wind stronger than the rest blew out its crimson folds, we saw emblazoned thereon the cross of St. George and merry England. The brig was the British cruiser on this station. To the northward stretched the broad blue expanse of the sea we had so recently sailed on, looking to be as quiet and peaceful as if there were no such things as hurricanes and angry waves, and dotted here and there by the glistening sails of inward bound vessels. Far away to the westward a long black wreath of smoke, following in the wake of a small speck on the water, announced the approach of the Havana steam packet; and close in, hugging the shore, glided a solitary American barque, apparently bound to Havana to finish her freight, her white sails gleaming in the sun. The land seemed strangely beautiful to our sea-going eyes; and we were never tired with gazing at the tall, graceful palms, sheltering with their grateful shade white villas, situate in the midst of fertile fields of sugar-cane, and surrounded by little hamlets of white-washed slave huts. The overhanging haze of the distant city could be seen rising beyond the intervening hills, and the back-ground of the picture was formed by a range of blue conical peaks, amidst which towered in majesty the flat summit of the celebrated Pan of Matanzas.
"And I am once more in the West Indies!" murmured Mr. Stewart, half unconsciously. "How much has happened since my eyes first looked upon this landscape!"
"True enough!" added Pedro, sighing.
"Breakfas' gettin' cold, Cap'n Smiff," cried the steward, petulently, poking his head up the companion.