NATURE AND HUMAN NATURE by Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Hominem, pagina nostra sapit.—MART Eye nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies, And catch the manners living as they rise.—POPE
I. A SURPRISE
II. CLIPPERS AND STEAMERS
III. A WOMAN'S HEART
IV. A CRITTER WITH A THOUSAND VIRTUES AND BUT ONE VICE
V. A NEW WAY TO LEARN GAELIC
VI. THE WOUNDS OF THE HEART
VII. FIDDLING AND DANCING, AND SERVING THE DEVIL
VIII. STITCHING A BUTTON-HOLE
IX. THE PLURAL OF MOOSE
X. A DAY ON THE LAKE.—PART I
XI. A DAY ON THE LAKE.—PART II
XII. THE BETROTHAL
XIII. A FOGGY NIGHT
XIV. FEMALE COLLEGES
XVI. THE WORLD BEFORE THE FLOOD
XVII. LOST AT SEA
XVIII. HOLDING UP THE MIRROR
XIX. THE BUNDLE OF STICKS
XX. TOWN AND COUNTRY
XXI. THE HONEYMOON
XXII. A DISH OF CLAMS
XXIII. THE DEVIL'S HOLE; OR, FISH AND FLESH
XXIV. THE CUCUMBER LAKE
XXV. THE RECALL
CHAPTER I. A SURPRISE.
Thinks I to myself, as I overheard a person inquire of the servant at the door, in an unmistakeable voice and tone, "Is the Squire to hum?" that can be no one else than my old friend Sam Slick the Clockmaker. But it could admit of no doubt when he proceeded, "If he is, tell him I am here."
"Who shall I say, Sir?"
The stranger paused a moment, and then said, "It's such an everlastin' long name, I don't think you can carry it all to wunst, and I don't want it broke in two. Tell him it's a gentleman that calculates to hold a protracted meeten here to-night. Come, don't stand starin' there on the track, you might get run over. Don't you hear the engine coming? Shunt off now."
"Ah, my old friend," said I, advancing, and shaking him by the hand, "how are you?"
"As hearty as a buck," he replied, "though I can't jist jump quite so high now."
"I knew you," I said, "the moment I heard your voice, and if I had not recognised that, I should have known your talk."
"That's because I am a Yankee, Sir," he said, "no two of us look alike, or talk alike; but being free and enlightened citizens, we jist talk as we please."
"Ah, my good friend, you always please when you talk, and that is more than can be said of most men."
"And so will you," he replied, "if you use soft sawder that way. Oh, dear me! it seems but the other day that you laughed so at my theory of soft sawder and human natur', don't it? They were pleasant days, warn't they? I often think of them, and think of them with pleasure too. As I was passing Halifax harbour, on my way hum in the 'Black Hawk,' the wind fortunately came ahead, and thinks I to myself, I will put in there, and pull foot1 for Windsor and see the Squire, give him my Journal, and spend an hour or two with him once more. So here I am, at least what is left of me, and dreadful glad I am to see you too; but as it is about your dinner hour I will go and titivate up a bit, and then we will have a dish of chat for desert, and cigars, to remind us of by-gones, as we stroll through your shady walks here."
1 The Americans are not entitled to the credit or ridicule, whichever people may be disposed to bestow upon them, for the extraordinary phrases with which their conversation is occasionally embellished. Some of them have good classical authority. That of "pull-foot" may be traced to Euripides, [Greek text].
My old friend had worn well; he was still a wiry athletic man, and his step as elastic and springy as ever. The constant exercise he had been in the habit of taking had preserved his health and condition, and these in their turn had enabled him to maintain his cheerfulness and humour. The lines in his face were somewhat deeper, and a few straggling grey hairs were the only traces of the hand of time. His manner was much improved by his intercourse with the great world; but his phraseology, in which he appeared to take both pride and pleasure, was much the same as when I first knew him. So little indeed was he changed, that I could scarcely believe so many years had elapsed since we made our first tour together.
It was the most unexpected and agreeable visit. He enlivened the conversation at dinner with anecdotes that were often too much for the gravity of my servant, who once or twice left the room to avoid explosive outbreaks of laughter. Among others, he told me the following whimsical story.
"When the 'Black Hawk' was at Causeau, we happened to have a queer original sort of man, a Nova Scotia doctor, on board, who joined our party at Ship Harbour, for the purpose of taking a cruise with us. Not having anything above particular to do, we left the vessel and took passage in a coaster for Prince Edward's Island, as my commission required me to spend a day or two there, and inquire about the fisheries. Well, although I don't trade now, I spekelate sometimes when I see a right smart chance, and especially if there is fun in the transaction. So, sais I, 'Doctor, I will play possum1 with these folks, and take a rise out of them, that will astonish their weak narves, I know, while I put several hundred dollars in my pocket at the same time.' So I advertised that I would give four pounds ten shillings for the largest Hackmetack knee in the island, four pounds for the second, three pounds ten shillings for the third, and three pounds for the fourth biggest one. I suppose, Squire, you know what a ship's knee is, don't you? It is a crooked piece of timber, exactly the shape of a man's leg when kneeling. It forms two sides of a square, and makes a grand fastening for the side and deck beams of a vessel.
1 The opossum, when chased by dogs, will often pretend to be dead, and thus deceives his pursuers.
"'What in the world do you want of only four of those knees?' said the Doctor.
"'Nothing,' said I, 'but to raise a laugh on these critters, and make them pay real handsome for the joke.'
"Well, every bushwhacker and forest ranger in the island thought he knew where to find four enormous ones, and that he would go and get them, and say nothing to nobody, and all that morning fixed for the delivery they kept coming into the shipping place with them. People couldn't think what under the light of the living sun was going on, for it seemed as if every team in the province was at work, and all the countrymen were running mad on junipers. Perhaps no livin' soul ever see such a beautiful collection of ship-timber afore, and I am sure never will again in a crow's age. The way these 'old oysters' (a nick-name I gave the islanders, on account of their everlastin' beds of this shell-fish) opened their mugs and gaped was a caution to dying calves.
"At the time appointed, there were eight hundred sticks on the ground, the very best in the colony. Well, I went very gravely round and selected the four largest, and paid for them cash down on the nail, according to contract. The goneys seed their fix, but didn't know how they got into it. They didn't think hard of me, for I advertised for four sticks only, and I gave a very high price for them; but they did think a little mean of themselves, that's a fact, for each man had but four pieces, and they were too ridiculous large for the thunderin' small vessels built on the island. They scratched their heads in a way that was harrowing, even in a stubble field.
"'My gracious,' sais I, 'hackmetacks, it seems to me, is as thick in this country as blackberries in the Fall, after the robins have left to go to sleep for the winter. Who on earth would have thought there was so many here? Oh, children of Israel! What a lot there is, ain't there? Why, the father of this island couldn't hold them all.'
"'Father of this island,' sais they, 'who is he?'
"'Why,' sais I, 'ain't this Prince Edward's?'
"'Why, yes,' sais they, looking still more puzzled.
"'Well,' sais I, 'in the middle of Halifax harbour is King George's Island, and that must be the father of this.'
"Well if they could see any wit in that speech, it is more than I could, to save my soul alive; but it is the easiest thing in the world to set a crowd off a tee-heeing. They can't help it, for it is electrical. Go to the circus now, and you will hear a stupid joke of the clown; well, you are determined you won't laugh, but somehow you can't help it no how you can fix it, although you are mad with yourself for doing so, and you just roar out and are as big a fool as all the rest.
"Well it made them laugh, and that was enough for me.
"Sais I, 'the wust of it is, gentlemen, they are all so shocking large, and there is no small ones among them; they can't be divided into lots, still, as you seem to be disappointed, I will make you an offer for them, cash down, all hard gold.' So I gave them a bid at a very low figure, say half nothing, 'and,' sais I, 'I advise you not to take it, they are worth much more, if a man only knows what to do with them. Some of your traders, I make no manner of doubt, will give you twice as much if you will only take your pay in goods, at four times their value, and perhaps they mightent like your selling them to a stranger, for they are all responsible government-men, and act accordin' 'to the well understood wishes of the people.' I shall sail in two hours, and you can let me know; but mind, I can only buy all or none, for I shall have to hire a vessel to carry them. After all,' sais I, 'perhaps we had better not trade, for,' taking out a handful of sovereigns from my pocket, and jingling them, 'there is no two ways about it; these little fellows are easier to carry by a long chalk than them great lummokin' hackmetacks. Good bye, gentlemen.'
"Well, one of the critters, who was as awkward as a wrong boot, soon calls out, 'woh,' to me, so I turns and sais 'well, "old hoss," what do you want?' At which they laughed louder than before.
"Sais he, 'we have concluded to take your offer.'
"'Well,' sais I, 'there is no back out in me, here is your money, the knees is mine.' So I shipped them, and had the satisfaction to oblige them, and put two hundred and fifty pounds in my pocket. There are three things, Squire, I like in a spekelation:—First. A fair shake; Second. A fair profit; and Third, a fair share of fun."
In the course of the afternoon, he said, "Squire, I have brought you my Journal, for I thought when I was a startin' off, as there were some things I should like to point out to my old friend, it would be as well to deliver it myself and mention them, for what in natur' is the good of letter writing? In business there is nothing like a good face to face talk. Now, Squire, I am really what I assume to be—I am, in fact, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, and nobody else. It is of no consequence however to the world whether this is really my name or an assumed one. If it is the first, it is a matter of some importance to take care of it and defend it; if it is a fictitious one, it is equally so to preserve my incognito. I may not choose to give my card, and may not desire to be known. A satirist, like an Irishman, finds it convenient sometimes to shoot from behind a shelter. Like him, too, he may occasionally miss his shot, and firing with intent to do bodily harm is almost as badly punished as if death had ensued. And besides, an anonymous book has a mystery about it. Moreover, what more right has a man to say to you, 'Stand and deliver your name,' than to say, 'Stand and fork out your purse'—I can't see the difference for the life of me. Hesitation betrays guilt. If a person inquires if you are to home, the servant is directed to say No, if you don't want to be seen, and choose to be among the missing. Well, if a feller asks if I am the Mr Slick, I have just as good a right to say, 'Ask about and find out.'
"People sometimes, I actilly believe, take you for me. If they do, all I have to say is they are fools not to know better, for we neither act alike, talk alike, nor look alike, though perhaps we may think alike on some subjects. You was bred and born here in Nova Scotia, and not in Connecticut, and if they ask you where I was raised, tell them I warn't raised at all, but was found one fine morning pinned across a clothes line, after a heavy washing to hum. It is easy to distinguish an editor from the author, if a reader has half an eye, and if he hain't got that, it's no use to offer him spectacles, that's a fact. Now, by trade I am a clockmaker, and by birth I have the honour to be a Yankee. I use the word honour, Squire, a purpose, because I know what I am talking about, which I am sorry to say is not quite so common a thing in the world as people suppose. The English call all us Americans, Yankees, because they don't know what they are talking about, and are not aware that it is only the inhabitants of New England who can boast of that appellation.1
1 Brother Jonathan is the general term for all. It originated thus. When General Washington, after being appointed commander of the army of the Revolutionary War, came to Massachusetts to organize it, and make preparations for the defence of the country, he found a great want of ammunition and other means necessary to meet the powerful foe he had to contend with, and great difficulty to obtain them. If attacked in such condition, the cause at once might be hopeless. On one occasion at that anxious period, a consultation of the officers and others was had, when it seemed no way could be devised to make such preparations as was necessary. His Excellency Jonathan Trumbull, the elder, was then Governor of the State of Connecticut, on whose judgment and aid the General placed the greatest reliance, and remarked, "We must consult 'Brother Jonathan' on the subject. The General did so, and the Governor was successful in supplying many of the wants of the army. When difficulties arose, and the army was spread over the country, it became a by-word, "We must consult Brother Jonathan." The term Yankee is still applied to a portion, but "Brother Jonathan" has now become a designation of the whole country, as John Bull is for England.—BARTLETT'S AMERICANISMS.
"The southerners, who are both as proud and as sarcy as the British, call us Eastern folk Yankees as a term of reproach, because having no slaves, we are obliged to be our own niggers and do our own work, which is'nt considered very genteel, and as we are intelligent, enterprising, and skilful, and therefore too often creditors of our more luxurious countrymen, they do not like us the better for that, and not being Puritans themselves, are apt to style us scornfully, those 'd—d Yankees.'
"Now all this comes of their not knowing what they are talking about. Even the New Englanders themselves, cute as they be, often use the word foolishly; for, Squire, would you believe it, none of them, though they answer to and acknowledge the appellation of Yankee with pride, can tell you its origin. I repeat, therefore, I have the honour to be a Yankee. I don't mean to say that word is 'all same,' as the Indians say, as perfection; far from it, for we have some peculiarities common to us all. Cracking and boasting is one of these. Now braggin' comes as natural to me as scratchin' to a Scotchman. I am as fond of rubbing myself agin the statue of George the Third, as he is of se-sawing his shoulders on the mile-stones of the Duke of Argyle. Each in their way were great benefactors, the one by teaching the Yankees to respect themselves, and the other by putting his countrymen in an upright posture of happiness. So I can join hands with the North Briton, and bless them both.
"With this national and nateral infirmity therefore, is it to be wondered at if, as my 'Sayings and Doings' have become more popular than you or I ever expected, that I should crack and boast of them? I think not. If I have a claim, my role is to go ahead with it. Now don't leave out my braggin', Squire, because you are afraid people will think it is you speaking, and not me, or because you think it is bad taste as you call it. I know what I am at, and don't go it—blind. My Journal contains much for my own countrymen as well as the English, for we expect every American abroad to sustain the reputation in himself of our great nation.
"Now our Minister to Victoria's Court, when he made his brag speech to the great agricultural dinner at Gloucester last year, didn't intend that for the British, but for us. So in Congress no man in either house can speak or read an oration more than an hour long, but he can send the whole lockrum, includin' what he didn't say, to the papers. One has to brag before foreign assemblies, the other before a Congress, but both have an eye to the feelings of the Americans at large, and their own constituents in particular. Now that is a trick others know as well as we do. The Irish member from Kilmany, and him from Kilmore, when he brags there never was a murder in either, don't expect the English to believe it, for he is availed they know better, but the brag pleases the patriots to home, on account of its impudence.
"So the little man, Lord Bunkum, when he opens Oxford to Jew and Gentile, and offers to make Rothschild Chancellor instead of Lord Derby, and tells them old dons, the heads of colleges, as polite as a stage-driver, that he does it out of pure regard to them, and only to improve the University, don't expect them to believe it; for he gives them a sly wink when he says so, as much as to say, how are you off for Hebrew, my old septuagenarians? Droll boy is Rothey, for though he comes from the land of Ham, he don't eat pork. But it pleases the sarcumsised Jew, and the unsarcumsised tag-rag and bobtail that are to be admitted, and who verily do believe (for their bump of conceit is largely developed) that they can improve the Colleges by granting educational excursion tickets.
"So Paddy O'Shonnosey the member for Blarney, when he votes for smashing in the porter's lodges of that Protestant institution, and talks of Toleration and Equal Rights, and calls the Duke of Tuscany a broth of a boy, and a light to illumine heretical darkness, don't talk this nonsense to please the outs or ins, for he don't care a snap of his finger for either of them, nor because he thinks it right, for it's plain he don't, seeing that he would fight till he'd run away before Maynooth should be sarved arter that fashion; but he does it, because he knows it will please him, or them, that sent him there.
"There are two kinds of boastin', Squire, active and passive. The former belongs exclusively to my countrymen, and the latter to the British. A Yankee openly asserts and loudly proclaims his superiority. John Bull feels and looks it. He don't give utterance to this conviction. He takes it for granted all the world knows and admits it, and he is so thoroughly persuaded of it himself, that, to use his own favourite phrase, he don't care a fig if folks don't admit it. His vanity, therefore, has a sublimity in it. He thinks, as the Italians say, 'that when nature formed him, she broke the mould.' There never was, never can, and never will be, another like him. His boastin', therefore, is passive. He shows it and acts it; but he don't proclaim it. He condescends and is gracious, patronizes and talks down to you. Let my boastin' alone therefore, Squire, if you please. You know what it means, what bottom it has, and whether the plaster sticks on the right spot or not.
"So there is the first division of my subject. Now for the second. But don't go off at half-cock, narvous like. I am not like the black preacher that had forty-eleven divisions. I have only a few more remarks to make. Well, I have observed that in editin' my last Journal, you struck out some scores I made under certain passages and maxims, because you thought they were not needed, or looked vain. I know it looks consaited as well as you do, but I know their use also. I have my own views of things. Let them also be as I have made them. They warn't put there for nothin'. I have a case in pint that runs on all fours with it, as brother Josiah the lawyer used to say, and if there was anythin' wantin' to prove that lawyers were not strait up and down in their dealings, that expression would show it.
"I was to court wunst to Slickville, when he was addressin' of the jury. The main points of his argument he went over and over again, till I got so tired I took up my hat and walked out. Sais I to him, arter court was prorogued and members gone home,
"'Sy,' sais I, 'why on airth did you repeat them arguments so often? It was everlastin' yarny.'
"'Sam,' sais he, and he gave his head a jupe, and pressed his lips close, like a lemon-squeezer, the way lawyers always do when they want to look wise, 'when I can't drive a nail with one blow, I hammer away till I do git it in. Some folks' heads is as hard as hackmetacks—you have to bore a hole in it first to put the nail in, to keep it from bendin', and then it is as touch as a bargain if you can send it home and clinch it.'
"Now maxims and saws are the sumtotalisation of a thing. Folks won't always add up the columns to see if they are footed right, but show 'em the amount and result, and that they are able to remember and carry away with them. No—no, put them Italics in, as I have always done. They show there is truth at the bottom. I like it, for it's what I call sense on the short-cards—do you take? Recollect always, you are not Sam Slick, and I am not you. The greatest compliment a Britisher would think he could pay you, would be to say, 'I should have taken you for an Englishman.' Now the greatest compliment he can pay me is to take me for a Connecticut Clockmaker, who hoed his way up to the Embassy to London, and preserved so much of his nationality, after being so long among foreigners. Let the Italics be—you ain't answerable for them, nor my boastin' neither. When you write a book of your own, leave out both if you like, but as you only edit my Journal, if you leave them out, just go one step further, and leave out Sam Slick also.
"There is another thing, Squire, upon which I must make a remark, if you will bear with me. In my last work you made me speak purer English than you found in my Journal, and altered my phraseology, or rather my dialect. Now, my dear Nippent—"
"Nippent!" said I, "what is that?"
"The most endearing word in the Indian language for friend," he said, "only it's more comprehensive, including ally, foster-brother, life-preserver, shaft-horse, and everything that has a human tie in it."
"Ah, Slick," I said, "how skilled you are in soft sawder! You laid that trap for me on purpose, so that I might ask the question, to enable you to throw the lavender to me."
"Dod drot that word soft sawder," said he, "I wish I had never invented it. I can't say a civil thing to anybody now, but he looks arch, as if he had found a mare's nest, and says, 'Ah, Slick! none of your soft sawder now.' But, my dear nippent, by that means you destroy my individuality. I cease to be the genuine itinerant Yankee Clockmaker, and merge into a very bad imitation. You know I am a natural character, and always was, and act and talk naturally, and as far as I can judge, the little alteration my sojourn in London with the American embassy has made in my pronunciation and provincialism, is by no means an improvement to my Journal. The moment you take away my native dialect, I become the representative of another class, and cease to be your old friend 'Sam Slick, the Clockmaker.' Bear with me this once, Squire, and don't tear your shirt, I beseech you, for in all probability it will be the last time it will be in your power to subject me to the ordeal of criticism, and I should like, I confess, to remain true to myself and to Nature to the last.
"On the other hand, Squire, you will find passages in this Journal that have neither Yankee words nor Yankee brag in them. Now pray don't go as you did in the last, and alter them by insarten here and there what you call 'Americanisms,' so as to make it more in character and uniform; that is going to t'other extreme, for I can write as pure English, if I can't speak it, as anybody can.1 My education warn't a college one, like my brothers, Eldad's and Josiah's, the doctor and lawyer; but it was not neglected for all that. Dear old Minister was a scholar, every inch of him, and took great pains with me in my themes, letters, and composition. 'Sam,' he used to say, 'there are four things needed to write well: first, master the language grammatically; second, master your subject; third, write naturally; fourth, let your heart as well as your hand guide the pen.' It ain't out of keeping therefore for me to express myself decently in composition if I choose. It warn't out of character, with Franklin, and he was a poor printer boy, nor Washington, and he was only a land-surveyor, and they growed to be 'some punkins' too.
1 The reader will perceive from a perusal of this Journal, that Mr Slick, who is always so ready to detect absurdity in others, has in this instance exhibited a species of vanity by no means uncommon in this world. He prides himself more on composition, to which he has but small pretensions, than on those things for which the public is willing enough to give him full credit. Had he however received a classical education, it may well be doubted whether he would have been as useful or successful a man as President of Yale College, as he has been as an itinerant practical Clockmaker.
"An American clockmaker ain't like a European one. He may not be as good a workman as t'other one, but he can do somethin' else besides makin' wheels and pulleys. One always looks forward to rise in the world, the other to attain excellence in his line. I am, as I have expressed it in some part of this Journal, not ashamed of having been a tradesman—I glory in it; but I should indeed have been ashamed if, with the instruction I received from dear old Minister, I had always remained one. No, don't alter my Journal. I am just what I am, and nothing more or less. You can't measure me by English standards; you must take an American one, and that will give you my length, breadth, height, and weight to a hair. If silly people take you for me, and put my braggin' on your shoulders, why jist say, 'You might be mistakened for a worse fellow than he is, that's all.' Yes, yes, let my talk remain 'down-east talk,'1 and my writin' remain clear of cant terms when you find it so.
1 It must not be inferred from this expression that Mr Slick's talk is all "pure down-east dialect." The intermixture of Americans is now so great, in consequence of their steamers and railroads, that there is but little pure provincialism left. They have borrowed from each other in different sections most liberally, and not only has the vocabulary of the south and west contributed its phraseology to New England, but there is recently an affectation in consequence of the Mexican war, to naturalise Spanish words, some of which Mr Slick, who delights in this sort of thing, has introduced into this Journal.—ED.
"I like Yankee words—I learned them when young. Father and mother used them, and so did all the old folks to Slickville. There is both fun, sense, and expression in 'em too, and that is more than there is in Taffy's, Pat's, or Sawney's brogue either. The one enriches and enlarges the vocabulary, the other is nothing but broken English, and so confoundedly broken too, you can't put the pieces together sometimes. Again, my writing, when I freeze down solid to it, is just as much in character as the other. Recollect this—Every woman in our country who has a son knows that he may, and thinks that he will, become President of the United States, and that thought and that chance make that boy superior to any of his class in Europe.
"And now, Squire," said he, "I believe there has been enough said about myself and my Journal. Sposen we drink success to the 'human nature,' or 'men and things,' or whatever other name you select for this Journal, and then we will talk of something else."
"I will drink that toast," I said, "with all my heart, and now let me ask you how you have succeeded in your mission about the fisheries?"
"First rate," he replied; "we have them now, and no mistake!"
"By the treaty?" I inquired.
"No," he said, "I have discovered the dodge, and we shall avail of it at once. By a recent local law foreigners can hold real estate in this province now. And by a recent Act of Parliament our vessels can obtain British registers. Between these two privileges, a man don't deserve to be called an American who can't carry on the fisheries in spite of all the cruisers, revenue officers, and prohibitary laws under the sun. It is a peaceable and quiet way of getting possession, and far better than fighting for them, while it comports more with the dignity of our great and enlightened nation."
"What do you think," I said, "of the Elgin treaty as a bargain?"
After some hesitation, he looked up and smiled.
"We can't complain," said he. "As usual we have got hold of the right eend of the rope, and got a vast deal more than we expected. The truth is, the English are so fond of trade, and so afraid of war, if we will only give them cotton, and flour at a fair price, and take their manufactures in return, we can bully them into anythin' almost. It is a positive fact, there were fifty deserters from the British army taken off of the wreck of the 'San Francisco,' and carried to England. John Bull pretended to wink at it, hired a steamer, and sent them all out again to us. Lord! how our folks roared when they heard it; and as for the President, he laughed like a hyena over a dead nigger. Law sakes alive man! Make a question between our nation and England about fifty desarters, and if the ministers of the day only dared to talk of fighting, the members of all the manufactoren towns in England, the cottonocracy of Great Britain, would desert too!
"It's nateral, as an American, I should be satisfied with the treaty; but I'll tell you what I am sorry for. I am grieved we asked, or your Governor-General granted, a right to us to land on these shores and make our fish. Lord Elgin ought to have known that every foot of the sea-coast of Nova Scotia has been granted, and is now private property.
"To concede a privilege to land, with a proviso to respect the rights of the owner, is nonsense. This comes of not sending a man to negociate who is chosen by the people, not for his rank, but for his ability and knowledge. The fact is, I take blame to myself about it, for I was pumped who would do best and be most acceptable to us Americans. I was afeared they would send a Billingsgate contractor, who is a plaguy sight more posted up about fisheries than any member of parliament, or a clever colonist (not a party man), and they know more than both the others put together; and I dreaded if they sent either, there would be a quid pro quo, as Josiah says, to be given, afore we got the fisheries, if we ever got them, at all. 'So,' sais I, out of a bit of fun, for I can't help taken a rise out of folks no how I can fix it, 'send us a lord. We are mighty fond of noblemen to Washington, and toady them first-rate. It will please such a man as Pierce to show him so much respect as to send a peer to him. He will get whatever he asks.'
"Well, they fell into the trap beautiful. They sent us one, and we rowed him up to the very head waters of Salt River in no time.1 But I am sorry we asked the privilege to land and cure fish. I didn't think any created critter would have granted that. Yes, I foresee trouble arising out of this. Suppose 'Cayenne Pepper,' as we call the captain that commanded the 'Cayenne' at Grey Town, was to come to a port in Nova Scotia, and pepper it for insultin' our flag by apprehenden trespassers (though how a constable is to arrest a crew of twenty men unless, Irishman like, he surrounds them, is a mystery to me). What would be done in that case? Neither you nor I can tell, Squire. But depend upon it, there is a tempestical time comin', and it is as well to be on the safe side of the fence when there is a chance of kicking going on.
1 To row up Salt River is a common phrase, used generally to denote political defeat. The distance to which a party is rowed up Salt River depends entirely upon the magnitude of the majority against him. If the defeat is overwhelming, the unsuccessful party is said "to be rowed up to the very head waters of Salt River." The phrase has its origin in the fact that there is a small stream of that name in Kentucky, the passage of which is made difficult and laborious, as well by its tortuous course as by numerous shallows and bars. The real application of the phrase is to the unhappy wight who propels the boat, but politically, in slang usage, it means the man rowed up, the passenger—I. INMAN.
"The bombardment of Grey Town was the greatest and bravest exploit of modern times. We silenced their guns at the first broadside, and shut them up so sudden that envious folks like the British now swear they had none, while we lost only one man in the engagement, but he was drunk and fell overboard. What is the cannonade of Sebastopool to that? Why it sinks into insignificance."
He had hardly ceased speaking, when the wheels of a carriage were heard rapidly approaching the door. Taking out his watch, and observing the hour, he said: "Squire, it is now eleven o'clock. I must be a movin'. Good bye! I am off to Halifax. I am goin' to make a night flight of it. The wind is fair, and I must sail by daylight to-morrow morning. Farewell!"
He then shook hands most cordially with me, and said: "Squire, unless you feel inclined at some future day to make the tour of the States with me, or somethin' turns up I am not availed of, I am afraid you have seen the last Journal of your old friend 'Sam Slick.'"
CHAPTER II. CLIPPERS AND STEAMERS.
Whoever has taken the trouble to read the "Wise Saws" of Mr Slick, will be prepared to resume the thread of his narrative without explanation, if indeed these unconnected selections deserve the appellation. But as this work may fall into the hands of many people who never saw its predecessor, it may be necessary to premise that our old friend Sam, having received a commission from the President of the United States, to visit the coast of Nova Scotia, and report to him fully on the state of the fisheries, their extent and value, the manner in which they were prosecuted, and the best mode of obtaining a participation in them, he proceeded on his cruise in a trading vessel, called the "Black Hawk," whereof Timothy Cutler was master, and Mr Eldad Nickerson the pilot. The two preceding volumes contained his adventures at sea, and in the harbours of the province, to the westward of Halifax. The present work is devoted to his remarks on "nature and human nature."
While amusing himself fishing within three miles of the coast, off La Haive, in contravention of the treaty, he narrowly escaped capture by the British cruiser "Spitfire," commanded by Captain Stoker. By a skilful manoeuvre, he decoyed the man-of-war, in the eagerness of the chase, on to a sand-bar, when he dexterously slipt through a narrow passage between two islands, and keeping one of them in a line between the "Black Hawk" and her pursuer, so as to be out of the reach of her guns, he steered for the eastern shore of Nova Scotia, and was soon out of sight of the islands behind which his enemy lay embedded in the sand; from this point the narrative is resumed in Mr Slick's own words.1
1 His remarks on the fisheries I have wholly omitted, for they have now lost their interest. His observations on "nature and human nature" are alone retained, as they may be said to have a universal application.—ED.
"I guess," said I, "Captain, the 'Spitfire' will have to put into Halifax to report herself and be surveyed, so we may pursue our course in peace. But this 'Black Hawk' is a doll, ain't she? don't she skim over the water like a sea gull? The truth is, Cutler, when you ain't in a hurry, and want to enjoy yourself at sea, as I always do, for I am a grand sailor, give me a clipper. She is so light and buoyant, and the motion so elastic, it actilly exilerates your spirits. There is something like life in her gait, and you have her in hand like a horse, and you feel as if you were her master, and directed her movements. I ain't sure you don't seem as if you were part of her yourself. Then there is room to show skill and seamanship, and if you don't in reality go as quick as a steamer, you seem to go faster, if there is no visible object to measure your speed by, and that is something, for the white foam on the leeward side rushes by you in rips, raps, and rainbows like Canadian rapids.
"Then if she is an atrysilly1 like this, and she is doing her prettiest, and actilly laughs again, she is so pleased, why you are satisfied, for you don't make the breeze, you take it as you find it, like all other good gifts of Providence, and say, 'ain't she going like wink, how she forges ahead, don't she?' Your attention is kept alive, too, watchin' the wind, and trimmin' sail to it accordingly, and the jolly 'Oh, heave oh,' of the sailors is music one loves to listen to, and if you wish to take a stretch for it in your cloak on deck, on the sunny or shady side of the companion-way, the breeze whistles a nice soft lullaby for you, and you are off in the land of Nod in no time."
1 The Atricilla, or laughing sea-gull. Its note resembles a coarse laugh. Hence its name. It is very common in the Bahamas.
"Dreaming of Sophy Collingwood," sais the Captain, "and the witch of Eskisooney, eh?"
"Yes, dreamin' of bright eyes and smilin' faces, or anythin' else that's near and dear, for to my idea, the heart gives the subject for the head to think upon. In a fair wind and a charmin' day like this, I never coiled up on the deck for a nap in my life, that I had'nt pleasant dreams. You feel as if you were at peace with all the world in general, and yourself in partikeler, and that it is very polite of folks to stay to home ashore, and let you and your friends enjoy yourselves without treadin' on your toes, and wakin' of you up if asleep, or a jostlin' of you in your turn on the quarter-deck, or over-hearin' of your conversation.
"And ain't you always ready for your meals, and don't you walk into them in rael right down earnest? Oh, nothing ever tastes so good to me as it does at sea. The appetite, like a sharp knife, makes the meat seem tender, and the sea air is a great friend of digestion, and always keeps company with it. Then you don't care to sit and drink after dinner as you do at an hotel of an idle day, for you want to go on deck, light your cigar, take a sweep round the horizon with your glass to see if there is any sail in sight, glance at the sky to ascertain if the breeze is likely to hold, and then bring yourself to anchor on a seat, and have a dish of chat for a dessert with the captain, if he is a man of books like you, Cutler, or a man of reefs, rocks, and sandbars, fish, cordwood, and smugglin', or collisions, wracks, and salvage, like the pilot.
"Then, if you have a decent sample or two of passengers on board, you can discuss men and things, and women and nothings, law, physick, and divinity, or that endless, tangled ball of yarn, politicks, or you can swap anecdotes, and make your fortune in the trade. And by the same trail of thought we must give one or two of these Blue-Noses now and then a cast on board with us to draw them out. "Well, if you want to read, you can go and turn in and take a book, and solitudinise to it, and there is no one to disturb you. I actilly learned French in a voyage to Calcutta, and German on my way home. I got enough for common use. It warn't all pure gold; but it was kind of small change, and answered every purpose of trade or travel. Oh, it's no use a talkin'; where time ain't the main object, there's nothin' like a sailin' vessel to a man who ain't sea-sick, and such fellows ought to be cloriformed, put to bed, and left there till the voyage is over. They have no business to go to sea, if they are such fools as not to know how to enjoy themselves.
"Then sailors are characters; they are men of the world, there is great self-reliance in them. They have to fight their way in life through many trials and difficulties, and their trust is in God and their own strong arm. They are so much in their own element, they seem as if they were born on the sea, cradled on its billows, and, like Mother Carey's chickens, delighted in its storms and mountain waves. They walk, talk, and dress differently from landsmen. They straddle as they pace the deck, so as to brace the body and keep their trowsers up at the same time; their gait is loose, and their dress loose, and their limbs loose; indeed, they are rather too fond of slack. They climb like monkeys, and depend more on their paws than their legs. They tumble up, but never down. They count, not by fingers, it is tedious, but by hands; they put a part for the whole, and call themselves hands, for they are paid for the use of them, and not their heads.
"Though they are two-handed they are not close-fisted fellows. They despise science, but are fond of practical knowledge. When the sun is over the foreyard, they know the time of day as well as the captain, and call for their grog, and when they lay back their heads, and turn up the bottom of the mug to the sky, they call it in derision taking an observation. But though they have many characteristics in common, there is an individuality in each that distinguishes him from the rest. He stands out in bold relief—I by myself, I. He feels and appreciates his importance. He knows no plural. The word 'our' belongs to landsmen; 'my' is the sailor's phrase—my ship, my captain, my messmate, my watch on deck, 'my eyes!' 'you lubber, don't you know that's me?' I like to listen to their yarns and their jokes, and to hear them sing their simple ditties. The odd mixture of manliness and childishness—of boldness and superstitious fears; of preposterous claims for wages and thoughtless extravagance; of obedience and discontent—all goes to make the queer compound called 'Jack.' How often have I laughed over the fun of the forecastle in these small fore and aft packets of ourn! and I think I would back that place for wit against any bar-room in New York or New Orleans, and I believe they take the rag off of all creation.
"But the cook is my favourite. He is a scientific man, and so skilful in compounds, he generally goes by the name of doctor. I like the daily consultation with him about dinner: not that I am an epicure; but at sea, as the business of life is eating, it is as well to be master of one's calling. Indeed, it appears to be a law of nature, that those who have mouths should understand what to put in them. It gratifies the doctor to confer with him, and who does it not please to be considered a man of importance? He is therefore a member of the Privy Council, and a more useful member he is too than many Right Honourables I know of—who have more acres than ideas. The Board assembles after breakfast, and a new dish is a great item in the budget. It keeps people in good humour the rest of the day, and affords topics for the table. To eat to support existence is only fit for criminals. Bread and water will do that; but to support and gratify nature at the same time is a noble effort of art, and well deserves the thanks of mankind. The cook too enlivens the consultation by telling marvellous stories about strange dishes he has seen. He has eaten serpents with the Siamese, monkeys in the West Indies, crocodiles and sloths in South America, and cats, rats, and dogs with the Chinese; and of course, as nobody can contradict him, says they are delicious. Like a salmon, you must give him the line, even if it wearies you, before you bag him; but when you do bring him to land his dishes are savoury. They have a relish that is peculiar to the sea, for where there is no garden, vegetables are always most prized. The glorious onion is duly valued, for as there is no mistress to be kissed, who will dare to object to its aroma?
"Then I like a Sunday at sea in a vessel like this, and a day like this, when the men are all clean and tidy, and the bell rings for prayers, and all hands are assembled aft to listen to the captain as he reads the Church Service. It seems like a family scene. It reminds me of dear old Minister and days gone by, when he used to call us round him, and repeated to us the promise 'that when two or three were gathered together in God's name, he would grant their request.' The only difference is, sailors are more attentive and devout than landsmen. They seem more conscious that they are in the Divine presence. They have little to look upon but the heavens above and the boundless ocean around them. Both seem made on purpose for them—the sun to guide them by day, and the stars by night, the sea to bear them on its bosom, and the breeze to waft them on their course. They feel how powerless they are of themselves; how frail their bark; how dependent they are on the goodness and mercy of their Creator, and that it is He alone who can rule the tempest and control the stormy deep. Their impressions are few, but they are strong. It is the world that hardens the heart, and the ocean seems apart from it.
"They are noble fellows, sailors, and I love them; but, Cutler, how are they used, especially where they ought to be treated best, on board of men-of-war? The moment a ship arrives in port, the anchor cast and the sails furled—what dees the captain do? the popular captain too, the idol of the men; he who is so kind and so fond of them? Why, he calls them aft, and says, 'Here, my lads, here is lots of cash for you, now be off ashore and enjoy yourselves.' And they give three cheers for their noble commander—their good-hearted officer—the sailor's friend—the jolly old blue jacket,—and they bundle into the boats, and on to the beach, like school-boys. And where do they go? Well, we won't follow them, for I never was in them places where they do go, and so I can't describe them, and one thing I must say, I never yet found any place answer the picture drawn of it. But if half only of the accounts are true that I have heerd of them, they must be the devil's own seminaries of vice—that's a fact. Every mite and morsel as bad as the barrack scenes that we read of lately.
"Well, at the end of a week back come the sailors. They have had a glorious lark and enjoyed themselves beyond anything in the world, for they are pale, sick, sleepy, tired out, cleaned out, and kicked out, with black eyes, broken heads, swelled cheeks, minus a few teeth, half their clothes, and all their money.
"'What,' says the captain, 'what's the matter with you, Tom Marlin, that you limp so like a lame duck?'
"'Nothing, your honour,' says Tom, twitching his forelock, and making a scrape with his hind leg, 'nothing, your honour, but a scratch from a bagganet.'
"'What! a fight with the soldiers, eh? The cowardly rascals to use their side arms!'
"'We cleared the house of them, Sir, in no time.'
"'That's right. Now go below, my lads, and turn in and get a good sleep. I like to see my lambs enjoy themselves. It does my heart good.'
"And yet, Cutler, that man is said to be a father to his crew."
"Slick," said Cutler, "what a pity it is you wouldn't always talk that way!" Now if there is any created thing that makes me mad, it is to have a feller look admiren at me, when I utter a piece of plain common sense like that, and turn up the whites of his eyes like a duck in thunder, as much as to say, what a pity it is you weren't broughten up a preacher. It ryles me considerable, I tell you.
"Cutler," said I, "did you ever see a colt in a pasture, how he would race and chase round the field, head, ears, and tail up, and stop short, snort as if he had seen the ghost of a bridle, and off again hot foot?"
"Yes," said he, "I have, but you are not a colt, nor a boy either."
"Well, did you ever see a horse when unharnessed from a little, light waggon, and turned out to grass, do nearly the same identical thing, and kick up his heels like mad, as much as to say, I am a free nigger now?"
"Well, I have," said he.
"Stop," said I, a touchin' of him on his arm; "what in the world is that?" and I pointed over the taffrail to the weather-bow.
"Porpoises," said he.
"What are they a doin' of?"
"Sportin' of themselves."
"Exactly," sais I, "and do you place man below the beasts of the field and the fishes of the sea? What in natur' was humour given to us for but for our divarsion? What sort of a world would this be if every fellow spoke sermons and talked homilies, and what in that case would parsons do? I leave you to cypher that out, and then prove it by algebra; but I'll tell you what they wouldn't do, I'll be hanged if they'd strike for higher wages, for fear they should not get any at all."
"I knock under," said he; "you may take my hat; now go on and finish the comparison between Clippers and Steamers."
"Well," sais I, "as I was a sayin', Captain, give me a craft like this, that spreads its wings like a bird, and looks as if it was born, not made, a whole-sail breeze, and a seaman every inch of him like you on the deck, who looks you in the face, in a way as if he'd like to say, only bragging ain't genteel, Ain't she a clipper now, and ain't I the man to handle her? Now this ain't the case in a steamer. They ain't vessels, they are more like floating factories; you see the steam machines and the enormous fires, and the clouds of smoke, but you don't visit the rooms where the looms are, that's all. They plough through the sea dead and heavy, like a subsoiler with its eight-horse team; there is no life in 'em; they can't dance on the waters as if they rejoiced in their course, but divide the waves as a rock does in a river; they seem to move more in defiance of the sea than as if they were in an element of their own.
"They puff and blow like boasters braggin' that they extract from the ocean the means to make it help to subdue itself. It is a war in the elements, fire and water contendin' for victory. They are black, dingy, forbiddin' looking sea monsters. It is no wonder the superstitious Spaniard, when he first saw one, said: 'A vessel that goes against the tide, and against the wind, and without sails, goes against God,' or that the simple negro thought it was a sea-devil. They are very well for carrying freight, because they are beasts of burden, but not for carrying travellers, unless they are mere birds of passage like our Yankee tourists, who want to have it to say I was 'thar.' I hate them. The decks are dirty; your skin and clothes are dirty; and your lungs become foul; smoke pervades everythin', and now and then the condensation gives you a shower of sooty water by way of variety, that scalds your face and dyes your coat into a sort of pepper-and-salt colour.
"You miss the sailors, too. There are none on board—you miss the nice light, tight-built, lathy, wiry, active, neat, jolly crew. In their place you have nasty, dirty, horrid stokers; some hoisting hot cinders and throwing them overboard (not with the merry countenances of niggers, or the cheerful sway-away-my-boys expression of the Jack Tar, but with sour, cameronean-lookin' faces, that seem as if they were dreadfully disappointed they were not persecuted any longer—had no churches and altars to desecrate, and no bishops to anoint with the oil of hill-side maledictions as of old), while others are emerging from the fiery furnaces beneath for fresh air, and wipe a hot dirty face with a still dirtier shirt sleeve, and in return for the nauseous exudation, lay on a fresh coat of blacking; tall, gaunt wretches, who pant for breath as they snuff the fresh breeze, like porpouses, and then dive again into the lower regions. They are neither seamen nor landsmen, good whips nor decent shots, their hair is not woolly enough for niggers, and their faces are too black for white men. They ain't amphibious animals, like marines and otters. They are Salamanders. But that's a long word, and now they call them stokers for shortness.
"Then steamers carry a mob, and I detest mobs, especially such ones as they delight in—greasy Jews, hairy Germans, Mulatto-looking Italians, squalling children, that run between your legs and throw you down, or wipe the butter off their bread on your clothes; Englishmen that will grumble, and Irishmen that will fight; priests that won't talk, and preachers that will harangue; women that will be carried about, because they won't lie still and be quiet; silk men, cotten men, bonnet men, iron men, trinket men, and every sort of shopmen, who severally know nothing in the world but silk, cotten, bonnets, iron, trinkets, and so on, and can't talk of anythin' else; fellows who walk up and down the deck, four or five abreast when there are four or five of the same craft on board, and prevent any one else from promenadin' by sweepin' the whole space, while every lurch the ship gives, one of them tumbles atop of you, or treads on your toes, and then, instead of apoligisin', turns round and abuses you like a pick-pocket for stickin' your feet out and trippin' people up. Thinkin' is out of the question, and as for readin', you might as well read your fortune in the stars.
"Just as you begin, that lovely-lookin', rosy-cheeked, wicked-eyed gall, that came on board so full of health and spirits, but now looks like a faded striped ribbon, white, yeller, pink, and brown—dappled all over her face, but her nose, which has a red spot on it—lifts up a pair of lack-lustre peepers that look glazed like the round dull ground-glass lights let into the deck, suddenly wakes up squeamish, and says, 'Please, Sir, help me down; I feel so ill.' Well, you take her up in your arms, and for the first time in your life hold her head from you, for fear she will reward you in a way that ain't no matter, and she feels as soft as dough, and it seems as if your fingers left dents in her putty-like arms, and you carry her to the head of the stairs, and call out for the stewardess, and a waiter answers, 'Stewardess is tight, Sir.'
"'I am glad of it, she is just the person I want. I wish all the other passengers were tight also.'
"'Lord, Sir, that ain't it—she is mops and brooms.'
"'Mops and brooms, I suppose she is, she must have plenty use for them, I reckon, to keep all snug and tidy down there.'
"'Good gracious, Sir, don't you understand, she is half seas over.'
"'True, so we all are, the captain said so to-day at twelve o'clock, I wish we were over altogether. Send her up.'
"'No, no, Sir, she is more than half shaved.'
"'The devil! does she shave? I don't believe she is a woman at all. I see how it is, you have been putting one of the sailors into petticoats.' And the idea makes even the invalid gall laugh.
"'No, no, Sir, she is tipsy.'
"'Then why the plague couldn't you say so at once. I guess you kinder pride yourself in your slang. Help me to assist this lady down to her friends.'
"Well, when you return on deck, lo and behold, your seat is occupied, and you must go and stand by the rail till one is vacant, when another gall that ain't ill, but inconveniently well, she is so full of chat, says, 'Look, look, Sir, dear me, what is that, Sir? a porpoise. Why you don't, did you ever! well, I never see a porpoise afore in all my born days! are they good to eat, Sir?'
"'Excellent food for whales, Miss.'
"'Well I never! do they swallow them right down?'
"'I guess they do, tank, shank, and flank, at one gulp.'
"'Why how in the world do they ever get—' but she don't finish the sentence, for the silk man, cotten man, iron man, or trinket man, which ever is nearest, says, 'There is a ship on the lee-bow.' He says that because it sounds sailor-like, but it happens to be the weather-bow, and you have seen her an hour before.
"'Can you make her out?' sais he; that's another sea tarm he has picked up; he will talk like a horse-marine at last.
"'Yes,' sais you, 'she is a Quang-Tonger.'
"'A Quang-Tonger?' sais the gall, and before the old coon has disgested that hard word, she asks, 'what in natur is that?'
"'Why, Miss, Quang-Tong is a province of China, and Canton is the capital; all the vessels at Canton are called Quang-Tongers, but strangers call them Chinese Junks. Now, Miss, you have seen two new things to-day, a bottle-nosed porpoise and—'
"'Was that a bottle-nosed porpoise, Sir? why you don't say so! why, how you talk, why do they call them bottle-noses?'
"'Because, Miss, they make what is called velvet corks out of their snouts. They are reckoned the best corks in the world. And then, you have seen a Chinese Junk?'
"'A Chinese Junk,' sais the astonished trinket man. 'Well I vow! a Chinese Junk, do tell!' and one gall calls Jeremiah Dodge, and the other her father and her sister, Mary Anne Matilda Jane, to come and see the Chinese Junk, and all the passengers rush to the other side, and say, 'whare, whare,' and the two discoverers say, 'there, there;' and you walk across the deck and take one of the evacuated seats you have been longin' for; and as you pass you give a wink to the officer of the watch, who puts his tongue in his cheek as a token of approbation, and you begin to read again, as you fancy, in peace.
"But there is no peace in a steamer, it is nothin' but a large calaboose,1 chock full of prisoners. As soon as you have found your place in the book, and taken a fresh departure, the bonnet man sais, 'Please, Sir, a seat for a lady,' and you have to get up and give it to his wife's lady's-maid. His wife ain't a lady, but having a lady's-maid shows she intends to set up for one when she gets to home. To be a lady, she must lay in a lot of airs, and to brush her own hair and garter her own stockins is vulgar; if it was known in First Avenue, Spruce Street, in Bonnetville, it would ruin her as a woman of fashion for ever.
1 Calaboose is a Southern name for jail.
"Now bonnet man wouldn't ask you to get up and give your place to his wife's hired help, only he knows you are a Yankee, and we Yankees, I must say, are regularly fooled with women and preachers; just as much as that walking advertisement of a milliner is with her lady's-maid. All over America in rail carriages, stage coaches, river steamers, and public places, of all sorts, every critter that wears a white choker, and looks like a minister, has the best seat given him. He expects it, as a matter of course, and as every female is a lady, every woman has a right to ask you to quit, without notice, for her accommodation. Now it's all very well and very proper to be respectful to preachers; and to be polite and courteous to women, and more especially those that are unprotected; but there is a limit, tother side of which lies absurdity.
"Now if you had seen as much of the world as I have, and many other travelled Yankees, when bonnet man asked you to give up your seat to the maid, you would have pretended not to understand English, and not to know what he wanted, but would have answered him in French and offered him the book, and said certainly you would give it to him with pleasure, and when he said he didn't speak French, but what he desired was your place for the lady, you would have addressed her in German, and offered her the book, and when they looked at each other, and laughed at their blunder, in thus taking you for a Yankee, perhaps the man next to you would have offered his seat, and then when old bonnet man walked off to look at the Chinese Junk, you would have entered into conversation with the lady's-maid, and told her it was a rise you took out of the old fellow to get her along-side of you, and she would enjoy the joke, and you would have found her a thousand times more handsome and more conversational and agreeable than her mistress.
"But this wouldn't last long, for the sick gall would be carried up on deck agin, woman like, though ill, very restless, and chock full of curiosity to see the Chinese Junk also; so you are caught by your own bam, and have to move again once more. The bell comes in aid, and summons you to dinner. Ah, the scene in the Tower of Babel is rehearsed; what a confusion of tongues! what a clatter of knives and forks and dishes! the waiter that goes and won't come back; and he who sees, pities but can't help you; and he who is so near sighted, he can't hear; and he who is intercepted, and made prisoner on his way.
"What a profusion of viands—but how little to eat! this is cold; that under-done; this is tough; that you never eat; while all smell oily; oh, the only dish you did fancy, you can't touch, for that horrid German has put his hand into it. But it is all told in one short sentence; two hundred and fifty passengers supply two hundred and fifty reasons themselves, why I should prefer a sailing vessel with a small party to a crowded steamer. If you want to see them in perfection go where I have been it on board the California boats, and Mississippi river crafts. The French, Austrian, and Italian boats are as bad. The two great Ocean lines, American and English, are as good as anything bad can be, but the others are all abominable. They are small worlds over-crowded, and while these small worlds exist, the evil will remain; for alas, their passengers go backward and forward, they don't emigrate—they migrate; they go for the winter and return for the spring, or go in the spring and return in the fall.
"Come, Commodore, there is old Sorrow ringing his merry bell for us to go to dinner. I have an idea we shall have ample room; a good appetite, and time enough to eat and enjoy it: come, Sir, let us, like true Americans, never refuse to go where duty calls us."
After dinner, Cutler reverted to the conversation we had had before we went below, though I don't know that I should call it conversation, either; for I believe I did, as usual, most of the talking myself.
"I agree with you," said he, "in your comparative estimate of a sailing vessel and a steamer, I like the former the best myself. It is more agreeable for the reasons you have stated to a passenger, but it is still more agreeable to the officer in command of her on another account. In a sailing vessel, all your work is on deck, everything is before you, and everybody under your command. One glance of a seaman's eye is sufficient to detect if anything is amiss, and no one man is indispensable to you. In a steamer the work is all below, the machinery is out of your sight, complicated, and one part dependent on another. If it gets out of order you are brought up with a round turn, all standing, and often in a critical situation too. You can't repair damage easily; sometimes, can't repair at all.
"Whereas carrying away a sail, a spar, a topmast, or anything of that kind, impedes but don't stop you, and if it is anything very serious there are a thousand ways of making a temporary rig that will answer till you make a port. But what I like best is, when my ship is in the daldrums, I am equal to the emergency; there is no engineer to bother you by saying this can't be done, or that won't do, and to stand jawing and arguing instead of obeying and doing. Clippers of the right lines, size, and build, well found, manned, and commanded, will make nearly as good work, in ordinary times, as steamers. Perhaps it is prejudice though, for I believe we sailors are proverbial for that. But, Slick, recollect it ain't all fair weather sailing like this at sea. There are times when death stares you wildly in the face."
"Exactly," sais I, "as if he would like to know you the next time he came for you, so as not to apprehend the wrong one. He often leaves the rascal and seizes the honest man; my opinion is, he don't see very well."
"What a droll fellow you are," said he; "it appears to me as if you couldn't be serious for five minutes at a time. I can tell you, if you were on a rocky lee-shore, with the wind and waves urging you on, and you barely holding your own, perhaps losing ground every tack, you wouldn't talk quite so glibly of death. Was you ever in a real heavy gale of wind?"
"Warn't I," said I; "the fust time I returned from England it blew great guns all the voyage, one gale after another, and the last always wuss than the one before. It carried away our sails as fast as we bent them."
"That's nothing unusual," said Cutler; "there are worse things than that at sea."
"Well, I'll tell you," sais I, "what it did; and if that ain't an uncommon thing, then my name ain't Sam Slick. It blew all the hair off my dog, except a little tuft atween his ears. It did, upon my soul. I hope I may never leave—"
"Don't swear to it, Slick," said he, "that's a good fellow. It's impossible."
"Attestin' to it will make your hair stand on eend too, I suppose," said I; "but it's as true as preachin' for all that. What will you bet it didn't happen?"
"Tut, man, nonsense," said he, "I tell you the thing is impossible."
"Ah!" said I, "that's because you have been lucky, and never saw a riprorious hurricane in all your life. I'll tell you how it was. I bought a blood-hound from a man in Regent's Park, just afore I sailed, and the brute got sea-sick, and then took the mange, and between that and death starin' him in the face, his hair all came off, and in course it blew away. Is that impossible?"
"Well, well," said he, "you have the most comical way with you of any man I ever see. I am sure it ain't in your nature to speak of death in that careless manner, you only talked that way to draw me out. I know you did. It's not a subject however to treat lightly, and if you are not inclined to be serious just now, tell us a story."
"Serious," sais I, "I am disposed to be; but not sanctimonious, and you know that. But here goes for a story, which has a nice little moral in it too.
"'Once on a time, when pigs were swine, and turkeys chewed tobacco, and little birds built their nests in old men's beards.'
"Pooh!" said he, turning off huffy like, as if I was a goin' to bluff him off. "I wonder whether supper is ready?"
"Cutler," sais I, "come back, that's a good fellow, and I'll tell you the story. It's a short one, and will just fill up the space between this and tea-time. It is in illustration of what you was a sayin', that it ain't always fair weather sailing in this world. There was a jack-tar once to England who had been absent on a whaling voyage for nearly three years, and he had hardly landed when he was ordered off to sea again, before he had time to go home and see his friends. He was a lamentin' this to a shipmate of his, a serious-minded man, like you.
"Sais he, 'Bill, it breaketh my heart to have to leave agin arter this fashion. I havn't seen Polly now goin' on three years, nor the little un either.' And he actilly piped his eye.
"'It seemeth hard, Tom,' said Bill, tryin' to comfort him; 'it seemeth hard; but I'm an older man nor you be, Tom, the matter of several years;' and he gave his trowsers a twitch (you know they don't wear galluses, though a gallus holds them up sometimes), shifted his quid, gave his nor'wester a pull over his forehead, and looked solemncholly, 'and my experience, Tom, is, that this life ain't all beer and skittles.'
"Cutler, there is a great deal of philosophy in that maxim: a preacher couldn't say as much in a sermon an hour long, as there is in that little story with that little moral reflection at the eend of it.
"'This life ain't all leer and skittles.' Many a time since I heard that anecdote—and I heard it in Kew Gardens, of all places in the world—when I am disappointed sadly, I say that saw over, and console myself with it. I can't expect to go thro' the world, Cutler, as I have done: stormy days, long and dark nights, are before me. As I grow old I shan't be so full of animal spirits as I have been. In the natur of things I must have my share of aches, and pains, and disappointment, as well as others; and when they come, nothing will better help me to bear them than that little simple reflection of the sailor, which appeals so directly to the heart. Sam, this life ain't all beer and skittles, that's a fact."
CHAPTER III. A WOMAN'S HEART.
As we approached the eastern coast, "Eldad," sais I, to the pilot, "is there any harbour about here where our folks can do a little bit of trade, and where I can see something of 'Fishermen at home?'"
"We must be careful now how we proceed, for if the 'Spitfire' floats at the flood, Captain Stoker will try perhaps to overhaul us."
"Don't we want to wood and water, and ain't there some repairs wanting," sais I, and I gave him a wink. "If so we can put into port; but I don't think we will attempt to fish again within the treaty limits, for it's dangerous work."
"Yes," sais he, touching his nose with the point of his finger, "all these things are needed, and when they are going on, the mate and I can attend to the business of the owners." He then looked cautiously round to see that the captain was not within hearing.
"Warn't it the 'Black Hawk' that was chased?" said he. "I think that was our name then."
"Why, to be sure it was," said I.
"Well," sais he, "this is the 'Sary Ann' of New Bedford now," and proceeding aft he turned a screw, and I could hear a board shift in the stern. "Do you mind that?" said he: "well, you can't see it where you stand just now at present; but the 'Sary Ann' shows her name there now, and we have a set of papers to correspond. I guess the Britisher can't seize her, because the 'Black Hawk' broke the treaty; can he?" And he gave a knowing jupe of his head, as much as to say, ain't that grand?
"Now our new captain is a strait-laced sort of man, you see; but the cantin' fellow of a master you had on board before, warn't above a dodge of this kind. If it comes to the scratch, you must take the command again, for Cutler won't have art nor part in this game; and we may be reformed out afore we know where we are."
"Well," sais I, "there is no occasion, I guess; put us somewhere a little out of sight, and we won't break the treaty no more. I reckon the 'Spitfire,' after all, would just as soon be in port as looking after us. It's small potatoes for a man-of-war to be hunting poor game, like us little fore and afters."
"As you like," he said, "but we are prepared, you see, for the mate and men understand the whole thing. It ain't the first time they have escaped by changing their sign-board."
"Exactly," said I, "a ship ain't like a dog that can only answer to one name; and 'Sary Ann' is as good as the 'Black Hawk,' every mite and morsel. There is a good deal of fun in altering sign-boards. I recollect wunst, when I was a boy, there was a firm to Slickville who had this sign over their shop:
'Gallop and More,
"Well, one Saturday-night brother Josiah and I got a paintbrush, and altered it in this way:
'Gallop and 8 More
Make a man.'
"Lord, what a commotion it made. Next day was Sunday; and as the folks were going to church, they stood and laughed and roared like anything. It made a terrible hulla-bulloo.
"'Sam,' said Minister to me, 'what in natur is all that ondecent noise about so near the church-door.'
"I told him. It was most too much for him, but he bit in his breath, and tried to look grave; but I see a twinkle in his eye, and the corner of his mouth twitch, the way your eyelid does sometimes when a nerve gets a dancing involuntarily.
"'A very foolish joke, Sam,' he said; 'it may get you into trouble.'
"'Why, Minister,' said I, 'I hope you don't think that—'
"'No,' said he, 'I don't think at all, I know it was you, for it's just like you. But it's a foolish joke, for, Sam:
"'Honour and worth from no condition rise—'
"'Exactly,' sais I.
"'Stitch well your part, there all the honour lies.'
"'Sam, Sam,' said he, 'you are a bad boy,' and he put on a serious face, and went in and got his gown ready for service.
"The 'Sary Ann' for the 'Black Hawk,'" sais I to myself, "well that ain't bad either; but there are more chests of tea and kegs of brandy, and such like, taken right by the custom-house door at Halifax in loads of hay and straw, than comes by water, just because it is the onlikeliest way in the world any man would do it. But it is only some of the Bay of Fundy boys that are up to that dodge. Smugglers in general haven't the courage to do that. Dear me!" sais I to myself, "when was there ever a law that couldn't be evaded; a tax that couldn't be shuffled off like an old slipper; a prohibition that a smuggler couldn't row right straight through, or a treaty that hadn't more holes in it than a dozen supplemental ones could patch up? It's a high fence that can't be scaled, and a strong one that can't be broke down. When there are accomplices in the house, it is easier to get the door unlocked than to force it. Receivers make smugglers. Where there are not informers, penalties are dead letters. The people here like to see us, for it is their interest, and we are safe as long as they are friendly. I don't want to smuggle, for I scorn such a pettifogin' business, as Josiah would call it; but I must and will see how the thing works, so as to report it to the President."
"Well, Eldad," sais I, "I leave all this to you. I want to avoid a scrape if I can, so put us in a place of safety, and be careful how you proceed."
"I understand," said he. "Now, Mr Slick, look yonder," pointing towards the shore. "What is that?"
"A large ship under full sail," said I, "but it is curious she has got the wind off shore, and just dead on end to us."
"Are you sure," said he, "it is a ship, for if we get foul of her, we shall be sunk in a moment, and every soul on board perish."
"Is it a cruiser?" sais I; "because if it is, steer boldly for her, and I will go on board of her and show my commission as an officer of our everlastin' nation. Captain," said I, "what is that stranger?"
He paused for a moment, shaded his eyes with his hand, and examined her. "A large square-rigged vessel," he said, "under a heavy press of canvas," and resumed his walk on the deck.
After a while the pilot said: "Look again, Mr Slick, can you make her out now?"
"Why," sais I, "she is only a brigantine; but ask the skipper."
He took his glass and scrutinized her closely, and as he replaced it in the binnacle said: "We are going to have southerly weather I think; she loomed very large when I first saw her, and I took her for a ship; but now she seems to be an hermaphrodite. It's of no consequence to us however what she is, and we shall soon near her."
"Beyond that vessel," said the pilot, "there is a splendid harbour, and as there has been a head wind for some time, I have no doubt there are many coasters in there, from the masters of whom you can obtain much useful information on the object of your visit, while we can drive a profitable trade among them and the folks ashore. How beautifully these harbours are situated," he continued, "for carrying on the fisheries, and Nova Scotian though I be, I must say, I do think in any other part of the world there would be large towns here."
"I think so too, Eldad," sais I, "but British legislation is at the bottom of all your misfortunes, after all, and though you are as lazy as sloths, and as idle as that fellow old Blowhard saw, who lay down on the grass all day to watch the vessels passing, and observe the motion of the crows, the English, by breaking up your monopoly of inter-colonial and West India trade and throwing it open to us, not only without an equivalent, but in the face of our prohibitory duties, are the cause of all your poverty and stagnation. They are rich and able to act like fools if they like in their own affairs, but it was a cruel thing to sacrifice you, as they have done, and deprive you of the only natural carrying trade and markets you had. The more I think of it the less I blame you. It is a wicked mockery to lock men up, and then taunt them with want of enterprise, and tell them they are idle."
"Look at that vessel again, Sir," said Eldad; "she don't make much headway, does she?"
"Well, I took the glass again and examined her minutely, and I never was so stumpt in my life.
"Pilot," said I, "is that the same vessel?"
"The identical," said he.
"I vow to man," sais I, "as I am a livin' sinner, that is neither a ship, nor a brigantine, nor a hermaphrodite, but a topsail schooner, that's a fact. What in natur' is the meanin' of all this? Perhaps the captain knows," so I called him again.
"Cutler, that vessel is transmografied again," sais I; "look at her."
"Pooh," said he, "that's not the same vessel at all. The two first we saw are behind that island. That one is nothing but a coaster. You can't take me in, Slick. You are always full of your fun, and taking a rise out of some one or another, and I shall be glad when we land, you will then have some one else to practise on."
In a short time the schooner vanished, and its place was supplied by a remarkable white cliff, which from the extraordinary optical delusion it occasions gives its name to the noble port which is now called Ship Harbour. I have since mentioned this subject to a number of mariners, and have never yet heard of a person who was not deceived in a similar manner. As we passed through the narrows, we entered a spacious and magnificent basin, so completely land-locked that a fleet of vessels of the largest size may lay there unmoved by any wind. There is no haven in America to be compared with it.
"You are now safe," said the pilot; "it is only twelve leagues from Halifax, and nobody would think of looking for you here. The fact is, the nearer you hide the safer you be."
"Exactly," sais I; "what you seek you can't find, but when you ain't looking for a thing, you are sure to stumble on it."
"If you ever want to run goods, Sir," said he, "the closer you go to the port the better. Smugglers ain't all up to this, so they seldom approach the lion's den, but go farther and fare worse. Now we may learn lessons from dumb animals. They know we reason on probabilities, and therefore always do what is improbable. "We think them to be fools, but they know that we are. The fox sees we always look for him about his hole, and therefore he carries on his trade as far from it, and as near the poultry yard, as possible. If a dog kills sheep, and them Newfoundlanders are most uncommon fond of mutton, I must say, he never attacks his neighbour's flock, for he knows he would be suspected and had up for it, but sets off at night, and makes a foray like the old Scotch on the distant borders.
"He washes himself, for marks of blood is a bad sign, and returns afore day, and wags his tail, and runs round his master, and looks up into his face as innocent as you please, as much as to say, 'Squire, here I have been watchin' of your property all this live-long night, it's dreadful lonely work, I do assure you, and oh, how glad I am to see the shine of your face this morning.'
"And the old boss pats his head, fairly took in, and says, 'That's a good dog, what a faithful honest fellow you be, you are worth your weight in gold.'
"Well, the next time he goes off on a spree in the same quarter, what does he see but a border dog strung up by the neck, who has been seized and condemned as many an innocent fellow has been before him on circumstantial evidence, and he laughs and says to himself, 'What fools humans be, they don't know half as much as we dogs do.' So he thinks it would be as well to shift his ground, where folks ain't on the watch for sheep-stealers, and he makes a dash into a flock still farther off.
"Them Newfoundlanders would puzzle the London detective police, I believe they are the most knowin' coons in all creation, don't you?"
"Well, they are," sais I, "that's a fact, and they have all the same passions and feelings we have, only they are more grateful than man is, and you can by kindness lay one of them under an obligation he will never forget as long as he lives, whereas an obligation scares a man, for he snorts and stares at you like a horse at an engine, and is e'en most sure to up heels and let you have it, like mad. The only thing about dogs is, they can't bear rivals, they like to have all attention paid to themselves exclusively. I will tell you a story I had from a British colonel.
"He was stationed in Nova Scotia, with his regiment, when I was a venden of clocks there. I met him to Windsor, at the Wilcox Inn. He was mightily taken with my old horse Clay, and offered me a most an everlastin' long price for him; he said if I would sell him, he wouldn't stand for money, for he never see such an animal in all his born days, and so on. But old Clay was above all price, his ditto was never made yet, and I don't think ever will be. I had no notion to sell him, and I told him so, but seein' he was dreadful disappointed, for a rich Englishman actually thinks money will do anything and get anything, I told him if ever I parted with him he should have him on condition he would keep him as long as he lived, and so on.
"Well, it pacified him a bit, and to turn the conversation, sais I, 'Colonel,' sais I, 'what a most an almighty everlastin' super superior Newfoundler that is,' a pointin' to his dog; 'creation,' sais I, 'if I had a regiment of such fellows, I believe I wouldn't be afraid of the devil. My,' sais I, 'what a dog! would you part with him? I'de give anything for him.'
"I said that a purpose to show him I had as good a right to keep my horse as he had his long-haired gentleman.
"'No,' sais he, with a sort of half smile at my ignorance in pokin' such a question at him (for a Britisher abroad thinks he has privileges no one else has), 'no, I don't want to part with him. I want to take him to England with me. See, he has all the marks of the true breed: look at his beautiful broad forehead, what an intellectual one it is, ain't it? then see his delicate mouse-like ears, just large enough to cover the orifice, and that's all.'
"'Orifice,' said I, for I hate fine words for common use, they are like go-to-meeting' clothes on week days, onconvenient, and look too all fired jam up. Sais I, 'what's that when it's fried. I don't know that word?'
"'Why, ear-hole,' said he.
"'Oh,' sais I, simple like, 'I take now.'
"He smiled and went on. 'Look at the black roof of his mouth,' said he, 'and do you see the dew claw, that is a great mark? Then feel that tail, that is his rudder to steer by when swimming. It's different from the tail of other dogs, the strength of that joint is surprising. But his chest, Sir, his chest, see how that is formed on purpose for diving. It is shaped internally like a seal's. And then, observe the spread of that webbed foot, and the power of them paddles. There are two kinds of them, the short and the long haired, but I think those shaggy ones are the handsomest. They are very difficult to be got now of the pure breed. I sent to the Bay of Bulls for this one. To have them in health you must make them stay out of doors in all weather, and keep them cool, and above all not feed them too high. Salt fish seems the best food for them, they are so fond of it. Singular that, ain't it? but a dog is natural, Sir, and a man ain't.
"'Now, you never saw a codfish at the table of a Newfoundland merchant in your life. He thinks it smells too much of the shop. In fact, in my opinion the dog is the only gentleman there. The only one, now that the Indian is extinct, who has breeding and blood in that land of oil, blubber, and icebergs.'
"Lord, I wish one of them had been there to have heard him, wouldn't he a harpooned him? that's all. He made a considerable of a long yarn of it, and as it was a text he had often enlarged on, I thought he never would have ended, but like other preachers, when he got heated, spit on the slate, rub it all out, and cypher it over again. Thinks I to myself, I'll play you a bit, my boy.
"'Exactly,' sais I, 'there is the same difference in dogs and horses as there is in men. Some are noble by nature, and some vulgar; each is known by his breed.'
"'True,' said he, 'very true,' and he stood up a little straighter as if it did him good to hear a republican say that, for his father was an Earl. 'A very just remark,' said he, and he eyed me all over, as if he was rather surprised at my penetration.
"'But the worst of it,' sais I, 'is that a high bred dog or horse and a high bred man are only good for one thing. A pointer will point—a blood horse run—a setter will set—a bull dog fight—and a Newfoundlander will swim; but what else are they good for? Now a duke is a duke, and the devil a thing else. All you expect of him is to act and look like one (and I could point out some that don't even do that). If he writes a book, and I believe a Scotch one, by the help of his tutor, did once, or makes a speech, you say, Come now, that is very well for a duke, and so on. Well, a marquis ain't quite so high bred, and he is a little better, and so on, downwards; when you get to an earl, why, he may be good for more things than one. I ain't quite sure a cross ain't desirable, and in that way that you couldn't improve the intelligence of both horses, noblemen, and dogs—don't you think so, Sir?' sais I.
"'It is natural for you,' said he, not liking the smack of democracy that I threw in for fun, and looking uneasy. 'So,' sais he (by way of turning the conversation), 'the sagacity of dogs is very wonderful. I will tell you an anecdote of this one that has surprised everybody to whom I have related it.
"'Last summer my duties led me to George's Island. I take it for granted you know it. It is a small island situated in the centre of the harbour of Halifax, has a powerful battery on it, and barracks for the accommodation of troops. There was a company of my regiment stationed there at the time. I took this dog and a small terrier, called Tilt, in the boat with me. The latter was a very active little fellow that the General had given me a few weeks before. He was such an amusing creature, that he soon became a universal favourite, and was suffered to come into the house (a privilege which was never granted to this gentleman, who paid no regard to the appearance of his coat, which was often wet and dirty), and who was therefore excluded.
"'The consequence was, Thunder was jealous, and would not associate with him, and if ever he took any liberty, he turned on him and punished him severely. This however he never presumed to do in my presence, as he knew I would not suffer it, and therefore, when they both accompanied me in my walks, the big dog contented himself with treating the other with perfect indifference and contempt. Upon this occasion, Thunder lay down in the boat and composed himself to sleep, while the little fellow, who was full of life and animation, and appeared as if he did not know what it was to close his eyes, sat up, looked over the gunwale, and seemed to enjoy the thing uncommonly. He watched the motions of the men, as if he understood what was required of them, and was anxious they should acquit themselves properly.'
"'He knew,' said I, 'it was what sailors call the dog watch.'
"'Very good,' said he, but looking all the time as if he thought the interruption very bad.
"'After having made my inspection, I returned to the boat, for the purpose of recrossing to the town, when I missed the terrier. Thunder was close at my heels, and when I whistled for the other, wagged his tail and looked up in my face, as if he would say, Never mind that foolish dog, I am here, and that is enough, or is there anything you want me to do?
"'After calling in vain, I went back to the barracks, and inquired of the men for Tilt, but no one appeared to have seen him or noticed his motions.
"'After perambulating the little island in vain, I happened to ask the sentry if he knew where he was.
"'Yes, Sir,' said he, 'he is buried in the beach.'
"'Buried in the beach,' said I, with great anger, 'who dared to kill him? Tell me, Sir, immediately.'
"'That large dog did it, Sir. He enticed him down to the shore by playing with him, pretending to crouch and then run after him; and then retreating and coaxing him to chase him; and when he got him near the beach, he throttled him in an instant, and then scratched a hole in the shingle and buried him, covering him up with the gravel. After that he went into the water, and with his paws washed his head and face, shook himself, and went up to the barracks. You will find the terrier, just down there, Sir.'