The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville,
by Thomas Chandler Haliburton.
From the 1871 edition.
The name "Sam Slick" has passed into popular use as standing for a somewhat conventional Yankee, in whom sharpness and verdancy are combined in curious proportions; but the book which gave rise to the name has long been out of print. It is now revived, under the impression that the reading public will have an interest in seeing a work which, more probably than any other one book, served to fix the prevailing idea of the Yankee character. However true or false the impression it created, the qualities which rendered it popular a generation ago remain, in a shrewdness of observation, a fund of anecdote and racy adventure, a quaintness of expression, and keen mother wit. In no other work of literature is there preserved so large a collection of idiomatic phrases, words, and similes,—whole stories in themselves and pictures of society at the time, which grow more interesting, the more historic they become.
The keen peddler comes sharply forward from a background of Provincial shiftlessness and dullness, and it is a mark of the geniality of the book that, although it seems to have had its origin in a desire on the part of its author to goad the Provinces into energy and alertness, the local questions and politics discussed give a flavour to the narrative without limiting the reader's interest. One does not need to be deeply concerned in Nova Scotia prosperity, nor versed in the turnings of petty politics, to take a lively pleasure in the sharp thrusts which the author, under shield of the Clockmaker's wit, gives at stupidity and narrowness. The two sides of the question involved are as little a matter of concern to the general reader as the opposing factions of York and Lancaster.
No doubt the marked contrast between the neighbouring people of Nova Scotia and New England was quickly discerned by so good an observer as the author proved himself to be, while his national and partisan judgments made his characterization of the Yankee to be a double-edged sword, that cut with equal keenness the Colonist and the Democrat. While he has no liking for the United States politically, he is very glad to make their enterprise and industry put to shame the slow wits of his countrymen; and the quiet satire of United States institutions and character which he displays by letting Slick run to the end of his rope is curiously mingled with the contempt which he lets the same character express for Nova Scotians, and in which it is plain he himself joins.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1796, was educated at King's College, and admitted to the bar in 1820. He entered political life shortly after, and was elected member of the House of Assembly. In 1829 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and in 1840 was made Judge of the Supreme Court. He resigned in 1842, and went to England to reside, where, in 1859, he was elected member of Parliament for the Borough of Launceston, and at the dissolution of Parliament in 1865 he declined reelection on the score of infirm health. He died at Isleworth in July of the same year. His party politics were of the old Tory school, and he held rigidly by them, sharing the common experience of colonial partisans, who, on returning to the mother country, are very apt to set a higher value on their party principles than those who have always remained at home.
The first appearance of his "Clockmaker" was in the form of a series of letters to the "Nova Scotian" newspaper, in 1835. The contributions were collected into the present volume in 1837, and were eagerly read, both in America and in England, the wit of the book making it equally enjoyable on both sides of the water, while its pointed reflections raised a good deal of angry discussion also. Perhaps the most vehement attack which his writings received from the side of purely literary criticism was a review by C. C. Felton in the "North American Review," in which the critic spoke in tones of great disgust at the entire conception and execution of the character of Sam Slick. Quite possibly some of Professor Felton's severity drew its strength from a personal regard for Mr. Everett, who figures rather poorly in Judge Haliburton's pages. There was so little, however, of discriminating criticism at that time by American writers, that it is not easy to determine just how the book was measured by our countrymen. Probably it was hardly looked upon as literature by the scholar, and the ordinary reader did not mar his pleasure in the fun by looking at it too critically.
The vein was worked by the author with less success in "The Attache, or Sam Slick in England," where the violent improbability of the plan, involving an offensive contrast between the English and American characters, leaves the really clever parts of the book less attractive. In addition to these Judge Haliburton published several volumes bearing upon colonial manners and history: "Bubbles of Canada;" "The Old Judge, or Life in a Colony;" "Historical and Statistical account of Nova Scotia;" "Rule and Misrule of the English in America;" "Letters to Lord Durham." His more strictly humourous writings include "Nature and Human Nature;" "Wise Saws;" "The Letter Bag of the Great Western."
Slick's Letter I. The Trotting Horse II. The Clockmaker III. The Silent Girls IV. Conversations at the River Philip V. Justice Pettifog VI. Anecdotes VII. Go Ahead VIII. The Preacher that Wandered from His Text XI. Yankee Eating and Horse Feeding X. The Road to a Woman's Heart—The Broken Heart XI. Cumberland Oysters Produce Melancholy Forebodings XII. The American Eagle XIII. The Clockmaker's Opinion of Halifax XIV. Sayings and Doings in Cumberland XV. The Dancing Master Abroad XVI. Mr. Slick's Opinion of the British XVII. A Yankee Handle for a Halifax Blade XVIII. The Grahamite and the Irish Pilot XIX. The Clockmaker Quilts a Bluenose XX. Sister Sall's Courtship XXI. Setting up for Governor XXII. A Cure for Conceit XXIII. The Blowin' Time XXIV. Father John O'Shaughnessy XXV. Taming a Shrew XXVI. The Minister's Horn Mug XXVII. The White Nigger XXVIII. Fire in the Dairy XXIX. A Body Without a Head XXX. A Tale of Bunker's Hill XXXI. Gulling a Bluenose XXXII. Too many Irons in the Fire XXXIII. Windsor and the Far West
[After these sketches had gone through the press, and were ready for the binder, we sent Mr. Slick a copy; and shortly afterwards received from him the following letter, which characteristic communication we give entire—EDITOR.]
To MR. HOWE,
Sir—I received your letter, and note its contents; I ain't over half pleased, I tell you; I think I have been used scandalous, that's a fact. It warn't the part of a gentleman for to go and pump me arter that fashion and then go right off and blart it out in print. It was a nasty dirty mean action, and I don't thank you nor the Squire a bit for it. It will be more nor a thousand dollars out of my pocket. There's an eend to the clock trade now, and a pretty kettle of fish I've made of it, havn't I? I shall never hear the last on it, and what am I to say when I go back to the States? I'll take my oath I never said one half the stuff he has set down there; and as for that long lochrum about Mr. Everett, and the Hon. Alden Gobble, and Minister, there ain't a word of truth in it from beginnin' to eend. If ever I come near hand to him agin, I'll larn him—but never mind, I say nothin'. Now there's one thing I don't cleverly understand. If this here book is my "Sayin's and Doin's," how comes it your'n or the Squire's either? If my thoughts and notions are my own, how can they be any other folks's? According to my idee you have no more right to take them, than you have to take my clocks without payin' for 'em. A man that would be guilty of such an action is no gentleman, that's flat, and if you don't like it, you may lump it—for I don't vally him, nor you neither, nor are a Bluenose that ever stepped in shoe leather the matter of a pin's head. I don't know as ever I felt so ugly afore since I was raised; why didn't he put his name to it, as well as mine? When an article hain't the maker's name and factory on it, it shows it's a cheat, and he's ashamed to own it. If I'm to have the name I'll have the game, or I'll know the cause why, that's a fact. Now folks say you are a considerable of a candid man, and right up and down in your dealins, and do things above board, handsum—at least so I've hearn tell. That's what I like; I love to deal with such folks. Now spose you make me an offer? You'll find me not very difficult to trade with, and I don't know but I might put off more than half of the books myself, tu. I'll tell you how I'd work it. I'd say, "Here's a book they've namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the Clockmaker, but it ain't mine, and I can't altogether jist say rightly whose it is. Some say it's the General's, and some say it's the Bishop's, and some say it's Howe himself; but I ain't availed who it is. It's a wise child that knows its own father. It wipes up the Bluenoses considerable hard, and don't let off the Yankees so very easy neither, but it's generally allowed to be about the prettiest book ever writ in this country; and although it ain't altogether jist gospel what's in it, there's some pretty home truths in it, that's a fact. Whoever wrote it must be a funny feller, too, that's sartin; for there are some queer stories in it that no soul could help larfin' at, that's a fact. It's about the wittiest book I ever seed. It's nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I've kept for my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I'll let you have it for 5s. because you'll not get another chance to have one." Always ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Bluenose hears that, he thinks he's got a bargain, and bites directly. I never see one on 'em yet that didn't fall right into the trap.
Yes, make me an offer, and you and I will trade, I think. But fair play's a jewel, and I must say I feel riled and kinder sore. I hain't been used handsum atween you two, and it don't seem to me that I had ought to be made a fool on in that book, arter that fashion, for folks to laugh at, and then be sheered out of the spec. If I am, somebody had better look out for squalls, I tell you. I'm as easy as an old glove, but a glove ain't an old shoe to be trod on, and I think a certain person will find that out afore he is six months older, or else I'm mistakened, that's all. Hopin' to hear from you soon, I remain yours to command,
Pugnose's Inn, River Philip, Dec. 25, 1836.
P.S. I see in the last page it is writ, that the Squire is to take another journey round the Shore, and back to Halifax with me next Spring. Well, I did agree with him, to drive him round the coast, but don't you mind—we'll understand each other, I guess, afore we start. I consait he'll rise considerable airly in the mornin', afore he catches me asleep agin. I'll be wide awake for him next hitch, that's a fact. I'd a gin a thousand dollars if he had only used Campbell's name instead of mine; for he was a most an almighty villain, and cheated a proper raft of folks, and then shipped himself off to Botany Bay, for fear folks would transport him there; you couldn't rub out Slick, and put in Campbell, could you? that's a good feller; if you would I'd make it worth your while, you may depend.
The Trotting Horse.
I was always well mounted; I am fond of a horse, and always piqued myself on having the fastest trotter in the Province. I have made no great progress in the world; I feel doubly, therefore, the pleasure of not being surpassed on the road. I never feel so well or so cheerful as on horseback, for there is something exhilirating in quick motion; and, old as I am, I feel a pleasure in making any person whom I meet on the way put his horse to the full gallop, to keep pace with my trotter. Poor Ethiope! you recollect him, how he was wont to lay back his ears on his arched neck, and push away from all competition. He is done, poor fellow! the spavin spoiled his speed, and he now roams at large upon "my farm at Truro." Mohawk never failed me till this summer.
I pride myself—you may laugh at such childish weakness in a man of my age—but still, I pride myself in taking the concert out of coxcombs I meet on the road, and on the ease with which I can leave a fool behind, whose nonsense disturbs my solitary musings.
On my last journey to Fort Lawrence, as the beautiful view of Colchester had just opened upon me, and as I was contemplating its richness and exquisite scenery, a tall, thin man, with hollow cheeks and bright, twinkling black eyes, on a good bay horse, somewhat out of condition, overtook me; and drawing up, said, "I guess you started early this morning, sir?"
"I did, sir," I replied.
"You did not come from Halifax, I presume, sir, did you?" in a dialect too rich to be mistaken as genuine Yankee. "And which way may you be travelling?" asked my inquisitive companion.
"To Fort Lawrence."
"Ah!" said he, "so am I; it is in my circuit."
The word CIRCUIT sounded so professional, I looked again at him, to ascertain whether I had ever seen him before, or whether I had met with one of those nameless, but innumerable limbs of the law, who now flourish in every district of the Province. There was a keenness about his eye, and an acuteness of expression, much in favour of the law; but the dress, and general bearing of the man, made against the supposition. His was not the coat of a man who can afford to wear an old coat, nor was it one of "Tempest and Moore's," that distinguish country lawyers from country boobies. His clothes were well made, and of good materials, but looked as if their owner had shrunk a little since they were made for him; they hung somewhat loose on him. A large brooch, and some superfluous seals and gold keys, which ornamented his outward man, looked "New England" like. A visit to the States, had perhaps, I thought, turned this Colchester beau into a Yankee fop. Of what consequence was it to me who he was? In either case I had nothing to do with him, and I desired neither his acquaintance nor his company. Still I could not but ask myself, Who can this man be?
"I am not aware," said I, "that there is a court sitting at this time at Cumberland."
"Nor am I," said my friend. What, then, could he have to do with the circuit? It occurred to me he must be a Methodist preacher. I looked again, but his appearance again puzzled me. His attire might do—the colour might be suitable—the broad brim not out of place; but there was a want of that staidness of look, that seriousness of countenance, that expression, in short, so characteristic of the clergy.
I could not account for my idle curiosity—a curiosity which, in him, I had the moment before viewed both with suspicion and disgust; but so it was—I felt a desire to know who he could be who was neither lawyer nor preacher, and yet talked of his circuit with the gravity of both. How ridiculous, I thought to myself is this; I will leave him. Turning towards him, I said, I feared I should be late for breakfast, and must therefore bid him good morning. Mohawk felt the pressure of my knees, and away we went at a slapping pace. I congratulated myself on conquering my own curiosity, and on avoiding that of my travelling companion. This, I said to myself, this is the value of a good horse; I patted his neck; I felt proud of him. Presently I heard the steps of the unknown's horse—the clatter increased. Ah, my friend, thought I, it won't do; you should be well mounted if you desire my company; I pushed Mohawk faster, faster, faster—to his best. He outdid himself; he had never trotted so handsomely, so easily, so well.
"I guess that is a pretty considerable smart horse," said the stranger, as he came beside me, and apparently reined in, to prevent his horse passing me; "there is not, I reckon, so spry a one on my circuit."
Circuit or no circuit, one thing was settled in my mind; he was a Yankee, and a very impertinent Yankee too. I felt humbled, my pride was hurt, and Mohawk was beaten. To continue this trotting contest was humiliating; I yielded, therefore, before the victory was palpable, and pulled up.
"Yes," continued he, "a horse of pretty considerable good action, and a pretty fair trotter, too, I guess." Pride must have a fall—I confess mine was prostrate in the dust. These words cut me to the heart. What! is it come to this, poor Mohawk, that you, the admiration of all but the envious, the great Mohawk, the oracle horse, the standard by which all other horses are measured—trots next to Mohawk, only yields to Mohawk, looks like Mohawk—that you are, after all, only a counterfeit, and pronounced by a straggling Yankee to be merely "a pretty fair trotter!"
"If he was trained, I guess he might be made to do a little more. Excuse me, but if you divide your weight between the knee and the stirrup, rather most on the knee, and rise forward on the saddle, so as to leave a little daylight between you and it, I hope I may never ride this circuit again, if you don't get a mile more an hour out of him."
What! not enough, I mentally groaned, to have my horse beaten, but I must be told that I don't know how to ride him; and that, too, by a Yankee! Aye, there's the rub—a Yankee what? Perhaps a half-bred puppy, half Yankee, half Bluenose. As there is no escape, I'll try to make out my riding master. "Your circuit?" said I, my looks expressing all the surprise they were capable of—"your circuit, pray what may that be?"
"Oh," said he, "the eastern circuit—I am on the eastern circuit, sir."
"I have heard," said I, feeling that I now had a lawyer to deal with, "that there is a great deal of business on this circuit. Pray, are there many cases of importance?"
"There is a pretty fair business to be done, at least there has been, but the cases are of no great value—we do not make much out of them, we get them up very easy, but they don't bring much profit." What a beast, thought I, is this! and what a curse to a country, to have such an unfeeling pettifogging rascal practising in it—a horse jockey, too—what a finished character! I'll try him on that branch of his business.
"That is a superior animal you are mounted on," said I; "I seldom meet one that can travel with mine."
"Yes," said he coolly, "a considerable fair traveller, and most particular good bottom." I hesitated; this man who talks with such unblushing effrontery of getting up cases, and making profit out of them, cannot be offended at the question—yes, I will put it to him.
"Do you feel an inclination to part with him?"
"I never part with a horse sir, that suits me," said he. "I am fond of a horse: I don't like to ride in the dust after every one I meet, and I allow no man to pass me but when I choose." Is it possible, I thought, that he can know me—that he has heard of my foible, and is quizzing me, or have I this feeling in common with him?
"But," continued I, "you might supply yourself again."
"Not on this circuit, I guess," said he, "nor yet in Campbell's circuit."
"Campbell's circuit—pray, sir, what is that?"
"That," said he, "is the western—and Lampton rides the shore circuit; and as for the people on the shore, they know so little of horses that, Lampton tells me, a man from Aylesford once sold a hornless ox there, whose tail he had cut and nicked for a horse of the goliah breed."
"I should think," said I, "that Mr. Lampton must have no lack of cases among such enlightened clients."
"Clients, sir!" said my friend, "Mr. Lampton is not a lawyer."
"I beg pardon, I thought you said he rode the circuit."
"We call it a circuit," said the stranger, who seemed by no means flattered by the mistake; "we divide the Province, as in the Almanac, into circuits, in each of which we separately carry on our business of manufacturing and selling clocks. There are few, I guess," said the Clockmaker, "who go upon TICK as much as we do, who have so little use for lawyers; if attornies could wind a man up again, after he has been fairly run down, I guess they'd be a pretty harmless sort of folks."
This explanation restored my good humour, and as I could not quit my companion, and he did not feel disposed to leave me, I made up my mind to travel with him to Fort Lawrence, the limit of his circuit.
I had heard of Yankee clock peddlers, tin peddlers, and bible peddlers, especially of him who sold Polyglot Bibles (all in english) to the amount of sixteen thousand pounds. The house of every substantial farmer had three substantial ornaments: a wooden clock, a tin reflector, and a Polyglot Bible. How is it that an American can sell his wares, at whatever price he pleases, where a Bluenose would fail to make a sale at all? I will enquire of the Clockmaker the secret of his success.
"What a pity it is, Mr. Slick"—for such was his name—"what a pity it is," said I, "that you, who are so successful in teaching these people the value of clocks, could not also teach them the value of time."
"I guess," said he, "they have got that ring to grow on their horns yet, which every four-year-old has in our country. We reckon hours and minutes to be dollars and cents. They do nothing in these parts but eat, drink, smoke, sleep, ride about, lounge at taverns, make speeches at temperance meetings, and talk about 'House of Assembly.' If a man don't hoe his corn, and he don't get a crop, he says it is all owing to the Bank; and if he runs into debt and is sued, why he says the lawyers are a curse to the country. They are a most idle set of folks, I tell you."
"But how is it," said I, "that you manage to sell such an immense number of clocks (which certainly cannot be called necessary articles), among a people with whom there seems to be so great a scarcity of money?" Mr. Slick paused, as if considering the propriety of answering the question, and looking me in the face, said in a confidential tone—
"Why, I don't care if I do tell you, for the market is glutted, and I shall quit this circuit. It is done by a knowledge of SOFT SAWDER and HUMAN NATUR'. But here is Deacon Flint's," said he; "I have but one clock left, and I guess I will sell it to him."
At the gate of a most comfortable looking farm house stood Deacon Flint, a respectable old man, who had understood the value of time better than most of his neighbours, if one might judge from the appearance of everything about him. After the usual salutation, an invitation to "alight" was accepted by Mr. Slick, who said he wished to take leave of Mrs. Flint before he left Colchester.
We had hardly entered the house, before the Clockmaker pointed to the view from the window, and, addressing himself to me, said, "if I was to tell them in Connecticut, there was such a farm as this away down east here in Nova Scotia, they wouldn't believe me—why there ain't such a location in all New England. The deacon has a hundred acres of dyke—"
"Seventy, said the deacon, only seventy."
"Well, seventy; but then there is your fine deep bottom, why I could run a ramrod into it—"
"Interval, we call it," said the Deacon, who, though evidently pleased at this eulogium, seemed to wish the experiment of the ramrod to be tried in the right place.
"Well, interval, if you please (though Professor Eleazer Cumstick, in his work on Ohio, calls them bottoms), is just as good as dyke. Then there is that water privilege, worth three or four thousand dollars, twice as good as what Governor Cass paid fifteen thousand dollars for. I wonder, Deacon, you don't put up a carding mill on it; the same works would carry a turning lathe, a shingle machine, a circular saw, grind bark, and—"
"Too old," said the Deacon, "too old for all those speculations—"
"Old," repeated the clockmaker, "not you; why you are worth half a dozen of the young men we see, nowadays; you are young enough to have—" Here he said something in a lower tone of voice, which I did not distinctly hear; but whatever it was, the Deacon was pleased, he smiled and said he did not think of such things now.
"But your beasts, dear me, your beasts must be put in and have a feed;" saying which, he went out to order them to be taken to the stable.
As the old gentleman closed the door after him, Mr. Slick drew near to me, and said in an undertone, "That is what I call 'SOFT SAWDER.' An Englishman would pass that man as a sheep passes a hog in a pasture, without looking at him; or," said he, looking rather archly, "if he was mounted on a pretty smart horse, I guess he'd trot away, if he could. Now I find—" Here his lecture on "SOFT SAWDER" was cut short by the entrance of Mrs. Flint.
"Jist come to say good-bye, Mrs. Flint."
"What, have you sold all your clocks?"
"Yes, and very low too, for money is scarce, and I wished to close the consarn; no, I am wrong in saying all, for I have just one left. Neighbour Steel's wife asked to have the refusal of it, but I guess I won't sell it; I had but two of them, this one and the feller of it, that I sold Governor Lincoln. General Green, the Secretary of State for Maine, said he'd give me forty dollars for this here one—it has composition wheels and patent axles, it is a beautiful article, a real first chop, no mistake, genuine superfine—but I guess I'll take it back; and beside, Squire Hawk might think kinder hard, that I did not give him the offer."
"Dear me," said Mrs. Flint, "I should like to see it, where is it?"
"It is in a chest of mine over the way, at Tom Tape's store, I guess he can ship it on to Eastport."
"That's a good man," said Mrs. Flint, "jist let's look at it."
Mr. Slick, willing to oblige, yielded to these entreaties, and soon produced the clock—a gawdy, highly varnished, trumpery looking affair. He placed it on the chimney-piece, where its beauties were pointed out and duly appreciated by Mrs. Flint, whose admiration was about ending in a proposal when Mr. Flint returned from giving his directions about the care of the horses. The Deacon praised the clock, he too thought it a handsome one; but the Deacon was a prudent man, he had a watch, he was sorry, but he had no occasion for a clock.
"I guess you're in the wrong furrow this time, Deacon, it ain't for sale," said Mr. Slick; "and if it was, I reckon neighbour Steel's wife would have it, for she gives me no peace about it." Mrs. Flint said that Mr. Steel had enough to do, poor man, to pay his interest, without buying clocks for his wife.
"It's no consarn of mine," said Mr. Slick, "as long as he pays me, what he has to do; but I guess I don't want to sell it, and beside it comes too high; that clock can't be made at Rhode Island under forty dollars. Why it ain't possible," said the Clockmaker, in apparent surprise, looking at his watch, "why as I'm alive it is four o'clock, and if I havn't been two hours here—how on airth shall I reach River Philip tonight? I'll tell you what, Mrs. Flint, I'll leave the clock in your care till I return on my way to the States—I'll set it a-goin' and put it to the right time."
As soon as this operation was performed, he delivered the key to the deacon with a sort of serio-comic injunction to wind up the clock every Saturday night, which Mrs. Flint said she would take care should be done, and promised to remind her husband of it, in case he should chance to forget it.
"That," said the Clockmaker as soon as we were mounted, "that I call 'HUMAN NATUR'!' Now that clock is sold for forty dollars—it cost me just six dollars and fifty cents. Mrs. Flint will never let Mrs. Steel have the refusal—nor will the deacon learn until I call for the clock, that having once indulged in the use of a superfluity, how difficult it is to give it up. We can do without any article of luxury we have never had, but when once obtained, it is not in 'HUMAN NATUR'' to surrender it voluntarily. Of fifteen thousand sold by myself and partners in this Province, twelve thousand were left in this manner, and only ten clocks were ever returned; when we called for them they invariably bought them. We trust to 'SOFT SAWDER' to get them into the house, and to 'HUMAN NATUR'' that they never come out of it."
The Silent Girls.
"Do you see them 'ere swallows," said the Clockmaker, "how low they fly? Well I presume we shall have rain right away; and them noisy critters, them gulls how close they keep to the water, down there in the Shubenacadie; well that's a sure sign. If we study natur', we don't want no thermometer. But I guess we shall be in time to get under cover in a shingle-maker's shed about three miles ahead on us. We had just reached the deserted hovel when the rain fell in torrents.
"I reckon," said the Clockmaker, as he sat himself down on a bundle of shingles, "I reckon they are bad off for inns in this country. When a feller is too lazy to work here, he paints his name over his door, and calls it a tavern, and as like as not he makes the whole neighbourhood as lazy as himself—it is about as easy to find a good inn in Halifax, as it is to find wool on a goat's back. An inn, to be a good consarn, must be built a purpose, you can no more make a good tavern out of a common dwelling house, I expect, than a good coat out of an old pair of trousers. They are etarnal lazy, you may depend—now there might be a grand spec made there, in building a good inn and a good church."
"What a sacrilegious and unnatural union," said I, with most unaffected surprise.
"Not at all," said Mr. Slick; "we build both on speculation in the States, and make a good deal of profit out of 'em too, I tell you. We look out a good sightly place, in a town like Halifax, that is pretty considerably well peopled, with folks that are good marks; and if there is no real right down good preacher among them, we build a handsome Church, touched off like a New York liner, a real taking looking thing—and then we look out for a preacher, a crack man, a regular ten horse power chap—well, we hire him, and we have to give pretty high wages too, say twelve hundred or sixteen hundred dollars a year. We take him at first on trial for a Sabbath or two, to try his paces, and if he takes with the folks, if he goes down well, we clinch the bargain, and let and sell the pews; and, I tell you it pays well and makes a real good investment. There were few better specs among us than inns and churches, until the railroads came on the carpet; as soon as the novelty of the new preacher wears off, we hire another, and that keeps up the steam."
"I trust it will be long, very long, my friend," said I, "ere the rage for speculation introduces 'the money-changers into the temple,' with us."
Mr. Slick looked at me with a most ineffable expression of pity and surprise. "Depend on it, sir," said he, with a most philosophical air, "this Province is much behind the intelligence of the age. But if it is behind us in that respect, it is a long chalk ahead on us in others. I never seed or heerd tell of a country that had so many natural privileges as this. Why, there are twice as many harbours and water-powers here, as we have all the way from Eastport to New OrLEENS. They have all they can ax, and more than they desarve. They have iron, coal, slate, grindstone, lime, firestone, gypsum, free-stone, and a list as long as an auctioneer's catalogue. But they are either asleep, or stone blind to them. Their shores are crowded with fish, and their lands covered with wood. A government that lays as light on 'em as a down counterp'in, and no taxes. Then look at their dykes. The Lord seems to have made 'em on purpose for such lazy folks. If you were to tell the citizens of our country that these dykes had been cropped for a hundred years without manure, they'd say, they guessed you had seen Col. Crockett, the greatest hand at a flam in our nation. You have heerd tell of a man who couldn't see London for the houses? I tell you, if we had this country, you couldn't see the harbours for the shipping. There'd be a rush of folks to it, as there is in one of our inns, to the dinner table, when they sometimes get jammed together in the door-way, and a man has to take a running leap over their heads, afore he can get in. A little nigger boy in New York found a diamond worth two thousand dollars; well, he sold it to a watchmaker for fifty cents—the little critter didn't know no better. Your people are just like the nigger boy—they don't know the value of their diamond.
"Do you know the reason monkeys are no good? because they chatter all day long; so do the niggers, and so do the Bluenoses of Nova Scotia; it's all talk and no work. Now, with us it's all work and no talk; in our ship yards, our factories, our mills, and even in our vessels, there's no talk; a man can't work and talk too. I guess if you were at the factories at Lowell we'd show you a wonder—five hundred gals at work together, all in silence. I don't think our great country has such a real natural curiosity as that—I expect the world don't contain the beat of that; for a woman's tongue goes so slick of itself, without water power or steam, and moves so easy on its hinges, that it's no easy matter to put a spring stop on it, I tell you—it comes as natural as drinkin' mint julip.
"I don't pretend to say the gals don't nullify the rule, sometimes at intermission and arter hours, but when they do, if they don't let go, then it's a pity. You have heerd a school come out, of little boys? Lord, it's no touch to it. Or a flock of geese at it? They are no more a match for 'em than a pony is for a coach-horse. But when they are at work, all's as still as sleep and no snoring. I guess we have a right to brag o' that invention—we trained the dear critters, so they don't think of striking the minutes and seconds no longer.
"Now the folks of Halifax take it all out in talking. They talk of steamboats, whalers and railroads; but they all end where they begin—in talk. I don't think I'd be out in my latitude if I was to say they beat the womenkind at that. One feller says, 'I talk of going to England;' another says, 'I talk of going to the country;' while a third says, 'I talk of going to sleep.' If we happen to speak of such things, we say, 'I'm right off down East;' or 'I'm away off South,' and away we go, jist like a streak of lightning.
"When we want folks to talk, we pay 'em for it, such as ministers, lawyers, and members of Congress; but then we expect the use of their tongues, and not their hands; and when we pay folks to work, we expect the use of their hands, and not their tongues. I guess work don't come kind o' natural to the people of this Province, no more than it does to a full-bred horse. I expect they think they have a little too much blood in 'em for work, for they are near about as proud as they are lazy.
"Now the bees know how to sarve out such chaps, for they have their drones too. Well they reckon it's no fun, a-makin' honey all summer, for these idle critters to eat all winter, so they give 'em Lynch Law. They have a regular built mob of citizens, and string up the drones like the Vicksburg gamblers. Their maxim is, and not a bad one neither I guess, 'no work, no honey.'"
Conversations at the River Philip.
It was late before we arrived at Pugnose's inn—the evening was cool, and a fire was cheering and comfortable. Mr. Slick declined any share in the bottle of wine, he said he was dyspeptic; and a glass or two soon convinced me that it was likely to produce in me something worse than dyspepsy. It was speedily removed and we drew up to the fire. Taking a small penknife from his pocket, he began to whittle a thin piece of dry wood, which lay on the hearth; and, after musing some time said—
"I guess you've never been in the States?"
I replied that I had not, but that before I returned to England I proposed visiting that country.
"There," said he, "you'll see the great Daniel Webster; he's a great man, I tell you; King William, number four, I guess, would be no match for him as an orator—he'd talk him out of sight in half an hour. If he was in your house of Commons, I reckon he'd make some of your great folks look pretty streaked—he's a true patriot and statesman, the first in our country, and a most particular cute lawyer. There was a Quaker chap too cute for him once though. This Quaker, a pretty knowin' old shaver, had a cause down to Rhode Island; so he went to Daniel to hire him to go down and plead his case for him; so says he, 'Lawyer Webster what's your fee?' 'Why,' says Daniel, 'let me see, I have to go down south to Washington, to plead the great Insurance case of the Hartford Company—and I've got to be at Cincinnati to attend the Convention, and I don't see how I can go to Rhode Island without great loss and great fatigue; it would cost you maybe more than you'd be willing to give.'
"Well, the Quaker looked pretty white about the gills, I tell you, when he heard this, for he couldn't do without him no how, and he didn't like this preliminary talk of his at all. At last he made bold to ask him the worst of it, what he would take? 'Why,' says Daniel, 'I always liked the Quakers, they are a quiet peaceable people who never go to law if they can help it, and it would be better for our great country if there were more such people in it. I never seed or heerd tell of any harm in 'em except going the whole figure for Gineral Jackson, and that everlasting, almighty villain, Van Buren; yes, I love the Quakers, I hope they'll go the Webster ticket yet—and I'll go for you as low as I can any way afford, say one thousand dollars.'
"The Quaker well nigh fainted when he heerd this, but he was pretty deep too; so, says he, 'Lawyer, that's a great deal of money, but I have more cases there; if I give you the one thousand dollars will you plead the other cases I shall have to give you?' 'Yes,' says Daniel, 'I will to the best of my humble abilities.' So down they went to Rhode Island, and Daniel tried the case and carried it for the Quaker. Well, the Quaker he goes round to all the folks that had suits in court, and says he, 'What will you give me if I get the great Daniel to plead for you? It cost me one thousand dollars for a fee, but now he and I are pretty thick, and as he is on the spot, I'd get him to plead cheap for you.' So he got three hundred dollars from one, and two from another, and so on, until he got eleven hundred dollars, jist one hundred dollars more than he gave. Daniel was in a great rage when he heerd this. 'What!' says he, 'do you think I would agree to your letting me out like a horse to hire?' 'Friend Daniel,' said the Quaker, 'didst thou not undertake to plead all such cases as I should have to give thee? If thou wilt not stand to thy agreement, neither will I stand to mine.' Daniel laughed out ready to split his sides at this. 'Well,' says he, 'I guess I might as well stand still for you to put the bridle on this time, for you have fairly pinned me up in a corner of the fence anyhow.' So he went good humouredly to work and pleaded them all.
"This lazy fellow, Pugnose," continued the Clockmaker; "that keeps this inn, is going to sell off and go to the States; he says he has to work too hard here; that the markets are dull, and the winter too long; and he guesses he can live easier there; I guess he'll find his mistake afore he has been there long. Why, our country ain't to be compared to this on no account whatever; our country never made us to be the great nation we are, but we made the country. How on airth could we, if we were all like old Pugnose, as lazy, as ugly, make that cold thin soil of New England produce what it does? Why, sir, the land between Boston and Salem would starve a flock of geese; and yet look at Salem; it has more cash than would buy Nova Scotia from the King. We rise early, live frugally, and work late; what we get we take care of. To all this we add enterprise and intelligence—a feller who finds work too hard here, had better not go to the States. I met an Irishman, one Pat Lannigan, last week, who had just returned from the States. 'Why,' says I, 'Pat, what on airth brought you back?' 'Bad luck to them,' says Pat, 'if I warn't properly bit. "What do you get a day in Nova Scotia?" says Judge Beler to me. "Four shillings, your Lordship," says I. "There are no Lords here," says he, "we are all free. Well," says he, "I'll give you as much in one day as you can earn there in two; I'll give you eight shillings." "Long life to your Lordship," says I. So next day to it I went with a party of men a-digging a piece of canal, and if it wasn't a hot day my name is not Pat Lannigan. Presently I looked up and straightened my back; says I to a comrade of mine, "Mick," says I, "I'm very dry;" with that, says the overseer, "We don't allow gentlemen to talk at their work in this country." Faith, I soon found out for my two days' pay in one, I had to do two days' work in one, and pay two weeks' board in one, and at the end of a month, I found myself no better off in pocket than in Nova Scotia; while the devil a bone in my body that didn't ache with pain, and as for my nose, it took to bleeding, and bled day and night entirely. Upon my soul, Mr. Slick,' said he, 'the poor labourer does not last long in your country; what with new rum, hard labour, and hot weather, you'll see the graves of the Irish each side of the canal, for all the world like two rows of potatoes in a field that have forgot to come up.'
"It is a land, sir," continued the Clockmaker, "of hard work. We have two kind of slaves, the niggers and the white slaves. All European labourers and blacks, who come out to us, do our hard bodily work, while we direct it to a profitable end; neither rich nor poor, high nor low, with us, eat the bread of idleness. Our whole capital is in active operation, and our whole population is in active employment. An idle fellow, like Pugnose, who runs away to us, is clapped into harness afore he knows where he is, and is made to work; like a horse that refuses to draw, he is put into the teamboat; he finds some before him and others behind him, he must either draw, or be dragged to death."
In the morning the Clockmaker informed me that a Justice's Court was to be held that day at Pugnose's inn, and he guessed he could do a little business among the country folks that would be assembled there. Some of them, he said, owed him for clocks, and it would save him a world of travelling, to have the Justice and Constable to drive them up together. "If you want a fat wether, there's nothing like penning up the whole flock in a corner. I guess," said he, "if General Campbell knew what sort of a man that 'ere magistrate was, he'd disband him pretty quick; he's a regular suck egg—a disgrace to the country. I guess if he acted that way in Kentucky, he'd get a breakfast of cold lead some morning, out of the small eend of a rifle, he'd find pretty difficult to digest. They tell me he issues three hundred writs a year, the cost of which, including that tarnation constable's fees, can't amount to nothing less than three thousand dollars per annum. If the Hon'ble Daniel Webster had him afore a jury, I reckon he'd turn him inside out, and slip him back again, as quick as an old stocking. He'd paint him to the life, as plain to be known as the head of Gineral Jackson. He's jist a fit feller for Lynch law, to be tried, hanged, and damned, all at once; there's more nor him in the country—there's some of the breed in every county in the Province. Jist one or two to do the dirty work, as we keep niggers for jobs that would give a white man the cholera. They ought to pay his passage, as we do with such critters, tell him his place is taken in the mail coach, and if he is found here after twenty-four hours, they'd make a carpenter's plumb-bob of him, and hang him outside the church steeple, to try if it was perpendicular. He almost always gives judgment for plaintiff, and if the poor defendant has an offset, he makes him sue it, so that it grinds a grist both ways for him, like the upper and lower millstone."
People soon began to assemble, some on foot, and others on horseback and in wagons. Pugnose's tavern was all bustle and confusion—plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, all talking, quarrelling, explaining, and drinking. "Here comes the Squire," said one. "I'm thinking his horse carries more roguery than law," said another. "They must have been in proper want of timber to make a justice of," said a third, "when they took such a crooked stick as that." "Sap-headed enough too for refuse," said a stout-looking farmer. "May be so," said another, "but as hard at the heart as a log of elm." "Howsomever," said a third, "I hope it won't be long afore he has the wainy edge scored off of him, anyhow." Many more such remarks were made, all drawn from familiar objects, but all expressive of bitterness and contempt.
He carried one or two large books with him in his gig, and a considerable roll of papers. As soon as the obsequious Mr. Pugnose saw him at the door, he assisted him to alight, ushered him into the "best room," and desired the constable to attend "the Squire." The crowd immediately entered, and the Constable opened the court in due form, and commanded silence.
Taking out a long list of causes, Mr. Pettifog commenced reading the names: "James Sharp versus John Slug—call John Slug." John Slug being duly called and not answering, was defaulted. In this manner he proceeded to default some twenty or thirty persons. At last he came to a cause, "William Hare versus Dennis O'Brien—call Dennis O'Brien." "Here I am," said a voice from the other room—"here I am, who has anything to say to Dennis O'Brien?"
"Make less noise, sir," said the Justice, "or I'll commit you."
"Commit me, is it," said Dennis. "Take care then, Squire, you don't commit yourself."
"You are sued by William Hare for three pounds, for a month's board and lodging; what have you to say to it?"
"Say to it?" said Dennis. "Did you ever hear what Tim Doyle said when he was going to be hanged for stealing a pig? Says he, 'If the pig hadn't squeeled in the bag I'd never have been found out, so I wouldn't.' So I'll take warning by Tim Doyle's fate; I say nothing—let him prove it." Here Mr. Hare was called on for his proof, but taking it for granted that the board would be admitted, and the defence opened, he was not prepared with proof.
"I demand," said Dennis, "I demand an unsuit."
Here there was a consultation between the Justice and the Plaintiff, when the Justice said, "I shall not nonsuit him, I shall continue the cause." "What, hang it up till next court? You had better hang me up then at once. How can a poor man come here so often? This may be the entertainment Pugnose advertises for horses, but by Jacquers, it is no entertainment for me. I admit then, sooner than come again, I admit it."
"You admit you owe him three pounds then for a month's board?"
"I admit no such thing; I say I boarded with him a month, and was like Pat Moran's cow at the end of it, at the lifting, bad luck to him." A neighbour was here called, who proved that the three pounds might be the usual price. "And do you know I taught his children to write at the school?" said Dennis. "You might," answered the witness. "And what is that worth?" "I don't know." "You don't know? Faith, I believe you're right," said Dennis, "for if the children are half as big rogues as the faither, they might leave writing alone, or they'd be like to be hanged for forgery." Here Dennis produced his account for teaching five children, two quarters, at nine shillings a quarter each, four pounds ten shillings. "I am sorry, Mr. O'Brien," said the Justice, "very sorry, but your defence will not avail you; your account is too large for one Justice; any sum over three pounds must be sued before two magistrates."
"But I only want to offset as much as will pay the board."
"It can't be done in this shape," said the magistrate; "I will consult Justice Dolittle, my neighbour, and if Mr. Hare won't settle with you, I will sue it for you."
"Well," said Dennis, "all I have to say is, that there is not so big a rogue as Hare on the whole river, save and except one scoundrel who shall be nameless," making a significant and humble bow to the Justice. Here there was a general laugh throughout the court. Dennis retired to the next room to indemnify himself by another glass of grog, and venting his abuse against Hare and the Magistrate. Disgusted at the gross partiality of the Justice, I also quitted the court, fully concurring in the opinion, though not in the language, that Dennis was giving utterance to in the bar room.
Pettifog owed his elevation to his interest at an election. It is to be hoped that his subsequent merits will be as promptly rewarded, by his dismissal from a bench which he disgraces and defiles by his presence.
As we mounted our horses to proceed to Amherst, groups of country people were to be seen standing about Pugnose's inn, talking over the events of the morning, while others were dispersing to their several homes.
"A pretty prime superfine scoundrel, that Pettifog," said the Clockmaker; "he and his constable are well mated, and they've travelled in the same gear so long together, that they make about as nice a yoke of rascals as you'll meet in a day's ride. They pull together like one rope reeved through two blocks. That 'ere constable was e'enamost strangled t'other day; and if he hadn't had a little grain more wit than his master, I guess he'd had his wind-pipe stopped as tight as a bladder. There is an outlaw of a feller here, for all the world like one of our Kentucky Squatters, one Bill Smith—a critter that neither fears man nor devil. Sheriff and constable can make no hand of him; they can't catch him no how; and if they do come up with him, he slips through their fingers like an eel; and then, he goes armed, and he can knock the eye out of a squirrel with a ball, at fifty yards hand running—a regular ugly customer.
"Well, Nabb, the constable, had a writ agin him, and he was ciphering a good while how he should catch him; at last he hit on a plan that he thought was pretty clever, and he scheemed for a chance to try it. So one day he heerd that Bill was up at Pugnose's inn, a-settling some business, and was likely to be there all night. Nabb waits till it was considerable late in the evening, and then he takes his horse and rides down to the inn, and hitches his beast behind the hay stack. Then he crawls up to the window and peeps in, and watches there till Bill should go to bed, thinking the best way to catch them 'ere sort of animals is to catch them asleep. Well, he kept Nabb a-waiting outside so long, with his talking and singing, that he well nigh fell asleep fist himself; at last Bill began to strip for bed. First he takes out a long pocket pistol, examines the priming, and lays it down on the table, near the head of the bed.
"When Nabb sees this, he begins to creep like all over, and feel kinder ugly, and rather sick of his job; but when he seed him jump into bed, and heerd him snore out a noise like a man driving pigs to market, he plucked up courage, and thought he might do it easy arter all if he was to open the door softly, and make one spring on him afore he could wake. So round he goes, lifts up the latch of his door as soft as soap, and makes a jump right atop of him, as he lay in the bed. 'I guess I got you this time,' said Nabb. 'I guess so too,' said Bill, 'but I wish you wouldn't lay so plaguy heavy on me; jist turn over, that's a good fellow, will you?' With that Bill lays his arm on him to raise him up, for he said he was squeezed as flat as a pancake, and afore Nabb knew where he was, Bill rolled him right over and was atop of him. Then he seized him by the throat, and twisted his pipe till his eyes were as big as saucers, and his tongue grew six inches longer, while he kept making faces for all the world like the pirate that was hanged on Monument Hill at Boston. It was pretty near over with him, when Nabb thought of his spurs; so he just curled up both heels, and drove the spurs right into him; he let him have it jist below his crupper. As Bill was naked he had a fair chance, and he ragged him like the leaf of a book cut open with your finger. At last, Bill could stand it no longer; he let go his hold and roared like a bull, and clapping both hands ahind him, he out of the door like a shot. If it hadn't been for them 'ere spurs, I guess Bill would have saved the hangman a job of Nabb that time."
The Clockmaker was an observing man, and equally communicative. Nothing escaped his notice; he knew everybody's genealogy, history and means, and like a driver of an English stage-coach, was not unwilling to impart what he knew. "Do you see that snug-looking house there," said he, "with a short sarce garden afore it, that belongs to Elder Thomson. The Elder is pretty close-fisted, and holds special fast to all he gets. He is a just man and very pious, but I have observed when a man becomes near about too good, he is apt, sometimes, to slip ahead into avarice, unless he looks sharp arter his girths. A friend of mine in Connecticut, an old sea Captain, who was once let in for it pretty deep, by a man with a broader brim than common, he said to me, 'Friend Sam, I don't like those folks who are too damned good.' There is, I expect, some truth in it, tho' he needn't have swore at all, but he was an awful hand to swear. Howsomever that may be, there is a story about the Elder, that's not so coarse neither.
"It appears an old Minister came there once, to hold a meetin' at his house—well, after meetin' was over, the Elder took the minister all over his farm, which is pretty tidy, I tell you; and he showed him a great Ox he had, and a swingeing big Pig, that weighed some six or seven hundred weight, that he was plaguy proud of, but he never offered the old minister anything to eat or drink. The preacher was pretty tired of all this, and seeing no prospect of being asked to partake with the family, and tolerably sharp set, he asked one of the boys to fetch him his horse out of the barn. When he was taking leave of the Elder (there were several folks by at the time), says he, 'Elder Thomson, you have a fine farm here, a very fine farm, indeed; you have a large Ox too, a very large Ox; and I think,' said he, 'I've seen today' (turning and looking him full in the face, for he intended to hit him pretty hard) 'I think I have seen today the greatest hog I ever saw in my life.' The neighbours snickered a good deal, and the Elder felt pretty streaked. I guess he'd give his great Pig or his great Ox either, if that story hadn't got wind."
When we resumed our conversation, the Clockmaker said, "I guess we are the greatest nation on the face of the airth, and the most enlightened too."
This was rather too arrogant to pass unnoticed, and I was about replying, that whatever doubts there might be on that subject, there could be none whatever that they were the most modest, when he continued "we 'go ahead'; the Nova Scotians 'go astarn.' Our ships go ahead of the ships of other folks, our steamboats beat the British in speed, and so do our stage coaches; and I reckon a real right down New York trotter might stump the univarse for going ahead. But since we introduced the railroads if we don't go ahead it's a pity. We never fairly knew what going the whole hog was till then; we actilly went ahead of ourselves, and that's no easy matter I tell you. If they only had edication here, they might learn to do so too, but they don't know nothin'."
"You undervalue them," said I; "they have their College and Academies, their grammar schools and primary institutions, and I believe there are few among them who cannot read and write."
"I guess all that's nothin'," said he. "As for Latin and Greek, we don't vally it a cent; we teach it, and so we do painting and music, because the English do, and we like to go ahead on 'em, even in them 'ere things. As for reading, it's well enough for them that has nothing to do, and writing is plaguy apt to bring a man to states-prison, particularly if he writes his name so like another man as to have it mistaken for his'n. Cyphering is the thing—if a man knows how to cipher, he is sure to grow rich. We are a 'calculating' people, we all cipher.
"A horse that won't go ahead, is apt to run back, and the more you whip him the faster he goes astarn. That's jist the way with the Nova Scotians; they have been running back so fast lately, that they have tumbled over a bank or two, and nearly broke their necks; and now they've got up and shook themselves, they swear their dirty clothes and bloody noses are all owing to the banks. I guess if they won't look ahead for the future, they'll larn to look behind, and see if there's a bank near hand 'em.
"A bear always goes down a tree starn foremost. He is a cunning critter; he knows 'tain't safe to carry a heavy load over his head, and his rump is so heavy, he don't like to trust it over his'n, for fear it might take a lurch, and carry him heels over head, to the ground; so he lets his starn down first, and his head arter. I wish the Bluenoses would find as good an excuse in their rumps for running backwards as he has. But the bear 'ciphers;' he knows how many pounds his hams weigh, and he 'calculates' if he carried them up in the air, they might be top heavy for him.
"If we had this Province we'd go to work and 'cipher' right off. Halifax is nothing without a river or back country; add nothing to nothing, and I guess you have nothing still—add a railroad to the Bay of Fundy, and how much do you git? That requires ciphering—it will cost three hundred thousand dollars or seventy-five thousand pounds your money—add for notions omitted in the addition column, one third, and it makes even money—one hundred thousand pounds. Interest at five per cent, five thousand pounds a year. Now turn over the slate and count up freight. I make it upwards of twenty-five thousand pounds a year. If I had you at the desk, I'd show you a bill of items.
"Now comes 'subtraction'; deduct cost of engines, wear and tear, and expenses, and what not, and reduce it for shortness down to five thousand pounds a year, the amount of interest. What figures have you got now? You have an investment that pays interest, I guess, and if it don't pay more then I don't know chalk from cheese. But suppose it don't, and that it only yields two and a half per cent (and it requires good ciphering, I tell you, to say how it would act with folks that like going astarn better than going ahead), what would them 'ere wise ones say then? Why the foolish critters would say it won't pay; but I say the sum ain't half stated. Can you count in your head?"
"Not to any extent," said I.
"Well, that's an etarnal pity," said the Clockmaker, "for I should like to show you Yankee Cyphering. What is the entire real estate of Halifax worth, at a valeation?"
"I really cannot say."
"Ah," said he, "I see you don't cipher, and Latin and Greek won't do; them 'ere people had no railroad. Well, find out, and then only add ten per cent to it, for increased value, and if it don't give the cost of a railroad, then my name is not Sam Slick. Well, the land between Halifax and Ardoise is worth—nothing; add five per cent to that, and send the sum to the College, and ax the students how much it comes to. But when you get into Hants County, I guess you have land worth coming all the way from Boston to see. His Royal Highness the King, I guess, hasn't got the like in his dominions. Well, add fifteen per cent to all them 'ere lands that border on Windsor Basin, and five per cent to what 'buts on basin of Mines, and then, what do you get? A pretty considerable sum I tell you—but it's no use to give you the CHALKS, if you can't keep the TALLIES.
"Now we will lay down the schoolmaster's assistant, and take up another book every bit and grain as good as that, although these folks affect to sneer at it—I mean human natur'."
"Ah!" said I, "a knowledge of that was of great service to you, certainly, in the sale of your clock to the old Deacon; let us see how it will assist you now."
"What does a clock want that's run down?" said he.
"Undoubtedly to be wound up," I replied.
"I guess you've hit it this time. The folks of Halifax have run down, and they'll never go to all eternity, till they are wound up into motion; the works are all good, and it is plaguy well cased and set—it only wants a key. Put this railroad into operation, and the activity it will inspire into business, the new life it will give the place, will surprise you. It's like lifting a child off his crawling, and putting him on his legs to run—see how the little critter goes ahead arter that. A kurnel (I don't mean a Kurnel of militia, for we don't vally that breed o' cattle nothing—they do nothing but strut about and screech all day, like peacocks), but a kurnel of grain, when sowed, will stool into several shoots, and each shoot hear many kurnels, and will multiply itself thus—four times one is four, and four times twenty-five is one hundred (you see all natur' ciphers, except the Bluenoses). Jist so, this 'ere railroad will not, perhaps, beget other railroads, but it will beget a spirit of enterprise, that will beget other useful improvements. It will enlarge the sphere and the means of trade, open new sources of traffic and supply—develop resources—and what is of more value perhaps than all—beget motion. It will stool out and bear abundantly; it will teach the folks that go astarn or stand stock still, like the statehouse in Boston (though they do say the foundation of that has moved a little this summer), not only to 'go ahead,' but to nullify time and space."
Here his horse (who, feeling the animation of his master, had been restive of late) set off at a most prodigious rate of trotting. It was some time before he was reined up. When I overtook him, the Clockmaker said, "this old Yankee horse, you see, understands our word 'go ahead' better nor these Bluenoses."
"What is it," he continued, "what is it that 'fetters' the heels of a young country, and hangs like 'a poke' around its neck? What retards the cultivation of its soil, and the improvement of its fisheries? The high price of labour, I guess. Well, what's a railroad? The substitution of mechanical for human and animal labour, on a scale as grand as our great country. Labour is dear in America, and cheap in Europe. A railroad, therefore, is comparatively no manner of use to them, to what it is to us; it does wonders there, but it works miracles here. There it makes the old man younger, but here it makes a child a giant. To us it is river, bridge, road and canal, all in one. It saves what we hain't got to spare, men, horses, carts, vessels, barges, and what's all in all—time.
"Since the creation of the Universe, I guess it's the greatest invention, arter man. Now this is what I call 'ciphering' arter human natur', while figures are ciphering arter the 'assistant.' These two sorts of ciphering make edecation—and you may depend on't, Squire, there is nothing like folks ciphering, if they want to 'go ahead.'"
The Preacher that Wandered from His Text.
"I guess," said the Clockmaker, "we know more of Nova Scotia than the Bluenoses themselves do. The Yankees see further ahead than most folks; they can e'enamost see round t'other side of a thing; indeed some of them have hurt their eyes by it, and sometimes I think that's the reason such a sight of them wear spectacles. The first I ever heerd tell of Cumberland was from Mr. Everett of Congress; he know'd as much about it as if he had lived here all his days, and maybe a little grain more. He is a splendid man that—we class him No. 1, letter A. One night I chanced to go into General Peep's tavern at Boston, and who should I see there but the great Mr. Everett, a-studying over a map of the Province of Nova Scotia. 'Why it ain't possible!' said I; 'if that ain't Professor Everett, as I am alive! Why, how do you do, Professor?' 'Pretty well, I give you thanks,' said he; 'how be you? but I ain't no longer Professor; I gin that up, and also the trade of preaching, and took to politics.' 'You don't say so,' said I; 'why, what on airth is the cause o' that?' 'Why,' says he, 'look here, Mr. Slick. What IS the use of reading the Proverbs of Solomon to our free and enlightened citizens, that are every mite and morsel as wise as he was? That 'ere man undertook to say there was nothing new under the sun. I guess he'd think he spoke a little too fast, if he was to see our steamboats, railroads, and India rubber shoes—three inventions worth more nor all he knew put in a heap together.' 'Well, I don't know,' said I, 'but somehow or another, I guess you'd have found preaching the best speculation in the long run; them 'ere Unitarians pay better than Uncle Sam.' (We call," said the Clockmaker, "the American public Uncle Sam, as you call the British John Bull.)
"That remark seemed to grig him a little; he felt oneasy like, and walked twice across the room, fifty fathoms deep in thought; at last he said, 'Which way are you from, Mr. Slick, this hitch?' 'Why,' says I, 'I've run away up South a-speculating in nutmegs.' 'I hope,' says the Professor, 'they were a good article, the real right down genuine thing.' 'No mistake,' says I, 'no mistake, Professor: they were all prime, first chop; but why did you ax that 'ere question?' 'Why,' says he, 'that eternal scoundrel, that Captain John Allspice of Nahant, he used to trade to Charleston, and he carried a cargo once there of fifty barrels of nutmegs: well, he put half a bushel of good ones into each eend of the barrel, and the rest he filled up with wooden ones, so like the real thing, no soul could tell the difference until HE BIT ONE WITH HIS TEETH, and that he never thought of doing, until he was first BIT HIMSELF. Well, it's been a standing joke with them southerners agin us ever since.
"'It was only t'other day at Washington, that everlasting Virginny duellist, General Cuffy, afore a number of senators, at the President's house, said to me, "Well Everett," says he, "you know I was always dead agin your Tariff bill, but I have changed my mind since your able speech on it; I shall vote for it now." "Give me your hand," says I, "General Cuffy; the Boston folks will be dreadful glad when they hear your splendid talents are on our side. I think it will go now—we'll carry it." "Yes," says he, "your factories down east beat all natur'; they go ahead on the English a long chalk." You may depend I was glad to hear the New Englanders spoken of that way; I felt proud, I tell you. "And," says he, "there's one manufacture that might stump all Europe to produce the like." "What's that?" says I, looking as pleased all the time as a gal that's tickled. "Why," says he, "the 'facture of wooden nutmegs; that's a cap sheef that bangs the bush—it's a real Yankee patent invention." With that all the gentlemen set up a laugh, you might have heerd away down to Sandy Hook, and the Gineral gig-gobbled like a great turkey-cock—the half nigger, half alligator-like looking villain as he is. I tell you what, Mr. Slick,' said the Professor, 'I wish with all my heart them 'ere damned nutmegs were in the bottom of the sea.' That was the first oath I ever heerd him let slip: but he was dreadful riled, and it made me feel ugly too, for it's awful to hear a minister swear; and the only match I know for it, is to hear a regular sneezer of a sinner quote Scripture. Says I, 'Mr. Everett, that's the fruit that politics bears; for my part I never seed a good graft on it yet, that bore anything good to eat, or easy to digest.'
"Well, he stood awhile looking down on the carpet, with his hands behind him, quite taken up a-ciphering in his head, and then he straightened himself up, and he put his hand upon his heart, just as he used to do in the pulpit (he looked pretty I tell you), and slowly lifting his hand off his breast, he said, 'Mr. Slick, our tree of liberty was a beautiful tree—a splendid tree—it was a sight to look at; it was well fenced and well protected, and it grew so stately and so handsome, that strangers came from all parts of the globe to see it. They all allowed it was the most splendid thing in the world. Well, the mobs have broke in and tore down the fences, and snapped off the branches, and scattered all the leaves about, and it looks no better than a gallows tree. I am afeared,' said he, 'I tremble to think on it, but I am afeared our ways will no longer be ways of pleasantness, nor our paths, paths of peace; I am, indeed, I vow, Mr. Slick.' He looked so streaked and so chop-fallen, that I felt kinder sorry for him; I actilly thought he'd a boo-hoo'd right out.
"So, to turn the conversation, says I, 'Professor, what 'ere great map is that I seed you a-studyin' over when I came in?' Says he, 'it's a map of Nova Scotia. That,' says he, 'is a valuable province, a real clever province; we hain't got the like on it, but it's most plagily in our way.' 'Well,' says I, 'send for Sam Patch' (that 'ere man was a great diver," says the Clockmaker, "and the last dive he took was off the falls of Niagara, and he was never heerd of agin till t'other day, when Captain Enoch Wentworth, of the Susy Ann whaler saw him in the South Sea. 'Why,' says Captain Enoch to him, 'why Sam,' says he, 'how on airth did you get here? I thought you was drowned at the Canadian lines.' 'Why,' says he, 'I didn't get ON airth here at all, but I came right slap THROUGH it. In that 'ere Niagara dive, I went so everlasting deep, I thought it was just as short to come up t'other side, so out I came in those parts. If I don't take the shine off the Sea Serpent, when I get back to Boston, then my name's not Sam Patch'.) 'Well,' says I, 'Professor, send for Sam Patch, the diver, and let him dive down and stick a torpedo in the bottom of the Province and blow it up; or if that won't do, send for some of our steam towboats from our great Eastern cities, and tow it out to sea; you know there's nothing our folks can't do, when they once fairly take hold on a thing in airnest.'
"Well, that made him laugh; he seemed to forget about the nutmegs, and says he, 'That's a bright scheme, but it won't do; we shall want the Province some day, and I guess we'll buy it of King William; they say he is over head and ears in debt, and owes nine hundred millions of pounds starling—we'll buy it, as we did Florida. In the meantime we must have a canal from Bay Fundy to Bay Varte, right through Cumberland neck, by Shittyack, for our fishing vessels to go to Labradore.' 'I guess you must ax leave first,' said I. 'That's jist what I was ciphering at,' says he, 'when you came in. I believe we won't ax them at all, but jist fall to and do it; IT'S A ROAD OF NEEDCESSITY. I once heard Chief Justice Marshall of Baltimore say; "If the people's highway is dangerous, a man may take down a fence and pass through the fields as a way of NEEDCESSITY;" and we shall do it on that principle, as the way round by Isle Sable is dangerous. I wonder the Nova Scotians don't do it for their own convenience.' Said I, 'it wouldn't make a bad speculation that.' 'The critters don't know no better,' said he. 'Well,' says I, 'the St. John's folks, why don't they? for they are pretty cute chaps them.'
"'They remind me,' says the Professor, 'of Jim Billings. You knew Jim Billings, didn't you, Mr. Slick?' 'Oh yes,' said I, 'I knew him. It was he that made such a talk by shipping blankets to the West Indies.' 'The same,' says he. 'Well, I went to see him the other day at Mrs. Lecain's boarding-house, and says I, "Billings, you have a nice location here." "A plaguy sight too nice," said he. "Marm Lecain makes such an etarnal touss about her carpets, that I have to go along that everlasting long entry, and down both staircases, to the street door to spit; and it keeps all the gentlemen a-running with their mouths full all day. I had a real bout with a New Yorker this morning. I run down to the street door, and afore I seed anybody a-coming, I let go, and I vow if I didn't let a chap have it all over his white waistcoat. Well, he makes a grab at me, and I shuts the door right to on his wrist, and hooks the door chain taught and leaves him there, and into Marm Lecain's bedroom like a shot, and hides behind the curtain. Well, he roared like a bull, till black Lucretia, one of the house-helps, let him go, and they looked into all the gentlemen's rooms and found nobody; so I got out of that 'ere scrape. So, what with Marm Lecain's carpets in the house, and other folks' waistcoats in the street, it's too nice a location for me, I guess, so I shall up killock and off tomorrow to the TREE-mont."
"'Now,' says the Professor, 'the St. John's folks are jist like Billings, fifty cents would have bought him a spit box, and saved him all them 'ere journeys to the street door—and a canal at Bay Varte would save the St. John's folks a voyage all round Nova Scotia. Why, they can't get at their own backside settlements, without a voyage most as long as one to Europe. If we had that 'ere neck of land in Cumberland, we'd have a ship canal there, and a town at each end of it as big as Portland. You may talk of Solomon,' said the Professor, 'but if Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like a lily of the field, neither was he in all his wisdom, equal in knowledge to a real free American citizen.' 'Well,' said I, 'Professor, we are a most enlightened people, that's sartain, but somehow I don't like to hear you run down King Solomon neither; perhaps he warn't quite so wise as Uncle Sam, but then,' said I (drawing close to the Professor, and whispering in his ear, for fear any folks in the bar room might hear me), 'but then, said I, may be he was every bit and grain as honest.' Says he, 'Mr. Slick, there are some folks who think a good deal and say but little, and they are wise folks; and there are others agin, who blart right out whatever comes uppermost, and I guess they are pretty considerable superfine darned fools.'
"And with that he turned right round, and sat down to his map and never said another word, lookin' as mad as a hatter the whole blessed time."
Yankee Eating and Horse Feeding.
"Did you ever hear tell of Abernethy, a British doctor?" said the Clockmaker.
"Frequently," said I; "he was an eminent man, and had a most extensive practice."
"Well, I reckon he was a vulgar critter that," he replied, "he treated the hon'ble Alden Gobble, secretary to our legation at London, dreadful bad once; and I guess if it had been me he had used that way, I'd a fixed his flint for him, so that he'd think twice afore he'd fire such another shot as that 'ere agin. I'd a made him make tracks, I guess, as quick as a dog does a hog from a potato field. He'd a found his way out of the hole in the fence a plaguy sight quicker than he came in, I reckon."
"His manner," said I, "was certainly rather unceremonious at times, but he was so honest and so straightforward, that no person was, I believe, ever seriously offended at him. IT WAS HIS WAY."
"Then his way was so plaguy rough," continued the Clockmaker, "that he'd been the better, if it had been hammered and mauled down smoother. I'd a levelled him as flat as a flounder."
"Pray what was his offence?" said I.
"Bad enough you may depend. The hon'ble Alden Gobble was dyspeptic, and he suffered great on easiness arter eatin', so he gees to Abemethy for advice. 'What's the matter with you?' said the Doctor—jist that way, without even passing the time o' day with him—'what's the matter with you?' said he. 'Why,' says Alden, 'I presume I have the Dyspepsy.' 'Ah!' said he, 'I see; a Yankee swallowed more dollars and cents than he can digest.' 'I am an American citizen,' says Alden, with great dignity; 'I am Secretary to our Legation at the Court of St. James.' 'The devil you are,' said Abernethy; "then you'll soon get rid of your dyspepsy.' 'I don't see that 'ere inference,' said Alden, 'it don't follow from what you predicate at all; it ain't a natural consequence, I guess, that a man should cease to be ill because he is called by the voice of a free and enlightened people to fill an important office.' (The truth is, you could no more trap Alden than you could an Indian. He could see other folks' trail, and made none himself; he was a real diplomatist, and I believe our diplomatists are allowed to be the best in the world.) 'But I tell you it does follow,' said the Doctor; 'for in the company you'll have to keep, you'll have to eat like a Christian.'
"It was an everlasting pity Alden contradicted him, for he broke out like one ravin' distracted mad. 'I'll be damned,' said he, 'if ever I saw a Yankee that didn't bolt his food whole like a boa constrictor. How the devil can you expect to digest food, that you neither take the trouble to dissect, nor time to masticate? It's no wonder you lose your teeth, for you never use them; nor your digestion, for you overload it; nor your saliva, for you expend it on the carpets, instead of your food. It's disgusting, it's beastly. You Yankees load your stomachs as a Devonshire man does his cart, as full as it can hold, and as fast as he can pitch it with a dung-fork, and drive off; and then you complain that such a load of compost is too heavy for you. Dyspepsy, eh! infernal guzzling, you mean. I'll tell you what, Mr. Secretary of Legation, take half the time to eat that you do to drawl out your words, chew your food half as much as you do your filthy tobacco, and you'll be well in a month.'
"'I don't understand such language,' said Alden. (For he was fairly riled, and got his dander up, and when he shows clear grit, he looks wicked ugly, I tell you.) 'I don't understand such language, sir; I came here to consult you professionally, and not to be—' 'Don't understand!' said the Doctor, 'why it's plain English; but here, read my book!' and he shoved a book into his hands and left him in an instant, standing alone in the middle of the room.
"If the hon'ble Alden Gobble had gone right away and demanded his passport, and returned home with the Legation, in one of our first class frigates (I guess the English would as soon see p'ison as one o' them 'ere Serpents), to Washington, the President and the people would have sustained him in it, I guess, until an apology was offered for the insult to the nation. I guess if it had been me," said Mr. Slick, "I'd a headed him afore he slipped out o' the door, and pinned him up agin the wall, and made him bolt his words again, as quick as he throw'd 'em up, for I never seed an Englishman that didn't cut his words as short as he does his horse's tail, close up to the stump."
"It certainly was very coarse and vulgar language, and I think," said I, "that your Secretary had just cause to be offended at such an ungentlemanlike attack, although he showed his good sense in treating it with the contempt it deserved."
"It was plaguy lucky for the doctor, I tell you, that he cut his stick as he did, and made himself scarce, for Alden was an ugly customer; he'd a gi'n him a proper scalding; he'd a taken the bristles off his hide, as clean as the skin of a spring shote of a pig killed at Christmas."
The Clockmaker was evidently excited by his own story, and to indemnify himself for these remarks on his countrymen, he indulged for some time in ridiculing the Nova Scotians.
"Do you see that 'ere flock of colts," said he, as we passed one of those beautiful prairies that render the valleys of Nova Scotia so verdant and so fertile. "Well, I guess they keep too much of that 'ere stock. I heerd an Indian one day ax a tavern-keeper for some rum. 'Why, Joe Spawdeeck,' said he, 'I reckon you have got too much already.' 'Too much of anything,' said Joe, 'is not good; but too much rum is jist enough.' I guess these Bluenoses think so about their horses; they are fairly eat up by them, out of house and home, and they are no good neither. They bean't good saddle horses, and they bean't good draft beasts; they are jist neither one thing nor t'other. They are like the drink of our Connecticut folks. At mowing time they use molasses and water—nasty stuff, only fit to catch flies; it spiles good water and makes bad beer. No wonder the folks are poor. Look at them 'ere great dykes; well, they all go to feed horses; and look at their grain fields on the upland; well, they are all sowed with oats to feed horses, and they buy their bread from us: so we feed the asses, and they feed the horses. If I had them critters on that 'ere marsh, on a location of mine, I'd jist take my rifle and shoot every one on 'em—the nasty yo-necked, cat-hammed, heavy-headed, flat-eared, crooked-shanked, long-legged, narrow-chested, good-for-nothin' brutes; they ain't worth their keep one winter. I vow, I wish one of these Bluenoses, with his go-to-meetin' clothes on, coat-tails pinned up behind like a leather blind of a Shay, an old spur on one heel, and a pipe stuck through his hat-band, mounted on one of these limber-timbered critters, that moves its hind legs like a hen scratchin' gravel, was sot down in Broadway, in New York, for a sight. Lord! I think I hear the West Point cadets a-larfin' at him. 'Who brought that 'ere scare-crow out of standin' corn and stuck him here?' 'I guess that 'ere citizen came from away down east out of the Notch of the White Mountains.' 'Here comes the Cholera doctor, from Canada—not from Canada, I guess, neither, for he don't look as if he had ever been among the rapids.' If they wouldn't poke fun at him it's a pity.
"If they'd keep less horses, and more sheep, they'd have food and clothing, too, instead of buyin' both. I vow I've larfed afore now till I have fairly wet myself a-cryin', to see one of these folks catch a horse: may be he has to go two or three miles of an arrand. Well, down he goes on the dyke with a bridle in one hand, and an old tin pan in another, full of oats, to catch his beast. First he goes to one flock of horses, and then to another, to see if he can find his own critter. At last he gets sight on him, and goes softly up to him, shakin' of his oats, and a-coaxin' him, and jist as he goes to put his hand upon him, away he starts all head and tail, and the rest with him: that starts another flock, and they set a third off, and at last every troop on 'em goes, as if Old Nick was arter them, till they amount to two or three hundred in a drove. Well, he chases them clear across the Tantramer marsh, seven miles good, over ditches, creeks, mire holes, and flag ponds, and then they turn and take a fair chase for it back again, seven miles more. By this time, I presume, they are all pretty considerably well tired, and Bluenose, he goes and gets up all the men folks in the neighbourhood, and catches his beast, as they do a moose arter he is fairly run down; so he runs fourteen miles, to ride two, because he is in a tarnation hurry. It's e'enamost equal to eatin' soup with a fork, when you are short of time. It puts me in mind of catching birds by sprinklin' salt on their tails; it's only one horse a man can ride out of half a dozen, arter all. One has no shoes, t'other has a colt, one ain't broke, another has a sore back, while a fifth is so etarnal cunnin', all Cumberland couldn't catch him, till winter drives him up to the barn for food.
"Most of them 'ere dyke marshes have what they call 'honey pots' in 'em; that is a deep hole all full of squash, where you can't find no bottom. Well, every now and then, when a feller goes to look for his horse, he sees his tail a-stickin' right out an eend, from one of these honey pots, and wavin' like a head of broom corn; and sometimes you see two or three trapped there, e'enamost smothered, everlastin' tired, half swimmin' half wadin', like rats in a molasses cask. When they find 'em in that 'ere pickle, they go and get ropes, and tie 'em tight round their necks, and half hang 'em to make 'em float, and then haul 'em out. Awful lookin' critters they be, you may depend, when they do come out; for all the world like half-drowned kittens—all slinkey slimey, with their great long tails glued up like a swab of oakum dipped in tar. If they don't look foolish it's a pity! Well, they have to nurse these critters all winter, with hot mashes, warm covering, and what not, and when spring comes, they mostly die, and if they don't they are never no good arter. I wish with all my heart half the horses in the country were barrelled up in these here 'honey pots,' and then there'd be near about one half too many left for profit. Jist look at one of these barn yards in the spring—half a dozen half-starved colts, with their hair lookin' a thousand ways for Sunday, and their coats hangin' in tatters, and half a dozen good-for-nothin' old horses, a-crowdin' out the cows and sheep.
"Can you wonder that people who keep such an unprofitable stock, come out of the small eend of the horn in the long run?"
The Road to a Woman's Heart—The Broken Heart.
As we approached the inn at Amherst, the Clockmaker grew uneasy.
"It's pretty well on in the evening, I guess," said he, "and Marm Pugwash is as onsartain in her temper as a mornin' in April; it's all sunshine or all clouds with her, and if she's in one of her tantrums, she'll stretch out her neck and hiss, like a goose with a flock of goslins. I wonder what on airth Pugwash was a-thinkin' on, when he signed articles of partnership with that 'ere woman; she's not a bad-lookin' piece of furniture neither, and it's a proper pity sich a clever woman should carry such a stiff upper lip—she reminds me of our old minister Joshua Hopewell's apple trees.
"The old minister had an orchard of most particular good fruit, for he was a great hand at buddin', graftin', and what not, and the orchard (it was on the south side of the house) stretched right up to the road. Well, there were some trees hung over the fence, I never seed such bearers, the apples hung in ropes, for all the world like strings of onions, and the fruit was beautiful. Nobody touched the minister's apples, and when other folks lost their'n from the boys, his'n always hung there like bait to a hook, but there never was so much as a nibble at 'em. So I said to him one day, 'Minister,' said I, 'how on airth do you manage to keep your fruit that's so exposed, when no one else can do it no how?' 'Why,' says he, 'they are dreadful pretty fruit, ain't they?' 'I guess,' said I, 'there ain't the like on 'em in all Connecticut.' 'Well,' says he, 'I'll tell you the secret, but you needn't let on to no one about it. That 'ere row next the fence, I grafted it myself, I took great pains to get the right kind, I sent clean up to Roxberry, and away down to Squaw-neck Creek for —-.' 'I know that, Minister,' said I (for I was afeared he was a-goin' to give me day and date for every graft, being a terrible long-winded man in his stories), 'I know that,' said I, 'but how do you preserve them?' 'Why, I was a-goin' to tell you,' said he, 'when you stopped me. That 'ere outward row I grafted myself with the choicest kind I could find, and I succeeded. They are beautiful, but so etarnal sour, no human soul can eat them. Well, the boys think the old minister's graftin' has all succeeded about as well as that row, and they sarch no farther. They snicker at my graftin', and I laugh in my sleeve, I guess, at their penetration.'
"Now, Marm Pugwash is like the minister's apples—very temptin' fruit to look at, but desperate sour. If Pugwash had a watery mouth when he married, I guess it's pretty puckery by this time. However, if she goes to act ugly, I'll give her a dose of 'soft sawder,' that will take the frown out of her frontispiece, and make her dial-plate as smooth as a lick of copal varnish. It's a pity she's such a kickin' devil, too, for she has good points: good eye—good foot—neat pastern—fine chest—a clean set of limbs, and carries a good —-. But here we are; now you'll see what 'soft sawder' will do."
When we entered the house, the traveller's room was all in darkness, and on opening the opposite door into the sitting-room, we found the female part of the family extinguishing the fire for the night. Mrs. Pugwash had a broom in her hand, and was in the act (the last act of female housewifery) of sweeping the hearth. The strong flickering light of the fire, as it fell upon her tall fine figure and beautiful face, revealed a creature worthy of the Clockmaker's comments.
"Good evening, Marm," said Mr. Slick, "how do you do, and how's Mr. Pugwash?"
"He," said she, "why he's been abed this hour, you don't expect to disturb him this time of night I hope?"
"Oh no," said Mr. Stick, "certainly not, and I am sorry to have disturbed you, but we got detained longer than we expected; I am sorry that—"