LITERATURE AND NATIONAL POLICY.
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VOL. II.—AUGUST, 1862.—No. II.
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AMONG THE PINES.
'My God! drowned herself and her child!' exclaimed the Colonel, with deep emotion.
'Come, my friend, let us go to them at once,' I said, laying my hand on his arm, and drawing him unresistingly away.
A pair of mules was speedily harnessed to a large turpentine-wagon, and the horses we had ridden the day before were soon at the door. When the Colonel, who had been closeted for a few minutes with Madam P—, came out of the house, we mounted and rode off with the 'corn-cracker.'
The native's farm was located on the stream which watered my friend's plantation, and was about ten miles distant. Taking a by-road which led to it through the woods, we rode rapidly on in advance of the wagon.
'Sort o' likely gal, thet, warn't she?' remarked the turpentine-maker, after a while.
'Yes, she was,' replied the Colonel, in a half-abstracted manner, 'very likely.'
'Kill harself 'case har man war shot by thet han'som overseer uv yourn?'
'Not altogether for that, I reckon,' replied my host,' I fear the main reason was her being put at field-work, and abused by the driver.'
'Thet comes uv not lookin' arter things yerself, Cunnel. I 'tend ter my niggers parsonally, and they keer a durned sight more fur this world then fur kingdom-cum. Ye cudn't hire 'em ter kill 'emselves fur no price.'
'Well,' replied the Colonel, in a low tone, 'I did look after her. I put her at full field-work myself.'
'By—!' cried the native, reining his horse to a dead stop, and speaking in an excited manner; 'I doan't b'lieve it, 'taint 't all like ye; yer a d—d seceshener—thet comes uv yer bringin'-up; but ye've a soul bigger'n a meetin'-house, and ye cudn't hev put thet slim, weakly gal inter th' woods, no how!'
The Colonel and I instinctively halted our horses, as the 'corn-cracker' stopped his.
'It is true, Barnes,' said my host, in a low voice, 'I did do it!'
'May God Almighty furgive ye, Cunnel,' said the native, starting his horse forward, 'I wudn't hev dun it fur all yer niggers, by——.'
The Colonel made no reply, and we rode on the rest of the way in silence.
The corn-cracker's house—a low, unpainted, wooden building—stood near the little stream, and in the centre of a cleared plot of some ten acres. This plot was surrounded by a post and rail fence, and in its front portion was a garden, which grew a sufficient supply of vegetables to serve a family of twenty persons. In the rear, and at the sides of the dwelling, were about seven acres, devoted mainly to corn and potatoes. In one corner of the lot were three tidy-looking negro-houses, and close beside them I noticed a low shed, near which a large quantity of the stalks of the tall, white corn, common to that section, was stacked in the New-England fashion. Browsing on the corn-stalks were three sleek, well-kept milch-cows and a goat.
About four hundred yards from the farmer's house, and on the bank of the little run, which there was quite wide and deep, stood a turpentine-distillery, and around it were scattered a large number of rosin and turpentine barrels, some filled and some empty. A short distance higher up, and far enough from the 'still' to be safe in the event of a fire, was a long, low, wooden shed, covered with rough, unjointed boards, placed upright, and unbattened. This was the 'spirit-house,' used for the storage of the spirits of turpentine when barreled for market, and awaiting shipment. In the creek, and filling nearly one-half of the channel in front of the spirit-shed, was a raft of pine-timber, on which were laden some two hundred barrels of rosin. On such rude conveyances the turpentine-maker sent his produce to Conwayboro. There the timber-raft was sold to my wayside friend, Captain B—, and its freight shipped on board vessel for New-York.
Two 'prime' negro men, dressed in the usual costume, were 'tending the still,' and a negro-woman, as stout and strong as the men, and clad in a short, loose, linsey gown, from beneath which peeped out a pair of coarse leggins, was adjusting a long wooden trough, which conveyed the liquid rosin from the 'still' to a deep excavation in the earth, at a short distance. In the pit was a quantity of rosin sufficient to fill a thousand barrels.
'Here, Bill,' said Barnes to one of the negro men, as we pulled up at the distillery, 'put these critters up, and give 'em some oats, and when they've cooled off a bit, water 'em.'
'Yas, yas, massa,' replied the negro, springing nimbly forward, and taking the horses by the bridles, 'an' rub 'em down, massa?'
'Yas, rub 'em down right smart,' replied the corn-cracker; then turning to me, as we dismounted, he said: 'Stranger, thet's th' sort o' niggers fur ye; all uv mine ar' jess like him, smart and lively as kittens.'
'He does seem to go about his work cheerfully,' I replied.
'Cheerfully! d—d ef he doan't—all on 'em du! They like me better'n thar own young 'uns, an' it's 'case I use 'em like human bein's;' and he looked slyly toward the Colonel, who just then was walking silently away, in the direction of the run, as if in search of the drowned 'chattels.'
'Not thar, Cunnel,' cried the native, 'they're inter th' shed,' and he started to lead the way to the 'spirit-house.'
'Not now, Barnes,' I said, putting my hand on his arm, 'leave him alone for a little while. He is feeling badly, and we'd better not disturb him.'
The native motioned me to a seat on a rosin-barrel, as he replied:
'Wal, he 'pears ter, thet's a fact, and he orter. D—d ef it arn't wicked to use niggers like cattle, as he do.'
'I don't think he means to ill-treat them; he's a kind-hearted man.'
'Wal, he ar' sort o' so; but he's left ev'ry thing ter thet d—d overseer uv his'n. I wudn't ha' trusted him to feed my hogs.'
'Hogs!' I exclaimed, laughing; 'I supposed you didn't feed hogs in these diggings. I supposed you 'let 'em run.''
'I doan't; an' I've got th' tallest porkys 'round har.'
'I've been told that they get a good living in the woods.'
'Wal, p'raps the' du jest make eout ter live thar; but my ole 'oman likes 'em ter hum. They clean up a place like, eat up all th' leavin's, an' give th' young nigs suthin' ter du.'
'It seems to me,' I said, resuming the previous thread of the conversation, 'that overseers are a necessity on a large plantation.'
'Wal, the' ar', an' thet's why thar ortent ter be no big plantations; God Almighty didn't make human bein's ter be herded togethar in th' woods. No man orter ter hev more'n twenty on 'em—he can't look arter no more himself, an' it's agin natur' ter set a feller over 'em what han't no int'rest in 'cm, an' no feelin' fur 'em, an' who'll drive 'em round like brutes. I never struck one on 'em in my life, an' my ten du more'n ony fifteen th' Cunnel's got.'
'I thought they needed occasional correction. How do you manage them without whipping?'
'Manage them! why, 'cordin' ter scriptur'—do ter 'em as I'd like ter be dun ter, ef I war a nigger. Every one on 'em knows I'd part with my last shirt, an' live on taters an' cow-fodder, 'fore I'd sell 'em; an' then I give 'em Saturdays for 'emselfs; but thet's cute dealin' in me, (tho' th' pore, simple souls doan't see it,) fur ye knows the' work thet day fur 'emselfs, an' raise nigh all thar own feed, 'cept th' beef and whisky, an' it sort o' makes 'em feel like folks, too, more like as ef the' war free—the' work th' better fur it all th' week.'
'Then you think the blacks would work better if free?'
'In course I does—it's agin man's natur' to be a slave. Thet lousy parson ye herd ter meetin' a Sunday, makes slavery eout a divine institooshun, but my wife's a Bible 'oman, and she says 'tan't so; an' I'm d—d ef she arn't right.'
'Is your wife a South-Carolina woman?'
'No, she an' me's from th' old North—old Car'tret, nigh on ter Newbern—an' we doan't take nat'rally to these fire-eaters.'
'Have you been here long?'
'Wal, nigh on ter six yar. I cum har with nuthin' but a thousan' ter my back, slapped thet inter fifteen hun'red acres, paid it down, and then hired ten likely North-Car'lina niggers, hired 'em with th' chance uv buyin' ef the' liked eout har. Wal, th' nigs all know'd me, and the' sprung ter it like blazes; so every yar I've managed ter buy two on 'em, and now I've ten grow'd up, and thar young uns, th' still and all th' traps paid fur, an' ef this d—d secesh bisness hadn't a come 'long, I'd hev hed a right smart chance o' doin' well.'
'I'm satisfied secession will ruin the turpentine business; you'll be shut up here, unable to sell your produce, and it will go to waste.'
'Thet's my 'pinion; but I reckon I kin manage now witheout turpentine. I've talked it over 'long with my nigs, and we kalkerlate ef these ar doin's go eny furder, ter tap no more trees, but cl'ar land an' go ter raisin' craps.'
'What! do you talk politics with your negroes?'
'Nary a politic; but I'm d—d ef th' critters doan't larn 'em sumhow. The' knows 'bout as much uv what's goin' on as I du; but plantin' arn't politics, it's bisness, an' they've more int'rest in it nor I hev, 'cause they've sixteen mouths ter feed agin my four.'
'I'm glad, my friend, that you treat them like men; but I have supposed they were not well enough informed to have intelligent opinions on such subjects.'
'Informed! wal, I reckon the' is; all uv mine kin read, an' sum on 'em kin write, too. D'ye see that little nig thar?' pointing to a juvenile, coal-black darky of about six years, who was standing before the 'still' fire; 'thet ar little devil kin read an' speak like a parson. He's got hold, sumhow, uv my little gal's book o' pieces, an' larned a dozen on 'em. I make him cum inter th' house, once in a while uv an evenin', an' speechify, an' 'twould do yer soul good ter har him, in his shirt-tail, with a old sheet wound round him fur a toger (I've told him th' play-actors du it so down ter Charles'on,) an' spoutin' out: 'My name am Norval; on de Gruntin' hills my fader feed him hogs!' The little coon never seed a sheep, an' my wife's told him a flock's a herd, an' he thinks 'hog' sounds better'n 'flock,' so, contra'y ter th' book, he puts in 'hogs,' and hogs, you knows, hev ter grunt, so he gits 'em on th' Gruntin' hills;' and here the kind-hearted native burst into a fit of uproarious laughter, in which, in spite of myself, I had to join.
When the merriment had somewhat subsided, the turpentine-maker called out to the little darky:
'Come here, Jim.'
The young chattel ran to him with alacrity, and wedging in between his legs, placed his little black hands in a free-and-easy way on his master's knees, and looking up trustfully in his face, said:
'What's yer name?'
'Dandy Jim, massa.'
'Thet arn't all; what's th'rest?'
'Dandy Jim of ole Car'lina.'
'Who made ye?'
'De good God, massa.'
'No, he didn't; God doan't make little nigs. He makes none but white folks,' said the master, laughing.
'Yas, he'm do; missus say he'm do; dat he make dis nig jess like he done little Totty.'
'Wal, he did, Jim. I'm d—d ef He didn't, fur nobody else cud make ye!' replied the man, patting the little wooly head with undisguised affection.
'Now, Jim, say th' creed fur 'de gem-man.''
The young darky then repeated the Apostles' Creed and the Ten Commandments.
'Is thet all ye knows?'
'No, massa, I knows a heap 'sides dat.'
'Wal, say suthin' more; sum on 'em pieces thet jingle.'
The little fellow then repeated with entire correctness, and with appropriate gestures and emphasis, though in the genuine darky dialect—which seems to be inborn with the pure, Southern black—Mrs. Hemans' poem:
'The boy stood on the burning deck.'
'Mrs. Hemans draped in black!' I exclaimed, laughing heartily; 'How would the good lady feel, could she look down from where she is, and hear a little darky doing up her poetry in that style?'
'D—d ef I doan't b'lieve'twud make her love th' little nig like I do,' replied the corn-cracker, taking him up on his knee as tenderly as he would have taken up his own child.
'Tell me, my little man,' I said, 'who taught you all these things?'
'I lamed 'em myseff, sar,' was the prompt reply.
'You learned them yourself! but who taught you to read?'
'I larned 'em myseff, sar!'
'You couldn't have learned that yourself; didn't your 'massa' teach you?'
'Oh! your 'missus' did?'
'No, sar!' I repeated; then suspecting the real state of the case, I looked him sternly in the eye, and said: 'My little man, it's wrong to tell lies, you must always speak the truth; now, tell me truly, did not your 'missus' teach you these things?'
'No, sar, I larned 'em myseff.'
'Ye can't cum it, stranger; ye moight roast him over a slow fire, an' not git nary a thing eout on him but thet,' said the corn-cracker, leaning forward, and breaking into a boisterous fit of laughter. 'It's agin th' law, an' I'm d—d ef I teached him. Reckon he did larn himself!'
'I must know your wife, my friend. She's a good woman.'
'Good! ye kin bet high on thet; she's uv th' stuff th' Lord makes angels eout on.'
I had no doubt of it, and was about to say so, when the Colonel's turpentine-wagon drove up, and I remembered I had left him too long alone.
The coachman was driving, and Jim sat on the wagon beside him.
'Massa K—,' said the latter, getting down and coming to me, 'Whar am dey?'
'In the spirit-shed.'
He was turning to go there, when I called him back, saying: 'Jim, you must not see your master now; you'd better keep out of sight for the present.'
'No, massa; de ma'am say de Cunnel take dis bery hard, and dat I orter tell him I'se sorry for what I'se done.'
'Well, wait awhile. Let me go in first.'
Accompanied by the corn-cracker, I entered the turpentine-shed. A row of spirit-barrels were ranged along each of its sides, and two tiers occupied the centre of the building. On these a number of loose planks were placed, and on the planks lay the bodies of the metif woman and her child. The Colonel was seated on a barrel near them, with his head resting on his hands, and his eyes fixed on the ground. He did not seem to notice our entrance, and passing him without speaking, I stepped to the side of the dead.
The woman's dress, the common linsey gown worn by her class, was still wet, and her short, kinky, brown hair fell in matted folds around her head. One arm hung loosely by her side; the other was clasped tightly around her child, which lay as if asleep on her bosom. One of its small hands clung to its mother's breast, and around its little lips played a smile. But how shall I describe the pale, sweet beauty of the face of the drowned girl, as she lay there, her eyes closed, and her lips parted, as in prayer? Never but once have I seen on human features the strange radiance that shone upon it, or the mingled expression of hope and peace and resignation that rested there, and that was in the long-gone time when, standing by her bedside, I watched the passing away of one who is now an angel in heaven!
'Come, my dear friend, let us go,' I said, turning and gently taking the Colonel by the arm, 'the negroes are here, and will take charge of the dead.'
'No, no!' he replied, rising and looking around as if aroused from a troubled dream; 'that is for me to do!' Then he added, after a moment's pause, 'Will you help me to get them into the wagon?'
'Yes, I will, certainly.'
He made one step toward the body of the dead girl, then sinking down again on the barrel, covered his face with his hands, and cried out: 'My God! this is terrible! Did you ever see such a look as that? It will haunt me forever!'
'Come, my friend, rouse yourself—this is weakness; you are tired with the long ride and excitement of the past few days. Come, go home; I will look after them.'
'No, no! I must do it. I will be a man again;' and he rose and walked steadily to the dead bodies. 'Is there any one here to help?' he asked.
Jim was standing in the doorway, and I motioned to him to come forward. The great tears were streaming down his face, as he stepped timidly toward his master, and said: 'I'll do dis, massa, don't you trubble yerself no more.'
'It's good of you, Jim. You'll forgive me for being so cruel to you, won't you?' said the Colonel, taking the black by the hand.
'Forgib ye, massa! I war all ter blame; but ye'll forgib me, massa—ye'll forgib me!' cried the black, with strong emotion.
'Yes, yes; but say no more about it. Come, let us get Julie home.'
But the poor girl was already home—home where her sufferings and her sorrows were over, and all her tears were wiped away forever!
We four bore away the mother and the child. A number of blankets were in the bottom of the wagon, and we laid the bodies carefully upon them. When all seemed ready, the Colonel, who was still standing by the side of the dead, turned to my new friend, and said: 'Barnes, will you loan me a pillow? I will send it back to-night.'
'Sartin, Cunnel,' and the farmer soon brought one from the house. Lifting tenderly the head of the drowned girl, the Colonel placed it beneath her, and smoothing back her tangled hair, he gently covered her face with his handkerchief, as if she could still feel his kindness, or longer cared for the pity or the love of mortal. Yet, who knows but that her parted soul, from the high realm to which it had soared, may not then have looked down, have seen that act, and have forgiven him?
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In the first moments of grief the sympathy of friends and the words of consolation bring no relief. How much more harshly do such words grate on the ear when the soul is bowed down by remorse and unavailing regret! Then the wounded spirit finds peace nowhere but with God.
I saw that the Colonel would be alone, and turning to him, as he prepared to follow the strange vehicle which, with its load of death, was already jolting its way over the rough forest road, I said:
'Will you pardon me, if I remain with your friend here for a while? I will be at the mansion before dark.'
'Oh! certainly, my friend; come when you feel disposed,' he replied, and mounting his horse, he was soon out of sight among the trees.
'Now, Barnes,' I said, shaking off the gloomy feelings that had oppressed me; 'come, I must see that wife of yours, and get a glimpse of how you live.'
'Sartin, stranger; come in. I'll give ye th' tallest dinner my 'oman can scare up, an' she's sum pumkins in th' cookin' line;' and he led the way to the farm-house.
As I turned to follow, I slipped a half-dollar into the hand of the darky who was holding my horse, and asked him to put her again into the stable.
'I'll do dat, sar; but I karn't take dis; massa doan't 'low it nohow,' he replied, tendering me back the money.
'Barnes, your negroes have strange ways; I never met one before who'd refuse money.'
'Wal, stranger,'tan't hosspetality to take money on yer friends, and Bill gets all he wants from me.'
I took the silver and gave it to the first darky I met, who happened to be an old centenarian belonging to the Colonel. As I tossed it to him, he grinned out: 'Ah! massa, I'll git sum 'backer wid dis; 'pears like I hadn't nary a chaw in furty yar.' With more than one leg in the grave, the old negro had not lost his appetite for the weed: in fact, that and whisky are the only 'luxuries' ever known to the plantation black.
As we went nearer, I took a closer survey of the farm-house. It was, as I have said, a low, unpainted, wooden building, located in the middle of a ten-acre lot. It was approached by a straight walk, paved with a mixture of sand and tar, similar to that which the reader may have seen in the Champs Elysees. I do not know whether my backwoods friend or the Parisian pavior was the first inventor of this composition; but I am satisfied the corn-cracker had not stolen it from the stone-cracker. The walk was lined with fruit-bearing shrubs, and directly in front of the house were two small flower-beds.
The dwelling itself, though of a dingy-brown wood-color, was neat and inviting. It may have been forty feet square on the ground, and was only a story and a half high; but a projecting roof and a front dormer-window relieved it from the appearance of disproportion. Its gable ends were surmounted by two enormous brick chimneys, carried up on the outside, in the fashion of the South, and its high, broad windows were ornamented with Venetian blinds. Its front door opened directly into the 'living-room,' and at the threshold we met its mistress. As the image of that lady has still a warm place in a pleasant corner of my memory, I will describe her. She was about thirty years of age, and had a fresh, cheerful face. To say that she was handsome, would not be strictly true; though she had that pleasant, gentle, kindly expression that sometimes makes even a homely person seem beautiful. But she was not homely. Her features were regular, her hair glossy and brown, and her eyes black and brilliant, and for their color, the mildest and softest I had ever seen. Her figure was tall, and in its outline somewhat sharp and angular; but she had an ease and grace about her that made one forget she was not molded as softly and roundly as others. She seemed just the woman on whose bosom a tired, worn, over-burdened man might lay his weary head, and find rest and forgetfulness.
She wore a neat calico dress, fitting closely to the neck, and an apron of spotless white muslin. A little lace cap perched cosily on the back of her head, hiding a portion of her wavy, dark hair, and on her feet—a miracle, reader, in one of her class—were stockings and shoes! Giving me her hand—which, at the risk of making her husband jealous, I held for a moment—she said, making a gentle courtesy:
'Ye ar welcome, stranger.'
'I sincerely thank you, madam; I am a stranger in these parts.'
She tendered me a chair; while her husband opened a sideboard, and brought forth a box of Havanas and a decanter of Scuppernong. As I took the proffered seat, he offered me the refreshments. I drank the lady's health in the wine, but declined the cigars. Seeing this, she remarked:
'Yer from th' North, sir, arn't ye?'
'Yes, madam, I live in New-York; but I was born in New-England.'
'I reckoned so; I knew ye didn't belong in Car'lina.'
'How did you know that, madam?' I asked, laughing.
'I seed ye doan't smoke 'fore wimmin. But ye mustn't mind me; I sort o' likes it; it's a great comfut to John, and may be it ar to ye.'
'Well, I do relish a good cigar; but I never smoke before any lady except my wife, and though she's only 'a little lower than the angels,' she does, once in a while, say it's a shame to make the house smell like a tobacco-factory.'
Barnes handed me the box again, and I took one. As I was lighting it, he said:
'Ye've got a good 'oman, hev ye?'
'There's none better; at least, I think so.'
'Wal, I'm 'zactly uv thet 'pinion 'bout mine; I wouldn't trade her fur all this worle an' th' best half uv t'other.'
'Don't ye talk so, John,' said the lady. Then addressing me, she added: 'It's a good husband thet makes a good wife, sir.'
'Sometimes, madam, but not always, I've known some of the best of wives who had miserable husbands.'
'An' I'm d—d ef I made my wife th' 'oman she ar',' said the corn-cracker.
'Hush, John, ye mustn't swar so; ye knows how often ye've said ye wouldn't.'
'Wal, I du, an' I won't agin, by—.' But Sukey, whar's th' young uns?'
'Out in the lot, I reckon; but ye mustn't holler'm in—they'r all dirt.'
'No matter for that, madam,' I said, 'dirt is healthy for little ones; rolling in the mud makes them grow.'
'Then ourn orter grow right smart, fur they'r in it allers.'
'How many have you, madam?'
'Two; a little boy, four, and a little gal, six.'
'They're of interesting ages.'
'Yas, the' is int'restin'; ev'ry uns own chil'ren is smart; but the' does know a heap. John was off ter Charl'ston no great while back, an' the little boy used ter pray ev'ry mornin' an' ev'nin' fur his fader ter cum hum. I larned 'em thet jest so soon as the' talked, 'cause thar's no tellin' how quick the' moight be tooken 'way. Wal, the little feller prayed ev'ry mornin' an' ev'nin' fur his fader ter cum back, and John didn't cum; so finarly he got sort o' provoked with th' Lord, an' he said God war aither deaf an' couldn't har or he war naughty an' wouldn't tell fader thet little Johnny wanted to seed 'im 'werry mooch,'' and here the good lady laughed pleasantly, and I joined in most heartily.
Blessed are the children that have such a mother!
Soon the husband returned with the little girl and boy and four young ebonies, all bare-headed and all dressed alike, in thick trowsers and a loose linsey shirt. Among them was my new acquaintance, 'Dandy Jim, of ole Car'lina.'
The little girl came to me, and soon I had two white children on one knee and two black on the other, with Dandy Jim between my legs, playing with my watchchain. The family made no distinction between the colors, and as the children were all equally clean, I did not see why I should do so.
The lady renewed the conversation by remarking: 'P'raps ye reckon it's quar, sir, that we 'low ourn to 'sociate 'long with th' black chil'ren; but we karn't help it. On big plantations, it works sorry bad, fur th' white young uns larn all manner of evil from the black uns; but I've laboored ter teach ourn so one won't do no harm ter t'other.'
'I suppose, madam, that is one of the greatest evils of slavery. The low black poisons the mind of the white child, and the bad influence lasts through life.'
'Yas, it's so, stranger; an' it's the biggest keer I hev. It often 'pears strange ter me thet our grow'd up men arn't no wuss than the' is.'
In those few words, that unlettered woman had said what would—if men were but wise enough to hear and heed the great truth which she spoke—banish slavery from this continent forever!
After a while, the farmer told the juvenile delineator of Mrs. Hemans and the other poets to give us a song; and planting himself in the middle of the floor, the little darky sang 'Dixie' and several other negro songs, which his master had taught him, but into which he had introduced some amusing variations of his own. The other children joined in the choruses; and then Jim danced breakdowns, 'walk-along-Joes,' and other darky dances, his master accompanying him on a cracked fiddle, till my sides were sore with laughter, and the hostess begged them to stop. Finally the clock struck twelve, and the farmer, going to the door, gave a long, loud blast on a cow's horn. In about five minutes, one after another of the field hands came in, till the whole ten had seated themselves on the verandah. Each carried a bowl, a tin-cup, or a gourd, into which my host—who soon emerged from a back room with a pail of whisky in his hand—poured a gill of the beverage. This was the day's allowance, and the farmer, in answer to a question of mine, told me he thought negroes were healthier and worked better for a small quantity of alcohol daily. 'The' work hard, and salt feed doan't set 'em up 'nough,' was his remark.
Meanwhile the hostess busied herself with preparations for dinner, and it was soon spread on a bright cherry table, covered by a spotless white cloth. The little darkies had scattered to the several cabins, and we soon sat down to as good a meal as I ever ate at the South.
We were waited on by a tidy negro woman, neatly clad in a calico gown, with shoes on her feet, and a flaming red and yellow kerchief on her head. This last was worn in the form of a turban, and one end escaping from behind and hanging down her back, it looked for all the world like a flag hung out from a top turret. Observing it, my host said:
'Aggy—showin' yer colors? Ye'r Union gal—hey?'
'Yas, I is dat, massa; Union ter de back-bone,' responded the negress, grinning widely.
'All th' Union ye knows on,' replied the master, winking slyly at me, 'is th' union yer goin' ter hitch up 'long with black Cale over ter Squire Taylor's.'
'No, 'tan't, massa; takes more'n tu ter make de Union.'
'Yas, I knows; it gin'rally takes ten or a dozen: reckon it'll take a dozen with ye.'
'John, ye mustn't talk so ter th' sarvents; it spiles 'em,' said his wife.
'No it doan't; do it, Aggy?'
'Lor', missus, I doan't keer what massa say; but I doan't leff no oder man run on so ter me!'
'No more'n ye doan't, gal! only Cale.'
'Nor him, massa; I makes him stan' 'roun', I reckon.'
'I reckon ye du; ye wudn't be yer massa's gal ef ye didn't.'
When the meal was over, I visited with my host the negro houses. The hour allowed for dinner was about expiring, and the darkies were preparing to return to the field. Entering one of the cabins, where were two stout negro men and a woman, my host said to them, with a perfectly serious face:
'Har, boys, I've fetched ye a live Yankee ab'lishener; now, luk at 'im all roun'. Did ye ever see sech a critter?'
'Doan't see nuffin' quar in dat gemman, massa,' replied one of the blacks. 'Him 'pears like bery nice gemman; doan't 'pear like ab'lishener;' and he laughed and scraped his head in the manner peculiar to the negro, as he added: 'Kinder reckon he wudn't be har ef he war one of dem.'
'What der ye knows 'bout th' ab'lisheners? Ye never seed one; what d'ye 'spose the' luk like?'
'Dey say dey luk likes de bery ole debil, massa; but reckon 'tan't so.'
'Wal, the' doan't; the' luk wuss then thet; they'm bottled up thunder an' lightnin', an' ef the' cum down har, they'll chaw ye all ter hash.'
'I reckon!' replied the darky, manipulating his wool and distending his face into a decidedly incredulous grin.
'What do you tell them such things for?' I asked good-humoredly.
'Lor' bless ye, stranger, the' knows th' ab'lisheners ar thar friends, jest so well as ye du; and so fur as thet goes, d—d ef the' doan't know I'm one on 'em myseff, fur I tells 'em ef the' want to put the' kin put, an' I'll throw thar trav'lin 'spenses inter th' bargin. Doan't I tell ye thet, Lazarus?'
'Yas, massa; but none ob massa's nigs am gwine ter put—lesswise, not so long as you an' de good missus am 'bove groun'.'
The darky's name struck me as peculiar, and I asked him where he got it.
''Tan't my name, sar; but you see, sar, w'en massa fuss hire me ob ole Capt'in ——, up dar ter Newbern-way, I war sort o' sorry like—hadn't no bery good cloes—an' massa he den call me Lazarus, 'case he say I war all ober rags and holes, an' it hab sort o' stuck ter me eber sense. I war a'mighty bad off 'fore dat, but w'en I cum down har I gets inter Abr'am's buzzum, I does,' and here the darky actually reeled on his seat with laughter.
'Is this woman your wife?' I asked.
'No, sar; my wife 'longs to Cunnel J——; dat am my new wife—my ole wife am up dar whar I cum from.'
'What! have you two wives?'
'Yas, massa, I'se two.'
'But that's contrary to Scripture?'
'No, sar; de Cunnel say 'tan't. He say in Scriptur' dey hab a heap ob 'em, and dat niggers kin hab jess so many as dey likes—a hun'red ef dey want ter.'
'Does the Colonel teach that to his negroes?' I asked, turning to the native.
'Yas, I reckon he do, an' sits 'em th' 'zample, too,' he replied, laughing; 'but th' old sinner knows better'n thet; he kin read.'
'Do you find that in the Bible, Lazarus?'
'Yas, massa, whar I reads it. Dat's whar it tell 'bout David and Sol'mon and all em—dey hab a heap ob wives. A pore ole darky karn't hab nuffin' 'sides dem, an' he orter be 'low'd jess so many as he likes.'
Laughing at the reasoning of the negro, I asked:
'How would you like it, if your wife over at Colonel J——'s had as many husbands as she liked?'
'Wal, I couldn't fine no fault, massa; an' I s'pose she do, dough I doan't knows it, 'case I'se dar only Sundays.'
'Have you any children?'
'Yas, sar, Ise free 'longin' ter de Cunnel, an' four or five—I doan't 'zactly know—up ter hum; but dey'se grow'd up.'
'Is your wife up there married again?'
'Yas, massa, she got anoder man jess w'en I cum 'way; har ole massa make har do it.'
We then left the cabin, and when out of hearing of the blacks, I said to the corn-cracker: 'That may be Scripture doctrine, but I have not been taught so.'
'Scriptur' or no Scriptur', stranger, it's d——d heathenism,' replied the farmer, who, take him all in all, is a superior specimen of the class of small planters at the South; and yet, seeing polygamy practiced by his own slaves, he made no effort to prevent it. He told me that if he should object to his darky cohabiting with the Colonel's negress, it would be regarded as unneighborly, and secure him the enmity of the whole district! And still we are told that slavery is a divine institution!
After this, we strolled off into the woods, where the hands were at work.
They were all stout, healthy, and happy-looking, and in answer to my comments on their appearance, the native said that the negroes on the turpentine-farms are always stronger and longer-lived than those on the rice and cotton-fields. Unless carried off by the fevers incident to the climate, they generally reach a good old age, while the rice-negro seldom lives to be over forty, and the cotton-slave very rarely attains sixty. Cotton-growing, however, my host thought, is not, in itself, much more unhealthy than turpentine-gathering, though cotton-hands work in the sun, while the turpentine-slaves labor altogether in the shade.
'But,' he said, 'the' work 'em harder nor we does, an' doan't feed 'em so well. We give ourn meat and whisky ev'ry day, but them articles is skarse 'mong th' cotton blacks, an' th' rice niggers never get 'em excep' ter Christmas-time, an' thet cums but onst a yar.'
'Do you think the white could labor as well as the black, on the rice and cotton-fields?' I asked.
'Yas, an' better—better any whar; but, in coorse, 'tain't natur' fur black nor white ter stand long a workin' in th' mud and water up ter thar knees; sech work would kill off th' very devil arter a while. But th' white kin stand it longer nor the black, and it's 'cordin' ter reason that he shud; for, I reckon, stranger, that the spirit and pluck uv a man hev a durned sight ter du with work. They'll hole a man up when he's clean down, an' how kin we expec' thet th' pore nig, who's nary a thing ter work fur, an who's been kept under an' 'bused ever sense Adam was a young un'—how kin we expec' he'll work like men thet own 'emselfs, an' whose faders hev been free ever sense creation? I reckon that the parient has a heap ter du with makin' th' chile. He puts the sperit inter 'im: doan't we see it in hosses an' critters an' sech like? It mayn't crap eout ter onst, but it's shore ter in th' long run, and thet's th' way th' black han't no smarter nor he is. He's been a-ground down an' kept under fur so long thet it'll take more'n 'un gin'ration ter bring him up. 'Tan't his fault thet he's no more sperit, an' p'raps 'tan't ourn—thet is, them on us as uses 'em right—but it war the fault uv yer fader an' mine—yer fader stole 'em, and mine bought 'em, an' the' both made cattle uv 'em.'
'But I had supposed the black was better fitted by nature for hard labor, in a hot climate, than the white.'
'Wal, he arn't, an' I knows it. Th' d——d parsons an' pol'tishuns say thet, but 'tan't so. I kin do half agin more work in a day then th' best nig I've got, an' I've dun it, tu, time an' agin, an' it didn't hurt me nuther. Ye knows ef a man hev a wife and young 'uns 'pendin' on him, an' arn't much 'forehanded, he'll work like th' devil. I've dun it, an' ye hev ef ye war ever put ter it; but th' nigs, why, the' han't got no wives and young 'uns ter work fur—the law doan't 'low 'em ter have any—the' han't nary a thing but thar carcasses, an' them's thar masters'.'
'You say a man works better for being free; then you must think 'twould be well to free the negroes.'
'In coorse, I does. Jest luk at them nigs o' mine; they're ter all 'tents an' purposes free, 'case I use 'em like men, an' the' knows the' kin go whenever the' d——d please. See how the' work—why, one on 'em does half as much agin as ony hard-driv' nigger in creation.'
'What would you do with them, if they were really free?'
'Du with 'em? why, hire 'em, an' make twice as much eout on 'em as I does now.'
'But I don't think the two races were meant to live together.'
'No more'n the' warn't. But 'tan't thar fault thet they's har. We han't no right to send 'em off. We orter stand by our'n an' our faders' doin's. The nig keers more fur his hum, so durned pore as it ar', then ye or I does fur our'n. I'd pack sech off ter Libraria or th' devil, as wanted ter go, but I'd hev no 'pulsion 'bout it.'
'Why, my good friend, you're half-brother to Garrison. You don't talk to your neighbors in this way?'
'Wal, I doan't;' he replied, laughing. 'Ef I dun it, they'd treat me to a coat uv tar, and ride me out uv th' deestrict raather sudden, I reckon; but yer a Nuthener, an' the' all take nat'rally ter freedum, excep' th' d——d doughfaces, an' ye aren't one on 'em, I'll swar.'
'Well, I'm not. Do many of your neighbors think as you do?'
'Reckon not many round har; but up in Cart'ret, whar I cum from, heaps on 'em do, though the' darn't say so.'
By this time we had reached the still, and directing his attention to the enormous quantity of rosin that had been run into the pit which I have spoken of, I asked him why he threw so much valuable material away.
'Wal, 'tan't wuth nothin' har. Thet's th' common, an' it won't bring in York, now, more'n a dollar forty-five. It costs a dollar an' two bits ter get it thar an' pay fur sellin on it, an' th' barr'l's wuth the difference. I doan't ship nuthin wuss no No. 2.'
'What is No. 2?'
He took the head from one of the barrels, and with an adze cut out a small piece, then handing me the specimen, replied:
'Now hole thet up ter th' sun. Ye'll see though it's yaller, its clean and clar. Thet's good No. 2, what brings now two dollars an' two bits in New-York, an' pays me 'bout a dollar a barr'l; it's got eout o' second yar dip, an' as it comes eout uv th' still, is run through thet ar strainer,' pointing to a coarse wire-sieve that lay near. 'Th' common rosum, thet th' still's runnin' on now, is made eout on th' yaller dip—thet's th' kine o' turpentine thet runs from th' tree arter two yar's tappin'—we call it yallar dip 'case it's allers dark. We doan't strain common 'tall, an' it's full uv chips and dirt. It's low now, but ef it shud ever git up, I'd tap thet ar' heap, barr'l it up, run a little fresh-stilled inter it, an' 'twould be a'most so good as new.'
'Then it is injured by being in the ground.'
'Not much; it's jest as good fur ev'ry thing but makin' ile, puttin' it in the 'arth sort o' takes th' sap eout on it, an' th' sap's th' ile. Natur' sucks thet eout, I s'pose, ter make th' trees grow—I expec' my bones 'ill fodder 'em one on these days.'
'Rosin is put to very many uses.'
'Yes, but common's used mainly for ile and soap; th' Yankees put it inter hard yaller soap, 'case it makes it weigh, an' yer folks is up ter them doin's, and he looked at me and gave a sly laugh. I could not deny the 'hard' impeachment, and said nothing. Taking a specimen of very clear light-colored rosin from a shelf in the still-house, I asked him what that quality was worth.
'Thet ar brought seven dollars for two hundred an' eighty pounds in York, airly this yar. It's th' very best No. 1; an' it's hard ter make, 'case ef th' still gets overhet it turns it a tinge. Thet sort is run through two sieves, the coarse 'un, an' thet ar,' pointing to another wire strainer, the meshes of which were as fine as those of the flour-sieve used by housewives.
'Do your seven field-hands produce enough 'dip' to keep your still a running?'
'No, I buys th' rest uv my naboors who han't no stills; an' th' Cunnel's down on me 'case I pay 'em more'n he will; but I go on Franklin's princerpel: 'A nimble sixpence's better'n a slow shillin'. A great ole feller thet, warn't he? I've got his life.'
'And you practice on his precepts; that's the reason you've got on so well.'
'Yas, thet an' hard knocks. The best o' doctrins arn't wuth a d——n ef ye doan't work on 'em.'
'That is true.'
We shortly afterward went to the house, and there I passed several hours in conversation with my new friend and his excellent wife. The lady, after a while, showed me over the building. It was well-built, well-arranged, and had many conveniences I did not expect to find in a backwoods dwelling. She told me its timbers and covering were of well-seasoned yellow pine—which will last for centuries—and that it was built by a Yankee carpenter, whom they had ''ported' from Charleston, paying his fare, and giving him his living and two dollars and a half a day. It had cost as near as she 'cud reckon, 'bout two thousan' dollars.'
It was five o'clock, when, shaking them warmly by the hand, I bade my pleasant friends 'good-by,' and mounting my horse rode off to the Colonel's.
The family were at supper when I returned to the mansion, and, entering the room, I took my accustomed place at the table. None present seemed disposed to conversation. The little that was said was spoken in a low, subdued tone, and no allusion was made to the startling event of the day. At last the octoroon woman asked me if I had met Mrs. Barnes at the farmer's.
'Yes,' I replied, 'and I was greatly pleased with her. She seems one of those rare women who would lend grace to even the lowest station.'
'She is a rare woman; a true, sincere Christian. Every one loves her; but few know all her worth; only those do who have gone to her in sorrow and trial, as——' and her voice trembled, and her eyes moistened—— 'as I have.'
And so that poor, outcast, despised, dishonored woman, scorned and cast off by all the world, had found one sympathizing, pitying friend. Truly, 'He tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.'
When the meal was over, all but Madam P—— retired to the library. Tommy and I fell to reading, but the Colonel shortly rose and continued pacing up and down the apartment till the clock sounded eight. The lady then entered, and said to him:
'The negroes are ready, David; will you go, Mr. K——?'
'I think not, madam,' I replied; 'at least not now.'
I continued reading, for a time, when, tiring of the book, I laid it down, and followed them to the little burial-ground.
The grave of Sam was open, and the plantation blacks were gathered around it. In the centre of the group, and at the head of the rude coffin, the Colonel was seated, and near him the octoroon woman and her son. The old preacher was speaking.
'My chil'ren,' he said, 'she hab gone ter Him, wid har chile—gone up dar, whar dey doan't sorrer no more, whar dey doan't weep no more, whar all tears am wiped from dar eyes foreber. I knows she lay han's on harseff, and dat, my chil'ren, am whot none ob us shud do, 'case we'm de Lord's; he put us har, an' he'll take us 'way when we's fru wid our work, not afore. We hab no right ter gwo afore. Pore Juley did—but p'raps she cudn't help it. P'raps de great sorrer war so big in har heart, dat she cudn't fine rest nowhar but in de cole, dark riber. P'raps she warn't ter blame—p'raps,' and here his eyes filled—'p'raps ole Pomp war all ter blame, fur I tole har, my chil'ren'—he could say no more, and sinking down on a rude seat, he covered his face, and sobbed audibly. Even the Colonel's strong frame heaved with emotion, and not a dry eye was near. After a time the old man rose again, and with streaming eyes, and upturned face, continued:
'Dar's One up dar, my chil'ren, dat say: 'Come unter me, all ye dat am weary an' a heaby laden, an' I will gib you ress.' He, de good Lord, he say dat; an' p'raps Juley hard him say it, an' dat make har gwo.' Again his voice failed, and he sank down, weeping and moaning as if his heart would break.
A pause followed, when the Colonel rose, and aided by Jim and two other blacks, with his own hands nailed down the lid, and lowered the rude coffin into the ground. Then the earth was thrown upon it, and then the long, low chant which the negroes raise over the dead, mingling now with sobs and moans, and breaking into a strange wild wail, went up among the pines, and floating off on the still night air, echoed through the dark woods, till it sounded like music from the grave. I have been in the chamber of the dying; I have seen the young and the beautiful laid away in the earth; but I never felt the solemn awfulness of death as I did when, in the stillness and darkness of night, I listened to the wild grief of that negro group, and saw the bodies of that slave mother and her child, lowered to their everlasting rest by the side of Sam.
The morning broke bright and mellow with the rays of the winter sun, which in Carolina lends the warmth of October to the chills of January, when, with my portmanteau strapped, and my thin overcoat on my arm, I gave my last 'God bless you' to the octoroon woman, and turned my face toward home.
Jim shouted, 'All ready,' the driver cracked his whip, and we were on our way to Georgetown.
The recent rains had hardened the roads, the bridges were repaired, and we were whirled rapidly forward, and at one o'clock reached Bucksville. There we met a cordial welcome, and remained to dinner. Our host pressed us to pass the night at his house, but the Colonel had business with one of his secession friends residing down the road—my wayside acquaintance, Colonel A——, and desired to stay over night with him. At three o'clock, bidding a kindly farewell to Captain B—— and his excellent family, we were again on our way.
The sun was just sinking among the western pines, when we turned into a broad avenue, lined with stately old trees, and rode up to the doorway of the rice-planter. It was a large, square, dingy old house, seated on a gentle knoll, a short half-mile from the river, along whose banks stretched the rice-fields. We entered, and were soon welcomed by its proprietor.
He received my friend warmly, and gave me a courteous greeting, remarking, when I mentioned that I was homeward bound, that it was wise to go. 'Things are very unsettled; there's no telling what a day may bring forth; feeling is running very high, and a Northern man, whatever his principles, is not safe here. By the way,' he added, 'did you not meet with some little obstruction at Conwayboro, on your way up?'
'Yes, I did; a person there ordered me back, but when things began to look serious, Scipio, the negro whom you saw with me, got me out of the hobble.'
'Didn't he tell the gentleman that you were a particular friend of mine, and had met me by appointment at Captain B——'s?' he asked, smiling.
'I believe he did, sir; but I assure you, I said nothing of the kind, and I think the black should not be blamed, under the circumstances.'
'Oh! no; I don't blame him. I think he did a smart thing. He might have said you were my grandmother, if it would have served you, for that low fellow is as fractious as the devil, and dead sure on the trigger.'
'You are very good, sir,' I replied; 'how did you hear of it?'
'A day or two afterward, B—— passed here on his way to Georgetown. I had been riding out, and happened to be at the head of my avenue when he was going by. He stopped, and asked if I knew you. Not knowing then the circumstances, I said that I had met you casually at Bucksville, but had no particular acquaintance with you. He rode on, saying nothing further. The next morning I had occasion to go to Georgetown, and at Mr. Fraser's office accidentally heard that Scip—who is well known and universally liked there—was to have a public whipping that evening. Something prompted me to inquire into it, and I was told that he had been charged by B—— with shielding a well-known abolitionist at Conwayboro—a man who was going through the up-country distributing such damnable publications as the New-York Independent and Tribune. I knew, of course, it referred to you, and that it wasn't true. I went to Scip and got the facts, and by stretching the truth a little, finally got him off. There was a slight discrepancy between my two accounts of you,' (and here he laughed heartily,) 'and B——, when we were before the Justice, remarked on it, and came d——d near calling me a liar. It was lucky he didn't, for if he had he'd gone to h——l before the place was hot enough for him.'
'I can not tell you, my dear sir, how grateful I am to you for this. It would have pained me more than I can express, if Scip had suffered for doing a disinterested kindness to me.'
Early in the morning we were again on our way, and twelve o'clock found us seated at a dinner of bacon, corn-bread, and waffles, in the 'first hotel' of Georgetown. The Charleston boat was to leave at three o'clock; and, as soon as dinner was over, I sallied out to find Scip. After a half-hour's search I found him on 'Shackelford's wharf,' engaged in loading a schooner bound for New-York with a cargo of cotton and turpentine.
He was delighted to see me, and after I told him I was going home, and might never see him again, I took his hand warmly in mine, and said:
'Scip, I have heard of the disgrace that was near being put upon you on my account, and I feel deeply the disinterested service you did to me; now, I can not go away without doing something for you—showing you in some way that I appreciate and like you.'
'I likes you, massa,' he replied, the tears coming to his eyes; 'I tuk ter you de bery fuss day I seed you, 'case, I s'pose'—and he wrung my hand till it ached—'you pitied de pore brack man. But you karnt do nuffin fur me, massa; I doan't want nuffin; I doan't want ter leab har, 'case de Lord dat put me har arn't willin' I shud gwo. But you kin do suffin, massa, fur de pore brack man, an' dat'll be doin' it fur me, 'case my heart am all in dat. You kin tell dem folks up dar, whar you lib, massa, dat we'm not like de brutes, as dey tink we is. Dat we's got souls, an' 'telligence, an' feelin's, an' am men like demselfs. You kin tell 'em, too, massa—'case you's edication, and kin talk—how de pore wite man am kep' down har; how he'm ragged, an' starvin', an' ob no account, 'case de brack man am a slave. How der chil'ren can't get no schulein', how eben de grow'd-up ones doan't know nuffin—not eben so much as de pore brack slave, 'case de 'stockracy want dar votes, an cudn't get 'em ef dey 'low'd 'em larnin'. Ef your folks know'd all de truf—ef dey know'd how boff de brack an' de pore w'ite man, am on de groun', an' can't git up, ob demselfs—dey'd do suffin—dey'd break de Constertution—dey'd do suffin ter help us. I doan't want no one hurted, I doan't want no one wronged; but jess tink ob it, massa, four million ob bracks, an' nigh so many pore w'ites, wid de bressed Gospil shinin' down on 'em, an' dey not knowin' on it. All dem—ebry one ob 'em—made in de image ob de great God, an' dey driven roun' an' 'bused wuss dan de brutes. You's seed dis, massa, wid your own eyes, an' you kin tell 'em on it; an' you will tell 'em on it, massa;' and again he took my hand while the tears rolled down his cheeks; 'an' Scip will bress you fur it, massa—wid his bery lass breaf he'll bress you; an' de good Lord will bress you, too, massa; he will foreber bress you, for he'm on de side ob de pore an' de 'flicted; his own book say dat, an' it am true, I knows it, fur I feels it har;' and he laid his hand on his heart, and was silent.
I could not speak for a moment. When I mastered my feelings, I said: 'I will do it Scip; as God gives me strength, I will.'
Reader, I am keeping my word.
This is not a work of fiction. It is a record of facts, and therefore the reader will not expect me to dispose of its various characters on artistic principles—that is, lay them away in one of those final receptacles for the creations of the romancer—the grave and matrimony. Death has been among them, but nearly all are yet doing their work in this breathing, busy world.
The characters I have introduced are real. They are not drawn with the pencil of fancy, nor, I trust, colored with the tints of prejudice. The scenes I have described are true. I have taken some liberties with the names of persons and places, and, in a few instances, altered dates; but the events themselves occurred under my own observation. No one acquainted with the section of country I have described, or familiar with the characters I have delineated, will question this statement. Lest some one who has not seen the slave and the poor white man of the South, as he actually is, should deem my picture overdrawn, I will say that 'the half has not been told!' If the whole were related—if the Southern system, in all its naked ugliness, were fully exposed—the truth would read like fiction, and the baldest relation of fact like the wildest dream of romance.
* * * * *
The overseer was never taken. A letter which I received from Colonel J——, shortly prior to the stoppage of the mails, informed me that Moye had succeeded in crossing the mountains into Tennessee, where, in an interior town, he disposed of the horse, and then made his way by an inland route to the free States. The horse the Colonel had recovered, but the overseer he never expected to see. Moye is now, no doubt, somewhere in the North, and is probably at this present writing a zealous Union man, of somewhat the same 'stripe' as the conductors of the New-York Herald and the Boston Courier.
I have not heard directly from Scipio, but one day last July, after a long search, I found on one of the wharves of South street a coasting captain who knew him well, and who had seen him the month previous at Georgetown. He was at that time pursuing his usual avocations, and was as much respected and trusted as when I met him.
A few days after the tidings of the fall of Sumter were received in New-York, and when I had witnessed the spontaneous and universal uprising of the North which followed that event, I dispatched letters to several of my Southern friends, giving them as near as I could an account of the true state of feeling here, and representing the utter madness of the course the South was pursuing. One of these letters went to my Union acquaintance whom I have called, in the preceding pages, 'Andy Jones.'
He promptly replied, and a pretty regular correspondence ensued between us, which has continued, at intervals, even since the suspension of intercourse between the North and the South.
Andy has stood firmly and nobly by the old flag. At the risk of every thing, he has boldly expressed his sentiments every where. With his life in his hand and—a revolver in each of his breeches-pockets, he walked the streets of Wilmington when the secession fever was at its hight, openly proclaiming his undying loyalty to the Union, and 'no man dared gainsay him.'
But with all his patriotism, Andy keeps a bright eye on the 'main chance.' Like his brother, the Northern Yankee, whom he somewhat resembles and greatly admires, he never omits an opportunity of 'turning an honest penny.' In defiance of custom-house regulations and of our strict blockade, he has carried on a more or less regular traffic with New-York and Boston (via Halifax and other neutral ports) ever since North-Carolina seceded. His turpentine, while it was still his property, has been sold in the New-York market, under the very eyes of the government officials, and, honest reader, I have known of it.
By various roundabout means, I have recently received letters from him. His last, dated in April, and brought to a neutral port by a shipmaster whom he implicitly trusts, has reached me since the previous chapters were written. It covers six pages of foolscap, and is written in defiance of all grammatical and orthographical principles; but as it conveys important intelligence in regard to some of the persons mentioned in this narrative, I will transcribe a portion of it.
It gave me the melancholy tidings of the death of Colonel J——. He had joined the Confederate army, and fell, bravely meeting a charge of the Massachusetts troops, at Roanoke.
On receiving the news of his friend's death, Andy rode over to the plantation, and found Madam P—— plunged in the deepest grief. While he was there, a letter arrived from Charleston, with intelligence of the dangerous illness of her son. This second blow crushed her. For several days she was delirious and her life despaired of; but throughout the whole, the noble corn-cracker, neglecting every thing, remained beside her.
When she returned to herself, and had in a measure recovered her strength, she learned that the Colonel had left no will; that she was still a slave, and soon to be sold, with the rest of the Colonel's personal property, according to law.
This is what Andy writes about the affair. I give the letter as he wrote it, merely correcting the punctuation and enough of the spelling to make it intelligible:
'W'en I hard thet th' Cunnel hadent leff no wil, I was hard put what ter dew; but arter thinkin' on it over a spell, I knowed shede har on it sumhow; so I 'cluded to tell har miseff. She tuk on d——d hard at fust, but arter a bit, grew more calm like, and then she sed it war God's wil, an' she wudent komplane. Ye knows I've got a wife, but w'en the ma'am sed thet, she luk'd so like an angel, thet d——d eff I cud help puttin' my arms round har, an' huggin' on har, till she a'moste screeched. Wal, I toled har I'd stan' by har, eff evrithing went ter h——l, an' I wil, by——.
'I made up mi minde to onst what ter dew. It war darned harde work tur bee 'way from hum jess then, but I war in fur it; soe I put ter Charleston, ter see th' Cunnel's 'oman. Wal, I seed har, an' I toled har how th' ma'am felte, an' how mutch shede dun at makein' th' Cunnel's money, (she made nigh th' hul on it, 'case he war alers keerles, an' tuk no 'count uv things; eff 't'aden't been fur thet, hede made a wil,) an' I axed har ter see thet the ma'am had free papers ter onst. An' whot der ye s'poze she sed? Nuthin', by ——, 'cept she dident no nuthin' 'bout bisniss, an' leff all uv sech things ter har loryer. Wal, then I went ter him—he ar one on them slick, ily, seceshun houn's who'd sell thar soles fur a kountterfit dollar—an' he toled me th' 'ministratur hadent sot yit, an' he cudent dew nuthin' till he hed. Ses I: 'Ye mean th' 'oman's got ter gwo ter th' hi'est bider?' 'Yas,' he sed, 'the Cunnel's got dets, an' the've got ter bee pade, an' th' persoonal prop'ty muste bee sold ter dew it.' Then I sed, 'twud bee sum time 'fore thet war dun, an' the 'oman's 'most ded an uv no use now; 'what'll ye hire har tur me fur.' He said a hun'red fur sicks months. I planked down the money ter onst, an' put off.
'I war bilin' over, but it sumhow cum inter my hed thet the Cunnel's 'oman cudn't bee all stun; so I gose thar agin, an' I toled har what the loryer sed, an' made a reg'lar stump-'peal tew har bettur natur. I axed har ef she'd leff the 'oman who'd made har husban's fortun', who war the muther uv his chil'ren, who fur twenty yar hed nussed him in sickness an' cheered him in healtf, ef shede let thet 'oman bee auckyund off ter th' hi'est bider. I axed al thet, an' what der ye think she sed? Why, jest this. 'I doan't no nuthin' 'bout it, Mister Jones. Ye raily must talke ter mi loryer; them matters I leaves 'tirely ter him.' Then I sed I s'posed the niggers war ter bee advertist. 'O yas!' she sed, (an' ye see she know'd a d——d site 'bout thet,) 'all on 'em muss bee solde, 'case ye knows I never did luv the kuntry; 'sides I cuden't karry on the plantashun, no how.' Then sed I: 'The Orleans traders 'ill be thar, an' she wun't sell fur but one use, fur she's hansum yit; an' ma'am, ye wun't leff a 'oman as white as you is, who fur twenty yar hes ben a tru an' fatheful wife tar yer own ded husban', (I shudn't hev put thet in, but d——d ef I cud help it,) ye wun't put har up on the block, an' hev har struck down ter the hi'est bider, ter bee made a d——d —— on?'
'Wal, I s'pose she haden't forgot thet fur more'n twelve yar the Cunnel hed luv'd t'other 'oman an' onely liked har; fur w'en I sed thet, har ize snapped like h——l, an' she screetched eout thet she dident 'low no sech wurds in har hous', an' ordurd me ter leave. Mitey sqeemish thet, warn't it? bein' as shede been fur so mony yar the Cunnel's ——, an' th' tuther one his raal wife.
'Wal, I did leav'; but I leff a piece of mi mind ahind. I toled har I'de buy thet ar 'oman ef she cost all I war wuth and I had ter pawne my sole ter git the money; an' I added, jest by way uv sweet'nin' the pill, thet I owed all I hed ter har husband, an' dident furget my dets ef she did hern, an' ef his own wife disgraced him, I'd be d——d ef I wud.
'Wal, I've got th' ma'am an' har boy ter hum, an' my 'oman hes tuk ter har a heep. I doan't no w'en the sale's ter cum off, but ye may bet hi' on my bein' thar, an' I'll buy har ef I hev ter go my hull pile on har, an' borrer th' money fur ole Pomp. But he'll go cheap, 'case the Cunnel's deth nigh dun him up. It clean killed Ante Lucey. She never held her hed up arter she heerd 'Masser Davy' war ded, fur she sot har vary life on him. Don't ye feel consarned 'bout the ma'am—I knows ye sot hi' on har. I'll buy har shore. Thet an' deth ar th' onely things thet I knows on, in this world, jess now, that ar SARTIN.'
Such is Andy's letter. Misspelled and profane though it be, I would not alter a word or a syllable of it. It deserves to be written in characters of gold and hung up in the sky, where it might be read by all the world. And it is written in the sky—in the great record book—and it will be read when you and I, reader, meet the assembled universe, to give account of what we have done and written. God grant that our record may show some such deed as that!
[Footnote 1: The whisky was kept in a back room, above ground, because the dwelling had no cellar. The fluid was kept safely under lock and key, and the farmer accounted for that by saying that his negroes would steal nothing but whisky. Few country houses at the South have a cellar—that apartment deemed so essential by Northern housekeepers. The intervening space between the ground and the floor is there left open, to allow of a free circulation of air.]
[Footnote 2: No regular dinner-hour is allowed the blacks on most turpentine-plantations. Their food is usually either taken with them to the woods or carried there by house-servants, at stated times.]
The right to poison bullets, The right to rifle graves, To cut our prisoners' gullets, Or treat them like our slaves; The right to use the savage To aid us in our fight, To freely scalp and ravage, Each is a Southern right. Call not these claims Satanic, They're far beyond your ken: How can a low mechanic Know aught of gentlemen?
MACCARONI AND CANVAS.
ON THE PINCIO.
With that wise foresight, shared by all European rulers, the Roman Pincio was undoubtedly wedded to its purpose of keeping the idle ones very busy at the very time of day when revolutionary plots find the best hearing—before dinner. Whirling around its walks in carriages, or gently promenading under trees, among rose-bushes, and by fountains, while a large band of musicians play with spirit fine selections from the last operas, or favorite airs from old ones; the eye gratified by the sight of pleasant faces, or dwelling enraptured on the beautiful landscape spread before it—how can the brain disengage itself to think of Liberty, won through toil and battle, only to be preserved by self-denial and moral strength?
But the traveler who travels only to travel, and has the means and spirit to find pleasure wherever he goes, thinking only of what he sees, enjoys to its fullest extent the luxurious seat of the hired, white-damask-lined carriage, drawn by stalwart, heavy-limbed, coal-black horses, with sweeping tails, the white foam flying from the champed silver bits, the whole turn-out driven by a handsome, white-gloved, black-coated Roman. In solemn state and swiftly, he winds up the zig-zag road leading from the piazza Popolo, (so-called from popolo, a poplar-tree, and not as the English will have it, from popolo, the people,) and at last reaches the summit of Roman ambition—the top of the Pincian hill. He passes other carriages filled with other strangers like himself, or with titled and fashionable Romans, and finally, his carriage drawn up to one side of the broad drive in front of the semi-circle where the band plays, he descends, to walk around and chat with the friends he may find there.
Toward sunset the scene is full of animation. The sabres of the cavalry soldiers, on guard to prevent infraction of rules, gleam brightly; the old infantry soldiers are darting here and there, chasing away sundry ownerless dogs, who always make it a point to promenade the Pincio; the Italian nurses from Albano, or at least dressed in Albanese costume, shine conspicuous in their crimson-bodiced dresses; Englishmen going through their constitutional; Frenchmen mourning for the Champs Elysees; artists in broad-brim hats smoking cigars; Americans observing Italy, so as to be like Italians; ladies of all nations commanding the attention of mankind as they sweep along the hard-rolled gravel-walks; smiles, bows, looks of love, indignation, affection, coquetry; faces reflective of great deeds and greater dinners ... every face bright in the lambent amber light that streams from the sun dipping his head preparatory to putting on his night-cap, and bidding Rome felicissima notte! a most happy night.
Over the irregular walls of the subdued white and mellow gray houses and palaces, beyond the Tiber running red in the dying sunlight, over the round-walled castle of San Angelo, the dome of Saint Peter's rises full in the midst of the twinkling, hazy, red and golden light. Passing the stone-pines crowning Monte Mario, there gleam away to the left the far waters of the sea, over which the purple mist of young night tenderly, softly falls. Once thoughtfully noted, you will remember this glowing scene years after sublimer and wilder views are lost to memory or grown so faint that they are to you but as dull colors seen in dreams of old age compared to the flashing brightness of those presented to the closed eyes of youth.
As the sun sets and those in carriages and on foot slowly leave the hights of the Pincio, and descend once more to the old city, you will hear, as the evening star shines brighter and brighter, the first liquid, thrilling notes of the nightingales; then as you lean over the stone parapet, dreamily looking into the dense foliage of trees and shrubs beneath you, you will feel the beauty of those lines:
Seek the nightingale's sequestered tower, Who with her love-lorn melody So bewitched thee in the vernal hour: When she ceased to love, she ceased to be.
It is from the months of May to November, when travelers have left Rome, and the city is in the hands of the Romans, that your walks on the Pincio will prove something more than a mere repetition of a stroll in Baden-Baden, or a revival of ideas common to the Prado or Prater. No longer the little prettinesses of the Medicean Venus flirt by you in the nervous silks that flutter along these walks, but something nobly womanly, of a solid past, slow and stately, moves solemnly, by. We know the lives of these copies of the Venus of Milos, we know its most commonplace and vulgar attributes, but we know, too, its strength! The city of Rome holds in its women the mothers of heroes, when Providence shall withdraw the black veil now hung over their rude minds, and let in the light of knowledge. We who laugh at their sad ignorance, think what we would be without liberty—our minds enslaved, geography tabooed! Egypt is a paradise compared to Rome.
The advantages of foreign travel to an intelligent American are to teach him ... the disadvantages of living any where save in America. And though the artistic eye dwells with such loving repose on the soothing colors of Italy, and particularly on the subdued white and gray tones of Roman ruins and palaces, walls and houses, yet the owner of that artistic eye should restrain his wrath at the fiery red bricks of our own cities, for let him reflect that this color goads him on, as it doth a bull, to make valorous efforts—to do something!
Looking down from the stone balustrade of the Pincio on the piazza Popolo, we note two churches, one on either side of the Corso; their architecture is neither more nor less hideous than nine tenths of the other three hundred and odd churches of Rome; the same heavy, half-cooked look about doors and windows, suggesting cocked-hats of the largest size on the heads of dwarfs of no size at all; the same heavy scroll-work, reminding one of the work of a playful giant of a green-grocer who has made a bouquet of sausages and cabbages, egg-plants and legs of mutton, and exhibits it to a thick-headed public as a—work of art. O Roman Plebs! lay this nattering unction to your soul—we did not do that!
The history of all nations seem to indicate successive ages of grub and butterfly-life; certainly Rome has been a grub long enough. Let us hope the sun of Victor Emmanuel, the King of Gallant Men, will hasten the time when the Romans shall wing their way to the light of Liberty. These mockeries of architecture shall then stand as warning fingers to the Romans of the sad days that were; the days when mind and body were enslaved, and the grinning monkey held the dove tight-clutched in his brutal grasp. Through sword and fire public taste must pass before it is purified: the mountain-stream, dashing along with bounding steps, is clear and sparkling, but in the long stretch of level pastureland or prairie it is still and—dirty.
It may be well to descend and wander through those close and narrow streets where the waste-water of old Roman aqueducts makes green and damp the foundation stories of gloomy houses, and where the carefully-nurtured traveler sees sights of smoked interiors, dirt and rubbish in the streets, that terrify him; but let him remember that in the worst of these kennels the inhabitants have never forgotten that they had a Past, and the 'I am a Roman Citizen!' still rings in their ears, eats into their hearts, and is at their tongue's end. Monsieur About was in Rome when Caper was there; he saw these Romans through Napoleonic spectacles: while one foot was trying to stamp on Antonelli gently, the other was daintily ascending the shining steps leading to the temple of Gallic fame. He is impressed with the idea that the Romans are hangers-on of hangers-on to patricians, from which we are to infer, if the patricians are ever hung, there will be a heavy weight to their feet!
Rocjean, one afternoon, after a walk on the Pincio, was returning to his studio, when, as he descended to the Via Babuino, he met a Roman artist named Attonito, who cultivated the English.
'Ow arr you toe-day, my dear?' he asked Rocjean.
'Quite well, except a slight attack of bad English, from which I hope to recover in a few minutes.'
'Pray tell unto me th-hat weech is bad Englis.'
'Haven't you been on the Pincio?'
'Yas, I tak' consteetutionails up there avery afternoons; it is a costume Englis' th-hat I vary moche cotton to.'...
'W-hat! Cotton to? Why, that is a clear Americanism; where did you pick it up?'
'Meester Caper of Noo-York, he told unto me it am more elegant as to say, I love, or I affection. Bote, 'ave you saw that bu-tee-fool creechure with 'air of flags?'...
''Air of flags; 'ow you name eet? Capellatura di lino?'
'Oh! you mean tow-head?'
'Toe! no, no! I mean lino.'
'Ah! yes, flaxen hair.'
'Benissimo! Vary well, flagson 'air and blue eyze. Shhe was in carri-adge with Lady Blumpudy. I go avery afternoons to inspect her as she takes the airs on the Pincio, Eet would gife me great pleasures to ally myself to her in marriage compact, bote I do not know eef she has a fortune. Do you know any theengs?'
'Yes, a great many; one of which is that it is my dinner-time, and as I turn down the Condotti—good afternoon.'
'Goo-ood by, my dear,' answered Attonito, as he slowly wandered up the Piazza di Spagna.
Another example of the beneficial effects of the Pincio on the bourgeoise, thought Rocjean. When will the alarm-bell in the clock of Roman time ring out its awaking peal?
ROME BY NIGHT.
If one would realize the romantic side of Rome in all its stately grandeur, and receive a solemn and ineffaceable impression of its beauty, by all means let him, like Quevedo's hero, sleep 'a-daytime' and do his sight-seeing by moonlight or star-light; for, save in some few favored quarters, its inspection by gaslight would be difficult. Remember, too, that all that is grandly beautiful of Rome, the traveler has seen before he reaches the Imperial City—with the eyes of understanding, with the eyes of others—in books.
Nothing but a heap of old stones, bricks, and mortar is there here for the illiterate tourist—he can have six times as jolly a time in Paris for half the money that he pays 'in that old hole where a fellow named Culius Jaesar used to live.'
As if the night were not sufficiently dark in this city, there are always those who stand ready with the paint-brush of fancy to make it even of a darker hue; whisperings among the travelers in hotels of certain Jim Joneses or Bill Smiths who have been robbed. Yes, sir, early in the evening, right there in the Corso: grabbed his watch and chain, struck him on the head. You know he was a powerfully built man; but they came behind him, and if he hadn't have done so and so, the rascally Italians would have killed him, and so forth.
'Re-al-ly; well, you won't catch me out at nights!'
There rises up, as I write, the figure of a slim young man, of the day-time negro-minstrel style of beauty, who once dwelt three weeks in Rome. I know that he was profound in knowledge of trick and vice, and that he had an impediment in his speech—he could never speak the truth. He told a fearful tale of a midnight robbery in the Piazza di Spagna—himself the victim. It was well told, and I ought to know, for I read it years before in a romance, only the scene was, in type, laid in Venice. According to this negro-minstrel style of youth, he had been seized from behind, held, robbed of watch and elegant gold chain, red coral shirt-studs, onyx sleeve-buttons, and a porte-monnaie containing fifty scudi, etc., etc. He was the theatrical hero of the hotel for two days, and the recipient of many drinks. Time, the cater of things, never digested this falsehood, and months after the youth had left, I learned that he had lost all his jewelry and money at—twenty-deck poker.
A few nights after Caper was domiciled in the Via Babuino, Rocjean called on him, and as he entered his room, carefully extinguished a taper, and was putting it in his pocket, when Caper asked him what that was for?
'That! it's a cerina. Have you been two weeks in Rome, and not found out that? Why, how did you get up-stairs at night?'
'There was a lamp in the entry.'
'None there to-night, so I had to light this. It's only a long piece of wick, dipped in wax; you see you can roll it up in a ball, and carry it in your pocket, so! Without this and a box of matches, you can never hope to be a good Roman. You must have seen that where the houses have any front-doors, three quarters of them are open all night long; for, as on every floor of a house, there live different families, they find it saves trouble—trouble is money in Rome—to leave the door unclosed. These dark entries, for they are seldom lighted, offer a grand chance for intrigues, and when you have lived here as long as I have, you will find out that they—improve the chances. A cerina, in addition to keeping you from breaking your neck, by tumbling down stone stairs, gives light to avoid the stray dogs that sleep around loose, and to see if there is any enemy around who wants to give you a few inches of cold steel. You may laugh at robbers here; but you may cry for mercy in vain to a Roman who seeks vendetta—revenge, you know. Bad way to use foreign words; but we all do it here. Speak an Italianized English after a time, the effect of had examples. But come, if you want to see Rome by moonlight, it's time we were off.'
As they reached the street, Caper asked Rocjean where he could buy the cerina.
'At any dragheria' said the latter.
'Good, there is a druggist's store up the street—Borioni's.'
'A dragheria means a grocery-store in Rome. If you want molasses, however, you must go to the farmacia for it, [that is the Roman for druggist's shop,] and you will buy it by the ounce.'
'Live and learn,' said Caper, as they entered the grocery and bought the cerina-price, one baioccho a yard.
'And now let us walk out to Saint Peter's, and see the church by moonlight.'
'The want of sidewalks in this city,' remarked Rocjean, 'compelling the Romans to walk over cobble-stones, undoubtedly is the cause of the large feet of the women, added to their dislike of being in pain from tight shoes or boots. For genuine martyrdom from tight shoes, French, Spanish, and Americans—but chiefly Cubans—next to Chinese women, are ahead of the world.'
'But apart from the fact that they do walk on the narrow sidewalks in the Corso, I have noticed that in the side-streets, even where there is a foot-walk, nobody takes advantage of it at night.'
'For a good reason, as we shall probably see,' said Rocjean,' before we reach the bridge of San Angelo. But keep close to me in the middle of the street.'
The moonlight shone brightly down the narrow street they were then walking through, which, but for this, the occasional dim light of an oil-lamp hung in front of a shrine, the light from a wine or grocery shop, and the ruddy blaze of a charcoal-fire, where chestnuts were roasting for sale, would have been dark indeed. The ground-floor of very few Roman houses is ever occupied as a dwelling-place; it is given up to shops, stables, etc., the families residing, according to their wealth, on the lowest up to the highest stories; the light purses going up and the heavy ones sinking. They had walked nearly to the end of this street, when, happening to look up at the fourth story of a house, he saw something white being reversed in the moonlight, and the next instant a long stream of water, reminding him of the horse-tail fall in Switzerland, came splashing down where a sidewalk should have been.
'What do you think of the middle of the street now?' asked Rocjean.
'Let's stick to it, even if we stick in it. I'm going to buy an umbrella, and spread it too, when I go out of nights, after this.'
They reached the bridge of San Angelo, and studied for a short time the fine effect of the moonlight shining on the turbid, slow-flowing Tiber, and lighting up the heavy pile of the castle of San Angelo. Then they reached the Piazza of Saint Peter's, and here the scene was imperial. Out and in through the semi-circular arcade of massive pillars the moonlight stole to sleep upon the soft-toned, gray old pavement, or was thrown in dancing, sparkling light from the two noble jets of water tossed in the clear night-air by the splashing fountains. In all its gigantic proportions rose up, up into the clear blue of the spangled sky, the grand thought of Michael Angelo—the dome of Saint Peter's.
Returning from Saint Peter's, Rocjean proposed to walk through the Trastevere, the other side of the Tiber, and to cross over the river by the ponte Rotto or broken bridge. They found the street along the river very quiet; here and there a light showed, as on the other side, a wine-shop or coffee-room; but the houses had few lights in them, and spite of the moonlight, the streets looked gloomy and desolate.
'They seem to keep dark this side of the river,' said Caper.
'Yes,' answered Rocjean, 'and live light. They go to bed for the most part early, and rise early; they economize fifty-one weeks in a year, in order to live like lords for the fifty-second—that is Carnival-week. Then you shall see these queenly Trasteverine in all their bravery, thronging the Corso. But here is a clean-looking wine-shop, let us go in and have a foglietta.'
They found the shop full of thirsty Romans—it is safe to say that—although the number of small flasks showed they could not indulge their taste so deeply as they wished to. The centre of the listening group of Romans, was a bright-eyed, black, curly-haired man, who was reciting, with loud emphasis:
THE LIFE AND DEATH
OF THE PERFIDIOUS ASSASSIN,
ARRIGO GARBETINGO OF TRENTO,
Who slew nine hundred and sixty-four grown persons and six children.
He had already got through his birth and wicked childhood, and had arrived at that impressive part where he commences his career of brigand at large, accompanied by a 'bool-dog':
'He had a bull-dog of the English breed, oh! More savage than all others that we've seen, oh! Close at his side it always walked, indeed, oh! And never barked! but then his bite was keen, oh! When on some poor man straight he sprung, take heed, oh! His soul from body quickly fled, I ween, oh! Because with cruel, gnashing teeth he tore, oh! Him all to pieces, in a manner sore, oh!'
The reciter here stopped to drink another tumbler of wine, upon which Caper and Rocjean, having finished their pint, paid their scot and departed.
'Was that an improvisatore?' asked Caper.
'He might pass for such with a stranger of inflammable imagination, who didn't know the language,' answered Rocjean. 'He is, in fact, a reciter, and you can buy the poh, poh-em he was reciting at any of the country fairs, of the man who sells rosaries and crucifixes. It is one of the cent-songs of the Papal States, published con licenza, with license; and a more cruel, disgusting, filthy, and demoralizing tendency than it must have on the people can not well be imagined; and there are hundreds of worse.'
While Rocjean was talking they had crossed the ponte Rotto, and as he finished his sentence they stood in front of the ruined house of—Cola di Rienzil, 'Redeemer of dark centuries of shame—the hope of Italy, Rienzi, last of Romans!'
'Well,' said Rocjean, as he halted in front of the ruined house, and looked carefully at the ornamented stones still left, 'when Saint Peter's church shall be a circus, this house shall be a shrine.'
'That being the state of the case,' spoke Caper, 'let us walk up to the Trevi fountain and see the effect by moonlight of its flashing waters, and inhale the flavor of fried fish from the adjacent stands.'
They stood in front of the wild waters dashing, sparkling over the grand mass of tumbled rocks reared behind the wall of a large palace. Neptune, car, horses, tritons, all, stone as they were, seemed leaping into life in the glittering rays of the moonlight, and the rush and splash of the waters in the great basin below the street, contrasted with the silence of the city, left a deep impression of largeness and force on the minds of the two artists.
'Let us go down and drink the water, for he who drinks of it shall return again to Rome!'
'With all my heart,' said Caper; 'for if the legend has one word of truth in it, Garibaldi will be back again some bello giorno——'
'Bello giorno means fine day; giorno di bello means a day for war: I drink to both!' spoke Rocjean, dipping water up in his hand.
They returned to the street, and were walking toward the Piazza di Spagna, when they overtook two well-dressed men evidently none the better for too much wine. As they passed them, one of the men said to the other:
'J-im! I don't see but what we-we-'ll have to r-r-roost out-tall night. I don't know 'ny 'talian, you don't know 'ny 'talian, we-we-'re nonpl'sh'd, I'm th-think'ng.'
'Ary borry boutere spikinglish?' said the other one to the two artists, as they were walking on.
'Yes,' said Caper, 'four of 'em. If you've lost your way we'll set you right. Where's your hotel?'
''Tel? Why, 'Tel Europe p'aza Spanya. Are you English?'
'No, sir! I'm an American born, bred and—buttered,' said Caper.
'B-bullyf'ryou! We'resame spishies—allrite—d-driv'on!'
'Look here,' said the one of the two men who was least tipsy, 'if this tother g-gen'leman and I could stick our heads into c-cold water we'd come out tall right.'
'It's only a block or two back to the Trevi fountain,' answered Caper, 'and if your friend will go with you, you'll find water enough there.'
They went back to the fountain, and descending the steps with some difficulty, the two men soon had their heads pretty well cooled off, and came up with cleared intellects and improved pronunciation. In the course of conversation it appeared that the two travelers, for such they were, after rather too much wine at dinner in their hotel, had been invited to the German Club, where Rhine wine, etc., had finished them off: attempting to return to their hotel alone, they had lost their way. As the four walked along, it came out that one of them owned a painting by Rocjean, and when he discovered that one of his guides was no other than that Americanized Frenchman, the whole party at once fraternized, and disregarding any more moonlight effects, walked at once to Caper's rooms, where over cigars and a bottle of Copalti's wine they signed, sealed, and delivered a compact to have a good time generally for the week the two travelers intended devoting to Rome. The moral of which is ... that you make more friends than meet enemies—walking round Rome by night.
THE MYSTERIOUS IN ART.
They were in the presence of a man with flowing hair, flowing beard, and flowing language, in a studio, all light from which was excluded by heavy curtains, except enough to display an easel on which was placed a painting, a background of dark blue where were many apparently spider and crow-tracks.
'Those who in the profundity of their darkness incline to the belief that the vitality of art, butterfly-like, has fled from this sunny world, have made the biggest kind of a mistake,' said Mr. Artaxerxes Phlamm, the Mystic Artist, to Caper. The hit was evidently intended for Rocjean, but that descendant of the Gauls, for some reason, did not smite back again; he contented himself with the remark:
'Art is long.'
'Yes, sir,' continued Mr. Phlamm, 'not only it has length, but breadth, breadth, broadness—it extends from—yes—from—pole to pole.'
'Like a clothes-line,' said Caper.
'Ah!' continued Phlamm, with a pickled smile, 'Fancy, ever Fancy, but it is Imagination that, as it were, brings man to a level with his destiny and elevates him to the Olympium hights of the True, and all that rises much above the meedyochre. But I must not forget that this is your first visit to me studeeyoh. The painting on the easel is a view of Venice on the Grand Canal.'
'But,' said Rocjean, 'I do not see the canal.'
'When you are gazing at the stars do you see your boots?' asked Phlamm.
'I always do,' spoke Caper quickly, 'always gaze at 'em at night—smoke a cigar—put my feet higher than my head—sit in a chair—stars reflected in boots—big thing!'
'You are full of life and spirits, Caper,' continued Phlamm, 'full of 'em; but Rocjean is more serious, more imbued with his nobil calling. My illustration, as he understands, would convey the idea that such a thing as foreground in a painting is false; it's a sham, it's a delusion, and all that. It may do for pre-Raffleites, but for a man who looks Naychure in the face, he sees her operating diversely, and he works according. I repeat it again, when I was on the Grand Canal in Venice, I didn't see the Grand Canal.'
'Neither did I,' spoke Caper, 'we're just alike; I kept my head all the time out of the gondola-window looking for pretty girls—and I saw them!'
'May I ask why you dead-color your canvas blue, and then make your drawing in black outline?' asked Rocjean.
'What is the color of the sky? Is it not blue? Is not blue a cold color; is it not the negative to the warmth, the balance to the scales, the one thing needed on which to rear the glorious fabric that Naychure reveals to the undimmed vision of man? I know your answer, and I refute it. I have studied Art from its roots, and now I'm in the branches, and I grasp the fruit. My manner is peculiar—I have no patent for it—I ask for none. The illimitable passes the legitimate, and the sw-word is carried by the hero—for me the bruzh, the paint-bruzh. You see that painting before you—it is my child—I lavish on it my intentions—I am going to work three years on that picture!'
'I bet you a new hat you sell it, and a dozen more, and send 'em off before six months. You're all the rage now since you sold old Goldburg a picture,' quoth Caper.
'I don't bet, I am opposed to betting. But look that picture of mine in the face, in the face! Here is a finished painting, The Lake of Zurich; see those clouds floating mistily away into the far distance—there's atmosphere for you—there's air! You can't cut those clouds into slices of cheese as you can them of that humbug of a Cloud Lowrain. Cloud Lowrain! he's a purty painter! Naychure is my teacher. I go out mornings and hear the jackdaws chatter, and see trees and all that; sometimes I walk around in a garden for ten minutes and commune with Naychure—that's the way to do it. Look at clouds before you paint 'em—I know it's hard when the sun's in your eyes, but do it—I've spent a week at a time out-doors, like Wordsworth and the great, the grand, the colossial Ruzking.'
'I like that water,' said Rocjean, alluding to that of the painting.
'Water is my peculiar study; I am now engaged experimenting on it—see there!' Here Phlamm pointed to a basin.
'Been washing your hands?' asked Caper.
'Scientifically experimenting, not manually. Water is soup-or-fish-all—earth is not soup-or-fish-all.'
'Our dinners are, during Lent,' quoth Caper, 'unless we're heretics.'
'I don't understand your frivolity—what do you mean?'
'Didn't you say, 'Soup or all fish?''
'Pshaw! You will never make an artist—never, never—you are too, too superficiall, too much of the earth, dirty.'
'Oh! now I understand,' answered Caper; 'give it to me, I deserve it.'
'I was studying water, its shadows and its superficiality, in that basin,' continued Phlamm, 'and I study the ocean there, and have devolved great principles from it. What makes my pictures sought for by the high and the low, wealthy? What? It's the Truth in 'em, the Mystery, the Naychure. The old masters were humbugs, they weren't mysterious, they had no inner sight into the workings of Naychure. Who'd buy one of their pictures when he might have a Turner for the same price? Nobody.'
'Wouldn't he?' asked Caper. 'Try him with a Raphael, just a small one.'
'Raphael? You mean Raffaele. Ah! he was a painter, he wasn't one of the old masters, however, he was a middle-age master. What sweetness, what a kind of—sweetness generally; what a blending of the prayerful infant with the enthusiastic beauty; the—the polished chastity of his Mad-donas; the folds of his drapery, and—the drapery of his folds. Truly enchanting, and so very uncommonly gentlemanly in his colors.'
'The Chesterfield of oil-colors?' suggested Rocjean. 'But a propos of Nature, you never paint a picture directly from her, do you?'
'Never! Does a great historical painter use the model? No, sir; he draws on his imagination for his figures. He scorns to copy from a model. I convey the impression of mystery that Naychure gives me; I am no servile copyist. And I claim to leave an impression on the minds of the beholders of my works. Why, even Caper, I believe, can see what I wish to tell, and read my poems on canvas. Tell me, Caper, what idea does even that rough sketch of Venice awake in your imaginative faculties, and all that?'
Caper's face wore a deeply thoughtful look, as he answered: 'I do see it; I do claim to read the lesson you would teach——'
'Speak it out,' interrupted Phlamm, 'I knew you would feel the deep, mysterious sentiment as is in it.'
'Spider-tracks and crows' feet on the blue mud of a big marsh,' spoke Caper resolutely.
'Pshaw!' exclaimed Phlamm impetuously; 'you have no Faith, and without that, all Art is a sealed thing. Goldburg, to whom I lately sold a painting, had faith; he saw the grand idea which I explained to him in that picture; he knew that the Earl of Bigbarns had purchased a work of mine, and he said to me: 'The opinion of such a man is an opinion as should be a valuable opinion to a business man, and govern the sentiments of those who worship Art.' Other artists see Naychure, but how do they see her? I answer, blindly! They don't feel her here!' (Phlamm struck his waistcoat in fearful proximity to a pocket in it, and altogether too low for his heart.)