Page images
PDF
EPUB

APRIL.

HY ISAAC M'LELLAN, JUNIOR.

Now young willows begin to put forth their tender leaves; the capricious rains, and coquetting skies chary of their smiles, make the earth radiant with a fresher verdure: the country frog, ensconced in his veil of green spawn, sends a pleasant music abroad, through the reeds that tremble about his pool: the maple boughs redden in the sunbeam, and saccharine gouts are distilled from the tree. The husbandman wends through the woodland, with well-poised neck-yoke and brimming pails: the smoke rises above the forest tops- the axe rings from the sap-works. Suows melt from the fields, and only in the vallies, under umbrageous pines and cedars, do they remain. The herds frisk in the pasture; sleep-inviting sounds sail over the landscape, and the haze that betokens brighter days lingers in the distance.

ALL smiles and tears

The fresh young April day appears :
Above the twisted old tree-root,
Above the verdurous springing grass,
Above the soft turf's new born shoot,
Her dancing footsteps pass.

Her clear eye swims in light,

Her golden tresses loosely flow;

Her gay voice singeth in delight,

Her cheeks with healthful beauty glow:
In her green hollow way

The wild flowers spring in myriads up;
The crocus nods its blossoms gay,

The violet lifts its azure cup;

The lily swings its snowy bell,,

The honey-suckle opes its shell.

Down the moist meadow land,

Where thro' the flow'ring greensward flows the brook,
Sweet-smelling blooms their odorous leaves expand
In every woody nook.

The golden-berried wax-work weaves its wreath
Of verdure; and the clematis

Shoots its soft fibres the thick boughs beneath;
And oft the south wind stoops to kiss
The modest snow drop in the grass:

O'er the clear stream the gaudy mosses lean,
To see reflected in that lucid glass

Their velvet fringes and their festoons green.

Sweet April! with thy cloudless forehead bound
With dewy wild-flowers, and with roses crowned,
I love thee well!

Deep in the heart of man, as o'er the earth,
Thy presence casts a cheerful tone of mirth,
A soft, sweet spell;

The newly-budding groves repeat thy call
With joy through all their lone arcades;
And the hoarse-sounding waterfall

Rejoices in the dim primeval shades.

I love thy changeful skies,

With all their cloudy glooms and brightening smiles;
I love to see thy glowing morn arise

O'er the blue hills and the soft-sleeping isles:

I love the mild and temperate flush of morn,
With all the young leaves dancing with delight;
I love thy golden eve, and silver moon

Sailing in streaming glory o'er the night;

I love to hear thy healthful breezes raise

O'er the wood-tops their sounding psalms of praise.

I love to hear thy softly-falling rain

In tinkling murmurs patter o'er the plain;

I love to hear thy sounds of rustic toil,

Where glides the furrowing share along the fertile soil.

OLLAPOD.

NEA MATH LA:

THE HEAD CHIEF OF THE CREEK INDIAN NATION.

AFTER General Jessup had reduced the Creek nation, in 1836, or supposed he had reduced them, a general amnesty was proclaimed, with a view to negociate for emigration. The Indians were permitted and invited to approach the camp of the army, and to intermingle with the white population. They ranged at large, unarmed, among the troops, and in the country round. It could not at once be known who had submitted, for the purpose of emigration. Those who were still hostile in their feelings, were encouraged to approach, with the more friendly, in the hope of persuading them to comply with the treaty stipulations, which had been broken in the recent war.

Among those who had given up, to emigrate, were two daughters of Neamathla, young and unmarried. They were the idols of the old chief's heart. He himself was not the man to surrender, nor to comply with the terms which had been prescribed to his people. The head of the nation; great in council, great in war, indomitable in spirit; knowing and comprehending the injuries of his race, without being able to appreciate the reasons or views of the white man; he was animated by all those sentiments which are most approved and admired in all true patriots, the world over. He had roused his people to arms ; they had fought, and been conquered; and he now heard in his hiding place, that his children, his daughters, had been persuaded to emigrate. He resolved at once that those so near and dear to him should not be thus violently and cruelly severed from his society, while he remained to die alone, with none to close his eyes, and wail over his grave.

Laying aside the emblems of his chieftainship, and disguising himself in the garb of the most common Indian, he mounted a pony, and rode into the camp, where the Indians were roaming at large, in search of his daughters. He found them, and the following dialogue ensued: My children,' said the chief, 'it has grieved me to hear that you have consented to go, and leave your father to die alone.'

[ocr errors]

Our father knows,' said the eldest girl, of about eighteen years, that the white man is here, and that the blood of our people has run into the rivers. Nor did we know till this happy hour that the blood of our father had not gone with them to the great sea, to make it red. What, father, can we do!'

The blushing, burning cheek of the maiden told the deep sympathy she felt for her race, and the more tender anxiety for a parent whose resolves she well knew could not be broken by her entreaties.

[ocr errors]

My child!' said the chief- standing erect, and fixing his piercing eye upon her, while the younger sister sat mute and abashed, with equal concern -'my child! will you then leave me?'

'No, father!' said the yielding and dutiful girl, throwing herself at his feet. " No, father!' said the younger, casting herself into the same position. 'And where shall we fly?' asked both, together. Yonder is my pony,' said the chief; 'mount with me, and I will soon bear 'you away!'

[blocks in formation]

In a few moments, Neamathla, with one of his daughters before, and the other behind, on the same beast a sight not unusual, at least not very remarkable, among the Indians was seen wending his way out of the Indian encampment. Disguised as his person was, his well-known face could not be concealed, though the marks of sorrow had changed it.

None are more treacherous than the Indians to each other, when once their hearts are gained or bought over to another party. Neamathla was recognized; and a runner was soon on his way to announce the fact to General Jessup, that the chief of the nation had just been seen, bearing off his two daughters.

Great endeavors had been made to find and bring over Neamathla, but in vain. It was known, too, that the nation would be reluctant to emigrate while he was left behind, his influence being unbounded. Orders were immediately issued by the General to have the old man tracked, arrested, and brought back. The mission was successful. With no power to resist, the chief was forced to yield to the rude assaults of his own people; and it was soon announced to General Jessup, that Neamathla and his daughters were at Fort Mitchell. Desirous of making an impression of his power, as well as of a friendly disposition, the General ordered the most pompous military display that could be made, erected a sort of military court, took his seat at the head of it, and ordered the chief into his presence.

Erect, unmoved, apparently not noticing the beat of drum and the signs of power with which he was surrounded, the venerable chief, in charge of a military escort, walked firmly into the presence of his judge, and faced him, without turning his eye to any other person or object. His deportment was that of one who felt that his judge was on trial, and Neamathla was there to call him to account. He waited not to be questioned, but opened the court, himself the questioner.

Is this the chief of the white men?' said he, addressing himself to General Jessup, through an interpreter.

The General, not a little annoyed at the position in which he found himself at this sudden and unexpected opening of the conference, was obliged to say, 'Yes.'

'I wish, then, to know,' said Neamathla, 'what the chief of the white men proposes to do with me?'

To treat you kindly,' said the General, and to request that you will comply with the treaty, and move toward the setting sun with your people, where our great father, the President, will spread over your nation his wings, and protect you.'

The chief of the white man is a fool!' said Neamathla.

The soldier General, a little discomposed and nonplussed at this reply, and unable to change the relative position of himself and his antagonist, without defeating his main design, was compelled to bear this imputation as well as he might. He attempted to reason with Neamathla with assumed, and doubtless with real, kindness.

'The chief of the white man is a fool!' repeated Neamathla, still throwing himself back on his reserved dignity, and awaiting what might ensue.

General Jessup still labored to convince his captive of the propriety and necessity of submitting to the terms of the treaty; but he

received only for answer, 'The chief of the white man is a fool!' At length the General asked Neamathla what he would desire.

Neamathla was the enemy of the white man; he is the enemy of the white man; and he always will be the enemy of the white man. Were Neamathla the chief of the white man, sitting there, and the chief of the white man Neamathla, standing here, Neamathla would lift his hatchet on the head of his enemy, and strike him to his feet. The chief of the white man is a fool!'

'I am commanded by our great father,' said the General, to treat you with kindness. Give me your word of honor that you will stay in the camp, and you shall be permitted to go at large, as you see your people do, and eat out of our dish.'

'Set me

'The chief of the white man is a fool!' said Neamathla. free, and I shall not stay here. But I will roam the land of my fathers with free and unshackled limb; I will summon the last warrior to vengeance on our enemies; I will never submit; and will starve only for lack of the blood of the white man to drink. The chief of the white man is a fool!'

'But there are your daughters: do you not love them?'

'Neamathla loves his daughters, as every man does. Has he not proved it, by coming into the white man's camp, and taking them away? He knows not what will become of them, when a father's arm can no longer defend them. But their father trusts in the Great Spirit,' said he, pointing to heaven. He paused, and looked upon the ground. Then turning, and glancing through the crowd, he asked, as if they were near, Where are the daughters of Neamathla? Neamathla can answer for them, that they will be happy only in obeying a father's voice. The lies of the white man deceived them.'

[ocr errors]

Neamathla refusing to give his word of honor, was of course kept under guard till the nation were prepared to remove, though allowed every indulgence which the safe keeping of his person would warrant. He talked little, seeming to feel deeply and poignantly the ignominy of his confinement, and the helplessness of his condition. His daughters tenderly ministered to all his wants, and endeavored affectionately to console him. But a sense of his people's wrongs, and of humbled, crushed pride, had taken full possessson of his lofty spirit. The chain wore in upon his soul; and before the emigrating nation had left the land of their fathers, being on their march, Neamathla breathed his last, from the mere action of grief and sorrow, and was buried, as he had resolved to be, under the soil which his people once called their own, bestowed, as they piously said, by the Great Spirit. When we hear or read of the barbarities of the savage, we lose our sympathy for his wrongs. He is the aggrieved party, and prosecutes war according to his own modes. He knows no other. Their policy in war is extermination, because, judging from the feelings of their own race, while an enemy breathes, they are not safe. Universal and indiscriminate massacre is with them deemed a necessity for selfpreservation. They fear the white man, and never fight him till goaded on by a sense of injury, and by desperate madness. It is proper for us to consider, that the Indian tribes who venture into war with us, fight for their soil, for their homes, and for freedom, and for nothing else; which all men do, which we would do, and which

all men would be despised for not doing. They are the weaker party, and in our power, and we dispose of them as we please, for the extension of civilization. When great men, by nature great, endowed with powers which the world is constrained to admire, die by mere restraint on their freedom, and by a sense of wrong done to themselves and their people, without being able to see any excuse, as was doubtless the case with Osceola and Neamathla, we do additional wrong to our common nature, to ascribe to such spirits any baser motive than love of country and of kindred. Either of these men, had they been born to move in the higher spheres of civilization, might have won a Napoleon's fame, or a Cæsar's honors, though we pretend not to commend or justify the career of the one or the other. We speak simply of talent; of those native endowments which will ever command the respect and admiration of the world.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »