Page images
PDF
EPUB

V.

VII.

Lessened down to astonished eyes,

His feet with claws he now supplies; When nine of the twelve days were gone,

Aud swelling now his pliant throat, By craving appetite made long,

Pitched and tuned to the robin's note. The son besought his fast to breakSome other time a new one take. “My dreams," he said, " are very sad,

My father refused to give me meat And ominous of all that's bad."

When hungry much I wished to eat, But no-his sire would not permit

And now he sees I'm made a bird, That he should touch or taste one bit;

No more with human race to herd; Since one to gain the seer's high art

He alone suffers by the change, Must not from first intents depart.

The air now happy I shall range: When two days more their course had run, Manito* to me has been most just, Imploringly repeats his son

And shown me mercy-go I mustThe request that before was sent

In gladness I mount to the skies.” For aught to stay his languishment.

“My son, my son,” the old man cries, Denied again—the old man said,

" Do not me leave alone below, That hope and courage him might aid

Without thee life is full of woe !" “At morrow's dawn myself will bring

And rushing in, with intent rude, The food for which you are suffering ;

His grasp the bird can just elude, 'Tis hard by twelve short hours to lose

And rising up the trees among, The gifts for thee that now I choose "

The robin sings a cheering song.

VI.

VIII.

By the first light the father brought

Forsaken, now, Oh! sir, you see The food before so gently sought,

I take my course to love and glee ;With expectations mounting high,

Yet be assured I e'er shall dwell Of skill his child had gained thereby.

Nearest your wigwam, to dispel Already prided he upon

Sorrow and sadness from your breast, The future fame of his young son,

With cheering music lulled to rest. Which every wind should waft abroad,

Content and happy, day by day And make far off a household word;

Unceasing joy I shall display ;But stooping now to cast a look

And ages hence, when o'er the main Through cedar boughs into his nook

Come foes to your Indian name, Why starts he back with sore surprise ?

The stars that guide them to these lands, Why stands he fixed with staring eyes ? Ill-omened to your strongest bands,No pleasing view does him delight, Their bark with such destruction fraught, But a vision strange meets his sight- Such evils by their presence broughtThe child his failing years had charmed The air pestilenced by their breath, To a bird being fast transformed ;- Their very looks the shafts of deathHis arms to wings already turned, Then, e'en then, for the love I bore Vermilion on his bosom burned;

To my red brothers on this shore, There starts from him the plumage bright, I still will charm the ground they tread, Which forms and grows upon the sight;- With songs so oft here warbled."

* The good spirit of the Indians.

IX.

x.

Then looking up the sky upon,
The robin greets the rising sun,
His eye with pity beaming looked,
As thus the promise on he spoke:-
“ And ev'ry day the summer long
I'll usher in this hour with song;
When morn's fresh air and pearly dew
Their wonted life daily renew,
My sweetest strains 'tis then I'll shower,
In honor of my natal hour.”

Do not despise this tale so rude,
In it is found a precept good,
That filial duty joy e'er gains,
And obedience reward claims :
Tho' nature's course it cannot stop,
It changes for a better lot.
It is by such untutored speech,
That simple men their virtue teach.

GILES SCROGGINS.

I always had an aversion to that species of practical jokes called hoaxes. To tell a man in sober earnest, that a thing is so and so, and then to laugh at him for a ninny, because he is fool enough to believe you, seems to me rather a proof of knavery and unblushing impudence, than of any of that keen shrewdness and wit, which the perpetrators of these deceptions generally arrogate to themselves, and that too, with the consent of a considerable portion of people who ought to know better. These deceptions are seldom carried out without more or less of downright falsehood, and what is rather singular, the individuals who are foremost in such undertakings, are always those who are ready to fly into a passion if their word is doubted, and consider the least imputation against their veracity as the deepest insult.

But I will leave homilies on that subject to the more capable, and go on with, or rather begin, my story. As I was saying, I always had an aversion to hoaxes-that is, in principle, but from long habit, in this quizzical world, I have become somewhat accustomed to them, and if I had not, I have seen some at which, in spite of my scruples, I could not choose but laugh. There is something so very ludicrous in the pertinacity and persevering obstinacy with which one of these victims of ridicule persists in making game of himself, that it seems as if they were sent into the world on purpose that the schoolmaster, Experience, should never be idle, but that he might have employment and wages the year round.

One of these unfortunate wights, in particular, is at present in my mind, who, after being made, for several successive months, a subject of these experiments, most perseveringly refused to grow one particle wiser, and at length left the place in search of employment, just as 'ready and waiting to be hoaxed as on the morning when he first entered it in all the verdancy of youthful expectation.

Common jokes and quizzes were dull and perfectly disgusting when applied to him. The tales of the Arabian Nights, and Sinbad the Sailor, he would have believed as readily as he did the Spelling

22

VOL. XI.

of

Book; and the most amusing part of the scene was the extent to which the operators were obliged to task their powers to invent something so absurd that there might be a remote possibility of his not believing itfor without this, of course there could be comparatively but little sport.

When I first saw him he had been in town some four or five days, and was already well known to “the boys” by the name of “Giles Scroggins.” How he had so suddenly earned his title, I am sure I do not know, but it was firmly stuck to him, and during his whole stay he was neither known nor called by any other name—nor did he apparently care to be, but always answered to it, with as much readiness and freedom as if his own mother had given it to him “on ihat auspicious morning which first dawned upon his puerile existence.” I know that he had another name, but if I ever knew what it was I have long since forgotten ; and indeed I think it doubtful whether he had himself any correct idea that he had any particular right to one name, more than another.

He was a lean, lank-looking genius, apparently eighteen or nineteen years age, with legs, which you could see at a single glance were made for the express purpose of traveling. His coat, vest, and pantaloons had nothing very peculiar about them, except that the coat was gray and had an upright, military-looking collar. "The pantaloons and vest were of that peculiar mix called “sheep's gray,” made from the wool of black sheep and white, in proportions according to fancy. There was nothing peculiar, however, about his dress, and I only mention it as it seemed to make a part of himself. He had a thin face and a sharp nose which went slanting along down towards his chin in a quiet sort of way, as if to say, any thing for peace.” His eyes, like his breeches, were a light gray, with a knowing curve to the wrinkles which pointed inward from the temple to the visual organ, so that

you would not have been surprised had he turned out to be a keen, hard bargaining, horse-jockeying Vermonter, instead of the verdant Massachusetts' boy, which he really was. Still, a close observer of physiognomy would have noticed a sort of laxity in the muscles which governed his mouth, and a peculiar slant to the cheek and jaw bone, which seemed to give him an equal facility for imbibing sweetened water and large stories, whenever they came in his way. Such was the outward man of “Giles Scroggins.'

Giles Scroggins courted Molly Brown,” the old song says, and perhaps it was from some fancied resemblance to the aforesaid Giles, that he received his name; but upon that point I am sure I cannot say. He appeared suddenly in the village one bright May morning, nobody knowing exactly where from, and inquired for work; this he soon found, and was at once marked by the hoaxers, as rare game.

About a mile from the village there lived an old cooper, who had in his shop several "horses," as they are called, though it is difficult to conceive why. They have four legs, to be sure, but are no more

was

like a horse than like any other quadruped in Natural History. The boys were in the habit of continually annoying the cooper by asking him for a loan of one of these horses for a ride. Now if the old man had a fault in the world, it was that he got mad very easily in the day time, and easier still at night. So one night about eleven o'clock, the boys persuaded Giles that it was a fine night for a ride, and told him that ihe old cooper had several horses which he sometimes let, but that he was a facetious old fellow and would not always let them go at first, but that the only way was to " hang on ;” and with these instructions they packed him off to the cooper's for a horse.

“ Hillo,” said Giles, as he rapped on the window of the room where the cooper and cooperess were enjoying their repose. “ Who's there ?" said he, springing from a sound sleep into the middle of the floor. “It's me, was the reply. Now, though this answer perfectly satisfactory to Giles, it was by no means so to his inside friend, the cooper, who, seizing a pair of tongs, repeated the question with considerable energy. “I want to get a horse," said Giles, taking this for a part of the old man's eccentricity. This was too much to be borne, and the enraged knight of the horse came toward the window with uplifted tongs. Prudence suggested a retreat, and Giles obeyed the suggestion. Up went the window, and out went the cooper, but Fate and long legs both favored Giles, and he saved his bacon, though he lost his breath.

I have room for only one more of his adventures. There was a worthy old farmer who was very deaf and very cross,

and for some reason, which it is difficult to conceive, was generally known by the name of “ Wummux,” which title was by no means pleasing to him. To this man Giles was dispatched, in the month of May, with a bushel bag, to get green corn, being told that he always had it very early, and if he was very polite and called him Mr. Wummux, he would be sure to get some, but that he was very deaf. Thus instructed, Giles undertook the errand, but it liked to have been his last. He found the old gentleman, hoe in hand. Placing his mouth close to his ear he drew in all his breath for a desperate attempt, and yelled Mister Wummux," at the very top of his voice. The old man's eyes flashed fire, but Giles had taken in a fresh supply of wind, and he added, “ have you got any green corn,” in a scream which that famous old town-crier, Stentor, would have died with vexation to hear. The rest of the matter he gave rather a consused account of. He saw the hoe handle coming straight at him, and he thought it hit him, and was moreover strengthened in his opinion by a sore streak across his shoulders ; he made one leap to the fence, and as he went felt something from behind assist his flight; perhaps it was Fortune tugging at the afterpart of his pantaloons, and perhaps it was the old man's boot. Giles inclined to the latter opinion.

From that time his business increased wonderfully-his good nature knew no bounds, and the rascality of his tormentors was commensurate with it. Once or twice somebody tried to persuade him that the boys were imposing upon him, but it was of no use. He believed them when they told him, and believed the boys when they denied it,

ness.

and there was the end of it. Invention was racked to find him busi

White lamp black, soft soap moulds, strap oil and doves' milk, fresh salt, pocket saw mills, salamander caps, and leather jewsharps, were among the various articles which he inquired for from house to house, and what was queer, he said, “ Folks never let him have any thing, they were so afraid he'd spile it.” The last I heard of him he was seen trudging over the hills with a stone of some ten pounds weight, carefully wrapped in brown paper, inquiring for Mr. -'s house, whose roley.boley he had been requested to carry home.

Poor Giles ! I haren't heard of him for a long time, but if he is not engaged on some fool's errand or other, it is because he can find no one malicious enough to send him.

THE PROGRESS OF CIVILIZATION.

SPECULATIVE men do not coincide in their comparative estimates of the degree of civilization among different nations-of the social and moral condition of mankind at different periods of time. There are those who find in the present arrangement of society a manifest improvement upon the condition of men in all former ages; who believe that the spirit of change, now at work among the nations, tends upward—that the progress of mankind is onward. On the other hand, some have discovered a "golden age” in the past, and see in that an “order of things” by which the happiness and true interests of the race were more perfectly secured, than they are under the existing state of things; they say, “ the present is a mechanical age-mechanical in head and heart, as well as in hand; its superiority is that of physical condition of external relation—all is outward and deceptive.”

They are comparatively few, however, who interest ihemselves either with the history of the past or the spirit of the present. To most men, nay, to all, the present is the most important, but to many it is the only time; the past to them is time no longer, and the future becomes present ere it reaches them; they want " that large discourse of reason, looking before and after,” and are content to engage actively in the business of to-day, without asking what has given to society and to civilized nations their present diversified relations and pursuitswhat causes have turned the energies of the present to the channels in which they flow—whence are derived the forces and influences now at work among men, and whither tends the activity, strise, and progress of the present. Few men are conscious of having any direct agency in producing the great changes that are continually taking place. Each one feels that he is borne onward by a current, whose velocity he does not increase, and whose direction he does not alter. On his entrance to the world, he finds society, with its laws and institutions, already established the conduct and pursuits of men already marked out and regulated. In short, he finds ihe forces and organization of an advanced state of civilization in full play; his post is assigned him, and

« PreviousContinue »