« PreviousContinue »
presents a ludicrous mixture of church, theatre, and concert-room, with a decided predominance in favor of the latter; and in truth, it is well that it should be so, for it is used indiscriminately for every purpose under the sun. We are not at all astonished if we see it open on Wednesday night for a magic-lantern exhibition, Thursday for a lecture on Astronomy, Friday for a sale of useful and fancy articles, Saturday for the Ethiopian Serenaders, and Sunday (horresco referens) for the Holy Communion !
A great fault in our Ecclesiastical Architecture, and indeed in all our public buildings, is the great attention paid to cheapness. We will lay out hundreds of thousands upon a railroad between two small country towns, where a horse and wagon would answer all the
purpose, but to expend half the sum upon a temple of the Most High God, were an unpardonable extravagance. Granite is very costly; so also are marble and red sandstone; and stucco looks just as well-in the dark. Besides, to carve a Gothic ceiling as it should be, requires a skillful workman ; but the college bricklayer could make one of plaster, and the college painter could paint it in imitation of oak. This narrow spirit of parsimony (for I can call it nothing else,) is one which we must be rid of, if we ever expect to rank creditably with other nations in the fine arts, if we have any desire of cherishing the beautiful, the elegant, the graceful, which are in themselves the perfection of the useful, and if we wish to leave behind us any monuments of our greatness and prosperity
But the highest point of our sacred edifices is also the highest point of absurdity; I mean the weathercock. It would really seem as though we had been ransacking all that was ridiculous and incongruous since the creation of the world, and had lighted upon (Dii avertite omen!) a thing to show which way the wind blows ! In an attack of that NoPopery mania, which is as rife among us as it ever was in England in the days of Lord George Gordon, we have cast down and trampled upon the Holy Cross, which had for centuries crowned the church spire, the symbol of our faith, the badge of our redemption, the comforter of the burdened soul, the light of our despondency. In an equally commendable spirit of Anti-Catholicity, we have excluded from the interior of our churches the high altar, which was no less beautiful as an architectural ornament, than appropriate as reminding us of the great sacrifice which finished all our woe, and have substituted a broad platform, with a little table upon it for the minister to stand at, and a pile of cushions behind, upon which he can repose while the congregation are singing; the appearance of the whole irresistably reminding one of vanilla and lemon cream, cigars and the morning papers. To fill up the picture, we need only imagine half-a-dozen clergymen reclining gracefully upon the aforesaid lounge, chatting pleasantly of the events of the week, and criticising the congregation as they come in!
It is evident, therefore, that as a nation we have not bestowed upon Ecclesiastical Architecture the pains and attention to which it is entitled. The remedy for this is very simple and obvious. We need to cherish loftier ideas of its dignity and importance ; to gain more correct views of the will of Sacred Scripture in respect to it; to cast off this unhappy spirit of utilitarianism, and to bestow more regard upon the poetic and ideal part of our nature. From every stately cathedral which rises in this western world, a hallowed influence goes forth to refine, to purify, to elevate our spiritual being; and as the loud booming of the organ rings along the vaulted roof, and the voices of whiterobed choristers swell upward in the presence of assembled thousands, an inspiration seems to descend upon the soul, like a benediction from the lips of the ETERNAL.
RECOLLECTIONS OF A CAMPAIGN IN FLORIDA.
Few, we presume, of the readers of this Magazine, have had much opportunity of judging, from actual observation, of the real character of the glorious pursuit of arms,” as it appears in its stern reality, when stripped of the holiday attire and factitious, glare of muster or parade. And fewer still, perhaps, have shared in the dangers and privations of a frontier campaign, where a wily foe may lurk in every bush, and fever ride on every breeze. It was once our fortune to be placed in circumstances which afforded us a fair conception of the one, and a sufficient taste of the other; and though we can tell no stirring tale of bloody battle fought and won, nor boast our own brave deeds in arms; yet, it may not be wholly profitless to draw aside the gilded canopy that throws its delusive shadow over the soldier's life, and show the iron reality within.
The war, which has recently terminated in the expulsion of the Seminoles from the (now) State of Florida, was, as all know, a long and tedious one, and in its management afforded ample theme of abuse to all who chose to attack the Government or its faithful officers, who were wasting life's best energies in vain attempts to bring it to a close. Perhaps a little rational reflection upon the nature of Indian warfare, or, at any rate, a personal inspection of the field of operation, would have silenced all complaint, so far as the gallant officers to whom the war was entrusted were concerned. A sickly climate, where field operations were impracticable for three fourths of the year, a country, wild and difficult of access, an army, never much larger than the body-guard of an Eastern monarch, may surely excuse, if they do not exculpate, such generals as Clinch, Gaines, Scott, and Jessup, from the charge of imbecility or indolence.
Since the cession of Florida to the United States, its inhabitants have been involved in almost incessant contests with the Indians. Remnants of the once powerful tribes that formerly roamed over the whole country, from the Potomac to the Gulf, had been driven, by the fate of war and the encroachments of civilization, to take refuge on this Peninsula, and here they determined, as needs they must, to make a final stand. Under the Spanish provincial government these Indians
met with no great inconvenience from the progress of settlement, and, as the swarthy sons of Spain found no serious objection to the darkeyed Indian maids, a state of amity and peace existed, such as we in vain look for in any Anglo-Indian colony. But, when the Territory was ceded to the United States, a flood of emigrants poured in upon them, which threatened soon to consign to the ruthless ploughshare their green and happy hunting grounds, and even the sacred resting places of their dead. Alarmed at ihis, they took up arms, and from that time down to their final expulsion, the murderous hatchei knew no rest, save when restrained by the strong arm of force. Many attempts had been made by the Government to relieve the Floridians from the presence of such disaffected and dangerous neighbors, and it was in resistance to a treaty of removal that the famous Osceola, in 1835, struck the blow that elicited the first sparks of that conflagration, which, in the end, involved himself and his nation in a common ruin. The act referred to was the murder of Emathla, a friendly chief, who, while making preparations to emigrate in compliance with the treaty, was waylaid and shot by Osceola, who thus became prominent at once as a leader in the
Soon after this unequivocal demonstration of hostility, followed the massacre of the gallant Dade and his command, and the war was commenced in earnest.
At the commencement of the campaign of 1837-8, little progress had been made toward bringing the war to a close. Osceola, indeed, was a prisoner, but Micanope, Cloud, Coa-Hadjo, and many others of the bravest of these sons of the forest still kept the field, determined to sell their country only with their lives.
The command of the army had, on the preceding year, been sought and won by General Jessup, who, partaking of the common dissatisfaction with regard to the management of the war, patriotically offered his services, in hopes of accomplishing what the Hero of Bridgewater and Chippewa had failed to effect
. The result proved his mistake. Uncommon preparations were made for this campaign ; troops had been drawn from almost every seaboard post ; recruits were raised, and volunteers called in from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Immense quantities of military stores of every kind were collected at the principal stations, and it was evident that Government had spared no pains or expense in providing its favorite with the means of carrying out his plans.
Such was the state of affairs in the autumn of 1837, when we made our “first appearance” at the seat of war. A pleasant sail of five days from New York had brought our gallant barque, with her living freight of officers and soldiers, to the mouth of the St. Johns ; and in a few
hours more, in the hands of a skillful pilot, she was threading the labarynthine mazes of the channel, by which this noble stream pours its tribute into the Ocean. The scenery at the mouth of the St. Johns has little to interest the lover of natural beauty : its shores are low and flat, covered with a stunted growth of tangled vines and shrubbery, among which, here and there, a stately Palmetto rears its losty head in solitary grandeur.
The river here is about a mile in width, and is entered by a narrow, dangerous channel. Within the bar, however, you have a noble stream, spreading out at times into an expansive lake, and again contracting its waters into a deep, rapid current. The scenery on the banks of the river, as you leave its mouth, though partaking of the monotonous level of the country, is extremely rich, owing to the magnificence and almost endless variety of the trees, shrubs, and flowers which flourish in perennial beauty on its winding shores.
The destination of our vessel was Gary's Ferry, on Black Creek, a branch of the St. Johns, into which it empties, about 50 miles from its mouth. In tow of a government steamer we were soon cutting at a merry rate the stygian waves of the creek, which derives its name from the color of its waters. When at rest, these might vie with Acheron itself for blackness, but when turned up by the oar, they present a beautiful amber hue, contrasting finely with the dark mass of water around. Upon the banks of this stream once stood some of the finest settlements in the Territory ; but now, nothing save the blackened remains of dwellings and outhouses, tell where once was happiness and prosperity. Ruthless war has laid his heavy hand upon the settlements, and a cruel and perfidious foe has not left even a dog to greet the traveler as he wanders over these melancholy scenes. In many places, the chimney of masonry is the only monument left to mark the spot where manhood and youth, innocence and age, shared a common death and a common funeral pyre. One of the most conspicuous of these is a tall column, standing near the entrance of the creek, affording a landmark to passengers upon the river. It was once the chimney of Ridgeley's steam. saw mill, and was painted white by the settlers, that it might mark the spot where fell a valued citizen, a victim to Indian perfidy and revenge.
Gary's Ferry is at the head of navigation of Black Creek, and during the war was a place of considerable importance as a depot for provisions, troops, and arms. Here we were to commence our military life. On our arrival we were met by the poor remnant of the once gallant battalion, whose ranks, shattered by disease and the fate of war, we were destined to recruit. The ragged uniforms and haggard looks of our future companions in arms, as we marched through their opened ranks, gave no pleasant omen of the service on which we had entered. We were received, however, with a soldier's welcome, and the poor fellows seemed to look upon us as new-found brothers, and well they might, for heavy duty had almost worn them out, so that there was perhaps as much of selfishness as love in the case.
On landing, we were marched at once to an open spot, in the pine woods, about a quarter of a mile in advance of the Fort, and ordered to pitch our tents for an encampment. Now! now! said the young and buoyant hearts among us; now for the romance of a soldier's life! A life in the camp for me! So thought the writer, but soon we found more reality than romance, even in an encampment.
The common field tent of the United States army is about seven feet by nine in area, and is designed to slow (I was about to say accommodate) six men! This, surely, is close quarters enough! Six stout, robust men, packed, like pickled herrings, in a space seven feet by nine ! Truly, there is little romance in an encampment. Yet the plan is not without its advantages, for as the tents, without floor or carpet, are pitched, like chicken coops, upon the bare damp ground, and the soldier's only bed is a single blanket, it adds no little to the comfort of these narrow dwellings to be able to spread three or four blankets upon the ground, while the compactness of the strata generates abundance of heat. Besides, as one at least from each tent is supposed to be always either on guard, in the hospital, or under arrest, there is not, really, so much inconvenience as the reader, who is accustomed to occupy, in single blessedness, one of the spacious chambers of Old Yale, might imagine.
The medical staff, to which the writer was attached, was provided with better, or at least more ample accommodations, though it was doubtful whether this advantage was any real benefit; for the fleas, which seemed to be proportioned to the area of soil, and not to the amount of flesh, made deadly havoc upon the favored few who slept, or rather tossed, alone, whilst their divided forces made no impression upon the compact masses in the field tents.
The Fort at Gary's Ferry, like most of those built in the Territory, was merely a stockade, built of pine or palmetto pickets, ten or twelve feet in length, set upright, so close together as to afford good protection against the rifles of the Indians. In civilized countries, these enclosures would have passed for hog-pens; but here, as they answered the purposes, they were dignified with the name of Forts, and bore, generally, the name of the officers who built or commanded them; the one at Gary's Ferry was called Fort Heileman.
The battalion, to which I was now attached for the campaign, consisting of two companies of the Second Infantry, may, perhaps, be taken as a fair specimen of the whole army.
Gathered from every quarter of the Union, il embraced men of almost every grade and character, and from every rank in life. The commercial embarrassment of that period, and the difficulties attendant upon it, had driven to the army many who in vain sought employment in their usual pursuits, and some who wished to drown amid its dissipations the memory of their misfortunes. A few, perhaps, were impelled by patriotic feelings to aid in ridding the Territory of such a cruel foe.' These things, in connection with the unusual efforts made at that time to fill the army to its utmost limits, had brought into the service many, who, under ordinary circumstances, would not have been found in it. On this account, the character of the army was, at that time, rather above than below its usual level.
Very few of the soldiers in the ranks were Americans by birth. Most of them were Irish or English, and of these no small portion were deserters from the British regiments in Canada. Many of these poor fellows bore
upon their backs ample proof of the barbarous severity of the service they had left. I remember particularly one of them, a tall, noble looking fellow, who had been Drum Major in a regiment of