« PreviousContinue »
wife's rheumatism! I don't suppose she'll stir out again this winter. Heat up a house like an oven, and get us all into a dripping sweat, so that we had to open the windows and sit in the cold wind. Well, I knew how 'twould be—the Doctor will have business enough for this, I'm thinking."
Parson W. said not a word, but walking deliberately down the aisle, he took hold of the Deacon's hand, and laid it slowly on the stoves, first on one and then on the other; not a word was said, but the truth flashed like a sunbeam on the Deacon's mind. He had been humbugged and fooled, and, worst of all, he had made a dolt of himself gratuitously, by taking off his coat and fanning himself in a cold church, and the only satisfaction was that he was not the only one. Straight as a string, and as silent too, the Deacon walked for his own door. The old house dog met him on the steps, with a wagging tail and a sparkling eye, and got a kick for his pains, that sent him yelping half across the yard. The Deacon wasn't at church that afternoon, but somehow or other the story had got abroad, and though there was a fire in the afternoon, there were no windows opened and no fans used. There were several other members of the congregation missing beside the Deacon, but those who were there were very attentive to the sermon; and except that now and then a sly glance was interchanged between some of the ladies, all passed off quietly, and from that time forward no more complaints were heard about the stoves. A new house followed in a few years, and carpets and lamps were added without a murmur, but it was a long time before the old Deacon recovered from the chagrin which he felt at being so sadly fooled.
Old jowler's ribs soon got better of the bruise ; but a hint about stoves and warm houses, would disturb the good Deacon's equanimity for two years after the imaginary roasting.
THE NESTOR OF HUNTERS AND BACKWOODSMEN.
" Of all men, saving Sylla, the man-slayer,
It must have been about the year 1747, when a party of hunters, evidently excited and alarmed, were hurrying through the wild forest,
* Boon never was a General. His military honors ceased with the rank of Colonel. As for killing nothing but bears and bucks, everybody (fools and Englishmen excepted) knows better. We are happy to say that the versification, the grammar, the wit and the truth of these eight lines are about equal to each other.
which in those days skirted the romantic Schuylkill. They were searching for the tracks of a child. The lad, though only ten years of age, was singular in his disposition and habits. He had been noted for killing all the squirrels, racoons and wild-cats that crossed his path, ever since he had been able to point a rifle. It was in the pursuit of this wild amusement that he had strayed from home ; but he had not as usual returned at night. One of the party who were engaged in this midnight search, was his father, who reasonably dreaded that the adventurous spirit of his boy had exposed him to some fatal peril. They shouted, but no answer came. They separated, and ran with their torches of fire-knots, throwing a wild glare through the solemn old woods, in every direction. After they had traveled about four miles, wreaths of smoke, slightly tinged with flame, were seen gracefully curling through the thick foliage of the trees, while the savory steam of wasted venison furnished a truly civilized argument in favor of their nearness to a human being. When they approached, the miniature huntsman was found comfortably seated in a little hut, turning with the gravity of a gourmand, the half-roasted loin of a fat buck upon the coals. The skins of several animals which he had killed, lying near him, gave strong evidence of preparations for passing the night, notwithstanding the probable astonishment of his “anxious and inquiring friends." Had America produced a Salvator Rosa, this embryo huntsman, with delicate figure and blue eyes, camping out for the first time
among the bears and wild-cats, would be an admirable study for the artists' fancy. Reader, before he catches the paternal eye, or has cooked that savory morsel quite to his liking, let us introduce to you-Daniel Boone !
Thus early did the “ First Hunter of Kentucky" make manifest his strange passion for forest-life and his fitness for entering upon and sus. taining well the character of a pioneer.
A PIONEER !-What can be found noble or interesting in the history of a pioneer? We answer, that to us, few characters, whether real or fictitious, seem more truly romantic and captivating than this. A hero, he differs from all other heroes. The Grecian warrior, as he plunged into the deadly ranks of his enemy, could gather inspiration from the thought of a proud father, a Spartan mother, or the city which gave him birth, of the crown, the triumphal arch, and the Elysium of the brave.
The knight of the Dark Ages, maddened by the love of ideal beauty, by superstition, by the gorgeous phantasm of glory, was wont to court all hardship and defy all danger. But the pioneer neither hopes nor desires that the fame of his intrepidity shall return to the world that he leaves behind him. He would laugh at the idea of the goddess, es of the old baronial hall, who blessed victorious men with their di. vine charms. He does not even look for wealth in the mysterious region for which he departs. He notches the trees, as it were, to direct the living millions who follow with slow march behind him, yet lays out no lithographic cities and petitions for rail-ways. His self-abandonment requires no brilliant prospect to stimulate it. What men call dear, he forgets ; what they call great, he despises. He wills riches and reputation to those who want them, and plunges into danger and oblivion.
When Cooper's works of fiction became well known in Europe, discriminating critics found in the character of Leather-Stocking a new creation and not only did they discover that it was new, but that it was a grand conception. Yet we believe it to be nearly a faithful delineation of some of our brave Western pioneers. At all events, in sketching Boone, we are sure that the original of one of this wonderful race is before us. We borrow not from fiction in describing his character. We do not throw him among circumstances conjured up by imagination. Yes, his history is more surprising than those commonly · recorded in the annals of human enterprise, and around his character lingers a romantic lustre, which seldom distinguishes a personage of real life.
Boone was almost gigantic in form, and yet his symmetry and activity were fully equal to his strength. The expression of his face was good-humored, and yet commanding. His bright blue eye would suggest at once the idea that he possessed a disposition enthusiastic in its thirst for excitement, and yet incapable of spending itself in sudden impulses. His endurance was more remarkable than his prodigious muscular force. His manners were those of a backwoods gentleman. He was generous enough to get into trouble for all his friends, if they desired it, too frank to mince matters either in words or actions, the first to encounter and the last to retire from danger, and (strange as it may appear) singularly modest. He was one of those rare beings in whom the human heart would instinctively put its trust. His ruling passion was love of adventure. He possessed that restlessness of character, which qualified him for the performance of certain labors which seem necesary to the good of mankind, but which few have the heroism to undertake, or the constancy. to execute. To these virtues we must add others. He could " bark off” squirrels with a rifle ball at any given distance, and could trepan (vulgo. scalp) a savage with his tomahawk as well as a Surgeon or a Seminole.
Boone has as many birth-places, less one, as Homer. Some say that he was born in England---that is impossible, without argument. Others state that he was born during the passage of his parents from Europe to this country. Some call him a native of Virginia—others of North Carolina. Marshall, the biographer of Washington, represents that he was born in Maryland, about the year 1746 But this is easily proved to be a mistake. His oldest son was killed by the Indians, with whom he was fighting bravely, in 1773. According to Mr. Marshall's statement, therefore, Boone would be required at ihe age of twenty-seven, to have a son old enough to fight Indians. This is apocryphal. But if we suppose that he was a father at twenty-one, and that his brave boy was fifteen when he fell, we come to the satisfactory result that Daniel Boone was born about the year 1737, in Bucks County, Penn
sylvania. His parents moved from this place when our hero was three years old, and settled on the Schuylkill. It was during their residence in this latter place that Daniel received his education. He attended what is significantly called in the South and West the “old field school.” Every forenoon, at recess, the teacher would take a walk. On his return, the boys observed that he was not unfrequently ill-natured and disposed to punish them. They could not account for it. One day, while Daniel was chasing a squirrel that chanced to cross his path, he found a bottle filled with Monongahela—a liquid with which some of our readers may possibly be familiar under the delusive name of Scotch or Irish Whiskey. The mystery was solved. Here was the secret of his master's cruelty. Young Boone made known his discovery to some of his companions. The bottle was removed, and one containing tartar-emetic substituted in its place. The instructor took his usual walk on the following morning. Soon after his return the boys had the satisfaction of witnessing the success of their wicked experiment. The master looked sick, turned pale, and was more out of humor than ever. Every thing seemed to go very much against his stomach. Several boys were called up to recite, and were whipped severely. It was at last Daniel's turn.“ If you subtract six from nine, what remains ?” " Three, sir.” “Very good. If you take three thirds from a whole, what remains ?" “ The whole, sir," was the prompt reply. “You litile stupid blockhead,” said the master, applying the birch at the same time, “ how does that appear ?" " Well, sir, if I take away one bottle of whiskey, and put in its place another, in which I have mixed a puke, the whole will remain, if nobody drinks it.” In consequence of this accident, the school was discontinued, and thus ended the school-boydays of Daniel Boone.
He betook himself again to his favorite sport. His faithful dog Rover, and his rifle, were his companions; and he was never so happy as when roaming through the forest in quest of game. During the ten years' residence of the family on the Schuylkill, the country had become thickly settled, and game less abundant. On this account it was thought advisable to look for another new home. Flattering accounts of the beautiful and rich country of North Carolina were spreading abroad. Boone moved thither and settled on the banks of the river Yadkin. A log cabin was soon built, and some land cleared. While Daniel's father and brothers were engaged in uilling the soil and improving their new place, he, with his dog and gun, was supplying provisions. Meanwhile other adventurers were coming in. Among them was a worthy man, named Bryan-Boone's neighbor. At this period our hero had an adventure, which, as it had much influence in moulding his character and shaping his destiny, we think deserves a passing notice. On a certain dark night, Daniel and one of his companions went out on a FIRE-HUNT. Perhaps some reader is ready to ask what a fire-hunt means. We will explain the meaning of this household word of Southern and Western hunters. Two persons are necessary for a fire-hunt. One carries a blazing torch of light-wood (pitch-pine) vol. XI.
in an elevated position, while the other follows close behind him with the gun. The animal, when stariled, stands gazing at the torch, and its eyes can be seen distinctly shining. Hunters call this “shining the eyes," and the rifleman bas by this means a fair shot. This mode of hunting is still practiced in the newly-settled parts of our country. Boone and his companion had not proceeded far-Boone carrying the rifle—when a pair of sparkling eyes was seen shining. He leveled his gun, but the animal bolted before he could fix his sight upon it. True to his nature, he darted off after it, his friend remaining behind. A hot chase was continued for some distance, but our hunter lost track of his game; and to his surprise found himself near neighbor Bryan's” cabin. It was a mysterious affair. Once he had met with an over-match. He concluded to relate his adventure to Mr. Bryan, and accordingly entered the cabin ; but no sooner had he commenced his story than a maiden of "sweet sixteen” rushed into the house from an adjoining apartment, crying—“O father! father ! sister is frightened to death! She went down to the river and was chased by a panther !" It is unnecessary to tell the reader that our hunter and his game had met. There was now a mutual “shining of eyes," ay, more, he was shot to the heart. In a few months Daniel Boone and Rebecca Bryau, to the joy of all concerned, were united in happy marriage, and the wound got well.
Boone now sought and found a new home on the head waters of the Yadkin. “Here,” said he, " is the resting place for me ; here Rebecca and myself shall be happy.” As his first object was to make a pleasant home for his family, he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, and hunted only when he found leisure time. He resided here several years ; but meanwhile the crack of other rifles and the barking of other dogs than his own, began to be heard. This annoyed him. In speaking of a new-comer who had settled within fisteen miles of him, he said, that he “ did not like to have a man come and stick himself down right under his nose.” Boone desired to plunge deeper into the wilderness, and accordingly, on “the first of May, 1769," as he himself tells us, “ he resigned bis domestic happiness, and left his family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin river, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America, in quest of the country of Kentucky. His companions were five in number—John Finley, John Stewart, Joseph Holden, James Mooney, and William Coole. Equipped with their shot-bags, powder-horns, traps, and blankets-armed with their rifles, and dressed in hunting attire, leggings and moccasons, the little party commenced their perilous journey in the true spirit of hazardous adventure. Thus, without compass or guide of any kind, to steer his way through the pathless forests, Boone found himself, not like Moses of Egyptian memory, the leader of armed followers, impelled by the fear or love of God to obedience, but the leader of voluntary comrades, who without the working of miracles, reposed entire confidence in his judgment and fortitude. The party was on foot. When hungry, they seasted on venison and wild turkeys; when thirsty, they found springs of cool water at which to slake their thirst;