Page images

vast primeval forests would be still more rapidly converted into smiling fields, teeming with yellow harvests; cities would arise with even yet more astonishing celerity, furnished with ample warehouses to garner the precious burden; steam-boats would trail their smoky banners' upon every river; and the fire-steed breathe flame from his iron nostril, as, panting yet unwearied, he drags the hurtling train, with its rich freightage, through every valley of our wide and beautiful country; and Commerce, hovering with white wings over the Atlantic, and smiling in triumph at her victory over the demon of war, would bear from shore to shore, in willing arms, the rich and daily augmenting treasures intrusted to her care.

[blocks in formation]


Is it life, is it life, in the picture I see?
Can the grave yield its victim, the past smile on me?
From caverns of ocean, from shades of the night,
Comes this vision of beauty, this being of light?

Let me gaze, let me gaze on that radiant brow,
On the lips breathing life, on the cheek's mantling glow;
Oh! 't is youth's purest bloom, it is life's sweetest grace,
'T is the past smiling back from that beautiful face!


Let me gaze, let me gaze! can the picture be true?
Was the eye's lustre thus, and the cheek's this bright hue?
Was it thus in the halls of the mirthful she shone,
Like a star in the firmament, peerless and lone ?
Was the hair bound with roses ? the eyes flashing light?
Let me gaze, let me gaze on the youthful and bright!
So looked she, so smiled she, in years that are gone;
But we greet not her footsteps, we hear not her tone!
Oh, 't is life! but the friends of her youth are all fled,
In the halls where she shone, the fresh garlands are dead:
And the loving and loved wept her long and in vain ;
By the dim shore they parted, and met not again!
Oh! 't is life, it is life, in the picture I see,
'Tis the past breathing back in its beauty to me;,
But there's grief with that beauty, there's wo with its bloom,
When I gaze on that fair face, and think of her doom!
In the silence of night, from those lips came a moan,
On those bright sunny tresses the salt spray was thrown;
And those deep eyes sought vainly some help to descry,
When the tempesi swepi past, and the billows dashed high!

Some pearly sea-cave may now pillow her head,
By some nymph of the wave might her dirge have been said,
As the white waters closed o'er the form once so fair,
And the loud wailing winds rose above her wild prayer!
Oh! 'tis life, it is life!- for the picture smiles yet,
With youth's mocking bloom, but her sun hath long set;
We gaze on her beauty, we wait for her tone,

But ihe grave keeps its trust, and the sea holds its own!
Brooklyn, 1839.

L. K.






Oh, for the good old days of Adam and Eve!' when vagabond idlers were not; or the good old days of the pilgrim fathers of New-England, when they were suitably rewarded! That they could not bide those days, there is extant the following testimony. In the early court records of that portion of the old Bay State called the District of Maine, in the year 1645, we have the following entry of a presentment by a grand jury:

We present Jerry Guttridge for an idle person, and not providing for his family, and for giving reproachful language to Mr. Nat. Frier, when he reproved him for his idleness.

• The court, for his offence, adjudges the delinquent to have twenty lashes on his back, and to bring security to the court, to be of better behaviour, in providing for his family.'

The whole history of this affair, thus faintly shadowed forth in these few lines, has recently come to light, and is now for the first time published, for the benefit of the world, as hereafter followeth.



[ocr errors]

· Wulat shall we have for dinner, Mr. Guttridge ?' said the wife of Jerry Guttridge, in a sad, desponding tone, as her husband came into their log hovel, from a neighboring grog-shop, about twelve o'clock on a hot July day.

• 0, pick up something,' said Jerry, and I wish you would be spry and get it ready, for I'm hungry now, and I want to go back to the shop; for Sam Willard and Seth Harmon are coming over, by an' by, to swap horses, and they 'll want me to ride 'em. Come, stir round; I can't wait.'

• We have n't got any thing at all in the house to eat,' said Mrs. Guttridge. What shall I get ?'

: • Well, cook something,' said Jerry; 'no matter what it is.'

• But, Mr. Guttridge, we have n't got the least thing in the house to cook.'

• Well, well, pick up something,' said Jerry, rather snappishly, 'for I'm in a hurry.'

• I can't make victuals out of nothing,' said the wife; you only bring any thing in the world into the house to cook, I 'll cook it. But I tell you, we have n't got a mouthful of meat in the house, nor a mouthful of bread, nor a speck of meal; and the last potatoes we had in the house, we ate for breakfast ; and you know we didn't have more than half enough for breakfast, neither.'

Well, what have you been doing all this forenoon,' said Jerry, that you have n't picked up something? Why did n't you go over to Mr. Whitman's, and borrow some meal ?'

Because,' said Mrs. Guttridge, 'we 've borrowed meal there three times, that is n't returned yet; and I was ashamed to go again, till that



[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]




was paid. And beside, the baby's cried so, I've had to 'tend him the whole forenoon, and could n't go

out.' • Then

you a' n't a-goin' to give us any dinner, are you?' said Jerry, with a reproachful tone and look. •I pity the man that has a helpless, shiftless wife; he has a hard row to hoe. What's become of that fish I brought in yesterday ?'

• Why, Mr. Guttridge,' said his wife, with tears in her eyes, you and the children ate that fish for your supper last night. I never tasted a morsel of it, and have n't tasted any thing but potatoes these two days; and I 'm so faint now, I can hardly stand.'

* Always a-grumblin',' said Jerry ; ' I can't never come into the house, but what I must hear a fuss about something or other. What's this boy snivelling about ?' he continued, turning to little Bobby, his oldest boy, a little ragged, dirty-faced, sickly-looking thing, about six years old; at the same time giving the child a box on the ear, which laid him his length on the floor. Now shet up!' said Jerry,' or I 'll

* learn you to be crying about all day for nothing.'

• The tears rolled afresh down the cheeks of Mrs. Guttridge; she sighed heavily, as she raised the child from the floor, and seated him on a bench, on the opposite side of the room.

• What is Bob crying about?' said Jerry, fretfully,

• Why, Mr. Guttridge,' said his wife, sinking upon the bench beside her little boy, and wiping his tears with her apron,


child has been crying for a piece of bread these two hours. He's ate nothin' to-day, but one potato, and I s'pose the poor thing is half starved.'

At this moment their neighbor, Mr. Nat. Frier, a substantial farmer, and a worthy man, made his appearance at the door; and as it was wide open, he walked in, and took a seat. He knew the destitute condition of Guttridge's family, and had often relieved their distresses. His visit at the present time was partly an errand of charity; for, being in want of some extra labor in his haying.field that afternoon, and knowing that Jerry was doing nothing, while his family was starving, he thought he would endeavor to get him to work for him, and pay him in provisions.

Jerry seated himself rather sullenly on a broken-backed chair, the only sound one in the house being occupied by Mr. Frier, toward whom he cast sundry gruff

' looks and surly glances. The truth was, Jerry had not received the visits of his neighbors, of late years, with a very gracious welcome. He regarded them rather as spies, who came to search out the nakedness of the land, than as neighborly visitors, calling to exchange friendly salutations. He said not a word; and the first address of Mr. Frier was to little Bobby.

• What 's the matter with little Bobby?' said he, in a gentle tone; come, my little fellow, come here and tell me what's the matter.'

‘Go, run, Bobby; go and see Mr. Frier,' said the mother, slightly pushing him forward with her hand.

The boy, with one finger in his mouth, and the tears still rolling over his dirty face, edged along side-ways up to Mr. Frier, who took him in his lap, and asked him again what was the matter.

'I want a piece of bread!' said Bobby. "And wont your mother give you some ?' said Mr. Frier, tenderly.



‘She ha' n't got none,' replied Bobby, ‘nor 'taters too.' Mrs. Guttridge's tears told the rest of the story. The worthy farmer knew they were entirely out of provisions again, and he forebore to ask any farther questions; but told Bobby if he would go over to his house, he would give him something to eat. Then turning to Jerry, said he :

* Neighbor Guttridge, I've got four tons of hay down, that needs to go in this afternoon, for it looks as if we should have rain by tomorrow; and I 've come over to see if I can get you to to go and help me. If



go this afternoon, and assist me to get it in, I 'll give you a bushel of meal, or a half bushel of meal and a bushel of potatoes, and two pounds of pork.'

I can't go,' said Jerry; 'I've got something else to do.' “O, well,' said Mr. Frier, ‘if you 've got any thing else to do, that will be more profitable, I 'm glad of it, for there's enough hands that I can get; only I thought you might like to go, bein' you was scant of provisions.'

Do pray go, Mr. Guttridge !' said his wife, with a beseeching look, ' for you are only going over to the shop to ride them horses, and that wont do no good ; you'll only spend all the afternoon for nothin', and then we shall have to go to bed without our supper, again. Do pray go, Mr. Guttridge, do!'

• I wish you would hold your everlasting clack !' said Jerry; you are always full of complainings. It's got to be a fine time of day, if the women are a-goin' to rule the roast. I shall go over and ride them horses, and it's no business to you nor nobody else ; and if you are too lazy to get your own supper, you may go without it; that's all I 've got to say.'

With that he aimed for the door, when Mr. Frier addressed him as follows:

• Now I must say, neighbor Guttridge, if you are going to spend the afternoon over to the shop, to ride horses for them jockeys, and leave your family without provisions, when you have a good chance to 'arn enough this afternoon to last them nigh about a week, I must say, neighbor Guttridge, that I think you are not in the way of your duty.'

Upon this, Jerry whirled round, and looked Mr. Frier full in the face,' grinning horribly a ghastly smile,' and said he :

• You old, miserable, dirty, meddling vagabond ! you are a scoun. drel, and a scape-gallows, and an infernal small piece of a man, I think! I've as good a mind to kick you out of doors, as ever I had to eat! Who made you a master over me, to be telling me what 's my duty? You better go home, and take care of your own brats, and let your neighbors' alone !'

Mr. Frier sat and looked Jerry calmly in the face, without uttering a syllable; while he, having blown his blast, marched out of doors, and steered directly for the grog-shop, leaving his wife to pick up something,' if she could, to keep herself and children from absolute starvation.'

Mr. Frier was a benevolent man, and a christian, and in the true spirit of christianity he always sought to relieve distress, wherever he found it. He was endowed, too, with a good share of plain com



mon sense, and knew something of human nature ; and as he was well aware that Mrs. Guttridge really loved her husband, notwithstanding his idle habits, and cold, brutal treatment to his family, he forbore to remark upon the scene which had just past; but telling the afflicted woman he would send her something to eat, he took little Bobby by the hand, and led him home. A plate of victuals was set before the child, who devoured it with a greediness that was piteous to behold.

• Poor cre'tur !' said Mrs. Frier; why, he's half starved ! Betsey, bring him a dish of bread-and-milk; that will set the best on his poor, empty, starved stomach.'

Betsey ran and got the bowl of bread-and-milk, and little Bobby's hand soon began to move from the dish to his mouth, with a motion as steady and rapid as the pendulum of a clock. The whole family stood and looked on, with pity and surprise, until he had finished his meal, or rather until he had eaten as much as they dared allow him to eat at once; for although he had devoured a large plate of meat and vegetables, and two dishes of bread-and-milk, his appetite seemed as ravenous as when he first began; and he still, like the memorable Oliver Twist, asked for more.'

While Bobby had been eating, Mr. Frier had been relating to his family the events which had occurred at Guttridge's house, and the starving condition of the inmates ; and it was at once agreed, that something should be sent over immediately ; for they all said Mrs. Guttridge was a clever woman, and it was a shame that she should be left to suffer so.'

Accordingly, a basket was filled with bread, a jug of milk, and some meat and vegetables, ready cooked, which had been left from their dinner; and Betsey ran and brought a pie, made from their last year's dried pumpkins, and asked her mother if she might not put that in, ‘so the poor starving cre'turs might have a little taste of something that was good.'

· Yes,' said her mother, ‘and put in a bit of cheese with it; I do n't think we shall be any the poorer for it; for 'he that giveth to the poor,

lendeth to the Lord.' Yes, yes,' said Mr. Frier, “and I guess you may as well put in a little dried pumpkin ; she can stew it up for the little ones, and it 'll be good for 'em. We've got a plenty of green stuff a-growin,' to last till pumpkins come again.' So a quantity of dried pumpkin was also packed into the basket, and the pie laid on top, and George was despatched, in company with little Bobby, to carry it over.

Mr. Frier's benevolent feelings had become highly excited. He forgot his four tons of hay, and sat down to consult with his wife about what could be done for the Guttridge family. Something must be done soon; he was not able to support them all the time; and if they were left alone much longer, they would starve. He told his wife he had a good mind to go and enter a complaint to the grand jury ag'in' Jerry, for a lazy, idle person, that did n't provide for his family. The court sets at Saco to-morrow, and do n't you think, wife, I had better go and do it ?'

His wife thought he had better go over first and talk with Mrs. Guttridge about it; and if she was willing, he had better do it. Mr.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »