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A SECOND REMINISCENCE OF THE LATE WAR.
"The King of France, with forty thousand men,
Marched up the hill, and theo — marched down again! "There appeared to be soine fatality attending almost all our attacks upon America, during the last war.' MARRYAT.
About the middle of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen, the inhabitants of a little village not far from the mouth of the Genesee river were thrown into a tumult of alarm, by the appearance of the British fleet under Sir J. L. Yeo, off their shores. In the general consternation and confusion, various expedients were proposed, rejected, suggested again,' for ridding themselves of their unwelcome visiter. Some were in favor of an immediate fortification of their dwellings; others thought it more easy to keep them off shore, and prevent their landing, than to defend their families after they had landed. The proposition was at last suggested, by a timid citizen, 'to retire,' and save what they could in a hurried flight. But stoutly and manfully the good people rejected this shameful proposition, and put their heads together to concoct a plan more agreeable to their sturdy patriotism.
During this time of doubt and uncertainty, it was a moving spectacle to see the 'tremblings of distress' which many of the good people exhibited, as the ships of the fleet slowly neared the shore. Mothers shrieked and clasped their infants to their bosoms in fearful anxiety; the little girls cried, while the larger ones looked to their sweet-hearts for protection in this hour of peril. These latter again bluntly declared that they would not run, but would ‘stick by and see fair play. Let the red-coats come on; we 'll meet 'em !' One young gallant, exasperated at seeing the affliction of his lady-love, swore that the British were 'a set of rascally, heathenish ragamuffins, good for nothing under God's heavens but to scare women and children!' The more sagacious saw in this move the destruction of their stores, and feared for the result.
Determining at last not to yield without a show of fight, the militia were assembled, men and boys, in all three hundred strong, and occupied an elevated position near the lake, whence they could see all the manæuvres of the fleet. Presently a boat was seen to put off from the commodore's ship. Now let the valiant soldiers nerve themselves for the contest! But stop! It is a flag of truce! Now our friends are in a worse dilemma than before, being entirely guiltless of any knowledge of military or naval etiquette, or indeed of military affairs in general, save the regular militia drill. What a predicament ! Nobody seerned to know what to do, but every body was of opinion that something must be done. After some deliberation, hastened undoubtedly by the rapid approach of the boat, Lieutenant B - was delegated to lead a file of men down to the water's edge, and find out what was wanted.'
As this lieutenant is a conspicuous character in this reminiscence, it may not be amiss to give the reader a description of his person, in the words of a back-woodsman : 'He was a great favorite among the
girls in the village, and had enjoyed a great name in the military line, having commanded a company of volunteers in New Hampshire, before he emigrated to the West. A shrewd yet reckless disposition marked all his actions. A man could n't get round him, no more than he could choke a lion, and yet he was as free, open-hearted a chap as ever kissed a pretty girl afore s knew it. I've seen him manduvering the sogers too, when Captain Shute used to be to the widow's, a-Saturday evening, and could n't attend to the military exercises.' In short, the gallant lieutenant was a universal favorite, particularly among the ladies, who regarded him as their especial guardian and champion, in these troublous times.
Putting himself at the head of his men, the worthy lieutenant marched rapidly down the hill, and forming a line near the water's edge, awaited the next movement in stern silence. Indeed, he afterward said that he was n't so very sure but the fellows in the boat wanted to play 'em a trick, and if there ever was a time when he felt a great responsibility on him, it was then.' He did not wait long, before he was hailed by the British messenger : • Is that the way you receive a flag of truce? It is generally the custom to meet without arms, on such occasions.'
Wal!' said the lieutenant, still maintaining his soldier-like position, without turning his head, I did n't know but you might cut up some deviltry or other with our people : howsumdever, as you seem to be a pretty peaceable, well-disposed, well-behaved sort of a fellow, my men may right about face a little ways.' So turning on his heel, a la militaire, he ordered his men to retire a few rods, and hold themselves in readiness for farther action. By this time, the boat was close in shore, and the messenger, an officer, as appeared from his uniform, was about stepping ashore, when the Yankee interrupted him :
* I say, hello, mister! you don't come on this ground, till I know what you ’re after! So, jest stay in the boat, and say your say out !'
The Englishman, perceiving that it would be useless to oppose this appeal, resumed his position in the boat, and declared his mission, which was, to demand a surrender of the stores that were concealed there or thereabout, on penalty of instant destruction in case of a refusal. Our officer replied :
*I do n't know about that 'ere last part of the business; but I will consult my superiors, and get their opinion on the subject.'
Turning to his men, he ordered them to wait, and not let that chap come ashore till he came back; when,' added he, addressing the officer, “I'll report progress, and let you know how we conclude to act.' So saying, he marched up the hill, and disappeared among the crowd. After some minutes' conversation with the older inhabitants, and a few young leaders in the little army, he resumed his march down the hill, and placing himself in front of his men, who had awaited his return, agreeably to orders, he delivered himself of the following reply to the demand of the British :
• I am ordered by the General to tell you that we shall keep the stores, until the king shall send a force sufficient to take them away. So, if you want 'em badly, you must get 'em the best way you can."
Somewhat astonished at the reception he had met with, and seeing nothing very inviting in the countenance of the sturdy Yankee, the servant of the king gave the word to his men, and quickly returned to his ship.
While these occurrences were taking place, the crowd on the hill were suddenly dispersed, and the militia, in regular order, filed off on the left into the brushwood, and marching round to the right, appeared again on the hill, in sight of the fleet, but in a different order, so as to present the appearance of a new company just arrived from another quarter. These again in turn filed off, and immediately another body of men came in directly in front, filed off, and disappeared like the former. These manœuvres were repeated again and again ; and the motley uniforms of the citizens, with a great noise of drum and fife, contributed not a little to the deception.
After this had continued a considerable time, the lieutenant remarked, probably being somewhat fatigued with his arduous duties, that 'the Britishers did n't seem in any hurry about them stores, and he reckoned that they would take time to consider the matter some, afore they tried it!' And so it proved; for the British commander deliberated a long time before making any apparent movement; and after firing a few guns, with no other effect than to waken the echoes of the dense forests which skirted the lake, and elicit a few screams from the females, he sailed leisurely away; to the no small gratification of the Americans, who feared for the success of their rusc. But the final disappearance of the fleet, in the course of the afternoon, quieted entirely the doubts of the most timorous; and they returned to their dwellings sincerely thanking that Providence, or fatality,' as the worthy captain has it, which had protected them from the destruction that had threatened them.
The evening was spent in joyous festivity, and the agents of this great “fatality' were by no means forgotten in the general joy. Lieutenant B
was the hero of the day, and nobly he bore his honors ; gallantly reaping the reward of his labors in the smiles of the ladies whom he had protected. It is even asserted that he was seen to steal various kisses from the lips of these pretty charmers, in the course of the evening.
G. H. M.
WHEN earnest lovers fain their love would prove,
Ou blest the land, and happy is the race,
• How much yellow dross' is offered, gentle-men, for the spiritual inheritance of the divine MILTON ? Well might the benighted world exclaim that Paradise was Lost, when his spirit passed from earth ! But, gentle-men, Paradise is Regained! Milton again lives in his works. Here they are; musical as the song of the nightingale, but spirit-stirring as the blast of the trumpet! How much is bid for Milton, the divine ?'
Such was the exclamation of the Ancient Book-Auctioneer, as, in the days of iny juvenility, I sauntered on a summer evening along one of the principal thoroughfares of the metropolis.
The pleasant voice of the knight of the hammer sounded soothingly amid the Babel-like din of the multitudinous throng that emptied itself through the city's principabartery; and I strolled unconsciously into the crowd which formed his evening levée.
The temple of which he was the presiding deity, was an apartment of some twenty feet square, around which, on shelves rudely constructed, were ranged in rank and file the well-thumbed productions of the intellectual giants of other days; interspersed with here and there a stray work of the moderns, rejoicing in ornamental-gilt, or sumptuous purple and fine linen. Behind a plain counter, and flanked in the rear by his new and second-hand literary wares, stood the Ancient Book-Auctioneer, flourishing his hammer with a grace and dignity wbich the mushroom monarchs of modern times might vainly attempt to rival. Elevated above his auditory by the aid of a three-legged stool, his lank figure towered majestically before us, albeit his attire exhibited that disregard of modern taste which constituted a principal feature in his mental structure.
The time-furrowed brow of the Ancient was lofty, and his thin gray hairs were carelessly
brushed aside, displaying to a casual observer a rather imposing physiognomy, although the extreme width of his mouth, and contracted chin, on a second glance, detracted from 'first impressions.' But his calm blue eye, beaming with benevolence, and mirroring, with rare fidelity, each passing thought, was the crowning feature. Even the cynic could not look upon its bland expression, and fail to respect its owner, the numerous eccentricities that betrayed themselves in his manner to the contrary notwithstanding.
But if his appearance was somewhat unique, that of his audience bordered on the grotesque. Seedy litérateurs of the last century, whose longings for the treasures ranged before them bore a sad disproportion to their ability to furnish the wherewithal for their purchase ; embryo authorlings, from twelve to fifteen years of age, dressed in time-worn garments, of all imaginable textures, hues, and shapes ; idlers of every grade, from the well-dressed man-about-town, to the tatterdemalion who claimed the green-sward in the Park for his couch, and the star-gemmed canopy for his bed-curtains; respectably clad mechanics, and ill-dressed laborers; and, few and far between, sickly students, with pale countenances, and learned savans in quest of some rare work embraced in the catalogue, composed the staple of the Ancient Book-Auctioneer's auditory.
Gentle-men, here's a copy — a magnificent copy of Plutarch's Lives. Poor old Plute ! as we used affectionately to call him at college; sad
rogues we were, in them days; it was a way we had, gentlemen, of nicknaming all the old heathen gods and goddesses. Wenus we used to call. Weeny;' Apollo, as I'm an honest man, we christened • Poll;' and Cicero we dubbed “Sis !! Well, gentlemen, how much for my old friend Plute ? - a genuine translation from the original Hebrew. To them that do n't read Hebrew, its best to say that Plutarch, or Pluto - he's sometimes called one and sometimes t'other — was one of the very biggest of the heathen gods — a screamer, I tell you! Well, he came down to earth in the shape of a tremendu-ous tom-cat! True as gospel, gentlemen! That's the reason that folks say a cat has nine lives, because old Plute had nine lives ; and here's a faithful history of the whole of them, bound in calf. How much, gentlemen, for my college friend Plute? Gentlemen, how much? Say ten dollars, to start it, gentlemen!'
The above classic harangue was the original emanation of the Modern Book-Auctioneer's mind; and as its unique phraseology fell on my ear, I resolved to lounge away an idle hour in the capacious saloon in which he dispensed his favors. As my mind glanced back through the vanished years, and Memory summoned the Ancient BookAuctioneer from his quiet resting place, the contrast between himself and his successor was sufficiently striking. The first was a noble ruin of the classic ages, dilapidated and time-worn ; exhibiting at every angle the triumph of decay, but beautiful in the symmetry of its proportions, and the romantic interest blended with its early associations. His immediate successor is a modern imitation of the ancient edifice ; cumbrous with ill-adapted ornament, and flashing in the brightness of tinsel and varnish. Indeed the specimen of the Modern Book-Auctioneer, herein introduced, is himself experiencing the mutability of power; his influence is fast waning before a new