« PreviousContinue »
Is it or modesty or pride
Ye powers who rule the tongue-if such there are,
Dubious is such a scrupulous, good man-
A story, in which native humor reigns,
May furnish illustration, well applied ;
SLEIGHING SONG.—JAMES T. FIELDS.
Oh swift we go, o'er the fleecy snow,
When moonbeams sparkle round; When hoofs keep time to music's chime,
As merrily on we bound.
On a winter's night, when hearts are light,
And health is on the wind,
And leave our cares behind.
With a laugh and song, we glide along
Across the fleeting snow;
On the beautiful track below!
Oh, the raging sea has joy for me,
When gale and tempests roar;
And I'll ask for the waves no more.
SUNRISE AND SOLITUDE.-WORDSWORTH.
The cock had crowed, and now the eastern sky
When from our better selves we have too long
PUDDLEFORD AND ITS PEOPLE.-H. H. RILEY.
The township of Puddleford was located in the far west, and was, and is unknown, I presume, to a large portion of my readers. It has never been considered of sufficient importance by atlas-makers to be designated by them; and yet men, women, and children live and die in Puddleford. Its population helps make up the census of the United States every ten years; it helps make governors, congress-men, presidents
. Puddleford does, and fails to do, a great many things, just like the rest of mankind,' and yet, who knows and cares anything about Puddleford ?
Puddleford was well enough as a township of land, and beautiful was its scenery. It was spotted with bright, clear lakes, reflecting the trees that stooped over them; and straight through its centre flowed a majestic river, guarded by hills on either side. The village of Puddleford (there was a village of Puddleford, too) stood huddled in a gorge that opened up from the river; and through it, day and night, a little brook ran tinkling along, making music around the settlement. The houses in Puddleford were very shabby indeed; I am very sorry to be compelled to make that fact public, but they were very shabby. Some were built of logs, and some of boards, and some were never exactly built at all, but came together through a combination of circumstances which the “oldest inhabitant” has never been able to explain. The log-houses were just like log-houses in every place else; for no person has yet been found with impudence enough to suggest an improvement. A pile of logs, laid up and packed in mrud; a mammoth fire-place, with a chimney-throat as large; a lower story and a garret, connected in one corner by a ladder, called “ Jacob's ladder,” are its essentials. A very few ambitious persons in Puddleford had, it is true, attempted to build frame-houses, but there was never one entirely finished yet. Some of them had erected a frame only, when, their purses having failed, the enterprise was left at the mercy of the storms. Others had covered their frames; and one citizen, old Squire Longbow, had actually finished off two rooms; and this, in connection with the office of justice of the peace, gave him a standing and influence in the settlement almost omnipotent.
The reader discovers, of course, that Puddleford was a very miscellaneous-looking place. It appeared unfinished, and ever likely to be. It did really seem that the houses, and cabins, and sheds, and pig-sties, had been sown up and down the gorge, as their owners sowed wheat. The only harmony about the place was the harmony of confusion.
Puddleford had a population made up of all sorts of people, who had been, from a variety of causes, thrown together just there;
every person owned a number of dogs, so that it was very difficult to determine which were numerically the strongest, the inhabitants or the dogs. There were great droves of cows owned, too, which were in the habit of congregating every morning, and marching some miles to a distant marsh to feed to the jingle of the bells they wore on their necks.
Puddleford was not destitute of a church, not by any means. The “ log chapel,” when I first became acquainted with the place, was an ancient building. It was erected at a period almost as carly as the tavern-not quite--temporal wants pressing the early settlers closer than spiritual.
This, reader, is a skeleton view of Puddleford, as it existed when I first knew it. Just out of this village, some time during the last ten years, I took possession of a large tract of land, called “burr-oak opening,” that is, a wide, sweeping plain, thinly clad with burr-oaks. Few sights in nature are more beautiful. The eye roams over these parks unobstructed by undergrowth, the trees above, and the sleeping shadows on the grass below.
The first time I looked upon this future home of mine, It lay calm and bright, bathed
in the warm sun of a May morning, and filled with birds. The buds were just breaking into leaf, and the air was sweet with the wild-wood fragrance of spring. Piles of mosses, soft as velvet, were scattered about. Wild violets, grouped in clusters, the white and red lupin, the mountain pink, and thousands of other tiny flowers, bright as sparks of fire, mingled in confusion. It was alive with birds ; the brown thrasher, the robin, the blue jay poured forth their music to the very top of their lungs. The thrasher, with his brown dress and very quizzical look, absolutely revelled in a luxury of melody. He mocked all the birds about him. Now he was as good a blue-jay as blue-jay himself, and screamed as loud; but suddenly bouncing around on a limb, and slowly stretching out his wings, he died away in a most pathetic strain ; then, darting into another tree, and turning his saucy eye inquisitively down, he rattled off a chorus or two, that I