« PreviousContinue »
pleasant to the spectator, and though simple, are imposing. A group of gray-heads and time-worn forms; expressions of polite regards, in different accents and various language; bows and kind assurances, are the staple scenes and sounds on such occasions.
At the same time, it is right republican to see the President, with a free-and-easy air, ask his Secretary of State to light a paper that he may convey the blaze thereof to a pipe, the stem of which would not measure in length more than three inches, and the smoke from the bowl thereof would coil up within a hair's breadth of the presidential nose. It reminds one of those calm and luxurious times, signalized in the reign of WOUTER VAN TWILLER, in the days when the KNICKERBOCKERS pryamids of their day and generation — towered aloft in Dutch and daring dignity.
AMONG the fair women of that day and hour, was the gifted and accomplished **** L. —. Song, it was said, had breathed around her footsteps from lyres of fame; and one devoted bard― (so Rumor breathes) poured after her, when abroad, the song that ensueth. He had heard, erroneously, that she was dead:
Nothing can well be prettier, or more pathetic, than this effusion: yet the catastrophe part, as my friend of the Albany Argus would say, was gratuitous.' The parties afterward, mayhap, read it together, and pointed out the chronological inaccuracies: which reminds me, or might remind me, of a circumstance lately related in one of the western papers, where a gentleman who had been advertised as deceased, wrote a polite note to the editor of the journal,
Premature Obituary - Strict Construction?"
(who had thus among his personal ship-news recorded a false clearance for eternity,) somewhat as follows:
'MY DEAR SIR: Will you allow me to correct a slight statement in your last, with reference to my death? I am grateful for the compliments to my character in your obituary notice, and I believe them deserved. That I tried to do the handsome thing while I lived, is most true; true, too, is it, that I never backed out of a fight, and never saw the man that could whip me, when alive; and I say the same yet, being dead,' according to your story. But when you state, that I left my affairs unsettled, and my widow and those eleven children unprovided for, I have only to state, that you lie in your throat! I mean no offence in what I say; I speak in the aggregate sense of the term. Being a dead man, and printed down as such in your columns, I am incapable of mortal resentments; but I leave as my avengers, CAIN, ABEL, and SIMPKINS, printers and publishers of the Occidental Trumpet and Mississippi Battle-Axe. To the editor of that paper, I subinit my fame. To his indomitable coolness, never yet ruffled by repeated contumely, and invulnerable to contempt, I confide my reputation feeling certain that one who has never found satisfaction for any insult, (nor sought it indeed,) can fail to be a champion in my cause. That he may be in peril in my advocacy, is possible; but he knows how to shun it. He is independent, for he is unknown; he is fearless, for no man will touch a hair of his head. To that immortal GULLIVER, in whatsoever cave or fastness he may dwell, I surrender my fame. Yours, 'till death,
ROSWELL ADAMS GREENE.'
But I wander and I recall my rambling spirit back to the American capital.
ATTENDED church. 'T is a dull business in Washington. One's devotional feelings, that in ordinary cities kindle and rise heavenward, at the anthems of the choir, or the pealing of the organ, come down, in the metropolis of the republic, to the shallow and factitious distinctions of this common sphere of earth. The preachers at Washington have been variously described. Just before the session of the National Legislature, as at the period of which I speak, crowds of the reverend cloth convene, for the chaplaincy of Congress, and other purposes. Of course, as many of these as can, accomplish the entré to the metropolitan desk, to display their powers. The divine I had the happiness to hear, in some respects resembled the man whom my dear lamented SANDS described in his 'Scenes at Washington.' Argument was his hobby; and he would curtail a sentence of its dimensions, and subvert all gleanings, scriptural, historical, or political, to fortify the same. He reminded me of that queer and rural divine, of whom I have heard in Massachusetts, who found his congregation indulging in all the extravagances of provincial fashion, and rebuked them en masse, (especially the fairer part, who indulged in flaunting top-knots, and dresses of the head,) by choosing for one of his sermons the following text: Top-knot come down! From this text he deduced a world of sacred ratiocination : He expatiated upon the uselessness of top-knots, and enlarged upon the scriptural injunction that they should come down. Toward the close of his sermon, he confessed that he had merely adopted a clause; but he said that any detached sentence, even, from Holy Writ, was profitable for reproof and for instruction. The context of the clause,' he added, 'I will now join with the text. It is thus written Let him that is on the house-top not come down,' Com ment is unnecessary!'
THERE is a story of this same man of God, now gathered to his fathers, (or named at least of him,) for which I have great respect. It seems that he encountered a confirmed infidel one evening at a donation-party- a man who respected the pastor of the town, though he did not credit his doctrines. By accident, they engaged in a controversy, and the infidel endeavored to prove, by Holy Writ, in the same text-choosing method for which his opponent was proverbial, that the priests of old were drunkards, and that they imbibed potations pottle deep,' in public.
'How do you prove that? Give me an instance,' said the clerical gladiator.
'Well,' was the reply, 'look at the coronation of SOLOMON, where it is expressly stated that Zadok, the priest who anointed him, ' took a horn!'
Yes, said he of the cloth, but you don't give the whole passage, which is this: And Zadok the priest took a horn of oil, and anointed Solomon.'
'I did not say what he did with his horn,' rejoined the infidel; I only contended that he took it.'
"Good-very good!' responded the divine, warming at the quiz which he saw was directed toward himself: 'You are ingenious in your argument: but I can prove by the Scriptures, in the same way, that instead of being here, resolving doubts and disputing with me, you should be swinging on a gallows at this moment, by your own consent and deed.'
'No, no - that's beyond your skill; and if you will establish what you propose, by any kind of ratiocination, I will confess my deserts, as soon as they are shown.'
'Agreed. Now do we not read in the Bible, that 'Judas went and hanged himself?''
· Yes, we do.'
Do we not find, in an another part of the Sacred Word, 'Go thou and do likewise?'
'Yes; you have proved that, as far as you go. What next?'
Only one clause more,' replied the divine. The Bible also says, What thou doest, do quickly. Now, my friend, go and hang your
self at once!'
'Not till I show you the text to your charity sermon, preached for the Widow's Society in Boston, last spring.' Here it is; and there is a word there, which you either have not properly written or properly read.
Saying this, he drew a pamphlet from his pocket, and pointed to the opening passage. It ran thus: Then he rebuked the winds, and the sea, and lo! there was a great clam! Why do you bring your texts to such an amphibious and testaceous termination?
The good man was thunder-struck. He acknowledged that there was an error; but he contended that shell-fish might have existed at that ancient period:
'E'en though vanquished, he could argue still.'
UNFORTUNATELY, typical mutations in published Mss. have come down to the present day. Not many moons since, I was called upon by a small and humble-looking person, in green spectacles, behind which there rolled two enormous gray eyes. He said he was a man of many occupations, and sometimes dabbled in literature. He had thoughts of buying some western lands, if any one would credit him for six years, and in that way make his fortune. A friend in Texas had also assured him that he could get some lots there on the same terms. In these enterprises he wished me to join him. But first, and before showing me some poetry which had been spoilt in the publication, he wished me to loan him a shilling, and accept his note to that amount, with sixty days to run.' A humorous thought struck me, and I chose the latter, with the direction that he should try it for discount at the United States' Bank. The next day I received a carefully-written 'business letter' from him, which (after promising to call on me in an hour after I received it,) contained the ensuing : 'December 17.
'MY DEAR SIR: I have had an interview with Mr. BIDDLE, and truly lament my inability to communicate satisfactory results. I fear that until the resolution of the Senator from Ohio, in regard to the repeal of the Treasury order, is finally disposed of, the trading interests will materially suffer.
'The Board of Directors, however, have some reason to indulge in the pleasing hope, that a small keg of ten-cent-pieces will arrive from Tinicum, some time during the ensuing week; in which case, the president has promised to exert his influence in my behalf on the next discount-day.
'If we should be successful in ultimately elevating the breeze (raising the wind) on my promissory note, we can proceed without delay to our contemplated acquisitions in Michilimackinac lands, and Texas scrip. Your obedient friend,
He was with me, almost before I had read his letter. Ah!' said he, 'reading my scroll, I see. Funny circumstance. But never mind. You make pieces sometimes for the Knickerbocker, don't you? — apt kind o' pieces, that come out of your head? I borrow that there periodical, sometimes, of a friend, and I seen a piece-t there about a man who was the Victim of a Proof-Reader.' I am one of that class. Two years ago I was in love. I was jilted. Hang details ; the upshot is the main thing. Well, I had tried the young lady, and found her wanting; and I thought I would quote a line of Scripture onto her, as a motto for some bitter and reproachful verses.' So, holding a manuscript in one hand high up, and placing the other arm a-kimbo, he read as follows:
" TO ONE FOUND WANTING.
'Mene, mene, tekel upharsin! - SCRIPTURE.
་ THOU art no more, what once I knew
Thy heart and guileless tongue to be;
Nor fond, to one who knelt to thee;
Nor knew a dearer wish beside;
What is the vow that once I heard
From those balm-breathing lips of thine?
E'en while I worshipped at thy shrine!
Here he stopped-his gray eyes rolling in a wild frenzy — and drew a newspaper from his breeches pocket. 'Sir,' said he, striking an attitude,' I sent them verses for to be printed into the Literary Steam-boat and General Western Alligator.' It is a paper, Sir, with immense circulation. A column in it, to be read by the boatmen and raftsmen of the west, is immortality. I say nothing. Just see how my infusion was butchered. I can 't read it.' I took the paper, a little yellow six-by-eight folio, and read thus:
'TO ORE, FOUND WASHING.
'Mere, mere, treacle, O' Sartin !'- SCULPture.
Thy beasts, and girdless tongues to tree;
Nor feed, for one who knelt to thee:
On breaking into a loud laugh at the utter stupidity of this typi cal metamorphosis, I found that the stranger grew red in the face. He snatched the paper from my hand, and disappeared, making his bow as he retired.
And, beloved reader, having exceeded my boundaries, let me do the same.
Thine till doomsday,