Page images
PDF
EPUB

dead Indian!" The party concluding that the Indian would die at any rate, thought best to retreat, and return and look for him after some time. On returning, however, he could not be found, having crawled away and concealed himself in some other place. His skeleton and gun were found some time afterwards.

The Indians who were killed were great warriors, and very wealthy. The bag, which was supposed to contain money, it was conjectured was got by one of the party who went out first in the morning. On hearing the report of the boys, he slipped off by himself, and reached the place before the party arrived. For some time afterwards he appeared to have a greater plenty of money than his neighbors.

The Indians themselves did honor to the bravery of these two boys. After their treaty with Gen. Wayne, a friend of the Indians who were killed, made inquiry of a man from Short Creek, what had become of the boys who killed the Indians? He was answered that they lived at the same place with their parents. The Indian replied, "You have not done right; you should make kings of those boys."

ORANGE.

Orange was formed in 1734, from Spottsylvania, and derived its name from the color of the soil in its upper or mountainous portion. Its original limits comprised the whole of Virginia west of the Blue Ridge. It is now 22 m. long, with a variable width of from 5 to 20

[graphic][merged small]

miles. The Rapid Ann forms its Nw. boundary. The surface is hilly, and the soil generally fertile. Gold is found in the county, and in 1840 the value produced amounted to $84,000. Pop. in 1840, whites 3,575, slaves 5,364, free colored 186; total, 9,125.

Orange C. H., is 80 miles Nw. of Richmond, and 92 miles from Washington City. It contains 5 mercantile stores, 1 Episcopal and 1 Methodist church, and a population of about 350. Bars boursville, 12 miles sw., and Gordonsville, 10 miles s. of the C. H., are small places. The latter is the terminating point of the Louisa rail-road, and about 70 miles from Richmond.

Near the little village of Gordonsville, in the depths of the forest, stands an old church. It is an humble unpainted structure of wood, yet there clings about it a peculiar interest—an interest which all must feel who have read—and who has not ?—the pathetic description of the Blind Preacher by the British Spy:

It was one Sunday, (says he,) as I travelled through the county of Orange, that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous old wooden house in the forest, not far from the roadside. Having frequently seen such objects before, in travelling through these states, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship.

Devotion alone should have stopped me, to join in the duties of the congregation; bat I must confess that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man. His head, which was covered with a white linen cap, his shrivelled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the influence of a palsy; and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.

The first emotions which touched my breast were those of mingled pity and veneration. But ah! sacred God! how soon were all my feelings changed.' The lie of Plato were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees, than were the lips of this holy man! It was a day of the administration of the sacrament; and his subject, of course, was the passion of our Saviour. I had heard the subject handled a thousand times. I had thought it exhausted long ago. Little did I suppose, that in the wild woods of America I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos than I had ever before witnessed.

As he descended from the pulpit to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human solemnity in his air and manner, which made my blood ran cold, and my whole frame shiver.

He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour; his trial before Pilate; his ascent up Calvary; his crucifixion, and his death. I knew the whole history; but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so selected, so arranged, so colored! It was all new, and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in my life. His enunciation was so deliberate that his voice trembled on every syllable, and every heart in the assem. bly trembled in unison. His peculiar phrases had that force of description that the original scene appeared to be, at that moment, acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews: the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage. We saw the buffet; my soul kindled with a flame of indignation, and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clenched.

But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness of our Saviour; when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, " Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"—the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter and fainter, until his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The effect is inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.

It was some time before the tumult had subsided so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But—no; the descent was as beautiful and sublime a» the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic.

The first sentence, with which he broke the awful silence, was a quotation from Rousseau, " Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God 1"

I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crirn in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher; his blindness constantly recalling to your recollection old Homer, Ossian, and Milton, and associating with his performance the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses. You are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting, trembling melody; you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised ; and then the few minutes of portentous, death-like silence, which reigned throughout the house; the preacbai removing his white handkerchief from his aged face, (even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears,) and slowly stretching forth the palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence, " Socrates died like a philosopher"—then pausing, raising his other hand, pressing them both clasped together with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting his "sightless balls" to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice—" but Jesus Christ—like a God!" If he had been indeed and in truth an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.

Whatever I had been able to conceive of the sublimity of Massillon, or the force of Bourdaloue, had fallen far short of the power which I felt from the delivery of this simple sentence. The blood, which just before had rushed in a hurricane upon my brain, and, in the violence and agony of my feelings, had held my whole system in suspense, now ran back into my heart with a sensation which I cannot describe—a kind of shuddering delicious horror! The paroxysm of blended pity and indignation to which I had been transported, subsided into the deepest self-abasement, humility, and adoration. I had just been lacerated and dissolved by sympathy for our Saviour as a fellowcreature; but now, with fear and trembling, I adored him as—" a God!"

If this description give you the impression that this incomparable minister had any thing of shallow, theatrical trick in his manner, it does him great injustice. I have never seen, in any other orator, such a union of simplicity and majesty. He has not a gesture, an attitude, or an accent, to which he does not seem forced by the sentiment which he is expressing. His mind is too serious, too earnest, too solicitous, and, at the same time, too dignified, to stoop to artifice. Although as far removed from ostentation as a man can be, yet it is clear from the train, the style, and substance of his thoughts, that he is not only a very polite scholar, but a man of extensive and profound erudition. I was forcibly struck with a short, yet beautiful character which he drew of our learned and amiable countryman, Sir Robert Boyle. He spoke of him as if " his noble mind had, even before death, divested herself of all influence from his frail tabernacle of flesh;" and called him, in his peculiarly emphatic and impressive manner, " a pure intelligence: the link between men and angels."

This man has been before my imagination almost ever since. A thousand times, as I rode along, I dropped the reins of my bridle, stretched forth my hand, and tried to imitate his quotation from Rousseau ; a thousand times I abandoned the attempt in despair, and felt persuaded that his peculiar manner and power arose from an energy of soul" which nature could give, but which no human being could justly copy. In short, he seems to be altogether a being of a former age, or of a totally different nature from the rest of men. As I recall, at this moment, several of his awfully striking attitudes, the chilling tide, with which my blood begins to pour along my arteries, reminds me of the emotions produced by the first sight of Gray's introductory picture of his bard:

"On a rock, whose haughty brow, .

Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Rutied in the sable garb ot wo,

With haggard eyes the poet stood;
(Loose his beard and hoary hair

Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air:)
And with a poet's hand and prophet's fire,

Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre."

Guess my surprise, when, on my arrival at Richmond, and mentioning the name of this man, I found not one person who had ever before heard of James Waddel.'!

• # * # • *

The above description of the blind preacher has been admired by thousands, and many have supposed it to be fiction. Although years have elapsed since it was written, it is only within a few months that a laudable curiosity has been gratified, to know the history of one whose eloquence drew forth such high encomiums from the accomplished author of the British Spy. This has been done in the memoir of Mr. Waddel, published recently in the Watchman of the South, by James W. Alexander, D. D., late professor in the college at Princeton, and grandson of the blind preacher. From this memoir the following sketch is principally derived:—

James Waddil, D. D., was born in the north of Ireland in 1739, and was brought

by his parents, in his infancy, to America. They settled in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, near the state line, on White Clay creek. To the advice of an excellent and pious mother, Mr. Waddel ascribed his first religious convictions. She was a woman of eminent Christian knowledge and piety, and brought with her to this country the methods of ancient Scottish Presbyterianism. When about 13 years of age, he was sent to and educated at the academy of the celebrated Dr. Finley, at Nottingham, Pennsylvania, where he studied the classics, mathematics, logic, and those branches indispensable for the learned callings. Such was his proficiency, that his distinguished preceptor soon employed him as an assistant. He was afterwards an assistant teacher in another noted Presbyterian school, at Pequea, in Lancaster Co., under the elder Smith. After passing a year or more in that seminary, in pursuance of a long-cherished plan—as it is thought, to devote himself to teaching—he set forth on his travels for the south, and finally reached Hanover county, in Virginia. There he made the acquaintance of Col. Henry, the father of Patrick Henry, and the celebrated Samuel Davies. The meeting with Mr. Davies gave a direction to young Waddel's life. We next find him in Louisa, where he assisted the Rev. Mr. Todd in his school, and devoted his leisure to the study of theology. He was licensed as a Probationer, April 2d, 1761, by the (old) Presbytery of Hanover, and in the following year, 1762, accepted a call to the churches of Lancaster and Northumberland. There he found so much hospitality, intelligence, and polish, among those old Virginia gentry, that he would cheerfully have passed his life among them, but for the ill effects of the climate. There was then a brisk trade with Great Britain from the mouths of the rivers, and much genuine piety among the merchants and planters of that region. Mr. Waddel's labors were not slight, as he had three preaching places, viz.: Lancaster C. H., the Forest meeting-house, and the Northumberland meeting-house. About the year 1768, he married Mary Gordon, the daughter of 'Col. James Gordon, ancestor of Gen. Gordon of Albemarle. The Presbyterian churches of the Northern Neck owed much to the zeal of Col. G., who was an elder in the church, and after his death they visibly declined, and were finally pretty much absorbed in the Baptists. This was in part owing to their estates being open to the ravages of the British vessels, who, carrying off their property, led to the decline of the wealthy Presbyterian families

Aboutthe year 1775, Mr. Waddel removed to the Tinkling Spring church, in Augusta. Although almost broken down by disease, his frame attenuated, and his voice impaired, yet he drew crowds of hearers.

In 1783 he accepted a call, and gave his services to the united congregations of Staunton and Tinkling Spring. He remained in Augusta about seven years, during which his health was entirely renovated. His salary was only £45 per annum, Virginia money.

From thence, Mr. Waddel made a last earthly removal to an estate which he named Hopewell, near the angle of Louisa, Orange, and Albemarle. While here he preached at the " D. S." church, near Charlottesville, at a log-house in Clarkesville, at the Brick church near Orange C. H., and in the small edifice erected by himself, represented in the preceding view. He also again became a teacher. Among his pupils were Meriwether Clark and Governor Barbour.

Although secluded from the literary world, he found means to become thoroughly versed in theology, as well as general literature. Mr. Waddel resided in Louisa about r 20 years. There he ended his days, Sept. 17th, 1805, and, according to his request, vstf buried in his garden. His last hours were such as might have been expected, from a life of eminent piety and singular self-control.

In person Dr. Waddel was tall and erect, and when a young man he is said to have been of striking appearance. His complexion was fair, and his eyes of a light blue: his mien unusually dignified, and his manners, elegant and graceful. His eloquence has become mutter of tradition in Virginia. It electrified whole assemblies, transfused to them the speaker's passion at his will; "a species," says his biographer, " I must be allowed to say, which I have seldom heard but in the south." Under his preaching, audiences were irresistibly and simultaneously moved, like the wind-shaken forest. Especially was his power great in so painting sacred scenes, as to bring the hearer into the very presence of the object. Even his ordinary private intercourse was an uncommon treat to intellectual persons, and occasioned the first men of his time to seek his company. When in scornful argument he was like the sweeping torrent, carrying every thing before it.

It was in 1803, when Mr. Waddel was approaching the end of his life, that Mr. Wirt, under the incognito of a British officer, wrote his celebrated description. It has often been questioned how far the accomplished author gave himself the license of fiction in bis sketch. It may, therefore, be observed, that Dr. Waddel was well known in Virginia, his pulpit costume was different from that described, and that the British Spy, instead of being a transient stranger, was well acquainted with Dr. W. and his family. Says Prof. Alexander, " Mr. Wirt stated to me, that so far from adding colors to the picture of Dr. Waddcl's eloquence, he had fallen below the truth. He did not hesitate to say that he had reason to believe, that in a different species of oratory he was fully equal to Patrick Henry. He added, that in regard to the place, time, costume, and lesser particulars, he had used an allowable liberty, grouping together events which had occurred apart, and, perhaps, imagining as in a sermon, observations which had been uttered by the fireside." Patrick Henry was accustomed to say, that Waddel and Davies were the greatest orators he ever heard. The elocution of those men was not that taught by masters, or that practised before the mirrors of colleges. A venerable clergyman said, "When other men preach, one looks to see who is affected; when Dr. Waddel preached, those not affected were the exception. Whole congregations were affected." Gov. Barbour declared, that Dr. W. surpassed all orators he ever knew.

Dr. Waddel on some occasions employed his singular faculty iu the revolution, in patriotic services, and once addressed Tate's company, at Midway, Rockbridge county, previous to their marching to the south. When the British Spy appeared, the old gentleman was unfeigncdly grieved at the laudatory notice of himself, and in reply to a complimentary letter which he received, he dictated the words, Hand merita lawn opprobrium est[unmerited praise is a reproach.]

His independence and zeal brought him into collision with the established church; and he was one time fined for occupying a parish church. In the latter part of his life he was afflicted with blindness. After several years his sight was partially restored by the operation of couching.

A most touching account of Dr. Waddel's restoration to sight has lately been published in the Literary Messenger. From it we derive the following: For eight years he had been blind, a stranger equally to the cheerful light of day and tho cheering faces of kindred and friends. In the lapse of time great changes had taken place. The infant had left the knee to rove among the fields—the youth had started into manhood, and gone forth in the busy scenes of life, without a hope that the eyes of his venerable father would ever rest upon him, Like the evening cloud of summer, a calm and holy resig nation settled over the mind of this man of God; but the dark curtain which hung ova the organs of sight seemed destined to rise no more.

After an operation for cataract, which, in the progress of some years, had rendered light sensible, and then objects faintly visible—a well-constructed convex lens, sent by a distant friend, enabled him in a moment to see with considerable distinctness. The scene which followed in his family around was most moving. The father could again - see his children, who riveted his attention and absorbed his soul. Among these emotions of intense interest and varied suggestion were visible in the eye, countenance, and hurried movements. The bursts of laughter—the running to and fro—the clapping of hands—the sending for absent friends—and then the silent tear bedewing the cheek in touching interlude—the eager gaze of old servants, and the unmeaning wonder of young ones—in short, the happy confusion and joy was such a scene as a master's pencil might have been proud to sketch. The paroxysm produced by the first application of the glasses having passed away; behold! the patriarch in his large arm-chair, with his children around him, scanning with affectionate curiosity the bashful group. There was a visible shyness among the lesser members of the family while undergoing this fatherly scrutiny, not unlike that produced by a long absence. The fondness of a father in contemplating those most dear to him was never more rationally exemplified, or exquisitely enjoyed. And now the venerable old man arose from his seat, and grasped a long staff, which seemed powerfully but momentarily to engage his attention—it had been the companion of his darkest days, the pioneer of his domestic travels, and the supporter of a weak and tottering frame—he then proceeded to the front door to take a view of the mountains, the beautiful southwest range, stretching out in lovely prospect at the distance of about three miles. All followed; and the mountain-scene, though viewed a thousand times before, was now gazed upon with deeper interest, and presented a greater variety of beauties than ever.

About four miles from Orange C. H., on a slight eminence, is Montpelier, which was the seat of James Madison, President of

« PreviousContinue »