Page images


1. I mourn no more my


years: Beneath a tender rain, An April rain of smiles and tears,

My heart is young again. 2. The west winds blow, and singing low,

I hear the glad streams rup;
The windows of my soul I throw

Wide open to the sun.
3. No longer forward, nor behind,

I look in hope and fear:
But grateful, take the good I find,

The best of now, and here.
4. I plough no more a desert land

For harvest, weed and tare;
The manna dropping from God's hand

Rebukes my painful care.
5. I break my pilgrim staff, I lay

Aside the toiling oar;
The angel sought so far away
I welcome at my

6. The airs of spring may never play

Among the ripening corn,
Nor freshness of the flowers of May

Blow through the autumn morn; 7. Yet shall the blue-eyed gentian look

Through fringéd lids to heaven,
And the pale aster in the brook
Shall see its image given;

8. The woods shall wear their robes of praise,

The south wind softly sigh,
And sweet calm days in golden haze

Melt down the amber sky.
9. Not less shall manly deed and word

Rebuke an age of wrong:
The graven flowers that wreathe the sword

Make not the blade less strong.
10. Enough that blessings undeserved

Have marked my erring track,
That wheresoe'er my feet have swerved,

His chastening turned me back;
11. That more and more a Providence

Of love is understood,
Making the springs of time and sense

Sweet with eternal good;
12. That death seems but a covered way,

Which opens into light,
Wherein no blinded child can stray

Beyond the Father's sight;
13. That care and trial seem at last,

Through memory's sunset air,
Like mountain ranges overpast

In purple distance fair;
14. That all the jarring notes of life

Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angles of its strife

Slow rounding into calm.
15. And so the shadows fall apart,

And so the west winds play:
And all the windows of


heart I open to this day.John G. Whittier (1808- ).


A.D. 1541.–PART I.

1. All the disasters which had been encountered, far from diminishing the boldness of the governor (De Soto), served only to confirm his obstinacy by wounding his pride. Should he, who had promised greater booty than Mexico or Peru had yielded, now return as a defeated fugitive, so naked that his troops were clad only in skins and mats of ivy? The search for some wealthy region was renewed; the caravan marched still farther to the west.

2. For seven days it struggled through a wilderness of forests and marshes, and at length came to Indian settlements in the vicinity of the Mississippi. Soto was the first of Europeans to behold the magnificent river, which rolled its immense mass of waters through the splendid vegetation of a wide alluvial soil. The lapse of nearly three centuries has not changed the character of the stream. It was then described as more than a mile broad, flowing with a strong current, and, by the weight of its waters, forcing a channel of great depth. The water was always muddy; trees and timber were continually floating down the stream.

3. The Spaniards were guided to the Mississippi by natives; and were directed to one of the usual crossingplaces, probably at the lowest Chickasa Bluff, not far from the thirty-fifth parallel of latitude. The arrival of the strangers awakened curiosity and fear. A multitude of people from the western banks of the river, painted and gaily decorated with great plumes of white feathers, the warriors standing in rows with bows and arrows in their hands, the chieftains sitting under awnings as mag


[ocr errors]

nificent as the artless manufactures of the natives could weave, carne rowing down the stream in a fleet of two hundred canoes, seeming to the admiring Spaniards "like a fair army of galleys."

4. They brought gifts of fish and loaves made of the fruit of the persimmon. At first they showed some desire to offer resistance, but soon becoming conscious of their relative weakness, they ceased to defy an enemy who could not be overcome, and suffered injury without attempting open retaliation. The boats of the natives were too weak to transport horses; almost a month expired, before barges large enough to hold three horsemen each were constructed for crossing the river. At length the Spaniards embarked upon the Mississippi, and Europeans were borne to its western bank.

5. The Dahcota tribes, doubtless, then occupied the country south-west of the Missouri. Soto had heard its praises; he believed in its vicinity to mineral wealth; and he determined to visit its towns. In ascending the Mississippi the party was often obliged to wade through morasses; at length they came, as it would seem, upon the district of Little Prairie, and the dry and elevated lands which extend towards New Madrid.

6. Here the religions of the invaders and the natives came in contrast. The Spaniards were adored as children of the Sun, and the blind were brought into their presence to be healed by the sons of light. Pray only to God, who is in heaven, for whatsoever ye need,” said Soto in reply; and the sublime doctrine which, thousands of years before, had been proclaimed in the deserts of Arabia, now first found its way into the prairies of the Far West.

7. The wild fruits of that region were abundant; the pecan-nut, the mulberry, and the two kinds of wild plums, furnished the natives with articles of food. At Pacaha,

[ocr errors]

the northernmost point which Soto reached near the Mississippi, he remained forty days. The spot cannot be identified; but the accounts of the amusements of the Spaniards confirm the truth of the narrative of their

[graphic][merged small]

ramblings. Fish were taken, such as are now found in the fresh waters of that region; one of them, the spade fish,—the strangest and most whimsical production of the muddy streams of the West, so rare that, even now, it is hardly to be found in any museum,-is accurately described by the best historian of the expedition.

8. An exploring party, which was sent to examine the regions to the north, reported that they were almost a desert. The country still nearer the Missouri was said by the Indians to be thinly inhabited; the bison abounded

« PreviousContinue »