Page images
PDF
EPUB

the flowers growing on them, and how tall the rushes ! Now the boat was out at sea, but gliding smoothly on.

And now there was a shore before him. Who stood on the bank !

He put his hands together, as he had been used to do at his prayers. He did not remove his arms to do it, but they saw him fold them so behind her neck.

“Mamma is like you, Floy. I know her by the face! But tell them that the print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light about the head is shining on me as I go!”

The golden ripple on the wall came back again, and nothing else stirred in the room. The old, old fashion! The fashion that came in with our first garments, and will last unchanged until our race has run its course, and the wide firmament is rolled up like a scroll. The old, old fashion Death!

O, thank God, all who see it, for that older fashion yet, of immortality! And look upon us, angels of young children, with regards not quite estranged, when the swift river bears us to the ocean !

A HEAD-WIND IN THE ATLANTIC.

It is the third morning. I am awakened out of my sleep by a dismal shriek from my wife, who demands to know whether there's any danger. I rouse myself and look out of bed.. The water-jug is plunging and leaping like a lively dolphin ; all the smaller articles are afloat, except my shoes, which are stranded on a carpet-bag, high and dry, like a couple of coal-barges. Suddenly I see them spring into the air, and behold the looking-glass, which is nailed to the wall, sticking fast upon the ceiling. At the same time the door entirely disappears, and a new one is opened in the floor. Then I begin to comprehend that the state-room is standing on its head.

Before it is possible to make any arrangement at all compatible with this novel state of things, the ship rights. Before one can say,

Thank Heaven !” she wrongs again. Before one can cry she is wrong, she seems to have started forward, and to be a creature actively running of its own accord, with broken knees and failing legs, through every variety of hole and pitfall, and stumbling constantly. Before one can so much as wonder, she takes a high leap into the air. Before she has well done that, she takes a deep dive into the water. Before she has gained the surface, she throws a somerset. The instant she is on her legs, she rushes backward. And so she goes on staggering, heaving, wrestling, leaping, diving, jumping, pitching, throbbing, rolling, and rocking; and going through all these movements, sometimes by turns, and sometimes all together; until one feels disposed to roar for mercy. A steward passes.

“ Steward ! “ Sir?” “ What is the matter ? what do you call this? ” “ Rather a heavy sea on, sir, and a headwind." A head-wind! Imagine a human face

upon

the vessel's prow, with fifteen thousand Samsons in one, bent upon driving her back, and hitting her exactly between the eyes whenever she attempts to advance an inch. Imagine the ship herself, with every pulse and artery of her huge body swollen and bursting under this maltreatment, sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, the sea roaring, the rain beating; all in furious array against her. Picture the sky both dark and wild, and the clouds, in fearful sympathy with the waves, making another ocean in the air. Add to all this, the clattering on deck and down below; the tread of hurried feet; the loud hoarse shouts of seamen ; the gurgling in and out of water through the scuppers ; with, every now and then, the striking of a heavy sea upon the planks above, with the deep, dead, heavy sound of thunder heard within a vault; -and there is the head-wind of that January morning.

I say nothing of what may be called the domestic noises of the ship: such as the breaking of glass and crockery, the tumbling down of stewards, the gambols, overhead, of loose casks and truant dozens of bottled porter, and the very remarkable and far from exhilarating sounds raised in their various state-rooms by the seventy passengers who were too ill to get up to breakfast. I say nothing of them; for, although I lay listening to this concert for three or four days, I don't think I heard it for more than a quarter of a minute, at the expiration of which term I lay down again, excessively sea-sick.

The laboring of the ship in the troubled sea on this night I shall never forget. “Will it ever be worse than this ? ”' was a question I had often heard asked, when everything was sliding and bumping about, and when it certainly did seem difficult to comprehend the possibility of anything afloat being more disturbed, without toppling over and going down. But what the agitation of a steam-vessel is, on a bad winter's night in the wild Atlantic, it is impossible for the most

vivid imagination to conceive. To say that she is flung down on her side in the waves, with her masts dipping into them, and that, springing up again, she rolls over on the other side, until a heavy sea strikes her with the noise of a hundred great guns, and hurls her back, that she stops, and staggers, and shivers, as though stunned, and then, with a violent throbbing at her heart, darts onward like a monster goaded into madness, to be beaten down, and battered, and crushed, and leaped on by the angry sea, — that thunder, lightning, hail, and rain, and wind are all in fierce contention for the mastery, — that every plank has its groan, every nail its shriek, and every drop of water in the great ocean its howling voice, is nothing. To say

that all is grand, and all appalling and horrible in the last degree, is nothing. Words cannot express it. Thoughts cannot convey it. Only a dream can call it up again, in all its fury, rage, and passion.

And yet, in the very midst of these terrors, I was placed in a situation so exquisitely ridiculous that even then I had as strong a sense of its absurdity as I have now : and could no more help laughing than I can at any other comical incident, happening under circumstances the most favorable to its enjoyment. About midnight we shipped a sea, which forced its way through the skylights, burst open the doors above, and came raging and roaring down into the ladies' cabin, to the unspeakable consternation of my wife and a little Scotch lady, - who, by the way, had previously sent a message to the captain by the stewa. ardess, requesting him, with her compliments, to have a steel conductor immediately attached to the top of every mast, and to the chimney, in order that the ship might not be struck by lightning. They, and the handmaid before mentioned, being in such ecstasies of fear that I scarceJy knew what to do with them, I naturally bethought myself of some restorative or comforting cordial ; and nothing better occurring to me, at the moment, than hot brandy and water, I procured a tumblerful without delay. It being impossible to sit or stand without holding on, they were all heaped together in one corner of a long sofa, а fixture extending entirely across the cabin, — where they clung to each other in momentary expectation of being drowned. proached this place with my specific, and was about to administer it, with many consolatory expressions, to the nearest sufferer, what was my dismay to see them all roll slowly down to the other end! And when I staggered to that end, and held out the glass once more, how immensely baffled were my good intentions by the ship giving another

When I apcalls me.

lurch, and their all rolling back again! I suppose I dodged them up and down this sofa for at least a quarter of an hour, without reaching them once ; and by the time I did catch them, the brandy and water was diminished, by constant spilling, to a teaspoonful. To complete the group, it is necessary to recognize, in this disconcerted dodger, an individual very pale from sea-sickness; who had shaved his beard and brushed his hair last at Liverpool ; and whose only articles of dress (linen not included) were a pair of dreadnought trousers, a blue jacket, formerly admired upon the Thames at Richmond, no stockings, and one slipper.

THE NOBLE SAVAGE. To come to the point at once, I beg to say that I have not the least belief in the Noble Savage. I consider him a prodigious nuisance, and an enormous superstition. His calling rum fire-water, and me a pale-face, wholly fail to reconcile me to him. I don't care what he

I call him a savage, and I call a savage a something highly desirable to be civilized off the face of the earth. I think a mere gent (which I take to be the lowest form of civilization) better than a howling, whistling, clucking, stamping, jumping, tearing savage. It is all one to me whether he sticks a fish-bone through his visage, or bits of trees through the lobes of his ears, or birds' feathers in his head ; whether he flattens his hair between two boards, or spreads his nose over the breadth of his face, or drags his lower lip down by great weights, or blackens his teeth, or knocks them out, or paints one cheek red and the other blue, or tattooes himself, or oils himself, or rubs his body with fat, or crimps it with knives. Yielding to whichsoever of these agreeable eccentricities, he is a savage, — cruel, false, thievish, murderous ; addicted more or less to grease, entrails, and beastly customs; a wild animal with the questionable gift of boasting; a conceited, tiresome, bloodthirsty, monotonous humbug.

Yet it is extraofdinary to observe how some people will talk about , him, as they talk about the good old times ; how they will regret his disappearance, in the course of this world's development, from such and such lands, — where his absence is a blessed relief and an indispensable preparation for the sowing of the very first seeds of an influence that can exalt humanity, — how, even with the evidence of himself before them, they will either be determined to believe, or will suffer themselves to be persuaded into believing, that he is something which their five senses tell them he is not.

MRS. STOWE.

1812

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, June 14, 1812, has a world-wide fame as the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. She is the daughter of Rev. Dr. Lynian Beecher, an eminent clergyman, and the sister of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher. In 1833 she became the wife of Professor Calvin E. Stowe, a distinguished Hebrew scholar and theologian. Her first book, Mayflower ; or, Sketches of the Descendants of the Pilgrims, was published in 1819, and was favorably noticed at home and abroad. Three years later she gave to the world what nust be regarded as the most remarkable book of the century, its subject and its popularity being considered, Uncle Tom's Cabin. This story was first published as a serial in the National Era, in 1851 – 52, and appeared in book form in 1852. Its sales must be reckoned by millions, and through translations and dramatizations it has reached every civilized nation under the sun. + the

intrinsic interest of her subject and the excited state of public sentiment with reference to it. Read to-day, renoved from the heat of a great conflict of opinions, the book discloses many and grave faults, errors of fact and literary infelicities. XIt is a significant and gratifying fact that the author is now a resident of the South, whose enemy she as been accounted ; and in her recent book, Palmetto Leaves, she exhibits a more accurate knowledge of that section, and a sincere interest in its welfare. Mrs. Stowe has written many other books ; but none of them have added to the fame which she derived from Uncle Tom's Cabin. Perhaps Oldtown Folks may be ranked next to this in real ability. The True Story of Lady Byron's Life, in which Mrs. Stowe defamed the memory of Lord Byron, drew upon her a torrent of indignation such as few authors have ever endured. ller recent novels, Pink and White Tyranny and My Wife and I, deal with social subjects in vigorous style; but, like all her coni positions, they are disfigured by many literary blemishes. She is a very industrious writer, contributing to the periodical press papers on religious and social topics, and manifests a hearty interest in the iniprovement of society through its moral elevation. The extract is from Oldtown Folks.

TYRANNY OF MISS ASPHYXIA.

MATTERS between Miss Asphyxia and her little subject began to show evident signs of approaching some crisis, for which that valiant virgin was preparing herself with mind resolved. It was one of her educational tactics that children, at greater or less intervals, would require what she was wont to speak of as good whippings, as a sort of constitutional stimulus to start them in the ways of well-doing. As a school-teacher, she was often fond of rehearsing her experiences, -- how she had her eye on Jim or Bob through weeks of growing carelessness or obstinacy or rebellion, suffering the measure of iniquity gradually to become full, until, in an awful hour, she pounced down on the culprit in the very blossom of his sin, and gave him such a lesson as he would remember, as she would assure him, the longest day he had to live.

The burning of rebellious thoughts in the little breast, of internal hatred and opposition, could not long go on without slight whiffs of

« PreviousContinue »