Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

-com

tion of the casualties incident to a cam common, it is said, in this country-fired paign, even when not actively engaged over the grave of a Mexican baby. A with the enemy. One of the Illinois vol very lame and impotent conclusion cerunteers attached to Captain Lee's corps tainly, but how could it have been otherof pioneers, was cruelly mutilated by a wise? There was no one with whom an ponton sliding from a wagon, which struck enemy could engage except ourselves, and him near the abdomen, forcing out his in we had not been invited to such an entertestines, and otherwise lacerating his per tainment. son in the most frightful manner. He Captain and Lieutenant of survived several days, suffering the most the Topographical Engineers, escorted by acute pain, and subjected to all the tor a squadron of cavalry, the whole under ture that such an injury could inflict.

left on a reconnaissance in the Two or three days before the march direction of San Fernando and Santa was resumed, several volleys of musketry, Rosa, one day in advance of the army. fired in quick succession, were heard by A new turn was also given to the mathe sentinels, early in the morning, in the chinery of monotony, in the way of a direction of the town. At first no notice review, the great feature of which was was taken of the fact, but from the re the performance of one of the peated discharges, it was deemed proper panies. At the head of the detachment to report it to the commanding general, with which this company was embodied, who with all his watchfulness was caught rode

in his round hat and napping for once. Though it could hardly black coat; having too keen a sense of be possible that an armed enemy should the ridiculous not to know that in his be in that quarter, in a few moments the position it would be a burlesque to affect camp was in commotion. The bugles of the soldier even in appearance. Then the dragoons sounded “to horse;" the came the main body. Covered with hats, drums of the infantry beat “the general.” broad brim, narrow brim, and no brim at The horns of the Arkansas regiment all, straw, chip, felt, and fur, the whole of emitted certain sounds understood by the class known as “shocking bad ;" with themselves, for they were very soon in coats of every shape, of every hue, and of their saddles. In the mean time, men every material, and not a few coatless; half-dressed were hurrying to and fro, all jackets without skirts and with one skirt knowing there was an excitement, but -razeed from necessity, with collars and very few knowing why. Some were in without; trousers like Jacob's cattle, pursuit of horses, grazing beyond the "ring-streaked, speckled, and grizzled ;' camp; some returning from the water, white, black, blue, brown, and dingy; in and all apparently busy about every short, it may be doubted if heroism were thing, save preparation for a battle. The ever more thoroughly disguised or fantasmounted troops were ordered to town to tically arrayed. Among the banners reinvestigate the affair which seemed to in doubtably borne on this occasion, one volve so much mystery, and the artillery blazed with the inscription "Try us," and and infantry were formed in line of battle another, that had probably served a to await events. Each man was ready at similar purpose during the presidential the signal to

campaign, flaunted the execrable, because “Let slip tho dogs of war."

false and hypocritical sentiment, “Extend The report finally came, and lo! the con the area of Freedom.” sternation had been created by a salute

(To be Continued.)

FIRESIDE TRAVELS.

CAMBRIDGE THIRTY YEARS AGO.

A MEMOIR ADDRESSED TO THE EDELMANN STORG IN ROME.

IN those quiet_old winter evenings, solitudes of a sunless world, before he

think himself morally equipped for travels not seldom, my dear Storg, that we talked to more distant regions. But does he of the advantages of travel, and in speeches commonly even so much as think of this, not so long that our cigars would forget or, while buying amplest trunks for his their fire (the measure of just conversa corporeal apparel, does it once occur to tion) debated the comparative advantages him how very small a portmanteau will of the Old and the New Worlds. You will contain all his mental and spiritual outfit? remember how serenely I bore the impu Oftener, it is true, that a man who could tation of provincialism, while I asserted scarce be induced to expose his unclothed that those advantages were reciprocal ; body, even in a village of prairie-dogs, will that an orbed and balanced life would re complacently display a mind as naked as volve between the Old and the New as its the day it was born, without so much as opposite, but not antagonistic, poles, the a fig-leaf of acquireinent on it, in every true equator lying somewhere midway gallery of Europe. If not with a robe between them. I asserted also that there dyed in the Tyrian purple of imaginative were two epochs at which a man might culture, if not with the close-fitting, active travel,—before twenty, for pure enjoy dress of social or business training, -at ment, and after thirty, for instruction. least, my dear Storg, one might provide At twenty, the eye is sufficiently delighted himself with the merest waist-cloth of with merely seeing; new things are pleas- modesty ! ant only because they are not old; and we But if it be too much to expect men to take every thing heartily and naturally traverse and survey themselves before they in the right way, events being always like go abroad, we might certainly ask that knives, which either serve us or cut us, as they should be familiar with their own we grasp them by the blade or the handle. villages. If not even that, then it is of After thirty, we carry with us our scales little import whither they go, and let us with lawful weights stamped by experi- hope that, by seeing how calmly their ence, and our chemical tests acquired by own narrow neighorhood bears their destudy, with which to ponder and assay all parture, they may be led to think that the arts, and institutions, and manners, and to circles of disturbance set in motion by the ascertain either their absolute worth, or fall of their tiny drop into the ocean of their merely relative value to ourselves. eternity, will not have a radius of more On the whole, I declared myself in favor than a week in any direction; and that of the after-thirty method, was it partly the world can endure the subtraction of (so difficult is it to distinguish between even a justice of the peace with provoking opinions and personalities) because I had equanimity. In this way, at least, foreign tried it myself, though with scales so im travel may do them good, may make them, perfect and tests so inadequate ? Perhaps if not wiser, at any rate less fussy. Is it so, but more because I held that a man a great way to go to school, and a great should have travelled thoroughly round fee to pay for the lesson? We cannot himself and the great terra incognita pay too much for that genial stoicism just outside and inside his own threshold, which, when life flouts us and says-Put before he undertook voyages of discovery That in your pipe and smoke it !-can to other worlds. Let him first thoroughly puff away with as sincere a relish as if it explore that strange country laid down were tobacco of Mount Lebanon in a naron the maps as SEAUTON ; let him look ghileh of Damascus. down into its craters and find whether After all, my dear Storg, it is to know they be burnt out or only sleeping; let things that one has need to travel, and him know between the good and evil fruits not men. Those force us to come to them, of its passionate tropics; let him experi but these come to us—sometimes whether ence how healthful are its serene and we will or no. These exist for us in every high-lying table-lands; let him be many variety in our own town. You may find times driven back (till he wisely consent your antipodes without a voyage to China; to be baffled) from its metaphysical north he lives there, just round the next corner, west passages that lead only to the dreary precise, formal, the slave of precedent

[ocr errors]

making all his tea-cups with a break in getting ready to live. But is not your the edge, because his model had one, and Europe, on the other hand, a place where your fancy decorates him with an endless men have done living for the present, and ness of airy pigtail. There, too, are John of value chiefly because of the men who Bull, Jean Crapaud, Hans Sauerkraut, had done living in it long ago ? And if, Pat Murphy, and the rest.

in our rapidly-moving country, one feel It has been well said

sometimes as if he had home in a rail“He needs no ship to cross the tide,

road train, is there not also a satisfaction Who, in the lives around him, sees

in knowing that one is going somewhere? Fair window-prospects opening wide

To what end visit Europe, if people carry O'er history's fields on every side,

with them, as most do, their old parochial Rome, Egypt, England, Ind, and Greeco.

horizon, going hardly as Americans even, “ Whatever moulds of various brain

much less as men ? Have we not both E’er shaped the world to weal or woe, seen persons abroad who put us in mind Whatever Empires wax and wane,

of parlor goldfish in their vase, isolated To him who hath not eyes in vain

in that little globe of their own element, His village-microcosm can show."

incapable of communication with the But things are good for nothing out of strange world around them, a show themtheir natural habitat. If the heroic Bar selves, while it was always doubtful if num had succeeded in transplanting they could see at all beyond the limits of Shakespeare's house to America, what their portable prison ? The wise man interest would it have had for us, torn out travels to discover himself; it is to find of its appropriate setting in softly-hilled himself out that he goes out of himself Warwickshire, which showed us that the and his habitual associations, trying every most English of poets must be born in thing in turn till he find that one acthe most English of counties? I mean tivity, sovran over him by divine right, by a Thing that which is not a mere spec

toward which all the disbanded powers tacle, that which the mind leaps forth to, of his nature and the irregular tendencies as it also leaps to the mind, as soon as of his life gather joyfully, as to the comthey come within each other's sphere of mon rallying-point of their loyalty. attraction, and with instantaneous coali All these things we debated while the tion form a new product - knowledge. ilex logs upon the hearth burned down to Such, in the understanding it gives us of tinkling coals, over which a gray, soft early Roman history, is the little territory moss of ashes grew betimes, mocking the around Rome, the gentis cunabula, with poor wood with a pale travesty of that out a sight of which, Livy and Niebuhr green and gradual decay on forest-floors, and the maps are vain. So, too, one must its natural end. Already the clock at the go to Pompeii and the Museo Borbonico, Capuccini told the morning quarters, and to get a true conception of that wondrous on the pauses of our talk no sound interartistic nature of the Greeks, strong vened but the muffled hoot of an owl in enough, even in that petty colony, to sur the near convent-garden, or the rattling vive foreign conquest and to assimilate tramp of a patrol of that French army barbarian blood, showing a grace and which keeps him a prisoner in his own fertility of invention, whose Roman copies city, who claims to lock and unlock the Raffaello himself could only copy, and doors of heaven. But still the discourse enchanting even the base utensils of the would eddy round one obstinate rocky kitchen with an inevitable sense of beauty tenet of mine, for I maintained, you reto which we subterranean Northmen have member, that the wisest man was he who not yet so much as dreamed of climbing: stayed at home; that to see the antiquiMere sights one can see quite as well at ties of the old world was nothing, since home. Mont Blanc does not tower more the youth of the world was really no fargrandly in the memory, than did the ther away from us than our own youth; dream-peak which loomed afar on the and that, moreover, we had also in Amemorning-horizon of hope ; nor did the rica things amazingly old, as our boys, for smoke-palm of Vesuvius stand more erect example. Add, that in the end this anand fair, with tapering stem and spreading tiquity is a matter of comparison, which top, in that Parthenopeian air than under skips from place to place as nimbly as the diviner sky of imagination. I know Emerson's sphinx, and that one old thing what Shakespeare says about home-keep- is good only till we have seen an older: ing youths, and I can fancy what you will England is ancient till we go to Rome. add about America being interesting only Etruria dethrones Rome, but only to pass as a phenomenon, and uncomfortable to this sceptre of Antiquity which so lords it live in, because we have not yet done with over our fancies to the Pelasgi, from whom

man.

ever.

Egypt straightway wrenches it to give it this which makes America so interesting up in turn to older India. And whither to the philosophic student of history and then ? As well rest upon the first step,

Here, as in a theatre, the great since the effect of what is old upon the problems of anthropology, which in the mind is single and positive, not cumulative. old world were ages in solving, but which As soon as a thing is past, it is as in are solved, leaving only a dry net result; finitely far away from us as if it had hap are compressed, as it were, into the enterpened millions of years ago. And if the tainment of a few hours. Here we have learned Huet be correct, who reckoned I know not how many epochs of history that every human thought and record and phases of civilization contemporary could be included in ten folios, what so with each other, nay, within five minutes frightfully old as we ourselves, who can, of each other by the electric telegraph. if we choose, hold in our memories every In two centuries we have seen rehearsed syllable of recorded time, from the first the dispersion of man from a small point crunch of Eve's teeth in the apple, down over a whole continent; we witness with ward, being thus ideally contemporary our own eyes the action of those forces with hoariest Eld?

which govern the great migration of the “The pyramids built up with newer might peoples, now historical in Europe; we can

To us are nothing novel, nothing strange.” watch the action and reaction of different Now, my dear Storg, you know my races, forms of government, and higher or (what the phrenologists call) inhabitive lower civilizations. Over there, you have ness and adhesiveness, how I stand by the only the dead precipitate, demanding old thought, the old thing, the old place, tedious analysis; but here the elements and the old friend, till I am very sure I are all in solution, and we have only to have got a better, and even then migrate look to know them all. History, which painfully. Remember the old Arabian every day makes less account of governors story, and think how hard it is to pick and more of man, must find here the comup all the pomegranate-seeds of an oppo pendious key to all that picture-writing of nent's argument, and how, as long as one

the Past. Therefore it is, my dear Storg, remains, you are as far from the end as that we Yankees may still esteem our Since I have you entirely at my

America a place worth living in. But mercy (for you cannot answer me under calm your apprehensions: I do not profive weeks) you will not be surprised at pose to drag you with me on such an histhe advent of this letter. I had always torical circumnavigation of the globe, but one impregnable position, which was, that only to show you that (however needful however good other places might be, there it may be to go abroad for the study of was only one in which we could be born, æsthetics) a man who uses the eyes of and which therefore possessed a quite his heart, may find here also pretty bits peculiar and inalienable virtue. We had of what may be called the social picturthe fortune, which neither of us have had esque, and little landscapes over which reason to call other than good, to journey that Indian-summer atmosphere of the together through the green, secluded val Past broods as sweetly and tenderly as ley of boyhood; together we climbed the over a Roman ruin. Let us look at the mountain wall which shut it in, and looked Cambridge of thirty years since. down upon those Italian plains of early The seat of the oldest college in Amermanhood; and, since then, we have met ica, it had, of course, some of that cloissometimes by a well, or broken bread to tered quiet which characterizes all univergether at an oasis in the arid desert of sity-towns. But, underlying this, it had life as it truly is. With this letter I pro an idiosyncrasy of its own. Boston was pose to make you my fellow-traveller in not yet a city, and Cambridge was still a one of those fireside voyages which, as we country village, with its own habits and grow older, we make oftener and oftener traditions, not yet feeling too strongly the through our own past. Without leaving force of suburban gravitation. Approachyour elbow-chair, you shall go back with ing it from the west by what was then me thirty years, which will bring you called the New Road (it is called so no among things and persons as thoroughly longer, for we change our names whenever preterite as Romulus or Numa. For, so we can, to the great detriment of all hisrapid are our changes in America, that torical association) you would pause on the transition from old to new, the change the brow of Symonds' Hill to enjoy a from habits and associations to others en view singularly soothing and placid. In tirely different, is as rapid almost as the front of you lay the town, tufted with pushing in of one scene and the drawing elms, lindens, and horse-chesnuts, which out of another on the stage. And it is had seen Massachusetts a colony, and were

[ocr errors]

fortunately unable to ernigrate with the We called it "the Village

then (1 tories by whom, or by whose fathers, speak of Old Cambridge), and it was they were planted. Over it rose the noisy essentially an English village, quiet, unbelfry of the college, the square, brown speculative, without enterprise, sufficing tower of the church, and the slim, yellow to itself, and only showing such differspire of the parish meeting-house, by no ences from the original type as the public means ungraceful, and then an invariable school and the system of town governcharacteristic of New England religious ment might superinduce. A few houses, architecture. On your right, the Charles chiefly old, stood around the bare comslipped smoothly through green and pur mon, with ample elbow-room, and old ple salt-meadows, darkened, here and women, capped and spectacled, still peered there, with the blossoming black-grass as through the same windows from which with a stranded cloud-shadow. Over they had watched Lord Percy's artillery these marshes, level as water, but without rumble by to Lexington, or caught a its glare, and with softer and more sooth glimpse of the handsome Virginia General ing gradations of perspective, the eye was who had come to wield our homespun carried to a horizon of softly-rounded Saxon chivalry. People were still living hills. To your left hand, upon the Old who regretted the late unhappy separaRoad, you saw some half-dozen dignified tion fro the Moth Island, who had old houses of the colonial time, all com seen no gentry since the Vassals went, and fortably fronting southward. If it were who thought that Boston had ill kept the spring-time, the rows of horse-chesnuts day of her patron saint, Botolph, on the along the fronts of these houses showed, 17th June, 1775. The hooks were to be through every crevice of their dark heap seen from which had swung the hammocks of foliage, and on the end of every droop of Burgoyne's captive red-coats. If ing limb, a cone of pearly flowers, while memory does not deceive me, women still the hill behind was white or rosy with washed clothes in the town-spring, clear the crowding blooms of various fruit as that of Bandusia. One coach sufficed trees. There is no sound, unless a horse for all the travel to the metropolis. Comman clatters over the loose planks of the mencement had not ceased to be the great bridge, while his antipodal shadow glides holiday of the Puritan Commonwealth, silently over the mirrored bridge below, and a fitting one it was—the festival of or unless

Santa Scolastica, whose triumphal path “Oh, wingod rapture, feathored soul of spring, one may conceive strewn with leaves of Blithe voico of woods, fields, waters, all in one, spelling-book instead of bay. The stuPipe blown through by tho warm, mild breath of dents (scholars they were called then)

June,
Shepberding her white flocks of woolly clouds,

wore their sober uniform, not ostentaThe Bobolink has come, and climbs the wind

tiously distinctive nor capable of rousing With rippling wings, that quiver, not for flight,

democratic envy, and the old lines of caste But only joy, or, yielding to its will,

were blurred rather than rubbed out, as Runs down, a brook of laughter, through the air.” servitor was softened into beneficiary.

Such was the charmingly rural picture The Spanish king was sure that the geswhich he who, thirty years ago, went ticulating student was either mad or readeastward over Symonds' Hill, had given ing Don Quixotte, and if, in those days, him for nothing to hang in the Gallery of you met a youth swinging his arms and Memory. But we are a city now, and talking to himself

, you might conclude that Common Councils have yet no notion of he was either a lunatic or one who was to the truth (learned long ago by many a

appear in a part” at the next ComEuropean hamlet) that picturesqueness mencement. A favorite place for the readds to the actual money-value of a town.

hearsal of these orations was the retired To save a few dollars in gravel, they have amphitheatre of the Gravelpit, perched cut a kind of dry ditch through the hill, unregarded on whose dizzy edge, I have where you suffocate with dust in summer,

heard many a burst of plus-quam-Ciceror flounder through waist-deep snow onian eloquence, and (often repeated) the drifts in winter, with no prospect but the regular saluto vos praestantissimas, &c., crumbling earth-walls on each side. The which every year (with a glance at the landscape was carried away, cartload by gallery) causes a flutter among the fans cartload, and, deposited on the roads, innocent of Latin, and delights to apforms a part of that unfathomable pud- plauses of conscious superiority the youth ding, which has, I fear, driven many a almost as innocent as they. It is curious, teamster and pedestrian to the use of by the way, to note how plainly one can phrases not commonly found in English feel the pulse of self in the plaudits of an dictionaries.

audience. At a political meeting, if the

« PoprzedniaDalej »