Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

bed, put it on her horse, with such other to her friends and neighbors, and to the articles of household service as she could poor generally, gratuitously; while she carry, mounted, taking her child in her

accepted compensation from such as came lap—though within two weeks of her se from a distance and were able to offer it. cond confinement—and assisted in driv It was a desire to do good which first ing away the stock. The alarm was given induced her to undertake the most labo that the Indians were near and they must rious duties of a physician among her own ride for their lives, and she urged her horse sex, medical practitioners being very scarce at full speed a mile and a half, with all in that region; and her success soon made her incumbrances. A party of soldiers her so celebrated, that her aid was sought was sent out from the fort to reconnoitre from every direction. She became fond the enemy, and struck the trail of some of the practice, and continued to ride forty savages, but did not venture to fol her circuit till a few months before her low them more than a few miles.

death. One day, a man named Fisher came There were some incidents in her exfrom the fort to Mr. Spears's field, to perience, even after the cessation of Indian bring a message to him. On his return he hostilities, which are highly illustrative. was pursued by Indians, and shot down and One morning, her husband went out a scalped in the sight of Mrs. Spears, before short distance, taking his gun, and bida gun could be brought to bear on the ding her to follow him with his knife, if fierce assailants. Such incidents kept our she heard firing. Hearing a report soon pioneers in a continual state of suspense after, she ran with the knife in the direcand dread, and during the time they were tion of the sound, and heard soon after a living in the fort for greater safety, their second shot. Mr. Spears snatched the condition was but little more comfortable. knife from her hands, and plunged it to Their cattle were continually driven off, the handle into - a monstrous bear, and their hunters, as well as those who “which ” Mrs. Spears used to say, "had in ventured out to till the ground, murdered its embrace our biggest and best sow. It by stealthy foes; so that they suffered was some time before the sow recovered terribly for want of provisions. While in her breath, as each shot caused the bear the fort, Mrs. Spears heard of two more to hug the tighter; though not a bone of her relations being killed by the In was broken."

five of her family in all, fell vic Mrs. Spears was fond of high-mettled tims to savage fury.

horses, and was accustomed to ride a The three oldest children of Mrs. Spears very spirited one. Her husband warned were born during those years of terror,

her that the animal was apt to run away; when the border settlers suffered so severe but our heroine declared she would cure ly. Mr. Spears was a man of intelligence the propensity, which she did one day, and sincere piety; he was a kind husband, when the mare had run about a mile with and as they were blest with health and her, by suddenly checking, so as to cause competence, their home was a' happy one. the animal to dash its head against the Mrs. Spears was gentle and amiable in her trunk of a beech-tree by the roadside, manners, and affectionate in her nature, while the fearless rider sprang off in time with a warm and generous heart; always to save herself. modest and yielding, except when sterner At one time Mrs. Spears was sent for qualities were in requisition, when the in great haste to attend a woman living strength and firmness of her nature were on the opposite side of Green river, sevapparent. She made no attempt at any eral miles distant. Her own babe was time to divest herself of early habits, in too young to leave, and she set off on conformity to the improvements of the horseback carrying it in her arms. Artime, or changing fashions. A carriage riving at the river, she found that the was always at her disposal, yet she pre- ferry boat had just pushed from shore. ferred riding on horseback when the jour She called to the man to return, urging ney was not too long; and in such cases the necessity of the case, but the man reshe used a large covered farm wagon. plied that his load was too heavy. On Always charitable to the poor, and liberal this the spirited matron urged her mare to all with whom she had dealings, her into the river, swam her past the ferryindustry and systematic housewifery boat, reached the opposite bank first, and were admirable, and not a moment of her was in time to thank the ferryman for his time was ever wasted. Besides being en humanity before his boat touched the gaged in weaving, sewing, and other do landing. The child she carried on this mestic employments, she made salves, occasion was accustomed to relate this ointments, and decoctions continually, for anecdote, and its truth was confirmed by all the afflicted of her acquaintance. Her the old neighbors in Kentucky, among knowledge of medicine was made available whom the lady to whom we are indebted

dians;

for this memoir, travelled a little more Apprehensive of thievish intent, she had than a year ago.

her bed laid that night upon the ground, Mr. and Mrs. Spears removed with that her quick ear might catch the sound their servants—a negro boy and girl-to of approaching footsteps. In the dead Illinois in 1824. Their three surviving silence of the night she heard the sound, children, all of whom had families, accom and raising herself with a loud voice, depanied them. All had prospered and were manded who was there? The intruder comfortable in their worldly circumstan retired without making any answer; but ces. They settled at Claray's Grove, in in the space of an hour or two returned, Merard county. The parents were blessed with the same stealthy step, which was in their children, and had “godliness with again detected by the watchful matron. contentment." Mrs. Spears' solicitous Starting up, she repeated her question, care for her servants, in regard not only and when no reply came, charged the to bodily comfort, but moral and religious man with his nefarious design, and threatculture, equalled that she had bestowed ened punishment if he dared to come again. on her own children, and it was returned The thief did not seem inclined to give up by the most devoted affection and willing his prey, but came the third time on obedience. When the boy-Jem--be horseback. The matron, aware of his came of age, his mistress gave him a lib approach, prepared herself for him, and eral outfit, with liberty to depart if he as he came near, suddenly sprang towards chose to do so; but he preferred remain him, holding a large article of dress, ing with her. By thrifty increase of his which she flapped in his horse's face with store, Jem was enabled afterwards to pur such a report that the animal wheeled chase both his parents, who belonged to round in affright, and bounded swiftly out a relative of Mrs. Spears, then residing in of her sight. Then the thought struck Missouri. They were redeemed by the her, perhaps the rider had been thrown dutiful son, and brought to Claray's and killed; and she was uneasy, till by Grove but a very short time since. The laying her ear to the ground she could sympathy and aid given by Jem's mis hear the regular receding tramp of the tress to this cherished project, may throw horse, showing that the man had escaped additional light on her most lovely and

without injury. christian character.

Mrs. Spears died at her residence at At a very advanced age-between Claray's Grove, on the 26th January, eighty and ninety—Mrs. Spears visited 1852, surrounded by affectionate children her brother in Tennessee. This brother and grandchildren, who still reverently in the time of the Indian war was riding in cherish the memory of her virtues, and company with her mother when she was look to the example of her well-spent and wounded by a shot from an Indian. He useful life. The times of trial which nurkilled the assailant, but while attempting tured such noble natures, by developing to place his mother again in the saddle, their strength and power of endurance, received a shot from another lurking sav may never return in our powerful and age. A man who accompanied them prosperous country; yet have we all helped him to mount his horse, and the work to do in the great battle of life, and party made good their escape. On her not without lasting benefit may we conway to visit this brother, Mrs. Spears template the character of those heroic travelled in a large covered wagon, and matrons who bore so much of the burden was accompanied by her grandson, a boy in our struggle for independence, and about fourteen years of age. They camp whose influence was so controlling and ed out every night. During one day extensive, though unacknowledged in the Mrs. Spears had noticed a horseman pass history, which deals only with the actions them several times, and attentively mark, of men. as she thought, one of her best horses.

ROBINSON CRUSOE'S ISLAND.

IT

is a remarkable fact in literary history, or, perhaps, we should rather say, in literary criticism, that for more than a hundred years an unquestioned connection has been maintained in popular opinion between Robinson Crusoe and Juan Fer

nandez; so that in school geographies, books of voyages, and the like, wherever it becomes necessary to mention the island, an allusion to the hero of Defoe's romance is sure to follow, while yet the slightest examination of an unabridged copy of

Robinson Crusoe will show that it con procuring negroes. From St. Salvador or tains no reference whatever to Juan Fer Bahia, on the east coast of Brazil, nandez, but that, on the contrary, a very

“We set sail,” he says; “standing away well-defined locality in another part of

to the northward upon our own coast, with the Western Hemisphere, is assigned to design to stretch over for the African coast." the imaginary island. Undoubtedly this delusion originated in the charge against When they came to about ten or Defoe that he had derived the idea, and twelve degrees of northern latitude, many of the details of his fiction, from the which, it seems, was the manner of their well-known story of Alexander Selkirk's course in those days: residence on Juan Fernandez, though it “We had very good weather, only excessive can be easily proved that Defoe was under

hot all the way upon our own coast, till we little or no obligation to the Scotchman's came to the height of Cape St. Augustino, narrative.

from whence, keeping farther off at sen, we The story of Selkirk is briefly this: lost sight of land, and steered as if we were He was the sailing-master of an English bound for the isle Fernando de Brouha, holdprivateer, commanded by Captain Strad ing our course northeast by north, and leavling, which was cruising in the South

ing those isles on the east. In this course, Seas, and which stopped at Juan Fernan

we passed the line in about twelve days' dez in 1704, for supplies and repairs, that

time, and were, by our last observation, in island being then as well known, and al

seven degrees twenty-two minutes northern

latitude, when a violent tornado, or hurri. most as frequently visited by French,

cane, took us quite out of our knowledge. Spanish and English vessels, as it is now.

It began from the southeast, came about to In consequence of a violent quarrel with

the northwest, and then settled in the northhis commander, Selkirk resolved to leave east; from whence it blew in such a terrible the vessel, and accordingly, in September, manner, that for twelve days together, we 1704, he was set ashore at his own re could do nothing but drive, and scudding quest, being supplied with a sea-chest, his away before it, let it carry us whither ever wearing clothes, and bedding, a firelock, fate and the fury of the winds directed. a pound of gunpowder, a large quantity

"About the twelfth day, the weather of bullets, a flint and steel, a few pounds

abating a little, the master made an obser. of tobacco, a hatchet, a knife, a kettle, a

vation as well as he could, and found that Bible, and other books of devotion, to

he was in eleven degrees north latitude, but gether with books of navigation and his

that he was twenty-two degrees of longitude

difference west, from Cape St. Augustino; so mathematical instruments. He remained

that he found he was got upon the coast of upon the island four years and four

Guiana, or the north part of Brazil, beyond months, until he was taken off in Februa

the River Amazon, towards that of the River ry, 1709, by Captain Woodes Rogers,

Oroonoque, commonly called the Great Ricommander of the Duke, a British priva ver. * *** Looking over the charts of the teer, in which vessel Selkirk shipped him sea coast of America, we concluded there self as a mate, and after a long cruise re was no inhabited country for us to have returned to England in October, 1711, eight course to, till we came within the circle of years before the publication of Robinson the Carribbee islands, and therefore resolved Crusoe.

to stand away for Barbadoes, which, by keepSelkirk, it will be observed, volunta

ing off to sea, to avoid the in-draft of the rily went ashore, well supplied with arms,

Gulf of Mexico, we might easily perform, as tools, clothes, and books, upon an island

we hoped, in about fifteen days' sail. With

this design, we changed our course, and that for two centuries had been the resort

Robinson of ships of various nations.

steered away northwest by west, in order to

reach some of our English islands, where I Crusoe, on the contrary, as every boy hoped for relief; but our voyage was other knows, was shipwrecked, and escaped by wise determined; for being in the latitude of swimming to a desolate island, not laid twelve degrees, eighteen minutes, a second down upon the maps. Juan Fernandez storm came upon us, which carried us away is in the Pacific Ocean, about 34 degrees, with the same impetuosity westward, and or more than 2000 miles, south of the drove us so out of the very way of all human Equator, and 400 miles from the south commerce, that, had all our lives been saved, west coast of South America. Let us now as to the sea, we were rather in danger of see where Robinson Crusoe's island is

being devoured by savages than ever return. situated, according to his own veracious

ing to our own country. In this distress

the wind still blowing very hard, one of our and explicit narrative. He relates that he had been living for

men, early in the morning, cried out, Land!

and we had no sooner run out of the cabin to some years as a planter in Brazil, and

look out, in hopes of seeing whereabouts in being "straitened" for want of slaves, was the world we were, but the ship struck upon induced to go on an expedition to the op a sand, and in a moment, her motion being posite coast of Africa for the purpose of so stopped, the sea broke over her in such

a manner, that we expected we should all tracted general attention. The story of have perished immediately.”

Peter Serrano is at the very beginning of The ship being thus stuck fast, the crew the volume, on the third page, and it is took to the boat, which soon swamped, altogether unlikely that it should have and all perished, except Robinson Crusoe, escaped Defoe's attention. It is interestwho swam to shore, and found himself on ing in itself, and affords, so far as it goes, an island, from the highest part of which, a tolerably close parallel to the Adventhe main-land was distinctly visible on a tures of Robinson Crusoe. The island on fair day. In his first conversation with which Serrano was cast, is one of a small his “man Friday,” Crusoe states that they cluster now called the Serrano Keys, lying talked of a current which swept by the in the Caribbean Sea, in latitude fourteen island, which, he says, “I understood to degrees north, and longitude eighty debe no more than the sets of the tide, as grees west from Greenwich, about midgoing out or coming in; but I afterwards way between Cuba and the Isthmus of understood it was occasioned by the great Panama. The locality given by Defoe to draft and reflux of the mighty river Oroo Robinson Crusoe's island, is two degrees noko, in the mouth or gulf of which further south, and eighteen degrees furtiver, as I found afterwards, our island ther east. lay; and this land which I perceived to The following, with the omission of a the west and northwest, was the great few unimportant sentences, is Rycaut's island Trinidad, on the north point of translation of the account of Serrano. the mouth of the river.” This is certainly sufficient to prove that Juan Fernandez

“Peter Serrano escaped from shipwreck

by swimming to that desert island, which was not Robinson Crusoe's island, and has from him received its name, being, as he in fact no more claims to be so considered, reported, about two leagues in compass. than Martha's Vineyard, or Staten Isl * * * It was Peter Serrano's misfortune to and. But, if any more evidence be need be lost upon these places, and to save his ed, it will settle the question to quote the life on this disconsolate island, where was title of the original edition of Robinson neither water, nor wood, nor grass, nor any. Crusoe, which is generally abridged, or thing for support of human life, at least not modified, by modern publishers. It reads: for maintenance of him for so long a time as “ The Life and Strange Surprising Ad

until some ship passing by might redeem him rentures of Robinson Crusoe, of York,

from perishing by hunger and thirst, which Mariner; who lived eight and twenty

languishing manner of death is much more years, all alone, in an uninhabited Island,

miserable than by a speedy suffocation in

the waters. With the sad thoughts hereof on the Coast of America, near the mouth of the Great River Oroonoque; having

he passed the first night, lamenting his af

fliction with as many melancholy reflections been cast on shore by Shipwreck, wherein

as we may imagine capable to enter into the all the men perished but himself. With mind of a wretch in like extremities. So an Account how he was at last strangely soon as it grew day, he began to traverse his delivered by Pirates. Written by him island, and found on the shore some cockles, self. London: printed for Mr. Taylor, at shrimps, and other creatures of like nature, the Ship, in Paternoster Row.”

which the sea had thrown up, and which he It is possible that Defoe may have been

was forced to eat raw, because he wanted indebted to Selkirk's brief and bold nar

fire wherewith to roast them : and with this rative, for a few hints and suggestions ;

small entertainment he passed his time, till but considering the locality which he has

observing some turtles not far from the shore,

he watched a convenience until they came assigned to Robinson Crusoe's island, the

within his reach, and then throwing them manner in which Crusoe gets there, and

on their backs (which is the manner of tasome other circumstances of the story, it king that sort of fish) he cut the throat, seems to us highly probable that, in plan- drinking the blood instead of water: and ning his work, Defoe was thinking less of slicing out the flesh with a knife which was Selkirk, than of Peter Serrano, a Spanish fastened to his girdle, he laid the pieces to sailor, whose story is told in a book, with be dried and roasted by the sun: the shell which Defoe could not have failed to be he made use of to rake up rain-water, which come acquainted with, namely: “The lay in little puddles, for that is a country Royal Commentaries of Peru, written ori

often subject to great and sudden rains. In ginally in Spanish, by the Juca Garcillasso this manner he passed the first of his days de la Vega, and rendered into English by

by killing all the turtles he was able, some Sir Paul Rycaut, Kt.” This is a large

of which were so large that their shells were

as big as targets or bucklers; others were so folio volume, published in the best style

great that he was not able to stop them in of the day, at London, in 1688, when

their way to the sea, so that in a short time Defoe was twenty-seven years old. The experience taught him which sort he was able translator, Sir Paul Rycaut, was a notable to deal with and which were too unwieldy personage in his time, and his book at for his force. With his lesser shells he poured

water into the greater, some of which contained twelve gallons: so that having made sufficient provision of meat and drink, he began to contrive some way to strike fire, that so he might not only dress his meat with it, but also make a smoke to give a sign to any ship which was passing in those seas. Considering of this invention (for seamen are much more ingenious in all times of extremity than men bred at land), he searched every where to find out a couple of hard pebbles instead of flint, his knife serving in the place of a steel: but the island being all covered with a dead sand, and no stone appearing, he swam into the sea, and diving often to the bottom, he at length found a couple of stones fit for his purpose, which he rubbed together until he got them to an edge, with which being able to strike fire, he drew some thread out of his shirt which he worked so small that it was like cotton and served for tinder; so that having contrived a means to kindle fire, he then gathered a *great quantity of sea-weeds thrown up by the waves, which, with the shells of fish and planks of ships which had been wrecked on those shoals, afforded nourishment for his fuel: and lest sudden showers should extinguish his fire, he made a little covering like a small hut with the shells of the largest turtles or tortoises that he had killed, taking great care that his fire should not go out. In the space of two months and sooner, he was as unprovided of all things as he was at first, for with the great rains, heat and moisture of that climate, his provisions were corrupted; and the great heat of the sun was 80 violent op him, having neither clothes to cover him nor shadow for a shelter, that when he was, as it were, broiled in the sun, he had no remedy but to run into the sea. In this misery and care he passed three years, during which time he saw several ships at sea and as often made his smoke; but none turned out of their way to see what it meant, for fear of those shelves and sands, which wary pilots avoid with all imaginable circumspection; so that, the poor wretch, despairing of all manner of relief, esteemed it a mercy for him to die, and arrive at that period which could only put an end to his iniseries: and being exposed in this manner to all weathers, the hair of his body grew in that manner that he was covered all over with bristles, the hair of his head and beard reaching to his waist, that he appeared like some wild and savage creature. At the end of three years, Serrano was strangely surprised with the appearance of a man in his island, whose ship had the night before been cast away upon those sands, and had saved himself on a plank of the vessel. So soon as it was day, he espied the smoke, and imagining whence it was, he made towards it. So soon as they saw each other, it is hard to say which was the most amazed.

Serrano imagined that it was the Devil who came in the shape of a man to tempt him to despair: the new-comer believed Serrano to be the Devil in his own proper shape and figure,

being covered over with hair and beard: in fine, they were both afraid, flying one from the other; Peter Serrano cried out as he ran, “Jesus, Jesus, deliver me from the Devil.” The other hearing this, took courage, and returning again to him, called out, “Brother, Brother, don't fly from me, for I am a Chris tian as thou art:” and because he saw that Serrano still ran from him, he repeated the Credo, or Apostle's creed, in words aloud, which, when Serrano heard, he knew it was no Devil that would recite those words, and thereupon gave a stop to his flight, and returning to him with great kindness

, they embraced each other, with sighs and tears, lamenting their sad estate without any hopes of deliverance. Serrano supposing that his guest wanted refreshment, entertained bim with such provisions as his miserable life afforded; and having a little comforted each other, they began to recount the manuer and occasion of their sad disasters. Then for the better government in their way of living, they designed their hours of day and night to certain services. Such a time was appointed to kill fish for eating, such hours for gathering weeds, fish-bones and other matters which the sea threw up to maintain their constant fire: and especial care they had to observe their watches and relieve each other at certain hours that so they might be sure their fire went not out. In this manner they lived amicably together for certain days, for many did not pass before a quarrel arose between them, so high, that they were ready to fight. The occasion proceeded from some words that one gave the other, that he took not that care and labor as the extremity of their condition required; and this difference so increased (for to such misery do our passions often betray us) that at length they separated and lived apart one from the other. However, in a short time, having experienced the want of that comfort which mutual society procures, their choler was appeased, and so they returned to enjoy converse and the assistance which friendship and company afforded, in which condition they passed four years; during all which time they saw many ships sail near them, yet none would be so charitable or curious as to be invited by their smoke and flame: 80 that now being almost desperate, they expected no other remedy besides death to put an end to their miseries.

However, at length a ship adventuring to pass nearer than ordinary, espied the smoke, and rightly judging that it must be made by some shipwrecked persons escaped to those sands, hoisted out their boat to take them in. Serrano and his companion readily ran to the place where they saw the boat coming; but so soon as the mariners were approached so near as to distinguish the strange figures and looks of these two men, they were so affrighted, that they began to row back: but the poor men cried out, and that they might believe them not to be devils or evil spirits, they rehearsed the creed, and called aloud upon the name of Jesus: with

« PoprzedniaDalej »