網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

boy days; and the time was rapidly approaching when quest. A verdict of death by some unknown means he had an opportunity of glutting his malice to the was the result, although public opinion seemed to lean fullest extent.

to the idea of suicide. The son however came to a One morning, about day break, in the month of Feb- different conclusion, but still suspicion fell upon no parruary, 17—, I was crossing the country to my daily ticular person. employment, in order to gain a public road, which led Three or four months had passed away and the whole to the place of my occupation, when just as I struck affair seemed buried in oblivion, when one day, in the the highway, my ear caught the rapidly retreating presence of Benson only, I intimated my intention of sounds of a horse's feet, and looking to my right I saw setting out the following morning for the town of —, the figure of a horseman, just disappearing, at an angle and he carelessly asked me if I would do him the favor of the road. I thought the figure resembled Benson's, to sell for him a tobacco note, which he had received in but the view was so transient that I might be mistaken, payment for some work. As I could see no sort of and I deemed this the more probable because I supposed objection to so friendly an act I readily assented; my him at that time to be in another part of the county. reader must be informed that tobacco was at that time I proceeded down the road in an opposite direction, a sort of currency and familiarly used in all transacand had not gone more than a half mile, when I dis- tions like money. I went to town, transacted my own covered near a small thicket on the side of the road, business, sold the tobacco, and returned home and paid the dead body of a man covered with blood. His hat the proceeds to Benson. I thought no more of the was placed near him with some papers and his watch matter until a few weeks after, when to my utter asin it, and a pistol was slightly grasped in his right hand. tonishment I was arrested upon the charge of having At a small distance was a horse saddled and bridled murdered the old gentleman above mentioned. My and tied to a tree. It was impossible that the horse amazement was considered well feigned by his son, man should have passed without seeing these objects, who assured me that the evidence against me was irreand I therefore supposed that he might have entered sistible, and sneeringly asked me how I became posthe public road at a cross one, which I had passed be- sessed of his father's tobacco ? 'The truth flashed infore arriving at the spot. I immediately recognized the stantly upon me, that I had been made the dupe of a body to be that of an elderly gentleman of the neigh- designing villain, and at once I saw the peril of my borhood, who was somewhat singular in his manners, situation. I replied that I had received the tobacco but he was rich and not known to be unhappy, or under from Benson, and desired to be confronted with him, any possible inducement to commit so desperate a deed that I might see whether he would deny the truth of as self

murder. Upon further examination, I picked my assertion; the officer who arrested me, consented, up the half burnt wadding of the pistol, and unfolding as Benson lived in the village where the jail was, and it perceived that it was a piece of calico, the figure of accordingly I stood before him, searching every lineawhich was easily discernible; the propriety of its pre- ment of his dark countenance with an eye of fire. Did servation however never occurred to me. I continued you not give me a tobacco note to sell for you several to hold it in my hand as I proceeded in my inquiries, weeks ago? No, was his sullen reply. Villain, I exand without thinking of it or intending to do so, I put claimed, do you dare to deny it ? and I sprang upon it into my pocket and never thought of it again until him with all the violence of a man who saw the dessome time after. I examined the ground, which was peration of his situation, unless he could obtain a convery hard frozen, but could perceive no other tracks fession. I should certainly have strangled the scounthan those of the horse which had belonged to the dead, drel with my grasp, had I not been overpowered by and even those were scarcely to be seen. What should numbers and dragged away to prison. My violence I do was now the question? I concluded it would be best served but to confirm the suspicions of my persecutors, to mount the horse and ride off as speedily as possible who saw in the workings of my countenance nothing but to the mansion of the old gentleman and give the alarm the evidence of vehement passions, capable of any atroto his son who resided with him; I did so, and returned city. Left alone in my solitary prison, it may be well with him immediately to the scene. We made no other imagined how horrible was the train of my thoughts. discovery which could lead to a development of the I felt like some malefactor whose prison was on fire, mystery; we went to the cross road spoken of, and and who saw no chance of escape from the irons which saw the feint traces of a horse upon it as I had conjec- held him chained to the wall. What could I do? I tured. The young man informed me that his father had certainly sold the tobacco, and was known by the had determined the previous week upon a journey to purchaser and could be identified; no one had seen me the town of and probably had a considerable receive the tobacco from Benson ; nobody had seen me sum of money about him, but we could find none. His pay him the money on my return. That tobacco, it watch was a very valuable one, and would doubtless appeared, was part of a parcel of notes which were bave been taken had he been murdered. The placing known to be in the possession of the old gentleman of his papers and his watch in his hat looked like a murdered, and found to be missing when his papers deliberate design, which could scarcely be imputed to were examined by his son, who was his executor and an assassin, whose hurry upon a public road would heir, and who resolved to watch in silence their sale as have been too great for such deliberation. The pistol the clue to the assassin of his father. He had taken however he had never seen before. His father had his measures wisely, and upon going to town some frequently manifested some slight oddity of manner, but weeks after my visit to the same, he discovered that the son had never dreamed of such a termination of his the note had been sold to a merchant, who, upon apexistence. Upon the whole, the matter seemed to baffle plication, described the individual from whom he had conjecture, and so it appeared upon the coroner's in- I bought it, and disclosed his name. Here was a chain

of evidence absolutely conclusive, even if I had not great ones, and now that I had viewed my condition in been the person who discovered the body and gave the all its possible aspects, and had become satisfied that alarm. What would it avail to say that I had no such there was no escape from my toils, I fortified my mind pistol as the one found near the body? It is always and resolved to bear my lot with a firmness which easy to procure materials which might lead inquiry should at least exempt me from contempt. I was sitastray. What object could I have in officiously dis- ting with my wife on the evening preceding my trial, closing the murder, and endeavoring to trace the mur- and was once more detailing to her the circumstances derer as I had done, in company with the son ? The attending my accidental discovery of the body of the answer was easy; the more effectually to mislead the old gentleman murdered. I was at her request more judgment. How corroborative of my guilt was the minute than usual, as her mind was anxiously bent circumstance that no trace of another horse was visible upon finding some clue to lead us from our labyrinth of on the spot! It would be vain to urge that the author difficulties. The circumstance of the half-burnt wadof the deed might have designedly passed on the other ding of the pistol had until now passed entirely out of road and have crossed to the thicket on foot, and having my mind, but the instant I mentioned it she started up committed the crime might have returned to his horse and exclaimed, what became of it? I told her that it on that road. Conjectures of this sort might have remained unnoticed in my pocket for a long time, but availed, had there been any corroborating circumstances that at length I drew it forth accidentally one day and to do away with the damning fact of my having pos- had thrown it into a drawer at home, which I described, session of the note; but there were none. No one had not with any view of preservation, but simply to be rid seen the horseman on that morning but myself; Benson of it. She clasped her hands and devoutly thanked was supposed to be at a distance ; nobody else was God that there was yet a hope, and then solemnly adsuspected. Could I refer to my character to screen dressed me thus: “My dear husband, I would not for me? It is true, it had been good since my residence in worlds awaken a hope in your bosom which may be the county; but from whence did I come, and what disappointed. I perceive the enviable state of calmwas my standing in the place of my nativity? I couldness to which you have been brought by the goodness not hope for aid in that quarter: No, the death of a of God, but nevertheless a sudden thought has occurred feion was inevitable!

to me which I will not reveal to you, lest it should exSuch were the thoughts which occupied my mind eite in your breast the same intensity of feeling which during the first night of my confinement! In the morn- pervades mine at this moment. I must be gone; fareing came my wife and child to see me. It is impossi- well until tomorrow; I cannot return sooner.” So ble to convey any idea of the deep sense of degradation saying she hastened away, and I sought that repose I felt, not withstanding my innocence at the reception which is so difficult in situations like mine. I did sleep of my family in a jail. My angel wife saw my pain however, and strange to say, my dreams were all that and endeavored to soothe me by every means in her night of a character the most pleasing, and my slumbers power; she assured me that she doubted not my inno- were more refreshing than those I had for some time cence for a moment, and that she trusted in God for experienced. But oh! what were the thoughts which my deliverance. My child climbed my knee and asked rushed upon my mind, when I awoke and returned to me why I did not come home and what I staid there a consciousness of what was to take place that day ? for, and repeated a thousand endearing little circum- Those thoughts, rushing like a whirlwind upon me, stances connected with home, which wrung my heart, have left an impression which can never be effaced and produced a feeling of bitterness which I had never while memory lasts. It is true, I hastened to get the known before. I caressed him fondly and promised to mastery of my mind again, and trampled down those come back, and beseeched my wife to take him away, thoughts for the day. I bore me up heroically; I atas I could not bear the agonizing emotions he awaken- tended the summons to court with alacrity; I walked ed. I preferred being alone, as I felt even her company through the gaping crowd with a firm step and manly a restraint to me, while my mind was occupied so in- look, and repeated the "not guilty" with a clear and tensely with the contemplation of my situation. She determined voice. All the horrible pageantry of a trial wisely withdrew, but did not fail to return each day, had passed; the jury were empannelled; the witnesses to offer me all the consolation in her power and to pro- were sworn, and among them that son of Belial, Benson. vide for my accommodation, of which she saw me en- The attorney for the commonwealth had recapitulated tirely regardless. I will not dwell upon what may be all the disgusting circumstances of the murder, and readily imagined. Day after day passed without the showed their necessary and unquestionable connexion smallest ray of hope of escape from my perilous con- with me; my counsel had risen to speak when a slight dition. I employed counsel, but had nothing to say to movement among the crowd behind me caused me to him but the repetition of my innocence, nor could he turn my head, and I beheld my wife making her way conscientiously offer me any prospect of acquittal. The to the bar. She touched the elbow of my lawyer and examining court was held, and the result was what whispered in his ear. He received something from her might have been expected. I was remanded to jail for and then begged the court to excuse him for a few m further trial at the superior court, and spent two dread. ments. They readily consented to do so, and in that ful months of tedious restraint, though each day found painful interval I rose and fixed my eyes sternly upon me more composed and more prepared to breast the Benson, determined to watch closely his diabolical counshock of condemnation. I have ever found this the tenance. His eye quailed beneath mine, and an evident case with me, that I have been impatient under the paleness came over his cheek. What had produced it ? trials of life, as long as there was a chance of avoiding Had he seen what was tendered by my wife, or did his them. Small matters always harassed me more than guilty soul simply tremble before the keen glance of his

mo

BUCKSKIN.

victim ? In a few moments my lawyer returned, and spot where once stood our school-house. Not a vestige addressed the court with a strong appeal to their feel remained of it; the fine grove of oaks, beneath whose ings of humanity. He described the great peril of the shade I had so often gambolled, were all cut down, and prisoner, and the difficulties under which he labored in the broomstraw field.was all washed by the rains into producing proof to rebut a charge which seemed to be frightful gullies. Just so had time furrowed my cheek corroborated by such strong circumstances, and said with the tears which had coursed them down, and I that he trusted the court would have patience and in- shuddered as I turned away from the scene of the condulge him in any effort he might make to establish the tests of a Benson and a innocence of the accused. He then stated the particu. lars I have already related respecting the wadding of the pistol; its casual preservation, and its discovery by my wife in the drawer in which I had left it. He

I REMEMBER. exhibited it to the court, and asked at their hands the immediate arrest of the witness Benson, and the detain “Eheu quam minus est cum reliquis versari, ing him in custody until a search could be made of his Quam tui meminisse.” house, and that a warrant might issue for that purpose.

I remember well when Love was young He was willing, he said, to rest the hopes of his client

When bright'ning hopes were oursupon the result of the investigation to be made, whether

When the joyous harp was ne'er unstrung there was any thing in Benson's house from which the

Within thy fairy bow'rs: half-burnt calico could have been torn. It was staking

Or if its notes would sometimes glide all, he admitted, upon a desperate throw; but seeing no better chance, if the court would have patience to

Into strains of gloom and sadness

Oh, then how sweetly thou would'st chide, make the inquiry, and it failed, he would at once sur

And bid me not my sorrows hide, render the cause and give up the prisoner to his fate.

But to thy faithful breast confideThe court of course assented. Benson was forthwith

Till the harp again, arrested; the warrant issued, and the officers of justice

In lightsome strain, went to make the search, accompanicd by my wife and

Poured forth rich streams of gladness. my legal adviser. Who shall count the ages which rolled away while that search was making ?—The time Thou could'st not deem that my young heart, seemed to me an eternity. Hope was awakened, and I 'Mid scenes of hope and love, could not suppress the throbbings of my heart. The Was cankered with guilt's poisoned dart, court seemed as still as death. I fancied amidst that Which time could ne'er removeawful stillness that every one could hear the pulsations Thou could'st not dream, thou angel one! of my heart. I tried every means in my power to be That he, whom thou hadst cherished, calm, but each effort seemed to increase my agitation. Was doomed to see thy peace o’erthrownI listened for the sound of returning footsteps until I To walk this wilderness alonethought my heart would burst with the suspension of To mourn beside thy funeral stonemy breath. I turned my eyes again upon my foe, and To drag, with pain, be too seemed striving in vain to be calm. He seemed Life's heavy chain, uneasy and restless. What was the cause ? Was he When all his hopes had perished ! indignant under suspicion ? or was he fearful of detec

E’en then, my soul, with restless gloom, tion? I could not reason; my senses were confused

With dark forebodings fraught, by the rapid circulation of my blood. At last the sound of coming steps was heard; the blood curdled

Was rushing, reckless, to its doom,

Urged by tormenting thought; at my heart, and I should have fallen but for the cry

And when the harrowing tale was toldof joy which burst forth from my wife as she entered the court. “It is found! It is found !” she exclaimed,

The fearful mystery spoken

How for the cursed demon, gold, "and my husband will not die. He is innocent! He is innocent.” In an old chest, covered up by a pile of

He, thy heart's chosen, his troth had sold, lumber in Benson's shop, was found a counterpane,

Thy life's warm current was checked and cold

While the faint-drawn sigh, from whence had been torn the piece of calico, used in

And the wild-glared eye, loading the fatal pistol. The figure corresponded precisely, and this, taken in connexion with my constant

Told that thy heart was broken! declaration, that I had received the tobacco from Ben With the murd'rer's mark upon my brow, son, would have been conclusive against him, but in I'm doomed thro' earth to roamthe same chest was discovered another pistol, the fel No kindly smile to greet me nowlow of the one found in the hand of the murdered man.

-no peaceful home! The testimony was thus so conclusive against him, But in my darkest, dreariest mood that he acknowledged his guilt, and speedily suffered My brain with anguish riv'nthe penalty of his atrocious crimes.

My clouded soul shall cease to brood Such were the baneful consequences which flowed And batten on its bitter foodfrom my education at an old field school, where the All fiercer feelings be subduedlaxity of authority engendered every vice. In gallop When I think that thou ping across the country lately, it was my fortune to Art an angel now, lose myself, and to emerge suddenly upon the very Pleading for me in Heav'n!

For me,

EREMUS.

DEATH OF MISS PATTERSON.

IMPROPRIETIES OF SPEECH.

BY SIMEON SMALLFRY. " They were the first on board, and sought first the one they most loved! Alas, the pale form was there, but the spirit that

There are some public speakers of talents and repugave it light and animation had fled! Still the tokens of its peaceful departure lingered in the sweet composure of her face; tation, who pronounce the last syllable of words ending the brow was still written with thought-the cheek softly tinged in ment, as if it were written munt: thus,-argumunt, with the dreams of her rest. They had come to greet ber, to agreemunt, &c. hear her speak and welcome her home; but the only office that

In like manner, the letter i is often sounded like u; now remained was to consign to the earth this beautiful relic; with breaking hearts they dressed her grave on the banks of or rather like er: thus,-possubble, terruble, cituzzy'n (or that stream where she strayed in her childhood, and where long citterz'n), Missourer ;--for possible, terrible, citizen, Misthe melancholy waves will murmur the music of her name." souri. This piece of affectation is not confined to the

Colton.*

vulgar.

A popular, and really strong-minded member of The ship had left the fair and balmy isles

Congress, that I wot of, habitually says done, where he That glitter o'er the soft Ægean sea

ought to say did. Thus,-"I done all I could"-&c. In Had left Italia's sky of sunny smiles

the western states, they in like manner use seen for saw : Italia's bright and glorious scenery! And hope's sweet smile in many an eye

thus, “I seen the Governor yesterday.” did stand,

It is quite common to hear “insid-i-ous" called As gallantly she bore towards their native land!

“insid-u-ous;" even in reading, where it is properly And there was one, whose bright and sunny eyes spelt.

Did sweetly beam with joyfulness and hope, Of all the letters in the alphabet, r is that which we As in her fancy her fair home did rise,

in Virginia the most barbarously misuse. Sometimes, And childhood's cherish'd scenes around did ope! we sound it ostentatiously, where it does not properly Sweet visions of the futurema vast throng,

occur at all; as after a word ending with a, before anAll rainbow-tinted, danc'd her brain along!

other word beginning with any other vowel. Thus,

“Alabama-r-and Mississippi :" "Indiana-r-and Ohio.” She saw again her home—the lov'd ones there, I have heard a right well educated and intelligent law. She heard again affection's accent bland

yer, meaning to call the name of Santa Anna very emShe met the eye, with smiles soft and sincere, phatically-pronounce it, “Santa-ranna." He would And press'd again the long-divided hand!

certainly call my fourth daughter, “Amelia-r-Anne.” And only wonder'd why she e'er did roam

But the sin of omission is what we are most frequently From her heart's only paradise-her home!

guilty of, towards this letter r. Many words of which

it is a lawful and efficient member, are so pronounced, Slowly the vessel reach'd its destin'd place,

that its presence never could be suspected from the And many a yearning heart awaited there,

sound alone. Thus, more, before, horse,-are called moe, To welcome with a sister's warm embrace

befoe, hawce. And so in many other instances. The gentle wanderer, so young and fair:

Who has not laughed over Major Jack Downing's To print again the warm kiss on her brow

grotesque assemblage of Yankee-isms? We Virginians, To hear once more her tongue's glad music flow.

are apt to think our dialect singularly pure: but whoWith joy to greet her, they were first on board ever will mingle freely, for a month, with all classes of Eager was every heart, and bright each eye:

our people, and vigilantly watch for, and carefully note And first they sought their lov'd one and ador'd,

down their inaccuracies of language, (including phrase. With sweet anticipation's stream raised high.

ology, syntax, and pronunciation); will find them not But, ah! no bounding step nor gleesome tongue

less numerous, or less glaring, than those which so raise Burst forth—but dark despair on every face was hung! our mirth or spleen, in our steady brethren "down-East.”

The seeming odiousness of such a quest after trivial The pale and silent form, alas! was there

imperfections, would vanish, if the seeker's aim were to All, all that gave it light and life had fled;

inculcate a lesson of charity, by showing us, whilst we Yet smiles all heavenly ting'd her cheek so fair, cry out against the mote in our brother's eye, that we

And seem'd to whisper that she was not dead! have at least as thumping a one in our own. In truth, But all, alas! were gone-the eye so mild and bright, however, there are even stronger reasons why impuriThe mind so rich in gems of thought and light ! ties of speech should be hunted out; especially, those,

(called provincialisms) which pervade only this or that With sad and aching hearts they made her grave

portion of our wide country; and mark, disadvantageWhere she in childhood stray'd--by a fair stream-

ously in each other's eyes, the people inhabiting those Where long the light and melancholy wave

several portions. Such little diversities are often the Will murmur sweet the “music of her name.”

first and rankest food for local prejudices: at any rate, Where maids will gather oft at evening's gloom,

they are powerful auxiliaries to clashing interests and And deck with flowers fair and bright her early tomb! warring passions, in making discord more fierce, bloody,

and unappeasable. As party names are useful, in girWinchester, Va.

ing a bodily form at which faction may hurl its missiles, * The Rev. W. Colton, in his “Visit to Constantinople," has and thus facilitating the indulgence of men's natural given a sweet and touching sketch of the death of Miss Harriet tendency to hate and revile each other,—so, differences Patterson, daughter of Commodore Patterson.

of language are hostile badges, which guide, concentrate

E. M, H.

and inflame local animosity; and, far more than “moun. The bar, the hustings, and the parlor, afford many tains interposed,"

such examples of elegance; "like orient pearls,” and

so forth. I have supplied only the thread upon which " Make enemies of nations, who had else

they are strung. Like kindred drops, been mingled into one."

BY JOHN C. M'CABE.

What made France and England "natural enemies;" so that their blood has dyed every sea, and fattened the soil of every continent, in both hemispheres, through a war of centuries? Not the “narrow frith” that divided

THE MEMORY OF MY MOTHER. them: not any real conflict of interests—for an enlightened political economy (thank Heaven!) is now beginning to show that apparently diverse interests are really There is a memory as pure as angels' thoughts on high, sources of harmony; links of mutual dependence and Which starts warm drops from feeling's fount, and mutual affection. No! it was the Frenchman's “parley wakes a mournful sigh; roo-ing” with so many bows and shrugs; and John It comes so sadly sweet e'en now across my swelling Bull's hissing, guttural, and rugged sentences, graced so soul, plenteously with “G—d d-ns.” The efficacy of this That every baser feeling sinks before its soft control. cause of international hatred was happily indicated by the English sailor, who, after a sojourn in some French It comes when sunset's rosy beam burns on the western town, said to a messmate, in a tone of the sincerest

wave; contempt,—“Now Jack, did you ever see such d-It comes when star-lit dews are bright upon the grassfools as these Mounseers? Why, they don't know how

grown grave; to talk! They call a hat, a “cuoprer' (chapeau), 'and It poises on its snow-white wing, like meek-eyed wanda cabbage, a shoe?(chou)! Difference of mere dialect

’ring dove,is a greater cause of enmity than total difference of Oh, 'tis the holy memory of a fond Mother's love! language: partly, perhaps, because in the former case It bids me think of life's young morn, e'er sorrow's tears every gibe, every invective, is fully understood, and had stain'd lodges its venom effectually in the heart; partly, be My now wan cheek, or this sad heart by treachery had cause such near similarity of language implies relation been pain'd; ship, and relations, when at variance, are always the And oh! how recollection thrills at thoughts of childish bitterest enemies; partly, for the same reason that slight bliss, differences commonly occasion the greatest animosities-When every ill would melt away beneath a Mother's that a heretic is deemed worse than an infidel, and a

kiss. member of an opposite party in our own country, is more hated than a foreign enemy. Some negroes of It bids me turn to that sweet hour when first, a child, I Africa used to bear inextinguishable hatred towards the

knelt, monkey, because of his resemblance to themselves. They And, taught by her, I lisp'd a prayer,-tho' young, e'en

then I felt thought he meant to mimic them. Possibly, our wrath at a slight difference from ourselves, is heightened by our When her soft voice rose up with mine to Heaven's thinking that the other party, being so nearly right, is

high courts above, wilful and obstinate in refusing to be entirely right.

How holy and how pure must be a virtuous Mother's

love. But whither am I rambling? I set out only to indicate a few errors in the Virginia dialect. To illustrate It calls the parting hour back when from my childhood's these yet further, let us embody them in part of a home speech, which, without doing much violence to fact, we I sped to seek a name 'mongst men 'neath science's may suppose to have been made by a member of Con

classic dome; gress to his constituents, in giving them “an account of When that fond Mother blest her boy, and kiss'd his his stewardship,” on a county-court-day.

then smooth brow“While this terrubble to-do was making, fellow O, mocking vision of the past, how beautiful e'en now! cittuzzy'ns,—I done all that was possubble under existing circumstances, to make the gentleman show his Ilaunch'd my bark on Folly's sea ; on Dissipation's coast,

While Passion's breakers round me beat, had very nigh hand, and develop the insiduous game he was playing.

been lost; I went to the Indiana-r-and Ohio members, and asked them to tell me, if they could, what he meant by his But ’mid the tempest of the soul one beauteous star movemunt ?—whether he was for kindling the Missourer

above,

Came bursting through the mental gloom, it was a question again, and giving the go-by to the sollum agree

Mother's love. mount that the north and south had come to, on that subject? As to his making the President a stalking-hawce I sought again my Father's halls—no sound of joy was for his insiduous schemes, and just putting a great man's there; name in place of argumunt, I told him he had done I heard my Father's deep full voice in holy fervent that once befoe, but he would never do it any moe; at prayerany rates, not to me. For I was too old a bird to be Cold funeral lights around the room their awful brightcaught trcice with the same chaff. Yes, fellow cittuzz'ns! ness shed, I would be a subject of the Grand Seinor, or of I wildly shriek'd my Mother's name—my Mother! she Santa-r-Anna himself, befoe,” &c. &c.

was dead.

« 上一頁繼續 »