Слике страница
PDF
ePub

forever, just as much as if you were white. Only think of it, Topsy! you can be one of those spirits bright, Uncle Tom sings about.”

“0, dear Miss Eva, dear Miss Eva !” said the child; “I will try; I never did care nothin' about it before.

St. Clare, at this instant, dropped the curtain. It puts me in mind of mother,” he said to Miss Ophelia. “ It is true what she told me; if we want to give sight to the blind, we must be willing to do as Christ did-call them to us, and put our hands on them.

“I've always had a prejudice against negroes,” said Miss Ophelia, “and it's a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but I didn't think she knew it.”

“ Trust any child to find that out,” said St. Clare; "there's no keeping it from them. But I believe that all the trying in the world to benefit a child, and all the substantial favors you can do them, will never excite one emotion of gratitude, while that feel. ing of repugnance remains in the heart—it's a queer kind of a fact-but so it is."

“I don't know how I can help it,” said Miss Ophelia ; “they are disagreeable to me, this child in particular-how can I help feeling so ?”

“Eva does, it seems.”

“Well, she's so loving! After all, though, she's no more than Christ-like,” said Miss Ophelia; “I wish I were like her. She

ght teach me a lesson.”

“ It wouldn't be the first time a little child has been used in instruct an old disciple, if it were so," said St. Clare.

IRVING.

WASHINGTON IRVING was born April 3, 1783, in the city of New York. Though his schooling was only ordinary, yet influenced by the literary examples of his elder brothers and the companionship of the best old English authors, especially Chaucer and Spenser, he early attained that culture in taste, style, thought, and fancy, which often the curriculum of a college, faithfully pursued, fails to impart. As early as his sixteenth year, Irving commenced the study of the law, and, although seven years afterwards he was admitted to the bar, yet he never entered on its practice, preferring the more congenial profession of letters.

In 1802 we find him, under the droll mask of Jonathan Oldstyle, contributing articles on the theatres, city manners, and kindred topics to the Morning Chronicle, a paper conducted by his brother, Dr. Peter Irving. But experiencing symptoms of ill health, and impelled, doubtless, by a desire for the pleasure and profit of foreign travel, he visited, in 1804, the South of Europe, making the tour of France, Italy, Switzerland, and Holland.

The circumstance of meeting the artist Washington Allston, his fellow countryman, at Rome, and of visiting with him tlie world-renowned art-treasures of the city, almost de.. termined Irving to become a painter; for which profession, it is reported, he had no small natural capacity. A return home, however, after a two years' absence, decided the matter in favor of literature; for the next year, in company with Paulding and his brother William, he began, and con tinued through twenty numbers, the publication of Silma. gundi; or, The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Lang. staff, Esq., and others.

Following the above work at an interval of two years (1809), appeared Knickerbocker's History of New York, the purport of which is set forth by the author in the following unique title: A History of New York, from the Beginning of the world to the End of the Dutch Dynasty : containing, among many surprising and curious matters, the unutterable ponderings of Walter the Doubter, the disastrous projects of William the Testy, and the chivalric achievements of Peter the Headstrong; the three Dutch Governors of New Amsterdam; being the only authentic history of the times that ever hath been or ever will be published. By Diedrich Knickerbocker.

The style of Knickerbocker is of great felicity. There is just enough flavor of English classical reading to give the riarit, original material, the highest gusto. The descriptions of nature and manners are occasionally very happy in a serious way, and the satire is, much of it, of that universal character which will bear transplantation to wider scenes and interests. The laughter-compelling humor is irresistible, and we may readily believe the story of that arch wag himself, Judge Brackenridge, exploding over a copy of the work, which he had smuggled with him to the bench.”*

It was to this work—“the most elaborate piece of humor in our literature”—that Irving owed his fortunate introduction to Sir Walter Scott. We subjoin the following chapter, necessarily abridged, from this work:

CHAPTER VIII.

Containing the most horrible Battle ever recorded in Poetry or Prose;

with the admirable Exploits of Peter the Headstrong. Now had the Dutchmen snatched a huge repast, and finding themselves wonderfully encouraged and animated thereby, prepared to take the field. Expectation, says the writer of the Stuyvesant manuscript -expectation now stood on stilts. The world forgot to turn round, or rather stood still, that it might witness the affray. The eyes of all mankind, as usual in such fases, were turned upon Fort Christina.

like little man in a crowd at a puppet-show, scampered about the heavens, popping his head here and there, and andeavoring to get a peep between the unmannerly clouds that

* Duyckinck's Cyclopædia of American Literature.

The sun,

obtruded themselves in his way. The historians filled their ink. horns; the poets went without their dinners, either that they might buy paper and goose-quills, or because they could not get anything to eat. Antiquity scowled sulkily out of its grave, to see itself outdone,-while even Posterity stood mute, gazing in gaping ecstasy of retrospection on the eventsul field.

And now the mighty chieftains marshaled out their hosts. Here stood stout Risingh, firm as a thousand rocks,-incrusted with stockades, and intrenched to the chin in mud batteries. His valiant soldiery lined the breastworks in grim array, each having his mustachios fiercely greased, and his hair pomatumed back, and queued so stiffly, that he grinned above the ramparts like a grisly death's-head.

There came on the intrepid Peter,--his brows knit, his teeth set, his fists clenched, almost breathing forth volumes of smoke, so fierce was the fire that raged within his bosom. His faithful squire Van Corlear trudged valiantly at his heels, with his trumpet gorgeously bedecked with red and yellow ribbons, the remembrances of his fair mistresses at the Manhattoes. Then lugging out his trusty sabre, Peter brandished it three times over his head, ordered Van Corlear to sound a charge, and shouting the words“ St. Nicholas and the Manhattoes !" courageously dashed forward. His warlike followers, who had employed the interval in lighting their pipes, instantly stuck them into their mouths, gave a furious puff, and charged gallantly under cover of the smoke.

The Swedish garrison, ordered by the cunning Risingh not to fire until they could distinguish the whites of their assailants' eyes,

stood in horrid silence on the covert-way, until the eager Dutchmen had ascended the glacis. Then did they pour into them such a tremendous volley, that the very hills quaked around, insomuch that certain springs burst forth from their sides, which continue to run into the present day. Not a Dutchinan but would have bitten the dust beneath that dreadful fire, had not the protecting Minerva kindly taken care that the Swedes should, one and all, observe their usual custom of shutting their eyes and turning away their heads at the moment of discharge. The Swedes followed up their fire by leaping the counterscarp, and falling tooth and nail upon the foe with furious vutcries.

And now commenced the horrid din, the desperate struggle, the maddening ferocity, the frantic desperation, the confusion and

self-abandonment of war. Dutchman and Swede commingled tugged, panted, and blowed. The heavens were darkened with: a tempest of missiles. Bang! went the guns; whack! went the broadswords; thump! went the cudgels; crash! went the musketstocks; blows, kicks, cuffs, scratches, black eyes and bloody nose: swelling the horrors

the scene.

Thick thwack, cut and back nelterskelter, higgledypiggledy, hurlyburly, head-over-heels, rough-and-tumble! Dunder and blixum! swore the Dutchmen; splitter and splutter! cried the Swedes.

Storm the works! shouted Hardkoppig Peter. Fire the mine! roared stout Risingh. Tanta-rar-ra-ra! twanged the trumpet of Antony Van Corlear;—until all voice and sound became unin- , telligible,-grunts of pain, yells of fury, and shouts of triumph mingling in one hideous clamor. The earth shook as if struck with a paralytic stroke; trees shrunk aghast and withered at the sight; rocks burrowed in the ground like rabbits; and even Christina creek ran from its course, and ran up a hill in breathless terror!

Just at this juncture a vast and dense column of sinoke was seen slowly rolling toward the scene of battle. The combatants paused for a moment, gazing in mute astonishment, until the wind, dispelling the murky cloud, revealed the flaunting banner of Michael Paw, the Patroon of Communipaw. That valiant chieftain came fearlessly on at the head of a phalanx of oyster: fed Pavonians and a corps de reserve of the Van Arsdales and Var Bummels, who had remained behind to digest the enormous dinner they had eaten.

And now the deities who watched over the fortunes of the Neilerlanders, having unthinkingly left the field, and stepped into a neighboring tavern to refresh themselves with a pot of beer, a direful catastrophe had wellnigh ensued. Scarce had the myrmidons of Michael Paw attained the front of battlo, when the Swedes, instructed by the cunning Risingh, leveled a shower of blows full at their tobacco-pipes. Astounded at this assault, and dismayed at the havoc of their pipes, these ponderous warriors gave way, and like a drove of frightened ele. phants broke through the ranks of their own army.

The little Hoppers were borne down in the surge; the sacred banner emblazoned with the gigantic oyster of Communipaw was trampled in the dirt; on blundered and thundered the heavyhodied fugitives, the Swedes pressing on their rear and applying

« ПретходнаНастави »