Page images
PDF
EPUB

what happened between him and the president, the vice-president, Mr. Clay, Calhoun, Biddle, and other distinguished citizens ; and, again, in the singular mode which the author has chosen for bringing forth his views and arguments, as Jack Downing pretends to belong to the party of the president, while the real author is a member of that party which thinks that the president has wantonly disenchanted the constitution, as Napoleon said of Dupont's defeat of Baylen :Il a désenchanté l'armée."

They will be a curiosity to the philologist some hundred years hence, when the true Yankee idiom will have given way, as all provincial languages in time do ; and in fact they are now of interest to the student, unacquainted with the peculiar expressions of New England, ---and a little glossary ought to be attached to them when they are collected together.'--The Stranger in America, vol. i. pp. 253-256. This hint has not been taken by the editor of the copy now before us,—so we inust make the best we can of the Major's elegant idiom. One beauty that constantly occurs at first puzzled us,but in the book called · New England by one of her Sons,' we since found · kind-of' used in the same fashion with the kinder' of Downing; the other odd phrases of most frequent recurrence, such as stumped, raft of fellows, &c. seem to be derived either from the life of the wood-clearing farmer, or from the steamboat experiences of the Yankee in general. In the Preface, the Major modestly says of himself,I

опу wish I had gone to school a leetle more when I was a boyif I had, my letters now would make folks crawl all over: but if I had been to school all my lifetime, I know I never could be able to write more honestly than I have. I am sometimes puzzled most plaguily to git words to tell jest exactly what I think, and what I know; and when I git ’em, I don't know exactly how to spell 'em—but so long as I git the sound, I'll let other folks git the sense on't-pretty much as our old friend down to Salem, who bilt a big ship to go to China-he called her the Asha.Now there is sich a thing as folks knowin too much: all the larned ones was puzzled to know who “ Asha" was ; and they never would know to this day what it ment, if the owner of the ship hadn't telld 'em that China was in Asha.

" Oh! ah!" says the larned folks, “ we see now—but that ain't the way to spell it." “ What,” says he, " if A-s-h-a don't spell Asha, what on earth does it spell?" And that stump'd 'em.— Introd. p. 2.

He thus announces his truly patriotic object in his authorship; with a caution to bis coutrymen, to which we humbly beg the attention of ours :

• If folks will ony keep an eye to what I tell 'em, things will go strait enuff: but that won't be till the people agree to vote for no man to any office unless he has got a good character, and is capable to do all the duties honestly and well, and according to law--but if the

people

6

- be

people put scamps in office, jest because they are party-men, things will go on worse and worse, and there won't be no laws but jest such laws as will keep these very scamps in their offices.'—Ibid., p. 5.

In June, 1833, the Major accompanies General Jackson in a grand progress through New England, beating up in all quarters for recruits to help the worthy President in the approaching campaign against the Bank. The visit to the author's own dear native Downingville is described with special gusto and emphasis :

• I went full drive down to the meetin-house, and got hold of the rope, and pull’d away like smoke, and made the old bell turn clean over, The folks come up thick enough then to see what was to pay, and filled the old tabernacle chock full, and there was more outside than you could count. Now," says I, “ I spose you think there's going to be preaching here to-day, but that is not the business. The Gineral is comin." That was enough—" Now,” says I, spry. I tell’d the Gineral last winter he'd see nothing till he

got

down here, and if we don't make him stare then there's no snakes.—[Subintellige “in Virginia.”] Where's Captain Finny ?" says I. * Here I be,” says he ; and there he was, sure enough: the crittur had just come out of his bush-pasture, and had his bush-hook with him. Says I, “Captain Finny, you are to be the marshal of the day.” Upon that he jumps right on eend. “Now,” says I, “ where is' Seth Sprague, the schoolmaster ?” Here I be," says he; and there he stood with his pitch-pipe up in the gallery, just as if I was going to give out the salm for him. You just pocket your pitch-pipe," says I, “Seth, and brush up your larnin, for we have pitched on you to write the address.” ---" Why, Major," says Zekiel Bigelow, “ I thought I was to do that, and I've got one already.” “But,” says I, “ you don't know nothing about Latin ; the Gineral can't stomack anything now without it's got Latin in it, ever since they made a Doctor on him down there to Cambridge t'other day ; but howsever,” says I, "you shall give the address after all, only just let Seth stick a little Hog-Latin into it here and there. And now,” says I, “all on you be spry, and don't stop stirrin till the pudden's done." Then they begun to hunt for hats, and down the gallery-stairs they went. And if ther'd been forty thanksgivens and independence days comin in a string, I don't believe there could be more racket than there was in Downingville that afternoon and night.

* By ten o'clock next morning all was ready. I had 'em all stationed, and I went out and come back three or four times across the brook by the potash, to try 'em. I got a white hat on, and shag-bark stick, put some flour on my head, and got on to my sorrel horse, and looked just as much like the old gentleman as I could. Arter tryin them two or three times I got 'em all as limber as a withe, and the last time I tried 'em you've no idee, it went off just as slick as ile.

" " Now,” says I," tenshion the hull! Stand at ease till you see me agin;" and then I streaked it down to old Miss Crane's ta

yern,

what happened between him and the president, the vice-president, Mr. Clay, Calhoun, Biddle, and other distinguished citizens; and, again, in the singular mode which the author has chosen for bringing forth his views and arguments, as Jack Downing pretends to belong to the party of the president, while the real author is a member of that party which thinks that the president has wantonly disenchanted the constitution, as Napoleon said of Dupont's defeat of Baylen :Il a désenchanté l'armée." . . . They will be a curiosity to the philologist some hundred years hence, when the true Yankee idiom will have given way, as all provincial languages in time do ; and in fact they are now of interest to the student, unacquainted with the peculiar expressions of New England, -and a little glossary ought to be attached to them when they are collected together.'— The Stranger in America, vol. i. pp. 253-256. This hint has not been taken by the editor of the copy now before us,—so we inust make the best we can of the Major's elegant idiom. One beauty that constantly occurs at first puzzled us,but in the book called “New England by one of her Sons,' we since found kind-of' used in the same fashion with the kinder' of Downing; the other odd phrases of most frequent recurrence, such as stumped, raft of fellows, &c. seem to be derived either from the life of the wood-clearing farmer, or from the steamboat experiences of the Yankee in general.

In the Preface, the Major modestly says of himself,

'I ony wish I had gone to school a leetle more when I was a boyif I had, my letters now would make folks crawl all over: but if I had been to school all my lifetime, I know I never could be able to write more honestly than I have. I am sometimes puzzled most plaguily to git words to tell jest exactly what I think, and what I know; and when I git 'em, I don't know exactly how to spell 'em—but so long as I git the sound, I'll let other folks git the sense on't-pretty much as our old friend down to Salem, who bilt a big ship to go to China—he called her the Asha.Now there is sich a thing as folks knowin too much : all the larned ones was puzzled to know who “ Ashawas ; and they never would know to this day what it ment, if the owner of the ship hadn't telld 'em that China was in Asha. " Oh! ah !" says the larned folks,“ we see now, but that ain't the way to spell it." “ What,” says he, “ if A-s-h-a don't spell Asha, what on earth does it spell ?" And that stump'd 'em.- Introd. p. 2.

He thus announces his truly patriotic object in his authorship; with a caution to bis coutrymen, to which we humbly beg the attention of ours :

• If folks will ony keep an eye to what I tell 'em, things will go strait enuff: but that won't be till the people agree to vote for no man to any office unless he has got a good character, and is capable to do all the duties honestly and well, and according to law--but if the people put scamps in office, jest because they are party-men, things will go on worse and worse, and there won't be no laws but jest such laws as will keep these very scumps in their offices.'— Ibid., p. 5.

people

In June, 1833, the Major accompanies General Jackson in a grand progress through New England, beating up in all quarters for recruits to help the worthy President in the approaching campaign against The Bank. The visit to the author's own dear native Downingville is described with special gusto and emphasis :

• I went full drive down to the meetin-house, and got hold of the rope, and pull’d away like smoke, and made the old bell turn clean over. The folks come up thick enough then to see what was to pay, and filled the old tabernacle chock full, and there was more outside than you could count. “Now," says I, “ I spose you think there's going to be preaching here to-day, but that is not the business. The Gineral is comin.” That was enough—“ Now,” says I, “ be spry. I tell’d the Gineral last winter he'd see nothing till he got down here, and if we don't make him stare then there's no snakes.—[Subintellige “in Virginia."] Where's Captain Finny ?" says I.

Here I be,” says he ; and there he was, sure enough the crittur had just come out of his bush-pasture, and had his bush-hook with him. Says 1, “Captain Finny, you are to be the marshal of the day.” Upon that he jumps right on eend. “Now,” says I, “ where is Seth Sprague, the schoolmaster ?” “ Here I be,” says he; and there he stood with his pitch-pipe up in the gallery, just as if I was going to give out the salm for him. “ You just pocket your pitch-pipe,” says I, “ Seth, and brush up your larnin, for we have pitched on you to write the address.”

_" Why, Major," says Zekiel Bigelow, " I thought I was to do that, and I've got one already.” “But,” says I, “ you don't know nothing about Latin ; the Gineral can't stomack anything now without it's got Latin in it, ever since they made a Doctor on him down there to Cambridge t'other day ; but howsever,” says I, “

you shall give the address after all, only just let Seth stick a little Hog-Latin into it here and there. And now,” says I, “all on you be spry, and don't stop stirrin till the pudden's done.” Then they begun to hunt for hats, and down the gallery-stairs they went. And if ther'd been forty thanksgivens and independence days comin in a string, I don't believe there could be more racket than there was in Downingville that afternoon and night.

• By ten o'clock next morning all was ready. I had 'em all stationed, and I went out and come back three or four times across the brook by the potash, to try 'em. I got a white hat on, and shag-bark stick, put some flour on my head, and got on to my sorrel horse, and looked just as much like the old gentleman as I could. Arter tryin them two or three times I got 'em all as limber as a withe, and the last time I tried 'em you've no idee, it went off just as slick as ile.

" " Now," says I,“ tenshion the hull! Stand at ease till you see me agin ;” and then I streaked it down to old Miss Crane's ta

ܪ

vern, about two miles off, and waited till the Gineral come along; and afore I had mixed a second glass of switchel up they came, and the Gineral looked as chirk and lively as a skipper." Now,” says !, “ Gineral, we are going right into Downingville, and no man here is to give any orders but myself,” and I said this loud enough for Mr. Van Buren and Governor Woodbury and all on 'em to hear me, and they were all as hush arter that as cows in a clover-lot. Then we all mounted and on we went-I and the Gineral a leetle a-head on 'em.

• Jist as we got on the nole on tother side the brook, we come in sight of Downing ville. The Gineral riz right up in his stirrups, and pointed with his hickory, and says he, “ Major, that's Downing ville." Says I, “ That's true enuf, and I should like to hear any one say it a'nt,” says I, “ for the sight on't makes me crawl all over, and when. ever I hear any one say one word ayin it, I feel as tho' I could take him, as I have done streaked snakes, by the tail, and snap his head off.” “Why,” says the Gineral, “ I knew that was Downingville as soon as my eye caught a glimpse on't. I'd go,'' says he, Major, east of sun-rise any day to see sich a place.' The Gineral was tickled to pieces, and I thought I should go myself right through my shirt-collar-for, you see, the Gineral never see sich a sight afore. Seth Sprague had put the children all on the school-house-you couldn't see an atom of the roof-with green boughs, and singing a set piece he had made; and when I and the Gineral passed by they made it all ring agin, I tell you ; whether it was his facing the sun or what, but he looked as if he was e’eny jist a going to cry (for he is a mazin tender-hearted crittur). Jist then Sargent Joel, who had charge of the field-piece in front of the meetin-hous, touched her off; and didn't she speak! This composed the Gineral in a minute-says

Major, I shouldn't want nothing better than a dozen of them guns to change the boundary-line along here jest to suit you."-PP18–22.

Then follows a report of Seth Sprague's harangue and the President's

response :· Here the Gineral was goin

stop, but says I in his ear, “You must given 'em a little Latin, Doctor.' Here he off hat agin—" E pluribus unum," says he, “ sine qua non." “ That'll do, Gineral," says I; and then we turn’d to, and shook all the folks round till dinner time, and then we made the bake beans and salt pork fly, and the cider too, I tell you.'

The learned general appears to still greater advantage in the evening festivities of the drawing-room: the beauty and fashion of Downingville are all of course on the qui vive for his Excellency's notice :

Miss Willoby, the deacon's eldest darter, is sprucin up for it. She is rather too old to be handsome, but she is a keen crittur. The Gineral and Mr. Van Buren both talk about her considerable. If the Gineral don't keep a sharp look out, Mr. Van Buren will go clean

he, "

a-head

« PreviousContinue »