The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville,
by Thomas Chandler Haliburton.
From the 1871 edition.
The name "Sam Slick" has passed into popular use as standing for a
somewhat conventional Yankee, in whom sharpness and verdancy are
combined in curious proportions; but the book which gave rise to
the name has long been out of print. It is now revived, under the
impression that the reading public will have an interest in seeing
a work which, more probably than any other one book, served to fix
the prevailing idea of the Yankee character. However true or false
the impression it created, the qualities which rendered it popular
a generation ago remain, in a shrewdness of observation, a fund of
anecdote and racy adventure, a quaintness of expression, and keen
mother wit. In no other work of literature is there preserved so
large a collection of idiomatic phrases, words, and similes,—whole
stories in themselves and pictures of society at the time, which grow
more interesting, the more historic they become.
The keen peddler comes sharply forward from a background of
Provincial shiftlessness and dullness, and it is a mark of the
geniality of the book that, although it seems to have had its origin
in a desire on the part of its author to goad the Provinces into
energy and alertness, the local questions and politics discussed give
a flavour to the narrative without limiting the reader's interest.
One does not need to be deeply concerned in Nova Scotia prosperity,
nor versed in the turnings of petty politics, to take a lively
pleasure in the sharp thrusts which the author, under shield of the
Clockmaker's wit, gives at stupidity and narrowness. The two sides
of the question involved are as little a matter of concern to the
general reader as the opposing factions of York and Lancaster.
No doubt the marked contrast between the neighbouring people of
Nova Scotia and New England was quickly discerned by so good an
observer as the author proved himself to be, while his national and
partisan judgments made his characterization of the Yankee to be a
double-edged sword, that cut with equal keenness the Colonist and the
Democrat. While he has no liking for the United States politically,
he is very glad to make their enterprise and industry put to shame
the slow wits of his countrymen; and the quiet satire of United
States institutions and character which he displays by letting Slick
run to the end of his rope is curiously mingled with the contempt
which he lets the same character express for Nova Scotians, and in
which it is plain he himself joins.
Thomas Chandler Haliburton was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia, in 1796,
was educated at King's College, and admitted to the bar in 1820. He
entered political life shortly after, and was elected member of the
House of Assembly. In 1829 he was appointed Chief Justice of the
Court of Common Pleas, and in 1840 was made Judge of the Supreme
Court. He resigned in 1842, and went to England to reside, where,
in 1859, he was elected member of Parliament for the Borough of
Launceston, and at the dissolution of Parliament in 1865 he declined
reelection on the score of infirm health. He died at Isleworth in
July of the same year. His party politics were of the old Tory
school, and he held rigidly by them, sharing the common experience of
colonial partisans, who, on returning to the mother country, are very
apt to set a higher value on their party principles than those who
have always remained at home.
The first appearance of his "Clockmaker" was in the form of a
series of letters to the "Nova Scotian" newspaper, in 1835. The
contributions were collected into the present volume in 1837, and
were eagerly read, both in America and in England, the wit of the
book making it equally enjoyable on both sides of the water, while
its pointed reflections raised a good deal of angry discussion also.
Perhaps the most vehement attack which his writings received from the
side of purely literary criticism was a review by C. C. Felton in the
"North American Review," in which the critic spoke in tones of great
disgust at the entire conception and execution of the character of
Sam Slick. Quite possibly some of Professor Felton's severity drew
its strength from a personal regard for Mr. Everett, who figures
rather poorly in Judge Haliburton's pages. There was so little,
however, of discriminating criticism at that time by American
writers, that it is not easy to determine just how the book was
measured by our countrymen. Probably it was hardly looked upon as
literature by the scholar, and the ordinary reader did not mar his
pleasure in the fun by looking at it too critically.
The vein was worked by the author with less success in "The Attache,
or Sam Slick in England," where the violent improbability of the
plan, involving an offensive contrast between the English and
American characters, leaves the really clever parts of the book
less attractive. In addition to these Judge Haliburton published
several volumes bearing upon colonial manners and history: "Bubbles
of Canada;" "The Old Judge, or Life in a Colony;" "Historical and
Statistical account of Nova Scotia;" "Rule and Misrule of the English
in America;" "Letters to Lord Durham." His more strictly humourous
writings include "Nature and Human Nature;" "Wise Saws;" "The Letter
Bag of the Great Western."
I. The Trotting Horse
II. The Clockmaker
III. The Silent Girls
IV. Conversations at the River Philip
V. Justice Pettifog
VII. Go Ahead
VIII. The Preacher that Wandered from His Text
XI. Yankee Eating and Horse Feeding
X. The Road to a Woman's Heart—The Broken Heart
XI. Cumberland Oysters Produce Melancholy Forebodings
XII. The American Eagle
XIII. The Clockmaker's Opinion of Halifax
XIV. Sayings and Doings in Cumberland
XV. The Dancing Master Abroad
XVI. Mr. Slick's Opinion of the British
XVII. A Yankee Handle for a Halifax Blade
XVIII. The Grahamite and the Irish Pilot
XIX. The Clockmaker Quilts a Bluenose
XX. Sister Sall's Courtship
XXI. Setting up for Governor
XXII. A Cure for Conceit
XXIII. The Blowin' Time
XXIV. Father John O'Shaughnessy
XXV. Taming a Shrew
XXVI. The Minister's Horn Mug
XXVII. The White Nigger
XXVIII. Fire in the Dairy
XXIX. A Body Without a Head
XXX. A Tale of Bunker's Hill
XXXI. Gulling a Bluenose
XXXII. Too many Irons in the Fire
XXXIII. Windsor and the Far West
[After these sketches had gone through the press, and were ready for
the binder, we sent Mr. Slick a copy; and shortly afterwards received
from him the following letter, which characteristic communication we
To MR. HOWE,
Sir—I received your letter, and note its contents; I ain't over half
pleased, I tell you; I think I have been used scandalous, that's a
fact. It warn't the part of a gentleman for to go and pump me arter
that fashion and then go right off and blart it out in print. It was
a nasty dirty mean action, and I don't thank you nor the Squire a
bit for it. It will be more nor a thousand dollars out of my pocket.
There's an eend to the clock trade now, and a pretty kettle of fish
I've made of it, havn't I? I shall never hear the last on it, and
what am I to say when I go back to the States? I'll take my oath
I never said one half the stuff he has set down there; and as for
that long lochrum about Mr. Everett, and the Hon. Alden Gobble, and
Minister, there ain't a word of truth in it from beginnin' to eend.
If ever I come near hand to him agin, I'll larn him—but never mind,
I say nothin'. Now there's one thing I don't cleverly understand. If
this here book is my "Sayin's and Doin's," how comes it your'n or the
Squire's either? If my thoughts and notions are my own, how can they
be any other folks's? According to my idee you have no more right to
take them, than you have to take my clocks without payin' for 'em. A
man that would be guilty of such an action is no gentleman, that's
flat, and if you don't like it, you may lump it—for I don't vally
him, nor you neither, nor are a Bluenose that ever stepped in shoe
leather the matter of a pin's head. I don't know as ever I felt so
ugly afore since I was raised; why didn't he put his name to it, as
well as mine? When an article hain't the maker's name and factory on
it, it shows it's a cheat, and he's ashamed to own it. If I'm to have
the name I'll have the game, or I'll know the cause why, that's a
fact. Now folks say you are a considerable of a candid man, and right
up and down in your dealins, and do things above board, handsum—at
least so I've hearn tell. That's what I like; I love to deal with
such folks. Now spose you make me an offer? You'll find me not very
difficult to trade with, and I don't know but I might put off more
than half of the books myself, tu. I'll tell you how I'd work it.
I'd say, "Here's a book they've namesaked arter me, Sam Slick the
Clockmaker, but it ain't mine, and I can't altogether jist say
rightly whose it is. Some say it's the General's, and some say it's
the Bishop's, and some say it's Howe himself; but I ain't availed who
it is. It's a wise child that knows its own father. It wipes up the
Bluenoses considerable hard, and don't let off the Yankees so very
easy neither, but it's generally allowed to be about the prettiest
book ever writ in this country; and although it ain't altogether
jist gospel what's in it, there's some pretty home truths in it,
that's a fact. Whoever wrote it must be a funny feller, too, that's
sartin; for there are some queer stories in it that no soul could
help larfin' at, that's a fact. It's about the wittiest book I ever
seed. It's nearly all sold off, but jist a few copies I've kept for
my old customers. The price is just 5s. 6d. but I'll let you have it
for 5s. because you'll not get another chance to have one." Always
ax a sixpence more than the price, and then bate it, and when Bluenose
hears that, he thinks he's got a bargain, and bites directly. I never
see one on 'em yet that didn't fall right into the trap.
Yes, make me an offer, and you and I will trade, I think. But fair
play's a jewel, and I must say I feel riled and kinder sore. I hain't
been used handsum atween you two, and it don't seem to me that I had
ought to be made a fool on in that book, arter that fashion, for
folks to laugh at, and then be sheered out of the spec. If I am,
somebody had better look out for squalls, I tell you. I'm as easy
as an old glove, but a glove ain't an old shoe to be trod on, and
I think a certain person will find that out afore he is six months
older, or else I'm mistakened, that's all. Hopin' to hear from you
soon, I remain yours to command,
Pugnose's Inn, River Philip, Dec. 25, 1836.
P.S. I see in the last page it is writ, that the Squire is to take
another journey round the Shore, and back to Halifax with me next
Spring. Well, I did agree with him, to drive him round the coast, but
don't you mind—we'll understand each other, I guess, afore we start.
I consait he'll rise considerable airly in the mornin', afore he
catches me asleep agin. I'll be wide awake for him next hitch, that's
a fact. I'd a gin a thousand dollars if he had only used Campbell's
name instead of mine; for he was a most an almighty villain, and
cheated a proper raft of folks, and then shipped himself off to
Botany Bay, for fear folks would transport him there; you couldn't
rub out Slick, and put in Campbell, could you? that's a good feller;
if you would I'd make it worth your while, you may depend.
The Trotting Horse.
I was always well mounted; I am fond of a horse, and always piqued
myself on having the fastest trotter in the Province. I have made no
great progress in the world; I feel doubly, therefore, the pleasure
of not being surpassed on the road. I never feel so well or so
cheerful as on horseback, for there is something exhilirating in
quick motion; and, old as I am, I feel a pleasure in making any
person whom I meet on the way put his horse to the full gallop, to
keep pace with my trotter. Poor Ethiope! you recollect him, how he
was wont to lay back his ears on his arched neck, and push away from
all competition. He is done, poor fellow! the spavin spoiled his
speed, and he now roams at large upon "my farm at Truro." Mohawk
never failed me till this summer.
I pride myself—you may laugh at such childish weakness in a man
of my age—but still, I pride myself in taking the concert out of
coxcombs I meet on the road, and on the ease with which I can leave
a fool behind, whose nonsense disturbs my solitary musings.
On my last journey to Fort Lawrence, as the beautiful view of
Colchester had just opened upon me, and as I was contemplating its
richness and exquisite scenery, a tall, thin man, with hollow cheeks
and bright, twinkling black eyes, on a good bay horse, somewhat out
of condition, overtook me; and drawing up, said, "I guess you started
early this morning, sir?"
"I did, sir," I replied.
"You did not come from Halifax, I presume, sir, did you?" in a
dialect too rich to be mistaken as genuine Yankee. "And which way
may you be travelling?" asked my inquisitive companion.
"To Fort Lawrence."
"Ah!" said he, "so am I; it is in my circuit."
The word CIRCUIT sounded so professional, I looked again at him, to
ascertain whether I had ever seen him before, or whether I had met
with one of those nameless, but innumerable limbs of the law, who
now flourish in every district of the Province. There was a keenness
about his eye, and an acuteness of expression, much in favour of the
law; but the dress, and general bearing of the man, made against the
supposition. His was not the coat of a man who can afford to wear
an old coat, nor was it one of "Tempest and Moore's," that distinguish
country lawyers from country boobies. His clothes were well made,
and of good materials, but looked as if their owner had shrunk a
little since they were made for him; they hung somewhat loose on
him. A large brooch, and some superfluous seals and gold keys, which
ornamented his outward man, looked "New England" like. A visit to
the States, had perhaps, I thought, turned this Colchester beau
into a Yankee fop. Of what consequence was it to me who he was? In
either case I had nothing to do with him, and I desired neither his
acquaintance nor his company. Still I could not but ask myself, Who
can this man be?
"I am not aware," said I, "that there is a court sitting at this time
"Nor am I," said my friend. What, then, could he have to do with the
circuit? It occurred to me he must be a Methodist preacher. I looked
again, but his appearance again puzzled me. His attire might do—the
colour might be suitable—the broad brim not out of place; but there
was a want of that staidness of look, that seriousness of
countenance, that expression, in short, so characteristic of the
I could not account for my idle curiosity—a curiosity which, in him,
I had the moment before viewed both with suspicion and disgust; but
so it was—I felt a desire to know who he could be who was neither
lawyer nor preacher, and yet talked of his circuit with the gravity
of both. How ridiculous, I thought to myself is this; I will leave
him. Turning towards him, I said, I feared I should be late for
breakfast, and must therefore bid him good morning. Mohawk felt
the pressure of my knees, and away we went at a slapping pace. I
congratulated myself on conquering my own curiosity, and on avoiding
that of my travelling companion. This, I said to myself, this is
the value of a good horse; I patted his neck; I felt proud of him.
Presently I heard the steps of the unknown's horse—the clatter
increased. Ah, my friend, thought I, it won't do; you should be well
mounted if you desire my company; I pushed Mohawk faster, faster,
faster—to his best. He outdid himself; he had never trotted so
handsomely, so easily, so well.
"I guess that is a pretty considerable smart horse," said the
stranger, as he came beside me, and apparently reined in, to prevent
his horse passing me; "there is not, I reckon, so spry a one on my
Circuit or no circuit, one thing was settled in my mind; he was a
Yankee, and a very impertinent Yankee too. I felt humbled, my pride
was hurt, and Mohawk was beaten. To continue this trotting contest
was humiliating; I yielded, therefore, before the victory was
palpable, and pulled up.
"Yes," continued he, "a horse of pretty considerable good action,
and a pretty fair trotter, too, I guess." Pride must have a fall—I
confess mine was prostrate in the dust. These words cut me to
the heart. What! is it come to this, poor Mohawk, that you, the
admiration of all but the envious, the great Mohawk, the oracle
horse, the standard by which all other horses are measured—trots
next to Mohawk, only yields to Mohawk, looks like Mohawk—that you
are, after all, only a counterfeit, and pronounced by a straggling
Yankee to be merely "a pretty fair trotter!"
"If he was trained, I guess he might be made to do a little more.
Excuse me, but if you divide your weight between the knee and the
stirrup, rather most on the knee, and rise forward on the saddle, so
as to leave a little daylight between you and it, I hope I may never
ride this circuit again, if you don't get a mile more an hour out
What! not enough, I mentally groaned, to have my horse beaten, but
I must be told that I don't know how to ride him; and that, too, by
a Yankee! Aye, there's the rub—a Yankee what? Perhaps a half-bred
puppy, half Yankee, half Bluenose. As there is no escape, I'll try
to make out my riding master. "Your circuit?" said I, my looks
expressing all the surprise they were capable of—"your circuit,
pray what may that be?"
"Oh," said he, "the eastern circuit—I am on the eastern circuit,
"I have heard," said I, feeling that I now had a lawyer to deal with,
"that there is a great deal of business on this circuit. Pray, are
there many cases of importance?"
"There is a pretty fair business to be done, at least there has been,
but the cases are of no great value—we do not make much out of them,
we get them up very easy, but they don't bring much profit." What a
beast, thought I, is this! and what a curse to a country, to have
such an unfeeling pettifogging rascal practising in it—a horse
jockey, too—what a finished character! I'll try him on that branch
of his business.
"That is a superior animal you are mounted on," said I; "I seldom
meet one that can travel with mine."
"Yes," said he coolly, "a considerable fair traveller, and most
particular good bottom." I hesitated; this man who talks with such
unblushing effrontery of getting up cases, and making profit out of
them, cannot be offended at the question—yes, I will put it to him.
"Do you feel an inclination to part with him?"
"I never part with a horse sir, that suits me," said he. "I am fond
of a horse: I don't like to ride in the dust after every one I meet,
and I allow no man to pass me but when I choose." Is it possible, I
thought, that he can know me—that he has heard of my foible, and is
quizzing me, or have I this feeling in common with him?
"But," continued I, "you might supply yourself again."
"Not on this circuit, I guess," said he, "nor yet in Campbell's
"Campbell's circuit—pray, sir, what is that?"
"That," said he, "is the western—and Lampton rides the shore
circuit; and as for the people on the shore, they know so little
of horses that, Lampton tells me, a man from Aylesford once sold a
hornless ox there, whose tail he had cut and nicked for a horse of
the goliah breed."
"I should think," said I, "that Mr. Lampton must have no lack of
cases among such enlightened clients."
"Clients, sir!" said my friend, "Mr. Lampton is not a lawyer."
"I beg pardon, I thought you said he rode the circuit."
"We call it a circuit," said the stranger, who seemed by no means
flattered by the mistake; "we divide the Province, as in the
Almanac, into circuits, in each of which we separately carry on
our business of manufacturing and selling clocks. There are few, I
guess," said the Clockmaker, "who go upon TICK as much as we do, who
have so little use for lawyers; if attornies could wind a man up
again, after he has been fairly run down, I guess they'd be a pretty
harmless sort of folks."
This explanation restored my good humour, and as I could not quit my
companion, and he did not feel disposed to leave me, I made up my
mind to travel with him to Fort Lawrence, the limit of his circuit.
I had heard of Yankee clock peddlers, tin peddlers, and bible
peddlers, especially of him who sold Polyglot Bibles (all in english)
to the amount of sixteen thousand pounds. The house of every
substantial farmer had three substantial ornaments: a wooden clock, a
tin reflector, and a Polyglot Bible. How is it that an American can
sell his wares, at whatever price he pleases, where a Bluenose would
fail to make a sale at all? I will enquire of the Clockmaker the
secret of his success.
"What a pity it is, Mr. Slick"—for such was his name—"what a pity
it is," said I, "that you, who are so successful in teaching these
people the value of clocks, could not also teach them the value of
"I guess," said he, "they have got that ring to grow on their horns
yet, which every four-year-old has in our country. We reckon hours
and minutes to be dollars and cents. They do nothing in these parts
but eat, drink, smoke, sleep, ride about, lounge at taverns, make
speeches at temperance meetings, and talk about 'House of Assembly.'
If a man don't hoe his corn, and he don't get a crop, he says it is
all owing to the Bank; and if he runs into debt and is sued, why he
says the lawyers are a curse to the country. They are a most idle set
of folks, I tell you."
"But how is it," said I, "that you manage to sell such an immense
number of clocks (which certainly cannot be called necessary
articles), among a people with whom there seems to be so great
a scarcity of money?" Mr. Slick paused, as if considering the
propriety of answering the question, and looking me in the face,
said in a confidential tone—
"Why, I don't care if I do tell you, for the market is glutted, and I
shall quit this circuit. It is done by a knowledge of SOFT SAWDER and
HUMAN NATUR'. But here is Deacon Flint's," said he; "I have but one
clock left, and I guess I will sell it to him."
At the gate of a most comfortable looking farm house stood Deacon
Flint, a respectable old man, who had understood the value of time
better than most of his neighbours, if one might judge from the
appearance of everything about him. After the usual salutation, an
invitation to "alight" was accepted by Mr. Slick, who said he wished
to take leave of Mrs. Flint before he left Colchester.
We had hardly entered the house, before the Clockmaker pointed to the
view from the window, and, addressing himself to me, said, "if I was
to tell them in Connecticut, there was such a farm as this away down
east here in Nova Scotia, they wouldn't believe me—why there ain't
such a location in all New England. The deacon has a hundred acres of
"Seventy, said the deacon, only seventy."
"Well, seventy; but then there is your fine deep bottom, why I could
run a ramrod into it—"
"Interval, we call it," said the Deacon, who, though evidently
pleased at this eulogium, seemed to wish the experiment of the ramrod
to be tried in the right place.
"Well, interval, if you please (though Professor Eleazer Cumstick,
in his work on Ohio, calls them bottoms), is just as good as dyke.
Then there is that water privilege, worth three or four thousand
dollars, twice as good as what Governor Cass paid fifteen thousand
dollars for. I wonder, Deacon, you don't put up a carding mill on
it; the same works would carry a turning lathe, a shingle machine,
a circular saw, grind bark, and—"
"Too old," said the Deacon, "too old for all those speculations—"
"Old," repeated the clockmaker, "not you; why you are worth half
a dozen of the young men we see, nowadays; you are young enough to
have—" Here he said something in a lower tone of voice, which I did
not distinctly hear; but whatever it was, the Deacon was pleased, he
smiled and said he did not think of such things now.
"But your beasts, dear me, your beasts must be put in and have a
feed;" saying which, he went out to order them to be taken to the
As the old gentleman closed the door after him, Mr. Slick drew near
to me, and said in an undertone, "That is what I call 'SOFT SAWDER.'
An Englishman would pass that man as a sheep passes a hog in a
pasture, without looking at him; or," said he, looking rather archly,
"if he was mounted on a pretty smart horse, I guess he'd trot away,
if he could. Now I find—" Here his lecture on "SOFT SAWDER" was cut
short by the entrance of Mrs. Flint.
"Jist come to say good-bye, Mrs. Flint."
"What, have you sold all your clocks?"
"Yes, and very low too, for money is scarce, and I wished to close
the consarn; no, I am wrong in saying all, for I have just one left.
Neighbour Steel's wife asked to have the refusal of it, but I guess I
won't sell it; I had but two of them, this one and the feller of it,
that I sold Governor Lincoln. General Green, the Secretary of State
for Maine, said he'd give me forty dollars for this here one—it has
composition wheels and patent axles, it is a beautiful article, a
real first chop, no mistake, genuine superfine—but I guess I'll take
it back; and beside, Squire Hawk might think kinder hard, that I did
not give him the offer."
"Dear me," said Mrs. Flint, "I should like to see it, where is it?"
"It is in a chest of mine over the way, at Tom Tape's store, I guess
he can ship it on to Eastport."
"That's a good man," said Mrs. Flint, "jist let's look at it."
Mr. Slick, willing to oblige, yielded to these entreaties, and soon
produced the clock—a gawdy, highly varnished, trumpery looking
affair. He placed it on the chimney-piece, where its beauties were
pointed out and duly appreciated by Mrs. Flint, whose admiration was
about ending in a proposal when Mr. Flint returned from giving his
directions about the care of the horses. The Deacon praised the
clock, he too thought it a handsome one; but the Deacon was a prudent
man, he had a watch, he was sorry, but he had no occasion for a
"I guess you're in the wrong furrow this time, Deacon, it ain't for
sale," said Mr. Slick; "and if it was, I reckon neighbour Steel's
wife would have it, for she gives me no peace about it." Mrs. Flint
said that Mr. Steel had enough to do, poor man, to pay his
interest, without buying clocks for his wife.
"It's no consarn of mine," said Mr. Slick, "as long as he pays me,
what he has to do; but I guess I don't want to sell it, and beside it
comes too high; that clock can't be made at Rhode Island under forty
dollars. Why it ain't possible," said the Clockmaker, in apparent
surprise, looking at his watch, "why as I'm alive it is four o'clock,
and if I havn't been two hours here—how on airth shall I reach River
Philip tonight? I'll tell you what, Mrs. Flint, I'll leave the clock
in your care till I return on my way to the States—I'll set it
a-goin' and put it to the right time."
As soon as this operation was performed, he delivered the key to the
deacon with a sort of serio-comic injunction to wind up the clock
every Saturday night, which Mrs. Flint said she would take care
should be done, and promised to remind her husband of it, in case he
should chance to forget it.
"That," said the Clockmaker as soon as we were mounted, "that I call
'HUMAN NATUR'!' Now that clock is sold for forty dollars—it cost me
just six dollars and fifty cents. Mrs. Flint will never let Mrs.
Steel have the refusal—nor will the deacon learn until I call for
the clock, that having once indulged in the use of a superfluity, how
difficult it is to give it up. We can do without any article of
luxury we have never had, but when once obtained, it is not in 'HUMAN
NATUR'' to surrender it voluntarily. Of fifteen thousand sold by
myself and partners in this Province, twelve thousand were left in
this manner, and only ten clocks were ever returned; when we called
for them they invariably bought them. We trust to 'SOFT SAWDER' to
get them into the house, and to 'HUMAN NATUR'' that they never come
out of it."
The Silent Girls.
"Do you see them 'ere swallows," said the Clockmaker, "how low they
fly? Well I presume we shall have rain right away; and them noisy
critters, them gulls how close they keep to the water, down there in
the Shubenacadie; well that's a sure sign. If we study natur', we
don't want no thermometer. But I guess we shall be in time to get
under cover in a shingle-maker's shed about three miles ahead on us.
We had just reached the deserted hovel when the rain fell in torrents.
"I reckon," said the Clockmaker, as he sat himself down on a bundle
of shingles, "I reckon they are bad off for inns in this country.
When a feller is too lazy to work here, he paints his name over his
door, and calls it a tavern, and as like as not he makes the whole
neighbourhood as lazy as himself—it is about as easy to find a good
inn in Halifax, as it is to find wool on a goat's back. An inn, to be
a good consarn, must be built a purpose, you can no more make a good
tavern out of a common dwelling house, I expect, than a good coat
out of an old pair of trousers. They are etarnal lazy, you may
depend—now there might be a grand spec made there, in building a
good inn and a good church."
"What a sacrilegious and unnatural union," said I, with most
"Not at all," said Mr. Slick; "we build both on speculation in the
States, and make a good deal of profit out of 'em too, I tell you. We
look out a good sightly place, in a town like Halifax, that is pretty
considerably well peopled, with folks that are good marks; and if
there is no real right down good preacher among them, we build a
handsome Church, touched off like a New York liner, a real taking
looking thing—and then we look out for a preacher, a crack man, a
regular ten horse power chap—well, we hire him, and we have to give
pretty high wages too, say twelve hundred or sixteen hundred dollars
a year. We take him at first on trial for a Sabbath or two, to try
his paces, and if he takes with the folks, if he goes down well, we
clinch the bargain, and let and sell the pews; and, I tell you it
pays well and makes a real good investment. There were few better
specs among us than inns and churches, until the railroads came on
the carpet; as soon as the novelty of the new preacher wears off, we
hire another, and that keeps up the steam."
"I trust it will be long, very long, my friend," said I, "ere the
rage for speculation introduces 'the money-changers into the temple,'
Mr. Slick looked at me with a most ineffable expression of pity and
surprise. "Depend on it, sir," said he, with a most philosophical
air, "this Province is much behind the intelligence of the age. But
if it is behind us in that respect, it is a long chalk ahead on us in
others. I never seed or heerd tell of a country that had so many
natural privileges as this. Why, there are twice as many harbours and
water-powers here, as we have all the way from Eastport to New
OrLEENS. They have all they can ax, and more than they desarve. They
have iron, coal, slate, grindstone, lime, firestone, gypsum,
free-stone, and a list as long as an auctioneer's catalogue. But they
are either asleep, or stone blind to them. Their shores are crowded
with fish, and their lands covered with wood. A government that lays
as light on 'em as a down counterp'in, and no taxes. Then look at
their dykes. The Lord seems to have made 'em on purpose for such lazy
folks. If you were to tell the citizens of our country that these
dykes had been cropped for a hundred years without manure, they'd
say, they guessed you had seen Col. Crockett, the greatest hand at a
flam in our nation. You have heerd tell of a man who couldn't see
London for the houses? I tell you, if we had this country, you
couldn't see the harbours for the shipping. There'd be a rush of
folks to it, as there is in one of our inns, to the dinner table,
when they sometimes get jammed together in the door-way, and a man
has to take a running leap over their heads, afore he can get in. A
little nigger boy in New York found a diamond worth two thousand
dollars; well, he sold it to a watchmaker for fifty cents—the little
critter didn't know no better. Your people are just like the nigger
boy—they don't know the value of their diamond.
"Do you know the reason monkeys are no good? because they chatter all
day long; so do the niggers, and so do the Bluenoses of Nova Scotia;
it's all talk and no work. Now, with us it's all work and no talk; in
our ship yards, our factories, our mills, and even in our vessels,
there's no talk; a man can't work and talk too. I guess if you were
at the factories at Lowell we'd show you a wonder—five hundred gals
at work together, all in silence. I don't think our great country
has such a real natural curiosity as that—I expect the world don't
contain the beat of that; for a woman's tongue goes so slick of
itself, without water power or steam, and moves so easy on its
hinges, that it's no easy matter to put a spring stop on it, I tell
you—it comes as natural as drinkin' mint julip.
"I don't pretend to say the gals don't nullify the rule, sometimes at
intermission and arter hours, but when they do, if they don't let go,
then it's a pity. You have heerd a school come out, of little boys?
Lord, it's no touch to it. Or a flock of geese at it? They are no more
a match for 'em than a pony is for a coach-horse. But when they are
at work, all's as still as sleep and no snoring. I guess we have a
right to brag o' that invention—we trained the dear critters, so
they don't think of striking the minutes and seconds no longer.
"Now the folks of Halifax take it all out in talking. They talk of
steamboats, whalers and railroads; but they all end where they
begin—in talk. I don't think I'd be out in my latitude if I was to
say they beat the womenkind at that. One feller says, 'I talk of
going to England;' another says, 'I talk of going to the country;'
while a third says, 'I talk of going to sleep.' If we happen to speak
of such things, we say, 'I'm right off down East;' or 'I'm away off
South,' and away we go, jist like a streak of lightning.
"When we want folks to talk, we pay 'em for it, such as ministers,
lawyers, and members of Congress; but then we expect the use of their
tongues, and not their hands; and when we pay folks to work, we
expect the use of their hands, and not their tongues. I guess work
don't come kind o' natural to the people of this Province, no more
than it does to a full-bred horse. I expect they think they have a
little too much blood in 'em for work, for they are near about as
proud as they are lazy.
"Now the bees know how to sarve out such chaps, for they have their
drones too. Well they reckon it's no fun, a-makin' honey all summer,
for these idle critters to eat all winter, so they give 'em Lynch
Law. They have a regular built mob of citizens, and string up the
drones like the Vicksburg gamblers. Their maxim is, and not a bad one
neither I guess, 'no work, no honey.'"
Conversations at the River Philip.
It was late before we arrived at Pugnose's inn—the evening was cool,
and a fire was cheering and comfortable. Mr. Slick declined any share
in the bottle of wine, he said he was dyspeptic; and a glass or two
soon convinced me that it was likely to produce in me something worse
than dyspepsy. It was speedily removed and we drew up to the fire.
Taking a small penknife from his pocket, he began to whittle a thin
piece of dry wood, which lay on the hearth; and, after musing some
"I guess you've never been in the States?"
I replied that I had not, but that before I returned to England I
proposed visiting that country.
"There," said he, "you'll see the great Daniel Webster; he's a great
man, I tell you; King William, number four, I guess, would be no
match for him as an orator—he'd talk him out of sight in half an
hour. If he was in your house of Commons, I reckon he'd make some
of your great folks look pretty streaked—he's a true patriot and
statesman, the first in our country, and a most particular cute
lawyer. There was a Quaker chap too cute for him once though. This
Quaker, a pretty knowin' old shaver, had a cause down to Rhode
Island; so he went to Daniel to hire him to go down and plead his
case for him; so says he, 'Lawyer Webster what's your fee?' 'Why,'
says Daniel, 'let me see, I have to go down south to Washington, to
plead the great Insurance case of the Hartford Company—and I've got
to be at Cincinnati to attend the Convention, and I don't see how I
can go to Rhode Island without great loss and great fatigue; it would
cost you maybe more than you'd be willing to give.'
"Well, the Quaker looked pretty white about the gills, I tell you,
when he heard this, for he couldn't do without him no how, and he
didn't like this preliminary talk of his at all. At last he made
bold to ask him the worst of it, what he would take? 'Why,' says
Daniel, 'I always liked the Quakers, they are a quiet peaceable
people who never go to law if they can help it, and it would be
better for our great country if there were more such people in it. I
never seed or heerd tell of any harm in 'em except going the whole
figure for Gineral Jackson, and that everlasting, almighty villain,
Van Buren; yes, I love the Quakers, I hope they'll go the Webster
ticket yet—and I'll go for you as low as I can any way afford, say
one thousand dollars.'
"The Quaker well nigh fainted when he heerd this, but he was pretty
deep too; so, says he, 'Lawyer, that's a great deal of money, but I
have more cases there; if I give you the one thousand dollars will
you plead the other cases I shall have to give you?' 'Yes,' says
Daniel, 'I will to the best of my humble abilities.' So down they
went to Rhode Island, and Daniel tried the case and carried it for
the Quaker. Well, the Quaker he goes round to all the folks that had
suits in court, and says he, 'What will you give me if I get the
great Daniel to plead for you? It cost me one thousand dollars for
a fee, but now he and I are pretty thick, and as he is on the spot,
I'd get him to plead cheap for you.' So he got three hundred dollars
from one, and two from another, and so on, until he got eleven hundred
dollars, jist one hundred dollars more than he gave. Daniel was in a
great rage when he heerd this. 'What!' says he, 'do you think I would
agree to your letting me out like a horse to hire?' 'Friend Daniel,'
said the Quaker, 'didst thou not undertake to plead all such cases as
I should have to give thee? If thou wilt not stand to thy agreement,
neither will I stand to mine.' Daniel laughed out ready to split his
sides at this. 'Well,' says he, 'I guess I might as well stand still
for you to put the bridle on this time, for you have fairly pinned me
up in a corner of the fence anyhow.' So he went good humouredly to
work and pleaded them all.
"This lazy fellow, Pugnose," continued the Clockmaker; "that keeps
this inn, is going to sell off and go to the States; he says he has
to work too hard here; that the markets are dull, and the winter too
long; and he guesses he can live easier there; I guess he'll find his
mistake afore he has been there long. Why, our country ain't to be
compared to this on no account whatever; our country never made us
to be the great nation we are, but we made the country. How on airth
could we, if we were all like old Pugnose, as lazy, as ugly, make
that cold thin soil of New England produce what it does? Why, sir,
the land between Boston and Salem would starve a flock of geese; and
yet look at Salem; it has more cash than would buy Nova Scotia from
the King. We rise early, live frugally, and work late; what we get
we take care of. To all this we add enterprise and intelligence—a
feller who finds work too hard here, had better not go to the States.
I met an Irishman, one Pat Lannigan, last week, who had just returned
from the States. 'Why,' says I, 'Pat, what on airth brought you
back?' 'Bad luck to them,' says Pat, 'if I warn't properly bit. "What
do you get a day in Nova Scotia?" says Judge Beler to me. "Four
shillings, your Lordship," says I. "There are no Lords here," says
he, "we are all free. Well," says he, "I'll give you as much in one
day as you can earn there in two; I'll give you eight shillings."
"Long life to your Lordship," says I. So next day to it I went with a
party of men a-digging a piece of canal, and if it wasn't a hot day
my name is not Pat Lannigan. Presently I looked up and straightened
my back; says I to a comrade of mine, "Mick," says I, "I'm very dry;"
with that, says the overseer, "We don't allow gentlemen to talk at
their work in this country." Faith, I soon found out for my two days'
pay in one, I had to do two days' work in one, and pay two weeks'
board in one, and at the end of a month, I found myself no better off
in pocket than in Nova Scotia; while the devil a bone in my body that
didn't ache with pain, and as for my nose, it took to bleeding, and
bled day and night entirely. Upon my soul, Mr. Slick,' said he, 'the
poor labourer does not last long in your country; what with new rum,
hard labour, and hot weather, you'll see the graves of the Irish each
side of the canal, for all the world like two rows of potatoes in a
field that have forgot to come up.'
"It is a land, sir," continued the Clockmaker, "of hard work. We have
two kind of slaves, the niggers and the white slaves. All European
labourers and blacks, who come out to us, do our hard bodily work,
while we direct it to a profitable end; neither rich nor poor, high
nor low, with us, eat the bread of idleness. Our whole capital is in
active operation, and our whole population is in active employment.
An idle fellow, like Pugnose, who runs away to us, is clapped into
harness afore he knows where he is, and is made to work; like a
horse that refuses to draw, he is put into the teamboat; he finds
some before him and others behind him, he must either draw, or be
dragged to death."
In the morning the Clockmaker informed me that a Justice's Court was
to be held that day at Pugnose's inn, and he guessed he could do
a little business among the country folks that would be assembled
there. Some of them, he said, owed him for clocks, and it would save
him a world of travelling, to have the Justice and Constable to
drive them up together. "If you want a fat wether, there's nothing
like penning up the whole flock in a corner. I guess," said he, "if
General Campbell knew what sort of a man that 'ere magistrate was,
he'd disband him pretty quick; he's a regular suck egg—a disgrace
to the country. I guess if he acted that way in Kentucky, he'd get
a breakfast of cold lead some morning, out of the small eend of a
rifle, he'd find pretty difficult to digest. They tell me he issues
three hundred writs a year, the cost of which, including that
tarnation constable's fees, can't amount to nothing less than three
thousand dollars per annum. If the Hon'ble Daniel Webster had him
afore a jury, I reckon he'd turn him inside out, and slip him back
again, as quick as an old stocking. He'd paint him to the life, as
plain to be known as the head of Gineral Jackson. He's jist a fit
feller for Lynch law, to be tried, hanged, and damned, all at once;
there's more nor him in the country—there's some of the breed in
every county in the Province. Jist one or two to do the dirty work,
as we keep niggers for jobs that would give a white man the cholera.
They ought to pay his passage, as we do with such critters, tell him
his place is taken in the mail coach, and if he is found here after
twenty-four hours, they'd make a carpenter's plumb-bob of him, and
hang him outside the church steeple, to try if it was perpendicular.
He almost always gives judgment for plaintiff, and if the poor
defendant has an offset, he makes him sue it, so that it grinds a
grist both ways for him, like the upper and lower millstone."
People soon began to assemble, some on foot, and others on
horseback and in wagons. Pugnose's tavern was all bustle and
confusion—plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses, all talking,
quarrelling, explaining, and drinking. "Here comes the Squire," said
one. "I'm thinking his horse carries more roguery than law," said
another. "They must have been in proper want of timber to make a
justice of," said a third, "when they took such a crooked stick as
that." "Sap-headed enough too for refuse," said a stout-looking
farmer. "May be so," said another, "but as hard at the heart as a
log of elm." "Howsomever," said a third, "I hope it won't be long
afore he has the wainy edge scored off of him, anyhow." Many more
such remarks were made, all drawn from familiar objects, but all
expressive of bitterness and contempt.
He carried one or two large books with him in his gig, and a
considerable roll of papers. As soon as the obsequious Mr. Pugnose
saw him at the door, he assisted him to alight, ushered him into the
"best room," and desired the constable to attend "the Squire." The
crowd immediately entered, and the Constable opened the court in due
form, and commanded silence.
Taking out a long list of causes, Mr. Pettifog commenced reading the
names: "James Sharp versus John Slug—call John Slug." John Slug
being duly called and not answering, was defaulted. In this manner
he proceeded to default some twenty or thirty persons. At last he
came to a cause, "William Hare versus Dennis O'Brien—call Dennis
O'Brien." "Here I am," said a voice from the other room—"here I am,
who has anything to say to Dennis O'Brien?"
"Make less noise, sir," said the Justice, "or I'll commit you."
"Commit me, is it," said Dennis. "Take care then, Squire, you don't
"You are sued by William Hare for three pounds, for a month's board
and lodging; what have you to say to it?"
"Say to it?" said Dennis. "Did you ever hear what Tim Doyle said
when he was going to be hanged for stealing a pig? Says he, 'If
the pig hadn't squeeled in the bag I'd never have been found out,
so I wouldn't.' So I'll take warning by Tim Doyle's fate; I say
nothing—let him prove it." Here Mr. Hare was called on for his
proof, but taking it for granted that the board would be admitted,
and the defence opened, he was not prepared with proof.
"I demand," said Dennis, "I demand an unsuit."
Here there was a consultation between the Justice and the Plaintiff,
when the Justice said, "I shall not nonsuit him, I shall continue the
cause." "What, hang it up till next court? You had better hang me up
then at once. How can a poor man come here so often? This may be the
entertainment Pugnose advertises for horses, but by Jacquers, it is
no entertainment for me. I admit then, sooner than come again, I
"You admit you owe him three pounds then for a month's board?"
"I admit no such thing; I say I boarded with him a month, and was
like Pat Moran's cow at the end of it, at the lifting, bad luck to
him." A neighbour was here called, who proved that the three pounds
might be the usual price. "And do you know I taught his children to
write at the school?" said Dennis. "You might," answered the witness.
"And what is that worth?" "I don't know." "You don't know? Faith, I
believe you're right," said Dennis, "for if the children are half as
big rogues as the faither, they might leave writing alone, or they'd
be like to be hanged for forgery." Here Dennis produced his account
for teaching five children, two quarters, at nine shillings a quarter
each, four pounds ten shillings. "I am sorry, Mr. O'Brien," said the
Justice, "very sorry, but your defence will not avail you; your account
is too large for one Justice; any sum over three pounds must be sued
before two magistrates."
"But I only want to offset as much as will pay the board."
"It can't be done in this shape," said the magistrate; "I will
consult Justice Dolittle, my neighbour, and if Mr. Hare won't settle
with you, I will sue it for you."
"Well," said Dennis, "all I have to say is, that there is not so big
a rogue as Hare on the whole river, save and except one scoundrel
who shall be nameless," making a significant and humble bow to the
Justice. Here there was a general laugh throughout the court. Dennis
retired to the next room to indemnify himself by another glass
of grog, and venting his abuse against Hare and the Magistrate.
Disgusted at the gross partiality of the Justice, I also quitted the
court, fully concurring in the opinion, though not in the language,
that Dennis was giving utterance to in the bar room.
Pettifog owed his elevation to his interest at an election. It is
to be hoped that his subsequent merits will be as promptly rewarded,
by his dismissal from a bench which he disgraces and defiles by his
As we mounted our horses to proceed to Amherst, groups of country
people were to be seen standing about Pugnose's inn, talking over the
events of the morning, while others were dispersing to their several
"A pretty prime superfine scoundrel, that Pettifog," said the
Clockmaker; "he and his constable are well mated, and they've
travelled in the same gear so long together, that they make about
as nice a yoke of rascals as you'll meet in a day's ride. They pull
together like one rope reeved through two blocks. That 'ere constable
was e'enamost strangled t'other day; and if he hadn't had a little
grain more wit than his master, I guess he'd had his wind-pipe
stopped as tight as a bladder. There is an outlaw of a feller here,
for all the world like one of our Kentucky Squatters, one Bill
Smith—a critter that neither fears man nor devil. Sheriff and
constable can make no hand of him; they can't catch him no how; and
if they do come up with him, he slips through their fingers like
an eel; and then, he goes armed, and he can knock the eye out of a
squirrel with a ball, at fifty yards hand running—a regular ugly
"Well, Nabb, the constable, had a writ agin him, and he was ciphering
a good while how he should catch him; at last he hit on a plan that
he thought was pretty clever, and he scheemed for a chance to try it.
So one day he heerd that Bill was up at Pugnose's inn, a-settling
some business, and was likely to be there all night. Nabb waits till
it was considerable late in the evening, and then he takes his horse
and rides down to the inn, and hitches his beast behind the hay
stack. Then he crawls up to the window and peeps in, and watches
there till Bill should go to bed, thinking the best way to catch them
'ere sort of animals is to catch them asleep. Well, he kept Nabb
a-waiting outside so long, with his talking and singing, that he well
nigh fell asleep fist himself; at last Bill began to strip for bed.
First he takes out a long pocket pistol, examines the priming, and
lays it down on the table, near the head of the bed.
"When Nabb sees this, he begins to creep like all over, and feel
kinder ugly, and rather sick of his job; but when he seed him jump
into bed, and heerd him snore out a noise like a man driving pigs to
market, he plucked up courage, and thought he might do it easy arter
all if he was to open the door softly, and make one spring on him
afore he could wake. So round he goes, lifts up the latch of his door
as soft as soap, and makes a jump right atop of him, as he lay in the
bed. 'I guess I got you this time,' said Nabb. 'I guess so too,' said
Bill, 'but I wish you wouldn't lay so plaguy heavy on me; jist turn
over, that's a good fellow, will you?' With that Bill lays his arm
on him to raise him up, for he said he was squeezed as flat as a
pancake, and afore Nabb knew where he was, Bill rolled him right over
and was atop of him. Then he seized him by the throat, and twisted
his pipe till his eyes were as big as saucers, and his tongue grew
six inches longer, while he kept making faces for all the world like
the pirate that was hanged on Monument Hill at Boston. It was pretty
near over with him, when Nabb thought of his spurs; so he just curled
up both heels, and drove the spurs right into him; he let him have it
jist below his crupper. As Bill was naked he had a fair chance, and
he ragged him like the leaf of a book cut open with your finger. At
last, Bill could stand it no longer; he let go his hold and roared
like a bull, and clapping both hands ahind him, he out of the door
like a shot. If it hadn't been for them 'ere spurs, I guess Bill
would have saved the hangman a job of Nabb that time."
The Clockmaker was an observing man, and equally communicative.
Nothing escaped his notice; he knew everybody's genealogy, history
and means, and like a driver of an English stage-coach, was not
unwilling to impart what he knew. "Do you see that snug-looking
house there," said he, "with a short sarce garden afore it, that
belongs to Elder Thomson. The Elder is pretty close-fisted, and holds
special fast to all he gets. He is a just man and very pious, but
I have observed when a man becomes near about too good, he is apt,
sometimes, to slip ahead into avarice, unless he looks sharp arter
his girths. A friend of mine in Connecticut, an old sea Captain, who
was once let in for it pretty deep, by a man with a broader brim than
common, he said to me, 'Friend Sam, I don't like those folks who are
too damned good.' There is, I expect, some truth in it, tho' he
needn't have swore at all, but he was an awful hand to swear.
Howsomever that may be, there is a story about the Elder, that's not
so coarse neither.
"It appears an old Minister came there once, to hold a meetin' at his
house—well, after meetin' was over, the Elder took the minister all
over his farm, which is pretty tidy, I tell you; and he showed him
a great Ox he had, and a swingeing big Pig, that weighed some six
or seven hundred weight, that he was plaguy proud of, but he never
offered the old minister anything to eat or drink. The preacher was
pretty tired of all this, and seeing no prospect of being asked to
partake with the family, and tolerably sharp set, he asked one of the
boys to fetch him his horse out of the barn. When he was taking leave
of the Elder (there were several folks by at the time), says he,
'Elder Thomson, you have a fine farm here, a very fine farm, indeed;
you have a large Ox too, a very large Ox; and I think,' said he,
'I've seen today' (turning and looking him full in the face, for
he intended to hit him pretty hard) 'I think I have seen today the
greatest hog I ever saw in my life.' The neighbours snickered a good
deal, and the Elder felt pretty streaked. I guess he'd give his
great Pig or his great Ox either, if that story hadn't got wind."
When we resumed our conversation, the Clockmaker said, "I guess
we are the greatest nation on the face of the airth, and the most
This was rather too arrogant to pass unnoticed, and I was about
replying, that whatever doubts there might be on that subject, there
could be none whatever that they were the most modest, when he
continued "we 'go ahead'; the Nova Scotians 'go astarn.' Our ships go
ahead of the ships of other folks, our steamboats beat the British in
speed, and so do our stage coaches; and I reckon a real right down
New York trotter might stump the univarse for going ahead. But since
we introduced the railroads if we don't go ahead it's a pity. We
never fairly knew what going the whole hog was till then; we actilly
went ahead of ourselves, and that's no easy matter I tell you. If
they only had edication here, they might learn to do so too, but
they don't know nothin'."
"You undervalue them," said I; "they have their College and
Academies, their grammar schools and primary institutions, and I
believe there are few among them who cannot read and write."
"I guess all that's nothin'," said he. "As for Latin and Greek, we
don't vally it a cent; we teach it, and so we do painting and music,
because the English do, and we like to go ahead on 'em, even in
them 'ere things. As for reading, it's well enough for them that
has nothing to do, and writing is plaguy apt to bring a man to
states-prison, particularly if he writes his name so like another man
as to have it mistaken for his'n. Cyphering is the thing—if a man
knows how to cipher, he is sure to grow rich. We are a 'calculating'
people, we all cipher.
"A horse that won't go ahead, is apt to run back, and the more you
whip him the faster he goes astarn. That's jist the way with the Nova
Scotians; they have been running back so fast lately, that they have
tumbled over a bank or two, and nearly broke their necks; and now
they've got up and shook themselves, they swear their dirty clothes
and bloody noses are all owing to the banks. I guess if they won't
look ahead for the future, they'll larn to look behind, and see if
there's a bank near hand 'em.
"A bear always goes down a tree starn foremost. He is a cunning
critter; he knows 'tain't safe to carry a heavy load over his head,
and his rump is so heavy, he don't like to trust it over his'n, for
fear it might take a lurch, and carry him heels over head, to the
ground; so he lets his starn down first, and his head arter. I wish
the Bluenoses would find as good an excuse in their rumps for running
backwards as he has. But the bear 'ciphers;' he knows how many pounds
his hams weigh, and he 'calculates' if he carried them up in the air,
they might be top heavy for him.
"If we had this Province we'd go to work and 'cipher' right off.
Halifax is nothing without a river or back country; add nothing to
nothing, and I guess you have nothing still—add a railroad to the
Bay of Fundy, and how much do you git? That requires ciphering—it
will cost three hundred thousand dollars or seventy-five thousand
pounds your money—add for notions omitted in the addition column,
one third, and it makes even money—one hundred thousand pounds.
Interest at five per cent, five thousand pounds a year. Now turn over
the slate and count up freight. I make it upwards of twenty-five
thousand pounds a year. If I had you at the desk, I'd show you a bill
"Now comes 'subtraction'; deduct cost of engines, wear and tear, and
expenses, and what not, and reduce it for shortness down to five
thousand pounds a year, the amount of interest. What figures have you
got now? You have an investment that pays interest, I guess, and if
it don't pay more then I don't know chalk from cheese. But suppose
it don't, and that it only yields two and a half per cent (and it
requires good ciphering, I tell you, to say how it would act with
folks that like going astarn better than going ahead), what would them
'ere wise ones say then? Why the foolish critters would say it won't
pay; but I say the sum ain't half stated. Can you count in your head?"
"Not to any extent," said I.
"Well, that's an etarnal pity," said the Clockmaker, "for I should
like to show you Yankee Cyphering. What is the entire real estate of
Halifax worth, at a valeation?"
"I really cannot say."
"Ah," said he, "I see you don't cipher, and Latin and Greek won't do;
them 'ere people had no railroad. Well, find out, and then only add
ten per cent to it, for increased value, and if it don't give the
cost of a railroad, then my name is not Sam Slick. Well, the land
between Halifax and Ardoise is worth—nothing; add five per cent to
that, and send the sum to the College, and ax the students how much
it comes to. But when you get into Hants County, I guess you have
land worth coming all the way from Boston to see. His Royal Highness
the King, I guess, hasn't got the like in his dominions. Well, add
fifteen per cent to all them 'ere lands that border on Windsor Basin,
and five per cent to what 'buts on basin of Mines, and then, what do
you get? A pretty considerable sum I tell you—but it's no use to give
you the CHALKS, if you can't keep the TALLIES.
"Now we will lay down the schoolmaster's assistant, and take up
another book every bit and grain as good as that, although these
folks affect to sneer at it—I mean human natur'."
"Ah!" said I, "a knowledge of that was of great service to you,
certainly, in the sale of your clock to the old Deacon; let us see
how it will assist you now."
"What does a clock want that's run down?" said he.
"Undoubtedly to be wound up," I replied.
"I guess you've hit it this time. The folks of Halifax have run down,
and they'll never go to all eternity, till they are wound up into
motion; the works are all good, and it is plaguy well cased and
set—it only wants a key. Put this railroad into operation, and the
activity it will inspire into business, the new life it will give the
place, will surprise you. It's like lifting a child off his crawling,
and putting him on his legs to run—see how the little critter goes
ahead arter that. A kurnel (I don't mean a Kurnel of militia, for we
don't vally that breed o' cattle nothing—they do nothing but strut
about and screech all day, like peacocks), but a kurnel of grain,
when sowed, will stool into several shoots, and each shoot hear many
kurnels, and will multiply itself thus—four times one is four, and
four times twenty-five is one hundred (you see all natur' ciphers,
except the Bluenoses). Jist so, this 'ere railroad will not, perhaps,
beget other railroads, but it will beget a spirit of enterprise, that
will beget other useful improvements. It will enlarge the sphere and
the means of trade, open new sources of traffic and supply—develop
resources—and what is of more value perhaps than all—beget motion.
It will stool out and bear abundantly; it will teach the folks that
go astarn or stand stock still, like the statehouse in Boston (though
they do say the foundation of that has moved a little this summer),
not only to 'go ahead,' but to nullify time and space."
Here his horse (who, feeling the animation of his master, had been
restive of late) set off at a most prodigious rate of trotting. It
was some time before he was reined up. When I overtook him, the
Clockmaker said, "this old Yankee horse, you see, understands our
word 'go ahead' better nor these Bluenoses."
"What is it," he continued, "what is it that 'fetters' the heels of a
young country, and hangs like 'a poke' around its neck? What retards
the cultivation of its soil, and the improvement of its fisheries?
The high price of labour, I guess. Well, what's a railroad? The
substitution of mechanical for human and animal labour, on a scale as
grand as our great country. Labour is dear in America, and cheap in
Europe. A railroad, therefore, is comparatively no manner of use
to them, to what it is to us; it does wonders there, but it works
miracles here. There it makes the old man younger, but here it makes
a child a giant. To us it is river, bridge, road and canal, all in
one. It saves what we hain't got to spare, men, horses, carts,
vessels, barges, and what's all in all—time.
"Since the creation of the Universe, I guess it's the greatest
invention, arter man. Now this is what I call 'ciphering' arter human
natur', while figures are ciphering arter the 'assistant.' These two
sorts of ciphering make edecation—and you may depend on't, Squire,
there is nothing like folks ciphering, if they want to 'go ahead.'"
The Preacher that Wandered from His Text.
"I guess," said the Clockmaker, "we know more of Nova Scotia than
the Bluenoses themselves do. The Yankees see further ahead than most
folks; they can e'enamost see round t'other side of a thing; indeed
some of them have hurt their eyes by it, and sometimes I think that's
the reason such a sight of them wear spectacles. The first I ever
heerd tell of Cumberland was from Mr. Everett of Congress; he know'd
as much about it as if he had lived here all his days, and maybe a
little grain more. He is a splendid man that—we class him No. 1,
letter A. One night I chanced to go into General Peep's tavern
at Boston, and who should I see there but the great Mr. Everett,
a-studying over a map of the Province of Nova Scotia. 'Why it ain't
possible!' said I; 'if that ain't Professor Everett, as I am alive!
Why, how do you do, Professor?' 'Pretty well, I give you thanks,' said
he; 'how be you? but I ain't no longer Professor; I gin that up, and
also the trade of preaching, and took to politics.' 'You don't say
so,' said I; 'why, what on airth is the cause o' that?' 'Why,' says
he, 'look here, Mr. Slick. What IS the use of reading the Proverbs of
Solomon to our free and enlightened citizens, that are every mite and
morsel as wise as he was? That 'ere man undertook to say there was
nothing new under the sun. I guess he'd think he spoke a little too
fast, if he was to see our steamboats, railroads, and India rubber
shoes—three inventions worth more nor all he knew put in a heap
together.' 'Well, I don't know,' said I, 'but somehow or another, I
guess you'd have found preaching the best speculation in the long
run; them 'ere Unitarians pay better than Uncle Sam.' (We call," said
the Clockmaker, "the American public Uncle Sam, as you call the
British John Bull.)
"That remark seemed to grig him a little; he felt oneasy like, and
walked twice across the room, fifty fathoms deep in thought; at last
he said, 'Which way are you from, Mr. Slick, this hitch?' 'Why,' says
I, 'I've run away up South a-speculating in nutmegs.' 'I hope,' says
the Professor, 'they were a good article, the real right down genuine
thing.' 'No mistake,' says I, 'no mistake, Professor: they were all
prime, first chop; but why did you ax that 'ere question?' 'Why,'
says he, 'that eternal scoundrel, that Captain John Allspice of
Nahant, he used to trade to Charleston, and he carried a cargo once
there of fifty barrels of nutmegs: well, he put half a bushel of
good ones into each eend of the barrel, and the rest he filled up
with wooden ones, so like the real thing, no soul could tell the
difference until HE BIT ONE WITH HIS TEETH, and that he never thought
of doing, until he was first BIT HIMSELF. Well, it's been a standing
joke with them southerners agin us ever since.
"'It was only t'other day at Washington, that everlasting Virginny
duellist, General Cuffy, afore a number of senators, at the
President's house, said to me, "Well Everett," says he, "you know I
was always dead agin your Tariff bill, but I have changed my mind
since your able speech on it; I shall vote for it now." "Give me your
hand," says I, "General Cuffy; the Boston folks will be dreadful glad
when they hear your splendid talents are on our side. I think it will
go now—we'll carry it." "Yes," says he, "your factories down east
beat all natur'; they go ahead on the English a long chalk." You may
depend I was glad to hear the New Englanders spoken of that way; I
felt proud, I tell you. "And," says he, "there's one manufacture that
might stump all Europe to produce the like." "What's that?" says I,
looking as pleased all the time as a gal that's tickled. "Why," says
he, "the 'facture of wooden nutmegs; that's a cap sheef that bangs
the bush—it's a real Yankee patent invention." With that all the
gentlemen set up a laugh, you might have heerd away down to Sandy
Hook, and the Gineral gig-gobbled like a great turkey-cock—the half
nigger, half alligator-like looking villain as he is. I tell you
what, Mr. Slick,' said the Professor, 'I wish with all my heart them
'ere damned nutmegs were in the bottom of the sea.' That was the
first oath I ever heerd him let slip: but he was dreadful riled, and
it made me feel ugly too, for it's awful to hear a minister swear;
and the only match I know for it, is to hear a regular sneezer of a
sinner quote Scripture. Says I, 'Mr. Everett, that's the fruit that
politics bears; for my part I never seed a good graft on it yet, that
bore anything good to eat, or easy to digest.'
"Well, he stood awhile looking down on the carpet, with his hands
behind him, quite taken up a-ciphering in his head, and then he
straightened himself up, and he put his hand upon his heart, just as
he used to do in the pulpit (he looked pretty I tell you), and slowly
lifting his hand off his breast, he said, 'Mr. Slick, our tree of
liberty was a beautiful tree—a splendid tree—it was a sight to look
at; it was well fenced and well protected, and it grew so stately and
so handsome, that strangers came from all parts of the globe to see
it. They all allowed it was the most splendid thing in the world.
Well, the mobs have broke in and tore down the fences, and snapped
off the branches, and scattered all the leaves about, and it looks
no better than a gallows tree. I am afeared,' said he, 'I tremble
to think on it, but I am afeared our ways will no longer be ways of
pleasantness, nor our paths, paths of peace; I am, indeed, I vow, Mr.
Slick.' He looked so streaked and so chop-fallen, that I felt kinder
sorry for him; I actilly thought he'd a boo-hoo'd right out.
"So, to turn the conversation, says I, 'Professor, what 'ere great
map is that I seed you a-studyin' over when I came in?' Says he,
'it's a map of Nova Scotia. That,' says he, 'is a valuable province,
a real clever province; we hain't got the like on it, but it's most
plagily in our way.' 'Well,' says I, 'send for Sam Patch' (that 'ere
man was a great diver," says the Clockmaker, "and the last dive he
took was off the falls of Niagara, and he was never heerd of agin
till t'other day, when Captain Enoch Wentworth, of the Susy Ann
whaler saw him in the South Sea. 'Why,' says Captain Enoch to him,
'why Sam,' says he, 'how on airth did you get here? I thought you was
drowned at the Canadian lines.' 'Why,' says he, 'I didn't get ON
airth here at all, but I came right slap THROUGH it. In that 'ere
Niagara dive, I went so everlasting deep, I thought it was just as
short to come up t'other side, so out I came in those parts. If I
don't take the shine off the Sea Serpent, when I get back to Boston,
then my name's not Sam Patch'.) 'Well,' says I, 'Professor, send for
Sam Patch, the diver, and let him dive down and stick a torpedo in
the bottom of the Province and blow it up; or if that won't do, send
for some of our steam towboats from our great Eastern cities, and tow
it out to sea; you know there's nothing our folks can't do, when they
once fairly take hold on a thing in airnest.'
"Well, that made him laugh; he seemed to forget about the nutmegs,
and says he, 'That's a bright scheme, but it won't do; we shall want
the Province some day, and I guess we'll buy it of King William; they
say he is over head and ears in debt, and owes nine hundred millions
of pounds starling—we'll buy it, as we did Florida. In the meantime
we must have a canal from Bay Fundy to Bay Varte, right through
Cumberland neck, by Shittyack, for our fishing vessels to go to
Labradore.' 'I guess you must ax leave first,' said I. 'That's jist
what I was ciphering at,' says he, 'when you came in. I believe we
won't ax them at all, but jist fall to and do it; IT'S A ROAD OF
NEEDCESSITY. I once heard Chief Justice Marshall of Baltimore say;
"If the people's highway is dangerous, a man may take down a fence
and pass through the fields as a way of NEEDCESSITY;" and we shall do
it on that principle, as the way round by Isle Sable is dangerous. I
wonder the Nova Scotians don't do it for their own convenience.' Said
I, 'it wouldn't make a bad speculation that.' 'The critters don't
know no better,' said he. 'Well,' says I, 'the St. John's folks, why
don't they? for they are pretty cute chaps them.'
"'They remind me,' says the Professor, 'of Jim Billings. You knew
Jim Billings, didn't you, Mr. Slick?' 'Oh yes,' said I, 'I knew him.
It was he that made such a talk by shipping blankets to the West
Indies.' 'The same,' says he. 'Well, I went to see him the other day
at Mrs. Lecain's boarding-house, and says I, "Billings, you have a
nice location here." "A plaguy sight too nice," said he. "Marm Lecain
makes such an etarnal touss about her carpets, that I have to go
along that everlasting long entry, and down both staircases, to the
street door to spit; and it keeps all the gentlemen a-running with
their mouths full all day. I had a real bout with a New Yorker this
morning. I run down to the street door, and afore I seed anybody
a-coming, I let go, and I vow if I didn't let a chap have it all over
his white waistcoat. Well, he makes a grab at me, and I shuts the
door right to on his wrist, and hooks the door chain taught and
leaves him there, and into Marm Lecain's bedroom like a shot, and
hides behind the curtain. Well, he roared like a bull, till black
Lucretia, one of the house-helps, let him go, and they looked into
all the gentlemen's rooms and found nobody; so I got out of that 'ere
scrape. So, what with Marm Lecain's carpets in the house, and other
folks' waistcoats in the street, it's too nice a location for me, I
guess, so I shall up killock and off tomorrow to the TREE-mont."
"'Now,' says the Professor, 'the St. John's folks are jist like
Billings, fifty cents would have bought him a spit box, and saved him
all them 'ere journeys to the street door—and a canal at Bay Varte
would save the St. John's folks a voyage all round Nova Scotia. Why,
they can't get at their own backside settlements, without a voyage
most as long as one to Europe. If we had that 'ere neck of land in
Cumberland, we'd have a ship canal there, and a town at each end of
it as big as Portland. You may talk of Solomon,' said the Professor,
'but if Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like a lily of the
field, neither was he in all his wisdom, equal in knowledge to a real
free American citizen.' 'Well,' said I, 'Professor, we are a most
enlightened people, that's sartain, but somehow I don't like to hear
you run down King Solomon neither; perhaps he warn't quite so wise
as Uncle Sam, but then,' said I (drawing close to the Professor, and
whispering in his ear, for fear any folks in the bar room might hear
me), 'but then, said I, may be he was every bit and grain as honest.'
Says he, 'Mr. Slick, there are some folks who think a good deal and
say but little, and they are wise folks; and there are others agin,
who blart right out whatever comes uppermost, and I guess they are
pretty considerable superfine darned fools.'
"And with that he turned right round, and sat down to his map and
never said another word, lookin' as mad as a hatter the whole blessed
Yankee Eating and Horse Feeding.
"Did you ever hear tell of Abernethy, a British doctor?" said the
"Frequently," said I; "he was an eminent man, and had a most
"Well, I reckon he was a vulgar critter that," he replied, "he
treated the hon'ble Alden Gobble, secretary to our legation at
London, dreadful bad once; and I guess if it had been me he had used
that way, I'd a fixed his flint for him, so that he'd think twice
afore he'd fire such another shot as that 'ere agin. I'd a made him
make tracks, I guess, as quick as a dog does a hog from a potato
field. He'd a found his way out of the hole in the fence a plaguy
sight quicker than he came in, I reckon."
"His manner," said I, "was certainly rather unceremonious at times,
but he was so honest and so straightforward, that no person was,
I believe, ever seriously offended at him. IT WAS HIS WAY."
"Then his way was so plaguy rough," continued the Clockmaker, "that
he'd been the better, if it had been hammered and mauled down
smoother. I'd a levelled him as flat as a flounder."
"Pray what was his offence?" said I.
"Bad enough you may depend. The hon'ble Alden Gobble was dyspeptic,
and he suffered great on easiness arter eatin', so he gees to
Abemethy for advice. 'What's the matter with you?' said the
Doctor—jist that way, without even passing the time o' day with
him—'what's the matter with you?' said he. 'Why,' says Alden, 'I
presume I have the Dyspepsy.' 'Ah!' said he, 'I see; a Yankee
swallowed more dollars and cents than he can digest.' 'I am an
American citizen,' says Alden, with great dignity; 'I am Secretary to
our Legation at the Court of St. James.' 'The devil you are,' said
Abernethy; "then you'll soon get rid of your dyspepsy.' 'I don't see
that 'ere inference,' said Alden, 'it don't follow from what you
predicate at all; it ain't a natural consequence, I guess, that a man
should cease to be ill because he is called by the voice of a free
and enlightened people to fill an important office.' (The truth is,
you could no more trap Alden than you could an Indian. He could see
other folks' trail, and made none himself; he was a real diplomatist,
and I believe our diplomatists are allowed to be the best in the
world.) 'But I tell you it does follow,' said the Doctor; 'for in the
company you'll have to keep, you'll have to eat like a Christian.'
"It was an everlasting pity Alden contradicted him, for he broke out
like one ravin' distracted mad. 'I'll be damned,' said he, 'if ever I
saw a Yankee that didn't bolt his food whole like a boa constrictor.
How the devil can you expect to digest food, that you neither take
the trouble to dissect, nor time to masticate? It's no wonder you
lose your teeth, for you never use them; nor your digestion, for
you overload it; nor your saliva, for you expend it on the carpets,
instead of your food. It's disgusting, it's beastly. You Yankees load
your stomachs as a Devonshire man does his cart, as full as it can
hold, and as fast as he can pitch it with a dung-fork, and drive off;
and then you complain that such a load of compost is too heavy for
you. Dyspepsy, eh! infernal guzzling, you mean. I'll tell you what,
Mr. Secretary of Legation, take half the time to eat that you do to
drawl out your words, chew your food half as much as you do your
filthy tobacco, and you'll be well in a month.'
"'I don't understand such language,' said Alden. (For he was fairly
riled, and got his dander up, and when he shows clear grit, he looks
wicked ugly, I tell you.) 'I don't understand such language, sir;
I came here to consult you professionally, and not to be—' 'Don't
understand!' said the Doctor, 'why it's plain English; but here, read
my book!' and he shoved a book into his hands and left him in an
instant, standing alone in the middle of the room.
"If the hon'ble Alden Gobble had gone right away and demanded his
passport, and returned home with the Legation, in one of our first
class frigates (I guess the English would as soon see p'ison as one
o' them 'ere Serpents), to Washington, the President and the people
would have sustained him in it, I guess, until an apology was offered
for the insult to the nation. I guess if it had been me," said Mr.
Slick, "I'd a headed him afore he slipped out o' the door, and pinned
him up agin the wall, and made him bolt his words again, as quick as
he throw'd 'em up, for I never seed an Englishman that didn't cut his
words as short as he does his horse's tail, close up to the stump."
"It certainly was very coarse and vulgar language, and I think," said
I, "that your Secretary had just cause to be offended at such an
ungentlemanlike attack, although he showed his good sense in treating
it with the contempt it deserved."
"It was plaguy lucky for the doctor, I tell you, that he cut his
stick as he did, and made himself scarce, for Alden was an ugly
customer; he'd a gi'n him a proper scalding; he'd a taken the
bristles off his hide, as clean as the skin of a spring shote of
a pig killed at Christmas."
The Clockmaker was evidently excited by his own story, and to
indemnify himself for these remarks on his countrymen, he indulged
for some time in ridiculing the Nova Scotians.
"Do you see that 'ere flock of colts," said he, as we passed one of
those beautiful prairies that render the valleys of Nova Scotia so
verdant and so fertile. "Well, I guess they keep too much of that
'ere stock. I heerd an Indian one day ax a tavern-keeper for some
rum. 'Why, Joe Spawdeeck,' said he, 'I reckon you have got too much
already.' 'Too much of anything,' said Joe, 'is not good; but too
much rum is jist enough.' I guess these Bluenoses think so about
their horses; they are fairly eat up by them, out of house and home,
and they are no good neither. They bean't good saddle horses, and
they bean't good draft beasts; they are jist neither one thing nor
t'other. They are like the drink of our Connecticut folks. At mowing
time they use molasses and water—nasty stuff, only fit to catch
flies; it spiles good water and makes bad beer. No wonder the folks
are poor. Look at them 'ere great dykes; well, they all go to feed
horses; and look at their grain fields on the upland; well, they are
all sowed with oats to feed horses, and they buy their bread from
us: so we feed the asses, and they feed the horses. If I had them
critters on that 'ere marsh, on a location of mine, I'd jist
take my rifle and shoot every one on 'em—the nasty yo-necked,
cat-hammed, heavy-headed, flat-eared, crooked-shanked, long-legged,
narrow-chested, good-for-nothin' brutes; they ain't worth their
keep one winter. I vow, I wish one of these Bluenoses, with his
go-to-meetin' clothes on, coat-tails pinned up behind like a leather
blind of a Shay, an old spur on one heel, and a pipe stuck through
his hat-band, mounted on one of these limber-timbered critters, that
moves its hind legs like a hen scratchin' gravel, was sot down in
Broadway, in New York, for a sight. Lord! I think I hear the West
Point cadets a-larfin' at him. 'Who brought that 'ere scare-crow out
of standin' corn and stuck him here?' 'I guess that 'ere citizen came
from away down east out of the Notch of the White Mountains.' 'Here
comes the Cholera doctor, from Canada—not from Canada, I guess,
neither, for he don't look as if he had ever been among the rapids.'
If they wouldn't poke fun at him it's a pity.
"If they'd keep less horses, and more sheep, they'd have food and
clothing, too, instead of buyin' both. I vow I've larfed afore now
till I have fairly wet myself a-cryin', to see one of these folks
catch a horse: may be he has to go two or three miles of an arrand.
Well, down he goes on the dyke with a bridle in one hand, and an old
tin pan in another, full of oats, to catch his beast. First he goes
to one flock of horses, and then to another, to see if he can find
his own critter. At last he gets sight on him, and goes softly up to
him, shakin' of his oats, and a-coaxin' him, and jist as he goes to
put his hand upon him, away he starts all head and tail, and the rest
with him: that starts another flock, and they set a third off, and
at last every troop on 'em goes, as if Old Nick was arter them, till
they amount to two or three hundred in a drove. Well, he chases them
clear across the Tantramer marsh, seven miles good, over ditches,
creeks, mire holes, and flag ponds, and then they turn and take a
fair chase for it back again, seven miles more. By this time, I
presume, they are all pretty considerably well tired, and Bluenose,
he goes and gets up all the men folks in the neighbourhood, and
catches his beast, as they do a moose arter he is fairly run down;
so he runs fourteen miles, to ride two, because he is in a tarnation
hurry. It's e'enamost equal to eatin' soup with a fork, when you are
short of time. It puts me in mind of catching birds by sprinklin'
salt on their tails; it's only one horse a man can ride out of half
a dozen, arter all. One has no shoes, t'other has a colt, one ain't
broke, another has a sore back, while a fifth is so etarnal cunnin',
all Cumberland couldn't catch him, till winter drives him up to the
barn for food.
"Most of them 'ere dyke marshes have what they call 'honey pots' in
'em; that is a deep hole all full of squash, where you can't find no
bottom. Well, every now and then, when a feller goes to look for his
horse, he sees his tail a-stickin' right out an eend, from one of
these honey pots, and wavin' like a head of broom corn; and sometimes
you see two or three trapped there, e'enamost smothered, everlastin'
tired, half swimmin' half wadin', like rats in a molasses cask. When
they find 'em in that 'ere pickle, they go and get ropes, and tie
'em tight round their necks, and half hang 'em to make 'em float,
and then haul 'em out. Awful lookin' critters they be, you may
depend, when they do come out; for all the world like half-drowned
kittens—all slinkey slimey, with their great long tails glued up
like a swab of oakum dipped in tar. If they don't look foolish it's
a pity! Well, they have to nurse these critters all winter, with hot
mashes, warm covering, and what not, and when spring comes, they
mostly die, and if they don't they are never no good arter. I wish
with all my heart half the horses in the country were barrelled up in
these here 'honey pots,' and then there'd be near about one half too
many left for profit. Jist look at one of these barn yards in the
spring—half a dozen half-starved colts, with their hair lookin' a
thousand ways for Sunday, and their coats hangin' in tatters, and
half a dozen good-for-nothin' old horses, a-crowdin' out the cows
"Can you wonder that people who keep such an unprofitable stock, come
out of the small eend of the horn in the long run?"
The Road to a Woman's Heart—The Broken Heart.
As we approached the inn at Amherst, the Clockmaker grew uneasy.
"It's pretty well on in the evening, I guess," said he, "and Marm
Pugwash is as onsartain in her temper as a mornin' in April; it's all
sunshine or all clouds with her, and if she's in one of her tantrums,
she'll stretch out her neck and hiss, like a goose with a flock of
goslins. I wonder what on airth Pugwash was a-thinkin' on, when he
signed articles of partnership with that 'ere woman; she's not a
bad-lookin' piece of furniture neither, and it's a proper pity sich
a clever woman should carry such a stiff upper lip—she reminds me
of our old minister Joshua Hopewell's apple trees.
"The old minister had an orchard of most particular good fruit, for
he was a great hand at buddin', graftin', and what not, and the
orchard (it was on the south side of the house) stretched right up to
the road. Well, there were some trees hung over the fence, I never
seed such bearers, the apples hung in ropes, for all the world like
strings of onions, and the fruit was beautiful. Nobody touched the
minister's apples, and when other folks lost their'n from the boys,
his'n always hung there like bait to a hook, but there never was so
much as a nibble at 'em. So I said to him one day, 'Minister,' said
I, 'how on airth do you manage to keep your fruit that's so exposed,
when no one else can do it no how?' 'Why,' says he, 'they are
dreadful pretty fruit, ain't they?' 'I guess,' said I, 'there ain't
the like on 'em in all Connecticut.' 'Well,' says he, 'I'll tell you
the secret, but you needn't let on to no one about it. That 'ere row
next the fence, I grafted it myself, I took great pains to get the
right kind, I sent clean up to Roxberry, and away down to Squaw-neck
Creek for —-.' 'I know that, Minister,' said I (for I was afeared
he was a-goin' to give me day and date for every graft, being a
terrible long-winded man in his stories), 'I know that,' said I,
'but how do you preserve them?' 'Why, I was a-goin' to tell you,'
said he, 'when you stopped me. That 'ere outward row I grafted myself
with the choicest kind I could find, and I succeeded. They are
beautiful, but so etarnal sour, no human soul can eat them. Well,
the boys think the old minister's graftin' has all succeeded about
as well as that row, and they sarch no farther. They snicker at my
graftin', and I laugh in my sleeve, I guess, at their penetration.'
"Now, Marm Pugwash is like the minister's apples—very temptin' fruit
to look at, but desperate sour. If Pugwash had a watery mouth when he
married, I guess it's pretty puckery by this time. However, if she
goes to act ugly, I'll give her a dose of 'soft sawder,' that will
take the frown out of her frontispiece, and make her dial-plate as
smooth as a lick of copal varnish. It's a pity she's such a kickin'
devil, too, for she has good points: good eye—good foot—neat
pastern—fine chest—a clean set of limbs, and carries a good —-.
But here we are; now you'll see what 'soft sawder' will do."
When we entered the house, the traveller's room was all in darkness,
and on opening the opposite door into the sitting-room, we found the
female part of the family extinguishing the fire for the night. Mrs.
Pugwash had a broom in her hand, and was in the act (the last act of
female housewifery) of sweeping the hearth. The strong flickering
light of the fire, as it fell upon her tall fine figure and beautiful
face, revealed a creature worthy of the Clockmaker's comments.
"Good evening, Marm," said Mr. Slick, "how do you do, and how's Mr.
"He," said she, "why he's been abed this hour, you don't expect to
disturb him this time of night I hope?"
"Oh no," said Mr. Stick, "certainly not, and I am sorry to have
disturbed you, but we got detained longer than we expected; I am
"So am I," said she, "but if Mr. Pugwash will keep an inn when he has
no occasion to, his family can't expect no rest."
Here the Clockmaker, seeing the storm gathering, stooped down
suddenly, and staring intently, held out his hand and exclaimed,
"Well if that ain't a beautiful child! Come here, my little man and
shake hands along with me; well, I declare if that 'ere little feller
ain't the finest child I ever seed! What, not abed yet? Ah, you
rogue, where did you get them 'ere pretty rosy cheeks; stole 'em
from mamma, eh? Well, I wish my old mother could see that child,
it is such a treat. In our country," said he, turning to me, "the
children are all as pale as chalk, or as yeller as an orange. Lord,
that 'ere little feller would be a show in our country—come to me my
man." Here the "soft sawder" began to operate. Mrs. Pugwash said in a
milder tone than we had yet heard, "Go, my dear to the gentleman; go,
dear." Mr. Slick kissed him, asked him if he would go to the States
along with him, told him all the little girls there would fall in
love with him, for they didn't see such a beautiful face once in a
month of Sundays. "Black eyes—let me see—ah mamma's eyes too, and
black hair also; as I am alive, why you are mamma's own boy—the very
image of mamma."
"Do be seated, gentlemen," said Mrs. Pugwash. "Sally make a fire in
the next room."
"She ought to be proud of you," he continued. "Well, if I live to
return here, I must paint your face, and have it put on my clocks,
and our folks will buy the clocks for the sake of the face. Did you
ever see," said he, again addressing me, "such a likeness between
one human and another, as between this beautiful little boy and his
"I am sure you have had no supper," said Mrs. Pugwash to me; "you
must be hungry and weary, too—I will get you a cup of tea."
"I am sorry to give you so much trouble," said I.
"Not the least trouble in the world," she replied, "on the contrary
We were then shown into the next room, where the fire was now blazing
up, but Mr. Slick protested he could not proceed without the little
boy, and lingered behind me to ascertain his age, and concluded by
asking the child if he had any aunts that looked like mamma.
As the door closed, Mr. Slick said, "It's a pity she don't go well
in gear. The difficulty with those critters is to get them to start,
arter that there is no trouble with them if you don't check 'em too
short. If you do, they'll stop again, run back and kick like mad, and
then Old Nick himself wouldn't start 'em. Pugwash, I guess, don't
understand the natur' of the critter; she'll never go kind in harness
for him. When I see a child," said the Clockmaker, "I always feel
safe with these women folk; for I have always found that the road to
a woman's heart lies through her child."
"You seem," said I, "to understand the female heart so well, I make
no doubt you are a general favourite among the fair sex."
"Any man," he replied, "that understands horses, has a pretty
considerable fair knowledge of women too, for they are jist alike in
temper, and require the very identical same treatment. Encourage the
timid ones, be gentle and steady with the fractious, but lather the
sulky ones like blazes.
"People talk an everlastin' sight of nonsense about wine, women and
horses. I've bought and sold 'em all, I've traded in all of them, and
I tell you, there ain't one in a thousand that knows a grain about
either on 'em. You hear folks say, oh, such a man is an ugly-grained
critter—he'll break his wife's heart; jist as if a woman's heart was
as brittle as a pipe stalk. The female heart, as far as my experience
goes, is jist like a new India rubber shoe; you may pull and pull at
it, till it stretches out a yard long, and then let go, and it will
fly right back to its old shape. Their hearts are made of stout
leather, I tell you; there's a plaguy sight of wear in 'em.
"I never knowed but one case of a broken heart, and that was in
t'other sex, one Washington Banks. He was a sneezer. He was tall
enough to spit down on the heads of your grenadiers, and near about
high enough to wade across Charlestown River, and as strong as a
towboat. I guess he was somewhat less than a foot longer than the
moral law and catechism too. He was a perfect pictur' of a man; you
couldn't falt him in no particular; he was so just a made critter;
folks used to run to the winder when he passed, and say 'There goes
Washington Banks, bean't he lovely?' I do believe there wasn't a gal
in the Lowell factories, that warn't in love with him. Sometimes, at
intermission, on Sabbath day, when they all came out together (an
amazin' hansom sight too, near about a whole congregation of young
gals), Banks used to say, 'I vow, young ladies, I wish I had five
hundred arms to reciprocate one with each of you; but I reckon I have
a heart big enough for you all; it's a whapper, you may depend, and
every mite and morsel of it at your service.' Well, how you do act,
Mr. Banks, half a thousand little clipper-clapper tongues would say,
all at the same time, and their dear little eyes sparklin', like so
many stars twinklin' of a frosty night.
"Well, when I last seed him, he was all skin and bone, like a horse
turned out to die. He was teetotally defleshed, a mere walkin'
skeleton. 'I am dreadful sorry,' says I, 'to see you, Banks, lookin'
so peecked; why you look like a sick turkey hen, all legs; what on
airth ails you?' 'I'm dyin',' says he, 'of a broken heart.' 'What,'
says I, 'have the gals been jiltin' you?' 'No, no,' says he, 'I
bean't such a fool as that neither.' 'Well,' says I, 'have you made a
bad speculation?' 'No,' says he, shakin' his head, 'I hope I have too
much clear grit in me to take on so bad for that.' 'What under the
sun, is it, then?' said I. 'Why,' says he, 'I made a bet the fore
part of summer with Leftenant Oby Knowles, that I could shoulder the
best bower of the Constitution frigate. I won my bet, but the Anchor
was so eternal heavy it broke my heart.' Sure enough he did die that
very fall, and he was the only instance I ever heerd tell of a broken
Cumberland Oysters Produce Melancholy Forebodings.
The "soft sawder" of the Clockmaker had operated effectually on the
beauty of Amherst, our lovely hostess of Pugwash's inn: indeed, I am
inclined to think, with Mr. Slick, that "the road to a woman's heart
lies through her child," from the effect produced upon her by the
praises bestowed on her infant boy.
I was musing on this feminine susceptibility to flattery, when the
door opened, and Mrs. Pugwash entered, dressed in her sweetest smiles
and her best cap, an auxiliary by no means required by her charms,
which, like an Italian sky, when unclouded, are unrivalled in
splendour. Approaching me, she said, with an irresistible smile,
"Would you like Mr. —-" (Here there was a pause, a hiatus, evidently
intended for me to fill up with my name; but that no person knows,
nor do I intend they shall; at Medley's Hotel, in Halifax, I was
known as the stranger in No. 1. The attention that incognito procured
for me, the importance it gave me in the eyes of the master of the
house, its lodgers and servants, is indescribable. It is only great
people who travel incog. State travelling is inconvenient and slow;
the constant weight of form and etiquette oppresses at once the
strength and the spirits. It is pleasant to travel unobserved, to
stand at ease, or exchange the full suit for the undress coat and
fatigue jacket. Wherever too there is mystery there is importance;
there is no knowing for whom I may be mistaken; but let me once give
my humble cognomen and occupation, and I sink immediately to my own
level, to a plebeian station and a vulgar name; not even my beautiful
hostess, nor my inquisitive friend, the Clockmaker, who calls me
"Squire," shall extract that secret!) "Would you like, Mr. —-"
"Indeed, I would," said I, "Mrs. Pugwash; pray be seated, and tell me
what it is."
"Would you like a dish of superior Shittyacks for supper?"
"Indeed I would," said I, again laughing; "but pray tell me what
"Laws me!" said she with a stare, "where have you been all your days,
that you never heerd of our Shittyack oysters? I thought everybody
had heerd of them."
"I beg pardon," said I, "but I understood at Halifax, that the only
oysters in this part of the world were found on the shores of Prince
"Oh! dear no," said our hostess, "they are found all along the coast
from Shittyack, through Bay of Vartes, away up to Ramshag. The latter
we seldom get, though the best; there is no regular conveyance, and
when they do come, they are generally shelled and in kegs, and never
in good order. I have not had a real good Ramshag in my house these
two years, since Governor Maitland was here; he was amazin' fond of
them, and lawyer Talkemdeaf sent his carriage there on purpose to
procure them fresh for him. Now we can't get them, but we have the
Shittyacks in perfection; say the word, and they shall be served up
A good dish and an unexpected dish is most acceptable, and certainly
my American friend and myself did ample justice to the oysters,
which, if they have not so classical a name, have quite as good a
flavour as their far famed brethren of Milton. Mr. Slick ate so
heartily, that when he resumed his conversation, he indulged in the
most melancholy forebodings.
"Did you see that 'ere nigger," said he, "that removed the oyster
shells? well, he's one of our Chesapickers, one of General Cuffy's
slaves. I wish Admiral Cockburn had a taken them all off our hands at
the same time. We made a pretty good sale of them 'ere black cattle,
I guess, to the British; I wish we were well rid of 'em all. The
blacks and the whites in the States show their teeth and snarl, they
are jist ready to fall to. The Protestants and Catholics begin to lay
back their ears, and turn tail for kickin'. The Abolitionists and
Planters are at it like two bulls in a pastur'. Mob-law and Lynch-law
are working like yeast in a barrel, and frothing at the bung hole.
Nullification and Tariff are like a charcoal pit, all covered up,
but burning inside, and sending out smoke at every crack, enough to
stifle a horse. General Government and State Government every now
and then square off and sparr, and the first blow given will bring a
genuine set-to. Surplus Revenue is another bone of contention; like
a shin of beef thrown among a pack of dogs, it will set the whole on
'em by the ears.
"You have heerd tell of cotton rags dipped in turpentine, havn't
you, how they produce combustion? Well, I guess we have the elements
of spontaneous combustion among us in abundance; when it does break
out, if you don't see an eruption of human gore, worse than Etna
lava, then I'm mistaken. There'll be the very devil to pay, that's
a fact. I expect the blacks will butcher the Southern whites, and
the Northerners will have to turn out and butcher them again; and
all this shoot, hang, cut, stab, and burn business will sweeten our
folks' temper, as raw meat does that of a dog—it fairly makes me
sick to think on it. The explosion may clear the air again, and all
be tranquil once more, but it's an even chance if it don't leave us
the three steamboat options: to be blown sky high, to be scalded to
death, or drowned."
"If this sad picture you have drawn be indeed true to nature, how
does your country," said I, "appear so attractive, as to draw to it
so large a portion of our population?"
"It ain't its attraction," said the Clockmaker; "it's nothin' but its
power of suction; it is a great whirlpool—a great vortex—it drags
all the straw and chips, and floatin' sticks, drift-wood and trash
into it. The small crafts are sucked in, and whirl round and round
like a squirrel in a cage—they'll never come out. Bigger ones pass
through at certain times of tide, and can come in and out with good
pilotage, as they do at Hell Gate up the Sound."
"You astonish me," said I, "beyond measure; both your previous
conversations with me, and the concurrent testimony of all my friends
who have visited the States, give a different view of it."
"YOUR FRIENDS!" said the Clockmaker, with such a tone of ineffable
contempt, that I felt a strong inclination to knock him down for
his insolence, "your friends! Ensigns and leftenants, I guess, from
the British marchin' regiments in the Colonies, that run over five
thousand miles of country in five weeks, on leave of absence, and
then return, lookin' as wise as the monkey that had seen the world.
When they get back they are so chock full of knowledge of the
Yankees, that it runs over of itself, like a Hogshead of molasses
rolled about in hot weather—a white froth and scum bubbles out of
the bung; wishy-washy trash they call tours, sketches, travels,
letters, and what not; vapid stuff, jist sweet enough to catch flies,
cockroaches, and half-fledged gals. It puts me in mind of my French.
I larnt French at night school one winter, of our minister, Joshua
Hopewell (he was the most larned man of the age, for he taught
himself e'enamost every language in Europe); well, next spring, when
I went to Boston, I met a Frenchman, and I began to jabber away
French to him: 'Polly woes a french say,' says I. 'I don't understand
Yankee yet,' says he. 'You don't understand!' says I, 'why it's
French. I guess you didn't expect to hear such good French, did you,
away down east here? But we speak it real well, and it's generally
allowed we speak English, too, better than the British.' 'Oh,' says
he, 'you one very droll Yankee, dat very good joke, Sare; you talk
Indian and call it French.' 'But,' says I, 'Mister Mount shear; it is
French, I vow; real merchantable, without wainy edge or shakes—all
clear stuff; it will pass survey in any market—it's ready stuck
and seasoned.' 'Oh, very like,' says he, bowin' as polite as a black
waiter at New OrLEENS, 'very like, only I never heerd it afore; oh,
very good French dat—CLEAR STUFF, no doubt, but I no understand—it's
all my fault, I dare say, Sare.'
"Thinks I to myself, a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. I
see how the cat jumps—Minister knows so many languages he hain't
been particular enough to keep 'em in separate parcels and mark 'em
on the back, and they've got mixed, and sure enough I found my French
was so overrun with other sorts, that it was better to lose the whole
crop than to go to weedin', for as fast as I pulled up any strange
seedlin', it would grow right up agin as quick as wink, if there was
the least bit of root in the world left in the ground, so I let it
all rot on the field.
"There is no way so good to larn French as to live among 'em, and if
you WANT TO UNDERSTAND US, YOU MUST LIVE AMONG US, TOO; your Halls,
Hamiltons, and De Rouses, and such critters, what can they know of
us? Can a chap catch a likeness flyin' along a railroad? Can he even
see the feature? Old Admiral Anson once axed one of our folks afore
our glorious Revolution (if the British had a known us a little
grain better at that time, they wouldn't have got whipped like a sack
as they did then), where he came from. 'From the Chesapeeke,' said he.
'Aye, aye,' said the Admiral, 'from the West Indies.' 'I guess,' said
the Southaner, 'you may have been clean round the world, Admiral, but
you have been plaguy little in it, not to know better nor that.'
"I shot a wild goose at River Philip last year, with the rice of
Varginny fresh in his crop; he must have cracked on near about as
fast as them other geese, the British travellers. Which know'd the
most of the country they passed over, do you suppose? I guess it
was much of a muchness—near about six of one and a half dozen of
t'other; two eyes ain't much better than one, if they are both blind.
"No, if you want to know all about us and the Bluenoses (a pretty
considerable share of Yankee blood in them too, I tell you; the old
stock comes from New England, and the breed is tolerable pure yet,
near about one half apple sarce, and t'other half molasses, all
except to the East'ard, where there is a cross of the Scotch), jist
ax me and I'll tell you candidly. I'm not one of them that can't see
no good points in my neighbour's critter, and no bad ones in my own;
I've seen too much of the world for that, I guess. Indeed, in a
general way, I praise other folks' beasts, and keep dark about my
own. Says I, when I meet Bluenose mounted, 'that's a real smart horse
of your'n, put him out, I guess he'll trot like mad.' Well, he lets
him have the spur, and the critter does his best, and then I pass
him like a streak of lightning with mine. The feller looks all taken
aback at that. 'Why,' says he, 'that's a real clipper of your'n, I
vow.' 'Middlin',' says I (quite cool, as if I had heard that 'ere
same thing a thousand times), 'he's good enough for me, jist a fair
trotter, and nothin' to brag of. That goes near about as far agin in
a general way, as a crackin' and a boastin' does. Never TELL folks
you can go a head on 'em, but DO it; it spares a great deal of talk,
and helps them to save their breath to cool their broth.
"No, if you want to know the inns and the outs of the Yankees—I've
wintered them and summered them; I know all their points, shape,
make and breed; I've tried 'em alongside of other folks, and I know
where they fall short, where they mate 'em, and where they have the
advantage, about as well as some who think they know a plaguy sight
more. It ain't them that stare the most, that see the best always, I
guess. Our folks have their faults, and I know them (I warn't born
blind, I reckon), but your friends, the tour writers, are a little
grain too hard on us. Our old nigger wench had several dirty,
ugly-lookin' children, and was proper cross to 'em. Mother used
to say, 'Juno, it's better never to wipe a child's nose at all, I
guess, than to wring it off.'"
The American Eagle.
"Jist look out of the door," said the Clockmaker, "and see what a
beautiful night it is, how calm, how still, how clear it is; bean't
it lovely? I like to look up at them 'ere stars, when I am away from
home; they put me in mind of our national flag, and it is generally
allowed to be the first flag in the univarse now. The British can
whip all the world, and we can whip the British. It's near about the
prettiest sight I know of, is one of our first class Frigates, manned
with our free and enlightened citizens all ready for sea; it's like
the great American Eagle, on its perch, balancing itself for a start
on the broad expanse of blue sky, afeared of nothin' of its kind, and
president of all it surveys. It was a good emblem that we chose,
There was no evading so direct, and at the same time, so conceited
an appeal as this. "Certainly," said I, "the emblem was well chosen.
I was particularly struck with it on observing the device on your
naval buttons during the last war—an eagle with an anchor in its
claws. That was a natural idea, taken from an ordinary occurrence:
a bird purloining the anchor of a frigate—an article so useful
and necessary for the food of its young. It was well chosen, and
exhibited great taste and judgment in the artist. The emblem is
more appropriate than you are aware of—boasting of what you cannot
perform—grasping at what you cannot attain—an emblem of arrogance
and weakness—of ill-directed ambition and vulgar pretension."
"It's a common phrase," said he with great composure, "among seamen,
to say 'Damn your buttons,' and I guess it's natural for you to say
so of the buttons of our navals; I guess you have a right to that
'ere oath. It's a sore subject, that, I reckon, and I believe I
hadn't ought to have spoken of it to you at all. Brag is a good dog,
but hold fast is a better one."
He was evidently annoyed, and with his usual dexterity gave vent
to his feelings by a sally upon the Bluenoses, who he says are a
cross of English and Yankee, and therefore first cousins to us both.
"Perhaps," said he, "that 'ere Eagle might with more propriety have
been taken off as perched on an anchor, instead of holding it in his
claws, and I think it would have been more nateral; but I suppose it
was some stupid foreign artist that made that 'ere blunder, I never
seed one yet that was equal to our'n. If that Eagle is represented as
trying what he can't do, it's an honourable ambition arter all, but
these Bluenoses won't try what they can do. They put me in mind of a
great big hulk of a horse in a cart, that won't put his shoulder to
the collar at all for all the lambastin' in the world, but turns his
head round and looks at you, as much as to say, 'what an everlastin'
heavy thing an empty cart is, isnt it?' An Owl should be their
emblem, and the motto, 'He sleeps all the days of his life.' The
whole country is like this night; beautiful to look at, but silent
as the grave—still as death, asleep, becalmed.
"If the sea was always calm," said he, "it would pyson the univarse;
no soul could breathe the air, it would be so uncommon bad. Stagnant
water is always unpleasant, but salt water when it gets tainted
beats all natur'; motion keeps it sweet and wholesome, and that our
minister used to say is one of the 'wonders of the great deep.' This
province is stagnant; it ain't deep like still water neither, for
it's shaller enough, gracious knows, but it is motionless, noiseless,
lifeless. If you have ever been to sea, in a calm, you'd know what
a plaguy tiresome thing it is for a man that's in a hurry. An
everlastin' flappin' of the sails, and a creakin' of the boombs, and
an onsteady pitchin' of the ship, and folks lyin' about dozin' away
their time, and the sea a-heavin' a long heavy swell, like the
breathin' of the chist of some great monster asleep. A passenger
wonders the sailors are so plagy easy about it, and he goes a-lookin'
out east, and a-spyin' out west, to see if there's any chance of a
breeze, and says to himself 'Well, if this ain't dull music it's a
pity.' Then how streaked he feels when he sees a steamboat a-clippin'
it by him like mad, and the folks on board pokin' fun at him, and
askin' him if he has any word to send to home. 'Well,' he says, 'if
any soul ever catches me on board a sail vessel again, when I can go
by steam, I'll give him leave to tell me of it, that's a fact.'
"That's partly the case here. They are becalmed, and they see us
going ahead on them, till we are e'enamost clean out of sight; yet
they hain't got a steamboat, and they hain't got a railroad; indeed,
I doubt if one half on 'em ever seed or heerd tell of one or t'other
of them. I never seed any folks like 'em except the Indians, and they
won't even so much as look—they havn't the least morsel of curiosity
in the world; from which one of our Unitarian preachers (they are
dreadful hands at DOUBTIN' them. I don't DOUBT but some day or
another, they will DOUBT whether everything ain't a DOUBT), in a very
learned work, doubts whether they were ever descended from Eve at
all. Old marm Eve's children, he says, are all lost, it is said, in
consequence of TOO MUCH curiosity, while these copper coloured folks
are lost from havin' TOO LITTLE little. How can they be the same?
Thinks I, that may be logic, old Dubersome, but it ain't sense,
don't extremes meet? Now these Bluenoses have no motion in 'em, no
enterprise, no spirit, and if any critter shows any symptoms of
activity, they say he is a man of no judgment, he's speculative, he's
a schemer, in short he's mad. They vegitate like a lettuce plant in
sarse garden, they grow tall and, spindlin', run to seed right off,
grow as bitter as gaul and die."
"A gal once came to our minister to hire as a house-help; says she,
'Minister, I suppose you don't want a young lady to do chamber
business and breed worms do you? For I've half a mind to take a spell
of livin' out.' She meant," said the Clockmaker, "house work and
rearing silk-worms. 'My pretty maiden,' says he, a-pattin' her on the
cheek (for I've often observed old men always talk kinder pleasant
to young women), 'my pretty maiden where was you brought up?' 'Why,'
says she, 'I guess I warn't brought up at all, I growed up.' 'Under
what platform,' says he (for he was very particular that all his
house-helps should go to his meetin'), 'under what Church platform?'
'Church platform!' says she, with a toss of her head, like a young
colt that's got a check of the curb, 'I guess I warn't raised under a
platform at all, but in as good a house as your'n, grand as you be.'
'You said well,' said the old minister, quite shocked, 'when you said
you growed up, dear, for you have grown up in great ignorance.' 'Then
I guess you had better get a lady that knows more than me,' says she,
'that's flat. I reckon I am every bit and grain as good as you be. If
I don't understand a bum-byx (silk-worm), both feedin', breedin', and
rearin', then I want to know who does, that's all; church platform
indeed!' says she; 'I guess you were raised under a glass frame in
March, and transplanted on Independence day, warn't you?' And off
she sot, lookin' as scorney as a London lady, and leavin' the poor
minister standin' starin' like a stuck pig. 'Well, well,' says he,
a-liftin' up both hands, and turnin' up the whites of his eyes like a
duck in thunder, 'if that don't bang the bush! It fearly beats sheep
shearin' arter the blackberry bushes have got the wool. It does, I
vow; them are the tares them Unitarians sow in our grain fields at
night; I guess they'll ruinate the crops yet, and make the grounds
so everlastin' foul; we'll have to pare the sod and burn it, to kill
the roots. Our fathers sowed the right seed here in the wilderness,
and watered it with their tears, and watched over it with fastin' and
prayer, and now it's fairly run out, that's a fact, I snore. It's got
choked up with all sorts of trash in, natur', I declare. Dear, dear,
I vow I never seed the beat o' that in all my born days.'
"Now the Bluenoses are like that 'ere gal; they have grown up,
and grown up in ignorance of many things they hadn't ought not to
know; and it's as hard to teach grown-up folks as it is to break a
six-year-old horse; and they do rile one's temper so—they act so
ugly that it tempts one sometimes to break their confounded necks;
it's near about as much trouble as it's worth."
"What remedy is there for all this supineness," said I; "how can
these people be awakened out of their ignorant slothfulness, into
"The remedy," said Mr. Slick, "is at hand—it is already workin' its
own cure. They must recede before our free and enlightened citizens
like the Indians; our folks will buy them out, and they must give
place to a more intelligent and ac-TIVE people. They must go to the
lands of Labrador, or be located back of Canada; they can hold on
there a few years, until the wave of civilization reaches them,
and then they must move again, as the savages do. It is decreed; I
hear the bugle of destiny a-soundin' of their retreat, as plain as
anything. Congress will give them a concession of land, if they
petition, away to Alleghany's backside territory, and grant them
relief for a few years; for we are out of debt, and don't know what
to do with our surplus revenue. The only way to shame them, that I
know, would be to sarve them as Uncle Enoch sarved a neighbour of his
"There was a lady that had a plantation near hand to his'n, and
there was only a small river atwixt the two houses, so that folks
could hear each other talk across it. Well, she was a dreadful
cross-grained woman, a real catamount, as savage as a she bear that
has cubs, an old farrow critter, as ugly as sin, and one that both
hooked and kicked too—a most particular onmarciful she-devil, that's
a fact. She used to have some of her niggers tied up every day,
and flogged uncommon severe, and their screams and screeches were
horrid—no soul could stand it; nothin' was heerd all day, but 'Oh
Lord Missus! Oh Lord Missus!' Enoch was fairly sick of the sound, for
he was a tender-hearted man, and says he to her one day, 'Now do marm
find out some other place to give your cattle the cowskin, for it
worries me to hear 'em take on so dreadful bad; I can't stand it, I
vow; they are flesh and blood as well as we be, though the meat is
a different colour.' But it was no good; she jist up and told him
to mind his own business, and she guessed she'd mind her'n. He was
determined to shame her out of it; so one mornin' after breakfast he
goes into the cane field, and says he to Lavender, one of the black
overseers, 'Muster up the whole gang of slaves, every soul, and bring
'em down to the whippin' post, the whole stock of them, bulls, cows
and calves.' Well, away goes Lavender, and drives up all the niggers.
'Now you catch it,' says he, 'you lazy villains; I tole you so
many a time—I tole you Massa he lose all patience wid you, you
good-for-nothin' rascals. I grad, upon my soul, I werry grad; you
mind now what old Lavender say anoder time.' The black overseers are
always the most cruel," said the Clockmaker; "they have no sort of
feeling for their own people.
"Well, when they were gathered there according to orders, they
looked streaked enough you may depend, thinkin' they were going to
get it all round, and the wenches they fell to a-cryin', wringin'
their hands, and boo-hooing like mad. Lavender was there with his
cowskin, grinnin' like a chessy cat, and crackin' it about, ready
for business. 'Pick me out,' says Enoch, 'four that have the loudest
voices.' 'Hard matter dat,' says Lavender, 'hard matter dat, Massa,
dey all talk loud, dey all lub talk more better nor work—de idle
villians; better gib 'em all a little tickle, jist to teach 'em larf
on t'other side of de mouth; dat side bran' new, they never use it
yet.' 'Do as I order you, sir,' said Uncle, 'or I'll have you triced
up, you cruel old rascal you.' When they were picked out and sot by
themselves, they hanged their heads, and looked like sheep goin' to
the shambles. 'Now, says Uncle Enoch, my pickininnies, do you sing
out as loud as Niagara, at the very tip eend of your voice—
'"Don't kill a nigger, pray,
Let him lib anoder day.
Oh Lord Missus—oh Lord Missus!
'"My back be very sore,
No stand it any more,
Oh Lord Missus—oh Lord Missus!"
And all the rest of you join chorus, as loud as you can bawl, "Oh
Lord Missus."' The black rascals understood the joke real well.
They larfed ready to split their sides; they fairly lay down on the
ground, and rolled over and over with lafter. Well, when they came
to the chorus 'Oh Lord Missus,' if they didn't let go, it's a pity.
They made the river ring agin—they were heerd clean out to sea. All
the folks ran out of the Lady's House, to see what on airth was the
matter on Uncle Enoch's plantation—they thought there was actilly a
rebellion there; but when they listened awhile, and heerd it over
and over again, they took the hint, and returned a-larfin' in their
sleeves. Says they, 'Master Enoch Slick, he upsides with Missus this
hitch anyhow.' Uncle never heerd anything more of 'Oh Lord Missus'
arter that Yes, they ought to be shamed out of it, those Bluenoses.
When reason fails to convince, there is nothin' left but ridicule.
If they have no ambition, apply to their feelings, slap a blister on
their pride, and it will do the business. It's like a-puttin' ginger
under a horse's tail; it makes him carry up real handSUM, I tell
you. When I was a boy, I was always late to school: well father's
preachin' I didn't mind much, but I never could bear to hear mother
say, 'Why Sam, are you actilly up for all day? Well, I hope your
airly risin' won't hurt you, I declare. What on airth is a-goin' to
happen now?' Well, wonders will never cease. It raised my dander; at
last says I, 'Now, mother, don't say that 'ere any more for gracious
sake, for it makes me feel ugly, and I'll get up as airly as any on
you,' and so I did, and I soon found what's worth knowin' in this
life—An airly start makes easy stages."
The Clockmaker's Opinion of Halifax.
The next morning was warmer than several that had preceded it. It was
one of those uncommonly fine days that distinguish an American autumn.
"I guess," said Mr. Slick, "the heat today is like a glass of mint
julip, with a lump of ice in it, it tastes cool and feels warm;
it's real good, I tell you. I love such a day as this dearly. It's
generally allowed the finest weather in the world is in America;
there ain't the beat of it to be found anywhere." He then lighted
a cigar, and throwing himself back on his chair, put both feet out
of the window, and sat with his arms folded, a perfect picture of
"You appear," said I, "to have travelled over the whole of this
Province, and to have observed the country and the people with much
attention; pray what is your opinion of the present state and future
prospects of Halifax?"
"If you will tell me," said he, "when the folks there will wake up,
then I can answer you, but they are fast asleep. As to the Province,
it's a splendid province, and calculated to go ahead, it will grow
as fast as a Varginny gal; and they grow so amazin' fast, if you put
your arm round one of their necks to kiss them, by the time you're
done, they've grown up into women. It's a pretty Province I tell you,
good above and better below; surface covered with pastures, meadows,
woods, and a 'nation sight of water privileges, and under the ground
full of mines—it puts me in mind of the soup at the TREE-mont House.
"One day I was a-walkin' in the Mall, and who should I meet but Major
Bradford, a gentleman from Connecticut, that traded in calves and
pumpkins for the Boston market. Says he, 'Slick, where do you get
your grub today?' 'At General Peep's tavern,' says I. 'Only fit for
niggers,' says he, 'why don't you come to the TREE-mont house, that's
the most splendid thing, it's generally allowed, in all the world.'
'Why,' says I, 'that's a notch above my mark; I guess it's too plagy
dear for me, I can't afford it no how.' 'Well,' says he, 'it's dear
in one sense, but it's dog cheap in another—it's a grand place for
speculation. There's so many rich southerners and strangers there
that have more money than wit, that you might do a pretty good
business there, without goin' out of the street door. I made two
hundred dollars this mornin' in little less than half no time.
There's a Carolina lawyer there, as rich as a bank, and says he to
me arter breakfast, "Major," says he, "I wish I knew where to get a
real slapping trotter of a horse, one that could trot with a flash
of lightning for a mile, and beat it by a whole neck or so." Says I,
"My Lord," for you must know, he says he's the nearest male heir to
a Scotch dormant peerage, "my Lord," says I, "I have one, a proper
sneezer, a chap that can go ahead of a railroad steamer, a real
natural traveller, one that can trot with the ball out of the small
eend of a rifle, and never break into a gallop." Says he, "Major,
I wish you wouldn't give me that 'ere nickname, I don't like it,"
though he looked as tickled all the time as possible; "I never knew,"
says he, "a lord that warn't a fool, that's a fact, and that's the
reason I don't go ahead and claim the title." "Well," says I, "my
Lord I don't know, but somehow I can't help a-thinkin', if you have
a good claim, you'd be more like a fool not to go ahead with it."
"Well," says he, "lord or no lord, let's look at your horse." So away
I went to Joe Brown's livery stable, at t'other eend of the city, and
picked out the best trotter he had, and no great stick to brag on
either; says I, "Joe Brown what do you ax for that 'ere horse?" "Two
hundred dollars," says he. "Well," says I, "I will take him out and
try him, and if I like him I will keep him." So I shows our Carolina
Lord the horse, and when he gets on him, says I, "Don't let him trot
as fast as he can, resarve that for a heat; if folks find out how
everlastin' fast he is, they'd be afeared to stump you for a start."
When he returned, he said he liked the horse amazinly, and axed the
price; "four hundred dollars," says I, "you can't get nothin' special
without a good price, pewter cases never hold good watches." "I know
it," says he, "the horse is mine." Thinks I to myself, that's more
than ever I could say of him then anyhow.'
"Well, I was goin' to tell you about the soup; says the Major, 'It's
near about dinner time, jist come and see how you like the location.'
There was a sight of folks there, gentlemen and ladies in the public
room—I never seed so many afore except at commencement day—all
ready for a start, and when the gong sounded, off we sot like a flock
of sheep. Well, if there warn't a jam you may depend; some one give
me a pull, and I near abouts went heels up over head, so I reached
out both hands, and caught hold of the first thing I could, and what
should it be but a lady's dress—well, as I'm alive, rip went the
frock, and tear goes the petticoat, and when I righted myself from
my beam eends, away they all came home to me, and there she was, the
pretty critter, with all her upper riggin' standin' as far as her
waist, and nothin' left below but a short linen under-garment. If she
didn't scream, it's a pity, and the more she screamed the more folks
larfed, for no soul could help larfin', till one of the waiters
folded her up in a tablecloth.
"'What an awkward devil you be, Slick,' says the Major; 'now that
comes of not falling in first; they should have formed four deep,
rear rank in open order, and marched in to our splendid national air,
and filed off to their seats right and left shoulders forward. I feel
kinder sorry, too,' says he, 'for that 'ere young heifer; but she
showed a proper pretty leg tho' Slick, didn't she? I guess you don't
often get such a chance as that 'ere.' Well, I gets near the Major at
table, and afore me stood a china utensil with two handles, full of
soup, about the size of a foot-tub, with a large silver scoop in it,
near about as big as a ladle of a maple sugar kettle. I was jist
about bailing out some soup into my dish, when the Major said, 'Fish
it up from the bottom, Slick.' Well, sure enough, I gives it a drag
from the bottom, and up come the fat pieces of turtle, and the thick
rich soup, and a sight of little forced meat balls of the size of
sheep's dung. No soul could tell how good it was; it was near about
as handSUM as father's old genuine particular cider, and that you
could feel tingle clean away down to the tip eends of your toes.
'Now,' says the Major, 'I'll give you, Slick, a new wrinkle on your
horn. Folks ain't thought nothin' of unless they live at Treemont:
it's all the go. Do you dine at Peep's tavern every day, and then off
hot foot to Treemont, and pick your teeth on the street steps there,
and folks will think you dine there. I do it often, and it saves two
dollars a day.' Then he put his finger on his nose, and says he, 'Mum
is the word.'
"Now, this Province is jist like that 'ere soup—good enough at top,
but dip down and you have the riches, the coal, the iron ore, the
gypsum, and what not. As for Halifax, it's well enough in itself,
though no great shakes neither, a few sizeable houses, with a proper
sight of small ones, like half a dozen old hens with their broods of
young chickens; but the people, the strange critters, they are all
asleep. They walk in their sleep, and talk in their sleep, and what
they say one day they forget the next; they say they were dreaming.
You know where Governor Campbell lives, don't you, in a large stone
house with a great wall round it, that looks like a state prison;
well, near hand there is a nasty dirty horrid-lookin' buryin' ground
there; it's filled with large grave rats as big as kittens, and the
springs of black water there go through the chinks of the rocks and
flow into all the wells, and fairly pyson the folks; it's a dismal
place, I tell you; I wonder the air from it don't turn all the silver
in the Governor's house of a brass colour—and folks say he has four
cart loads of it—it's so everlastin' bad; it's near about as nosey
as a slave ship of niggers. Well you may go there and shake the folks
to all etarnity and you won't wake 'em, I guess, and yet there ain't
much difference atween their sleep and the folks at Halifax, only
they lie still there and are quiet, and don't walk and talk in their
sleep like them above ground.
"Halifax reminds me of a Russian officer I once seed at Warsaw; he
had lost both arms in battle—but I guess I must tell you first
why I went there, 'cause that will show you how we speculate. One
Sabbath day, after bell ringin', when most of the women had gone
to meetin'—for they were great hands for pretty sarmons, and our
Unitarian ministers all preach poetry, only they leave the rhyme
out; it sparkles like perry—I goes down to East India wharf to see
Captain Zeek Hancock, of Nantucket, to enquire how oil was, and if
it it would bear doin' anything in; when who should come along but
Jabish Green. 'Slick,' says he, 'how do you do; isn't this as pretty
a day as you'll see between this and Norfolk; it whips English
weather by a long chalk;' and then he looked down at my watch seals,
and looked and looked as if he thought I'd stole 'em. At last he
looks up, and says he, 'Slick, I suppose you wouldn't go to Warsaw,
would you, if it was made worth your while?' 'Which Warsaw?' says I,
for I believe in my heart we have a hundred of 'em. 'None of our'n
at all,' says he; 'Warsaw in Poland.' 'Well, I don't know,' says I;
'what do you call worth while?' 'Six dollars a day, expenses paid,
and a bonus of one thousand dollars, if speculation turns out well.'
'I am off,' says I, 'whenever you say go.' 'Tuesday,' says he, 'in
the Hamburg packet. Now,' says he, 'I'm in a tarnation hurry; I'm
goin' a-pleasurin' today in the Custom House Boat, along with Josiah
Bradford's gals down to Nahant. But I'll tell you what I am at: the
Emperor of Russia has ordered the Poles to cut off their queues on
the 1st of January; you must buy them all up, and ship them off to
London for the wig makers. Human hair is scarce and risin'. 'Lord a
massy!' says I, 'how queer they will look, won't they. Well, I vow,
that's what the sea folks call sailing under bare poles, come true,
ain't it?' 'I guess it will turn out a good spec,' says he; and a
good one it did turn out—he cleared ten thousand dollars by it.
"When I was at Warsaw, as I was a-sayin', there was a Russian officer
there who had lost both his arms in battle; a good-natured contented
critter, as I e'enamost ever seed, and he was fed with spoons by his
neighbours, but arter awhile they grew tired of it, and I guess he
near about starved to death at last. Now Halifax is like that 'ere
SPOONEY, as I used to call him; it is fed by the outports, and they
begin to have enough to do to feed themselves; it must larn to live
without 'em. They have no river, and no country about 'em; let them
make a railroad to Minas Basin, and they will have arms of their own
to feed themselves with. If they don't do it, and do it soon, I guess
they'll get into a decline that no human skill will cure. They are
proper thin now; you can count their ribs e'enamost as far as you can
see them. The only thing that will either make or save Halifax, is a
railroad across the country to Bay of Fundy.
"'It will do to talk of,' says one. 'You'll see it some day,' says
another. 'Yes,' says a third, 'it will come, but we are too young
"Our old minister had a darter, a real clever-lookin' gal as you'd
see in a day's ride, and she had two or three offers of marriage from
'sponsible men—most particular good specs—but minister always said,
'Phoebe, you are too young—the day will come—but you are too young
yet dear.' Well, Phoebe didn't think so at all; she said she guessed
she knew better nor that: so the next offer she had, she said she had
no notion to lose another chance—off she shot to Rhode Island and
got married. Says she, 'Father's too old, he don't know.' That's jist
the case at Halifax. The old folks say the country is too young, the
time will come, and so on; and in the meantime the young folks won't
wait, and run off to the States, where the maxim is, 'Youth is the
time for improvement; a new country is never too young for exertion;
push on—keep movin—go ahead.'
"Darn it all," said the Clockmaker, rising with great animation,
clinching his fist, and extending his arm, "darn it all, it
fairly makes my dander rise, to see the nasty idle, loungin'
good-for-nothin', do-little critters; they ain't fit to tend a
bear-trap, I vow. They ought to be quilted round and round a room,
like a lady's lap-dog, the matter of two hours a day, to keep them
from dyin' of apoplexy."
"Hush, hush!" said I, "Mr. Slick, you forget."
"Well," said he, resuming his usual composure, "well, it's enough to
make one vexed though, I declare—isn't it?"
Mr. Slick has often alluded to this subject, and always in a most
decided manner. I am inclined to think he is right. Mr. Howe's papers
on the railroad I read till I came to his calculations, but I never
could read figures, "I can't cipher," and there I paused; it was a
barrier: I retreated a few paces, took a running leap, and cleared
the whole of them. Mr. Slick says he has UNDER and not OVER rated its
advantages. He appears to be such a shrewd, observing, intelligent
man, and so perfectly at home on these subjects, that I confess I
have more faith in this humble but eccentric Clockmaker, than in any
other man I have met with in this Province. I therefore pronounce
"there will be a railroad."
Sayings and Doings in Cumberland.
"I reckon," said the Clockmaker, as we strolled through Amherst, "you
have read Hook's story of the boy that one day asked one of his
father's guests who his next door neighbour was, and when he heerd
his name, asked him if he warn't a fool. 'No, my little feller,' said
he, 'he bean't a fool, he is a most particular sensible man; but why
did you ax that 'ere question?' 'Why,' said the little boy, 'mother
said t'other day you were next door to a fool, and I wanted to know
who lived next door to you.' His mother felt pretty ugly, I guess,
when she heerd him run right slap on that 'ere breaker.
"Now these Cumberland folks have curious next door neighbours, too;
they are placed by their location right atwixt fire and water; they
have New Brunswick politics on one side, and Nova Scotia politics
on t'other side of them, and Bay Fundy and Bay Varte on t'other two
sides; they are actilly in hot water; they are up to their cruppers
in politics, and great hands for talking of House of Assembly,
political Unions, and what not. Like all folks who wade so deep, they
can't always tell the natur' of the ford. Sometimes they strike their
shins agin a snag of a rock; at other times they go whap into a
quicksand, and if they don't take special care they are apt to go
souse over head and ears into deep water. I guess if they'd talk more
of ROTATION, and less of ELECTIONS, more of them 'ere DYKES, and less
of BANKS, and attend more to TOP-DRESSING, and less to RE-DRESSING,
it'd be better for 'em."
"Now you mention the subject, I think I have observed," said I, "that
there is a great change in your countrymen in that respect. Formerly,
whenever you met an American, you had a dish of politics set before
you, whether you had an appetite for it or not; but lately I have
remarked they seldom allude to it. Pray to what is this
"I guess," said he, "they have enough of it to home, and are sick
of the subject. They are cured the way our pastry cooks cure their
'prentices of stealing sweet notions out of their shops. When they
get a new 'prentice they tell him he must never so much as look at
all them 'ere nice things; and if he dares to lay the weight of his
finger upon one on 'em, they'll have him up for it before a justice;
they tell him it's every bit and grain as bad as stealing from a
till. Well, that's sure to set him at it, just as a high fence does a
breachy ox, first to look over it, and then to push it down with its
rump; it's human natur'. Well, the boy eats and eats till he can't eat
no longer, and then he gets sick at his stomach, and hates the very
sight of sweetmeats arterwards.
"We've had politics with us, till we're dog sick of 'em, I tell you.
Besides, I guess we are as far from perfection as when we set out
a-rowin' for it. You may get purity of Election, but how are you to
get purity of Members? It would take a great deal of ciphering to
tell that. I never seed it yet, and never heerd tell of one who had
"The best member I e'enamost ever seed was John Adams. Well, John
Adams could no more plough a straight furrow in politics than he
could haul the plough himself. He might set out straight at beginnin'
for a little way, but he was sure to get crooked afore he got to the
eend of the ridge—and sometimes he would have two or three crooks in
it. I used to say to him, 'How on airth is it, Mr. Adams'—for he was
no way proud like, though he was president of our great nation, and
it is allowed to be the greatest nation in the world, too; for you
might see him sometimes of an arternoon, a-swimmin' along with the
boys in the Potomac; I do believe that's the way he larned to give
the folks the dodge so spry—well, I used to say to him, 'How on
airth is it, Mr. Adams, you can't make straight work on it?' He was a
grand hand at an excuse, though minister used to say that folks that
were good at an excuse, were seldom good for nothin' else; sometimes
he said the ground was so tarnation stony, it throwed the plough out;
at other times he said the off ox was such an ugly wilful-tempered
critter, there was no doin' nothin' with him; or that there was so
much machinery about the plough, it made it plagy hard to steer; or
maybe it was the fault of them that went afore him, that they laid it
down so bad; unless he was hired for another term of four years, the
work wouldn't look well; and if all them 'ere excuses wouldn't do,
why he would take to scolding the nigger that drove the team, throw
all the blame on him, and order him to have an everlastin' lacin'
with the cowskin. You might as well catch a weasel asleep as catch
him. He had somethin' the matter with one eye; well, he knew I know'd
that when I was a boy; so one day, a feller presented a petition to
him, and he told him it was very affectin'. Says he, 'it fairly draws
tears from me,' and his weak eye took to lettin' off its water like
statiee so as soon as the chap went, he winks to me with t'other one,
quite knowin', as much as to say, 'You see it's all in my eye, Slick,
but don't let on to any one about it, that I said so.' That eye was a
regular cheat, a complete New England wooden nutmeg. Folks said Mr.
Adams was a very tender-hearted man. Perhaps he was, but I guess that
eye didn't pump its water out o' that place.
"Members in general ain't to be depended on, I tell you. Politics
makes a man as crooked as a pack does a peddler; not that they are so
awful heavy, neither, but it TEACHES A MAN TO STOOP IN THE LONG RUN.
Arter all, there's not that difference in 'em—at least there ain't
in Congress—one would think; for if one on 'em is clear of one
vice, why, as like as not, he has another fault just as bad. An
honest farmer, like one of these Cumberland folks, when he goes
to choose atwixt two that offers for votes, is jist like the
flying-fish. That 'ere little critter is not content to stay to home
in the water, and mind its business, but he must try his hand at
flyin', and he is no great dab at flyin', neither. Well, the moment
he's out of water, and takes to flyin', the sea fowl are arter him,
and let him have it; and if he has the good luck to escape them, and
makes a dive into the sea, the dolphin, as like as not, has a dig at
him, that knocks more wind out of him than he got while aping the
birds, a plagy sight. I guess the Bluenose knows jist about as much
about politics as this foolish fish knows about flyin'. All the
critters in natur' are better in their own element.
"It beats cock-fightin', I tell you, to hear the Bluenoses, when
they get together, talk politics. They have got three or four evil
spirits, like the Irish Banshees, that they say cause all the
mischief in the province: the council, the banks, the house of
assembly and the lawyers. If a man places a higher valiation on
himself than his neighbours do, and wants to be a magistrate before
he is fit to carry the ink horn for one, and finds himself safely
delivered of a mistake, he says it is all owing to the Council. The
members are cunnin' critters, too; they know this feelin', and when
they come home from Assembly, and people ax 'em, 'where are all them
'ere fine things you promised us?' 'Why,' they say, 'we'd a had 'em
all for you, but for that etarnal Council, they nullified all we
did.' The country will come to no good till them chaps show their
respect for it, by covering their bottoms with homespun. If a man is
so tarnation lazy he won't work, and in course has no money, why he
says it's all owin' to the banks, they won't discount, there's no
money, they've ruined the Province. If there bean't a road made up to
every citizen's door, away back to the woods—who as like as not has
squatted there—why he says the House of Assembly have voted all the
money to pay great men's salaries, and there's nothin' left for poor
settlers, and cross roads. Well, the lawyers come in for their share
of cake and ale, too; if they don't catch it, it's a pity.
"There was one Jim Munroe of Onion County, Connecticut, a desperate
idle fellow, a great hand at singin' songs, a-skatin', drivin' about
with the gals, and so on. Well, if anybody's windows were broke, it
was Jim Munroe, if any man's horse lost a tail, or anybody's dog got
a kettle tied on to his'n, it was Jim Munroe, and if there were any
youngsters in want of a father, they were sure to be poor Jim's. Jist
so it is with the lawyers here; they stand Godfathers for every
misfortune that happens in the country. When there is a mad dog
a-goin' about, every dog that barks is said to be bit by the mad one,
so he gets credit for all the mischief that every dog does for three
months to come. So every feller that goes yelpin' home from a court
house, smartin' from the law, swears he is bit by a lawyer. Now there
may be something wrong in all these things—and it can't be otherwise
in natur'—in council, banks, house of assembly, and lawyers: but
change them all, and it's an even chance if you don't get worse ones
in their room. It is in politics as in horses; when a man has a beast
that's near about up to the notch, he'd better not swap him; if he
does, he's e'enamost sure to get one not so good as his own. My rule
is, I'd rather keep a critter whose faults I do know, than change him
for a beast whose faults I don't know."
The Dancing Master Abroad.
"I wish that 'ere black heifer in the kitchen would give over singing
that 'ere everlastin' dismal tune," said the Clockmaker, "it makes my
head ache. You've heerd a song afore now," said he, "havn't you, till
you was fairly sick of it? for I have, I vow. The last time I was
in Rhode Island—all the gals sing there, and it's generally allowed
there's no such singers anywhere; they beat the EYE-talians a long
chalk; they sing so high some on 'em, they go clear out o' hearin'
sometimes, like a lark—well, you heerd nothin' but 'Oh no, we never
mention her;' well, I grew so plaguy tired of it, I used to say to
myself, I'd sooner see it, than heer tell of it, I vow; I wish to
gracious you would 'never mention her,' for it makes me feel ugly
to hear that same thing for ever and ever and amen that way. Well,
they've got a cant phrase here, 'the schoolmaster is abroad,' and
every feller tells you that fifty times a day.
"There was a chap said to me not long ago, at Truro, 'Mr. Slick, this
Country is rapidly improving, "the schoolmaster is abroad now,"' and
he looked as knowin' as though he had found a mate's nest. 'So I
should think,' said I, 'and it would be jist about as well, I guess,
if he'd stay to home and mind his business, for your folks are so
consoomedly ignorant, I reckon he's abroad e'enamost all his time. I
hope when he returns, he'll be the better of his travels, and that's
more nor many of our young folks are who go "abroad," for they import
more airs and nonsense than they dispose of one while, I tell you;
some of the stock remains on hand all the rest of their lives.'
There's nothin' I hate so much as cant, of all kinds, it's a sure
sign of a tricky disposition. If you see a feller cant in religion,
clap your hand into your pocket, and lay right hold of your puss,
or he'll steal it as sure as you're alive; and if a man cant in
politics, he'll sell you if he gets a chance, you may depend. Law
and physic are jist the same, and every mite and morsel as bad. If
a lawyer takes to cantin', it's like the fox preachin' to the geese,
he'll eat up his whole congregation; and if a doctor takes to it,
he's a quack as sure as rates. The Lord have massy on you, for he
won't. I'd sooner trust my chance with a naked hook any time, than
one that's half covered with bad bait. The fish will sometimes
swaller the one, without thinkin', but they get frightened at
t'other, turn tail and off like a shot.
"Now, to change the tune, I'll give the Bluenoses a new phrase.
They'll have an election most likely next year, and then 'the dancin'
master will be abroad.' A candidate is a most particular polite man,
a-noddin' here, and a-bowin' there, and a-shakin' hands all round.
Nothin' improves a man's manners like an election. 'The dancin'
master's abroad then;' nothin' gives the paces equal to that, it
makes them as squirmy as an eel, they cross hands and back agin, set
to their partners and right and left in great style, and slick it off
at the eend, with a real complete bow, and a smile for all the world
as sweet as a cat makes at a pan of new milk. Then they get as full
of compliments as a dog is full of fleas—enquirin' how the old lady
is to home, and the little boy that made such a wonderful smart
answer, they never can forget it till next time; a-praisin' a man's
farm to the nines, and a-tellin' of him, how scandalous the road that
leads to his location has been neglected, and how much he wants to
find a real complete hand that can build a bridge over his brook, and
axin' him if HE ever built one. When he gets the hook baited with the
right fly, and the simple critter begins to jump out of water arter
it, all mouth and gills, he winds up the reel, and takes leave,
a-thinkin' to himself 'Now you see what's to the eend of my line, I
guess I'll know where to find you when I want you.'
"There's no sort of fishin' requires so much practice as this. When
bait is scarce one worm must answer for several fish. A handful of
oats in a pan, arter it brings one horse up in a pastur' for the
bridle, serves for another, a-shakin' of it, is better than a-givin'
of it, it saves the grain for another time. It's a poor business
arter all, is electioneering, and when 'the Dancin' Master is
abroad,' he's as apt to teach a man to cut capers and get larfed at
as anything else. It ain't every one that's soople enough to dance
real complete. Politics take a great deal of time, and grind away a
man's honesty near about as fast as cleaning a knife with brick dust,
'it takes its steel out.' What does a critter get arter all for it
in this country, why nothin' but expense and disappointment. As King
Solomon says—and that 'ere man was up to a thing or two, you may
depend, though our professor did say he warn't so knowin' as Uncle
Sam—it's all vanity and vexation of spirit.
"I raised a four-year-old colt once, half blood, a perfect pictur' of
a horse, and a genuine clipper, could gallop like the wind; a real
daisy, a perfect doll; had an eye like a weasel, and nostril like
Commodore Rodgers' speakin' trumpet. Well, I took it down to the
races at New York, and father he went along with me; for says he,
'Sam, you don't know everything, I guess, you hain't cut your wisdom
teeth yet, and you are goin' among them that's had 'em through their
gums this while past.' Well, when we gets to the races, father he
gets colt and puts him in an old wagon, with a worn out Dutch
harness, and breast band; he looked like Old Nick, that's a fact.
Then he fastened a head martingale on, and buckled it to the girths
atwixt his fore legs. Says I, 'Father, what on airth are you at? I
vow I feel ashamed to be seen with such a catamaran as that, and colt
looks like old Satan himself—no soul would know him.' 'I guess I
warn't born yesterday, Sam,' says he, 'let me be, I know what I am at.
I guess I'll slip it into 'em afore I've done as slick as a whistle.
I guess I can see as far into a millstone as the best on 'em.'
"Well, father never entered the horse at all, but stood by and seed
the races, and the winnin' horse was followed about by the matter of
two or three thousand people, a-praisin' of him and admirin' him.
They seemed as if they never had seed a horse afore. The owner of him
was all up on eend a-boastin' of him, and a-stumpin' the course to
produce a horse to run agin him for four hundred dollars. Father goes
up to him, lookin' as soft as dough, and as meechin' as you please,
and says he, 'Friend, it ain't every one that has four hundred
dollars; it's a plaguy sight of money, I tell you; would you run for
one hundred dollars, and give me a little start? If you would, I'd
try my colt out of my old wagon agin you, I vow.' 'Let's look at your
horse,' says he; so away they went, and a proper sight of people
arter them to look at colt, and when they seed him they sot up such a
larf, I felt e'enamost ready to cry for spite. Says I to myself;
'What can possess the old man to act arter that fashion, I do believe
he has taken leave of his senses.' 'You needn't larf,' says Father,
'he's smarter than he looks; our Minister's old horse, Captain Jack,
is reckoned as quick a beast of his age as any in our location, and
that 'ere colt can beat him for a lick of a quarter of a mile quite
easy; I seed it myself.' Well, they larfed agin louder than before,
and says father, 'If you dispute my word, try me; what odds will you
give?' 'Two to one,' says the owner, 'eight hundred to four hundred
dollars.' 'Well, that's a great deal of money, ain't it,' says
father, 'if I was to lose it I'd look pretty foolish, wouldn't I.
How folks would pass their jokes at me when I went home again. You
wouldn't take that 'ere wagon and harness for fifty dollars of it,
would you?' says he. 'Well,' says the other, 'sooner than disappoint
you, as you seem to have set your mind on losing your money, I don't
care if I do.'
"As soon as it was settled, father drives off to the stables, and
then returns mounted, with a red silk pocket handkerchief tied round
his head, and colt a-looking like himself as proud as a nabob, chock
full of spring like the wire eend of a bran' new pair of trouser
galluses. One said, 'That's a plaguy nice lookin' colt that old
feller has arter all.' 'That horse will show play for it yet,' says a
third; and I heard one feller say, 'I guess that's a regular Yankee
trick, a complete take in.' They had a fair start for it, and off
they sot; father took the lead and kept it, and won the race, though
it was a pretty tight scratch, for father was too old to ride colt,
he was near about the matter of seventy years old.
"Well, when the colt was walked round after the race, there was an
amazin' crowd arter him, and several wanted to buy him; but, says
father, 'How am I to get home without him, and what shall I do with
that 'ere wagon and harness so far as I be from Slickville.' So he
kept them in talk, till he felt their pulses pretty well, and at
last he closed with a Southerner for seven hundred dollars, and we
returned, having made a considerable good spec of colt. Says father
to me, 'Sam,' says he, 'you seed the crowd a-follerin' the winnin'
horse, when we came there, didn't you?' 'Yes sir,' said I, 'I did.'
'Well, when colt beat him, no one follered him at all, but come
a-crowdin' about HIM. That's popularity,' said he, 'soon won, soon
lost—cried up sky high one minute, and deserted the next or run
down; colt will share the same fate. He'll get beat afore long, and
then he's done for. The multitude are always fickle-minded. Our
great Washington found that out, and the British officer that beat
Bonaparte, the bread they gave him turned sour afore he got half
through the loaf. His soap had hardly stiffened afore it ran right
back to lye and grease agin.
"'I was sarved the same way. I liked to have missed my pension; the
Committee said I warn't at Bunker's hill at all, the villans. That
was a Glo—-' Thinks I, old boy, if you once get into that 'ere
field, you'll race longer than colt, a plaguy sight; you'll run clear
away to the fence to the far eend afore you stop, so I jist cut in
and took a hand myself. 'Yes,' says I, 'you did 'em father, properly;
that old wagon was a bright scheme, it led 'em on till you got 'em on
the right spot, didn't it?' Says father, 'THERE'S A MORAL SAM, IN
EVERYTHING IN NATUR'. Never have nothin' to do with elections, you
see the vally of popularity in the case of that 'ere horse—sarve the
public nine hundred and ninety-nine times, and the thousandth, if
they don't agree with you, they desart and abuse you. See how they
sarved old John Adams, see how they let Jefferson starve in his old
age, see how good old Munroe like to have got right into jail, after
his term of President was up. They may talk of independence,' says
father, 'but Sam, I'll tell you what independence is,' and he gave
his hands a slap agin his trousers pocket, and made the gold eagles
he won at the race all jingle agin—'THAT!' says he, giving them
another wipe with his fist, and winkin', as much as to say, do you
hear that, my boy! 'THAT I CALL INDEPENDENCE.' He was in great
spirits, the old man, he was so proud of winnin' the race, and
puttin' the leake into the New Yorkers, he looked all dander. 'Let
them great hungry, ill-favoured, long-legged bitterns,' says he
(only he called them by another name that don't sound quite pretty),
'from the outlandish states to Congress, TALK ABOUT independence; but
Sam,' said he, hitting the shiners agin till he made them dance right
up an eend in his pocket, 'I LIKE TO FEEL IT.'
"'No Sam,' said he, 'line the pocket well first, make that
independent, and then the spirit will be like a horse turned out
to grass in the spring for the first time; he's all head and tail,
a-snortin' and kickin' and racin' and carryin' on like mad; it soon
gets independent too. While it's in the stall it may hold up, and
paw, and whinny, and feel as spry as anything, but the leather strap
keeps it to the manger, and the lead weight to the eend of it makes
it hold down its head at last. No,' says he, 'here's independence,'
and he gave the Eagles such a drive with his fist, he bust his pocket
and sent a whole raft of them a-spinnin' down his leg to the ground.
Says I, 'father,' and I swear I could hardly keep from larfin', he
looked so peskily vexed, 'Father,' says I, 'I guess there's a moral
in that 'ere too: EXTREMES NARY WAY ARE NONE O' THE BEST.' 'Well,
well,' says he, kinder snappishly, 'I suppose you're half right, Sam,
but we've said enough about it; let's drop the subject, and see if I
have picked 'em all up, for my eyes are none of the best now, I'm
near hand to seventy.'"
Mr. Slick's Opinion of the British.
"What success had you," said I, "in the sale of your clocks among
the Scotch in the eastern part of the Province? Do you find them as
gullible as the Bluenoses?"
"Well," said he, "you have heerd tell that a Yankee never answers one
question, without axing another, haven't you? Did you ever see an
English stage-driver make a bow? because if you hain't observed it, I
have, and a queer one it is, I swan. He brings his right arm up, jist
across his face, and passes on, with a knowin' nod of his head, as
much as to say, how do you do? but keep clear o' my wheels, or I'll
fetch your horses a lick in the mouth as sure as you're born; jist as
a bear puts up his paw to fend off the blow of a stick from his nose.
Well, that's the way I pass them 'ere bare-breeched Scotchmen. Lord,
if they were located down in these here Cumberland marshes, how
the mosquitoes would tickle them up, wouldn't they? They'd set 'em
scratching thereabouts, as an Irishman does his head, when he's in
sarch of a lie. Them 'ere fellers cut their eye-teeth afore they ever
sot foot in this country, I expect. When they get a bawbee, they know
what to do with it, that's a fact; they open their pouch and drop it
in, and it's got a spring like a fox-trap; it holds fast to all it
gets, like grim death to a dead nigger. They are proper skinflints,
you may depend. Oatmeal is no great shakes at best; it ain't even as
good for a horse as real yeller Varginny corn, but I guess I warn't
long in finding out that the grits hardly pay for the riddlin'. No, a
Yankee has as little chance among them as a Jew has in New England;
the sooner he clears out, the better. You can no more put a leake
into them, than you can send a chisel into teake wood; it turns the
edge of the tool the first drive. If the Bluenoses knew the value of
money as well as they do, they'd have more cash, and fewer clocks and
tin reflectors, I reckon.
"Now, it's different with the Irish; they never carry a puss, for
they never have a cent to put in it. They are always in love or in
liquor, or else in a row; they are the merriest shavers I ever seed.
Judge Beler—I dare say you have heerd tell of him; he's a funny
feller—he put a notice over his factory gate at Lowell, 'no cigars
or Irishmen admitted within these walls;' for, said he, 'The one will
set a flame a-goin' among my cottons, and t'other among my gals. I
won't have no such inflammable and dangerous things about me on no
account.' When the British wanted our folks to join in the treaty to
chock the wheels of the slave trade, I recollect hearin' old John
Adams say, we had ought to humour them; for, says he, 'They supply
us with labour on easier terms, by shippin' out the Irish.' Says he,
'They work better, and they work cheaper, and they don't live so
long. The blacks, when they are past work hang on for ever, and a
proper bill of expence they be; but hot weather and new rum rub out
the poor rates for t'other ones.'
"The English are the boys for tradin' with; they shell out their cash
like a sheef of wheat in frosty weather; it flies all over the
thrashin' floor; but then they are a cross-grained, ungainly, kickin'
breed of cattle, as I e'enamost ever seed. Whoever gave them the name
of John Bull, knew what he was about, I tell you; for they are
bull-necked, bull-headed folks, I vow; sulky, ugly tempered, vicious
critters, a-pawin' and a-roarin' the whole time, and plaguy onsafe
unless well watched. They are as headstrong as mules, and as
conceited as peacocks."
The astonishment with which I heard this tirade against my countrymen
absorbed every feeling of resentment. I listened with amazement at
the perfect composure with which he uttered it. He treated it as one
of those self-evident truths, that need neither proof nor apology,
but as a thing well known and admitted by all mankind.
"There's no richer sight that I know of," said he, "than to see one
on 'em when he first lands in one of our great cities. He swells out
as big as a balloon; his skin is ready to burst with wind—a regular
walking bag of gas; and he prances over the pavement like a bear over
hot iron; a great awkward hulk of a feller—for they ain't to be
compared to the French in manners—a-smirkin' at you, as much as to
say, 'Look here, Jonathan, here's an Englishman; here's a boy that's
got blood as pure as a Norman pirate, and lots of the blunt of both
kinds, a pocket full of one, and a mouthfull of t'other; bean't he
lovely?' and then he looks as fierce as a tiger, as much as to say,
'Say boo to a goose, if you dare.'
"No, I believe we may stump the univarse; we improve on everything,
and we have improved on our own species. You'll search one while, I
tell you, afore you'll find a man that, take him by and large, is
equal to one of our free and enlightened citizens. He's the chap
that has both speed, wind and bottom; he's clear grit—ginger to the
backbone, you may depend. It's generally allowed there ain't the beat
of them to be found anywhere. Spry as a fox, supple as an eel, and
cute as a weasel. Though I say it that shouldn't say it, they fairly
take the shine off creation—they are actilly equal to cash."
He looked like a man who felt that he had expressed himself so aptly
and so well, that anything additional would only weaken its effect;
he therefore changed the conversation immediately, by pointing to a
tree at some little distance from the house, and remarking that it
was the rock maple or sugar tree.
"It's a pretty tree," said he, "and a profitable one too to raise.
It will bear tapping for many years, tho' it gets exhausted at last.
This Province is like that 'ere tree, it is tapped till it begins
to die at the top, and if they don't drive in a spile and stop the
everlastin' flow of the sap, it will perish altogether. All the money
that's made here, all the interest that's paid in it, and a pretty
considerable portion of rent too, all goes abroad for investment, and
the rest is sent to us to buy bread. It's drained like a bog, it has
opened and covered trenches all through it, and then there's others
to the foot of the upland to cut off the springs.
"Now you may make even a bog too dry; you may take the moisture out
of it to that degree, that the very sile becomes dust and blows away.
The English funds, and our banks, railroads, and canals, are all
absorbing your capital like a sponge, and will lick it up as fast as
you can make it. That very bridge we heerd of at Windsor is owned in
New Brunswick, and will pay toll to that province. The capitalists
of Nova Scotia treat it like a hired house, they won't keep it in
repair; they neither paint it to preserve the boards, nor stop a leak
to keep the frame from rottin'; but let it go to wrack sooner than
drive a nail or put in a pane of glass. 'It will sarve our turn out,'
"There's neither spirit, enterprise, nor patriotism here; but the
whole country is as inactive as a bear in winter, that does nothin'
but scroutch up in his den, a-thinkin' to himself, 'Well if I ain't
an unfortunate devil, it's a pity; I have a most splendid warm coat
as e'er a gentleman in these here woods, let him be who he will;
but I got no socks to my feet, and I have to sit for everlastingly
a-suckin' of my paws to keep 'em warm; if it warn't for that, I
guess, I'd make some o' them chaps that have hoofs to their feet and
horns to their heads, look about them pretty sharp, I know.' It's
dismal now, ain't it? If I had the framin' of the Governor's message,
if I wouldn't show 'em how to put timber together you may depend, I'd
make 'em scratch their heads and stare, I know.
"I went down to Matanzas in the Fulton steamboat once; well, it was
the first of the kind they ever seed, and proper scared they were
to see a vessel, without sails or oars, goin' right straight ahead,
nine knots an hour, in the very wind's eye, and a great streak of
smoke arter her as long as the tail of a comet. I believe they
thought it was Old Nick alive, a-treatin' himself to a swim. You
could see the niggers a-clippin' it away from the shore, for dear
life, and the soldiers a-movin' about as if they thought that we were
a-goin' to take the whole country. Presently a little half-starved
orange-coloured lookin' Spanish officer, all dressed off in his
livery, as fine as a fiddle, came off with two men in a boat to board
us. Well, we yawed once or twice, and motioned to him to keep off for
fear he should get hurt; but he came right on afore the wheel, and I
hope I may be shot if the paddle didn't strike the bow of the boat
with that force, it knocked up the starn like a plank tilt, when one
of the boys playin' on it is heavier than t'other; and chucked him
right atop of the wheel-house. You never seed a feller in such a
dunderment in your life. He had picked up a little English from
seein' our folks there so much, and when he got up, the first thing
he said was,'Damn all sheenery, I say; where's my boat?' and he
looked round as if he thought it had jumped on board too. 'Your
boat?' said the captain, why I expect it's gone to the bottom, and
your men have gone down to look arter it, for we never seed or heerd
tell of one or t'other of them arter the boat was struck.' Yes, I'd
make 'em stare like that 'ere Spanish officer, as if they had seed
out of their eyes for the first time. Governor Campbell didn't expect
to see such a country as this when he came here, I reckon; I know he
"When I was a little boy, about knee high or so, and lived down
Connecticut river, mother used to say, 'Sam, if you don't give over
acting so like Old Scratch, I'll send you off to Nova Scotia as sure
as you are born; I will, I vow.' Well, Lord, how that 'ere used to
frighten me; it made my hair stand right up an eend, like a cat's
back when she is wrathy; it made me drop it as quick as wink; like
a tin night cap put on a dipped candle a-goin' to bed, it put the
fun right out. Neighbour Dearborne's darter married a gentleman to
Yarmouth, that speculates in the smugglin' line. Well, when she went
on board to sail down to Nova Scotia, all her folks took on as if it
was a funeral; they said she was goin' to be buried alive like the
nuns in Portengale that get a-frolickin', break out of the pastur',
and race off, and get catched and brought back agin. Says the old
Colonel, her father, 'Deliverance, my dear, I would sooner foller you
to your grave, for that would be an eend to your troubles, than to
see you go off to that dismal country, that's nothin' but an iceberg
aground;' and he howled as loud as an Irishman that tries to wake his
wife when she is dead. Awful accounts we have of the country, that's
a fact; but if the Province is not so bad as they make it out, the
folks are a thousand times worse.
"You've seen a flock of partridges of a frosty mornin' in the fall,
a-crowdin' out of the shade to a sunny spot, and huddlin' up there
in the warmth? Well, the Bluenoses have nothin' else to do half the
time but sun themselves. Whose fault is that? Why it's the fault
of the legislature; they don't encourage internal improvement, nor
the investment of capital in the country; and the result is apathy,
inaction and poverty. They spend three months in Halifax, and what do
they do? Father gave me a dollar once, to go to the fair at Hartford,
and when I came back, says he, 'Sam, what have you got to show for
it?' Now I ax what have they to show for their three months' setting?
They mislead folks; they make 'em believe all the use of the assembly
is to bark at councillors, judges, bankers, and such cattle, to keep
'em from eatin' up the crops; and it actilly costs more to feed them
when they are watchin', than all the others could eat if they did
break a fence and get in. Indeed some folks say they are the most
breachy of the two, and ought to go to pound themselves. If their
fences are good, them hungry cattle couldn't break through; and if
they ain't, they ought to stake 'em up, and with them well; but it's
no use to make fences unless the land is cultivated. If I see a farm
all gone to wrack, I say here's bad husbandry and bad management; and
if I see a Province like this, of great capacity, and great natural
resources, poverty-stricken, I say there's bad legislation.
"No," said he (with an air of more seriousness than I had yet
observed), "how much it is to be regretted, that, laying aside
personal attacks and petty jealousies, they would not unite as one
man, and with one mind and one heart apply themselves sedulously to
the internal improvement and developement of this beautiful Province.
Its value is utterly unknown, either to the general or local
Government, and the only persons who duly appreciate it are the
A Yankee Handle for a Halifax Blade.
"I met a man this mornin'," said the Clockmaker, "from Halifax, a
real conceited lookin' critter as you e'enamost ever seed, all shines
and didoes. He looked as if he had picked up his airs arter some
officer of the regilars had worn 'em out and cast 'em off. They sot
on him like second-hand clothes, as if they hadn't been made for him
and didn't exactly fit. He looked fine, but awkward, like a captain
of militia when he gets his uniform on, to play sodger; a-thinkin'
himself mighty handSUM, and that all the world is a-lookin' at him.
He marched up and down afore the street door like a peacock, as large
as life and twice as natural; he had a riding whip in his hand and
every now and then struck it agin his thigh, as much as to say,
'Ain't that a splendid leg for a boot, now? Won't I astonish the
Amherst folks, that's all?' Thinks I, 'You are a pretty blade, ain't
you? I'd like to fit a Yankee handle on to you, that's a fact.' When
I came up, he held up his head near about as high as a shot factory,
and stood with his fists on his hips, and eyed me from head to foot,
as a shakin' quaker does a town lady; as much as to say, 'What a
queer critter you be, that's toggery I never seed afore; you're some
carnal-minded maiden, that's sartain.'
"'Well,' says he to me, with the air of a man that chucks a cent into
a beggar's hat, 'a fine day this, sir.' 'Do you actilly think so?'
said I, and I gave it the real Connecticut drawl. 'Why,' said he,
quite short, 'if I didn't think so, I wouldn't say so.' 'Well,' says
I, 'I don't know, but if I did think so, I guess I wouldn't say so.'
'Why not?' says he. 'Because, I expect,' says I, 'any fool could see
that as well as me;' and then I stared at him, as much as to say,
'Now if you like that 'ere swap, I am ready to trade with you agin as
soon as you like.' Well, he turned right round on his heel and walked
off, a-whistlin' Yankee Doodle to himself. He looked jist like a man
that finds whistlin' a plaguy sight easier than thinkin'.
"Presently, I heard him ax the groom who that 'ere Yankee lookin'
feller was. 'That?' said the groom, 'why, I guess it's Mr. Slick.'
'Sho!' said he, 'how you talk. What! Slick the Clockmaker? why it
ain't possible; I wish I had a known that 'ere afore, I declare,
for I have a great curiosity to see him; folks say he is an amazin'
clever feller that;' and he turned and stared, as if it was old
Hickory himself. Then he walked round and about like a pig round
the fence of a potato field, a-watchin' for a chance to cut in; so,
thinks I, I'll jist give him something to talk about, when he gets
back to the city; I'll fix a Yankee handle on to him in no time.
"'How's times to Halifax, sir,' said I. 'Better,' says he, 'much
better. Business is done on a surer bottom than it was, and things
look bright agin.' 'So does a candle,' says I, 'jist afore it goes
out; it burns up ever so high and then sinks right down, and leaves
nothin' behind but grease, and an everlastin' bad smell. I guess they
don't know how to feed their lamp, and it can't burn long on nothin'.
No, sir, the jig is up with Halifax, and it's all their own fault. If
a man sits at his door, and sees stray cattle in his field, a-eatin'
up of his crop, and his neighbours, a-eatin' off his grain, and won't
so much as go and drive 'em out, why I should say it sarves him
"I don't exactly understand, sir,' said he. Thinks I, it would be
strange if you did, for I never see one of your folks yet that could
understand a hawk from a handsaw. 'Well,' says I, 'I will tell you
what I mean: draw a line from Cape Sable to Cape Cansoo, right
through the Province, and it will split it into two, this way;' and I
cut an apple into two halves; 'now,' says I, 'the worst half, like
the rotten half of the apple, belongs to Halifax, and the other and
sound half belongs to St. John. Your side of the province on the sea
coast is all stone; I never seed such a proper sight of rocks in my
life; it's enough to starve a rabbit. Well, t'other side on the Bay
of Fundy, is a superfine country; there ain't the beat of it to be
found anywhere. Now, wouldn't the folks living away up to the Bay, be
pretty fools to go to Halifax, when they can go to St. John with half
the trouble. St. John is the natural capital of the Bay of Fundy;
it will be the largest city in America next to New York. It has an
immense back country as big as Great Britain, a first chop river, and
amazin' sharp folks, most as cute as the Yankees; it's a splendid
location for business. Well, they draw all the produce of the Bay
shores, and where the produce goes the supplies return; they will take
the whole trade of the Province. I guess your rich folks will find
they've burnt their fingers; they've put their foot in it, that's
a fact. Houses without tenants, wharves without shipping, a town
without people—what a grand investment! If you have any loose
dollars, let 'em out on mortgage in Halifax, that's a security; keep
clear of the country for your life; the people may run, but the town
can't. No, take away the troops, and you're done; you'll sing the
dead march folks did at Louisburg and Shelburne. Why you hain't got
a single thing worth havin', but a good harbour, and as for that the
coast is full of 'em. You havn't a pine log, a spruce board or a
refuse shingle; you neither raise wheat, oats, or hay, nor never can;
you have no staples on airth, unless it be them iron ones for the
padlocks in Bridewell. You've sowed pride and reaped poverty; take
care of your crop, for it's worth harvestin'. You have no river and
no country, what in the name of fortin' have you to trade on?
"'But,' said he (and he showed the whites of his eyes like a
wall-eyed horse), 'but,' said he, 'Mr. Slick, how is it then, Halifax
ever grew at all! Hasn't it got what it always had? It's no worse
than it was.' 'I guess,' said I, 'that pole ain't strong enough to
bear you, neither; if you trust to that, you'll be into the brook, as
sure as you are born; you once had the trade of the whole Province,
but St. John has run off with that now; you've lost all but your
trade in blueberries and rabbits with the niggers at Hammond Plains.
You've lost your customers; your rivals have a better stand for
business—they've got the corner store; four great streets meet
there, and it's near the market slip.'
"Well, he stared; says he, 'I believe you're right, but I never
thought of that afore.' Thinks I, nobody'd ever suspect you of the
trick of thinkin' that ever I heerd tell of. 'Some of our great men,'
said he, 'laid it all to your folks' selling so many clocks and
Polyglot Bibles; they say you have taken off a horrid sight of
money.' 'Did they, indeed?' said I; 'well, I guess it ain't pins and
needles that's the expense of house-keepin', it is something more
costly than that.' 'Well, some folks say it's the banks,' says
he. 'Better still,' says I; 'perhaps you've hearn tell, too, that
greasin' the axle, makes a gig harder to draw, for there's jist
about as much sense in that.' 'Well then,' says he, 'others say it's
smugglin' has made us so poor.' 'That guess,' said I, 'is most as
good as t'other one; whoever found out that secret ought to get a
patent for it, for it's worth knowin'. Then the country has grown
poorer, hasn't it, because it has bought cheaper this year, than it
did the year before? Why, your folks are cute chaps, I vow; they'd
puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer, they are so amazin' knowin'.' 'Ah,'
said he, and he rubb'd his hands and smiled, like a young doctor,
when he gets his first patient; 'ah,' said he, 'if the timber duties
are altered, down comes St. John, body and breeches; it's built on
a poor foundation—it's all show; they are speculatin' like mad;
they'll ruin themselves.' Says I, 'if you wait till they're dead for
your fortin', it will be one while, I tell you, afore you pocket the
shiners. It's no joke waitin' for a dead man's shoes. Suppose an old
feller of eighty was to say, "When that 'ere young feller dies, I'm
to inherit his property," what would you think? Why, I guess you'd
think he was an old fool. No sir, if the English don't want their
timber we do want it all; we have used our'n up, we hain't got a
stick even to whittle. If the British don't offer we will, and St.
John, like a dear little weepin' widow, will dry up her tears, and
take to frolickin' agin and accept it right off.
"'There isn't at this moment such a location hardly in America, as
St. John; for beside all its other advantages, it has this great one:
its only rival, Halifax, has got a dose of opium that will send it
snoring out of the world, like a feller who falls asleep on the ice
of a winter's night. It has been asleep so long, I actilly think it
never will wake. It's an easy death too; you may rouse them up if you
like, but I vow I won't. I once brought a feller to that was drowned,
and one night he got drunk and quilted me; I couldn't walk for a
week. Says I, "You're the last chap I'll ever save from drowning in
all my born days, if that's all the thanks I get for it." No sir,
Halifax has lost the run of its custom. Who does Yarmouth trade with?
St. John. Who does Annapolis County trade with? St. John. Who do all
the folks on the Basin of Mines, and Bay shore, trade with? St. John.
Who does Cumberland trade with? St. John. Well Pictou, Lunenburg and
Liverpool, supply themselves, and the rest that ain't worth havin',
trade with Halifax. They take down a few half-starved pigs, old
viteran geese, and long legged fowls, some ram mutton and tough beef;
and swap them for tea, sugar, and such little notions for their old
women to home; while the railroads and canals of St. John are goin'
to cut off your Gulf Shore trade to Miramichi, and along there. Flies
live in the summer and die in winter, you're jist as noisy in war as
those little critters, but you sing small in peace.
"'No, you're done for; you are up a tree, you may depend; pride must
fall. Your town is like a ballroom arter a dance. The folks there eat,
drank, and frolicked, and left an empty house; the lamps and hangings
are left, but the people are gone.'
"'Is there no remedy for this?' said he; and he looked as wild as a
Cherokee Indian. Thinks I, the handle is fitted on proper tight now.
'Well,' says I, 'when a man has a cold, he had ought to look out
pretty sharp, afore it gets seated on his lungs; if he don't, he gets
into a gallopin' consumption, and it's gone goose with him. There is
a remedy, if applied in time: make a railroad to the Minas Basin, and
you have a way for your customers to get to you, and a conveyance for
your goods to them. When I was in New York last, a cousin of mine,
Hezekiah Slick, said to me, "I do believe Sam, I shall be ruined;
I've lost all my custom; they are widening and improving the streets,
and there's so many carts and people to work in it, folks can't come
to my shop to trade; what on airth shall I do? and I'm payin' a
dreadful high rent too?" "Stop Ki," says I, "when the street is all
finished off and slicked up, they'll all come back agin, and a whole
raft more on 'em too, you'll sell twice as much as ever you did;
you'll put off a proper swad of goods next year, you may depend;" and
so he did, he made money, hand over hand. A railroad will bring back
your customers, if done right off; but wait till trade has made new
channels, and fairly gets settled in them, and you'll never divart it
agin to all etarnity. When a feller waits till a gal gets married, I
guess it will be too late to pop the question then.
"'St. John MUST go ahead, at any rate; you MAY, if you choose, but
you must exert yourselves, I tell you. If a man has only one leg, and
wants to walk, he must get an artificial one. If you have no river,
make a railroad, and that will supply its place.'
"'But,' says he, 'Mr. Slick, people say it never will pay in the
world; they say it's as mad a scheme as the canal. 'Do they indeed?'
says I; 'send them to me then, and I'll fit the handle on to them in
tu tu's. I say it will pay, and the best proof is, our folks will
take tu thirds of the stock. Did you ever hear any one else but your
folks, ax whether a dose of medicine would pay when it was given to
save life? If that everlastin' long Erie canal can secure to New York
the supply of that far off country, most t'other side of creation,
surely a railroad of forty-five miles can give you the trade of the
Bay of Fundy. A railroad will go from Halifax to Windsor, and make
them one town, easier to send goods from one to t'other than from
Governor Campbell's House to Admiral Cockburn's. A bridge makes a
town, a river makes a town, a canal makes a town; but a railroad is
bridge, river, thoroughfare, canal, all in one; what a whappin' large
place that would make, wouldn't it? It would be the dandy, that's
a fact. No, when you go back, take a piece of chalk, and the first
dark night, write on every door in Halifax, in large letters—a
railroad—and if they don't know the meanin' of it, says you "It's a
Yankee word; if you'll go to Sam Slick, the Clockmaker" (the chap
that fixed a Yankee handle on to a Halifax blade'—and I made him a
scrape of my leg, as much as to say, That's you!) '"every man that
buys a clock shall hear all about a railroad."'"
The Grahamite and the Irish Pilot.
"I think," said I, "this is a happy country, Mr. Slick. The people
are fortunately all of one origin; there are no national jealousies
to divide, and no very violent politics to agitate them. They
appear to be cheerful and contented, and are a civil, good-natured,
hospitable race. Considering the unsettled state of almost every part
of the world, I think I would as soon cast my lot in Nova Scotia as
in any part I know of."
"It's a clever country, you may depend," said he, "a very clever
country; full of mineral wealth, aboundin' in superior water
privileges and noble harbours, a large part of it prime land, and it
is in the very heart of the fisheries. But the folks put me in mind
of a sect in our country they call the Grahamites; they eat no meat
and no exciting food, and drink nothin' stronger than water. They
call it Philosophy (and that is such a pretty word it has made fools
of more folks than them afore now), but I call it tarnation nonsense.
I once travelled all through the State of Maine with one of them 'ere
chaps. He was as thin as a whippin' post. His skin looked like a
blown bladder arter some of the air had leaked out, kinder wrinkled
and rumpled like, and his eye as dim as a lamp that's livin' on a
short allowance of ile. He put me in mind of a pair of kitchen tongs,
all legs, shaft and head, and no belly; a real gander-gutted lookin'
critter, as holler as a bamboo walkin' cane, and twice as yaller.
He actilly looked as if he had been picked off a rack at sea, and
dragged through a gimlet hole. He was a lawyer. Thinks I, the Lord a
massy on your clients, you hungry, half-starved lookin' critter you,
you'll eat 'em up alive as sure as the Lord made Moses. You are jist
the chap to strain at a goat and swallow a camel, tank, shank and
flank, all at a gulp.
"Well, when we came to an inn, and a beef steak was sot afore us for
dinner, he'd say, 'Oh that is too good for me, it's too exciting; all
fat meat is diseased meat, give me some bread and cheese.' 'Well,'
I'd say, 'I don't know what you call too good, but it ain't good
enough for me, for I call it as tuf as laushong, and that will bear
chawing all day. When I liquidate for my dinner, I like to get about
the best that's goin', and I ain't a bit too well pleased if I
don't.' Exciting indeed! thinks I. Lord, I should like to see you
excited, if it was only for the fun of the thing. What a temptin'
lookin' critter you'd be among the gals, wouldn't you? Why, you look
like a subject the doctor boys had dropped on the road arter they had
dug you up, and had cut stick and run for it.
"Well, when tea came, he said the same thing, 'It's too exciting,
give me some water, do; that's follorin' the law of natur'.' 'Well,'
says I, 'if that's the case, you ought to eat beef.' 'Why,' says
he, 'how do you make out that 'ere proposition?' 'Why,' says I, 'if
drinkin' water instead of tea is natur', so is eatin' grass accordin'
to natur'; now all flesh is grass, we are told, so you had better eat
that and call it vegetable; like a man I once seed who fasted on fish
on a Friday, and when he had none, whipped a leg o' mutton into the
oven, and took it out fish. Says he, "It's 'changed PLAICE,' that's
all," and "PLAICE" ain't a bad fish. The Catholics fast enough,
gracious knows, but then they fast on a great rousin' big splendid
salmon at two dollars and forty cents a pound, and lots of old
Madeira to make it float light on the stomach; there's some sense in
mortifying the appetite arter that fashion, but plagy little in your
way. No,' says I, 'friend, you may talk about natur' as you please;
I've studied natur' all my life, and I vow if your natur' could speak
out, it would tell you, it don't over half like to be starved arter
that plan. If you know'd as much about the marks of the mouth as
I do, you'd know that you have carniverous as well as graniverous
teeth, and that natur' meant by that, you should eat most anything
that 'ere door-keeper, your nose, would give a ticket to, to pass
into your mouth. Father rode a race at New York course, when he was
near hand to seventy—and that's more nor you'll do, I guess—and he
eats as hearty as a turkey-cock; and he never confined himself to
water neither, when he could get anything convened him better. Says
he, "Sam, grandfather Slick used to say there was an old proverb in
Yorkshire, 'A full belly makes a strong back,' and I guess if you try
it, natur' will tell you so too." If ever you go to Connecticut, jist
call into father's, and he'll give you a real right down genuine New
England breakfast, and if that don't happify your heart, then my
name's not Sam Slick. It will make you feel about among the stiffest,
I tell you. It will blow your jacket out like a pig at sea. You'll
have to shake a reef or two out of your waistban's and make good
stowage, I guess, to carry it all under hatches. There's nothin' like
a good pastur' to cover the ribs, and make the hide shine, depend
"Now this Province is like that 'ere Grahamite lawyer's beef, it's
too good for the folks that's in it; they either don't avail its
value or won't use it, because work ain't arter their 'law of natur'.'
As you say they are quiet enough (there's worse folks than the
Bluenoses, too, if you come to that), and so they had ought to be
quiet, for they have nothin' to fight about. As for politics, they
have nothin' to desarve the name; but they talk enough about it, and
a plaguy sight of nonsense they do talk, too.
"Now with us the country is divided into two parties, of the mammouth
breed—the INS and the OUTS, the ADMINISTRATION and the OPPOSITION.
But where's the administration here? Where's the war office, the
Foreign Office and the Home Office? Where's the Secretary of
the Navy? Where's the State Bank? Where's the Ambassadors and
Diplomatists (them are the boys to wind off a snarl of ravellins
as slick as if it were on a reel), and where's that Ship of State,
fitted up all the way from the forecastle clean up to the starn-post,
chock full of good snug berths, handsumly found and furnished, tier
over tier, one above another, as thick as it can hold? That's a helm
worth handlin', I tell you; I don't wonder that folks mutiny below,
and fight on the decks above for it; it makes a plaguy uproar the
whole time, and keeps the passengers for everlastinly in a state of
alarm for fear they'd do mischif by bustin' the b'iler, a-runnin'
aground, or gettin' foul of some other craft.
"This Province is better as it is, quieter and happier far; they have
berths enough and big enough; they should be careful not to increase
'em; and if they were to do it over agin, perhaps they'd be as well
with fewer. They have two parties here, the Tory party and the
Opposition party, and both on 'em run to extremes. Them radicals,
says one, are for levellin' all down to their own level, tho' not a
peg lower; that's their gage, jist down to their own notch and no
further; and they'd agitate the whole country to obtain that object,
for if a man can't grow to be as tall as his neighbour, if he cuts a
few inches off him why then they are both of one heighth. They are a
most dangerous, disaffected people; they are eternally appealin' to
the worst passions of the mob. Well, says t'other, them aristocrats,
they'll ruinate the country; they spend the whole revenue on
themselves. What with bankers, councillors, judges, bishops and
public officers, and a whole tribe of lawyers as hungry as hawks, and
jist about as marciful, the country is devoured as if there was a
flock of locusts a-feedin' on it. There's nothin' left for roads and
bridges. When a chap sets out to canvass, he's got to antagonize one
side or t'other. If he hangs on to the powers that be, then he's a
council man, he's for votin' large salaries, for doin' as the great
people at Halifax tell him. He is a fool. If he is on t'other side,
a-railin' at banks, judges, lawyers and such cattle, and bawlin' for
what he knows he can't get, then he is a rogue. So that, if you were
to listen to the weak and noisy critters on both sides, you'd believe
the House of Assembly was one half rogues and t'other half fools. All
this arises from ignorance. IF THEY KNEW MORE OF EACH OTHER, I GUESS
THEY'D LAY ASIDE ONE HALF THEIR FEARS AND ALL THEIR ABUSE. THE UPPER
CLASSES DON'T KNOW ONE HALF THE VIRTUE THAT'S IN THE MIDDLIN' AND
LOWER CLASSES; AND THEY DON'T KNOW ONE HALF THE INTEGRITY AND GOOD
FEELIN' THAT'S IN THE OTHERS, AND BOTH ARE FOOLED AND GULLED BY THEIR
OWN NOISY AND DESIGNIN' CHAMPIONS. Take any two men that are by the
ears, they opinionate all they hear of each other, impute all sorts
of onworthy motives, and misconstrue every act; let them see more of
each other, and they'll find out to their surprise, that they have
not only been lookin' through a magnifyin' glass that warn't very
true, but a coloured one also, that changed the complexion and
distorted the feature, and each one will think t'other a very good
kind of chap, and like as not a plaguy pleasant one too.
"If I was axed which side was farthest from the mark in this
Province, I vow I should be puzzled to say. As I don't belong to
the country, and don't care a snap of my finger for either of 'em,
I suppose I can judge better than any man in it, but I snore I
don't think there's much difference. The popular side—I won't say
patriotic, for we find in our steamboats a man who has a plaguy sight
of property in his portmanter, is quite as anxious for its safety, as
him that's only one pair of yarn stockings and a clean shirt, is for
his'n—the popular side are not so well informed as t'other, and they
have the misfortin' of havin' their passions addressed more than
their reason, therefore they are often out of the way, or rather
led out of it and put astray by bad guides; well, t'other side have
the prejudices of birth and education to dim their vision, and are
alarmed to undertake a thing from the dread of ambush or open foes,
that their guides are etarnally descryin' in the mist—AND BESIDE,
POWER HAS A NATERAL TENDENCY TO CORPULENCY. As for them guides, I'd
make short work of 'em if it was me.
"In the last war with Britain, the Constitution frigate was close in
once on the shores of Ireland, a-lookin' arter some marchant ships,
and she took on board a pilot; well, he was a deep, sly, twistical
lookin' chap, as you e'enamost ever seed. He had a sort of dark, down
look about him, and a lear out of the corner of one eye, like a horse
that's goin' to kick. The captain guessed he read in his face, 'Well
now, if I was to run this here Yankee right slap on a rock and bilge
her, the King would make a man of me for ever.' So, says he to the
first leftenant, 'Reeve a rope through that 'ere block at the tip
eend of the fore yard, and clap a runnin' noose in it.' The leftenant
did it as quick as wink, and came back, and says he, 'I guess it's
done.' 'Now,' says the captain, 'look here, pilot; here's a rope you
hain't seed yet, I'll jist explain the use of it to you in case you
want the loan of it. If this here frigate, manned with our free and
enlightened citizens, gets aground, I'll give you a ride on the slack
of that 'ere rope, right up to that yard by the neck, by Gum.' Well,
it rub'd all the writin' out of his face, as quick as spittin' on
a slate takes a sum out, you may depend. Now, they should rig up a
crane over the street door of the State house at Halifax, and when
any of the pilots at either eend of the buildin', run 'em on the
breakers on purpose, string 'em up like an onsafe dog. A sign of that
'ere kind, with 'A house of public entertainment,' painted under it,
would do the business in less than no time. If it wouldn't keep the
hawks out of the poultry yard, it's a pity; it would scare them out
of a year's growth, that's a fact; if they used it once, I guess they
wouldn't have occasion for it agin in a hurry; it would be like the
aloe tree, and that bears fruit only once in a hundred years.
"If you want to know how to act any time, Squire, never go to books,
leave them to gals and school boys; but go right off and cipher it
out of natur', that's a sure guide; it will never deceive you, you
may depend. For instance, 'what's that to me,' is a phrase so common
that it shows it's a natural one, when people have no particular
interest in a thing. Well, when a feller gets so warm on either side
as never to use that phrase at all, watch him, that's all! keep your
eye on him, or he'll walk right into you afore you know where you be.
If a man runs to me and says, 'Your fence is down,' 'Thank you,' says
I, 'that's kind.' If he comes agin and says, 'I guess some stray
cattle have broke into your short sarce garden,' I thank him agin;
says I, 'Come now, this is neighbourly; but when he keeps etarnally
tellin' me this thing of one sarvant, and that thing of another
sarvant, hints that my friends ain't true, that my neighbours are
inclined to take advantage of me, and that suspicious folks are seen
about my place, I say to myself, what on airth makes this critter
take such a wonderful interest in my affairs? I don't like to hear
such tales; he's arter somethin' as sure as the world, if he warn't
he'd say, 'What's that to me.' I never believe much what I hear said
by a man's violent friend, or violent enemy. I want to hear what a
disinterested man has to say. Now, as a disinterested man, I say if
the members of the House of Assembly, instead of raisin' up ghosts
and hobgoblins to frighten folks with, and to show what swordsmen
they be, a-cuttin' and a-thrustin' at those phantoms that only exist
in their own brains, would turn to, heart and hand, and develop the
resources of this fine country, facilitate the means of transport,
promote its internal improvement, and encourage its foreign trade,
they would make it the richest and greatest, as it now is one of the
happiest sections of all America. I hope I may be skinned if they
wouldn't—they would I swan."
The Clockmaker Quilts a Bluenose.
The descendants of Eve have profited little by her example. The
curiosity of the fair sex is still insatiable, and, as it is often
ill directed, it frequently terminates in error. In the country this
feminine propensity is troublesome to a traveller, and he who would
avoid importunities would do well to announce at once, on his arrival
at a Cumberland inn, his name and his business, the place of his
abode and the length of his visit.
Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Pugwash, as she took her seat at the
breakfast table this morning, exhibited the example that suggested
these reflections. She was struck with horror at our conversation,
the latter part only of which she heard, and of course misapplied
"She was run down by the President," said I, "and has been laid up
for some time. Gulard's people have stripped her, in consequence of
her making water so fast."
"Stripped whom?" said Mrs. Pugwash, as she suddenly dropped the
teapot from her hand; "stripped whom—for heaven's sake tell me
who it is?"
"The Lady Ogle," said I.
"Lady Ogle?" said she, "how horrid!"
"Two of her ribs were so broken as to require to be replaced with new
"Two new ribs!" said she, "well I never heerd the beat of that in all
my born days; poor critter, how she must have suffered."
"On examining her below the waist they found—"
"Examining her still lower," said she (all the pride of her sex
revolting at the idea of such an indecent exhibition), "you don't
pretend to say they stripped her below the waist! What did the
Admiral say? Did he stand by and see her handled in that way?"
"The Admiral, madam," said I, "did not trouble his head about it.
They found her extremely unsound there, and much worm-eaten."
"Worm-eaten," she continued, "how awful! It must have been them nasty
jiggers, that got in there; they tell me they are dreadful thick in
the West Indies; Joe Crow had them in his feet, and lost two of his
toes. Worm-eaten, dear, dear! but still that ain't so bad as having
them great he-fellows strip one. I promise you if them Gulards had
undertaken to strip me, I'd a taught them different guess manners;
I'd a died first before I'd a submitted to it. I always heerd tell
the English quality ladies were awful bold, but I never heerd the
like o' that."
"What on airth are you drivin' at?" said Mr. Slick. "I never seed you
so much out in your latitude afore, marm, I vow. We were talkin' of
reparin' a vessel, not strippin' a woman; what under the sun could
have put that 'ere crotchet into your head?"
She looked mortified and humbled at the result of her own absurd
curiosity, and soon quitted the room. "I thought I should have
snorted right out two or three times," said the Clockmaker; "I had to
pucker up my mouth like the upper eend of a silk puss, to keep from
yawhawin' in her face, to hear the critter let her clapper run that
fashion. She is not the first hand that has caught a lobster, by
puttin' in her oar afore her turn, I guess. She'll mind her steps
next hitch, I reckon." This was our last breakfast at Amherst.
An early frost that smote the potato fields, and changed the
beautiful green colour of the Indian corn into shades of light
yellow, and dark brown, reminded me of the presence of autumn, of
the season of short days and bad roads. I determined to proceed at
once to Parrsboro', and thence by the Windsor and Kentville route
to Annapolis, Yarmouth, and Shelburne, and to return by the shore
road, through Liverpool and Lunenburg to Halifax. I therefore took
leave (though not without much reluctance) of the Clockmaker, whose
intention had been to go to Fort Lawrence.
"Well," said he, "I vow I am sorry to part company along with you; a
considerable long journey like our'n, is like sitting up late with
the gals, a body knows it's getting on pretty well towards mornin',
and yet feels loth to go to bed, for it's just the time folks grow
sociable. I got a scheme in my head," said he, "that I think will
answer both on us; I got debts due to me in all them 'ere places for
clocks sold by the consarn; now suppose you leave your horse on these
mashes this fall; he'll get as fat as a fool, he won't be able to see
out of his eyes in a month; and I'll put 'Old Clay' (I call him Clay
arter our senator, who is a prime bit of stuff) into a Yankee wagon
I have here, and drive you all round the coast."
This was too good an offer to be declined. A run at grass for my
horse, an easy and comfortable wagon, and a guide so original and
amusing as Mr. Slick, were either of them enough to induce my
As soon as we had taken our seats in the wagon, he observed—
"We shall progress real handsum now; that 'ere horse goes etarnal
fast, he near about set my axle on fire twice. He's a spanker you may
depend. I had him when he was a two-year-old, all legs and tail, like
a devil's darnin' needle, and had him broke on purpose by father's
old nigger, January Snow. He knows English real well, and can do near
about anything but speak it. He helped me once to gin a Bluenose a
proper handsum quiltin'."
"He must have stood a poor chance indeed," said I, "a horse kickin',
and a man striking him at the same time."
"Oh! not arter that pattern at all," said he, "Lord if Old Clay had
kicked him, he'd a smashed him like that 'ere sarcer you broke at
Pugnose's inn, into ten hundred thousand million flinders. Oh! no, if
I didn't fix his flint for him in fair play, it's a pity. I'll tell
you how it was. I was up to Truro, at Ezra Whitter's inn. There was
an arbitration there atween Deacon Text and Deacon Faithful. Well,
there was a 'nation sight of folks there, for they said it was a
biter bit, and they came to witness the sport, and to see which
critter would get the earmark.
"Well, I'd been doin' a little business there among the folks, and
had jist sot off for the river, mounted on Old Clay, arter takin' a
glass of Ezra's most particular handsum Jamaiky, and was trottin' off
pretty slick, when who should I run agin but Tim Bradley. He is a
dreadful ugly, cross-grained critter, as you e'enamost ever seed,
when he is about half-shaved. Well, I stopped short, and says I, "Mr.
Bradley, I hope you bean't hurt; I'm proper sorry I run agin you, you
can't feel uglier than I do about it, I do assure you.' He called me
a Yankee peddler, a cheatin' vagabond, a wooden nutmeg, and threw
a good deal of assorted hardware of that kind at me; and the crowd
of folks cried out, 'Down with the Yankee!' 'Let him have it Tim!'
'Teach him better manners!' and they carried on pretty high, I tell
you. Well, I got my dander up too, I felt all up on eend like;
and, thinks I to myself, My lad if I get a clever chance, I'll give
you such a quiltin' as you never had since you were raised from a
seedlin', I vow. So says I, 'Mr. Bradley, I guess you had better
let me be; you know I can't fight no more than a cow; I never was
brought up to wranglin', and I don't like it.' 'Haul off the cowardly
rascal,' they all bawled out, 'haul him off, and lay it into him!' So
he lays right hold of me by the collar, and gives me a pull, and I
lets on as if I'd lost my balance and falls right down. Then I jumps
up on eend, and says I 'Go ahead Clay,' and the old horse he sets off
a head, so I knew I had him when I wanted him. Then says I, 'I hope
you are satisfied now, Mr. Bradley, with that 'ere ungenteel fall you
gin me.' Well, he makes a blow at me, and I dodged it. 'Now,' says I,
'you'll be sorry for this, I tell you; I won't be treated this way
for nothin', I'll go right off and swear my life agin you, I'm most
afeerd you'll murder me.' Well, he strikes at me agin, thinkin' he
had a genuine soft horn to deal with, and hits me in the shoulder.
'Now,' says I, I won't stand here to be lathered like a dog all day
long this fashion, it ain't pretty at all; I guess I'll give you a
chase for it.' Off I sets arter my horse like mad, and he arter me (I
did that to get clear of the crowd, so that I might have fair play at
him). Well, I soon found I had the heels of him, and could play him
as I liked. Then I slackened up a little, and when he came close up
to me, so as nearly to lay his hand upon me, I squatted right whap
down, all short, and he pitched over me near about a rod or so, I
guess, on his head, and ploughed up the ground with his nose, the
matter of a foot or two. If he didn't polish up the coulter, and both
mould boards of his face, it's a pity. 'Now,' says I, 'you had better
lay where you be and let me go, for I am proper tired; I blow like a
horse that's got the heaves; and besides,' says I, 'I guess you had
better wash your face, for I am most a feared you hurt yourself.'
That riled him properly; I meant that it should; so he ups and at me
awful spiteful like a bull; then I lets him have it, right, left,
right, jist three corkers, beginning with the right hand, shifting to
the left, and then with the right hand agin. This way I did it," said
the Clockmaker (and he showed me the manner in which it was done);
"it's a beautiful way of hitting, and always does the business—a
blow for each eye and one for the mouth. It sounds like ten pounds
ten on a blacksmith's anvil; I bunged up both eyes for him, and put
in the dead lights in two tu's, and drew three of his teeth, quicker
a plaguy sight than the Truro doctor could, to save his soul alive.
'Now,' says I, 'my friend, when you recover your eye-sight I guess
you'll see your mistake—I warn't born in the woods to be scared by
an owl. The next time you feel in a most particular elegant good
humour, come to me and I'll play you the second part of that
identical same tune, that's a fact.
"With that, I whistled for Old Clay, and back he comes, and I mounted
and off, jist as the crowd came up. The folks looked staggered, and
wondered a little grain how it was done so cleverly in short metre.
If I didn't quilt him in no time, you may depend; I went right slap
into him, like a flash of lightning into a gooseberry bush. He found
his suit ready made and fitted afore he thought he was half measured.
Thinks I, friend Bradley, I hope you know yourself now, for I vow
no livin' soul would; your swallowed your soup without singin' out
scaldin's, and your near about a pint and a half nearer cryin' than
"Yes, as I was sayin', this Old Clay is a real knowin' one; he's as
spry as a colt yet, clear grit, ginger to the backbone; I can't help
a-thinkin' sometimes the breed must have come from old Kentuck, half
horse, half alligator, with a cross of the airth-quake.
"I hope I may be teetotally ruinated, if I'd take eight hundred
dollars for him. Go ahead, you old clinker built villain," said he,
"and show the gentleman how wonderful handSUM you can travel. Give
him the real Connecticut quick step. That's it! that's the way to
carry the President's message to Congress, from Washington to New
York, in no time! that's the go to carry a gal from Boston to Rhode
Island, and trice her up to a Justice to be married, afore her
father's out of bed of a summer's mornin'. Ain't he a beauty? a real
doll? none of your Cumberland critters, that the more you quilt them,
the more they won't go; but a proper one, that will go free gratis
for nothin', all out of his own head voluntERRILY. Yes, a horse like
Old Clay, is worth the whole seed, breed and generation, of them
Amherst beasts put together. He's a horse, every inch of him, stock,
lock, and barrel, is Old Clay."
Sister Sall's Courtship.
"There goes one of them 'ere everlastin' rottin' poles in that
bridge; they are no better than a trap for a critter's leg," said the
Clockmaker. "They remind me of a trap Jim Munroe put his foot in one
night, that near about made one leg half a yard longer than t'other.
I believe I told you of him, what a desperate idle feller he was; he
came from Onion County in Connecticut. Well, he was courtin' Sister
Sall. She was a real handsum lookin' gal; you scarce ever seed a more
out and out complete critter than she was—a fine figur' head, and a
beautiful model of a craft as any in the state, a real clipper, and
as full of fun and frolic as a kitten. Well he fairly turned Sall's
head; the more we wanted her to give him up the more she wouldn't,
and we got plaguy oneasy about it, for his character was none of the
best. He was a univarsal favourite among the gals, and tho' he didn't
behave very pretty neither, forgetting to marry where he promised,
and where he hadn't ought to have forgot too; yet, so it was, he had
such an uncommon winnin' way with him, he could talk them over in no
time. Sall was fairly bewitched.
"At last, Father said to him one evening when he came a-courtin',
'Jim,' says he, 'you'll never come to no good, if you act like Old
Scratch as you do; you ain't fit to come into no decent man's house
at all, and your absence would be ten times more agreeable than your
company, I tell you. I won't consent to Sall's goin' to them 'ere
huskin' parties and quiltin' frolics along with you no more, on no
account, for you know how Polly Brown and Nancy White—' 'Now don't,'
says he, 'now don't, Uncle Sam, say no more about that; if you knowed
all you wouldn't say it was my fault; and besides, I have turned
right about, I am on t'other tack now, and the long leg, too; I am
as steady as a pump bolt now. I intend to settle myself and take a
farm.' 'Yes yes, and you could stock it too, by all accounts, pretty
well, unless you are much misreported,' says father, 'but it won't
do. I knew your father; he was our Sargeant; a proper clever and
brave man he was too; he was one of the heroes of our glorious
revolution. I had a great respect for him, and I am sorry for his
sake you will act as you do; but I tell you once for all you must
give up all thoughts of Sall, now and for everlastin'.' When Sall
heerd this, she began to knit away like mad in a desperate hurry; she
looked foolish enough, that's a fact. First she tried to bite in her
breath, and look as if there was nothin' particular in the wind,
then she blushed all over like scarlet fever, but she recovered that
pretty soon; and then her colour went and came, and came and went,
till at last she grew as white as chalk, and down she fell slap off
her seat on the floor, in a faintin' fit. 'I see,' says father, 'I
see it now, you etarnal villain,' and he made a pull at the old
fashioned sword, that always hung over the fireplace (we used to call
it old Bunker, for his stories always begun, 'when I was at Bunker's
hill'), and drawing it out, he made a clip at him as wicked as if he
was stabbing at a rat with a hay fork; but Jim, he outs of the door
like a shot, and draws it too arter him, and father sends old Bunker
right through the panel. 'I'll chop you up as fine as mince meat, you
villain,' said he, 'if ever I catch you inside my door agin; mind
what I tell you, YOU'LL SWING FOR IT YET.' Well, he made himself
considerable scarce arter that, he never sot foot inside the door
agin, and I thought he had gin up all hopes of Sall, and she of him;
when one night, a most particular uncommon dark night, as I was
a-comin' home from neighbour Dearborne's, I heerd some one a-talkin'
under Sall's window. Well, I stops and listens, and who should it be
near the ash saplin', but Jim Munroe, a-tryin' to persuade Sall to
run off with him to Rhode Island to be married. It was all settled,
he should come with a horse and shay to the gate, and then help her
out of the window, jist at nine o'clock, about the time she commonly
went to bed. Then he axes her to reach down her hand for him to kiss
(for he was proper clever at soft sawder), and she stretches it down
and he kisses it; and, says he, 'I believe I must have the whole of
you out arter all,' and gives her a jirk that kinder startled her;
it came so sudden like it made her scream; so off he sot, hot foot,
and over the gate in no time.
"Well, I ciphered over this all night, a-calculatin' how I should
reciprocate that trick with him, and at last I hit on a scheme. I
recollected father's words at partin', 'MIND WHAT I TELL YOU, YOU'LL
SWING FOR IT YET;' and thinks I, friend Jim, I'll make that prophecy
come true yet, I guess. So the next night, jist at dark, I gives
January Snow, the old nigger, a nidge with my elbow, and as soon as
he looks up, I winks and walks out and he arter me. Says I, 'January
can you keep your tongue within your teeth, you old nigger you?' 'Why
massa, why you ax that 'ere question? My Gor A'mity, you tink old
Snow he don't know dat 'ere yet? My tongue he got plenty room now,
debil a tooth left; he can stretch out ever so far; like a little leg
in a big bed, he lay quiet enough, Massa, neber fear.' 'Well, then,'
says I, 'bend down that 'ere ash saplin' softly, you old Snowball,
and make no noise. The saplin' was no sooner bent than secured to the
ground by a notched peg and a noose, and a slip-knot was suspended
from the tree, jist over the track that led from the pathway to the
house. 'Why, my Gor, massa, that's a—' 'Hold your mug, you old
nigger,' says I, 'or I'll send your tongue a-sarchin' arter your
teeth; keep quiet, and follow me in presently.'
"Well, jist as it struck nine o'clock, says I, 'Sally, hold this here
hank of twine for a minute, till I wind a trifle on it off; that's
a dear critter.' She sot down her candle, and I put the twine on
her hands, and then I begins to wind and wind away ever so slow, and
drops the ball every now and then, so as to keep her downstairs.
'Sam,' says she, 'I do believe you won't wind that 'ere twine off all
night, do give it to January; I won't stay no longer, I'm e'enamost
dead asleep.' 'The old feller's arm is so plaguy onsteady,' says I,
'it won't do; but hark, what's that, I'm sure I heerd something in
the ash saplin', didn't you Sall?' 'I heerd the geese there, that's
all,' says she, 'they always come under the windows at night;' but
she looked scared enough, and says she, 'I vow I'm tired a holdin'
out of my arms this way, and I won't do it no longer;' and down she
throw'd the hank on the floor. 'Well,' says I, 'stop one minute,
dear, till I send old January out to see if anybody is there;
perhaps some o' neighbour Dearborne's cattle have broke into the
sarce garden. January went out, though Sall say'd it was no use, for
she knew the noise of the geese, they always kept close to the house
at night, for fear of the varmin. Presently in runs old Snow, with
his hair standin' up an eend, and the whites of his eyes lookin'
as big as the rims of a soup plate. 'Oh! Gor A'mity,' said he, 'oh
massa, oh Miss Sally, oh!' 'What on airth is the matter with you?'
said Sally; 'how you do frighten me; I vow I believe you'r mad.'
'Oh my Gor,' said he, 'oh! massa Jim Munroe he hang himself, on the
ash saplin' under Miss Sally's window—oh my Gor!' That shot was a
settler, it struck poor Sall right atwixt wind and water; she gave a
lurch ahead, then healed over and sunk right down in another faintin'
fit; and Juno, old Snow's wife, carried her off and laid her down on
the bed. Poor thing, she felt ugly enough, I do suppose.
"Well, father, I thought he'd a-fainted too, he was so struck up all
of a heap, he was completely bung fungered. 'Dear, dear,' said he, 'I
didn't think it would come to pass so soon, but I knew it would come;
I foretold it; says I, the last time I seed him, "Jim," says I, "mind
what I say, YOU'LL SWING FOR IT YET." Give me the sword I wore when
I was at Bunker's hill—maybe there is life yet—I'll cut him down.'
The lantern was soon made ready, and out we went to the ash saplin'.
'Cut me down, Sam, that's a good fellow,' said Jim, 'all the blood
in my body has swashed into my head, and's a-runnin' out o' my nose,
I'm e'enamost smothered, be quick for heaven's sake.' 'The Lord be
praised,' said father, 'the poor sinner is not quite dead yet. Why,
as I'm alive—well if that don't beat all natur'! Why he has hanged
himself by one leg, and's a-swingin' like a rabbit upside down,
that's a fact. Why, if he ain't snared, Sam; he is properly wired I
declare—I vow this is some o' your doin's, Sam—well it was a clever
scheme too, but a little grain too dangerous, I guess.' 'Don't stand
staring and jawin' there all night,' said Jim, 'cut me down, I tell
you—or cut my throat and be damned to you, for I am chokin' with
blood.' 'Roll over that 'ere hogshead, old Snow,' said I, 'till I get
atop on it and cut him down.' So I soon released him, but he couldn't
walk a bit. His ankle was swelled and sprained like vengeance, and he
swore one leg was near about six inches longer than t'other. 'Jim
Munroe,' says father, 'little did I think I should ever see you
inside my door agin, but I bid you enter now, we owe you that
"Well, to make a long story short, Jim was so chop-fallen, and so
down in the mouth, he begged for heaven's sake it might be kept a
secret; he said he would run the state, if ever it got wind, he was
sure he couldn't stand it. 'It will be one while, I guess,' said
father, 'afore you are able to run or stand either; but if you will
give me your hand, Jim, and promise to give over your evil ways, I
will not only keep it secret, but you shall be a welcome guest at old
Sam Slick's once more, for the sake of your father. He was a brave
man, one of the heroes of Bunker's hill; he was our Sergeant and—'
'He promises,' says I, 'father' (for the old man had stuck his right
foot out, the way he always stood when he told about the old war;
and as Jim couldn't stir a peg, it was a grand chance, and he was
a-goin' to give him the whole revolution from General Gage up to
Independence), 'he promises,' says I, 'father.' Well it was all
settled, and things soon grew as calm as a pan of milk two days old;
and afore a year was over, Jim was as steady a-goin' man as Minister
Joshua Hopewell, and was married to our Sall. Nothin' was ever
said about the snare till arter the weddin'. When the Minister had
finished axin' a blessin', father goes up to Jim, and says he, 'Jim
Munroe, my boy,' givin' him a rousin' slap on the shoulder that sot
him a-coughin' for the matter of five minutes (for he was a mortal
powerful man, was father), 'Jim Munroe, my boy,' says he, 'you've
got the snare round your neck, I guess now, instead of your leg;
the saplin' has been a father to you, may you be the father of
"We had a most special time of it, you may depend, all except the
minister; father got him into a corner, and gave him chapter and
verse for the whole war. Every now and then as I come near them, I
heard Bunker's Hill, Brandywine, Clinton, Gates, and so on. It was
broad day when we parted, and the last that went was poor minister.
Father followed him clean down to the gate, and says he, 'Minister,
we hadn't time this hitch, or I'd a told you all about the evakyation
of New York, but I'll tell you that the next time we meet.'"
Setting up for Governor.
"I never see one of them queer little old-fashioned teapots, like
that 'ere in the cupboard of Marm Pugwash," said the Clockmaker,
"that I don't think of Lawyer Crowningshield and his wife. When I was
down to Rhode Island last, I spent an evening with them. Arter I had
been there a while, the black house-help brought in a little home
made dipped candle, stuck in a turnip sliced in two, to make it stand
straight, and set it down on the table. 'Why,' says the lawyer to his
wife, 'Increase my dear, what on airth is the meanin' o' that? What
does little Viney mean by bringin' in such a light as this, that
ain't fit for even a log hut of one of our free and enlightened
citizens away down east; where's the lamp?' 'My dear,' says she, 'I
ordered it—you know they are a-goin' to set you up for Governor next
year, and I allot we must economize or we will be ruined; the salary
is only four hundred dollars a year, you know, and you'll have to
give up your practice; we can't afford nothin' now.'
"Well, when tea was brought in, there was a little wee china teapot,
that held about the matter of half a pint or so, and cups and sarcers
about the bigness of children's toys. When he seed that, he grew most
peskily riled, his under lip curled down like a peach leaf that's got
a worm in it, and he stripped his teeth, and showed his grinders,
like a bull-dog. 'What foolery is this?' said he. 'My dear,' said
she, 'it's the foolery of being Governor; if you choose to sacrifice
all your comfort to being the first rung in the ladder, don't blame
me for it. I didn't nominate you—I had not art nor part in it. It
was cooked up at that 'ere Convention, at Town Hall.' Well, he sot
for some time without sayin' a word, lookin' as black as a thunder
cloud, just ready to make all natur' crack agin. At last he gets up,
and walks round behind his wife's chair, and takin' her face between
his two hands, he turns it up and gives her a buss that went off like
a pistol; it fairly made my mouth water to see him; thinks I, Them
lips ain't a bad bank to deposit one's spare kisses in, neither.
'Increase, my dear,' said he, 'I believe you are half right; I'll
decline tomorrow, I'll have nothin' to do with it. I WON'T BE A
GOVERNOR, ON NO ACCOUNT.'
"Well, she had to haw and gee like, both a little, afore she could
get her head out of his hands; and then she said, 'Zachariah,' says
she, 'how you do act! Ain't you ashamed? Do for gracious sake behave
yourself!' and she coloured up all over like a crimson piany; 'if you
havn't foozled all my hair too, that's a fact,' says she; and she put
her curls to rights, and looked as pleased as fun, though poutin'
all the time, and walked right out of the room. Presently in come
two well dressed house-helps, one with a splendid gilt lamp, a real
London touch, and another with a tea tray, with a large solid silver
coffee pot, and teapot, and a cream jug, and sugar bowl, of the same
genuine metal, and a most an elegant set of real gilt china. Then in
came Marm Crowningshield herself, lookin' as proud as if she would
not call the President her cousin; and she gave the lawyer a look, as
much as to say, I guess when Mr. Slick is gone, I'll pay you off that
'ere kiss with interest, you dear you; I'll answer a bill at sight
for it, I will, you may depend. 'I believe,' said he agin, 'you are
right, Increase, my dear, it's an expensive kind of honour that,
bein' Governor, and no great thanks neither; great cry and little
wool, all talk and no cider. It's enough I guess for a man to govern
his own family, ain't it, dear?' 'Sartin, my love,' said she,
'sartin, a man is never so much in his own proper sphere as there;
and beside,' said she, 'his will is supreme to home, there is no
danger of any one non-concurring him there;' and she gave me a sly
look, as much as to say, I let him think he is master in his own
house, FOR WHEN LADIES WEAR THE BREECHES, THEIR PETTICOATS OUGHT TO
BE LONG ENOUGH TO HIDE THEM; but I allot, Mr. Slick, you can see with
half an eye that the 'grey mare is the better horse' here.
"What a pity it is," continued the Clockmaker, "that the Bluenoses
would not take a leaf out of Marm Crowninshield's book—talk more of
their own affairs and less of politics. I'm sick of the everlastin'
sound of 'House of Assembly,' and 'Council,' and 'great folks.' They
never alleviate talking about them from July to etarnity.
"I had a curious conversation about politics once, away up to the
right here. Do you see that 'ere house," said he, "in the field,
that's got a lurch to leeward, like a north river sloop, struck with
a squall, off West Point, lopsided like? It looks like Seth Pine, a
tailor down to Hartford, that had one leg shorter than t'other, when
he stood at ease at militia trainin', a-restin' on the littlest one.
Well, I had a special frolic there the last time I passed this way.
I lost the linch pin out of my forrard axle, and I turned up there
to get it sot to rights. Just as I drove through the gate, I saw the
eldest gal a-makin' for the house for dear life—she had a short
petticoat on that looked like a kilt, and her bare legs put me in
mind of the long shanks of a bittern down in a rush swamp, a-drivin'
away like mad, full chisel arter a frog. I couldn't think what on
airth was the matter. Thinks I, she wants to make herself look decent
like afore I get in, she don't like to pull her stockings on afore
me; so I pulls up the old horse and let her have a fair start. Well,
when I came to the door, I heard a proper scuddin'; there was a
regular flight into Egypt, jist such a noise as little children make
when the mistress comes suddenly into school, all a-huddlin' and
scroudgin' into their seats, as quick as wink. 'Dear me!' says the
old woman, as she put her head out of a broken window to avail who it
was, 'is it you, Mr. Slick? I sniggers, if you didn't frighten us
properly, we actilly thought it was the sheriff; do come in.
"Poor thing, she looked half starved and half savage, hunger and
temper had made proper strong lines in her face, like water furrows
in a ploughed field; she looked bony and thin, like a horse that has
had more work than oats, and had a wicked expression, as though it
warn't over safe to come too near her heels—an everlastin' kicker.
'You may come out, John,' said she to her husband, 'it's only Mr.
Slick;' and out came John from under the bed backwards, on all fours,
like an ox out of the shoein' frame, or a lobster skullin' wrong eend
foremost; he looked as wild as a hawk. Well, I swan, I thought I
should have split, I could hardly keep from bustin' right out with
larfter; he was all covered with feathers, lint and dust, the savin's
of all the sweepin's since the house was built, shoved under there
for tidiness. He actilly sneezed for the matter of ten minutes—he
seemed half choked with the flaff and stuff, that came out with him
like a cloud. Lord, he looked like a goose half picked, as if all the
quills were gone, but the pin-feathers and down were left, jist ready
for singein' and stuffin. He put me in mind of a sick Adjutant, a
great tall hulkin' bird, that comes from the East Indgies, a'most as
high as a man, and most as knowin' as a Bluenose. I'd a gin a hundred
dollars to have had that chap as a show at a fair; tar and feathers
warn't half as nateral. You've seen a gal both larf and cry at the
same time, hain't you? Well, I hope I may be shot if I couldn't have
done the same. To see that critter come like a turkey out of a bag
at Christmas, to be fired at for ten cents a shot, was as good as a
play; but to look round and see the poverty—the half-naked children;
the old pine stumps for chairs; a small bin of poor, watery, yaller
potatoes in the corner; daylight through the sides and roof of the
house, lookin' like the tarred seams of a ship, all black where the
smoke got out; no utensils for cookin' or eatin'; and starvation
wrote as plain as a handbill on their holler cheeks, skinney fingers,
and sunk eyes—went right straight to the heart. I do declare I
believe I should have cried, only they didn't seem to mind it
themselves. They had been used to it, like a man that's married to
a thunderin' ugly wife, he gets so accustomed to the look of her
everlastin' dismal mug, that he don't think her ugly at all.
"Well, there was another chap a-settin' by the fire, and he DID look
as if he saw it, and felt it too; he didn't seem over half pleased,
you may depend. He was the District Schoolmaster, and he told me he
was takin' a spell at boardin' there, for it was their turn to keep
him. Thinks I to myself, poor devil, you've brought your pigs to a
pretty market, that's a fact. I see how it is, the Bluenoses can't
cipher. The cat's out of the bag now; it's no wonder they don't go
ahead, for they don't know nothin'; the 'Schoolmaster is abroad,'
with the devil to it, for he has no home at all. Why, Squire, you
might jist as well expect a horse to go right off in gear, before he
is halter broke, as a Bluenose to get on in the world, when he has
got no schoolin'.
"But to get back to my story. 'Well,' says I, 'how's times with you,
Mrs. Spry?' 'Dull,' says she, 'very dull; there's no markets now,
things don't fetch nothin'.' Thinks I, some folks hadn't ought to
complain of markets, for they don't raise nothin' to sell, but I
didn't say so; FOR POVERTY IS KEEN ENOUGH, WITHOUT SHARPENING ITS
EDGE BY POKIN' FUN AT IT. 'Potatoes,' says I, 'will fetch a good
price this fall, for it's a short crop in a general way; how's
your'n?' 'Grand,' says she, 'as complete as you ever seed; our tops
were small and didn't look well; but we have the handsomest bottoms,
it's generally allowed, in all our place; you never seed the best of
them, they are actilly worth lookin' at.' I vow I had to take a chaw
of tobaccy to keep from snortin' right out, it sounded so queer like.
Thinks I to myself, old lady, it's a pity you couldn't be changed
eend for eend then, as some folks do their stockings; it would
improve the look of your dial-plate amazin'ly then, that's a fact.
"Now there was human natur', Squire," said the Clockmaker, "there was
pride even in that hovel. It is found in rags as well as King's
robes, where butter is spread with the thumb as well as the silver
knife, NATUR' IS NATUR' WHEREVER YOU FIND IT.
"Jist then, in came one or two neighbours to see the sport, for they
took me for a sheriff or constable, or something of that breed, and
when they saw it was me they sot down to hear the news; they fell
right too at politics as keen as anything, as if it had been a dish
of real Connecticut slapjacks, or hominy; or what is better still, a
glass of real genuine splendid mint julep, WHE-EU-UP, it fairly makes
my mouth water to think of it. 'I wonder,' says one, 'what they will
do for us this winter in the House of Assembly?' 'Nothin',' says the
other, 'they never do nothin' but what the great people at Halifax
tell 'em. Squire Yeoman is the man, he'll pay up the great folks this
hitch, he'll let 'em have their own, he's jist the boy that can do
it.' Says I, 'I wish I could say all men were as honest then, for
I am afeard there are a great many won't pay me up this winter; I
should like to trade with your friend, who is he?' 'Why,' says he,
'he is the member for Isle Sable County, and if he don't let the
great folks have it, it's a pity.' 'Who do you call great folks?'
said I, 'for I vow I havn't seed one since I came here. The only one
that I know that comes near hand to one is Nicholas Overknocker,
that lives all along shore, about Margaret's Bay, and HE IS a great
man—it takes a yoke of oxen to drag him. When I first seed him, says
I, "What on airth is the matter o' that man, has he the dropsy? For
he is actilly the greatest man I ever seed; he must weigh the matter
of five hundred weight; he'd cut three inches on the rib; he must
have a proper sight of lard, that chap." No,' says I, 'don't call 'em
great men, for there ain't a great man in the country, that's a fact;
there ain't one that desarves the name; folks will only larf at you
if you talk that way. There may be some rich men, and I believe there
be, and it's a pity there warn't more on 'em, and a still greater
pity they have so little spirit or enterprise among 'em, but a
country is none the worse of having rich men in it, you may depend.
Great folks! Well, come, that's a good joke, that bangs the bush. No,
my friend,' says I, 'the meat that's at the top of the barrel, is
sometimes not so good as that that's a little further down; the
upper and lower eends are plaguy apt to have a little taint in 'em,
but the middle is always good.'
"'Well,' says the Bluenose, 'perhaps they bean't great men, exactly
in that sense, but they are great men compared to us poor folks;
and they eat up all the revenue; there's nothin' left for roads and
bridges; they want to ruin the country, that's a fact.' 'Want to ruin
your granny,' says I (for it raised my dander to hear the critter
talk such nonsense); I did hear of one chap,' says I, 'that sot fire
to his own house once, up to Squantum, but the cunnin' rascal insured
it first; now how can your great folks ruin the country without
ruinin' themselves, unless they have insured the Province? Our folks
will insure all creation for half nothin', but I never heerd tell of
a country being insured agin rich men. Now if you ever go to Wall
Street to get such a policy, leave the door open behind you, that's
all; or they'll grab right hold of you, shave your head and blister
it, clap a straight jacket on you, and whip you right into a mad
house, afore you can say Jack Robinson. No, your great men are
nothin' but rich men, and I can tell you for your comfort, there's
nothin' to hinder you from bein' rich too, if you will take the same
means as they did. They were once all as poor folks as you be, or
their fathers afore them; for I know their whole breed, seed and
generation, and they wouldn't thank you to tell them that you knew
their fathers and grandfathers, I tell you. If ever you want the loan
of a hundred pounds from any of them, keep dark about that; see as
far ahead as you please, but it ain't always pleasant to have folks
see too far back. Perhaps they be a little proud or so, but that's
nateral; all folks that grow up right off, like a mushroom in one
night, are apt to think no small beer of themselves. A cabbage has
plaguy large leaves to the bottom, and spreads them out as wide as
an old woman's petticoats, to hide the ground it sprung from, and
conceal its extraction, but what's that to you? If they get too large
salaries, dock 'em down at once, but don't keep talkin' about it for
everlastinly. If you have too many sarvents, pay some on 'em off, or
when they quit your sarvice don't hire others in their room, that's
all; but you miss your mark when you keep firin' away at bankers,
lawyers, and public officers, the whole blessed time that way.
"'I went out a-gunnin' once when I was a boy, and father went along
with me to teach me. Well, the first flock of plover I seed I let
slip at 'em, and missed 'em. Says father, says he, "What a blockhead
you be, Sam, that's your own fault, they were too far off; you hadn't
ought to have fired so soon. At Bunker's hill we let the British come
right on till we seed the whites of their eyes, and then we let 'em
have it slap bang." Well, I felt kinder grigged at missin' my shot,
and I didn't over half like to be scolded too; so, says I, "Yes,
father; but recollect you had a mud bank to hide behind, where you
were proper safe, and you had a rest for your guns too; but as soon
as you seed a little more than the whites of their eyes, you run for
dear life, full split; and so I don't see much to brag on in that
arter all, so come now." "I'll teach you to talk that way, you puppy
you," said he, "of that glorious day;" and he fetched me a wipe that
I do believe if I hadn't a dodged, would have spoiled my gunnin' for
that hitch; so I gave him a wide birth arter that all day. Well, the
next time I missed, says I, "She hung fire so everlastinly, it's no
wonder;" and the next miss, says I, "The powder is no good, I vow."
Well, I missed every shot, and I had an excuse for every one on
'em—the flint was bad, or she flashed in the pan, or the shot
scaled, or something or another; and when all wouldn't do, I swore
the gun was no good at all. "Now," says father (and he edged up all
the time, to pay me off for that hit at his Bunker hill story, which
was the only shot I didn't miss), you hain't got the right reason
arter all. It was your own fault, Sam."
"'Now that's jist the case with you; you may blame Banks and Council,
and House of Assembly, and "the great men," till you are tired, but
it's all your own fault—YOU'VE NO SPIRIT AND NO ENTERPRISE, YOU WANT
INDUSTRY AND ECONOMY; USE THEM, AND YOU'LL SOON BE AS RICH AS THE
PEOPLE AT HALIFAX YOU CALL GREAT FOLKS. They didn't grow rich by
talkin', but by workin'; instead of lookin' after other folks'
business, they looked about the keenest arter their own. You are like
the machinery of one of our boats—good enough, and strong enough,
but of no airthly use till you get the steam up; you want to be set
in motion, and then you'll go ahead like anything, you may depend.
Give up politics. It's a barren field, and well watched too; when one
critter jumps a fence into a good field and gets fat, more nor twenty
are chased round and round, by a whole pack of yelpin' curs, till
they are fairly beat out, and eend by bein' half-starved, and are
at the liftin' at last. Look to your farms, your water powers, your
fisheries, and factories. In short,' says I, puttin' on my hat and
startin', 'look to yourselves, and don't look to others.'"
A Cure for Conceit.
"It's a most curious, unaccountable thing, but it's a fact," said
the Clockmaker, "the Bluenoses are so conceited, they think they
know everything; and yet there ain't a livin' soul in Nova Scotia
knows his own business real complete, farmer or fisherman, lawyer
or doctor, or any other folk. A farmer said to me one day, up to
Pugnose's inn at River Philip, 'Mr. Slick,' says he, 'I allot this
ain't "A BREAD COUNTRY;" I intend to sell off the house I improve,
and go to the States.' 'If it ain't a bread country,' said I, 'I
never seed one that was. There is more bread used here, made of best
superfine flour, and No. 1 Genesssee, than in any other place of the
same population in the univarse. You might as well say it ain't a
clock country, when, to my sartin knowledge, there are more clocks
than bibles in it. I guess you expect to raise your bread ready made,
don't you? Well there's only one class of our free and enlightened
citizens that can do that, and that's them that are born with silver
spoons in their mouths. It's a pity you wasn't availed of this truth,
afore you up killoch and off; take my advice and bide where you be.'
"Well, the fishermen are jist as bad. The next time you go into
the fish market at Halifax, stump some of the old hands; says you
'how many fins has a cod, at a word?' and I'll liquidate the bet
if you lose it. When I've been along-shore afore now, a-vendin'
of my clocks, and they began to raise my dander, by belittleing
the Yankees, I always brought them up by a round turn by that
requirement, 'How many fins has a cod, at a word.' Well, they never
could answer it; and then, says I, 'When you larn your own business,
I guess it will be time enough to teach other folks their'n.'
"How different it is with our men folk, if they can't get through a
question, how beautifully they can go round it, can't they? Nothin'
never stops them. I had two brothers, Josiah and Eldad, one was a
lawyer, and the other a doctor. They were a-talkin' about their
examinations one night, at a huskin' frolic, up to Governor Ball's
big stone barn at Slickville. Says Josy, 'When I was examined, the
judge axed me all about real estate; and, says he, "Josiah," says he,
"what's a fee?" "Why," says I, "Judge, it depends on the natur' of
the case. In a common one," says I, "I call six dollars a pretty
fair one; but lawyer Webster has got afore now, I've heerd tell,
one thousand dollars, and that I DO CALL a fee." Well, the judge he
larfed ready to split his sides (thinks I, old chap, you'll bust
like a steam b'iler, if you hain't got a safety valve somewhere or
another), and says he, "I vow that's superfine; I'll indorse your
certificate for you, young man; there's no fear of you, you'll pass
the inspection brand anyhow."
"'Well,' says Eldad, 'I hope I may be skinned if the same thing
didn't e'enamost happen to me at my examination. They axed me a
'nation sight of questions, some on 'em I could answer, and some on
'em no soul could, right off the reel at a word, without a little
cipherin'; at last they axed me, "How would you calculate to put a
patient into a sweat, when common modes wouldn't work no how?" "Why,"
says I, "I'd do as Dr. Comfort Payne sarved father." "And how was
that?" said they. "Why," says I, "he put him into such a sweat as I
never seed him in afore, in all my born days, since I was raised, by
sending him in his bill, and if that didn't sweat him it's a pity; it
was an ACTIVE dose you may depend." "I guess that 'ere chap has cut
his eye-teeth," said the President; "let him pass as approbated."'
"They both knowed well enough; they only made as if they didn't, to
poke a little fun at them, for the Slick family were counted in a
general way to be pretty considerable cute.
"They reckon themselves here a chalk above us Yankees, but I guess
they have a wrinkle or two to grow afore they progress ahead on us
yet. If they hain't got a full cargo of conceit here, then I never
seed a load, that's all. They have the hold chock full, deck piled up
to the pump handles, and scuppers under water. They larnt that of the
British, who are actilly so full of it, they remind me of Commodore
Trip. When he was about half-shaved he thought everybody drunk but
himself. I never liked the last war, I thought it unnateral, and
that we hadn't ought to have taken hold of it at all, and so most of
our New England folks thought; and I wasn't sorry to hear Gineral
Dearborne was beat, seein' we had no call to go into Canada. But when
the Guerriere was captivated by our old Ironsides, the Constitution,
I did feel lifted up amost as high as a stalk of Varginny corn among
Connecticut middlins; I grew two inches taller I vow, the night I
heerd that news. Brag, says I, is a good dog, but Holdfast is better.
The British navals had been a-braggin' and a-hectorin' so long, that
when they landed in our cities, they swaggered e'enamost as much as
Uncle Peleg (big Peleg as he was called), and when he walked up the
centre of one of our narrow Boston streets, he used to swing his arms
on each side of him, so that folks had to clear out of both foot
paths; he's cut, afore now, the fingers of both hands agin the shop
windows on each side of the street. Many the poor feller's crupper
bone he's smashed, with his great thick boots, a-throwin' out his
feet afore him e'enamost out of sight, when he was in full rig
a-swigglin' away at the top of his gait. Well, they cut as many
shines as Uncle Peleg. One frigate they guessed would captivate,
sink, or burn our whole navy. Says a naval one day, to the skipper of
a fishing boat that he took, says he, 'Is it true Commodore Decatur's
sword is made of an old iron hoop?' 'Well,' says the skipper, 'I'm
not quite certified as to that, seein' as I never sot eyes on it; but
I guess if he gets a chance he'll show you the temper of it some of
these days, anyhow.'
"I mind once a British man-o'-war took one of our Boston vessels, and
ordered all hands on board, and sent a party to skuttle her; well,
they skuttled the fowls and the old particular genuine rum, but they
obliviated their arrand and left her. Well, next day another frigate
(for they were as thick as toads arter a rain) comes near her, and
fires a shot for her to bring to. No answer was made, there bein' no
livin' soul on board, and another shot fired, still no answer. 'Why
what on airth is the meanin' of this,' said the Captain; 'why don't
they haul down that damn goose and gridiron?' (That's what he called
our eagle and stars on the flag.) 'Why,' says the first leftenant,
'I guess they are all dead men, that shot frightened them to death.'
'They are afeared to show their noses,' says another, 'lest they
should be shaved off by our shots.' 'They are all down below
"A-CALCULATIN'" their loss I guess,' says a third. 'I'll take my
davy,' says the Captain, 'it's some Yankee trick—a torpedo in her
bottom or some such trap; we'll let her be;' and sure enough, next
day, back she came to shore of herself. 'I'll give you a quarter of
an hour,' says the Captain of the Guerriere to his men, 'to take that
'ere Yankee frigate, the Constitution.' I guess he found his mistake
where he didn't expect it, without any great sarch for it either.
Yes (to eventuate my story), it did me good; I felt dreadful nice,
I promise you. It was as lovely as bitters of a cold mornin'. Our
folks beat 'em arter that so often, they got a little grain too much
conceit also. They got their heels too high for their boots, and
began to walk like uncle Peleg too, so that when the Chesapeake got
whipped I warn't sorry. We could spare that one, and it made our
navals look round, like a feller who gets a hoist, to see who's
a-larfin' at him. It made 'em brush the dust off, and walk on rather
sheepish. It cut their combs that's a fact. The war did us a plaguy
sight of good in more ways than one, and it did the British some good
too. It taught 'em not to carry their chins too high, for fear they
shouldn't see the gutters—a mistake that's spoiled many a bran' new
coat and trousers afore now.
"Well, these Bluenoses have caught this disease, as folks do the
Scotch fiddle, by shakin' hands along with the British. Conceit has
become here, as Doctor Rush says (you have heerd tell of him? he's
the first man of the age, and it's generally allowed our doctors take
the shine off of all the world), acclimated; it is citizenized among
'em; and the only cure is a real good quiltin'. I met a first chop
Colchester gag this summer a-goin' to the races to Halifax, and he
knowed as much about racin', I do suppose, as a Choctaw Ingian does
of a railroad. Well, he was a-praisin' of his horse, and runnin'
on like statiee. He was begot, he said, by Roncesvalles, which was
better than any horse that ever was seen, because he was once in
a duke's stable in England. It was only a man that had blood like
a lord, said he, that knew what blood in a horse was. Captain
Currycomb, an officer at Halifax, had seen his horse and praised him;
and that was enough—that stamped him—that fixed his value. It was
like the President's name to a bank note, it makes it pass current.
'Well,' says I, 'I hain't got a drop of blood in me, nothin' stronger
than molasses and water, I vow, but I guess I know a horse when I see
him for all that, and I don't think any great shakes of your beast,
anyhow. What start will you give me,' says I, 'and I will run Old
Clay agin you, for a mile lick right an eend.' 'Ten rods,' said he,
'for twenty dollars.' Well, we run, and I made Old Clay bite in his
breath and only beat him by half a neck. 'A tight scratch,' says I,
'that, and it would have sarved me right if I had been beat. I had
no business to run an old roadster so everlastin' fast, it ain't fair
on him, is it?' Says he, 'I will double the bet and start even, and
run you agin if you dare.' 'Well,' says I, 'since I won the last it
wouldn't be pretty not to give you a chance; I do suppose I oughtn't
to refuse, but I don't love to abuse my beast by knockin' him about
"As soon as the money was staked, I said, 'Hadn't we better,' says
I, 'draw stakes? That 'ere blood horse of your'n has such uncommon
particular bottom, he'll perhaps leave me clean out of sight.' 'No
fear of that,' said he, larfin', 'but he'll beat you easy, anyhow. No
flinchin',' says he, 'I'll not let you go back of the bargain. It's
run or forfeit.' 'Well,' says I, 'friend, there is fear of it; your
horse will leave me out of sight, to a sartainty, that's a fact,
for he CAN'T KEEP UP TO ME NO TIME. I'll drop him, hull down, in tu
tu's.' If Old Clay didn't make a fool of him, it's a pity. Didn't
he gallop pretty, that's all? He walked away from him, jist as the
Chancellor Livingston steamboat passes a sloop at anchor in the north
river. Says I, 'I told you your horse would beat me clean out of
sight, but you wouldn't believe me; now,' says I, 'I will tell you
something else. That 'ere horse will help, you to lose more money to
Halifax than you are a-thinkin' on; for there ain't a beast gone down
there that won't beat him. He can't run a bit, and you may tell the
British Captain I say so. Take him home and sell him, buy a good yoke
of oxen; they are fast enough for a farmer, and give up blood horses
to them that can afford to keep stable helps to tend 'em, and leave
bettin' alone to them, as has more money nor wit, and can afford to
lose their cash, without thinkin' agin of their loss.' 'When I want
your advice,' said he, 'I will ask it,' most peskily sulky. 'You
might have got it before you axed for it,' said I, 'but not afore you
wanted it, you may depend on it. But stop,' said I, 'let's see that
all's right afore we part;' so I counts over the fifteen pounds I
won of him, note by note, as slow as anything, on purpose to rile
him; then I mounts Old Clay agin, and says I, 'Friend, you have
considerably the advantage of me this hitch, anyhow.' 'Possible!'
says he, 'how's that?' 'Why,' says I, 'I guess you'll return rather
lighter than you came, and that's more nor I can say, anyhow;' and
then I gave him a wink and a jupe of the head, as much as to say, 'do
you take?' and rode on and left him starin' and scratchin' his head
like a feller who's lost his road. If that citizen ain't a born fool,
or too far gone in the disease, depend on't, he found 'A CURE FOR
The Blowin' Time.
The long, rambling dissertation on conceit to which I had just
listened, from the Clockmaker, forcibly reminded me of the celebrated
aphorism "gnothi seauton," know thyself, which, both from its great
antiquity and wisdom, has been by many attributed to an oracle.
With all his shrewdness to discover, and his humour to ridicule the
foibles of others, Mr. Slick was kind to the many defects of his own
character; and while prescribing "a cure for conceit," exhibited in
all he said, and all he did, the most overweening conceit himself.
He never spoke of his own countrymen, without calling them "the
most free and enlightened citizens on the face of the airth," or as
"takin' the shine off of all creation." His country he boasted to
be the "best atween the poles," "the greatest glory under heaven."
The Yankees he considered (to use his expression) as "actilly the
class-leaders in knowledge among all the Americans," and boasted that
they have not only "gone ahead of all others," but had lately arrived
at that most enviable NE PLUS ULTRA point, "goin' ahead of
themselves." In short, he entertained no doubt that Slickville was
the finest place in the greatest nation in the world, and the Slick
family the wisest family in it.
I was about calling his attention to this national trait, when I saw
him draw his reins under his foot (a mode of driving peculiar to
himself, when he wished to economize the time that would otherwise be
lost by an unnecessary delay), and taking off his hat (which, like a
peddler's pack, contained a general assortment), select from a number
of loose cigars one that appeared likely "to go," as he called it.
Having lighted it by a lucifer, and ascertained that it was "true in
draft," he resumed his reins and remarked—
"This must be an everlastin' fine country beyond all doubt, for the
folks have nothin' to do but to ride about and talk politics. In
winter, when the ground is covered with snow, what grand times they
have a-sleighin' over these here marshes with the gals, or playin'
ball on the ice, or goin' to quiltin' frolics of nice long winter
evenings, and then a-drivin' home like mad, by moonlight. Natur'
meant that season on purpose for courtin'. A little tidy scrumptious
lookin' sleigh, a real clipper of a horse, a string of bells as long
as a string of inions round his neck, and a sprig on his back,
lookin' for all the world like a bunch of apples broke off at
gatherin' time, and a sweetheart alongside, all muffled up but
her eyes and lips—the one lookin' right into you, and the other
talkin' right at you—is e'enamost enough to drive one ravin' tarin'
distracted mad with pleasure, ain't it? And then the dear critters
say the bells make such a din there's no hearin' one's self speak; so
they put their pretty little mugs close up to your face, and talk,
talk, talk, till one can't help lookin' right at them instead of
the horse, and then whap you both go capsized into a snowdrift
together, skins, cushions and all. And then to see the little
critter shake herself when she gets up, like a duck landin' from a
pond, a-chatterin' away all the time like a canary bird, and you a
haw-hawin' with pleasure, is fun alive, you may depend. In this way
Bluenose gets led on to offer himself as a lovier, afore he knows
where he bees.
"But when he gets married, he recovers his eyesight in little less
than half no time. He soon finds he's treed; his flint is fixed then,
you may depend. She larns him how vinegar is made: 'Put plenty of
sugar into the water aforehand, my dear,' says she, 'if you want to
make it real sharp.' The larf is on the other side of his mouth then.
If his sleigh gets upsot, it's no longer a funny matter, I tell you;
he catches it right and left. Her eyes don't look right up to his'n
any more, nor her little tongue ring, ring, ring, like a bell any
longer, but a great big hood covers her head, and a whappin' great
muff covers her face, and she looks like a bag of soiled clothes
a-goin' to the brook to be washed. When they get out, she don't wait
any more for him to walk lock and lock with her, but they march like
a horse and a cow to water, one in each gutter. If there ain't a
transmogrification it's a pity. The difference atween a wife and a
sweetheart is near about as great as there is between new and hard
cider: a man never tires of puttin' one to his lips, but makes plaguy
wry faces at t'other. It makes me so kinder wamblecropt when I think
on it, that I'm afeared to venture on matrimony at all. I have seen
some Bluenoses most properly bit, you may depend. You've seen a boy
a-slidin' on a most beautiful smooth bit of ice, hain't you, larfin',
and hoopin', and hallooin' like one possessed, when presently sowse
he goes in over head and ears? How he outs, fins, and flops about,
and blows like a porpoise properly frightened, don't he? and when he
gets out there he stands; all shiverin' and shakin', and the water
a squish-squashin' in his shoes, and his trousers all stickin'
slimsey-like to his legs. Well, he sneaks off home, lookin' like a
fool, and thinkin' everybody he meets is a-larfin' at him—many folks
here are like that 'ere boy, afore they have been six months married.
They'd be proper glad to get out of the scrape too, and sneak off if
they could, that's a fact. The marriage yoke is plaguy apt to gall
the neck, as the ash bow does the ox in rainy weather, unless it be
most particularly well fitted. You've seen a yoke of cattle that
warn't properly mated, they spend more strength in pullin' agin each
other, than in pullin' the load. Well that's apt to be the case with
them as choose their wives in sleighin' parties, quiltin' frolics,
and so on; instead of the dairies, looms, and cheese-houses.
"Now the Bluenoses are all a-stirrin' in winter. The young folks
drive out the gals, and talk love and all sorts of things as sweet
as doughnuts. The old folks find it near about as well to leave the
old women to home, for fear they shouldn't keep tune together; so
they drive out alone to chat about House of Assembly with their
neighbours, while the boys and hired helps do the chores. When the
Spring comes, and the fields are dry enough to be sowed, they all
have to be ploughed, 'CAUSE FALL RAINS WASH THE LANDS TOO MUCH FOR
FALL PLOUGHIN'. Well, the ploughs have to be mended and sharpened,
'CAUSE WHAT'S THE USE OF DOIN' THAT AFORE IT'S WANTED? Well, the
wheat gets in too late, and then comes rust; but whose fault is that?
WHY, THE CLIMATE TO BE SURE, FOR NOVA SCOTIA AIN'T A BREAD COUNTRY.
"When a man has to run ever so far as fast as he can clip, he has
to stop and take breath; you must do that or choke. So it is with a
horse; run him a mile, and his flanks will heave like a Blacksmith's
bellows; you must slack up the rein and give him a little wind, or
he'll fall right down with you. It stands to reason, don't it? Atwixt
spring and fall work is 'BLOWIN' TIME.' Then Courts come on, and
Grand Jury business, and Militia trainin', and Race trainin', and
what not; and a fine spell of ridin' about and doin' nothin', a real
'BLOWIN TIME.' Then comes harvest, and that is proper hard work:
mowin' and pitchin' hay, and reapin' and bindin' grain, and potato
diggin'. That's as hard as sole leather, afore it's hammered on the
lap stone; it's a'most next to anything. It takes a feller as tough
as Old Hickory (General Jackson) to stand that.
"Ohio is 'most the only country I knew of where folks are saved that
trouble; and there the freshets come jist in the nick of time for
'em, and sweep all the crops right up in a heap for 'em, and they
have nothin' to do but take it home and house it, and sometimes a man
gets more than his own crop, and finds a proper swad of it all ready
piled up, only a little wet or so; but all countries ain't like Ohio.
Well, arter harvest comes fall, and then there's a grand 'blowin'
time' till spring. Now, how the Lord the Bluenoses can complain of
their country, when it's only one third work and two-thirds 'blowin'
time,' no soul can tell.
"Father used to say, when I lived on the farm along with him, 'Sam,'
says he, 'I vow I wish there was jist four hundred days in the year,
for it's a plaguy sight too short for me. I can find as much work as
all hands on us can do for three hundred and sixty-five days, and
jist thirty-five days more, if we had 'em. We hain't got a minit to
spare; you must shell the corn and winner the grain at night, and
clean all up slick, or I guess we'll fall astarn as sure as the Lord
made Moses.' If he didn't keep us all at it, a-drivin' away full
chisel, the whole blessed time, it's a pity. There was no 'blowin'
time' there, you may depend. We ploughed all the fall for dear life;
in winter we thrashed, made and mended tools, went to market and
mill, and got out our firewood and rails. As soon as frost was gone,
came sowin' and plantin', weedin' and hoein'; then harvest and
spreadin' compost; then gatherin' manure, fencin' and ditchin'; and
then turn tu and fall ploughin' agin. It all went round like a wheel
without stoppin', and so fast, I guess you couldn't see the spokes,
just one long everlastin' stroke from July to etarnity, without time
to look back on the tracks. Instead of racin' over the country like
a young doctor, to show how busy a man is that has nothin' to do,
as Bluenose does, and then take a 'blowin' time,' we kept a rale
travellin' gait, an eight-mile-an-hour pace, the whole year round.
THEY BUY MORE NOR THEY SELL, AND EAT MORE THAN THEY RAISE, in this
country. What a pretty way that is, isn't it? If the critters knew
how to cipher, they would soon find out that a sum stated that way
always eends in a naught. I never knew it to fail, and I defy any
soul to cipher it so, as to make it come out any other way, either by
Schoolmaster's Assistant or Algebra. When I was a boy, the Slickville
bank broke, and an awful disorderment it made, that's a fact; nothin'
else was talked of. Well, I studied it over a long time, but I
couldn't make it out: so says I, 'Father, how came that 'ere bank to
break? Warn't it well built? I thought that 'ere Quincy granite was
so amazin' strong all natur' wouldn't break it.' 'Why you foolish
critter,' says he, 'it ain't the buildin' that's broke, it's the
consarn that's smashed.' 'Well,' says I, 'I know folks are plaguilly
consarned about it, but what do you call folks' "smashin' their
consarns"?' Father, he larfed out like anything; I thought he never
would stop; and sister Sall got right up and walked out of the room,
as mad as a hatter. Says she, 'Sam, I do believe you are a born fool,
I vow.' When father had done larfin', says he, 'I'll tell you, Sam,
how it was. They ciphered it so that they brought out nothin' for a
remainder.' 'Possible!' says I; 'I thought there was no eend to their
puss. I thought it was like Uncle Peleg's musquash hole, and that
no soul could ever find the bottom of. My!' says I. 'Yes,' says he,
'that 'ere bank spent and lost more money than it made, and when
folks do that, they must smash at last, if their puss be as long as
the national one of Uncle Sam.' This Province is like that 'ere Bank
of our'n, it's goin' the same road, and they'll find the little eend
of the horn afore they think they are halfway down to it.
"If folks would only give over talkin' about that everlastin' House
of Assembly and Council, and see to their farms, it would be better
for 'em, I guess; for arter all, what is it? Why it's only a sort of
first chop Grand Jury, and nothin' else. It's no more like Congress
or Parliament, than Marm Pugwash's keepin' room is like our State
hall. It's jist nothin'. Congress makes war and peace, has a say
in all treaties, confarms all great nominations of the President,
regilates the army and navy, governs twenty-four independent States,
and snaps its fingers in the face of all the nations of Europe, as
much as to say, who be you? I allot I am as big as you be. If you are
six foot high, I am six foot six in my stockin' feet, by gum, and
can lambaste any two on you in no time. The British can whip all the
world, and we can whip the British. But this little House of Assembly
that folks make such a touss about, what is it? Why jist a decent
Grand Jury. They make their presentments of little money votes, to
mend these everlastin' rottin' little wooden bridges, to throw a
poultice of mud once a year on the roads, and then take a 'blowin'
time' of three months and go home. The littler folks be, the bigger
they talk. You never seed a small man that didn't wear high heel
boots, and a high-crowned hat, and that warn't ready to fight most
any one, to show he was a man every inch of him.
"I met a member the other day, who swaggered near about as large as
Uncle Peleg. He looked as if he thought you couldn't find his 'ditto'
anywhere. He used some most particular educational words, genuine
jaw-breakers. He put me in mind of a squirrel I once shot in our wood
location. The little critter got a hickory nut in his mouth; well, he
found it too hard to crack, and too big to swaller, and for the life
and soul of him, he couldn't spit it out agin. If he didn't look
like a proper fool, you may depend. We had a pond back of our barn
about the bigness of a good sizeable wash-tub, and it was chock
full of frogs. Well, one of these little critters fancied himself a
bull-frog, and he puffed out his cheeks, and took a real 'blowin'
time' of it; he roared away like thunder; at last he puffed and
puffed out till he bust like a b'iler. If I see the Speaker this
winter (and I shall see him to a sartainty if they don't send for him
to London, to teach their new Speaker; and he's up to snuff, that
'ere man; he knows how to cipher), I'll jist say to him, 'Speaker,'
says I, 'if any of your folks in the House go to swell out like
dropsy, give 'em a hint in time.' Says you, 'if you have are a little
safety valve about you, let off a little steam now and then, or
you'll go for it; recollect the Clockmaker's story of the "Blowin'
Father John O'Shaughnessy.
"Tomorrow will be Sabbath day," said the Clockmaker; "I guess we'll
bide where we be till Monday. I like a Sabbath in the country; all
natur' seems at rest. There's a cheerfulness in the day here, you
don't find in towns. You have natur' before you here, and nothin' but
art there. The deathy stillness of a town, and the barred windows,
and shut shops, and empty streets, and great long lines of big brick
buildin's look melancholy. It seems as if life had ceased tickin',
but there hadn't been time for decay to take hold on there; as if day
had broke, but man slept. I can't describe exactly what I mean, but I
always feel kinder gloomy and wamblecropt there.
"Now in the country it's jist what it ought to be—a day of rest for
man and beast from labour. When a man rises on the Sabbath, and looks
out on the sunny fields and wavin' crops, his heart feels proper
grateful, and he says, Come, this is a splendid day, ain't it? Let's
get ready and put on our bettermost close, and go to meetin'. His
first thought is prayerfully to render thanks; and then when he goes
to worship he meets all his neighbours, and he knows them all, and
they are glad to see each other, and if any two on 'em hain't exactly
gee'd together durin' the week, why they meet on kind of neutral
ground, and the minister or neighbours make peace atween them. But
it ain't so in towns. You don't know no one you meet there. It's
the worship of neighbours, but it's the worship of strangers, too,
for neighbours don't know nor care about each other. Yes, I love a
Sabbath in the country."
While uttering this soliloquy, he took up a pamphlet from the table,
and turning to the title page, said, "Have you ever seen this here
book on the 'Elder Controversy?' (a controversy on the subject of
Infant Baptism). This author's friends say it's a clincher; they say
he has sealed up Elder's mouth as tight as a bottle."
"No," said I, "I have not; I have heard of it, but never read it.
In my opinion the subject has been exhausted already, and admits of
nothing new being said upon it. These religious controversies are
a serious injury to the cause of true religion; they are deeply
deplored by the good and moderate men of all parties. It has already
embraced several denominations in the dispute in this Province, and
I hear the agitation has extended to New Brunswick, where it will
doubtless be renewed with equal zeal. I am told all the pamphlets are
exceptionable in point of temper, and this one in particular, which
not only ascribes the most unworthy motives to its antagonist, but
contains some very unjustifiable and gratuitous attacks upon other
sects unconnected with the dispute. The author has injured his own
cause, for an INTEMPERATE ADVOCATE IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN AN OPEN
"There is no doubt on it," said the Clockmaker, "it is as clear as
mud, and you are not the only one that thinks so, I tell you. About
the hottest time of the dispute, I was to Halifax, and who should
I meet but Father John O'Shaughnessy, a Catholic Priest. I had met
him afore in Cape Breton, and had sold him a clock. Well, he was
a-leggin' it off hot foot. 'Possible!' says I, 'Father John, is that
you? Why, what on airth is the matter of you? What makes you in such
an everlastin' hurry, driven away like one ravin' distracted mad?' 'A
sick visit,' says he; 'poor Pat Lanigan—him that you mind to Bradore
Lake—well he's near about at the p'int of death.' 'I guess not,'
said I, 'for I jist heerd tell he was dead.' Well, that brought him
up all standin', and he 'bouts ship in a jiffy, and walks a little
way with me, and we got a-talkin' about this very subject. Says he,
'What are you, Mr. Slick?' Well, I looks up to him and winks—'A
Clockmaker,' says I. Well he smiled, and says he, 'I see;' as much
as to say I hadn't ought to have axed that 'ere question at all,
I guess, for every man's religion is his own, and nobody else's
business. 'Then,' says he, 'you know all about this country. Who
do folks say has the best of the dispute?' Says I, 'Father John,
it's like the battles up to Canada lines last war, each side claims
victory; I guess there ain't much to brag on nary way, damage done on
both sides, and nothin' gained, as far as I can learn.' He stopped
short, and looked me in the face, and says he, 'Mr. Slick you are a
man that has seed a good deal of the world, and a considerable of an
understandin' man, and I guess I can talk to you. Now,' says he, 'for
gracious sake do jist look here, and see how you heretics—protestants
I mean,' says he (for I guess that 'ere word slipped out without
leave), 'are by the ears, a-drivin' away at each other, the whole
blessed time, tooth and nail, hip and thigh, hammer and tongs,
disputin', revilin', wranglin', and beloutin' each other, with all
sorts of ugly names that they can lay their tongues to. Is that the
way you love your neighbour as yourself? WE SAY THIS IS A PRACTICAL
COMMENT ON SCHISM, and by the powers of Moll Kelly,' said he, 'but
they all ought to be well lambasted together, the whole batch on 'em
entirely.' Says I, 'Father John, give me your hand; there are some
things, I guess, you and I don't agree on, and most likely never will,
seein' that you are a Popish priest; but in that idee I do opinionate
with you, and I wish with all my heart all the world thought with us.'
"I guess he didn't half like that 'ere word Popish priest, it seemed
to grig him like; his face looked kinder riled, like well water arter
a heavy rain; and said he, 'Mr. Slick,' says he, 'your country is a
free country, ain't it?' 'The freest,' says I, 'on the face of the
airth—you can't "ditto" it nowhere. We are as free as the air, and
when our dander's up, stronger than any hurricane you ever seed—tear
up all creation 'most; there ain't the beat of it to be found
anywhere.' 'Do you call this a free country?' said he. 'Pretty
considerable middlin',' says I, 'seein' that they are under a king.'
'Well,' says he, 'if you were seen in Connecticut a-shakin' hands
along with a Popish priest, as you are pleased to call me' (and he
made me a bow, as much as to say mind your trumps the next deal), 'as
you now are in the streets of Halifax along with me, with all your
crackin' and boastin' of your freedom, I guess you wouldn't sell a
clock agin in that State for one while, I tell you;' and he bid me
good mornin' and turned away. 'Father John!' says I. 'I can't stop,'
says he; 'I must see that poor critter's family; they must be in
great trouble, and a sick visit is afore controvarsy in my creed.'
'Well,' says I, 'one word with you afore you go; if that 'ere name
Popish priest was an ongenteel one, I ax your pardon; I didn't mean
no offence, I do assure you, and I'll say this for your satisfaction,
tu; you're the first man in this Province that ever gave me a real
right down complete checkmate since I first sot foot in it, I'll be
skinned if you ain't.'
"Yes," said Mr. Slick, "Father John was right; these antagonizing
chaps ought to be well quilted, the whole raft of 'em. It fairly
makes me sick to see the folks, each on 'em a-backin' up of their
own man. 'At it agin!' says one; 'Fair play!' says another; 'Stick
it into him!' says a third; and 'That's your sort!' says a fourth.
Them are the folks who do mischief. They show such clear grit, it
fairly frightens me. It makes my hair stand right up on eend to see
ministers do that 'ere. IT APPEARS TO ME THAT I COULD WRITE A BOOK IN
FAVOUR OF MYSELF AND MY NOTIONS WITHOUT, WRITIN' AGIN ANY ONE, AND IF
I COULDN'T I WOULDN'T WRITE AT ALL, I SNORE. Our old minister, Mr.
Hopewell (a real good man, and a larned man too that), they sent to
him once to write agin the Unitarians, for they are a-goin' ahead
like statiee in New England, but he refused. Said he, 'Sam,' says he,
'when I first went to Cambridge, there was a boxer and wrastler came
there, and he beat every one wherever he went. Well, old Mr. Possit
was the Church of England parson at Charlestown, at the time, and a
terrible powerful man he was—a real sneezer, and as ACTIVE as a
weasel. Well, the boxer met him one day, a little way out of town,
a-takin' of his evenin' walk, and said he, "Parson," says he, "they
say you are a most a plaguy strong man and uncommon stiff too."
"Now," says he, "I never seed a man yet that was a match for me;
would you have any objection jist to let me be availed of your
strength here in a friendly way, by ourselves, where no soul would
be the wiser; if you will I'll keep dark about it, I swan." "Go your
way," said the Parson, "and tempt me not; you are a carnal-minded,
wicked man, and I take no pleasure in such vain idle sports." "Very
well," said the boxer; "now here I stand," says he, "in the path,
right slap afore you; if you pass round me, then I take it as a sign
that you are afeard on me, and if you keep the path, why then you
must first put me out—that's a fact." The Parson jist made a spring
forrard, and kitched him up as quick as wink, and throwed him right
over the fence whap on the broad of his back, and then walked on as
if nothin' had happened—as demure as you please, and lookin' as meek
as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. "Stop," said the boxer, as
soon as he picked himself up, "stop Parson," said he, "that's a good
man, and jist chuck over my horse too, will you, for I swan I believe
you could do one near about as easy as t'other. My!" said he, "if
that don't bang the bush; you are another guess chap from what I took
you to be, anyhow."
"'Now,' said Mr. Hopewell, says he, 'I won't write, but if ary a
Unitarian crosses my path, I'll jist over the fence with him in no
time, as the parson did the boxer; FOR WRITIN' ONLY AGGRAVATES YOUR
OPPONENTS, AND NEVER CONVINCES THEM. I NEVER SEED A CONVERT MADE BY
THAT WAY YET; BUT I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I HAVE SEED: A MAN SET HIS OWN
FLOCK A DOUBTIN' BY HIS OWN WRITIN'. YOU MAY HAPPIFY YOUR ENEMIES,
CANTANKERATE YOUR OPPONENTS, AND INJURE YOUR OWN CAUSE BY IT, BUT I
DEFY YOU TO SARVE IT. These writers,' said he, 'put me in mind of
that 'ere boxer's pupils. He would sometimes set two on 'em to spar;
well, they'd put on their gloves and begin, larfin' and jokin' all in
good humour. Presently one on 'em would put in a pretty hard blow;
well, t'other would return it in airnest. "Oh," says the other, "if
that's your play, off gloves and at it;" and sure enough, away would
fly their gloves, and at it they'd go tooth and nail.
"'No, Sam, the misfortin' is, we are all apt to think Scriptur'
intended for our neighbours, and not for ourselves. The poor all
think it made for the rich. "Look at that 'ere Dives," they say,
"what an all-fired scrape he got into by his avarice, with Lazarus;
and ain't it writ as plain as anything, that them folks will find it
as easy to go to heaven, as for a camel to go through the eye of a
needle?" Well, then, the rich think it all made for the poor—that
they shan't steal nor bear false witness, but shall be obedient to
them that's in authority. And as for them 'ere Unitarians,' and he
always got his dander up when he spoke of them, 'why there's no doin'
nothin' with them,' says he. 'When they get fairly stumped, and you
produce a text that they can't get over, nor get round, why they say
"It ain't in our varsion at all; that's an interpolation, it's an
invention of them 'ere everlastin' monks;" there's nothin' left for
you to do with them, but to sarve them as Parson Possit detailed the
boxer—lay right hold of 'em, and chuck 'em over the fence, even if
they were as big as all out doors. That's what our folks ought to
have done with 'em at first, pitched 'em clean out of the state, and
let 'em go down to Nova Scotia, or some such outlandish place, for
they ain't fit to live in no christian country at all.
"'Fightin' is no way to make converts; THE TRUE WAY IS TO WIN 'EM.
You may stop a man's mouth, Sam,' says he, 'by a-crammin' a book down
his throat, but you won't convince him. It's a fine thing to write
a book all covered over with Latin, and Greek, and Hebrew, like a
bridle that's real jam, all spangled with brass nails, but who knows
whether it's right or wrong? Why, not one in ten thousand. If I had
my religion to choose, and warn't able to judge for myself, I'll tell
you what I'd do: I'd just ask myself WHO LEADS THE BEST LIVES? Now,'
says he, 'Sam, I won't say who do, because it would look like vanity
to say it was the folks who hold to our platform, but I'll tell you
who don't. IT AIN'T THEM THAT MAKES THE GREATEST PROFESSIONS ALWAYS;
and mind what I tell you, Sam, when you go a-tradin' with your clocks
away down east to Nova Scotia, and them wild provinces, keep a bright
look out on them as cant too much, FOR A LONG FACE is plaguy apt to
COVER A LONG CONSCIENCE—that's a fact.'"
Taming a Shrew.
The road from Amherst to Parrsboro' is tedious and uninteresting. In
places it is made so straight that you can see several miles of it
before you, which produces an appearance of interminable length,
while the stunted growth of the spruce and birch trees bespeaks a
cold, thin soil, and invests the scene with a melancholy and sterile
aspect. Here and there occurs a little valley, with its meandering
stream, and verdant and fertile interval, which, though possessing
nothing peculiar to distinguish it from many others of the same kind,
strikes the traveller as superior to them all, from the contrast to
the surrounding country. One of these secluded spots attracted my
attention, from the number and neatness of the buildings, which its
proprietor, a tanner and currier, had erected for the purposes of his
trade. Mr. Slick said he knew him, and he guessed it was a pity he
couldn't keep his wife in as good order as he did his factory.
"They don't hitch their horses together well at all. He is properly
hen-pecked," said he; "he is afeerd to call his soul his own, and he
leads the life of a dog; you never seed the beat of it, I vow. Did
you ever see a rooster hatch a brood of chickens?"
"No," said I, "not that I can recollect."
"Well then I have," said he, "and if he don't look like a fool all
the time he is a-settin' on the eggs, it's a pity; no soul could help
larfin' to see him. Our old nigger, January Snow, had a spite agin
one of father's roosters, seein' that he was a coward, and wouldn't
fight. He used to call him Dearborne, arter our General that behaved
so ugly to Canada; and, says he one day, 'I guess you are no better
than a hen, you everlastin' old chicken-hearted villain, and I'll
make you a larfin' stock to all the poultry. I'll put a trick on you
you'll bear in mind all your born days.' So he catches old Dearborne,
and pulls all the feathers off his breast, and strips him as naked as
when he was born, from his throat clean down to his tail, and then
takes a bundle of nettles and gives him a proper switchin' that stung
him, and made him smart like mad; then he warms some eggs and puts
them in a nest, and sets the old cock right a top of 'em. Well, the
warmth of the eggs felt good to the poor critter's naked belly, and
kinder kept the itchin' of the nettles down, and he was glad to bide
where he was; and whenever he was tired and got off his skin felt so
cold, he'd run right back and squat down agin; and when his feathers
began to grow, and he got obstropolous, he got another ticklin' with
the nettles, that made him return double quick to his location. In a
little time he larnt the trade real complete. Now, this John Porter
(and there he is on the bridge, I vow; I never seed the beat o' that,
speak of old Satan and he's sure to appear), well, he's jist like old
Dearborne, only fit to hatch eggs."
When we came to the Bridge, Mr. Slick stopped his horse, to shake
hands with Porter, whom he recognized as an old acquaintance and
customer. He enquired after a bark-mill he had smuggled from the
States for him, and enlarged on the value of such a machine, and the
cleverness of his countrymen who invented such useful and profitable
articles; and was recommending a new process of tanning, when a
female voice from the house was heard, vociferating, "John Porter,
come here this minute." "Coming, my dear," said the husband. "Come
here, I say, directly, why do you stand talking to that Yankee
villain there." The poor husband hung his head, looked silly, and
bidding us good-bye, returned slowly to the house.
As we drove on, Mr. Slick said, "That was me—I did that."
"Did what?" said I.
"That was me that sent him back; I called him and not his wife. I
had that 'ere bestowment ever since I was knee high or so; I'm a
real complete hand at ventriloquism; I can take off any man's voice I
ever heerd to the very nines. If there was a law agin forgin' that as
there is for handwritin', I guess I should have been hanged long ago.
I've had high goes with it many a time, but it's plaguy dangersome,
and I don't pracTISE it now but seldom. I had a real bout with that
'ere citizen's wife once, and completely broke her in for him; she
went as gentle as a circus horse for a space, but he let her have her
head agin, and she's as bad as ever now. I'll tell you how it was.
"I was down to the Island a-sellin' clocks, and who should I meet but
John Porter; well, I traded with him for one, part cash, part truck
and proDUCE, and also put off on him that 'ere bark-mill you heerd me
axin' about, and it was pretty considerable on in the evenin' afore
we finished our trade. I came home along with him, and had the clock
in the wagon to fix it up for him, and to show him how to regilate
it. Well, as we neared his house, he began to fret and take on
dreadful oneasy; says he, 'I hope Jane won't be abed, 'cause if she
is she'll act ugly, I do suppose.' I had heerd tell of her afore; how
she used to carry a stiff upper lip, and make him and the broomstick
well acquainted together; and, says I, 'Why do you put up with her
tantrums, I'd make a fair division of the house with her, if it was
me; I'd take the inside and allocate her the outside of it pretty
quick, that's a fact.' Well, when we came to the house, there was no
light in it, and the poor critter looked so streaked and down in the
mouth, I felt proper sorry for him. When he rapped at the door, she
called out, 'Who's there?' 'It's me, dear,' says Porter. 'You, is
it,' said she, 'then you may stay where you be, them as gave you your
supper, may give you your bed, instead of sendin' you sneakin' home
at night like a thief.' Said I, in a whisper, says I, 'Leave her
to me, John Porter; jist take the horses up to the barn, and see
after them, and I'll manage her for you, I'll make her as sweet as
sugary candy, never fear.' The barn, you see, is a good piece off
to the eastward of the house; and, as soon as he was cleverly out
of hearin', says I, a-imitatin' of his voice to the life, 'Do let me
in, Jane,' says I, 'that's a dear critter; I've brought you home some
things you'll like, I know.' Well, she was an awful jealous critter;
says she, 'Take 'em to her you spent the evenin' with, I don't want
you nor your presents neither.' Arter a good deal of coaxin' I stood
on t'other tack, and began to threaten to break the door down; says
I, 'You old unhansum lookin' sinner, you vinerger cruet you, open
the door this minit or I'll smash it right in.' That grigged her
properly, it made her very wrathy (for nothin' sets up a woman's
spunk like callin' her ugly; she gets her back right up like a cat
when a strange dog comes near her; she's all eyes, claws and
"I heerd her bounce right out of bed, and she came to the door as she
was, ondressed, and onbolted it; and, as I entered it, she fetched
me a box right across my cheek with the flat of her hand, that made
it tingle agin. 'I'll teach you to call names agin,' says she, 'you
varmint.' It was jist what I wanted; I pushed the door tu with my
foot, and seizing her by the arm with one hand, I quilted her with
the horsewhip real handsum, with the other. At first she roared like
mad; 'I'll give you the ten commandments,' says she (meaning her
ten claws), 'I'll pay you for this, you cowardly villain, to strike
a woman. How dare you lift your hand, John Porter, to your lawful
wife!' and so on; all the time runnin' round and round, like a colt
that's a-breakin', with the mouthin' bit, rarein', kickin', and
plungin' like statiee. Then she began to give in. Says she, 'I beg
pardon, on my knees I beg pardon—don't murder me, for Heaven's
sake—don't, dear John, don't murder your poor wife, that's a dear.
I'll do as you bid me; I promise to behave well, upon my honour I
do—oh! dear John, do forgive me, do dear.' When I had her properly
brought too, for havin' nothin' on but a thin under-garment, every
crack of the whip told like a notch on a baker's tally, says I, 'Take
that as a taste of what you'll catch, when you act that way like
Old Scratch. Now go and dress yourself, and get supper for me and a
stranger I have brought home along with me, and be quick, for I vow
I'll be master in my own house.' She moaned like a dog hit with a
stone, half whine, half yelp; 'Dear, dear,' says she, 'if I ain't all
covered over with welts as big as my finger, I do believe I'm flayed
alive;' and she boo-hoo'd right out like anything. 'I guess,' said I,
'you've got 'em where folks won't see 'em, anyhow, and I calculate
you won't be over forrard to show 'em where they be. But come,' says
I, 'be a-stirrin', or I'll quilt you agin as sure as you're alive;
I'll tan your hide for you, you may depend, you old ungainly tempered
"When I went to the barn, says I, 'John Porter, your wife made
right at me, like one ravin' distracted mad, when I opened the door,
thinkin' it was you; and I was obliged to give her a crack or two
of the cowskin to get clear of her. It has effectuated a cure
completely; now foller it up, and don't let on for your life it
warn't you that did it, and you'll be master once more in your own
house. She's all docity jist now—keep her so.' As we returned we saw
a light in the keepin' room, the fire was blazin' up cheerfulsome,
and Marm Porter moved about as brisk as a parched pea, though as
silent as dumb, and our supper was ready in no time. As soon as she
took her seat and sot down, she sprung right up on eend, as if she
had sot on a pan of hot coals, and coloured all over; and then tears
started in her eyes. Thinks I to myself, I calculate I wrote that
'ere lesson in large letters anyhow, I can read that writin' without
spellin', and no mistake; I guess you've got pretty well warmed
thereabouts this hitch. Then she tried it agin, first she sot on
one leg then on t'other, quite oneasy, and then right atwixt both,
a-fidgettin' about dreadfully; like a man that's rode all day on a
bad saddle, and lost a little leather on the way. If you had seed how
she stared at Porter, it would have made you snicker. She couldn't
credit her eyes. He warn't drunk, and he warn't crazy, but there he
sot as peeked and as meechin' as you please. She seemed all struck up
of a heap at his rebellion. The next day when I was about startin', I
advised him to act like a man, and keep the weather gage now he had
it, and all would be well, but the poor critter only held on a day or
two, she soon got the upper hand of him, and made him confess all,
and by all accounts he leads a worse life now than ever. I put that
'ere trick on him jist now to try him, and I see it's gone goose with
him; the jig is up with him, she'll soon call him with a whistle like
a dog. I often think of the hornpipe she danced there in the dark
along with me, to the music of my whip—she touched it off in great
style, that's a fact. I shall mind that go one while, I promise you.
It was actilly equal to a play at old Bowry. You may depend, Squire,
the only way to tame a shrew is by the cowskin. Grandfather Slick was
raised all along the coast of Kent in Old England, and he used to say
there was an old saying there, which, I expect, is not far off the
'A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree,
The more you lick 'em, the better they be.'"
The Minister's Horn Mug.
"This Country," said Mr. Slick, "abounds in superior mill privileges,
and one would naterally calculate that such a sight of water power
would have led to a knowledge of machinery. I guess if a Bluenose was
to go to one of our free and enlightened citizens, and tell him Nova
Scotia was intersected with rivers and brooks in all directions, and
nearly one quarter of it covered with water, he'd say, 'Well, I'll
start right off and see it, I vow, for I guess I'll larn somethin'.
I allot I'll get another wrinkle away down east there. With such
splendid chances for experimentin', what first-chop mills they must
have, to a sartainty. I'll see such new combinations, and such new
applications of the force of water to motion, that I'll make my
fortin', for we can improve on anything a'most.' Well, he'd find his
mistake out I guess, as I did once, when I took passage in the night
at New York for Providence, and found myself the next mornin' clean
out to sea, steerin' away for Cape Hatteras, in the Charleston
steamer. He'd find he'd gone to the wrong place, I reckon; there
ain't a mill of any kind in the Province fit to be seen. If we had
'em, we'd sarve 'em as we do the gamblin' houses down south, pull
'em right down, there wouldn't be one on 'em left in eight and forty
"Some domestic factories they ought to have here; it's an essential
part of the social system. Now we've run to the other extreme, it's
got to be too big an interest with us, and ain't suited to the
political institutions of our great country. Natur' designed us
for an agricultural people, and our government was predicated on
the supposition that we would be so. Mr. Hopewell was of the same
opinion. He was a great hand at gardenin', orchadin', farmin', and
what not. One evenin' I was up to his house, and says he, 'Sam, what
do you say to a bottle of my old genuine cider? I guess I got some
that will take the shine off of your father's, by a long chalk, much
as the old gentleman brags of his'n. I never bring it out afore
him. He thinks he has the best in all Connecticut. It's an innocent
ambition that; and Sam, it would be but a poor thing for me to
gratify my pride, at the expense of humblin' his'n. So I never
lets on that I have any better, but keep dark about this superfine
particular article of mine, for I'd as lives he'd think so as not.'
He was a real primiTIVE good man was minister. 'I got some,' said
he, 'that was bottled that very year that glorious action was fought
atween the Constitution and the Guerriere. Perhaps the whole world
couldn't show such a brilliant whippin' as that was. It was a
splendid deed, that's a fact. The British can whip the whole airth,
and we can whip the British. It was a bright promise for our young
eagle; a noble bird that, too; great strenth, great courage, and
"Well, he went down to the cellar, and brought up a bottle, with a
stick tied to its neck, and day and date to it, like lye-bills on the
trees in Squire Hendrick's garden. 'I like to see them 'ere cobwebs,'
says he, as he brushed 'em off, 'they are like grey hairs in an old
man's head; they indicate venerable old age.' As he uncorked it, says
he, 'I guess Sam, this will warm your gizzard, my boy; I guess our
great nation may be stumped to produce more eleganter liquor than
this here. It's the dandy, that's a fact. That,' said he, a-smackin'
his lips, and lookin' at its sparklin' top, and layin' back his head,
and tippin' off a horn mug brim full of it—'that,' said he, and his
eyes twinkled agin, for it was plaguy strong—'that is the produce of
my own orchard.' 'Well,' I said, 'minister,' says I, 'I never see you
a-swiggin' it out of that 'ere horn mug, that I don't think of one of
your texts.' 'What's that, Sam?' says he, 'for you always had a'most
a special memory when you was a boy.' 'Why,' says I, that "the horn
of the righteous man shall be exalted;" I guess that's what they
mean by "exaltin' the horn," ain't it? Lord if ever you was to New
OrLEENS, and seed a black thunder cloud rise right up and cover the
whole sky in a it, you'd a thought of it if you had seed his face. It
looked as dark as Egypt. 'For shame!' says he, 'Sam, that's ondecent;
and let me tell you that a man that jokes on such subjects, shows
both a lack of wit and sense too. I like mirth, you know I do, for
it's only the Pharisees and hypocrites that wear long faces, but then
mirth must be innocent to please me; and when I see a man make merry
with serious things, I set him down as a lost sheep. That comes of
your speculatin' to Lowell; and, I vow, them factorin' towns will
corrupt our youth of both sexes, and become hotbeds of iniquity. Evil
communications endamnify good manners, as sure as rates; one scabby
sheep will infect a whole flock—vice is as catchin' as that nasty
disease the Scotch have, it's got by shakin' hands, and both eend
in the same way—in brimstone. I approbate domestic factories, but
nothin' further for us. It don't suit us or our institutions. A
republic is only calculated for an enlightened and vartuous people,
and folks chiefly in the farmin' line. That is an innocent and a
happy vocation. Agriculture was ordained by Him as made us, for our
"Thinks I, here's a pretty how do you do; I'm in for it now, that's a
fact; he'll jist fall to and read a regular sarmon, and he knows so
many by heart he'll never stop. It would take a Philadelphia lawyer
to answer him. So, says I, 'Minister, I ax your pardon, I feel very
ugly at havin' given you offence, but I didn't mean it, I do assure
you. It jist popped out unexpectedly, like a cork out of one of
them 'ere cider bottles, I'll do my possibles that the like don't
happen agin, you may depend; so 'spose we drink a glass to our
reconciliation.' 'That I will,' said he, 'and we will have another
bottle too, but I must put a little water into MY GLASS (and he dwelt
on that word, and looked at me, quite feelin', as much as to say,
don't for goodness sake make use of that 'ere word HORN agin, for
it's a joke I don't like), 'for my head hain't quite the strength my
cider has. Taste this, Sam,' said he (openin' of another bottle);
'it's of the same age as the last, but made of different apples, and
I am fairly stumped sometimes to say which is best.'
"'These are the pleasures,' says he, 'of a country life. A man's own
labour provides him with food, and an appetite to enjoy it. Let him
look which way he will, and he sees the goodness and bounty of his
Creator, his wisdom, his power, and his majesty. There never was
anything so true, as that 'ere old sayin', "Man made the town, but
God made the country," and both bespeak their different architects in
terms too plain to be misunderstood. The one is filled with virtue
and the other with vice. One is the abode of plenty, and the other
of want; one is a ware-duck of nice pure water, and t'other one a
cess-pool. Our towns are gettin' so commercial and factoring, that
they will soon generate mobs, Sam' (how true that 'ere has turned out,
hain't it? He could see near about as far into a millstone, as them
that picks the hole into it), 'and mobs will introduce disobedience
and defiance to laws, and that must eend in anarchy and bloodshed.
No,' said the old man, raising his voice, and giving the table a wipe
with his fist that made the glasses all jingle agin, 'give me the
country—that country to which he that made it said, "Bring forth
grass, the herb yieldin' seed, and the tree yieldin' fruit," AND WHO
SAW THAT IT WAS GOOD. Let me jine with the feathered tribe in the
mornin' (I hope you get up airly now, Sam; when you was a boy there
was no gittin' you out of bed at no rate), and at sunset, in the
hymns which they utter in full tide of song to their Creator. Let
me pour out the thankfulness of my heart to the Giver of all good
things, for the numerous blessings I enjoy, and intreat Him to bless
my increase, that I may have wherewithal to relieve the wants of
others, as he prevents and relieves mine. No! give me the country.
It's—' Minister was jist like a horse that has the spavin: he sot
off considerable stiff at first, but when he once got under way, he
got on like a house a fire. He went like the wind, full split. He was
jist beginnin' to warm on the subject, and I knew if he did, what
wonderful bottom he had; how he would hang on for ever a'most; so,
says I, 'I think so too, minister, I like the country, I always sleep
better there than in towns; it ain't so plaguy hot, nor so noisy
neither, and then it's a pleasant thing to set out on the stoop and
smoke in the cool, ain't it? I think,' says I, 'too, Minister, that
that 'ere uncommon handsum cider of your'n desarves a pipe, what
do you think?' 'Well,' says he, 'I think myself a pipe wouldn't be
amiss, and I got some real good Varginny, as you e'enamost ever seed,
a present from Rowland Randolph, an old college chum; and none the
worse to my palate, Sam, for bringin' bygone recollections with
it. Phoebe, my dear,' said he to his darter, 'bring the pipes and
tobacco.' As soon as the old gentleman fairly got a pipe in his
mouth, I give Phoebe a wink, as much as to say, warn't that well
done? That's what I call a most particular handsum fix. He can talk
now (and that I do like to hear him do), but he can't make a speech,
or preach a sarmon, and that I don't like to hear him do, except on
Sabbath day, or up to Town Hall, on oration times.
"Minister was an uncommon pleasant man—for there was nothin' a'most
he didn't know—except when he got his dander up, and then he did
spin out his yarns for everlastinly.
"But I'm of his opinion. If the folks here want their country to go
ahead, they must honour the plough; and General Campbell ought to
hammer that 'ere into their noddles, full chisel, as hard as he can
drive. I could larn him somethin', I guess, about hammerin' he ain't
up to. It ain't every one that knows how to beat a thing into a man's
head. How could I have sold so many thousand clocks, if I hadn't had
that knack? Why, I wouldn't have sold half a dozen, you may depend.
"Agriculture is not only neglected but degraded here. What a number
of young folks there seem to be in these parts, a-ridin' about,
titivated out real jam, in their go-to-meetin' clothes, a-doin'
nothin'. It's melancholy to think on it. That's the effect of the
last war. The idleness and extravagance of those times took root,
and bore fruit abundantly, and now the young people are above their
business. They are too high in the instep, that's a fact.
"Old Drivvle, down here to Maccan, said to me one day, 'For gracious
sake,' says he, 'Mr. Slick, do tell me what I shall do with Johnny.
His mother sets great store by him, and thinks he's the makin's of a
considerable smart man; he's growin up fast now, and I am pretty well
to do in the world, and reasonable forehanded, but I don't know what
the dogs to put him to. The lawyers are like spiders—they've eat up
all the flies, and I guess they'll have to eat each other soon, for
there's more on 'em than causes now every court. The Doctors' trade
is a poor one, too, they don't get barely cash enough to pay for
their medicines; I never seed a country practitioner yet that made
anything worth speakin' of. Then, as for preachin', why church and
dissenters are pretty much tarred with the same stick, they live in
the same pastur' with their flocks; and, between 'em, it's fed down
pretty close I tell you. What would you advise me to do with him?'
'Well,' says I, 'I'll tell you if you won't be miffy with me.' 'Miffy
with you indeed,' said he, 'I guess I'll be very much obliged to you;
it ain't every day one gets a chance to consult with a person of your
experience; I count it quite a privilege to have the opinion of such
an understandin' man as you be.' 'Well,' says I, 'take a stick and
give him a real good quiltin'; jist tantune him like blazes, and set
him to work. What does the critter want? You have a good farm for
him, let him go and airn his bread; and when he can raise that, let
him get a wife to make butter for it; and when he has more of both
than he wants, let him sell 'em and lay up his money, and he will
soon have his bread buttered on both sides. Put him to, eh! why
put him to the PLOUGH, the most nateral, the most happy, the most
innocent, and the host healthy employment in the world.' 'But,' said
the old man (and he did not look over half pleased), markets are
so confounded dull, labour so high, and the banks and great folks
a-swallerin' all up so, there don't seem much encouragement for
farmers; it's hard rubbin', nowadays, to live by the plough—he'll
be a hard workin' poor man all his days.' 'Oh!' says I, 'if he wants
to get rich by farmin', he can do that, too. Let him sell his wheat,
and eat his oatmeal and rye; send his beef, mutton and poultry to
market, and eat his pork and potatoes; make his own cloth, weave his
own linen, and keep out of shops, and he'll soon grow rich—there
are more fortin's got by savin' than by makin', I guess, a plaguy
sight—he can't eat his cake and have it too, that's a fact. No, make
a farmer of him, and you will have the satisfaction of seeing him an
honest, an independent, and a respectable member of society—more
honest than traders, more independent than professional men, and more
respectable than either.'
"'Ahem!' says Marm Drivvle, and she began to clear her throat for
action; she slumped down her knittin', and clawed off her spectacles,
and looked right straight at me, so as to take good aim. I seed a
regular nor'wester a-brewin', I knew it would bust somewhere sartin,
and make all smoke agin, so I cleared out and left old Drivvle to
stand the squall. I conceit he must have had a tempestical time
of it, for she had get her Ebenezer up, and looked like a proper
sneezer. Make her Johnny a farmer, eh! I guess that was too much for
the like o' her to stomach.
"Pride, squire," continued the Clockmaker (with such an air of
concern, that, I verily believe, the man feels an interest in the
welfare of a Province, in which he has spent so long a time), "Pride,
Squire, and a false pride, too, is the ruin of this country, I hope
I may be skinned if it ain't."
The White Nigger.
One of the most amiable, and at the same time most amusing traits,
in the Clockmaker's character, was the attachment and kindness with
which he regarded his horse. He considered "Old Clay" as far above
a Provincial horse, as he did one of his "free and enlightened
citizens" superior to a Bluenose. He treated him as a travelling
companion, and when conversation flagged between us, would often
soliloquize to him, a habit contracted from pursuing his journeys
alone. "Well now," he would say, "Old Clay, I guess you took your
time a-goin' up that 'ere hill—'spose we progress now. Go along, you
old sculpin, and turn out your toes. I reckon you are as deff as a
shad, do you hear there? Go ahead! Old Clay. There now," he'd say,
"Squire ain't that dreadful pretty? There's action. That looks about
right: legs all under him—gathers all up snug—no bobbin' of his
head—no rollin' of his shoulders—no wabblin' of his hind parts, but
steady as a pump bolt, and the motion all underneath. When he fairly
lays himself to it, he trots like all vengeance. Then look at his
ear—jist like rabbit's; none o' your flop-ears like them Amherst
beasts, half horses, half pigs, but strait up and p'inted, and not
too near at the tips; for that 'ere, I consait, always shows a horse
ain't true to draw. There are only two things, Squire, worth lookin'
at in a horse, action and soundness; for I never saw a critter that
had good action that was a bad beast. Old Clay puts me in mind of one
of our free and enlightened—"
"Excuse me," said I, "Mr. Slick, but really you appropriate that word
'free' to your countrymen, as if you thought no other people in the
world were entitled to it but yourselves."
"Neither be they," said he. "We first sot the example. Look at our
declaration of independence. It was writ by Jefferson, and he was the
first man of the age; perhaps the world never seed his ditto. It's a
beautiful piece of penmanship that, he gave the British the butt eend
of his mind there. I calculate you couldn't falt it in no particular,
it's generally allowed to be his cap shief. In the first page of it,
second section, and first varse, are these words: 'We hold this truth
to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' I guess King
George turned his quid when he read that. It was somethin' to chaw
on, he hadn't been used to the flavour of, I reckon."
"Jefferson forgot to insert one little word," said I; "he should
have said, 'all white men;' for as it now stands, it is a practical
untruth, in a country which tolerates domestic slavery in its worst
and most forbidding form. It is a declaration of SHAME, and not of
INDEPENDENCE. It is as perfect a misnomer as ever I knew."
"Well," said he, "I must admit there is a screw loose somewhere
thereabouts, and I wish it would convene to Congress, to do somethin'
or another about our niggers, but I am not quite certified how that
is to be sot to rights; I consait that you don't understand us. But,"
said he, evading the subject with his usual dexterity, "we deal only
in niggers—and those thick-skulled, crooked-shanked, flat-footed,
long-heeled, wooly-headed gentlemen, don't seem fit for much else but
slavery, I do suppose. They ain't fit to contrive for themselves.
They are jist like grasshoppers; they dance and sing all summer, and
when winter comes they have nothin' provided for it, and lay down and
die. They require some one to see arter them. Now, we deal in black
niggers only, but the Bluenoses sell their own species—they trade in
"Thank God," said I, "slavery does not exist in any part of his
Majesty's dominions now, we have at last wiped off that national
"Not quite, I guess," said he, with an air of triumph, "it ain't done
with in Nova Scotia, for I have seed these human cattle sales with my
own eyes; I was availed of the truth of it up here to old Furlong's
last November. I'll tell you the story," said he; and as this story
of the Clockmaker's contained some extraordinary statements, which I
had never heard of before, I noted it in my journal, for the purpose
of ascertaining their truth; and, if founded on fact, of laying them
before the proper authorities.
"Last fall," said he, "I was on my way to Partridge Island, to ship
off some truck and produce I had taken in, in the way of trade; and
as I neared old Furlong's house, I seed an amazin' crowd of folks
about the door; I said to myself, says I, who's dead, and what's to
pay now? What on airth is the meanin' of all this? Is it a vandew, or
a weddin', or a rollin' frolic, or a religious stir, or what is it?
Thinks I, I'll see, so I hitches Old Clay to the fence, and walks
in. It was some time afore I was able to swiggle my way through the
crowd, and get into the house. And when I did, who should I see but
deacon Westfall, a smooth faced, slick haired, meechin' lookin'
chap as you'd see in a hundred, a-standin' on a stool, with an
auctioneer's hammer in his hand; and afore him was one Jerry Oaks
and his wife, and two little orphan children, the prettiest little
toads I ever beheld in all my born days. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'I
will begin the sale by putting up Jerry Oaks, of Apple River, he's
a considerable of a smart man yet, and can do many little chores
besides feedin' the children and pigs, I guess he's near about worth
his keep.' 'Will you warrant him sound, wind and limb?' says a tall
ragged lookin' countryman, 'for he looks to me as if he was foundered
in both feet, and had a string halt into the bargain.' 'When you are
as old as I be,' says Jerry, 'mayhap you may be foundered too, young
man; I have seen the day when you wouldn't dare to pass that joke
on me, big as you be.' 'Will any gentleman bid for him,' says the
deacon, 'he's cheap at 7s. 6d.' 'Why deacon,' said Jerry, 'why surely
your honour isn't a-goin' for to sell me separate from my poor old
wife, are you? Fifty years have we lived together as man and wife,
and a good wife has she been to me, through all my troubles and
trials, and God knows I have had enough of 'em. No one knows my ways
and my ailments but her, and who can tend me so kind, or who will
bear with the complaints of a poor old man but his wife? Do, deacon,
and Heaven bless you for it, and yours, do sell us together. We have
but a few days to live now, death will divide us soon enough. Leave
her to close my old eyes, when the struggle comes, and when it comes
to you, deacon, as come it must to us all, may this good deed rise up
for you, as a memorial before God. I wish it had pleased him to have
taken us afore it came to this, but his will be done;' and he hung
his head, as if he felt he had drained the cup of degradation to its
dregs. 'Can't afford it, Jerry—can't afford it, old man,' said the
deacon, with such a smile as a November sun gives, a-passin' atween
clouds. 'Last year they took oats for rates, now nothin' but wheat
will go down, and that's as good as cash; and you'll hang on, as most
of you do, yet these many years. There's old Joe Crowe, I believe in
my conscience he will live for ever.' The biddin' then went on, and
he was sold for six shillings a week. Well, the poor critter gave one
long, loud, deep groan, and then folded his arms over his breast,
so tight that he seemed tryin' to keep in his heart from bustin'. I
pitied the misfortinate wretch from my soul; I don't know as I ever
felt so streaked afore. Not so his wife, she was all tongue. She
begged and prayed, and cryed, and scolded, and talked at the very tip
eend of her voice, till she became, poor critter, exhausted, and went
off in a faintin' fit, and they ketched her up and carried her out to
the air, and she was sold in that condition.
"Well I couldn't make head or tail of all this, I could hardly
believe my eyes and ears; so, says I, to John Porter—him that
has that catamount of a wife, that I had such a touss with—'John
Porter,' says I, 'who ever seed or heerd tell of the like of this,
what under the sun does it all mean? What has that 'ere critter done
that he should be sold arter that fashion?' 'Done?' said he, 'why
nothin', and that's the reason they sell him. This is town meetin'
day, and we always sell the poor for the year, to the lowest bidder.
Them that will keep them for the lowest sum, gets them.' 'Why,' says
I, 'that feller that bought him is a pauper himself, to my sartin
knowledge. If you were to take him up by the heels and shake him
for a week, you couldn't shake sixpence out of him. How can he keep
him? It appears to me the poor buy the poor here, and that they all
starve together.' Says I, 'there was a very good man once lived to
Liverpool, so good, he said he hadn't sinned for seven years; well
he put a mill-dam across the river, and stopped all the fish from
goin' up, and the court fined him fifty pounds for it, and this
good man was so wrathy, he thought he should feel better to swear
a little, but conscience told him it was wicked. So he compounded
with conscience, and cheated the devil, by callin' it a "dam fine
business." Now, friend Porter, if this is your poor law, it is a
damn poor law, I tell you, and no good can come of such hard-hearted
doin's. It's no wonder your country don't prosper, for who ever heerd
of a blessin' on such carryins on as this?' Says I, 'Did you ever
hear tell of a sartin rich man, that had a beggar called Lazarus laid
at his gate, and how the dogs had more compassion than he had, and
came and licked his sores? 'cause if you have, look at that forehanded
and 'sponsible man there, deacon Westfall, and you see the rich man.
And then look at that 'ere pauper, dragged away in that ox-cart from
his wife for ever, like a feller to States' Prison, and you see
Lazarus. Recollect what follered, John Porter, and have neither art
nor part in it, as you are a Christian man.'
"It fairly made me sick all day. John Porter follered me out of the
house, and as I was a-turnin' Old Clay, said he, 'Mr. Slick,' says
he, 'I never seed it in that 'ere light afore, for it's our custom,
and custom you know will reconcile one to most anything. I must say,
it does appear, as you lay it out, an unfeelin' way of providin' for
the poor; but, as touchin' the matter of dividin' man and wife, why'
(and he peered all round to see that no one was within hearin'), 'why
I don't know, but if it was my allotment to be sold, I'd as lives
they'd sell me separate from Jane as not, for it appears to me it's
about the best part of it.'
"Now, what I have told you Squire," said the Clockmaker, "is the
truth; and if members, instead of their everlastin' politics, would
only look into these matters a little, I guess it would be far better
for the country. So, as for our declaration of independence, I guess
you needn't twitt me with our slave-sales, for we deal only in
blacks; but Bluenose approbates no distinction in colours, and when
reduced to poverty, is reduced to slavery, and is sold—a White
Fire in the Dairy.
As we approached within fifteen or twenty miles of Parrsboro', a
sudden turn of the road brought us directly in front of a large
wooden house, consisting of two stories and an immense roof, the
height of which edifice was much increased by a stone foundation,
rising several feet above ground.
"Now, did you ever see," said Mr. Slick, "such a catamaran as that?
There's a proper goney for you, for to go and raise such a buildin'
as that 'ere, and he as much use for it, I do suppose, as my old
wagon here has for a fifth wheel. Bluenose always takes keer to have
a big house, 'cause it shows a big man, and one that's considerable
forehanded, and pretty well to do in the world. These Nova Scotians
turn up their blue noses, as a bottle nose porpoise turns up his
snout, and puff and snort exactly like him at a small house. If
neighbour Carrit has a two story house, all filled with winders, like
Sandy Hook light house, neighbour Parsnip must add jist two feet more
on to the post of his'n, and about as much more to the rafter, to go
ahead of him; so all these long sarce gentlemen strive who can get
the furdest in the sky, away from their farms. In New England our
maxim is a small house, and a most an everlastin' almighty big barn;
but these critters revarse it, they have little hovels for their
cattle, about the bigness of a good sizeable bear-trap, and a house
for the humans as grand as Noah's Ark. Well, jist look at it and see
what a figur' it does cut. An old hat stuffed into one pane of glass,
and an old flannel petticoat, as yaller as jaundice, in another,
finish off the front; an old pair of breeches, and the pad of a bran'
new cart-saddle worn out, titivate the eend, while the backside is
all closed up on account of the wind. When it rains, if there ain't
a pretty how-do-you-do, it's a pity—beds toated out of this room,
and tubs set in t'other to catch soft water to wash; while the
clapboards, loose at the eends, go clap, clap, clap, like gals
a-hacklin' flax, and the winders and doors keep a-dancin' to the
music. The only dry place in the house is in the chimbley corner,
where the folks all huddle up, as an old hen and her chickens do
under a cart of a wet day. 'I wish I had the matter of half a dozen
pound of nails,' you'll hear the old gentleman in the grand house
say, 'I'll be darned if I don't, for if I had, I'd fix them 'ere
clapboards; I guess they'll go for it some o' these days.' 'I wish
you had,' his wife would say, 'for they do make a most particular
unhansum clatter, that's a fact;' and so they let it be till the next
tempestical time comes, and then they wish agin. Now, this grand
house has only two rooms downstairs, that are altogether slicked up
and finished off complete; the other is jist petitioned off rough
like, one half great dark entries, and t'other half places that
look a plaguy sight more like packin' boxes than rooms. Well, all
upstairs is a great onfarnished place, filled with every sort of
good-for-nothin' trumpery in natur'—barrels without eends; corn-cobs
half husked; cast off clothes and bits of old harness; sheep skins,
hides, and wool; apples, one half rotten, and t'other half squashed;
a thousand or two of shingles that have bust their withes, and broke
loose all over the floor; hay rakes, forks and sickles, without
handles or teeth; rusty scythes, and odds and eends without number.
When anything is wanted, then there is a general overhaul of the
whole cargo, and away they get shifted forrard, one by one, all
handled over and chucked into a heap together till the lost one is
found; and the next time, away they get pitched to the starn agin,
higglety pigglety, heels over head, like sheep takin' a split for
it over a wall; only they increase in number each move, 'cause some
on 'em are sure to get broke into more pieces than they was afore.
Whenever I see one of these grand houses, and a hat lookin' out o'
the winder, with nary head in it, think I, I'll be darned if that's
a place for a wooden clock—nothin' short of a London touch would go
down with them folks, so I calculate I won't alight.
"Whenever you come to such a grand place as this, Squire, depend
on't the farm is all of a piece—great crops of thistles, and an
everlastin' yield of weeds, and cattle the best fed of any in the
country, for they are always in the grain fields or mowin' lands,
and the pigs a-rootin' in the potato patches. A spic and span new gig
at the door, shinin' like the mud banks of Windsor, when the sun's
on 'em, and an old wrack of a hay wagon, with its tongue onhitched,
and stickin' out behind, like a pig's tail, all indicate a big man.
He's above thinkin' of farmin' tools, he sees to the bran' new
gig, and the hired helps look arter the carts. Catch him with his
go-to-meetin' clothes on, a-rubbin' agin their nasty greasy axles,
like a tarry nigger; not he, indeed, he'd stick you up with it.
"The last time I came by here, it was a little bit arter daylight
down, rainin' cats and dogs, and as dark as Egypt; so, thinks I, I'll
jist turn in here for shelter to Squire Bill Blake's. Well, I knocks
away at the front door, till I thought I'd a-split it in; but arter
a-rappin' awhile to no purpose, and findin' no one come, I gropes my
way round to the back door, and opens it, and feelin' all along the
partition for the latch of the keepin' room, without finding it, I
knocks agin, when some one from inside calls out 'Walk!' Thinks I, I
don't cleverly know whether that indicates 'walk in,' or 'walk out,'
it's plaguy short metre, that's a fact; but I'll see anyhow. Well,
arter gropin' about awhile, at last I got hold of the string and
lifted the latch and walked in, and there sot old Marm Blake, close
into one corner of the chimbley fireplace, a-see-sawin' in a rockin'
chair, and a half grown black house-help, half asleep in t'other
corner, a-scroudgin' up over the embers. 'Who be you?' said Marm
Blake, 'for I can't see you.' 'A stranger,' said I. 'Beck!' says she,
speakin' to the black heifer in the corner, 'Beck!' says she agin,
raisin' her voice, 'I believe you are as deff as a post, get up
this minit and stir the coals, till I see the man.' Arter the coals
were stirred into a blaze, the old lady surveyed me from head to
foot, then she axed me my name, and where I came from, where I was
a-goin', and what my business was. 'I guess,' said she, 'you must
be reasonable wet; sit to the fire and dry yourself, or mayhap your
health may be endamnified p'r'aps.'
"So I sot down, and we soon got pretty considerably well acquainted,
and quite sociable like, and her tongue when it fairly waked up,
began to run like a mill-race when the gate's up. I hadn't been
talkin' long, 'fore I well nigh lost sight of her altogether agin,
for little Beck began to flourish about her broom, right and left in
great style, a-clearin' up, and she did raise such an auful thick
cloud o' dust, I didn't know if I should ever see or breathe either
agin. Well, when all was sot to rights and the fire made up, the old
lady began to apologize for havin' no candles; she said she'd had a
grand tea-party the night afore, and used them all up, and a whole
sight of vittals too; the old man hadn't been well since, and had
gone to bed airly. 'But,' says she, 'I do wish with all my heart you
had a come last night, for we had a most a special supper—punkin
pies and doughnuts, and apple sarce, and a roast goose stuffed with
indian puddin', and a pig's harslet stewed in molasses and onions,
and I don't know what all, and the fore part of today folks called to
finish. I actilly have nothin' left to set afore you; for it was none
o' your skim-milk parties, but superfine uppercrust, real jam, and we
made clean work of it. But I'll make some tea, anyhow, for you, and
perhaps, arter that,' said she, alterin' of her tone, 'perhaps you'll
expound the Scriptures, for it's one while since I've heerd them laid
open powerfully. I hain't been fairly lifted up since that good man
Judas Oglethorp travelled this road,' and then she gave a groan and
hung down her head, and looked corner-ways, to see how the land lay
thereabouts. The tea-kettle was accordingly put on, and some lard
fried into oil, and poured into a tumbler; which, with the aid of an
inch of cotton wick, served as a make shift for a candle.
"Well, arter tea we sot and chatted awhile about fashions, and
markets, and sarmons, and scandal, and all sorts o' things; and, in
the midst of it, in runs the nigger wench, screemin' out at the tip
eend of her voice, 'Oh Missus! Missus! there's fire in the dairy,
fire in the dairy!' 'I'll give it to you for that,' said the old
lady, 'I'll give it you for that, you good-for-nothin' hussy; that's
all your carelessness; go and put it out this minit; how on airth
did it get there? My night's milk gone, I dare say; run this minit
and put it out, and save the milk.' I am dreadful afeard of fire, I
always was from a boy, and seein' the poor foolish critter seize a
broom in her fright, I ups with the tea-kettle and follows her; and
away we clipt through the entry, she callin' out 'Mind the cellar
door on the right!' 'Take kear of the close horse on the left!' and
so on, but as I couldn't see nothin', I kept right straight ahead.
At last my foot kotched in somethin' or another, that pitched me
somewhat less than a rod or so, right agin the poor black critter,
and away we went, heels over head. I heerd a splash and a groan, and
I smelt somethin' plaguy sour, but I couldn't see nothin'; at last I
got hold of her and lifted her up, for she didn't scream, but made a
strange kind of chokin' noise, and by this time up came Marm Blake
with a light. If poor Beck didn't let go then in airnest, and sing
out for dear life, it's a pity, for she had gone head first into
the swill tub, and the tea-kettle had scalded her feet. She kept
a-dancin' right up and down, like one ravin' distracted mad, and
boo-hoo'd like anything, clawin' away at her head the whole time,
to clear away the stuff that stuck to her wool.
"I held in as long as I could, till I thought I should have busted,
for no soul could help a-larfin', and at last I haw-hawed right out.
'You good-for-nothin' stupid slut you,' said the old lady to poor
Beck, 'it sarves you right, you had no business to leave it
there—I'll pay you.' 'But,' said I, interferin' for the unfortunate
critter, 'good gracious, marm! you forget the fire.' 'No I don't,'
said she, 'I see him,' and seizin' the broom that had fallen from the
nigger's hand, she exclaimed, 'I see him, the nasty varmint,' and
began to belabour most onmarcifully a poor half-starved cur that the
noise had attracted to the entry. 'I'll teach you,' said she, 'to
drink milk; I'll larn you to steal into the dairy; and the besot
critter joined chorus with Beck, and they both yelled together, till
they fairly made the house ring agin. Presently old Squire Blake
popped his head out of a door, and rubbin' his eyes, half asleep and
half awake, said, 'What the devil's to pay now, wife?' 'Why nothin','
says she, 'only FIRE'S IN THE DAIRY, and Beck's in the swill tub,
that's all.' 'Well, don't make such a touss, then,' said he, 'if
that's all,' and he shot tu the door and went to bed agin. When we
returned to the keepin' room, the old lady told me that they always
had had a dog called 'Fire,' ever since her grandfather, Major Donald
Fraser's time, 'and what was very odd,' says she, 'every one on 'em
would drink milk if he had a chance.'
"By this time the shower was over, and the moon shinin' so bright
and clear that I thought I'd better be up and stirrin', and arter
slippin' a few cents into the poor nigger wench's hand, I took
leave of the grand folks in the big house. Now, Squire, among these
middlin'-sized farmers you may lay this down as a rule: THE BIGGER
THE HOUSE, THE BIGGER THE FOOLS BE THAT'S IN IT.
"But, howsomever, I never call to mind that 'ere go in the big house,
up to the right, that I don't snicker when I think of 'FIRE IN THE
A Body without a Head.
"I allot you had ought to visit our great country Squire," said the
Clockmaker, "afore you quit for good and all. I calculate you don't
understand us. The most splendid location atween the Poles is the
United States, and the first man alive is Gineral Jackson, the hero
of the age, him that skeered the British out of their seven senses.
Then there's the great Danel Webster, it's generally allowed, he's
the greatest orator on the face of the airth, by a long chalk; and
Mr. Van Buren, and Mr. Clay, and Amos Kindle, and Judge White, and a
whole raft of statesmen, up to everything and all manner of politics;
there ain't the beat of 'em to be found anywhere. If you was to hear
'em, I consait you'd hear genuine pure English for once, anyhow; for
it's generally allowed we speak English better than the British. They
all know me to be an American citizen here, by my talk, for we speak
it complete in New England.
"Yes, if you want to see a free people—them that makes their own
laws, accordin' to their own notions—go to the States. Indeed, if
you can falt them at all, they are a little grain too free. Our
folks have their head a trifle too much, sometimes, particularly in
elections, both in freedom of speech and freedom of press. One hadn't
ought to blart right out always all that comes uppermost. A horse
that's too free frets himself and his rider too, and both on 'em lose
flesh in the long run. I'd e'enamost as lives use the whip sometimes,
as to be for everlastinly a-pullin' at the rein. One's arm gets
plaguy tired, that's a fact. I often think of a lesson I larnt Jehiel
Quirk once, for lettin' his tongue outrun his good manners.
"I was down to Rhode Island one summer to larn gildin' and bronzin',
so as to give the finishin' touch to my clocks. Well, the folks
elected me a hog-reave, jist to poke fun at me, and Mr. Jehiel,
a bean pole of a lawyer, was at the bottom of it. So one day, up
to Town Hall, where there was an oration to be delivered on our
Independence, jist afore the orator commenced, in runs Jehiel in a
most all-fired hurry; and, says he, 'I wonder,' says he, 'if there's
ary a hog-reave here? because if there be I require a turn of his
office.' And then, said he, a-lookin' up to me and callin' out at the
tip eend of his voice, 'Mr. Hog-reave Slick,' says he, 'here's a job
out here for you.' Folks snickered a good deal, and I felt my spunk
a-risin' like half flood, that's a fact; but I bit in my breath, and
spoke quite cool. 'Possible?' says I; 'well, duty, I do suppose, must
be done, though it ain't the most agreeable in the world. I've been
a-thinkin',' says I, 'that I would be liable to a fine of fifty cents
for sufferin' a hog to run at large, and as you are the biggest one,
I presume, in all Rhode Island, I'll jist begin by ringin' your nose,
to prevent you for the futur' from pokin' your snout where you hadn't
ought to;' and I seized him by the nose and nearly wrung it off.
Well, you never heerd sich a shoutin' and clappin' of hands, and
cheerin', in your life; they haw-hawed like thunder. Says I, 'Jehiel
Quirk, that was a superb joke of your'n; how you made the folks larf,
didn't you? You are e'enamost the wittiest critter I ever seed. I
guess you'll mind your parts o' speech, and study the ACCIDENCE agin
afore you let your clapper run arter that fashion, won't you?'"
"I thought," said I, "that among you republicans, there were no
gradations of rank or office, and that all were equal, the hog-reave
and the governor, the judge and the crier, the master and his
servant; and although, from the natur' of things, more power might
be entrusted to one than the other, yet that the rank of all was
precisely the same."
"Well," said he, "it is so in theory, but not always in practice; and
when we do pracTISE it, it seems to go a little agin the grain, as
if it warn't quite right neither. When I was last to Baltimore there
was a court there, and Chief Justice Marshall was detailed there for
duty. Well, with us in New England, the sheriff attends the judge to
court and, says I to the sheriff, 'Why don't you escort that 'ere
venerable old judge to the State House? He's a credit to our nation
that man, he's actilly the first pot hook on the crane; the whole
weight is on him; if it warn't for him the fat would be in the fire
in no time. I wonder you don't show him that respect—it wouldn't
hurt you one morsel, I guess.' Says he, quite miffy like, 'Don't he
know the way to court as well as I do? If I thought he didn't, I'd
send one of my niggers to show him the road. I wonder who was his
lackey last year, that he wants me to be his'n this time. It don't
convene to one of our free and enlightened citizens, to tag arter any
man, that's a fact; it's too English and too foreign for our glorious
institutions. He's bound by law to be there at ten o'clock, and so be
I, and we both know the way there I reckon.'
"I told the story to our minister, Mr. Hopewell (and he has some odd
notions about him, that man, though he don't always let out what he
thinks). Says he, 'Sam, that was in bad taste' (a great phrase of the
old gentleman's that), 'in bad taste, Sam. That 'ere sheriff was a
goney; don't cut your cloth arter his pattern, or your garment won't
become you, I tell you. We are too enlightened to worship our fellow
citizens as the ancients did, but we ought to pay great respect to
vartue and exalted talents in this life; and, arter their death,
there should be statues of eminent men placed in our national
temples, for the veneration of arter ages, and public ceremonies
performed annually to their honour. Arter all, Sam,' said he (and he
made a considerable of a long pause, as if he was dubersome whether
he ought to speak out or not), 'arter all, Sam,' said he, 'atween
ourselves (but you must not let on I said so, for the fullness of
time hain't yet come), half a yard of blue ribbon is a plaguy cheap
way of rewardin' merit, as the English do; and, although we larf at
'em (for folks always will larf at what they hain't got, and never
can get), yet titles ain't bad things as objects of ambition, are
they?' Then, tappin' me on the shoulder, and lookin' up and smilin',
as he always did when he was pleased with an idee, 'Sir Samuel Slick
would not sound bad, I guess, would it Sam?'
"'When I look at the English House of Lords,' said he, 'and see so
much larning, piety, talent, honour, vartue, and refinement collected
together, I ax myself this here question: can a system which produces
and sustains such a body of men, as the world never saw before and
never will see agin, be defective? Well, I answer myself, perhaps
it is, for all human institutions are so, but I guess it's e'enabout
the best arter all. It wouldn't do here now, Sam, nor perhaps for
a century to come, but it will come sooner or later with some
variations. Now the Newtown pippin, when transplanted to England,
don't produce such fruit as it does in Long Island, and English
fruits don't preserve their flavour here, neither; allowance must
be made for difference of soil and climate (Oh Lord! thinks I, if
he turns in to his orchard, I'm done for; I'll have to give him the
dodge somehow or another, through some hole in the fence, that's
a fact; but he passed on that time). 'So it is,' said he, 'with
constitutions; our'n will gradually approximate to their'n, and
their'n to our'n. As they lose their strength of executive, they will
varge to republicanism, and as we invigorate the form of government
(as we must do, or go to the old boy), we shall tend towards a
monarchy. If this comes on gradually, like the changes in the human
body, by the slow approach of old age, so much the better; but I
fear we shall have fevers, and convulsion-fits, and cholics, and an
everlastin' gripin' of the intestines first; you and I won't live to
see it Sam, but our posteriors will, you may depend.'
"I don't go the whole figur' with minister," said the Clockmaker,
"but I do opinionate with him in part. In our business relations we
belie our political principles; we say every man is equal in the
Union, and should have an equal vote and voice in the Government; but
in our banks, railroad companies, factory corporations, and so on,
every man's vote is regilated by his share and proportion of stock;
and if it warn't so, no man would take hold on these things at all.
"Natur' ordained it so—a father of a family is head, and rules
supreme in his household; his eldest son and darter are like first
leftenants under him, and then there is an overseer over the niggers;
it would not do for all to be equal there. So it is in the univarse,
it is ruled by one Superior Power; if all the angels had a voice in
the government I guess—" Here I fell fast asleep; I had been nodding
for some time, not in approbation of what he said, but in heaviness
of slumber, for I had never before heard him so prosy since I first
overtook him on the Colchester road. I hate politics as a subject of
conversation; it is too wide a field for chit-chat, and too often
ends in angry discussion. How long he continued this train of
speculation I do not know, but, judging by the different aspect of
the country, I must have slept an hour.
I was at length aroused by the report of his rifle, which he had
discharged from the wagon. The last I recollected of his conversation
was, I think, about American angels having no voice in the
government, an assertion that struck my drowsy faculties as not
strictly true; as I had often heard that the American ladies talked
frequently and warmly on the subject of politics, and knew that one
of them had very recently the credit of breaking up General Jackson's
cabinet. When I awoke, the first I heard was "Well! I declare, if
that ain't an amazin' fine shot, too, Considerin' how the critter was
a-runnin' the whole blessed time; if I hain't cut her head off with a
ball, jist below the throat, that's a fact. There's no mistake in a
good Kentucky rifle! I tell you."
"Whose head?" said I, in great alarm, "whose head, Mr. Slick? For
heaven's sake what have you done?" (for I had been dreaming of those
angelic politicians, the American ladies.)
"Why that 'ere hen-partridge's head, to be sure," said he; "don't you
see how special wonderful wise it looks, a-flutterin' about arter its
"True," said I, rubbing my eyes, and opening them in time to see the
last muscular spasms of the decapitated body; "true, Mr. Slick, it is
a happy illustration of our previous conversation—A BODY WITHOUT A
A Tale of Bunker's Hill.
Mr. Slick, like all his countrymen whom I have seen, felt that his
own existence was involved in that of the Constitution of the United
States, and that it was his duty to uphold it upon all occasions. He
affected to consider its government and its institutions as perfect,
and if any doubt was suggested as to the stability or character of
either, would make the common reply of all Americans, "I guess you
don't understand us," or else enter into a laboured defence. When
left, however, to the free expression of his own thoughts, he would
often give utterance to those apprehensions which most men feel in
the event of an experiment not yet fairly tried, and which has in
many parts evidently disappointed the sanguine hopes of its friends.
But, even on these occasions, when his vigilance seemed to slumber,
he would generally cover them, by giving them as the remarks of
others, or concealing them in a tale. It was this habit that gave his
discourse rather the appearance of "thinking aloud," than a connected
"We are a great nation, Squire," he said, "that's sartain; but I'm
afeard we didn't altogether start right. It's in politics as in
racin', everything depends upon a fair start. If you are off too
quick, you have to pull up and turn back agin, and your beast gets
out of wind and is baffled, and if you lose in the start you hain't
got a fair chance arterwards, and are plaguy apt to be jockied in
the course. When we set up house-keepin', as it were for ourselves,
we hated our stepmother, Old England, so dreadful bad, we wouldn't
foller any of her ways of managin' at all, but made new receipts for
ourselves. Well, we missed it in many things most consumedly, somehow
or another. Did you ever see," said he, "a congregation split right
in two by a quarrel, and one part go off and set up for themselves?"
"I am sorry to say," said I, "that I have seen some melancholy
instances of the kind."
"Well, they shoot ahead, or drop astern, as the case may be, but they
soon get on another tack, and leave the old ship clean out of sight.
When folks once take to emigratin' in religion in this way, they
never know where to bide. First they try one location, and then they
try another; some settle here and some improve there, but they don't
hitch their horses together long. Some times they complain they HAVE
TOO LITTLE WATER, at other times that they HAVE TOO MUCH; they are
never satisfied, and, wherever these separatists go, they onsettle
others as bad as themselves. I NEVER LOOK ON A DESARTER AS ANY GREAT
"My poor father used to say, 'Sam, mind what I tell you, if a man
don't agree in all particulars with his church, and can't go the
whole hog with 'em, he ain't justified on that account, no how, to
separate from them, for Sam, SCHISM IS A SIN IN THE EYE OF GOD. The
whole Christian world,' he would say, 'is divided into two great
families, the Catholic and Protestant. Well, the Catholic is a united
family, a happy family, and a strong family, all governed by one
head; and Sam, as sure as eggs is eggs, that 'ere family will grub
out t'other one, stalk, branch and root; it won't so much as leave
the seed of it in the ground, to grow by chance as a nateral
curiosity. Now the Protestant family is like a bundle of refuse
shingles, when withed up together (which it never was and never will
be to all etarnity), no great of a bundle arter all; you might take
it up under one arm, and walk off with it without winkin'. But, when
all lyin' loose as it always is, jist look at it, and see what a
sight it is, all blowin' about by every wind of doctrine, some away
up e'enamost out of sight, others rollin' over and over in the dirt,
some split to pieces, and others so warped by the weather and cracked
by the sun—no two of 'em will lie so as to make a close j'int. They
are all divided into sects, railin', quarrellin', separatin', and
agreein' in nothin', but hatin' each other. It is awful to think on.
T'other family will some day or other gather them all up, put them
into a bundle and bind them up tight, and condemn 'em as fit for
nothin' under the sun, but the fire. Now he who splits one of these
here sects by schism, or he who preaches schism, commits a grievous
sin; and Sam, if you vally your own peace of mind, have nothin' to do
with such folks.
"'It's pretty much the same in Politics. I ain't quite clear in my
conscience, Sam, about our glorious revolution. If that 'ere blood
was shed justly in the rebellion, then it was the Lord's doin',
but if unlawfully, how am I to answer for my share in it? I was at
Bunker's Hill (the most splendid battle it's generally allowed that
ever was fought); what effect my shots had, I can't tell, and I am
glad I can't, all except one, Sam, and that shot—' Here the old
gentleman became dreadful agitated, he shook like an ague fit, and
he walked up and down the room, and wrung his hands, and groaned
bitterly. 'I have wrastled with the Lord, Sam, and have prayed to
him to enlighten me on that p'int, and to wash out the stain of that
'ere blood from my hands. I never told you that 'ere story, nor your
mother neither, for she could not stand it, poor critter, she's
"'Well, Doctor Warren (the first soldier of his age, though he never
fought afore) commanded us all to resarve our fire till the British
came within p'int-blank shot, and we could cleverly see the whites
of their eyes, and we did so; and we mowed them down like grass, and
we repeated our fire with awful effect. I was among the last that
remained behind the breast-work, for most on 'em, arter the second
shot, cut and run full split. The British were close to us; and
an officer, with his sword drawn, was leading on his men, and
encouragin' them to the charge. I could see his features; he was a
real handsum man, I can see him now with his white breeches and black
gaiters, and red coat, and three-cornered cocked hat, as plain as if
it was yesterday, instead of the year '75. Well, I took a steady aim
at him and fired. He didn't move for a space, and I thought I had
missed him, when all of a sudden, he sprung right straight up an
eend, his sword slipped through his hands up to the p'int, and then
he fell flat on his face atop of the blade, and it came straight out
through his back. He was fairly skivered. I never seed anything so
awful since I was raised; I actilly screamed out with horror; and I
threw away my gun, and joined them that were retreatin' over the neck
to Charlestown. Sam, that 'ere British officer, if our rebellion was
onjust or onlawful, was murdered, that's a fact; and the idee, now I
am growin' old, haunts me day and night. Sometimes I begin with the
Stamp Act, and I go over all our grievances, one by one, and say
ain't they a sufficient justification? Well, it makes a long list,
and I get kinder satisfied, and it appears as clear as anything. But
sometimes there come doubts in my mind, jist like a guest that's not
invited or not expected, and takes you at a short like, and I say,
warn't the Stamp Act repealed, and concessions made, and warn't
offers sent to settle all fairly? and I get troubled and oneasy agin.
And then I say to myself, says I, oh yes, but them offers came too
late. I do nothin' now, when I am alone, but argue it over and over
agin. I actilly dream on that man in my sleep sometimes, and then I
see him as plain as if he was afore me, and I go over it all agin
till I come to that 'ere shot, and then I leap right up in bed and
scream like all vengeance, and your mother, poor old critter, says,
"Sam," says she, "what on airth ails you to make you act so like Old
Scratch in your sleep? I do believe there's somethin' or another on
your conscience." And I say, "Polly dear, I guess we're a-goin' to
have rain, for that plaguy cute rheumatis has seized my foot and it
does antagonize me so I have no peace. It always does so when it's
like for a change." "Dear heart," she says (the poor simple critter),
"then I guess I had better rub it, hadn't I, Sam?" and she crawls out
of bed and gets her red flannel petticoat, and rubs away at my foot
ever so long. Oh, Sam, if she could rub it out of my heart as easy as
she thinks she rubs it out of my foot, I should be in peace, that's a
"'What's done, Sam, can't be helped, there is no use in cryin' over
spilt milk, but still one can't help a-thinkin' on it. But I don't
love schisms and I don't love rebellion.
"'Our revolution has made us grow faster and grow richer; but Sam,
when we were younger and poorer, we were more pious and more happy.
We have nothin' fixed either in religion or politics. What connection
there ought to be atween Church and State, I am not availed, but some
there ought to be as sure as the Lord made Moses. Religion when left
to itself, as with us, grows too rank and luxuriant. Suckers and
sprouts, and intersecting shoots, and superfluous wood, make a
nice shady tree to look at, but where's the fruit, Sam? That's the
question—where's the fruit? No; the pride of human wisdom, and the
presumption it breeds will ruinate us. Jefferson was an infidel, and
avowed it, and gloried in it, and called it the enlightenment of the
age. Cambridge College is Unitarian, 'cause it looks wise to doubt,
and every drumstick of a boy ridicules the belief of his forefathers.
If our country is to be darkened by infidelity, our Government
defied by every State, and every State ruled by mobs—then, Sam, the
blood we shed in our revolution will be atoned for in the blood and
suffering of our fellow citizens. The murders of that civil war will
be expiated by a political suicide of the State.'
"I am somewhat of father's opinion," said the Clockmaker, "though I
don't go the whole figur' with him, but he needn't have made such an
everlastin' touss about fixin' that 'ere British officer's flint for
him, for he'd a died of himself by this time, I do suppose, if he had
a missed his shot at him. P'r'aps we might have done a little better,
and p'r'aps we mightn't, by stickin' a little closer to the old
constitution. But one thing I will say, I think arter all, your
Colony Government is about as happy and as a good a one as I know on.
A man's life and property are well protected here at little cost, and
he can go where he likes and do what he likes provided he don't
trespass on his neighbour.
"I guess that's enough for any on us, now ain't it?"
Gulling a Bluenose.
"I allot," said Mr. Slick, "that the Bluenoses are the most gullible
folks on the face of the airth—rigular soft horns, that's a fact.
Politics and such stuff set 'em a-gapin', like children in a chimbley
corner listenin' to tales of ghosts, Salem witches, and Nova Scotia
snowstorms; and while they stand starin' and yawpin' all eyes and
mouth, they get their pockets picked of every cent that's in 'em.
One candidate chap says 'Feller citizens, this country is goin' to
the dogs hand over hand; look at your rivers, you have no bridges;
at your wild lands, you have no roads; at your treasury, you hain't
got a cent in it; at your markets, things don't fetch nothin'; at
your fish, the Yankees ketch 'em all. There's nothin' behind you but
sufferin', around you but poverty, afore you but slavery and death.
What's the cause of this unheerd of awful state of things, ay, what's
the cause? Why judges, and banks, and lawyers, and great folks, have
swallered all the money. They've got you down, and they'll keep you
down to all etarnity, you and your posteriors arter you. Rise up like
men, arouse yourselves like freemen, and elect me to the legislatur',
and I'll lead on the small but patriotic band, I'll put the big wigs
through their facins, I'll make 'em shake in their shoes, I'll knock
off your chains and make you free.' Well, the goneys fall tu and
elect him, and he desarts right away, with balls, rifle, powder, horn
and all. HE PROMISED TOO MUCH.
"Then comes a real good man, and an everlastin' fine preacher, a most
a special spiritual man; renounces the world, the flesh, and the
devil, preaches and prays day and night, so kind to the poor, and so
humble, he has no more pride than a babe, and so short-handed he's no
butter to his bread—all self denial, mortifyin' the flesh. Well, as
soon as he can work it, he marries the richest gal in all his flock,
and then his bread is buttered on both sides. HE PROMISED TOO MUCH.
"Then comes a doctor, and a prime article he is too, 'I've got,' says
he, 'a screw auger emetic and hot crop, and if I can't cure all sorts
o' things in natur' my name ain't Quack.' Well, he turns stomach and
pocket, both inside out, and leaves poor Bluenose—a dead man. HE
PROMISED TOO MUCH.
"Then comes a lawyer, an honest lawyer too, a real wonder under the
sun, as straight as a shingle in all his dealin's. He's so honest he
can't bear to hear tell of other lawyers; he writes agin 'em, raves
agin 'em, votes agin 'em, they are all rogues but him. He's jist the
man to take a case in hand, 'cause HE will see justice done. Well,
he wins his case, and fobs all for costs, 'cause he's sworn to see
justice done to—himself. HE PROMISED TOO MUCH.
"Then comes a Yankee Clockmaker" (and here Mr. Slick looked up and
smiled), "with his 'soft sawder,' and 'human natur',' and he sells
clocks warranted to run from July to Etarnity, stoppages included,
and I must say they do run as long as—as long as wooden clocks
commonly do, that's a fact. But I'll show you presently how I put the
leak into 'em, for here's a feller a little bit ahead on us, whose
flint I've made up my mind to fix this while past." Here we were
nearly thrown out of the wagon by the breaking down of one of those
small wooden bridges, which prove so annoying and so dangerous to
travellers. "Did you hear that 'ere snap?" said he; "well, as sure as
fate, I'll break my clocks over them 'ere etarnal log bridges, if Old
Clay clips over them arter that fashion. Them 'ere poles are plaguy
treacherous, they are jist like old Marm Patience Doesgood's teeth,
that keeps the great United Independent Democratic Hotel, at Squaw
Neck Creek, in Massachusetts—one half gone, and t'other half rotten
"I thought you had disposed of your last clock," said I, "at
Colchester, to Deacon Flint."
"So I did," he replied, "the last one I had to sell to HIM, but I got
a few left for other folks yet. Now there is a man on this road, one
Zeb Allen, a real genuINE skinflint, a proper close-fisted customer
as you'll a'most see anywhere, and one that's not altogether the
straight thing in his dealin' neither. He don't want no one to live
but himself; and he's mighty handsum to me, sayin' my clocks are all
a cheat, and that we ruinate the country, a-drainin' every drop of
money out of it, a-callin' me a Yankee broom and what not. But it
ain't all jist Gospel that he says. Now I'll put a clock on him afore
he knows it, I'll go right into him as slick as a whistle, and play
him to the eend of my line like a trout. I'll have a hook in his
gills, while he's a-thinkin' he's only smellin' at the bait. There he
is now, I'll be darned if he ain't, standin' afore his shop door,
lookin' as strong as high proof Jamaiky; I guess I'll whip it out o'
the bung while he's a-lookin' arter the spicket, and p'r'aps he'll be
none o' the wiser till he finds it out, neither."
"Well, Squire, how do you do," said he, "how's all at home?"
"Reasonable well, I give you thanks, won't you alight?"
"Can't today," said Mr. Slick, "I'm in a considerable of a hurry to
katch the packet, have you any commands for Sou'west? I'm goin' to
the Island, and across the Bay to Windsor. Any word that way?"
"No," says Mr. Allen, "none that I can think on, unless it be to
enquire how butter's goin'; they tell me cheese is down, and proDUCE
of all kind particular dull this fall."
"Well, I'm glad I can tell you that question," said Slick, "for I
don't calculate to return to these parts; butter is risin' a cent or
two; I put mine off mind at tenpence."
"Don't return! possible? why, how you talk. Have you done with the
"I guess I have, it ain't worth follerin' now."
"Most time," said the other, laughing, "for by all accounts the
clocks warn't worth havin', and most infarnal dear too, folks begin
to get their eyes open."
"It warn't needed in your case," said Mr. Slick, with that peculiarly
composed manner, that indicates suppressed feeling, "for you were
always wide awake; if all the folks had cut their eye-teeth as airly
as you did, their'd be plaguy few clocks sold in these parts, I
reckon; but you are right, Squire, you may say that, they actilly
were NOT worth havin', and that's the truth. The fact is," said he,
throwing down his reins, and affecting a most confidential tone, "I
felt almost ashamed of them myself; I tell you. The long and short of
the matter is jist this: they don't make no good ones nowadays, no
more, for they calculate 'em for shippin' and not for home use. I
was all struck up of a heap when I seed the last lot I got from the
States; I was properly bit by them, you may depend—they didn't pay
cost, for I couldn't recommend them with a clear conscience, and I
must say I do like a fair deal, for I'm strait up and down, and love
to go right ahead, that's a fact. Did you ever see them I fetched
when I first came, them I sold over the Bay?"
"No," said Mr. Allen, "I can't say I did."
"Well," continued he, "they WERE a prime article, I tell you, no
mistake there, fit for any market, it's generally allowed there ain't
the beat of them to be found anywhere. If you want a clock, and can
lay your hands on one of them, I advise you not to let go the chance;
you'll know 'em by the 'Lowell' mark, for they were all made at Judge
Beler's factory, Squire Shepody, down to Five Islands, axed me to
get him one, and a special job I had of it, near about more sarch
arter it than it was worth; but I did get him one, and a particular
handsome one it is, copal'd and gilt superior. I guess it's worth ary
half dozen in these parts, let t'others be where they may. If I could
a got supplied with the like o' them, I could a made a grand spec out
of them, for they took at once, and went off quick."
"Have you got it with you?" said Mr. Allen, "I should like to see
"Yes, I have it here, all done up in tow, as snug as a bird's egg, to
keep it from jarrin', for it hurts 'em consumedly to jolt 'em over
them 'ere etarnal wooden bridges. But it's no use to take it out, it
ain't for sale; it's bespoke, and I wouldn't take the same trouble
to get another for twenty dollars. The only one that I know of that
there's any chance of gettin', is one that Increase Crane has up to
Wilmot, they say he's a-sellin' off."
After a good deal of persuasion, Mr. Slick unpacked the clock, but
protested against his asking for it, for it was not for sale. It was
then exhibited, every part explained and praised, as new in invention
and perfect in workmanship. Now Mr. Allen had a very exalted opinion
of Squire Shepody's taste, judgment, and saving knowledge; and, as
it was the last and only chance of getting a clock of such superior
quality, he offered to take it at the price the Squire was to have
it, at seven pounds ten shillings. But Mr. Slick vowed he couldn't
part with it at no rate, he didn't know where he could get the like
agin (for he warn't quite sure about Increase Crane's), and the
Squire would be confounded disappointed; he couldn't think of it.
In proportion to the difficulties, rose the ardour of Mr. Allen; his
offers advanced to eight pounds, to eight pounds ten shillings, to
"I vow," said Mr. Slick, "I wish I hadn't let on that I had it at
all. I don't like to refuse you, but where am I to get the like?"
After much discussion of a similar nature, he consented to part with
the clock, though with great apparent reluctance, and pocketed the
money with a protest that, cost what it would, he should have to
procure another, for he couldn't think of putting the Squire's pipe
out arter that fashion, for he was a very clever man, and as fair
as a boot jack.
"Now," said Mr. Slick, as we proceeded on our way, "that 'ere feller
is properly sarved, he got the most inferior article I had, and I
jist doubled the price on him. It's a pity he should be a-tellin' of
lies of the Yankees all the time; this will help him now to a little
grain of truth." Then mimicking his voice and manner, he repeated
Allen's words with a strong nasal twang, "'Most time for you to give
over the clock trade, I guess, for by all accounts they ain't worth
havin', and most infarnel dear too; folks begin to get their eyes
open.' Better for you, if you'd a had your'n open, I reckon; a joke
is a joke, but I consait you'll find that no joke. The next time you
tell stories about Yankee peddlers, put the wooden clock in with
the wooden punkin seeds, and hickory hams, will you? The Bluenoses,
Squire, are all like Zeb Allen; they think they know everything, but
they get gulled from year's eend to year's eend. They expect too much
from others, and do too little for themselves. They actilly expect
the sun to shine, and the rain to fall, through their little House of
Assembly. 'What have you done for us?' they keep axin' their members.
'Who did you spunk up to last Session?' jist as if all legislation
consisted in attackin' some half dozen puss proud folks at Halifax,
who are jist as big noodles as they be themselves. You hear nothin'
but politics, politics, politics, one everlastin' sound of give,
give, give. If I was Governor I'd give 'em the butt eend of my mind
on the subject, I'd crack their pates till I let some light in 'em,
if it was me, I know. I'd say to the members, don't come down here to
Halifax with your long lockrums about politics, makin', a great touss
about nothin'; but open the country, foster agricultur', encourage
trade, incorporate companies, make bridges, facilitate conveyance,
and above all things make a railroad from Windsor to Halifax; and
mind what I tell you now—write it down for fear you should forget
it, for it's a fact; and if you don't believe me, I'll lick you till
you do, for there ain't a word of a lie in it, by gum—ONE SUCH WORK
AS THE WINDSOR BRIDGE IS WORTH ALL YOUR LAWS, VOTES, SPEECHES AND
RESOLUTIONS, FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS, IF TIED UP AND PUT INTO A MEAL
BAG TOGETHER. IF IT AIN'T, I HOPE I MAY BE SHOT!"
Too many Irons in the Fire.
We had a pleasant sail of three hours from Parrsboro' to Windsor. The
arrivals and departures by water, are regulated at this place by the
tide, and it was sunset before we reached Mrs. Wilcox's comfortable
inn. Here, as at other places, Mr. Slick seemed to be perfectly at
home; and he pointed to a wooden clock, as a proof of his successful
and extended trade, and of the universal influence of "soft sawder,"
and a knowledge of "human natur'." Taking out a pen knife, he cut off
a splinter from a stick of firewood, and balancing himself on one leg
of his chair, by the aid of his right foot, commenced his favourite
amusement of whitling, which he generally pursued in silence. Indeed
it appeared to have become with him an indispensible accompaniment
He sat in this abstracted manner, until he had manufactured into
delicate shavings the whole of his raw materiel, when he very
deliberately resumed a position of more ease and security, by resting
his chair on two legs instead of one, and putting both his feet on
the mantel piece. Then, lighting his cigar, he said in his usual
"There's a plaguy sight of truth in them 'ere old proverbs. They are
distilled facts steamed down to an essence. They are like portable
soup, an amazin' deal of matter in a small compass. They are what I
vally most, experience. Father used to say, 'I'd as lives have an old
homespun, self-taught doctor as ary a Professor in the college at
Philadelphia or New York to attend me; for what they do know, they
know by experience, and not by books; and experience is everything,
it's hearin' and seein' and tryin', and arter that a feller must be a
born fool if he don't know. That's the beauty of old proverbs; they
are as true as a plum line, and as short and sweet as sugar candy.
Now when you come to see all about this country you'll find the truth
of that 'ere one—'A MAN THAT HAS TOO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE, IS
PLAGUY APT TO GET SOME ON 'EM BURNT.'
"Do you recollect that 'ere tree I show'd you to Parrsboro', it was
all covered with black knobs, like a wart rubbed with caustic. Well,
the plum trees had the same disease a few years ago, and they all
died, and the cherry trees I consait will go for it too. The farms
here are all covered with the same 'black knobs,' and they do look
like Old Scratch. If you see a place all gone to wrack and ruin, its
mortgaged you may depend. The 'black knob' is on it. My plan, you
know, is to ax leave to put a clock in a house, and let it be till I
return. I never say a word about sellin' it, for I know when I come
back, they won't let it go arter they are once used to it. Well, when
I first came, I knowed no one, and I was forced to enquire whether
a man was good for it, afore I left it with him; so I made a p'int
of axin' all about every man's place that lived on the road. 'Who
lives up there in the big house?' says I, 'it's a nice location that,
pretty considerable improvements them.' 'Why sir, that's A. B.'s; he
was well to do in the world once, carried a stiff upper lip and keerd
for no one; he was one of our grand aristocrats, wore a long tailed
coat, and a ruffled shirt, but he must take to ship buildin', and
has gone to the dogs.' 'Oh,' said I, 'too many irons in the fire.
Well, the next farm, where the pigs are in the potato field, whose
is that?' 'Oh, sir, that's C. D's; he was a considerable fore-handed
farmer, as any in our place, but he sot up for an Assembly-man, and
opened a store, and things went agin him somehow; he had no luck
arterwards. I hear his place is mortgaged, and they've got him cited
in chancery.' 'The black knob' is on him, said I. 'The black what,
sir?' says Bluenose. 'Nothin',' says I. 'But the next, who improves
that house?' 'Why that's E. F.'s; he was the greatest farmer in
these parts, another of the aristocracy; had a most a noble stock o'
cattle, and the matter of some hundreds out in j'int notes. Well, he
took the contract for beef with the troops; and he fell astarn, so I
guess it's a gone goose with him. He's heavy mortgaged.' 'Too many
irons agin,' said I. 'Who lives to the left there? That man has a
most a special fine interval, and a grand orchard too; he must be
a good mark, that.' 'Well he was once, sir, a few years ago; but
he built a fullin' mill, and a cardin' mill, and put up a lumber
establishment, and speculated in the West Indy line; but the dam was
carried away by the freshets, the lumber fell, and faith he fell too;
he's shot up, he hain't been seed these two years, his farm is a
common, and fairly run out.' 'Oh,' said I, 'I understand now, my man;
these folks had too many irons in the fire you see, and some on 'em
have got burnt.' 'I never heerd tell of it,' says Bluenose; 'they
might, but not to my knowledge;' and he scratched his head, and
looked as if he would ask the meanin' of it, but didn't like too.
Arter that I axed no more questions; I knew a mortgaged farm as far
as I could see it. There was a strong family likeness in 'em all—the
same ugly features, the same cast o' countenance. The "black knob"
was discernible, there was no mistake: barn doors broken off, fences
burnt up, glass out of windows; more white crops than green, and both
lookin' poor and weedy; no wood pile, no sarse garden, no compost,
no stock; moss in the mowin lands, thistles in the ploughed lands,
and neglect every where; skinnin' had commenced—takin' all out and
puttin' nothin' in—gittin' ready for a move, SO AS TO HAVE NOTHIN'
BEHIND. Flittin' time had come. Foregatherin', for foreclosin'.
Preparin' to curse and quit. That beautiful river we came up today,
What superfine farms it has on both sides of it, hain't it? it's a
sight to behold. Our folks have no notion of such a country so far
down east, beyond creation most, as Nova Scotia is. If I was to draw
up an account of it for the Slickville Gazette, I guess few would
accept it as a bona fide draft, without some 'sponsible man to
indorse it, that warn't given to flammin'. They'd say there was a
land speculation to the bottom of it, or water privilege to put into
the market, or a plaister rock to get off, or some such scheme. They
would, I snore. But I hope I may never see daylight agin, if there's
sich a country in all our great nation, as the VI-cinity of Windsor.
"Now it's jist as like as not, some goney of a Bluenose, that seed
us from his fields, sailin' up full split, with a fair wind on
the packet, went right off home and said to his wife, 'Now do for
gracious' sake, mother, jist look here, and see how slick them
folks go along; and that captain has nothin' to do all day, but sit
straddle legs across his tiller, and order about his sailors, or
talk like a gentleman to his passengers; he's got most as easy a time
of it as Ami Cuttle has, since he took up the fur trade, a-snarin'
rabbits. I guess I'll buy a vessel, and leave the lads to do the
ploughin' and little chores; they've growed up now to be considerable
lumps of boys.' Well, away he'll go, hot foot (for I know the
critters better nor they know themselves), and he'll go and buy some
old wrack of a vessel, to carry plaister, and mortgage his farm to
pay for her. The vessel will jam him up tight for repairs and new
riggin', and the sheriff will soon pay him a visit (and he's a most
particular troublesome visitor that; if he once only gets a slight
how-d'ye-do acquaintance, he becomes so amazin' intimate arterwards,
a-comin' in without knockin', and a-runnin' in and out at all hours,
and makin' so plaguy free and easy, it's about as much as a bargain
if you can get clear of him afterwards). Benipt by the tide, and
benipt by the sheriff, the vessel makes short work with him. Well,
the upshot is, the farm gets neglected while Captain Cuddy is to sea
a-drogin' of plaister. The thistles run over his grain fields, his
cattle run over his hay land, the interest runs over its time, the
mortgage runs over all, and at last he jist runs over to the lines
to Eastport, himself. And when he finds himself there, a-standin' in
the street, near Major Pine's tavern, with his hands in his trouser
pockets, a-chasin' of a stray shillin' from one eend of 'em to
another, afore he can catch it to swap for a dinner, won't he look
like a ravin' distracted fool, that's all? He'll feel about as
streaked as I did once, a-ridin' down the St. John river. It was the
fore part of March—I'd been up to Fredericton a-speculatin' in a
small matter of lumber, and was returnin' to the city, a-gallopin'
along on one of old Buntin's horses, on the ice, and all at one I
missed my horse, he went right slap in and slid under the ice out of
sight as quick as wink, and there I was a-standin' all alone. Well,
says I, what the dogs has become of my horse and port mantle? they
have given me a proper dodge, that's a fact. That is a narrer squeak,
it fairly bangs all. Well, I guess he'll feel near about as ugly,
when he finds himself brought up all standin' that way; and it will
come so sudden on him, he'll say, why, it ain't possible I've lost
farm and vessel both, in tu tu's that way, but I don't see neither on
'em. Eastport is near about all made up of folks who have had to cut
and run for it.
"I was down there last fall, and who should I see but Thomas Rigby,
of Windsor. He knew me the minit he laid eyes upon me, for I had sold
him a clock the summer afore. (I got paid for it, though, for I seed
he had too many irons in the fire not to get some on 'em burnt; and
besides, I knew every fall and spring the wind set in for the lines
from Windsor very strong—a regular trade wind—a sort of monshune,
that blows all one way, for a long time without shiftin'.) Well, I
felt proper sorry for him, for he was a very clever man, and looked
cut up dreadfully, and amazin' down in the mouth. 'Why,' says I,
'possible? is that you, Mr. Rigby? why, as I am alive! if that ain't
my old friend—why, how do you do?' 'Hearty, I thank you,' said he,
'how be you?' 'Reasonable well, I give you thanks,' says I; 'but what
on airth brought you here?' 'Why,' says he, 'Mr. Slick, I couldn't
well avoid it; times are uncommon dull over the bay; there's nothin'
stirrin' there this year, and never will I'm thinkin'. No mortal soul
CAN live in Nova Scotia. I do believe that our country was made of a
Sunday night, arter all the rest of the univarse was finished. One
half of it has got all the ballast of Noah's ark thrown out there;
and the other half is eat up by bankers, lawyers, and other great
folks. All our money goes to pay salaries, and a poor man has no
chance at all.' 'Well,' says I, 'are you done up stock and fluke—a
total wrack?' 'No,' says he, 'I have two hundred pounds left yet to
the good, but my farm, stock and utensils, them young blood horses,
and the bran' new vessel I was a-buildin', are all gone to pot,
swept as clean as a thrashin' floor, that's a fact; Shark and Co.
took all.' 'Well,' says I, 'do you know the reason of all that
misfortin'?' 'Oh,' says he, 'any fool can tell that; bad times to be
sure—everything has turned agin the country, the banks have it all
their own way, and much good may it do 'em.' 'Well,' says I, 'what's
the reason the banks don't eat us up too, for I guess they are as
hungry as your'n be, and no way particular about their food neither;
considerable sharp set—cut like razors, you may depend. I'll tell
you,' says I, 'how you get that 'ere slide, that sent you heels over
head—YOU HAD TOO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE. You hadn't ought to have
taken hold of ship buildin' at all; you knowed nothin' about it. You
should have stuck to your farm, and your farm would have stuck to
you. Now go back, afore you spend your money, go up to Douglas,
and you'll buy as good a farm for two hundred pounds as what you
lost, and see to that, and to that only, and you'll grow rich. As
for banks, they can't hurt a country no great, I guess, except by
breakin', and I conceit there's no fear of your'n breakin'; and as
for lawyers, and them kind o' heavy coaches, give 'em half the road,
and if they run agin you, take the law of 'em. Undivided, unremittin'
attention paid to one thing, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred,
will ensure success; but you know the old sayin' about "TOO MANY
"'Now,' says I, 'Mr. Rigby, what o'clock is it?' 'Why,' says he,
'the moon is up a piece, I guess it's seven o'clock or thereabouts.
I suppose it's time to be a-movin'.' 'Stop,' says I, 'jist come with
me, I got a real nateral curiosity to show you—such a thing as you
never laid your eyes on in Nova Scotia, I know.' So we walked along
towards the beach. 'Now,' says I, 'look at that 'ere man, old Lunar,
and his son, a-sawin' plank by moonlight, for that 'ere vessel on
the stocks there; come agin tomorrow mornin', afore you can cleverly
discarn objects the matter of a yard or so afore you, and you'll
find 'em at it agin. I guess that vessel won't ruinate those folks.
They know their business and stick to it.' Well, away went Rigby,
considerably sulky (for he had no notion that it was his own fault,
he laid all the blame on the folks to Halifax), but I guess he was a
little grain posed, for back he went, and bought to Sowack, where I
hear he has a better farm than he had afore.
"I mind once we had an Irish gal as a dairy help; well, we had a
wicked devil of a cow, and she kicked over the milk pail, and in ran
Dora, and swore the Bogle did it. Jist so poor Rigby, he wouldn't
allow it was nateral causes, but laid it all to politics. Talkin'
of Dora, puts me in mind of the gals, for she warn't a bad-lookin'
heifer that. My! what an eye she had, and I consaited she had a
particular small foot and ankle too, when I helped her up once into
the hay mow, to sarch for eggs; but I can't exactly say, for when she
brought 'em in, mother shook her head and said it was dangerous; she
said she might fall through and hurt herself, and always sent old
Snow afterwards. She was a considerable of a long-headed woman,
was mother; she could see as far ahead as most folks. She warn't
born yesterday, I guess. But that 'ere proverb is true as respects
the gals too. Whenever you see one on 'em with a whole lot of
sweethearts, it's an even chance if she gets married to any on 'em.
One cools off, and another cools off, and before she brings any one
on 'em to the right weldin' heat, the coal is gone and the fire is
out. Then she may blow and blow till she's tired; she may blow up a
dust, but the deuce of a flame can she blow up agin, to save her soul
alive. I never see a clever lookin' gal in danger of that, I don't
long to whisper in her ear, You dear little critter, you, take care!
you have too many irons in the fire; some on 'em will get stone cold,
and t'other ones will get burnt so, they'll never be no good in
Windsor and the Far West.
The next morning the Clockmaker proposed to take a drive round the
neighbourhood. "You hadn't ought," says he, "to be in a hurry; you
should see the VIcinity of this location; there ain't the beat of
it to be found anywhere."
While the servants were harnessing Old Clay, we went to see a new
bridge, which had recently been erected over the Avon River. "That,"
said he, "is a splendid thing. A New Yorker built it, and the folks
in St. John paid for it."
"You mean of Halifax," said I; "St. John is in the other province."
"I mean what I say," he replied, "and it is a credit to New
Brunswick. No, sir, the Halifax folks neither know nor keer much
about the country—they wouldn't take hold on it, and if they had
a waited for them, it would have been one while afore they got a
bridge, I tell you. They've no spirit, and plaguy little sympathy
with the country, and I'll tell you the reason on it. There are a
good many people there from other parts, and always have been, who
come to make money and nothin' else, who don't call it home, and
don't feel to home, and who intend to up killoch and off, as soon as
they have made their ned out of the Bluenoses. They have got about
as much regard for the country as a peddler has, who trudges along
with a pack on his back. He WALKS, 'cause he intends to RIDE at last;
TRUSTS, 'cause he intends to SUE at last; SMILES, 'cause he intends
to CHEAT at last; SAVES ALL, 'cause he intends to MOVE ALL at
last. It's actilly overrun with transient paupers, and transient
speculators, and these last grumble and growl like a bear with a sore
head, the whole blessed time, at everything; and can hardly keep a
civil tongue in their head, while they're fobbin' your money hand
over hand. These critters feel no interest in anything but cent per
cent; they deaden public spirit; they hain't got none themselves,
and they larf at it in others; and when you add their numbers to the
timid ones, the stingy ones, the ignorant ones, and the poor ones
that are to be found in every place, why the few smart-spirited ones
that's left are too few to do anything, and so nothin' is done. It
appears to me if I was a Bluenose I'd—but thank fortin' I ain't, so
I says nothin'; but there is somethin' that ain't altogether jist
right is this country, that's a fact.
"But what a country this Bay country is, isn't it? Look at that
medder, bean't it lovely? The prayer-eyes of Illanoy are the top of
the ladder with us, but these dykes take the shine off them by a
long chalk, that's sartin. The land in our far west, it is generally
allowed, can't be no better; what you plant is sure to grow and yield
well, and food is so cheap you can live there for half nothin'. But
it don't agree with us New England folks; we don't enjoy good health
there; and what in the world is the use of food, if you have such an
etarnal dyspepsy you can't digest it? A man can hardly live there
till next grass afore he is in the yaller leaf. Just like one of our
bran' new vessels built down in Maine, of best hackmatack, or what's
better still, of our real American live oak (and that's allowed to be
about the best in the world); send her off to the West Indies, and
let her lie there awhile, and the worms will riddle her bottom all
full of holes like a tin cullender, or a board with a grist of duck
shot through it, you wouldn't believe what a BORE they be. Well,
that's jist the case with the western climate. The heat takes the
solder out of the knees and elbows, weakens the joints and makes the
"Besides, we like the smell of the salt water; it seems kinder
nateral to us New Englanders. We can make more a-ploughin' of the
seas, than ploughin' of a prayer-eye. It would take a bottom near
about as long as Connecticut river, to raise wheat enough to buy the
cargo of a Nantucket whaler, or a Salem tea ship. And then to leave
one's folks, and naTIVE place where one was raised, halter broke,
and trained to go in gear, and exchange all the comforts of the Old
States for them are new ones, don't seem to go down well at all. Why
the very sight of the Yankee gals is good for sore eyes, the dear
little critters! They do look so scrumptious, I tell you, with their
cheeks bloomin' like a red rose budded on a white one, and their eyes
like Mrs. Adams's diamonds (that folks say shine as well in the dark
as in the light), neck like a swan, lips chock full of kisses—lick!
It fairly makes one's mouth water to think on 'em. But it's no
use talkin', they are just made critters that's a fact, full of
health and life and beauty. Now, to change them 'ere splendid
white water-lillies of Connecticut and Rhode Island for the
yaller crocusses of Illanoy, is what we don't like. It goes most
confoundedly agin the grain, I tell you. Poor critters, when they get
away back there, they grow as thin as a sawed lath; their little
peepers are as dull as a boiled codfish; their skin looks like yaller
fever, and they seem all mouth like a crocodile. And that's not the
worst of it neither, for when a woman begins to grow saller it's
all over with her; she's up a tree then you may depend, there's no
mistake. You can no more bring back her bloom than you can the colour
to a leaf the frost has touched in the fall. It's gone goose with
her, that's a fact. And that's not all, for the temper is plaguy apt
to change with the cheek too. When the freshness of youth is on the
move, the sweetness of temper is amazin' apt to start along with it.
A bilious cheek and a sour temper are like the Siamese twins, there's
a nateral cord of union atween them. The one is a sign board, with
the name of the firm written on it in big letters. He that don't
know this, can't read, I guess. It's no use to cry over spilt milk,
we all know, but it's easier said than done, that. Women kind, and
especially single folks, will take on dreadful at the fadin' of their
roses, and their frettin' only seems to make the thorns look sharper.
Our minister used to say to sister Sall (and when she was young she
was a real witch, a'most an everlastin' sweet girl), 'Sally,' he used
to say, 'now's the time to larn when you are young; store your mind
well, dear, and the fragrance will remain long arter the rose has
shed its leaves. The otter of roses is stronger than the rose, and a
plaguy sight more valuable.' Sall wrote it down; she said it warn't
a bad idee that; but father larfed, he said he guessed minister's
courtin' days warn't over, when he made such pretty speeches as
that 'ere to the gals. Now, who would go to expose his wife or his
darters, or himself, to the dangers of such a climate for the sake of
thirty bushels of wheat to the acre instead of fifteen? There seems a
kinder somethin' in us that rises in our throat when we think on it,
and won't let us. We don't like it. Give me the shore, and let them
that like the Far West go there, I say.
"This place is as fartile as Illanoy or Ohio, as healthy as any part
of the Globe, and right along side of the salt water; but the folks
want three things—INDUSTRY, ENTERPRISE, ECONOMY; these Bluenoses
don't know how to vally this location; only look at it, and see what
a place for bisness it is: the centre of the Province; the nateral
capital of the Basin of Minas, and part of the Bay of Fundy; the
great thoroughfare to St. John, Canada, and the United States; the
exports of lime, gypsum, freestone and grindstone; the dykes—but
it's no use talkin'; I wish we had it, that's all. Our folks are like
a rock maple tree: stick 'em in anywhere, but eend up and top down,
and they will take root and grow; but put 'em in a real good soil
like this, and give 'em a fair chance, and they will go ahead and
thrive right off, most amazin' fast, that's a fact. Yes, if we had
it, we would make another guess place of it from what it is. IN ONE
YEAR WE WOULD HAVE A RAILROAD TO HALIFAX, WHICH, UNLIKE THE STONE
THAT KILLED TWO BIRDS, WOULD BE THE MAKIN' OF BOTH PLACES. I often
tell the folks this, but all they can say is, 'Oh, we are too poor
and too young.' Says I, 'You put me in mind of a great long legged,
long tailed colt, father had. He never changed his name of colt as
long as he lived, and he was as old as the hills; and though he had
the best of feed, was as thin as a whippin' post. He was colt all his
days—always young—always poor; and young and poor you'll be, I
guess to the eend of the chapter.'"
On our return to the inn, the weather, which had been threatening
for some time past, became very tempestuous. It rained for three
successive days and the roads were almost impassible. To continue my
journey was wholly out of the question. I determined therefore, to
take a seat in the coach for Halifax, and defer until next year the
remaining part of my tour. Mr. Slick agreed to meet me here in June,
and to provide for me the same conveyance I had used from Amherst.
I look forward with much pleasure to our meeting again. His manner
and idiom were to me perfectly new and very amusing; while his good
sound sense, searching observation, and queer humour, rendered
his conversation at once valuable and interesting. There are many
subjects on which I should like to draw him out; and I promise myself
a fund of amusement in his remarks on the state of society and
manners at Halifax, and the machinery of the local government, on
both of which he appears to entertain many original and some very
As he took leave of me in the coach, he whispered, "Inside of your
great big cloak you will find wrapped up a box, containin' a thousand
real genuine first chop Havanas—no mistake—the clear thing. When
you smoke 'em think sometimes of your old companion, SAM SLICK THE