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ton ever felt prouder than I did at the head of his patriotic army after the achievement of the most brilliant victory that during the Revolution wreathed his noble brow.
At another time we constructed ships out of corn-stalks, manned them with so many cannons formed of cane, and launched them upon the deep waters of a tan vat. These little floating navies all being put in readiness for battle, began to manoeuvre, and soon the fearful engagement took place; and as the cane cannons were booming away, the favorite of my little ships seemed to be so eager for the blood of her enemies, that she would sometimes leap the full length of her cable toward them. A terrible cannonading continued; each vessel trembled upon the agitated waters in extreme suspense, first one being crippled and then another sunk. My fleet, from the masts of which were streaming the immortal stars and stripes—which floated in triumph over the bloody fields of the seven years' war, like the colors from the heights of the brave old ship Constitutionsurvived the heaviest shocks of the hour, while those which supported the red flags went down. Here again I saw that the victory was mine.
My ships were already mooring in the midst of the wrecked and ruined vessels of the enemy, and my bosom, which for the time had been stirred with an almost breathless anxiety, now swelled higher with enthusiastic emotion, and throbbed if possible with a nobler sense of pride than ever heaved the manly breast of Commodore Perry at any moment while the British were surrendering to him on the waters of Lake Erie.
At the age of eleven years I was left at home alone, sole proprietor as it were of the little farm. My father and brother, the latter of whom was only sixteen years old, had enlisted for the war, and were started to meet the great English lion, which now stood upon and was prowling over our native soil, while he snarled and shook his shaggy mane, and vengeance glared in his fiery eyes for what he looked upon as presumptuous insolence in our brave fathers. Still feeling the spirit of war in me, I wanted to join the army with them; and 0, how I implored my father to let me go! But he kindly told me that I was too young to bear arms, that his little home required some protection; and no matter how great my mania for the field, he had been a father who had won my confidence. I knew that he had always acted honestly with and spoken truthfully to me; that he possessed none of that detestable quality, low cunning, and had never encouraged me to do wrong, thus exercising over me the strongest rod that could be placed into a parent's hand. I consented to remain, and a tear trickled down my cheek as they bade me adieu. When they were gone I began to move about, look around and reflect, and thought, no matter if I was disappointed in treading the plains which were being rocked by my country's battles, I was proprietor of a farm, and, like Selkirk, was monarch of all I surveyed.
Previous to my father's departure he had shot a mad dog which bit a calf of his, and one day while my brother was at home on a furlough he went out, and coming in told me that he believed the calf was mad; that it had rolled its eyes at him. I told him that I was not afraid, started, and coming to the lot fence, I leaped over and went directly to the calf, which was standing at the opposite side with his head close in the corner of the fence. I slapped my hand upon his hindquarters, expecting him to turn round to eat as he usually did, but, to my surprise, he shook his head, and as he turned rolled his eyes as if he was entering the last dying agony. My courage failed: I took to my scrapers, and perhaps never made a narrower escape, for it was a trial of speed across a wide lot, he bellowing on my heels at every stride I could possibly make until I reached the fence, which I did not climb but just kind o' rolled over.
After so long a time the old warrior, my father, returned and blessed his boy; and when I was about sixteen years of age, still living with him, I began in my mind to cast about in quest of an occupation to follow through life, and without stopping to spend a single thought upon the learned professions, I soon ran over the whole catalogue of the trades, but crossed none which I thought I should like to pursue, which left me with the conclusion that I should like to spend my life as a farmer, and, according to the philosophy of many persons belonging to those days, I hugged to my bosom the opinion that tillers of the soil had but little use for an education; but I can now see that I was embosoming a viper, which was to hiss and sting me through every subsequent period of my life; and still another opinion that I had was that a manual laborer had