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War and love have various cares;--- War sheds blood, and love sheds tears, War has swords, and love has darts, War breaks heads, and love breaks hearts. M'Carrocher.
Let melancholy spirits talk as they please concerning the degeneracy and increasing miseries of mankind, I will not believe them. They have been speaking ill of themselves, and predicting worse of their posterity, from time immemorial; and yet, in the present year, 1823, when, if the one hundreth part of their gloomy forebodings had been realized, the earth must have become a Pandemonium, and men something worse than devils, (for devils they have been long ago, in the opinion of these charitable denunciators,) I am free to assert, that we have as many honest men, pretty women, healthy children, cultivated fields, convenient houses, elegant kinds of furniture, and comfortable clothes, as any generation of our ancestors ever possessed.
This notion of mine, be it right or wrong, has not resulted from any course of abstract syllogizing upon the nature of things, a mode of discovering truth in which I never had much confidence. It has arisen from that more certain source of acquiring opinions, vulgarly called "ocular demonstration"--- having lately had a view of part of that portion of the American hemisphere, which extends from the South Mountain in Pennsylvania, over the Alleghany ridge, to the head of the Ohio river; a country which, in the recollection of many yet living, was long the scene of want, hunger, desolation, terror, and savage warfare; where the traveller had not a path to guide his course, nor, in a journey of many days, could find a hut in which to repose his frame; where the hardy white man, who ventured to make a settlement, had not a neighbour within many a league, and where he seldom retired for the night, without fearing that, before the morning, both his family and himself might become the victims of the tomahawk and the scalping-knife.
As a remedy for the unhappy malady under which the misanthropic believers in the deteriorating condition of mankind labour, I think, that an attentive ramble, at the present day, over this extensive region, making, at the same time, a careful comparison between what it now is, and what it was about fifty years ago, would be effectual. Wild and giigantic mountains are, indeed, still there; but beautiful and well cultivated valleys, lying on the bosom of peace, and in the lap of plenty, are spread beside them. At the distance of every two or three hours' ride, a flourishing town or village, inhabited by sober Christians and industrious freemen, salutes the eye of the traveller; while people of all ages, sexes, tastes, and tempers, enliven the road as they pass along,
Far different was the situation of things in this fair region of the earth, when Gilbert Frazier first erected his log-house on the bank of the Monongahela. Then, indeed, might a misanthropic grumbler have had reason to complain of the condition of men, at least of those men whose fate it was to be planted like Gilbert, in a savage "Wilderness." It was fate, indeed, and not choice, as may well be supposed, that had, at first, planted him there; but notwithstanding his residence was exposed to numerous inconveniences, and constant dangers, a stout heart, (for he had a good conscience and feared nothing,) combined with a feeling of generosity, the source of which will be hereafter explained, to bind him to it, and Providence had hitherto preserved him in safety. Nay, in process of time, habit had so reconciled him to his situation, that he scarcely looked upon the misfortune that had brought him there as an evil. Years had mellowed its impression upon his mind; and, sitting by his winter fireside, he would often relate the story to his family with much the same feeling that a sailor, snug on shore, recounts the dangers he has undergone at sea.
He had entered the world nearly about the same time with the century in which he lived, and somewhere between Colerain and Londonderry,
As Gilbert wished to make his dear Nelly
"What fine times will it then be for Nelly, (thought he,) when, dressed in her silks and laces, she visits her poor cousins, the Burrels and the Blairs, and gives each of them every year, on
To America, therefore, it was settled that he should go; but think not, that he separated from
"We neednot grieve now, our friends to leave now, For Erin's fields we again shall see; But first a lady in Pennsylvania, My dear, remember thou art to be."
Whether this promise of her becoming a Pennsylvanian lady, had the consolatory effect upon his wife that Gilbert intended, I cannot say; but it is certain, that except about three weeks, during which she laboured under the tortures of sea-sickness, she endured a boisterous passage of nearly three months with considerable liveliness and good humour. At length, if we may believe Gilbert's own account of the matter, one Sunday morning---(as good luck would have it)---he had the happiness to land on the wharf at Philadelphia, with his Nelly in his arm, and twenty gold guineas in his pocket.
Gilbert was now in the Land of Promise, the bright Eldorado of his imagination, where every
At length his twenty guineas were reduced to ten; and he began to think, for he had a mixture of Scotch blood in him, that he should do something to prevent their farther reduction. He expressed his wishes to several of the natives, expecting that they would make him acquainted with the plan of getting rich which suited their country. They told him to "work."
"Work!"ejaculated Gilbert to himself; for he had the prudence to perceive that it would not do to affront the natives, by expressing audibly any feelings of disappointment respecting their country---
"work! an' was it for that, after a', that I left the snug toonlan' o' Maughrygowan, an' cam' owre the ocean, whan I thoucht I wad become a gentleman on my very landin! Work! why what waur could I hae done at hame, than to have
However, Gilbert was not of a temper to be cast down by trifles; and, as his eyes were now pretty much opened to the real circumstances of the country, and his funds were every day diminishing, he thought at last of seriously betaking himself to
In a short time Gilbert's diligence and good conduct became noted among his neighbours, and several gentlemen of property were heard to speak in his commendation. It may be here observed, that the manners of the Philadelphians towards strangers on first settling among them, seem, at this day, to be much the same as our friend Gilbert found them to be a hundred years ago, that is, reserved, discouraging, and forbidding,
Gilbert Frazier's merit was also pretty much of the kind that has always been in highest estimation with the inhabitants of Philadelphia---for "
But, although resolute and determined to do what he could to earn a comfortable and honest living, the income of his occupation, which was only that of a common labourer, was by far too inconsiderable to satisfy his wishes. He was also, on account of having received, when he was about five months in the city, from his Nelly, the interesting present of a fine son, to whom, although he was no catholic, he gave the name of Patrick, in honour of his native tutelary saint, the more solicitous to change his employment for one more lucrative. He had been bred to no mechanical trade, and he had neither inclination nor talents for traffic. The management of a farm was, therefore, what best suited him; and it was not long
On this place Gilbert had resided about ten years, and had thriven so much, that he felt himself able to make to its owner such proposals for purchasing it, as he had every reason to believe would be accepted; when, unfortunately, a formidable party of Indians made a furious irruption into the settlement, and after pillaging or destroying whatever articles of value came in their way, they carried off, as prisoners, upwards of twenty families, among whom was that of the unhappy Gilbert. He was, at this time, the father of three children, two sons and a daughter, who, with their mother and himself, were carried rapidly, for more than two hundred miles, over a pathless and interminable wilderness of thick, lonely, and gloomy forest, corresponding in its state of wild and dismal savageness with the nature of the ferocious and vengeful prowlers, on whose barbarous caprice their very existence now depended.
To expend a quantity of elaborate tropes and sounding superlatives in describing the woful contrast produced by this disaster upon Gilbert's affairs, would not, I am convinced, in the slightest degree, strengthen that vivid conception of it with which the reader must be already impressed. The threats, the barbarities and exultation of the savages; the terrors, the tears, the lamentations and the actual sufferings of the captives, many of whom, during their rapid and cruel march, died of their wounds or their ill-treatment, might require description if they were not already present to every imagination. The party at length arrived
Accordingly it so happened; for out of about seventy prisoners, there were only five selected to be burned, and about twenty to run the gauntlet. It was Gilbert's fate, however, to be one of the latter; but he underwent it courageously, and being "brave an' supple," as he himself phrased it, he reached the goal with the infliction only of a few bruise, which broke neither bone nor blood-vessel. A few days afterwards the greater number of the prisoners were marched off, as Gilbert was informed to Canada. With respect to himself he, together with his family, were permitted to
Nelly, whose mind had been greatly shaken by her misfortunes, soon began to recover her serenity after the departure of the other prisoners; and permitted as she was to enjoy the society of her children and her Gilbert, she thought it ungrateful to repine at that providence which had been so much kinder to her than to so many others of her companions in misfortune. Gilbert's mind, also, on this occasion took a pious turn, so that both husband and wife felt in their adversity, a disposition to religious exercises, to which, during the period of their prosperity they had been strangers. Such feelings are natural, and could be easily accounted for, but it is not the province of a novelist to do so. His duty obliges him only to state the fact, and leave it to the philosopher, or rather, perhaps, the divine, to discover the cause.
Although Gilbert and his family had been exempted from many of the severities which they saw inflicted upon their unfortunate fellow-prisoners, their minds were still much agitated with apprehension; for they knew not how soon so capricious a people as the Indians, would take it into their heads to torment, and perhaps, destroy them. But the same religious feelings which made them thankful to heaven for the reprieve they had obtained, inspired them also with hopes of continued protection and final deliverance.
But Gilbert's mind was not so entirely engrossed with his own concerns, as to spare no feelings of sympathy for the more disastrous fate of his neighbours; and he was considerably puzzled to
"Ah! it is a wonnerfu' thing,"said he to Nelly,
to think how they were permitted to burn that holy man, Matthew Morrison, that they say never missed makin' family worship three times a day since he began hoose-keepin', an' yet to owre-look a caulrife member o' the kirk like me, an' no saelig;[sic] muckle as brak' a bane in my body!"
"Matthew Morrison was fit for heaven, an' the Lord took him,"was Nelly's reply;
"but he has gien ye time to repent---"
"An' oh! that he would gie grace wi't!"returned Gilbert,
"baith to make me thankfu' for't, an' to use it richt."
"Ay, ay, Gilbert,"she observed---
"we should aye be constant in prayin' for his grace, baith to pardon us an' to guide us, for ye ken they're weel guided, that He guides."
In this manner did Gilbert and his wife frequently converse and encourage each other, on this occasion; and although their minds were naturally much agitated with fears and doubts, they were still supported by the kindly influence of piety and hope.
It was not long, however, before Gilbert discovered the agent to whom, under providence, he was indebted for the favour he had experienced from the Indians. A French officer came one day into his tent and, to his great surprise, addressed him in English.
"I have been the means,"said he,
"of preventing you and your family from being sent to Canada, and I wish from you a favour in return."
"A favour! your honour!"replied Gilbert, who instantly felt the workings of gratitude in his heart,
"A favour---ay! that you shall---only tell me how I maun do it, an' I'll rin owre the worl' to oblige you."
"I do not wish to send you quite so far,"returned the officer,
"but, if you would have no objection to part with your wife for a few weeks, I have occasion for her services."
At this Gilbert bent his head, and looked somewhat glum, which the officer observing, corrected his phraseology, by saying---
"But no---I will not separate you from her. I'll obtain permission for you also to go; and your children---you will all be as secure there as here."
"An' whar do you want us to gang?---and what want ye wi' Nelly?"asked Gilbert in a tone half angry, and half fearful.
The officer perceived the state of his feelings, and with a smile observed---
"I shall answer your last question first, as I believe you consider it the most important. It is a female, and to be plain with you, my own wife, who wishes at present for the society and attendance of a white woman. She is far advanced in pregnancy, and is unfortunately surrounded altogether with Indians, for the presence of whose females, on the occasion she so soon expects, she has the utmost aversion. When I perceived your wife among the prisoners, a married woman, the mother of children, and of decent, respectable appearance and demeanour, I at once conceived that she would make a suitable companion for mine under present circumstances; and, therefore, I successfully exerted myself to prevent your being sent away with the other prisoners. As to your first question---where I wish to send you?---My wife is at present under the protection of an Indian Queen, who resides on the bank of the Monongahela, a large river about forty miles distant."
During this statement, the countenances of both Gilbert and his wife brightened into an expression of delight, which perfectly satisfied the officer that they would cheerfully and thankfully comply with his wishes.
"We will attend ye, sir"---replied Gilbert--- instinctively reaching for his hat, of which the Indians had not deprived him, and which now lay on a short log that was used inside of the tent for a seat---
"yes---your honour"---said he, clapping it on his head, and making a motion to march forward---
"we will attend you, or your sweet wife, by nicht or by day, in a' weathers, an' whare'er ye like to send us."
Nelly also assured him of the care and zeal with which she would serve his wife, in order to make some return for what he had done for them.
The next morning, therefore, the officer accompanied them to the residence of Queen Alliquippa, a short distance above Turtle Creek, near the Monongahela river.
In a reasonable time our party arrived at the royal wigwam of Alliquippa. Reader! startle not at the word royal---for why should not a wigwam be royal as well as a palace, when it is the residence of a queen? If we believe those who conceive that royalty altogether consists in a fair, uncorrupted descent of legitimate blood from enthroned ancestors, or in the title given by a blood thirsty sword, to the supreme authority of a conquered country, then it has nothing more to do with a mansion built of marble and covered with gold, than with a hut constructed of oak bark, and covered with rush mats, except this, that whenever it can, for it is a very selfish principle, it secures to itself residences of the former kind. But setting abstract reasoning aside, for I hate it in a novel, we hear of royal gardens, royal forests, royal
Having settled this important point, we shall introduce Gilbert and his family to her majesty, who received them graciously, and presented each of them with a string of beads made of red berries, in token of her royal favour. She was seated on a conveniently formed block of wood, about eighteen inches high, covered with a neat mat, in the outer apartment of the wigwam,---for this edifice, although the generality of its species contain only one apartment, happened to contain two, the
She was dressed, when Gilbert first saw her, in rather a showy costume. A kind of diadem made of the red feathers of the flamingo plaited together, encircled her brows, and, in some parts, seemed to be fancifully enwreathed with her hair, which was very plentiful, and of a brilliant jet colour. A large splendid crystal hung pendent from each ear; and from her neck, which, as well as a considerable part of her breast, was bare,
The ceremony of introducing the strangers to her Shannoah majesty being over, she addressed the French officer as follows.
"My Brother, "I am glad you are come back so soon.--- My sister---your wife---was cast down in your absence. But I could not blame her---for I remember when Shanalow, my husband, went first to hunt, after our marriage, I was disconsolate, and dreamed every night of evil till he returned. He is now gone to his fathers, and shall never more return. But he died of a breast-wound fighting the Otawas, and our whole tribe has praised him.
"Brother! you did well to bring these people--- your wife will be better pleased with a woman of the east, than with my squaws. You will tell me at another time, why the rising sun gives a fairer skin than the setting.
"Brother! I shall order provisions for your people. But your wife wishes for your conversation. I shall detain you no longer than to request,
The officer made a suitable reply, and the conversation, descending from the stateliness of ceremony, became promiscuous and familiar.
Nelly soon became much attached to the officer's lady, who was, indeed, as sweet and lovely a woman as the sun ever beheld. They had, at first, some difficulty in understanding each other's discourse, for the lady, who was a French woman, spoke but imperfect English; and with respect to Nelly's English, she scarcely knew one word in ten. But minds that are disposed to accommodate each other soon overcome difficulties of this kind; and Nelly and her mistress, in less than twenty four hours' acquaintance, contrived not only to be mutually intelligible, but mutually agreeable and interesting.
As to Gilbert, his habits of industry while he resided on the Juniata, rendered his present prospect of idleness irksome, and perceiving at the junction of Turtle Creek with the Monongahela, a short distance from the wigwam, a suitable place for building a log cabin, which he thought would be a more convenient residence for the French lady on the approaching occasion, he proposed to her husband to erect one, which, with the aid of a few axes and a few Indians, he said he could do, so as to make it considerably more commodious than the wigwam, in a single week. The officer gladly acceded to the proposal, and procured from Alliquippa, not only permission for Gilbert to build the house, but also a grant to him of several hundred acres of the land around it.
Gilbert knew too well how to appreciate this unexpected piece of good fortune, not to turn it to advantage. He immediately commenced
On the first intelligence of this event, he sunk to the earth overpowered with anguish; but, recovering his muscular energy he suddenly arose, hastened to the beloved corpse, and pressed it to his bosom in an agony of sorrow. Tears now gushed from his eyes, and to all appearance he became somewhat calmed. He asked to see his infant. Nelly brought it forward. He kissed it with an almost convulsive fervour, and burst again into tears. He then withdrew to a bench on which, with his throbbing temples pressed between his hands, he sat in silent anguish for a short time. He then started to his feet.
"Mrs. Frazier,"said he,
"dreadful, dreadful has been my loss! and dreadful has it been to that infant! I have lost---but oh! I need not now recount her virtues, her loveliness, her tenderness! The world now has nothing for me!---But what will become of this---Oh! God!---God! support me! Oh! protect this tender plant! Nelly, I conjure you to be its mother, for it has now none else. And you, my friend!"he here caught Gilbert by the hand,
"be you in place of that unhappy father, who is now unfit to look after it---here, here!"So saying, he ran to one of his wife's trunks,---
"here, take this,"and he cast a purse of gold upon a table,
"and whatever else these trunks contain---support my child---bury my wife decently. Oh, God! her grave will be here in the wilderness, but her soul is with thee in
He again ran hastily to the corpse, and embracing it for several minutes,---
"Farewell, farewell!"he at length exclaimed, and hurried out of the house.
Gilbert, after a moment's deliberation, followed him, for he saw him in a fit of frenzy, and dreaded his committing some rash and fatal deed. But he had disappeared, and Gilbert perceiving from the thickness and intricacy of the woods, that pursuit would be fruitless, soon returned to console and assist his wife, whom grief had rendered almost unable to attend to her domestic duties.
Alliquippa, who was much affected with these distressing occurrences, attended herself, and ordered a number of her tribe to assist at the funeral of her deceased friend, which they readily did; so that Gilbert had the satisfaction to see the remains of this unfortunate lady deposited in the earth in as decent and respectable a manner as the circumstances of the time and the place would admit.
As to the infant whom Providence had thus thrown upon his care, he was resolved both to do for it a father's duty, and cherish for it a father's feelings; and on conversing with his wife, he found her not only ready to approve, but solicitous to perform, every benevolent wish he had conceived in its favour. The little orphan, therefore, whom they named Maria, as its mother had been so called, they resolved to esteem as their own offspring, and provide for it accordingly.
It was now a matter of much deliberation with Gilbert and his wife, whether they should determine to make a permanent residence on the spot where Providence had placed them, or endeavour to obtain permission from the Indians to return to their former habitation on the Juniata.
"I canna weel tell, Nelly,"said he,
"what's best to be done. Gin we stay here, we may ne'er see the face o' a gospel Christian again, unless it may be some blackguard trader, drappin' ance or twice a year doon the river, to cheat the Indians o' their furs. I ne'er liked them traders---it's their cheatery that mak's the Indians sae
"An' what's the warst o't,"observed Nelly,
"if we stay here, we'll no see a worshippin' congregation in a hale lifetime."
"But we can worship as the bible directs in oor ain family,"he replied;
"for Joshua said, that he an' his hoose should serve the Lord: an' ye remember what oor minister at the Juniata himsel' has aften said, that if we seek the Lord sincerely at oor ain fireside, he will be fan' there as readily as in a temple, by whilk he meant a church or a meetin-hoose; for, I tak' it, that he could na think o' Solomon's temple, that was burnt lang syne in the days o' the Jews. Besides, I fear muckle whether the savages will gie us leave to gang back; an' ye ken it's an unco road."
"Ah! I weel ken that,"said she;
"it's na road ava. In Ireland, we had better anes through the peat bogs."
"Ah! dinna talk o' Ireland,"he replied, drawing a deep sigh;
"it mak's my heart sair ilka time it's named. But we maun e'en bend to Providence--- an' it's late in the year: gin we had liberty, I doot muckle, whether we could mak' oor way hame withoot a road to guide us in frosty weather, and four helpless weans wi' us. Think o't, Nelly!---"
"I do think o't,"she replied;
"I doot muckle we maun bide here for yen season at ony rate. We canna think o' the road just noo, an' we hae a
"An' I'm thinkin' beside,"observed Gilbert,
"that we hae a chance gin we bide, to hear frae, or may be see, oor wee helpless Mary's father, gin he be in the lan' o' the leevin', whilk may be o' mair use to the puir bairn than ony thing we can do for it."
"Ye're quite richt, Gilbert---puir wee Mary!"Here Nelly lifted the object of her condolence in her arms, and kissed it:
"Puir wee thing!"she continued,
"we'll bide here; ye're father's, may be, to the fore yet, an' may come back in search o' ye. Gilbert! I think it wad, indeed, be wrang to gang aff. The gentleman's mind may come to him again, an' he may want his dochter, an' wadna ken whar to find her if we were gane."
"It's a' true,"replied Gilbert;
"an' ye ken the place at the Juniata was nae oor ain either; an' the pleneshin' has been a' ruined; an' so, on the puir bairn's accoont, I think we had as gude content oorsels. I'll e'en try to fence awee, an' chap wood, an' put some things in order to mak' us leevin'-like through the winter; an', wi' the blessin' o' God, we'll try to be content an' thankfu'."
It was now that Gilbert began, in the midst of the desert, that course of industry which, in a short time, created a smiling and comfortable farm round him, and which, in a few years, attached him so much to the place, that he abandoned all thoughts of ever leaving it.
Alliquippa and her Indians continued friendly to him, and occasionally assisted him in the heavier exertions which his improvements required; but their habits were too unsteady and uncalculating, ever to imitate him by making any of their own. Besides, they were now almost entirely occupied in
History informs us, that the French, who, at this time, claimed the whole of Western America, from Quebec to New Orleans, were now very industrious in urging the Indians to restrain the rapid progress that the British settlements were making in that direction. The savage warriors had, besides these, other inducements of a powerful nature to urge them in lifting the hatchet against the adventurous frontier settlers. These settlers, instead of attempting to soothe and conciliate a people whose heritage they were thus gradually, but rapidly, engrossing to themselves, treated them, often unnecessarily, as enemies, and always repaid blood with blood, and outrage with outrage.
In the savage state the feeling of revenge is, perhaps, the strongest and most inveterate that actuates the minds, especially of a warlike people; and, heaven knows, the unfortunate Indians were never allowed to remain long without suffering abundance of injuries to excite this feeling;---a feeling which not only their natural propensities, but their religious opinions taught them to believe that it was meritorious to gratify. It is reasonable also to suppose, that a taste for pillage must have had its influence upon numbers of those improvident and homeless warriors, who were engaged in the sanguinary depredations so frequently committed on the white inhabitants of the frontier settlements in Pennsylvania and Virginia