When not too

trees, his favorites were Dryden, Collins, and Gray. deeply imbued to render his utterance indistinct, he recited lyric poetry with considerable propriety. I used to think that he spoke Alexander's Feast' to a miracle, and took especial notice of that part which contains the praise of Bacchus :

[blocks in formation]

Here his flaming cheeks, preternatural vivacity, and eyeballs starting from his head, almost possessed one with the idea that he was a personification of the god himself:

'Now strike the golden lyre again,

A louder yet, and yet a louder strain;

Break his bands of sleep asunder,

And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder!'


Wo be to any one that offered him insult, at this impassioned moment! Wo be to any one that approached too near the blustering deity! else would he suit the action to the word, and 'rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder,' indeed. To have seen the old man at such a time, after he had been tipsily quaffing,' surrounded by school-boys, and raving poetry, would have reminded you of that fine eclogue of Virgil, where the satyrs caught the old Silenus sleeping in his grotto, and stained his brows with mulberries, and bound him hand and foot with his own garlands, and when he awoke, laughing heartily at the fraud, demanded of him their promised song. And he smiled, and sang most philosophically of the beginning of all things, when fire, earth, air, and water, were mingled in the vasty void. And the song was even more exquisite than that of Phoebus or Orpheus, so that the fawns, and the oaks, and the rocks, danced until the rising of the evening star.



Joe Haywood was a great friend of school-boys, and justly, for they served him many a good turn, and vice versa. He was skilled in classic lore, and could bellow forth whole pages of Latin and Greek, like Porson. So that if the bell was nearly done ringing, and the last part of my Virgil,' or of my Anacreon,' or of my Cicero,' (such is the affectionate language with which school-boys appropriate their beloved authors,) was not learned, what a very present help was Joe! How many a tranverse timber has he explicated in 'the bridge' of Cæsar, and expounded many a passage in the wanderings of the pius Eneas.' He was the dernier resort in time of trouble, serving instead of Ainsworth, ordo,' 'explicatio,' and every other help to the attainment of the tongues. He was a Gradus ad Parnassum' to the idle,




and had abundance of epithets' to eke out nonsense verses.' In short, he was a species of out-door professor of languages at the academy. Under him, we were all philosophers of the peripatetic sect, walking constantly about the play grounds, and bestowing on fives, base, cricket, and foot ball, the irreparabile tempus' due to the 'wise men of Greece.' Hence he was quite a troublous fellow to the in-door professors. They found nothing classic in his bacchant air;' they loved him not, and wished him afar off. Yet was it dangerous to reprove Joseph Haywood, he was so dangerously quick at rejoinder. He would raise an irrepressible laugh, crushing their bolstered dignity- angering them grievously. A crabbed old usher used to order him peremptorily from the grounds, with a 'procul O! procul,' rolling the dog-letter r round his tongue, as was his snarling custom; to which Joe would reply voluminously, with a string of opprobrious epithets from Aristophanes or Lucian. And then fifty bats would immediately fall to the ground, and balls roll unheeded over the grass, and groups assemble at a respectful distance, and delightedly survey a contest of more engrossing interest than all the wars of Cæsar. The usher came, saw, and was conquered,' by the universal assent of the by-standers, morally conquered; but he took vengeance by having Joe carried from the dominions by brute force. He returned however duly to his post the next day, expounded Latin and Greek, and received the secret reward of his services a suffi ciency of pence to make him oblivious for the day. Once, and once only, did he fall out with his juvenile friends, when young Charlesreceived his opaque bottle to be filled. He, with the sportive temerity of a child, went to a pure spring, and while the waters reflected his laughing face, and the nymphs stood smiling by, filled it full of the clear, rejoicing wave. Joe Haywood received the gift, recumbent, and turning up the bottle, with a twinkling eye, exhausted half of it at a draught. Evoe Bacchus ! what a rage!


[ocr errors]

It is probable that more heathen mythology was learned from this veteran in a month, than from Lemprière, or Tooke's Pantheon, in a year. He was considered the true oracle, from whom classic lore might be more legitimately derived, being always in that state of fine frenzy so necessary for giving the response. Charmingly did he chaunt the odes of Horace; and the lighter precepts of Anacreon had a peculiar grace, as they came from the professing lips of the bacchanal. He dwelt much on the expedition of Bacchus into India, a sublime fiction of the ancients, and recited the progress of the god, with his attendant train:

[blocks in formation]

In short, he would talk in a very raphsodical manner, mingling Latin,



Greek, and English together, until he was too drunk for any thing, or was prematurely ordered away by the usher aforesaid.

I remember more than one of those out-door scenes, and think I can now see Mr. coming down the long portico, on his errand of hostility, his old frock coat of blue flying around his skeleton legs, his head denuded, and spectacles superciliously adjusted, face of a scarlet redness, and eyes somewhat blood-shot, (for he himself was no stranger to the most generous juices,) and approaching the spot where Joe was lying sub tegmine fagi!' On full tilt would he come, with perchance a pair of asses' ears cut out of stiff copy-book covers dangling by a string from his button-hole, (for the lengthening of their ears was the classic penalty to juvenile delinquents,) and something like the following confabulation would ensue :


USHER. • Odi profanum vulgus !'


JOE. (With a threatening flourish of his crutch,) Et arceo.' USHER. 'Servant of Bacchus, I, the priest of the muses, (sacerdos musarum,) command you to depart from these bounds.'

JOE. · Μαντι κακων - prophet of evil, never have you spoken to me a good word. By Hercules! Joseph Haywood will not budge an inch!'

USHER. 'Joe, Joe, vex me not with words, neither contend with me, for I am better than thou; as it is said in the first book of the Iliad;' (complacently chuckling.)

JOE. In veritate fictum est. In very truth it is false. Volo scias domine, I wish you to know, Sir, that I do not r-r-reconcile your pretensions. Oh! you bibber of the juices of Madeira!

you root-dig

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

you ——'

ger! you pedagogue! — you USHER. (Calling the sawyer,) R-richard, r-remove the poor-r wr-retch fr-rom the grounds! (rolling all the r's.)


JOE. 'Sir, give me a sixpence to have my beard taken off, and I will go.'

USHER. Sir-rah, no!'

Here Mr. put an abrupt stop to the conversation, for he allowed himself to exchange but few words with Joe, and that only for the purpose of displaying his pedantry; and Richard the wood-sawyer, with as much kindness as the executive nature of his office would admit, assisted him to depart from the grounds. And there was generally no resistance on his part to authorities. His familiar impudence vented itself until checked, and no farther; and then he would go quietly about his business, until it was time to come round again.

On the approach of winter, he went into barracks at the county poor-house, having first levied a contribution on the public, to supply him with his daily can. But he crawled forth with the first mild breath of spring, and might be found asleep upon a premature green bank, with a rum-bottle in each pocket, or wide awake, and chaunting some ancient lyric.

Oh! rare Joe Haywood! Most tolerant and most tolerable of drunkards! toper of topers! most Bacchic! most classical! most poetical! Surely, I never used to behold thee with disgust. The exits and the entrances of thy vinous visage gave variety to the first scenes of the first acts of the comedy of my life. You are too much

linked and woven with other scenes and remembrances, to be forgotten. When I think of you, reclining against some old tree in the play-grounds, surrounded by your young friends, as you used to call them, doling from moist lips the poetic garnerings of your unwasted treasury, collected at your own HARROW, and in time of boyhood, or in moments of partial ebriety, with bitter tears recounting the past, then comes up again all that familiar group of familiar faces, and with these a thousand scenes in which they bore their part. Your draughts, it is true, were deep, and often repeated; and for that reason, it is well that you flourished when you did. Perhaps no mercy had been shown you now; no milk of human kindness mingled in your cup; no mantle of charity thrown over your sins. Methinks, if I could find out by what hedge or by-way you were laid, I should be inclined to drag some rough slab upon the mound, and in no

'Florid prose, or honeyed lies of rhyme,'

but in good old style, and in the spirit of all truth, I would scratch upon it thus:





LISTEN! A stately bark, at early morn,
Her sails well trimmed, put forth upon the tide,
Without a rudder to direct her course.
Onward she swept, o'er the pellucid wave,
The wooing air soft breathing 'mong her sails,
The waters flashing round her venturous prow.
At evening, when the red, o'er wearied sun
Went down rejoicing to his ocean bed,
A streak of cloud on the horizon rose,
Such as the seaman's practised eye discerns,
Unwelcome harbinger of coming storm.

New-York, January, 1839.

Now moaned the winds, and onward drave the gale,
O'er vast expanse goading his murky steeds;
And hark! the crash! From distant fields of air,
Cleaving the darkness with its arrowy flash,
A fiery bolt swept low above the deck,
And blazing cordage, sail, and riven mast,
All headlong toppled o'er her straining side.
O night of dread! There rode she, tempest-driven,
Nor guiding helm the tossing bark obeyed;
While from the deep the syren waves arose,
And twining round her prow their circling arms,
Strove to enfold her in their dark embrace.
Morn broke in glory o'er the wreck-strewn tide;
Among the clouds the hushed winds folded lay,
Slowly the mists upcurled them from the wave,
And black and blasted there, the once proud bark,
A worthless hulk, lay on the sleeping waters.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

I AM often disposed to sum up all my philosophy in the simple precept, 'See things as they are.' If I were to reduce my efforts to a single aim, it would be to live in reality;' to be rid of the phantasms and illusions of life. Mankind seem, to my view, so little aware of the realities in and about them, that to this, their most prevailing error, I ascribe their greatest misfortunes. I behold the world in pursuit of gilded phantoms, in love with shadows, and I ask if there is, indeed, nothing real, substantial, intrinsic, to embrace. I behold man the sport of chance; his character the result of adventitious circumstances. I see him truckling to the world; dependent upon its capricious charities for his happiness; and I see him become the image of its frown. I see him in the hot chase for wealth, station, fame, and either sinking on the course, or dropping for ever from his impotent grasp the prize, but just now, and so hardly, won. And I ask again, Is there no reality; nothing permanent, nothing sure, which man can obtain ? Is he, alas! the creature of times and situations; more transitory than the world, and its slave? Is happiness a goddess in pursuit, but a cloud in possession?'


To live in reality, is to keep constantly before the mind, as the guide of life, the sober convictions of the understanding. It is to know at all times, what we know surely, at some. It is to feel our con

« ForrigeFortsett »